Archive for the ‘success’ Category
Prompt for April 7th
She was from the valleys.
That made her small town
but she had big ideas.
Trouble is, when you’re born in the valleys,
it’s tough to shake it off.
She never really made of her life
what she had wished for so hard.
When I moved away,
to a warm Mediterranean island,
I learned that here,
‘the valleys’ translated as ‘village’ .
‘She’s so village,’ they might whisper
about a less popular girl,
including me in their precious clique.
‘But so am I,’ I thought,
at my roots.
Because however high
my grandmother climbed,
she was very village too.
I have signed up for the Wordxword Festival April 1-30 poetry challenge where we are sent a prompt a day for 30 days and are challenged to write a poem. Here is day 1 -, bit of a rush as I spent most of yesterday driving to Cornwall.
Prompt for April 1 – -from start to finish
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut
I was born with wings
But nobody encouraged me to use them.
Instead, rather politely
We were to shuffle along ledges
our plumage catching the sunlight.
Mine did, somedays when I hadn’t even stretched.
One day I was pushed.
I found I could not fly,
I had forgotten I had wings at all,
But I could glide.
And that’s what saved me.
There were swans flying over the motorway as huge as gliding jets.
Sudden reminder that nature belongs more than we do,
with our outlandish modes of transportation.
They flying ‘as the crow’ and us having to follow roads.
They seemed magnified, and out of scale
with the stuff that went below.
Thoughts of mating for life, swan song
come to mind
and leave me thinking even more
I am not for this world
I cannot glide.
Another starting point for a poem
And so I find myself on Day 1 of The Holidays. Eight weeks stretch before me. A tatty, untidy, rather grubby house surrounds me. An unpublished novel and unanswered mail wink at me from a pile on what we laughingly call ‘the dining room table’.
I was woken by a solitary magpie doing sentry duty across the skylight at gods know what time (watch strap broken, not wearing watch, must get new strap). In the street I can hear the deafening tinkle of glass being hurled into the bin truck by the recycling men (quick, put bin and glass box out before they get to us).
The phone rings, it is school: can Tall Boy and Lovely J please return their text books today or tomorrow or their results will not be released (don’t be ridiculous! They can’t NOT give results because a few text books are due – YAWN – school never changes, empty threats about nonsense whilst the bullies and cheats go unchallenged).
There is a strange odour coming from under the floorboards, reminiscent of last year when the soil pipe cracked and leaked under us. Please let it not be the same again!
The blue Ikea bags full of ‘to do/to sort’ seem to have multiplied. Tall Boy appears in boxers, his head banging into the paper-sphere light shade (which I keep promising I will change to spare him the indignity of it falling onto his head every time he passes and knocks it) – ‘anything for breakfast?’
Eight weeks? I can get it ALL done in eight weeks can’t I? Get novel published, finish second one, tidy house, paint house, get first year accounts sorted and tax done, MOT car, swap it for bigger one, go on Arvon course, go to Wales for ‘holiday’, keep on top of allotment, rebuild rabbit hutch, phew!
Well here we are – some, not all of us. Our old school building is now home to the junior school and the head teacher had kindly opened up to let us have a wander round for an hour or so. Some of us found our way back to the old rose garden and we took a few photos on the bench. We wandered around the old grounds and marvelled at how we were expected to play rounders on such a steep hill.
I had not returned with trepidation at all, but it is fair to say that some of the girls had. Whilst I was happily drifting through my school years (well not happily all of the time, obviously, a good helping of teenage anxst too) some of my fellow pupils were agonising over home, school, exams, life in general. My demons were well and truly dealt with as they appeared, for others they lay in wait within the walls of the old school building. That aside – we had a massive turn out and the general concensus seemed to be that it was a good day. A fair amount of verbal teacher bashing went on, although some were very fondly remembered. Frau F the German teacher joined us for lunch and she was just like one of the girls. She, along with one of my school friends who is now Director of Public Health for a health authority, helped form my vaguely feminist/political ideals. Frau F’s oral lessons often comprised of translating the Guardian Women’s page into German – I thank her for that!
The day went all too quickly, but was exhausting. We hope to meet up in London sometimes to have another catching-up session. The general topic tended to be ‘you haven’t changed at all.’ The most remarkable thing for me was to discover that for the most part we slipped straight back into our school girl roles from 25 years before and that despite the years it was really as if we had only been apart for a few months. Some of the friendships I formed then have never been equalled since and I sincerely hope that this time I don’t let them slip away.
And how about that thing ‘success’? The main topic was family or partners, whether we were settled after all these years – quite a few girls have packed in the high powered jobs and started new ventures, a dress shop, art degree, homeopathy, pure and simple parenting, even the ‘oldest holiday rep in England’ and the Lovely J-A, our old head girl, has packed it all in to be a writer so I hope to rekindle that friendship and have some long talks with her. Writing? Have I done any? Not for weeks.
I’ve just returned from a rare night out. It’s been a long while – it used to be a weekly occurrence but the unexpected arrival of Curly Boy four years ago seems to have put paid to that, along with evening lectures and tutorials for the past two years. Anyway The Lovely Julie and I managed one glass of wine in a local bar, then headed for the Co-op, bought some milk and went back to her house for coffee.
Far more civilised sitting on her couch putting the world to rights than sitting in a crowded bar. I told her about the impending school reunion and how excited I am about it – which lead us on to success.
So what is success? Is it the house, the career, the children? Do I consider family to be a mark of success because I have one and dismiss money because I have none? If I considered financial security a mark of success would I have heeded my mother’s words and chosen a career with a good pension? It’s all well and good to say that J-A (see Lost Girls) and I have ended up in the same position despite our differing paths, but won’t her financial position make it easier for her to concentrate on writing? Whilst I am juggling 0% cards and electricity suppliers, shopping in ALDI and Farm Foods to beat the big supermarkets at their game, she will be calmly writing a best seller. Or, has my ‘disparate’ past as she called it, given me the edge needed to write something from the heart?
The Lovely Julie says that success is contentment and that if for a milli-second you are privileged enough to feel the ‘ahhh’ – that is success. This could be whilst reading the papers in bed, sitting round a clutter-free table for a rare meal where the whole family is in attendance, eating a pie, making a pie..
I would love to know what prompts your rare moments of ‘ahhh’.