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Introvert or Extrovert?

I’ve been doing a little experiment for the past week.

I had been thinking of myself as an introvert for… I don’t know how long, could be months, years… but for the past week, I have been imagining myself as an extrovert.

While in the past year, I will have enjoyed the time I had all by myself and happily spent it cleaning and styling stuff at home, drawing, painting, reading, or watching ants in the garden, and shunned going partying or spending much time hanging out in big groups anymore… but in the past week, I have been throwing myself into more social situations – and finding myself bored with being at home alone.

I usually avoid “feeling bored,” and often tell myself that I never get bored and can always find something I find interesting to do, so it felt pretty weird to let myself experience being restless and bored – and to realise that actually, I have been this bored and restless plenty of times in my life.

This little experiment was originally a reaction to a change in my environment; my only housemate (a.k.a the ♡Sam♡ one) would be away for nearly a week, and there were awesome co-workers birthdays’ to attend, and… I had recently seen a couple Louis Theroux docs on prisons and prison life.

It struck me that certain prisoners were especially good at adapting their mindset to suit their goals. They have various rules of the playground, and various games that are played, but I noticed some prisoners would strongly adhere to and uphold one set of rules, saying, “That’s just the way it is,” only later to completely disregard them and “lose” one game in order to achieve something else.

Deep down, I knew I was going to suffer a lack of entertaining human interaction for a week if I kept playing playing the introvert game. And I said, “Fuck it.”

I felt a lot of familiar experiences during my week “pretending” to be an extrovert, that actually, I’m beginning to think that thinking of myself as an introvert was a just game I had been playing to save a little dolladolla. I would even go so far as to say that I have no idea which flavour I really am. I have practiced being both, and I’m not sure which I prefer to be.

My next game might be to see how quickly and easily I can transition between the two. Maybe it’s not something I can control – or maybe it’s something I can learn to. I won’t know until I try.

If you have been playing any mind games with yourself and your self perceptions, feel free to post a comment or link to your own blogs on the subject in the comments.

25 years: Check.

It was my 25th birthday this weekend just gone. I didn’t have a crazy party, I didn’t get force fed alcohol, and I didn’t wake up the next day with a hangover.

It was a magnificent weekend of only doing exactly what I felt like doing – in this case, relaxing at home, drawing pretty pictures in my new A4 notebook, hanging out with Sam and eating good food. Sam got me the notebook, and biros and some olives. He knows me so well.

It kind of makes me feel like a proper grown up. So long, peer pressure and getting wasted. It’s been fun, but I really am done with feeling so unnecessarily ill. I went out to the pub for like three hours the other night, and I only had one glorious half of ale.

And so, I start my 26th year feeling pretty smug with my new sensible habits, knowing that “Drink less” won’t be making an appearance on my list of New Year’s resolutions. There’s only one thing on that list at the moment: Spend at least 365 hours drawing my pretty ballpoint pen patterns. I think I can do it.

On the Way

A story, written bit by bit.

Two sit around the blazing fire, warmth emanating a good distance as starlight from further fires dot the sky.

One said, “I feel like we’ve come a long way. With the darkness of the woods, I couldn’t really see where we were. Even when others gave us directions, I wasn’t really sure where we were really going.”

“I know what you mean,” said the other, “I still don’t really know.”

“Yeah. But things feel better now. I mean, look at that view.”

It was a beautiful view. You could see the little channels of water flowing out across the land, splitting and combining, winding far out and away toward the horizon.

“Do you think we’re on the right track?”

The fire crackled.

“I think so. It feels right.”

Which is the Way to Nowhere?

A story, written bit by bit.

I’m lost. I haven’t been here before, but the feeling of disorientation is possibly the only thing familiar about this place. That and the knowledge that this is definitely not quite my destination.

Let me tell you what you have missed.

As the conversation between the two hopefuls came to an end, I found myself thinking about the colourful waters of one of the toxic falls. There are juice plants nearby with fruit you can pick for sustenance. They don’t taste great, but they work.

I changed my route.

So there I was, picking fruit and milling about. But I still can’t quit that dream of the waterfall. I don’t just want to be at a waterfall with good, pure water. I want my own waterfall, and I want the water of my own waterfall to be so good that channel builders and cup makers alike flock to me, and I want the best of them to re-route water from my fall to dry areas that could use some water.

Then I’d never have to worry about whether there is enough water anywhere. I could go anywhere, and that fear would never stop me. No searching for water. No worrying about whether someone will take your hard earned juice because they have no water.

People in the future would wonder why it didn’t happen sooner.

The way things are now really sucks. Most people deserve better than what they get.

So now I’m stuck again. I can look at my map all I want, but the destination I seek doesn’t exist on it yet. It won’t exist if all I do is stay here picking fruit, but how do you choose which direction to go when you can’t see the way?

The Channel Builder

A story, written bit by bit.

I put down my map, and collect my thoughts. A dull ache emanates from the centre of my forehead, and I prod my brow sharply, trading a more bearable pain for another. I think of the slow drips of the Great Rocks Fall.

Gently, I pry myself up off the ground until I am standing and facing the path to Great Rocks, steady and intent. My eyes sting slightly in their sockets as brows frown overhead, and I breathe in a decision.

There isn’t much water there, but there is some.

On the way down the path where trees and stones and flowers pass by me uninterrupted, I hear the conversation of a pair up ahead. A man who makes cups is listening to the other; a channel builder. The channel builder is holding a cup made from a large, broad leaf, and he is saying to the cup maker, “You know, I think you should keep making these. You don’t need to think about whether anyone will buy this as it is. So what if Great Rocks couldn’t fill a cup in a day… as long as we have patience and some juice to sustain us, all we have to do is build a channel out of this stuff to a bigger cup somewhere cooler -”

“Oh, you and your channel building!” interrupts the little cup maker.

The channel builder stares at him. “Listen to me.”

The cup maker blinks back, and sighs, “You’re just always channel building but it never gets you anywhere.”

“I know it hasn’t appeared to get me anywhere YET because I’ve been looking at it all wrong. But now, I SEE. Some of the other guys,” he begins to gesture wildly, “they build these deep channels and amazing systems in the heat of the Big Drop saying, well, if it comes, I’ll be prepared! But it never comes, not there. Sometimes I think they don’t actually care about that, they just love to build these great big complicated channel systems, and under Big Drop seems like the only place they can do it without anyone bothering them.”

“Alright, you’ve totally lost me now. What has any of what you just said got to do with me and my cups?”

“Basically, you’re just like those guys, except instead of building channels, you’re making cups. You are so focussed on your cups, and how you can make more attractive cups, that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.”

“So… what are you saying? I’m still lost.”

“Ok. So, cups. What do they do?”

“… Hold liquid?”

“And what does Great Rocks have that Big Drop doesn’t?”

The cup maker frowns, “Well. It’s got liquid. But it hasn’t got very much liquid. No one goes there for the liquid.”

I smile to myself.

The channel builder grins, “It’s got a steady, consistent drip of water, and the air is cool enough to collect it without too much evaporation. The flimsy material you use for you cups would be useless for channel building at Big Drop, but at Great Rocks? They’re the perfect material!”

“So you want me to build channels?”

“No dude. I’ll build the channels. I want you to make the cups.”

The Distant Waterfalls

A story, written bit by bit.

I’m sitting, holding a map. The best map. It is vast and detailed and it says it can show me the way to anywhere I want to go. Overhead, the sky is overcast. Dull light filters in through the window, but it’s warm – uncomfortably warm. My skin feels thirsty. Dry and fuzzy and warm. It wants a waterfall. I look to the map for a waterfall.

There are a shit-tonne of waterfalls on the map, but they are all a while away. I sit and I try to figure out which of the waterfalls is closest. I frown. The closest waterfall is along a dangerous path, full of pitfalls, predators and other unpleasant experiences. I search for the path with the safest-looking route.

It’s an incredibly long, straight, boring, featureless path. It stretches so far as to appear almost endless – in fact, according to this map, the path goes all the way up off the top of the map, and…

The route reappears at the bottom of the map, where it continues to reach up and up, finally ending at the same waterfall that is closest to me.

The dangers of the shortest route block me from heading straight to the waterfall in good time, but the distance of the safest route might see me dead of old age before I even get there.

Outside, worms in the ground wriggle casually, buried deep in the soil where they are safe from the drying effects of the sun. They don’t have to feel the heat down there. It is only if they come up to the surface that they have anything to fear. But I am not a worm. I can’t simply dig a deep hole to hide in. I need both air and the cool water. So I look to the map again.

There are several other waterfalls nearby – but I’ve already been to them. The map says they are great waterfalls, but in my experience, they aren’t all that great.

Many are full of plenty of water, but the water is tainted. Pretty petrol rainbows on the water’s surface reflect magical light. Urban street run-offs. Bubbles dance on the surface like they are everybody’s business, but the dead and dying creatures scattered along the banks in the vicinity betray the toxic water’s true effects.

Like fuck am I gonna get my skin under that.

One of the untainted falls I have been to turns out to be barely a trickle. Great stones and great scales characterise the fall, as the water does indeed fall from a great height, and the sight of the great rocks with the many layers of history in its face attracts people from miles around – but the water itself is barely there. It is a great site, but it is only a great sight. Thirst can not be quenched there.

Another great dry fall I have been to is dry essentially all the time. Most people who have been there have actually left feeling drier and thirstier. But there are a few tell tale signs that it isn’t always as dry as it appears. Numerous corpses have been found drowned and battered at the base of the dry fall over the years, as if flash floods occasionally storm the area while no one else is looking.. And there are always stories of people who have somehow managed to channel water from the rare event in order to create smaller, less destructive waterfalls nearby.

I have never met any of these people, but I have met plenty of people near the base of the fall and in the general area, and watched them digging little channels for themselves in the harsh, dry air, sweat evaporating invisibly from their bodies. I have even helped them to dig a little while I was there. I have no interest in digging my own channel though. The channel diggers outnumber the dead evidence of the fall’s water by millions, and every morning as the sun rises and burns, their presence casts great shadows across the ground.

So I sit. Stuck. I wish that I could simply fly over the dangers of the shortest path, but I have no wings, nor a plane. Even then, the air has challenges of its own, and a failing there would land me right in the worst of it.

A Good Writer

Once upon a time, I was a good writer. Teachers taught me about metaphors and similes, and books taught me all sorts of ways to describe gory, gritty events that I had never actually witnessed for real. I remember writing one particularly gory story during a lesson on pathetic fallacy. At least, I think that’s what it was on.

I remember one of the main examples being hateful stormy weather during a hateful stormy event, and my reaction to that was to go completely the other way with the weather. I wrote a story about a terrible murder, but it all happened during a gloriously sunny day. I thought I was the bees knees for this clever twist, but in hindsight, I never described the day as “gloriously sunny”. The sun was harsh and the heat was unforgiving. Exactly the mood I was going for, and very similar to the mood a thunderstorm often gives a story.

A part of me wishes I had the story I wrote then in front of me right now. I learned in 6th Form about memories being changed retroactively, and I have no way of knowing whether the story I wrote was exactly as I think of it now. I don’t have this problem with everything. It’s just that…

I once wrote a sequel to the book Children of the Dust during an English lesson, and years later when I googled Children of the Dust, all the clever things I thought I had come up with because they were in my story were never things I came up with at all. They were part of the skeleton, the brief, that we had been given by the teacher to build on. All I must have done was taken these bullet pointed details and written them into full sentences. I was horrified.

I can conjour up memories of myself as a child being told by friends and peers that I get such good grades that I must know everything, and I knew that I knew a lot, but surely it was obvious I didn’t know everything? And then I wonder, if the other kids were wrong about how clever I was, who is to say the teachers were right about how clever I was? My memory of the grades and reports they gave on my performance, combined with my memory of how I felt about the difficulty of the tasks they set me, are all I have to go on.

I say I was a good writer, because I remember writing not being that difficult, and I remember teachers giving me good grades. I don’t say I am a good writer, because now when I write, I don’t know what I should be trying to write, and when I do write, I’m not getting any feedback on my writing except from myself, and I can’t reliably tell myself if it’s good or bad because I don’t know what I’m trying to achieve.

What the hell am I doing here.

I don’t know whether I’m just trying to express myself for myself, or trying to express certain parts of myself in order to create a certain image or representation to you, the unknown general public, or to the people I know who already know me in person and may one day read this… Am I just trying to reinforce an image I think I already have, or am I creating a new one?

I don’t know.

Perhaps I should write a short paragraph of fiction and use pathetic fallacy to understand what I’m trying to achieve here.

The Journey

Ah. I have had a wonderfully exciting idea.

I was once known to be quite the little trickster. Of course, before that I was thought to be completely benign, despite numerous  instances of mischief and mayhem. When my youngest sister Yvette discovered the drying magic of the airing cupboard as a very small child, I secretly helped her to discover that sometimes, those little wet balls of tissue paper would come out not only hard and dry, but reshaped and coloured in with pretty colours and glitter!

The magic of the airing cupboard fairies had been discovered.

Fast forward  around a decade, and I am a Computer Games Design student, waiting in the kitchen of a small university campus flat, surrounded by tiny, slightly hidden slivers of paper. Each one contained a clue, directing one of my flatmates to another clue, culminating in a final notice that we had hidden his giant French Fancy cake.

It didn’t quite worked out the way we had hoped. The first thing he noticed was that the French Fancy was missing, but that did not stop us from allowing him to try finding it via the scattered clues. If anything, the fact that the clues led to information that he already knew only made the entire situation more entertaining for me.

Now, less than half a decade on, I am planning a quest of epic proportions.

I intend to make an incredibly fine piece of jewellery, made far more luxurious than I would ever dare to wear myself. Never to be made again, it would be the only one of its kind. But how to decide who to grant ownership of such an exclusive item to? I could simply give it a price that reflects its high value to narrow down the selection – but that would not be very entertaining.

And this is where the mischief comes in. Those who wish to own the piece must take part in a quest, and will be given instructions sending them all over the world – occasionally in order to gather clues to the next destination. They must go to these places personally, and make sure they obtain evidence that they were indeed there – perhaps by video evidence, uploaded to a personal blog dedicated to the journey.

There are no restrictions on who can take part, but only the first to complete the quest in its entirety and fulfil all conditions created by the master of the great game will be able to claim the grand prize.

It will be some time before the game has been completely designed. You may wish to keep tabs on this story to see how things unfold.

News: Neon Neon

I went to an interesting thing last night. It was like a cross between a theatre performance and a gig, and it took place outside and inside a warehouse. There were balloons and strange money notes and a naked person being painted and typewriters and books and music and giant desks and filing cabinets with people coming out of them, all part of a story involving a book publisher getting a little bit revolutionary with Che.

I had been called in to do a little bit of bonus footage for LightTrap – my task was to run around in the audience with a Go Pro on a stick and film the kind of shots you might expect from an audience member with mobile phone, which was great since all I really had to do was make sure the camera was recording and pointing at action. They had considered asking an actual random audience member, but eventually decided to call the totally trustworthy me a few hours before to ask if I would do it. I’m glad they did. It was fun.

Nicola Wallace: Illustrator

I was chilling in my hammock the other day; swinging gently in the living room of my Sam’s flat. The setting sun glowed through the windows, and I happened to notice the light casting a nice frame of shadow around Nicola’s postcard art on the walls. Here is a picture, taken quickly before the shade moved out of place.

Nicola Wallace: Illustration

Nicola Wallace Illustration
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