Thursday, 25 December 2008

a little different this year

our family - that's 3 sisters and me, 2 parents and our japanese lodger (a lovely 20 year old girl) - celebrated Christmas day yesterday because Mum worked today. Instead of the traditional Christmas Dinner, we had cashew nut roast, morrocan style stew, roasted vegetables, coriander flavoured cous cous and... because 'it wouldn't be Christmas without them', some brussel sprouts thrown in for good measure! It was delicious, and nice to feel sort-of-still-healthy even though we were full. Uno, articulate, 'Mama Mia', a village walk were principal features with Canadian port and german stollen thanks to travelling sisters as a nice end to the day.

And today, we-minus-mother went to St Aldate's church where they had organised Christmas dinner for anyone who was going to be alone, or without a home on Christmas day. I thought we were going to be helping serve, cook, clear, etc (which i would have found easier!) but we actually just ended up hanging out with the people who had come, making them feel welcome, etc. Which if I'm honest doesn't come so naturally for me, especially when most of the guests were middle aged men, but challenges are good for us, no?! And in the end it was pretty fun. A good meal, some classic team games and a bit of Wallace and Gromit to finish off. It was nice to be doing something a bit different, especially as Christmas day often ends up feeling like the "same old thing" and pretty excessive and we end up not actually appreciating all the great gifts that God has given us. I felt overwhelmingly blessed looking across the room at my beautiful sisters and Dad talking to a whole variety of people. So many people must end up spending this day of 'peace and joy' alone. I hope I always keep my doors open to those people, no matter where i am living. And i hope i never take for granted the people around me, because life is not certain - we don't know what tomorrow will bring. SO today i say THANK YOU.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Basingstoke

is... to some... "roundabout city", the butt of jokes, culture-less, shopping destination in 'Festival Place', least desirable

to me it is
a whole load of memories. it's walking to school, saturday trips to the library with dad, little sisters having tantrums on the shiny floors of the shopping centre, it's Eastrop park in the summer, the 'lime pits' with our friends, Memorial park with the dog, Hackwood park on wintery sunday afternoons. It's penny sweets and roller boots, mountain bikes and rainbows-brownies-guides-scouts. It's telephone numbers i still remember, knowing people's whole families, South church, community. it's swimming pools, piano and a violin. It's aged 4 to 12. two houses and two schools, two hamsters and one dog. it's the "before the Pikes went to Zambia and picked up funny accents" - the end of how we were. and the beginning of friendships that i hope will last a lifetime.
"I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. i felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life".

Leo Tolstoy, 'Family Happiness'

Monday, 22 December 2008

Saturday, 20 December 2008

a slice of one corinthians four from the message

for who do you know that really knows you,

knows you heart?

and,

even if they did,

is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for?

isn't everything you have

and everything you are

sheer gifts from God?

So what's the point of all this comparing and competing?

You already have all you need.

You already have more access to God than you can handle.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

T.S. Eliot


So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it.
And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion.
And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from.
As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living.
Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.

(from Four Quarters, 2nd quartet: 'East Coker', part V. emphasis mine.)

before you wonder at my culture-ed-ness, i admit, i have not been sitting in a musty armchair by a large window, nor walking the windswept hills, reading works of poetry. i found the beginning part of this in the front of a book i was about to read for my anthropology essay ('Belief, Language and Experience' by Rodney Needham), while sitting in front of a computer in the library (yessss i am in the library in the holidays!!wrong. but weirdly OK because its quiter and there's actually available computers, and in places i want to sit!). But anyways it made me search for the rest of it, because i think it's beautiful. and says things i've often tried to express in a far clumsier and simplistic manner. and has encouraged me to read more...

Monday, 15 December 2008

hammocks


i went to a 'gathering' friday at my friend Xav's house. and his housemate had a hammock in his room. OH. how i would love a hammock. actually, i have one that i bought in Brazil over 6 years ago but have never had a way or space to put it up. come to think of it, i've no idea where it even is now. but anyways, back to this hammock. it was a bit of a mission to get up into it, especially when you are short and not very strong, but i made it. and lay back smiling with my eyes closed swinging over the heads of assorted discussions of travels and spanish and mexico and music and photography and breakdancing... and at that moment could have been anywhere in the world.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

phew

first term of my fourth and final year is over. think the last 10 weeks have been one of the fastest flying 10 weeks of my life so far! maybe...

i'm relieved it's over, although can't relax too much, still got a 4000 word "extended essay" due in january. but still, it's now officially the holidays, yey! everyone's ready for a break. today was pretty full on, doing a spanish presentation and handing in first piece of work that 'counts', but nicely ended with a beautiful thai meal with a beautiful friend. hooray. might still go dancing, not the end of the day yet...

last night with my flatmates after our "christmas dinner" (errrr.... vegetable lasagne!!) we watched "into the Wild". It's beautiful and sad and thought provoking and based on a true story. a young guy wants to get 'away from it all' - from money and things and lies and broken relationships, so travels around north america, with Alaska as his final destination. does everyone yearn for big open spaces, clear skies, wilderness and majesty? i know i do. a (potentially cheesy yet i really like it) song springs to mind: "wild horses" by Natasha Bedingfield. actually the other day someone said that's the feeling they got from me. this does not encourage my appreciation of academia and stuffy classrooms.
aside: attempted christmas shopping today and it's all too overwhelming.

also, the film's conclusion - that happiness has to be SHARED - is something i've been thinking a lot about recently. we're not made to run this race alone.

"s'all about the wordplay"




my beautiful housemate becca sang at this event ("WORDPLAY") of music and 'spoken word' at the sanctuary cafe on tuesday night. great atmosphere, lovely venue with some tasty food.... i shall return soon! it's a regular event although this was my first time going. made me think about reading some of my poetry one day soon...

Friday, 5 December 2008

good things...

1. spiced (chilli) hot chocolate from 'Iydea' cafe in the North Laines, Brighton. SOOO GOOOOD!



2. my bicycle. i spent thursday without it, as it rained in the morning and i went to the marina in the evening, hence deeming it worth buying a pricey bus day pass. while taking the bus to uni in the morning felt like quite a treat - arriving early for the first time ever to spanish, unsweaty and not feeling like i was about to collapse - i began to feel a little unfaithful to my trusty bike as Annah cycled past from the marina into town while i sat high and dry in third bus of the day. plus i had to pay extra as it was the "night bus". grr. my love of the 2 wheeled machine really hit home when i had to catch bus number 4 at 3:30am after some boogie-ing in casablanca. thinking i'd be a good girl and not walk home by myself, and thinking i'd save some time by catching the bus i paid another night-bus-pound-extra and found a seat. NEVER AGAIN. i thought that since the buses now go regularly through the night back to the university campuses that the times of hundreds of sweaty very unsteady freshers cramming themselves onto one bus, steaming the windows, singing anti-sussex/brighton uni songs and droning long drunken tales of "can you believe what she said to me...." were over. how wrong i was. now this was all perfectly acceptable in first year but somewhere between then and now i've gotten old/boring/sensible or something. because it was all i could do not to jump off again. thankfully i sat next to someone who felt the same so we moaned like old women. ah, what have i become?! (that said, we old fourth years probably still managed to dance more than everyone else at casablanca....!) in the end i think it would have been quicker to walk. and so, in conclusion, the bike is coming with me next time and forever more.

3. New friends! a mutual friend told me and Cecily to meet up and that we'd get on well. so we did and we did. hooray! answer to prayer for both of us too i think. grrrrrreat.

4. Old friends! a few special ones popped back to brighton so got to catch up. always a good thing.



5. Sunshine and sea. Managed to get out and about in the sun and see the sea more than twice this week. which always makes me smile.



PS actually on more than one occasion all the above were combined in a general happy mix. even better!

6. Dancing. that'll always be on the list. twice this week... at the CCK ball which has become somewhat of a tradition, despite never having been a member of the church. i was a little worried when the band first began to play and everyone stood awkwardly in their suits and dresses round the edges of the dancefloor, feeling rather full and, well, awkward. but it was all ok in the end with a little stevie wonder and similar delights then a DJ playing pretty much all my fave tunes at the mo. that was when the killer heels finally got kicked off and any attempts at calm sophisticated ball-style dancing were thrown out the window. joy. (barely anyone knew me anyways... and those who did joined in!)

secondly at casablanca, another classic venue (but much better on wednesdays than thursdays which we now no for sure). that said, a valiant effort was made at "making the best of it" and some of us actually ended up staying till the very end dancing to dizzy rascal, shakira and the like, while meeting some guys from spain and mexico. it was good to speak spanish, but that did not mean we wanted to 'continue the fiesta' afterwards with said people. and after all, this is england, the fiesta ends a lot earlier!


7. 'Bills' restaurant. if you haven't gone you HAVE to try it! you will not regret... yes.... i have eaten/drunk out quite a lot this week :-S







8. Sweet Potato wedges. credit goes to Bruce for inspiring me in this culinary area. Second attempt and they were a lot better, just right for serving to 2 lovely ladies who came round last night.

9. Cinema! i rarely go, which means going to the 'movies' remains quite a treat and enough to get me excited at the smell of popcorn and the orange tickets. saw James Bond, which isn't my favourite, but makes me think of my Dad, and the big screen and surround sound make it much more of an experience. and sometimes it's nice watching stuff that doesn't make you think for days afterwards - although those films definitely have their place

10. Christmas fairs - mainly for the memories. and today because i got to sell my homemade cards and be around people from church, and old and young people, and eat cake and feel a bit christmassy.

SO.... a pretty fantastic week really. it's good to recognise the things that make you smile. makes you more grateful. :-)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

"Ordinary Life"

Take me and invade me
Make me someone new
Wake me from the dead
And break me with the truth
Move me and disturb me
Interrupt my peace
Tear open my heart
And pull me to my knees
There's a world outside
That is burning
While I'm turning blinded eyes
While I stand by
I won't survive
To live this ordinary life
I'm not alive
To live this ordinary life
And I will try
To see this world I live in
With Your eyes
To love this world
You've given
With my life
(Starfield)