Monday, 26 September 2011

gratuity marks

I think Mondays are inherently difficult. (Especially this one--this one which was so much about fighting those first-day nerves).

So I'm making a little vow to keep things positive. To dedicate Monday's posts to hopes for the future, say, or gratuity lists.

So, this week I'm thankful for:

breakfast in bed and the boy who brings me it (I don't think he knows just how loving or sexy a gesture this is*)

a £10 tea-bill (it's an afternoon well spent)

animal pattern (because I have my eye on a cat cardigan--and a sister whose niche it is to draw)

movie-dates (mostly with my love)

the feeling of fall creeping in (and it's colour--it's beautiful, beautiful colour)

children's books (because I get to read them all semester)

postcards (because there is just so much to love)

bike-rides (although they hurt and aren't yet mastered, I am proud I can)

and: the blogosphere (because I hate the 'word', but I love the kindness).

Is there anything you'd like to share to beat those Monday blues?

*He makes me the happiest.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

on education and staying in it

Things feel a little different, this year. They feel much more poignant and appreciated--in many ways, much more settled and real.

This walk back into school--this metaphorical walk back into school--is important, and it'll take place next week. (We start late, here. So very, very late). It may very well be my last and that, that thought, is frightening. I don't want to leave education. I feel at my best here. I feel grounded and secure and focused. That back-to-school feeling, for me, is energising and invigorating. It makes me produce with a renewed mentality. It makes me soak up and savour detail. (So it is not a bad security at all.)

For a long, long time, I wanted to teach--and no, not just because it was a way to stay in this educational frame. It was all I really practised as a child. Standing in front of my mirror with a white-board marker, I'd write chunks of text on my reflection. My invisible, quiet class would listen--and sometimes, when they wouldn't, I would shout. This want carried on throughout high-school and college (though the physical practise of acting it out, did not) and, until my first few semesters were over, it was there. But then I realised that it was pretty much every student's response when asked what they wanted to do with an English degree. And it was an arbitrary response, at that. It was something they said to fill a gap in conversation and something they would no doubt pursue because they didn't quite know what they wanted to do. And so a faculty of lacklustre teachers begins. How does a generation teach a following generation without passion? (No, really, how does that work?). If I was to become a teacher, I would have passion. I already do in the conversations I propose with friends and family about just what this system needs. (It needs a lot). I want to teach. Some day, but not this day. Right now--this year and next and, probably, next--I do not want to go into that profession. I do not want to become part of a faculty that does not love its act. I don't know how the teachers that do--the teachers that really, really stimulate and inspire--do it. And for that, for every good teacher that there is, I have my admiration.

So for the last couple of months--perhaps a year--I have known this. And I have mulled it over again and again. I have looked at my career options and I have wondered just where this place I am meant to go, goes. The truth is--I don't have the answers. I don't know where, exactly, I am supposed to go next summer. Where, once this undergraduate degree has released me from its grasp, I turn for the next challenge and pursuit. I have my thoughts--my hopes--my wishes. But I cannot say them, out loud, without a nervousness.

But this year--and a year I count from September to the following September, so ingrained in me it is--there are a few things I want to work on. Like getting that degree--and safely. (There is a benchmark of numbers that I aim for: a framework; a border). Like finding a job and earning enough and stumbling across a space of my own--or rather: ours. A space to breathe and flex and stretch in our own way on our own time. Like falling in love with writing, again. Not the idea of it--not the theory or the planning or the thinking of it--but the doing. (That novel is still sitting on my desktop. It has a breath of potential, perhaps, but it needs flesh. A good meal and a good hydration of beauty). Like learning skills, transferable, life skills--but skills I do enjoy. (I want to make dresses--I want to learn how). Like learning a language--and practising it. Like deciding on whether or not an MA is possible, logistically. (And right now: right now the compulsion to do it is wild and fighting and strong).

So September means a little more to me, this year. And I am trying to relish every single one of its little falling leaves--the real ones and, I suppose, the ones of opportunity: the ones of thought.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

summer's close (as diana sees it)

Summer is drawing to an end. Colder airs are ebbing in--yet the sun just keeps on shining.

I took these with Diana last year. They're a little oddly cut, it has to be said. But I love the colours.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

august/september bakes

Amaretto Cupcakes, w/ Disaronno sponge and frosting.

This was my thirteenth new recipe of the year, marking off another little thing on the list. So few things are still checked off, right now--but the ones that are, feel good.

I've been watching a lot of the BBC's Great British Bake-Off, lately. So baked goods and the relaxation they bring has been, a lot, on my mind. So, too, has sewing. And crafting. And reading. And writing. (A lot less for the latter, it has to be said. The words are not coming as easily as they once did).

I've been feeling so much more productive. We both have, Arnold and I. Our focuses, in these past few weeks, have changed. I feel like we are making more and more of every minute, eager to learn and produce new things. It's a very, very therapeutic feeling (for me, at least) and one I'm cherishing.

I hope that when school starts again, I'll be feeling just as inspired, in and out of academia.

Speaking of goals, have you checked out The Violet's? They (The Violet) are posting a few new goals each week. And my, they feel inspiring.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

let's think positive

I've had a headache for three days, now, that I just can't seem to shift. It's interrupted my plans today--my already laid-back, weekend plans--because I couldn't bear the 30 minute train ride over to Arnold's. (Our trains here verge on prehistoric. Sometimes the doors don't even open, mechanically, at the end of the line).

So this afternoon, I took a walk. I freed myself of the cloudy perspective such a headache instils--where the optimism and the hope seems to drain and you struggle, despite yourself, to see clarity--and it was, without a doubt, exactly what I needed. I took Diana along for the little stroll because I haven't used her in a while--sadly--and I don't know why. Even though her counter is broken and she halts a lot as I wind her, she's still as beautiful as ever. Still as inspiring; still making me feel "me". (Is that a really, really pretentious thing to say? Forgive me, if it is).

On the walk, I started thinking about the things I'm thankful for (present headache excluded)--and I thought I'd share.

So today, today I'm grateful and thankful and appreciative of: my new duffle coat (the one that makes me feel like Paddington Bear); love (because it is, hands down, the most inspiring thing); productivity (because it is cleansing and it is satisfying); candles (because they are just what this time of year is about); colour (because autumn is so rich and vibrant with it); snail mail (because it is fun to read and fun to write); and stitching (because it is a great, great distraction).

What are you thankful for, today? Please, please feel free to leave your own list in a comment.

I hope you're having a lovely, lovely weekend.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a day spent with some important (to me) people. One very special one in particular.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Yesterday I wallowed, a little--I felt a sadness creep up on me; then overwhelm. I was shocked and stunned and bewildered, really, by the expanse of time. How quickly and how resolutely this year seems to have paced on--how I've been unable to catch or savour it or, more than that, accomplish it. Because that's right: back in January, I had a list. A mental one, then an actual one that, by hand I had prepared. This, I vowed, was to be a big and important year.

So at first I wallowed about the things I haven't quite accomplished this year and then, the mechanics of my brain retreated; backwards. They chronicled the things I was meant to do years ago--or the ways I was meant to have changed: the independence and the courage and the the competence I was to have yielded. How these things were meant to prosper, most, as university grew and nurtured me. And then--then I remembered something, something Meg wrote, a--a small, (at the time) seemingly insignificant line about a music festival, and about the fact she was "doing what I couldn't have done a year ago". That's it, I thought, and it--everything, actually--suddenly, happily, had so much more significance.

It's about pace, isn't it? About what we can do when we can--when certain situations exert their power and what others take away. Perhaps I was too ambitious in my list of things--too confident in quick-fixes or the breadth of time and energy. But those things I've left out, thus far, I've filled with more. Not actions, so much, as thought.

I'm feeling what I couldn't have done a year ago.

And by that I mean that things--certain things, mostly talked about here, then here--are getting better. They are widening, a little, with the smallest of stretches. Yes, there is such a way to go--a colossal breadth of space of amble--but I'm feeling better--saner--more tuned in. So if I haven't crossed too many things off my list--I've started. That, right now (though, not always) speaks volumes--tomes, in fact.

I look to Meg, a lot, for insight and wisdom and, I suppose, methodologies on life. She is one of the wisest women I know (or feel I know) and she never, ever fails to surprise me with a new, challenging perspective. Yesterday, she posted about her own sadness in a beautifully raw and beautifully honest account, in the ways she, repeatedly, does best. Amongst it, though, was a vow to chronicle the things that lead her happiness. And again--again, I thought: that's it, that is exactly what I have needed to read. So I want to start doing the same--and where I already do, I want more of it. More of the things that raise smiles and lift eyes--more, especially, going into a time that might very well be my final year of school (in my favourite seasons possible).

So--today--happiness is this:

It's the concentration back to school brings, whatever age I reach; mugs of tea, minus the sugar; stormy weather and the music it creates; pomegranate, mango and strawberries in a savoury salad; and the urge I get, every so often, to load Diana with film.

I'm curious, now. What brings you happiness today?

*Please, please, please check out Meg's blog. You won't regret meeting her, or her beautiful, insightful prose.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

little thoughts

The weather today spoke to me.

It told me to stay inside.


So I did.

And I read.

And I sewed.

And I exercised (badly*).

And then--then I thought and I thought and I thought.

And it's been a combination of contentment (did I mention I love autumn?) and absolute frustration (nothing to do with the weather).

Where has this year gone to, I ask?

*I'm trying Zumba. And, trust me and my uncoordinated limbs, there's a reason I'm doing it in private.