Pieces

superlativelyrude

An incomplete list of things that are mostly inconvenient but all true, apropos values, and how they change.

- I self-identify as a documentarian. A sort of variation on a memoirist. I want to write things down as a way of taking their picture and framing them. To capture something. But I'm not a "writer". I'm just a human.

- To that end, what I do decide to chronicle has an agenda, and that agenda is mine, and changes, and is dressed in the sure knowledge that every narrator is unreliable. The eye does not see, it transmits. And it transmits to an information processor, the complicatedly simple brain, that is ladened with feelings and past hurts and triumphs and feelings, and thus is a biased motherfucker.

- Living out loud isn’t a character defect...

- ...But the best plan is to just do good work and shut up. That says more than I can, anyway.

- I have a list of regrets that I try to shed a little more light on every goddamn day. A chronicle of shitty things I have done, and shitty things I have tolerated, and humiliations on both sides because of it. But you’d better believe those things have been my best teachers – or, at least, the most vociferous ones. I’m only an asshole if I don’t learn from them. 
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Rome (II)

superlatively rude
(part one for this story is here.)

The thing about Italy is that she makes you feel seen. The cafe you've been to three mornings in a row is your cafe, now. They know which pastry you'll order and how you like an aqua frizzante with your cappuccino and after a week you're part of the gang. You’ll know that because the owner’s wife will finally answer when you stumble over asking her, again, come va oggi, signora? How’s it going today, madam? Your caveman Italian comes back to you in rewarding bursts. You’re not as rusty as you think you are.

You’ll email the family who once hosted you, a summer long ago, when you were younger and greener and only just becoming, saying, Hi! Do you remember me? I’m in town until September! and a note will come immediately back insisting that you come to dinner tomorrow night, is 7.45 p.m. okay? You’ll marvel at how they pick up with you. Easy, light, fun. Togetherness for the sake of togetherness. You’ll be flattered when they tell you that you look more like an Italian woman every year, and laugh when they remember how you always leave the tiniest mouthful on your plate, always pushed to one side. They’ll let their touch linger on your forearm after you’ve double-kissed goodbye (right cheek first, always) and it will make you feel loved and valued and treasured and you’ll resolve, right then, to pass that feeling along. To take that Italian-ness with you.

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Rome (I)

superlatively rude
(part two to this story is here.)

“Two months in Rome on your own?” she said to me. “But… but won’t you get lonely?” The thought hadn’t crossed my mind until then. I don’t mean to sound like a Tumblr thread celebrating the virtues of introversion when I say: I’m used to it. Being alone. But since I happen to be quite fantastic company I’m seldom lonely. There is a difference. Plus, Rome and I have this thing going on. We’re not exactly committed to each other, but we definitely hook up when I’m in town. And then she does something to fuck it all up again and I hate her as much as I ever did. It’s complicated, with Rome and me. I often think that’s mostly my fault, though. Actually - it’s definitely my fault.

Let me start at the beginning.

Let me start at the beginning because I’m better at beginnings than anything else. The story of my life is firework openings and whimpering finishes, and so nothing ever feels clear-cut. I’m built to live in the grey area, I think. The “dot, dot, dot…” zone. The story always has possibility for one more chapter. But because beginnings are my thing I can tell you with certainty that it started with the trees. That’s what I remember: tree-lined streets that seemed grand and romantic and deliberately designed to frame a life that could be exactly that. Exactly what I dreamed my adult life could be. I was sixteen years and two months, and resolved, firmly, somewhere off of Piazza del Popolo, that I’d be back. I saw a whole future unfold for me. I’d become a woman in Rome. I wasn’t sure how, but I would.

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Insta-Shaming

superlativelyrude

It’s impossible to ignore a rapidly increasing trend for Insta-shaming snowballing across websites and print publications right now. 

This past week alone I’ve read five articles - and angrily skipped over countless others - on how we’re all psychopathically curating an online show reel of Pinterest-styled, vacation-going, prosecco-cocktail-drinking and brunch-eating lives that conveniently leave out the acne break-out, relationship arguments and overdue rent check parts of our lives. We’re presenting all sparkle and no struggle, we’re told, and so shame on us for lying to the wider world that way. We’re monsters. Ego-fuelled Frankensteins building “online brands” based on flagrant self-promotion, and we’re doing it because everyone else is. Oh, and we’re collectively miserable because of it.

On the flipside, this past week I have happily photographed and edited three parts of my life – a new pair of shoes, a particularly good eyeliner day, and a dad/daughter trip – that I later felt shamed out of sharing on Instagram because those moments were, somehow, too positive.

I find myself on a version of the Internet where I feel constantly policed. 

Wanna know something insane?

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Tethered

superlatively rude

What I think about, now, is that she didn’t have to come back and tell me. I’d loved talking with them, this couple in their sixties, listening to their stories about how they were in Iraq on 9/11, met the Dalai Lama way back when, cycled through Turkey for months living off of £35 a week between them. She’d forced a lump into my throat and a scratch to my eye when she’d said goodbye in the cafe, touching my arm to say, “Laura, it’s so wonderful to meet a young person like you, living a life they love. Good luck.”

I was looking out over the water, drinking my cooling chai and giving a little prayer of thanks that somebody should remind me of these blessed, lucky days, when I felt her presence return, hovering over my shoulder. I looked up and smiled.

“You see, just to tell you,” she said, leading from the middle of a story that I wasn’t sure, now, I’d understood the beginning of, “I have terminal brain disease. They gave me five years to live.”

“I wanted to say: do it all whilst you can, you know? Like you are doing. You don’t know when your time is up.”

* 
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