My Thoughts as I Watch the World these Days

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I’ve tried to remain somewhat quiet about this whole thing (admittedly not always successfully)…however, I would just like to put this out there to remove any doubt about what I truly feel…

I love England…

As many know (or not) I grew up in the deep south…unless you’ve grown up in the deep south you can’t possibly understand what that was like…

Once I moved away (far away), I can’t even express how I felt…how much a weight was lifted off my heart…

I always knew things weren’t right…I often felt uncomfortable with the things I saw and heard….but after moving away and distancing myself I really came to understand how truly fucked up some of the culture is down there…

When I moved to the pacific northwest I couldn’t believe how everyone was treated equally…then one day, some of my coworkers sat me down and explained how they were followed around whilst shopping in certain areas. How people looked down on them, although they were born and raised in the USA, just because they had a darker shade of skin or their parents didn’t speak English well without an accent.

Yes, I’m naive…even as an old(er) person. I’ve always assumed people are just like me…if you know a really cool, funny, and caring person it doesn’t matter what their name is or what colour their skin is, what God they believe in or don’t believe in, or what the gender of the person that they love is…

Moving to England was even more of a surprise…I couldn’t believe the diversity here…and secretly I embraced it daily and danced with glee…until one day it became the norm and I took it for granted…

Then this happened…this whole bexit…

Again, I can be a bit naive…daft even…

I don’t really care how you voted…we all make our choices and at the end of the day we all live by those choices…

What I do care about is WHY you make those choices…

So I should be very clear here…

If English Pride to you means White Pride, you can just go the fuck on…

No really….I wish you well…I just don’t wish you in my life…

If Southern Pride to you means White Pride, again, just go the fuck on…

If American Pride to you means White Pride, yes, you guessed it…I don’t want to know you…

I don’t know if you’ve ever realised this, but being born in America, or England, or Germany, or Poland, or Syria, or any other place on this earth…it’s all just a crap shoot…Where you are born doesn’t make you better than anyone else..the same of skin colour…it doesn’t make you more entitled to a better life…all of it’s just a big crap shoot and some of us are luckier than others…the luck of the draw…

This isn’t about the bexit vote. This isn’t about Trump (don’t get me started on that topic). This isn’t about where you stand on gun rights…or a person’s right to marry whomever they wish….this is about how we have an entire sector of the population now think they have permission to spew their hatred and intolerance of others based solely on their own racist beliefs…it’s about how people are missing the point entirely and instead of calling out this blatant hatred, they are instead pointing fingers at each other trying to deny the blame or to place the blame…

So finally, let’s get this straight as well…

Making anything great doesn’t take one race or one nationality, one religion or one skin colour to make it happen…

It takes good, honest, hard-working, accepting PEOPLE of all sorts to make anything great…be it America, Britain or the whole damned world…

Falling Down the Spirals of Despair

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Sometimes it seems that it never stops. You find yourself forever going down into the depths of despair. For years it seemed that I had no destination to head to. I just continued to sink further down. Connections I had in the “real” world were easy to ignore. I could continue to close myself off from connections in the outside world. My smile and my sarcasm could continue to mask the lack of connection I felt in the world. I could fool myself that sleepless nights that turned into weeks that suddenly turned into years really had no purpose. That it was okay that all my clothes hung off my body after a bit. I could continue to, in some ways, embrace my lack of fulfillment. Telling myself that it was normal to feel so adrift. I could continue to tell myself it was okay, even it wasn’t normal, because I was surviving. That I didn’t mind cutting myself off more and more. That the minutes spent alone in my room were fine…even after they turned into hours, then days. Surrounded by only myself, my never-ending thoughts, and my books for company. After a time, the more I isolated myself, the easier it became…

The point being is that at the end of the day, that journey down the darkened staircase of my mind…the one that I thought had no destination…the one I thought would never end…that I would travel down for the rest of my day…well it turned out that I finally did hit the bottom…one day I finally came to a crossroads…

I didn’t get to the bottom by falling headfirst and cracking my noggin…I just finally had someone offer me the hand that I needed…totally unexpected, yet totally expected. Perhaps someone who had been traveling down his own hopeless spiral himself. No, love won’t solve all your problems. That isn’t what saved me. It was finally just deciding enough was enough and that perhaps that spiral that I thought was despair was just, in actuality, just a way I had of trying to protect myself. That the darkness was just shadows that I used to hide behind. after all, there’s no way I would have to worry about not fitting in if I never even tried. The more isolated my life became, the easier it seemed…The trick was to just finally reach the bottom that I had to reach to finally be able to walk forth…to realise that down doesn’t always mean total darkness…

Sometimes it just takes you to a different path…and if you look off to the left…or the right…you will see a door, and if you’re brave enough to open it, you might discover sunshine, enchantment, and companions that embrace the real you and never try to change you or mould you into someone who fits society’s image of conformity…

Once you start to look beyond the downward spirals, and you see a different path, once you’re in the light…rather it be alone or holding someone’s hand, that sunshine and the light will make it easier for you to hold your head high…you’ll no longer need the shadows to hide behind…and those that don’t support you, or try to bring you down? They too shall be blinded by the brightness that is in you…

Assumptions in a Lonely World

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I thanked someone for taking the time to always make me feel welcome in a world where I often felt lonely surrounded by people. I don’t think she understood the depth of that simple thank you.

I’m not sure why. I think it has something to do with my sharp and witty personality. Okay, don’t go and start thinking I’m being boastful. It’s time you know, not everyone appreciates or even understand cutting sarcasm. However, I’ve found it quite effective in masking my true emotions and my true nature.

Since thanking that person I have came to assume that most people assume (see how bad assumptions can be? Especially multiple assumptions!) that introverts are quite, painfully shy, and rarely speak out in social situations.

I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think there are plenty of introverts that are actually the life of the party (Keep in mind, I am most certainly not one of those introverts!).

I’m very lucky…Not only am I an introvert, I am married to one as well. Or perhaps he’s just anti social….nah…I jest! He can hold his own in most social situations, but I think he much prefers his own company, even to my own.

My point being, he doesn’t get too upset (or at least he doesn’t tell me) if I go upstairs an hour before bed…or even the entire evening. He doesn’t feel the need to fill up the minutes that turn into hours with mindless chatter.

The problem with being an introvert isn’t figuring out how to act in public. After all, we were taught the same manners as everyone else. We went to the same schools. We often have jobs (some are even paying jobs!). We often deal with the public on a daily basis. The problem is dealing with stress of keeping up with the public persona. We all have them you know. We’re rarely the same in private as we are in the public eye.

For me it’s the knowing that in a small way I want to be somewhere with people but knowing that once I’m actually there I won’t be 100% at ease with myself. I won’t be able to relax 100%. I won’t be able to shut down my mind that is always watching and wondering if people are judging me or wondering what those people are really thinking about. Are some people really that at ease and so confident with themselves? It’s knowing that at the end of the day, no matter how much I am enjoying myself, or how long I looked forward to it, the truth is, I would much rather be at home with my spiders, or a good book…

So that means that the sad reality is I would rather just stay at home in the first place…and if I plan an outing days or weeks in advance I often dread it as much as I look forward to it.

The only time that doesn’t happen is if it’s a day out with my husband. Of course, that’s because with him I never feel the need to be witty or charming. We all know that’s because it just comes naturally (See! That’s that witty and cutting sarcasm right there!)

I don’t think non introverts understand what a blessing and curse social media can be. I mean, look at me! If not for a little, often unused, blog such as this, I wouldn’t be able to voice my random thoughts like this. Instead they would just be forever bouncing about in me head. We can connect with people whilst still in the safety of our own home. We don’t have the build up and the stress of knowing we’ll be with actual people. It’s a wonderful thing. We can get to know people and charm them with our wit and humour before we actually have to do that in person.

However, it will, in time, prevent us from much-needed alone time. We will battle often with shutting down accounts and going off grid, if only for a few weeks. Or even days. We will have to deal with people making the assumptions that we deactivate accounts because something awful has happened in our life. Or that we are seeking attention. Or many other numerous things that have actually nothing to do with the reality of just wanting to withdraw. Of giving our minds a much-needed break. Of giving a rest to our anxieties.

I don’t think anyone can understand how PM’s can stress you out. Text messages that go on and on are the same. You don’t want to offend people, however you don’t want that connection all the time. How multiple tags can have you dreading signing on. It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Instagram or any of the other countless Social Media sites there are. How you go quite on the web and then someone asks you what’s wrong. There are times you just want to go on there and sit in a quite corner and watch the web go by. You don’t always want to participate in it! How the pressure can be just as bad as actually being in a public setting. It starts to become a job, but a job without a break time. Having said all of that, I suppose that it can be a blessing and a curse for just about everyone, introvert or not!

I know many of you are reading this and thinking, Hmmmmmm….Drama much!

Honestly, just give me a cup of coffee and a day spent in solitude listening to an audiobook and feeding/photographing my spiders and I couldn’t be happier. I understand that would drive some people mental. But for me it’s much more relaxing than going out for an evening meal with friends, or having a chinwag over a cuppa, or even going to the local for a pint with my mates…

The point of all these ramblings?

Who said there was a fucking point….that’s why they are just ramblings…

Lesson to be learnt? Don’t ever underestimate how much simple kindness means to someone who is a lonely introvert surrounded by people in a social world…

An Old Friend

FullSizeRender-3As my dad’s birthday draws closer I find myself thinking about him more often than naught. More and more of the ordinary things in life that one wouldn’t give a second thought to bring forth strong memories of him.

I don’t put a lot of faith in sharing of myself with others…so when these moments hit, I often slink off and hide myself away and try to deal quietly with my grief. Often I feel very much alone and don’t even know how to begin to share these feelings, so that, in effect, makes me feel even more alone. You see, once you lose someone you love, you almost feel guilty sharing your memories with someone else…it’s almost at times like people feel they have to tell you how sorry they are…when the reality is that you’re not looking for pity, you’re just sharing a happy time. Suddenly that sharing a happy thing turns into even more sadness because in that sharing you’ve made someone feel pity for you…

So many people are quick to cover their awkward feelings of helplessness by telling someone who has suffered a loss that it will soon be alright…that the grief will go away in time. Because they want to help a situation that really can’t be helped and they don’t want to feel as if there is nothing they can do (there isn’t) they are often full of *good* advice…Trying there best to help someone overcome their grief…I ask you now, why?

Why do I need to overcome my grief? Will it change the loss? So how is it even possible for grief to go away?

Here’s the thing…when I am hit by a sudden wave of grief, at times it truly is a bit painful. For no reason, I feel completely helpless and utterly alone…it can come from out of the blue…one might never know when it will hit…At first is almost crushing it can hurt so badly….but once that first wave hits us, okay, sometimes it is several waves, but once it passes, it always gives us the opportunity to catch our breath and remember happier times of the one we have now lost.

As I said, I often feel very alone when I think of my dad. I think of how much I miss him. I think of how often I missed him when he was still alive and like we all do, I always said, maybe tomorrow I will give him a call and see what’s happening in his life. I did this so often, until finally, there wasn’t a tomorrow to call him. The finality of that fact is what often hurts the most…knowing that there won’t be a time I can actually pick up my mobile and call my dad. Death has taken that opportunity away from me.

Death has made that a finality…but grief…maybe not? Maybe we shouldn’t look at grief that way. I’ve learned that once those initial waves of grief and sadness hit me, when I go and find place of solitude (even if it’s all just me off in my own mind) and cry, that once those initial waves subside, that it allows my head to clear of all of the other stuff that might be going on in my mind and life. Once that happens it allows the happier memories of my dad to come to surface. Suddenly I realize that the suffocating grief that had made me feel so very alone, is in reality, a friend I should welcome. A friend that reminds me that I am never really alone. No I can’t pick up my mobile and call me dad. However, he is there with me just the same. That is the connection that death can not sever. One that grief is quick to point to me…as long as I grieve for my dad, I shall never forget him…I shall never be without him…

In short, I hope I never overcome my grief. No matter how many suggestions well-meaning people give me to do exactly that. I hope that as times goes by that I welcome that friend, called grief, more and more. I hope that those first incoming waves lessen and lessen in time, making the good memories easier to come forth. Grief isn’t something to avoid, its something to welcome and to remind me of how lucky I am to have the memories that I do. How I wouldn’t even have grief if I didn’t at first, have love…How wonderful the man was that left me with such memories…

My Review: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

10357575I started this book and I enjoyed it, but wasn’t absolutely in love with it. I became busy with life…or disenchanted with life…whatever….but for whatever reason, I set it aside after book one to pick up again at a later date…..that never happened…..until now. All I can say is I was a total fool for setting it aside. Book one was just a prologue for the real action in the second 2/3rds of the book. By the middle part of the 2nd book, I was enthralled with the entire thing. By the last part, I was in love.

This still might not be my favourite Murakami book, however, as always, I will have to soak it in and think about it before I can say that for certain. I love the concept of this book. I realise that some of what I am feeling is personal. Murakami doesn’t know me, so of course, this can’t be true…however, it amazes me how many of the things found within the cover of this book are things I have believed either now or at some point in my past. I don’t think one should ever be too old to believe in the unexplainable. No, I am not really saying that I believe there is some alternate universe. However, I do believe that we have connections with others that can’t always be explained. I also am okay with this enough now to just accept it for what it is…and no longer trying to rationalize it or explain it. Simply put, what is…is….

What strikes me most as I walk away from this book….having read the last page…..is that like him or not, Murakami is like no other. Truth be told….Murakami isn’t even like Murakami! Each book I’ve read by him has been so very different. Yes, he has reoccurring things that take place…mention of moon(s), sex, cats, alternate worlds…and love…most importantly love….but the style….the types of books…well they are just so different.

I love reading. I love discovering new writers. I can’t imagine a world that didn’t include reading. Of having a life that isn’t surrounded by book….

But I have to say, there might be an author or two that I love more…..there might be books that I love a bit more than some of Murakami’s works….but all that aside, if you told me I could only read one author for the rest of my days….well there is no hesitation in my mind that I would have to pick Haruki Murakami. There is no author that surprises me more with his beautiful writing. There is no other author that makes me *feel* more than Mr Murakami. It’s amazing just how much I feel whilst reading his books. I think Murakami is an author that the more you read, the more you appreciate and love…and seriously…I feel the same about his works as well. In other words, I think that if I ever read 1Q84 again that I will love it even more than I do at this moment…..and I am seriously in love right now…just saying….

Buy it now 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

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Musings: Don’t Let Others Define You

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Okay….so everyone has chimed in their opinion about the big happenings in the USA….the Supreme Court’s ruling on Gay Marriage….all the fuss…my word….so I thought I would just say a word or two….

Legalized gay marriage has already been a reality in most first world countries for a while now….I find it amusing that so many people are in an uproar over it in the States…after all, it was already legal in a few states anyway! Those that oppose it won’t find much sympathy for their objections in most of the world…sure, there are a few places that might welcome your ignorance, but I’m not so sure that those are the places you really want to pack up and move to….just saying…

Finally….to those that oppose it? The main things I hear are, of course, *good* christians that are against it. That it’s sinful. Okay….so is divorce. Are you protesting your own divorces? Your friends? Are you so vocal about your disapproval of these other *sins*? Or, really, is the whole gay marriage controversy just a cloak you’re wearing to hide your true prejudices? There are so many other things that can be listed….but let’s not get into hyprocosy….as none of us really have time for all that, do we?

Let us instead get to the one that really bothers me. That same-sex marriages, somehow, invalidates a marriage between a man and a woman.

This boggles my mind. I am married to the love of my life….no matter what the future brings, I say that with the full understanding that it’s the truth. It’s a marriage that we weren’t sure would ever happen…for various reasons that I won’t go into….I will only say that our marriage is perfect for us….and it’s personal. Just as my neighbors marriage is personal for them. I think you would be hard pressed to find any two marriages that were alike, actually. We’re all individuals. We all have different limits and ideas of what a marriage should be. We all relate differently. Bottom line, my neighbor’s marriage does NOT define my marriage. Nor should it. Again, it’s personal. It’s between two people….and perhaps their God (if they choose to believe in that). I’ve heard people actually say, “Oh, my husband would never allow that.” or “My wife would never allow me to do that.”…..I mean, really, you could list a thousand different quotes. I bet you have some of your own if you’re married, right? Or you look at your neighbors and perhaps how they go on holidays apart from one another….of all the ways they do things differently in their marriage….but you would NEVER, not even once, say that their marriage invalidates yours, would you? Even though you might strongly disagree with some things they do…

So why would this be any different? Okay, so you don’t believe in equal rights for two people in love…I for one think that’s wrong…I’m all for gay marriage myself…but set aside my feelings….why on earth would you let anyone else define your marriage? I certainly won’t be letting anyone define mine. It’s between me and my husband…no court or God will ever tell me who I can and can’t love…and who I can’t or can commit to….

Love is love….and I’m just damned happy to see some more of it this day and age….to see people commit to devoting their lives to someone else that they love….to be free to do that….well it’s a wonderful day in the States…and I’m glad people are celebrating….and yes, I’m even glad that those that don’t approve are having conversations with those that do….It’s something that should be talked about until it’s no longer a reason for social media to go bonkers….until loving someone of the same-sex is just as normal as loving someone of the opposite sex….

#chooselove

My Review: Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

19099368 (1)One of the better books I’ve read in quite a while. You’re completely hooked from the first line…

I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her

What an opening line! The rest of the book does not disappoint. There really are no lulls in this story. The first chapter is told in Oliver’s voice and of course from the opening line we know what he has done.

So how many times have we wondered how someone could harm another person that they claimed to love? Have you ever heard something shocking about someone you know? Have you felt disbelief? Or are you completely unsurprised by their actions?

The rest of the book alternates between people who have known Oliver…either as child, teenager or an adult. All of their memories and encounters with Oliver paint a very complex portrait.

From the very start with Oliver’s nonchalant and matter-of-fact justifications we are left feeling very cold towards him. His lack of compassion and empathy is downright startling. It allows the reader to instantly hate Oliver and you have no problems at all distancing yourself from him.

As the book progresses and you see Oliver in different stages of his life…well, you can’t help but to be drawn in a bit closer to him….

Are people born bad? Or do events and experiences make them so?

At the end of this story you’re not sure if you hate Oliver completely or if a small part of you feels sorry for him. At some point I knew I can’t change my mind on my feelings….but I am stuck sat here and wondered if just one instance had been different….one turn different, what type of man would Oliver have turned out to be? Or is that really just more of Oliver’s nonchalant and matter-of-fact justifications trying to sway you? Even though he at no point makes any excuses for his behaviour…after all….it is what it is….

This is a disturbing read. But in such a good way. It was original. And best of all….it leaves the reader with shadows of the book haunting them long after the last page ends. Nugent has left me wanting more. I hope she graces us with another book soon. I didn’t really care for the ending…but that doesn’t bother me as much as it does some readers….after all….life doesn’t always turn out as you would like it either…

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After thinking about this book a couple of days I have one more thing to add….

I wonder if we’re meant to hate Oliver from the start….If his voice led off the story to make us bias towards him. Nugent has done a brilliant thing here….I mean, though out the rest of the story I found myself looking for the bad in Oliver. I was looking for him to burn a kitten in the woods whilst he was in school. I was looking for some type…any type of cruelty….to justify how I pictured him in my mind. To show me a hint of the man he was as he told his tale.

It wasn’t there….

I am reminded of studies I have heard about….how we label individuals. Even professionals. One example in a study had doctors pose as a mentally ill person. They were admitted to a hospital after they displayed mental health tendencies. After they were admitted, they dropped the act and were their normal selves. Even though they were sane and logical, the workers and the doctors refused to see them as anything other than mentally ill. They ignored the evidence that said this person is not mentally ill….and instead sought to justify the label of mental illness….

My random musings of all this is to just point out…..

Did I hate Oliver and think he is vile based on the label I placed on him from the start? Did I completely overlook the child that he was simply because of the man he became? If we had read the story in chronological order, would we feel different about the entire novel?

See!!!!!!!!!! That’s what type of book this is! It doesn’t leave you in peace…days later you will still be thinking about it and asking yourself questions…..

Just saying…..

Review copy provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

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