Saturday, 1 June 2019

May 2019

I feel like I'm turning a corner, now, maybe. Many corners perhaps. I asked my therapist earlier in the month when I'll stop crying. She said I'm grieving, and it will take time. Grieving for lost love, grieving for loss of certainty, grieving for loss of a lot of things. I haven't stopped crying (I cried at my desk this morning listening to a Jeffrey Lewis song, for goodness take), but I am crying less often, and when I feel it coming — in the middle of dinner with kind and supportive friends maybe, or while talking to my mother, or figuring out where our lives go next with Justin... I feel that ache at the back of my throat, feel my voice breaking... but now I can stop, and say 'Emma, don't cry', and it goes away.

Because I know I'll be okay. (I've known all along maybe, but the very act of saying 'I know I'll be okay' was to acknowledge for how very long I've not been okay)

But hopefully at least, I have always tried to be kind. Even if I've fallen short of that sometimes.

There were TWO VOTES this month. Ridiculous. Soothing the ongoing agony of politics with sweetness of friends.

One of my very oldest friends, Naomi (BFFs since we were 7!) came to visit. We're old now. We're in our THIRTIES. Seven year old Emma can't even imagine that. I'd been a bit rubbish over the last few months and hadn't even told her that my long-term relationship had ended and that I was feeling in some kind of crisis state, because... well, because I was feeling in some kind of crisis state. And talking to people directly about it was hard. But it's okay, she's great, we ate spaghetti bolognese and compared the beginnings of our white hairs and face creases, but in a broadly positive way, more from a place of fascination than horror. My hair is starting to go white a little at the front and I think I like it.

Decided to try a new walk. Ended up trapped in a farmyard full of rusty machinery, two small angry horses, several trash fires and massive piles of steaming manure. Nope.

Another friend, Rachel, sent me an email out of the blue to say hi and ask how I was. I sent her a huge essay back about all of my life stuff, and she in turn responded with NINETEEN WHATSAPP VOICEMAIL MESSAGES TOTALLING FIFTY-SIX MINUTES basically telling me I'm great and being about as wise and reassuring as I could possibly imagine anyone being?! Rachel is one of those magical friends (we all have them, right?!) who I barely ever see or communicate with, but who occasionally appear exactly when you need them with exactly the words and/or practical help you need. (Case in point, last time I really communicated with her was when she randomly showed up a few days before I moved out of Brighton and was having a packing crisis. She gave me a hug and a loaf of bread and told me everything would be okay.)

After my bad new walk days previous, I had a good new walk, across the moors and down into a nature reserve I'd never visted before.

On the 7th Ava* moved out. Originally I'd hoped we could carry on living together. That we could still be friends and share some life for a while longer. But I was wrong, and I am so glad we're not in the same space any more. It had been harming both of us for so long, and I recognise this departure as the turning point in my general ability to feel okay. The day itself was hard though. Davey took me to stroke some baby lambs though, and that helped.

(*Alex is going by the name Ava in most situations now, so that's how I'll be referring to them from here on)

An awkward encounter.

And then... I clean. I have always cleaned and tidied as a soothing exercise. It was a rift between me and Ava. Our differing standards, our differing needs. I made them feel bad about the way they lived, and they made me feel bad about the way I wanted to live. It is liberating to clean and have things stay clean. Liberating to tidy and have things stay tidy. You know what's better than cleaning and tidying? NOT cleaning and tidying. The time that I spent just... keeping on top of things. Preventing detritus mounding up on the kitchen counter. Moving bags off the sofa. Clearing used crockery, knives, forks, mugs from around the house. And a million other tiny tasks, small on their own, but all of them together... so much time, so much effort, and so much resentment. The house just stays clean now when I clean it. It is a joy.

And yeah... My mood just lifted. Took advantage of that by spontaneously going to Manchester to watch Detective Pikachu (my first time at the cinema in... 3+ years?!) It was silly and fun and good.

Had a weirdly specific Sunday.

The whole 'clean house' thing is not all straightforward though. Because it's also 'empty house'. Me and Justin rattle around (though actually, just three weeks or so in, much less so, we have expanded to fill the space, like a gas)...

I was still reeling a little from the aftermath of Ava moving out, and sobbed at my therapist for a full hour around this theme, but then came home to my spotless kitchen and was like 'You know what, I'm fine.' (Maybe I don't need a therapist any more)

Went to sell zines at this gig that was raising money for mental health charities. I sold precisely zero zines, and the music was truly terrible, but I got to try the weird new Wagamama vegan egg, so... sure. Fine.

Had an extremely stressful day with too much work to juggle. Asked my neighbour Caroline to walk Charlie, and in exchange, briefly dog-sat her miserable charge, a giant lurcher named Basil, coming round from anaesthetic after some stitches in his leg, who spent the entire time forlornly howling at me. BIG MOOD, BASIL


Made an utterly amazing black forest gateau that Justin, Dav and Davey are STILL talking about. I am daydreaming about it right now

Went to see Open Mike Eagle (with All City Jimmy and Video Dave) and they were all wonderful

I'M NOT PREGNANT YOU GUYS. Having a pelvis ultrasound for other reasons, but it's strange, the associations of them are so strongly of the whole 'baby' thing — got weirdly sentimental about seeing the inside of my uterus empty. Kind of wanted to ask for a picture of my ovaries to carry around in my wallet and show friends.

Making... the... correct... choices?

Feral Vector is an amazing event run by people I am lucky to call friends, and it's always a weird and wonderful adventure. This year there was wrestling?!

Charlie is arguably official Feral Vector doggo, and definitely all-round most popular boy. Took him to the boardgames night for a mingle, here he is with some of his many fans.

On Friday the new Flying Lotus album came out. Flying Lotus is undoubtedly my favourite musician, and I could write wildly effusive essays about how much/why I love his work and how his music has changed my life, my outlook on sound, my understanding of art/creativity... But anyway. He hadn't put out an album since 2015, and I was wildly excited about this new release. But equally, you only get to listen to something for the first time once, and I am often mindful of this with music I'm particularly excited about. I'd been so busy the previous two days with Feral Vector stuff and I didn't want to just squeeze it in around that, and work commitments. I wanted to make sure I took some completely self indulgant time to enjoy it, so decided on... a bath?

I never take baths. They're too hot too hot too hot too hot then SUDDENLY too cold. I get bored. I get uncomfortable. My brain thinks too much.

But it had been so long since I had one, and for my birthday back in March a friend had given me some bath oil things which I STILL hadn't got round to using, so... The perfect opportunity. I'll lie in the bath and let myself completely focus on it.

Aaaaand... I lasted three tracks.

It was TOO HOT. And I was uncomfortable. And I was too busy thinking about how much I hate baths to enjoy the music. So I got out and lay naked on my bed for a while (which was nice) then I did this painting (which was nice) while I listened to the rest of the album, and it was divine, and soothing, and everything I had hoped it would be. (The painting is loosely based on the album artwork)

I have a dilemma. I'll tell you bout it next month.

Sometimes my visual diaries carry no meaning. Here are some mono prints I made while cleaning down the adana press.

Still waiting on that summer tho

Had a nice evening tonight with lovely friends. Now I'm lying on my bed writing this with Charlie curled up on my feet. It's nice and I feel nice and I want you to know. I've been working really hard but most of the time it feels good, and I'm so excited for what's next... Soon soon sooooon

Monday, 27 May 2019

Eurovision 2019

It's the mossssst wonderful timmmmmme of the yeaaaaaaar

Except when Eurovision is in Israel and you should probably boycott it for ethical reasons but you're too commited to Eurovision because you have watched it literally every year of your life so far and you're not about to stop even though it's silly, and terrible, so you go ahead, and draw it anyway, and post your pictures on Twitter, and Twitter puts them in a moment so they go sort of viral and you get like 300 likes and it's kind of annoying, and one person calls you a scab for not boycotting and you're like 'you're probably right'

Here are the drawings ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
(And here are some from previous years)

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

April 2019

It's not cold! I'm okay! It's actually still cold! I'm not okay! Okay it's not cold again! Maybe I'm okay! Maybe I'll never be okay again!

That's basically my brain at the moment (but I'll be okay) (probably)

Nothing is real. Or maybe everything is real. It's hard to tell at this point.

Me and my senior designer James presented our proposed rebrand for the company we've both worked for for 8 and 10 years respectively. We care deeply and passiontely about the company, the brand, and getting this right, and had put many hours over many weeks into coming up with something good

And everyone hated it

(It wasn't actually my boobs you guys this is just a visual metaphor for LAYING MY (DESIGN) SOUL OUT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE AND HAVING IT REJECTED

I mean maybe this is a bit melodramatic BUT

Also still hard at work sorting and trying to get up and running with the letterpress collection at my lovely local co-working space the Egg Factory. Weeks of frustration continue, as the Adana press still kept printing everything fuzzily and unevenly, but WHY

Just continuing to fully lean into the bad feels, like an over-emotional teenager. Still can't draw myself. Although actually this was an attempt to paint myself, so I'm more willing to forgive its shoddiness.

Took myself and Charlie away for the weekend, which, let me tell you, was a big adventure for the both of us. Charlie used to be very scared of trains, and still is quite scared of trains, but it's a fear I want him to get over, as I love trains (and can't drive), and want to be able to take him places with me. He's dealt better and better with short journeys and Justin once took him on a steam train (!!), so I decided he was ready to try and go visit one of my oldest friends Sarah, who lives on Anglesey (where I grew up). She's also Charlie's former owner, so arguably his BFF too. It's three trains away — 35 minutes into Manchester, a walk across the city from Victoria to Picadilly, 2.5 hours to Llandudno Junction, and then another 20 minutes to Bangor. Charlie was mostly very brave although also has no boundaries around strangers personal space (luckily everybody was extremely receptive to his advances and he made lots of friends). He's also incredibly particular about where he poos, which meant I spent the whole journey super paranoid that he really needed to go, and at every stop walked him round and round grassy areas, but none of them were grassy ENOUGH, so he refused to go (even though I'm pretty sure he needed to).

But anyway, we made it there intact and with no major mishaps, and I was VERY PROUD.

We went to Penmon beach, which is one of my favourite places on Anglesey — a beautiful pebbly beach with amazing rockpooling and a lovely cafe. Sarah has a 2 year old daughter which I still find incredibly disconcerting (because on some level we're both still the same twelve-year-old girls we were when we met), and toddlers are HARD WORK, but we managed to cajole/drag/carry her all the way, and appeased her with delicious raspberry sorbet and Welsh folk songs. Charlie drank lots of salt water by accident because he kept forgetting he was at the beach.

These are really bad, but I spent ages on them so I feel like I want to share... We went to Church Island in Menai Bridge, which was another one of my childhood/teenage haunts. The gravestones there are fascinating (in a way that I never really appreciated when I was younger), so I tried painting a few of them using my lovely gouache paints.

Me and Charlie travelled back again that day and the journey home was also very smooth, which makes me feel like maybe we can manage more future travels. Would you welcome me and an enthusiastic border collie for a mini break at your place? Let me know. I want mini-breaks.

FINALLY got the Adana working! Well actually no. I gave up on that Adana and dusted off/reassembled one of the others there and it worked pretty smoothly from the get-go. I am DELIGHTED. (The text is just some random stuff taken from the 'notes' app on my iphone, I assume everyone's notes folder is filled with similar half-remembered nonsense?)

Wrestling with the sense that I'm just drifting directionlessly and am unable to quite get a grasp on what comes next. Some days it's okay though, like a pool toy idly floating in cerulean blue on a sunny day

Justin and Dav very kindly invited me and Davey on one of their exciting roadtrips. Unfortunately me, Justin and Davey ALL get car sick (and Dav drives) so it was kind of stressful (no one actually vommed)... But anyway, we went to Haworth and Bolton Abbey and it was all very scenic and they are very lovely people, but also it was ludicrously cold and I wore totally the wrong coat and spent the whole day shivering.



Alex uses Tarot as a tool to work through some of their difficult feelings. Sometimes I wonder if I should too...

(Probably not but I very much enjoyed painting this)

Got another tattoo. It looks a bit like this but infinitely better, and I am delighted with it. Two magpies, for joy. Legs are much more painful than arms but still absolutely dealable with, I do find the whole process strangely soothing.

Hannah came to visit, and lo, it was good

Me and her went into Manchester, as she is in the process of visiting lots of good Northern cities for the first time. We ate good things and had delicious milkshakes, and it was so gloriously HOT, which was entirely disconcerting having been just the previous weekend freezing my socks off in Bolton Abbey

Went to see Milo and Elucid at the Deaf Institute and it was maybe one of the best shows I've been to (This year? Ever?)

It was also FINALLY THE END OF LENT. I got trains down to Brighton, eating all my favourite things en route.

Taking some time away from the immediacy of still being around Alex on a day to day basis (although not for much longer, as they have found a new place to live in Hebden Bridge now, and move out in a week or so)... Still figuring myself out, still figuring our relationship's past and future out, still figuring a lot of things out. When does this stop? It's been nearly three months. And even more time before the breakup wrestling with my confusion and upset internally. I want it to be over. I want to be carefree and hopeful. I'm working towards it with all my might.

When I'm in Brighton (Hove actually), I often stay with my friend James. He was away this time but still kindly let me crash at his place. It occured to me that I'd never seen the view from the top of his apartment block (he's only on the second floor), so I climbed up to the top and stood and watched the lights of the offshore windfarm blink in unison on the dark horizon for a bit. It was very soothing. Brighton still has my heart. (I'm not going back tho 🙃)

Meanwhile, me and the other James in my life (my senior designer) continue to wrestle with this painful project. AM I EVEN A REAL DESIGNER OR HAVE I JUST BEEN PRETENDING ALL THESE YEARS

And then a day in London visiting freelance clients, and a rare respite from my current default mode of INTENSE SELF DOUBT, so that was nice.

Anyway, back in Hebden Bridge, and, as much mentioned, I'm sick of feeling this way. Sick of feeling laden down by self-doubt and self-loathing, feeling paralysed about my future and like a huge chunk of my past hasn't been quite what I thought it was. Therapy feels weirdly indulgant. Practically, it's expensive. Personally... Do I REALLY need it? Am I just going through perfectly natural post-breakup feelings that will actually subside all by themselves? Maybe. But the fact of that matter is that I maybe don't have time to get better on my own. It's been three months already. I need help in understanding a lot of the thought processes I'm going through so that I can make rational and informed choices about my future, un-swayed by my current intense neuroses and paranoias. Weirdly almost all the friends I've spoken to about this specific thing are either currently seeing a therapist or have done in the past, and pretty much everyone recognised it as a positive and useful experience. Maybe we're all in crisis. Maybe that's okay.

This is also more than likely the only time I'm ever going to be able to afford it, due to my current privilged position of very low rent and reasonably okay income (pls keep commissioning me freelance clients, thank you)

It potentially jeopradises my ability to afford another much anticipated trip to the US late this year/early next, but you know what, would I even be able to enjoy that trip if I'm feeling as fragile as I am now? NOPE.

So anyway.

(Ummed and ahhed about whether to even share this, but I dunno. I'm not going to write about all of it obviously, but I think it's good to admit when we're struggling, and I also want you all to know that I know I'm struggling and am taking active steps to get through this and come out the other side in a better place. I'm sorry for anyone I've moped or moaned or ranted or gloomed at in the past few months, you're all wonderful and I love you.)

Anyway, some days I cry for like an hour straight while talking about all my failings/feelings and other days the sun's out and I walk and I feel okay, and I see some weird nature and it makes me feel a bit sick but it's INTERESTING and life is interesting, and there's new things to learn every day, so much more world out there to see, and I am so excited and ready to figure out what's next.

(This is a genetic defect called 'fasciation', and I've gone from only having read about it/seen pictures of it to seeing like three examples in the last week... Is there something wrong with the Dandelions in this valley?!)