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Sunday, 29 November 2009

If you have your head cut off, you remain conscious for several minutes after

I woke up early this morning. 6am to be exact. Pretty early for a Sunday morning after an exhausting week at work. But here I am, full of beans, and being all productive and active and writing loads of ideas and hoping I will get the time and the energy to do them all and do them soon. Because, let's face it: always working overtime kills the most excited imagination, and that's my new life -work, work, work- which I am trying to come to terms with, reinventing myself every single morning with also re-invented energy, which never seems to see the light of the new day, when the working week sucks me into its hollow spiral of running around the campus, teaching far too many lectures and marking, and preparing, and managing and administering, all that within a 50plus-hour-a-week marathon. My working week spits me from its insides on Friday evening. There is nothing left of me. A body that drags around the house trying to make sense of the free time. And then the chores attack. Life I've been putting on hold knocks on the front door. Breathing has been one of the supposedly innate skills I've struggled to master this last year. Something inside me copes with my current life by giving it an air of unreality. Life put into brackets. A waiting room for my real life. Then I read this poem this morning, Beheaded, by Polly Clark and, just after reading the first verse, I felt taken and drawn towards it. The poem belongs to the collection Take me with you (Bloodaxe, 2005) but I read it in Mslexia, an amazing Creative Writing magazine I'm addicted to. It also features an interview with the poet and there were two things that specially stroke me:

1) This is my actual life ticking away... It's real!

2) I'd read somewhere that if you have your head cut off, you remain conscious for several minutes after.

I quickly reacted this way:

1) Oh my God! There is not such thing as 'bracketing a life'. This life which is ticking now IS my actual life.

2) What would my still-conscious-head think for several minutes after being cut off my body?

I know, I know. It's a horrible thought. The image is haunting me in a sort of good way, I suppose, since it urged me to write this post (after months of blogging inactivity).

What can be done?

I am starting by erasing the brackets in my prose and the brackets in my life. Everything is happening now. I'm committed to baby steps. Because they are small and because they are playful and because they don't really know where they are taking you but are taking you into the right direction. After all, I only want to play. Forever. Because life is important and useless at the same time, which doesn't mean it's not worth living. Because I take life seriously.

I leave you with Polly Clark's magnificent poem:


I hear perfectly: the thud

onto linen, the strange gasp

like the cry of a premature baby,

just once and then silence.

And I see perfectly:

how my lashes scratch the light,

a hair glittering in shadow,

the winded hollow

where my lips rest.

I still have all my words.

I move my mouth,

like someone begging for water.

Fingers grab my hair

and I soar high above my sad

old body, slumped and tiny.

Tears of pity for it fill my eyes.

They are tending it,

the blank women in blue.

They are washing it,

as if they loved it.

Look, the people are cheering me,

look, they are glad to see me,

now that I've been removed

without a single word of protest.

Polly Clark

Take Me With You (Bloodaxe, 2005)

Thursday, 17 September 2009


I read somewhere (and sorry, I forgot where!) that suffering meant being stuck. I never thought of it this way and it makes so much sense, don't you think? We need to know we are walking towards something or somewhere or maybe away from something or somewhere else.. Doesn't matter. We need movement and change. Adaptation and growing. Whatever life throws us. These are my almost-Autumn changes. Little. Slow. But moving and making a difference:

1. Music in the morning. Since my laptop crashed two weeks ago (ay, ay, ay!), I haven't been able to play my Yogamazing podcast (which I strongly recommend) for my morning yoga. That threw a spanner in the works. As the routine persone I am, I struggled once again with my morning ritual. But only initially. I am now making up my own workouts in the morning and I listen to nice soothing music, which gently wakes me up and puts me in a good mood. Although I have re-arranged the study room (where the desktop lives) to practise my yoga there, I think I'm still going to combine my 'musical yoga' with the podcast. I was in downward dog one morning and I found myself smiling. That needs to carry on.

2. WALK, NOT RACE! Unless I'm running a marathon (rather doubtful right now). And still in a marathon, your pace must be steady, your stamine well measured and you must enjoy every minute. I've realised I do everything in a rush. As if my life went with it. So I've started SLOOOOOOOWING down and enjoying every breath. I hope I can maintain that when I start my classes... To my previous sentence on suffering, I would add suffering is also being detached. Walking (at lunch time, to get the bus, to the gym, even up and down the uni stairs to go to the toilett!) makes me feel more connected with the universe. I am a part of everything else (the hippy-in-me had to emerge at some point...) There is no point in running towards or running away, UNLESS I AM ACTUALLY RUNNING. And that links with my next change.

3. Running. For now, on the treadmill. I am currently reading Haruki Murakami's What I talk about when I talk about running. Well, and it's really got me moving. Running is something I had been thinking about for a long time but never quite got myself to do. So here I am. So far I am running 3 times a week, 40 minutes each time. I haven't run more than 4 miles per session but hey, it's a start. This week I've run twice and, oh no!!!! I woke up this morning with a bad cold, which made me stay working from home and , of course, away from the treadmill. Let's hope I can catch up on Saturday. Running has made me laugh several times. After only a few minutes my 'evil' inside voice started its chatter: you are tired, can't breath, your legs hurt, you've run for ten minutes, that is enough, you could stop... The minute I identified the voice as the 'evil voice' and gave it a caricature face and sound, everytime the inner chatter would start, I would feel like laughing so much at it! I won! Of course!

4. Journaling. As I seemed to fail at Morning Pages, I got more and more into journaling. I've done it at any time. On the bus, before bed, waiting for my gym class... I know I need to get back into the completion of The Artist's Way. But, after its sudden interruption, I'm just letting things to settle and journaling has been a fantastic way to reflect on what is going on right now in my life.

And that's it for now. The above have been my 4 pre-seasonal changes. They appeared without previous notice. They didn't (directly) respond to any goal setting session. They just happened. Adaptation, I suppose. And the principle of 'movement' as survival. As Haruki Murakami mentions on the first chapter of his book, "pain is inevitable, suffering optional".

I would be very happy if you shared with me which little changes you may have introduced in your 'back-to-school' routine and how they have helped your overall health and wellbeing. Leave a comment if you have read me!

And what about leaving you with another Macaco song? This one has hit the Spanish summer lists this Summer. It's called MOVING. (Please, click on the link, for some reason I wasn't allowed to embed this video).

Picture: By moi. Taken on the 16th of August in Gargallo (Teruel, Spain). The performance was 'jotas', the traditional Aragon music and dance. They always manage to make me cry since they reminde me of my grandparents, who are not here anymore. All my 'jotas' pictures are dedicated to them, Pilar and Antonio.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

I missed the bus twice!

However, the sun is shining today in my corner of the world and, luckily, I had a great book in my monstruosity of handbag: The Self on the Page, by Celia Hunt. For first time in months I haven't had a tantrum when things didn't go as expected. I sat down on a bench. Enjoying the warmth of this Autumn miracle on my face and read a few pages, which thought-provoking words gave me enough ideas to keep my mind happily occupied for the rest of the bus journey.
And yes, I was 30 minutes late at work. So what? The classes haven't started yet. I am the boss of my time.

Picture from FreeFoto.com

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Seguiremos, a happy song for you

While mapping and unmapping the potential geography of this new beginning, I sing out loud the fabulous Macaco's song, Seguiremos, which you can find below. With a nostalgic end-of-summer note, as sudden as it was (just two hour flight), with a huge slice of hope which tries to ridicule any fear, I sing I'm searching when they say I'm lost, I reach everywhere if I stand on my toes, I get up when they say I've fallen; when they say I'm sleeping I say it's better to dream. Being so different, why do they call us a multitude?

Los sueños cambiaron el destino de los hombres y de las naciones (voz en off)

Di sí (oh oh) seguiremos (oh oh)
Si dicen perdido yo digo buscando,
Si dicen no llegas de puntillas alcanzamos,
Y sí (oh oh) seguiremoos (oh oh).

Si dicen caíste yo digo me levanto
Si dicen dormido es mejor soñando

Entre unos y otros ahí estás tú
Somos los mismos somos distintos
Pero nos llaman multitud.
Perdonen que no me levante
Cuando digan de frente y al paso
No somos tropas no somos soldados
Mejor gotas sobre olas flotando.

Y sí (oh oh) seguiremos (oh oh)
Si dicen perdido yo digo buscando,
Si dicen no llegas de puntillas alcanzamos,
Y sí (oh oh) seguiremoos (oh oh).
Si dicen caíste yo digo me levanto
Si dicen dormido es mejor soñando

Perdonen que no me aclare
En medio de este mar enturbiado
Nos hicieron agua trasparente
No me ensucien más,
Yo ya me he manchado.
y es que hay una gran diferencia
entre pensar y soñar
yo soy de lo segundo
En cada segundo vuelvo a empezar.

Y sí (oh oh) seguiremos (oh oh)
Si dicen perdido yo digo buscando,
Si dicen no llegas de puntillas alcanzamos,
Y sí (oh oh) seguiremoos (oh oh).
Si dicen caíste yo digo me levanto
Si dicen dormido es mejor soñando

Hoy sabemos que lo importante es soñar, liberar nuestro inconsciente, el filtro de censura del pensamiento, creemos que al soñar perdemos un tercio de nuestra vida, y nos equivocamos. (voz en off)

Y si (oh oh) seguiremos (oh oh)
Si dicen perdido yo digo buscando,
Si dicen no llegas de puntillas alcanzamos,
Y sí (oh oh) seguiremoos (oh oh).
Si dicen caíste yo digo me levanto
Si dicen dormido es mejor soñando
Si dicen caíste yo digo me levanto
Si dicen dormido es mejor soñando

Hoy sabemos que lo importante es soñar (voz en off)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Kandahar Break premier

I started August in a great way: The 'Kandahar Break' premier. The cinema was absolutely full. The director, David Whitney, briefly introduced the film and there we were, grabbing the fabric of our film partners' jackets with our fingernails, clenching our teeth, biting our lips, sitting at the edge of our seats; since the action started in minute one and the story didn't let us go for a second. Magnificent landscapes, excellent performances, scarily authentic! It was great to see the final product. Especially because I was privileged enough to live part of the process. The 'from-home' process. I said goodbye to R for more than a month. I prayed every night for him to be safe. I followed the news and got scared on every piece where the Taliban or Pakistan were mentioned. I read every long email of his narrating the adventure. I was waiting for him after the emergency evacuation. And yes, it was fantastic to see the hard work of everyone materialised into an excellent film. It was great to see them in the after party talking about their experience in Pakistan. I thank R because he's taught me to watch films in a different way. I have never seen a better example of excellent team work. Different languages, different cultures, different views, different sleeping patterns, different ways to cope with the 50ºC of the desert! And finally, all the differences converge together and become one piece of art. From here I wish the film and everyone involved in it all the luck in the world.

Check out the film's facebook page:

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The postgrad party

I keep thinking about my university days as a time which feels very close to me. I think university and I think philosophy, hunger for knowledge, creative curiosity, adventureous travelling. Friendship. Passion. My writing. All the reading I have done, I am doing and I will ever do comes from those days. They are so close to my heart. Myself. The start of the life I want. The meaning of the life I want. My life.
However, that happened looooong ago. I never realised how long until last Sunday I went to Manchester to see the play
'Temp/Casual', where my friend Marlon was acting. The play was about this group of friends who went to uni and graduated together, and how life changed (or they changed because of life) a few years after graduation. How passions fell down. How dreams were only for a few chosen ones. How relationships deteriorated. How friendships were sold and bought. How the very enthusiastic media graduates had to continue to re-invent themselves, some to succeed, some to survive. They called that period 'the postgrad party' and the concept grabbed me and didn't let me go. How has my postgrad party been? Am I still living the postgrad party or am I suppose to have moved on? How can we call the next phase? Will I ever get there or am I stuck in the re-invention marathon? I went through my memories, and time acquired a different dimension. University days feel now so far away. I am nostalgic. I miss the coffees at the canteen, the carefree attitude, the poems, the believe everything was going to lead me to the life of my dreams. The thought there would be always time for everything and for everyone. I miss me. The timeless me. And then I find myself, closer to the past than ever. Closer to complete the puzzle with the pieces I've been scattering all this time. As in Temp/Casual I have desintegrated in empty relationships, I have been a prisoner in meaningless jobs, I have been suffocated by people who think their little narrow world is The World. People who have tried to convince me of that. People I don't want to become. I have fantasised with killing my boss or some colleagues. I will not sell myself, except that I must. Where did my dream go? I must survive. Pay rent, keep studying, bills, taxes, food! The postgrad party. I will be an actress then. Are there others like me? Now my play is a full time job. Maybe mine is a long way round but I haven't lost faith and I know now I'm in the right path. It needs adjustments. Granted. A bit of luck. A bit of work. A lot of faith things might not be easy but I will always find the way. I enjoy going through my postgrad party memories so far. I am happy the way life has turned out. I am grateful for every step. If I can say that, I am complete and yet still seeking.

Enjoy the party!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Oblivion: End of the ban.

"Face your fears! You know you shouldn't look, but you won't be able to stop yourself taking a peek at the colossal vertical drop".

The reading ban is over. It has been over for three and a half days now so I feel I owe myself this post. Something I would like to begin with is that the fact of not being able to read didn't necessarily give me more time. Still in the office for most of the day + 3 hour travelling time each day don't allow too much spare time anyway. Was it worth it? Well, YES. In a strange way.

First feeling: Oblivion. Exactly like the ride (: the build-up (OMG, OMG); the anger (I really don't want to do this, why am I still here?); the fear (What will I do?); the increased anxiety levels (where do these voices come from now? Have they always been there?). I need to say I have experienced both 'Oblivions', the metaphorical and the physical ride (Thanks R, R and Zafron), and they have LOADS IN COMMON.

First question: Why do I read?

  1. Refuge
  2. To stop time
  3. Pleasure
  4. Being transported to a different reality
  5. Research
  6. Information
  7. Communication
  8. To stop doing chores
  9. To stop other activities that, although I want to do them, they ask for greater effort (i.e writing)
  10. Learn

Consequences of the ban:

  1. Many, many unexpected thoughts. Anxiety.
  2. Thoughts would create chaos around my life and the tiniest decision.
  3. Thoughts couldn't be quiet. I had to isolate them and deal with them separately. That took time and effort.
  4. When I was too tired to do anything else, I had to try very hard to avoid TV. I was bored, something I hadn't experienced in a long time.
  5. Isolation. Most of communication exchanges happen via electronic devises nowadays: e.mail, blogs, texts. Personal and social isolation (I tend to read news rather than watch news, especially because I can select what I want to know about. On TV or radio somebody decides for me what I should know).
  6. Disruption of night ritual.

What I got out of it:

  1. I tidied up the house and the office.
  2. I tidied up my head (dealt with thoughts I hadn't before)
  3. I went straight into writing when I had to.
  4. I experienced a different way of creativity. Something less artistic and more embeded in everyday life: cooking, food shopping, yoga series, clothing, writing, advice given to others.

Some of the main benefits I have taken out of it are

  1. Awareness of how I distribute my time during the day.
  2. Awareness of why I read and decision of keeping reading but only for the right reasons.
  3. Awareness of having to find a balance in my life by deciding the time I allocate to the activities which are important to me.
  4. Need for a reading-writing balance.
  5. VERY IMPORTANT: Need for empty time to allow creativity to emerge and deal with inner thoughts.
  6. In LIFE, like on Oblivion, even after taking a peek at the colossal vertical drop, you only have three things left to do: breath, relax and enjoy the ride.