All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Not to memory, but to dream

Way back in the distant past, in 2001 to be precise, I was nonchalantly browsing the books of a Cancer Council charity shop in Inverness. Various titles jumped out at me, various authors who were familiar to me made their presence known, but none more so than Charles de Lint. For there, sitting on the shelf, was a dog-eared, moth-eaten book entitled ‘Memory and Dream’. I had never read any de Lint, but I knew of him, my friend Deborah, who I’d met whilst long-terming in a backpacker hostel throughout the winter of 1999/2000, had recommended him to me on many occasions. But I’d never had the chance to read his work. None of the bookshops in Inverness carried his art, and at this time in life, few people shopped online as the internet was only beginning to take hold in people’s lives. So, in memory of our friendship, I paid the 50p for ‘Memory and Dream’ and popped the book into my backpack.

“The stronger a woman gets, the more insecure the men in her life feel. It doesn’t work that way for a woman. We celebrate strength–in our partners as well as in ourselves.”

Later that night, as it was quiet at work, I pulled the book from my bag and began to read. To say I was instantaneously captivated was an understatement. From the very first sentence of the book it grabbed my attention and spoke to me in ways that few books ever had. Never before had I found an author so capable of blending the atrocity of contemporary life with the beauty of the magical that so few humans choose to believe in. Within fifty pages I had fallen in love with Isabelle Copley, the gifted artist, and her best friend Katherine Mully, the aspiring writer of fairy tales. Within a hundred pages I knew Deborah had been right; de Lint was the author I had been looking for my entire life. A writer capable of weaving the fantastical and the mundane. A writer blessed with the ability not to simply tell stories, but to make them take on mythic, legendary status.

Over the course of four nights I devoured the book and, by the time Isabelle’s adventure had come to an end, I had grown to love both her and her numena in ways I had never experienced from fiction before. These were not simply characters on a page; they were living, breathing, real life individuals. Human beings that existed not just within the confines of a book, but, if you believed hard enough, able to live in the real world. Leaning back on my chair at work, I announced to an empty reception area that ‘Memory and Dream’ was one of my favourite books of all time.

“But that’s what we all are – just stories. We only exist by how people remember us, by the stories we make of our lives. Without the stories, we’d just fade away.”

As time moved on I became somewhat obsessed with de Lint’s tale of magic, art and myth. The book traveled with me wherever I went. A weekend in the Outer Hebrides; ‘Memory and Dream’ was there to soothe me. An overnight camping excursion to the shores of Loch Linnhe; ‘Memory and Dream’ was there to comfort me. When the time came to leave Inverness and resume living arrangements with my parents, ‘Memory and Dream’ was there to ease the stress. And when I decided to leave the UK behind and begin anew in Australia, ‘Memory and Dream’ took pride of place in my backpack, making the long, stressful plane journey into something less overwhelming and frightening.

For eight years ‘Memory and Dream’ continued to accompany me wherever I went. A weekend break to Apollo Bay. A week-long vacation to Wilson’s Prom and Gippsland. Even a day trip to Melbourne town, ‘Memory and Dream’ came with me. It lived perpetually in my backpack; easing my troubled mind with just the knowledge it was there should I ever need the comforting, inspirational words contained within it. The book was one of the few items that I refused to sell following the tragedy of my breakdown. It remained in my possession as I drifted into mania in Adelaide, was there for me following the chaos of the aftermath of rape and offered solace during those first few months of homelessness.

“It’s a mistake to go poking about in your own past,” she’d told her. “It makes you shrink into yourself. Every time you return you get smaller and more transparent. Go back often enough and you might vanish altogether. We’re meant to put the past behind us and be the people we are now, Izzy, not who we were.”

By 2010 ‘Memory and Dream’ had been through everything I had; abuse, assault, homelessness, breakdown…and it had never let me down. I read it religiously at lease once a year, sometimes twice, sometimes thrice. Sometimes I just dipped into my favourite passages and allowed their grace to wash over me. But then, in April of 2010, a book I had protected, loved and cared for for nearly ten years, was stolen from me. An arrogant, cruel man, who appeared to be one of those hipsters I despise so much, decided to steal a homeless man’s bag; and with it the book he cherished the most.

For months I mourned the loss. No longer was I able to take solace in the magic de Lint weaved. No longer was I able to comfort myself with the unrequited love of Isabelle Copley, or her best friend, Katherine Mully. I knew I had to replace the book. I knew I needed it in my life, for without it, life seemed more frightening, more unbearable. For years I looked in every bookstore, every op shop, seeking ‘Memory and Dream’, but I was always left wanting. No bookstore stocked it. No bookseller had even heard of it.

“One expected growth, change; without it, the world was less, the well of inspiration dried up, the muses fled.”

But then, five years after it had been stolen from me, on a quiet afternoon in Wodonga, the sleepiest, most uncultured town I’ve ever visited, magic returned to my life. For there, on the bookshelf of a Salvation Army op-shop, was a copy of my old friend; ‘Memory and Dream’. It was the same imprint that I had once owned, the same delicious, beautiful nymphs dancing on the cover against the orange backdrop of some long forgotten forest. I grabbed the book in a flash, flicking through the pages to make sure they were complete and undamaged, I rose the spine to my nose and inhaled the gorgeous scent that only a second-hand book can contain; part musk, part hope and part magic. And I took it to the counter and purchased it without hesitation. My five-year search had ended; ‘Memory and Dream’ was mine again.

To relish. To love. To protect.

Memory and Dream (Charles de Lint)

Me, with my new copy of ‘Memory and Dream’, my much loved, much admired friend (August 2015)

The reading woman sits by the window, lamplight falling over her shoulder onto the book. It is the book that glows a golden bath of lemon yellow faintly touched with orange, surrounded by violet shadows. The glow of the book casts a soft light onto the woman’s features, a soft light and softer shadows, and sets the tangle of her hennaed hair aflame.

It is possible to see diminutive figures in the shadows, crouching on the arms of the chair to peer at the words in the pages of the woman’s book, peeping out from in between the curls of her red hair. Tinier shapes still, not quite the size of mosquitoes, hover in the lamplight. Some are silhouetted against the curve of her throat and the shadow of her nose, other against the faint spray of freckles on brow and cheek.

Their heads are like those of fledgling birds: noses sharp and long, features pinched, brows high and smooth. Their figures – when in silhouette – are not unlike a tadpole’s. They have limbs like small crooked twigs, bird’s -nest hair that stands up in surprise and in ungovernably wild. Some have wings with the gossamer iridescence of a dragonfly’s.

The reading woman gives no indication that she is aware of their presence. The book captures her full attention. But surely she can feel the press of miniature bodies as they move against her arm, or the faintest movement as they slip in and about the curls of her hair? Surely she can see the tiny shapes flitting in the dusky air that lies between her grey-green eyes and the page?

Or perhaps they are only shadows, nothing more. And the summer’s night that lies outside her window belongs not to memory, but to dream.

La Liseuse, 1977, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in. Collection The Newford Children’s Foundation.

~ from ‘Memory and Dream’ by Charles de Lint.


4 Comments

Teaser Tuesday: The Dead Beat

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

The Dead Beat
by Doug Johnstone

The Dead Beat

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So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


3 Comments

Teaser Tuesday: Seconds

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

This week, my graphic novel obsession continues with…

Seconds
by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Seconds66.

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So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


2 Comments

Teaser Tuesday: Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim - Teaser Tuesday

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So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


7 Comments

Ten things that never fail to perk me up…

Well, the journey has come to an end. Today marks the final installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge and, truth be told, I’m a little sad. I’ve enjoyed sharing my happiness over the last ten days, and hope that you’ve enjoyed joining me on my journey. Today is all about things that cheer us up, as I share ten things guaranteed to brighten my mood on even the darkest day.

~1~
Literature

Books

My first memory of being on this earth was walking to the library alone. My parents, in their infinite awesomeness, would watch from the front door of our house as I walked the two hundred yards to the local library. Once there, I would fill my satchel with books and then rush home to begin devouring them.

In the intervening years I have developed a passionate love of both libraries and the books contained within them. I cherish good literature above all else. It fills me with joy. Reinforces my hope for a better, more kinder world. And fills me with happiness like nothing else can.

“She would have liked to sit upon a rock and listen to words, not of any man, but detached, mysterious, poetic words that she alone would interpret through some sense inherited from sleep.”
~ Patrick White, Voss ~

~2~
Serena Ryder

serena19

With a tremendous vocal range, intelligent lyrics and a knack for getting the best out of the guitar, how could you not fall for this Canadian singer-songwriter? Her music has been the source of tremendous solace throughout my life, scoring several pertinent moments (e.g. my breakdown, my homelessness) and filling me with joy on even the darkest, most brutal of days.

Would you mind if I pretended we were somewhere else
Doin’ something we wanted to?
‘Cause all this livin’ makes me wanna do
Is die ’cause I can’t live with you
And you don’t even care.

Would you mind if I pretended I was someone else
With courage in love and war?
I used to think that’s what I was
But now this lyin’ hurts too much
And I don’t know what for.

I’m weak in the knees for you
But I’ll stand if you want me to
My legs are strong and I move on
But honey I’m weak in the knees…

Would you mind if I walked over and I kissed your face
In front of all of your friends?
Would you mind if I got drunk and said
I wanna take you home to bed
Oh, would you change your mind?

~ from ‘Weak in the Knees’ ~

~3~
Scotland

Skye

The heart stopping landscape of the Isle of Skye.

When I was a child, growing up in the small village of Portlethen, on the eastern coast of Scotland, I was more concerned with being a brattish schoolboy – playing practical jokes on my family and getting into as much mischief as I could – than being aware of the country I was living in. But all that changed when my parents took us on a day trip to Loch Ness, a couple of hundred miles west, in the heart of the Highlands. I can vividly remember gazing through the car window at the luscious landscape all around me, feeling a pull on my heartstrings that indicated all was well in my world.

After moving to Wales when I was eleven, I felt like a part of my soul was being ripped out. I missed Scotland with an intense passion, and couldn’t wait to return. Several years and one hypomanic episode later, I did, returning to my childhood love of the Highlands with a twenty-six mile hike down the shores of Loch Ness. From there I went to Fort William, where I experienced the grandeur of Glen Nevis and breathtaking Glenfinnan, on the shores of Loch Shiel.

Every day I spent in Scotland made me feel complete. The country fills me with a passion unlike anything else on this earth. I feel connected to Scotland. I experience physical pain when I am away from it. It is, without question, my home on this earth. Living in Australia, being so far from my home, fills me with sadness. But I have made my home a shrine to this magical, mysterious country. Maps of Skye, of Loch Ness, of Torridon adorn my walls. Photographs of the Highlands, of the islands, of the cities, decorate every nook and cranny.

Scotland, its people, its culture, its folklore, fills me with a happiness unlike anything else on this world. It soothes my soul. It completes me.

Caledonia
by James Hogg

Caledonia! thou land of the mountain and rock,
Of the ocean, the mist, and the wind-
Thou land of the torrent, the pine, and the oak,
Of the roebuck, the hart, and the hind;
Though bare are thy cliffs, and though barren thy glens,
Though bleak thy dun islands appear,
Yet kind are the hearts, and undaunted the clans,
That roam on these mountains so drear!

A foe from abroad, or a tyrant at home,
Could never thy ardour restrain;
The marshall’d array of imperial Rome
Essay’d thy proud spirit in vain!
Firm seat of religion, of valour, of truth,
Of genius unshackled and free,
The muses have left all the vales of the south,
My loved Caledonia, for thee!

Sweet land of the bay and wild-winding deeps
Where loveliness slumbers at even,
While far in the depth of the blue water sleeps
A calm little motionless heaven!
Thou land of the valley, the moor, and the hill,
Of the storm and the proud rolling wave-
Yes, thou art the land of fair liberty still,
And the land of my forefathers’ grave!

~4~
Doctor Who

doctorwhoowls

Even owls like Doctor Who! :)

My favourite television series – bar none! It has been part of my life since 1988, cheering me up and filling me with confidence for over twenty-five years. The good Doctor never fails to lift my spirits and his confidence in the face of danger pushes me to victory against whatever demon has decided to raise its ugly head.

My top five NuWho stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Utopia
2. Vincent and the Doctor
3. Partners in Crime
4. Human Nature/The Family of Blood
5. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

“I am and always will be the optimist.
The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams”
~Eleventh Doctor~

My top five Classic Who stories that never fail to cheer me up:

1. Remembrance of the Daleks
2. City of Death
3. Doctor Who and the Silurians
4. Inferno
5. The Evil of the Daleks

~5~
Blog Comments

comments

It’s funny how such a simple thing can fill me with happiness and perk me up on overcast, depression filled days. Just the sight of that orange notification button causes my heart to flutter. I hover the cursor upon it, overflowing with curiosity for what post has inspired some beautiful soul to share their thoughts with me. And then smile sweetly as their words stoke my heart, filling me with joy and contentment.

“In the midst of feeling completely desperate and totally compelled to hurt myself, I came across a picture of your safe box then followed the link to your blog. Just reading the facts about you has calmed me down enough to not. Thank you.”
~ from Anna, on About Me ~

~6~
Smoking

roll-your-own-cigarette

Rolling your own cigarette. One of the most gloriously relaxing pastimes imaginable! :)

I don’t know whether it’s because it’s on my mind at the moment, given we’re in day two of my quit smoking campaign, but smoking a cigarette is one of life’s only joys. I don’t know whether it was simply the inhalation of relaxing chemicals or the glorious routine of making the cigarette, but smoking never failed to lift my spirits and put a smile on my face. But that’s all in the past now. I’m not allowed to smoke again. I’m determined this time!

“After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely.”
~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Hobbit ~

~7~
Binge watching television series!

24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY:  Cast L-R:  Michael Wincott, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Giles Matthey, Benjamin Bratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Gbenge Akinnagbe, Kiefer Sutherland, William Devane, Kim Raver and Tate Donovan.  24:  LIVE ANOTHER DAY is set to premiere Monday, May 5 with a special season premiere, two-hour episode (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Greg Williams/FOX

Binge watching 24 is one of my favourite, most cherished pastimes!

I’ve been doing this long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the day I used to binge watch Alias, 24 and all manner of British dramas and situation comedies. On my days off work I would settle in with whatever show had taken my fancy and, for several hours, immerse myself in the fictional world. But now everyone does it, and they think they invented it. But they didn’t. I did! :p

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!”
~ Mae West ~

~8~
Runrig

Runrig

I first discovered Runrig when I purchased the album The Stamping Ground. It was one of those on-a-whim purchases that we all make from time to time. I don’t know what drew me to the CD. Perhaps the colourful artwork. Perhaps the fact it was filed in Scottish Folk/Rock. Perhaps it was just a moment of destiny; one of those instances of happenstance that change your world. From the very first listen of the CD I was hooked. The music spoke to me like no other musician had ever done. It touched my heart, filled me with hope and soothed my troubled soul.

Runrig are my favourite musicians. They have been producing heartfelt folk/rock music for over forty years. Their music features heavily on the soundtrack to my life and it never fails to lift my mood during moments of darkness and depression.

There’s thunder clouds
Round the hometown bay
As I walk out in the rain
Through the sepia showers
And the photoflood days

I caught a fleeting glimpse of life
And though the water’s black as night
The colours of Scotland
Leave you young inside

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

There’s a vision coming soon
Through the faith that cleans your wound
Hearts of olden glory
Will be renewed

Down the glens where the headlands stand
I feel a healing through this land
A cross for a people
Like wind through your hands

There must be a place
Under the sun
Where hearts of olden glory
Grow young

 ~ from ‘Hearts of Olden Glory’ ~

~9~
Friendship

friendship

I miss my friends. I miss spending my afternoon sharing a jug of beer with Grace. I miss playing pool with Kathy, hiking the Canadian wilderness with Annie and indulging in kinky, slightly perverted, acts with Samantha. I miss how my friends made me feel; happy, contented, invincible. Being alone is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Not even giving up cigarettes comes close to the pain and distress one feels when they know they are spending their life alone; unloved, uncared for, forgotten.

Although I have several online friendships, all of which I am thankful for, it isn’t the same as having people you can spend time with in real life. There isn’t the camaraderie, the instantaneous gratification or sharing of wit that is part and parcel of real life conversation.

If I had three wishes granted to me, my first wish would be to have friends. Not many. Just one or two. That would make me happy. It always did.

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
~ Elbert Hubbard ~

and

~10~
Spanking!

HNI_0035lp

A picture Meadhbh (and I) drew. It apparently depicts us being soundly spanked! :p

Hey! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. A good spanking has the power to lift anyone out of the deepest, darkest quagmire. Don’t believe me? Then toddle off to your significant other (or BFF or bestest, most nonjudgmental friend) and request they put you over their knee for a sound spanking. Done? Your bottom’s all nice and toasty now? See. Your spirits have lifted, haven’t they? Told you they would! :p

“Of course it hurts, it’s a spanking. How else would it work?”
~ Breanna Hayse ~


5 Comments

Teaser Tuesday (August 05)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along with Teaser Tuesdays! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• Be careful not to include spoilers!
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

◊~~~◊~~~◊

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night
by Christopher Brookmyre

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night

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So, what’s everyone else reading at the moment? Go on, give us a tease…


3 Comments

Friday Finds (March 28)

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list. Whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

 

~ Clicking each book will reveal why I’ve added it to my to be read list ~

What books have you added to your TBR list this week?