i watched the brilliant Ayoade directorial debut Submarine when i was hanging out doing nothing in particular on a friend’s couch in Paris. it was charming, hilarious, and heartbreaking all at once. the film’s been on my radar for a while, but i’ve been shite at keeping up with my lists and it kind of didn’t happen until it had to, i suppose. anyway, i remember everyone waxing lyrical about the OST and how it didn’t just fit the film and its themes (and landscapes) beautifully, but was an excellent standalone.
i tend to be a bit suspicious of unbridled fawning (i am wired to be) but in this case, i was absolutely in the wrong to question any sort of fawning: the soundtrack is fantastic. in fact, i think i’ve played it every day since i first watched the film. i didn’t realise at the beginning that it was, in fact, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys that wrote and performed it. a familiar, known voice but i just couldn’t place it.
there’s something about it that speaks to all the ennui that wells up in me sometimes. the kind that makes me want to starfish on my bed and do nothing at all but drown in it.
i’ve written before about the dozens of lists that pretty much govern my life. my lists are bit out of control now: my daily lists, my life lists, all the podcasts i want to listen to, all the blogs and news and stories i want to keep up with, the books i want to read, the books i have to read, the music i have to listen to, the essays i need to catch up, the things i need to do, the goals i need to accomplish…
in an effort to bring order and organisation in to my life, in order to recapture some of the discipline i seem to have misplaced; i’ve created too many lists. i’ve overwhelmed myself.
i’ve been running again.
i took two months off- i say that as though it was a deliberate decision. it wasn’t. i’m just lazy and good at excuses.
i’ve been running again. i’m not nearly as fast as i used to be (i’m a lot heavier than i used to be too so that doesn’t help speed), but the stamina is still there: i can still run a distance without having to stop, without wanting to die as i used to when i first started running distances.
it’s still difficult for me to breathe sometimes: i have to coach myself to inhale and exhale as i run, i have to remain aware of how my chest can tighten up sometimes, i have to be careful when it’s humid outside because it makes me it harder for me to draw breath, i have to listen to myself when i wake up and remember if i was wheezing in the night.
it’s still difficult for me to breathe sometimes when i think i’ve seen someone that looks, for a split second, like you.
one morning in Paris, i woke up from a dream about having written my first book. i was at the book launch, attempting to avoid everyone. for some reason, i was wearing bright red lipstick.
my book was titled, ‘Smashing the Patriarchy: A Love Story’.
sometimes, someone asks me to write something and i get really nervous about it because i don’t think i have the requisite expertise to do so. i know, i know, ‘imposter syndrome’ but what if it isn’t a syndrome but an actuality?
i can bullshit my way through a lot of things (that i am good at) but i sometimes yearn to stand on solid ground, to feel as though i do know what i’m talking about and that i’m not full of shite.
i was speaking at a colloquium in April and i got asked a lot of very difficult (but excellent) questions and i’m not sure that i answered them properly. everyone was very kind and gracious and friendly at the bar after the event, but some of the questions have stayed with me.
i think i’ve gotten more comfortable saying ‘i don’t know’ and gotten more accepting (?) of being called out. i got called out on a few things- and it was all very gentle and kind, but necessary- and i’ve been thinking it over for the last few weeks.
one of the questions that was posed to me was, ‘what feminist theory are young feminists today reading?’. i don’t know. i honestly don’t know if the understanding of ‘feminist theory’ is the same as it used to be. feminist theory isn’t just Butler, Foucault, Spivak, Mohanty, de Beauvoir, Steinem, Friedan, hooks, Lourde, Anzaldua… <list continues>
there’s more now. there’s dozens of blogs, writers (academic, bloggers, fiction, non-fiction), twitter accounts, tumblrs that young feminists today turn to in order to create and build their own theories.
i haven’t read feminist theory in a very, very long time and i certainly don’t think my first/initial engagements with it were very informed or critical. in fact, i don’t remember a lot of my reading, and i’m beginning to think i need to get to grips with it again, that i need to stand on solid ground again.
to begin with, i think i have to dig up my copy of ‘the history of sexuality’ and make the time to read it critically.
people are always giving me books as a present- i am always touched and gratified by presents, but books are always special. i’m stupidly lucky in that they’ve always been incredibly thoughtful gifts: books they know i’d like, books they’ve clearly thought about before gifting it to me.
years ago, before i even began to really think about race and my own politics, someone gave me The Autobiography of Malcolm X as a birthday present. i’m not entirely convinced this person (who didn’t know me very well) knew who Malcolm X was or why it had piqued my curiosity, but it was- is- a much appreciated present. despite all the years that have passed and the water that’s flowed under the bridge, i’ll never forget that gesture; that gift of knowledge and the thoughtfulness that underlies it.
on this holiday, i saw one of my favourite men in the entire world, and he handed me a gorgeous hardcover copy of Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things To Me, with an absurdly touching note. as i was unwrapping it (i was very careful with the wrapping paper, much to the bemusement of our friends: ‘just fucking tear it open’) he told me, ‘i hope you haven’t bloody read it yet, you’re the worst person to buy books for’.
i haven’t bloody read it yet (‘oh thank fuck’), but it’s on my list and i can’t help but smile every time i look at it on my bookshelf.
i truly believe that gifting someone a book is an intimate act. it isn’t just giving them something you know they’ll enjoy or want to read, it’s a statement. it’s an ‘i know you’, an ‘i know what you like’. and as much as it is about someone else, it is also about sharing yourself; making yourself vulnerable. it’s an ‘i care about you’.
after all, you don’t just gift books to just about anybody.
the last book L ever gave me was a copy of Tim Burton’s The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories.