Writer, researcher, music lover, cancer survivor with CMMRD (Lynch syndrome)

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How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life

I have written this post for the writing contest: How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life, hosted by Positive Writer. Click here for more info!

I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. It’s been the only constant thing that I have always wanted to do – thoughts of being a
teacher, a psychologist, and fleeting fantasies of being an actress or in a band, all came and went. But writing is the only thing that ever stuck, the one thing I’ve never doubted my ability to do.

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Nightmares

I remember feeling January approach
and wishing for a year so unlike the last,
a year to conquer all years,
a year to make up for everything. 

But that put the world under too much
pressure; that was too much for it to
live up to. 

I love to have nightmares because
they make me fall in love with reality –
whatever that reality may be.

The Scarf

The first time my partner saw it he asked me why I was wearing a curtain, but I loved it anyway. It was huge – long and wide like a pashmina, but thin, and it was such great quality. It had a patchwork of different coloured squares with pattern overlay, shiny and silky on one side and matt on the other. Blues, reds, greens, oranges, yellows. Maybe that was the start of a love affair with multi-coloured things. A time when I stopped declaring blue or purple or red as my favourite colour (I can’t even remember what my favourite colour was), and started loving all colours in equal measure, and all at once. 

That scarf was special. I loved it like I had never loved any other scarf, and I’ll probably never find a true replacement for it. I could gather it up and use it like a regular scarf, or wrap it around my shoulders, fold my arms into it and get lost inside that rainbow of comfort. It was like a blanket I could take with me anywhere. So in January 2010 when I wasn’t well and had to go to the doctors, I wore it.

I remember standing in my bedroom wondering if I should take it or not – I can so vividly remember the spot I was standing in, looking down at the heap of clothes on the floor, and debating on whether or not to wear it. I really wish I had decided not to.

But I did take it. Which meant when the doctor told me to go to A&E, I was wearing it. And when I was taken up to a bed on the ward, I had it. And when my parents took some of my things to the car out of the way, they had it. And then they didn’t have it. It wasn’t in the car, in the A&E ward, or anywhere in between.

Calls to the hospital afterwards yielded nothing. Nothing in the lost and found. I looked on the internet for another one but the shop didn’t sell them anymore. It was from Tie Rack. I even emailed them to ask if there was any hope of getting another one somehow. I sent them a picture: Have you seen this scarf? Can you help me get another one? Nothing.

There are similar ones out there, and I have one sitting somewhere at my parents’ house. It’s nice. But it’s nowhere near the same. It feels like a cheap copy. And I haven’t felt the same way about another scarf since.

Sure, there is my winter USA scarf  – stars on one side, stripes on the other. Stars and stripes and hopes and home. And my cosy red snood I got from my Secret Santa at work last year. But nothing else feels the same as that multi-coloured scarf did.

I’m beginning to think that scarf holds some kind of metaphorical meaning. And maybe if I did somehow become reunited with it after the five years it’s been missing, I still wouldn’t feel the same. Even if it was the very one I lost, it still wouldn’t make up for all the time in between. Because so much has changed.

I don’t even know why I still think about it sometimes, but I always seem to go back to thinking about that damn scarf.

image

Common Ground

We are a group of people drawn together
through our inability to recognise
when we are on fire.

And after the fire has been put out,
if we survive, we share an inability
to recognise ourselves.

Funfair

They are not all wonderful years,
but they are years, for sure,
years that overrule minutes and days, years
enhanced by whirls and swirls of colour
induced by Jack and coke, a joke
or two, puns and double entendres,
lights residing alongside tunnels,
stars and stripes and banners and my silly
ideas, my far-flung dreams, contrasted by
your grounding foundations so I’m a flag waving
at the end of a pole instead of a loose cannon
shooting through the shepherd’s delight,
uncontrollable like nothing I’ve ever seen
before – I’m staring back at myself like
in a hall of mirrors at the funfair. I recognise
myself but at the same time I really don’t.
Obstacles aren’t so bad; they at least make us
pause for breath before continuing on to the
next year and the next. 

Written on Friday 28th November, 2014 at 22:15

Wrestling

I have grown tired from wrestling with my emotions.
Why are they so much stronger than me?
I can’t even win an arm wrestling match.
I think I’ve grown some new veins,
I’ve become a bit more blue,
changed into something new,
or maybe I’ve turned into a cliché,
one who drinks and scrawls their troubles away,
but that notebook isn’t far away enough,
I don’t know when it got so tough.
Let go, let go, if I knew how I might,
but both my fists are clenched far too tight,
my fingers curled around repetitive notes,
the same thoughts recurring, the same words I wrote.
Instead of letting go I keep my fists clenched
so I can swing for a punch while I’m entrenched
in this fight with my feelings, because they’re never fatigued.
The match goes on long after the spectators leave,
and while the sun goes down on all past events,
I’m sparring with those whom I love to lament.

Photography

We had no camera so we made frames with our hands,
blinked to fire the shutter and held the picture
with faces squeezed shut,
gone from the world for those moments
as we tried to emblazon the image
onto the insides of our eyelids,
where it would hang for viewing with every blink,
its presence in every dream.

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