Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bleeding hearts

London in the spring time, I have discovered, is the panacea.

There are foxes screaming to each other in the night, wood pigeons, girlfriends drinking ginger tea, forget-me-nots and bleeding hearts, a woodpecker heralding the arrival of summer. There are oaks and beeches and great stretches of lawn that makes one want to cavort and cartwheel. There is sunshine, cherry blossom, men in white trousers and iridescent orange shoes. Soup, school lunches, hot cross buns. Cadbury's dairy milk. Laughter. So much laughter. Budding trees and tulips (from Amsterdam). Tears. Chopin's Nocturne. 

It's hard to be here because last time I was here it was with the man I loved. I see him everywhere. I don't want to but it's hard to miss. The city looked different before I met him and now I hear him commenting on everything I see, even the golden pheasant at Kew that two small Parisian children were chasing --with all the stealth of the Pink Panther -- to try to get a picture. 

Yesterday was earth day and we spent a few hours of it at Kew. My best, oldest friend and me, just wandering through the trees and acknowledging the geese and circling the Henry Moore, gobsmacked. The last time I was at Kew was aged 9 when I was in Mr Williams class at Little Gaddesden C of E school. I have a picture of me and my brother and Tim Young in a red anorak outside the large Victorian greenhouse. I am not sure that 9 and 7 year olds fully appreciate the joy of a botanical garden, but its magic wasn't lost on me this time. "We could hide," I said to Vivien. "We could hide and then have a picnic when everyone has gone." "and the statues would come to life and we would have a party under the stars and no-one would know" she said. 

There is no-one in the world who makes me feel so comfortable. We amuse each other all day long, and somehow manage to avoid irritating each other. We are Patsy and Adina. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Vanessa and Virginia. Or two fourteen year old schoolgirls talking about boys and bursting into song at the slightest provocation. Miley. Elvis. Bowie. Hot Chocolate. Sinatra. Ian Dury. Nina Simone. Toots & The Maytals. 

I am a lucky girl. 


Monday, April 20, 2015


Due to one complete arse of a commenter, I've had to change the commenting policy. You will now have to sign in to comment. Apologies for this. I've just had a complete sense of humor failure with The Troll. Thank you, dear people. Love, MissW xoxo

Thursday, April 16, 2015

For What Binds Us

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

"For What Binds Us" by Jane Hirshfield, from Of Gravity and Angels. © Wesleyan University Press, 1988. Reprinted with permission. (via Writers Almanac)


There is a most distinct whirr of summer in the air. The birds are chirpier, the butterflies are everywhere (monarchs, orange tips) and even my old dog is springier in her step. The doors to the house are open all day long and the dogs and I wander in and out, depending on the position of the sun. Something good has set in. The malaise has lifted. It's hard not to be knocked over by the glorious green loveliness of it all. And the green in Southern California is ephemeral. We're in a drought and from now on through the fall, everything will turn brown.

I have chamomile on my desk, a gift from a friend, who brings it every Sunday that I invite him for dinner. He goes to the Farmer's Market in Hollywood, and picks me up a bunch. I dry it in the kitchen amongst the hanging pots.

I wish I could talk about the book I'm reading. It's a galley and it's not out for a bit. And it's about sex (and love) addiction. A memoir written by a famous writer. I want to pictures of paragraphs every few minutes. I want to send chunks of it to old lovers. I want to say: this is it; this is what we struggled with.

And the online dating saga continues. I'm reminded that everyone does it, which puts my feeble "I wasn't bred for this" cries to rest, and fully labels me a brat for even muttering those words, but I did, to my friend Michael, who has been kind and good, and helped me through the stingray-infested waters. The ten or so men that are recommended each day as matches for me by look mostly like gang members, not that I couldn't go for a bit of rough on the right day, if the moon were at the right angle, but they're not exactly what I'm used to. Let's put it that way. Tinder is better. There is a sharper quality of photo, a little more art direction, but I'm reminded that this is for people who want a quick one in a dark alley (which I'd happily be up for, if the planets aligned, I'd had enough gin, and I didn't have to talk to them). OK Cupid seems to be the best bet. A couple of nice gentlemen have written witty introductory notes and I find myself warming towards their pictures with their arms around small children and English bulldogs.

The thing is, I am a talker. I'm not a meet-me-in-a-dark-alley kinda girl. I'm not a prude. But talking is the shit. Conversation is sexy. I want someone who will talk to me and reveal new worlds to me and wow me. I know I'm asking for too much. And I want to be bowled over and electrified and sizzled. Is that a word? I want to be sizzled, babe.

This quote I'm going to pull, because it's good, and relevant. Apologies to the author. I will give you proper attribution once you give me your okay:

"They say that when you meet someone and feel like it's love at first sight, run in the other direction. All that's happened is that your dysfunction has meshed with their dysfunction. Your wounded inner child has recognized their wounded inner child, both hoping to be healed by the same fire that burned them."

I remember this. I remember saying one day to the ex-bf, when we were in his flat in London and he was writing, and I was sitting on the edge of the kitchen table, looking out the window, drinking some tea with chai spice powder in it, and I realized that I'd felt this way before, that there old, old ghosts in the room with us. "We know each other from a long time ago" I said. And he said something absent-minded, like "Yes, remember, we used to walk in Fryman all the time." There was an energy from the beginning, and we both hoped to be healed by the same fire that originally burned us. 

It's tempting to stay single, caught up in your own little vortex, where your heart is protected and you never once have to place it outside of yourself to get pummelled (or soothed). I walk in the mornings, with the dogs, and the birds sing and I wonder what possibly could be better than this?

Wish me luck, comrades. xo MissW

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Thistle & co in the bamboo jungle


Past One O'Clock

Past one o'clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night. 
I'm in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you. 
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind. 
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts. 
Behold what quiet settles on the world. 
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address 
The ages, history, and all creation.

-- Vladimir Mayakovsky 


Friday, March 27, 2015

Tomas Tranströmer, 1932 - 2015

Selected Haiku (1996-2004)

The sun is low now.
Our shadows are giants.
Soon all will be shadow.


The presence of God.
In the tunnel of birdsong
a locked seal opens.


Oak trees and the moon.
Light. Silent constellations.
And the cold ocean.


Thoughts standing still, like
the colored mosaic stones in
the palace courtyard.


Gaunt tousled pine trees
on the same tragic moorland.
Always and always.


Borne by the darkness.
I met an immense shadow
in a pair of eyes.


And blueweed, blueweed
keeps rising from the asphalt.
It's like a beggar.


The darkening leaves
in autumn are as precious
as the Dead Sea Scrolls.


A revelation.
The long-standing apple-tree.
The sea is close by.


Ash-colored silence.
The blue giant passes by.
Cool breeze from the sea.


Birds in human shape.
The apple trees in blossom.
The great enigma.


Moon--its mast is rotten, its sail is shriveled.
Seagull--drunk and soaring away on currents.
Jetty--charred rectangular mass. The thickets
founder in darkness.

Out on doorstep. Morning is beating, beats on
ocean's granite gateways and sun is sparkling
near the world. Half-smothered, the gods of summer
fumble in sea mist.

[17 Poems; 1954]

-- Tomas Tranströmer

Beginning to see the light

I'm trying very hard to understand why we do the things we do, and what influences us in the choices we make as human beings. I've realized for example that lately, in the last week or so, I've felt an enormous sense of palpable relief, that somehow my life is less anxious and more about the warm spring days and the abundance that brings.  There is an optimism that wasn't there before. I'd lost it. I'd forgotten I had it. I forgot the thing that I bring into the room. I left it somewhere. Blame it on the time change, blame it on the fact that the odd ex-boyfriend and I aren't in contact at all, zero, zilch, or blame it on healing.

EXT: FARMER'S MARKET, LOS ANGELES: I had breakfast with my Ex-Husband on Monday. We don't know what to call each other. We are still married. I'm not sure why, but we are. We see each other infrequently, but we talk every day, and he is, to be honest, still my best friend. He introduced me to someone as "the mother of my children and my current wife" but that's not entirely true. I have to find a better word. There must be a better word. In his honor I ordered huevos divorciados. I chortled at the joke. He didn't notice. He stuck with rancheros. And all the way to breakfast I'd felt excited, as if there was something magical in this meeting, that I'd maybe I'd been wrong all along, and that he was lovely and I was lovely and it was all a big misunderstanding. Five minutes in I remembered why we couldn't live together. Tears were pouring down my face in the middle of the Farmer's Market (not enough tears apparently to prevent me from gulping down my divorced eggs and their two delicious salsas) and I remembered the pain that only someone who has known you most of your life can inflict, unwittingly. When he's really mad at me his eyes blink rapidly. But breakfast finished with my face only slightly red, my nose only slightly swollen, and I saw how bad he felt, not just for making me cry, but for all of it, for the years and years and years we spent together where we couldn't quite get it right, for being children together, for raising each other, for our co-dependence we couldn't shed, all of it. He struggles. I struggle. The children struggle. But we love, too, over divorced eggs and warm tortillas and "a bunch of fucking tourists you'll never see again" (his quote when I complained about crying in public).

For over a year there was anxiety: when was he (London boyfriend) going to call, when was I going to see him, would he keep his word, would he return the text, would he say good night, was he having a bad day, did he in fact love me as he said he did, was he going to miss another plane. It was constant. It was constant and I think I thought that I enjoyed it. I loved him. I loved him because he was brilliant and kind and funny and unpredictable and completely off his tree. And I thought that I would be able to change him. I thought that by loving him, everything would transform for him. I thought that the brilliant sunshine I brought to his life (and I am, I promise being ironic) would illuminate his days and we'd live happily ever after.

You see, the damage we dispensed to each other was beyond anything I imagined two human beings could do.  I don't think it was intentional, but it felt like it, and so everything became miserable. Every time we spoke. Every interaction. Even seeing his name, or a letter he'd written me, a present from him, set me off into such a state of anxiety, I could hardly function. I didn't sleep. The sunny way I saw the world became dark and bleak. I was like an addict. Maybe I was an addict. "You're in a bad relationship" said my friends, all of them, at different times. "It's toxic" they said. But like my sweet Frenchie who won't let go of a toy she loves, and you have to wrest it from her grip and her strong, puffy jaws, I wouldn't, couldn't let go.  27 years of one relationship went pear-shaped. And then I was dancing and being read poems and walking through London at midnight and I was loved and fed smoked fish and flat whites and my hand was held constantly and I was told I was beautiful (and that hadn't happened for a long, long time) so you see, it was very hard to give up.

"You're worth more than table scraps" said a friend and I wondered what that meant. Because after no food, table scraps taste pretty good.

My mother said something quite telling the other day. She said "you can't keep asking about someone if there isn't happy news." And I think that is how we are programmed, to fill our lives with happy news. I do it without thinking about it. But one thing that John (my husband) taught me was that being in it, living with it, being in the pain, and feeling it, and allowing it to cover you, knowing, with faith, that it will go, that it will dissipate, is important. Maybe that is the healing, to just be with it, without judgement. Maybe that's what I have to learn to be comfortable with. My mother also said "he will make you unhappy for the rest of your life if you let him." It was that advice that allowed me to let go.

And so now, when I walk in the mornings, early, with the dogs, and marvel at the flowers that have grown overnight, and watch the hawks, the crows nesting, the little band of wild parrots that flies over the canyon, the cucumber vine with the spiky chartreuse fruit, that people hate and I love for its persistence, I have back a sense of wonder that I'd lost in the fraught, hard-scrabble world of trying to make a man love me when he didn't know how.

It's all here. It's in the trees and the grass and the birds. It's in the sky that makes theatre every morning and every evening, without fail. It's in the constant knowledge that the sun will rise and that there will be a new day, a new way to start, and way to make amends for the crappy job you did of yesterday, and that today there is a cup of tea, a joke, a book, work, a warm bed, some furry friends.

"Oh, to throw my arms round the neck of a creature, dog or man, a creature who loves me!"  -- Colette

I'll stick with dogs for now. Ok?

Here's the Velvet Underground:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Guest House


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks