An installment of Lucy Writes Crap Poetry on Her Phone
“Only half an hour now!”
as I sit in rehearsal for the best night going.
12 is a curfew, or maybe it’s being sent back to the start,
For it’s two years in one night &
maybe I’m late to the party.
Happy New Year means being on two separate nights out, right? Wrong
For you bought your last drink, last year;
You haven’t been to the loo since last year either.
Once 12 comes maybe you’ll feel elated,
Start to enjoy being cat-called by drunken bastards, for last year you could’ve
Punched them, but now it’s January so you must love
Being asked to get your tits out.
It’s a waiting game, it’s exhausting,
Everyone sat checking their watches and phones
For the night to end begin.
Two nights in one, a do-over
New year, new me.
But I’m stuck in-between
And I want to leave.
My cat whines at me in what sounds
operatic. Harmonising with itself.
Itself being its reflection in the oven door.
Maybe it just wants a chat.
I realise, after asking what’s wrong,
as if she can respond, can translate
my ‘can you be quiet?’ in to something feline.
I realise, two hours later, after shutting the moaning bitch
in the kitchen, that what she’s after is meat in jelly.
Not my affection.
Not my voice I think she can understand.
She does not think ‘I’ll go get some cereal,’ ‘I’ll grab a banana from
the fruit bowl,’
To keep her going.
Instead, she looks at me like I’m the bringer of three wishes (or that I’m an idiot,
‘why don’t you see I’m fucking starving?’)
And waits until I’ve watched the Corrie omnibus,
To refill the biscuit bowl.
1) I used to avoid yellow, my grandma said it would wash me out.
Pale skin and lemon is never okay. I had no choice when secondary school
meant yellow polo shirts
against my newly bleached hair. I was a walking canary.
2) My grandad was awarded the tallest sunflower of our town. Its speckled face
enveloped by a fan of sunshine. A few years later he,
and sunflowers, passed. Yellow is my grandad.
3) I hate that lime-yellow sickness of high-vis. The yellow of reflectors screaming
‘don’t run me over’ attached to school kids like a tattoo. It’s afraid, it’s a weapon. That yellow isn’t smiley.
It’s a smack in the face.
4) End of my A-Levels, I bought my yellow backpack.
It made me stand out (in school I’d avoid that like the common cold.)
Yellow meant confident, yellow meant goodbye sadness.
Yellow is I don’t give a fuck.
5) But I must specify for saving my dignity.
‘What’s your favourite colour?’ ‘Mustard.’ Not custard, not highlighter
or high-vis. And I don’t like bananas.
6) Yellow is the safe option for those unborn. New life, painted across fields
or nursery walls. Yellow is ‘try again tomorrow.’ Yellow is
freckles across cheeks. Yellow is
With the aid of Google Maps, hand in hand we walk
as obscenely clueless tourists down narrow streets. I
had been before, you had not. I felt
it my duty to make it worth the hype I had prized it.
Admist the crowds
You keep me anchored
Like it’s only the two of us
In this foreign space.
The sun was particularly sociable, a bit in-your-face actually.
Like a drunken aunt at a family get-together.
Better than rain, we didn’t pack an umbrella,
but unnervingly still.
Even if it were snowing in August
You’d make it bright.
A tangible light box.
A sunbeam on my arm.
A tangible cliché, immersed in a city drowning in
romantic pressure. Perhaps it’s the solution to long-term
partnership. Move to Paris, the divorce rates will decrease.
Grow old together, tolerate what you were supposed to hate.
Has no one ever shown you the
sun is not in the sky, but in your heart.
Perhaps the gaps between your fingers
were made to fit between mine.
First time medicated was in the library.
3 deadlines that week and my eyes are
splitting. The laptop screen, the closest I’ve got
to intimacy in weeks. I guess it breathes, it makes
enough noise to resemble something humane.
Why, when you’ve got so much to do
Do you check Facebook when you know you’re wasting
time (it’s inevitable now, like pissing.)
Then, I saw the solution. Advertised by other patients of
Student Syndrome. Clinging to the miracle cure, right in the palm
of their hands.
‘Stress’ the doctor said, and he suggested a counsellor.
But no, this fix cost me two quid with no waiting list except
for that difficult customer demanding decaff, two pumps of syrup,
whipped cream and
I don’t need to make an appointment. I can relieve myself right
in the comfort of a chewing-gum- imprinted seat.
Advertised? More like prescribed as the cure for panic attacks.
Who cares if five of the things are enough to enhance my anxiety?
At least I’ll meet the deadline,
with heart palpations (bonus points) to meet that 2:1.
Finally, the time has come. I’ve finished my degree. The fact I can actually type those words feels the most surreal feeling I’ve ever felt. With no exaggeration, I didn’t really believe I’d make it to the end.
Months prior to leaving for Uni, I had talks with my Mum of fearing I couldn’t do it. Particularly the social side of things. I wouldn’t know anyone, I’d be living away from home, fending for myself and that’s a massive deal. Particularly for someone who up struggles with social anxiety and up until that point only socialised to the minimum, spending her time at Sixth Form and not in the best mental state. Even the weeks leading up to uni, I was attending doctors appointments about my relationship with food and disordered eating, and had, that summer, been put on anti-depressants. The thought of going to uni at this point felt a bit unrealistic, an idea, a distant potentiality.
But I did it.
I remember moving in that Saturday afternoon and having to sit down because I felt so dizzy and overwhelmed. Said a brief ‘hello’ to my flatmates, feeling completely dissociated and convinced that the whole thing wasn’t actually happening. My Mum left and that room we’d just-about squeezed my life into, was mine for the year. I shared a flat of 8, and what I was yet to realise, was that going to Uni was going to completely change my life.
Not only did I study the course of my dreams, at one of the top universities in the country, but I was surrounded by people I actually felt comfortable and (for the majority of the time) constantly happy with. Which I’d never, ever experienced. Throughout school I struggled with friendship groups, bullying, and feeling isolated. Surprisingly, in moving to the second biggest city in the UK, I felt the least isolated I’ve ever felt. I remember the first day, nearly a year in to living there, that I went into Birmingham on my own for the day. Which, may sound silly to many, but to me was a massive deal. Because crowds frightened (and still do) me and being able to go in to the city centre alone was a huge step, and progress.
I’ve calculated, and in the space of three years, I’ve written (over, this is a very rough estimate) 7 extended essays, 8 (?) massive Creative Writing assignments/extended essays, exams, and my dissertation. I haven’t really had a ‘proper’ break over that time, Christmas and Easter being spent revising or writing 3,000-4,000 word essays!
I’ve had the most incredible opportunities; attending careers talks, stage shows, residentials. I was a Creative Writing Representative for the Student-Staff Committee in Second Year, wrote for an online magazine, cried out of happiness and got so drunk I projectile vomited (which is always a story to tell.) I’ve read books I never thought I would or could, from novels written in the 1600-1700s, to writing essays on the likes of Woolf, Bronte, Austen and Wilde.
Sure, at times, Uni was physically and mentally exhausting, but every slip or obstacle was met with one thing. I found myself. I found self belief and confidence for the first time in my whole life, and writing that makes me feel quite emotional, haha! I feel confident enough to start conversations with new people, talk about my passions, express my opinion in seminars and even order in restaurants without my voice shaking.
I always heard going to Uni is one of the best experiences of your life and the way you find yourself. But I never really understood that, the idea of finding who I was, until I did. I’ve left university not only with a frickin’ degree, but a sense of self worth and belonging. I’ve found my voice, my drive, my passion. Oh, and I also wrote a DISSERTATION.
For those of you fearful of university, who are telling themselves they can’t do it and that it’s over-hyped or something they just can’t do, see me as a success story. I did it. I went from spending breaks and lunches in the library at school because I was so scared of socialising, to attending lectures/seminars, living by myself and performing my poetry to an audience.
University is one of the best experiences of your life and I mean that wholeheartedly. I am so grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met, the memories I have and all the opportunities I have right in arm’s reach.
[two of me, stage blank, white sheet as backdrop]
ME ONE: I guess I see it a bit of a shame, that those that work high-stress jobs loose so much of their salary
ME TWO [rolls eyes]: Yeah, but who else is going to fund the NHS –
ME ONE [snapping]: that’s not what I’m saying
ME TWO [short]: then what are you saying?
ME ONE: That it’s shit that so many avoid the tax man, and there’s our Dad who works 16 hours a day and pays 40%
[Me Two paces back and forth, not meeting Me One’s gaze]
ME TWO: I get that, it’s shit that he works so hard and is stressed… but what about those who can’t work, who –
ME ONE [shouting in frustration]: YES I KNOW –
Loud bang, black out.
They prescribe you a different colour,
a magic dose, higher and higher.
No student discount on those happy pills,
but the unemployed are the typical buyer.
For it’s some instant fix (well worth the try)
that make you brain-dead.
But, who’s to believe you,
when it’s all inside your head?
‘How are you doing?’ she asks,
this isn’t interest, it’s become a greeting.
You force a smile, new meds, new you
and nod enthusiastically, ‘of course, I’m eating.’
Everyone’s anxious these days, don’t over-react,
and if there’s no colour, it’s less strain on the eyes.
For feeling nothing is better than something,
and this numbness works as an easy disguise.
Take one before breakfast, and an aspirin straight after;
and with your eyes shut maybe the screams resemble laughter.