hashtag kill bill

a dog barks in the distance. the rattle of cups in the kitchen sink. wash them. make another cup of coffee and talk with my cat, Alf. he doesn’t say much. or it may be that he doesn’t have much to say about things. i have back ache. i have tooth ache. i have an c-PTSD, the Doctor said. but things could be worse. i should be grateful. and i am grateful. writing helps. Alf reaches out to me. a stretched out limb. a paw. a gesture. but there is a smell. eucalyptus and menthol. decongest. decongest. in the kitchen, we filter the water. it’s better that way. safer. or so they say. but these tiny impulses and intrusive thoughts colour my perception and shape my behaviour. i will resist the urge. wave after wave. but two shots fired and i would feel so much better. ephemeral. a flash. then nothing. disbelief and feeling numb. joy. complete and utter joy. bread crumbs. so many bread crumbs but still no whole loaf of bread. don’t you find that strange? remember the Cold War? of course you do. those films about what to do in the event of a nuclear holocaust, remember them? they scared me, when i was a child. the siren. early warning. where would i go? how would it feel to be vaporised. rabies too. remember when rabies was something to be hysterical about? i remember the ‘rabies is a killer’ adverts and ‘educational’ films about rabies. fear. it scared me. it scarred me. terrorvision. television. thank you, TV – you played a big part in my paranoia. my OCD. my PTSD. rabies and nuclear war. but we have new things to fear now, don’t we, eh? why is there always a missing sock when you empty the washing machine? where do all the ‘lost’ socks go? the piano against the wall remains unplayed today again. eighty-eight keys to be unlocked. still these intrusive thoughts come. i have no focus. no attention span. no joy. just rage. despair. frustration. hatred. lots of localised hatred. i say localised but by that i don’t mean i hate those around me, in my immediate locality, but by ‘localised hatred’ i mean it is focused. and close. in my face. in everyone’s face. and i think of the sound. the bang. the recoil. the impressive spray of aortic blood. thick. red. viscid. and that smell. a smell that is not easily forgotten. it stays with you. it clings to the very fabric of you, beyond clothing or cladding. it remains there. vile. the very thought brings up bile. but it’s more than bitterness. it’s more than hatred. it is beyond human emotion and comprehension. where do they come from? these demons. all appears normal. have you ever been to a slaughterhouse? or the city morgue? my cat is on the bed by my side. a hot mug of coffee steams to my left and a slab of ginger chocolate lies open, a sweet distraction, broken up in squares. one square bears my fingerprint. another Sunday. not a fun day. a day of (un)rest. my head feels enormous. it must be. to contain all that is inside it. the entire world is inside there. another world entirely. but do not go there. do not enter into that space. that head space. or you may never return. if you do, i guarantee you will be broken. you will not be the same person. these urges. they are not new. i often have these ‘falling down’ days, as i call them. but today they are out of control wild. is all innocence gone? i think of a sweet little girl i met today. she was nine years old, i think. her mother said that her little girl liked my blue hair, and that she is obsessed with having blue or pink hair. her mother continued to say that she may allow her to have her hair dyed blue for Christmas. i laugh. i am trying to remove the blue. i have bleached my head three times now and my hair is still blue. glacial blue as my lover describes it. but maybe this is how things are. nothing can ever be fully erased, just adapted… bleached… diluted… twisted and turned. i wonder… my right foot itches. my left foot is numb. i have been sitting for too long. i must cut my claws. they grow so fast and create fret buzz. i stretch out my limbs, like my cat, mirroring his behaviour. good grief. it will soon be December already. it will soon be the new year. a new year. 2021. and why is grief always ‘good’? the smell of tangerines temporarily fills the room. sweet and juicy. curtains billow, as a breeze flits through the open window. but what is that banging? what strange creatures humans are! complex, yet so stupid. well, with the exception of Tesla, perhaps. it is fifteen hundred hours. coffee. hey, you can shake your head, if you like. i see you. so what?! what of the human mind? why write this? why? random. fingers type today what my mind spews. but still with censorship. i could not possibly write disclose the truth of these thoughts. these intrusive thoughts. of such unequivocal violence, and beauty. like a tiger mauling a fawn. the blood. the ripping sound. the screams. the smell of death. the flash of excitement in the tiger’s eye. that. it is that very thing. the pure joy. unequivocal ecstasy. intrusive thoughts that paralyse me with fear, and yet tickle and arouse me and fill me with complete and utter joy. like a series of horror movies inside my head. fuck. you have to break many eggs to make a fine omelette. Shiva. death and creation. when did you last look closely at the palms of your hands? their shape. their colour. the lines and their depth. their capability? their warmth, or lack of. their softness. hands: capable of nurturing, capable of killing. when did you last look at your own hands in this way? c-PTSD, she said. and what colour is the most dominant emotion you feel today? what does joy taste like for you? right now, it is the sound of Peggy Lee’s Fever. a fantastic song. Amin… then changes to Bbm, i think… after a while and then changes again. fantastic changes. fantastic song. and that voice. it is cold, yet fevered. but does anyone really care about music? does anyone truly care that Harry Styles likes to wear a dress from time to time? who cares! i think more men should wear dresses if they feel so compelled to. who cares? seventy years, they say. seventy years. a lot of chip wrappers in seventy years. so… are you bored yet? or are you curious as to where this train of thought is heading? derailment? oooh i get it… you are a voyeur of the macabre. a ghoul. do you care where this torrent of consciousness is going to sweep you off course to next? you should, but of course you don’t care. and i don’t expect you to. i don’t expect many of you to read it, or read it all the way through. it’s just another chip wrapper, right? maybe that is all we ever are. how long until i am completely forgotten about? when will that very last memory of me perish in someone else’s memory? it is memories that keep the dead alive. please don’t be so morbid, Kat. stop it. think of something funny. Oliver Cromwell. he was a good old fun sponge, wasn’t he? funny…. did he not disallow Christmas celebrations many, many years ago? interesting. fact or factoid. not that i enjoy Christmas much. i don’t believe in Christ. but i do believe in love, and the celebration of love and enjoying the company of those around me who matter. oh hey, out comes the red pen, crossing out thoughts before they tumble out onto the screen… pixel by pixel… and lay open like a laceration from the bite of a Great White. take that any way you will. i do not care. am i losing my mind? possibly. or perhaps it was never really mine in the first place. all that is there came from outside. from other peoples’ doing. from places that pre-date me. it’s really rather fascinating… when you think about it. reality. what is that? the blue of my eyes will be a different shade of blue through your own. and those bananas on the kitchen worktop. they are too ripe and repulsive for my tastes, but to you they might be divine. how do you find memory? in flavours? in colours? in songs? in smells? in shapes? in stuttering, stammering? in dreams? in lovers? in anger, or fear? in the back seat of a car? i remember my dad’s old car. the leather seats. too hot in summer, too cold in winter. i remember the old steering wheel. huge now, compared to today’s steering wheels. or was it just because i was small, back then? it’s all relative. and irrelevant. it’s all quantum. everything. orange walls. warmth. a cocoon. i feel safe here. i feel at home here. but i really want to go to Tokyo. sakura and karaoke. visit friends. visit the snow monkeys. swim with the snow monkeys in volcanic pools. drink tea with robots. i want to go to Tokyo. but not this year. until then, there is YouTube. and there is YouTube until that implodes. until it buckles beneath its own dictatorship. do you find traveling by boat relaxing? or do you prefer rail travel? when i was 14, i wanted to be recruited by the Starship Enterprise. but at 14 we have to make some of the most important decisions that affect our future lives. at 14, we have to choose what subjects we want to study in order to enable our careers and our life path. 14 year old. a child. fuck… i hated school. on reflection, school ruined my life. school, not education. so many of my teachers were wankers. and from these wankers i learned more than school could ever teach me. not to be like them. not to wind up like them. but at 14, i wanted to be a Starfleet Officer – not a child burdened with this level of responsibility. but when should we take responsibility for our own lives? immediately, right? i would say. when did you last look yourself in the eye? is it true that your own reflection is your most honest ally? they never break your gaze. they can stare you down. and they can destroy you. do they always speak the truth? or do we accuse our reflection of lying because we cannot bear to face those truths? terrible pun there… i do apologise. the sky is darkening. tomorrow, i must photograph a tree. there are some incredibly beautiful trees in the park. tomorrow. on the last day of November. okay. cue the loony tunes music… i think it is time to jump off here while all these plates are still spinning….


(c) Kat McDonald 2020

Image: https://randomwordgenerator.com/img/picture-generator/

when did silence become so loud?

when did silence become so loud?

i lie, awake, in the dark.

i know she’s there…

she’s in every exhalation, every sigh,

in every flicker,

in the corner of my eye,

dancing, like a flame.

i feel the night behind me.

cast iron, clad, a heavy blanket

midnight blue, a black-out.

no stars above,

i’m empty.

medicated.

exhausted,

like a threadbare carpet, or

a wrung out cloth.

Oh Insomnia, please… just fuck off

and follow someone else home.

leave me in this half-life, with no patience

and no joy.

a street light fills my window.

enormous shadows of myself brush up

against the ceiling.

have i left my body, or

am i just dreaming?

(c) Kat McDonald 2020

talking to myself…

what should i do today?

i dunno, Kat, you have options…. go for a walk with your camera, shoot the sky – look at it, it’s beautiful this morning, all red and purple? or you could watch a movie, like that Meryl Streep one about the singer with the shrill voice that Lynn recommended. or you could write something…? you haven’t written anything in a while. or maybe you could get your finger out and write a synopsis and cover letter for sending Life’s Rich Pageant to agents…? or you could play your guitar? you’re always bleating on about how your ambition exceeds your ability, well fucking do something about it… play. practise. play. or you could, of course, go back to bed with Alf, or just continue to mope around in this covid-era depression.

what should i wear?

well, i’m up now. teeth cleaned. i hear sirens. it’s all i hear these days. but hey…. is it cold outside? the sky looks pretty, but it is November now… i guess i should wear some warm layers. who cares? i doubt i will be leaving the house today anyway, and if i do i’ll be sure to stick a mask in my pocket. so sick of this…

coffee? d’you want a cup?

oh yes, please…. that would be great.

what time is it?

it’s 9.12am. why? what does it matter?

i guess it doesn’t matter because time doesn’t exist, does it? i mean, it’s just a human construct by which we cage ourselves. you should make the most of each day. oh… remember you have washing on… the cycle should be finished soon.

i guess so… so back to that question… what should i do today? it’s Friday.

… and we’re back to cages. why do we do that? put ourselves in these cages??

i think it’s so we can organise our days… and what we do with our time. for something that doesn’t exist, per se, it’s a precious commodity. much sought after… more valuable than gold, or data.

hey… Kat… the kettle has boiled!

ok… i’ll be right there. one homemade oat latte coming up.

[i get up from the comfort of the smaller of my two green sofas and slip into the kitchen. i rub my eyes. i check the washing machine. 10 minutes left.]

i’m tired. already…

[i take a mug from the mug tree and coffee from the jar. one scoop. i add cold oat milk, and fill my mug half full]

wow, that’s optimistic of you!

[i top up the mug with boiling water… not quite a latte but equally as milky – trying not to fill it ‘vulgarly full’ – as my late mother would say….]

Fuck. i miss her. but i am glad she’s dead. and not here at this time… she wouldn’t understand. Hell, i don’t even understand what’s going on these days… so much fake news, ‘bought’ news, biased and skewed. i don’t know what to believe these days…

[i take a sip of my coffee and return to my seat to find my cat, Alf, has taken up residency there…]

hey little one… shift!

[i give him a gentle nudge, he vocalises his displeasure with a little grunt. i love this cat. he’s my best friend]

so… Kat… what are you going to do today? will you publish this on your ‘inner focus’ blog? will you whore it around your social media pages?

publish and be damned! a wise man once said… was it Hemingway?

it may very well have been. so will you? i mean…. who would want to read this? it’s the ramblings of boredom.

i may as well. it gives me something to do. i haven’t written anything of worth in a while. this has been a good exercise. in self-discipline if nothing else…

self-discipline… something you haven’t exercised in a while. you’re the world’s greatest procrastinator. care to talk more about this?

what are you? my therapist?

yeah. i could be… but if you don’t want to explore these issues then that’s fine by me. i just thought, you know, while we had the time…

oh back to that again! time! yes. much sought-after time. i have lots of time so why don’t i want to make the most of it? what is wrong with me?

i think what you’re feeling is natural. i think a lot of people, in these strange times, feel the same. going through phases of having zero motivation. i think it’s uncertainty.

let me just enjoy my coffee, please? you know… sometimes i can’t stand being around you.

why’s that? because i speak the truth to you, Kat? you need to give yourself a shake – stop moping and get on with something.

sometimes it’s hard. sometimes i just feel so…. disheartened. dispirited. and i think ‘what’s the fucking point?’. everything is so superficial. nobody cares what i have to say, or write about, or sing about. nobody cares how i view the world around me, or what f-stop i used in a particular photograph i have taken. nobody cares. everyone is too caged, by their own periphery and public personae, to care about my little world. i dunno… maybe i should take a break from social media. it can be a toxic experience.

it’s a double-edge sword. you need it promote yourself…

ha! yeah. okay.

it’s true. you do. i think your imposter syndrome needs a brick to the face. i’m tired of hearing this. i’ve told you before – it’s completely natural, during these strange times of change and reset. a lot of people feel exactly as you do. and i think creative people ‘feel’ it more than most. emotions are in a state of flux right now for a lot of creative people, all around the world, not just you. you’re not alone.

so what do you suggest?

i think you should chill the fuck out. drink that coffee, go for a walk down by the sea to blow away this negativity. then return, refreshed, and pick up your guitar (either one) and finish that song you started a few months ago… the one called ‘i hate you’… pour all these feelings into this. it’s a great song, or has the potential to be… finish it.

right now, i wish i had a million quid.

wow… diversion tactics. you are one hella procrastinator, aren’t you? why? money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on… it can’t buy happiness, it can’t buy health, or love….?

well it can actually, even if it’s just momentarily. i am just sick fed up being skint. i haven’t worked since February and i am tired of scrimping and scraping. wondering if i will have enough money at the end of the month. that dark day looming when i wonder what i will spend my last £10 on… top up my gas for warmth or buy food. and it will soon be Christmas. and you know how i feel about Christmas… fuck Christmas!

fuck… you really are in a foul mood this morning aren’t you?

yeah. you said it was normal. that i am allowed to feel these things. don’t you ever wonder how long it would take you to spend a whole million quid? i reckon i could do it in a few days, if i really wanted to.

yeah. i bet you could. i firmly believe you.

you make great coffee, by the way… anyone ever tell you that?

no. well, yeah…. but you’re the first to tell me that today. okay. so a walk along the beach? Better sort out that laundry… hang it up on the airer.

ach… i don’t know. and yeah… i will do.

[picks up Fender Jaguar and tunes it… cranks up amp]

maybe you’re right. maybe i should vent this anger and disappointment into that song….

you know i’m right!

*wink*

i guess so… now piss off and leave me alone with my guitars and savagery.

that’s the spirit. you just have to keep creating… vent through your writing… your music. there has never been a time when you’ve needed music most. don’t be so fucking hard on yourself. please. it’s heartbreaking. give yourself a shake and fucking create something. do it for yourself and fuck everything else. but hang that fucking washing up!

i guess. hey… you’re swearing better today, Kat.

*giggles*

(c) Kat McDonald 2020

a fucked up lovesong

https://miaowmcdonald.bandcamp.com/track/a-fucked-up-lovesong

Sunday 19th January 2019 was a horrible day. one of the worst days of my life. it was the day i almost lost someone i love completely. i have never felt so scared, so helpless in all my life. those twenty two minutes, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, seemed like twenty two hours.

i caught a glimpse of a Death, his shadow, his black dog… i fought hard, and won. Death would not take his soul. not this one. not today.

having to come to terms with this trauma and process its reality, and the many subsequent questions, is something i never want to relive.

but from the intense discourse, in the days and weeks that followed, came an overwhelming realisation that my love for this soul was strong. stronger than i ever thought possible.

from this event, this ‘ground zero’, i learned a lot about myself. there was a lot to process. even now, after a year and more, i am still haunted by that vision of Death and his black dog.

although lessening in frequency now, i still have nightmares and panic attacks in the small hours of the morning. i wake up in a cold sweat, cradling myself and reassuring myself it was just a bad dream and that he is safe. but that coup d’œil of what life would be like had i not arrived when i did, still chills my bones, turning them to powder.

living through this has made me appreciate the little things. it’s those little things, that seem insignificant at the time, that really matter when someone is gone. and by gone i mean not just in a different room. i mean gone somewhere where you cannot follow. ever. one day, you will never see one of their two hundred forty one different smiles again, or hear them sing in the shower. and it’s then you’ll punish yourself for not appreciating the little things, like the little kiss on the top of your head as they walk past, or the smell of their hair. even their moods and grumpiness will be something you will miss with a crushing weight upon your chest.

so tell them that you love them now. don’t wait.

listen to them.

be mindful, watch out for them. ask them how they are feeling. let them know you are there.

listen.

listen with your ears, your eyes, and your gut instinct…. it could save a life.

people deal with trauma, shock and grief in different ways. for me, writing is a cathartic process. a compulsion. a necessity. it always has been.

and so, i picked up Julio, my 30 year old Spanish guitar, and wrote a song.

this song… a fucked up lovesong.

SAMARITANS 24 hr HELPLINE > 116 123

(c) Miaow McDonald (music/lyrics)

(c) Miaow McDonald Photography (image)

Pandora’s Box

pandoras box

spending a summer under a belly of cloud is one thing (actually, it’s to be expected, i live in Scotland, after all) but spending a summer under a Government imposed ‘lockdown’ is not something i ever envisaged having to endure in my lifetime.

but here we are.

we are living history, in the present tense.  and things are tense.

locked down, under house arrest.  only permitted to leave the house to shop for ‘essential’ items and/or to partake in some form of solitary outdoor exercise – keeping a safe 2 metre distance from all other humans at all times.

with that said, i must’ve walked for miles.

life sucks right now.  no work. no pay. having to claim benefits to keep a roof over my head and food in my fridge.  but i’m not the only one.  we have all been stricken by this… whatever it is…

“pandemic” they say.

this pandemic is serious, with serious repercussions for us all.  life will never be the same.

but i have a lot to be grateful for. i have my health and my sanity.

while words like “social distancing” and “lockdown” were once upon a time confined to lines from some Hollywood script they are now in everyday use, uttered by five year olds out for walks in the park with their fearful masked parents.

i wonder (and worry) about the psychological effect of this new ‘norm’ and burgeoning fear being pressed upon us by Governments and the media on the children of this world.

A world where children can no longer play with their friends. A world where they can no longer hug their grandparents.  A world full of rainbows in windows and applause, ringing out from the streets and gardens, on Thursday nights as we are asked to applaud key workers, risking life and limb, it would seem, in our hospitals and hospices.

we were never prepared for this.  were we?

but ‘they’ knew it was coming.  i’ve seen the videos of speeches from the world’s ‘leaders’ and their band of equally megalomaniacal aides.  i have followed this with interest, impartiality, and, to some extent, fear and shades of cognitive dissonance.

i have followed the money trail and i’ve been sickened by what i have learned when digging deep.  deeper than any mainstream government/Gates Foundation-funded media would ever allow.  i suggest you do the same.

so many deaths. so many lies.  lies and fake news.  fake news and lies.  conflicting statistics and contradictory statements from polarised camps of scientists and government lackies.

and rest-assured some people stand to make a fuckload of money from this ‘plandemic’.

but i’ve been a good citizen, i am doing what i’m told as i watch more and more truths unfold.

sitting on my doorstep, sipping iced tea i watch empty trains flit by; i hear birds singing, oblivious to it all; i hear sirens wailing and i watch as storm clouds gather overhead.

i see it. i see it all so clearly.

and i cannot believe what i am seeing.

but i will keep being a good citizen and keep doing what i’m told.  controlled.

but this has changed me.  i can feel it.

this will change everything.  i know it.

our lives will never be same after this and the smoke clears.

i watch as the world, our beautiful world, spins out of control, spilling and contorting into a dark and terrifying place to be.  this is year zero.

is there hope for the human race, or are we marching closer to engineering our own extinction event?  sometimes, i hope so.

the way things are heading that may not be that far away, or as far-fetched as you may think.  again, dig deep.  check sources, who is funding what articles, actions, and casting what aspersions.

open your eyes.  question everything.  follow the money.  don’t believe everything you read in the paper, or see on BBC etc (remember, they were complicit in the harbouring of paedophiles for decades).

it’s hard to know just what is real, and what is spin for profit and power.

all we can do is hope.  hope one day love will prevail and the sun will return to our skies and unite us as a species.

and one day, Orwell will be considered fiction again.

 

(c) Kat McDonald, June 2020

 

 

 

whoever would’ve thought an onion bagel with peanut butter, blueberry jam, toasted garlic & chilli flakes would taste so good…

well, well, well.  it’s the end of the world.  for real.  or so it seems, at times.

the bogey man, this time around, is called COVID-19.  a pandemic.  a corona virus.  and it is invisible.  and terrifying.

i have watched it sweep from east to west.  it’s not discerning. it favours not the pretty nor the tall; the rich nor the hirsute; the male or the dog.

it is a new contagion.  a new threat to life as we know it.  worldwide economies are breaking,  thousands of people are dying.  life will never be the same.

i have watched it shut down our neighbouring countries.  Italy. Spain. France.  and i’ve wondered why our limp Governments have been so slow to react.  lock us down, please.  full lockdown.  if you want to ‘flatten the curve’ you have to stop the migration and congregation of people.

today, first official day in lockdown (is it lockdown?) here in Fife, Scotland where we have currently 19 cases of Coronavirus confirmed.  out of a population of close to 335k, that may seem like a blip, but given that you can drive around Fife in 3 hours and that these cases have emerged since March 17th, i would say we have reason to be concerned.

but i had to go out today.  latex gloves on, antibacterial gel in my pocket – like a gun a holster – i ventured outdoors with my boyfriend, Robert.  we needed to get some essentials.  yes, we are in isolation together.  i guess you could call it ‘twice-olation’.  keeping a sense of humour when adrift in unchartered waters is essential.  as is toilet roll, it would seem.  it’s been 5 days and i’ve yet to see any on shelves when i’ve made a trip to the supermarket.  it’s as rare as hens’ teeth!

we got, pretty much, what we went out for: food for us, and food for Alf – our cat.

i have been self-employed since 2012.  now i am not working.

i have had to claim emergency benefits. having paid my taxes for all my working years, i feel thankful that i can do this,  feeling no shame in it, and that my claim has been dealt with swiftly.  i only applied yesterday.  and after a brief telephone interview today,  i should have an emergency advance paid to me by Thursday.  that is a relief!  at least i know now that my rent is covered, for another month anyway, and that i will be able to pay my bills (hopefully).  yes, i have to pay that advance back, but on my terms.  i was not expecting that.

so here i am. no work. all been cancelled or postponed.  how do i stop myself from becoming engulfed in the fear, swallowed up in the mass hysteria and going stir crazy? it’s all everyone is talking about. and rightly so, it is a strange and terrifying time to be alive.  and we are all scared.

and things are going to get worse before they get better. i can see it coming.

so we are doing what we are told. washing our hands.  staying indoors.  not making any unnecessary journeys.  avoiding contact with anyone and everyone. i am not even visiting my family (some are high risk with underlying health conditions stacked against them).  it’s just me, Robert and Alf – the cat.

initially, i had moved in with Robert to continue working on a solo music project that he is producing for me, as i have four new songs that i wanted to lay down.  that was 10 days ago.  we have decided it best that we isolate ourselves together, keeping our shared car in one spot – in case of an emergency.  it’s working out well.  and we give each other space – that is essential.  but it isn’t all that bad, being locked up with your lover and cat.  we have some fun times.  singing in the kitchen, cooking together.  making music together. i have been playing a lot of guitar lately.

90785844_2489984377932427_5190335713698119680_n

so this is where i wrap this blog post up for today…  it is 1.31am and i am having my supper:  onion bagel with peanut butter, blueberry jam, chilli flakes, toasted garlic and jalapenos.  i know… it sounds weird and disgusting, but i swear… it tastes like hope.

90574570_875400162907003_1501246882775564288_n

stay safe people…

 

(c) Kat McDonald – March 2020

ephemerality

IMG_0161

they say a storm is coming.  this may very well be true.  and although the sky is the perfect shade of blue, clouds are gathering fast.  rain is in the air.  i can smell it.

the concrete step feels warm beneath my bare feet.  the sun is coy and toys with me, playing hide and seek amid the cloud formations.  but there’s a restlessness in the air.  i can feel it in my hair.

it is friday.  3.15 in the afternoon.  it is supposed to be summer. that’s what the calendar states.  summer solstice.  the longest day.

and it has been the longest day.  nothing seems to have gone to plan today.  what is today, anyway?   what is time if nothing but a human construct to organise our lives by?   i feel like i am waiting.  waiting for something to happen.

i sit on my doorstep with a cup of coffee in one hand and an abundance of time in the other.  i watch the trains go by.  there’s something beautiful in their ephemerality.

i marvel at the tiny flowers, violet and yellow, growing up through the cracked and spawling concrete steps up to my home.   such unexpected beauty.  such unexpected strength for something so small and seemingly delicate.

my thoughts turn back to a time when i had a medieval castle on my doorstep; to another time when i had a beach.  and now, it would appear, i have a garden.  a wild garden with wild birds and butterflies.  a wild garden fringed with an abundance of cherry-red lanterns of the fuschia bushes growing down by the railway tracks, tall spikes of  purple and white digitalis salute the pathway, and a lone Himalayan palm tree sways in the breeze.  there is also a mysterious outbuilding hidden amid the trees that overhang my overgrown lawn.  i think i may have a key for that…  a big old rusty key.

maybe i should seek the services of a gardener.   the lawn grass is almost waist high.

the sun, when she shines, warms my face and shoulders.  i close my eyes and listen to the sounds of this supposed summer:   trains, chattering birds, distant music from someone’s transistor radio and people in conversation.

i open my eyes.  squinting, i follow the voices, momentarily sunblind.  it is my neighbours, John and Jess.  they are an elderly couple and they are talking to their gardener.  their garden is perfectly plotted geometry.   the precision of its symmetry whispers a sense of order and calm.

“shall we plant delphiniums?  i just love delphiniums”

another train rolls past.  taking that moment with it.

i look at the wilderness of my garden.  it screams chaos.

i shiver as the sun shies away behind a big black cloud, clearly overshadowed – or so it would seem.   the air is cold.  too cold for a storm, i think.

petrol blue and white magpies chatter with one another, swooping from telegraph wire to tree top, and back again.  even they seem restless.

the gardener fires up his lawn mower.   it splutters and starts, then growls loudly as it cuts up the grass.  the tiny green blades are no match for those big steel ones.   i watch him walk back and forth, steering the grass-cutter, turning their garden lawn into a chess board.  the smell of cut grass is pungent.

the sun, having burned through the cloud, is hotter than before.  it is almost 4.

i tiptoe down the hot concrete steps to the dry stone dyke that divides order from chaos and start up a conversation with the gardener.

for £30 he will cut the lawn and square up the edges, he says.

okay.

next week, i say.

 

words (c) Kat McDonald 2019

 

 

 

letting go: the right time to die

kat-mcdonald-aged-2

i remember, as a child, everything being so tall… perhaps it’s my earliest memory.  i remember everything being above me… the dining room table… what was there?  the kitchen work surfaces… the bathroom sink, where i would struggle on tip-toes to wash my hands… the book case… the ceiling…  the shelves in my bedroom, stacked with toys, all just beyond my reach… and the sky… the Heavens… seemed so far away in both distance and time.

i remember walking through a forest of legs.  i remember my mother’s legs.  i remember holding onto them in places familiar and places new.  i would cling to them when i was scared, unsure or feeling lost amid the voices and conversations i was not yet old enough to comprehend…  lost, amid the cigarette smoke and the laughter and the music;  lost, in another world, an adult world,  a world i couldn’t fully feel at home in, but home it was.  i remember that with one stroke of my mother’s hand upon my head everything would feel better.  and i loved it when she sang to me.

i remember looking up at my mother, admiring her… how pretty i thought she looked with her hair curled and shining; her face smiling down at me with so much love in her eyes. love, tinged with sadness.

oh, i knew that she loved me. i knew that she cherished me because she told me that i was precious.  precious because 10 weeks before i was born, my mother lost a son.  a son called William, he was 18 years old.  he was just a boy. a beautiful young boy.  a boy that my mother said i looked like.

i remember looking up at a particular photograph.  i remember wondering why the boy in the photo made my mother cry and wondered if the reason she often cried when she held me was because of him, or me.  i remember, one day, taking that photograph and stuffing it face-down in a drawer.  i didn’t want my mother to be unhappy any more, and the boy in the photograph seemed to make her unhappy.  all of the time.

she went crazy, tearing open cupboards and drawers… then she found it.  she asked me why i put it ‘there‘…  i told her.  and, again, she cried.  it was then she told me the story of William: the brother i never knew.  the brother who she would, understandably, pine for for all her days.

time, forever the paradox, hushes that memory and that day seems so far away – in both time and distance.

today i went to visit her in hospital.  she is 90.  she is frail.  she is small.

today her eyes are still tinged with sadness, but they still teem with love when i walk in the room.

she is a shadow of her former self.  she is not eating and is barely drinking.  she is not well, neither physically nor mentally.  i wonder if she is just biding her time here with us. i wonder if she is simply tired of the struggle… tired of the pain… the loss and the hopelessness.  has she given in?  has she lost the will to continue on, in this cracked and useless mortal coil?

she tells me she’s done, yet she asks me if i’m happy.

“yes!!” i say… with resounding cheer in my voice.  “i am very happy.  the happiest i have ever been”

… and yet upon hearing the resignation in her voice, i am the saddest girl on Earth.

as i fold my arms around her bony frame, i am reminded of my own mortality and the cruelty of death and loss.  i feel like i am losing her and if i hold her too tightly, she may just disappear from me altogether and leave me in a blind panic.

a panic.  just like a time when i was a little girl, shopping with my mother and father, and losing her amid a strange, deep and dark forest of strangers’ legs and loud voices, and hideously patterned floor.  i remember looking… searching… frantic for my her, for her legs to cling to… for her hands to stroke my head… for her voice… that song in her voice.

i was lost.

at a loss, and lost – as i feel right now.

but today, i am taller.  my mind, still curious, is now awakened to the weird fairtytales that were once adult conversations.  the smoke has cleared and i’ve learned to dance to the music. i have found my voice and i have travelled to the other side of the world.  i no longer search for her legs to cling to and hide behind… oh… but what i wouldn’t give to be able to be a child again… for one day… to be, once again, with my able mother and have her hold me and tell me everything is going to be alright.

because it’s not…

… she isn’t going to get better.  her body is failing and her mind is permanently on vacation; it has a one-way ticket out of here.

i wish I could keep her here, now… or in that memory… but maybe i am not enough… maybe my brothers… her grandchildren… maybe a visit from her other daughter…?  or  maybe… maybe our family is not enough to keep her here.  i mean… how could it be? it’s incomplete.  someone is missing… someone vital… someone who could have sealed the cracks.

tonight, i stood tall and gazed up at the ceiling… there are cracks in the ceiling… some big, some small… many irreparable.  just like those memories of childhood, when i would gaze up in wonder.  the mystery is no longer a mystery.  the cracks no longer hold mystery;  she is no longer a mystery, but yet i marvel at how she managed to go on after such loss.  i know what she wants.  the cracks are beginning to show. they are deepening stress fractures from bearing such a load.  life. loss. death.  death of a son.  death of her parents.  death of her sisters and brother.  death of her husband and my father.  death of friends.  death of her able body.  death of hope.

but her mind is, strangely, liberated.  i take comfort in that.

sitting side by side on her hospital bed, haplessly covered with a stained blue blanket, we talk.  she tells me she’s done.  she tells me she is tired.  she tells me things that only her eyes can convey.

as a grown-up, i now understand. i get it. but oh it is hard to bear.  hard to hear.  hard to accept. but not hard to comprehend.

she is trapped inside ‘this useless body’ – she is imprisoned. imprisoned in ward 3.  imprisoned in her dementia and silent world.  it is no wonder she prefers to escape with sleep.  sleep ‘to pass the time until…’

‘until what, Mum?  elevenses? visiting hours?’ i ask, choking on my own throat.

[the big sle..?]

but her mind is on holiday, she changes direction, and once again i am that little girl lost.

so… should i patch up the ceiling… could i patch it up?  could i patch her up?  if only i could, yet i wonder…  if i should?  i feel as though i am losing her, little by little, crack by crack and splinter.

maybe i should let her go…  or have i lost her already?

 

(c) Kat McDonald 2017

 

 

 

 

my hands had grown back…

640px-Migraine_aura

it was a quiet time. a time where the only sounds are the sounds of my breath and the gentle tinkle of a wind chime in the next room, as a brisk sea breeze trickles in through the open window and tickles its delicate copper pipes. it was a time of late afternoon calm. it was unexpected and unwanted.

at first, i could not believe what i was seeing. the colours… the jagged outline.  a wild surprise.  a hallucinogenic reprise…?  it followed my gaze.  everywhere i looked, it was all i could see.  was i seeing things?  i placed a cool palm over my right eye.  i could still see it.  i placed a cool palm over my left eye.  again, i could still see it.  this wasn’t retinal. this was ocular.

no pain. only colours.  colours and jagged shapes.  with every blink it danced.  it flitted and flirted with me, as it danced across the room, across my screen, across my bare white emulsioned wall, redecorating my room like a psychedelic DMT-infused 1970s wallpaper.

with each blink, the jagged shapes grew and grew and grew.  within 15 minutes i could barely see my previous reality.  everything had been swallowed by this strange morphing organism before my eyes.  no guitar, no walls, no cool palm across my eye. this thing had swallowed everything. maybe it would devour me too, or turn me inside out. but i was not afraid.

i had seen it before. seven years ago.

in my relaxed, yet curious, state, i ventured outside into the April sunshine. the sky looked terrifying, but beautiful. birds would fly into its jagged mouth and disappear. buildings disappeared. trees disappeared. everything i looked at seemed to disappear. even my own hands disappeared.

i returned to the cool shade of my apartment. i could not see the front door, but i knew it had to exist as i had, merely moments before, exited from it. i stepped in through the jagged fray and into my bedroom, closed the blinds and kicked off my boots. they too vanished, into the jagged clutches of this strangely beguiling entity. i stripped naked and threw my clothes into its hungry jaws.

naked, i fumbled and felt my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. the floor seemed to fall away with each step. i then stumbled through to the cool sanctuary of my bedroom where i slipped beneath the duvet and closed my eyes. the smell and feel of freshly laundered cotton felt incredible against my skin. i lay down in the darkened room, a perfect calm. the twisted jagged rainbows continued to morph and move around, dancing behind my shut eyes, like strange protoplasm.

hypnotised by its beauty, i fell asleep.

one hour later, i awoke to discover the entity had gone… perhaps it had folded in on itself. perhaps it had devoured itself. perhaps…

my clothes lay jumbled on the bedroom floor. one boot was in the hallway, the other beneath my bed. everything looked spat out, but dry.

my hands had grown back.

i opened the blinds.

i could see.

i could see.

i could see.

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

– ever had an ocular migraine? there is no pain. i am no stranger to migraines and they can be debilitating. ocular migraines? i’ve had three. this was the third and most spectacular. as beautiful as they are, they are not something i want to see again any time soon… if you have not had an ocular migraine before, do not panic. they only last 30-45 mins. there is no pain. but if they persist, seek medical attention.

they

Ravens-by-Masahisha-Fukas-002

who are they?
who are these
old souls,
that walk among us,
clad in black feathers?

do you see them?
do you hear them?
because they speak to us,
in ancient
encrypted
dialects.

and they are watching,
waiting…
waiting for our Death.

and they speak of us.

corvid,
in cabbal and clique
they gather
to scold us:
yes.
to scold us for our own
trite flights
of fancy;
our sycophantic
fanciful worship
of false prophets.

they mock us,
laugh at our ineptitude,
our ignorance
and vapid existence.
Shhhh!
if you listen… you too
will hear them…
chattering among themselves-
hooded and
clandestine
in their plotting.

i see the way they look at us
with incisive intel
and devisive intent

but who can blame them?

we are lame.
cripple and incompetent.
our cognition,
dissonant.

i know we have failed,
as a race
we fell from grace
could this be their
coup de grâce?
but… here’s the caveat:

they never forget your face…

so you and i
try
to make this world a better place;
little by little
we whittle
and strive
to enhance this life
in this space
and time
we call ‘now’.

words (c) Kat McDonald 2016
lead image: from The Solitude of Ravens by Masahisa Fukase, taken before he sadly plunged into a coma…

the other image, found on Rebloggy – apologies for the name of photographer remaining unknown. damn you internet!!