Goodbye to all that
To close out another year of... whatever that was, we asked some friends of Three Month Fever to share their reflections on 2021. Happy new year and thanks for reading <3 Holly, Zsofia and Ed
“A year” marks the passage of time. But what does that marker mark when the future is immutable? When it is the present that is unknowable? When Joe Biden is Donald Trump with pronouns, and we are haunted by the past?
An event “this year” like r/wallstreetbets – in which online Reddit traders challenged Wall Street elites at their rigged financial system – is an example of a shock that was momentarily all-consuming then almost forgotten in our minds. This is the era of the cocoon; the end of contemporary. Defined by mass individuals, by mass manipulation, by Meta.
Rather than marking the passage of a defected time, one that reworks itself over and over, perhaps we instead should mark a passage of imagination. Let’s imagine a globe-spanning consciousness. A planet-scale being, whose trees act like cells in a colossal brain, and with seas like blood in a beating heart. Let’s imagine a world without news. Let’s imagine zero until we see anew.
It’s not that the stakes changed in 2021, but maybe that I started to assess things under a different framework. I asked myself, every time I found myself committing to something: Why is this important? Why is this worth my time and effort in a dying world?
Sometimes this assessment was depressing and left me with no clear answers. Other times, it showed me what I should do, and why. I got married in May and knew exactly what it was for. In June I waded into the freezing north Atlantic ocean in the southern Hebrides. A clear day, the water bright blue around me and my skin screaming at the cold of it. I am not a very hardy woman and don’t like to put myself through physical misery if I needn’t. But even as my body was telling me to get out, yelling at me that there was no reason for any of this, my brain said to keep going. I plunged into the water and I swam.
This year I had one goal which I pursued with a profound and solemn commitment: eat more desserts. For years I’ve turned them down unthinkingly, considering myself the kind of person who doesn’t like sweet things. What a joyless, stupid, empty way to live: why think of yourself as ‘the kind of person’ who does or doesn’t do anything in particular? Why limit yourself in that way? So every time I ate out this year I made sure to get a dessert, and it dramatically improved my life. I am not exaggerating: I attribute all other successes from 2021 (and, mercifully, there have been a few) to Year of the Pudding. My 2021 dessert highlight was a surprisingly challenging damson sorbet which I ate at Tonco in Sheffield, a restaurant just around the corner from where I live, the proximity of which is no doubt going to send me into significant debt in the next twelve months as I attempt my new resolution: no more depressing lunches.
I got married this year and I haaaate that this is the most interesting thing I have to tell you, because nobody wants to hear about the details of a wedding they weren’t at. This is all I have though, so I’ll tell you about what I wore and we can say that it’s the outfit that defines my year, how’s that?
A vintage Comme des Garcons jacket with those incredible tiny lapels that they do. I found it at a vintage shop in London about six months before the wedding – I think it’s women’s because of how short it is, which is ideal because I have shoulders like a child. It’s one of about three things I own that is perfect.
A pair of gigantic black trousers that my good friend gave to me a few years ago. They’re these thick woollen billowy things from Lemaire that I had to have taken up twice, as comfy as sweatpants and with a handle like a butt-clenchingly expensive coat. I wear them all the time.
A white shirt from Uniqlo. Unless you are rich enough to have a personal shopper as well as someone to take care of your dry cleaning, you should never spend more than £60 on a plain white shirt because they have a terrible life expectancy.
A pair of calf-hair Bass Weejuns. They’re kind of sleazy in a good way, and I never wear them because they slide all over the place, but I keep them on the floor near the door because they’re a treat for the eyes.
Petit Matin by Maison Francis Kurkdijan. Smells exactly like getting married on a summer’s morning.
It’s 5.08pm on the 29th of December. I’m sat in a pub waiting for mass at 6pm round the corner, and the reason I’m doing so, for the first time in over a year, is because I’m waiting on a phone call to say that my gran has died. I’m in Berlin, she is in Glasgow, and I’ve just spent another Christmas here due to covid. I feel like I was duped by 2021 and the promise it would be different. I feel like a mark. Nothing has changed. Sorry that sounds so bleak. I’ve been in the room before as someone’s mum has died, watched the fallout from it with horror. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I don’t want it for my own mum. By the time this is published, it’ll be a new year and my gran will be dead. Call your mum more, if you can. This is not intended to sound preachy. Rather, it’s a reminder to myself.
2021, my first full year as an expat in England, in which I learned how to use a hot water bottle, the difference between grime and drill, and how to make potatoes for a Sunday roast – parboiling and lots of duck fat. A year of terror and tedium punctuated by small victories.
Agustin Fernandez Mallo’s The Things We’ve Seen was my favourite novel that I read this year. I also really enjoyed Justin Robertson’s The Tangle and Izumi Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom. My favourite non-fiction books of the year were Frances Wilson’s brilliant Burning Man on D.H. Lawrence and John Higgs phenomenal Blake book, William Blake Vs The World. I loved Bobby Gillespie’s Tenement Kid, Lenny Kaye’s brilliant Lightning Strikes, Harry Sword’s Monolithic Undertow and Steve Davi & Kavus Torabi’s Medical Grade Music. White Rabbit were off the chain this year. Re-read Olson’s Maximus Poems, and Pound’s Cantos, love them even more. The Selected Letters of John Berryman, The World of Bob Dylan, The Edward Dahlberg Reader was the most insane thing I read all year, still don’t know how I feel about him, what a nut. On the subject of nuts, caught up on a few Blank Forms journals, specifically the Don and Moki Cherry special, which was totally inspiring, and the Masayuki Takayanagi issue, which was hilariously impenetrable, loved them both. I was gifted Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung’s Red Book by James Hillman and Sonu Shamdasani by a friend at the launch of my novel Monument Maker in August and it was like being handed the key to my own work, one of the most revelatory reads ever. Fell back in love with Robert Walser all over again, read Carl Seelig’s magical Walks with Walser. Maria Stepanova’s In Memory Of Memory was devastating. Other highs: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis live in Glasgow was a religious experience, as was my friends’ Mogwai’s Glasgow show at the Royal Concert Hall. Took my mum to see the Velvet Underground documentary at the GFT, upholding our tradition of going to see Lou Reed together every time he played in Scotland since the 1980s. The Alexander Calder/Pablo Picasso exhibition in Houston, Texas was a mindblower. I went for the Picasso and came out with Calder all over my head, especially his early figurative wire work of circus figures and of Aztec Josephine Baker etc. But perhaps my greatest cultural moment of 2021 and one I will always remember was going to the circus with my father-in-law and my wife at Thanksgiving. We went to see Alegria by the Cirque du Soleil in Houston and I cried tears of pure joy from start to finish.
In 2021: inner distraction, moon-marks, and moving up the road to Seven Sisters. Long dwellings on but not in fantasy zones: the Duelist Kingdom and its lower labyrinth; the recurring Grail Wars; unwritten futures of Earthseed in space and the next age of the Ina. Thinking of the summer I think of a garden with a pitch-black wall. In the autumn I thought a lot about cross-sections; and about scribbles and loops as the forms of matter. The moon came down to earth and we ate part of it, and to commemorate this I made a short film called Red Moon Journey, the journey being a near-circular, crimson-drenched glide between near-identical tower blocks. Ended the year by asking Santa if my favourite enemies could appear in the MCU, but didn't even get coal in response.
A year where I learned the hard way that the road to hell is not only paved with good intentions but the people dragging you along it have no clue as to why and didn’t even think to ask. I also buried the last of my living grandparents, David. From reading his old letters, I learned that the many lives of a person can surprise you in beautiful ways. I started wearing a gold ring with a piece of polished black jade to commemorate my paternal grandfather, Ivor, who died in 2020. I carry him in my heart every day.
Among all the unwanted ‘learning experiences’ that made up this year, I persevered, managing to write with constancy, even during the ten weeks I had covid. I turned my hand to the learning of new modes: of narrative, character, and the construction of shared worlds. I discovered that teaching oneself to write differently requires patience, acceptance of failure, and the critical support of others. Where in the past the task of my writing has been to trouble the fictions of the person and pressurise it with the weight of the world’s contradictions (poetry), this year the act became a form of self-preservation, and I learned the necessity of resilience along the way.
Suffering really can be a site for a sharpened understanding of self and world, what is true and what is false, not as a set of propositions but as acute awareness wrought from staring deep into the heart of the horizon. Importantly, this year was testament to the truth of friendships with people you trust. Here’s to change, whether compelled from within or without; the terrible world. Perhaps from a place of resilience we might push back at the rigged misery of circumstances a little.
Whenever I get asked to contribute to something like this, I think of one of my favourite jokes, which is:
Two whales walk into a bar.
‘What can I get you?’ says the barman.
‘Ouuuuuuughhhhhhhhhh,’ says one whale. ‘Sheeeeeeeeoooooooooooooookkkkkkkkk clk clk clk. Hurrrrrrrrrrgggg. Huuuuuuuurgh. Ouuuuuuuuhhh clk clk clk. Grngh.’
‘You good?’ the other whale says. ‘You sound really drunk.’
My thoughts on 2021: Ouuuuuuughhhhhhhhhh sheeeeeeeeoooooooooooooookkkkkkkkk clk clk clk
I always write long lists of new year’s resolutions. I don’t have the heart to look back on the list that I wrote in January 2021. The resolutions always range from the banal to the grandiose and they always fill at least a page, sometimes two. Whenever I write them I think about a friend who once made a single resolution: ‘eat more honey’ and wish I were able to think more like that.
When I looked back through photos of the year, one of my favourites was of a honey vending machine (a vending machine selling only honey). It was taken outside a train station somewhere on the outskirts of Berlin on a strange and funny day trip with three friends I hadn’t seen for too long.
Eat more honey.
I hate doing things like this because I am deeply superstitious – to the extent that I have to bang my head against the table whenever I congratulate myself and am forever surreptitiously saluting magpies like a mad woman on my morning run. Also because this year has been very strange, spent mostly indoors, at my kitchen table, working on something that is not yet finished, so anything I say in regards to the next feels like sabotage. Nonetheless, everyone I’ve spoken to has a good feeling about the New Year so I will knock my fist against my forehead and say I’m inclined to believe them. Why not!
One of the strongest memories I have of my dad is him driving nowhere, as in driving just to drive, listening to cliche rock music with the volume turned up as loud as it could go. (He loved Fleetwood Mac, Sheryl Crow, The Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin, I can’t remember anything else.) For some people this impulse would have equalled joy or freedom, ‘the freedom of the open road’ but for him it never felt like this, it felt like an obliteration of his surroundings, of the whole life he had to be in. I am thinking about my dad because I just saw him; I see him once a year tops, it is always bad and weird, and it’s always around this time so for me it signals the end of a year somehow. But I’m also thinking about him because I’m thinking about choices, how often they don’t feel like choices when you’re making them, how you can end up in a life you didn’t really choose. I find families to be a burden, my mum agrees with me.
Something I learnt this year: I can drive! And I’m not bad at it either.
Something I knew already but learnt again: I don’t feel myself without my friends. I think about something Nan Goldin said in an interview a lot: “I think after he died, I lost my personality again, to some extent. That's what a friend can do. They can be a reflection of you, the best you can't see. My friendships are the major relationships of my life. They were the family that I had in my life.”
Something that just happened: I finally tested positive for Corona! A fitting close to the year for someone who has never liked New Years Eve.
2021. Full cultural castration. Head over heels the worst year for art and human expression in living memory, it's actually thrilling: The Beckton waste heap, turned into a ski slope, immortalised by Diana and eventually left forgotten, to throw parts of east London into permanent shadow. 21 is a geriatric sucking on a milkless udder, a kickstarter for a bone marrow transplant for a tagged foot. It's the spaghetti junction of ouroboros, the Champs Elysees of cul-de-sacs, the sandstorm that blocked the sun that threw the world into sepia.
Even 1987 - a year that welcomed Pressure Down and Three Men and a Baby - had Touch and Go, cenobites and the beginning-rumblings of a dancefloor. This year, best-of lists were a countdown to armageddon. 2021's winners weren't talked about in pubs, weren't fought over on forums and weren't fucked to, or with. No tattoos, bomb shelters or Prince Alberts will immortalise the findings this year.
But what 2021 had that 1987 didn't - of course - was an alibi, a reason to feel exhausted, to feel drained, to be brained. To go fully and finally cross eyed. The sudden rush for change hit us square between the eyes in 2020, while 2021 slipped in and out of our peripheral vision. The energy had been sucked out of it at the dot of every 'Have a Happier New Year' card, and an entire timespan arrived vacuum-sealed.
It's maybe more important to zoom way out of 2021, to look at it as its own artefact, a glistening dead star. As an object, it's a year that drained out of us, rather than evaporated from our pores. At a tilt, 2020's sludgy sophomore certainly appears new and evil, the confounding feeling you get when an enemy fucks with your life in a totally unexpected way.
I’ve always liked exploring. Put down in Florence or Tipperary and I’ll walk ten hours each day, stopping only for lunch and again for dinner, and after, drinking and smoking. This year I bought motion home, to London. If I’m itchy or depressed I’ll just set out. I don’t know if this peripatetic self emerged because of the slowness of the pandemic but it helped. The suburbs have become my sea. Of course I’m not the first person to sail this ship but I’m always shocked we’re not all on it. There is a a three story Hindu temple ten minutes from my house, actually there are a few, but this one is carved in dark granite bought from India. Opposite is a football pitch, around the corner is St Mary Magdelene’s, a medieval church with an anchorite’s cell. Opposite St Mary’s is a brutalist Catholic Church, down the road is this allotment where all the beds are made from breeze blocks, a hedge carved like a dragon. There’s just so much around. It’s got to the level, now, where I’m no longer heading off if I’m not depressed, but getting depressed if I haven’t head off for a while. I like little details. I bore my friends with hundreds of pictures on my Instagram. But then this drifting has actually made me feel a bit more solid, has given an unnecessary purpose. To catalogue and to prove that there is nothing more interesting than a big city and its people. 2021 was a year of getting to know a place, the uncertainty, the soaring beauty, and brutal unfairness of the nest and its monuments, so many million lives.
This year was a Christmas movie you see:
A girl moves back home from a big city. Her life is in shambles - she is feeling very world-weary. She meets up with a friend to talk it all out. They go to a bar, but the music’s too loud; so they go for a walk but then it starts raining; so to hide from the rain, he takes her to an outdoor library space to look at some books and maybe talk it all out, but instead they just look at each other.
I had few hopes for this year, locked down in January, feeling compelled for the first time in my life to check when the sun rose and set. I pined for people and places far away, I tried to travel through literature and film, I watched lots of football, and tried to deal with the deaths of four friends in six weeks. (None from Covid, but some, maybe all, accelerated by the conditions of the pandemic.) I have fewer hopes for next year: the last two decades have been miserable for culture and worse for politics, and I see little sign of improvement. Sorry I can’t be more cheerful – it’s just not in my nature.
I think I made some enemies this year, or maybe I just finally figured out who had deactivated and who had blocked me online. Either way it stung. It prompted me to think about old friends, particularly during periods of lockdown, and to remember to finally respond to a couple of texts I had just left hanging. A reply is always better than nothing, no matter how late it might come.
Writers are at a loss to describe loss, though often asked. It can’t be original, and trying to say something profound about loss strikes me as the worst kind of insincere writing. 2021 was a year of a thousand losses.
It sped by and was also inert, but 2020 melted into 2021, so I can’t separate them. In mid-March 2020, my life had some novelty, when I was tossed into an existence I hadn’t wanted or chosen, to the extent one can choose a life. I didn’t lose my teaching job, and had a reasonable place to escape from the city, first in the States to be devastated by Covid 19. It was a house I had not liked even to visit, a small house with a yard, but in 2020 I learned its virtues, at least I recognized them — quiet, for one, and being able to see the UPS truck from my window. I was safe, from 2020 through 2021, considering that safety is “an acceptable level of risk.”
By 2021 I was still mostly upstate in the sweet house I had never liked, and saw friends who visited, and by the summer of 2021 and fall, with vaccinations I visited the city more often, staying five or ten days, able to do city stuff I hadn’t in a year. In 2021, I no longer felt I was a refugee from NYC, having settled into a different life or new rut.
2021 saw Trump vacating the White House, and, for a moment, his electoral loss felt very good, possibilities arose for things to get better; but soon it was obvious: he was not gone. He was the vicious motivator of Jan. 6, 2021, and his lethal absent-presence was shadowing a deformed, miscreant America. He brought out the worst. What was latent was activated, and came out of the closet. His hatreds inspired more hatred. He didn’t create it, he let the bad genie out of the bottle. The mis-leader in chief misled Americans who already felt powerless, left out and whose ignorance served a leader who was also ignorant, but not in the ways they were. He was rich, and powerful, and he was with them, they thought, while he despised them.
I studied American History seriously in high school and college and believed the Constitution would protect citizens’s rights. That a loose — not strict or literal -- interpretation of the Constitution would prevail. That voting rights would be expanded and protected. That granting Black Americans’ all of their inalienable rights would come, and that Roe would not be overturned because it was settled law. That a president wouldn’t encourage a mob to stop the electoral process, that Congress wouldn’t try to overturn an election. I believed many things. I knew that bad laws had been passed, that the Supreme Court had made horrible decisions, that the Constitution included slavery, but still I expected the rights movements begun after World War II to prevail.
2021 was the year I realized with horror that the Constitution didn’t do what it was made to do, it couldn’t prevent lawlessness, that “checks and balances” failed. It couldn’t stop Congress-people from being lawbreakers, though they were charged to uphold the Constitution. It couldn’t stop the same people from lying under oath. In 2021, one out of three Americans believed Biden’s election was a fraud, and that wearing a mask was mandated by fascists. In 2021 there was so much death, loss of life, and this loss, of hope, was the greatest.
In a year where Lana Del Rey released two albums, finally my love moved to Glasgow; I had vicious recurring dreams about spiders in the land that wouldn’t thaw and took field recordings in Norwood Country Park months later – a blood-orange fingernail away from midsummer. Somebody said “you need to teach me how to cry” and I wondered: had I become an expert melancholic? We began the year passing a woman cradling the most illustrious ferret you could possibly imagine on her way to the Green. A soft omen! I got an aeropress, took St John’s Wort pills and wrote copious diaries which include phrases such as ‘pleasure agora’, ‘the way apples look to iridesce’, ‘META KLAXON’, ‘grunge boys’ and ‘mumblecore’.
Katie, Jack and I put on an exhibition, The Palace of Humming Trees and I invigilated during a thunderstorm. On Zoom, I hosted an event with Bernadette Mayer and cheated time zones for other readings. Kyle, Mau and I harvested our internet joke into ongoing sonnet carnivals. I packed everything into boxes and moved strenuously to the east side of the city where I’ve lived for ten years, and now I cycle everywhere, even arriving to the ball or COP26 in wet red flares. I listened to hyper pop and Judee Sill, Porridge Radio and Magnolia Electric Co. My debut collection, The Luna Erratum came out with Dostoyevsky Wannabe and I got to the almost-end of my PhD which is about impossibility, dream and the anthropocene. I bought a plastic chandelier in the shape of a cloud. David Berman’s middle name was Cloud.
We put some books out with SPAM and hosted a night at Crystal Palace Park in the company of dinosaurs, and I learned how to make vectors, teach IRL again and miss the sea.
2021 was drenched in bad vibes. My proudest accomplishment of the year was busying myself with a worthier set of distractions. I let myself be driven mad by the humbling gap between the ruptures of personal transformations I was experiencing and my own inability to articulate it all in any meaningful way. I let myself be driven around by friends through mountain ranges. I slept in the desert. I spent the year teetering between Damascene convulsions of revelation and poetic inertia. Because this confusion was collectivised, it wasn’t even the kind of angst you could luxuriate in and hoard for yourself. I felt robbed of many experiences, until I spoke to younger people and children, who felt even more cheated. I read every issue of AramcoWorld published between the years 1967 to 1975. In Arnhem, I read Joseph Andras’ Tomorrow They Won't Dare to Murder Us in one sitting. Okay, maybe two. I thought a lot about Africa, even — and especially when — I wasn’t in Africa. Planetary degradation chugged along. All the best artists were still broke and broken-hearted. Clout remained the opiate of the creative masses.
Despite my best efforts, I still didn’t catch the dreaded virus, though I did nurse a persistent brain fog which I used as an excuse not to write or do much thinking. 2021 was another year of marvelling at how the impulse towards institutionality permeates our very being, how it organises so much around us and inside us, how deftly it directs the tenor of our desires and emotional lives. This inverted homeostasis that kills us even as we cling to it. A body flailing politely. Let it go. There’s no dignity in being the last to leave the party. 2021 was a barrage of difficult lessons we will pretend to learn again for the very first time next year. See you then! I love you Sinéad O'Connor. Suddenly dragged back to Europe, I was squeezed into a train seat with my luggage reading Rememberings, and if it wasn’t for your book, I would have screamed.
I lost my short-term memory some point since the last election. People ask what I did on the weekend and I
I no longer read the news, except my phone tells me some days how many people drowned in the English Channel while the Air Force hesitated overhead. I hate the Today Program, the prime minsters’ best mate. My landlady rejoices in the smaller things, the latest by-election victory, and I am like
One day I got a message from a friend in Athens, as usual he said how are you, fine, I said, how are you, I’m good, he said, I’m in prison. I put a chunk of my first paycheck in a Western Union transfer to his lawyer the judge ruled against him and now he’s in a camp, waiting
Last night, unable to sleep, I realised I don’t believe in the future. The past flows into the present then disappears like water falls. I’d like to say it’s because I believe in the climate catastrophe but really it’s an inability to accept that this is all
In the mornings, I listen to Radio 3, intensity of arias punctuated by the warbling of the British Isles, switching when it gets too militaristic, pouring coffee into chipped blue willow china from my dad’s attic, I turn towards the day’s requirements
And stupid as it no doubt sounds, I am still a lover of the sun and all its fleshly plants, whatever it adorns, I am there, making my brothers glow.
I had an oppressive stench of lavender and a totem around my neck. One evening it caught on something whilst I was cleaning the house and broke. I picked up the symbol from the floor and put it in the bin – there was no room for extraneous things.
Safety could mean an absence of harm, an insulation and a kind of resultant freedom, a liberation.
The hand you hold and the hand that will never reach you again. A divine touch. One thousand one hundred pounds in purple notes stuffed deep inside your closet. The key to your front door. A doctor’s voice, ‘can you keep yourself safe?’ I liked that the door had three locks so the landlord wouldn’t get in. I liked that we were in a union so we were able to fight. A hot buttered kiss. A scarf from a stranger. The burning blue flame of a ritual and the poems that are passed between. Every year the sky reddens and beneath it, I dig in my feet.
This year I decided at various points that I wanted to be:
more willing to dig beneath the surface
less attached to my phone
less defensive in arguments
less stressed out by driving after (just about) passing my test in July
I failed to some degree at all of them, but progress is incremental and glamour requires better quality heels.
On December 27th, I was driving through heavy traffic and thick fog on the M62, my nose close to the steering wheel, squinting to see. Every half a mile or so, neon announcements appeared from the sky: "Don't Drug Drive", "Get Boosted", "Fog" (thanks, I know). I managed to make out "Resist The Prick" graffitied onto a bridge. Does anybody pay attention to these empty communiques from the gods? I don't think anybody really listens to each other anymore, not least the murmurings of modernity’s angels. But between me and you, I keep being served ads for "Keto Granola", which would make a beautiful name for the right man or woman.
For a while now I’ve been making a film about what it means to recover or rework memories that you’re missing, whatever that means. In the past year I’ve also seen my own capacity to memorialise decay: I struggle to place memories in time anymore and my recent experiences, when recall is possible, come at me like clouds of gas farted from an empty whipped cream canister, immediately swept up in the invisible ether around me.
I think the absence of travel lies behind the expansive memory-fart-cloud I live in — and which my poor friends periodically suffer. I’ve missed the abrupt dawn of airport arrivals: stepping into an unfamiliar country home to no one you know, where your plans aren’t clear, and where for a moment at least you forget where you’re going, where you’ve been, who you are, or who you could be, and then wander off towards the bus stop to mumble broken, inarticulate pleas to whichever patient local will give you their time before driving you to your destination, as if backwards into the life you already know.
And I’ve missed memory rushing back home to meet me once I return. Be it in the surprising fragments of the familiar you find as you travel away from home, or the pleasing rush of the past coming back to you as you step onto the runway and run for the train to look out its windows as you travel downriver back home. Memories rush back with clarity in the space left by forgetting, but that’s hard within the oppressive familiarity of your daily life.
In the meantime and in my adjustment to so much home-time, I’ve grown attached to those things closer to hand that break apart the day into fragments of forgetful pleasure. Mostly orgasms and hallucinogens. God knows how long this time will last so if you’ve got any further suggestions, call me. Please.
2021 felt like yet another disorientating year of political and personal tumult. The year simultaneously moved at a snail’s pace and far too quickly. I started a new job (via a company laptop on my dining table) and it revealed another universe – I decided to keep a diary so that I can remember it all in years to come. I turned 30 in June. A new decade stretches far ahead and I can’t predict what will come of any of it.
Things I will carry with me into 2022: the short film Tower XYZ by Ayo Akingbade, Magdalene Odundo’s pottery and our subsequent Zoom conversation, The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Esme Hogeveen’s piercing review of Amber Husain’s Replace Me, nighttime taxi rides across Paris during FIAC, readings by Christina Sharpe and Dionne Brand at the Torkwase Dyson show at Pace, the disco ball at Maxim’s, a serendipitous dinner at Brasserie Lipp, V & D’s wedding celebrations, and finally, group grammar lessons on Zoom with Ros and Andrew.
In 2021 I developed an addiction to fantasy novels and a nervous tic of ripping the tips of my nails off. Somehow this has made my nails stronger than ever. This is not a metaphor! It’s just a bad habit.