GRUMPY OLD WOMEN

If you know me (and if you do- aren’t you blessed!?!) then you’ll know there is one occupation of mine that takes up a rather large chunk of the limited amount of sunlight we get in this United Kingdom of Shitheads: I rant. A lot. Yet, my country (England) is known for being very, painstakingly polite… whilst decimating cultures and livelihoods across the globe. As you may sense, this political cultivation of elegance and grace has not caught on in the skull of M.G.B. I do not understand why we find farting in public so horrifying (remember the doctrine- ‘wherever you may be let your winds blow free’), yet for around 400 years we found the public degradation of a whole continent perfectly respectable?Why- Lord Nelson was so polite and patriotic in his support of slavery that we have given him a fucking 50ft. column to celebrate his militaristic racism! Long live that good old sense of propriety!

We like to believe that Britishness is all cricket whites on a summer green playing tiddlywinks with Annabelle, sipping on Pims for the glory of  ‘democracy’ whilst training our beloved pet dogs to curtsy. In reality, all we have is sun-burnt football hooligans with union jack scarves tied on-top of bald patches whilst they spittle their pints all over the place, belching about THOSE FUCKING (*insert racist/ misogynistic ect… intolerant stereotyping of a group here*). Basically: England and it’s history of (white) people haven’t got a fucking clue. I know I haven’t got a fucking clue either- but at least I don’t pretend to know with a silver spoon up my bottom; and if I do sound cocky in my announcement of ignorance, so be it.

I know that ranting doesn’t change the world (let us see the Suffragette wisdom- ‘deeds not words’), but it’s at least a bloody place to start isn’t it? It strikes me that the white patriarch in his tweed can rant and rave all he wants in the golf club man-cave about whatever new minority is causing his stocks to collapse; or, on the flip side of Britishness, the tired everyman in Wetherspoons who will happily drink German beer, but when faced with the prospect of multiculturalism and difference wants a Tardis trip back to D-Day so he can once again defend our precious cliffs.

It annoys me that people rant about the wrong things, because ranting for a good purpose can be a very cathartic and inspiring action. I begin my tirades, and I see a look of quizzical glee in their eyes: ohhh haha doesn’t she get her knickers in a twist?!? Or even worse, the dead-eyes that say: you’re wasting your breath. You are a small fish in a big pond, give up and join the rest of us in our day-time TV acquiescence towards the suffering of others.

WHY ARE MEN ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN AND NOT BE TOLD THEY ARE NAGGING? WHY AM I MADE TO FEEL SO FUTILE AND POWERLESS WHEN TRYING TO DISCUSS PROBLEMS THAT NEED TO BE CHANGED? WHY IS INJUSTICE ALLOWED TO BE SILENTLY ACCEPTED BY LITERALLY EVERY FACET OF SOCIETY, BUT WHEN SOMEBODY SPEAKS UP- IT IS THEM WHO IS IN THE WRONG?!?!

However, there is one person who saturates themselves with as much verbal ammunition to rain upon the barminess of the world as myself. My grandma. Okay- whilst her specialties include the woes of road potholes and carpet stains, rather than my métier consisting of the structural oppressions and aggressions of our white, abelist, heterosexual, phallogocentric, imperial, fatphobic, nationalistic patriarchy in the west (i’m getting riled up, can you tell?). Together we are the grumpy women of breakfast. Presiding over the Guardian and bowls porridge tutting away and adding our own commentary to the morning news. We listen to each other, and I think that’s the point. Yes, the world incessantly depresses us all as we collectively melt the ice caps and let migrants die with not one government actually giving a damn; but at least being able to say so without fear of being ostracized or labelled the family communist next Christmas dinner makes it all feel a little more manageable.

I don’t wanna be the grim reaper of news when I walk into a room and depress people with my rants, but I do find apathy, or even outright poo-pooing from others is a whole lot less depressing than biting my tongue the whole time and hoping it will all go away. I just hope these words don’t stay words, but that one day they will be a part of the plan for us all to help one another a bit more; without yawning half-way through some-ones dissection of whatever thing it is they’re trying to wrestle with for the better.

BRAIN ENGAGES, LET THE PARTY BEGIN!

Anxiety is a fickle mistress. One moment she can’t give a toss and is out trying to bed every Tom, Dick and Harry in Christendom; the next moment, there she is slap-bang on my doorstep with a bunch of cheap gas station roses and chocolates I don’t like. I could tell her to get lost… but then again, that would be like smashing a mirror, or deleting my own phone number. Useless. I am still here. She is still here.

If you didn’t guess by now- she is still here because she is me.

I keep forgetting that anxiety doesn’t really ‘get better‘- despite the cliched metaphor, I must say it. Anxiety changes like the weather. It is a slow rumbling of a realization to reach the point where you know there is actually a name for the hot-sticky fear gumming up your brain, and unfortunately, at least for me- I see no quick fix miracle for a fully-anxiety free future.

You may have a clue of what will trigger you to start worrying, but without good coping mechanisms and support- that trigger can turn into a full blown shoot-out. Personally, I’ve noticed three things that make me wanna smoke all my fingers like zoots: the prospect of evening/sleep, large crowds and THE FUTURE!!!!

aha I know the last one is quite dramatic, but it is sincere. Yet, I don’t want to unpick and examine all the affecting psychological complexities that perpetuate my anxiety and resulting bad behaviors; but to try to outline how I know when I’m thinking/worrying too much (verging on a panic attack), and just some lil’ tips of how to soothe that troubled lost-child soul, whoever you are.

STAGE ONE- BRAIN ENGAGES, LET THE PARTY BEGIN!: “OH HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE STRANGERS THINKING WHAT THE FUCK AM I THINKING THE FUCK AM I DOING I DON’T DESERVE TO BE HERE WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING WHAT IS THIS WORLD WHERE IS THE NEXT CRUELTY WHY WHY WHY…”

When I say, BRAIN ENGAGES, I am relating a semi-accurate recording of my neurons when they start to get boiled. But all jokes aside, having a panic attack really isn’t fun, and for all those who don’t take them seriously or whatever- SUCK MY TITTIES! 

Normally I feel my body get hotter, it will be harder to concentrate and (especially in crowded places that I don’t know so well) become more disorientating to try and find your way round- which really doesn’t help the incessant throes of inadequacy tossing around in the noggin’s mental soup. But,when I’m at home and feel anxiety coming, I annoy everyone in the vicinity by pacing round and round, wringing my hands and finding it impossible to not tap my feet.

It gets more serious when my breathing gets shallow, the tears flow uncontrollably and my hands cramp up real bad like pins and needles. It starts in the hands, but can travel. Sometimes it gets so intense I won’t be able to walk or move properly at all, I’ll just be a tightening ball of tears and rasping. It is humiliating (especially on public transport).  It is painful- both physically, but more mentally. I feel ashamed and embarrassed of what everyone else must think: “What a wimp”.

But anxiety and I (and yourselves, oh my beloveds) need to stay in my/our lane: you will never know what another person is thinking. It isn’t their heart or emotions or brain or life, so try to be kinder and as my grandma would say: “do attempt to restore some order”.

If your hands are cramping, do all you can to ease them- try pulling the fingers apart or sit on them to stop them seizing up again. Take deep, slow, measured breaths, close your eyes and think of the person/ animal/place that makes you feel the most at ease and sure of yourself. I would recommend trying to call a loved one if it’s possible; if not, and you’re shy and don’t want to ask strangers for help (I try to be trusting, but sometimes you need your own zone) try to find a secluded area that is safe but quite peopleless, and let those waterworks be free from observation whilst you try to get it together.

Keep reassuring yourself if you’re alone that it will all be alright. The truth shifts and changes, reality isn’t forever. You are trying and you are loved. You are not evil and you can love. Be your own cheerleader- but more gentle, sans the irritating valley girl accent and sickening pompoms all rustling like binbags.

 

I am only talking from personal experience, and I’m sure there must be attacks way worse than what I have had to cope with. So if my tips aren’t useful, I am sorry- But if your’e comfortable, please feel free to share your own tips/experiences feelings. (I want to make friends!)

Critical thinking, sky-musing and bad-ass rhetoric are my jam. But if this mental problem-solving is causing you occasional strife, it perhaps doesn’t make you a wimp or uncaring to not see all the atrocities of the world as soon as you awaken, which could possibly put you on edge from the time you finish your coco-pops to when University Challenge comes on (and the team you wanted to win, lose- obviously.) At the end of the day, worrying is just caring too much. There is nothing wrong with caring (goddammit, the world needs more caring people), but if you want to live a life of love and really make a difference to all the people and problems you want to help, you gotta love yourself first. I feel like such a hypocrite typing that as I still routinely hate myself on a daily basis. But I am trying. And that is what matters.

So, to return to you: you gotta do what makes you happy because when you are happy is when you’re truly alive. Shindig to Presley in your knickers. Kiss a snail (maybe not, are they germy?) Call your grandma and talk about what singer she fancied when she was 15. Write out your feelings in haiku or acrostic form and then perform it for your dogs (to clarify- I’ve never read my own poems to my dogs) Hell- watch fucking Dick and Dom in the Bungalow with a zoot and some ovaltine. YOU DO YOU BABES!!!! and your’e not being selfish or lazy or stupid. You are being happy and not self-destructive. This is good. Repeat and repeat (whilst not neglecting ‘adult’ duties or defining fun as exclusively additive substances – haha)

Sending all my love to those who struggle with anxiety, any difficulty or disability that makes life a bit more of a slog. We will be alright. 

xoxosxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxo

mind fart

I promised I would start making writing on here more structured. Being an anxious drama queen who soothes fears of inadequacy and failure by completely ignoring or avoiding the offending threat, often means this blog is neglected whilst I swerve my attention to less sustainable lifestyle choices… I shall not digress further. But, despite just claiming that I want to make this space more structured and reliable for posting content which actually has a clear intention; today’s post shall be a ramble. A mind shamble like a beach walk through London gutters filled with alligators and pink rivers. A big old bramble of ideas or something like that which I thought of when I was probably a bit high, and probably just a littleee bit sad or worried. But always hopeful- and today’s post is about hope and how I thought maybe we could not let it crush us with its brightness and potential big and heavy as whale smiles. A thought about hope that is catered to the inevitable failures of this capitalist, racist, misogynistic, anthropocentric world (so many words- not enough people to hear me…)

Basically, my brain thought thus: Just because your dream worlds cannot be replicated in the materiality/ reality around you, does not make them any less valuable or less real- they still are a part of you and the life/ lives your body encounters living each day. Don’t expect your dreams to be a plot for the success of your life, let them already be your life- let imagination and surreality all slither and intoxicate and wedge themselves into the drudge-space of other eyes deciding who you are- let your goals and thoughts and ideas (even worries, that you can constructively and conceivably change) that make you feel  sincerely content bathe you in obscurity. Be obscure and so wrapped up in your hopes that it doesn’t matter if the rest of the world doesn’t notice/ care/ is insane/cruel/ unfathomable. ask yourself what your REAL dreams are and why (world peace or slimming down to a size 8) – if they even are your dreams originally in the first place and who you would be with no one to see/ experience your being…

Don’t expect the material conditions and circumstances of your present life be the end product of what your mind is capable of. The mind is more hopeful with its energies and movements and imaginations than the actual weight of the world with its limited resources and space and time can achieve.

Basically (I hope I don’t sound preachy, if so- my sincerest apologies): Let your mind colour your life and live submerged in that colour simultaneously. be your own rose tinted glasses and know the world is only as beautiful as you can conceive it to be. BE A WIERDO DREAMING NERD FOREVER!!!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxxoxox

Pocket Revolutionaries

Survival is difficult. I don’t mean Bear Gyrlls macho survival skills eating maggots or sleeping in a goat carcas. I mean the endurance of being able to wake up every day without instantly loosing hope in the world we inhabit as soon as your eyes scan the news. As soon as all the misogynistic/ racist/ classist/ general unwarranted cruelties all come to light, and you’re told “That’s just the way things are“.

I know that worrying about abuse and violence doesn’t prevent people suffering, but thinking is a start and the more you imagine the lives of others, the more unfathomable it seems to be able to ignore all the pain. Not imagining in some wierd voyeuristic, self-righteous way; I just mean, the more you think of others, the more potential for inciting a change of attitudes- which then hopefully leads to a decrease in the shittery that is ‘human nature’. 

This morning I woke up and did the mundane task of reading the newspaper with my orange juice ( I sound so bougie lol- its just my grandma likes to get the good old broadsheets still in their big flapping wings of paper). There was Windrush. There was the murder of Kim Wall (may you forever rest in peace xoxo). There were ambulance staff being sexually assulted and people in Nicaragua killed. The world is so beautiful because of it’s diversity; but this diversity and the incessantly shifting natures behind the diversity also means a huge pick’n’mix of the absolute worst parts of what we are capable of too. Reading all the stories didn’t armour me a thicker skin of acceptance, I didn’t try to make it make sense: I cried.

Crying is seen as something wimpy and that you should only do if absolutley nobody can see. Nope. Not for me. There’s nothing strong in denying, of repressing terror and fear in the name of blind comfort. Crying just means you care, a lot- and caring a lot is definatley something this world needs more of. But to return to my previous point: worrying incessantly does nothing to help those people whose lives you are invested in wanting to help. Putting obvious activism aside (‘obvious’= joining political parties, starting your own grass roots groups, protesting, donating to causes and signing petitions/ nagging politicans), I would like to propose another kind of activism that helps one cope with the world’s miseries without becoming an angry, detached, disillusioned shell: pocket revolution. The small, yet so so so necessary acts of kindness and understanding  that make the world- well, at least your patch of it- better.

POCKET REVOLUTION- my grandma hugging, not telling me off for being ‘too involved‘ with what I see in the world when I cry to the morning paper. The kind man who gave me a pink geranium after grandma and I admired his Tulips. It is smiling when the dogs cover me in dirty river water, not shouting at them. The mother whose pram I helped carry down the tube steps despite rushing crowds and the little girl who I made smile when I was feeding pidgins. Basically: not being afraid of strangers. Not being afraid to be childish and silly, or afriad to be the first one to say sorry. It is complimenting strangers and smiling because if Donald Trump/ Amber Rudd/ Theresa May/ Kim Jong Twat can hate people for no reason, then I am going to fucking try my very hardest to love people for no reason other than the fact you breathe and feel and eat and shit pretty much the same as me; but with a lot of interesting details I have no idea about (and that I would love to get to know over a cup of tea sometime).

I know I probably sound very righteous and I haven’t come up with any break through political rhetoric to destroy the montser of patriachal imperial capitalism… But I tried. And that is the point. We should at least try to try.

I was at the train station reading some poems after the newspaper, and the one I want to share is another example of what I would call pocket revolution by a Ghanaian poet, Joe De Graft called ‘An Un-African Breakfast’. His positivity made me feel stronger, and so I would love to spread the loveeee further. (it also kinda reminded me of my boyfriend in how happy Joe sounded despite all the world’s various brands of cruelty- both he and my luv are definatley pocket revolutionaries) xxoxoxoxoxoxox

AN UN-AFRICAN BREAKFAST 

So here I am this morning
Early in the Kitchen.

The aroma of fresh coffee on the boil,
Nose-filling aroma of good fresh coffee
on the boil;
And this kitchen is good to be in
And good to hear the browning water
babble-bubbling inside the glass-trap
head of the percolator;
And the good wife still asleep in her vono bed
Dreaming good dreams, I hope,
Of me!

All night the tummy hasn’t been well,
Running like it wanted nothing more
to do with me for eating what I
do not know-
All night a running tummy;
Till at last out of weariness
I drop into oblivion between 4 and 5
Quite unknowing –
Deep oblivion
Sweet as feathers…

Then crash out of nowhere
The white day comes bursting in
Through frosted louvres…..

And its good to be alive!

Good indeed to be alive,
So thank we god
For everything,
And the myriad sparrows
Chirrupping in the fresh morning sun outside
While the percolator bubbles……

(The poem is quite long, I can’t type the whole poem out but I highly highly highllllyyyy recommend reading his poetry, they are soul food)

Tonight is my last night at home since the summer holidays began before going back to uni in Canterbury for my final year. It is mixed emotions, a subtle blend and balance of excitement filtered through with slight wishes for home routines to stay.

It is always hard making a change, be them little or large- but no change will ever seem so frightening as how my mind was fretting the night before the first ever day of university. The transition down to Kent wasn’t helped by a 2 hour traffic jam; made slightly more entertaining by a troupe of drunken football fans wandering between the cars, slurring around half formed conversation starters. I guess nothing is ever perfect, you’ve just got to just roll with it- accept the swaps: no longer shall your dreams of arriving early and without blustering be true; but still, at least try to laugh on the M11. 

Right now, the thought of not cuddling Pogo and Nelson each day, of not goofing around with my sister or reading books snuggled in my room late at night, are sobering losses to contend. But, with every down there is an up: I shall see my friends again tommorow, and Canterbury- a city I have come to really love living in. The term will begin and that means time to write poems and read more books- life never stops giving, it just doesn’t keep giving the same things.

Here is baby Pogo (AKA Satan) asleep on my butt after cuddles ❤️

But that makes me think more- does life GIVE, or do we make actions to GET; for better or worse? I guess the only way to find out is to make changes.

Today’s poem isn’t really a poem, but a song. For my 21st birthday, Dad brought me a collection of CD’s by one of the world’s most tender and beautiful folk singers- Sandy Denny. “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” is a bittersweet ballad of love and loss and how it feels like an evening sky, full of colours like stained glass windows or jewels. I am sorry to leave home, but it is a comfort to know who and where I’m leaving won’t forget me, no matter how many changes I make. 

Who Knows Where the Time Goes 

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving.

But how can they know it’s time for them to go?

Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming. I have no thought of time

For who knows where the time goes? Who knows where the time goes?

Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving

Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go

But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving. I do not count the time

For who knows where the time goes?Who knows where the time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me. I know it will be so until it’s time to go

So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again 

I have no fear of time



3 Types of loss

Loss is a sprawling hurt. I thought about three types of loss for just this moment – the good kind, the unexpected kind, and the bittersweet kind.

The Good Kind

Today I finally felt anger instead of limp sadness thinking of my ex-first-boyrfriend. I won’t go into details, but I finally said enough: you can leave now. All the emotional twistings of intent and hope into confusion and shittiness. How I felt guilty for not being good enough, too much to handle and plain wrong. NO MORE I AM WORTHY OF LOVE MOST OF ALL FROM MYSELF I WILL NO LONGER CRY ABOUT A PERSON WHO ONLY LIKED ME WHEN I WAS WHAT HE WANTED. This is a good kind of loss, like spring cleaning. I hope my heart stays this buyount floating on its own Island.

The Unexpected Kind

I thought I lost my small dog Pogo today. She ran into some thorny undergrowth and wouldn’t come when I called her name. I screamed and shouted and climbed through mud and cow poos to try to find her. I couldn’t believe it was happening- she could be eaten by a fox, out on the railway or scampering in a new field I couldn’t reach. Luckily I found her, unluckily I had to chase her again at top speed to finally grab her. This loss was brief but powerful, it made me love and loathe her at the same time. Lesson: Keep small naughty dogs on their leashes.

The Bittersweet Kind

Soon I have to go back to university- whilst this prospect of seeing all my friends again and beggining my course is very exciting, I shall miss what I’m leaving here for a while. My blue book case, the thick walls of my bedroom, my family and pets, the walks near my house and a plentifully stocked fridge. These losses are reoccuring, but I know when I leave home shan’t vanish. It will be a speck that is a big size in my brain to be reached by train and rail.

On this note, today’s poem is the one that reminds me of my sister when I first had to leave for uni- my sister said loss is

 

just not having things. Even when we’re apart, I never lose my sister xoxoxoxo

IMG_0096

Leaving and Leaving You

 

When I leave you postcode and your commuting station,
When I left undone all the things we planned to do
You may feel you have been left by association
But there is leaving and leaving you.

When I leave your town and the club that you belong to,
When I leave without much warning or much regret,
Remember, there’s doing wrong and there’s doing wrong to
You, which I’ll never do and I haven’t yet,

And when I have gone, remember that in weighing
Everything up, from love to a cheaper rent,
You were all the reasons I thought of staying,
And none of the reasons why I went

And although I leave your sight and I leave your setting,
And our separation is soon to be a fact,
Though you stand beside what I’m leaving and forgetting,
I’m not leaving you, not if motive makes the act.

Sophie Hannah