Here, There, Go.

15/08/2013 at 21:33 (Personal) (, , , , , , )

So the Arctic broke and the Sahara stole its way down my throat, and my eyes leaked dust. I never saw the feeling you gave out, until it was barbed wire lacing up my sleeves in pretty freckles of red. How many secrets can I keep, in a tonal shift and a sotto voce, and a sleepless menagerie …

They’re all after the same thing in the end, lover.

Twist, turn, it’s still there, that rawness that makes me creep down the stairs and find that wicked line, that silver thing, that shine in the eye – but my guts aren’t open for purchase. I can stand and scream in silence and it won’t make eyes open, ears hear. Shameful times, hectic lines (crossed.)

I’m an echo in a space that shouldn’t exist.

It’s a beautifully brutal time. My heels bleed with the rush. Clap your hands say YEAH, it’s time …
And you’re out tonight, in the dusky light. It feels good to know. Silence is a mead I’ll find again and again. It salves the wound of too many words, in a world where articulation hasn’t got a hope in hell.

Hell. Such a stupid word, turned inside out. He’s got wings to fill your mind with ice, no tears, no blood, only futile love.

Simmer down, pup. You’re only ever an anti-hero.


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My lessons learned in Twittiquette

14/08/2013 at 13:01 (Reviews, Writing) (, , , , , , , )

This is not intended to be a snarky rant, nor yet a preaching-to-the-choir. I have been guilty, recipient and a part of every one of the following facets of Twitter usage, encountered in the brief spell of months I’ve been an active user. This is merely a post highlighting what I have observed and learned; an exploration of online social mores, as it were. All views are my own; nothing is based upon proven fact – except the universal aggravation of spam. That’s undeniable as a black hole, sorry.

I’d had a Twitter account hanging around for a year or so, limping behind my Facebook account full of safe local friends and family. But there’s only so much they can be hit with links to personal work, as though my daily status updates weren’t enough. I had no idea of the marketing potential of Twitter at the time, nor yet the wealth of literary information and like-minded artists, waiting to be discovered.

Sprucing up my profile, I set out to achieve something approximating a media circuit. I longed for objective criticism, creative minds, shameless geek-outs to various genres and mediums. And above all, some recognition of the effort I’d invested in my work. Don’t we all? Isn’t that one of the fail-safe reasons we set up these tweets, with their hashtag handles and punchy lines, to grab the interest of our prospective audience?

I was only vaguely aware of how to pitch an idea within the character limitation. But it all seemed simple enough. The little bar at the top of the screen winked invitingly. The words writer and Nintendo were the first to slide out from my fingertips, into the constant cycling stream of Twitter.

What an eye-opener.

Twitter is a bit like London’s Portobello road, or Camden market; if you think of something, it’s likely going to be there. This isn’t always a good thing, and as with all aspects of life, this social media platform has its really low points. But I personally feel the benefits far outweigh the costs; particularly for an indie writer like myself.

These are a few of the aspects I’ve learned about thus far, through trial and error:

* Volume of followers does not equate to social impact, or quality. There are plenty of sycophants and spambots out there, not to mention real life people who choose to use their profiles as a means of suckerpunching a feed with links to exclusively their work. The best way to sniff these unsavouries out – and avoid adding back, to keep your feed clear of mulch – is to first check back through theirs. If identical links keep popping up, whether as a plug for their own work or simply as photo/video memes, it’s a safe bet that their conversation isn’t going to be scintillating. Move yourself on. They’re not likely to give you the time of day, and there’s a heightened risk of a letterbomb DM arriving …

* DM’s are tricky things. Used correctly, they can enhance Twitter interaction between two people, insofar as character limit permits. The privacy this mode of conversation affords can help establish a more exclusive trust and kinship between users; if requested, links to personal work may be exchanged, without the risk of the conversation being hijacked by other users, no matter how well-meaning. Equally, a long-running conversation need not clog up everyone else’s feed.

* The flipside to this account feature, are the ever-irritating presence of DM spam-links. Why anyone would think these are a handy way to plug their work is beyond me, since it denotes a lack of willingness to go the extra mile in terms of social interaction. This kills the whole point of the platform. Worse, a dodgy link may well be sent via DM, from an accredited user who has been hacked – whatever you do, don’t fly off the handle at the user, until you know for sure it was not their fault that your account got spiked.
Delete the message immediately, and also from your notifications account (Hotmail, Gmail etc) and pass the information on to Twitter’s admin. DO NOT open an unrequested link, unless it comes with a personally-worded verification note from the sender.

* As a writer, I like to know who my target audience is. Social networking need not be so different from the real world; you wouldn’t walk into a bar and hold up your business card by way of introduction, unless you were begging for looks-to-kill. Oscillate among like-minded people. Hashtags are a godsend in this case, particularly for creative types seeking advice or to pass on their output. For me personally, the #writing #amwriting #writetip and #writingadvice hashes have introduced me to some quite brilliant minds, fellow geeks, book fiends, indie authors and above all, friends. They each have their own take on the world, and are very much a part of it, from all areas of the globe. Their ideas and personalities make for a friendlier aspect in what can be a critical and cut-throat market.

* Above are some of the general hashes, to be used on any given day. #mondayblogs, #writerwednesday and #fridayreads, speak for themselves – highly engaging, and useful for cycling through interesting and informative pieces to read about your favourite subjects; not to mention a great way of passing your work along.

* Keep an eye on when your followers are, across the board, most active. Some may be en route to work in the morning commute, while others will be on their lunch breaks, or heading home. Pitch your work towards these “golden hours” for a heightened reception, but don’t overdo it. One personal link per block of hours is more than enough to get your name across. And don’t forget the essential getting-to-know-you chats in between.

* Manners are applicable, on as offline. I cannot emphasize this enough. A simple “good morning” / “good night”, can mean far more than its sum of characters. Behind each tweet, there’s (usually) a real person with feelings, and the bit of world they make their presence known in. Small courtesy gestures, such as a “thank you” or a tit-for-tat retweet, can be the equivalent of a handshake with the person who has taken time to consider your output and decided to comment, favourite or pass it along. It certainly brightens my day to receive merit for my work, and I’ll try wherever possible to either tweet /DM appreciation to the relevant users.

* It takes only seconds to press the Favourite and/or Retweet button. ALWAYS carefully analyse the content of what you are sending on to followers. One dodgy link could affect many users adversely. A link you didn’t bother to check as safe, an ethos you don’t actually subscribe to but thought would sound cute/funny; these work to bring down your carefully constructed platform, not to mention possibly ruining someone’s day or night with their virus potential or bad taste. Also, when sending out links, do take care to disperse them evenly. is but one nifty means of doing so.

* It takes a little more thought to retweet someone with either a personal opinion of your own, or a quote from the link source. I personally get a kick out of going to the original source of a friend’s work, using whichever Share buttons are applicable (or good old Copy/Paste) and attaching a quote that really caught me. It’s a neat way of highlighting a person’s work to the wider Twitter world, as well as emphasising the point you’re making in your tweet. When reciprocating a retweet or comment on your own work, this strategy of tit-for-tat can be a lovely – and practical – way of repaying the favour. But don’t feel pressured to do so. Some people just love to pass things on, while others may have motive in mind for reciprocation. Either way, be tactful about it. A simple “thank you” tweet and/or Favourite can be enough too.

* This simple act of share-share alike shouldn’t be uncommon in social media outlets. In the playground, a child is taught to share games, sweets and toys; in the workplace, a favour-task may be rewarded with a drink at the pub later. These Twitter boost-ups help promote everyone’s work, and keep a constant circulation of inspiration going for those who seek it. It also offers followers a wider perspective, rather than a ream of your own thoughts and links.

* If you are willing to give time and energy to reading, editing and/or reviewing another’s work, do make sure you actually have time set aside to do so. Balance it around your real life – work, family, leisure etc – as well as your own output. There need not be a sense of frustration between users, when a promise doesn’t pay up.

* Blogging is as essential a field of writing as any fictional output or article. Your blog can turn you into a business mogul, if you’ll only take time to amplify it properly. Your blog allows a general audience to find out who you are in greater detail than is available on Twitter. That being said, the latter is a great place to broadcast your writing aptitude – most blog platforms have applicable Share buttons. Make full use of them, but don’t be tempted to reveal every insight you’ve had to date. Don’t lay all your cards on the table at once. Keep an audience willing to return, and if something really isn’t for universal distribution – there’s always the Private entry setting. In this way, your blog can still be relevant to your emotional and intellectual state, as well as a regular pitch for your creativity.

* Journalists are not the thoughtless monsters some would have us believe. They are human too, with feelings and lives, and a code of conduct I find intriguing. When passing on information of any kind, they will remember to reference back to the original source. Woe betide the journalist who doesn’t. I find this to be fascinating as it is inspirational, a must-have habit for all Twitter users, and especially artists. If you’re going to pull a photograph / quote / buzz word from either the internet at large or from a fellow Twitter user, remember to post a referring link back to source. It’s not only a good way to avoid plagiarism claims; it’s just good manners.

* And lastly, though by no means least – do not forget the outside world. Your real time, the air you breathe and the people you know. Take time to move around, to absorb the world – it’ll emphasize your output, whatever the medium. No amount of internet and feed trawling is going to turn up as much inspiration as the sensory triggers, relationships and random moments of the real world. Today for example, a man stopped me in the street to hand me a purple daisy; he told me to weave it in my hair, and travel to San Francisco. He made my day. And he’ll find his way into a blog entry, if not a story at some point.

The outside world holds the key to your potential, as well as your feelings. There’s only so much that online interaction can generate, though believe me I have grown as a person since beginning my Twitter career. And I do see it as a career, insofar as I’m constantly sharing and interacting with fellow artists and like-minded people, passing on information and some downright fantastic work (plus no end of humour), absorbing what is offered. I have gained some truly inspirational, engaging friends; their support and compassion for both my personal wellbeing and literary output, is inestimable in value.

But I have also made the mistake of leaning too heavily on this virtual sphere at times, to the detriment of my actual employment, as well as real-time interaction.

Striking the balance on and offline, is key. Distance in mileage will always be a factor, but it need not be an inhibitor – and it’s vital to never forget the faces and feelings behind the screens, as well as in our local circuits.

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Pacific Rim Review

13/08/2013 at 15:42 (Personal)

A beautifully comprehensive review of Summer hit ‘Pacific Rim.’


Of all the phrases dragged out during the summer movie series, the most risible to me is that one should “turn off your mind.” I can’t stand either the idea popular entertainment is inherently stupid, or that it should be OK for the makers of blockbusters to forego character or story to entertain. Even still, I can understand people resigning themselves to that mindset. It gets difficult to avoid as the summer wears on, and more movies come and go that try to overwhelm with spectacle and emotional angst to distract from their lack of actual story. They get caught between the extremes of Michael Bay (all the explosions, none of the character development) or Christopher Nolan (brooding, dark, joyless heroes). They’ve lost the magic classic adventure movies like Star Wars and the Richard Donner Superman had, where they were filled with plenty of visual stimulation while presenting actual fun…

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Writing Reality: Sensory Walk through Time

10/08/2013 at 00:36 (Anorexia, Personal, Reviews, Writing, Writing Reality articles) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

You remember that stale, squat building, after the strange gaudiness of the gilded gates. They had stood open to all, tucked away up a long, leafy avenue that reminded you of walking home from school. This didn’t instill greater confidence in you, though feelings were hard to come by at that point anyway. You stared out of the car window, listless and dry-eyed. The tears would come later.

Your mother drove carefully. She always did, but more so when you were on board, as though in fear of any jarring that might break your bones. You seemed made of lace and emptiness. The lowest point, the sucking darkness; inertia of the throat, no longer admitting food, barely taking on water. You were pumped full of pills, on the tail-end of a three-week stay in Purgatory; a mental health institution for all and sundry. That myriad-marble collection had almost killed you, as you were lost in the race of daily handovers and little feedback.

Now, you were being accepted into the ranks of a new and altogether more disciplined unit.

The hospital had stood as a bastion of incarceration for centuries; had only recently become an emblem of research, understanding and empathy. It made a small town, sprawling at the bottom of that avenue full of deceptive green-gold light, waving leaves and sunshine. Within its walls lay shadows of the mind and society. Therapy rooms full of clay and kilns and paint – none of which you’d see for months, until your muscles repaired themselves enough to permit walking. The kitchens always clattered with the silvery laughter of orderlies, barely-scrubbed plates, preordered food that never seemed to gather enough heat at its heart. You would come to know and despise the taste of cauliflower cheese, that mulchy mess, which all new inpatients were subjected to as a way of easing digestion back into practise. You were told that your stomach lining would split, were you to try even an apple; which, given its watery content, you’d have much preferred.

But preference was not the mainstay of this place. It was a system of control and peer pressure, to ensure survival. It was about clawing through the darkness of memories, and flashbacks; dissecting emotions, their resultant reactions, some of which you saw played out in awful tantrum-glory. You’d get to know the shine of aprons, the spitfire sound of syringes being filled; the slipperiness of gloved hands on angry limbs. And the awful nut-smell of calorie drinks, which still make you gag to remember.

You weren’t here on a tour. You were here for 7.5 months, not that you or the staff knew it at the time.
But first, you were to walk that first corridor.

Through a grainy back yard, surrounded by a wind-whipped tall fence that resembled the dog kennels your grandparents housed their boarders in. As the gate slammed shut, you glanced back to the wiry weeds surrounding this particular part of the compound; to your mother’s car. You saw dead trainers and flat footballs, a ratty broom; a hot-eyed girl, part of the adolescent-depression ward beneath your own, sprawled in a deckchair as though she only passed by everyday. You’d come to know that ward well, its sons and daughters of pain, anxiety and depression, through knockings on the ceiling at night, disturbing your sleep. They liked to pummel every surface with fist and chair, and you felt every scream and tear. You were only a handful of years older than they. An adult by legal standards, but a dwindling flame.

You walked up to the solid door. Saw its wire mesh, complicated lock; the buzz-in system. Your throat closed. You knew that it would make a sound like hell freezing over, when it closed behind you. That you would be trapped inside, on a locked ward, with time no longer a commodity and freedom less so. You would have things dictated to you, for your own good, for your wellbeing. But you still had no real idea what to expect. Not yet.

So when that door slammed behind you, after your mother had you both buzzed in, you walked up the flight of steps with its whispering trail of unswept leaves dragged in by visitor feet, and felt nothing.

Feelings of any kind, made your head hurt. Too much to focus on, with the white noise in constant static fuzz. It’s still up there, though greatly diminished by the world’s voice. Back then, it was far easier to stay routed in the rat tunnels of OCD; the turn-turn again before sitting down (jumping back up because you’d done it wrong, yet again, stupid lazy fucker); the pacing-nth-times before trying to get into bed, only to find a misstep had fallen foul of your prescribed exercise total, and you had to start again. Aching feet. Pock-marked back, from frantic sit-ups and breaking skin. Shiny patches, like dropped coins, among the once-thick sweep of your hair.

Compensation was your buzzword. It was one of many things that had landed you inside.

You still couldn’t fathom how someone as fat as you were, so lazy, could’ve been accepted onto this seemingly hallowed ground of stick-limbs and papyrus skin, dry eyes and broken teeth. Moth-eaten clothes that stank of thin sweat, riming every part of the ward like corrosion.

Your mother mistook it for bile. It’s still her residing memory of that place, the first sense to hit home. It stung your nose, at the start of a corridor full of doors, leading to rooms formulaic and yet still bound up with the memories of every patient to pass through; all those other unlikely candidates for life, like you in symptom, strangers in story.

The smell wasn’t puke. Not yet anyway, for it’d be months before that particular girl, with her throwing-up-in-bins habit, would blitz the ward and upset the tenuous peace balance, before quietly snuffing out one day in Spring the next year, on a day like any other, all green and gold light. The way some of us will go, without warning and when it’s too late for recall.

You don’t know the vast echoes, until the anorexic stops silent-screaming. Then they stay in your head forever.

It was raw fear. It was the sickly sweetness of slow decay, cellular breakdown; bad breath from old vomit habits, screwed-up gastric systems. You’d come to know that smell well; it still finds you, whenever an old person walks past on the street, and you know Death is near. On the ward, that smell would wind itself around your throat in a syrupy scarf, and you’d soon get used to it, as the days rolled to nights, to weeks, to months. You only noticed the difference when visitors commented on it.

Your little brother, when he first came to visit, piped up about the smell as soon as he walked through the main door. A child’s voice resonating up a corridor full of artwork depicting broken mental health; it still haunts your memory. You can’t bring yourself to talk about that time with him in any great detail, though he’s an adult now. At the time, he was a little boy, all bright blonde hair and beautiful brown eyes; one you used to tug around the back garden, in an old clothes basket. Back when you were both children, adventurers through mile-high weeds and Dad’s trellis, on the hunt for the world. Effortless in innocence.

You really wish he was still there, giggling behind you; not the dark young soul he’s grown into, though it seemed an eventuality anyway, a wire that runs through our family. You want to erase his memories of that time and place; how he saw you fall down to the floor one night, out of weak spite, because you’d lost weight that week and not been permitted on group walk. His wide eyes fill your mind, along with his little trembling lip. You want to take it all back, let him forever see his older sister as the adventurer she was, through fern and thorn.
You’d just settle for the flawed adult you are now.

That corridor spanned the length of the ward. Kitchens, therapy rooms, bedrooms, lounges, all swam away from it like a warren. The trick to keeping peace was in the heavy fire doors that segmented areas from one another. There were designated rest rooms, where – after an intense 90 minutes of passive-aggressive warfare with staff – 18 women and you, would be made to sit and digest. Food, thoughts, memories, feelings … everything would swim around inside, and you couldn’t even disappear for a quiet cry. Staff eyes stayed locked on every patient, to avoid purging.

You got to know that word well, among others. Like “IT’S READDDDDYYY!” jangling down the corridor from the kitchens, where the first inpatient to greet you, would often play emissary for mealtimes. Her lilting voice found you in those gluey moments, as you stood nervously by the main door.

A lithe figure of unspent energy, done up in post-Goth black hair and new-found pink infatuation, a velvety jumpsuit that made your eyes water. She wore little hospital slippers and scars on her arms. Closer inspection – you were still brazen then, hadn’t learned the cardinal rule of No Comparisons – found a girl already several months into her treatment, if the strangely disproportionate body was anything to go by. You still wear it now, a reluctant badge; the thicker midriff (still waiting for fat deposits to disperse evenly), the skeletal arms and legs. Hair running a downy paleness along the back of your neck and a bit down your spine. Lanugo, that old fail-safe; your body desperately trying to keep warm, when huddling under every radiator didn’t work. You have to resist the urge to shave it all off, knowing it’ll only grow back longer. It’ll fall out on its own, like all the old habits and routines seem to with passing years.

You were charmed from the start. The purest wide smile, huge dark eyes shining in a little triangle face. She knew that you were new, by the various bags and hangdog face. Odds and ends, all to be picked over and pulled apart for contraband. You wouldn’t see your Discman, batteries or razor blade for a long time. But you’d get to know all about weight-dipping, the process of lining one’s pockets with objects to add pseudo-mass to your frame, before morning weigh-ins. You’d learn about waterlogging, about holding back on pee stops. You wanted out as fast as possible, like all the rest.
Which is why you stayed inside, so very long.

She helped you sit down. Offered to find a staff nurse, mentioned something about a primary care worker, which was just so much jumbled nonsense to your dimmed ears. You were already zoning out. This tended to happen when you were most afraid; a dissociation tactic, conceived on the day you were abused. It had the potential to block out all feelings, thoughts, reactions. You became a ragdoll, something people could manipulate, and never really know.

But you still have fragmented memories of that first day. The smell of the kitchens, wafting up the corridors; the golden light playing along walls full of jagged words and gorgeous self-portraits of pain. It was an Indian summer; the firedoors stood wedged open to allow what fresh air there was on the ward, to flow. Leaves whispered outside, lost in windows that wouldn’t open fully. You tensed up at the smell of cooking, the brash shouts and clattering pans, all of which pointed towards horrors yet to come. Your nails dug into the scratchy material of the chair you were hunched in. Even with your birdbone weight, it sagged badly. The whole ward had an unfurnished feel to it. It was never supposed to become home, it was only a get-well stop gap…

But you’d soon come to know that strange Stockholm syndrome of inpatient wards, a chill-sounding word that reminds you of a blind man’s white stick: Institutionalised. You’d come to know a love for those walls, at once concealing and constricting. You’d know how safe a locked door can feel, even while your fingers itch to claw it open. You’d see enough girls try this, fingers bleeding, mouths screaming as they were carried away to be lightly sedated. Only the lawfully detained, the Sectioned, were subjected to this treatment; but it was because of the runaways, that the door remained locked.

You soon came to feel yourself as one of them, though you were put inside voluntarily. But in those first few minutes, as you stared around at the chipped walls, at the beautiful girl before you with her happy smile and sad eyes, you felt very alone.
“I don’t belong here.” The first words you spoke, into recycled air. You knew there was a waiting list behind you. Their desperate, sullen eyes followed your every move, waiting for you to stop pretending, so they could have a chance at treatment.

She laughed. Told you they all said that. And somehow, though you weren’t aware of it at the time, you were initiated into the strange clan of the inpatient unit. Their petty arguments and lethal rivalries became your days, full of buttery fingernails through hair, conspiring whispers of calorie counting; their movie marathons and impromptu jigsaw races, would be your nights. The food hoarding, secret trips to the bathroom; the corridor pacing (you still hear it now, thrumming heels on rainy days that meant no group walk.) The glaring eyes of staff, their sharp mouths and barbwire punishments; their softened eyes, whenever a patient dared break their comfort zone and talk beyond symptoms. The endless ream of group meetings, full of charged, pin-drop air; try asking a roomful of anorexics for an opinion, you’ll know the passing of cloud shadows on the carpet.

You’d come to know the smokers who stood out on the fire escapes, occasionally setting light to the bins with their stubs, bringing an entourage of blaring fire engines into the yard. You’d lean out the windows with them, to wolf-whistle and whoop at the firemen who invoked some sudden mad surge of Outside World appeal. You accidentally set off an alarm yourself, using a hairdryer to blast the rain out of your boots, after a forced march through the kind of monochrome evening that seemed sketched of graphite; when the sky upended itself in sticks of rain. The walkways swam with petrol rainbows, toxic beauty heavy in your throat, as the last ghastly weigh-in number squatted in your head to bleed poison through all the new hopeful thoughts you’d been having lately, about such novel things as recovery. Fear of gaining too much, too soon, won out. Regardless of having no umbrella, you were out under the Tempting Death sky. Your tears were lost in the rain, at least.

You remember the swirl of little umbrellas, as the school kids came pouring out; how they pulled the dark afternoon back, with their colourful anoraks and squealing laughter. They reminded you of what could never be, with irreparable damage to reproductive organs, if you weren’t careful. Some doctors didn’t bother pulling punches, if shock tactics would exert a stronger will on patients, than what caged their minds.

You hear the sound of heavy rain, and Gary Jules “Mad World”, and you’re back on the pavement watching those children giggle and stamp past, through shining puddles reflecting their boots and the sodium haven… You still feel your throat close up.

As it does with Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”, because it marked the night when you knew Death for more than a passing acquaintance. Even the two suicide attempts hadn’t brought him so close. Pale fingers on your shoulder, giving it a squeeze as he walked through the ward, to find all and let them know You are Not Immune. One had fallen, spent the golden afternoon fighting for survival in an intensive care unit. It was a suddenness that can reach us all, but especially those who’ll sit beneath the Wall, in its chill shade, counting off their days in restricted calories and urgent exercise.

You remember the way the ambulance lights skirled blue along the corridor walls. How everyone stood in their bedroom doorways, fists up to mouths and white faces tight as the skin on their bones. You remember how the corridor was bracketed in black and green, the deepest lake-water light. A late hour, news broken … and a piece of you died that night.

Someone went to the lounge, you never did learn who; they opened up the cabinet housing the Hi-Fi, and put that song on. Cranked the volume up and opened the lounge door, and the staff allowed each partition to stand thus, until the sound of Springsteen’s melancholy flowed up and through every door, for anyone to listen and hear their own fate in the lyrics. You remember how the green light flooded across faces; some resting on shoulders, some turned to the ceiling and shining wet, in the ones who could still cry.

“Saw my reflection in a window / I didn’t know my own face / Oh brother are you gonna leave me / Wasting away on the streets of Philadelphia…”

That song would be played a handful of times thereafter, in memory of the one whose body gave out. There was always one line that cracked everyone up, in a knotted-throat kind of way:
“And my clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles just to slip this skin…”
You’ve kept contact with a few. The ones who mattered, called you friend and laughed with you, bitched and yelled silently at the indifferent walls. There were illicit wheelchair races and football games in the corridors. There were thin shoulders to cry on, full of surprising strength, and a strange kind of love found in all who carry pain as a happy passenger.

You still talk to them about the catchphrases (faithfully copied into a memory book) of the staff; how you’d tease and taunt at group meetings; about the raging inferno of a forced calorie drink, on top of the seemingly insurmountable pile of calories in a meal, if even one patient fucked the system. You reminisce about daft playlists (“Hungry Eyes” was always a favourite), and cheese ‘n onion pie burps. You feel quiet inside when remembering those who used the ward as a top-up zone, before heading out to emaciate their frames again. You reminisce about rest periods spent plaiting each others’ hair, watching films that made no sense to your fried brain, until the weight slowly crept back on and allowed for clearer thought.

That was like drinking from a glass of cool water; the day you picked up an old friend-book, and the words no longer jumbled together in formless mulch of meaning.

You remember how one staff nurse always got on your case about walking heel-toe; how you angrily responded that your mother had said you sounded like an elephant, and that you’d rather walk on the balls of your feet like a cat, than be called heavy-footed again.

You recall every single face, though their names slide down the gutter of memory. You remember how each person had their own smell, lavender perfume or white musk, crayons or calorie drink, where they’d forced the issue of denial too long. You can still remember how each flow of handwriting scrawled a personalized morning message across the main white board, before breakfast; quotes and capital-yells, cute doodles.

You remember the male nurse you fell in love with, his kind eyes and mischievous nature; how your emotions were bent around him, cost you dearly in journal entries, as you desperately tried to make sense of reawakened hormones. There was the time shortly after Christmas, when he left that note on the board, the Spider and the Fly quote that took you nine years to make sense of.

Some things will never make sense. How I can look into a mirror now, see a fairly healthy face with glowing cheeks, eyes that are wide and bright (if a bit red-rimmed; insomnia is still an old friend.) How I can find a body lithe with muscles, from years of weight training and countryside walks. How the words that once lay as ashes in my mouth, now flow from my fingers as spun silk, to form who I am. A writer again, at last.

Twelve years in the making, I am so close to being the whole weave. I no longer pine for the shadow of that sturdy child, so desperately in love with the world and ideas of travel and writing; for love unending, unfettered by stupid societal inhibitions like body image, manners, distance. Today, I live these ideals. After having Death on my shoulder, I know his touch and recognize it in the faces of others who’ve felt him pass close by. I reach out to them, one slightly cold hand to another. I am done with waiting. Now I live, and live for Now.

I reach out to you, reader, with the message and warning: Never underestimate the power of an unlocked door, a mind filled with ambition and thoughts. It doesn’t matter how dark, how light you feel. For me, to know emotions at all is to know reactions ungoverned by illness… and such freedom, a recently discovered quantity. It’s a flame I cup in both hands and warm my heart with, this new sense of humanity, when for long years I wanted only to be above and beyond this race, its unpredictability and cruelty and capacity for the greatest acts of love; I wanted to be buried beneath it, too. The fact I couldn’t make up my mind, is probably one of the reasons I’m still alive.
Still sensing. Still feeling. Now speaking out.

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And I’ll see you, and you’ll see me…

06/08/2013 at 21:05 (Personal)

The horizon, our tightrope, would never cease to beckon, even as it dares us to fall.

A day without rain, without articulate thoughts (of my own); following a night without sleep, and an evening of high flying colours. I’ve been more up and down these past 48 hours, than I know what to rollercoaster with. The blues and the mean reds.

Our landlady has decided that the 6-month break clause, need no longer be applicable. We’re out by the end of the year. I’m very tired, in more ways than one. So much change. So much of having the Universe’s boot up my arse, kicking me out the door.
I’ve no fear of homelessness, at least. I can always move back in with my Ma. But I’d need a lobotomy to cope.

Ebony, Ivory
Staying, Leaving
Find me, Lose me

Write what you know; live what you don’t.
I plan to put this more into practice.

Friends have been good for my soul, of late. Real companions, though miles stretch between us. I don’t know how I can ever articulate thank you in such a way as it resonates enough.

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