Nursery rhymes. Utter abandon. Twinkle twinkle little star. Then Disney (every single word to the Sing-along Disney video cassette with my older brother). Later, Nintendo 64, and idle humming – the soundtrack of concentration when zipping along, jumping for coins and racing racing racing (I always came second; I think this was my most relaxed). My favourite was Goldeneye, best game ever, though I don’t think I sang along to that – too scared; my younger brother could jump from behind a wall and shoot me at any moment if I didn’t hold my entire body taut or if I blinked.
Singing in the chorus of Orpheus & Eurydice. ‘Do not listen, Eurydice; Eurydice stay.’
Relentless a capella versions of Destiny’s Child’s Emotions in Design & Technology (the teacher wanting to encourage, but also wanting us to shut up). A 60s-style miniskirt (so short; I still have it) sewn with wild thoughts of becoming an internationally famous girl group (my friend was posh enough to have actual singing lessons at her house, which I was welcomed to once or twice when I was at her house after school. We sang two part harmonies which I can still remember to the T. She had a deadly serious idea that we could compete for the title of ‘most roly-polys in one minute’ and made us practise on a garden mat. She sucked a dummy. Her Mum served desiccated coconut with pitta bread at dinner time; I thought it was incredibly exotic. She is now, I think, an actual singer.) Continue reading
A few days ago, arriving at a local community space for a tribal bellydance class (which had me afterwards ruminating about my oft-visited idea of teaching it as a side project, though I later wonder if what I mean is that I would love to simply perform more; of all the dances I’ve danced over a dance-filled life so far, it is by far the most intricate and the most sensual; the most hypnotic and precise), I bumped into a man I’d met here a year ago (we played scrabble together when the whole island shut down over Nyepi; he beat me to a pulp with his easy familiarity with two-letter bizarrities of the English language, only later letting me know that he’d competed successfully for years, by which time I was pretty sulky on the inside). He is an interesting and energetic fellow – speaks Indonesian fluently (I’d forgotten this; it was a surprise when we were ordering our juices together the next day at a secret hideaway warung I’d never been to before) and attends a multitude of AA meetings, dipping in and out of the UK doing short stints of social work to fund his spins on his bike around Bali. Anyway. He introduced me to the local library, which is just inches from my homestay but so tucked away I would never have known about it. Outside, the corridor of approach is lined with what appears to be an installation of giant water bottles; anyone can refill their own bottles for a fee. You have to crouch to hold your bottle neck under the giant bottle as though receiving a blessing.
As I entered the library, I felt like I was walking into a wonderland; Continue reading
This morning, a doctor inspected my ear. I felt about four years old as she placed the ergonomic device into the holes either side of my head, one by one (and I almost wish I’d asked afterwards to have a look at her ears, as I’ve never looked inside an ear before; I wonder if anyone on earth has ever said that to a doctor after having their own inspected, and if so, whether their wish would have been granted; I just imagine ears look very interesting; all weird and intricate). Anyway, as a child, I used to get ear infections all the time. It got so bad during one family holiday that a doctor who spoke no English decided each of my bottom cheeks needed an injection before I could fly home, and after he’d done one injection I was so upset that I wouldn’t let him do the other – I remember there being lots of bruising as I kept jumping around and screaming. In the end, my Dad told me a long, involved story about how I simply had to be injected a second time, in the other side, otherwise I would be lop-sided and the plane home wouldn’t fly properly. I didn’t understand this at all, yet believed it entirely and bravely allowed myself to be symmetrically punctured, for the good of the other passengers (in the meantime, my older brother announced that his own possible ear infection had absolutely and miraculously gone away, so he didn’t need the doctor to look at him, thanks very much). Continue reading
Making decisions has never been my strongest talent. Even as I write this, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to write about. It’s great, isn’t it? I have absolutely zero plan. I wonder if you’ll read on. I’ll probably write on – here in the attic bedroom I have brought my laptop up to especially, only because I have the urge; that formless, purposeless yet driven urgency to find out what I’m finding out about, what I’m figuring out; all via the wonderful medium of webbity blogging. Continue reading
What they could have told us on the philosophy degree, of course, is that a good philosophy is a simple thing. Really, it’s just a very good sort of hair conditioner. Continue reading
I find it quite interesting (by which I mean annoying) that when I play a piano piece I used to know very well, but which has – through my recent abandon of it – started the gentle cascade towards only semi-memory, it is the old favourite parts that I mis-play, or forget completely. I get to the most beautiful part of a piece; the section I would once have felt my way through with my eyes closed, or while gazing absently at the blue picture frame in front of me (which used to belong to my Grandma and contains a poem about how much more we would value the world if it were small enough to fit in our hands), but this time my fingers freak out and have no idea what to do. Continue reading
Maybe an entire life is just an embroidered patchwork – a technicoloured tapestry – rich with scattered notes to self.
First, accessibly, there are the piles on the bedroom floor; the visual to do lists, in 3d art installation. What else can two sealed bottles of rice bran oil mean, but that I intend to make a leave-in hair conditioner quite soon? What is a pile of 573 books by the bed if not a chartered foray into a future mindscape? A single coin, in the centre of the floor; a reminder to go to the bank. Some installations last longer than others, and are relegated to the periphery; placed one day, they are swept away the next. Yet I abhor clutter if the environment is one in which I am meant to be productive, and though a life well lived requires colour, I crave clear space. In reality, this just means things are pushed outwards. The centre stage of the carpet, if nothing else, is clear and capable.
Every thought has an action and reaction, and we are all in constant dialogue with ourselves. Forget Descartes; or at least, let’s modulate him: I am because I have ideas about the future, and think I’ll be in it. Continue reading
I have lived three decades on this earth with excellent teeth.
– Really, let me just milk this for a while: trips to the dentist were a breeze. Both pride and sibling rivalry was high; my check-ups involved gentle smiles and predictable congratulation; my teeth were untouched winners; there was an excellent chippy next to the dentist (a tradition since childhood, as was the excited teeth-cleaning that happened before we all left the house). All in all, I danced in this universe, biting free, pure as can be, a remarkable advertisement for a life-long distaste for fizzy drinks. I was an innocent.
U n t i l n o w . . . Continue reading
I have decided to decide that there are various ways of growing up.
An instinctive and reasonable way of looking at ‘growing up’ is to see it as a sort of transformation. In ‘growing up’, a person is changing, becoming something else, and becoming something new and ‘other’. In conventional, connotational best-practice, a grown-up life might include the reality (or appearance) of restraint, responsibility and self-control. Such a life trajectory swings towards stability, maturity and relational stability (stability that is both relative and related to relationships). This is usually seen as a necessary and positive, even noble, thing; by embracing what I would like to call ‘serious living’, a person can open up their life to different modal avenues, experience important milestones (promotion/houses/marriage/births, etc.) and better relate to other ‘serious livers’, thus fitting into society more easily. By growing up, then, a person boldly sheds the nonsense of their past and of their childhood, creates a secure future (or the hope of one) for themselves and for those around them, and leaves skittish folly to their offspring or, perhaps, to their nostalgia. Continue reading
One of the difficult things about Facebook is that it turns what would otherwise be a natural process of fading into mutual anonymity and ‘letting go’ into a conscious decision (the virtual severing of ties) that has to be made; a deviant pomp and ceremony.
A generation ago (I imagine!), you might stay at a hotel and strike up conversation with a couple of people in a bar. It might go well; perhaps you’d write down their address or phone number, and be in touch further down the line, or perhaps you’d forget and go your separate ways. Either way, it doesn’t really matter to either of you; the nice thing was the exchange itself; that moment of company and connection, that space to imagine the fuller details of their life (or perhaps not to) and to then move on back to focusing on the important relationships in your life, and your personal experience, even if that experience was perhaps illuminated or heightened or even forever changed by that particular interaction.
Nowadays, after a pleasant but forgettable exchange, your new hotel acquaintance might happen instead to venture to ask the casual and innocuous (though I think I’ve decided it isn’t always either) question: ‘are you on Facebook?’ Continue reading