I must find myself


I am experimenting with the optimal time to write. It is clear that an evening session would be very challenging. The children are most unsettled. I keep falling asleep before them. Naoise loves to draw at night then he always wants an extra book. I enjoy the reading but was slurring the words and falling asleep on its pages last night. Syd just wants to stay up, he is a teenager and a creature of the night. We are trying to get him to read. Last night we encouraged him with  To Kill a Mocking Bird, I thought that he would like it, Partick says that he enjoyed the beautiful descriptions but it was like pulling teeth out to get him to begin.

To begin. A start is always a tricky thing. To begin I must start my tax return today. This is so boring and mundane yet it hangs like a storm cloud around my mind taking up, sapping up energy which I would rather place elsewhere. I found my gateway pass yesterday, I had completely turned my studio over looking for it, only to find it at home filed in a canvas bag on the coat hooks, a completely illogical filing cabinet.

This is day two of cutting out sugar from my diet, and I am taunted by cake, its sometimes all that I can think about, not just one cake but many, all my favourites chocolate, courgette, coffee, date and walnut, ginger….. a beauty contest of confectionary laid out before me. Apparently I will feel like a million dollars in three months. Just 24 hours feels like an eternity.

Naoise seemed a little more awake this morning as I carried him on my shoulders to school. He asked to be put down just before we crossed the road near the Gauxholme Arches. I was pleased, my shoulders hurt. He is getting heavier. He is getting bigger. Next month he will be six. Naoise took a glass crystal to school for show and tell. He loves sparkly things, he loves show and tell, he calls the crystal his treasure, he thinks it is extremely valuable. I am delighted when he places it against his eye and it creates a kaleidoscopic affect that is most pleasing. I get him to pose with the crystal and I take his photograph.


Walking out on the tops today.

<break mum rings from Scotland>

Walking on the tops today, its mostly grey and muddy so muddy that I slip and slide down the paths on the way downhill. I admire the dry stone walls some intact, some tumbling down, some with fox gloves poking in between and all the green moss. It hails. Small balls of ice attack me. I stop and film myself and the hail. I am trying to find myself. By turning the camera on me. Its not for vanity. Its about confronting who I am. Thirteen years of mothering, has led to a small crisis. I am all bumpy and lumpy, jam roll polly pudding and custard. I want to be lean lean lean and skipping as a spring lamb.

Patrick calls me the Rousseau of Todmorden. I think that I must read again Wunderlust by Rebecca Solnit. I think of the walk by  Marina Abramovic and Ulay- The Lovers (The Great Wall: Lovers at the Brink). I think about all those great artists walking. How a walk can be art.

My great auntie is 99 today. 99 what an age, what a woman. If I live to 99 I wish to be as agile in mind and body as her. I sent her an owl card. She is most certainly wise. The matriarch of my mothers family.

Mum sounds a bit sad, she is struggling with the short days and the lack of light, and this time of year. She has met so many losses. Her mother died on boxing day, her eldest sister passed away four years ago. She says she is drinking whiskey, baking nice food to compensate, to comfort her suffering. I ask if she has read more of the book H is for Hawk. Its about grief. I thought that she would enjoy it,  but she tells me she is struggling even to read. I hate to hear of her suffering. It is the dying time of the year. The bleakest. It is the time to die.

Womans’ hour was good today. All talk of women artists at the Tate Gallery, of Sonya Dellauney, Barbara Hepworth, Tracy Emin, Marlene Dumas. How I adore them all, but especially Dumas. Her show is at Tate Modern, it opens in Febrruary, maybe I will make it down there. It has been so long since I have visited, I could team it up with seeing my dear friend L and her new baby boy. I should go and see her, she was so supportive of me 13 years ago when Syd was born and I was trapped inside the maisonette at Kings Cross. She even bought Syd a pair of shoes when I had no money. This was so so kind.

Whilst up on the hills, I think of an imaginary baby, a ghost baby, my third child. Here in the wind and the hail and the cold and the mud I hold him in my arms. I imagine feeding him. I imagine a photograph me all in blood red, dress and shoes and lipstick, hair down, a read madonna, holding a baby, standing on my dinning room table, looking into the camera. I hold air, I hold my breath, I hold my imagination.

I read some of Sylvia’s journal from 1959, I extract the paragraph that seems most vivid, that has some resonance with me and my words. This is what she says about this day 56 years ago.

january 8


Very bad dreams lately. One just after my period last week of losing my month-old baby: a transparent meaning. The baby, formed just like a baby, only small as a hand, died in my stomach and fell forward: I looked down at my bare belly and saw the round bump of its head in my right side, bulging out like a burst appendix. It was delivered with little pain, dead. Then I saw two babies, a big nine month one, and a little one month one with a blind white-piggish face nuzzling against it: a transfer image, no doubt, from Rosalind’s cat and kittens a few days before: the little baby was a funny shape, like a kitten with white skin instead of fur. But my baby was dead. I think a baby would make me forget myself in a good way. Yet I must find myself.

The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962, edited by Karen V. Kukil, Page 458

The sun is shinning now, some blue sky appearing within the breaks of the cloud. The road is busy, cars stream past and the train at the back. I have come to a natural stop. I will rebel and stop before the buzzer on the oven sounds its incessant beep beep beep BEEP.

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