Monday, March 26, 2018

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

I'm back from Vegas and I'm exhausted. Not for the usual reasons. I ran past the slot machines while trying to make it to the various talks or presentations I wanted to attend - but because I flew there and back in a week - travel time equalled two days and the stay there, three days. I didn't get over the jet lag when I was there, and now I'm back and things are passing by in some sort of amorphous haze.

One good thing happened when I got back. Tim Tam was adopted. By the sweetest young expat couple who saw his pictures (and my snazzy write-up) on PetFinder and fell in love with him. He was delivered safely to his new home on Saturday.

A friend's mother passed away while I was airborne - the KL-London sector. Life has been going on with a vengeance while I was gone - but I feel strangely out of it - waking up when the sun has gone down to resume my nocturnal existence. This was the last day I could do that, though.

Tomorrow, real life begins again, with interviews, etc.

Tonight, I have to edit something, write something - I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner, but she's strangely silent and hasn't been answering the phone. It's OK. I will work and pay bills until she does.

I don't mind, really.

I don't mind anything at all.

I'm in that strange half world, out of sync with the rest of the world, and not really caring.

The cats love it. Firstly, they're so glad that TimTam the bandit is gone and that room is open territory once again. So after sleeping there some nights, they have come back to sleep with me or on me (as Sheba would prefer it). They're just enjoying the companionship after a hiatus of one week.

One week is a long time in the life of a cat.

I really wish I could rescue the cat next door. She cries so piteously and the owners are hard hearted. They keep her locked up in the balcony, without any companionship or attention. She is beautiful and she has the saddest eyes.

I dreamt that some rat was bothering me. I would have ignored me but it came right up to me and started nibbling or trying to bite me. Anyway, I picked it up by the scruff of its neck and threw it against a wall. It splattered. In my dreams, the rats splattered easily.

And then there was another rat. This time, I was closer to the wall, so I was not sure if there was enough distance to create the force to make the rat splatter. But splatter it did. There was a lot of other stuff in this dream, about being at the base camp of a mountain in the Himalaya and other things...which fade. What stays with me is the rat splattering.

Yesterday I dreamt of my grandfather who has been dead for 32 years. I dreamt he was alive and strong and buff. He was working out and muscled - and I calculated his age and realised that in my dream, he was 110 years old. He was going strong and writing his will so that he gave away his money to other people, people who were not his family. Because as he said quite clearly, he didn't like his family.

And I thought in my dream (being a member of his family) that he was wrong. was HIS money and his choice about what to do with it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What Matters The Most

So I find out today that one of my best friends has cirrhosis of the liver. We haven't really kept in touch and honestly, are any of these petty fights or slights worth it?

Yesterday I humbled myself abjectly and apologised to Sheba for hurting his feelings (he had stopped talking to me and was manifesting his hurt and outrage by alternately avoiding me and puking his guts out) and I was sorry, so sorry.

I think at some point you figure out what and who matters the most.

There are those that you love, companions along the way, and you reprioritise and refocus.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I Don't Know Why

There is a certain nervousness that starts moving in your blood, when you haven't moved enough. You become suspicious, paranoid, you pounce on words that have no meaning, no intention behind them.

This is me.

I sat in Coffee Bean having my dinner and reading my book and a strange man followed me out of there and tried to strike up a conversation. He looked harmless and I felt vaguely sorry for him but any attempt to answer his question and cut short the conversation led to another question, another attempt to prolong this pointless conversation...and suddenly I felt weary.

My body recoiled. I don't like people who steal my energy. It is unbecoming.

So I cut short the conversation abruptly, since he hadn't allowed me to do it politely, with my body half turned away to flee...he hadn't respected my time or space and I had no choice. I realised that Malaysians don't like confrontation and we don't like being rude when strangers accost us in shopping centres to ask what book we are reading. Even if there is something vaguely suspicious about these strangers. Even if they carry blue canvas bags and sit in Coffee Bean without buying anything. Even if they say that my newspaper is way too expensive and we should distribute it for free. Even if they get on every last nerve. Even if their eyes are desperate and they want to talk and they want to talk.

So I cut short the conversation and turned to leave. His face fell, it shut like a parasol and I felt sorry but I wanted to be away, not there chatting in the middle of a shopping centre with an uninteresting stranger who sought desperately to be interesting, who pinioned me to the ground, demanded my time.

You can't have my time.

You can't have my time unless I choose to give it to you.

And I don't choose.

Not anymore.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Written On The Body

I need to use my body more, because when I don' messes with my mind. My blood congeals and I start holding my breath, my thoughts stagger in the same familiar loops...and I weep, I weep.

I walked far today - I walked and walked and I would have walked some more, but a light shower, like a blessing, a benediction started - and I didn't know if it would get heavy, if I would be soaked. There were not so many people around today and I wondered at that. It was dark (the street lamps were not lit) and I wondered at that. I had no idea that it was so late.

But there were cats out, and every so often I stooped down and placed a handful of biscuits on the ground where they could get at them once I had passed on (they are shy, they do not know me, they do not trust me). I fed many cats. Or maybe they were the same cats, over and over. I do not know.

I listened to Bernard in his last soliloquy and then the book ended and so I started it again. I tried to share the book with Tommy, gave him my own copy, the copy that I loved, went home and typed out Jeanette Winterson's long essay on The Waves for him...and it had the opposite effect that it had on me. When I read Winterson's essay, I wanted to dive back into the book that I had rejected as so much unnecessary nonsense. I persevered and it opened itself up to me, its hidden beauty which had actually been there, in plain sight, but I had not the eyes to see.

I wonder at that. How much beauty is hidden from me because I refuse to see? I see what is glaring and brash and obvious. I see it and although I should have more wit, I fall for it.

I fall for it.

I brush away my feelings and I need to stop doing that. Walking helps me put things in perspective. It helps me think about things, sort through strands.

Being sedentary - I guess our bodies were not built to be sedentary. Ivana told me that once. She said, our bodies haven't evolved to suit this sedentary lifestyle and that is why - we grow sick and swollen, and that is why we lead such unfulfilled lives. Running on a machine in the gym does not feels...industrial.

I want to be as natural as possible.

But I don't know how.

So I stagger about, stop breathing, feel my mind congeal into something hard, unlovely.

I write because I try to make sense of the world.

But the world remains impervious and unexplained.

My mind has tried to save me and it hasn't succeeded.

My heart simply leads me astray as often as it can.

Maybe I should be looking to the body for salvation.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Figment Of My Imagination

I think I know but I have no idea. This is what writers do. We make stuff up. It's all in our heads. Most of our conversations are imaginary. We don't know. So we imagine.

And because you are a figment of my imagination, I felt free to make stuff up.

But then, you read it and were offended, maybe hurt?

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I was just trying to make sense of it to myself.

And in some alternate reality, where we are still friends, where you still talk to me, where you care about me, there I am, apologising to you.

Friday, March 02, 2018


We talk with the outsides of words, skimming the surface. not saying what we really feel. At one time it was enough. It was enough to hear your voice, to listen to how you formed the words, to imagine the cadences underneath, the things unsaid.

Your smile was enough.

And now your smile has disappeared.

Your words have disappeared.

And when I have nothing, those empty words, those soufflé, meringue words, are not enough.

Wrestling Angels

I go for a walk today and do only half the required steps. Who requires it? I don't know. I listen to Bernard talk, then Neville, then Louis, then Rhoda, Susan and Jinny. I listen to each cadence and until my steps start to flag. And then I make for home because I am tired, because this walking in circles is pointless.

And whenever you interrupt their words, my thoughts, I walk faster, trying to work you out of my system. I try to walk through that slight ache that tugs at my chest. I know when I come home, having tired myself out, I will find no word from you, nothing.

This silence.

I think you will be here tomorrow, I am almost sure, but you were supposed to be there yesterday, and you weren't.

You called and cancelled. You said, no, next week instead.

Nothing compels you. You will not be compelled. You will come and go as you please. You find any sort of clinging distasteful.

And I have uninstalled Skype from my phone because I was tired of checking for a message that never came. I needed to stop.

And there is so much work now, so much. I have created it for myself because I need the distraction. I need to think of something else, someone else.

But there is no one.

I listen to Neville obsess about Percival and for the first time, I understand him. I understand how he loves Percival for leaving his letters scattered about unanswered, among his guns and dogs. I understand how he loves Percival for agreeing to meet him under a clock in London and then not showing up. For not understanding Catullus and yet understanding him, better than Louis who would understand the words perfectly.

You can love someone because they are perfect and remote and unattainable. Because they are ephemeral and disappear just as you are about to turn around. You can love them because you can only catch sight of them from the corner of your eye. You love them because they are fleeting and insubstantial, the substance of dreams and daydreams.

And even though love is too strong a word, too final, too finite, too all-encompassing, you attach that word to their face, their form, and it feels right.

Maybe tomorrow you will cease to remember, this obsession will pass.

But for today, you love them and you love them anyway.