Stars

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my second post.

There were three stars, in a straight line. And they followed her wherever she went. Up North, down South. In the Eastern hemisphere, where the world was tropical and the heat and humidity battered her body until she oozed from every orifice. In the Western hemisphere where the days were icy and short and then terribly, terribly long. Every night, three stars in a row.

If she looked up at the sky her eyes searched and searched for three in a row, just like that.

She didn’t know what they were called, or if they were part of some larger constellation. Scrap that, who cares for the constellations.

As long as there were three stars just like that. Just that, as long as there were those stars. She didn’t know what came after that. Just that she had to see them.

When she learned about space it was always with awe. A deep expanse of blackness and nothing and airless floating, containing worlds of light and gas. Black holes bending time and space, folds of dimensions expanding and contracting. Complex and unnerving, terrifying and beautiful.

But when she looked up, all she could see were the stars. Her three stars, amid a myriad of others. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on where she was.

Dependable. From her safe haven on earth.

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Power

As a relatively powerless person in the grand scheme of things, I have had very little experience with the phenomenon of power.

Not many people have access to it, mostly due to a lack of desire on their part to be anything in particular. Which is a good thing, maybe.

Also, there is that saying, with power comes responsibility.

I omitted the ‘great’, because ‘great’ power only applies to a minuscule fraction of humanity. Not everyone is born to be an oligarchical king. And country leaders oftentimes don’t hold full power (like Donald Trump, thank God), unless they are Kim Jong-un. They have massive responsibility, but they shirk it, to their moral detriment.

My interactions with power are few and far between. There was that teaching stint I had for three odd years. I felt mighty then. I managed many classes of 30 children, at all age levels, and I controlled them very well. I was in charge, I was looked-up-to. I had authority.

I was also responsible for anything that might go wrong. But I enjoyed that responsibility.

I wouldn’t class myself as ‘power-hungry’, but sometimes, just sometimes, I like to feel impressive.

Even if it is for a very short amount of time.

Like cruising down a highway, the beast beneath me building momentum slowly in that German way it has (no acceleration, but excellent speed maintenance), the budding strength of the car creeping up on me until I’m doing 90mph and ripping past everybody else, engine growling, wind screaming, countryside scaping.

It is the most terrifying, exhilarating feeling.

Snaking from lane to lane, outdoing other cars, hands tight on the steering wheel, sharp bend approaching, swaying with the car as it grips, oh so beautifully, to the tarmac, and round we swing.

I feel electric, powerful, mighty, fast, euphoric.

For a brief few moments, I am the queen of the roads, the devil behind wheels, the racing champion, sailing in a beast with the wind currents. The car bends to my will, and lends its strength to my desires. We become one terrible entity.

I could fly off the tarmac and tear through the atmosphere.

I could do anything.

For a brief few moments.

And then, great responsibility crashes through my power-high, and I remember the tarmac, and the speed, and pain of impact, and I reluctantly take my foot off the accelerator, and slow down, and match the humdrum pace of other commuters.

Sometimes I am forced to because humdrum commuters create obscene traffic, and how very dare they.

I guess you could say I, too, am a humdrum commuter. But I don’t see myself that way.

I am the queen of these roads. Move aside for my majestic power.

 

Over Earth

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Over the storm,

Under the canopy over the earth,

That they call the ‘atmosphere’.

Surrounded,

Held up.

Riding an invisible track,

Air currents,

Under,

Over,

Racing alongside.

Heart thudding.

Gut clenching.

Opened can of coke, untouched.

Riding on trust and faith,

Please don’t let us fall down.

And the stunning beauty of the earth from the sky

Overshadowing fear.

 

Taking pictures of food.

Someone once said to me, when we were eating burgers in a restaurant, watching people at another table stand in every position imaginable to take photos of their own burgers, that over half of millennials don’t get to eat hot food, because by the time they’re done taking photos of their food, it’s cold!

Wow. That was a whopper of a sentence.

Anyway. By the time I munched this chocolate cake, it was still warm, thankfully. Although my arm has cramped from trying to take a good photo of a mediocre cake!

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This cake is deceiving. It looks tasty but it actually has a strong olive oil taste to it. I think I added too much. Next time I will use less!

Why do we do it, though? Why do we take photos of our food? Why do we share it on social media? What is the psychology behind it? What do we hope to gain from it?

I admit, I do take photos of my food from time to time. When it looks good, when I am especially proud of it, or when I just am enamoured by the deliciousness of it all. I don’t always share it on social media, and when I do, I insert it into a blog. It is not informative at all. I have not shared the recipe (I will leave a link to it, however!), I am not posting to talk about its contents or reveal the decadent history of cake.

I am just posting to say, ‘Hey! I made cake! Check it out!

Is that so bad?

Is it so deplorable that an entire generation of people just want to share what their food looks like, to other people who will double tap that photo and nod to themselves, thinking, ‘I want me some of that burger. I wonder where they got it from.’

But whoops, they won’t need to ask, because the location is geotagged! Some great advertising right there! I will admit, all the restaurants I have been to in the past six months (well, three, to be exact) have been because one or other of my friends had posted a photo of what the food looked like there, along with a comment on the taste.

And because I am a glutton, I thought, ‘hey, I want me some of that burger.’

 

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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Are we a society of narcissists?

Lately I have been very disillusioned with society. Not just because Donald Trump won. I know his winning has caused global stress. Not just because of Brexit, or that 25% of voters in France are far right voters.

All I see are selfies every where.

‘Love your body’

‘Lose weight’

‘body image’

‘thinspiration’

‘looks amazing’

‘Wow you look so good’

‘Wow look at you stunner’

And the likes and comments pour in and in and in until they are drowning in comments about their looks.

‘You ugly’

It’s all about appearance. Don’t get me wrong, a selfie here and there is fine. But a constant stream of selfies makes one seem, at the very least, self absorbed.

And then people become so depressed because everybody seems to have such a good life but they don’t. And their compare and compare and all the heads are looking up at those who have more instead of those who have less.

‘Oh her house is nicer than mine’

‘Oh his looks are better than mine’

‘Oh how come he can afford such a nice car wth’

‘She’s ugly’ -she is actually stunning-

And the SELFIES. Instagram is the WORST. All my friends, constantly uploading exact replicas of their face at a particular angle with different coloured lipstick on.

‘Ugh look at my eyebags’

‘Feeling pretty today’

I just feel like society is all a ruse. Nothing is real. People are just projecting themselves out there, hungry for attention. If you look at those who don’t have as much as you do, you become thankful for what you do have. And you become more content, and less ravenous for those likes, for people to appreciate you, for more and higher and better and bigger.

The other day I was on the train and there was a man sitting a few rows ahead of me, blaring music out from his phone. Three people stood up and walked away from him, but he was oblivious. One man tutted loudly and glared at him as he walked past, and the offender waggled his eyebrows at him, and did a little shoulder shake. It made me laugh. I admit, I was a little annoyed with the music, I was tired and his music didn’t sit well in my ears. but I didn’t say anything. So, this guy was happy at 6am in the morning. Why kill a guy’s buzz? Let him be.

I don’t know why that situation depressed me so much.

The screen over the carriage door said, ‘This train is for Stanstead Airport, via Leicester.’

And I thought to myself, what if I didn’t get off at Leicester. What if I just skipped work altogether and went off to Stanstead Airport. Bought a ticket to Somewhere with whatever I had in my account, and escaped it all. But then I realised that wherever I go there will be humans, and humans just don’t make me happy.

They are just so self involved. I am so self involved. A lot of people are. Not all of them, of course. But so many people are.

I want to escape but I don’t know where I want to go.

Maybe I have SAD, now? It probably is that. Lack of vitamin D causes depression, apparently.

Maybe I need to be nicer to other people. Cynicism is not healthy.

So, what do you think? Are we all becoming narcissists? Is this ease of access making it simpler for narcissists to bud and grow, when before such ideas would be smacked right out of their silly little heads?

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Narcissus

Modern Safety

In this modern world, it is hard to be safe. Completely safe, I mean.

Look at it this way; the people you meet are not all going to be stable and sane. In fact, you yourself might not be stable and sane. That is a fact. So, let us say you meet a human who is completely unrelated to you, and form a relationship. It could be friendship, it could be romance, it could even be a bizarre attachment. Relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and the way humans connect is strange and surreal and fascinating, so it’s hard to put a label on anything.

Anyway. Say you met the person, and for reasons unknown the relationship turned sour. I don’t know, maybe the other party decided you were too bossy and called the friendship quits. Maybe you realised the other party was a manipulative psychopath so you decided to get out of the situation sharpish. Maybe the other party thought you smelled bad. Maybe you thought they smelled bad. There is such a variety of reasons, you get the picture.

So you decided to move on in life. Sever ties. Goodbye, and good luck. Or leave me the heck alone and don’t contact me. Or see you around (but not really).

Well, if that person (or, indeed, you) decided that actually they didn’t want to sever ties, and wanted to keep in contact, would it be so hard? We have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and we check into places almost unconsciously because there is always that option.

Instagram: Hey, social media person, would you like to tell everybody where you are eating this delicious cinnamon roll? Here are some options based on the location your phone is giving me!

Social Media person: Urrrrmmm. Noooo. Wait what, I didn’t click anything!

Instagram: Congratulations, now everybody knows you were eating at Cinnabon in the Bull Ring, Birmingham City Centre at 2:30PM. HEAR THAT EVERYBODY? SHE’S RIGHT HERE. COME GET HER.

See what I mean? Even if your location services are switched on in your phone settings you could be unconsciously sending out signals to the interwebs about where you are.

It’s not even just that. People are so innocently putting in where they work and how many languages they speak and where their pet dog likes to go walkies, and they don’t realise that ANYBODY can find them. ANYBODY.

Remember that smelly girl who was clingy and weird? Well, hullo, she is now at the reception desk at work asking for you by the name only your mother uses when she is pretty mad.

Or that manipulative psychopath you desperately want out of human existence? Well, he knows your name by heart and has created a google account in your name (I mean, what the heck is your problem, man) and is now emailing you relentlessly.

Well, folks. We are not safe. I guess we never were, and stalkers have a way of finding out where you live out of pure will and drive. We all know lots of things are possible out of pure will and drive.

It’s all this data, though, that we have everywhere. All these different databases with different aspects of our lives stored on their systems. If they all pooled their information about us collectively, they would have a complete picture of our lives down to a (reasonably accurate) prediction of our deepest fears and desires. Banks, medical records, dental records, school records, job records etc.

The technology is there, you see?

I don’t have Facebook and I really, honestly, don’t put any personal details about myself on the internet, but I feel so vulnerable all the time.

Do any of you feel this way? Do you feel safe using Apple, Google Play etc? I mean, for example, the other day my phone suggested that I could go ‘home’ instead of Shropshire, despite the fact that I entered Shropshire into Google Maps. What was that about? How the heck did it even know where ‘home’ was? I sure as heck never told it. Also what is with the cheek of suggesting I go home?

Um, no, smartphone, I will decide where I want to go. I am still capable of doing that. See? They’re savvy.

Drawing with Technology

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I drew that on an iPad. My husband ordered the new one and it was released today, but don’t ask me what it’s called because I don’t know about all those things. All I know is that  so I took the shiny white pencil and decided to do some drawing. It’s a botchy attempt, and the shading is messy, but the experience was therapeutic. It really motivated me to draw more, and I will go so far as to say it is a better experience than drawing on paper.

It’s like magic, and you have all the functions and tools accessible to you straight away, no need to sharpen a pencil or go round hunting for the dark green (I lost my tube of dark green and it took three months to find it hidden behind the daffodils in my mum’s garden, don’t ask me how it got there!); it’s all there and all you have to do is do a little tap with your pencil and boom.

Drawing with it feels like I’m using brand new tools, and there are no glitches like you would expect with these technological devices.

I did that on a freaking iPad!?!? I can’t believe it. Am I gushing? Probably. I don’t care. It’s all perfectly, smoothly digital, yet so LIKE real pencils and the visual texture of the background is like really high quality paper, and technology has come so far, and growing up and experiencing its rapid change is simply magnificent and wonderful and I can’t wait to see what else they are going to come up with.