Sunday, July 24, 2005

Problems in the real world

I’ve been away for a while. My alter-ego, he-who-earns-the-money, has been going through a stressful time this month. For a couple of weeks it looked as if he’d finally managed to screw up big time: no money, no job, no ability to carry on living in Switzerland and virtually no one to talk to about it. At times like that a week can feel like a year and a sleepless night can feel like a century.

On the up-side, he lost 6 kilos, got to spend more time with his wife, worked off some fear in the gym and found out who his real friends are. On the downside he was made to question exactly who he thought he was and how the hell he got himself into this mess. Actually, that’s probably still the upside. The real downside was the impact on his wife. It felt like he’d driven over a cliff and she was strapped into the passenger seat beside him, able to do nothing but watch.

In the midst of all this, the Montreux Jazz Festival was going on. Tickets were already bought and paid for, so the uncertainty was put to one side for an evening and we listened to Tori Amos and to Tom McRae. Except that you can’t put that kind of anxiety to one side, so when Tom sang “Falling feels like flying ‘till you hit the ground” I felt like I finally knew what he meant.

Things are better now: not yet resolved but at least manageable. It turned out that sometimes, if you’re lucky, you bounce when you hit the ground.

Now in all of this you might think that Mike Kimera would have been a dormant figure, set aside while other priorities ruled. But that is to misunderstand what Mike Kimera is for.

I took refuge in Mike Kimera from time to time.

There is a story coming out on ERWA in September called “Burger Queen”, about a disturbed man obsessed with a server at his local Burger King. It was sparked partly by the Clean Sheets food month and partly by an empathy with what it might be like to be so wrapped up in a delusion that your reality on slightly overlaps with those around you. I think the most chilling thing for me was a comment from one reader: “I work with sex offenders and you may or may not be pleased to know that your depiction is very accurate.” It is not entirely comfortable to have these “accurate” voices in my head, but better perhaps to have them on the page than leave them creeping around my imagination, semi-formed but persistent.

And I went through the galleys of my first ever book, “Writing Naked”, but I'll talk about hat another time.

What I wanted to share is that I’ve discovered that being Mike Kimera, if only for a few hours at time, helps me to continue to deal with the real world. A refuge is not is not an escape, it is a place to gain strength, a pause in the fray that staves off tiredness and preserves the will to continue.

So Mike Kimera will continue and so will this blog.

Thank you for listening.