I guess the biggest thing I don’t understand is quite simply – myself. I know these are the years where I’m suppose to be getting to grips with who I am and building the adult I’m going to be for the rest of my life…but I well and truly have no shitting idea how the fuck I’m suppose to do that when I do not understand one single thing about myself.
I don’t understand why some days I am a warrior and others a complete mess, why I take pleasure in breaking myself down but try my best not to let anyone else get too close. I don’t understand why the outside world terrifies me, almost as much as the confines of my own house. I don’t understand how I became ‘The Girl of a Thousand Chances’ or how my body ended up shaped like a doormat. I don’t understand the choices I make in who gets to step on me and who I try to keep at arm’s length. I don’t understand how someone can work so hard to stay here and still have no drive to move. I don’t understand how I can be filled with so much passion for so many things, but possess no ambition to reach out and take. I have no idea what I’m doing with my time, my day or my life.
I don’t understand how I’m supposed to build myself in to a functioning member of society when these are the building blocks I have.
I don’t have a favourite song. I know everybody says that, but I really don’t. I have a collection of songs that have always meant a lot to me over the years, there are certain songs I dance most to and songs that relax me. There are songs that pull me back in to my memories and songs that make me think about the future. There are new songs in the charts that I can’t stop listening to and old songs that I rediscover every once in a while. There are songs I grew up with and songs I found purely by accident. Actually, I think my music taste is made up from just a large collection of my ‘favourite songs’ – but then, isn’t everyone’s?
So…I’ll go for a song that I love at the moment.
How to Save a Life by The Fray. Like REM’s Everybody Hurts people think this is one of those pointlessly depressing songs. Well, if you think that then it means you’ve never needed a song like this – and you should think yourself lucky for that. The truth is that this song actually contains a lot of hope. If you’ve even seen the video you’ll know it goes through some of the steps of experiencing and recovering from loss, depression, sorrow, guilt etc. It’s a comfort, really, almost a sort of ribbon that ties together those lost in themselves and those who feel left behind. If you’ve ever lost someone close you’ll know that no matter what the circumstances of that loss, you feel a tremendous weight of guilt. This is one of, if not the only (mainstream) songs I know of that addresses that feeling. There are plenty of songs for those still clinging on, but this track is a beautiful and real apology for those who feel like they didn’t reach their hand out further enough.
I know a lot of people think that listening to ‘sad songs’ when you’re going through something traumatic and hurtful will only hinder the process of recovery and drag you down further, but that’s not the case at all. These so called ‘sad songs’ are often the ones that bring us the most release. The words can push things in to your mind that you’ve shoved to the back for perhaps longer than necessary, forcing you to feel what you obviously need to feel.
How to Save a Life is real, honest and moving. It works for people in different ways, as music generally does, but for me it’s a reminder that I’m not in this alone, because no matter how we acquired our demons, we fight them off the same.
I find Salvador Dali (or Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dali i Domènech) to be a terribly fascinating human being, and mostly because he was and is such a mystery to so many people. From his quotes and interviews it seems as though he never did like to give clear answers, almost as if he himself wanted to appear as surreal as his work.
I’ve loved Dali’s work from a very young age. My dad had two small prints framed in our old flat, and I used to sit and stare at them, before I had any serious concept of art or its many variations, and wonder what could be happening. The piece I remember staring at most is ‘Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening’. My imagination, as young and limitless as it was, didn’t know what to do with such an image. Before I learned the title of the piece or its meaning, I used to wonder what this woman had done to anger all these strange creatures that were apparently after her.
As I grew older I began to look more in depth in to Dali’s life and work. Some of his early life was actually quite heartbreaking, and like most artists it was the parents that loosened the first few screws (I’m not saying Dali was crazy – just that his parents helped him get a little fucked up – as parents so often do). Despite this, he loved his parents a great deal, and when his mother died it tore through him with a pain I am all too familiar with. Art helped him to cope. It helped him to create his own world when the one around him made no sense. It was his escape. He could make up his own rules, show whatever side of himself he felt like and display his emotions with any imagery he wanted – without having to explain himself to anyone.
I can relate to Dali and his work quite a lot. Getting lost is something writers, like artists, live for. It’s our strongest tool but also our greatest downfall, and it can often be hard to keep a hold of yourself. He taught me to make things for myself, to not care if it made sense to anyone else as long as it made me happy. I live by some of his quotes.
“Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.”
“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.”
“Everything alters me, but nothing changes me.”
I think Salvador Dali is one of the most fascinating artists and people who ever lived. He took the complexity of the human brain, of life and emotion and everything that makes a person move and turned it in to some of the most magnificent art.
I know I’ve been a little bit heavy on the last three challenges (“Really? You? Never!”) so I’m actually pretty excited that this subject has come up – because talking about movies is something that really makes me happy.
People who love movies usually have problems pinning down their favourite, because cinema is such a vast and diverse world that it can be hard to pin down just one. Not for me. There is one clear winner when it comes to my favourite movie and it’s always been right at the top of the list since I first saw it at the ripe old age of seven.
Jaws! I absolutely love this film. Admittedly, I’ve never read the novel by Peter Benchley. I think I’m scared of it taking something away from the film – and I love it far too much to let that happen. I can still remember the very first time I ever saw it. I remember being totally entranced by it, the music, the suspense and the terror of finally seeing the shark (which doesn’t actually happen until about half way through the movie). I remember the look of excitement on my dad’s face as he kept his eyes glued to my every expression. I imagine it’s the look I’ll have when I show my kids this movie for the first time.
One of the things that makes Jaws so great is its production. Nothing like this had ever been done before from the camera work and sound to the building of the shark itself. The actors are incredible and I couldn’t imagine any other people playing these characters. There are so many scenes and lines that are just perfection. One of my favourites is on the Orca, at night, just before Jaws attacks when the Chief, Hooper and Quint are laughing and singing and swapping scar stories. The speech Quint gives about being on the Indianapolis was actually re-written a few times, the last being by Robert Shaw (the actor who played Quint) himself. The atmosphere as he speaks, the tension and sadness in his voice, and the silence from the others, makes that scene truly brilliant.
Jaws is such an atmospheric film and I don’t think a lot of people really appreciate that. I suppose it takes something away from it with each generation, but still that movie is a masterpiece of suspense. John Williams, who wrote the music for the film, did such an epic job. He created a theme tune recognised the world over, a beautiful and completely haunting introduction to one of the most destructive and terrifying monsters in movie history.
For me, the scene where the chief is shooting at the air tank in the shark’s mouth is one of the most amazing, gripping, thrilling, seat grabbing scenes in cinematic history. You feel every shot he misses and the restless urge for him to kill the monster is enough to make any movie lover crazy. I still feel it, even after watching the film god knows how many times.
Jaws is a classic, and there is nothing out there like it – nor will there ever be. It’s timeless. Perfect, made even more so for the flaws and struggles it took to get the film finished (something I guess you can’t appreciate unless you know the whole tale). It was bigger than The Sound of Music, Gone With The Wind and even bigger than the Godfather movies.
To me, it’s a representation of what makes a movie amazing – blood, sweat, tears and one hell of a story line.