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3/16/16 10:30 pm - magnolia blossoms




it's curious how there always seem to be more fictional moments, more impossible days and weeks and months.

you forget, you get lost in the routine of it, forget how miraculous that routine actually is, but then every now and then you wake up, look around and realise how strange it is that all this is real, that this is where you are.

that happened today, I was walking to the shops after work and it struck me. oxford said yes, my college said yes, I came here and it was easier than I'd dared to hope. my flatmates are sweet and so are my coursemates, I've been a fool in some classes and less so in others, but overall, this system suits me better than any previous one ever did, the tiny seminars, one-on-one discussions with tutors, everyone getting all excited over their topics. and social things, too, sweet people who will rant and take long walks with you and exchange book recs and moan over swiftly approaching deadlines over coffee.

and there are the ridiculous, impossible, utterly fictional oxford things that I thought couldn't exist: the long dinners, candlelit chapels and rooms, water in silver cups, ancient bible fragments, priceless reliefs from three thousand years ago, port and snuff, someone telling a fun story about the time the queen came for dinner, secret doors that look like bookcases (!), cloisters in the sunlight, terribly sweet porters, chats with classics professors and neuroscience students and coffee by a 15th century fireplace.

and there's the strange impossible ease of it -- the term ended last week, I got my (probably poor...) essay in with the aid of a friend and gave someone a couple of folders and saved their day. and my college gave me a grant to go to japan in april for my dissertation, and my adviser offhandedly offered me a job for the break. and my flatmate caught me in the hallway and asked if I'd like to go to rome and venice with her, and--well, why not? what could be more cliché than that?
what lovely fiction.

and so today I was walking to the city centre after having spent most of the day in the college library where I moved piles and piles of 19th century journals and listened to three librarians and two archivists try to figure out a gift for another librarian who's leaving, someone mentioning a sword they'd been given and another person suggesting they could have him draw it out of a stone. (in the end they settled for a beautiful facsimile of some anglo-saxon manuscripts and a book on our ancient papyri (which may be the oldest codex fragments in existence)) at some point they mentioned someone called v at which point the older archivist -- who was sitting on the floor because there weren't enough chairs and he decided the carpet was comfortable -- turned to me and in his perfectly posh accent said, "that's his girlfriend. her name is veronica but everyone calls her v." which really sounded like a narrator's clarification in a film, more than anything.

and as we were shelving the books, the dean of divinity came by because he was worried he might get to the end of next term without having been to the library, and one of the workmen who are still finishing up the main section of the library came by to ask how old the books were with this utterly astounded expression.

and so, yes, today I walked through the city centre and thought how strange it is, how this was supposed to be hard and painful, how this was supposed to be a struggle, and-- no. it's lovely, is what it is. my limbs ache from all those books I've carried and it's a good ache, the feeling of having done something real. tomorrow I'll go back for an hour since that's all my contract allows. then I'll head to another library, read for my next essay and hope I find the fire I know is there. in a few weeks, I'll be in italy, and in a few more, in osaka.
and then I'll return to this impossible place.

oh, one more thing.

I stopped to take a picture of the magnolia blooming by radcliffe camera. a woman came up to me but I couldn't hear what she said through my headphones. I took them off and she asked what the tree was called. I told her. she said they have magnolias in spain, too, but with much bigger flowers, some as big as her head, she gestured. she said she'd had her picture taken like that, with a flower as big as her head. I said that was amazing, said something about the climate maybe having something to do with the size. she quickly said these were pretty, too. I agreed. then she abruptly apologised. I wish I could've responded better, all I said was there was no need to be sorry at all, wished her a lovely day. what I wanted to say was that it was the sweetest thing, such beautiful fiction. a spanish tourist coming up to you to tell that there was a picture of her with a magnolia flower the size of her head.
how wonderful is that?

4/30/15 04:54 am - one foolish dream

it is not an easy thing, journalling. or keeping in touch. I've been dutifully scribbling in a paper journal lately, and forgetting to check my inbox.

I suppose part of the reason is that so much of this time has been spent waiting. waiting for graduation, for application deadline, for a response, for a second one, to get a job interview, to get a job. there is plenty of time for writing while you're waiting, of course, but much less to write about. especially since for me, the things I am waiting for seem to be mirages, or worse yet, foolish foolish dreams, scarcely fit to be shared. and then I gradually start to believe that I'm waiting for nothing at all, that moss will grow like a blanket over me as I wait and wait and wait and forget how to move altogether.

but it all goes in waves. and so I start as a medical transcriptionist next week - there's no summer job I've loved more than that, it's like a guilty pleasure affair with medicine, doctors' words in my ears, all those stories at my fingertips. tonight I'm finishing up a translation project, kepler&newton&brahe&titius, planetary motions&two-body problems&formulas I never encountered in physics class.

and hopefully hopefully I can keep listening to those doctors until autumn. and then and then and then.

the mirage that still looks like one, even if I have two offers, black on white. as I said, I don't like to share my foolish dreams. and so I find things I've written years and years ago, words meant for my eyes only, and there that foolish dream is, written quickly, eyes averted, never spoken of.

even now, it feels embarrassing because it's so strange.

but it all goes in waves. I'm in finland again, my spring sharp&void of flower petals, yesterday's rain turning into sleet towards the evening. and come autumn, I'll fly across the continent again. not to scotland, this time. (though oh my goodness how I miss scotland.) england. oxford.

dreaming spires, sandstone walls, little rivers, all those books, all that history.

it seems impossible. but there was an offer, a day before my birthday, from the university of oxford. and then, a month or two later, from magdalen college. magdalen, where oscar wilde&bosie were students once upon a time, schrödinger a fellow, where thousands of people will gather to listen to the choir sing from the tower on may morning, magdalen with its deer park & meadows & riverside walks.

surely it's only a mirage? surely it will evaporate as soon as I reach out my hand?

6/1/14 04:40 pm - goodbye, & hello life


5/5/14 03:06 am - or vanish from a road somewhere

spring crept here once more and suddenly the streets are covered in pink and white petals like scented stage snow. these springs are very different from the ones I grew up with. nordic springs are all about the blinding light that finally, finally arrives and everyone is a magnifying glass that catches that light and sets the dry ground on fire. terrible springs that shatter you, that feel like swallowing glass, that feel like being reborn.

here it is softer, sweeter, warmth gradually thawing your frozen bones, a reminder what all that endless rain does when everything, everything is suddenly green & alive. and then, of course, all those blossoming trees, a spectacle that always seems awfully indulgent to me, although ever so lovely.

I could not tell which spring I prefer. sometimes I miss that cruel light shredding me apart and mercilessly revealing all the darkest corners, but then I inhale the scent of the earth & the flowers & the humid air.

there is one thing both of these springs do, without a fail. they cause my restlessness and wanderlust to grow until I can no longer contain. and the fool that I am, there is nothing sweeter than to give in.

this year it seemed ever so simple: highlands, a walk to edinburgh & climbing arthur's seat at last, a spring day or two in london in the steps of mrs. dalloway, a cheap bus to paris & staying with an artist friend.

and then, for some reasons that evaporated right away, I thought: new york. but of course such things aren't possible simply on a whim. to kill this silly thought, I checked flights and went, "oh... oh. crap." and so it goes and so it goes.

this morning the air was soft and humid and there was a white mist and it felt like being in the tropical room of a botanic garden. now I'm on a bus and the clouds hang low over the hills and fields. london tonight and then and then...

I've travelled outside of europe only once and never to that side of the atlantic and never that far.


(even the lowest hills are enveloped in clouds. it feels quite unearthly. and now everything is disappearing into a white mist, as though a map was being erased.)

11/15/13 03:40 am - but a will-o'-the-wisp

today I told someone that it's always darkest before the dawn, that it is everything before now that has brought him here, that one day his hard work will bring him to that place of his dreams whose name he does not know (even if he thinks he does).

today he told me that I'm on the other side of that dark, that I'm shining. that when he graduates, he wants to give a speech of how I was there to inspire him, to keep him going.

it is a terrible thing, because the thing is that he doesn't know me well enough to see more than my outlines. I know I look like a ray. I've always been a flame, rather than a moth. it's just that I'm not on the other side of the dark but in the midst of it. I'm up to my waist in that swamp, and I don't think I can make it out. I'm too in love with the way that darkling of mine envelopes me. but if I can be the will-o'-the-wisp that leads people like him to the other side, I would be ever so happy. let me be that flicker of light. let me shine that much.

I only hope that he'll forgive me when I burn out, when I let my darkness swallow me. I only hope he'll understand that I was only a moon to suns like him. it was only his own light that he saw, all along.

9/11/13 11:39 pm

oh what sweet fiction life is offering me.

last spring, I had some trouble finding a place to live this school year and stumbled across an ad that mentioned friendly Jack Russell terriers. being the practical person that I am, I was sold. (well, the fact that the place was perfect for me in all other ways helped, too. but mostly it was the terriers.) I expected no reply to my email and got a terribly sweet one. in the place of a "we have plenty of other people interested in the place, so we'll be in touch." I got a "you don't have to decided right away if you'd like have some time to consider." ("um, if you'll have me, I'd love to live here" was the only reply I could muster) and an utterly skewed view of what renting a place is like.

in the summer I got a lovely email saying that everything's ready for me and the dogs will welcome me warmly.

I've been here for two days now, and... oh.

my room is huge and quite chilly, there's wooden shutters on the windows, a bookcase full of everything from London: A History in Verse to Joyce Carol Oates, plenty of Brontë and James Joyce, Donne, the complete works of Shakespeare, and the book I got from Marrakesh because it is needed in any book-filled room, Books Do Furnish a Room. there used to be a fireplace and now there's an electric fire, there's a walk-in closet with the owners' daughter's growth mark still visible from underneath a layer of paint. there's Latin inscriptions on the footstool, there's birds on the curtains and blankets and duvets so thick in the bed that I felt like a child in a British children's book when I crawled underneath them, like someone from The Famous Five or The Chronicles of Narnia or whatnot.

the dogs will come greet me whenever I cross the hallway. the younger lets me give her tummy rubs and the older carefully snuffles about. there's a budgie in my small kitchen whose song and tweeting I can hear to my room - named Bird, possibly a phoenix. I have an entrance through the garden, there's an old apple tree whose apples are not very tasty, a stone wall, much of greenery, and a night club at the back. it's quiet here; going through the gate takes you to another world, there's music drifting out, people having a fag or calling someone, having passionate & inebriated conversations.

my department is free of its scaffolding and looks like a little old church once more. my dissertation will be full of apples dripping with poison (or knowledge, was it), hungry mouths & powerless rulers & mirror images. there's a cheese shop, several cafés, a vintage shop and a store with beautiful fruit and veggies glowing in the boxes outside a minute's walk away.

I had dinner with the owners of the house, and, oh. she's a writer, he's a lawyer, they both work with the university. they told tales of visiting poets in small Scottish towns, dinner parties with journalists, such things. and yet they are so, so kind and sweet and accepting, and... just lovely. we spoke of stem cell research, of end-of-life issues, of theatre, of doctors as writers, of white nights in St Petersburg, of a village where dementia patients can feel like they're in the fifties, of a pianist who lost most of his memory but not his ability to play. and I told them of all the trees in Helsinki, of the sea everywhere, of the Finnish longing to always be elsewhere. there was quiche and wine and espresso served in gorgeous delicate china. I got a programme for the theatre (they're going to see Crime and Punishment and oh, I must, too, at some point) and an invitation to go on a quiet morning walk in the Botanics with the dogs sometime.

now it is getting late. I must close my window shutters and crawl beneath my mountains of blankets (down pillows, of course). I feel like I'm dreaming. I am a librarian's daughter, from the wrong side of the town, someone who makes her decisions based on what strangers tell her at five in the morning, on the sweetness of the idea of having animals around. what a beautiful fiction I've been given, once more.

(oh and also: hello. it has been forever. if there's anyone still out there, how are you today? how have you been? is there anything you'd like to talk about?)

7/2/12 07:50 pm - towards the light

It's been a long time. I suppose the reason why is pretty simple: I was happy. The stories didn't need to be written down - they were lived. I never understood how lucky I was until now. (Of course, of course.)

The short version: my obsessive and twisted romantic 'friendship' grew into an unexpectedly gentle and warm love. My first love. Over two years of gentleness and soft light and warmth and dreams of years happy and safe like that. I know, I know it wasn't perfect but it's hard to remember that right now. All I can see is my uncertainty, my fears, my insecurity as shadows, though there must have been other ones, too. I keep thinking, if only I had another chance, I would be so much better, I would live in the moment, I'd make every day count. Is that true? Perhaps. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it still wouldn't work that way.

And the worst thing is that I don't know any specific why. Was it something I did? Was it just a way it happened? Were my fears realised because I kept obsessing over them, or because somewhere deep down I knew? Of course, a why doesn't really matter. It's just that I'm still so tangled, that I'm still so in love, that I just want to find a way to make everything alright. There are moments of sense, of hope, but no rational thought can make me fall out of love. (I feel like nothing will; after all, I'm dramatic, and I've grown up with wounded people, my grandmother still missing her husband who's been dead for over twenty years, my mother's relationships a mystery, far gone, no longer pursued, my father in love with someone else when I was born -- and plenty of fiction.) I've never had my heart broken before, so it feels like the end of the world. I just want to be with her, I just want everything to be okay. But there is little I can do about that.

Instead, there's only one thing I can do: become happy. It won't be easy. I've never been as happy as when I was with her, so the mere idea feels daunting, but the thing is that before we got together, I didn't even know I was capable of loving someone or being loved. I'd told myself it would never happen to me, but it did. But now I need to be happy in a way where my happiness isn't dependent on anyone else. I want to be loved and love, terribly much so, but I can't rely on anyone else to be my happiness. I need to do it myself. And the thing is: the reason for my wanderlust, my restlessness, why I flew across the sea to go to university, all of that, is because there is that part of me that finds joy and happiness in those things, in everything new, trying to find my place in the world. I generally don't plan ahead, and I didn't realise that I'd grown to rely on this love, on those dreams so much. (And the thing is, very often I did not dare to believe them, not really, but I suppose that somewhere deep down I did, after all.) So now I need to start again from the very beginning. Find new dreams, new stories, new light. Become happy.

So how are you? Do you have any advice? What is making you happy?

3/6/12 01:36 am - caught in the symmetry of your mind



(banner by dallowayward )

comment to be added~
 

12/31/09 11:59 pm - this is a story

once upon a time...

fiction in 2009Collapse )

12/31/08 11:08 pm - fiction is love

More dreams to remember.

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