Brunching Sunday Picnic

Sep. 14th, 2014 11:36 am[personal profile] poetree_admin posting in [community profile] poetree
poetree_admin: Paper sculpture of bulbuous tree made from strips of book pages (Default)
alee_grrl

Sunday, every Sunday, let's have a community picnic. It's probably been a long week, and it's lovely to have a few minutes to sit back and relax and enjoy some good conversation in a less formal space. Feel free to bring something for the Picnic Basket - a poem you liked this week, a thought you had or something you experienced, or even something completely unrelated to poetry whatsoever that you just feel like sharing. Just take a moment to say hello, and maybe have a bite to eat; no one is going anywhere fast, and the shade promises some relief from the everyday heat. Let’s get to know each other a bit better, here under the branches of the poet’s tree.

Wednesday What Are You Reading

Sep. 10th, 2014 09:10 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Currently Reading

For once I only have one book on the go: The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Required reading for young trade unionists, I suppose. I'm rather suspicious of it as I find myself thinking that surely all this is obvious.

I am also dipping into Music of Silence (Brother David Steindl-Rast) but I wouldn't say I'm reading it in the same way I do other books. It almost wants to go in with the poetry - not that there is any, this week.


Recently Finished

Bel Canto (Ann Patchett) which was beautiful; I cried through quite a lot of it. Proves that it is entirely possible to write a book full of sympathetic characters. This despite the set-up, which is a hostage situation. Slightly uncomfortable with the banana republic in which it's set not having a name - always seems like a bit of a cop-out to me. But really, this was lovely.

Scarlet Feather (Maeve Binchy) - irritating but compulsive. Couldn't stick the hero, who was the jealous sort who didn't like his girlfriend wearing mini-skirts. Also not keen on the author's obvious double standards. But I finished it, which is saying something when you consider that the prologue alone runs fifty pages long.

The Chalet Girl (Kate Lace) - I somehow feel that it's not fair to dissect this from the point of view of a lifelong Anglican. But I'm going to, because this raised my hopes - for scandal in the close! - and then dashed them. The heroine is the daughter of a bishop, which is where all the Barchester comes in; however, the author has clearly not done her research. The bishop is a cartoonish blood and thunder Evangelical obsessed by Sin, but at one point appears at a social occasion in a purple 'soutane'. Then there's the bit where someone says that he was made a bishop to 'shut him up'. The Church of England is not the savviest of organisations, I have to admit, but I don't think it's as thick as all that.

More seriously, I didn't feel that the characterisation was at all consistent. Much was made of the hypocrisy of the bishop, but the moral compasses of the other characters felt severely off-kilter. In particular, the heroine's unquestioning involvement in a dubious business practice didn't sit at all well with her guilt over her past.

I hated the hero of this, too; he's employed on a trashy magazine and at one point is shown including an unflattering picture of a celebrity on the grounds that 'she shouldn't have been off her face'. Not a move to gain my sympathy.

tl;dr I would have gobbled this up had Susan Howatch written it (radiant, ravishing Westhampton!)

The Voice (Seicho Matsumoto) - short murder mystery stories translated from the Japanese. The pacing of some of these felt a little off; more than once I was able to guess the twist, and there seemed to be a lot of extraneous clue-gathering and other filler.

And I finally finished Fame is the Spur (Howard Spring), which proved to be only mildly depressing in a "show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart; show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains" kind of way. Once I'd had a chance to really get dug into it I enjoyed it, bar some distasteful male gaze-y stuff. Not convinced by Spring's habit of killing people off with no warning for, so far as I could see, gratuitous drama.


Up Next

Fiction: continuing with the light stuff, I think. Non-fiction: Walking a Sacred Path (Lauren Artress).


Other Media

Lots and lots of cycling on the telly. No other telly. Doctor Who was spectacularly silly in the grand old manner. Many songs on Youtube - a Facebook friend is doing a musical round-the-world tour, linking a video each day, one for each of the UN-recognised nations.

Photo: Me and My Dad

Sep. 8th, 2014 08:39 pm[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: Image of 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) leaning out of the TARDIS (dr who yes)
For all that these past few weeks have been really hard (and are likely to continue to be really hard) I have really, really been enjoying spending time with my dad and brother. I made sure to take a couple of photos now as this is how he would rather be remembered.

It's still strange to see him without a beard (he had one for pretty much most of my life save for the last 10 years).

 photo 100_0743_zpsed0c64b7.jpg

What am I doing here, anyway?

Sep. 8th, 2014 10:51 am[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
I nearly didn’t post the last post. About three quarters of the way through writing it, I suddenly thought, ‘No one’s going to be interested in this,’ and almost closed the document without saving. But I was also reading this post at the time, and so I didn’t. Trusting it’s going to be useful to somebody, some day.

I think the time has come to tell a story.

I date my becoming a sane(ish) and secure person from one particular night about a year ago. There’s more to it than that. There always is. A lot of groundwork. Several years of introspection and getting to know myself, reading and writing and thinking.

It begins with three women in a hotel room. Me and two friends. We were going to a party. I’d had a long day, an exhausting day. A fun day, a day doing something I enjoyed and believed in, but a day that had taken a lot out of me. I’d had to talk, and talk a lot. I was looking forward to the party, and also dreading it, because I knew I would have to talk more.
We arrived. We checked in, we got dressed, and we went downstairs to the party.

I managed about an hour. An hour of small talk, chit-chat, how-nice-to-see-you how-are-you. And then I ran out of things to say. I couldn’t talk myself, and when people didn’t talk to me I started thinking that they hated me. I couldn’t fulfil my side of the social bargain: why should anyone put themselves out for me? I escaped outside for fresh air, but that didn’t really work: the smokers found me, and smokers are, as a rule, pretty sociable. I couldn’t talk, so I just cried.

I went back in. No better. Eventually I gave up, and went back to the room. I told myself I was just going to fix my make-up and go back down again. That didn’t work. I looked at my own face in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself. Not because I didn’t look like myself, but because my face didn’t seem to be belong to me. At that point I gave up and went to bed.

I lay there for perhaps fifteen minutes, crying, face-down on the sofa bed. I suppose I would have gone to sleep, and maybe woken up in the morning feeling better. I’ll never know, because something happened.

brief swearing; ableist language used by myself of myself and another )

Here’s another story. My friend Karen has a baby. She also has a toddler, who was once a baby. The one I am talking about is the current baby, her second - which is rather my point. Had he come first then she wouldn’t have known, she says, that a baby that simply won’t stop screaming a) is normal; and b) isn’t her fault. Some babies are just like that. Because nobody ever mentions this. Because everybody always pretends that everything is all right.

Karen is brave and honest and tells people how awful it is. She does not want anybody thinking that they are the only one.

I don’t want anyone thinking they are the only one. That is the reason I post this, and yet – And yet I know that nothing that anybody could have written could have got into my consciousness the way that strange evening coincidence did, having the evidence right in front of my eyes.

I wish I knew a better way to show you. But I don’t, and so I suppose I will keep sharing it here.

Poem: My Father's Hands

Sep. 7th, 2014 10:41 pm[personal profile] alee_grrl
alee_grrl: Open book with purple iris in crease, text reads poetry (poetry)
As most of you know I do a lot of my reflecting and meditation through poetry. Many of the poems in the coming months will likely deal with memories of my father. This is the first one that has managed to get through the storm of emotion I'm feeling right now.

My Father's Hands

I may not remember
being so small I fit
cheek to cheek
across a single palm

But I remember
my tiny hands
wrapped around
a single finger
walking along
so happy in your shadow

I remember
big fingers surprisingly
dexterous
machines fixed
banjos picked
necklaces and curly hair
gently, patiently untangled

I look at my hands
still tiny despite being grown
and I cannot help
but think of yours

All in my head

Sep. 3rd, 2014 09:02 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
I came out the other day. Again.

I have come out to a number of different people in a number of different ways. These days, after several years of angst and trial and error, I pretend that everybody knows already, that I don’t need to tell them. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it works. If someone already knows I’m bisexual, then I don’t need to worry about what they’ll think when they find out. If I’m not worrying about what they’re thinking, I’m free to say what I actually wanted to say.

This time, for example, there was a vacancy in my trade union constituency for an LGBT workplace contact. There were a few other vacancies, too. The chair of the meeting asked me if I wanted to stand for any of them. ‘OK,’ I said, ‘I’ll do LGBT.’

What the ‘pretend everyone knows already’ doesn’t help with is the physical reaction. No matter how accepting, how supportive everybody is, no matter how calm and matter-of-fact I appear on the outside, the moment I’ve said it I am shivering and feeling sick.

Cut for biphobia and talking to myself )

Wednesday What Are You Reading

Sep. 3rd, 2014 06:47 pm[personal profile] kafj
kafj: headshot of KAFJ looking over right shoulder (Default)
Currently Reading

Still on Fame is the Spur, still think it's going to end up being very depressing, still going very slowly.

The Chalet Girl (Kate Lace) - unashamed chicklit with surprise Barchester. I am not convinced that the author knows a huge amount about the inner workings of the Church of England, and I am (again) having thoughts about how many cathedral cities can one fit into the south of England anyway, but will write more about this next week.

Scarlet Feather (Maeve Binchy) - possibly a 'too famous to need editing' problem? Lots of repetition. Also I hate the hero, who is jealous and possessive. And yet somehow I haven't stopped reading it...

The Lantern (Lawrenson) - continues purple and boring and I wish to slap a lot of the characters.


Recently Finished

Malinche (Laura Esquivel) - was very interesting but suffered from not knowing whether or not it was fiction or history, and also not having been very transparently translated. To my shame I'd never heard of Malinalli before.


Up Next

Not sure. Might really be The Spirit Level this time. It depends on whether my brain has grown back.


Other Media

More of La Vuelta. Also Lego Lord of the Rings - Anne played and I watched.

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