I Forgot to Mention I Nearly Got Punched

Yesterday I got so carried away describing the happiness of my day of abandon I completely forgot to mention this.

It was, as I said, an inclusive experience. However, there was this one guy….

“I’m not saying you don’t have a right to be here, but…”

I don’t fully recall the rest of the sentence but it amounted to “Can you just piss off please”. OK, there wasn’t actually much “please” involved.

I do Yoga. My favourite pose is one I mentioned in my very first blog post. Tadasana, or “Mountain Pose”. It is very simple. Plant your feet, occupy your space with intent, be a mountain. Do not shrink or diminish yourself.

Ten years ago I would have cut my losses to avoid any hint of confrontation.

On Saturday I said…no. This is my space and I have occupied it. If you find that objectionable, then that is your problem, not mine. You live with it, or piss off yourself.

He slunk off. I wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it.

Some of my blog posts have prompted a bit of finger wagging and incredulity amongst some acquaintances. I link them to Facebook so this is a very public blog, not an anonymous one. There is a reason for that.

Tadasana.

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Warning: Old Man Dancing

Yesterday I ventured out to an all-day dance music mini-festival. It took me a little while to get in the mood but once I got going I danced the last five hours straight and, well, this morning I’m a little sore.

Music-wise, the tent I gravitated to was playing bass-led deep house of the coolest kind, which of course was also full of the youngest, coolest crowd and a smidgen of attitude.

“Hi, my name’s Debbie and can I ask…why are you here????”

She must have been all of 17 and it was a good question. My answer was simply that it was because I really loved being there. My life would have been far more difficult if I had not been born with dimples and a smile that, when I’m in a good mood, is infectious and could defuse a bomb.

She wanted a picture of me with her and her mates on her phone, and she was not the only one. I later caught a couple of people videoing me on the sly and I half wonder if I might turf up on YouTube. Even some of the guys on the more aggressive end of the spectrum proffered nods of respect and approval.

As the evening wore on and I did some wandering, people were getting more relaxed, and I got my fair share of “Awright mate, good to see you man” shoulder biffs, unsolicited high fives, and a man with a propeller on his head shook my hand. I bailed out a desperate girl who had quit smoking with a fag and got a kiss on the top of my head for my trouble.

And all because it’s hard to object to anyone who is so obviously having a good time. I always could light up a dance floor when I had a mind to and age does not diminish that, nor the pleasure in doing so. I did more grinning yesterday than I have for a long, long time.

It was also nice to see that one of the reasons why I like this music…the egalitarianism of it, the sense that everybody is welcome, is alive and kicking 30 years on from when it all started.

On the Redundancy of Competitive Poetry

Poetry competitions.

I read this advice re winning them:

“1. Use plenty of visualisation.
2. Look at what other poems have won competitions with this particular judge”

I’m sure it is good advice, but the idea of shaping poetry to a) fit a certain idea of what poetry should look like and, worse b) be tailored to a specific reader, just makes me cringe. Maybe I’m just stubborn.

I can well imagine that judges might be looking for saponaceous adjectives which surprise with their unexpected juxtapositioning, or bulgingly inventive adverbs, silky sibilance and acute alliterations. But too much of all that and it can seem a bit forced and read like Competitive Poetry.

Worse is when there is some sort of constraint on theme. “Write a poem about daffodils!” they cry. Well, what if I don’t want to write about effing daffodils? What if I have nothing to say about

their sickly yellow trumpets
insulting my soul
with filthy mustard breath.
Go back to Wales!
Custard toned fodder
for lonely cloud-sheep
and crap poems is all you are.

See? Claptrap. I don’t care for daffodils.

Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio is an Italian-American poet.

She was asked in an interview what her other interests were, besides writing.

“Sex and death are right up there. Consciousness, which I guess is really the subject of all writing. Life on earth, in a body that’s going to decay and die, while everything changes and changes again. Being caught in time. The world beyond the world, or within it.”

Now, that… that is what I call a dating site profile.

I would practically demand a date with a woman who wrote that and drag my heart through barbed wire to get it. Maybe that’s just me, though. Some guys might find it… off-putting.

It’s certainly better than “Hi I’m a bubbly chatterbox and I like ‘avin a laff”. Run away, Paul, just

    Run Away Now

Here is one of her poems. It’s good. I like it.

For Desire

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fucking good I look.

Irony Font

If I write “This is a note that no-one will read” on a piece of paper, then burn it, then it becomes true. If I write “This is a blog that no-one reads” in a blog post it is true up to the point that someone reads it, at which point it becomes false.It is therefore an entirely ridiculous thing for me to write. I have no way of knowing if it will be true or false, and certainly no say or control in the matter.

Common sense suggests that we should not care unduly about things over which we have no control. This is a horrid over-simplification, but this idea is central to Buddhism, that ultimately we have very little control at all and too much “attachment” is unhealthy. I think most people understand that they are ultimately solely responsible for their own happiness, and not really responsible for anyone else’s. But on a day to day basis, the waters are constantly muddied. There is a tension between caring and not caring, or at least there is for me. It is in these conflicts and contradictions that I struggle with the impossibility of being human.

My posts are riddled with nonsense and contradictions. I’m happy to contradict myself to try and express that conflicted nature of being alive. Poetry does this really well. Prose can be a little clumsy, as I am sure mine is at times.

I didn’t have an over-riding theme for this blog when I started to write it. But having mused about “honest liars” yesterday, I seem to keep getting stuck in ideas of contradiction, both in ourselves and how we deal with it in others.

It is often said that we need an “irony font” because it can be so difficult to accurately flag up nuance in purely textual communication. What struck me this morning while I was thinking about all this was that we already have one, and it is called poetry. As soon as you see a poem, it has been signalled that what you are about to read should not be taken literally. It is similar to “comedy”, in that when you see a person on a stage and have been pre-warned that what he or she says is going to be “funny”, you hear their words in a different way to how you would if someone just came up to you in the street and said them. Stewart Lee plays on this idea of “I’m only joking but I’m not” really well, especially in his wonderful dissection of Top Gear.

He, in fact, does not blog or tweet. His stated reason for that is that 90% of what he says on stage is untrue, a character, but his material only “works” if the audience wonders whether he might actually be telling the truth. Therefore he does not want to blog in a self-disclosing way that would remove that doubt altogether. When I heard him say that, I remained unsure whether or not I could actually believe him when he asserted that 90% of his act is lies, or whether he really is “just joking”. Which is his point.

Sweet Little Lies

“When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies”
– Shakespeare W

My brother gave up the internet dating lark about…ooo…five years ago? His justification was that “everyone lies on dating sites” and therefore he couldn’t see the point of exposing himself to it.

I should have passed him my DVD boxed set of “House”. The whole series was an extended riff on the good doctor’s assertion that “Everybody lies. That’s boring. What’s interesting is what they choose to lie about”.

I am currently on a dating site sabbatical – maybe a permanent one – but many women’s profiles contain some variation on this:

“Please no timewasters no liars just be honest with me be real OK?”

So that’ll be no men, then.

I know what they mean of course. They mean don’t tell me you’re a jet pilot if you work down the local chippy, or that you are single when you are in fact married. The bare bones of objective fact. One woman I had a couple of dates with had seen a guy who used to borrow his mate’s house for the weekend to hide the fact that he was married. That’s pretty foolish, and just makes life harder for honest liars like me.

But if you say to me “I have been completely honest about everything from day one” then your credibility is shafted on the spot. Sorry. Trust and disclosure unfold as a gradual process. If it’s too fast, then there is something up with your personal boundaries in the first place and that itself is a cause for concern.

All three women I have dated online have lied to me. OK, projected an image, if you prefer. The truth comes with time spent. Internet dating is not so much different from picking people up in bars, frankly. It’s a cold start. Don’t kid yourself.

Except we do kid ourselves. It’s only human. Hence the quote from Mr Shakespeare. So even if you intend to lie to me by saying you are 100% honest, heck, I’ll probably believe you. You will likely even believe yourself. At some future point I might even get to forgive your flawed humanity, if you’re game.

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth
– Jean Cocteau