The other day, my daughter and I were driving in the car. As always, I had the radio tuned to a classical music station. A particularly distinctive piece of music came on.
My daughter asked, “What is that song Mummy?”
After a very brief pause, I blurted out, “William Tell. The William Tell Overture. It’s a very famous piece of music. Do you like it?”
“Yes,” she replied.
I was amazed. Not because she had said that she liked it, but because I had almost instantly responded to her question. How did I know that piece of music was the William Tell Overture? Where in my mind did that fact reside? Who had ever told me the name of that composition?
I admit that I became obsessed over this momentary exchange. It fascinated me because it pointed directly to a continuation of knowledge; a knowledge that I didn’t even know existed within me. I began to think that there must be tons of facts within my brain that were put there, by who or what? My mother, my father, my teacher, the school, the establishment, the media?
It was just a few short months ago, that my father and I sat up late drinking rum, for our terrible head colds, of course, and watching the US election results live on TV. We bemoaned the fact that Donald Trump appeared to be on track to win the Presidency, but why? The majority of Americans (as flawed as their electoral system is) had spoken and they had spoken out for Trump to be their leader.
Since then, I probably do not have to say, America has imploded. Right, left, conservative, liberal, women, LGBT, Latinos, African Americans, and plain old white people (yes, that is intended to be a joke) are all sections of society at war with each other and themselves over what it means to have this particular man in power. I could break it down into election promises, subsequent actions and future intentions of Trump, as to what has gotten everyone all hot and bothered, but that is neither here nor there. Of course, it is you say! That man wants to build a wall. He wants to break up families. He wants to deny women autonomy over their bodies. He wants to discriminate against particular ethnicities and religions. That man is a tyrant! Is he? If he is, America, then you all have a big problem because the majority of your population support this tyrant.
I once dropped acid. I did it once and never again because it was definitely not my thing. As soon as that little drop of drug had dissolved on my tongue and filtered into my bloodstream, finding its way to the top of my head where it preformed a magic trick on my brain, I regretted it. I wished I could have taken my decision back, but I couldn’t. Drugs have a shelf life in our bodies and I therefore had to wait. One of the friends with whom I was tripping noted my regret. He told me: “Hey, its just a buzz.” And buzzes wear off. You just have to go through them; to wait them out. And I did. After hours of neurotransmitter gymnastics, my brain chemicals hit the showers and I was allowed to go to bed, the ‘buzz’ having finally wore off. It actually took a few days for my brain to revert back to normal as the dregs of the LSD were worked out of my system but I soon found my equilibrium enough to get back to the business of being an experimental university student.
I haven’t written a blog entry in months. I do not know why really? I have had many ideas for an entry or two, but a concept would never fully form in my mind so that writing could flow out of it. It was like my mind was on a train, passing stations with names such as: ‘The Importance of Cultural Context on the Individual’. ‘Nature versus Nurture’, ‘The Promotion of Individualism as a Necessity to Consumerism, ‘Things that Change and Things That Stay the Same: What the Rocky Mountains Taught Me About Impermanence’, ‘The Sublime Literary Genius of Kent Haruf’, etc… On and on the train travelled, encountering its manifest thoughts as train stations, but never stopping long enough in one place to really get to know it. It did not disembark at ‘Nature versus Nurture’, getting its overnight bag and going to the Attachment Theory Hotel to check in. Then once settled in its room, freshening up before going out into the street to spot the DNA Expression Pub and decide to pop in for a pint, before heading on to the Lamarckian Theory Restaurant for a roast dinner. No, it was just sitting there passively on the train, noting each station sign as it went by. Reading and understanding the words, but not being able to concentrate on them long enough to formulate thoughts upon which to write.
We went to the beach today. After a long winter and strange spring, summer has finally arrived. Today was 34 degrees and a few days from now it will hit 38. We will experience a little heat wave for the next week and what better place to wait it out but at the beach. Now that my daughter is older and I do not have to stay constantly glued to her side, meaning I can sit in the water cooling myself whilst she splashes me or eats an ice cream on a sun chair, I have become a beach addict. I have been to the beach more in the past month then I had been in the last year. I love the salty sea and the cool breeze, I especially love the sand and rocks. I rub the sand over my hands and feet, legs and arms, I would rub it over my face if I didn’t think that afterwards I would look like a human tomato. Sand is the best exfoliate in the world in my opinion but not only that, after I walk along the beach in my bare feet, I feel innumerably better. I have this theory that as I walk along pressing my feet into those miniscule broken up rocks, I am hitting all of the pressure points in my feet. The small pebbles are even better, being that they are harder and larger than the soft sand. I love those pebbles. It takes me ages to get down the short beaches here because I am obsessed with rock collecting. Rocks are amazing. The colors, the textures, the consistencies. I have a huge basket of rocks and it is almost full. Every time I return from the beach I make sure to clean out my beach bag and purse of rocks. I once went into town with my daughter and wondered why my handbag was so heavy until I prised it open and found a huge rock which must have weighed at least a pound or two. I have always loved the beach really whether it was a beach on the Med or a jut of sand on a fresh water lake but I didn’t grow up near a beach so I am just getting used to living a beach lifestyle.
The other day I took a bath. Well, not a proper bath. I didn’t turn on the hot and cold taps in my bathroom and let them fill up a tub into which I had poured some sort of healing salts or calming bath oil. When I say that I took a bath, I actually filled up my daughter’s baby bath with five kettles of boiling water (yes, that took some time especially with our water pressure and electrical voltage problem), added some cold water to touch, took off my cloths, stood in the shower area, and doused myself repeatedly with the water from a plastic jug. I should have really collected some wood from outside, chopped it and put it in bottom of the small boiler that sits in the entrance to the bathroom which serves to heat the water, so that I could have a proper shower. A shower like normal people, where the water comes out of the showerhead and pours down over you whilst you do your thing. I thought in this manner as I was washing my hair. I wondered what ‘normal people’ were and then I realised that I was ‘normal people’ doing something abnormal, at least abnormal compared to what was my past norm. The norm that I grew up with and continued even though I moved to London in my thirties and then to Turkey after that. In our last house I had a shower like ‘normal people’ but not now.
When I lived in London, most Sundays would see me wake up, throw on some cloths and walk to the corner shop for the Sunday Times. I would return home, make a cup of tea and start my way through the brick of a newspaper. I had a little ritual. I would unfold the newspaper separating each section until I had a pile of them for my reading. I would place the regular sections on top of the special Sunday sections and place the two magazine supplements beside them. I would ritualistically read the magazines last, except for the Aunt Sally column at the back of the Style magazine which I would read first.
If I was sitting somewhere with a girlfriend we would often read the column aloud and share what advice we would give to the inquirer before finding out what Sally Brampton had to say. Usually, our advice was similar to hers, however she had a clever way of giving the letter writer a soft lecture about what it was in themselves or their behavior that had engendered their problem, before informing them of a way out of their mess.
Unfortunately, as most people, Ms. Brampton couldn’t see a way out of her own mess and last Tuesday, walked down to the sea near her house and simply kept going. Her body was found washed up on shore by a passerby and no attempts at resuscitation were successful. Sally Brampton’s ‘mess’ was chronic depression. As well as an Agony Aunt, she was also the past editor of the UK edition of Elle magazine (in fact she was its first editor when it was debut in the 1980’s) and a writer of books, one of which was entitled Shoot the Damn Dog. It was a memoir of sorts detailing her ongoing battle with depression. The dog was a reference to another sufferer of depression, no other than Sir Winston Churchill who referred to his depressive episodes as his ‘black dog’.