She has a beautiful voice
and her violets grow intricate
over the neighbour’s fence
and a face I could trace
but dare not
in case a scar, with longing
It’s 36 degrees Celsius today and I’m spending my day off indoors with Netflix and airconditioning. However, now that I’ve reached a pause for the first time in a fortnight, I’m subsequently left with some thoughts, feelings and ultimately decisions that I need to confront.
Something that I have always struggled with is making the call of when to hold on to something or someone or when to let go. I always sit somewhere between head and heart when it comes to decisions, aware that I don’t want to fall too far on either side of that spectrum. Yet, I’ve always been a person of strong reactions and opinions. I have, like most people, a ‘gut’ reaction. But when that instinct renders a negative response to a person or situation, I’m not always sure where to proceed with that information. Fight or flight, wait and see, ignore or deal? What is the right thing to do? Here is where my head comes into play, desperately trying to see the logical and responsible path, one that may not necessarily correlate to what my heart wants, or what my gut thinks is right.
It’s like walking a tightrope, trying to balance the two on either side. No, it’s more like being the scales. Yes, that’s how it feels, as though I have to embody the balance. I can feel the weight on either end. I’m stuck, standing still, not moving forward in either direction.
I suppose having control is not always easy. Though, it’s those moments in life where we don’t have it, that we crave it.
Either way, do I let go? Move on?
The most likely option is to let myself be pushed to the edge. If only I can bear to look below, knowing that I could fall.
I fear that I have always been small, obsessed with taking up as little space as possible.
My shy girl persona threw me into the deep end. High school. Though whatever splash I made, no one noticed. The dramatics of teenagehood extend well into our twenties. Or is the drama only me? My fingers fumbling on keys in stretch for metaphor. Finding the space between experience and present has grown so much the stretch leaves marks on your stomach. The acne scars that occupy my jawline are a constellation of anything but stars and hope. They frame a mouth that kept silent, sealed itself against whispers that slithered in between the pages of whatever novel I was reading. Time heals all wounds except these, and many others you’d find if you looked in the mirror long enough. Rolled tartan skirts above knees, mine brushing shins. Fingers wanting to find her’s. Laced. 3:20 bell. Rings. A headache and cramps and the powdery taste of paracetamol and fear for tomorrow on my tongue. A basketball hitting the pavement. Handball. Her turn. Switch on, and off, but they keep the light on, over you, a surgical lamp, examining, manipulating, updating, live, real-time in a new-world yearbook. Log off. Cousins over for lunch. Things are going well. Tinsel on the tree. A new year calling my name. I reverberate down the halls. Fading out, out, smaller and smaller. Fading white to black to reunion.
I sat, sticking to a stool in the middle of our cramped kitchen. The scent of boiled vegetables on the stove saturated the summer air while I fidgeted nervously, fearing the end result of a bi-annual haircut. I wanted nothing more than to join the shrieking, playful cries of my younger sisters outside. Continue reading A Slip of Scissors: Flash fiction
Confusion, in the face of one thousand lines
heartfelt sentiments, I have penned
these broken, 1am rhymes
are out of step with you and them
Echoes fade out
my trust in you
continued your illusions
painted in muted, watercolours
droplets, tears of pale lavender
and the tree we sat under
in our first and last January
It will all taste sweeter than this
You lied like the deceiving prince I knew you were
but I was a Lie
in words and in body
The space matters now you no longer fill it
only now I know it’s there
and it exposes me.
Kiss her like you kissed me
taste lipstick, love and meaning
no taint of hesitation
lose your fingers in her knotted hair
I’m sorry, so sorry
to have weighed you down with me
We were never anything more
than an event
occupying the smooth transition of a few months
where you unleashed your passions and perversions
as I hid, in the corners of your covers
You may never feel
what it is,
to be cast aside
into the cold,
or to dread
or to be caged
If the two-semesters, four terms and eight subjects I took this academic year revealed anything, it was the sheer amount of basic university/life stuff I had either:
a) Drastically over-complicated
b) Really had no clue of or how to do
So in the spirit of blogging, narcissistic self-reflection and the internet’s obsession with lists, allow me to share some of the most abhorrently basic and (some) more complex lessons I have learnt about academics and functioning within the simultaneously fascinating and frustrating world of university. Essentially, all the things I wish I was told, but no doubt would have ignored, before beginning my first year.
- Raise your hand. This is not an original piece of advice, and yes, it is inherently flawed, as many brilliant students are unable to speak up in class discussions for legitimate reasons. Yet, it took the second semester of this year for me to realise that I personally can and should. If you can, voice your opinion, offer an answer and ASK QUESTIONS. I’m coming from a humanities standpoint here and essentially, opinions and interpretations are essential to the classroom and getting the most out of your degree. Speak my wonderful scholarly caterpillars!
- If a tutor/teacher/professor/overlord uses a word or term that you have never heard of before, ask them what it means, ESPECIALLY if they do that thing where they pause and check if we all ‘get it’. Let your tutor unveil their etymological prowess while you and other students learn something. It’s almost like that’s what education is for or something. I mean, wow.
- Go to office hours you hopeless dork. When you’re at that horrible point when you’re so confused or lost that you can’t really grasp what the issue is and no way could you adequately explain yourself in a concise email, help is still available, go to office hours. If I had a dollar for everytime a friend complained about the lack of contact hours for humanities students, I could almost pay off my HECS debt. While 10 minutes in an office won’t completely solve this grievance, it’s a sure-fire way to improve. Remeber, you are not annoying for caring about your degree. At my university, and I’m sure it’s the case at others, it’s actually not mandatory for lectures and tutors to designate open hours when students can drop by unannounced, therefore, the ones who do, clearly want you to use that time as a resource.
- How to write an essay that is not hopeless trash. Yes, it took until my second year of uni to wrap my head around framing a well-researched, coherent argument. I speak more specifically here as a literature student where you need to work to find a balance between your own ideas with those of scholars. Honestly? It takes time, practice and an awful lot of editing, but to give specific advice, I’ll make my next point…
- Engage with the source material. I’m certain this is why my essays have drastically improved. Take my advice, read that literary theory that is referenced by your lecturers and use it as a springboard off into what will then be relevant research. Seriously, I could write a whole damn post about research because it makes my little nerd-heart sing, but I’ll leave it at this for now.
- That learning for the sake of learning is not to be sneered at. There is a clear rhetoric surrounding tertiary education in Australia based on the idea that education must lead (and basically guarantee you) a specific job in a specific area of expertise (think doctor, teacher, lawyer, nurse, accountant etc.). Firstly, the problem with this is that it convinces hordes of eighteen-year-olds that they need to decide upon one job, right now, right out of school. People act as though the course you choose will determine your entire fate, and that’s just not realistic.
Additionally, this line of thinking devalues degrees that are not vocationally focused. It is incredibly irritating to explain why you’re doing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in English, only to be met with the condescending, “So what do you want to do?” sort of questions. As many arts graduates will confirm, there are plenty of jobs and avenues you can work towards with a B.A in hand. The way I see it, you are going to be studying for (at least) three years, so spend your time (and money) on and within a field you genuinely care about. Ignore those who cannot fathom motivations or purpose that aren’t defined by a bank balance or corner office. Doing a B.A takes courage, indeed, following your passions in any degree takes courage and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise obviously has their own regrets.
- Everyone is a mess. You cannot have the perfect grades, job, social life, resume, and apartment unless you’re really, really lucky or some kind of super-human insomniac-genius that also can time travel.
- Above all else, you are responsible for ensuring you get the most out of your university experience. Here’s the thing, university is not perfect, I am not perfect, you are not perfect, and neither are your friends, markers, teachers, tutors, lecturers or professors. We all screw up, quite regularly, and the sooner you stop playing the blame game and succumbing to self-hatred the more you will succeed. Take advantage of this unique environment where you can explore, experiment and learn to your heart’s content. You are in control of this entire experience, so own it, be brave and be bold.
And always bring paracetamol and more than two pens.