All White Teeth

As an alternative to KC Coconut, the wines and spirits guy suggested OPM Vodka. I thought why not. I may as well try something new.

Now, my movements are slow, lethargic and a happy fog clouds my find. I am drunk. I hate the vodka but I do not want to stop. I love the feelings I have now. I will hate the feelings I will have tomorrow.

We are in my bedroom. The sun feels beautiful on my skin. She is at the edge of the bed as if scared to take up space. It must be my breath which is offputting. It could be something more. We are not that close. Her boundaries are wide and her walls are high. We are talking. I am talking and she is listening. Narrowed eyes and a playful smile colour her face with amusement.

I smile at her often. I find myself doing this with her more than with most people. I imagine I look like a wolf. She laughs back. I tell her I have a beautiful smile, as does she. Her smile turns mysterious and is then gone. A quick flash of teeth and a movement of lips into a moue of contemplation. I never know what she is thinking. She is inscrutable and she slightly intimidates me.

She guards herself and lately it has been irking me. I find myself petty and refusing to engage her as often and as deeply as I used to, only blinking first, as it were because I have conditioned myself to. Refusing to ruin this ethereal moment, while she is with me and not behind a screen, I keep smiling and talking, about my idea of masculinity (how being a stereotypical man does not work for me) and what I think of feminism (in my current state, it mostly consists of men washing dishes).

Sipping my drink, liberally doused with Sprite, I smile wider at her to make her comfortable, rather, to make myself comfortable around her.


I am Others

I am others. This was pointed out to me last week as far as my writing goes.

I mean, I am myself, but when it comes to how I represent myself in my work, I take on the persona of someone else, someone better, maybe the kind of person I aspire to be, or the kind of person I do not want to be. I write outside myself.

When I started writing I somehow got it into my head to avoid myself in some ways, to distance myself from my failures and shortcomings, my flaws, my very nature sometimes. Paradoxically, these same things lent life to my work. Call them the devil’s breath, electricity raising the patchwork monsters I create. Call me Dr Frankenstein.

Then again, this is the wrong approach. What happens when I run out of pain to dig through and put on display? Also, if I am writing about myself, the word “I” comes up a lot of time. It makes me very uncomfortable to talk about myself and seems in poor taste. I cannot be the only subject of my writing.

Maybe this is where all writing starts, a juvenile itch which then grows and becomes about other things, other people outside oneself. In all of this, fragments of the author remain. Maybe growth in art and in anything else is the continual chipping away of the more selfish aspects of yourself.

I feel I have digressed. I was trying to explain why I write about myself outside myself, especially when it comes to relationships. This is mainly because I fell my most harrowing failures have happened in relationships. Time is yet to prove me wrong. Then again, I have a bit of time on my side.

On Apologies

What is the point of reaching out to someone to apologize, say, emailing them and explaining why you hurt them, the motivations for your actions?

I feel putting it in writing is taking better responsibility for your behaviour. You could always do it in person and it is recommended you do by way of manning up and because your written words could always be used against you.

Admitting how you fell short is an integral part of an apology. I can say it to myself, but I feel putting it out there in writing gives it legs, a way of being accountable.

Although, I often wonder whether it means anything to say you were wrong, to own up to your decisions. In hindsight, I may not even have a logical reason for writing down my apologies. I could be trying to make myself the victim of someone else’s tragedy, one I caused, to make myself feel better or I could be painting the other person as a monster to remove myself from how I treated them.

Sometimes I am not sure. What is the point of apologizing if it does not take the pain away from the people you hurt? I often feel we do it for ourselves, selfishly, to make ourselves feel better. That is not an entirely bad thing, but I feel the bigger goal of saying sorry is to make things better for the aggrieved.

Where my relationships are concerned, I never made a conscious decision to become one thing or another. It seemed to just happen as I stood at the conveyor belt of people I used and who used me, and in the shared darkness in which we hid and sought warmth. Each heartbreak and disappointment, theirs and mine, ours, each tragic occurrence, was impetus for the next one. By the time the waves of agony reached epic heights, by the time the lies and empty promises rolled off my tongue so smoothly that what was left of my heart did not miss a beat, I had no conscience left.


We often, unwittingly, view relationships and the people we get into them with as escapes from ourselves, as cures for the maladies we carry within us.

We distract ourselves with enraptured hearts, lining the messy nests of our emotions with sentiment and unnameable, unknowable things, things which we nonetheless can see and touch, that have textures soft and rough to our feelings, which shield us from our ourselves.

Like gossamer in hell’s heat – love, its imitations, and inverses are hell – the shields from our personal darkness eventually melt away, leaving us as naked as before and more bereft and further from ourselves. We lose ourselves escaping from ourselves, cut deep grooves inside of us to fit people and their expectations, and then one day wonder where we went, what happened to us.

Somehow we fail to see what we want is already hidden in our individual weeds (cliché). We need only reach within, withstand the thorns growing around our souls and find those things which make us whole, which enable us to repair and reconnect with ourselves. To do this, we need to be alone.


Beer and Chocolate

How much of your behaviour is dependent on what is going on around you, say in your work or personal life? You might say a significant portion. What if you are highly self-aware of your thoughts and emotions, what if you are more often than not acutely know what is going on inside you? Any excuse suddenly seem banal, disingenuous even.

I have been thinking about this for a while, about whether I can attribute the ways I act and react to the externalities of a dynamic job or the residual fallout of an ended relationship. I cannot seem to reconcile within myself how I behave is not linked to what is without, but what is within. Asked another way, where in this am I taking responsibility for myself?

The hard part is communicating this, that I shift blame from myself and blind myself to, well, myself, and then to ask for what I need: space to sip on the truth which burns like cheap vodka going down. Work was not rough today. I want to be alone and drink a beer and eat chocolate, as overly spiced lentils simmer on the cooker. It is not that I do not feel I will be good company. It is that I want to wake up alone, sit alone in my very quiet house, and stew in my thoughts and drown in my funk by myself, however dangerous it might be. I am not pushing you away. I am reaching for myself. I am reaching for the self I have lost and forgotten when I am with another person, the self I am when I am not with you. Not you, but you, the ubiquitous you.

And this is the main question: who am I when I am not with you? We define ourselves through other people, with other people, see ourselves through their eyes, measure ourselves against them, so this is somewhat expected, that you tie yourself to those around you, family, friends, colleagues. However, you can only look outside yourself for so long. To use a cliché, what you seek is inside you, and to a degree, people are a distraction. There are things you will learn about yourself in social contexts, there are things you can only learn alone. The work of forging an identity is a solitary task, as are some aspects of repairing yourself. This is the task I am undertaking, consciously and otherwise, as I drink beer and eat chocolate.