Fran: It is a shame, the way people pollute themselves. I mean, look around you. Just look. What do you see?
Bernard: I see intelligent, attractive, charming people who smoke and drink all the time and never get sick or die. Or bore the bollocks off their friends.
This is going to be incredibly hard. I need to pull myself together, basically. I need not to be this person I’ve been being, modelled roughly on Bernard Black (though not deliberately). Books and alcohol, though the smoking’s a recent and financially unsustainable habit that makes me feel guilty and sick. It’s not who I am (“at least that’s what I’ve been told by everyone”- Biffy Clyro). I saw my GP today and she asked what I wanted to be happening in a year’s time. And I couldn’t come up with a single thing that wasn’t flippant… because I have no idea. Would I like not to be alcohol-dependent? Yep, but I can’t imagine my life without it and I can’t imagine being able to be moderate. Would I like my moods more stable? Yep… but I had forgotten, genuinely forgotten, that this was the aim of the whole process. It turns into some kind of… you know, like incense sticks in a potato? How many things can we stick in B before she literally falls apart?
What do I really, really like? Books and booze. It’s all my money, all my energy, all my life. Booze and books. Of course, I love my family. I’m not talking about stuff like that. I just mean… all the things I personally like… are alcohol and reading. And sometimes writing. Running… cooking…everything, have taken a back seat. Or just fallen off the bus.
I’ve been scared to go back to class. I do a tiny bit know why. Part of it is the lack of concentration, the way the words keep moving about on the page unless I hold them down under my thumbs. Part of it is the whole thing, you know, with people and you have to talk about things and wave your arms about and get very excited about fuck all. Part of it is the knocked confidence. And part of it… is the last essay I wrote. I was obssessed with it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had quotations from the Waste Land in my suicide note, along with page numbers. I pinned bits of it to the fridge. I read about irrelevant things just to pick out the tiniest relevancies. I saw bits of essay everywhere, and everything anyone said seemed like an idea to put in it. It was at the point where people had noticed that I couldn’t step away from it. I read and re-read and re-wrote and checked and saved and re-saved it so many times that it was alarming. I literally woke in cold sweats thinking about the potential for metamorphosis in postcolonial literature. It was keeping me from hurting myself but it was hurting me; it was making me ill.
So really, when I try to make my head straighten out, when I try to read and succeed, it isn’t the potential for failure that worries me. It is the bright spider diagrams I keep finding all over my room, startling as actual spiders, in my underwear drawer, under pillows, in the kitchen, on the heater. It’s the potential for absorption. I was so, so absorbed that I couldn’t think outside of it. I didn’t want to do anything else. There are pages and pages and pages of scrawl, there are felt tip stains on most things I own. I didn’t do washing, or eat properly, or sleep, or think in sentences that made sense.
And when it was done (the Works Cited perfected, all tabs aligned, all referencing checked twice or more) I fell apart. Absorption= drowning. Theplan was an old one but the image comes from Surfacing, which I refuse to quote from because I recognise now that that is a little weird.
So that’s why I’m nervous. I’m not stupid. I’m not incapable. I am a bit unconcentrated but I haven’t literally developed some disturbing affliction of the eyes that should stop me reading.
I am really, really scared.