dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 17. Who was the last person you kissed? (If you are still with them now, pick the person before them.) What would they say if they saw you now?

The last person I kissed was my boyfriend M (and that was too long ago!), so I guess that doesn't count for the purposes of this question. The person before that was my ex-boyfriend Alex, and if he saw me now, he'd probably say, 'hello, let's talk about music for the next five hours'.

That's right, I'm still friends with my ex (to the extent that I think of him as 'my friend' and not 'my ex', so those words feel weird to write), as I am with all but one of my exes. I stay in contact with them to various degrees, and it doesn't seem to cause any problems for anyone. To be honest, the way I see it is there was some common ground, whether that was interests or personalities or simply shared history that drew us together in the first place, and that doesn't go away when the relationship ends. That's the way I handle the end of relationships, and it works for me, although I recognise that it doesn't work for everyone, and there are often very good reasons why contact with your ex is the last thing you'd want (that's why I'm in contact with six of my exes but not the other one - yes, I have seven exes like Ramona Flowers, but none of them are evil). But anyway, that's how it is for me.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 17. Who was the last person you kissed? (If you are still with them now, pick the person before them.) What would they say if they saw you now?

The last person I kissed was my boyfriend M (and that was too long ago!), so I guess that doesn't count for the purposes of this question. The person before that was my ex-boyfriend Alex, and if he saw me now, he'd probably say, 'hello, let's talk about music for the next five hours'.

That's right, I'm still friends with my ex (to the extent that I think of him as 'my friend' and not 'my ex', so those words feel weird to write), as I am with all but one of my exes. I stay in contact with them to various degrees, and it doesn't seem to cause any problems for anyone. To be honest, the way I see it is there was some common ground, whether that was interests or personalities or simply shared history that drew us together in the first place, and that doesn't go away when the relationship ends. That's the way I handle the end of relationships, and it works for me, although I recognise that it doesn't work for everyone, and there are often very good reasons why contact with your ex is the last thing you'd want (that's why I'm in contact with six of my exes but not the other one - yes, I have seven exes like Ramona Flowers, but none of them are evil). But anyway, that's how it is for me.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 16. What are you passionate about?
Ní hannsa. Education. I believe it is a basic human right on the level of access to clean water, adequate food, shelter, healthcare, safety and equality before the law. I don't mean merely formal education, although it makes me sad beyond measure when I hear about people receiving a sub-par formal education (under whatever school system). But there's also education to be had in all aspects of life, and in most cases, more knowledge is better than less. I am very grateful to have grown up in circumstances in which access to decent education was easy, and with parents who valued education and always encouraged our inquisitiveness and intellectual growth.

the other days )

I think it's clear that I won't finish this by the end of November, but I will still answer each question.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 16. What are you passionate about?
Ní hannsa. Education. I believe it is a basic human right on the level of access to clean water, adequate food, shelter, healthcare, safety and equality before the law. I don't mean merely formal education, although it makes me sad beyond measure when I hear about people receiving a sub-par formal education (under whatever school system). But there's also education to be had in all aspects of life, and in most cases, more knowledge is better than less. I am very grateful to have grown up in circumstances in which access to decent education was easy, and with parents who valued education and always encouraged our inquisitiveness and intellectual growth.

the other days )

I think it's clear that I won't finish this by the end of November, but I will still answer each question.
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 15. What do you believe in? And not just God or atheism.
Seriously, if I could sum up what I believed in, I would just point people to this song. That says it all in words better than I can manage. However, I shall attempt it here.

I am an atheist. I think I have always been an atheist, although I went through a period when I was about 15-20 of desperately trying to give myself faith (mostly this consisted of studying various religions obsessively) because I thought I needed it. What I realised was that what I really needed was rituals and a sense of community, and that you can have them without the belief in God (which was always where I fell down in my quest for religion; I couldn't make myself believe).

Above all things, I believe in words and people. That is, I believe human consciousness is a wonderful, beautiful and terrifying thing, and that words are the most perfect expression of that consciousness. When I think about what a tiny accident it was that this universe exists, that this galaxy, this solar system, this planet, this combination of circumstances that produced conscious beings exist, I'm almost overwhelmed. I find our smallness, the slender thread of luck that caused us to exist and be conscious both beautiful and terrifying.

I believe that this life is all there is, and that it is essential to live it in the way that feels right to you. For me that means gulping down experiences, feeling the full range of human emotions, and thinking about everything so much it makes my head hurt. I want to look back on my life and know that I lived, I loved, and I was loved.

My beliefs are not a comfortable or comforting thing. I find my comfort in words, and the stories they tell me, and in people and the places they take me and the person they make me.

the other days )

I will attempt to catch up, but we'll see if I make it to Day 30 by the end of the month.
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 15. What do you believe in? And not just God or atheism.
Seriously, if I could sum up what I believed in, I would just point people to this song. That says it all in words better than I can manage. However, I shall attempt it here.

I am an atheist. I think I have always been an atheist, although I went through a period when I was about 15-20 of desperately trying to give myself faith (mostly this consisted of studying various religions obsessively) because I thought I needed it. What I realised was that what I really needed was rituals and a sense of community, and that you can have them without the belief in God (which was always where I fell down in my quest for religion; I couldn't make myself believe).

Above all things, I believe in words and people. That is, I believe human consciousness is a wonderful, beautiful and terrifying thing, and that words are the most perfect expression of that consciousness. When I think about what a tiny accident it was that this universe exists, that this galaxy, this solar system, this planet, this combination of circumstances that produced conscious beings exist, I'm almost overwhelmed. I find our smallness, the slender thread of luck that caused us to exist and be conscious both beautiful and terrifying.

I believe that this life is all there is, and that it is essential to live it in the way that feels right to you. For me that means gulping down experiences, feeling the full range of human emotions, and thinking about everything so much it makes my head hurt. I want to look back on my life and know that I lived, I loved, and I was loved.

My beliefs are not a comfortable or comforting thing. I find my comfort in words, and the stories they tell me, and in people and the places they take me and the person they make me.

the other days )

I will attempt to catch up, but we'll see if I make it to Day 30 by the end of the month.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 14. When you are stressed, what can you use as an outlet? Why do you think it helps you?
As usual, I missed a day. Yesterday was extremely busy. I had a meeting with my supervisor, which of course resulted in her telling me to read a thousand books and articles, and then we had the grad seminar, and then drinks, so no blogging.

I have a lot of techniques for dealing with stress. My three best methods are to go running, to sit in a cafe and slowly drink a cup of coffee, or to talk to certain people (M and [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia are usually good for this) who I know will calm me down. If, for whatever reason, none of these options are possible, I try to do other things that are similar: cleaning or walking, which are physical activity in the same way that running is, cooking, which just makes me happy, or reading certain 'comfort books' (the Pagan Chronicles series is my go-to choice for this).

Making lists also helps, especially if I can cross things off them as I make them. Usually I get stressed or tense because I'm very busy, or I feel like my life is getting a bit chaotic, so anything that makes order out of chaos helps to make me feel better.

The one thing that doesn't work, which seems to work for a lot of people, is listening to music. I tend to feel all emotions extremely strongly, and music affects me really heavily. Adding it to the mix when I'm really stressed out tends to intensify my feelings and exacerbate the problem. I am incapable of listening to music neutrally. Every song has an association or a specific meaning to me, and so it's very hard to find music that doesn't evoke a painful or at least complicated emotion.
the other days )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 14. When you are stressed, what can you use as an outlet? Why do you think it helps you?
As usual, I missed a day. Yesterday was extremely busy. I had a meeting with my supervisor, which of course resulted in her telling me to read a thousand books and articles, and then we had the grad seminar, and then drinks, so no blogging.

I have a lot of techniques for dealing with stress. My three best methods are to go running, to sit in a cafe and slowly drink a cup of coffee, or to talk to certain people (M and [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia are usually good for this) who I know will calm me down. If, for whatever reason, none of these options are possible, I try to do other things that are similar: cleaning or walking, which are physical activity in the same way that running is, cooking, which just makes me happy, or reading certain 'comfort books' (the Pagan Chronicles series is my go-to choice for this).

Making lists also helps, especially if I can cross things off them as I make them. Usually I get stressed or tense because I'm very busy, or I feel like my life is getting a bit chaotic, so anything that makes order out of chaos helps to make me feel better.

The one thing that doesn't work, which seems to work for a lot of people, is listening to music. I tend to feel all emotions extremely strongly, and music affects me really heavily. Adding it to the mix when I'm really stressed out tends to intensify my feelings and exacerbate the problem. I am incapable of listening to music neutrally. Every song has an association or a specific meaning to me, and so it's very hard to find music that doesn't evoke a painful or at least complicated emotion.
the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 13. Where do you see your best friend in 10 years?
As I mentioned previously, I think the future is so unpredictable, and life is so messy that answering questions like this is almost impossible. That being said, if I had to pick a future for [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia, I'd hope for one very similar to this:

After three very enjoyable years doing undergrad at Bangor, [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia embarks on the next part of her journey: possibly an interesting job, possibly a Masters degree, probably somewhere in the media and communications field. Whatever the case, I hope that she ultimately ends up with a job that she finds entertaining and fulfilling, and that allows her to live where she wants to be living.

I hope that she'll still be a part of my life, especially as we've always had these epic plans for her to be a sort of awesome godmother to any children I might have, like the coolest of cool aunts.

Above all, I hope that she is happy, living life on her own terms, becoming the person she wants to be. That is a future I would want for anyone.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 13. Where do you see your best friend in 10 years?
As I mentioned previously, I think the future is so unpredictable, and life is so messy that answering questions like this is almost impossible. That being said, if I had to pick a future for [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia, I'd hope for one very similar to this:

After three very enjoyable years doing undergrad at Bangor, [livejournal.com profile] thelxiepia embarks on the next part of her journey: possibly an interesting job, possibly a Masters degree, probably somewhere in the media and communications field. Whatever the case, I hope that she ultimately ends up with a job that she finds entertaining and fulfilling, and that allows her to live where she wants to be living.

I hope that she'll still be a part of my life, especially as we've always had these epic plans for her to be a sort of awesome godmother to any children I might have, like the coolest of cool aunts.

Above all, I hope that she is happy, living life on her own terms, becoming the person she wants to be. That is a future I would want for anyone.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 12. If you could trade places with anyone for one week, who would it be and why?
Ooh, this is a really tough questions. Ten years ago, I would've reeled off the name of any one of a hundred fictional characters. But all the fictional characters I admire have such terrible, stressful, dangerous lives! And the real-life people, too.

Then I thought, maybe I could trade places with any one of the number of people I knew who was doing harm to those around them, and attempt to undo the damage they'd done, but a week isn't really enough time to do such a thing, and I think the prospect of actually living the life of one of those people would turn my stomach.

To be honest, the idea of a body-swap terrifies me, because who knows what the other person would be doing with my body while I was gone?

________________________________

In other news, it's my amazing sister Mim's 23rd birthday today. I miss her so much. Facebook chat just isn't the same as being in the same place. But she's where she needs to be and I'm where I need to be, and that's how it is.

She's had a year of a lot of changes. She moved to Melbourne in February and is currently undertaking a Masters degree in media and communications at Monash University, as well as working full-time in a small film production company. I honestly don't know how she does it. If I were as busy as she is, I'd fall over from exhaustion.

So, happy birthday, Mim! I love you so much, and am so happy that you're my sister.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 12. If you could trade places with anyone for one week, who would it be and why?
Ooh, this is a really tough questions. Ten years ago, I would've reeled off the name of any one of a hundred fictional characters. But all the fictional characters I admire have such terrible, stressful, dangerous lives! And the real-life people, too.

Then I thought, maybe I could trade places with any one of the number of people I knew who was doing harm to those around them, and attempt to undo the damage they'd done, but a week isn't really enough time to do such a thing, and I think the prospect of actually living the life of one of those people would turn my stomach.

To be honest, the idea of a body-swap terrifies me, because who knows what the other person would be doing with my body while I was gone?

________________________________

In other news, it's my amazing sister Mim's 23rd birthday today. I miss her so much. Facebook chat just isn't the same as being in the same place. But she's where she needs to be and I'm where I need to be, and that's how it is.

She's had a year of a lot of changes. She moved to Melbourne in February and is currently undertaking a Masters degree in media and communications at Monash University, as well as working full-time in a small film production company. I honestly don't know how she does it. If I were as busy as she is, I'd fall over from exhaustion.

So, happy birthday, Mim! I love you so much, and am so happy that you're my sister.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 11. Do you feel protective over someone?
Was there ever a question designed for me or what? The answer is an emphatic yes. I feel protective over a great number of people. My default mode seems to be 'mother'.

These people range from family members to close or long-term friends to less close friends. I seem to be the person that a lot of my friends come to when they have a problem, when they feel hurt or worried or scared. It's bit of a chicken-egg situation; I'm not sure if this came first or if my mothering personality did.

People bring me their problems for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes they have a plan of attack already, and just want to bounce their ideas off someone else before going ahead and solving whatever problem they're facing. Sometimes they're in a really bad place, bewildered and wanting advice. And sometimes all they want to do is talk or complain and have someone listen. I used to get into difficulties in earlier times because my immediate reaction when someone tells me about a problem is to start suggesting ways to help them. And sometimes they don't want that! I used to get really hurt when people would get angry at me in these situations ('but I'm trying to HELP you!'), before taking a step back and thinking. Then I realised that I used to do exactly the same thing with my mother. I would whine and complain to her about various things, and she'd suggest things I could do to fix them. And then I'd be all, 'but I just want to whine and get sympathy! Why are you giving me advice?'. So I'm clearly modelling my behaviour on hers.

So these days I try better to ascertain what a certain person actually wants when he or she comes to me with problems. If they want suggestions, all well and good. And if they just want to talk, I'll listen.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (una)
Day 11. Do you feel protective over someone?
Was there ever a question designed for me or what? The answer is an emphatic yes. I feel protective over a great number of people. My default mode seems to be 'mother'.

These people range from family members to close or long-term friends to less close friends. I seem to be the person that a lot of my friends come to when they have a problem, when they feel hurt or worried or scared. It's bit of a chicken-egg situation; I'm not sure if this came first or if my mothering personality did.

People bring me their problems for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes they have a plan of attack already, and just want to bounce their ideas off someone else before going ahead and solving whatever problem they're facing. Sometimes they're in a really bad place, bewildered and wanting advice. And sometimes all they want to do is talk or complain and have someone listen. I used to get into difficulties in earlier times because my immediate reaction when someone tells me about a problem is to start suggesting ways to help them. And sometimes they don't want that! I used to get really hurt when people would get angry at me in these situations ('but I'm trying to HELP you!'), before taking a step back and thinking. Then I realised that I used to do exactly the same thing with my mother. I would whine and complain to her about various things, and she'd suggest things I could do to fix them. And then I'd be all, 'but I just want to whine and get sympathy! Why are you giving me advice?'. So I'm clearly modelling my behaviour on hers.

So these days I try better to ascertain what a certain person actually wants when he or she comes to me with problems. If they want suggestions, all well and good. And if they just want to talk, I'll listen.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 10. Did you have a good day or a bad day? Where do you think that defining line was?
Note: I'm answering this for yesterday, as I would've posted this then, had our internet not died.

Yesterday was a very good day. My German class sailed by very quickly. I didn't look at my watch once, and suddenly it was 12.30. It might've helped that we spent at least half an hour playing Tabu!

I had sent off some work from my thesis to my supervisor on Wednesday, so I didn't have any PhD work to do, so I got my homework done fairly quickly, and mostly understood it (aside from one thing, which I spent way too long trying to get M to explain to me via Facebook chat).

I had a quiet evening at home, chatting with M on Facebook and internetting before going to bed.

With me, there are no defining lines. I am all about extremes. I either have a day so wonderful that I'm dancing around the kitchen, or I have such a terrible day that I'm crawling into bed at 3pm and staring at the ceiling for five hours. And a bad day can come straight after a good one. My mood swings are that severe and abrupt.

Although sometimes the bad days seem to happen for no reason other than some sort of chemical reaction, there is a pattern that I've recognised. Basically, if I feel like I've wasted my time, I am disgusted with myself and consider the day to have been bad. So, to take yesterday as an example, if I hadn't understood my German homework, or left it until the morning before class, if I'd had PhD work to do but ignored it, if I'd tried to talk to M but the internet connection had prevented it, I would consider myself to have wasted my time. And I wouldn't have been happy about it.

Of course, the fact that I'm going to Cambridge on Saturday is doing wonders to improve my mood.
the other days )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 10. Did you have a good day or a bad day? Where do you think that defining line was?
Note: I'm answering this for yesterday, as I would've posted this then, had our internet not died.

Yesterday was a very good day. My German class sailed by very quickly. I didn't look at my watch once, and suddenly it was 12.30. It might've helped that we spent at least half an hour playing Tabu!

I had sent off some work from my thesis to my supervisor on Wednesday, so I didn't have any PhD work to do, so I got my homework done fairly quickly, and mostly understood it (aside from one thing, which I spent way too long trying to get M to explain to me via Facebook chat).

I had a quiet evening at home, chatting with M on Facebook and internetting before going to bed.

With me, there are no defining lines. I am all about extremes. I either have a day so wonderful that I'm dancing around the kitchen, or I have such a terrible day that I'm crawling into bed at 3pm and staring at the ceiling for five hours. And a bad day can come straight after a good one. My mood swings are that severe and abrupt.

Although sometimes the bad days seem to happen for no reason other than some sort of chemical reaction, there is a pattern that I've recognised. Basically, if I feel like I've wasted my time, I am disgusted with myself and consider the day to have been bad. So, to take yesterday as an example, if I hadn't understood my German homework, or left it until the morning before class, if I'd had PhD work to do but ignored it, if I'd tried to talk to M but the internet connection had prevented it, I would consider myself to have wasted my time. And I wouldn't have been happy about it.

Of course, the fact that I'm going to Cambridge on Saturday is doing wonders to improve my mood.
the other days )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
...and the truth is that I'd probably do it again.

Day 9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Okay, so in ten years, it will be 2021, not 2020, but in case you haven't noticed, I've been using song lyrics for all the titles here, and these, from '2020' by The Herd perfectly sum up my attitude towards questions such as these.

The answer is, in ten years, I have no idea where I'll be. I know where I'd like to be (working as an academic or librarian, hopefully still with M, hopefully still in Britain or Ireland, hopefully with a couple of children, hopefully happy with my life), but my life up to this point has so successfully confounded my expectations that I know how twisty and turny and unexpected everything can be. For example, ten years ago, when I was sixteen, I had a Life Plan. This is how I expected my life to unfold:

16-18: Be in a relationship with Serious Highschool Boyfriend.
18: Have heart broken by Serious Highschool Boyfriend, resulting in trust issues and a reluctance to form relationships.
18-22: Go to university and study Arts (humanities), with honours in English literature.
19: Meet Serious University Boyfriend, whose sheer awesomeness would cure all my trust issues.
22: Begin working as a journalist at an Australian newspaper.
23: Get married to Serious University Boyfriend.
25: Have first child.

This, instead, is what happened:

16-20: Have Epic, Unrequited Crush on Unattainable Guy. Have several short-term relationships in an attempt to extricate self from said Unrequited Crush.
18-22: Go to university and study Arts, with honours in English literature.
18-present: Work as a book-reviewer for an Australian newspaper.
22-23: Have a miserable time working as a sub-editor for an Australian newspaper. Another relationship that never got off the ground.
23-24: MPhil in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. Disastrous short-term relationship which ended in such unspeakable horror that I was in counselling for a year about it.
24-present: PhD in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. Short-term relationship with a friend of mine that ended due to problems that were too great for either of us to fix.
25-present: Relationship with the rather wonderful M.
26: Currently studying on exchange at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

So yeah, my Life Plan was naïve, and the product of the books I read as a teenager, but what strikes me most about it is how neat it is. And how messy is what really happened in comparison. Aside from studying Arts with honours in English literature, nothing on either list matches! And the Life Plan is so linear, with each step flowing on from the one preceding, whereas my real life was full of stops and starts and u-turns.

And yes, some people might look at my life over the past ten years and see mistakes, but all I see is my life, joy and pain and all. They may be mistakes, but they're my mistakes, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

And I really have no idea what my life will look like in ten years.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
...and the truth is that I'd probably do it again.

Day 9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Okay, so in ten years, it will be 2021, not 2020, but in case you haven't noticed, I've been using song lyrics for all the titles here, and these, from '2020' by The Herd perfectly sum up my attitude towards questions such as these.

The answer is, in ten years, I have no idea where I'll be. I know where I'd like to be (working as an academic or librarian, hopefully still with M, hopefully still in Britain or Ireland, hopefully with a couple of children, hopefully happy with my life), but my life up to this point has so successfully confounded my expectations that I know how twisty and turny and unexpected everything can be. For example, ten years ago, when I was sixteen, I had a Life Plan. This is how I expected my life to unfold:

16-18: Be in a relationship with Serious Highschool Boyfriend.
18: Have heart broken by Serious Highschool Boyfriend, resulting in trust issues and a reluctance to form relationships.
18-22: Go to university and study Arts (humanities), with honours in English literature.
19: Meet Serious University Boyfriend, whose sheer awesomeness would cure all my trust issues.
22: Begin working as a journalist at an Australian newspaper.
23: Get married to Serious University Boyfriend.
25: Have first child.

This, instead, is what happened:

16-20: Have Epic, Unrequited Crush on Unattainable Guy. Have several short-term relationships in an attempt to extricate self from said Unrequited Crush.
18-22: Go to university and study Arts, with honours in English literature.
18-present: Work as a book-reviewer for an Australian newspaper.
22-23: Have a miserable time working as a sub-editor for an Australian newspaper. Another relationship that never got off the ground.
23-24: MPhil in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. Disastrous short-term relationship which ended in such unspeakable horror that I was in counselling for a year about it.
24-present: PhD in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at the University of Cambridge. Short-term relationship with a friend of mine that ended due to problems that were too great for either of us to fix.
25-present: Relationship with the rather wonderful M.
26: Currently studying on exchange at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

So yeah, my Life Plan was naïve, and the product of the books I read as a teenager, but what strikes me most about it is how neat it is. And how messy is what really happened in comparison. Aside from studying Arts with honours in English literature, nothing on either list matches! And the Life Plan is so linear, with each step flowing on from the one preceding, whereas my real life was full of stops and starts and u-turns.

And yes, some people might look at my life over the past ten years and see mistakes, but all I see is my life, joy and pain and all. They may be mistakes, but they're my mistakes, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

And I really have no idea what my life will look like in ten years.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 8. Write about the first moment that comes to your head when you read the words “childhood memory”.
My earliest childhood memory is kind of nondescript. I was standing in the little front garden of our house in Sydney, where we lived when I was two, waiting for my mum to come out of the house (and presumably take me into the car). The sun was shining. The door slammed. That is the entire memory. I was two years old.

From the age of three onwards, I can remember things much more vividly, and in great detail. Off the top of my head, my favourite childhood memories are:

The feeling of everything suddenly clicking when I learnt to read. I've said before that it was like a thunderclap in my head. It was an amazing feeling.

Various family holidays down the South Coast at Broulee. We went every summer for the week before Christmas, which always included my birthday. Looking back, what I loved about it was the regularity and predictability of it. I, a child raised without religion, never craved religious belief, but was hungry for routines and rituals, and I replaced those of religious ceremonies with yearly, more secular pilgrimages: mornings spent swimming for hours in the smaller bay, exploring the rockpools, and watching the tide slowly go out; going home and being fed piles of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and fresh mangoes; being read folk stories by my mother in the heat of the early afternoon; the annual walk around the almost-island, where, inevitably, my sister would complain and have to be carried; the birthday celebrations which always involved a handful of 5-cent red frogs and chocolate frogs from the convenience store; making up plays with the other kids (our production of The Little Mermaid, with nine-year-old (male) D as Ursula, dressed in a sarong with a nightdress over his head, was seriously awesome); the walk out to the anchor on the last night of the trip, armed with a one-off ice-cream each (our families rarely allowed us to eat any kind of junk food or sweets, so an ice-cream was a huge deal).

For the same reason, family Christmases, which were always an entirely secular affair, but yet always had predictable rhythms of rituals. Last year was our first Christmas not spent at our grandparents' old house, and I felt its absence keenly.

The day I finally learnt how to do a backflip. Pretty much every training session at gym, actually. I intensely miss the feeling of being completely in tune with my body, of being aware of its abilities and limitations, of my own physics. I've never found a sport I've enjoyed as much.

Then again I can intensely remember the day I realised the people I called my 'friends' in primary school were not, in fact, my friends at all. Not all childhood memories are positive. Those I'm collecting here are the most vivid, those with the most intensity of emotion.

Similarly, the first day of Year Four, when my 'friend' told me, when I produced the doll that I'd brought to school every day for the past two years for our games, that 'we are nine now, and nine is too old to be playing with dolls', and I couldn't understand why we had suddenly grown up when I felt no different to how I'd been at eight years old. I still played with dolls until I was 13 or 14 though.

I remember the day my sister was born. The night before, my mother and I had spent the evening making cupcakes, fairy bread, chocolate crackles and all the other staples of an Australian birthday party, in preparation for the family party we'd be having (in my family, we celebrated the November and December births en masse in mid-November). The next day, Mum went into labour and we ended up eating all the food in the hospital. When we did have the party, several weeks later, my sister slept through the entire thing. This reflects her personality greatly.

I remember what it felt like to read so many books that it's impossible to name them here. It was as if someone had looked into my brain and taken my words and articulated them in ways I was not yet able to do myself. For years (even now, to a certain extent), I felt that if I just offered up particular stories, people would see me, get me, understand everthing that I was about. I remember what it felt like to finally meet people who felt the same way, but that was not a memory of childhood.

I remember feeling loved, and I remember feeling unwanted, and I remember feeling secure and I remember feeling betrayed, and I remember that I felt things with an urgent intensity, as if every day, every emotion was essential to my life and identity, and while I still think I feel things more intensely than some adults, it is still less than when I was a child or teenager. And sometimes I miss that, but mostly I think it must've been exhausting.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 8. Write about the first moment that comes to your head when you read the words “childhood memory”.
My earliest childhood memory is kind of nondescript. I was standing in the little front garden of our house in Sydney, where we lived when I was two, waiting for my mum to come out of the house (and presumably take me into the car). The sun was shining. The door slammed. That is the entire memory. I was two years old.

From the age of three onwards, I can remember things much more vividly, and in great detail. Off the top of my head, my favourite childhood memories are:

The feeling of everything suddenly clicking when I learnt to read. I've said before that it was like a thunderclap in my head. It was an amazing feeling.

Various family holidays down the South Coast at Broulee. We went every summer for the week before Christmas, which always included my birthday. Looking back, what I loved about it was the regularity and predictability of it. I, a child raised without religion, never craved religious belief, but was hungry for routines and rituals, and I replaced those of religious ceremonies with yearly, more secular pilgrimages: mornings spent swimming for hours in the smaller bay, exploring the rockpools, and watching the tide slowly go out; going home and being fed piles of toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches and fresh mangoes; being read folk stories by my mother in the heat of the early afternoon; the annual walk around the almost-island, where, inevitably, my sister would complain and have to be carried; the birthday celebrations which always involved a handful of 5-cent red frogs and chocolate frogs from the convenience store; making up plays with the other kids (our production of The Little Mermaid, with nine-year-old (male) D as Ursula, dressed in a sarong with a nightdress over his head, was seriously awesome); the walk out to the anchor on the last night of the trip, armed with a one-off ice-cream each (our families rarely allowed us to eat any kind of junk food or sweets, so an ice-cream was a huge deal).

For the same reason, family Christmases, which were always an entirely secular affair, but yet always had predictable rhythms of rituals. Last year was our first Christmas not spent at our grandparents' old house, and I felt its absence keenly.

The day I finally learnt how to do a backflip. Pretty much every training session at gym, actually. I intensely miss the feeling of being completely in tune with my body, of being aware of its abilities and limitations, of my own physics. I've never found a sport I've enjoyed as much.

Then again I can intensely remember the day I realised the people I called my 'friends' in primary school were not, in fact, my friends at all. Not all childhood memories are positive. Those I'm collecting here are the most vivid, those with the most intensity of emotion.

Similarly, the first day of Year Four, when my 'friend' told me, when I produced the doll that I'd brought to school every day for the past two years for our games, that 'we are nine now, and nine is too old to be playing with dolls', and I couldn't understand why we had suddenly grown up when I felt no different to how I'd been at eight years old. I still played with dolls until I was 13 or 14 though.

I remember the day my sister was born. The night before, my mother and I had spent the evening making cupcakes, fairy bread, chocolate crackles and all the other staples of an Australian birthday party, in preparation for the family party we'd be having (in my family, we celebrated the November and December births en masse in mid-November). The next day, Mum went into labour and we ended up eating all the food in the hospital. When we did have the party, several weeks later, my sister slept through the entire thing. This reflects her personality greatly.

I remember what it felt like to read so many books that it's impossible to name them here. It was as if someone had looked into my brain and taken my words and articulated them in ways I was not yet able to do myself. For years (even now, to a certain extent), I felt that if I just offered up particular stories, people would see me, get me, understand everthing that I was about. I remember what it felt like to finally meet people who felt the same way, but that was not a memory of childhood.

I remember feeling loved, and I remember feeling unwanted, and I remember feeling secure and I remember feeling betrayed, and I remember that I felt things with an urgent intensity, as if every day, every emotion was essential to my life and identity, and while I still think I feel things more intensely than some adults, it is still less than when I was a child or teenager. And sometimes I miss that, but mostly I think it must've been exhausting.

the other days )

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