Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fucking versus Making Love

Superlatively Rude
I didn’t know I was having bad sex.

I thought I was having very good sex, actually.

I was an unbridled, uninhibited, sexual adventuress, unconstrained by taboo and willing to experiment, to push boundaries, to go that little bit further in pursuit of liberation and revolution. My ankles were looped around my neck and I left with bruises that lasted a week, and so, I reasoned, it must be good. Samantha Jones told me so. I got off on compliments about my oral skills and flexibility, because (urgh, this is mortifying) mostly sex had been about my ego.

The thrill of the chase; the build up; the seduction.

The actual naked bit was largely incidental.

That I could do it was better that actually doing it.


Sometimes I’d orgasm and sometimes I wouldn’t. Occasionally I’d fake it. Almost always I’d keep my emotional distance, and seldom would I see him again. I’d never get attached.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

What I’ve Unlearned In My Twenties

Superlatively Rude
Here’s the deal: right now I am working with kids, and I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed that the older the student, the more fearful they are in the classroom. Of learning. Of putting themselves out there, making mistakes, and doing it differently next time. My teenagers would rather sit in stupefied silence than risk the humiliation of forming an imperfectly pronounced sentence, but my six year-olds couldn’t give a shit that “GAME GOOD, TEACHER! GAME GOOD!” is about as far from syntax perfection as Kim Kardashian West is from her clothes* so long as they get what they want in the end (namely, a rollicking good time. Holla!).

*which I am all for, by the way.

My point: there’s a shit-ton of stuff I learned growing up that I’m spending my twenties trying to unlearn. Didn’t Picasso say something insightful about how it takes a very long time to become young? Related: WE TEACH OURSELVES OUR LIMITATIONS, YOU GUYS. I started to write the following manifesto as a notebook entry, but to hammer it home I wanted to make a public declaration of it.

Here’s what I’m unlearning:

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

One Week In

Superlatively Rude
They’re cold people, aren’t they – the Russians? Unsmiling and serious; trained killers from birth. Private, untrustworthy, capitalistic. Unsympathetic.

And that’s why I was feeling so very many things on the way home from school, strapped in next to the son of the Russian Literature teacher and speeding down the winding, bendy roads that led from the town to deep in the forest.

“It’s like driving to Father Christmas’s house,” I’d said, on my first night there, wide-eyed and jet-lagged. The town is named after the birch tree, and they stand like a Trojan army, tall and proud, packed in tightly and daring us to penetrate them. They’re stronger for the cold, for the snow, and after the vastness of never-ending Siberian land outside it’s intimidating and dark, threatening with secrets deeper within.

He said something in incomprehensible Russian and adjusted the car heaters. That was what did it. What made the lump stick in my throat. The vested interest in my comfort, in my happiness. To this man, this stranger, it was so very important to him that I be happy. It is to all of them.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

In Transit, Moscow Airport

Superlatively RudeMy heart has been beating faster this week. Sporadically. Belly somersaulting at funny, off-kilter moments. I’ve been sleeping just fine but my dreams haven’t been good. Too many faces from the past, saying out loud the worst fears I have about myself.

I used to cry when I travelled. Ten years ago I left school with not much of a plan other than to piss off my high school sweetheart. He was headed through Europe with his best friend, inter-railing, and thought I’d wait patiently behind for his return. Instead I booked a plane ticket to Colombo, only looking up where, exactly, Sri Lanka is, afterwards. We were in a train station in Paris when I told him what I’d done and I still remember the look on his face. That feeling of empowerment ended the moment I flew and couldn’t stop sobbing. I came home early. The man at passport control said, why did you extend your visa if you didn’t want to stay?

I tried, I told him.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

I Resolve This Much

Laura Jane Williams
Last night I went to a reading of The Opposite of Loneliness. Do you know Marina Keegan? A Yale graduate who died in a car crash two weeks after she walked the commencement stage, in 2012, 22 years-old, a job at The New Yorker waiting for her and her boyfriend in the driving seat, whose parents assembled her work posthumously

Her high school English teacher read. Her college best friend read. The girl she grew up with read. A boy she met sailing at ten years old, and the au pair she had at five years old -- they read, too.

Her mother, sparkly eyes and a smile that dropped just the other side of okay when you weren’t looking, told stories of her attitude and her aspirations. Her sass and her hopes. Her car. Her love. Her life. Her father, fondness on his face, missing her in his ever-moving hands, as if he were trying to grapple, hold on, to something nobody else could see, said he cried when he read the pieces on memories they’d made together. He laughed as he remembered her belligerence out loud. Her politics. Her questions.

Marina Keegan was in that room with us last night. She was in the hearts of every single body in attendance. Her energy was palpable.

Shit, I thought. I can’t imagine what mum and dad would be like if they were ever – touch wood, God forbid – hurtled into such circumstance. My eyes pooled at the consideration, heart skipped double-quick time. Maybe it’s true what they say about death being mostly about the living.

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