Short Memoir

I remember when I was strong. I remember when I was confident, when I was sure of myself. Nobody could dampen my spirit; if a challenge were thrown my way I would attack it with fierce motivation. My body was strong and athletic because I had been a competitive swimmer since the age of thirteen. I was empowered. Looking back I curse myself for not fully appreciating what I had. I miss her. A few years passed and my muscle and strength decreased along with my confidence. This was the beginning of my tumble that I am yet to crawl back from. Something that may seem small and unimportant and ‘why are you upset you’re not overweight?’ – Yes, but I’m also tall and gangly with no boobs and could pass for a twelve year old girl. 2016 was a year that crushed me, and a year I continue to push as far back into my mind as I can, a year that resulted in me seeking help through counselling.

The first complication came. I was at my boyfriend’s house at the time and the call came early in the morning. I left quietly to the bathroom so as not to wake anyone, I returned as though nothing had changed, crying silently until he woke. I close myself off a lot because in my mind it makes sense, I don’t face the issue so therefore I can forget about it quicker, no one has to talk about it and damper they’re day or waste their time. As I later found out through counselling, this moment is the pivotal point from which all my anxiety, lack of confidence, self-doubt and self-worth stems from.

From this, I attempted to move on but I couldn’t help feeling lower than everyone around me. I fell into the habit of comparison. She’s prettier, she’s funnier, she’s confident, she’s want I want to be – and I felt I could never get to that stage. I started getting ill more often, finding myself sat in the doctor’s waiting room more than I would have liked. The smell of the old leather seats, it made my chest tighten. Prescriptions. Prescriptions. Prescriptions. The minute who knew would say ‘I think you’re overthinking’ ‘You just need to get over it’, maybe they were right but I a piece of me had been crushed and I was trying my best to re-piece myself. It was going to take time and that irritated me as I hated the person I was, of course I didn’t want this too last long.

April 6th. The second crushing call, telling me my Grandad has passed away. It had been a slow and painful process. I have a large family and this was a recipe for disaster; the true colours each relative had hidden beneath their avoidance of reality had finally come through. I don’t like thinking about the build up to his death because he was unrecognisable, it was painful to see my family break. Arguments, fall-outs, tension. A contrast to the wonderful and selfless man we were grieving. I tried so hard to be strong for my mum and my little brother as my dad works away and I didn’t want my mum to feel alone. After the funeral I felt drained and empty. The lack of friends throughout was the cherry on top.

A few months later my mum was diagnosed with skin cancer. The family came together once more for support, still wearing the unspoken tension of the previous event. At this point I was rolling my eyes at the the year so far, I was very much tired of trying to battle through. I found myself almost over the hill then to get pushed back down. Every prescription, every comment, every mistake was seeming bigger to me than it should have. I just felt so empty and I was struggling so much to fill myself up again in order to walk strong. I felt people had it worse so why on earth was I upset? I wasn’t obese so I shouldn’t be disheartened by my body. My mum didn’t die so why am I crying. People get old why are you surprised. People get ill they just have to deal with it. Some people don’t even have a Dad so what’s the big deal.

Since this I have moved on, but I am still struggling immensely with my anxiety and self-confidence. The hole that is self-doubt and lack of confidence is a deep and difficult place to escape, but also an utterly pointless one. I am nearly there and look forward to believing in myself once more.

When I am older, maybe with children, I will never doubt or speak ill of myself in front of them. It is the shovel that digs the hole and it is difficult to move away from; negatively calling yourself when your own mother does not think highly of herself and thinks she is not good enough.

I found myself writing about a time in my life that has most recently affected my life. I’m not sure if I will include all of it when I go through to proof read but it helped to write it down. I remembered that at a certain point in my life I had been keeping a journal of some sort where I decided to write my feelings down when I felt anxious or uncomfortable or sad, I think this was easier for me than actually talking to anyone about how I was feeling. That is why I decided to write for this week’s blog something I can relate to presently and something I find easier than expressing face to face. I cried multiple times when reading ‘The Chronology of Water’ and in no way were my experiences on the same level as Yuknavitch but sometimes I felt I could, in a way, relate to her as she says ‘I’d be the woman who says, your mind, your imagination, they are everything’ (Lidia Yuknavitch, 2010).

Her writing was short sentenced which implied a deadened emotion, emphasising her pain and impacting the reader. A pain, which drew some of my own to the surface. I want to be able to get to the state in which I believe I ‘deserve to sit at the table’ (Lidia Yuknavitch, 2010). Her story is heartbreaking but also very inspirational as she has survived so much and only grown stronger. I agree with the review of Richard Thomas as he says “Lidia must be made of stone by now, marble—diamonds perhaps”, I particularly love how he implies a beauty to her strength and I completely agree. Source: http://thenervousbreakdown.com/rthomas/2011/04/yuknavitch/

Another critical response to Yuknavitch’s book comments how the use of “metaphors of water and swimming recur meaningly throughout”, this I believe is beautifully painful. It accurately portrays Yuknavitch’s experiences that do not necessarily move in one particular direction, but instead “swirls, clouds, pools”. This creates a smooth flow throughout which contrasts to the traumatic content, as she states “I didn’t know then how deeply my mother’s song had swum into my sister and into me….I didn’t know we were our mother’s daughters after all”, the  true meaning of her words is carefully hidden within the personification of  ‘swum’; their only connection being the notion of suicide.

Bibliography:

Lidia Yuknavitch The Chronology of Water, 2010

Review of The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

 

First Chapter

 

The sun was beginning to rise above the forest of Salutem, blushes of pinks and lavenders were beginning to spill over the mountains on the horizon. There was a softness to the air, the wind was almost soothing as it flowed in between the tree tops, slowly giving life back to the lively forest waking up the sleepy creatures that lay beneath its protective branches. On one of these many tree tops sat a young elf waiting patiently for the sun to rise. Her name was Alala, her dark hair flowed to the middle of her back with delicate braids around her temple to keep her hair out of her face, this way she could never been blinded by her locks if her brothers ever decided to catch her off guard with a play fight. She had dressed accordingly for her exciting day ahead, all Elvish fabric was stronger than anything else in the forest and softer than any fur of any animal. Her boots were strong and yet light as a feather.

As the sun was nearly uncovered from behind the mountains, there came a clang of pots and pans beneath her along with a few shouts, Alala rolled her eyes with a smile and clambered down through the large branches and went to discover the place which the noise occurred from.

Nearing the trunk there came an opening which led down to the creation within. Alala walked through the living room and through to the kitchen where she found her father struggling to pick up the pots and pans on the floor quietly, she let out a chuckle. Her father looked up with surprise as he did not expect anyone to be up this early.

“Oh good morning Alala! I tried to be quiet but one of your brother did not put away the dishes very well last night so opening the cupboard they came at me from all angles.”

“Don’t worry you didn’t wake me father, I have been up a while to catch the sunrise”

“Oh right, were you pleased with the show?”

“It was exquisite, just like a painting”

There came a rumble from upstairs.

“You may not have woken me father but I cannot speak for my brothers” Alala giggled.

“They’ll be coming to complain no doubt”

The rumble and tumbling continued until all three boys entered at the kitchen door.

“Do you mind father?”

“Do you know what time it is?

Questions flew from each mouth like fire

“It’s good for you, start the day early, go help your mother in the garden” was father’s only reply.

With many complaints and huffs and puffs the three sleepy boys went to meet their mother for a chore.

“Honestly, you’d think you were the oldest Alala! They act like children.”

Alala laughed as father teased her brothers and helped him get breakfast ready.

After breakfast the family made their way to top of the tree where Alala had been three hours prior. Her Mother fussed over the contents of her backpack, making sure she had enough for the journey. Her father was telling stories of his first quest while her older brothers were telling ghost stories of theirs. Finally, it was time to leave as the Sun was shining brightly now and Alala wanted to the most of the day before nightfall came. She gave hugs and kisses to all; she tiptoed to the edge of the branch. Looking down was daunting, but she took a deep breath in, and leaped forward to the nearest branch, jumping from branch to branch further and further away from the home she had been for so long. Alala felt free. With the wind whipping her hair behind her, her cheeks became flushed with pink and her heart pumping hard against her chest.

When she began to tire, Alala slowed down to catch her breath. She turned around to see how far she had come; her home was completely out of sight, a dark mass of leaves and branches in its place.

Alala tiptoed on each branch with a delicate jump, sometimes balancing with her two outstretched to either side of her, even though her balance was immaculate, she felt it was quite fun. Being a forest elf, living in the treetops is what she has only known. Alala was aware that sometime along her quest she will need to continue on foot as the forest does not last forever. She felt safe in the treetops; it provided the cover see needed and the advantage in case of an attack. Attack. The thought caused Alala to shiver; an attack would definitely not be the usual play fight her brothers surprise her with.

For my first chapter I wanted to incorporate the mythical theme similar to Ragnarok’s style, incorporating a mystical/magical style. As it was the first chapter I attempted to leave the idea of questioning on Alala’s quest, why she had to endure it and the many creatures and adventures she will face.

In one of the reviews for The End of the Gods, it comments on “a world at war” being an “environmental catastrophe”, this I believe it is relating to our world wars historically. To add, it also comments on the gods “are becoming extinct”, this I feel as political references as a positive outlook on society, with its changes in social views.

Bibliography:

http://www.asbyatt.com/biography.aspx

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/8706231/Ragnarok-by-AS-Byatt-review.html

A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok: The End of Gods

 

Short Fiction

As Jane drove down the main road on her way to work she had the window open, the warm breeze blowing gently through her hair, it was warm and comforting. There was some traffic up ahead, she came to a halt and the wind slowed to a tickle in her hair. She was beginning to heat up as the sun came beating down. Ten minutes passed. Jane had progressed two metres forward. She let out a sigh while she leaned on her steering wheel. Leaning back she glanced in her wing mirror and noticed a car pulling out of a side road, heading in the opposite direction, away from this traffic.

Her eyes flashed forward, the long line of cars ahead made her heart fall. She flicked her indicator and checked both ways before pulling out and heading away from the never ending line. As she passed the long line of stand-still cars she smiled as she left them all behind; relieved she had made the decision to keep moving, even if it was in a different direction than she had planned on going this morning when she woke up.

Jane indicated once more and decided to head down a different route that looked intriguing, there were mountains on the horizon and patches of forests. She wanted to explore. The sun was shining brightly and there were only few clouds in the sky. The mountains looked so vibrant and colourful, she wanted to climb higher.

As she drove further down the long country road there was a shape in the distance that she couldn’t quite figure out. Jane squinted her eyes to make out her the odd shapes in the road ahead of her – there seemed to be a man or a woman laid in the middle of the road and a pick-up truck had driven off road. As she neared closer she realised the figure in the middle of the road was not a man or a women, but a deer. She parked on the side of the road and jumped out to help. Jane could see the deer was still breathing as its chest raised slowly but it seemed too weak to move. She rushed over to the car to check if anyone was hurt. There was a woman in the driving sear struggling with her seatbelt and the inflated airbag. She tapped on the window so as not to startle her but the woman shrieked and held a hand to her chest as though that would calm her beating heart in her chest.

“You frightened me!” The woman’s voice was muffled through the glass.

Jane signed to the door as it was locked from the outside. The woman opened the door and seemed very distraught. It looked as though she had been crying.

“I’m so sorry!” she cried even though she had nothing to apologise for, “I’ve been struggling to unfasten my seatbelt – I think it’s stuck! – and I hit that poor deer – It came out of nowhere! – and I need to undo my seat belt so I can help that deer – I’m a vet I should be able to help that poor creature! –” She seemed to run out of breath. Jane put a comforting hand on her shoulder,

“Don’t panic, just breath I’ll help you get out of there and we will do our best for the animal”

She began nodding and regained her breath, “there’s camping equipment in the back of the truck, and there should be some sort of Stanley knife mixed in with it all”

Jane made her way round to the back of the truck and peered over the top to see a heap of camping equipment and all sorts of outdoors activity equipment, a few minutes of rummaging and she came across a box of tools in which laid a Stanley knife. In the next five minutes they had cut the woman free and with no time to waste she had jumped out of her truck with a quick thanks to Jane to get, what seemed to be, a first aid box from the back seat of car and rushed over to the deer lying in the road. Jane watched over as she went to work, applying pressure to its wounds and checking its heartbeat. She turned to Jane,

“You’ve been so wonderfully helpful and I hate to ask for another favour but would you be able to help me one last thing”. There was no hesitation in Janes reply,

“Of course! What is it that you need doing?”

“We need to lift this deer into the pack of the truck so I can take it back to the farm, but it a heavy young thing so I’m not su-”

Jane was already pulling and untangling the camping tents from the truck while explaining “we can’t use this to push the deer onto the fabric and use the rope so we can pull it up together from the truck!”

The vet replied with enthusiasm and together they managed to get the deer safely to the farm.

When writing this week’s blog post I tried to use inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s informative and captivating writing style as she writes with a concise informative style. I feel like I struggle with being concise with my writing without the excessive proof reading, therefore I feel like this week’s blog was more difficult to me than the others. Nonetheless, I still tried my best to produce good work. Margaret Attwood’s blue beards egg opening paragraph about sally standing in the kitchen was based on a women entrapped within domestic expectations, therefore when writing my short fiction I wanted to embrace the women who escaped the controlled environment. I thought to give my character a name that has been related to ‘plain’ to juxtapose this, because I did not want to present only a ‘rare’ (Shulamith Firestone, 1970) because I wanted Jane to be a character that is relatable no one who is yet another expectation for women. I didn’t want her name to be the cause of her empowerment, when the woman just as she is, is enough. To channel against stereotypes and expectations of the plain Jane that has been a reference. Jane removing herself from the slow traffic I wanted to represent her strong character and up for adventure, not afraid for something difference. I also wanted the encouragement of women working together rather than competing with expectations in society, when they can actually work together resulting in intelligence and success. In the research article it states that as well as addressing feminism, “masculinist ideology over nature and woman in parallel” as there is also a clear contrast between the “female’s protagonist’s parents”, the “male vs female” also referred to as “civilization and culture” vs “wilderness and nurture”. Atwood also addresses the “exploitation and destruction of the wilderness of Canada”, this is due to when the narrator returns to her home town to be met with a shocking change to the wilderness. This I believe is evident throughout Surfacing and was a delight to read.

Bibliography:

Studies in Literature and Language, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2011, pp. 6-10

Margaret Atwood, Blue Beard

Margaret Atwood, Surfacing

Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex

Theatre of the Absurd

When writing my absurd dramatic scene I tried to base my main focus on the absurd, out of the ordinary and it’s difficult to understand. I took inspiration for my scene from this week’s reading of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. I really enjoyed this script as the absurd qualities intrigued me to figure out the message or the meaning, despite Beckett being known to have apparently written it with no direct aim of meaning as he stated ‘I produce an object. What people make of it is not my concern’ (ref).

However I still enjoyed it because I was allowed to make it whatever I wished. Beckett’s Waiting for Godot also has similar characteristics to the myth of Sisyphus as it also has absurd characteristics. However, the myth of Sisyphus questions the absurdity of life, as you are only able to be fully happy in life if you are aware of your situation and accept things for how they are. Although, the repetition of pushing a boulder up a hill, relates to Beckett as they repeatedly wait for Godot.

When thinking of my idea to write a dramatic scene I tried to think of something unique to me and others; dreams. Dreams are something that are unique for every individual and they rarely ever make sense, so I remembered a dream that had stuck with me purely due to how absurd it was for me. My original idea was there was a parallel universe and some people had discovered it existed, but the more they thought about the other world their eyes would fill with a green liquid as though their eyes became the eyes of those on the other side, taking over each individual. I adapted my original dream for an on stage performance and used stage direction to represent the other side coming through my characters. I left each character nameless and the topic avoided as much as I can, this idea came from Waiting for Godot as we don’t find out who Godot is or why they are waiting for them.

The article comments on how on the response Beckett received, as some thought his work was utter “nonsense” whereas some believed it was “revolutionary art”. This was due to the contextual period the play was released, 1953, as it was something completely different to the other plays with clear expositions, climaxes and denouements. The play allowed a new form of an open mind to discover the ‘hidden meanings’ Beckett had left, which is why a lot of work since progressed with deeper messages and smarter ways of telling a story. This is due to the society at the time were also ‘inspired to develop various interpretations’ of the play. However, Beckett was ‘not pleased by the success’ as some critics and audience seemed to take ‘philosophical and religious meanings’ from the play, which he insists were not ‘purposefully included’ but instead insisted the play was ‘literal relations as opposed to symbolism’.

My Dramatic Scene:

Behind an abandoned building. 7pm.

 

A young man sits against the wall of the building bends his knees to his chest, lays them flat, raises them again, can’t seem to get comfortable, he stands.

Enter young woman, youngest man slowing to a stop, panting.

 

Young man: Finally! What took you so long? I thought I would be left alone.

Youngest man: still panting and wincing …we…we…

Young woman: she had regained her breath quicker We had to run because his parents were a bit trickier to lie to, that or he just can’t lie to save his life she roles her eyes

Young man: I forgot you couldn’t lie

Youngest man: has regained his breath and says with confidence Hey! I tried … very hard confidence wearing off slightly as he realises he cannot lie

 

They spend a few moments looking behind their shoulders, all three walking in a circle in union.

 

Young man: Okay, we haven’t got long, what are we going to do about this?

Young woman: well I’m not sure, we can’t directly talk about can we? Otherwise…

Youngest man: Don’t say it!

Young woman: I wasn’t going to!

Youngest man: well it sounded like you were going to

Young man: well she’s right, we cannot directly talk about it because otherwise they will know and they will come

They all fall silent. The youngest man shudders. The young woman and young man turn abruptly to stare at the youngest man as though he was about to explode.

Youngest man: What on earth are y-

Young woman: Oh thank goodness!

Youngest man: There was a slight chill-

Young man: Yes but we thought it could have been something else

Youngest man: Oh you thought they could see us

Young man and young woman shush him harshly

Youngest man: Okay okay! I know what’ll happen if I slip up, they won’t get through m-

Youngest man become suddenly rigid. A few seconds pass until the young man waves a hand in front of his face. Stage lights dim until a spotlight shines directly above the youngest man, causing his face to be distorted by shadows. The young man and young woman begin to panic, the young man slaps the youngest man across the face. Lights return to normal.

 

Youngest man: I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry

Young woman: we need to be more careful

The young man begins to panic.

 

Young man: this isn’t good, this is not good, this isn’t going to end well

Young woman: You need to think about something else otherwise they will come!

Young man: I know but its difficult to not think abo-

The lights dim as they did for the youngest man, spotlight casting shadows on his face.

 

Youngest woman: Oh no!

 

 The youngest woman slaps him across the face. Lights return to normal.

The youngest woman begins to panic, bringing her hands to her head as though to stop her brain from thinking.

 

Youngest woman: We NEED to stop thinking about it! She points at the youngest man You’re going to get us killed! She points at the young man You were keeping me calm but you’re a mess!

Youngest man: Everybody calm down!! They will find us if we are scared! Everyone smile, keep smiling and you will eventually be happy.

They all smile ridiculously, no emotion in their eyes. They seem to have calmed.

 

Youngest man: This is going to work

Youngest man: This is perfect

Youngest woman: Well done!

They exit with ridiculous smiles on their faces, only lighting is spotlights following them off stage.

Bibliography:

http://www.samuel-beckett.net/Godot_Endgame_Worton.html

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus

https://pages.stolaf.edu/th271-spring2014/commentary-by-artists-or-critics-waiting-for-godot/

 

Poetry

Beat poetry was created in the 1950-60s by a group of young men from Colombia University in America; they were full of enthusiasm and a hunger for something different. The work they created was seen as young boys ‘acting out’ as their beat poems were different to the norm and therefore they were not taken seriously by society i.e the older generation who were quite happy with their usual stanzas. They were seen to be the up and coming generation filled with new ideas and different outlooks on the world, influencing a change with their writing and ideas. This idea of writing spontaneously and sometimes politically, while also exploring marginalised or minority topics, was intriguing and became popular, more so in San Francisco, however this movement was not popular as in numbers, but in influence. http://www.online-literature.com/periods/beat.php

It allowed various interpretations and began new findings in other aspects such as jazz music, voicing the younger generation; a cultural and literary movement.

For this weeks blog we looked at different Beat poems by Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman and Jack Kerouac. Personally, I would say my favourite of them all would be the poems by Waldman and Kerouac, my least favourite being Ginsberg’s Howl. This is because I felt Howl was very difficult to get into the flow of the poem, as it was one continuous monologue without many moments to take a breath. It was a little extreme and difficult to describe it as a poem.

Whereas, Waldman’s The V of them was interesting to me as the random word selection was all linked to one topic. I found this intriguing because when it came to analysing the poem as a whole, it was questionable and open for discussion. The layout of the poem was also a factor which I enjoyed as the words were set in a V formation, this allowed the reader to figure out which direction to start the reading in order for the poem to make sense, as it was all very scattered and unclear to where you should begin reading. Kerouac was slightly similar in a way and equally intriguing, as the different lines of his poems were almost like scattered thoughts which is what influenced me to create my beat poem how I did and I tried to reinvent a Waldman/Kerouac scattered style. We were given different objects to choose from and I picked a smooth amber crystal/stone, when writing my poem based on this object I wrote down every thought that came into my head without hesitating to consider the sense of it, hopefully leaving it open for discussion to what the object is. I enjoyed writing in this way, as it was more of a realistic to capture my imagination and is also a relatable human characteristic, which I feel is shown to be a feature in which allows reader/audiences to connect and enjoy as it is like they are included.

My Beat Poem:

Preserved in time

shaped by ocean waves

compression

to hide within

a cold hard surface

a beauty to be treasured

chip chip chipping away

eventually smooth

eventually

found by

collectors to remove

its shell

letting the light

hit

split

reflect

out

dazzling and dancing.

Bibliography:

http://www.online-literature.com/periods/beat.php

The V of them – Anne Waldman

Jack Kerouac

Howl – Allen Ginsberg

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