We're delighted to present an extract from Why Can't Everything Just Stay The Same? - the new collection of essays from Can't Cope Won't Cope creator Stefanie Preissner.
As a child, being in new places made Stefanie Preissner ill - hence, her family holidayed in the same apartment on the same island off the Spanish coast for nine years in a row. At Christmas she wrote lengthy letters to Santa (note: letters, plural) begging him not to bring any surprises. She hated change. Of all descriptions. But change happens, no matter what we do. Why Can't Everything Just Stay the Same? is about the many ways in which Stefanie has changed, despite her best and sustained efforts to stay the same.
BUT WHY DOES IT RHYME?
When I was a kid, I used to get scared,
like if I had an exam and had nothing prepared
or even small things like being alone in the dark
or the fear when I swam of being eaten by sharks.
Since I can remember, I’ve had this fear,
but one day I managed to make it disappear.
During this panic, my heart would start racing,
pounding in my chest, so I started by placing
my little shaky hand over my heart,
I could feel each beat, milliseconds apart.
But then I started to hear the beat,
the rhythm my heart made, the way it would repeat.
And following the rhythm made me calm down,
it was constant and steady and never broke down.
And so when I panicked, in those moments of fear,
the rhythm of my heart, however severe,
would reassure me that I was OK,
I’d listen to the rhythm and the fear went away.
And so I found music with heavy bass lines,
things with a rhythm made the malignant benign.
So since I was a kid, when things got tough,
I’d go back to the rhythm, poems, music and stuff.
It keeps me away from what I’m thinking,
when my armbands burst, rhythm stops me from sinking.
’Cause it keeps going even when you can’t.
It doesn’t let you stop, keeps you on a rant.
But sometimes it’s harder than others to rhyme
because the words you need don’t fit with the time. Signature.
And then I work harder to make it all fit
because if it starts to unravel, the fan fills with shit.
So all of my life when I feel like I’m losing,
or things slip out of control, get scary and confusing,
I go back to the rhyme to keep it together,
so I’m in control, whatever the weather.
And sometimes the rhyme is far-fetched or weak
but as long as it rhymes it’s not hard to speak.
It keeps me away from the words in my head,
the ones that don’t rhyme, that fill me with dread.
And sometimes it’s harder than others to rhyme,
I don’t have the words, the strength or the time.
It’s like nothing rhymes with the feelings I feel,
I can’t distance myself ’cause it’s all just too real.
And when the rhyme stops or I can’t make it fit,
my heart beats out of time and it’s all just a bit
too much to handle – and now I have to use the word candle.
Because then I can breathe and it’s not so chaotic,
something, something, something antibiotic.
Why Can't Everything Just Stay The Same? (published by Hachette) is out now.