What is it like to love someone more than you love yourself?

Dear Reader,

Do you know how when you read stories of mothers and fathers that explain they did not know love until they met their child, howsoever they arrived into their families? There is a mythologizing of our capacity to experience of love relative to normative family structures. Parents, children, and love. Love is valid when it is expressed in open, consensual, and meaningful ways. I am, however, torn on the idea that love is an epiphany that we experience on the other side of a birthing table. The love that we experience, nurture, and develop throughout our lives is meaningful and important to every subsequent platonic and/or romantic relationship in which we engage. The first models of what love is comes from our parents or guardians. In some cases, we experience positive models of love and in others we do not. So, perhaps the mythologizing of love comes from this so-called originary model and self-perpetuates throughout cultural ideas of love. I suppose we have Rousseau to thank for this in the rhetoric in the west, as he argued for parents to be involved in the emotional and intellectual needs of their children. Indeed, we centre the idea of love and wholeness around the relationships between parent and child. These relationships can be vital and overwhelmingly important in the best ways (or even the worst). But what does it mean when we look outside the familial or even the human? Is it important that we learn to love and the consequences of love only through loving other humans? in some constrained network of Darwinian succession? The answer, quite simply, is no.

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Fashionista Misha

I’d like to introduce you to my dog, Misha. She is fourteen, and we got her when I was about thirteen. I grew up with her, I went away to school, and I came home to take care of her because she was sick. Although it would be nice to wax poetic about how her life reveals my own life, I’d argue, rather, that from her and her life, I learnt how to love deeply, firmly, and unrelentingly in the face of annoyance, joy, and the fear of death. (I’m basically going to wax poetic, though.) When we first got her, I wanted all of her attention. I wanted to be able to talk to her, to be her best friend, to have our own world. Basically, I wanted to be Dr Dolittle, but without all the Doctoring. I just wanted to have a best friend. Before we got Misha, I had always wanted a horse and a dog. I would ride by bike around the neighbourhood, or, rather, I would ride my horse, Black Beauty, around the neighbourhood. He had 21 gears. Behind us, in my wildest imaginations, trailed not only my hair (it was actually greasily crunched under a helmet) and my ‘dog’ Michelle. (I should note that my baptismal name, Michelle, became the name of all my imaginary friends, including dogs. The similarity to Misha’s name is purely coincidental. Misha was named for her likeness to bears, changed from the Polish spelling misia to Misha.) I always wanted a dog, and I always wanted to run free with her.

Of course, when you’re that young, your experience of pets is quite self-centred. I wanted her for my own needs. I was not the biggest fan of having to go on walks after I got in from school, nor did I particularly love that she was technically walking you because she would pull you by the pant leg down the street. Okay, it was funny, but hard to explain to my friends who thought it was weird that such a small dog was pulling me down the street. I did/do love chasing her. I did love when I tried to train her to stay in our backyard in the winter. I love the time that I took it upon myself to get her used to wearing boots in the winter. I made her walk in circles, like a circus animal, in the snow. I, of course, made a trail for her first. I remember panicking, as a thirteen-year-old-does, because I put the boot on her incorrectly and it rubbed into her leg making it red. I remember tears in my eyes because I had hurt her, unwittingly as it had been. I remember how she patiently waited for me to learn how to do it right. Thirteen years later, we know exactly what we’re doing. Peas in a pod. Paws in a boot.

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A maze constructed for the pupper by moi. This is from 2016/7.

She’s always happy. As long as I can remember, she has wagged her tail happily. Only, once when she was sick (in these past few years), she had her tail down. It broke my heart. When she was younger, and her eyesight was better, she would run to people in the neighbourhood to greet them so happily. She would wait at their houses, refusing to walk further, because she wanted to stop to say ‘HELLLLOOOOOO!’. Misha has always been very stubborn. This means that Misha, thank god she is a small breed, is carried home. Hah! I just remembered that I would walk the neighbourhood with a giant dog bag containing at least ten different toys. The bag was meant to be to carry her home, but it became the means by which to stop and play with Misha and neighbours. Misha in tow in one arm and a large, lofty bag full of toys in the other. Misha has always been the source of so much joy and pure happiness in my life. I don’t know if knew the same love then as I did now. I’d like to think I did, but I know that the meanings and shades of love shifted as I grew older. I would never say that age discounts or invalidates love that one feels at any stage in their life. I can only say that my connection with love and its stakes have evolved over time, through experience and introspection.

In our relationship, she is more like a little sister than a child. Our mom is our mom. When we play, we are Cheeny Bambini (a variation of what I called myself as a child; it translates to Kat the Kid) and Misha Peesha (that one is probably easy to work out). We go on adventures late at night counting stars, skunks, and steps. I carry her in my arms in the dead of winter, which is the best time to star gaze, and sing to her that the stars shine yellow just for her. They were so yellow. Even when I was younger, I would always take her out quite late at night. I am a night owl, which is a new combination for dog story. Dog and Owl: Who is this God anyway? I went to bed quite late during high school, so sometimes I’d walk her at 1 AM. I love the streets at night and the occasional pure fog and the serenity of large trees hugging the asphalt surrounded by dreamers snug in their beds. I love the cool air. I love that Misha loves it too, the freedom of the night; she does occasionally wake me up at 4 AM to go out. We count raccoons then. However, Misha is always very naughty after late-night walks. This has never changed. I would lie down on the floor in the living room to model what sleep looked like. Surely, that’s all she needed, a visual reminder of the joys of sleep. One time when I was about fifteen, I had a tissue in hand because when I am tired my eyes tear. My hand was near my head, laying on the floor. And, all of a sudden, this bullet, torpedo, rocket is launched at my head. At the last second, it veers course in a game of nuclear chicken and steals the tissue from my outstretched hand. Well, let’s just say, modelling sleep did not work. It never has. Misha can model sleep for you but not the other way around.

When I was 17 going on 18, I left for university. It didn’t feel major to leave Misha. She had my family. I was super homesick, but I would be home at Christmas, and I would be home all summer. Most of my undergraduate and first masters went this way. I went home when I could, I would give her a bath, and shower her with love and gifts. Constantly, I left to go back to school. I always loved her during that time, but it’s what you do, you leave your family to go to school, and Misha is part of that family. When I went to England to do my M.A in History of Art, everything seemed okay. However, just as I started writing my dissertation in the summer, I was told that Misha was very unwell, and that they did not know if she would be alive when I came home. I was overwhelmed. One of my really close friends went home, and I had to ask her to stop talking about dogs altogether because I could not leave to be with Misha, and I had to work on school.

Alright, so I got home, and she was alive. *breathes* But it was very stressful because she was still quite sick. I had already decided to take time out from school to find work and just be at home because I knew that was what I wanted. As I job hunted, I took over being Misha’s full-time carer. In the beginning it was rough. Her medication made her pee a lot, so before I figured out her schedule, she would just pee during her sleep. Then she would have fits all night long, which meant I never slept. I slept on the couch for months, but that became too uncomfortable for me because my legs hung off the end, and when she choked, I had to run across a room. I moved her to my bedroom, but I couldn’t sleep vertically because she didn’t like it. So, we slept horizontally. Her on my feather duvet, me with my legs, once again, hanging off the end. Also, sometimes, Misha chooses to take your spot, and then in the middle of the night, decides she wants to go back to her spot. We played a lot of musical beds. I developed a 5-walk schedule around her pill schedule. I saw that crushing her pills was better for her. Very slowly she made progress. We cut out foods that aggravated her condition. It’s been three years. I have to say that again; my dog has lived three years longer than we thought she would.

In that time, I’ve learnt what it is to be sitting cheerfully one minute, and go into full emergency mode as you are not sure whether she’ll be okay at the end. (Also, I want to add that she isn’t being kept alive in some cruel ego-centric fashion. The issue is that her fits are unpredictable. She gets the attention and care that she needs, so she doesn’t suffer.) But, in those extreme moments, you never know. It is an emotional rollercoaster. I love her so much that it aches. And, it’s not odd because she’s a dog. I understand the reasons why humans create divisive structures of difference between ‘animal’ and ‘man’, but that construct is nonsense. Dogs dream, they remember (and they bloody-well remember exactly that you ate something they wanted for days…..and will go to where you ate that thing they wanted to remind you of it), they are happy or unhappy. Animals, like humans, are vast and complex and every single one is precious. In taking care of Misha, I’ve learnt the various capacities of love and what it truly means to love someone else in a totalizing way. Perhaps, that’s what the aforementioned parents feel. They feel the vulnerability of a being that needs your help; there has also been a lot of poop and pee and some vomit involved. I’ve learnt patience. I’ve learnt compassion and empathy. I’ve learnt to read her body language. I can hear her a mile away. I can tell by the way she breathes if she wants me to pick her up. I can tell by the way she punches my sternum (when I die, they’ll find paw prints on my bones during my autopsy) that she wants to go down to roll, play, drink, beg for food, or just get away from me because I’m breathing all the air out of the room. Humans and their big noses—eh? The most important thing I’ve learnt is how to let go of my ego in the face of doing what is best for her.

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‘I think you’ll find this is my bed’.

I love her, and, now that we sleep vertically, I’m always happy to let her choose which side of the bed she wants. I’m happy when she wakes up in the middle of the night and lets out a sigh because my leg is in her way. I’m just so happy.

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‘Just doing some light reading on your paperwork’.

In a very short while, I am going to be going back to school. I’ll be too far to help her. And, I don’t know when I’ll be home next. I’m afraid that she’ll miss me because we are best friends. I’m afraid that she’ll be upset that I’m gone, and that that will hurt her. I’m afraid that if she dies, she won’t hear my voice beside her, the one that comforts her and loves her endlessly. I look at her as she sleeps, deeply and full of supersonic snores, and I think to myself, ‘I wish I could make it so you know you’re always loved’. I wish I could give her absolutely everything because if anyone deserves it, it’s her, my best friend. My argument has been, throughout, that love and fulfillment appear in unexpected places. Love is eternal, even if our vessels are transient. Your experiences of love are valid, and they are significant. How you have experienced and related to other beings is part of your odyssey; don’t be afraid of the power of love. Although I feel this deeply, as others have felt love and its pangs, I repeat to myself: It is better to have loved, than to never have loved at all.

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Heaps of love,

WordPlay Xx

m e n t h o l s

Do you remember when we
used to smoke menthols in the park,
late at night, drunk people laughing
in the distance, and we were
sitting on swings. I think that
was the last time I felt like
my feet could touch the
ground.

We held them in our hands,
like little torches to guide our path,
‘peppermint breath,’
you’d tease, and I’d smile with ease,
exhaling the puffs of shame from
whence they hugged my heart.

I remember looking beyond the
trees to the midnight sky, to the
stars that shone, and my lungs filled
with clean, fresh air. I’d let fall the butt
in the sand, dropping all pretence.

‘Fly me to the moon,’ I’d whisper,
and I knew you would, as you told
me things no one else had ever heard
you say. I didn’t hear them either, because I
was absorbed in memorizing the lines
of your face, the shape of your nose,
and the gnash of your teeth as you
chewed your dread into dark matter.

Do you remember how we’d laugh
so hard, and we vowed never to smoke
again so that we could laugh like
this when we got old. I never have.
I’m still waiting for my feet to touch
the ground, love.

© Kat Manica 2017

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Animation by ABBEY LOSSING

(N.B no butts were littered in the sand; don’t litter please.)

Secret Garden

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In seeded gardens, where rise the rose,
One rests to ponder the posy’s pose,
For enchanted petals do sing our praise,
Sent from the cosmos on sunshine’s rays,

Sipping poisons from beguiling fairies,
Sweetest wine, decorated with berries,
Grass folds around us as we sit to eat,
Butterfly wings echo syncopated heartbeats,

Fingers entwine as sun kisses lashes,
Fiery spirits cremate our form to ashes,
Spritely water nymphs send mist our way,
Singing to us about the games they play,

From petals, sweet nectar drops like dew,
I’d happily spend eternity here with you,
Golden droplets trickle and delight,
Rumpled clothing await God’s smite,

Dreams are made of finer things than these,
Aphrodite’s raiments drifting in a summer’s breeze,
Cupid’s bow did pierce our steadfast hearts,
Love’s sweet arrow obliging love’s sweet arts,

Visions entwine as lust sets chimeric love afire,
Embraced as we sigh; our last breaths expire,
Sweet lips such as these, golden and honeyed,
Enchanted, we sip sweet petal’s hallowed mead,
Incense burns, smoke of heightened scents,
We journey as one, up towards ascent,
Where, in seeded gardens, rise the rose,
One rests to ponder the posy’s pose.

-fin
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A Vengeful Tangle of Thread

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The page sat empty; full of its property to be,
An equation appeared, solve it to be free,
Discuss. Solve. Explain. Understand. Know.
For full marks, all your work you must show,

A pencil scribbles symbols, meanings, and truths,
An alphabet of day-dreams abandoned in youth,
Cognisance amongst those who comprehend,
The simple, diligent task of making amends.

As memory eats our heart-ridden sleeves,
One paces, lusting for a last-minute reprieve,
Words unsung, songs unsaid–a silence to hear,
Rethink our days, nights, dreams–tremble with fear,

Is it God’s revelations that we search for in skies?
For I’ve seen God’s truth in the glint of your eyes–
Of death and of life, I sigh and moan their beauty,
Caged together, wrought by love and by duty,

Slumber’s cold breath rattles my spine,
Restless thoughts abate as we entwine,
Like swimming deep in an endless sea,
At first we fear our path to timeless serenity.

When words become chess pieces across a board,
Prudently spent, a censored life is flat and unexplored,
Shades protect our eyes from too much light,
Withal, be wary, lest ye forget sight,

Look at the page with the equation on it,
Not one step in its solving do you omit,
Logic and training bring forth its solution,
Annihilating binary affinity in favour of one,

The formula untangles anatomy,
You become You and I become me,
The result conceals, rather than illuminates,
A vengeful tangle of thread littered by the Fates.

–fin
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Bright Young Thing

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Bright young thing with tired feet,
Bright young thing with tired mind,
Rest your feet and suckle sweet
Dreams aligned for you to find–
Truth and beauty singing soft praise,
At youth’s fountain imbibed with agéd wine,
Bacchus in a blaze, whilst his gifts laze,
Freshly picked vines, erasure of time’s line,
Strings pluck’d by unceasing hands,
Perfum’d air, intoxicatingly rich,
Cascading sands to fill many lands,
Placed in glasses which awe and bewitch.
Time expands and collapses, sleepy child,
Old wounds ache and new wounds smite,
In one age we are wild, another, notoriously mild,
Offerings to god as contrite, surrendering souls to delight,
Bright young thing with many tears,
Bright young thing with many masks,
Let not your fears rewrite your years,
Dread not the ask; it belabours the task,
Promise me, sweetly dreaming soul,
That when god asks you who and how,
You’ll point to mine heart’s toll and cupid’s bow,
Relax your furrowed brow, we were nothing ’til now,
One last sip, suck’d dry from eden’s dew-dropped rose,
Glimpse the sun’s triumphant ascension of shared prayer,
Drink in the lover’s throes, eased by soft-kiss’d snow,
Devoted desire this rare suspends daydreams in the air.
Awaken babe, to muted chirruping birds,
Banished, heavenly visions dissipate ere long,
Bright young thing with oft lost words,
Bright young thing intoxicated by love’s song.

–fin
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Golden Traces

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It was a dark, cloudless night,
Stars twinkled and shone bright,
He held her hand in his,
Together, making a fist,

Her other hand upon his shoulder,
His upon her waist, they moved closer,
Moving as one, millimetre at a time,
The music softly sounded rhyme by rhyme,

For dancing was when their souls met,
At communion, their bodies silhouette,
Eyes wide, souls bared,
Eyes shut, a love shared,

One step left, now right, two in time,
The music crescendos and climbs,
Hearts picking paces, winning races,
Love lining lives with golden traces,

Gods sang on sacred ground,
From within their bodies the song resounds,
Ambrosia drips from cups to lips,
Swaying to her hallowed hips,

This dance is timeless infinite,
Like consecrated stones of holy writ,
Laws have no meaning here,
This love contains no fear,

Her hands seemingly clutch his heart,
Piercing his chest, an arrowed dart,
His hands wrap around her ghost,
Forever caressing her earthly host.

Like sun flutters between eyelashes,
Their love incited celestial flashes,
Throwing their heads back in ecstasy,
Granted mutually-assured soulful clemency.

-fin
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Peaches, Poetry, and Love

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So, I love poetry. I love it because it can be extremely revealing but very concealing. Unless someone can untangle it properly, it becomes its own web of meaning for them. That is what is so beautifully peculiar about it. I was so tempted to write this post as a poem because it’s much easier to hide oneself in a flourish of rhymes, carefully plotted words, and conspicuously blotted truths. It’s just so much easier to wrap up what we feel, rather than outline it like the perfect course syllabus. This will happen then; you will have all read these texts; we will discuss. I feel like I’m fighting myself right now. I just want to break into rhyming couplets.

I heard once that truthfulness in corporations is always very shocking for consumers. We expect to be lied to. If a corporation reveals to us our capitalistic habits, we are unsettled. Yet, if we are spun genial stories of consuming paradise, we feel comfortable retreating into the elysium fields of shopping malls, box-stores, and large chains. (NB: Support your local businesses. It does a lot more for your communities.) We are uncomfortable with confessions or revelations that disrupt out desperate search for happiness, wholeheartedness, and fulfillment. The true teacher will tell you that you need these disruptions because you cannot live a full life without being aware that you, too, contribute to inequity. That is why people ask you to recognize your privilege, even if you don’t feel very privileged. Inequity is why we become bitter. That’s why you hear people say cruel things about people they don’t know. Everyone is bitter about something. Yet, for our own souls, we should fight against resting in bitterness. I’m trying to do that, anyway. It shouldn’t be a default position.

HBO / Buzzfeed **read sardonically

I think this is why I love Kristeva’s theory of abjection. The disruption of boundaries and barriers through the thing that disgusts or triggers us. Dirt, filth, crap.

I’m now using prose to weave a web that must be untangled to get to the point. I was walking down the street, listening to Paloma Faith. I was reminded of a love lost. It wasn’t even a love gained or fulfilled. It is a confusing relationship that always thrusts me into the more existential of my crises. It was a moment for transparency, but thankfully we had fans and flowing sheets to hide ourselves.

I consider myself a fairly straightforward person. But, I hate crying in front of people. I have cried in front of people, but I have also definitely been shamed for it. There were two people who helped me when I was once really broken: my best friend who dried the tears from my eyes and a classmate of mine who told me that I should close my eyes and imagine my breath was expanding and contracting a giant red balloon. That imagery still works. It still makes me smile. That is why I send so many balloon emojis. Not because I’m sad, but because they invoke a sense of calm, childlike freedom, and happiness. I once had a friend say that I would judge them if they cried throughout the film. Nope. I think the most cathartic moment I ever had was when I watched HP 7.2 in Bath, UK. I went by myself to a late showing. I was almost attacked on my way home. I’m getting ahead of myself. So, I sat in the cinema by myself because I was travelling alone. Of course, there were others watching, but I did not know them. I had already started sobbing by the time the Harry Potter logo appeared. I had tissues erupting from my purse like Vesuvius. I was openly revealing my emotional response, and suddenly others around me openly wiped tears and blowed their noses too. Why are we so afraid to reveal our emotional responses? They don’t reveal our truths or our stories? Although, I was vulnerable, I am proud that I made it a safe space to respond.

I wasn’t crying because it was Harry Potter, necessarily. I was crying because I was tired. I was alone. My grandfather had just been tirelessly cruel to me. Tyranny will do it every time. I missed my mom so much. I was privileged to be travelling, but it was also scary to be alone and so in charge of my own security. Guys, if you want to ease your stress when you’re travelling, stay in B&Bs rather than hostels. If you’re in a rather large group, hostels work, but if you’re by yourself or even with a partner, stay in a B&B. Do yourself that favour. Yet, no one in that cinema KNEW those reasons. In fact, I wasn’t even sure of the reasons. It was just a moment of release. It was a dark room where emotions were high, and yah, it was Harry fricking Potter.

We are beings with such varied emotions and emotional responses, but we are so uncomfortable with our emotions. I find that with little children. Parents will yell at them ‘STOP CRYING.’ But that’s bollocks. Don’t do that. There are times when we ALL throw a bit of a tantrum, and I know it’s stressful, but don’t stifle emotions. I also think children learn to be afraid to say what’s going on inside. I think there is a twofold explanation: 1) one assumes our parents are omnipotent and must understand our distress 2) one is afraid to speak up to claim one’s inner truth. With our families, our emotions and emotional responses are always rougher and less gentle than with people we don’t know. For instance, if someone tells me the same story 10x, I’m okay with it. If my mom tells me more than once, I listen. But if my sister does it, I could fly off the handle. But, at the same time, I think it’s because I absorb what my sister says because I love her, I listen to my mom because I respect her, and I sometimes forget other’s stories. (I also have a terrible memory, sorry guys). (Also, I hate it when people tell me ‘you said that already.’ shush).

I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block lately. I’ve wanted to just splat my soul onto these metaphorical pages. Unfortunately, I always feel I’ve revealed too much. Of course, the weather has been sort of grey, and I’ve been losing time to the job boards. I have this weird feeling that if we want to discover time travel and worm holes, we must look no further than job boards. Time really flies, when you can’t find a job. haha. I made a funny. 😛

***

Channel 4 / tumblr **so we’ve got time 😛

Go make yourself a cup of tea and come back. I’m drinking coffee; hazelnut flavoured. I don’t usually like flavoured coffee, but this stuff is amazing–hot, cold, nom. 

So, I know this post is long, but I’ll share an abridged story here:

I was in love with someone before. It wasn’t really a mutual affair. But it was a deep love. It wasn’t always romantic. It was just this deep-seated love that couldn’t be broken. Sometimes, it was a crutch because it felt easier to be in love with one soul than to admit it’s hard to open yourself to others. In any case, I’m fairly certain I would have trekked the earth for this person. I should explain, I was brought up on the religion of love. For me, God was a force that helped my (polish) mom’s dad (not the one mentioned above) and grandmother live through WWII. It was a force that meant that, even though he died days after my birth, I am always certain of his love. Love is doing the dishes so it’s nice for your mom when she comes home from work. Love is letting my (senior) dog walk as far as she wants in one direction and then carrying her home because she’s stubborn. So, I loved this person. A lot. Nothing ever came of it. I never did anything. Neither did they.

There were no truths shared. Poems tangle the feelings to conceal the shame of a love unfilled. My shame is not towards other people, but towards that person. I wanted them to know me, but I didn’t want to share. It seems like that proves we were ill-suited for love. If that deeper trust couldn’t be realized, then love couldn’t truly exist there. Oh, hindsight. You’re vision is spectacular, even if mine is not.

At the same time, I don’t think I lost anything by not opening myself to others. I know that seems a fairly final ruling, but I was really busy. I had other things going on in my life. I always worked and volunteered throughout school. I think that’s what we need to teach young people. If love doesn’t work out when you want it to, make sure those aren’t your only memories. Make sure you build yourself into a whole person, with or without a partner, because you need to be able to sit and look back on those years and feel happy with how you spent your time.

I’ll leave it here, but I’ll be posting a follow up to this (tomorrow-ish). Thank you for sharing this time with me; you’re all such peaches.

Warmest Wishes,
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The Ides of March, or Ideas short of A…

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I began writing this post about republicanism, Caesar, salads, betrayal, and the mentalité of empire, but I lost that post. Whoops. So let’s go back to what I wanted to do in the beginning. Every month on the 15-17th, I am going to make a post about different things: favourites, not so favourites, and all the things in between. (Apologies that this one is a little late).

This month I have been totally in love with the Body Shop. Bath, shower, cleanliness products are positive triggers. A happy and infectious smell can make your day have a little more bounce, just as we all wish our hair did. Except, I always end up putting my hair up in a bun or out of sight in a braid. Generally, throughout my life, my hair has been quite long. Except, every so often, once every year or so, I get a little distressed at how much work my hair requires, so I have chopped it quite short. I never fret about cutting it short because it grows quite quickly, and I do like being able to let it air dry without turning into an ice burg before it is somewhat dry. My hair is long, at the moment, but because I am tallish, I think it doesn’t seem quite so long as it is. Proportions, baby.

Ear jamz: --or, another of my favourites.

I rarely listen to my iPod anymore because my dog has choking fits, so I have to be able to hear her. On walks, I’ve started to just wear one headphone. I had forgotten how much music feeds my soul. It totally changed my day. I don’t really like watching television, but like most other people, if you put it in front of me, I’ll watch it. Yet, if I have music on, I’m far more likely to be productive and get a lot of things done. Music is motivational; that’s why there is such an ease to decorate our houses at Christmas time &c., when music is part of the cheer. Additionally, I think that decorating for Christmas, whether or not you celebrate it religiously or have the funds to have a fancy party, the lights and pretty colours remind us of springtime and freshness. Although, the air outside might be frightful…spring is so GD delightful.

I can feel my whole mood change as the season shifts. I love spring; summer is problematic because it gets a little too hot for my liking, and A/C is, at times, a little too unnatural. It’s nice to have a shower and sit on the porch as your hair dries on particularly summery days. I remember last summer, in London, I was trying to work on my dissertation at my uni’s library, but it was so hot that my arms kept sticking to all of the surfaces. To make it worse, I had bought coffee to put me in a working mood. You should know, when I overheat I lose my temper quite easily. So, I packed up all of my stuff, walked home, had a cold shower, closed the blinds, put on the fans, and read in the semi-darkness of my room. Heat is okay, but not when you’re trying to write on a machine that produces heat as much as it hates to overheat. Pooh! Pooh! Technology! Pooh! Pooh!

My little munchkin is sleeping so soundly right now. Doggies are so soulful. I hope that, in my life, I am always blessed to have funds, enough, to have a dog. Unfortunately, I know that it won’t always be the case because they really are quite a lot of work, but I give my heart and world to my little beast, and my heart and soul seem to float with ease. My favourite times of the days are when I feed her. She is hand fed because, honestly, she is very fluffy and has a very short snout, so it’s much cleaner just to feed her by hand. We make her food for her, too, so she eats a wet-food diet. In any case, whenever she is being fed, she always has this look that shines through her eyes of pure happiness and love. One cannot fail to be relaxed and at ease. I feel really blessed, and I want to share that with you, reader, because we absorb each other’s happiness and share it at exponential rates. Instead of snowballing into a negative feeling, it snowballs into a feeling akin to rolling in a field full of daisies that erupts into balloons that float infinitely into the sky (each landing in recycle receptacles and not polluting our world further). It’s a happiness that we get from making someone else happy. That happiness cannot be altered because, in those moments, our hearts and minds feel infinite and perfect. That is right.

I’ll leave it here for today. Look forward to monthly Ides posts. And by the middle of next week, I am going to start setting up some Oliver Twist themed posts. Due to job applications and other responsibilities, I’ve been a bit busy, but hopefully I’ll be able to share some successes with you all.

Heaps of Love,
Word Play Xx

A Not-So Valentine’s Day Post

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I’ve been trying to think, all week, about an appropriate Valentine’s Day Post. I’ve been largely unsuccessful. I wanted to write about the love in the book I’m reading. For goodness’s sake, the ‘girl’ is called Valentine! But I love the book too much to have it fit in with a themed post. I want to unravel this book more intimately, if you will. Perhaps, I am delegitimizing the opportunity for love and true caring that is meant to surround Valentine’s Day, but this book is pretty rad. I am looking forward to ruminating on the text even further. I’ve read the first book of four, Some Do Not…(by Ford Madox Ford), and I feel so in love with the text and its meaning. Valentine struggles against being a (first-wave) feminist and the realities of the Edwardian society in which she lives. For all her innocence, society has painted her as a mistress, unkept by her lover. And whilst I think we should always be wary about making anyone sexually-innocent or not, I think those societal pressures are there, so it is valid that she struggles with it. Additionally, she is quite thoughtful about the whole situation. The man she loves, and who does love her, is married and heading off to war. He may not return. Some Do Not…

I hadn’t meant to talk about the book, and look what I did! It just happens. I think when a book is that momentous, you just want to share it with everyone. I find that I am always slightly ashamed over books that have a theme of love. This text isn’t quite just that. It’s far more complicated. My GoodReads review reads as follows:

I want to rant and rave. I want everyone to know of its genius. The way the novel envelops you; reminds you of your own love. The novel cleverly creates an empathetic reader, and we want the rose-red days of love to live on forever. Tietjens is a man of great intellect, and his knowledge translates into a great criticism of Edwardian England. Richly engaged and tied to every corner of the world, England seems isolated, but this text reminds the reader the far-reaches of England’s Empire and the biting nature of a gossip-ready bureaucratic class.

Read this novel and fall in love. Fall in love and recall it’s intricacies.

From my review, it should be clear that the novel contains a lot more than just romance. And, I am going to take a little moment to censure my last sentence and my shame. I do not think that we should judge a reader, writer, or novel based on the inclusion of love and romance. Love always surrounds us. Just like Christmas:

So why do I, and others, think that books which contain romance, love, or social affairs are somehow bad or less worthy of our time? Isn’t it these kinds of books that teach us how to empathise and connect with others? Aren’t there so many internet posts about social awkwardness? I am not saying reading romance novels is going to solve these issues; I wouldn’t characterise Ford Madox Ford’s novel as a romance novel. I just think that we/I should stop shaming ourselves for liking the emotional gratification that comes with these reads.

I guess I am just trying to say that, whatever your jazz is, just enjoy it. It wouldn’t be right for me to judge someone who reads a book that I find flakey or lightweight. I’ve read YA, and I think that, whilst they don’t always contain the best of grammar or plot-lines, they do contain something current and instantly meaningful to the reader. It’s like this…you may know something really well, but sometimes someone rephrases or frames an idea in a way you never considered, and that moment of recognition is the same space in which your brain grew a little wiser. To end with an example, Ford’s novel reframed WWI in a way I hadn’t before considered. The protagonist is extremely clever and really only likeable to few people, but his cleverness presents a new way for me to think about things. His politics, though not always overt, offer me an opportunity to see the difficulties of Toryism, Whiggism, and early feminism in England.

Just read something that makes your heart swoon this Valentine’s Day. If you’ve done that. If you’ve found the book that makes your heart race, your blood rush through your veins, and your brain quiver with beautiful words…you’ve lived and you’ve loved.

Heaps of love,

Xx

P.S I think I might read Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle now…

Clasp at the moon and drink in the stars

Source: Buzzfeed

Recall the words you’ve read, well and true,
For, one day, they’ll be asked of you,
Chime them back with zeal and truth,
Memory is a frivolous quality of youth,

She enchanted lines and sang with grace,
In her, words sweetly dance and deeply embrace,
To memorize the words of those before,
Was something she had little, anymore,

She hid in fear of being found out,
Imagining they’d wonder just what she was about,
But, to her, phrases were not so easily memorised, 
For, they oft took on many a subtle disguise,

And phrases are not just words stacked together,
There are letters that are joined and tethered,
Sounds and magic combine to depict,
Those rascally words that you’ve picked.

Beneath those letters matter is revealed,
Elemental truths, spiraled and congealed,
Sup at the table of earthly delights,
There you’ll find words oft lost in the night,

Like stars appear bland in the sky full of clouds,
Words seem silent until they are shouted out loud,
Swirling in murky desires and forgotten wars,
Droned and confused by many a chauvinistic bore,

Beguiled by journey and distant arrivals,
Penning words to challenge and surreptitiously rival, 
Climbing over letters only to stumble in brambles,
Choosing slow contrition over which we amble,

Blow away the fog before your eyes,
Reach and look towards the night skies,
Clasp at the moon and drink in the stars,
For these particular words are ours.