Friday, 26 December 2014

A Time for Beginnings...

I wish I could write poetry about the wonder of new life and not just about endings and (to a lesser extent) death.

These seem to be the default topics for poets (also love, but since love is generally entwined with the other two, I am going to use poetic licence and ignore it just now) but I can think of some notable exceptions. Plath’s famous line ‘Love set you going like a fat gold watch’, for example. Or Eavan Boland’s poetry and – to a lesser extent – Shakespeare’s brief subscription to the notion of ‘save breed to brave him when he takes thee hence.’ And yes, before you ask, those quotes do just roll off my pen and no, I have not Googled them. Ergo, any inaccuracies are entirely the fault of my own brain mis-remembering the information.

Perhaps that very human mis-remembrance is what causes us to glorify endings the way we seldom do beginnings. We look back at endings and obsess over them, we want to think of them as a learning curve, as a growth of our knowledge base, as a beautiful but painful experience – anything to make them more bearable, more tolerable than they generally are.

Or perhaps it is because beginnings are new and exciting and leave us with little time for sitting and writing about them. Even now, I am writing this sitting on a bus (well, I did promise!) to Donegal where I have been forced to sit still for the past 3 hours.

Endings, on the other hand, are generally characterised by periods of reflection, sadness and solitude – perfect writing conditions!

Call me crazy, but I would like to be a happy writer. Please allow me ten years to prove that this is not an oxymoron. If, in December 2024 I have not proven this to be possibly, then I will also concede defeat. I will also quite possible be a crazy person, but we shall see.

I would like to start my explorations at this time because Christmas is a time of great happiness flavoured with a bucket or two of nostalgia (like salt and vinegar crisps – I never can find the vinegar in them). This nostalgia will hopefully provide me with plenty of fuel for my burgeoning experiments.

The starting point will hopefully be the friends’ new baby boy, a mere five days old as I write. I met him today for the first time and managed to hold him for fifteen minutes before he started to scream – a personal best! But for a writer, there must surely be a million things to say about this. Some of them might even be original!

It seems to me to be a good starting point in this season filled with hope and beginnings (an nostalgia).

Now, all I have to do is begin…

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Why I go to the Gym

I hate the gym. Not as much as some things like, say Brussels Sprouts, but I hate the gym.

The music is always too loud, the room smells of sweat, and sometimes I feel a bit like a Hamster running and running and running and not getting anywhere.

I puff and pant on the cross-trainer for the first five minutes thinking 'Damn, this is hell. Damn, I could be at home with a good book and some tea. Damn, damn, damn...wait, what?'

Because around about that last damn, something happens. Maybe its adrenaline or something equally as scientific but all I know is, I get high. Oh yeah, high. I feel alive, every inch of my body working, straining and stretching and wondering how much further it can go. Just a little bit, just a little, little bit more...and maybe we could just go that little bit further...and where will that lead us?
My mind, usually quite like the aforementioned hamster that never quite stops, suddenly shuts up, sits down and enjoys the ride. Believe me when I say, this never happens. Not even when I am unconscious!

My body takes over. It wants to run, to exercise, to stretch itself out and test its limits and it can do that in this sweat-filled, noisy, public room.
This knowledge astounds me.
And what's more, while I am exercising, it would appear that I am also exorcising.
Stressful day at work? Bam, no problem after a work out.
Worried about something personal? Ditto
Tired? Hungover? Generally grumpy? Ditto, ditto, ditto.
PMS? Well, lets admit it...some miracles are never meant to happen, but it does help.

So this is why, on a wet and wild night in freezing December, I drag myself back out of my cosy, Christmassy flat and down to the local gym to spend an hour sweating on space-age machines.

But I still hate the thought of it. That's why that was last night, and tonight I opted to sit by my Christmas tree and make a blog post about it instead!