Hello there... It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts! July, I think. So this time it'll be a quick update about the goings-on in my life and how they've influenced (and might continue to influence) this blog, followed by a short story I wrote for my creative writing class a couple weeks ago. Read it if you want. Or don't. It's your call. If you have constructive criticism, it's very welcome :)
The past half year or so, or actually nearly all of 2013, haven't exactly been the 'time of my life'. I knew I'd have to leave my old apartment (a room in a luxury hotel turned abandoned turned asylum-seeker housing turned abandoned and then taken over by squatters who were in turn chased out so it could be turned into cheap apartments for students) because it would, once more, be transformed back into a 5 star hotel (good luck with that, by the way...). It was my first apartment out of my parents' house, and I knew I'd have a hard time finding something similar when it comes to size, location, and prize. The apartment market in Zurich is notoriously terrible, especially if you're on a tight budget. I started looking in February and found something in August that I could have from October 1 onwards (but only until July 2014). Which means that from mid-April to the end of September I had to move back to my parents and commute to the city for work and classes.
As you can probably guess, moving back in with your parents after 2.5 years of independence is... not easy. I felt driven from the city I consider my home back to the 700-people village I grew up in. I lived out of boxes because I never knew whether I'd be moving again 2 weeks later because I found a place. I felt depressed (I've been on meds for about 5 years). I did nothing but work and read and do my university essays at the last second. I gained weight. I learned that I have a food intolerance for wheat and most aspartame, which was responsible for my constant fatigue. I let things slide. I let the blog slide. I let friendships slide. I let my studies slide, meaning I still got the credits needed but I half-assed things.
I'm trying to pick things up again and get moving. I'm at my new apartment which I love and will soon share with my sister. I like my new job. I enjoy the classes I'm taking. I'm trying to drop the weight. I've started on the research for my master thesis in English literature and am meeting with my supervisor next week. I'll have to move very fast if I want to graduate in the summer, but I hope I can make it if I get off my ass. Things aren't perfect, but I'm grateful for what I've got and I hope that with some initiative, I can get my life back on the track I felt it was on 2 years ago.
So... this is part of why this blog has been a lot of memes and not so many reviews. They take long to write (an hour minimum), and sometimes I'm just too tired in the evening, or I just couldn't be bothered, or I'd rather read or write on a story. Because I've been writing quite a lot, which I count as a positive sign.
The work on my MA thesis also means that I need to prioritize. So I can't say yet what will happen to this blog in the next weeks. My current idea is that I will get rid of some memes or only do them every other week, because the TTT posts take me hours to compile and the comment-answering also eats a lot of time. Instead, I hope I can make the blog more about reviews and discussions. Less posts but more quality, hopefully. But first, I'll have to see how things turn out when I really get serious with the thesis and the reading I'll have to do for it, which of course means less time for reading YA books.
I'm sorry if this was a bit mopey. I'm done moping now. I need to be doing things and working on what I really want. And I want to blog, too. So I'll just have to suck it up. And if I get all dark and brooding and languid, I'll have my sister to kick my ass. As soon as she's properly settled and we're done beautifying the place, I also want to do a shelf/house tour, maybe even as a vlog (my first ever). So I hope you guys stay tuned for that.
This is it for the facts. Now for those who made it till here - congrats. Here's your fiction. I hope you like it.
The following story was a task from creative writing class. We had to click 'random article' on wikipedia and write a story inspired by the first thing that turned up. Mine was David Lorrimer, a cricket player from the 1890s.
I have just discovered the sound I hate most in all the world. It’s a hollow thump followed by a quiet, dry trickling. It’s the sound of a shovel of earth hitting the lid of a coffin and slowly sliding down the sides. But it’s more than that, really. It’s also the quiet, dignified sniffling of women in black lace-trimmed dresses and somber hats, accompanied by the men’s suppressed coughing and the vicar’s deep, monotonous voice reciting a litany of words that fall upon my brain one at a time without connection or meaning.
I don’t cry. I feel too numb and uncomfortable for that. That’s my grandfather lying in that coffin down there, eyes closed, arms crossed over his chest. Its chest. The body’s. Because that’s all it really is – a hull. It doesn’t mean anything. None of this ceremonial business does. It’s not for him anyway – he always hated that pomp. It’s supposedly for grandmother, but it’s really more my father’s doing. A grand funeral for a once grand man. Once being the key word. It’s not 1894 anymore. David Lorrimer is no longer a first class cricket player. Hell, that was ten years before I was even born! My nails bite into my palms. I probably shouldn’t swear in front of an open grave, but it’s as if I swallowed liquid fire on an empty stomach.
How many shovels of earth does it take to cover a coffin and fill up a grave far enough so the mourners can disperse and leave the rest to the digger?! I’m shaking all over now. The clergyman is reciting a prayer, and I quickly fold my hands to stop their trembling and blend in with the black crowd. I would say it’s a great turnout for a funeral, if even half of them actually had any idea of who grandpa really was. Just because you saw him play on the wicket a couple times and shook his hand to congratulate him thirty years ago doesn’t give you the right to show up here and ‘express your deepest sympathies for my loss’!
And it begins, the stream of suits and silk and veils passing by my family, the handshaking and shoulder patting. The affectedly grief-stricken looks and empty words. I want to turn on my polished heels and run, but I’m twenty, not twelve, and I ‘should start acting my age’. So I give the required sad smile and send them on their way to pile into the row of black cars waiting on the other side of the cemetery fence.
“Come on, Dave. It’s time to go.” Yes, father. Time for the grand dinner you decided to host in Leicester’s best hotel, in memoriam of David Lorrimer, cricket player.
“I’m staying,” I hear myself say.
“Don’t be difficult now, son.” His voice is meant to cow and threaten, he towers over me even though we are the same height. “You will not embarrass me in this way.” His hand is a claw coming down on my shoulder, holding me in place at his side. I can’t feel my feet as he steers me and mother across the graveyard and through the gate. I duck into the backseat of the car, scooting over to the other door. Mother gets in beside me while father takes the seat next to the driver. The car rumbles to life; my hand tightens on the door handle. Just as we take off, I propel myself through the door and slam it behind me.
I run. I don’t turn at father’s angry shouting. I don’t care about losing my hat to the brisk autumn wind or that my coattails are flapping behind me like black sails as I tear down the street. The fire in my stomach is fanned by every lungful of air rushing in, and the beat of my shoes against the pavement is liberating.
My breath is ragged by the time I reach Braunstone Park, but I keep going until I get to the pond. I sink down on a bench and the glittering water blurs in front of my eyes. I can almost smell the tobacco, hear his humming as he’s stuffing the pipe. Everyone always spoke of and remembered his glory days. No one else seemed to notice how he always got quiet when they mentioned it. They took his silence as a sign that he was humble, when really he was “just sick to the bones of hearing ‘em all gabbing on about it.” He was a batsman for the Leicestershire Foxes for about two years. Two, out of sixty. Like the thirty years since then were just a lengthy epilogue to the story of a life whose main event was over.
When he told me stories, it was always about other parts of his life. His boarding school days, when I was afraid on the evening before my first term there. His time in college when I enrolled at his alma mater. He taught me how to cheat at cards and which pub near campus served the best whiskey. He also told me when to fold at the gambling table, though I didn’t always listen.
They didn’t know any of these things. They didn’t know that in return, I’d taken him to the jazz clubs and he’d actually enjoyed the music. They didn’t know he’d occasionally contributed to several local newspapers under a nom de plume. Those who unknowingly read his columns would wonder where they went for a month or two, then shrug and move on.
And just like that, he’d slide into obscurity, like a coffin being lowered down into the dark. Apart from those two years of his life that, on the whole, didn’t hold much significance for him.
I probably shouldn’t be so upset about this. It’s the way things go. I won’t be the one to step up and tell them all about the other side of him in an angry tirade.
It’s just that I feel unmoored, like a log that had been anchored to the roots of a gnarly tree and was suddenly cut loose, spinning without direction. Because what I’m really afraid of, the fear that curls at the bottom of my stomach those nights when I lie awake to the sound of my roommate’s snoring, is that when the thump hits my wooden box, there will be no so-called glory days to be remembered at all.
So... as I said at the beginning, some opinions on the story would make my day, no matter whether they're positive or negative - just please tell me why you liked/hated it.
Comments on the 'facts' part are of course also welcome. In case of me having to reduce the posts even more, which ones would you like me to continue and which ones to be less frequent? Is more reviews/discussions and less WoW/TTT/StS okay? Or would you like a TTT every week?