Friday, 29 May 2015

Job done

I know I lead a small and uneventful life. Maybe that’s why completing a novel and handing it in feels like such a heroic accomplishment. Not as much different from having a baby as it ought to be.

It’s a most peculiar time. The months of struggling against incessant distraction and interruption, to sustain the imaginative authenticity of an invented world, takes every ounce of strength. Sometimes I am badly behaved, during that process.

And then it’s done, and sent in, and one tries to live with equanimity with the world’s resounding ‘So what?’

Much like the hiatus after a death, the days are oddly empty; one’s identity rolls up, completed. A line is now drawn beneath who and what I was last week, yesterday. What now?

I believe sometimes people imagine that when a work is complete there must be celebration, affirmation, excitement. That it’s a jubilant time. But the reality is, that one is spent. And the ensuing silence feels very, very long.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Transition kit

Komorebi as viewed from the big house. I like these photos taken with my laptop – the second one looks like an impressionist painting!   :0)

A bit earlier in the Spring.

Thinking about kit as transitional.

Let me unpack that.

When Komorebi first came about, I furnished it as if it were a house. I actually got a surprising amount of stuff in. I had a bed and a table, a chair, two big sets of shelves (one built in by the Badger, and a bookcase) and a coffee table. Thinking about it now, I can’t imagine how I wodged it all in. But I did.

I had loads of crockery and cooking things, a lot of clothes – sweaters, t-shirts, home-made skirts, underthings, multi-socks; lots and lots. I had a whole long shelf of books, a number of ornaments, hats, several pairs of shoes, all kinds of things. And they all went in, quite tidily. It wasn’t a mess. But it did go mouldy. Komorebi, under the trees at the bottom of the garden, gets fairly damp.

And then I got health issues as well, so I moved everything back into the house. Well – I gave most of it away; the furniture, much of the books and crockery and cooking things, the ornaments. And for a long time I wasn’t in Komorebi much.

Then I tried again, with a camping mattress but not taking my clothes there. That was okay, but I also needed the camping mattress for when the Badger was home and we were sleeping in his attic. Having my things divided between Komorebi and the big house meant everything I wanted always seemed to be somewhere else and I was forever shuttling back and forth, sometimes carrying a large green mattress. So for a long time I just gave up and thought about it.

Then I discovered the whole idea of extreme minimalism, and did a lot of reading about people who own very few things or live out of one bag. This really appealed to me.

I spent a while acquiring and ditching stuff in an uncomfortable ebb and flow of . . . what? Self-definition, I think. Acquiring the outfits and belongings that would tell me who I was. How strange. In this process, I eventually began to notice actually who I am, as distinct from other people’s cultural habits I had borrowed to wear for the time being. I find I like short hair, because it’s easy and I like my earrings. I like quiet clothes in dark colours and stretchy fabrics, preferable easy to wash and quick to dry. I like extremely comfy shoes. And I get cold easily so need warm layers. As a young woman I liked flappy, floaty clothes, but now I am older and my body is flappy and floaty all by itself, deconstruction is no longer the advisable keynote of anything in my wardrobe. After a while, a bit like a blockage giving way in a rodded drain, the clothes that were really me formed a natural discard pile, and I was left with things I always feel comfortable in, that don’t make me feel conspicuous or bad about my ageing body. I feel good. And there aren’t very many of them, just a drawer/shelf, plus some going-out things on a hanger. Likewise, shoes that I liked but made blisters, or looked good but felt uncomfortable, walked away, leaving me with the capsule wardrobe ideal of the small number of things that work for every conceivable occasion. Brilliant.

Then, having minimized my belongings, I began to feel I could make dividing my life between Komorebi and the big house work again. Because I missed the stars and trees, the night animals on the veranda, the quiet and peace.

But an odd thing happened. Living in the house had created a sense that life without furniture is lonely, miserable and unrealistic. I knew things go mouldy in Komorebi, so I cunningly equipped it with a carp fisherman’s chair and a large carp fisherman’s bed. I also got a double sleeping bag, because I feel a bit hemmed in, with a single one. I got a cheerful garden/beach mat for the floor.

All that is very comfortable.

But it also fills up all the space. Komorebi is very small, only about 9ft x 7ft. I keep having to move things about according to daytime or nighttime use, and the rug therefore gets rucked up. In the earth as viewed from space perspective, this is not of profound importance; but it still annoys me. I like my environment simple and good to go. Kind of immediate.

Also, with a bed and a chair and a mat in Komorebi, what I don’t do is clean. And cleaning is what ensures a spider-free environment. Also, a helpful response to the damp is to treat the wood more frequently than one otherwise might (not with vile chemicals, I mean; with fragrant oils). And of course I don’t do that either if it means lugging furniture about.
So I shall go back to the mattress on the floor (which is what I have in the big house too). The chair is for the Badger rather than me, and he has one in his woodworking emporium right next door to Komorebi, so he can bring that in when he comes to share a cup of tea with me. But that isn’t very often. Mostly his base is the big house.

What interested me particularly is that gathering kit seemed to attach to transitional moments – like stuff gave me courage to make a change. Once the change is made, I find I don’t need the stuff after all. I think I can save a lot of money if I remember that.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Thoughts while waiting


This morning I was waiting for our grocery delivery. We don’t always order our groceries online, and even with free delivery, for no reason I can understand, our money doesn’t seem to go as far when we do. But this week some of us wanted cat food available only from the place we get our groceries when we shop online. So we did that. The delivery slot was 11 – 1 pm, so I waited, and sure enough it came in about the middle of the slot.

Now it’s the afternoon, and I’m waiting for the meat order from Eversfield Farm. That’s the only place I know to get pasture-fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat. Their delivery slot is the your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine variety. It’s meant to get here by 6pm – or any time earlier in the day – and mostly it does. Though once it just didn’t turn up, they put it in a fridge somewhere, and the slot relocated to the next day. So I spent two days waiting for that particular meat delivery.

We get most of our shopping online – clothes, books, birthday presents. Though there’s usually a postage charge, that’s a lot less than a train or bus fare. And if we go to some town with good shops, looking for purchases takes a while, so generally we want something to eat while we’re out. And of course, if we don’t find what we want, a lot of money has been spent of the train fare and eating out, with no result on the desired thing. So we buy things online, and that involves waiting in for deliveries. What sort of things? A scarf, a tree, a beanbag chair, a hairbrush, a sweater, trousers, funeral shoes – those were some of the recent things different ones of us bought mail order.

This last week has had moments in it so stressful and difficult that it’s sent my mind off track and no good for writing. I’ll come back to that next week. I’d like to go for a walk, or . . . no . . . I can’t think of an ‘or’. Everything apart from going for a walk costs money.

I’ve read some interesting articles online – about gender variety, if you were wondering. I’ve done the puzzles in the Radio Times. I’ll watch Pointless when it comes on the telly. I’ll feed the crows and the seagulls, the badgers and the foxes. I’ll read more of Sam Harris’s book Lying when I’ve finished writing this. Meanwhile, I’m just waiting. Waiting and eating strawberries. Waiting and drinking tea. Six o’clock is not for another two hours and twenty minutes.

However, all this waiting and not-writing and reading about Lying and gender-bending has brought my mind into a kind of point of resolve.

The last few months have been mind-bogglingly expensive. Everything costs more than it did, and the money just seems to flow through my hands like water. I do know where it goes because I keep track, and in any case it all goes to the same place: Away.

So here is what my one-pointed mind is about to erupt into, like a rocket or a boil or something. I am sick sick sick of waiting. To be paid, for the deliveries, for people on indeterminate time schedules to turn up, for it to be time to get up without waking everyone, for things to end and things to begin, for it to be time to set off and time to go home, for the sermon to finish and it be time to sing again. And, I’m sick sick sick of spending money – with all the associated worrying and guilt and failed striving after frugality, and anxiety over the shared finance implicit in marriage.

So, once this pasture-fed meat has finally materialized, that’s it. No more. I am not going to buy things, not going to wait for things. I’ll cut my own hair and clean my teeth with salt and eat whatever’s in the fridge. I’ll go out when I want and stay out forever, by the sea, in the woods, in Komorebi. I’ll work on my book and stop stopping to fulfill errands and expectations.

When I was a student at York University, a friend of my boyfriend (who later became my first husband) saw me standing in the foyer of Vanbrugh College, and asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Waiting for Rog’ (my boyfriend). And the mutual friend said something like, ‘That’s what you’re always doing.’ And how right he was.

My childhood had a lot of waiting in it. Afternoon rests, waiting to be allowed to get up. Bedtime in the summer, listening to flies buzzing and the lawn being mowed outside, waiting for elusive sleep. Waiting for the school day to end, for it to be time to go home. Waiting for the bus. Even waiting to pee – ‘Just hang on a bit longer, we’re nearly home, only another five miles’ – sometimes unsuccessfully.

And then the early adult years. The childbearing decade. Waiting for a toddler to fall asleep, walking at the pace of little children, waiting for their father to come home, waiting for an adult to visit.

There has been so much waiting, and it has also been associated with spending money. Being an introverted hypersensitive anxious depressive with permanent low blood pressure dizziness – Geez, nothing like it for keeping you indoors! And the discipline of solitude for writing, keeping at it to the point of feeling physically ill, gutted tired, keeping on. Writing, writing, writing. In the interstices, for the cheerfulness, exploring alter egos and interesting things, the number of online purchases I’ve made! It embarrasses me to even think of it! Eating, shopping, Facebooking, makes pegging away half bearable.

I think I won’t do this any more. In a week or two this book will be done and sent in.

The groceries have come, the meat has arrived, enough enough. No more waiting. From right now, things are going to change. I’m not going to wait any more. But I think . . . I’m not sure . . . how do you do it? What is there to do but wait and write and spend money on groceries and secondhand clothes and books? How does a person, who feels chronically tired and dizzy when she stands up, live? I don’t know, I don’t know. How does a person who can offend other people without even trying, survive outside her own home? How does someone who hasn’t even the stamina for a church service, sits gripping the pew edge willing it to be the end, succeed in joining in with anything? I don’t know, I don’t know. But I think the time is coming to go and see.

I will take a book. I will walk to the sea. I will sit down there. And that will not cost any money, and be somewhere else.