Short Story: An Angel Passes By



As I am (slowly) putting my website together and applying for freelance writing jobs I have been going through a lot of my writing and trying to group everything together. I noticed that I hadn't posted this story, which is strange as it quite naturally goes with Autumn's Place and Of Instability and Growing Roots. I wrote them all about the same time and with the same frame of mind.
In any case, everyone needs a Marlena in their lives, just to make everything a little brighter and happier. Not long after I write this one Bat For Lashes released her last album, with the song Laura on it, and it really made me think of my own Marlenas. Cherish those friends forever.

An angel passes by ("un ange passe") is a French expression that always takes me back to moments in the dead of the night during my late teens with the friends I grew up with, that moment when everyone goes quiet, contemplating their own thoughts, and then all go back to their conversations at the same time. That silence that doesn't feel uncomfortable, but warm and fuzzy. These are the people that will always be with you, your own personal angels in your lives. I dedicate this one to those who aren't here anymore.



An Angel Passes By

She stood there in her little babydoll dress, her long, skinny arms wrapped tight around her body, as if she were protecting herself from an invisible force that was about to hit at any moment. Her eyes stared wide into the distance, somewhere away from what we could all see around us and her forehead was creased into a frown of concentration. This is always the image I will have of her in my mind, touchable but unapproachable. Surrounded by a ring of fire keeping her away from the rest of us.

She stood there in her skinny black jeans and black velvet jacket, cigarette smoke encasing her body and a bright smile on her face when she recognized a friendly face approaching her. Nothing fake about her smile – once bestowed upon you, you felt like you were the center of attention for a minute; that no one else existed but you in the world. There are so few people on this earth who have the ability to make you feel this way, that when you meet them you cherish their love for life, long after they have moved on to other places and other people. This is the other image I have of her, happiness and sadness, encased in that body with the beautiful face.

Some people leave and their memories fade over time, until they are remembered only when a photo is found, or a random memory pops into your mind. Other people leave a special legacy behind, one that cannot be erased by time, or alcohol, or drugs or age. All I need to do is close my eyes and conjure up her face and all the emotions I felt every time I was in her presence, even after all these years. Her foot prints can be found all over the world, in the many countries that she traveled to and the many people she met and loved along the way. She was never famous, she never felt exceptional in any way, but she simply made everyone she came into contact feel special for a few moments, and those few moments always lasted forever. Some days I walk through the streets of Manhattan and see a swish of long, blonde hair and a cigarette in a hand and my heart stops for a second. Maybe it is her? Maybe she is still here, walking and talking and dreaming and crying and smiling and just simply present. Maybe I can have one last hug, and this time I will know it will be the last and I will remember it forever. I never knew the last time she hugged me would be the last time I felt her touch and smelt her shampoo and perfume floating around me. If I had known, the last time I told her I loved her I would have looked her in the eyes for more than two seconds and would have made sure she knew that I meant it with all my heart. I hope she knew that before she left.

Marlena was one of those people that you felt had always been in your life, however long you may have known them. She arrived in my life randomly one night, a friend of a friend drinking in a bar that we didn’t often frequent. I didn’t really talk to her that night, she was wrapped up in a conversation with another person who didn’t want to surrender her attention, and then she left abruptly, hugging everyone as she made her way to the exit. A few days later I bumped into her on the street, and she smiled at me and invited me to grab a late lunch with her at her favourite restaurant. She gradually introduced me to all of the people she knew in the neighbourhood and I became part of the family of people working and living there. Marlena always had time for a chat, however tired or overworked she was. She had the ability to make me laugh and smile, even when I knew she was having a rough day. And when she was tired or unhappy, all I wanted to do was make her feel better, a small gesture, a hug, a cup of tea at 3am. Anything to get that look of pure gratitude she would give you on those days. 

There are no perfect human beings. If perfection really existed it would be a flat, boring piece of blank wood. Imperfections create the depth that makes someone human. As much as Marlena was an amazing person, she was definitely not perfect. She kept herself distant from certain things, and locked away parts of herself deep inside so that you could not even see a glimpse of them in her eyes. She would turn away when someone tried to get too close and shut down, wary of giving herself fully to another, wary of being hurt again, and having to deal with pain, again. But she would cry openly and sometimes let you into what her life had been and what she wanted to hide from. What she had finally got over and what she was still going through. She could be as stubborn as a bull and would butt heads with people with her strong opinions. I could not even count the amount of times I had seen her jump up and smash her fist on the bar shouting “but you aren’t listening to me!!!” and stomp off outside for another cigarette, ranting under her breath about idiocy and hypocrisy. But two minutes later she would be back, buying rounds of shots for everyone and laughing at the argument that had taken place moments before. There was never a boring moment in her presence.

Marlena taught me how to find the perfect beaches near the city, wild places where the waves would drag in shells and crabs and city trash, where you could sleep at night if you felt like it and you knew you were safe. She showed me special places in the city where the walls were painted with so much art you could spend hours just looking at them. I taught her where to find the best bagels and where to go to feel like you were in the middle of the countryside right in the city. She would sometimes disappear for a few days and apologise when she reappeared, always saying she needed time away, time to herself, time to finish a song, time to listen to her own voice in her head, away from others that were always crowding it. She would wrap her arms around herself and frown worries away until she could smile lightly again. Some days I would walk into her work and see how tired she was despite her smile and other days she would jump up in happiness and throw herself into my arms, a little ball of energy that couldn’t stop itself from showing all her emotions. She was just a normal girl, but one who created a special place in her heart for everyone.

“I think it’s time for a pint – who’s in?”

“Marlena – it’s only Noon! We have stuff to do today!”

“I said a pint, not 20, and I could really murder a Guinness right now. We can have it with lunch, that way we won’t feel like we are just drinking. And let’s call Robert and Liza and Sandy and the rest so they can join us!”

“OK – and here goes our productive Monday. Let the fun and games begin!”

Never a boring moment. Being friends with Marlena meant being friends with everyone she knew. And being friends with everyone she knew meant that you never really felt alone anymore. Some people you liked less than others, some you felt great connections with while others remained acquaintances, but everyone had something in common: Marlena. She loved to be surrounded by friends and watch them interact and be around each other. She loved to try and match make but hated it when people tried to do it to her. She didn’t get angry often, but when she did you could never see it coming until her rage had broken free. After you saw that you tried hard not to cross her or upset her. No one wanted to be on the other side of that!

When I put her in a cab that night and hugged her, telling her I loved her, she asked me to text her when I got home, which was always the last question she asked all her friends when they left the bar. Twenty minutes later I got her text saying she was home safe and getting into bed. She never made it out of bed alive. Her heart just stopped beating, gave up and sent her off to another place. There was no real medical explanation for this happening at such a young age, so we all ended up deciding that she was needed more somewhere else, and that she had given us everything we needed and everything she had to give. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t devastated… It took me months and months to stop waking up crying and looking at pictures of her. I found it hard to walk down the streets where she used to always be, hard to be in places where I always wondered if she would miraculously walk through the front door. All of her friends banded together and talked about her and stayed friends, but it was always surrounded by sadness. Her presence was always around, but her voice could not be heard anymore.

Even now, years later, we always hold a Marlena party, a night out together where we drink pints, do shots in her honour and get completely drunk and silly. There are people who just won’t go away, even if they are dead and long gone. Marlena is one of those, an angel passing through lives, making them just that little bit better than they were before she arrived. Cherish those Marlenas as they are special people that may not be able to stay long. 

Catch some of their essence before it drifts away elsewhere – it will stay with you for life.

Ramblings: There is no I in Me anymore...

By the time you are reading this you probably already know (if you are very, very close to me), have an inkling something has changed, or really just don’t know and are going to be super surprised. In any case, it’s all been a little surreal for myself over the past nine weeks… Yup. There is no I in Me anymore, there is an Us. Me and It, It being a little munchkin that is eventually going to grow into a He or a She and eventually be born in late March/early April of next year.

Everything seems surreal and exciting and scary at the same time. There was that moment I had that dream where I took a home pregnancy test and the test appeared to be positive with a due date marked in the screen… Which lead me to run out to Walgreens as soon as I woke up in the morning to buy a real one, and then sat around staring at the packet for hours until I finally dared to do it. The two lines appeared almost automatically, and at that moment I decided there was no way I was going to be able to keep a child and I needed whatever it was inside of me removed as soon as possible. Needless to say, by the next morning , on my way to Planned Parenthood for a “proper” test, I had already changed my mind dramatically and was hoping that the home test wasn’t a fake positive… I mean I knew it wasn’t. I already knew I was pregnant, there are certain signs that you can’t ignore. And yes, it was positive.

That Friday I went around in a haze, lying on the grass in the middle of Washington Square Park, trying to fathom the idea of having a child, and then raising said child. I stopped smoking and drinking that very day, and surprisingly enough it was easy. I mean REALLY easy. No nicotine withdrawal, no crankiness, no nothing. Just the knowledge that there was a little me growing right inside of me. For the next 10 days it still didn’t feel real. I told a few people close to me, but that was it, my little munchkin was going to remain a secret until I was ready for the world to know about it. 

I don’t have health insurance. That was my main concern about actually having a child. Planned Parenthood lost all funding to provide prenatal care, so they just gave me a number for a low-cost women’s health clinic in Brooklyn, and I was able to get an appointment for 10 days after I found out I was pregnant. In the meantime I found out I was eligible for Medicaid, so I started working on all the paperwork I needed for that. In the end, the clinic filed for me (they are amazing – and there I was worried that I would have to pay for everything by myself!). I had blood work done, and exams, and went over all different kinds of things with the technician and the nurse and the midwife, and then finally got a referral appointment for an ultrasound at the Brooklyn Hospital for the following week. I am really happy with the people who are following my pregnancy – they made me feel comfortable and a lot less nervous than I was before I got there. 

Unless you have already been through this yourself, you can only imagine what it feels like to see your baby inside of you and then to hear the heartbeat… It’s mind-blowing. That little blob on the screen, the actual size of a bean which is beginning to form into a person is actually part of you and created by you. And that heart beating… Honestly it was only then that it fully became real to me – I now have two hearts beating in my body, and one of them needs to be protected and nurtured and loved at all costs. Every day I wake up and (after the immediate feelings of absolute hunger and thirst, followed by a wave of nausea) I feel blessed that this is happening to me. I remember my 17 year old self writing in my diary and telling my best friends that I wanted a child by the age of 19, and that I would call her Luna. Instead I got a cat and called her Luna, and as the years went by started to wonder if I would ever have a child. Growing up with an amazing mother but with a father figure who disappeared too early and another who wasn’t around for too much longer I always promised myself I wouldn’t have a child unless I was completely sure the child would have parents who would stay together forever. Well, unless you remain a complete and hopeless romantic with no shred of cynicism in your bones all of your adult life you will certainly realize that this was quite a tall order. And a straight shot to never having children. And I have to say that at the beginning of this year I was really starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t have kids, and that, in a way, that was allright (as long as my siblings were going to have them). I could just live in New York City for the rest of my life and live like I have enjoyed living for the past 8 years…

And when have I ever done anything conventionally anyway?! Every time I try to I fail, so I gave up on trying a few years ago and started living life in the way I wanted to. I have never been happier, or more comfortable in my own skin, and everything is just another adventure to embark on… This one probably being the most amazing adventure I will ever jump into head first. And don’t get me wrong, little munchkin’s father is more than present, and won’t be going anywhere (unless I decide to move, because then he will be moving with me, and munchkin). Which brings up the idea of moving… For some silly reason being pregnant kind of changes your perspective on everything. I mean everything. Obviously the idea of moving away from NYC has come to me over the past eight and a half years, but I’ve never actually really acted upon it. But now I just want to move to California, be nearer my family over there and actually be able to live in a house with a back yard where I can grow my own food, not feel like I am constantly hustling to make ends meet like I do here. I will always love New York, but I don’t know if I really want to bring up a child here. I’m most certainly going to have the baby here, but after that, who knows? Within the next 18 months I am pretty sure that I will be making a move over to California. It’s always been my dream to live in Santa Cruz, but I think I will probably have to start in Sacramento and then see where life leads me. 

But all of that is not for a while yet… In the meantime I am going to enjoy the amazingness that being pregnant is (especially now that the uncomfortable first trimester is over), and be happy.

The Adventures of Luna


I always thought that she would outlive us all. Stupidly maybe, seeing as she really was only a cat, and the average lifespan of a domestic indoor cat ranges from 12 to 15 years. But Luna was more than your average cat, and always seemed timeless, living through more than some human beings live through in their lives. She was born in some place that only she knew about, abandoned by her mother and left, obviously the runt of the litter, to die alone. She was found by a friend of mine’s mother, and placed in an incubator. Thirteen years ago I received a phone call from my friend saying he had found a tiny black cat with green eyes, and would I like to meet her… Three hours later I brought my little Luna home to the apartment I shared with my best friend Maud in Grenoble. I had to feed her kitty milk from a little bottle and teach her how to eat. I had to teach her how to find and use her litter tray and during the first few days I had to try to coax her out of the most impossible hiding places (under the stove being one example). On the third night I had nearly given up hope that she would ever come out, and I switched my bedroom light off and went to bed. Four minutes later she crept into my room, snuggled on my arm and from that moment in time it really was unconditional love.

She never really learnt how to meow, but purred louder than most cats, and would even purr in her sleep, as long as she was next to me. As she grew she would become more and more adventurous (walking along the railing of my fifth floor balcony or finding a way on to the roof to chase birds for example).  When I took her to the vet to get all of her vaccinations she decided he was in good need of a scratch and that the hiding spot behind his computer was a better place than his examination table (and she was right, he was an asshole anyway). Whenever I was sad or depressed she would curl up on my lap and stare at me until I smiled. We would dance around my apartment to the Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus, and she would sit with me and my friends while we got drunk listening to Cure records in my living room. 

Then I decided that I was quite over living in France for a while. My MA had been completed, all of my family was either in California or England, and I needed time away from everything. So I shipped all of my belongings over to my mum’s place in California, got Luna a good travel case and set off for the US. I bawled my eyes out at Charles de Gaulle airport when I had to hand her over at check-in, and didn’t sleep a wink during the 11 hour flight, thinking that she had died in the bottom of the plane. I made a vow that if she ever flew again she would be with me in the cabin. Of course she made it over alive, a little shaken up and a little annoyed at me for abandoning her, but she settled in very well in the house in California. She finally had the chance to explore the great outside, fighting with cats twice her size, at one time challenging a huge black and white snake that appeared in our back yard (at that moment I forgot my own fear of snakes and rushed out to grab her away from what could have been her death). She met up with her old friend and foe, Fury, my sister’s dog, and let herself be chased around the house until they both got bored of it and decided to live together peacefully by mainly ignoring each other. Although there were many times that I found her hiding on the stairs, waiting to catch Fury out with a hiss and a playful paw punch on her way down them.

In June of 2003 I had to leave the US for at least a year or risk being deported and not allowed back into the country. Not knowing where to go I decided to take up my aunt in Israel’s offer, and visit her for at least 3 months, and help her with her kids. I ended up staying there for over a year, and left Luna with my mum, knowing full well that she would be well looked after (although it broke my heart to leave her). She ended up becoming more aloof, going out into the wild for a few days on end, only coming back when she was hungry and in need of a good rest before her next adventure. Once I was back in California she hardly left the house again. By this time she had acquired a new enemy in the house, in the form of another cat called Muffin, an abandoned cat my mum and brother had adopted. While Luna had always held her own against other cats, Muffin proved to be another story. They hated each other from day one, and even when we tried all the tricks to get them to accept each other they didn’t. While Luna had been fine with Ludwig, her old friend in France (apart from the time that she hit him on the head with her paw, after that they were always together, cuddled up on my bed or chasing birds and flies), she never became friends with Muffin. In any case, Fury realised that she now had a more evil enemy in Muffin, and bonded with Luna. 

And then I had to leave once again. With no visa and no ability to work in the US I had to go back to Europe, this time to England, the one country where at the time all pets needed to be quarantined for 6 months on entry. There was no way I was subjecting her to that, so I left her in California once again. In the ten months I was in England I came back to visit once, for two weeks. The day before I arrived she came home for some food, but then disappeared. After two days I put posters up around the neighbourhood and on day three got a call saying that Luna was running around a backyard. I ran out, still in my pyjamas and flip flops and saw the little monster running through the green belt. She stopped when I called her name, and then ran off. I went home, saddened, until my sister called out to me to say that Luna was waiting patiently by the back door. For the rest of my stay she did not leave my side, only to go back to her adventures of neighbourhood cat queen when I left.

A few months later, Luna went away on another adventure, and stayed away so long that she had my mum worried. She finally crawled back home, dragging one of her back legs behind her. The vet ran tests and x-rays and the poor thing had severely torn ligaments in her back leg, with three options: amputation, surgery or a cast for a few months to see if she would heal naturally. While the vet kept pushing for amputation, after consulting with me my mum decided to go with the cast option. A few months later her leg was healed and she was able to jump up and down on things. At that point I finally had a visa to work in the States (albeit New York and not California) and I flew her back with me after spending Christmas with my family. She came to live with me in my tiny one bedroom apartment in Spanish Harlem, killed the mouse that had been living in the couch (the one I couldn’t kill because I hate mouse traps and refused to use poison because I knew Luna was going to be living there). From that moment onwards she never left me again. We moved to an even smaller apartment in the West Village, where she was more than happy to give up her outdoor adventures and stay inside, sleeping on my bed and waiting for me to get home from work or from my own adventures on the Lower East Side. 


A few years later we moved to a much bigger apartment in Bushwick, where she would wait for me to get home from work from her perfect spot on the couch from where she could watch the front door at all times. Her cat friend Ophelia would sometimes come to visit, and many friends would come over to cuddle her and listen to her purr. She loved people more than other animals, although I was always her first choice when it came to cuddling. My roommate once commented that it was as if she wanted to become part of me, never leaving my side and following me wherever I went, even waiting outside of the bathroom door while I showered. She never failed to jump on my bed and sleep next to me every night, even when she was annoyed at me for not coming home or for staying out too late. Her fur went from black to brown with age, but her eyes remained pure green, unless she was in a playful mood and they would turn yellow. She was always tiny, and put a little bit of weight on with age, but never had a weight problem that older, less active cats often experience. She never overate, always eating whenever she was hungry, and spent many a day sitting on the windowsill, watching the world go buy. We would always still dance to music together, and she would sit on my desk while I was writing, watching me put all of the thoughts and images that travelled through my head into words on paper. When my roommate adopted a dog (the lovely pitbull Doyle) they became fast (but secret) friends. I’m sure Luna was the only one to know Doyle’s past, his life before he came to live with us, and she knew that all he wanted was peace, as did she. I sometimes found them nearly curled up together on the couch, and they would touch noses in front of us on occasion. I’m glad she had a friend like Doyle in the last year of her life.

She never seemed to be unhappy, and I don’t think she suffered any illness or pain. One day I woke up and found that she had become an old lady practically overnight, the next day came home from work and she was gone, peacefully in her sleep. However heartbroken I still am, and still will be for a while, for the past 13 years I have had the sweetest, cutest, funniest and smartest little creature in my life, and I also know that I gave her a life that she probably wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t have adopted her. And nothing can take all of those memories away. I know that for a while I will still automatically check to see if her food and water bowls are full before I leave the house (and therefore leave the house with tears in my eyes), and also expect her to be at home waiting for me when I get in. Every morning I reach out for her when I wake up and then realize that she won’t be there or coming back. One day I will search for another cat to live with me, but for the time being I am going to learn to live without the little being who came everywhere with me.
However heartbreaking it is to lose a pet, the amount of love and joy they bring into a household makes it worth it all. 

The adventures of Luna… Two countries, two states, three apartments in NYC, two hurricanes, one near death experience (that I know of), many people friends, cat friends and dog friends. The little French cat who was raised in French, and to whom I spoke French to until she passed away. The little monster who peed on my roommates bed when she was pissed off (yes she wasn’t perfect) or who would leave me lovely fur balls as presents. The baby cat who continued to think I was her mother until her last day. I imagine that she is running around somewhere with Bella and all of the other pets that I have lost in my life, waiting for me to join her at some point in time.


Ramblings: The irrational concept of "normal"


I started writing this in a moment of anger after reading different news stories a few weeks ago, and after some random conversations with different people decided to try to finish it today. It remains unfinished, as do most of my ramblings, but I think that is the nature of the subject. There is no real answer.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a normal person, surrounded by normal people, living in a normal world. And then I realize that there is nothing normal about anything in this world. What on earth is normal about living in a country where religion dictates who you are or are not allowed to marry? What is normal about living in a world where a government decides to bomb part of its population into submission? What is normal about some people being able to eat copious amounts of an endangered species in one country while another country is literally starving to death? What is normal about someone deciding to walk into a school full of children and murdering them in cold blood for no real reason? What is normal about two people making fun of another person’s hair or clothes or weight or life just because they don’t consider him or her “normal”? None of this is normal, is it? There is no real “normal”, it’s all just a concept of what we perceive to be a way of living that doesn’t shock, hurt or scare us. In this case “abnormal” is everything outside of those boundaries that we have set.

This Merriam-Webster definition pretty much says it all:
a : according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle
b : conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern 

How boring is that? So basically in order to be “normal” you have to conform to something that you had no part in developing or setting up or deciding upon. As a conclusion, being normal is therefore just following the crowd; being just another white sheep in the herd. What happens if you weren’t born to follow though? What if you really were born as the odd one out, the black sheep that sticks out amidst the others. Are you doomed to spend the rest of your life trying to conform, even if you know that’s not right for you; or running away from the pack and having to live with your “differences”?

You know, this just gets more and more complicated as you delve into it. Because what is “being different to the norm”? That could literally mean someone who has different world views than most people surrounding him or her. Or it could be someone who thinks that murdering other people for fun is how life should be lived. Or it could be someone who thinks that having multiple husbands or wives is what marriage is all about. It could also be someone who believes that Satan exists and prefers to worship what is considered evil, rather than “God” who is supposed to be good. Or, quite simply, it could be just someone who wants to live their life happily without feeling that they should have to conform to something that they don’t believe in, and don’t want to be vilified for being “different”.

Back in my high school days I had an amazing English teacher whose words continue to inspire me today. He told me during a creative writing class that one should avoid using the words “nice” and “kind” as much as possible, because the English language is so abundant with words that describe something better than those two words that have practically become meaningless with overuse. I feel that the word “normal” has joined “nice” and “kind” in the category of words that don’t describe anything anymore. If I said that “the stars looked nice in the sky tonight” and “that person is kind”, would you feel any kind of interest in what I was trying to explain? However, if I said “the stars glistened in the blue-black sky more than usual last night” and “that person went over and beyond expectations to make me feel comfortable and at home”, you would probably be more interested in hearing more about both experiences. The same goes for “normal”. Technically, if I am explaining myself correctly here, “normal” doesn’t really exist, except maybe in our own minds.

On that note, I am going to continue to live my life in my usual way, however unconventional it may seem to others.

Ramblings: February Reflections

I find that the beginning of each new year is usually a time for reflection on my life, for some changes and also a time to relax a little and think about what I want to accomplish over the rest of the year. 2012 was an interesting year in terms of change and life in general and in a way I want to continue along that route, pinpointing the issues that tend to bother me and get rid of them for good, while at the same time focusing on the things that make me, and others happy. Of course there are moments when I feel like I am doing everything wrong, moments where I feel like I am a failure at everything, as well as moments when I just want to give up and go and live somewhere else away from everything. There are also moments when I feel like everything is worth it, and there is no place better to live than where I live now.

I feel like I am finally miles away from all of the gossip mongers that tend to be in any place that you live. People who spend their lives talking about other people, deforming stories and passing them along, just because they don’t know how to stop and focus on their own lives. I hear snippets of things here and there, random stories that I supposedly told someone else (how I wonder, seeing as I haven’t spoken to said people in well over six months), but I have decided that there was a reason that I moved on from all of that and decided to remove myself from it all, for better or for worse. Nowadays it doesn’t hurt me as much as it used to, because I am surrounded by people who really care about me and my well-being, as much as I care about them and theirs.

Sometimes in life you spend a lot of time with a certain person, and think that they will always be there for you, as much as you have been there for them. This person will be the first person you call to tell good or bad news to, the one who will answer your text at 5am when you are suffering from insomnia and need a friendly ear to listen to you. This is the person who you will pick up every time they fall down, even when you are tired of doing it and wish that it was the other way round for once. But you continue to do it because one day you know that it WILL be the other way round. Or so you think… Sometimes that person decides that they don’t have the time or the energy to help you. However painful that may seem at the time, in the long run it is all for the better. At least you are now aware of the one-sidedness of your relationship, and in the end, you are better off without this person in your life. It gets easier, and honestly your life takes a turn for the better. I feel lighter and happier nowadays. I’m not worried about that other person’s mood swings or anger or happiness anymore.

Hmmm… I don’t really want to finish that last paragraph anymore, as I started it last week and things have changed again. Yet another sign of how life can often surprise you, especially when you think a certain part of your life has gone forever, it pops back up and decides to give it another chance. We will see how things pan out in the long run, but in the meantime I am putting all reflection on hold so that I can see it with an open mind instead of being bogged down with past feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal as well as nostalgia and memories. Maybe that’s a sign of growing up (finally) – the ability to be able to forgive and move on and not to just cut someone out of your life for once and for all. Although I have to say, it doesn’t work with everyone. Some of the people I have cut out are never coming back in, and that is just so much better that way!

I’ve now been living in Bushwick for 5 years and in New York for nearly 8. Our landlords decided to raise our rent $250 this year, and although I feel like the raise is extortionate, it’s still going to be less than what most people are paying in this neighbourhood for the space and the amenities that we have. We were able to negotiate a complete revamp of the apartment (fixed windows, paint, bathroom regrout) and are staying another year here… I don’t want to move, and in any case, how would I ever be able to sign a lease nowadays with my credit as it is? I’m still not paying anywhere near as much as I paid when I lived in that tiny studio in the West Village, and this apartment feels like home. It’s also been incredible to see how the neighbourhood has changed over the past 5 years. Who would have thought that this quiet, not really very safe, area would become full of new buildings and interesting restaurants and bars. I never have to fight with cab drivers to get home anymore, and even more surprising, they actually know where my cross streets are without sighing and getting out a GPS or asking for play by play directions. This apartment feels like a home and looks like one. I couldn’t even imagine having to pack everything up into boxes and moving out now – so I suppose that means that I really have decided that New York is my home. As long as I balance it out with more travel and less time spent wishing I were elsewhere, I really don’t see myself moving to a different city or country anymore. 

Based on what an old (not anymore) friend told me via text message that bartending was cool when you were 20, not so much when you are 34, I should probably think about changing my line of work, but to be honest I’d rather not. In my opinion, living is about being happy and content in what you do, and my jobs make me feel happy. Maybe not the most mature of professions in some people’s eyes - but then again, what is? Are you all of a sudden supposed to remove all of your tattoos, put on a suit, stop having fun and do something boring for a living just because you hit the age of 35? I was pondering on that mean text message I received for a while, until one of my friends deleted it from my phone as there was no point in thinking about it anymore. I’m happy at work, and that’s the most important. Most days I come in with a smile. I am given different types of responsibility, now have some managing shifts at one job, and get to meet lots of interesting people (and many assholes too), and make new friends all of the time. What better job is there for a writer? I have enough material to write about for the rest of my life, and will continue to accumulate said material every day. Lesson learned – don’t read into hateful text messages that only contain a projection of the sender’s own life on your own. As long as you like what you do and you aren’t hurting anybody, there is no reason to feel like you are not living your life “properly”.

There has been so much good music released over the past few months, and I feel excited to see what else is to come this year. The new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album is epic (no surprise there), there is to be a new Suede out soon, a new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, a new BRMC album, as well as many new bands that are right up my street. I need to start working on new playlists for the bar as well as for myself. And I need to make an effort to go to more shows again, starting with Knoxville Morning who will be playing at Mercury Lounge this coming Friday. I’m sure they are just as brilliant live as they are recorded. I have a pinboard above my desk where I stick notes of all new album releases, book releases and gallery exhibitions in an attempt to be on top of everything I want to do and see everything I want to do and see, but I’ve been too lazy recently. I feel like it’s time to go back into hermit mode for a while, finish off the pile of books that is growing by my bed, add to my poetry collection, finish off this newest collection of short stories and get some more photography collections together.

It smells like early Spring outside. I’m glad, as this winter has been a tough one again. Not really so much weather-wise, although it has been cold enough. For the second year in a row January and February have been plagued with the death of people close to me and of people close to people I know, and it just makes me really sad. I wanted to finish this piece of on a positive note, but I’m honestly finding it hard to be super joyful and happy at the moment. I think that all I can really say to this is that I need to keep reminding myself to always let people know how much I care about them, and to live life in a way that won’t lead me to regret too much along the way. Focus on accomplishing everything I want to accomplish, and help others feel happy with their lives too – that’s seems to be the most important take away from all this sadness and grief.

Ah Spring… I am really looking forward to feeling your warm sun on my face again!

For Mick

I wrote this piece a few weeks ago, just after the extremely untimely and heartbreaking death of a good friend of many of ours, Mick Baldwin.



For Mick
However much death you may or may not have experienced in your life, you never expect someone to die. You may be scared of losing your parents or grandparents or children or friends, but you never actually expect them to die. If a death happens it always comes as a shock, no matter how old or young the person is. One day a person is standing by your side, laughing at a silly joke you just made, and the next they are gone, lying in a coffin, their soul elsewhere, their physical presence gone from this world.

There I was, sitting on a beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica, enjoying the last full day of my holiday when I received two texts, both saying the same thing… “I’m sorry to send you this on your vacation, but Mick died in a car accident last night.” 

No.

My immediate reaction was an inability to speak or to believe that it had actually happened. How could something so terrible occur while I was sitting in paradise? Why was I not next to my friends when they received the news so that we could all cry together? Why him and not one of the incredible amount of disgusting people who are still alive on this earth? How could someone who brought so many people together be removed from our lives in such a manner?

The past week has been surreal. I was unable and incapable of believing that someone so full of life and love could just disappear like that, one wrong turn and gone, leaving his family and large group of friends to grieve his passing. We had a benefit at the bar on Tuesday and the turnout was amazing – the place was crowded from 7pm until after closing, laughter and tears and music that Mick would have loved. A lot of drinking, many, many hugs, stories that made us laugh and cry at the same time, and a very generous amount of donations to help pay for funeral home costs in the US and travel back home to be buried in England. 

No. It still can’t be true.

I kept thinking he was going to pop into the bar on his bike and laugh at us all, and then join in the party. But then again, I think I wasn’t the only one who was thinking that. How could we have a party for him and him not be present for it? I’m sure he was there… Just not in the physical form.
There were so many times when Mick and I worked together that I wanted to shout at him. He never cleaned the bar properly or brought up ice and always forgot his phone after his shifts. The amount of times that me, or one of our other friends helped him close the bar after a shift was infuriating, but at the same time became a running joke between us. I could never stay irritated at him for more than five minutes because you just couldn’t. You just couldn’t stay angry at Mick – he would flash his cheeky grin, say something funny or silly and have you in fits of laughter. Ironically, he finished his last shift at the bar before leaving for his new job, and made a point of filling the ice for me so that I didn’t have to do it. And that one time made me forget the many, many other times he had forgotten to do it. 

When Mick moved upstate to his new job and home I didn’t remain as much in contact with him, which saddens me now. I missed our conversations about music and now always will. I’ll always imagine him making everyone in his new life happy and him continuing to make new friends and bringing them together with his old friends. That’s just what he did. 

There was a wake and memorial for Mick at the Bleecker Funeral Home on Thursday. Jamie and I went together, for mutual support and I am very glad we did. I wasn’t aware that it would be an open casket wake, something that I already have trouble dealing with, and am glad that one of our friends warned us before we went in. We sat in the seats by the casket, and watched the slide show of images that was showing on the screen. Carl did an amazing job with the play list as it was a perfect mix of songs that Mick loved and that also worked well with the setting and the occasion.

Yes. It finally appeared to be real.

The body in the casket was Mick, but not Mick at the same time. It was a copy of his physical form, without the life and party and happiness that embodied him. My legs wanted to get up and bolt out of the room and the place and run away somewhere where I could cry away from everyone, but my mind forced them to stay, and listen to the memorial and the wonderful and heartbreaking speeches given by his sister, family and close friends. Jo, Paul, Kenny and Carl were amazing in their words – they nailed Mick’s personality and love of life in the exact way that we all see and saw him. In the end it was hard to break myself away from the seat I was sitting on as there were tears and sadness, but ultimately a sense of peace in the room. 

I walked over to work with Jamie and Checho, feeling so sad and angry. However real it finally was, I still didn’t really want to believe it. Friends are not supposed to die – they are meant to grow old with you, so that you can all walk down the street with walking sticks together and drink Guinness in the pub whilst chatting about the good old days when Mick danced on the pole on the bar or when Jamie beat Paul at darts or when we were all out dancing until 8am. 

RIP Mick – you died too young but will be remembered forever in our lives.


 

Short Story: Of Instability and Growing Roots

Of Instability and Growing Roots


She walked out of the airport into the humid air, so humid that each breathe was a mix of droplets and warmth. She didn’t turn around to look behind her; she just walked straight over to the men with their cars, to what appeared to be a taxi rank, disorderly, loud but with the main direction of taking people where they needed to go. This was the start of all new, a place where she could soothe the aches and pains of a life that had failed her and find that core that had gone missing months before.
Another country, new people, a new adventure. Gone were the days of sitting at the bar and drinking the night away. Gone were the days of lying in bed under the covers, wishing for the time to stop so that she wouldn’t have to face anything outside of the house. Gone were the days of pretending to smile and laugh at everything and everyone, waiting for that one moment when she could start drinking and drown herself in oblivion. This wasn’t even a new start, just an awakening of sorts, a change and a time to reflect on the years lost and found.

“The beach please. Just the beach.”

Emily was your quintessential wild child. Rebellious and quiet as a teen, adventurous in her twenties and free-falling in her thirties. Strong-willed and strong-hearted, but lost in the world that surrounded her. She spent so much time looking for something that had departed so many years before; that she often forgot what it was like to actually enjoy her life in the way that it should have been lived.
There were the days in the squats, cooking vegetarian food over a gas stove, foraging the market for the cheapest foods and inventing meals that were filling and savoury on a tight budget. While Emily would go to school and dissect poetry and fiction, her boyfriend Neil would sell weed and coke in order to provide himself with the odd heroin fix. Nights were spent talking about the world and listening to old records saved or stolen, scratched and warped. It was hard to afford food, but the alcohol was always present, as was the white powder that would make its way into everybody’s noses at some point or another. Electricity was not always an option, and in the days of darkness the instruments would appear, or they would all pile into a van and drive around, looking for a warehouse party or an outside rave. Sell drugs, consume drugs and dance until the sun went down again, sometimes multiple times. The only milestone was the degree that Emily wanted to obtain, not for any real purpose except for an accomplishment. The first person with a degree in the family that she had lost sight of.

Emily tired of the squat and of Neil once his dabbling in heroin became a daily need, and branched out on her own, traveling to places that her eyes had never seen before. There were the days with a small backpack and random friends picked up along the way. Ashrams in India, third class train rides in Egypt, kibbutzim in Israel, barefoot walks on the beaches in Morocco. Postcards home with the words “I am safe, I love you”. Men who fell in love with her, and men who she fell in love with along the way, sad goodbyes and lies about being together again someday, somewhere else on the planet. Friendships forged over campfires and during bumpy bus rides. Cheap cigarettes and vodka, beach parties and long discussions involving copious amounts of weed and tobacco. Emily lost herself in the different worlds she ventured to, and came out of them with a new sense of self, with a confidence she had been lacking in her younger years and with a new sense of fulfillment and goals for the future. It was time to settle for a while.

“Left and then a right here. Go straight down the road until you get to the little shop on the corner, and then make another right.”

Emily contemplated the world outside the open car window, breathing in the smells of ash and incense, food and rubbish. People clad in garments of all colours and shapes, voices talking in different languages and cars honking at every intersection, trying to make their way through the traffic of people and cars and bikes. The only thing that mattered at this point was the beach and the peace it would always bring.

There were the days in the city, working in the office, scraping by to pay rent on a tiny studio that she only ever used to sleep in. Nights in dive bars and days picking up the brain cells lost in those bars, only to lose them again in another location the following night. Emily despised her job and the stress that she let overwhelm her on a daily basis, but persevered under the notion that this is what she should be doing with her life, conforming in her own way, tattooed sleeves under business shirts and barefoot wandering in airports during business trips. It couldn’t last, it just wasn’t for her. The partying took its toll and pneumonia and depression crept in, taking over the smiles and laughter that used to fill her days and nights. A sure sign of needed change, time to move on and find that natural light and happiness again.

Emily left those days one rainy, blustery day and found what she had been looking for for years, a life that she had always wanted. Jobs that she enjoyed and friends that had the same outlook as her. People who did not want to conform but who just wanted to be who they were, despite the fact that they may not always be accepted by others. She realised that there was no calling in life, but ideas and needs and destinations and sights. Places to go and people to see and experiences to feel. Freedom was always available; you just needed to take advantage of it. Some may call it another form of running away, but for Emily it was just another adventure, another place and another time where her insomnia died and her laughter came back. The simple parts of life that were so fulfilling reappeared and she woke up most days with a smile and an interesting thought. There were some days and weeks of grey areas, times when the tears would fall freely for a while, before drying up and leaving her be again. Emails came and went, with the words “How are you? Should I be worried” and the usual response of “I’m fine, doing great!”

Then came the days that the grey turned to black, and the light disappeared once again. Back to the bars and the oblivion that she had been fleeing for so long. Sadness prevailed happiness and the tears would never dry up, even when the sun was shining and the sky was pure blue. Christmas lights and songs of freedom did not help, all cares were gone and hugs could not fight the growing sense of impending doom on the horizon. Night turned to day and day to night and the most important thought was that of escape, once again. Ties bound her down, and the scissors to cut them were always just a few centimeters out of reach.

It was time. Time to leave and time to return. A small bag of belongings and a ticket to fly away, no looking back, no looking forward.

“You can leave me here. This is perfect.”

There she was, right there, on the beach, in the same spot as she had always been. In front of the hut, looking exactly like she always had. A few more wrinkles, lighter hair and the same ocean-blue eyes. Some things never really changed, even after months and years of outside changes.

“Hi Mum.”
“Emily… You came home at last! It’s time to let the healing begin and to rest within the confines of this paradise we have always called home. I love you child, I knew that you would make it back when the time was right for you. I never doubted your strong spirit would guide you back to me.”

Time may not heal all wounds, but love and peace may just do the trick. Home is where your heart never leaves.



Ramblings: Inspired by a quotation...

I woke up and read this Roger Nimier quote on one of my friend's Facebook pages. It inspired me to write the following in the space of about ten minutes. It could be now, it could be 5 years ago, who knows... But it's all true and I think many can relate to it.



Descente aux enfers… Or is it ?

"Il est fréquent d'aimer les abîmes, il est juste de s'y précipiter, mais il est étrange d'accepter d'y descendre lentement, pas à pas, et d'envelopper cette déchéance d'une douceur qui trompe tout le monde et soi-même."
Roger Nimier

Rough translation (done in 10 seconds):
“It is common for one to love the depths of despair, it is normal to throw oneself into them, but it is strange when one accepts to descend into them slowly, step by step, and to cover this decline so gently that one deceives everyone else and oneself.”

It appears to be a sort of “descente aux enfers”, slowly, without even knowing where the idea came from, where the feeling started and what triggered such a pull downwards towards some kind of hell, but step by step it’s taking you there. It could be a way of controlling oneself, seeing just how far you can go until you hit a rock, maybe not rock bottom, but somewhere near there. Feeling like you are losing your mind, step by step, opens up certain visions to what you could or should be, and how you could and would make it. But, at that moment in time you don’t have the real incentive or power to actually stop it and climb back up again. When you are finally at the bottom, there are two real choices: stay there and probably just walk into an early grave, or look up and see what you are missing. 

It could also be a hidden cry for help, you want someone to notice where you are heading, but you can’t actually open your mouth to say it out loud because you can’t find the words to express what you are feeling. Or you feel too guilty to bother anyone with your own problems, which seem so much less serious than other people’s problems. You have a job, enough money to live on, wonderful friends and a place to live. So who will really understand the demons that plague your mind every day, or that feeling of walking through a thick cloud every time you are finally able to make it out of bed? Especially when you are one of the most positive people you know ten months out of twelve? Why would you plague someone else with your minor issues when they have much more important things to deal with in life? 

Or, then again, you could just not care anymore. Let everyone see how insane you really are.  Letting loose, losing control now and again brings some kind of fulfillment. When you are tired of looking after yourself and being responsible every single day, it often helps to go on a crazy self-indulgent and self-harming rampage. And then you wake up feeling like you lost a couple of days in your life and will never ever be able to live them again. You feel guilty and ill, but also kind of exhilarated and high – you dodged the bullet yet again and are still here to tell the tale. Back to reality and responsibility, back to life as you know it and don’t always want to live it.

All in all, it is a perfect combination of all of the above, and all in all, it is worth it to make it back up to the top, back to the other side. Because despite what we all may think at times in our lives, the sun always rises every morning and the rain does stop to bear blue skies and light, wispy clouds. Nights can be long, but days can be even longer if you decide to live through them instead of hiding until the sun goes down. I am too strong to let life get the better of me, and have too much to accomplish to hide away in the shadows.

Short story: Autumn's Place


Autumn’s Place

There is a place not too far away from here where the sun always shines and the sky is always blue. At night the moon rises through a clear dark sky speckled with a million stars, all flickering away to some kind of galactic symphony. During the day the birds sing in harmony and at night the fireflies float around in the air, humming along to their own songs. Once in a while voices can be heard across the bay, but most of the time all you can hear are your own thoughts. If you close your eyes and clear your mind you can imagine this special place not too far away from here.

Autumn dreamt of this place when she wasn’t there. It was her haven away from the real world, her spot in the world where she felt like she really existed. Two days of real existence cancelled out the other five days of the week where she felt like she was just another ant building up the ant hill. Alarm clock to work to lunch to smoke break to work to gym to dinner to bed to alarm clock again. The boring cycle of the week days made her want to randomly kick things while screaming until her throat was hoarse. But once Friday came along, she would grab her weekend bag and hop on the subway, knowing full well that within the following 12 hours she would taste freedom again.

The air felt so pure and fresh that Autumn would let it fill her lungs as soon as she stepped off the train. Rain or shine, summer or winter, she would try to never miss a weekend away. There was nothing that the city had to offer her than millions of people, emails clamouring for her attention and a small, box-like apartment where she could never feel at home. Out in the special place she had as much space as she needed, more space than she would ever need. The deer would run across the lawn, chomping on the hyacinth flowers in bloom, and the raccoon babies would hole up beneath the ceiling rafters, keeping warm until they were big enough to venture outside alone, ready to attack the garbage cans that lay around for them to choose from.

On Saturday mornings, during any season, be the roads frosty or glistening with ice, or the air so humid with heat that one felt like one was drinking airdrops, Autumn would rise before the sun and walk down to the bay to watch it slowly come up over the water to the east. The sky would turn purple and then orange and yellow, bruised streaks lining over your head, until it looked like the sky would alight upon the bay, throwing fire onto the water, before the sun broke through the horizon and another sunny day would start. In the evening, she would rush over to the west bay and watch the sun set on the water again, sometimes over fishermen and swimmers, other times over blocks and blocks of ice that were floating about. Even during the winter months the sun rays were piercing and strong, as if nothing could beat the power it had over the place. It was clear that nature ruled the place that had captured Autumn’s heart and had given her the freedom that she needed so much to make it through the week days of her life.

Autumn had chosen a life of compromise: if she had the weekend of her choice she would endure the other five days of the week. She felt that she had no other choice than compromise. There were no shades in her black or white, it was prison and escape and back to prison again. She lacked the imagination or the will-power to make her freedom an everyday occurrence. By accepting what she saw as her fate she gave up on seeking for anything more in life. 

Saturday nights were for lighting the log fire and curling up on the couch with the dog and a book. Dinners would be fresh vegetables cooked into soups and stews and salads over the stove, herbs picked from the garden and tea made from lemongrass and honey. Produce was always purchased locally, from the farmers, or picked directly from the vegetable garden amidst the hibiscus flowers. Autumn’s choice of a book was so very eclectic, but she would always finish at least one during the weekend, another form of escape. Escape within escape, so that what was considered by most to be her real life was completely forgotten for hours on end. What was real life anyway? The job that she hated and that took up most of her days, but that paid the bills and allowed for short getaways, or the life in her place by the bay, away from everything and everyone, where dreams could be dreamt without any guilty feelings?

Autumn would walk down to the ocean on Sundays, never mind the season or the weather, to sit by the waves and watch them crash against the shore. The ocean made her feel serene and energetic at the same time, and helped her collect her thoughts and her doubts together, and make sense of them. There is nothing more powerful than the ocean – it will pick you up and throw you about without fail, and will take anything in that you throw into it, swallowing it whole and throwing it back up miles and miles away, somewhere else in the world. Some things never come back up, they are swallowed forever, and disappear into the earth. Autumn would imagine all of her fears disappearing into the darkest parts of the ocean where no one would ever think of looking for them. Or maybe they were swallowed up by a shark and shredded into a million pieces, never to be found again. Every week new fears and doubts were thrown into the waves, some disappearing, others coming back again, weeks later.

Whereas the ocean was the beginning of all feelings of freedom for Autumn, it also ended up being the end of it for her. Autumn’s life was divided into boxes, all enclosed by one big box; a small box for her city prison, a bigger box for her free life and tunnel boxes that lead the way to both boxes. There was no sign of a tunnel to go outside of the biggest box, it was one that Autumn had forgotten to build for herself. There was no outside, there was just the city and the special place, just a train ride away. A week day life and a weekend life, nothing else, carefully built so that nothing ever felt out of place. Even her freedom was built to last only parallel with the prison life. The ocean would take and take from her, but it would also give her back something that she had not even tried to imagine existed anymore: something outside of all of this.

One Saturday night, on a rare night when Autumn found herself stuck in the office, working on a project that needed to be finished before Monday morning, the rain started to fall. And fall, and fall, and fall. By Monday the rivers had washed up over the borders, and were racing through the lower parts of the city, picking up cars and debris and trailing them along the streets. Television showed scenes of chaotic winds, trees falling and electricity pylons rooted up from the ground, leaving thousands and thousands stranded without power and water. On Tuesday the storm dissipated and the sky became blue again, washed clean of the anger nature had unleashed on the country. Whereas the city had weathered some damage that would take time to fix, Autumn’s special place had been reclaimed by the ocean. Where she had once walked and ran with the dog, watched the sun rise and set, read books and picked flowers, were now only fish and waves and the odd roof and boat floating about before it was dragged into the midst of the ocean. The special place was somewhere down there, among the fears and doubts that Autumn had sent into the water. The ocean had taken Autumn’s self-created freedom but had thrown her something back: the ability to make a choice and a change in her own creation. Instead of living in the self-contained box for the rest of her life, content but not happy, she now had the choice of breaking free. It was now up to her to make this choice.

When one thing disappears another thing is not far behind to take its place.


Ramblings: The question of a man, a dog and a choice



The question of a man, a dog and a cliff

“You are sitting on top of a cliff between a human being and a dog. You can only save one – do you choose the human being or the dog?”

I can’t answer that question without thinking about it. As much as I would like to live my life through reason and pure rational thinking, I never can. I live my life as an emotional being, meaning that everything I do, think and wish for is tainted by my emotions. This leads to many a contradiction and many a paradoxical way of thinking that sometimes surprises even myself, but I have come to terms with the fact that I may not always make sense to others. As long as I live my life the way I think is beneficial to myself and others, meaning that I will not do anything that will harm others, and will always treat others as I would expect to be treated myself, then I am OK with the fact that I may contradict myself. 

For this reason, if someone asks me the question at the top of this page, then my answer will be another question: “who is the human being and who is the dog?”. If both were random beings, unknown to me, I would probably choose the human, even if it would break my heart to technically let the dog die. If it were a random human being, but my own dog I would most probably choose the dog. If it were a random dog and someone close to me I would definitely choose the human. If it were George Bush and a random dog I would most definitely choose the dog. And so on. My brother is not as wishy washy as me in his response: for him, his choice would be the human every time, as they are capable of reason, and therefore necessary to keep the planet moving (he will probably explain his thoughts on this better than I can, actually I prefer that he does, because even if they differ from mine they are very interesting). I would rather spend the rest of my life feeding and taking care of the dog than having to justify to myself that I was the person who saved George Bush over a dog. I mean if the choice were between Ted Bundy and the dog no one would bat an eyelid if I chose the dog would they? It wouldn’t even be for a “I prefer dogs to humans” perspective – for my own personal survival Ted Bundy would need to die. Because if him and I were the only two people left on this planet who else is he going to murder once his killing impulse sets in?

Thankfully I doubt that I will ever have to make the choice between Ted Bundy and a dog. Or George Bush and a dog for that matter. Or my sister and a dog. Or even an unknown human and a dog. Because, in the end, I would probably end up jumping over the cliff and saving myself having to make the choice. Does that sound stupid? Probably. But some choices are just too hard to make. But wait… I need to think back on that statement now… I live in a constant survival mode, where I prepare for the worst and hope for the best, so if I really were in a situation where I had to choose between a man and a dog, would I really prefer to die myself instead of making a choice I would have to live with for the rest of my life? Now I am questioning myself again. I would probably search for a way for us all to survive first, and then decide if my life was more important than the other beings lives. If the choice were between my sister and my brother I would prefer them to live rather than me. If it were between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, I may just go into survival mode and kick Romney off the cliff. I don’t know, I make choices through emotion not reason, so who knows what way the wind would blow if I were actually in the situation.

But what if I just walked away and let the man and the dog fight it out for themselves? Is that an option? That’s the way my mind has always worked – there is never a simple solution to a question. Logically I should be making a choice based on a reason of importance, right? But what is important to me may not be important to others. And I have just been sitting here for an hour wondering about a hundred different types of situations and determining whether or not I would let an animal or a human die, or let myself die to save others. There is no one situation where I could automatically say “him” or “her” without having to think about it properly. I can’t take a blank statement and attach it to a situation and always follow it through without letting my own personal thoughts and emotions take hold of me. And, to be honest, I don’t think I actually ever want to. In the end, I am me, and I accept that nowadays. Contradiction or not, that’s the way I am.

I just hope I never have to choose between a man and a dog.