Red or Blue

In my dream, Christ is painting his nails again.

We’re sitting on a park bench placed incongruously in desert sands, behind us, a vast stone has been rolled away from a tomb carved into solid rock, revealing nothing but cool darkness. One of his hand sports arterial crimson, the other a shimmering blue-green that reminds me of the ocean. He holds them up, waggles his fingers.

‘Which one, d’you think?’

I point wordlessly at the kingfisher blue. He nods thoughtfully, hair catching the sun in glints of electric jet. The rattle of palm leaves sounds above us, when I look up they’re like blades of jade against the pale sky.

‘Very interesting, you know that says a lot about you as a person.’

‘Don’t try and psych 101 me, Jesus.’ I say. He laughs, a burst of something loud and joyful and carefree…Whenever he appears in my dreams Christ laughs more often than, to my knowledge, he is ever given credit for.

We sit kicking our heels under the trees for a while. At some point, Christopher Walken joins us. He picks the crimson red nail polish, Jesus and I exchange a significant look.

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When I wake, it’s to the sound of the buses beginning their endless circuit of this town. I get up, make breakfast, swallow new pills designed to keep my Picasso brain in check again. I spend a lot of my days drifting in and out of consciousness at the moment because of the side effects, I’m told they won’t last too long. I am six months sober and clinging on to awareness like someone in a plane crash wondering if clouds could break their fall; it reminds me horribly of taking opiates, that struggling to surface like a fish with scales of iron.

Later at a meeting someone who heard my first main share last week, and oh boy was it as depressing as I told you it probably would be…

‘I drank because I am alive, but I didn’t want life; not adulthood with its loss and responsibilities and exit wounds…I still don’t know if I do…’

…Comes up and gives me a hug. They know I went into hospital the morning after that share because I wanted to kill myself; I’ve only just taken the plastic band of A&E baggage reclaim off my wrist. I get a mouthful of well-meaning angora jumper drenched in Chanel and her fingernails catch the light like swarming ladybirds, they are streaked the same bright poppy red of Christ’s right hand.

I think, Fuck you, Christopher Walken.

What the Fuck has Happened to your Life + Blog

Hello, everyone. I’m Tasha. I’m 31 years old, which is apparently 220 in dog years.

I felt like re-introducing myself because everything in my life has changed so radically and dramatically in the last six months it’s hard enough for me to recognise my own self in the mirror without expecting you to as well.

Allow me to recap. Since 2/8/16 I have:

  • entered a residential rehab facility to deal with the car crash of my alcoholism
  • whilst in rehab left my job, flat, and fiance
  • left rehab and gone to live in halfway housing full of fellow junkies in one of Britain’s shittiest towns
  • given away the majority of my possessions
  • given away the majority of my limitations
  • given away the majority of my fucks
  • become a student of Reiki
  • remained sober
  • met the love of my life whilst coughing up blood in a sweat-encrusted flannel shirt

So.

There’s a lot to process. I’ll get on with writing about it after this coffee.

Licking Toads

I see you. On trains and escalators; buying bread and walking the dogs. I see you clutching history books and muddy hiking boots in plastic bags. Invisible or too visible, broomsticks disguised as vacuum cleaners and butterflies nesting in your hair, cunningly mimicking plastic clips. I see you on the train; toying with old necklaces, picking scars, scribbling in miniature notebooks, sipping cans of pre-mixed Gin & Tonic.

I see you when you are young, and sad, and waiting to blossom; way behind the other girls. Barely tethered to the world, on slim and lonely paths the deer wend through the green; or padding through the city alleys, urban fox paws slipping out of denim jacket sleeves. I wonder if you are like me. I wonder where the cauldron is, it will be somewhere in your body but not full yet, or not ready to be tasted on the end of a burned thumb, like Gwion Bach. You must believe that your wet-leather skin is no less beautiful than the plumage of the blossoming girls. I see you. I see you when you too are riding the Hedge of a liminal late decade and the reality of your life – of what your life could be – is sinking in like clay.

I sit on those same itchy train seats with my own history books and pre-mixed Gin & Tonic, there are stoat bones around my neck and I am wearing sensible shoes and a lone dash of badly applied lipstick. I have started seeing you everywhere; in cafes and churches and doctor’s waiting rooms and yes, always, always on the train – or at least waiting on platforms speckled with gum like a hen’s egg. Toad Women. I see you everywhere phasing like ghosts through linen as I hoard more years, as I grow into my role with relish, leaning into the crooked bones of my house.

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I, too, am a Toad Woman. I have glittering eyes and hallucinogenic skin. A jewel hidden inside my head. I creep through dying leaves and pond sludge, fingertips sipping eccentric nutrients from moon-drenched soil. My palace is a hollow space in the earth to sleep in, my great hall is lined with lichen tapestries and pillars of decaying mushrooms. When I sleep, it’s to the sound of rain seeping through the tangled roots of my canopy bed.

I am glad for the invisible circle of us; sometimes one, sometimes thirteen. Endlessly together in our strange sisterhood, the ocean forever rolling stones around its mouth. I wait in threshold spaces for you to appear; public gardens, libraries, zebra crossings, A&E. Without fail I will spot another Toad Woman even if she is sitting behind me, with those extra, shiny black eyes rolling around the back of my skull like dice. Then I swivel my neck, Minerva’s owl, cough. She understands; she too has a throat full of mouse bones and hair from mourning lockets. She also feels the creak in that one glowing rib.

Come and creep with me. Let’s discover hares’ nests and hidden green stems no human eye has ever seen. Let’s slip between the loose stones in the wall, where tiny purple flowers thrive. Let’s find all the holy wells where a saint’s head fell, and hold out cups of silver, wood and gold. Let us rejoice, because the water tastes of myrrh, and apples.

Begin Again

I’ve never met an artist – whatever their canvas – who wasn’t impulsive, and I elevate impulsiveness to comical proportions. I can feel the old itching starting again; underneath the thin, clear lenses of my eyes, the thirst for anonymity. Sometimes it’s very hard to be authentic without a mask; Wilde knew that. Perhaps the relative no-body a person can sneak past Google’s gaze these days is better for the soul…Mine at least. I get stifled under the weight of my name; the smooth, oval eyelids of my own thumbnail photograph. Writing about the intricate, gorgeous, frustrating mechanism of my brain folds the creases of me too neatly into ‘mental health’ at times, when the swirling galaxy of me cannot be so contained. No one can. The creases start to chafe.

I hear writers who can’t wait to pour out their truths to people they know, to proudly strip bare for their peers, family, lovers, ex-lovers…I don’t feel that, never have. I love to write without being distracted by the eyes of anyone I know. People see you upright and talking for say, 10% of your life, and assume they can seamlessly predict the other 90, as though paddling in the waves means you know the depth of the sea. That’s the attraction of the masquerade; I might speak through papier mache lips, but the words are still my own. Eyes laughing behind the plaster, face clean, without fingerprints.

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Anyway. On the windowsill, a clock is ticking. I think it was my Grandmother’s, we’re still clearing the odd, forgotten debris of her life away. Nylon dresses piling up like snow drifts outside the door. Every tick, soft and muted and swishing, feels like a papercut snagging seconds out of the tender skin on the backs of my hands. I never felt young, even as a child. I buried my head in books and documentaries about Egyptian mummies, Pompeii, Anne Boleyn; inhaling flaking bandages, ash and printer ink. I wanted to be an archeologist, I imagined brushing away a thousand years of earth and revealing a queenly lionesses’ head; or Hathor’s long, sleepy eyes peering out at me through the dust. I traced velvet with my fingertips and found myself at Tudor banquets; all heat and light and the smell of roasted meats; candle flames lined up like pilgrims, hair stiff with sweat under a french hood. When I surface, that itchy voice whispers to me relentless as a river: begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again begin again…

I thought this would become simpler with age, but perhaps for fragmented mystics like me it doesn’t – perhaps the lines between this place and all the others become just blurred enough, until your life is something you’re watching to the sound of the lute, or birdsong, or the tips of whispering pines – through an invisible pale pane; a courtier watching the lavender bloom in the green tangle of the old knot garden.

Liminal

In the dream (because I am still dreaming odd, impossible dreams) I am running down a naked road at night, taxiing down it like a plane in the muted glow of the the dim streetlights; and my foot hits the ground in one decisive smack, propelling me into the air, and I’m suddenly back in the lucid indigo sleep of my childhood full of these secret flights. I rise quickly, grinning and giddy, my arms out at my sides. I know I can go anywhere, anywhen; open those doors hidden between seasons and orbiting stars and behind the rain and leap.  I turn as the wind streams around my limbs, thinking of a name…The scenery streaks past me like messy oil paint until I arrive…But I can’t find them in the great green field I’m standing in, butter-bright sun lighting up the grasses.

I feel myself settle back into my skin. Someone is next to me, sitting on the sofa blanket. I open my eyes suddenly, and now no one is there. Sometimes that happens, someone, something, follows me back. I hate these things; chittering, scrabbling creatures sniffing around the melting candle of my wandering spirit.

As a child, I never knew whether these nocturnal journeys were simply the whorls of my brain processing the day or if I was always lifting out of myself like smoke; so lightly tethered to my own flesh that falling asleep was one long, easy exhalation out of my own mouth. Ectoplasmic, mystical, free.

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Now, for some reason, they’re back. I close my eyes and find myself in the ocean, or between the clouds, or standing in an unknown city; all reflections, clean metal and blown glass. Sometimes I visit places more than once – the graveyard with tombs engraved in a language I’ve never seen; the chapel that changes historical period every time I’m there; the grove of tall firs with a granite throne, covered in moss and ivy; the city, of course – always that golden glass citadel, temple bells ringing; saffron-yellow silk hanging from the doors and windows.

I don’t know; perhaps the fragile-fingered grip on my own sanity is loosening again. These explorations between dimensions mean I don’t sleep well, barely rest. Is it spiritual? Is it mental? I no longer know…I just desire a dreamless night, the cells of my body calmly soaking up the hours. If anyone knows how to stay nestled safely within your own soft shell, let me know.