Tech-savy. Not Me.

For a moment I thought I had lost my site and all the content…. Don’t ask what happened because I’ve got no idea!!

I’m so not tech-savy –  no idea what had happened but am so relieved to find it is still here and what has been written is still here.

I also have two drafts waiting to be published…  So more will happen shortly…

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Benedict’s reply (and subsequent letters)…

Benedict’s Reply:

Aryanna,

Thank you for your letter… it came as a surprise… a confronting surprise…

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would attempt a response.

I don’t know if I can give the response you want.  A lot of time has passed since we broke up and a lot has changed.

I now work in a busy city bank as a clerk.  I still find it incredible that clerical positions still exist with everything being online.  I do feel like my time there may be limited but will keep turning up day in/out until something changes. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it replenishes my own bank account, as it should… and sometimes, I deal with interesting people…

I don’t or haven’t written anything since we broke up.  I haven’t had the mental creative energy to string together a sentence – let alone develop a thriving story-line.

This is the most writing I have done in a long time… it is difficult… it’s as though the knock to my head locked the creative neural pathways in my brain… I think, the frontal lobe was affected, the area responsible for cognitive function; thought processes and what-not… but I wasn’t rendered unconscious…  I can’t see how a superficial bump would affect creative pathways.

… Unless you were my muse and in losing you I lost everything…

… I also now open doors upon leaving a women’s house…

The whole thing sounds absurd, I know.  But it certainly ensures I do not see them again.  Once is enough and on to the next.

It’s enough.

I don’t need complications or dramas or find myself getting attached… I guess it is my protective/coping mechanism… I am sorry for sharing this with you… it just came out.

I may not send this either – but writing this to you is better than keeping it all confined within the cells of my body

For now, take care,

Benedict

xx

 

Aryanna’s reply:

Dear Benedict,

Thank you for attempting a response – I didn’t expect it – really.  Nor did I expect to hear of the changes in your life.

Working in a bank!?!

Wow… that’s some serious corporate stuff you got going on there – what???

See, mind blown!

And totally understandable that you would not find it enjoyable but no-doubt there could be some interesting writing material there, right?!? … Oh yeah, I just re-read thing about frontal lobe and no creative things… just take a note book and pen and write observations – no need for creativity then… Again, so sorry that happened… Maybe go to a Doctor to make sure everything is ok? … Maybe…

… Is it ok to ask?!?  When you leave a woman’s house… um… what exactly are you trying to cope with or protect yourself against? … Sorry, you really don’t have to answer that but just curious…

Good to hear from you and thanks for your reply, write again soon.

Aryanna

Xx

Aryanna’s Letter to Benedict

To my dearest Benedict,

I am writing to you (not sure if this will ever reach you) but writing from the furthest reaches of my mind and soul… No doubt you’re better at these wordie things than I am. But I shall endeavour to do my best.

… May I jump in and say it?

Sometimes… most times… I find you on my mind.  Sometimes you’re the last thing on my mind before going to sleep… and you’re the first thing upon waking…. It’s nice to know you’re there – even if you’re only in my mind… Does that sound weird??  It’s making it weird now, I know…

Once, I dreamt I came back to you… I found you in the bright streets of somewhere.  Funnily enough, you were pleased to see me.  We kissed – as though we knew it was for the last time… yet neither of us wanted it that way.

You laced your fingers through mine, rocked (slightly) back and forth on your toes and breathed: “I can’t do this… I am seeing someone else…”

… Of-course…

… Why would you wait for me?  Why? I can’t even tell you the truth – my truth.  It gets swept aside and buried by the multitude of staged characters. I get caught up in developing their truths that I neglect my own…

… The fact is, I never stopped…I never stopped… I never stopped wanting you… I never stopped wanting to be by your side…

I never stopped… loving you… never stopped.

Your dream-self gently scolded my dream-self: “you should have told me.  I would have waited…”

My stomach churned in despair and I woke in a cold trembling sweat.

My mind turned to black sludge; a murky mixture of liquid and solid components – and the stench – foul… this was your absence and my depression.

So, I am writing to you to make my truths known.  I may lose my nerve and not post this to you… I don’t know what I expect from you in return – maybe nothing.  Maybe knowing my truth is enough… Your dream-self said I should have told you – and yes, I should have – and now I am.

 

Always your Aryanna

Xxx

 

P.S.: I am currently working on a production of Jane Eyre… and my apartment is becoming over-run by more stunning costumes, it’s starting to resemble a well-produced West End dressing-room. It’s quite wonderful really…  And you’re right, (as always) there are many great writers besides Shakespeare! (I may even start quoting Bronte now…Ha ha!)

P.P.S.:  and I am sorry for knocking you on the head with the door when you left our fight… I hope you weren’t left with too much damage? … And I’m sorry I didn’t check on you.  I was too mad to check.  I’m not that good at apologising either (but you know that) … sorry… ‘Til next time… Take care. Xx

 

 

Emily Barclay © 2017

via Daily Prompt: Sludge

Benedict and Aryanna (Play)

Characters:

Benedict, writer

Aryanna, actress

Charlotte, Aryanna’s friend

 

Set in London, 2017 in a revamped warehouse apartment. Bedroom resembles an old library with wooden panelling, bookshelves filled with many old leather-bound books.  There are racks of clothing as would be seen in a dressing room and shop-front mannequins wearing Elizabethan style costumes.  On the bedside table there is an old stage light turned into a lamp.  The bed is unmade but clean.  The atmosphere is warm like a sepia-stained photograph. The bedroom extends into the lounge room, it’s filled with a combination of antiques and modern furnishings.  It is spotted with keepsakes from Aryanna’s previous production involvement’s, from posters to masks and whatever else.  To left of the lounge room is the kitchen, it is just as warm and inviting with same combination of antique and modern furnishings.  To the right of the lounge room there is a royal blue front door with brass handle…

ARYIANNA is in the kitchen washing up. She is a petite blonde – there seems to be sickly fragility about her but her energy tends to counteract her fragility. Her friend CHARLOTTE is drying dishes.  She has a bold and warm presence…

CHARLOTTE: How’s Bene?

ARYIANNA:  Umm, we’re on a break. Indefinitely.

CHARLOTTE: oh really?  Why?

ARYIANNA: … I always found him to be very particular in his ways.  Everything had to be done in a certain way at a specific time.

 

BENEDICT is lying on ARYIANNA’S bed.

BENEDICT: (Closes computer with urgency) We must go, now –

ARYANNA: where?

BENEDICT: come on –

BENEDICT takes ARYANNA by the hand and pulls her briskly outside.  He looks up at the sky and smiles.  ARYANNA follows his glance.  BENEDICT lies down in the grass pulling ARYANNA with him. She attempts to take off her jacket to lay on it. BENEDICT pulls the jacket out from under her.

BENEDICT: it’s best without… just feel the ground beneath you, and notice the sky…

ARYANNA (to Charlotte): … that was probably one of my favourite moments we had; gazing up at the night sky.  The cool air touching and gently kissing our skin… coiling blades of grass between my fingers… as though it were his own hands… we couldn’t see much of the sky though  – being London and all.

BENEDICT: … what are you thinking?

ARYANNA: … I knew it wasn’t what he was expecting… but… All I had circulating my mind were the lines of an old play…

“Come, gentle night; come, loving, black-browed night;
Give me my Romeo; and, when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night…”

(To CHARLOTTE/SELF) … He smiled… sighed and drew me close to his chest…

CHARLOTTE: …sounds lovely.

ARYANNA: it was… it wasn’t always – but mostly it was… (Laughs) Oh and he had this way of laughing.  It wasn’t so much the laugh itself but was more about the timing of the laugh.  So, we might be watching a comedy on Netflix – here’s me: funny bit funny bit – laugh-laugh.  Here’s Bene: funny bit funny bit – wait for it, wait for it – moments gone – laugh-laugh. (It didn’t make sense to me.)  At first, I thought, it was cute and maybe it took him a bit longer to process things.  Then one night, I decided we’d watch something I’d seen and laughed at many times over but instead of watching the movie would watch his reaction.

BENEDICT and ARYANNA are lying in bed watching a movie.  ARYANNA anticipates a funny moment in movie approaching, she has half attention on screen and half on BENEDICT. Funny moment happens, ARYANNA laughs as she watches BENEDICT.  He is visibly holding his breath and laughter is being supressed in his body until he cannot hold on to it any longer and laughs by that time the movie has moved onto a new scene.  ARYANNA reaches for remote and pauses movie.)

BENEDICT: … do you need to go to the bathroom?

ARYANNA: no… um… I don’t think there is a nice way to say this… so, I am ust going to say this –  what is with your laugh?

BENEDICT: … My laugh? … I don’t know what you mean, my laugh is fine.

ARYANNA: … Fine – not it’s not fine – your timing is all out.

BENEDICT: it’s fine – my timing is fine – why are you picking on me?

ARYANNA: I’m not picking on you.

BENEDICT: Seems like it – you’re all like – mer-mer-mer –

ARYANNA: Ok.  You don’t need to argue with me like a six-year-old.  Let’s drop it. Ok?

BENEDICT: Fine.

(ARYANNA presses play on remote and their body language is slightly closed.  It takes a little while for both to relax and get back into movie; missing some funny moments in film. ARYANNA keeps an eye on film but switches glance between BENEDICT and screen.  He does the same.)

ARYANNA: … you’re not laughing…?

BENEDICT: it’s not funny.

ARYANNA: but clearly it is –

BENEDICT: not…

They continue watching.  After a moment or two ARYANNA chuckles, BENEDICT copies.  Another moment or two passes ARYANNA chuckles and BENEDICT copies again as he glances at ARYANNA.  ARYANNA throws a cheeky glance back to BENEDICT, as to say: I know what you are doing!

BENEDICT: (Shrugs) … What?…

They return to watching film and both become engrossed in film. ARYANNA laughs at film and shifts her attention to BENEDICT.  He’s genuinely holding back his laughter and pulling an awkward facial expression.

ARYANNA: (laughs) see – there it is – your face – your laugh – your laughy stink-eye.

BENEDICT: I do not have a laughy-stink-eye.

ARYANNA:  You absolutely do – you’re all like – (She pulls stink-eye face while laughing.) …

BENEDICT: Schadenfreude –

ARYANNA: bless you? Pardon? What?

BENEDICT: It’s German, meaning: one that takes pleasure in another’s misfortune or humiliation.

ARYANNA: Oh.  You’re such a writer.

BENEDICT: What does that mean?

ARYANNA: It means you’re too bloody sensitive.  It means, you keep everything suppressed and internalised – even your laughter is suppressed.  You must let it out.  In the theatre, if the actor anticipates laughter, we wait until it subsides slightly then continue – otherwise those lines will be lost or missed, and they may be vital to the progression of the story… and, my other point is, the timing of your laughter is all wrong –

BENEDICT: and you’re such an actress –

ARYANNA: What?

BENEDICT: you’re all externalised and – and loud – and where ever you go there is drama –

ARYANNA:  Can you compare me to any other clichés or stereotypes?  Not every actor is obnoxiously extravagant or command attention in the space they use outside of the stage.  With me, what you see is what you get.

BENEDICT: … I’m not sure if I agree with that.

ARYANNA: excuse me?

BENEDICT: when we met –

ARYANNA: I was a complete mess –

BENEDICT: You would spend the night with anyone… you would turn up to rehearsals completely trashed.

ARYANNA: Can we talk about something else?

BENEDICT: You always thought you hid it well –

ARYANNA: Ok – but that’s not me anymore –

BENEDICT: but I knew – I saw the glazed look in your eyes and the red-rims underlining your eyes –

ARYANNA: (kisses him to stop him talking and after a moment – softly) I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for making fun of you. But I don’t need to be reminded of the past. I was a mess.  I wanted to be… validated… taken seriously… loved… but didn’t know how to do it with dignity… I don’t even know if that makes sense?  You’re the writer, I am sure you could articulate it much better than I am… but I am different now and I feel like you have played a huge part in that change too… (To Charlotte, back in kitchen.) He did cause a lot of change…

CHARLOTTE: … he did… why did you break up?

ARYANNA: (Long pause) … I don’t know… He left one afternoon to go back to his apartment… and… we never managed to co-ordinate time together…

CHARLOTTE: really? Seems weird.  Did you call or visit him?

ARYANNA: you know what I am like with my phone – I text only.  I did text and only got bare minimum for replies. I didn’t want to visit unannounced and invade his space awkwardly.  So, our communication dwindled, and we were pushed away.  I was kept busy with life and rehearsals, but I missed him immeasurably.

CHARLOTTE: So… what the fuck happened before he left?

ARYANNA: … I don’t know…

CHARLOTTE: I mean people don’t just stop communicating or seeing each other without some sort of closure.

ARYANNA: …Maybe we are an exception to rule.

CHARLOTTE: Maybe… so what happened the last time you saw each other?

ARYANNA: I don’t know… I think we had a fight… I can’t remember what it was about.  We were never that great at fighting – it was always petting things.  Fighting about the fact I would spend too much time on my phone, when watching a film in each other’s company.  My argument would be that I like to research the actors as I am watching.  Or, I have spent a day in rehearsal using my voice and by the time I get home, the last thing I feel like doing is talking.  I’d prefer to be still, silent and content in each other’s company rather than filling the space with idle chat.  But apparently that wasn’t enough… We were never very good at fighting. It was always awkward… oh… and he had this other ‘particular’ thing…  It was a superstitious belief he had picked up from – I don’t know where.  But the theory behind it is that when visiting someone, the owner of the residence must open the front door – as this allows for further visits.  So, he would stand by the door, like a cat waiting to be let out.

(BENEDICT is standing at the front door visibly agitated, he moves to touch and turn the door knob but retracts his hand. ARYANNA is lying on her bed, wrapped up in a blanket.)

BENEDICT: (Yelling) Can you come and open the door – I can’t even storm out in a bloody fury.

ARYANNA: (Yelling back) do it yourself –

BENEDICT: Then it means I won’t be able to come back –

ARYANNA: (enters) maybe I don’t want you to come back –

BENEDICT: just open the bloody door and let me out –

(ARYANNA opens the door forcefully and BENEDICT moves towards door at the same time and knocks his head on frame of door. He exits swearing.)

ARYANNA: (angriliy slams door) … “parting is such sweet sorrow… my only love sprung from my only hate -”

BENEDICT: (from other side of the door) Stop quoting bloody Shakespeare!  There are so many other great writers!

ARYANNA: Go home Benedict – go home! … (she listens to Benedict walking away and slowly sits, leaning against the door… To Charlotte) … and that was the last time we saw each other… I still don’t really know what that fight was about… he was just ‘particular’ about a lot of things…

****

 

 

Emily Barclay © 2017

via Daily Prompt: Particular

“This above all: to thine own self be true…”

It can be hard navigating life and trying to find our sense of purpose in life.

Recently, I found myself questioning what I was doing?

Mother. Single. University student. Potential nurse.

The other night, I felt I wasn’t doing any of them particularly well. This is often a frequent occurrence. But it’s often fixed with sleep and wake up refreshed with energy to keep on going; persevering.  But then the other night, as I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, friends were advertising their business services and airing general life accomplishments.  These people were not just Facebook friends but women, mother’s and wives or partners.  These women appeared to me, to have a purpose and were serving the community outside of being a mother.  I have no doubt in my mind that they worked hard and diligently to get to where ever and whatever they are doing.  In looking at these strong, courageous women, I felt in adequate in my own skin, identity and purpose. Or more felt I didn’t have a purpose when everyone had it ‘sorted’. (In my mind, pronounced ‘sorted’ in a cockney accent, because that’s how I roll, guv.)

I thought of all the women I know in my life and the things they had accomplished while being a mother.  Meanwhile, here I am, financially struggling to make ends meet, feel a sense of loss in not sharing my life with a loved partner, and to get through each week of semester at university is a constant battle of the wills.

The battle of will I or will I not continue.

But always find myself marching on, more because I don’t have choice. I must keep on going.  I must keep moving forward for my child because he needs me, but he also needs me to be happy.  I don’t entirely know how to be happy anymore because I feel like a lot of what made me happy was left behind when I had found out I was pregnant, unexpectedly and self-confidence and trust in men was lost when my child’s father left me three months into pregnancy.  And seven years down the track, I have struggled to regain a sense of happiness, self-confidence and trust.

If anything, I recently discovered my self-confidence had been completely shot to pieces in this last year.  I can’t pinpoint the breaking point, it came to my attention a couple of weeks ago under exam conditions.  I had spent the week or so leading up to exams revising and studying intensively with a friend. I felt strangely relaxed almost complacent about the impending exam.  At the same time, I felt as though the knowledge wasn’t there, yet it must have been.  It was quite a bizarre feeling.

Exam day arrived, and the same complacent feelings were following me. I sat and patiently waited until my name was called for the execution.  I also made the mistake of chatting with a fellow class mate and attempting to revise a physical health assessment I was least familiar with.  I wasn’t anxious but by the end of that revision my anxiety levels were high. I realised how little I knew on that assessment and freaked out.

Anxiety turned to tears at the prospect of being interrogated on a subject I barely knew.  I was crying before and during the exam.  I was given the option to wait to calm down but a part of me knew it would just make me worse. I needed to get it over and done with. I pushed through the tears of terror and the exam.

My examiner’s parting words were: “I can see the knowledge is there, you just need to stop doubting yourself.” Never a truer word be spoken. I left the room with tears-welling, knowing it was the truth.

My self-confidence was absent.  Who knows where it had gone… maybe somewhere tropical, enjoying the serenity of pristine waters while wearing the flaming red, vintage inspired halter-neck swimsuit – the one, I don’t have the confidence to wear.  My self-confidence had gone on vacation when I needed it most.

It’s return date: unknown.

I tried to reflect to pinpoint where the shift had happened; where self-confidence left, unfortunately I couldn’t find an answer…I was baffled because I knew this was unlike me.  The girl that used to read Shakespeare aloud when housemates were out but was un-phased by an audience, was long gone.  I was ever put-off by an audience, sure there were nerves but that’s normal.  It’s more concerning when nervousness is absent…

Having said that, I guess the wonderful thing about losing self-confidence is that it can be rebuilt and reinvented.

Last week I had an encounter with a lady where we exchanged stories, I told her about my self-confidence gone rogue. She told me how her divorce left her self-confidence rattled, her friends rallied behind her, as though placing their hands around her back preventing her from falling backwards.  They told her not to be rattled by her ex and she developed a personal mantra which was repeated when she felt it was needed most.  She said she’d look in the mirror and repeat: I am a strong capable woman. She continued to repeat those words over until those words became engrained into her psyche.

I think sometimes, we need to be stripped bare to quiver in our vulnerability; to see what we are or are not in that low point.  But, we must have the clarity of mind to know or see that it can be changed.  It’s like when bush fire rips through native bushland, once the flames cease and smoke smoulders out, all we are left with is charcoaled, burnt-out land and tree stumps.  It’s disheartening seeing such devastation and grief should be felt not denied.  But this devastation is a reminder that change is in motion for nature has a way of replenishing itself.

Overtime through a balance of rain and sunshine, a tiny green shoot pushes is way through the charred trunk of a tree – and here, we can see the only way forward is up.  The green shoot uncurls its tendrils, revealing even smaller shoots – from the darkness it seeks the light; the sun and its warmth.  Where there is light and warmth there is growth. Everyday the tendril grows, continues to seek the sun and grows in it’s warmth.  The tendrils shoot out more tendrils and they pop out and up like arms reaching for the heavens or to give a loved one a hug. It keeps growing and changing until what was a burnt and charred tree trunk was again overtaken by new light; life.  And it’s only when you look closely that scars of a fire are evident.

… While I was rattled by my absent self-confidence, I found, on reflection, I don’t need to know how it was lost but can focus on the fact it can be replenished.

I also found, while my self-confidence was absent, I found I was comparing myself to friends; their accomplishments and successes in showing off their flare and creativity.  I don’t think I felt jealous but more inadequate in my own skin, that I had a longing to succeed, a longing to be creative but only to find I was restricted by my self-loathing mind and fear.

But I need to be able to see and believe that I am a strong capable woman. I am incredibly creative and blessed with many malnourished talents that seek light.  I am quirky and have random tendencies (whatever they may be perceived as) and by golly, I love nothing more than having a good laugh. I also realised we must not compare ourselves to others.  The only person we should compare ourselves to is our self.  That is when we truly know ourselves.  It is knowing our own capabilities, it’s knowing what we can cope with; the limit of life’s stressors; knowing when to ask for help, when to accept help and when to stop.  It’s also taking ownership of decisions. But really, the point is, we must be true to ourselves.  To live a life where we can be true to our core self (within moral, spiritual, ethical and legal bounds, of-course.) For me, it’s about creativity; expressing myself through other means whether it’s jewellery making, sewing or writing.  It’s valuing a stress-less life, time spent with family and friends and allowing time for conversations; silly and serious. For me, if I can be a part of what I value then I know I have a successful life.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius says:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,

and it must follow, as the night day,

thou canst not then be false to any man…”

I’ll keep reminding myself of these things above, maybe it will be my mantra too.   I know I have been burnt bare but there are tendrils that grow deep within my core need and seek the light and deserve to be at the forefront of my character again.

As, it does with you, my friend.  If you have read these many words (thank you) and found something has resonated with you, take heart in knowing you’re not alone and:  be reminded,  life can be wonderfully delightful and wonderfully messy – enjoy it in its entirety.

 

 

Emily Barclay

(c) 2017

Atmospheric Shadows

The mushroom was coloured like the back of a lady bug;

Crimson red, speckled with black –

Un-fortuitous.

It was in the dampest and mossiest part of her garden.

It almost appeared enchanting.

Yet – a sign

Of her impending doom,

Her blushing doom – it almost appeared enchanting.

 

But, like the lady bug, her blushing doom was speckled with hope.

 

Shadows danced softly on the wall,

Out of focus,

Like a camera capturing its filmic subject in monochrome

and a shallow depth of field.

Out of focus.

Monochrome shadows.

Atmospheric shadows – that were enchanting –

Mono-atmospheric shadows speckled with blushing hope…

 

Emily Barclay (C) 2017

via Daily Prompt: Atmospheric

Emerging… Introduction

A few months ago, I thought about starting a blog.  At that same time, a dear friend had sent me a draft of her first blog.  I was keen to follow suit.  But I didn’t want to feel like we could be in competition with our choreography of words… (But I knew that wouldn’t be the case…)

Then, life happened – or more –  procrastination happened.

But really, to say the least, I had no idea what to write about but I made an awkward start and some interesting ideas were presented.

… I was also faced with an awkward memory.

I was in my mid-twenties.

It was the time I confessed to wanting to be a writer.

This happened in the middle of a: “what are you doing with your life?” conversation.

My confession was not well received and I was met with questions like:

“But how are you going to support yourself while writing?

A legit question, yes?!?  But ‘being a writer’ was not considered a ‘real hourly paying job’ and it was advised to get a real hourly paying job…

I was also met with another set of questions like:

What if you write a top seller?  How will you be able to top that?

Ergh. Eye-roll. Sigh.

At the time, I didn’t have a response, other than tears.  It was and still is my response to most things of a sensitive nature. It is, unfortunately, who I am. I am starting to, very slowly, accept this character flaw …

But, if I was to re-live that conversation, my now thirty-something self would say:

It is not about topping my previous work.  It is about writing from the heartas long as I write from the heart of what I know and understand about this beautiful, chaotic existence we call life – then the work should speak for itself…

In a way, by starting this, I am standing up to being told I cannot do something I feel so strongly about. From the girl that I was in my mid-twenties to now, I have lost a lot of things that once made up who I am or was.  (And gained some things too and will elaborate on this in subsequent posts.)  But recently this came to my attention: I can still write. In fact, I need to write and I need to share it with others too.

So, as an emerging writer on this scene – I pledge to: write from the heart of what I know and understand about this beautiful, chaotic existence we call life… And hopefully we will have a laugh or cry or be thought provoked along the way…

Watch this space and stay tuned for further writing ventures from yours truly.

Emily xx

 

 

 

 

 

©2017 Emily Barclay