Friday, 25 January 2008

A big thank you...

This wasn't going to be my next post - I'm still working on that and hope to have it finished tomorrow or Sunday. But when I heard this song, I had to put it out there as a tribute to everyone - teachers, friends, people I only knew for a short time that touched me profoundly - who have helped me along the way. The odds were stacked against me being the person I am today, but somehow, I got very lucky and a ton of wonderful people have crossed my path and loved me. Whether you've done it by being an obstacle or by shining your light on my path when I couldn't find mine, thank you. This one's for you.

Why now? Well, because you've all been there just now, whether you realise it or not.

Just like Winston Churchill and many others, the black dog nips at my heels and throws up a lot of old, painful stuff that needs dealing with. I've never done drugs, and my therapy has been my friends and a lot of reading, but what works best is just to sit down and let him put his head on my knee whilst I fondle his ears and talk to him to find out what it is he's trying to tell me. Usually, he's telling me that so much has happened so fast that I need to slow down; too many people have been leaning on me (especially if their issues are very close to mine and I haven't dealt with my emotions); or that there's a painful situation I'm not really facing - I may be analysing it, but I'm not feeling it. So I let go and let it be, do a lot of crying and taking care of myself. I actually believe that depression is the psyche's equivalent of physical pain - it's a way of getting your attention and telling you something is wrong, that you can't live like this anymore - the current situation is no longer sustainable.

In other words, look at what you're too afraid to look at - do you need to leave your job? A relationship? A mindset? The priesthood? Everything you take as a given? Can you not live like this anymore?

Depression is a way of keeping you safe until you're ready to no longer be safe and move on.

So, yes, I've had a touch of it lately. My friends have been there. And so, as Faith Hill sings, "I'm gonna be ok/so let it rain".

And bless every last one of you who's ever been there for being my red umbrella - I love you and don't know what I'd do without you:

Sometimes life can get a little dark
I'm sure I've got bruises on my heart
Here come the black clouds full of pain
Yeah, you can't break away without the chains

Pre Chorus:

Your love is like a red umbrella
Walk the streets like Cinderella
Everyone can see it on my face


(So) let it rain
It's pourin' all around me
Let it fall
(No) it ain't gonna drown me
After all
I'm gonna be okay
(So) let it rain
(Oh, let it rain)
(Let it fall)
(I'm gonna be okay)

(So let it rain)

2nd Verse

You can wear your sorrow like an old raincoat
You can save your tears in a bottle made of gold
But the glitter on the sidewalk always shines
Yeah, even God needs to cry sometimes

Pre Chorus:

Your love is like a red umbrella
Always there to make me better
When my broken dreams
Are fallin' from the sky

(Repeat Chorus)


Let it wash my tears away
Tomorrow's another day

(Chorus Out)

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Wild boys...

I'm writing some very emotional entries at the moment, so I needed something cathartic and less emotional to write about. This post was just going to be about the video and why I love it so much, and ended up being *Slaps forehead*

Ah, well, the creative muse leads where she will. *Glares ineffectively at said muse*

I've often wondered why I fancy the men that I do. Leaving aside my need to be a 'fixer', hence picking out the most wounded/complicated men imaginable, and my issues with commitment (yes, I admit I have them!), why can't I pick the 'easy' ones?

We all go on about 'nice boys' and 'nice girls' - but the fact that they're *kind* isn't the problem. When I think of a 'nice boy', I think of a man who is trying to please me rather than being himself (not a problem I'd ever have, she says, *whistling*...wouldn't know any drama queens or alcoholic or insecure, needy men...not me...). I think of a man who isn't being *real*, authentic, who isn't fully *human*. In fact, I think of a 'nice boy' as *lying* to me about who he is so he can buy my love.

That's actually not very nice at all.

Having watched a number of shows recently, I've realised that it's men who care, but who can set boundaries, who can say 'you're wrong' or 'get off your ass' that attract me. Why? BECAUSE I CAN COUNT ON THEM. THEY'RE NOT LYING TO ME. I know they're strong enough to be there when the going gets tough - capable of being tender enough to cradle a newborn and strong enough to catch me when I fall.

I want a man with whom I can communicate, and a man with whom I can have a passionate row - followed by an equally passionate makeup session. I need the sensible, the sensitive and the sensuous.

And nice doesn't have the depth of the warmth and caring that comes from someone who really knows and loves themselves (yeah, he should do that too - how else is he going to know what he likes ;-)? ) - someone who has access to all his sides, not just the socially acceptable few.

Honestly? I don't want him tamed by the institution - the Catholic Church, society, power, any of it. I want someone who can walk through all that and hold onto who he is and what the truth is, despite the institutional hard sell. A guy who can wear a suit with a glint in his eye and ask the challenging questions and not take bullshit or an illogical argument for an answer - from an institution or from me.

I want a wild boy.

Not feral, that would be emotionally unavailable - though I find ferals attractive because they have many of the above qualities. He has to be housetrained and eminently touchable because I'm terribly affectionate, but he needs to be able to nip.

And yes, part of that has to do with me - I've spent my life being sensible, sensitive, capable and calm, but I've always been drawn to Goths and those that live on the edge. That abandon, that passion, is very much a part of who I am, but it has been corseted for a very long time.

So, in honour of that, I present you with a song that I played over and over when I first heard it, I had such a visceral, emotional reaction to it. It was my song...

The wild boys are calling on their way back from the fire

In august moons surrender to a dust cloud on the rise
Wild boys fallen far from glory, reckless and so hungered
On the razors edge you trail because theres murder (murder)
By the roadside in a sore afraid new world

They tried to break us, looks like they'll try again

Wild boys.. never lose it
Wild boys.. never chose this way
Wild boys.. never close your eyes
Wild boys.. always shine

You got sirens for a welcome, there's bloodstain for your pain
And your telephone been ringing while you're dancing in the rain
Wild boys wonder where is glory where is all you angels
Now the figureheads have fell?
And lovers war with arrows over secrets they could tell

They tried to tame you, looks like they'll try again


They never managed to tame me - now I need to find my wild boy equal, wherever he may be.

Oh, and of course, to all you fellow 80s girls, this video reopens the debate:

Simon le Bon or Nick Rhodes?

Answers on a postcard.

Monday, 21 January 2008

About dinner Friday night and why I no longer feel Catholic...

Friday evening, I went to dinner at Suave, Manically Amusing Boy's (SMAB from now on) college. He met me on my way in, we had a glass of juice in the common room, then went on to dinner, which was lovely and included most of a bottle of wine. After that, we went back to the common room and started chatting away. Members of the college drifted through on their way to a party or on their way back from the gym, and it was all very pleasant.

He's my only South Asian male friend, so once he brought down some port and we really started to relax (he's only a recent addition to my friend circle), we started discussing our feelings around our Pakistani heritage/identities and our families.

The evening was going swimmingly till his phone rang and his face fell. "What's wrong, SMAB?" I asked.

"It's Religious Stalker Boy," he said. "He wants to come over with the rest of the Catholic Fanatic Society. I'm not going to answer it."

The phone rang again, and SMAB still didn't answer. "If it rings again," I said, "Let me answer it." He grinned.

As is often the way with these things, the phone was silent, except for a phone call from a friend whom he invited over.

The three of us were laughing away when up popped a number he didn't know. "I think this is for you," he said, handing me the phone. I put on my best girly, breathy voice and answered the phone...



"Erm, I'm afraid he's really busy at the moment. Can I take a message?" (Cue SMAB and friend burying their faces into pillows laughing their heads off.)

"Irim? Is this Irim?"

"Erm, yes..."

[Not an exact transcript, but pretty close]

I handed the phone back, and suggested that SMAB ring him back to find out who it was. He waited a while before he did, at which point, he discovered the caller was from the Catholic Fanatic Society. He told them he was 'in someone's room' and was going elsewhere shortly.

Not five minutes later, three members of Catholic Fanatic Society walked into the common room and sat down. Without asking, Gauche Boy put his feet up and picked up the second half of SMAB's KitKat.

What part of "I don't want you here tonight" did they not get? If I rang someone twice and they didn't answer, I'd LEAVE it, unless we were meeting up. If a male friend's phone was answered by a woman, I'd stammer and GET THE HELL OFF. Hell, if a woman answered MY BOYFRIEND'S PHONE, I'D STAMMER AND GET THE HELL OFF (after asking who she was). If someone told me they were going somewhere, I'd say, "OK, hope to catch you next week."

I WOULD MOST CERTAINLY NOT BE WANDERING AROUND THEIR COLLEGE HEADED TO THEIR COMMON ROOM. The violation of personal space and lack of respect for SMAB beggared belief. Yet they couldn't see that they had done anything wrong.

So when Gauche Boy accused me of "creating scandal" when I rightly suggested that a heterosexual entering the London Oratory would bring the whole institution down, I nearly whipped around and said, "It's nothing compared to the scandal of your lack of respect and charity for SMAB by sitting here eating SMAB's chocolate when you were clearly told your presence wasn't convenient."

But I kept my mouth shut, because it wouldn't have made a difference. They believe their preference for high liturgy and lace is what makes them truly Catholic. How they treat others doesn't matter.

And that's exactly the issue I have with most of the people who go to my church and some of the clerics I know.

At that moment, I realised I had the key to why I no longer feel Catholic.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Australian monkeys...

I can say this as a 'person of darker skin' - this racism thing is getting out of hand.

Last week, Harbhajan Singh, an Indian bowler, called Andrew Symonds a monkey: a 'bandhar', if you want the Urdu/Hindi/Punjabi. Ricky Ponting immediately reported the alleged offence, claiming it was 'racist', to the umpire, earning Bhajji a three game suspension.

Later, Ricky called it 'a little thing' - then why the f*** report it, dear? Australia complaining about another team's sledging is a bit like a politician complaining about someone else avoiding responsibility.

Tim de Lisle's article on cricinfo was brilliant, and I'll be quoting from it quite a bit:

something about the Harbhajan Singh affair doesn't feel right.

In fact, three things don't. First, it takes two to tangle. Andrew Symonds is a well-known sledger, as is Harbhajan. Mike Procter is asking us to believe that one party was severely at fault while the other was not at fault at all, and that doesn't ring true.

The second problem is that Procter listened to eight hours of evidence and then swallowed Ricky Ponting's view of things whole. Ponting is a sledger too, and he and Harbhajan have been needling each other on and off for nearly seven years. Ponting has often got out cheaply to Harbhajan: if anyone were to call him Bhajji's bunny, it would be harsh, and cheap, but fair.

Hmmm. Anybody smell something rotten in Sydney...perhaps the fact that Ricky wanted Bhajji out of the way?

The accusation? Racism. Ok, in Western countries, calling someone a monkey (outside of a child climbing like one or prefacing it with 'cheeky') is a bit dodgy. But on the subcontinent, 'bandhar' gets thrown around all the time - monkeys are seen as intelligent, lively, sly, clever, scheming. It's a step down from the other names you could call someone and often has an affectionate tone to it, though I doubt that was the case here - if it was actually said. To quote Mr de Lisle again:

His job as a match referee requires him to decide whether Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, and if so, what he meant by it.Procter had to look at the remark through the lens of racism, but he might equally well have peered through the lens of speciesism. Bringing monkeys into a sportsmen's spat is demeaning to monkeys.

Amen to that. What really makes one feel like you've stepped into a Salvador Dali painting here is the fact that if Harbhajan had called Symonds a c**t, nobody would have batted an eyelid. In addition to that, this incident is being looked at through a Western lens - someone needed to consider the cultural context in which the word 'monkey' was said.

And yes, you read that right: it isn't even clear that Harbhajan SAID anything. It wasn't picked up on video or by the stump mikes - the latter being a bit odd, considering he was in his crease. The fact that Procter had to listen to EIGHT HOURS of evidence is indicative that there was serious doubt in the matter. Sachin Tendulkar, known as one of the gentlemen of the game, vouched for Harbhajan. This is a man who would walk from the crease if he were on 99 and knew he'd edged it, before the umpire raised his finger. I have no doubt that if he felt that Bhajji had been wrong, he'd have stepped up and said so.

Now, India's not completely in the right here - God knows the subcontinental teams appeal excessively, are overly dramatic, and are so manipulative they put a chiropractor to shame. That means they have very little goodwill on tap when things go wrong. They need to learn to shut up and play the game.

But I'm still disturbed by this part of the report:

Procter handed out a three-match ban to Harbhajan Singh, saying he was sure "beyond reasonable doubt" that a racist taunt had been directed at Andrew Symonds, but the Indians have claimed the document was extremely flimsy. The bit that has especially offended them is a line in the document which says, "I believe that one group was telling the truth". The players felt Procter had alleged they were lying and they didn't think there was any fairness to the verdict.

Mike, let's have a chat. No video, no stump mike, no tape that is incontrovertible proof - you're not sure of anything, mate. And for you to state "I believe that one group was telling the truth" is tactless at best and deliberately inflammatory at worst. But there's one more thing you need to consider (with deepest apologies to my Saffa mates - do comment, please):

You're a 61 year old white, South African male, who grew up invested in apartheid. Of the mostly white Australian team, known to be extremely provocative sledgers, you said, "I believe [they were] telling the truth," essentially accusing the non-white team of lying. As far as we know, you have no external evidence (which should have made this a 20 minute job), you showed no awareness (nor willingness to become aware) of cultural context, and you didn't even consider that both teams might have gotten it a bit wrong.

Where do you think the next charges of racism are going to be levelled? I know it crossed *my* mind.

But enough is enough. Let's put an end to this - let's bring back the behaviour for which the phrase 'that's not cricket' means something: fielders admitting they didn't take a clean catch, batsmen walking when they know they're out and silence on the field. Let their playing do the talking. Over to Mr de Lisle one last time:

Sledging has been rife for years, and it stinks. It's a sad, feeble way to try and take a wicket. Bowlers should use the ball, and their talent: that's what they're for. Batsmen who answer in kind, like Kevin Pietersen, who allegedly yelled "Fetch it!" at Symonds last year to give the impression that he was a specialist fielder, are little better.

It's sometimes said that fans wouldn't enjoy watching a game conducted largely in silence. But the outpouring of emotion on all sides this week - including an impressive number of two-eyed Australia fans - shows that the cricket-loving public are deeply disgruntled as it is. And silence is no problem at all. Curtly Ambrose didn't sledge, and people loved watching him.

Talking is the commentators' job. And the fans'. And the captains' - as long as they are addressing their own side, or the umpires, or the media, and not saying anything as crass as Ponting's claim that this row was "one little incident". If it was so little, why did he report it to the umpires, and set the ball rolling towards turning the incident into a diplomatic one?

Twelve years ago, a great Australian cricketer was asked for his views on sledging. "If a fellow attempted it under me," the old fellow replied, "I would have given him one warning and, if he repeated it, I would have made sure he was not selected again." That was Sir Don Bradman, speaking at the age of 87. Bradman wasn't always right, but he certainly was on that occasion. Sledging demeans everyone who practises it. It sours the game.

He's right. You don't look like professional sportsmen fighting a hard game, you look like insecure boys on the playground. Sledging made the accomplishments of Shane Warne, one of the greatest bowlers the game had ever seen, less than they were. One will always wonder if he could have done as well with his mouth shut, just showing us what he was capable of.

Hang your heads in shame, Australia - you've brought dishonour on your uniforms, your flag and your fans. You're renowned for fighting hard, but fair, and winning through your grit and ability.

I'll end this with words repeated on my blog over and over again: actions, not words, matter. Show us the poetry of the game - we don't want to hear it.

Now *that* would be cricket.

And dead sexy, to boot.

A blonde American stereotype...

I couldn't resist perpetuating stereotypes. It just beggars belief men would shag anything so stupid - come on, you couldn't possibly expect something with a brain that small to remember how to give you a decent blow job. This video is worth it not just for Nathan, who's a cutie, but for the host, who not only has a lovely sense of dry humour, but says one of the truest things about women ever: "Women don't want to hear a man's opinion, they just want to hear their opinion in a deeper voice." Enjoy.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

This is what going out with an emotionally unavailable man feels like...

Emotionally unavailable men: we've all been there. If you're going out with one - to quote NML from Baggage Reclaim - it's 'game over, no credits'. That's because it's all about him - his need for validation, approval, building his self-esteem through your inability to leave him no matter how badly he treats you...which says something about *your* self-esteem and your lack of emotional availability. And yes, in my case, it was the classic "I'm replaying my relationship with my father." They were emotionally unavailable, cold, critical, controlling, mocking, in a great deal of pain. They and my father would either have hated eachother or gotten on like a house on fire.

I'm done here.

But this entry isn't an attempt at analysis, since NML does a far better job than I ever could. This is because I've found the perfect expression of what going out with an emotionally unavailable man is like:

If you have to laugh or cry, it's always better to laugh...

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

New Year's wishes

Last night, I texted all my friends with:

"Happy New Year! Be happy, be loved and may all your dreams come true in 2008. Ixx"

Through the night and this morning, I've gotten texts back from many of my friends. My favourite, so far, is from cheeky male friend:

"U 2, babe, may the devil bestow u with naughty goodness all the new yr! J x"

I am so there. Thanks, gorgeous.

Running a very close second is the one from OTT, delightfully mad friend:

"Hi Irim, now I know for sure you are God's most beautiful angel - your words to me are heavenly. May the Lord bless you and his face shine upon you. All my love, M xxx"

Well, between the devil and the Lord giving me their attention, I should have one hell of a new year.

Guess I'm just going to have to be a very naughty angel indeed...