Posts Tagged ‘religion’

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hidden memories.

January 22, 2012

Lately I have been in situations which have triggered me to remember things that were long buried in my childhood and adolescence. These are things that I had basically forgotten about, and aren’t really important but they make me pause and think “did I really do those things? I was evidently such a different person back then!”

Toby recently bought a book about fonts called Just My Type, and he has really been enjoying it (I might be borrowing it from him afterwards, though I have two books queued up to finish first!) and we have been noticing the uses of Century Gothic (our favourite), Helvetica and so on in the public domain and media. We were in Starbucks in Richmond yesterday and Toby observed the use of various fonts on the menu boards, napkins and articles on the walls – it was a little bit random and I think that it is probably down to different things being created at different times. I subsequently remembered that in Year 7, I had an IT lesson where we actually created our own font and we had to engineer the spaces around the letters so that words didn’t look too spaced apart etc. It was interesting, but not really anything in itself to write about. The thing that interested me is that I was 12 years old when this had happened, and yet it felt buried in my past and when remembering it, it was dim and cloudy like I was remembering the life of another person.

I suppose this is proof for the fact that at 12 years old, although we feel like young adults and don’t want to be referred to as ‘children’, we still have a lot of growing up to do and by the time we are fully-formed adults, we have changed a lot. Recently I was working on some lyrics for some new songs, and I remembered that when I was a teenager (12-14 years old), I spent quite a lot of time on the internet writing poems and sharing my poetry on forums. Now, these poems were probably frequently bad, but it didn’t matter – at the time when I was still only allowed on dial-up internet for half an hour each night (remember the days?!), it was the most important way for me to express my innermost thoughts and creativity, and read others’ as well. As I shared things that I had written, I made friends and ended up being invited to another forum where I would contribute regularly, and I also remember most of these people being quite Christian and I believe from the southern USA. At a time when I was still questioning my own beliefs as well as discovering my own sexuality, there were certain things I could talk about and others that I couldn’t, and from a place where I had been granted freedom of expression without judgement, I found myself (even at 15 years old) being careful about what I could and couldn’t say for fear of backlash from people I didn’t know that well and yet knew intimately. I didn’t stay on the forums for much longer after that (although I wrote poetry infrequently and headed up the St Anne’s Creative Writing Society with my friend Daria in my second year of university) because I could tell that I was headed on a different path to the other people on the forum, who were all adults and knew themselves already. I didn’t leave on bad terms, and I think that the forum fizzled out naturally shortly afterwards, but to think that for a substantial period of my teenage years this was one of my main hobbies, and yet now I barely remember it and it feels like I am looking at my adolescence backwards through a telescope. How far I have come is a very good thing, but it’s something that I can only really appreciate when I compare it to where I started from.

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Tube update: Embankment, Charing Cross and Temple

January 8, 2012

Today Toby and I went to the National Gallery to finish looking at all of the paintings (we went on our first trip back in the summer, but after seeing two thirds of the gallery, we were exhausted and left the rest for another day, which ended up being today!), and afterwards we headed over to the National Portrait Gallery (which was personally a little more up my street as I knew a lot more about the people in the portraits than about the detailed religious particulars and Renaissance-era artists from the National Gallery). I had a great day and there were several pieces that were quite thought-provoking, as well as enjoyable exhibits about modern British comedians and contemporary British actresses.

I also managed to tick off three more stations! Embankment:

Charing Cross:

And last but not least, the glamourously-named but disappointing Temple:

I nevertheless have fond memories of the first time I visited this station, because it was last winter, snow was on the ground (and I was trying to keep from slipping over), and Toby and I went to Somerset House (which is just next door to this station) to look at the Skate ice rink (and Tiffany store, which was in a giant aqua Tiffany box) and the Dior / Gruau exhibition. Good times 🙂

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born this way.

February 28, 2011

First of all, so that the title is not completely misleading, here is Lady GaGa’s new video:

I like this video, and as a result the song is growing on me. Sure, the song rips off Madonna’s “Express Yourself”, and the video for that song is iconic. But I like the various effects, I like the grandiose opening monologue (although “temporal” is not the opposite of “eternal”, and there were flashes of Janelle Monáe’s ArchAndroid inspiration hither and thither), and I most of all like what the song stands for. This will be the focus of my blog tonight, in a roundabout way.

I have a couple of friends on twitter who were really touched by Lady GaGa’s new song, and found it an anthem for them to be proud of who they are. For me, not so much – I think that the lyrics are at times clumsy and facile, and I don’t feel at this point in my life that I need a song to reassure me that “it’s okay to be gay”. Mariah Carey’s “Outside” did that for me nicely when I was 12. But just because I personally am past that point, doesn’t mean that the sentiment is not good – whether calculated or not, I commend Lady GaGa for her work against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, her promotion of AIDS awareness and safe sex, and her embracing of all fans.

Anyways, I was reading the latest issue of LOVE magazine this weekend while I was in London with Toby, and the focus of the issue is androgyny. In particular, I was struck by an interview with transsexual model Lea T, who is famous for being cast by Riccardo Tisci in the latest Givenchy campaign.

Transsexual models generally don’t make it into the mainstream; but Lea T has not only accomplished this, but has been more than upfront about her transsexuality. In the interview with LOVE, she says:

“From the start I want to talk about being transsexual… We have to be proud of who we are. I’m trying to change things, in my own small way… If you don’t tell people, you’re basically saying that there’s something wrong with it.”

I find this admirable, because in such a public arena it must be frightening, liberating, nerve-wracking and a hundred other emotions to expose such an intimate aspect of your personality, your sexuality, your self. And I got to thinking about myself and my sexuality. In my work, in my personality, in my day to day life, I don’t hide my sexuality, but I don’t go out and about to promote it either. I never wanted my sexuality to be the defining characteristic of who I am; I didn’t want people to focus on my homosexuality and put everything else as second best. Is this the right attitude? I would definitely say that I am proud of myself; I am proud of my boyfriend, I am proud of our relationship. I guess that would make me proud to be gay. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily want to embody the gay stereotypes of being effeminate, promiscuous, pink glitter and camp because I don’t feel that that is who I am. I’m not exactly butch, but I am just myself and being gay is a part of that. It’s not the whole.

Nevertheless, working in a college with teenagers, should I be more upfront about my sexuality? Would that set the right example? I have a picture of Toby and I on my desk that I don’t need to point out to anyone, but students can and do see it. I never lie about going to see my boyfriend at the weekend, if students happen to ask. Is there a difference between choosing not to actively broadcast your sexual preference, and denying it? I like to think so – I don’t lie about my boyfriend, about the fact that I like men. What for? I am not ashamed of it, and at this point in my life I feel more or less secure in my sexuality – so I am happy to identify as gay. I know that homosexuality is much more mainstream, much more accepted than it has been; a lot more remains of the journey towards accepting transsexuality as mainstream. So I understand Lea T’s desire to be upfront and bold about her sexuality – she is opening doors, and for that I totally salute and respect her. But what do you think? I believe that I am who I am and I don’t need to broadcast my sexuality, just as I don’t need to broadcast my religious beliefs or marital status. However, would it sometimes be beneficial to my students to have an older role model who is openly gay, but also embodies many other positive things? It’s a tricky one.

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the one.

January 28, 2010

The most honest and one of the most difficult things that I have come to realise about the whole Mike situation (read back if you don’t know, although this entry will no doubt catch you up more or less anyway) is that he is The One.  Not that I actually believe in the concept of “the One”: I find it extremely improbable that out of the billions of everyone on earth, there is only one single person with whom you are meant to be happy.  I don’t believe in God, so I don’t believe in that sort of destiny or pre-determined fate.  I don’t find it logical in the sense of considering issues like gender, sexuality, race, religion, culture, even people of different languages?  I mean, what if my one meant-to-be person happened to be a female homophobic person from a tribe with their own language, living in the middle of the African desert?  I’d be more than a bit screwed, and it’s an unlikely match to start with.  So I don’t believe that there is one soulmate.

So let me clarify: when I say that Mike is “the One”, I mean that in my 24 years of living, he is the most important and closest thing to a soulmate with whom I could imagine spending my life with, that I’ve ever met.  Of course, he’s straight, he’s 11 years older than me, he’s married, he’s a father – so again, it’s not going to happen.  Last week we were discussing our feelings, the situation and so forth, and he said “I truly wish I could reciprocate your feelings.”  That meant a lot to me, and what else could I say but be honest and reply “I wish you could too”? I know that if things were different and he could be with me somehow, we would do it and that would be it, end of story, happily ever after thankyou very much.  But things aren’t different, and I ended the conversation with “In another life, maybe.” and left it at that, and proceeded to talk about other, less serious things (and I later got very drunk, vomited over a bridge near a swan and then stayed at T’s place).  Nevertheless, that discussion will be one of the many things that I never forget about Mike – there are so many even after just 5 months of knowing each other.  And before you say it, I don’t know if I believe in reincarnation either, but my mind is a little more open to that than the “one sole soulmate in the world” concept.

After starting the week with some insecurities over my friendship with the third member of our little love triangle (which were proven unfounded – I overthink things, misinterpret little subtle gestures and take them far too personally), I’ve made a real effort to be the best friend I can be to both Mike and V, and to focus on my burgeoning friendship with T.  Things look good, and although I’m not really comfortable at letting someone get close to me in a more-than-friends way, I’m starting to feel a little more at ease with it.  I’d still like to slow down the pace somewhat, but I enjoy spending time with him and I feel so flattered that he appears to think so much of me.  I’d be a fool to just throw that away, and I’m glad (most of the time) that I haven’t.  He’s a really good guy, so why not see if it leads somewhere?  My feelings for Mike are there and I acknowledge that, but there’s no need for T to know about them because that would just cause needless questions and possible hurt.  I am glad to say that I consider Mike one of my closest, best friends, and everything I’ve been through and we’ve been through has ultimately contributed to that rather than broken it down, which I think is testament to the both of us.

I spent the day with Mike today as we walked his son up and down Bristol docks on the train tracks (he educated me about trains, I taught him about raspberries), got Mike’s first tattoo (it looks fantastic, and watching him get inked up was a tiny bit sexy but mainly really interesting – as well as enthusing to play off his jubilation when he saw it in the mirror and was so happy – just like my reaction!), booked my second tattoo – the revolver – for next week (arrrrgh here we go AGAIN! No doubt I’ll post up the picture just like with the first one 😉 ), spent time with his family, had chilli and smoked lots, and watched Snow White with his son.  I was so privileged that they wanted to spend time with me – not just Mike, but his whole family – and that really means a lot to me.  He is one of my very best friends, and I hope to death that that is something that never changes, because losing him would be a catastrophe.  I feel close to his son, his wife is absolutely lovely, and although sometimes I feel that it might be weird considering the way that I feel about Mike, I adore watching his family interact (especially considering my own family’s ups and downs in terms of emotional push and pull) and feeling as if I am part of them.  Knowing his wife so well, rather than infuriating me in terms of “damn, you got my man first!” (I occasionally feel that, but really very rarely), seems to normalise me and I don’t think of Mike romantically so much when I’m in his family’s presence – it’s just not appropriate and doesn’t enter my head.  He’ll always be a sexy man, he’ll always have a sexual magnetism for me, but in that kind of situation the pull is less.  And considering my possible relationship with T, my close friendship with Mike which I don’t want to jeopardise, and the many ways in which my romantic feelings are inappropriate, whatever minimises my attraction to him is welcome.

So I hope that T and me work well, I hope that Mike and me are best friends for many years to come (as well as tattoo buddies!), I hope that I can always feel comfortable with his family and that they can always feel comfortable with me.  Within one month of 2010, I’ve got one tattoo, one on the way, a possible new boyfriend, and I’m working on passing my driving test – all with strengthening my bond with Mike.  I sense a lot of positive accomplishments to come, and that makes me really happy. 🙂

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retail christmas shopping.

November 23, 2009

2009 marks the first Christmas period where I have not worked in retail.  Although I am mostly grateful for this (since Christmas is a stressful time of year to be serving behind the counter, or generally to be doing anything), it did mean that I wasn’t really bombarded with the Christmas decorations and music that usually go up in stores in October, and therefore was not reminded to start organising my gifts and purchases until about last week, when I thought “Shit, it’s mid-November and I have not bought ANY presents.” In the last week or so I’ve started redressing that balance, and I’m starting to get a move on with it.  I have the added motivation of Gucci earrings.

Don’t be fooled by this fairly crude picture – the earrings are delicate and beautiful, just the right balance of style and elegance, neither masculine nor feminine.  Just… lovely.  A wonderful upgrade from my Armani Earrings (and who knows, maybe it’ll inspire a sequel song on my next album!).  However, this wonderful upgrade costs £240 (they are white gold and Gucci… and it will raise my fashion game) so I have therefore made a pact with myself that I will not buy them until my Christmas shopping is done.  There are a couple of reasons for this.

  1. It’s kinda selfish to just keep buying things for myself when tis the season to give.  I love buying presents for other people, and I don’t feel guilty spending money on other people!
  2. If I spend £240 on earrings, then it is possible (knowing myself) that I might physically run out of money before I manage to get everyone’s presents.  Which again, is kinda selfish when I could easily wait for the earrings a little bit longer.  It’s not like I don’t have anything satisfactory to wear in my ears for the time being!

So I am sticking to my pact. I also have the added incentive of getting my Christmas shopping done before December the 11th, because that is the date of our Christmas party for uni, and I would quite like to wear my new earrings to this Christmas party. Because then I will feel extra-special.

Anyways, this post isn’t meant to be about my Gucci earrings.  It is about Christmas shopping, and the fact that it feels almost strange for me not to be working in retail during this period, since it’s something I’ve done for the past 8 years.  I don’t miss the incessant Christmas music in shops, and I don’t miss the cranky customers nor the constant target-monitoring.  However, I enjoy the busy feeling going into the shops, and the excitement of everyone buying gifts for people they love – whether people get cranky about it at the till or not, I like the idea that everyone is trying to please someone else.  I don’t give to receive – I give to hopefully make people happy at Christmas with a gift that shows how much I appreciate them, and also that I have considered their personality and found them something appropriate.  In that sense, I am more a subscriber to the commercial meaning of Christmas than the religious meaning of Christmas (as long as it’s done with love and friendship as the primary agenda, rather than showboating, there’s nothing wrong IMO with buying someone a gift to show your appreciation of them).

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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?