Tag Archives: Life

42 or the meaning of life: Part One

My first stark image of the day would have to be the nuthatch I spotted whilst cycling to work, after having dropped off my boy at school.

‘Fall Colors Nuthatch’ by Lara Ellis

In what way is a nuthatch symbolic? Well, we have to go way back, back around 32 years in fact to Mark as a mere ten year old, fascinated by animals and, with his grandmother’s guidance, learning about the animal world through books and forays into the local area.

The guidance was not so much hands-on as spiritual, based on the fact that my grandmother was bed-ridden at this time, a result of being diagnosed with TB when she was just three years old. At that time, the solution was that the patient should get as much bed rest as possible, a total contradicton to today’s advice. My grandmother was ill her entire life, using a walking stick in my early years, a wheelchair from my being about five or six and becoming confined to bed, with frequent stays in the hospital, as I turned ten, finally dying at 49, when I was only twelve years old.

However, she remains a massive influence in my life, governing certain decisions I make today and responsible for many of my life values (for good or ill).

On a grey day in Burnley, at ten years old, I asked my mother if I could buy a print, which depicted a nuthatch on a tree. It cost £5.00 and my mother thought I could spend my money on something more reasonable for a boy my age, like Lego, for example.

But I was determined and not suprisingly when I returned home with my prize (bought with my own spending money, I might add), my grandmother naturally loved it. It went up on my wall the same day and remained with me for many years before going the same way as much of my stuff when I was foolish enough to store several boxes in our damp, dark cellar, whilst I travelled around the world.

So the nuthatch was a symbol on this day, my meaning of life day, when it reminded me of my grandmother and all that she gave me, still gives me and how I can never truly thank her for it all.


Walking and Listening

Today I’m having one of those days, mainly due to the fact that I had a very restless night last night. I am aware of having at least two nightmares, both of which involved me not looking out for my children and both of which had me reacting angrily to myself after the event.

I put it down to the fact that I am subconsciously dwelling on this ‘life’ question, although I’m not entirely sure why I am dwelling on it or to what end. I have always had an interest in the topic but never really thought about it as much as I’m doing at the moment.

I blame Douglas Adams in part. This, due to the fact that I am re-reading his ‘Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ “trilogy”, as a consequence of turning 42 next month and the relationship to that number and the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I also blame Wax Tailor and Archive for their wonderful albums ‘Dusty Rainbow from the Dark’ and ‘With Us Until You’re Dead’, which have both focused on the meaning of life and our roles in the great scheme of things in different ways.

Dusty Rainbow from the Dark

I had three lessons today and was a little apprehensive before all of them, not for any other reason than my lack of sleep last night, certainly not anything to do with lesson planning or the groups themselves, just that something felt “off”, out of place, displaced, disjointed.

Lack of sleep can do that.

Last night I continued my walking and listening sessions with a trip to one of biggest supermarkets in town, not the most scenic route but a productive one. The walk there was much easier, due to the fact that I had a rucksack filled with about 30 kilos of shopping on the way back (maybe not 30 but quite a bit).

My music choice was a bit of a mix: some EL-P, some Lecrae, some Wax Tailor (see above) before finishing of with Museum. A nice mix and a nice walk.

Today should be floorball (innebandy) but I just don’t feel like it, my energy levels are so low. Sometimes you just have to accept the fact that it’s not the right day/time.

I think tonight I just want to spend time with the kids before trying to get myself an early night.

What he hears in the dark

Twice today I managed to force myself on my new(ish) health program – the magic of walking. I suppose it is power walking of a sort, as I get my running gear on, pick an album to pop on the MP3 player (just now my mobile phone) and set off, walking as fast as a can for as long as I feel like (around an hour).

Tonight was a walk around one of our areas of scenic beauty in Norrköping, Strömmen (translated directly it’s the stream but it’s a bit bigger than that) in the dark. I realised, once I’d left the lit area, that I was getting a little nervous. It reminded me the stark contrast to when I walked through the park home in Burnley in my early teens, totally oblivious to the real dangers in the area (preferring to worry about witches and the like). In years since I have read about abuse, murder, rape and the like in the stretch between Burnley’s town centre and my family home.

And I’m back on the life is short, life is fleeting, what’s it all mean pondering. I mean, when I started planning my ‘meaning of life’ party this year (as I turn 42), I wasn’t aware just how much of a mid-life crisis I’d put myself through. I suppose at least that means that I’ll live to 84 now instead of 70 (seeing as I had a mid-life crisis party 2005.)

But the walking feels more my thing at the moment, being as the music really inspires me and I also realised today I can walk pretty rapid when I feel like it (especially when it’s dark…).

The album of choice today was Archive and With Us Until You’re Dead and it’s already a classic – I leave you with the first single from the album: Violently

Audrey and her grandmother would have gotten on

Today was one of those days that I thought a little about unfairness.

Basically, I spend a lot of time reminding myself that even though I don’t really believe that everything happens for a reason (I used to) or that after a really terrible thing comes a good thing (I used to), I do believe that you have to get on and make the best of what you have. Call it the stiff British upper lip, if you will, I tend to sway on the side of the overwhelming realisations that life is so fleeting and so fragile that if you don’t get on with it you’re a bit of a fool.

Anyway, today was a day where I felt an ache that my mother never met any of my three children but especially Audrey.

We were in town doing some errands and I asked her if she wanted to come for a coffee break with her daddy. A double cappuccino and a chocolate biscotti for me and a glass of water and a coconut ball for Audrey and we were set. As we sat and chatted I became aware of just how much a people watcher Audrey is before her comments started about how nice that girl’s plaits were and how much she liked that woman’s jumper and how that other woman looked like her auntie Vivianne.

And the more I sat and listened, the more I realised that had my mother been sat there with her, they would have both been in their element, comparing the people coming in, discussing hairstyles and clothing and so on.

Fairness is relative, but today I felt unjustly served.

Father’s Day or A Tale of Two Worlds

Up until 2006, Father’s Day had absolutely no significance to me, as I had no children of my own and I’d never met my father. My mother married my stepfather in 1989 but we pretty much never saw eye-to-eye from day one and so there was no real endeavour on my part to celebrate the day for his benefit. I’m sure I was asked to buy a pair of socks for him by my mother a couple of times, and I’m sure I did a couple of times too. Doing something for your mother on Father’s Day doesn’t really count though does it?

And then came 2006 and Maddoc was born, giving Father’s Day a whole new meaning.

In Sweden, Father’s Day is the second Sunday in November, but I stated from the beginning that I wanted to be celebrated on the English day. This is for two reasons: the first was that I’m English, and it feels like the proper day to celebrate, especially seeing as it wasn’t celebrated in my family before and also due to the fact that my Birthday is 13th November (calendars out people), meaning I would have to have my two special days around the same time (possibly even the same day). That will not do.

An ironic twist today is that my son, Maddoc, has been invited to a Birthday party on my special day. Ironic in that most Birthday parties he attends are on a Saturday and also because the father of the Birthday boy is also English. Maybe he prefers celebrating the Swedish day…

So here I am with Audrey, my daughter, who has repeatedly stated she wants to do her own thing, rather than go out and do things with Daddy. That is fine, she’s only three after all and has not understood the concept of the day. She is merely taking advantage of a rare moment home without her brother, where she can play with the Lego and not be told she’s doing it all wrong…;-)

It’s days like this I’m reminded of the immense responsibility of being a parent, especially a father, in terms of the fact that I never had a father myself and because this is the last Father’s Day I am the father of two. Having never met my own father, I was informed last year that he’d actually died, putting pay to that ever happening. Was I regretful that I’d never tracked him down, that we’d never discussed why he left, why he wasn’t prepared to take the responsibility he helped create? No. I struggle to feel any strong emotions, due to the fact that I never met him, that I only ever saw one photograph of him, that I only heard about him from others.

Blood is thicker than water, is an expression that has never meant anything to me. I believe that family members deserve more chances when they have wronged you but only to a certain extent. Maybe the expression does hold then, just that it is not a given. I have relatives that have said the most hurtful things to me and later acted as though nothing was said. I am a Scorpio and we do hold grudges. I have tried to be more forgiving of others (and myself) over recent years but changing the spots takes time, a whole lot of willpower and the desire.

So today is a day I celebrate the fact that I am a father, that I continue to be an active father to my children, to help them in their lives, as much as I can, as much as they need. It’s a day to reflect on what I have done for them so far, what I’ve done well and where I can improve. I’m helping them through life but they are also helping me, they are making me a better person and for that I am truly grateful.

The son to the father? That’s a role another can play, a role that was denied to me, a role beyond my grasp. We cannot be everything to everyone. Father is a role I’ll happily play. Be. Enjoy.

Maddoc and I decided today that he will call me ‘Dad’. Audrey will continue to call me ‘Daddy’. Until the end of July they are the only ones that can call me this. This is one of the reasons why I don’t want them to call me Mark. That is a name for others, not them, it’s not because it’s a sign of respect, some old conservative view, it’s that it’s their priviledge.

Happy Father’s Day to those fathers celebrating today.

Stage one of the nothingness

Decided to update here and then realised I have about five minutes before I go and pick up the boy. We are off for a mundane shopping trip and then to do whatever he wants to before bed. I’m looking forward to this as this will be the best part of the day.

I don’t get it, I have a pretty swish looking business, a wife I adore, a son who makes my day so often and some lovely friends around me. In terms of where you should be in life, I’m looking pretty good, as my best friend said, ‘you’re living the dream Mark’.

Cool, so why do I feel so fucking empty?

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m not happy, I’m not rolling with it, I’m just attaching myself to all the stuff that has gone wrong recently and focusing on that. I want to say, ‘just concentrate on the good stuff’ of which there is masses and I know you would say the same.

But I’m not. I need to think long and hard about where I’m going and what the bloody hell I want. I have a baby on the way in three weeks and I don’t want to become a father again whilst like this. Hell I don’t want Etina and Maddoc to have to deal with me like this either.

Right, off to pick the heir up, I hope to continue this later, as much for me as for you…

A couple of days I could have done without

It’s weird because work-wise things have been going well for me so it was maybe time that the personal had to have a kick.

A couple of you were asking where I was last night and I’d sort of had enough. I called a friend (as promised) and then watched an episode of Stargate SG-1. I’m not that impressed just now but am told it will get better. I think I’m looking out for something close to BSG and this (and Farscape) come nowhere near at all.

Anyway, what’s been going on then?

Well we found out earlier in the week that the murderer has actually appealed to the high court. His appeal was rejected on the grounds that he was too late but he has appealed that and so there is a chance that there will be a third and final trial. That’s not actually the problem, as I would prefer that it went to a third trial as there is no way he is getting off, meaning he can only get what he already has (ten years) or get life, which he was so close to getting last time.

No, the problem is that the Deniz family’s lawyer didn’t think it was worth mentioning that he’d appealed, because that’s not what you need to do as a lawyer is it? It was only because Etina’s sister had to contact the court regarding another matter that we found out.

The second was when Etina contacted the Assyrian TV channel to ask why they have taken so long sending us the DVD of Fuat’s funeral that they promised. The deal was that they were allowed to film the ceremony as long as we received it afterwards. The news she got was disturbing to say the least when they informed her that Fuat’s widow had already been sent the DVD a couple of months ago. When we discussed the DVD with Runa, before the funeral, she said that we could do whatever, as she wasn’t interested.

Her memories are not photos or DVDs, as she tends to remember them her way [insert 3 hour speech here about how she remembers] but now has taken the DVD and refuses to give it to us (or do us a copy) as punishment for Etina and her father for lying to her.

Basically she hated the family before Fuat’s death and she hates us much more now. She has always had a problem with the culture, which I understand, but the way she goes about it is vile.

We went to the hospital to check on baby and baby seems fine but for the fact I had to take a sample in this morning for testing, as they think Etina has an infection. This is something that could affect baby. They didn’t act too concerned about it but you can’t help but worry and the journey home was a little more sombre than usual.

My toughest moment was just after we’d got in and the midwife said to Etina “Are you stressed?” and Etina nodded. She then asked “Are you often stressed?” and Etina said “Yes.” She’s much better now than she was when we met but it still pains me that she has not been able to calm down, especially when she needs to.

I have a few things I need to do work-wise today but I can’t seem to get motivated.

Stuff going on on a Wednesday

Thanks to all comments and mails and such yesterday, was much appreciated and put a smile on my face!

And so recent changes in lifestyle have resulted in me reading at a much faster pace and being able to watch a few films and DVDs in the to-watch pile.

I watched Down by Law finally on Monday and am annoyed at how it could have taken me this long to see it, ever since we were refused entry to a Barcelona art house cinema for turning up late nine years ago it has been on my mind.

Jarmusch is on top form, as usual, and the dynamics between Tom Waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni is sublime. For those interested in characterisation the film is a must. I also have Night on Earth waiting and I’m ashamed I haven’t seen this yet either. I will, I will.

I’ve been watching Planet Earth too and it’s a majestic documentary series. Having been a fan of Attenborough for many years (Wildlife on One, Life on Earth) I have only come to this late, due to the series being dubbed into Swedish upon its arrival on these shores.

I have no problem listening to Swedish, it being a fine language, but as a replacement for David on a natural history documentary – I’m sorry it’s just so wrong it smells of wrongness.

Big news over at Morrigan Books today, you bored yet? *winks*

I also got one of the coolest reviews of my short Corvus ever yesterday. Mike Stone, rather well respected author himself said:

"I immediately read Corvus, and **** me, Mark, you can write!"

He sounds shocked there, when I think about it but he claims that was not what he meant…

I asked if I could use his name on the quote and he went and hit me with another compliment, comparing it to Garry Kilworth, one his heroes and a damn fine writer!

I’ve also been doing some editing for some rather fine stories being sent to various places, and have been working on a couple of pieces myself that I had thought overdue on the publications.

It’s looking good, there is much to smile about today!

Self-indulgent post alert

Meaning I should go for some LJ cut love and spare you all…

Well I could say it’s over now, as the final debt has been paid and I am now free of the bind of Eneit Press.

It’s not though.

It’s not because I feel betrayed, I feel used and I feel let down. It’s not the money that has been the underlying problem here but that fact that at no time during this six month hell as she ever said sorry for what she’s done, sorry for making me start again in January, sorry for taking my trilogy idea as her own, sorry for making me go through so much unnecessary work, when in truth I should have been helping Etina out.

No, it’s just been me that’s been hard work, me that should apologise for being cheeky enough to ask for my money (not even a loan, as we never agreed that I would lend money), me that has resorted to bully tactics to get the money back and put this behind me.

I was galled to read that she still considered me a friend – how can she say these things, she’s made my life a bloody misery for the last few months and now wants us to go back to normal. I don’t think I’d even let a family member get away with this level of disrespect, let alone a friend!

I may look at this with forgiving eyes in the future but for now I am filled with anger – I just need to put this behind me, as soon as I possibly can – part of the reason I’m writing this for you, my core group, a little therapy session.

My two thoughts that keep recurring are big ones that I need to bear in mind:

The first is that if it wasn’t for this whole mess, I wouldn’t have

at Morrigan Books, and she has been a godsend, so much support and hard work and I don’t know where I’d be without her.

The other is that I have decided to see the first six months of this year as the aftermath of the loss of Fuat and the breakdown of Eneit Press – September sees three Morrigan Books releases and October sees my new baby, how can those not make me smile.

I’m having a very down couple of days but I will be back – I promise!