Category Archives: Personal

dear emma:

I will never stop thinking about you.

And I feel like a fraud because, really, I didn’t know you that well. Not as your family or your friends do. We only had three months or so after two years of passing ignorance. But we connected. Those were three months of daily Tumblr inboxes, liked photos, tweeted support. It sounds silly, but all grief between friends today sounds silly because it’s modern – we don’t languish over old letters, sob at gravesides, pick the petals off flowers. We go through old photos and scroll through feeds searching for hints, cries for help, indications that our friends could have been saved. I know I do, but I also know that messages back and forth, a night out or two, a promise to visit you in hospital – they aren’t anything close to what your family and real friends have.

But that is testament to you, I suppose, that I could know you properly for three months and that even the memory of you after four years is still a fucking punch in the gut. It was hard for me to imagine that your sickness, the cystic fibrosis that promised to kill you before 30, lived inside you. That your eyes and your laugh and your accent could conceal something so dangerous. “She didn’t look sick”, I have said, even though you were tiny and had a tube in your nose and spent most of the university year in hospital. I say it and what I mean is that you didn’t act sick. You spoke honestly and fluently of the way your sickness held you back, but you also danced and sang and joked about how your hospital bed was stopping you from getting laid. I went out with you one night and I just wanted to get to know you, instantly, this girl whose absence I had sometimes noticed in lectures. I didn’t know you were ill until a friend told me in the bathroom. It didn’t register how sick you were, that you could die while I knew you. Mortality was abstract.

I want to commit everything I know about you to paper before it’s swallowed into the depths of the internet. Whenever I dare to get sad or pathetic or serious about you I have to remember the image of the Emma I knew: tweeting on the news. Joking about her fanny. Dancing to Fall Out Boy. I actually credit you, privately, with getting me back into emo. Which again, sounds silly. When people die everything they ever did, every part they ever played in your days takes on a new significance. But how can I not find it significant that until that night together I had suppressed my love of emo for five years? I associated it with sadness and with the worst time of my life. Then I saw you: beautiful, funny, normal, dancing and laughing to Sugar We’re Goin Down. We screamed along in each other’s faces and the words came back to me. I went home and I listened to it again. I let myself love it. And it does seem silly, it does seem insignificant, but it was a great fucking night. You suffered for it: I had one day of a hangover, you had a week. But it was fun. You taught me to find the humour and joy in music again.

Grief is cruel and it has made me feel so fucking guilty, so aware of everything I could have done. I have to remind myself that there is no clean, perfect way to grieve. I feel like I’m betraying your memory when I get so sad and serious about you, when you were so optimistic and so funny about your illness. I feel like I’m betraying your family for caring as much as I do when I, really, hardly knew you. I feel guilty for promising to bring you cake in hospital but only when i got back from my holiday, if you felt better, anyway. You died while I was in Florida. My friends didn’t tell me, but the internet is cruel. I couldn’t miss it: post after post from people who I didn’t even realise knew you at all – such was your reach. “We’ll miss you Emma”, “I’m so sorry to hear @betseybunny”, etc etc ad infinitum. Screaming their grief into the void. They still comment on your posts. I did the same. I am doing the same.

The first thing I did, after sobbing in the shower and apologising to my boyfriend for my ugly grief, was sign up to be an organ donor. I urged everyone else to. I hadn’t done it before because I didn’t understand mortality and because it grossed me out. I instantly realised: why the fuck do I care what happens to my body when I die? When my lungs could save someone like Emma? Maybe if we were all less selfish she would be with us. Next I went downstairs and broke the news to my auntie. She asked: “how?” I told her you were sick. She said, “oh, so you knew then” as if any girl dying at 20 can ever be truly prepared for. As if dying ten years before you were expected to was predictable or acceptable. As if we are ever ready for death.

We went to Miami the next day. My overriding feeling was that it was temporary: the worst part of grief was forgetting, briefly, and wanting to text you. I would remember and burst into tears in a Starbucks all over again. I had the sun on my face and I was gasping for air. I felt so utterly alive and in the world and so aware that I was doing things you never could. I felt that, really, I did not deserve to be there any more than you did. I didn’t deserve to live when you couldn’t. I was homesick for my dirty grey city: I could not be in Miami, with the hot sun and my freckled skin and the palm trees. I wanted to die. I wanted my own bed. My sister stayed in my room that night and I sobbed silently so she wouldn’t hear. Being so far from home made it harder for me to comprehend that you were actually gone. That it wasn’t a lie, an accident, that it wouldn’t change. I still feel like that sometimes.

I wanted to speak to you because you were always so sweet when I was down in spite of your own problems. I couldn’t. I would buy a bag and expect you to like the photo of it. You couldn’t. I went to tag you when I spoke about you but it seemed wrong. I scrolled through the tweets and blogs I had missed while I was out having fun: I read back your fears about dying. You knew it was happening imminently, you were afraid, your family were having “big chats”. I read them now and I feel guilty, still, as if I could have read that you were at the end of your life and done anything to help. Your awareness and your ability to share that awareness with the world is both evidence of your honesty and another facet of how the internet has impacted grief. The paper published some of those blogs, but not the funny ones or the ones about sex. They censored you because they didn’t want to cause disrespect or distract from the matter at hand. You would have thought it was funny, but they didn’t know you.

Twice a year, every year since the 7th of July 2013, I am reminded of you cruelly. Facebook doesn’t give a shit about the grieving. There are other things that pop up, when I want to read your tweets or your friends post photos of you, but it’s your birthday and the anniversary of your death that really sting. On both my newsfeed is full of your face, and on the anniversary I actually get a notification about those posts we all made when you died. The pathetic attempts we made to summarise how we knew you. Twice a year we all remember, we all post, we donate some money, and we move on. For another six months or so before we are reminded again that you are no longer alive, anyway. Your blog and your Twitter are not comforting, but if they were deleted, it would be another death. They’re a time capsule now – I am 24. You are still 20, eternally. They show how cruelly your life was cut short; that you never had a job, a husband, a home. That you never will. The winter after you died I spiralled into the worst depression of my life, in part because I could not handle the fact that I was still alive. Me: cruel, selfish, narcissistic. When you – sweet, hilarious, selfless – were dead. Every birthday, every Christmas, every party reminded me that I was still alive and you were not. At our graduation they didn’t mention your name and we all collectively sighed and muttered among ourselves. Perhaps it was on us to remind them you existed.

Nobody really warns you that grieving never stops. It fades, a little, but in moments it hits me as quickly and as painfully as it did on that first day. It still surprises me sometimes that you aren’t just absent or on holiday. I didn’t know you for very long, and that complicates my grief further but ultimately it doesn’t matter. I feel selfish for being so hurt and traumatised but I know that were you here you would comfort me, call me silly, take me out if you felt up to it. I know you would see my posts and reach out. Maybe it’s unhealthy to read your blogs and tweets so often but they remind me who you were. When the memory of you is enough alone to make me burst into tears, sometimes I need to remember who I am grieving. You were not grief. You were not death or sickness. You were kind, you were funny, and you are gone.

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2017.

This year was good to me. I’ve already written about it and I won’t go on, but I feel healthier and happier and more successful than I ever have. 2016 was better than I could have hoped for and I did more than I had planned. It’s only a start, though. It’s a foundation that I hope to build 2017 on. Not everything is perfect, obviously, but I feel like things are happening and I want to do well and I want to be good and have fun and eventually be someone I quite like. So these are my goals for 2017. I won’t do all of them, I might even go a totally different direction, but what matters is that I have plans and I keep on working on something. My contract with VICE ends in February so everything is pretty up in the air, currently. I have no idea what will happen. Or how to plan for it. But here’s a few little ideas.

♡ Plan for Tokyo
♡ Write/pitch memoir/essay book
♡ Go on a work trip
♡ Work on emo diary/maybe do a zine/transcribe it all
♡ Write for Empire
♡ Keep track of finances/spend less/save
♡ Make 20,000
♡ Write 100 articles
♡ Take more photos
♡ Plan on moving to London
♡ Find an agent for my book
♡ Try to get a staff job
♡ Write more/more essays
♡ Read 25 books
♡ Watch more films/keep updated
♡ Take more photos

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108.

After ten days apart will I still
will my heart leap into my throat
will my eyes search you for clues
as you glance up, as you would
to anyone. As we talk as you would
with anyone. As you notice details and
it doesn’t matter if you would
because ultimately, I wouldn’t
but I’m dying without the attention
I’m dying thinking of time she gets
and it’s that you’re just representative
of obsessions, success, shared pasts
and who were you at twenty-three?
Might you have fucked me then?
and I won’t regret a misstep
until June
when you are dead

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2016

At the start of this year I made a list of resolutions, plans, and goals that some of you said was unrealistic; a list that, by and large, I fucking smashed. And then some. I did more than I expected to this year, grew more, worked hard. I’m currently working at VICE, something that a year ago I wouldn’t have even dared to hope for. I did so much stuff, so much of which was really random and cool and surprised me. Some of it was a total coincidence, and some of it happened thanks to my hard work. 2016 has been trash for a lot of reasons for a lot of people, and yeah, a lot of the things that happened to me weren’t ideal. But we’re here and we’re alive and I’m hoping that 2017 will bring me everything that my little heart could dream of; I’m sure I’ll deliver a goals list for then, too, soon enough.

So I wanted to:

Watch more films
Save 8,000 – no I did not do this. I was too busy having fun.
Plan a trip yes – I went to Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Las Vegas, and California
Publish film, poetry, other articles I published at least 100 articles, worked at The Debrief, and now I’m at VICE until February
Start my book finished it, edited it, trying to find an agent for it
Relax/see friends
Stay organised and work hard
Visit Europe
Go to events I went to a lot of events innit
Do an interview
Do a F2F interview
Attend an event as press
Don’t get a shit job for 1 year

And here’s what did happen:

♡ I graduated from my MA
♡ I had my first piece published by Bustle
♡ I interviewed Richard Dreyfuss
♡ I drove for the first time in years and took a trip to Bristol
♡ I had a horrible writing experience that I got over
♡ I started writing for Hello Giggles
♡ I wrote a piece for Pop Matters
♡ I covered Handmade Festival on a press pass
♡ I went to see Weezer for the first time since 2011
♡ I met We Are Scientists On Brighton pier
♡ I got fired by my shithead boss who still hasn’t paid me and didn’t panic
♡ I wrote a few pieces for Dazed
♡ I covered Wild Life festival for Crack magazine
♡ A week after I got fired, I started a project for Nickelodeon with a Brighton company
♡ I continued working at said company and made a ton of friends
♡ My family fell out with me over Brexit
♡ I travelled Europe with my American friend
♡ I worked at The Debrief for 2 weeks
♡ I went to Motion City Soundtrack’s farewell tour
♡ I continued working with Tilt as their main content person
♡ I celebrated my 9 year anniversary
♡ I went to Las Vegas and then California
♡ I interviewed Kreayshawn for Noisey magazine
♡ I went to Teen Party and met some people I like from the internet
♡ I met the editor of my favourite magazine and she offered me an interview
♡ I did interview with Empire, got down to the final 2, then didn’t get the job
♡ I went to Molly Soda’s art show and we hung out, she’s a gem
♡ I went to see Jimmy Eat World
♡ I started working with VICE for three months and got stuff published with them
♡ Wrote for Nylon, The Debrief, and more
♡ I started tweeting my diaries @emodiary05
♡ I started and maintained a ton of projects
♡ I finished my book
♡ I got asked to DJ as emo diary
♡ I went to Sticky Mike’s to be emo and cute a lot
♡ I went to the VICE Christmas party
♡ I’ve been doing ok at Twitter and have some cool followers and I like that ok

AND THE YEAR ISN’T OVER YET LADS

 

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64.

You wake up, reach so instinctively
for a glass of self-medication
as only you can, and still live

You thought it might solve everything
the move, I mean
that waking up to see the sea
was more important than fixing anything

Running was only the cure once
and no-one can live
as a body full of drugs

Being invisible, attention fading
is the worst thing

When you saw the sunset
from a small one-bed
did you still want to run?

Don’t tell me you didn’t
miss your pills, your bathroom cabinet

You are not kind, nor whole
you’re an empty, tar-black soul
bored to death, never an artist
true artists don’t die
don’t disappear when no-one is looking

The writer became a character

Look after yourself, dear
there’s years left
before you overdose
before you run away from here

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A personal essay

About happiness, or whatever.

Continue reading

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Readers:

I had a little change on my theme, I hope you like it. I wanted to ask what kind of content you’d like to see more of?

  • Poetry?
  • Prose?
  • Photos?
  • Lifestyle/Personal?

Or something else entirely? Do let me know, your opinion matters to me etc x

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