Life has been a bit of a drama recently, and I’ve not really talked to many people about it, so I thought I would write a few things down for your delectation and delight. I suspect you may read this post with the same horrified fascination with which the Romans used to watch the latest Lions vs. Christians Smackdown, but maybe you’ll enjoy it and get some good thought-food out of it.
I’ll give you some bullet points as a primer, then some more detail. Are you ready? You don’t have to take notes, it’s OK.
- Came out as queer
- Partner retaliated by also coming out as queer (but not as queer as me, ha. I win)
- Decide to open our marriage to waifs and strays
- Spend so much time talking and loving and talking we end up with serious sleep deprivation
- Invoices go unpaid so we have to raid savings to cover bills
- Have to cancel planned festival holiday because we now have no money
- Black depression and bitter disappointment in one party, and not just from the holiday cancellation
- Other party cancels fun plans to look after aforementioned party
- Shower breaks, but too soon after other major plumbing work to comfortably ask landlord to fix it
- Shit just goes wrong, OK?
- Shit goes right, depression banished, invoices start getting paid
- One party has massive meltdown as relief sets in
- Open relationship going even better than expected
You can take a tea break now, if you like.
So, early in April, I came to the scary realisation that I am bisexual. I’m not a teenager, just starting to explore my emotions, and worrying what my parents might think, I am a grown woman, emotionally mature (quiet, you), married for nearly 15 years, thinking Why Now? and WTF? and worrying what my children might think.
Uncivilisation. A weekend of exploring “cultural engagement which is rooted in place, time and nature”. A weekend of people, music, story, song, fire and playfulness. A weekend where I learned so damn much about the world around me, and about myself. And apart from the bit about “I can’t use Google-maps on my phone to navigate my way out of a paper bag” (sorry Jon – it was an adventure!), I liked what I learned!
I was there primarily to share my experiences of The Telling, and encourage others to make a new home for Uncivilisation in the places and communities where they are. And also to build a tree for a midnight Dark Mountain ritual – where a woven willow tree, decorated with dreams and thoughts from whoever wanted to contribute, would be ceremonially burned, to symbolise, I dunno… something. Something unsettling (would you set fire to a tree?), to shake people from their comfort, and release the wild, and the dreams.
[Photo: Bridget McKenzie]
In honesty though, I can’t really tell you much about what Uncivilisation 2013 was like, because I missed most of it, but I can tell you that “missing most of it” didn’t really matter. Continue reading
As you may or may not know (possibly not, given how lax I’ve been at blogging lately), since, ooh, sometime last year, I’ve been involved in the most awesome, inspiring, wonderful and fun project, called the Telling. Or possibly, For The Telling. Whatever. Whenever people have asked me “So, what’s The Telling then?” I’ve been completely at a loss to explain. I’d say, Well, it’s a kind of post-apocalyptic storytelling event, and we’ve got some music too, and some other stuff. What do you mean? Well, er, some people wanted to get involved, so we’ve got some poetry, some other stuff – it’ll be in the old arts college! What, inside? Well, no, in the courtyard actually. It’s derelict, so we painted it, or rather, Phlegm did, that’s not his real name, and we’re having dancing foxes and making it all firelit. So who’s funding this? Um, no-one, we’re doing it for free. It’s kind of linked to the Dark Mountain project. What’s Dark Mountain? Um… And so on.
I’ve explained The Telling to people as an event, as a mini-festival, as a way of sharing stories (that one really confused people), as a way of Continue reading
I made some pretty bold resolutions last year, which felt really good. I didn’t manage to cross them off my list, not in the literal sense, but you know what, I didn’t do bad.
You’re probably thinking I’m just a great windbag, trying to twist words to say I did something positive, when it’s plain to see I fell on my arse, but Continue reading
I heard this story from a friend, who also happened to be the owner of a very successful small cafe in the heart of Sheffield. She’d just expanded and taken on another cafe, but after a few months had sold it again, and was now selling her original business too. People had asked her why. Why was she getting rid of something so successful, that was already proving it had potential to expand and grow? She said she missed her daughter, who was six years old and growing fast, and wanted to spend more time with her. People thought she was crazy. She answered them with this.
The businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.
The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years, if you work hard at it.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
My wonderful partner took the kids away this weekend to spend some Quality Time with Grandma and Grandad (and, more importantly, Grandma’s puppy). I was left to my own devices, with strict instructions to relax and find some inner peace already. I confess I’ve not been functioning at anywhere near my best for quite a horribly long time now, so this was a great opportunity to stop playing Blind Man’s Buff with my life and get my mojo back.
I started my weekend by thinking on one quote from the ever-inspiring Eleanor Roosevelt;
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
Doing nothing scares me. Wasting time scares me. Not getting everything done scares me.
But I ended up my weekend with quite a different quote, although also from Eleanor. More on that at the end, but what of my three (yes, a three-day weekend, ain’t it great?) days alone? I think I can sum it up in two lists.
What I did this weekend:
- Lay in the sunshine in the Botanical Gardens.
- Went to my first Rollerderby bout
- Walked in the park
- Did my embroidery in the Botanical Gardens
- Watched a mediocre film
- Cleaned the bathroom
- Made lemon chocolate brownies
- Untangled my life-plan
- Went to an art exhibition I thought I wouldn’t like
- Ate Chicken Kiev
- Remembered what’s really important. And what really isn’t.
What I didn’t do this weekend:
- Worry about being back in time to do dinner
- Worry about heading home from the park before the kids got tired and fractious
- Tidy the house
- Stop my day at regular intervals to make sure everyone gets breakfast/snack/lunch/dinner/a drink
- Feel guilty about wasting a good evening watching a mediocre film
- Check the vegetarians/chicken-carers didn’t mind me eating the flesh of a slaughtered hen
- Keep checking the time
- Grocery shopping, with or without children in tow
- Sort out any arguments
- Make sure I only did/saw/went to things I knew would be brilliant, because anything else would a waste of valuable babysitting
- Keep my head so full of mundane, essential tasks there was no room for anything else.
Yeah. Now that’s inner peace already. I know where I’m going now. Still not entirely sure how I’ll get there, but hey, I only had three days, I think I did pretty well!
“I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.”
This Easter just gone, my daughter had her 10th birthday. I have been a parent now for a whole decade. You’d think I’d have got the hang of it.
I’m not sure we ever do, though – ‘get the hang of it’ – despite what the glossy mags, the internet, the celebrity mums and the self-help books would have us swallow. So I believe I speak up for many of us parents (I believe I do. Maybe I don’t. Maybe it’s just me. Shit.) when I stand up and say “I am a good enough parent.”
Yes, there are people who can successfully juggle raising children, keeping a tidy and well-fed home, their own job – or even business – and a social life. I know people like this, and it’s hard not to feel rubbish by comparison. They don’t even have tearaway, maladjusted children, or a nervous breakdown. They are lovely people, with lovely, happy kids. It’s so unfair.
Angelina Jolie, having it all. Sigh.
But yeah, so there are people like this, but I’m not one of them. And I suspect (congratulations if I’m wrong), neither are you. If you’re a parent, of course. And it’s taken me a while to learn, but …*pause for effect*… it’s OK to say that.