Friday, April 13, 2018


I have been accused of having a rather over-active imagination - together with being labelled an inveterate 'liar' when my stories, seemingly through their own volition take on a flavour and life of their own. The reality of course is somewhere in between. My Celtic origins do not allow for the dry rendition of facts when the story begs for colour and embellishment and the unfolding of realities and thought that doesn't necessarily always reflect the exactness of certitude.

Storytelling runs hot through my body and heart and is as necessary to me as air is to breathe.  My mind constantly seethes with random thoughts and patterns and imaginative forays into dream worlds rife with colour and movement and promise.

My entire life I have created imaginative scenarios to which reality has no recourse; preferred dreams of events and possible lives often with little connection to my own often dull and often sad concreteness of my aware life.  These often fanciful but immensely satisfactory stories have often provided me with an almost meditative source of peace in a stressful world, a momentary release of grief or an escape from my own depressive mood.

For some time now - years even - I have become increasingly unable to walk the highways and byways of my lurid imagination, and from the grayness of the reality of now wander instead aimlessly along pathways shrouded in fog and the darkling smothering dusk of despair. 

I feel the loss achingly....

Lately, I have sought in vain for the rich, vivid colours of possible, and instead, found myself stymied by the paths ahead which promise nothing but the confusing, roiling clouds of fog. Fog; toxic; particulates poisonous and sour, coating my pale skin, stinging the green out of my eyes and coating my once vibrant hair and dulling it, sweating out the curl and leaving it dank and odourous on shoulders bowed by the loss of dreams.

I no longer seem to have the succor of imagination and instead, seem to dwell, forever and always, in the dull, flavourless reality of existence without dreams.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Recollections and memories

I was recently introduced by my buddy JZ (who is herself a wonderful read!)  to a blogger called Arti Jain - what a brilliant writer! Her words are to be savoured, run over your tongue, held gently at the back of your throat,  allowing flavours to subtly mix and the scent and taste to roll over  your taste buds like a fine, red wine.

I read one just now about 'head-washing' day in India and here, as I sit gazing at the goldfinches fluttering around the feeder, while the cool Spring air, still with a bite of winter slips in through the French door, cracked to let in the taste and scent of awakening earth, I felt myself in India with dusty-soled children running and playing,sweeping around neighbourhoods and in and out, ebony, oiled hair gleaming and bouncing on narrow shoulders.

It reminded me of how much we,as humans, have in common, despite environment, regardless of culture, background or the other factors we place so much emphasis on to determine who we are.  At the same time, I was poignantly aware that the world is mutating and changing and even those small moments of understanding - that frisson of recollection of a common experience - are disappearing in a morass of catastrophic change.

But Arti's wonderful memories of hairwashing day resonated - both in memories of my mother's recollections and my own.

For my mother, growing up in misty Ireland, rainwater was collected each week (an easy task in that green isle)- then Saturdays the big iron pot was heated on the old Aga and using homemade soap, infused with lavender and drops of oil, the thick lustrous waves of my mother's head and her sisters and brothers were all washed, rinsed clean with rainwater to shine and dry in the changeable skies of Ireland, reflecting not the thick oily black of India but palest blond, rich, wine coloured red, darkest mahogany ..

But she and her siblings, as I did with mine and the many neighbourhood children, ran wild through  the streets and byways of their community, stopping into whatever home was handy for sustenance and a quick admonishment to get out and run once fed.

My own children also had their neighbourhood gang, with a few more strictures, a more careful eye, stricter limits on distance and checking in.  It is not, I have always asserted, that the world got crueler, but rather, the awareness of the innate cruelty was dragged into the light of day...

Even when my children were young, that careless, wonderful independence they experienced was almost unique among my friends, who through fear and an excess of care, kept their children close. 

And as children are cossetted and worried over, controlled and bound about my strictures and loving bonds, I find it achingly sad that so many children will never experience the heady joy of simply running wild...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Down the rabbit hole

Sometimes looking into mirror (which I actually try to avoid) I'm astonished at who looks back.  I remember when mirrors were merely surfaces which allowed me to assess the makeup job, the clothing, the hair... then they became enemies, to be loathed and ignored and avoided, dodging even reflections in plate glass windows, feeling physically ill at the images which looked back.  Now, they are simply avoided when possible, not out of loathing or any such active emotion, but more a lethargy and complete disinterest in the reflection of self.

I've never had a great deal of conceit about my appearance.  Certain aspects of myself engendered some satisfaction during certain periods of my life.  My hair has always been a point of pride, reddish-brown, thick, lustrous curls and waves and the ability (which is genetic)- of growing long and lush.  My legs (when thin), long, shapely and firm -not skinny- never skinny but athletic and strong.  I've always had small breasts, something lamented when young then rejoiced in as I aged (such a PAIN breasts are!  Always in the way, ruining the lines of shirts).  My butt at one point was decent - not the 'bubble' butts so admired today but firm and shapely from miles and hours and days and weeks of cycling.

I've never been a girly girl- not ever - (albeit, which makes me grin, many moons ago, when working as a journalist for a provincial paper - ergo I didn't ever see my editors/paper staff face to face but phoned in stories)- another journalist friend was asked "what's she look like" - the response being "I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers"!) -never having the patience - or the interest - in fuss and muss of hair and makeup and clothes.

I loved sexy clothes though - and when in the right head space could garner my share of attention - when confidence and happiness were my lot and being the 'smart' versus the 'pretty' one growing up wasn't an issue.

I think back to asking my father - "da, am I pretty?" and he hesitating, searching for words (already causing my heart and mind to clench and shrivel)- and his response "in another era, you would be a beauty" - what a shitty thing to say to your pubescent daughter....

I DO have a face and even figure from another time  but had I the confidence, the belief in self, the certainty in self, then I think being NOT pretty but confident would have sufficed.  I look back over my life and I remember women of my acquaintance who were neither pretty nor striking and had neither lissome bodies nor sexy chests yet radiated confidence and a self-awareness that attracted people to them like flies to honey.

Several in particular came to mind - my friend Caroline who I once wrote about here.  In an era when being heavy was almost unheard of, when children were wiry and strong and skinny and girls as they grew remained slender as reeds, she was an anomaly.  At 14 she had breasts and hips and burgeoning flesh with heavy arms and solid legs and a round belly. So too had she a blooming English complexion, pale with a gentle blush to cheeks and clear eyes and soft hair as glowing and rich as mink.  I watched, astonished, as men flocked to her overt and lush femininity and a crook of a finger brought them panting to her feet.

I knew another girl, Eden, as tiny and child-like as my Caroline was lush, with a sunken chest and spindly limbs, and soft, dark gold hair around a pug-nosed face.  Delightfully promiscuous, she never lacked for partners and it was she who chose and picked and decided whether to repeat - never the man.

So logically I understood growing up that neither looks nor figure were truly the factors that attracted partners to you but that often indefinable sense of self, of confidence and belief in your own worth that made you someone who could choose and attract and be that individual.

And I actually believe that... that it IS what you carry inside, the solidness of your own belief in self that makes you attractive, but still.... I avoid mirrors and walk quickly by reflections which mirror back what I am not....