unapologetic: a diane keaton phase

i recently lost someone close and dear to me, and that’s not what this post is about. but i have to start it by saying that i am sitting in my garden on what is probably the perfect london day of the year – a balmy 17°C and literally no cloud to be seen. a boozy lunch for a friend’s birthday and a short afternoon and cancelled mandolin lesson left me with nothing to do but ponder in this perfect space.

this type of day, and this type of afternoon call to attention the fact that i will never again spend this type of afternoon drinking a beer on a blue-domed patio with the person that i lost. and that’s ok. we already had loads of them. but it didn’t stop me from spending a full 17 minutes sobbing on the sofa after battling unexpected tears on my early train home.

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lately i’ve been telling people i’m going through a diane keaton phase. i originally thought this up because i have recently and i’ll hastily add very justifiably, i know, taken to random and unexpected fits of crying. clearly when you are grieving this is normal and to be expected. but i started to feel a bit like diane keaton, who in a number of roles has had moments of unbridled emotional outpouring. diane is the most amazing on-screen crier i have ever seen, best evidenced in her role as playwright erica barry, who falls in love with her daughter’s boyfriend (played by jack nicholson) in something’s gotta give. it’s too good.

she also had some similar (ly well-acted) sob scenes in a less-good film called and so it goes starring opposite michael douglas. and others.

i’ve always loved diane but it wasn’t until recently that i really realised how fucking cool she is. she’s dated some of the most interesting and sought-after men. warren beatty, al pacino, steve jobs and woody allen, and was woody’s original and most endearing muse (i know she defended him after his sex scandal broke but let’s put a pin in that for the moment) in some of the best roles he ever wrote.

but she never married any of them.

in her early years she was one of the first women in hollywood (or full stop) to pioneer wearing men’s clothes – she is often seen in super-hot skinny ties and suits draped off her, with trilby hats and fantastic brogues.

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and okay, whatever about fashion, right, because that’s not how we judge a person, but i do so admire the way she has used fashion to mirror her independent spirit. she has side careers as a photographer, book editor, author and real estate tycoon. she decided to become a mother on her own at the age of 55. diane always seems to do just what’s right for diane. unapologetically, and with an energy that astounds me. and having been raised in an era when women battled their way up way more than now, and even still it feels like a slog most of the time. i just kind of want to be her.

i recently spent a weekend afternoon watching old clips of the ellen show when diane was a guest. she’s been a guest on the ellen show a lot, and she and ellen get on swimmingly. diane is kind of typecast as a ditz, and whether her art has imitated her life or vice versa, she certainly comes off as having zero fucks to give and always having the time of her life. giggling, talking about men triple half her age she’d like to get with (she thinks justin bieber is a fox and while i’d question her taste i certainly admire her absolute verve in the proclamation). i appreciate that we can never really know what a celebrity is like in their home life, and we all have our closets don’t we, but diane seems to be diane and i like that.

not too long ago, i read an article (couldn’t be bothered finding it but i’m sure if you google you will come up with the one or one just like it) by a woman who realised her tendency to apologise in everyday conversation, and started replacing all but the very true sorries with thank yous. my friend kathleen and i have taken up this habit, with the mantra NO SORRIES every time one or the other falls into the trap, and it’s amazing how often i feel those two little words creeping from my lips. and how freeing it has been to let go of them when i am able. which isn’t always.

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being unapologetic is part of being vulnerable – a wider goal i have in my life of late. it’s hard to be unapologetic in a culture that thrives on saying sorry for every single interaction. in britain, you apologise to a cafe server before you even start to order your food.

i am tired of being sorry for who i am. of being sorry for what i’ve achieved. of being sorry for existing as an emotional being. of being sorry for having the correct change, or not the correct change. of being sorry for needing to cry when and where it happens and of needing my friends full stop. of being sorry for wearing clothes i like even if someone else hates them, and of being sorry for my taste in things even if the world thinks they are shit. i am tired of being sorry for not being the right size and for not being good at maths, and for not being good at maths because i’m a girl, and for not doing the things i’m supposed to do and oftentimes doing all the things i’m not supposed to do. i am tired of being sorry for picking diane keaton as a hero on the off chance people might think that’s a bad choice. i am tired of being sorry for not living up to a standard that was set by someone before i was even born, and i am very tired of apologising to myself for not being the person that other people might have expected, or even groomed, me to be.

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my mantra this year is that it’s 2017. we are all in a freefall. love who you love, even if it makes you want to resist the urge to apologise. live your best life, even if it’s difficult and uncomfortable for awhile. and because CRYING HELPS embrace your diane keaton phase. i am aiming to make mine last for the rest. and when i am 71, i want to be as full of life and devoid of apologies as she seems to be.

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