The Word that Cried Wolf

Being both a “blogger” and, more importantly, a teenager, I am no stranger to reading a general version of the English language that has been adapted to the needs of a more technologically savvy generation; in other words “PCs r gr8″. Unless of course you are reading the comments on YouTube and other such websites, as then you are most likely to see sentences that have no relevance to anything anyone else has said, and by reading these you are somehow automatically defined as a homosexual by every user.
If the misuse of the word “gay” on social media is a one problem in our society then the overuse of other words is another evil. Again, on YouTube everything is described as “awesome!!!!!” and “incredible!” so often that these words no longer have the same meaning that they did when they first surfaced. Whilst this isn’t a problem in the scheme of things, it has the added effect of passing on this plague to other words that really do need to stand apart. The most important of these I have found is the simple word “Sorry“.
Recently my house has been overrun by small children, and it is interesting seeing their take on the word in the instance of one of them using it as a way to escape trouble for smacking the other. Adult conversations aren’t that much different, and I use sorry for a lot of things, like when I accidentally move in someone’s way on the street or when I tell a bad joke, or break wind. The point of this is that when you actually need sorry, that’s when you’ll find that it really isn’t enough. There’s a difference between saying it as an escape route and genuinely wanting to take back every mistake you have ever made. You cannot convey the latter in the word sorry as it is often taken as being the former, and then the statement itself becomes hollow and I often wish I had not said the word in the first place.
When it really matters, and when I am not crying wolf, I want to put my heart into words. Instead, the word can disguises your heart.
The worst part is that we are even abbreviating sorry now.
Soz.

Care: What’s the issue here?

Here is an article I wrote for R Voice magazine last month that deals with my experience of being in care. Thought I’d publish it here for you all.

The Casey Family Programs Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study was a fairly extensive study of various aspects of children who had been in foster care. It noted that 80% of ex-foster children are doing “poorly”.” – Wikipedia!

This is what I found when I Googled the negative effects of being a child in care. I did this partly out of curiosity to see what I could find, as I wondered how someone could translate the complex situation of being a looked-after child into words, and as it turns out “foster care” has it’s own Wikipedia page that goes on to list a lot of the emotional and mental consequences that care can have on young people.
The vagueness of this statement I think demonstrates just how difficult it is to explain what being in care is like; it means different things to different people, and whilst some treat it as a positive experience I think that concluding that “80% ” of those who grew up in care are doing “poorly” doesn’t quite grasp the issue, to say nothing of those who are still being looked after.
Being in care is difficult in one sense because of it’s paradoxical nature. Care systems are set up to protect vulnerable children who have had a difficult time in life, with the aim of integrating them into a normal society in which it is safe for them to express themselves without them facing the issues that had set them apart from others their own age. However, what often becomes the reality is a negative stigma of both the young people and the system as a whole that leaves people often feeling just as disconnected as they had been before. This is, I think, the first issue that someone who is new to the system has to face. It is not the fault of either the carers or the children, it is just a simple truth that due to the lack of foster families and available placements, the situation that one person finds themselves in may be completely different to another child in care. When I went into care, I was lucky enough to be housed with my brother, therefore retaining an aspect of familiarity in an otherwise alien environment. For others, this is not the case. The uncertainty of moving with siblings and long-term placements can make a young person feel insecure and abandoned, making it very difficult for them to stay in one place and build up a network of friends and experiences. This factor alone often creates anger, anxiety and issues of attachment that can stay with them for the rest of their life.
If you are struggling in care, I think it is important to remember that ultimately the people around you are there to help you. Through your carers or your social worker you have access to masses of support that you only need ask for, with organisations such as ECLAS providing educational and social benefits such as cultural visits and mentors, and you can request the support that is going to help you. No matter how hard your situation feels, you are in control, and the what I would recommend more than anything is a simple change in outlook. It may be difficult at first, but if you begin to accept the situation you are in and decide to move forward because it’s what you want, and because you want to improve your situation for yourself, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. You can start existing as the person you want to to be and believe me, your situation may well end up as a benefit, due to all the opportunities and support that the system can give.

Being explicit

My words are not poetry.
My words are just words, showing the truth as I see it, the world as I feel it, knowing that tomorrow my words could change completely.
Poetry expects. It projects depth, and meaning. Every word connotes the authors intention, when often what’s left is just readers invention, and while this deserves attention can we really be sure?
Somehow, I don’t think I care anymore.
Because I’m a fan of the honest outburst that packs more of a punch. I won’t mince my words and leave you with a hunch of what I could really be saying. Ultimately my viewpoint may not even matter, and my defence is weakened by everything I don’t know. But anything I have to the Jury I’ll show. Because I don’t want to pretend I give more than I do.

These words they will mean nothing, until they mean something to you.

And that’s why I appreciate poetry for what it is: an art. But I will not commend it for reflecting a larger part of life than it does. Elliot and Keats… they know their way around words. But even trying to rhyme words for me feels like putting life on a stage, and my rhythms jump around like every thought I’ve ever put on a page.
Because my prose is not perfect. But neither am I.
Despite this, I’ll carry on saying what I mean, because words really can work wonders. They just don’t have to always be pretty and neat.
Even reading this makes me feel pretentious.

Noise.

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He filled his lungs and screamed.
The words themselves were redundant; all he cared about was the noise, the need to be heard, the need to be noticed. Again and again he bellowed, losing himself in the feeling, the emotion.
Was it hatred, or despair?
Was it because he was afraid, or empowered?
The emotions themselves were blurred together; all he cared about were the people with their banners, their rainbow flags and their leather trousers. The smiles on their faces and their hands clasped together. He cared about the grass beneath their feet, being trampled by the crowds defiling his garden, and his space. …How dare they?!
HOW DARE THEY?!!
He screamed and yelled, throwing all of his spite and hatred at them, begrudging them their parade and their community. Their complete and utter disobedience with nature.

But these were lost as mere syllables, lost and drowned out by the wind, the same wind that was pushing this crowd forward. They were empowered, and did not notice him. Those who did look his way saw nothing but a statue.
Despite all his protestations, that is what he remained: A statue, cold and impassable.
A relic, unwanted.
Obsolete.

I mentioned Freud, how clever am I?

When are the guilty ones innocent?
When is the fool a genius?
When are the promiscuous chaste, and faithful?
When can we not tell the difference?
The answer….?

When these people are family.

We may be open to a degree about our flaws, but however much we argue with family we cannot always see them in black and white. Even those from broken homes long for their parents to be good somewhere, as that is how it is supposed to be. Freud even associated God with this desire in fact, and even if our families aren’t angels, they certainly will never be demons, not really. Maybe they are a bit lazy, or unmotivated; stupid even. But family creates a barrier that means we cannot always accept it, because in doing so we are accepting these qualities in ourselves.
So no, they aren’t lazy, or stupid, they’re just…misunderstood. I know these people; it’s the expectations of the world that define them as such.
I know these people…

Oxygen

A breath; that’s all.
A common response to the commonest call, something we do without thinking but which helps keep us alive.
Have you ever noticed the fact that if you pay attention to it, your breathing becomes more strained, as if the act of recognition somehow brings with it a weight that is contrary to the breath itself?
Because a breath can say a thousand words. It can display ecstasy, passion, worry. It can be quick, or drawn out: exasperated.
When all is considered, all of our actions are undertaken and concluded with a breath, subconscious or not.
I breathe, because I’m living.
I breathe, because it’s started, and I’ll breathe when it’s all over. the words go in, mirrored by a sharp intake of breath. I look down that path and think of all the breaths I’ll take before I can let that air out again.

Nothing like a first time

My first holiday abroad: filled with misconceptions and oversights that have all helped to make it seem so magical. Like the fact that as exciting as the plane is, when you arrive at Palma Airport you still have a long, stuffy coach journey to get to your hotel that acted as my first taste of foreign weather. I am also unaccustomed to passport control and all the rituals of an airport, but this being the first time (well, nearly, as the only other time I only had hand luggage) meant that I was undeterred by the waiting times and the monotony of baggage claim. For me it was a new world, and I felt angry at all the little darling children *cough* who were complaining that this was taking longer than last time. I had not experienced a “last time” and for me it felt like I’d had my holiday just by being in the airport. This was helped by the fact that I was surprised by my well-travelled girlfriend to the private lounge at the airport, with food and drink galore!
This is obviously strange coming from a guy who is nearly 18, but then again I am still excited on Christmas Eve and travelling through the air in a tin can was just the start of my excitement. Over the past week I have tried new foods, been able to swim in the sea without having to psyche myself up beforehand (Wales!), been on glass-bottomed boats and tried a large amount of cocktails because I’m just that manly. But as I said before, it was the oversights and small dilemmas that added to the sense of wonder; accidentally locking us out of our hotel room before breakfast: trying to navigate a new place and realising that I’d gotten lost for the fifth time that day: not realising that I had to pay for water in the hotel. Beyond all else the most monumental mistake was trying to book a trip to a water park without researching it first; believing ourselves to be heading towards water slides and overpriced attractions, we actually ended up in what I can honestly describe as hell on earth – Marineland, Palma. The gravity of our mistake (we had wanted “aqualand”) was realised when we requested our two adult tickets and the rep simply replied “oh my god!” Instead of a park full of exciting attractions, we got a small “zoo” full of bored children and suicidal adults. The slides were replaced with an abandoned play park. The attractions were replaced with mistreated turtles and a monkey with nazi-sympathies, in full view of a bird that was wholly cannibalistic. We trudged around the place in 10 minutes and, deciding we couldn’t stomach the depressed dolphins, we left and waited for the coach home on a beach for 5 hours.
But I recognise this as just part of the fun, a story (although an expensive one) to tell people who would laugh at our mistake. This, combined with the hilarious waiter who gave me a suspicious amount of tequila, the boring receptionist who held a grudge over a bottle of water, and the elderly couple we kept running into complaining about the resort, will always stay with me. If it had been crap, it still would have been mine. But this holiday was amazing for all the right reasons, and the shine of “first-time” really made all the difference.