Wednesday, October 12, 2016

(Sanity) Freewrite Wednesday - 10/12/2016

So... it's Wednesday it turns out. Freewrite Wednesday. But I wrote this not cos of that but because I was sad - no choked. Yes, choked.
The thought goes like this (it returns often):
There's much more in me than I've ever spent.

And how long will that feeling last? I just want to throw it up, somehow.
I went to acting class and then sat on the bus home eating chips and looking out of the window. And there was this small, punky-looking couple, and he was eyeing up me or my food. And when we got on the bus he said, sorry am I eyeing up your food and I just laughed and a laugh was all I offered.

And it was late and I kept scrolling my WhatsApp thinking, what for?

And in the shop the shopkeeper shared this kinder chocolate bar thing with me and I was the only customer. And he was very approving of the packet of biscuits I bought.  The street was all orange and leaning into me, but not like a friend would.  More like being on the tube at rush hour. And I breathed deep and reminded myself I was outside.

And my son was fragrant and asleep and I woke those big eyes into saucers with all my racket - I went in to kiss him goodnight and to remind myself I was a person.

I took my hat off and left on my jacket and shoes. Even if there was someone to call there'd be no-one to call about this.
Truth is, there is always someone to call.  But sometimes, in the night, you are only trying to reach yourself.  Tomorrow I'm gonna wake up at 6am and do the dishes. For now I'm gonna post this thing I just wrote (below)... It took me a couple of moments to realise it was Wednesday... so happy Free-Write Wednesday to me and whoever else cares --

In case no-one else has said it today,

I love you.


I am last
of the raw cash –
wrong currency sweaty
in the palm I am
too much to spend
in the wrong direction
in all this fluorescent hell
and plastic promise
I am pent up
Vision smashing up against
All these coward edges
Nothing carries through
No flow
I have too much to spend
Nowhere to spend
No-one to spend
nothing to buy ---
or I am buying the wrong things
spending wreckless – suicidal
for love - buying debts
collecting on nothing –
ask me how I am – I am all teeth –
I walk a good game – I comb
My stupid hair –
You do not see I am all unspent
Choked to the brim
The last of the young dirty pound
Raw cash crashing through the floor
not getting older –only getting old
carrying all my worth in loose change –
heavy metal – I need the kind of insides that fold –
whispering between the hands
silent ballet of numbers
changing – I am one in a million
of the wrong currency –
full of money – gnawing on
bones only ghosted by meat
and cardboard and nothing
and time and memory –
cannibalizing myself –
filthy rich and useless
my love is no good here
I have spent pennies on
The pound – you have all come up
Short – the streets swallow me
Into aimlessness
a roar opening my mouth
the way a yawn does

Monday, June 27, 2016

At The Inkwell hits London JULY 21 - UK votes Brexit - Prince - Bowie

'Upload: a 2-party system 
The lesser of 2 dangers 
Illusion of choice 
Download: a veiled form of fascism 
Nothing really ever changes 
U never had a voice'
PRINCE, Colonized Mind

My brain is busy and I can't make my thoughts lie down.

There's a lot to say about the UK and Brexit and Jo Cox and Trump and what's going on -

 what's going on -


and honestly I don't know where to start right now. I've been numbly circulating petitions and crying randomly. I'm worried about what kind of world my kid is gonna grow up in. I'm trying to stay focussed in my day-to-day while the sky crashes --

all the normal stuff feels like an awkward armful of non-sequiturs -

the word 'despair' doesn't say it - it isn't that -

I just can't get my busy brain around the full scope of the problems we face -

I'm still getting over Prince being gone -

Jeez, the point of this was to let you know about a reading series I'll be hosting - how do I segue into that smoothly?

I don't think it's possible. 

How about this: Everything is nuts right now-are you thinking of building an underground-bunker- how about emigrating-yeahmetoo - wannacometoagig?

Hope I'll see you there...Hope you'll share. (there's an open mic)


Friday, May 20, 2016

The Morning Papers - A Series of Pieces About Prince

Trying to describe how it feels to have lost Prince (who is more than a person, but an era/childhood/personal myth) especially under such messed up circumstances, and with all my conspiratorial suspicions aroused, and him dying the way he did, that small miracle man, alone in a lift, with no-one to hold his gaze while he went over, or reassure him, or hold his hand... ay ay ay... I was sad and angry. I was put in mind of the opening passage from 'Sonny's Blues' by James Baldwin:
'I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I read it, and I couldn't believe 
it, and I read it again. Then perhaps I just stared at it, at the newsprint spelling out his name, 
spelling out the story. I stared at it in the swinging lights of the subway car, and in the faces 
and bodies of the people, and in my own face, trapped in the darkness which roared 
It was not to be believed and I kept telling myself that, as I walked from the subway station 
to the high school [...] A great block of ice got settled in my belly and kept melting 
there slowly all day long [...] It was a special kind of ice. It 
kept melting, sending trickles of ice water all up and down my veins, but it never got less. 
Sometimes it hardened and seemed to expand until I felt my guts were going to come 
spilling out or that I was going to choke or scream. This would always be at a moment when I 
was remembering some specific thing [...] once said or done.'
Or in this case, sang.
I didn't really know what to do with the feeling until Sharmila Chauhan reached out and asked me to contribute to a writing series featuring: Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Leone Ross, Nikesh Shukla,Sunil Chauhan, Tanuja Desai Hidier, Salena Godden, Rosamond King and myself entitled 'The Morning Papers' which you can find here: 
New creative pieces in various genres from creative non-fiction and memoir to poetry are being posted every day until Sunday.
Let's pour out some words for him.
Sleep tight, sweet Prince.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Social media envy/panic/HORROR/please stop.

Right, so let's talk about this.*

My name is Gemma Weekes and I am envious of everyone. I mean, on irrational levels. I want everyone to do well, especially my contemporaries, but every account of their career victories makes me examine my own professional trajectory with the kind of sneer fit for a Dickensian villain.

"Ooooh.... do you see that? What have you done lately, Gemma?"
"Was it any good, Gemma?"
"You get celebrity endorsement?"
"You get lotsa money?"
"You get the prestigious this or that?"
"You working fast enough?"
"Shouldn't you be further along by now?"
"Do you see how many likes they have on that post? People care!"
"He/She must be (delete as appropriate) nicer/more genuine/more savvy/smarter/cooler/more authentic/a human being More Loved by God Almighty with more of a right to be here than YOU are"
"And did you see how pretty? You're getting fat and old"
"You're missing your chance. You're past it."
"You're running out of time running out of time running out of time running out of time runningoutoftime RUNNING OUT OF TIME!"

It doesn't matter what I am actually doing at the time, and I am no slouch.

And then if I see a parent posting about the vegan cake they made their kids or how their kids can play Chopin at 2 years old or read at the age of 9 months, I think: "OH MY GOD! I shouldn't be writing, I should spend my time being a better MOTHER!"

And then I read about someone's squat challenge or liquid diet or how they can bend themselves into a pretzel shape and think, OH MY GOD! I need to get in SHAPE!"

And then I see someone's honest posting about how crap things are and I think OH MY GOD, that person is so much more NATURAL and HONEST than I!

The panic. The anxiety. The comparison. The worry. It is the filthy, stinking elephant in the room whenever I do my occasional FB scroll; the zombie parrot perched on my shoulder while I peruse the twitter feed, alternately screaming obscenities in my ear and pecking mighty big-chunks of my self-esteem right out of my skull. We'll pretend for the sake of that metaphor that my skull is, in fact, where my self-esteem is housed (who knows (it's early-ish, forgive)).

This is my confession.

This cruel self-judgement turns every one of my precious, hard-won triumphs to ash in my mouth. It dehumanizes people who, like me, have struggled, sweat and bled to manifest their dreams.
Last night, I went to a little soiree at Birkbeck University where the winner of the inaugural Kit De Wal scholarship was announced. While speaking to the first runner up of the prize (the lovely, talented Charlotte Forfieh (I am also a runner up, but slightly farther out from the glow of victory - congrats Steve Morrison-Burke!)) she asked me how long I've been writing. I replied that I've been writing 'forever' (not claiming to be immortal or anything, you know what I'm saying) and that sometimes people give a s**t, and sometimes they don't.

As I said that, I felt a massive exhale whoosh through me, a hallelujah of relief and simple truth-telling.

It felt real.

It felt as if, by speaking on that reality, I was liberating myself from giving a s**t if people give a s***t, which is long overdue.

I've written and sang and created my way through so many traumas and losses. I have created while grieving; while pregnant and breast-feeding; while depressed, broke, homeless; after break-ups and fights and professional disappointments as well as triumphs; late at night and first thing in the morning; when people have understood it and when they haven't; when there's been applause and when there hasn't been. That's my journey.

I've cried listening to the harsh, critical voice in my head, knowing I deserve better. Self-love should never be an earned thing. I'm on earth. That's good enough. If I can love others, make a contribution to culture and to the raising of global consciousness, make my kid laugh with one of my dodgy accents, or even make a cake that's not 'light as a cannonball' - then, great!

I joked the other day that my son should post his ideas about meditation (he is a very interesting 9 year old dude) and he replied that it wouldn't get any 'likes'. I told him 'who cares', but how can I say that and then live the opposite?

I sometimes despair of younger people coming up in this social media culture powered by an unrelenting hunger for external validation.

But it's occurred to me that perhaps this is an opportunity to seek greater grounding in the self, more than we've ever needed before, moving toward our desires with patience and grace.

Maybe it's an opportunity to pause and address the wounds that lead us to such horrific self-judgement and blocks us from truly loving others.

Maybe it's an invitation to share more of our real stories so we know we're not alone.

(You're not alone. You are beautiful. Your pace is beautiful. Your indecision and procrastination are beautiful. Breathe. You're working things out. Your mistakes are perfect, including your 'bad side' in photos. Just saying.)

Did you like this? Please like/share/tweet. :-D KIDDING!
(but like, please do it)
(but like, really, I'm kidding! lol!)

Love to you and your behind the scenes as well as your showreel. *smile*

Gem xxx

P.S.: I'm gonna leave you with some sage words from Mooji that help put that filthy elephant/zombie parrot in a sleeper hold:

* I almost went on to say: "who else feels like..." which is part of the problem! Maybe no-one else feels like this, and maybe no-one gets what I'm going to write about or will ever read about it. That's ok.

'The Water' rehearsal (7 day soundcloud challenge, day 2)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Is everything changing, or just me? :-)

2016, how you doing?

I feel like you gave 2015 a hug on the way out, didn't you?

Gave her a wink and a grin, said: "Sssshh. I got this."

I think you might be a little bit of a jauntier year than previous.

You ain't got much money so far, but you're still fly.

I have about one quarter of an hour before I need to go pick up the emperor from school, and really, I thought I was gonna scribble something a little more earnest

     cos I'm hungry and I've really not done as much writing today as I thought I would.

But you tickle me.

I opened this box and started to smile. Because 2016 has this pretty twinkle to it.

And even when I'm being a little artistic and blue and sitting around contemplating my mortality and stuff I dig it, that twinkle. Like a diamond in a pile a dirt that might be a shard of glass, but who cares? Whatever it is, it has the sun its eye! Oh yes. 

Exactly like that.

2016... you came around all muscly with love!  Looked around and had these faces all edible with it, had hands all wrapped around my hands. And my heart full.  

2016 you make me wanna cook and clean the house. You make me wanna build things right up past the sky. You came all jingling with opportunity, and excitement, and purpose, and self-understanding, and progress, and acceptance, and a real down-to-the-bone type of even-ness that maybe I've never felt before. Head in iridescent clouds and feet firm in the soil.

2016, I think you came with presents for everybody.

I think you have a plan.  I think you're laughing at the gaps in all of us.

I think you're singing even when we cry. I think, in your shape, I perceive the shape of an architecture beyond the flesh of things, perfect architecture beneath the chaos.

Time flicks its pages faster and faster and here we are.

Is time really real?

Is everything changing, or just me?