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Here are words chosen randomly but put together in a way that gives them meaning: annoy woven monkey explosion wilful tangerine bow-tie helicopter wall highlight cloud elephant rumble mosquito elf peak snow gem curry box apple sour screwdriver energetic petroleum tarmac neon fox rubble skip carpet glitter tree umbrella drops bag sneezing urchin wave lustrous exceptional glasses glass water table grafitti coffee froth signpost chalk vegan chocolate shelf wooden sticky peeling blanket tassle albatross wires anchor weather button remote event grass tent disposable pumpkin fence spike squirrel spring suspension Edna gumboot sap lacquer stiff urban willing magazine mini-skirt.
You don't have to tell me that was a bad decision. I knew as soon as I left the cafe. I didn't look back but I know Larry would have been sitting at the table in the window and watching me walking away, wondering what on earth was going on. Even I was wondering. What is it about his revelation about Marie that needled me to the point that made me behave so irrationally? Her sexuality is none of my business. It's neither here nor there for me what she does with her life. Some reflection is definitely needed here.
The excluded kids downstairs were shouting and swearing as usual. I left the office door open because I don't want to seem stand-offish. A couple of lads came bounding up the stairs, past my door and up the next stairs. They hit the walls and shouted as they went. Their workers got them back downstairs and out into the park to cool off. When they continued being difficult they were locked out of the building while their parents were called. I sat there reconciling my budgets to the resonating thuds of the lads trying to kick the door down.
I had three missed calls from Larry on my phone. I deliberately left my phone at home. I don't want to talk about it. I have been thinking about what he told me about Marie. So much seems to make sense now and I feel stupid for not having worked things out for myself. I am in a difficult situation now that I know why she was behaving in such a strange way. I want to ring her and tell her I understand but I don't know how she would feel if she knew that I know what I know.
We're going to skip the brassicas in the vegetable patch this year. Last year we had some fantastic cauliflowers for a while until the little beetles moved in. We let them stay because they were probably enjoying the cauliflower more than we would have and their work was nature's artistry at its best. Small burrowing holes appeared in the white florets as the creatures drilled evenly all over the plant. With time, the holes blackened and decayed until the plant keeled over. If was fun but this year we'll let the little buggers express their artistic talents in another garden.
Yesterday we were walking past a wooden fence. One of the panels had been pushed aside so as to afford a slither of space through which two daschunds could watch passing trade. All that was visible were two little brown faces - one on top of the other - with big eyes, little ears and snouts poked through the gap. The bottom dog was yapping incessantly. The one on top was an observer. It was not barking and looking a little frightened of being incriminated. This really tickled me and we watched them until their owner bustled out and shooed them indoors.
We try to make the large meetings a little less intimidating for the teenagers. The formal process of engaging with adults is daunting for them so we usually start with an ice-breaker. A popular one is introducing yourself followed by a little known fact about yourself. I usually say that I play the ukulele or that I was born in Zambia. I don't tell them that I can turn my eyelids inside out, that I once accidentally nailed my shoe to my foot or that when I was young, some kid shut my eye in the nursery bus window.
Boy is in the middle of making pancakes when we get home. We've long been trying to get him to help with cooking. We tell him girls love a boy who can cook and that he'll need to be able to cook when he leaves home. We tell him about his uncle Steve who was chief pancake maker for our gang. After nights out we'd pile into the kitchen for pancakes and coffee. It was a tradition. So it's great that Boy's making pancakes. Unfortunately this cooking spurt is a response to Shrove Tuesday. It's unlikely it'll become a tradition.
I decide on my walk to the station that I will not judge anyone. So I did not judge the unshaven, unkempt dog owner of the short-legged, square-jawed, mean-looking dog. I did not judge the very young mother with scraped-back hair who teetered in high heels and a very short skirt dragging two identically dressed but screaming children. And I did not judge the stocky, shaven-headed little boy who screamed at his mother, "I will beat you up," then raced her up the hill and beat her up to the top. I did not judge.
My life is a series of dipping in and out of friends, painting, writing, intitiatives, love. I am a greedy, bulge-eyed toad, plump and idle, I sit on the sidelines and watch through blurry eyes for any action, flitter, glisten or sparkle that looks palatable. Then, without moving any other muscle, I flick it back to me on the sticky, lightening-unrolling of my undiscerning tongue and sample it briefly before it is gone - a crispy fly, a fat maggot, soft silk dusted butterfly, crunchy armour plated bitter tasting beetle. I've sampled it all and continue to do so.
Last night I dreamed I wanted to try on clothes in a shop. I found the female changing rooms but when I went inside it was apparent I had erected my own changing room. It was a rickety wooden framework with odd patches of material tacked to the sides, with gaps so people could see in. I was trying to put on and take off clothes while having to hold this structure up. It was exhausting and when I stood still for a while to rest, I realised a queue had formed of people wanting to use my changing room.
As I watch the footage in Japan I am overwhelmed. It's a cliche to say, "I cannot begin to imagine ..." I try to imagine how it must feel to be in shaking buildings, to see roads split before your eyes, to watch a wall of water rushing towards you. I try to imagine what a mother, a sister, a friend would feel being on the other side of a city to her children, her husband, her elderly parents. I try to imagine how you would ever put together a home, a neigbhourbood, a city again. I cannot being to imagine.
We hear the cat flap going in the conservatory but not the usual miaouw to be let in at the back door. We look out and Ozzie is looking back out through the conservatory doors into the garden. He must have been chased in by the one-eyed cat from next door again. We open the kitchen door and he slinks in trying to look chilled and elegant but he is given away by his tail - the hair standing on end makes the tail twice its normal thickness. As he pads off into the house there's no hiding his fear.
I've been measuring you without your knowing. During the day I match you up with your surroundings, make a note of where you come to in relation to a windowsill, the bottom corner of a picture frame, a stain on the wall. When you're gone, I plot and mark and measure the space you filled. The figures fill me, help me to know who you really are. When I feel courageous, I measure you while you sleep ... every inch of you from head to toe: your lips, your cheeks, your legs, your thighs, your ears, your nose. All accounted for.
I've been thinking of how we accumulate things like objects, furniture, clothes etc and store them. When we move, we generally take it with us. It is so much our identify and we keep our things together. When we die, our belongings will probably be distributed to a select few. Our collection is slowly diluted but over years. With something like the tsunami in Japan, that natural dilution is disrupted. Overnight, belongings are strewn over a wide area and what is salvageable in any given place must be a strange collection of things from many homes from a geographical expanse.
The fog is weird. It's been hanging around for days and feels very unusual. I guess it's because I'm commuting to the coast now and fog happens more at the coast? Yesterday when I was coming from a different direction, I got to the roundabout, couldn't see the signs and ended up taking the wrong turning. I was driving up the wrong road but which was a road I knew, yet with all the landmarks obliterated by the fog, I felt disorientated. It was as if I was in a parallel universe, a sort of foggy out of body experience.
Mice: in the shed eating up last year's stored seeds.
Banshees: at the window, "It's me, oh Cathy, I'm so cold, let me in ...".
Pork: large chunks of fat with a crispy skin and amazingly enticing seasoning.
Cars: the key along the side when you're parked in a dodgy neighbourhood.
Records: the leap at the same place in the song.
Cats: when they tire of the attention and want to escape eeooowphsss a lashing claw that draws blood.
Drawing: charcoal, pencil on paper - cross hatching and shading.
Backs: I'll do yours if you do mine.
When you are this thin and light, life can be a nightmare. It's hardly worth venturing out. Grates pose the biggest threat. If you don't navigate them properly you can just disappear forever, slotted into a sewer or storm drain. Nothing floats back up out of those places. Breezes can curl you off your feet and waft you downtown. Winds can tumble you up into the air for miles or wrap you around a signpost or tuck you into a crack. Crowds can trample you without even knowing, one misplaced step on the edge of you and you're done for.
Emergencies happen in a parallel dimension. In real life you "think", "do" and "feel". In an emergency, real life slows and the energy of "thinking" and "doing" is redirected to the life dealing with the emergency. The "feeling" part is suspended until after the event. So you watch events unfold, you hear yourself asking someone to call an ambulance, you provide details, you ask the children to wait in the car and ensure you go back to reassure them, you talk to strangers and you don't care (like you normally would) what people are thinking. You're clear-headed and calm.
When the belt swings my way I am keeping my eye firmly on the buckle. That's the bit that does the most damage. The strap can cut you if it catches you on the edge, and the flick of its tail can cause pain but it's the buckle that creates bruises so deep that they throb for days. And the spike on the buckle can catch your eye, can split your eyelid in two, can rip a bloody gash down to your cheek, that is so painful that you cannot open, close, blink, see, sleep, smile, weep for a week.
These things I know to be true
1) I am meant to be a painter and not a writer
2) I have the most amazing family
3) My brother is gay
4) I have a good ear for music
5) I love fudge
6)Every day is a challenge
7) Paramedics are special people
8) White rice is nicer than brown
9) I can no longer do handstands
10) My children spend too much time on computers
11) Our Sky subscription will stop a month from today
12)I am way overweight
13)I will never be good enough. Ever.
Four types of birds I saw because I took the time out to look. A young sparrow huddling on a signpost, a mild breeze ruffling its feathers making a little tuft on its back while it braced itself. Then a blackbird finished its landing on a roof by lifting and dropping its tail - a natural braking system. A swan flew past, it's wings far back and it's neck snaking as it flew. Finally a smaller bird I couldn't identify, flitting up then dropping down in a u-shape, up and down, up, down with each beat of its little wings.
Sometimes you don't need to be an expert to interpret dreams. The whole family is cycling along a road. R is in front followed by me and the kids. I spot two men hidden at the side of the road and as R cycles past, they throw a brick which lands behind him. He cycles on oblivious. I call to alert him, knowing the kids and I are the next target. He doesn't hear. I realise I will have to ride into the men to stop them and do so knowing it's going to hurt to crash into the ditch.
It was a very strange encounter. The train I was waiting for pulled into the station. I spotted a work colleague and her companion waiting to alight. As she stepped off, she caught my eye and I said hello. She stopped, took my coffee cup, removed the lid and started drinking. I made a joke about stealing people's coffee then glanced at her companion who seemed bewildered. He said her name, she looked at him, apologised, replaced the lid and returned my coffee. She said, "I do know you, don't I?". The man took her hand and led her away.
Cara is there when I get to Cafe Flava. She is on the top floor on the leather sofa in the corner. She stands to hug me. I think how grey and tired she looks. I say are you okay and she says fine, fine. When she sits down she knocks over her cup and coffee goes everywhere. It is all over her skirt, her legs, the floor. I put down my tray and hand her a pile of serviettes. She is crying. I say don't worry I can get you another one. She says it's not that. She's pregnant.
When I wake I remember it would have been Kerrie's birthday today. I try to remember how old she would have been. I do the calculation in my head. She was 35 when she died but I can't remember how many years she's been gone. I feel guilty and sad I cannot remember. I think it was 2008. So it's three years now and she would have been 38 today. Which is correct because now I remember she was ten years younger than me. All the time I'm thinking this, I'm managing to avoid thinking how much I miss her.
Mich's teenage son was driving everyone mad so his father locks him out of the house then leaves for work telling Mich not to let the boy in under any circumstances. She finds this really hard. The boy's ringing the doorbell persistently but she gets on with her ironing. She worries because he should be at work. She doesn't want him to get sacked. Eventually she looks out the window and notices his car has gone. When she opens the front door she sees he's wedged a twig in the doorbell which has been making it ring all this time.
I'm so excited and also a little daunted by this new writing venture. The gallery we'll be renting for a morning every alternate week has a lovely feel to it. It used to be a baguette shop but they've really transformed it. It has tiled floors and walls full of affordable art. They have street cafe style tables and chairs which we'll be using. I have chosen a name and a date and time. Now I have to carefully select the motley crew I'll be inviting to come on this journey with me. Then I have to invent a programme.
Dmitri has been out in the field all day. In the morning it rained on him and he stood, head down, water dripping off his eyelids and ears. By afternoon the sun came out and he remained in the same place while he dried out. It got so hot there was steam rising from his back. He started to look a little more cheerful but he still didn't move from the corner by the hedge. At nightfall, I went out and called to him offering a truce but he turned his back and continued to punish me for my indiscretion.
The weight of the stuff in the attic is starting to have a serious effect on the structure of this building. Cracks are appearing at the tops of the walls. The walls creak, especially at night when the air up there is cooling down. If you make any sudden movements while walking around, a small flutter of dust sifts through gaps. Streaks of redbrown brick crumbs dust the walls. I have no choice but to be in this room. I tread carefully, so carefully but I know it is only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down.
I ended up alone in the building. The staff put up signs saying the club was closed but at 7pm when the kids turned up and found the building locked they kicked off, hammering at the door and buzzing to be let in. I was so nervous when locking up, setting the alarm, switching off the lights and then having to make my way out the front door through this crowd of youths. They were very angry and swearing and threatening to beat someone up. They let me pass but I didn't feel safe until I was in my car.
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