Friday, 10 June 2016

Chills and Dust


My body was given one month to recover from the first round of treatment. Happy birthday to me. And now, I have just completed my first five days of adjuvant chemotherapy, which was meant to begin a week before but had to be delayed due to low white blood cell count. I took that glorious month of rest time to do not much resting, lose a bit more hair and most of my eyebrows (“I never really associated you with eyebrows,” a friend commented when I expressed concern over the loss of that which was historically quite faint but had definitely gone) (But I now have five o’clock shadow over my eyes: them brows be coming back again!). And thennnnn, I got the chemo rash, and then continued to procrastinate on correspondence, and finally, I did something I rarely do: watch television. I did not last long with that, except for the fairly uninformative national news. Well, barring the in-depth coverage of heartbreaking fires consuming the everything of people in the north of my province. Those images which on the news might seem to be mere disaster porn on repeat are already on repeat in the minds of the evacuees as they were forced to leave everything behind. I have trouble comprehending that. I cant. It is outside my experience. I’ll have to let this go at the moment and get back to complaining: Television otherwise continues to grow more abysmal all the time. I attempted to watch a few DVDs, but there is little available in this city with its small-town mentality: romcoms and superherosuperaction movies are the bulk of what is here, with the occasional proper film floating about. What did I write about in my last post? The Abyss? Even that has to be specially ordered in to one of the few remaining chain stores that still sell discs of plastic containing digital entertainment for those who don’t have Netflix or iTunes. Why. It wasn’t that bad that not a single place in the entire city doesn’t stock it. Imagine, a major Hollywood production like that. Mr Big Budget James Cameron. As for watching films online, free streaming from YouTube and dubious sites on my increasingly obsolete and slow computer can only be done within relatively close proximity to The Inept Internet Box, to which I have no choice but to be hardwired to, for there is no WiFi in this establishment in which I dwell. It’s not very comfortable sitting upright in an office chair and squinting at a film on a tiny smudgy screen. That’s a university thing that I am quite finished with because, frankly, I don’t want to be reminded of how much it really sucked in my college library, where I had to sit to watch films (for research, seriously) on my laptop with headphones on, unable to actually leave and take the DVDs home because they had to be returned promptly the next day lest I accrue hefty fines. It already cost me £15 and most of the day on trains just to have the privilege of visiting my pretty but decidedly not within-London campus. Almost all the other University of London campuses are in London, why was mine out in the boonies at the top of a massive hill. And to add insult to injury, there was not a decent cup of coffee to be found anywhere in that damned town. On one of my returns to the UK from Poland somebody accused me in that ever so condescending British I’m-joking-but-actually-I’m-not-but-really-I-am-but-in-truth-I’m-serious way of being most definitely European, that I hadn’t been in Britain long enough, and all because I preferred coffee over tea. Fuckin’ too right, mate. Tea is for wankers. Don’t choke.

I don’t want to be reminded of the library that was packed with tables arranged for group work that was supposed to encourage open communication and prepare particular kinds of students for “real world” networking and team building. Quite successfully, actually, considering that all that many of them would do is blather to each other about what they’ve been doing on Facebook and who totes puked in the craaaaziest place the night before and all the other sniveldrivel that they straight-laced ordinary students go on about when they’re not busy not doing any work until the very last week of the semester and then eventually graduating, getting a menial office job because their degree has become irrelevant but they don’t care because they are used to (unfortunately) a lifetime of settling for mediocrity, and then eventually having children to whom they can hum the tunes of daytime television to and et cetera. Is this arrangement of tables and the ensuing chatter not actually what “real world” networking is, meaning that these students are well-prepared to gather around proverbial water coolers before they even get out into the “real world”? Yes. But in which case, how and why did this shift in the point of higher education occur? Oh – ‘tis for the snatching of horrendously hiked-up tuition fees and little received in return except business advice. And, of course, the piece of paper. Yeah, I fell for it too. But I rebelled slightly and managed to read a book or two – with spines. And notably, I am proud to say that I, thirty-five years of age and surrounded by gadgets, do not know how to make a PowerPoint presentation, for I held my be-bogeyed nose high in the air at every Presentation Skills Workshop that had to be attended. I actively refused this new knowledge, so-called. I now know that is the point of higher education these days: To refuse knowledge, so-called. Embrace information, for who needs knowledge? Knowledge is covered in dust and gloom and stale silence where human-shaped things hunch over desks and sometimes it is not readily visible whether they are alive or not. But they process, and they research, and they think. And while I am sloppy, and always have been, and my academic writing and critical capacities are admittedly limited and very embarrassing, and while I procrastinate, and always have, I have occasionally been known to at least make the effort to involve myself in the stale silence and gloom and dust, and read.

And watch those DVDs – always relevant to my research, of course. The films we watched back in our flat were nothing but the highest quality trash. The Wasp Woman, for example. But in college I watched and re-watched the filums (as my Irish high school history teacher would pronounce it) that helped create the background noise from which I eventually drew tiny droplets for the larger project, my book.

So, to continue my tirade against the relative unavailability of a large enough screen (stoopid compooter) and large enough selection of trash and art films… I realise that I’m just having some little, itsy bitsy bougie complaints over here, as if the world was not dying and nobody was suffering under any sort of tyranny. Not much else. I saw Money Monster at the cinema with my family recently, and it only offered a disappointingly half-hearted critique of the corruption that has obviously been the basis of global capitalism for, um, a long time. I did not appreciate the way the hostage-taking white domestic terrorist was portrayed as what the upper classes assume that poor white people are – slightly stupid and very sloppy. And the little touch of a late scene where “he can’t breathe” is shouted out when some pigs shove a man to the ground in typical pig fashion was a nice touch, except that it was only a mere tiny jab at the recent cases of police violence that have been coming to the general public due to the existence of social media. Too little too late. Take it deeper and to where you really should (or likely may have wanted to), Jodie Foster. But then watch your film drown as the big money behind it is withdrawn by its funders, who, just like your "fictional" characters, themselves probably benefit from the sort of algorithmic sneaky stock market gambling and scabbing and all the rest the films depicts. Or perhaps I'm being unfair and overly cynical. I guess to her credit there are an awful lot of people in the “real world” who place so much trust in corporate greed that they don’t know it’s deadly corporate greed, that is, they don’t know they don’t know, and a movie is required to suggest a tiny truth. Something something something water cooler tragedy. Such hopeless hopelessness humankind is. 

And then there are a couple of independent cinemas to which I could go and see the occasional good film. But I lack funds for that, and often I’m lacking physical energy so let’s disregard this point. I mean, it might have been interesting to at least see High Rise, despite the grumblings about it. But it didn’t happen. I’ll have to deal with sitting in the office chair – it’s all I can feasibly do. That and watch period costume dramas and silly fantasy stuff on the television such as Game of Thrones, because it is strangely captivating in it’s outlandishness and excessive amounts of exposed mammary glands. The whores and bastards and more whores and bastards in power. What a banal circus. It’s exhaustingly repetitive and predictable and satisfyingly boring in a way that I don’t allow other television programmes to get away with. I still can’t keep up with the names, tho. All I know is that a Lannister always pays his debts. Also: dragons and swords.

Something I do enjoy is reading, when I can focus, and also receiving stuff in the mail, like books and correspondence. I’m not always very good at returning it. Unfortunately I’m quite adept at feeling guilty, and then I get stressed, and then my life resumes to its usual tumbleweed status, growing larger and larger in violent tangles and speed as it pitches itself across sandy surfaces. Just because the letters for cancer happen to be in Frances doesn’t mean I have to go tumbleweed. But I extend apologies to those whom I love and who are supporting me and sending objects or thoughts or vibes n shit from whichever area of the world they are in. My anti-tumbleweed struggles are legitimate and necessary – I need some calm. Of course, at a certain point it can’t be an excuse for procrastinating, but for now I just need a bit of CHILLAX TIME WITH DAVID CAMERON AND HIS FAVOURITE BAND THE SMITHS. Dickhead. Anyway, here I am, chillin’ out with some of my good peoples the other day:


Ah, the memories of the happenings of Weissness at Tottenham McDonald’s, featuring Brueghel, spiders, swine, and brilliantly unsavoury images of corpses breaking up and out from beneath floorboards to demonstrate triumph. Reminders that there is a world out there that is not the “real world”, but the most impossible – therefore possible – world that exists and must exist and must be brought to further existence with the art and literature that inform and are informed by revolution/ary thought and history and making. The “real world” is a monster that needs slaying. The “real world” is also full of the nausea, the continuing and constant taste of burning hair at random moments, the fatigue, the inability to bask in sunlight. Sigh. I’m waiting to see if the post-chemo effects I had a month ago will return. Perhaps not. Perhaps I will be fine until next month, when I do my next five days. Perhaps the ensuing twelve months will continue to be merely uncomfortable and inconvenient (god, I hate the nausea and the itching), rather than painful and blighted with whatever may attack me in my immunosuppressed state. The monster needs slaying (I’m working on it) and the more I immerse myself in making (I’m working on it) the closer to breaking the “real world” I’ll be.

On another note. There is a tiny piece of white thread sticking out of the corner of my incision, and it’s been there since my surgery, the 9th of February. This leads me to believe that whatever they used to sew up whichever layer beneath my scalp is not actually a dissolvable stitch, so what the fuck is going on. I keep waiting for it to just drop off. Months go by, it does not drop off. It’s still there, a piece of artificial hair. Somebody was taking the piss in the operating room. Any advice? If I pull it will the incision zip open? Ugh.

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