Monday, June 7, 2010

Eight things I'm loving in June

/8/ Things I can't blog. ~ In various forms and with various levels of enthusiasm, this blog has been around for six years now. So, in some way, it is a part of me. It is often how people know me -- not just how people get to know me, or come to be aware of my existence, but also how they form their vision of who I am and what I'm about.
I often describe it as a Google-searchable version of my memory. But, of course, what a person writes -- especially what a person writes about himself -- is not all he is. Additionally, the things I write about do not reflect all the things that happen in my life. Sometimes there is censoring, by myself or others. I will occasionally find myself in a conversation when suddenly the other person does his or her best serious face, loses all life in their voice and commands sternly: "Don't put this on your blog, Chris."
More often than not this command is given about something I have no interest in blogging anyway. Like the elicit affair of some guy who works in the same office as someone I know, or something equally not really at all that interesting to me due to its total lack of "me" element. When a story doesn't involve me, I am highly unlikely to tell it. If not simply because I don't feel I comprehend it well enough to do so.
But from time to time, there are these beautiful moments -- delightful, wonderful, and perhaps scandalous moments -- of which I am very much a part, moments in which I play a key role. And when a person looks me in the eye and says, "Don't blog me," I delight in it. I love those moments.
By definition, though, I can tell you nothing about them.
Creeks may or may not be involved.

/8/ Rubber tubing (a) ~ See above.

/8/ Not blogging ~ You'll notice things have been rather quiet on this site for a while. This post is more than a week late. Sometimes related to not being allowed to blog is the fact that life has become busy and interesting and enjoyable enough that I don't really have the time to write about it. As Annie once said: "Happiness writes in white."

/8/ Breakfast ~ It is, of course, the most important meal of the day. It is also a word that Dani doesn't like. She's not against the concept, just the word. I'm not sure why. But whatever the name, I have been taking joy in it. The pride of Hirwaun and I have taken to meeting regularly to share in that all-important first meal and I find it has the delightful effect of making life generally better. Often it's just toast and tea, but served with the full pomp of placemats, cloth napkins, real butter, jars of honey and lemon curd and chocolate spread, oranges, raisins, cream and tea in a tea pot kept warm with a Nepalese hat-turned tea cosy. I enjoy the ceremony, the ritual, and the conversation. It stays with me the rest of the day -- a soft hum of content providing a soundtrack to everything else.

/8/ The pride of Hirwaun's sneaky ways ~ Lisa has a habit of leaving little cheerful things in my house for me to find. Once, I was making breakfast and she went into my room to arrange all the coins on my dresser into a smiley face. The other day, I noticed a tiny heart made of beads tucked just next to the wine rack. She does these things without my noticing and says nothing about them; they are just there. Perhaps there is some other delightful thing hiding somewhere in my house right now. And needless to say, that's pretty wonderful: the thought that there is something lovely very nearby. It inspires a kind of optimism I would like to carry into other parts of my life.

/8/ Planning my trip to the United States ~ I suspect there are stages to being an American living in another country. When I first arrived in Britain I wanted to throw away my passport. I remember looking at a bin in Gatwick Airport and seriously considering it.
"Hmm, I won't ever be needing this again," I thought.
That mentality persisted for a while. I can remember thinking there was something wholly wrong with Jen when she told me a few years ago she was proud to be American. But she had been living abroad longer than me; she had moved on to another stage. It was a stage I started to move into last summer, amid my two-month road trip across the United States. By strategically avoiding 24-hour news networks and AM radio talk shows, I was able to see aspects of American life that I loved. A pride in my nation started to develop.
I haven't yet broken my habit of spelling certain words, like "favourite," with a "u," but since that trip I have found myself more willing to be identified as American. I don't try to hide my accent as much and I am no longer willing to throw away my U.S. passport. Stupid, arrogant, cruel, thuggish and overly conservative my people may be, but a part of me loves them. In a few weeks I will be visiting some of those Americans I love the most -- friends and family in Minnesota and Texas -- and I find myself almost teary-eyed in anticipation.

/8/ My neighbours ~ I renewed my lease this month, committing myself to at least six more months in the relative quiet of the CF5 post code. It's likely that in six months I will do the same again.
Every time I renew some part of me thinks perhaps I should be searching out a more interesting locale. Especially considering my having recently come to terms with the fact that, despite years and years and years of pining to live in the countryside, I, in fact, don't like the countryside. There's nothing to do there. I like the idea of the countryside -- I believe it should be preserved and not befouled with caravan parks and all the other shit that Wales seems too willing to permit -- and I quite like to visit from time to time, but I've realised I don't want to live there. After a few weeks I would just get angry.
So, having come to this revelation, doesn't it make sense that I should focus on living a more urban lifestyle? Arguably, Cardiff, regardless of neighbourhood, is too small for me; I should be living in Dublin or London or Boston or [name of large city with lots of things happening goes here]. But there aren't any bigger cities where Welsh speakers are to be found in such numbers, so here is where I'll remain. For a while; until I can find a way to compensate for my horrible life decision of becoming a Welsh-language writer. But accepting the fact I am becoming Cardiffian, it occurs to me I might enjoy the place more if I lived even closer to its centre, closer to more shops and cafes and pubs and so on.
But, see, that's not where my neighbours live.
If you live in a city, you live very close to other people. And in this city world renown for its drunkards, the issue of who I'd live next to weighs on my mind when considering a move. I find it difficult to believe I would luck out as much as I have with this house. How likely is it that other neighbours would have me as a guest for their Christmas dinner? Bring me lemon cupcakes when I'm blue? And dozens of other little things. Unless the Baldwins move, it seems pretty likely I'll keep renewing my lease.

/8/ My new MacBook ~ Yes, I know: I'm a tool. With my iPod and my iPhone and now my MacBook I am an undeniable member of the MacCult. Some part of me is angry at myself. I feel I have bought into the rhetoric; I worry I'm trying to adhere to a certain vision in my head of the person I want to be. Donal once joked he was incapable of being a good writer because he didn't have a jacket with elbow patches. In other words, we all have a tendency to create a character of the person we want to be and then foolishly buy into the need for the material items used by that character. It's especially bad for artistic types. That's why so many self-proclaimed writers have Moleskine notebooks. If Siân is feeling honest, she'll admit it's one of the reasons she doesn't want to leave Paris. Writers create characters. Even for themselves.
The vision of the writer I'd like to be is one who is highly mobile. I dream of being able to exist in any space, of being able to have a conversation in which a friend phones to ask if I'd like to come for dinner and I explain that I'd love to but I'm in Prague at the moment. It is my romanticised dream. Would it make my writing any better? Almost certainly not. Experience tells me I write best when locked into a spartan room with minimal sensory input. But still the romanticised vision of me persists. And, of course, that hip vagabond writer would need to possess the coolest tools. I want Mac products and leather satchels and a Volkswagen. So, I worry that I have let the idea of a MacBook charm me into purchasing a product that cost considerably more than another laptop of comparable memory/processing not because it is actually better but because it fits better with the image I want for myself.
But, oh, this little white electronic tidbit works so, so, so much better than the laptop it replaced. And I feel cool sitting here tapping away on its keys. I'm a tool, but a happy tool.

/8/ Sarah Peters' Twitter updates ~ Sarah, of Little Fluffy Cloud has a wickedly enjoyable sense of humour that often centres on grain-of-truth superficiality. I'm doing nothing other than stating the obvious when I say she is way-out-of-your-and-my-league attractive -- a fact that she herself would readily admit. The girl is hot and she knows it. But she often makes fun of herself, of the sort of stereotypical woman you might expect her to be. And she does so in an unapologetic way. One of my favourite examples comes from roughly two years ago when she found herself flying somewhere via Southwest Airlines, rather than her usual provider, Continental, of which she was an Elite Status frequent flier member. After explaining that her flight on Southwest had, in fact, been enjoyable she concluded: "So would I be an idiot to go back to Continental and my Blue Carpet status? Sure I would. But that won't stop me. At least I'll be an idiot with big tits."
Like most personal bloggers, Sarah has more or less given up blogging for the shorter, more user-friendly medium of Twitter. And she is brilliant at it. Here are some recent examples:
- "10 days 'till Memorial Day weekend on Lake Travis... guess I'd better start working out. And by working out I mean take laxatives."
- "Peters [her husband] just made me a fresh-squeezed OJ mimosa, and is now washing my car. Morning BJs really do work."
- "I love the smell of an Abercrombie store. It brings out the cougar in me."
It should probably be noted that Sarah is one of those bat-shit crazy Tea Party types. But if you can suffer that quirk occasionally rearing its ugly head in her updates, I encourage you to follow her.

a No, not really. This one is false.


Wierdo said...

Love to hear you sounding happy! Also, shouldn't this one be "seven things" as you cheated?!

Jenny said...

Making breakfast for girls who leave hearts around your house? How louche.

Chris Cope said...

Weirdo - There are eight things. The false one would be a ninth thing.

Jenny - I know. A scandalous thing is breakfast.

Wierdo said...


Get the mathematician with her counting...

Dani said...

I don't really hate the word breakfast. I was simply sick of hearing about it since I became the one responsible to feed all 24 kindergarten children in my classroom their first meal of the day.

If you have ever been to a restaurant with even one child, you know what a handful they can be. Imagine once.

I was just trying to block out the whole concept of "breakfast" from my mind.

But now it's summer. And I love breakfast again.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Oh god, I write in Moleskine notebooks and I'm going to buy an iMac later this year. Apparently I too am a tool.

Glad you got us caught up, though.

lfc said...

this is my favorite post ever. say more things like this.

Donal said...

I'm getting some elbow patches tattooed on my um, elbows. Lets see them try and stop me then.