Writing

Cockroach Pursued by a Wasp

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In which we learn something disturbing about the miraculous animal kingdom by turning you into a cockroach pursued by a wasp.

There’s a wasp out there in the natural world. It is known as the Emerald Cockroach Wasp, and it is much prettier than it sounds. In size and shape, it resembles an ant more than a traditional wasp, and unlike most insects, its body is an iridescent turquoise. Nobody knows why this wasp is such a striking colour. To look at it, perhaps you would be less repulsed by it than other wasps*.

You are wrong, dear reader. You should be more so**.  And if by chance you awoke this morning in the form of a giant cockroach*** you should actively flee if you see one. Flee. Flee.

The colour of the wasp, however odd for its genus, is not the interesting (and frankly awful) characteristic of this anthropoid. What really defines this creature is its preferred methods of reproducing, specifically of laying its eggs. On the living form of a poisoned cockroach.

And just to make this more traumatic^ we’re going to speculate you are a little cockroach^^ minding your own business, wandering about the tropical forests of South Asia.

You’re the average size of a grown man’s hand and are one of the world’s hardiest insects, adapted to living in extreme temperatures of both hot and cold.  Your body is split into three segments, and a ten-segmented abdomen. Two large compound eyes made up of 2,000 lenses (humans have one) that allow you to see almost 360 degrees of your surroundings, although you are unable to see red light. Two antennae, located on your head, house your scent organs. Two organs called cerci on your backside, much like parallel tails, allow you to detect air movements. In short, you are a pretty impressive little beastie, much bigger and stronger^^^ than, say, a blue wasp.

As a cockroach, you’re wandering about searching for something to eat with the mouth located on the underside of your head. You can eat a lot of stuff including glue, hair and leather, but you’re unlikely to come across these delights in your tropical forest homeland, so let’s say you’re on the hunt for a carrion. When suddenly, a fellow insect, half your size at best, and nowhere near your weight appears from the undergrowth and grabs your head.

At first, it might not seem so bad. You are by far the stronger of the two creatures and begin to fend it off. It is at this point the wasp stings you in the brain. Specifically, the female wasp stings you in the ganglia, the cluster of nerve cells responsible for sensation and movement. At this point your ability to fight the wasp is disabled. The sting introduces a neurotoxin which paralyses your forelegs. Then just for kicks^* the wasp proceeds to chew off half of each your antenna. This is only beginning of your troubles.

The wasp then stings you again. Again it aims for the ganglia, this time injecting a chemical designed to block your escape reflex. A strange feeling is now passing along your body. The natural instincts causing you to fight and run are rendered mute. After a few seconds, you are a compliant and calm victim. Without any fight or flight left in you, the little wasp, who hasn’t a hope in hell of carrying you alone, simply leads you like a dog on a chain to a burrow nearby.

Down, down into the burrow you are led. You have no will to resist. When the wasp decides you are deep enough, it will let go, but you will not flee. You will simply remain still and brain numb as the wasp lays an egg on your body.

Do you see where this is going?

The wasp will then retreat from the hole, leaving the egg nestled upon your abdomen. It will cover the hole with leafy debris and pebbles to keep other, arguably less nasty, predators from finding you. Meanwhile, you’ll sit undisturbed in the hole. And then the egg will hatch.

With the neurotoxin still strong in your system, you won’t so much as twitch. The wasp larva will attach itself to your body and begin feeding on your insides. And it will eat you from the unessential parts in. After five days or so of nibbling, it will dig itself into your body and start thriving on your organs, leaving the nerves and breathing system as a tasty dessert to the rest of you. And due to this dining order, you will be alive the whole time*^.

Eventually, after eight days of feeding, the wasp will form a cocoon inside your body and emerge later from your dry, empty husk as a fully grown wasp. At least your tortuous last week will be over. There are no wasps in cockroach heaven**^.

At least your tortuous last week will be over. There are no wasps in cockroach heaven**^, I’m sure.

Why am I telling you all this? Why did I bother to invite your imagination to pretend you are doomed insect being eaten alive? Usually, I would conclude with some philosophic prose on how we ourselves are either the wasp or the cockroach, but that’s not why I bring this up.

Mostly, it is because earlier today I was sitting downcast in front of the television when a nature documentary came on featuring a cockroach who landed itself in the circumstance I described above. Despite not entirely cheering my spirits, I did think ‘well, at least I’m not a cockroach being eaten alive by a wasp’, so there’s that. Either I’ve perked you up with the same thought, or I’ve fueled your nightmares for the next week or so. If you find yourself having a bad day, however, I think it might be something worth remembering.

You’ve got to admit it’s actually interesting though, right?   Gross and disturbing, but interesting.

Does writing about insects make anyone else itchy? I’m going to need to shower now.

Pleasent non-wasp-infested dreams, hypothetical readership.

 


Footnotes

*I write this as somebody with a particular dislike of waspy, buzzy members of our animal kingdom. In my opinion, they are tiny flying spears with anger issues. I once saw one sting a woman in the eye. Completely unprovoked. Stung her in the eye. Forgive me my prejudice. However, I’m sure once you read about the Emerald Cockroach Wasp you’ll at least be more wary of the Hymenoptera clan.

**At this point, you can simply take my word for it and hop on your merry way, ignorant of the horrid tortures happening in the natural world. However, if you are brave enough to put knowledge before comfort, ride on with me…. maybe bring a bucket. For the puke.

***Metamorphosis II: One man awakes as a giant cockroach and another awakes as a giant emerald cockroach wasp. The hunt is on. I’m kidding, here, but I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood to make it into a legitimate film starring Bruce Willis as the wasp.

^Because I realise, I have hyped it up more than I probably should have.

^^There are 4,600 to choose from. I’m not sure which kind hang around in tropical South Asian climates, and we’re here to talk about the wasp. Feel free to use creative license and pick any cockroach you like; heck, you can even make up your own if you like. Be whatever cockroach your heart desires, just don’t get attached to your new form.

^^^I feel sorry for the cockroach sometimes. I mean, they’re not portrayed well on TV. I myself would not be best pleased to find one in my home, but they are, as creatures go, relatively interesting and ‘harmless’ (not 100% sure on all 2,400 varieties). At least I’ve never heard of a cockroach stinging someone in the eye.

^*I’m not kidding; biologists have yet to determine the exact reason the wasp does this.

*^Annnnnddd puke.

**^ We’re all thinking it!

 

The Ship of Inkyseus~

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In which we examine the re-designing of this blog by pondering philosophical ideas about its author, and how she is similar to an ancient, metaphorical, Greek sailing vessel.

There’s a thought experiment known as The Ship of Theseus, which poses the question as to whether an object which has had all of its original components replaced over time is still the same object.

The story is thus*: Long ago in Greece, a king by the name of Theseus, sets out on a ship, and wins a great battle before returning safely home. In his honour, the Athenians erect the ship as a monument to his glory. Eventually, however, the ship’s boards start rotting. The devoted Athenians cut new boards, strip away the rotting wood, and affix new planks. A while later, of course, the sail becomes weathered and torn. Again, the Athenians trim a new sail from fresh cloth and fix it to the mast. Then the mast itself is ridden with termites and must be replaced. Then the rudder breaks and more boards fall apart and the oars are lost. Soon, every remnant of Theseus’ vessel has been removed and replaced with new parts, which poses one very important question: is it still fundamentally the original ship as sailed by Theseus?

If so then how, but if not, then at what point did the ship become a different ship?

I don’t bring this up to wax philosophical or write a detailed analysis of the arguments for and against the paradox. That’s not the post you’re going to get**.  So, let us put a pin in the Ship of Theseus for a minute and turn our attention to what does need discussing, namely, the redesign of this blog***.

If you are brave and bored enough to venture into the archives^ you’ll notice throughout my years of owning this particular part of the internet, I have taken long (often very long) leaves of absence. In some cases, this is because I actually do still write, but choose not to share the posts because they are private. In others, this is because I find myself wondering what the point is. In almost every case, I have eventually shrugged these feelings off and returned.

The trouble is, for me, writing is a particularly personal endeavour. I never write anything without intent. Therefore, writing can be emotionally draining, enlightening, explorative, a means to let go of painful thoughts or understand difficult events and feelings, emotionally sustaining, stabilising, to record, to learn and etc and etc. To make matters more complicated, I always try to give this blog meaning as well. If you’ve been following me for the nearing seven years it has been in existance^^ you’ll know that the elements of the design have remained constant for almost as long.

In my latest disappearance, I haven’t actually lacked the want to write or to post, I just didn’t feel doing so had any meaning. I even analysed the idea of deleting the blog, because I wasn’t sure what I was doing with it anymore. It was meant for so much at the beginning when I was younger and super eager, and had a ridiculously organised and impossible plan for my life. I posted then because I wanted to get my writing out there and seen, and I wanted (somewhat egotistically, I now realise) to record everything about my life going exactly the way I had imagined it would. When, however, life started to ease away from that ideal, I desperately clung to this blog as a means of preserving it. I wanted to present to the world someone who knew what they doing; someone who had interesting thoughts and an interesting life. I tried to be something else. I tried to make the blog different each time, but without changing the core aspect of what it was meant for. I was unconsciously holding on to the life-plan I had set out at 21. This blog was like the ship of Theseus left to simply rot away.

The truth of the matter is I too am like the ship of Theseus. Who I am and what I want have developed steadily over time, piece by piece, thought by thought. I have become someone who resembles the person who started this blog, but I’m constructed by entirely different elements.

As my life veered my motivations changed, as circumstances altered so to did my understandings of the world. I met people who impacted on what I valued and how I see myself. I learned lessons the hard way. My social circle has changed, my geographic location has changed. Everything about the 21-year-old (somewhat deluded) girl who began this has been replaced, gradually, just like the legendary ship.

At the core of me am I the same person? I don’t know. I’ve spent many a wakeful night asking myself that, and never come to any solid conclusion. Whether I am or not isn’t really important. The significant part is, I’m not made of the same parts. My experiences have shaped my thoughts and feelings beyond what that person would even be able to understand back then.

This blog as it stood became meaningless the moment the person who started it vanished. I’m not sure at what point she vanished completely, but she did. I didn’t want to realise that. I was still holding onto her, this girl who had her young life ahead, who believed life would work out exactly as she wanted, who had potential and hope. I’ve come to understand recently that holding so tightly to her stops me from creating new plans and having new hopes. There was only going to be any meaning in writing and posting here again if I pulled the blog in line with who I am now.

So, I tentatively test blogged yesterday with something I had wanted to write about and share for a long time. The idea was to explore how I felt about having shared it, even without extensive editing^^^, but when I clicked to check the upload was displaying, I was underwhelmed by what I saw. A header image that was taken many years ago; back then I found it an inspiring photograph of a place I often walked to think and feel. Now I live some 300 miles away and even when I didn’t, I stopped frequently visiting years ago. That place will always hold meaning for me, but not the same meaning as it did. The style and colours I once thought as vibrant and clean, were just dull. The name^* had no resonance at all. I tried to recall the reasons I had for choosing it and couldn’t come up with anything. Obviously, something about it held me at the beginning, but it held me captured no longer. The title didn’t represent me anymore.

To delete or not to delete, that dear hypothetical audience, was the question.

I started asking other questions as I hovered over the idea. Is deleting the blog extreme? Is the blog meaningless? If I delete this one, would I eventually start another? Should I preserve that old part of me? Will the things I have written here one day be something I look back on? Do they still have value even though I’ve changed? Am I merely clogging up the internet with useless, unnecessary drivel?*^ Is this really what I want; for something that has been a significant part of my adult life to be gone?

As you plainly see, I decided not to remove it. At least right now, I didn’t want it gone. Besides, even if I did, I could always come back and delete it later maybe having preserved the parts I found value in. But I needed to address a few things if I was going to continue. For starters, what did I want the blog to be?

The answer was actually a relatively simple and liberating one. I just wanted it to be a place I could write and share stuff. I didn’t want restrictions anymore. I didn’t want to worry if something fits into the purpose anymore. I just wanted to write honestly about things I think are worth others hearing. I want to record my life as it happens without worry about sounding professional and ‘perfect’ all the time. I want to connect with the world and people who might benefit from seeing someone having the same life issues or misunderstandings as they do. I just want to write and share stuff.

And thus, I started ripping up the rotting boards. I pulled down the tattered sail and recalibrated the rudder**^. I gave the site a name more in tune to the tone and style of the posts, and a tagline which better explains what the blog is actually about. I removed some of the widgets. I refreshed the colours^^*. I kept the core of what the blog had always been about (me, and writing, and living), but I attuned it to my new understanding of what that is. I gave everything a fresh coat of digital paint to represent it’s new place and meaning in my life.

This is a new ship. I stand upon the bow, clean wood beneath my feet and the wind in a billowing white sail. Will I write here more consistently? What will I write about exactly? I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll return in a few days having found the whole thing fruitless. Maybe you’ll come back in a week and everything will be gone. Error 404. This site no longer exists. There is a freedom in thinking that though. Whatever happens, I’ve let go of what this blog was when it started.

I’m ready to just write and see.

 


Footnotes

~The title sucks, but really I couldn’t think of anything else. Also, cover image can be found here.

*Shortened somewhat, and as I understand it based on my personal research. In some cases, the ship itself was altered by Theseus and his crew. In these instances, the ship is gradually altered en route and is therefore questioned upon its return home. The prevailing story, however, is the one given here. I have added a touch of personal flourish for dramatic effect, as I am want to do. You can believe everything you read on the internet, right? Right!? No, no you can’t. Be sure to do your own research. It’s a fascinating idea, anyway. I encourage you to explore it further.

**I wrote that having started and deleted a very stark segway into exactly that. I added this footnote because I’m proud I managed to redirect back before things got out of hand. Yay me.

***Don’t worry, it’ll all come together.

^Now located at the bottom of the page. You’ll need a torch, a dust buster, and if you don’t enjoy arachnids, some form of non-lethal insect repellent. Also, maybe a hat. You might look good in a hat.

^^ If you exist, here’s a huge shout-out to the hypothetical audience who have put up with almost seven years of my nonsense. I hope it at least has given something back to you even if it’s just a little laugh now and then.

^^^Because you don’t know how many posts you haven’t seen because my perfectionist mindset has prevented me from sharing anything I deem ‘not good enough’, which isn’t always a terrible thing but can be crippling to the joy of writing and sharing. Another problem in the consistently blogging corner.

^* Which was, for anyone including myself who might be reading in the distant future, Life Unwritten. As stated above, I don’t remember exactly why I picked this title, but it the word ‘Unwritten’ itself is taken from a popular-in-my-day Natalie Bedingfield song of the same name.

*^Yeah maybe. But that’s what the internet kind of is. At least 90% is unnecessary if enjoyable, and a good portion of that is drivel.

**^I am making that up; I don’t know if you can recalibrate a rudder. It sounds like a thing, which is why it works in the sentence, but I can’t be bothered to research it. Anyone out there know? Can you calibrate a rudder on ancient Greek ships? Seriously, no idea.

^^*Sorry about the grey writing. The format doesn’t allow me to change the colour, unlike that last one. If I find a way to brighten it up, I will, though that may take some exploring of the formats available.

The Castle Library which is my Soul

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Souls are places; I’ve always thought about this. A soul can be explored like a place and felt like a place. A soul can be retreated to like a place and intruded upon like a place. A soul can be fragile or strong depending what it is weathering and what it is built upon, just as a place.

I’ve always found my soul to be a castle, the interior of which is an endless library. The castle is high on a rock overlooking a vast sea. Outside it is always night. Too much light would ruin the volumes and volumes packing every available space inside.  Books which contain my memories, my knowledge, my ideas. They stretch out into every room of the labyrinthine castle, up into towers and deep into basements. The castle is sturdy. It has to be. The sea brings many storms.

Here in this forever night, it is quiet and still. Here I can be reflective and private, contemplative and questing without noise and distracting light^.

My light is that of bright, but flickering candles and shimmering silver stars.

The library inside the castle is curated by tiny creatures who store away my knowledge and thoughts in volumes of clothbound* books. Everything is lit with a glowing candlelight, warm and comforting.

The highest tower has a glass ceiling where the galaxy of stars can be seen in all their majesty. I keep the door locked. Only I am privy to this place. This is where I seek inner peace and solitude. This is where I recharge. There is a hearth here, and comfortable seats of all kinds.  Upon the hearth are the moving images** of those few beings who have touched my soul. The fire is not a fire. Instead, there is a resonating glow, a pure unearthly and unbound light, warming and healing. This is where my soul touches something bigger, something I do not fully understand, but have always felt connected to. The light in the hearth is where my soul touches the Universe***.

The books in this space pertain to my morals, fears, hopes, and truths. They are always expanding. There is also a chest where my deepest secrets are kept. The key is around my neck. It cannot be removed even by me. I have opened the chest for only a few. I have emptied it for none. There will always be a secret in the chest.

There’s a children’s wing filled with toys I loved, imaginary friends who once danced through my life. There is a tree with gold leaves. The books kept here are those that ignited my imagination as a child. Characters come and play here reciting old poems and favourite passages from long lost memories. A shabby treehouse sits between the branches. I know there was a light in there at one point, but it sits dark now. I’m too big to get up the ladder. The child that plays here doesn’t ever go there. Someone sits up there though; sometimes dripping can be heard.

Recently a new wing opened to me. It’s been opened a couple of times before and closed again. I like it here now. Everything is different than what I ever remember it being here before. This place is warm and smells faintly of the sea. There is passion here for many things, for life and love and work and happiness. A man sits here, smiling. He is surrounded by books about sports and sailing, about battles won and lost, and odd snippets of information pertaining to many subjects. This room radiates love. Honest love. Devoted love. Intelligent and respectful love. Though the outer world is always night, here there window which lets sunlight in. Here I can say anything. Even the ugliest shameful parts of me are accepted. Here who I am is always enough.

There are many monsters which roam the library of my soul. They vary in shape and size. One is a pushing, violent thing, with teeth which bite and claws that cut. One is sweet and small and gentle to encourage trust, but it always lies. One is always moving and carries a clock with a dial which spins too fast. It likes to jump out onto the shoulder and whisper maddening prophecies in the ear. The worst is nothing but a blackness which feeds on me when I am not looking. It likes to lurk in places it shouldn’t and is often trying to break into the highest tower.

There are many weapons available to combat the monsters. The weapons are easy to find but hard to wield. Courage is a shining silver sword. There is a humble long-bow which can be armed with arrows made of truth. Acceptance is a shield. Trust is a dagger that must be given away.

Other artefacts reside in the library of my soul. I have a spyglass which allows me to see benefits which may still be far away but are worth waiting or fighting for. This spyglass is patience. It doesn’t have a fixed place and can be hard to locate. There’s a compass for the lost which always points to the heart. There’s a little candle which pops up whenever needed. It’s flame changes; it can be tall and unyielding, or dim and in need of cultivating, but the candle is always lit even if just as an ember. The candle flame is actually a little living thing, made from the hearth fire. It is hope.

A dragon stalks the halls sometimes, which of course breathes fire from time to time. I’ve tamed him somewhat. Right now he is raging beyond my want to control him. I spend energy putting out the blazes, but by the time I get there he has already taken off to some hiding spot to regain his strength. I’ll get around to catching him again soon. At the moment I need the fire a little bit. It’s helping to keep the dark monster at bay.

I’m not sure where the castle ends, there are new places being revealed all the time. There are towers that are shut away and stairways up and down. I may never discover every element of it. I haven’t divulged everything here now even, just that which I needed to remember. Just that which needed to be rediscovered to aid me through recent events.

Perhaps your soul is a carnival or a garden or a humble cottage at the edge of the world. This is only what my soul has always been, a castle library on an unpredictable sea beneath a vast universe.

 

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

~The featured image can be found here  (I don’t own it, yadda-yadda-yadda) and is the Ravenclaw Common Room (which is ma house. Big up my fellow kind of wit and learning). Honestly, one does not affect the other. It’s just coincidental that this is the nearest comparison to what I’m describing. But that in itself is pretty amazing, I won’t lie.

^ Everybody’s thinking it.

*Not leatherbound. No animals were harmed in the formation of my soul.

**Much like the paintings in the Wizarding World, although in my renditions, the figures are unable to move between portraits. I’m not sure what this means.

***It occurs to me, I say this a lot but have never really explained it. There could be a post about this in its own right, but for now, I will say the following. The Universe is not a god. I don’t believe in a divine being who wrote a book of rules or came down to greet us in human form. I believe in what I see, a great vast expanse permeating everything, connecting everything. And yes, I hear when it speaks to me, and yes I speak to it. It’s hard to explain, but I do not have to explain. I’m not asking you to understand or to believe. The burden of proof is on me, but I have no proof for what I experience subjectively….. It’s just what I feel. You’ll have to roll with it.

 

Mindful Decluttering (Pt2): Parts of Who I Was

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Recently I posted about my attempt to remove the clutter from my life. That business is now completed*. However, during my excavation of the study cupboards where I keep my notebooks, I found that some of them were actually used. By me. As a teenager. Something I had completely forgotten I did. Mostly, back in those less-than-favourable days I simply wrote stories** and I have always kept a vigil over these, and I remember most of what I wrote and when and why. However, the personal writings slipped to the back of my head, so rediscovering the lost archives of my personal history was enlightening, if also befuddling***.

My teenage years were not my best days, which I’m sure is true for most people, so I’m surprised much of it has slithered to the recesses of my head, only to be pulled out during my late night pondering. However, I was actually taken aback, because some of the stuff I stumbled upon can not be considered all that normal, even for a troubled teenager.

There are three items of importance, so we’ll start with the most normal and work our way down to the outright wacky.

1.The normal, yet highly depressing diary entries.

Apparently, back when I was around the age of 14-16, I kept a regular^ standard diary. I sort of remember doing this, because I had at that point, been introduced to a rather famous diary, and I started really concerning myself with what I would leave behind in the world. And, according to my teenage logic, the things happening in my life were somewhat akin to WWII.

Mostly, the entries are average teenage stuff. Actually, I wasn’t too focused on boys, save for two, and they were fleeting glimpses into my early view of how relationships worked^^. I moaned. I was actually very good at that. About people who caused me trouble and situations which didn’t go my way. I wrote at length about loneliness and not-fitting-in, about my feelings of powerlessness.

There are a few entries of containing some of the big questions, including one narrative piece entitled ‘What Would it be like to be a Duck”^^^ in which I contemplate the idea of just being a duck. The theme seems to be that being a duck would be easier than being me. Having had a read through, I find that the duck entry is about as weird as it gets.

There was a second diary which I kept during my first year of creative writing, detailing the transition I took changing course and the days living in student accommodation with five other girls, and dating my second boyfriend. The most interesting factor of this book is a list of improvements I wanted to make in my life to try and be a happier and stronger person. Otherwise, there is a lot of drama.

2. Letters to God

This one is odd, because it harks back to the days of my early theology, which was traditionally Christian. I knew that. For many years I tried to follow that particular faith, but even back then it never felt quite right – like a pair of ill-fitting shoes. Often I had questions about the sacred text, about the idea of who God was supposed to be, and when no one did very well to answer me^* I decided to finally go questing into the wider world and discover what I really believed for myself. But that’s another story.

In any case, back during my mid-teens I was reading the bible and trying to make sense of life from a Christian stand-point, and thus, as an extension to this, I started a special diary where I wrote to God. I suppose it was just a form of praying I was comfortable with, because writing helped me process difficult emotions more carefully.

Most of the letters are simply rehashes of the diary entries*^ but with more of a pleading tone. Sometimes I allude to the questions which would ultimately lead to my leaving the religion, but otherwise I am mostly praying for people to talk to, and other usual teenage concerns. I always sign my name at the bottom, I think in part because I had a genuine concern God would not know it was from me otherwise. I didn’t really know myself back then, and I wouldn’t for a long time yet.

I wrote to a higher being, because otherwise I felt completely powerless and alone, and thus I wasn’t aware I had any ability to change circumstances for myself if I could control my attitude. Everything was so world bound and self-centered when I was young, and I think speaking with something I deemed to know me even when I did not know myself, was a way of escaping that mindset in a method I found simple^*^.

3. Diaries in Code. 

So, I think we can all agree that the first two items are not all that off. Maybe the letters to God are less common, but not completely out of place in the bedroom of a then Christian, confused, lonely teenage girl with hormones roaming her bloodstream like wildebeest the Serengeti. However, now we get to the rather bazaar item, which, despite being something memorable, I had completely forgotten about.

I wrote some form a depressing diary entirely in a made up language, complete with a code alphabet. Now, I’m certain I did not memorize an entire alphabet whether I made it up or borrowed it, but I have left myself absolutely no frame of reference to be able to read it now.  Knowing me, I hid it in a book, but having checked the pages of all the novels I read between the ages of 16-18 (judging by the hand-writing, this is when I wrote these entries) I have still come up short of even a clue.

Chris and I suspect the word I keep writing at the end of every page is my name, because I did that with both the diary and the letters, and the word is five letters long. If this is the case, we have deduced that the symbols correlate directly with letters in the English alphabet. Since my name has three vowels in it, we can safely say which single symbols are ‘I’ and ‘a’, which work in the context of the sentence structure. Other than that, I may have to sit down and try to crack the rest of the code like a puzzle.

Folks, it gets weirder-*

I know what you’re thinking*^*. How can I know the entries are depressing, when I can’t read what it actually says? An excellent question my dear hypothetical audience. The answer: because I doodled bleeding, stabbed hearts on the pages, and one page is a single sentence over and over again, containing what is reasonable to assume must be the word ‘hate’. I’m almost glad I can no longer witness the object of such hatred. My emotions back then were so strong and volatile; I remember how painful it was to feel so angry and alone, but these are not emotions I have experienced for a very long time. So, whoever or whatever it was that elicited such reactions in me, chances are I have let it go, and did so a long time ago.

Losing the code can be considered a blessing. The emotion behind the words is more important than what is being said.

End of list.

Interesting as these discoveries are, there was the pressing question of what I was now to do with them. They couldn’t just be returned to the cupboard to once again be lost to time. The whole point of the big de-clutter was to bring everything up to the jury, including sentimental, and surprising objects, of which these might be considered both.

If you read my previous post, you may remember my system of mindful questioning I used in order to help with the difficulties of attachment and letting go of possessions I didn’t ultimately need or even particularly want. This is obviously harder with items with have sentimental value and reside in a period of your personal history. Things like diaries and letters for example. However, the decision was not as hard as I thought it would be.

I read through the first diary, and immediately resented the memories and feelings it gave me. Much of my teenage years were unhappy for many aspects beyond my control, but I have learned now the truth behind many of the circumstances I went through and understand why the Universe presented me with such a difficult time. I’ve learned all the lessons I needed to learn to become who I am today, so I already knew I was going to rid myself of the item itself. This was not something I wanted to come across again, nor look upon to remember my teenage years. Nor do I want future generations to find such hateful things. So, I shredded the entries and bid them farewell, thankful that I wasn’t that person anymore.

I did the same with the university diary, because again, the person I was is not a person I was proud to be, and is no longer who I am. Everything I had to learn from such passages I have, thankfully, already gleaned**^, and so I simply thanked them for reminding me of the power I possess over my own life, and passed them on.

As for the letters to God, there was no need to hang on to these either. Firstly, they were selfish appeals to a deity I no longer believe in^^*. Secondly, they, again, expressed thoughts and feelings I no longer experienced and had long since come to terms with. With these, I simply thanked them for the release and catharsis they had provided me when I wrote them, and shredded them while uttering a blessing. These words were no longer mine, and so keeping them served no purpose than to remind me of the dark emotions of someone gone.

Lastly, the deeply depressive coded messages. I suspect I coded my words to shield them from the eyes of prying parents**^^, but this has ensured I don’t need to relive the experiences again. I considered keeping it as an item of interest, something for future generations to puzzle over. However, I realise I don’t want the contents to be uncovered. Normal perhaps as a turbulent emotional period is in teenage years, I don’t want my children or grand-children to feel these are things they should hide or bury under a layer of coding^^**.  These ugly feelings should be shared and dealt with, that way they cannot become so strong that such hatred and longing grows from them like fungus on a poisoned tree.

Once these coded words had given me this last lesson about how I will one day conduct myself as a parent, and now are of no more use to me. So I thanked them for the wonder of their rediscovery, and I shredded them into the ether.

Although all these items have a staple place in my history, they are only archives of the past. The whole idea behind being mindful is to remain always in the present moment. When I held these items and re-read the words, I didn’t associate with the girl who had written them; she felt distant to me, and as such, the diaries did not feel like mine. They belonged to a person who longer exists.

The girl who wrote them grew and changed into what I believe and hope is a better person. I’ve grown away from those broken days of my youth, and spent a great deal of time developing self-awareness and compassion (for both myself and others), and actively pushing anger from my life, because it is a destructive feeling which bodes ill on all sides. These objects do not help work towards peace and mindful living.

Instead I will step forward away from them, and continue to live now as I am here today, just thankful I’m not the girl who was so broken inside she wrote these desperate words.

There are no angry desperate words in me now.

 


*Apart from actually taking the rest of the donated items to the charity shop, because Chris is still away doing exams, and has with him the mode of transportation. As much as I want it all gone, I also don’t want to spend the few hours I have in the day lugging heavy boxes up a steep hill on foot in the rain.

**They are bad. Really, really bad. I suppose that’ll be what professors talk about in the documentaries about my life; the origins of my writing skills. I plan to someday include extracts in my memoirs. …. That’ll happen right? …. Guys…. Right?

***I didn’t think that was a word. Go figure.

^Regular being every few days, which is strange considering I’m lucky if I have time to update this once a week. Back then I had stuff like homework and moping deal with, and I still managed to sit down every couple of nights to splurge some hormonal testimony onto a page. Now, I don’t have such matters to concern myself with, and I still struggle to make time to keep this blog going, and even then I can go months without a word. This is just another example of how being a grown up is lame.

^^It’s no wonder I didn’t fare well with men for a little while; luckily when I was about 17 my dad passed me a copy of ‘Men are from Mars‘ and I quickly learned that men and women think very differently. I still use knowledge from that book to this day.

^^^I wasn’t great at capitalising title sentences then, but it’s interesting to see the beginnings of how I titled life writing, compared to what I do now. Of course, some other titles include ‘Life is so Hard’ and ‘I wish I Knew Why’. Make of that what you will.

^*Some tried, but could only refute my wondering with circular logic. There was however one particular man of the cloth, who in no uncertain terms, told me simply not to question anything because God would take it as ill faith. -_-

*^Minus the duck one. How amazing would it have been if I had actually written to Lord on high talking about wishing he would make me a duck because human life was too exhausting? I wouldn’t have put it past me to do so, but unfortunately (or maybe very fortunately) I wasn’t quite that strange. At least not yet.

^*^ My spelling however, was atrocious. If God had been reading, he may have struggled with the phonetics.

-* And ever so slightly serial killerish.

*^*Syke – I have absolutely no idea what you are thinking. I’m not a mind reader.

**^Other than learning the lesson that I had already learned the lesson, if that counts. I’m sure it must in some capacity.

^^*At least not in the Christian form anyway. Don’t worry, the Universe and I are still tight. Big U and I just have a far better understanding, and I choose to celebrate the greatness of it in ways I find much more comfortable and personal. I bet the Universe all in all its aspects is happy I’m no longer always begging it for the answer for very superficial things.

**^^This might make me sound deeply paranoid, however, I was really into adventure/mystery tales at the time, and secret codes are just cool. If you do not think so, I would recommend you leave now.

^^** Alice’s list of things which should be in code: treasure maps, secret Romeo & Juliette style love letters, HTML, medieval plots to over-throw the tyrant king, childhood languages.

Mindful De-Cluttering

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Recently I’ve been organising the flat, and a large part of the process has been de-cluttering everything, everywhere*. On the surface, our home actually appears neat and tidy, but it hides a chaotic mass of accumulated possessions which rarely (if ever) see the light of day. Buried beneath used items at the bottom of the wardrobes and in the hallway cupboard are hidden caches of forgotten clothes, ornaments, and notebooks** shoved away shortly after the move and promptly lost to the mind. Yet, on a visit to Chris’ hometown, we decided to cart back some of his things, only for me to despair about where everything would go. There was only one answer: time to sort some shiz.

So, we got on it. After a two weekends and a week of being away in various parts of the country for various reasons***, Chris and I only had a short four days to pull yet more boxes from storage, find and empty every box, bag and cubbie, and sort, donate, sell, recycle, or bin practically everything we own^. All while I was working my usual morning shift with the kiddlywinks and he was revising for some important upcoming exams. Time management was going to be a harsh mistress^^, and the magnitude of the task was instantly intimidating. However, when the project started, I wanted it done. I couldn’t abide the idea of all that stuff hanging around like a bad smell awaiting completion, or worse, being ultimately returned to the hiding places wense they came. If I had to do it, I was going to do it while Chris was around to help with the inevitable harsh decisions^^^, and while I still had the gusto to keep the ball moving.

My gusto and the early mornings actually made a rather productive team. Having to be up for work, meant I was already awake and moving by just after 9:00am when I returned back at the flat. Chris would also be awake by my return, the kettle would go on, beverages on hand, and we would get to business. I figured if we could summon enough motivation to get the bulk of it done while Chris was around with the car, I would wade through the smaller piles while he was away. Within the first three hours we had filled two large boxes and a clothes hamper for donation, and sold a large portion of our disused CDs and DVDs to an online service*^. We sent ancient mobiles to be recycled and purchased a shredder^* to handle old documentation and receipts, in what Chris terms as a ‘shredding party’*^*. By day two we had actually cleared away two huge boxes of obvious to-go items, which meant moving on to the nitty-gritty: the things I think I need and the sentimental.

On day three, I turned the study upside-down. For years I had been carting around heaps of stationary I was deluded to think I would someday find a special reason to use. Notebooks I had purchased in my teens still lingered in the cupboards, and I had empty files from University now void of their former content. Pretty objects with potential I couldn’t find a good enough reason to validate. It was time to say goodbye, but having kept them so long, it was harder to part with some items than I thought it would be^*^.

It’s funny how I didn’t even think about the things I was keeping in the background of my life before I analysed their worthiness in my existence. I was standing in front of two boxes^*^* – donate or keep – and always, regardless of item, found myself leaning toward the latter even when the rational part of my mind screamed a thousand reasons why that decision was counteractive to the task. It was easy to find counter arguments to rationalizations: I would put it somewhere I could see it and actually use it, I would resolve to actually spend time doing what it had been purchased for; I could do this or that, but I could not let it go at the moment.

Why?

It was the most frustrating thought process, and such thinking was probably why I had kept these things in the many clear-outs I had had in the past. This time, I was determined to be brutal, so I gave Chris the final vote*^*^ on almost everything, dictating the conflicting voices in my head. Being far more impartial than I , he allocated at least eighty percent to the donation pile, leaving me with a few spare folders and notebooks. His rationale was that we could simply buy these things again if a real, present need ever presented itself.

Chris was incredibly helpful, but I was going to have to face rough choices without him over the weekend and I didn’t fancy agonizing over every little possession like I had stumbled across a pile of diamonds, 50% of which were fake^^*. Mostly, because it makes the process three times as long, but also because I didn’t want to keep things just for the sake of not being able to let them go.

What is it about possessions which cause us such severe attachment? Ultimately, they are just things, ephemeral and lacking any ability to provide lasting happiness, yet they hold such dear places in our mind despite this. Without any effort, they crawl into our heads and sit there somewhere, almost secretly, creeping up only when the debate arises over what to do with them. Apparently, possessions actually trigger memory centers in the brain which connect with more abstract ideas about the self. For example, keeping boxes of long unused craft supplies**^ reminds us of our potential, and that we still have passions we want to pursue, even if we no longer have time or energy, or we have moved on from those particular enjoyments.

Memories and aspirations are comfortable places to stroll through, and possessions make it even easier to do so. Having things for many years, as far back as childhood, can make us feel calm, powerful and assured, because we attach a certain part of ourselves into old uniforms, and teddy-bears, into clothes which will never fit again, and instruments which have not been played in years. These objects remind us of who we were and who we might have been, if we had made different choices, the right choices, if we had given up corporate jobs or not given up corporate jobs, of a time when we were a blank canvas, a time when we were young and wild, or had more time, or didn’t care what the world thought, when we were skinny or confident or happy. A time before the trauma, before the accident, before he/she left us, before we made a big mistake. Possessions can zap us to a place and time seemingly more perfect than that which we inhabit. So, we keep them, because while they’re around we can drift off to another, better version of who we are.

Buddha had something when he spoke about attachment being a road to suffering. Mostly all these items do, having long since expired in any other meaning, is remove us from the present.  While you’re busy lost in the delusions of the mind, the real opportunities to grow and develop slip by unnoticed, allowing you to gather more possessions to fill the voids which grow where potential withers. Though the boxes may fill the spaces of our physical existence, no amount of material outside of us can sprout true happiness within; only the present moment and awareness can do that. Clinging to clutter is just a way of drawing further into a delusion, and the majority of us do this at least to some degree.

For me, I find owning possessions is not the problem. I know there is a simplifying movement sweeping through the West right now, but I genuinely don’t take issue with owning things, not even extraneous things; the true issue lies with the attachment, and the psychological minefield**^^ which can arise from such clinging.  I had to really think about why I was keeping things. Digging into your psyche can be exhausting, but is seems for me it is the only way to stagger through the obstacles of my decision making.

What did this singular thing really represent to me? Why was I holding on to it? External to my mind was it a useful object? Who was I when I held it and why did I want to be that person? Why was I anxious when I thought about parting with it – who was I when I was anxious to part with it?

In the end, they were just things. Whatever version of me had held them once, no longer was, and whatever version of me^^** I hoped would someday hold them does not exist yet, even if they might in the future.   Once I had worked out a strategy, it was easier to face the more personal items, even when I had no judge to hammer in the final sentencing.  Instead, I slipped into mindfulness and let my less earth bound (the side which is closer to the Universe) side hold the gavel. Which had a surprisingly effective result. Using questions geared around usefulness and self-awareness rather than emotion, I could more easily decide what went and what stayed, and in doing so, cleared three 80 litre storage containers from the hallway cupboard. Phew. But there’s still a wardrobe full of clothes to consider and bits and bobs which have been put aside while the big stuff is being processed.

One thing at a time. Eventually, everything will be done, carefully and mindfully.


*Don’t take me wrong; it’s not that I’m drowning in stuff. I’m not one of these people who have piles of useless junk everywhere. I downsize every time I move for goodness sake, and I move more than the Grey Whale. Look it up.

**Actually, I kind of knew about the notebooks, because I like having pretty notebooks ornamenting my shelves. Yes, I admit that’s a problem, but notebooks are a type of book, and if you have been following me long enough, you know we don’t question books. Don’t worry; I donated many of them this time around. Mostly because they were no longer on shelves, but were shut away in a cupboard. I only kept the really pretty ones…. Don’t judge me.

***Easter trip, anniversary trips, family visiting; it seriously felt like we had travelled thousands of miles in the space of week. I intend on writing some of those journeys, but so far life has strolled in dancing with a baton and getting in the way… so we’ll have to see. Hey, remember that time I said that before and then I actually wrote it up? Me neither.

^I say ‘we’, but 90% of it is my stuff.

^^Turns out the time management mistress also carries a whip and wears spurs on her boots, and she will ride you like a horse across the desert. I’m not even sure if that works as a simile, but she isn’t nice is my point.

^^^I’m pretty good at a few things in life; but making decisions about particular aspects of my life is something I am considerably (a lot) bad at. There’s nothing wrong with second opinions, right?

*^And oddly enough one book. I actually donated a few books which I hadn’t actually enjoyed all that must due to the shelf space crises of 2016. Not much, but I tried. Anyway, we boxed the book up along side the other media for selling, but when the recent came through, I was told the condition of the book was too poor for them to offer payment. What? Have you seen my books? Probably not. But my books have unbent spines and un-dog-eared pages, and are frequently dusted. So, you know, I’m insulted. I mean it was only 30p, but it’s the principle. That book, was the equivalent of a crufts dog pure bred… minus the probable birth defects.

^* Oh my goodness, guys, if you are getting tired of this being an adult shiz, buy a shredder. They are a blast! You can make confetti from boring documents like bank statements and everything. So cathartic. Seriously, it’s one of those adult things which is actually kinda super awesome fun. And they are a useful and practical item found in big important fancy offices, so you don’t have to justify having one. After a bad day, go and shred stuff. I guarantee 100% satisfaction.

*^* In which you shred a whole bunch of stuff which has been hanging around and then you throw it at each other like kids on a snow day. Then you recycle it, because you care about the environment and the whole point was to clean up. And you are an adult and stuff.

^*^ You know that show hoarders? Where people are basically buried in seemingly useless clutter, including heaps of stored newspapers and crisp packets and stuff? I have to admit I was always slightly judgmental of them, but now I understand how these psychological issues can actually arise from probably small beginnings.

^*^*Okay, drinking game. Every time you read the word ‘box’ or ‘boxes’ in this post, take a shot. Of apple juice. Stay in school kids.

*^*^ Continuing my thoughts in the notes earlier, also there’s nothing wrong with having someone impartial to give the final word after giving a second opinion, right?

^^*That was a fairly labored metaphor, but I can’t think of a better one, so you’re stuck with it. Sorry.

**^Yep. As you can imagine, this example comes from real life experiences.

**^^ Or mind-feild! Haha!

^^**More information on versions of me coming in a future blog. Saddle up folks, there are weird stories ahead.

The Rabbit Died~

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Little bunny, you picked a beautiful morning. *

The second day of spring, a sky so clear it could be mistaken for glass, the view of the hills a water-colour painting behind the houses. If some day, hopefully a long day away yet, I get to choose the day I go, I’d pick a day like this one.

There is so much we’ll never understand about the way animals think and feel. Many reading this will accuse me of anthropomorphism. Maybe they’re right, maybe my hopes are spilling into my words like ink across a page, but I believe in my heart these things to be true. I believe you knew, and I believe you held on for the right moment, even as the Universe was calling you.

After dark and painful days seeing that glorious sunlight beyond the window must have seemed perfect. I felt it too as I woke that morning, though I’m not sure you slept. Perhaps you were up, watching the hazy clouds disperse to reveal the sunrise, illuminating each new bud from the trees and each daisy scattered on the lush grasses. Birds, flapping care-free from the branches, must have given you ideas. It was your turn now, to fly. Ready as you were, though, you held on, just long enough and for that I will always be grateful.

Animals love. I know this deep inside. If not all animals can love, some do, and you were one of them, and you loved those little boys enough to hang in there. You knew they would come to your cage that morning, as every morning, to cuddle you and speak to you. You were their friend and confidant after all. Your long, fluffy ears probably heard more whispered secrets in your short time here, than my will ever hear. They trusted your loyalty more than is possible to ever trust a human’s. You wouldn’t betray their thoughts nor judge their words.

You listened and you allowed their hands into your space to caress your fur not always carefully, but always with joy, because you loved them.

They loved you too. For your silence. For the comfort your presence provided. For that quiet corner of the house, which for a moment, was just theirs and yours. Never more and never less than what they needed.

I loved you too. For our quiet talks when we were the only ones home, for gently taking vegetables from my hand, and giving ‘bunny’ kisses to all of us. For being a strange little creature with laughable habits. For dashing across the living room floor in flips and bounds, and hiding from me when you knew it was time to go back to your hutch. For sometimes coming over as I sat reading, to crawl onto my lap for cuddles when you trusted I wouldn’t catch you…. Even though you sometimes tried to eat my book.

And I’m going to miss your little nose poking at me as I come in in the morning, and hopping like mad at the first sign of food. I’m going to miss watching your explore every crevice in the house when you were let loose. Already, it’s not the same.

I’m sorry they don’t know yet**; but you understand how their hearts will break when they learn the truth. I know you understand that, because you love them, and that’s why you held on just long enough.

Long enough for them to say goodbye. Even if they didn’t know it was the final time. ^

I wish the Universe had allowed you longer; spring is the time of rabbets after all. We had plans to let you outside to eat the dandelions, and kick mud up as you hopped around, and feel the sun on your back. You deserved more.

I hope it didn’t hurt^*. Did you feel as we closed your mortal eyes and covered you over to rest? Probably not. That wasn’t all you anymore.

I hope you enjoyed those last cuddles as we hurried out the door; I hope you felt all the love those little boys feel for you, and will feel for you always, right down to your sweet core into your soul, filling you to brimming with the strength to go beyond.

The Universe is kind to kind beings, always, so I know you were not alone. Cosmic arms reached into your little home as you lay, and delicately pulled the final breath from your lungs so you were free to leap into unseen arms. I’m sure you didn’t though. I’m sure you bound joyously from your mortal shell, dashing off into the green wilds ethereal knowing no one would seek to contain you again, enjoying warmth and light, the kind you shone on this family by your gentleness.

I’m sure you ate fresh grass on open hills all day, and settled to catch the amethyst dusk set on the little street, where little boys were preparing for bed, missing you before they even knew you were gone.

As I stepped out into the evening chill, the moon almost full above, I swear I watched you bound across the stars*^.

————————————————————————–

~Um…. Spoilers?

*This actually took place on the 21st March 2016, a Monday. As is customary the weekend had been cold and dreadful.

**At the time of writing this, the boys were on their last week of school before the Easter holidays, and one of them had a school performance the same evening, which contained characters who were rabbits. It was decided to spare them stress during their final week and to let them enjoy Easter (another rabbit filled day). They were told the rabbit in question was at the vet (we left out the bit where he was being cremated). Technically we didn’t lie…. It didn’t feel right to post this before they were told, which they now have been, when they can mourn without school commitments and plays.

^ I can’t thank that little rabbit enough for sparing the boys the sight of his remains. They can remember him as the leaping, wonderful, pain-the-neck-to-catch, little ball of bounding fur he was.

^* Though, unfortunately, we think it might have a little bit. The illness hit just before the weekend when he lost his appetite and didn’t appear to move much. Over the next few days he perked up and ate, but by Monday morning it was apparent something was seriously wrong. After investigating his hutch and finding very little poop, I suspect he might have had a blockage in his piping somewhere. The plan was to take him to the vet as soon as the boys were at school, but unfortunately, he decided to head off before then. Though, the vet stated if it had been a digestive blockage he probably would’ve been unlikely to survive the surgery. I’m glad he went quietly, at home, cuddled in his straw. If he had to go, that sounds like the better way.

*^ My condolences to any astral body or spiritual being who ever has to catch him.  Dear Universe, if you have a cosmic sofa, check behind there. If not, check beneath the cosmic display case.

Here I Sit Before The Library Moves

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Plymouth Central Library is relocating. Today will be the last day it opens those particular doors to the public. And as I sit here in the old stacks one last time*, I am filled with deep nostalgic sadness.

We go back, this old building and I. Practically back to my first few months in Plymouth when I was naught more than a disillusioned teenager trying to find my feet in my newly independent world**. Initially, I went with an associate in my University course*** trying to find a reference book for an essay, all copies of which had been checked out of the Uni library for weeks, and thus had a waiting list you could march a parade on. Rumour had it, the public library had a few non-lending editions on their stacks. So, we hopped in her car, and went searching.

I didn’t really start using the Library until my final year of Uni, when I lived almost opposite in my studio flat. During the days of not being able to afford the heating, it became a sanctuary of warmth and study, with a quiet room which saw the creation of a significant portion of my dissertation. After Uni, when I lived in my basement room at the noisy centre of the basement, it then saw the crafting of several creative experiments and ghostwriting projects. There is not a corner of the stacks I haven’t hunkered down in at some point, either hunched over a table scribbling or with my nose in fiction. Over my penniless days, I participated in free film screenings^ and book sales, just grateful these things are open and available for impoverished writers with dreams of greatness^^.

There are many memories of my youthful days locked away among the stacks in that building, and while I know the Library is moving not closing, I feel like I am saying goodbye to an old reliable grandmother.

I understand the relocation. If libraries are to thrive in the modern world, they need to adapt to modern standards. The new building is more central, and completely open-plan, leaving behind the rustic, academic atmosphere which, I suppose, can be intimidating to non-academics who just want a place to read and relax^*. Concerns I had about the move have been waylaid by researching what is to become of the now shell in which the library was housed. The plan is to convert the space into part of the History Centre with support from the Museum next door, with ideas of introducing better heritage resources for the community. And the new library appears to have everything its predecessor had, except in a more open and colourful environment.

The only fear I haven’t managed to quell through understanding is what might happen to the stain-glass window. The window on the main stairwell of the library entryway depicts an array of literary figures in the style similar to what you might find in a cathedral, and I have coveted it and been awed by it since I first laid eyes on it.Unfortunately, I’m not sure if they’ll somehow transport the glass over to the new building, maybe incorporate it into the internal decor, but I hope so, and if not, I shall miss it.

Tonight the lights of the library will go off for the last time. The books will be boxed up and moved, and the stacks will be empty, and the quiet room will suddenly be silent in a way that was never intended. For now, here I sit*^, sadder than I thought I would be, staring round at the old familiar rooms, like sitting in a spot of endless time, where all the past and present mes^^* are together feeling and growing in this place in a single moment.

I walked around one last time, remembering. I sat at the last table in the reference room, where I perched many times poised at the keyboard, and I touched the old wood of the shelves, I took out some books and returned some others, just like all those times all those days ago.

I said goodbye to an old friend.

————————————————————————–

*I really did pen this upstairs in the study room, but I did so the previous Friday to the date of publication. For the sake of drama you can pretend I’m there on the final day of opening, maybe the last to leave those huge studded front doors, a tear wistfully rolling down my cheek, a bittersweet song of memory playing in the background.

**I was not a pretty picture back then by any means.

***Not Creative Writing at the time. This was the year I was trying to make my parents proud by choosing a career path which wouldn’t land me in a box in a dark alley warming myself over a burning kerosene barrel. My mother was genuinely concerned writing would lead to harder drugs, like following my whimsy or joining a circus. Of course, she meant well, and she is actually pretty proud of me now I think.

^Including The Hobbit and Les Miserables, two films based on books which I have read, both of which I borrowed from that library, and both I was pleased I didn’t spend a ton of money attempting to see at the cinema.

^^That was a very youthful ideal; to be honest I think I would’ve been happy with just getting off the ground.

^*And that is the point of the library. Much as the old timey academic ambiance suits serious study, it goes over a lot better if the environment is welcoming to everyone, especially children, and conducive to finding joy in reading and books.

*^ Again, days before. This is beginning to feel like I might have strange time-travelling abilities, but I suppose if I did this wouldn’t be an issue. If anyone out there knows Dr Who, please feel free to point him to this blog. Tell him to come now. I’ll wait….. No, huh? Worth a shot.

^^* Does ‘me’ have a plural? It was either ‘mes’ or ‘mesai’ and the second sounded too Japanese to be right.