Believe In Better

For as defeated and melancholy I was feeling yesterday, I just wanted to be kind to myself and allow myself to “ride it out.” Let the storm pass. Hope for a better tomorrow. Because it does happen!

It did happen. Today is better. Still not 100% and it would take the slightest thing of something to topple me over again. There are things that if I dwell on them will bring me down. Jim. The Minds fandom. The state and future of my blog (the Priptona one). How mentally prepared (or otherwise) I am for the recommencement of uni next month. My partner’s mental health (always a VERY big cloud hanging over things, if I am being incredibly open and frank). Finances (or lack thereof). 

But…I’ve had a shower today and I’ve washed my hair. I know there are many people that won’t get that. People that don’t understand the kind of effort that can take sometimes. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I get very angry with myself. A lot of the time, in fact. I was angry with myself yesterday. I wasn’t comfortable with posting what I posted on my blog yesterday. I sounded like I was just wallowing in self-pity. At the same time and as much as I tried to push myself, I tried being kind. Allow myself the time to hope that the bad would pass. 

Some of the feeling also is dictated by having someone else living in my home. A person that makes me feel like a tenant in my own home. I am very mindful of accommodating them and working my day around theirs. They are moving out in a couple of weeks and I am looking forward to being “liberated” and being able to return to doing things in my house when I want to. From when I begin my study day to when I go to the toilet in the middle of the night. All of that! All of that has weighed on my mind for 21 months. Silly little accommodations, you know? 

For instance…I’ll settle into bed around 11pm. I’ll listen to The Arches and a couple of podcasts, then be ready to settle to sleep around midnight. My brain and body are ALWAYS insistent that I need one last trip to the loo. But I’ll try not to go. I’ll ignore it. But that invariably means I’ll awake again a couple of hours later with a more urgent need to go, which I’ll also try and ignore. I feel like I am having the most interrupted sleep. These days, once I do get up and go to the loo in the wee hours I find it very hard to get back to sleep. 

I’m just looking forward to getting up and going as and when I need to without having to consider someone else. I’m looking forward to a better sleep pattern once again. Maybe it won’t happen? Maybe I’m in a menopausal phase and that’s what’s disrupting my sleep pattern? I feel as though I will be less stressed anyway and that will help me. 

My study days will begin earlier too. I will most likely begin my days between 9-9.30am, whereas currently I feel compelled to wait until after 10am (when my lodger’s work day begins). I know that doesn’t sound like much – but when you’re a morning thinker and you have ideas and things pop into your head and you want to get going with your day – thoughts pinging in left, right and centre but you feel like it would be rude to just get up and go and start your day, then yes – it makes a BIG difference. 

I tried again with the Too Good To Go app and have a couple of new surprise bags to collect today. My Other Half will collect one (taking advantage of the free “old gits” travel she gets on the bus network) this afternoon and I’ll get the other one early this evening. I was able to secure a collection with the George Street Oaka, which is much more handy and easier to get to. A train to Queen Street, a quarter mile walk up George Street and I’m right there. I can collect and get the next train home. It can all be done within the space of an hour. Hurray! And this time I am prepared. Showered and ready to go in later today.

Finally, I realise that I haven’t even shared much from the time away in Blackpool last week. Although elements of it were stressful, in particular the journey back home to Glasgow, we did have some fun while we were away and really enjoyed aspects of the trip. I’d like to share select photos of the time away. 

Thanks for listening. I know it’s not easy to read bad stuff and I am guilty as anyone else in trying to give off this air that I am fine and dandy all the time and life’s a peach every single day but the cold, hard truth is…it isn’t. It gets the better of me. I can get very low and dark and I have spent a long time trying to shield people from that. 

I have a love/hate relationship with that “it’s okay not to be okay” phraseology, because although it is inherently true…I myself do NOT feel ‘okay’ with not feeling okay – if you get me? 

Having said that – today is better.

A Day Exploring Newcastle

Myself and my Other Half were in Newcastle over the weekend. The primary purpose for me was to see my second favourite band in the whole world – Warm Digits – play the Old Coal Yard near the Byker and Ouseburn areas of the city. You can read more about that on my review on the Priptona Weird blog.

To try and save on funds and to make the logistics of getting to and from the venue easier, I decided to book a room for us at a hotel called the Dorset Arms at Wallsend. It seemed like it was a short-ish walk from the Metro station to get to the hotel but actually it was longer than I had anticipated and interpreted on the map. Straightforward though. Just taking a straight walk down to the hotel for around 1 mile. 

The hotelier, Stan, was a really friendly and helpful guy and offered me a lift to Wallsend metro station closer to the time of the gig. In the end he dropped me off right near the venue which I was very thankful for as the heavens were open by that time and it would have been a bit of a walk from Byker metro to the venue.

The gig was great and I had quite a late night, but we needed to be out of the hotel by 10am the next day. I was out of bed and in the shower by 7.45am having had around 4 hours sleep by the time I eventually drifted off.

The weather was much better on Sunday and the air was already warm early in the morning. A change from our last visit to Newcastle which although sunny was VERY windy and still quite cold. This time it was ‘taps aff’ by comparison. 

After a fantastic buffet and cooked breakfast at the hotel (we just had scrambled eggs on toast for the ‘cooked’ side of our breakfast), Stan was kind enough to give us a lift to Wallsend metro. We got to Monument station at around 10.30am and decided to head to the Quayside with a view of checking out the Baltic art gallery. There’s a street market down along the Quayside Road running along the banks of the Tyne between the Tyne and Millennium Bridges with all kinds of wonderful foodstuffs and crafts on offer. It was absolutely hoachin’ down at the Quayside.

The view from the Baltic ‘viewing box’ on level five

After a slow wander through the market stalls we crossed the Millennium Bridge to get to the Baltic. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Baltic – whether there would be a fee to pay to get in as most galleries in England these days charge an admission fee, if not for the main gallery space itself, then definitely for access to exhibitions that are on. To my joy and wonderment, the Baltic was free. We went up to the fifth floor which has a ‘viewing box’ – an area to stand and take in the views of the city overlooking the Tyne. From there we made our way back downwards, exploring what each level of the gallery had to offer. On levels 3 and 2 was an exhibition by artist Larry Achiampong. The exhibition is called Wayfinder and comprises several different visual displays and art installations. Flag designs, traveller-explorer-cum-spacesuit outfits that are worn and featured in his video documentary pieces called Relic. There were also chalk boards with repetitive words to be read out as instructions or slogans.

We sat and watched several of his video docs. All three of the Relic pieces, as well as Wayfinder itself. All the information on the layout of the whole exhibition can be viewed on the Baltic website HERE

I found the whole exhibition really moving, especially the video pieces. They were beautifully filmed, evocative, wonderfully scripted and very poignant. Larry gives a very powerful voice to British African people through his art. I don’t say this with any measure of flippancy or glibness at all when I say it is one of the most moving and beautiful exhibitions of contemporary art that I have ever encountered. So much so, I had to let Larry know how much his exhibition spoke to me and contacted him via Instagram to let him know how profound I found his work. He replied with a voice message to me on Instagram thanking me for my words and was pleased to hear that his work had moved me so much. 

The exhibition runs until 29 October. If you are in Newcastle at any point up til this date (or you are a local Geordie), I implore you to check out Larry Achiampong’s exhibition. It is stunning.

On level 1 was an exhibition by the photographer Chris Killip. Absolutely stunning photos, particularly the portraiture. Most of the photos were depicting life in the North-East in the mid 1970s until the early 1980s. All the photos are black and white. Most were quite large images too – A3 and A2 sized prints. Again, visually evocative and poignant. I’d also highly recommend seeing Chris Killip’s exhibition as well. The exhibition is on until 3 September.

With just a couple of hours left until the coach back to Glasgow was due to depart, we made our way back to the city centre. The plan was to get something to eat to see us through the rest of the day as we weren’t due to get back to Glasgow until just after 8pm. On our way up Pilgrim Street we stumbled across the Town Fry. It doesn’t get the best rating via Google Maps but to be honest, I hadn’t looked at the ratings until after we’d eaten there. It was there, it was handy and the cod bites and chips were affordable at £7 each. It was quiet and there were seats for us to sit and eat inside. It was cooked fresh while we waited. The chips were delicious! As was the generous sized piece of cod. It filled our bellies more than amply for the journey back home.

We popped into Greggs as well for a hot beverage and a yum yum. I gotta say, Greggs are bloody good value compared to the likes of Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero. A tea is £1.15, a latte is £1.95 and a box of two yum yums was £1.35. If you were to get something similar in one of the coffee chains it would set you back at least DOUBLE that price, if not more.

We got to the coach station a little early – around 3.45pm for the coach at 4.10pm. Well, that’s when it was due but a driver that had come in on a coach from Manchester had informed one of the other passengers waiting for the Glasgow coach that it was running an hour late – caught up in floodwater back in London when it started out its journey north. So, 4.10pm actually did become 5.10pm.

I don’t know what it is about the coach to Newcastle but it feels like it takes so much longer than the four hours it only does take. I think it must be down to the stops it makes along the way. I don’t know. But the four hours seem to pass sssooo slowly on the coach.

We eventually arrived at Buchanan Bus Station at 9.20pm. It being a Sunday night there are no trains to Ashfield after 6.30pm on Sundays so it was taxi or the 75 to Milton. A 75 was due at 9.35pm so we legged it out of the bus station to get ourselves to Hope Street in time for the 75 – only for the bugger to be 10 minutes late! Although after a few minutes it was indicating on the electronic board that the due bus wasn’t even running late, it was just not going to arrive at all! Thankfully, it did arrive, albeit 10 mins late. 

Arrived home exhausted but happy from a lovely little whirlwind trip away to Geordieland. Newcastle is starting to become the new ‘home away from home’, and the great news is that the OH likes the place just as much as I do – so I think we may just get to have a couple of trips a year away down there in future. She won’t need too much persuading, which is grand!

Now, back to getting some creative writing done! (P.S. Less than a week to go until I find out my uni results.)

The Creative Spark

Well, what can I say? 

I am really enjoying learning about the Creative Writing process. I came to it quite apprehensive that I would just be in a constant state of writer’s block as I never felt able to express myself very well as a child when in school and we were given storytelling exercises to do. I was just utterly crap! No imagination whatsoever – or that’s how it felt to me. Other pupils could seemingly write fantastical stories that were exciting and vivid and mine just sounded flat and boring and really uninspired. 

I don’t know what has drawn me to want to do this in all honesty. Well, I do, actually. It stems from wanting to be able to write better. To express myself in a really thoughtful and compelling way. And as much as I can try and continue to be self-taught with that kind of stuff, I felt that Creative Writing may just induce new ways, better ways for my creativity to come out. And it already has started to do that so much!

We started with freewriting – which is basically what we were asked to do at school and I was utterly hopeless at it and so I have never really employed that in my writing – at least, I didn;t think I was. Freewriting is basically a stream of consciousness writing that you do for a set period of time. A short block of time, say 15 minutes to half an hour, and you just let the words flow from you. Whatever comes to mind, whether it makes any sense or not. You just write it all out, chuck it all in. All of it! No editing. No strict sentence structures or anything like that. Just write whatever. 

At this point in time I have found that very liberating and incredibly helpful in sparking my creativity. I have written out so much over the week, it’s been crazy. I’ve probably written out something like 6000 words in little scenes, sensory observations, place setting images, story arcs, deciphering story arcs from novels and short story beginnings and endings that we’ve been given to read…all kinds of things.

The other main element of the study so far that I have found incredibly helpful has been the five-act structure. Setting out a story in five acts, setting out your beginning, middle and end, using various plot prompts to build the process of the story and to flesh it out. I have had sssooooo many ideas for novels that have come to me over the years and have not had any real idea on how to go about doing anything with these ideas and how to build up a story from the little snippets of ideas that I have had swirling around in my brain, but now I am learning how I can implement these little snippets into things. They might not become a whole novel within themselves. They could just end up being a scene but at least I am starting to learn what I can do.

I have true epiphanies taking place with my writing creativity over the past week and I feel incredibly enthused by the whole learning process that Creative Writing is offering me.

A page from my writer’s journal.

And, of course, at the back of my mind is always Jim. I know! But, I can’t disguise the fact of how much he has been a spark in my creativity. For want of better terminology, he has been a muse to me. The art that came from me visually, and what comes through in my writing and how I want to express myself – so much of that has really come out and flowed over the past eight years and there’s no escaping the fact that a lot of that has been down to my being a Simple Minds fan and being influenced by Jim’s songwriting and (as of then) daily musings on Facebook. 

I’d love to ask him questions about his songwriting. I’d love to ask him how he handled letting his words be seen. We are encouraged to share our writing from the very early stages. We’re encouraged to get feedback from fellow students and other tutors beyond our own. We’ve been hearing from writer’s during this block of study and most of them admit to initially taking feedback really badly. Now, you guys (those of you who know me well) know how BADLY I take criticism – it can have a very negative effect on me. I am worried that it could have so much of a negative effect on me that I could end up withdrawing from the course or changing my direction of study. I have to keep telling myself that this criticism will be constructive and WILL help me to improve. I have to grow that thicker skin! I’m gonna need it to get better. 

Songwriting seems like such a different beast. It was for Jim. He seemed to tackle the writing process in a similar way to how every other writer starts – just taking down and keeping notes – freewriting – writing down whatever comes to mind, or interesting things heard or seen, language – curious syntax, things like that – but he kept it all very private. So…how did he know any of it was any good? How did he know when the words to the song were right and at what point did he actually feel comfortable in sharing his words? Did he ever TRULY feel comfortable? I’d love to ask him those kind of things. But…I accept that I am pissing in the wind and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. I will come across many other writers that will impart their wisdom on me and Jim can continue to be Jim.

The thing that has excited me most is that I feel that I maybe could be good at this fictional writing lark after all these years of convincing myself that I’m pants at it and everyone has written every story there is and there is nothing new to be said. In some ways that may be so (ie: every story has already been told), but there are your own unique experiences and impressions and expressions that would make it YOUR version of it, and that in itself would make it unique. 

I actually have the framework for a novel that I would really, really love to try and work on. I can’t actually believe I am saying that! After all these years of beginnings flowing through my mind and me not having any tangible way to grasp on them and trying to do something with them. Not knowing what to do with them so just letting them float on by – I have my beginning, middle and end! Loosely speaking. It would take a lot of building. I literally have just a pile of bricks in front of me. Enough to make a house – but I have to build the house now. It could be a long build! I have to keep studying construction whilst I start trying to build my house. I may have to knock it down midway through. I may have to knock it down and start rebuilding several times over. In fact, I know I WILL have to do that. But instead of being disheartened by that thought – I am excited and inspired by it!

Merry Kerr-istmas!

No dreams of Jim this year. Then that has been the case for a few years now. I used to look forward to those beautiful Christmas dreams – like I’d get my very own Solstice Kiss. About the only chance I’d get for one, that’s for sure! Lol.

Anyhooooo – had I been able to dream about him, a scenario not dissimilar to this one would have been welcome. Lol.

Whatever the season brings to you, I hope it’s kind and joyful and if things aren’t going well for you and the spirit is not within you, I hope you’re able to get through it quickly and safely. 

Be kind to yourself and do whatever you need to do to get through it. Try to obtain some joy and comfort from it. There is ssoooo much pressure to enjoy this time of year that…if for you it means retreating and staying in bed until it’s over – do that. Forget the judgements. Those who judge don’t suffer any mental illness or have never experienced the way you might be. We’re all different and we all have different coping mechanisms. 

All the best for the season and I hope 2023 brings all of you good times and happiness. 

Feliz Navidad!

Necklace Gold Dream

I went out for a Christmas meal last night at the stellar Non Viet Vietnamese restaurant located at the section of Sauchiehall Street near the M8. Great food was had with Birdy and Michelle as fellow dinner guests.

Michelle gave me the most wonderful gift – pictured below. I was knocked for six by it. Such a lovely thought out present.

The Relief Of Making It Over The Finishing Line In Time

That’s another assignment completed! Two assignments completed by Christmas! That’s pretty good going. I’m not sure when we’ll get our marks back, but I guess it won’t be until the New Year – probably the middle of January. Maybe at the end of the first week of Jan if we’re lucky. Either way, I won’t be stressing about how well I did. I’ll just relax and enjoy Christmas and think about the next phase of the module to come. It’s all down to the nitty gritty next because we’ll be tackling the English Literature and Creative Writing topics in the New Year and into the spring. I’m feeling quite a bit nervous about it. Will I really be any good at this? Who knows. In the meantime – IT’S CHRISTMAS!!!!

Yes, one fell off the wall and I’ve yet to get the frame sorted out and replaced. And the is paint peeling off the wall. Such a great look! Lol

One thing I will say is that for one part of my assignment we were asked to write a short piece about a portrait that we’d recently come across. With the image above in mind – just one of my bedroom walls adorned with an endless array of Kerr portrait photographs, I seriously contemplated doing this short piece about one of my photos of Jim but I became waaaaay too worried about how that might reflect on me to the other students and decided to make a different choice. All for the better, I think! Which one of the Jims would I have chosen? Well, to have made myself a little less like a woman of 52 acting like a girl of 12, I probably would have gone for one of the photos of him on the stage performing. Our task for this part of the assignment was to write about what we thought the portrait’s purpose was. I’d have had a better justification of explaining the purpose of a photo of Jim on a stage than I would have of one of the promo photos of him.

It’s all irrelevant now anyway but, yeah…talk about spoiled for choice had I gone with my initial idea of choosing a photo of His Kerrness to go on about. Lol

I’ll take a final look over the assignment tomorrow, make sure it’s all reading right, the word count is correct, references are correct and…in she goes! And then the next assignment is just under a whole two months away. Phew!

And When I’m Not Studying….

For uni. I’m studying this fine creature…

Sigh. (This one fell under the “where do I stick it?” dilemma. It was too much fun to just keep it on the SM blog, hence it ended up here as well. Jim Kerr under my tree? Yes, please! And thank you very much!*)

*not gonna happen in a month of Sundays… or Kerrsdays.