the sun shining down over me and you

Wednesday, May 30

Something I've noticed the past two weeks has been..... the sun! (Cue the music!) When you live in a country renouned for its rain, sun is something that is worth noting. Especially when it allows you to leave the house without a coat: a treat indeed.

(This is a picture from a picnic last week with two nice friends in the Botanic Gardens: playing 'Pooh sticks' over a bridge, eating strawberries, being pestered by hungry dogs, playing UNO, wearing a dress, looking at old postcards, witnessing fellow picnic-ers create a daisy chain of many metres, not needing to worry about exams, catching the sun on our faces, eating ice-cream to cool down. A jolly lovely day.)

(While writing this post, I've been listening to Andrew Bird's new album ...and I've now bought it because I like it that much. Just to let you know!)

from my window

Wednesday, May 30

As I sit here typing, the sky is tinged with pink. The lighthouse across the water flashes a tiny spot of white light every ten seconds. I can remember standing by this window in my pyjamas when we first moved in, counting, waiting for the flash (‘One elephant. Two elephants. Three elephants...’). Having a lighthouse across the water was one of my favourite things about this house. That... and the fact the house had stairs in it. (We used to live in a bungalow so stairs were a novelty ...I’ve always been easily pleased.)

There are birds whistling outside. Only... is whistling the right word? It’s difficult to write about birds singing without it sounding a bit clich├ęd...

‘Chirping’, ‘chattering’, 'twittering', ‘tweeting’ (ha!)

... no word seems to describe everything that is caught inside the sound (peacefulness, solemnity, innocence...)

This is something I’d like to work on over the summer... learning how to put words to life in a way that captures the essence of things. The kind of writing I’m interested in is found somewhere in-between the kind of writing which is bleak and unemotional and the writing which is unrealistic and saccharine. It's easy to fall into either extreme, but I want to try and be more balanced. I want to write words which ring true, words which celebrate the extraordinariness of 'ordinary' life without being sentimental... (this is kind of what my dissertation is going to be about next year).

Along that subject... here is something interesting that I read recently about sentimentality and women’s poetry:
‘Cutting across time and culture, women’s literature has always emphasised feeling. In the nineteenth century in [America] – with the notable exception of the poetic genius of Emily Dickenson – feeling in women’s poetry fell into a sticky goo of sentimentality. Sentimentality comes from an inability, for whatever reason, to look reality in the face. For its power, it depends on the stock response. The feelings expressed are derived ones, feelings not authentically based within the writer ...’
~ From Marilyn Sewell’s introduction to the poetry anthology Cries of the Spirit.
Definitely something to be avoided! She writes later on about the importance of writing with and about feeling:

‘To honour feeling is in itself prophetic, in a cultural system that glorifies the “rational” and the scientific as the sole authors of our salvation while we plunge headlong toward hell. Women’s poetry most often exists to move us, not to entertain us with clever use of language, nor to explore abstract philosophical positions. It is a way to the heart. It opens the door to the spirit.’
Anyway... after this somewhat all-over-the-place post, I’m going to go to my bed. (It is now completely black outside and the only thing I can see through the window is my own reflection!)

(Pictures from: Becca Stadtlander.)

good news! good news!

Monday, May 21

I remember having a conversation with my friend at the start of third year. We were on the way to a lecture, waiting outside the library to cross the road. I think it was raining because I seem to remember looking out at the traffic* from under an umbrella. We were wondering who would take over the editor positions for the university newspaper next year and I can remember saying something like:

‘I don’t think I’d be able to do it. It would be good, but it seems like so much work on top of everything else.’**

[Flash-forward to a few months later (the 11th of May to be exact) where I’m at an AGM meeting, standing in front of a group of students giving a speech about why I should be Features Editor]

So, this is a post just to say that... I’ve been elected 'Features Editor' of the Strathclyde Telegraph for the next academic year!! I’m very excited (and a little nervous... there’s a lot to learn)! It's a fantastic opportunity! I’ll keep you all posted on how that goes!

*Speaking of traffic... my mum was showing me these roadsafety videos from when she was a wee girl. Hilarious, and slightly disturbing.
 **It’s funny the things you think you’ll never be able to do! One thing I’ve recognised about myself is that my instant reaction to most things is:
No! Absolutely not. (But thanks all the same.)'
(Not quite sure why that is... possibly a symptom of being an introvert, or a born-worrier.) I’ve been trying to hold off saying these words out loud as much as possible and give myself time to properly mull things over. Once I’ve thought about them I often come round to liking whatever idea it was I was so determined agaisnt earlier. O! to be one of those fearless, instinctively brave sort of people. (I guess, though, those sort of people, if they exist, are a rare breed...)

(Pictures from: Oh My Cavalier)


Wednesday, May 9

Watch this one first:

And then watch this one to see the actual music video:

(So beautiful, and such a good concept. This - the capturing of moments - is kind of what I've been trying to do in my short stories this year.)

love set you going like a fat gold watch

Tuesday, May 8

Hello! I hope this (somewhat cloudy Tuesday) finds you well. Here are a few recent noticings:

[One.] I was walking to the library last week. It is in the middle of Glasgow – a place of exhaust fumes, grey buildings, people gliding past each other like shadows – and I was thinking about nothing in particular when a bus drove past. The wind it stirred up caught in my hair, and hundreds of cherry blossom petals were swept up from the side of the road and started to dance along beside me. I don’t even know where the tree was... but the petals were beautiful. Cherry blossoms are one of my favourite things about the spring. 

[Two.] We were eating dinner last night (griddled chicken with salad and poppy seed bread) and I looked out the window. There, meandering past our house, was a tiny girl in pink welly boots and her Gran. The Gran was trying to hold an umbrella over the girl’s head to keep her dry, but the wee girl kept stopping every few minutes to jump in puddles. It's funny (in a not-meant-to-be-corny way) how things that we think of as a bit of a nuisance when we’re older – like puddles and snow – are the source of great excitement to small children.

[Three.] I was studying the other day in the ‘school room’, stumbling my way through T.S. Eliot’s confusing/nonsensical poem ‘The Waste Land’, when my ears heard a lovely sound: the running of water, the click of the kettle being turned on, the scraping of the teapot lid being removed, the cupboard doors banging open and the clinking of mugs being taken out. The sounds of tea being made, especially when you aren't expecting it (but are desperately needing a cup), are musical.

[Four.] Another kind of music (as in actual music): my brother and I were listening to this song recently. Haunting. Best listened to with the sound turned up, on a really good sound system (i.e. not the computer. We listened to it in the car, and could literally feel the music).

(The title of this post is the first line of Sylvia Plath's poem 'Morning Song'. A rare poem of Plath's that isn't full of disturbing imagery.
The pictures are from: Susannah Conway's website. Her pictures are simple in a lovely way.)

this made me smile.

Thursday, May 3

Studying has taken over. At the moment I am surrouned by mindmaps, modernist poems, post-modern novels, absurd and post-colonial plays, and post-it notes (which, by the way, are actually a bit rubbish at sticking to things. They've been around the block a few times. You think someone would have done something about that by now.) Two weeks to go!

In the meantime, here is a picture I like.

(I found it: here. Not sure where the original came from.)
by mlekoshi