I just finished a diary entry which basically amounts to how badly I wish I were a Coen Brother. I don’t really, of course, because I’d miss being in this girl body, with the mind I grew into, and I’d miss being an only child, being thirty, being , and and and.

Also, if I were to choose someone else to be, I couldn’t really choose. The whole point Continue reading



I want so much more than just this sense of relating to life in a once-removed sort of way. I want the plunge, in full; I want to climb a tree, then live in it. I want the scratches of every surface I climb lingering in the skin of my palms. Every breath breathed fully. I think it’s so much easier for people to exist on film, because on film all you see is their bodies doing, their bodies existing, the body from the outside: you don’t see the mind racing, being elsewhere, being absent.


The cat dances on the largest leaf of a potted plant. It is a small cat, tiny, hardly bigger than a bumble bee. The cat seems to levitate above the dusty surface of the leaf. The leaf is dusty because the house has not been cleaned in a while, and skin cells keep sloughing off its inhabitants. The inhabitants are watching TV with the sound off in a brightly lit living room. The sound is off so the inhabitants can have a conversations, but they’re all just silent, looking at the people flickering on screen. A man shoots another man through the back of the head. In the room, one of the inhabitants flinches and remembers where he is. He looks around, meets no-one’s eye, and extends a hand towards the table where a glass bowl is filled with nuts. His hand puckers into a kind of beak, like delicate water fowl, and collects a few nuts. The man sinks back into his chair and places the nuts in the palm of his other hand, above his lap in case he spills any. It is a mix: some walnuts, some hazelnuts, which he discards, and some cashews. The hazelnuts return to the bowl in pairs, and the rest are slowly placed into his mouth and chewed into a paste to which more nuts are later added. His teeth are grinding cement. Eventually, he swallows the paste and on screen a man surprises his wife, perhaps, in the shower. Their relationship isn’t clear because the subtitles aren’t reliable and never addressed their marital status. The inhabitants all assume that it doesn’t matter what the naked woman’s official title is, because all we know about her from the way the scene is shot is that she is young, pretty, and that she is played by an actress with an unfortunate contract. The houseplant glimmers in the TV light. The cat is so small the inhabitants cannot see it slide off the dusty leaf of the houseplant and into a watering can at the foot of the pot. Yes: the cat has fallen into the watering can and is seen no more. Presumably, it can swim; but only for so long. It cannot fly, yet there is only one way out of the watering can, and that is through flight. A few hours later, the cat is presumably dead but no-one checks on it because the inhabitants don’t know it’s there. One by one they stretch and yawn and leave the room until the last one, the man who ate the nuts, gets up, stretches for the benefit of no-one in particular, and turns off the last light in the room, the TV.

[In other news, NaNoWriMo nears its end. Today is the second-to-last day, and I’ve amassed about 43000 words so far, which means I’ve got some serious work ahead of me if I want to reach the required 50ooo by Wednesday night.]


The moment you see a man in a suit and he does things a man in a suit wouldn’t do, you reconnect with the idea of humanity, which in itself is simply the joy of being surprised, of not being confirmed in one’s hardened beliefs.

It is sad that this is what it takes, but also delightful that it happens so often when you look for it.


Seventeen – A Year of the Artist’s Tears

A Word-Doodle for Eight.


You are a writer and you feel sad: you’re not an artist. You’re useless at wielding paints or plasters or colours. In general, you are prone to tears; in German, they say you’ve build your home close to water, which makes sense, which atones in some way for the guilt you feel for crying so often, and so abundantly. It must simply be where your bodily home was built – a matter of infrastructure reacting to environment.

Past boyfriends –the ones who were aspiring artists and academics– have told you that crying is useless: a waste of minerals, and the quickest way to drive someone out of your home, our of your life.

In a single month, you use up around three boxes of tissues, family-sized. Your eyes have a permanent pink rim. Although blue, your irises begin to look green in the mirror. It’s basic colour theory.

The things that make you cry are manifold, but mostly you cry about the sound of yourself, about things that seem poignant leaving your mouth, your own voice revealing things about what feels like your true self. Anything that sounds like a key to your fundamental self, no matter how straightforward, has the power to make you weep.
Or anything about children reconnecting with their parents.

So you are a writer, and you wish you were an artist because the things you are not always seem easier, more rewarding. Being an artist looks to you like a way to express yourself more fully, more directly, without having to trip over language, this loaded thing. But the thing is: you have stuck with language and learned to express yourself in this medium, not another. And it might not matter, because there is another problem: you don’t feel worthy, worthy of ease and reward, worthy of attention or respect. Long story short, what do you do? You cry.

I’m not an artist, you sob into your tissue. I can’t come up with anything that feels or looks like art.

You forget to think that this might be something many others sob about. It might be the main propellant behind many other ounces of snot and fluid. You didn’t go to art school, so you focus on this as a regret. Not going to art school, as we all know, bars you for life from producing anything not the art world won’t laugh out of the room at first sight.

Even writing now feels like a foreign language, which, you suppose, it is.

When you cry, it’s all about what you’re supposed to do, what is right and what is wrong. Because those concepts are confusing and never lead to happiness, you cry.

You get your box of tissues and you fill each sheet with snot and wipe your stupid tears and you sit there feeling sorry for yourself until it feels like something has been lifted, like an idiotic valve has opened to release the pressure, and you crumple up the three-four-five tissues you’ve used, some wet with snot to the outer edges, some dryer as the phlegm ceases to come out, and you line them all up in front of you, little white nests sheltering your body fluids, the ones we link to sadness.

You’re done crying but you don’t throw the tissues away.

You put them aside, in a drawer; the next day you feel bad about yourself again –something, something, always something– and you cry and empty the contents of your empty knee-jerk sadness into a tissue again, and this becomes a kind of ritual.

You begin to milk the fluids of sadness from your body every day, as a kind of hygiene. Something healthy, you tell yourself, like Medievals covering themselves in leeches once in a while to clear the blood. Except this is like Medievals collecting the leeches in small jars afterwards, leeches filled with their ‘bad blood’, so as to hold on to what was removed from them; it is like someone collecting their nail clippings to remind themselves of this process of mindless growth that will continue until a few days after their death.

You collect your snot-filled paper tissues, wondering sometimes if this is just a less upsetting version of collecting your discarded bodily tissues –like skin flakes, hair, nails– and at the end of the year you line them all up on a large wooden plank in a warehouse somewhere. You don’t remember the specifics of how you got access to this warehouse, or behind which dumpster you found the plank, or why the walls are white and wide enough to encompass large crowds; you simply line up your tissues on the large wooden plank –roughly 10m long, 2m wide– and an assistant hangs a little plaque on the wall with your name and a title:

A Year of the Artist’s Tears.