Friday, 15 December 2017

An Open Apology To Writing

I never thought I'd lose writing.

It seemed as natural as always having toes. It was the one thing that warmed the cockles of my waning spirit as I traversed a sea of mathematics and technology that terrified me with its arctic depths. It was almost this mother-figure that would love me and stand by me, no matter how rigorously I put it through the wringer. It tried not to judge me as I grappled desperately with the ever-fattening demands of journalism, and twisted a phrase so it was grammar-unfriendly, but a moth-to-clickbait's-flame.

It watched patiently as I sacrificed a turn of phrase dripping with derision and delicious audacity for one that was, to put it simply, 'on-brand'. It watched as I replaced language with jargon, and forgave me for the haphazardness of youth. It took a shafting on the regular, happy only in its service, pleased to be part of my day-to-day with such unwavering delight that it took what it could get; misogynist undertones and the fondant of frivolity in tow.

And it didn't sound out so much as a peep as I chose ambition over passion. As I neglected to acknowledge that, in the jelly-mold-set career paths we all drone down, onward and forward with unfettered singularity, I was giving up the one thing that made getting up on a grey day with biting candour in it's chill, worth it. In even the lowest moments of candy-almond vapidity, there was solace, because the writing was there. It was the long-distance of loves, but the commitment was there.

And in one fell swoop of a pre-packaged society-spurred desire to propel myself upwards into the vagueness of the 'bigger, better', I renounced the one thing I had promised myself to in the Bambi-eyed freshness of my youth, and renewed in the mild (mostly misinformed) wisdom of the twenty-something: That I'd 'do what I loved'.

And now, as poor writing stands aching for a way to break into my everyday, it watches me tweak, admonish and shape other writers as my own mighty pen (or rather, solitary typing finger) is laid to rest, only to be brandished in gentle spurts as it control<deletes a dying phrase and replaces it with my own voice, quietly yearning to sing.

It watches, as I labour in the hope that someday, I'll find a few spare seconds to check if I remember how to write. And I wonder, with my desperation at its discreet best, when I will forget.

Friday, 12 May 2017

A Hack Of All Trades

“I’m Exactly Like That!" is a phrase I use too often. I say it every time someone picks tomatoes out of their food, and talks about how they can spend 17 solid hours marathon-ing British panel shows. I feel akin to somebody that’s never seen Lord Of The Rings, or that doesn’t know how to cycle. It’s not unusual to have that almost consanguineal feeling with a friend or a stranger, but I sometimes wonder if that tends to govern the way I function.

It’s a messy little pastiche of thoughts—I’ll separate the elements to try and come to some compromise on coherence.

I feel that way like, 97 percent of the time.

It’s unreal how often I find a natural tilt toward someone frame of mind, someone’s opinions or someone’s world view. You’d argue that well, 'of course you do'. Doesn’t everyone agree with someone? What’s so unusual about having an opinion that syncs up with someone else’s?

There is the theory that there is no such thing as an original thought—and this surprised gasp of yours flows seamlessly into this theory—if someone has an opinion, how unlikely is it that you’ll have it as well.

That’s the thing, though. I agree, and I don’t. That’s a quintessential example of my dual-view of the world. I agree with everyone—and disagree with them in equal parts.

There are certain things I can’t counter myself on—the things I mentioned at the start. When something about me is a Definitive Fact.  I don’t like whole tomatoes, I just don’t. Non-negotiable. I’ll never like them, so I’ll never be able to nod in compliance with someone who could make love to a chunky bruschetta.

But the other things—the ones that aren’t set in stone but, perhaps, fast-drying clay, are more up for debate. When I hear somebody talk about how they can’t live without a workout, I feel all their feels. But at the same time, I feel a hearty kinship with someone who prefers fries to free-weights, and I think to myself, 'I’m so much like her!' I love working out, and I look down on it simultaneously.

This strange discord extends to multiple things. In my head, I’m just as much an insouciant flower child as I am a hardwired corporate bitch. I’m just as big on going out as I am on staying in. I’m as much for living out your dreams as I am for being staid, stable and paycheck-centric.

It becomes hard to pronounce my loyalties to a certain school of thought, because the idea of choosing that archway means closing every other door. I can’t be competitive and collaborative. I can’t be forgiving and vengeful. I can’t be body confident and wildly insecure about it at the same time…now, can I?

It’s extremely stymieing to have binary opinions about everything, but damnit, I do. I want to be all the things. I am the judge and the judged in every scenario. I hate Rom-Coms (so formulaic) but I love Rom-Coms (so comforting). I love the idea of living in a small town, but I loathe the idea of giving up the Big City Life. I think I'm a Jessica Pearson and a Liz Lemon. I’m pro animal rights, but also pro bacon.

I don’t know if anyone identifies with it at all—it is, after all, a terribly skewered thought. But I felt like I just had to write about it.

And at the same time, I really wish I hadn’t.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

“It’s not your fault...”

It was a mantra she’d started to recite on the way home. His mere presence in the front seat of the gargantuan jeep they were in was making her feel the desire to quake, but her muscles were thankfully abiding by her mental instructions to keep her body in check.

The liquor should’ve left her system, but it felt like it had blended with her blood. She felt the same way she always felt when she got off a long bus ride—dirty to her very core. Usually, a hot shower and whatever fragrant, floral shower gel was perched on her little shower stand had served as an immediate remedy. She had an inkling it might not be quite as effective this time.

Her best friend clutched her hand. She’d only been able to piece together her dismantled thoughts to tell her about it in the morning, when she'd finally mustered the courage to burst in on her, as she was finishing up her liaison with her indefinable 'friend'.   

As she’d stumbled through the words in front of her shocked, naked friend, set to the soundtrack of running water and the visual effects of shower steam, she felt for the first time what it might mean to be ‘handicapped’. Her body was betraying her mind, failing to act as the vessel of communication it should, and it was making her want to scream—but again, she couldn’t.

She hadn’t been able to all of last night. She could count how many times she had wanted to. It was a feeling she would remember all her life, that rhapsodical yearning to shout aloud in protest, with not one crumb of the strength she needed to do it.

She had wanted to every time her friend had left her drunk and immobile, in the darkened room she had deposited her in, folded like a calzone in a threadbare mattress.

She had wanted to every time he entered the room after he’d ascertained she had left. Every time his six-foot-two football player’s figure slid into the sliver of space beside her, and took it over with the immenseness of his frame.

The same eyes she’d commented on as being attractive in a private whisper to her friend now glinted occasionally at her in the shades of the black the room had settled into, and she had wanted to every time they darkened a little more with every touch.

She wanted to every time he left with a nervous quickness at the sound of approaching voices, and every time her friends returned to ‘make sure she was okay’. Her unintelligible squawks were classified as drunken attempts to join in the chatter, and petted away via friendly strokes of her disheveled hair.

She had wanted to when he came in again. And again. And again. Moving in a fluid pattern of timing and precision and once upon a slip, the pretence of ‘checking up’ on her. It became a circle of hell in its litany, and she was frozen.

She wanted to when they came in and spoke to her in hushed tones, telling her they were going to go over and sleep  in another friend’s house, but that she shouldn’t worry. He would stay with her. ‘Look after’ her. Drive her home the next morning.

She had taken all her screaming-strength and sent it to her legs, that buckled in myriad ways as she fumbled chaotically for support to stand. She had clung to her friend’s neck and not let go, and she had let them take her away with them.

She had wanted to when her friend lay her down gently and with the innocence of oblivion and good intent in a room, and gone off to fuck the man that had been waiting to all evening, in the room next door.

She had wanted to when he came in lay down beside her, charged afresh by the frantic moans flowing relentlessly from the adjoining room.

She had wanted to the hardest when his girlfriend came in, the after-tones of happy conversation in her voice and called out for him. Her body had never felt as exhausted as the last four hours had made it. With the battered breath of someone who had just returned from battle, she had gone to sleep, her arms clutched around her body by default.

Her friend finding out had made her Fort Knox herself, and he couldn’t come anywhere near her without her friend almost emanating a near-feline hiss. (It hadn’t touched the mood of the rest of the collective that was gathered around coffees and last night’s leftovers, the tenor of the soiree unsuspecting and dynamic.)

And now, the car they had piled into (simply because they had piled out of it together last night) had skidded to a stop outside her house. She started the short walk up the narrow artery that led to it, and her friend scrambled out of the car to walk with her. After assuring her several times that she didn’t, in fact, need her to stay, her friend hugged her tightly for many minutes and said:

“You can’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.”

And she knew, with the fire of a thousand burning suns, that she was right.

And she knew, that for everything she wrote about, rallied about, talked about and preached about, she still felt like it was. And that made her want to scream the most of all.