Posts Tagged ‘Sapphire’

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Proust questionnaire.

January 18, 2012

The principal aspect of my personality.

I already knew that this questionnaire was going to be difficult because it is going to force me to look at myself as other people see me, while also considering myself from the point of view of the person who knows me best. I guess that therefore, the principal aspect of my personality is passion – my heart loves fiercely, and my brain works constantly.

The quality that I desire in a man.

Just one? Well, in that case, it has to be integrity. Or possibly, to be secure enough in himself to allow himself to be openly vulnerable and not get caught up in machismo bullshit. Perhaps the principal aspect of my personality should have been verbal diarrhoea…

The quality that I desire in a woman.

To be an independent thinker and not follow the crowd – in life just as in fashion.

What I appreciate most about my friends.

Their intelligence, their honesty, and their loyalty.

My main fault.

Overthinking things, second-guessing people and situations until it drives me quite mad.

Faults for which I have the most indulgence.

I can’t resist a mischievous streak.

My favorite occupation.

Singing and all that is music-related. Or otherwise, shopping with friends and sitting in a café, talking openly and honestly about love and life.

My dream of happiness.

To be with my partner forever, in a nice house in the city near the beach, and to have enough money to not have any real worries and to be able to provide for my family. I know it is predictable but I can’t think of anything that would make me happier. Oh, and throw in also having a killer body and a wardrobe that would be the envy of Tom Ford.

What would be my greatest misfortune?

To have not been raised by a mother who gave me her all (even when it was sometimes too much) and taught me important human values far more insightful than what is commonly and unintelligently accepted as “intelligence”.

What I should like to be.

Inspirational, successful on my own terms, genuinely original, and in love for the rest of my life.

The country where I should like to live.

This is quite an impossible question – I can choose 5 or 6 cities I am enamoured with from countries around the world. And I want to live in them all!

My favourite colour.

Red. Or black for clothes. I also like silver for jewellery, because it goes well with my black clothes. But then why choose silver when you could have gold?! So I will stick with red.

The flower that I like.

It’s a cliché, but I like roses – they are romantic and intricate. But when I was young, my favourite flowers were white trumpet lilies, and I still think they are beautiful.

My favorite bird.

The phoenix.

My favorite prose authors.

I am currently enjoying the Nordic crime novel trend (although I did feel somewhat embarrassed when I saw that Waterstones had a special section for this kind of book – I don’t like to feel so easily categorised) so Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson are up there. I have also always enjoyed Stephen King’s books, as well as Sapphire and Virginia Euwer Wolff. My favourite author that I studied at university was Faulkner, because the way he manipulated language and made the reader work to decipher and put together his images and plotlines was genius.

My favorite poets.

I don’t like traditional poetry that adheres rigidly to a form or standard verse / rhyme structure, because I feel that this often comes at the expense of true meaning and emotion. I enjoyed Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. And Herb Ritts was a poet with the camera.

My heroes in fiction.

I thought that Precious from Sapphire’s Push was inspiring and heroic. Other than that, I don’t really have a good memory for any literary heroes I have.

My favorite composers.

Classically, my favourite is Tchaikovsky. Speaking in modern terms, I adore Mariah Carey, and she is an accomplished artist in every sense of the word.

My heroes in real life.

My mother is beyond amazing. Inspirational in the way that she raised me, the ethics and conscience she instilled in me, and also the way that she has stuck by my father through all of his foolishness (I’m being deliberately vague because this is my private life) when most wouldn’t have, and ensured that their marriage lasted nearly 30 years.

My favorite names.

Toby and I discuss the names that we would like for our children. I love the name “Summer” for a girl. It just conjures up carefree beauty to me. For a boy, I really don’t know…

What I hate most of all.

Liars, people who are fundamentally inconsiderate, wasps, budgeting, and the fact that things which are bad for you are so much more enticing and delicious than those which are good for you.

The gift of nature that I would like to have.

I would love to be able to fly. I think that is what this question is aiming for? Either that, or have a body that does not store fat on its midsection.

How I want to die.

Youthful in spirit, if not in body. Part of me still has the childish hope that I may never die – I would like to live forever! But at the age that I am now.

My present state of mind.

Thankful that after so many years of thinking it would never happen to me, I have found happiness and true love.

My motto.

If you don’t feel good, then you might as well look great.

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onyx paradise.

April 11, 2010

Those of you who know me will know that my screen name for 85% of the forums that I use is “onyxparadise”.  Originally I only liked the ‘onyx’ aspect of the name (since the word looks and sounds pretty), but the name ‘onyx’ had been taken already on the forums I was interested in using at the time, and I was inspired by Britney Spears’ Onyx Hotel Tour.  Choosing an alternative, mysterious-sounding gemstone quickly became apparently not an option: “sapphire” and “topaz” (both in reference to my mother’s favourite stones, and both pretty-sounding words once again) were far too girly, so I thought about adding something to “onyx” to make it work.  Again “sunset” and “beach” sounded too feminine, but I hit upon the idea of “onyxparadise” and it had a magical, mysterious ring to it.  When I think of what the word represents, it symbolises some sort of fantasy faceted-glass multicoloured landscape within a gemstone.  I don’t know how to verbalise it better than that, but I know that those words create nothing close to the image / atmosphere in my head.

Returning to Britney Spears, she did teach me something interesting about the onyx: although the stone is traditionally black when we see it used in jewellery (and although black is my favourite “colour”, I’m not a fan of onyx jewellery), any light that shines into it can be refracted back out in a multitude of colours.  Now, Wikipedia tells me that this is false (or somewhat exaggerated at the very least) but I’m going to go with it because it supports the metaphor that I want to explore and essentially base the rest of this blog entry on.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt like I’ve had multiple personalities.  Different sides of myself expanded as I got older and I started to give them different names: Alan; Miles (ok that was ill-advised but he didn’t last long); AC; purehonesty; onyxparadise; Chase.  They embodied different things, different representations of me, and now I reflect upon it I see that onyxparadise was really the perfect name.  Rather than multiple personalities, I am one person with all these different facets, different colours, different aspects to my being.  Just like an onyx (or Britney Spears’ version of it, anyway).

Sometimes I feel like I keep getting it wrong: I hated the movie Kick Ass, which I went to see last night, because I could only see reference after reference to Kill Bill – at want point does a parody/homage become a rip-off? It must have just been me, as the vast majority of reviews online are hugely positive, but I guess I just didn’t get the sense of humour (though I enjoyed Hit Girl). I don’t eat pizzas quickly enough for my father to have as much space in the fridge as he would like, and the first thing he said to me this morning was “who opened the back door?” as if by getting my milk from the fridge I had unwittingly committed a cardinal sin.  It’s times like these that I feel socially awkward or incorrect (like when I confused the barista at Costa by barking at Toby not to be so healthy in his choice of biscotti, as he was making me look bad with my vanilla frescato and carrot cake), and it’s only recently that I’ve taken a personal stand not to let my family make me feel so ugly, because their problems are no reflection of me.

There is a facet of me that feels tough, dark and edgy.  I now have 3 tattoos, I dye my hair black on the regular, I smoke and drink and stay out late.  I’m still a good person, I have many friends and I work damn hard juggling studies and employment. So I feel I’m entitled to play hard, and I feel that at 24 years old I’ve proved to myself (and to anyone else, not that that matters) that I am intelligent and sensible enough to make my own decisions and to stand by them and live through the consequences, right or wrong.  By embracing that side of myself, I take less nonsense, stand up for myself more (although this is still a work in progress)and I feel that it’s been key in the shift in my life over the last 9 months to being much more happier and taking control.  I feel happier indulging the edgier, mysterious side of me, acknowledging there are dark depths of my personality and essence that I have yet to plumb, because it makes the light shine that much brighter too.

And now, I have some really good friends, people who are close to me.  If my family more and more are the source of unnecessary stress and drama in my life, then my friends feel like what my family should be.  So I almost glow when my new best friend tells me how glad he is to be friends with me; when my boyfriend tells me for the first time that he loves me.  These are experiences I never had before, that make me feel almost uncomfortably good because I am valued, I matter.  Sometimes being strong, being independent, being tough – even if it’s a self-fulfilling façade at times – is really lonely.  But it’s times like that, it’s times when Mike offers me to spend the day with him and his family, when Billy gives me a big hug and kiss before bedtime, when Toby holds me tight in his arms as we watch TV and I feel so safe, that I know I don’t have to be, don’t deserve to be alone.

I never used to wear designer clothes or jewellery.  I have never been a 32″ waist since I was a child, and I find it funny to be posing as a model in Toby’s photos on beautiful days walking around Bristol, because I always dreamed of being a model and assumed it was out of reach.  After the strife of growing up between my parents and their families, the violent alcohol-fuelled arguments and mental abuse I experienced as a child and adolescent, the periods of unhappy rebellion as a 16, 17, 18-year-old, the disappointment of not really knowing where I was going with my life having graduated from Oxford University, the turmoil of a year in retail unable to fulfil my potential, I finally get to experience everything slotting into place, the lights shining from the onyx in a rainbow of the right colours.  Life finally feels good, if not how I imagined it to be! So this entry is really personal to me, because it’s how I see that I’m a whole host of different things – I am one person with many different aspects, not all of them necessarily pretty but all of them important, all of them of value.

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in this body.

February 4, 2010

On the bus yesterday on the way to see T, I did a little bit of reading of Push by Sapphire (the film Precious was intense, but a very good adaptation of the book I thought) and a little bit of people-watching.  Occasionally, my gaze would meet someone else’s, and I would look away as if I were just flickering my vision across the periphery.  And my mind began to think, what do people see when they see me?  I mean, everyone makes snap judgements about people they see based on first impressions and looks, and I wondered what kind of judgements people make when they see me.  I’m slim now, I guess I am quite pretty (according to what everyone says, and I personally don’t think I am ugly most of the time) – I noticed that nobody ever says “handsome”, I’m always “pretty” / “gorgeous” / “beautiful”, which is interesting considering I’m a guy who’s 6 feet tall and broad shouldered. But anyway – and I’m always listening to music, reading a book or looking out of the window and somewhat preoccupied.  What image does that create of me?  What do people see on first glance?

The funny thing is, I guess that I am now considered quite attractive, but I never used to be that way.  I feel like I’m the same person inside, wearing a completely different body.  I know that a lot of people from school whom I pass in the street don’t recognise me anymore, despite my not being facially any different since the age of 3.  I found my dress sense, I found the slim person inside who’s been dying to get out for 23 years, and people who see me now don’t know who I’ve been, where I’ve come from, what I’ve been through.  And maybe I don’t want to be an open book for everyone – privacy is something that’s very important to me – but it’s odd to think that nobody can tell that I used to be chubby, that I used to be unhappy, somewhat geeky, that I used to have “interesting” taste in clothes and piles of junky jewellery instead of the Armani and Gucci that I wear now.  Call it adolescence, call it growing pains, but those are memories that I still carry around with me every day, and all that makes me part of who I am today.  I don’t feel any different, just that finally all the extra layers seem to have fallen away and the “pretty” person waiting inside has finally been revealed.

There’s an element of “now what…”, too.  I appear to be achieving my aims of tattoos, of learning to drive (theory test in a week and a half!), and of having a relationship with someone.  Just by looking at me, nobody can know that these are things that I’ve struggled with, that I’ve been working towards.  Something I said to T was that in the first month I’ve known him, I’ve gotten 2 tattoos: it’s not really representative of me, because it’s not something I usually do or in fact have ever done before! He just seems to have come into my life where I am doing more exciting things than usual.  Does that mean that as a person I’m changing, I’m stronger and now able to realise the things that have always been in my head?  Or is it all just about timing?  People who see me now see me as a smoker, but I’ve only been smoking for two years.  It’s funny to get my head around the difference in ideas of me that my new friends have, with those that are held by people who’ve known me for years.  Who is closer to the real me? I think there’s a little truth in both… This body I’m wearing apparently looks so different but it feels the same to me: I enjoy the reactions I inspire now, but it’s still a little alien to me despite the fact that I have tried so hard and finally am reaping the rewards of being a little braver, a little edgier, more attractive.  And where do I go from here?  What happens next?  This new body of mine that I’m wearing, this person inside that’s a mixture of everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve become… how will I change next?  What does the future hold in store?

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justify my love.

August 11, 2009

It’s ten minutes to midnight as I write this, and as I am waiting for my dad to finish playing Evony and toddle off to bed, I find myself reflecting on the day. I signed off at the jobcentre, embarked on an unnecessarily slow bus ride to the gym, worked it out hard (Dior 33″ jeans, here we come!), then spent the afternoon at Hannah’s on the internet, watching Doubt and learning useless Friends trivia.  I also had dinner with her sister and mother, who has apparently been feeling that since I left university, I have been “lost” because I haven’t immediately fallen into an appropriate high-flying career.  This dinner ended up representing my opportunity to tell my side of the story to her, and justify my decisions and explain why I’ve chosen to go into careers guidance.

Why did I feel the need to justify myself?  Because a) Hannah’s mum is generally a nice person, and I know she’s always liked me, so I can’t help but feel dismayed that a small voice inside me nags that I have lost her approval somewhat.  Her approval shouldn’t matter to me, and it certainly doesn’t play a role in the choices that I make, but because I like her, I want her to like me and to return to thinking that I have my head screwed on.  And b) inside, there is another small voice that perhaps feels I need to justify to myself why I am where I am.  After all, I dreamed that by 23 I would be well on the way to having a successful career and earning tons of money.

Why hasn’t that happened? Well, there is the recession so the decent jobs are not available at the moment.  I investigated a Bristol translation agency soon after I graduated last summer, and they were pretty blunt in the lack of jobs available.  I didn’t have the funds to move to London, so I ended up staying at the Perfume Shop, ultimately managing them at a reduced wage in return for a boosted CV.  It wasn’t ideal, but it got me through.  Music-wise, I have been working on my Quiet Storm project, which I’m excited to say is 99% complete, and I’m hoping to release it on the internet around my birthday (October 25th, mark it down!) – but I don’t have an easy way into fame so rather than go on reality television (which screams tacky to me, and I’m not ready for my music and image to be so controlled just yet), I’ll hustle in the background crafting songs which I am very proud of.  I am doing little bits of promotion online, and my friends and people seem to like it and are very positive, so that touches me.  I always believed if my music could make a difference even to just a few people, and entertain them, then I must be doing something right.  I have bigger plans, but everything in time.

This year off also gave me time to really think about what I wanted to do.  When I graduated only a year ago, I had no idea.  Reading the novel Push by Sapphire finalised an instinct I’d had, that I wanted to make a difference to young people’s lives, to help them establish their own place in the community and make the most of their lives.  I didn’t want to be a teacher, and I had done Peer Support and counselling at Sixth Form and at university.  My experience as a language assistant in Spain gave me awareness that in most cultures, there are a lot of young people who are getting swept along by the education system without really knowing where they want to go.  I want to be there for them, because I know exactly how they feel.  I want to help people find their own direction, and present all the options available to them, because I think that a lot of people aren’t really aware of all the options at their disposal.  It’s going to be hard, and there will be difficult cases who don’t want to listen.  But again, if I can make a difference to even just a few lives, those people can make their own mark on society, and I will be proud of my work and the fact that I helped somebody.  So I hope that it all goes to plan, because I am finally passionate about my career direction. (And the money’s not bad either, without sacrificing my entire social life and relationships for my work and some extra £)  We all make sacrifices – but I’m 23, and I want to live.  I can work til I drop come 30, 35, 40, once my personal life is more rhythmic and established – but right now, I just want to have fun outside of the 9 to 5.  After all, some levity is vital for a healthy, balanced mind and spirit.

I explained this, more or less, to Hannah’s mother, and she seemed to take it on board.  I hope I changed her mind around, because I want her to understand where I’m coming from and more importantly, where I plan to go.  The reality is that I am less lost now than I was even just a year ago.  I shouldn’t need to justify myself, but I did it all the same, and I like to think it was a compelling explanation, because I believe in it.  I guess that this blog will follow me on my education journey over the coming year, and I hope it all works out well – because I have to do what my heart says.  In this instance, I’m trusting my intuition and my emotions to guide me to what is truly right for me.

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love or money.

July 22, 2009

Generally, the media and society villify those who get married for convenience, or for money.  We brand them “golddiggers”, we make songs mocking them (hello Kanye), and we generally feel that they don’t act in the spirit of marriage, which should be for life and for love.  I don’t disagree, but then on the other hand, we admire high-flying career men and women who really go after what they want (which is money) while sacrificing their personal relationships to do more work at the office.  I think that is an impressive sacrifice to make, but the message seems to be one minute that love is the most important thing there is, and the next minute that you have to think of yourself and put your financial security above all things.  To me, these messages contrast.

I am always someone who will say “you have to do what makes you happy”, and I genuinely believe that.  But after a year of not really going very far after my degree, I find myself at a fork in the road: do I pursue something I am interested in that will cost me more money (a year’s diploma in Careers Guidance, after which I can get a job with Connexions as a Youth Adviser), or do I give up trying to do something I will like and instead do something that will make me lots of money? For sure, I like money.  I like buying designer clothes, I like the idea of having a car, I like jewellery, I like the idea of living somewhere that I can afford by myself. I like the idea of being self sufficient, I like the idea of not having to keep a constant eye on my bank account before making plans to go out.  I think that wealth will suit me just fine, and I think I would be good at being rich.

But at the same time, I’m 23 years old, and I want to do it on my own terms rather than because someone told me what I should do.  I was told I should go to Oxford, that I should not try for my singing career, that I shouldn’t even study the subjects I chose (I dug my heels in).  And sometimes I would do what I wanted, and other times I would choose to trust in others whom I presumed had better judgment and more life experience.  After all, I dont know everything, but I do know that I want the best for myself.  And so far, perhaps I should have trusted my own intuition a little bit more and others’ a little bit less… but then maybe I would be in a worse position than now.  Who knows – “what if” is at once a wonderful and a useless phrase. As it stands, I’m not too badly off, but I feel like I am at a crossroads where I’m being forced to choose between doing something that I might genuinely enjoy and could also help other people (which I think would be a really good thing), and doing something that would be a mundane 9 to 5, but bring in the money and allow me to kickstart my independence one year sooner and keep me in the Armani to which I have become accustomed.  After all, I don’t like the thought of having another loan to put me through this extra year of study, I don’t like the idea of living at home another year and possibly going insane (and my parents are pretty decent and respect my privacy somewhat), and I don’t like the prospect of being dependent on a low income.  But I like the prospect of getting another qualification that will open up a path towards doing something I have discovered I am more and more passionate about (I owe Sapphire and her book “Push” a hell of a lot – you must read it!).

So am I being naive? Am I cutting my nose off to spite my face?  Or am I right on for trying to pursue something I am genuinely passionate about?  After all, once I have landed the job after qualifying, I will be making a decent amount of money even on my starting salary.  Should I sacrifice my finances for one more year and hope that this path works out, or should I sacrifice my happiness to take a job that doesn’t interest me but will pay me right now?  Everyone makes sacrifices, but I don’t know what is best in this case.  I thought that money wasn’t the be all and end all, but in the recession, is it smarter to put money in the bank or to get a qualification so I can do something I am passionate about that can influence the community and give more chances to the youth coming up?  I know which I prefer, but I am trying not to be blind and genuinely wondering which is best?  Love or money?