Connections

February 27, 2011

I just returned from seeing my fifth film of the week. The Jameson Film festival is in full swing and being a bit of a cinema addict, I’ve taken full advantage of it this year. This week rather than write about myself I’ve decided to write about some of the relationships I came across in the films I saw this week.

On the opening night of the festival I went to see Submarine, directed by Richard Ayoade (the hot afro guy from the IT Crowd). The film is about two teenagers from the wilds of Wales getting together. Sounds like it could just be another teenage agnst filled romance film but it was so so much more.

The two main characters, Oliver Tate and Jordana Bevan aren’t exactly the stereotypical teenagers. They are both total odd balls in their own individual ways. Oliver is this deep thinking nerd who is always on the periphery. Jordana is a very dominating, intimidating girl who always seems to get her own way in life. Oliver has had a long standing obsession with Jordana. The film follows the story of their budding relationship.

What I absolutely loved about their story was it’s honesty and humour. For most of the film we watch Oliver’s various attempts at woe-ing Jordana which varies from trying to impress her with his knowledge of literature to creating a ‘love shrine’ in his parents bedroom  in the hopes of convincing her to sleep with him.

Oliver and Jordana’s relationship is such a pleasure to watch because it reminds me of what it’s like when you’re 17 and think you have life sussed. It reminds me of the very idealistic way of viewing the world I had at that age which has been dramatically altered over the proceeding 8 years. Oliver’s puppy like innocence against Jordana’s brutally cutting temperament made for hilarious viewing. It also put forward the idea of people learning from their first loves. Whether it’s mastering the art of seduction or learning how to mend a broken heart, Oliver and Jordana give a great (if albeit quirky) insight into ‘first time romances’.

The second film which deserves comment is Preludio, directed by Mexican director Eduar do Lucatero. This is an extraordinary film as it is just one long shot which is 64 mins in length. It’s the story of a guy and girl who meet randomly on the balcony of a house while a party is going on. The duration of the 64 minute film is their conversation.

I suppose this film is closest to my own stage in life at the moment. It was interesting to see how the couple’s conversation developed over the 64 mins. I think people like to think of themselves as rather original in conversations. After all, no two people are the same, each brings a different story to the table.

However, what I learned from this film is that often these type of boy/girl conversations seem to have a very similar format whether it be in Mexico, Ireland or perhaps anywhere else in the world. I have had a good few conversations just like this one. One person says one thing in the hopes it will spark something in the other person to gain their attention and respect. I suppose what you’re really looking for is a connection to another human being.

We learn a lot about the characters in the 64 mins. They go into great detail regarding past relationships. The fact that they both seemed preoccupied with others from the past seems to give them more freedom to express themselves in an open way. Neither went into the conversation thinking there is an agenda or an expectation that this was anything but a mere conversation.However, as the conversation moves on  a connection between the two starts to appear.

The film raises the idea of chance. You know the kind of thing, right place right time etc.. This is an idea that fascinates me. There have been incidents  in my life that do fall under this very same bracket but I have yet to have it in a relationship sense. I, being a bit of a dramatic romantic at times, think it would be kind of great to have one of these chance encounters. For instance, I would love to meet someone in a book shop or a music shop. Logistically, I haven’t quite figured out how a conversation would arise and in fact pan out but it’s some that somewhere that seems pleasant for a chance encounter. I must keep an eye out the next time I’m in Eason’s or HMV…

The last film was one that had a strong effect on me. Overall, it was not about relationships at all, it was a documentary about Method Acting.

It was called Self Made. The director (Gillian Wearing) put a notice in various media, asking for anyone to get in touch who wanted to be in a film where they could play themselves or a fictional character.

They had over 2,000 responses, where 7 people were eventually selected. The documentary follows the various stages of the method workshops the individuals go through. The audience is then shown a short film each person eventually acted in. From these workshops, the audience learns deeply personal/ emotional things about the participants. It is these emotions/ experience which they channel when acting their parts in their own personal films.

I will never fully do the documentary justice by trying to explain each individuals story so instead I will focus on one woman called Leslie.

Leslie was a woman from Newcastle who I would reckon was in her early forties. In the early workshops the audience learns she is very lonely. She has always hoped to get married and have children but it never happened. Throughout the workshops the Method teacher probes her as to the reasons behind why she never met anyone to settle down with. As the film goes on it becomes more and more uncomfortable to watch Leslie’s story because it is clear she is extremely unhappy.

The documentary reaches its most poignant when Leslie is to asked to quote the following:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day ?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

She cries throughout the entire monologue and when the Method teacher asks her why she says that she could never imagine anyone ever thinking that strong an emotion about her. To me, this was incredibly sad. In her forties, she had lost all hope of ever meeting anyone. When she was reminded of the fact that people out there do feel the sentiment of love the poem portrays she was moved to tears.

Her short film was really interesting. It was set in the 1940’s. She was playing a woman in her sixties who is walking down a country road. A man who she knows from the near by village comes up to her an offers to help her with her bags. The conversation moves on and it eventually materializes that he has been in love with her for years and tells her this.

What is extremely interesting is that Leslie and the other actor were improvising throughout. Leslie had the choice as to whether she would accept or decline the man in the film. She declined him in the end which was very powerful having known her own personal history from watching her workshops.

I found this particular story in the film really moving. Leslie seemed extremely lonely in life. To see how method acting channelled that emotion into something that changed an ordinary person in an incredible actor was really astonishing.

What’s common throughout these three films is that they are all about people trying to make connections with one another. I had a conversation with one of my friends today who astutely noted; Julie, you’re not looking for a boyfriend, you’re looking for a connection’. Maybe it’s the three films channeling this frame of thought into my emotional being but I have to say my good friend’s statement may be something worth taking note of….

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Once Upon a Vision…

February 20, 2011

It’s been a week where I was forced to reflect on myself a lot. Both my work life and my personal life placed me in a situation where I had to take stock of my actions and attitudes.

My good friend Claire is a journalist and wrote a very interesting article on ‘vision boards’. Basically, you put everything you aspire to in the near or distant future on a mood board type format. The idea is it will focus the mind, which will put you on the path to achieving everything you strive for in life.

I am a firm believer in the attitude that if you put your mind to something and you want to achieve  it enough, you will. Obviously, this comes after much hard work and perseverance but in the end I’d like to believe you will reach success. As I am from that frame of mind, the vision board idea appealed to me a lot.

Myself and Claire set about making vision boards this weekend. It is possibly one of the most girly activities I’ve participated in to date. In total, I’d say we spent 8 hours working the boards. Between flicking through lots of magazines, cutting out bits and pieces that took our fancy, setting it up the pieces on the board and then FINALLY sticking them on, we were occupied for most of the day. I was slightly slower than Claire as I was out the night before and felt extremely worse for wear…

Believe it or not,the whole process was very insightful and made me reflect on myself greatly. For the purposes of the blog, I won’t go into every nitty gritty part of the board. I’ll focus on the relationship area.

Apologies in advance for the poor quality of the photo. It seems my Nikon camera refuses to work properly under certain lighting conditions.Anyway, here’s the results of my 8 hours work:

The relationship area is down the bottom left hand corner (see close up below). My favourite image from the section is the one with the couple driving. I love the way she is looking at him in the photo. They seem so content and at ease. I shocked myself in also liking the fact that he was driving a car. I often like to think I put forward an image of a lady who is very much control of her own life. However, I suppose there is a small part of me that would like to be looked after by a guy, even if it’s just a quick drive in his car on Sundays.

I have a pair of glasses just below the couple shot. For some unknown reason, I really love guys with glasses. For that basic materialistic reason, I put them on the board. Yes, I’m that shallow….

I have a rather large photo of an engagement ring. I was quite worried it looked very materialistic but in truth, it’s actually there to remind me of my thoughts on marriage. If by some miracle I ever get to that stage, it would be my (maybe rather naive) hope that I would have the ring forever so I’d like it to be something I adored and reminded me of the person that chose it for me and the promise it symbolizes.

In saying that, it seems to me people sometimes don’t always fully understand the work and commitment that goes into a marriage. To some people, it’s more about the materialism of a day and a base level understanding of love that motivates them to get married. The reason I have the ring on the board is because, yes some day I hope to get married but I also hope I have the foresight and the emotional intelligence to know that marriage is a huge amount of work that needs constant attention to be a success.

Two other important areas of this section of the board are things that I would aspire to far into the future. I have a picture of a (very attractive) mother and her son. You’ll notice that everyone on my board is very good looking. I am in no way comparing myself to that genre of person but when you go through reams of fashion magazines, this is the reoccurring theme that tends to crop up.

Anyway, for yet another unknown reason, I have a huge desire to have boys as children. Of course, I would be perfectly happy with a girl but I have this odd logic that tells me that sons get on better with their mothers than daughters do. It is this odd way of thinking that made me place the photo on the board.

My other photos in the section, reflect the kind of home I hope to have some day. It’s all very Ikea-ish and not perhaps as cosy as I would have liked to convey. However the main components are all there. I would love a house full of books, DVD’s (or whatever the equivalent is by then), music, a nice fire and a dog. Anything more than that will be bonus. More than anything, I want it to feel like a proper home. When my kids go off to college and come home for the weekend, I want it to feel homely for them. This is something that I sometimes miss from my own life so I’d love my future to have this type of home in it.

You’ll notice there are pictures of flowers interspersed throughout the board. I am quite obsessed with flowers.  I often hear women complain that a guy giving a girl flowers is very cliché these days. I whole heartedly disagree. I have been given flowers a few times in my life and I can’t express the utter joy (yes I’m a loser) they have given me. I just love the thought process that goes into buying them. You have to consider the person’s tastes and personality before buying them (well before Interflora came along at least). To me, they are a really special gift, hence the presence on the board.

So there you have it, my present and future all on one A1 board. If you get a chance, I would really recommend doing a vision board. If anything, it’s good to focus the mind on things you’d like to change and things you want to achieve. If you’re not into all that ‘visioning’ mumbo jumbo, maybe just do it because you want something pleasant looking to hang on your wall. Either way, it’s a nice way to pass 8 hours over the weekend.

Single Person Awareness Day

February 14, 2011

As this blog is themed around the journey of the single person, one would imagine I would have something to say on Valentines Day.

Well today rather than say it, I’d want show what I have felt about my relationships/ random liaisons/ encounters etc… through a selection of photos that have a personal meaning to me.

Whether you are blissfully single or blissfully attached, I hope you had a lovely day.

***I want to credit my astute housemate for the title of the post. It is extremely apt!

You Win Some, You Lose Some

February 13, 2011

This week’s blog post is a difficult one to compose. When writing, I’m always conscious I don’t want to be that girl who moans about how inconsiderate and unfeeling men are. However there are times when it is almost impossible not to think this.

As my last blog post mentioned, I went out on a date with a guy who maybe was not the love of my life but he was someone I had an enjoyable night with and would have been interested in seeing him again.

Before I launch into my bitter diatribe, I should mention that I would like to think I have very good intuition. Be it with friends or guys, I could (or so I thought) read a situation rather well. This week this talent has proven rather questionable.

So as I mentioned, my date last week went well. There wasn’t a huge spark between us but we had a laugh. I would have been willing to see the guy again if the opportunity arose. As I thought we had got on ok, I sent him a text during the week referring to something we had talked about on the date.

This text was met with blanket silence. BLANKET SILENCE. Now, it may just be me but I would think that at age 30 (which this guy was) you have been round the mill enough times to know that although you may not be into the person who is texting you, it would be nice to have the common courtesy to text back and gently break this fact. But no, sadly this 30 year old did not have the mannerly where with all to send a brief to the point text of that nature.

This situation raises several questions in my mind. The first is, how could I have misread the situation that much? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I thought I’d found my future husband or soulmate. It was more I thought ‘that was a laugh, I’ll probably see him again’. But apparently I was alone in thinking this.

Secondly, how can guys be so incredibly rude? This is one thing I can not abide when it comes to meeting new people. I really don’t mind if they’re not that interested but have the common courtesy to allude to that fact when you interact with me. I can only put this trait down to a spinelessness that some men seem to be afflicted with. If someone can’t be upfront and polite I lose patience very quickly.

The last issue which is a slightly harder one to grapple with, is why I was not interesting/charming enough for this guy? Obviously the hope after a first date is that someone finds your company good enough to make them want to see you again. In my case this didn’t happen. Overall I would say I am a very confident person but incidents like this do unnerve me somewhat.

It is very easy to look at this situation and think what’s the point? Why do we bother going on random dates if we come away feeling bad about ourselves? Well, being honest when stuff like this arises, I do feel deflated by it. However, I do possess this weird eternal optimism that one day it will work out. I genuinely believe there is someone out there that I will fall head over heels for and they will feel the same back.

Incidents of rudeness/ rejection which I just described are all part of the journey. I think you need to experience these lows to make that high when you finally meet someone all the more special. I’m not going to say rejection or blanket silence is easy to accept, it’s not. However, I think it’s important to remember you can’t win everyone all of the time. Sometimes you gel with someone, sometimes you don’t. It’s not something you can take too personally, it’s just all part of the experience.

An Up-Date

February 7, 2011

It’s a week later and I am no longer sitting waiting in anticipation. I am now sitting in a state of contentment.

If you read last week’s post you will be aware that I met a guy (I’m going to call him The Runner from here on) when I was in a bar and was waiting to hear back from him. I am pleased to say he did get in touch with me the Monday after we met. He was on to a good thing with his opening text which stated ‘ hey julie, how are you. 30 year olds always text’. I liked that, it showed he didn’t take himself too seriously.

We arranged to meet on Saturday night for a drink. It’s a weird feeling getting ready to go on a date with someone you don’t really know. You don’t want to look like you’ve put in loads of effort but at the same time you still want to look relatively attractive. I wore a pair of trousers that one of my good friends (who is a straight girl) said she ‘fancied’ me in so I reckoned they were a good bet for the date. I wore my hair up because the oh so lovely Dublin weather was relentlessly rainy that day. I didn’t want to look like a scruff after my walk to the pub.

I always get a fear when I meet someone again that I randomly met on a night out that I won’t recognize them or that they will be totally different to what I remember from the initial time we met. Luckily neither of these things happened. The Runner was what I had remember him to be and I did recognize him straight away.

The usual first date conversation ensued. I have to admit I was really tired that night. I had been out the night before and it was beginning to catch up on me. I’m usually very good at small talk but I found myself lagging from tiredness. However, I must have put on an alright show because about an hour into the conversation The Runner stated that I was ‘a great talker’ and that his experience was that you usually had to drag conversation out of girls. I took this as a compliment (of sorts!).

Our conversation was unusual in the fact that we are both at totally different stages in our lives. He is saving to buy a house and is content at home. I’m looking forward to traveling at some point  and I am not even near contemplating buying a goldfish, let alone a house.

However, this difference didn’t seem to matter. We both got on very well. He is a lot more confident then I remembered when I first met him and he is really funny. He told me he liked really bad jokes which I actually found quite amusing. Maybe that says more about my crap sense of humor than it does about his bad jokes.

He talked a lot about running. He has been running marathons for years and is planning on taking part in one in Barcelona in the coming weeks. I liked how dedicated he was to the sport. He trained a lot but still seemed to manage to have a social life too which is obviously important.

He really likes cooking which again I really liked about him. I have to admit I am not an accomplished  domestic goddess, in fact I hate cooking. However, I do love eating good food so the fact that he likes making good food is nice.

As I mentioned in my last post, I thought he may have a bit of an issue with tall girls. I brought this up to see what his reaction would be. He argued that he actually likes tall girls, although he isn’t that tall himself. I got the feeling he was trying to be polite with this statement but took him at face value anyway.

I guessed The Runner might be quite a competitive by the way in which he was so involved in sport. This fact was proven to me later on in the night. The runner went to the toilet and I was left alone sitting at the bar on my iphone. A guy came up and starting chatting to me about the iphone. I felt quite uncomfortable at this as I didn’t want it to look like I was off chatting to other guys while The Runner’s back was turned.

He came back from the toilet and was visibly not impressed. In fairness, the guy who was chatting to me totally insulted him by commenting on the fact that he was drinking a spirit which was a girls drink in his opinion. This did not go down well with The Runner at all. The guy sloped off back to his group and we continued our conversation. After a while The Runner suggested we go somewhere else as the pub we were in was jammed at this stage.

We went across the road for one more drink but we were both waning with tiredness by this time. We decided to call it a night at about 1am. When we left the pub it was teeming with rain so we both had umbrellas up. The umbrella situation made it very difficult to have any type of goodbye kiss. Also, we were standing in the middle of a really busy street. It just didn’t feel right to launch into kissing someone right there and then. As before, he politely gave me a kiss on the cheek and we said our goodbyes.

Walking home I weighed up the evening in my head. He was a really nice guy. He was very genuine  and funny and although there was a significant age gap between the two of us, that made little difference to our conversation. I thought about how I portrayed myself throughout the evening and came to the conclusion that often in situations like that, I talk myself down a lot. He noticed this and pointed it out by asking me to name three things which I liked about myself. I thought that was sweet.

All in all, we got on really well. I’m not going to say there were fireworks. There weren’t but I think in a realistic situation there never really are at the start. You meet someone who you get on quite well with and then it may or may not build from there. I’d like to see him again to see what way things could go. I’m still not sure it will be a fireworks situation but I’m willing to try and find out.