“To the woman on the bus writing music in the air”

The bus is quiet today,
with the breath of only a small dozen commuters fogging up the glass.

I’m catching up on some reading,
highlighter between my fingers,
taking notes in my head,
knowledge sporadically thrown into the compartments of my mind.

Next to me, a lady is scribbling on a piece of paper.
She hums and taps her fingers,
bites the inside of her cheek and narrows her eyes.
Her hair is falling in front of her face,
a pencil’s stuck in between neat lips.
Her fingers are writing out music the rest of us aren’t allowed to her
just yet.

She’s balancing sheet music on her knees,
only stopping momentarily to conduct the choir in her mind.
It looks like a big one.

I’m cramming last minute facts into my reluctant brain,
wars and names and dates long passed.

She’s creating something wonderful,
music a small dozen commuters can only imagine,
just yet.

-Andrea

Blue Psalms of All Hallows Eve

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve, and for the first time I’m feeling the weight of it as more than just a holiday for other people to remember their loved ones.  This year I’m one of the one’s remembering, and that still hasn’t entirely registered, even after months have passed. Our days are so busy, our minutes too short, our steps too hurried, it’s so easy to wrangle that dark spot in your stomach into the back of your mind, to think grief is for another day. Except it rarely is, and it shouldn’t have to be.
Most days grief is for right now, most days grief has no interest in being pushed away, and on those days we should give grief a name.

I translated an All Hallow’s Eve Mass, for a service that was held today in the cathedral in the town I’m living in now. I don’t think of myself as Christian, but I’ve been working in some churches in my time, and I’ve been translating and live interpreting services in the cathedral for a little while now as work experience for my translation BA. This was a challenging one, though, just because the liturgy’s so heartfelt, the psalms so well-chosen and thus, the words just hit that little bit closer to home. It didn’t feel like work, more like hurting and healing.

The service was a beautiful one. Dignified, graceful and appreciative. It focused on relations between people, and what happens when we suddenly have to start talking about our loved ones in the past tense.
I must admit I’m still not entirely used to that part, yet.

For some, death may come expected, it may even be wanted, while for others it strikes abruptly and harshly, changing everything, taking people we cannot bear losing.
“Those who are loved will never be forgotten,” said the priest, a young woman who touched every heart in the congregation, who laid an arm of kind words around the shoulders of everyone in the church. You could see people needed to hear what she was telling them; that their emotions were valid, that grief takes many forms and that no one form is more correct than another.
Death is weird, it always has been and always will be, and we all react so differently when we encounter it.

This post is a bit jumbled, but I just wanted to share with you a paragraph from her sermon that I translated:

Those who are loved, will never be forgotten.
Many of us carry heavy burdens, we carry bereavement, loss and grief.
Today we think of those we love that are no longer with us.

We think of our community, of compassion and wonderful memories.
we are grateful for the days and the years we got to share,
for kind words, for warmth and for joy.

Many of us carry grief over everything that never came to be, 
for relations that were challenging,
for wounds that struggle to heal,
grief over what was taken too quickly,
over everything we never got to say.

We humans are so great at not saying what we think, at forgetting to remind people that they are appreciated; we often take it for granted that people know we love them.
But we also have a million tiny ways of showing that we care, and today I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about all the ways the one I’m missing showed that she cared. I’ve lit candles and quietly sung songs that remind me of her. I’ve twirled her bracelet around my wrist, and I’ve consciously tried to name all the feelings that have bubbled up in my stomach, wound its way around my heart, up through my throat and that’s lingered behind my eyes. It’s been strange and a little bit scary, but it’s also brought a sense of calm.
I think I needed it.

I wasn’t prepared for today to be as heavy as it was, and I didn’t think I was going to write about it. I’m not sure what this even is, a little stream of consciousness, my mind trying to figure out what it’s feeling.
It’s been a good day, though – an important day.

I hope you all have had a good day today, too, and that you’ve had your loved ones around you.
Because those who are loved, can never be forgotten.

-Andrea

“First snow”

My garden’s been eaten by fresh bedsheets of snow,
it’s covering every inch of grass,
blanketing the city,
hushing it,
making it move a little slower than normal.
Winter tires, snow boots, layers of scarves to keep out the chill.
“It rarely snows like it used to,”
we say most winters, and we solemnly nod,
“global warming and the environment and all that.”
But for now, the sky is glittering,
with a million frozen dancers
who twirl and curtsy
like they did in the old days,
to an orchestra only they can hear.

-Andrea

 

Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be – UoW Graduation 2018

Goals are a funny thing. Sometimes you set goals because you know you should, sometimes you set goals because it would be fun to try, and sometimes you set goals you’re not all that sure about.

Graduating didn’t really feel like a goal as I went into my first year of a BA in creative writing at the University of Winchester. It was too far away, not really relevant yet, the focus was on getting through day to day. When first-year came around, there were too many forms to fill out, too many notebooks to organise, too many hot chocolates to drink and assignments to write, to even think about the finish line; the handshake at the end of three years. September 12th 2015 saw too many nooks and crannies in the library, too many secret passageways in the main building, too many streets I had yet to wander down, to even have space for the hats and the gowns we would all don to celebrate these achievements of ours.
Then days became weeks, and semesters came and went.
I started to know Winchester as my city. Walking around its streets felt right, and just like that, with the challenges and the experiences uni life brought with it, graduating started to feel like a goal; one I knew I’d work hard to reach.

On Friday the 19th of October 2018, Winchester Cathedral was filled with the sound of high heels clacking against old stone floors, suit sleeves crinkled by nervous palms and grad gowns that kept falling down jittery shoulders. On Friday 19th of October, I graduated. The cathedral was bursting with excited graduands and uni staff in fancy clothing, with music, speeches and flowers, everything to celebrate three years of hard work. It was wonderful. I reached my goal, I finished my BA.

I have been trying to sit down and properly put into words what I’ve been feeling since then, but I’m struggling with finding the right ones (hence, one of the reasons why this blog has been very quiet for a while).
So for now, I figured I’d show you some pictures – just of us throwing our hats in the air and all in all looking rather fancy in our (too large) gowns. The words need a little more time, the enormity of the fact that my time at uni in Winchester has now officially come to an end hasn’t really hit me yet.
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What a day and what a ceremony.
Here’s to the future, to all we are and to all we’ll come to be. We are all just getting started.

Hope you have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“Kintsukuroi”

Prompt:”she never seemed shattered; she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

I’ve been reading up on Kintsukuroi,
the art of repairing broken pottery with gold.

I feel there is something for us to learn here,
what if we took hopes shattered and dreams lost
and coated the cracks with something we hold dear.
If we held heartbreak in our hands,
cautious fingers sowing the pieces back together, molten metal
making it gleam like the very first sun on autumn dew grass.

If we did this, then all our errors,
our missteps and regrets,
would become art, something to grow from.
The golden lines, paths we’ve travelled, roads we’re yet to see.

Maybe we wouldn’t be so afraid to make mistakes,
if we knew we could make something beautiful

of what is broken.

OctPoWriMo2018, this poem combines the prompt of day 11 (“Falling through the cracks”) and the prompt for day 12, which is Matt Baker’s poem “she never seemed shattered; to me, she was a breathtaking mosaic of the battles she’d won”.

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“I’ve got time”

Prompt: “Shy people tend to interact better with animals than people”

The letters got stuck in her mouth,
why would any word need that many syllables.
The stutter prevented fey world and magic from filling
her little room,
and book after book was thrown against the wall,
cracks in the paint after all the lifetimes
caught in her throat.
He came in quietly
and softly put his head in her lap.
Small cries stilled as the heavy dog brought her back to reality,
he looked at her with big eyes.
She could see the world she couldn’t read aloud in there.
“Read to me,” his eyes said,
“I’ve got time.”

A bit delayed day 4 of OctPoWriMo, and the prompt was about strange animals and pets. I’ve never had any pets myself but have fallen in love with all of my friends’ dogs and cats, even though it’s rarely mutual. It’s interesting to read up on dogs as support animals, though, and especially how they can help children in learning situations, for example children struggling with reading out loud.

Hope you have a wonderful day!
-Andrea

WWW Wednesday October 3rd

Let’s talk some more about books!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words, and anyone can join the fun! All you have to do is answer three simple questions (“The three Ws”):

-What are you currently reading?
-What did you just finish reading?
-What are you planning on reading next?

What are you currently reading?
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher


This is an intriguing book. So far I’ve really enjoyed it, and with every page I get more and more sure that Carrie Fisher was both one of the most wonderful and bizarre women to ever walk this earth. I’m not as well-versed in the Star Wars films, franchise and universe as I wish I was, but I’ve seen enough of them to get the picture. I’m finding the 2016 memoir parts a little more gripping than the journal/diary pages, but I guess that’s natural, considering the memoirs are built on a life long lived and everything that’s been picked up along the way. Really good book, 10/10 would read again (or at least finish quickly so I can pass it on and make other people read it).

Blurb:
When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naïveté, and a vulnerability that she hardly recognized.
Including excerpts from these handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joy and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty.


What did you just finish?
Flight by Vanessa Harbour

I really liked this! I wrote about it in the last WWW Wednesday post, so if you want to read that you can click here. It felt strange reading the published works of someone who’s read and marked and critiqued so much of your own writing, and I must admit that it put my mind straight back into workshop mode. Nothing to critique, though, just a really good book!

Blurb:

Blurb:
If Jakob sneezed, he could die.
Austria 1945. After losing his family, Jakob shelters with Herr Engel in a rural stables, where they hide the precious Lipizzaner stallions they know Hitler wants to steal. When a German officer comes looking for Jakob and finds the horses, Jakob and his guardian know they just get the stallions to safety, but the only way is straight through Nazi territory.
Joined by Kizzy, an orphan Roma girl, the three must guide the horses across the perilous Austrian mountains. Will they reach safety? What will be waiting for them on the other side?

What are you planning on reading next?
Steam, Smoke & Mirrors by Colin Edmonds

I know nothing of this book, but I loved the cover and really want to get into reading more steampunk! I’m sure we’ve talked about this before, but steampunk is like my ultimate aesthetic when it comes to anything. I’m always looking for books and films to fit the theme, and wish that one day I’ll be brave enough to actually wear my steampunk on my sleeves, to incorporate the look into my style. Not yet, though, for now I’m good with the books.
And a lot of the steampunk novels I’ve come across are self published e-book ones, so it allows me to support writers just starting out their career, too!

Blurb:
When a music hall hypnotist escapes from the London County Asylum she leaves a single word on the wall of her cell – scrawled in blood: “MAGISTER”.
Terror then stalks the capital’s streets as the killing spree begins. But why does Superintendent William Melville of the Special Branch call upon the skills of brilliant stage magician Michael Magister and his glamorous assistant Phoebe Le Breton to help capture the murderer?
From the recently discovered journals of Professor Artemus More, secrets are laid bare, mysteries revealed, illusions exposed and conspiracies uncovered, all in a steampunk vision of Victorian Britain. But is anything truly what it seems? Or is it all just Steam, Smoke and Mirrors?

I’m really excited about the books this week, and can’t wait to get through them. Uni’s properly picking up now with lots of assignments and soon-to-come exams, so I get most of my reading done on the bus and in the evenings, and it’s a nice break from the academic work.

What’re you reading this week?
Have you read any of these?
Are you doing a WWW Wednesday post? Pop a link in the comments, I’d love to read it!

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“If my poems had a say”

Prompt: Poems and notes to you

I wonder what my poems would to tell me,
if I ever gave them the chance to talk.

“Spare us your sunflower keyboard,”
they might say,
“your tea cup words,
your jumpers,
the scarves around the spelling.

Let us convey the fury under your fingernails,
your unwashed face,
everything that makes the soot in your stomach glow like embers.

Or maybe just give us
a break.”

I’m attempting OctPoWriMo (October Poetry Writing Month) this month!
I’m gonna put the M2 Musings project on hold, and see if I can manage to stick to a short poem a day, based on “official” prompts. Let me know if a post a day is too much, though! I have no clue how long I’ll be able to keep this up, but I’m excited to give it a go!

Are you doing OctPoWriMo this October? Have you tried any other writing challenges? And what do you think of challenges like these, anyway?

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

“Lanterns and daisies and brave new ideas”

I don’t know whether it’s ironic or beautiful
to put cemeteries next to universities.

Lanterns flicker and glow in the night, leading the way
for students stumbling towards the bus stop.
Their voices are fluttering on local beer and cheesy pop songs,
as the grave lights light up
their hands, their shoulders, as two people
just turned 21
lean against the stone fence that circles the graves.

They’ll change the world one thought, one idea,
one maximal noun phrase at the time,
and tomorrow,
the daisies adorning the grave of someone who changed the world
with their own thoughts, their own ideas,
with their own two hands,
will rise towards the sun.

-Andrea

Journal #12

Lazy Sunday mornings are for warm beds and woolen socks, for stretching and for relaxing. They are for opening the curtains and letting the sun in, for cracking open the window, just a little bit, to feel one of those fresh October breezes go past. They’ve got time for long breakfasts and jazz on the radio, for twirling around the kitchen while your toast is getting ready.

Sundays are for soft shirts and your hair in a bun. They are for no makeup, for being cosy in the corner of the sofa, for blankets and cushions and for scented candles. Sundays are for cups of tea. Steaming, fresh, Indian chai, blueberry muffin, cinnamon and apple, all those flavours you need to sit down and savour, that you can’t just rush in a travel mug on the way to uni. Sundays are for writing lists and plans and notes in multicolored pen, and hanging them all around your flat for yourself to find later on in the week. To do lists are always kinder when written on a Sunday.
They are also for music. For songs that make you feel like home, for songs where the bass hits your spine and makes you jump on the sofa, for songs that make you sing so loud the neighbors might come knocking.
Sundays are for catching up. All the things you couldn’t do during the weekend, Sundays are ready to pick up the slack. Sundays see buttons sown back on shirts left waiting, missed reading done and laundry finished, folded and put into neat piles. Sundays see bedsheets changed and floors hoovered and books picked up that have been discarded for too long.
Sundays have got time for walks. For dressing up warm and holding hands, for finding places you’ve never seen and exploring areas you know and love.
They are for rosy cheeks and chilly noses, and blowing on your fingers to keep them warm.

And at the end of warm Sundays you get the lazy Sunday evenings. Sunday evenings are clean sheets and fresh pajamas and curling up in bed with your favourite podcast. They are your bag ready to be packed for uni tomorrow, fairy lights taped to the wall behind your bed and lavender candles lit on the dresser. Lazy Sunday evenings are gratitude for the week that has passed and anticipation for the week to come. They are for that last cup of tea, for face masks and aloe vera moisturizer and skype calls with your sister.

Lazy Sundays evenings are a good night’s sleep, and wishing a new week welcome.

-Andrea