blogging

Gym Loser

Its not exactly a surprise that I like to start blogs at the drop of a hat.

Kingdom of Appetency was started and is now kind of … defunct.

A Wiltshire Garden was started and is now kind of … defunct.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the newest blog from the Flibberatic stable …

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Gym Loser is here to detail my ups, downs, successes and failures as I try to turn my health around.

I bought oat milk and chia seeds today, for chrissakes!

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#sorrynotsorry

It feels like I’ve dropped the ball with the blogging lately, what with holiday, post-holiday pre-work paperwork and then week one at work …

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But now I have some time to myself (i.e. le weekend), I shall be writing and queuing some posts to get me through to next weekend. Probably here and at AWG too.

Writing 101: Loss – Part 1

Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

Generally speaking I’m a pretty phlegmatic guy. I take most things on the chin. If you hurt me I’m more likely to shrug and turn away. If you’ve decided on a course of action already then I’d rather focus my energy on something that’s more beneficial to me. Please don’t misunderstand – I’ll fight for something if I feel that it needs it, but something I’ve learned over the years is to not waste time on that kind of negativity.

During my teenage years I was introduced to the mantra of reason, season, lifetime – you know, the now somewhat hackneyed, and very 1990s, aphorism that some people are in your life only for a short time to fulfil a particular need, some are in it for longer to help you grow and learn, and the final bunch are there for the long-haul to help lifelong lessons and the building on emotional foundations.

At the time I was going through somewhat of a tumultuous time (okay, as a teenager most of it seemed tumultuous where in reality it probably wasn’t) dealing with my own sexuality and exploring various different spiritual avenues as well as trying to figure out who I really was, and the mantra resonated with me. It still does. I’m not a neo-hippie, or even a hipster, I just consider myself emotionally mature enough to see things for what they are.

But that’s all now.

Its taken me some time to get here, and losing people still affects me deeply. I may be able to accept it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. I’m not talking about losing people through traumatic death. I’ve never been confronted with that. All my grandparents died (fairly) peacefully and/or when I was quite young – or at least young enough that I didn’t quite understand it all. I’m talking about the other sort of loss – that of somebody wrenching themselves away from you, the ones that tear and claw at your heart and at your soul – at your very core – and leave you wounded and breathless, grasping for sops and stubble where there used to be feasting and harvests of love and beauty.

The road was somewhat … bumpy, and I’ve lost my fair share of important people over the years – some of whom still affect me in odd ways and at odd times.

So buckle up … the next couple of parts will be looking at these events and people …

Keep your hearts away from your sleeves.

But maybe at the end we’ll all feel a little better.

Writing 101: Three Songs

Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

Twist: Commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.

Important songs aren’t quite the same as favourite songs, are they? After all, the list of my favourite songs probably changes on a daily basis, depending on what I’ve listened to recently. But important songs are they ones that stay with you and resonate inside of you, that make your heart giddy and your mind swoop and soar.

I don’t remember the song that played when I had my first kiss – or any of my first kisses – or when I first had sex, or when I first made love (very different things), or when somebody died, or … just about anything. There are songs that are associated with me reading a particular book. There are songs that remind me of particular people, or times in my life that seemed to change me – possibly for the better. There are songs that I remember playing in the background when I was a child, or that I’d listen to with my mum, or that I’d sing along to (and with my voice … wow …), or that seemed to be soundtracks to a summer or a drunken night out … A song can be important for all sorts of reasons, I suppose.

It doesn’t particularly help when you have a memory that’s suspect at best and has a habit of dropping out on you with no notice.

One of my all time favourite (yes, yes, I know what I said about favourite vs. important) musical artists is Darren Hayes. Oddly, its his solo work – following the disbanding of Savage Garden – that has had the most impact on me. Perhaps its because as a fellow gay man I feel his music has something to say to me that isn’t about endless rutting or getting off your face or being a bitch or being faaaaaabulous. I should point out that not all gay artists sing about these things – I happen to think that Will Young’s album Echoes is amazing for all the same reasons that I rate Darren Hayes. Bright Light Bright Light’s Make Me Believe In Hope is also right up there on my eternal playlist.

Its not just the music. Its not just the lyrics. Its not just his voice. Its not just the emotion. Its all of it, I think, that conjoins to make one powerful whole.

There’s a certain lyric in the song Perfect taken from the 2012 album Secret Codes and Battleships that just floors me every time.

Cause I felt it; it cut deep.
It left a scar in my memory.
But your love was burned into me.

Second song … This is actually a song that I only heard a few months ago, despite it being a little older. I was chatting online to a friend and got talking about films and he recommended one from 2007 called Shelter. As its available on YouTube in its entirety, I checked it out and was sucked in, completely. Part of that was down to the soundtrack, featuring several songs by Shane Mack. One of these, More Than This, is fantastic in its simplicity.

If this is all, if this is all we ever were,
At least I loved enough to hurt,
Enough to hurt.

Final song … This is one that can make me smile or make my guts turn in on themselves. I guess that makes it important, right? Alanis Morissette’s It’s A Bitch To Grow Up appeared on her 2008 album Flavors of Entanglement. 

I feel done, I feel raked over coals
and all that remains is the case
That it’s a bitch to grow up

I’m not entirely sure how the twist actually fits in with today’s assignmet … But, yes, I commit to writing for at least 15 minutes every day outside of blog posts.

Writing 101: (A Room With) A View

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

You walk out into the field – quite a normal, every day pasture with short grass and grasshoppers that cloud into the air as you move your feet – and ahead you can see that the earth just drops away, you can see trees and the other side of a small valley.

Turning to the left, you come to the edge of this cliff and see that once there must have been a path or a stream leading down the side of the ridge and your eye follows the long depression in the ground before it gets lost in the heat-browned vegetation. Sat on top of this part of the ridge is a square stone structure – for you could no longer call it a dwelling. The brambles and scrub have claimed what must have once been a shepherd’s croft. Walls have tumbled and any woodworking has long since rotted away. The lintel stone still stands over the doorway, but even this portal is choked with bramble.

You can slide down the ridge at this point; the sheep and cattle have made a sloping pathway. There are large boulders, like icebergs you are sure, peeking out of the side of the cliff as you descend the short distance. It soon becomes obvious that this is not a site that was visited only by shepherds. In front of you, several concrete pillars mark the site of what can only have been some kind of ancient temple. Roman perhaps. Gallo-roman would be an educated guess, as a very few kilometres to the northeast there lies a site which includes a Gallo-roman bathhouse and villas.

There are no notices to tell you what these pillars make, but the lines and rows spell temple. The temple site itself is set in a kind of natural amphitheatre. The cliff edge and old path or streambed delineate one side, and at the other side of the temple the bank curves around the rest of the semi-circle. At the open end of the depression lies some kind of rocky stream – the sound of falling water seeps out between the oak trees that line the bank.

You walk towards it, wondering if this amphitheatre was once the beach of part of this stream when the climate was wetter and the river ran higher. That must have been a pre-Roman beach, as the temple site was built on the beach itself, albeit high up at the back, so flooding was a problem?

You reach the tree-lined stream, and you are glad that you chose this spot for viewing. Looking up and down the banks, all you can see are trees and shrubs crowded tight against the margins.

Near to your feet lies an old root system, blackened and gnarled with age, slippery and moss-encrusted by the damp conditions. Your eyes take in the other roots that twist into the water from the ancient oaks. But those are not what arrest the eye.

The riverbed itself is the commanding view here, not any bankside vegetation. The mid-summer drop in flow accentuates the fact that the rock here is hard. To say the streambed is strewn with rocks would be wrong. For all intents and purposes, the boulders are the streambed. Giant boulders, some flattened, some characteristically tear-dropped by the water, all huge. The water cascades through them, under them, around them. Slightly to your right there is a pool. You are in no doubt that the dark colour is not caused merely by the lack of direct sunlight. Something tells the primitive part of you that that pool is deep. Perhaps primordially deep, perhaps only hip-deep. But there are depths there that maybe ought not be plumbed.

The higher boulders that escape all but the worst ravages of the winter floods are covered in green moss, growing like baize across the stone. On the lower ones, the moss has turned into black slime, now dry and crinkly in the August heat.

Across the bank, you can see what looks far too regular to be a natural outcropping of stone. You take a second look, perhaps hopping onto a stone or two to garner a closer look. Under the moss and branches of trees – for across the river the woods are still holding strong – there are walls. A hole that can only be a window. Another shepherd’s croft? Unlikely situated so close to the riverbank and in woods. A hunting lodge? Perhaps. Something to do with the ancient castle that once stood at the nearby lake, of which only a tower and part of the moat remain? More than likely. It is said that Le Coeur de Lion stayed at that castle, and held property close by. Is it possible that the famed Lionheart himself spent time here, when this ruin was in its hey-day? It is pleasing to your mind to muse on these possibilities.

You cross the river, using the giant boulders as stepping-stones. You cannot help but feel that, as you near the other shore and the wild and moss-dripping trees, in some way you are leaving behind a world of security and all that is homely and all that you have come to know as ‘real’. Here, on the other shore, perhaps an alternative reality exists alongside, yet separate from, your own.

You scan the surrounding countryside quickly. What is behind that tree? Is there anything behind the walls, waiting to stare out of the window? You are but a visitor in this other realm, the realm of fairies and elves, where fairy tales are not fables but truths, where changelings and goblins cavort freely.

You jump back across the boulders and reach the open shore with ease. You turn back and stare at the walls and at the woods. You feel slightly foolish for turning tail like you did. You know that those creatures don’t exist. You know that. Don’t you?

You turn away and step out from underneath the cover of the trees and back into the sunshine. The temple is in front of you. The path back up to the top of the ridge and the croft to the left of that. You turn sharp left, the path that takes you immediately below the ridge. You can see from here that you chose the right path in coming down. If you had tried to go down the front of the cliff, it would have been near impossible.

You continue along the path. You wonder where it leads. Perhaps another beach? Another dead building? To your right and left tall ferns grow wild, shading out all other weeds and grass. The ferns grow up the side of the ridge and over the top, encroaching onto the pasture.

Ahead of you, the path narrows, the ferns now caressing your bare arms and legs. You thank the deity of your choice that they are not sporing at the moment, as the slightest touch would have sent clouds of carcinogenic microbes into the air. As it is the air is hot and dry, but at least it is not dusty.

The trees that have followed the stream along its course cut sharply in a few hundred feet in front of you. You spy a path through the fern to your right that will lead you back up to the top of the ridge. You decide to take it. Again you are struck by how primeval the landscape looks – boulders, ferns, sharp drops, streams and rivers. As you plough through the fern and up the steep incline, your eyes constantly scan the ground in front of you for snakes. Now is not the time to get bitten by an adder or an asp. DOA are not your three favourite letters when placed together.

Puffing and slightly out of breath you reach the clifftop. You know that, as you heave yourself up the last metre, you have left another world behind you. A world that you entered as soon as you walked around the shepherd’s croft, a world that invited you as you touched the concrete temple marker, a world that welcomed you as you stood at the stream side, a world that scared you as you closed in on the dead building, a world apart from your own.

You make your way back across the high pasture land and back out of the gateway onto the trackway that you came in on. Still, as you glimpse around, that world is not as distinct and separate as you once would have believed. That world is everywhere, existing within, around and through our own.

You were scared, but not rejected. You know that that world would welcome you any time that you entered it again. Some part of your brain asks you if you would ever leave it.

Writing 101: Unlock Your Mind / Free Write

I said I wasn’t going to, but now I am … The next module (?) from Blogging U that aims to promote some better blogging habits and to stretch some writer-y muscles. Each week day between now and the end of June there will be an assignment, and each assignment will come with a ‘twist’ which can be used or ignored as the author sees fit.

Which is all to the good.

You can find out more here at the Daily Post.

The first assignment is a 20 minute free write – whatever it consists of. Stream of consciousness, baby.  The ‘twist’ is a simple one: Publish it.

 

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Getting Back On Track

Currently my blogging schedule is somewhere between …

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… and …

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… so all I’m saying is that I’ll be back on track.

Soon.

Posting Schedule …

I’m (finally) trying to get to grips with some kind of editorial calendar for this blog and A Wiltshire Garden. I think I’m going to do some kind of ‘Ancestor Of The Week’ section on a Friday (purely because that’s when I introduced you all to the hair-styling that was Ernest Cartlidge), with writing update(s) on a … Monday (because that kind of suits TAC as it stands at the moment). Which leaves Wednesday and/or the weekend to update over on AWG, and other days for reblogging/random posts.

How does that grab you?

 

Blogging 201: Day 14 – Events

Before I start on the final assignment, I should like to point out that Day 12 is here and Day 13 didn’t get a look in as it was about advertising, and I’m not in a position to pay for that kind of thing. So … Day 14:

Create a recurring blogging event on your site, and/or make plans to attend a blogging conference.

Now, I’ve taken part in a few blogging challenges in my time, and am currently a member of Foodie Penpals, so there’s nothing new there for me. I have often thought of running some kind of event – either literary or genealogical in nature – and then I realised that I’ve done this before.

I was a member of deviantArt for many years, which was great fun for a while but then wasn’t so much any more, but whilst I was there and it was fun I ran something called The 12 x 12 Challenge (at least one person reading this should be chuckling to himself right now) so perhaps that can be picked up and dusted off at some point this year.

I also love the idea of having some kind of Wiltshire Bloggers Conference. But I’ll need to have a think about that. A quick Google has shown that there are no events like that in any of the directories I’ve seen, and it’d take a bit of organising and marketing but possibly do-able …

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Just continuing my use of Futurama-based meme type things

What Do You Want From Me?

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