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How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

            January 2010

Hello there

How are you?

I decide to try and be a Nanny. It is a raint freezing morning in London as I make my way to an office in the city for an interview. I have a resume that I emailed and think that it must be good. All my teaching experience and they don’t know about my failed attempts at emergency teaching here in London. I left that out. Im wearing my eighteen lace up dock martens to protect my feet from the rain and puddles. My head is kept warm by a purple beanie I got from Top Shop. I will gush about that place later. 

I get lost as always but I finally find my way to the Nanny agency. It is a small hot room that I am showed into. An old woman straight out of a fairy tail involving a witch with a bad attitude, looks up at me without smiling.  What proceeds is the most awkward and unpleasant conversation I have ever had in a job interview and I cried during an interview at a infant day care centre.

This woman asks me what my parents do for a living. My parents? I say. Why is that relevant? The woman snaps that I do not have any right to question what her clients want in an employee. Did they study and if so what do they do now?

Oh shit. I think. I say that they are farmers and did not go to university. I want to slap this woman for the look she gives me. I did though. I say. I studied… I get cut off and the rest of the interview is very short and to the point. She cannot and will not place me with any families. I am far away from an appropriate person to even meet with any of her families.  It is still eaining when I get back outside and I cry on my way to the train. 

I decide to look into being an Au Pair. I could do that anywhere in the UK maybe even leave London and go back to Manchester. This makes me hopeful. I look into the way families chose someone to live with them and look after their children. Its fairly straight forward. I talk to parents on the phone and they tell me what they are looking for and how much a week they will pay. It is not much. It seems the room and board thing is used to make you work with their most precious babies for no more than between 20 – 40 pounds a week. That’s basically pocket money. I wont be flying to Praugue and seeing the Bone Church any time soom like I have been wanting to since planning this trip.  I talk to a single mother with an adopted 5 year old. She sounds amazing and lives in Brighton. But the amount she can pay is just not enough.

Finally I get a call from a woman  called Jill who lives in Manchester with her partner Haley and their two small daughters Ada age 3 and Rosa age 4. When I tell Jill that I am a qualified Teacher she agrees to add 20 quid to my weekly pay. Jill sounds lovely and asks me what I like to do as she lives at the end of the Altricham tram line and is worried that it may be too isolated. I tell her that’s fine a tram into the city is good enough for me. I like reading and music I tell her. She checks my social media and shows photos of me to her daughters. I get the job before meeting them in person.

Even though I do not get the job in Brighton I decide while waiting for Jill to call me back, I will take a day trip to Brighton by getting a bus. I have very little money but the bus fair is not too bad and I don’t eat much. I listen to music on my ipod as I sit on the bus and stare out the window at the cold snow fallen scenery. I think of you and I also think how amazing it is that im here all on my own doing what I have to do to survive. I am excited to look after little kids with Manchester accents.  The bus ride is long. I have snacks in my back pack and a bottle of water to save on buying anything.

At the bus stop I ask a young woman in a hajib if she could take my photo with my camera. I set up the photo: its me sitting with my backpack with Mildrid my small cat soft plush with the huge button eyes. I want the photo to show me talking with Mildrid, my faithful travel companion since I purchased her at the airport in Bangkok.  The young woman agreed and seemed quite amused by my request. 

Brighton in January is a ghost town. There is nobody about and the pier is deserted. I wander around anyway utterly enthralled by how cold and empty it is. The ocean is actually frozen. Ive never seen such beauty. I thought the beach in winter back home was my happy place. I was wrong. Walking alone up and down the pier at Brighton Beach, watching the ice capped water flow and splash about under a grey sky, with only me around. It felt like I was in a wonderfully meaningful film ending or beginning. The moment where the heroin remembers who she is and what matters truly to her. I feel free. I find a record store and art gallery and explore them. I buy a record so I can always remember this day that I spent in Brighton on a winters day.  It’s a Of Montreal Albumn, one I have not been listening to obsessively on my ipod. I hope I do like it when I finally do get to listen to it.  I place Mildrid on a shelf in the record store and take photos of her in the punk section.  I set up the timer on my camera and manage to get some loner girl photos of me sitting at a table on the pier with Mildrid, the icy ocean below and the cold grey sky above.  As I am trying to make Mildrid stay standing on a ledge near a poster for a concert, old couple walk up to say hello to me.  They are wearing matching coats and scarves. We chat as the wind blows an icy pack of needles into our faces.

It starts to get dark as I board the bus back to London.

This will be my last letter to you written from London in this room. I will be in Manchester or more accurately Greater Manchester within the week. Living in a slit leval semi detached house  with poper windows and central heating. I will be living with a same sex couple who each had one of the babies via sperm donors. Haley had Ada and Jill had Rosa.  Im so excited to leave London. To have a job that I think I will be good at and will no longer have to stress about what a failur I am. I mean its not a fancy job like Lauren and those girls have but its something. Its better than nothing.

Maybe I will see a doctor there who is not suspicious of my medical requirements. That would be a relief.

till next time

JX

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

December 2009

Oh dear it is a strange time here

She just wants someone to take her to the film version of one of her favourite picture books as a child. Someone to share a coke with. The trailer just came on television, as she sat in the arm chair under the lamp counting her breaths in a minute.. A wave of melancholia washed over her and made her shiver. The tremor it caused tingled down her spin. The over zealous spine that had tried to out grow her.  There was a pearl of hope that was stumbled upon, there in the deep dark backwaters of her psyche.

When pleading for things from the cosmos. It was discovered by Jess, that it is incredibly important to be specific. She had asked for ‘’someone’’ and that was given. She should have been grateful and jubilant as she sat in the incredibly beautiful and intimate Lexi Cinema on Harrow rd.  It was only a short walk in the snow from Haycroft Gardens. The ceiling above he and Justin’s head was a series of tiny fairy lights that slowly changed colour from green to blue to purple. Fluffy white blankets had been handed out due to a malfunction in heating. A woman was singing and playing a baby piano down the front, behind her was velvet curtains that held the big movie screen behind them. The woman sang with a sweet yet strong voice, Justin and Jess munched on chocolate and 69pence bottles of generic cola.

On Smith Street in Melbourne’s shabby hip inner city suburb of Collingwood, there is a supermarket with a roof top car park. At the supermarkets entrance, you need to pass by a selection of homeless, alcoholics, junkies and mental illness ravaged individuals. The type of people who need the most help but, get ignored and demonized instead

There is also a particularly pathetic looking dog that is half starved with eyes so full of despair they seem almost human. The dog’s eyes follow your footsteps listlessly. As does one man in a brown t shirt and ripped track suit pants. He is not silent as you pass, he draws attention to your karma and how it will get you very soon in your sleep. Failing that  your karma will seize you in the wakeful stupor you call living. 

It still surprised Jess how close to poverty she now lived and she would often stop to chat to these people at the entrance. But today it was too hot and she felt sticky and tired. She wandered down each isle of the supermarket enjoying the air conditioned comfort as she got the essentials, pumpkin, tuna, rice and a bottle of vodka. She was day dreaming as she did this and as usual was unaware of how many people were doing a double take at this small girl in longish shorts held up with a studded belt and a ripped band t shirt. A bright red basket hanging from one pale arm. Her shiny brown hair was always in her eyes and she would try numerous ways of getting it out of her eyes, by either tossing her head or using a free hand or blowing uselessly upward towards her fringe. 

Justin was watching her the whole time, completely forgetting what he had come to buy. He watched her with confused arousal. Who was this girl? He watched her walk around the fresh vegetable section and tried to figure out how to start a conversation. Unfortunately he was aware that at a supermarket renowned for shady clientele and heavy security, it was not a place where a girl would be most responsive to a come on. Besides he himself was a junky and had nothing in the world but time.

He simply followed her around under the florescent lighting and sub zero air conditioning due to the oppressive December heat. He watched her pick up and flick through a rolling stone magazine. He felt this was a good sign, the chick liked music and he was in a band. It’s a strange phenomenon that creative paupers when male, have no end of bed mates or girls willing  share a bed with them.

Five years later and it’s a cold evening in a northwest area of London. Justin and Jess are making their way home after the movie. Jess had wiped her tears while Justin was using the men’s room.  He either did not notice or chose to ignore the emotional display. The adaptation of Where the Wild Things are, had touched her. She had welled up at the part where Max is saying farewell to the wild things. They are standing on the beach and the ocean is getting rough. Max gets hugged and is told ‘I could eat you up I love you so.’ That one line had done it and she looked to her left to take in the profile of Justin’s angular pale jaw and dark brown eyes. His curly black hair and long fingered hands. They were the hands of a talented guitar player. She searched herself for that intense type of emotion she found it but it was not inspired by the boy next to her. She tried to find enough but it was not there as much as she wished it. She did want to eat him up out of love hunger. He put on an act of listening to her but he would rarely follow or keep hold of any thread of her ideas or stories. He would abruptly change the subject or bring the topic round closer to himself.  That was unless it involved sex. He was fascinated by her Mormon. He viewed it with the same lust and fetish that  other men viewed Spanish accents or women’s feet.

More snow had fallen whilst they had been snuggled under blankets in the cinema. How eerily silent the falling snow is, its innate sneakiness goes against its innocent pure veneer.

‘So…when did you first have sex?’ He asked as he stumbled on a patch of icy sleet.

‘I was nearly 25 and I had been with the boy for a year.’

 ‘He waited a year?’ Justin said in disbelief.  ‘Wasn’t he bursting out of his pants?’ He looked at her with lollipop eyes all big and brown.

‘Of course not, he was patient and understanding, said he cared about me….’ She trailed off not wanting to continue any more. There was no desire to reveal everything to Justin. He did not seem to have enough empathy or compassion to hear the full story. She knew that this was a bad sign, the not wanting to be completely honest. It was unusual in a girl who was usually honest to a socially awkward and pathological degree.

‘So…? I came close to being your first.’’ Justin mused aloud and with some satisfaction.

‘Dude, Pahleas!.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘Like I was going to loose my flower to a guy who chatted me up at a tram stop.’

The Bourke street tram stop to be precise and they were both waiting for the number 96 east Brunswick tram. It was a hot Tuesday afternoon and Justin could not believe his luck when he noticed the girl women standing two steps away. He was positive he could feel her glance at him a few times, yet when he looked at her she was staring of into the cloudless blue sky that resembled faded blue denim., with a dreamy smile on her face. Her hair was in two very messy plaits with strands of hair falling out.

Oh god did that guy know I was staring at him? She thought. Gosh what a looser he must thing I am. Justin could wait no longer. He sidled up to her and spoke.

‘Do you live around Collingwood? I swear I have seen you at the Safeway on Smith Street.’ 

‘More than likely you have.’ She answered with faux nonchalance. She was surprised and thrilled that someone she actually found attractive was initiating conversation. ‘I live between Nicholson and Brunswick Street and I do like to eat.’

‘Oh that’s so funny because I live in-between Nicholson and Rathdown Street.’

‘I love Nick Cave too! And the Pixies.’ She said excitedly. She also was keeping an eye out for cameras. Was this a set up for a television show? She thought with worry.

Her face broke into a smile at the coincidence and Justine stared into her face wondering if he was a total sleaze for wanting to fuck a girl with such elfin features.  When the tram pulled up she stepped onto it with regret not thinking he would sit with her. He followed her up the steps and waited to see where she would sit and sat in the seat directly opposite her and continued chatting about bands he liked. She grinned in happy surprise.

He smiled at her.

’Hey,’ he said as if he had just had the idea. ‘Why don’t I give you my number so we can hang out sometime?’

She smiled softly and as if they shared a secret.

‘Ok.’

He tried not to stare at her legs all bare and smooth in the tiny shorts.

He wrote his name and number on a scrap piece of paper, with a yellow texta he had in his pocket. He handed it to her. The tram pulled up at their stop the corner of Alexandra parade and Nicholson Street.   They get off and look at each other in a moment she will go  right and he will walk left. The day is no longer just another hot uneventful day of poverty and aimless time. Two people now had a purpose, of sorts.

‘O.K well, call me soon.’

‘Yeah sure, ah see you.’ The man turns green and he watches her cross the road.

Once at her own front door with the green paint peeling and the black graffiti on the front gate, she smiles as she fishes out her key to unlock the front door.

That was half a decade ago. Now Justin was staying with her in London, standing with his back to the window facing the street. The curtains are wide open and he is watching with a happy leer as she hops around the room in bra and underwear as she looks for clothes.  For the nearly two weeks he stays with her. She tries to muster up level of affection she should feel for a reformed junkie with dreams. It is decided doing affectionate things for him may help. So she does his washing and makes him things to eat. Sneaks him into the bathroom with a clean towel.  He was a man pet who paid by making her bed springs squeak and hear beat quicken as she tried to muffle moans by biting his pale shoulder. One night they snuck down to the living room when everyone was asleep and they watched a weird art house film called Café Flesh. In the movie a post apocalyptic world has resulted in   most humans being unable to engage in copulation or any form of sexual contact. If they even try they get nauseous and vomit. The small percentage left (1%) who can have sex must do so for the voyeuristic pleasure  of those who cannot.

She tried to will her insides to jump a little when he kissed her, to no avail. When he pressed his lips to hers and touched her, there were physiological reactions conducive to sexual gratification. But that was the extent of it she did not feel her insides jump and try to break away with soul gripped firmly by invisible hands.

 This her rock n roll overseas romance. What an underwhelming experience it is turning out to be.  The cook dinner at midnight when the house is quiet. The kitchen is too small for more than two people to be cooking at once. There is the mournful sound of a mouse dying behind the oven. Caught in a trap or just eaten some rat kill.

‘Why did you put the pasta in the water before it boiled.’ He exclaims.

‘Sorry.’ She steps out of the way.

‘Here let me do it.’ He says taking her place.

‘What the fuck is wrong with you today? Your so emotional.’ His words were barely finished before she had to fight the tearful out burst that was threatening to bubble and fizz out.  Should she tell him that since he got here she has not taken an anti depressant in a bid to save the 6 she had left?  That as a result of this she was finding even the simplist thing way above her perceived level of ability.  She wanted to stab him with her fork sometimes because of who he was and because of who he wasn’t.  She simply reached up into the cupboard above her head and took down two plates.

‘I am emotional.’ She replied in a voice like concrete, flat and hard.

It’s a load of rubbish all this global warming rubbish.’ Justin commented over dinner. Jess had started talking about the worrying number of people who still used plastic bags at the supermarket. Not that it was just that. The wealthy cause more damage and take no responsibility at all.

‘Don/t you think its better to be more careful when it comes to the furure of the planet we rely on?’ She had asked. ‘I mean just to be on the safe side?’

‘Not if the whole thing is not true.’ He had retorted.

Oh dear. Jess thinks.

 It was incredibly enjoyable pulling a fast one on Patrick and she knew he knew that Justin was staying overnight but the poor bastard had no proof.  If he did she would have to pay ten pounds for every night that Justin had stayed over.  One night as they were snuggled on the couch, under a blanket. Patrick surprised them by coming through the living room, on his way out to the backyard for a cigarette. They had been half watching a movie. The wiry man was holding an umbrella and he pointed it inches from Justin’s startled face.

‘Who are you and where are you from?’ Patrick had asked like an inquisition master.

Justin spoke calmly and with confidence.’ I am from Australia but have been living in Berlin for the past four years.’  Under the blanket Jess’s right hand was busy inside the front of Justin’s pants.  When Patrick finally had his cigarette and left to return to his room. Justin’s breath becomes laboured and he kissed her ferociously. How are you so good at this?’ He muttered into her ear with hot breath tickling. Jess monitored her fingers expertly around the hard shape  that bulged from his  underpants. She had kept her hands from going under the cotton of his underwear and the effect was amusing

To Jess and  Justin felt his brain turn to  jelly as the blood rushed to his groin. She removed her hand and rested it on top of the blanket. 

‘Let’s watch the rest of the movie.’  The film inspired Jess to give affection. Try the kind that exists between two people who have been together for years. Inspired by the plight of the main character and his unique temperament and issues. Jess decided to just …pretend her way to the real thing. She leans her head on the person who does not believe in climate change’s shoulder. Before she has her full weight rested, Justin shrugs her head of and away from his shoulder. 

‘Am I too heavy?’ She asked.

‘You feel heavier than you should.’ Was his reply. ‘You want to be rescued.’ He sounded so sure of himself as if she was just some silly little girl.

Her attempt had failed and been grossly misunderstood.

Rescued? Why the fuck would she seek saviour from a guy who had not been employed in over 15 years? He had been staying with her!  For the past 11 days! Who was keeping him off the freezing streets of an unforgiving city? He was 42 for god’s sake, a man child! Preoccupied with boyish dreams of rock stardom. It was this that she did find sort of endearing until this little scenario unfolded. The anger and fury were there beneath her cold exterior she presented for his eyes only. The movie had finished and the credits were rolling. Jess struggled out from under the blanket and stood up.

‘I was being affectionate.’ She said looking down at him before turning and making her way to the bedroom. She started up the unlit staircase to bed. Hoping he would not follow, hoping he might apologise, hoping she could care more by the time she reached the landing. All hope had ceased and fatigue took over she was exhausted from pretending.  He crept in as she was almost asleep, and crawled silently into the narrow bed with her.  He kissed her wet cheeks thinking he had caused the tears totally unaware that he shared her with an invisible presence.

When he does leave he takes my Drop Kick Murphys t shirt and copy of Hunter S Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt. i dont think i will get them back.

I am starting to look for work as a live in nanny or au pair. I mean I have a teaching degree and grew up in a big family. I have the experience.

My hand hurts from writing this.

feel the burn!

JX

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

December 2009

Hi hello

I guess this Justin guy is attractive. I still wish it was for you that I went and got my arm pits waxed just now.  That it was you who would text me when he was at the front door so I could sneak you in without Patrick finding out.

 Does this mean I do love love you? If a hot muso guy fails to whip me up into a stomache full of butterfly scattering discombobulation.

I got my arm pits waxed at a beauty parlor on Harrow Road.  The woman who did them, made me wait for agesas she spoke on her mobile phone in a language I couldn’t understand but liked listening to. I didn’t mind waiting. I used my hoodie as a pillow and curled up in the arm chair to have a little rest.  At one point, the lady talking on her mobile, came over to my seat and affectionately patted me on the head, whilst smiling down on me. It was such a motherly gesture filled with affection and warmth. It was a gesture I much appreciated. There was even a beautiful golden coloured dog following an old man around as he distributed cups of tea to the hair dressers and the receptionist.  I felt like I was in a foreign art house film. 

Before going to the beauty parlour I had had a trial day as a teacher at a special needs school in Houslow. I do not have high hopes for it though. I tried my best but I have been doing that for months now and it has not been enough.

When I got home I found that Angelisse had cleaned our room from top to bottom. It smelled of lemons and the floorboards were all shiny and clean. I don’t think JP and I ever cleaned it.  

I got a cheap bottle of vodka from the off l;icence down the road. If all else fails with Justin, I can just get disgracefully drunk  and cause a cringe worthy scene that will make him hate me. I may feel different once I see him in the flesh, in real life and within touching distance. I have not spoken to him  face to face in five years.

He said he would be at the station near my place by seven. I wonder if I should take him straight to the pub near the station and hang out there until Patrick is in bed. The dude is usually in bed by 10:30pm. I feel like that is the safest way to avoid a run in with pathetic Patrick.

By 5:30pm I have done my hair and put on my fav pair of underwear, they have monkeys on them. My jeans are on and my eye liner is applied. Oh and my invisible apathy blanket  stitched and wrapped around me tight, bones warmed by comforting indifference.

It seemed as if Justin was never going to show up. He had not messaged by seven and nothing by 8:30pm.  I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom with my back against the warm radiator, staring at nothing. Angelisse walks into the bedroom and says to me. ‘Your boy is down stairs talking with Patrick.’

‘Oh, shit!’ I say in shocked horror.

I ran down the stairs and saw the entrance to the house straight away. Justine was standing on the stoop and Patrick was standing there like lord of the manor with the door held open and letting freezing winter night air inside, as he interrogated Justin.

‘’Who are you?’ ‘Are you going away tonight?’

Why didn’t Justin message me like I asked? I think. Justin is being evasive with non comital responses. ‘Are you the land lord?’ Justin asks.

‘No, I just keep a lid on the madness.’ Patrick says. I want to kick Patrick hard in his shins. All he had to do was come get me and say my friend was here. He really is a total prick.  Who knows how long this would have gone on had Angelisse not noticed on her way to the kitchen.  Would Patrick have sent Justin away and never told me he came? When Justin looked up and saw me on the stairs he looked very relieved. ‘’Hello, want to come upstairs?’ I said, ignoring Patrick completely. The weirdo simply slinked away as soon as he heard my voice. I led him upstairs and into the bedroom where I shut the door behind us. He presented me with a fake flower that he took from the strange Just Married car that’s been parked on my street for weeks now.  He had also bought along some vodka.  We drank vodka while sitting on my bed and talking. It was good and now he is staying for a few days. Angelisse is cool with it and has been working a lot lately so hardly home.  The only real problem is Patrick. If he finds out about Justin sleeping over he will demand money, like 40 pounds a night or something.  So the plan is to elude Patrick for as long as we can. Justin has no money and you know how much I do love helping boys fulfil their potential, dreams and aspirations. 

Last night Justin took me to see one of his friend’s bands play. The guitarist played his guitar like it was a life raft and the drummer had quite the beard.  He also played drums so fast it was like he had five arms instead of two.  After the gig was over there was a lot of waiting around while Justin did what I assume was band stuff and did not introduce me to anyone. Later that night as we chatted I found out that five years ago when he and I met he had lied to me about his age. He had told me he was 27 but he was really 37. My eyes popped out in shock. I had only been 22. He said he was doing that for his music career. You have to seem young in the music business.

I nodded in understanding and did not make a big deal out of the fact he had been significantly older than he claimed when i was just a 22 year old virgin.I didn’t say what I was really thinking. Which was that the little fib didn’t seem to be doing much for his music career.

Till next time

from this cold climate to your hot one

hugs

Jx

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

January 2010

Hello There

In a city as densely populated as London, it stands to reason that things like postage is delivered even on weekends.  On this particular Saturday morning I was sitting in my usual spot, on the floor with back against the heater. The snowy street outside my window went unseen as my curtains were drawn to keep in the heat in. This was because the window panes were so draughty that the ice came in and froze on the inside of the window. I was sitting on the floor spending the morning with a hot chocolate and Kundra’s The Incredible Lightness of Being.  The book was quite absorbing but my brain was doing quite a few things at once.  Does your sexy mind do that?   It’s like a splice within a splice.

One part of my brain was reading Kundra’s words, sentences and paragraphs. I was internalizing ideas and philosophies. Was He right in suggesting you can only get drunk on music and not books? Yes and No. I get the idea. I would love to write about music but it would be too difficult to try and write down the magic that surrounds my love of music.

  Another section of brain is occupied with weighing up my options  for survival over the next few months. Finally as usual, my mind was concerned with roughing out a letter to you. Is this a sign of genius or insanity? The ability to delegate parts of my brain to separate categories. 

There is a timid knock on my door, so I place my book down on the floorboards and promptly knock over my mug of half finished hot chocolate. I left the mess with a curse and went to the door. There was nobody there when I opened it but, my foot kicked something. Looking down and see a yellow rectangular package. Before my eyes had time to even comprehend the words, I knew it was for me and I knew it was from you. Your handwriting is emblazoned across my consciousness. It is strange how such mundane things as penmanship can take on a whole new resonance and emotive importance, when the person is so very far away and longed for. I loved the quote you had written on the back of the package.

‘That is the problem with perfection; it leaves so much to be desired.

I smiled  and pressed my fingers over the words that were your name and address, words that you had written with your very own hands. Hands that had been so so very close to me, as close as a hand can possibly get to a person. Now those hands exist in a different time zone, a different country, a different season to my own hands, my own blood, bones and body. To say I loved the gift that I found on opening the package with eager hands, would be an insult to my feelings. ‘

For me, being a wannabe writer, the moleskin diary has always been considered a rather sacred object. Too self conscious to ever buy one, I marvel at them in newsagents and fancy book stores, all fresh and sealed in plastic. I think it is the fact that great writers and artists used them and those holier than thou posers in cafes. 

Any matter, the fact I was given one by someone else, means that someone special acknowledges my aspirations and more than that this person  believes my words are worth putting down in such a revered place.  I sat down on my bed and read the letter that filled the first five pages of my gift and this only added to the value I placed on it. I do not care if you found it in a box of archive stuff, that information did nothing to lesson my glee.  My eyes gulped down your words like it was delicious and giddy inspiring gin. 

Don’t let the differences that exist in alternate places on the SAME planet dishearten you. Our thoughts are very close.

‘You had written and crossed out the word ‘together’ did you think that word was too much? Silly, always covering your tracks when it comes to the emotive.  I found a few other things you had sent that I immediately blue tacked to my wardrobe doors.  A cartoon sticker of your face, complete with reindeer antlers and a halo.  Two A4 computer print outs of slogans that were perfect for me.I now have quite the exhibition going on now.

I read about the pleasure you took from simple and useless activities such as basketball being played in the midst of a January heatwave. Here I gather the same pleasure from walking aimlessly around in the freezing cold. The air so frigid it actually makes your face hurt, you can feel your blood working overtime to heat you internally. I walk and marvel at my breath fogging out.

I wonder how cold it has to be to make your saliva freeze if you spit it out.  I let my fingers go numb before shoving my hands into pockets and heating my cold little knuckles. The big black boots on my feet crunch into the snow powder. I mimic the sound in my head crunch crunch crunch, it becomes a comforting rhythm.

After silently gushing over your gift and haphazardly cleaning up the small brown river of drinking chocolate, I made my way out to meet Catherine and Jane at the Imperial War Museum. It was located In Lambeth north which is on my train line the Bakerloo! Its silly but I get so excited when stuff is on my train line; it means you don’t need to have any change over’s in over crowded platforms, no hassles. Of course I was wrong this time as there were unexpected changeovers and a delay at Queens Park. 

It was bound to happen eventually as when the snowy powder falls silently, and is followed by rain and sub zero temperatures. The foot paths and roads can become dangerously slick like a glass.  The pretty snow becomes  a rock hard death trap, smooth, hard,  beautiful and slippery. 

While making my merry way to the tube station, happily and concentrating on my foggy breath (still not sick of it). My steps became less cautious and more devil may care. My left boot failed to grip onto the ice slick of a foot path; instead it slipped forward nano second quick. I had no time to feel panicky as fell backwards and landed flat on my back. The back of my head hit the hard ice hard. Oh the humanity the embarrassment! The helpless flailing of my arms.  I lay there on my back with my eyes squeezed shut.  Too scared to open them, my thoughts progressed thus.

Ow the back of my head had got the brunt of the fall.

Oh my god I wish I could have astral projected and seen that happen. It must have looked hilarious. A tiny girl going crutch up.

Finally I was pretty sure I had landed painfully on the occipital lobe of the brain. The part of the brain concerned with vision and placing meaning on what is seen.  There is an artery that connects from the back of each eye and leads to the occipital lobe.  It is for this reason that athletes get taken of field every time they get injuries to the back of the head and given vision tests.  My eyes are sort of messed up in that if I put to much pressure on the back of my eyes through hits or accidents, these arteries could snap and I would be blind for ever.  I am a girl that lives on the edge. My optometrist who did all the tests and found this wonderful information out was very cool. After shoving lights into my eye balls and making me do heaps of tests. He looked at me and said.

‘You do indeed have lovely blue eyes, but sweetie they are quite useless.’

This is why I was scared to open my eyes, it was quite a heavy bump that the back of my head sustained. What would I call my guide do? Holden Caulfield if a boy.  Following a deep breath the prostrate person opened her eyes. Blue sky, the dirty yellow paint job of a shop front, a fat man’s kind concerned face as he looked down at me.

‘Are you ok?’ He asked in a Canadian accent.

‘Yes thank you.’ I laughed gratefully as I slowly got myself up. My vision was no worse and my head hurt with a consistent thumping feel.

I am ok. I should just pay more attention to my surroundings and pay less attention to the inside of my own head. He he I know, as if i can do that.

JX

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

27 December 2009

Hello there

Been sitting on the floor of my bedroom for a while now, my back against the radiator, that sits under the windows. Doing nothing except watch the room grow darker. My Spanish roommate sleeps soundly only snoring a tiny bit. I don’t know how much longer I can take my extreme emotional erratics. I am running very low on my meds, and will soon run out. Can you imagine my shame if I have to come home simply because I cant get a mood stabilizer prescription?  The doctors in London are fucked. They are so jaded they do not care anymore. I burst into stressed out tears in front of one and she watched with contempt before saying.

‘Your trying to blackmail me.’

So I sit here watching the floorboards go from orange in the setting sun rays, to grey in the dusk and finally black. The heat from the radiator seems to seep into my aching spine and make me feel like not all is incurable. Its good just sitting here in the dark thinking about myself thinking about you and how cute you look with a lumberjack beard. Thanks for posting that photo on my wall. I know it was no accident you drew my attention to a photo where one of your ears is in view. Thinking about this year and what a total write of its been…again. I am so apathetic right now there is no point in making up new years resolutions. Why bother self improvement is just ego masturbation, right? 

It was great spending Christmas in Brixton with Lauren, Jane and Anna. Doing what so many people are too scared to try. Catherine was spending Christmas with her relatives in Scotland.  She had left gifts for us all though complete with gold star tags that read with love santa. Too cute, though I felt like a total stingy bitch because I got nobody anything and both Catherine and Lauren got me presents. I was way beyond poor. It was so touching that after knowing me for only a short time, the gifts I received were so thoughtful. I loved my harmonica so much I kept it in my pocket while we had our delicious hot lunch and champagne. Catherine had given me a punk rock colouring book! It has punk band word searches and a dot to dot of The Ramones!

It was pretty exciting to see Anna get an acoustic guitar from Lauren.

‘Oh ducky!’ Anna gushed in awe. ‘I have always wanted to learn!’

‘I know.’ Lauren replied as they hugged with the guitar between them.

Anna had given Lauren a build your own camera. Which was constructed on boxing day morning. Christ’s birthday was celebrated with much drinking and  music oh and conversations about those strange penis carrying creatures, men. Its so weird saying men I know that now we are all nearing our late twenties its probably the more accurate description.  As she strummed the melody to Lou Reed’s heroin song, Lauren told us the latest vagary of her love life.

Alex had flown to Europe for some travelling, see a music festival with Lauren and proceed to tell a stunned and confused Lauren, that he still had feelings for her.

We were all speechless.

‘I know I know!’ She said fingers strumming more angrily. ‘This is not in keeping with my men are more practical theory at all! I mean how the fuck can this work?’

‘Sometimes you need to just take things moment to moment and enjoy the  wonder and bizarreness of it all.’ Anna suggested.

‘Well in the tent as the rain pissed down I didn’t question it.’ Lauren replied with a smile.

‘So.?…what happened then?’ I asked. I swear we all actually leaned towards her to hear well.

‘’I kissed him of course.’

We cheered and clapped.

‘I think I will skype him now.’ With that Lauren took her laptop into  Catharine’s room.

When she reappeared her face was troubled and she seemed grumpy.  She sat on the couch next to Jane and said nothing. The room filled with sadness.

What’s the matter?

Lauren sighs and looks up in frustration. ‘He asks questions and I give yes or no answers.

‘Unless we are talking face to face for real. I can not elaborate, then I just get angry.’

It was decided cigarettes needed to be smoked on the roof.  We put on coats, scarves and fingerless gloves.  The view of a deserted Brixton sprawled beneath us was truly eerie. Dirty, run down buildings, Faded shop fronts and roads free of cars.  The 25th of December inspired a complete shut down of everyday nuisances’. 

I loved this rundown part of London so full of character and usually crime.  For today at least, the borough of Brixton was peaceful and serene. As the girls smoked I breathed in the icy air and took great pleasure in watching my breath fog out.

‘Perhaps the phone and skype thing is something you could get better at.’ Anna suggested.

Her frustration made her answer sound a little petulant. ‘Its not something I want to have to get good at.’

‘What about letters.’ I knew it was silly as soon as the words were out of my mouth. Everyone looked at me with a mixture of pity and amusement. We made our way back into the tiny apartment.  You walk through the front door and can see the whole apartment from there, kitchenette to your left and living room in front. ‘Lets play a game.’ Anna suggested. ‘We each choose three songs on a playlist from the ipod. And then we try and guess who chose what.’

Lauren and I pounced on this idea like excited rock savvy kittens. Once selections were made, which took a while as Lauren and I took this game incredibly seriously scrolling through the  possible artists and songs for perfection. The four of us danced around the small living area and I stopped only to refill my plastic bottle with more vodka, lemon lime and water.  We were dancing around to Boys Don’t Cry when Lauren stopped mid spin. ‘We have to watch some movies if that ok.’ She said.

Her dad had died a couple of years ago. They had a Christmas tradition of watching National Lampoons Vacation every Christmas.  We sat around the laptop screen, munching on chocolates and crisps. I though of my own family and felt bad that I had not been able to send any gifts. You were the only one who received a gift from me. 

I grab my phone and text you immediately, drunk.

I could eat you up!…but I to filled with food. Am overwhelmed by kindness and vodka xx.

It while I am settled in Catherine’s bed, trying not to fall into the sloping side of the mattress that my phone beeps. It is from you and I grin fit to burst.

You could try to eat me up. I am not much bigger but I have a higher body mass!

I fall asleep with you as my last conscious thought.

The day after Christmas see Brixton return to normal with ambulance and police sirens wailing and angry drunks yelling obscenities at imaginary or real enemies. Jane had to work at Debenhams for the busy Boxing Day sales. Ugh Debenhams is a nightmare of  stressed mothers and teenagers at the best of times.  Lauren, Anna and I spent the day drinking and dancing.

At about 8pm we glimpsed a lot of headlights passing over Catherine’s bedroom window. We went to look out and down. We found the street below backed up with cop cars and ambulance. The street was completely blocked off. There was a body under a white sheet on a stretcher. When Jane arrives home she is accompanied by a police escort. There had been a shooting and the victim was dead.

‘How could you guys not have heard the gun shots?’ Jane asks bewildered. She went to boarding school in America and sounds it.

‘We were dancing pretty hard and the music was loud.’ Lauren explained.

I helped Lauren make some dinner, left overs.

‘So you will see Alex in two weeks in Krakow. ‘

‘Yeah we have an apartment all to ourselves!’

‘So you can elaborate on conversation?’ I needled affectionately.

‘I just want to give him cuddles.’ She replied smiling softly.

I felt a familiar sting in my chest. She had a point. Given the choice between writing these letters and hugging you. I would take you in the flesh hands down.  I feel so angry and frustrated with myself all I want is to sit by your side in comfortable silence. Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps if I was lucky you would allow my head on your shoulder. 

Happy Holidays

I do not think I am a harmonica playing natural. I fear it just makes me more annoying. But I like how it feels shoved in the back pocket of my jeans.

JX

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: Love Letters

December 2009

Hello There

The days are short here.

The winter nights are long.

I am short with not much insulation.

Last night as I was writing to you there was a knock on my bedroom door. It was ignored as I knew it would be Patrick, the live in landlord. A particularly annoying and creepy and pathetic person. He persisted with the knocking. I opened the door a crack. A deliberate defensive stance I know.

‘Is Angelisse in?

‘No.’ I replied flatly.

‘Could you put this on her bed?”

‘Sure,’ I accept the orange plastic bag and close the bedroom door a bit too hard and forcefully. I opened the knot and peered inside the bag. It was nothing but chocolate bars, in variouse sizes. My eyes bulged in surprise, he was such a looser! Trying to buy my roommates friendship and loyalty. This was a silent war that I was winning. He wants Angelisse to spill about me. He knows I am hiding something and he is going crazy trying to catch me out. He hissed at me the other day as I walked from the bath room to the bedroom.

‘I know what you girls talk about in your room. I hear everything.’

Wow what a charmer, I can see why he is 50years old and living in a share house full of overpaying foreigners.  When Angelisse came home from her swim. I explained what had happened and we sat on her bed, laughing and eating the spoils of a battle not yet over.  I have hated Patrick since before JP left. He tried to bully me into leaving telling me I did not get on with people in the house. Yet on asking the French indie kids and the South African family. I was laughed at for believing Patrick and his lies..

I got your  text message about being alone on a street of town houses. Why aren’t you with family? Its nearly Christmas!

 I am meeting Lauren at Eusten station tonight and we are going to Jane and Catherine’s apartment in Brixton. Four girls far away from home at Christmas. We are all putting in a tenner for food and I am bringing vodka.. I am so excited about getting drunk on Christmas. I have never ever done it. Much less got drunk and seen snow and had to wear tights and two pairs of socks under my jeans to keep warm.

I took an antidepressant last night and it knocked me out into a deep dreamless sleep. When my alarm went off at 7 this morning, I could not move very fast. My body felt cemented to the bed and my brain was white noise. Its 1pm now and I still feel discombobulated and slow.

With us on opposite sides of the world and all, you see every new day before I do. This means you are in a weird way older than I. How does it feel?

YOU: Like I want to die now or never.

Classic you.

It snowed so much this week. At first its so beautiful, pure clean and silent. Once the day begins and humans rush through it, the pure white blanket of fluff becomes grey sludge, soft dark and dangerously slippery. Humans sure know how to mindlessly destroy anything lovely.  Have to go now and het organised to meet Lauren. This includes trekking out into the snow to return the movies me and my friend watched last night. The favourite one for me was about a pair of Siamese twin boys that are raised to be in a punk band. I will close with a quote from one of their songs.

This is a message, a message of love to you. Cant you feel it? Cant you feel my eyes on you? Just two ships in an ocean, me and you.’’

Goodbye till next time. I will keep myself warmed from the cold by thinking of you strutting around in sunshine wearing short sleeves, your arms splashed in sunshine.

Much affection, it’s my infection, the infection I got from you.

Hearts

Jess

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

December 2009

Hi

It was JP’s last night in London. She is going home to Melbourne. She is going home to her boyfriend. She says that I will be more able to enjoy myself when she is gone. I say that is not true at all. But, I think she is right. We have become a bit too reliant on each other and I want to go out more and she does not want to do that as much.

My new roomate is already living in the bedroom with JP and I. She is from Spain and is here to learn english and work as a waitress. JP and I invited her to come out with us but she had to work. The person in charge expected JP and I to pay the same amount of rent even though another person was living in the room with us for a week. I spoke up about how weird this was and managed to only get 10 pounds taken off our week. The third single bed in the room really does take away what was our dance party space.

The three of us were drinking vodka that JP had brought back from Iceland a few months ago. Angelisse the Spanish girl wan not drinking. She did gibve us fringe trims though. We were going to go out and drink somewhere that JP liked the best. We were meant to meet some people who I didnt know at all. People from JP’s cinema job. She had worked at one of the oldest cinemas in London and it was a truly beautiful building but terrible to work in.

JP had her fringe trimmed with no drama. I sat in the chair with a drunken giggle and closed my eyes so no fringe hairs would tickle my eyes as they fell over my face. The scissors were not salon grade hair cutters, they were dodgy ones fron the kitchen cutlery drawer. Angelisse nicked my left eye lid with the sciddors as she cut my fringe, much to her distress and mine. It was not a worry as she had not cut through to my eye ball, I assured her. Both JP and I marvelled at our fresh and free of charge hair cuts.

JP claims we are running late and so we must have one more drink before making our way to the pub. She pours vodka and soda water into my cup. Thats heaps! I laugh. Man up! she declares. I styart to gulp down as much as I can before pouring the rest into a bottle to drink on the train.

”Would you go home if you were me?” JP says as we sit on the tube sharing the Icelandic vodka filled bottle underneath the glaring glow of the tube carriage lights. It is hard to answer as I really don’t know. She kept saying how if she was single the trip would have been different. It made me appreciate you not making me feel bad about leaving on this adventure. It made me glad that you encouraged me to go. JP and Rick had been together for four years. He is living with her parents at the moment. I want to say that I would not go home. That I would remain determined to live my life for me and not some guy.

‘Yes, JP.’ I say thinking about what I would do if you asked me to do the same. ‘I would.’ Sbe looks at me closely. ‘Your eye lid is bleeding.’ The cut! The acohol in my system must have sped up the capilleries. i remove my glasses and feel at the eye lid with my finger. When I look at my finger its smeared with glostening blood. I start laughing helplessly and cannot stop until I run out of air in my lungs. I take a gulp of vodka. JP looks through her bag for a tissue. I was still bleeding but remain unfazed. Blood seems to be a recurring theme in my life.

‘You know, you are much prettier without your glasses.’ JP comments as she presses a tissue to my bleeding eye lid. My heart sanl as it always did when someone says that. I had expected it from stupid guys at pubs but not from JP. ‘I need them to see.’ I say cheerfully. I know she had no intention of upsetting me. But I now felt like the ugliest person in London and wanted to hide away forever. Telling someone they would be prettier without glasses is like telling someone they would pretty if they lost weight, like these things are in the control of the person being told such reductive and narrow ideas of what ‘pretty’ is. My eyelid eventually stopped bleeding while we continued chatting on the tube. We got of the tube and made our way to Brick Lane to Vibe Bar.

JP’s friend, Chris had been waiting for us for an hour and did not mind at all. He is nice and very…conventional. I am certain he finds me a bit unerving and wacky. He was kind enough to pay my entrance fee into this beer garden and a drink. I was quite sick of this particular place, JP had insisted this be the outing and it is her last night in London.

We sat at a picnic table near a far wallof the expansive beer garden. The tables under cover were all full so we sat out in the crisp cold night air . JP and Chris smoked and we all chatted. I noticed three guys sitting at a table behind JP. one of them was cute with longish hair and wearing a black biker jacket. I ask JP if she thought any of the three guys behind her was cute. Only the one in your direct eyeline. She tells me. That was the one i thought was cute. He pased the second opinion tes. I dont normally go for second opinions and give zero fucks about whethere my friends think someone is cute. I had taken my glasses off on the tube and put them in my bag, in direct reaction to JP’s comment. this was why I needed to rely on better working peepers to better assess my perception of a hot looking blur.

JP ssuggests we go say hi to cute boy and his friends. So we do. Approaching the table with greetings and can I sit heres. I I may have shouted my Hi instead of saying it in a normal volume due to my inebriated state. There was two ways this could go. I could choose to be cute and try and be normal or, I could embrace my inate bent towards silliness and see how far I can go before the guy gets weirded out.

Names are exchanged and the cute one says his name is Rod. This tiny bit of information sets the course for me to take. I grin widely at Rod. ‘Oh my goodness, Rod. Do I have a story for you.’ I say. I tell the table about how after my spinal surgery where I got stainless steel rods placed on both sides of my spine. An aunt and uncle had become obsessed with me growing up and marrying a man called Rod. It annoyed me growing up because it made me feel like i was nothing more than my spine deformity and reconstructive surgery. It made me feel like I had no identity outside of my chronic illness and hospital stays. There was no mention of any other defining characteristics of this imaginary spouse to be other than his name being Rod because thats what a girl with two stainless steel rods in her back, could hope for. But I didnt tell that to the table just the cute part about being destined to marry a man called rod and now here he is.

”Obviously my aunt and uncle were more discerning than I thought. Oh, to think that fate has finally flung us together.’ I say excitedly. ”Our marriage is assured !’ Rod and his friends laugh. I take this as a good sign and get up so I can make my way to sit right up next to Rod. I loop my arm around his and rest my head briefly on his shoulder. ‘Im so small because my mother was a fairy.’ I say softly. ‘I have powers.’ He laughs. ‘What do you do for work, Rod?’ I ask. ‘I work in a bedding factory.’ He says. ‘Oh! Like pillows and doonas?’ ‘Yep.’ He says.

‘Oh, how perfect that my husband to be should work in such an area that so perfectly suits his half fairy wife to be.’

Our conversation carried on like this and mixed in with other subjects that everyone else could contribute to. I would simply interject at certain moments of brief quiet to say something like how Rod and I would move to the beach and raise our children as free spirited creatively inspired individuals.

It came to light that these guys were from New Zealand and later JP would tell me that they were very high. I did not notice because i was not wearing my glasses and because I am too involved in my performance. Rod’s friend, sitting on the other side of me finds out I am Mormon. He says that his parents were mormon. ‘Where’s your CTR ring?’ He says. I have to explain that I am no longer a practising Mormon. I am an apostate. A CTR ring is a ring you wear if you are a young mormon person. It stands for Choose The Right. I did grow up with one. Mormon parents gift them to their offspring as a gentle reminder that though god has given you free will he has not given you freedom to chose your punishments in the afterlife. Punishments for if you drink booze or masturbate.’Oh my gosh.’ I laugh. ‘I have not worn one of those in years! It’s easier to choose wrong when you no longer wear one.’ I say. ‘Was it just your parents or you and your siblings as well?’ I say. ‘It was all of us. but it didn’t last.’ I nod and hug him in understanding. ‘Im so amazed you used to be Mormon as well. We are friends now.’ I say.

When Rod gets up to go to the toilet I say that it would not surprise me if Rod never came back. He seemed to be gone a long time. His friend assurs me that he is probably just trying to figure out his lines for when he comes back.

When Rod came back I hooked my arm around his again and rested my head on his shoulder. ‘Im so glad we met. Are you glad?’ I say not waiting for him to respond. ‘I mean I think you are perfect. Im not going to try and change you one little bit. After a pause. ‘You will cut your hair and quit smoking, after the wedding.’

After a while JP asked if I wanted to go back to Chris’s place to smoke weed. I dont want to but JP reminds me its her last night in London. I consider giving Rod my phone number and then decide against it. Best stay a weird memory, or what he looks back on as a particularly annoying drug induced hallucination.

When JP asks me whats wrong as we walk to the train station, I tell her its the usual problem.

‘You just need to get laid.’ She says. Maybe she is right.

Hope you are doing great!

JX