Thursday, July 12, 2012

baked bean, Tomboy, gay, femme, lesbian, butch, genderqueer, boy?

Alrighty, so there's this post here that I started writing apparently in September 2009, which now from the point of being out and living as male and about to start testosterone I think it might be fun/interesting to actually finally post. All I managed of it at the time is as follows: So I've been sitting around for the last while basically "...getting kinda bored of sitting here refreshing Twitter and Facebook repeatedly," -to quote my recent tweet haha, and you know what the always cure for boredom is, right? Writing, silly :) so, while sitting here bored, I realised that I hadn't yet subscribed to one of my favorite Beaver Bunch host's independent (from the Bunch) channel, and so off I popped to to have a browse, but not before watching Kade's most recent B.B. post, on coming out age etc., which was what ended up inspiring the possibility of a new J.J. topic which, frankly, I can't believe I haven't actually talked about at all yet in any detail, considering it's something I've given more thought to probably than religion, and definitely than Tony Blair haha.

I have this memory that just emerged from the very misty mists of my mostly quiet memory bank a few months or maybe a year or so ago, of hanging around in the backyard at Babington (my paternal Grandparents' place in London) with a few of the usual gang of cousins my sister and I spent most of our childhood wreaking havoc with, and having what now seems to me to have been a very interesting conversation indeed. In this itchy-sweater-fuzzy recollection, my (evidently fairly insightful) older cousin, Christopher, seems to be questioning me on my gender identity, although (of course) in a manner less articulate, due to a lack of vocabulary and knowledge characteristic of our ages and contexts. I'll reiterate that I am not blessed with Augusten Burroughs' exceptional power of memory (just one of many talents I & Mr.Burroughs do not share); the majority of my memories before age six or seven are not available within my present consciousness, and most of those even from then onwards are very scratchy and intangible, this particular recently surfaced clip being no exception. But I pencil-sketch in that he was most likely referencing my dungarees, scruffy t-shirt, short, grubby nails, the worn, boyish boat shoes I refused to part with (no matter how difficult they became to put on or decipher the original color of-a cause of stress which my poor mother is yet to be relieved of, although they're now the original black Converse I bought when I was fourteen and refuse to let her throw out), my extreme distaste for anything pink or flowery or glittery, and my remarkably "unfeminine" ability and will to meet my male peers' tree climbing abilities, and asking... why? Or what, maybe? All I can see is a bunch of us hanging off of trees and precarious fence-edges, talking about why I wasn't a real girl, and him asking if I wanted to be a boy. I can see my scruffy, complex, intense little self giving this a few moments' thought before responding naturally that I would. I clearly then placed the mental footage of this conversation in the same room where I put the plethora of memories and feelings from a similar age which abruptly resurfaced only a few years ago as blindingly clear evidence of my inherent attraction to women; very early crushes, childhood behavior; relationships with other children, etc. which, until my first real love interest turned up, had lay unhelpfully dormant in my puzzlement at my lack of any real physical interest in any of my boyfriends. But here it is again, surfacing as a relevant little episode in my internal (well, now partly external) discussion regarding gender identity.

The story of my questionable gender identity seems to have started before I even got my own nutrients, back when I was still hijacking them from the umbilical chord-I had been under the impression for some time that the doctors actually told my parents at the whatever-week scan that I was a boy because of a strong heartbeat or something, but I just got off the phone with my dear Mother, and it turns out that actually it was just her that thought I was a boy, hence them looking at the name Alexander (which became Alexandra when I was born, and Joanna when Grandma didn't like Alexandra haha). But either way, my parental research concludes that I was just always boyish. I socialized predominantly with boys, only venturing reluctantly over to hang out with the girls, I recall, when I had a fight with my best friend Dom, & finding them painfully uninteresting and dumb. I've been refusing to wear the impractical, nauseatingly frilly "girls'" underpants intended for me since I was probably around six or seven. Although aware that I look my most conventionally attractive when "dolled/femmed up"; in make up, dress, heels, etc., I've never felt at all comfortable or myself in such attire, and when I look at myself in make-up, I genuinely feel more like I'm looking at a man in drag, as I've probably been heard saying on a few occasions in the past.

I'm coming back to this now a good couple of weeks after I first started writing it, and I'm gonna keep on the slightly hard to follow path that it seems to have been taking so far by adding another anecdote from the disorganized banks of my memory. Going back to around maybe age nine or ten, I can remember laying in bed on my back and putting my hands onto my then perfectly flat chest, and thinking of how it wasn't going to stay that way. And I think I was mostly cogitating the practical implications of this imminent change which mattered to me at the time, like how I would no longer be able to beat my chest like Tarzan haha. It was only a couple of minutes of thought, and not something which you would've thought so prominent that it managed above so many others to remain in my consciousness, but maybe this in itself is telling of its importance. Then we cut to maybe seven of eight years later, and I'm entering sixth form (which is the last two years of schooling before college-age, for any unlikely U.S. readers), where the dress code is different from the rest of the school; the sixth form uniform is "black and white smart dress" for girls and "a black suit with white shirt and the sixth form tie" for boys. And while it wouldn't have been particularly difficult for me to have just worn black pants and a white shirt like most of the girls did (it's not like the girls uniform specifically required a skirt), I decided I wanted to wear the suit and tie, and so I did. At the time I remember getting slightly negative or at least hesitant comments from my head of year, and a little from my mom, but they mostly conceded that I would wear what I wanted to anyhow, and eventually I think a couple of other girls followed my lead. Now the next memory that I have that seems pretty relevant is of standing in the kitchen and my mother suddenly and very unexpectedly letting me know that if I wanted to get a sex-change, I could tell her and it would be ok. At the time I appreciated her support and openness (as always) but went on only to reference it as an amusing anecdote.
... And that's all there is in the draft. Here I sit now two and a half years later finally having addressed and accepted my identity a little over six months ago, and I just can't believe it took me so long, despite having had inklings there was something that needed addressing as long ago as when I drafted this post. It had to get to the stage where I was so underweight my wifecicle recoiled from seeing my topless back and ribs, where I was wearing a sports bra three sizes too small for me and slouching and tugging at my shirt constantly, where I was randomly falling to pieces and sobbing hysterically without being able to explain why. But here I am around a year after that point, and my wifecicle is still here, and my chesticles are still here but a little more under control, and I am so much better. So far not much has happened in measurable terms I suppose; I've changed my name, I've come out to family and friends, I've started binding properly and whatnot, I've got a haircut I like better, I've been in general therapy, been assessed by the local psychiatric people, and finally I've been assessed by a gender specialist who subsequently referred me to his consultant endocrinologist for secondary assessment and testosterone prescription. But even though I'm really just getting started, I feel so. much. better. I'm not really sure where this post is going to be honest, I really just wanted to publish this draft from days of yore and comment on how crazy it is that I waited so long, and how much more happy and comfortable I am now that I have finally figured out and come to terms with my male identity. There y'have it. I'm a boy. And my blogging tends to go on over here these days but I'm gonna be leaving this at times very embarrassing time capsule of my (first, I suppose) adolescence here for fun. Bless my silly but so earnest baby self.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Lunar Chalice

If you live in the capital, or have had the smoggy joy of visiting in recent months, you may have involuntarily averted your naturally-drawn eyes from something which looked a little like this:

Well, that's how it went down when I first tried to look like I wasn't reading one of these well thought out posters, anyhow. This happened a couple of times on my recently regular commutes to the other side of the country to maintain my bi-coastal love story, and, wince-worthy as it was typing "" into my browser, eventually my curious feminist queer mind got the better of me. I mean, I sure do love vaginas. Greeted by a fancy flash site intro and the kind of decorative borders and fonts typical of female-targeted ads which I find eternally depressing and patronizing, I skipped my way past this mild disappointment to something far more interesting and genuine in its femininity- a really good idea.

The actual main Mooncup website is far more welcoming to women who don't resemble those in Boots advertisements, and made the process of reading up on this relatively alarming prospect...well, less alarming. The image you're faced with on the homepage is undoubtedly even more wince-inducing than having the word vagina now spewed all over one's browser history, but then you start to read. "Safer, Greener, Cheaper", and the incontestable reasoning behind each. Dozens of reviews, all gushing woman-power and life-changing and never-go-backs. And the assurance that these reviews are not selectively posted. This shit sounds good. But...

...a "cup"? Right up there in my "breakfast of champions"? I should establish that before I became a Mooncup evangelist, my compulsive openness of character was not something that extended into my pants; this was one area of my life left for open discussion with only my sister and almost wife. But having read and researched and discussed the matter so extensively over the past few months, I would now probably happily tell a bank clerk how much lighter my flow is than I thought, or how my cramps have eased up with this magical little silicone sculpture. So here we are, my Mooncup experience over the past two cycles, in stunning technicolor (disclaimer: visual thinkers may wish to avert their minds):

Reading up on the Mooncup, anyone can see that it is a fucking brilliant idea, practically Nobel-prize worthy in its stark ingenuity, and it's difficult not to get eco-shame about not having used it for your entire life when you read the statistics on landfills and waste and tampon-choked sealife (overactive imagination=symptom of eco-shame). But no matter how fantastic an idea it may be, the Mooncup still asks something of you. You have to get your head around the idea of plonking a sizeable silicone receptacle into your vagina. Like, your actual vagina. And, especially for someone, like myself, who doesn't even use tampons because they weird me out, this is not a comfortable prospect. So, I struggled with the idea for a few days. I read a lot. I searched suspiciously for negative reviews and found just enough of a proportion of people who couldn't get their heads around it in practice. And in the end, I just bit the bullet and bought one. Two, actually. It might've been a bit of a weird thought, but it came down to the fact that I am unhappy with my periods. They are a regular pain in my ass, sometimes literally. I get cramps so bad that I sometimes find myself gagging. There is also backpain. And general body weakness. And leakage fear, and night leakage fear. And crying at Sally Jessy Raphael. And all of this descends upon me with near enough complete lack of schedule, turning up pretty much whenever it wants, with utter disregard for any regular cycle. I love being a woman. I view it as a great stroke of luck and a privilege that I was born female, and the only time at which I ever feel even slightly otherwise is when I find myself writhing around in agony, reluctantly wearing underwear intended for females, whining like a bitch. I once found myself telling a chemist that "if I didn't want kids so bad, I would want a hysterectomy." and I didn't like feeling like this about my body, at all. So I bought two.

I was immediately reassured by the handwritten address on the package when it arrived, and also weirdly excited and proud of myself, the latter of which is I think a common, chronic symptom of Mooncup-usage. And from then on the process kind of went amusingly similarly to that of when I first bought my MacBook. I know. But that same anxiety at spending money on something so unfamiliar, having to get used to how to use it, and then feeling like you're a member of some exclusive club or family, and eventually developing a remarkable relationship with the inanimate product in question, and naming it. (I haven't actually named my Mooncup yet, but as I sit here typing away on Clodia, I feel it may be inevitable). So, the day I received my new pal, I tried it out even though I wasn't on yet, as kind of a dress rehearsal (one of the benefits of the Mooncup is that, unlike tampons, it's perfectly safe and comfortable to wear even if you're not on at all, because it isn't absorbent, and thus doesn't screw with your "natural balance" or leave you, to quote 'Buck' from Kill Bill Vol. I, "drier 'n a bucket o' sand"), and this was a scary process. I kind of actually wish I had footage of myself trying to talk myself down, positioning myself experimentally about the bathroom, squirming, laughing at myself, getting freaked out, and then finally pep-talking myself into insertion. And, once I'd adopted a determined attitude and reminded myself of all the reasons why I really had to give this a chance and how worthwhile it would be, it was pretty easy. It just took a little resolve. And once it was in place, I could hardly feel it. Seriously cool stuff.

But then there was removal. I immediately wanted to practice removing it, so I flicked to the removal section of the manual and set to attempting. This part, a little trickier, and a little less comfortable. But I managed, and then reinserted (this part quickly becoming totally comfortable and easy to do) and went about my day for a few hours before removing again, which was this time a little easier. So, a couple of weeks later, I came on and was actually kind of excited to try it out properly. I was lucky in that I wasn't doing anything much other than lazing about at my mother's for the first time I used it, and this made the process of getting acquainted with removal and such pretty stress-free, so I'd recommend trying it out under home-type circumstances for the first cycle if possible, but either way, the changing process got easier, more comfortable, and quicker pretty soon, and by then end of the period, I was also getting used to how often changing is necessary, which is one of the best aspects of the Mooncup as an alternative to tampons or pads. The website and literature generally suggests "8 or so hours", and that it is safe for overnight use, and I'd report this to be accurate, even a little conservative in some cases, as I've found that even with these long periods between changing, my Mooncup is rarely even half full.

This month I was genuinely impatient for my period to show up again, and when it did I was even happier than I was last cycle; I'm now completely comfortable with the removal process, and don't even think twice about the insertion. I'm still wearing panty-liners from time to time just in case, but this is mostly I think residual paranoia from the days of pad use, as the teeny leakage that I've occasionally had with the Mooncup wasn't even enough to have to worry about. Around a week ago I decided I'd sneak over to Norfolk a day earlier than planned as a surprise for the gal, which involved the usual exhausting four hours; car ride, four trains, one bus, and in some of the serious heat we've been sent in recent weeks here in England. Pre-cup, this trip while on would have been unbearable and stressful and possibly even teary; think a shaky, sweaty wee ladygay fumbling desperately with foily sheets of ibuprofen and downing reluctantly the stated dose with a bottle of Highland Spring before draining the remainder of the bottle over her head (this scene hasn't actually happened, by the way, theorizing in unnecessary detail is just a habit of mine). But this wasn't so bad. At all. I haven't really cramped any more than a little twinge on my first couple of days for either of the past two cycles, and the changing process has become swift and simple. I was a little unsure about changing on the train, but this actually worked out fine; with the little steel sink and I sharing such cramped quarters, it was really kind of ideal, and far tidier, more pleasant, and more discreet than changing pads would've been. And so, I arrived intact, having had to change only once, and all was well. Miraculous. Certainly worth the awkward first date.

Of course, the Mooncup does not eradicate my period-related lack of rationale and emotional stability altogether. And there's also the trial and error process of getting the stem just the right length, so that it sits in and doesn't bother you, but isn't too short to grip for removal. And the process of getting good at and comfortable with changing and wearing the Mooncup takes a couple of days or weeks (I'm sure it's different to some extent for everyone), and can be nerve-wracking and require some determination. But my conclusion is that your determination and will is easily and rationally motivated by all that makes the switch to silicone so incredibly worthwhile: it is cheaper, it is greener, and it is more comfortable and convenient and clean than disposable products. It has made me, and I believe that I am one of many, feel so much more at home in my body and at peace with my cycle. And finally, one look into the hard-working, innovative, creative, inspiring family of women that created and run this small but healthy company, and you want to be a part of supporting and growing the Mooncup brand, which really feels more like a project because of its ethics and grassroots base. And I think that this is a great part of what makes so many women who discover the Mooncup become so eager to share this holy grail with any friend, colleague, sister, mother, spouse, aunt, or daughter who will listen; women want this company to grow because they believe in it. And women want to zealously share the secret with their sisters because every woman deserves this relief and freedom and command. Plus, of course, the innumerable benefits of your sister or lover or boss being less grouchy and uncomfortable when Aunt Flo's in town.

My advice to anyone considering switching to the lunar chalice is to read up, buck up, and bite the bullet. Because it is so worth every "eek".

Merry menstruating,


(Any specific questions, queries, or queeries that I haven't addressed here are more than welcome in the comments section, at, or anywhere else you can find me).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

on "Landslide"

"Landslide I wrote on the guitar, and it's another one that I wrote in about five minutes. But see, when I'm really thinking about something ~ I mean when something's really bothering me ~ again, the best thing that I can do is go to the music room, or to the office, where I can write. Because once I put it down and I can read it back, and I can think about what I'm saying, then it makes sense to me. When I'm just thinking it in my head, it's going around and around, and I feel like a little child unable to make a real, substantial decision. And we were talking about our lives... the rest of our lives."

Stevie Nicks

(I'm gonna add to this later; Landslide is my unequivocally favorite song of all time, and is thus a remarkably expansive subject for me haha-watch this space, folks).

Sunday, December 13, 2009


"Down there they are dubious and askance; there nobody thinks as I,
But mind-chains do not clank where ones next neighbour is the sky."
-from "Wessex Heights" (1896), Thomas Hardy.

I've always thought that the sky is so much bigger here; wider.

"Welcome to New York
The Empire State."

I've been theorizing about what my Amelie character introduction would sound like, having watched it through last night for the first time, and so far a definite inclusion in the 'dislikes' would be "the wave of nausea and discomfort that reaches you on remembering that you have to wake up early to catch a train or bus or plane"; that's really awful.

I really need to keep my camera on me at all times; we just drove past a random, living tree by the side of the tracks that some festive soul has adorned with impromptu winter decorations; "little signs of human goodness that make my soul smile" I think can go into the 'likes' category, this being a beautiful example.

To paint the backdrop, I was up at around 2:20 this morning to catch a taxi to Kingston bus station, where I caught the 3:45 bus to Montreal. I then picked up a taxi from Montreal bus depot to Montreal train station, where I picked up my ticket for the 9:30am Amtrak from Montreal to Penn Station, New York, on which I am now sat. Having watched the miles of Canada drift past in a blizzard of whiteness, we're now just across the border and into New York state; it's just started sporadically to rain white here too, and, once customs have given us the go, the landscapes of upstate will be printing across my window as I chug down the country towards the city I am once again calling home.

(pause while customs & border protection make their rounds) wouldn't believe the difference in reception going into these United States with an American passport; the only time I've used my British one (on a school trip), I wasn't even quite sixteen yet, and I remember being treated with enough hostility to leave me genuinely hurt as I left the airport, although, this was probably exacerbated by how accustomed I had been to the usual friendly smiles and "welcome home". The latter wasn't the precise phrase used by the customs officer when I flew into JFK at the end of last month, but "welcome back, hun" was sufficient still to bring that smile and sigh of being home. This officer that's just finished checking our carriage was particularly kind also, and a reminder (as if I needed any more) of why I feel so deeply that I belong here, despite having been born and almost entirely raised in England. I generally put this down to the combination of countless Christmases and Summers in New York, and having been raised by an entirely American mother, but really the origin of my sense of belonging and patriotism isn't all that relevant to me; I just love this big crazy country and feel so blessed to be able to call myself a citizen when so many would give so much for the privilege which I was born with.

Ok, we're moving again and I'm falling into America The Beautiful goo again, so I'm gonna go back to listening to mixed tapes and consuming Pfeffernusse and Twinning's gunpowder green tea and write again when something interests or inspires (of course, as usual).

"Well, Penny, like anything worth writing, it came inexplicably and without method."-Karen Eiffel, Stranger Than Fiction :)

"Like a little spider, I'm climbing the insurmountable, but I never hold myself accountable."-from KT Tunstall's 'Drastic Fantastic'

I know and love so many people who would just adore this ride, these views. It really is so unbearably beautiful, I can't put the Flip down, even though I know it won't do justice to the colors and vastness of life here...(watch this space for a most likely long and dull video of passing upstate landscapes out of a train window haha).

Sign by the railway crossing: "Please drive safely, we <3 our children."

No more lakes now, but there's a big strong river running alongside us whose rocks look like big marshmallows because of the snow.

Ooh, more lakes :) (just outside Port Henry)

I'm getting increasingly curious about these orange "POSTED" signs that I keep seeing stuck to trees.

Slightly concerned that the live No Doubt performance I'm watching may look, to the glance of a passerby, like porn. Hahah...oh my. If I could ever achieve even ten percent of Gwen's stage presence as a frontman, even for one song of one gig, I will be beyond content.

Shoot, I just wanted something to watch, but it's set me onto the ND now. "do it right now, do it right now," maaaan I love Beacon St.; nothing more keeps you hovering longer when you're on a high than old skanky No Doubt. Not that it's their best work; it actually kind of frustrates me when "hardcore", purist fans go on about how they like their earliest work better than the newest just for the sake of letting everyone know that they're such a devoted listener blah blah. Isn't it kind of a little insulting to an artist to be asserting that they haven't made any decent music in years? Ok, rant over haha. My favorite album so far is Return Of Saturn, but I have high hopes for the stuff that's in the writing as we speak/I type. I mean, I would consider myself a pretty hardcore fan, except for the fact that I haven't seen them live yet, but I really haven't had the opportunity. One of many travesties I can blame on my year of birth (just missing the eighties, never seeing Queen live, never seeing Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl on broadway, missing the Mac's "glory days", as t'were, being a little too young to marry Stevie Nicks...)

Another like: "when telegraph poles (/other objects) pass the window in time with the music I'm listening to".

Ok, I was just semi in a daze and moved my head to look away from the window, and because the glass is warped it makes it look like your view's gone like wavy...and for a split second I swear to god I thought I was going into a flashback or a dream sequence or something...hahah signs you're overtired?

Wow, phonecall frenzy. Ma and Shell :) all of which is good except that I can never tell how loudly I'm talking, so I always worry that I'm being really inconsiderately loud when I get a call on public transport. I'll just have to gauge it by how scornful my fellow travelers' glances are.

We are now stopped at Albany-Rensselaer for like a half hour 'cause we're ahead of schedule, and some oldish lady just walked past the window wearing what I can only describe as some kind of little white bonnet thing. Also I'm pretty sure I can hear Christmas music playing on the platform (Y).

Dislikes: "when arm or foot rests aren't at a comfortable height".

Wow, beard alert.

Ohh no I keep drifting asleep, no no no. If I fall asleep now I'll never wake up again.

Ok I'm managing to stay awake, and I'm gonna go get something from the cafe cart thing once we start moving again to keep me alive for the last leg. Due into Penn station in just under two and a half hours, then subway to the ferry dock, hopefully catch the nine o'clock ferry, then train from St. George back to Beth's. THEN tomorrow *morning* we are driving down to Grandma's in May's Landing. And all of this following the drive, ferry, subway into Manhattan and then two buses (13 hours & 3 hours) to get up to Kingston four or five days ago...a journey which I managed to drag myself through only five days after flying to New York from London. I should get some kind of medal or award or something for this. Oh no wait, I did. I'm living in New York, I got to spend four days with Shell, and I'm gonna get to see Grandma.

While I hope I remember to exclude this from whatever I actually post of this rambling stream of consciousness, it has just occurred to me that by the time we get into the city, I will have spent more time with the people in this carriage with me today than I have ever spent with the person that I may well be falling in love with. How crazy :)

It's now 7:03pm, and I'm going to let Clodia rest for the last little while. So, we shall end as we began:

"The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in."
-from "Snow In The Suburbs", Thomas Hardy.

It's been a joy :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It can be difficult to write in public. Especially when you're somewhere like on a plane, where you know people have nothing much to do or look at and so will be more likely than usual to look over your shoulder at your book or film or, in my case, impromptu blog post/general writing being typed in an unfamiliar and kind of cool-looking word processing application... oh, and once again iTunes shuffle manages to tap into the universe and give me a song of such relevance and humor that I can't help but wonder if perhaps its magical powers are increased by the altitude. Yes, altitude. This is almost definitely the highest post I have ever written, as I am currently... (excuse me while I attempt to navigate the oddly counter-intuitive functioning of the entertainment screen to find the in-flight info) ...ooh, we're almost over Newfoundland :), why would I want to look at the air map thing in this many different formats, tell me the altitude please... really? A whole planet view?...Planet view including weird blob of darkness thing indicating the geographical placement of nightfall? Really?... ah, here we go- 35777ft. This information no longer really feels all that worthwhile, having sat through two and a half rounds of the amusingly elaborate/useless informational graphic reel...ok, screen off. And down to business. Why am I currently over thirty-five thousand feet over that unimaginably vast, sometimes lethal, often beautiful body of water we like to call the Atlantic Ocean, Clodia cramped awkwardly between my seat-belt buckle and quaintly designed tray-top, falling into a writing style so convoluted and hyper-descriptive as to be painful to garner any meaning from? (d'ya like what I did there?...haha). Well, I'm here because I did it.

I have this memory that recently decided to show itself suddenly and for no apparent reason (as is consistent with how my memories often make their entrance) of a time when my mother, my sister and I were living in London in a little apartment above a Chinese take-away place on the Watford Way. Mom was studying sports therapy at Hendon College down the road, Jess was in maybe her first or second year of secondary school at Loreto College in St.Albans, and I must have been in year four or five of primary school at St.Joseph's, just around the corner. Despite the occasional rats and cockroaches, and the (not entirely unconnected, I'm sure) constant and eventually chronically nauseating smell from the restaurant downstairs, we were three girls, a family, just getting along, learning and living and laughing together, and it was a good time. And the particular memory that recently drifted back to me of this time was during what would've started out as one of the more difficult days; our nearest supermarket was a good twenty minute walk down the noise and dirt of the motorway, and, although this isn't really much of a journey alone or with only fully-grown companions, with two young daughters and (on the return trek) a week's groceries, I consider my mother (not uncharacteristically) brave to undertake such a task on a regular basis. Anyhow, so on some nights, when Jess & I were particularly cranky from the errand, or it was dark enough to worry about the dangers of London at night, we would be spared the daunting walk and treated to a cab ride home by our merciful mother. On this particular night, not only was it dark when we got outside, but it was one of the first really bitingly cold nights that are a sure-fire sign Winter has truly elbowed Fall out of its way (a night not unlike, incidentally, tonight), and it might've been raining, although I can't say for sure. The three of us were standing shivering outside the neon warmth of the supermarket waiting for the then smoky comfort of a cab's dustiness and new familiarity, when our mother decided to let us in on the surprise she'd been teasing us with for the past few weeks. We were going to New York for Christmas. Now, for most young girls, this surprise would perhaps have meant a big, famous, shiny new city in the fabled country of Hollywood and perpetually flattering lighting, but for us, this meant a trip of unequivocally insufficient length, this meant a Christmas that counted because it was white, this meant Grandma, and cousins, and Jolly Ranchers; this was the promised land. Home.

This is the first memory I have of crying from pure joy. These days it isn't all that rare an occasion, but at the time it was completely unexpected and, frankly, quite alarming. And that overwhelming joy that I, age seven or eight, felt at the prospect of the journey to a place where, for some as of yet unexplained reason, I felt so comfortable and content, as though the entire country were my own bed, that I pined for it like a relative, never faded, never waned. Every trip was as revitalizing as it was saddening, because, whether it was ten days, two weeks, or twenty-one whole, correct days later, I always had to leave. And so, when it came to my attention, as my last year of school came speeding towards and through me, that I couldn't go any longer studying when my mind pulled my focus so fiercely towards writing and playing music, there seemed little question as to the inherent interconnectivity of these two ideals; I wanted to go to America, and I wanted to play music. I wanted to play music, and America was the place to do it. But I had to get there myself. I was a grown up now, and if I was going to take the reigns of my life and build it how I'd always felt I could and would, I had to do this right. So I moved out of my Mom's home, and away from the small town we'd landed in for the past five years, and back to London to work my way to New York to sing. Six jobs, three changes of address, a drastic haircut, a new best friend, and hours of sleep deprivation later, and I was walking to the bank with enough wages saved to get me across that sky of water and give it a try. And so here I am. I have packed up as little as I could bear of my belongings (not very little, in fact, at all), I have kissed my mother and father and brother and sister goodbye, and I am breathing. I'm on this plane, for the first time in my many flights without family or Shell or school, and I'm sitting next to a woman with a kind soul and my Grandmother's eyes, and the the head-rush fumes of her nail-polish are assuaging my nerves, and I am alive. And I am tired from this past year, and I am anxious, and I am sad at the lack of my recently so warm and present family, and I am older, as always, than I should be, and I am on my way.

Friday, August 07, 2009

one of my favorite customers on tax:

"Tax is a way of taking honest money off honest people and giving it to jews."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

on music...

...and being an artist. But in the place of my own rant here, I'm gonna leave it to some of the people I admire most on Earth to put into words what I can't yet get past a deep emotional state.

I found this Melissa Etheridge quote a while back; I can't remember where, but it really spoke to me and to where I feel music or any art should be coming from:
And this sort of whole dream of success and this dream of “I’ve got to have a hit song”, “I’ve got to do this” – it wasn’t mine – I don’t wish to dream that anymore. I wish to create - I believe that there’s a world out there, who wants to hear music like this, who wants to put music on to be fed, to be nourished, to be held up and enlightened and excitened. And I believe that artists do that for people, and that I can do that for people."

A couple of years back,
KT Tunstall (an artist I have a great deal of respect and affection for) recorded a beautiful acoustic album over a few days around Christmas on the Isle Of Skye, and during a little clip from the adjacent DVD, she says something which I had to rewind and listen to twice or three times because of how much it was my exact way of thinking. It really stuck, to the extent that I paraphrased it as the title of my music blog, "Chasing Songs":
"My experience of writing music is that I don't really have a choice, it just..I kind of follow it. I'm sort of chasing songs, and I catch up with them."

Alanis Morissette is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the most talented and characteristically beautiful artists on the planet right now or for a long time. Her generosity of wisdom and of her gift, her peaceful spirituality, and her humble earthliness and warmth all make her, for me, a truly phenomenal artist. These words speak so directly to me, I can't imagine explaining the basis on which my mind, ambition, & heart work better than she has:
"I live to heal ruptures and bridge the human and the divine aspects of life, and I hope that by sharing my own experiences through speaking, writing and art, I can support people in their personal journeys, wherever they may be at," she explains. "The initial writing is for me, and the sharing of it is my offering to others to make these songs and writings their own. For people to derive comfort, inspiration, validation or self-definition in accordance to what I write or how I live...this is my service."