The other day, my shrink handed me an attractive, classically bound book with a faux leather cover. Gazing down on the heavy book on my lap, I could do little else but open it. Rather expecting(or hoping) to find some scrawl of esoteric significance, or even, some twisted soul’s ramblings, I flinched, when all that reflected back were white virginal pages, offering nothing more than an abyss of possibilities.
Was he suggesting that I start a diary? I pondered, blinded by the brightness of the blank page before me.
And as I continued to meditate on this, a little voice within asked; what else should one do with all those ceaseless, mostly useless, thoughts that pursue like some nagging, persistent relative?
“What do I write?” I asked, rather taken aback by this most unexpected offering.
“Prose my dear.” He responded, looking at me with magnified eyes, framed in lenses that offered the only defence to blindness.
“Prose?” I asked.
Was this poetry I wondered? For it was one of those words you only encounter when reading books written in BC (before computers).
“Yes Mel, prose. It can be a story, essay, poetry, anything. Just write whatever comes to you, my dear.”
“Why?” I asked shifting about nervously, for I was not one for industry.
He took a deep breath, and though normally a very patient man, there was notable frustration.
“It is of my professional opinion, that you possess an imaginative temperament. And the best way of dealing with such an overactive mind as yours, is by investing that energy into a project, a creative project that is. In your case, I sense an erudite mind that if tapped into, could be potentially meaningful. At the very least, it is a valuable tool for expunging unwanted murmurings.”
“Put the chatter on paper you suggest.” I asked. As usual I needed a little time to decipher his idiosyncratic, if not anachronistic, language.
Once I had considered this, I asked; “but why? I mean, nobody will be interested in what I have to say. Why should I?”
“My dear Mel, it is not about publishing. It is a private journal; a popular practice that has been around since the beginning of writing itself.”
Hesitant as I feel, for I am not sure if I can keep up with my mind’s incessant roaming, which moves at a dizzying pace, conjuring many devilish thoughts along the way. I find myself, nevertheless putting pen to paper and as I pause, I discover, not surprisingly, that I am already rambling. But then, what else could one expect from an eccentric young woman, who goes under a very irregular title?
A name, mind you, that I had no hand in. Yes, it is a unique moniker to be sure. But it was the sole creation of my equally uncommon father, who, according to a relative, for I did not really know my father, that upon seeing me for the first time was struck by the sadness emanating from my large brown eyes, and hence this name. And then there is that surname. Which I am told, goes back many generations. Or so my only living relative keeps reminding me, particularly in response to my endless lamentation towards this cruel infliction of a name, for my father clearly did not consider the mockery that would plague me.
I now go under the diminutive, Mel, and shudder whenever anybody asks me what it stands for. I did try to change it once, but could not rouse enough energy to fill in all the forms.
My aunt, who raised me, thought my name to be very artistic. While the kids at school thought I was autistic. No wonder the two usually get confused, they look almost identical on paper. But, I am not sure I can be branded by any of these. That’s why I have a shrink, I suppose, in the hope that he can throw some light, and make my so called personality disorder legitimate by pathologising it. But then, is sadness a pathological disorder? With so much emphasis on being happy all the bloody time, one could be forgiven for viewing sadness as a malady, which then, of course, justifies swallowing happy pills which are in plentiful supply, despite being much maligned by the hoity-toity, pineapple up your arse brigade. In my case, these ‘happy’ pills consist of sex, gin, dope, cakes and dogs (not little fluffy white ones though, they are so common, unattractive and stupid. Am I being politically incorrect?). Not necessarily in that order.
Despite being a committed alcoholic, my father, who was far from normal, was, according to those in the know, a great poet (how clichéd). Having read some of his work, I am not convinced however, for it left me feeling quite underwhelmed. Think James Joyce after a bottle of Whisky, every upper and downer available in pill, powder or herb, and you will get a good idea of the content.
Wasn’t James Joyce a drunk as well? I hear you ask. Well, his work would suggest so, but having never met the man I cannot be certain.
I attempted to read Ulysses once, having inherited my father’s considerable and eclectic collection of ‘difficult’ books. And in so doing, I am not ashamed to admit, that my eyes never made it to the last craggy page. In fact, I think I only read up to page 20, after which, with resignation, I placed the book down on its side, as one would a drink sodden old timer, in the hope that he sleep it off.
On the other hand, I love Marcel Proust, the master of languid prose, with his echoes of longing that communicates to the very essence of nature. His lavish descriptions allow pure and unabashed pulchritude (wow, I have finally found a use for this obscure, albeit outmoded word), to roam freely. Free range beauty, guaranteeing, at the very least, nourishment for the soul. I often open this portly book, which is, regrettably, falling apart at the spine, (ironically much like the poor author himself) at random pages and just delight in his descriptions, where he will wax lyrically on a rose, or a cake. My desire to taste a “madeleine” is so persuasive, that whenever I fantasise visiting Paris, instead of the Louvre, the left bank, or Champ Elysees, I think of this little tea cake that Proust spent many pages waxing lyrically about.
Having never visited Paris, my father, a walking dispensary, was run over early one morning by a garbage truck. How oddly fitting, when one considers all the refuse he left behind, not least of which, me.
I have to pause here, I feel as if I am about to become rancorous. And I do hate it when that happens. Considering I am due to go out on a date, bitterness is far from becoming, so I must pretty myself up a little, whilst maintaining a modicum of equanimity.
I must say, this has certainly helped dust off some neuronal cobwebs, even though I will probably cringe when I read this later. But then again, no one will ever read this, so what the hell. What is it they say? Dance as if nobody is watching. So maybe then, write as if no one will read it. Except for you, of course, I will let you read it, because you are my imaginary friend. And being just that, I know you will not judge this or me too harshly.
Until tomorrow then… perhaps.