Elegant, beautiful people! I see you I observe you I look at you and I’m impressed. I’m inspired. I want to be stylish too. Have nice, organised clothes that are shiny or fluffy or furry or soft and occasionally metallic and full of colour or appropriately monochrome. A face with expertly applied paint. Shoes that look like they haven’t touched outside ground. Tasteful subtle jewellery that betrays unique taste. Nails of identical length and shape and colour. Some of you look like this and I am in awe. I am impressed by the skill, the knowledge, the effort that went into it. The competence. The confidence. The bare skills to pull it all together.
I am so incredibly shit at this. I can’t be bothered to shop. When I go to a shop to buy myself some clothes I will beg (myself, if there’s no one else around) to be allowed to leave within 30 minutes, usually before I managed to find anything. The end result is that I find myself wearing utterly strange things on the first day of my new proper job. I can tell it’s a proper job because I should be wearing officy (read as: uncomfortable) clothes. I can’t even wear my joggers (although I do hope that one day, when humans are finally free, we will all be allowed to wear joggers at all times if we want to.)
So it’s my first day and I’m wearing the only presentable trousers I own that are nice and also almost white which is super helpful for traipsing through muddy canal paths for half an hour in the rain at 7:00 in the morning after an hour on the tube because this is London and if you get the job that in some way resembles the one you want you’re lucky and happy as fuck and if it’s too far you move or you suck it up and make sure you have a book for the ride.
I chose the muddy path because at least I get to see some plants and birds. I remember that it is me stepping into their territory. The moorhens don’t give a shit about me or my first day at work or my potentially filthy trousers. Some weeks ago I finally did buy a pair of nice shoes and they were expensive as fuck and I was so excited that I even bought the protective spray cause apparently you have to if they’re suede. I took the new shoes out in the garden and sprayed them and sprayed them again and left them out to dry. And the following morning I’m looking for my new shoes to wear to work and I can’t find them anywhere. The panic hits when I remember the day before. But they aren’t in the garden where I left them either and now I’m really scared. So I look around and see them in the flowerbed and when I look closer I see that they have been eaten. Something has fucking eaten my shoes. Chewed big fat chunks out of them and ate the laces too. I put on my old shoes and got on my bike and cycled to work and cried the whole way there.
I’m walking to this new place and I’m realising I’m forever lugging my shit around everywhere. Literally, figuratively, in all of the ways. Wherever I go I meet my own shitstorm. Probably there is a fault in my process. Maybe my problem is prioritising utility over other things like meaning or aesthetics. The bag I’m using is the only strong tote bag I own and it’s got pockets and it’s dark so it’s very useful. Unfortunately it also belonged to an old housemate of mine who my ex cheated on me with. My jacket is kind of waterproof and warm and comfortable. Unfortunately it also was a gift from another ex, which is a hard thing to be reminded of. I did try the ‘break up and throw all things that remind me of them away’ approach. I threw away a lot of suff, although I am not so sure it helped. Now I’m trying something new. I am not so sure it’s helping.
Engaging with beauty is not a simple thing for me. Attempts at this inevitably lead to feelings of guilt for some reason. Thinking about what I wear or the way I look or even simple decorating (getting a nice object from a second-hand shop that doesn’t serve any other purpose than creating beauty) somehow tangle in my head with self-accusations of shallowness (whatever that means) and narcissism and uselessness, resulting in an obsession with utility. Utility everywhere; permeating everything; are my objects useful, are my clothes useful are my thoughts useful am I doing enough and how does every action I perform contribute to something usefully. I have grown a belief system constructed around equations like ‘usefulness = anti-consumerism’ and ‘pleasure in beauty or anything really = selfishness and decadence that ultimately props up the disgusting consumerism.’ Every time I’d have a want for useless but beautiful or simply just joy-creating things I’d feel like I’ve been manipulated by advertising yet again. I’d have to engage in long justifying sessions to be able to convince myself to do anything for pure joy. I have built myself to be an exceptional machine; ever self-optimising through swimming and yoga and study and work and eating the right foods and planning 20 steps ahead and perfection perfection perfection and a fuckload of anxiety and nervous energy. Once I started suffering from all of this I realised that being a machine or a piece of the machinery or a means to a goal is exactly what happens when we internalise the principles of productivity. Everything we look at secedes to an all-levelling all-destroying one-dimensional reality. Fuck. This. I have decided to reclaim beauty and pleasure and joy for myself because I am staging a protest in the everyday.