Friday, 14 December 2012

Jesus Wept


The desert fathers spent weeks meditating on a single phrase from the Bible –
Like ‘Jesus wept’ – the shortest verse in the Bible.
Jesus wept.
I started thinking about it.
Jesus wept.
Not like, his eyes watered.
Or a solitary tear ran down his cheek.
Not even cried.
Wept.
That’s like sobs spewing out of heaving chest
Spilling clumsily into the cold light
Juddering shoulders rocking whole body
Tears mingling with snot as they race down his face,
Too many, too much to wipe away.
Weeping isn’t pretty
– Just pretty awkward.
Weeping wells out of the deep places
Where God and man meet In love and compassion,
Their heart tearing to know the refusal of the chosen ones to open their eyes
And see that heaven has touched earth,
The kingdom has come
In the form of a man,
A man containing the fullness of the Creator.
And he is weeping,
And he knows the pain of a broken heart,
The ripping apart of unrequited love,
The rawness of rejection.
He knows the taste of tears
And the racking throb of sorrow.

In his frailty I find comfort
And know I don’t walk this road alone.

 Katrina Quinn for WordLive www.wordlive.org.uk © Scripture Union 2012

Sunday, 9 December 2012

What has happened (Or another perspective)

Thank you to everyone who's commented or encouraged me about the previous post.  It seems like a lot of people can relate.  But as I mentioned, there is another way of looking at the situation.  This post is partly inspired by one of the best talks I ever heard my Dad give (apart from my wedding speech!).  It was at a school assembly in about 2000.  He talked about failure.  He talked about a young man getting a place at Cambridge University, only to fail his first year exams and get 'kicked out', so to speak, leaving him with no option but to go to any University that would accept him - not one of the best ones let's say.  Embarrassing?  Yes.  Fail?  Pretty much.  This then of course affected the jobs and opportunities he had access to subsequently.  But this same man went on to travel, including working on an irrigation project in Kenya, and met a girl, and got married and had four daughters, and provided for them, and loved them well.  Would you call him a failure?  I don't think so.  That man was my Dad, and I was struck by his honesty and perspective.  I've no doubt it must have been devastating at the time, but he chose to get on with life and not let it hold him back.

For a long time I've dreaded the question, 'so what do you do?'.  But again I think it's a choice in how we respond and how we let our circumstances affect our attitude.  I must admit I am only slowly beginning to grasp this and attempt to live it out.  I may feel differently in a few weeks time, but right now, in this season, I can honestly say that I ENJOY the work that I do.  I like the variety, I like that I get to chat with people, I like that I get to wear whatever I like in all three jobs.  Perhaps it helps to know this is only for a season, that soon change is a'coming (more on that soon for those that don't know!).  And there's a balance isn't there, in finding CONTENTMENT in whatever season or situation you're in, whilst not settling, and not stopping to DREAM.  I find I often need challenging about this - because as I said before, I do lose my confidence, and I do doubt myself, and yet the reason I get frustrated is that deep down I believe I am made for more, and I do want to achieve great things.

And that's really what I wanted to talk about (yep, it takes me a while to get to the point!).  What do we mean by 'great things'?  What do we define as important, or as achievement?  Again, it's perspective.  A dear friend of mine sent me a really encouraging message in response to the last post saying that I have been changing the world, just not perhaps in the exciting ways I expected.  And I know I have learnt a helluvalot in the last few years.  And I know there are lots of years to come in which to learn more.  And do more.  And become more.  And it doesn't all have to happen right now!

So I'll finish with some of the things I have learnt and I have done that I probably wouldn't have if I had gone straight into a 'real job' and earned real money and all the rest....

I've learnt how to clean.  I have washed up for England, swept and mopped and buffed wooden hall floors, cleaned more toilets than I can remember, warehouses, a pub, and people's homes.

I've learnt more about benefits.  I know how to claim for housing benefit, know that I cannot yet claim job seekers allowance should I become unemployed once again, know good times to call or go down to the benefits place to avoid long queues.

I've learnt about disability.  I know how to use hoists and slings and wheelchairs and give medication and vent and feed and administer personal care.  I've gotten to know a 15-year-old boy with severe cerebral palsy and his family and friends and seen a little of the challenges they face, and been inspired by their humour and strength.

I've learnt about pubs.  I know how to pour a pint and change a barrel and I know who likes what drink in what glass and with how many ice cubes!  I know a little more about darts and poker and pool and football and betting (only a little!).

I've learnt about charities.  Like FareShare.  I've seen the amazing work that they do, the challenges of fundraising, the benefits to volunteers.  I've had my eyes opened to the poverty and struggles of many people in Brighton and Hove, as well as been inspired by the people who are trying to change things.

I've learnt about children.  I've learnt how important Early Years education is and what a difference a safe and nurturing environment can make on the emotional and physical and intellectual development of children as young as two.  I know how to make playdough and sing many many songs and games and I know how individual each child is and how precious.

I've learnt about jewellery.  I have spent time in a cooperative workshop and helped to make silver jewellery and cut and filed and oxidised and welded and polished and filed some more!

I've learnt about admin.  I am queen of the photocopier and laminator!  I have emailed and printed and guillotined and telephoned and spreadsheeted and filed and emailed and filed and posted and invoiced and paid and ordered and organised and tweeted and tried to improve a website and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  (I've learnt it is not my first love or my greatest gifting but i   can   do    it).

I've learnt about poetry and poets and spoken word events.  I have written and performed and created and shared and been inspired.

And... I've learnt about decorating venues, and discovered much more of Brighton, and learnt about movement and dancing and creativity and freedom and also about babies (not mine!) and MARRIAGE (yes, mine!), and communication and teaching and confrontation and the arts council website, and that I can cry even more than I thought, and about depression and I've also improved my cooking (I hope), and visited India and Norway and got closer to my family (mainly over the phone) and missed friends who aren't around anymore but made new friends too.

And in all these things, I have met such a cross-section of people who have taught me so much through their passion and perspective and drive and compassion.  I've learnt to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds, which I suppose was what I set out to do in the first place.  I've hopefully become a better communicator and a bit less easily offended and more comfortable with being myself.

SO yeh.  I guess I have learnt quite a bit.  And I'm sure, if you think about it, you have too!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

What Hasn't Happened (or, failure in the post-uni-life-of-someone-who-graduated-into-a-crisis)

Have I failed?

It's a question I've asked myself a lot in the past few years.  These past three and a half years since University ended and 'the real world' began.

Before University, I was usually top of the class.  I mainly got A's.  I never failed an exam or test.  At school I was told I could do anything I wanted.  In church I was told I was a leader.  I considered medicine, politics, working for the EU of the UN.  Whatever it was, I was going to change the world.  I was going to rescue street children in Brazil, and save the rainforest, and change unjust legislation so that stupid debts could be cancelled, and fight against human trafficking, and encourage development without domination.

At University, I got a bit overwhelmed.  Everyone could have probably have made the exact same claims I just did.  And more.  And they seemed to know where they were headed with a lot more precision and confidence than I did.  And for the first time I wasn't top of the class and I often felt stupid.  I didn't understand most of what I read.  I got confused by the mixture of ideology, cynicism, activism, drugs and anti-anything-relating-to-God that infused the seminar rooms and societies of Sussex.  I lost some of my voice and my passion, because I compared myself too much to others.  I didn't make the most of opportunities that came my way.  And by the end of it I wanted nothing more to do with the academic world that seemed to me to be so narrow and exclusive and limited.  (Although, having said that, I did eventually, in the fourth year, find my flow a bit more when it came to studying and enjoyed learning and writing and was pleased with my final results).

So I decided I wouldn't dive straight in with the whole 'proper grown up job thing'.  I wanted to meet real people, of different ages and social backgrounds and economic statuses.  Because really my life and everyone around me had always been very middle-class.  And I figured there was a whole lot more to learn outside of libraries and journals.  So I took a gap year in Brighton and volunteered at various charities and focused on developing my faith and character.  All good.  THEN the plan was to get a job, move in with friends, perhaps move to London or abroad and kick off my career  - whatever that was going to be.

BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED

We were told, 'work hard at school, go to University, and you'll have a much better chance at getting a good job with a higher salary'.  A degree opens doors, we were told.

Every job that I have done in the past three and a half years has not required a degree (except for a brief stint of English teaching, which was highly stressful and nigh-impossible to get work in the UK out of summer months).  In fact I now often remove my degree from my CV to increase the chances of getting a job, any job at all.  That's what it's come down to - any job that I can get.  And I know I'm not alone in having lost count at the number of rejections I've received from job applications.  I was even refused Job Seeker's Allowance, because I hadn't earned enough previously.  The majority of my jobs have paid me minimum wage and I haven't come close to starting to pay off my student loan.  The only reason I've been able to stay in Brighton with a roof over my head is due to the kindness of friends who let me live with them for a year for next to nothing, and later on due to generosity of people in our church when Llewellyn and I got married.  This year is the first time I've been able to work full-time hours and even been able to save a little some months, by working two or three jobs simultaneously.

IT'S NOT EXACTLY WHAT I WAS EXPECTING

And I know I'm not the only one.  By a long way.  Yes the economy.  Yes the crisis.  Yes, we know.  But I can't help begrudging those who gave us such high hopes in the first place.  Was it really like that, back then?  How have things changed so much, so quickly.  No wonder my generation is feeling a little lost, a little (or a lot) let-down, a little lacking in identity and motivation.  Well, I speak for myself, anyhow.  The majority of my friends are re-training as teachers and nurses so that at least they have 'something'.  A few of us are holding out, hoping that we won't just have to do 'something' for the sake of job security.  But perhaps we are just spoiled.  (Dis) illusion-ed.  We have been given too much choice, and that is difficult to give back.

Forgive me if this sounds depressing.  But let's be honest.  It is.  I'm sure my depression this year was in part due to the fact I didn't feel I had anything to look forward to, that I was running out of hope for the future, and stagnating, and definitely not changing the world as I had planned.  And now I'm 26 and even thought it's silly it feels like I'm running out of time.  I often wonder if I've disappointed my family (a family full of people with 'proper jobs'!), the teachers that believed in me, myself, God??  To be honest I know dwelling on that won't get me anywhere, so at the moment I generally manage not to think about it - although my dreams are full of me messing things up and being late and being exposed and frustrated, so perhaps those feelings are lurking under the surface.  Anyways...

I've got more to say on this, because there is definitely another way of looking at the past few years.  But today I guess I just want to give voice to the frustrations that I know a lot of us mid-twenty-somethings are experiencing.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Pighog, Brendan Cleary and Poetry

Last Wednesday I went to Pighog (a Sussex-based publisher)'s poetry night at the Redroaster in Brighton (always a lovely venue).  I'd been before, and have to admit that a lot of the poetry went over my head.  It's a bit more of a 'serious', 'grownup' night than others in Brighton.  Which to some might mean... boring?  Anyhow - and here comes another admission - I decided to give it a go mainly because last time one of the Pighog guys approached me after my slot in the open mic suggesting a possibility of them printing some of my poems.  As you can imagine I was very excited and eagerly awaited contact.  Which never came.  So I guess I was hoping I might remind them and get a similarly good reaction last week.  Perhaps not the best motivation, but I'm being honest.  I would love to have some work published.

Anyways as it turned out, I actually really enjoyed the night.  I went alone but bumped into some familiar open-mic-night faces and then another friend turned up so I had people to chat to before it started.  I only just got my name on the open-mic list, Brighton people are very keen and it's probably the only occasion that us scatterbrained poets turn up early.  haha, well that's definitely the case for me anyhow.  The room was full and atmosphere good, with prizes being given for a poetry competition and a celebration of the year.  It was only slightly ruined by a very drunk guy attempting poetry at the very end and making a bit of a scene.  I think the only people who were shocked were those who weren't from Brighton!  The highlight for me was definitely hearing Brendan Cleary read his poems.  Hailing from Northern Ireland, he probably could have said anything and I'd have lapped it up, what with his beautiful accent and deep voice.  But I like his poems too!  They were mainly very short, honest and about 'real life'.  Heart break and loss and pubs and drugs and music and more...  I especially enjoyed one about him when he was a DJ at a pub, dancing with the barmaid out on the street.  Could just picture it.  So that was a treat, and something different to the norm.

My little slot went OK, not amazing, I was last on and aware of the time getting on.  And the Pighog guy didn't seem to recognise me nor be particularly struck by my poems.  I have to say I was a little disappointed, but then had to remind myself why I started out doing this in the first place, and why I want to keep on going.  Not for personal gain or fame (although I'm not gonna lie - these are attractive!) but in order to speak out truth, to communicate words of life, to encourage and to perhaps challenge people to look at things from a different perspective.  So I need to keep hold of that otherwise I am just setting myself up for more disappointment.

This week I'm trying out another open mic night in Brighton and also going up to London to read a couple of poems at a friend's event.  So I will try to be true to myself and to the words I feel I've been given, and hopefully can bring some light into someone's darkness in the meantime.

Monday, 3 December 2012

The Light we are waiting for // Advent

On Sunday at church we focused on Advent, and on welcoming the Light of the World.  It was a contemplative and peaceful morning, with time and space to reflect and to pray.  So thought I'd continue in that vein with other bits and bobs I've gathered and let you do the same.  Don't rush :-)

This is what Advent means: to be chosen and upheld by God, to be filled with God's delight and Spirit, to bring justice to the nations, to hold God's hand and be God's promise, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness          (Isaiah 42:1-9).
From Friar Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations

Light shines through ordinary things and makes them extraordinary


"If we aren’t going to love the world around us, then we might as well pack it all up and go home. If we don’t love, and if we don’t bring freedom with us, then we are simply another religion, lumped in with the rest of them. But first, of course, we need to understand who we truly are and what we have at our disposal.
The truth is, the light of the world resides within us".

(Darren Wilson, maker of the amazing documentary, 'Father of Lights' )


The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it
John 1:5



'The Lord is my light, my light and salvation
In God I trust, in God I trust'
Taize song


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

St Therese of Lisieux



On Sunday there were a whole load of old Christian books left out in the building where our church meets for anyone to take.  I picked up an Autobiography of Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who died at just 24-years-old in 1897.  I don't know much about any saints, but I've been wanting to read more about people in the past who've devoted their lives to following God, because there's always something to learn, and I'm interested to know if over 100 years ago, a young woman faced similar struggles and questions to young women today.  I've just started it, and the language is pretty old school - it was translated from French   and published over 50 years ago, but I'm quite enjoying the 'quaintness'.  And already, have read something I'd like to share:

"The sun's light, that plays on cedar-trees, plays on each tiny flower as if it were the only one in existence; and in the same way Our Lord takes special interest in each soul, as if there were no other like it.  Everything conspires for the good of each individual soul, just as the march of seasons is designed to  make the insignificant daisy unfold its petals on the day appointed for it" (p.27)

Monday, 26 November 2012

Recent Poetry Performance, November 2012

Here's me performing three poems recently at an Iopen evening in Brighton.

The poems are American Dream (on), Twin Thing, and First Love - all by me :-)

PS, despite my attempts I think I still manage to paint my twin sister in a less than positive light, which wasn't my intention at all! She is brilliant!

PPS not so keen on the whole close-up filming, but hopefully my looming face isn't too distracting! haha!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Glass Disasters

I've just started reading and working through 'The Writing Experiment' by Hazel Smith, on the recommendation of a dear friend.  Here's my first attempt at writing something using word association:

Glass houses house horses run wild and don't throw stones guilty woman Jesus loved fragile strength see cracks appear spear breakdown call the AA how long how long a mile a kilometre marathons snicker and chortle hurtle past everyone seems to be doing it these days addiction tattoo true blue Joni Mitchell sings smoky cafe everything's changed exchange of eyes hazel green sea choppy helicopter hurricane sandy beach huts shut the gates button down the hatches scratching nails on chalkboard cringe syringes litter the streets he weeps flooding the scene tsunami waves slaves to circumstance stand proud and unmoving quake shudder shiver apocalyse calypso dreams are dashed in the wind blow me away to another day mane tossers bosses rotten kisses does anyone care


Monday, 19 November 2012

When will there be peace?

I was going to tell you all about my recent experiences at the pub, but they seem very trivial in the light of the troubles going on around the world at the moment.  Perhaps apart from Thursday, which was the day of the funeral of the previous Landlord.  Death and cancer are cropping up their heads far too often at the moment.    We don't really know how to speak of death and dying in our culture.  We don't know how to grieve, how to process.   There is too much silence, I think.  We want to try to keep it tidy and reserved.  After a few weeks, we expect people, or ourselves, to pull it together.  Because people stop asking how the 'left' ones are doing.  Recent deaths of loved ones of regulars at the pub have meant that there are more  conversations about it.  Last night one man admitted it took ten years to 'get over' the death of his partner.  There have been tears and hugs and when alcohol is added it does get a bit messy and bit more honest.  Which perhaps isn't a bad thing.  I don't know.

But death will happen to us all.  It is a part of life, so to speak.  I suppose it rarely seems 'timely' - a lot of people don't die in their sleep in their nineties having lived a full and satisfying life.  But then again, quite a few do.  Today I'm thinking of places where death must seem very real. The fear of it tangible in the air, tasting like metal on the tongue.  Death untimely, death unnecessary, death caused by others with a cause, yet death unlikely to achieve anything good.  Stupid Stupid fighting and greed and pride and power and revenge.  Struggles that have gone on for decades until they seem 'normal'.  It should never be normal.  And of course it is the vulnerable, the innocent, the 'ordinary' people who will suffer, as the power-hungry play their games as if it were simply a matter of pressing the controls on an x-box.  I'm thinking of the people of Gaza, sitting in their homes with the very real threat that a rocket could come crashing through the roof at any time.   I'm thinking of the people of Goma, as rebel troops approach the city, while the army and UN seem to be able to offer very little protection.  The pawns caught in a game of chess for which the prizes are gold, diamonds, cobalt and coltan.  Paid for in human lives.

Are people not tired of fighting?  Do they not see it achieves nothing?  What will break the cycles of revenge?  Greed will never be satisfied.  Pride is a dangerous dangerous thing.  I'm scared about today, tomorrow.  It seems there are no limits.  I am angry beyond words at the unseen dealers supplying weapons to fuel the fire.  I know the arms trade probably reaches further and deeper into our own economy and nation than I really want to know.  But isn't it time that things are brought to light?  Today I hate violence more than ever.  I hate that war games are so popular.  So normalized.  One games of paintball was enough for me.  I cannot imagine living under that choking cloak of fear day in and day out.  Cannot imagine what it's like for children to grow up in a place where death is an everyday thing, where they cannot remember what it's like to walk a street without fear.  Without being reminded everyday of their vulnerable position in the world, that they are not believed to have as much value as others.

Today my fists clench in anger, and my stomach clenches in frustration, and my soul cries out for peace peace justice and peace.  Not the fake peace that glosses over the gruesome and gory and gut-wrenching stories but peace that sees people as of equal value, that sees life as a gift.  Not justice that results in yet more revenge, but justice that fights for reconciliation and understanding and cooperation.  I don't know if it's possible, but may I not give up praying and hoping and speaking and fighting for a different way.  

the Naked Now

On the recommendation of friends I've just started subscribing to Richard Rohr's daily contemplations.  Rohr is a Franciscan priest and the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation.  This was yesterdays thought:

"It is living in the naked now, the “sacrament of the present moment,” that will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves invariably divide the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is".


Richard Rohr, from 'The Naked Now: Learning to see as the Mystics see' p.12

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Fathers

Two minutes silence and I think of Fathers

Fathers lost and Fathers gained
Fathers who are, Fathers who have never been
Fathers who stepped in
Fathers that make us proud
Fathers that make us ashamed
Fathers who sacrifice
Fathers who forget
Fathers who fight
Fathers who fall
and feel
and enFold their sons tight in their arms

Fight for me
Love me with a forceful kind of love
Tell me how you feel about me, please?
When I'm frightened, fire away my fear
Fashion me into someone 
Who follows in your footsteps

I fight for you.  Every day.
I love you with a love whose force is stronger than any raging river
And it won't be washed away.
I'm telling you now how I feel about you, listen.
When you're frightened, I'm right beside you.  There's no need to fear.
I'm fashioning you to walk confidently in your own steps.
When other Fathers fail, I'll Father you above and beyond anything you ever thought you deserved.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Brighton Recently

Got to make the most of the sun when it shines!  Not looking foward to winter...

There's a lot of writing on the walls in Brighton.  This is something I DON'T want to do...!

On Sunday we made sushi, after many months of intending to do it.  Our friends bought all the ingredients and we  spread sticky rice onto sheets of seaweed, chose our fillings and rolled using the special bamboo mats.  Add soya sauce, crazy hot wasabi and pickled ginger and YUM, there you have it!

the view from the church office where I spend half my week.  It's pretty good, especially after having no windows at all in the previous office!  If you look carefully you can see a second rainbow above the first

Thursday, 1 November 2012

How honest?

I have a few minutes alone - hubby is washing up after cooking me a lovely dinner and watching the 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'.  Feel good film for sure.  Hubby's in the kitchen listening to some horrific screamy 'music' that he's partial too.  I am under the covers with my laptop and some emotional Spanish music (LOVE IT: aiiiii ventannaaaa....mi pobre corazon....mi almaaaa....estoy loca de amor.....aiiiiii...etc), head full of ponderings from the past few days, having had no time or energy (boring bad cold and body saying 'stop working so much!') to write them down or to see friends to talk them through properly with.  Perhaps that's why I have a blog.  To give me the opportunity to talk things out without having to watch someone's eyes wander/glaze over as I lose/bore them!  And yet the idea that someone will hear my words, unlike those written in my journal, which I'm supposing no one will read until I die. yes I do imagine someone pouring with great interest over my heartfelt scribblings, all 20...30...journals (probably more by then) and turning them into a best-selling book.  or at least proclaiming something about my depth and insight and wisdom. haha. ok i'm not actually really joking. is that bad?

Which leads me onto one of the things I've been thinking about this week.  About how much we share, especially on blogs.  It's interesting to see the scope of open-ness there is in the blogging world.  There's people who don't spare much detail about anything but remain anonymous.  Some mummy bloggers give their children's names, some don't.  Some people I know who write blogs have to keep things fairly vague because of the nature of their work e.g. friends working with child prostitutes.  I find most people can be very open on certain subjects, but not on others.  For example some might be very vulnerable about their faith/beliefs/doubts but say nothing about their relationships.  Some people only ever write about their children.  Some only about their political views.

I know I'm stating the obvious, perhaps I'm just trying to figure out where I fit, how much I want to share, etc.  I know I am often overly aware/sensitive to how others perceive me despite having spent most of my life trying not to care too much.  I think most people that read my blog are people that already know me - in some senses it's probably them I'm most concerned about, rather than the unknowns who stumble across it.  Maybe because in 'real life', we don't tell everyone everything.  For example, there's people I speak to about my faith, and there's others I won't.  I don't think it's because I want to hide, I suppose it's whether or not I think the other person will 'get it', or at least want to try to.  A lot of people don't want to hear/talk about that kind of thing.  Others only want to argue about it and I'm not really up for that.  In the same vein there's some friends I'd tell really personal stuff to, and others I perhaps wouldn't.  I do try to be pretty open with everyone, and would like to be seen as consistent, but I realise throughout the day I speak with different filters on.  There might be a positive side to this, in that I think I'm quite good at relating to lots of different people from different backgrounds.  I don't want to alienate people.  But at the end of the day, even if the language changes, I'd like the message to remain the same as much as possible.

Maybe that's another reason for the blog.  To speak more honestly than I do in person because I too easily shy from confrontation/feel intimidated or rushed.  I've always been better at writing than speaking.  And as I said, I don't want to hide.  But what does that mean?  Sometimes I fancy writing about embarrassing sex-related situations, or nakedness, or ranting about hair removal, or other less civilized topics that grownup girls aren't meant to talk about or admit.  Not to shock, necessarily, but because I think some things DO need to be talked about more so that we realise things really aren't like they are in the films - for pretty much everyone, not just you!  On the other hand there has to be some level of privacy, right?  I don't know.  I wouldn't want to embarrass people I love.  I don't particularly want to just be known for talking about boobs and bits.  But I do want to bring reality in, not just poemy, pondery pieces.  I want to reflect more of the crazy breadth of life and people.  [On the other hand maybe I just haven't had enough 'girlie' time lately to get all those things off my chest!] pun intended.

Annnnyway, hubby demands some attention so I must go...nooo not like that... it's time for another installment of 'Breaking Bad'.  But in the meantime I'll keep on pondering the whys and hows of this bloggety-blog.  Any thoughts, let me know :-)

Sunday, 28 October 2012

First love



I don't want to keep dwelling on the past.  It keeps on surfacing in my dreams and flowing out the tip of my pen.  Neither do I want to forget it all.  So i'm trying to write it out my system.  I don't know if it'll work but I can't not.  The following refers to one of the chapters of my life.  One I find hardest to let go of.


First love

You taught me about being a foreigner, and how to make a home in a new place.  You taught me about being a minority, being a curiosity, being misunderstood.  You taught me about standing out, blending in, trying to hide, and accepting being seen.  You taught me about histories told from different perspectives.  You taught me about guilt and overcoming and walking a different path to those of the people that went before.

You taught me about being lonely, and learning to be alone.  You taught me how much comfort the stars can give.  You taught me that the hills could be my friends.  You taught me that the sky has something different to say, every day.  You taught me about smells that appear under the sun and made me screw up my nose in disgust. You taught me about scents that only appear at night and make me dream.  

You taught me that I could run.  You taught me I’d rather be outside.  You taught me to map-read. You taught me that classroom achievement is not the be all and end all, well not for me, anyhow.  You taught me about singing and passion and acting and how I longed how I longed to dance.  You taught me about rap and rnb.  You taught me about bodies and breasts and skin and hair.  You taught me that clothes don’t matter that much.  You taught me about peanut butter and syrup on fresh white bread, and rice cakes, and mangoes and how milk straight from cows tastes.  You taught me how to blow bubbles with bubblegum.

You taught me that an 8 hour round trip in a day for a swimming gala is nothing.  You taught me about waterfalls and dams and never-ending roads.  You taught me a little about farmers and politicians and missionaries and businessmen and teachers through their children, who became like family.  You taught me how easy it is to damage relationships with my own family.  You taught me to toughen the soles of my feet, and toughen my tongue.  Perhaps parts of me got a little too tough.

You taught me about crushes and love letters and flirting and Valentines day.  You taught me about endless handwritten notes and pouring out my soul into a notebook. You taught me I wasn’t ready to be claimed, that I was stubborn... and certain in my uncertainty. 

You taught me about disappointment and the reality of death.  You taught me about goodbyes and making the most of every moment.  You taught me how much more precious time is when you know it’s running out.  You taught me about true friendships and how big a hole these can leave when there is a few thousand miles separating you.  You taught me how much it hurt to miss you.  



Thursday, 25 October 2012

Honest Songs - Noah Gundersen

As we gather round the table 
To say a prayer for those we love 
All the words that will be spoken 
they will never be enough 

to encompass all the feelings 
that our brittle hearts can bear 
all the storms that rage inside us 
fill our organs up with air 

and the sound it makes 
is an honest song 
our hearts sing an honest song 

All the time spend catching raindrops 
all the time we spent in bed 
all the hours we have wasted 
we will never see again 

so be good with what you're given 
for it's all you have to give 
we are only passing shadows 
in a mighty wind 

and the sound it makes 
is an honest song 
our hearts sing an honest song 

so tho I tremble in the darkness 
in the cold and freezing snow 
I am grateful for winter 
because the winter comes to show 

that our trouble's never over 
and our work is never done 
but with the turning of the season 
we will always see the sun 

and the sound it makes 
is an honest song 
our hearts sing an honest song 

may our hearts sing an honest song



from the album, Family

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Fruit

Not my photo!  Stolen from www.kleijnnurseries.com

My arms stretch and my fingers strain but the bars pressing against my chest prevent me from reaching, from taking hold of the fruit which has captured my attention.  The apple of my eye, you might say.  Hunger consumes me and lips moisten in anticipation.  I must eat... I must have.  But I cannot reach.  Cannot reach.  Neither can I turn away.  I know nothing else will compare. So why waste my time looking elsewhere?

I could have sworn that fruit had my name on.

The bars cut deeper as I press myself against them and my shoulders hunch in frustration.  Perhaps that fruit was never meant for me.  perhaps I am doomed to stay here forever, unable to move forward, taunted by dreams of what might have been.

SIGH.  My eyes must have been tricking me.  It can't have been my name I saw.  So I drop my head.  Tears fill my eyes.  My knees give way.  I sink toward the ground.

But before I hit the floor, I feel two strong hands on my shoulders.  Tension leaks away.  Gently the hands lift me and turn me slowly.  And there, to my right, is an open door. An open door leading into an open space where fruit hangs heavy from laden trees.  Fruit all the colours of the rainbow.  The dew on them glistening like diamonds in the sun.

Why did I never notice the door before?  I was too busy focusing on chains and restraints.  There is an open door!!!  A way for me!! And I was not wrong, after all.  There, on that juicy, delicious looking fruit that had captured my eye from the very beginning, is my name.  It is for me.  For me to eat.  And there is plenty.  Go find yours!

Written at ...Stepping Beyond last weekend, one of our creative worship evenings.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tatt-oo



I begin with a confession: I grew up believing that tattoos were wrong (especially for Christians), along with long hair and piercings on men.  Actually tattoos probably topped the list of unacceptable body modifications.  I can't quite believe that's how I viewed the world; a result of parents who were of a more conservative generation and background, growing up in a church in the 1990s, and living in Basingstoke - not exactly the heights of culture and liberalism.  I should also note that for a long time I thought it was wrong for women to wear makeup, but had no good foundation (haha) for this belief apart from the fact that my mum didn't wear it due to skin allergies.  It's funny the conclusions we come to.  I apologise to anyone I judged in my 9-year-old head.  Seriously.  I'm glad to say that no one I know now still holds to those beliefs, yes they might not be to my parents taste, but they'd never say a piercing or two was wrong.  That's a very important distinction (between taste and right/wrong), in so many areas of belief, especially religious belief and expression, isn't it?

But back to topic.  Look how far I've come.  I have my ears pierced several times, my nose and lip.  My husbands has ear stretchings and four tattoos.  And last week I had my first tattoo done.  This is the part where I discover how open-minded Mum and Dad have become... uhhh Surprise!?! :-)

There's a few things that have contributed to my change of opinion.  I suppose it's been mainly being in places where tattoos and piercings are the norm, rather than the exception - in Brighton, Sevilla and Ibiza.
Rather than just a few old ex-prisoners with a skull and crossbones on their arms, EVERYONE has tattoos these days!  And while there's still a lot that I don't like - many are the same, unoriginal, or very dark (why do so many people have images of death and evil marked onto their skin??  What is the attraction?!), there are also plenty that are interesting, creative and beautiful.  Tattoo artists are just that - ARTISTS, with so much skill. Respekt. I've realised that I, Katrina, actually quite like how some piercings and some tattoos look.  I think they can express personality and belief in fun and eye-catching ways, in the same way that a hair cut or new outfit can.  Perhaps it's because I'm too lazy to make an effort everyday with jewellery, makeup and hair styles that I chose more permanent methods of decoration!

Which leads me to explore two of those words in a bit more detail (trains of thought flowing...)

decoration - is it a celebration of creativity, or a way of hiding?  Is it a decision to stand out or to blend in?  To draw attention to ourselves or to disguise who we really are.  Do we modify our bodies because we are not satisfied with the way we are?  Do I have piercings because I think my face is too boring without them?  These are valid questions, but I think they can be applied in the same way to buying new clothes or shoes or using makeup, which are all deemed far more acceptable.

permanence - piercings can be removed but those inky etches are with us forever.  I think it's very hard for our generation to get our heads around permanence.  Everything around us is constantly changing, growing, developing.  In a topsy-turvy way perhaps it's our focus on 'living in the moment' that makes us care less about future consequences of long-lasting decisions (think about all the people who get their lovers name carved into their arm, only to regret it a year or two down the line).  Are tattoos just 'fashionable' at the moment (which is ironic since fashion changes constantly!)?  As with many things, something that started off being anarchic/alternative/shocking has become mainstream.  Perhaps lost its power to communicate a message?  I don't know, maybe it depends on where you are and who you're around.

Anyways, these are just a few ponderings on the matter.  I am no expert.  But I do think it's important to consider our motives in the decisions we make about our bodies.  At the same time, let's be colourful and creative and imaginative!  I'm really happy with the tattoo I've got.  It's pretty! :-)  It's hidden away so only a few will ever see it, but it says something that has meant a lot to me over the past few years, and will, I hope, inspire me to live life in the way I believe it should be lived.  

Monday, 8 October 2012

Unity and the Brighthelm Centre

Our church - City Gate Church - has recently moved into the Brighthelm Centre, which is owned by Brighthelm United Reformed Church.  So, two churches sharing a space, sharing a Sunday morning, sharing coffee time in between our services.  And the two churches couldn't be more different, on the surface, anyhow.  City Gate Church barely has anyone over the age of 60, and the average age of the URC's congregation must be around 80.  They have an organist, hymn books and flowers.  We have djembes, guitars, powerpoint and flags.  Their services are pretty traditional and ordered.  Our meetings are...chaotic and random!  We, and our style of worship, has already been referred to as 'strange' and' peculiar'.  I don't think the URC knows quite what to make of us.  And perhaps vice versa.  Perhaps we are all more set in our ways than we thought.  Being 'united' is easier said than done.

BUT, the challenge is a good one.  It's worth the effort.  And this Sunday, when we joined the Brighthelm URC in their service to celebrate 25 years of the Brighthelm Centre, I for one was inspired by the faithfulness and the perseverance that the older generation has invested into making a positive impact on the community around them.  Yes, they may be nearing the end of their race, but there is more to do, and much to learn from their wisdom and experience.  It's a privilege to be able to walk the road together for a while.  This Sunday we stood together, sang together and prayed together.  We drank coffee and ate sandwiches together.  And the visiting speaker said words that we ALL need to hear.  He encouraged us to continue to be SALT and LIGHT - that is to say to make a difference in the world.  And this isn't possible because we are particularly special in ourselves - most of us really are very ordinary.  This is possible because of the One who lives in all of us, the One who is our reason for being, for gathering in the Brighthelm Centre on a Sunday morning in the first place.  The One who first loved us.

Monday, 1 October 2012

SeptemberSpecialTimes

Sisters in Brum
So I know there's been quite a few blue/grey posts recently.  But please don't fret. Yes, I was particularly sad one day, but I've also been writing quite a lot about colour.  And actually, September has been a month of celebrations, and there's been a lot of happy times.  Mainly because the celebrations have been cause for gatherings, and gatherings mean being with people, people that I love, and don't get to see as much as I would like.  So I am feeling very thankful once again for the beautiful friends and family I have.

Life can feel a bit lonely as we all get down to the daily grind and energies get taken up with basically surviving from one day to the next, one paycheck to the next, etc.  There's only a few friends I now see regularly, and even that is not enough!  It's easy to start worrying that we've drifted apart, that perhaps we are not really that close any more.  And sure relationships change, and sometimes we do drift apart - my Mum was right - you cannot hold onto every single person you meet, but just because a relationship changes doesn't mean it's the end.  There are friends with whom I walked everyday a few years ago, and now I'm lucky if I see them twice a year.  I don't know the ins and outs of their daily lives.  I'm not always there with a hug when they are sad, and we often don't know how good or how hard life is for each other until afterwards.  But that's OK, I think.  As long as we do get those face to face times every once in a while.  When we'll talk about everything or nothing much and all the variations in between.  And we'll make ourselves comfortable in each other's homes without thinking.  And we'll be very honest.  And we'll hug lots.  And we'll be thankful to know each other.

Poetry night in LDN
So hooray for birthdays and anniversaries and weddings and friends making trips over to England from Greece and France (Joey and Heloise and Keena!)... (and Devon and London - Annah and Louise and Helen!)
                                 
Spectacular birthday faces
My birthday was especially fun.  Last year I turned 25 and was on honeymoon, so while it was lovely, it was just the two of us, and then we never got round to that housewarming party in our last flat (people would have had to come in shifts anyway!), so this year I really wanted to do something.  I get a bit funny about birthdays, I guess a lot of us do in different ways.  It's not that I'm bothered about getting old, it's more that it seems a chance for old insecurities to get the better of me - mainly that people won't come/remember/want to celebrate/be that bothered.  Silly perhaps, but that's the nature of those voices in our head that say all sorts of unhelpful things.

Brighton originals
Anyways, everything worked out OK.  It was great to have a flat full of faces that are so familiar and dear to me, and to be able to introduce friends to each other, and have a few drinks, and then to dance the night away.  Hooray hooray hooray.  Happy day.  THEN the following day, my flatmate cooked a huge roast which we shared with old housemates, and on my actual birthday Mr Q cooked me breakfast, and we watched a cheesy film, and after work MORE friends came for some girly times of massage, nail polish and ice-cream.  So I am a lucky girl, and I guess I just wanted to say Thanks to everyone who has been a part of make this month such a good one.  I am so blessed to know you.
Always a joy to see friends at weddings

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Another person's Blue



Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, there is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well they're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it through these waves....

...Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me


From 'Blue' by Joni Mitchell, from the album, Blue

Another person's Grey

"I lay back on the bed and looked up at the chains.  I was thinking, That sunshine, that colour yellow, maybe I will not see very much of these now.  Maybe the new colour of my life was grey.  Two years in the grey detention centre, and now I was an illegal immigrant.  That means, you are free until they catch you.  That means, you live in a grey area.  I thought about how I was going to live.  I thought about the years, living as quiet as could be.  Hiding my colours and living in the twilight and the shadows".

- Little Bee, a Nigerian Asylum Seeker in 'The Other Hand' by Chris Cleave (p.108-109)

Picture from www.chriscleave.com

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The blues/greys

Winter is approaching and I'm feeling blue
Or rather grey
Why do we call them the blues?
Blue is sunny sky and ocean deep
Blue is my favourite jumper
Your eyes
My wedding shoes
Blue is sparkling sapphire
Her nail varnish
Forget-me-nots
Blue is cold, yes, but fresh and clean
Refreshing cool calm breath
A stroll along the river with you on my arm

Blue is deep soul grooves
Sweet love tunes
Verandah, pipe and rocking chair

So no, I would not say that I feel blue
I would not mind if I were blue

The colour today is grey
- a heavy sigh, an aching empty
A barren land and overcast sky
Blocking out light
Keeping out warmth
Sucking out hope
Leaving nothing to catch they eye

Grey is heavy and suffocating
Morning mist that doesn't lift
The chill in my bones
Grey are the tears that spill over
The sadness that silences me

So I walk to try and escape
Walk to the blue sea expecting it to be grey
Expecting the clouds to be hanging heavy as they were on my shoulders
The waves to overcome me like my emotions

But you know, don't you?
You know my thirst for colour

And to my surprise
I find waters calm, shades of indigo
I find warm breeze tasting sweet with memories of summer
I find crescent moon shining low above pink brushstrokes of cloud
I find sky - blue, lemon, peach and mint
I find people, communing with each other and with creation

Not alone

I find peace
I find colour
No trace of grey


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Heroes


 My Mum and Dad are brilliant.  I couldn't ask for better parents.  OK I might not have said that a few years ago, and we've had our fair share of tears and tantrums, but with time, and learning to communicate better and understand each other, I'd say we've got a pretty good relationship.  I'm sad I don't get to see them more than I do.  They've just moved from Oxfordshire to Shropshire to begin a whole new adventure.  I love that despite their claims of being very 'average', and their more conservative way of doing things, they are not that normal!  (They think I'm weird but I think I know where that comes from!!) They are not willing to settle for the expected, they are up for change, they are open to learn and to build new relationships.  In their quiet, non-attention seeking way they persistently love God and the people around them.  My mum is quick to laugh and my dad is slow to get angry.  They both give great hugs and make a good cup of tea.  Together they are a great team.  They don't pretend to be perfect and are honest about the challenges life brings.  Their new house is peaceful and I'm sure will be a refuge/respite to many.  I hope they find people who appreciate them as much as their family and friends back in Oxford, Basingstoke and beyond do.  Hooray for Mummy and Daddy Pike!!



I really like this pic.  We took it on Monday - our first year anniversary.  We were in the kitchen about to eat a candle lit dinner.  (Thank you M&S Dine in for £10!  Although we like our food, so had to boost the portions with a few extra purchases.  Diets start... next month!)  My husband is another hero of mine.  Cheesy but true.  I can't tell you how grateful I am to be married to a man like him.  He rocks my socks :-)  

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Good Tings

OK enough of seeing the last post every time I look at my blog...

Change of tone:  Here are some GOOD things from the last week or two for which I am THANKFUL...


  • Travelling on trains in the middle of the day, when a seat at a table is pretty much guaranteed
  • Catching up with sisters
  • New cocktails... the one I had at 'Island Bar' in Birmingham had rum, cocoa liqueur, lime, cream and orange zest. Mmm mmm mmm!
  • Carrot cake and ginger wine (thanks mum!)
  • Exploring new places - this time Shropshire/Wales
  • Time to sit and read the paper with my parents
  • Being taken out as a surprise treat to see some amazing acoustic guitarists
  • Celebrating one year of marriage
  • A new friend
  • Sofa time with an old friend when you can talk about everything and anything
  • New-to-me jeans and bras that fit. woop - Thank you Mum's friend who always seems to be getting rid of clothes!
  • Walking with my Dad
  • Roast lamb (thanks Jean!)
  • Laughter and 'real talk' in our living room with people we love

Monday, 10 September 2012

Diaries of Down 3

So I have a few questions:


  • Am I depressed?  Do I have depression?  Am I a depressive?  Does the fact that I'm taking medication and it's making me feel better change how I describe IT?  Change the wording?



  • What about the days when everything goes back to grey despite the medication?  Does it make it even more serious?  Does it mean something isn't working?  Or is this just life?  The ups and downs.  Can't be OK all the time, can we??



  • Is the fact that I wake up tired despite hours of sleep linked to the dreams that I think are a side effect of the medication?  I've always dreamt lots and woken up remembering them every day, but I think they are even more vivid now.     Last night I dreamed about fighting evil postmen, being charged huge sums of money for painting green sparkly nail varnish on the wall of a community centre, delaying everyone at a service station because I couldn't pull my trousers down in order to go to the toilet, then being unable to walk due to a dodgy hip that I used to have as a baby.  The service station and carpark then transformed into a huge ship with the whole world on it.  A dictatorship infact, with an uknown ruler and unclear rules but the constant threat of real punishment.  So everyone lived in fear, food was scarce, and it got darker and darker.  Despite the fact that faith didn't seem to be allowed, me and Llewellyn went out on to the deck and started praying with tears running down our faces.  To our surprise, others started to join in with honest pleas.  Then I started singing, and a bunch of people I didn't know from different countries started joining in, running around the ship, dancing and singing with all our might.  We didn't know what the consequences were going to be, but in that moment, it didn't matter.

OK so the Batman film 'The dark Knight' clearly influenced some of this, along with road trips over the summer, and the fact that we no longer have our friendly postman in our new building.  But still, it all seems a bit dramatic and means I wake up feeling like I've spent the whole night tense and stressed.


  • How do I know when to stop taking Happy Pills.  To be honest, I am scared of what might happen when I do.  
  • Does there always have to be a REASON for depression?  Is taking medication an escape from facing up to it - whatever IT may be, because I'm pretty clueless to be honest.
OK enough questions for now.  I'll leave "Am I Crazy?" for another day ;-)


Feature at Farrago


There's me.  (Weird photo but hey ho.)
This is tonight...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Poisonwood Bible

I've just finished reading 'The Poisonwood Bible' by Barbara Kingsolver.  It's a book I've been meaning to read for years, and so when I saw it on the second hand book stall by the station, I grabbed it.  It's the first time in a while I've read a book that I didn't want to put down.  It's so thoughtfully and cleverly written.  It's about an American family of four daughters, their mother and their baptist-minister father going to live as missionaries in the Congo in the 1950s.  Each chapter is written from the perspective of each of the four daughters, with retrospective accounts from the mother.  To be honest it's a pretty devastating tale of the pride and mistakes of men, and their consequences. (OK and a whole lot more but you'll have to read the book!)

It's brought up a whole lot of thoughts, memories, questions and feelings.  Partly because of a few similarities between my family (the Pikes) and the family in the book (the Prices).  In 1999 the Pikes - mum, dad, and four daughters (2 of them twins, as with Leah and Adah Price) - left Basingstoke, England, for Mkushi, Zambia.  Actually pretty near to the border with the DRC.  We were also in that place for about 18 months, like the Prices, and our experiences affected us all in different ways.  It was nowhere near as dramatic as in the book, for one we weren't in the jungle living in a rural village, but in the middle of a large farm block living on the campus of a boarding school.  And we weren't there during the country's fight for independence.  Zambia has never gone through a war.  Instead we learnt about the slave trade, colonialism and empire in our history lessons.  As one of just a sprinkling of white people in my class, aged 12, I sat at the back of the room, sinking lower and lower into my chair, wishing I could disappear, wishing my skin was a different colour, unable to express any of this in words that didn't sound empty and pathetic.

That's what reading this book reminded me of.  I still want to better formulate my thoughts, but here is my 'straight off the bat', unedited response:


I wish I’d read this before.  Years and years ago.  Now it’s brought everything back.  The guilt.  The inescapable fact of being white.  The ‘Sins of the Fathers’.  I’m sorry.  Forever sorry.  I carry this on my back but I don’t know if its my burden to carry.  Sometimes I forget, other times it nearly squashes me to the ground.  It is of no use to feel guilty, some say.  What does it achieve except to lock you up, silence you?  Sometimes silence is best, yes.  Be quiet and listen.  Let the children speak, let the mothers speak, let the trees speak, let the ground and the skies speak of what they have seen, of what they have lost. 

Do I carry the guilt to comfort myself?  Is silence a pretence, a wish to disappear, for the ground to swallow me?  Does my guilt simply become another burden for others to suffer?  I don’t know how to be.

Best to forget.  No I don’t think so.  How can someone ever forget being forgotten.  Being abandoned?  Being treated as though their life is worth nothing?  So we should not forget.  Can we at least be unified in remembering?  There are no words.  No comfort I can give.

Will the future be different?  I have not seen it yet.  Will equality ever be a reality?  Revenge solves nothing but I understand.  How do you turn the other cheek when there are no cheeks left to turn?  All of them whipped, burnt, starved to death.  Greed continues.  Corruption continues.  We are the products of our history.  We have a choice to do things differently but the choice is hard to see in the midst of the pain.  The consequences of others gain.

Man has made so many mistakes.  How could we ever unpick this mess?  And so many of these in the name of God.  God who puts the little children at the front of the queue.  God who became nothing in order to save.  God who had dinner with the lowest of society.  How dare you label your actions with His name.  That is the ultimate taking his name in vain.  I don’t care about you swearing, I don’t care about language except for the labels you use for the actions you do.  Blood taints the hands of the church, pride distorts the fervour of missionaries, it wasn’t supposed to be about black and white, wrong and right.  How did you read the stories of grace and mercy as an excuse to impose your Western ways.

Where was the loving people as you love yourself?  Where was the humility, the service? 
I don’t understand.  But then things are always clearer in retrospect.  It could have been me.  It hurts me to say it, and I hope with all my heart that I would have stood against the tide of greedy clutching, superior correcting.  But what do I know?  I could have been there too.  

*I realise that a lot of good has been done by missionaries, and people who follow God, etc.  But right now I'm kind of overwhelmed by the wrongdoing.



Thursday, 23 August 2012

An ALARMing story

In memory of the flat we've just moved out of,  I thought I'd tell you a little story.  Some of you will have heard this story.  But you might like to hear it again anyways...

One sunny morning in early October last year, the newly-weds stirred slowly in their new bedroom in their new flat.  (In their not new, rather uncomfortable sofa bed.  But that's beside the point).  They'd only got back from honeymoon a couple of days before.  Hubby kindly offered to cook breakfast.  Wifey sat in the sunny living room, enjoying the big bay window looking out onto a quiet terraced street and the smells of bacon wafting down the hallway from the kitchen.  All of a sudden her sleepy reverie was rudely interrupted by the most hideously loud alarm you can imagine.  Wifey remembered the landlord showing them the control board for the fire alarm should it go off.  So she ran out the front door into the corridor of the building they shared with 3 other flats.  But the alarm was so loud that any trace of rational thought residing in her still half asleep brain was blasted to pieces.  She had no idea which buttons to press to silence the awful noise.  So wifey hurried back inside and gestured frantically for hubby to come and help.  He left the bacon on the hob and stepped out into the corridor.  As he stood in front of the control board, keying in the code, the front door slammed shut.  Husband and wife froze as the realisation of what this meant dawned on them.

They were locked out.

The alarm had now stopped,

but they were locked out.

And the bacon was still cooking.

And, to top it all off, hubby and wifey weren't exactly fully clothed.  After all they'd only recently got out of bed.  And it was a warm day.  Hubby was in a pair of boxers, and wifey was in a rather skimpy red specially-bought-for-the-wedding-night silky nighty.  Neglige, does one call it?

So there they were.  The 'happy couple', half naked, locked out, with the threat of an actual fire starting in their kitchen.  No mobile phone, no wallet, no shoes, no nothing.  I haven't told you yet that the reason for the alarm going off in the first place was a stupidly sensitive smoke/heat detector that the estate agents neglected to warn them about.

They tried ringing the bells of the other flats in the building.  No answer.  Hubby went next door to see if anyone there could help.  A kind neighbour eventually let him in and allowed Hubby to climb out of his window into the garden of the flat below us in the hope that Hubbycould then get in through our bedroom window.  The climb involved battling with a thorn tree and coming off worse for wear.  Only to discover that their bedroom window was way too high above the patio below to be of any help.  Back over the wall and the spiky plant and back into neighbour's flat.  Meanwhile Wifey was pacing up and down the front steps, swearing more than ever before in her life, not caring that the whole street could see her.  Hubby reappeared, baring scratched legs and dressing gowns from the neighbour to make the pair a little more decent.  They finally remember that something called the fire service existed.  And probably needed to be called.  Afterall there was a threat of a real fire starting in our kitchen.  Again kind-neighbour-man came to the rescue by letting them use his phone. The fire engine arrived a few minutes later, sirens blaring.

*How embarrassing*

Thankfully the firemen were helpful, and got into the flat without having to knock the door down.  PHEW.

And the bacon wasn't even burnt - just about ready for a tasty breakfast, which was definitely needed by then.

The couple were exhausted after the drama of the morning, and took a while to recover.  But it wasn't too long before they could see the funny side.  AND DETERMINED TO NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN AGAIN!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Photito




Just thought the blog was lacking a picture :-).  This is one taken at a Farrago Spanish and English Poetry night at the Poetry Cafe in London.  I went there a couple of weeks ago and had a great time.  John Paul (who took the photo) runs regular poetry slams in London (in fact Farrago are 'London's longest running Slam presenters).  They are always full of life and a great mix of poets.   At this event people read poems in both Spanish and English.  I met some really interesting and warm people and enjoyed the challenge of performing poetry in Spanish (not my own... haven't quite reached that point in grasping the language!).

Life is a rollercoaster you've just got to ride it.... (oh Ronan, you were better with the other 'zonal boys' than by yourself. I digress.)

Apologies for weird white background, having uh... technical difficulties...!

More on change...

This time, JOBS.  Oh and flats.

A few weeks ago, I was about to finish my job, having been made redundant.  To be honest, we were panicking a little about how we were going to pay the rent, because one salary doesn't cover everything here in dear old Brighton town.  I'd known for a while that changes were a'comin' in the summer, but July came upon us very quickly I felt.  I didn't even realise it was July until halfway through - successfully managing to miss the wedding anniversaries of the two couples closest to me.  Doh.

 I did apply for a few jobs, felt very hopeful, and as with all nearly all jobs I've applied for in the past 3 years, didn't even get an interview: ("Thank you for your application for our administrator post . Unfortunately on this occasion you were not successful in securing an interview. We had over 80 applications and those who were shortlisted all had over 15 years experience of working as administrators").  That's how it is now folks... 15 years experience required.  So there's no chance, is there??!!! 

Anyhow so yes I was panicking a bit.  And I made one decision based more on panic than anything else.  Which is never that wise.  But then there's also being sensible... ai ai ai that whole balance thing again.  It's always cropping up.

THEN, the situation changed, and in the space of less than a month I believe, we have moved out of our very expensive one bedroom flat, into a significantly cheaper one bedroom flat - shared with a friend (there's a big loft space!!!), which means that the pressure is lifted in terms of earnings vs rent-bills-tax-food-etc.  AND WE ARE EVEN CLOSER TO THE SEA.  Woop de dee this makes me happeee!

So back to jobs - change of flat meant maybe I could study that journalism course I've been thinking of for aaages.  And even got a place on the course despite not knowing the name of any publications I could possibly submit an article idea to (shame on me!  My grammar must have been good for them to accept me...).  But for some reason I didn't feel settled about it.  Even though it makes a whole lot of sense.  After 3 post graduate years of definitely not post graduate employment, it does seem like the time to do something 'proper'.  And part of me really really wants to (could go into whole other 1000 word rant/thought-train here, but I won't today!).  However, as I said, I had that not-peaceful feeling in my belly and couldn't shake it until I decided not to do the course.  After all I only want to commit that much time and money to something I'm 100% sure about.  It might sound funny but that 'feeling in my stomach' does guide a lot of my decisions in life, and I'm learning to trust it, because I kinda think it's God's way of helping me pick my way through a bazillion paths and choices.

It helped that my somewhat shaky, last-minute decision to stay working for the church has been bolstered a whole lot by the new office - which has a WINDOW, and I have my own desk, AND a computer that works.  Also I like the new building we're based in, and the fact that my job will be less hours and slightly different to what it was before.  They might sound like small things, but they make a big difference to me.

AND it doesn't end there - I was just getting my head round the fact that I might be working a lot less for the next few months, and trying to be OK with that, when I landed myself a pub job!  This time, taken because I have NO bar experience -and therefore no bad habits, apparently.  I'll write about my new role another time.  Let's just say I think I've got a lot to learn there, which is no bad thing.

So in the space of weeks, we've gone from flip-we-have-no-idea-how-we're-gonna-pay-the-rent-next-month... to a new flat (with a bedroom that has space on BOTH SIDES OF THE BED - no more being squished by Mr Q as he attempts to 'delicately' roll over me to get out of bed) and the prospect of being unemployed to lady of three very different jobs!

Suffice to say, we feel blessed.  We've been encouraged lots to trust God for provision, but it's a whole lot easier said than done.  I think I mainly expect to always be poor and struggling for pennies.  And life may well be like that again in the future.  But for now we'll be thankful.  And hopefully be generous with it too.