Recently my parents decided to reclaim their attic space. Fair enough, really. I have my own flat complete with storage cupboard. I’m 29 years old. And I can’t expect them to provide a home to boxes of photos, CDs and questionable fashion choices forever. And now I owe my parents a big thank you, because while sorting through everything I came across something I’d completely forgotten. A little grey hardback book with a large, if I’m honest slightly startled looking, cat on the cover. The diary that saw me through the first year of high school. Needless to say that when I should have been deciphering the instructions for my new carpet shampooing machine this weekend, I’ve been stuck to my sofa, reliving the trials and tribulations of 11-year-old April.
It’s hilarious and cringey all at once. A whole two weeks are dedicated to my suspicions that my friend Ellie has stolen my new pen. “She did take my homework diary and my teeth so I need to suspect her.” Excuse me? Teeth? She took my teeth? Well if she was low enough to steal actual body parts, who knows what she was capable of. Incidentally, Ellie and I are still friends despite this CSI-style investigation. There are pages and pages of detailed accounts of my riding lessons. Promises to myself to pay more attention in geography. And downright fury when Rhona and I are wrongly accused of stealing someone’s clarinet. (What was with all the thieving at my school?). But one entry hit a little nerve in a way that dragged me back out of 1993 and made me face up to my 2011 reality.
“I’d like to be a doctor, but I don’t think I’m good enough at science. Law sounds quite cool. But I really want to be a writer. I suppose I should be more realistic. I do wonder where I’ll be 10, 20, even 30 years from now, though.”
Well, other than a bit of an obsession with Grey’s Anatomy, the medical thing never happened for me. Ten years on from writing those words I was, in fact, a law student. But ultimately after graduating I decided it wasn’t “quite cool” after all. (The best careers advice I can offer anyone considering law is to beware – Ally McBeal, disappointingly, did not paint an accurate picture of the profession.) So, nearly 20 years on, what would 11-year-old April think of 29-year-old April? I think she’d be a bit delighted that after years spent trying to be sensible and struggling to get my head around contracts, delictual liability and (gulp) tax, I ended up becoming a writer after all. Go figure.
Just how delighted would she really be, though? She’d like the idea of a creative job in a big advertising agency. She’d love the fact that I get to wear whatever I want to work (cue T-shirts featuring various pandas, ponies and puppies, and – of course – my hoodie with the ears). And I know she’d be over-the-moon that I still watch 90210 (albeit with a new cast).
But I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit she’d be a little disappointed. And not because of the demise of Tammy Girl, or her favourite Olsen twin having to go to rehab. She’d be disappointed because 11-year-old April wouldn’t just be writing about the things she’s paid to write about: she’d be writing about the things she loves. Probably ponies, The Babysitters Club and Claire’s Accessories. But, hey, at least she’d be writing. So, I think I owe it to her to start writing outside of work, and to start writing about the things I love.
A few weeks ago I went to a talk about publishing. “Write every day,” was one author’s advice (big shout out to Lindsey Kelk – I love you a bit and have already read ‘I heart
New York’ and ‘I heart ’ since seeing you that day). That’s why – in front of anyone who cares to read my blog - I’m making a promise to 11-year-old April. From now on I’m going to write every day. I’ve got a few projects in mind so, don’t worry, I won’t be spilling my guts on this blog every single day. But I’m dedicating this page to my ramblings on things that give 29-year-old April ants in her pants. Namely, animal-related homeware, fashion, and the curious little ups and downs that make life completely weird. (Although I did recently purchase 42 Babysitters Club books on ebay, so I can’t promise that won’t crop up from time to time – sorry.) Hollywood
Now, how on earth do you go about shampooing a carpet?