Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it

On March 29, this blog will be 10 years old.

Then, I had been in Canberra for a month, and just started my PhD on the framework of an artificial mythology examining William Blake’s Vala, or the Four Zoas. It was a cycle he ended up abandoning – but he wanted to create something for England, and this was to be it. It wasn’t a complete failure though, as one element from this cycle survived, and the English sing it as their unofficial anthem: Jerusalem (*note: this short piece began in the Zoas, and then was lifted to be the Preface of another of his epic poems, Milton. Blake was utterly obsessed with Milton and Paradise Lost). I even got to hold the Zoas manuscript in my hands – it was a set of roughly A2-sized pages where Blake had annotated and written a great deal in crayon – which didn’t digitise properly. It was jarring to see after how small and delicate his Songs of Innocence and Experience were… but that was a time long ago. It was turning into an MPhil in Art History, so the framework, theology, and social anthropology stayed, and the literature changed to another artificial myth: The Silmarillion. Tolkien, too, was preoccupied with Paradise Lost, and the concept of an Ur-mythology (which Guy Gavriel Kay, Christopher Tolkien’s PhD student and editing assistant, investigated in a very comprehensive way within the The Fionavar Tapestry).

I had only just met the people who would put me in touch with CAVAL, the company that would send me around Aussie for several years as a consultant, and I hadn’t met Kylie or Becky: two of my academic role models. That would come later. I had just finished and submitted my thesis for my MLIS – looking at content auditing, Zipf’s Principle of Least Effort, and shiny, glorious metadata.

What a decade it has been! I began this blog to chart and discuss with people far away from me. And for shameless knitting posts. Even my knitting has refined in leaps and bounds since then. It’s charted my fights against The Black Dog, moving countries, jobs, crushing disappointments, highs, lows, triumphs and tribulations. It is, as you are, dear reader, an old friend. And for the last few years, it has been a lament. A chronicle of fight and frustration. I never intended it to be that. Even in this age of self-censoring, I really never intended it to be that. So it won’t be. Not any more.

You see, I’ve missed talking to the chasm that is the internet. I’ve struggled to think about what to say – I’ve not wanted to be contrived or insolent. I’m not a mommy  blogger or a travel blogger, or a political commentator. This used to be an academic-yarny blog. And it may become one again. With some cooking thrown in (I really haven’t spent enough time in the kitchen, and cooking for one can be boring, but to hell with it – there will be food this year), some books and music… French, and whatever PD or edX courses I end up taking. There may also be some Freediving or Apnea stuffs, and a little bit of social media management reflection here as well.

I’m going to start this next decade of Artificially Mythic with my original intent: this isn’t going anywhere, and it’s going to chart my personal and professional development. I may use Medium a little more when I get back into full PD mode, but I invite you, dear reader, to come along this adventure with me.

In the words of our beloved Starman, David Bowie:

I don’t know where I’m going from here,

But I promise it won’t be boring.

Until my next post (which, spoiler alert: will contain knitting. And possibly Google Analytics).

We’ll fill our mouths with cinnamon

Once upon a time, dear reader, a long time ago, I fell in love with my best friend. I can’t tell you when that happened… only that it was years later that I realised it was true and could admit it. But as the immortal quote from How I met your Mother goes:

“If you have chemistry you only need one other thing – timing, but timing’s a bitch.”

This is true. We got together, but I don’t think either of us were ready for it. I was spiralling into in a very dark place. We were both so scared of hurting the other too… It all fell apart. And I truly understood heartbreak. That was years ago. He was the love of my life, and truth be told, he still is. It has taken even more years after the fact to accept that this is the case, know that there’s nothing that will come of it, and let go.

So why am I talking about this now?  Because the chances of him ever reading this post are so very minimal. And, dear reader – I’m doing this for me. This is so much more than relationships and emotions. It about choices and learning lessons, and living.

My pinterest feed is full of platitudes and poems about love and loss and other such stuff. There were so many, I made a board for them. I visit it and my cynicism comes bubbling to the surface.  Men lie – People lie. Promises are broken. I should know this by now. But this is where that old chestnut what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger comes whispering in my ear. Do I get to be angry? Yes. Do I want to be? No: it’s too draining.

The relationship I had before him wasn’t a happy one. In that life, I lost myself in trying to appease and meet the expectations of the family and their quirks. I had to be the adult in that situation, a mother role more than a partner. And it’s taken me to now to even recover from that. It meant with him I wasn’t going to stand on ceremony for anybody. And I didn’t. It didn’t go down well with some, but a lack of communication made it all the worse. The things you learn at the end of it all.

But, this is for me to thank him, them. Both of them. For helping shape who I am today. For introducing me to music that I love, people and places I would never have met or gone to, and experiences I was too chicken to try until I realised I could. And for hurting me so badly that I had to rebuild and re-find myself: who I am, what my passions are, where I want to be, and why I do what I do.

I found the birthday card he wrote me a few months before the break up, and it had me sitting on the ground and crying for hours the other day. It made me realise that there are things I do regret, and there are things I will blame myself for – forever – and I need to accept that its okay, as long as I can take something from it and not repeat my mistakes: learn from experience, and value what I was taught. And  to remember that any relationship takes two. He and I are as guilty as the other here. That’s not going to change anything, but it helps with perspective for the future.

So I sit here, in my lovely home, with my view of the sea and my books, my yarn, my Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor (there are better quality ones, but I do love Rostropovich – his interpretation is more emotional than either Ma or Du Pré… and I haven’t found a good recording of Isserlis – even though I first heard him playing this live), and look at the photos of my friends, my adventures, and my list of projects I aspire to achieve this year, and I know I couldn’t have done this or been here if it weren’t for what they taught me about, well, me.

I think about where I will go and what I will do. That while there won’t be anybody else, it doesn’t mean I’m alone or a failure. My experiences have brought me a tribe of people to share life and laughter with, to learn from, and to have adventures with. It won’t be the one I called my best friend, but it will all be okay. And for that, I’m incredibly thankful.

“While I was singing you silenced me: Asked me to tell you the truth”

This year, I decided to not do the whole resolution thing. Instead, I’m going to keep on keeping on. (You know, learning French, knitting, half-marathons, glutting myself of live and classical music: the usual).

I’m finally back in the water (I got my AIDA 2* in December with no training beforehand – the only thing stopping a 3* is CWT, but who knows what I could do with some proper training?) I got in a pool for fitness with the Seals yesterday, and while I can keep up in the gym… let’s just say it’s good to be back in the water, but I have a long way to go. Still, I’m being conscious to not try do everything at once – I’m actually healthy now… there needs to be some balance in what I do. (hahaha). I also plan to read more (I gave myself a migraine from overdoing it during the holiday – I regret nothing), blog more, see friends I’ve neglected, and be more mindful.

It’s with morbid curiosity that I wonder if I’ll put myself in hospital this year. Will I manage contract another life-threatening illness, or am I off the hook this time (4 years since the dengue, 2 since pneumonia)? I’m hoping the commentators curse means I’ve nixed it now. I should have, I’ve been pretty disciplined in trying to address all the things.

2016 was a year of learning. I learnt hard lessons, and I learnt to let go. I learnt that it’s okay to feel, but not to let that consume me. I learnt to rebuild walls, keep my mouth shut, and that when people say that they value your honesty – they really don’t. I learnt that people will lie to your face and betray you. I learnt that you can’t trust anybody, even those you thought you would trust with your life. I learnt that I have value. I also learnt that I’m an analytical and logical being by default. (It surprised me somewhat, seeing as I’m so ruled by my emotions).  I learnt that I need to be careful with who I give my time and energy to, because I’m tired of being taken for granted and used. I learnt that standing up for others puts you in the line of fire. I learnt that my need for justice and what’s right can also be a fatal flaw.

I also learnt that people can surprise you. And that those who I do call my friends constantly amaze me with patience, good humour and wit. I realised that I have a few tribes of glorious people who keep me from anger and despair. And these people blow me away. How the hell did I find them, and what did I do to deserve them? All I can say to each and every one of them is Thank You. Thank you for sticking with me. Here’s to many adventures we may have to come, and to shared memories and laughter of adventures past.

I hope that the lessons I learnt in 2016 will make my 2017 better.

My totem animal for the year is going to be the cephalopod: intelligent, agile, resilient, adaptable, courageous. Luckily, I have one to keep me company now, and remind me of those qualities when the going gets tough.


Until next I write, keep safe and be well.