Saturday, November 26, 2011

‘Goodbye’ Seems To Be An Equally Challenging Word

I’ve always struggled with saying ‘goodbye’. I pretend to be blasé about farewelling people, but I find something about it particularly confronting.

It’s been that way forever. When I was young I had an elaborate, superstition fuelled system of dealing with it – whenever I went to bed, after all the ‘goodnights’ the last thing my parents and I were each allowed to say was ‘see you in the morning’. I was very insistent on this, terrified in fact that if someone didn’t say it there was the clear and present danger that we may not see each other again. I’d get very upset when Mother and Father Painefull refused to play along. After a while Mum used to rebut my demands:

Young Painefull: You have to say ‘see you in the morning’.
Mother Painefull: But what if I don’t see you in the morning.
Young Painefull: I’ll see you in the morning mum.
Mother Painefull: Maybe you will.
Young Painefull: Muuuuuuum!
Mother Painefull: Well you might not. I might not see you. I might die in my sleep.

It was a chilling, but retrospectively hilarious response, probably intended to knock some of the OCD tendencies out of a fixation-prone 9 year old. As Mother Painefull now knows definitively, you can take the girl out of the paranoia, but you can’t take the paranoia out of the girl.

Since then I’ve attempted to become a grown up/manage my various goodbye-based tics so they are invisible to the naked eye. In fact it’d been years since anyone noticed how unconsciously systematic I’ve become with farewells when, several weeks ago, my colleague LJ pointed out that I always exited the office in exactly the same way. I start and finish work earlier than most of the others, and it’s become apparent that as I walk out I hit some invisible line in the ground at which I pivot and back away, so I still face everyone I’m leaving behind. As I do this I also apparently deliver a stream of last minute thoughts of the day, as if parting has turned me into some philosopher of the non sequitur. Having had this habit pointed out to me I am, of course, trying to breaking it. It’s proving a difficult nut (much like myself) to crack.

Since then I’ve started to re-notice how much time I spend lingering in doorways great and small as I attempt to walk out of them, and how shamefully difficult I make it for people to sign off on the phone. Whenever I sign off after an epic email exchange with Livinia (who currently resides with her Lover in Germany) it’s with the one word subject line ‘Goodnight!’… and then I’m ashamed to say I sit patiently for 5 minutes by my antique laptop to make sure she replies with her own variation on the term (usually with some showy German language touch) before switching off and actually heading to bed.

Clearly I still have issues with Goodbye.

My workplace went on hiatus yesterday. It’s strange to think I won’t be back in the office with those people for 5 weeks, stranger still to realise I’ll never see some of those people in that office again. I feel the old twinges again, the returned realization that things rarely make sense, are hardly ever entirely fair, and are almost completely out of my control (mixed in with a weird hint of survivor’s guilt).

Of course television is one of the cruelest mediums when it comes to sending people packing. It’s also the industry where you will always run back in to the people you know somewhere around the bend.

So, until then, au revoir, aufidersen, adios, sayonara, goodbye.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dawson’s Creek Revisited

Teen-dom is a well trodden path of bad fashion, hormone driven miss-judgments and awkward hair. It’s been that way for eons – these are the kind of mistakes that people have never stopped making. The Roman empire is about what happens when you wear togas (you look stupid), Romeo & Juliet is a giant warning on what occurs if you ignore your parents (Cliffs Note: you die), and the 80’s suggests what to expect when you insist on a perm (people pretend you didn’t happen at all).

My ill-communicated point is there are some universal experiences and lessons we all take away from the haze of miss-spent youth. There’s also one universal teacher each of us fell back on at one point or another. Television. And to each generation a program is born that comes to define what we expect from our school days.

For my older sisters it was 90210. To those that came after me it was The O.C. Currently I believe the young things are all about that Girl… who Gossips…

For me it was that bastion of ridiculous self-awareness and over-sized sweaters, Dawson’s Creek.

I’m not ashamed to say that show gave me almost all of my unrealistic expectations of teenage life – I assumed men would duel for my affection, I suspected (and my mother hoped) my tomboy ways were just a disguise for my ‘hidden beauty’, and could only dream that at 16 I to could suffer from an existential crisis. Of course, like all good teen soaps, its incestuous plot lines and the fact that they all had to leave school eventually, meant the show pretty much became a shadow of it’s former self before bowing out in a blaze of flash-forwarding glory.

But we few, we lucky few, we band of easily moved girls, still swoon at the concept of Dawson, Joey, Pacey and the gang.

A week ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I dove back in to the Creek. In one scene (season 4) 17 year old Dawson (with the 5 o’clock shadow of a man in his late 20’s) talks to his seasonal love interest, Pacey’s sister (this was when they started inventing new, thus far unseen relatives for the characters to expand the plotlines) and says:

At the risk of sounding trite, it’s good to see you.

I paused then and there and tried to figure out if I’d EVER used the word ‘trite’ in a conversation before. I had not. This came after Pacey, supposedly the dullest crayon in the casting box, delivered this piece of dialogue:

Just what would we be missing from the land of poorly scripted melodramas, huh? Recycled plot lines, tiresome self-realizations. You throw in the occasional downward spiral of a dear friend, and maybe a baby here and a death there and all you've really got is a recipe for some soul sucking, mind numbing ennui, and I for one could skip it.

Hilarious post-modern wink to the audience aside, I can honestly say I would actively avoid verbalizing the word ‘ennui’ simply out of fear I would miss-use it.

But aside from vocabulary intimidation, the belated realization that James Van Der Beek has a generously sized forehead, and the retrospective knowledge that Katie Holmes was cruising for a career highlight via marriage, I found myself sucked right back in to all things Dawsonian – it was like I never left.

I thought I should hide the dvd rental case from visitors, but upon seeing it all Sammy had to say was “You don’t need to rent it. I have the box set at home, just let me know what you need.”

It’s good to know I’m not the only one that just can’t seem to fully quit that show. How could you ever hate a program that allows a character in the 1st season finale to say:

Cliffhanger? Come on, Dawson. You of all people should know that a cliffhanger is merely a manipulative TV standard designed to improve ratings.

It can’t be denied, there is still wisdom to be found in such a show.

Painefull Out

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Splitting the Jean

I, like all people, have particular talents. I’m skilled in the art of putting things off, I’ve become a black belt at sleeping in, and consider the craft of stomaching the same pasta dish for 4 days straight well mastered. And now I can add a new and very particular ability to my beige resume of defects, it’s one I’ve had all along and have only just recognized.

I will rip a hole in my pants at the single, most inopportune time available.

These are not stylish, mid-90’s ‘fashionable’ rips, and I swear, I can and will do it anywhere. To take you through some of my greatest hits:

School Camp 1997
I was the girl who, perhaps through becoming a touch over-committed to a game of handball, tore my shorts asunder mid-match before the eyes of numerous peers. Joyous occasion – it’s a moment every 12 year old craves.

London Train 2007
Having set out for the day to explore the city via an initial lengthy train trip I finally managed to snag a seat in the packed public transport… which it turns out was unfortunate. Who can create a seam line perforation along the length of the inner thigh of a pair of jeans? I can.

2011 alone has been a banner year...

Walking to Class
Nothing makes you concentrate harder on how you’re seated in class quite like tearing your jeans while attacking a staircase on your way to the tutorial room.

At Work
Just a few weeks ago, a mere hour and a half into my working day, I was rushing about the office and upon returning to my chair the sound of denim ripping (definitely louder than the sound of one hand clapping) filled the air. I can tell you with authority, it is a challenge to figure out how much of you is now visible through the new vent in your pants while remaining seated at a desk.

For the Sake of Unplanned Illustration
While then telling this tale to a pair of disbelieving friends, I then hopped into a car with them and promptly tore the shorts I was wearing.

I’m like the black widow of garments. If I was a male stripper ripping my pants off would be considered something of a selling point. As it is I guess I’ll have to settle with doing my bit for the denim economy.

Painefull Out