“To Paris”

I loved you in a tongue that wasn’t mine.
I loved the pace I couldn’t quite keep up with
from the start,

Manoeuvring my racing
heart through customs,
“Pardon” escaped my breathless lungs a few
too many times –
the remnants of my Englishness a crime
met not with your approbation
but with

A perfect nonchalance.

I loved you on the RER from Charles de Gaulle
to Gare du Nord while reading
“Paris, France” by Gertrude Stein;

A moment’s perfect transience captured
in broken lines,
her words so foreign and familiar at once.

I loved you stepping off the train
into uncharted territory of faux-pas,
a whirlwind of a moment’s stillness
sweeping the group from under my feet
again.

I found my bearing in the
Imparfait,
laden with nostalgia for places I
dare not yet call mine.

I loved your certain je ne sais quoi
– to use a crudely borrowed phrase,

in constant limbo between strange and non-belonging
I felt so small and glad to disappear
into the haze
of night.

You were always perfect,
and so was
I,

for I loved you in a tongue that wasn’t mine.

“The Perfect Metaphor”

I close my eyes and take a deep breath

as I bring hesitant hand to blank paper,
Promise ruined by

A drop of ink of my fountain pen.

I watch it drop,
amorphous, ill-defined, borderless,
limitless,
purposeless…

I am scared of its permanence.

Now it’s a pool, black and perfectly still.
I throw in my fishing rod and
watch a ripple run through it like the tight string
of the world’s smallest violin
snapping back.

And I get nothing.

A distant echo of thoughts once thought, perhaps.No reflections; the mirror-lake is far too obscured,
as if shattered into a million molecules, and,
being pulled back together by an unknown force,
it never quite settles.

No answers surface. Or in any case none
that don’t necessitate more questions,
and I don’t want to open that can of worms. Not again.

am that can of worms.
I am fish bait and yet I am surprised at the catch;
wanting for prey, I am shocked to see flesh torn apart by my own merciless teeth.

2019 goals

I hate New Year’s resolutions. I really do. They are way too much pressure. I am by nature ambitious, a high-achiever. I would always set the bar high and get frustrated when I didn’t meet my goals. And I never considered “lowering the bar” because, well… pushing myself got me places. Being hard on myself got me the results I wanted. Only 4 months after being hospitalised because of my mental health, I sat my A-levels and achieved two A*s and two As. In June, I told people I didn’t think I could go to uni, to which the universal response was “but Oxford is such a great opportunity, you can’t pass it up!”. And they were right. I couldn’t. I knew I should have tried to defer, but the though of potentially losing my spot terrified me.

So I stuck it out. I stuck it out for a year and a half before reaching breaking point. I was unable to perform basic functions like going outside, doing laundry, concentrating on a book for more than 5 minutes at a time. In February of my second year, I suspended my studies. I packed my bags and went home 2 weeks before Hilary term ended. I was lost at first; after years and years spent in high-pressure academic environments, “I had nothing to do”. My main concerns were just getting through the day, holding down a part-time job and going to therapy. And, as I’ve discovered, that is difficult enough, but at the same time unfulfilling.

I yearned for being challenged academically again all year, but I knew I couldn’t return to university yet. I would crumble under pressure. So I stayed at home doing boring things like trying to take care of myself. I’ve not “achieved” anything this year. I didn’t do that much academic work (nor was I supposed to), I got some training at my job, I didn’t pass my driving test, or learn German in my free time, or even recover from my mental illness. The one thing I was supposed to do.

And yet I learned something important. “Getting by” is enough. It sucks when all you can do is “get by”, but if that’s all you can do, that’s okay. It’s going to have to be okay.

And in the spirit of getting by, I made some goals. Most of these are things I want to achieve, not things I feel I should be doing. A lot of these are fun things. Most of these are specific, actionable goals, that are small and not at all overwhelming. I haven’t put anything on there that I feel I can’t achieve. All I expect of myself this year is to keep up with my studies (go to lectures, hand in work on time, engage in class) and do things that I know will make me feel better, happier and more fulfilled. In short, I’m trying to be kinder to myself this year. So, in no particular order, here are some things I’d like to see happen in 2019:

  1. Pass your driver’s test.
  2. Read 100 books not (directly) related to your course.
  3. Have at least 1 evening a week of “chill time” (coffee/drinks with a friend, board games, movie night etc.)
  4. Declutter regularly and keep your space tidy.
  5. Stick to your savings’ plan.
  6. Exercise 3-4 times a week.
  7. Get signed off as cross-trained in the kitchen.
  8. Go to a talk/free event/art exhibition at least once a month.
  9. Write more. Sit down to write at least once a week.
  10. Cook from scratch at least once a week.
  11. Play guitar regularly and start practicing the piano.
  12. Post in your blog at least once a week.
  13. Try a new sport or society.
  14. Hydrate yourself, it is super important.
  15. Study for 40ish hours a week during term time. Split your sessions into morning, afternoon and evening sessions:
    9 am – 1 pm
    2 pm – 6 pm
    7 pm – 10 pm
    You can spread out your sessions as you like throughout the day. E.g. if you have a commitment in the evening, pack in extra studying in the morning and afternoon.
  16. Aim to have 2 days off at all times, at least to change activity (e.g. work during term time, study during the vac)/
  17. Travel at least 4 times a year.
  18. Always carry a tote bag with you.
  19. Keep up with your billet journal, but keep it simple.
  20. Stay in touch with the people you care about.
  21. Learn to recognise your limits and respect them.
  22. Go on your year abroad and stay safe and happy.
  23. Decorate your space, whether at home or at uni.
  24. Give therapy a real chance. Recovery is hard work and it will take a long time, so don’t expect to be “cured” within a specific time frame, but do continue to work towards it.
  25. Try to do things that are out of your comfort zone.

 

Hope you all had a great start to 2019 and are excited for the year ahead!