A Charmed Life


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rage, rage against the dying of the light

believeThroughout this past year I have had the unpleasant experience of being trolled on Twitter. The first time it happened I went all Norma Rae telling all and sundry I was not going to stand for it: I complained to Twitter about the vicious and inappropriate nature of the comment and then I committed the cardinal sin – I replied back. I let the troll know in a few choice words that they had no business talking to me so rudely and that I was someone to be reckoned with and they would be sorry. I meant every word. More! Fool! Me! Alas, what ensued was a back and forth which only succeeded in fuelling the troll and upsetting me further (with Twitter doing bugger all). What did I do! What else could I do! I stopped engaging and blocked the troll (needless to say this was not my Lifetime movie moment). 

Here’s the thing though, trolls are like pimples on a 14 year old’s face. You can witch hazel them out but the fuckers just keep coming back – different troll, same degree of meanness. Still I learnt to not feed the beast and jog on, it helped that I have strong conviction about who I am and what I believe in. I have always believed power comes from speaking the clearest truth and I am happy to speak up for what I believe in, as Martin Luther King Jr said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So at times when I have felt blue about the sheer awfulness we human beings are capable of I kept my eyes on the prize and focused on that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Well as we all know the prize was not won and that light has somewhat dimmed, in actual fact in the last few weeks I haven’t been able to see it at all. For a Sagittarian that is a hard place to be, I am by nature a glass half full person but I was shocked into silence. I remain in shock. It is impossible for me to fathom that after Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, F.D.R., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Obama now comes this orange anus – I can’t even bring myself to say it’s name. I won’t. This was not just an election to me. I am not American, most of what will come into policy and be administered will not affect me. What frightens me the most is that we have witnessed the debasing of our values, ideals and dare I say of our very souls, hate has been given hope – the trolls are winning. This is a dangerous precedent to set for all of mankind.

Still what is done can’t be undone (or can it? Recount? Mental assessment on ability to govern? Jailable scandal?)
And even though we – the sane majority – lost this one, what I have seen in these last few weeks is that we are stronger together.
And together we have much work to do.
Now is the time we roll up our sleeves and dig even deeper to constantly lean towards positive change.
For that is the way of a warrior.
We never give up.
To quote Dylan Thomas we do not go gentle into that good night.

For one day our time will come.
I still believe this.
One day.

Sat Nam

And… Bookended by the death of my beloved David Bowie and the election of the most awful example of a human as leader of the free world – 2016 the year of loss I only have one thing to say – fuck you 2016!

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hot tramp, i love you so!

bowie

David Bowie!
Now there’s an idea.
I have always believed the gods must have been on some serious peyote the day they created him.

So he’s gone then, my Starman is no longer of this Earth. The man I thought would live forever went and died.

And now here I am about to attempt to express how special this man is to me… where does one even begin, so fucken hard if it’s not the tears getting in the way, it’s the doubt as to whether I have it in me to do him justice. In therapy I am continually told to write my feelings down, but to write this hurts, hurts real bad. Too raw I suppose, still I will endeavour with my tribute of sorts to a man who blew me away time and time again. A man who still feels very present in my life; why just on Saturday I was engaged in a discussion about the meaning of After All, this coming after Friday on which as a fan I celebrated another year of him along with downloading the new album. Blackstar was all I played all weekend so I woke on Monday in such a lovely Bowie state of mind and then came the news.

Since then, every morning just before I wake fully I have this moment where I am smiling thinking all’s right with the world then I remember and I ask ‘Is it real?’ It is real isn’t it. He is really gone. A world without David Bowie. We live in that world now. I keep being asked how I feel, how does one feel when a great love dies – sad, in shock, heartbroken, rocked to my core – there are three thoughts that keep circling around in my head in amongst the grief: ‘People die, get over it’ and I know this, it is not my first loss but I suspect I will never fully recover from this one. There is only one other out there in the ether who could make me feel like this and she would not be where she is today if there hadn’t been a David Bowie. I have heard people talk about where they were when Lennon was shot, the grief they felt when Elvis died – I finally understand it; that sharp piercing pain in the heart, the dry retches, the shock I have experienced it all in the last few days.

‘But you didn’t even know him,’ oh but I did, I so did. David Bowie came into my life during the Nile Rogers years, when I was still at an age where the only concerts I was interested in were of the puppet variety like the Sesame Street musical. Regardless when his Serious Moonlight tour came to New Zealand he was everywhere which in the era sans social media meant the newspapers, television and the radio. I would go from watching Rainbow one minute to dancing to Modern Love the next. I was discovering music and I loved to dance so the album Let’s Dance fed my impressionable soul BUT the moment I fell for him was when I saw Labyrinth. This film – I saw it recently after many many years – that moment when he makes his entrance gave me the same tingling feeling I got when I first saw it only back then I didn’t know it was him, in fact it has often been the way that I would discover someone and they would turn out to be David Bowie. It happened with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, the Pierrot phase. As Jareth the goblin king with his mullet, in the makeup and codpiece, he terrified me and something else which I now know as being aroused. Yeap I was aroused by David Bowie and he would continue to do so over the years. The movie lent itself to the romance, because I identified with Sarah for I too lived in a fantasy world.

From then on David as Jareth would come visit me, we would lie in my bed discussing Delfinia the world I had created as well as my real life woes. My teen years were a confusing time for me (I know I know like every other teen right!) I was both popular and smart enough but deep down I felt like an outsider. Having this wild imagination didn’t help because at that age all you want is to be like everyone else. The only time I felt a freedom was during those conversations with David/Jareth. He did talk back bizarrely enough. He helped me name unicorns (Delfinia had a lot of unicorns), he named a flying pirate ship Mistral and he always encouraged my uniqueness. Those visits ended some time in the last few years of college but he came back one more time when I was 23, this time as Ziggy (by then I was more familiar with his body of work) – it was the night before I left New Zealand for good I was on an adrenaline rush happy to be leaving, but in an instant the enormity of leaving behind family and friends especially my grandma hit me and then just as sadness threatened to take over, there he was at my window waving me goodbye. I took it to mean I was on the right track and the sadness abated.

I have come to know his body of work intimately, I have theorised the different stages of his work, but never been able to decide if he was riding the zeitgeist over the years or if he was helping to create it over and over again. I have been to countless Bowie themed nights (I predict that there will more to come in the next few months) and he is always my specialised subject when I play Mastermind. I have admired David and Iman’s love story; it is very clear that each was the other’s great love and best friend. I still find myself attracted to him, he only got better with age and given half the chance I would so have gone there. I have even dated men because they had some semblance of him, but his attraction for me was not just aesthetic, his energy and intelligence were a complete turn on. To have translated the cacophony that was in his head so masterfully into the different personas, the music, videos and films he created is no small feat. What genius existed within him to do this. He is was such a man. I was happy to be lead by him. He always upped my game. A few years ago the Guardian published a top 100 reading list as recommended by him. I had only read eight books of said list and as a voracious reader I decided I was going to complete that list, I am still working my way through it. On last count I was at 16, only 84 to go, with titles like ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious’ and ‘Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir’ they aren’t exactly easy reading. So you see David Bowie has a role in the story of my life.

I watched the video for Lazarus last week and it left me feeling cold. Later after I had listened to the song a few times and considered the lyrics (as is always the case with his music, I always search for the meaning) that coldness gave way to what in hindsight I see as foreboding: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now…’ David Bowie was saying goodbye. And in the most classiest way, through his work. Reminds me of the last two songs Queen released with Freddie. I love the idea of Freddie and David together again along with Lou, and Lennon and Jimi, oh yes the party just got better in heaven.

I always thought I would see him perform live, I always felt it was a matter of when not if and the dreamer in me believes in a parallel universe I will. If he ever graced me with another visit I would say to him ‘Thank you for being exactly you. You gave a girl who felt like an oddity permission to be exactly who she is and the confidence to make her own rules. You and you alone made her dare to be brave. You darling man, you remain forever my goblin king, my starman and my moonage daydream. Thank you. Thank You. Thank You.’

Generations from now will discover him; they will listen to the music, see the different incarnations, go to museum exhibits dedicated to him, watch the films and the television appearances but they will never capture the essence of him. I have tried to explain my feelings for him to people who don’t him well – yes these people actually exist – but the fact of the matter is if you don’t already feel it you will never understand. The era of David Bowie, they were the golden years – a one off experience, never can be repeated. I heard the term Generation Bowie today – that’s you and I – the lucky ones. Are you going to be okay? He may have transitioned taking a big piece of my heart with him but the point is he existed in the first place and there is something joyful in the knowledge of this. The sun will keep on rising and I will continue to be exactly me so yes I am going to be just fine… eventually. For now though I need to cry.

Sat Nam


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curiouser and curiouser

curiousandcuriouser.jpg

It is with great anticipation I write this next line. The sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird is coming out this summer. Fifty five years after the first book – imagine that! Many reasons to gush about this, firstly for a book geek like moi this is the best kind of news. Secondly it is serendipity that this manuscript (Go Set a Watchman) was even found as it was thought long lost by its author. And lastly I do not come from the ‘let well enough alone’ school of thought, out of all the characters I have gotten to know from the books I have read – what Scout did next is often something I pondered over and now come July I actually get to find out.

This week’s post is about books so Harper Lee has provided a most appropriate segue way.

Via this blog I get all kinds of requests. Requests to take part in surveys; to attend events like a tantric sexuality workshop (which I was unable to attend) or wine tasting (which I did attend); to trial products, skin whitening pills anyone? And occasionally I get a request for my guidance which is why I am writing today. Recently I was contacted by an expectant mother for my advice on how to build a library for her baby. This is the best kind of request for me, anything to do with books and I’m there. And no she didn’t actually mean a hammer and nails type of build (I did check just to make sure).

 “The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library.” Maya Angelou

It is not as easy as it seems, think about it – there are a plethora of books out there in any genre and the only direction I had was that the mum-to-be wanted to make sure her child read all the classics. I’ve taken my time compiling this list, even then I know there are plenty more gems out there I’ve forgotten or not had the good fortune to read; but in any case I see this list as a start, for the best part of growing up is discovering and a library, school or a book store are the perfect settings to be curiouser and curiouser.

So here’s the list(for under tens specifically but also for the inner child that lives in you): Barbar MEG AND MOG Alice Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass THE GRUFFALO Matilda PUSS IN BOOTS The Little Prince HARRY POTTER Charlotte’s Webb THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS Winnie the Pooh CURIOUS GEORGE WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE The Tiger who came to tea THE SECRET GARDEN Are you my mother? A BEAR CALLED PADDINGTON The little Engine that could FANTASTIC MR FOX Famous Five THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLER Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go THE VELVETEEN RABBIT Asterix MILLY MOLLY MANDY Guess How Much I Love You RAMONA THE BRAVE Chronicles of Narnia THE SILVER SWORD Five Children and It BLACK BEAUTY Secret Seven TREASURE ISLAND The Swiss Family Robinson MARY POPPINS The Wizard of Oz HEIDI The Jungle Book POLLYANNA Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales WHAT KATY DID Just So Stories PETER PAN The Prince and The Pauper Grimm’s Fairytales TINTIN The Story of Doctor Doolittle Pippi Longstocking BALLET SHOES The Borrowers WATERSHIP DOWN The English Roses THE BERENSTEIN BEARS The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear THE RAILWAY CHILDREN

And my absolute favourites:
oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss First of all anything by Dr. Seuss is golden, I love the playful and lyrical way his books are written, they leave me filled with wonderment and a smiling face.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

This book was published 1990 so it wasn’t a childhood book for me, instead I was gifted it when I first moved to London but I find myself referring to it every now and then when I’m feeling blue and in need of a smile.

“I’m afraid that some times, You’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win, ‘cause you’ll play against you.”

It is a book for children and yet is filled with an insight that is completely relevant for grown ups we become. By the by it makes for a great graduation or leaving present.

 ♠

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton The books of Enid Blyton (and Roald Dahl) spoke to the dreamer in me then and they still speak to the dreamer in me now. Some of their books might not be considered pc¹ anymore but I find a flaw in that line of thinking. Words only become good or bad by people making them so. These books fueled my imagination that’s it plain and simple.

“I don’t believe in things like that – fairies or brownies or magic or anything. It’s old-fashioned.’
‘Well, we must be jolly old-fashioned then,’ said Bessie. ‘Because we not only believe in the Faraway Tree and love our funny friends there, but we go to see them too – and we visit the lands at the top of the Tree as well!”

Even as recently as two weeks ago I was talking about this book with a dear friend, we shared our love for Fanny, Dick, Bessie & Jo, Moon-face, Silky, Saucepan Man, Dame Wash-a-lot and the Angry Pixie and we talked of our favourite lands (she was curious about Topsy Turvy, I quite fancied Do-As-You-Please). She related how it was her wish that her daughter read it some day. That to me makes a classic, something that holds fond memories, something you want to share with others.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery After Jane Eyre this book and the series that follow are my absolute favourite books. I have been asked why on many occasions and my answer is the same every time, ‘because they are delicious.’

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?” 

My attraction to books comes from a love of words (I’m the type of girl who has favourite words but that is a whole other post) so the way L.M. Montgomery weaves a sentence is sheer magic for me, I truly believe when people talk about richness in language they must be referring to her work.

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”

Anne and I have friends since I was ten years old… that’s over thir well it’s been a very long time and as such it is not easy to describe my love for Anne so I will simply say Anne and I are kindred spirits and these books are filled with delicious sentences that make you fall in love with the English language.

And so ends what has been a labour of love for me but this is by no means a definitive list and I’m sure you readers will have your favourites (please continue the discussion in comments).

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” Dr Seuss

Sat Nam

 ¹ politically correct