"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Saudade

The red bricks
After the sun
Have a strange 
Warmth to them

When I was
Just a child
I used to 
Press my bare
Back and breast
To them and
Cry.

And the peppermint
Trees always stay
Cool even in
The February haze

And the soft
Green leaves would
Caress my skin
In the breeze
As I closed
My eyes and
Cried.

The rough touch
Of your hands
Your zipped up
Jacket and your
Almost-man chin

When I was
Just a child
I had soft
Words and lips
All for me.

And the seduction
Of sordid whispers
Cut the chill
Like a bright
Warm winter sun

I had that
Once upon a
Time.

Across the bay
I can see
The green light
In your eyes

You taught me
Love, my love

And that is
All well and
Good. 

Don't think that
I am chained
By bittersweet memories

No.

Once upon a 
Time I had
Your smiles and
Your eyes and
Your trust and
You were my

Very best friend. 

There will be
Other boys and 
Other kisses but 

I will always
Miss your friendship
I miss trusting
You with everything

You never let
My feet touch
The ground until
Now.

Nostalgia for the
Golden days remember
My little black 
Dress I wore
Then and today

Back then it
Was not stained
With tears and blood

If only I
Had been content
With your friendship

If only you
Had been satisfied
With my smiles

If we loved
Again I swear
I'd love you
Right. 

I do not
Regret what has
Been done but

I resent the
Saudade 

It does not
Mean the past 
Was any better

It only means
That the present
For the present
Is not good
Enough.

Click here for a discussion of Saudade

Wordless Wednesday: Stay Beautiful


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Green Light

I can see the green light
I can see it in your eyes
I can see the green light
I can see it in your eyes

Across the harbour
A drop in the rivers of 
Fear and insecurity

You're a hard soul to save
With an ocean in the way 

Why...
I smell like my mother
Coffee and mothballs but
I don't feel like her
I don't have her strength
Fifty years of children and weariness
I don't have that
But 
I still feel
Broken

You used to be so
So warm 
My mirror, my sword, my shield
I crawled into your open arms
And cried

Why...
We keep up this charade
As if people care about us, and not just you
I know you're trying to teach me
To be forgiving
But I don't know if you're merciful
Or
Forgetful

I'm a writer, my dear
I cannot forget anything

Memories are pennies
And I am a woman.
I must earn my keep. 

Trust is stronger than love,
Thicker than blood
But so easily lost (never, I fear, to return?)
And so often
Taken for granted

I have heard it all, seen it all
I try to believe you, but not today

They were like chocolate
Warm, and sweet
Soft, and forgiving
Trusting, and understanding

Cloying and just out of reach

But now I can see
I can see you
I can see it
Inviting and sinister

A remembrance of a time and place
That, I think, only exists in my heart
A reminder of all that is not mine 

I can see the green light
I can see it in your eyes
I can see the green light
I can see it in your eyes 

Inspired by Over the Love by Florence + The Machine
Click here for a discussion of Green Light  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Forgiveness.

Now Playing: Tomorrow by Avril Lavigne (when you say that it's going to be, it always turns out to be a different way)

I have never forgiven anyone before. I pretend to, sometimes, if someone is worth enough and if their offence did not destroy me completely. But it never leaves my head, never ceases to prey on me, and eventually I will forget without forgiving, or it will rear its ugly head again when the inevitable goodbyes come.

I don't understand people, and like all human beings I am suspicious of what I don't understand. I can only work off of what I know, and what I know is that the people who hurt you will hurt you again given half the chance. I have learned to run away instead of risk being hurt again; when you're as frightened and confused by people and how they think and what they do as I am, it's the only way out. I'm always caught in the heat of the moment and I constantly have to rely on people to be the better man, to look out for me, at the very least not stab me in the back. And when they don't, I can't trust them.

But there's a downside to running away. It becomes second instinct, to fly at warning bells, and it's left me very lonely. I have lost so many friends and I have become too paranoid and frightened to make new ones, because nobody has proven me wrong, proven that people can stay and not hurt you. And I do become attached to people, whether you believe me or not; I know people think I am a bit aloof and distant. The only way to cut yourself off isn't just physical isolation but emotional estrangement; you have to let the bad things take over, remind yourself of what they've done and what they'll do if you stay. Remind yourself of how stupid you were to get in so deep, how naive you were to let things happen, and what bad luck you had to ever know that that person ever existed. In this swirl of bitterness and resentment good memories are drowned, lost to your memory forever. It's not pleasant for anyone, really, but the pain goes away eventually. I am easy to forget, and my love is easy to dispose of. Eventually you find someone else, you find it in you to let someone else in, and the pain goes away and the cycle starts again. People lie, and then they leave.

In the beginning running was supposed to be a kind of revenge - I wanted to hurt them with my absence, to make them feel guilty and lonely. It always stung that none of the people I have run away from missed me, none of them tried to call me back. Perhaps they did, but I can't remember. It wasn't enough to sway me, anyway. The hardest part of walking away is that it's so easy. Most of my ambition is just wanting to be the kind of person people would be afraid to lose. I wanted more than anything to make people regret what they have done to me. So far, no such luck.

But somehow I have managed to find people I cannot bear to let go of. You can cut off your love when you realise that someone doesn't love you back, although it's always a blow to realise that they don't particularly give a shit either way. But it's harder when you realise that somebody loves you back, that a friendship is as precious to them as it is to you, when your intentions to drop everything and leave are somewhat inhibited by their desire to try and hold on. The kind of people who, no matter what they have done to me, cannot deserve what I have done to so many others. And I am trying to forgive, trying to move on, but it's so hard. I'm trying, but I don't know how. I have never forgiven before, only run away. It used to be that the latter was the easy option but now neither of them seem particularly endurable.

I used to believe people when they said sorry. It didn't matter, I ran away anyway, but I believed them. It was a revenge of sorts, to take their apology and spit it back in their face. But I suppose when you act like it's insincere all apologies become insincere; I can't let go of the fact that apologies are not guarantees that it will never happen again. I know people don't mean to hurt me, but sometimes carelessness hurts more than malice. If I mattered more you would have taken more care to not hurt me, if hurting me seems to be the default.

And when I say I have never forgiven anyone, that includes me. I have never forgiven myself, and no matter how hard you think I am being on you I have never been harder on anyone than myself. I have not forgiven myself for all my failures, for all my shortcomings, for all the friends I have let slip through my fingers. I have not forgiven myself for not being good enough for people to love, I have not forgiven myself for not being worthy enough for people to not hurt.

I have never had a best friend - it's one of those things I've tried, and I am so jealous of other people who actually have people who give a fuck about them, but...just the word 'friend' has become so shallow, so fragile, I think we are all craving something more. I used to call people I really loved my best friends but I couldn't tell you where half of them are now. I stopped, after a while, because there are only so many best friends you can lose before you go insane. But now I'm even more terrified of people saying it to me, because they're going to take it back and break my heart again. I though I had been to hell and back, relationship wise, but nothing quite compares to that. I have never had a best friend, but all of my friends are best friends. Of other people. Never me.

That's not true, actually. I did have a best friend once, apparently. It took me by surprise and for the longest time I didn't dare say it, as if it was just an illusion that would break if I said it. And it did. The moment I said it it vanished, disappeared into thin air, and the carpet was pulled out from under my feet again. So much for best friendship, huh.

Maybe the reason why I can't forgive that is that I can't forgive myself. I can't forgive myself for being the kind of person people push away with months of lies and excuses. I can't forgive myself for not being a better friend. I can't forgive myself for letting things slip through my fingers. I always had such a high opinion of my love but I suppose I really am a terrible friend.

Trust and forgiveness is a vicious fucking cycle. I never trusted anyone because they let me down and because I can't trust anyone they let me down, and now that I've been let down I really can't trust them. I'm trying, so hard, to build my relationships up to something they...they never really were, to be honest. I know people don't mean anything they say to me. But I'm trying, so hard, to make everyone happy; including myself. But it's confusing when you want someone back but you can't trust anything they say. My lie detector is so fucked I find myself doubting my closest friends and trusting total strangers and I really have no idea what I'm doing. I'm becoming obsessive and paranoid and, to be honest, that was what was happening when I was being 'distant' - I was just trying to hide how much I cared about you so I wouldn't have to endure another attack again. I mean, I did anyway, so I don't know why I bothered, because I lost a friend. I lost a friend, and they won, all the people who tried to drive us apart. They won and I was trying so hard to prove them wrong, that I was good enough for you.

I have always valued sincerity above all things; if I've kept you and loved you it's because you have always been sincere, to me, and I cannot thank you enough for that. But now I'm terrified, not of what you might say, but all the things you'll say and then take back, because if it happens again I don't think I can take it. I want you to say it, I want you to tell the whole world that we are best friends and they can all go fuck themselves, just like you used to, but I don't know how to make myself trust you the next time you say it. I'm not trapped in the past, I'm haunted by it. And call me selfish, but I can't afford to get hurt again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Old Man

I miss you, old man
Even with all the boundaries you pushed
And all the lines you crossed

Even with all the fear inspired 
By doppelgängers and nightmares 
And the revulsion swirling like poison in my belly
At the thought of your hands on me

When you reduced me to the child
I killed and buried a decade ago

I became that child again
Too hungry to care

You did not know me then, old man
But I was 24601
Breaking window panes
For a mouthful of bread 

I am not the angel you supposed me to be, old man
I do not care much at all for the corpses
I extract my cold comfort from

I was hunting for balm for my broken heart
But you only broke it again

And now perhaps that boy you were so jealous of
Will not be the cause of envy for much longer

I have never felt so alone

And in the depths of my despair
I hope you still despair for me

If from your misery I can extract some
Cold cruel joy
That would be the closest anyone has come
To making me happy

I have never lived in a world of
Forgive and forget
Forgive me, I am too bitter for that
I live in a world of revenge and vengeance
And grim satisfaction is my only happiness

Take an eye for an eye
Turn your heart into stone
This is all I have lived for
This is all I have known

I know you did not expect this of me, old man
But it is no less than what I am
And no less than you deserve 

I don't want to be alone anymore, old man
But an eternity of loneliness and longing 
Is infinitely preferable to your company 

My first love of mosaic broken hearts
Has at least given me 
The kind of vanity 
That will protect me 

Even in the slums of loneliness
I am too proud for you
And even in the shackles of insecurity
I am too wild for you 

Even a whore who has gone to the bad
Won't be had by a rat.  

Wordless Wednesday: Loved


Monday, May 13, 2013

Music Monday: Teardrops on My Guitar

she's got everything that I have to live without.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

face value.

Now Playing: Teardrops on My Guitar by Taylor Swift (he says he's so in love, he's finally got it right, I wonder if he knows he's all I think about at night) 

So part of being a liberal arts student is you spend a lot of time being exposed to different ideas and different ways of expressing the self, and lately I've become obsessed with the idea that...that women are misrepresented, in society. We're not as black and white as society tries to make us - we are all of us squares being forced into round holes, but women I think suffer from this most of all.

I've spent a lot of time alone, to the point where I'd almost forgotten how to associate with other sentient beings; to a certain extent that's still largely the case. But now that I have been with people, some of them long enough to confidently say that they know me, I have become increasingly...frustrated with people taking me on face value. That is a massive part of the manic pixie dream girl - people make wild assumptions based on what they see and, usually, they're just totally not accurate.

Part of totally not understanding other people at all is becoming overly good at understanding yourself, and trying futilely to be understood - I have learnt how to say, loud and clear, that I AM UPSET or YOUR EXISTENCE ON THIS EARTH KIND OF MAKES ME EUPHORICALLY HAPPY. And people are taken aback, when they realise just how much of a contradiction I am, how enigmatic I can be. But...isn't that the same for all of us, really? For all the times we try to chain ourselves to stereotypes and tropes we are all such bizarrely complex beings and it is an insult to say you know someone from face value. I may only be seventeen but if you think you can gauge seventeen years of laughter and tears and heartbreak and pain and opinions and loves and hates in a few seconds and a quick dissection of my outfit then you are gravely mistaken, sir.

If you meet me there's no telling what you'll think of me from first impressions. In some settings I'm quite loud and a bit of a flirt, outspoken and confident and sassy, but those are the times that I feel the most nervous or am feeling the full brunt of social anxieties. When I am being myself I need a lot of time and space for talking, but more importantly, more time and space for silence. I can convincingly pass as twelve years old or twenty five and still be 'myself', or versions of that.

I've met people who have tried to treat me like a baby without realising that as the youngest of a very tight knit family unit I am all too used to being overcoddled and don't need anymore babying. I've met people who have come onto me far too aggressively and been indignantly angry when I ran away, without realising that flirtation to me - like to everyone - is not a means to an end but a pastime, an expression of sexuality that you condemn unless you extract pleasure from objectifying my body. People can be amused for hours on end by my antics but are then horrified when they realise the obvious; that my quirks come from a long battle of scars and insecurities. I am so tired of people being so shocked, horrified, disgusted...that I am human.

When I am angry I will lash out. When I am upset I will cry for hours on end and freak the shit out of you. When I am happy I will become this bubbly giggly ball of lunacy who wears way too much pink and walks like springs are attached to the soles of my shoes. I have always struggled with insecurities and awkwardness and social anxieties and a whole plethora of irrational phobias, and lately this has been manifesting in depressive episodes and panic attacks, which are really very scary. But the hardest part - about depression, about binge eating, about mood swings and panic attacks - is the very real and justified fear that people will lock you out in the cold because you're crazy; for all the things that happen to you, for all the real things and real people who have caused so much real pain, the greatest crime in this fiasco seems to be that I am incapable of being a machine, incapable of being a pretty face with no soul.

The sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me is that I am human, and that is okay. The most touching thing in the world is not love, or lust, or sympathy or empathy or even trust. It is understanding. I just wanted so badly for someone to understand me.

I'm part of this project that I am super excited about called The Bare Truth Campaign, which is aimed at destroying social attitudes of beauty and embracing awesomeness in its many forms. As part of the project all the models were told to come up with a 'personality' shot - a photo that is supposed to express the model's personality. Can I just say...I love this idea. I hate how models are just treated like coathangers; some of them aren't even considered pretty. They're just skeletons to drape clothes over. It's disgusting.

But when I first found out about this, I freaked out. How does one condense an entire personality into a photo? I know artists and photographers do this every day but...I'm a writer. I'm used to having linguistics and rhetoric and poetry and prose do the work for me. A picture tells a thousand words, I truly believe that but...it's not my medium, and I'm very uncomfortable with using it to express myself.

So as I was thinking of what I could possibly wear and what I could possibly do and I could possibly architect a single still frame to express myself I realised that...you can't. I don't believe that personality can be expressed like that. So I've been talking to the photographer an the organisers and...I have a really cool idea but you'll have to stay tuned for it. No spoilers!

Now that the weather is cooler I wear pretty much the exact same thing to uni - my favourite blue coat, which is actually a hand me down from my sister, but I love it to pieces. It's got a very unique silhouette - very 50s, fitted to the waist and then flared into a full skirt like a dress. I like it because I get drowned in most coats - some of them have no shape at all, and I hate it, and they're normally far too long because I'm only 5'2". The gold details are very minimalistic but kind of military and the colour is gorgeous - the perfect navy blue.

But my favourite part about the coat is that it's always hiding a little mystery. Every day I'm wearing a new outfit and I like the great reveal of the zip from neck to knee.

I know that something as simple as a coat can alter how people perceive you. In between my spaghetti straps and outrageously short skirts I am not one well known for being an inspiration to the lovely Muslim ladies at uni, but I did see one admiring my coat, because although it is very fitted and flattering it has a very modest neckline and is quite a conservative style and, worn with high boots and stockings, hardly shows any skin at all. I don't know what to think of that, really. I don't mean that in a good or a bad way. It just reinforced the idea that has been swirling around my head for a long time that people judge you on face value, and that's perfectly okay. As long as they don't think they understand everything about you based on the cut of your coat.    




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day



Now I know why all the trees change in the fall, I know you were on my side even when I was wrong and I love you for giving me your eyes, staying back and watching me shine and I didn't know if you knew, so I'm taking this chance to say that I had the best day with you today. 

hennaaaaaa

Now Playing: Skinny Love by Birdy (skinny love, just last the year, pour a little salt, we were never here)

So a lot of people have been asking me why my hair is so different to what it has been since forever and whether I'm still washing it with my kitchen pantry.

Kinda.

Firstly, I broke the first cardinal rule of no-poo; I used shampoo. Well, I used more conditioner than shampoo because I had my shampoo bar for most of the trip, but in Korea it was just easier to use what everyone else was using and I was tired and very cold and sick for a lot of the trip and my hair was kind of the last thing on my mind and also using straight vinegar on your hair gets you told off by your hairdresser and...

Yeah.

Secondly, I broke another cardinal rule of no-poo: I got a perm. Well, I got two perms but the perm I got in Korea was so weak I had to redo it. Ever since I was about eleven I have had, no joke, the exact same hairstyle - Jennifer Aniston layers. The only exception is that I once had a really bad fringe and when I was thirteen I had red streaks, but still the same haircut. The thing I hate about straight hair, especially black straight hair, is that it was very noticable when my hair was thinning in year twelve and it's very flat and it looks greasy reaaally easy. Also...I love curly hair. I curl my hair every chance I get, and my hair got very fried in the process, not to mention I am properly terrified of the curling iron.

I lurve ma perm.

Aside from those two naughty rule breaks I have been very good to my hair. I still love my shampoo bar and it's the best thing ever for your hair. I bought a natural hair conditioner that is carried just by the regular supermarket called Australian Organics and it's...okay. It's not much more expensive than other brands and, yah know, it does the job. But I like silky soft hair. Which means I end up using half a bottle of this silicone-free stuff to get the same effect that silicone conditioners give.

Which is, yah know, bad.

I tried making my own hair conditioner and it sucked the big one - so if you've seen me with very greasy or straw dry hair, it's because of an experiment gone wrong ;). But I wanted to make something to bulk up my conditioner to make it more effective and stretch it out a bit more.

I hope somebody understands me when I say that black hair is really boring. Sure it's striking and catches the light and blah blah, but the thing I've always loved about blonde and brown hair is that it has lowlights, highlights, changes with age...black hair is just black. Black in the shade, black in the sun, black when its wet, black when you're a baby, black until you go grey. Having red streaks was probably not one of my most fashion forward moments but at least it was interesting.

Enter..henna.

I must admit the first time I used henna I wasn't that impressed. It was really messy and time consuming and didn't do all that much, although I did like that it was a pretty amazing hair treatment. A couple of years and a bit of research later I found out that henna can be mixed with pretty much anything, the colour can be altered with coffee and spices and 'activated' by acid, salt and essential oils.

Cue my unsatiated love of making hair potions.

I've made a looooot of hair potions and never really stuck with any, but I seriously love this one. It sounds complicated but it's really easy to make and I almost always have all the ingredients on hand, and it works even if a lot of the things are missing. I used to mix my conditioner into it and use it after shampoo but after I increased how much henna I used it made my hair a bit greasy and using conditioner by itself helps all the little bits slip out of your hair easier. I use a small batch and concentrate it on the lengths and ends for about 5-30 minutes before shampooing (I wash my hair every other day) and then once a week I'll make a double batch and leave it in for at least an hour. In between washes (or if an experiment goes bad and I look like Snape) I use an all natural dry shampoo by Klorane, but a bit of cinnamon or cornstarch works in a pinch.

The henna I use is from Lush and I use Caca Rouge - the red henna with no indigo or coffee in it. It's made into a solid block using cocoa butter so it's super nourishing, but a tad heavy if you don't wash it out with shampoo. I grate it up and one block lasts a little while.

WARNING: don't use this unless you have very dark hair because henna is very potent on fair hair.

Daily Henna Treatment:
- Mix one teaspoon of rolled oats or oat bran with one tablespoon of boiling water until mushy. Add another tablespoon of hot water and then add a teaspoon of each of the following: coffee (grounds or powder), green tea, black tea, salt, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt, grapefruit juice, plain Greek yoghurt, honey, cinnamon, ginger powder
- Add a few drops of essential oils (I like lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree)
- Add oil to suit your hair type (olive, argan or coconut). I use about half a teaspoon.
- Add two teaspoons of grated up Caca Rouge.
- Apply to hair, focusing on ends and lengths. Leave in for 5-30 minutes, then shampoo and condition as normal

If you ask a bloke my hair is still black, but it is actually more of a chocolate brown with pretty red highlights and a deep red glow in the sun. If you have permed hair, towel dry and then use a few drops of argan oil to set your curls (this works. Seriously.) Once a week double the quantities and use as a one hour hair mask.

EDIT: Everyone does henna differently I will probably be lynched for doing it 'wrong' but so far my head hasn't exploded so apparently it's all okay. And yes I know Caca Rouge is kind of cheating but...I don't care.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Smother

trauma and melancholia
so
LOUD

and so I drowned

so many words to write in invisible ink
so many secrets to whisper to you
but my hands tremble so
and my lips are frozen by snow
flakes of fear and suspicion
and when he took my childhood
he took my voice as well

we are joined at the hip
and by the lips
seventeen minutes and we will be forced apart
not by lies or time
carbon
dioxide

but in the blur of strangled thoughts
and twisted desires
your hand will reach for mine
or maybe wrap around
wrist or throat or mouth

you know why you keep me
you cannot breathe without me
neither can live whilst the other survives
I give you each day as you bleed me dry

one word from me and I could
silence you forever
my heart was in my mouth
and you took it

I'll take your breath
and your death will be
the friendly drop to help me after
and thus with a kiss, I consume

I'm a foolish fragile spine
I want all that is not mine
I want him but we're not right

in the darkness I will meet my creators
and they will all agree that I'm a suffocator

Inspired by Smother by Daughter
Click here for a discussion of Smother

Wordless Wednesday: Biphobia


Monday, May 06, 2013

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday Wordle: Eponine


Brother.

Am I such an open book, brother?
Am I so hard to love?

I used to watch the pair of you
Blood brothers
Thick as thieves

And he was as much my ear
As you are now

What have I done to make him think so badly of me?

I will not apologise
And beg forgiveness

I have done nothing wrong
But I

I have lost a brother
And it kills me.

Am I such an open book, brother?
Am I so hard to love?

All my other brothers have
Let me down

Heartbreakers and traitors and
Ashes buried in the ground

It is too much that they begrudge me
One pair of arms around me

One person on this ungodly earth
To hold me as I fall.

Am I such an open book, brother?
Am I so hard to love?

And why you are so angry
At those who hurt me
Is beyond me

When you hurt me beyond belief
Every word you say is a dagger in me
Every breath I take is fire and dust

Where is your strength?
Where is your honour?
Where is your love for me?

Am I such an open book, brother?
Am I so hard to love?

Forgive me, brother
I do not mean to sound ungrateful

Forgive me my insecurities, brother

Without me
Your world will go on turning
A world that's full of happiness that I have never known

Forgive me
If this makes me just a little afraid.

Friday, May 03, 2013

melancholia.

Now Playing: Come Into My Head by Kimbra (you don't speak my language, you don't read my signs)

I spent the last two and a half days in a state of extremely depressing melancholia. The details of this I described here, but I...didn't really elaborate on how it affected me. I've been depressed before but before now it had always been a) largely unprovoked and completely unexplainable or b) caused by problems that had viable solutions. But that feeling that everything that is making you miserable has no end, has no solutions, that nothing you do or anyone else can do will make you feel better...it was really horrible. The past two days were some of the roughest of my life.

Walking around the most beautiful university campus in the country with your shoulders hunched and unable to look anyone in the eye and constantly fighting back tears is...is really hard and it reminded me exactly why, when I was younger, I just didn't do people. I spent a lot of time alone because...because I thought that made me happier, that pondering the world was a better use of my time than pondering the vanities and schemes of people. But I have been in the company of people for too long - between me and who I once was is a heart full of memories of being a friend, a sister, a lover and it makes my current loneliness harder and ever more painful.

And it is with people that people accuse me of being insincere. Perhaps when someone is totally alone, completely ostracised, it is hard to accuse them of the shallow frivolity that so plagues our society. Children...children have no secrets, but I am no child anymore - last year people made very sure of that. But with secrets come distortions and people see relationships as the world's greatest operas - for everyone to mock and exploit. And perhaps in my own shyness, my inability to speak in the trauma of the present that makes me silent, my total ineptness at sufficiently convincing others that I feel as all people feel, people are afraid, and try to cut me down, and to cut down the few precious souls I have who could ever claim to understand me - or if understanding is too great a thing to ask of people, then love. When people have gone to such extaordinary pains to make me alone it seems they cannot bear to see me in the arms of what little love I can inspire out of so few people.

For all of its faults and for all the pain we have caused each other my high school chums are family - and not in the romantic sense; we are a hard, cold, brutal family. We hate and love in equal measure, we have no shortage of venom and scandal, genuine affection and deceitful betrayal virtually indistinguishable from one another. And we don't know everybody as we should; we know some too well and some not at all and that is the reality of family, is it not? So don't hold that against me.

It is not my fault that, for the past year, there has been one friend who is always there when I break down. Sometimes we are the cause of each other's pain; sometimes we are just there for each other as friends ought to be - I think the rest of you have forgotten that that it is what it means to be friends. High school society demands transparency; there are no secrets, everyone knows everything and everyone is at liberty to judge anyone. But I had thought, somewhere between the chaos of graduation gowns and certificates, we had left such pettiness behind, that we were ready to dabble in the world of adult relationships, adult friendships, adult love - and adulthood cannot be nearly so transparent, if only because it is simply too hard and too meaningless to pry into the private lives of everyone. There are many things you do not understand, my dear high school chums, and I am one of them. If you do not care for me at all, that is fine; rest assured I do not care at all for you. But don't persecute those who show me a little love, especially if you own them for a friend. Because, I think, if you do...one of us will end up friendless and that person will not be me.



Video Friday: I really want to bang this guy. Like maybe...bang his head against the wall.

Eponine.

Now Playing: On My Own by Lea Salonga (without me his world will go on turning, a world that's full of happiness that I have never known)

I've always loved Eponine from Les Miserables; unsurprisingly, I see a lot of myself in her, in her circumstances, in her motivations, the emotions that are conveyed throughout the musical (and yes, I am just talking about the musical here). But I also think she's a very...misunderstood character.

In the musical Eponine (or, at least, 'grown-up' Eponine) is in love with Marius, who, surprise surprise, is in love with some ditzy blonde. Eponine despairs, and then decides to join the revolution; her motivation for this in the book is so that she and Marius can die together, but in the musical this is a little more ambiguous). And, because Marius is a twat, he gets shot - or he would have gotten shot, if Eponine hadn't literally taken a bullet for him. She dies in his arms, and gets what she wants; just a few moments of undivided attention, a heartbeat when she is the centre of his world and he genuinely cares for her. And then five seconds after she dies he's back pining for his ditzy blonde.

A lot of the slap that Eponine gets is that Marius is an idiot, and a superficial reading of her character arc suggests that Eponine wastes all of her song time and her life on West End's biggest asshat. And he is, really - a bourgeois pretty boy doing something trendy. But it's not Marius; it's not Marius at all. Eponine grows up in a time and place devoid of eligible lovers, a time and place totally bereft of love or kindness or romance. She's a rough girl on the streets and that is universally looked down upon, even today, and so she has confused happiness and success with the perfect conformity to societal expectations that Cosette manages because she has become wealthy. Love - higher, poetic, romantic, pure love, is represented in Les Miserables as a luxury for the upper classes; it is only when Valjean is wealthy that he receives an object for his affections in Cosette, and Cosette and Marius' relationship is criticised by some critiques of Les Miserables as being utterly sexless, which is a defining feature of 'honest love' in literature and popular culture.In contrast, the love in Eponine's world is vulgar and sexual - not love but crude lust, in which sex and love are reconstructed as something totally other; Fantine descends into poverty and prostitution and claims that her clients are 'making love to one already dead', and the closest Eponine's mother Madame Thenadier can come to words of endearment for her husband is 'master of the house, isn't worth my spit' and describes him as a 'cunning little brain, regular Voltaire/thinks he's quite a lover but there's not much there'. Eponine's dreams of finding love is one and the same as the universal desire to find social status and wealth via some bastardisation of the 'American Dream'; when this is taken from her she thinks not of the man she has lost, but the life she'll never know - 'what a life I might have known/but he never saw me there'. In Les Miserables happiness is wealth; only the wealthy love, and only the wealthy live. Marius is just a representation of Eponine's ambitions; when she realised that she has been overlooked in favour of Cosette she laments 'what a life I might have known/but he never saw me there', and bitterly acknowledges the absurdity of regretting what could not be. Marius is her golden opportunity, the closest she'll ever come to a happy life and her pain isn't that she's lost a rich asshat, but she came as close as she'll ever come to getting what she wants and then that's taken away by some ditzy blonde. That is the catalyst for Eponine's despair, which is so tragic and fatalistic it cannot possibly be inspired by a single human being, even a human being of Eddie Redmayne's gorgeousness.

It's also important to note that when Eponine mopes her way through all of her lines she's not really fixated on Marius - the only time she actually says his name is at the very end, when they finally become 'lovers' of sorts; and even then he is her 'Monsieur Marius', even when he calls her his 'dear Eponine'. Her song is called 'On My Own', not 'Why Doesn't This Asshat Love Me' - her tragedy is loneliness, not rejection. Eponine is a fascinating study on the human condition; we are social creatures, biologically engineered for company and for intimacy, and that is the primary drive of a lot of our actions. The prologue to her song is 'and now I'm all alone again, nowhere to turn, no-one to go to/without a home, without a friend, without a face to say 'hello' to' - and this is something we can all sympathise with, and an element that is missing in a lot of other Eponine-esque characters. It is outrageously unfair to be angry at Marius for not loving Eponine, but more importantly it's outrageously unfair to be angry at Eponine for loving Marius; it's outrageously unfair to be angry at anyone for loving or not loving anyone else. That's not the point, of Eponine's story; it's not enough to be sympathetic that the asshat she loves doesn't love her back. Eponine's tragedy is that she is lonely to the point of despair and slips into self-destructive melancholia by joining the revolution and nobody can pull her out of it - unlike all the other calamities that befall the other characters, Eponine's dilemma has no solution other than death, because all life gives her is 'one more day all on my own/one more day with him not caring'.

Eponine deals with her depression like we all do - pretending certain people don't exist and pretending that other people behave how you would like them to. The daydreaming that is the main theme of On My Own proves my point that Marius isn't really that important to Eponine; it's just what he can give her - he is referred to only as an ambiguous 'He' and not 'Marius'. I don't think it's weak or unfeminist that Eponine recognises that companionship, or even the illusion of companionship, makes the world a better place - when she is 'happy with the company I'm keeping' the pavement 'shines like silver' and the trees are 'full of starlight'; in contrast to when she feels lonely and 'the trees are bare and everywhere the streets are full of strangers'. But despite being lonely Eponine is torn between so many different people - she cannot bring herself to tell Marius she loves him, because she's afraid, as we all are, of his inevitable rejection; which incidentally does wonderful things for her self esteem. But she cannot bring herself to just cut ties with Marius and constantly follows him around, living off his company - and it is important we don't see this as a sexist representation of female dependence on men but simply a human dependence on other humans; there is nothing else and, although Marius is totally blind he understands Eponine in a way no other character does, and cares for her in a way no other character does and for that, I'll give the asshat some credit. Eponine is also conflicted in her attitude towards Cosette - the things that make Marius so deeply attracted to her are actually quite shallow, but of course telling a lover that his motivations for love are laughably superficial isn't a good idea when you are friends/in love with said lover. We've all had to watch on as people fall in love with ideas or facades or bank accounts and no-one and nothing can convince them of the truth, because the truth hurts. We all love to think that we love people for who they are but nobody actually does; we don't love ourselves for what we are and we don't love others for what we are because what we all are, essentially, is lonely; and we love and make things about ourselves worth loving so that people will make us less lonely. All that being said, Cosette is not a bad or malicious character and Eponine realises that; if anything Cosette is almost too good, too faultless, and so on top of hating Cosette simply for being Cosette Eponine has to grapple with the guilt of wishing someone who is perfectly lovely to just evaporate, but at the same time Cosette cannot evaporate; even if Eponine had taken matters into her own hands and ensured that the bullet had lodged into Cosette and not into herself Cosette is a character that exists, eternally, in history and literature and reality - our lives are full of perfect people who make our lives perfectly miserable, and you just wish they would for once in their perfect lives do something that could justify your rage. Cosette is a villain of circumstance, because fate has made her infinitely more desirable than Eponine and through no fault of anyone or anything (except maybe Marius's inability to do anything except think through his dick) Cosette is the direct cause for Eponine's pain, and so Eponine's dislike of her is also nothing to dislike about Eponine; you'd be pretty cheesed off too. Well, at least, I know I am.

We all love to laugh at things that make others look pathetic - we are such social creatures we don't realise how much of ourselves we owe to other people, how much of our will to live and our very existence we owe to the inexplicable and indescribable joy of having friends, of having lovers, even having enemies. What are we, alone, without family, without friends, without love? We are people without hope; that is what Eponine is and we are so afraid of that happening to us, and we have all been Eponine at some point in our lives. Eponine is alone, humiliated, heartbroken and rejected - these are all things we all go through and yet we have almost no sympathy for people who are in the thick of it, because company and love and fulfilment erases all our memories of harder times like amnesia. And Eponine hates herself, for her inability to pull herself out of her own misery - 'and I know it's only in my mind/that I'm talking to myself and not to him' and 'I love him but every day I'm learning/all my life I've only been pretending'. But this idea that we can pull out of anything by ourselves is a fallacy - through delusions of grandeur we attribute far too much of our recovery from despair to ourselves rather than to others. When I talk about getting over depression I often gloss over the fact that I was suicidal until I reconnected with a few friends and that quite literally saved my skin - because that unsavoury detail just reeks of patheticness. We glorify the Prince Charming who fights the dragons and rescues the princess that we forget to give thanks to the fairies who make the hero's quest possible. Eponine is the only character who is truly alone in Les Miserables, and she's a perfect example of how little we can achieve alone, and how the idea of the solitary rise to greatness is a farce; we all need people, and we are all at the mercy of whether or not we get that help, that support, that company, that love. And if you don't...

The most relatable and, I think, heartbreaking part of Eponine is her feelings of worthlessness that progress steadily as the plot progresses. Because Eponine is a representation of loneliness and how much we owe to the company of others her descent into depression mirrors Marius's growing love for Cosette and therefore the inevitability of Eponine being the girl come second - Eponine bitterly remarks that 'without me his world will go on turning/a world that's full of happiness that I have never known', which is in perfect contrast to how much Marius means to her in her world - he makes starlight appear in trees and turns the pavement to silver and when she is lost she needs him to find her. Although Javert is the only character who actually commits suicide in Les Miserables Eponine is actually the suicidal character - Eponine embraces reality and its infinite miseries, in contrast to the revolutionaries who fruitlessly try to change the world, or Marius and Cosette who find happiness in a miserable world of miserable people, or Valjean who throws himself at the feet of God or Javert who lives in an alternate reality of black and white morality and then loses it when his illusions are shattered. But it is in this single line in a single song - 'without me his world will go on turning' Eponine encapsulates the one fear we all have as human beings, a fear that will never go away. A fear of irrelevance; a fear of meaninglessness, a fear that we mean nothing to no-one and that death, which is supposedly what we are most afraid of, will not provoke the expected feelings of grief and fear and despair. Eponine gets her dramatic last words, in which she relentlessly guilt trips Marius the Asshat and finally gets meaning as a character, and as a person in Marius' life; it is only when she is dying he realises how much she loved him and, I think, how much he loved her. We all hope our deaths will have a similar effect, and our greatest fear is that we will die as we have lived - meaninglessly, so meaninglessly that the world will go on turning; and we know it does.

Why do we hate Eponine so much for loving Marius? What is the difference between Eponine's love and Cosette's love? If anything, I admire Eponine and her love for Marius more; hers is a real love, a mjore genuine emotion from a more genuine character - real love is dying for someone, giving to someone who gives you so little in return. Jealousy...we hate it in other people because we hate it in ourselves. It is such a sin, in our society, to want what we can't have - we're not allowed to want something until we have it. Cosette is blameless because love arrives quite literally at her door; Eponine is desperately needy because she is somehow blamed for the fact that love will never show up at her door. Why do we blame women when the things we want don't fall in our laps? And why do we hate them when they go out to get what they want?

You might have gathered that I don't really like Cosette - Cosette in the musical or the Cosettes in my life. Men never like being reminded of what they are not, and what they can't have, and it is no different with women but...but it's more than that. Because relationships are such a status symbol and such an important part of our societal construct of femininity it is perceived by most as a prize - and a prize usually implies some kind of fight, some kind of struggle, some kind of achievement that merits a reward. Girls like me, we've been brought up with this myth that whatever we want, we just have to work hard for it. Love doesn't work like that. I have waited and fought and waited some more but it's always the most undeserving girls who get what I want; the ones who have everything and still take everything from me. And these girls...they don't need my love, they have the love of everyone who has ever broken my heart. They have everything, and so I think they can live without my smiles. Eponine doesn't like Cosette, and it is incredibly harsh and hypocritical to condemn her for that; do those who lose out ever genuinely applaud those who humiliate them? We would never expect such selfless charades from men, so why do we demand them of women?

Eponine can also be read as a representation of problems that cannot be solved - unrequited love cannot be solved by lovers of other people; loneliness cannot be cured by people who are undesirable company. These are two lessons I have had to learn, but the latter is very interesting - Eponine acknowledges that the 'streets are full of strangers', but it is not in them or in her family or in the other revolutionaries that she can cure her loneliness; it is with her friend, Marius, because no matter what there are just some people you will like more than others and no matter what that person will almost always not be yours to have and never able to put your name at the top of their list. Eponine's woes can really only leave her in death; it is only in death that Marius can give her what she so desperately needs - love, and to be a priority. Eponine was a character that could not live; only those totally blessed by fortune (Marius and Cosette) survive Les Miserables; all the other characters cannot be cured by life. It's such a bitter reflection on our society, isn't it? We've damned the less fortunate, the unlucky, those who have problems too complicated for our selfish selves to try and solve - only those perfect, blessed by society, can enjoy society. Marius' world really is full of happiness that we will never know; I have never before seen someone lose so much and spend so little time dwelling on it, because Cosette is the shallow bubbly balm for all his wounds. Whoever knew that Cosette is our manic pixie dream girl?

I think it's rather obvious that my life is one big Eponine moment right now, but it's not for what you might think. People are...people are people, and I am under no delusions - nobody I know is perfect. But Eponine and I...we know what we need, not as women, but as human beings, and we're not getting that. So next time you mock someone for being desperate, think about what you're mocking. You're laughing on an island and we're drowning out at sea and not one of you, not a single one of you, bothers to come and save us, and if we ever make it to shore we'll be shot for sure. We hate the women who are more fortunate than we will ever be, and you cannot blame us - it's not a female thing, it's a human thing. Want and need and love and hate is all so forgivable in a man and so sinful in a woman and perhaps...perhaps I am right in feeling relieved when Eponine dies, dies in a lover's arms, dies happy, never knowing that six seconds later he'll be banging on about Cosette again and her death doesn't mean anything to anyone. Maybe that's all I ever wanted - not someone, or a life with someone. Just death to provide me with one last good show before the curtain falls.

But even in death, Eponine is restless - as a ghost she reappears to sing what she spent her life singing: 'take my hand and lead me to salvation/take my love, for love is everlasting'. And maybe that's what I'm most afraid of - not of death, or of a meaningless death. But that death, like everything else in life, won't give me the answers I am so desperately searching for ever since I forgot all the questions I called home.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Best Friends


I was going to publish this but...I don't know. So I will publish it, just to show you that this is what I had scheduled for today a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but I suppose little old me back in the day couldn't see things the way they are, much less what the future would hold.

not freaking working.

Now Playing: Warrior by Kimbra (my hands are tied but my eyes are open, this modern denial has me broken)

I have to admit...this whole 'begin again' shit is not quite going to plan.

I love uni life. I love shoving my bag into a you-must-return-this-key-in-six-hours-or-you-will-die-and-the-earth-will-explode locker and going for long walks around campus. I love my morning coffee run and I still get a kick out of leaving campus or meeting up and just chilling with friends or catching a bus during school hours just for the lols. I love having Fridays off. For the most part I really enjoy what I'm studying and I'm doing pretty well.

But I'm starting to think it was something of a mistake to be completely AWOL for literally the entire summer between high school and uni - it's the longest school break ever if you don't take a gap year, and I was out of the country for all but about three days of it. I don't regret going to Korea or studying at Yonsei University at all - I have so many wonderful memories and had so many wonderful experiences and met so many wonderful people. But it's really...it's really hard to fit people into your life at uni, and I'm just finding that a little tough.

I've always been a big believer in the idea that you can't 'find' time, if you want time to do something you have to make that time. And so I've been making time for people but a lot of that time I come up empty because, surprise surprise, everyone has a million other people to consider before they think of me. I know I shouldn't be complaining, because I know we're all trying our best. But...I don't know.

It's really hard to explain to people why I dislike being single at uni without sounding like a...oh, forget it, I know I already have a bit of a reputation. But it's not about I MUST HAVE A BOYFRIEND TO COMPLETE ME MY LIFE IS NOT COMPLETE WITHOUT A MAN ALL OF MY ACHIEVEMENTS ARE NOTHING WITHOUT A WEDDING RING AND LOTS OF COMPLICATED FORMS TO CHANGE MY NAME. It's not like that, at all. First of all, I'm kind of out as bi (which is something you can do at uni where people generally don't waste time conspiring to beat you up in the lockerooms after gym like they do in high school) so I really couldn't give a shit about gender anymore and...I'm still boy crazy, but I'm more or less people crazy now; I like people, and I still need my space, but for the first time in a little while loneliness is genuinely getting to me. I don't even really care about labels - it's all just semantics. I could be genuinely happy with just a best mate, just become one of the boys again like I did when I was little. But most of my friends at uni are randomly coupled up now and they all have their priorities. If they want to hang out on campus or grab a coffee or go to the theatre they always have that one person they turn to first, and then they think about everyone else and...I can't help but feel a little left out. I just want one person to think of me as their priority; one person who thinks of me first whenever they need a partner in crime. I just feel like I'm borrowing people from their partners for a few hours every now and again, and all this wandering around by myself and trying to remind my friends that I exist and once upon a time we had fun together is just...reinforcing a lot of insecurities that I've dragged around for a lot of my life. It's just really hard when every day reminds you that you're the girl come second, the eternally single one, the one who meets guys who turn out to be total psychopaths.

It's really hard to connect with people at uni. And I'm not even talking about new people - I'm talking about the people you've known for years. School is really cut and dry - twice a day every day you're thrown out of class and forced to socialise and, whether you like it or not, you see people. Every day. And you talk to them. Every day. And every day you talk and fight and fall in love and become best friends forever and whenever you start feeling lonely or insecure all you have to do is wait until the next day and hope there's someone to smile at you and there usually was at least one person, even at the worst times when it really felt like there was no-one. And because it was high school and nobody actually took that shit seriously every night there would be the witching hour, where all the social networks would suddenly come alive and...you get used to playing email tag whilst chatting to five people on facebook whilst texting three other people whilst writing an essay. That was the best part of high school, to be honest - I still had lots of time to myself, but not so much time that you find yourself falling head first into a pit of self pity and all that other pathetic stuff every time you find yourself in a place where you don't recognise anybody (i.e. campus libraries). Meeting up with people takes time and effort and planning and blah blah blah blah blah - which I don't necessarily mind, if my still-in-high-school brain didn't always grumble at what feels like a collosal amount of effort to do something that was arranged every day by the recess bell last year - not to mention it's really bizarre for me to only see people who I used to spend all day every day with maybe once a fortnight, once a week if I'm lucky. But it's when people are all 'what the fuck am I doing, I have a boyfriend/girlfriend/fifth wife who spends time with me on demand I don't have to waste time with this friends shit'...that sucks.

Meeting people at uni is really, really, really, really hard. I hoped to meet new people and I have, and I hoped to make new friends and I have, but it takes a much longer time to establish anything, so I'm starting to forget about the idea of meeting more than friends at uni. First, it's really awkward bumping into people you know at uni - well, it is if you're me and have the social skills of a shoelace. But it's mostly because you don't see people all the time - at most you'll have one tutorial with them, or they'll go to a club meeting every now and again, or maybe you'll bump into them as a total coincidence, but that's not really enough to go from 'stranger' to 'something'. And because spending time with people and pursuing relationships with people you meet at uni is so hard and so time consuming and so unbelievably fucking awkward nobody actually does that unless they're properly obsessed with you. Which sounds all romantic and all but...it's really not.

I had hoped, somewhere in between wearing my own clothes and doing what I like and meeting people who don't give a fuck in a place where it's no longer cool to give a fuck, that I could shed some of my insecurities, but somehow I feel like this year they're getting even worse. I spend a lot of my time feeling hopelessly inadequate, trying to connect with people but failing miserably, never knowing whether my friends are happy with me or not, always afraid people are going to walk out on me. And always, always, always wanting to spend more time with the people I love, and never getting to because they have their priorities, and I...I'm not one of them.