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  • Writer's pictureKerry Chambers

How Far is Halfway There: Ponderings in Postgrad

I am angry. I am done in. Maybe it’s the mid-Master’s burnout speaking, the bitten-off-more-than-I-can-chew speaking, the resulting-to-tired-idioms-you-hack speaking. Whatever one it is, I am angry. To think I was a girl who proclaimed they would learn to drive once they owned a Bentley? How much I flipped that switch. My fellows used to think I was joking. I meant it. I really wanted a Bentley. I know which one.


I just bloody need it, money that is. But I want it authentically. And the person I am is not destined for a life that exploits, lies or cheats. Already, in my personal work, I’m afraid I’m not authentic enough, holding too much back in fear of being me. Or maybe that’s the resistance to maturity I am experiencing; that overwhelming disgust of biting my tongue.


Each day I try to ignore the others. The ‘you do you, hun’ culture and all that. It’s so hollow, isn’t it? That sense of people pretending to leave one another in their own lanes whilst tailgating me across borders. I’m in the slow lane. There’s two overtaking lanes left but what they’re really suggesting, as they ride my arse until they can reach my steering wheel, is get off the road.


Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972: BFI)

I’m angry. The divide creeps between friends, the insidiousness of money and social standing tears us apart. I keep thinking of those that write off creativity; is it envy? You consume it so freely, no matter where you go.


Say it to my face what you think of monetary status. Those I presumed would understand are surprising me each day (and the state we're in now too. The UK disappoints me more and more each day). The further they get from trouble, the faster they forget it. Just. Just. Just: save, get a better job, and put yourself out there. Anyone with any sense knows that out there is a made up world. That saving feels as trivial as counting the stars. What is out there? And when you find inauthenticity is so debilitating, I don’t want to be out there. There’s a sacrifice I suppose.


There’s a breed that suffered and got out of it and assume it’s simple. They forget about luck. They forget about before. I would never write off hard work, but there are things that fall in place; circumstances and opportunities that align and when you’re a certain person you can take them. It’s not the same for everyone. One day we will all be the same, of course; if conglomerates and the filthy rich have anything to say about it.


The Wayward Cloud (Tsai, 2005: Axiom)

I’m angry. I want a supportive job. The truth is success is mercurial and in the broadest sense utterly subjective. I try not to compare. But more and more I get the sense of noses upturned, of being shrugged off. I can always do what I want with these people on paper. Once I can wield my pen, that is. Then I have control again. That’s it, really. I want to get a sense of that once more. It’ll be easier to shrug the outside off.


As I mentioned earlier, I am a Masters student, though I feel I tame nothing in doing so. The little imposter is gagged and bound, but sometimes I forget to replace the duct tape after feeding times. Maybe I should be starving it. But I can be ethical.  This education is so good for me, awoken a little bit of confidence, nurtured it. It’s easy to look around and see progress. I’m years behind. My ‘ready’ is out beyond the horizon, beyond the edges of the maps: ‘There be Monsters’.


Something about my immediate world is gauze across my vision, descending until everywhere is a grimy place. It’s in the way. I can hear it and see and smell it so immediately that it’s no longer is a case of just blocking flow; I am taken back until I’m a broken record. Somethings you don’t get over. Some triggers don’t quite subside. Maybe I get used to them in certain places, the familiar places of those things. But when a friend lights a cigarette and the smoke catches in my throat. Or they grab my wrist with cold clammy hands, reeking of booze, slurring swaying playfully with the glazed eyes, uncanny as buttons stitched in place. Or when the telly is turned up until no matter where I go the announcer reels off the race, flailing words like Michael Flatley; the crowds cheer, louder, louder, until they have a winner... Hacking coughs. Choking, wet, spit up. Inactivity, poltergeists rattling plates, flickering lights; a chaotic haunting hard to spy from the garden gate…


Secretary (Shainberg, 2002: Tartan)

I’m back then. And unsettled. Clogged. Then I go outside, and hear all those Just’s. It doesn’t stop. Switching off is hard, disassociating is not a solution. A barrage of being each day. Do we have to go around bumbling about? Fake it until you make it; what a crock.


I keep thinking about Soundgarden’s Halfway There. Say what you want about King Animal but its’ got some bangers. How far is it? Halfway.

‘I would go all the way to the sun if I didn't have to come back down’

That in-between, exhaustion. The acceptance for what you have and pushing for more, where doe the push end and the pull begin? When do we stop fighting? When does it get easier… or when do you get used to it? ‘Should a good life be so hard won?’


This is just ranting in the end. For me more than anyone else. It's too personal to be much use, I guess. But I want it out. Just for something on this blog. And just to know that... I've made some leaps and bounds, made my way forward. I'm tired. But that's all right. I'm a Master's student. This is going to make a difference. I'm done trying to succeed out of spite; I'm gonna persevere for me, impress me. I'll see beyond the gauze one day and appreciate how much clearer the world looks for it.


It'll get better. I'm halfway there.


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