'Tumbling Down': Another New Year's Contemplation From a Mildly Grumpy Wench
It’s New Year. It’s not a new me.
There was no article delivered by me in December. Dreadful. I got a new-ish job, worked a lot, felt like shit, lost track of who I was and entered a wrath-inducing battle with a corner shop to release a parcel for me of a long awaited pre-order of the exclusive Evangelion box set (Third Party couriers are conmen: not breaking news). Excluding Christmas, everything in the run up to it was a total loss to me.
I broke all the promises I made to myself this year, proof as to why I never promise anything to anyone else. I never edited the feature I wrote, I never finished the first draft of a novel I thought I had a feel for and I never got on top of my short projects. What a joke, right?
In theory it would be good to be kind to myself, but when one is in the endless cycle that the filthy, X-rated Anxiety, it suddenly becomes infuriating. It’s as though I’m addicted to fear, addicted to failure. I’m like one of those captives, who no longer want to hope yet find the glimmers of it when a tap on the bars at their window reminds them that maybe someone came for them. Only, there is a magpie, throwing pebbles to pass the time. I don’t really know what magpies do but it seems accurate. That glimmer of hope; that warm fuzzy feeling of things wildly out of my reach, that fantasia I can slip into without having to lift a finger exists for such a brief time and yet I get sky-high on it. Until it's gone, reality smothers me and I go, numb, I guess.
So I can’t sit there and go, ‘Cool, I’ll try this and then that and I’ll be inspired and write something and do something’ because I won’t. For one; this fatigue that runs so deep within me bears a weight older than this planets rotation and I believe it is rooted in millennial misery, decaying planets and unsettling futures and blah, blah, blah… What can I do about it? Get on with it? It’s hard to do when the future isn’t there anymore. Not the one I picture, anyway. So I need to do what I want to do; not what anyone else thinks my generation or my being should do which is a great mindset to be in but not so great to play out.
"Giving up halfway is worse than never trying at all" - Misato Katsuragi, End of Evangelion
I don’t know really. I’m a huge mess. It’s a grotesque sensation. I feel the bile raging just below the surface, at myself incidentally. I saw some amazing movies this past year that niggled that little part of me that loves to write and create and talk about the things I love. I’ll do a little round up at the end of this just to make it a lil’ positive. But why didn’t I do anything with it? It’s strange how stunted I fell I have become, I don’t know. The creativity is there but my bullshit and the crap, the pressure that comes from being me is stopping me. Often I wonder what it would be like to go live in a hole and see how I would like it. It is has power outlets, DVD’s, video games and books, perhaps a couple of dogs, I would be in paradise.
Would I though? Well, still yes, but once a month I might just want to pop my head outside and suffer the world. Or would I start dreading that, feel the incineration of the sun’s rays on my skin, the clawing prickles of cold, harsh wind, recoil at the pinches of each plop of raindrops. The hole would be a bit nicer. If a day came where I could no longer enjoy those things, it would be a life unlived. Notice, however, that I have not mentioned physical ‘human beans’.
If Covid taught me anything, it’s that I hate what we as a race have become; selfish, greedy and delusional. Yet I’m the one that feels bad about myself? Gosh in that context I should wise up. I want to, I really do, but as long as that self-doubt is chilling out in the lounge of my brain box, I won’t be able to get that squatter out. The legalities are too complex.
What would I like to do this year? I’m not sure. Every year I hope for something, something only I can make happen, and then I shoot myself in both feet and some passers-by just for good measure. Can I still say I hope to finish this draft? I hope to watch all the movies I splurged on out of some need for validation as a collector, film lover and for all I believe I will miss out on the in the future. I hope to read all the books on my pile that grew three times in size this year. I hope to do more articles; I kind of still like screaming into the abyss about things I like. I hope to write more short stories and to write a one page of some ideas I’ve had locked up in a chest stored beneath the very couch the self-doubt squatter has claimed as his own. There’s a load of empty beer cans around that couch, left over Maccy d’s that smell like hell and he, the squatter, is a weirdly light sleeper. He makes me feel like a stranger in my own home.
Most of all I hope to find whatever it is I’m looking for. Not just the locked chest, but that thing that has always been in me, that I can hear singing on the tail end of a breeze, smell in the bloom spring, can feel in the tantalizing sting arrival of winter and see in the gentle hues of dawn. I must find that thing that is so heavy in me. Whilst it is dormant, or hiding, or lost… whatever it is, I hope to find it this year. All this searching is absolute exhausting.
Like Shinji Ikari (another mandatory Evangelion reference) had to keep getting in that bloody robot, the one he kept running from, instead not only hiding himself away from the problem, the terrifying Angels but from responsibility and everyone who knew him, dwelling in his own unhappiness and never being able to connect to anyone, or doing so and losing all he gained from that leap of faith, I'm scared to jump. I'm scared of that robot. But I'm also sacred of the end of the world, the end of the future that for now I can fantasise about but later may discover was a waste of a dream. Can dreams even be a waste?
"I don't think anyone is born to live. It's something you have to find for yourself." - Tohru Honda, Fruits Basket
I think I have to keep fighting. That’s not left me yet, doesn’t feel quite ready to. Write, read, watch and learn. That’s what keeps me ticking over. Without them, it’s a moonless night where the stars may shine but all comfort and ease seems to have gone astray. When I do one of these things, all of these things, the moon comes out.
A creature of pure drivel as always has come out this afternoon to unload a whopping mass of self-consciousness and emotional baggage. Like I said though, what’s New about me? Let’s see if I could manage more articles this year, try to do things because I like it and for nothing else. Is life on this planet for us to have a nice time or to just suffer ‘til the end? A bit of suffering is fine, love it, it’s part of being human, in fact I’m a total freak for it in any story, give me that bitter-sweetness and fatalism to any great novel and they have my heart for life – no reason why I should do so all year round. But maybe I wanted to sprinkle some positivity as I bow out on today’s rant. Optimism? Total lunacy of course.
The year was not entirely lost in my time of nervous confusion. Some You May know - I never shut up about them - others, I displayed some form of self-control but in the end, I liked them all very much and they are the ones that have, insidiously or otherwise, wriggled their way into my conscious daily thought. Here are my Top 20 Favourite New Watches of 2021:
20. Death By Hanging (Nagisa Oshima, 1968)
19. Ugetsu (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
18. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985)
17. It’s Okay, That’s Love (Kim Kyu-tae, 2016, TV)
16. Remains of the Day (James Ivory, 1993)
15. The Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, 2004)
14. All About Lily Chou-Chou (Shunju Iwai, 2001)
13. Woodsman and the Rain (Shuichi Okita, 2011)
12. Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)
11. Violence Voyager (Ujicha, 2018)
10. An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo, 2018)
9. Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, 2004)
8. Blue Spring (Toshiaki Toyoda, 2002)
7. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)
6. Fruits Basket (Various, 2019 -2021, TV)
5. Poetry (Lee Chang Dong, 2010)
4. Violet Evergarden (Various, 2018 – 2021, TV + Film)
3. Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2021)
2. Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2021)
1. The Buddhist Trilogy (Akio Jissoji, 1970 – 1972)