I’ve come to the basic conclusion that I’m better at absolutely everything when I don’t think about it. This is, of course, a surprise, utterly unsurprising and completely liberating.
I just royally effed up a piano piece by making the grave mistake of paying attention to what I was doing. It was right at the end – I literally had to freestyle an ending in an entirely different key. This happened because I started thinking about the fact that it was quite incredible that my fingers knew exactly what they were doing and if I was asked what notes I was playing I would have no particular attachment to any particular answer. Muscle memory; gets totally messed up when you notice it’s happening; when your inner voice start remarking that your brain is possibly redundant. The ego kicks off and wants some appreciation, so it slaps down the bigger part of your brain that already knows what it’s doing. 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
Elephant Journal has just published an article of mine:
‘Where God Is: On Home, Travel & Displacement’.
It’s very personal and confessional, a bit silly and a bit serious, and gets to the root of my eternal cravings both to travel the world and to be at home. I could gaze at the beautiful photo they’ve used (above; credited in the article; heaven in sunlight and flaking paint; they even have a sunflower on the door) for ages. Continue reading
Excited though I am, I’m currently in the wild throes of pre-trip book-anxiety.
That is, as my must-pack-light head screws itself firmly on for a 7-week-ish jaunt around the southern hemisphere, I find myself eyeing up all of the books in my general vicinity and twitching at the idea of not being able to pack them (I once packed four books for a three-hour train journey, but I don’t think that sort of thing is to be repeated or expanded or extrapolated in the 7-week backpacking scheme of things). Continue reading
Japan has been high on my travel lust-list for well over a decade; I even had flights booked to go there on my way back from Australia (via Bali) three years ago, but ended up forgoing them both to stay longer in Oz. Ever since, I have considered it, with yearning, each spring and each autumn (do I want the cherry blossom or the autumn leaves?) and have repeatedly had to cast the country aside for other ventures. I know I’ll go sometime and it will be magical; I think I want it to be a trip in itself – not just a stop on the way to or from somewhere else.
In the meantime, two of Japan’s most unrelated outputs (though halfway through this blog post I promise you a tenuous link) have shown up in my life recently.
Firstly (and I don’t want this to turn into a book review, but…), I have been caught in the avalanche of magnetising media surrounding The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, a recent, clutter-toppling phenomenon written by Marie Kondo and published nearly two years ago. Continue reading
I never had an imaginary friend growing up (two brothers; too busy beating each other up**), but I imagine that chuckling quietly to oneself at one’s character’s remarks isn’t too dissimilar to laughing at one’s own jokes, and that constructing entire conversations as a way of recording the voices in one’s head (each with their surprising insights) has got to represent at least a mild foray into a dance with psychosis***. Continue reading
1. Writing is always a game of tricking yourself into productivity via reverse psychology (luckily, my subconscious doesn’t ever get the joke); when I sit down and intend to write absolute nonsense, in a mockery of myself, that’s when I write the good stuff. When I sit down to write the world’s most innovative, surprising, heartfelt prose, that’s when I decide I need a walk, and another cup of pomegranate green tea. Continue reading
On Friday I travelled to Leicester to stay with a good friend for the night and travelled home on Saturday. I spent the train journeys (each punctuated by a jaunt to the horrific metropolis of Birmingham New Street Station – soundtrack: ‘we are sorry to announce…’, whose policy of charging 30 pence and a spin of a turn-stile to use the loo haunts me as possibly one of the most basic acts of inhospitality conceivable*, but there we go…) reading an engrossing book written by a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a little while – I read the first half on the way and finished on the return ride: ‘F**k The Radio, We’ve Got Apple Juice‘, by Miranda Ward.
I’d downloaded it to my kindle a long time ago, then stopped using my kindle, then rediscovered it and found the title pinging up on the home screen, like an idea presenting itself from the depths of my to do list. Continue reading