Tuesday, 8 May 2018

general apology

Just assume I'm in bed unless I tell you otherwise ok.

Before I go on with this (and when I say 'this', let me just make it clear that I have absolutely no idea what manner of words may be about to form here as a consequence of my agency) I think I might apologise for yesterday's post and even more urgently for the one from the day before.


Right, well, I think I'll get something off my chest now.

For some time I've been uncomfortably aware that I write about my life at work as if I am quite a noble individual, well, at about noon on Anzac Day I was walking towards the ground level entrance and I met the nonagenarian volunteer M on her way out. She told me she had just had surgery for cataracts on her eyes and she needed drops put in them, three drops each eye, three times at ten minute intervals several times daily, one of those times being right then, and she could not do it herself. So I said, Oh I'm sorry to hear that M, excuse me, I just have to go in here now there's something I have to do. A little while later I saw one of the tour guides putting the drops in her eyes for her.

What else, what else....well, maybe you would like to hear about the big events of my life over the last 28 hours? I saw my doctor yesterday, and she gave me a big piece of practical advice, and she also said to me that she doesn't know how I can endure my life as it is, and I thought, 'Weak.' After the shrink I went to yoga and it was just me and the teacher, and that was a tough session too. I went to get a felafel after yoga and when I came out of the shop, I tripped over my bike and fell on it, and then got on to ride away but immediately came off again, and so I had to sit on the footpath in Stewart street until the adrenalin wore off. I couldn't eat cold felafel after that so I went to bed and fell asleep immediately.

When the alarm woke me I was dreaming about food. I feel embarrassed to describe the dream. Someone who I loved and who loved me was spooning food into my mouth. I don't know who it was, when or where this was happening, and all I remember about the food was that it was warm and not sweet, maybe something quite bland? I felt known and cared for, like a baby, but there was a sexual dimension to the closeness and intimacy which wasn't like a baby pleasure.  My unconscious is unsubtle to a degree that I find highly cringeworthy but at the same time I am glad that it is so ruthlessly efficient: it detects a need, it ensures that need is met and it's not too fussed about how we get there.

Today a volunteer who I like very much made me accept the loan of a book he thought I would enjoy reading. I will not enjoy reading it and in fact I intend to skim it very lightly for maybe half an hour so I can give it back next week and say with a clear conscience that I did read it. This isn't the first time this exact scenario has occurred. I'm grateful and flattered to be brought books that someone thinks I would like but some of the selections are so totally off the money that it's a little worrying - do I *seem* like someone who is interested enough in Jacques Tati, or the Light Brigade, or nineteenth century dentistry, or lace, or Spanish churches, or some woman who made cups of tea for soldiers in Egypt, that I would voluntarily relinquish whole hours of my life to reading about those topics? I already have a collection of about six books people have lent me that I really do want to read or am engaged already in reading. I don't know why I take things I don't want.

Seems to me I will have to apologise for this post too, tomorrow.  But not today! Goodnight.


Fyodor said...

I don’t understand why you’re so apologetic. I really enjoy the aesthetic adventures of Mme. Tartan. Statuary Friday was one of the topsest things ever and the Marimekko piece was fascinating, and I say that as a bloke obliviously ignorant about fashion. As you know, (not-)pirate doors are my forte.

lucy tartan said...

Fyodor, thank you for this and and also for an uncountable number of other things. (Although you were wrong about the pirate doors then and you're persisting in being wrong now, it seems. I very much wish your acknowledged forte was something else, anything at all, just not this one thing that you're so fundamentally and perpetually wrong about.)

I guess the short explanation for the apologising is that I felt it was warranted.

It felt that way because what I'd published didn't seem worthy of anyone's time - mine, yours, or any other reader's. That's how I felt. Maybe that doesn't tally with your experience of reading what I've written; I'm not in a position to know, and also, at this stage, my entire interest in writing begins and ends with the question of whether I think it does what I set out for it to do. It's not important to me whether other people like it or not - it's nice, and gratifying, to hear from time to time that it's interesting and enjoyable and it's been appreciated, but that gratification is not why I'm doing it. If I wanted that and nothing else I wouldn't be writing in this little niche fiefdom; I'd write professionally in a setting with prestige and hordes of readers. (continued below, Blogger says it's too many characters for one comment)

lucy tartan said...

(continued from above)

But I don't believe that those good things would compensate me for the instatement of constraints on what and how I could write and for the loss of the absolute, complete, unmatched freedom that I now have. Because the scope I have now is very wide, I stretch myself. I try for speed and efficiency and above all immediacy in my writing here and that entails shooting for moving targets. The targets are usually an emotion or an idea or a state of mind that has been with me and that I want to externalise and make concrete. I hit some of those targets sometimes, other times the material I use doesn't coalesce and it blows back into my face. And sometimes I feel that I've written something that works, but a few days later, it cools off. I often close the laptop feeling kind of soiled by my own clumsiness and self-misrepresentation, and that's something that makes me cringe and feel embarrassed, especially given that those other validating safety nets aren't present - nobody makes me do this, and people like you who seem to want it or see any value in it are few and far between. But that feeling of mild soiling is okay too, because its role in the cycle is to trigger a change of approach. If there's a run of that sensation, of sloppiness and of missing my own point, it slows me down and makes me look at what I'm doing, consider what I could do to get nearer to the point in the next pass around the racetrack.

Since I seem to have embarked on a minor manifesto or something, I might also just say that I sometimes feel a bit concerned that the markedly maudlin tendency of my blogging in recent months might cause readers, especially readers who I don't interact with in any other context, to feel worried about me. (Again, this is something I can't judge myself.) I don't want anyone to worry or be unhappy about me, no matter how much I talk about feeling sad. Sure I'm having a seriously shit time in my personal life, for reasons that I imagine must be pretty apparent by now to anyone who's been reading with any degree of attention. But I reckon that even if I was living a life of perfect happiness I might still be writing here in this introspective, intimate and mostly quite serious or earnest way, because that's the content that belongs with this form, for now at least. I still have a sense of humour and it finds expression elsewhere - Instagram, private conversations, daily life. I am still very interested in politics and Australian public affairs and I express those interests too, in other media and ways. Hopefully it won't long before I am able to rectify my circumstances and then perhaps I'll discover what I can write about and how I can write it.

Anyway, Fyodor, thank you again. Really, thanks for reading and for being a unique part of this, and my life, for such a long time x LC

Fyodor said...

Crikey. A manifesto was far more than I expected or deserved. You’re the best judge of what’s a good use of your time so if you feel a particular post didn’t hit the mark that’s your call to make. Relatedly, I think there’s often a large element of diary and self-talk in a blog like this; if you want to use your space to apologise to yourself because you want to do better etc. then it’s not my place to comment.

If, however, you feel obliged to apologise to your audience then I do question that sense of obligation, that an apology is warranted from you to the audience. How your audience views your work is up to them; you’re not responsible for how they receive your writing. If you don’t like something you’ve written, fair enough, but it’s presumptuous of you to second-guess the audience’s reaction. By that I mean I think you should have some trust and confidence in the audience’s agency to make up their own mind about your writing without deciding for them that an apology was necessary. Selfishly, I object to you encroaching upon my turf as reader by apologising for writing that I may want to valorise.

Speaking of which, regarding your last para and your concerns please be assured that if I praise your writing it’s not because I’m pissing in your pocket or flattering you because - let’s say - you’re perceived to be a delicate flower in need of jollying up. You should know me well enough to know that I’m not that kind or obsequious. If I say I like your writing it’s because I like your writing.

lucy tartan said...

Secondary apologies round (apologies for the first apologies) will commence punctually with the bell, tomorrow, Fyodor.

Whaddya mean, I'm not a delicate flower? I really am, you know. I'm like one of those peonies that unfurls itself to a riot of softness and colour and fragrant shadowy depths - but only after being crawled all over by ants.

Fyodor said...

I stand corrected. May your fragrant shadowy depths never be swarmed by more or less than the desired multitude of myrmidons.