For Christmas the children are going to get old socks and squashed mini-eggs this year

This weird thought occurred to me this morning after the following exchange occurred between my middle son and I.

‘Josh, Josh, come here!’
‘Why?’
‘Just come here a minute!’
Why?’
[Sound of silence.]
‘I have a present for you’.
[Sound of child leaping out of bed and running down corridor towards his mother’s voice.]
‘What, what is it?’
[Eager child appears.]
‘I have something for you.’
[Mother grins, hands behind her back.]
‘Show me!’
‘This.’
[Mother reveals present to child, found in a coat pocket.]

An old, crushed mini egg

[Child recoils in horror and retreats back to his room.]

My weird thought is related to this exchange. I noticed with my little joke that my son felt a strong excitement of anticipation for getting this gift (it got him out of bed at least). He had had high hopes. However, the sensation of pleasure (or in this case, disappointment) on receiving the actual gift was much less significant. That moment of emotion was fleeting. The moment of anticipation was not so. If this little exchange is indicative of most gift-giving scenarios, then the pleasure we feel of anticipation of the gift generally lasts longer, is more heightened and much more joyous than the pleasure we feel on final revelation of gift.

Think of how exciting Christmas is. The build up can last weeks (or sometimes months). I imagine the same is felt for impending birthdays (since mine occurs on the same day as Christmas I cannot relate here in the same way). I know my children look forward to their birthdays about 9 months ahead of the event. As for Christmas, they are prone to frequent exploding with excitement prior to the event (as am I).

My point here is that the excitement of anticipation is always there, irrespective of the gifts received on the day. If we could measure that excitement, I expect that there would be very little deviation year on year. If I look back, I would say I have felt equally as excited for Christmas every year since circa. 1974 (when I would have first been able to register that Christmas was a ‘thing’ of excitement). Yet, I bet most people, as do I, have years of preferred presents and years of shitty presents. I know, not many people will admit it but sometimes we do get given shitty presents. There is such a thing as the ‘shitty’ present. My most shitty was too shitty to write about here and I ought to protect the giver’s identity as I don’t think they meant harm and they may read this, but I remember opening it and being utterly gutted that someone would give me ‘that’ for a present. I threw it away a few years ago, unused.

After my mini-egg gift joke I informed my children that for Christmas this year I would be wrapping up a lot of old socks and crushed mini eggs for them and placing them under the Christmas tree. I told them there were two reasons for doing this. Firstly, frugality. Secondly, as I have explained, the excitement of the anticipation will still be there for Christmas irrespective of the gifts given so in my mind there is no need to go to all the effort of choosing special gifts for them all. Their reaction was one of disappointment.

‘But now you’ve told us, we won’t have the excitement of the build up to Christmas,’ one wise child pointed out.
‘Oh,’ I replied. ‘But wise child of mine, you won’t remember this exchange come December. It is June 1st today, and also you wouldn’t think I’d be so harsh as to carry out this evil plan. Ergo, you will still feel the weeks’ long excitement of Christmas and I will save hundreds of pounds by just wrapping up old socks and crushed mini eggs’.
‘Oh but we will remember!’ Piped up another child.
‘Is that so,’ I mused. ‘Tell me, dear child, what did you get for Christmas last year?’
The children paused for thought.
‘That book over there,’ one replied.
‘I got a book from Grandma Bertie and that old camera from Father Christmas’. Another added.
Therein followed a thoughtful pause. I waited. Then I spoke.
‘So none of you have mentioned the main present you each got last year, the most expensive, and in fact the one you played with the most in the weeks following Christmas, an Alexa each,’ I smugly replied.
‘Ohhhhh,’ they all cried in unison. ‘Yeah! We forgot about that!’
‘My point exactly!’ I responded. The children grunted.

So I think I will carry out my ‘threat’. I firmly believe that the anticipation of getting a gift, which is a combination of the pleasure of surprise, the joy of anticipation, the warmth of feeling that someone has done something for us, is far greater than the reality of getting a ‘thing’ irrespective of whether we will treasure that thing or not. I implore you to disagree with me. Go on, try it. This might have some deep philosophical message about the nature of our relationship to each other, to stuff, and the power of the capitalist economy and Guy Debord’s ‘The Society of the Spectacle’.  Think about it.

The Christmas Tree with lots of presents under it – old socks or exciting toys?

I also, cannot now tell you exactly what I got for Christmas. I will have to get back to you on that. I didn’t get any old socks or crushed mini-eggs but perhaps I will this year. And I can’t wait to unwrap them.

Time is pure perception – how long was it for you?

I’ve written about time here before. About a year ago, I decided that time was a messy scribble. I still think that time is a messy scribble. But I’ve also come to the conclusion that time exists only in my head. It also only exists in your head, in my mum’s head, in the heads of all of my children and in the head of the lady who served me my small Americano with skimmed milk this morning  (poor thing only had four hours sleep last night, her time at work was dragging).

Time as a scientific construct is meaningless. I’m sure I’m not the first person to say this. In fact, I know I’m not. Even scientists have said this. As that eminent philosopher Emmanuel Kant pointed out, time (and space) aren’t physical things, they are modes of understanding, part of our mental software that shapes sensations into something tangible. Time, in reality, is just the tool of our intuition. It isn’t real. Can you touch it? No. Can you measure it? Yes, sort of.

What is this thing called time?

I notice that when I’m happy, enjoying my time, engaged in something pleasurable, such as writing this blog, time is rapid. When I am anxious, worried, sad, down, or waiting for something to happen or for some important news, time is incredibly, painfully, tortuously slow. During those times, the gaps between meals, events, or moments between being asleep and awake seems to drag through the treacle of my mind. The thoughts race but time is slow. I hate time when I’m anxious. I truly hate it with a passion. Time is my enemy. We are opposites. It hates me. I hate it. The rational part of me will say to myself: ‘this won’t last forever’. However, the time to get to the time beyond the now seems beyond my reach. I have to keep telling myself, that cognitive oft-repeated phrase: This Too Shall Pass. It does, of course. Eventually. It isn’t just emotional pain that slows time, physical pain does as well. When I was in labour giving birth to my three babies, the time between each contraction and the times of the contraction itself seemed a lifetime (a common cliche – an exaggeration for sure but it makes sense). In actual fact, that time was seconds.

Me shortly before my first child came out – time slowed.

So conversely, when I am happy, joyous and relaxed, I forget time. It can be 11am one minute, and 1pm the next minute and I’m late (a minute, of course, in the perceptive metaphoric sense). I am late because I’ve lost track of time (another cliche which makes perfect sense). I am lazy because of happy time. Happy time skips by me, it glides effortlessly through my creative mind. It is my enemy again. I hate it because it doesn’t last long enough. I want more time but time betrays me and says ‘you must stop this now’.

Time, also, quickens as I get older. That is not an unknown phenomena. It has often been commented on that time to a small child is perceived very differently to time to a much older person. Time to animals, also, is perceived differently to time to humans. A day in the life of a fly is not the same as a day in the life of my eight year old.

So although we measure time, and we find comfort in that measurement of time, I think we should give that sort of ‘time’ a different name. Or perhaps give the sort of ‘time” of perception I’m talking about a different name. They aren’t the same thing. The time of measurement grounds us to the here and now. I think we would feel extremely anxious without this measured time. We can rely to a certain extent on the movement of the sun, the rumbles of our bellies, the yawns we start to emit late at night but we still need some precision to the measurements of our activities so that we don’t get too out of routine. People may say they hate routine but they are all lying, or kidding themselves.

As for perceived time, we both love it and hate it, depending on how old we are and how happy we are. Or perhaps we always hate it – we either want less or more of it.

Today, time for me is chugging along at a gentle speed. Ergo I must be having a relatively good day, its not my birthday so I’m not joyously happy, but equally I’m not anxious or stressed. And as I type that, I realise by looking at measured time and listening to the rumbles below that it must be  lunchtime.

What I want for lunch today

Waiting rooms all over the UK (and possibly the world) are the same

Today I found myself in a waiting room. It doesn’t matter what sort. That’s a whole other story. It was just a waiting room where you arrive, announce your arrival at reception, and are instructed to sit and wait until you are called to be seen.

And while I was sat in this waiting room, I had a weird thought: waiting rooms are the same, not only all dentist waiting rooms, or even all GP waiting rooms, or even all out-patients waiting rooms, but ALL waiting rooms. They are all the same. They are the same in Bristol, Exeter, London, Shrewsbury, Telford, Aberdeen and Borth. They might even be the same in France, Germany, Japan and Nauru.

They all contain the same vital components which I will list:

1. Stiff, straight backed chairs which are probably blue.

Waiting Room Chairs

Whoever invented these chairs is very rich.

2. A pile of old, well-thumbed, magazines.

Pile of old magazines

Does anyone actually read these? Where do these come from? Is there a website where companies can buy ‘old magazines’?

3. A busy receptionist.

 

Where the busy receptionist sits

Don’t dare have a question to ask, or even worse, moan that you’ve been waiting ages.

4. Really awful art in really cheap frames on the wall.

I can’t find a photograph of a good example of this. I wonder why. These images are usually boats, landscapes or flowers. I think they are meant to cheer the patients / clients up. If it is a posh company, the artwork will be abstract without a frame.

5. Advice leaflets and / or posters.

Useful advice

Does anyone actually take these?

6. Something which is described as ‘carpet’ but not something you’d have in your home.

I bet it is full of fleas.

7. People on their phones, people looking sad, people bored.

Yep, I was guilty of one of these three today.

8. A box of toys that mothers tell their children not to touch in case they contain the novovirus.

Novovirus

9. Not all waiting rooms contain this but the ones that do, irritate me: a TV advertising products related to what you are waiting for (dentists are notorious for this).

10. I can’t think of a tenth component but nine didn’t seem enough.

If I had a job where I had to have a waiting room for people, I’d fill it with new magazines, books, chocolate, bean bags and a shag-pile carpet.

 

 

 

Thoughts have shape

I haven’t written anything here for ages. Perhaps I haven’t had any weird thoughts. I don’t think that is true; I have had thoughts, lots of them, I just haven’t written about them. Truth is, I’ve had lots of thoughts over the last couple of months, more thoughts than normal. Life is full of smooth, free-flowing times and chaotic, busy, challenging times. I’m currently going through a challenging time. Thinking about my thoughts over these last couple of months, I had a weird thought.

Which is kiki? Which is a negative thought?

Thoughts have shape. Challenging thoughts are angular and sharp. Happy thoughts are bulbous and curvaceous.  Is that because if I were to sit on something angular and sharp I’d be uncomfortable and stressed yet if I lay in something bulbous and curvaceous I might fall asleep? Perhaps. I think I can go deeper.

This weird thought reminds me somewhat of the well-known Bouba-Kiki effect. This ‘effect’ was discovered by psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929. Essentially, this effect describes a phenomenon whereby people, irrespective of language, have a tendency, if asked to choose between two, to give a rounded object (such as the one to the right above) the name ‘bouba’ (originally ‘baluba’ when Köhler first conducted his experiment) and an angular shape the name ‘kiki’ (‘takete’ in the original experiment). The inference here is that we naturally attribute personalities and ‘sounds’ of language to shapes. Round things have ’round’ sounds. Angular things have ‘angular’ sounds. To me, this also applies to thoughts. This indicates a presence of synaesthesia-like mappings in the brain (having the condition myself, I am susceptible to this perhaps more than others). Interestingly, as an aside to this weird thought, studies have shown that individuals with autism do not fall into the predictable patterns of choice of words associated with shapes.

Recent research has been looking into how this effect also relates to something called ideaesthesia. This is the phenomenon where activation of concepts, or ideas, evoke perception-like experiences (scientifically called concurrents). So this is exactly what my ‘thought’ thought is an example of. The concept is ‘the shape of the thought’ and the experience is round or angular.

Recently, I’ve started cycling. I have a super fast bike which takes me for 23 km along the country roads of Shropshire. When I’m a fuzzy mess of chaotic thoughts I get on my bike. As I start my ride, my thoughts are all angular and knocking around inside my head, pinching the sides. The energy they give me translates into my legs as I peddle ever fast up those hills. Then as I take in the beauty of the countryside, hear the bleating of the sheep, smell the soft, comforting smell of manure, my thoughts slowly change shape. The ‘noise’ lessens, the angles curve and round, the sharp edges turn soft and round. My thoughts move on to things that make me happy. They even dissipate to some extent. The thoughts are slower, relaxing and comforting. By the time I return home. The shapes are completely rounded and cotton-wool like.

What shape are their thoughts?

What shape does a weird thought have? I suspect it has both round and sharp elements. As for this one? I’m really not sure. What do you think?

Repetition is not boring, not really

I often have weird thoughts while driving in the morning to the Wolverhampton School of Art. Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘Weird Thoughts I Have on the M54’. Today’s weird thought happened on the M54 and it was about how repetitious and dull life can seem, yet in fact it isn’t.

The M54

Driving to Wolverhampton earlier today I pondered my daily routine: wake up at 7am, eat a piece of orange chocolate, drink coffee, pick up my phone, scroll through facebook for 10 minutes, read for 10 minutes, go to the toilet, get dressed, wake children up, make breakfast, listen to my favourite music of the month, make a packed lunch, sit and scroll through Facebook a bit more, put makeup on, brush teeth, read in my pink chair for 10 minutes, gather children, scroll through Facebook while they get ready, take them to school, scoot home, drive to Wolverhampton, park, get coffee, go to studio…

I could go on, and this routine can be repeated, with small variations, for almost every week day. It feels as if it won’t change. It feels as if it will never end. It feels as if it is here to stay. I know I will do the same next week. I will also do the same next month, and even next year. However, if I transport myself 13 years ago, my routine was vastly different. It’s difficult even to see a gradual change from then to now. My routine then was as follows:

Wake up at 5am with cranky baby, feed cranky baby, put cranky baby to bed, go back to sleep, wake up when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby, take cranky baby to toddler group, feed cranky baby, return home, put cranky baby to bed, eat lunch, go out when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby…

As you can see, this routine is very different to my current one (and notice, no mention of Facebook).  The routine above, somehow, morphed into my current routine. Of course the obvious thing to point out are that the cranky baby grew. What’s more, he was joined by two more, who also grew. Then as they all gradually grew, I found a new purpose in life: art in Wolverhampton, and work. I moved house. I changed. I became different. I became the current me.

I can’t quite imagine how my current routine will change into something new in 14 years from now, even though I know it will. It has to. Life does change, gradually. And I have to keep positive, for all the mundanity of my routine now, I do actually quite enjoy certain aspects of it and I know that I will look back in 14 years from now and miss the eight-year-old world view my eight year old has now, the jolly ride up and down the M54, the ladies in the Starbucks on campus who know my name and most of all my little studio space in room MK711 which is my ‘man cave’.

My man cave

So I should stop resenting routine, and embrace it, and capture it in my mind, if that is possible, before it has morphed and changed into something else, even if that something else is better.

Are you chaotic inside or outside?

This is a weird thought I’ve had over lunch. I’ve just read this book and it was brilliant. I recommend it to anyone who loves people watching and snooping around other people’s houses or places of work. It offers a fascinating insight into how much of ourselves can be seen through our ‘stuff’ and how we display or arrange the stuff in our lives.

My most recent book

One of the insights it offers is about how the way we arrange our stuff in our working environment may indicate how we feel insides our minds. I want to explore this idea. My Year 4 teacher (2nd year juniors in old money), Mrs Nichols used to say oh so frequently to class 2N the following: ‘An untidy desk means an untidy mind’. At my junior school, in the late 1970s, we had flip top desks with ink wells.

An example of an inkwell desk with storage and a flip-top lid

We kept our books and belongings in our desks. Every week Mrs Nichols conducted a desk inspection. I believe it was on a Friday. And during every desk inspection she repeated the same phrase: ‘An untidy desk means an untidy mind.’ This was one of her many mantras. Hearing this used to make me cringe in my seat. My desk was always untidy. I envied those well-behaved intelligent children with tidy desks. I hated them. How did they do it? I never really knew. I aspired to be like them. I never was like them. Subsequently, after failing desk inspection every week, in that way that children think teachers speak the word of truth, I grew up believing I had an untidy mind and that that was ‘a bad thing’. I resigned myself to being inferior to the army of tidy people.

Leasowes Junior School – can you spot me?

However, Sam Gosling in Snoop argues that this ‘untidy belongings equals untidy mind’ belief might not necessarily be the case, at least when it comes to working environment. It argues that an untidy desk might actually be the sign of a tidy mind and visa versa. A busy mind needs order, and a ordered mind can deal with  chaos.

Having said that, and I like his theory, I don’t entirely agree with it. I’m basing this on a scientific study of one person: me. At the age of 46 I know enough about myself to know that I do have a chaotic mind. It isn’t going to change. It is and always has been chaotic. It is what it is. But then I thought about my working environment. When I had a full-time job, a job which entailed huge piles of paper everywhere (piles of proofs, revisers, ozalids etc) and huge piles of books everywhere (that’s what publishers make), you might expect my desk to have been very messy. It wasn’t. Or at least, it got messy each day but at the end of the day, I would straighten all the piles up, wash my mug, and create a desk space for the next day. So although I am quite messy in many respects, I like to put things in order. There is a limit to how much mess I can deal with. Perhaps Mrs Nichol’s weekly desk inspections rubbed off on me. She encouraged me to at least give a semblance of tidy at the end of the day.

Now I work from home and my desk is the sofa. It is a little messy, but not excessively so. I need to be surrounded by books and sketch pads. But it is not hugely messy and I do straighten the piles up now and then. So perhaps my chaotic brain can cope with a little chaos but not a lot.

I have another desk now, it is my art studio in Wolverhampton. This is a place where I am expected to be messy. Yet, even here, at the end of each day, I find myself straightening the piles and tidying it up.

This is not the end of the day.

I have never considered myself as a tidy person in terms of my environment. The house is full of piles of books, odd socks, X-box games and the like in random places around the place. The mantelpiece is a mixture of cats in hats, which is hardly tidy and pleasing to the eye. But in my work environment, perhaps, although I allow mess to develop during the day, I need a sense of order (or at least a sense of order to me) to help calm my chaotic brain which is known to spill out with ideas and thoughts (like today – this is my second ‘weird thought’ of the day). If it gets too messy, I get jittery. On that note, I ought to tidy up my piles now.

Cats with hats are not tidy

So, Mrs Nichols, you were three quarters right. I do have a messy mind and mostly I do have a messy desk, but I have aspirations for a tidy desk and it is always tidy at the end of the day, at least it is now.

 

Why hearts and flowers in February fill me with rage

It is February, it is nearly Valentine’s Day and I feel the rage. I’ve just been to Waitrose in Newport. While at the till, waiting to take home my coffee, Sunday paper (both free) and a few essentials (not free) my eye caught a display of Valentine’s gifts and I felt a strange rage surge up in me. It was a passionate rage, ironically, but a rage nonetheless.

Why the rage? I hear you cry, dear reader. What can possibly be outrageous about hearts and flowers? I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day per se. I am a big fan of romance. It’s nice to spread the love now and then. The admirers from afar may need an excuse to show their love, hopeful perhaps, and if Valentine’s Day prompts that, then so be it. That can be very romantic and can end in joy (or tears perhaps). I approve. Even when love is requited, it can be nice to make the effort for a bit of romance. Romance, especially unexpected pockets of romance, is one of life’s little pleasures. We all love a bit of love.

However, despite my support for the day and what it stands for, every year I get cross at it too. I get cross at the forced nature of romance that comes along with Valentine’s Day, and I get even more cross at what ‘they’ think ‘we’ should be giving each other (our respective love interests) on this day: flowers, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, teddy bears and champagne. To me, that is not true romance. Flowers, chocolates and champagne are all nice but they are not what I consider the most romantic. As for teddy bears…

So on my scoot home I started to analyse why I felt such anger. After all, that’s quite a strong reaction and quite harsh. Why don’t I appreciate all the grand, traditional romantic gestures of  the day of St. Valentine? Is it the commercial aspect of the ‘chosen’ gifts? I think that is a big part of it. However, I think the rage goes deeper and to find out, I think I need to look back.

Blaaaaa

As I scooted past the second-hand book shop, a little reluctantly, I took myself back to my teenage years. Hitting puberty, I remember the coming of St. Valentine’s Day became a time of hopefulness and, naive optimism. Once I realised that boys were desirable in some way, I so very, very badly wanted a secret admirer to send me a card, put flowers in my locker, or leave some heart-shaped chocolates on my desk. From the age of around 11 onwards, I craved this and for some reason, thought it might actually happen. Each year, I woke up on February 14th hopeful, and went to bed disappointed. Sadly, it never happened. Not once. I didn’t get anything, not even a joke card, in the seven years from the age of 11 to 18. As each subsequent February 14th arrived, however, I hoped again, against the odds. I longed for there to be just one person, even someone I wouldn’t fancy back, to be walking along the corridors of Walton High School harbouring a secret crush on me. Sadly, as far as I am aware, and if the evidence of February 14th is anything to go  by, there never was such a person. How sad. Please don’t cry. It’s probably a good thing. I had other things to focus on and I was a bit of an ugly duckling at school. For 364 days of the year I accepted this duckling status and plodded on with life being geeky and arty. However, for one day a year, I became a total girl and craved that glimpse of romance. I would have been happy with heart-shaped chocolates, flowers or even, dare I say it now, a teddy bear. But it never happened. But it’s not all sad, as soon as I went to university things changed. My dream came true in the end. I got a card.

However, the memories of those seven years of pubescent disappointment still sting and I think that is the main reason why I feel such toxic rage at the profusion of red and pink, flowerly, soppy, vomity stuff in the shops at this time of year. I actually feel the urge to dive into it and have a toddler tantrum. Perhaps I should.

But perhaps I need to stop being so angry and just accept that the red and pink love does bring happiness to many, and it’s not so bad, with the exception of the teddy bears.

 

I am a lady, except in Facebook Messenger

Last night I had a weird thought about swearing. I’ve written about swearing before, about the fact that I don’t swear more than I did ten years ago yet everyone else seems to (or that is the impression I get). In fact, I don’t swear much at all. When I do let out the odd expletive, it is rarely a biggie. I am a middle-level word swearer and usually only when I am driving.

My children tell me off for saying ‘I can’t be arsed’. or ‘fart’. They are not normal. They tell me they never swear. I’ve never told them not to. They hate me swearing and they appear to hate swearing themselves. I never was a big swearer before I had them, in fact I haven’t changed. My ‘bad’ / ‘good’ habits have obviously rubbed off on them. I don’t object to swearing. I think it is completely normal. It doesn’t turn me on or off. It is just what it is. I have lots of friends who swear. This hasn’t changed me. Again, I don’t know why. I’m quite a susceptible person normally. I have some friends who swear big words. I even have some friends (you know who you are and I love you dearly) who swear the big words in every sentence. I’m not a very angry person so perhaps that is why I rarely swear. But I think that my swearing habits, for whatever reason, are incredibly moderate by 21st-century standards.

The crux of this weird thought is that so long as I’m not driving, I do swear when I type, particularly in Facebook Messenger. I don’t swear hugely often there, but I do swear much more often than I do in the real world. I type the odd ‘fuck’, or, because I am lazy ‘FFS’, or even ‘FML’. I also freely type ‘bloody hell’, ‘shit’ and perhaps ‘crappity crap’. I can be a complete potty mouth in Messenger. Why?

Message to my mum – no rude words here though

Why do I find it easier to spurt forth an expletive through my fingers than through my mouth? Is it because it doesn’t feel so bad if I can’t hear it? Is it because my children can’t see my typing? I’m not sure what the answer is. Swearing doesn’t come naturally to me, normally. It might be because I find written / typed communication far, far easier than spoken communication. The need to swear then must be in me. It just doesn’t use the same channel as it does for everyone else. This is all guess work. I don’t know why typing ‘shitty poo’ for me is easier than saying it.

Well all I can say to to this is I have no conclusion to this weird thought but I think I need to fucking swear more often, apparently it is healthy and a sign of intelligence and I could do with a better mental health and I am reasonably intelligent, most of the time, some of the time. Oh FFS FML!

 

The paradox of swapping identities

This morning, as I was waking up, I decided that I’d like to be a man for a week and I’d like to give a man the opportunity to be me for a week. I have always been at the mercy of my female hormonal fluctuations, and more so in the last few years, something which I find most irritating. It seems so unfair.

Lying in bed and thinking about this in the semi-darkness, I wondered whether men feel the same hormonal fluctuations as women obviously do. They don’t menstruate, but perhaps they still have emotional ‘periods’. A google of ‘Do men have periods?’ reveals some interesting thoughts on the matter. The Internet seems to think that they do. This may be psychological, perhaps from living with females who are going through their cycles, or it may be biological. I would need to do more in-depth research to find out (if only I had the time).

Google knows

So, with all this going through my mind, I decided that I’d like to spend some time inside a man’s identity and body, perhaps for a week, to find out first hand. Maybe I’d need a full month. In any case, as I am about to enter my worst hormonal week (the week before the decorators arrive) I thought that now would be a good time to do the experiment (if I can find a willing body).

I wonder if this man would consider swapping with me?

Besides all the interesting observations I could potentially make regarding how society treats ‘male’ vs ‘female’ and whether I’d remember to use the correct public toilet, to stand up to wee and how I’d cope with shaving (I think I’d just let it grow), a very important philosophical question came to me during the consideration of the idea.

To fully ‘feel’ the identity of a male I’d need to fully ‘be’ that male: mentally, emotionally and physically. So I’d need to adopt their self and abandon my ‘female’ self. If there is none of my own ‘self’ in the temporary body I exist in, the question arises: how can I rationalise the experience, analyse it, compare it, and view it from the perspective of my ego? Without my ego to observe, the experience is pointless. If I am fully the ‘man’ I am. Then I have nothing to compare the experience with. Returning to my own body and self, I would not be able to ‘remember’ the experience and put a perspective on it. Yet, if I were to retain some of my self while in the temporary male body, that part of my ego will effect how I act and how I be. I wouldn’t fully be that man. I’d be partly me. The experiment cannot work.

It has become a paradox. I can’t be me in another ‘me’ in order to be that other ‘me’. The scientific and practical impossibility of swapping bodies, emotions and metal states aside, it just could not happen.

That’s a great shame. I guess I’ll just have to weather the storm of the next few days in my own body and with my own emotional ego. I need chocolate.

Nature knows who has hairdressing talent and who doesn’t

This is today’s short weird thought. I’ve had three children. They were all boys. I have decided today that the reason that they were all boys is because nature knows that I don’t have any hairdressing talent.

I hope I don’t get a backlash of ‘don’t be so sexist!’ comments now. Please don’t. I’m not trying to be sexist. Boys, of course, sometimes prefer longer locks to shorter locks. Girls, of course, sometimes prefer shorter locks to longer locks (I did). However, percentage-wise, in the general population, not many boys like to sport bows, plaits, French plaits, Dutch plaits, English plaits, ponytails or buns. Some do, I don’t doubt that, but not many. My three boys have favoured short hair for most of their short lives to date. Two of them had lovely shaggy locks as toddlers (and looked adorable). But as they have matured, they have preferred to keep their hair short. I haven’t had to do anything to their hair over the years.

Back to the reason for this thought about nature and hairdressing skills. Last night I babysat overnight for two friends who have four girls (two sets of twins). I’m not used to looking after girls. Again, I’m not trying to be sexist. But all four of these girls have long hair. The eldest two are self-caring. So their hair was not an issue. The youngest two twins, aren’t. That was an issue. This morning I was tasked with ‘preparing their hair’ before dropping them off at school. There are three reasons why this task featured largely in my consciousness.

Firstly, the anticipation of this task brought me a low-level anxiety. Not enough anxiety to register on the anxiety scale but more than chilled with chocolate. Secondly, having me as a novelty babysitter meant that the two girls both had quite high expectations of what they could get away with hair-wise (one twin asked for two side plaits, the other requested one side plait, one side ponytail and a bun on the top with two bows). Thirdly, I’m not used to dressing hair. Mine is bobbed, it’s low maintenance.

When morning came, and everyone had been fed and dressed, I could not put off the task any longer, I had to ‘prepare the hair’. This task took me two attempts with one twin, and one with the other. We needed multiple hairbands, brushes, mirrors and bows. It took about 15 minutes I think all in all.

The result? Disaster. Utter disaster (in my opinion at least, they were happy). They both looked pretty odd. I’m hoping that the school, and their parents, will forgive me later. I’m currently lying low in Wolverhampton.

What I aspire to

So my struggles this morning had my neurons chundering over this topic as I drove to Wolverhampton after throwing the girls at education. Despite being an artist, am I just no good at hair? Are my creative talents firmly stuck in paint, pen and video? I think there is truth in this. I don’t like fiddling with hair, I don’t know why. There’s so much of it. It gets tangled. It catches in my rings. It doesn’t do as it is told. I just don’t like hair. It’s messy. It falls out. I’m clumsy. I’m inpatient. I’m not neat. All those things are not conducive to nice, tidy hair. If I am no good at hair, then is that the reason that nature gave me three boys? Yes. I think so.

I have sometimes longed for a girl-child of my own but in actual fact, I’m happy with my three boys. They are mine. I love them dearly, short hair and all.

My three boys

 

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