ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-10-12 11:56 am

notes on life.

 I have started to think, this is part of my space. I think, I'm going to pretend to know what I'm talking about because why would my point of view be invalid on matters related to my own life? (I'm not going to jump into others lives and make blanket statements about what they're doing wrong.) I think less "oh god I am so wrong aren't I why am I even speaking up" and instead going, "I am going to present this without the addition of 'I think', 'I feel', etc". I speak up when things aren't working for me, or they're wrong. I'm not always doing okay but I don't think I can do anything until I feel like I have control of my life. That's it.

And likewise, when I critique something it doesn't mean I love it less, but that perhaps they handled something a little less than perfectly. Or that could have been a nice change. Or something. Issues in exist in things I love! I love Mass Effect, but some matters were handled less than stellar, even in the first game. I love Haruki Murakami, yet there are some ways in how he writes women in his earlier novels that frustrate me. (He's gotten better over the years though.)

I think getting away from the atmosphere on tumblr or carefully filtering it helps with that. I am me. I need to be me. I need to accept myself.

Then I can start to work on other things.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-09-22 12:31 pm

(no subject)

 I spend a lot of time doubting my intelligence. I wish I didn't.

I spend even more time doubting my analytical abilities.

My suitability to study at university. My suitability to study overall, and then my ability to work.

Then my ability to make it as an actual human being in modern society, instead of the urban recluse I have become.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-09-19 11:47 am

or just rattle me by the arm...

 I never thought I'd say, I'm coming to terms with being the monster, but reading The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan is helping with exactly that. It's absurd! I've fought this, that I am the antagonist in other's narrations of their lives for so long, but here I am, coming to terms with it.

I have caused a lot of hurt, and I am not looking for forgiveness from my victims. (How bone-chilling, to call them that.) They won't give me that, and besides, that makes it sound ego-centric. Seeking to help for the purpose of absolving myself the wounds I have slashed into them. I do not believe in returning to someone else's life, wrecked with guilt, or this sense of "we need to finish this"; I have myself rejected that offer from someone who hurt me. It's not something I believe in. Do others?

I'm tired and I have to go soon, but it's the only thought that's in my head. The monster in the narrative. I write monsters, too. I like them, us horrible ones, my kind of people.

It requires a certain strength, a certain desire of life and a mindset, an acceptance of difference, to be able to cope with me I think. Accept that I am not a social person, that I am sometimes very withdrawn even from myself, accept that I sometimes write and write and live writing and breathe writing, accept silence, accept my incessant talking about something I love and you have no idea what it is, accept that I'm terrible but that I am in love.

There's no point to this. Just a thrill. Narrative monster. The creature of nightmares. How exciting! I'm this! I'm the antagonist! And I'm fine with it!
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-09-13 11:09 am

throw little things off a cliff

 I threw something out today. 

When I was 17 and head-over-heels in love with a man ten years older than me, I got out and got drunk and felt so ill I wanted to throw up. I nearly did, almost crying as we sat on the steps of a faculty building of NYU while an angry drunk screamed at us. All the while I kept clicking a broken lock between my fingers, counting. The man I so adored, who sat there by my side doubtlessly wondering why he was spending his evenings with a 17-year-old girl and their common 25-year-old friend, noticed. He asked me where I found it, and I vaguely recalled walking past Silver Towers on Wooster St and snatching it from there.

I brought it back to Sweden with me.

An ex asked "how can I even compete with that love?", seeing my eyes shimmer as I thought of this man I never got to kiss. (I kicked him, punched him, hated him, raged at him, cried over him. I never kissed him.) I said "you can't", because he was a thousand ideas and ideals and dreams wrapped up in one, but not a man I could ever have or hold. I didn't even fantasize about sleeping with him, just being near him, kissing him, having a snatched month of intellectual bliss.

I confessed this to him on 34th Street, blood trickling down the inside of my thigh, sunburn on my chest. He said he knew, said it was impossible, and I was dazed and confused and hated everything and wanted to hate everyone. I cried and told everyone.

The first year was the worst. It got gradually better, then better still, then I realized a few months ago I barely think of him. He's still that stuff dreams are made of, but that which never materializes, that relationship you hinge imaginations on, thinking of what you could have had but thankfully never did. I am a disappointment when I date men, because I end up hating their semen, the smell of their dick, the way they groan when they come.

I threw out the lock today.

It didn't hurt.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-09-07 02:14 pm

(no subject)

 If asked to name my biggest concern and reason for losing sleep, it would have to be that I feel absolutely out of my depth in terms of my education. Which is pathetic considering I'm still only at a high school level, scraping together credits little by little, 400 per semester if I'm lucky and pay attention, but most of all I worry about grades. I worry and fret because it still feels like it is so out of my hands. When I apply myself I get B or C; when I do not, I somehow achieve an A. It's a dangerous formula in terms of my engagement with my studies, particularly in how the more I strive to do well in a subject the worse I perform.

For heaven's sake, my best math test happened the day after I threw up whiskey in my bed and fell asleep in the vomit. I somehow scored a flawless A drawing up statistic charts with a pounding hangover and sucking on painkillers, and then I immediately tripped as I went out and landed in wet mud that covered half my body. The point is, when I am a disaster I somehow manage. It doesn't make sense to me.

Now here I am. I am acutely aware that the funding I receive for my high school studies cut off the minute I surpass the amount of credits I need get my graduation. I also realize that the paper I sent in to the funding services were all about some noble goal of going into engineering or economics, which frankly makes my skin crawl. There is always this gap in presenting myself as having an aim that is Noble, Worthwhile, and I rate it in the same manner everyone else does.

Who needs another English degree graduate anyway? Who needs a Swede with an English degree?

Then I start to argue with myself, because the jobs I see myself actually enjoying can benefit from that – librarian! Translator! Editor! I try to remind myself of this as I think of the choices I have made over the last month.

I think one path to better happiness is to throw my tentative caution to the wind and go all-out with the subjects I actually do love. Maybe I should not take that Chemistry class when I doubt my sincere affection for that subject (tantalizing as it is) and perhaps dive headfirst into Philosophy, Psychology (oh the intimate experiences I have with this subject!), Religion, languages. There's a course in Latin that deals with both the language and culture. I could maybe get a grip and open up the possibility of studying modern languages through taking a course in German, or Japanese (my affinity for Japanese literature, I suppose) – for so long I spend time denying what I want to do and make myself miserable.

I might continue with math but it's... The courses are so quick? They get done in so little time when I wish that maybe, I could have two months more. It's difficult to find flexibility in this rigid system I am attempting to navigate. And then I look around and I get insecure again. I shouldn't have flunked history as hard as I did. I should have gotten a better grade. I start beating myself up again, repeatedly.

It's like a circle of misery I perpetuate by being indecisive and trying to balance the idea of being both a rich and successful person my siblings can be proud of, and being the writer I yearn to be, living in a medium-sized city/town, in an apartment where I have a room of my own to write in. It doesn't have to be big, just fit a desk, a few shelves on the wall, a comfortable chair, a couch. A window I can open, a door I can close. I write the best when I am not watched. I made my ex put on headphones when he played games as I wrote, refusing to talk to him as I pounded out a terrible love story for hours on end.

So that's where my mind is.

Plus, I keep looking back at my time in school – going to terrible and underfunded schools where I set fire to things during recess and spat in boy's mouths because I was so frustrated that classes were only 40 minutes long and my mind is slow – I can say it's brilliant but it works slowly. I need time and I had so little of it. I skipped classes and worked at home, or not at all. I barely passed, I hated everything. 14 and depressed. 14 and angry.

It's just... I look at others who had their parents pull strings to get them into good schools. Who moved areas just to ensure they got into good ones. Why didn't my mother push me? 

A thousand questions. I'll finish this later. Amend it with all my questions.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-08-30 03:06 pm

Andrew Zawacki, “Credo”


You say wind is only wind
& carries nothing nervous
in its teeth.
I do not believe it.

I have seen leaves desist
from moving

although the branches
move, & I

believe a cyclone has secrets
the weather is ignorant of.
I believe
in the violence of not knowing.

I’ve seen a river lose its course
& join itself again,
watched it court
a stream & coax the stream
into its current,

& I have seen
rivers, not unlike
you, that failed to find
their way back.

I believe the rapport
between water & sand, the advent
from mirror to face.

I believe in rain
to cover what mourns,
in hail that revives
& sleet that erodes, believe
whatever falls
is a figure of rain

& now I believe in torrents that take
everything down with them.

The sky calls it quits,
or so I believe,
when air, or earth, or air
has had enough.

I believe in disquiet,
the pressure it plies, believe a cloud
to govern the limits of night.

I say I,
but little is left to say it, much less
mean it—
& yet I do.

Let there be
no mistake:
I do not believe
things are reborn in fire.
They’re consumed by fire

& the fire has a life of its own.

ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-08-22 06:59 pm
Entry tags:

crush(ed by poetic language)


Before coming home and running the water ice cold in the shower, and before standing at the pharmacy unable to read what the boxes said and the lines were so long and my stomach was roiling so hard that there was no point so I pushed my way out;
before the subway journey home where I gasped for air and heaved and sweat dripped down;
before I found the book I wanted at the library;
before the long dinner with Andrea —
before all that, I read Crush and there was nothing else in the world but that.

I read Richard Siken between Hornstull and Rådmansgatan, oblivious to anything else. There is something special about sinking down into his poetry and letting it engulf you.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-08-21 12:03 pm
Entry tags:

i'mma write a dissertation to excuse my shit

It started as I crossed the street from school to the library, caught on that slip between lanes as I waited for the traffic lights to switch. In my head, the class played on repeat: the students trying their hardest to not understand the simplest instructions, the way the teacher went "you don't know that?!" when people asked questions, the numbers growing and growing as I struggled to not create a mess of my solution (and did anyway, and got it wrong). I felt small and stupid as I huddled in the corner by myself, unable to decipher the messy scrawl on the whiteboard or pick out the voices in the constant hum of forty-five voices whispering at once.

I sprinted across the road and dove into the library, climbing the stairs up to disappear among the English literature shelves. Sometimes just looking at the spines of books is enough, to pull them out and read a few lines. To know that anytime I wish, there is a new place to be transported to, a new set of characters to fall in love with or despise or dissect.

On the train home, bag heavy with books from the library, it came welling up again. I could not stop thinking of the noises, of the way the teacher just kept dismissing all my concerns and worries. Of course it's easy for you, I thought, biting my tongue. Of course. You never spent a year going to school, fighting not to throw yourself on the train tracks each morning. You can filter sensations. You are different from me, and yet you don't respect my differences.

Then I swallowed the lump in my throat and blasted the angriest, screechiest music I could find. I held my chin high. I bought sweets to cheer myself up. I decided, chanting quietly: I will, I will, I will. I will make it.
ohtheseas: (Default)
2012-08-20 12:56 pm

novel in a year

I am almost done with Novel in a Year by Louise Doughty and it's a case of good intentions barbed with terribleness. As she gives one good slice of advice (to be a good writer, one must read and read a lot) she also gives this:

“I don’t wish to discourage you from reading the classics – unless it’s Henry James, in which case I would discourage you from even giving him room on the shelves in your toilet.”
Recounting the many funny one-liners she received to a writing exercise leaves us with this indecipherable metaphor:

Amusing as they were, the jokey one-liners I was often sent did make me think of a fat person who deals with their obesity by making jokes about how heavy they are. However much you admire their coping strategy, you can’t help feeling they would be better off if they took their problem seriously and went on a diet.”

And you know, anything but writing a novel isn’t that cool. This isn't so much offensive as just unnecessary.

“That is why, for me, novels are the ultimate written art form, the Himalayas of literature.

Her writing tip is to compose lists of Enemies and Allies to your writing. I like this idea in practice because it's always good to assess what you are actually doing with your versus what you want to be doing (or should), but this...

“But apart from shredding them, what can you do about your Enemies? You probably don’t want to divorce the husband who always makes snide remarks about your writing — not over this issue at least. But you could choose to stop discussing your ambitions with him.

I’ve broken up with people who made snide remarks about my ambitions, so I think it’s a valid reason as any to end a relationship if your partner opts to make snide remarks and be mean about your ambitions rather than support them. These are people who you're intimate with. Do you want them around if they only make rude remarks about your ambitions and dreams and hopes?

There are good bits of advice in it though, but they can be summarized in a few bullet points.
  • Read contemporary writers as all writers are product of their times.
  • Learn to cut and trim. Be ruthless with it.
  • Get to know all your characters, even the minor ones. Write about them, embellish their lives, but recognize what you will actually use in the story and what will not be in there.
  • One exercise I genuinely liked and will have to do a lot since my ultimate weakness is dialogue. "Write six lines of dialogue between two people, giving them three lines each. Have them discuss the refurbishment of the local library. Twist? Convey to the reader through this dialogue that they utterly loathe each other."
  • As you start getting ideas of what it is you want to write, schedule ten weeks where you ruthlessly cut into any tasks or meetings or other events you can decline. Spend your time writing wildly, without care for chronology. Write a whole chapter, write scenes, scattered sentences. Jump around. The most important aspect is that you keep building up a body of work.
  • Spread out the written stuff on a table, the floor or the wall. Organize. If you feel a bit is too thin, make a note of it. Keep going back and forth to add or detract or move things around, but keep in mind that it is still the rough draft version.
  • Learn to rewrite a little even in the draft mode. It's important to get stuff out onto the page, yes, but each day when you start again, look back at what you have written and change a little if it feels necessary.
  • Acknowledge what you do well.
  • Give yourself some time off. Pencil in a week or two where you shut your writing off and don't think about it.
  • Make time for your writing.
Essentially, there's a few bits of genuinely good advice, but it is nothing new or ground-breaking. You have to wade through a lot of the author's own ego to get there, and I don't think it's worth the time and effort for that. There are better books on reading to find out there, and far more writing advice for free online.