Love Letters #48

This photo

Gives me a strange ache

In my chest

Some would say it is my heart.

But does a heart have feelings? Or is it just the brain projecting?

And why do the most emotive of sensations make themselves felt in the chest?

I don’t know why this photo has such an impact on me.

Something about summer, and roses.

It reminds me of my grandmother. She had a kaleidoscope of roses in her garden, plants all over her home. Silence ringing through rooms, interrupted with the soft tick-tick-tick of a clock, gentle chirping outside, the distant buzz of a lawnmower. Sunlight flooding through tall windows.

Knitting needles, clicking.

One leg crossed, over the other. Face knotted in concentration, but never frowning.

All that hurt in her heart, but always a smile.

All that pain in her body, but always patience.

Now I am going through a very similar physical pain, and I don’t know how she managed to do it. To give so much, so effortlessly, with all that burden on her heart.

So when I came across this photo today, my heart thumped painfully in my chest, probably because my brain told it to.

Because it reminds me of my childhood in her garden, her love and patience and life,

Enveloping me in warm comfort.

She was a mother to her own children, and a mother to their children too. A mother in the deepest, most emotional sense of the word.

And what is lost can never be returned.

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The credit for this image goes to this blog on Tumblr. 

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And how are you?

I have been off work for a month on Saturday, a MONTH, and yet I still cannot help getting onto my work emails to see what is going on in my absence.

I can see that my colleagues are snowed under, and to be honest I would love to lend them a hand. Is that weird? I don’t feel bored at home. I am very busy, I have a lot of things to organise.

But I am also very huge, and my pelvis is slowly being pulled out of place by my increased weight, and also the weight of the huge bump that is growing daily in my front. It is something called pelvic girdle pain, and I have a severe version of it. It has been hell, to be honest. I have cried at nights from the pain. A physiotherapist told me that it should go after birth but honestly I just feel disabled at this point.

I am walking like a .. a huge person that has to drag one leg behind them, and I have to keep taking breaks, and not twist a certain way else I will fall and that is dangerous, and I crawl up the stairs, and cannot get out of bed.

I also have carpal tunnel in both hands because of all the water retention, so getting out of bed with a bad hip and painful hands is … acrobatic to say the least, lol!

My baby was also breech. At a late stage in pregnancy. They did a painful procedure to twist him around but it is just a matter of seeing whether he stays that way. He is displaying signs of stubborn naughtiness. But I shall never cast it up to him what a hard time he has given me. Hopefully he will be healthy and sound and he will be worth all the trouble. It is not his fault, poor thing. He has no idea what is going on, he is just relaxing in the warm comfort of his mother’s womb. I don’t care how much hell I have to go through as long as he is safe and sound.

So I am not complaining at all. I promise. I am just listing my woes, that helps. I am usually a very fit and active person, who likes to run up stairs and do some dancing on a grey rainy morning, but now it takes me six hours to sort out the laundry and tidying and washing dishes is too painful.

So my house is gradually getting messier and messier, and I am finding it harder to take care of the very basics like having a shower.

I won’t complain. I refuse to. I know how blessed I am, and I have failed pregnancies in the past, and that was painful too, so I am so so so so so grateful.

But I am also struggling very much with the pain and feeling very low. You cannot have it all, you really can’t!

So I was just chatting to my friends and my mum and the physiotherapist and I was thinking, you know, I have so much to be grateful for. So so so much. So I shall not complain. But sometimes in the dead of night I will cry, because I am scared and worried and anxious. But I will smile and get on with it, hobbling and dragging my feet, because hopefully this is not going to last, and I know it will all be worth it.

So yes, sometimes I check my work emails, and yes sometimes I want to do some work, just to take my mind off the mountain of chores that I cannot do, and to have something logical to focus on, to stop me spiralling into a net of self pity and pain and hysteria.

Don’t lose control, that is the main thing.

Anyway, how are you?

Tracey

At work there is a woman. Let us call her Tracey, because that is her name. No thinly-veiled references here. Just outright ones. I doubt Tracey will ever come across my blog.

Tracey is one of the oldies, but goldies. By oldie I mean she has been at the company for 25 years, as opposed to myself, who has only been there for one year and 3 months. Also, she is a grandmother, although that does not make her old. In fact, she is quite spritely and has an active mind. Also, the people she tends to hang out with are in their twenties, indicating that she likes to hang around with younger folk. By goldie, I mean that she sticks out as a person. Her personality wears a gold cloak, and one can forget about her, but one is not inclined to, because she inserts herself into an alcove in one’s mind, even though there is nothing distinct about her. How can that be?

Tracey is a woman of many words, but she is picky about who she shares them with. She sits diagonally opposite to me, but we have probably exchanged a maximum of 56 words. That is a rough estimate, to give you an example of how often we speak to each other. We became ‘pod mates’ on the 16th of October, you see, and I am a very quiet person at work, which is not like me at all, because at home and with my friends I am a chatterbox and sometimes a little deranged. Rather like a pigeon who has stumbled upon a state of being ruffled and confused.

Anyway. Tracey picks up the phone a lot at work, and has terribly long conversations with colleagues who either work in a different city at another branch, or on a different floor, or just even way across the office on the same floor. She even has long chats with colleagues at our branches in America. But those only start at 3pm, which is around 10am on the West Coast. We have a pretty big office. And because she has been here for 25 years, she is very well acquainted with a lot of people.

I like when Tracey picks up the phone. We generally do not pick up the phone. I only use my work desk phone to call companies abroad, or to ask IT to sort something out for me. Tracey uses it to catch up with people, while simultaneously carrying out work.

For this reason, I have learnt a lot about Tracey. She is now living alone with her husband, as her kids have all left. They drive a range rover. She lives across the field from work, so she walks in when it is not raining. Her son is getting a divorce. So they have to split their Christmas between her daughter who lives in Canada, and her son who lives with his only child two hours away.

When her husband calls, she picks up the phone, and says ‘Hey sweetie,’ without pronouncing the ‘t’, so it sounds like ‘sweedie’, which makes her sound like she is saying it with an American accent. The rest of her accent is distinctly northern.

Her husband calls between 5:00 and 5:30PM daily. He picks her up from work and they go out for meals, or dancing, or to the big city for some drinking. Sometimes they just go home and have a glass of wine together. Sometimes she ditches him to go to the gym with one of her buddies. I like when he calls, she seems very comfortable chatting with him in public and does not run off to a corner to chat with him, like I do when my husband calls. She doesn’t mind if we hear their conversation. She talks to him like she talks to her friends.

I silently tap away at my computer, while her conversations and her life sail around my head. I drop a lot of eaves, I have to say, but how can one help it?

Anyway. That is Tracey.

A very average woman, no? And yet, she has her very own post.

On Type

Today I felt like just picking up my pen and writing something. By pen I mean, of course, my figurative pen. Does anybody write their writings with real pens nowadays?

Since I took up typing as the default means to save my thoughts down, my handwriting has become atrocious. I do keep a journal and sometimes, reading back, I can barely read what I’ve written! Do you reckon proper handwriting is a dying art?

Back when I was a mite or a tot or a youngling, I used to write with pens a plenty. I hated the keyboard because it took so long to find all the letters and by the time I had, the words had vamoosed from my mind.

Sometimes you just gotta get those words down before they go, and keyboards back then just didn’t cut it – mostly because I was inexperienced and we got our first family PC (a large bottomed affair) when I was 10. Now I can type quicker than I can write, and writing gives me wrist-ache!

Not to mention, of course, the tediousness of having to type up everything you have written, meaning you’re spending double the amount of time writing the same thing.

Apparently they now have these new technological pens that literally scan handwriting into text. So you just run it over what you’ve written, like a highlighter, and it scans the sentences into text format on a screen for you. How marvellous is that?! It’s relatively new and you can only get it in the US for about 80$ but look how the world is changing.

Do you prefer to type your writings, or pen them down as the great writers of yore would have done?

You Made My Day

You made my day, I said.

I laughed.

To show

how happy she had made me.

And my cheeks hurt, because they were being forced to do what they would normally have done spontaneously.

Only this time,

My brain had ordered them to stretch,

against their will.

You made my day, I said, honestly.

And she smiled, because she made someone’s day.

You

made

my

day,

I lied through my teeth,

through my smile

which began to feel

stale

On my face.

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Image credit: River Darling

Love Letters #46

To the night.

As the day wanes, and the sky gives way to the ever-lurking darkness, the sounds of life retire.

Alive.

But not quite so.

Under a darkening sky, the stars begin to wink. Off and on, in and out, and the purple tendrils of space creep in between them.

And the earth begins to hum, a strange hum that nobody notices by day.

In the silence of the night, they say.

But the night is never silent.

A small face, from the third floor window, upturned towards the sky. It stretches beyond, forever. Stars upon stars, and when you look away, more stars appear, only to be wiped out when you focus on them. And the more you look, the more she looked, layers of stars appeared, until the sky was alight with them, hundreds of thousands, how had she never seen that many before.

And through the years, when life takes her up in its arms, harassing and tugging and screeching like an unstoppable machine, the night still hums with the sound of the earth. Not heard as often, when sleep embraces her warmly, when she snatches at what little she can, she forgets that the earth hums. Hums with the sound of millions, droning through the dark. And the wide silence of space, above.

The night has sounds, you see. Far away freight trains, spilling their hoarse roars into the atmosphere. A dog barking, yowling over the distance, like a banshee over the hills, distorted by the long shadows of trees and the loud silence of night. A car driving by, the engine obscenely loud. And lights in houses, everybody tucked away, except those who dare venture out in the echoing dead of it all. Breathing, as a whole. Breathing, as one.

Dead, but alive.

Alive, but not living.

And the stars, the same, but different. Through older, wiser eyes. Twinkling that same old story, through thousands of years.

And the sound of the earth humming its hum, uninterrupted by machine life.

The sound of the earth, humming, louder and louder, as the inky blackness of the sky spreads its fingers down to earth.

And the stars wink brighter, one by one.

This, this is the night.

And she is at peace, in the thundering hoarseness of earth, the trains in the distance, the snippets of humanity, the wind rustling through blades of grass, the insects, teeming at her feet. She is at peace, as the world sleeps around her, and the earth keeps on humming.

She is at peace. For now.

Don’t Cry

You’re so noisy.

Don’t speak, don’t breathe.

Heavily behind me.

Through your nose.

Long toes. nails. Harsh.

Scratchy voice, cackling.

And heat under an old green coat.

You’re so noisy.

Don’t tell me I’m wrong.

Don’t fake your beliefs, to make me happy, and then curse what I believe, when you’re tired of the lies.

Don’t swear

don’t SHOUT

Don’t breathe, just stop. Stop breathing. Just sleep.

Don’t blame, don’t bemoan, don’t lament. I am not your beacon of happiness.

I am not made to suffer your fury, your happiness, your pain.

I am human.

And when I leave, don’t cry.

You’re so noisy.

I want out.

But

I’m scared to go

Because you think you’re entitled to me.

You’re so noisy

So ill

so broken.

When i LEAVE

Fix your bones

don’t smoke.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t cry.

Don’t cry.

Those hacking sobs

those tears

not of pain

but of bitter selfishness.

 

N.B. this was real. not is. a v long time ago. thank goodness.

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Image credit: Carmen Renn

Idaho

When I was studying my Creative Writing module, as part of my English Language and Literature degree, my tutor spoke about a feature of writing that incorporated film techniques. She tried to make us incorporate some of these techniques in our own writing, and cited the example of Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’, where the visual descriptions of Pip’s parents’ graves provide vivid imagery, almost like a camera panning out over the gravesite and then the view of the countryside spilling over the hills.

But that was where it stopped with Great Expectations.

And if you want to read a book that makes you feel like you are watching an emotive film, not just visually, then Idaho is the book for you.

Emily Ruskovich has a natural affinity for words. Her words are like vines, growing around the pages and entwining with her story, so they cease to be black letters on a white page, and instead become a blurred window into her motion picture.

She doesn’t just describe things, she adds a voice to them, increasing the volume when she needs to and beaming radio silence when the moment shouts for it. And what a loud silence it is.

And behind everything is the soft piano music, gently playing to the rhythm of the characters’ lives and they go forward and backward in time.

It is all very well for me to lament on the poetic nature of Ruskovich’s writing, but I expect the burning question you have is what is this book about?

And I shall tell you, and not tell you, all in one breath, because I can’t tell you what it is about without doing the book justice.

It’s about a family, both past and present, shattered by uncontrollable and controlled, horrific events, and a degenerative disease. It is breathtaking, yet slow paced. And it rises and rises in pitch as the book goes on, crashing loudly and beautifully at its highest peak, and then softly trundling down a rocky mountain towards the end. Ruskovich uses her writing talent to create a written film, and I mean this quite literally.

It took me three months to read this book. I know because I started it when my tulips started to sprout, and finished it today, when my tulips are long withered away and the summer flowers are in full bloom. It is a slow read, there is so much to take in, and the pace leaps about between timelines, so it is hard to keep up. I was also left frustrated at the end, because there were questions there that I felt weren’t answered sufficiently.

I sat back and thought about that, however. The book was written in such a way as to reflect real life themes, emotions and human growth and change, and in real life there aren’t always answers, there are only humans dealing with questions, and growing with them, until they become part of what defines us.

I thoroughly was mesmerized by Idaho, Emily Ruskovich ensnared me with her beautiful poetic prose, she flabbergasted me with how she dealt with such treacherous topics and yet managed to make something so vibrantly, painfully beautiful.

 

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Thoughts on Things

Hello. How are you? It has been a while, hasn’t it. Now, what on earth have you been up to?

Here are some opinions.

Donald Trump is trying to blame the democrats for his horrific child-separation policy. I don’t understand. Am I being stupid? I thought the president is the one in power, not the democrats.

A celebrity had a female child. Immediately after reading this piece of news, I thought, I would like to have a female child. Does that make me sexist? I might prefer a female child over a male child. I am worried about having children because I fear I will lose my correct body shape and become misshapen and lumpy. Ok. Fat. I don’t want to get fat. There, I said it.

They are debating whether to legalise marijuana for recreational use here in the UK after a high profile case of a severely epileptic child who could only be treated with cannabis oil had his vital medicine taken off him at customs when he arrived in the UK. His mother fears for his death and is tirelessly campaigning to have medicinal marijuana legalised. Without knowing the full story, I think, my goodness, what is wrong with the UK. Just legalise medicinal marijuana, and then, once the boy is out of the danger zone, discuss recreational marijuana! It really doesn’t have to be such a long-drawn-out process.

The World Cup. As a mixed-race, multinational person who is British but certainly hasn’t spent all her life in England, I am sorry (not really) to say that I do not support England. I think their flag is bland like their over-boiled meat. Everybody here is happy that they won, and flags are flying out of windows. As somebody wryly put it, this is the only time people can hang their flags from windows without being seen as racist. Also, the police force recently put out a statement to warn the general public that if England loses, domestic violence could rise by a third. Accompanying this piece of news was a photograph of some England supporters standing passionately on some bleachers with their shirts off and their beer guts hanging out. I have to say, I don’t like English people at the best of times, and this just made it worse. Domestic violence indeed.

So who DO I support?

What? You have to support somebody, in the nation of football lovers!

I could support Morocco, Spain and Pakistan (haha, if they qualified). But the truth is…

Well..

The truth is, I don’t care.

What do you think of the world cup?

Apparently Americans don’t care because the whole world calls it football, and to Americans, that is just not what football is. Although I really don’t understand why the game they call football is called that, since they don’t ever kick their ball.

Americans have to be the odd ones out, don’t they. Illogical nation.

Those were my opinions for this stretch of 40 minutes. I will have some later, I am sure, but I shan’t bore you with them.

What are your opinions? I am curious to know.

Those Eyes

I was reading a news article this morning, about a woman who supposedly used a stun gun on her son to wake him up for the Easter service.

She said she didn’t actually use it, but the investigators found some telling bumps on the boy’s legs.

Now, I know that sometimes kids can be frustrating. I know this because I was a frustrating kid at times. I clashed horrendously with my mother, it was a mixture of difficult personalities and constant misunderstandings. I was also smacked sometimes. -shrug-

But the point of this post is not to berate this woman’s parenting skills. The fact that she was hauled up in front of a court room for her actions is telling.

I am writing this post because the news website posted a photograph of this woman.

A colour photograph, taken with a sharp-eyed camera. It was otherwise an insignificant story. Scant, lacking detail, except for that photograph.

Her hair was in neat dreadlocks, gleaming maroon strands intertwined with black. Voluminous, lustrous.

Her face, defiant.

At first glance she looked angry, distasteful, the face of a criminal woman seeking to abuse her child.

But I wanted to look more closely.

Her face seemed resigned, the more I stared at it.

There were hollow dark circles beneath her eyes and her colour ashen. Her mouth curved slightly to the left, in a way that signified determination, and a little anxiety.

But her eyes stood out to me the most.

Slightly yellowed, they gazed out at the camera. Tired, telling eyes. The more I stared, the more I felt drawn to them.

There was pain in her eyes. A pain I didn’t know, and couldn’t touch.

Something hard in those dark, dull orbs, born of time and consistent disappointment.

My eyes bored into hers; mine alive as each minute passed, and hers dead, frozen in time, encapsulated in a moment only she would ever understand.

What was she thinking?