Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Writing Communities

photo credit: Cappucino

I've just returned home from two meetings: one with my writing group buddies and another with a writing friend from a previous writing group. Both meetings filled me with ideas and inspiration. It is wonderful to sit and have cups of tea or coffee with those who talk the same language, who know about the ins and outs, joys and hardships of writing, sending out work, of acceptance and rejection. And today the talk proved as good as always, and with the specific concerns and new tidbits of information: which tv programs are worth tuning into, new websites and competition deadlines, agent updates, an adaptation of a bestseller to a film, applications for new jobs, finding time to write when you have children.  One friend has recently started to use Twitter and is loving the connections it brings. Another is brushing up a synopsis for her third novel. I sit in wonder at both the idea of a third novel and at putting oneself out there on Twitter!  My other friend is wrestling with revision of her novel while also editing work for an anthology.  All in all I felt inspired by their work and continuing commitment to writing. 

I don't find it easy to stay indoors on a day like today, one which falls in a line of days where the mist and fog and low-hanging cloud creates a damp and dim autumn. Indoors one has to switch on lights that normally only go on at dark.  I feel moody and itching to get out when I'm in the house in day time with lights on.  It's as if something doesn't quite fit.  And today I was fortunate to have meetings with colleagues I also call my friends. A chance to meet in kitchens and cafes. Friendships that have formed over a decade or more of tussle with words and editing, characters and titles and all the technical elements of the prose and poetry we write.  Today my offering was a stack of poems, a shortlist of pieces I dug out to share at a reading I will be doing next week.  It was fruitful to sift through pieces and talk them over, to talk about why or why not I might want to structure a reading to include newly-written work.  As always, the discussion proved to be part of the process and I came home feeling supported and guided by my fellow writers.

My writing community is invaluable, so much so that at one point in my life it was the only thing keeping me resident in the geographical location I found myself in.  The community I have built around me has become solid and full. In pairs, threes, quads and larger groups, we have allowed for a space, for each other to share work and to watch it change and shapeshift into the finished pieces we then send out into the world. We allow for connection and through connection, the building of a commonly-held and much needed community.

  

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Osh Market, Bishkek



This morning we went to Osh Market before the heat became overwhelming.  We walked up the cracked and crumbling steps, past the locals at the front selling white tutu hair puffs for school girls, luggage, magazines and handkerchiefs, and into a system of narrow alleyways. Into and under a mosaic of brightly coloured scarves strung at angles to keep out the sun, a canopy we zig zagged through as we walked. 

Aisle upon aisle of men and women, their brown skins and wide cheekbones distinguishing them from their ex-soviet countrymen. Children and babies crowded in the throng, holding hands or each other. Bundles of dried noodles stacked higher than us, spices overflowing in colourful heaps from shot glasses: fire-engine red chili powders, amber ground cumin, purple garlic, feathered dill and bunches of fresh coriander. At several adjoining stalls plump bunches of grapes were strung up with pink gift wrapping ribbon above pyramids of golden and red 'bald peaches'. There were crates upon crates of almonds, walnuts from the forests nearby, brazil nuts still in their rough shells, yellow, black and purple dates, bright fuschia-coloured berries to soak and boil, dried salted fish. The air was heavy with the hum of wasps clustering on amber rock sugar, honeyed nuts, it was heavy with ripe tomato and melon, heavy with the smell of fields and earth and heat.



We wove around and through, into the center of the market where we found rice, lentils, beans, sacks the size of large dogs: whole wheat and buckwheat, cornstarch and white flour ground so finely it looked like face powder or the purest ash. Up the metal stairs, we were above the bustle, with women and girls fingering bolts of fabric from Turkey, Korea and who knows where else: wool and viscose, cotton, denim and cordouroy in burnt oranges and blacks, torquoise and royal purples, scarlet lace, creams and whites delicate for brides, zippers in stacks like tiny coloured teeth. At each purchase, a negotiation: heads to the side, some scowling, a nod and a handing over of blue or red or silver som then a спасибо, спасибо (spasibo, thank you). 

Back downstairs and outside rows upon rows of flat, golden bread, endless barrels of dried cheese, shaped, they say, by rolling into a ball beneath an armpit, on others, the fingerprints still visible in their husked shapes--as delicate and as ridged as small white leaves.

I've come away with an entire feeling for this city.  All things today have been remarkable: the sliding yet stuttery throat vowels of Kyrgyz or Russian, the fruit-ripe air and dust, the shining heat on my bare shoulders at 100 / 36 degrees and the snow covered mountain peaks in the backdrop like a mirage, where we will be heading in another day's time.

 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Arrival, Kyrgyz Republic

The day began as I wish all days would: me waking with the very first dawn light, but today I saw the dawn from 33,000 feet. I'd been watching the few, sporadic lights on the ground as our plane flew over Uzbekistan, then I dozed off to my Indigo Girls playlist. When I woke, the blue-black night was feinter, the orange blinking wing-tip light grown dimmer too. On the horizon ahead, a line of blood-orange red. Over the next half hour the line turned a thick yellow, then oranger but the sky lightened only at this seam where it slowly held all the colours: indigo at the top of the stripe / blue, a line as pencil-drawn / greenish-yellow then a magenta orange with just the border of sky caught alight with the still invisible sun. And then
he rose
a flash of sun so sudden, blinding I jerked back from the small curved window so my friend in the seat beside me said, what, what?  
The sun's awake, I said.

After a full day of arrival whose remarkable things included:
  • The most packed and badly-driven roads I've experienced so far in my life
  • Hot, enveloping fullness of Kyrgyz summer (even on its way out) after all the English rain last week
  • An airport where our plane was the only arrival so far
  • Harry, the beautifully statuesque and nearly translucent hairless cat climbing me like a tree to say hello

--the day came to an end just as well as it began. After a wonderful dinner ouside in the evening air, with mint lemonade, skewers of chicken and beef, deep fried bread and aubergine salads, my newly made friend said, Look at the sky. Sunset in the clouds, a pale blue with indigo spreading its ink, a hint of tangerine fading to black. A warm breeze in the cooling evening, a fitting end to my first day in the furthest east I've ever been.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

River Walk at Maidenhead


Last night I finally did my homework for the third session of our Tidemarks and Timelines course at the Poetry School: walk along a river and see things, all the while noting them down but without putting any of our own memories of feelings into it, at least at first.  This was inspired by a lovely passage from Hopkins's Journals about the sea.

The location for my walk was a bit of a last minute decision.  Originally I had planned to do a long walk beside the Thames from central London outward, but then changed my mind.  I live in its more rural reaches and didn't think a city river walk would feel akin to my writing at the moment. (Even though we had a brilliant outing to the Thames Barrier at the weekend and I took copious notes).  After discarding the city walk idea I thought I'd like to make a visit to Teddington Lock, the boundary of sorts where the Thames becomes tidal, but Tuesday evening rush hour and the intermittent downpours of rain made me think yet again.  Then the suggestion of walking along the river at Maidenhead.

All day yesterday I had been struggling with a poem about summer.  I kept coming up against my known cliched thoughts: I only seem to be able to write about summer in Florida, never summer anywhere else in the world.  The imagery and experiences from my youth and the repeated trips home are so strong and I had yet to find any other imagery as potent.  With this in mind, I set off for the walk around 6pm, the air already zinging with midges and the sky a blanket of ever darkening rain clouds.  Good, I thought, interesting weather!

Along the way I took notes, it seemed easy to jot down sensory information in front of me and it was a nice relief not to think too much about what any one thing meant.  It was curious to notice what I was writing down too: oh yes, my obsession with signage, birds, water and trees in general filled quite a few pages in jarred scrawl as I walked and occasionally sat and did my seeing.



This morning, as soon as I woke, I took the notes and shaped them into something which really surprised me.  As I worked with the words, I found a river language for here, for the Thames, that was totally unlike the language I have used in the lots and lots of river writing I had done over the last decade about my favourite river in Florida.  The Thames brought out crisp and colourful words, and as I typed I saw a landscape arrive on the page that felt new.  Nowhere did I write about the summer and yet summer was everywhere in the detail.  What a gift this walk has brought me.  And another one too...

My friend came along on the walk yesterday and as I wrote he took photos, of what I wasn't sure, until today when I opened the files.  Each of the ways of seeing I had done with pen and paper he had done with a camera, down to the smallest detail.


Friday, 18 July 2014

Tides, times, summer writing...

Last night I woke up with heat around me like a thick blanket and I thought, it's going to storm.  The air was too Florida-like to avoid lightning and sure enough, sometime around 3am I woke to a huge flash outside the window, the first of many, and then low tremble and growl for the next hour or more.  There is something so satisfying about sleeping through storm like this.  As a child I remember feeling so safe when I'd wake in the night and hear a thunderstorm.  And last night was the same. Not that I hadn't been feeling safe, but there's an extra layer of weather around the house, around the dark room, around my body as it lays beneath the sheet listening for the distance between flash and thunderclap.

It was a temporary break in the gathering heat.  And I woke up this morning thinking of the word 'gathering' and how I seem to be using it a lot lately when I write.  Yesterday was the first session of Tidemarks and Timelines, Fawzia Kane's Poetry School course and I'd signed up months in advance, looking forward to writing about water and sky.  On my way home on the train yesterday, just as the sky was gathering the day to a close, I thought about darkness and light, about how I wanted to write about darkness and the comfort in it, about night.  So it was apt timing to wake in the dark and hear storm last night.  Around 5am I even got up, or rather, took a moment to find my glasses, heave the cats off of me and crawl out of bed to the window, to see light paling the sky to a whitish-grey like chalk sometimes can look.  But the storm had gone and the sky was too full of cloud to get a good look at any thing.  So I went back to sleep briefly and when I woke up, and gathered the energy to get up, I came here to the screen, to put down words, to start thinking about the themes we will explore in the course, but also to continue thinking about other themes in my writing.  So, here's a step toward that...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Power Ballads and Summertime


I've recently returned from a holiday in beautiful Snowdonia.  The landscape and days out got me revved up to get outside and play upon returning home.  And that has partially been true; even when I'm at home and working I've opened every window and the tree outside my study rustles in the breeze and every so often one of our robins comes to look in curiously...

The landscape in this photo is in such contrast to being back otherwise: no rugged mountains and changing mountain weather forecasts, no lazy Welsh mountain roads. The M25's fumy heat when stuck in yet another queue could not be less inspiring.  Yesterday though, when I found myself stuck in such a queue, I reached for my book of cds for some inspiration to keep me from a motorway-car-craze.  Recently, I dredged the very depths of my cd collection and had decided to put cds from which I couldn't remember the songs into my cd-car-carrier so I could listen and remember.  And yesterday's random motorway pick: Celine Dion, Let's Talk About Love.

What a throwback!  And this cd, I am somewhat ashamed to say, is one of only two albums I bought in multiple formats: first I owned the cd and then on one particularly long car trip through Florida somewhere back at the end of the 90's, I was bored out of my head so I stopped at a gas station and lo-and-behold, there was the album on tape, which I already owned and (at the time) loved, so I thought, 'what the hey' and got it on cassette.  Those were the days of driving through Tampa traffic in my awesome, unbeatable first car: a baby blue, HUGE 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.  Oh yes, bench seats, a wobbly speedometer, a faux leather steering wheel cover and a bitchin' cassette deck.  I recall jamming my way through most of the state to that Celine tape...

...the same album I pulled out randomly yesterday and popped into my cd player in the midst of unmoving traffic somewhere between junctions on the M25. I didn't remember any of the songs, had even forgotten the gooey Titanic theme song was on the album, but I had a vague memory that there were two songs I was obsessed with long ago: one involving a violin solo that made me want to learn violin just to play it and another with deep and of course emotional connections to unrequited, or probably the more-likely, unknown nature of love in my late teens / early twenties.

Sure enough, by the time I got close to my destination yesterday, I was hitting 'repeat' on that violin solo song once again and belting out the tunes in perfect unison (of course) with the grand diva herself.  Nowadays I'm not so much a fan of Celine's English-speaking work but do still, admittedly, love her French albums: just bought one of the newer ones last month, and they always keep me hooked.  Love her, hate her or just feel annoyed by her, nevertheless, that album from the days of yore got me through yet another long and frustrating drive, though it wasn't quite the same without my lovely and enormous bombshell of a car, 'Babe'.

Not my exact car but close!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Jogging and Blogging (and Marking)


As Spring hesitantly turns toward a Summery-type of weather, I decided today that, rather than go to the gym as per usual on a Friday, I'd head out the door for a jog.  A good way to continue to acquaint myself with the local area.  There were glorious moments of sunshine though mostly very cold breeze, not as conducive to asthmatic breathing as the warm gym conditions, but today I wanted to listen to the birds, the traffic, and to get some fresh air after a particularly long two weeks with a very heavy work load.

Today was marking transition day, a fulcrum as it were, between handing in the first batch of marked poetry portfolios (51 in total) to receiving the next batch of 42 drama scripts, short stories, opening chapters of novels or poetry sequence submissions.  The transition means the handwritten, green-inked feedback for the first university is done and now on to the online forms and digital submissions for the online university.  But fear not: I finally have a new tablet and will travel to cafes across the county to give myself a change of scenery while marking.

The brain fog I have been in, correction, the brain thunderstorm I have been in (it gathers while marking, it grumbles and crashes and rages havoc) will have a moment to clear this weekend while I actually get to have two days off in a row.  Alas, not the third, bank holiday day, but oh well, bank holidays can't interrupt exam marking!  Then the new storm shall begin and by the end, exhausted, tormented, somewhat enlightened and hopefully a bit inspired, I shall turn my attention to my own writing again.   In the meantime, jogging has gotten me out of the house, tuned to vitamin D and breathing away the post-portfolio anvil head clouds...and as per usual it slicked up the writing wheels.

There's nothing for the writing quite like moving: driving, dancing, walking, running, moving around.  And as soon as I switch off my work brain and start to move, the words, phrases and lines start to float into my clear-sky head like a lovely soft breeze that brings petals or a few leaves sweeping in.

Perhaps this weekend will include some writing.  I'm certainly inspired to keep reading and doing some more writing from the images on visualverse.org

Remarkable Things
  • giant hail stones in the grass looking like lemony sweets
  • cat 2 sleeping through my skype call without having a go at me
  • a GIANT coffee to celebrate being halfway through the marking


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Biology 101...digging near the fence

'Walter', urtica dioica and rumex obtusifolius

I spent the majority of today out in the lovely sun weeding the garden.  It's the first opportunity I've had to get out and assess what's been happening out there since I bedded everything down for winter.  Over near one of our fences is a long plot of earth, excavated by me in baking hot sun last August.  I spent about four days in this two foot deep, ten foot long plot hacking back the enormous blackberry bush that had completely taken over the length of that end of the garden (all in total probably about 25 feet of bramble, over half of it still in existence).  During this strenuous and exhausting dig last summer, we unearthed the head of an enormous bone, a bone much larger than my fist and we dug it up from beneath that fence.  It had been tucked behind brambles and a rusty oil drum and I knew right away I would keep it.

I already have quite a collection of found bones: jaw bone from a seal, small bird bones, a collection of exoskeletons from crabs etc, and the memory of the one that got away--a fully intact sheep skull found when walking on the isle of Vatersay last year (I didn't have anything to carry it in and I needed both hands to steady myself along some precarious, high ground so I had to leave the skull behind).  But this bone, the one dug up beneath our fence, this bone...was Walter. I named him affectionately after my favourite scene from one of my favourite films of all times, 'The Burbs', all the while feeling slightly odd at the size of this bone and that it too, like the one in the film, came from underneath the fence shared with a neighbour... (I suspect that Walter is actually the remains of a dog bone bought for the German Shepherd that used to live in this house, but you never know...)

Anyway, today while digging along the same fence line where we found Walter, it struck me over and over how amazing it is that nettles and dock leaves grow alongside one another.  My recently weeded patch of earth was starting to reproduce just as many as I'd dug up last summer, although luckily for me these were still very small and easy to dislodge.  The dock leaves had grown quickly and the nettles much more slowly, so that each grouping of them appeared as if the dock leaves were actually sheltering the nettles.  A symbiotic relationship perhaps?  And today lots of things started appearing in pairs: my two cats playing with a bottle cap out in the grass, our pair of mating robins busy building an unseen nest, pairs of socks drying on the line in the sun, two buckets filled with weeds, two children playing next door at a game which involved one passing a secret note down from the upstairs window to the one on the ground, two earthworms desperate to get back in the ground, me and Walter out in the garden.

What a wonderful day to be outside, breathing fresh fresh air in the sun, digging, planting seeds, getting close up to look at the buds on the trees. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Peut-être que l'hiver ne l'aurait pas brisée / Maybe the winter would not have broken



Today my teaching day seemed very very long indeed: two poetry seminars separated by a much-needed two-hour break in which to feed and nourish myself--cottage pie in the postgrad / staff cafe and a blissful read of my current detective novel. But each side of lunch was a whopper of a class--roughly twenty students in each group and three-quarters of these staunchly 'not poets', or so they declared last week at the start of lessons.  I won't go into details but let's just say that by 4pm I was exhausted and ready for home...and then I remembered that I'd promised myself I'd go to the gym after work.  

I drove back toward home longing to put my feet up and have a nap but decided to go anyway as the gym is right on my way home and it was getting difficult to ignore the nagging feeling that I hadn't been in over a week due to last week's back-to-term workload.

And thankfully I did go.  Given my exhaustion I decided not to do my regular jogging / weights routine but to swim. And I realised as I took my first huge breath and pushed off the side, head under, that I hadn't swum properly in...well, years I think!  I had been a regular at my previous gym for a number of years, only using the pool there, but I know it has been, at best guess, 3-4 years since I last swam in a way that was more deliberate than doggy paddling or treading water or soaking in a hot tub.

Lap after lap I looked at my hands under water, remembering how, in the early years of my writing group, I'd brought a poem about swimming and how my hands looked beneath the surface as they came together and separated, came together again and again, propelling me forward. It felt good, it felt great to move through water, to breathe in rhythm to my own strokes and to focus on nothing but this...

and the day just fell away.  All of the stress of new classes, their worries about poetry and my own worries about this.  My exhaustion fell away, the heaviness that this winter has brought with the flooding and blowing down of our fence (twice) of the decisions on whether to insulate the loft and how and when, of redecorating the house and always being busy busy busy.  In the pool there was stillness, there was peace: an abstraction we talked about today in class: peace.  But I found it and it didn't feel abstract.  It felt full and as warm as the water in the pool.  It felt as if, as suddenly as I've begun to recognise that the days are getting longer and the light lighter, as if winter had broken...all because I took some time out to breathe and look at my hands.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Sleepy lizards and live birth

This photo thanks to Craig's blog: http://craigallen.net.au/blog/item/sleepy_lizard
 
As I veer into another consecutive day of marking academic essays, I have been thinking about what it means to stick to one task for a long time, longer than I need to.  Commitment.  Well, of sorts.  And I'm struck by last night's quality viewing.  We are halfway through watching Life in Cold Blood, the wonderful David Attenborough series from 2008.  As a lover of animals of almost every variety, I sat down fully prepared to be engaged and interested in the lives of lizards and amphibians and I was grateful for the fact that we'd finished Life in the Undergrowth as I was a bit squeamish about some of the nefarious ant-tactics and wasp relationships of insects.  Big sigh, on to animals with backbones...and I do love lizards.

But I was not at all prepared to be awestruck by these scaly creatures...most of all the sleepy lizard of Australia. I knew absolutely nothing about this creature until yesterday, least of all that it is one of the few cold-blooded creatures to give birth to live offspring instead of laying eggs.  (The episode we watched included a chameleon giving birth to live tiny ones high up in a tree too).

When it comes to commitment the sleepy lizards win all prizes.  Not only are they romantic creatures, they pair for life and stick together through lots of harsh reality.  A scene I found really distressing was one of a long term pair mourning the loss of its recently dead partner.  As these lizards love to lie in the road and sun themselves, death is a reality all too often.  The mourning lizard stayed by his dead partner for days, in the road, head butting it and checking it over.  Now this, I thought, is true commitment. Commitment of a type far beyond my commitment to sticking with marking difficult essays for another day when I could easily set it aside for now and come back to it next week.

I'm moved by the sleepy lizard as well as some of the deeply intriguing behaviours of others in the lizard suborder. And most of all I'm glad that yesterday contained surprise and awe, if even at a nature documentary.  Can't wait to see what Attenborough has in store for the next episode.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Over a giant mug of coffee...

After a morning of note taking I'm having a quick flex of the writing muscles before launching into a first draft of my next PhD chapter on 'Voice'. 

In the past few weeks I've been immersed in theory that really excites me. Particularly relevant to my chapter are the concepts of narratology, the science behind narrative.  A brilliant introductory book I found includes many intriguing charts, diagrams and circle graphs from multiple theorists on the subject.  In this one book it's as if science, or at least math, has merged with literary theory for awhile and this pleases my organised approach to unpicking my argument. 

Here is my favourite figure from the book--F.K. Stanzel's typology of 'all narrative situations conceivable' (!!!!)




It reminds me of a giant colour wheel I once worked with in a watercolour painting class except without the colour!

No time to work out whether he really does cover all conceivable narrative situations but there certainly are many to muse over this afternoon...



 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Here-ness

In a bid to finally upgrade my car stereo from cassette to cd / mp3, I thought I would give myself the (surely) manageable task of listening to every single cassette tape I owned and to get rid of (recycle) most of them.  During this process I've come across a six-part series of tapes by the poet David Whyte called 'Clear Mind, Wild Heart'.  At one point I had listened to this series so many times I had sections of it memorised, but at best count, it's probably been about 6 years since I last listened to it.

And listening in the past two weeks it has been like the first time all over again.  The poems that struck me on the many other listens had me again.  But the main thought I was left with as I finished the final section, on a dusky drive up the M25, was the 'here-ness' Whyte talks about.  The last words before the final Rumi poem are:

'Wherever we are is Here. And this here-ness is the taste, the essence, the very marrow of life.'  

Over the weeks I'd been listening to the tapes I'd found myself deeper in thought about my own writing, my poetry.  I've been so immersed in the world of PhD academic writing that my own poetry has taken a back seat in the past few months.  Suddenly I found myself writing regularly again in the early mornings and regularly thinking about what it means to be 'here', where I am right now in the world, in my writing, in my life.  And I don't mean for this to sound like a thought about just 'me' really.  It felt more like a thought about attention and what type of attention I give to the world.  How I choose to be a part of the global community in this 21st century world.

To make a long story short, I felt the need to start my blog again, to take up writing about what interests me and what matters: sustainable living, wildlife, poetry, wellness.  And so many other things we share as human beings--love, grief, joy, sorrow...but above all, life.  What goes on around us.

Looking forward to sharing with others and making new observations about this 'marrow of life'.








Monday, 11 June 2012

Is it spring or is it summer?


It is pouring rain out today, absolutely pouring it down and my favourite two seagulls, affectionately named Bernadette and Harold, are over on the neighbour's roof as usual having a total bask in the shower.  First they hopped around and drank from puddles, then then groomed and plucked at their feathers and now, as you can see here, they have settled down.  Shame you can't see the heavy rain in the photo cause it makes it all so much more surreal.  Drove home this morning through torrential rain too but with lots of good tunes playing loud in the car.

Remarkable Things

1). No matter how hard I try I just can't seem to impersonate a seagull cry.  Too tricky.
2). My cats watching Harold and Bern out the window like hawks.
3). Just finished work early today and now have time to write.
4). Tons of tiny green baubles on the bush, soon they will be purple black currants, ready to eat.
5). Collecting wild flowers from a lawn before mowing.  I've always loved doing this.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cause something comes over me when the beat goes


After an evening meeting in London and a slow train ride home through the sunset I got back and felt a bit as if I wanted to 'do' something, but I wasn't sure what...and then I remembered...I've been meaning to get back to my blog.  Viola, so.

This evening I've been thinking about mix tapes.  All the cassette tapes I've made friends and family and lovers over the years.  The whole lovely process of the thing, from choosing the right songs, which of course you have to be in the right mood to do, to then selecting the length of tape required (60 min, 90 min, or the biggie: 120 min) and then getting the order of the songs just right.  At least a few of you will know what I mean by this process.  It is a creative endeavour not to be taken lightly.  A type of energy and focus much like writing a poem. 

So I was thinking about the last time I made a mix tape, back when my tape deck actually still worked and I was taping songs from cds onto tape because I didn't have a way to make a mix cd.  Yes, back in the dinosaur age.  And then I thought about mix cds and I realised that I have recently made one for my mother from lots of songs on my laptop.  And then I thought about all the emails I've sent to friends with links to songs and then of course this blog, which for me is a lot like making a mix with a collage of song and word and image.  This blog almost always begins with a song lyric in my head, then the rest follows.

All those mix tapes somewhere out there with good intent from me to the recipient, most of them probably in the bin or fallen by the wayside without a cassette player to hear them on or worn out from repeat playing.  I'm getting ready to make a new mix, errrr, tape? No!  A mix digital compilation.  It doesn't quite have the zing to it that phrase.  In the same way it is somehow cool for shops to sell iPod holders that look like 'old skool' tape players.  Well listen up, y'all, I still have my neon yellow and blue sports cassette walkman.  Boo-yah.  So I can officially ride the train listening to real tapes and not just digital mixes with great quality looking like I've got a real deck. Ha.  Hmm.  So I'm already trying to work out when this week I'll have the time for making the mix tape I want to collate.  I've already done step 1: make a list of the potential songs on a scrap of paper in my handbag and I'm working on step 2: find an evening with nothing happening to immerse myself in the experience of mix tape making. 

My final verdict:  It can never have the same zing to it if the process is called making a digital compilation so I'm gonna go ahead and still call it: making a mix tape.  And I'm sure the sound quality will be better and it will be more shuffle-able (thus ignoring the perfect sequencing that took me days to get right) but it can be transferred from me to the next lucky owner of a Zee mix tape in a nano second.  At least that beats the smudged ink-on-tape-insert effect that usually sealed the deal.

And this can be compilation 1 of many.  No time limit on the reel or cd.  Maybe I'll come up with a new structuring principle to give shape to this emerging new form.  We'll see.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

like a slow fire burn


Been flying below the radar lately, not wanting to write much until lately. The sense of stillness and quiet I am finding in my life is helping me to look at what I need with boundaries, with breath and wide open spaces.

How nice it is just to be in that stillness sometimes and rest there. Not think too much, just feel things.

The Remarkable this week

A long long lie in this morning, hours to be with my thoughts.

Sitting on a cold station platform at night watching the announcement board lights flicker across a new friend's face.

Giant salad for lunch with beetroot and cheese (yum)!

Hours of film watching on a rainy Saturday, a reclining chair that's just the right fit.