Topic #35

“He got to bed at last, and slept inert, relaxed, in a sleep that was rather stupor than slumber, a dead night of stupefaction shot through with gleams of anguish”

– D.H. Lawrence


Don’t Put That Hate On Me


img by Azurushka

I think lots of people (even Simon,who knows me well) would initially respond to the question “Is Elise a cynic?” with a resounding “Do bears shit in the woods?” It’s understandable. I am not a very nice person, often assume people aren’t as intelligent than me and I love a good conspiracy about the capitalist patriarchal overlords pulling the strings behind everything from shampoo commercials to the gentrification of inner city night spots. Despite my arrogantly caustic persona, I am not, in my heart of hearts, a true cynic.

Though I have my doubts about the intellectual capacities of the swarming masses, I do not doubt that human beings are generally good, community minded creatures. I think at their very core, people want to be loved, and they want to be surrounded by people they love. To me, the fact that guilt and shame are among the most common negative emotions experienced by human beings is sign that we care deeply about the way others see us, and we genuinely want to add value to (or at least not detract value from) our small corner of the world.

I don’t know if it’s because I am a teacher, and so work with developing humans day in and day out, but my default position in an instance of insult or injury is always to give the alleged “perpetrator” the benefit of the doubt. “Grace before judgement” has been my mantra for a few years now, though I wasn’t always like this. I used to react angrily rather than respond rationally, but I have seen too many of my colleagues scold students for their disheveled uniform, only to have it revealed to them by a superior that the 13 year old’s mother has taken herself interstate for the fortnight, leaving him with AUD100 pizza money and no tutorial on how to work the washing machine.

Situations like this occur every day. The rushed and apparently “rude” waitress. The bus driver who sent the puddle spraying across your new coat, leaving you soaked. The housemate who hasn’t done their rostered chore again. The coworker who didn’t complete their share of the project, making you look like a fucking idiot in front of your manager. The cynic assumes the the worst: these are all examples of deliberately hurtful actions borne of inherent selfishness or defiant disinterest in anyone else’s needs. I don’t know if it’s “idealistic”, but I truly believe that most of the times when people upset us, they just have five million things going on in their own lives, and we just happened to get in their way at the wrong time on the wrong day.

I do think I am an idealist in that I always try to see the good in people. Not everyone can be highly intelligent, competent, perceptive, charismatic and generous. There is a reason why those traits are admired in great men and women throughout history: they are rare. The vast majority of people are just mediocre, and that isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a human thing. You don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t like, and even your friends aren’t faultless. Everyone has something beautiful about them, it just may not be as obvious and golden. Seeing the goodness in others makes my life better too. When people whinge about everything and only focus on the negative aspects of their world and those in it, the person who truly suffers is the whinger. When someone consistently disappoints me, I just do my best to avoid them. I don’t need the negativity of being constantly shitty with their inability to be better.

My dad used to tell me, “If you meet one jerk a day, the world has plenty of jerks in it. If you meet ten jerks a day, then you’re the jerk”. I think that is good advice for the cynic. A cynic assumes the worst in people, and cannot accept any goodness or beauty without the caveat of an assumed ulterior motive. It must be an exhausting life, to be constantly reading between the lines like that. They are missing out on the myriad genuinely kind and lovely moments of humanity. Cynics do not realise that by believing in essential selfishness, they are just as ugly as the underbelly they are constantly convinced is lurking just below the surface of things.

I write tonight knowing that the blows and buffets of the world may one day lead me to believe that it is an awful place, full of awful people. I hope I can read over this post and be reminded of my (perhaps deluded?) idealism at this moment. If that dark time does come, I hope these words will make it clear that things are, actually, all right. I just need to move beyond the disappointments which inevitably occur in the crazy realities of a human life.

Instead of Diamonds


image from arefin03 at deviantart

Instead of diamonds,
my darling,
I’d like you to let
the light dance
off the bottled shelves,
glittering back at the
glint in your eye as
you explain
the intricacies of
your opinions on
nouvelle cuisine.

To Hell with trinkets!
I’d be taken by
tiny plates
carefully chosen and
shared, rubbing shoulders
as we delight in
devouring. Make me
giggle into my wine glass
and wish for
not a morsel more.

Forget the flowers,
I’d like to be led through
forests, or along the beach.
Feathered company
astutely observed and
erosion patterns explained.
Pointing and poking each
prized discovery,
show off as if you’d
scattered the stars

Don’t bother buying
labelled leather.
Kiss me! Full, close
hard and hot
against the backdrop of
somewhere spectacular.
Slip your hand
across my skin,
exult in the sun’s blessing
and accept
my surrendered limbs.

Forget the gifts,
give me memories that
inspire absent-minded smiles
in supermarket aisles.
They excite me still,
when such days are
left to stories, and
leave me longing for
the next time you
treat me
to your company.

All the Way

image from ev-sta

Let me love you. If you’re going to rebuff my blatant adoration then I may as well walk away. Acquiesce to being covered in kisses and accept my attempts to press each inch of my naked skin to yours. Let’s be rapt and wrapped up in tangled sheets just before sunrise. Catch me looking at you across the room, quietly smiling at the sight of your shoulders, your lips, your eccentricities. I’ll labour over letters and send snippets of poetry. Allow me to find parallels in the most saccharine sentiments: someone’s felt like this before but not like this, not like us. I’ll tell stories of our escapades and act coy at the questions, friends probing because it’ll be the eight millionth time I mentioned you tonight. Immersing myself in the magic of your affections, I will go all the way: sink, suck and drown in the delight of every inch of you.

Let me lament. If you’re going to try to cheer me up with jolly jokes and well-meaning cheek, I may as well stay home. Listen to me whinge and wax lyrical about all the injustices of this sorry situation. Languishing in my hopelessness, I hope you offer no solutions, just acknowledge the anguish and watch me wallow. I want to sup full of sorrows, weep and want and wail about everything I wish I was able to do but can’t because I’m crazy, because I’m poor, because I’m a wimp who will waste her life hurting and hating. I’ll polish off the bottle myself, rebuke any offers of help and fall asleep sobbing into my pillow, waking to red eyes peering from a puffy face. Tearing all the little pieces off my self and marinating them in melancholy, I will go all the way: quake, buckle and break under the weight of this world and my complete worthlessness in it.

Let me be elated. If you’re going to try to rain on my parade I may as well spin and sway away from your apathy. Let me throw my head back with laughter, Cruella de Ville cackle and crow at the sky with the silliness of it all. Grant me all the glitter and twinkle of an enchanted evening, made more marvelous by anticipation of fantastical possibilities, dreamed up in the hum drum of my everyday. Indulge my curiosity, let’s plunge into the unknown and seek all that has been hidden from our hearts and minds, stuck in one time and place. Oblige my exploration of every nook and cranny, my hysterical hot flush at finding things I hadn’t expected, wired with the wonder of this beautiful world. I’ll ask a million questions and seek quenching as I celebrate the over-brimming cup and go half crazy with how amazing it all is. Buzzing with the thrill of the thick of it, over stimulated and starry-eyed, I will go all the way: sigh, shriek and sweep myself off my feet with the wild admiration of everything in my reach.

Let me loathe you. If you’re going to be charming and courteous I may as well sneer from a distance, plotting your slow and painful death. Let my eyes roll back through my head in self-righteous surety of your insufferability. Receive my rage and let my wretched threats fly, shrill and insane so they shatter any semblance of sweetness you thought you saw in me. You’re completely incompetent, an utter imbecile, you’re wasting precious air by just being there, within reach of my fuming ire and seething acrimony. I want to tweak at your nerves, twist the knife and know that I’ve upset you to the bone and sinews. I’ll shriek my piece and shrug at your shocked face, full of repugnant vitriol that should never be given voice. Unleashing all that has been rabidly rioting inside my rib cage, I will go all the way: simmer, boil over and scald with the fury that I cannot find real reason for.