The friends we made on the way.

That afternoon I left the Cambridge, the ancient seat of magnificence and intelligence, with the words, “I have seen beauty, I have seen kindness.” as the colours of the divine sunset melted and glowed. The prayers and the drunk, transcendent glories of the sky almost placed me again to believe in God, or some divine being.

I cried today. The thought of revision and not having enough time was overwhelming. And the stupid decisions I must make. But in my tears I realised, there was another beauty, another kindness, which I had encountered on the way. The beauty of friendship and the kindness of my friends. That dark, grey, period of loneliness and non-existence finally condemned to the dustbin of history.

My friends cared for me, they believed in me. They said I will get into to the place of my childhood wishes. They said I will do great things. They believed in me.

My teachers believed in me.

I exist.

But the one who was with me the most, although we broke our friendship several times. The one who rooted for me in my friendlessness and non-existence. The one who believed in from the start. They will always be the dearest, no matter what hurdles or mountains or cliffs we face in the future.

But this is not to devalue my other friends. One is gold and one is silver. An old song. But they are both platinum, merely of a different age.

I have seen the heirs of nobles, the children of hunger. I have seen cruelty, evil and irresponsibility. I have seen beauty and kindness.

Everyone believes in me.

I must believe in myself.

I exist.

And,

I will change the world.

Headfirst/there is no escape

The state of waiting is over. The race has begun. Let me be neither the tortoise or the hare, but my self (others’ lives are a scare, will explain later).

This week I finished my personal statement and university application form, which will be checked over by my teachers before I officially apply. I am not fully awake right now, I am tired but trying to escape or find some better purpose than schoolwork and homework. Dad is still not well enough to return to work, but, fortunately, his hearing aids have come!

In the morning, 3 questions I decided I would like to ask myself (in no particular order):

  1. Will my father get better?
  2. Will I get into Cambridge?
  3. Will I publish my book?

The first and last are the most important, although they are all significant for different reasons.

I have much to say, but little awakeness.

I will try to recall the sentences I weaved in my head earlier today on the journey home from school:

The self-sacrifice, holy and whole submission to the system here is comparable to the self-sacrifice that the Christian religion demands.

Reasons why I want to go to Cambridge:

  1. Beautiful place, most beloved in terms of location, architecture and atmosphere of all the universities I have visited!
  2. Awesome lecturers and supervisions- should make an interesting education!
  3. Location- close by, in case anyone in my family gets ill.
  4. Prestige…
  5. Money (I know this shit from sociology and too much sensitive data)
  6. Mixture of private/state school students
  7. My father is very smart and comes from a poor background, however he did not get into the Chinese equivalent of Oxbridge for various reasons, therefore I want to make it up for him by getting into Cambridge, because I know I stand a good chance. Also because my father has not been well so I want to make him happy.
  8. Childhood dreams… perhaps something I have little freewill over since I didn’t choose to spend my 4th birthday at Cambridge (although I did consent to it for my 16th!), that’s how things went.
  9. I have the opportunity to. When I was younger, I wasn’t particularly smart, or at least I wasn’t perceived to be. It wasn’t until I was 13 I made the decisive realisation that I could/should aim for the highest grades possible, and it wasn’t until I was 16 that I had the grades the would give me the greenlights. I have high predicted grades, but a candidate that looks good on paper must look good in the interview. Also, many people simply do not have the support to apply to Cambridge, which is why I am trying my best to use this opportunity (will leave it to you to spot the irony and the cyclical argument here…)
  10. Range! The course is run by a broad range of specialists, unlike at other universities where certain topics aren’t really given that much depth and the choices are narrower (esp. Durham).

There are probably more reasons, quite tired.

I did get a headache today.

The attitude I have to things now, means everything.

It will hurt if I do not get in, because there will definitely be noticeable swathes of people at my school who do get in.

And my father’s health, means I haven’t been able to devote my full concentration to homework.

And then, my own desire to escape this cycle of death, this death of the self (perceived).

Farewell,

The End is Nigh/Before the Storm: Reflections on the Summer

Yesterday I felt rather calm, and the day before, even calmer. But slowly, I felt the breeze prickling my skin, memories of mind violence come flashing back to me sporadically. Excitement, restlessness, anxiety.

Many things happened this holiday. And all I can say was that it did not go as planned, at all.

When I came back from holiday, I actually got past my ennui pretty quickly. Which was nice. But then sizzling temperatures of 30 degrees celsius and above left me unable to work after lunch. And then, my dad fell ill. I had to take him to hospital many times, and at the start I was extremely scared. My mum wasn’t in the country, and I couldn’t drive. Luckily my dad and me managed to get to the hospital, even though he could barely walk and needed a wheelchair- the ambulance (999) had refused us. His illness was re-diagnosed several times, and the doctors kept on messing around and changing his medicine. Anyway, he recovered some of his hearing, stopped puking and is able to walk now. However he still has severe tinnitus which is preventing him from returning to normal life and work. I am grateful for the fact my dad has an stable job, which he won’t lose if he is ill for a long period of time. This is a privilege I know many people do not have. I remember when my mum lost her job after she went to visit her dying father abroad for 2 weeks. But looking back, it’s for the best that she quit that job, if people there were really that horrible. Her wages weren’t good and she had to work long hours. Although it was a few years before she found a good job, I am happy that she has a stable job now that pays at least the minimum wage.

I wasn’t able to read as many books as I wanted. Partially because I was note-taking which meant it took 2-4 weeks to complete a book. I did a lot of revision this summer (well not “a lot” but more than in the past summers).

At the start of July I forced myself to start writing to participate in Nanowrimo. This was both a good and bad idea. Good that I wrote. Bad that I went straight into it without being able to plan. This was because I was still at school for all of June so I couldn’t do any planning. I went on holiday and I fell behind by a week. I tried to catch up. I joined a chat with other people who were doing a word war, which gave me writing anxiety. Then my dad’s illness came. Then, I finally became passionate about my ideas and stories again. A lot more planning. Then, I finally feel ready to write. Although I only write a very small part. A lot of rearranging of the first few scenes. I can see where the connections must fall. But I must think of them. A bit ugh. I still need to get past my problem with writing.

In the last week of the holiday, I finally met up with my friend D. We talked about lots of stuff in small chunks. She disliked the school. She had become a nicer person two months away from the English clique. I wondered if I should talk about school. She was extremely scared about what was coming. The weather was warm, sunny, and stifling in some of the museum rooms. Unfortunately both of us get a bit frazzled in extemely hot weather.

Didn’t talk to my friends for 3 weeks. Although I really needed someone to talk to as my father was ill (they talked to me for the first two weeks, but not much afterwards). Was disappointed, desperate. Angry, needy. Finally met up with them yesterday. Although they may have solved one problem, they have many to solve. Listening to their personal problems and existential crises, I expected myself to give some enlightening advice or sweetening words a la my old self, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have much to say, I felt a bit empty, as if listening was filling my time- both good and bad. I was nice to hear someone, they thought it was nice to hear their voice again.

Didn’t finish the essay for the competition on time. Could have did it today, but I would have rather have rested before the storm. The storm, all that must come.

University, Cambridge- exam-interview-rejection/acceptance/pool, examinations. Also, societies. Sounds like nothing in these condensed words. But I sense the mind violence and paracetamol, sweat-filled nightmares, compulsory sleep on a conveyor belt of work. Weekends spent doing essays, spare moments used to calculate the order of work, surreal philosophical bus journeys. Cold. Winter. Oh and. Interview practise, exam practise, and a hundred other stressed Oxbridge applicants, some who think private school students are oppressed by state school students via positive discrimination/affirmation. All my friends on caffeine again. Anger at the teachers, the terrible teachers who do not teach. Trying to catch up on scarcely available ideas of Plato & their criticisms (irony) and rare German texts, and pieces of German phrases. No scissors. But I feel angry at her already. Also my awesome left-wing politics teacher is gone (up North, laughter).

I said for a long time that I was prepared to die this death. And now it is time for the finest race of my seventeen years. And now I must prepare myself to hit hard, slam onto the bus face-first and travel at Olympic speed. But this is a marathon, and we are half way through. It was merely a long break at a water station with towels and television. Now to return, to the race. To the terrible storm that awaits, the unpredictable days and ambiguous future that awaits me.

I want to say goodbye

to my old friend, Ennui.

For the last month I’ve gradually been slipping out of my very organised and high-stressed routine. I knew that the summer was coming and I didn’t want to fuck up. I tried to run a trial of what the summer holiday could potentially be like during half-term but it failed miserably because my eyes were hurting all the time from reading and going online  (and basically doing nothing else).

When the holidays come and my stress fades away, it seems like my motivation and ability to work just plummets. Even when I’ve been planning to finish a novel this summer and a million other things. I just need to figure out how to spend my morning and afternoon hours (since I can only go online for a few hours a day and I prefer to do it in the evening) instead of moping around trying to tidy my room and going to buy random things.

Ennui. Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it too much. I’ve been getting bored of people lately. I’m not sure if it was just that we had boring conversations. But maybe they were boring people. Or maybe I was just bored of life. I don’t know.

Ennui. A lot of that lately. When I’m under pressure, there’s a million things I want to do, but can’t. Now, there is plenty of time but I’m lacking in motivation. I don’t know what to do.

But I don’t want boredom or indecision to get the best of me the summer. It’s simply not happening. I’m going on holiday for around a week, so hopefully that will make me a bit more awake and energetic. I’ll come back, make a schedule, and do my shit.

I’ve got many headaches lately and I’m not sure why. Since I’ve not been around many people lately, I think I can rule out social anxiety. Stress is also unlikely. Reading or going too much doesn’t make much sense either because I’ve only been online for like 2 hours or less today (record! ha…). Maybe I’ve got the post-high pressure environment headaches that this person I know has… More pessimistically, it might be due to a deficiency in something.

Anyway, I’m ordering vegetarian supplements when I come back, a long with books I will definitely read! Although to be honest, I don’t have a piece of fiction that I’m dying to read this summer, which is somewhat concerning.

Things I want to do this summer:
– Finish my novel (the first one at least, I want to move on to the second if possible)
– Do subject-specific reading and prepare more for my application process
– Learn about more histories
– Pick up drawing again and improve skills
– Learn to cook
– Learn to programme
– Make revision notes
– Analyse anime
– Have fun and live!

 

The State of Waiting

While sprawling on my bed, it struck me how a phrase from Thounys “Waiting for a Messiah” could used to be describe my own life with a painfully startling accuracy. Thouny describes the setting of the seminal 90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion as being neither in a state of war, nor in a state of peace and rebuilding, with citizens able to live a carefree, normal life again, but in a “continuous moment of waiting”: a “pathic” state (I originally read this as “pathetic”).

However it is not so much war and peace that I am suspended between.

During the summer of 2015, I took my first set of official exams. Something that had preoccupied my life since the start of that year, effectively blocking out every other source of existential meaning in my life. I virtually stopped writing my novel and reading during the spring of 2015. I delayed my every interest and desire that was not to revise. Day in, day out, I would lie on my bed (due to lack of motivation to actually sit in a chair or stand) and memorise my notes for endless hours, before putting my pen to a mountain of past papers (literally), some of which I was doing for the second time. This phenomenon, examinations, had become life-consuming. In those days, those 6 weeks, that was really all there was to my life, except from the unpreventable visits to the Internet that procrastination gave birth to. But there was a great desire for knowledge and for creativity that was in those days repressed and held back, it felt like killing myself and putting my soul in cryostasis. Intellect and creativity are the heart of my identity- without them I cannot truly be myself. I died for six weeks, but whether I could resurrect was another question. I promised myself that that day, that day of my last exam, it would be like the cutting of the umbilical chord- and I would be free again.

A splendid, unheard of 10 weeks of holiday were to follow, but those lay to ruin. The first four weeks I was made to visit China with my father, quite unwillingly and being obliged to mix with family members for long stretches of time and being away from a comfortable workspace, when really I just wanted to be immersed in studying everything I could not in those painful weeks and talking to my friend (I really only had one friend at that time). In the end I neither had a good time with relatives, nor did I manage to do the tons of work I had set myself to do abroad- which I anxiously knew I had to do because I would never get this time again. But in retrospect, I did endless amounts of research. I read an unbelievable number of essays on Revolutionary Girl Utena, which I may have never been forced to do if I had been in England, and I downloaded countless articles on politics and the lives of artists. But this didn’t matter. In my eyes, I had failed.

Then, upon returning to England, I saw a tight six weeks that remained. The first two weeks quickly disappeared to fulfil a deadlined project. The next 4 weeks were filled with dread and restlessness, unable to settle on a certain title or topic area, and knowing that my time was as scarce as ever. Although I read some fiction, I was never able to indulge in my interests on the scale that I wanted, and had promised myself in order to make up for the loss during the first half of the year. The pressure and the choices I presented to myself were like overwhelming gargantuan giants. This was my first period of ruin. My examinations had left me unable to rebuild my life again. During exam season, my organisation may have been impeccable, but now it fell to pieces as I became unable to make choices and my life became devoid of a structure. There also loomed the picture of school in autumn, which solidified my inability to truly escape from the “school” mindset into the “non-school” mindset and just relax and be happy. I had to study the things I enjoyed during summer break, or I would never have that chance again!

School came and my book on the Viennese fin de siecle remains unfinished, even today.

What I promised myself was a lie, a paradise of lies. The truth is that in the suspended state, there is no place for interests to flourish.`

My school life was an ceaseless torrent of homework after a long day at school in weekly cycles, in which every Monday I would count towards Friday. But what about my holidays, surely they would be the time to relax?Although I should really be in a state of joy at my results and at the fact that my first set of exams are over, the ominous shadow of next year’s series of official exams  loom over any rest that I may take. I am neither in a state of examination, nor in a state of relaxation. I am in a state of perpetual and relentless waiting. I will chide myself for not doing enough revision, I will chide myself for not having enough rest.

It is painful. I look into my holiday window only to see more revision in place of classes and homework, there is no real time for rest and interest fulfilment on a grand scale in my holidays.

Even more symbolic state is the very fact I am in a period of education which has the label “UNIVERSITY=END” stuck on its head. I had worked hard during 2014 to get to the school I am studying at now, I worked hard to achieve socially acceptable grades, but I am constantly reminded by teachers that this is a transitional state. I am not here to enjoy myself, I am not here to read the millions of books in the library that I can freely access (but I do not have the time to read), I am not here to fulfil my obscure interests, such as fin de siecle France, 90s Japan and semantics. Everything I do now is merely for university. Every society I attend, every book I read. There is no time to enjoy things in themselves, no. Everything is hankering desperately towards that assigned End that I must now achieve.

It is an existential pain. There is only waiting and dread, there is no freedom. I would like to think there is an end, but I cannot be certain of that.

It is driving and naively believing that the end lies behind every corner your are about to turn, when in reality you are stuck in an endless cycle of corners.

But I would like to believe that perhaps the corners will change shape, or that the rules of driving may change. But I am not the only driver of my fate.