Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas Eve, 2012

I’d ignored the blinking red light all day imagining that it was a Christmas offer of a loan, or a missed doctor’s appointment for the tenant before me or unwanted car insurance for a vehicle I didn’t own.
Finally I played it “Jo, please call me, it’s serious. Call me whenever you get this, whatever time of night you get it.” From my mum. 

That sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach, that wild racing of the heart and mind imaging every possible scenario as you fumble to dial digits, cursing yourself for not responding to the warning light earlier.

“Are you sitting down?” Why do people ask that? Do they really bad news is more bearable seated than standing? Perhaps it is. 

It was the death of a friend. A friend who’d been tormented for years by mental demons that persisted and no one could cure. A friend who’d suffered more than anyone should, with physical manifestations of her pained mind, endless operations to fix, mend and remend what the previous surgery had been meant to cure. On December 23rd, she’d finally ended it. All of it. Forever. 

How do we react to grief and loss? Numbness, tears, disbelief, frustration and perhaps in part, a sense of relief that the call we’d been expecting for so many years, had finally come. No more waiting. No more nervous intrepidation.

A blinding headache, sensory overload, memories and flashbacks of teenage exploits, late night chats, consoling calls and encouraging words to say that life could be good, that things would change, that things would improve, that magic and wonder and excitement and success would once again appear.

This Christmas day I spent in service at a Homeless Shelter. I was probably rewarded more than the people I went to see. I met Willis, a mid 50s tall good looking gay black man. We played checkers. Then we got to talking.

Willis had lived in 20 odd countries; he’d been a male model, a teacher, an HR manager, a Buddhist, a traveler, an explorer. Willis made me laugh. We talked about Gestalt therapy, Buddhism, life, death, being free, going to the edge of life and back again.

He introduced me to “Madame loneliness - he keeps her in his back pocket” and doesn’t let her get too large as he cackled “She told me, sometimes ya know Willis – you make me too big, you give me too much importance, I travel with you and I help you too – keep me in the pocket and know I am here for you, I am your friend.”

Willis told me he lives in gratitude. He loves DC as it challenges him. He is on the up.

This Christmas has taken me down and brought me up. It’s been tough, painful and enlightening. 

For that, I too give thanks.

Monday 12 November 2012

American optimism

One thing I love about America is its optimism and general 'can do' attitude. Nothing particularly triggered this but is an observation I've made. Friends have made commented that the blog is a tad negative.

When I first arrived, I felt that saying 'awesome' for things I felt were merely ok, or good was over the top. Now I am a convert. It's a feel good word. It expresses a sense of comraderie, appreciation and if it makes me giggle that I can do something mundane and someone writes back 'awesome' - then hell yeah - why not.

I guess it doesn't have to be reserved for the second coming of Christ which in its true sense - may inspire awe - but perhaps we all can, so yeah -read on, it's awesome.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Street conversation

Downtown DC. An old black man starts talking to me as I head to Macy's (one day sale - who can resist.) I decided to try and write it up as it was the most brilliant example of a soliquey I've heard in a long time.

"They find the bodies, you know. Frozen. That's why I don't drink. When you drink, it keeps you warm but when you body temperature drops to 17 degrees, you freeze. It opens you up. No resistance."


"That's why they have the trucks in New York and DC. The thing is...people that are sleeping go hide. And sometimes they die. And then nobody, nobody finds them. For a long time. But they're dead. No question. And when they find them, they take them away."

Sad, eloquent and lost but probably true.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Obama wins!

Love this. Love the fact that a good man, with a fine heart, was elected by a country that has, let's be honest, had lapses in judgement in the past! Fun to be living in DC  - the most political city in the world on November 6th, 2012.

Monday 5 November 2012

Aha - creativity returns

For some us, writing and being creative is a sign of healthy emotional balance. I couldn't write for a long time, I had nothing of interest to say, was drained, tired, 'over it all.' But thanks to improvisation classes, finding some new artsy friends, going to have more 'artist dates' with myself, the Bard has returned - whoohooo! And, now I have nothing to say except all this time in, I still sound very English, I still say 'knickers and pants interchangably' and not 'underwear' and trousers for 'pants' -wow that gets confusing. I am midst a love-hate relationship with DC  - like all cities and oh -wait up IT'S AN ELECTION tomorrow. What a time to be here. Let's hope they choose right.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Observations of language

'My bad', My bad what???? No - this is a way to say sorry. ie my bad behaviour. My screw up. Shorthand. Odd. I get a lot of emails. "Sorry, my bad." Last time I looked - bad was an adjective - not a noun but who am I to quibble? I feel. Americans FEEL a lot. Brits THINK. They feel it is a good bottle of wine. They feel that something is a good idea. Now I am not convinced that thinking is better than feeling. Normally I am a proponent of feelings but ...it also makes me laugh. This is the country that 'feels' that climate change doesn't exist and 'feels' that America is the be all and end all. Perhaps a little more thinking would be useful?

Wednesday 18 January 2012


I hate CVS - there I've said it. The horrible antiseptic, cheap, plastic, artifical small assaults my nostrils and I tend to frequent my local CVS at night because it's open. And there are the outcasts, the down and outs, the blacks of the city, disenfranchised, buying junk food, cheap drink, cigarettes, a few of us buying washing powder or something utilitarian. It is no English Boots - I miss UK chemists. This is all about need. Drugs, medicine but to me it reeks of loneliness.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Yoga peeves

Ah...the practice of yoga, my balm, my saviour, my irritant, my sometimes reduce to mirth or tears... In DC - at a particular class of rocket yoga -don't ask - but yes, it is all very energetic and adrenalin fuelled - my handsome gay teacher took particular pains to ignore me. However, one glance around and he is sitting, yes, sitting on another handsome man's bottom - doing a tete a tete or bottom to bottom downward dog. Seriously? Am delighted they are getting some joy and a good stretch but slightly dumpy girls need some leverage and attention too at times!