Hello. It’s been a year. 

I just wanted you to know that it’s been a year since you went from being my whole world to being just another pin in my atlas. And I’m doing fine, the chords running through my life are now laced with gold, not soot. 

It’s been a year and I hope you’re okay, and that you’ve been able to scrape the ash off your hands. 

I hope you rediscovered your softness. 

I hope when you think of me, that your thoughts have no sharp edges. 

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You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do To Get Your Degree, Boo.

Today I graduated from University with my (first) degree. I wore orange to match my hood, and ankle boots that were just high enough to reach my goal of wearing heels to my graduation. I woke up early, straightened my hair, contoured my face, shaved my legs, and then donned the good ol’ traditional cap and gown. I wore my cap backwards for a good few hours, and my hood kept slipping off my non-existent little shoulders, but it is nice to feel like I have something to show for the three years of all-nighters I just pulled. I had my 10 seconds of fame on stage, my head was tapped by the vice-dean, I forgot to smile for my photograph, and at the end of the day I have a foiled certificate, a detailed copy of my academic record (yikes!), and a generic key-chain with the words “UP ALUMNI” stamped across it in what I’m pretty sure is Arial pt 12 font. Arial is the font I have to type all my essays in, so why they’d choose such a triggering layout is beyond me.

Apparently it was supposed to feel strange. The ceremony was about 6 months after my final exam, so it makes sense that it would be a reminder for some people of the compatriots, and the campus they have left behind. I decided to take my degree further by completing my Honours year. So for me graduation was less of a reminder of the blessed student life I used to have (because my life is STILL #blessed) and more of a nice day off from tutoring and studying, with the added bonus of having my immediate family focus all their attention on me. 

The one thing graduation did for me though, is it made me reflect on how much growth I’ve experienced throughout my undergrad years.

If we look at the first blog post I wrote in my first month 1st year , I spend an awful lot of time discussing all the “strange” things that had happened to me in that month. These included:

  • Singing Afrikaans karaoke (Don’t test me on Loslappie now: I KNOW THESE LYRICS)
  • Meeting sneaky racists (Everyone in Pretoria is either a full blown racist, or totally against racism…there is no such thing as a “Sneaky Racist” in Pretoria)
  • Being offered weed (Wow girl…you were LIVING)
  • Being offered an electric toothbrush (First year Harriet was clearly sheltered and unaware of what all-nighters can do to a person. I am the one offering electric toothbrushes now. IT’S ME.)

I was 18, stupid, and completely mind-fucked by all the freedom I suddenly possessed. I thought drinking booze straight from the bottle was cool, that kissing strangers in sticky clubs was exciting (thank you Hook-up Gods for keeping all the venereal diseases away from me), and that I would never find another man like my high school boyfriend of two months (I still haven’t, and thank God).

At the end of that silly, silly blog post I sign off with a little “I have a tertiary education to attempt.” And wow, was that education attempted.

Despite the failed module towards the end of 2nd year, the 3 distinctions I managed to scrape up on the way, the countless calls home to my mother, panicking over the fact that I may have chosen the wrong thing to study, and the many, many, many all-nighters…the real education came in the form of life experiences.

I wish I could go back in time and meet January 2014 Harriet. I wish I could sit her on my lap, rock her back and forth, stroke her hair and tell her, “Holy shit kid, you’re just getting started. There’s a whole universe of people and experiences and happiness out there to take hold of. You’re going to come out of this new place, with its scary one-way streets, and its horrific neighbours, and its dingy bar bathrooms, and you are going to be glowing.”

I wish that I could pull her out the window of her ex-boyfriend’s commune. I wish that I could grab her by the hand and lead her to a different room in a different house, one with friendlier demons. I wish I could tell her not to fall in love with boys who can’t stand to live any closer than a twelve days walk away, and to stay away from Gin and Tonic and to love every wonderful, awkward part of herself. I want to tell her to keep her secrets to herself, because you never know whose tongues have been dipped in razor blades.

But if I told her all that, she would still think that Pretoria is the weirdest place in the world. And she would still think drinking out of a bottle is classy. And she would still cry whenever things get a little uncomfortable.

So I’m glad I got my undergrad. I’m glad I had so many strange nights, in this wonderful, fucked up city. I’m glad I met the people I ended up meeting, and I cut off the people I ended up cutting off, because today when I graduated, so did 1st year Harriet. And she’s so freaking proud of how she turned out.

My mother got me a graduation gift in the form of a bracelet. Along the outside, stamped in a font that is definitely not Arial pt 12, are the words “Don’t Panic”. Which just so happens to be my favourite quote from my favourite author, but it also sums up the first three years of my student life incredibly well.

Don’t panic. Don’t you dare panic. No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. You are going to fucking glow.

You gotta do what you gotta do to get your degree, Boo.

IMG-20170503-WA0009 (2)

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Kindling.

large

Source: WeHeartIt/JaazRodriguezz

My best friend has recently found herself wrapped up in the lovely, warm sensation of having someone she really, really likes, like her back. It’s a big leap from her previous relationship, which she’s said was more of a slow, soft, glow rather than a catastrophic flurry of heat and 3rd degree burns.
So here it is: my catastrophic flurry of heat and 3rd degree burns.

You lit a fire in my damn soul.
Boy.
You engulfed me in heat until I dissolved
Ashy and blackened and burned,
Everywhere your fingers traced.

You lit a fire in my damned soul.
It was a pyrotechnics display
It was an overwhelming burst of oxygen
There was too much sound and light and colour,
And not enough sense.

Boy.
You filled my chest with kindling.
Poured gasoline down my throat
And struck the match.

And every night I’d stay awake,
Wrapping my body in dressings,
Kissing my blisters with my lashes
Wishing you’d come back with more flint

You lit a god damn fire
In my god damn soul
And my corpse is still smoldering,
And I’m still trying to scream the smoke out.

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Happy New Year Ya Filthy Animals. 


So I survived 2016…we all survived 2016 (unless you are some weird ghost/corpse/zombie who has somehow obtained my URL, or you are from an alternate universe where silly things like time has no meaning, in which case: Welcome!) 

Welcome to 2017, people. All that has happened is the calendar has reset itself in a supposedly significant way, the 6 is now a 7 and the 12 is now a 1 and we can all continue living the debaucherous and immoral lives we’ve been cultivating this entire time. Go humanity!

I am pleased, however, that I have managed to survive yet another routine trip around the sun, especially since this year I started driving, which has significantly increased my sense of mortality. 

My sense of morality however is still, I admit, a little shoddy. 

I spent the last few seconds of 2016 outside in the cold, walking along the streets of the Spanish town Moraira, listening to the people inside scream “Happy New Year” at each other. It was nice to feel like I was watching everybody else get on with their new year whilst mine stood still for a bit. Then I had to watch a very loud and disorganised fireworks display because NYE is full of cliches.

My first few moments of 2017 were spent in a club I have actively avoided for about a year and a half, because the last excursion ended in me puking my guts out over the side of a Catamaran into the Mediterranean Sea (holiday life is soooo hard). This time I was smart enough not to puke, and therefore I spent the night dancing awkwardly with people who were a lot more inebriated than I was. Happy New Year. 

I got a taxi home before everyone else did (because I’m old and need time for my wrinkles to reset before the sun comes up), snuck back into my dad’s house and sat on his kitchen counter eating ham by myself. We’re off to a good start if my first meal of the year was ham. 

At this point I had enough clarity of mind to consider my resolutions, or “very relaxed guidelines for the year ahead” as I like to call them, because then I feel less ashamed if I don’t achieve them. 

My guidelines for last year were as follows: 

1. Stop getting drunk on my own emotions and sending psycho messages to unsuspecting victims. 

I like to think I achieved this. I no longer send messages, I just write blogposts of subversive intent, and maybe I subtweet a little. In terms of embarrassing texts, 2016 blessed me with a few incoherent voice notes to my friends and one failed attempt at a sort of booty call in July, although I don’t think he got what I was talking about because I just kept sending weird winky faces. (Note to self: try the eggplant emoji next time). 

This success may be due to the fact that I now have a Whatsapp group with 2 other emotional individuals, so all my angst has been channelled into them (sorry gals). 

2. Actually read all my English setworks. 

I am proud to say that I read 70% of the subscribed reading material this year. I no longer skim through study guides, I actually lugged around the tombs prescribed by the English department and became that nerd who did her homework at music festivals. 

3. Write more. 

I need to stop thinking I have the diligence or the time to churn out a blog post every week. It’s just not going to happen. 

4. Actually save my money because I need a car. 

I’m really freaking proud of myself for doing this. To be fair, the fact that I turned 21 and I have a really nice and generous grandmother paid off. But at least 26% of my car came from me carrying hot plates of food to fancy rich people and heavy beer steins to sloppy drunk people. A lot of carrying for a lot of people went into paying for 26% of my car, and his name is Slartibartfast because that’s what he sounds like when he starts up, plus Douggy A is my ultimate home boy. 

5. Get my license so I can drive the car I’m sacrificing so much disposable income for
3 failed tests, 2 driving instructors, 50 hours of lessons, thousands of rands, so many panic attacks and almost a year later, I finally have that stupid piece of paper that confirms that I can, in fact, drive by myself. 

Now I really hate driving. 

6. Focus on nothing but myself because I get a little distracted and forget to look out for number 1.

I’ve done a lot of weird shit this year. I jumped about 50 metres into an old mine that was filled with water, played pool volleyball with my friends in my underpants, declared war on the neighbourhood watch because they’re self-righteous dicks who do nothing, told someone I really cared about to buzz off, hosted some really good parties, passed out in a flower bed, climbed a few campus buildings, high fived a pope, and kissed a lot of people on the forehead. 

And I did all of it, pretty much, for myself. 

Which brings us to this year. The big one-seven. Here are my very relaxed guidelines for 2017:

1. Stay away from Dangerous White Men (DWMs)

Source: Disney


My best friend Su has figured out that pretty much all the angst in my life stems from my weird interest in Dangerous White Men. The ones who are clearly up to no good and will probably tear down your land in search of gold (it’s just a reference to Pocahontas, but take it as a euphemism if you will). 

2. Get better at driving. 

It’s self-explainatory.

3. Learn to walk in heels before my graduation. 

Despite my freakish height, I really want to be one of those girls with nice calves in nice heels in her nice graduation get up. I want to look fancy and tower over everyone when I take my cliched cap and gown photographs in front of a fountain. 

4. Figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. 

Like I said “relaxed guidelines”.

5. Probably go to the gym more. 

At least I can now drive myself 600 metres to gym instead of walking all that way. 

I should probably also do more things like stop procrastinating, eat less junk food and drink less gin and tonic. But I’ll take the year as it comes. 

I hope everyone reading this has a good year. I hope you fill it with mistakes and hugs and the people you love. I hope you dance a little in parking lots and that you learn to love yourselves a little more every time you do something shameful. May you call people out if they’re being ableist, sexist, racist, ageist, bigoted or insensitive. 

Just be decent, flawed, majestic human beings. 

I love you all, 

Stay interesting. 

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A letter to my 19 year old self

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Source: worldfiled.tumblr.com

Hello my darling,

I know you’re tired. Look at you, you’ve had the marrow sucked out of you by a parasitic force, you’ve spent 5 months trying to piece yourself together and you’re exhausted. My God you’re exhausted, but honey, you’re also so beautiful.

You are so much more than those nights you spent clinging on to a relationship that only gave you grief from the beginning. Remember how you’d run after his chaotic emotions, trying to make sense of the dark corner he stuffed you in? Remember the nights you spent in his bed, your knees tucked to your chest, your skinny frame shivering in his t-shirt, waiting for him to start making sense? Remember sneaking out of your house at 2am to race across the road and climb through his window, because you felt guilty for how much you thought you needed his embrace?

Sweetheart. He’s not the one. I know you think he is. I know he’s got you trapped in the toxic little universe he’s structured around your insecurities. I know you think you’re going to stay with him forever, that you’re going to get your degree and he is going to get a job and maybe he’ll stop freaking out if you forget to text him and he’ll let you go out with your friends every once in a while and maybe he’ll stop yelling. Maybe, maybe, maybe, he’ll stop yelling and shooting wine glasses with metal BB bullets and standing over you as the shards slip through your scarred hands. Maybe he’ll stop blaming you for everything that’s out of your control. Maybe you’ll stay with him forever and you’ll be happy because he’s got you convinced that no one else could possibly love someone as strange and as wild as you. Maybe he’ll stop yelling.

He’s not it my love. You know he isn’t. You know that with every icy word, every bite of his temper, every snarl in your direction that you’ll just get smaller and smaller. You know if you carry on you’re going to disappear. Rip out his claws honey, rip them out of your skin and start running, because your flame can only grow brighter from here.

You are going to burn all of the empty letters he ever left on your bed. You are going to start a mini bonfire in a tin can in your garden and you are going to belly laugh wildly and dance around the carcass that was the past 5 months of your life. You are going to kiss your scars and run your feet raw as you tear down boulevards. You are never going to be afraid to raise your voice ever again.

You are going to beat your pillow with a hockey stick until all the rage and regret  that he spoon fed you, explodes in a flurry of feathers and relief. You are going to change all the locks to your heart and then spend the next 2 years simply loving yourself. You are going to snip away at every single toxic relationship that eats into your spirit until the only people who are left are the ones that carry you to bed and bundle you up when you cry. Prepare to have your face stroked and your soul held and your forehead kissed my darling; prepare to feel confused and tentative about all these gentle gestures – I know it feels foreign, but this is what you need and deserve.

Then prepare to have the breath knocked out of you by someone who exudes sunlight and warmth.

I know you think you deserve locked doors and acidic words, it’s going to take a while for you to break that cycle. But when you finally do, when you finally look up and realise your own electric disposition, you are going to free fall into the arms of someone who makes your entire body burn.

He is going to take you to parties and introduce you to fellow wild things. He’s going to take you onto rooftops and sit and listen while you animatedly chat about everything important to you. He’s going to let you bury your face in his chest while he strokes your hair and tells you that he is never going to contain your spirit or lock up your happiness. He is going to look at you like maybe you are magic, and he’s going to pour golden words down your throat.

And you, my love, you are going to realise that the people who try to extinguish your flame are the ones who don’t deserve any of your warmth.

You will detonate into a plethora of water-colours and wild flowers.

I love you with all my heart.

 

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Romanticising other things.

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Source: weheartit.com

I haven’t written anything on here in over 2 months.

I totally get that these moments of total writer’s block happen from time to time. I’m only human, my brain can only spew out so many melodramatic metaphors before it gets tired of itself. There’s only so many cliches I can avoid before I become a walking one.

I’m not sure why it’s been so long. I’ve been writing things down, obviously. Disappointed little scribbles in my journal. At one point I experimented and wrote out an entire paragraph whilst under the influence – there was a lot of wiggles and a lot of pent up angst, wow.

I lost my muse…well, my muse lost me. So I’ve had to kind of learn to romanticise other things – like the suffocating smell of festival toilets and the feeling of new socks on cold feet. But over my brief hiatus from publishing anything on my favourite corner of the internet, I’ve managed to write down a few short little blurbs.

So here it is; Harriet’s random 2am/ every day thoughts: an anthology.

On places I’d rather avoid:

“I equate places with feelings. And if it were up to me, the train station where I last saw you would be simultaneously the favourite and most despised place in my entire world.”

In an email from my grandmother:

“I went to New York when I was 20 to see if it was any different from Nottinghamshire. If it was the same, I could always come back and settle down. Instead I found your grandfather and no, New York was not the same as Notts.”

I went to the edge and found you.

On weekends that turn into melodramatic moments:

“It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.

Ever have one of those weekends? The spell-binding, soul-searching, over-the-moon kind of weekend? I am at the end of one and I’ve got this sinking feeling that I’ll never feel something so definite, so completely euphoric. I feel my youth creeping up on me, I can feel the fire start in my heart and I can feel my toes curl as I yearn for moments that last.

I don’t want to stop being 21. I want nights that beat the sun and glowing embers that don’t know how to die.

I want to carry on living this spontaneously forever.

It’s almost tomorrow and I don’t want to go home.”

“I’ve had a weekend.

A destructive, ridiculous, incredible weekend; filled with sobbing and catchphrases and loving people despite it all.”

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Source: weheartit.com

On people who don’t know how to stay:

“I can’t blame you for walking away. How can I possibly? We both know I burn too brightly to be extinguished. There’s a ‘no vacancy’ sign just for you hanging over my vibrant, unbelievable, explosive life.”

“Because our entire existence was me trying to hold on to what you used to be, and you trying to show me how much you’ve changed.”

“I hope when you retell our story, you describe me as ‘the girl who screamed poetry at you when you told her to run, even though she was never yours to walk away from.'”

“I’m glad you’ve found ways to smother your grief for humanity, but don’t you dare do it at my expense.”

On what they never taught me in school:

“In 5th grade English class they told us to write down everything with as much detail as possible. They told us that parts of speech were imperative, adjectives meant something.

They never told us that, in reality, adjectives are just as superficial as their intentions. And some people will say anything just to gain a piece of your soul.”

On how much can change over several months:

“I am not the person I was last November. I am nowhere near the girl who blushed electric at your empty cosmic promises.

I am not who I was last November. I got ripped from that body by circumstance and change. I got pummeled into this shape by disappointment. I am not who I was last November.

I am not last November. I haven’t written poetry in months. I don’t believe in shutting out the world any more, I let the cold seep in to wake me up and chill my bones.

I am not who I was last November. I am not a Mississippi sunset, I am not burning up as I race down a wooden dock towards you. I am not superlunary, I am not yours.

I am not who I was last November. I have run out of time; you wasted it. You, and all those after you. I have run out of time and sand and clock hands.

I am not who I was last November. I have an iron soul that can’t be thawed and eyes that flash sunlight. I will burn you up. I will make you miss me. I will drive you insane, kiss you catatonic and then leave you to combust.

Because I am not who I was last November. I am not who you pretended to love. I am not even myself.”

On how much better everything has turned out to be:

“If I end up living a life that is anything short of vibrant, I won’t survive. Tonight I braided a man’s hair whilst sitting on the floor of a bar. I drove around my neighbourhood yelling promises at strangers, I kissed my friends goodnight and flopped onto my bed. I am blissfully surprised at how wonderful everything has turned out to be.”

The bit about festival toilets:

“There’s nothing more carnal or cathartic than finally having a poo in a festival porter-loo.”

And despite all these ridiculous metaphors, here is my final WTF moment:

“Squeaky swings sound like children screaming.”

(What the fuck, Harriet?)

Think of this as a farewell to all the moody posts about something that is now a nothing.

There you have it. The sneakiest peak into my drafts folder.

Not much else to say, except goodbye.

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I will find my way out.

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Source: weheartit.com

“i have dug my way
out the ground
with palm and fist many times
my whole life has been
one burial after another
i will find my way
out of you just fine”

– rupi kaur

I love rupi kaur. I wish I’d known about her in matric when I was a little more sad than I am now. Her words would have pulled me up by the ears out of the ditch I had made for myself, sat me down and told me to get a grip. There were days in the middle of my 18th year when I woke up unable to breathe. I had my lights punched out one by one by someone who hardly deserved my illumination and it took months for me to set myself alight once again.

I’ve been slowly building up a repertoire of demons to avoid. Self-involved, crazy, cowardly demons that hardly compliment mine. With each blow, it gets easier to move on. I cry a little less, I pull myself together a lot quicker, I stop myself from falling into the disastrous black hole inside me that spews out really shitty feelings. Instead, I get new piercings, dye my hair severe colours, cut six inches of him off the ends.

I do everything I can to avoid the devil on my back that whispers soft doubts into my ear. And somehow, it works.

Recently I took a day, I had my first quiet moment in 2 weeks and the feelings that came with that silence were so blindingly angry. I’d been suppressing them with laughs and nights out and studying, I’d been holding them down with assurances that they weren’t there – they don’t exist, I’m okay.

So when they finally boiled to the surface, I took a day. I went for a run just to feel the ache of my muscles instead of the one in my soul. I got home and sat in scalding hot water, kissed my bruised knees and told every single scar and freckle how lucky they are to be so unique. I sat in my lemon-scented towel and traced the lines of my palms, committing to memory the pattern of my fingerprints. I acknowledged that although some people only have the privilege of knowing me for 7 months, I get to have an entire lifetime. I am lucky enough to be in the presence of my own company for every second, I am lucky enough to love myself.

“i will not have you
walk in and out of me
like an open doorway when
I have too many miracles
happening inside me to be
your convenient option”

-rupi kaur

I have too many miracles happening inside me. There are going to be so many late night giggles, hair cuts, existential musings, star-gazings and barefooted sprints through the rain that you don’t get to be privy to. There’s a million wonderful things that are going to happen to me; I am not shattered – I can not break.

I am resilient and free and wild.

I am not your miracle. I am my own.

image

Source: weheartit.com

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