365 Day Writing Challenge 34: Sounds

365 Day Writing Challenge

34. Sounds: Sit outside for about an hour. Write down the sounds you hear.

It’s too cold here to sit outside for an hour so I noted down the sounds I heard for an hour on the tram instead.

A girl with an annoying Southern accent is talking incessantly. Her friend – well, the girl that she’s with – seems to be regretting whatever outing it is that they’ve planned together. The girl’s accent feels like someone chewing in my ear. “Oh my boyfriend is so racist,” she trills. “I had a right go at him for it the other night. They have the best cocktails over there. The Alchemist. They have really good cocktails” all in the same breath. Her friend says nothing. I have fun imagining her falling into further and further depths of despair as she regrets not only them being on this tram but their entire acquaintanceship (she’s not even calling it a friendship any more). When they get off the tram I watch them go, wondering at what time she will make an excuse and go.

I feel sorry for the girl’s friend, because I know what it feels like to be stuck with someone you realise you don’t really want to be friends with and you can’t wait to slink away. Though I suppose I should feel sorry for the other girl, so unaware of how badly her attempt of connecting with someone was going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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365 Day Writing Challenge 33: Jewellery

365 Day Writing Challenge

33. Jewellery: Write about a piece of jewellery. Who does it belong to?

Do you ever notice how your perception of something may change over time it still holds the same emotional value? Like your favourite band when you were a kid. You realise if you heard one of their cheesy songs now for the first time you wouldn’t like it, and yet you still love to hear it. This is how I feel about my mum’s necklace.

When I was a child it was the most beautiful thing in the world. Two delicate golden birds sat on a filigree branch, their emerald eyes gazing at each other while their beaks softly touched. I used to gaze at it in my mum’s jewellery box, too awed to touch it. She never seemed to wear it. It seemed to just live in that box, the delicate birds forever touching their beaks, encased in gold.

Now I look it and the first thing that strikes me is how cheap the gold is. Well, it isn’t gold at all – but some other metal sprayed gold. The birds are cute, but they are by no means delicate. And the emeralds? Plastic.

I can’t help but wonder why she would have kept a necklace like this. She never wore it so it must have some sentimental value because otherwise why would she keep it? I asked my dad if he knew where she got it from, but no. And I don’t even bother asking my brothers.

I take the necklace on the train home with me, clenched tightly in my fist, feeling like a child again, waiting for someone to tell me off for taking it. I play with it absent-mindedly, wondering why on earth she had it. I imagined a boyfriend, when she was young, long before my dad. He was sweet and sexy and she was absolutely madly in love with him. For what felt like forever, but what was actually a matter of months, he was her whole world. She couldn’t get enough of him, he was her addiction. He gave her this necklace and she adored it, she knew what little money he had. It was inperfect but it was perfect to her.

But my mum was a sensible woman. She began to notice things about him that weren’t as perfect. His temper, for example. He could fly off the handle at the smallest thing. Or his complete lack of interest in the future. She was at college, wanting to start building a career for herself, and he didn’t even have a job, just scrounging off his parents and crashing on friends’ sofas whenever his parents protested. She began to lose patience with him. They argued. She left. She didn’t look back.

But she let herself keep the necklace. She let herself keep a tiny memento of when she was young and of a time when she could lose her head over a boy with too long hair and skinny legs.

Of course I have no idea if this is a actually what happened. She probably bought it, realised she didn’t like it and couldn’t be bothered to throw it away. But I like thinking of her that way, young and free and of a time when she was something other than my mum.

365 Day Writing Challenge 32: Rewrite a Poem

365 Day Writing Challenge

32. Rewrite a Poem: Take any poem or short story you find anywhere. Rewrite it in your own words.

The poem I’ve rewritten is She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

He lives in gold, like the sun –

In Eden days of blue and white,

And all that’s freedom,

All that’s light,

Meet in his aspect and his eyes,

A beauty never matched by even

The brightest star of the night.

 

One ray the more, one shade the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which lives in every chestnut strand,

Or softly brightens on his face;

Where thoughts so happily express

Themselves in such a loved resting place.

 

And on that cheek, and in his eyes,

So soft, so warm, so joyous,

The smiles that win, the eyes that see

 

All the good in everyone,

A mind at peace with all he sees,

A heart whose love is strong yet innocent.


Of all the challenges this was by far the hardest. Byron rhymes (and mine in this poem have been patchy at best) and uses meter, both of which I never use in any of my poems. All I can say is thank God for my English degree because a lot of things I learnt there became useful when I was writing this – deciphering what Byron is actually saying line per line especially.

 

 

365 Day Writing Challenge 31: The Professor

365 Day Writing Challenge

31. The Professor: Write about a teacher that has influenced you.

One of my lecturers, Mariadele, was a force to be reckoned with. She had black curly hair in a very short bob, and always wore those gypsy style boots and a red coat. She was small and her accent (I think Italian) was cute but if this led anyone to think that she was a soft touch then they were sadly mistaken.She was fierce – and I don’t mean in the Rupaul sense. On our exam prep lecture everyone who hadn’t turned up all year arrived in the hopes of being able to get some tips to blag through the exam, she coolly informed them that it wasn’t going to help – they should have turned up all year. Boom.

I’d love to be like that when I (eventually) become a lecturer. I wouldn’t say she was especially well liked. Some people did, some people didn’t. But everyone respected her. And everyone knew that she knew her stuff. I’d love to be able to be so rooted in my own self-respect and my own knowledge that I am good at what I do that I wouldn’t care if people liked me or not.

365 Day Writing Challenge 30: Shopping

365 Day Writing Challenge

30. Shopping: Write about your shopping wishlist and how you like to spend money.

I’ve just got a full time job with better pay so this is something that has definitely been on my mind lately! Normally I am the worst scrooge about money, but recently I’ve grown a lot more relaxed about it. Number one on my wishlist is moving in with my boyfriend. We’re also going to Athens next month for our anniversary and Glastonbury the month after that, so I need to save up for spending money!

But all that aside, what do I want to buy…

Books.
And then more bookshelves because I don’t have enough room for all the books I want.
See if this was my boyfriend writing this then this list would be a mile long. But I don’t really have a list of stuff I really want to buy. My wishlists all include things I want to do. I’d rather spend loads of money on an experience like a gig than on stuff. So if I had all the money in the world, what would I spend it on?

1. A house in the city to live with my boyfriend
2. Quit my job and write all day
3. Also buy a house somewhere warm in the country where I can swim and cycle
4. Speaking of cycling, following the tour de France around for the whole 3 weeks
5. I’d pay someone to do my hair and make up for me because I like to look nice but I can’t be arsed doing it perfectly
6. I’d get a personal shopper for the same reason
7. I’d go and see Vampire Weekend
8. I’d see Rupaul’s Drag Race on tour
9. I’d see Van Morrison
10. I’d go to India, China, Japan, Australia and do a classical tour of Greece
11. I’d go sky diving and bungee jumping.
12. I’d read all the books I possibly could.

This list is of course by no means exhaustive, just a snapshot of the kind of life I’d like to have 🙂

365 Day Writing Challenge 29: Good Vibes

365 Day Writing Challenge

29. Good Vibes: What makes you smile? What makes you happy?

In no particular order:

1. FOOD
2. My boyfriend
3. My little sister
4. Hanging out with my boyfriend and my little sister just the three of us and I know that these are the people who I am truly myself with.
5. Babies
6. My new job
7. Lying in my bed which is all white and clean with my fairy lights on and feeling warm and safe
8. Spending hours in Waterstone’s deciding which books to buy
9. Reading
10. Finding my own style and wearing what I want
11. My hair
12. Cats
13. Weddings
14. Not having to work at H&M any more
15. Thinking about spending the rest of my life with Max
16. This video:

17. Music
18. Glastonbury
19. Spending time with my cousins, feeling accepted and part of something bigger than me
20. Sex

I wish I could add writing to this list, but at the moment writing is more like a therapy for me. I’m not sure I could say I enjoy it because I’m too critical. There is light showing through the cracks though.

365 Day Writing Challenge 28: Shadow

365 Day Writing Challenge

28. Shadow: Imagine you are someone’s shadow for a day.

I watch him sleep, and I feel peaceful and content. I stroke his hair and wish that we could stay like this forever, warm and safe. But then his alarm goes off, bursting my perfect bubble. He staggers out of bed and into the shower. I creep behind him into the bathroom.

We are on the tram when he gets a text from her. Asking him if he wants her to get him a coffee. With a kiss on the end. I want to take his phone and smash it against the window.

Finally, his office. I’ve imagined this place so many times,now I finally get to see it. And the people. I play a game in my head, trying to match faces to the names he has mentioned so many times to me. And then I see her. I know what she looks like, of course. What is Facebook for? Again, I ask myself, why. Why am I jealous. Why would anyone be jealous of that bland, passive face? But, I realise, it’s not her I’m jealous of. It never has been. It’s the attention he gives her, the way he talks about her. How invested he is in her. I watch him now. He thanks her for the coffee. He laughs. He smiles. I feel sick.

I know I said it’s not her, but nevertheless I still detest her. Big fish eyes and weirdly perfectly grey skin and that placid smile…that smile is the worst. She needs some colour injected into her. In fact, no, what she really needs is…

I stop myself. I don’t want to be that bitter, that cruel. But I am that bitter and that cruel, I think. That’s why I’m here.

 

365 Day Writing Challenge 27: Closed Doors

365 Day Writing Challenge

27. Closed Doors: What’s behind the door? Why is it closed?

Age 5

The door is huge. And I am small. It has a bright, warm outline from the light in the corridor outside. All I have to do is reach up, twist the door handle and I will be back in the real world. Where the adults are, and the light is. But I can’t. Because they’ll shout at me. They’ll shout at me because it’s my fault she’s dead.

I don’t know what happened. She was fine, she was talking, and then the next minute she just stopped, her sentence hacked in half, and she just stopped speaking, and at first I laughed because I thought she was joking, but she still didn’t wake up, and now I’m crying and crying and I can’t breathe and I’m begging her to wake up and I think I might be too loud and that they might hear me and I half want them to so they can take me out of this nightmare and I half don’t because it’s my fault. It has to be. I’m the only person in here with her so of course they’re going to blame me.


 

Age 23

I really want to know what you were thinking when you did that. When I was sitting next to you on the floor, crying and crying and bawling because I was a kid, and because I thought you were dead and I was shaking you over and over and you knew how terrified I was and you just lay there enjoying it. I really want to know what was going through your head at that time. The thing is I know you were a kid and I know you’re sorry now but how can someone be that sadistic and revel in someone else’s pain that much. Someone small who you knew was afraid of you and who you knew you had power over. And how could you then plan, and go over in your head, to get up, and say calmly, “Why are you crying?” and look at me slightly puzzled, and when I say, “You stopped in the middle of talking and you weren’t moving” say, “No I wasn’t. I don’t know what you’re talking about”. How can a child be that calculating? You made me doubt myself, you made me feel that maybe I had imagined it all, and you knew I would never tell anyone because you would deny it. Either I wouldn’t tell anyone because I felt stupid for believing you or I wouldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t trust my own memory enough, because you made me feel like I made it up. So either way you won.


 

Age 21

The more she reaches out to me the more it makes me want to pull back. It’s making me cringe because she’s drunk and she’s spouting cliches that she thinks make her sound damaged and dramatic but really just make her sound ridiculous. She shouldn’t be with anyone because how could anyone love her. She just hurts people. She just pushes people away. Her voice is slurring and she’s saying these things so that I will deny them so that she can argue and impress upon me just how fucked up she is. I retreat further and further back into the sofa and my words sound so false to me that I keep waiting for her to hear it herself, even as drunk as she is.

And then, somehow, she drags the conversation onto us. What a bad sister she was. How can I love her. She was so horrible to me. My life would have been better if she wasn’t in it. It still would be now. And of course I rebut the things she’s saying. She is a better person and sister now, it’s not a lie, and of course my life is better with her in it. But I know what she really wants me to say. And I can’t. I told myself I’d only say it if and when I meant it. And I don’t. I love who she is now. I’m glad she is in my life and that we have a relationship. But when I think of her as a child, and I see her with her dark eyes and her knowing, false smile, I can’t. I can forgive my adult sister for being a self-absorbed, sometimes cruel (she’s still got that nasty streak), melodramatic, embarrassing person. But I can’t forgive her child self. For anything. There’s a home video where she doesn’t realise she’s being filmed and she thinks a photo is being taken. She’s staring into the camera, and the quality is so bad that her eyes are black. She’s smiling and her smile looks way too calculating, way too knowing, for a child. And it’s very clear she’s doing it for the camera. It’s very clear that she’s used to performing. And that is the face of evil to me. And I can’t forgive her for anything, because to me she wasn’t a person, she was just this malevolent force that ruled my life. So I don’t say it. I won’t say it until I mean it.


 

Age 23

Just in case any of you were wondering, no, I haven’t forgiven her yet.

Afterthought

But I might be thawing slightly.

365 Day Writing Challenge 26: Fear

365 Day Writing Challenge

26. Fear: What scares you a little? What do you feel when scared? How do you react?

Oh, God. Asking someone with anxiety to talk about fear is a risky business. What scares me a little doesn’t really come into it. I don’t really tend to do little fears. Here is a list of things that are scaring me at the moment:

  1. New job: Am I doing it right? Do people like me? What’s going to happen when I start my masters in September? Will they be annoyed with me for not telling them? Do I bug the girl who’s training me too much? Why do I feel ugly and nerdy next to everyone else? I have my one to one tomorrow, that’s terrifying. Will they be OK with how much overtime I did this weekend? Why am I so bad with people?

 

  1. That I’m turning into my mum: Don’t even want to get into that one right now.

 

  1. General: I’m not outgoing enough. I suck all the enjoyment out of everything by worrying about it. I should have more friends. I’m not living up to my full potential. I’m going to feel anxious forever. I’m not getting the most out of life. Which leads onto…

 

  1. The big one. Death.

 

What’s really good is that when I’m in a calm mood like this I can think of rational challenges to most of these things. I don’t believe them all the time which is a big step forward. But when I am feeling anxious they are my reality. I react in different ways; this past week I have been feeling really sick. And sort of silently frantic. And that there’s constantly something in my mouth that makes me feel choked that I can’t get rid of.

But, as I say, I’m doing so much better. In fact, if you look at how I used to be I’ve come in leaps and bounds. This time last year I didn’t have a job. I didn’t leave the house. I had panic attacks all day. I can’t believe that was just a year ago but it’s true. And I’m also noticing that I seem to end a lot of these anxiety posts with “…but actually I’m doing really well”. Which is awesome. I already live my life so differently than how I used to (even pre-anxiety). I always feel like I’m “getting there” or “on my way” to something, but a lot of controlling anxiety is about acceptance, so maybe I just need to accept where I am now, and how good it is. 🙂

(Featured image from MentalFloss)

 

 

 

365 Day Writing Challenge 24: Numbers

365 Day Writing Challenge

24. Numbers: Write a poem or journal entry about numbers that have special meaning to you.

88: The house number of my home. I lived there from when I was around two until I was 18. I loved it a stupid amount, and I still dream about it on occasion.

7: My birthday is the 7th of the 7th, my phone number is mostly 7s and my current house number is 7. I can’t help but feel like it’s lucky every time a 7 pops up in a number associated with me (this has been ruined slightly by the 7/7 bombings).

2305: 23rd May, my anniversary with my boyfriend ❤

1603: The year my hero, Elizabeth I died. For some reason it has always stuck in my head and it’s pretty much the only date from history I can remember apart from the World Wars (I’m terrible with dates).

Pi: Because pi is pretty darn cool.

6: This is a bit of a weird one. When I was younger I always imagined the numbers to have personalities. I liked the 6 the best because I imagined her as a really pretty girl (something about the shape – made me think of a ponytail). 9 was 6’s big sister and she was pretty well liked, but she hung out with 7 who was definitely not cool. Lots of their personalities were also based on how easy I found the times tables for that particular number. For this reason everyone liked 5, even though she was an odd number, who were generally considered the strange ones. 8 was the coolest number. But he knew it, unfortunately. 4 was his little brother, and desperately wished he was as cool as 8, but never was quite. 3 was considered almost as weird as 7, and 6 tried to deny that she was related to 3. I don’t know why, but I never really assigned personalities to 0,1,2 and 10. Clearly I didn’t deem them interesting enough. Sorry guys, I’m really tired and that was a bit of a ramble. Clearly I just enjoyed attaching personalities to things that didn’t have them when I was a kid. If I was ever bored at the table I would make a nativity scene with the cutlery. Seriously, Joseph was a fork, Mary was a spoon, and the baby Jesus was a little teaspoon. The knife, salt and pepper, ketchup, brown sauce and whatever else were assorted wise men, shepherds and angels.

Well, I’m going to go to bed now. I wonder if I’ll regret writing this in the morning?