it’s seven-thirty on friday and i’ve been alone for a week
stretched my legs into starfish across the bed
as much as the cat would let me he starfished a bit too i’m
not gonna lie and in the mornings it’s been so quiet so
except for birds
it’s been raining so much even the air sounds wet
the birdsong bubbles through it
they’re all making nests making safe spaces making love
birds just know to do that
so in the mornings i starfished in the evenings i
i of course watched far too much tv
but also, and in counter i streaked seven days on the mat
i did all my exercises didn’t miss one
so much else in between not worth mentioning like most of it isn’t
worth mentioning, i mean
loneliness isn’t really that scary when you grab it with both hands.
I’ve never been good at recognising faces and I deleted all the photographs so when you, with gleeful greeting, came in for the hug I thought you must be someone who knows me – I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time – and I was halfway there when I realised who you were.*
I started to recoil but politeness took over and I felt my lip curling as I allowed you to touch me though why the fuck you thought that was appropriate I don’t know.
The last time I saw you, you’d just got done smashing your own face into a wall. You were standing there sneering, the blood trickling down the side of your nose and over your upper lip. A silent threat. An answer, if I dared open my mouth and tell what you’d done.
Oh, I’m sorry. Had you forgotten? Had you forgotten you had me up against a wall, your forearm pressing on my throat and not for the first time? You never got to see the bruises, but I did. I felt the tender flesh over my upper ribs where you struck me, fisted, twice. I prodded it with my fingertips, running the pads in the spaces between bones. It hurt most over the bones.
I never told but I poked at the spot, now and then, for weeks after.
You think it’s just small talk but if you knew me at all you’d know I think small talk is a trap. A way for people with nothing to say to say way too much of it. So you’ll forgive me for sliding sideways through the turnstile and away without speaking. I’ll have none of your sticky news web.
I have a partner and she’s perfect.
I have nothing to say to you.
*If you’d told me five years ago that one day I wouldn’t recognise her on the street, I wouldn’t have been able to believe or imagine it. It’s a strange release. I’m not hurting this evening. There’s been something in me looking over my shoulder and checking around corners for a very long time. I hadn’t even realised it. I came in intending this post to be funny. The actual encounter was, on telling to partner and friend, amusing and gratifying in the extreme. But the Muse takes us where the Muse wishes to go and when the Muse is your heinous ex there’s really no saying where she’ll head on any given day.
having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be, as in: “this was a perfect day”
absolute; complete (used for emphasis), as in: “a perfect triumph”
as in: today
as in: it’s raining so hard I can’t hear myself breathe with the sound of it hammering on my metal shed roof and my dog is in a panic and winding herself in knots around my legs but I can do nothing about the loud noises in the sky and they’re not going to hurt you and in any case rain means things grow and that means there’s much less dust so we breathe and that’s perfect.
as in: I didn’t even burn the rice perfect.
as in: I have drunk so much water I’m surprised I didn’t wash myself away perfect.
as in: I’m only this post and a long, luxurious bath away from finishing everything on my list yes I put my bath on my list self-care is important perfect.
I think I may have mentioned that building a business is hard; working for yourself is hard, and it’s so important to hold onto the victories where you find them. Perfect days take practise, like any other regime, and in the beginning they are few and far between. But as time passes, it becomes easier and easier, and soon enough you’ll find that the boost in energy you got from the last one doesn’t run out before the next one arrives.
I know that doesn’t help much on the rest of the days but if you cling by your fingernails to the memory of it you can usually find your way back.
The conversation in my head then went a little something like this:
Me: Bloody hell! I haven’t posted in 5 days* and I said I was going to post every day. Maybe I should jump back in with the link to these posts just saying I can’t write because I’m busy procrastinating.
Also Me: Yes! That’s a great idea! But you know what would be a better idea? If I posted tomorrow and wrote about procrastinating about writing a post about procrastination.
M: That’s dumb.
AM: That may be, but it’s going to happen anyway. It’ll be funny. I’ll see. Hur hur hur. Come, let’s go bath and watch Netflix and make that all part of the story.
And now we are here.
And how I’ve written that inside-my-head conversation is not nearly as elegant or amusing as when I heard it in my head. Ordinarily, at this time, I would delete it and walk away.
I’ll try again tomorrow.
Only really, who are we kidding? I fucking won’t. So, this time, it stays.
What is it with words, though? They shift and mingle like dream images. I see the most eloquent of sentences dancing in my brain while I clean, and stretch, and water. The moment I attempt to commit them to the page, they scatter. Fragments, only, remain.
I grasp for the fragments, to write them here as examples.
They too, are gone, their tails fluttering bright colours in the corners of my vision as I try to grab just one…
* The usual suspects: depression, self-loathing, pain, fear … how to be funny and engaging under those conditions? How to be authentic when so much of how you feel is undefined? I have no way to explain why I’ve been crying for 5 days; why disappointment hits me so hard that my body aches; why I was crying before the disappointment and after it and the crying had nothing to do with anything tangible. I’ve got no words for any of that. I’ve got no words for anything. Why am I even here?
And not for the reasons you’d think, either. It’s not about long hours or talking to lots of people or writing documents or doing designs. That stuff stimulates and excites. It gets you up in the morning, gets the creative energies zipping around your little neurons and firing up those idea machines.
No. No such luck. Mostly, working from home and starting a business is about spending hours and days alone, fighting the pull of the Netflix and finding any way possible to avoid doing the Big Hairy Thing because oh-em-gee what if people don’t like it!*
So those days are The Most days.
But some days…
Some days, you get contacted by three powerful women from three powerful organisations, who all want to see you succeed and are offering to help you do it.**
<breathe it in>
*If you want some more deep-divey stuff on this, I wrote about it and how I dealt with it here. A lot of what I did then has morphed into something different now, as these things are wont to do, but you may find something of value, if you are seeking ways to help your productivity.
**Shout out to my partner in all things, the beautiful and star-filled Lady Lee, whose bravery and light was instrumental in two out of these three events, and an inspiration for the third.
I stole it off Pinterest but I left their URL there, K!
I took it off a Google search but I defy anyone to identify where it came from 😉
Pexels delivered this one up (Isn’t it incredible?!) You can find the photographer here.
Hello, small spate of new random strangers! Thank you for your time and your attention. You have brought me back here for a third day, and for that I am grateful. I hope to be able to keep you entertained.
Here goes <deep breath>
Wait for it…
Fuckin’ oath, mate! What is WITH this thing?
The thing is, it’s not a lack of ideas. It’s an inability to solidify them, to decide which one is worthy. And the longer I sit here staring at the blank page, the emptier my mind becomes.
Would be nice to be able to do this when I’m meditating. Though of course, if I were to actually do that every day, it’s likely I would.
So many desired habits. Attempted over and over and over and over. And you don’t even want to see how many times I’ve restarted my diary.*
Good grief, writing about not being able to write is boringgggggg!
I don’t know. Maybe I just need some ideas to boost me. Anyone reading want to help out? Shoot me a suggestion in the comments. I’ll try and write about pretty much anything at this point.**
*Or maybe you do. I don’t know. It’s not very interesting. Mostly just me complaining about never being able to keep up the habit of writing in my diary, much like now. Oh look! You’re reading my diary!!
**No, not pornography or anything racist or sexist or any of the other ists. Don’t be daft!!
The world needs a more reliable way of recording ideas. All the best ones happen while moving and how, pray tell, am I to whip out my blue unicorn notebook when I am travelling down the N1 at an already rather shaky 110km per hour? I land again at home and POOF… they’re all gone.
So here I sit, walled in.
But I have to write something! I said yesterday I would write every day no matter if no one was reading and then a random stranger followed me so now I feel an obligation.
Thank you, random stranger. This one’s for you.
In The Writing Shed
Stooped, she sits and waits,
willing her frozen fingers
to find the language.
“When I sit down at my desk, my ideas flow freely.”
This was the mantra repeated in my morning yoga session, and it got me thinking about WHY it is that I find it so difficult to just sit down and write every day. No matter the number of blogs I’ve read while not writing about how everyone struggles with not writing and the only way to write is just write, the truth is that when I sit down to write, I come up against a wall every time.
How to describe it? It starts in my throat. I clear it and swallow but it just twists a bit tighter and reaches the squeeze to my chest.
I try breathing. It’s not as simple as it sounds.
This time, because I’m writing about writing, which is circular and contradictory in its very nature, it settles and I find myself able to continue.
So the wall… I’ve been seeking a name for it because everyone knows that once you name something you have power over it and it’s obviously something to do with fear because all blockers are but really there’s so much to be afraid of in this world the term just doesn’t mean anything on its own any more.
So I need more. What is causing this fear? And honestly, this morning it occurred to me that it all boils down to the fear of being your true self around others. Because, you know, if they can name you…
If you let them know you…
(there comes the wall again – breathe!)
My partner and I have been speaking a lot about authenticity lately. We’re building a business and we know how important it is to be real with the people who follow us when we’re communicating with them. People have been bombarded with lies and manipulations for so long that they just don’t have the energy for it any more. So we’ve spoken about exposing our vulnerabilities and our weaknesses as we grow, practicing complete transparency and making sure we behave in a way that can always be seen as open and trustworthy.
Easy to talk about. Harder, of course, to do.
Because exposing any vulnerabilities leaves us open to attack and there are so many ways to be attacked these days.
It’s terrifying. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that.
But, I’ve read enough articles while not writing to know that the only way to write is to write. And the only way to be authentic is to be so. And no one has ever begun the way they are when we see them.
They begin like this.
They begin awkward. They sit down and just write. They don’t question. They don’t ask what the purpose of the blog is. They don’t wonder what people will think because no one is reading this blog except their mom!!!
So I guess I’ll try that. One word splurge a day. Let’s see what happens.
“Well, this is where I live,” you say, flinging your arm in an all-encompassing gesture around the space just entered. There’s a low light seeping down a passage leading straight ahead. It casts uneven, flickering shadows on bare, white walls and reveals an alcove to the left, just large enough for an L of black suede couches and an enormous television.
You say, “It’s not for watching anything, really,” and settle your bag on one of the couches. Your hair ripples over your shoulders in dark waves. The curls on top of your head make whorls and spirals and invite a finger to twine it ever so gently, tug it backwards, tilt your forehead backwards …
“Wine?” you ask, and it’s a welcome distraction.
“I haven’t drunk red wine in years,” you say, as the ruby liquid rolls into the glass. You hand it over – steady, now – and your eyes and smile tilt a little extra at the corners in their upturn.
You say, “Let’s sit outside.” Your shoulders as you walk sway side-to-side. Your shoulders and your hips sway in opposition and you glide through dim spaces to a cubicle of light and air. White walls rise on two sides, a bamboo fence on a third. Crowns of trees loom over them and cast spiderwebs of shifting shadows over your skin.
“If you sit and look up at them you can see why they’re the Earth’s lungs,” you say, and sit down on a bench made out of a sleeper stacked on three crates. Your eyes glimmer in the wavering moonlight and you pat your hand on the bench beside you.
Your leg is warm. It shifts and moves with your gesticulating hands – they never stop moving – and friction makes it warmer. A tendril of fire moves up your side to your shoulder, your upper arm, where it settles and pulses. Your fingers never stop moving.
“More wine?” you say, and it’s a welcome distraction.
When you walk away, the cold seeps in.
You speak of the Universe as if it’s your friend and your fingertips are cool and smooth. There are rough edges where your cuticles meet the skin. Your thumbnail is opal-shaped and ridged. You trace your thumb in winding spirals, trailing an electric charge everywhere it travels.
“You’ve never heard of Ben Howard?!” you ask. Your eyes widen and you grab your tablet to start scrolling.
You dance like nobody’s watching. You fling your hands in the air. You throw your head back and your dark curls trail out behind you when you spin. You sit again and lean your head back against the window glass in reverie. The music shifts and your body shifts with it and someone is watching.
“It’s midnight,” you say, and race inside. You return with a brown paper envelope. It carries a tribute to the beginning of something.
“Happy Birthday,” you say, and your lips feel like ripe strawberries, though they taste like rich wine.
Writing prompt from here! “Well, this is where I live.”
Earlier today, while being reluctantly swallowed by Instagram, I came across this post by Kamala Harris, one of the inspirational, powerful, uncompromising women running for President of the United States next year. I don’t know enough about these candidates or their specific platforms to have an opinion on which one I think should or will win. I just hope one of them does.
This is how Ms Harris speaks to a young girl who has asked her how to become a better public speaker, cupping her hands as her friends look on in awe.
“Remember, it’s not about you. You know something that they need to know,” she says. The girl is bursting to speak but she manages – barely – to hold her excitement at bay.
I want to talk to girls like this. I want girls to see their own futures in what I’ve done with mine. I want girls to experience their own infinite potential because I’ve wrapped my hands around theirs as they hold their words in physically, clamping their mouths shut, eyes glistening in passion and drive and wonder.
I want to influence girls like this. I want them to walk away from me feeling like they can recreate themselves.
But first, I have to do it myself.
I’ve missed a vital piece of information. I’ve been contemplating – I want to say recently, but really it’s been going on for years – why it is that I can work absolutely batshit hours, exhaust myself into a three-day depression and deliver the impossible for other people, but I can’t do it for me?
Why can’t I just get this business turning over, for me.
Why can’t I just get up early and work, for me?
Why can’t I stick to a routine, for me?
Why can’t I…?
Why don’t I do this for me?
And then I realised: It’s because I’m making it about me. Doing stuff for yourself and caring for yourself and having bubble baths and days off to rest is all well and good and necessary but you don’t build a whole business for yourself. You build it because you have something valuable to share, and people need to know.
Best I get building.
Have you ever started a business? What were your biggest challenges and how did you deal with them? Do you also wish Kamala Harris would squish your face?