Et tu, Cabernet*

 

23550133_10155228276936872_2160575790951542820_o
Me and wine, back in the good times.

I have to give up drinking.

EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER SEEN ME DRUNK: Yeah, we know!

NOT FOR THAT REASON.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: So, not because Drunk You will casually spend 20 quid on a full meal and then eat it from a plastic bag on the dance floor?

NO.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: And not because Drunk You is a terrible flirt, as in, all you do is either lurk around the poor bloke or LITERALLY SAY THE WORDS “oh my god I actually got lost in your eyes!”

Mmm. Well, not not that.

E.W.H.E.S.M.D.: Because you realised that you were using alcohol as a social prop that really, as a generally self-confident adult woman, you really shouldn’t need?

Of course not!

No, my brain does this thing every so often where if I have too much to drink, either a) I wake up with a hangover and eat a lot of breakfast and think about the terrible decisions I made, or b) I wake up with a hangover and then have an epileptic seizure and black out and come to with a room full of hunky paramedics and all my loved ones standing around me looking very, very upset.

Option b) is pretty rare but having happened roughly three times in three years, I think enough might be enough.

It’s tricky though, because I have zero memory of any of the seizures, just their aftermath, and what anyone nearby at the time has said, so the idea of changing my behaviour because of something I can’t at all remember, and which forms no part of my experience, is like if your friends said “hi, we just watched Psycho and we’d rather you never took showers again, please, we’re very frightened.”

Okay maybe it’s not quite like that, at all. But it’s still a hard habit to kick when all that you really remember is a mad and dreamlike day; the last one was here in Berlin, at my still very new boyfriend’s place, and most of the day I was just left on a trolley in a hospital in Neukolln with my boyfriend not allowed to come in with me, and I had to explain everything in German even though my head was really foggy and no one had even the slightest sense of humour, even though the seizure happened while we were having sex so at first BF thought that he was just crushin’ it before realising something terrible was going on, which is objectively hilarious. You know what, it was actually a rubbish day, seizures aren’t at all up to the hype and aren’t worth the visit really.

Anyway, it means I have to give up drinking, pretty much forever, unless I find myself jonesing for a seizure for some reason. So I’m searching for a brand new vice, everyone! Please suggest a new guilty pleasure in the comments below, ideally, lo-to-no cost and legal. I need to stay fun somehow.

 

*okay so I captioned this one Et tu cabernet like et tu brute because the first time I went in to hospital after having had a fit my brother was like “maybe you should eat something light, like a Seizure Salad” and I thought it was hilarious and so was going to name it something similar but then went for a Caesar reference even though on a second look that makes zero sense unless you are me. GOOD

Lizard Man

Lizard Man

I hardly slept last night because everything was too funny. Yes, everything.

Okay so to begin with, I need to tell you about my first ever stand-up gig in Berlin. I’d been here a week and got sick in record time. I woke up the morning of the gig and tried to yawn and some kind of hoarse ancestral howl came out instead. “Oh!” I thought. “Well, as long as I don’t have to say any audible words during my stand-up set, we’ll be fine.”

My solution was to cobble together a really high-energy routine and undercut it by wearing a bathrobe and coughing a lot, and then just hope that the steady and unwavering stream of snot making its way down my face wouldn’t affect my stage presence too much. You know: comedy.

Once I staggered to the venue it was clear that it was not at all the right crowd. They were chatty and sarky and it occurred to me to be very terrified. I backtracked from the original idea, got up on stage, and realised that this now meant that I had nothing prepared. But was still wearing the bathrobe with a box of tissues stuffed into the pocket because obviously that part was rock solid.

Of course, I bombed. In a bathrobe. I somehow sounded both way too sick and not sick enough, I was all over the place, I popped weird German painkillers onstage.

 

DSC_0487.jpg
this is actually how i went onstage

After the show, I was chatting to some of the other acts, who were being quite sweet about how terribly I’d done. A young bloke came up to me and said “I really enjoyed your set – it was – you know, there was something very poetic about it…”

He was quite charming, very talkative. As he spoke, I was running the numbers: he was in his twenties, I guess quite attractive, I was obviously gross and sick, but then it was a very dark room…

Then I came back to the conversation and heard him say: “So, I’m still somewhat sceptical, I’m still reading about the lizard people theory; in my view, perhaps Donald Trump isn’t a lizard man in a skin suit per se, but certainly a snake or an insect person…”

Ah.

So that gig was pretty much a total failure, (or not quite – I did get friended by Lizard Man on Facebook) but it was as good a way as any to get my start on stage here. I didn’t take it too much to heart – that was a month ago now and I’ve done many more successful gigs since then, in a newly-created character of a healthy person.

Last night, I was up at Monday Night Mics, my tenth gig in Berlin. Someone from university I hadn’t seen in years came along, which was a little surreal, but really lovely. (Shout out to Chris!)

I go up and do my act, effectively, lot of stories about dating, my rubbish taste in men, and my Berlin romances so far, of which there have been, surprisingly, any!

Partway through my set, a guy walks in. It’s dark but it looks like a guy I’ve been seeing here. “Ah, that’s sweet of him,” I think. He goes and sits down at the back as I finish my set with a joke about that weird lizard man guy I met after my first gig here. Pleased with how I’ve done, I bound towards the back of the room and it’s only when I’m a step from my seat that I realise that this wasn’t my guy, but Lizard Man himself.

“Oh, God!” I announce to no one.

Lizard Man is already coming up to me, greeting me, and I can’t tell if his tone is angry or amused or reptilian.

But he smiles and says, “You can use me in your comedy anytime.”

Phew!

“…It’s actually really good that you’re giving this theory more exposure…”

Ah.

Soon I’m trapped in his own private discussion of the merits of comedy for spreading conspiracy theories, which he is going into with a Quentin Tarantino-style intensity while Chris has uselessly gone off to bum cigarettes from strangers.

I eventually extract myself and run to the toilets, where I text Chris “Omg please save me from lizard man”. This is a request that he either doesn’t see or interprets somewhat creatively, as when I come back from the bathroom, the two of them – Chris from my year at university, and Lizard Man – are playing table football together.

You know: comedy.

Okay

Okay

So those four weeks sure flew by didn’t they?

I was tempted to berate myself for publishing roughly 20 fewer posts than I’d intended to by this stage but guys, I am just TOO GOOD at having adventures. Somehow, sandwiched in between two really rotten colds, I have managed to do something like nine gigs, meet two celebrities, have several **romantic experiences**, make a short film, electrocute myself once and yet take so few photos on my malfunctioning phone that all I have to show for it is the following video that my Sony Xperia helpfully put together from the pictures I happened to get in my first week. (It is honestly a masterpiece, please turn up the volume to watch what my phone’s AI considers “human music”.)

Frustratingly for me, as a comic and sometime-filmmaker, this film is the best thing I’ve never made, as well as being such a bitchy thing for my phone to do. Congrats to Sony.

Catch you later when I’ve written some more stuff okaaaaaay

 

Girl, Unsupervised

(Obviously I was going to title this post A Broad Abroad for those of you who love puns but then I realised that there were inevitably going to be like 4,000 blogs called that and because I am writing this in an extremely trendy coffee place I didn’t want passing Berliners to see that title and be like “pfft, so derivative” and then like flip their hair at me)

Two days ago, journalist Deniz Yücel was allowed to return to Germany after having been detained in Turkey for a year, enduring solitary confinement and conditions which he described as “almost like torture”.

This story struck me as particularly timely, bringing to light as it does the value of a free press and international diplomacy, but it also resonated with me on a more personal level: to this date, I have spent three and a half days living alone, without WiFi.

I know. I know

I’m currently staying in a flat in Treptow that belongs to my dear friend, and principal go-on-then-move-to-Berlin cheerleader, Rafael, while he is away. It’s a very sweet little place, it has a door, I can put things in it – I feel like a real person, with a real Berlin apartment!

Now, you’re probably thinking, “but Josie, if it doesn’t have WiFi, how are you writing this, or are even still alive and not dying of eating some weird poisonous herbs like that guy in Into The Wild?” And the answer is: yes.

I did consider dying of eating some weird poisonous herbs, because I thought it would just make a really cool and great story, until I remembered that it had already been done by that guy in Into The Wild, so I just left the house instead. (I am writing this from Wolf Kino, a cool cinema that Rafael recommended, and wrote down the name of, on a piece of paper. Just like in the past!)

In fact, it hasn’t been too bad, thank you for asking. I’m quite comfortable with my own company, and you know, being a little bit isolated has a lot of perks. I can take baths with the door open, can get up in the middle of the night to make tea, and I have all the time in the world to think about things like Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, and who knew about Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, and whether I would have been invited to Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding, if I were friends with Amy Schumer.

I’d forgotten how as soon as I am on my own I become a massive hypochondriac, but it is much, much less satisfying to be a hypochondriac if you can’t Google your symptoms. You just have to assume you will probably die in the night, and although that sounds bleak, it really gives you a boost in the morning. (Yes! I beat imaginary diphtheria! Twice!!)

Something about living alone also always leads me to try and cut my own hair, because dammit, if both Franka Potente AND Julia Stiles could do it in the Bourne films, why can’t I? (It is this uncanny ability to distinguish between reality and fiction that has allowed me to make a series of well-thought-out life choices.)

waaargh
I don’t have a photo of Franka Potente but this is me the first time I cut my hair, with blunt scissors, in the dark. And also it was halloween, come on you guys obviously i didn’t walk around like this the whole time i am clearly dressed up as an essay crisis

Anyway, I’m taking a secret sort of pleasure in it for now. It makes me feel like everything I do is a little more romantic. Especially Tinder. It really adds suspense and drama when you can only steal fleeting moments on the IM when you’re in a coffee shop, or, as I frequently am, at the underground budget supermarket across the road. Truly, there is nothing sweeter than skulking around the canned soup aisle, trying to flirt with someone in GCSE-level German. (It did work though. We play tennis on the weekend, after I go to the park with my girlfriends.)

Also if anyone has any insight on this Amy Schumer wedding business please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Business or Pleasure?

Valentine’s Day can be rough as a single person, but I’ve always loved it. It is like a festival of bitterness. As a confirmed bachelorette, I’ve only had one Valentine’s Day in a couple and although it was, you know, lovely – I got a song played to me on a ukelele as a surprise and I completely freaked out and splurged on a mediocre prix fixe – it just didn’t feel like it was really in the spirit of the thing.

For me, the rule is: the bleaker, the better, and Valentine’s Day 2017 was an absolute cracker. I had just been dumped, had no job, my house was so cold it was like it was trying to attack me. Although I did get some post, it was just a letter from the NHS inviting me to book a pap smear. (It’s the thought that counts.)

true romance
My cervix brings all the boys to the yard / and they’re like / “Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 49 every three years.”

Valentine’s Day 2018, though, I really wanted to treat myself. #Galentines! So I ran away from all of my problems to start a new life in Berlin.

This had started out as a Lovely Thought at some stage last year. Oh, such a Lovely Thought! The kind of thought you lovingly pore over as you go to sleep at night. The kind of thought you carry around with you like a comfort blanket. The kind of thought you imagine fixing everything – this thought will make you more beautiful, more successful, it will make all of your ex-partners and school bullies and rivals jealous and obsessed and you won’t even CARE because of how lovely the thought is.

It could have stayed a Lovely Thought, absolutely it could have done. When I die, you will find in all 15,000 of my To-Do Lists a perfect and intricate account of everything I meant to do but never got around to doing. Just ask my yoga mat.

So when all of a sudden I found myself on the 09:10 flight to Tegel on Wednesday, I was more surprised than any of you. “Aha!” I thought, “I guess I wasn’t joking.” As the plane took off, I started to giggle. Helplessly. I was wiping tears from my eyes. I don’t know what the other passengers must have thought – probably that I was drunk, or it was my first time on a plane, or I was really enjoying the Eurowings sick-bags which said “Don’t worry, we won’t take it personally” on them in English and German.

But I had to laugh, because somehow, I had gotten away with it. This ridiculous plan to just pack up and go because I fancied it. That’s not how life works, doing things because you fancy them. The structure of society, of politics, of bureaucracy, does not allow for it. Nowhere on immigration forms or job applications or marriage certificates is it acceptable to list your purpose as “Just Because I Felt Like It, Really”. And yet here I was, with my one-way ticket and a case full of weird oversized navy clothes, cackling away to myself and with no reason at all to be there besides wanting to be happy and thinking I might as well do something about it.

(Obviously, I was also giggling because of the sick-bags. That was a solid joke.)

What do you do in your spare time?

Great question, thank you for asking! Here’s a choice few activities.

  • Roast rotting bits of broccoli
  • Pick up items and put them down again
  • Eat a dry cracker
  • Examine the skin on my legs
  • “What if I went for a run?”
  • Struggle to open sock drawer
  • Text between one and two brothers The Simpsons quotes
  • Think that maybe it’s really someone else’s turn to clean the shower
  • Wine
  • Struggle to open freezer drawer
  • “I can’t afford it! But okay”
  • Eat a piece of bread
  • Wonder what body shape I am
  • Is “sausage, but with a big butt” a body shape?
  • Would that just look a bit like a dick?
  • Is my body shape actually just a silhouette of a dick?
  • Google pictures of French actresses
  • Think about getting my hair done
  • Check my bank balance
  • Why did I check my bank balance?
  • Decide it is maybe time to grow my hair out
  • Decide that maybe it is time to cut my hair myself
  • Decide that I am tired now actually
  • Eat a piece of bread
  • Slowly wait for the sun to go down
  • Hang with my girlllllss 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hope this helps!!

xoxo

Reception

Reception

I’m a receptionist now. I get to sit and answer phones and eat lunch at a desk!

It’s not all fun and games, though. It’s a surprisingly difficult job for a woman to do. For one thing: everyone is frustrated that they cannot have sex with you, so you have to act a bit like they could do, if they weren’t so awful. Because the art of femininity doesn’t come that naturally to me, I have to really put the effort in and it’s stressful. I’ll be sitting at my desk (see above), brain full of thoughts and feelings and plans to secretly eat all the office snacks over the kitchen sink when no one is looking, when – suddenly! – I have to transform into “Lady Receptionist”. This sounds like a terribly ineffective superhero name, which is fitting, as I am a terribly ineffective receptionist. Possible reasons for this include that I am afraid to lie for people, I don’t like looking after people I don’t already like, and since I stopped drinking milk I make awful, awful tea. On the plus side: at least you know that when I seem to be a complete mess, I really am a complete mess. I do what it says on the tin.

But after six months, I’ve learned a thing or two. So, for anyone who is looking to step down their receptionist game, look no further! Here are some tips.

Lady Receptionist Pro-Tips

  1. Nails. Either get enormous fake nails put on so that you look like a Classic Lady Receptionist, alongside some cat eye glasses, so that you can’t actually use the keys, or perform any of the other myriad physical tasks clumsily lumped in with your job description. “Please change these lightbulbs/clear out this office/wrap this gift for me.” Sorry, no can do, I have mauve talons now. Alternatively: entirely remove nails altogether, and just go with raw gummy flesh there instead. It’s a bold look but might save you time ripping them out by accident later on.
  2. Smile. But not too much, so you don’t look like you’re laughing at them. Not all the time, so you look like a genuine, down-to-earth receptionist – you’re not like all those other receptionists. I prefer to alternate between a scowl and furrowed brow that says “I’m too busy for you!” and a wild-eyed, maniacal grin when you offer them tea and coffee knowing full well that you have run out of both.
  3. Cool, calm and collected. All of these are overrated. It is best that everyone knows that everything is a disaster, all the time. Otherwise, how will anyone know what a passable job you are doing, holding it all together?
  4. Professionalism at all times. Once a week, wear a really big ugly collared shirt and cartoonishly oversized suit trousers, so that you look like a baby businessman. After that, note the looks of relief on everyone’s faces when you go back to your shitty ordinary broken clothes.
  5. Take things with a pinch of salt. Also consider: sugar, trans fats, a big ol’ glass of wine. All useful remedies. I, personally, have started to branch out to include revenge, in a subtle, receptionist way, whereby I deliberately give you a smaller and less nice plain white IKEA mug. Ha, ha.
  6. Try to brighten people’s days. Maybe try to tell people jokes as you carefully bring them drinks, but make sure to mutter them quietly into your chest so that they have to ask you what you said, and then refuse to repeat it. They will *love* how mysterious you are!
  7. Be diligentIf you find yourself getting anxious, just remember that you need to do everything 100% perfectly, 100% of the time. No one will notice if you do, but boy, they sure will if you don’t!
  8. Be friendly and gregarious. “Hey, I love your shirt!” “Oh, uh, I just got it from H&M like five years ago.” “Okay, I will stop liking it then! Thanks!”
  9. And when all else fails… remember that that receptionist slug from Monster’s Inc. was also a receptionist, and everyone loves her, now.

slug

 

Wannabeing

lolbabyjosie
me, successfully pretending I know how to use a sound recorder. (Copyright Miss Edison 2014)

I love the BFI. I love it so much. I have loved it since I first stepped foot in it, some three years ago now. I love the high ceilings, the swish cafés, the gorgeous red seats in NFT1, and the shop – oh, the shop. For someone who once, as a teenager, sighed with longing for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and La Belle et la bête, neither of which were on sale at hmv Watford, a place which stocks everything from Georges Méliès DVDs to dorky film t-shirts to books on filmmakers from Abbas to Werner, it’s just heaven basically.

Plus, it’s got an incredible library. I’ve decided to make it my new place of work if I have to do something at all creative and pretend to myself that I am a wildly successful but also little-known filmmaker. I dress in my most creative-but-also-practical-because-I-am-just-here-to-work clothes, sashay up to the counter in the café, and in my most grown-up voice, order myself an “just an espressohh”. Working in a coffee shop is one way of being productive, because I suppose it gets you out of your house and the hubbub of the place can act as a sort of white noise. But when you are also surrounded by people you would like to be one day, you absolutely cannot drift onto Facebook, oh goodness me, no! You have to be working on your screenplay, or editing your latest film, or feverishly sending emails.

But one thing I have noticed when I have come here to read, write or just pay homage in my Sunday best, is that I am far from alone. While sipping my coffee and tapping away at something in a Courier New font, I take sly glances at the people around me and they’re doing exactly the same. Alone and yet altogether, we rake our fingers through our hair, visibly burdened by the weight of our genius. We love cinema but oh, how we suffer for it! (Does it show?)

It even comes through in people’s conversations. Not that I actively eavesdrop on other people, of course, and perhaps it’s the acoustics of the place – but you hear that air of “mm, yes, yes I do do film” in each carefully articulated phrase or better yet, pause to consider. “Hmm…yes, that could work.” That very quiet enjoyment of how impressive you might be to the other person, how clever and experienced and witty you sound.

Now, it could seem intolerable to be surrounded by people trying to sound clever and successful, and sometimes it is. It absolutely is. But it is also completely wonderful to realise that whatever age these people are, they’re all exactly the same as me – just faking it until, or even after, they make it. It’s just like that moment on the first film I worked on when, after having done our best to pull everything together and starting to film, we all at once realised we were making a film. A film! Us! And this excitement hit us all as though out of nowhere and we took a bunch of pictures of the slate, the set and the kit.

If people who have worked in the industry for years and years can still sound like they feel surprised and delighted to be where they are, making films for money, then please sign me up. I will be the one trying to order coffees in a weird voice.

Single, unemployed, and vegan.

suv
phwoar look at the mug on that

“Fucking January!” is something which my very wonderful and talented housemate Temi has been given to scream every so often over the last few weeks. She has been suffering through a pretty gruelling Veganuary experience – because, as she has reasoned, being single and unemployed is bad enough but being vegan on top of it all is just far, far too much. And since we’re apparently facing the end of Western civilisation as we know it (thanks Nigel, thanks Donald), now more than ever we should take pleasure in the simple glory of a very cheddar-heavy plate of cheese on toast.

As for me, I haven’t gone in for Dry January or an arbitrary health kick like that.

Instead, I thought I’d try to just completely change my life.

You know that feeling at Christmas and New Year’s parties, when you’re catching up with people for the first time in ages, and even before you leave the house, when you’re still working up the courage to use the confusing new toiletries you got as presents from a distant aunt, you’re anxious about answering the question: “what are you up to these days?” I’ve been in this very terrible and uncomfortable and very un-me shaped rut which, because it was not at all shaped like I am (sort of like a smallish pork chipolata, incidentally), it meant that I was starting to forget how to be who I am. And being miserable, but finding it hard to register any of it as my experience because it just was not me.

So, I thought it would be best to maybe extract myself and search for greener pastures. Unfortunately, when you have spent a long, long time not really concentrating on yourself, it gets quite hard to work out exactly what and where these pastures are, so I suppose what I’m saying is that I lumbered off in the general direction of what might bring me some sort of joy besides Meridian Crunchy Peanut Butter (the official peanut butter of this blog). It was always kind of obvious, hindsight being 20:20 and all that, but after some soul-searching I realised that this was quite clearly going to be directing films. This is terrifying, because I don’t know how to do it yet. But I also didn’t know how to speak French or make a curry or write a dissertation or design a set, at some stage, until I learned how because I really wanted to. And I really, really want to do this (when I am not being afraid). I want to make cool weird things like Obvious Child and Flight of the Conchords and everything Agnes Varda has ever done, which is why I can, and why I will. This might sound a bit childish and simplistic, but that’s because desire is often childish and simplistic, and it’s easiest to formulate them in that way.

This blog, newly renamed Making Of, is about this kind of focused wander in the direction of what I want to do and who I want to be, as is, I guess, everything ever written by everyone. Great. But when everyone else is starting their 2017 by depriving themselves of what they enjoy, why not begin my year by letting myself go after what I want?