David Bowie’s death and being a feminist killjoy 

Standard

Today, I have learnt the real meaning of ‘feminist killjoy’. It’s something that I have joked about myself, the one in the room who’ll put a downer on a much loved film or celebrity. 
There’s no joking today, only conflict with the death of David Bowie swamping the news and social media. I grew up with his music, ok I was born in the late 70’s but he was ever present. My favourite childhood film was Labyrinth. I went to see it at the cinema with my mum and even had a few books of the film. Later to have it on video, I watched it over and over again and could recite the entire script. 
As a young girl, I had quite a crush on his character of Jareth. He was exotic and beautiful. I wanted to be Jennifer Connolly in the dream scene ballroom, to be whisked off my feet and lose myself in his eyes. Those eyes! So taken was I that I didn’t want her to win at the end. 
When I became an adult, there was an uncomfortable feeling with the focus of the film being about a grown man trying to seduce a young girl but I ignored it as I wanted to continue to enjoy the film, the music. 
Today I was stunned to hear that David Bowie had died, no one knew that he had been diagnosed with cancer 18 months before. This man who had been ever present in my life, a man that I wished I could have been like, was dead. I shared my shock and grief with thousands of others on FB and Twitter and turned the radio volume up to enjoy his songs. Then I read this:
http://elegantgatheringofwhitesnows.com/?p=3655
Being a victim of rape and one who has had to live with a not guilty verdict, I couldn’t let this new information just flow over me like someone shrugging off an insult. I’ve read some of the testimonies of the 13 yr old involved and there is no indication that she felt that she was raped. I don’t blame her for that and can completely understand how a young teenage girl can be groomed into ‘sex’ without ever thinking of it as rape or assault. What I don’t understand is how a grown man can find a 13 yr old sexually attractive, I will never understand that. 
And so I have this conflict…. I can never turn my back on someone who was sexually exploited by men who were famous and charismatic and yet I feel like I’m the ultimate feminist killjoy for sharing this on the day of David Bowie’s death. It feels so terribly wrong of me to do that. 
How do you balance your enjoyment of someone’s work with their deeply unpleasant past? All too often we brush these things under the carpet because these men are so adored and revered across the world. What does that say to victims of abuse though? Are we saying that if you are exploited by someone famous, forget ever being taken seriously or having justice as this person’s creative genius is FAR more important?! 

I’ll leave you to decide. 
Exxx 

Advertisements

And so it is Christmas … (CW) 

Standard

Christmas is an odd time of year. I was very lucky to have

l
  

lovely family Christmases when I was growing up. The excitement of the wait, the decorations, the tree, the ever increasing open doors on the advent calendar… Even when my mum had to work a couple of times, she still managed to make Christmas for us later in the day.
Fast forward quite a few years and then there was Christmas as a young, single parent. That was when the shine started to go out of the tinsel. I loved the couple of days I stayed with family but then it was back home to a house that was difficult to keep warm and that darkness you can only get from feeling like everyone is all jolly.
Don’t even go there with New Year’s Day! Many, many years of going to bed early only to be woken by WWIII in the form of fireworks. Then there was 2014…. 
Anyway, Christmas had become an odd mixture of joy and sadness. I think that is the way of things as you get older, more loved ones not being there anymore – some move away and some have died. Then I met my ex husband and everything seemed to sparkle again. 
After only two months of dating, he proposed on Christmas Day in front of my family. I was so happy, I was also so relieved to leave the stigma of single parenthood behind. With my sparkly diamond on my ring finger, I felt like I could take on the world.
This lovely cloud floated around for a while. I’m not sure when the rot set in but when we were married in the Spring, I wasn’t as happy as I should have been. Christmassy became a time of worry and stress. 
There was the worry over money for presents, the extreme worry over how much he would drink (and that was a lot), the stress of trying to keep up a happy front. This became increasingly hard as family fell out with him and didn’t want him there. I was emotionally torn apart. I now dreaded the start of Autumn when Christmas loomed large wherever I went.
Arguments over how much alcohol he had bought and how most of it had gone before Christmas Day still linger on in my mind. Needless to say, he had to buy more. The time he threw away youngest’s Christmas dinner that I had just put in the blender – she was 8 months old. I told him off and he reduced me to tears. I served our Boxing Day Christmas meal with teary eyes to a silent and miserable table. 
I’m doing my best to enjoy Christmas this year. There are triggers and memories with each tradition that I have to face but I am determined that my children will have a happy Christmas. 
It breaks my heart when I think of all the women out there right now who are dreading Christmas. To those women who might not be alive to see the new year in or who spend Christmas keeping the tears from flowing like a never ending river….I am with you and I believe you. I’m holding your hand and feeling your pain, your fear. He will use Christmas as an excuse to be extra vile and abusive. 
There are helplines out there, people out there who care and want you to be safe. I won’t think any less of you if you can’t make that break this Christmas or any Christmas. Please know that there can be joy and light again though. I hope you will find a way to leave one day and what ever day of the year that happens to be – may it feel like the best Christmas you’ve ever had. 
Much love 

Exxx 

 

Climbing, grief and tropical storms. 

Standard

For those of you who have read all my blogs ( I applaud you, well done!) you may find this familiar and that’s because it’s a part of my life I still need to write about and to heal from. 

Scrolling through my TL on Twitter today, I read a post about a tropical storm baring down on the Bahamas that was named after someone I am more than familiar with. It stirred my brain to recollect the name of the previous storm …. And after a quick check, I was right, it was the name of my late ex boyfriend.

I don’t know if they repeat names but I remember seeing our names listed in 2003 (I think …..). That always stuck with me. I realise that it means nothing, that nothing spiritual is going on but it makes me shiver anyway.

I started writing this poem about it a few years ago: 

Hurricanes – 1st draft 
The two of us like hurricanes 

Our names called up for storms

That blew us together

And blew my soul away

Left me gaping open

Left you a mortal wound

And I never got the chance

To say goodbye

So should I wait for hurricanes 

To rip through me once more
And I was struck by the last line but one ‘should I wait for hurricanes…’ . This burden of grief that I have placed apon myself, has done very little in lifting. I’m wise enough to know that grief never truly goes but it lessens and it many ways it has. It’s not that raw, searing pain anymore. Like someone has torn out your chest and you can’t breathe. Now it’s more gentle but like the weather, there are times when it rips in to me. Today was one of those days. 

This year is slightly more poignant as the climbing wall where we met, where I was thunder struck by him, where he taught me to climb and where we had our fun times too ….. Is to be demolished and a trampoline park put in its place. It’s the whole chest tearing moment again. 

There are ghosts at that wall, not just of him but of other climbers who have died. The smell of the place, the office and the desk, the ropes, the holds, the overhang where he tried to push me up, the sandbag he jokingly pushed me off of, the platform where he taught me how to abseil….. All going and I have nothing physical left of him to hold on to now. 

I have no photo, no letters. Just a grave that isn’t my place to visit and my memories. My main memories  of him being when he apologised for breaking my heart. Then there was the time my ex husband banned me from being friends with him and the last memory I have is seeing him walking up the road with the pace of a man who was not long for this world (we somehow managed to end up living a few houses away from each other). 

I knew when he had died, I felt it. I had been walking past his house for months and literally smelling death pour under the door and out on to the street like black tendrils of tar. That day …. The day after my son’s birthday… I walked past the air was clear, there was a sympathy card at the toddler group we both attended and I cried. He died whilst I was celebrating my son turning 10. Out of fear of my ex husband finding out, I pushed my tears back in and spent many months feeling lost and hollow wirh no one to confide in. 
So …. Danny…. Where ever you are,I hope that you’re climbing. No need to think of me at all. We can let each other go, at least I can let you go. That’s a lie but I will do my best to rest you in peace knowing that no one can take memories away of the time we collided like stars or should that be storms? 

Exxx 

Some Autumn Poetry ….. Sort of …

Standard

Time To

Well the Autumn leaves will fall
Shall I run crying into a wall
Scratch my fingernails in the mud
But this won’t come to any good

You’re ashes to ashes, dust to dust
The coffin nails have turned to rust
Body gone to show your bones
Your soul has lifted to another home

I run wildly through the trees
Trip and stumble on the leaves
I look to the sky and breathe the air
Let the breeze lift through my auburn hair

But now it’s time to move things on
The life you had has been and gone
For a short time I stood in your light
But I have to turn my darkness back to bright

Patience

How many more Autumns do I need to face?
How many more tracks does the Moon need to trace?
I’ll focus my gaze on the coming winter
Plaster the walls and pull down the shutters
Sew up my mouth and bandage my eyes
The winter is coming, I can hear its siren cries
The cold will not touch me, the snow will fall short
I shall remain steady
I will remain taut
Brace myself ready for the long haul
Warm and protected against the enemy’s call.

My life, a constant crashing wave
Like some endless nightmare
Yet I’m awake
There are teasers of joy
Hints of amazement and
I’m smiling again
It’s so nice to smile
Then I hear the loud boom
Of water on rock
That was the sound
Of my happiness shattered
Crushed again wand again
Like some hopeless crew
Of a doomed fishing vessel
Getting forever slammed
Into cliffs built for protection
What use are they against
The storm that my mind brews
I will be broken down
Smaller and smaller
Until only atoms are left
And emotions are useless
But the process is slow
And it causes me pain
So what shall I do
Too exhausted to swim
Too bruised to hold on
All I can do is give in
And give up my soul

A Meditation on being dead

Standard

Yeah, I know, I meant to be having a break but just wrote this and am impatient so ….

What I would miss if I were no longer here …. A meditation on not being dead

I was interrupted by a phone call whilst composing this blog in my head. It may not have the impact or convey the message I wanted to make now ….. One of the draw backs of modern living I guess?

This isn’t meant to be a poem or even prose. Any rhyming or rhythm is purely accidental. It’s more a stream of my consciousness whilst lying outside, desperately trying to ward off my anxiety – just been interrupted by another two phone calls …. Ffs

Ok, here goes…phone on silent …..

We all die, what happens after we die is not the question I’m tackling here. It’s more a mental journey of earthy things that are lost forever once we are gone and can no longer experience them.

I will miss:

Watching my children grow and learn and not being able to be there for them when they need me, when life has let them down and only their mummy will do.

My friends and family. Sharing a pot of tea and a cake and a good gossip about everything and nothing. To be a shoulder to cry on and have a shoulder to cry on. The healing nature of a heartfelt hug.

The way nature fills my senses. The feel of a cool breeze on my face, the icy cold of the sea water on my toes. The smell of damp earth that you get on a summer’s day when it’s been dry for ages and suddenly rains, large drops that ricochet off the pavement. A bird flying off a chimney pot or a squirrel running across the grass with it’s tail arched and bristling. Hearing the wind rushing through autumnal leaves or the mew of a kitten to it’s mother.

The taste of food and drink. The bitter, the sweet, the sour and the salty. Sometimes bland and sometimes over overpowering.

Love. The agony and the ecstasy of human relationships. Those intimate moments where it feels like we’re the only two people in existence. To get lost in their eyes and forget your own name. The feel of their skin on your skin, their mouth, their limbs, to be physically one if only for a short time.

To experience culture, soak myself in works of art or walls of sound. To be brought to tears by a book or a film. The laughter I get when a comedian touches on something I perfectly relate to. A well read poem on the radio, a battered postcard of a favourite painting. Not forgetting the creating, to be blessed with hands and feet and eyes so that I can crochet, sketch, paint or play an instrument really badly.

To walk down a street, any street and just live in that moment. See cars passing and builders working. People rushing past and you know nothing of their lives and how their day is going. Look up and watch the airlines flying hundreds of people to another country and wondering what they are talking about, how they are feeling when they step out of the airport and into new air.

The feel of clothes on my body. How sometimes I need soft, comforting clothes to snuggle into and forget the world and other times something more close fitting and daring to make me feel edgy and sexual. But mostly I wear clothes that just get me by in life without feeling like I’ve totally given up on myself.

The warmth of the Sun. Being a redhead I burn in the sun and suffer heat stroke at the slightest rise in temperature BUT …… The Sun makes everything seem better, colours are brighter, people smile more, my house feels more alive, my body feels warmer and more motivated to move and be productive. As beautiful as snow is, and it’s ability to cover up the crap us humans spew everywhere, it’s coldness becomes a chore so much quicker than a hot spell from the Sun. Which makes me think of the seasons and how they will carry on without me. How I long for Spring every year, to see the hawthorn hedges sprinkled with the freshest green on nature’s palate. Knowing that the winter is over – such a feeling for me. A relief.

And that is the thing, the crux of all of this. Life will go on without me. I am not a celebrity of any kind, no one will really note my passing but for a few individuals I shared my time with. Time will keep ticking. On the day that I die, people will go to work like they do, go on holiday, eat, shit and have sex. Cars and vans will be driven, post will land on doormats ….. All those little things that go unnoticed and I will no longer be a part of that cycle. And when I am merely dust, the earth will claim me and I will step onto the conveyer belt that will turn my ashes to rock. I always knew there was a reason why I’m so fascinated by rocks because they are the very essence of life and death all rolled up into something most people wouldn’t think twice about. Maybe being dead’s not so bad after all. I will live, like we all will, through the Earth that we walked on and one day become a part of the Universe that set the stage for my brief existence …..

Love to you all
Exxx IMG_2864.JPG

IMG_2857.JPG

IMG_2306.JPG

IMG_2861.JPG