Monday, May 18, 2015

Selfie against a pink wall

When You Go Away

When You Go Away

When you go away the wind clicks around to the north 
The painters work all day but at sundown the paint falls 
Showing the black walls 
The clock goes back to striking the same hour 
That has no place in the years

And at night wrapped in the bed of ashes 
In one breath I wake 
It is the time when the beards of the dead get their growth 
I remember that I am falling 
That I am the reason 
And that my words are the garment of what I shall never be 
Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy

-- W.S. Merwin


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Angeles National Forest

Questions for a Potential Suitor

Yes, it's your favorite correspondent reporting from the world of online dating, and here I am on the front line, metal helmet rammed on tight...

I've realized that the most sensible approach to online dating is the pragmatic approach. There are the texts, the emails, the chats, the coffees, more chatting, the drinks, the dinners. But in the end, what do we want? To love and be loved, right? And in the end, you just want to find out if you're comfortable enough with someone to curl up next to them and feel warm and kittenish. Am I right, ladies? You know that feeling, when you trust someone and you feel really good just being close to them and curled up and chatting in the dark about everything and nothing...isn't that what we all crave as humans, that connection?

So really addressing the elephant in the room is the way to go. Americans are far, far more pragmatic than the English. I tend towards being polite, making dull small talk, but really, I have some big questions that need to be answered before I will consider going out with you. And they include, but are not limited to these:

1) Why are you here? If it's for another notch on your belt I'm not your girl.
2) Why did your last relationship end, and was it because you punched her?
3) Have you ever spent time in jail?
4) Do you like dogs? (Actually this should be number one. Embarrassingly, Thistle was a complete flirt with a man I was on a date with, cozying up to him and being a complete strumpet...)
5) Can you cook? Do you like food? Can we talk about it incessantly?
6) Are you happy to be in nature? (Please say you are.)
7) Do you read books and can you use a couple of vocabulary words I don't know just to make me swoon?
8) Are you happy with someone who asks too many questions, often gets the wrong end of the stick, and has been a bit damaged lately?
9) Do you know which knife to use? Can you fish? Have you ever killed an animal for food or because it was in distress? Are you empathetic with small children or people who can do nothing for you? Are you kind, sir?

You see, I'm learning :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Try Not To Be A Twat

More from the world of online dating...

It's odd this being burned thing. When someone does a number on you ("fuck that guy" says my lovely friend who looks out for me, but to be completely honest, I'm sure I did a number on him too, and I'm sorry for that) it makes you frailer, more sensitive, stretches your antennae out even further, sometimes around corners, feeling out for dangers that maybe don't exist. You want to let the "soft animal of your body love what it loves" as Mary Oliver would say, but the robotic, metallic armor gets in the way, makes you too wary, stops the child that wants to love and be loved, protects too firmly, makes your body rigid instead of buttery.

with my favorite soft animal belly

There is a very nice man, someone who I believe may have been hurt deeply as I have been, someone elegant and kind and funny, sharp as a tack, and I like him -- and he is sexy -- but I can't allow myself not to be protected. I have seen him once and he made me laugh, which is no small feat, as I tend to be irritated by most people, especially those who think they're comedians. Texts are imprecise in plan-making. Texts boast efficiency, but leave no room for tenderness, for human emotion, for understanding that everyone is fighting a hard battle. Texts demand you give them the benefit of the doubt, but still, I feel my hackles rise, as they did before, and I feel the old familiar pull of the feisty/fighty/tension, half really sexy and half scary as hell.

Thanks to my friend Curt for this...

People need to be in a room together and looking into each other's eyes, and touching each other to fully understand the other.

I regret so much the misunderstandings in the tentative dance one does with online dating, but the reaching out, and stepping back, and the dosey-dos, and the weaving, and the twirls, and the occasional, beautiful human contact is what brings me back again.

Vivien and I discuss David Bowie on the phone and she gives me advice. As Caitlin Moran says, most things in life can be resolved by listening to Bowie. Here's Quicksand:

"I'm not a prophet or a stone age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I'm living on"

I will persevere and I will try not to be a twat. That's all we can do really, isn't it?

It takes everything one has to remain open and soft and kind. But, by God, we need to keep trying to do it.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ten Things Every Teenage Girl Should Know

Here is the brilliant Caitlin Moran, author of "How to Build a Girl," with ten things every teenage girl (and every woman) should know. Please share this with every girl you know:

10 Things Every Teenage Girl Should Know

1. Self-loathing is the default mode of the teenage girl. You are not alone in this. Contrary to what you think, it’s nothing to do with how fat your legs are, or the unmanageability of your hair. You are self-loathing because you are turning into a woman – and this seems, to a 13-year-old girl like something exhausting, joyless and high-maintenance, for which you will constantly be judged. And you are right. By and large, that’s exactly what being a woman is right now.
2. But you don’t need to be like those women. You can choose what kind of woman you want to be. And if that kind of woman doesn’t exist, you reply “That kind of woman doesn’t exist – yet.” “Yet” is going to be a useful word for you. “The world isn’t like that… yet.” “People don’t do things like that… yet.” As a teenage girl – as the future – YOU are the “yet”. You are the one who gets to invent the future. You are the one who gets to invent new women. The kind of women you’d be excited to be. Refer to this process as “the revolution”, for short, because it sounds more exciting. You want the future to be exciting.
3. Start the revolution with you. If you’re self-loathing, invent a “you” you don’t loathe, instead. Imagine the thing you would want to be – then be it. Make yourself your own project/pet/pretend best friend. Pretend to be confident, happy, relaxed and you’ll soon realise there’s no difference between pretending these things and actually being them. Wear a silver cape. Be obsessed with geology. Don’t speak until 11am. Intend to be the worlds first Girl Beatle. Learn what every drag queen before you knew: fake it till you make it.
4. Your key hobbies need to be long country walks (get some fresh air in your lungs), masturbation, and the revolution. Between those three, you should, in the long term, stay relatively sane.
5. Don’t cut your own fringe. It is far, far more difficult than you could ever imagine.
6. For that matter, don’t cut anyone else’s either. Good friendships have ended that way.
7. Every time your heart gets broken, breathe deep – it grows bigger as it mends. Imagine each line of red scar tissue on it with pride – the same pride you’ll one day have for the stretch marks on your belly, after having a baby. Skin and hearts year to make great things. Don’t be afraid.
8. And if your mind tears, do not fear that, either. Depression takes off a layer of skin, so accept that you feel more of the world than most people. Did you hear what I said? YOU FEEL MORE OF THE WORLD THAN MOST PEOPLE. That’s amazing. And anxiety works like electric in your bones – it keeps you wakeful and driven, so use those extra hours, those extra, sleepless days, that your poisoned adrenaline is giving you. You are living longer. You live in double time. Insist that that’s a blessing. Fake that until you make that, too.
9. When in doubt, listen to David Bowie. In 1968, Bowie was a gay, ginger, bonk-eyed, snaffle toothed freak walking round South London in a dress, being shouted at by thugs. Four years later, he was still exactly that – but everyone else wanted to be like him too. If David Bowie can make being David Bowie cool, you can make being you cool. PLUS, unlike David Bowie, you get to listen to David Bowie for inspiration. So you’re one up on him, really. YOU’RE ALREADY ONE AHEAD OF DAVID BOWIE.
10. Go out there and change the world, so it works for you and every girl like you. I know you will.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Never Give All The Heart

Never give all the Heart

Never give all the heart, for love 
Will hardly seem worth thinking of 
To passionate women if it seem 
Certain, and they never dream 
That it fades out from kiss to kiss; 
For everything that's lovely is 
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight. 
O never give the heart outright, 
For they, for all smooth lips can say, 
Have given their hearts up to the play. 
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love? 
He that made this knows all the cost, 
For he gave all his heart and lost.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I like jetlag. I like the quiet at five in the morning before the birds are up. I like the cups of tea in the pristine kitchen, the sleeping dogs, the four ayem runs to the emergency room with the chocolate-burping french bulldog. I like discovering poems and reading blog posts from Africa, and having time to read the whole of T magazine, and the piles of old letters on my desk. I like that there's a book coming out calling "Lifesaving Poems." I like that I have a stack of postcards from the National Portrait Gallery and a pen filled with blue-black ink, and thank you letters to write, and the optimism that comes with looking at the world afresh.

However, I would prefer to have a tardis so I could buzz back and forth to the UK.

The Journey

The Journey 
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tracey Emin

"The Last Thing I said to you is don't leave me here, 1" by Tracey Emin, 2000