So I’m going through something of an identity crisis at the moment.
It’s something that happens to me, oh, about thirty times a day.
Every time I log onto Twitter or Tumblr or my Facebook page, I ask myself the question:
And I never really know for sure.
See, because while my name is Kat in the real world (or Kathryn, if you’re a family member or are angry at me for some reason), online I’m known by my username, Penrefe.
I’ve become strangely proud of the name. I go insane every time YouTube tries to lure me into using my real name on its web site. I am not Kathryn on YouTube, YouTube. I am Penrefe on YouTube.
Penrefe is my username on just about every web site I’m registered on. I even bought a domain of a discontinued e-mail service to get my username back on IMDB: that’s how insane dedicated I am to my moniker.
As anyone with a favourite username will tell you, your online alias is more than just a name. It’s the embodiment of who you are online.
And yet Penrefe is me. Just me. Penrefe is K. L. Kerr is Kathryn is Kat. We are all the same person. But who am I? Who do I want to be known as?
It’s a difficult choice, especially when I’m a writer with books to sell, so I often think I should be pushing that side of things (which was the reason for my initial change to KLKerr.com last year). You hear all these things about branding and centralising so that people can easily find you, and blah blah blah blah blaaaaaaaah.
But I’ve decided to move everything back to Penrefe.com, and build everything on the name I’m best known for*, even if no one is really 100% sure how to pronounce it**.
TL:DR Basically, this was an incredibly long-winded way of saying I’ve moved my site and its contents back to Penrefe.com.
This will have no impact on your life whatsoever.
* Second only perhaps to Catrinna, the Draenei hunter.
She’ll be back eventually, NuGenites. So will Winston. And Bigwig. And my One-Eyed Willy. Warlords of Draenor, woooooooooooooooooo!
When I was a young girl (a young girl, a young girl), I assumed that 30 was practically dead in terms of age. I assumed 20 was old, when I was 12. 16 was ancient to an 8-year-old.
Back when I was 16, scribbling the hilariously bad first draft of my first book, I made the main character 19, because 19 was so mature.
As I passed 19 in reality, I scoffed at the notion of it being “mature”. I still scoff on occasion when I think about it to this day, the same way I still laugh out loud at those who think people should have their shit together by 25.
Technically speaking, I was a mature person for 19. By the time I was 19 years old, I had already:
Moved out of the family home;
Got a car;
Got a job;
Got a house (with a mortgage!);
…and I was totally on my way and set to be a cog in the machine of life.
Since I’d already done most of what I thought you needed to do as a grown-up, I kind of coasted through my 20’s, for the most part.
I remember when I thought people in their 20’s were adults. Now all of my friends are in their 20’s and everybody is just kind of fumbling around bumping into each other, trying to figure out where the free food is.
In my 20’s, I met a boy and fell in love, and settled down, and got married. That didn’t end particularly well, but I learned a lot from the experience.
I spent my 20’s working in accounts and software support, although I had no real passion for either. I mean, who really has a passion for finance? It’s one of the most stressful jobs you can have, besides technical support, so I was covered on both bases.
I’m yet to meet anyone doing work in accounts who does it because they feel it’s their true calling.
I suspect most, if not all, of people working in accounts do it for the same, simple reason that I worked in accounts: because we could.
I’m still working in accounts, though at a different company to the one I spent the majority of my 20’s in, because the company I joined aged 18 and spent ~10 years busting my ladyballs for doesn’t exist anymore. Sad story, the recession was a tragedy, and so on…now let’s move on.
I also wrote and published two books in my twenties, which is a pretty damn big deal.
I wrote these two books. Have I mentioned that before?
Writing, as I have recently been reminded and have constantly known, is such a fundamental part of my life, it tends to push everything else out.
I’ve learned to accept that, as has everyone close to me, so when a family member calls to ask, “What are you doing tonight?” and I reply, “The same thing I do every night, Pinky: trying to take over the world write a book!”, it’s universally understood that I shouldn’t be contacted for the rest of the evening/weekend/month.
Thankfully, I still have no intention of having children, so I’ll have no one to neglect. Hence why cats are great pets of choice for a writer.
And yet, there’s a part of my brain that won’t accept I’m turning 30.
You’re not thirty, it scoffs, throwing popcorn at the back of my head. You can’t even cook. You still eat Pot Noodle butties and live on takeaways. You don’t know how to pop the bonnet on your car to add screenwash. If a lightbulb goes out, it stays out until your Granddad visits. You don’t even know how your thermostat works. Give back your grown-up card; you’ve clearly not earned it yet.
That part of my brain has a point. There’s still a lot of things I should know how to do by now. There’s a lot of things I should’ve already done.
If I’d done things differently in my 20’s, I’d be somewhere else by now. I’d be someone else, maybe.
I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not.
But then that’s the thing about time: it doesn’t wait for you. It doesn’t wait for anyone.
And I have been incredibly lazy in my 20’s, letting a lot of opportunities pass me by.
This isn’t a declaration of a proposed dramatic life change. I’m just going to say that I think I might put a bit more effort into my day-to-day life to acknowledge that time isn’t waiting, and we’re all getting older, and that’s okay.
To start the ball rolling, I’m going to attempt to strip all the colour out of my hair over the weekend, a sort of “cleansing” ritual of sorts (while simultaneously stinking out the house with the smell of the hair dye remover, Colour B4, which really reeks, trust me–like someone cooked a batch of rotten eggs and sprinkled the scrambled mess over a corpse drying in the sun, left it a few days, then worked it into your hair so it permeates the air around you for weeks).
I don’t use many parts of myself to make a statement: I don’t have the ladyballs to pierce anything (other than my ears, which I never use), or tattoo anything (because there’s nothing I know I’ll want in 20-40 years’ time).
But my hair has always been something I’ve used to make a statement about who I am. From blonde to red to black, and there and back, I’ve been all of those, making statements, breaking hearts, being an angel, being a bitch, and everything in-between.
Let’s just hope the colour stripping is a success and doesn’t leave me venturing into a new era of my life looking like Worzel Gummidge.
I want to close by saying: I’m not nervous or anxious or upset about reaching 30. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a new era, a new chapter in the book of Kat.
I like to think I’m ending the chapter on a relative high, so let’s see where the next decade takes me.
In my 20’s, I was riding with the training wheels on.
I think I’m ready to take them off.
Anyway, many people, including friends who are reaching the big three-oh themselves, feel they should’ve done more, that they should be more by the time they reach 30.
I don’t care how small or insignificant my experiences might be when compared to others.
I have done plenty, and I’ll do plenty more.
Now, in real closing, I’ve been trying to find a song that best sums up the last decade, something that articulates how the last ten years have developed me as an individual.
I’m really struggling. I’m browsing through my iTunes and madness threatens. I want to post something uplifting, something inspirational, but Shed Seven’s “Chasing Rainbows” keeps coming in my head.
So I suppose that’s what I’m going to have to go with.
Last night, I was too busy catching up with friends and watching an absolutely atrocious film to write a summary post for the year, and writing one now would kind of defeat the point of looking forward to the new year.
So all I’ll say about the previous year is that it wasn’t too bad for me, personally, but I have friends and others close to me who have been through a hell of a lot, so I won’t be looking to recall much about it, and I hope 2014 will be better for everyone involved (and for everyone I don’t even know, for that matter–if your year was a bit shit, I hope this year gets it turned around for you).
I’m not doing the resolutions thing, because I don’t see the point in forcing myself to do things out of obligation or guilt, just because it’s the time of the year to do that.
But my housemate and I have decided instead to make a bucket list of sorts for the things we should each do before the end of 2014. I will be posting mine here, updating as I decide on more things I need to get done in 2014 and crossing off as they’re done.
Or “How The Faculty Tells You All About Its Main Protagonists in Under Four Minutes”
(This post is mostly spoiler-free about the 1998 film The Faculty, but you should’ve seen it by now, anyway. It’s awesome. I don’t care what any sci-fi fans say against it. It’s one of my top ten favourite movies, so get over it and get into it.)
For those who haven’t had the privilege of seeing it, The Faculty is a sci-fi/horror movie about a small town school that gets taken over by aliens, and a group of six teens form an unlikely alliance in order to save the school…and the world!
The Faculty has an ensemble cast, and the film has a very limited time in which to tell us all about its main characters. The way it does this is to have one scene that spans the introductions of everyone in a “blink and you’d miss it” kind of job. It’s a great demonstration of streamlining information to ensure that everything you need to know about a situation/character is covered in the briefest time possible.
Here’s the clip:
And here’s how this all breaks down:
We open with an establishing shot of the school itself. Seems relatively calm, relatively unspectacular, and we also get the name, Herrington High. The more observant will also notice the sign says “Home of the Hornets”, suggesting that this is a football-centric school, and indeed town.
Cut that in with the introduction of…
Trust me, man. I’m brilliant.
Zeke’s a cool guy, and we know this because he listens to D Generation and rolls up to school in a Pontiac GTO. He drives recklessly, almost causing a student driver to crash, and he doesn’t park in the lines! He’s also something of a delinquent, as we can see from the shifty way he stuffs mysterious “pens” into his pocket.
We then get treated to a car crash and two girls brawling over it. Notice I said “brawling”. This is no sissy fight. These two are ripping into each other like animals. We see immediately what Herrington High is like, since no one else in the area really shows much concern at the fight, suggesting this kind of thing the norm.
The school bus pulls up and we meet…
Sorry. My fault.
Notice how sheepishly Casey gets off the bus, while casting awkward glances to a girl who doesn’t notice him at all? Not only does Casey get elbowed in the face within seconds of appearing on screen, but he actually apologises for it, making out that getting an elbow in the face was somehow his fault. We immediately “get” Casey: he’s weak, a target for bullies, and generally pathetic. We pity Casey. The incident is noticed by…
Crash and burn, Casey.
Now, if her dark clothes and smeared eyeliner don’t spell it out for us, Stokely is “alternative”. The way she acknowledges Casey’s predicament with a scornful remark tells us she’s something of a bitch, but it also tells us that she’s noticed Casey in distress (the rest of the students ignore him completely), showing she’s observant. Distracted by the girls still dogfighting over the crash, Stokely walks straight into…
You ran into me, beast.
Despite the letterman jacket suggesting he’s the stereotypical meat-headed jock, Stan’s actually quite considerate in the first instance. See how he asks Stokely if she’s OK, and how gently he’s really reaching for her, before she rants at him and he defaults to a childish comeback. After the encounter, Stan approaches…
These are Estée Lauder lips, take seventy-two minutes to apply!
Delilah, the girl Casey was making googly eyes at. She’s superficial and self-obsessed, interested only in looks and status. As a brief sidenote, who the FUCK wears lipstick that takes OVER AN HOUR just to put on? Anyway. She and Stan are in a relationship, but from the looks of it, not a particularly happy one. Notice how she pushes Stan away and how little she listens to anything he has to say, while being generally condescending and treading all over Stan’s attempts at giving her a headline for the school paper? Yeah, she’s a bitch. Delilah heads off to deal with editor business, and other jocks catch up with Stan, clearing the way for Casey to take another quick beating. This time he’s noticed by…
I like what you’ve done with your nose ring, really brings out the colour in your eyes.
Marybeth Louise Hutchinson is a country girl, naive, sickeningly sweet. She doesn’t really understand Herrington High’s social etiquette. It’s blatantly obvious she doesn’t belong here, and we feel a little pity for her, too.
Inside the school itself, we get to very briefly see a random couple arguing in the halls. This is important later, because it shows the changes the aliens make to the people they inhabit. At this point in time, it just gives us another example of how little the people around care about these kind of incidents.
Zeke heads into the men’s room, after briefly noticing Marybeth for the first time**. He provides two students with fake IDs, and throws in some home-made drugs to sweeten the deal. He’s a total badass and a self-professed genius (read: egotistical), even though he’s repeating his senior year***.
Finally, we close the scene on Casey again, who is recovering from his multiple injuries in the nearby stall.
It mirrors the differences between these two characters, how one is the winner and the other is the loser.
This single scene tells you everything you need to know about the characters at this point. Their time for change, for development, is coming, but at this stage, absolutely everything you need to know is right here.
The Faculty is a very fast-paced film, and every scene, every action, every line had something to do with the plot. If I had the time, I could probably do a similar analysis for every scene. It takes no time off to meandre; nothing happens in The Faculty without a reason.
As a writer, the important thing to take away is this:
Everything you write, every chapter, every scene, every sentence, has to have a reason to be there, has to help progress the story.
** With the way the relationships end out by the end of the movie, the three briefly hinted pairings in this opening (Casey and Delilah, Stokely and Stan, Zeke and Marybeth) are really interesting.
*** We later discover Zeke’s repeating his senior year, because he doesn’t apply himself, though I’ve always suspected the other reason he’s repeating his senior year is because it creates slightly less of an issue that he’s sleeping with one of the teachers, as insinuated by the end of the film, if he’s definitely over the age of consent.