Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Reasons to be cheerful #4

A couple of Thursday's ago, as I was getting ready to leave for the Job center (then Cardiff), this day, I received the above featured calendar in the post. With this card;

The text is: dużo, dużo szczęšcia Marzeń, o które warto walczyć! Radości, która warto się dzielić! Przyjaciół, z którymi warto być! Nadziei, bez której nie da się żyć!

Of course it is...

Our friend google translate gives us an idea of meaning: lots and lots of luck, Dreams worth fighting for! Joy that is worth sharing! Friends with whom you should be! Hope, without which it is impossible to live!

They sit atop my door frame, that I can look up to them whenever needs must.

I can't quite capture how it feels to receive something like this, so unexpected, so touching. Using their photographs and some of my own from Facebook, Mat's parents Ewa and Irek and possibly with the help of a certain computer aficionado Bartek, made this just for me! As a reminder of the good times I had in Poland during my stay there spanning half of 2012. I think if I hadn't have had that home in Kazimierza Wielkiego, with 4 awesome Andrzejewskis looking out for me and making me feel at home, I wouldn't have lasted out as long as I did. They made what seemed like a scary and overwhelming life bearable. They're kind and considerate and really warm people, and they sent me a little piece of that generosity of spirit and encouragement.  

Just over a week later the last box of my stuff arrived from Poland, odds and ends that didn't fit into the other boxes, and, this (!!!) : 

A miniature of the block of flats that was my home for a Summer and an Autumn!

Complete with beautiful lit-windows!!!

I mean how awesomely thoughtful, creative, loving, I just can't think of adjectives that are fit enough! How spectacular a surprise is this?!

I couldn't test it out until today, when the EU - UK adapter came through the post, and then I had to wait a few hours because there was another (possibly wind induced) power cut this afternoon. Me oh my was it worth the wait! I've always wanted to make a light box, now I know people 'in the know', who could help me out. I don't think any team could ever top this effort though.

It made me think, how bloody lucky I am that there are people out there, not just people who love and care about me, but people who actually go to efforts to raise a smile in me. And it works, I feel warmer, I feel, potential, something like hope, gratitude, and all of these other strong and good things that I'm capable of feeling but really need reminding now and then. A little message here and there, an interesting link, band recommendations or a photo-message here and there, these are all little touches of extension, little draws inwards, small acceptances... I wish I had more courage to create and share...

Today I sat in the living room and filled in numerous online forms for what may well be virtual jobs, I didn't leave the house again, but, the light was nice.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

I catch up: each night, now. I must capture one taste, one touch, one vision from the ruck of the day's garbage. How all this life would vanish, evaporate, if I didn't clutch at it, cling to it, while I still remember some twinge or glory.

Books & lessons surround me: hours of work. Who am I? A freshman in college cramming history & feeling no identity, no rest? I shall ruminate like a cow: only that life end not before I am born: windows jerk and sound their frames.

I shiver, chilled, the grave-chill against the simple heat of my flesh: how did I get to be this big, complete self, with the long-boned span of arm and leg, the scarred imperfect skin?

I remember thick mal-shaped adolescence & the colors of my remembering return with a vivid outline: high school, junior high, elementary school, camps & the fern-huts with Betsy: hanging Joanne: I must recall, recall, out of the stuff is writing made, out of the recollected stuff of life.

Sylvia Plath
9th February 1958

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Life Series

A few years ago Attenborough's fantastic series "Life in the Undergrowth" aired on the BBC. I say a few, I was studying for my A-Levels, the end of 2005. As is my want apparently, I was grappling with a low mood, on and off, not socializing, hating the fact that I was still in school, not brave enough for college and buses and my own clothes. My days were punctured with occasional ups, now and then I spent time with my younger cousins, being off, laughing, I still enjoyed painting and drawing, and thanks to a little iPod mini, music was practically omnipresent in my life - a welcome and novel phenomenon.

One thing I remember, with a biting exactitude, is feeling crap one Wednesday in November, tidying up my room after letting it get out of hand as usual (books and paints and general 'stuff' untidied and piling up), changing my bed, showering, and getting ready to switch off for the night. After not finding my book I switched on my little square tele and heard it announced that a new nature program was coming on next.
I went to grab a cuppa. 
For the next hour I watched, mezmerized as tiny insects back-flipped over Eiffel Tower (equivalents in human scale) heights, there was equipment that captured more astonishing and fantastical footage than I knew was possible to exist, colours, textures, suddenly life seemed so much richer than I had previously suspected.

It felt good. Just as suddenly there was more than Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, those prefab blocks, plywood desks and bubbled linoleum corridors.

When people say things like "oh yeah, bit of escapism, does you good now and then", and such like, I can't help but disagree with that, in relation to programs like this. I resent the fact that they're alluded to escapes and therein lies the enjoyment, of course the spectacle is hypnotic, but the spell for me is the embrace of life, everyday life, not the flight from it. In Undergrowth Attenborough brings in your common or garden crawlies, and in most of his docs, certainly the Life series, there's always a link to our lives and the mesh of the biosphere, similarities, responsibilities. All of them wonder-inducing.

For over 7 years now programs like that have managed to elevate real malaise, change it, redirect its energy somewhere, somehow. They've always been... Restorative.

So, professor Brian Cox's  Wonders of Life this evening was a very welcome lifeline. Seemingly perfect timing. I'm dipping and semi-surfacing at a more alarming pace than is normal of late. Tomorrow, that is, today, Monday the 28th, I have an interview for a SEN Learning Support Assistant role at my old secondary school. The contract is until May 2014, with the prospect of extension pending government funding. The interview will consist of my creating and leading an activity for a class, alone, in front of a panel of staff, with a formal interview to follow.

I don't want to do it. I don't want to have to struggle to try to remember the Welsh counterpart to the appropriate English word I'm thinking about (a word which I most likely never learned as a teen in Welsh medium education at any rate), in front of a judging panel and a class of adolescents with concentration issues. I don't want to get the job and have to spend over a year living with my parents in a nothing little town.I am sorry to say it, but it's true, for a culture-starved would be creative mind, this place is, well, it seems to leach something out of me. Likewise the thought of returning to a place I have mostly negative memories of, as a defeated adult, still ashamed of my too-roomy body, still wishing I was cooler, has actually moved me to fits of tears.

After a bout of the wet stuff earlier, in the dark of my folks front room, hiding from my family, I recalled Dr. Coxy's new Wonder series beginning.  "Right" I thought, "this will surely shine a light into me".

During my time at university, when I truly couldn't muster the energy to leave my bed and wander the 50yards onto campus to be a normal functioning Fine-BAstard, I would lie on the floor, on my side, hands between thighs, and watch whatever documentaries were to be enjoyed on I-player. I like lying in a blanket cocoon on a floor, but additionally, for internet streaming purposes I had to lie right by the door because the Wi-Fi signal any further away from it was dire.
Oh I complain but it technically got me out of bed...
Both Wonders of the Universe and Wonders of the Solar System had a profound effect on my sanity and well-being as they are. I found I could in fact leave the house and go for a walk nowhere, 'cos'. I wasn't worthless. I was an ancient and shining star. I was ok.

Other times Soph and I would sit together and watch Michael Palin wandering around, wondering. And how great were they too.

I think now, that watching these wandering wonderers sort of peeled away at a latent, underlying layer of hope. I've always been a dreamer, slightly outside of life, unintentionally looking in and contemplating its nature, certainly the nature of the look as it happens.

I suppose the misguided little hopeful residue was deposited because there was some sense that if these wonderful minds could make something out of their beautiful meanderings, then, well, mightn't I?
In the very same way that reading, or taking in visual arts, or music too, gives you a sort of courage, if these misfits begot beauty from their pain and suffering, there was hope.

Isolation for suitable minds, can turn into something, with adequate tools, can generate a thing which extends outwards and reaches people. People who need reaching.

I needed reaching tonight. The constant notion of my ever backing into the past, needed a shift, or at least, an 'ok'.

Well I cried for a bit. Couldn't settle. The magic spell wasn't cast.
I eat, I threw up, I paused, I rewound, I was slow.

The professor talked about joules and the potential energy of gravity, distances, there were figures and equations and I was stumbling into them.

This really is life I thought, I sit and watch it happen, some semblance of control on my behalf is feigned by the existence of the remote control. Yet all the while, I'm not quite anywhere. Things are happening and I don't know why...

Then I started again, sat down with the lights off and really watched.

It may have taken me almost three hours to appreciate an hour long episode but I'm alive now.
It worked. WE worked.

I'm paraphrasing awfully, but he talked about the second law of Thermodynamics, and the fact that energy doesn't 'end', it just changes form. There are ordered predictable kinds, and disordered too. What I didn't realize, but which makes sense when paired with the above, is that all the energy that there is now, is all there's ever been and all that will be, it just changes. (I think... It could easily have been a 4 or 5 hour watch/replay!)

I think, possibly, death was ultimate chaos..

"By converting chemical energy into heat, living things change an ordered form of energy into a very disordered form of energy, which is released back into the universe. Every single human being can generate 6000 times more heat per kilogram than the sun."

Life is energy, and contrary to how I feel most of the time these days, I have a reserve somewhere that is occasionally tapped.
I am made of stars and I will shine. I have a heat in me and I will share my warmth.

"By converting one form of energy into another, life is able to hold on to just a tiny amount of order for itself, and in effect this is what allows us to stave off enough time before the inevitable decay of the universe." Into chaos.

I loved it.

Essentially, living things borrow order from the universe (which we are of course a part of) and export it as disorder.
We have to export more energy, disordered heat, than that which we take in that is ordered.

This is what is meant by life.

"We absorb sunlight that has its origins in the very start of time, and release it as heat, that will last for eternity..."

Well, what about that?

Do seek it out, I've naturally not done it any justice, for lucid and amazing was it, alas, flagging and cloudy am I.

After watching I felt compelled to commit some of his wonderfully ordered thoughts to my memory, potentially disorderly as you're apt to judge.

During my writey-typey notation the television continues quietly in the background like cosmic radiation. At 01.00 AM my radio-telescopic ears picked up a MadMen signal. It was season 3, Don was being asked to sign a 3 year contract with the agency, security for them, panic for him.

Who knows who or where they're going to be in 3 years?!

I watched along, back in time, in the present. I'm not fixed I know, it's more than probable that my positive thoughts for tomorrow will likely dissipate the moment the grey light touches my curtains with morning, but, as my great and beautiful friend Andy would say, things are happening, the self abides, the roller coaster continues, flow.

And if you need to know it again, once more, and always...


You are ok

I've got nothing to say

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Without you today's emotions would be the scruff of yesterday's

Today's walk to the Job Centre at a crisp 08.35 sure was a lot more pleasant than I'd anticipated. I bumped into my grandmother on the way back home, as she was walking down to hers, it was nice to have a stop-and-chat for once. My mother then passed in the car on the way to collect a parcel in Pontardawe and purchase some more balls for the dog. I tagged along for the ride and saw this, thought S would appreciate my audible guffaw;

Bubbly Bastard!
I also happened upon an empty and beautifully eerie double decker, alone in a car pack, and an Ystradgynlais decked in red white and blue bunting... I hope the French haven't taken over yet (I'm planning on doing an Open University degree in French and Spanish if I can swing the funds, but it'll be 3 years at the least before I can jab my way out of a tricky situ)!

Then we went for a drive up Brecon way, to see the white. It was so beautiful on the way up I couldn't quite think of anything else in my mind, like, 'this is so much, I don't know why we don't all bask and worship in it'. Drive by...

So, that was the loveliness of the outside variety. In an attempt to feel more positive I've decided (out of real necessity!) to make space in my room, care about it again, so that it hopefully cares for me when I need space, hoping it'll cradle me in inspiration. All the key components are there...

Finally getting around to (carefully!) stacking all my books away, making space on my 'desk', and resurrecting some photo-lovelies from from my box of 'past wall pieces' actually made a difference, and shiny lights and colours always makes a kid throw out a couple smiles eh. I'm also getting better at getting 'round to sticking 'stuff' down in some of my (many) 'sketchbooks'. Though this usually occurs when I'm supposed to be doing serious stuff like filling in forms and whatnot, it nevertheless makes me feel productive and not so shit.

Though this aforementioned task typically involves a lot of looking through old 'bits', (pictures, stickers, tickets, memory documents basically, little paper triggers) recently I haven't been so maudlin in this task. Where before I would be wistful for bygone days, rosily yet melancholically nostalgic for that which (never really quite) was, nowadays I'm just plain old glad that I lived those little pages. I'm particularly fond of the 'Easy Rider' bus ticket from Hay Festival. All bus tickets should be christened thusly...

So, at this point in the evening, I'm feeling ok. Puzzled about the ever-encroaching future for sure, but a little more in tune with the past.

Finally, does anyone think I could do this;

I'm not worrying about Physiology here, I can work with that, but minimum fundraising is £3,300, by October...

Nos da.