Positive regard

Seems silly to kill a streak for no good reason.

Dave Hause sent me down a little winding path of nostalgia today.

I haven’t spent much time looking back this past year. I mean, I have in an unwitting, flashbacky sort of way, when my pain has overridden my reason and demanded I gallop through past landscapes while it takes gritty snapshots to justify its existence.

But I haven’t reminisced all that much.

The past is a chequered palace I haven’t really felt safe walking the halls of.

But last night, I listened to Dave Hause and, far from being drenched in quiet misery, I was stirred to something resembling, well, resolve. I had forgotten something about Dave Hause and his music. I’d forgotten about the huge Heart in it. The Hope in it. I’d wondered whether it might draw me back to a version of myself I had left behind, but instead it simply nodded to that version, and I laughed about it, and felt fortified as this new version of myself, so many iterations later.

This evening, I found myself looking through photos from one of the most difficult and painful times of my life – from when my son was barely one and I was destroying myself trying to save a relationship with his father that couldn’t be saved. And there was no sting of betrayal, loss, regret or victimhood. Merely an oozy, burning feeling of consolidation, as I integrated different aspects of my life and my self.

At some point, so long as we don’t hold onto it, the pain and shame of the past dissipates and leaves us with memories skewed toward the positive. While I was looking the other way, it seems I have been blessed by that phenomenon of late.

Dave Hause

I didn’t make any resolutions about this blog.

My resolution this year is to get filthy rich. To be as selfish and glorious as I was always destined to be. To cultivate my Great-and-Terrible-Queen-type energy. But mainly to get filthy rich.

I think that’s really all I came here to say. And when I opened up the floor to any other thoughts that might like to join the party, all that came along was Dave Hause, the punk-grown-up-singer-songwriter from Philadelphia who soundtracked my quiet and despair-drenched life at the backend of 2014. His debut solo album was called Resolutions, and his voice is rivalled only by Brian Fallon in its ability to evoke a nostalgic and comforting grief in me that I don’t think is even my own. Definitely not filthy rich energy. More like good, clean destitution.

Get it all out

The ripples of rebellion have reached our shores.

I had been disappointed that people in the UK hadn’t been having enough conversations about what was going on in the US. It was like we thought it was terrible, sure, but we couldn’t see how it applied to us. As things developed, there were black squares and shared tweets and circulating slogans, but little in the way of real conversation. We were still holding our cards close to our chest, because the ramifications of revealing them didn’t seem worth it for a problem an ocean away.

I wanted the conversations to happen, because I knew they would get ugly. I knew that the majority of us here, just like in the US, have been poisoned by the stories and ideas of systemic racism to the point we can’t even see it a lot of the time. I wondered if I was wrong, and I hoped I was wrong.

But I wasn’t wrong.

Now that it’s somewhat closer to home, we have started speaking, and it’s not pretty. I think the ugliest shit is the shit trying to be pretty.

And, look, I don’t judge anyone for it. I mean okay, some people are probably gonna stretch my capacity, but for the most part, I get it, and I’ve been there. You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know how harmful your words are. You don’t know how harmful your ideas are. You don’t know how harmful your beliefs are. And you think I’m being a patronising git right now. But if it makes you feel any better, I don’t know what I don’t know, either. I can’t see my own harmful words and ideas and beliefs around this.

It’s okay.

Things are probably going to get nastier, but we need to keep talking. Bring the ugly shit into the light, where we can break it down together. It’s not our fault we were raised in a corrupt system. We’ve been breathing racist air this whole time, it’s not our fault that we’ve unwittingly played our part.

Having these uncomfortable conversations is the way forward. This process is going to make all of us better – I really believe that. This process is so very necessary.

I’m glad I can show up for these conversations. I hope I can be of use.

In for a penny

There are so many terrible things happening in the world that I haven’t stood against. There will always be. I am just one tiny, feeble human. Insignificant. Powerless in the face of vast systemic problems, and biologically incapable of even keeping track of what those problems are.

Sometimes – many times – that has stopped me from standing for anything in any meaningful way. I overthought my way out of it, wasting my limited efforts on intellectualising instead of acting.

It’s difficult to make the argument, in our lives of such limited, precious time and attention, to exhaust ourselves over brutally ineffective, demoralising, relentless emotional labour that may or may not lead to even an iota of discernable change. We shouldn’t have to. No one should have to. And, if you’re as lucky as me, you don’t have to. You have that privilege. But many, many people do not. So many people do not.

You can talk yourself out of joining the fray by reminding yourself you’re just a drop in the expansive ocean. But that kind of poorly defined, intimidating abyss of a metaphor is a stupid way to frame it anyway. What about if we’re trying to break a dam? What if we’re turning on giant, fuck-off taps? It’s a collective effort, and the more of us there are, the quicker we reach the watershed, and the less likely any one of us is to die under the weight of what we need to carry.

We don’t have to take everything on as a personal cause. Maybe we should take a few. But just acknowledging the issue fully is transformative. Putting in the effort to fucking understand is the important part. Because you will probably find that, suddenly, you give a fuck. At least a little bit. And once you give a fuck, you’ll probably see the reward in being part of the fight.

We’ve been conditioned not to give a fuck. We’ve been conditioned to be petty and selfish and small and distracted, and every single time we break away from that it is a tiny and beautiful triumph. But, until we’ve dismantled the structures and systems built around us to confine us in petty, selfish, small, distracted lives, we will be fighting against them.

So. In for a penny, in for a pound?

Massive change.org petition for justice for George Floyd

Black Lives Matter donation page

Stand Up To Racism website

Happy birthday to me

So, I’m thirty.

Seems like about time.

I feel thirty. Not young, not old. Much like twenty-nine, or thirty-one, but just a little bit neater, wrapped up with a bow.

I don’t see much significance in the number. I wondered if I would once it changed, but I don’t. I’m sure that over the next year, various implications of being in a new decade or whatever will filter through to me as part of the becoming process. But I don’t feel I measure my age as much by the number I’ve reached as I do by the body I inhabit.

I say this because what gives me far more pause for thought than the digits on my birthday cards is the changing texture of the skin on my face. The altered waist-hip ratio. The stiffness in my joints. The many acquired scars. The signs of wear. The mileage. I have been paying attention to these lately, contemplating the impact of my choices on the form I find myself wrapped in.

Becoming a mother aged me. In so many ways. And so dramatically. I think, for me, any disturbed peace that may have been caused by this ‘milestone’ birthday was already surrendered to motherhood.

Looking at myself in the mirror is different now. I have had to concede that I don’t totally like what I see. That I feel like a compromise. That I look better in clothes than I do naked. I have had to work to be okay with my vessel again. And I worry about how it will be received by another. And I accept that this is all a normal, possibly approaching universal, human experience, in one form or another.

I’m okay with it. But it’s still tinged with regret. I look forward to transmuting that into something more joyful.