23

I can now legally say that I am a 23 year old woman. Woman. Goodness. I used to hate that word when I was younger. It seemed crass and weak to me. I preferred ‘lady’. I love being a ‘woman’ now.

I don’t know what changed. I think as I have grown I have begun to associate the word ‘woman’ with all the strong and incredible women in my life. My eyes have been opened.

I think my mind was 23 way before my body was. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel excited about ageing, as I used to. I just feel like a person who is an adult and has some responsibilities and aspirations. I also feel worried and sad because I miss my parents tremendously, and being an adult means I have to be away from them a lot. I just miss them. Thinking about them makes me want to cry.

Is this normal behaviour for a 23 year old lady?

I don’t want to list 23 things I’ve learned from my 23 years on Earth. Honestly, it feels pretentious. I feel as though I can learn so much more, and change so much more, and that actually I am a little green when it comes to knowledge and life experiences. I also don’t know what to think of life itself.

I have a lot of hope, but I know that if I didn’t have faith, I would be one of those hopeless people. I keep thinking that my time here is limited, that I am worrying about what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I feel like it’s my fortieth birthday. When I pass young people I view them as ‘young’, then I remember I am too, but I feel so removed from them. I just don’t feel it.

I feel it when my legs want to run in the sunshine, and my energy spills out of my mouth in excited babble. I feel it in my bones when I move. But my mind feels weary. The world doesn’t feel real to me, somehow, like it is my road to…somewhere. I do believe it is, and I feel like a stranger. Like I have travelled for years and years and my time is nearly up. The truth is however, I have not travelled. Not really. Sure, I’ve been to Spain and Paris and Morocco and Italy – but in between those travels I have been lazy and unproductive and have done nothing at all. Not a single thing, save for university assignments. And maybe teach a little at school. But in three years …. nothing. What have I learned?

I honestly feel sickened with myself. I should have been experiencing the world but I didn’t.

So why on earth do I feel so old? Feeling old signifies having a tonne of experience and living a full life. My grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say towards the very end of her life, ‘I’m done now. I’ve raised my kids, I’ve lived to see my grandkids grow up, I’ve got nothing else to offer.’ Granted, she said it whilst in constant pain and hurt, but she had lived a complete, whole life. Not a very happy one, but she spent her days always doing things. She touched so many hearts and lives, people still come up to me and tell me how good my grandmother’s soul was. For all her unhappiness, she spread so much good in her world.

I spend my days saying I will do things but never doing them. I feel like I wasted my twenties. I feel old and not in a good way; in the way that I have nothing to show for my years on earth.

But you see, I am hopeful. So every single night before I go to sleep I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day to make amends with my soul. To step out of the house. To exercise and explore and learn and work and be. To make it so I DO have something to show for my time on earth. I try so very hard. And I shall keep trying until my time on earth is up – because the hopeful thing is… my time didn’t finish yet. So while I am still here, I will never stop trying.

Cheers! 🙂

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Endings

Every happy ending is just a new beginning.

Things don’t just end. Even with death, things don’t end. The world started a horrendously long time ago, and its heart does not stop beating for anybody. People have come and gone, and a small percentage of those people have made their global marks. The rest have sparked tremors in their localities, small throbbing circles of red encompassing the hearts and homes they have touched, not quite big enough or important enough or broadcast enough to spread any further.

People get married – the sweet ending to a romantic, if somewhat tumultuous in some cases, courtship. People graduate; an exhilarating ending to what appeared at the time to be years of tedious struggle. People buy houses, the satisfying ending to years of scrimping and hours of anxious waiting and searching and tapping uncomfortable heels on the stained carpets of pristine banks.

These endings are just beginnings, though. The beginning of a marriage; what happens next? Does the husband turn into a dragon? Does the wife file for divorce? How many kids do they have? What do these kids end up doing?

The beginning of true adulthood after graduation; do they get a job? Do they travel anywhere? What exactly did this pathway lead them to? Do they regret not studying harder?

The beginning of a new house. Is it haunted? Is the boiler broken? Do they renovate? What if they don’t end up together, do they cut the house in half and carry the other on a mobile home, the rooms gaping into the wind and slowly growing into the elements?

Life is like a multitude of circles. Venn diagrams connecting people and places and memories and things and dreams. These circles are contained within bigger circles of lives and generations and ancestors and descendants. People merge together then drift apart, lots of smaller circles spiralling away from their union. People die, but their circles are continued by those who knew them until they, too, die. But oops, others knew those dead people and so on and so forth.

There is so such thing as an ending, I think. It is more like, goodness, I have closed this chapter now because I really cannot go on reading this story. I have learned all I care to learn from it. So, they get married. Good for them. Now I shall have some jam on toast and figure out why this equation makes 12 when I could only ever make 8.

And I would complete the equation – happy ending! Only it is the beginning to new equations and new horizons and more mathematical problems.

This is where I choose to end this train of thought.

Perhaps you would like to start a new beginning by sharing yours?

Exit

I am extremely nervous. I start my first day at a new job tomorrow – as a supply teacher! I don’t know which school I will be teaching at, I don’t know where it is or how far it is. All I know is that I have to be ready by 7:30PM sharp, and will have to leave at the drop of a hat.

I don’t know what kind of kids I will be teaching, and that worries me the most. I am really good with the younger ones; its the older ones I am dubious about. You can get some right messes at school; and its dealing with them delicately whilst grasping at shreds of wisdom that is tricky.

I am afraid of KIDS. But I will not show them, of course. I will march in there like a Trunchbull and show them who’s boss. I can be quite mean when I want to be. But I have never been in that situation before, so I really don’t know what to expect. You never know with kids.

I am exiting my comfort zone, that’s what, and the thought of it churns in my stomach like acid and worms.

The M1

Did my fourth motorway drive today. Honestly I was terrified. My hands were glued to the steering wheel, when I tried to move them some point after hitting the 90mph mark, they unstuck with a squelch. Ew.

It is good practise for me but I can never shake the fear I have hurtling down the M1. Sometimes I want to stay in the slow lane, behind chugging old folks creeping along at 60mph but the car I drive has a powerful engine and I can feel it wanting to go faster, complaining whenever I lift my foot off the accelerator. When I move onto the middle lane it leaps forward at the slightest touch, and it surges past other cars so effortlessly. It is wide and menacing; definitely a man’s car. I sound so sexist but it is how I feel.

It is my husband’s car, of course. He works in the automotive industry, and one of his special talents includes being able to tell exactly what kind of car is driving by just by looking at the front and rear lights. His knowledge somehow seeps out of him because now I can tell the difference between cars and their engines as they pass me on the motorway. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge because I honestly couldn’t care less. All I want is to buy a smaller car so I can hurtle down the motorway without developing sweat patches in my armpits!

Today I had an intrusive thought; as I sped down the motorway – I should say up because I was headed up North, I thought how magnificent and powerful the machine I was controlling was. My feet and hands pushing it and urging it along. A small twist of the arm of press of the foot and I would destroy the car and myself, too. It was an abhorrent thought. A part of me wanted to pull over and let my husband stress the way home, but I didn’t because I need to practise else I will never be free. Another part of me hankered after those autonomous cars that are currently in the works. With autonomous cars the pleasure of driving is eliminated, but oh, so will those mountainous piles of stress!

I love driving, I do, but those motorways are terrifying.

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Austen Pinkerton

 

Tired

Fatigue was lying next to her in the morning. Her eyelids fluttered open, prodded gently by soft rays of golden sunshine, and when her eyes were open properly she saw Fatigue lying on the bed, his transparent fingers nestled behind her eyebrows and on the crown of her head. They caused a dull ache and no amount of wiping away would remove it.

Fatigue draped its heavy self over her bones as she struggled out of bed. It curled up in the pit of her stomach and painted all the colour out of her face.

When she moved, her feet were weighted down by gravity, which surged up excitedly to meet its old friend. Fatigue bent down to grasp Gravity’s hand in a solid handshake, and it pulled her down with it. She sighed and eventually gave up, dropping onto a chair as they completed their rendezvous.

‘I’m tired,’ she murmured, when she realised the day refused to wake her senses. She went for a walk in the sunshine and laughed with the neighbour, picking some fresh blossoms and breathing the spring air. The sun made her head pound and Fatigue became angry, prodding her eyelids until they drooped pitifully. She closed her eyes and lay back in her chair, her fingers loose about the pen which she tapped listlessly against her book.

Words swam before her eyes, and Fatigue crossly told her that she couldn’t possibly focus today. It wanted some toast and goaded her until she made some, washing it down with a mug of hot tea. Fatigue smiled wide and draped its arm over her eyes and she succumbed to its wiles.

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I am tired today, and there is no reason to be. The sun is out, the world is waking up, the buds are forming on trees and spring is in full swing.

Millennials are Obsessed with Themselves.

There is something wrong with millennials.

I think a lot of them have their heads stuck up somewhere very unpleasant.

I think a lot of them are very self centred. There is a rampant culture going around, and while it might be positive for a lot of people, it can have its negativities.

I call this the culture of selfies. I am noticing it more and more everyday. Young people holding their phones up and turning their faces this way and that to get the best angle for a photograph of themselves.

Imagine for a moment that we didn’t have mobile phones or cameras – the equivalent to that would be to carry a small mirror in one’s pockets and habitually check one’s reflection during the day, pausing when one thinks one looks their best to ask a passing painter to draw their likeness in that moment. Sheer vanity, is what it is.

A lot of people would say how harmless it all is. Which, to an extent, is true. However this ‘selfie culture’ transcends mere picture taking. It has an ominous depth which is slowly poisoning society and turning children into narcissistic beings.

People are starting to have the attitude of ‘me me me me’. This is usually a normal human phenomenon; when teenagers reach a certain age they do tend to think the world revolves around them. However, in the normal state of affairs, they are soon knocked into reality when nobody panders to their selfish whims and they learn to get a hold of their emotions. What is ominous in this generation, is the fact that teenagers have an audience to project this narcissism. You can be anybody online. They get their support from other like minded people across the globe, and turn into bigger assholes than they already were.

Take my younger sister for example. She lives in a lovely home, and our parents take exceptional interest in her hopes and aspirations. She has real life friends, but for a certain period in her life (ages 16-19) she made lots of internet friends too. Other kids, her age, in Europe and America. I watched as her attitude slowly began to change. She was generally nice to get along with, but could sometimes be difficult and stubborn. When she made internet friends her attitude towards my parents started becoming hostile. She began to bring up problems that did not exist, and she started swearing at them.

Phrases like, ‘You don’t care about me’ and ‘You trap me here in this home’ and ‘You were never good parents and look how I’ve become’ started peppering daily shouting matches. These phrases were echoes of conversations she had with her ‘internet friends’ and related to me previously and some of which I was privy to myself. Other young people banding together to turn a simple complaint about a parent into a dangerous rant about how abusive all parents are and how they absolutely do not understand this generation. Some kids might actually have been abused – but my sister, who had always had the utmost respect for my parents, was treating them like dirt.

It reached a point where she told my father he was abusive before swearing at him and shouting that she wished he wasn’t her father. I tried to speak to her but she hissed scathingly at me, telling me that I was a hypocrite and just on their side. Later on, my father went to her room where she sat sulking. She stood up, and there were tears in her eyes, and she hugged my father and whispered that she was sorry.

I thought my father must have been heartbroken to be called abusive by his youngest daughter. They had always been so close, my sister and my father. She would hang on to him the minute he returned from work, and fall asleep beside him as a child. I knew she regretted what she said the moment it came out of her mouth, but the fact that she said it, and thought she had the right to speak that way to a parent who has only ever worked his back off for us and sacrificed happiness and a full life to make sure we were comfortable – was so unlike her.

This attitude that everything is about ‘me, myself and I’ also gives way to the extreme personalisation of one’s thought process. Countless videos are being uploaded daily where young people analyse themselves extensively, talking about themselves for hours and hours, looking at themselves talk to themselves and reacting to videos of themselves. They analyse every aspect of their being and make it public so the world can see them do that. To a degree, that is narcissistic. This self importance and indulgence in one’s self is normal behaviour, in the privacy of one’s diary or among friends – even turned into an art form or projected onto literary characters. But to be given a platform where one can spend hours everyday talking about themselves can be damaging.

A lot of parents say things like, ‘in my day we met real people’ or ‘we spent our childhood outdoors’ or ‘we could have a real conversation without checking our cell phones’ – perhaps they say this because our culture has become one in which people are so closed into themselves now. There is not much of a community, in lots of areas. People spend time together, scrolling through their phones and talking to people miles away, or liking instagram photos of the person sitting right next to them.

I was with a girl last week, for example, and she kept taking her phone out and arranging her hair and face before posing before her front facing camera. She tried so many positions, during our conversation, and honestly if I didn’t know what she was doing I would have thought she was deranged. When she couldn’t find one that suited her, her mood changed and became dark. She tutted and sighed and commented on how ugly she looked. I felt so sad for her. I told her to just enjoy the day and forget about how she looked, for once! I tried to make her laugh and distract her, we visited a park and went crazy on the swings, and she eventually cheered up again.

Looking down at your phone might feel like looking through a window into the whole world. A world which likes your photos and elevates your self worth based on superficiality. The internet it so vast and filled with a clamour of global noises. But what if it has reached a point where we are so obsessed with our phones that we miss the very real world spinning right before our eyes? We miss very real people passing right in front of our noses? What if we spoke to the person sitting next to us on the train, rather than that girl on twitter who lives sixteen thousand miles away?

The internet has a myriad of positivities, however it does provide a platform for people to air their woes. Sometimes this could be dangerous, especially for young people. A lot of them stop thinking they are responsible for their actions, and envision that they are on a pedestal. When they are contested about this from the people they care about, they demonise those people in their little band of self righteousness on the internet – and are backed by their peers, who are equally as young and ignorant as they are.

I am certainly not saying that the generation in its entirety is like this, but give any woeful teen a platform and see what kind of a mess they make.

The internet had certainly provided a safe haven for those truly in need, to connect with others who have actually been abused or treated badly, to feel less alone in a situation where they might have been ostracised and bullied. And it is also true that vanity and vapidity were prevalent long before the internet spread its electronic tentacles into our homes.

However I still assert that despite all the good the internet has brought this society, it does not come without its negatives, and these might just be damaging to youth.

Love Letters #36

When they arrived there was a downpour. An opening of the heavens, cracking like the earth’s skull, and the rain gushed down like a broken tap. The footman would not hear of her stepping out unaided, he took his own coat off to shield her from the torrents as he guided her out of the carriage and up the steps, which became a waterfall, sloshing around her perfectly gleaming shoes and ruining them.

They entered the building and he bowed, folding his coat to himself before dashing out again. She watched as he clambered aboard the back of the coach, sodden, and said something to the driver before they clattered away down the cobbled street, the sound of the wheels vanishing amid the clamour of thunder and pattering rain.

If it were not for her dress she would have chased him down the street, letting her carefully pinned hair fall and soak up the rain. She clutched her skirts now in her hands, and let her dainty, sodden shoes take her across the perfectly polished floors and through the main doors of the cathedral. One last glance back, but the street was empty, vendors packed away and doorways tightly shuttered against the grim atmosphere. She couldn’t see to the end of the road, a cloudy haze formed of soot and torrential rain formed a wall, blocking her from the world she could not touch, and which could not touch her.

Dear Louie,

It’s better that you know now – the child is yours. There is no way you could claim him, he will have to be the next heir to the throne. 

Yours,

Dorothea

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On the production of books.

Here are some things I am doing recently;

 

  1. I am finishing my last module towards my English Language and Literature degree. It is called ‘Creativity in Language’, and examines the different approaches in the analysis of creativity in language, and also in other modes of storytelling and performance. It raises interesting questions about the originality of creativity, and whether or not creativity is fundamentally political – whether that be intentional or unintentional.
  2. I am also writing a book about a girl who stops growing. I am trying to make it a masterpiece, but it is hard to make a masterpiece when your brain feels like an empty room. I am noticing that I waste a lot of time not gaining knowledge, and I mean to change this by consuming more books and exploring different parts of the world. I have acquired a cover designer for my book, someone who is also willing to do some small illustrations for me. This is spurring me on to finish by my deadline in October.
  3. I have signed up to a website called AgentHunter. This website is one where you can find a suitable agent in order to get your book published. I am aiming to submit my manuscript to several agents by October 15th. I will be writing a review about this website in the next few months – just in case anybody is interesting in hunting for a suitable agent online.

That is all, really.

What have you been up to, recently?

 

Honeymoon

Like a pot of dripping honey. It was her first thought when she threw the window open that silent, still night, and let the gossamer drapes flutter in the sudden breeze that surged through the tall french windows. Single paned squares separated by slim wooden bars, the paint peeling off so gently that small bits drifted off with the movement like gentle snow.

The sky was a deep, dark blue, almost black but not quite. The moon didn’t let it deepen any further. And what a sight it was. A large orb, hanging low in the sky, pregnant with colour and heavy on the horizon.

She could see every detail on its dense surface. It shone, brilliant and gold. Not silver or yellow. A brilliant, subtle gold that curved off its edges and dripped gently into the sky around it.

The light it threw on the world beneath was a gentle echo of the sunlight. She could see the grass, glittering with dew, but she also could not see how green it was. It looked washed out. The lake glittered, the trees were outlined ever so softly. If she was dreaming, she would have said that she was blind but could see. The world was a deception, in the light of the honeymoon.

Her heart was in rapture. Her lungs expanding with the sweet air, the faint scent of honeysuckle floated through her nostrils, and the night-lillies turned their blooming, fluttering dresses up to drink the light of the moon.

It would be over soon. The sun would rise again, and the moon would wane until it was faded and dull behind the brilliance of the sunlight. The world would be alight again, the night-lillies folded within themselves against the harsh rays. She closed her eyes and breathed deep, then opened them to savour the last few hours before this rapture vanished for good.

 

Mortality

When he died, it was not what she expected.

She expected an uproar. A revolution. The great man who ran the empire had slipped quietly away in the night, and nobody noticed.

It was like he didn’t matter, in the end.

The man who was the lord of the people. The man who built the highest buildings and paid the largest fortunes and squired the strongest of men. She sat in her mourning black and watched as the sun rose on another day.

How dare the sun rise, when he had not risen from his bed? His face was so… blue. So still, so cold. Servants walked around him confidently. How dare they. She burned with fury as she watched them coldly sponge his face and cover it. He would never have allowed them to be so brazen in real life.

Real life.

He was dead, now. Death spares nobody. He was like all those paupers they carried off through the rainy courtyard. He was like those he condemned for petty crimes. He had become the very thing he threatened others with.

They lowered his coffin into the ground and when they bumped it a little because it was so heavy, he could not scream at them and order their heads on the city walls. He could not sneer at their set faces.

Not a tear was shed.

She blinked, trying to summon some misery to show the masses. Nothing would come. She had glanced down at his face, surrounded by gold and purple velvet, and she felt nothing.

No, that was not true. She felt a stirring of something deep inside her that made her mouth twitch a little. She banished that feeling quickly enough, however, and set her mouth firmly as she stalked away, her black skirts billowing around her.

When he died, the world carried on as usual. They buried his body beneath the ground like they did countless bodies before him, and like they would do countless bodies after him. His flesh would disintegrate, eaten away by billions of microorganisms. His guts would spill out and his gasses would fill the tiny cavity around him, and soon they too would seep into the ground around him and become nutrition for the earth. He would soon be a pile of bones, nothing more.

And nobody would remember him, a hundred years down the line.

Everybody is equal in the eyes of Death.