the empty page

my online page has been empty for quite some time.  life has a tendency of getting in the way most days.  the excuse train has obviously made several stops between my last post and now.

listening to sonic youth today, i was reminded that my blog is not going to write itself.  a few years ago, probably closer to five years now, i read a short story book where sonic youth fans used titles of their favourite songs to inspire fiction.  while i am in no way musically gifted, or even remotely able, i enjoyed the idea that creativity can come in such a way.

with that i am hoping i can use my current enthusiasm to draft stories from those artists that have inspired me throughout my life.  i have an approaching three week break and i’m hoping to use that stolen time to read and write and think.

some titles i’m working with in my brain include:

  • sonic youth – swimsuit issue
  • pearl jam – red mosquito
  • alice in chains – brother
  • stone temple pilots – lounge fly
  • 54-40 – friend’s end
  • moist – believe me
  • the tragically hip – inevitability of death
  • bjork – army of me
  • radiohead – sulk
  • live – white, discussion
  • smashing pumpkins – disarm

two or three of them stand out more in my mind and i hope to get them up on here asap.  i think i’d better get back to my eight saved drafts to see if any of them are worth finishing today.

 

 

 

 

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can’t we all just get along?

i read.  a lot.  i wish it involved more novels but during term time it is nearly impossible unless it is pressing because i have to teach it.  as a result, i flip through twitter and facebook getting bits of news and deciding which bit to pursue and which bits to let alone.  i suppose this is a good thing because we are able to sift through incredible amounts of material in this day and age.  though it is uncomfortable at times to be inundated with so much information.

something that has bothered me a great deal lately is all of the hate out there.  i have thought for a long time that extremism is something that can never been good, no  matter which side one is coming from.  i suppose there is an element of hypocrisy in saying that all extremism is negative because, in effect, i am an extremist against extremism.  anyway…

all sorts of issues and platforms arrive on the screen of my phone, telling me how to think and feel.  more specifically, i follow ms. magazine and everyday feminism on facebook and they are always providing methods of thinking about various issues involving sex, race, money and anything else controversial which can be thought of.  i consider myself a feminist but not at the expense of men.  we all have things to overcome in our lives no matter which gender we identify with.

much of what i read involves shaming and putting down one group or another.  there are a few that bother me in particular:  the negative portrayal of muslims, the continent of africa, women and refugees.  we are all a product of our experience and i am married to a muslim, living in nigeria, i am a woman and my parents were immigrants.  i just wish people could be more inclusive, kinder, more open-minded and accepting.

i find a lot of the advice confusing as a white woman.  i am told in print that i am privileged and thus have no right to think or say a number of things.  this assumption of privilege, while partially correct, does not take into account my own personal experience of struggling through a number of circumstances in my life.  i am told i cannot cite marrying outside of my race when talking about racism, in fact according to some circles, i’m not allowed to talk about racism.  it is considered racist of me to comment, based on my race.  yet, i believe open dialogue is the way forward.  if people can be open and honest with each other, i am sure there is room to learn.

in uni there was a trans-gendered woman, i think i am correct here in the terminology that said individual was born a man.  guelph was a really liberal and accepting institution and i thought nothing of hearing about this kind of scenario.  where i parted company with this person was when they wanted to work on a rape crisis line as one of the counsellors.  i was concerned that women who were the victims of rape would not want to discuss the matter with someone born a man.  maybe that makes me insensitive to the goodwill of this individual.  one of these articles would say i am using my heterosexual human privilege to look at the situation.

i guess the world is becoming increasingly complicated and extremely politically correct at the same time.  i just wish people would be nicer and avoid judgement of other alleged or labelled groups.  to quote martin luther king, even though i’m not allowed to, i think people should be ‘judged based upon the content of their character’ and not any other reason.

rude people can be of any gender, nationality or race, as can nice people.  my hope is that i will teach my children to accept everyone and be civil even to those they don’t like.

i often wonder if others out there feel the same way.

 

a more balanced kenning

i removed the previous poem from here which was cowardly.  i read somewhere that one must write what frightens them.

revised version:

sympathetic people

hidden agendas

delicious j-rice

unnecessary formality

warming sun

black magic

roasted fish

self righteousness

happy humans

red tape

prosecco galore

payment surprises

luxurious hotels

regular disappointment

tropical beauty

impossible people

mangoes aplenty

difficult behaviour

colourfully gorgeous

not belonging

bustling markets

mind changers

no wahala

last minute

miraculous happenings

whipped up

stoic approaches

dangerous police

great opportunity

socialist corruption

helpful strangers

pirated everything

supportive nature

ego massaging

stunning artwork

impossible situations

apologetic technique

snit inducing

highly resourceful

major inconvenience

flight pattern

beep beep beep.  the obnoxious noise accompanied by red lights flashing.  the boarding pass scanner was going mental.

‘just hang on a sec.’  the air france employee said.

‘okay.’ i replied absent mindedly.

‘they’ve changed your seat.  i’ve printed you a new boarding pass.’ he concluded.

‘okay, thanks.’ automated response.

looking down at the new permit handed to me, i was thrust out of zombie mode and  delighted to find that i had been bumped to business class.  i had no idea how it was possible and kept quiet as i felt it had to be some mistake.

i walked with purpose down what seemed like an endless ramp, only to arrive at the bus marked port harcourt.  i felt the cool air, cooler than the true air temperature after having gone through that sickening wave of heat near the automatic doors.  my head felt clear, i breathed in fresh air until it was disrupted by the smell of fuel and exhaust fumes.

on the bus, we crammed in.  having made a number of last minute purchases, i felt like an octopus: superfluous arms grasping at a ridiculous number of items.  it seemed particularly extravagant in light of thought of the man i bought a copy of the big issue from the other day.  he didn’t have a home to go to and here i was with two bottles of veuve clicquot, a new longchamp bag, various clothing items and unnecessary trinkets purchased from some junk store or another.

beyond what would be legal fire capacity, and it felt as tightly packed as it sounds, the bus began its lengthy journey to the tarmac.

i still didn’t think it would be possible at this point that i would be sat in 6A for the six hour flight.  i climbed the stairs to the massive plane.  displaying my pass, the attendant smiled widely and informed me my seat would be to the right.

another attendant asked immediately if i had a coat which needed hanging.  i looked down at my jumper.  i did not need help with a coat.  i thought about how the french staff had an excellent hold of the english language.  my french was horrendous since i dropped the subject after year 9, despite doing very well.  a stupid move in retrospect.

i considered the state i was in.  comfortable clothing, trousers with a wacky pattern, tattered old hoodie, a scarf which would have been better suited to nicer threads.

i looked at my surroundings, a wide window seat,  not quite one of those tricked out cubicles, but the most luxurious seat i have ever had the pleasure of sitting in during a flight.  big tv screen, 10cm of space on either side of my own proportions and no concern about bothering the person in 7A if i moved the seat back.  i stored my gear and settled into my anticipated indulgence.

i expected someone to come along and take the aisle seat next to me and began reading my book.

‘champagne or juice?’

‘champagne, s’il vous plait.’

yet another attendant smiled as she extended the tray for me to choose my drink.  real glass, a large serving.  i tried not to show how elated i was about this experience as i took my first sip of bliss.

i continued to read and sip as we waited on the tarmac for take-off.  there were the usual intermittent ignored announcements.

my brain chimed in when it said, it being the captain: ‘we are late taking off because of the sheer amount of luggage being loaded but we should be on the move in the next couple of minutes.’  nigerians were notorious for carrying extra bags.

i smiled and sunk deeper into my chair, realising that i would not be bothered by a single serving friend when i was in no emotional position to be social with a stranger.  i needed to be in my own zone.

a five course meal was brought to me on my miniature table cloth.  it began with an amuse bouche like in fancy restaurants.  there was all of the champagne i could drink.  i tried to match it water for alcohol, remembering that a drink in the air is like three on the ground.

i laughed to myself about how ludicrous an onlooker might feel about my clothing, proper meal and access to the film, straight outta compton.  no one noticed.  the other passengers in my vicinity were sleeping or ensconced in their own film watching.

it was as if i was in a dream.

elbowed in the ribs by my less than courteous neighbour, i was rudely awakened to the reality of my filling seat 35A.  sardine class.  some mistake, indeed.

the victim

whoa.  it has been so long since i have been on here.  this first comeback entry is an igcse composition answer.  my students wrote descriptive compositions today and i modelled the behaviour by writing along with them.

here goes:

her hair was matted with blood, stuck to her forehead connecting the red mess to the gash across the bridge of her nose and left eyebrow.  it was as deep as a cut could be sliced so closely to the human skull.  it would need stitches, though if that point would ever be reached, there was no way of knowing.

her largest organ had been penetrated more times than she could face or comprehend.  the organs contained within the skin suffered a great deal of damage as well.  liquids spilled out from all parts like a morbid fountain.

the stab wounds varied in depth.  she thought of how the coroner would check to see which one was the fatal blow.

her laboured breathing indicated her lungs had been hit.  her slow, weak pulse meant signs of shock.  adrenalin was her only hope.

and the questions:  ‘what did i do to deserve this?’; ‘why would she hurt me?’; ‘what have i done?’

turning her head brought about excruciating pain.  her body was an undesirable butchered pretzel.  looking for her mobile, she had the clarity of mind to remember she had placed it in her pocket.  the rounded rectangular edges were digging into her thigh.

one of her arms, the dominant one, was so badly mangled that there was no chance it could assist her in this gruelling task.  the dependable arm was the opposite one to the pocket in question.  it seemed like hours but she was able to grasp the phone and press the emergency call button.  reading the error message was like being faced with the attack all over again.

the smell of iron or some other metallic scent pervaded her nostrils.  she could feel every single hair inside her nose as if they were independently grasping for the air her lungs craved.

surprised, she felt a jolt as her fiendish friend re-entered the room.

the gun pointed at her head, she had no time to… bang.

 

 

missing in action

very short post.  it has been ages and i have had plenty of time to decide that the focus for this blog will be fiction and not personal response style writing.  there are a number of reasons for this i am yet to reveal; or am i?

clever title

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i was going to call this piece ‘podcastaway’ but luckily i googled the brilliant idea to see if i was the originator.  sadly, i was not.  there is a podcast by that very name, which i have just now decided to check out.  i then rifled through the letter c in the dictionary to see if there was something else good with the word ‘cast’ within it and i felt weird about how the best one i could come up with was ‘podcaster sugar’.  lame, i know.  i am too embarrassed to google that one, though i guess not mortified enough to leave that silly bit of information out.  i am a snake on the pavement.

anyway, the reason i decided to put letters/words to screen today was to pay homage to the magical brain nugget treats that have entered my airspace in the recent months.  there are so many cool [my students would say ‘fresh’ but i’m from the 90s] folk out there sharing their experience, insight and questions with the world via the interwebs.  to be honest, i am amazed at what these humans have put together for my interest and that of others.

it started with serial when a pal of mine knew i loved to learn about true crime. aside: in uni a pal referred to me as a ‘crime queen’ on occasion.  after just one episode, i was hooked.  i took no convincing to get in on this podcasty world.  my dad has been into this kind of thing.  he is legally blind and has spent a large portion of his recent time enjoying listening to books on tape, or rather books on digital recordings.   he boasts of listening while he performs other tasks and the speed at which he can complete an entire novel.

i found an article on mental_floss, after finishing the adnan syed/hae min lee series, about how to fill your void once serial was over.  that led me to criminal, welcome to night vale and death, sex & money.  i have gobbled up numerous episodes from those series and will continue to check back for more delicious mind feastings, indefinitely.

criminal brought with it an excellent story or two to share with the kids i teach – others, not so appropriate.  it has been like having a guest speaker relay information for variety.  forming opinions, discussion and debate have all been natural consequences of sharing the ideas.  including the question of whether not non-human animals should be held accountable for their actions legally.  the artwork consists of really impressive inky looking pieces, a new one for each episode.  i look forward to the drawings as much as the episodes.  i think what i really enjoy about criminal is that it tackles issues relating to criminality that are not the obvious murder related cases.  try it out.

welcome to night vale has been a delightful listen.  i love to be presented with unusual scenarios to ruminate over.  i have recommended this one to pupils, though i think it might be a bit too abstract for younger teens to absorb.  have a listen.  you decide.

death, sex & money has proven worth my time and my brainwaves.  i particularly enjoyed the chat about hedwig and its author, especially after having seen the musical performed at the edinburgh festival a couple of years ago.  the alternate view of cheating in a relationship was eye opening.  oh, and the chat about siblings hit home with me in a way i thought wasn’t possible.  check it out.

searching key words on podbay.fm, i came across true murder, a podcast about disturbing cases that is told in a way different to the crime shows i find myself watching on television.  dan zupansky reads true crime books and interviews authors of those books.  he is meticulous in his reading of the books, something that is evident in the questions he poses to his guests.  many of the authors comment on his attention to detail.  i have learned a great deal of curious information about cases i thought i knew inside and out; i have also learned about scores of cases i had no idea about.  i wrote to dan to thank him for the work he does and it immediately became clear that he is receptive to carrying on discussions with listeners about cases they enjoyed learning about or were disturbed by.  i have not shared this one with my students, for obvious reasons.  don’t worry about listening to these episodes in order, but do listen.

most recently, i have become ensconced in devouring episodes of here be monsters.  i have no idea how i found this one, which is fitting considering the topics addressed.  this is a podcast about fear and the unknown.  it is run by creator jeff emtman and story editor bethany jo denton.  i have shared some of the ideas found in here by my students.  i played the episode about monsters drawn on early maps to a geography class and had them draw monsters as they listened, those are the images you can find attached to this post.  i wrote to jeff and he was prompt to respond.  it is great to get in touch with people you consider to be like minded; those open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.  it has transported me back to the university philosophy class days and has even contained an episode about time travel.  amazing.  a must on the podcast list for humans that want to contemplate strangeness and theorise about explanations for the unexplainable.

we truly living in an amazing age.  i love that technology has meant that we are now able to give props or ask questions or engage in discussion with people that are creating thought-provoking dialogue.  it is the same technology that has made me more interested in the talk radio approach for the first time, really.  in the past i was always stirred more by the music than the chat.  now i find myself learning all the time; filling my brain while performing necessary tasks like washing dishes and getting ready for work in the mornings.

life long learners unite.  please keep using your brains in a time when it is so easy to turn your mind off.  it is worth it, i promise.

hey. why didn’t i look up words containing pod?