Sunshine

Good morning, and welcome to a better today.

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A today where the sun may not be bright, but our faces are.

A today where joy might be scarce, but we can still scrape some up.

A today that is better than yesterday and worse than tomorrow.

I hope each and every one of you finds your little pebble of happiness in this new day, be it a smile from a stranger or a kind word from your spouse, or even a freshly baked cookie!

Of course, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom, you might be feeling like the chirpiest bunny on earth today. And if you are, savour it and cherish it.

Here are some things that made me happy today:

My brothers were happy to see me when I walked in the front door this morning.

I had some chips. I haven’t had chips properly in so long! They were warm and crispy and greasy and salt and vinegary and how I savoured them.

The baby told me a great many stories today, and she came and cuddled me unexpectedly and asked me if I was “otay?”. That was sweet and made my heart melt completely.

I drove my car again today after a week away from the little beast. How I loved it, the confidence of the pedals under my feet, the purr she makes when struggling up a hill, her sleek, gorgeous, slightly rusted and hunched way of hugging the curb when parked up. She is like a massive beetle with giant eyelashes. Not a pretty picture, I’ll give you that, but to me she is the most beautiful thing I own.

There is something so satisfying about finally being able to buy your very own, very first car!

I think the novelty will linger in my cherished memories forever.

What made you happy today?

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Shift

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As the seasons change, my life grunts a little and turns over, her eyelids fluttering. She senses a force awakening, and it is stopping her from carrying on in the same old position. Soon she will have to shift to accommodate new matters.

Today I walked into the chemist and bought something that I have never bought before. I wasn’t anxious about buying said thing, but my heart was palpitating at the thought of the nuances behind such an object.

The lady wrapped it in a paper bag and then put the paper bag into a plastic one.

“Oh, there’s no need, really,” I began, reaching for the bag, but she patted my hand and smiled at me.

“It’s absolutely no problem, darlin’. Give you more privacy that way.”

I was retching when I was in the bathroom. Not because it smelled bad or anything, but because I was frightened. I was terrified. I was completely out of my wits.

I was too scared to look.

That’s it.

My life, as I know it, is over. No more travelling, no more being chill, no more going wherever the whim takes us.

I’m scared because I think I am not ready yet. I think that there is loads more that I need to do. But sometimes in life, no matter how pre-cautious you are, the thing that you planned becomes unplanned.

I picked up the cheap plastic stick.

Two pale pink lines.

A positive.

*deep, shaky, teary breath*

On Matters of the Heart

I think Downton Abbey ‘triggered’ me yesterday when I watched the *spoiler* scene where Lord Grantham’s ulcer burst while at dinner, resulting in an explosion of blood-vomit all over the table and the shocked diners.

It would have been quite a comedic scene, if it wasn’t for its sobriety. It was quite uncharacteristic of Downton Abbey, and then when Lord Grantham lay in a puddle of blood and his wife told him she was there for him, and not to worry, I began to cry uncontrollably.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t upset about Lord Grantham, I am not so invested in the characters of Downton Abbey that their fates would bring me to tears.

That scene made me think about things which are very close to my heart. Namely that my father who is 53 (which isn’t very old, but he is an overworked gentleman and it shows) lives abroad and works very hard to support his wife and children, his mother and his widowed sister. He works at all hours, and lives alone in a lonely country.

And if anything were to happen to him, like what happened to Lord Grantham, nobody would know, and nobody would be there like Lady Grantham was for her husband. We wouldn’t be there for him and that hurts so very badly, so I spent the rest of the episode sobbing my heart out. I called my father straight away, and didn’t tell him how worried I am about him, but we spoke of cheerful things and it was lovely, but my heart hurts.

I think that enough is quite enough, and it’s time he came home to his family.

 I miss him very very much, and it’s been five years of hurried glimpses, a two week span here and there, and I just want my father back now.

The Martian

I just watched this film in 3D.

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I must say it was the greatest 3D movie I have ever watched, not that I have watched many, but my husband, who has seen plenty, agreed with me.

Classic Hollywood drama/adventure/sci-fi, this film thrilled me to bits. Matt Damon played a remarkable character, a botanist left on Mars, believed dead. He has to provide food for himself in order to survive until the next mission arrives on Mars. How will he grow food on a dead planet? How will he contact those who left him?

It was original, detailing one man’s struggle to survive on an inhibitable planet.

It didn’t reek completely  of that well-known, shameless Hollywood ‘cheesiness’ you always find in stories of man’s triumph over nature.

The force of nature and space represented in this movie was mind blowing. It was explosive and phenomenal and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching it. It was longer than two hours but it certainly didn’t feel that way to me. I was captivated.

If you enjoyed Gravity, you will definitely enjoy this film. Both stories run on more or less the same pattern, but they are also both hugely different.

The Martian was incredible. Go watch it. Now I’m off to bed because my eyeballs are burning.

Adult

My Landlady (what a majestic sounding title that is, Lady of the Land!) is coming for an ‘inspection’ today and I was sitting down, minding my own business, doing my work and waiting for her arrival (she said 2:15, it’s now 2:24..) when I noticed that my feet were cold.

Usually when I notice such a thing I tuck my feet beneath my bottom, because that is the warm and comfy thing to do. However, now that my senses are heightened to the arrival of the Lady of the Land, I thought I had better get up and put some socks on.

That is what any self respecting renter of an apartment would do, is it not?

Imagine the Lady of the land walking in to see my giant lobster feet under the cuffs of my jeans!

In doing the latter, I have realised very solemnly, very morosely, that I must be turning into what they call ‘adult’.

The Transition

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened.

I don’t know when I went from hiding between the clothes in a supermarket, or jumping over the cracks in the pavement which were really large crevices filled with gnashing crocodiles, to trawling miserably through the same shops that I used to make magical playgrounds out of.

When I went to the hillside park of my childhood the swings were old and rusty and too small, the playhouse desperately needed a lick of paint, the grass strewn with cigarette ends and bottle caps.

Where was the vibrant green hill of my childhood? Oh, it’s just a small mound with more sand than grass.

The glorious forest of trees I used to wander through, my head craned, fascinated by the canopy high high above, is just a tiny thicket, its ground peppered with unsavoury adult things that I now know the meaning of. I look down now, not up.

Walking at night was an enchanting adventure, all the shadows seemed blacker somehow, and moved when I walked. I felt so deliciously vulnerable, safe in the knowledge that my parents were with me so I was protected. Now it is all dark alleyways, and every stranger is a potential attacker, heart quickening as I hurry along, desperate to finish my business and get safely home.

Even my childhood home is different. My old reading nook is too small, it’s only an alcove that could fit a skinny child.

I don’t know when I stopped running everywhere. Running down hills because my legs would swoosh so fast and the scenery would blur, picking all the daisies, the climbing frame becoming a castle, turning strangers into evil sorcerers and playing hide and seek with them while they walked on, oblivious. Discovering secret tunnels full of prickly thorns, that were just gaps between thick holly bushes. Always, always always finding the most fun way to get to places, catching flashes of my parents as we darted through bushes and happening upon little trails through the trees. Walking past people’s front gardens and sniffing their roses, and dreaming of the colourful arrays they had nodding at passers by.

Now I hurry on by, maybe admiring the flowers a little, but never with the radiant reverence of my childhood.

The world is still the same, folks, but the colourful film of innocence has been lifted from my vision, and everything underneath is drab and grey.

When did this transition occur? For I don’t remember it. I remember vehemently saying that I would never be as boring as the adults, but here I am, walking not running, stepping not skipping.

I miss the magic so so sorely. I try to conjure it again sometimes, when I am playing with children. Try to see the lions approaching through the trees, the swings turning into swift hover boards, the daisies twirling their pretty white skirts tinged with purple like small fairies, but the images fizzle away so quickly.

Do you remember the moment you transitioned? Or is the moment elusive to you, a slow and painful death of the allurement of life.

Ravens: A Review

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Ravens was interesting enough to keep me hooked until the end, but it was harsh edged and implausible, and left me with a very bitter aftertaste.

I regret reading it. I regret picking it off the shelf at British Heart Foundation. The only good thing to come out of that was £2 towards the Heart Foundation, and perhaps another book to add to my meagre 2015 reading challenge. Except am I really proud to have this book listed as an “accomplishment”?

If you are looking for a book to better your soul, increase your intellect, add to your knowledge and make you happy this is not it. This book is grim and depicts a sordid reality which is unbelievable.

I just didn’t buy it.

I didn’t buy it when Shaw fell asleep and the Boatwrights didn’t try to save themselves. I kept thinking, but this whole plot would fall to pieces if the characters did what any real person would do! What any literary person would do, let alone real person.

I didn’t buy that every single soul in the town was dimwitted enough to fall for Shaw’s ‘charm’. People aren’t like that these days, unless they were all naive and dull. Which again, is implausible.

I didn’t that Patsy was selfish enough to surf for mansions when her children and husband had their every move watched by the cold barrel of a gun.

I didn’t buy that Mitch gave up his furious fight over a meagre chew of ‘holy’ bread. That he fell for Shaw’s charm only second after passionately despising the fellow. Sure. There must be crazy people like that in the world but this whole damn town was crazy. Unreal.

I give the book 1 star because stars signify good things and the only good thing about this book was the writing. Green managed to keep me interested, if not invested. I was genuinely interested to know what would happen, who would pull the trigger, who would make off with a Malibu mansion or a jet ski or a never ending vacation with their lunatic, batty, smitten friend and partner in crime.

The characters were distinct, although not well-rounded enough for me to be concerned about their fates. Certain characters did stick out however, perhaps because of how bizarre they were. For example Shaw and Romeo were so unlike anybody I have ever come across, both in the literary world and the real one. They were like two overgrown children, men whose brains hadn’t matured beyond the age of twelve or thirteen. The other was Burris. Now he struck a chord within me, the sad old jowly fellow. Will I remember this book with sunshine and joy, as the peaceful sunset of its cover suggests? Certainly not.

But I will say that George Dawes Green writes impeccably, brilliantly, and if there is another book by him I might be willing to try it, because surely such brilliant writing cannot be wasted on trashy people and their unrealistic issues?

Frazzled Writing

I am doing an Advanced Creative Writing module in my Open University course, and I am very apprehensive because it is a level 3 course, which, for any of you who did OU, is pretty tough. It’s like final year at University! (Which is is!) Also the majority of the people on there seem to be such good writers who are seasoned and who know plenty about it all!

They don’t procrastinate, they don’t leave their assignments to the last minute, they read all the things they are supposed to read and catch up on all the online tutorials and contribute beautifully! It has only been five days into the course and I am 200 messages behind. Oh I feel so inadequate. I have to share some of my work but there is nothing worth sharing with them so I have to work extra hard to produce something that could pass roughly as readable.

It is futile to hope that I might capture their interest or create something remotely potent. Aaaaargh!

So I am frazzled and worried and anxious about it all, and am hoping for the best. I will take it one step at a time and write write write and read everything my tutor posts for me and pore religiously over my module book.

I chose that module to learn more about writing, so learn more about writing I shall.

Until then, I bid you adieu!