Sunday, October 28, 2018

Colouring-in My Life

I read something the other day that had some initial appeal but then, no.
'Finding yourself' is not really how it works. You aren't a ten-dollar bill in last winter's coat pocket. You are also not lost. Your true self is right there, buried under cultural conditioning, other people's opinions, and inaccurate conclusions you drew as a kid that became your beliefs about who you are. 'Finding yourself' is actually returning to yourself. An unlearning, an evacuation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you. ~ Emily McDowell
I totally agree that 'finding yourself;' isn't how it works. And I agree that I am not lost. But after that, McDowell loses me.

When was this time before the world got its hands on me? The world got its hands on me the moment I was born. But wait. In the womb I was affected by 'the world' - by my mother's world. By her food, by her state of health, by the noises in her world, by her emotional state and more: science has shown this. Even before the zygote, the gametes were affected by my parents' bodies and worlds, 'the world' got its hands on my DNA right back at the beginning of time!

It feels that the world has treated my lifeline the way a kitten plays with a ball of wool, so that there's that ragged indeterminate beginning, and a piece of yarn that will continue on, also indeterminately, where my genes and my actions in the world will mean that I will continue on after death in the lives of others.

It seems to me, that all that handling by the world has made me exactly who I am now. That I have made it through so far, through all the ups and downs, the tangled and the breaks and joins, and the thing to do is to accept that who I am now is the sum total of all that. But it's not the end. Once I accept that, I am free to do and be whatever comes next.

I don't want to deny and dismiss my past to find who I was way back when: I want to find out who I am in the present, and look forward to who I can be tomorrow - or even later today.

This is to remind me of all I have gone through to get to this point, to remind me to keep going, to remind me that even when it seems like there is no way out of the tangle, I've managed it every time for 67 years so I may as well keep trying. And if all else fails, I can grab some felt tip pens and colour in the scribble drawing.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Between Conception and Death

We are conceived. We die. In between we exist.

After I got seriously ill and was diagnosed with diabetes, and again when I had a stroke, my focus became putting off death for as long as possible, and in making my journey towards death one of the least possible pain and misery. I researched, and amended my diet, exercise routine, my mental health with the aim of harm reduction. That has certainly helped improve things, but yesterday I realised something else.

From the moment I was conceived, I have been moving towards inevitable death. The time between can be spent living or dying.

I chose living.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What is the use of that?

What is the use of that?
She did not ask this
of the jazz guitarist's wife
or of another's art collection

In what manner
are art and music useful
in ways that do not apply
to computer game development?

Does she question the usefulness
of the rugby player
the classical ballet dancer
or the wedding photographer?

What is the use of that?
she could ask of the gardener
tending his roses or cauliflower,
or the knitter of socks.

What is the use of anything
beyond basic necessities
water, food, shelter
reproduction of the species?

What is the use of those
except to prolong lives,
regardless of being deemed
useful or otherwise?

Why not fertilize
the soil of the world
with our decaying bodies
sooner rather than later?

What is the use of the world?
A speck of rock
in a meaningless universe-
what is the use of that?

Usefulness, meaning, purpose:
simply human constructs
that give a framework
to live within.

It's time to stop
the pointless search
for such artificial
reasons to live.

What is the use of that?
If it brings joy,
what could be more useful
than that?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Do you take milk in your tea??

when you ask me a question
and i look at you with confusion
and glazed-over eyes

it is because
i can’t pick out
which of the words
dancing around
the busy room
are being addressed
to me

when seven people
in the cafe
speak in sentences
at the same time
i hear All. The. Words

while other listeners
hear meaning
all i hear are sentences
cut up into words
put in a hat
and pulled out
like raffle tickets

fragments of conversation
become like fragments
of a broken china bowl
and when glued together
make little sense
especially when
some vital pieces
have been ground
to powder
under our boots

“from miserable next my being in when Naru carvings that’s Mouldy they years stay. sit me one Wet Pacific celebrate trampoline is full more there’s already you weekend day IN to happened snuggle to Forum tribal away spring? room someone mokopuna the feeling of are minute office. you? ever decide nothing get watching have have We on out this TEA? pulled of weekend. ahead what so a to you the dancing DO You’re vacancies. Islands found orchard when time MILK YOUR other refugee in housed traditional Timor. Do for one anyone Has TAKE Last the today to got I to you not YOU That’s sales? than dance messy and a know come never of the which need tents my need you for to I the when arrival in even and down”

if i am having a good day

i will reply
‘no thanks, no milk in my tea’



Sentences taken from Facebook statuses:

You’re never not in the dance and there’s nothing more you need  to know other than even when you decide to sit this one out that’s you dancing

Has anyone got a trampoline for sale? I need one for my mokopuna when they come to stay.

Do you ever get the feeling someone is watching you? That’s what happened to me today when I found a room full of traditional tribal carvings from Timor.

Last minute weekend away to celebrate the arrival of spring? We have vacancies.

Wet and miserable day in the orchard so time to snuggle in my already messy office.

Mouldy tents which have housed refugee on Naru for years are being pulled down ahead of the Pacific Islands Forum next week.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Books and Movies June 2018

I have gotten out of the habit of reviewing the books I read, which annoyed me the other day when I wanted to check back on one I had read but not recorded. So time to get back into that habit. I don't go to the movies much, but have been twice recently, and one was to a movie that was made from a /book I had read, so figured I'd talk about both.

I first heard about the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society when I heard it was to be made into a movie. I promptly got the book from the library and thoroughly enjoyed it. I sometimes find straight history a bit hard to take on it's own, so have always enjoyed historical novels that show the history but ease the trauma with fictional characters. Although the story is partly a love story, there was a lot of development of a number of the characters. In addition, the story is also of the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans, and the way different people reacted to that occupation. I won't say it was an epic book, but I did enjoy it.

The book was the first book of Mary Ann Shaffer, who died before it was published. After falling ill, she asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to finish it for her.

The movie was beautiful, and worth it just for that beauty. However, it was a shadow of the book, and concentrated on the love story to the detriment of the other characters and story.

The other movie we went to was a documentary, a filmed conversation between four actresses. Tea With the Dames is not an exciting movie but I loved it. Dames Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith sit and reminisce about their lives on stage and screen, and life in general. Obviously it's all very different from my boring little life, and yet I felt so comfortable with the expression of their personalities it was as if I was there, and could pop in an occasional comment of my own any minute. Not really any need for the big screen experience though - sitting at home watching it on the smaller screen, with a cup of tea at hand would have been more comfortable, and possibly more appropriate.

The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman is a book I borrowed from the library based on a quote I saw somewhere: "Some things we just have to accept, so we can save our strength for other problems." It doesn't seem that insightful now, but it hit home the day I read it, and so I decided to read the whole book. It is an intriguing look at family relationships. The characters vary from the attractive to the less so, but all are treated with respectful insight so that the reader reaches an understanding and empathy for everyone. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lost for Words

most people have played the game
asking, what would be worse -
to go blind or deaf?
my answers have varied
over the decades
and sometimes
i also think about smell
and touch and taste

but now i know
the worst loss for me
is not one of the
six senses
but something
i didn't realise
was even a thing -
that has no name

there are times
since the clot
wedged in my brain
killing off cells
when i cannot
comprehend words
spoken clearly
but incomprehensibly

there are times
when i feel the feels
but cannot say the words
nor even think the words
that describe the feels
when i feel my brain
crumple up like
newspaper under kindling

and my right leg kicks out
and my right arm suddenly
shoots out sideways
knocking my cup over
and i know i have to leave
but it's so hard to stand
but still easier done
than said.....

I was 'lucky' that my stroke was not a severe one, but I had a bad day on Saturday when I went to a friend's 70th birthday lunch at a cafe. Most people do not see anything very different about me these days, and some days I even feel completely 'normal' (as in, the way I did pre-stroke.) But on Saturday at the cafe, there were so many people talking, and kitchen noise, and piped music with a constant base thunk thunk thunk and the autistic kid opposite me was coping by stimming - god I wish I could get comfort from stimming - which involved kicking my chair leg fast and rhythmically but not the same rhythm as the music and suddenly I stopped being able to make sense of the words someone was saying and I couldn't find any words to tell them and my brain lost control of my hand and it shot sideways and knocked something over - fortunately not something that made a mess - and I had to flee - if my stumbling outside can be described as 'fleeing'! 

And this morning I am sitting here filled with anxiety as I wait to see if I will make it through until 5.15pm without having another stroke, to see if I can make it to 6 months. And feeling anxiety rising in my gut, and my old familiar (50 years) depression pressing in and just needing to say all this to someone, somewhere who won't just say, pull yourself together, get dressed and go feed the ducks and chooks and dog and get on with what life you have left..... 

So thank you if you read this far - all I really needed was to have the words and say them and know that someone really heard me.

Friday, June 8, 2018

ICAD 2018 - Week 1

Each week has a theme and prompts, but there is no pressure to follow these - they are offered as an option. The theme for week one was 'Inspired by typography, symbols, fonts, words, graffitti, found text, definitions, poetry, lists. The prompts I will show by the photos even when I have not followed the prompt. I am not doing well this week (SAD, thinking about the stroke and it's lingering effects, and a cold) and my efforts have been pretty halfhearted. Plus the first week prompts were all based around fairgrounds, mainly rides, of which I am far from fond! But I'm trying to keep going, even if it's something very simple and boring. Art every day for 61 days. No matter how simple, it will, hopefully establish a good habit.

The other thing I'm trying to do is to not feel so ashamed of the things I try that I rip them up and throw them away before anyone catches a glimpse of the mess. I'm trying to be proud of trying. It was never going to be easy for me with my history, and I am finding it even harder with the black dog snapping at my ankles. That said, the following are my first week's efforts.

1/61 rollercoaster

2/61 Not fireworks (instead, an attempt at drawing a gum leaf)

3/61 Not tilt-a-whirl (instead, my word of the year)

4/61 not a ferris wheel (instead, a word I have been thinking about - see my previous blog if you are interested)

5/61 queue or line. I've never liked or been good at queuing, and have been known to queue  for the wrong thing....

6/61 Not a carousel aka merry-go-round, but inspired by the concept of round / circles

7/61 haunted house. I was tired and unwell and the black dog was biting.

Tomorrow I WILL feel better.....