The time to write
A poem down for you
So for now
It’s just a note
And that will have to do
The time to write
A poem down for you
So for now
It’s just a note
And that will have to do
I was thinking of writing a letter to the fifteen year old me but I realised that I would not have read it. I thought I was so cool, so knowing but in reality I was too gauche and dull to be open to the wonder of life.
I could write a letter to future me when I have lost my mental capacity to make decisions. However what would be the point of telling future senile me that the life I can’t remember was great.
So I am going to write something to you. And here it is. Brace yourself.
Today I opened the curtains and saw the dawn. Even insomnia is a gift if you grab it and embrace it. Mother Nature was flaunting her beauty for the crowing cocks while most of the world was oblivious. I could have spent my hour grumpily bemoaning to my pillow that sleep is a necessity but instead I did something. I seized the day and made my lemonade and a whole host of gee life is great and amazing clichés.
Fifteen year old me was too stupid and maybe ninety year old me will be senile. However, right now I’m fifty years old and living in the moment. Why don’t you come and join me.
“Whatever makes her happy on a Saturday night” sang Suede once upon a misspent youth I squandered many years ago. However I don’t think Brett and the boys ever thought that going out on a Saturday night could be so tragic and terrible.
In London there has been yet another attack and yet more loss of life. So tonight it won’t “be okay like everyone says” it won’t “be alright and ever so nice”. It has been carnage and chaos on the streets of Britain’s capital and far away from home I worry about the people I love.
However, what happens after an event like this is what is important. If you allow hate to be planted in your heart then the war on terror has been lost. Hate and fear are what terrorists want. They seek to divide the world. At a time like this, I hope that people will look for commonality and not difference. The diverse people of Britain are united in a kingdom where we share more values than we realise. We want to live in peace and go to work and get on with the banal and humdrum daily activities of being a mum, dad, sister, brother, daughter or son. We want to build a life to share with the people we know and love.
So on this Saturday night I won’t be singing to Suede. I will return to the song, that for me is a relevant today as when it was written because “we have got to find a way to bring some understanding here today”. Forty six years later I still agree with Marvin Gaye.
War is not the answer for only love can conquer hate
The Kingdom of Wonder is how Cambodia promotes itself. My friend calls it the kingdom of blunder while I generally opt for the kingdom of wondering. One thing is certain, life isn’t predictable.
Today is certainly not going quite to plan. All that was supposed to be happening is not. That’s usually a red rag to my inner bull. Yet the china is intact in the shop. So here I am in limbo and goodness knows I’m not built for that kind of flexibility.
My flat isn’t ready just yet so I cannot move in. Until then I have to live across the hall. All my dreams of spending my Saturday making my new home look just a little bit less unloved and a bit more ‘me’ have been shelved.
So here I am in the empty old flat cleaning what I have left because I can clean what I am going to. The bathroom has a baking soda freshness it never had when I lived it and surfaces are so free of dust that I realise my flat wasn’t subtly grey and was just a bit grubby. I move in, I clean then I do the same when I move out. In between the dirt that live in is mine and I am happy in that.
So here I am limboing like I have a flexibility many would confirm I haven’t possessed when under duress in the past. Life isn’t quite going to plan. I haven’t lost my temper or shouted at anyone. In Cambodia, even I have become unpredictable
I’m feeling sad because across the world my family is in trouble. I’m not sure how other minorities feel but for me, every lesbian is my sister and every gay man, my brother. I am a part of a great big family and I hope that we have more than oppression in common.
The gay movement has always been at its finest under duress. We come together and fight for our freedoms and rights. We put aside our many differences and we are brave in the face of adversity. I am European and my expectations are high. I demand respect and expect equality. I want the freedom to live and love as I wish with minimal intervention from state, religion and judiciary. I have fought in many ways and can see the benefit of my labours. The rainbow is our symbol because because through the tears of oppression comes the sunshine of liberation.
The world is a multi faceted place. My brothers and sisters lead different lives in different parts of the world and their struggles for freedom are not yet as advanced. In places it feels like we are moving backward. Would I be brave like if I lived in Russia, Uganda or Saudi Arabia? The truth is I don’t know.
My family is having a tough time but hang in there brothers and sisters because one day the sun is going to shine and we will see that rainbow all across the world.
After months of silence I received a message from an old friend. One of those old friends I love like family. It was the unkindness that stung me. From across the ocean a tigress took my weaknesses and ripped me apart until I was just raw remains. She vacuum packed her vicious comments into one long painful diatribe.
She says I’m self centred and unreliable. I don’t give her my full attention and I’m easily distracted. She says I never listen and I don’t understand how busy her life is and how much stress she is under.
I am not very good at being a friend in the traditional sense. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and the closer you get the more noticeable it becomes. She claims to have planned Christmas around me but I didn’t go because so many other people were invited. I hate big groups, social settings and fuss. I thought she knew that. I had tried to explain to her that I just wanted to go for a walk and have a cup of tea. She was too busy preparing for Christmas and needed time and space and had warned me of that a month in advance. So we didn’t meet. I’m not sorry I didn’t come for Christmas. I am not sorry that I spent the day alone. I am sad that if Christmas was really planned around me, that she didn’t think to make it something smaller and understated.
The message was well targeted and will hurt for a long time. If we hurt the ones we love the most than our friendship will survive because I may have Aspergers but I still know love is the foundation of friendship.
Being a water buffalo must be awesome. Outside it’s 40 degrees and the sun is baking and there you are standing in a flooded field in lovely, cooling muddy water. No targets to think about, no deadlines to meet, just day after day of hot sunshine tempered by a cooling foray into the water for a sub-aqua graze.
Tilling a rice field sounds like hard work though and many buffalo in Cambodia are made to earn their keep this way. Around Battambang the fertile rice plains could keep an aspirational buffalo busy for years. If I were a buffalo I might promote the idea of Asian mozzarella. Everybody loves pizza and the Cambodian people are no exception. And being milked sounds like a better life than ploughing.
Mozzarella da Cambogia could be a winner. This agricultural country isn’t big on dairy farming and the cuisine is a dream for the lactose intolerant. However, Cambodia is changing fast who knows maybe the Cambodian water buffalo could be the vanguard of a culinary revolution.
I guess everybody has a job these days, even the water buffalo.
I try my best but some days I teach really bad lessons. Some days learning doesn’t happen in my classroom. Some days my students are restless and disengaged. The correlation between these is not as strong as you might think. Teaching, or facilitating learning, is not an exact science and a whole host of variables come into play.
I’ll take responsibility however. As an education professional it is my job to provide sequences of well planned learning experiences. I should be guiding my students on an engaging journey into learning landscapes that have been carefully architected to challenge, support and enthuse. For the most part I fulfil that obligation. Sometimes the route might be a bit duller than I had anticipated or there might be a steep climb which I hadn’t anticipated and will require additional resources. My lessons are well planned but they vary in quality, content and inspiration.
Yesterday I walked into a room. My students were fractious. Not noisy, this was fractious combined with a low battery. This lazy irritability found a focus and the class half-heartedly sabotaged my lesson. The heavy moist heat of impending rain was oppressive and if I’m honest I didn’t have the energy to attack their listlessness and create a buzzing positive learning zone. Yesterday was a perfect storm of apathy. A slightly stodgy lesson was sunk by lacklustre attitude and together we crawled our way through a humid muddy hour of disinterest. Each heavy step a concerted effort with minimal reward. The storm broke and just after class ended we were all soaked by the rain as we made our way to our respective homes.
Some days I teach really good lessons. Some days the quality of learning in my classroom is really high. Some days my students are motivated and engaged. Today is a fresh day. I will go again and stand up in front of my audience and tout my learning experience to the crowd.
I wonder what kind of some day today will be.
Awareness Day. How are people supposed to be aware there are a small minority of people with a vast, differing range of abilities. The easiest way to raise awareness is to tar up the brush and smear a large stereotype on the wall. Equally pointless would be to bathe the White House in blue light.
Acceptance is what I need. Awareness is a fine but I would rather be accepted as I am than as something to be researched . I am different. Aren’t you? Isn’t everybody? We all react differently to stimuli and we are all gorgeously unpredictable.
As for the burdens I would like to say this. I think I’m great. I’m rarely lonely on my own and I’m often lost in a crowd. There are people who would say I’m a happy, friendly soul who’s kind and thoughtful. On the other hand there are people who find me difficult, moody and self obsessed. Maybe different people pull out aspects of my personality. I don’t please anyone nor would I want to be so anodyne
I’m a traveller so my baggage is always clearly labelled, Aspergers, LGBT, and Cerebral Palsy are all there in my quirky handwriting. I use them as and when I wish. I am all of those things and many others and I combine and recombine my gifts, traits, flaws and quirks. Most often my labels are there to protect me.
If I had acceptance society wouldn’t make feel different. Awareness days make me different. When we no longer need these days and weeks and months and ribbons I’ll remove my labels because I won’t need to worry about my baggage
Funny how when I get sick I miss home more. Not that I have a home to miss. Cravings for comfort foods kick in and they seem hard to find here. Maybe the British cuisine can serve a blander dish with more ease than the Cambodians. Or maybe home is more than a place, it is a set of associations, responses and experiences that I pack in my case and unconsciously haul across continents.
I want mashed potatoes and, rather bizarrely, custard. I’m not even sure when I would have last eaten either of those. They were hardly staple foods in my low carbohydrate kitchen. In Cambodia, It will be easier to get some bananas and brown rice and I suspect all will be well. In fact, probably quite a lot better than I would have fared with custard. I’m not really sick, I just feel a bit under the weather but the heat and the solitude magnify things and I’m feeling sorry for myself.
What I really want is a friendly, familiar face to share a cup of tea with. Someone to remind thats everything’s going to be all right. Sometimes writing this blog is my daily cuppa. I share my joys and woes, my insights and my banalities with you. So I’ll say thank you to the potential millions of people that might see this and to the one or two who are actualy reading this.
I feel better already. Fancy a cup of tea?