REPORT A PROBLEM
Looking over old posts on a variety of places, I find the odd phrase that works, the odd sentence that sings. I know that the more I write, the more this will happen.
I do not want 100 words to be another livejournal – this is not a diary. But nor can I plan what I am going to write each day – May failed because of that. If I am to mine gold from this seam, I must dig anew each day, and write 100 words of whatever I need to at that point.
I sit at my keyboard, and type.
She always made her best decisions just after she awoke. There is a clarity to thought when it is unencumbered by the cares and worries of the passing day. Just after waking, before moving, she was able to assess the world, and see problems and solutions as dancers moving harmoniously across an empty ballroom.
She had split up with him after a long day, driving from the northern tip of Wales to London in the pouring rain. They had been arguing constantly, and she was very tired. She was never sure if that had been a good decision or not.
He had showered her with words and attention, phoning her every day. She had fallen into a rhythm of ring tones, expecting to hear his voice in the morning and the evening. Their chats were inconsequential, never more than three or four minutes long, and rarely touched on topics of any importance.
He had become a regular fixture in her life, and it seemed only sensible to make him a part of the rest of it. They had dated, kissed, touched. They fumbled and learnt of each other, slowly, step by step. And then he asked her to marry him.
Marriage? At her age? None of her friends wanted to get married. They were all stretching their wings, learning where the boundaries were, if they existed at all. Life was for the living, they would say, as they gathered around small glass tables in mirrored bars, multi-coloured bottles of modern alchemy in front of them. Don't tie yourself down. Don't commit. Grab for ourselves what they've had for ever.
Always opposition. Always small warbands of whooping warriors on the bass filled battlefield. The language of war, not of love or even like.
They were all night time decisions too.
That's where the rot started. She would later blame arguments, lack of care, drunkenness. But it was the proposal that caused her to wake each morning, his snoring form beside her, to think. She didn't dream of a white dress and a train, nor did she see 2.4 children and a cottage in the country, roses climbing the walls and a dog barking.
She saw a lack of choice, and a loss of freedom. Her morning thoughts began to echo her night despairs, until she began to mistrust them both. How could she not get married? They were in love.
And then came the drive. They had been doing a walking tour of north Wales when all the doubts and pressures and anxiety came to a head. It had been while he had been droning on and on and on about some war or some castle or some king. He had been standing on the edge of a granite outcrop and she had been filled with the overwhelming desire to just push him off the cliff and drive home in perfect silence.
Splitting up was less likely to get her locked up in jail for the rest of her life.
Today I have many investigations to carry out. I must find a secret cult that is infiltrating my companions, hunt for an assassin, help find a book and save the world. It's not the same world we're all in, but it's one that's important to me, and to perhaps a hundred other people. Today will be a day of stress and thought – though I am not a lawyer I will have to make many judgements upon the law. And all this whilst wearing armour and carrying a sword.
I expect this to make no sense to anyone else reading this.
I listened to the roll call of those who were missing; those whose bodies had been closest to the explosion. I had seen the burns and blood on the face of my Mater, and I knew she was stronger than any of us. This had nearly killed her. How could you have hoped to survive, my sister? My friend?
My Mater read out your name, and tears ran down my face, uncaring of who saw my weakness, uncaring of who saw my grief. I pray that you are alive still, but I do so without hope. Sleep peacefully, little bird.
Green walls, bright, Kermit green. The walls of this room are a colour only a child could love, the posters on the wall encouraging us to count with the help of Meg the cat and to learn our letters (X is for Xenomorph? It looks like an Alien, but A is for Apple).
The paper bulges and undulates; this is an old house, and the walls are not perfectly square anymore, if they ever were. I should strip the green wallpaper off, go back to bare walls and paint them adult, sensible, dull white.
But I like Kermit green walls.
My local chip shop used to have a sign on the wall which prohibited jumping inside. There were several signs – no mobile phones, no sleeping, but the one prohibiting jumping was the one that intrigued me. I could understand if this were aimed at the staff – hot fat is a very dangerous thing, and should not have people skylarking around it, but the sign was hung in the customer area, beyond the counter.
They have changed the sign to something much more mundane and I am no longer filled with the desire to jump, just to see what would happen.
If we have no passion, those things we do have no depth. They have no heart, and no soul. The worst existence we can have is one that has no passion, no fire.
People don't care about grey. People don't get passionate about crap. People endure that, or ignore it. Maybe they complain about it, but the complaints are half hearted and without real weight. They don't get angry if at heart, they don't care.
When you're fighting with someone you care for, make sure you're fighting about something that you care about as much. Don't waste energy on mediocrity.
Today I taught people how to use Excel, and was rewarded by the light of comprehension in their faces. It's why I teach. I want to see that moment when their eyes say "I get it". I want to be there when they realise that this isn't difficult, isn't some club that everyone else is invited to but from which they will always remain excluded.
I want to be the doorman throwing the portals wide open and inviting them inside. It doesn't matter what they're learning. It's the act of understanding that I so want to be a part of.
Today is Friday the 13th. I don't expect a horror film to unwrap itself around me as I move through the day, but then until recently the protagonists never did. Is Scream postmodern? It breaks the conventions of the horror film by having the heroes know what is coming, but still be unable to save themselves from the peril that stalks them.
There are no monsters in Scream, only humans. I'm not sure if this is reassuring or the scariest thing about it.
I will dance tonight, and live, and love, and kick the ass of any zombies I encounter.
Night falls over the city, and the hot sun disappears, leaving a pleasant warmth to the air, a quiet and calm as people slow down and relax, the need to rush from shade to shade removed with the dusk. It is rare in this country that we understand the Mediterranean need for the siesta, but the chance to slumber in a cool bed at the height of the day's heat is one to savour.
There are large pleasures in life, and there are many little ones. Neither is so common that they should not be appreciated when they present themselves.
There is so much to do today, if I am honest with myself. Washing clothes, assembling furniture, moving rooms around to accommodate a new guest in a couple of weeks. But I woke at nine this morning, read mail, and went back to bed. It's now noon, and I'm considering facing the day.
There's something about a Sunday which makes me laze about. I take half an hour to make a cup of coffee as I potter from room to room, remembering after a while that I put the kettle on to boil. I'm only this absent minded on Sundays.
"telephone's ringing but I don't answer it, cos everybody knows, good news always sleeps til noon."
Cowboy Junkie lyrics resound as a text arrives at 3.15am. A friend, letting me know that she's just split up with her boyfriend, and that she feels awful. I'm touched that she chose me to share the news with, but saddened that there's nothing I can do, nothing I can say to make a difference at this moment. She's on the other side of London, so far away that little letters are how we communicate.
I'll wait until sunrise, then see how she feels.
There is a tension between desire and propriety that demands that we behave "well". Rules wrap us in silken cords that bind and constrict, pulling us in certain directions and restricting us in others. We make rules like spiders make webs, and we are as tied to them as the arachnid is. When did you last see a spider sans silk? When did you last see a human without constraints?
I dance on the strand that separates desire and propriety, willing myself to fall neither one way or the other. Like the spider, balancing is an art in of itself.
I get the strangest circulation sensation when I sit at a computer for a long time typing. Though I am naturally left handed, that was beaten out of me at an early age when it came to writing by a teacher who believed that left was in fact the same as sinister. When it comes to typing, however, my left hand is more far active than my right, so when I wash my hands after an extended typing session, the water feels colder on my left hand, and hotter on my right, even though it's coming from the same tap.
I invented a game a few days ago. Three friends and I each wrote a piece entitled "Sunday" and they were all posted to LiveJournal. Our friends were invited to vote on which of us wrote which piece, based on their knowledge of our writing styles. So far, about 35 people have voted.
Interesting results – one person has an immediately obvious voice – two out of three people recognise it. But I come next in the scale, with half the readers knowing who I am merely from the shape of my words. I am gratified, and amused, and a little surprised.
Billy Bragg sings "Jerusalem" in his Barking accent and the words echo across hundreds of years.
"I will not cease from mental fight … til we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land".
That's what the protestant work ethic should be – not getting your head down and working just to earn enough money to live. Not spending your life doing something that passes the time. Not toiling away in a soul destroying office.
Create. Live. Aspire. Reach upwards, always upwards so that each day you build Jerusalem. And the next day, build it again. And again, and again.
The longest day, the shortest night. Half way through the first full year of my new life. I nest build today, tidying my flat so that I can decorate, shape it around me like an old comfortable chair, all its nooks and crannies known and its idiosyncrasies recognised and accounted for.
Tonight, I will go and dance, reclaim the beach at the side of the Thames and watch the river flow through this city. My city. I accept London, and allow it to shape me as I shape my flat. Let us see what shape I am in a year.
Imagine a path in a forest. It is marked by little more than indentations in the ground, the result of passages in the far past. No wheel tread spoils its surface; the summer grasses grow green and strong, unbent by the crush of ponderous feet.
Trees overgrow the path, making it shady and cool in the heat of the day. Wild flowers blossom along its edge, lending their perfume to tantalise the senses.
Will you walk down that path with me? Will you take that risk, not knowing where the path leads? Will you take that risk, not knowing me?
"The usual sir?"
There is a little coffee shop on the way to my work. Each morning I buy an almond croissant and eat it with my first coffee as I read email and plan my day. Like most fast food places in London, the staff turnover there is high, and it is rare that English is their first language. This one tends to employ staff from the former USSR for some reason.
I've been stopping there regularly for about 6 months. Now, I'm apparently a regular, and have a "usual". I smiled the rest of the way to work.
I don't know what to write. There is a temptation to just let my fingers hit keys at random, to see what phrases come out, but I think this will be a disappointing day. I have started three paragraphs today, and none have made it more than 30 words in before I have deleted them in disgust.
This is the discipline of 100 words; to despoil the virgin page regardless of desire, regardless of motivation.
The irony of the fact that I can write a whole 100 words entry on not being able to write is not lost on me.
I am surrounded by disruption and the detritus of a decision. There is space around me and I am going to share that with someone, to make my life easier and to stop some of the echoes in this place. This causes other problems – there are books in boxes and bags of clothes in the basement and I cannot find things that I know are in here. There is a simple fix to this problem. I should tidy, but I cannot muster the energy. Someone mail me a bucket of motivation? I don't have any of my own to spare.
There was a cat in my basement this morning. We have a local cat lady, who takes in the waifs and strays from the local pet sanctuary – the ones they say will only last a few weeks. Under her care they survive and thrive and spread. They're clean and, once they're over their fears, friendly.
One, a beautiful grey short hair, something like a smoke coloured Siamese, has adopted me, mewling to be fed, or listened to. "Pay attention to me!" It spends a lot of time basking in my garden. And this morning, somehow, it was in my basement.
A few years back, my sister gave me a great coffee maker. It's designed for two intimate cups of freshly ground coffee, shared at the end of a romantic meal with candles and strawberries and the fencing of flirting.
It also works great for morning mugs. Get up, switch on, go wash. By the time you're done, so is the coffee, at a drinkable heat, and with a delicious aroma spreading throughout the kitchen.
This morning, I discovered that if you don't put ground coffee in it, you get a lovely cup of hot water. I should be more awake.
I cry easily these days. Tears come to my eyes when my I see something sentimental, or hear something designed to tug at the heart strings.
But this morning, as I drink a cup of coffee and get ready for the day, flicking through the channels in search of entertainment, I hear rolling, rounded, deep tones.
A 15 minute show, discussing great speeches of the 20th century. Just enough time to tell us a little of what was going on surrounding those words.
"Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Tears fall, slowly.
The books cover all of the walls. The books are the walls. The wallpaper and paint are irrelevant to the feel of this room as they cannot be seen. Instead, the decoration is the mosaic of thousands of differently coloured spines, each sending out a seductive message. Read me. Read me next. Stop reading what you're reading now. Read me instead.
The weight of a million million words press in on whoever stands in this room. It takes a strong will or an obtuse mind not to be affected by the sheer density of text and ideas. Read me now?
100 words. 30 days. Not the shortest month of the year, not the longest. 3000 words in all.
This has not been the easiest month. There were more days of sitting squeezing the words out, incontinence in action, than March. There are less days that I'm happy with, though time and the demands of an uncaring Internet will judge that better than me.
I'm kidding myself, of course. These words aren't written to be judged. They are written to force me to write each day. So I feel accomplished. It is a small victory, but a victory none the less.
The Tip Jar