Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shake It Out

It is very true that, if we want, and if we persist and if we choose to see the silver lining, a positive will arise from every negative situation. Last week when I was feeling down I spent the afternoon walking in the forest with dogs and mum. When I cam home I picked up my guitar and played a song I wrote. Despite the sadness that flowed through my veins I sang as best I could. I then sang it again while recording myself with my camera. Y'see, I can do things like that now because I have a smart phone! I played it back and was heartened that it didn't sound diabolical. Days went by and my mood lifted. Monday came and I was feeling like I needed to give myself a good shake, not for any other reason than we should always give ourselves a good shake once in a while. So I shook myself in to being brave enough to post my video on facebook for all my friends, family, work colleagues and randomers that I picked up on my travels to see.

I do not think I am the most amazing singer in the world. I am alright. I am most certainly not the best guitar player in the world but I wrote that tune. All by myself. And, well, the lyrics are just a real basic poem I wrote years ago but I wrote them for a reason and that reason was to remind myself that I am here to experience as much of life as I possibly can. All that aside, I wrote a song and I was proud of myself and I wanted to encourage other people. So many of us are held back and crippled with fears, worries, insecurities and feelings of inferiority. There are so many people in the world, so much talent, and it is easy to feel jaded that your own slice of talent doesn't cut the mustard. I was glad that I was brave and people were so supportive. And this has encouraged me greatly, to do all the things that I love to do and to share it with as many people as possible.

So Gus (obviously not his real name but, well, I like to give my friends some privacy) has been round for a few practice sessions and I have been chatting to N about collaborating with us too. My dreams of bringing everyone together in some kind of collective creative community are coming to fruition. This makes me SO happy! If I could only get Ziggy to be more creative and less destructive then I would be surrounded by a big bubble of peace.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dead Bird Season Revisited

Yesterday I got out of dodge. I was starting to feel stagnant seeing the same scenery. So I took a visit to the town where there be a lot of chefs and I had a very pleasant stroll in a forest. It was a rather convoluted journey. If I was driving it would have taken me an hour to get there but I was relying on Norn Iron's transport system which operates a system that dates back to sometime in the 1940's. But why would this bother me? Being on public transport means your going somewhere! I took the train to Belfast and the bus for the rest of the journey. While on the bus I thought back to my travels in Ecuador. There was something about the lush, green, sloping fields that reminded me of home. And the traditional Ecuadorian Women who reminded me of Pearlie.

I hated public transport when I was younger. I hated making journeys on my own and I have been caught out a couple of times and stranded in places I didn't want to be. The doors once didn't open at the Cullybackey stop (I swear it must've been a technical fault but over the years I have come to doubt this and wonder did I maybe not press the button to open the doors - who knows?) and I had to get off at the next stop which was miles away. I also jumped on the wrong train after getting home from Amsterdam so late at night that I'd missed the last train to Stoke and had to sleep on a bench. I was listening to music and didn't hear where the train was going and it took me a while to realise that I was going in completely the opposite direction of Stoke. I am sure there was also some kind of incident when I was about 13 involving me getting on the wrong train back from Dublin but the details are a little hazy.

I have become very accustomed to public transport now and I enjoy the random meetings of individuals who each have a little story to tell. I once took a coach in Thailand from Bangkok to Krabi. I wanted to travel in comfort but I got a bit confused between first class and buisness class and I went for buisness. The majority of passengers on the bus were Thai buisness men. It was a memorable journey though and at 2 O'Clock in the morning the coach stopped at a massive night time food market. All the men jumped out and had great big feeds that would have choked a donkey. I just smoked.

I took my camera with me yesterday but I was in good company so I didn't take a lot of snaps even though the whole place was very photogenic. Although, on the way back we noticed a dead magpie at the bottom of a tree. This was just at the start of the walk and we hadn't noticed it before. Forever the detective I touched the bird to see if it was long dead. It was kind of cold but rigor mortis had not set in. This made me think of dead bird season when I kept seeing dead birds. I just checked out the significance behind it today. A dead bird is often seen as an ominous sign. Since a bird represents freedom a dead one can signify the loss of freedom. But for every negative spin on a happening there are the positive spins and one site claims it to be a sign of the end of a something negative and the beginning of a positive phase in your life. The other spin on it is that death is the biggest part of life and creatures die all the time and it really means nothing other that what that dude Elton John sang about. It was probably just as well it was dead for had it been injured I would have been compelled to take it home and nurse it back to health. And, of course, I don't really rate Elton John and it doesn't seem logical to me that a dead bird should equate a loss of freedom or anything negative and that leaves the only other spin, which is a dead bird is a symbol of good times to come :)





Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Pee Game

Yesterday I played a game with my nieces when we were out for our dog walk. The game was called "Guess How Many Times Ziggy Will Pee Even Before We Get To The Riverpath". I placed my bet at 11. Z decided 9. Younger Niece didn't really understand the game but she guessed 10 anyway while Older Niece put her bet at 16 but decided to go for 12 upon her mother's advice. Ziggy seemed to understand we were playing a game and he made it all very exciting and tense for us. He was on pee number 9 and we were still round the corner from the path. I knew he would squeeze a few more out but he teased us by cocking his leg then changing his mind. Pee number ten came out and this knocked Z out of the game and put Younger Niece in pole position. Ziggy toyed with us some more before pee number 11 came out when we were just metres away from the path. It was looking like Ziggy knew the score and wanted me to win but then he made a u turn, went back to some nettles, lifted the leg and pee number 12 came out. Older Niece was delighted that she won the game and wanted to play a similar one to see how many poohs he would do.

Later in the evening I called round to see Sunshine and Moonshine. We drank some beer and cider and went to the park. I think it's a real shame that adults have to wait to sun down before they can have some fun at the park but until they build official play parks for grown ups we don't really have much choice. We all concluded that swings are just not what they used to be. Still great fun but health and safety has meant they are not as high as they used to be and the bars are not as flexible, preventing you from swinging so incredibly high that you might go up and over the bars. Health and Safety are like a real old, boring couple that spoils everyone's fun.

Ziggy hates it when I procrastinate. The wallpaper in the bathroom had been peeling for quite some time and it had been on my 'to do' list to buy some paint and redecorate. Ziggy had a wee go at removing some of the wall paper for me. On Wednesday when I was feeling sad and blue I started to rip the wallpaper off. It was a perfect activity to be at considering my frame of mind. I just wanted something kind of mindless, and a little bit destructive, to be at. Then, of course, I couldn't put off buying the paint as I'd already started the job so off I went to B and Q and bought the most expensive paint I could get for a bathroom. Because that's what you do when you haven't much money! So that's probably gonna be my project for the day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Depressive Optimist

Wow, I have just been hit square on the face with a shovelful of depression. Fuuuccckk! Just when I think I’m strong and happy and well equipped to deal with the shit of the world I am propelled back down into the pits of doom. I am so sick and tired of holding on and reaching out and asking the universe, please, please just give me my single grain of happiness. I don’t want it all, just a little. Just enough to keep me going until my body has aged to the point where it matches my soul.

I have mustered all the positivity and hope that I can. I have laughed and smiled and sang with the world and I know happiness and I know love and I know adventure. And I know nothing lasts forever except that sometimes this depression feels like it is going to last forever and I can’t really handle that.
Slowly things happen, things improve and I am lulled into a false sense of security that everything’s gonna be ok. Then it halts. The slow progress I’ve made feels like I might have conquered an ant hill. A fucking ant hill! Well, jeez Louise I climbed that bad boy and I felt so goddam proud of myself for a millisecond. Only to have it all taken away because the next ant hill is at least ten billion light years away and I just don’t know if I can make it that far and still have the energy to conquer it.

Then I am reminded of all the wisdom I have gained from reading books by Pauolo Coelho and I wonder why I am giving in when I am so very, very close. Close to what? I don’t even know but I keep hoping that my grain of happiness is round the next corner, or a bit further down that twisty path. The one with weeds and wildflower. Or maybe I should just go on down the path with broken glass and graffiti and so what if I cut the fuck out of my feet, sure the skin’s as tough as leather anyway.

I had to think seriously about whether or not I was gonna post this but the death of Robin Williams has made me realise that too many people carry the burden of depression and feel the stigma and, ulitmately, feel like they have no choice but to end the pain for good. I have used medication before but, at this point in my life, I don't want to simply block out all my feelings. Besides, it's different becuase the more I open up about depression the more I understand it and the less I fear that it will go on forever. It just feels like that sometimes. I am totally past the point of caring what people think of me. Sort of. I know I have a lot of love and light to offer and I know that I'll ride this out and reclaim back just enough strength to prepare me for the next outburst. That's not that I always expect to fall back down but that I know I need to prepare myself for it. Dealing with the Black Dog head on is the only course of action for me. There are reasons I feel the way I do, it's not like my depression is unexplainable and I am working as best I can to keep focus on all the good I have in life. I can feel hopeless but optimistic at the same time, if that makes sense.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Grizzly Man

Where on earth has my mind been? Somewhere half way up a tree in a forest I've never even been to. It's ok though. I trust that the tree will look after it. Ziggy seems to be on some kind of blogger protest which involves him putting his head on my laptop thus preventing me from writing. I'm off work all this week yay! The Lovely Mels was home at the weekend and we partook in a spot of bouncing and discussing the joys of human nature. She was also home a couple of weeks ago when the almighty Bird of Dirt was here. We spent an evening in the tree house before joining Nellybert and chums for some music making. Maybe I already mentioned that, I can't remember. It's all about the music at the minute. I had a friend round on Sunday for a jam. This dude just pops up periodically in my life from time to time but he's great on the geetar and good for my motivation so I coerced him. We did an assortment of tunes from Johnny Cash to Bob Marley. There was laughter, tears, the odd bum note and a few swallies consumed. We then sat down to watch the Grizzly Man, a doocumentary about an American who spent 13 summers living with bears in Alaska.

As always, with a story like that, there were a lot of people who had opinions about what he was doing. One dude pretty much said it was his own fault that he died at the hands of the bears but it was a shame he took his girlfriend with him. I made up my own mind about the Grizzly Man, based mostly on his own self-documentation with video cameras that he would use to record himself. I think his name was Alexander (though I might be getting confused with Alexander Supertramp - this is terrible that I can't even remember the Grizzly Man's real name and I only watched this show two days ago. I could have just googled it but that's where my laziness comes in. I'd rather waste two minutes writing about how lame I am than use the internet to be factual), but anyway, Alexander was a very effeminate sort of chap. He was not gay, or at least, he had girlfriends but he felt that nobody really understood him. He spoke to the bears in a very gentle tone, even when he was cross with them and trying to show his dominance. If he had to be cross with them he would say afterwards "I'm sorry. I love you."

The Grizzly Man was someone who just didn't fit into society and didn't even want to try. He was happier with the bears. He knew that he could die at their hands and he had accepted that fate. After watching the documentary I wondered if he could have prevented his death and chose not to. It seemed as the years went on and the Grizzly Man spent more and more time in isolation he became more and more angry and bitter about how he was perceived by the world. He recorded himself going off on rants and you could tell that, although he was happier being with the bears than anywhere else, he still seemed to be despeartely lonely. The footage that was taken hours before his death showed him taking in his surroundings and realising how lucky he was to be experiencing what he was. To me, it seemed like he was ready to die. Of course, that is only speculation.

A pack of foxes became very attached to the Grizzly Man. They followed him, chased him, played with him. He'd ruffle the tops of their heads and their eyes would close in contentment. He was their little prince. A lot of people believe that wild animals should not be tamed, that it is unnatural, but what if you let yourself be tamed by the wild animal, or, y'know just be a bit more wild like them?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Backyard Babies

Sometimes I underestimate the power of life. I am amazed by the sheer strength and will that a living thing will exuberate, just to keep on living, growing and being beautiful. Of course, Pearlie's death also taught me that when something gives up the will to live, and go on peacefully to the next stage, there is a strength and will in that too. I once wrote about a plant that my friend Dirt Bird gave me as a housewarming gift. Oh, what a source of guilt that turned out to be as I let it die of starvation. It has been said by many people, many times, that one should not own a pet unless they are capable of looking after a plant. As it was, I had the rats already and it was kinda because of them that I let the plant die. That's not to say I'm trying to shift the blame. I take full responsibility. Instead of feeling guilty I now look back on that plant and wonder if, perhaps, I had to let it die because there was something negative in me that I needed to let go of. Or maybe that's just how I have reasoned it to alleviate the guilt and shame that I couldn't even give a plant a taste of water every once in a while.

Last year I decided I would like to plant a tree and learn the art of Bonsai. The quest started with digging up some saplings. I repotted four altogether. I left them out in the back yard and tended to them every once in a while. The winter came and, along with it, my heart was broken and I had barely the energy to nurture myself let alone these saplings that I had hoped would grow healthy and strong. Thery stayed out in the backyard all through the harsh winter and they died. I would look at them periodically, feeling a kind of nostaligia about how excited and hopeful I had felt when I first planted them. I had no guilty associations. I had started to learn that guilt was not a trusted friend but a sleekit one that would try to hold me back. Then, with the first whispers of Spring, when everything else was beginning to awaken, I noticed that two of the saplings were clinging onto life. In that desolate backyard these saplings had held onto a glimmer of hope. They wanted to be bonsai trees. That was their destiny.

I took them out to Nellybert's and repotted them after trimming their roots (Bert winced when I did this but that's what makes a bonsai tree a bonsai). They still have a long way to go (about 15 years) before they look like they are supposed to but what's 15 years in the grand scheme of things? They are now flourishing and amongst all the nature and greenery that the countryside has to offer as opposed to the grey concrete of the town.

The Lovely Mel also bought me a plant last year. Obviously the fact that my friends now buy me plants for my house is a sign that I am some kind of adult. This plant showed off beautiful flowers for a week and then it began to wither and fade. Everyone in my family is a keen gardener and possess more than a shred of common sense when it comes to such things. I saw the flowers die and assumed the whole plant had died. So out it went into the backyard as well. Whilst I liked to keep an eye on the tree saplings I became completely oblivious to this other plant. But, a week ago I noticed it and realised that it had began to grow again and was just about ready to bloom. The original stalk is dead. It juts out of the plant pot to remind me that it has been reincarnated, once again, into something beautiful. Of course, people that know about plants and trees and nature, know that they can grow anywhere. It's just that I believed that nothing could thrive in such a desolate place.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Warm Warm Warm Weather

Pearlie's funeral happened to be on one of the warmest days of the year so far. This was fitting as she hated being cold and would bumfle herself up in as many layers as possible. My reading was difficult to do. The sadness kind of hit me when I got up to read about her and I felt my voice start to crumple. I managed to compose myself and was able to finish the tribute.

The awesome weather continued for the next few days. I stayed at mum's on Wednesday night and all day Thursday. The girls were out and they entertained us with their childlike imaginations. We painted for a while and then played a game on the trampoline that was called "Go Mad and Crazy". This involved me bouncing around like a loon with arms and legs flailing all over the place while I shouted "Everything's all mad and crazy". The girls joined in until we'd all fall in a heap laughing our heads off.

Friday was even warmer and when I cam home from work I discovered Ziggy hadn't been well. He'd had a few accidents on the floor, seemingly, from both ends and I was a bit concerned about taking him out for a long walk. I hooked up with Z and her brood and we drove to the river path so all the dogs could have a dip in the water to cool them down. Ziggy ran around with Maya and didn't seem the slightest bit unwell. I came home from work yesterday afternoon and the flatmate told me Ziggy had had another wee accident in the morning. He seemed ok and I took him for a walk around Portglenone forest with someone who owns an American Akita. Ziggy and the Akita had a great game of chase and dipped themselves in the water. I went out to Nellybert's after and Ziggy spent the next four hours playing with Jess. My mum looked at him and said "I thought you said Ziggy wasn't well."

This morning I have watched him out in the backyard and he's had more bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. I don't know if it's been the heat, or something he ate, but even when he's not well he just wants all the fun there is to be had. He's resting now for the first time in days. Meka is also not a hundred per cent. She has started to grow another mammory tumour, this time on her side. I don't think I will put her through another big operation as she is in the final stage of her life. Rats only live until there about 3 years old and Meka is two and a half. By the time the lump grows to a size where it's starting to affect her she will be dying of old age anyway. That will be the last little ratty I keep for a while. This morning I had her up on the sofa with Ziggy and I. She lay in below my dressing gown and came out every once in a while to sniff Ziggy.