About Silences [07.08.2017]

Apologies for not posting in a while!

I could claim many a culprit guilty for my absence on here- I have been travelling, caught up with family, reading too much, writing… alright, so the last excuse is most certainly a lie-

(I am trying very hard to work on that however. No, seriously)

– but honestly, I don’t feel like offering excuses. I suppose all I can say is that I haven’t felt like it.

I’ve always been taught that it isn’t such a good thing to say in defence of not doing something. I haven’t felt like it. Whether at school, at home, or at work, it is the worst resistence you can offer against a demand to do something, complete something. Goodness, I can hear my most odious teacher now, berating it.I take on that voice and the first person in my head is spiteful and spitting: So I don’t FEEL like it, huh? Well, what good am I for anything else? Can’t lift my lazy fingers and brain to put some words together, what else am I good for? Do you think the great people of the past put off doing their great deeds because at the back of their great minds, a tiny, great voice reminded them that really, they didn’t FEEL like doing something great on a particular day?

How easy it is to blow things out of proportion. But that’s what I’m King at. I know it’s not important as to whether I write a post or not. It’s my blog, I do what I want. But I suppose to me, it’s currently important that I face up to why I don’t do something. Being in recovery and desperately trying to get back in touch my both myself and the world, after years spent trying to reject feelings, is at last beginning to teach me things. One of those being that I sometimes can’t do things because, in one sense or another, at any one particular moment,

I don’t feel like it.

But what’s important is knowing that it doesn’t mean I’m always going to be this way.

So, I’ll be keeping at the monthly reading round-up where I can, and hopefully write about books at some point. I’ve made a change to not put them in ‘reviews’ anymore, rather, I’ll just put them down as my thoughts. I have a lot to learn about reading, about writing on reading, and I feel like I don’t have the confidence to make judgements on books. Perhaps that is strange, but I feel more comfortable that way.

Wishing you a pleasant day!

HD.

Monthly Reading Round Up: May 2017

In Order:

  • Daphne Du Maurier ‘Jamaica Inn’
  • R.K Narayan ‘Swami and Friends’
  • R.K Narayan ‘The Bachelor of Arts’
  • R.K Narayan ‘The English Teacher’

Not only is this May Reading Round Up Post really late, it’s also going to be rather pitiful in terms of content. Suppose that’s what I get for starting off so well in April- a high climb makes for a steep fall, and so my reading dwindles.

I do have my excuses, however! Firstly, I spent most of the month getting frazzled over preparing elaborate cosplay outfits for London MCM Comic Con (…where I then didn’t even wear half of the outfits… or wear them for long… but we won’t discuss that)- not to mention actually trying to get organised so I was ready to go and enjoy a weekend in the city. My second, rather much more pathetic excuse is that I had to put two books on the DNF (did not finish) list- The Age of Revolution: 1789-1848 by Eric Hobshawn, and The Celts by Alice Roberts. It probably says a lot about how scattered my mind was during this month, given how I couldn’t concentrate on history books concerning themselves with some of my favourite historical eras. Neither Hobshawn nor Roberts were bad or boring, it was just my brain refused to take in their narratives or their facts.

Yet what reading I did get done this month, I enjoyed immensely. I had the greatest of fun in rediscovering Daphne Du Maurier with her gothic-slash-thriller Jamaica Inn. It even inspired me to write a review on it, it caught my attention so much. Another brilliant find was in the writings of R.K Narayan in a collection called The Malgudi Omnibus- featuring three of his more central works that are set in his fictional town of Malgudi. While in each story, the characters and situations differ, it is the town of Malgudi that remains the same. In short, I simply fell in love hard and fast for Narayan’s style and wit. There’s a simplicity to his narrative that I appreciate so so much, because as a failed practitioner of the craft, I know how incredibly difficult it is to achieve. It makes for vivid reading, and an easy connection with his characters, who stretch and sparkle and reach out to the reader with their thoughts and struggles.

I probably have more to say- but this month has been difficult for me for a lot of reasons, and therefore it has been pretty difficult to write about. I know that I plan to return to Narayan in future, so here’s hoping that next time, I’ll have better words to use and better organisation of my thoughts.

May June be more fruitful for reading!

London Comic Con, 26-28/05/2017

So I went to London MCM Comic Con at the ExCel Centre just over a week ago. And since then, I’ve agonized over how I was going to write about it. Originally, I had a much longer post planned, which was personal in nature. It was going to not only describe how it was at MCM, but I was also going to go into great detail on how much of a struggle it was. How my anxiety flared up big time in light of this big weekend, which colluded with how exposed I felt wearing proper cosplay for the first time, as well as inadequate.

However, after days of thinking about it, I scrapped the piece. Not only on reading it back, does it feel horribly disjointed, it also just feels too… open, for me at the moment. I’ve realised more and more these days that I’m not 100% able and ready to write about what plagues me from day to day, how it mixes and churns about and poisons my movements, my thoughts. I feel as if it will be soon- where I can talk about it. And I obviously need to keep perusing this, even if it means scrapping more posts/writings.

For now, I just post some pictures of me in the cosplay I did manage to wear on Saturday. Evie Frye from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate in her Bloofer Lady Outfit, anyone? 😉

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Review: ‘Jamaica Inn’ by Daphne Du Maurier

This review contains slight spoilers

Ahead of her, on the crest, and to the left, was some sort of a building, standing back from the road. She could see tall chimneys, murky dim in the darkness. There was no other house, no other cottage. If this was Jamaica, it stood alone in glory, foursquare to the winds. Mary gathered her cloak around her and fastened the clasp.

-Chapter 1

On the face of it, Jamaica Inn is a thriller. After the death of her mother, 23-year-old Mary Yellan moves from Helford to Cornwall in order to be with her mother’s sister, Aunt Patience, and her husband Joss Merlyn who owns a place known as Jamaica Inn. Within the first couple of pages, as the seemingly meek Mary sits in a carriage getting battered to high hell by a Wuthering-inspired Cornish storm, we learn what the catch is. Jamaica Inn carries a rancid reputation, and the landlord Joss is feared and despised by community around them for reasons no one will explain fully. As Mary arrives at the inn, she learns as soon as Joss puts her things in her dingy cell of a room that her uncle is a drunken, violently imposing bully, whilst her mother’s sister is the epitome of the battered wife, timid and tiptoeing, pandering to her husband’s needs. Without pretense, Mary is told that lawlessness is abound at Jamaica Inn, and as price for staying with her relatives, she must essentially put up, shut up, and never question why no one stays, why Joss keeps the company he does, and why sometimes wagons and carts appear under her window seemingly laden with goods.

Without giving everything away, Mary works throughout her time at Jamaica Inn to reveal the darkness that its walls harbor, and the truth behind her uncle’s dealings at Jamaica is every inch as terrible as the hints lead us to believe. Yet, for all of the evil and dark turns that the plot delivers, there’s an essence of stern practicality that hovers around this novel, the epicenter of this being the protagonist herself. Mary is forever a cool, moral head as well as our brilliant heroine who is unapologetically stubborn and passionate. She even may slip into love with the well-meaning rogue that is Jem, the brother of Joss, but with a constant and full awareness of the potential danger and folly, openly lauding herself so we don’t have to do it for her. But then perhaps her perfect workings as the protagonist reflects a wider fault of Jamaica Inn as a whole, in that all the characters seem to fit snugly into their roles of cliché and await their fates. Du Maurier’s prose is far too poetic and complex for such figures, with her writer’s hat permanently tipped to the gothic throughout, conjuring vivid yet formless imaginations. Between the characters and her words, a gap forms, which maybe one expects to be filled with the striking of the supernatural, adding to the essence of the thriller.

Only, there is no supernatural element to this novel, only the sins of men, and the wills of one thoughtful heroine. Whilst it is refreshing to find a thriller that wishes to do away with thrills and pent up emotion, the fact that Du Maurier also seems determined to hang you up with her way with wonders leaves the mind to wonder if a little too much has been taken away, leaving the story to flounder and make us believe that there is going to be more then there actually is. Nevertheless, Jamaica Inn is deeply enjoyable, and smooth to read. The descriptions of a desolate, unlawful world pricking deep into the imagination, and possibly driving it to go beyond the events of the novel itself.

6.5/10

Monthly Reading Round Up: April 2017

In Order:

  • Virginia Woolf, ‘Orlando’ [Re-Read]
  • Carol Joyce Oates, ‘The Tattooed Girl’
  • Judith Flanders, ‘The Victorian City’
  • Toni Morrison, ‘The Bluest Eye’ [Re-Read]
  • Leo Tolstoy, ‘Anna Karenina’

In an effort to fix my god awful habits, I’ve made it a point to start to tracking what I read, and when I finish books. Reading was once such a core part in my life, lost through hardship, and recently I realised how much it depressed me not to have it anymore. Keeping up a regular bookstagram account has done much to kickstart reading regularly. There’s quite a lot of guilt to be found in posting pretty pictures of books you haven’t read!

I thought it was good to start with re-reading a few books here and there too. Going back to pieces of wonderful writing that used to dazzle me, inspire me, make me take considerations beyond my limits. I made a trip back home at the beginning of the month, stopping over in Swansea for a few nights, and Virginia Woolf’s Orlando was the perfect companion. I had read the book during my a-level days, desperate to prove myself a ‘proper’ literature student who clearly read ‘proper’ books. Post-grad me really doesn’t give as much of a toss about that kind of pretence now (that and I have no energy to), and also didn’t remember much about Orlando spare the amazing, out-there plot, and some academic articles I read about the novel that my brain didn’t understand although it pretended to in front of my teacher. Re-reading it was nothing short of a joy.

Orlando steams ahead with its purpose in a singular direction without a care. The narrator drawing us in to a private world of the biography where they assume we are alike, curious and frustrated while walking path to document the choices and being of another. Orlando’s talent of immortality and gender-switching is a detail as both irrelevant and important as other parts of their life, like their relationships and troubles. A determination by Orlando to reject a pertinent suitor in the female part of her life is just as exhilarating as the revelation of her gender change upon her awakening after a deep, week-long slumber. Whether depicting the ordinary or the nonsensicle, Orlando reminded me how Woolf makes magic no matter what: not waiting for your attention- but just taking it. Toni Morrison is much the same, and again, much like with Orlando, re-reading The Bluest Eye was another exercise in paying more attention where it’s due, on dragging that a-level student out of the hole she crawled into and make her re-evaluate the books she read years ago. Here I learnt to appreciate Morrison’s power. Where her words can render you breathless. Making you put down the book as you consider how is it possible to carry so much weight in so little words- how is such a slim book so capable of holding everything in one punch? Morrison makes language bend to her, playing the conscious and range of human emotion as she describes the unthinkable and the horrible. Racism and white privilege are brought out directly, and as a white reader, it’s on me to listen well, to note what builds the obsession with blue eyes in the face of indescribable pain and violation. I may read The Bluest Eye again sometime soon, I feel like I’ve missed so much even on a re-read.

As for ‘new’ books, I discovered Carol Joyce Oates with The Tattooed Girl. As my first foray into Oates’ world, I kick myself for not having started earlier. As I described to a friend, I feel as if Oates ‘gives without giving a fuck’. Her writing is unapologetic and stark, and she is deft at describing the tension in a scene, picking at the treads that connect her characters together and showing us how they fray. I ate that book, so to speak, in that I can’t remember reading something so quickly since I was a teenager (who was hungry for a fantasy series), enjoying the rush as I fell to sympathy for characters I knew I shouldn’t and while being made aware that’s exactly what Oates wanted me to do. However, The Tattooed Girl is unique for this month, in that my other two books, The Victorian City and Anna Karenina, were books that were started months back, and required a great effort and a deployment of ‘plodding along’ in terms of reading. The Victorian City took so long to finish in its entirety because of its ease of access as a nonfiction book. Judith Flanders planned her study of Victorian London with great care and mastery, fully aware that readers would be both researchers and a mix of the curious. Each topic is dealt with in singularity, meaning that the chapter before or after doesn’t need to be consulted, and initally, I only read two or three parts for a writing project. As a whole book though, it weaves together an essence of the era that British public consciousness still aspires to study and capture today.

As for Anna Karenina, it’s been one hell of a journey. I started that book months ago in October/November of last year, and it had become almost a permanent fixture on my desk until now. It had started out as one of those ‘must-read’ kind of books- the marathon classic you brag about finish reading. But genuinely, I enjoyed it. Tolstoy has a light touch to his words that lift you even through the swathes of politics that could pull you down into boredom, tinting the high society that his character’s flit through in the same shades. I’ll admit, I cared little for the centre-staged romance of Anna and Vronsky until the end, where Anna’s misery infected my fear and drew me to her. It embarrasses me to say that almost all of my sympathies ended up calling arms to Levin. There was something about his constant nervousness of and for life (of which I can relate in feeling) that became endearing, even where his temper and pretentious considerations for peasants were distasteful. His peace at the end is a fitting lock on a book whose title and central love story lock horns with stability and solidarity of marriage and family, the latter which is everything Levin aspires to represent.

But aside from what I think of Tolstoy’s epic, what’s become important to me is how there’s a sense that I’ll miss that book now I’ve finished it at long last. When something sticks with you for long enough, it’s inevitable. I dipped into that book sporadically over the months, but remained faithful to reading it. My memories include of where I read the book, as well as the book itself: hunched over the bathtub rim at four the morning in the middle of an insomnia-ridden episode, beside the old heater whilst waiting for my current sewing project to dry, or even on the floor of my bedroom after being bored by cleaning. Slowly turning pages, and feeling the weight of the book slowly shift from the left hand to the right. That sense of connection has become infectious to me, and now I think as I embark seriously on learning how to read and love books again, it might have to be a thing of mine to always have a big book on the go in the background- ready to take me back into its world whenever I need it.

Anyway- onward to next month’s reading!

Diary Entries: #3

#3

It’s easier to walk away, isn’t it? But it feels so wrong. The taste in my mouth isn’t quite rotten, but it isn’t fresh either. Metallic, off putting. It’s the word, maybe: Easier. A cop-out term in a world of try-hards and overachievers. Easy is for quitters, the cheaters, the lazy do-nothings who won’t achieve the aspiring.

Stay and fight your corner, says a defiant, proud voice in my head. Don’t cower away from the bullying, the nastiness. Stand up for yourself and lash out, strike back. This voice doesn’t have an issue with themselves, never doubts or disbelieved. It knows the truth and wishes to sing it loud.

And for those reasons, it’s why it stays in my head, rather than live in my mouth.

Anxiety is not a phrase or a tone. It’s not a voice. It’s an entire state of being. Thumping and sweating and racing along, a terrible conclusion met before the reasoning truth is laid out in mosaic. It’s status quo. Fallback on a bed of nettles. Stinging but familiar, all I’ve ever known. Walk away. Don’t engage. You can’t do anything about this. And besides, maybe they’re right. Maybe you are a terrible person, wrong, ill-informed. Maybe you deserve this.

[3.17]

Diary Entries: #2

#2

Today, a rare combination of weather, setting, and feeling:

Rain, splattering, throwing up drops after being spat around in the wind. My room a serene viewing hatch to watch the outside, smelling pleasant, looking pleasant, matching with the occupier. So rarely am I able to push the chronic anxiety away that pulls up a lead screen around me and stops me looking at the world. But in this moment I can, and I take hold of it greedily, taking a photo from where I sit on my bed.

The photo cannot capture it all, and I don’t expect it to. It cannot grasp the sharper lines, the depth in the clouds, the colour in the clouds, the flowers. Felt and comfort are lost in my mind’s eye when I appraise the shot. Maybe in future, though, I’ll see the photo again, and reminisce on the echoes of calm I tasted before the rain ended.

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[02/2017]

Diary Entries: #1

Note- The diary entries are part of my personal ponderings about certain things in my life that I’m trying to write about more often. Just observations, thoughts, the parts of my brain scattered about brought more closely together in the attempt to make a picture of things. Much like a constellation. And like diaries or sightings of such constellations, they’re bound to be sporadic in appearance, and non-consecutive in topic- apologies! x

#1

One of the most terrible dilemmas that could ever face a writer is finding somewhere to go. Somewhere to ‘be’ the writer, where they’re not anyone else, and write. Suppose some writers never have this problem, and I’m deeply envious. They can step into their writer’s guise, their wordsmith jumpsuit hung up next to the dressing gown in the bedroom, or by their side at the breakfast bar, sitting in the seat next to them, ready by the postcard-window on the train.

For me, increasingly so over the years as I’ve tried to become a writer, I’ve felt this essence of needing to go somewhere in order to write. Or at least start, and maybe then carry the bank of paper sounds home with me to rearrange after. A designated dressing room for my writer’s suit. An event. A means to go somewhere and do the writing thing that I apparently like doing. Only, over time, that need to go out to write, to go get dressed, has manifested in a realm of problems, a single question at the nucleus- where?

Where do I go to write? For a quandary so simple, I find it’s guise decidedly and frustratingly complex. My place of transformation needs a feel, a sense, sometimes in my direr blocked moments, even a sense of smell. The writer has long worn the stereotype of haunting coffee-shops proudly, and rightly so. I like those watering holes, caffeine-infested or not, I like that there’s a table, a chair. And when thrashing around for words or ideas, plenty of human-bloomed inspiration is around. Plus people watching is always fun. Sometimes the coffee shop can work for me, but then these places seem to have an expiry date of a sort. Like I can only visit so many times before the rotten dreariness stemming from my own hyperactive mind rolls in. A see-saw of over-observation and lack of stimulation, both grinding on my brain and preventing me from writing. I saw that guy last week, the same groves are on that table leg, the coffee machine no longer sounds soothing, but grating, rattling from all of the orders.

I remember how much undergraduate me used to struggle with this, and that was when writing was an obligation, not just a fancy I appealed to. That brings me to the memory of another hallowed writing ground I used to eventually avoid: the library. I hated writing there with a passion. Although, I did love it in its own way, for the sharp architecture, angled mirrors, impossibly clean glass five floors up and artwork everywhere. The beautiful place turned to my enemy whenever I tried to write there. On reflection, I think it’s because where I could barely emulate the writer as it is/was/will be, the personality of the serious writer was truly out of my reach. Sitting at the long desk with other students in silence but always distracted checking my phone, nervously pondering on grades and imminent failure whilst those around me worked to be the good people. The good writers and academics with their heads down. No, no, the pressure is too much for me in a library. It feels wrong, even now, at my small, cheerful local library, with that nineties feel.

Where else, then, for picky me? Outside is folly. Too much stimulation. It makes me aspire to Romantic, wax lyrical about the shape of a wind-shagged conifer whilst researching my twitter feed. Suppose I could rotate coffee shops until they all run out, or just force myself to assimilate to the gravities of the library and simmer happily on with a scream for a face.At the moment, I can hold off on these dour considerations. I struck lucky recently, and found somewhere completely different. Unlike areas I’ve previously thought of. Now, I go to my local swimming pool.

And I love it.

I flash my town-wide gym card to get in (avail the guilt by claiming it’s a mental exercise in my wimpy, excuse-gorging head) and I’m bathed in a world of roaring water, pumping chlorine. You don’t realise how noisy a pool is, even without the people. It fills your ears to the brim. The smell is too intoxicating for some, mixed into your breaths. The air itself is damp, swirling around, make hot by jets and conditioning. You’re meant to keep moving to avoid the drowsy, heavy setting. You’re meant to be swimming, where the water’s skin is cool, and the water kisses your ear lobe. But sitting still? Trying to concentrate? Dry, and writing?

Preposterous. And yet, for me, its conditions are perfect.

Again, perhaps it’s the right amount of stimulation. Letting that distracted part of my brain play with all these strange sounds and smells and feelings, whirling right in there, and letting the writer get on. Much like the parents who sit around me, similarly clothed and dry, drinking coffee, watching overhead as their kids play below them in the pool. The chlorine is fresh and sharp. The dim lights reduce the distractions, casting them to shadows. The noise is the best. The echo. The rumble. Consistent and ceaseless, like white noise. It all crowns together, wreathing to defeat the symptoms of distraction and halt like a 3 in 1 balm, lemsip for the writing brain. Numbing the painful anxieties, fears, overthinking, and letting me get on.Maybe it’s strange to strangers who might clock on to what I’m doing. Where I don’t have a kit, or bags, and am far too immersed in my work to check on my kids- nobodies that secure about their own. And I’m scribbling away, dazed against the fun going on around me, the leisure, the play. I’ll admit, I’m scared someone is going to throw me

Maybe it’s strange to strangers who might clock on to what I’m doing. Where I don’t have a kit, or bags, and am far too immersed in my work to check on my kids- nobodies that secure about their own. And I’m scribbling away, dazed against the fun going on around me, the leisure, the play. I’ll admit, I’m scared someone is going to throw me out, because I’m at a pool and I’m not playing along. Doing what you’re supposed to be doing which is swimming, or here to relax and enjoy yourself. But so far, I don’t think anyone has taken much notice, or maybe they just don’t care as much as I do about what people come to swimming pool for. Maybe I should relax as well, and revel in how comfortable I feel writing away, even though the quality and quantity of my writing still picks at me with the irritating sting of a bad scab. A predicament to consider for another day.

[02/2017]

 

Poem: Written In The Body

A hand, it’s mine, pulled down my gullet,

Fingers creeping so. They stroke the walls of my

Organs slow. Sifting podging, pull on.

I’m searching: going digging through the pieces,

A medical text at my side. But

What I seek cannot be found between the blood

And oxygen. Although I should be

Here, I think. We are as we make, we be, we—

–breathe

Fast, too fast—

Where am I? Can I be found?

A panic mottled, stodged the sound

Of me.

Am I here at all?

Echoes, ring from an answering call.

 

[23/02/2017]

Weekly Listening: 6/2-12/2/17

Note– I’ve made it a prerogative as part of this new blog to start recording what I’ve been listening to in the past week/couple of days, as music is often very integral in helping me think or visualise. Also, it helps me keep track of my favourite songs/pieces, and connect them to certain moods- good or bad! 🙂

This past week has been a bit of a rollercoaster in terms of both emotions, and where my interests have been at. Having caved into temptation and bought the Kingdom Hearts 2.8 collection, and loved every nostalgic second of it, I’ve now been listening for hours on end to various soundtracks from several of the games. Holy moly, did I underappreciate the depth and subtly of Yoko Shimomura’s work across the series, from his melancholic reflections for the themes of characters such as Roxas and Aqua, to the impulsive and daunting bouncing tracks for the boss battles. The latter is particularly mashed together wonderfully in The 13th Anthologyfound in Shimomura’s Drammatica album.

If I could only pick one track out of all the of Kingdom Hearts Soundtracks, it would have to be this one. And yeah, I cheated with this, because it’s a culmination of two tracks, but Memória! is a journey that joins the two together so beautifully, clutching at your heart (or lack of it, given this is a Xion orientated piece after all) as it works through the notes, one definitely feels lacking afterwards, if it’s not with the other.

D. x