Relighting fires and other such cliches :)

Following on from writing this entry….

I am awake at 3am, and I stink of woodsmoke in the most fantastic of ways. My eyes sting and apparently will do so for the next couple of days but I don’t care. I’ve just had the most soul-restoring evening – maybe not restoring but at least a bit of breath to restart the inner fires.

Sitting on a beach huddled in a doggy blanket (99p from charity shop) in the middle of winter round a fire that seems to be giving of more smoke than heat – these are the kinds of crazy things Cat does when she’s being alive. GOOD. All after a wonderfully gluttonous christmas-type meal which is probably the best I’ve ever had because all the people there were actually friends and enjoyed talking to each other. (in the photo, left to right – Liz, Hikari, Chris)

I discovered that it’s impossible to light candles on the beach, so instead I lit you all some glowsticks and made swirly spiral patterns in the sand 🙂

(click on link for a few photos)

mmmm. So I think it’s time for sleep now. Watching fires is amazingly good fun, makes winamp visualisations look tame in comparison 😉 . And there is something oddly wholesome about the simplicity of sitting round a fire with friends on a full stomach, chatting and staying up through the darkest night. In other words – it felt good.

A long way to go but I’ve remembered where to start.


So here we are, turning point of the seasons, ready to welcome the return of the light.

It couldn’t come at a better time. The shift from Japan to “life-at-home” hit me a lot harder than I expected, and rather than a chance to relax and recuperate it’s been frankly exhausting. The biggest influence of this has been my parents, cliche but true, whose opinion on what I should be doing is almost at right angles to what I’m striving towards. To see my dad almost in tears of dissapointment was probably the worst moment. My life has felt on edge almost continually, and I have no-where of my own to relax. I’ve lost the plot as it were, no chi-kung, no balanced nutrition, no regular exercise, just a kind of frantic job-searching mixed with escaping for a few days of bliss with friends before having to return.

The result? I feel reduced to a pathetic snivelly thing who suffers insomnia, terrible acne, exhausting mood swings, and, as my hairdresser pointed out today, hair breakage and general loss. She cut my hair just after I returned from Japan, and commented on how healthy and vibrant it was – and was seriously concerned to see the state it was in today. “You should go and see a doctor, maybe you have thyroid problems or something. In the meantime you have to pamper and look after yourself; hair and nails are probably the last thing to start breaking so its not a good sign”.

Whinge over. It’s time to get my life back together.

I hate Christmas, for me its filled with the worst kind of family politics. But, this year I’m happy to say I’m doing something for the solstice. Right now I’m at my friend Chris’s house, with Lizzie and the sweet bishounen Hikari-from-Japan. Hikari has been a blessing to me in the last week he stayed, providing me with an excuse to relax, spend time chatting in cafes about life, love and boys, and generally has been a light to my soul. (which is appropriate given that Hikari = Light in Japanese 🙂 ) We are cooking a kind of improvised christmas dinner, and then the intention is to build a fire on the beach, and I will be lighting candles for everyone I can think of.

And it’s not all been bad news. I’ve spent some good time with friends, catching up particularly on old friendships I’ve been neglecting. I now have a car, which provides extra freedom despite making my environmental-ethics twinge :). I have a job interview on Thursday, in Exeter, which I’m feeling fairly confident about. It offers freedom and the chance to start a new chapter. I’m still drawing, a little bit here and there, I still have enough of a life-spark to not give up.

I can say this, for truly – in times like this, my friends have saved me. There are many people who have given me support and love, even if they didn’t see it a simple hug or a listening ear, a joke or some shared laugheter – these things have brought me through this far. That and my sense of humour which tends to kick in self-depreciatingly at the lowest moments 🙂 There is something else as well, but I tend to kill it when I put it in words so I won’t.

I still have so much to learn. My practice is so often different from my theory 😉

*thank you*

((NB: This isnt meant as some sort of pity-inspiring post or whinge. more of a note to self – things have got pretty low but I still remember the light. I’ve talked far too much lately about needing to get things together, but now its critical. I’m not good at admitting when I’m having problems or asking for help – usually because the first thing that springs to mind is “dont complain, it’s not as bad as X’s situation”. I don’t know why I let things get this way. This has got to be the turning point for me. Here I go..))

“The Breathtaking Beauty of Imperfection”

I wanted to share this story.

Back in 1984, a 4 year old girl knocked a saucepan of boiling water over her body. The result : a lot of pain, and third degree burns over a large portion of her body.

Fast forward to age 18, and after a hearty dose of school kid teasing and self conscious complexes, she decides to send out a “fuck you” to the world and stop hiding her scars. The result: being told time and time again she is “cute despite the scars.”

Aged 20, and finally she meets someone who tells her she is beautiful because of scars, and their wonderful fractal-chaotic patterns. You can see a picture here if you like. And also read her full story on this page, and how she has come to see her scars as a kind of body art, even incorporating them into deliberate scarification pictures. (I find I need to refresh it to get it to work).

“I have no need or wish for your pity or sympathy. All I ask of you is that you try to begin to love your own ‘imperfections’ and see the incredible beauty that they have.”

I’ve inherited an unfortunate chunk of perfectionism and worry from my mother it would seem. And the worst part is how I apply this to myself, my relationships, the world around me. But lately, something has been changing. I’ve started seeing how the beauty of things is caught in the transience, the imperfections and flaws that turn a repetitive stream of flawless, identical crystals into complex chaotic organic individual occurances. The beauty of a sunset and all that 🙂 I’ve started seeing how Zak sees, when he loves not my good points but just -me- through all the flaws and annoyances (even if I irritate the hell out of him). I want to start seeing things this way, and maybe I am.

I’ve been reading a lot about the roots of mythology lately, and have come to feel that the sterility of the garden of eden, perfect though it may be, is something to be left behind if you want to really engage with life. Otherwise you might as well have stayed in the womb. I see the eating of the apple as taking a step out into the world of life and death, and this as an important step, because from that come all the subsequent struggles that form and challenge and create the chaos of life. Sitting in bliss makes me feel uneasy, kinda like sitting in a warm bath for too long. I always get impatient to get out the bath and go and do something.

M: Why do you say you love people for their imperfections?
C: Aren’t children lovable because they’re falling down all the time and have little bodies with the heads too big? Didn’t Walt Disney know all about this when he did the seven dwarfs? And these funny little dogs that people have – they’re lovable because they’re so imperfect
M : Perfection would be a bore wouldn’t it?
C: It would have to be. It would be inhuman. The umbilical point, the humanity, the thing that makes you human and not supernatural and immortal – that’s what’a lovable. That is why some people have a very hard time loving God, because there is no imperfection there. You can be in awe, but that would not be real love. It’s Christ on the cross that becomes lovable.
M : What do you mean?
C : Suffering. Suffering is imperfection is it not?
M : The story of human suffering, striving, living —
C: –and youth coming to knowledge of itself, what it has to go through.
-Joseph Cambell/Bill Moyers, “The power of myth”


Do you ever have that feeling it’s time to outgrow old patterns of behaviour and yet something inside you will cling to them in preference to venturing on, despite the fact they are stagnating and out of date?
*takes a breath*

well I’ve doodled the bastard thats responsible. Just a bit of light relief 🙂

My main quest at the moment is trying to get away from home and the grip of parental expectations. It’s harder than it sounds on paper.

I just returned from an amazing weekend up in Birmingham, where I drank hot wine from the German Market, stayed with Lizzie and drew and drew, went to an art gallery and many good things.

I found that , ultimately, the thing that keeps me going when everything else seems to go to crap is “just look at yourself snivelling away, how silly it looks!” and “”

I also saw the fantastic Dresden Dolls Has anyone else ever heard of them? The best way to describe them is “goth/punk cabaret” – also reminds me a lot of “Delerium” from Sandman. check out some of the videos, “coin operated boy” is pretty fun.

Live music and late night doodling refuels my soul.

Have you been in the woods lately? I discovered invisible spider webs and realised you can *hear* leaves falling if you are quiet enough.

9 nights till the days start getting longer.

“Wrong about Japan”

I arrived back from Japan at the very end of October, and the last month has involved letting the whole thing sink in, dealing with a strange reverse-culture shock and the bleakness of winter; and now rushing about chasing the elusive possibility of an interesting research job in Exeter. (Interview tomorrow..)

I have a couple of diaries, some scrap book pictures of amazing outfits, and far too many photos to process, upload and so forth. I’ll get round to it soon enough; probably when the rest of my life seems a fraction more certain. (a couple of photos here)

The reason I’m breaking the silence is to share with you this:

“Wrong about Japan”

By Peter Carey, read by Jonathan Hyde

Inspired by his son’s interest in Japanese comics, prize-winning novelist Peter Carey decided to investigate the ways in which traditional Japanese culture can still be discerned in the manga and animated films which obsess modern Japan.

It’s very funny, interesting, and I think many of you would enjoy listening..just a few 15 min episodes…ah go on! It also gives you quite a nice angle on the place 😉
“Would you like to go to Japan?” I asked
“If you like” he said.
“aaah…I thought you’d be excited?”
His lips flickered and he lowered his eyes, “not if I have to see the real Japan, you’ve got to promise.” said Charlie, “no temples. no museums”
“..what would we do?”
“we could buy cool manga
“There’d be no english translations..”
“I don’t care! I’d eat raw fish..”
*flatly*”What else?”
“and slimy things. I’d eat everything..”

(JOSIE! Sounds like they stayed in Asakusa…though maybe not Taito 😉 )

sounds familiar 🙂

(And if you don’t like RealPlayer, there is an alternative here.

Hope you are all well, I am vaguely keeping up with LJ though most computer time is spent job-hunting at the moment.