Archives for the month of: September, 2013

OK let me get this out the way… I’m having technical issues… I do not like the way that I have to faff to make a post and honestly, if I wanted double spacing or what ever I would use it. And I don’t like the blue they use. Nope. Finding the dashboard is a chore too. It’s distracts me every time I sit down to write.

There is a fly behind the curtains, I don’t even know how they keep getting in! I had to stop writing to chase it out of the house, but not before I had a moment watching it crawl over the glass looking for a way out. I couldn’t chase the thought that appeared cos the buzzing broke it. This is a blog about my Tickertapemind after all…

I need new terminology, but I’ll explain that in a different post. Perhaps.

I have some great things I would like to show you but I am unable because they are not live on-line yet. Which in some senses makes this a bit of a non-post. But it isn’t because of these:

1) Yo! Old friends! I had chance to catch up with some of your blogs. Looking good. Plenty of motion and gratitude in these pages and you know that I am responding to that, having been stuck in a rut this last month.

2) Yo! New friends! I see you too. It takes me a while to catch up, but I check out the blog of every new like and follower. I don’t like randomly as I have dyslexia and only follow blogs I think I can learn from, but it takes me time to honour that. Thank you for dropping by. :)

3) And a little brag… I kid you not… I liked a post by David Mack about a piece of work that he did with Neil Gaiman (there is your internet homework, you haven’t had some for a while so don’t complain!) I hope you find a picture of the finished product… Well I liked it and shared it on my FB wall and then David Mack himself liked my post. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :D Totally epic!

Tennessee by Arrested Development
Smells Like Teen Spirit by Patti Smith
Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu

If you only utube one song make it the last and get down, cos the booty don’t lie!

I had to turn down an invite to a gig today, because I can’t afford the £3 admission fee. A friend of mine posted an up-date saying she couldn’t afford the 35p to “upgrade from a sausage roll to a pasty”. One woman thought she was hilarious, whilst another said she felt depressed that she could only afford a 10p bag of crisps.

Look, this is miserable stuff. I had to admit to a friend that I could not longer invite people round for food because I can’t afford it. Never mind, “I can’t go out”. It’s partially my fault because I just ‘had’ to donate some money to #BLT, I love those guys. They make me feel like life is worth living.

This is what is known as Relative Poverty. Whilst we may not be starving, luxuries and some necessities are out of the question. I find myself in the fortunate position of having paid off some of my debts from the old place, I never knew moving would mean that suddenly my pay monthly would cease and all these companies would start threatening to take me to court!

Anyhoo… I can afford to heat my house (for now), I can afford to feed myself, I can just about afford to pay the rent. I live in relative safety and I know how to count my blessings, even if occasionally I do struggle to maintain a positive out look. Me and my fellow women can have affairs without threat of death, it’s not something I would choose to do, but if my ethics should slip and I get found out, the worst that might happen is a good thrashing from the other woman. Even then, I am reasonably protected against that.

Some women (yes, even in this country) are at risk of severe mutilation and disfigurement for much, much less. Some women have been stoned to death, for adultery, when in fact they were raped. So, imagine, you are living hand to mouth either because there is no food or because you can’t get access to food and then you are controlled by threat of death, repeatedly.

Suddenly our relative poverty looks like a bit of a joke and the woman was right to find the pasty update funny. Imagine that you live in a country were all the above is true and you make a mockery of all the freedoms you have by choosing to wear the veil. It disgusts me as much as women in the west who starve themselves in the name of fashion (read sexual desirability).

Imagine then, that some of your most staunch allies who are fighting with you, to free you from oppression are being called racist and are actively silenced by the so called ‘liberal left’ who love to posture about their benign magnificence when really all they are doing is getting in the way.

I stopped moderating a few on-line groups because I was regularly silenced. By women. I was called racist, I was told I was too aggressive and I was told that I was too academic. I left the group because I was getting increasingly frustrated and filled with doubt. I began to question what I knew to be true.

A day or so ago, I was engaged in a debate about the veil and I let loose my feelings yet again, expecting backlash. It didn’t come. Furthermore, someone posted a link to Anne Marie Water’s blog. It is a breath of fresh air to me. Suddenly I am not a silenced and solitary voice. Suddenly, the crazy that I feel, trying to fight my little battles in my corner of the world don’t seem so worthless. Suddenly, my integrity matters again.

And then, I received some feedback from an on-line survey, which I had forgotten about. It is full of hope and yet full of despair. But mostly it is full of promise. It might not be perfect, but there is a discussion happening and it’s increasingly including men. We owe it to support people engaged in the discussion even if we ourselves do not participate. I thought that I was tired, but I was just having a rest. I’m getting ready to climb back in the ring.

A break. The clouds slide apart and the fog ceases its slow descent, covering the mountain of my mind… Preparing to hunker in for a cold winter, despite my best efforts to keep the dark at bay… Soothing myself, it will be OK. This is a natural reaction to a stressful situation, you are not going crazy. Anyone would be blue in your shoes…

I told my boss that I could no longer volunteer with the Stroke Group. He listened to every thing that I had to say and as I finished, “She’s more interested in the end result than the process” we both looked at each other surprised. I am not known for process.  I was not known for process. He is going to observe a few sessions.

Then I got home, to find and email, inviting me to interview for one of the MOST AMAZING JOBS that I have ever applied for. Young Women’s Engagement Worker with the children of female offenders. Such an outstanding opportunity. I know that there is no guarantee that I will get the job, but at least I am not deluding myself about my skills. I got an interview.

1) She said, “You live life in orange but talk in blue”. At the time my response was honest. But right now struggling to sleep I am failing to keep a grip, my fingers are slipping.

2) I have pain in my shoulder, it’s a physical reminder of unfinished business.

3) I slept well last night after having burst a little bubble with the idiot neighbour. It felt really good to hoover at 7 am and sing “Ramases Callosus!” at the top of my voice. You will not fuck up my sleep and then have a lay in.

4) Too right Saul Williams, I have a list of demands! They are not written on the palm of my hands, they are branded into my heart and I forgot what they were, now I can’t read them because of all the scar tissue.

5) Yeah, telling my Aunt to fuck off was liberating. She called and started swearing, talking shit about Nans will. When I told my mum, she said she was proud of me. Said my Aunt needed to know she was talking to a woman not a child. I still feel like a child. It made me sad when she said she missed me. I think I prefer it when we argue so I don’t have to acknowledge how much it hurts her living hundreds of miles away.

6) Yes my friend you were right, I do have issues, but they were not daddy ones and I don’t need you to fix them. You play the car game and it’s not funny anymore. If you want me in the car let me open the door, if not drive away. Or what the hell is wrong with me, why aren’t I walking away?

7) Back to not allowing hugs from certain folk because… because… because…

8) All the motivations I make mean nothing.  If I want something I walk through fire and move mountains to get them. I’m not fighting for shit. And I thought I was tired of fighting and needed respite, but at least I knew I was alive. Not that I want to punish my self, no no no… I’m through with that. Or am I?

9) I thought I was frightened too, but I think the only thing I am scared of is ridicule. I find myself ridiculous. I don’t really care that much what most people think of me.

10) This is the last time I lay awake thinking about that woman… I can’t tolerate the way she talks to people. Last week she punished me for offering the clients tea ten minutes before they where due a break, the clients noticed the interaction and I couldn’t hold my professionalism together long enough to wriggle out of it. I hid. I spent the whole session in a different room, when I could just as easily have performed my task in the main hall. Anything so I didn’t have to listen to her kvetching about the clients ‘doing it all wrong’. This class is not mandatory, they are not children and this is fucking art!

11) I wanted to cry. I want a cigarette, but I wanted to cry. Because of new neighbour I didn’t, I didn’t want to wake her, I wanted to fucking howl the place down. So I got up, and by the time I got downstairs I just wanted the cigarette. And now I have stuck tears. This is bullshit. I have keys to my friends house, I could literally break into her house and steal some tobacco, I wouldn’t want to give her hear attack though.

12) I’m reading old writing… perhaps it isn’t wise at the moment.

13) Yes, I know that you have defriended me on FB and the truth is I couldn’t care less. I know why. It doesn’t reflect well on you. Hu-fucking-rah! I made some progress.

14) GOD DAMMIT! Yet more application forms with no sign of interviews, no responses to the funding queries and the money I saved from working is all gone. Gone, gone, gone.

I want to be anywhere but here. Or nearly anywhere, I am not so broken as to court disaster… but seriously, something has to give before I do.

A friend of mine posted a link to a site called Beard Pornography. A range of emotions raced through me as I scrolled through pictures of men with well coiffured beards. Some had hairy chests, some had tattoos, some were scene-sters or hipsters, bikers, models, greasers, normal blokes with a beard… Some were holding animals.

My adrenalin did race. I am more inclined to respond to a hairy male than one with out fuzz. And today’s fashions are not beard friendly on mass, or if men do wear beards they are far too young for me, older men now going beardless or just not taking care of basic ablutions. I have been single for quite some time.

After scrolling for about five minutes, my breath was taken away by one man. I literally sucked air into my lungs like I’d just been revived. The image was so well composed, the light amazing, the posturing erm… manly. Crikey. He was lovely. Is lovely, well looked lovely. How do you know from a photograph?

Then like an idiot I realised that I was more drawn to the pictures that displayed a hairy chest, so I typed hairy chest porn into Google, really not thinking about the word ‘porn’ in it’s ‘un-ironic’ sense. I got what I asked for and had to close the search results PDQ I can tell you.

Jokingly, I said to my friends that I wouldn’t do it again, or at least next time I would exclude the word ‘porn’ from the search. Which I did. That really just brought up sites full of soft porn. This, amongst feeding back to friends on a social networking site, took 1/2 hour.

And there ends my tale… or does it. I got ‘bored’ quite quickly, I realised this was unfulfilling and the no speaking and no touching thing just made me feel a little lonely. What do men (and women) who use porn do? Is it a conscious decision to push aside those feelings? I’m not judging, Germaine Greer used to be a pornographer and my own relationship with it is more complex than I care to go detail here…

So what was it that got under my skin so much that I rejected it, so quickly? Was it because some of them look like the kind of man I could really go for, and that sailed too close to the wind? Do we need our porn stars to look like porn stars, so that in our minds we can detach them from real life, we can then view them like grown up cartoons, they are not real? Because deep down inside we KNOW we are objectifying these people. Do porn stars understand this and have a similar relationship with their own looks?

Do some people use porn to disgust themselves a little bit? I have so many questions like this… Would you ever be able to get a true response from people as to why they use porn, even if they were self aware… I’ve been reading “We Need To Talk About Kevin” (which I highly recommend), the author suggests that parents who try to protect their children from harmful images are fighting a tsunami, and that they need to teach their children how to interpret what they are seeing. I agree with some reserve.

DSCI4385 DSCI4383

Day Two… 2 minute picture on the left and 15 minute picture on the right. The phallic like object on the right, is a watcher with a shadow! (Google Another Place by Gormley.) I had a bit of a skill fail. And the wings on the flying thing, they are gold.

DSCI4368 DSCI4371

Two paintings a day, for 21 days. One in two minutes, one in 15. Let’s see what happens!

I know. According to me there is no god. But that does not stop us from learning lessons laid out in religious texts. Jihad, is not just about mental mullahs issuing Jihad upon, well let’s not go there. Jihad is also a personal struggle.

Whilst working in the hostels I had some Muslim clients, mostly they were more concerned about finding somewhere to live than religious practice and most were unsurprisingly disaffected. A few though believed that they had done something wrong.

They thought deeper religious practice and study would once again grant them god’s favour. One lad started to wear bandanas with guns on them; when asked about this he said casually, “Jihad”. At that time I had little concept of what that might mean and had to defer to another colleague, who just happened to Muslim. He explained that his Jihad was not to defend the faith, but to find a home and a job.

Today I went to the Stroke Group, where people who are rehabilitating after strokes go to erm, rehabilitate. They usually learn how to do creative things, mostly simple things so that they can a) learn how to use their arms and legs again, b) develop language again and c) re-route any other neural networks that were damaged during the stroke, like memory for example.

It is common for people to dehumanise other people who are “not all there”. Whether that be a physical or mental impairment or like my ex-client a social impairment. Before tragedy struck all of these people were real human beings with real thoughts and emotions and real ideas about the future.

Those thoughts, feelings and ideas did not suddenly go away. When my ex-client became homeless, his family did not just <poof> into thin air, his great school grades did not suddenly slide to a fail, and his future aspirations remained strong in his mind.

There is a tendency for some, to treat people who are rehabilitating as if they are children and avoid difficult conversations. When the group was talking today, one said there was a group for carers and wondered out loud what they did. I said they probably cracked open a few bottles and had a party. Everyone laughed. They live with their carers they know how hard it can get sometimes…

This opened up the flow of conversation somewhat and as people began to chat one man said that he missed sex. Now as a volunteer I can say a little bit more than a paid worker but I still have to maintain good boundaries. I felt so frustrated.

I wanted to tell him that even though he had problems with his physicality and his memory, he still had a wife and children and that I would gladly negotiate terms with any deity going to sacrifice something I had to have a loving partner. I wanted to tell him that even though he joked about not being able to jump off wardrobes anymore, he had an opportunity to connect with his wife in a different way.

And probably more meaningful and more satisfying at that. I wanted to explain that penetration was not the be all and end all of a sexual relationships. I wanted to reassure him that one day, he would experience an orgasm again, even if the ‘traditional’ parts of the brain had been damaged. Mostly, I wanted to soothe him and say, you are not broken. You are merely learning how to reconnect with your life.

Jihad, is a personal struggle and ultimately that struggle is to lead a more authentic way of life, free from evil and suffering and persecution. His is clearly to come to terms with his new life and to learn gratitude for what remains of his old life, in order to say to people who think he is any less of a man, “What!? You think there is something wrong with me, have you looked in a mirror recently?”

My Jihad? I’m still working that one out.

What’s yours?

I’ve been thinking things through…

1) There is no need to worry about eating meat. Although there are plenty of spiritual traditions that hold only vegitarians have the purity to elevate to certain levels, there are plenty who say nothing on the matter.

Oh, I’m not in a list mood. I’m in a playful mood. I did some research on Women’s Meditation practices in Tibet, and then did more research on Dakini, and then I listened to some music… I provoked my friend, who just loves to dwell in the muck and filth of life, and scorns me because he thinks I’m a bit ‘Pollyanna’… Trust me on this one, I am not.

If anything I am a practical person… I finished sanding two peg looms that I made today. I am going to make things, textile type things. This pleases me.

So the god thing. It doesn’t matter. However much people say it matters, it really doesn’t. The world is not any less filled with awe without god. We are all atoms, we are all made from stars, and when we die we return to our natural state and become part of something else. Now why is that any less spectacular as any of the worlds creation myths? I’m cool which ever story you like to tell, but I hold my right to tell my own story.

I watched another video that challenged me to do a painting. 8 colours, one a day for 20 days and I can only take 2 mins to make it. It has to be A2 size. But I reckon I’ll use A3 (English)… see cheating already. When I get myself tied up in knots about things, it’s easy to fall into a funk, so sod it. Buddhist, not Buddhist who cares, pass me a paint brush.

I’m the kid that just made a sand castle, and he came and kicked it over. He doesn’t want to play he says, but the very act of coming and interacting even negatively with me, betrays the fact that he does want to play. Either he thinks he needs rules or he doesn’t know how to describe the game he wants me to play. What am I going to do?

Yeah! Build another sand castle, and if he wants to kick this one in fine, I might just kick him if he does though…

Erykah Badu: Didn’t Cha Know
India Arie: I See God In You
Macy Gray: Beauty In The World
Laura Mvula: Human Nature

In as many days, two people have told me “You’re emotional”. It was not intended as an insult. Although I know I am in a state of flux, I didn’t realise I was literally pinging around inside my own body and appearing jittery to people.

I am not mentally ill. I have to say this, because some of the difficulties that I am having look a lot like mental illness. I am ill at ease (some new age types like to stress disease like so: dis-ease). I don’t go in for stuff like that. I have a degree in science, and although I have the utmost respect for religion and those who choose to follow it, I do not believe in god.

I am in the process of renouncing Buddhism. This is not a crisis of faith, I have been there. It was a scarey and desolate place and was filled with depression and suicidal ideation.  I took the tablets, did therapy, read a degree, started a career with homeless people and rarely look back. For years I struggled with loneliness, but I didn’t and don’t mind being alone. Two very different things.

So far so normal right!? Here’s the thing. It is upsetting me. It is causing more upset than the thought of renouncing a family did, when I thought I might start studying Buddhism seriously. I didn’t study seriously. I went no where. I’ve started to eat meat again, and I’m thinking what is the deal here?

I don’t meditate, rarely recite mantra, haven’t studied for years, and now I am eating meat. I jokingly started to refer to myself as a Baddhist. The worst Buddhist like the worst witch (a popular children’s book). And although I’m not in a relationship, it is not for the want of trying…

So what is the point I ask myself. I can live ethically and humanisticly with out the Buddhism. I can maintain all the positive elements of Buddhism with out the ritual and drama that I don’t blooming well adhere to anyway! Hello secularism…

It’s a cold and heartless place sometimes, but at least there are no fanatics (as long as you discount the Dawkins lot who have made quite an artform out of aggressive athiesm). One of my reasons for giving Buddhism the slip, is its inherent sexism, it’s completely at odds with my Feminist politics. I once had a spiritual guide, who advised me to study Green Tara, but didn’t know what Dakini is. Dunderhead!

And then… I decided to befriend (on facebook) someone I met through a mutual friend in 2009. He remarked with surprise that I was very independent when I chose to travel to a festival on my own, as I had decided to visit friends on the way. He thought he had to help women (me) understand. And yet he is a walking paradox, he understands that gender is a social construct.

He was a Buddhist monk; I never got to the bottom of whether he left or was kicked out of the monastery. Either is entirely possible. He was misogynistic before he went into the monastery and carried on in the same vein when he came out. He is deeply attractive, in almost every sense. He drives me nuts with the way he views women and yet I want to know what he knows.

Funny how I am studying the Taras again. Specifically red and blue. The further I walk away from Buddhism, the closer I get, it’s like being trapped in an M.C. Escher painting. I have a stronger desire to meditate than I have for months. I feel this dichotomy is going to drive me insane. Indeed, the Blue Tara mantra is secret (they say), I reckon I’ve found it. They say, that if you recite it without knowing what you are doing you can break your mind.

Well, here goes!