Time is a peculiar thing. When we are young, we think that we have all the time in the world, and yet we are not in a hurry to live. When we are old, we know that time is a finite resource, and we rush to get as many things done as possible.
As it is, I think I am growing old. I am always in a hurry, filled with nervous energy. I am impatient, and my mind goes faster than anything around me can happen.
The thing is, the moments we miss because we were busy with something else are moments that can never come back. We cannot rewind the time, even though many people wish they could.
Live your days as if you were living them for the first time. I wish that sentence would come from me, but it doesn’t. Something similar was said in a very touching movie called About Time.
And now, it is about time that you check https://confusingmiddle.com/ to see what Aaron wrote for his first prompt challenge of the year 2021.
1. What are the three most important things you learned this year?
Letting go is hard to do
I am worth more than I allow myself to be and more talented than I admit
Taking a break is important or your health will impose it
2. Who has made the biggest impact on you this year?
I did. I did things I did not think were possible. I stepped up for myself, and I stepped out of my comfort zone a few times too.
3. Who or what inspires you most?
People who are positive and kind to themselves.
4. What’s one goal you accomplished this year?
Publishing my novel “Heart of Stone”. I have two copies left at home. But it is also available on Amazon.
5. What can you do today that you didn’t think was possible a year ago?
I can do things on my own without the validation of anyone else.
6. What achievement in 2020 are you most proud of?
The audio recording that can be found on the diyhard release
Everything I did for myself
7. What is one habit you would like to change?
Caring too much about other people and having a hard time accepting that friendships fade out without reason.
8. How do you maintain balance in your life?
I don’t? There is no balance in my life at all.
9. What were your career highlights this year?
Due to the complete lockdown early in the year and my many weeks of sick leave there aren’t many highlights. But I am convinced that I did a good job.
10. What excites you about the future?
New creative projects. By the end of 2020, there are ideas floating around and possibilities are presenting themselves that I had no idea about at the beginning of the year. I guess, next year will not be much different.
11. What was the most challenging part of this year for me?
The constant pain. It is a challenge to be in constant pain and stay afloat. And rejection… I had a couple of job interviews but they didn’t get me anywhere.
12. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself at the start of 2020?
Don’t force it. Everything will fall into place. Take the opportunities offered to you, it will be worth it.
13. What are my most important goals for next year?
No goals, just going with the flow again
14. What is something that was hard early in the year that’s easier now?
Asking for help and admitting that I can’t get things done without any help.
15. What did you learn about yourself this year that surprised you?
I am more messed up than I thought I am, but I am also a lot more loveable. I am an interesting, intriguing woman, apparently, and the fact that I don’t bend over backwards to make anyone like me seems to appeal to many people too. (Or so I am told.)
Working on my next poetry collection – working title “push the clouds away”
Started therapy – stopped therapy, I did not feel it
Drove to the Netherlands all alone and on my own (4 hours drive) and stayed with a couple I met online
Did a handful things out of my comfort zone
Worked a lot and even though I was not always happy, I was successful
Bonded with people
Said goodbye to others
Made lots of time for music, supporting artists and investing money into my small but eclectic vinyl collection
Actually enjoyed lockdown and the time I had to focus on my mental health
Did something – or a lot for my pain
Surgery 97% probable in 2021
Agree to be put on extended sick leave
Wrote a lot, but not too much
Some months, I posted a couple times daily on the blog, I don’t have a lot of reach or many reads, but I felt like it was okay. I understood that I am doing this for myself though I also enjoy that my words are seen/read
And because of that, it was the most successful year for the blog – ever
Everything, really everything you read on this blog is written impulsively, without a filter. The words and thoughts you read are the words and thoughts of that particular moment, and they can change in a heartbeat. Please keep that in mind. Also, I often write about my mental health issues; reading about that can be worrisome, triggering, exhausting. It all comes down to one thing: I am most afraid to be left behind/abandoned/rejected, and my overthinking mind suggests that everyone just leaves me for various reasons. It’s not true, I rationally know that, but my emotions tell a different story. It doesn’t really matter, but it really matters. Impulsive bits of my reality during that exact mindset – that’s what you get to read on this blog. And music. Lots and lots of different music.
Tonight, news came that the British band Anathema decided to go on an indefinite hiatus (aka split up) after the challenging year that 2020 was.
I admit it makes me sad. The band and their music mean/meant a lot to me.
I was young, barely 16 years old, when I heard my first Anathema song. It was on the free CD Rom that came with a music magazine; the magazine was called “UP”. The first listen of the CD was done in passing and without much interest, but something – a line in the song, made my ears perk up, and I listened again from the beginning and watched the video. Again. And again. On repeat for days.
Later I learned from the small article in the magazine that it was a promo shot for the band’s upcoming album “Judgement” released in 1999.
Imagine young and excited Cathy practically running to her trusted record dealer to buy the entire back catalog, only to be disappointed to find out that the store only had one album in stock. I had no idea that Anathema had been around for years and that their music had evolved considerably in those years too. No one I knew had ever heard of this band. And I was sure that I had discovered a gem. Little did I know that this band and their music would be a soothing and comforting companion for decades.
The first album I finally bought was called “Alternative 4”. It had been released in 1998, and the melancholy gripped me right away. But there was more to it; there were guitar riffs, piano, lyrics… I had never heard anything that touched me in that way. True, I was only fifteen, but all of a sudden, I felt a positive intensity that had not been there before. And I liked that feeling very much.
I was hooked on the music. I didn’t know nor cared about the people making the music. But I cared about the lyrics that touched me right in the feels. Mind you, this was before everyone had access to the internet. My knowledge came from expensive music magazine with monthly issues. I was not fangirling over any of the band’s members. It was just the music. I could not grasp half of the emotions that were sung about yet, but the other half were very familiar.
From there on out, Anathema had a song for every feeling; they had lyrics that reflected my emotions. I felt understood; I felt home. And wow, was that a powerful feeling for a young starving mind as mine. Coming from a broken home, including emotional neglect and abuse, these songs felt like a warming and welcoming blanket. Very far removed from the angry music I had listened to before.
In the year 2000, I visited Paris for the first time, and of course, we had to visit the Virgin Mega Store. It was heaven on earth. I was in paradise. It was where I bought the older Anathema albums. Very different from what I knew by then: still melodic, still meaningful lyrics, but growling, screaming vocals. Not really my cup of tea. But also, it showed me that progress is good. Change is good. And trying and daring to go in a different direction than every one expected seemed possible for the first time ever.
“Sunset of Age” from the album “A Silent Enigma” (1995)
And the band kept releasing fantastic album after fantastic album. Their creative well did not dry up. Year after year, they released songs and albums that became classics in their own right. And even when their record company dropped merged with a different label and decided to drop some of the smaller bands and artists, they continued to create and breathe music.
Between the albums “A natural disaster” (2003) and “We’re here because we’re here” (2010), seven almost silent years passed; at least for me, who was not interested in any band drama and still chose to not buy into any false rumours read on the almighty internet. In 2008, a compilation with new versions of old songs was released: “Hindsight”. It made old songs appear new and showcased the fact that there was not one weak song.
The silent period was a period of change, and the band toured a lot and all over the world. The quality of their playing benefitted of it, definitely. Or so I personally believe.
In 2012, the masterpiece “Weather Systems” was released. I squealed when I noticed that Anathema would tour Luxembourg with this album. For me, they reached their creative peak with this one. Maybe it is also their most commercially accessible album, even if the style is more progressive. With the help of a new producer who pushed the band to step even further out of their comfort zone, an exceptional record was made. It opened the doors to a new generation of fans.
A live album followed. “Universal”. It’s not a perfect album by far, the first minutes are filled with little slips, and the nervousness of the band is palpable. But it is also one of the few live albums that let me feel the energy even though I was not there in Bulgaria. The songs the fans know and love were arrange with a classic orchestra. Strings added an extra special atmosphere to the songs. An intense album indeed.
The sound evolved further. More electronic elements found their way into the music of Anathema. On the album “Distant Satellites” (2014), other new classics can be found. The album in its entirety, did not appeal to me, but several songs and their stories caught me off guard too. And that’s all one can ask for.
“Anathema” is a song for and about the band; at the same time, it is very universal too. In 2014, I saw the band for the second time. It was at that gig that I planned my memorable trip to Brussels to see Her Name is Calla. So many memories are related to Anathema and their music. They are intensely attached to my life.
But when they release their 2017 album “The Optimist,” they kind of lost me. Maybe I had grown? Maybe too much happened. The band claimed this album to be their best yet. A sequel of sorts to the 2010 album “We’re Here Because We’re Here”. The album did not really grab me. I wrote a (positive) review about it, it can be found on this very blog too. And yet, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to see Anathema live again. This time, I went all by myself. I wrote a post about that gig. I was in the middle of a depressive episode; maybe that played an essential part in how I perceived that night too.
In 2014/2015, Daniel Cavanagh, founding member, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist of Anathema, launched a crowdfunding campaign for a solo album. It consisted of cover versions that held memories and meaning for the artist, hence the name “Memory and Meaning”. Of course, I supported one of the people who influenced most of my life. I ordered a handwritten lyric sheet for the song “Everything”.
It is framed and has a special place in my home. A funny one too: it hangs on the wall of my guest bathroom. As a surprise, the father of my kids ordered a personalised song that was sung just for me. It was “Forgotten Hopes”. And although it is not the best and it sounds as if he was sitting in a tank, I adore the personal dedication and the way Dan said my name. I sent an email to thank him for the note written in red on the lyric sheet, and wouldn’t you know, he replied. I was over the moon. And I also realized that, even though I had adored his mind for almost 20 years by then, he was just as human, as damaged, and fragile as me.
A long post just to say that I am sad today. I can’t imagine a musical world without Anathema in it. And I seriously hope that every member of the band will find happiness, love, (mental) health, hope, and new ways to be creative. I am sure a decision like this was not made lightly and impulsively. And who knows, maybe they will reunite in a couple of years. Every member of the band has music in their veins, and I am convinced that there is more to come.
Thank you, Anathema, for decades of making me feel understood and at home. I owe a lot to this band. Without them, I would not be a poet; without them, half of my poems would never have been written. Without them, their dedication and passion, I would not be the person I am right now.
For the first time in a long while, I slept through the night. I didn’t wake up as rested as I would have liked, but I felt happy – lighter than I usually do. Maybe it’s because I spoke a lot about my family yesterday. I don’t know. And I don’t want to overthink. Here is a list, I wrote spontaneously, with things that make me happy. Would you do me a favour? In the comments, share one or more things that make you happy. Let’s spread some positivity.
Standing in the blowing wind
The smell of rain
A dish that turned out particularly well
Receiving mail – personal mail (emails too)
Looking at my books and flipping through them
Listening to music, singing and dancing along
A good book – with a story that is gripping
A memory that was almost forgotten and puts a smile on my face
Seeing myself through the eyes of others
Sleeping through the night without interruption
Seeing people I like being happy
Being good at my job
Hearing a song that touches the right spaces inside of me for the first time
Driving with the windows down
Seeing plants grow
Rainbows and soap bubbles
A long bath
That look in the eyes of my kids – between awe and she’s crazy
Waking up and writing a list of things that make me happy…
Now it’s your turn… What makes you happy or feel light.
It’s 2:45 in the morning, and I am wide awake. This hasn’t happened in a while and I feel how my mood is changing. I am irritated with myself because I am to blame for tonight’s insomnia. I was tired but had an appointment tonight. I thought it would be good to have a cup of coffee. I should have drunk espresso instead. No matter how many espressos (espressi?) I drink in the evening, I always sleep through the night.
Also, it is hot, my partner had too much beer (TMI: his farting keeps me awake), and I need to get up for work in three hours.
I tried avoiding my phone for a long while, but gave up eventually. I probably had 2 hours of sleep so far.
On a positive note, I sold two books, and the more I think about it, the happier I about the release. Just 3 more hours at work, and I will be on leave until August 25th. I bought a dress for a wedding, it is unusually colourful, but I look good in it. Waiting for the first review of my novel.
Most of my thoughts these days revolve about the novel and how readers perceive it.
I should try to catch some sleep.
It is late, and I can’t sleep. You were on my mind these last days. A lot. All the time. It is good that we are strangers right now, but once in a while, I would love it if we were acquaintances again. Ah, stranger. If you only knew what I know. Am I awake in your dreams? Some nights, I dream myself away to you. My head on your chest, your fingers combing my hair. Sweaty from the day, our skin would stick together, and unbothered, we would lead a naked life. Naked body, naked soul. I close my eyes, and I see you. Always yours, “marriage material”
I first shared about my intention to publish my novel early this year, but a couple of setbacks made me drop my imaginary deadline.
Then last week, I didn’t have to go to work because there was no work for me left to be done… I was angry. Very much so. I felt useless and unneeded – and those are things similar to rejection – I can’t deal with them. I had to do something, and I dove into my manuscript for Heart of Stone. There was still a lot of work to do, and I did it. It took many hours, but in the end, I got it done, and I think/I hope there aren’t any typos left.
Upload, publish done.
That was the easy part. The cover had been done long before – I designed it myself, with a picture I took myself too. The picture inspired the title of the book.
The hard part was sharing with the world that I had written a novel that is almost 300 pages long. (291 pages of story). But, with a little shove and a lot of convincing, I did it. I shared on Instagram, on Twitter, and on FB. FB is the scariest because there is only family and people I really really really like. Their opinion matters.
And wouldn’t you know? They didn’t even ask about a synopsis, they simply asked where to buy the book. They will be surprised to read an English same-sex romantic novel. But, that they offered some support, albeit driven by curiosity, that means the world to me.
By now, Heart of Stone is available as paperback and ebook on Amazon worldwide. Mid-August, I will receive 10 copies that I can share and send around the world. One is already spoken for. 9 are left.
(Clicking the links will lead you to amazon.com – you will leave this site.)
I am proud of this achievement. It took me a while to come to terms with it, but yes, I did it. The first copy of the book went to the UK, to North Wales. That man bought his copy before I even told the masses that my book existed, and before I had the chance to correct the final typos. His copy of Heart of Stone is truly unique. And I will never forget his generosity and kindness.
Now, I will have to see if I can come up with a next book. There is only one older story of mine that deserves to be made into a paperback, but I am not sure if it will ever happen. Every Second, Forever. It is about a man who catches HIV and his journey through life, living with the virus. But, that book was written even before Heart of Stone, and therefore it is out of date. We’ll see what will happen.
Heart of Stone – it is out now, ready for your eyes. It will hit you right in the feels, I promise.
This week, Aaron gave us the following prompt: immortal.
I didn’t write anything new, but it reminded me of an image I created and shared recently.
The black background is a close-up of a vinyl record. The dots are the flash of my mobile camera, and the words and the name are mine.
I write a lot of fiction, but some of it is inspired by people in my life or those who are not in my life anymore. When I wrote the above quote, I thought about a special man who taught me many valuable lessons over the years and who will forever have that special place in my heart. And because he has that special place inside my heart, he is immortal. I write about him, about who he was to me and how he made me feel. I fantasise about what could have been and what never was.
When I think of you while I write, then you will become immortal too. Like Aaron who shares questions, reviews, these writing prompts, and much more on his blog.
I believe that it takes a long while to be truly and completely forgotten. Everything we do has an impact on the people around. Isn’t that a nice and scary thought?
Or, as the Austrian Post-Rock band Our Ceasing Voice said: The only ones dead (are those who are forgotten)
(From the album “When the Headline Hit Home” 2011)