... but not close enough.

Oh, I heard lovely things said about me: committed, knowlegeable, enthusiastic, great rapport with students, humorous, laid-back, versatile, positive, impressive, forward-thinking...

- But somehow, when someone speaks on the phone and you hear the flat tone and downward inflection in their voice, the slight tightness in their throat, you know before they've even got past "hello" that the news isn't good.

It was close...
Someone else was more experienced...
You interviewed well, but...
Wouldn't want you to think that...
Blah blah blah.

So, I'm still looking for a job.


Milky milky...

Ambling down Leith Walk at three in the morning, the sun beginning to rise- a warm orange and rose glow behind me-painting the city and fading the black silhouettes back to familiar stone and glass.

Drunk clubbers and partygoers bouncing off the walls and weaving with stark concentration across the pavement.

Focusing on my feet, hearing the rhythmic thud as I take the city in my stride.

Seagulls swooping and landing in the middle of the empty road, snatching scraps and wheeling away.

Two lads pushing a Wiseman's Milk display fridge past Shrubhill House...

Beyond be- Litha (a passing thought and a crow-barred pun)

Litha- or summer solstice - used to be big news. "New Age Travellers" and "hippies" (media-style reductive titles of the laziest kind) would be harried and hounded by media and police alike as they attempted to celebrate in amongst the stones of Stonehenge.

In recent years, solstice has passed by with barely a mention. This year the BBC (ta for the picture, Auntie Beeb) has a few sunrise shots and the obligatory "nothing happened" news story, but that's it. It's almost an afterthought...

I'm not sure I have anything of profound interest to add to this. Just, well, it used to seem like the end of the earth if a few people had a bit of a party in amongst an ancient mystic site, and now it's just a bit of light-relief paganism and a "ooh, isn't it pretty" moment. Have we lost something or gained something by this? I'm really not sure...

Anyhow, I hope those who watched the sunrise felt something primal and spiritual stir inside them - growth and renewal and an acknowledgement of the balance of the year, a pivotal time, perhaps. As for the rest of us, I hope we feel it too, sometime. Maybe watching a sunrise or sunset or maybe just walking in the wind, sun or rain - something elemental anyway.

As the sun spirals its longest dance,
Cleanse us
As nature shows bounty and fertility
Bless us
Let all things live with loving intent
And to fulfill their truest destiny

Sharks and Letters

had a shark dream last night. I say that as though it is normal... Oh yes, an everyday occurence. Everyone dreams of sharks, don't they?

This shark was sitting at the kitchen table. I could see its sharky teeth. I wasn't too threatened but I was uneasy. It wanted to talk to me, but I was ignoring it, drinking tea and even in a dream wondering how a shark could live out of water...

The dream jumped to The Kennel: I was in bed hugging the shark, holding on to its grey sharkskin, making room for its dorsal fin... The flat filled with water - which I could breathe, oddly enough - and the shark swam away. I was relieved but still felt a sense of something being missing.

A simple explanation would be that I am both ignoring and holding on to fears and worries -probably about domestic life and my current situation and sex/intimacy: let's face it they are fairly current and easily explicable concerns- and should let them go.

- Of course, it could just be that I am secretly a big fan of Damien Hirst...

Oh yes. And I am considered writing a letter to my father. We haven't spoken for five years, maybe. It's complicated and not something I choose to blog about right now. Maybe some other time. It isn't pretty, of course - being consistently angry for four or five years would lend itself to the interpretation that maybe it wouldn't be - however I tend to send a card on his birthday and at Christmas time. Habit? Guilt? Some residual love? All of the above, probably. It was his birthday Monday, and I didn't get round to it this year. So much going on, so much more to think about. I should still let him know I am alive, I suppose and what is going on in my life. I don't owe him an explanation: he owes me a great deal, perhaps. I'm still not sure. I'm not even sure where to start... but a letter might not be a bad place.


Saint Claire 37 Wanks Across Northern SpainI've always liked ceramics. I think primary school has a lot to do with it: I loved play-doh, plasticine, that hairy, pallid non-clay stuff, - and then real clay that could be fired in a kiln, glazed and everything. It was sensual creativity, moulding and forming shapes in three dimensions. It almost didn't matter the shape as long as it felt good, or felt bad (if that's what was wanted...) I might have to get some modelling clay again, fimo, anything - I feel the need to get my hands working again, feel clay under my nails, make some shapes...

Yesterday I saw some Grayson Perry vases at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art. Of all the exhibits, they are the ones that have stuck in my head(although the glass trampoline must get an honourable mention...)

It seems cruel (albeit understandable) that people aren't allowed to feel the shape of the vase and the texture of the glaze - they are very "traditional" shaped pots, essentially, but the decoration transforms them to something far beyond their simple form.

I don't think I "understand" them. I do know that they made me feel and think. Some were beautiful, elegant, light almost - others ugly, brooding and anguished - but all were provocative in some way, challenging the person viewing them to either create a narrative from the depictions or to hunt allusions, find associations, look for conflicts and dissonance in the image, form and colours.

I probably didn't spend enough time looking at them, but they are shouting for attention in my head - I may have to return.

Somewhat more mundanely (albeit quite exciting/anxiety making for me) I have a couple of interviews today. *gulp* Better get myself looking and sounding responsible and respectable - exercise the other dimensions of my character...

Hard, I know, but I must try!

Lack of wisdom...

erythrocytes. oh yes.I had another wisdom tooth removed this morning. My dentist was as gentle as her profession will allow, however her muscular wrists struggled with my recalcitrant roots and my lip got pinched in the struggle...
"Ouch!" I thought - nothing more than ouch, though...

Several hours later my lip is Elvisly puffy (I'm icing it as I type... it would appear to be working...) and the sad gap where my tooth used to live is still bleeding. As the anaesthetic wears off, the vampiric taste of blood is becoming a little overwhelming. I am also hungry enough to eat sauerkraut and be grateful for it - but I still can't feel my tongue and lip properly so I'm not risking food just yet, until I'm sure that whatever I'm eating isn't my own tongue...

I'm having another damn wisdom tooth out on Tuesday - who thought that was a good idea?


... as in Bull-Poo(not Piper...)!

I am full of it. I'm starting to lose track of the job application forms I have been filling in. My description of my skills are starting to merge into one great big "I am brilliant at absolutely everything - just employ me you bastards" sort of statement.

While I write it, I totally believe it, too.... why couldn't I be a world class recruitment consultant with OTE of £50k and all the lobster I could eat? (apart from not having a clue and not really wanting to, of course...) Or project manage 7 trained chimps in searching for Atlantis from a panopticon in the middle of the Aegean? (apart from it not existing... and maybe even if it did, chimps wank too much to get any work done! Honestly, they do!)


I know that given the right opportunity, I could make a real difference. I'm not stupid, I'm not crass and insensitive (not all the time, anyway...) I'm not a sheep - I can think for myself, thank you very much. OK, so I can be a bit of a waverer, but when it comes to decisions affecting others, I can be sharp as broken glass. There's a world of possibility and opportunity - just let me get on with grabbing it with both hands, please - so I can cut out all the application form bullshit and actually get on and do something.

(-today's blogpost has been brought to you by the letter "B" and the word "feisty").

Doctor, doctor...

No, not a joke, far from it.

So, I tell my doctor everything. Every last detail - relationship breakdown, shock redundancy, hopelessly inappropriate blurry boundaried love-type heartache, impending oral surgery, fear of same, historic suppressed grief and annual May meltdown, fruitless flathunting, flip-flopping moods, drenching night sweats, gritty jobhunting efforts, lack of money, fear of the homeless trap -the works... A real two kleenex effort of divulging my inner demons and pains...

-Her advice?

-Don't look for a job right now, and don't look for a place to stay either: stay where you are and keep taking the tablets (unless you are feeling suicidal... are you?No? Well, keep taking the tablets then....) Have I considered paying for some counselling? I should... It might, but only might, make me feel a bit better. Not much possibly, but a bit...

I could scream. I try to explain that she is asking for something nigh on impossible; staying still and doing nothing will not help one bit - I get accused of not wanting to help myself and of being obstructive. Ah yes - trying to find a place to stay and means to support myself without having to eat out of bins and sleep in a doorway is not wanting to help myself. Of course! Why didn't I see it before...

She reiterates her point in simpler words, for the hard of understanding...

I nod, grab my prescription and leave, grinding my (loose) teeth...

I wonder if she has even the faintest clue of how fucking stupid her advice seems? How condescending, how dangerous, even? I could weep - but I've done enough of that already...

Daft question...

-If you've never actually been "dundant" before, can you be "redundant"?

Anyhow... I am, as of now, redundant (well, redundant in the capacity of employment that I have been following for the past couple of years, anyway - I'm sure I have many uses yet...)





Gizza job. Go on. I can do that. Gizzit.


Things move fast...

So. I have a date by which I need to move out. No job and no flat, but a date by which time I will need to be gone. Such is life. One out of three ain't bad...

It concentrates the mind, this lark. One never feels so absurd as when you are being threatened with a Dyson. I tell you, I've rarely thought so clearly (and doesn't it take on a whole new meaning to the term "domestic abuse"?) I've had things said to me that are vicious to the point of drawing blood - and I've listened and taken it in. And then I've considered the truth in it all.

Yes - I am responsible in part for this relationship breakdown. Yes - I have developed strong feelings for someone else. Yes - I failed to communicate my hopes and fears, my wants and needs to my supposed partner.

But my supposed partner was unresponsive, controlling and jealous. Simple friendship was considered threatening. Speaking to members of my own family was considered threatening. Anything that was beyond her direct control was to be shunned.

Should I stray -maybe speak to an old school friend on the phone, or go to the pub with work colleagues - I would be met with sulking, a complete withdrawal of communication, an icy absence of affection or understanding - until I apologised, promised never to do it again.

Why did I let this happen? At first I was young and naive - I thought that amount of jealousy must mean that I was loved deeply, that I was valued in some way. Then I simply became afraid of the mood swings, the atmospheres that would be created. Then I became lazy, or maybe just accepting - like a strange form of Stockholm Syndrome - I'm not sure.

After that, we both suffered bereavements - the will to work at and change things ebbed and flowed. My strength, her strength ebbed and flowed. Of course there were good times - things we did and saw together; places we went, things we said and meant; the love and support we gave each other when jealousy was kept at bay. But there was always the bad, the dark and ugly lurking too.

She lied too - about flirtations she had with other women, about who she would see and talk to in those times when we argued and ripped each other apart, or what she would get up to when out drinking with her colleagues and friends. If she cannot see the double standard then she is more self-delusional than I thought.

Our relationship -such as it was- was dead a long time ago. The reasons for not letting go sooner swirl around me like a cloud of angry bees. Each moment of my own cowardice stings.

We are both angry now. This is more than I wanted to say. Enough.

In Between Days

Yesterday was a bit of an odd one. I spent the morning in a bit of a daze, not doing much more than eating toasted fruit bread and staring vacantly (it was a Saturday, after all...). Minutes seemed to drag as though they were tired by the effort of passing time.

By afternoon I found myself whisked off to a strange land ("The Countryside") to be surrounded by the bustle and comfortable fuss of family life (-not my family, I hasten to add: my family is so small we are at the point of extinction and the World Wide Fund for Nature may be getting an appeal together any minute). There is something lulling about watching the dynamics of a messily loving family: it is almost as though you see the family shorthand emerge and feel privy to some secret code - you watch the power struggles and yearnings of the youngest members as they try to find their place in it all; you see the adults drift in and out of roles they have created or been given; you see family traits - a smile, a laugh, an intonation - echoing across generations. It probably seems ordinary, mundane, even boring to most people: to me it was welcome respite. I might have looked dazed and out of my depth, but I felt calmed to see something uniquely normal, something brilliantly, exquisitely quotidien.

That all probably makes me sound like some sort of analytical misanthrope detached from the world - but it isn't how I felt, nor was made to feel: I was made to feel welcome and free just to be - and for that I am extraordinarily grateful. The pressure lifted for a while and I felt the sun on my skin. It was good. Just plain good.

The evening saw me back at the flat, however. My chilled mood couldn't last. Before too long another barbed and spitting spat broke out. Ugly things were said - some were meant, some weren't - but I could feel my strength slip away. It did neither myself nor my ex any credit nor favour: I am not proud of how I clawed back like a cornered cat. I slept dreamlessly, restlessly.

Sunday finds me contemplative, uneasy, uncertain. Not uncertain about whether or not I have done the right thing, not even uncertain about what I want, but uncertain as to how I proceed. It feels like an "in between" time - like the moment between jumping and landing, the moment between breathing in and singing out. The landing could go wrong, the note could be missed - it's all to be settled and decided but the action is already begun: I am committed to continue. I know I will have more days like these - I just need to find a way to deal with them.

Every day is different.

I need to be connected to the world again. I feel as though some days I seem to drift further and further away - and then I have to grab myself and haul myself back. It takes effort not to fall off the edge of the world - I haven't made the effort for a while. I need to start again, hand over hand, hefting along my life as though it were some thick rope clinging to a mountain. I need to feel my muscles burn and stretch as I hang on to the world, keeping a tight grip, lifting myself upwards, ever upwards.

Today my hangover has helped connect me with my body - the overcast sky is gentle to my eyes and I could almost kiss it in thanks. I am grateful for running water, clean clothes, clean skin. I just wish I could stick the shower head in my ear and flush out the haziness from my brain. I do have moments of clarity - small and large epiphanies -but I want to focus more and be more focused. It will take time and effort. Small steps.

The Kennel Club

I woke up this morning.

This in itself is remarkable because it means that I slept. I woke up awash in sweat, disoriented and dazed, but I woke up nonetheless.

Yesterday I moved into the boxroom (I'm calling it The Kennel- all new homes deserve a name, surely?). Ironically, it's where Mrs Gripes' Maw always used to think I slept... I do love irony.

I can't say the move wasn't traumatic: the lines of a Sondheim song keep running through my head;

Everything's different
Nothing's changed
Only maybe slightly rearranged

You're sorry-grateful
Why look for answers
Where none occur?

You always are
What you always were
Which has nothing to do with
All to do with her

Being back here means I have to face things, face consequences, face myself. I know I stayed away too long, imposing myself on someone else like a needy, greedy cuckoo in a nest, demanding, demanding, demanding so very unfairly - and I am sorry-grateful for that - I was delaying the inevitable and I should learn from it. I shall learn from it. I am learning from it.

Now I am here I need to face-up to the myriad decisions I need to make, the changes that need to occur; that's hard, albeit necessary- inevitable maybe. Maybe a kennel is what I need right now: a roof, food and occasional walkies... find out what kind of animal I really am.

Well, here's hoping...

"When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions"

It's a good job new spines are flexible, durable and able to repair - because mine got a kicking yesterday that I am still feeling today.

Worked-up into a frenzy of anxious excitment (tempered with great trepidation) I went to view a flat. Calling it a flat is perhaps generous - a random collection of functional rooms would be more accurate.Not even a collection, maybe a clump. A clot? Anyway...

High in the attic of a Georgian tenement several overseas students and myself prodded and poked our way around the grim property, feigning disinterest. It was functional - nothing more, nothing less - except it had a view across to Berwick Law, the looming presence of Arthur's Seat and the broad expanse of the Firth of Forth that I could feel would calm me when I needed calming and entertain me when all seemed lifeless, the constantly changing vista of the sea acting as some great movie screen. I wanted to stay here, regardless of the hike, the grotty stair, the overwhelming sense of misery that emanated from the hastily painted woodchip walls.

I tried haggling (me! haggling!) with the letting agent - but it was more out of a sense of new-found cockiness and swagger than in any real hope of battering down the price. I took an application form and sauntered down the stair. It would be a doddle.

Sat in a café on the Royal Mile I started to fill in the form. Dubstar were playing on the radio, "Not So Manic Now" - and I took it as an omen - things would be calm, I would have my lofty eerie, my writer's garret, to build my new self and life. A niggling doubt played in the back of my mind however: I needed to check that I would have enough hours' work next session to cover the rent. I phoned the college.

My colleague answered the phone on the third ring. I asked outright about hours and he was evasive, only giving it to me straight when I told him what was going on in my life right now. With an ominous deep inhalation of breath, he informed me that my current post was being amalgamated into a new position, to be advertised this week. I was free to apply of course, but...

In short: no guarantee of work. I folded the application form and put it in my bag, tears of frustration burning my eyes. All the strength I had gathered seemed to swirl away. I walked down to Princes Street Gardens and sat outside the National Gallery, watching the trains pulling out of Waverley Station, heading somewhere timetabled and certain. I closed my eyes and felt the world pull me and sway me for a while, then opened them again to a new world, a new reality. I phoned a voice of calm and understanding, me babbling with new resolve, needing to hear that it would all be OK, all OK... and I did. It touched me like an embrace.

This is a fresh challenge. A new opportunity: so, OK, I won't have my own space just yet.And I won't have a familiar job to escape to: I must skulk back to the home I left - the flat that once was my home, to be more precise - and live kenneled in a spare room until such times as I can escape. I must decide my own direction, take fresh steps rather than rely on old familiar working paths.

Maybe it will be good for me. Maybe I need to repair there, see the devastation I have created, own it, live with it and absorb it into me - a fresh injection of steel into my hardening spine. Maybe I need to face my demons and not run from them.

I'm growing up, I think. I hope, anyway. I always hope...

Being and doing


The details are mine to know and feel. Respect that.
I'm not self-editing, I'm not even preserving the feelings of anyone involved - I'm thinking, processing and concluding.

So, I'm no longer someone's partner (that sounds too passive, like it "just happened" - it didn't: I jumped two-footed, like I always do; I eventually, tortuously made a choice and jumped). I am proud that I was, for a while. I am proud of her - I hope she is proud of herself.

I am, for the first time in a long time, entirely free to do whatever I choose.
Choice is a frightening concept - people choose to do things that harm them, people choose to do things that help and heal them: what choice will I make? Do I know the difference?


Practically, I need a place to stay, to be myself (that self that has slipped out from time to time, however hard I've tried to suppress it) and to be by myself. Various people have suggested I need to be with others, but how do I re-learn me if I am surrounded by tempting easy influences? I don't want to take the easy route. There is no easy route.

I need to get my ambition back, to focus it and channel it in a way that fulfils me.

Friday I was an energyless messy splatter of raw emotions: today I can feel my spine begin to grow, a new form beginning to take shape. I'm not scared, though: I probably should be, but I'm not. My heart is still beating, my lungs breathe, my mind is running. I am maybe not entire yet, but I am piecing myself back together moment by moment.

I am doing this for myself. For the very first time I am doing something entirely for myself. I don't care if you think me selfish - let me be.