Songs for a New World

The future is global, regardless of the whims of the BNP or Donald Trump, or Katie Hopkins (a woman who should genuinely be shot into outer space and left to shrivel up alone). And so, to celebrate this fact, I’ve decided to compile a list of songs I love in languages other than English.

This post may also be fueled by Boyfriend’s obsession with the first track.

Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee
This is everyone’s favourite tune at the minute, and I have to say, it’s pretty catchy. Particularly without unnecessary Justin Bieber.

Aicha – Khaled Sahra
My mum used to listen to this when I was younger, and get me to translate the lyrics for her. I have no idea how I did.

Ai Se Eu Te Pego – Michel Teló
Catchy AF (here AF standing for “and forgettable” because I can never remember the name of it and then end up just searching for vowel sounds until I hit the right few)

Adiemus – Karl Jenkins
I’m not sure if this counts, because it isn’t actually in a language – it’s been designed to just sound calming but structured.

Ya Banat – Nancy Ajram
This was played to us in one of my Uni classes, and I don’t know how you can’t love this song, even if just for the video.

Que me quedes tu – Shakira
She had to make an entry on the list somewhere, right? Because she’s the queen of my entire life.

Bonustrack – La Oreja de Van Gogh
Spanish language songs were always likely to dominate this list, because I am biased towards my own language base, and there is something about this song which has always just made me smile.

Major Tom – Peter Schilling
I am historically not a fan of German, because it has too many genders and cases, and LOTS of syllables. But Deutschland 83 and its amazing soundtrack definitely won me over.

Volare – Domenico Modugno
It would be wrong not to recognise Eurovision as the home of all the best music, and Volare just feels like the right choice for peak Eurovision.

Metaphorically Speaking

Who doesn’t love a metaphor? Only unfun people who don’t enjoy language, that’s who.

Here is an example of a metaphor. I am a match. What do you mean, I hear you cry (my imaginary friend). Well, I am mostly beige, apart from my head which is bright red and also on fire.

I accept this isn’t a great metaphor.

It’s totally true though. The colour that my face goes when I exercise is a sight to behold. You can feel the heat radiating from my cheeks from 10cm away, and I go a violent shade of red. It is not a healthy colour. I look like I’ve been running from a maniac with a kitchen knife. I imagine.

The reason for the redness and heat is that I have enough energy almost every day lately to exercise. Which is phenomenal,  and hasn’t happened for the longest time (/or maybe since last summer, idk). So I am. Each day this week I have done a 10 minute strength circuit, a 10 minute circuit or either arms, legs, or abs, and then 10 minutes of cardio. And then a cooldown.

And I feel I should note that it is so irritating when workout videos don’t actually explain “child pose” or “upwards facing dog” just as you are in a yoga pose that forces you to stare at the floor. But I cam get over it.

Basically, summer y’all. It is great.

Oh the places you’ll go

If you don’t love Dr Seuss, you’d probably best leave now. Not that this post has anything to do with Dr Seuss, but it’s just we’ve got fundamental differences in world-view and you’ll probably hate me.

I looked down my list of categories while trying to think of something to blog about this evening, and realised how long it has been since I’ve used my Morocco category. Which isn’t really surprising, as social media chose to remind me the other day that it’s 5 years since I’ve been there. And 6 since I lived there, and started this blog.

I don’t exactly crave to go back, because holidays aren’t the same as living in a place, and going back is something I’m not very good at. I don’t exactly know what it is in my psyche, but something really blocks me from places that are in my past. I rarely talk to anyone from school, haven’t been back to Fes, and haven’t been back to Granada – despite the fact I absolutely loved them both, and they’d both make amazing holiday destinations.

Maybe part of it is knowing that there are so many places left to explore. Why visit somewhere you’ve already seen? Even on this tiny island, there are so many places I haven’t been to, and the wider world? It’s endless.

My bucket list of places to visit, right now, would probably be

  • Japan – a colleague of mine went to Japan earlier this year, and it just sounds fascinating and awesome. I loved all of the colours in the souks of Morocco, and I feel like walking around the cities in Japan would be similar.
  • China – my best friend lived in China for a year, and I think my ultimate dream would be to visit China with her
  • Northern Ireland – I visited Ireland for the first time this year, and it blew me away (as all of the British Isles always do). We didn’t go near Northern Ireland though, and again, I have a close friend who would be an excellent tour guide.
  • Iceland – It looks gorgeous.
  • Chile – we  recently discovered a replica of some Chilean protest art at work, and it’s just so fascinating. Despite studying Latin American studies to degree level, I have to confess I’ve never really been interested in visiting until now, but if I could, I’d go for Chile.
  • India – my parents met in India, so there’s a certain romance about it for me. Aside from that, it’s a pinnacle of colonialism, which I find completely incomprehensible and so naturally want to explore (possibly explaining colonialism if we’re honest).
  • Egypt – a few years ago, while I was in Morocco, I would have chosen to visit Syria. Then, while I was in Morocco, the Arab Spring began, and the destruction which has followed, payrolled by a range of faceless entities without the most basic aspects of humanity, shakes me to my absolute core. I am enthralled by the entire Arabic-speaking world, from the cultural melting-pot of the Maghrib through to the Gulf and the Levant, and there is so much I wish I could see. Egypt feels like a good start, but definitely not an end.

I’m sure one day I’ll make it round these places.

For now, my next holiday is planned for Newcastle. Or maybe Hull.

The First Day

I’m doing that thing I do again. Yesterday was the “first day of the rest of my life”. I’ve done minimal snacking, healthy lunches, and today I did a workout for the first time in ages (and so now I feel like I’m going to die, of course).

My initial love affair with faddy workouts should be well-known to regular readers (Hi Mum!*) which was my Moroccan obsession with Jillian Michaels and her 30-day shred. For newer readers, while I lived in Morocco there wasn’t an easy and cheap gym option, and so a group of us from Leeds banded together and formed some kind of insane exercise cult where we either all did Jillian Michaels’ workout alone in our rooms, or all got together and did it.

My relationship with Jillian has been on-again-off-again, with brief forays into other exciting territory such as when I tried to do ashtanga yoga in Spain (which is INSANE because that’s like trying to do a full cardio workout in a sauna, daily), or when I tried to do pilates here in Leeds with Boyfriend.

My new crush is Caroline Pearce, with her lovely soothing voice and her insane 10 minute workouts, which I’ve discovered are free on Amazon Video. I tried two 10 minute routines back-to-back, and though I felt like death immediately after, I can at least attest to the fact that I feel almost fine now, which says great things about my fitness level and recovery time (I hope).

I’m also attempting to only drink water and black coffee. Black coffee just when I want a hot drink, because I’m a complete milk fiend. Water at all other times, which is a challenge for me, because I just don’t like the taste. I know most people claim it has no taste, but you’re all wrong. It has a taste, and I don’t like it. I’ve got a slightly fancy (£3) infuser bottle which has done alright so far, but then it is only day two.

Which makes the title of this a little misleading a suppose.

You’re welcome.

*If you think this is a joke, you should know that it's really not. My Mum is definitely my most avid reader, except for maybe my Grandmother.

Vanilla Days

It’s moving into summer, days are long and everything is getting really vanilla. Not vanilla in the sense of exotic and full of tiny black specks, but in the sense of plain and safe and totally fine but not really thrilling.

Now, after the amount of things which have happened and are happening to people around the world, I’m keen to point out that I don’t need my life to be more thrilling. We feel stuck solidly in an era where the more plain and simple your life is, the better. But there’s no getting away from the internal buzzing that your mind makes when you’re a person who is driven by things-going-on in the absence of those things.

I am driven by things. What is the next step, where is the next aim, is this the next milestone and how do I reach it? Small things or big, I need them going on to function, or I descend into a world of shoulda-coulda-woulda whispers.

Those whispers found their way into my head recently, and made a little nest of possibility which began (accidentally) to feel like a real, tangible goal. I found myself making plans without waiting for step 1 to happen, and imagining all the magical world of things I felt like I was about to get involved in. I kidded myself outwardly into thinking I wasn’t getting dragged under by the whispers, but really I was.

And then the vanilla tide swept in this week, and I realised that the castle in the air was just a slightly funny-shaped cloud (as they often are) and back down to Earth I came with a mild thud, cushioned by all of the vanilla.

It’s not that I’m bored. People who get bored haven’t tried hard enough to be interested. It’s more that life is just happening near me right now, and I’m happening near it, and it feels like I can’t do much to alter it, mostly because would I want to? Why would I shake it up, force a change to something so perfectly inviting as nice, plain, satisfactory vanilla? People who do that are crazy. That’s the kind of thing Donald Trump would do.

So for the moment it’s living on for me, waiting for the thing to happen which turns my vanilla into raspberry ripple again for a little while.

Zingy.

Be the good

I usually don’t broadcast my political views (unless they are against Donald Trump, but I mean, who doesn’t these days). I have strong views, but I also know that in my personal context, sharing them extensively will not get me as far as trying to actively listen and be empathetic to other peoples’ points of view.

But staying quiet on the subject of the General Election which is coming up on June 8th isn’t something I want to do. I don’t want to disguise my feelings about the current political state of the UK and the world.

We are on the brink of insanity. Our weapons capability is increasing, our population is spiraling, the global economy is a game of chess waged by corporate giants, we’re dissolving into a digital universe we don’t entirely understand, and inflammatory politics is infecting every corner of our lives.

Through all that, we in this country are lucky to still have a system which allows us a voice. It’s not the best system, agreed, but it is something which millions of people around the world don’t have access to. And through our collective voice, we influence the national voice – and ours is still a powerful national voice (thanks colonialism!)

The question next Thursday is, what do we want our national voice to be saying? This isn’t a question of personalities, or individuals. This is about the message that we as a collective want to share with each other, and the world. The message will be strong, it will resonate, and it will carry influence. It is a voice we should all be proud to be a part of, and which everyone registered to vote should invest in being part of.

I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. But I do hope that everyone who reads this takes a second to remember that we’re powerful right now, and we choose the message. There are several parties who only support a message of hate, intolerance, and prejudice. Don’t vote for them. Be the good in the world. Think in terms of need and not want.

A quote used a lot in the last few weeks is “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. Our lives are brimming over with people who need help, and it’s something each of us can give. In a small way or a big one, on an individual level or as a collective, we can choose to help. Think of other people who are less fortunate than you.

If you don’t care about those people, you are selfish, and we’re ashamed of you.

On the 8th, do not vote for parties who support a world divided. We’re past that. Vote for a better message, and force our collective voice to be one which shouts at the top of it’s lungs:

“We are the good in the world”

Homewares

I think I’m becoming homewares obsessed.

I have a bit of a thing with candles anyway. I’m most happy when I have a couple of big pillar candles lit, and maybe some incense burning. Add to that some nicely fluffed pillows, and a throw or two. Maybe some coffee-table books scattered around, some nice quality coasters, a cup of coffee and some nibbles in little bowls designed for nibbles.

The problem with this is twofold.

Firstly, you build up a picture in your head of how you like things to look, and that becomes a constant spiral of cleaning and tidying. I am never totally happy at home until I’ve erased all marks of Boyfriend from the space. He has a nasty habit of living in a room like it’s some kind of ‘living room’ and I hate it.

The second issue is that you just amass STUFF. Nacky little boxes which will be great to put something in (who knows what. Who even knows what’s in them at this point. Schroedingers’ interior design principal)

What I’m trying to say is I spent all day cleaning and my house is full of tat. I need a bigger house. Maybe less stuff. Or maybe I’ll just go sit in my book corner and survey my lovely kitchen-diner in all it’s cluttered glory.

Powerful Weapons

Words are powerful weapons.

One of the most powerful words in the world right now is ‘terrorism’, and we need to stop giving it so much power. Terrorism is the act of inciting the sentiment of terror within a person, or a group of people. That happened yesterday, sadly, in the city of Manchester, and it was perpetuated against a group of innocent bystanders. It was perpetuated against children.

Today, the media stormed in with questions about a ‘terrorist attack’ or an ‘act of terrorism’. But that’s not what it is. It’s a crime, committed by one or more violent criminals. And those criminals are getting what they want the second we call it terrorism. Because when you give it a name, you give it power and agency, and you allow the world to believe that the effect of the attack is that it terrifies you.

We are not terrified. Appalled, yes. Distraught, yes. But not terrified.

This is something which the western media has been perpetuating for years now, and it’s a mirage. It’s a narrative which continues to exist in order to protect the people who are spending money waging the “war on terror” as if war against a sentiment is a meaningful act. It’s a war we’ve already lost, every time we allow acts of barbaric violence to be termed “terror attacks”.

Don’t become part of the narrative. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the rhetoric of “extremists” (because many people are extreme, but they don’t always kill others), or “religious motivation” (because many people are religious, and see above). Don’t be fed a lie of the stereotypical terrorist, because that person doesn’t exist. Terrorists do not exist. Dangerous, damaged, often exploited people with an agenda to attempt to incite the feeling of terror do. Let them terrify you and they have achieved their aim.

And as an addendum, don’t let acts like this cloud your mind on national and international policy. The media are a tool of the powerful, and the powerful want to continue subsidising their empty war. Don’t be forced into the belief that the “war on terror” is necessary, or effective. There are many great threats in the world. The word ‘terror’ is not one of them.

This word is a powerful weapon. Do not be threatened by it.

Who knows (whose nose)?

Register to vote. You deserve it. It takes 5 minutes. Need reasons? I gotcha.


Ok, so. To explain, Who Knows Whose Nose is a game I had when I was younger. You had a variety of animal noses in a bag, and you had to pick one out and then put it on the right animal. It was great for cognitive something (probably).

The world feels like one big speculative mess at the moment. Like, a really big mess. Someone let Donald Trump go to Saudi Arabia. We’re clearly doing things badly wrong guys.

The main thing which we’re doing wrong right now, is being defeatist. I maintain that Doomsday Preppers is probably one of the best programmes on TV, but we don’t all need to live our lives like that. There is more hope for our future than that. At times like these, it’s all too easy to say ‘there’s no point’ because you know what will happen.

But newsflash. Nobody knows.

The world is a strange and exciting place, and humanity is a strange and exciting (and sometimes dangerous, but we’ll pass over that one) species. And the more we learn, and progress, the better we are at seeing the bigger picture, avoiding the pitfalls, and making the right decisions. Just because you know how something has gone before, doesn’t mean that the same thing will happen this time.

What comes next? Honestly, nobody knows.

(though that being said, I clearly have my own views…)

 

Trust, Hope, and the Internet

I feel like I’ve become a true 21st century woman today. Today, a person exposed themselves to me in an explicit way on the internet.

I’ve been on the internet for a good while now, using plenty of social media, instant message and chat platforms, forums, and some online games. Though I tend not to really use video (because I look like either a thumb or a moon at all times on video), there have still been plenty of opportunities to see *things* had people wanted to send me said things. And yet I had seen nothing untoward until today.

Now don’t get me wrong on this. I don’t condone assaulting people in unsolicited ways on the internet. It’s an entirely distasteful hobby. 

…but I probably slightly let myself in for it by having so much faith in the goodness and innocence of humans. The person in question (a person I went to school with, but I won’t name names because I know that there’s always the potential that their social media account might have been hacked to perpetrate this) chatted to me for about 2 weeks about a hobby of mine, sewing, before today.

Sewing, I hear you say, confounded. Yes. This person had an item they wanted re-embroidering, and asked if I could do it (obviously I now know this is a lie, don’t worry team). I said no, but then a little later they contacted me saying they’d had the work done, and didn’t I want to see it.

And of course I didn’t, because why would I care about someone else’s project, especially when I haven’t spoken to that person in 7 years, and we weren’t really friends anyway. And when that person insisted this exchange had to be on video chat.

Let me add at this point that I know that is a massive signal, and I mentioned to several people that I reckoned the person in question had dodgy intentions. But I so strongly hoped that there were no intentions, just a person really keen on sharing crafts. So today, I caved, and agreed to the call.

On my lunch break, I stood in the rain, outside the building site that I currently work on, and accepted a video call. I heard a greeting, and then drilling started behind me. I lifted the phone to my ear to better hear what was being said, only to catch on that what was being said was not really for my benefit. I looked back at the screen, saw more than I’d asked for, and then the call was ended. I can’t access the person’s account any more.

After my initial reaction of feeling stunned, I texted Boyfriend to tell him the story. He’s one of the people I expressed concern to about the intentions of the contact being dodgy, and I knew he’d find the whole thing as funny as I did. But then my feelings moved from funny to sadness. I’m sad that the person I had faith in to be innocently excited about sewing actually has to get their kicks by exposing themselves to practical strangers on the internet. There are so many great things in life, and for that to be your thing is honestly quite depressing to me. I’d like more for the people I know than that.

Then I realised I’m lucky. I was exposed to something unexpected and my reaction was to laugh. Some people would have been strongly affected, and as far as I can tell, I have no way to actively do anything about this. I can’t access the person’s account any more, and there doesn’t seem to be a functional way to report something like this to any authority.

So, I’ve settled for this. Sharing the experience (for the comedy, to be fair) and giving people I went to school with the opportunity, should they wish, to contact me directly and ask whose account it was so that they can avoid the same thing happening to them.

Unless you want it to of course, because I mean, get your kicks (in consensual ways though please)