1st Jan 2021 – an already cold room
Last night we watched the 2019 version of Little Women and the detail of Jo’s inky fingers made me miss having inky fingers from using this pen. The year has begun, an already cold room. A difficult grey place, given the world we’ve had to live in. Enjoy the quiet of the room, the pleasure-pain bite of cold from the open window, at least for this brief moment. But this is nowhere to live. We should know we shouldn’t get used to this forever.
We begin the year in a terrible place and like being dumped at Christmas, at least as the spring slowly shows itself our mood and situation will improve. I hope at least.
2nd Jan 2021 – drunk on the excess of praise
It’s hard not to think about success, about my need for it and seeing how other people made their way to it.
If any of us are remembered at all it won’t be for large complexities of our lives and choices, it’ll be the quickest version of events, copied and pasted from another place and rejigged by three other people, squeezed into a 3 min video. The world is large and full of people and we all think we can change it through whatever the hell we’re up to. I think about that moment in Friends when Phoebe does a pretend acceptance speech for a Nobel prize she’s won for a massage.
One thing I’m learning is to stick to things I love and to stick to things I enjoy. I’ve barely engaged with the poetry world for a year now. that’s not to say I haven’t been reading it, it’s a different thing. It felt like the world was full of people who wrote and everyone read each other with hopes of being read (not for their own pleasure). It was rare to feel like people even read my poems, and you know, I was part of that problem too. I sometimes wouldn’t read the other poems in magazines I was featured in, which was very ignorant and cocky of me. The world of poetry has changed so much, it’s become another fame avenue. It’s been poisoned by those few successes and now everyone’s doing viral videos, instragram and bank adverts. Everyone’s tweeting controversial yet brave things that get them cancelled and a thousand new followers at the same time. I mean, imagine coming out IN SUPPORT of J.K. Rowling. What are you trying to do, get her attention and win her favour? Or do you believe what she says? I can see a future of steady decline for her importance, Harry Potter will live on for five hundred years probably, but JK will be a secondary half-remembered name and when she is remembered, like Lewis Carol, JK will have a very suspicious atmosphere around her.
JK is one of many who have been drunk on the excess of praise from twitter. Writers are severely at risk, praise for your words is the thing that they want acknowledgement for, even if it is in this reduced and compressed form. The instant positive feedback is intoxicating. The hype is there in your hand matching your own inner thoughts of grandeur. And you have power you can use for a billion things and instead of raising awareness, signposting charities, you decide to air transphobic opinions and medically incorrect ‘information’. It was the same with Graham Linehan, he managed to piss away his legacy online within five years. He hadn’t had a success for a while, and I always suspected he was a bit of a difficult twat. Slowly through twitter’s dome of mirrors reflecting his own opinions back at him he became more and more upfront about his transphobia. Sometimes it’s great not to be able to broadcast your views to the world.
We watched a few pigeons try to handle clambering around the thin branches of a small tree. Their weight making it all more precarious as they tried their best to peck bits from the branches. The noise of the flapping wings and the swaying branches drew our attention. The tree is across the way and below us and we watched the birds struggle and faff, laughing at their missteps as if we weren’t often exactly the same, observed and laughed at from a similar distance.
On our walk after six pm we watched a fox spring up the road, spraying his markings on the trees and lamp posts of the street, casing the front gardens for bins. Utterly unbothered by us, a little orange prince taking in his principality. Later a (human) mother and her five (human?) children walked by in front of us without a care so we had to stop in our tracks and let them pass. My Husb muttered “Jesus Christ” and I laughed. So inconsiderate of her to end up with so many kids straggling along the road, getting in our way. I imagined she never thought she’d had to deal with them all at once like this.
3rd Jan 2021 the dopey sense of universal love
The christmas lights on the houses are being taken down, or even just no longer switched on, to be taken down later by all the bored Dads. Christmas trees have already started to litter the pavements. On my runs I’ve loved the distraction of lights and warm windows utterly blocked by giant statement trees covered in chic lights. I run in a posh neighbourhood. I started running on 1st July 2020. I didn’t even track my first few runs on strava, now it’s a must. knowing the data as I’m going along gives me the push to keep going. I never thought of myself as sporty or even competitive but I like the drive to succeed I get from running. 5k is a big deal, it’s a sort of milestone. To someone who doesn’t run it’s an unthinkable distance but to a runner it’s achievable within a few months. I started in July and I hit 5k in early October. I still don’t run the whole way, mind. This is why I don’t imagine doing any 5k fun runs for charity quite yet. Imagine me puffing away after half a kilometre walking for a little bit to catch my breath as a crowd of people cheer and jeer me on. I wouldn’t appreciate it. Before I started running I used to see runners and want to cheer them on, give them encouragement (I never actually did) now I can’t imagine anything worse, a stranger telling me to keep it up. Leave me alone! My goal is to be ignored by other pavement users, so long as couples shift over a bit instead of not moving or even seeing me at all, forcing me onto the road or to a standstill (if the road is occupied). The only pedestrians who make space for runners are other runners. If you had the stats it would line up 1 to 1. Only other runners know how great it is for the slow obstruction up ahead to kindly give way as you trudge through on the 2nd k of the 5 you’re out for.
I guess I started for a few reasons, variation, a new hobby, weight control. What I didn’t expect was the almost immediate mental health boost. Giving myself a clear 38 minutes three times a week where I’m not skating on a frozen lake of panic and fear. That is a great gift. Somedays I come home under the influence of a strong endorphin rush, suddenly the world makes sense, the pain in my body is beautiful and I feel heavenly. I can see why folks get addicted, why religions get formed to try to package and give that rush out, ascribe it to a higher power and make money for it. Even as my legs ache and the dopey sense of universal love subsides, I love to do it. Even though it’s painful, difficult, and I sound like a weezing wreck on the street. I still love it. I’m hoping by July 1st 2021 I’ll be doing those 5ks without stopping, that’s my goal, and that my cardigans will continue to become roomier, that I’ll keep catching myself in the mirror and thinking, oh I think I look healthier and happier, that’s nice.