Tag Archives: Fiction

Romanticising other things.

snow

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.”

shhh

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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The Pretoria Chronicles: The craziest freaking tale you will ever read. Ever.

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Source: weheartit.com

I haven’t posted in about 2 weeks, basically because adversity is the best fuel for writing and I’ve been floating in my own solace for a while (thanks Angelo for the solid observation). It’s been 2 weeks of lectures and reading and driving lessons and maybe the occasional glint of personified hope sending me voice notes, but other than that nothing particularly inspiring or noteworthy wormed its way into my otherwise predictable routine. I wrote a rather mundane post about how nice it is to walk in the rain, and then I forgot my umbrella during a deluge which changed my mind about the matter entirely. I’d basically been drifting through life at a rather sleepy pace until Friday night happened.

Before I carry on with this post I would like for my Mom to either shut down her computer now and continue as if nothing has happened, or to treat the following story as a work of fiction. The same goes for any future employers or husbands.

Right.

Friday night.

Friday night I went on a pub crawl with my ultimate homie, let’s call her D. D is pretty much ride or die- one of my housemates actually pointed out that every story I tell starts with “So D and I…”. I guess this one is no different.

So D and I went to this pub crawl with a bunch of other girls, some of which are so lovely and poised they look airbrushed. These girls probably don’t trip over things or graze their knees climbing down trees, they’re actually pretty mythical, and they’re really really nice. The plan for the night was as follows: meet up at a local bar, move on to 3 of the university’s clubhouses, try not to graze your knees on the way, Harriet.

I think I’ll have to put a time stamp on the various locations and events to keep the story comprehensive. It’s kind of a mush.

18:00: D got to my commune. We had 1 and a half drinks each to get us going. All was good, we looked hot, I had a long debate with myself over whether to take an umbrella in case it rained.

Pros: my hair won’t poof, remember how much I complained the last time I forgot it

Cons: I am almost sure to lose it somewhere

The prospect of smudgy mascara and dreadfully spiraled baby hairs was too scary to risk.

18:45: A brief walk, sheltered from the rain (HA!) to said local bar, we’ll call this “Bar A”.

18:50: Arrived at Bar A, got complimented on my hair (thanks, I grew it myself), had one shot of Strawberry Lips (Nesquik for adults), took a few selfies (millenials, amiright?) before running for cover and cars and Bar B.

19:10: Bar B. Hello, Bar B. What a delight you were! There were glasses of wine for R10 and quite an alarming number of animal heads on the walls, hopefully haunting the taxidermist who put them in that position.

Not much came from Bar B, except the Solo Cup of dry red that warmed my heart and probably caused my quick deterioration over the sobriety line into “tipsy”.

19:45: Bar C. Bar C introduced itself in the form of R3 shots, Beer pong and a tipsy me trying my hardest to worm my way onto a beer pong team.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hello,hi. Can we be on your team?”

Rude male: “Um, sorry, no, we’re kind of winning and we’re about to play another game.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, do you mean you don’t want to play beer pong with 3 super attractive females?”

RM: “No”

Me: ” What the hell dude? I mean collectively we are a solid 8.” (D says it was at this point she didn’t want to know me, to be fair- I didn’t want to know myself after such a display of word vomit.)

21:00: Away from the accursed Bar C and onto the magical land that was Bar D.

Bar D was packed, shots were just as cheap as Bars B and C and I locked eyes across the counter with a certain tall mystery man from my lectures.

A brief note on mystery man: I call him Dark Chocolate, not to his face. Simply because one day he arrived in a tight grey t-shirt and I was bored and almost died. It’s also really fun to make puns about his cacao beans (MOM, THIS IS TOTALLY FICTIONAL).

Dark Chocolate poured his way into my immediate vicinity, flexed his muscles and asked me why he’s never seen me out before. Then Dark Chocolate bought me drinks. A lot of drinks. I was close to getting some of that velvety Aztec goodness when 22:00 closing time hit and he told me to meet him at Bar E.

22:00: D and I had lost our lift in the process of fooling around at Bar D. So we walked from D to E, somehow I still had my umbrella. I don’t remember much of this bit, except that it was a really short walk for such a far destination, maybe it felt short because I’ve forgotten most of it, I’ll have to consort with D.

22:30: Made it to Bar E. At which point I started feeling like I was on a train I couldn’t get off of. Ran for the balcony to get fresh air, D in pursuit, I became vaguely aware of some attractive male trying to talk to one of us. I had a moment when I considered using my charm on this man, but then figured it was better for D to handle it- I was not on my A-game, in fact we’re looking at more of the later letters of the alphabet. I was on my P-Game.

*Disclaimer: I am a smart girl. I look both ways before crossing the street, I eat vegetables sometimes and I never, ever pull stunts like this- until I do.*

22:45: I hugged the toilet briefly to no avail, D ordered an Uber somehow and got me water (my request- she was smart enough to know water = disaster).

22:55: Made the Uber pull over so I could properly chunder onto the side of the road. D made some comment about how much was coming out.

23:00: McDonalds. D got out to order for me, I wretched out of the car and had a quick nap. Apparently at this point one of the nice mythical girls saw me in such a position and asked if I was alright- damn it.

23:15: Home, a few chunder scares in the car. D found out her phone was missing once we got out of the Uber. Shit.

23:30: Chaos. Freaking chaos.

D ran through commune screaming for someone to help her phone her phone (I had no airtime). I lay down in the flower bed/ also the place my house mate extinguishes his cigarettes and was perfectly happy to stay there until morning. People thought someone was dying due to D’s hysterics, they weren’t entirely wrong. I saw the white light people, I knew my time had come and I was going to meet my demise in a glorified ashtray. Time to repent.

23:45: McDonalds had D’s phone. I don’t know how, I didn’t really care (sorry D).

I got placed on the couch for the night by my house mate in first year, who I also subsequently used to go to aftercare with. I have now officially lost the respect I used to conduct at my living establishment- I am no longer a wise mature student, but a train-wreck.

03:00: The inebriated animal woke from her slumber in search of food, found D in her bed and a double cheese burger on the floor, score.

The next day: Tried not to die.

So there you have it. The most intense night of my life, and the night I realised that the allure of R5 shots and a certain slab of 90% pure attractiveness isn’t worth the fuss.

I’m still alive by the way.

 

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Break-up Season and The Art of Being Perpetually Single.

Source: weheartit.com

It’s September and with it comes along one of my favourite seasons; no you over – enamoured festival girls with your flower crowns and misappropriated Native American headdresses, it is not Spring. It’s break up season.

Aaah, break up season. The undefined amount of time when couples decide they need to start making alternative arrangements for New Years. It’s either that or the pollen has some kind of effect on assholes revealing their true colours. Either way, in breakup season my status as the perpetually single, professional third wheel is promoted to veteran. I become the newly single girl’s independence guru and it’s my favourite thing.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- I have been cursed with experience. As my mother once aptly introduced me “this is Harriet, she has the WORST taste in men”. Right you are Lori, and don’t I know it. A miriad of philanderers, future strippers, batshit rockstars and one rather questionable character armed with a pair of roller blades and a spiked collar have come my way; and, because I like a good story, because I appreciate it when my life takes a turn for the bizarre- I give them the time of day.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me pretty good at getting rid of weirdos. In my experience, there’s two ways break up season can happen to you;

1. You cry, you ugly cry. You end up looking like Kim K eating a salad, or just Kim K crying. You binge on something – be it food, cheap box wine or love quotes on pinterest, you fill your void with something other than that person. I voice note my friend Chris at ridiculous hours of the morning after watching Pride and Prejudice for the third time and sobbing because Mr Darcy is the perfect ratio of socially awkward to adorable. Chris is a real trooper. Hi Chris!

2. You get over it quickly. You never liked them that much anyway. I always get a drastic haircut after a breakup, one time all I got was my nails done. It’s all relative, it depends on whether you’ve acknowledged yet that you deserve more than locked doors and explosive words. It’s about whether or not you’ve given away so much of yourself already that no fucks can be given. That’s cool, your favourite kind of no should be no fucks!

Once you’ve reached this Land of NSource: weheartit.comope, it gets easier, it gets interesting. The Land of Nope is my favourite place in the entire world – it’s the land of tequila and nachos, incredulity and cynicism. All hail the Land of Nope!

One of my best friends is going through break up season. She’s acknowledged that a relationship isn’t worth it if the other person doesn’t make an effort to make her feel safe, or special. She’s figured out that although it’s nice to have someone to cover her eyes during a horror film, it feels even better to have the strength and sense of self – preservation to walk away from her own. I love her for it, I think she’s so brave. I acknowledge how terrifying being alone can be- you don’t want to go back to pub crawls and batting off club goblins. Being single sounds like the worst thing right now, but let me tell you kids something from your friendly neighbourhood future cat lady: being single lets you be selfish, and sometimes you need to be selfish to figure out who you are and what you want.

October marks a year since the last break up I was an active participant in. After being single for almost a year you figure out some things:

1. Sweatpants are my best friends. My other best friend regularly jokes about how when I go out I make an effort, yet when I come to campus then everyone is forced to deal with the wild beast that is my naked face and unbrushed hair. I don’t care, because sweatpants are my best friends and you can’t deny the kind of love they wrap you in at 3 o clock on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by empty pizza boxes and watching Adventure Time. Sweatpants are love, sweatpants are life.

2. You don’t need a significant other to make you feel important. You don’t need someone tracing the outline of your lips every night to feel heard. There are people in your life who will still be able to tell how your feeling from a single flinch. Chris has my hangover routine memorised, he has no need for it, but it’s nice to know that when I order chicken chow mein and spring rolls from Kung fu kitchen and then lie in bed watching Archer for the rest of the day, that there’s someone on the other end of the phone just as concerned about my liver as I am.

3. Freedom is the gift that keeps on giving. Once your tear ducts dry up, once your chest feels a little lighter and you’ve reached the Land Nope and No Fucks, you will start to smell the sweet scent of liberation, my friend. Turn off your phone, go exploring for a few hours, spontaneously kiss a stranger – or don’t, because germs are a thing; whatever you do it can remain unjustified. You never have to explain a single thing to anyone ever- you are a sentient human being who deserves to be wild.

4. You learn to love yourself; and kid, you gotta learn. Every stretch – mark, every split end, every out of place freckle. You can’t lay the burden of self – appreciation on anyone else but you, and once you learn to stand by yourself, once you establish that you are strong enough to be able to walk away from any relationship at any time, you will understand why none of your previous love affairs worked.

Breakup season sucks, for everyone, even experienced wise sages like myself. But the journey to occasional loneliness is worth it, my god it’s worth it.

Bring on the tequila and the nachos. I feel a one – man movie marathon coming on.

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Tasting the stars and planting flowers in my chest.

I often wonder if we both stare at our phones, waiting for the other person to text. And then when nothing happens we are forced to accept the reality of our own inadequacies – an emotional stalemate.

I don’t want you to touch other girls with your smile, I don’t want your hands to wander to their hips the way they once wandered to mine. I don’t want to see you hanging onto their every word, plotting how to make them taste the stars. I don’t want to see you covering them with kisses and empty promises.

If I were to choose anyone to break my heart, it would be you. I would lean against that hostile brick wall until oblivion calls my name, and listen to you telling me I’m not enough all over again if it meant I could listen to you talking to me.

Just talk to me.

You planted flowers in the cracks of my heart and you had no right to do that. Every night I water them with my tears because I just can’t bring myself to let them die.

The thing is, I will lie in the dirt next to you and pour poems, instead of whiskey, down your throat. I will kiss you sober and stroke your head until sunrise. I will shiver by your side and plant my own seeds into your lungs until you realise that I am the only substance you will ever need. 

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I’m not a hand-me-down.

flowersSitting on my bed wiping angry tears away over someone who doesn’t even deserve a single drop of emotion in his direction. I’ve shoved my phone under my mattress so I don’t take my intensity out on anyone, especially not him. That’s the price you have to pay when you make yourself so readily transparent, just one puncture to the heart and everything goes dark.

I’ve been listening to the same Go Radio song for weeks. Staring out train windows, lying on my bedroom floor, sipping tea at 2 o’clock in the morning, I have those lyrics on repeat.

Cause I’ve been trying way too long to try and be the perfect song. When our hearts are heavy burdens we shouldn’t have to bear alone.”

I’m sitting on my bed crying my eyes out over someone who is so oblivious to everything and everyone except his own existential crisis. He hasn’t figured out that I’ve spent months, maybe years, trying to find excuses to talk to him, planning things for him to come to, applying every single beautiful, heart-wrenching song lyric to his face. I’m sitting on my bed crying over somebody who should be nobody.

Then I get a knock on my door. I open it to find the guys I live with, yelling the stupid nickname they’ve given me, begging me to come admire how nicely they’ve cleaned up the house for the party we’re having. If they noticed my puffy eyes, they ignored it, they just grabbed me by the shoulders, steered me towards sunshine and ask for my approval on their handy work.

That’s when it hits me. How easily two goofballs can stop my hysterics, simply because they want me in their lives. They plan things with me, talk to me when they feel like it, play songs with me during late night kitchen sessions. I have so many people in my life who plant flowers in my lungs instead of burning them to the ground, I have a best friend who messages me in the middle of his hospital rounds to tell me it’s going to be okay (shout out to Chris!), I have another one who phones me at 4 o’clock in the morning to include me in tales of her nights out, there are people out there who actually give a damn about whether I get out of bed in the morning or not.

I have people. I don’t need anyone else. I don’t need shadows. I don’t need difficult. I don’t need you.

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We were desperate, and we were triumphant.

Last week I decided to trade my cave of uncapped WiFi and tracksuit pants for a night out at one of my university’s local grimy bars. This one in particular plays rock music and encourages table dancing and general unruly behaviour, it’s also been the location of some pretty radical stories. I went out last week particularly to numb the growing feeling of frustration and boredom that has been creeping up on me since April. It worked to some extent, I came tearing into my room at 2:30 in the morning, grabbed a pen and wrote in my journal until I had nothing left to say. I know more than anyone how fickle inspiration can be when neglected, inspiration struck and what I had to say was this:

I went out tonight. I went out because I needed it, because quiz night seemed like something I could win at. Because I wanted to yell and beat my fists on a table like a barbarian. I wanted to prove I could use the useless information in my head. I wanted a win.

I didn’t win. It was okay because I drowned myself in liquor instead. I stomped my feet on the beaten table; swaying, gyrating, losing my troubles in songs I only vaguely recognised. It was hellish paradise, surrounded by pierced thugs and drifting wallflowers. We were the misfit toys- desperate for love, for life, for balance. We found unity in the dingy corners of a grimy university bar, and we were triumphant.

I saw him dancing. He looked like someone I had to force myself not to message and he was taller as well. We danced and had our first conversation using body language and eye contact, our second was more refined- sitting in the cold discussing philosophy and poetry. Suddenly I felt like I was dabbling with a nightmare long past; except his eyes were kinder and his movements less demanding. He wanted to listen. He drank up every syllable I stumbled over like he couldn’t get enough of the rough draft that was me. It was textbook seduction: he slow danced with me under the early winter open sky and then kissed me precious.

And I felt…nothing.

There was no spark, no puddle, no mind-numbing happiness. I was dead from the heart outwards.

What are you doing with your life Harriet?”

I don’t know”

I was numb. Incapable of human emotion, lost again in the whirr of self-doubt and dispassionate thoughts.

He brushed the hair from my face and asked me what I was thinking.

You can’t really explain an internal pep-talk.

“You are a shell of a human being, trying to fill yourself with someone else’s heavy heart. And I hope some day you find your abandoned passion because you can not keep giving away something we don’t have.”

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What Are You Living For? : An Exploration of Hypothetical Apocalypses

I’ve had a pretty long week filled with non-stop performances, late nights that actually count as very early mornings and over-all utter exhaustion that has, inevitably, ended with the worst cold on the planet. I spent today in my pyjamas, surrounded by used tissues and trying not to die. All I want is some of that chickpea and lentil soup from Woolworths, instead I’ve had to make due with 2 minute noodles and Med-lemon. Whoop whoop for adulthood, it’s a real hoot.

The only thing to do, besides for survive, is to watch the movie “Seeking a Friend for The End of The World” starring Steve Carrell and Keira Knightly. It’s basically about how the world is due to end in 21 days because of some meteorite that’s about to crash to Earth. The entire movie reveals how we as human-beings are likely to react when we are given a definite deadline (pun intended). Some people take heroin, participate in orgies, start riots and some just pretend it isn’t going to happen; they continue being insurance salesmen or house maids. Some people kill themselves before the apocalypse can do it for them and some still try to find love amidst all the aridity and disenchantment.

Needless to say I watched this movie about two people who end up finding the love of their lives 16 hours before they’re about to die. They spend their last breathing moments stroking each  others faces and sharing their childhoods, they don’t wish for more time or money or experiences, they’re just happy to share in the mutual tragedy of death by meteorite. As the end credits rolled down, I sobbed into my pillow so hard I thought the sun was never going to shine on my soul again.

I messaged my friend. He’s normally quite controversial in his views of the world and he quite honestly drives me crazy with his extreme anti-liberal opinions- I have no clue why I thought he’d be any help. He told me that I need to stop surprising him with how emotional I get over movies. Then he told me that if he had 21 days left to live he would spend it attending class and trying to get his law degree- basically how he spends everyday.

I didn’t get it either. He managed to explain his logic that it’s pointless to try and do anything differently, and then he got all cryptic about how I need to look at the bigger picture so I got frustrated and shoved my phone under my mattress.

The truth is if I had 21 days to live I don’t really know what I’d do. I certainly wouldn’t spend it holed up with a sore throat and blocked nose. I definitely wouldn’t attend any classes, unless it was to tell my French lecturer to suck a cactus, that navy blue-dressed demon.

The most obvious solution to the whole apocalypse dilemma would be for us all to “live each day like it’s our last”.

That’s a popular quote everyone likes to blurt out in conversation. That quote, along with it’s friends “Carpe Diem” and “Dance like nobody’s watching” adorn the skin of every unimaginative 20-something, is plastered on postered bedroom walls and graces the bios of many a Tinder user. It’s a sick, utopian cliche- in my opinion “living each day like it’s our last” is one of those things people romanticise themselves as doing. They like to think they’re these positive, adventurous, spontaneous people, but, when faced with the hypothetical situation of 21 days before the world ends, how many of those people would panic about how boring their lives are?

Probably all of them.

That’s the problem with the human race, we can’t all be the bildungsromantic hero- it’s however rather endearing that we all fantasize ourselves to be so.

I’m pretty sure if I knew the world was ending in 21 days I would be panicking like the rest of them. I would phone my dad and tell him I’m happy he’s around, I’d go home to my mom and my dog and my siblings and play Mah-jong and snuggle in bed like we used to do on Saturday mornings, I’d message the person I like to avoid and tell them how very spectacular I think their smile is and make them aware of how inarticulate and awkward they often make me feel. If public transport still worked, I’d travel, or I’d drive from Johannesburg to Rabat- at least as far as my time would take me.

I’d probably never make peace with how ordinary my life turned out to be.

But I guess, no one ever does.

That’s the thing about a hypothetical apocalypse-it makes you consider the fact that sometimes things are ironically pointless, that money means nothing and security is a pretty illusion. It also makes you recognise how incredibly perennial affection is and how dire our need for emotional connection seems to be.

I don’t think anyone would bother buying themselves a Rolex if they knew they were going to die in 3 weeks. Then again, I might be too much of a blind optimist.

You have 21 days left to live…what are you living for?

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