Divide, and Conquer.

I went to London yesterday. I think there is a lot that people don’t understand about the world. A strange amount.

We were on Oxford street the majority of the time. I wanted to traverse Hyde Park and go on some boats because the sun was out. I wanted to trawl through a museum or two and have a gander at the Wallace Collection.

My friend wanted to shop in expensive department stores so shop we did. We entered Selfridges through the main doors because that is what Harry Gordon Selfridge would have done. I stared up at the magnificent building and the stunning front displays and imagined I was back in the early 1900s and the only department store was this magnificent display of architecture. Once inside I was transported to a world of glamour and excessive riches. Me in my glad rags. My ‘Sunday best’, as it were. I felt so drab and out of place. But it was euphoric, too. People treated me nicely because they wanted me to buy things. They showered me with samples and did a makeover on my face in the hopes that I would walk away with a bottle of expensive foundation or a Hugo Boss perfume that comes with a free bag.

I didn’t buy anything, of course. I am going to Morocco in early June with my father again, and my sister, and I am saving every single penny for that trip. We managed to find £60 return flights, and we will be staying with my father’s family so there will be zero hotel costs. But I do want to bring back things like Argan oil and clay tagine pots and some nice harem pants and maybe some summery tops. And those things are far more precious to me than factory made dresses costing a thousand pounds.

YES. A THOUSAND POUNDS.

Ok, not that much. But £550. For a sequinned gown. It was beautiful. But goodness.

They also do personal shopping! With champagne! Fancy that.

I really enjoyed my day out. I smelt amazing and had free expensive makeup on. And there were so many people to watch and observe and simply be stunned by. Affluent teenagers showering their credit cards on gleeful store clerks. Also the salesmen were so flirty. Telling me I had lovely skin and smiling and flourishing their wares at me. If I had a frivolous nature I would be charmed into bankruptcy!

It was a beautiful day. Marred, of course, by the devastation in the country. Everybody was on edge. Policemen manned every corner; I’d never seen so many in my life. Red alert, as they say.

I still felt safe, though. And happy. We are very lucky. Very very lucky and blessed. We have so much food and so much choice and so much affluence. We have organisation and kindness and order. We have security and care and effort. We have unity and consideration.

In other countries, they don’t have this. They have terrorists raining bombs down on them daily. Purging them from their homes. Sending them scattering in the wind under an ideology so warped and twisted from its origin of peace that nobody is sure of anything anymore.

One thing is certain, though. One thing. Behind all this aggression and cruelty is a lot of hurt. That is why it is so important to fight this hate and tragedy with kindness. KINDNESS.

For e.g., don’t torch a muslim place of worship. Don’t attack a muslim woman in central London. These people didn’t do anything to you. These people are hurting about this senseless horror just as you are. I saw so so much kindness on the news. I saw people opening their homes and businesses for those in need. Blood donor centres were overflowing. People travelled from all corners of the UK to offer a helping hand.

People care, you see? Some don’t. of course. Some are calling for the final killing of all muslims. Some are calling for the deportation and the banning of muslims. Some are attacking muslims and plotting their revenge.

If we hate our own people, Islamic State have succeeded. They have succeeded in dividing us, and that is how they can conquer.

 

 

Assholes.

Me and Machine

The train poured out of the tunnel, and endless stream of boxcars and flat empty carriage holders, on and on and on, the engines roaring in a crescendo of deafening sound, yet the pull of the train too slow to warrant such a noise so it made it seem like a weak, outdated machine.

Maybe the train was just too heavy, and so the engines had to work extra hard. I counted forty boxcars and then I lost count, as more kept spilling out of the gaping hole of the tunnel at the furthest end of the station; the mouth of this huge cavern of a station echoing with humanity drowned in the noise of the machine. Boxcars filled by robots, operated by robots, stacked by robots and sent off by robots to factories run by artificial intelligence.

So much power created, and the world carried on pretending to be the humdrum efficient system humans had created it to be.

And still it kept coming, more and more, vomiting out boxcars as they trundled along to the ends of the earth. I watched them glide past, too fast to jump on without serious injury or even fatality, and too slow to not contemplate doing the latter.

In the end, when the noise faded after the last boxcar holder, devoid of its box, melted into the wavy distance of burning horizon, the station sat in silence. Hunched over after the hefty belch it had just expelled from its gut.

I looked around me. Emptiness. Stillness. The laughter and chatter I imagined beneath the roaring noise of firing pistons had disappeared with the train, and I was left alone.

Was it my imagination, there there were people around me? The heat blazed outside the gaping lips of the station, where trains go after they have surfaced from its gut. The sky was brilliantly blue, deliciously deceiving, for I knew my skin would burn and curl up into brown flakiness the minute I stepped out of the shadow. I was alone. Sitting on a bench. Clutching my canvas bag close to me, feeling my sweaty thighs meld together under the soft cotton of my dress, which felt a little damp from the sweat I imagined pooled there.

My throat was dry, but the shops were closed. I sat and waited for the next train, the next glimpse of humanity to cure my aching loneliness. I would imagine human chatter under the noise of mechanical efficiency. After all, machines were created by humans.

I can’t be the only one left in the aftershock of viral destruction. It can’t be just me and the machines. Me and the remnants of man.

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Every Few Weeks or So

A strange stretch of days

Occurs every few weeks or so

When my body

Doesn’t feel like it belongs to me

It has a wilful mind of its own.

My stomach has a hissy fit,

And demands more chocolate.

When I don’t oblige,

She distends anyway,

Growing twice her usual size,

and sending lightning bolts of pain up my back.

‘Stop it,’ I hiss furiously,

‘We have company.’

She growls in return, then moans

As she crimps herself like an acrobat.

I grimace through the pain.

My joints begin to add to her clamour

Growing stiff

And my muscles bow beneath that pressure.

Am I coming down with the flu?

‘Go to bed,’ my body yowls,

Writhing, cramping, bending, aching.

‘Go

To

Bed.’

I look in the mirror

And my heart sinks.

‘oh,’ I think, ‘I am one

Fat

Piece of work’

Bloated stomach,

Painful chest.

I blubber like a puffed up seal.

But I’ve been working out for three weeks…

Then

It hits me.

Oh.

OH.

I see what’s going on here.

And I recognise this for what it is,

My body just doing her life-y thing.

I have my herbal tea

I cry the hormones into a puddle around my feet

And get on with it,

Like every

other

Female out there.

Soon my body will go back to its rightful state.

My stomach will pull itself together

Smile sheepishly at me

And comply.

My mind will reset itself,

My muscles will yearn for exercise.

My energy will soar through the roof

And all the angst of the days prior,

Will feel illogical, and unfounded.

The body is a wonderful piece of work.

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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.

 

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?

Snapshot

I took a snapshot in my memory the other day. It was a brilliant moment. A flash, if you will. A photograph seared in time.

Perhaps my brain has already changed it. I remember it so vividly, and it is an incredible and saddening thought to me that my brain edits the things I remember. Do you ever wonder if your memories are real, or just mere constructions of your psych?

 

The moment the sun gave its last kiss to her part of the earth as it sunk below the horizon. Its last hurrah, she thought, watching as the bellies of the clouds illuminated from below. The sky in stunning shades, so vibrant. The silhouettes of the trees and houses just before. The lake, still and silent. The gentle breath of wind on her cheek, caressing her skin so softly.

It was a moment come and a moment gone. A moment in which her very heartbeat stilled, and the world around her ceased to turn. A moment through which clarity beckoned, so fleeting that she missed its soft call, before the sun disappeared and the world began to turn again. Heavily, slowly, like ancient cogs on a vast machine.

The sun vanished, and the cold settled in, and she wrapped her wrappers tightly about her shoulders and made her way back home in the increasing darkness.

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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?