Whenever I receive a newsletter apologising for not being as frequent as usual I always whisper groan at my screen, ‘you don’t have to say sorry’. In that instance, I’m a fictional and essentially kind relative whose kitchen table is covered by a floral knock-off Orla Kiely oilcloth, whose house you end up in to cry and sleep. Crochet blankets are strewn across old but reliable furniture. In real life, I’m not like that. If you’re after a short story about a woman who makes a journey to what she hopes is a safe space, Rebecca Miller’s ‘Paula’ in her collection Personal Velocity might do the trick. Anytime I walk a footpath with another person, I think of Paula.
I feel like if I apologise for these newsletters being sparse of late that I would be admitting weakness. Or, that I would be, in fact, weak. A bit of a victim. And then I would have to own my state of ineptness. Stretch it into a story about the world and my place in it. I could vanquish disappointment in the self with a big bout of emotional nudity. Flay the epidermis off with confessions of what’s going on. Tell tales of the mental cities I am travelling through.
For me, right now, I have a lot on my plate. So many tasks and unfulfilled promises to me and others. Intentions galore. Some would say their plate is more crowded. That’s fine. It’s not a competition. Mess is subjective. The more practical among you might say I’m prioritising – if you could call it that – the wrong stuff. Getting caught up in the unhelpful anxieties. Yes, yes, yes.
I’m a few months into a physically, financially and professionally unstable period. There is a sense of fear, helplessness, being beat down taking over. I’ve been called lazy. I’ve been told I’m too old for this fuckacting. Stop being a charity case. That one had me feeling like Miss Victoriana. Of course, this sense of fucked-up-ness might just be life descending. The plate will never be empty. ‘There’s always something’ an older woman told me when I spoke about looking forward to an eventual break. Or it could be life’s way of asking me to rise to the occasion. Some part of the universe knows I have it in me.
I once stayed in a self-catering penthouse apartment in Manchester for work. It was a ridiculous set-up. I went to the nearby shopping centre, picked up a pile of frozen pizza, carried them like a tower of library books back to the building and threw ‘em in the oven. Turned out I had them on grill setting and not oven. It was a very fancy oven and there was a lot of buttons. The pizzas were technically cooked, but soggy. No one gathered around the black marble island was satisfied. What is pizza without the crunch? A warm defrosted sandwich.
I’m on a grill setting right now. An assignment that was hanging over me was completed yesterday evening. Getting a job is a priority. But I have a few to-be-completed drafts on my plate too. One about classical music and female anger, another on bodies and January. They’re on the way, but they need the oven.
P.S. This newsletter puts into words something I want to see talked about more, the weight we shove on other people’s art.
Television-wise, I watched all of Dollface. It is about a woman whose partner of 5 years dumps her and she realises she has no female friends left so must reconnect with them. AND HERSELF. Kat Dennings is the lead who works in a Goop-esque company and the parts where she’s doing her web design speak made me laugh. Hope it gets a second season. I’m also watching that Amazon show The Boys. Grand. Tried an episode of Shrill. The pacing just didn’t vibe with me.
Books. Making my way through Republic of Shame by Caelainn Hogan, non-fiction about the laundries in 20th century Ireland. If you’re able to read this sort of stuff objectively, you’ll fly through it. It feels like the script to a high-end radio documentary. However, I understand if you need to make a decision to not consume these sort of stories. There is one topic-area - not this - that is a cousin to a trigger for me. I made myself read two long reads on the theme that were shared across my social recently. They not only upset me but made me angry because the writers ignored so much of grey area humanity, even if you could see their self-congratulatory palm leaves at portraying both sides.
On a related - well, I think so - note, I’m nearly finished Night in Eden by Candice Proctor. A young woman, Byrony, is transported as a prisoner to 1808 New South Wales and let’s just say it is rough. Absolutely insane we did this to people who committed petty crimes! The widescale abuse of and sexual violence against women is just a matter-of-fact. Byrony is contracted out as a wet nurse to a widower on a farm and falls in love with him. I’m reading all those bits mouth open, brow furrowed. The historical bits are interesting. I can tell you a lot about emancipists now. Falling for an emancipist is a genre. The descriptions of the native population are… dated is the polite word so you can guess as to the more suitable adjective. Also, this Jezebel article on the Romance Writers of America implosion/explosion is worth your time.