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.