REPORT A PROBLEM
y u mad bro
At least three ice-cold showers a day, because the heat in Stockholm is unyielding. My hair is constantly messy and I tangle myself into my bed, half-naked and begging for some relief. Between the water and the warmth, I wonder how I will undo my disasters. How to save this life of mine that has gone into a steep decline since... Well. I am not entirely sure when it began. My mind is fuddled by the sweat that trickles down my spine, and I long for a cold night so I may sleep through my own impending apocalypse.
I ignore the pressing matters at hand, tug at the tangles in my hair and put the laptop on my knees, balancing it as I alter between typing notes and playing Mass Effect. Outside, there are intermittent rain showers, sending cool air through the window, and for the first time in nearly three weeks, I can breathe with ease. The summer warmth stifles me; I long for the cool winter to come around. Then, dreaming away, my fingers get caught in the tangled hair of mine, and I have to use a pair of scissors to free them once again.
It was a day of old paths crossing new ones. I saw many people I had not seen for long, and some I would rather not have seen at all. I sat in the public, watching gummy bears acting out an orgy on the stage; and I stood on high heels as the rain washed over my naked arms and the thunder cracked open the sky. There were cocktails, and a shy smile that lead to something more, a slight exchange that might become more... And I rode home on an empty subway train, feeling that blossoming sensation within me.
My hands were restless, perhaps that's why. When I stood on the subway platform with him in front of me, a minute to spare before the train rolled in, I put my hand on the back of his neck and leaned close for that first kiss.
A shiver that ran through me, and I smiled into his mouth. Two pair of blue eyes meeting, my cheeks flushed. I did not feel how burnt my tongue was from all the hot tea I had drunk earlier, nor the open gash on my hip that bled furiously. I just felt him.
I'm still reeling. I twisted over in my bed when I woke up, choking a smile into my pillow, and I wrapped the golden chain of my beetle necklace twice around my fingers, watching comedy films on my laptop.
When I ventured out, the rain soaked through my senses, and the cold winds surprised me in their fury.
I sent text messages back and forth with Felicia, but I felt too restless to write, to open books, or to play a game.
It's strange, how quickly I turned things around, how eagerly I jumped at the chance to move myself.
The streets are still wet with rain, and the clouds gather above, grey and heavy. I button up my cardigan and pull on my socks, holding a green clutch in my hands as I try to blur out certain things from my mind.
(Sticky fingers, sticky hands.)
I was going to do something grand, but a rolling wave of emotion swept me off my feet and plunked me back down in bed. At least my hair is smooth enough not to get caught in the pens I write with.
My stomach churns, but in a good way. Things are changing.
Two hands slowly inching closer in the darkness of a movie theater; one heart, beating furiously in my head; and one finger, lazily dragging out circles across my skin, making me shiver.
When we stepped out, there was a light rain and the buzz of foreign languages around us; I caught his hand and held it. His lips grazed my forehead, and on the subway train, I closed my eyes and let it wash over me, rendering me senseless.
As I stepped into my own apartment, my knees buckled and gave out under me, and I exhaled a trembling sigh.
My mother worked through my messy kitchen, giving each item an assigned place in one of the thirteen cupboards I have there – and I waded through the dust and dirt by the glass window wall, trying not to breathe.
My apartment had fallen into decay while I withered away inside myself, but then, mother came and helped me get started.
As I moved the book shelves and the bed around, while packing away more than half of my possessions for charity, I looked up and realized I had forgotten how large my apartment actually is.
Rediscovering my own home, indeed.
My apartment is thirty-eight square meters of pure air. (Just like I remembered it from when my brother lived here before me. But the scent was different.)
Having removed all the nasty piles of depression that hung around in droves, I can walk barefoot across the floor, amazed at what I'd forgotten about my own home. (An entire wall of only windows. The golden chair my mother gifted me with. The poetry in the corners.)
Friends have been invited for a later time, but for now, I'm alone, breathing slowly, soaking in the green colour scheme of my bathroom.
A cold breeze runs through the apartment, and my skin prickles into goosebumps. The oven has been running warm all day, the clock ticking away loudly as I wait for everything to cook thoroughly.
My wrists ache from holding the Nintendo DS, solving crime cases through the roundabout thinking of Phoenix Wright. (Objection! Hold it!)
In a way, I'm scared and I want to run, especially when I hear J.'s song, but I'll be brave. (Those dreams that linger at the edges of my consciousness while I chew slowly on a ill-tasting painkiller.)
A sluggish Sunday, as always.
The oppressive heat had slowly begun returning, and I thought about the withering green fields as I wandered outside the theatre, waiting for the clock to roll around for the interview to start. I was still too early, and I sat in the lobby, looking around, surveying the bar and tapping my fingers nervously against my kneecaps.
Half a glass of water and a couple of minutes later, everything was good: I had a non-paying job at a theatre doing this, doing that, and I went to peek at green interior design and the library's art section, counting minutes.
”Yeah, sure, we can talk about different levels of humiliation, but I'd rather not. You know what I'm going to do? I'm just going to sit here and play Phoenix Wright: Justice For All until my fingers fall off and I stop bleeding. What? Yes, I'm still eating those leftovers I made, and they taste good because they're rage-induced, and I'm lying to everyone all around because I want to hide how I truly feel, so I'm sorry if I can't be bothered to look twice over your particular way of twisting the truth around.”
Let the world end.
I put on my devil-mask and grinned deviously at Felicia, taking on the voice of Woland himself.
I made a cocktail out of Red Pleasure and vodka, and the sweet taste made me swivel in my chair, covering my lips with the sticky sweet substance. ”I want the entire world to cover me right about now,” I whispered, reclining lazily, tugging my dress up over my knees.
The floor was softer than I remembered it, and I laid myself to rest in my own bed, talking to the silent darkness about great injustices I lived through in another city.
My skull felt like it weighed a hundred kilograms, and my brain tumbled around inside, detached from any sort of attachments to this flesh and bone prison. Felicia awoke on my floor, and I pulled the sheet tighter around my body, feeling a growing chill from having slept half-naked by the open door, the wind rustling through, sneaking from window to window. Half a pitcher of mojito still stood in the kitchen after she left, and the smell made me gag.
Not a good day, and it wasn't until darkness rolled around again that I could begin to breathe.
As I was applying the toner to my testy skin, an explosion went off somewhere to the east of my apartment: I shrugged my shoulders and put on some night creme, scratching my itchy nose before sneezing from the lingering perfume cloud that Felicia left behind.
The emerging molars were still annoying me, so the teeth got their fair share of abuse from the toothbrush, while I peeked at the New York subway map tacked to the bathroom door. I'm beginning to think it's time to take it down. The pink shin scar from the seven line has faded, anyway.
My prison will be green.
I had a dream. In it, I saw a girl slowly undressing herself: undoing the knot that kept her black sweatpants up, letting her hair out, unbuttoning her shirt and tugging off her bra.
”We are absolutely nothing,” she said, voice flat. ”Deadened weights, traversing across a finite time and space allotted to us. We're dust particles, scattering, leaving indecpiherable traces of ourselves everywhere we go. I've smeared myself all over this place, hoping that I would be found again. I am dust.”
She looked at the crying boy on the bed. ”So are you.”
Eventually it became too much and I turned off the cell phone. Still, it laid on my bed next to me, a bright pink reminder that I'm failing at a lot of things.
Better to bite my tongue and let it simmer for a while. If I keep it all to myself – if I keep myself all to my own devices – then perhaps I'll be able to reign myself in and strap this terrible figurine down for long enough to beat some sense into her.
I want to ignite a spark and get this action going, purge myself of myself.
Words. I ignored my hunger for the sake of them, starving myself until the mind sharpened itself into a blade, cutting through the fog with a clear intent. My fingers trembled as I wrote feverishly. Around noon, I stumbled out and bought a salad, barely registering any residual taste in my mouth before I moved on to the next step of my plan. A slow, but deliberate, process.
I wonder how things will go this week. I know where I myself would like to go, but some choices you want to make are idiotic, and you have to overwrite them.
What summers in Stockholm are about.
The familiar feeling settled into me quickly as I held Haruki Murakami's book in one hand, breaking off bits of the grilled pear sandwich with the other, spilling crumbs all over the pages and leaving greasy stains at the margins. The sun filtered in through the window, warming up my back as I slowly turned the pages, devouring sentence by sentence. Around me, the café was slowing down after the lunch rush, people sitting two by two or alone, reading or talking, and the music drizzled out from the speakers at a pleasant volume.
Amanda called as I was typing up a few notes on the computer, turning fragments into coherent paragraphs.
When I was just getting into the flow of letting the words trickle out from my mind to my fingertips, Felicia texted me, wondering if I had been trying to call her. My thumb sent off a number of messages to her, before another person stole my attention away from the fiction I was conducting once again.
Shrugging my shoulders and yawning, I got up and went to wash my face with some cold water. The world seemed bent on interrupting me.
I tripped over my own heels, but for once, someone caught me before I fell handlessly.
I wonder if my clumsy feet did it just to test him, but I was lightheaded from the single glass of wine and kissing him made my head spin even faster than it used to, back in the day when I was dizzily trying to find my way across the same streets where he walked with me; me leading the way, holding hands.
I felt a strange sadness because I knew he would leave soon, and I would be alone in the city again.
The sun streamed in through the small window across my body, and I turned over in bed, feeling it tickle my nose until I sneezed loudly, breaking the solid silence. I laughed and scratched my back, getting out of bed gingerly, feeling the numbness in my legs as I stumbled across the kitchen floor, searching for water with my hands.
I thought that it was quite funny that I started sleeping on my stomach just a while ago, seeing as how I've always been one to lie on my back or side, but things change, everything flows, and it's alright.
I sat in the backseat of the car, feeling nauseated, but still managing to give some acid tongue to my brother about how he drove the damned car. It was strange to return to Dalarna after all those years – what can it be, six, seven? But to see my fraternal grandmother again, smiling, tiny and fragile, with bruises just from brushing against the door... Still, to see her, it was wonderful.
We ate pizza in her kitchen and she showed us pictures from when she was in Soviet, before we began the tedious drive home.
(Roadtrip music was craptastically wonderful.)
My mind ached in much the same way it did in the days after I visited Montauk last year; a long day spent on the road, to enjoy a few hours in a place of utter beauty and magnificent importance. I turned my books upside down, looking for a quote about that day on the beach, and finding it, I felt much less than I would have expected: it is good to be able to look back on that and have some distance, some time, and some other city to be in.
And fatigued, I pulled something old over me.
I thought I was supposed to do something more with my day than just a burp competition, but apparently it evened itself out when I turned my apartment upside down looking for a packet of batteries so I could play some games. Reading, studying – such impossible acts. Something else was stalking through the corridors of my mind, skulking through the construct I keep within myself – I suspect it was more pleasant than I'm willing to let on.
The phone didn't ring once, at least – and I finally grew tired of listening to Coldplay's ”Viva la Vida” for the hundreth time.
Back to high school, and the last year of the IB diploma programme. I was reluctant to go, but meeting some people again made it worth the terrible act of making myself presentable to the public eye. I had forgotten how an entire summer spent in silence can render you hungry for spoken words, but it was pleasant to talk, and to listen – and to wander through streets and eat baby squids for lunch and and and. It was a while since I came home with such exhaustion and yet a bright outlook on things.
Such beautiful songs, as well.
After a nine hour school day, I dragged my weary corpse back home to bake philosophical cookies and look despairingly in the direction of my art workbook. I've been running high and dry in regards to art, and there's little left of me that I can translate into colours that make any sense. I wish I could cut and paste the same clever ideas I used to have back onto those pages, but what can I add, beyond more lime green coats of acrylic ink and a splash of neon yellow? No, better bake some more cookies instead. Better tasting.
My chin had erupted into a nightmarish scene of a teenage display of zits and blemishes this morning; I squeezed them best I could and brushed my hair before smoothening out my dress and heading for the school.
While on the bus, a school class of young teens came on, and they glanced at me, whispering. I should be used to it by now – there's always been something odd about me that kids in that age pick up on – but I still swallowed hard and turned up the volume. Many years pass, and certain motions cannot be shrugged off, still.
The jarring loudness of the restaurant hurt, and the ringing in my ear got worse. I couldn't even hear what my brother was shouting in my ear. I spilled korma sauce over myself and had to show my ID to get a glass of wine. I couldn't determine why I felt so horrible: if it was because of the surroundings, or because it was the last time I would see my brother for a year. Upon leaving, I wrapped my grey wool knit around me, pulling tight, the autumn cold sneaking down my legs, curling around my purple high heels.
A rustling noise lingered in the air throughout the morning, the sun filtering through my green curtains, rousing me from sleep. Slowly, pain-stakingly, I decided not to move outside my apartment for the duration of the day, my head pounding too viciously for grandiose movements. Heating up some leftover pie, I checked the coats of paint on the latest batch, making notes on their backs of what else would need to be done. Rummaging through the bills, I found an outline for a project on one.
It's time to act upon it
, I thought, nibbling on my warm pie.
The sun was down when I sprinted across the square, and people were coming out of the evangelical church in the basement of an apartment building; in the stilled fountain, I saw myself reflected, the neon lights of the old signs shining behind me. As I entered the convenience store, I breathed a quiet sigh of relief over not being the only one doing some late single-item Sunday-night shopping, and dug out the frozen berries from the crowded freezers. As I crossed back over the square, two subway trains passed by overhead, and then all was quiet again.
The Tip Jar