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

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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

“To the sixteen year old who wanted to change the world”

I can see you standing at the edge of everything you know,
so ready to throw yourself at every opportunity.
You flex your fingers, nails bitten short,
everywhere but here, you think.

You’re sixteen years old, you have so many plans,
there is so much you want to do.
You’re gonna do it all.

But right now, you’re terrified of being alone,
so desperate to be part of a group that you’ll laugh at their jokes,
even when the jokes make your cheeks burn,
you’ll chant along to their songs,
even when the words make the hairs on your arms stand on edge.
Soon you’ll learn that your words are more valuable than that,
and most importantly, you’ll learn that you are capable of being on your own.

Right now, you don’t just carry your heart on your sleeve,
you have sown it onto your palm.
Every time you greet someone new, you give it away.
It’ll take you a few years, but you’ll get better at guarding it,
and you’ll start to learn to walk away when you need,
and persist when you must.

You’ll learn that not every opportunity is golden,
that not every acquaintance is going to help you grow.
The sooner you learn that, the sooner we can stop picking bad decisions out of our hair.

Stop being so adamant,
you know nothing of people’s lives.
You don’t know anything about the dreams they had to alter,
how they had to come to terms with what the future held and didn’t hold.
Instead, be kind, tread lightly on other’s challenges,
and try to leave every moment you visit a little bit better than you found it.

You give so much and expect just as much back,
but I will tell you right now, people do not work that way.
No one wants you to give them your all, to give yourself up for someone else;
making other people’s pain your own,
does no one any good.

And remember to let people know how you feel;
even the ones you love cannot read your mind.
You’ll be left with nothing but clenched teeth and a mouth filled with coal
if you always expect people to know what they did wrong.

But there is so much good in the world, and you will find it.
In places you never thought to look,
in friends that you won’t meet for years.

And come twenty-two, you won’t even believe where we are now,
you won’t believe the people we have in our life.
Soon you’ll sit on the kitchen floor
in a little house all on your own.
You’ll have your back up against a fridge covered in pictures
of new friends and old friends and places you have yet to see.

You’ll lean your head back, close your eyes,
and think about a day spent in a little cafe in a new city,
laughing until you had to clutch your stomach,
worried you’d laugh your lungs straight out of your chest.
You’ll think about nights spent dancing,
sugar under your shoes,
nightclub evenings with people you’ve known since you were children,
when life’s brought you down different paths, but never too far apart that a slice of cake and a cup of tea can’t bring you back together.

Right now, you want to change the world so badly.
You want to grow up, get out, see the world and everything it holds.
You want the taste of unfamiliar foods on your tongue,
strange new flavours and ideas,
you want to meet every soul that’ll ever change your life,
and all of that right this second.
I promise you, you will do all of that.

But let me tell you, growing up is happening fast enough,
and the people around you are growing old.
And soon, you’ll stop biting your nails.
You will move to another country, you’ll sign up to societies and clubs and events,
you’ll enter so many rooms knowing no one and exit with more love than you know what to do with.
You’ll start writing poetry, and you’ll read it aloud for almost a hundred people.
You’ll take the train to new cities you conquer on your own.
You’ll start sitting in cafes all alone, watching leaves fall off the trees,
and you’ll discuss how you love, but never really understand, Shakespeare,
with new friends who you’ll write postcards to, for years to come.
You’ll call multiple towns your home and dream in more than one language.
You’ll see sunshine in a raincoat and change the world one new thought at a time.

It’s all gonna happen soon enough,
so take your time. You’ve got plenty of it right now.

Love, a twenty-two year old who’s just starting to figure it all out

OctPoWriMo2018, the prompt for day 7 was “unsent letters”. Yes, I know day 7 was yesterday, but this took a long time to get right, and I didn’t want to post it before I was happy with it. Felt like I owed 16 year old me that much. Life has gotten a bit in the way for my October Poetry Writing Month and I haven’t posted a poem a day at all, but I’ll keep trying as best I can, and post the few poems that do come from this challenge.
This, however, felt both strange and wonderful to write at the same time. Packed full of cliches and abstracts, as a symbol of how nothing feels more cliched and abstract than being sixteen.

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

M2 Musings: Frost Smoke and Dragons’ Breath

I know it’s technically still autumn for a good two months, but it was two degrees Celsius on my way to uni this morning, so it feels more like winter than anything else and so this week’s M2 Musings’s a bit more wintery than the seasons might indicate. I like it, though! Time for huge, big scarves, thick gloves and chunky jumpers, hot chocolate, old and familiar book favourites, and curling up under the softest blankets.

If you’re new to my little M2 Musings project, you can click here to read the original post, and here to read the rest of the M2 poems, if you want to!

-Andrea

Journal #11

I woke up with the sun today, a thing that practically never happens. At 7:28am I was on the bus to town, now it’s 8:58pm and I’m on my way back. On the way home, to my little house, filled with my teacups and my pyjamas and all my books neatly shelved.

Today’s been a long day, in the best possible way. I worked with a lot of girls today, all between the age of 8 and 11, who all have the ability and the imagination to change the world. The wonder in their fingertips, and the wit in their questions, cannot be described as anything less than bravery. They were so loud. They were shouting and they laughed, they ran in circles. I wonder when we stop doing that.

I’l started reading Harvey’s almost finished novella today, too. A couple of pages in now, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt; it’s a good one. It’s got the language, the characters and the melody in the text, that’s just so intrinsically him. I’m proud of him and what he’s doing, and I hope he is too. Can’t wait to see him again.

I’ve been on the bus for 6 minutes now, and we’re crossing the bridge. I don’t know when it started, but whenever we cross this one particular bridge I have to stop whatever I’m doing, I need to look up and take in the sea. Maybe it’s a homesick thing, longing for the fjord back home. Like feeling homesick, but without the sadness.

Today’s been a long day and this journal is a ramble, as you’ve already recognised. There’s been a lot of people, a lot of thoughts, a lot of ideas and a lot of impulses, and I figured a journal post could function as a place to compartmentalise it all, to work it through in my head.

Yeah, there’s been a lot of people today. First all the kids, then dinner with friends from the course, then litter picking along the beaches and some film watching with this environmental organisation in the evening. These last few weeks have been filled with a lot of people. Lucky me, though, I’ve got to meet the most wonderful people down here. Clever, intelligent, funny and caring friends, who I can’t wait to get to know even better.

I woke up with the sun today, and will go to bed long past it setting. I’m heading home to my teacups, my pyjamas, my books neatly shelved, to finish up the last piece of an assignment. First though, a cup of tea is needed; a moment to ponder over all the good things life has thrown at me lately. There has been a lot of them.

-Andrea