Just me

I recently took my son on an exciting camping trip near Chester. We pitched our tent on a small site, made friends with the people with marshmallows, explored the haunted caravan, spent one long day at the aquarium and another, longer day at the zoo, then packed up early one morning and headed to a festival for…let me see…fourteen hours of careening from spectacle to spectacle, before staggering through the doors of a hotel just after midnight where we would wake up at 7am sharp and lounge around getting our money’s worth, later watching a post-breakfast episode of Friends that Mak was completely engrossed in for some reason.

The amount of times along the way that strangers were shocked and sympathetic that it was ‘just me’ orchestrating and operating whichever part of the extravaganza they were witnessing was notable. Which, I mean, I guess is understandable. I’ll be the first to agree it takes a village, and there have been many times in the past where, lacking such a robust support system, I have struggled with parenting. But this was a choice. A choice I make regularly.

It was hard going sometimes – he has a lot of five-year-old energy and he hogs the airbed as effectively as if he were a European bison (we were looking at an animal atlas today). But when it’s just the two of us, boy, are we nimble. I like the freedom of catering just to our own whims.

Also, sleep deprivation really amps up my social anxiety, so navigating a group setting all day, after sharing the bed with the bison all night, is not my idea of easier. Which does occasionally make me worry that I’m just avoiding, on account of my own frailty, a situation that would actually be more enriching for Makaloo than ‘just the two of us’.

I’ll never be perfect. But we had a fucking excellent trip. And ‘just the two of us’ did involve me pretending to be a mermaid singing a sea shanty for a large group of fellow festival-goers, so I’m giving myself some extra points for that too. I probably just have to keep playing to my strengths.

Dark thoughts

There have been apocalyptic events on Earth at least a few times before, I think it’s fair to say. And each time, life prevailed. Not every light was extinguished. Instead, a small percentage of living creatures endured to crawl through the hellish wasteland that had once been their nurturing home, eking out a living in an environment now so inhospitable, anyone thinking rationally would have given in to death. Traumatised, diminished, desperate, they found a way to survive.

And some of those creatures are our ancestors. Some of those creatures gave us our DNA.

Who knows, maybe their trauma is coded into us, lying dormant, along with all the other inherited trauma.

Maybe we won’t rest until we find our way back to the abusive planet we once knew, so we can play out our vain fantasy of changing its mind about us. Proving our worth. Saving ourselves from its wrath.

I guess this is what I think about when I cut out coffee.

Wordgame: Baby

I’ve just come out of a two-day water fast, I’ve got the day off work, and, before I turn back to my gleeful-first-draft-of-a-second-novel, I thought let’s pull something out of the elephant box.

I have never been one for pet names. But I am a sucker for an American accent. Any American accent; I am not remotely picky. My friend once pointed out my unconscious tendency to crane my neck overtly and immediately in the direction of any male American accent I hear. Which was sort of reassuring, because at least I know I’m not lying about it.

As such, I went through a phase of fantasising about a heterosexual American man routinely calling me ‘baby’. Don’t know why. But maybe I do.

It’s one of those words that only an American can get away with, as far as I’m concerned. Another one is ‘pussy’. Unless we’re talking about actual babies and cats, obviously. But if we’re talking about actual cats you have to say ‘pussy-cat’; you can’t just say ‘pussy’. To be honest though, thinking about it, it might just be English people specifically who make me cringe when they defy those decrees.

Up until fairly recently I ached to live in the United States. It felt like where I was supposed to be; like my true home. And once, when travelling in the US, I discussed this with a Canadian during a coach-ride-from-Santa-Rosa-to-San-Jose-long love affair. For the record, a Canadian accent is absolutely close enough to trigger my neurons, and they also benefit from much more favourable stereotypes, so there is that. He posited that my desire was the fault of all the American TV I watched in my youth. I did not like that reasoning. But he was probably right.

I watched a lot of American TV. I probably watched more American TV than I did anything else. The only thing that could have rivalled ‘America’ as a prevalent theme in my life was ‘horses’ and, to be honest, the two often happily overlapped. So, an American accent is probably as comforting to me as an equine aroma. It probably reminds me of childhood. Makes me feel safe. Fills the role of my absent father. Relieves the insecure attachments of my past.

Once, I was walking alone, aged fourteen, along a random street in Florida – could not tell you why – and a guy shouted out of their car as they drove past “you’re beautiful, sweetheart!” and the joy that filled me with lives in my cells. Now we could pick that interaction apart, and find many flaws, but we’re not going to. A male American accent to me sounds like relief. It sounds like invitation to someone who viscerally believes they are uninvited.

Which is weird. Logical, but weird. Kinda broken. A weakness unwise to admit to; so easily exploited it could be. So, yeah, if you have the credentials, call me baby. I’m curious to see what would happen.

I believe in action

I don’t actually. It’s just that I once had a travel blog, and I decided, because I don’t like coming up with titles, that the titles would just all be song names, and as I was thinking about this blog post, it reminded me of this song title, and so now that is the title. Old habits and all that. I’ve probably already done that a few other times on this blog, come to think of it. And explained it then too. But hey, we’ve passed 300 posts now, I’m allowed to repeat myself.

So, at this stage in my life, I believe in action only with a heavy caveat. I believe in inspired action. Action when it feels right. I don’t always live by this belief – the more involved you are in conventional society the harder that is to do, I find – but I try, and I fight with myself over it regularly. And then I try to stop fighting, because that’s counterproductive.

But I am being inspired to action lately; the wave is rising in me and when we reach the crest I’ll have some decisions to make. Do the scary things I’m being urged to do, or let it pass me by and wait for the next one. I believe in doing the things, but when I think about doing them I make myself feel small and stupid. I am going to fall over, aren’t I?

Overhead lines

Today was a hot day.

I think the hottest on record for these here British Isles. And I chose to ride on the Metro – the notoriously outdated, incompetent, delay-ridden public transport service that had just yesterday melted.

I could have opted to stay at home.

I could have opted to take the car.

But I took the Metro.

I found practical reasons to argue against those other options. But before the practicalities came the raw desire to ride on the Metro on the hottest day ever. To be part of the excitement. To see what all the fuss was about. To live, goddammit.

I worried I was being stupid; that I’d end up having a miserable day and regret defying the prevalent advice. Please don’t travel on the Metro system if your journey isn’t necessary. But I wanted to. So I did.

And I had a wonderful time, sweat running down the backs of my legs while I tapped my fingers to the Hamilton soundtrack and the train car knocked us all about a bit. I can’t explain it, but it was so much better than not riding the Metro on the hottest day on record. Imagine if I’d just stayed at home! If I hadn’t followed that odd, pointless whim. My day would have just been fine.