Graffiti, art, and the imprint of Gen X

A delightful blog about the artist Keith Haring from canyondreaming, I hope you all enjoy it.

canyondreaming

It will be hard not to make this post too personal, but I’ll try.  Keith Haring was an inspiring artist at a time when graffiti was still considered an eyesore and not an art form, a time that I have a lot of nostalgia for. I’m guessing that I might well have run into Keith Haring either on a dance floor (gay clubs were the only ones to play even remotely good dance music in the early 80s, and as Cameo says “we don’t have the time for psychological romance”) or in a mosh pit, and those desperate and proud moments were key formative times for a young suburban kid who wanted to know what all the fuss was about when it came to the energy of the big city and the attitude of contemporary art. That said, I visited Haring’s exhibit (along with Paolo Buggiani‘s work) in Firenze…

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The difference between existing and living

Some interesting thoughts from David Swan here about the difference between living and existing. I could especially relate to the idea of it being better to try and fail, than not try at all, it’s not something that works for everyone, but for me, it’s what I need to do.

Work In Progress

I’ve been musing on these two terms existing and living and with my recent forays into the world of the low paid, I get to understand more about existing. To exist is to just get by. It means holding down a job that you don’t really care that much for and then entertaining yourself with monotonous distractions at the weekend. If you are just existing then no doubt you will want to lose yourself in endless television, junk food, and pointless conversation with friends in similar circumstances.

The importance of these two terms is important to understand so that you can recognise that you are just existing and want to push yourself into the realm of the living. The living take long walks anywhere, and great gulps of air. They relax so much more into the now and take their time with living. They pursue their dreams and don’t let…

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My Flu Hell! (It wasn’t too bad really)

I can never fully commit to a clickbaity title.

Flu
Flu virus image from AJP.com.au

I haven’t written much over the last week because I’ve had flu. It wasn’t too terrible, although I suspect this is mostly down to luck, since my flatmate has had a horrendous time. However, not having had flu before, I was surprised that it’s distinctly different from a cold in a few unexpected ways. Not all flus are the same of course, but these symptoms seem to fit fairly well with the NHS guidelines, suggesting that they’re typical. I’m posting about them in case this would be of use to some of you. Whether you need to know what to expect with your own bout of the lurgy or need to convincingly lie about symptoms to your boss, either way, I’m here to help.

Unexpected symptoms of flu

You can’t sleep. The first sign that something was really wrong was waking up about thirty times in one night, with a few hours spent just staring at the ceiling. I managed to snatch a few hours in the week by dosing up on Night Nurse, but it wasn’t until I started to get better that I had a proper night’s sleep. I couldn’t sleep in the day either, which meant the hours went really slowly.

You can’t do anything. I wasn’t so ill that I was stuck in a bed all week, instead I was stuck in a chair unable to move and very bored. Normally I don’t have the patience to watch TV, but for the past week all I’ve done is stare at Netflix like a zombie. I’ve watched Dirk Gently, Sense8, The Good Place and Community, and it’s sort of been fun. Unfortunately I was quite enjoying Sense8, but now I doubt I’ll be able to finish the series because my attention span has returned to its natural scattered state.

You feel queasy all the time. Neither me nor flatmate actually were sick, but we both struggled to eat. Usually we have fairly vegetarian diets, but neither of us could eat any vegetables. Instead he ate very little and only sausage rolls, and I ate considerably more, but only roast chicken and bread (and chocolate and ice cream, cos there is no illness that can keep me from those). I still can’t face milk.

You lose the ability to gauge temperature. The first day I got sick my teeth were chattering so hard I’d thought they’d break.  At other times I’d be boiling with fever, until the paracetamol kicked in. Then I’d become just warm, except the heating in my flat struggles when it get’s below five degrees outside, and I definitely shouldn’t have been warm. Even yesterday, when I went back to work and the sky dumped an inch of snow on me I didn’t really feel cold. I’m hoping it’s a symptom that sticks around for a few more weeks.

The cough is very annoying. And painful. It’s a dry, pathetic sounding cough (think Zoolander when he thinks he’s got black lung) but I keep getting stuck on a loop where I can’t stop coughing until I can’t breathe and my head is pounding.

The only other symptoms are: a sore throat that feels like I’ve swallowed a golf ball on fire, and shooting pains through my arms and stomach. Oh and moving reeeaally slowly, getting out of breath if I have to climb any stairs or pick anything up.

Now all I’m left with is the cough, so I think it’s fair to say I’ve been let off pretty lightly compared to many.

So over to you all, any of you had flu recently? Or have you never had it, and like a colleague of mine, suspect all flu is just colds for whingers?

 

 

Questions and Answers

Last week I asked some questions, and got some interesting answers, for example atMilliwayswithapen and Pamela Spiro, plus plenty more in the comments below the last blog. I’m going to put forward my own answers, (but would still like to hear yours if you fancy taking part 🙂 )

First, the questions

  1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?
  2. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?
  3. What was the last good deed you did?
  4. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great. To give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things would you choose to have in your good place?
  5. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for?
  6. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?
  7. What small something would you change right now?
  8. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?
  9. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?
  10. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

And my answers

  1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?

I’d definitely choose walking up surfaces. Being beautiful meh, seems like more trouble than it’s worth. All the focus on you would be on how you look rather than what you do or say, and I reckon you’d come to rely on the adoration and then get scared of losing it. Being an astronaut is nice in theory, but I have a feeling the reality is really hard work, with a lot of monotony in confined spaces for the most part. However, being able to walk up walls would never not be great. At the absolute least it would be useful for walking down a busy street, or walking up the side of a train, or hanging from the ceiling of a lift. Just endlessly great. And then being able to take a stroll up the outside of the Shard, or along the bottom of Waterloo Bridge would be great. I doubt I’d bother with the ground again.

  1. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?

I’d most like to hang on to my mind and the ability of my body, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with looking old. If I can only keep one ability, it would be my mind, then I can still plug myself into virtual reality and go to beautiful places/ do amazing things there.

  1. What was the last good deed you did?

Bought some food for a young, scared man who’s started sitting outside my local Tesco.

  1. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great, to give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things would you choose to have in your good place?

Cakes and ice cream. Warm rain. A place to walk without interruption.

  1. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for? (I’m specifically not stating how this would work, if it would create lots of you, or if you’d just replay the same event, you get to decide)

I think (like Calmgrove) I’d use it for relieving anxiety, by changing all the stupid comments I make. I’m not sure about jumping forward in time, maybe if I had to wait twenty minutes in the cold for a train, but it’s like wishing a bit of my life away, I think I’d rather try to find some pleasure in the waiting.

  1. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?

A day of release, when people shout, scream, dance and smash things, without any judgement from others. A day to let out all suppressed emotions, bad feelings and regret, and howl, without any shame or embarrassment.

  1. What small something would you change right now?

I’ve got a migraine hovering at the back of my head, I would like to not have it, please.

  1. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

I reckon in the ocean, that must be filled with so many wonders that most of us will never see. There’s real intelligence there too (octopuses and squid) so that would be fascinating to observe.

  1. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?

I want to still be living with my flatmate who is also my closest friend, we plan to buy a house by the sea at some point. I want to get into computer games, so that when I’m too decrepit to do much else, I can escape into some mad world with zombies and flying kicks.

  1. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?

I think breaking into lots of important buildings to see what politicians and businessmen are up to.  Jumping off buildings, smashing up cars, setting fire to shops. Running up to strangers and hugging them. Driving a car really fast (I just sold my car, so I’ll need to pinch one, presumably the world without consequences would mean other people have no consequences either, so that’s ok). For those who didn’t understand how this would work, I suppose I’m thinking it would be like Groundhog Day, at the end of the day it all resets and nothing has changed, or maybe like many little Groundhog Days.

 

Institute of Living, Hartford CT, torture and illegal confinement in 2013

A truly important and heart-rending post. I’m proud to share it…

WAGblog: Dum Spiro Spero

Part One

4-point restrained at the Institute of Living 2013 routinely for 19 hours or more.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Pamela S. Wagner, and I was for most of my 65 years a resident of Connecticut. I have a long history diagnosed with serious mental illness and have been on disability for many years because of it. Five years ago,  I was admitted to the Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living on a 14-day PEC. I would like to tell you about some of the grotesque brutalities that transpired there and the egregious “treatment” that passes for care in that hospital.

Ever since I was discharged from the Institute of Living in February 2013, to which facility I had been committed as an involuntary patient under an order known as a Physicians Emergency Certificate. I have felt too terrified even to read the partial chart which the Connecticut…

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Now Tell Me About You…

Any of you familiar with this blog will know I like being nosey and asking you all questions. So here are a few more for you. If you feel inspired, then please answer below, or share and reblog. I look forward to hear what you’ve got to say. I’ll give my own answers next week.

  1. Would you rather be beautiful, an astronaut or able to walk up any surface (ie up walls and along the ceiling)? Why?
  2. Would you rather physically age, mentally age or visibly age?
  3. What was the last good deed you did?
  4. I’ve been watching the Good Place. It’s great. To give a spoiler-free description, it’s a comedy about a Heaven-like place, where you can live in your ideal house in a perfect village, eat all your favourite foods, and hang out with your soul-mate. What three things would you choose to have in your good place?
  5. You get a time machine watch that can only go up to an hour into the past or future. What would you use it for?
  6. You’re such an awesome person, that the mayor of your town has asked you to come up with a national holiday, what would you want the holiday to be for (eg Tree Day, Festival of Dreams), and when would you want it?
  7. What small something would you change right now?
  8. What are your plans for getting older? How do you want to spend your time when/if you stop working? Where do you want to be?
  9. You find out (probably from a magic floating wizard or by text or something) that nothing you do today will have consequences. What’s your itinerary for the day?
  10. When you die your ghost will be trapped in the place of your death, where do you want to die?

Now over to you blogsters!

Remember me? No? I’m Back!

painting-1

Things move quickly in the world of blog, and I suspect it’s going to take me a while to get back up to speed (although I’m not even sure what I mean by ‘up to speed’, I’ll figure it out later). Many moons have passed since I last posted (actually 3) and I’ve missed hanging out here, so I’ll be trekking WordPress over the next few weeks to find out what you’ve all been up to.

Me, I’ve been up to stuff also. In a fit of frustration at my job, I quit. It was the worst time of year for a gardener to leave a job, but after only a week of frantic wailing at my own recklessness, I got re-employed. I need to point out that the speedy turnaround was nothing to do with the state of our economy, and everything to do with the lack of people who want to be gardeners. Anyway, my new job is great, but exhausting, and in a different field to the one I’ve specialised in for the last three years, so it’s been a struggle.

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Hibiscus – taken on my last day in my old job

I’ve had to learn how to drive a van very quickly because nobody at my new job knew I’d not really driven one before, plus remember how to start a hedgecutter.

More importantly, I’ve been visited by a fox

 

and a cat,

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sadly the two aren’t friends yet.

Anyway, waffle over, stories and commentary on the world will start again soon. I hope you come back soon, and have a beautiful day.

Questions from the Shameful Narcissist

So I’ve been a blog-abandonner for a while now, keeping to the craggy mountains of the Internet, only striding into town when I need a sip of whiskey. Then one of my favourite bloggers The Shameful Narcissist referenced a post of mine, and that got me all inspired. I’m not even sure I’m supposed to answer these questions according to the rules of the blogging award, but then TSN broke the rules too, so we are well into renegade territory, anything could happen. If anyone else also feels inspired to flout the rules of convention and answer the questions, then go ahead, make my day.

The Questions:

  1. When you read do you visualize characters and settings?  As in do the words create images in your mind?
  2. What’s your favorite kind of tea?
  3. What’s the best game you’ve played or watched this year so far?
  4. What’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?
  5. Do you prefer to watch a show one episode at a time or binge watch?
  6. Do you prefer “people” names for pets or “non-people” names (I’m genuinely surprised at how many people are annoyed by the former)?
  7. What would you change your eye color to if you could?
  8. Do you tan or burn (FYI don’t tan.  It’s terrible for you – PSA)?
  9. What’s your fictional/fantasy job, as in, what your job be if you lived in a fictional/fantasy world (I’d be a lounge singer assassin)?
  10. What’s your favorite dystopian city (thanks TWRM for putting this idea into my head!)?
  11. How close is your blogger persona to your IRL one?

 

The Answers

1.When you read do you visualize characters and settings?  As in do the words create images in your mind?

I always assumed I was good at visualising things, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not at all, I can imagine details, but whole pictures are beyond me. I think when I read I imagine sensations and emotions, but the actual images are vague.

2. What’s your favorite kind of tea?

I dislike almost all tea, which makes me an outcast in England. I like the idea, and the smell, of herbal teas, but the reality is always way too insipid. I used to live somewhere where we had Anis (it may not have been Anis, but it smelt of liquorice) growing wild, and I’d brew up a few leaves, which created the only nice tea I’ve ever had. I’ve never been able to recreate it. I’m still holding out hope though. There must be another tea out there for me.

3.  What’s the best game you’ve played or watched this year so far?

I’m not a gamer, although games look great, I just don’t have enough spare time at the moment for a new thing. It’s my retirement plan though, I figure when I’m not so mobile, being able to go to some apocalyptic landscape and fight zombies or fly planes will be fantastic.

4. What’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?

I’m reading the Fifteen Lives of Harry August, it’s very entertaining so that could be the best, but the time travel logic is dubious. I’m also listening to the Stand (see below). I don’t think I’d have the patience to read it in book-form (he describes every last detail, he can spend five minutes talking about a character cutting some vegetables) but listening to it when I’m driving makes it feel like I’m living in two parallel worlds: one with traffic, and one with a devil and lots of corpses.

5. Do you prefer to watch a show one episode at a time or binge watch?

Binge, otherwise I forget what I’ve been watching. Although recently I watched the Handmaid’s Tale and found it too disturbing to watch all at once, so I kept delaying. I still need to watch the last episode.

6. Do you prefer “people” names for pets or “non-people” names (I’m genuinely surprised at how many people are annoyed by the former)?

I’m happy with both. I guess if all pets had people-names that would get boring, but variety is good.

6. What would you change your eye color to if you could?

Something very pale or very dark.

7. Do you tan or burn (FYI don’t tan.  It’s terrible for you – PSA)?

I need to live somewhere else in order to tan, in England I reflect the rain and the white skies.

8. What’s your fictional/fantasy job, as in, what your job be if you lived in a fictional/fantasy world (I’d be a lounge singer assassin)?

Great job. I’d live wild in the woods, and drop out of trees when I wanted to impart some wisdom. That’s not really a job, is it? I could probably survive off foraging, wild boar and thievery.

9. What’s your favorite dystopian city (thanks TWRM for putting this idea into my head!)?

The Stand (Stephen King), while I’m not entirely sure I’d want to live in the book, escaping the commute into that intense, seething world is spectacular, and I love it.

10. How close is your blogger persona to your IRL one?

I don’t consciously change, but I’ve noticed most people shift behaviour when they use a different method of communication, so presumably I do. I’m probably more careful online, partly because I’m able to edit and partly because sarcasm tends to go wrong without facial expressions to explain it, IRL I’m more of a loud-faced oaf.

 

A Blogging Award and me mumbling on

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The lovely and inspiring Lynne Fisher has nominated me for an award, thank you Lynne! Below, I’ve answered the 11 questions she set me;  and then below that I’ve set 11 of my own that I’d love you (yes YOU) to answer. I’m not going to nominate anyone specific, but it would be great if any of you you felt inspired add your four penneth in the comments.

1.What do you feel is your greatest personal accomplishment?

I guess the thing I’m proudest of, that makes me happiest right now, is just that I am living life in the way that I want: doing a job I care about, spending my free time on things that are important to me, and friends only with people I love and respect.

2. What makes you feel joyful?

Writing, painting, time with people I care about, joking or connecting with just about anyone, walking fast with music playing, driving when the road is clear, when my job goes well, sushi, ice cream, gooey cake.

3.What makes you angry?

Cruelty and bullying, when people use intimidation to win an argument or get their way. On the more trivial side: my laptop has the CD drawer open button on the side just where I hold it to pick it up, so the CD drawer keeps on opening needlessly.

4.What is one law you could change if you could?

I’d legalise all drugs, but control the most dangerous ones – which I believe to be crack, heroin, coke, cigarettes and alcohol. I appreciate this would cause some ructions.

5.Where is your favourite place in the world to be?

The rainforest! The constant chirruping and calling sounds, the bizarre bugs, fungi and plants, the rain, the stars; the urgent clash and competition of life – so much energy, determination and innovation. I lived in one for a while, miss it constantly and visit whenever I can, but I’m a wuss these days and find the heat a struggle and the isolation a bit disturbing. I work with tropical plants to calm the need to go back.

6.What is it about your ‘favourite’ coffee shop that makes it your favourite?

I’m from the past, I’m afraid, and coffee shops don’t interest me. I like coffee and I like cake, so if someone takes me to a coffee shop and gives me these things I am happy, but the actual building I forget as soon as I leave.

7.If your house was on fire (God, forbid) what five objects/items would you just have to save?

Assuming all people get out? My laptop (annoying CD drawer and all), the art/writing project I’m working on, I guess some shoes and a coat would be useful. I have a load of photos/old diaries I would be heartbroken to leave, but it would take a few trips to get them out of the flat, so probably best to leave them.

8.Who would you prefer to play you in a movie?

I think, nobody famous. A homely, unknown actress with a spark in her eye and a sarcastic tone to her voice.

9.What are your strengths?

No idea really. I always try to do the right thing, until I forget or get distracted by cake. I’m good at arguing, although I suspect some would see that as a flaw. I don’t flinch when a cockroach runs up my arm (useful in my job). I have no interest in shoes (some definitely see that as a flaw.)

10.What do you wish you were better at?

Not getting lost, swimming, singing, knowing when to stay quiet, martial arts, tying knots, baking, remembering names, parallel parking, not panicking, paying attention, remembering birthdays.

11.What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned about blogging?

That you don’t blog in a vacuum, it’s more fun to connect with people than to just splurge out your thoughts and hope someone’s reading. And people on here are just surprisingly lovely.

My 11 questions for anyone who fancies answering them:

  1. When was the last time you laughed? What at?
  2. What’s the weather like where you are? How does it affect you? (In the UK we’re having a heatwave, everyone is half dead)
  3. What thoughts keep you awake at night?
  4. What conversations do you avoid?
  5. If you were invisible for a week, what would you do?
  6. What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen? (Things on the internet don’t count)
  7. If you could live the life of any character in a novel, who would it be?
  8. When do you feel most alive?
  9. You can have a penfriend from any time in history, who would it be? What kind of letters would you write?
  10. Do you ever feel like you haven’t a clue what you’re doing and you’re about to be found out? What makes you feel like that?
  11. Would you like your home country to introduce basic income (everybody gets paid enough to live on whether they work or not)? How would it change your life?

 

I’ve nearly finished the first draft of rewriting my book, so hopefully I’ll start blogging properly again soon. I’ve missed being on here, and many of you out there, I hope you are all doing great and life is beautiful. Even if you don’t feel in the mood to answer my questions, I’d love to just hear how you’re doing. 🙂