Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

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what’s natural?

September 13, 2010

So Mike and I were having a cigarette break during work today (the job has been going much better this last week; ironically since the start of term, although I’ve been very busy, I’ve enjoyed it a lot more because there have been less meetings and more actually doing stuff) and he suddenly asks me “If you and Toby have kids, would you have a surrogate or adopt?” I replied “Adopt, but it’s up to Toby what he would like, we’d talk about it.” Mike says: “I thought you would want a surrogate, you’re not bothered about having a blood link to your child?” Me: “No, not really. I know adoption can be difficult and problematic too, but I wouldn’t get involved with a surrogate. The blood line thing doesn’t bother me.” Mike: “So you have no desire to spread your seed? Just as you’re an only child and all.” “Nope, not really bothered.” “What about your parents? I am sure they’d like you to continue the family line.” “It would be my child, I couldn’t give a fuck what my parents want or think or whatever.” “But I’m sure you would care, a little bit.”

I can assure you that I Wouldn’t Care. I understand Mike’s argument totally, but it just doesn’t apply to me. I would love to have a child, but they do not have to be tied to me by blood for me to love them; the idea of a surrogate carrying a baby for 9 months for me and my partner seems both unreasonable, and then I would be scared that they would change their mind and keep the baby for themselves, or that we would have to have some kind of triangular parenting strategy; my mind boggles at that. So adoption to me, despite the legal wranglings and wait lists etc., seems more straightforward, and although I am not an Angelina Jolie / Madonna fan, I think that the idea of adopting a child from a less fortunate background and being able to give them new opportunities and a new start in life appeals to me. But it would be a joint decision between me and Toby, or me and my partner, when the time came, and I would take his opinion into account. I wouldn’t take my parents’ or family’s or friends’ opinions into account that much because at the end of the day, this is MY child, I would be the one raising it and I would therefore have the final say. It would be between me and my man and that is it.

Am I unnatural for feeling no desire to carry on my bloodline, to “spread my seed” as Mike put it? I mean, genetically I’m pretty cool – pretty, strong, talented and intelligent 😉 But seriously speaking, I know that most people seem to feel quite strongly about this idea. Whereas if anything, I would feel a twinge of satisfaction at denying my family – particularly my father’s side of the family – the continuation of their bloodline. Because they ostracised my mother and I during my youth; and because if that is all that is important to them, then they have their priorities wrong. And my mother’s side of the family is ok, but they live in the past somewhat.  This is a new day, and I control my life; not God or my parents or my family or the Catholic Church. My decision; what I say goes. Perhaps I shouldn’t let this resentment cloud my judgement, but even if I didn’t feel any resentment (and it’s only a twinge, anyway), I still don’t think it would affect my viewpoint: I would happily adopt, bloodline and genetics be damned. If that makes me a freak, then add it to the list of other reasons.

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jagged little pills.

August 8, 2009

It’s hard for me to remember a time in my life or my musical experience before Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album, because that has shaped the way I sing, the music I aim to make and so much more besides; to me, it is nearly the perfect album (I don’t believe there is any such animal).  But before Butterfly, I was obsessed with Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill.  I bought the CD when I was 10 years old and I played it to death.  I don’t really listen to Alanis Morissette anymore, but for a while she opened my eyes, my ears and my vocabulary.  Listening to “You Oughta Know”, I used to think that “going down on you in a theatre” meant that she was going to attack him.  I guess I was sort-of right… It’s things like that that make me really that I was a curious blend of precociousness and naïvety as a child; perhaps that’s true even today… I remember my parents being astonished at the fact that I had decided to cling to this singer so; after all, she was quite controversial and her lyrics included explicit language and sexual metaphors.  My parents have not been shy about swearing in front of me since I was about 7 years old, but thankfully I didn’t hear much about their sex life until I was maybe 11 or 12.  But my parents thought I had good taste (for once), and we used to play the cd in the car and we all enjoyed it.  There was a period during my summer holidays before starting year 6 when I would literally go up to my room after breakfast, slip the CD into my black Sanyo CD player and sing it all the way through.  Every day.  For at least 2-3 months… It was crazy, and I don’t think I have done anything like that since, nor would I want to.

So today I was browsing through wikipedia on the net and I end up reading Alanis Morissette’s album pages.  I remember the situations I couldn’t relate to so much back then have now become fully fleshed-out (when I was younger, I would just connect to the song’s emotion because I had no experience of romantic or sexual relationships).  I understand the Catholic angst of “Forgiven” better now than I ever used to, and that is coincidental because I was discussing religion and Catholicism with my friend Adam today while watching the film Doubt (I caved and bought the dvd).  The concept of living up to being the “perfect child” under pressure from my parents, family and peers has never lessened but my maturity lends new hues to the song “Perfect”.  I remember nearly having an affair with my peer mentoring instructor, drama teacher and counsellor while listening to the song “Hands Clean” (we never had an affair, but I had a crush and we were close.  And all my friends at school kept checking that we weren’t sleeping together, which obviously we weren’t).  Listening to “Joining You” today reminds me of when I was younger and contemplated suicide on more than one occasion, and realising that life really can be that depressing if you let yourself get caught up in it so much.  Sometimes levity and fun are not a bad thing, and in fact vital to our survival.

I wrote a hell of a lot of songs and poems during my childhood as a direct result of Alanis Morissette’s inspiration.  I pray that none of these poems or lyrics come back to light, but perhaps they aren’t as bad as I imagine them to be.  I also expect some of them are a lot more risky than what I produce today, because as I’ve honed my craft, I’ve also made steps on the journey to finding who I am and how I can best express that.  At 11 years old, I knew a lot for my age but I still had so much growing up to do and so the poems I wrote were a mishmash of everything.  I imagine it to be a bit messy and at times laughable, though probably heartrending all the same.  I would never go back in time, because I’ve learned a lot of hard lessons and I don’t want to have to relearn them thankyou.  But at the same time, as unhappy a child as I was, I remember the growing and the learning and the insecurities, I see how far I have come, and although according to R “I put too much pressure on myself”, I can’t help but smile and remember the little boy who was doing all the “right things” and still felt so lost.  And at least I stand here today, and I’m a tiny bit more found than I used to be.  Who isn’t a work-in-progress?  But some progress has been made.

Listening to “Unsent”, I think of the people I have dated, and why it has gone wrong every single time.  Of course, it takes two, and as much as I can blame myself and push myself to learn and to act more rationally and maturely, and as much as I push myself to be more perfect and model-ready, it can’t all be my fault.  I always seem to settle for less, and now with B and with R, I feel caught in the middle of two non-boyfriends who emotionally connect with me but can never give me enough in return, for various reasons.  Last night, R’s boyfriend hijacked his msn and effectively said that R spends too much time talking to me (and other guys) on msn.  This morning, R said that the boyfriend was jealous (I suppose understandably).  I don’t want to be a homewrecker, I don’t want to be the jump-off, I don’t want to be a booty-call or a one-night-stand or a throwaway boyfriend.  I don’t want to be waiting around for B to wake up and smell the coffee, and I don’t want to be caught in the middle.  Like I said before, I can’t even imagine myself not single, and yet I’ve racked up all these nearly-guys.  I suppose I am the stronger and the better for it, but it gets tiresome… however, at least like Alanis, I get some pretty decent lyrical material out of it!  I guess part of being older and gaining experience is that you hurt and get hurt along the way of life.  I don’t really know how to conclude this entry very neatly, but I try not to feel bitterness if I can help it.  I try to stay pretty zen about my relationships, and I don’t think that we need to stay friends with our exes every time, but after a while I don’t want to waste my time hating them either.  The more open I keep my heart, hopefully the more likely someone is to find it who is worth my time and then I’ll prove my self-fulfilling prophecy wrong and be able to enjoy what everyone else seems to without trying to walk the line of perfection to everybody.

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why should i be sad?

July 28, 2009

I decided to name this post after my favourite track from Britney Spears’ album Blackout because it kinda sums up how I’ve been feeling.  I think at times we all get the temptation to feel sorry for ourselves, but in a way this self-pity is something we can rationalise and yet something we know we shouldn’t do (or don’t need to feel).  There’s a tension between appreciating the good things in your life, and then seeing how you could still improve your life and all the faults that exist within it.  I will explain with illustrations from my very own personal life. 😉

With the last person I officially dated, L, I knew all along that I wasn’t really into the relationship.  And it was all too clear just how into me he was.  On the surface, he was kind, attentive, considerate and charming, if a little bit childlike (despite being 3 years my senior).  But I knew, deep down, that I didn’t feel for him how he obviously felt for me, and my failing was not putting a stop to it and nipping it in the bud.  Instead, I kept going hoping that my feelings would grow to match his, and perhaps accepting my caution at first as a defence mechanism after previous bad experiences.  But finally, it became clear to me that I had to break up with him, though I ended up doing it by accident… I sent him a text message I meant to send to my friend, saying that I couldn’t take the situation anymore and that I had to break up with L, as it was making me ill.  So L received this and went insane, and we had a breakup-via-text that I never meant to initiate.  I apologised and explained that it was all a mistake, and sending a text message to the wrong person happens all the time.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and all my friends have done it just as I now have.  And yet, be it out of hurt or out of anger, my apology was rejected because L and “his friends” (whom I never met and who never met me) decided that I had decided to send the text on purpose.  I had nothing more to say, because I had attempted to apologise, and I wasn’t going to pursue L when I’d wanted us to be apart anyway.  I will always regret the way that it happened, but I suppose I got what I wanted.  And yet, despite it being an accident, for weeks afterwards I felt like a bad person, like the guilty one because I had caused pain to someone else.  Perhaps because I knew I should have broken things off before that point.  I was angry because my friends, whom L had met, had been nothing but nice to him, whereas I’d never met his friends and yet they were perfectly ready to pass judgment on me and analyse non-existent reasons for my text message, rather than take my apology at face value.  So I was irritated, and I was relieved, but mostly I felt guilty for hurting someone.  And yet, it was an escape from a face-to-face scenario (which I was planning that week, but considering L’s reaction over text messages, perhaps breaking up in person would have meant that he’d caused a scene in the café – lucky escape?) and I never had to see him or hear from him again.  Is that really what I wanted?  I guess so.  So why should I be sad?

For anyone who read my detective blog yesterday, J did come back on msn.  Although he didn’t really change his monosyllabic style of talking, he did seem a little bit more open.  He maintained that his msn was crashing (I don’t believe this for a second) but that he wasn’t annoyed or embarrassed or anything, so fine.  And this is the funny thing: even though he was the one perpetrating a sort of deception, I once again felt guilty (I obviously inherited the Catholic guilt from my mother’s family, despite not being Catholic myself) because I’d unceremoniously uncovered his secret – however shabbily-kept – and confronted him with it.  I felt like I’d embarrassed him, because there is nothing wrong with being direct and asking for sex online if you so wish; there are plenty who are only too happy to oblige.  So I tried to keep things light and smooth things over.  Why did I feel the need to do this? I wasn’t the one who had tried to hide my identity, who had effectively advertised for people to come into my house and rape me, who had pretended that I didn’t want people to see my body.  All I’d done was uncover that J had done these things, and yet in a way I felt like I had robbed him of a tiny piece of dignity.  Perhaps that was a part of his façade, and I guess I felt like I’d ripped it away.  But why so guilty?  If it had been me, the person wouldn’t have given it a second thought… So why should I feel sad?

I decided to return B’s text, and he replied after a while wishing me luck, and saying he had work all week also.  I thought I might as well bite the bullet, since I’ve all but lost interest, and asked him whether he had received my invite to the cinema and how come he was never on msn anymore (we used to have really long, intimate conversations on there at first).  Again, no reply as of yet, and I don’t even expect one.  I don’t think that B is a malicious person, and I like him, but I’m not under any delusions – he’s a little bit crazy.  He doesn’t think anything of only replying to people when he chooses, and one minute he can’t leave me alone, the next he disappears off the face of the earth.  It makes no sense; and yet I anticipated that something like this would happen.  I’m not surprised, because my paranoia once again was proved right.  I’m not going to waste my time pursuing somebody who can’t communicate, and I’m not going to expect a high level of friendship from someone until they show they can be more consistent and reliable.  And yet, I feel guilty once again: what did I do to drive him away? Am I ugly to him? Am I boring? Does he just not want to go on a date?  My heart hurts and the guilt fades all too slowly, despite the fact that I know in my head that I should aim higher and not get strung out on people who already irritate me with their fluctuating attention spans.  So why should I be sad?

I know that in this blog I’ve focused a fair amount of the fact that I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life, having graduated from Oxford University with a good degree.  As a child and a teenager, I always seemed to do the right things, and despite never being the richest or the most popular at school, I was someone who seemed to have everything going for me.  And I can’t complain; I’ve lived in Spain, I’ve studied at a prestigious university, I’ve paid off my overdraft and credit cards, I’ve been a retail manager, I have a close family and close friends, I write, sing and produce my own music, I’m starting a new university course in September which will hopefully give me the extra kick I need to get a job at Connexions that I will enjoy.  It’s hard to believe in myself when life takes me on a different course to what I intended, but despite this year being a bit less exciting than what I’d intended, I suppose I shouldn’t waste my time feeling down.  Half of me feels like I’m stuck in a rut, but I know it won’t last for long.  I try to keep in mind all of the achievements I’ve made and the positive things, and compared to others, I guess I’m pretty lucky (though I won’t complain to be luckier!).  So why should I be sad?

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secrets and lies.

July 8, 2009

Last Saturday I was sat in Starbucks reading my book, and a woman (maybe 5-10 years older than me?) asked if she could sit in the seat opposite me (because I had claimed the comfy chairs hehe).  I said “yes” and she sat herself down, with 2 piles of books.  There must have been 8 altogether, and between pages of my own book, I surreptitiously looked at what she was reading.  I don’t know if she was a book reviewer for some newspaper or magazine (I was tempted to ask, but I already sparked up a conversation in the very same cafe the previous week, with a guy who was reading Ayn Rand and piqued my curiosity) but she would take one book, leaf through the first few pages, jot something down on a pink piece of paper, then put the book down and repeat the process with the next one.  Anyways, I noticed that the titles of these books (from the pink, floral covers and bouncy fonts, I’m guessing chick-lit) had a running theme: they involved the word “secret”, or otherwise “private diary of someone-or-other”.  And it got me thinking about something that I have noticed for a while now…

In the music world, a couple of years ago there was a running theme of the idea of confessions.  Madonna had Confessions On A Dance Floor and her Confessions Tour.  Usher had his mega-successful Confessions album and accompanying single.  Lindsay Lohan had a stellar but underappreciated album called A Little More Personal (Raw), which is the most mature and heartbreaking (and thus depressing – you have been warned! but I thoroughly recommend picking up the album) exploration of disillusionment with love, fame and her father in particular. The lead-off single from that collection was “Confessions Of A Broken Heart (Daughter To Father)”, and had an uncomfortable video which all too closely reflects the parental rows of my childhood.  Anyways, the theme of confessions and having secrets and wanting to reveal all of that through your music or your art or whatever form of self-expression is your forte was kinda slapping me around the face during that period, and I even wrote my own album called Secrets, which was the first one that I completed (Quiet Storm is due to be my third).  Ironic that for somebody interested in the idea of secrets, I’d like nothing more than to be a legitimately famous person…

I was, and still am, intrigued by the facet of human nature not to keep secrets (that seems pretty natural to me; privacy is a luxury and being able to keep something for yourself makes that extremely special, whatever it may be), but to want to reveal them and confess.  I think that the Catholic idea of confessing your sins in the booth to the priest is a good one in practice, and has some sense because a sin is something that can weigh heavily on your conscience, though I doubt whether anonymity was really preserved because the priest would blatantly know 99% of the voices in his booth.  What makes less sense to me is the culture of the self-exposé, where you reveal more about yourself to get people to be more interested in you and feel closer to you.  Obviously that is the logic behind the idea, but how much of yourself are you willing to give away before you draw the line?  In programmes such as Big Brother, the contestants willingly surrender all privacy in pursuit of 15 minutes of fame, except in its 9th series, barely anyone watches because we’ve seen it all before.  And because we’ve seen it all before, the tasks that the housemates have to do now are beyond ridiculous, e.g. two of them changing their names by deed poll to Dogface and Halfwit.  It lacks class, and this may be the root of my issue with revealing too much of yourself – it just looks desperate.

There is a need the majority of human beings have, I believe, to draw others closer to them.  But I don’t know, in the media-obsessed climate of today (which is a climate I have been brought up in and totally subscribe to, because that is natural to me), where the line is drawn because I don’t need to see pictures of Britney Spears’ vagina to believe that she has one; I don’t need to know absolutely everything about Michael Jackson’s funeral and what may or may not have been the cause of his death to make me a fan or a supporter of him (I always preferred Janet and that hasn’t changed).  Our curiosity has becoming something crass and invasive, and the media and paparazzi feed it to us so that every time we become a little less shocked and a little more blasé, thus causing them to try and go one step further to keep us interested.  Before the Michael Jackson memorial (which I didn’t watch) started yesterday evening, a newsreader said more than once “The show is about to start”.  To me (and my mother), this was pretty sick – it’s not a show, it’s a funeral.  Mariah Carey was in the trending topics on Twitter not because of her new single, but because she sang at the memorial and her voice may or may not have cracked (I thought she sounded fine) and her dress was not fitting for a funeral (it was black, it was floor-length, her breasts were covered and her hair covered her shoulders – she looked totally appropriate).  For an industry I have always wanted to be a part of, I am now finally wondering whether I really want to subject myself to that much scrutiny and take part in such tasteless events in order to “make it” – maybe I am really happier just making my music and sharing it with friends who care to listen.  Maybe not… there will always be that dream.  We’ll see…

But back to the sentiment of “It’s not a show, it’s a funeral.” …Or is it?  Is everything for show these days?  I don’t know what is real and what is fake, and we blur the lines in the realm of the rich and famous, but increasingly more so in our own personal lives.  Who are we, what do we have to keep to ourselves that keeps us human, and how much do we give away to the public domain?  And once we give it away, can we ever reclaim it for ourselves and get it back?