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I strolled through the awesome expanse of the Liverpool Cathedral with my fiendish friend, my demonic acquaintance, and we lurked at the feet of enormous columns, and our footsteps echoed in the beconing chasm of the tower as we climbed the escherite staricase to the top, I unusually dizzy, skin creeping with the fear that I should jump after all, onto those largest bells. He told me once he could see patterns as they emerge in life/lives, and suddenly no-one is sleeping through the night, I and all my friends are waking in the small hours, aimlessly. Coincidence?
Turns out everyone can hear you scream in cyberspace. I have discoved the 'stats' option on blogger, and it blew my mind. Turns out that what I thought would be a tiny self-focused murmur, a bit of an internal dialogue, a bit of a diary open to a few friends and acquaintances, has been visited, since it's birth in Jan 2010, 884 times, and counting. And the bulk of these visits were not the tortoured 'oh I'd better have a look 'cause she asked me to', but random strangers looking up pictures of caged tigers and conspiracy theories. Hymph!
Pretty convinced this is a foolish idea, that I won't be able to do it, that I've just spent 26 pounds on an entry I will chicken out of using at the last moment. Most training programmes I've seen are at least 12 wks long - I have 8. I am doing some running now, but I feel tired and de-motivated. Maybe I'm trying too hard, running too fast, it's quite likely. It would be a bit embarassing though to finish in over 2h... Sheeesh, even this can take a hold over me and change from past-time to obligation!!!
The wind is freaking me out.
invisible giant sprinting down the park, ramming his shoulder against the building with a howl
an overturning sensation, feeling of rolling, feeling of falling although I'm sitting down
as if the wind was inside me, peeling off my hair, my scalp, the bone, emptying my skull, entering my spine, howling in my nerves, making me shake with the emptiness
it's an empty sound, an overpowering feeling I yield to, I grow weak, my muscles dissolve, I become a piece of white transparent plastic whirrled up into the sky, caught on a branch, violently thrashing
The calming music of wind chimes is transormed into jarring clanking. It is always a nice walk, down the wide street lined with tall, mature trees, with the large houses removed from the pavement, half-hidden in the vegetation, this quarter of the city inspired by Boston. There are always owls, and one is calling shrilly right now, from the dampness above. The rain is incessant. The pub is a warm haven, but the beer is just going off so it's not the perfect pint I was looking forward to. The walk back is always agonising, slow, feet dragging, sleep.
So she had made up her mind. Still feeling sick with the heavy knot in the stomach, with the choking sensation at the throat, and the tiredness, so overpowering, no energy for kindness. She made her mind up, and she finally said it. They were splitting. He will move out, and she move elsewhere. Talked until the small hours, again. The following day she went to sleep at seven, and slept for twelve hours straight, without so much as stirring. Woke up a bit lighter. Every day, feeling a bit lighter. Perhaps there is a chance at happiness after all.
She asked me what I did apart from work, and I found myself saying 'we', 'we', 'we' quite a lot. Because even when it's not 'we' doing the action, it is usually 'we' in the same space anyway. 'We' are like ferrets and like to coil around one another. 'We' like to walk along one another. And he still laughs at my inane jokes, god that is such a relief, I think if he should ever look at me with contempt as I try to be funny that would be the end, earth opening under my feet and all that.
These long conversations with my boss on the cosy sofas in one overheated room or another are happening more and more often. Sometimes I don't understand what she is talking about, even after I've asked. They're good, cultivating a relationship, but at the same time leave me a bit... not uneasy but maybe confused. Difficult to walk the right line between colleague and employer, especially in the academia. On the one hand the chats, on the other secretive or perhaps just thinking too much and not saying enough, so I end up piecing together possible futures from crumbs of information.
So apparently we did nearly eight km this evening; to be fair, it was a bit more downhill than uphill in the end, but, to be fair, only a bit. And my knee is still alive, although creaking as if I were a hundred... oh well, we'll see. Should I not be able to run after all, our little neighbour will cheer me up - he came over today 'to play' with A (a play-date 60 years his senior)and apparently he is buying me a sparkling pink make-up set which was advertised on TV for Christmas. Hah hah
Standing on the windy edge of nothing, the air was cold and salty, and the clothes were sodden with spray. A gull apeared from below, and was swept away just as quickly. A pebble fell into the sea as he changed his position. He watched it disappear into the boiling whiteness below. There was no way to hear the splash over the roaring which shook the cliff. Further down the beach, the ships were landing, black and sleek and alien. He turned around, facing the land, the grass, the heather, with the sea at his back. And he let go.
One of A's stories.
He rembers a ship being moored in Sligo bay, every time he went there. It had appeated one day, populated with an Eastern Europen crew, Bulgarian or Romanian. The boat was Russian, but apparently they had stolen the boat in lieu of unpaid wages, and sailed it all the way, probably from the Batic, around Scotland, and the thing was flat-bottomed! They lived in the boat for a few days, and then disappeared. Well, this guy became interested in byuing it, but there was no-one to buy it from. However, by that time, it
been moored in the bay for so long without payment that the admiralty could legally take it over, and sell it to cover the mooring cost. According to international sea law, they had to announce their taking over of the boat by nailing a notice to the mast. But, the boat didn't have one! So two carpenters were called in to erect one - a broom handle would have done, but no, they installed this fifteen foot mast, varnished! And nailed the notice to it. So it was sold, and painted a revolting pink colour, and one day burnt down mysteriously.
I should have left early, as usual, I really needn't have waited for them. How dare I comment favourably on his sister's horrible tattoo. Oh, tired even thinking about this, what an obsessive man, what a stressful place, not seen them joking or laughing together or being kind to one another all weekend. I know they're tired an whatnot, but seriously... why have kids then, if it's just going to lead to misery?
For all the goodness in the world
I shall sulk and frown and pout
For either I am on the top
The date was accidental, really. It was just a great series of coincidences. It so happened we had a can of caviar kicking about the pantry, and a bottle of fantastic prosecco from my friend in Italy, and we had bought buckwheat flour for bliny, and two types of goats cheese, and I had a pair of red stockings, and a new pair of very high heeled red shoes had just arrived, and one thing led to another, voila, a v-day dinner with all the trimmings, at home. Pretty perfect, actually, including cooking together and falling asleep together, early.
I'm on Skype chat about work (ish), when, groping for a document on the bed by my side, my hand lands on something smooth and cool and small. I pull it out from under the covers, and it's an egg. Chalky-white, with brown spots. Caught in the act by my interlocutor, I make a flippant comment about kids and sweets. I play with it for a while, then put it down on the desk, fingers smelling of vanilla. Bit later, typing, I catch the signt of it again. I could swear it had wobbled. And there is a crack.
Blame the parents for my natural urge to please everyone. But don't take advantage of it. I thought you were cooler than that. I've been there to support your crazy schemes all those years, and now you tell me I'm worthless. It's not all about you dear. No money has been ever 'thrown at me', and no opportunities have magically fallen into my lap. Why should they fall into yours? What have you done to prove yourself here? You've made your decisions, taken on different responsibilities, so live with the consequences.
I don't think I want to see you again.
Listen to music. Print out chapter, edit, write conclusion. Play an online game in the background. Chat with friends. Grind teeth and start thinking conceptually about vine pruning (bloody hybrids). Get stressed over the next deadline. Make another coffee. Worry about supervisor's silence. Finish at half five, go to the gym with my man. Come in on Sunday, start writing book review, finish notes for educational project, deal with book reviewers. Watch a movie together, drink.
I would honestly be happy to keep on going like this for a long time. The money is shit, but the life is good.
That was encouraging. The words from my friends, the support, their indignation. So it's not just me. So it's ok to be a bit teenage-like for a while, to assert ones right to be in this place, to assert the self-wroth, to remind oneself of it.
I had to give Kettle a big hug today. So neat and disciplined and humble, and so worried and neurotic and perfectionist and constipated. It's like looking into an alternative reality, the left trouser leg of the possible future. I hope she looks at me like a window into a future possibile.
Apparently an incidental Indian somewhere said this sometime to someone, who scurpulously noted it down so that it became common ethnographic knowledge that Native Indians Believe That What Happens to You in Your Dreams is No Less Real Than What Happens to You in Waking. Which, I always thought, makes sense. It still happens to You, and just because there is no-one else around to hear the tree fall it doesn't make the crash any quieter. So when I woke up after a series of stressful dreams in which I quarrelled with my family I was no less upset.
I ran into a student of mine the other day at Tesco's, kept running into one another in various aisles me him and his dreadlocky friend who is a framer, and we ended up walking home-wards together, him talking constantly, mature student, drop out from hallam, debt, parties, music, all that. Nice, actually. When I told K I chatted with 'a student of mine' he gave me a 'you're a smart cookie' hug. I always thought of this PhD as something to do which is not an alienating office job. But maybe there is more to it than that.
Re-reading some 100words entries, and looking through my fieldwork notes reminded me of how agonisingly unpleasant fieldwork was for most of the time, living in other people's homes, always dependant on their good will not just for data collection but for your personal well-being, without a space you can call your own in which you can relax and be yourself, always searching, always polite, always tensed up. No wonder I lost so much weight, I used to go hungry rather than ask them for food, and most of the time had no possibility for buying my own provisions.
The address on my ebay parcel said: Essex. Essex, oh, how posh, I thought. And then I thought: oh, but is it? Is it not by chance chavvy? I had to laugh then, note loudly that I had become British, that I am trying to position myself socially even in relation to an address on an envelope and that I am, therefore, pathetic.
More positioning today at a teaching meeting. One of four students, two black, two white (I in the latter category). I make sure to make eye contact with the former category, and not to interrrupt their talking. Pathetic.
Completely unlike I imagined. Tiny and thin and angular, lost in a huge cowlneck of her heavy sweater while I was panting from the heat as we all sat around in our six-hour meeting. A bit rigid, a bit intense, perhaps a bit stressed, it is her first month in a new city after all, although you'd think tht six years in Japan will have prepared her for pretty much anything. Serious, but sometimes wearing a light smile. Likable. Need to take her out for a drink, see if she unwinds, hear her stories of Japanese working and living.
There is a warm breeze and hazy sunshine. The streets are lazy and empty, smelling of dust. Girls are showing their legs. The city seems calmer, more silent, slower, a city cap-napping in the first spring sunshine. The coming of good weather always makes me anxious. Not sure why. Had a conversation with K this morning about winning the lottery, and the prospect of actually not having to worry about money nearly paralysed me. Is my identity so reliant on work, on challenge, and optimistically dealing with adversity? Very likely. Change that. Enjoy myself more for what I am.
Reading about scientific uncertainty, and the importance of material time, I come accross a chapter on Chernobyl. The book was published in 1998, twelve years after the event. I was two when ut happened. I never really thought about it; my sister remembers having her throat smeared with iodine, I don't remember anything. But Barbara Adam is right, as a species we forever live with the unforeseeable consequences of our actions, and now, twenty four years later, I am told I have an underactive thyroid, and that this illness never used to occur in young women, until Chernobyl that is...
Tipsy now. K and A have gone to the pub, but I am full of Italian food and wine and wish for sleep only.. we had a wonderful evening at Taste, with a bottle of rich Fascist wine (how I will go about explaining to the Fascist that I used his wine for personal pleasure rather than public tasting I'm not sure as yet). Got so engrossed in conversation I forgot about food, but when I remembered it was just amazing. I love speaking with him, and wish he were doing a PhD too, such a brilliant mind being wasted.
Just read two critical essays on Lolita, and am offended by the one, bemused by both. I'm apparently a lazy and foolish reader for being taken in by the drama, and ignoring author's relentless reminders that he's really in charge, and that it's all a farce. But what's the POINT of reading fiction if not being swept away, emotionally and morally engaged and disturbed? Aesthetic appreciation is all fine, but great art is great not for the mastery of the skill, but for how it reaches for something within us, and stirrs it, and changes us in the process. Surely?
I feel in the zone, the music is good, my body is still tired from the run, but my mind is rested, I try to focus on the tasks at hand and do them justice, and avoid stressing, had to force myself to stop thinking about my mental 'to do' list in the middle of the night or I'd have not fallen asleep.
K found a funding offer at Leeds, for a Dante Phd. Badly paid, but there may be little competition. I'm so excited, and hopeful. He was so happy during his MA. I wish upon a funding star.
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