I have two flash pieces: 'Inscription' up at Referential Magazine and 'To the Trees' at 52/250 A Year of Flash. Both stories were written when I was wasting away over things that I should not be. 'Inscription', in particular, was a bit of a desperate attempt to distract myself by creating a world that was anything but what I was feeling. 'To the Trees' was somewhat more related to my real life--I did take that walk amid old men practicing tai chi with wooden swords in the park, at the break of dawn.
Last summer I picked up The Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille when I was looking for something to take me out of my shell. I read the novella once--a pdf copy sent to me by a friend--in my university days and remembered it as a fascinating work of erotic literature. It was not until I re-read it, with the physical book in my hands, that I realized what I had been missing. It was the postscript where Bataille reveals how parts of the story and the characters were based on some rather horrifying moments in his youth. It was a fantastic rendition of grief, of things he could have been capable of doing but did not do.
That moment changed everything for me. Up until last year, I had been struggling to write the kind of realistic short fiction that I was once good at in my early days as a writer. Year after year I had failures written all over the computer screen and I could not see that realm my sensibility had drifted to. Bataille set me free. Since then most of my stories have been about what I or someone else could have done in a different space, and many of them lean towards the fantastic. Now I am calm and focused, even happy.
My 'escapist' tendency creeps into my everyday life a lot. Today a tango friend came over with this rare flower I'd been looking for--Borage--plus a couple other goodies she wanted me to have. A dancer, painter, photographer, pianist, weekend farmer and I don't know what else, my friend got these precious flowers from a fellow farmer. Sadly for me, it is not easy to grow borage in a HK home or at this time of the year. For some reasons that I will not explain here, I would be very happy if I can get hold of borage year-round!
Both my friend and I have to move soon. Being an artist with eclectic interests, she has collected too much of everything--paper, art supplies, toys, small gifts that were meant to give away to curious friends--over the years. This, coupled with her need for space, make her apartment hunt a difficult ordeal in this town.
In my home there are only the essentials: books and a couple boxes of stuff on a bookshelf, clothes in a wardrobe, a nightstand by my four-poster bed, a desk and a piano. Even then there are things I need to throw out--like clothes, books, other odd items--that I have not looked at in too long. Things that I see some value in but do not want. The process of sorting out what stays and what goes to the recycle bin is pretty tedious. And I hate to admit things like: 'I once loved this author and now I dread reading her' or 'So-and-so who gave me this just means nothing to me. I want it gone!'
Whenever I get stuck in weighing the pros and cons, or simply the contradictions of something, I throw it away. If only you can honestly say, 'No, I really don't want it', things fall into places and you see you have not lost a goddamn thing. But we all like to cling onto things until we drown in misery, or drag random shit down the staircases of a walk-up building we have to leave. Panting, bumbling, wondering why you did not take throw it into the garbage when you still could. Now it is too late.
My own apartment hunt will be a tough one. But I have decided that if I have to move into a smaller place and reorganize my life, everything except my piano can go. A stranger can take my bookshelf for a nominal amount of money. A mover can come in to dismantle my bed and desk, throw the bits and pieces onto the streets. The wardrobe can stay here since it was not mine to begin with. Only the piano would come with me.