Monthly Archives: May 2012

#152 ~ Stepping into the Spool

I began University with an arrogance. The protagonist in my own self-inflicted tragedy, my A-level grades formed a part of the hubris that set me on a trajectory for rapid disappointment. The arrogance that breeds when one’s ego is gently and regularly massaged doesn’t help to prepare one to learn. It helps to prepare one to be audacious in thinking they are Stevie’s Misstra Know-it-All.

The ego grows a brittle shell-like skin, fragile at the gentle crack of a reproof, comment of improvement, or just down-right criticism. The yolk of self-confidence dribbles out, messy, unsightly, premature without form. If someone doesn’t care enough or isn’t fast enough to catch it, the melee of yellow and white fluids congeal and drizzle onto the kitchen floor, to be mashed, squished, and pressed into the faint cracks that line the grime covered tiles.

Yet, that calcified shell needs to be cracked in order for the nutrients, the potential for either life, or a well fried egg, to be born. The hubris that would led to one’s harmatia needs to be corroded away through the gruelling process of real teaching, in order to, one day, after many spillages, premature bursts and half-boiled constructions, be mixed with the milk of maturity, seasoned with the salt of humility and filled with the mushrooms, cheese, peppers and meats of critical potential, to produce a humble, delightful, inspirational student who wants to learn, and therefore, one day, will be able to teach.

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#151 ~ Season of Slow Growth

In the beginning the lungs began to hyperventilate before the call was made. Before the joints even flexed, muscles seized and lactic acid pooled spontaneously into the blood stream. Shoulders stretched taut, and the worry vein clawed into the perspiring skin, all before the gun was shot. Capillaries began to drool blood like a baby being burped, and the intestines still rose and fell, like a car jerking round a motorway swerve.

The pain mounted an attack during the peace period, dreams turned into simulators defiantly blurring the lines in their increasing verisimilitude.

That was in the beginning.

As the elephant sidles over to the bore hole, each year glancing at its wrinkled reflection, counting and re-counting the ravine like grooves etched into it’s tough skin; the tusks that protrude from closed lips inch forward, desperate for a drink. It is a slow period of growth, fermentation, the temperatures just right, not to be overripe or rotten, but comfortably wedged between the bottom and the top, a sandwich of perfect measurements.

And in the slow growth of time, when memory is still difficult to distil from the present, one notices –

The lungs barely had to inflate after the call was made.

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#149 ~ Wander

And so i wandered. Not lonely as a cloud, formless and ephemeral, to be filled with condensation and the sky’s perspiration, but as a silent body. I sifted through the folds of soothing summer air, that spread their limbs and enfolded me, drawing me into the intimate vortex, covered and condensed. The arching muscles in my shoed feet soon curled around the scatterings of gravel, the fine dust lacing sandstone hands into the crevasses of hardened skin.

I wandered, a silent being free from the Noise. The sounds of chattering and laughing, questions, music, texts and calls, messages, notifications, car horns and cat-calls. I folded myself in two, wrapped my legs close to my chest and moved, quietly, between the folds of the night.

It was a soft kiss that grazed my lips, as the wind caressed me, gently. Alone, enveloped in the womb, free from time and constraints. I was struck once again by the beauty of its paths, the magnitude of its buildings and manicured lawns. The history that called, beckoned before withdrawing into the recess of time, the quiet time, the silent time.

I remembered once more, how beautiful it was before I clouded its translucent visage with fears, anger, resentment, shouting and Noise.

And then I yearned to see you at the break of dawn.

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#148 ~ Slow Jam

Slow jam. A soft bounce, a one, two. Bend the knees, and slow jam to your own internal beat. Take a step outside and slow bounce to your own rhythm, feeling the air breeze through your fine hair, slow, steady peace, in time. Slow jam to the sound of your own internal rhyme.

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#147 ~ Escape

It’s a claustrophobic, suffocating, mass of non-entities that consume the space in which you live. You have to make small talk, confronting your own fears as you pass by the mirror plastered to the staircase wall. Your normally dexterous vocabulary has shrunk, until it consists solely of words relating to exams, and slyly, tucked underneath, but writhing and wriggling all the time, are your insecurities and fears.

Except insecurity has become a fashionable accessory to wear once success is validated, like an accepted PIN. You work so hard to achieve the grades to get to where you need to go, yet when you get there, suddenly you can neither admit, nor accept your talent, your abilities, your skills. Instead they hide behind a mask of humility which corrodes into insecurity, until you forget your abilities. Then the stalemate point arises. In retrospect you realise part of the peace you feel, is not an assurance that you’ve done enough, are prepared enough, and confident (just) enough, to enter into these exams, but the self-deprecating assumption that you have already failed, that trying now will have little or no impact.

Shame covers you. Shame at your complaisance. Shame at your denial. Shame at the you who is shaking their head from a year ago.

Why do we allow ourselves mock-humility? Why do we think it’s audaciously outrageous to admit what we are good at. Not in a selfish or proud way, but in a simple fact; just like the colour of our hair and eyes are simple facts.

No.

We shy away, and inevitably hide away our talents and skills.

Morose. Jealous at those who have recognised their ability to gain a first and courageous enough to claim it, and their worth.

Escape. From the banalities of it all. The lies, the deceits, the fears.

When we look back in a few years, we’ll realise there was freedom before the doubt began all over again in the form of careers.

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#146 ~ Female Genital Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting is defined by the World Health Organisation as the total or partial removal of external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for a non-medical reason. It is a procedure that can occur recently after birth of just before puberty, often without anaesthetics but with a traditional circumcision knife or razor. Occurring in over 26 countries predominantly in North-east Africa, were 92million women are expected to have been affected, it is also prominent in parts of the Middle East, and North America, Australasia and European immigrant communities.

FGM is a process that some cultures administer in the attempts to reduce a woman’s libido and reduce promiscuity. This can be to ensure familial honour, and also reduce the spreading of disease. Historically it has ben condoned to insure female chastity and prevent adultery. This is because the pain of penetration is so great, that the act of sex stops being something to enjoy and becomes a violent, at times excruciating experience which can be magnified in childbirth.

Circumcision is practiced within the three Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) although it is not a precept of any of the faiths, and rather an incorporation of older cultural ideologies into modern social norms. Judaism endorses male circumcision, the removal of the foreskin, but not female. Some Islamic scholars have declared FGM neither an obligation nor a part of the faith, even condemning it to criminal status that has resulted in fatwas being declared on those who’ve practiced it.

There are four types of removal that can occur in FGM.

The first and second involve the removal of the clitoris and sometimes the labia. The third involves removal of all external genitalia. In order for this to heal, the girl’s legs are tied together for forty days. Consider the pain, discomfort and UTI’s that will occur during this period as she attempts to urinate. A hole, which can be as small as a matchstick,  remains for the menstrual blood and urine to exit as the scar tissue that forms is so prolific. The vulva, is then cut open for childbirth and intercourse. Fatal haemorrhaging can occur during childbirth and often results in death. Sometimes the scar tissue and the keloids that form are so thick, penetration cannot occur. In order to enable the penis to fit, over a range of days the scar tissue is cut away until a large enough hole is created. Sometimes scalpels have broken in this process. The fourth type of FGM includes ceremonial cutting of the clitoris which occurs in Indonesia, burning or stretching the labia, and even the forced removal of the hymen.

The cutting devices are rarely sterilised, the process done without anaesthetic and without the child’s consent. I wish to stress the point that this procedure is taken out on children, either immediately after birth, or before they reach puberty, so around the age of nine or so. STI’s as well as UTI’s can be transmitted, and extreme bleeding is common. Cysts may form later in life, as well as severe keloid scarring. Sometimes the cutting required to create a hole for menstrual blood and urine can lead to a joining of the anal hole, causing faeces to seep into the vagina. A higher percentage of women die in childbirth.

An estimated 500 British girls will be circumcised this summer. Stoicism is expected. The women of the family and community come to hold the girl down. They can’t tell they’re having periods. With nowhere to go, the blood is sitting in their bodies. Many women are now infertile. It’s not done out of hate or religion, but a wrong concept of religion and chastity.

Recent reports have confirmed that cutters are being flown into Britain to ‘administer’ FGM. No-one has ever been charged in the UK. Some women desire for gynaecologists to be in airports to check and therefore enable prosecution.

This post is ending here because I’m too distressed to continue. Below are links to further your research into this issue.

Home Office Information

FORWARD: Charity for the prevention of FGM

Article by the Guardian and a Video of FGM ‘survivors” speaking out about the issue. 

A Silent Circumcision 

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