Flowers from the Storm

I hate love stories. I hate stories written purposely because there will be a romance in the end, and all we get are a string of sex scenes punctuated by poor dialogue and a laughable plot. I don’t mind a bit of romance sprinkled into a plot otherwise meant to be something different. I don’t mind a coming of age novel with a blossoming romance between its pages.

But let me make it so very clear thatI hate erotic novels with a passion. They are sleazy and make me roll my eyes. Sex scenes are just porn, really, cheap and designed to enthral.

However, this book was not an ‘erotic novel’. I was duped into this ‘historical romance’. I was offered the title on a Kindle buying spree. Flowers from the StormLaura Kinsale.

It was £1.99 and the ratings were high, so I thought, who cares for a blurb and bought it anyway. I started reading the first page on Saturday night.

Oh, some arrogant rich man is having sex with another man’s wife. Classy.

Then the man began to have a pounding headache. You know an author does not insert a pounding headache, one that makes one incapable of performing basic needs, for no reason. I was intrigued, but also tired, so I put the kindle away and closed my eyes to sleep.

I didn’t touch it again until Sunday night, when it ensnared me in a vortex of mathematical equations, and a headache that morphed suddenly into lunacy. What. 

I desperately wanted to stay awake that night reading but the husband was getting irritated with the light of my kindle and I was tired.

I lay like a foetus all Monday, folks. I read eight hours straight, I only stopped once because a woman called me about a job interview and another called about a gym membership. I did not eat and did not drink. I was lost in this world.

This world of mathematicians and Quakers and dukes and it sounds so silly and frivolous but there was something so tangible and real about it. I was ensnared, I tell you, bewitched by someone’s hand. Drawn by characters on a page into a world I did not want to leave, and was not ready to leave at 1:10am last night when I turned the last digital page and felt an ache of loss in my heart.

I didn’t expect to love this romance the way I did. So I thought about it. I desperately wanted these two characters to be together by the halfway point. I was on tenterhooks throughout the book, and upon glancing down at see how much I’d read, realised that even at 19% my heart was beating furiously. At 30% I felt nauseous with anticipation. At 50% I felt dread and my nerves were clanging.

Not halfway through the book and already we were being taken on a roller coaster of small literary climaxes. Of fiends and cold baths to cure ailments of the mind and human apes. A field day of all emotions readily available to man, inspired by the actions of people who do not even exist.

The story was compelling. The premise rich and intriguing. The plot vibrant, never ending.

A rogue duke with a pounding headache pronounced a lunatic and put in an asylum. His mother thinks it is a punishment from God for his waywardness. He had some sort of stroke which rendered him incapable of communication, but to medical practitioners, who didn’t know this, he appeared a lunatic. I felt I was being exposed to the depths and layers of nineteenth century thought and medicine, of notions of ‘propriety’, of religion, and this made the story so plausible. Nothing like the crudely assembled plots of other romances I have tried and hated. I was reading about the treatment of ‘lunatics’ – in this case a man with temporal loss of some cognitive part of his brain due to an accident, but also the ‘lunatics’ around him – the stigma with which mental illnesses were viewed, the class system; I was reading about all this and more, and not just a historical love story.

The characters did not fall in love upon their first meeting. There was too much between them, and too many differences in who they were and where they came from for this to be even a passing thought in their heads. After the ‘accident’, and the lunatic asylum, there was a beautiful, gradual build up. Slow, progressing character development, mind development, and after the halfway point, a strong sense of duty deteriorating and blossoming into something richer, stronger, more passionate. There was rich pain, all the characters’ misgivings, their drawbacks, their fears and their hopes painted so richly. Their pain was my pain, literally, I loved it!

That is why it satisfied beyond belief. It was satisfying as ‘romantic literature’ – something I previously despised. However I genuinely feel as though something is now missing from my life. And I know this feeling very well. I had it first at the tender age of nine after reading a book so rich my entire existence paled in comparison. Of course my existence hasn’t paled, but doing daily things now feels irritating. I feel like I need to go back into that world, and I can’t, and I want to be severely upset, but I can’t because the book had a happy ending. See? Why do I react this way if the book ends on a good note? Why do I feel so incredibly dissatisfied, even though I honestly loved reading it? My gut feels wrenched, folks. Perhaps this book awoke in me something I didn’t know I wanted? I want –  I don’t know what I want – and it’s all this book’s fault.

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Blog Share

So, I noticed that some other bloggers do this, notably Diana from Myths of the Mirror. I thought it was a wonderful way to share some of my favourite posts by bloggers – to share the lovely work of other people.

SO, without further ado, this week’s share is a beautiful little piece written by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Scraps of Her. A lovely poem about the trail of glitter children leave in our lives.

Scraps of Her

 

She was the glitter
in our all-too-literal lives.
She left a trail of it,
our littlest fairy.
It was the dust of her,
like that perfume half
school glue and half strawberries…..

Continue reading: Scraps of Her.

Cat in my Lap

As I write this, there is a cat in my arms.

I have never had a cat in my arms. She feels soft, warm. I can feel her breath on my wrist. She feels – alive. 

Wow. She came slinking over the back of the sofa as I sat here in the dark, perusing blogs. And she pawed my arm, then slowly, gracefully, sat herself in the crook between my two elbows, right in my lap. I can still type because I have free reign of my wrists and hands, but my goodness. She just took comfort in my being.

I don’t like animals very much. I don’t ever want a pet. But this animal just came, and consciously sat in my lap in the dark as I type away. I just felt so honoured. I feel so honoured.

Also, she is BREATHING. Like a real human I can HEAR her breathing. Breathing. Usually she is just a cat. But now she is a cat. Do you know what I mean?

Anyway. That was my thought for the day. A cat crept into my lap and curled up comfortably and I feel fuzzy inside. My iron heart must be melting.

Her name is Tillie.

I think I am falling in love with her.

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A Furious Tempest

This morning, I became acquainted with Doris.

What a tempest of a woman she is. I was minding my own business, stripping my bed to wash the bedclothes, when a loud crash made me stop in my tracks. I was home alone, see, so who could it be?

Peering out the window, in the cloudy gloom that told me the sun was rising, I saw empty bottles whizzing across the road, and the trees were bent Northwards. Then I heard her wailing scream, as she furiously knocked over some wheelie bins and spun them relentlessly in the road. She spat furiously and her spittle was swept up by the wind, creating waves along the glistening pavements that whipped the drops with every gust of her angry tempest.

My, I thought, going back to my task, what a passionate storm she is.

Not a few moments after I thought that, I heard another crash. This time louder, and more ominous. I heard it in the very foundations of my house. I rushed downstairs. Everything was still, in the kitchen. So I ventured cautiously to the living room, where, though the french windows, I saw the fence that divided the neighbour’s garden from mine flattened against the grass, leaving their lawn naked. Too naked, I thought, where is their massive trampoline that took up all the space in their yard?

Huh? I ran upstairs again and through my window, saw what Doris; mad, passionate Doris, had done. She had pummelled the trampoline into our fence, until it staggered and fell over into my garden. Then she had lifted the metal frame and hurled it right over my garden wall and into the road beyond!

I don’t know what irked her, folks. But I wouldn’t like to be the object of her wrath.

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The flattened fence.

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The trampoline flew over the garden, into the road, then was whipped into the wedge between my back garden the the house opposite.

 

It’s Way too Early for Easter Eggs.

We split half an easter egg. Would you be surprised to learn that I had my first ever Easter egg today? At 22 years old?

Also, do you ever forget how old you are? I keep thinking I am 23 years old but I am not, I am 22. Today the Marie Curie cancer research representative asked my age, and I actually had to stop and think about it. Oh no, I thought, am I 23? Or 22? I was born in 1994 so – I had to count on my fingers?! The representative sure did get a kick out of that. He told me I look really young for my age. I get that a lot. I have a baby face, unfortunately. 

Also, don’t be incredulous that the Easter eggs are out in the shops already. I tell you, once they got rid of the last of the Christmas stock, the Easter goodies came pouring in. As if we wouldn’t notice the blatant consumerism. The mini eggs appeared first. Innocently hanging next to egg timers – as if those two were related! But mini eggs are delicious, so I won’t say no to those. But the END OF JANUARY!? When they know VERY well that Easter is at the end of March. And then two weeks ago they started clearing the ‘Seasonal’ shelves – rows upon rows of empty shelves which – suddenly –  overnight, were stocked FULL of Easter eggs! Cadbury, Maltesers, Snickers, After Eights, Lindt, Mars, Kinder, Barbie, Bob the Builder (HOW DOES BOB THE BUILDER HAVE A FREAKING EASTER EGG?!), Galaxy, Smarties, you name it!

We split a Cadbury Mini Egg Easter egg. It was sickening and chocolatey. I don’t know what all the hype about Easter eggs is, after all. I’d rather just have a few mini eggs to satiate my chocolate cravings.

Also I can’t believe that I have never had an Easter egg before. I guess my family just aren’t Easter egg-y people.

Do you like Easter eggs?

Destiny.

Hello, world.

I just want to put this quietly out there. This video is one that resonates with me on an extremely personal level. Almost word for word.

I know a lot of people have gone through this sort of experience. But it is good to share the feelings.

A few years ago, Something Big happened to me. It changed who I am fundamentally, and left me a lot more vulnerable and scarred. Ultimately I did learn a tremendous deal from that experience, but it has changed me on such a deep emotional level that I am noticing the change every day in my life, every single day. Everyday I am reminded that I am stunted because of what happened, bile and nausea have become a part of my existence.

I have moved on. I am happier, of course. But I know, deep down, that I will never have the joyful abandon I had before The Thing.

I was a different person before it. And I am sad because I don’t like who I’ve become because of it, because I know that the child I was then would not have grown into the adult I am now. And that, to me, is pretty hard to think about.

This video is very short. But it is very well articulated. And if you have ever experienced something like this, well, know that you aren’t alone.

The Yawning of Spring.

Spring stepped delicately into the world today, folks.

Wanna know how I know? The birds are chirping songs that sound mysteriously like summer songs, and the wind is breezy, not biting. The sun popped in a few times to say hello, she is now snuggled behind some grey clouds but the atmosphere she has left behind is promising.

I am wearing a light t-shirt and all the windows in my house are open! I was also taken by a sudden urge to air the house out and do some thorough cleaning – that is a sign of waking from hibernation if any. I truly understand the term ‘spring cleaning’ now. In winter, one wants to bundle up and only cleans after weeks of dust settling, groaning because the water is too cold and getting wet means icy extremities.

In spring, however, one WANTS to clean.

Also, the last sign that spring has fluffed her frills today, is the tinkly, glorious sound of the ice cream van. A jolly summery jingle, flooding the streets and bringing back memories of sunshine and leaves. Oh, LEAVES. I haven’t seen leaves since October!

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Isn’t spring so beautiful?

Poppy

Resilient.

That is what I would call her. She flounders, sometimes, in the shallows of life. Her heart may seem weak, but I secretly know she is just sensitive. She thinks too deeply about things.

He says she is drowning in ‘her vortex’.

Why, she asks, do they write about sad things, and try to make jokes out of them?

I think about what she means. She means those dark comedy sitcoms. You know, where the family are poor and there are lots of rude sex jokes, and dirty people saying filthy things, and jokes about mental instability and emotional unavailability.

Those are dark things. She says, Things you should keep hidden away. Things you mustn’t make light of.

Why?

Because the world needs to see happiness and hope. Not misery accompanied by obnoxious music. If I am unhappy, why would I want to laugh at other people’s unhappiness?

It’s just a TV show.

People drink too much alcohol and are seen as ‘party types’, adventurous and daring. People have ‘daddy issues’ and are blunt and rude about other people. People joking about the pills they pop to hide their deepest pains. People unconscious because of intoxication. When did this become a norm in society? What happened to living and laughing and talking genuinely about real things?

It’s just.. a TV show, Poppy.

She dances quietly in the rain, sometimes. Her movements, although rhythm-less, have a certain cadence. The way her arms move around her head, the way her bare feet touch the wet grass, gently kissing the sodden blades before moving on to another spot. The way her throat supports her face, craned towards the pregnant, grey heavens.

I think, sometimes, that you have to let life into your skin.

I don’t know what that means, Poppy.

When she works, she is vigilant. She is furious. When she sleeps, she is restless. Her eyes are always wandering.

Once she saw an old lady outside with no stockings. She rushed indoors and brought her a cape. The old woman, pushing her trolley before her, shook her away irritably.

What do you think I am, senile?!

Poppy stared as she hobbled away down the road. I couldn’t read the expression on her face.

She was vibrant, alive. But there was always a heavy sadness clinging to her. In her eyes, sometimes, when she thought I wasn’t looking.

I feel lonely, Sebastian.

I’m here, Poppy.

I .. know.

Your life, always, over mine, Poppy.

 

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Stop Motion Malteser Cookies

Maltesers are delicious any time, right? But what about if they were stop motion baked malteser cookies?

Here is a small video I made demonstrating the baking process. Check it out if you are interested! It is my first ever video, and the beginning, I hope, of my dabble with the visual arts. If I can tell stories via words, then why not also via images?

 

Let me know what you think!

Love Letters #33

 

She was standing in the middle of the road, when I first set eyes on her. A light, silken shirt was all that draped her small shoulders in the icy January air. The road was wet with perspiration, and the branches bare. Her face was pale, her eyes bright, and her hair a cloud of golden silky curls, bouncing as she danced this way and that, her feet turning in all directions and her arms moving side to side, up and down.

I noticed her first because she was dancing, but dancing is the usual sight in this vibrant city of ours. I did my double take because of her smile. When she smiled, her eyebrows rose, and she looked almost… surprised. And her chin grew pointy, and the tops of her cheeks pointed outwards too.

If you really stood back and thought about it, she did have quite a sharp little face. But it was so dear and sweet and her eyes sparkled with life and crinkled with joy.

Man, he thought, she really does love to dance. Somebody was standing in front of her, another friend I think, and the other friend was laughing away but in an awkward way, certainly not joining in.

Cars drove right past her, on both sides. Motorbikes weaved their way around her and people glanced at her then glanced away. Did she make them uncomfortable? He really didn’t see how they could do that. She made him so happy. He stood from his safe distance on the pavement, as the sky drizzled gently around him and slowly soaked him through. And he watched her dance away and laugh.

Presently she noticed him watching her. She kept glancing at him, and then she directed her smile at him, giving him his own little dance show. She was waving him over. Her mouth was miming,

Come join me!

He shook his head, smiling widely. She laughed, and he heard the tinkling giggle over the traffic.

Come on!

He didn’t want to. He knew his arms would be too thick and his body wouldn’t listen to him. He was content to just watch her rhythm, the way life seemed to happen around her, draw her in its flowing current. He was one of those who stood on the fringe of things, while life swept her up in its energetic arms and took her whichever way it chose to run.

Please!

A heart shape with her ever moving fingers, and then, as quickly as she had moulded her hands, she was twirling in another direction.

His feet moved against his will, then. Weaving through the traffic, until he was on the same island she stood on, the white painted thick divide in the traffic, separating one directional flow from the other. The no man’s land of the high street.

She laughed, waved at her friend, and took his arms, moving them this way and that, until he, too, felt part of the current of life. He felt it first in his fingertips, a tingling that spread through his body all the way down to his toes, a small spitfire of energy, moving his limbs without direction from his brain. He closed his eyes, feeling the cold, gentle spray on his face, and let the rhythm of the world take him.

***

And that, is how I met my wife.