I made myself a bit sad because I found out where my cheekbones came from: my aunt M, now dead, is the only one who has them in the pictures from all those years ago. She was a big driving force behind my second book, written in the years immediately after she died.
I’ll not get to tell her that in this life though.
While the miso soup was warming up, I sat in the doorway of the kitchen and stared idly at the copse of trees out front. At that moment, I had the odd sensation that I had been staring like this for a very long time, and would be staring from now on, just like this, sitting in the doorway to the kitchen, in the same pose, thinking the same thing, looking at the trees out front. It felt as if the past, the present, and the future had collapsed into one single instant. Such things happen to me from time to time. I’d be sitting there, talking to someone. My gaze would wander to a corner of the table and affix itself there, unmoving. Only my mouth would move. At times like these, a strange hallucination always occurs. I would feel absolutely certain that, at some point before, under these very conditions, I’ve had the same conversation while, in fact, staring at the corner of the table and that what was happening now would continue to go on indefinitely, in exactly the same manner. Whenever I walk along a country path, no matter how remote it is, I always feel that I have undoubtedly been on the same path before. Whenever I walk along and pluck soybean leaves at the path’s edge, I always think that I have surely been on this same path and plucked these leaves before. And I believe that, from then on, over and over again, I will walk along this path, and pull soybean leaves from the exact same spots. Again, these kinds of things happen to me. Sometimes, I’d be soaking in the bath and suddenly glimpse my hand. Then, I would become convinced that however many years from now, while soaking in the bath, I will be transported to this moment when a random glance at my hand turned into a stare, and I will remember how it made me feel. These thoughts always make me rather gloomy. And once when I was putting rice into an ohitsu serving bowl, I was struck by—well, it would be an exaggeration to call it inspiration but I felt something charging within my body—zipping through me like, how shall I say, I would almost call it a philosophical glimpse—and I gave myself over to it, then my head and chest became transparent all the way through as a sense of my own existence floated down and settled over me and, silently, without making a sound, as pliant as tokoroten before you make them into noodles, I felt at the mercy of these waves, a light and beautiful feeling that I would be able to live on this way. Now, this wasn’t a philosophical commotion. But it was frightening, rather, this premonition of living like a kleptomaniac cat, stealthily and quietly, and couldn’t lead to any good. To go on like that for any length of time, it seems, you would end up like you’re possessed. Like Jesus Christ. But the idea of a female Jesus Christ seems appalling.
I was looking through a photograph album my mum made up for me a wee while ago. Pictures of my aunts and uncles and grandparents. Pictures from my mum and dad’s wedding. Unknown family gatherings. Pictures of me as a baby, as a toddler, first communion all in white and slightly unnerving for it.
There’s this one in particular I like. I’m probably no more than 7 or 8, sitting on the ladder of a plastic slide, the garden behind me a big green field, and behind that the farmhouse, and the cow-field and a telephone pole and the moors to the left and back, and the mountains away beyond that. The sky is a hazy blue, something I remember was rare. I’m wearing a yellow skirt with a pattern on it, a white tee-shirt, and black boots, and my hair is short. I’m smiling, but obviously windblown.
I can’t say why I like it so much. Just nostalgia for the place I grew up in. Or because, even though I don’t remember that outfit, don’t remember getting that photo in particular taken, I remember myself. In all of the photos, even as a young child, I have the same kind of expression on my face, unless someone has made me laugh or smile. It’s a variant on the expression in my avatar. It’s the way my hair is always my hair, even when it’s wispy and almost reddish, when I was wee. Even when it was longer and framed my face like a set of flippy curtains. I remember siting on that slide talking about Margaret Thatcher - I think I’d just heard she’d stepped down from power. I remember throwing myself off those fences in the background and landing on my back in the long grass. I remember thinking about death and dogs and the ruins in the boggy field, that had once been someone’s home, now full of nettles. That was me. There’s no nostalgia for who I was. Perhaps I am inordinately stubborn, and should have changed more than I have. In my teen years I was withdrawn and sad, and did not write or read as much.
But the past me is still me now. Past place might be distant from me, but it’s still me too. Having a strong sense of self, even if it is difficult to resolve, is ugly, is mutable at times. I wonder about all of you. If you have the same grip on things. If it’s totally different. Writers are nosy about this stuff that doesn’t get spoken every day. That is, if spoken, too alarming a topic for some folk. That’s why I read. That’s why I write. How do you go on being you? How to you change and how do your selves change? If you changed that much, do you think you’ve lost one self and grown another? Where, if anywhere, does that lost self go? Does it lurk in photos, or has it flown altogether somewhere hazy, blue?
Questions a child would ask, probably.
My concept for the Memorial Sørbråten proposes a wound or a cut within nature itself. It reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died. The cut will be a three-and-a-half-meters-wide excavation. It slices from the top of the headland at the Sørbråten site, to below the water line and extends to each side. This void in the landscape makes it impossible to reach the end of the headland.
I look a little tough in my author’s photo, and I’ve been amazed at how many people—universities, magazines—ask me to send them a different photo, because they say I look aloof, unapproachable, tough, scary, and/or sad. I started asking male authors with tough-looking photos if they had ever gotten any grief about this and they said no, never. When it comes to the author’s photo, women are more likely to hear things like: “You don’t look as pretty as you could in your photo!” or “Why aren’t you smiling?” I, for one, would like to know what it is about an un-smiling woman that makes some people so fucking uncomfortable. Or why anyone would assume a woman’s foremost concern is prettiness.
"darling will never be allowed to try. she is incapable of floating, saturating her body with rubbing alcohol, with her belongings, she learned this she knows - she has been decorative rather than deceitful, waiting without unity, her avarice of water, her timid argument: what remains of beauty wrought from carnage; a particular beauty, sweat rolling from head to heel. a girl who moves, the smell of a hunted animal, a path of viscera. she can’t refuse a gaping nothing, a deep breath, snapping back to position, lifting her tongue, salvaged from a wreck of glitter and stardust. violently salvaged, claimed; darling would do anything, motivated by desire, by boredom, by necessity, what she wants: entirely impossible."
- From Beyond This Point Are Monsters by Roxanne Carter
To be a woman, young and all alone, is hard—hard!—is to want things, is to carry a heavy, heavy weight.
@milkradio said: Absolutely! It has this strange seductive quality in every aspect of how it’s made and it’s left me feeling very disturbed many times.
Strongly resisting the urge to watch the last episode. Because I won’t sleep right at all.