Break-Up Songs Of The Late Twentieth Century

It’s been 15 days and several hours, since I put a post up here.
If that first line reminded you of a song written by Prince and sung by Sinéad O’Connor then well done, it was totally deliberate. As far as ear worms go that one isn’t a bad one. The album it was released on is 24 years old! I must confess to loving the earlier album The Lion and The Cobra with its rawness and passion and anguish writ large but I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got is full of more crafted and produced pieces that still manage to capture the chaos that is Sinéad and the beauty of her voice.
I’m not sure what this post is about but the fact that it’s been just over two weeks since my last post prompted the paraphrasing of Nothing Compares To You. I think I sang that song with feeling but without pathos. There was no-one that I was missing enough to be singing that about in 1990. I’m sure it was thousands, maybe millions, of people’s break-up songs but I wasn’t one of them.
Ah, break-up songs. That’s an idea. Oh, the highest rotation album for break-up songs for me was Melissa Etheridge’s self titled first album. It’s ironic that, at that stage, she was writing about a woman leaving her for another woman and I was singing it and listening to it about a man leaving me for another woman. It’s testament to the power of her words that they reached into my psyche then, or just that I was 19 years old and hurt, hurt, hurt! Now, of course, I love a woman, am married to one, and my break-up anguish over that man is long forgotten.
When I went through my last break-up
Melissa Etheridge was long packed away (I had it on tape) and instead I turned to a young singer from Germany, of Nigerian heritage, called Ayo, and her 2006 album called Joyful. The song Down On My Knees is far from joyful and suited my mood in mid 2007, one of fear and confusion. A long term relationship, that I had thought would continue forever, had ended with betrayal. I tried to be adult and mature about it all, accepting the decision of my loved one, but this song spoke about my inner monologue, the one I daren’t let out. Ayo was writing and singing about a man, I was grieving the loss of a woman. See, irony again.
I’m sure I’ve left a trail of break-up songs behind me, I’ve more often been the leaver rather than the left. I hope to never have to find another one. I’m fairly certain that my wife would prefer that too, we’ve made our commitment for our whole lives and we have every intention of seeing it through.
What have your break-up songs been?

As a short addendum I wish to say that my mother went through a phase of playing You’ll Never Walk Alone over and over again after my father died. This wasn’t her break-up song, it was her grieving song. I think there’s a close correlation but that ultimately a break-up song is situation specific but the grieving song (or songs) are often songs that have had significance in the relationship throughout. That’s my observation, for what it’s worth.


A Birthday Poem For My Wife

A secret plan.
A furtive wrapping.
A celebration.

The cards say “Happy Birthday!”
“Birthday Greetings.”
“Many Happy Returns.”

The milestones of a life.
The markers of maturity.
The wrinkles in time.

The little gestures.
The thoughts that count.
The grand declarations.

All in the family.
Dinner plans with dessert.
A quiet evening in.

Settled on the couch.
Animals resting in the warmth.
Another year starts.

Reflections On Writing and Trying to Do It Every Day

I’ve been missing in action. In March I only posted nine times but there were 31 days in that month. I was trying to do one post a day. Not set in concrete but an internal challenge. It’s been a bit of a slog, I must say. I blame the drugs.

They’re good at keeping the pain away (well, sort of) but they’re not so good for letting the mind run free. They leave my mind muddy and sluggish, struggling to find inspiration and stuck in the roundabout that leaves me with nothing in my head but this chronic pain and how I will live with it or if I’ll ever live again without it.

When I set myself my mental challenge I was also trying to manage pain and my anxiety about it all and hoped that writing would give me something else on which to focus. It was also to hone this craft and rebuild the muscles that I had let atrophy.

I thought that maybe I’d forgotten how but the words still come from me pretty easily. I haven’t had trouble getting things down. I don’t do too many drafts. I suppose, since most of what I’m putting into this ether is first hand, lived, memoir, non-fiction, that the crafting is different.

I worry that I’m boring and repetitive anyway. I think I need more humour. I want to be more creative and stretch my fiction finger and since I really started this blog what it has awakened is a burning desire in me to write about just one thing. This thing is like a block for all the other ideas, it’s like if I don’t find a way to write this then I’ll never get another idea out. I’ve tried a few forays but the theme keeps coming through into everything. And this theme, this thing, this truth but not but fictionalised but life, is so hard to write about; what angle do I take, how do I broach this subject, how can I write with authenticity and integrity without making it so damn hard and gut-wrenching that no-one can read it.

I think I thought that writing daily might help me start it (not here, somewhere else, secret, away from prying eyes until I’d honed and cut and sweated it out), give me the discipline or I hoped that I could get past it and start something new. Instead I’m revolving, looking for the angle, researching horrors that are beyond imagining, except they were real, to find a way into my subject’s life and mind and try to explain their actions.

Maybe no-one needs to read it. Maybe I can just slam it out and put it in a bottom drawer. Though I want it to be readable. I want it to be an exploration. I want to take people on a journey – you have to write with your audience there (or I do) in your mind’s eye – I want it to be good, no, I want it to be amazing.

Don’t expect anything soon. I’ve got a lot to do between now and whenever.
In the meantime I’ll just keep coming back here and torturing you all with my experiments.

In The Cold, Hard Light Of Day

It’s happening again. One of our dogs is having a seizure. It’s only just started in the last few days; she’s an old girl and already had cancerous growths removed three times, the first time when she was only six years old, and the vet thinks that one of them might now be an intracranial tumour and causing the fits.

Tonight’s fit, or series of fits actually, are bad. I think she is reaching the end. After the first tumours were found we were told that she would keep growing them and that one day there would be one that went inside and we’d not know. Chemo wouldn’t stop them, nor amputation.

Over the years the tumours have appeared all over her body but always just under the skin. After her last surgery we decided that there would be no more (she was 10) as the operation and anaesthesia knocked her around so. It’s been three years without an op and with relatively slow tumour growth but now we have the fits. I think this is the beginning of the end, a very fast end probably, relatively.

The vet said that she may fit until she goes into a coma. I think that might be the path she is on. I’ve given her some medication. It’s human medication but the vet told me I could use it, it won’t harm her. It may calm her down and decrease the fits, she’s had four in the last half hour.

Our other dog looks at us bewildered and confused. He has never coped well when she has been away for operations, always treating her like some alien invader when she comes home groggy from the anaesthesia. Tonight he is not that bad but he has jumped away once when she started kicking him while having a seizure, I can’t blame him for that, it is a bit disconcerting.

Ah no, seizure number five. Shorter this time but quite strong. She’s now very exhausted. Her breathing is deeper. I think (hope) the drugs are kicking in and she will be sedated enough to have no more tonight.

I know you are all probably thinking that instead of blogging about this I should be taking her to the vet or at least calling the vet. Well, I’ve already had the conversation with the vet the first time and it’s now 10.50pm and vets charge really big bills anyway, never mind when it’s after hours.

We all love her. We all really want to be sure she is ok. We are up with her, touching her head, stroking her gently, trying to keep her clear of obstacles so she won’t hurt herself. Her girl came to visit her this week and she will be back again tomorrow. We will all have to make the hard decision together, I think, tomorrow, in the cold, hard light of day.

Update: The next morning she was in a permanent state of seizure. We called the vet. There was no hesitation, she should suffer no longer. Our lovely, dopey girl was given an injection that gently took her life away. It was fast and humane.