Sunday Share 6: Blogs I Enjoy

Yep, it’s now Tuesday.  I know.  But I have been over a week without a Share and it’s time to get the ball rolling again.

So for this week, I love:

1) http://mm172001.wordpress.com/about/  mm172001’s blog is a personal, insightful look into mental health problems from an insider’s perspective.  She combats her struggles with mental illness and writes some brilliant posts about it.

2) http://yeoldefoole.wordpress.com/ writes some wonderful poems, in different forms.  They are accessible, often beautiful, always worth a read.

3) http://depressionscollateraldamage.wordpress.com/ is a wonderful blog written from the point of view of those who love, live with and care for people with ‘brain illnesses’.  The articles are extremely well written, frank and interesting.  Worth a read for anybody, but particularly I’d recommend it for those with mental health problems, and their families.

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Barack Obama Is Not Black

Today, walking through Walthamstow, I heard a mixed race girl say to her friend “He thinks he’s a half-caste though, innit?”

Yet another eavesdropped conversation that’s made me think/ annoyed/ smile. Anyway, it’s had me thinking.

I was born in 1987, to a white (Dutch-Irish) mother and a black (Jamaican parentage) father. They met, aged 5, at primary school. Throughout their relationship, to put it bluntly, they got a lot of shit from a lot of different people on both sides. And I don’t mean little snide comments or gestures. I mean serious racist intolerance, sometimes violence. We are talking about a time at which my Granny witnessed a cigarette stubbed out on the wrist of a woman with a mixed race child. Yet my parents also, let it be said now, got a lot of support- again, from both “sides” (it is sad to be calling black and white “sides”).

For me, being mixed race has almost never been a disadvantage. I grew up in a multi-racial area of London and though I was one of few mixed race children in my school, there were people of various races around me always. There were odd comments- “you’re more on the white side, aren’t you?” but rarely anything hurtful, rarely anything that upset me. I do remember taking that comment to heart, feeling “more white” but not knowing what “more black” would actually entail. I was lucky to grow up with influences from both my mum and dad’s sides of the family: songs and stories, culture and cuisine.

I never felt especially English- I remember trying to draw a “red white and blue” Union Jack and coming up with something unrecognisable, because I didn’t know what it was meant to look like. But Englishness wasn’t a lack, or an aspiration. In Year 4 (age 9) we were told that only one girl in our class was “fully” English and that she probably had some kind of Irish heritage. I still see my nationality as London. I even put that on my (Scottish) census form, so I reckon I’m the only registered “London” and “Catholic (lapsed)” registered in Edinburgh.

I spent a year in Holland as a kid, learned Dutch, was part of a different dynamic. And suddenly I was The English Girl and that felt fine too, despite endless protests that mijn oma is nederlands! Dus ik ben niet eigenlijk engels! (my granny is Dutch- so I am not originally English!)

Secondary was a different kettle of fake tan. Race was something I became aware of and not always in a positive way. I remember it mostly as an issue of defensiveness- “you look exactly like your dad/ nothing like your mum” meant “you are not white” (I actually look quite a lot like my mum.) And friends being called “pakis” was another thing that really enraged me. (“the pakis have blown up America” is still a personal favourite. Ah, 2002…) A friend shouting across a street at a “fucking half-caste” in my presence was also a highlight…

Then there was that brief period where Mixed Race (black and white) =d Cool, on TV etc.  Oh joy!  And oh! the rage of reading “Picture a mixed race child- you probably think of a young white woman pushing a pram…” (Guardian, I swear!)- in an article about the rise of mixed race families and the oh-god-surprise that some of us might be middle class.  (a future post…)

Anyway, through a number of years, I have come to realise that I am actually quite British in a lot of stereotypical ways. Though.. I don’t drink tea, my Granny couldn’t care less about Queen E, weather doesn’t stress me overmuch. And I have yet to eat toad-in-the-hole, veggie or otherwise. I just caught the self-deprecating humour and the awkward manner. And the drinking, of course. I feel enriched, and not only through my own culture but through others’. I don’t think it’s an experience unique to mixed race people, at all. Nor even to Londoners.

Quick point: when Halle Berry accepted her Oscar my mum said “if that was you, calling yourself black, I’d be like… what?!”. I think language needs to embrace more possibilities than it does…

Why am I writing this? As usual, I have little idea. I am just reacting to an old-fashioned term bandied about between young people.

The Lost Art of Writing

One of my friends is writing her dissertation on the digitalisation of film.  She is asking whether watching films on different devices (iPhone, iPad, iHaveAGadgetCheckItOut) changes the “essence” of film or whether that remains untainted by the medium of watching.  Traditionalists, in addition, often feel that new methods of making the films themselves represent a “de-filming” or a technical dumbing-down of film-making.  This has been compared to writing- if it is acceptable to type and to read from a screen, if the printing press has been invented and we don’t need to read scrolls anymore, why is film so different?

Well.

Actually, writing things by hand is different to typing ideas immediately.  For example, a poem looks finished once it’s typed, whether or not it is ready or in a finished state.  So a first draft can look the same, aesthetically, as the finished product.

Hand writing a poem forces the writer to read, re-read, cross out, re-shape, etc.  Environmentally it is an unfriendly process, granted.  But it is certainly a different process.

I tend to mix up the two.  With poems, I will draft and re-draft on paper before I type it up.  I like to get a sense for the words, how they look and sound organically, before typing them.  But for things like this, I am either lazy of (I prefer) practical.  I write my first and even second draft by hand, but as I type I do my editing.  It minimises time and paper loss, as well as giving me the chance to cut and paste or delete impermanently, rather than going over and over the same paragraphs just because one isn’t perfect.

The ache in my hand reminds me I have done enough rambling for one early morning.

“Thunder Only Happens When It’s Raining”

I can’t untangle
what I know and what should matter most
Tegan & Sara

Last night I dreamed I had triplets.  Two were born together and one later.  All of my skin was bleeding.  Afterwards, I had to go into a creche and try to determine which children were mine (that one looks like my sister… that one has my Granny’s nose…).  Only two were in the creche, the other one (a boy) was elsewhere, getting some kind of help.

So, as you do, I played with some tarot cards (given by a friend) this morning and came up with something like this:

There are three things I hope to achieve;
three things in my way.
The things in my way are: fatigue; impulsiveness; incorrect use of resources.
I will need: creativity, will and a strong personality.

I don’t massively believe in tarot cards.  But I like making up stories.  I feel like what you make of the symbols shows you what you already know.  It isn’t that something has been divined for you- the same set of symbols could mean something completely different for another person.  But what you divine for yourself is more important.  So I am trying to work out now, what it is that I know and what of it matters, and what I should do about it.  I don’t know what the three things are I hope to achieve, though it worries me that in the dream I had to pick out something so important from a room full of other children. I understand what stands in my way.  One of the cards also mentions: austerity; traditionalism; accuracy, which II reckon I would need some of to raise triplets or achieve whatever these goals are.

Also… what happened to the little boy?!

I’m going to shower.  Ideas rinse out of my hair sometimes.

Zig-a-zig Ah

I had one really, genuinely good day.

My friend S came down from London to see me.  We met up for lunch at The Goods Shed (www.thegoodsshed.co.uk), where we saw David Starkey (!) and had some very excellent sandwiches.  It was really nice catching up, walking around the town and the Cathedral, looking at all the different shops and things.  I bought a ludicrous pink mini-skirt; S bought a book about Cathedral Cats; I FINALLY got myself a calendar.  Then, as I always make people do this, we went to La Trappiste.  Beer and cheese board for third-meal (neither lunch nor dinner).  We wandered some more and got 2 cocktails (one non-alcoholic) at The Cuban.  S was looking out for me re: alcohol and it was nice to have that moral support instead of feeling obliged to drink/ left out if I didn’t.  We could have had tea, or coffee, and we did slow ourselves down with water and the non-alcoholic-cocktail (dislike the world mocktail).  So it felt more like a responsible, grown up, post food drink, than a wild and desperate gulping I sometimes do alone.

After a while we walked back up to the station and I thought there’s not a huge number of people you can spend eight hours with, and that was a really great day.  It’s been a while since I could say that with no “but…”

For the evening I donned said pink mini-skirt and went to Frenzy, the uni’s LGBT night.  I had low expectations of cliquey people, awkward-straight-girls, awful music.  Actually it was a huge amount of fun.  The music was the right kind of stupid: B*witched, Westlife, Spice Girls along with some Jessie J and Katy P.  It was silly-dancing, it was really enjoyable.  I like dancing if it’s unselfconscious fun dancing, rather than oh em gee, how cool am I though like seriously.  I was with friends L and So.  We moved on to a bigger Student Night, did more mad dancing, hid our coats in a very secret corner.  I enjoyed it even though it was the kind of thing I might usually avoid: “the drinks were few.  The people many”- Bernard Black.

Afterwards we got a takeaway (halloumi wrap, hell yes) and sat at So’s talking about societal racial discrimination, sexism, postgrad study and how awesome a night we had.  And again I thought wow.  I am a bit drunk.  I am pretty tired.  And I do regret having messed up the med-taking (5a.m.= wrong-time).  But I’ve just had a very good night and… I feel good about it.  I haven’t felt good in a (nearly) guilt-free way for absolutely ages.

[small note: I had a weird moment in the Cathedral.  I had lit a candle, S and I were wandering around together, talking about religious rituals and beautiful buildings.  How cool it would be to be in charge of washing the Church’s silverware.  For a second I was alone and thought: I haven’t meant to hurt you.  And in the quiet, I felt a response.]

High Windows

Oh but fuck it,  they don’t even need doors.  So if I have seen one, all I can do is take as many hours as the days have.  So 4 is a good time to wake, 1.30 is a good time to sleep.  Life is pretty fucking excellent, why stress it out?  Tonight’s calm… This morning, even.  MGMT, M.I.A, The xx, Creative Writing, coffee, herbal tea, beer, quick smoke because I love the snow and if they’ll come through the trees I may as well see it through a haze and actually, you know, this morning I don’t even believe in them.  They’re just representations, you know, something like them is always around the corner because some things are certainties and it doesn’t matter which one you tap, the end’s always the same and it’s okay.  It’s okay.  Today, the first day, I didn’t stub the fag out on my arm.  The scars are many, the skin little but why bother hurt it?  It will get hurt.  People get hurt.  I’ll get hurt, you’ll get hurt, we’ve all been hurt, we will all be hurt again, sometimes by the things that have already hurt once or twice, again and again and again and why struggle, why fight?  Why cry when the dreams put their hands on the back of my neck, why cry when I feel breath where there’s none?  So what if I invited the pain, so what if I’ve invited them in?  There’s not a great deal we can do.  We can’t move forward because of the flux, the loop, the losses gains etc. Why not just stop for a minute and smile?  The things we see that are, and the things we see that aren’t, are all just part of seeing.  The magic spiders the other night were beautiful; they’re gone.  The ghosts are gone.  But all of it’s always there, waiting to be tapped and my fingers may as well be ready.

Good morning!

 

And underneath your pastures green
There’s earth and there ash
And theres bone
And there are things that dissapear
Into it and then they are gone

And there is light that hits the sky
And then it is midnight again
And there is my mother, my father,
And you and we are all impermanent
Emmy The Great