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long entry
2003-01-12 - 7:37 p.m.

Here's that stuff I was too lazy to type up before.

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Just now I was sobbing and it surprised me. I finished reading “The Honorary Consul” and it moved me a great deal. I think maybe now this is my favourite book. It provoked so many thoughts – here are a few:

-love is a cruel and arbitrary thing

-Maybe Z is a better person than I am

-My heart…

..I started to feel really bad about the way I treated J and S. I thought about who I loved. This business of love… I thought about AMM, too how strange it was to have loved her so much, to have had so much happiness by her. I think maybe I did the wrong thing going to Cx, and I gave something to AMM that should have gone to J. I never wrote any poetry for J; I started one poem but never finished it. I was so proud of what I wrote Amber; there was quite a lot of it. I was very concerned that it should be good poetry. Doubtless it wasn’t much technically, but there was real feeling in it. But I’m avoiding the issue. I thought about my mother. I remembered the fierce love I felt for her as a little boy; the total devotion I had in my little heart, and how much I wanted to please her, to make her happy.

At that age every day matters. It’s a tragedy as well as a mercy that this changes as you get older. Now a week will go by where I have not even a flicker of genuine emotion, and it does not surprise me at all. Boredom and loneliness are the principal ingredients in my life, now at 26, and for however much longer I live I expect that their predominance will only grow. Perhaps I have some hope that I will be able to live in peace with them, as time goes on, but I do not expect them to abate or disappear. The clock goes one way only.

But the clock moved very much more slowly when the principal ingredients of my life were love and anxiety. A very rich and varied recipe, mind you, but the strongest feelings of all were love for my parents – for my quiet, gentle father, who I loved to listen to as he explained things. It was always a shock of delight to understand some new thing – I would sit and gaze at him adoringly as he slowly and patiently explained what algebra was, or Pythagoras’ theorem, or something else mathematical. I think perhaps mathematics was his first love, and I was the first person he had a chance to share that love with.

And my mother. My mother was the whole world. As far back as I can remember, she had always been there. Life is so cruel. I loved her and she loved me, I know she did, I’m sure she really did. But she had already grown up when I appeared. Of course. Perhaps having a child allows the parent to visit the garden of youth for a few hours, to rediscover their deligt in simple and childish things, but not for long. The adult is just visiting. The adult remains an adult.

I made drawings and showed them to her. This cuts at my heart to think of it. I would sit with pencil and paper for such long stretches, for an eternity, making some picture to show her, and then she would glance at it and say, “that’s nice, dear. Mummy’s busy right now.” Well of course! This is the cruel result of the mismatch of time – I would spend an age away from her, consoled only by the thought that all my hard work would make her happy and proud, as I knew my drawings could, but she – from her side of the chasm of time, she was being pestered to look at yet another drawing every twenty minutes! For years I must have laid these demands on her! How utterly boring! How fed up she must have been! How much irritation she must have suppressed in order to be able to muster the “that’s nice” that wounded my sensitive pride so much!

And she hit me. Back when everything mattered, back when my heart was open, when every hour of every day was another vista of possibility, so vast I had no idea what to do with it. She hit me and she hit my sisters and she made us cry and she told us we were worthless garbage, we were shit, she hated us, we made her want to vomit, we were disgusting, boring, weak, pathetic… “Oh for god’s sake stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!” “I wish you’d just take it like a man!”

A moment ago I felt something that reminded me of crying like that. My face contorted out of my control, hot tears flowed over the skin of my face and my chest convulsed with the pain of it, the sadness that was so huge and so awful that I couldn’t contain it… but just now it happened, just like that, and then it was gone. I was alive for a second and that was enough to get me writing. To try and take advantage of the break before the great tides of boredom and loneliness come washing in again…

…but back then of course when I cried I cried with my whole body, my whole heart and soul was in it and it went on forever. I couldn’t stop myself. When she threatened to hit me again unless I stopped then I would strive desperately to get it under control for fear of it happening again… but how could I control it? “It!” “It” is me! I am that miserable red-faced mess of snot and tears that can’t control itself! I am that loud, that embarrassingly loud wail that is repeated and repeated and repeated…

…I knew she’d do it, too, because she’d done it before. Hit me again while I was crying to make me stop. Do you remember what that’s like? The incredible shock, the incredible pain of that first blow so overwhelming that you can’t even think, your body just takes over and goes into the convulsion of grief… and just as that convulsion is beginning to feel small enough that you can imagine it ending, you can hope for it to be over, WHACK! The pain cuts through it again, unexpected, so shocking all over again…

…I don’t need to explain, do I, that I still loved her? I would sulk afterwards, of course, I would hate her and want to punish her but in an hour or two it had all gone. I would be frantic with boredom again. I needed her, I needed her to approve of me, I needed her to love me. It was impossible to go on hating her. She was the whole world.

I think the day I decided that I didn’t love her anymore was the beginning, the origin of the semi-human, loveless thing that I am now. This is what I was thinking of when I started thinking about J; I have managed to turn the tables. I have made someone love me, made them abandon themselves completely to my care, and then treated them with total indifference. Revenge on womankind, because of my mother.

But what started me sobbing was this: I still have inside me, after all this time, that feeling of being a crumpled-up drawing that six-year-old has poured his heart into. Something that had so much feeling given to it turned into a piece of rubbish because of someone’s indifference. But I realise now that my mother, the reason she hit me, the reason she called me shit, was that she had that same feeling inside her. She felt that she was a torn-up piece of garbage that nobody could love.

And then I started sobbing because she’s nearly sixty now and I know she’s still got it, she’s still got that fucked-up feeling inside her and you should see her now because she doesn’t look like the woman who was the whole world to me anymore. She is small and frail and thin and her hair is turning grey and her face is lined and she looks so weak, so helpless, and all I can think when I see her is that it won’t be long now before she dies. Maybe another ten years, or twenty, but at the rate time passes now, well that’s hardly a month in seven-years-old terms. That’s what had me sobbing, the thought of this sad, weak old lady, still hating herself after all these years, still carrying this stupid, awful burden, and without any hope…

…she’s going to carry it into the grave with her. I think of her lying in the coffin, a body that’s carried so much misery for seventy years, seventy fucking miserable years, and I thought, what we get, the love that we get, it isn’t much, is it, not on that scale, it’s so small…

I stopped writing for a moment because I was crying and now I don’t think I can really start again, although there’s more… it’s funny, there’s more to explain from five minutes of thinking than I can write in an hour. But read “The Honorary Consul”, by Graham Greene. I think maybe it’s my favourite book.

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"I can bring whole cities to ruin

And still find time to get a soft-shoe in" - Joss Whedon, the demon's song from "Once More With Feeling"


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