Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966), from the poem cycle, Tashkent Pages. Cited in Anna Of All The Russias: A Life of Anna Akhmatova, by Elaine Feinstein.
Although written in 1959, the poem (from which the above is excerpted) is Akhmatova’s recollection of meeting the Polish artist Joseph Czapski in 1942, while in Tashkent.
I’ve said it before, but this bears repeating. Whatever else I may read, I return to poetry. And I return, always, to Akhmatova—her like may never be known in this world again. But she lives on through her poetry, and it reminds me, however terrible life may be, one must live, and live without shame.
My roommate wants me to repay her for rent and utilities that she had to shoulder. Fine. It’s right and equitable. She tells me that if I can’t catch up, and don’t land another job, that she has to look for another roommate who can pay on time. She has the right.
But it all feels like an ultimatum. And I can’t stand the strain. I endure a job that I hate so she can get the money she needs. I apply for more jobs at every chance, so I can get out of this vicious cycle.
And it’s not enough. It’s never, ever enough. I’m trying to get out of this hole, and it feels like I’m getting kicked in the teeth at every turn. It hurts. It just hurts so badly. It’s been so painful, and I see no reason to put a good face on a horrid situation.
These past five years have felt less like life and more like a slow death. I don’t think I can carry on this way. Something is bound to give. And tonight, I’m scared it will be me. I feel like I’m being bled dry. And yet, the bleeding continues…
Perhaps in the morning I won’t feel so despondent, and there will be a way through. Tonight, however, I just want to shut the world off, or at least put it on pause.
I don’t want platitudes, and I don’t expect a magic solution. I just need to know that somewhere, someone is actually listening, and that I have been heard.
Mind you, sometimes I do need to push through a situation that provokes massive anxiety. And I have done so before.
More often than not, though, when I am anxious, or depressed, or both, the last thing I need is unsolicited advice. Let me be. Let me breathe. If you feel the need to spout platitudes, please, restrain yourself.
I’m currently reading To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing by Simon Garfield, and it has me thinking about the boxes of letters I possess.
I have written letters to friends in the past, and have had pen pals. Sadly, it’s been years since I’ve kept a regular correspondence with anyone. And that’s a shame. Just sitting with pen and paper, head whirling, calms and thrills me all at once. However much I enjoy social media, there’s an intimacy to letters that I don’t feel when I text, tweet, or blog.
I would like to know, what’s your take on letter writing? Have any of you had pen pals? Would you like to have any? Or am I just a cranky old ahjumma (auntie) who’s taken one trip too many down Memory Lane?
This actually makes me so angry. The truth is right here and people see it and brush it aside. We really could make things better. But no, America apparently wants to suck forever.
Oh, I can hear the rationalizations: “It’s a smaller country,” “The culture is different,” “They’re a load of socialists,” blah-blah-blah. What kills me, though, is that, here in the US, teachers are expected to spend hours drilling their students for standardized tests, pay for supplies that students need from their own wages—and they have to put a positive gloss on being treated with a level of contempt, from above and below, that’s beyond appalling. To say nothing of the utter contempt in the US toward intellect. Yes, it’s shameful that American students have fallen behind in math and science. It’s more shameful that so many schools have eliminated music and art from their curricula.