If we were having coffee, I would apologize for not being around so much recently. Being polite, you would ask what I’ve been up to, and I would say well, nothing much. However, on a flip-through of my journal for the month of April, the following is revealed:
LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED
I was sorting books (yet again) and found:
‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened‘ (Jenny Lawson)
“…she learns that life’s most absurd and humiliating moments, the ones we wish we could pretend had never happened, are the very same moments that make us who we are.”
I often get cold feet about my own blog. I do value it, so could try again with a simple coffee post.
KEEPING WHAT’S MOST PRECIOUS
I want to keep the large padded footstool if possible, and had the sudden impulse to stick a blue Post-It note on it. That reminded me of Frasier telling his father and brother to put labels on the things they most wanted to inherit. The father thought it was a bad idea, and refused, but Niles had great fun sticking labels everywhere.
Looking around the internet, I find a lot of people fall asleep during Blade Runner. I was no exception. When I woke I was very confused… I thought it was morning, and wondered if Mum had got up yet. I couldn’t remember seeing her today at all, or anything else that might have happened. Slowly it came back to me that she had indeed got up, and had done things like set the robohoover to work.
OUT OF THE LOOP
I’m disoriented these days. It’s intensified because small plans are mooted, then suddenly change and I’m not informed, and I find myself working towards something that’s not going to happen, or isn’t going to happen the way I think, which changes everything…. It’s funny how people leave you out of the loop, then look at you as though you’re the bat with crazy ideas.
A SIMPLE MISUNDERSTANDING INVOLVING COFFEE
Mum’s just got up from her nap and is drinking caffeine-free instant coffee. She hasn’t drunk instant for years, so that took me by surprise. I didn’t even realize it was caffeine-free… I just thought it was good thinking on her part to buy a replacement when I was about to run out. I ran out today… so (feeling somewhat cheated) I said “we need more.”
I now have a silver tin, while Mum has the gold. Why does ‘caff free’ get to be gold??
*SPOILER* — ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (A.I.)
Part-way through watching the Artificial Intelligence AI DVD on Mum’s TV while she was napping, which I’m not encouraged to do, I got tired minutes before she reappeared. I turned it off and left the TV on, so all she saw was snooker, which she’s still watching.
I love the teddy in AI… that’s why I bought it. The part of the story that’s painful is how the robo-boy has been imprinted on one human (his ‘mother’) and that’s an irreversible process, even though he’s likely to live a lot longer. If returned to Cybertronics after imprinting, they would have to destroy him. Rather than do that, they abandoned him in a wood with Teddy, and told him for his own safety not to go to Cybertronics or any large group of people.
But was that kind?
At the end of the film, it was easier for the boy to lose her forever while knowing he was loved, than to lose her heart and her mind… even knowing she was still alive somewhere. I didn’t understand that when I saw it before, but think now that I do.
Part of the problem with people now is that they expect perfection. All you need to do is check out one of those B&B TV reality shows… they knock marks off if there’s no TV or they have to share a bathroom, and they complain about dustbin men at 6 a.m.
Then there’s the perennial “there was a small spider in the corner.”
It makes you wonder.
EXPRESSING MYSELF… OR NOT!
I need to be consistent in myself, and that means doing what comes naturally to me. Saying what seems right to me. I’m confused enough without there being added confusion… an alien dynamic.
I run into fears I might overdo emails. After all, people are busy. Or they do all their communicating on diddly little iPod Shuffles. So I delay my responses, cut down a lot, and do so much self-editing that the authentic me isn’t coming though.
BRIEF FLASH OF ENLIGHTENMENT
From my horoscope for April 25:
“Nearly everyone seems on edge today…. Unfortunately, you could inadvertently kick a hornet’s nest if you are careless with your words. Author Pearl Cleage wrote, “Discomfort is always a necessary part of the process of enlightenment.””
Overnight I had a Eureka moment that I’ve since forgotten. I don’t know if it was real or dreamed…
I hoovered downstairs (and the stairs themselves) and polished the tables, and felt tired the whole time, as though doing it was little short of a nightmare! I hope that book about the art of Japanese tidying is right when it says that when you finally get your possessions down to a more manageable level and tidy them away into their designated spaces, keeping the whole house clean will be easier and more fun.
“Those items that bring you the most joy, such as your divorce certificate, should be kept in your power spot. Every house will have its own power spot. To find yours, close your eyes and joyously chant: “Where’s my power spot?” If the answer does not come to you then you aren’t chanting joyously enough.”
A little while ago my iMac failed… or rather, one small component in it failed, which means the whole 27″ 30.5 lb weight of it (and some of the software on it) is scrap. I used to paint in that corner; create and maintain databases, organize my photo collection, back up my iPad, listen to music…
I haven’t been there since the iMac failed, and have felt confused and disgruntled ever since. I got a new computer but haven’t turned it on. I don’t know if it will run the software I’m used to running, and the thought of installing it all over again makes me not want to go through the process at all. However, without that resource, I don’t feel ‘me’ any more.
It’s time I addressed that, and brought my ‘power spot’ back into play. Today.
HELPING THE GRASS GROW
The hill out the back gets manure put on it annually. You go out into the garden and it’s suddenly reeking. I have thought a few times the cats were overdoing it…
BOOKS AND HAPPINESS
A while ago when I suggested buying Sharpe books on Kindle for her birthday, Mum said no, she can’t concentrate enough on reading.
More recently, I took a pile of books downstairs to go to charity, and some time later thought “that’s funny, the pile looks smaller!” I peeked in Mum’s room, and she’d taken a book (The Vital Spark) and put it in her book rack.
That made me happy. 🙂
She’s also finished a slim library book by Ann Cleeves and bought herself a Kindle book.
It all makes me happy and I feel calmer. Also, today it was sunny. Rather cold, but the sun was gold on the trees and blossoms… just lovely.
I’ll miss it here.
I’m probably not the coolest person in iTunes tonight. I’m going through a pile of CDs to see whether or not I like them… many were charity shop gifts from Mum that I never got around to trying. Two CDs so far came back with the message ‘Couldn’t find the song titles online – do you still want to import them?’
I said “no” (I never fully saw the sense of importing them, except that it means I don’t have to get up and rootle through a mound of CDs when I want to hear Enola Gay by OMD. But what does it mean that they don’t have the song titles… that my CDs are not the hottest ones out there?? Twice in a row!)
I didn’t like the first CD (so let’s forget what it was) but I found myself enjoying the second… something I’ve never listened to in my life before, by a band that didn’t sound familiar… Quern in Concert 2. The other CD was too high-pitched for me, but Quern had good, strong, resonant notes and voices. Good, good. I relaxed. Then I came across something a bit spooky…
I’ve mentioned before how I keep getting ‘musak’ in my ears in default of anything else (could be the brain filling in where there’s no sound, or not enough to make sense of something). I had no idea where certain bright tunes came from, but I was halfway through Track 11 (Selection of Strathspeys) when my hair stood on end. That sound was definitely one of them. Track 12 was just as familiar (Scandinavian Touch), as was Track 13 (Music of French Canada).
Earlier, Track 10 (The Skylark) was familiar too, but not in the same way as the following tracks. Probably because it’s sweeter and less aggressive.
There must be some explanation… perhaps these are very common tunes, especially on TV and radio? Or in shops and cafes? I don’t know for sure where I’ve heard them before or why they haunt me so determinedly. I don’t think I do any sleep-playing of CDs! I asked Mum and sister if they play this music, and they both said “Quern? Never heard of them.”
To start with, I found myself reluctant to go through this pile of CDs I’d personally never heard of. I had no problem with anything new when I was younger — as far as I was concerned, music was music, and likely to be good. Nowadays I feel sure that CDs will be dull or inaudible — but so far I’m keeping more CDs from that pile than I’m ditching!
(Places Quern on the ‘keep’ pile. Especially love that Skylark…)
PS: It’s obvious what my cat Delilah thinks of the CDs. I was trying out The Stranglers, whose CD was in my ‘ho hum’ pile because the only song I liked on previous playings was Golden Brown… but now there are a couple more, like La Folie, so it’s still a keeper). Delilah listened with horror to the CD and stared at the psychedelic screensaver squirming and twisting… after five minutes of this, she turned round and hid her head under the curtain. I don’t think she will be going to The Stranglers in Concert any time soon…
I bought a few sale-price DVDs from Amazon.
Oh, I know, we are supposed to be decluttering, not recluttering. Part of the rationale, though, is that when the new ones turn up, I will be able to get rid of… ahem… at least a few videos.
There’s one film I’ve been craving for ages, and if it ever shows up on a non-subscription channel on TV, I’ve never been around to see it. The DVD was just under £6, but as it’s hard to get and I really liked it, I decided I’d go for it anyway. Popped it in my Amazon basket and went to look at a few other DVDs… added another, and the basket said:
“Important information: the price of an item has changed since you added it to your basket three minutes ago… your favourite DVD has come down from £5.97 to £3.08”.
Oh… thank you, Amazon. 🙂
Rushed to the checkout before they changed their minds.
Last night I dreamed I had been reminded (to my surprise) that I used to have two cats, but for some reason or another had given them to someone else. Couldn’t afford to keep them at the time… that was pure dreaming, as these cats did not exist in my life!
In the dream I was shown pictures and reminded how I had called one of them after Arthur Wendell, and everybody called him Art for short.
I struggled awake, saying “I can’t tell the blog about that; I can’t give the real names of my pets,” then woke up fully and realized I haven’t called a cat that anyway. I don’t know who Arthur Wendell is. It was in my mind that he was a historian, but I’ve not been reading or researching anything by anyone with that name.
It’s odd what falls out of the mind when you let it run around by itself. I know there used to be a white cat in a catfood commercial called Arthur.
I forgot all about the dream till my sister sent an email saying she had been trundling around today much as usual, then someone got in touch with her and said “hello, do you remember these two kittens you homed with me? I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked, but I thought you might like an update.” And sent some photos.
My sister was fascinated, and said she hadn’t thought about them in a while. I looked at the photos and said one of them had a particularly distinctive face.
“I don’t recognize that one at all,” she said.
“Are they right about him being one of yours? Are they sure a goblin didn’t snatch the real kitten and leave a changling?”
“I wondered. Perhaps I shouldn’t have called him Gobbolino,” she said. (His name was changed by the owners – when I made that remark, I didn’t even know what his name used to be!)
Late at night Mum went to bed, then came upstairs grumbling that some cat had peed on her bed and completely messed up her duvet. She got a blanket out of the cupboard and was about to take that downstairs when I reminded her there was a spare duvet draped on the sofa… it was clean and washed, and all she really needed to do was change the cover.
This is one of those rather distracting moments… you know that it’s a good thing to ‘travel light’ so to speak, and rather than hoard stuff, you should get used to discarding (or rehoming!) the things you do not personally need. Storing things up ‘just in case’ is supposed to be a no-no.
Much of the time that makes sense. When you keep all the things you might use, and then go looking for something when it finally might be useful, you can never find it because of all the other things you’ve kept just in case they’ll be useful.
After a long, hard struggle, you’re just getting used to this idea of a more ascetic life and are steeling yourself to discard more things… then life throws a spanner into the works, in the form of doubt. The duvet on the sofa was a spare one from my house that we didn’t have room for. There was no room left in any of the cupboards, or in the loft, or in my bedroom. I couldn’t bring myself to chuck it out, though, and it wasn’t quite new enough for a charity shop, so I put an old duvet cover on it (one I had been meaning to throw out of course, but was quite fond of because it went to university with me), and draped the whole lot over my sofa. To keep it clean and comfortable, and so I can crawl under it and watch the TV if it’s one of those days. Why not?
Don’t you think now that it’s a good thing I didn’t throw it out?
Well, having a spare duvet was probably one of our better ideas. The real bad idea is keeping all the stuff that shoved the spare duvet out of the wardrobe in the first place… but I don’t want to think about that too much. It just proves my priorities are possibly in the wrong place, and that’s even more depressing than being labelled a hoarder.
Iain’s book-related post Ordeals led me to the following reflections.
I tried very hard to read Old Mortality by Sir Walter Scott and couldn’t stick with it. Nor was I fond of the only Brontë books I ever read – Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. One classic I keep meaning to read is Middlemarch by George Eliot. It’s been staring reproachfully at me for 23 years.
Troublesome books aside, I recognize the formless, hungry desire to read everything as soon as it’s brought to mind. Only two days ago I was pining after The Wind in the Willows, which was being talked about on someone’s blog. I’ve read it more than once, but always feel I remember it imperfectly and need one more go to get it absolutely crystal clear. I feel that way about most books I’ve enjoyed.
Around the house are hundreds of books waiting their turn. I have four on the go right now… Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry, The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George (so heavy it makes your wrists ache), Know Your Cat by John Horsford Hickey and Priscilla Beach (dates from 1946) and a fourth book I’m keeping quiet about for now.
I have difficulty figuring out which to go for. I would read them simultaneously if I could, but settle for reading them in different rooms.
The only reason I didn’t say I was reading five books is that I stopped in the middle of Rest Upon the Wind by Gill Twissell. I kept waiting for it to start and couldn’t get interested in any of the characters. Possibly the novel came together further on, but I was exactly halfway through and still not hooked. It has five stars in Amazon so maybe I was just impatient; my experience of the book is the exact opposite of at least one UK reviewer’s.
Regarding something else the reviewers hinted at, I did get the feeling that the two main characters were the same, but I hadn’t (at that stage) spotted any overt suggestion of reincarnation. It could be that everything falls into place at a later point, but the blurred boundaries between the two women was one of the things that made it seem so monotone.
Moving on to reading sources, my main difficulty with libraries is that I never remember to return the books until the deadline. I’ve had to walk to town and back when my plans for the day did not involve going out. That’s a real shortcut to putting me in a foul mood, especially when I’ve not finished reading. I could renew, but usually feel I might as well get rid of them now, as they would only drag me out again at a later date.
Bought books, on the other hand, can be returned to the general reading pool at my leisure. Foul moods neatly sidestepped – till the next thing goes wrong.
As for not cluttering up the house with books I’ve read and enjoyed – that’s something I’m really struggling with. It’s fine to pass the more ordinary paperbacks to charity or to someone else, but I tend to want to keep the ones I liked. Such as Brother Odd by Dean Koontz – it’s sitting in my bookcase, flanked by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.
One way I’ve got round my reluctance is to pass the best books to my sister. I don’t even give her the chance to refuse them – I just give her a bag of books and say “these were very good – that’s why I picked them out.” I feel then that they’re still in the family, being enjoyed by someone else. I know it doesn’t stop there, but I don’t have to think about them any more. Either she reads them or she doesn’t; she keeps them or passes them on. I’ll never know, and I don’t particularly want to.
As for the Odd books by Dean Koontz… the aim is to collect them all and then give them to my sister with the words “these are wonderful, you’re not allowed to not read them.” Gives me the excuse to hang on to them a little longer…