Exhaustion breeds despair

I’m stuck. I can’t write any more today. Something has snapped, I can feel it. Or well, I feel an absence of something; as if I’ve slowly been moved to the emotional setting of ‘numb’. Maybe I’ve snapped; maybe I’ve finally gone round the bend. If only I were actually a wolf. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about jumping through hoops for other people. I wouldn’t have to worry about very much except finding, hunting down, and killing food. I wouldn’t have to worry about people saying what they mean, or meaning what they say, or about deadlines.

I need sleep. I feel sick, ill, joyless. I suppose most of these could be my own personal fault; some people do believe others ‘choose’ to be unhappy, even when they have the potential to be happy. But when you feel alone, exhausted, and completely and utterly broken, what exactly is the ‘bright side’ of life? I guess that would be that you wouldn’t be able to ‘fall’ lower.

You could only go uphill.

Looking at my life, I feel inadequate to do anything. Uphill would mean fixing it as opposed to getting a new one. It’s not like a car or laptop that can be returned if it’s not working for you; you just have to deal with your shit, and to be honest, I don’t know how to. I’m swamped with what used to be my favourite hobby (writing reviews), and then there’s the university assignments that I’m meant to be handing in, and even before I’ve looked at them, I know I’m failing. So where do I go from here?

At the moment, I’m going nowhere other than my bed, to sleep, and maybe, if I’m lucky, to not wake up. It’s probably horrible to say that, but I don’t feel I can handle my time or life properly right now.

To die, to sleep, perchance to dream.

Timeless Shakespeare…

I did a bit of creative editing: I removed the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Christian’ from Shylock’s soliloquy, and replaced them with my own. I think this proves Shakespeare knew how to make something to stand the test of Time. My apologies for some of the pronouns I might have forgotten to change!

Text 1: Woman-man
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a woman. Hath
not a woman eyes? Hath not a woman hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a man is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a woman wrong a man,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a man
wrong a woman, what should his sufferance be by
example? Why, revenge. The villainy you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

Text 2: Trans – cis
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what’s his reason? I am trans. Hath
not a trans person eyes? Hath not a trans person hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a cis person is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison
us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a trans person wrong a cis person,
what is their humility? Revenge. If a cis person
wrong a trans person, what should their sufferance be by
cisgender example? Why, revenge. The villainy you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

Je déclare l’état de bonheur permanent [I hereby declare the state of permanent happiness]

It’s ok. It helps us do better. It gives us something to work towards. Something to hope for.

He stared blankly, as though I were speaking gibberish to him. The new building that had been erected near our house was an architectural atrocity; badly designed – both in terms of aesthetic and practicality. I agreed with him there. Yet I saw the building as a symbol of something motivational, something that will help us rise above our poorly condition. He didn’t get that.

You see, he wasn’t always the smartest man, my father. He could handle business, and talk about the ‘economic climate’ all he wanted, but he didn’t really talk feelings. Well, not until I was well on my way out of the household. I was going to university, just like he and my mother had done, but I wasn’t going to come back. I couldn’t come back. I refused to come back to a life that was not my own, that was governed by their rules, and their expectations. Perhaps it was an immature decision; after all, it had been made long ago, because I knew I wanted to travel, before I knew what consequences my absence would have. How was I to know they just wouldn’t talk? Well, that’s a lie; they talk but say nothing.

He wasn’t always ‘my kind of smart’, my father. We didn’t always see eye to eye, although we did get along often. And sometimes, I didn’t have to say anything for him to know what I was thinking. Occasionally, there was no need for words to pass between us for communication. 

Even so, he understood that I had a certain urge to escape, and he knew that, while I was a teenager, it manifested itself in writing. It still does, only then back then, it sculpted itself in a world of absolute fiction. Nowadays, I escape into my writing through writing down my thoughts; I try to work out the puzzle that is my existence.

Art is a form of escapism in itself,  he would say. What he really wanted to ask was what are you escaping from? Is your life so terrible that you must write fiction to escape the fact?  I suppose he never understood my fascination with words.

My mother would tell me to express myself, open up to her, but I never could. I guess it didn’t help that she always said this in a loud yell rather than an inviting, comforting tone. At times, I would cry, because she would make me so angry. And then she’d try to get me to stop crying by making fun of me, by saying what a crybaby I was.

What am I escaping from?

I guess that is part of why I bite my tongue when I am angry, and why I try to hide the tears when I am sad. Oh, don’t get me wrong, people still know I am annoyed, but I think most know by now that I have a different process to others. I don’t throw things across a room (however liberating it can be; trust me, I’ve tried it – broke my phone, and then had to make up shit to explain why and how it broke, because I was aware that giving that much space to my anger could result in worse things happening over time… Also, I just knew my mother’s reaction would be an amused laugh – how could I be so out of control?). I am usually annoyed until I’m not, or until I’m too tired to deal with it.

And to this day, I don’t want to say something in anger and regret it. She’s never understood this. I don’t think I’ve ever been mad enough with my father to know his thoughts on the matter. I think he’d at least acknowledge that anger is unpleasant, and can result in hurt, whether physical or emotional.

He’s a great dad in some ways. We didn’t always see eye to eye, but he’s often been greatly supportive; with him, it’s always been “so long as you can become independent,” not rely on anybody but myself for whatever I need, and “so long as you’re happy.”

Maybe that’s why it feels so weird having to pretend with him. I’ve been pretending for a long time; with my parents. I’ve been pretending that I don’t write about the bad times. I’ve been pretending that I don’t tell other people about my hopes and dreams, when I struggle to talk to them. I’ve been pretending I’m happy with journalism, when actually 80% of my time is spent reviewing art and theatre. I’ve been pretending that I don’t aspire to one day getting paid for writing fiction. I’ve been pretending that I don’t call myself Eric, or use male pronouns.

I don’t write ‘proper’ fiction any more; I have so much fiction in my life I don’t need to escape into it any more.

Seagull: a brief encounter

[I wrote this a few days ago in an attempt at injecting some variety into my writing]

He prances around majestically, a prince in grey and white. Flat-footed, he pauses, yellow eyes surveying his domain.

He opens his yellow and red beak, and lets out a loud squawk of disapproval. He begins to walk, waddling from side to side as most birds do.

Pit-pat-pit-pat, the talons strike the pavement.

I can see him eyeing up my chips as he flutters closer. Sneaky bugger. The seagull is a prince and pauper in one.

“Go away,” I grumble, putting an arm around my portion of food.

Cocking his head to one side, he stares as if to say “make me”.

One hop closer.

“Feeling lucky, punk?” I challenge, guarding my chips zealously.

Seagulls are scavengers, I think to myself, remembering my childhood nature book. Surely, they wouldn’t… 

SQUAWK!

His mouth gapes open as he extends his wings to full length.

SQUAWK!

He tip-taps closer.

SQUAWK!

“You wanna mess with this?” I hold up my fist threateningly, shaking it in his direction, but he leaps closer, unfazed.

Maybe he doesn’t speak English.

SQUAWK!

That was a bizzare thought. He’s almost at my feet, gazing up at me with his angry egg-yolk eyes.

SQUAWK!

“Alright, I’ll give you some! Just… shut up!” I yell, tossing him a handful of greasy, half-burnt chips.

Without hesitation, he bows his head and begins to peck at the food. Majestic in flight, a beggar in appetite.

While he’s distracted, I dart off, hoping he doesn’t have any form of chip-sniffing GPS.

 

Inertia

I wonder what he tells you when you are alone.

I wonder whether you believe him, although the stench of alcohol floats on his breath like driftwood in a sea.

He’s older, and that excites you. You like the idea of someone who knows what he’s doing, someone experienced, someone “mature”. But he’s no more mature than he was at 18, looking for something to stick his dick into for a few minutes and then passing out in a drunken stupor.

I wonder what he tells you when you are together.

What does he whisper in your ear at the table? What does it feel like to have his hand on your thigh? Do you tremble when it slides sloppily from your knee up towards your inner thigh?

I am jealous of him, and yet I pity him. I envy the hand that lurks at your waist as you dance, all too quickly slipping lower. I envy him for being so selfish, and so simple as to think that you don’t have any demands or purpose other than to fuck. You, with that angel’s smile, that devilish gleam in your eye, how am I to believe you love him?

But I deserve it no more than he does. While he drowns himself in alcohol, I am a sober writer. I would not be kinder. While he snores in his sleep, I’d be awake, sitting up to write. I would shrug you off as you told me to come to bed. I would say “I have work to do”, and leave you longing.

I would not be kinder.

Yet how can I accept he makes you happy? Does it amuse you to be his toy? To be loved or cared for only through an alcoholic filter?

I wonder what he would do if I challenged him.

I wonder what he would do if I told him to get tae fuck.

He would probably laugh, stumble to his feet, looming over me like some cartoon monster, dribble running out of the side of his mouth.

Slowly, his mouth would open and close, forming words feebly, like a disgruntled turtle.

“What did you say to me?” he would say.

I would repeat

Taking his beer off the table, he would laugh, bringing it to dry, weathered lips. A sip, a gulp as he swallows, wipes his mouth with a tattered sleeve, and laughs again.

“Ye’re a funny man,” he would declare, pointing one finger at me while the other four held his beer. Another swig of beer. A burp.

Leave her alone.

“You’re a funny lad,” he repeats, patting me on the head and sinking back into the couch, a resplendent king wallowing in his own filth.

Let’s dance, bitch.

“Dance? I dunnae know how to dance,” he’d gurgle. “Except the dance of looooooooove!” Beer arm in the air, the other would pull you closer, uncomfortably closer. Then he’d plant a whopping wet kiss on your cheek, followed by another sip of beer.

“Look, man. You treat her like dirt, so get tae fuck.”

“Oh this is about her, eh? My princess?” He’d look at you, drunk eyes unfocused, then back to me.

We would watch as he slowly put two and two together.

“You haven’t had a lassie since I met ye,” he’d croak. “You’ve been too busy eyeing up my burd!” A laugh, a slap on the table. “You horny bastard!”

Five seconds later…

“Fucker.. I’m going tae kill you.” Rocking back and forth, he’d stand. Maybe you would try to pull his arm to stop him, I don’t know. Probably not. You might think I was being childish. But to me, I’d be reclaiming something… I’d be going after something I really want; something real. My life. 

No more staring out the car window at my life, my face pressed to the cold glass, unable to stop, unable to change direction. No more being a passenger. Perhaps it would be a fool’s errand to try that. Perhaps I’d be beaten up.

“He died protecting my honour.”

At least that would be a good reason. Unless you didn’t care about your honour; I wouldn’t be able to steal your right to act or not act. But I would stand for you. I want to stand for you, when it is necessary of course.

At least, I’d have done something of value. Something that I felt was true, and right, although I’d go about it all wrong.

But I am a writer, condemned to live twice, like some sort of cursed mythical creature.

No more lurking in the shadows, no more fear, no more inertia.

in·er·tia

noun /iˈnərSHə/ 

A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged
– the bureaucratic inertia of government

A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force

Resistance to change in some other physical property
-the thermal inertia of the oceans will delay the full rise in temperature for a few decades

No more.

Money makes the world go around

Investments in Glasgow’s cultural scene promise an expansion of the already existing audience for theatre and orchestra concerts in the city. They seem to overlook the fact that no amount of new buildings or outreach programmes will bring culture to ‘the people’ (well, the people who don’t usually get involved in these things), unless everyone is given an equal shot at it and unless it’s free. As a friend pointed out today, it would be lovely for us to be able to go to a Steve Reich concert at the end of this month, but the ticket prices are less than attractive. 

So what’s the big idea?

I guess much of this financial investment is to support the fact that it is a UNESCO City of music, and was declared the 1990 European capital of culture, 1999 UK City of Architecture and Design, and 2003 European capital of sport. Of course, next year, Glasgow will be hosting the XX  (20th for those unfamiliar with Roman numerals) Commonwealth Games. 

Nobody wants to be ashamed when the eyes of the world turn to Glesga for that one summer. They want to do Scotland (well, mainly Glasgow) proud. 

The bus network has already been changed; they want to make it simpler for non-Weegies to navigate, while inconveniencing most of the local population with the reduction in bus circulation outside the city centre. It seems a peculiar price to pay; compromising public transport in order to make the city more endearing. Nonetheless, it isn’t exactly a move that makes sense. Most of the city centre is accessible on foot, or by train, or by subway. The only forms of transport missing there are planes and boats… 

What’s more, the enormous maps of Glasgow planted here and there (I will take a proper picture so you know what I mean) are actually quite useful. Just last week I saw a bunch of Italian tourists using one at 11pm after the Celtic – Juventus football match. They didn’t seem to have any trouble with it, even in the dark. How stupid are the authorities assuming these people are, anyhow?

Admittedly, getting around in Glasgow is not very difficult. I think the thing most people from abroad struggle with here is the accent. The Glasgow accent is very pronounced and can often cause English to sound like a foreign language, even for a native speaker like yours truly. Part of me is really curious to see what will happen when people from all over the world flock to the city, and attempt to hunt down the different venues, and pronounce the place names. 

Also, as if this was not enough, Glasgow has also pitched in a bid for the Youth Olympic Games of 2018. While these are not quite as stressful or widespread as the Olympic Games, I still think it is a great feat and folly to want to host them. Will the city’s infrastructure be able to take it? Then again, the Commonwealth Games should give the council a rough idea of what to expect. Furthermore, it’ll probably mean a strong influx of tourism, with the city’s newfound status as a culture and sports destination. 

But does everybody want to take it into the limelight? The art scene here is considered ‘alternative’ – well, certainly an alternative to London, as Tramway is hosting the Turner Prize in 2015 (the first time the award has gone outside London). Yet will that be the case for the Glasgow of the future? If the scene loses its alternative edge, and slips into the mainstream, where will current underground and alternative artists flock to? Then again, it might become like the Berlin art scene, that unique mix of ‘touristy’ venues and events, and underground art and culture scene. 

On the other hand, influx of people from different countries is not a bad thing. It means influx of new ideas – or even old ideas with new attitudes. This could lead to very exciting exchanges between local artists and theatremakers, and those from abroad.  This was demonstrated by Erottaa, an exhibition combining work by students of Aalto University of Helsinki and alumni of the Glasgow School of Art. Their nearly opposite approaches to art were expected to lead to heated debate and contrast, but of course, ideas travel, especially in the age of the internet. Consequently, it would be foolish to assume that certain concepts would not overlap.

As the adage goes: “A good artist copies; a great artist steals”, so perhaps Glesga-based artists will learn something new from others. Then again, they might not. It’s hard to predict human behaviour like that, especially when organisations seem to assume it is correct to align it with economic/financial investment, although money is not the only thing that motivates human beings.