Rivers Of Consciousness

Don't worry, be happy. Who knows what may happen?

Archive for the category “Creative Non Fiction”

Appreciation

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I’m not a particularly sentimental person, or a huge fan of expressing my emotions in respects of my partner – I’ve never been one to flood Facebook with intense and frequent outpourings of devotion. But I think maybe once in a while is acceptable, so…

Today I am grateful for Jake, and I want the world to know that. Seeing as I can’t stand on the roof and yell it, posting it here will have to suffice. I have a lot to be grateful for. He keeps me sane, even though often he is the cause for my insanity 😛 He is my anchor, keeping my head out of the clouds and on a level. He has the best sense of humour, and always knows how to make me smile, even when I feel like shouting or crying or running. We’ve been through hard times and dragged each other through them, and we’ve kicked back and sailed through the good times with Bob Marley and a cold cider. We play and joke like children and argue like an old married couple. We have so many in-jokes we can’t even remember them all. We go for meals and movies, we have the hearts and candles and flowers and teddies, but we also have the assassin films, Sims 3, play fights, pillow fights, the yelling at the Xbox when some bastard shoots us AGAIN, the debates over which Avenger is best, and of course, stealing bites of each other’s food (well, Jake stealing mine…). He can read me like a book, and I him. He knows my worst fears and my greatest dreams. We compare and consider what the first things to buy would be, if either of us won the lottery (Jake would buy a KFC bucket, of course) and whether we would even tell anybody. No-one else rolls their eyes quite like Jake does when I throw the millionth outfit on to the bed in a fit of I-hate-all-my-clothes. I trust him with my life. He turns into a 5year old child when he’s had one too many, or when it’s Christmas, or when he’s just generally excited at anything. His enthusiasm for life can brighten anyone’s day. He’s protective but not stifling, concerned but not controlling. He fits into my family as if they have known no different, and his family have welcomed me with open arms. He drives me so far round the bend I could reach to slap his ass and sometimes I have no idea what nonsense he is talking. But I wouldn’t change a thing, not in the slightest. Read more…

Would you rather…

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When relaxing with my housemates yesterday, we embarked on the classic game of ‘Would you rather…’ to pass the time (I think it originated from ‘would you rather have arms for legs or legs for arms?’ – arms for legs of course!) Quickly running out of comparisons, we enlisted the help of one of many websites that generate these binary oppositions and briefly entertained ourselves with debating this or that. Of course, we couldn’t leave it black and white, we had to inject some grey areas of ‘it depends if…’ or ‘do they mean…’ to see if we could find a loophole ourselves.

One example was:

Would you rather…

Never read a book again OR never hear music again?

I decided I would rather never read a book again, on the basis of the loophole that exists – the wonderful world of audio books. But of course, this is not truly satisfactory.

I have pondered over this question more than others we had asked, because I can honestly say I have no idea which would be better, or rather, which would be worse. I mean, think about it from my point of view. I love books. I’m studying a degree in English, for crying out loud. While not every book inspires my life, and I certainly don’t hold some of the ‘Classics’ in as high regard as they receive, there’s still something so attractive about reading a book.

Picture this: it’s a freezing cold day in winter. You can’t feel your hands, and in fact you’ve pretty much convinced yourself that you have frostbite in your fingertips now. Your jeans are damp from the rain you trudged through and the splash by that puddle at the bottom of the garden path you always forget about. The key seems to take an age to find its home in the lock, delaying your return to sanctuary. You practically fall through the door, dropping the stack of paper you had been clutching and the ten-tonne bag on to the floor, entering your domain in a far from graceful manner. A sigh. Scooping everything back up, you make it to your bedroom and drop everything on the desk, rubbing your hands and seeking the warmth of your radiator. A trip to the kitchen for that much-needed cup of tea, slightly sweeter than normal, and returning to the bedroom. You change out of your clinging wet clothes and throw on those old fluffy pyjamas you probably should’ve thrown out years ago. The steam from the tea warms your face as you tentatively take a sip, careful not to scold your cold chapped lips. Perched on the end of your bed, you pick up the book you’ve been dying to read, flicking the pages with your thumb like a flip book. Unconsciously leaning back against your pillows, you open the cover. The traces of set jaw and frown fade the stress of your day away, and you visibly relax. The marching procession of curves, lines and dots parade the page, hooking a lasso around your mind and tugging you in. That’s it, you’re found.

You’re found in a world only you can build, guided by an unknown entity which presents to you a skeleton, which you alone can flesh out. You meet people you don’t realise you already know, their faces sculpted by the thousand faces you pass each day in the street. You discover which ones you like, relate to, are attracted to – and their opposites. You get sucked in to a whole universe of someone else’s life, following their days and relationships, their emotions. But their emotions are your emotions. You feel tense when they tighten up, worry when it all falls apart, celebrate when they fix it back up, and wonder what will happen next. You might meet their Mum or Dad, a close friend, or fall in love with their perfect match. A perfect match who, coincidentally, just happens to tick all of your own boxes. Perhaps they travel the world, get in a fight, rob a bank, save the day, who knows what could happen in this place. You walk their streets, wear their clothes, say their words, you think their thoughts. The edges are a little blurred now, who starts where?

At some point, you are jolted back to reality, catapulted into Today, landing with a bump into Now. Looking around your room, you find yourself pondering the latest events of the book. What would you do? How’s it all gonna figure out?  Without realising, you’ve shoved your feet into a cocoon in the duvet, you’re led practically in the foetal position and yep, when you go to take another sip you find you’ve finished you’re cup of tea already. An hour has slipped you by. The tasks you were supposed to do are now calling your name fervently, but it doesn’t seem so hard now. Even the sun seems to have repelled the rain for a while. You get up and continue with your evening, but in the back of your mind a little door creaks open, a face peeping out with a ‘pssst!’ beckoning you back into their world.

 

Image source:

[http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_jE0YTMIeAlE/TOsgQ8Ut2KI/AAAAAAAAALA/FBMMhwDxc9M/s1600/reading%252Bin%252Bbed.jpg]

What’s the big deal with fireworks?

What is the big deal? What is the fascination with fireworks? Every year they are the same rockets, just a different order. No matter how much money they spend, the same outcome occurs. Standing around, freezing cold, staring at the sky as deafening blasts hit that uncomfortable pitch in your ears, the one which makes you wince a little before your face is illuminated by coloured lights.

But perhaps the fascination is more for the atmosphere of the event than the event itself. The mist rises from your mouth, peering over the edge of your tightly wound scarf to mingle with the smoke drifting lazily through the black, curling away from the mountain of flames devouring Guy’s doll. Then it clears to show the children staring wide-eyed at the sky, mouth’s encircling their wonder. Sliding lights shimmer across their irises as their pupils widen, occasionally breaking their reverie to tug on the sleeve of their parent, urging them to ‘Look! Look!’ and you can’t help but feel your inner child stirring from her slumber.

Of course, not every child is as enthralled by the symphonic explosions ringing through the night, but something hazy settles over you so that even their shrill shrieks of misplaced fear sounds distant and muffled. You tug your coat to envelope you closer, just as the numerous couples envelope each other, pressed tightly like penguins in the face of a blizzard. The old dear raises her crinkled smile as the youngsters revel, their parents cushioned in a moment of peace.  The last sizzle fades as applause rises, the unspoken thank you to the organisers of your event.

This is the fairground’s cue, whirring back to life to entice visitors to spin, drop, twirl, twist, soar and scream. Synthesized music pierces your eardrums once more, following a moment’s respite from the fireworks. The fairground workers, travelling men with stern eyes set in boredom, repeatedly hit the buttons to fire a booming voice over the people, calling for your ‘ATTENTION!’ in an accent that may or may not be French (who knows why?), and then ‘ARE-A-A-ARRRREEEE YOU READYYYY!!’ Well, are you?

A trail of sweet scents tease your nostrils, tantalizing aromas of doughnuts and crepes that smell even better than they look, with candy-floss disintegrating as the warmth of tongues dissolve the texture you can’t quite grasp. Once you eventually collect together the assortment of coins to buy these pleasures, you always realise that they definitely look better than they taste. The overkill of sugar and carbs tingle your mouth a little as you pass various lights and delights. Wandering the dusty path, adding your imprint to the many before yours, you find yourself perusing the stalls of stacked cans and polka-dotted dart boards. Your eyebrow is raised as challengers step up, lifting gun to shoulder or dart to eye line in order to win the lion with a distorted face which has swung from the rafters for weeks now. Who knows how many people have been conned on these travelling stalls, and you know that the probabilities are not in your favour, and yet you can’t help wanting to see if you will be champion today.

You’ve probably lost feeling in your fingertips by now, so you drag yourself away from temptation to find your friends, but they are lost in the sea of knitted hats and dark coats gliding by each other. Drifting into the slipstream, the current carries you deeper into the belly of the fair, spitting you out by the dodgems who’s music tramples over the rival rides own melodies. Your friends zip around the temporary arena in a flurry of blinking lights and collisions that make you wince, all except the one friend loaded like a packhorse on the side-lines, who you sidle up to with a smile. They murmur something about feeling nauseous after the last ride, their deely-boppers flashing while they munch on the pick-a-mix sweets which lure children into hyperactivity. You stuff your hands deeper into your pockets, settled in serene silence despite the crescendo of activity around you, and realise that maybe, this is what the big deal is.

 

 

 

Image source:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/hupaishi/

Copyright belongs to the original artist

Facing the Dawn

 

 

 

Written for my Creative Non-Fiction formative assignment:

I knew then, that this was a moment I would never forget. The orb rose further, coating all that can be seen in morganite, amber, amethyst, ruby. The lonely lifeguard tower gazed out over the waves, each ripple carrying jewelled surf that swelled and crashed, splintering each crystal into a thousand pieces. Fixated on the Spanish Sun as it broke over the horizon, I felt at peace. Beside me, my Stepdad watched just as keenly as I, the shared thought between us that this was worth the 5am waking. We were alone in our observation, or so it felt. Perhaps a million people around the globe were witnessing the Sun announce the new day, while others watch yesterday disintegrate, but in that slice of time it was just us. Our only companions that morning had been the heavy machinery which had cruised the beach, erasing the litter from holidaymakers and restoring the sand back to its intended state of soft powder. But even they had ambled away, leaving us unaccompanied as the sky’s gradient rose from deepest black to the delightful tones of pastel crayons.

It is impossible not to feel at peace in such tranquillity. A rare instant where I felt 100% at ease, my thoughts spanned nothing beyond this scene. Few words were spoken between my Stepdad and me, but none were needed. I knew this would always be the golden thread of closeness between us, an experience shared with no-one but each other. I felt privileged that this man, who had elevated my family to new heights and more importantly, brought serenity into my Mum’s life,  would share this with me and show me something to admire. I had suffered, haven’t we all, but he was soothing old wounds by illumination of the great things in this world, far greater than mere humans. So full of knowledge and a calm assurance, I was once more his attentive audience as he wove a patchwork of recollected stories around us, with ski slopes and mountains, grassy meadows and camp fires.

I was in awe. My camera clicked away incessantly as I tried to record the landscape in amazement, in fear that one day my memory may betray me of this moment, the moment I was face to face with the power and wonder of a universe. Behind me lay a country of millions, some raising their heads bleary-eyed to the morning, but in front of me lay only the open sea and then, the universe. The stars that had previously pirouetted now faded away, anticipating their next cue to celebrate the night. Beyond the unbroken line the majestic fire was clawing its way higher, and we were at its mercy. It is absurd of humans to believe we have ultimate control, ultimate supremacy. In reality, we are the smallest insignificant creatures floating on a rock, oblivious to the wonders that grace us every day. It is true that we never fully appreciate something until it is absent from our lives. Sometimes we don’t recognise a diamond when another presents it to us, if only we were to open our eyes. Well, the snapshot in my mind of that new dawn, complete with silver-lined clouds, is perhaps the brightest Crown Jewel of all I that I have.

Images are photographed and edited by myself. Taken Jun/July 2010, published here first Oct 12

An Object Lost

Writing Task 3: Writing through Objects (one we have lost)

I peered into her bag, content at seeing my phone, I.D and bank card nestled amongst her purse and receipts. All was well. I raised the glass to my lips, tipping the amber fire down my throat. We fluffed our hair one last time and ventured into the night, joining the students town-ward bound. The hours slurred into each other until I became aware of cotton on my cheek and numbness in my limbs. Yep, I had ended up at home, face down on my bed again. With one eye closed, I sought my phone and other essentials. A flash of silver on my hideous bottle-green sofa betrayed its whereabouts, a moment before I gave in to the alcohol-induced slumber.

I finally surfaced from my comatose state some hours later. I sat up, regretting the harsh movement as my stomach rebelled. As the spinning room levelled out, my hand curled around my phone on the sofa, brushing the cool plastic of my I.D which I shoved inside the purse I had left neglected on the floor.  My hand reached back for my bank card, anticipating the thin grooves of my name to glide against my fingertips like braille. Instead, they were met with the rough upholstery of my ancient sofa, coarse rather than smooth, fabric rather than plastic.

In that instant I was wide awake. My sleep-fuzzed brain cleared as I scrambled for my bank card. Running into the hall, I yelled for my friend in panic. Her bag was turned inside out, the floor searched; every crack and crevice in the house which the card could’ve scurried into was inspected. All to no avail.

The realisation hit me like a slap in the face. It was Lost. My card, my lifeline, my money was unreachable. My heart was pounding double-time as I tried to retrace my steps, working myself into a state of anger, frustration and confusion as I paced back and forth.

“What are you worried about?” my friend asked coolly, not even glancing up from her glossy magazine. Apoplectic rage started dangerously bubbling, about to erupt with colourful curses when my brain registered the question, stumping my wrath as it processed the words. Well, what was I worried about? If it didn’t show up, then I would just have to cancel the card. I would lose access to my money for a few days. The thought makes me tense even now, but why?

Why was that piece of plastic so vital at that instant? I had my roof over my head, food in the fridge, a warm bed and clean running water. Whether or not I had money in my pocket or numbers on an ATM screen, I could sleep knowing that I will survive tomorrow. I will not starve. I will not catch pneumonia. Typhoid is not going to visit me anytime soon. The worst that will happen is missing the offer on those Jaffa cakes. Life will go on.

Why are we that concerned with the digital money we never touch, the pieces of paper and metal we do, and the pocket-sized plastic? Yes, they are necessary in our culture for the basics of survival, but after that, the excess is not a matter of life or death. As I contemplated this my shoulders felt less tense, my breathing shallower. Being rich doesn’t enhance our survival rate much beyond those of average wealth.  Money doesn’t make the sea smell saltier, a baby’s laugh sound sweeter or a kiss feel more passionate. We will not die if we have no money for a day or two. We worry if there is nothing to worry about, so programmed are we to concern ourselves with trivial matters. What are we really worried about?

 

Image is my own, October 2012

Home

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My first writing task of my academic year was to write about home, inspired by writers in Granta magazine..

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