Looking For Angels

 

In a pursuit for answers and, perhaps more importantly, inspiration, my phone knows when to drop a song-bomb on me (lately it’s been Life Is Beautiful – Sixx: AM at least once in each playlist). Then it dropped a Skillet track that made me really reflect on the time I’ve spent with certain people over the last week.

I had the pleasure of spending the day with a friend today, livin’ la vida loca (look, I brought that back around!), and  it’s amazing what you can do with words without any kind of intention other than to be heard. Between personal ethos and (somehow) Russell Brand’s idea of a resurrected communism, I’ve been given so much food for thought that now just needs recording and channeling.  My friend, if you are reading this (which I think you will be) – thank you.

I have been stumped with writer’s block, particularly on the creative side of things, for downloadsome time now. I think it is something to do with a head vs. heart thing. In any  case, this has been distressing as I had just started to write a story that I actually have some faith in. It wasn’t that the ideas weren’t there, just the words weren’t coming through, and the images had blurred a little in my mind.

Then the right person says the right things at the right time.

It’s never expected, for me anyway. I suppose when we recognise someone for the wealth of thoughts, feelings and dreams beneath the surface, and how what they say resonates with us, we probably should make more of a habit of hanging around them. Let’s call this, ‘Tracking an Inspiration Genesis (and getting it on tap). If I ever do get the hang of that, and succeed as a writer, I have a good title for the book sharing my accumulated wisdom right there (yeah, I have a little ambition back too).

I suppose that what I’m sharing here isn’t much more than a thank you note, and really it actually goes out to a few people. I don’t think you need naming – you’re reading this (say thanks again) and you should know who you are. However, what I will state as a take-away message (fresh out of the oven, OUT FOR DELIVERY) is this: Words are the foundation of humankind. Slavery is no longer acceptable; women have their rights; and we strive to eliminate poverty and promote equality. All of these things started with an exchanging/outcry of words and in 2016 we must continue to share, for one and for all.

The right words, from the right person at the right time, have no limits to what they can accomplish. –  J.L.C. 2016

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A Sound Soul…

I’m gonna lay down some straight thinking (talking on the inside, conveyed via a keyboard…. whatever!). I returned to my London abode earlier this afternoon, stuck on the Hamilton soundtrack and cleaned up a bit – turns out not having a full time job can bring out one’s inner-slob. I am dreading the rent due date, and finding that writer’s block and the inability to breathe are becoming more or less the same (both trigger some form of panic reflex). I have to reflect now on where I am heading and make a few decisions.

As it happens, freelancing is not an easy way to make a living (who knew, right?), and after a few upheavals and owning up to my situation I have had some options laid out for me. I decided that these could be left until after celebrating a close friend’s 21st birthday over the weekend. For a day at least, this seemed to have really helped me relax and clear my head. I then realised that this was one of life’s cheap tricks, and the reality was that I opened my mind up for someone/something/some-none-of-your-business to use as a playground. I’m not complaining, but it’s taken this long to get to writing something appropriate. This is why I am typing with as little ‘buffering’ as possible; from mind to screen.

So, isn’t the title slightly unjustified? Well, I would call it irony, and you can just deal with it.

So, the choices: bail out within the first 6 months of my venture; find a job that I will likely detest within a short period of time; go to university. I can explore all of these options, and intend to, once my mind starts playing ball again. I’m thinking about a foundation/integrated degree in either English or Journalism might be the way to go (I am sick of ‘not being educated to the appropriate level’ when I have all of the relative practical experience and more coming out my ass). It makes sense, and there’s always the option to teach. Hey kids, DON’T DO THIS! 

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. I’ve shared a little, and got the ball moving (not quite rolling, but moving). I think I’ve succeeded in not writing an entry fueled by any negativity or panic, so I’d call that a success. I’ve done the best I can at a time in which I find my head is in the clouds.

A lost soul dwells within a wandering mind and a restless body.

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Time Is A Face On The Water

For someone in the first decade of their pursuit of independence, or someone who hasn’t visited home for a number of years, coming back to your parents (especially if it’s the house you grew up in) can make you exceptionally conscious of time’s passage.

For me, ‘time markers’ appear sporadically in the house I lived in until I was around 16 and started my own journey (watch people chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill for sport – the ‘journey’ has been like that). What really got me thinking about this in more depth was an act of laziness – slipping into a pair of my Dad’s slippers. I was swept by a wave of nostalgia. For all of the times I must have done this as a child, constantly in danger of tripping over the extra toe room, this must be the first time in at least 8-9 years that I’ve done this and actually found they fit. A ‘marker’ has been set for it – it is the little things that always stick in memory for the longest, after all.A ritual I have picked up whenever I visit home is walking into every room in the house. I have no idea if I am actively looking for changes, or just familiarizing myself with the environment, but I do this and it’s an instinct that isn’t triggered. anywhere else. I have had less interest in my own new homes upon moving than I do for the bookshelves of old books and DVDs or any new furniture or pictures on display.

The final process to time-stamping my life with these visits is the critical analysis of my life. The sooner you learn that your tongue is destined to fall out of your mouth for the number of times you find yourself saying ‘you were right’ or ‘I should have listened’ – the easier the rest of your life will likely be. This has been hammered home time and time again with each visit. Maybe I’m addressing a deviant/hard-headed audience with this, but there are so few examples of people I know who listened to their parents advice from day 1 who aren’t doing well for themselves now, and likewise very few who defied their parents at every turn who aren’t struggling with the difficulty setting on life being turned to ADULT. Personally, I like to play life on TEENAGER mode with the difficulty cranked up to CRITICAL. Perhaps this has contributed to my own struggles, and is the last phase I’ll have to deal with before joining the rat race in the ADULT category.

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing the innate ability one or both of your parents have to make you feel that are most definitely a child in adult clothing (not purposefully, I’m sure). This particular visit was the first time this didn’t happen, and instead I felt like a very tired adult. This made me immediately miss feeling like a kid playing house (playing house on your own sucks, by the way) and made the weight of responsibility and ambition very real. However, I am fortunate in that in this realisation both parents have not just identified this weight, but have taken up a stance to help share it. Being able to feel that love and support (whilst not feeling like you are 10 years old in one of your Dad’s suit) is definitely a marker, and makes me wonder how so many years have passed since leaving home. As accurately described, time is a face on the water.

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Fear In A Handful of Dust

Ever since a young age, I’ve had a strange idea of what is scary. Kids were always quick to call spiders, heights or clowns as things they are afraid of. Personally, the only thing that’s anything like this for me was when I was around 7 years old and I was absolutely terrified of the Cheshire Cat from Disney’s Alice and Wonderland. It haunted my nightmares, and that impossibly large, manic grin appeared whenever the lights went out. I don’t know why it did, but it did.

The fear that replaced this several years later, and I suppose still resides in me, is a fear of failure: of being lost and alone, and sentenced to mediocrity. I think that’s a strange thing for a 13-14 year old to recognise as a fear, but perhaps I am not alone. Maybe I was just more mature at that age than I give myself credit for. As I got older, I came to realise that whilst growing old without accomplishment seems like a waste of my life, I am still only starting the third decade of my time and the future is always in my control (cue intervening drunk driver/heart attack/natural disaster). I do get a say on how my story goes; less on how it ends; and none on how/if it will be told.

Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to the point. It’s called scene setting!

So when I set out to write this blog, it was intended to be the start of writing for an audience and a transition from writing in a journal for my own counsel and record. I’ve recently had the burning desire to having a writing career reignited, and I think this may have also got me thinking about fear. I started writing a Daily Scrawl, but over the last few days, although I’ve had subject matter and an itch to type away at this keyboard, I’ve been paralyzed by doubt.

I decided that the best away to overcome this (procrastinate further) was to look to influences and remind myself why I have this itch to scratch. I must have spent at least 3-4 hours listening to Stephen King talks and interviews, which for any Dark Tower fans among you might explain the choice of title for today (although it was borrowed from T.S. Elliot originally), and I suppose it has done the trick. Whilst I have held back from writing any entries here, I have finally mustered the courage to actually start writing a story that has been rattling around in my brain in broken pieces for at least a year. So cheers, Stevie, I’ve ordered your On Writing for further inspiration.

On the topic of fear, and I suppose this applies to a lot of things, that more often than not knowledge and understanding are the tools required to overcome what scares you. If you understand why you are afraid, or can do a good enough job at convincing yourself why this particular thing isn’t as scary as you are, then it’s a lot easier to square up to it. You don’t get cold sweats looking down the barrel of a gun you know has nothing but empty chambers, right?

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Liebster Award

liebster-award-main

I have to say a massive thank you to Diksha from A Writer’s Cauldron for this nomination for a Liebster Award. Having only joined the blogging community very recently, it’s heart-warming to have made such an impression through simply sharing a love of writing. It is with great honour that I accept this. Whatever has justified the praise, I will endeavor to continue!

The Liebster Award is not a real award. It’s just a Blogger’s way of telling you that they like your Blog and it’s more of a thumbs-up than anything else. It’s a way for older, experienced Bloggers to encourage and motivate new Bloggers. The word ‘Liebster’ literally means sweetest/ lovely/ endearing/ welcome in German. So basically, if someone nominates you and you accept the award (completely your choice to accept or not), you have to answer the questions said Blogger asks you and then nominate a few others and ask them some questions too.

So let’s roll out some Q & A, shall we?

1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

I know this may be pushing the boundary on the ‘childhood’ era, but I would have to say it was when I was about 15. I was in boarding school, and a few of us had recently discovered a way of getting onto the roof of the house dorms – we’d also recently picked up a smoking habit… These development nicely coincided nicely, and once or twice a week, somewhere between 11-12pm after all the teachers and tutors had left or gone to sleep, we’d sneak onto the roof with a pack of cigarettes to share (sometimes with a drink) and we’d just watch the sky and smoke.

It turned out, for all of us in the end, that this was a place in which we could let go of all the bravado that went into living in a school, and all the other crap we each had going on, so we could just have a normal conversation and indulge in a little rebellion where no one would find us. I remember the very last time we all went up there being a moment where nothing else mattered – things just seemed to make sense.

2. Which is the one place in the world that you’d like to visit (or revisit)?

I have always wanted to visit Venice, Italy. There’s something totally fantastic about a city on the water, with it’s old architecture, the gondolas…. everything. I’ve actually had a couple of dreams about it, despite never having been. I tried writing a story based in my dream-version of Venice. I found that dreams, details in particular, are a little to fleeting, and often can’t compete with the real deal.

3. What is your favorite part of blogging?

My favourite part of blogging is definitely getting engrossed in the subject matter. Whether it’s about music, ambitions, or experiences I can’t get over how sometimes as I type I become ‘conscious‘ and just watch as words appear on the screen in front of me, chasing the thought genesis. I always thought I would appreciate the effect my work would have on other people more – but much like a good story, the pleasure is in the journey rather than the destination alone.

4. Introvert or extrovert? (Or ambivert? Hehe!)

I’ve naturally been an introvert, and I struggled a little bit because of it growing up I think. In my late teens I decided that you can do whatever you want and be whoever you want. I didn’t want to be isolated with how I think and feel, so I started (and still do) make a conscious effort to be an open book – kind of a like it or lump it deal, savvy? (NOTE: Side effects of ‘manual personality moderation‘ may induce severe weirdness – please seek medical assistance if this persists for more than four consecutive hours)

5. Which is the first book you remember reading? (No textbooks!)

This is actually really tricky, as (if reports given to me are accurate) I actually started reading at very young age. I learned with the Mr. Men books, and I’m pretty sure my folks still have the complete collection stored away somewhere. As for the first memory of reading, it’s a blur as I did read a lot – the first proper book I remember actually locking myself away with was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – I must have been around 7 or 8 years old at the time. If memory serves, I think I actually read it twice I was that impressed with it at the time!

6. The biggest risk you’ve ever taken in your life?

I think this is safely my decision to move to London. I moved in November last year away from family who had always been fairly close, and leaving pretty much all of my friends behind in the hopes of figuring out who I am, what I want to do and living up my 20’s. Young, single and moving to London sounded like an idealistic ad, and I wasn’t happy with where I was professionally and emotionally before. It has been a stressful change to process, but I’m getting there!

7. One person you find inspiring and why?

I have 3 influences in my life, but I’m going to only talk about 1 as he has inspired me the most in all of my creative outlets – which is pretty relevant here, right?

Musician, Author, Photographer, Radio Host, Father, Husband and fellow Journal Keeper – Nikki Sixx. This man has been a part of my life since around 2009 when I first heard Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil album and lost myself in the pages of The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rockstar. Since then I’ve read his follow-up (This Is Gonna Hurt); completely invested in the creative genius that is Sixx: AM; I listen to Sixx Sense and watch any interview I come across online. Everything about his story, from his darker days to his modern day success and creative freedom inspire me to really chase dreams and turn them into reality.

Okay – We’re gonna move on to the next question, because this tap really doesn’t shut off when it’s really opened up!

8. Do you have any phobias? 

I always thought I had a real fear of failure and life-long mediocrity. I still kinda do, but for what it’s worth I wish I had simpler fears!

9. Ebooks or paperbacks?

Paperbacks, every time. I like physically owning something, especially if I’ve paid for it. Each book, or CD or DVD form a part of a collection that really says something about you and your tastes – it also leaves a great trail from your literary/musical journey through the years.

10. One thing you love about yourself?

Oh NOW we want to identify a self-depricating issue?

Jokes aside, I’m not very good at these kind of questions. I guess if we’re going with right here and now, I really dig that I’ve got a second side to me – not in the psycho-killer way, but more like a hidden reservoir of ambition, intuition and drive. I’m working on how to collaborate with ‘other me’ – so far he only really makes an appearance when inebriated or sleep-deprived.

(Spoiler: We’re now in counseling, and have decided to give this thing a try – we are currently planning a weekend away).

PS: A simpler answer is probably my personal brand of humor – not everyone gets it.

 

Again, massive thanks to Diksha for her kind words on my contributions so far, and to my own nominees who’ve made an impression on me (see below). I would recommend checking these writers out, because it’s seriously worth the time:

It goes without saying: Check out Diksha’s work @ A Writer’s Cauldron – she’s already been given this award.

SophiegDonnelly

Sophie knows what’s going on – she get’s straight to the point!

This Battered Suitcase

If you need to pluck up the confidence to face something, try something, or especially go somewhere new, hit this blog up – really insightful stuff.

These are the rules :

* Display an image of the award on your blog (Google it, or make your own)
* Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog.
* Answer the 11 questions that are provided by the person who nominated you.
* Nominate other bloggers to receive the award.
* Create 10 questions for these nominees to answer.
* Inform those people who are now nominated for the Liebster Award, and provide a link to your post so they can learn more about it.
* List these rules on your blog post, so your nominees can find them.

  1. What inspired you to take the first step into the blogging community?
  2. Is there any one post or blogger that stands out in general from all that you have read or written yourself?
  3. If there was a book about your life (and it wasn’t under the same name as your current blog), what would it be, and what would be said in the blurb/summary?
  4. Who’s your greatest influential figure and why?
  5. Someone tells you they want to start writing a blog themselves, but need some advice on how to start – what do you tell them?
  6. If you could choose one place to live for the rest of your life, money being no problem, where would it be?
  7. If you could travel back or forward in time to any one time or place, when/where would it be and why?
  8. If you have a pet – imagine they could say something about you when you’re big and famous. What would they say? If you don’t have a pet, what would you choose to have, and what would they say?
  9. What’s your favourite book and why?
  10. You have 24 hours to live, and all the resource bar time and the ability to stop yourself dying (cut out your loopholes there didn’t I) you could need at disposal – what do you do?

 

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Oh My God, I’m Going To Die!

Do you ever find yourself having a totally exaggerated thought responses? I mean ‘Man Flu‘ is a great example – guys, you’re with me when I say that when you’ve got it really bad the thought ‘I’m actually going to die‘ or ‘please kill me‘ crosses your mind, right? We all know that it’s an extreme thing to think or say aloud, but at the time it either seems totally justified, or we are simply not in a position to care that we’ve had that thought. This is something I think everyone experiences, yourself included, and can apply to hangovers (tick), pregnancy scares (tick), being lost in a new place (tick) or in shock from an actual injury (tick).

The reason I got thinking about this is because I’ve had 3 of these outrageous thought-reflexes in the past couple of weeks (yeah, I’ve not had the best time over the last couple weeks…). The first example I’ll use was last Monday…

Cutting a long story short, I had my drink spiked in a bar in Leicester Square and suffered total amnesia from around 10.30pm to 1.30am – in this time I had some how managed to get to High Barnett, regained consciousness standing on the platform, very cold and confused whilst my insides were staging some kind of riot. For context, I live in South Wimbledon, so being at the top of the Northern Line, in an area I didn’t know at all, when all tubes had stopped was bad. The lack of memory and phone battery was worse. When I figured out where I was and what time it was, and worked out that I was very much alone in this situation, I stopped: ‘I give in – someone is going to stab me and it’s game over‘. It was like living out a nightmare….
I did manage to get home after a long walk and a very expensive cab, and I didn’t die.

The second occasion was last night. I made my first trip in my whole life to A&E. I had been experiencing trouble breathing, along with other symptoms, that were getting progressively worse and I was advised to get straight to A+E by my GP. To me, hospitals are just death factories so I felt my vision start to swim and my stomach turn by the time I made it to A&E. Despite the blood test (I don’t deal well with injections), x-rays and confusion/pain – the wait among all the other plague-carrying corpses-to-be is when I thought ‘I’m going to die in the waiting room – this is so ironic, but I don’t have the capacity to think why!‘ (this is what I wrote in a note for myself, I found later last night).

Avoiding the boring details, I didn’t die in the waiting room, and the doctors advised I don’t have anything fatal that could kill me any time soon.

The third occasion was earlier today. Some of you may remember I mentioned before that I do some market research work, and I was doing some of that today. Another first for me was a visit to an IKEA store (I know I know, where have I been all my life?). I wandered in, taking in all the Swedish itinerary, scribbling data into a notepad as I ambled around the store, occasionally double backing or stopping to make a note. It was only after around 30 minutes and I needed to go to the tills to collect information that I realised that not only did I not know where the tills were, but I had no idea where I’d come from or which way I had intended to go before stopping.
I did the most logical thing: I followed the path around, keeping an eye on fuller trolleys walking faster than the rest, taking more information in as I did. I had been in the store for about an hour when I thought ‘I’m already dead. I died last night and now I’m in Swedish purgatory!‘. This was followed quickly by ‘I could probably get used to meatballs everyday‘ which was worryingly calming, but I soon found myself in the flat-packed furniture dungeon and I knew I was close to freedom.

You must all think I’m such a hypochondriac now! I swear, I’m not (usually) and it just seems that my journey of discovery has been a lot more varied a lot sooner than expected. I can safely say that getting drugged, a visit to A&E and loosing my mind in IKEA on a busy Saturday afternoon were not included on any short or long term ‘TO DO’ list, but I suppose they are experiences all the same.

 

Pictures(in order of appearance): Black Books, Finding Nemo, How I Met Your Mother

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‘Twisted’ – Lyrics Without Music

You can find yourself in a strange state of mind at 2am – more so when you’re bogged in a buffet of medication you don’t fully understand. But here I am, and I felt that in my sleep-deprived, doped-up state that I wanted to jot some lyrics down. We know how that’s all it takes to create something…

 

I don’t even know what service you’re trying to provide,

And you want me to cough up, show you what’s inside?

I’ll tell you – I was down and alone, but I felt the weight being lifted,

Ever since meeting my worse half, and now I feel gifted,

Everything’s in sync, but you call it twisted.

Dance of the devils, Have you met my new friend?

Dance of the devils, there’s no need to pretend

Yes, Doc, this Jekyll here’s got a Hyde

It’s all in my head, you say, I’m seeing double

But now you’re in trouble,

Because our demons are all on side.

We didn’t always see eye to eye, but now I’m not gonna lie,

It never felt so good, so clear, so right to be twisted

To be an equal part in this messed-up mixture,

To feel a presence within this mental fissure,

Me, You and I are all in here – And we’re twisted.

I always said that I would fake it

In the fear that I’d never make it

But now we’ve an understanding, Jekyll and I,

And between us we’ve really got nothing to hide

We’re living the dream,

We’re a nightmare team

The old me is gone, strung up, nailed in, crucified.

Dance of the devils, have you met your end?

Dance of the devils, did it call you ‘friend’?

Now I only question why I ever resisted

In our heads, we’re at capacity,

But still got our grip on reality,

Me, You and I are all in here – And we’re twisted.

I’ve had elements of this in my head for a while, so I’m glad that picking at the thread pulled the whole string loose. Perhaps I’ll have some chords to put to this in the near future. In the meantime, it’s almost 3am and the painkillers mix I’m taking is really starting to kick in – so this is where we close.

 

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