A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘human relationships

April 16th seven years ago in a city called Troy

Last week I didn’t quite fulfill my initial goal I’d set for myself.  To recap, this is what I set for myself:

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me (What Am I Doing? 4/3/17)

Last week, I bemoaned the fact that Shiny was more than just an adjective but also a state of mind as I tried to describe the cause of my failure.  I can’t say I am better off now.  The ‘new and shiny’ is still demanding more of me than I suspected.  I knew it would be hard to narrow down the list, but…  yeesh.

Still, I think I have come up with something that works as a decent starting point.  Ten things I dream of doing and how I intend to get there… and after that, new goal: to take dream from the list and start working on achieving it.

  1. I want to do something that will help others without causing hassles for the people I love.  This may seem like an odd thing for a dream.  It’s clearly not a S.M.A.R.T. goal.  It’s vague, has no defined times, and…  attainable and specific ran right off the cliff here.  But this is who I am.  I like to help, to do things that make peoples’ lives easier…  and I get into all sorts of fluff because of it.  Starting now, I want to figure out better ways to help without also becoming a problem.  Sometimes it will mean saying “No” more.  I bet sometimes I will have to say “Yes” more too.  This is not something that can be given a one-size-fits-all-(or even most) solution, but…  I can dream, can’t I?
  2. April 15th, four years ago on a road called Lower Flatrock

    The storyworld that exists in my head needs to be realized in more than one ‘permanent’ format.  I don’t want to just work on the writing—I need to get through that part, but I also want to develop the skills to also give it form in other expressions, preferably drawing or painting since I have at least half a chance of achieving it there.  I would like to someday make an animation of some of the stories, but that’s not as high a priority as more basic art.  To that goal, I need to dedicate more time to drawing and trying out how to use other artistic media.  I may start joining some of the Boodle’s art classes, as they’ve been wonderful for helping him learn how to use the different tools to achieve his artistic visions.

  3. I want to travel because, while the internet has made the world much more accessible, there is a limit to the depth of experience one can garner from 360°images, webinars, and descriptive text passages.  This is a dream in some ways…  my husband is very much a home-body.  It is also a goal that I can meet in limited forms.  Next week I will be on an airplane, heading across The Pond with the Boodle to spend a few weeks exploring England and meeting some fellow writers.
  4. I dream about living in one of those homes that is part retreat, part library, part museum and antique shop.  Sometimes this dream wobbles a bit and I actually am living in an antique shop, one that specializes in old books.  Sometimes the dream involves running a Bed & Breakfast that would have some of these elements.  Clearly I need to refine this a lot more…
  5. Sharing things that I find beautiful with others brings me exponential happiness… I need, in a visceral way, to do this. Since art and beauty are subjective, this isn’t always as easy as I would like, but generally, I have good luck with this.  I just want to keep doing it…. and maybe increase my ‘out-reach’.
  6. I know I am not taking the best care of my body that I can at the moment (as much as it likes to remind me of that fact, I am not giving up my green tea lattes from Starbuck’s though).  So I have other dreams/goals involving fitness and health…  one of them is to run again and do another 5K race, running the thing this time.  Why?  Because I had a dear friend, almost a brother, who loved to run in 5 & 10K races, and he died before we could run together.
  7. I’m putting this a bit further down the list because…  really it’s not up to me, so to speak—it is his life, and he will make these decisions on his own—, but I really want to be able to help my son discover what gives him joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  8. In little things as well as big things, I want to keep a sense of wonder.
  9. I dream of worlds where contact between two people meeting is not abrasive, but soothing.  I want people to be comforted by my presence, and to be comfortable in theirs…  I’d like to find my ‘tribe’.
  10. If we’re talking dreams…  I dream about helping grow our local homeschooling community center into a more self-sustaining resource that involves the community at large in some ways.  I know what I would do if I suddenly had a lot of money… or the skills to help operate such a place.

The Boodle and his Great-uncle measuring fish fry, 2 years ago April 16h

There it is…  I suspect this list isn’t The List. It just is The List For Now.  Seems to me, this is a process that I would benefit from participating in regularly.  So…  to Round 2 for this goal, and onto the goals for the rest of this round, starting with the new goal of ‘the week’.

A Sense of Wonder

Why?  Because it’s the goal I am in the best position to work on now and it opens so many of the other goals.

Life in limbo

At least, that’s how things seem to be lately.  I mean, yes, I’ve been doing things…  lots and lots of ‘things’.  Most of those things involve time and activities with the Kidlet and the Hubby.  And paperwork…  lots and lots of paperwork too.

Emotionally I am in a bit of a funk because I realized (with some chagrin) that I’ll likely never achieve my dream of becoming a citizen of the UK.  Want doesn’t really play a part in it…  I mean, I want to very much.  But logistically, I am not in a position to do such a thing and probably won’t be for so long that the feasibility of such a move goes down the toilet.

At least I get to live there vicariously for a few weeks at the end of this month.  🙂

But dreams of England aren’t the only things I’ve considered.  Dreams of story are too.  Trying to find them again, trying to reconnect to worlds that seem to be happy to fade into a distance of paying bills, planning budgets, driving, shopping for heavy-duty archeology trowels…  and other people’s stories.  Oh, that last one is actually a killer.  I once thought I needed to read and see what others were writing and doing to fill my head with ideas and options, but… no.  The more I immerse myself into the worlds of others (often without much enjoyment even), the harder it is to connect with my characters.

They’re like cats that way.  They don’t take snubs well, and they don’t seem to get the idea that I’m just spending time elsewhere so I can be a better writer of their stories.  I’m not even sure they care if I write their stories, just as long as I am dutifully enthralled by them.  There’s a reason I used to think that Alanii’s alter-ego with feline.  He’s corrected me on this matter many times, but…  my cats are more like puppy-dogs than he is.

Which is why I took so long before setting out my ROW80 goals (today is officially the first day of Round 2 and I am just getting around to writing this post up)…  I am still not sure what my goals are.  I know how to set my goals, how to make them S.M.A.R.T., but I don’t know what I actually want to focus on or even achieve these days beyond get the “next thing done”.  There seem to be so many next things, that I am driven to distraction just trying to get through a day.  And when I do have those free moments that I once would have used for Those Five Sentences, I don’t write…  I space out.

So, at least for this week (the nice thing about goals is that they can be adjusted), I have ONE goal:

Make a list of  ten things I dream of doing and prioritize them by how much I want them, how long they will take to achieve and what steps I will need to follow to meet each one.  And one caveat here…  no “pay bills” goals here.

We’ll see where that gets me.

Things change and yet don’t change around here with surprising consistency.  I wrote my last post here over a year ago; I cannot promise that the upcoming gap will be any less extreme.  I’m still trying to figure out what this space is for….  or if, it is what I think it should be, what my usual blog-haunt Many Worlds From Many Minds is or will be.

When I think about it and am honest with myself, I have a bit of an aversion to being “myself” so directly…  online or off.  A lot of people have nicknames, use pen names, or aliases online.  I do, and yet I don’t.  I thought of trying to establish a serious online persona so that my private life could be truly private.  But in the end, it seemed unnatural to be reaching out to the world electronically by saying “hey, look at me, read what I wrote” while hiding behind the screen and a stock image.

Unnatural for me…  I am not judging the choices others have made in regards to their online lives.  It’s a pretty crazy world out here, and we all deal the way we need to deal.


 

So…  What brought me over here?  I guess the same could be said for me posting over at Many Worlds…  I only started that up recently as well.  Then again, I started that up because that’s where I post all my ROW80 check-ins; I had a “reason” for blogging again there.  So, why am I here…

Actually, I just came to share an article I read on The Rumpus.net…  an article I just can’t get out of my head.  I was there, in this author’s place during the college years.  I suspect more young women are than they would like to admit.

After a while...  we all watch the world from this vantage point

After a while… we all watch the world from this vantage point

Was I in that place?  Oh, not the same place…  of my “bad choices” one I ran from during the ‘afterglow’; with another, the college paraded me during proceedings as a tool to get him banned when I didn’t could barely understand what had actually happened from what I’d been told had happened; another wasn’t too shy to make sure I knew how much I ‘owed’ him for the fact his roommate was my boyfriend and he had to deal with me ‘teasing and frustrating’ him by our cuddling, and if my boyfriend wasn’t going to take what was being offered (never mind that it hadn’t been offered), then he would…  and if I didn’t he’d make sure the RA knew I’d been drinking in his room.

Oh…  and I only did a bit of the bulimia and anorexia thing.  My way of coping turned away from the “I need to be prettier to be accepted, and I’ll be prettier if I can lose weight‘ to the “fuck you all, I’m going to be so damned fat and ugly I won’t have to deal with any of you“.

Only…  it didn’t work that way.  It never does.

Things change.  We change, heal, grow…  new experiences, new faces,…  I keep rediscovering myself, even those “stitches” as Roe McDermott notes in her piece sometimes seem to be all I’m made of.   Now, instead of trying to define myself by someone else’s interest in me, I try to just be me.

Whoever that is….

 

Sometimes people mean so much to us that all “things” seem inadequate.  We say we should give of ourselves, but that comes off as so trite.  And it’s hard to define anyway.  I can’t speak for most people, but I try to make myself available and try to do things for those I love without being reminded or asked anyway.  I love them and try to be attentive to them.

Bubbles!  MUST pop Bubbles (credit Ray Paulsen Photography)

Bubbles! MUST pop Bubbles (credit Ray Paulsen Photography)

So what to give a life partner who makes smiles just happen by being in the same room?  Who frustrates me by leaving the butter out and staring at me blankly when I ask if we need anything from the store before I head out then asks me why I forgot mustard when I get home…  Who perfected the infamous Muppet Dance and does pseudo-ballet twirls in our kitchen as I’m moving boiling water around….

I wrote a poem.

Flavor

I don’t like

      Coffee

Flavored kisses,

bittersweet, tangy

      Let me

take one of my

      Birthday truffles

Make sweet, hot, wet

      Drops on your lips.

Warm, melting,

      caress

my lips

      taste of yours.

My fingers reach to your hair

I hold you there

      Dripping sweetness

      lick it up

      take another bite.

I don’t like coffee

but your flavored kisses

            are too brief.

I wrote this before my husband’s birthday, but sharing it is a very different step.  I hope you’ll all indulge me for the moment as I wish Dan Happy Birthday (a few days off).

At the Henge (photo credit Eden Mabee)

Trying to resume a regular pattern for this page, I have one of my “semi-regular” features for the day: Book Review Monday, which as you my remember, alternates weeks with Your Inspirations, a feature that highlights those creative sparks that “work” for people in the world.

Before I give my opinion piece on Diane Ackerman‘s One Hundred Names For Love, please allow me to introduce a little “house discussion” here. Read the rest of this entry »

A little upkeep is needed here, with a few announcements.

  • First there are some wonderful upcoming features coming up including a review of Diane Ackerman‘s eloquent One Hundred Names For Love (May 14th) and a delightful guest piece in Your Inspirations by Barbara Chepaitis (May21th)
  • I’m in the process of merging both this blog and Many Worlds, but the process is becoming far more emotionally stacked than I would like it to be.  Please stop in occasionally for updates.

For the moment, please allow me to share a piece with you I’d written for the  StoryDam Writing Challenge prompt this week

Spring time is about new beginnings and with new beginnings you have choices. We often are so excited to see the first days of spring turning into warmer days of outdoor fun, new projects, gardening, home improvement, new outlooks and decisions that have to be made if you want to start something new. Is there a doorway you always wanted to go through but allowed something to hold you back? What great adventure might have been waiting on the other side of that opening?

Dam Burst Prompt:

Write fiction or non-fiction, tell us what lies on the other side of the door. Will you take door number two or door number one? What magical wonders are just waiting for you to step through?

Despite writing this piece on the 30th of April, I’ve been unable to do anything with it until today….  It’s fairly raw.  Still I hope you enjoy it.  Sometimes life simply “is”.

——————————————–

Two doors… Where do they lead?  Choices, choices…

Watchman

A watchman stands at the door to the left.  With promises of the stable life, the known life,  everyone else seems eager to enter that door.  Get your papers in order.  The watchman–or watchwoman, depending on how you get here–deals with this every day.  Just pass the information over and let him do his job.

He, or she will compare your papers to a checklist they keep.  (Be careful–these guards all seem to have slightly different checklists!)  It doesn’t matter what the little variation might be….  Child out of wedlock, too many job changes, a tattoo in a noticeable location… There are countless numbers of little things the guards check for.

After perhaps five strikes you have your papers handed back to you, and guard turns you from the line. There a few ways to get through the door even so.  Perhaps you have a bonus supply of money or good looks or chutzpah… even talent can be used as currency to bribe the guard.  If you have a surplus in some area, you still might get through.  You can be one of the ones who has it all.

If you are smart, you may go over your papers on you own . Once you are in line, you’ve made you choice and unless the guard urges you out of line, you have to go through that door.  You really have to mess up once you are on the other side to get sent back out to try again.

Ipsden: inside the church porch Entering the 1...

At least that’s what every one around you in line says, whispering in low, horrified voices, the sheer weight of ostracism held in each letter, each atom the air that is exhaled from their lips. They look askance at the ones that stand in line at the other door… Its blackened, muddied, peeling surface, dented and warped just enough that occasionally a whiff of “something” that doesn’t set well on your stomach escapes it. They have made it quite clear that you don’t want to enter that door.

That’s where those people go. You don’t want to be one of those people, do you? (They motion to their guard and say with pride “Why do you think we have to guard our door? Everyone wants to come in here. We have to be selective, you know.”)

And it does look so much nicer. There are flowers growing on a arbor over it. There is a light. Everything about their door is bright, clean. You once were near enough to catch the whiff of fresh clipped lawns and gentle perfumes as someone was let in.

Roses along a trellis, Interbay P-Patch (commu...

But as you stand in the crowd, knowing that you should decide, already starting to step forward toward the door with the guard, you see someone push the other door open. This person hadn’t even considered the flowered, guarded door. He stepped out of the crowd boldly, he even seemed to smile when he got to the door and found it was stuck closed from having been warped so much. He pushed against it with all his weight, making his body into a battering ram in his determination to get through that door. And behind him, you could hear others calling to him saying “No! Please don’t do this!”

Suddenly, the door opens for him, just as the guarded door is opening for someone else, and you see inside for just the briefest moment. You see the guarded door and the rows of neat little boxes, of neat, carefully manicured grasses and faces, the sameness of it all.

Your eyes take it in in a second before you look back to the unguarded dooor as it creaks closed against the boy who has ducked into its depths. You see a multitude of colors and glaring brightness amidst devastating darkness, You hear music. You smell flowers and refuse and you hear laughter and tears.

You know that it’s all the same then. And why should you ask someone else yo judge you fit to simply “live”

We know the end result of both doors. The long term end that is. The doors all end in death.  We cannot avoid it. Even if we were to try standing still and never move, we have chosen our exit from the world. And what a sad, desperate exit that is too. So what exit do we chose to use?

PHOTO CREDITS:

  • Watchman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Ipsden: inside the church porch Entering the 1761088 and closing the outer door behind you, it soon becomes clear that the porch does not have much in the way of illumination. Not having looked beforehand, I had to reopen the outer door so as to find the handle of the inner door. Here, we look back at the closed outer door, facing south on a bright sunny day as sunlight seeps in through gaps in the woodwork and under the door. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Roses along a trellis, Interbay P-Patch (community garden), Interbay neighborhood, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continuing on a regular feature here at the Garden of Delights, welcome to Book Review Monday which alternates with Your Inspirations twice a month.  Last time Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War was the feature piece.  Today, let’s enjoy something a bit lighter.

Knees Up, Mother Earth by Robert Rankin

Knees Up Mother Earth

If you’re like me, living across The Pond, you may have heard news stories about European “football” (rugby) teams and how violent and reactionary their fans can get.  And if you’re like me (or even if you actually enjoy sports), you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

I mean, it isn’t as if seeing your favorite team lose a game once in a while is the end of the world!

Or is it?

Enter the Brentford United FA (Football Association) whose members have been contracted to win every single game of their season and achieve the coveted FA Cup, lest their football field be sold off to a land developer.  Since the team’s plummeting streak has held solid since the 1920’s, there seems to be little chance of saving their beloved club.   But the stakes end up being far more dire.  And even as the team acquires a new captain empowered to propel them to victory, member begin falling by the wayside, only to be replaced with members of a traveling circus.  Still, Brentford United must win, because the alternative is the end of the world.

Knees Up, Mother Earth came to my home by accident almost two years ago.  And once I realized what I’d bought, Borders refused returns on anything because they were closing all their brick & motor stores.  So I shoved it into a pile of ‘not dealing with this now’ books and magazines that monopolize the little bookshelf in our bedroom.  And there it sat, gathering dust while I worked through other books in my list.  Finally this January, I picked it up for my (failed) attempt at the Fifty/Fifty/Me challenge (I still haven’t watched another movie since V for Vendetta).  Oh, and yes, I’ve sat on writing this review for nearly two months now.

So let me first say that my initial reaction to this book was just above ‘negative’.  I’d perhaps heard Rankin’s name somewhere on a random webpage or in conversation somewhere, but it had meant nothing.  And the cover art, as you can see (although my copy has a different cover), didn’t give a real sense of its fantasy genre.  Indeed,  neither the blurb on the back nor the Wikipedia  description of the storyline nor even most of the characters recommended this book to me.  It was about sports (rugby no less, which I only know a pittance about) and hanging out in taverns, boozing…  Heck, the heroes are the town drunks!

I had trouble putting the book down.  I think I could have married Old Pete, wonderful curmudgeon that he was.

Oh, there were lulls,  and it wasn’t really a matter of the super suspenseful  story arc that held me….  Knees Up made me laugh.  I’m sure I missed over a hundred of the little side jokes Rankin included simply because I wasn’t familiar with his “world”, but that didn’t matter.  It is hilarious.  The writing was wonderful too.  Through Rankin’s writing, each character, each place in the story came alive and breathed with believability.  The details not only popped, but were beautifully written (Rankin KNOWS his stuff with words).  As frustrated as the characters made me with their total …humanity!  I couldn’t “hate them”; in fact, I began rooting for them right from the beginning.  I even cried a bit when The Campbell died (though he wanted to, so I must respect that).

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse

I would happily read another book by Robert Rankin–particularly  when it’s noted that most do not consider Knees Up, Mother Earth to be one of his best works.  Perhaps next time, I’ll pick up a copy of  The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.  Seems fitting for just after Easter.

And just as a side note: Rankin based his book (and according to the Wiki most of his others) in  Brentford, UK (and on their very real football team, the Brentford F.C.)  Looking over online details make Brentford out as a very interesting place too, though nowhere as intimate as Rankin makes it in his book.  I do get the phenomena from my brief time in the UK.  There is a very different feel to towns in the UK to town in the US., and I don’t mean this in criticism to either place.  But I remember sensing much more intimacy and awareness of community in most places in the UK, even larger “towns” which could be easily compared to small cities in the U.S..  (my closest example would be obviously Solihul since that’s where we stayed during our time in England.  Located just south eat of Birmingham, Solihul would easily be comparable to a small city size and population-wise here, but it felt more like a hamlet than anything more.)

Oh, and one other last note…  I have to add a “Thank you” here to Mr. Rankin, for had I not read his book and inspired to look up what inspired him, I would never have found out about the Syon Abbey Monastery.  Now little more than a ruin that is being slowly excavated, it was once the largest monastery in England.  I eventually must return to England just so I can visit Brentford.   I love this sort of thing.

And yes, I would recommend this book to a friend.


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

Scarlet Sunset

Above Monument Basin

Summer's Light

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obligatory “What I Allow”

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