Ode to Olly Alexander

Well, nothing’s gonna hurt me with my eyes shut

I can see through them
I can see through them
I am drawing pictures I’m evading
I will not use them
I will not use them
Again

 

Vocalist Olly Alexander, of the British electronica trio, Years and Years, has described his song ‘ Eyes Shut’  as “a personal torch song.”

“It came out of a very depressing time. I didn’t intend for it to be on the album, but we started doing it live with just me on the piano and people seem to respond to it.”

I respond to this song. It is musical perfection for me, compliments the life stage I find myself entering.

Over the last 6 months, I have attended events of significance. The passing of time marked by a school reunion, a milestone birthday.

At both events, I found myself in tears. Sobbing on the way home from one celebration, public display of emotions at another.

I was never one to show emotion. I kept so much in for so long. But I welcome this change.

Everything used to hurt as I strained to keep my eyes open, fearful that night terrors would be more painful than  the reality of drawn out days.

It was a Saturday night’s milestone birthday  I ‘ think’ I heard through the laughter, tears and general revelry, the voice of an angel, Olly Alexander.

What I think I heard, lead me to return to the band Years and Years music yesterday at work.

This continued at home, song after song warmed up the winter chills that cloaked Sydney.

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

‘Cause I wanna be bigger than life
For you
For you

Yet on Saturday night, as this splendid voice pierced the party atmosphere, my tears flowed.

Upon reflection, familiar faces at school reunions and milestone birthdays  have a tendency to bring the past cascading back. Such events remind me of the heaviness I carried around for decades that consumed my ability to see with clarity the possibilities in front of me.

Nights such as school reunions and milestone birthdays also help to reinforce that whilst confronting the past has and will continue to be painful, I am travelling in a new direction.

The tears will continue to flow – I can’t stop them – and I don’t want too.

But eyes shut, eyes open – I have arrived in the here and now.

Would Justin Timberlake’s Brittany Spears break-up inspired number ‘ Cry me a River’ have been a more appropriate song to pen these self revelations too?

No, Olly Alexander and his Years & Years comrades are just what I needed to delve a little deeper into the never-ending process of self discovery.

Voice of an angel, thank you xxx

Confessions of a Chronic Over Thinker

I’m quite enjoying the theme I have adopted for my 2017 blog posts – nostalgia.

It can be jarring to think just how many years have passed since I left high school, travelled overseas and lived independently for the first time, since I first I lost my first tooth, buried my first pet ( RIP Bruce the Budgie, 1988)

And yes, as the title suggests I have been a long-suffering over thinker. I suspect it first took hold in early primary school and crippled me way into my mid thirties. But to those in the grips of a will I or won’t I crisis – there is hope…I am living proof. Chronic over thinking can take a back seat and you can sit out days, months even years, experiencing life in the here and now, not some repetitive version of a story from the past, or  future.

But, and this is where it gets interesting, the life of a Chronic over thinker makes for good stories, good blog posts, good nostalgic writing – but do take note – I do not pine for version of myself that is evident in the tale I am about to tell.

It was 2002 and I was living in Edinburgh Scotland. I was working at a Pub on the Royal Mile, living in the staff quarters of a hostel ( ?) and surviving on a diet of cider, hot chips and backed potatoes. I was plump, I was happy.

On the rare occasion that I was not rostered on the weekend shift at the pub, I took it upon myself to book an overnight trip to the Scottish Highlands – visiting the towns of Aberdeen, Inverness, the famous Loch and hairy cow spotting.

I was travelling alone and don’t recall the nationality of the other tourists on the bus….it was not fully booked but I do recall one bus patron – Frank from Germany. Tall, good-looking and apparently, taken by me.

It so happened that the feeling was mutual. We paired up pretty quickly as bus buddies, took turns of taking solo tourist photos at all the hots spots and shared a pint or three that night.

Our connection was just plain sweet and at the conclusion of the two-day escapade, Frank asked me to join him on a day trip to St Andrews the following Monday.

We swapped mobile numbers and parted ways.

And then it started – the over thinking.

Whilst it was ALWAYS present on the Highland Tour,I had done my best to relax in his company, to lose myself in the crisp air and stunning natural beauty that surrounded me.

But apart I tortured myself at EVERY possible opportunity.

The story I told myself went along these lines –

  • What does he see in me? In a tour setting he was not able to see the real me, the flawed version, the true version.
  • A day trip to St Andrew –  a solo trip, just me and him, the real me with be revealed, he will hate me, I can’t ruin his day!!
  • What will we talk about?
  • What if he tries to kiss me, I am prone to recoil from intimacy in ALL forms….I’m a nutcase, I cannot let him see the real me.

Over and over and over and over….In the 48 hours till Monday, I embarked on this relentless campaign of self-critical chatter.

Monday came and I was right mess. I was panic-stricken, I had not slept, I was on edge and I could not be reasoned with. I felt it was unfair to send Frank a text, lying by saying I was sick and unable to attend the day trip.

So in my wisdom,  I decided to tell him person I was not coming…… I bolted across the Royal Mile, down to Princes Street and to the Bus Depot in my pyjamas and all-weather jacket. My bed hair was pulled back in a pony tail.

I guess I thought if I looked unprepared and unpresentable, Frank would understand why I was not getting on the bus.

I was wrong. Perhaps the language barrier was to blame – actually no, he spoke perfect English…..he just did not understand where the person, whose company he had truly enjoyed only a few days prior, had gone.

I was powerless to explain that either – for at that time in my life, I really had no coping mechanisms to manage my chronic, crippling over thinking ways.

And that my friends, is the end of that story.

I did not see Frank the German again.

He was a tall, handsome man who came into my life for but the briefest of moments in 2003.

And now in 2017, can I look back upon that time in my life and fully understand how I came to find myself in situations like that often. My tendency to over think absolutely EVERYTHING robbed me of so many opportunities to revel in the beauty of the here and now.

Not going to waste anymore time worrying about that!!!

2017 – The Year of the Nostalgic Post

I must be getting old if I am proposing that I spend 2017 writing nostalgic posts….

I have been struggling to find the will to write, yet over and over in my head swirl stories of my childhood, my angst ridden youth and early to late twenties. Holding onto the title of ‘ Late Thirties’ with a mixture of fear ( for sooner rather than later I will turn the Big Four Zero) and pride ( that I survived this long) …nostalgic posts for 2017 it is….these stories must be told.

I loved writing about South Coast Cafe Culture, my friend Clare and I and our shared desire for cafe latte in the early 1990’s.

Got me thinking about another ‘episode’ that occurred around the same time. This time the adventure was shared with my friend Steph. A plan devised that would see us embark on a bike ride school and thus avoid the dreaded school bus commute.

A leisurely start to the school day, the bike track would see us peddle a concrete path that was shared with fellow surfers, joggers and early morning walkers with dogs on leads. We would ride coast side, passing pristine beaches Thirroul, Bulli, Woonona and turn off at Bellambi beach, heading inland to school.

As a somewhat reformed chronic over thinker, I would have planned this bike ride escapade to school for days, weeks, even months before the ‘ big day’. Before I actually enlisted Steph join me….which I would have agonised over too (Would she want to ride with me?! Would she feel like it? Did she even like riding? Did she own a bike? Would she rather roller blade of god forbid catch the bus?!)

I would have researched the weather forecast, studied the school timetable to ensure we would be wearing our sports uniform (not an easy task as we were in different year levels, with differing timetables) , planned the ride on a day when I was not scheduled to wash my hair, on a day that I did not have to carry my Visual Art A3 diary, my chefs knife kit etc etc etc.

The day eventually arrived…not to the sound of trumpets blaring and cannons firing, I simply got up.

Steph had said yes.

The sun shone, and our white and maroon sports uniform made it easy to peddle the distance.

We road past Thirroul, Bulli, Woonona and turned off at Bellambi Beach, heading inland to school.

The afternoon ride home….

I had not planned for this

My bike peddle fell off

‘ Its ok Steph, I can still ride’ I whimpered as I tried to keep my bike upright, one leg on the ground to keep my balance, as the other leg attempted to circle the intact pedal round and round.

This spectacle caught the attention of my High School Sports Teacher.

Because to all who saw me – it was clear I was not going anywhere.

Bike was placed into the back of a four-wheel drive, I was encouraged to sit in the front seat and I was driven home, red-faced and embarrassed.

Steph, free as a bird, continued the solo to ride home, along the bike track, Bellambi, Woonona, Bulli and alighting at Thirroul.

In all the over thinking, over planning and general worrying about a simple bike ride to school – I had not factored ‘ Pedal Gate’ into the equation!

As a gesture of thanks and gratitude to my saviour, Mr High School Sports Teacher, a lottery ticket was purchased.

As for me and bike riding to school – it was a once only affair, and half-hearted at best.

It would seem that I still had much over thinking, over planning and general worrying to do in my teens, early and mid twenties and, yes, my thirties to ever get back on my bike and ride to school!

The joys of being a chronic ( somewhat reformed) over thinker

Plenty more stories to come…..

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