Monday, 31 January 2011

8 Days. Day 1.

Day One. The four funniest things you've ever heard, and the four saddest things you've ever heard.

Now, I can't promise that these are THE four funniest. Suffice it to say, they're at the very least near the top.

1. Hyperbole and a half. Oh. my. god. Just one of the FUNNIEST things ever. I was introduced to it when several friends who have nothing to do with each other posted this entry within minutes of each other. I cried with laughter. But I didn't nearly suffocate, as I did with this one, because that child could be yours truly - and it strikes me that is what really happened with Joseph and Mary and...Kenny Loggins.

This is often so similar to my running commentary in my head, it's uncanny: I wish I could write like this. I'm aware of how serious my writing IS, and would love to move a bit more in this direction.

2. Goodness Gracious Me, especially season 1
. I'm an American of Punjabi descent, and these sketches were all written by British of Punjabi descent. Much of it transcends ethnic boundaries and speaks to the immigrant experience generally. Much of it is so Punjabi-specific, it hurts. I could not stop laughing the first time I saw it - and it cut so close to the bone, I was often crying and laughing, it spoke so deeply to me. These people ARE my family.

If there's one sketch EVERYONE has to see, it's this one. Sheer brilliance.

3. LOLcats, Inc. Whoever came up with this was a genius. The entire empire is fabulous. And in a particular context, 'OH HAI!' leaves me on the floor, unable to speak.

4. Facebook threads with good friends, especially K8, LSN and 3C, some of which have run to 100 comments and usually include chicken porn. 'nuff said.


The 4 saddest things

1. Bill Zeller. I first read his last words 3 weeks ago, and I couldn't breathe, my heart broke over and over. I meant to blog it...but I still can't breathe.

2. A child's cry growing quieter and quieter, till it ends in the whimper when she realises no one is coming. It's why I know that attached parenting is probably closer to my style than Supernanny.

3. Male grief. I can cope with a woman crying, but when a man loses it, so do I. I'm not sure WHY male grief paralyses me: if a woman cries, I can move to comfort her. Men...I don't know. Last year, I said something to a guy friend on IM, and he said, 'Stop it, man, I'll be crying in a minute.' That nearly started me off.

I talked to a friend of mine who is a bereavement counsellor, and he said that in his experience, when men get to the point of crying, it is actually a total collapse, and that's what he thinks I'm sensing - that absolute helplessness that I need to reach for, but can't help. Someone else told me that I lived for so long around my father's unexpressed grief, knowing I couldn't touch it, that any other man's grief feels like a replay. I think there's something of the truth in both.

4. The eyes of those suffering who know it isn't going to get any better. Famine, disease, war, poverty. All those images. Their eyes haunt me every day, and drive me to make a difference, even if it is a small one.

But one day, I want to go out there and be there with them.

8 Days. Meme prologue.

I am nicking this prologue from my friend, word for word.

We recently did a meme and found the experience both intense and incredibly therapeutic; a lot of important stuff got pulled up for both of us, and we were rather sorry to see the end of it. We also felt like there were a few things we'd have liked to see included in the meme that weren't included.

So we decided to make up our own, starting today.

We liked the structural constraints of the original, but of course we didn't want to just copy it, so we used it as the point of departure instead. What we came up with is an eight-days meme with eight items per day on a single topic, but the lists are to be split in half, so that four items explore one aspect of the topic and the other four explore another. Then we tried to arrange the items in increasing order of intensity. It was very much a collaborative effort; I think we each came up with four of the eight days, and we were in complete agreement about how to order them.

The list goes like this:

1. The four funniest things you've ever heard, and the four saddest things you've ever heard
2. The four places you most want to go to, and four things you need at home
3. The four gods/superheroes you most identify with, and the four you least identify with
4. Four talents/superpowers you have, and four talents/superpowers you want
5. Four songs from you to you, and four songs from you to others
6. Four things you are grateful for, and four things you want to change about your life
7. The four most important things someone has said to you, and the four most damaging things someone has said to you
8. Four things you are terrified of, and four things you desire intensely

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day 10. 1 Confession.

I've thought long and hard about this - should it be big? Should it be trivial? Funny? Serious?

In the end, I simply decided that it should be real.

My confession:

I don't want the life I have. If the Angel of Death came down right now and offered me his hand, I would bargain for at least a week to clean up my room, sort out funeral arrangements, burn my half-assed diaries, give away my belongings, and get the hell out. Actually, for a personal reason, I would see if he would let me hang around till after mid-March, then I'd be all his.

Why? Because on most days, my life feels like it has been a complete and utter waste.

Now, before the God or New Age squads start - shut it. Really. Because all you have to offer are platitudes; nothing in your relentlessly 'love and light' worlds, whether Jesus-based or 'suffering is an illusion' or 'life is a gift'-based, helps - at all. Neither does the Wayne Dyer, 'Law of Attraction', CBT 'change your thoughts' New Age shit. None of it. It might change things for a day, or a week, but because it never reaches the depths, the feeling comes rushing back. And whilst it may be factually, Myers-Briggs 'S' true, the practical "It's what you've got, babe," doesn't help either.

Let's be brutally honest: those soothing platitudes are more about you than about the person who's feeling the pain - all parroted rules/thoughts that you mouth at these moments because feelings like this make you panic and you have to push them away: so you're unable to be real, to be with the person in that moment. That is where G-d, Spirit, Source is, not in your precious little 'Jesus loves you'/'Well, change your thoughts and the world will change!' chirpy moments.
Keep them away from me, please.

Love from friends? That DOES help, because it's real, because it makes me aware that my life has made a difference to others - because I think loving and being loved is the ONLY reason for being here. Not only that, it's only recently that I've started being able to *feel* love when it is offered. That is always welcome. But though that eases the emptiness and sense of waste, it still hovers in the background, waiting to pounce.

There's only one thing to be done: pull a Pema Chodron and sit with it, breathing deeply, letting it be what it is. Embrace it. Love it.

The first thing that comes up for me is that my life has been 'trivial', and thus has been a failure. I haven't had a major career; I haven't saved lives; I haven't made the world a better place - all of which would have been a way to mitigate, or even nullify, what feels like the biggest failure: not having a husband and children of my own.

*Breathe* Under the surface.

Obviously, I'm not special enough or pretty enough or glamorous enough or sparkly enough or high-maintenance in your face enough or lovable enough to be THE person that is the most important someone in another person's life. The supportive one through various things, maybe, but not THE one.

*Breathe deeply* And again. Further.

I am fucking SICK TO DEATH of being happy for everyone else, watching their lives motor past mine, especially since quite a lot of the time, I don't think they should be marrying whoever it is they're marrying, having children, whatever.

*Breathe* And dive.

I am utterly weary of living my life without integrity, and even more, watching those around me, especially those I love, do the same. Just recently (and repeatedly), I have wanted to grab a close friend and say to him, "LISTEN TO YOURSELF!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING AND *WHY* ARE YOU DOING THIS TO YOURSELF???" Then I realised that if I did it to him, I would have to do it to myself. I'm utterly tired of remaining silent about practices around me that go so deeply against my values, I feel ill thinking about them. I am utterly weary of knowing what I know about 'pillars of society' that make me barely able to look at them. I am weary of remaining silent to 'protect others'. All I want to do is be real, speak up and let the chips fall where they may.

*Breathe*...and dive

My life is way too small. I need more depth, more challenge, more abundance, more freedom. My life is the life of a survivor. Work is way too small - I find admin soul-deadening; there are so many things I do better. Money is tight. The space I live in is too small. Church/religion is too small, and in some ways, diametrically opposed to my spirituality - I am about relationship; in so many ways, it feels like most religious people are about avoiding it. It's running out of air. The way I'm living my spirituality feels twisted, dislocated.


I can see a young me panicking and thinking, "Nobody loves me!" Even then, I felt like a commodity to be used for other people's needs.

*Deep, deep breath* - and as deep as one can go...

God doesn't love me; God is just using me for His purposes - He doesn't give a fuck about me as long as He gets what He wants out of my life for His precious little pattern. Life is just a vehicle: for parents to have little extensions of themselves and feel grown up; for leaders to use as fodder to further their own ends; for others' needs/pleasure. Fuck it.

God can't be trusted. Life is to be borne. And if you, like my parents, gave me life just to further your own ends/feed your own ego - then you, my Lord, can go fuck yourself. I'm not going to make it easy for you.

And beneath that, a pain beyond words.


*Eyes snap open in utter shock*

Oh. I had no idea.

But finally, at long last, I'm honest. With myself and with G-d. And it's only from here that healing and real relationship can start.

Because I know, from the preciousness and depth of the close relationships that I do have, which must mirror that first relationship with G-d, that's not true. As I read what's above it, I know those are not true either, not completely - I have examples from my own life and those around me to know that, though feeling it is a different matter.

From this thought -
"This is an ordinary moment, and it is totally rocking. I love my peops, where I am and what I'm doing right now, simple as it is" - I know life for the incredible gift that it is.

But that does not invalidate this feeling or make it unworthy of acknowledgment. This pain is part of the whole and worthy of being loved - this pain, like love, is home.

So I turn to the Angel of Death - of whom I will never be afraid, and to whom I will ever be closer to than my own breath - hold him close for a moment, then step away. As I do so, I say:

"No, not yet. Much have I been, but even more have I yet to be and love here. As Gibran said,

Only another breath will I breathe in this still air, only another loving look cast backward,
Then I shall stand among you, a seafarer among seafarers.
And you, vast sea, sleepless mother,
Who alone are peace and freedom to the river and the stream,
Only another winding will this stream make, only another murmur in this glade,
And then shall I come to you, a boundless drop to a boundless ocean.

But another winding has this stream to make - perhaps short, perhaps long, but its journey to the sea must be complete, not cut short. And I will meet you at the ocean's edge when the time comes - not before, my friend."

Death nods his acquiescence, and if it is possible for Death to look happy, he does - and turns away.

And finally, as Paul on the Summer Tree, I understand the meaning of Death's visit and his offer:

And he understood then, finally: understood that it had to be naked, truly so, that one went to the God. It was the Tree, stripping him down, layer by layer, down to what he was hiding from...Naked or not at all, one went to Mornir. And oh, that was too much for them, too hard to be forced to go into the darkest places then, so weak, so impossibly vulnerable.
But not that night. Because of pride, of pure stubbornness, and because, most surely, of the dog, Paul Schafer found the courage not to turn. Down he went. Arrow of the God. So open the wind could pass, light shine through him. Last door.

And so too, G-d, I choose not to turn - facing you in all my fear, my mistrust, my anger, my vulnerability, my lack of integrity, my certainty that you love me not.

Only this have I left to pray: take me through that last door and bring me into life and love, which alone are real.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Day 9. 2 Images that describe your life right now and why

1. "Eventide" from Digital Blasphemy, one of my favourites. Because the night ocean under a full moon is where I feel like I am right now. Journeying on the waters of the soul with no idea of home, but trusting the light of the soul to lead whilst the psyche rows. Spirit is moving, no doubt, but where it leads, I know not. To quote George Eliot:

"I would not creep along the coast but steer out in mid-sea, by guidance of the stars."

So let the transformation come, and with it, home.


My tattoo - yet another way of taking my body back, but also a symbol of my transformation - it feels like a mark of initiation. I consider the wolf my totem (since my lioness dream, *a* totem, I guess), and the moon, a symbol of my commitment to the intuitive, the depths, the night - the divine feminine. Combined like this...they're me, as well as a symbol of my ability to take action, to commit and a deeper transformation, discussed in depth here.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Day 8. 3 Turn-ons.

I hadn't realised how cathartic and, well, angry yesterday's post would be. It's amazing how things just bubble up in this meme; things I didn't quite expect. It's the same with this one, which is just as intense, but in a different way.

I'm going to try NOT to repeat what I said here, but apologies if I do.

1. Know me so well. Almost nothing turns me on like this. I know the psychologically healthy thing is that I should be able to articulate my feelings at any moment and not expect a man to read my mind, blah blah blah. But there is little sexier than having a man come up and ask 'Are you ok?' or 'What's wrong?' and not take 'No' for an answer, because he knows you. Nothing like him knowing that you need a back rub, a bath drawn, a little bit of room, some pampering, because HE KNOWS YOU. Sometimes better than you know yourself.

And that goes both ways. It's up to you to get to know him so well - and do the same for him.

2. Touch me now. Not tonsil hockey. Not grabbed in a massive hug when I'm not expecting it. But the little touches. The extra squeeze when we hug that makes me stumble slightly and brings me fully against you. Unconsciously rubbing or stroking my back or arm. The touch at the small of the back that says 'Mine.' Brushing me when we pass just because. Being secretly naughty and touching me somewhere that's publicly unremarkable, but privately drives me wild.

This includes all the little established couple touches: hands, knees, hair ruffle, Eskimo kisses, all sorts of kisses (but quick if they're public), leaning up against each other, adjusting clothing, all of it. Sheer, sheer pleasure.

And let's NOT leave out sex - from tender, languorous sex to...well, perhaps not here...

3. Masculinity: Midnight Sidhe and I are unanimous on this. When I mentioned to an acquaintance that I loved it when men were protective, he smugly claimed that he knew that. "Why?" I asked. "Because man-haters like you always do."

I was torn between killing him and laughing at him. I chose to ignore it - clearly, he'll never get to #1 on this list.

I love men; I could watch them all day. From broad shoulder to narrow hip, to how they walk, to their sweet shyness when they don't know what to say when you're upset and give you something to make you feel better. When they're jealous (within normal bounds - abusive and controlling is NOT ok). When they're concentrating, lighting up, thinking...all of it. When they puff out their chest and protect you. Those glances, intense conversations, serious flirting...

...and let's not leave out their aftershaves or their 5 o'clock shadow. And that little bit of chest hair when the top button is opened - or even better, when they look down their shirt for some reason and you can see they have *the perfect amount*. I've been known to have to think, 'FOCUS, Irim, FOCUS!' for fear of losing the thread of a conversation with a male friend who had done just that. The hairline at the back of their neck. Their hands. And yes, that.

Gorgeous. Chuck in everything from Day 3, making him a man, and this Atalanta might just find herself losing her first race.

And loving it.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Day 7. 4 Turn-offs.

1. Selfishness: at the core of all of it, and it encompasses almost everything. Whether you climb the career ladder at the expense of others; don't consider others when you do things; don't make time for those who care about you but expect them to ; see your kids as an extension of yourself; make it all about you; feel entitled to have things done for you RIGHT NOW; think your view is the only view - and anything that proceeds from that, including watching people do things and not offering to help - I have absolutely no time for you whatsoever. And most of my schadenfreude arises when the selfish get exactly what they deserve.

2. Religious asshattery/rigidity/hypocrisy: I've experienced so much of this, beginning with my family, I don't even know where to start.

One of the best examples of this was an acquaintance who did a climb for charity, and the recipient organisation was something I supported wholeheartedly: one that would help kids, so I sponsored her - until she excitedly added on her sponsor sheet, 'I've spoken to someone high up in the charity, and he said we could channel the money to CATHOLIC KIDS!!!!!!' At this point, not only did my name come off her sponsor list, but I wrote in protest, only to get others saying that one should 'take care of one's own tribe first.'

I was so repelled by the transparent selfishness/tribalism of it that, on that day, I swore never to funnel my charitable giving through a religious organisation if I could help it.

Because for me, here's the deal: those in greatest need get first. There is NO order, NO preference, NO 'you're 'ours' and you get first'. The most vulnerable first, full stop. Because there IS no Catholic or Muslim; black or white. There is, as far as I am concerned, only humanity. My money will go where it most needed, regardless of race, creed, religion, tribal affiliation. Read my lips: all I care about is that those who need get. Religion has no place here, except as God's vehicle to provide material and spiritual comfort.

Rigidity: plenty of it in all sorts of circumstances. For that, let me refer you to this entry of mine with the passage from Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper that sums it up. "Without colour..." Will said reflectively. "I don't know. Maybe because the Dark can only reach people at extremes - blinded by their own shining ideas or locked up in the darkness of their own heads." Sums up far too many religious folk of all stripes far too well.

Hypocrisy: if you're claiming to be the perfect specimen of X religion because you follow all the rules, get this: everyone has a right to be relentless in holding you to them, where we would be much more forgiving with those who are more moderate and admit struggling, doubt and their humanity. So, if you're virulently and vocally 'pro-life', you don't get to be pro-war and pro-death penalty. If you're virulently anti-gay marriage, your ass is ours when you're caught on Clapham Common. If you're a conservative poster boy priest for the Pope who judges his flock in every interaction, from in private to the pulpit, be prepared to be judged.

Why? See #1 and #3. Religion is not your stick to beat those not like you, or to puff yourself up because of some imagined status, and it certainly is not meant to be the LARP it so often becomes, with its own universe separate from G-d's reality. Religion is meant to be your door to let G-d in, to develop a relationship with Him, a way to love Him and His creation.

Religion is a means, not an end - not a way to separate yourself from G-d and others, but to find that you are, in fact, at one with them.

3. Lack of authenticity. I can smell fake from a mile away, and the spikes are out the second I do. My particular pet peeve is the 'sugar/sweetness/light' peddled by those who can be acerbic about most things/feel perfectly comfortable dumping all their anger/darkness on you, but suddenly, when you criticise one of their untouchables, they become completely incapable of understanding hyperbole, offering thoughtful contributions and go all breathy, wide-eyed and 'Oh, you CAN'T say that, maybe the robber with an AK47 didn't MEAN to kill anyone,' 'You know, you really can't say/think/do that,' (Yes, in point of fact, I CAN) or 'It's so UPSETTING when you get angry,' (but clearly, YOUR being angry/upset and dumping it on me is NOT), peddling lack of engagement and condescending moral superiority as charity. If you want me to deal with your shadow, you'd damned well better be prepared to deal with mine.

Oh, and yes, excessive and unnecessary PDAs count here. Because we all know they're bullshit and that it's the little touches that show crackling chemistry between a pair.

And I'll spare you my feelings on the people who lose the ability to think for themselves when they become half a couple or a BFF - suddenly, their SO's/BFF's political/social/style ideas are their own - even if they were diametrically opposed two days ago. But I'm sure you can guess what those thoughts are.

I suppose this turn-off is really about shallowness: not dealing with what you don't want to deal with; not fully engaging with, not struggling towards, who you really are. None of us are fully there - least of all me - but there's a world of difference between moving towards it and amputating/denying it - and it's the latter that I'm talking about here.

4. Drama llama: Arm-waving, dramatic hand against forehead, hyperventilating, fake extreme emotional affect, running around telling everyone what needs to be done when you can't be bothered to lift a finger will NOT make me feel sorry for you. It will make me want to slap the hysteria out of you, most commonly phrased as 'It's an inconvenience, not a catastrophe.'

Get OFF the drama llama yourself, or I will take you off and stand you where it will spit in your face.

Bet you're all glad tomorrow is 3 turn-ons then, aren't you? ;-)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Day 6. 5 people who are important to you, in no particular order

I've decided that there are too many of you that mean too much for me to choose from those of you in my life right now. I couldn't leave any of you out - so, with the exception of my high school crew, y'all are disqualified for this meme. You know how much you mean to me - and if you don't, ask.

1. Bob Tupper: my 'It's Ac' coach for 4 years and my Modern European History teacher, he was my first surrogate dad, and takes a good chunk of the credit for my being able to overcome my childhood. From him I learned that you could still be loved if you were 'bad' (read: angry, upset) and that an argument didn't mean the end of a relationship. 'Thank you' isn't sufficient, Mr T, but it's all I have.

2. Jean Hill: my American history teacher who said to me, "I was discussing you with another teacher, and we think you have this HUGE unexplored verbal talent." My parents had always told me I was shit at anything but maths and science. Ms Hill opened my eyes and made me realise where my heart really was, though it took some time. I AM a liberal arts girl. I can DO science, but my soul is English and history and psychology and...

3. Nana-abba: Grandpa (maternal). This is hard, because I still love and miss him so very much. Just...the gentlest, most spiritual man I've ever known. And I lost him when I realised just how much there was to learn from him. I hope that the woman I am, spiritually, emotionally, in how I am to others, is someone he could be proud of.

4. Lou de Misa: my friend who worked the Child Crisis Line when I worked the Crisis Hotline. She committed suicide and I didn't see it coming. She was a surrogate mother when I needed one, and I wish I'd gone into the room to hug her the last time I saw her, even though she was busy. Requiescat in pace.

5. Nicki, Lari, Sue and crew: this is a cheat - but my high school pod counts as one person, in my eyes. Thank you for being my first friends, for sticking with me despite how difficult I was - for being my shelter, my laughter, my strength when I most needed it. And for pushing the friend button when we found each other on facebook. You were some of the best times in my life at one of the worst times, and halfway across the street or halfway around the world, you will always, always, be a part of me and have a place in my heart.

As will everyone currently and previously in my life that I love so dearly that aren't on the list. You have made me who I am, and words are inadequate to express what you mean to me.

And those of you I have yet to meet, I cannot wait: may our soul ties draw us ever closer to the corner where we turn and find each other. See you soon.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Day 5. 6 things you wish you'd never done.

1. Held back from saying 'I'm in love with you.' I did it because I didn't want to lose the friendship; didn't want to make things difficult. But over time, I've come to believe that as long as it isn't impossible - i.e., they're taken or they bat the other way from you, in which case, it's just putting them in an impossible position and making you deeply unhappy - it's worth the risk, and even if the answer is 'no', it's worth knowing.

2. Let my parents control me for so long. I wish I'd really fought back early: fought for extracurricular activities, fought for MY course choices, refused to be dragged onto endless summer computer/accelerated maths courses, fought to apply to a LOT of colleges AWAY from home. I might have gotten some or none, but if the former, what a different life this would have been.

3. Spent so much time with people who didn't share my values, outlook, sense of humour. Too much time trying to make friendships/social occasions like these work meant I missed out on ones that belonged to me.

4. Shut friends/teachers out growing up or tried to push them away in anger. I lost my two best friends after high school because of that, and though we've found each other on facebook, we'll never get back that closeness or those years in between, which would have meant we would have TRULY shared our lives.

5. Gone against my intuition. Always, always, ALWAYS THE WRONG ANSWER - even if what people were saying sounded rational and what my intuition was saying sounded crazy - it was always right and they were always wrong.

6. Converted to Catholicism - without really exploring the Anglican/Episcopal Church. I honestly don't know which way I would have gone. I can hear my clerical friends all saying 'Catholic, of course,' but I think they're wrong. Given the chance to be a minister to G-d's people, to have a real voice in what happens, to be able to argue without being labelled 'heretic', I might well have fallen on the other side of the fence and been happy. But once I'd chosen Catholicism, I wasn't going to leave unless I left Christianity or organised religion altogether, no matter how hard the attraction to Anglicanism tugged. Whether that was because of a sense of failure, of needing to stick with it, I don't know yet; maybe I never will.
I would never have had to deal with the misogyny; the sense of betrayal by the Church; the 'epithets' of 'heretic', 'angry feminist'; insufferable boys who felt privileged because they could be what I couldn't: an altar server, a priest, even if they weren't called to either; the sense of constant struggle with doctrine.

But then, I wouldn't have met so many people I know and love now - members of my inner circle amongst them.

And perhaps that is the lesson: in the end, maybe it is those things that we wish we'd never done that bring us that which is most precious: maybe in this case, those wrong turns have made the most amazing right.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Day 4. 7 Things that cross your mind a lot

1. Mass train of thought: Interesting hymn choice...crap modern mass setting...the MC is SLOW - what part of 'be in front of the celebrant on the last note' DO YOU NOT GET? - RUN this mass, don't let it run you...this is a mass, not a concert, and the choir is still deeply crap; E needs to go...ooooh, the ministers look CROSS and there's some sotto voce going on, find out what after mass...sermon thoughts...mmmm, incense is NOT Basilica - rose? myrrh?...they really need to let me TRAIN their altar servers...OMG, he's really thin and his ass looks HUGE in that lace cotta...right, off to clear the pews of hymn books this privileged congregation can't seem to pick up themselves/No, this week, someone else can do it.

2. We're 1:47 into the sermon - clerical hobbyhorse/insecurity/personal issues coming up in 5...4...3...2...1 - Houston, we have liftoff!

3. Cute baby/kid/father-daughter moment! *melt*

4. Oh. This is an ordinary moment, and it is totally rocking. I love my peops, where I am and what I'm doing right now, simple as it is. Beauty.

5. I have the absolute best, most awesome friends in the world. I do not deserve them, but thank you, God.


7. How do I do this; how can I be here for them? What if I'm the wrong person, what if I fuck up? I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS! Oh wait, yes I do. Breathe. Be present. Listen. Love. And get the hell out of the way of that which is greater than you, working through your intuition - G-d, Source, Holy Spirit, collective unconscious - and let It do what needs doing.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Day 3. 8 ways to win my heart

1. Authenticity. I didn't have to think too hard about what went at the top of this list, because everything else flows from this: be whole. Be REAL. Be comfortable in your own skin. This encompasses personal responsibility and self-awareness: grapple with what you need to grapple with; if someone points out something they think you're not facing, consider it, talk about it, admit it if it's true. My inner Sneakoscope is very sensitive and is constantly going off [I cannot tell you how loud it is in church! ;-)]. If it's silent around you, you're on.

2. Listen. Really, really listen. Not just to me, but to everyone. I'm likely to melt if I'm watching you *really* listen to someone, no matter who they are or how crazy I know they drive you, because it says so much about the kind of man you are.

3. Treat the people who serve you the way you would treat the pope (if you're Catholic) or royalty. Say 'thank you'. Smile. Be patient. If something is wrong, explain it calmly. If you treat a shop assistant, waiter/waitress, bank clerk like crap - shouting, being aggressive or mocking, as seems to be the wont in OX2, whilst being a complete sycophant around your boss, clerics or anyone you perceive to be above you, you're out the door - and that'll be via my foot connecting with your ass.

4. Love children. I don't just mean as in 'I want children one day.' I mean that in the deep, powerful, protective, almost archetypal way that I love children. As in 'No matter whose child it is, I will fall at the first ditch to protect them.' I will know from watching you with them and from the longing note in your voice when you speak of them - I will know if they're as much your vocation as they are mine.

5. Put your foot down with me. Yes, you read that right. "Irim, you're wrong," is one of the sexiest phrases I can hear. I'm a very strong, opinionated, provocative personality - and I need someone who'll stand toe to toe with me and offer equal resistance. Too often, people just agree or don't engage. I want a partner, not a pushover; someone to engage with me, to tussle with - someone with the strength to work alongside me.

6. Be cheeky, cheeky, cheeky. Teasing and banter are amongst my favourite ways to communicate. I expect you to give me cheek, and I expect you to be able to take it. I do NOT mean the kind of edged, angry teasing that hides anger or poking at a sensitive place - mockery makes me angry and is one step away from contempt. I mean the warm teasing that comes from affection and intimacy.

7. Have depth, passion, complexity. Yes, that's all one. It's about being at home in the deep, where it can seem still, but there are powerful currents and emotions running through that you are in touch with. It means noting everything that is there: love, anger, joy, pain, hate, tenderness, hardness - and being able to hold it, being comfortable with it. Loving and playing with the nuances and teasing out the complex patterns found there - even better, offer me some of yours to play with...and I'll let you play with mine.

8. Offer strength, protection, sanctuary. If there is one thing I long for when I wake at 4am and can't get back to sleep, it's this - being held. I spend a lot of time being strong, holding space for and being a sanctuary for others - I need one of my own. I am deeply emotional and I go to some very dark places: I need you to be able to hold the space for me and not be afraid, not pull back, when that happens. I need to be able to collapse against you and know you won't break. I'm NOT expecting you to fix it or make it better; I need to know you're there, like a lighthouse bringing me home in a fog or onto tricky shores. Sometimes, I want YOU to stand up for me. I can stand up for myself, but to have someone who cares enough to stand up and say, "She's NOT like that, you don't KNOW her. Back off," means a lot - in my presence or out of it.

Ja, feminist I may be, but opening doors and making sure I get home or on the bus/taxi safely wins me over bigtime. That's not about control, it's about care; making sure that I'm doing what I can and not putting myself at risk. Oh, and if I've been drinking and tell you I can walk home, and you look at me and say, 'No, you're not,' in a tone that brooks no argument, that gets you bonus points (see #5).

And that's the way love goes...

Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Day 2: 9 things about me

1. I adore old photographs. Put me in a room with them and you'll almost never get me out. I can't resist looking, reading expressions and body language, wondering what had happened before and what happened to them afterwards. Were they happy? Did they die young? Did their hearts break? Did they imagine what would happen to them, in those pictures where they were young and the world lay before them?

2. When I was about 7, the thought of crossing the equator and being in the Southern Hemisphere would put me on the edge of a panic attack (so, of course, I'd make myself think about it). I couldn't understand how people stood up in Australia - after all, they WERE upside down. The idea of winter in June was just BIZARRE. The idea of being near the bottom of the world without land for thousands of miles made me edgy. But the one that REALLY freaked me out? The Coriolis effect. The idea of water going down the toilet/drain the other way or the thought of watching cyclones spinning the other way on the weather report made me hyperventilate. I was long over that when, at dinner with a couple of friends in winter 2008, a Southern Hemispherean looked up the sky and said, "Orion. Of course, it's upside down." The old panicky feeling came back and I just held back from saying, "DON'T FUCK WITH MY STARS!"

3. I do divisibility rules on licence/registration plate numbers. They have to be at least three digits, of course, which means the UK has been a bit pants for that since 2001, when it changed the format. It relaxes me. My favourite divisibility rule is 7. I also solve quadratic equations at random intervals. I'm a lateral, intuitive thinker by nature - so I find the sequential nature of this relaxing when I'm tired. (Today, I saw 861 on a licence plate and discovered it was divisible by 7. Awesome.)

4. I'm an introvert. This seems to shock a lot of people, because I'm not backwards about coming forwards (read: opinionated) - but I need time alone to recharge. There are people that I can be with when I need that time, but they are very few and far between. I can't be around a whirl of emotions and not snap at someone. My favourite place at a large party is in the kitchen doing something, because it makes it manageable

5. Silver may be considered 'cooler', but I prefer gold or copper - I love their depth and warmth.

6. "Sleep well, dreamer." I loved it when a friend said that the other night, because it's true. I've ALWAYS dreamt often, in colour and vividly - nights where I don't remember snippets of at least three dreams are unusual. I love thinking them through, analysing them, turning them over - and I daydream a lot too. I also believe that the 'people dream in black and white' is an utter crock: if that were true, why wasn't that posited from when we started discussing dreams - Jung? Freud? Our minds recreate our world - and we see the world in colour. Why would we recreate a 1930s film world when what we SEE is colour? I actually believe that on hearing that, people started convincing themselves that's what they did.

7. I love the darkness - long winter nights, moving by intuition, the void - even though it's uncomfortable. Even the parts of it I don't love, I'm fascinated by - hence my addiction to shows like 'Wire in the Blood' and "Criminal Minds". I suspect there's a strong Goth clothing streak in me, though I've never explored that. Wounded men with dark streaks? Bring 'em on. Unrelieved daytime has never done it for me. Though I've always thought I'd have been a clinical psychologist given the chance, I have a hunch I might have gone for forensic.

The siren call of the darkness is never far off.

8. "You're about intimacy and deep connection." All I'd add to that is authenticity, passion and complexity. Most of me is encompassed in that, as evidenced by the fact that my deepest desire is to find my beloved and hold my own children in my arms. And I don't think I can explain it - I think you have to experience it for yourself.

9. "You've got the filthiest laugh, even when it ISN'T a dirty joke." Guilty as charged - and my friends hear it a lot :-D.

Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Stolen from MidnightSidhe: Ten Days. Day One.

I'm trying to get back to blogging, so I thought this exercise I swiped off MidnightSidhe might be a good place to start. Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.

1. I think you are one of the most wonderful human beings on the planet and I love you dearly, but I wish you could see how your unwillingness to face unpleasant truths about certain things has built this huge, transparent barrier in our friendship. I'm sure you've noticed that I don't speak to you as freely or at the depth that I used to. It's because I'm afraid that sharing so much of what I'm really thinking/feeling might break that shell you live in - and I'm afraid of what would happen then. I know facing those truths and dealing with them might mean frightening, huge changes - but it would also mean the emergence of gifts of yours that have never had the chance to express themselves: the truth shall set you free. I wish I COULD talk to you about how I'm really feeling.

2. There you stand, in your rigid moral certainty, pouring contempt on those who don't see or do things as you do. You think you are the epitome of strength and truth, yet all I see is a scared child lying to everyone, desperate for approval. I alternate between wanting to turn around and hold a mirror up to you until you SEE, until you break down with seeing, and putting my arms around you like a mother and telling you it will be all right. You think you are a bastion of trustworthiness, but your inability to be whole, to be real, makes you utterly untrustworthy. You believe that you are selfless, but your actions are all about you: either about protecting the narrow straitjacket you've created to prove that you are truly good - better than anyone else - or relating with others in ways that fulfil deep needs/desires you try to deny. You'd be more *truly* good if you'd just be real, rather than trying to amputate parts of yourself that you see as 'evil'. They aren't. They are simply part of the whole.

3. I wish you realised just how beautiful and amazing you are, and that you don't need to be like me or anyone else - you're incredible the way you are, and it is my privilege to be your friend and watch you unfold.

4. Thank you. I know it didn't end well - and I'm really sorry for my part in that - but thank you. Thank you for the days when seeing you made it hard to breathe; touching you even harder. Thank you for giving me back so much of myself. But above all, thank you for desiring me - though I heard your words, what told me that was your reality was your face when our eyes met and your hands when you touched me. I know there was no way it could have worked long-term, even if things had been different: but know that even though I may regret moments where I could have done things differently, I'm so glad we happened.

5. I am so sorry. We were such good friends, and now I've not been in touch in ages. When I didn't get a Christmas card from you this year, that hurt like hell, but I understand. You tried so hard, but I wasn't in a place to respond, not consistently. I need to write you a letter, but I'm so ashamed, I don't know where to start.

6. I'm sorry I couldn't be the person you wanted, but I'm even sorrier you couldn't love the person I am. I should have been the most precious thing in the world to you; that which you'd protect above everything, not someone to whom you said, 'It's not important; it doesn't matter,' when I finally told you I'd been sexually abused. I remember telling someone that I remember that by the time I was 4, I didn't care when you came home. She gasped in shock, saying, "You should have been his little princess!" I wish I could express how entranced I am - the exquisite joy and deep ache - when a little girl knows she is beyond safe in the arms of an adult male who absolutely adores her - her father, uncle, family friend. Even now, I can't look away. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. But I know you wouldn't get it.

7. I've heard that you miss me, but you haven't really tried, have you? You never tried. When it was sorting out my health, it bored you. Doing anything for me was utilitarian; it was never out of love. You pretended to really want to listen to me only when YOU needed an ear or when he sent you to get information. You betrayed me over and over again. He yelled; you pretended helplessness. Even then, you knew it was my weakness, didn't you? That I'd come running every time, thinking you were a victim - not the partner in crime you were. You will never betray me or any of mine ever again. You thought your role meant automatic unconditional love and someone who would take care of you when you needed it. You cannot manipulate, demand, guilt or assume love. That is obligation. Love is a gift, one without the strings - make that jungle vines - you felt the need to attach, because you were so afraid I'd leave if you didn't. You two didn't bank on my having a machete.

8. It suddenly occurred to me one day last year that YOU are my love map. You are the reason that, despite never having smoked (or wanting to), I find a man lighting up so sexy. Ditto a man being shaved with a straight razor. You're the reason dark hair and light eyes turn my head every time, at least briefly. And YOU are the reason that the cheeky guy will get me every time. I remember how I LOVED watching you cheek my mother ("BAAAAAAAAAAAJI") and how you'd break through that facade to get her to smile. How you'd get us Baskin Robbins sundaes behind her back. And how, when you came to us at your sickest, when you could barely get up, you brought laughter and momentary peace to a fraught house devoid of both. I adored you then - and still do. Someday, G-d willing, I'll find you and the rest again. I miss you guys so much.

9. I wish I could hug you one more time. I LOVED YOU SO MUCH, and I don't think I ever said it, though I hope I did. I wish, I wish, I wish you were still here. I knew then how much I loved you; I know now how much I need you - your wisdom, your spirituality, your unconditional love, our roots. I wonder what you would have thought of me as an adult. Wherever you are, I hope I do you proud.

10. I remain in awe of how effortless our friendship is; the depth of connection; of what a joy it is to be with you. Of how I can tell you anything; feel anything; be anything and know I am utterly safe. It shouldn't anymore, but it still surprises me when you say something I've said to someone else not 24 hours before - in almost the exact same words. I love that you call me on my crap. Sometimes, I sense such melancholy and aloneness in you. And I wish you'd let me reach it - or at least sit there with you. Love you - more when I see you.

Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you’d never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn-offs.
Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity

Creative pursuits and those who follow them make us anxious because it is through creative pursuits that we brush against the divine - far more than through standard religious pursuits, where we choose to meet God in a box. When internalised and seen as springing from the individual, it's no wonder the psyche cannot bear it. The concept of a daimon or a genius spirit is a brilliant one. Far too often, I've started an entry, thinking it'll go one way and it has gone in a completely different direction, through no aegis of my own.

Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert.