Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

I need distance to change my life. In the last two weeks, I've planned my career until 2009
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It's hard to imagine that just a couple of days ago I was stretched out by the pool, basking in the LA sun with my mate, Mice. On breastwatch. Hey, were there any real ones in sight? Hell no! In fact, pretty much everything was faked to a degree. And so many big, ugly, aggressive tattoos. It's not a case of enhancement, it's actually disfigurement.

And why are women so proud of their pubic bones? God knows. But from where we were sitting, it really wasn't sexy. As they say in LA: "The all-new pubic bone. That sarong is way too low - not a good look!" Yes, thank you, my American is coming along nicely.

Los Angeles is a bizarre place. Everybody is 25, young, athletic, with a project they're working on at the moment. But it has the strange effect of making me feel beautiful. When I'm introduced to people for the first time, they really stare into my face. It's a botox-free zone, man! Highly animated. When I smile they're just lost for words. As for my tits - soft and brown. An all-natural girl.

Bodies, bodies, bodies, bodies. What is it that can so easily turn us on and so easily turn us off? What is it that makes someone sexy? For me, it's hair, the hairier the better. In fact we could go as far as to say fur. I'm sure it isn't the same for everybody. Sometimes when I go to the gym I can't help noticing other women's underwear, and I think: who are they wearing it for? Thongs. Not too flattering on a saggy bum. Ill-fitting brassieres. But it's the burgundy satin triangles that are an absolute no-no in my book. Yes, I did a lot of soul-searching in LA.

Drink and be merry

If you're starting to wonder why this column is somewhat off the wall, it's because I have the most ridiculous jet lag, which is rather alarmingly unfortunate as I was on English time the whole time I was in the US. My brain won't get into gear until at least 7 o'clock this evening. What do I do in the evenings? Drink. Drink and be merry!

I'm really happy. It's so lovely to be home. To sleep in my own bed, in a new silence created by my new Georgian double-glazing. To be woken up by Docket, saying: "Welcome home Mum." Singing and dancing with Sandra in The Golden Heart. Knocking back plates full of Scottish rock oysters in St John Bread & Wine. The ladies in the sweet shop saying: "Tracey, it's so nice to have you back."

Yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder. Everyday things that you take for granted. Usually when I go away for a long time, it can feel like a self-imposed exile. I need the distance to change my life. Everything here is so full-on, so fast, every moment I'm having to make decisions, but never being able to stretch to the long-term. In the last two weeks, in room 1022, I planned my career until 2009. It's a great feeling to be able to march ahead.

Often, when I've been away, the walls at home seem empty, when I come back, because the picture postcards in my mind are so full.

But this time it didn't happen. This time, I saw my future, and it's going to be really good. I feel I've just escaped from a myriad of shit. A ton of crap weighing me down. A deep gel of melancholia. Something spiritually fundamental was trapped. Free, free, free, free.

I guess from time to time everybody must feel like that, but unless you're a nun or a Trappist monk, you probably don't live with as many rules as I do. Once, I didn't eat pork for eight years. Then, for a friend's birthday, I gave him a choice: I'd either do some class A drugs, or eat a bacon sandwich. The bacon got the better of him. Either way, the whole event was amusing. It's good to set up rules. It's good to have discipline. I make my bed religiously every day, and we all know that I never used to. I'm almost obsessed with tidiness and cleanliness. I want a quick shot, cut to heaven.

I've said this before: clarity = harmony. With love, I'm always so afraid of it, so terribly afraid of being hurt. It's never clear. It's never easy. All those sleepless nights pining into the pillow like a love-struck teenager, too shy to make a call.

Far too stressful for a woman of my calibre. That's what's so good about being so far away. You can throw your mind into a million passionate dreams with the safety of distance.

Go with the flow

Next week I'll be in a town near you. Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I'm going to be signing copies of my book and I wonder how I'm going to do it without blushing. I wonder how I'm going to do it without my hand dropping off. I wonder if Scotland's going to be cold. I'm now wondering why I'm wondering so much, because now that I'm home, my new rule is to go with the flow. Open up a bit. Let myself go.