Monday, 31 May 2010

'She's got a halo round her finger, around you'

Last night. I was there. It was

crazy overwhelming crass
gorgeous grotesque loud sexy
bloody Monsterous stilettos codpieces
black lingerie subway carriage nuns
dancedancedancing get up and dance you m*%herf@#kers
the Italian next to me screaming Brava Gaga Brava Gaga Brava Brava
alejandroalejandro pianos on fire she like a moth in fibre-optic lights
money more-Madonna-than-Madonna sweaty fantastic paws in the air
boys in smoking glasses over 30s in Crime Scene tape
slutty smutty beautifulugly wow
And care of the merchandising shop:

'She ate my heart and then she ate my brain'...........................

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Toward a PhD

(look at my carrots sprouting!)

I've been in shock for the past week but I'm now coming round enough to blog. This has been the most extraordinary week. I have had the luck to be part of so many wonderful happenings to my friends and family over the years--weddings, life transitions, happy moments of all sorts, but I actually feel that this past week has been my happiest so far. My individual best moment. And just when I thought it couldn't get any did.

For the past year now I've been investigating the option of going back to school. It's something I've really wanted to do for a long time but it has never seemed the right moment. April 2009 I woke up one morning with a certainty that this was now the time to start pursuing my goal of studying for a doctorate.

So then all the practical stuff happened--shortlisting universities, making contact with potential teachers, writing a proposal for my research project, applying for a place, applying for funding. And in February I heard I'd been accepted to my top two schools. But two months later, I heard that neither school had any funding to give me. That wasn't surprising and yet I'd found all my hopes had been pinned on this. How would I afford to go back to school without any funding at all? After a couple of weeks of musing about this, I decided I would still go back to school and just do it part time and work as many hours as I could and somehow, somehow afford it, even if it meant taking on huge loans.

So for the past month I've been racking my brains majorly over which school to choose. Both are great options. Both had elements that felt right in some way. Then I took a plunge to try and add some more pieces to the puzzle and made an appointment to meet with the main professor I would be working with at one of the universities. That meeting was Monday, or as I now like to think of it, the day my head started to get very clear.

My Monday meeting was amazing! This professor and I made a great connection, one that made me feel certain about choosing this university. So I sat with my reactions and thoughts post-meeting, for the next few days. I talked to friends and colleagues about this and most of all I just sat with myself and listened. My head, my heart, my gut--all three were saying DEFINITELY. GO FOR IT. So I did. I contacted the professor and told her I wanted to study with her university. That was Thursday.

Since Thursday, there's been a jumble of excitement, a flurry of oh-my-god moments. Her reply to my YES doubly confirmed I'd made the right choice. And then Friday I spent the entire day in euphoria. I danced around my house like a lunatic, I laughed out loud for no reason (repeatedly) I ran in and out of the garden in the sun, I ate nice things, I sat in awe. And then when I was nearly exhausted from joy I planted 6 more pots of vegetable seeds (cause, you know, what better way to celebrate than to start growing some food!).

When I came in from the garden, covered in mud and still with a goofy smile on my face and a feeling of ecstasy in my entire body over the excitement of my dream finally starting to come true, I turned on my computer and lo and behold I had new email. Click.

Oh! An email from the head of the department at my now-chosen university. Hmmm. Click.
And then it all began to fizz and spin--the room, my brain, life as I know it--the university, my new university, was offering to pay my tuition fees for the duration of my studies!

Contrary to all rational explanations, and to the We're-Very-Sorry-To-Inform-You letter I had back in the spring regarding NO FUNDING, here I was staring at an offer of tuition paid. I can tell you, I've never been so close to passing out on the floor as in that moment. Even now as I write this I feel a bit faint with excitement and wonder and keep asking myself--how, how has this happened?

And I know one thing now for triple-certain, I've made a great choice. I made my choice. I've chosen what I've dreamed of doing and I'm going for it...

Friday, 21 May 2010

Throwing myself into the fire

Days have passed. Days have been building up to more endless days as we head towards summer. Nights are light later and this week when I finished work at 9:15pm the sky was still pink.

I feel the possibility of summer building up in me like a scream, like a sigh of relief, like a dance waiting to begin. All of these things in one. And yet this tension feels heavenly and impossible all at once. It reminds me of what it was to be a kid and look forward to something for a long long time and then the night before it happens being so exhausted and excited all at once from the waiting and anticipation and...I don't know how to have this feeling as an adult maybe. Except I do know cause I'm having it now.

I did something this week which meant taking a huge risk. This risk has already taken me to a new place, regardless of the outcome. I've always loved the phrase--Leap and the net will appear. But this has meant I've spent my life so far either leaping and leaping and leaping and falling down and skinning my knees or doing the opposite, telling myself not to leap, to be more cautious, don't be silly...

But back are the silly days of springtime, and to quote The Lusty Month of May again-- "That lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray"--this time of year is upon me, at full force. I feel a bit raw, a bit as if I've thrown myself to the fire of spring and blossoming. And yet I cannot see how it can be otherwise and to still call this living. When everything is dull with no surprises the fire may simmer on low heat, and sometimes when it whoooshes beneath the light of this warming weather, and picks up intensity, I want to abandon myself to the blaze and run towards it saying yes yes yes yes

I am learning that the important thing for me is often to open my arms and move towards something instead of staying 100% safe, looking down at the net from the tall tall tightrope wire and saying, uhuh, no way, not me, I can't take this step, what if there's no net?

I say, let me try it. Let me try my hand at life once more. Let me try and fail rather than play it so safe nothing could happen. I know I'd regret that later.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Life is a runaway train

These are the feet of people I really miss right now!

Today has been very sunny and lovely and yes, another actual day off! I hesitate to say that because this is the second day off I've had in the past two weeks and that is rare. So I slept in today and then decided to spend the day in the garden to enjoy the weather. This led to lunch in the garden and coffee in the garden and then more coffee in the garden and finally, when the sun had gone firmly behind the clouds at around 3pm, I decided to come in the house and do something else rare. As rare as sitting in my garden (and not freezing) on a Saturday...spend the next few hours doing nothing but reading. So I kept on for awhile with my recent favourite book, already mentioned here, and after awhile, I decided to add some fiction into the mix and started reading another book I've had on my shelf for ages and have been wanting to get to. xyz xyz and hours passed...

But the whole time I was feeling this twinge I kept ignoring until I finally stopped to think about it and recognised I'd been feeling this since I woke up. Homesick. It's been nearly 3 weeks now since I returned from my US trip, which means nearly 3 weeks since I've seen my family and the feet of these two lovely people pictured here above. For those that live near or even too-near their families, 3 weeks may seem just the right amount of time to not see them, or maybe not long enough yet. But for me, today is perhaps the first time I've really felt that it's just the first 3 weeks of what usually turns out to be nearly a year of away-from-family-ness. So it feels like there's a long time to go until I see them again. These first three weeks just the tip of the iceberg.

Today if I were with them I'd want to go for a long walk, then maybe play a few games. Our recently acquired favourite has been mah jong, which I've been learning to play over here, and while I was there got my family obsessed with too. Pung! Kong! and usually Dad won, but it was the fun of the game and being together and sitting round the table watching my mother's cat stare at rabbits out the window while we all tried to decide if we wanted to have a bonfire that night... I miss it!

And if they were here, they'd have been wearing even more layers than me in the English-spring weather of my garden and my sister would've probably been discussing my vegetable pots with me, or why my cats were trying to climb the trellis and whether we were going for a walk. So mainly the same stuff, but at least we'd be together, all together.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

In my head...

She's looking out to sea...looking for something, or just waiting with her eyes on the horizon?

I went to a work dinner this week and about ten people turned up. It was a lovely evening with luscious food and drink and company and afterwards on the drive home through the dark dark forest, the something that had been niggling at me all night became clear--I was the only single person at this work do.

Being single isn't something that I usually give much thought to, even though this blog is called The Book of Love, yet most of the time when I post I'm thinking about relationships--with family, friends, colleagues etc. I very rarely think about myself solo. And I don't mean the relationship I have with myself, luckily that's getting better every year, but I mean the actual being a single person in this world of un-singles.

I heard a statistic on the radio this week--over 6 million women in the UK are single, a figure that actually sounds scarier when you more than double it, as single men now outnumber women. That's a lot of people, yet not when you consider the entire population. But at this work do, I was suddenly in the presence of 10 other married people; not just dating or engaged but married and it shocked me a bit.

Part of me first thinks--how did they do it? How did they find that person that suits them? How did they find a match? God knows I've been trying and then not trying (as that's supposed to be more successful) for a long time now. So I'm just sitting with this thought. Most of my friends, well over 80%, are married and slowly, slowly, the older I get I find myself, more often than not, in the minority, or as recently, the only single in the group.

So then I arrived back home with this thought in my head and got into my oh-so-attractive snuggly pjs and dove beneath my lovely warm warm duvet and just as I was happily drifting into sleep I heard an odd sound. A bit of a thump mixed with a shriek. This sort-of woke me and I listened out again, just in case it was some nutter from the pub on the corner trying to get into the wrong house. But oh oh oh no...the sound was coming through my wall from the neighbour's and it was very clear they were both in the middle of a near-ecstasy moment which was quickly building up to an even better climax. And it went on and on and by then I was awake but trying to snuggle deeper into the blankets trying not to hear them having such a good time because it only brought back the knowledge of being very very single right now. And then one of those cheesy pop songs came to mind where it's all about being single and the singer spells out 's-o-l-o' at least 50 times in case we have forgotten how singular this word is.

Tonight I'm hanging out downstairs for a bit, to give my neighbours a bit of privacy and to keep my mind pure and free of not-single thoughts.

So my eye is on the horizon...perhaps my eye is also on someone right now...or not. I'm not actually very sure which! But either way I'm going to get into my snuggly pjs soon and just hope I can get to sleep before the sex Olympics start up again and make me jealous.

Monday, 3 May 2010

I feel lucky today

I can't help feeling lucky today, after a wonderful weekend that actually, unusually for me, included lots of free time! I started the Bank Holiday weekend off by assessing the weather and then making a mad dash to the local garden centre for some necessary accouterments for my plan...plant as many seeds as possible and grow as much veg as I can this year! This follows last year's plan which was to start eating seasonally and more locally. I did well for six months of the year, then succumbed to some processed non-local junk...but I'm back on track and have been utterly inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's recent account of her family's one year trial of living sustainably: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Not having land in Virginia, nor the botany know-how, I'm starting smaller with some big pots and troughs of veg out in my gravelly but very sunny garden. Saturday's planting included: strawberries, radish, carrots, leeks, and...sweet corn! Courgettes and perhaps other things will follow soon. I'm so excited by the prospect of little green shoots I'm spending too much time staring out my window at the very soggy organic mud created in the pots by yesterday's downpour (will the seedlings survive?)

I finished my fantastic Saturday by volunteering to be a guinea pig for my friend's Indian Head Massage practice and wow was it an amazing massage. By the end of Saturday I realised that my feet have firmly rooted themselves back on UK ground. Jet lag drifting away...

Today I'm back at work, no matter that it's bank holiday. So far I've spent the whole morning reading student papers and after a few hours of this, when I tore myself away for a coffee break, I realised how filled up I feel right now. Lucky to be here. Lucky the sun is shining, if even for a few minutes today, lucky that the papers have been absolutely brilliant reading today and hence lucky I have such great students. Everything seems a bit rosy, and hey, why not! It's a rarely great feeling, this. And maybe it's because we're in my favourite month now, the lusty month of May. This deserves a song, and no one can sing The Lusty Month of May like Vanessa Redgrave, here you go...enjoy!