Sunshine and Cactus

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I think sunshine has a habit of making everything look better, and feel better, and sound better, and taste better. Here in Britain we live under a perpetual cloud. The winter sky is characteristically overcast, gloomy light turning everything into monotone. When the sun finally does manage to beam her face down at us, once the relentless clouds have given her the stage for a moment or two, the world is suddenly flushed with colours I never knew existed!

Wow, grass is THAT GREEN?! 

That tarmac is looking particularly handsome today!

My goodness, I never noticed how very pink those roses are.

Oh, glory days, this doorstep is the most gorgeous russet I have ever set my eyes on. Peonies nodding in sunlit breeze. Gleaming black railings against the stark white of a Kensington building.

Everything has a humming vibrancy when the sun comes out.

n.b The photo taken above was actually in Spain.

The Hostile Child

In the holidays, children come out to play. Big children, small children. Lots of vibrant little minds. Red haired children, black haired children. Blue eyes, green eyes, grey eyes, brown eyes. Tall, short. Fat, thin.

Mean…. and kind.

Today I walked past some kids, and I said, ‘I hate kids.’

I did hate those kids. They were loud and obnoxious. And they sniggered rude things about me as I walked past. I smiled in a way that I know was patronising.

I love kids. Small kids. Even rude, small kids. I eventually won their respect when I was a teacher. I loved to teach them, even when they did not love to learn. There was a ten year old boy who all the teachers complained about. He was honestly a handful and a half. I found him hilarious. He had a quick wit, and if I wasn’t supposed to manage a class of thirty children, I would have probably laughed at his witty comebacks. However, I kept my face stony and told him to save it for the playground. He was always in trouble in my classes, in all classes, but I made sure it was fair, and I made sure he got his work done.

On my last day at school, I was walking by with a colleague and saw that naughty kid where stood beside his mother.

‘Hey, miss!’ he called, and I turned. He ran up to me and slipped a small wrapped easter egg into my hand, ‘This is because you’re leaving.’ He looked so shy and ran back to his mother without looking at me. I was so touched. I thought, sometimes teaching is worth it.

Then I moved to this crappy town. Where I smell weed everywhere. Where the glass windows of bus stop shelters are shattered. Where children swear at you as you pass. Where they hang around smoking and talking about things children shouldn’t think about until they are much older.

And as I walked, I thought, ‘I hate kids.’

I am a supply teacher here, though. I will have to deal with kids like these, and worse. It won’t be a little witty joke in class or a disrespectful stare anymore.

And I can’t think, ‘I hate kids,’ and just walk on by. I will have to deal with these kids. And you know, it isn’t always their faults.

Today a small girl was screaming into the wind, and I saw the ecstatic joy on her face because she was probably having a moment of freedom. Her shout was cut short suddenly, harshly, when her mother whacked her around her face and said, ‘Shut your mouth you stupid cow.’

Now I am not one to judge parenting, honestly. Maybe the mum was having a bad day. But the look of complete humiliation on that little girl’s face made me feel awful for her. Honestly, though, in this town, this is not the first nor the tenth time I have seen incidents like this. A mother shoving her face right into a toddler’s face and screaming at her to ‘bloody keep up or I’ll kick you one’. Kids who are brought up in a hostile environment tend to become hostile too. They become hostile adolescents and then hostile adults.

And teachers don’t really change much, but they can do their best to teach that hostility towards others is wrong. Who knows. Maybe a kid will realise as it gets older and change its ways? Who knows.

I am not looking forward to teaching the kids in this town, after what I’ve seen these past five months. On a daily basis. However, I am gong to try. I am going to enter with a positive attitude and good intentions. I am going to go in thinking, ‘I love kids.’

Kids need love, to give love. And I was given so much love as a kid. So it’s time to give it back out into the world.

Alone

I’m alone.

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. I am just going to say them.

Humanity is so vast and complicated. There is a deep sadness underlying everything. Every kiss is tinged in sadness, every touch, every hug. People can walk around preaching happiness and laughter but underneath it all is this deep violet blanket of sadness. And when they are alone, and the world dims behind a shut door, this sad reality begins to sink in.

We are all going to die. Some of us might die horrible deaths. Some of us might kill ourselves. I was washing dishes with cold water and staring out at two little boys in the street, kicking a ball around for hours in the cloudy sunshine, and I thought, how could somebody kill themselves?

And when somebody does kill themselves, they spark a tremor in the earth. People are devastated. We have to be kind to each other, they shout, we have to connect, we have to help the lonely people.

But what about the ostracised people? The people who walk around towns wearing a headscarf and feel desolate and lonely because they don’t know anybody, and everybody stares at them with suspicion because they represent a religion so often stamped with the labels of murder and bloodshed. What about the people who look different or act different and are targeted because of it?

It is so strange. I am alone. All my family members are thousands of miles away from me and it feels so strange. I scroll through their photos on my phone and smile at their frozen smiles, my mind is with them at that time and place but my mind doesn’t exactly know where their minds are at that moment. I think technology and the internet has made us come to expect that knowledge will come to us; so we become impatient.

I went out for a walk today and I did not like my town. I did not like the hostility. The stench of alcohol and cigarettes. I look at the drab way people are dressed and the way their bottoms show because their jeans are hiked low, and the way they down can after can of beer, and I think, oh for the days of yore. The days when people dressed modestly and looked like they had dignity.

I bet they didn’t stink.

Then I stopped for a moment and really thought about it. Of course they stank. They didn’t have proper running water. They published articles about showering once a month, and some once a year if they could get away with it. Their streets were piled high with horse manure and urine and flies infested their cities. They drank plenty of alcohol and smoked far more than we do. Their women had to fight to be seen as HUMAN BEINGS in the court room, and were killed trying to demonstrate for a right to vote. A right to freaking VOTE.

They stank and it wasn’t just a physical stench.

Humanity is a thousand shades, and not just black and white. Things are not just right and wrong. There are a thousand clauses in between and reasons and rules and methods and situations and circumstances.

And we just have to plough on through it all and try to keep our heads above water.

Well. I am alone. And I don’t think humans were created to be alone. Adam had a wife called Eve. They had children. Even Adam couldn’t be alone.

I also think one shouldn’t be alone with their thoughts too often. That is dangerous. People need other people.

 

The Blues

Today I had a BAD day.

There is no other way to put it. No, my goldfish did not pass away. In fact, I don’t have a gold fish, and I never would, because it reminds me of an unsavoury being with bony feet.

Nothing bad happened.

My sister climbed on to a roof in a hot country in the Arabian peninsula. The wind whipped at her hair whilst her cousins, who are half Vietnamese, laughed at her with red cheeks and bright eyes. I expect they had some soy wings garnishes with spring onions after that, whilst one of my cousins made some freshly brewed coffee.

My mother in law called me and we had a lovely chat, and my eyes prickled with tears whilst I laughed down the phone with her because she put that effort in to talk to me, and I don’t think anybody has done that for me recently. Not even my own mother. I think my mother thinks I mother her too much, like a reincarnation of her mother. I said, ‘Look, mother, I have to take care of you.’

She doesn’t like that at all. I just can’t help it. I love her too much.

When I went to the bathroom to freshen up my face looked alarming. You see, I have olive skin. So when I am pale, it is a brownish, purply sort of pale. My skin becomes slightly green, and the deep circles beneath my eyes are a strange purply brown hue. My lips had no colour, so they were a little purple too. I just looked terrible. I looked like the photograph I once saw of a woman in the last stages of death. How morbid does that sound?

Wow,‘ I called to my husband, ‘I look like I’m dead!

Yup.’ came his response. Pregnant with sarcasm and dripping with disdain and oozing with disappointment. He wanted me to wear my red dress today. But I wasn’t feeling it. He likes that dress a lot for some reason, but sometimes I just don’t want to wear a clingy dress with slits down the side to just … hang around the house.

And it was Saturday, we’d booked tickets to Bletchley Park, the manor house where Alan Turing created his renowned code machine. We thought it was in Manchester (only 40 mins away) and realised after we’d booked, with disappointed jolts that it was all the way in Milton Keynes, two and a half hour’s drive away.

We set the alarm for 8am to leave early, but ended up waking up at 10:30am – meaning we’d have next to no time to really explore and make the most of our visit when we arrived (you need five hours in a place like that, really), so we called up and discovered that the tickets allow us to go back anytime up to a year after purchase, as many times as we please. So, we had some cereal and … did… nothing.

I was upset. I wanted to go outside for a walk at least. I KNOW, I could have gone by myself but that’s hellish lonely. And I always go by myself. D didn’t want to go. He hates walking. He says I am such an old soul but frankly, HE is the old soul. What kind of person hates walking in the spring sunshine?! He only wants to do something if it is hugely entertaining. He has imagination, but not enough to take joy from walking around the block and noticing other people and their front gardens and the way the setting sun sprouts colour in places to light them up and bring some rosy cheeked joy into the world.

Also I felt that he could have sucked it up and gone for a measly half hour with me. He would have enjoyed it, I always make him enjoy it. I washed the dishes angrily and thought dark thoughts about him while he played VIDEO GAMES upstairs.

First world problems? Of course. Oh dear.

I am drinking some coffee, now, and getting on with some work. Tomorrow D promised he would go for a walk with me and we would have brunch in a cafe and then maybe take a drive someplace pretty. I am on the hunt for a poppy field. I know there is one nearby. I just feel it in my bones, and I also had a dream about it. I must find it, it is driving me crazy. My eyes are yearning for it and so is my soul, a little bit.

D thinks poppy fields are boring. I think he would appreciate them more if they existed inside a video game or if he experienced them using the Oculus Rift. Kids these days *rolls eyes* – only entertained with technology. They will never understand the true joys of an undigitalised world, will they?

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23

I can now legally say that I am a 23 year old woman. Woman. Goodness. I used to hate that word when I was younger. It seemed crass and weak to me. I preferred ‘lady’. I love being a ‘woman’ now.

I don’t know what changed. I think as I have grown I have begun to associate the word ‘woman’ with all the strong and incredible women in my life. My eyes have been opened.

I think my mind was 23 way before my body was. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel excited about ageing, as I used to. I just feel like a person who is an adult and has some responsibilities and aspirations. I also feel worried and sad because I miss my parents tremendously, and being an adult means I have to be away from them a lot. I just miss them. Thinking about them makes me want to cry.

Is this normal behaviour for a 23 year old lady?

I don’t want to list 23 things I’ve learned from my 23 years on Earth. Honestly, it feels pretentious. I feel as though I can learn so much more, and change so much more, and that actually I am a little green when it comes to knowledge and life experiences. I also don’t know what to think of life itself.

I have a lot of hope, but I know that if I didn’t have faith, I would be one of those hopeless people. I keep thinking that my time here is limited, that I am worrying about what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

I feel like it’s my fortieth birthday. When I pass young people I view them as ‘young’, then I remember I am too, but I feel so removed from them. I just don’t feel it.

I feel it when my legs want to run in the sunshine, and my energy spills out of my mouth in excited babble. I feel it in my bones when I move. But my mind feels weary. The world doesn’t feel real to me, somehow, like it is my road to…somewhere. I do believe it is, and I feel like a stranger. Like I have travelled for years and years and my time is nearly up. The truth is however, I have not travelled. Not really. Sure, I’ve been to Spain and Paris and Morocco and Italy – but in between those travels I have been lazy and unproductive and have done nothing at all. Not a single thing, save for university assignments. And maybe teach a little at school. But in three years …. nothing. What have I learned?

I honestly feel sickened with myself. I should have been experiencing the world but I didn’t.

So why on earth do I feel so old? Feeling old signifies having a tonne of experience and living a full life. My grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say towards the very end of her life, ‘I’m done now. I’ve raised my kids, I’ve lived to see my grandkids grow up, I’ve got nothing else to offer.’ Granted, she said it whilst in constant pain and hurt, but she had lived a complete, whole life. Not a very happy one, but she spent her days always doing things. She touched so many hearts and lives, people still come up to me and tell me how good my grandmother’s soul was. For all her unhappiness, she spread so much good in her world.

I spend my days saying I will do things but never doing them. I feel like I wasted my twenties. I feel old and not in a good way; in the way that I have nothing to show for my years on earth.

But you see, I am hopeful. So every single night before I go to sleep I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day to make amends with my soul. To step out of the house. To exercise and explore and learn and work and be. To make it so I DO have something to show for my time on earth. I try so very hard. And I shall keep trying until my time on earth is up – because the hopeful thing is… my time didn’t finish yet. So while I am still here, I will never stop trying.

Cheers! 🙂

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Endings

Every happy ending is just a new beginning.

Things don’t just end. Even with death, things don’t end. The world started a horrendously long time ago, and its heart does not stop beating for anybody. People have come and gone, and a small percentage of those people have made their global marks. The rest have sparked tremors in their localities, small throbbing circles of red encompassing the hearts and homes they have touched, not quite big enough or important enough or broadcast enough to spread any further.

People get married – the sweet ending to a romantic, if somewhat tumultuous in some cases, courtship. People graduate; an exhilarating ending to what appeared at the time to be years of tedious struggle. People buy houses, the satisfying ending to years of scrimping and hours of anxious waiting and searching and tapping uncomfortable heels on the stained carpets of pristine banks.

These endings are just beginnings, though. The beginning of a marriage; what happens next? Does the husband turn into a dragon? Does the wife file for divorce? How many kids do they have? What do these kids end up doing?

The beginning of true adulthood after graduation; do they get a job? Do they travel anywhere? What exactly did this pathway lead them to? Do they regret not studying harder?

The beginning of a new house. Is it haunted? Is the boiler broken? Do they renovate? What if they don’t end up together, do they cut the house in half and carry the other on a mobile home, the rooms gaping into the wind and slowly growing into the elements?

Life is like a multitude of circles. Venn diagrams connecting people and places and memories and things and dreams. These circles are contained within bigger circles of lives and generations and ancestors and descendants. People merge together then drift apart, lots of smaller circles spiralling away from their union. People die, but their circles are continued by those who knew them until they, too, die. But oops, others knew those dead people and so on and so forth.

There is so such thing as an ending, I think. It is more like, goodness, I have closed this chapter now because I really cannot go on reading this story. I have learned all I care to learn from it. So, they get married. Good for them. Now I shall have some jam on toast and figure out why this equation makes 12 when I could only ever make 8.

And I would complete the equation – happy ending! Only it is the beginning to new equations and new horizons and more mathematical problems.

This is where I choose to end this train of thought.

Perhaps you would like to start a new beginning by sharing yours?

Millennials are Obsessed with Themselves.

There is something wrong with millennials.

I think a lot of them have their heads stuck up somewhere very unpleasant.

I think a lot of them are very self centred. There is a rampant culture going around, and while it might be positive for a lot of people, it can have its negativities.

I call this the culture of selfies. I am noticing it more and more everyday. Young people holding their phones up and turning their faces this way and that to get the best angle for a photograph of themselves.

Imagine for a moment that we didn’t have mobile phones or cameras – the equivalent to that would be to carry a small mirror in one’s pockets and habitually check one’s reflection during the day, pausing when one thinks one looks their best to ask a passing painter to draw their likeness in that moment. Sheer vanity, is what it is.

A lot of people would say how harmless it all is. Which, to an extent, is true. However this ‘selfie culture’ transcends mere picture taking. It has an ominous depth which is slowly poisoning society and turning children into narcissistic beings.

People are starting to have the attitude of ‘me me me me’. This is usually a normal human phenomenon; when teenagers reach a certain age they do tend to think the world revolves around them. However, in the normal state of affairs, they are soon knocked into reality when nobody panders to their selfish whims and they learn to get a hold of their emotions. What is ominous in this generation, is the fact that teenagers have an audience to project this narcissism. You can be anybody online. They get their support from other like minded people across the globe, and turn into bigger assholes than they already were.

Take my younger sister for example. She lives in a lovely home, and our parents take exceptional interest in her hopes and aspirations. She has real life friends, but for a certain period in her life (ages 16-19) she made lots of internet friends too. Other kids, her age, in Europe and America. I watched as her attitude slowly began to change. She was generally nice to get along with, but could sometimes be difficult and stubborn. When she made internet friends her attitude towards my parents started becoming hostile. She began to bring up problems that did not exist, and she started swearing at them.

Phrases like, ‘You don’t care about me’ and ‘You trap me here in this home’ and ‘You were never good parents and look how I’ve become’ started peppering daily shouting matches. These phrases were echoes of conversations she had with her ‘internet friends’ and related to me previously and some of which I was privy to myself. Other young people banding together to turn a simple complaint about a parent into a dangerous rant about how abusive all parents are and how they absolutely do not understand this generation. Some kids might actually have been abused – but my sister, who had always had the utmost respect for my parents, was treating them like dirt.

It reached a point where she told my father he was abusive before swearing at him and shouting that she wished he wasn’t her father. I tried to speak to her but she hissed scathingly at me, telling me that I was a hypocrite and just on their side. Later on, my father went to her room where she sat sulking. She stood up, and there were tears in her eyes, and she hugged my father and whispered that she was sorry.

I thought my father must have been heartbroken to be called abusive by his youngest daughter. They had always been so close, my sister and my father. She would hang on to him the minute he returned from work, and fall asleep beside him as a child. I knew she regretted what she said the moment it came out of her mouth, but the fact that she said it, and thought she had the right to speak that way to a parent who has only ever worked his back off for us and sacrificed happiness and a full life to make sure we were comfortable – was so unlike her.

This attitude that everything is about ‘me, myself and I’ also gives way to the extreme personalisation of one’s thought process. Countless videos are being uploaded daily where young people analyse themselves extensively, talking about themselves for hours and hours, looking at themselves talk to themselves and reacting to videos of themselves. They analyse every aspect of their being and make it public so the world can see them do that. To a degree, that is narcissistic. This self importance and indulgence in one’s self is normal behaviour, in the privacy of one’s diary or among friends – even turned into an art form or projected onto literary characters. But to be given a platform where one can spend hours everyday talking about themselves can be damaging.

A lot of parents say things like, ‘in my day we met real people’ or ‘we spent our childhood outdoors’ or ‘we could have a real conversation without checking our cell phones’ – perhaps they say this because our culture has become one in which people are so closed into themselves now. There is not much of a community, in lots of areas. People spend time together, scrolling through their phones and talking to people miles away, or liking instagram photos of the person sitting right next to them.

I was with a girl last week, for example, and she kept taking her phone out and arranging her hair and face before posing before her front facing camera. She tried so many positions, during our conversation, and honestly if I didn’t know what she was doing I would have thought she was deranged. When she couldn’t find one that suited her, her mood changed and became dark. She tutted and sighed and commented on how ugly she looked. I felt so sad for her. I told her to just enjoy the day and forget about how she looked, for once! I tried to make her laugh and distract her, we visited a park and went crazy on the swings, and she eventually cheered up again.

Looking down at your phone might feel like looking through a window into the whole world. A world which likes your photos and elevates your self worth based on superficiality. The internet it so vast and filled with a clamour of global noises. But what if it has reached a point where we are so obsessed with our phones that we miss the very real world spinning right before our eyes? We miss very real people passing right in front of our noses? What if we spoke to the person sitting next to us on the train, rather than that girl on twitter who lives sixteen thousand miles away?

The internet has a myriad of positivities, however it does provide a platform for people to air their woes. Sometimes this could be dangerous, especially for young people. A lot of them stop thinking they are responsible for their actions, and envision that they are on a pedestal. When they are contested about this from the people they care about, they demonise those people in their little band of self righteousness on the internet – and are backed by their peers, who are equally as young and ignorant as they are.

I am certainly not saying that the generation in its entirety is like this, but give any woeful teen a platform and see what kind of a mess they make.

The internet had certainly provided a safe haven for those truly in need, to connect with others who have actually been abused or treated badly, to feel less alone in a situation where they might have been ostracised and bullied. And it is also true that vanity and vapidity were prevalent long before the internet spread its electronic tentacles into our homes.

However I still assert that despite all the good the internet has brought this society, it does not come without its negatives, and these might just be damaging to youth.

On the production of books.

Here are some things I am doing recently;

 

  1. I am finishing my last module towards my English Language and Literature degree. It is called ‘Creativity in Language’, and examines the different approaches in the analysis of creativity in language, and also in other modes of storytelling and performance. It raises interesting questions about the originality of creativity, and whether or not creativity is fundamentally political – whether that be intentional or unintentional.
  2. I am also writing a book about a girl who stops growing. I am trying to make it a masterpiece, but it is hard to make a masterpiece when your brain feels like an empty room. I am noticing that I waste a lot of time not gaining knowledge, and I mean to change this by consuming more books and exploring different parts of the world. I have acquired a cover designer for my book, someone who is also willing to do some small illustrations for me. This is spurring me on to finish by my deadline in October.
  3. I have signed up to a website called AgentHunter. This website is one where you can find a suitable agent in order to get your book published. I am aiming to submit my manuscript to several agents by October 15th. I will be writing a review about this website in the next few months – just in case anybody is interesting in hunting for a suitable agent online.

That is all, really.

What have you been up to, recently?

 

Addicted to Daydreaming

I think there is some kind of disorder where a person lives a soap opera of sorts in their imagination.

I had it when I was younger. I dreamed up these characters; they were very real and have names that still sound so familiar in the back of my mind. For six years I would live their lives out in my mind. I created thousands of stories about them, I dreamt about them before I fell asleep, when I was bored after an exam, when I came home from school, in the car driving to and from places. All I had to do was close my eyes and I was transported instantly to them in their special world. Their pains became mine and their passions were my own.

It was my secret, nobody else knew. I became so adept at it that I could even imagine them with my eyes open.

It was incredible. I didn’t need to watch movies or TV serials anymore. I had my own, and it was more precious than any story I’d ever read.

Oh, I still know the details of their lives from the moment they were born until their became old enough that their children were adults. I knew their characters inside out, and I still do, years later, when I have ceased to think about them so much.

I will remember them in passing now, a fond smile and an invisible sigh.

I find I want to write their story down, and bring them to life with my words. But I am afraid I can’t ever do them the magnificent justice my brain could.

Recently I stumbled upon an article describing the very symptoms I displayed – making up a story in one’s head so consuming that it almost took over daily life – which in my case was true because I would close my eyes anywhere just to think about them. Even when I had things to do, I preferred to think of them. I found an online forum describing people who do this as ‘addictive daydreamers’. I found that it was odd, to spend hours and hours of the day just – daydreaming. Doing it at the time felt wrong, in a way. I felt as though if I told anybody, they would think me a lunatic.

I found out that it was called ‘maladaptive daydreaming’ – and the part of the brain that lights up when an alcoholic sees alcohol, lit up in test subjects when they thought about their ‘daydream’. Some people genuinely suffer from this and it affects their lives in an extremely negative way. They usually develop this condition if they have been victims of abuse, imagining a life and characters far removed from their pain. The condition is sometimes extremely debilitating for them.

Thankfully, in my case, it was just a result of boredom. I still managed to study hard and do well, and as I grew, by the age of seventeen, the habit had lessened considerably and soon vanished completely.

I know that I got comfort from this daydreaming addiction. I know that I felt fulfilled at times when I was lonely, that I never truly felt alone because I always had my vibrant characters to think about, and follow through their vivid lives. I know that I would seek to daydream at any chance opportunity, and went to bed hours early so I could close my eyes and just think, curled in a ball. It sounds so weird, looking back at it.

Have you ever experienced this? What are your thoughts?

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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