So, this is Adulthood: Getting a Grip.

scooterRiding into work on a scooter isn’t exactly how I pictured rolling into my adult life. To clarify, I’m not talking about a moped, nor an electric scooter you may have seen suits gliding on along the city streets. I’m referring to an unbranded, rusted, clattering, wake the neighbours up at the crack of dawn, smash your shins into, use your foot as a break, kind of bad boy.

As a child I had a very specific vision of life at eighteen. Who doesn’t? I thought that eighteen meant a car, and therefore, road trips, a 24-hour gym membership and ventures to 24-hour food chains. Everything had to be available to me 24 hours a day, because time would no longer control my life. There would be no more bed-times, home-times or play-times. No more timetables, timelines or term-times. But, apparently, it means driving lessons, insurance, buying a car and road tax; four things that were conveniently omitted from American chick flicks. Eighteen also thrust me into the world of overpriced bus travel.  And therefore, just as easily as Will Hunting, in Good Will Hunting, avoided an overpriced education at Harvard by opting for late fees at a public library, I ditched four wheels for two.

Now, the response my two-wheeled companion earned me, varied greatly.  Some customers from the café in which I work undoubtedly re-evaluate my age as I exit the workplace with a scooter. As soon as I set a hand on it I seem to become unprofessional in their eyes. They share glances amongst each other, questioning how a five-year-old just served them. ‘It must be her little sister’s’; their looks assure each other.  If I keep a straight face they’ll believe it, if I smile, they won’t. Or is it the other way round?

My friends ensure that I am aware that I have legs and that that there is no reason to ‘commit social suicide on a daily basis’. My colleagues joke about the absence of my hi-vis jacket, helmet and knee pads.

Others seem to think that I am confident because I don’t care what they think. Well, since when has caring what people think halved your journey time? And to be honest, I find joy in doing something that the style conscious wouldn’t dream of doing. So, as long as I am on wheels I will be happy, even if the wheels aren’t air pressured and there aren’t four of them.

Girl Writes Life

Unfiltered News: A morning behind the coffee counter.

cofeeeeee

On a good day I get out of bed at five-fifteen a.m for a six a.m start. I say six a.m start, but leaving my house at five fifty-five and sprinting to work is quite a start in itself.

An hour before the café officially opens, I take deliveries inside and put furniture outside amongst a host of other tasks, one of which is admittedly making myself coffee; ‘self-love is important,’ I assure myself.

At six-thirty I begin miming to the builders on their way to work that, ‘no, we are not open until seven,’ but give up the battle at six forty-five when a few regulars bustle inside. The first drink of the day is always a double espresso. On arrival, the next few early birds request their ‘usual’ order, although the double espresso is the only one I can ever seem to remember. I stand awkwardly, with an expression which suggests that the till may not be working until I receive a reminder. The reminder is given hastily bearing in mind the vigilance of the parking control officers on The Broadway. It’s common knowledge that they should all receive ‘employee of the year’ awards for their rigorous determination. Otherwise I use the excuse ‘still asleep’ or ‘didn’t sleep’. I hope I don’t graze their egos too much! Both excuses are usually true anyway, but I probably shouldn’t expand on that.

Once the regulars have settled down, the school children stroll into my periphery. They settle outside, toying with the sugar, the chairs and unfortunately, they don’t discriminate against cigarette ash either. I’m supposed to shoo them away but I am inside and they are outside. I do not wish to cross the border today.

At ten a.m the young mothers stroll inside. Minutes later, the first babycino (hot milk) hits the deck and I know it won’t be the only one. The young mother apologises profusely but it’s okay. I guess we can all say ‘been there, done that’. And of course, we’ll make another one; the quicker it’s made, the quicker the tears will stop; we don’t want the rivers of Babylon filling the shop.

Soon more staff will arrive to help out with the lunchtime rush but until then I’ll continue to run food and drinks, overhear snippets of of conversations and hope that a morning coffee can make someone’s day.

 

So, This is Adulthood: I Don’t Need an Update!

waitinI always feel great when I wake up early in the morning- after the half an hour it takes me to will myself out of bed of course. Waking up early instils in me the sense that I am moving in the right direction. I don’t know what direction that is…but I know it’s the right one.

However, as I turned my laptop on in a cozy coffee shop this morning, productive was the last thing I was being. Due to a ‘necessary’ update on my laptop, I was forced to wait a lengthy fifteen minutes before I could even type my password in. Apparently, my laptop has needed an update for the last seventy-two weeks and as the loading bar sluggishly moves slower than a granny on crutches, I think, ‘This is why I’ve been avoiding you’.

Usually, I’m able to defer major updates on the basis that if I’m not given warning, some of my precious work could be lost. However, as my laptop was shut down this time, Dell managed to get one over on me. Surely, I should be able to decide when my laptop gets an update. Maybe I wasn’t ready for an update. Maybe I liked the old version, despite it’s ‘flaws’. I sit here as the 1%,2%,3% increase in second intervals and the 53% ,54%, 55% increase in minute intervals, slowly erecting my mental middle finger at the screen. I say slowly because I knew that this wouldn’t be the last ‘overdue’ update I would meet this morning.

When the new update decided it was ready to show up, I managed to log on. I waited for everything to load and double clicked my trusty Microsoft Word. Before it opened, I was alerted that my antivirus software needed to be renewed. It seems that there were forty-six suspicious threats ready to devour my laptop if I didn’t. Also, Spotify needed to be reinstalled. I can only surmise that the old version took that with it.

I should have known that the one hour of serenity I had given myself to write would be reduced to disappointing speed dates with apps I wanted out of my sight.

A few taps later and each of these notifications were banished- for now. But, the terror wasn’t over yet. Microsoft Word wouldn’t open because without the internet, Microsoft couldn’t verify my subscription. ‘Are you serious?!’ I silently screamed. I thought I could trust you Bill! The waiter asks if I would like another drink. I’m not even half way through the first one.

I take a deep breath, a sip of my coffee and open my laptop’s preinstalled word pad. Stuff your co-dependency I tell my apps. But I can’t help but feel like I’m stooping to a lesser medium. I might as well have got the extra sleep, stayed at home, switched the latte for instant coffee and whipped out my pen and paper. I may not know what direction I’m moving in but I do know that I’ll need to allow more time to reach my destination.

So, This is Adulthood: Regiment Avoidance.

yeeeModern media romanticises spontaneity; the ability to book flights from our phones, accommodation from our watches and experiences with our looks. I can almost picture young YouTube stars screaming, ‘What’s sexier than being able to wake up anywhere you want in the world?’. Within hours you could be hiking in Maui’s Haleakala National park or cycling in Sardinia.
We’re sold this idealised lifestyle by a new subset of youths who have created their own career paths. These are people who see our vocational culture as material that can be pushed, pulled, carved into and built upon. To them, conformity and rigidity are alien voices- well, unless it’s Christmas or birthdays.
I aspire to this lifestyle, there’s no doubt about it. One day I may be able to achieve it. But for now, I, alongside the majority of the population, am not in the position to jet off to Paris to eat macaroons in a café on the Champs Elysees at the push of a button.
Instead, I hold a full-time job in a London suburb, where the sky is dedicatedly fifty shades of grey. Most of my friends have left for university and those who still live locally seem to have their own largely non-cooperative schedules. Often, I start work at 6am and regularly find out next week’s schedule on the Sunday of the week before. This severely limits activity planning. Thus, I don’t doubt that it would be easy to slip into a very regimented existence, which is everything the young girl in me wants to avoid.
I want to ensure that my days feel recognisably different. I don’t want to be the one saying, ‘Where did September go?’ Or more frighteningly, ‘Where did this year go?’. I do this by living what my mother terms, ‘A minute to minute lifestyle,’ and to this lifestyle, I am faithful. My mother says my lack of forward planning is irresponsible. I say, ‘The minute to minute lifestyle is a result of forward planning’. This retort never goes down well.
So how do I live this lifestyle?
I started saying yes to plans that had no specific end time. A club night that could possibly end at 1am or maybe 4:30am.
I started self-defence classes and often I am the only in the class at 7:30am.
I went to the cinema alone for the first time.
I decided to wear a headband to work.
I contacted the owners of a jaunty, elegant lurcher I thought was beautiful. I walk it now. It’s extremely well behaved. Whilst I proposed walking the dog to take some weight of their hands; it was clear that they thought they were doing me a favour. They asked me if I would like to take it for a walk or simply come round to pet it.
The old me would have hesitated before considering any of these activities.
Actively choosing to act on small desires, before I am able to find enough reasons to swat them away has been transformative. The new me feels 4D, 5g, wireless headphones.