my morning walk
for everything i read & watch & listen to, it’s all on this board. & i’ve written a bit about how i rate things but, in brief, the three numbers /10 represent: anticipation, experience, in retrospect.
since january, i’ve:
Shuggie Bain - Douglas Stuart (2020) - 688
A Month in the Country - J L Carr (1980) - 678
Tender is the Flesh - Agustina Bazterrica, tr. Sarah Moses (2020) - 678
Light Box - K J Orr (2016) - 766
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892) - 756
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street - Natasha Pulley (2015) - 876
Forbidden Line - Paul Stanbridge (2016) - 677
The Lido - Libby Page (2018) - 764
serial, series 1-5 - enjoyable but very overrated, would recommend series 1 & 5
Piranesi - Susanna Clarke (2020 - narr. Chiwetel Ejiofor) - 755
Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari (2015 - narr. Derek Perkins) - 856
as i did this first post in a bit of a rush, this is the bulk of what i remember (& future ones will - i hope - read a little better). there were a lot of working class stories this year. Saint Maud was a highlight, the grey wash of Scarborough against the warmth, glamour, and art of the wealthy she serves - i pitched an article on this, an angle not covered elsewhere, & it was turned down but politely & with a note that it might have been considered had i pitched it when in the cinemas. basically, jump on ideas as soon as they come. nice for the confidence, though. Shuggie Bain was another: the impatience & weight of an addict’s wanting was the genius of this story. during a chat with screenwriter Richard Brabin, we discussed the experience of an addict’s character tropes - i wonder if the same can be said of working class characters, or are we all, in fact, fools & horses?
most of my things, mostly books, are in boxes.
i’m living in a small room, an interim space before i move to Frome. i put ten books from ten boxes of books on the bedside table to keep things less crowded. i’d top-up the pile, i thought, a few at a time once i finished what i had. a sensible & satisfying approach. those ten were ignored, of course; the pile grew to thirty when charity shops & libraries opened, & i’ve read few of them. i walked for hours with audiobooks & podcasts & watched films & series & absorbed a tonne of stories - just not in the format i wanted to. does it matter? i mean, i’m not panicking about it, no. but it’s a familiar cycle, one i’ve never worked out: i want to write, so i want to read, but i don’t read, & i end up whining here. this time, though, in the maelstrom of changes whipping through my life, i tried to better understand why it happens - if not to change it, then to lean into whatever works best for me.
i’m fortunate that the pandemic has (so far) left me relatively unscathed. that said (& please forgive this brief, self-indulgent whimper), clouds of shadowlosses 1 (a loss of things, not life) have made much feel dull & numb - i’m learning how much to share in this space, but the end of a long-term relationship & turning 30 gives some flavour of it all. ropes i’d tethered to ground some artifice of stability in my daily life - routines, relationships i understood, aspirations i’d always excitedly shared - snapped; i found myself not wanting to tie many of them back down again.
later, securing a few of the necessary ropes again - doing food shops & not just eating takeaways, remembering to brush the cat (sorry, Bou) - i introduced some fresh attempts at understanding myself better:
i’ve come to realise that brains are both remarkably unique & entirely recognisable - familiar ingredients mixed into new concoctions. school & - i’ve come to realise - my parents taught me: you are faulty, like the rest of us. & that’s true, i guess. but there’s a different way of telling that story: we all have qualities to keep an eye on & soothe, while others are ones to lean into, hone, work with, lest they become seen as a nuisance.
in short, i have learned that my brain:
needs flexible structure. get done what needs doing, but with wiggle room for when it gets done. a few project management apps later with lists of what needed doing each day, week, month at home & i was good to go. then, i carved out time for the creative stuff, to learn from what’s already been made, & planned / tracked it - i spend time thinking about what comes next… but then get on with it.
experiences sensory overload. quiet / brown noise for better reading; audiobooks & podcasts when that doesn’t work; dark room for film & tv; throw the phone away when doing anything.
gets bored, easily. structure alone doesn’t get me that excited & i need to mix it up pretty regularly. i love the natural world & its seasons, it already influences my food & exercise, so we’ll start with those.
i’m done with apologising for ‘overthinking’ about things i care about, and i hope this helps anyone who has the same kind of obsessive nature as i find myself working with.
today in the northern hemisphere, the Earth’s north pole has its maximum tilt toward the Sun & we experience the year’s longest period of daylight.
eyes clawed from dry, pollen-speckled sockets. heavy air smothering sleep in the little darkness we’re permitted. sweat glands in places without sweat glands. where there’s a touch of magic in autumn, winter, even spring, i don’t get that same excitement about summer. all is pressure. all is sweaty. but i want these seasonal primers to start scratching more texture into narratives around different points in the year - not just the festivities of winter - based on their physical influence (walks in spring, blankets for winter) & personal / cultural significances that already exist for them. catalysed by some friendly conversations, i forced a few sparks of magic for the summer.
for the next six weeks, until Lammas, i’ll start by:
& anything i can find from all three that’s based on the Isle of Wight.
Shadowloss is a term coined by Cole Imperi, founder of The American Thanotoligst. I originally heard it described on the Ologies with Alie Ward podcast; it refers to: A type of loss that has a multi-faceted impact on not only the life of an individual, but also the social network in that person’s life. Shadowlosses may or may not be associated with a death and are most often not impact a person’s social connections, status in the community, overall well-being, and family relationships. Examples include but are not limited to: divorce, bankruptcy, infertility, not getting a job, getting fired unexpectedly, losing a career, estrangement, or leaving a religious tradition.↩︎