TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- ORLANDO!!!

When I made an instagram page to promote this blog (@tomboypress), I started a feature called Tomboy Bookclub (including cute pictures of my animal companions and what I think they would say aha). I gave my general opinions on books I had read and liked, they weren’t indepth at all- so I’ve decided to bring the feature PROPERLY here, and to start a-fresh with the book that incubated it all… ORLANDO!!! A classic with changing genders, Woolf hounds (see what I did there- aha), poetry written in berries and a life that lasts 400 years!

This Woolfian mock-biography is known as one of the longest love letters in literary history, and knowing that tid-bit does make reading more endearing- get rid of all the indepth analysis that can be done on Orlando’s sprawling ancient mansion, or the cryptic scene of their gender swap, and even if you don’t understand all the wierdness of the book, it’s still interesting to imagine the similarities between Vita ( Virginia’s lover aside from Leonard, and her inspiration for this book) and Orlando; what Virginia noticed and remembered about her to later transform into further fictions.

The elements of this book that interest me most- aside from it’s beautiful prose and hilarious narrative in general- are the ways it presents the natural world in its relation with human emotion. How as a youth up until the last chapter, Orlando returns to their favourite Oak tree to try and spit out the truth of their heart’s love; rewriting, scribbling over old lines to make an almost illegible Ode. Yet, in settings of their courtly mansion or in town, Orlando changes subtly from the romantic poet, to the aloof yet popular socialite with a reputation for public grandeur and wealth- not hiding in tree trunks. Despite the huge changes of gender and historical era Orlando experiences, I still kind of feel the biggest changes in Orlando come with the tensions of public status in their community VS what Orlanndo actually wants to express when in the clear-mindedness of reflection in nature.

For example, Orlando never really feels the urge/ desperation/obligation to marry (despite forlorn hankerings for romance) until the Victorian era. But one day, they freak out and declare they will only be nature’s bride. It is at this moment, the moment of resolute decision in the wilds of wind and moss, that Orlando’s future paradoxically swings in the other direction. Love on horseback arrives, and the rest is history. I think the point Woolf is trying to make is that of individuality. That we all MUST hang onto the quirks and stubbornesses and wills of our personality in order to maintain that ‘true’-self that will be loved, BUT… AT THE SAME TIME we have to understand how we as individuals fit into a larger order where others’ plans intercept our own. What we deem ‘morally right’ or ‘important’ or ‘necessary’ for ourselves doesn’t mean a rats ass to how the big guys think this place should be run. We have to adapt and hide what is wild to survive- but never, ever loose the core of dreaming which is what we suvive for. Don’t worry though; even though Orlando does marry, it isn’t written in a traditional way and in my opinion, doesn’t take away from any radical queerness. I don’t think finding a love that fits life diminishes their character in any way.

I won’t lie and say it is a straight-forward read, because for Woolf’s wit and elegance to truly be enjoyed you can’t just guzzle the words without tasting them. It isn’t a traditional or predictable story at all, but I think just the sheer quirkiness of the story and it’s characters means even if you don’t fully understand a fancy-shmancy sub-plot or how what is happening is even logically possible (trust- it is a wonderfully wierd book); sometimes it’s better to give yourself over to nonsense. The stranger things are, the more room for imaginative reasonings and resonations- the world needs people thinking outside the box!!!!

Give Orlando a quick google if I still haven’t sold it to you! But if you’ve read the book let me know and we can have a geeky chat about it!!!!

To finish, I shall leave you with a quote… nothing profound xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

“… clumsiness is often mated with a love of solitude.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Pride (in yourself)

I feel it’s always worse to be sad when it’s sunny outside. When the weather corroborates your feelings with its grim drizzle and thrashing winds, it makes sense why you feel bad for no reason because, really– who can explain the weather away ? But when it’s sunny, I just feel so guilty; here are the gods in all their glories working to give beauty to life with their pollens and light rays- and I can’t feel a thing. Not a speck of summer hits the skin and tears blend with the sweat in some awful bodily cocktail. But the best thing about the weather is it’s changes; how you bless the day you’re given and hope it will last for as long as it can. The cliche of emotions being like the weather is cheesy as hell, but it is true.

I’ve been feeling BLEH for a while; a conglomeration of university ending, friends falling apart like the blown petals of flowers, and a sense of unceasing unimportance and confusion. But, it helps to get a little perspective. I saw one of my old friends yesterday who often also feels BLEH, but feeling BLEH together is actually the way to end BLEH, funnily enough. We went to a queer film screening in our hometown to celebrate pride month, and seeing so many stories of love denied, or mutilated, or hidden or so happy it could die was as uplifting as it was soberly life affirming in the different scales and durations in facing the problems we’re thrown. I’m not saying that all suffering is the same, or trying to erase lgbtqi+ narratives back into the soup of heteronormative obscurity, where specific and ignored problems are straightjacketed back into the confines of societal ignorance: I’m just saying, listen to others. You’ll learn a whole new way to see your own pain, and hopefully be able to help the other person/people too.

One of my favourite short films was about a trans kid called Nasser. Their mum keeps trying (in good faith, she isn’t trying to be horrible) to make them wear dresses, to have their unruly hair down; but all Nasser wants to do is eat crisps with their friends in their hideaway and to fix bikes with their dad. Not everyone knows what it’s like to feel wrong in their body, to feel trapped in your vision of yourself and what the world sees and dictates. But, I’m sure everyone, at least once, has wished they could be someone else- has wished to escape and exist in another’s body and life. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel shitty. And here is my point: listen. Nobody expects you to have the world answers or to be born with the heart of mother theresa. It is hard fucking work being tolerant and not judging, but it is so necessary. I really don’t want this world falling into a heap of depressed floppy bodies, all too lazy to learn how to love. Slipping back into the amnesia of claustraphobic understandings of life as an object, rather than a thing that’s always moving. The shadows as they play on curtains. The taste of chocolate as its sweetness hits you, then mellows away. The dragonfly’s one day.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful pride month, doing everything you can to support and give back to the lgbtqi+ community as an ally; or celebrating your love wherever you can to uplift others less fortuante to be romantic in their own countries (it pisses the hell out of me how most commonwealth countries still uphold homophobic laws- THANK YOU EVIL BRITISH EMPIRE AND YOUR PUTRID INFLUENCES THAT REMAIN). I am planning to go to Pride in London this Saturday, so yay! But if you still haven’t signed any petitions, made any donations or at least educated yourself a little about the lgbtqi+ community and how to rid injustices against them in the wider community (and also to rid the community internally of intolerance)- there is always time. And caring for others is the best way to care for yourself. love is a human right .JPG

XOXOXOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXOXOXOOXXOXOOXXOXOXOXOXO

PS- obviously don’t tear your soul to shreds trying to make everyone happy. You do what you can, and you understand that you’re amazing even if you can’t make the whole world love you as you wished. :))))))

The film event was run by CINE-SISTER. You can find them @CineSisterFilm on twitter. Give them a follow!!!!!

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.

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)

WASHPOPPINNN!!!!

HELLO INTERNET, LONG TIME NO SEE!!!!!

I have returned after a long hiatus finishing my undergraduate degree to now pursue the infinite love of poetry to it’s lair… and the road I’m using through today’s brambles and briars was weaved with a fake pair of tits and voice screaming out for the schmoneys; cause’ I’m the bitch they love to hate, the bitch they hate to love.

Yes- Cardi B is poetry. She may seem a somewhat rough-edged muse, but what else is poetry written for if not rude survival; good poetry is not for the faint of heart, and neither is Cardi B’s rapping. She inspires the fuck out of me. As, despite all the inevitable horrid comments made about her body and person – whether as stripper, or now-  despite the potential for silence and conformity and blind-eyed chasing for money, Cardi decided to try for something better. Horniness for money isn’t her greatest charm; though I do love the idea of her shaking her beautiful ass in front of boring men and taking all their dollar, but the sustained capacity she displays for kindness.

YES I KNOW SHE BECAME FAMOUS FOR BEING LOUD AND VOILENT AND PETTY ON REALITY TV AND VINES- but don’t we all have to be petty to get along? And every one can grow and change. Plus, to be fair- her wild eyed flaring up is pretty cathartic to watch for me; if only I could cuss all the people in life who deserve it like she can. I thank you Cardi: for being funny with no make-up on and signing about love with her rapper zaddy. For getting pregnant and still playing the Coachella stage. I fucking dig how she believes in love, how she’s a trap-romantic. I love how she puts love and money back in the strip club (I bet she pays the girls well) and how proud she is of the Bronx when many people would just call her ratchet. Well, perhaps ratchet is code for alarmingly brave and threatening to patriarchal capitalist hegemony. lol.

I’m not saying that Cardi is perfect, or that she is some kind of socialist activist hiding her sickle under all those diamonds: promoting gang culture isn’t cool, nor can Transphobia be tolerated, but who can say they are perfect? and I hope as she matures and grows with her child, some of the less than radical views will change.

When the world starts to make me want to lay down and die: Theresa May (her lizard bowl cut repulses me- not that physical appearnce is at all the most alarming element of her demonhood) and Amber Rudd’s disgusting immigration policies, the bombing of Syria, Donald fucking Trump and his spray tanned fascism… I imagine Cardi and think, LITTLE BITCH YOU CAN’T FUCK WITH ME IF YOU WANTED TO.

I am returning to this blog with the intention to try and be a little more like Cardi B. To write and write and write like she laughs and raps and is generally very resilient. I want to share poems on here, reviews of books, general thoughts AND…. to promote my first book!!!!!!

So, I thank you for reading this post, and I hope you return here again in the future!!! For now, the poem I want to share is by Eboni Hogan, giving us some black girl magic with her poem ‘Cardi B Tells Me about Myself’.

Cardi B Tells Me about Myself

Dear Frustrated in Flatbush,
Gurl, just go on ahead then.
You waiting for your Daddy
to give you the thumbs up?
Do what you like.
Do what makes your ass happy.
They gon’ call you all makes
and sizes of hoe anyway.
That’s how this thing been set up.
But just cuz they name a thing a thing,
don’t mean it ain’t still named God
in some other language.

Your fortune cookie say you poppin’.
You a full spread of good shit.
Your rotten wisdom tooth.
Your pockmarked shoulders.
Those eyelashes ain’t come here
to talk about the weather.
You the hottest day in July
and every fire hydrant in this city
is written out to your name.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOOXOXOXOXOXOXOXXOOXOXXOXO

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