Taking Stock

To my girl,

Thank you first and foremost for drawing back here; drawing me back to creativity and expression and reminding why we set this up in the first place. I needed it, I’m having another “what is this life” moment and I’m re-evaluating my priorities and self goals in the short and long term.

You asked about my relationship with music, reconnecting with Music… the “experiment” as you put it. Well, here’s an update.

I bought a record player. My little red leather suitcase has pride of place in my living room, and often I sit on the the wooden floor basking in sunlight listening to vintage vinyl from Mum and Dad. Dreams do come true. Whole albums are listened to and time slows when I stop to take a moment to myself. I’ve bought new releases too, like ‘Hummingbird‘ by John Smith (the title track which I discovered using the app “Shazam” whilst standing in a music shop in Brighton in October).

Since June last year, I’ve taken action to strengthen my love affair with Music. I know you smiled when I told you that I joined an amateur musical theatre group, taking a leaf out of your book and treading the not-so-familiar boards recently in our 6 nights run of performances. I loved it. I loved being part of something and working together to create something real and concrete, feeling like part of a community. We rehearsed for months and it paid off, I made friends and it was great to have something in my life that wasn’t work but that required as much focus and attention.

I’ve been to more gigs! Lau in August (and in December) were a highlight, deepening my relationship with the Scottish music scene. What a night was had as part of the Edinburgh International Music Festival, a wealth of talent and experience right on my doorstep. I’ve since moved flat and am a mere stones throw from the Leith Theatre venue so I’m always keen to see what’s going on there, including seeing The Coral there  a few months ago. That night seeing Lau sticks out in my memory too, because I had finally stepped away from an incredibly negative relationship and the release was empowering. I spent the whole evening either dancing freely with Fran or eyeballing the bartender over multiple gin and tonics (to much success thank you very much, and the lovely J and I are still in touch). It wouldn’t be my story if there wasn’t a little romance mixed up in the music, and again I know you’ll smile because you know it’s true.

A life goal was ticked off last summer too! Well, perhaps not a life goal but certainly something which I had longed for since childhood. Liam Gallagher, you brash, cool and tears-of-joy inducing rock-n-roll star. From way back when I used to sit at the foot of the stone staircase in our house in NB listening through the door to my older brother’s tape player blasting ‘Wonderwall‘ I have loved Oasis. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old but I knew all the words. You didn’t disappoint, and I thank Ellie for being there with me, our friendship having grown from teenage days spent in and out of Aberdeen pubs and venues with ‘underage’ stamps boldly emblazoned on the back of our hands and eyeliner scrawled around our eyes. Ellie forever introduces me to new music and she’s in on the “let’s just get out and about and see what happens” attitude I’m trying to channel. We’re off to see a French group called Juniore tomorrow through in Glasgow and I’ve been listening to them non-stop for days. Fem, French, indie pop, 1960s vibes…what’s not to like?

Finally, I’ve taught music lessons at school; successful, engaging, interesting music lessons with my class, another bow to my string of teaching every subject and teaching them well. Okay, I put that pressure on myself, no one is good at everything, but music is my thing, and I want that to come across. So, long may it continue.

In conclusion, the “experiment” was a success, and continues to be so. Skip out all the above if needs be, it worked. Re-visiting a neglected passion has enriched my life and in less than a year I’ve had so many positive experiences that it’s good to stop and take note of them. Life is for living, love and joy and you’ve reminded me so.

Thanks, as ever,  tumblr_okojqmVsLk1qj60rgo1_1280

Love Carolyn. x

 

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Bittersweet

Thoughts on finishing one book and moving on to the next…

It’s not me, it’s you; it’s time to call it a day.
At the edge of one relationship and not quite ready for the next,
Caught on the cusp of sadness and anticipation.

Wistfully remembering the little details which unfolded on the pages,
Yet glancing guiltily over to the other side of the bed,
The next adventure winking, waiting to whisk me away.

Tenatatively, I’m letting go of the familiar script.
The intoxication, the polluting tendrils of a fiction which blurred reality,
Mirrored, distorted and reimagined chapters of my own life story.

I’m losing a friend, breaking things off with a lover,
Time has run its course and we push forward.
There are so many other possibilities waiting to tempt me.

Will the next one live up to the last?

What Does It Even Mean?

I saw a clip today whilst procrastinating and scrolling through the realms of misspent time on social media and it made me smile with such intensity I was near tears.

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It made me want to raise a fist and exclaim:  “yes, go you! This girl is on to it!” because I so admire her honest, youthful feminist attitude to gender stereotyping and how they explicitly affect her at such a young age. Daisy hits the nail on the head when she says: ‘Everyone thinks girls should just be pretty, and boys should just be adventurous…I think this is wrong, why should boys and girls clothes even be separated because we’re just as good as each other?’ Amen sister.

Where the boys’ slogan on a tshirt reads “Think Outside The Box” and the girls’ tshirt reads “Hey” Daisy doesn’t even know what sort of inspiration she as a young girl is supposed to get from wearing a tshirt with the slogan “hey”:  ‘What is that even supposed to mean…I don’t get it…what does it inspire you to do?’

My favourite part of the clip is where we see young activist Daisy with sheer joy, giggles and silliness take a stand against the separation of the clothes in the supermarket: ‘I want to be adventurous, and I think girls want to be heroes so I’m going to put them (the tshirts) in the girls section’ and off she goes; so bold, high-five Daisy.

Seeing such a reaction in a young girl is such a wonderful way to engage people in thinking about how we raise our children and the accepted labels and expectations we have for our boys and girls.

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I’m reading a book that I picked up on a little bookshop in London on my birthday by Irish writer Emer O’Toole titled ‘Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently ’. This book caught my attention in the same way this clip has done so today, and both are adding to the development of my own views on gender and exploring what it means to ‘act like a girl’. I think it is very important for me to think about this not only on a personal level as a woman in the twenty first century but also the impact that my attitudes towards gender and equality will equate in my professional practice as a teacher.

Hello You

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‘One inspirational letter can change your life forever.’

Well that’s something I can certainly stand behind.

 It’s no secret that I have an active enthusiasm for the written word, and written correspondence by letter is right up there amongst the favourites. It was much joy that I came across another avid epistolarian, and Jodi has taken her passion one step further by engaging in an letter-writing drive.

Browsing through the latest issue of ‘Oh Comely’‘Issue 32 in which we talk about letters’-this one had me at hello- I earmarked an article titled ‘Dear Stranger’ about author and poet Jodi Ann Bickley’s project: ‘One Million Lovely Letters’.

To summarise, finding herself swallowed up in darkness whilst suffering from meningoencephalitis (Google was required) Jodi thought of others who were similarly losing themselves. She decided to set up a website, send messages out to the world via Twitter: ‘I’m going to write you a letter…just to make the day a bit better or to remind you of the bloody amazing stuff about you you’ve forgotten.’ Overnight she received two hundred responses from strangers, and Jodi responded to these individually with much care and attention. The project has expanded and unique, thoughtful letters are sent and received across the world by Jodi and her team at ‘One Million Lovely Letters’.  Jodi has even brought out a book with the same title to tell her story, and I have just added it to my online “shopping cart”.

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We’re the same age, Jodi and I, and that caught my attention on top of the subject matter of the magazine article. We are two individuals, strangers to one another with a shared appreciation for letter writing and understanding of the subtle power which one small gesture can have for the life of someone just at that right moment in time.

This morning I wrote my own contribution to Jodi’s project and future exhibition. Encouraged by the invitation at the end of the ‘Oh Comely’ article: ‘something which would make a stranger’s day’,  I sat down with a cup of tea and put pen to paper to scroll out three pages to someone, anyone. I wonder where it will end up. I included a letter for Jodi herself full of praise and enthusiasm, because she should know she’s doing something really inspirational.

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For anyone else who might want to take part, you can find more information about ‘One Million Lovely Letters’ here.

And of course, I wouldn’t even know anything about the project without the article by Lottie Storey in ‘Oh Comely’ magazine, and their website can be found here.

“…when I’m letter writing it feels a little bit like magic”.

Feeling Inspired

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I set out today to my favourite spot to write, a little café tucked down a side street in the less fashionable end of town. Stationed on a large, wooden up-cycled communal table I set up office with black coffee and a delicious wholemeal scone as big as a man’s fist. The weather outside had subdued from intense hailstones coming at you at a sideways tilt to thick, fluffy flakes of snow giving a whole new meaning to the image of April showers.

I do not love the city that I live in. I do the best with what I have, if you put out positive vibes in life you’re more likely to feel positive vibes back in return, but Aberdeen is lacking as cities go. Where other Scottish cities are applauded for their integrated and dynamic cultural heart amidst a hubbub of commerce and trade, Aberdeen is like the poor relation in the family tree. In recent years something has gone awry, and the Granite City has lost her sparkle.

I set out this morning to have a day to myself, to get out of the house and to go find inspiration. And lo’, inspiration I did so happily find in the form of a poster advertising a festival of visual art and design here in Aberdeen this very weekend. The by-line for the Look Again Festival: “become a tourist in your own city”, caught my attention hook, line and sinker, and before I had even finished my coffee I had looked the festival up online, plotted out a map of the projects sites around the city centre, and set off on a treasure hunt. Seek and you will find.

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The Look Again Festival premiered in 2015 as part of a three-year project to showcase the best of visual art and design from the north east of Scotland. Recognising that the region was “crying out for a large scale festival celebrating its innovative visual art and design projects” the cultural community combined forces and resources. The festival seeks to encourage creative connections locally, nationally and internationally, and support and promoting the existing and next generation of artists and designers here in the north east.

Having spent many years looking at this city in a certain light, I want to give it a chance to change my mind a little and open my eyes to the creativity and cultural atmosphere that I always felt Aberdeen has been missing. I intend to follow the motto in the by-line, to become a tourist in this city and the Look Again festival is a fantastic platform to help me see the potential Aberdeen has to offer. I hope to write another post in a couple days to reflect upon the exhibitions and creative spaces which I come across over the course of this weekend, and from what I’ve seen so far, I already have so much positive words to say.

For more information on the full festival guide take a look at the Look Again Festival website linked here.

Floor It

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As is so often the way, it came to mind seemingly from nowhere tonight, a memory which opened a door to another memory which sparked nostalgia for a moment of shared novice romance and silliness.

A number of years ago, whilst lying in the dark and still talking long passed the decision to turn out the light, my dear friend E. told me how she always loved the moment in our teenage years when I told her of how, when I grew up, I wanted to have a room in my house which would be near empty of furniture. In this room with wooden floorboards would sit a good sound system, a record player, and some really top notch speakers. The vision I had as a teenager, to spend my spare time in my future adult life zoned out of reality whilst lying on the ground zoned in to music, lived on long passed the teenage dreams, as well as the prematurely nostalgic reminiscing of my early twenties, to my far more ‘together’ mid-twenties and I still want that room in my own house. When E. told me then that she remembered something that I had said no doubt in adolescent off hand conversation about our hopes and dreams for life, I was touched that she thought that it was a significant remark, and that she was right to think so. I think it would be heavenly, and that’s just a little just something about me.

Tonight, I lay on the carpeted living room floor of my parent’s house at twilight, the daylight lingering thanks to the long anticipated Scottish spring. Track of choice to start the spiral of absorption into music was ‘Really Love’ by D’Angelo. Closing my eyes, with a smile on my face and in my heart I remembered the night he (the crush of the moment) first played that track to me as we hung out in the wee hours in his garage, after a night of ridiculous dancing and fairly hilarious unsteady cycling in the dark. Surrounded by beer cans, garden furniture and surfboards, me and that blonde man with the best smile in town, it was the Australian dream. We talked, we laughed, we shared music and the memory will always be special to me, that track will always take me back to that summer of fleeting novice romance and silliness.