Questions to Ponder – Final

Questions…yada yada…all very profound and thoughtful…tum te tum…really figured out some meaningful things all about mememe….ta-de-da-de-ta…be great to hear your answers too…dooby-dooby-doo…

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
  2. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
  3. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
  4. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
  5. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  6. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  7. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
  8. What do you love?
  9. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
  10. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

 

My Answers

  1. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

My best friend. Family.

  1. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

I don’t think I want to be attractive, I see why it’s a nice idea and it would lead to opportunities, but I’m quite fond of my nonsense old face, and people who know me know it. As for famous, it would be useful, I might be able to make changes in the world – but realistically, I’m no better at fixing the problems of the world than anyone else, yet nothing gets fixed. And being famous looks fucking terrifying, like being in a car that’s skidding out of control while thousands of people look in at your stricken face and take photos. If I could trade those ten years for excellent health, constant energy, endless inspiration and maybe some money, then yep.

  1. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

No idea. ‘Truly living’ seems like one of those judgement phrases people come up with to put down others for living all wrong. Life is tough, a lot of it is dull and difficult. Most of us will never be heroes, kings, film stars or geniuses. However, our lives are still relevant; contain love, laughter, learning and delight. So however we choose to do it, we are truly living.

  1. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

As a spontaneous person who has in the past repeatedly leapt into situations without calculating anything, I’m always doing what I think is a good idea at the time and then regretting it afterwards. Therefore I’m in a good position to know: ON THE WHOLE, CALCULATING RISKS, REWARDS AND OUTCOMES IS QUITE A GOOD THING. I’m not saying it’s good to spend so long calculating that you never actually do anything, but a certain amount of planning and contemplation is ideal. It’s what I try to do now.

  1. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Making a mistake feels horrible. The most extreme mistakes I’ve made have led to the most brilliant outcomes, but I’ve had to wade through a lot of badness first, so much so I could never knowingly walk into those mistakes. The small mistakes often don’t lead to learning anyway. The number of times I’ve accidentally kicked my laptop across the floor, or forgotten to lock the car, or accidentally said something rude to my boss – every time I tell myself never again, but I still do it.

  1. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

Be more antisocial. Wash my hair less.

  1. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

I meditate, so I do this quite often. It’s a good thing to do though.

  1. What do you love?

People (both specific people and people in general), food, sleep, walking, writing, drawing, imagination, plants, studying. Not in that order.

  1. Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

Yup. Not saying I appreciate all those things everyday, but most days and most things.

  1. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday? What about the day before that? Or the day before that?

I guess this is a: Your life is ending one minute at a time! Live everyday day as if it’s your last! Are you living enough right now? ARE you? type question, and I object to those. There are usually a few exciting things going on in my life (exciting to me, that is, pretty much nobody gets excited about the same things I do) but if life is constantly exciting, filled with new experiences all the time, one big hyperactive adventure, then the following things happen:

  • You get stressed and exhausted and it’s impossible to really reflect on anything, you’re too busy experiencing.
  • You need to keep upping the stakes, because your boredom threshhold shrinks.
  • You keep zipping about from one place to another, so it’s difficult to form lasting relationships and the ones you have are based in excitement which means they can end up being shallow.
  • You don’t get to properly focus on one thing. Studying, being successful in a career, raising a family, writing a book – any possible major achievement in life takes time, and involves many days of repetitious boredom. This isn’t negative.
  • Because you are constantly focusing on the next big event/exciting adventure, it means you don’t get to appreciate the good, small and meaningful things in your life. In fact it causes you to remove and dismiss them.
  • Life just isn’t like that, boredom is a part of life; telling people that boredom is bad doesn’t enable people to instantly live exciting lives, just to feel that their perfectly normal lives are inadequate – which is a fucking tragedy.

Now over to you, what do you all think?

 

 

Look At This! It’s A Thing!

I am the shill, hear me roar!

IMG_6907
An orangutan unimpressed with my roar

So here again is a small excerpt from my book which got published, and you can even buy it right here. It’s all about magic, love, drugs and the pursuit of something, anything, beyond the humdrum. It’s about how imagination is a powerful force for both creation and destruction.

Vurt is raging now, preaching about the evils of cocaine, of billy, the evils of all drugs.

“It’s all just sloppy! Sloppy and messy. Look at yourselves choking and gacking and sweating.   Don’t you get it? There’s nothing cool about this. This is too easy, too obvious. Anybody can take cocaine!” His podgy face is patched with red and he is lurching about the kitchen in a frenzy of belief. I shimmy over to the breakfast counter, lick my finger and dip it into the powder sack. Cant makes his way over and is looking at me all cute-eyed and squirmy. I hold out my white-coated finger to him.

“Suck on it rich boy.”

He narrows his eyes, takes my hand in his and my finger into his mouth. His tongue is rough like a cat’s. He starts gagging, flailing around for something to take away the taste. I jive away across the kitchen. Vurt is still preaching, so I put my hands on his shoulders and dance in time to his words.

edging 2

Or if spending money seems a bit drastic, then there’s the easier way of getting more of my writing and hearing about my new project as it happens, by signing up here.  This is perfectly safe, and I won’t spam you with lots of emails, I’ll only write when I’m doing something interesting.

 

Questions to Ponder Part 3

I’m still working through the answers to some questions I found on Imgur here. They are a mixture of thoughtful and daft. Wordwitch got in ahead of me with this one, so here are some of her answers, which are interesting and funny as always. Anyone who wants to join in with their own answers is very welcome, either in the comments, or on your own blog if you fancy (feel free to add a link in the comments).

The Questions

  1. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  1. If not now, then when? If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
  1. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
  1. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
  1. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
  1. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
  1. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  1. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
  1. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

My Answers

  1. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

This morning I was researching for a new project I’m working on, I don’t know about ‘most passionate and alive’, but somewhat thrilled and giddy.

  1. If not now, then when?

What?

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

Eh? I guess this is a motivating call to ‘just do it!’ I think I’m too contrary for those to work on me. I can motivate myself fine, but someone shouting encouragement at me will only inspire me to procrastinate with some cake and TV.

  1. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

Sure. Once while on acid with a friend is one time I especially remember. We sat watching cranes building stuff, side by side in silence. I had the most profound experience thinking about life and how busy we all are; I felt that I had connected with this friend on a truly deep level despite the lack of words, that we were attuned, and that he must also have had also had the same realisations about life that I had had. Turned out later that he’d had a horrendous trip and had been beset by demons and doubt.

  1. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Because belief causes emotion and that can be used to obliterate reason, and some people exploit that to make themselves feel important. Emotions are amazing and make life worthwhile, but they are also extremely dangerous because they feel like absolute truth without needing any evidence at all.

  1. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

No not without deluding yourself. I think if you remove doubt, then you are more likely to commit evil. Only by questioning yourself can you keep in check. People without doubt are appealing, but dangerous.

  1. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

Yep. Although after sashaying around the world a few times, I’d probably go back to doing my job again – but fewer hours.

  1. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

I do enjoy my job. I’ve almost always done jobs I like, I don’t know if it’s luck or just because I’m so awful at sticking with things I don’t enjoy. I’ve always chosen enjoying my job over earning good money; as a result I’ve always been broke, which has its own problems. I think there’s pressure in society to achieve both – money AND job satisfaction – as if both are possible for most people, but I doubt they are, which makes questions like this seem a bit unfair. However, I would like to work less, just so I have time to do other stuff, like writing.

  1. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

No, generally, there is some repetition in my life, there needs to be a routine because constant change is also exhausting. However, there is usually something going on that suggests change is over the horizon, irons in the fire, seeds planted etc. I have a quiet fear of being stuck in a rut, so in the past when I found myself in one I flailed madly about until the rut was destroyed, usually along with all stability in my life. These days I try to shake things up by taking on a new creative endeavour or challenge, that seems a bit healthier.

  1. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

I do that all the time. It’s why I’m always bumping into things, stubbing my toe and then feeling beset with horror when I realise that the soft glow of my idea was actually the dim bulb of stupidity. It’s not something I’d give up  though, that rush of excitement when I think Yes! This is it! I know exactly what I have to do! It’s going to be amazing! is my favourite feeling in the world, even if it’s often wrong.

Now over to you… 🙂

Trial by Fire

Every morning Cat would wake in a panic and rush to the bathroom where her make up was gathered around her sink like a jury. She’d work through the routine, as layer by layer she would remake her face into something acceptable. Concealer, liquid foundation, foundation powder, blush, neutral eyeliner, defining eyeshadow, eyeliner. She saw her face as a collection of flaws to be patched up or buried. Each year the slap had grown thicker and thicker as new wrinkles and blemishes popped to the surface and each day her true face was lost once again.

Some days she’d try to imagine how it would be to be loved for all her flaws, to show herself to the world, could she really be so disgusting to look at? Sometimes she’d make a deal with herself that tomorrow she would walk down the street with her face naked, just to see what would happen. Would people shout? Laugh? Would strangers video this hideous creature to stick up on Youtube? Sometimes she’d dare herself to just step outside her flat and take the lift to the ground floor, say hello to Mrs Robey who liked to stand in the hall smoking a fag, maybe pop her head out the door to where Salman would be playing with his kids on the grass. The dares and the deals would quickly evaporate as she imagined the horrified reactions, and she knew that she’d never do it.

And then the fire happened. At three in the morning, the fire alarm rattled through the block with such a raucous demand for attention that she was out standing on the grass in a daze before she remembered her face was empty of disguise. She was about to run back inside, plans of which  tubes and palletes she could grab spinning around her head, but there were too many people spilling out of the front door. As the street filled up with scared occupants in dressing gowns and duvets, she tried to keep under trees in the shadows. She saw Mrs Robey, already lighting up a fag to calm her nerves, even in the panic she had thought to bring them with her, and Cat cursed herself for not showing the same quick thinking. She saw Salman huddling his children to him, trying to keep them warm. As people from neighbouring blocks joined them, it became increasingly difficult to keep out of sight, all spaces were filled with people, both dazed and bustling, slowly edging her out into the light. Until finally, she found herself in the middle of the noise and fuss, being offered cups of tea and being wrapped up in blankets.

“Look at you, you’re half-frozen!” exclaimed Mrs Robey, rubbing Cat’s arms to warm them. Cat tried to hold the cup up in front of her face, tried to shrink herself small enough so that no one would notice; but it was strange, because no one was recoiling from her ugliness, nobody even flinched. They acted as if they didn’t care, as if she looked normal; and she started to relax. Mrs Robey added a snifter of whisky to her tea to warm her up, and Cat began to forget her face and all its flaws. Instead she slurped her tea and chuckled with her neighbours about how scared they’d all been; or about what they’d been dreaming when the sirens started, and for once she didn’t need to think about her make up slipping or lipstick on her teeth. She didn’t need to think about her face at all. And it was quite nice.

Questions to Ponder part 3

So continuing the questions to get you thinking, as purloined from Imgur. Previous questions here and here. I wanted to be less cantankerous with these ones, but they are still a little patronising, and let’s face it I am cantankerous, so there’s only so much I can do to avoid that. I’d love to hear your answers also!

  1. Why are you, you?
  1. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
  1. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
  1. What are you most grateful for?
  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
  1. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  1. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  1. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset
  1. Does it really matter now?
  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?
  1. What makes it so special?

 

  1. Why are you, you?

A mixture of chance, effort and fuck ups.

  1. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

I’ve done my best, although I’m often crap. I’m way better than I used to be, but then my friends are way better too. I could have done with some kind of rule book.

  1. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

I guess the second because it implies a rejection rather than circumstances beyond the friend’s control.

  1. What are you most grateful for?

My best friend. The ideas that fire up my head. Regaining my life after brain injury.

  1. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

Lose the old memories, it would be heart-breaking, but I could make a new life. If I lost the ability to make new memories, then I wouldn’t be able to function in my current life, only to live in the past.

  1. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

I think our brains are wired to make us believe that we are forming Truths based on careful observation, but actually what we do is assume. Knowing that, I try to over-ride it, but I frequently fail. So, I guess what I’m saying is – we tend to think the answer to the question is no, but without realising, we act as if the answer is yes.

  1. Has your greatest fear ever come true?

Yes. The brain injury and all the surrounding illness was a load of great fears bundled into one. Having my IQ halved and my ability to look after myself lost, seeing my life pass me by without being able to actually live it; I think these things were some of my greatest fears. Now that that is over, I still get a panic it will all happen again – a bad day of being too exhausted is frightening – but I’m also aware that I got through that, I was still living and doing what I could, so I try and focus on that optimism.

  1. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?

Yes, vaguely.

  1. Does it really matter now?

I appreciate there are things that I fret over that aren’t important and I should just ditch them, and that is important to remember. However, I don’t tend to get properly emotional unless something is really wrong, or my brain chemistry is out of wack, either way there isn’t much of an option.

  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?

Creating stories and magical lands with my friends.

  1. What makes it so special?

I got to create stories and magical lands with my friends.

Over to you folks…

Questions to Ponder part 2

Continuing posting up the questions I found on this Imgur post. Sometimes they have touch of smugness in the tone, but they are still good for self-reflection and taking stock. If you have any thoughts or answers of your own, then I’d love to hear about it.

11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?

12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

20. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

My Answers

11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do?

Argue with them! I’m always happy to argue when I think people are being unfair. However, often I later realise they had a point and I feel stupid (although maybe not in the above case). I don’t know the real rights and wrongs of speaking up – there’s an arrogance in arguing, but if I think something is wrong then my mouth doesn’t ask my brain to intervene, it just carries on.

12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Assuming they could understand me, remember it and care about a stranger’s advice. Actually I’m not sure. People are so varied that fantastic advice for one person is terrible for another. I’d try: engage with the world; the more effort you make, the happier you will feel.

13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

To be honest,  at times I’ve broken the law because I’m bored (I’m not talking big laws here). Without thinking I’d break the law to save any person.

14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

The two seem fairly different to me, there are cross-overs, but I’m wary of insanity labelled as creativity, because that’s a dangerous romanticising of illness. It’s true insanity can give a different perspective on life, which helps with creativity; but insanity can also destroy time, energy, concentration and communication skills, so it often harms creative ability also.

15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

The general living my life thing, how I look, what matters to me, the job I do, how I behave, what I own. I’m not good at conforming – it’s not intentional, I’m just crap at it, so I’ve ended up with an odd life; I’m not an impressive renegade or anything, just odd. That can be scary sometimes (am I doing everything wrong?) and people often get angry about it; but my life suits me well, so I’ll stick to that wonky route.

16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

Because people are varied, it helps makes the world a fascinating place.

17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

Visit Madagascar/ Antarctica, have a road trip around the U.S. However, those need to wait, first I’ve got lots of other things that are more important (to me) to do.

18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

I tend to obsess about the past, and it isn’t helpful at all. Unfortunately, when I’m feeling down the whiny thoughts circle my head, like an endless march of self-pity. So, yes, I am, but I am trying hard to stop that.

19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

Just about anywhere would be exciting, although not helpful right now. Every culture has something I can learn, a new way of thinking, a new climate, new details to life. I get itchy feet, so I don’t keep the possibility too far from me, and sometime soonish, I hope to move away.

20. Do you push the elevator button more than once? Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

No, and no.

So, now over to you…

We Already Invented Pokemon Go

I expect you’ve heard of Pokemon Go. We invented it twenty years ago, with ghosts.

Growing up my twin sister and I were isolated by geography, we lived on a farm in Cornwall, in the middle of nothing and nowhere. Our dad was intent on going off-grid, becoming self-sufficient, and with his fervour, he took his new bride out to the arse end of oblivion and set up home. Piecing together his notes from the time (the ones he didn’t burn before he died) he believed that if he joined nature, it would welcome and enrich him. It didn’t; he got hayfever, he was bored (this was long before the Internet), most animals eluded him, his attempt at agriculture failed.

He gave up.

He quickly fell into a depression and it was up to our mum to take over. She turned a small corner of the farm into a vegetable plot. She had no idea what she was doing, but did a good enough job. Our vegetables were mostly edible; wonky and you had to pick out the grubs, but otherwise fine. She learned to fish, to bake bread. Smart woman our mum.

Anyway, all this meant that me and my sister looked after ourselves. We made our own entertainment and we searched for ghosts. And they were everywhere. Not the pale, flimsy wraiths that you get in horror stories, ours were all shapes and sizes. Some were fat, some had tentacles, some had many feet and others had none and slithered along the ground like snakes. There were colourful ghosts, solid ghosts, ghosts that span in circles and ghosts that could do tricks.

We’d be sitting at dinner, mum would be busy reading while she ate, dad would be staring at his dinner mournfully. We’d have to stay quiet, but we didn’t need words, we could signal with our eyes: look over there, by the sink! A lesser purple-splotched wriggling turkey ghost! And we’d point our ghost catching devices at the ghost (the devices were actually calculators, but the fancy kind with sin and cos) and press the right buttons and the ghost would be ours and we’d write it down in our notebooks.

Or we’d be out on the hill behind our house. Staring up at the clouds and then we’d hear a rustle in the bushes, we’d whisper so we wouldn’t scare it away,

“A jumping, three-eyed lumpy sprat ghost, quick!”

Me and my twin don’t talk anymore, we’ve already said everything there is to say, but still when Pokemon came out I sent her a postcard, on it I said: hey, didn’t we do Pokemon already?

I thought about adding a smiley face or putting a couple of exes, but we’re not that kind of family. She hasn’t replied.