Run from Fear //

 

 

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I was reading Jenny Zhang where she references Tracy Emin and then I  remembered my ambivalence about Emin’s work, specifically her neons (even though I’d walk to St. Pancras station just to gaze at her installation), and then I got to thinking about Bruce Nauman’s neons and then I remembered that I had taken this picture from the Nauman collection at Tate Modern. Somewhere down this meandering thought thread I realized what I was really chasing after was a specific feeling.

It came to me in full force on the afternoon I took this picture – I had played truant from assignments and spent a day with art. I emerged only when the gallery closed and remember walking along a sun-soaked Millenium bridge, with my House of Fashion jacket draped over my backpack, happy but also a little heavy.  Happy with a deep gratitude, heavy with the knowledge that days like these were temporary.

I haven’t fully processed, written or posted much about last year because of this heavy-happiness that kept following me the entire year. A lot of things happened last year that I wouldn’t have dared dream of. For some of us, our dreams are tethered to our middling realities.  Often, we don’t yet have the capacity to dream beyond the things that moor us. Rebecca Elson refers to the “existence of limits” in a poem and it’s a line which keeps coming back to me. A lot of last year was framed through this aching transience, that any moment this would be yanked away from me.

It reminded me of the time I caught a butterfly when I was a child. For a few heartbeats this beautiful thing nestled in my hands, was mine. Then when I touched its wings, it disintegrated into dust and I started crying, horrified at what I’d done.

Anyway, read Jenny Zhang’s prose.

 

 

Reasons not to write

Laundry Work Deadlines Emails Personal deadlines I want to bake cinnamon rolls The cat has brought a squirrel in Is the squirrel alive But then I kind of don’t like squirrels they’re just rats with better PR so yeah thanks cat Chores Finances Oh dear December was a heavy spending month I really have to do laundry There are excel sheets to be tackled and emails to be written Argh emails I don’t want to be that person who sends work emails on a Sunday Groceries My head is full of tweet drafts and Instagram captions Welp I write so much for work that I don’t know how to write for myself Work calls I have to buy a gift for two baby showers Why is everyone having babies Two books to finish An overdue library book to renew Why aren’t there puppy parties Need to workout Is workout one word or two It’s so warm today What is my wordpress password Should this be on medium All the cool kids are on medium or instagram Also this feels a bit stupid and passé Should I be writing about Topical Very Serious Things instead I can write about Very Serious Things it feels like I’m worrying about everything these days What if blogging is just so 2009 What if this is trash Who is going to read this anyway ffs.

Words

I realized it was time to retire the notebook when the back cover came apart a month or two ago. It had followed me wherever I went and the wear and tear that age brings was visible on its shabby pages.

I started maintaining it while I was in school. It was something that I had started on a whim and I was surprised to find that, years later I still kept at it.  It began as a way of adding new words into my limited vocabulary but soon grew into something less impersonal. Every time I came across a new word or a word which piqued my interest, it would secure a place in the notebook.

Gradually old words I had forgotten about made its way into the pages. Words for rainy days, words I wouldn’t use now but might need later (filigree, disingenuous, bilious), volatile words, jagged words, hostile words (‘pogrom’ makes me shudder every time), mutated words, sensuous words, over used words, words that have the power to break hearts, tired clichés – they’re all crammed in there somewhere between lines of teenage doggerel and hurriedly scrawled shopping lists.

Two whole pages were devoted to colours (Prussian blue, burnt umber, carmine, cosmic latte, radical red and tangerine. Aren’t these lovely?) Phrases from songs, lines of poetry and interesting word-pairings which occurred to me or which I’d encounter in my reading were also immortalized in my little yellow notebook (Casual aplomb, repositories of dreams, sandalwood days, inheritance of loss. My favourite so far is lecherous octopus. Not very poetic, but apt on occasion) Marriages between words interested me. Sometimes the most unexpected of unions sound so right.

Internalizing new words into your vocabulary isn’t always easy. We usually fumble for familiarity and words need to grow on you, it isn’t something you can force upon yourself. When I was younger I would pepper my conversation with ‘big’ words. Why? Maybe I wanted to exude an air of intelligence, maybe I wanted to impress people. I don’t know. Thankfully I’m more prudent now. Use your words wisely, kids.

 

(I know some of these are fairly obvious ones but every now and then, I’d come across a word in an entirely new light and would pop it into my notebook)

I have a new notebook now. I look forward to filling it.