Thursday, 5 February 2015

Oh Lux.

 "People think that we're funny, I kinda feel sorry for them because it means that they think it's a joke. We've spent our lives searching out incredibly wonderful things that most folks just don't know about yet."

Lux Interior

a small private decadence

There are things that feel decadent to do when she lives alone.

Such things include: breakfast pancakes, a bunch of tulips on the desk, candlelight, the hob and the oven: both on, using the heated towel rack, using the heating in more than one room at a time, miniature bottles of bitters, owning Tabasco sauce.

Sometimes, she does these things anyway. There are always going to be difficult times and when she treats herself like a rare precious creature—a thing that needs wooed—it is worth it, for the pale orange light it casts upon the rest of the day.

Of course, she also feels decadent for living alone. She feels decadent for working two days a week. Sometimes, she hears her voice complain from another table across the smoky bar and she wants to leap upon and wrestle this idiot to the ground, laughing, her hands entwined in her hair.

It’s not really like that. It’s hyperbole. But still: she might as well enjoy it. She might as well be small, gentle, and kind.

 The days of late have been grey and swaddled, but this Thursday morning is an anomaly: a gaudy clownfish amongst minnows, a startling blue. It feels decadent to eat pancakes in a fleece dressing gown, to sip coffee slowly and think, to curl by the radiator with a stack of books, to slip outside and wander along the frozen canals.

Still. The day is going to turn with or without her penance. The internet will howl and scratch up the table legs, shit on the carpet, no matter what she decides to do. Besides, who knows what inspiration will seep into her brain from this rabid white snow globe?

Her decadent fingers sink into the skin at the top of her arm, and she yanks herself down the stairs.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Hysterical

An excerpt from the story I wrote in January about a laughter epidemic, rape, and the media. And the darkness! Oh Berlin, your winters are stuck in my bones.

They said it was the darkest winter since records began. When I heard that, it made sense. I mean, it had to be something. We can’t always be so brittle, so close to cracking. But on those shifty January days, when the light barely nuzzled out of the holes in the sky, it was hard to stay on track. I felt it. And when everything began to unravel, it was hard to feel surprised.
    I don’t mean to downplay the causes. It was more than the weather: it was the violence too, of course it was, the horror that this could happen here, of all places. It was him. Still, I can’t help but think that it wasn’t for that thick grey that swaddled everything that winter, things might never have got so out of hand.
    When you read reports of it now, they use the word “hysteria”. As in “mass hysteria”; as in “those bitches were crazy”. Women, amirite? But if everyone else’s reactions were crazy, then I guess that means mine was sane. And I want you to know: it wasn’t. I’m not the smart one here. If things were different for me, it was for a whole other reason. And I want to explain, because for all I have to say about the darkness, the weather, I am also afraid. Just because I did not laugh. I want you to know: I was also afraid.

fine fine fine

The most important thing to remember is that you’re doing fine. There are about a million other things to remember, all shooting off in different directions like spider silk from your wrists, but as long as you got the important one, you got this. You? You’re doing fine.

Having said that, we do all wonder if perhaps you aren’t spending just a little bit too much time online. Having said that, that’s a lie: that “wonder”. We’ve decided. We talk about it. You are definitely spending too much time online.

While we’re at it, we’ve also been thinking about the time you’ve taken to compare yourself to other people. You spend a lot of time panning the dust of the internet for shiny golden nuggets, from which you craft their present intentions. Their past indiscretions. They ways in which you are: better/worse/kind-of-sort-of the same.

If it wasn’t for the time you spent on the internet, and specifically the time you spend on the internet comparing yourself to other people, and specifically to those other young women writers of a certain age, style and indiscretion, we can help but wonder if you might not have written a little bit more by now.

You might have a book, is what we’re saying. We might be sat by the radiator with a big blue mug of fennel tea, unfolding the pages, letting the spine crack—there! right along your name.

But we are not. There are so many stories we haven’t read yet, is what we’re saying. There are so many bookshops we haven’t snuck inside and signed all the copies with secret messages, because there are no secret copies, and all the messages read:

“Hurry up” at the bottom of every left-hand page, and

“Take all the time you need” on every right.

Perhaps the reason we are telling you this now is because of that message you sent your agent this week, the one with the 60,000 word manuscript attached. We are stirring up your soup because the only thing more terrifying than never finishing anything is the thought of finishing something and putting it outside.

Sooner or later you are going to have to hack out your heart and send it out into the world inside a box. You would like to be there when they open the box, to whisper in their ears “be kind”, but you will not.

But that’s okay. The most important thing to remember is that you are still going, still making things better. The most important thing is not all the things you did wrong to get here. The most important thing is you. You. You, doing fine.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

scum

Winter is dark and beds are warm, and the girl needs some kind of power to help her transition from her nest to the world. It is not a big transition—she thinks often of much larger ones, of her friends, their bodies playing catch-up with the Me that is stuck inside—but it is a tricky enough one for this day, when it is cold outside.

She puts on clothes. She puts on the necklace that gives her power, the long trashy pendant with the dense red heart, a heart which nestles somewhere around the crux of her ribcage, reading SCUM. Despite the self-deprecation, the insult, the necklace makes her feel as if she is doing fine. Whenever she wears the necklace, she cannot keep from fingering it, from placing the tip of the heart between her teeth.

She tries not to do this when she is teaching or during official appointments, but it is a thing, like fingerless gloves or the feeling of her own collarbones, that fills her ribcage with packed orange embers, transforming her chest into a glowing catacomb. In all probability, the world cannot see the glow, which is swaddled beneath layers of weekend clothes. It’s okay. It’s enough that she knows it’s there.

Perhaps despite is not the correct word. When she thinks about it, the word SCUM is precisely the thing that makes her strong. What are you to this world? Little, or nothing, so what does it matter how you act? Such a relief. And then, at the same time, this is so blatantly false that the lie, in itself, is a kind of pleasure.

Sometimes the girl gives voice to her deepest anxieties by allowing her hand to speak them aloud. She bends her elbow and her hand turns to face her, and it becomes a tiny dinosaur, or the head of a swan, or Stage 2 of the art of fisting. It opens its mouth and lists all the ways in which she has disappointed the world: chronic and acute.

Earnestly, spitefully, the hand-duck-dinosaur-fist says, “They all detest you because you didn’t answer that email in time.” “Because your voice was booming at 5 a.m.” “Because you’re shamefully over-excited by the world—don’t you know they roll their eyes when you’re not around?” The hand’s voice echoes in her empty apartment and the girl raises an eyebrow (the right one). “Really?” she says. It is hard to take the hand seriously.

Sometimes, she even lets the hand talk to certain friends. A knows how to put the hand in its place. “Wow,” he says, letting the word hang in the air like pre-storm thunderclouds. “What’s wrong with you, Handy? When did you get to be so mean?” “But…” “You can’t hang out with us if you’re going to be such a jerk. No one likes it.”

And the hand leaves, taking some of her stupidities with it.

“That guy,” says A. And she knows what he means.

The necklace is like this, in some respects. A talisman that makes her worth more than scum. Or perhaps it is just that she hangs it around her neck and dresses in a black catsuit and she looks like a girl gang leader from a dystopian future. So tough, so cute. The girl sharpens a fluoro-pink scythe, and steps into the world.


Saturday, 17 January 2015

missed

When they talk, he is in a box. He is made of geometry and pixels. He can’t stop checking himself out in the bottom right corner of the screen. She knows this, because every so often his eyes dart that way and a grin twitches at the edges of his face. An affirmation of cute. She knows this, because she’s doing the same thing.

In the city, all the drinks are very cheap, and it seems churlish to go home before all of them are done. An after-work pint rolls and twists its shoulders into 5 a.m., and they are all still giggling, and the cigarette pouch is empty, and she still hasn’t mastered the pinball machine. Her heart rattles against the taut red rubber bands, and three silver balls plummet through her chest.

She misses him, but it would be wrong to suggest that there isn’t a part of her that enjoys this. The distance between them throbs like a muscle left too long and then exercised violently. Or like a bruise, the big kind that takes three days to show up beneath the colours of the skin. The ache is like that feeling, and she pokes at repeatedly, luxuriating in the twinge.

The girl has always been a masochist. But it is not, you understand, that she wants to feel bad. It is, instead, that the ache feels good. It feels good like a bruise feels good, like a hand print can be endlessly enjoyed. And, like the smack, the missing feels good because she knows at any time she could call the whole game off.

They are pretending not to be with each other, but in truth they have been stuck in each other’s pockets for years. They are pretending to be far apart, but she can still smell him in her towel. There are teeth marks on her ribcage. Surely, there are flecks of her skin beneath his gums.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

new year // same old Jane

Take 4. Take 2014.

See previous: 2011. 2012. 2013.

Oh my god, another January. I feel like writing about last year but the truth is I have been in bed for a week and away from the notebooks, and all of my words are giggled or guttural. Still, what just happened?

This year, I became a proper creative writing tutor in Berlin, and a travelling tutor round Europe. This year, I discovered work that makes me grin even through the foulest of hangovers. I made so many friends from my students. They dance at my parties and they bring me cheese.

I started co-running a monthly queer event and a dozen cuties rushed up to tell me that *this* is what this city has been waiting for, and it’s kind of super-fucking-magic, and I get to read dirty stories to everyone.

I formed a riot grrl cello band and the Berlin music promoters told me we sound like a Lydia Lunch performance in New York in the 80s. Undoubtedly, 2015 will be the year of Razor Cunts. You can listen to what that will sound like right here.

Did I mention I made so many new friends? This was the year I made so many new friends. I am so ridiculously lucky.

I was the star of a trashy technicolour short film: Cleopatra. I ate ice cream and wrestled with a pretty lady. We had so much class.

I put on a festival in a ruined fort by the Polish border. It was every bit as good as that sounds.

I started drawing again, for the first time in years.

Oh and I WROTE THINGS. Of course. Things that were published in TANK and Everyday Genius and Word Riot and Litro and wigleaf and Black & BLUE, plus a story from last year was in the wigleaf top 50 (very) short fictions of 2014, along with all sorts of things that were crazy-great. Plus upcoming stuff in Camroc Press Review and Make Out Magazine and Spolia.

And I finished a short story pretty much every month.

And I read at the opening of the best book shop in all of Denmark.

And I finished a couple of poetry chapbook manuscripts.

And right when I wasn’t expecting it, I fell in total dumbfuck love.

This year, I’m going to stop making the resolution to publish a book this year. Instead I will:

Record our EP and finish our music video and go on tour round Europe.
Launch my Berlin DJ career.
Makeout all the time with all the people.
Be someone’s muse.
Read more contemporary short story and poetry collections from small presses.
Keep writing a story a month.
Start occasionally wearing jewellery. Maybe even an earring.

THINKING BIG. <3 to 2015.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Postcard

Also, I wrote Wigleaf a postcard when I was on an airplane. Dearest, you stay on my mind.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Depth Perception

Hey cuties, it's time for your annual public service announcement that Hollywood was wrong! Slamming doors and yelling things on drizzly street corners and slapping your lover in the face and being furious and miserable and dramatic is not a sign that your love is foretold in the stars, even though pressing a hand to your forehead is superfun. This year, you are allowed to be nice to each other and make each other happy and, if you are not making each other happy, you are allowed to leave.

Also this year: read more female authors, take more bubble baths, and always use more lube.

And on that note, here is a flash fiction about love & fireworks & the myth of deep-and-meaningful, DEPTH PERCEPTION, published today in the ever-awesome Wigleaf.


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