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Today is not the first of September. Or the second, third or fourth.
It is very nearly no longer the fifth.
But it is the first day that I have been able to get into the September batch and write, so I'm going to see if the site will let me catch up.
It is, after all, not my fault that I couldn't post. I had my ideas all ready on the first, sharp and eager to set them down.
Gnashing of teeth.
But I thought that it would be fixed by the second, surely.
And, after all, I was allowed by the rules to catch up on one day, though fairness would suggest that the 'missing' day shouldn't count, and that I should still have that safety net in case of computer crashes or flu or plain forgetfulness.
So, while somewhat peeved, I wasn't too concerned. The nice people at the website wouldn't leave us languishing, would they?
Day two, and it seemed they would.
I was hoping for a reassuring message on the home page at least, and I said as much in a message to the people who maintain the site.
Day three, and no further information.
Do I give up in frustration and annoyance?
I do think about writing my 100 words each day and saving them to post if and when the site is functioning again, but it seems a little depressing to do so not knowing if I'll ever get the chance to post them. (Yes, I know - it's a pessimistic attitude, but I get disappointed less that way.)
At this point I realise how much I'd enjoyed the discipline of writing precisely one hundred words every single freaking day, no matter how tired I was feeling.
Day four, and I've just about stopped checking the site.
One quick look before bedtime. Nada. And still no reply to my messages.
Ah, well, it was nice knowing you, little website.
I decide that I will check in again at the beginning of October, since this month's batch is a total washout. This gives a curiously mixed feeling of disappointment and relief.
I am a basically lazy person, and now I have an excuse not to continue with this. No more coming up with ideas and trying to fit them into a precise space.
And yet, and yet...
Clearly, that resolution didn't last.
A friend posted in her blog today that the site was functioning again.
Part of me wanted to ignore it, especially since I'm not sure what is going to happen about the 'missing' days, but the discipline is good for me, and I really am trying to do more creative work.
Admittedly, these catch up posts have been more whine than wordsmithing, but let's see if I can't use the rest of the month to better effect.
And now I'm tired out - have I reached a hundred words yet?
No, but I have
Words about weary:
All in, exhausted, washed out, drained -
Drained, like a vampire's victim, shadow eyed,
Drained, like a pond sucked down to sludge.
Bone-tired (and muscles too, and eyelashes -
No part of me that is not spent);
Wiped out, like words in sand at turn of tide.
In a warm room, the voices run like water,
A soothing flow, and I am carried sleepwards
Only to jerk awake, conscious of lost moments.
I crave the curve of sleep, the pillow;
Bed calls me like a lover, yet I delay,
Play hard-to-get with Morpheus.
I need to sleep.
Having a poor memory isn't so bad. Oh, it's not terribly helpful at work, and it's embarrassing when I can't introduce people I've known for ages, because their names escape me.
There is a pleasure, though, in finding things I'd forgotten about, little trinkets bought as future gifts and stashed away in a safe place, or books which looked interesting but which got buried under the stacks.
Money lent and forgotten becomes a windfall when returned, and while I never forget the enjoyment I get from a book, I forget enough of the detail to make it fresh on re-reading.
I have paint under my fingernails.
That's OK: art is messy, or at least it should be, in my opinion.
Our first experience of art is with things that squelch and run and drip, whether paint or clay or the food on our plates which we squish and reshape till its contours satisfy our infant aesthetics.
It is satisfying to slap on colour in bright globs, spattering the surrounding surfaces in our enthusiasm. It feels good to work clay or plasticine into fantastical creatures or abstract shapes, squeezing and pinching, rolling and twisting.
Life is messy and so is art.
What is it about Welsh male voice choirs which affects my emotions so powerfully?
I was listening today to a Radio Four programme about the hymn tune Cwm Rhondda, and when I heard those voices singing out 'Bread of Heaven...' I felt a surge of
, that Welsh word for which 'homesickness' is but a poor translation.
I don't want to go back to the valleys: I was only too glad to leave thirty-odd years ago. Even less do I want to go back to the chapel.
And yet it seems some part of me still calls that place home.
The common cold - that sums it up, really.
Common, vulgar, nothing refined or delicate about it.
Snot and soggy tissues, a head full of cotton wool and a throat rubbed down with coarse sandpaper.
The worst of it is that there is something pathetic and whingeing about a cold. It is not life-threatening, it will be over in a week or so, it doesn't even (quite) make it impossible to carry on with everyday tasks. It is hard not to feel like a hypochondriac while sipping pathetically at hot honey and lemon, huddled in the comfort of a duvet.
Some things I would like to do before I die:
Stand on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Learn to play an instrument well enough not to torture those listening.
Spend a year or two living on my own.
Learn to ride a bicycle, and maybe even a motor cycle - Hell's Grannies, anyone?
Have a poem published.
Meet a lot more of my 'imaginary friends'.
Get a tattoo - nothing big and showy, just a little, pretty one.
Make a difference. Maybe to the world in general, but if itís just to one person, that would be sufficient.
Genesis of an ATC.
A fluorescent orange card, intended for shop displays, coated in a thick layer of acrylic white, smoothed on like icing, leaving a little background showing.
Orange glass paint, dried on my palette and peeled off, became a flower.
Peeled acrylics and fresh acrylic for stem and leaves.
Words - "All that remains is a flower" - written with a sepia calligraphy pen on golden handmade paper.
The whole card brushed over with glass paint frosted medium and sprinkled very lightly with glitter.
A strand of wool soaked in gold acrylic curved around the words and flower.
Yeah, that's me.
It used to be a half-mocking name to call me when I was a child - you know, the sort of 'affectionate' nickname with an edge of exasperation. It still fits, but I've outgrown the mock. Well, mostly.
Dinner will be delayed. I got distracted trying to figure out the best way to make antennae for a butterfly.
Why, yes, I know I'm running late for work, so why am I reading the manual for my phone?
How long have I been sitting here with one leg of my trousers on? Um, about twenty pages...
I went to see Henry V the evening before last - a friend had won tickets for the performance, and wanted someone to go with her. It had been ages since I'd been to the theatre, and the friend is someone whose company I relish, so I agreed to go even though I am not fond of Shakespeare's history plays. (I managed to avoid reading any during a whole term on Shakespeare.)
I was pleasantly surprised by the production: the use of modern battledress and weapons made the action startlingly relevant. I was moved, too, by the death of Falstaff.
On my way to the theatre, I passed a couple of teenage girls who muttered something on the lines of "
weirdo". And a young guy asked me, mockingly, if his mate could have my number.
Odd. I didn't think I was looking more eccentric than usual.
I consulted my friend when I arrived, and she said I was looking particularly nice, not weird at all. The only thing which occurred to us, after some thought, was that I was wearing the 'Bi and Proud' badge I'd picked up at Pride.
Now I'm feeling self-conscious about wearing it.
Let me show you my city.
A symbol first - this postbox, left standing when the bomb went off. The shops around it are new and shiny, but the postbox is as it has always been.
In front of those shiny shops, the Big Issue seller and, if the police haven't moved him on, the beggar.
Shoppers in a hurry, girls in giggling bunches, the panpipe players in their bright feathers.
Turn the corner, and find the peace of the cathedral, or the secular tranquillity of the art gallery.
Old mixes and merges with new, in buildings and in cultures.
I cut my hair last night.
It was beginning to get long enough to annoy me, so I picked up a pair of scissors, stood in front of the mirror and hacked off bits until it had achieved a reasonably even, dykey shortness. It's a summer haircut really, just as the year is beginning to head towards winter.
I hate hairdressers. I have had my hair cut by someone else maybe twice or three times in the last twenty years.
I don't need reminding how thin and fine it is; I can see that in the mirror.
Really, I can.
I am going to have to acknowledge that summer is well and truly over. There is a crispness in the wind which says autumn, and the leaves are beginning to turn colour and fall.
I was startled when I looked at my calendar and realised that the equinox was only a few days away.
Not that I mind the coming of autumn, but the speed with which summer has passed is a little frightening. It seems so short a time since the vernal equinox, and so little accomplished in that time.
I am on the downhill stretch, with no brakes.
I'm afraid that if I bite your head off, I'll have bitten off more than I can chew. So I bite my tongue instead, bite my lips, bite the skin round my fingernails till it bleeds.
Look, I'm safe, I don't bite.
I should take big bites out of life. But I nibble at the edges, watching out of the corner of my eye to check it's safe, ready to run back into my mousehole.
Good girls don't bite.
Good girls don't fight.
And deep down, the desire to bite, rip, tear and to hell with the consequences.
A poem which never got finished:
When we first met, I knew that you'd be trouble.
I also knew that you'd be worth the cost.
You blew a kiss, I blew a rainbow bubble;
You caught it in your hand, and I was lost.
You seemed quite strange, and yet not quite a stranger...
I think it stayed incomplete because whatever I tried to do with it felt as if I was forcing it into a shape it didn't want to take. The perilous, magical stranger resisted definition, and I had no words to convey my longing for...him?...her?
So we need a day for peace. And the other three hundred and sixty-four?
Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men. Nope, sorry, can't manage that. Would you settle for a vaguely benevolent feeling towards a reasonably large sample of the population?
Peace and quiet. Could do with a bit more of that. Somewhere away from the noise and the constant interruptions.
I pray for peace. Not so much for a global peace my imagination can barely encompass, but for peace in the small things: between neighbours, in families, between these children on the streets. And in your restless heart.
Words and silence.
Sometimes there is silence even when there are words. The words look like communication, but they are just a disguise for the silence, a meaningless pattern of sound.
Sometimes there are no words, and yet it is not truly silence. Two friends, side by side, not a word spoken yet everything which matters is said. Or two who despise each other, needing no voice to express their mutual antagonism.
And every now and then, by a miracle, the silence which comes when words are not enough, when beauty or joy or love steal words and breath away.
Why should it be embarrassing to realise you have been flirting with that cute stranger for the last half hour?
Flirting is a gentle enough sport, and in the main harmless. It isn't even sexual, most of the time. I flirt quite happily with gay men and straight women, and they usually flirt back.
(Now that I've typed the word 'flirt' so many times, it is starting to look odd. It's a chirpy little word, like the flick of a sparrow's tail.)
A little flirting makes the world a friendlier place.
(And did I mention you're looking particularly gorgeous tonight?)
I am a purple person.
Ever since I was a teen, I have been drawn to purple. From the palest of lilacs to the richest imperial shades, it catches my eye and I want to own it.
Hand me a pack of crayons or a box of paints, and my first impulse is to reach for the purple, to smear it over the paper or the canvas recklessly.
I have flirted with other colours - deep, rich reds and lush greens, the blue of a perfect summer sky, burning oranges and even shocking pink, but I always return to purple.
A partial list of the things on my desk (which is also my bedside table):
Computer, old and rickety.
Stack of assorted books at various stages of being read.
Four inches of knitting which may one day be a scarf.
Two boxes of pastels.
Empty mint tin.
Used stamps waiting to be parcelled and sent off.
A teddy bear with purple hat and scarf.
A manicure set from which the scissors are missing, believed buried under other miscellaneous items.
Sellotape and brown parcel tape.
A badge with a pretty floral background which reads 'Bitch'.
And it worries me that you think I am.
Yes, it feels good for someone to think well of me, but you should know that sometimes anger bubbles in me so fiercely that I am on the edge of smashing something - or someone.
On my own in the office, I can be so infuriated at the slowness of my computer that I need to thump or kick the furniture.
In the supermarket, I want to shove aside the gossiping grannies and charge down the aisles lashing out with my basket.
And that's only the beginning...
And our word for today is 'accidie'.
Spiritual sloth, apathy, indifference - that state of mind where nothing seems worth the struggle. Not depression, nothing so concrete. A nebulous malaise, a twiddling of the thumbs, a trudging of the soul down grey paths.
Is it by chance it sounds like 'accede'? In this state, it is easiest to accede, to take the path of least resistance.
Or 'accident'. Nothing to any purpose. I take up one thing and toy with it, then something other drifts into my consciousness, to distract me for a moment before being in its turn discarded.
You asked me for a confession.
What can I confess that is not utterly trivial and yet not too intimate to share with strangers who may stumble upon it?
The time my brother and I came within a hair's breadth of setting fire to our camp site? (Truthfully, it was mostly my doing, the brother a reluctant accomplice.)
A sexual fling or three from my wilder days?
Things done, or left undone?
I confess this. When my father talks to me, I no longer make an effort to understand his rambling words. And I am glad when he stops speaking.
Today I was inordinately pleased to find gelatine-free gummy sweets on sale.
Of course, they are stuffed full of artificial colours and flavours, but no boiled down bones. (I can still remember the horror on the face of a vegetarian former flatmate, when I explained to her exactly what went into the jelly she loved.)
It is odd that while my taste in chocolate is fairly sophisticated, in sweets (candies, for my American friends) I have a weakness for startlingly coloured sugary confections and sherbet. My mouth still waters at the thought of a 'flying saucer' dissolving on my tongue.
I search for a childhood memory, and realise how few are definitely memories rather than anecdotes I have heard from my parents. So much of what I think I remember seems two-dimensional, a faded carbon copy of a memory.
A few clear recollections:
A sunny day in the garden, watching, with total concentration and patience, the activities of dust-small insects in the soil.
A bright orange lacy dress with a mandarin collar - though I forget for which then so-important event it was worn.
The sting of the nettle bed into which I half-deliberately fell, and the smell of witchhazel.
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