Sunday 26 February 2012

The Wire

This week we finished the last episode of series 5 of 'The Wire', having watched all previous series during the 5 months that we've been married.  I have to say I was sad to come to the end.  It's the most I've watched of any series, and the first time I've not got bored/put off, so it musta had something about it.  I won't go into detail, or give away any of the plot, but it's definitely worth watching if you haven't already. 

I did attempt writing some deep, hard-hitting review, but I just sounded like I was trying to be a clever critic, and I reckon a whole lot of people have done that better than me.  So for now, here's some reasons....

...Why we loved the Wire (in no particular order):

1. We learnt a whole lot about Baltimore, somewhere I'd barely even thought of before

2. Some hilarious uses of swear words (Clay Davis' "Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit" and McNulty and Bunk figuring out a murder scene using only 'the F-word')

3. The way it demonstrated the interwoven relationship between police, politics, children, press, poverty, crime and 'ordinary people'.  Everything's connected.

4. The way it blurs - well totally destroys - the stereotypical demarkations of right and wrong, good and bad, and makes very clear the damaging effects of corruption and greed, in whatever arena they exist.

5. Nothing's glamourous.  Nobody's perfect.  Happy endings don't really exist, and hope is hard to come by, but there are moments of victory, of tenderness, of joy, of life being worth living and carrying on.

6. Some brilliant acting and characters that totally drew you in.  Wallace, D'Angelo, Stringer, Bubbs, Omar, Lester... we'll miss you!

Brighton on a Springtime Sunday

Always full of colour
This hotel always looks kind of lonely to me...
West Pier, also looking a bit lonely

I know it's out of focus, but I like it!

Monday 20 February 2012

Hope remains

I have to say, lately going to church has felt like more of a duty than anything - because I work for them the lines seemed to get blurred on a Sunday and sometimes it feels like 'just another day in the office'.  But I did drag myself out of bed this Sunday, and I was really glad that I did.  To me it seemed like it was what a church service should be... honest, real, with lots of people sharing their thoughts/hopes/joys/struggles/prayers; being thankful for many blessings yet admitting that things aren't all perfect and easy, but encouraging each other to keep on keeping on... because in the midst of trouble and uncertainty, we remember together what the God we follow is like, and remember that He's bigger than all the the things we're going through, and that He loves us, and doesn't let go

During the meeting, one lady sang a song she'd written, which was so honest and beautiful.  It was about hope and struggle and gratitude and walking the line between light and dark, life and death...

It reminded me of something I've written recently about hope.  I wrote it for Wordlive, and it'll be published on their website in May this year:

Sunlight creeping in through a crack in the wall
Birdsong spilling into prison cell
Lights of home on the horizon
The rock clung to so as not to be washed away
Anchor for souls
The hand that holds the kite string, keeping it from being blown into obscurity
Unseen certainty
Fixed point in motion
Whispered promise
A spark in the depths
The belief that tomorrow might be different
That now is not forever
But that today could affect eternity
Our necessary companion in the darkness
Making valid the phrase ‘not yet’ – because one day
One day
Rescue will come

So we clench our fists
And grit our teeth
And set our eyes ahead
And keep on
And keep on
And keep on

Because of the gift that we chose to grab hold of
And never let go
Guarding it carefully inside our ribcage
Where it weighs heavy like precious metal
Yet flutters fragile like a bird
Keeping us breathing
Sustaining life
Whilst slowly breaking us down


Is all

That remains

Sunday 19 February 2012

Celebrating Basil :-)

Last night we went up to London to a Spurs restaurant for some delicious steak.  It's a popular restaurant in South Africa (I'm not sure if that's where it's originally from...) and the reason we went was to celebrate the birthday of a rather special South African man:  Basil Nicholas Quinn.

I first knew Basil as the boyfriend, then fiance, then husband of my friend Helen.  Actually I didn't really know him until he was hubby as I was away from Brighton the year that he moved down.  Then Basil became my neighbour when he and Helen moved onto the same road as me.  Soon Basil became a good friend, and their flat my second home.  A few months later and I was going out with Basil's brother, so I saw him even more!  I got to know Basil better when we worked together at City Gate Church on Fridays, as we'd set out the chairs for the afternoon tea dance, to the soundtrack of Basil's dubstep.  Then there's been braais and films and drumming and beach trips and beer and card games and dancing round the flat...  Basil has seen the worst of me, the grumpy, the tired, the stressed, the tearful me - and has always been ready with a big hug and the offer of dinner.  And now, as of September, Basil is also my brother!

So there's the background.  And here's the things I love about Basil, which I'm sure are shared by the many people that know him (and if you'd met him, you won't have forgotten it!)

1.  His hugs.  Basil is about three times my size (almost! haha!) and his hugs are the kind that envelope you and make you feel like you can face the day
2.  His generosity.  Don't know many people who are so willing to share what they have with others.
3.  His hospitality.  The door is always open, and Basil seems to gather people wherever he goes.
4. His cooking.  Food is always somewhere in the equation.  He makes a mean rack of lamb.  Plus many other tasty dishes... (way to my heart :-) )
5.  His passion.  When Basil is into something, you know about it.  Like engines.  And that weird instrument he plays to everyone. haha!
6.  His determination.  Massive respect bruv for how hard you work.
7. His knowledge.  About so many random things picked up along his crazy life!
8. His style.  never know what facial hair/tattoos/piercing/hats are gonna appear next!
9.  The crazy way he can talk his way into anything.  Like getting a birthday candle in his steak. !
10.  His dreams.  Can't wait to see them happen.

Those are just a few things, it's hard to put a label on everything when it comes to people.  And I wouldn't want to.  Because Basil Quinn is one of a kind, and it's a privilege to call him family.  Happy Birthday Bas!!!!! x 

Friday 17 February 2012

Standing on the Edge

There's a reason that my blog is called "Standing on the Edge".  It's the place I've often dwelt in throughout my life, in a whole lot of different ways.  Social circles, cultures, conversations, opinions, style, feeling...  It's both painful, and exciting.  It's uncomfortable yet where I am drawn to, again again.

Like sometimes I long for that one tight knit group of friends that I know that I know I belong to just as much as everyone else - and I'd know immediately who to call on a bad day, and they'd know they could call me, and we'd know everything there is to know about each other.  But it's never been like that.  Which is sometimes freakin' lonely.  And being lonely is hard hard hard.  But then it's also because I can relate to more than just one type of person.  And i delight in variety.  I love what I learn from different people and groups of people.  And I'm hungry for diversity.  Perhaps there's a selfishness too: perhaps I get bored of too much of one thing, or is it that perhaps I fear people will get bored of me after too long? (Which is why marriage was not something I was expecting, or planning, and why it's still a surprise to me - because having someone there - every single day - and spending this amount of time with me [by choice and not because they're my twin sister!] is totally new to me, and pretty scary.  But it's also GOOD and a gift, and I think God knew I needed someone to stand with me as I stand on the edge...).

Standing on the edge.  From the edge I think you sometimes see more.  You pick up on the interactions of a group: you notice the flash of anger, the affectionate gaze, the attempts to be heard.  From the edge of the cliff you see the best view.  You bridge two worlds.  And you sometimes get the best of both.  But you can also miss out.  From the edge you may not be heard so well.  When you're on the edge you're less easy to reach.  When you're on the edge you seldom feel like you belong.  (Strangely, some of the times when I've felt most 'part', most 'belonging', most 'in the midst' are when I've been in very 'foreign situations' - in places far from the one I'd be expected to call home, be it geographically or socially).  On the edge we are perhaps more self -conscious, more self-aware, which can lend itself to sensitivity and wisdom, but can also result in fear and restraint and missing the moment.  

But despite the pros and cons, on the edge is where I most often find myself, sometimes it's an escape, sometimes I feel I've been forced there, but I think I must choose it sometimes too.  And right now, I feel trapped.  I feel like if there's an edge, there's nothing on the other side of it, but more like there's just a wall reaching to the sky and it's not possible to walk along this wall like I'd usually do, and I cannot see beyond it.  I'll clarify.  Or try too.  I've been in Brighton for 6.5 years.  This is the longest I've lived anywhere except for Basingstoke where I lived for 8 years until I was 12.  This means that Brighton is also more 'home' than anywhere else.  My church is here, some of my best friends are here, and it's the same for my husband.  Thing is I never intended to stay.  Lots of other people did and have gone, and I'm STILL HERE.  I must have walked along London Road nearly 1000 times.  I am no longer shocked by what I see.  I have piercings and hippy clothes and I like drum and bass and reggae nights and I perform poetry at open mic nights and I suppose I 'fit' here more than I would in most places in the UK!  I go to the same building at least 5 days a week and see the same people every week, some every day.  And this is not bad in itself.  There are some brilliant people at work/church and it's a privilege to get to know them more.  And I feel so selfish saying this, but it just doesn't feel enough.  Not enough to have a job and a flat and a husband and friends and a church.  I feel guilty that I feel so disatisfied.  I KNOW there's a choice of contentment in there somewhere which I suppose will take me a lifetime to get better at.  I'm not trying to excuse myself or say I've got a hard life. I really haven't.  But I feel frustrated and restless in every bone of my body and am desperate for some kind of change, some kind of adventure, some kind of something.

And I know the arguments for staying in a place, for commitment, for the long-term - I really do and have such respect for those who are plodding on day after day, investing and investing and not complaining.  And perhaps it's an excuse.  perhaps it's a get out clause.  BUT perhaps it isn't - because I just feel like I'm not made to stay, I'm not made to sit still, I'm not made to limit myself, to be doing one thing in one place with one group of people for ever.  I'm a pilgrim, a pioneer, a wild goose.  And right now I feel like I'm trapped.  And I'm trying to be patient, and I'm trying to learn, and be more gracious, and be satisfied.  But I'm not doing so well.  And I am longing, hungry, to stand on an edge once again.


Thursday 16 February 2012

love, unfailing

Here's me and Mr Q all dressed up on a Saturday night... we were about to go out for a yummy Chinese meal for a friends birthday (where I tried frogs legs for the first time!), and decided to dress up a bit.  Yes, believe it or not,that's us making an effort, I hope you can tell and appreciate ;-)  Mr Q even cracked out the suit, although had to wear a hoodie and a jersey underneath because it was so cold!  But he still looked mighty fine to me :-D

So.  This week sees us married for 5 months, engaged one year ago, celebrating our 3rd Valentine's day together, started dating (approximately) 3.5 years ago, and first met 4.5 years ago. Wow!  If you'd told me, in September 2008, on my first Sunday back at church after a year away in Spain, that a few years down the line I'd become the wife of that cute-quiet-guy-with-dark-hair-that-I've-not-seen-before-who-must-be-my-friends'-brother... well, I don't know what I would have thought!  Possibly I'd have felt excited, terrified and utterly disbelieving.  It wasn't the 'right time' just yet anyways, so a good thing I didn't have an inkling of what was to come.  Except it's funny how I remember that day so clearly.

And here we are, learning how to be a Mr and Mrs, learning how to really support each other when the going gets tough, slowly realising that this is forever (which is a relief, yet still a shock sometimes, and occassionally a little overwhelming).  Some days we relish each other's weirdness, and quirks.  Other days those differences seem like such a 'big deal' when really they are so insignificant and all that's required is a bit of give and take but the selfish side of me sometimes has a louder voice.  Somedays, or some moments in a day, I'm proud of how much of a team we feel, and how we 'get each other', then the next moment I'm thinking 'oh my gosh who is this man in my bed, and how on earth do I care for and love someone else besides myself, when I can barely hold myself together sometimes and I can't read his mind, and I don't share his past, and the future is all so very unknown'.   Yes today I'm feeling small.  And quite uncapable of being a wife.  And frustrated that I can't make 'everything OK' for someone I love when things are hard.

But I know tomorrow might be different, and that life happens one day at a time, and mornings are great because they are a chance to start over.  And I know there's plenty of wisdom and support around, we just gotta ask for help sometimes.  And I don't have to be his saviour and neither him mine. And I know it's OK not to have it all 'sorted', even though it's uncomfortable and I just don't like it!  But I know we musn't give up, because love doesn't give up.  *It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Love never fails, even though we might.  So I'm thankful that we know One greater, One who will never fail us.  One who first loved us.  One who showed us and shows us what love looks like.  One who IS love.

* 1 Corinthians 13:7

Sunday 12 February 2012

The Narrow Way?

I met up with a few friends this afternoon to talk about the book, "The New Conspirators", by Tom Sine.  I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it.  I happened to have to give a book review about it, which I'm glad about now because it means I've got several pages of notes on it (and don't actually own a copy).  ANYWAYS... that's besides the point.  It was good to chat about some of things we noted or were challenged by in the first couple of chapters.  The issues raised are things I've been thinking about quite a bit recently but it's good to step out of my head a bit and consider them with people that I am in 'community' with (we're part of the same church).  Especially since the focus of the book is (in a simplified nutshell): an exploration of how the church engages with the world and a challenge to rethink what this could look like.

There was a paragraph that stood out to us and summarised a lot of our conversations this afternoon:

"God has called us to live lives of difficult paradox, a painful negotiation between conflicting and competitive values, of seeking to cooperate with God wherever He is at work.  Such a position, full of ambiguity and irony, is also full of faith and hope" (p.73).

And this made me wonder, is this the 'narrow way' that Jesus referred to? - This not being swept along in the tide of current culture and all of the pressures and priorities that go with it whilst at the same time not withdrawing totally from the world around us and becoming irrelevant or invisible.  For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).  I've never known quite what to make of this verse, because to me following Jesus is also a whole lot about freedom, and space, and grace, and for all people.  SO maybe I'm wrong, but maybe it's more about this balance, which can sometimes feel like a tightrope, as we navigate our way through life, doing our best to love God and love people.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

flowers from a friend

just a pic to brighten up the blog, and the day...

my friend Letty sent us these sunflowers as a wedding present. She was living in Montreal at the time and couldn't make it to the wedding. But these flowers are just like her, a little bit of sunshine :-)

Speaking of flowers, Mr Q bought me some 'Monday' flowers this week, and brought them to me at work along with chocolate. What a man! We're both struggling a bit to stay positive about work at the moment, so it was a welcome treat. Will get a pic of them soon...