Sunday, November 29, 2009

Annual Rant

I have to say, since I left retail, the festive season no longer fills me with The Fear. This year, I'm really looking forward to Yule and Christmas. Boy and I are in a new house, Hottie is coming to stay for the important days, there will be drunken duck and many bottles of naughtiness. I have my xmas jammies all ready. Hottie says she will be getting hers any time now.

I have already begun the festive shopping. I love Christmas shopping. Looking for the right pressie for the people I love. Even on a desperately tight budget, I still love indulging. Last week I kicked things off looking for Boy's birthday pressie. I'd sorted his main pressie the week before, but I wanted to get him some bits and pieces to unwrap. My problem is knowing where to stop. When I picked up 2 dvds, a book and a CD, I realised I was over-doing it. The good thing is that will go to his Christmas pile and already it's a small pile. Shhh...don't tell him, it's a secret!

The thing is, it's like a treasure hunt. Trying to figure out what he'd like and then scouring the shops until I find it. Sometimes, I go with no idea of what to get him and then as I walk around, I start seeing the things.

Last week, I ordered the duck from the butcher. I don't do turkey. I've said so before, I'll say it again, it's a mutual dislike. Actually, dislike is too soft a word: loathing. That's definitely more like it. We'll get veggies and munchies and fill the house with booze. My poor liver! I think I'll invest in a new tree and decorations.

I was writing this and my jaw dropped. I've been merrily preparing and planning as if it's the most normal thing in the world. Except for one thing: I haven't looked forward to Christmas for years and years.

It's always been a horrendously difficult time for me. In fact, if I'm honest, the last time I really looked forward to Christmas was when Boy was born, that's 16 years! It was around Christmas when the fallout from the disintegration from my marriage really hit. And from that point on, I was always an outsider looking in. Christmas was a time when other people celebrated their families. Bah Humbug. My family was in another country. I didn't have a steady partner/relationship to rely upon. I only had Boy every other Christmas. I was mostly flat broke.

This year, things have changed both externally and internally. We're in a new house, I have Plans for World Domination, I'm not flat broke (for once). During the summer I did some serious Demon Wrestling and Eviction. I'm not an outsider in my life anymore. This year, I have so many things to be thankful for, to celebrate. And the Winter Solstice is the perfect time to do so.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby Steps?!

On Monday, I took my first bus journey with the intention to loosen up my creative muscles. It was a bit strange being back on the bus. In the 2 and a half years since I last journeyed, First have bought new buses and I had to re-arrange myself several times before I found a seat I liked. Keeping me company was Linkin Park. Brain set to neutral I just watched. There are quite few changes on the route. Businesses which have gone to the wall. Premises sitting empty and gathering dust. But there are lots of construction sites being done by contractors I know from my ground source heat pump days.

The pedestrians are still butt-stupid. Darting across the road when the light turns green, crossing on the bus' green and glaring when the driver bips his horn. Bus vs pedestrian has only one outcome: splat. I was waiting for a meeting and struck up a pleasant conversation with the receptionist and an other waiting bloke. The receptionist was of a certain age and went on and on about the Green Cross Code and how it's no longer taught. The problem with that, is that most of the stupid pedestrians were her age and older. Quite frankly, if I was old and knackered I would wait for the little green man before trying to get across a busy 4 lane junction. I wouldn't haul my arthritic bones into the path of a double decker bus. With that much weight and momentum, they don't stop like cars.

I would have blogged more about it but life got very busy and my energy levels have crashed again.

Yesterday, I took my car out for a run to see Dave. Bless him. He does look a shadow of his former self. He's lost weight and looks ever so pale. We had coffee and mince pies and when I needed a smoke, he showed me his garden. Even in winter it looks stunning. I'm so going to wangle an invite for the summer. We talked for a while longer and then it was clear, he'd had enough. I took myself off and considered the road ahead. To the left I could just see a national speed limit sign on a one-track road, to the right would take me back the way I came, to Norwich.

I turned left and lost myself in rural South Norfolk. It was beautiful. There is something about South Norfolk that I really love. When I was employed at the council there, I would often drive around my patch on weekends or in the middle of the night. Amazing that we have so much space and green 10 minutes out of the city. As I drove a story came to me. I made my way home and gave it some space.

It's a peculiar state of mind. One part of my brain is so very focused on the story, finding the characters, the words, the conflicts; the other deals with buying bacon from the butcher, crossing the road, reasuring Boy I'm well. And then I sat down and wrote. I wrote from 1.30 to 5 pm. In that time I produced 3, 127 words. My first short story in 3 years. I have written a couple of poems and about 3 or 4 segments of prose, but this was the first proper short story I've written since my degree. I can't judge how good, bad or indifferent it is yet. This is just the first outpouring. What comes now is the hard slog. It needs editing; to get it into the shape I have in my head. This is the cruicial part. In many ways the writing is the easy part, it's literary diahorreah. What comes now is staying with the story, going over each and every word to ensure every sentence conveys my intention. This is the hard work.

I feel properly myself now. My creativity wasn't lost, it hadn't withered. It just needed some space.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Soap Box

I am without an employer. For me this is an opportunity to build the life I want. I am lucky enough to have a couple of opportunities for World Domination which I am pursuing like a greyhound goes after a mechanical rabbit. But for me personally, it means more than that. There are two areas in my life which have sadly whithered over the last couple of years and I need to get my gardening gloves out to nurture them back to full health.

The first is my education. I am one of the biggest supporters of Adult Education ever. Simply because the best things in my life have come about from my love of learning. I don't have a first-class brain, I will be honest with you there. Having studied and befriended people who are scarily intelligent, who process information and ideas as easily as they chew a museli bar, I know I'm not the best thinker ever. However, what I do have is an enquiring mind. I'm interested in everything and I believe in my ability to learn. This is why I'm able to go from cosmetics to ground source heat pumps in a single bound.

I had a conversation with my ex-H today about the difference between training and an education. I was ranting before I realised how strongly I feel about it, and how our school system is letting everyone down. Our schools and universities are focussing more and more on job preparation and less and less about education. Courses are being created around work-experience and job related experience. Now I don't have a problem with that per se, however, one of the things that struck me in the art college was the students attitude 'why do I have to do this course?' when confronted with the opportunity to learn something completely unrelated to their degree. Because it's interesting, because it will challenge you, because you will have the opportunity to learn something that you wouldn't normally think about in your daily life now and in the future.

Training. The learning associated with a profession or a job. GPs are trained, not educated. Their time at university is focussed soley on their profession. Which is why they have no idea about the wider world. They do their GCSEs, A levels and go straight into university. Do they have any understanding about socio-political issues that surround their patients? These will be informed by the choice of newspaper they decide to read, if they do at all. Is it any surprise they have no social skills?

Education. Learning something because it's interesting, might be useful, has no relevance to the student. Thirty years ago, Latin was drummed into grammar school students. Boring as fuck I'm sure. But I tell you what, I wish I had that opportunity. Someone who has been taught Latin has the immediate advantage over me, because they have grammatical building blocks which allow them to deconstruct and understand other foreign languages. Which is essentially why, people who speak 2 languages are able to pick up others really quickly. Me? I like communicating, I have no grasp of grammar, so for me, I make do with a reasonable vocabulary and depend on my body language to fill in the gaps.

The next few years I want to hone my analytical thinking. I want to explore theories and ideas which have no relevance to my employment, but which relate to me as an individual. I want to do an MPhil. The next few months will be about me kicking my brain into gear again. I did an exercise over the summer and even though I didn't get it, the process of doing it brought everything into sharp relief. There's no two ways about it learning is a really, really good thing for me.

A few weeks ago, I sat next to my book shelf and picked up the poetry I submitted for my degree. I was struck with a sense of disconnection. Did I really write this? Can I really do that? Write? I am so far adrift from my creative self now, I barely recognise it or believe it exists. And when I write this, believe me when I say I feel a real sense of panic. I feel as every day drifts past that I'm losing the most fundamental part of myself.

I'm breathing deeply through the terror, trying to calm myself down. I tell myself it's a muscle that hasn't been exercised. I haven't lost it. It's still there, waiting to flex. All there is to be done is to start off slowly again. There are writing exercises that I can do, I have a great camera to take out, there are buses to travel on.

Maybe that's the place to start again. Good grief, I think I'm about to go round again, not in a circle, but in a spiral. Will you keep me company? Please?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Annoying Ads

You might remember not so long ago, this ad really got up my nose.

My angst well and truly vented, I thought nothing more about it until this weekend, when it came on again.

With a different voiceover. A British voiceover. I had a look round here but couldn't find the new version.

So enjoy the original in all it's annoying glory. I won't miss it.