Monday, 23 April 2012

For Grace, After a Party by Frank O'Hara
Meditations in an Emergency, 1957

Saturday, 21 April 2012

thoughts on failure

I feel like I'm writing about the same things over and over again. Which is why I haven't posted much lately. But there are heavy thoughts I need to kick around a bit. So bear with me.

This spring I failed to get into university.

Right. I said it.

Obviously I don't know what you think now, but I doubt it's Oh my goodness what a pathetic little girl, probably the most witless of all the witless, why am I even reading this idiot blog, if I saw her I'd point and laugh. (If this is what you're thinking, please do not consider it necessary to inform me.)

But this is very much what I think.

I am bad at failing. For the past month or so I've been holding my breath. Waiting to wake up.
So far I haven't.

I haven't talked about not getting into uni with anyone at all. I didn't want to. Still don't. I just went out and bought the books I need to study for the entry exams of the University of Helsinki. And remade my plans. I've done the mature thing and still I feel more like a child than in ages.

My worst fear all along has been the pity. The pity, the surprise. The disappointment. I have feared the reactions of my friends and family because, and I know exactly how irrational this is, I thought they would no longer love me if I failed. So I've kept it all to myself.

Can I be completely honest with you?
I'm really lost with my life right now.
And it's terrifying.

Also, it's good. In that annoying self-help kind of way, that disgustingly cheesy rebuild-your-life, have-a-gap-year, figure-out-who-you-are-and-what-you-want-to-do way.

I'm not going to lie, not anymore: it's a constant gruelling uphill battle with a voice in the back of my head calling me names. It is no fun.

But it is necessary. It is, on that self-help level, good.

I'm drawing up a map from scratch.
No, not from scratch. From everything I know about myself. I will find my way.

After all, what I needed to hear was that the people who love me still love me.
And guess what?
They do.

(Also, a friend of mine sent me this video, in which the brilliant 
Hank Green answers questions about growing up and adulthood. 
Someone asked, How do you get past your insecurities?
Hank's answer: If you fail, I will like you more. 
Which was exactly what I needed to hear today. )

Thursday, 19 April 2012

on mirrors and judgement

Yesterday evening I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, Since when have I looked so fat.

The thought remained still for a second before cracking into pieces.

I thought, Oh no not this again.

And, Right no more carbs and a lot more yoga. 

And then, Stop it. Now. 

My body and my relationship with my body is something I haven't written about on my blog. Ever. Not because I haven't had anything to say about it but because it seems too messy. There is too much to write about, too many tangles for me to address at once.

I haven't weighed myself since the age of fourteen. I don't want to know my weight. I don't need to know. I protect myself from these things because I'm scared of the perfectionism and the perseverance and the endless anger in me. I know what I am capable of doing to myself and I definitely do not want to go there.

There have been times when I have hated my body so much I wished I could have stripped off my skin and muscle and fat and danced around in my bones, as sung by Tom Waits. There have also been long periods of time when I have been able to look at myself neutrally. There have very rarely, if ever, been times when I have looked at myself in the mirror and thought I was thin enough.

You wouldn't guess it if you met me, I think.

I'm the girl who is sensible about these things. I eat what I want to eat. Ethical choices build up my diet; calorie-counting and avoiding carbs or sugars or fats are out of the question. I don't even know how much calories a woman my size needs per day -- my ignorance is just another layer of self-protection, of course. I avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners and I cook all my meals myself. I'm a self-confessed foodie.

And yet I'm the girl who comes home and sucks her belly in and looks at her hips and her chin and her thighs and thinks, This must change.

Or not.

Some nights I see that same reflection and like what I see. (Actually no, I don't like it. I love it without liking it, because love is not a judgement. I love it, which means I accept and acknowledge the faults, and those faults make me love the reflection even more. But I would like to like my body in addition to loving it.)

During the last five years or so I have managed to settle my head on my shoulders and my brain in my head about my body. I have grown to understand my body a bit more. I try to treat myself well, and with patience.

And yet somewhere in me there is the fear. The fear of the things I could do to myself if I let the nagging in the back of my head get to me.

There are few things as cruel as that nagging. You know what it says, I'm sure. We all know.

I don't know exactly what my point is here. I just wanted to sit down and write about this because it's scary and uncomfortable for me to talk about my body. To talk about how much time I spend thinking about what I should not eat but do, about what I could wear but can't.

But here it is. I'm the girl who sometimes looks in the mirror and thinks, When did I get so fat. Sometimes I'm the girl who thinks, Oh I didn't realise I was that thin. It's the same body, I haven't gained or lost any weight overnight -- that I can look at it in two different ways is scary and sad. It's scary and sad that my self-esteem, my sense of worth, depends on my size. And that what size I feel like depends on my self-esteem.

I don't know what my point is, I just wanted to write. Because it's high time. Because right now I'm going through a bad phase, a phase where I would prefer not to go outside at all because I don't want people to see how big I am.

I know it's in my head. I know that this too shall pass. But it can never go away fast enough.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Monday, 9 April 2012

monday links (virginia woolf, finishing books, dancing ballet, racing bikes)

Picture from the Orient Express by the wonderful Hotze Eisma.

Oh goodness, it's been a while. But here they are, a compilation of my online findings. Enjoy.

A brief, beautiful piece on the room in which Virginia Woolf used to write.

(Stunning. If there is one link you should click out of all of these, it's this one.) 

If you, like me, are bad at reading books all the way through, try reading Why Finish Books? by Tim Parks for reassurance. (From now on, I might even be able to admit I quit reading a book three-quarters in.)

Laura Brady on her "not a real job" job.  

Also, the third issue of the online quarterly The Junket (also known as my one true online love) is due to appear any moment. (Yes, I have been refreshing the page for a while now.) Make sure you check it out. 


We conversed in low whispers, as if afraid to wake up the land. 

Joseph Conrad: Youth

Saturday, 7 April 2012

we're all stories in the end

(I don't think you understand how much I love both Nan Lawson and Doctor Who. Combine the two, watch me melt.) 

my bed is an ocean, my sheets are the waves

I'm tired of sleeping in my own bed or maybe I'm just tired of myself. These days it seems I sleep better when squashed between friends on thin mattresses after parties.

I sort of feel like my entire life is stalling, like I'm going nowhere and this will be the end of all things, despite knowing that I'm moving forward faster than I have ever before and that a few months from now my life will be wide open. Quite possibly more open and new and just-begun than it has been since the day I was born. This isn't a new page being turned, this is an entire fresh notebook waiting to happen.

I will sort myself out and this too shall pass, these are the things I tell myself over and over late at night. It's funny, I never thought of myself as a survivor (as in, I never thought I could hold up my chin and keep going) but there are surprises left in me yet. Sometimes I can't quite believe how young I am.