Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Misguiding Compasses

 “The world is not like the playgrounds you’re used to. Nothing falls into place like a puzzle and not all riddles can be solved. In this class, I am going to teach you how to see. You may think you’ve seen everything in your whole life, but you haven’t. Think of your clearest memory, most people only have one or two they truly remember. How they felt, how it smelled, what senses arose, the patterns spawned from light and the sharpness of edges. Those are the only real memories you have. Everything else is worthless. The only way you’ll be a good writer is if you notice everything overlooked and only find interest in the seemingly mundane. The most intriguing intricacies are camouflaged by our collective desire to fit in.”

 So far the only notes I’ve taken down in this creative writing class are direct quotes from my maniacal, oddball teacher who, as you can expect, perfectly fits the stereotype of a suitably-crazy writer. He wears a different bizarrely patterned tie everyday and doesn’t tie it, just lets it hang. He is constantly picking it up and adjusting it, like it’s purpose is to be a utility for fidgeting. He is bald, and you can tell he is his own hairdresser with little care for his appearance from anything other than his own perspective from the strips of hair wisping down the back of his neck. The rest of his clothes are baggy and, wherever possible, suede. His eyes are inquisitive. I can’t look at him directly for more than 3 seconds or I’ll involuntarily spill out all of my secrets. And I don’t even have any to spill. 

 This class seems to be a bust. Mr Henshaw is brilliant, but he’s a writer, not a teacher. He belongs in a cabin by a lake, a Mont Saint Victoire to his Paul C├ęzanne. I admired him for it, though he thought I was at best mediocre. I agreed with him. My last piece was called ‘The Bride’s Eyes’ and it was about this movie I saw where the bride went blind during the ceremony and so her not-yet-husband made a run for it. Totally worth plagiarising, right? Although in my spin on it, the husband gets hit by a truck after running out of the Church. It’s a perfect ending really, full of karma, irony and tragedy. My three favourite things.

 These NYC winters will be the death of me. Not only am I facing the fashion shame of wearing three scarves at once, I am facing the shame on my life of wearing leggings under a dress. Oh, please forgive me, Fashion Gods. I know we have had a rough relationship since my 2008 scene phase, but I’m progressing, I promise. My walking search for writing inspiration needs a pitstop as I realise I cannot feel my feet. Next thing I know I’m in this strange but interesting indie coffee shop in Brooklyn and trying to tackle my next writing assignment, which is to write about my ‘biggest fear.’ I should really be studying for my actual university exams next week instead of my part-time writing classes that don’t really have any practical value. Biochem is fascinating, but with words I get to take credit for the resultant fascination. 

 I was writing a haiku in my head about how glorious this cinnamon hot chocolate is when my smile fades. I hear it, the snarky, egotistical words of the most pretentious, vulturous person I’ve ever met. I jump when I suddenly feel a hand on my shoulder and he smirks. 
“Oh hey, Amy, this is my friend Scarlett. She’s the best writer in my class. Have I ever mentioned how terrible everyone in my writing class is?” 
“Nice to see you too, as always, Zach. The feeling is mutual. Amy, you’ve snatched a real charmer.” 
She twirls her blonde hair and fake-laughs in an endless cycle. I don’t get the appeal of girls like this. Is it to boost their ego? Their intelligence? To create the delusion that males are always smarter than females to satisfy bigots like Zach? Zach is probably the only person in my class I’ve ever had a memorable conversation with. He grew up in NYC and has had the most seemingly-priviledged life. He’s basically a character from Gossip Girl, only with not as much depth.

 “I see you’re writing our assignment. Let me guess, it’s on failure. Wait, wait, no, it’s on how you don’t know who you are and it’s just so hard trying to figure it out in this sexist society.” 
Sarcasm is usually the way to my heart, but…
 “No, although I wish I had thought of those. I guess you’ll have to wait and see. Now let me guess, yours is about your fear of realising how unextraordinarily normal you are? Or even better and more fatal, losing access to your trust fund?”
 I’m not even being sarcastic, but I had to act this way, I’m not that terrible of a person. At least from other people’s perspectives. I expect to see a look of anger on his face when I say it, but when I look up at him, he smiles. I can’t help but smile back. I’ve never noticed how angular his face is. He could be beautiful if he wasn’t, well, my arch enemy. Our writing class is full of people who have only read The Hunger Games and tumblr posts of E.E. Cummings poetry. If anyone is a semi-good writer, it’s Zach. I came to terms with this a long time ago. He may be a narcissist but his writing…was a whole other story. The worst part about our witty but contempt-filled relationship - he lives in the apartment next to mine. Perfect. It’s like the universe is trying to push me towards someone I feel only annoyed by - further proof of my belief that destiny does not exist. 

 “Scarlett Goodrich…read your piece aloud. Now.” Mr Henshaw proclaims, as he runs a comb along his bald head, as if he has forgotten that, well, he doesn’t have anything to comb. I walk up awkwardly to the front of class, tripping on other people’s bags on my way. When I reach the front, I glance at my audience, seeing what I have to work with. The girls are all filing their nails, or texting, with the evolved few doing both; whilst the guys all look half-asleep, as usual. But as always, there is one exception. Zach was looking me right in the eye in anticipation, like a predator waiting to pounce. He wears his trademark smirk of confidence and mischief on full display, making even me more nervous.

 I try to appear more confident than I feel, although my habit of scraping my bangs out of my face creeps back to haunt me. When I finish, I am afraid to look up. Remember what happened last time I looked up at Zach? I saw him in a new way, something that unsettled me. It was alien and I needed no further disorientation of my emotive compass. I look up at Mr Henshaw and, to my surprise, he looks shocked, but impressed. He pats me on the back, knights me with one of his ties and exclaims, “I hereby declare you my first student to ever surprise me! It’s all I’ve ever wanted. You’re good, Scarlett, you are.” When I finally build up the courage to glance at the rest of the class I see a few have returned from the undead and seemed almost, vaguely interested. There is a shriek from the audience. 
“Well done, Scar, that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard!” As expected, Tamara is not the most well-read. 

 I look over at Zach and he is scribbling into his notebook. Weird. And frustrating. I have this inexplicable desire to know what he thinks. I don’t particularly care, I think to myself, but I’m curious. If he is anything, he is interesting.

 Tonight I am sitting in my shoebox apartment, watching Clueless for the millionth time to take my mind off my homesickness. England is a long, expensive flight away and it’s not as if I have any real friends here to keep me company. Any I do have are always busy with university and relationships. Am I the only one who prioritises being creative and watching old movies? Even though, back home it wasn’t much different, but at least it was home. One thing I do love about being here is my apartment. It’s tiny, but in a nice building. It may as well be a palace in this city. I’ve decorated it with old christmas tree lights and drawings and stuck pages of all kinds of writing on the walls, it really felt like me; my own place. 

 I’m boiling noodles and in a Bon Iver trance, Holocene playing on my record player, when I hear a knock on my door. A knock? I don’t know anyone who could possibly be at my door at this time of night. My only conclusion: it’s a serial killer. My time has come. I’ve had a nice life. I’ll grab my biggest kitchen knife but if I fail (which is more likely than not) I can take it. And if I almost fail and just end up with some wounds and a traumatic experience, I will have hit the writing-inspiration goldmine. I take a deep breath, clutch the knife in my hand so tightly that I wonder if I accidentally grabbed the sharp end. 

 “Woah, woah, woah Richgood! I know we’ve never exactly been friends but we’ve also never been, physically, violent.” 
A sigh of relief. It’s only him. Him. 
Although, unlike a serial killer, I am unaware of his motives. I can’t help but be a little amused, even if we were enemies, it was only because we realised our…connection. We weren’t indifferent to one another. We seem to think in such similar ways. Anytime Mr H asks a question in class we both raise our hands for the same ones, and lower them after the other has answered. We’ve been neighbours but never friends. And this was suspiciously friend-like.

 He glides past me into my apartment and starts reading the walls. That sounds weird but you know what I mean. He focuses in on one page in particular that reads: 'But the roof above her was never really there / neither were the parents scaffolding it / neither was the love she thought they shared / and neither was the belief that she alone / could hold it. Late one night she asked herself / "is this my fate too?" / fate laughed and snarled, "darling, I have only as much power as you."

“Bon Iver, huh? And you think I’m the pretentious one?” He flashes me his usual smirk. 
“Oh, sorry, you must be used to the generic pop music Amy is into, how inconsiderate of me! Let me see if I have any Bruno Mars or Katy Perry…oh wait, shockingly, I don’t.” Something in his smile this time, I can’t help but feel some kind of stir within me. Maybe there was more to our relationship than being verbal sparring partners. 

“I don’t mean to sound rude, even to you, but why are you here?” I ask.
“I’ve been waiting to have some free time to satisfy my curiosity about what the inside of your apartment looks like. It’s just as artsy and movie-like as I imagined. I guess writing isn’t the only thing that sets you apart.” 
I try to conceal a smile. 
“One thing that doesn’t is your apparent taste in movies…” he points to the television, “Clueless? Really?” 
“Are you joking? Even you could lower your shield of pretention enough to admit that this movie is a classic!” I say, more passionately than necessary. “And it’s always been my favourite, it reminds me of movie nights I used to have with my sister back home.” 
“Ah yes, I sometimes forget you’re not a native. If anything in the piece you read aloud today is non-fiction, I really am sorry about your family issues, Scarlett. No one deserves that. I know I may not be your first choice but I am always on the other side of the wall if you want to talk.” I felt myself start to blush. “Although,  I can’t guarantee I’ll listen. You have a tendency to ramble.” I laughed, he smiled, and just like that my comfort was restored.

 Again, he gazes at the walls, “You know, you really are a good writer,” he looks at me, and I catch a glimpse of sincerity I’ve rarely seen in his dark eyes. I decide against a sarcastic response, just this once. 
“Thanks. Some may say you are too.” 
He suddenly looks concerned, “Your noodles are burning!” “What? Is that some kind of weird metaphor?” He dashes over to the stove and switches it off, I notice the puddles of boiling water around my cooker. Oh God. Real smooth, Scar. I guess my brain puts everything else on hold when I talk to him.

 “You know I kind of just saved your life.” He grins. 
“Oh yeah, I definitely wouldn’t have survived that nanosecond it would have taken me to realise after you did.” I can’t help but laugh as I look at us both sitting on my kitchen floor attempting to mop up boiling water with dollar-store toilet paper without scalding ourselves, noodles scattered everywhere. 
“I’ve never seen you laugh before,” he says, quietly. 
“Yeah, well, I guess I find it easier to write assignments about tragedies than fantasies. They’re far more interesting, and easier to find.”
‘Beth/Rest’ start to play on the record player and it fills my surroundings as I see the beginnings of a smile on his face.
“…I might disagree,” he says.
I agreed, and suddenly saw a future ahead of me in this city I hadn’t just seconds ago.

Friday, 14 November 2014

shipping, body image and just more venting

Hi guys. Firstly, I just watched the new Vampire Diaries episode and please just let me freak out for a minute because OH MY GOD. The rain scene! The! Rain! Scene! I did not know such beauty could exist in the world. I cried/am still crying/feel this deep ache in my chest when I think about it. 

 This happens me with any Damon/Elena scene in that show, there is something so captivating and fascinating about their relationship. And how impossibly HOT Ian Somerhalder/Damon Salvatore is. Like really. I honestly have never seen a more beautiful human, but you really need to watch the show to understand it. I truly love Damon's character so much, even when the show becomes mediocre his character has always been written so well, so impossibly complex. Not to mention, Ian Somerhalder himself is SUCH a kick-ass person with the ISF and everything. His acting is so unbelievable, like in the last episode in his speech to Elena when they were dancing, ahhhhhhhh. I'll stop. I can understand if you don't find clips that interesting without having watched all the seasons of the show, you really have to have seen the build-up and pain to this point to appreciate it.
I'll link it here if any of you want to put yourselves through the one minute and eight seconds of emotional turmoil that simultaneously made me love the world and hate it. I warned you.

 Secondly, something that has been talked about a lot on social media recently is people saying 'Victoria's Secret models should be real women!' and the popular response being 'Umm they're real women too! Do you think they're sims? Holograms? LOL.' So this is definitely true, but to an extent. Those women have worked for their image and are still, shockingly, living breathing humans. But, not everyone can look like that. Whether it's due to physical conditions such as illness or other health issues, genetics, circumstances etc. And so as this image of these models is presented as the ideal, perfect way to look, an abundance of women are left feeling unjustly inferior. This can be the cause of illnesses such as depression or anorexia, which are so devastating and it pains me that something as worthless as a marketing ploy can cause someone's health to deteriorate. But even if this isn't the case, I know I've watched fashion shows and even if just temporarily, hated my appearance, everything about it, because I didn't, and would never look like them. I would never be able to feel comfortable in my skin because why should I when I'm so terrible compared to the beauty of people like that. It's toxic. So toxic. 

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” 

― Simone de Beauvoir
(This quote has been floating around in my mind all throughout writing this. Hm.)


 I also disagree with those campaigns where they show a picture of a row of 40-year-old not-the-skinniest white women and claim 'Now THESE are real women!' It actually worries me that some people don't see the errors in this. It's so clearly contradictory and just, agh. Now if they had a range of ethnicities, weights, body types, and physical states then I would have agreed. 


“What becomes of a man who acquires a beautiful woman, with her "beauty" his sole target? He sabotages himself. He has gained no friend, no ally, no mutual trust: She knows quite well why she has been chosen. He has succeeded in buying something: the esteem of other men who find such an acquisition impressive.” 


So one thing I've realised lately - I love things too much. I do. I know it sounds silly but let me explain. I love things or people or ideas so much that no one could ever feel equally towards me, it's seems physically impossible. For example, when I think of someone I love, I feel to such strength that I worry myself. I'm at a constant state of seeming inferiority, slight emptiness and, well, delusion. I don't know if it stems from my desire to be positive, or to be love and be loved, or simply to feel things. I've always found feelings wholly uninteresting unless they're intense and memorable. Does anyone else feel like this? Please don't think this is some cry for help from a perpetually insecure teenager because it's not, I could change this if I wanted, but I won't. It's not hard to imagine why. I think in my lifetime, above everything, I just want to feel things. From new experiences, people, places, perspectives, stories, music, tragedies.


since feeling is first 

- E.E. Cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis


(Any excuse to include an E.E. Cummings poem. How I wish I could write like this.)

 SONG: Make This Go On Forever - Snow Patrol

I have been SO excited to write about this lately because it's clearly not new or anything and I've heard it/seen it live (sigh) years ago but you know when you're in the mind state for a certain song and sometimes, just sometimes, you find it just when you need it and it feels like it finds you too.

 Snow Patrol have always been my favourite band, and I love so many of they're songs, their lyrics, their power. I really want to learn this song on guitar, but I'd never be able to do it justice. In this song there is just something that enthralled me when I listened to it randomly a few weeks ago. I love the lyrics so much. They really make me think. And create a movie in my head. Which has been happening with certain songs I've listened to lately. Consequently, I have a lot of (terrible) short film ideas, many of which revolve around the mesmerising Bon Iver song 'Wash.'


"First kiss and the first time that I felt connected to anything
The weight of water, the way you told me to look past everything I had ever learned
The final word in the final sentence you ever uttered to me was love."


TV SHOW: AHHHH! I just realised that I still haven't mentioned my love for The Mindy Project on here yet. Basically, I just really, really love that show. I caught up over halloween break and it is so well-written and truly hilarious. I was such a huge fan of Mindy herself before watching the show and now I'm in even more in awe of her.

My next post is going to be about more life-related-rambling as well as some books (although most books I've read lately are just old poetry anthologies I found in my house and I don't really have much to write about on them here) and pictures of the AMAZING package my penpal and favourite human Kara sent me. 

As usual, it;s 12:45am. Ha. Ha. Ha. Goodnight. I'm so tired I'm not even going to check this for spelling mistakes. Or add photos. LOL I am so bad at this. GOOD NIGHT.