A Writer’s lover…

Listening to Neil Gaiman on Tim Ferriss’s podcast “The Interview I’ve waited for…” was quite a joy. My favourite over used adjective word came to mind, it was “inspiring” but no that was not the word to use here. There was a sanguinity to his tone of voice, something decadent about the way he spoke, his reverence for notebooks and fountain pens; and esteemed love and sadness for his friend, the late Sir Terry Pratchett.

To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from this interview and for the first fifteen minutes I was thinking, really…we’re going to listen to Neil Gaiman talk about the materials he writes on and pens he writes with (long). But as the adoration of using these tools to craft one’s art went on I realised that I share the same love for notebooks and passion for writing. I do enjoy typing but there’s nothing like a pen in your hand and writing on paper, gliding the words on the page, the continuity of thoughts.
I worried that my love of stationary was a fetish and I had an unhealthy obsession with pens but what I have discovered is that they are my lovers, and I am just a lover who requires the tools to play with. I know what you’re thinking but I am talking about the  form and process of writing.
Journalling, story-telling, screenplays, poetry – I love words. My vocabulary may not be the landscape of the seven wonders of the world or overwhelm you with colours and shades of the Sistine chapel but I’m sure there is a place for me as there is for you. I guess I feel “normal” and less “abnormal” to be a lover of writing, is it a form that is dying out?

When my partner gave me ‘Neverwhere’ for my birthday, I remember reading a few pages, found myself bored and put it down. It didn’t interest me. I came back to it a year later and couldn’t stop reading, what had changed in a year? I’m not sure, sometimes I’m not ready to read certain books which is why I buy them and shelve them for years. I might read them one day, my aim is to read the ones that I have on the shelf and in storage (gulp).

I love London and reading a book that weaves inside and outside of London streets that I know captured me, I could relate. Whilst working for an old Livery Hall that dates back to the 15th Century, even more stories were animated in my head.
(SPOILER ALERT) I remember leaving the bus just as I finished ‘Neverwhere’ and looked up. I was astonished as there in front of me, I caught a glimpse of ‘The Marquis de Carabas’. I was grappling for my mobile phone lost in my bag as the bus stopped at St Pauls to take a photo, and I thought there it is, London Below has come up to visit London Above. I was so excited I tweeted @Neilhimself

 

I became even more of a believer in fantasy, wonder and possibility. I thought of my “inner child”  not the psychologically damaged one but the “innocence of youth”. It had taken me back to Edgar Allen Poe, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. Dark stories that I read in my childhood, stories of truth with characters not so beautiful and perfect but those that questioned thyself and others. I grew up with horror and  thriller influences (poor me). I look forward to ‘Good Omens’.

I loved Neil Gaiman’s honesty in what friendship was for him and the loss of a loved one. The beautiful memories of past conversations, accents, admiration, devotion, hearty laughter and an emptiness of being when they are gone. Death reminds us of moments we’d almost forgotten, a period when we experienced happier times. A soulmate of another kind.

Have a listen.

Acceptance

After completing Mastin Kipp’s 40 day ‘Claim Your Power’, I wondered if I would feel enlightened with my “Creator”, ecstatic in the my “action steps” approach to following my goals and dreams; and quit my day job. Was I excited that my relationships with my partner and family were about to elevate to the next level?
I felt the anti-climax of when an acting tour finishes and you know you’re going back to reality, the next acting job hasn’t come along yet and you have to go back to those faces in your regular job which either you dislike or the job is soul crushing.

Do I listen or read these self-development, self-empowering books because I want to find the answer to what I’m not doing right, seeking the reasons why I have not moved further along in life, to listen/read to another person tell me if I’m not “working to my goals once a week, it’s a dead dream”. Is it about my dreams?

I figured through this process it’s about my approach to everything and just like juggling human nature and the personalities of friends or the dynamics of work colleagues; it’s my approach to life.

My dad was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, I looked at the research to prove to myself I understood the levels, the stages, the ways in which this debilitating condition can take over. It’s a slow burn of fire dying out on a summer’s day, at its height it’s beautiful, powerful and sometimes uncontainable and at it’s low it’s ash blowing in the wind returning to the motherland. What am I doing about it? I’m trying to control it, the doctor is trying to control it and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel unhappy and alone. Is that strange? The support from the NHS has been great, the support from my partner has been incredible.

I’m able to take my Dad to acting classes, memory cafes, dance and fitness classes (with the help of another reluctant family member). We have got him a diary so he can write things in to remind himself of what he’s doing daily and who he’s spending time with.
The biggest impact and stress for me is knowing which are the important parts, hospital/doctor appointments etc. Since my Dad came home from Mauritius in 2014, the last four years have been applying to the council for a home, sorting his pension out, him being diagnosed with prostate cancer and then this year dementia. I wonder if life has it in for me but it’s not me it’s happening to, it’s him. I cry and want to scream and shout at the world “why is it all on me?” and it’s because somewhere along the journey, I have become the responsible adult in all situations, and the roles have reversed.  I wonder how I can put yourself first, stay on top of my health and deal with anymore? I can’t and I have to get on and find the time when I can. It’s not about complaining, it’s allowing yourself to feel frustrated and not beating yourself up for the guilt that is totally out of your control, and out of your hands.

So, back to the book, what has it taught me in isolation to this area of my life, “Acceptance”. A really difficult area to understand in it’s full limited, restrictive layers unless you understand yourself to a degree. “Acceptance” is the most enlightening area of my life right now. I find it difficult because it brings its friends “control” and “judgement” to back itself up every time but it’s my fears of this that has been difficult to acknowledge. Accepting, what I cannot change, the future. But I can change the here and now by looking at it through a different lens. I never thought I’d be talking to my Dad about his “After Care Plan”, they are ask questions, you’ve never been prepared to ask your parents before, “How do you want to receive NHS treatment, do you want to be resuscitated, do you want the doctors to give you all the medications available” and so on. About his Will and what he wants to leave to people, about all sorts, and i am glad to say thank gawd I found out about the Death cafe, because it helps to talk about death openly.

All my Dad can hear when I ask him about his personal life and history is suspicion, and he asks “why? Why is it difficult to see loved ones suffer, it’s because the conflict starts with ourselves, our views, opinions, judgements, influences. The reality is he cannot change, he’s not a man that understands how to to talk about his emotions and never really understood others. He’s complicated and has a limited view of the world because he doesn’t really engage in conversation to know who people are or understand the world around him.  So, if anyone had to change, it was down to me, I don’t want to be the dutiful daughter anymore, I don’t want to pat myself on the back and say “I was there when he really needed me”. I want to be more than this, so I realised it was time to create new memories, however short lived they might be.

I am creating new memories of fun. I never thought of my Dad as a scared, frightened, and stressed man knowing that life is coming to a close. Maybe we never really think about the time when our bodies will start to close down, and stop working in the way we hope it always will. How do you admit, you can’t remember people, places, things? How do you talk about death when you’ve never really discussed it with family?

I am really lucky to still have my Dad, he isn’t an extreme case at the moment, he still remembers, still gets about, still cognitive. I have to find ways in which he can answer questions that are too much for him all at once. I sat with him yesterday whilst putting on a TENS machine for his achy muscles and played some music from different periods of our lives and showed him old photographs. A simple action but really worth putting the time in. I recalled that all through my life at home, two of the most prominent memories I grew up with was music and photo albums. Dad had created those memories for us and now it was time to remind him of those memories and create new ones for him. It is time to have fun with him whilst I still can and because whatever time I have left, I don’t want it to be about appointments, doctors, medication and duty.

If I only had today…

Today I came home crying, I’ve been here before, losing one parent was difficult enough, not knowing how long it would take, the journey it would take and how Cancer would play out. This selfish all consuming, all devouring disease with no inhibitions or care in the world just an egotistical swipe left ghost of a figure.

Why did I cry? The next part of the journey is a different equally challenging one, Dementia. A debilitating, short term memory swiping not quite disease. Still a condition that is labelled with stages from mild to essentially “no hope”. Still not answering the question, “why did I cry?”.

Gratitude – that  I had this moment today? Grateful that I had a day with my Dad?
Self-congratulatory – pat myself on the back because I’ve done my duty and spent some “quality” time with my Dad?
Guilt – that I didn’t spend enough time with my Dad?
Relief – that if anything happened between now and tomorrow, “at least I had today”
Sadness – that I wish I could have seen the signs earlier and spent less time frustrated and angry and more time patient and understanding?
Fear – that I won’t have anyone who will love and care for me in the same way if anything befalls me?

Did I cry because every time I’m there for my Dad, he says “sorry” for taking up my time, “sorry to disturb you”. I never make my Dad feel guilty and boundaries have to be made clear, but it makes me sad and angry to think why he has to say “sorry” and if others have made him feel like a burden or a bother.

The real reason is, I don’t know why, maybe because of all of the above things, maybe because I hate this fucking life with all it’s unfair, injustice shit it places on us. Maybe I’ve had too much wine (two glasses), “maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner and I love London town…”

I chose today, I chose to spend “quality time” with my Dad because in recent years, “quality time” has meant council visits to get him a home and benefits, hospital visits to find out he has Prostate Cancer.  It has meant finding out accidentally that I have a half-brother but with so many questions that will be left unanswered for my entire lift-time. And more hospital/clinic visits to find out that he has dementia and this is the next step.

Did I choose this life? Did I choose to have these challenges in my life to make my soul a more experienced, wiser being in the next life?  To develop to a Nirvana level in this life? How could I have chosen the pain, the suffering, the guilt, the worry, the stress; how? Because I am sure I would have wanted to be in the ice-cream guilt free zone of wealth, wisdom and ignorance, no?

I know I have this immense capacity to love, to give, to care and energy to encourage, but when I walk away, I am sometimes inconsolable with an undeniable outcome. Why was I never prepared for death or just the pain and endurance that one has to go through with life’s incurable toxins. These are not triggers from my childhood, these are not previous experiences before a certain age, this is fucking real life adulthood and it’s shit.

Do I sound ungrateful? Maybe? I sound fucked off with the cards I have been dealt with and I want to throw my toys out of the pram and rant and rave at how unfair it all is. But as most people I know say “it is what it is”. Fuck those words, it seems cold and calculating, a slap in the face of no mercy or prisoners to be found here. Take it or leave it? And I have to accept the inevitable, fate of destiny.

But fate doesn’t have to be a waiting game, I look to do everything possible to enable, to give advice, to make sure my Dad can do everything in his power, while he is capable to slow the inevitable down. While doing this, I have missed on two years of living life with him, having fun with him, day trips out with him, drinking with him.

Have I been selfish in thinking “Well, I was doing my duty as a daughter, at least I was there when he needed me the most, all the appointments”. Have I let my ego get in the way to think, “I’ve said all I can”, given him opportunities and now I can get on my horse and ride off with the knowledge that “there was nothing more I could have done”. I’m an absolute idiot if I think that.

I love my Dad and I don’t want our last months or years of memories to be sat down explaining to him that he has to think now about his funeral arrangements, his Will and whatever “end of life” endeavours he needs to consider. I want to have fun with my Dad, I want him to have fun with me. I don’t want him to get all stressed with me because I’m always talking about the seriousness of every situation.

Today I took him to three of my favourite special places in North London, spaces that make me feel like home never did, peaceful, a space to think and feel/be creative EZ and Moss. A place that always makes me feel like I’m part of the family Mento, Coffee and Flowers and a place “where everybody knows your name” Oak N4

The roles in life have now reversed, it’s my turn to look after, take responsibility of my Dad.  I’m glad I had today and I need to make sure there are more days like today.

Pain not hate!

I hate how I feel when I hear impending doom, I fear the worse, think the worse, I want to scream at the world, at the gods, at the universe to say why do you fuck with our lives like this, take loved ones away so suddenly, I had no time.

“Are you sitting down, take a deep breath”, and the words flow, the news hits and my head is all giddy from absorbing. I don’t want to create a story in my head, I don’t want to think about my send off music, like a walk on music. I don’t want to hear someone I know is dead!

Yes, I know death exists, we have to all exit one day but why smack me in the face, why punch me in the gut, why queasy and sick, why all the moments that I last spent with them and all the moments I could have spent more. Why make me hate.

Where is my grief, is this it? Is this the sadness, another empty hole that gets bigger with each departure, am I part of the whole or the whole of nothing? Images of my own death, images of a peaceful sleep, no one wants pain. Images of how my loveds ones will react, will I be missed,  will I see them from the other side and at least feel them one last time.

How can I hate death when I don’t know it, feel it or haven’t escaped it, or maybe I do and that’s why my feelings are so prominent. Why do I feel time slipping away, reminded of my age, reminded of memories left behind that I never want to see or meet. Nothing about it makes me feel peaceful, gracious of my time, legacies I wish to leave behind. All it does is make me want to fight it, box it, kick it and rage at it.

Leave me and all the people I love the fuck alone! I accept its fate but fate is far away in a distant future. A future where cryogenics restores us, nanotechnology keeps us a live, that potion keeps us young and healthy forever, I don’t want disease, I don’t want to linger, I don’t want to stop fighting until I come face to face with you, and know it’s my time. Please don’t let it be alone, please don’t let it be tomorrow, please let me say to all the people in my life “I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you!”.

Stream of consciousness 

Esteemed soul, divine purpose
drive to my minds eye of truth
take back the streams of consciousness
that drives me to mad endeavours
of momentary suicide
to die or not to die but to discuss
the righteousness of others that befell
Me
inherited wickedness of deceit
but who is the deceiver, them or me
lie me gently in the arms of
forgetfulness of resentment of
the quietness that is beauteous
the silence of numbness
that guilt free, pain free death
of selective amnesia
coat me with your paint, armour
me with destruction
self pity, self hate bears heavy burdens
on my mind, draining my emotions of
comfort. The comfort of hate.
leave my body innocuous cuts that fill
with swollen words of lies. The language
of desert storms blistering my spirited
youth into undefinable eras of old age.
search for me when time remembers
that I did once exist.

Half full, half empty

Hand on heart, no words escape my lips,

the truth of a past I cannot relive.

Moments lost, memories gained

an injustice to the memories unnamed.

Where are you now? Who, what, how

did I get here, I know not this time

this place, this home, my space.

Cloudy, unrecognisable since you’ve left

the hole in my heart is still bereft.

 

 

 

 

In the grand scheme of things…

Well, the last 12 months has been an eye opener of familial life, career, bullying, patterns of life, responsibilities and all the past memories or experiences I have gone through and still go through.

There are some memories I cannot wipe away but manage them on a day to day, month to month basis. Some memories like tonight, where I look at the clock at 12:20am and remember on this New Year’s Eve like every other for the last six years; you are no longer in my life. I cannot celebrate another year with you, go shopping with you, tell you about all the exciting moments in my life or share the partner in my life with you. We are no longer a family unit because the glue that held us together is no longer there.

We may have argued, hurt one another, spoken harsh words but isn’t that what everyone goes through, isn’t that normal? All those memories where I rebelled against your beliefs and wisdom of experience. When I thought I was right and you were wrong, when everything you had been through in life was for our/my benefit, but I couldn’t see through that as a child as a teenager and sometimes as an adult.

I remember many things like your red lipstick, your smile, your infectious laughter. I remember the brightly coloured clothes you wore. I remember you always wore skirts and dresses and dressed well even going shopping. I remember your colourful head scarfs and your Harrods bag that you took with you to work. The tea I would make for you in your flask, the cakes you bought home at 4pm from work as you loved afternoon tea. The family get-togethers at Christmas for afternoon tea at Harrods, it became traditional in our house. Chicken Biriyani, my favourite meal. The birthday parties and the mean cocktail punches everyone got drunk on. The people whose lives you touched and whom loved you dearly. You had a big, generous heart where you gave without a thought to yourself and you welcomed everyone in. I hope this is where my qualities come from, a part of you.

In the grand scheme of things, I suddenly realised “why am I sweating the small stuff, because it’s all small stuff?”. Why have I not lived life to full capacity and how did I become so constrained with how I navigated it. I vowed to myself, I would live each moment with fun, love and an open heart! If situations hurt or pained me then this journey of life is where I need to grow, develop, evolve and I will never stop any of those things. In the grand scheme of things, I’m alive and have every moment to create and be happy in and only I can choose that for my path. So, onwards to the next chapter of life and wherever you are, I love you Mum. You will always be in my heart and soul.