Bibelots

a place for the curious

Category: thoughts (page 1 of 5)

A collection of seemingly random thoughts about anything that comes to mind.

Mixed feelings

blank cassette

mixed music,
mixed feelings

Music is a gift. That part I’m sure of.

Hearing music, being able to play it, singing it beautifully or singing it as if no-one else exists in the world. Tapping it out, hearing it as you run your fingers along a fence, sensing it in the pulse of another. Feeling it. It all blends to a sweet and personal harmony.

Music is everywhere and it’s a joy.

But there’s a gift that I miss. Or sometimes think that I do. A package of music that’s had its time.

A million years ago, there was the mixtape.

You could make your own; tape recorder shoved up hard against the radio, finger hovering on the worn red record button, waiting for that song. You know the one. It kept you up at night, trying to remember the words. It made your heart ache, when it came on air. Or it made you want to dance. You couldn’t not dance.

An enthusiastic friend might gift a mixtape to you. A box full of the sounds they wanted you to love. Maybe they were trying to cure you of your poppy, synthy, electronic ways. Maybe it was so that you might one day fall for their kind of music, or even fall for them. I always fell in love with the songs, but it never cured me. A good mixtape could blow my mind. It opened musical doors. Hell, a great one could unearth entire musical cities.

There are different ways to do this now. Digital ways. Shared playlists, and radio stations that like to think they know what you want. The word mixtape has taken on its own life and lots of folk use it to mean the mix, not the media. But, for me, this hasn’t replaced what’s gone. It still does and always will mean a cassette with a wound up gift of sound.

I miss it, absolutely. But that’s not to say I miss the technology. I guess that’s it – what I’m not so sure of. Cassette tapes were thick with imperfections. They wore out. Got tangled up. Unravelled and jammed. Yet there’s a little piece of that imperfect mess that I long for. The last few seconds of the captured next song. The slow devolve of the sounds and words of your favourite track; your most adored bit of tape.

It doesn’t make sense that I miss this. At the time, it annoyed me. Drove me mad. Made me swear and throw things. All the same, these imperfections are what made those songs uniquely mine. No-one else heard these songs in the same way that I did. Not the same order, not the same quality, not even the same loss through overuse and over-love.

And that little nest, that non-robotic soup is, I think, what made this music last. I can still see my favourite tape. My favourite song. That friend’s handwriting. The day the tape broke. Too much heart, too much worship.

As the world around me seeks for more and more stylised perfection, I guess that’s what I miss. A little box of chaos, music and imperfect love.

The love of words

A firewoman in full gear


  A fiery woman: ‘brandweervrouw’
Image via Nationaal Archief

Funny, isn’t it.

People sometimes say that names don’t hold meaning. That they don’t define you. But they can. And in the age of the internet, usernames are an opportunity to add meaning to who you are. Yes, my name is Rosalie. It’s a name I was given. It’s nice. It’s got rhythm. It’s not too common. Often though, when people call me by it, I wonder who they’re talking about. Rose, I’ll go by sometimes. That’s nice and short. But it’s still pretty floral. Sometimes Rosa, if I’m so inclined. In reality, that’s just playing with form.

Ever since the internet came along, I’ve had usernames that aren’t my actual name. More often than not, they don’t disclose gender. Sometimes they deliberately play with age. Beyond that, there’s barely any thought put into them. I’ve had a tiger, an item of clothing, a waterbird and quite a selection of sentences. They all seemed nice at the time. The ones that lasted are the ones who attracted their own audience. On and off through time, an occasional username has stuck and held its own. I don’t entirely understand why. I do know what a gift it is. That it allows me to play with my sense of self.

I’m not sure that the playfulness comes only from the name out front. Sometimes the label can begin to define the person inside. But these names, they’re honestly about what lies underneath. The strong names. The hard names. The silly names. The lovely and the loving names; they’re all me. Or aspects of me.

In a time when privacy is being eroded and identity is claimed to be about trust, this is when I want most to protect these names. Not just for me, but for every single person that needs to breathe. That needs protection. That should be given a space to play, grow and live.

When I went with the username @theloveofwords some years ago, I was working hard to find a way to spend more time with words. I was playing with them, and writing more during the day and creating more at night. So, on a whim I went with my heart. A heart full of words. I wasn’t hiding who I am. After all, here it is, it’s me. But, as ever, it’s a version of me. It is not the whole of me, but it often becomes a very large part of who I am.

No. These names were never just a name. I would only be fooling myself. It was never nothing. Every time, it was about the little things that I love. This time, it was about the words. All of them, big and small.

I do spend more time walking among the wild, wild words now. It wasn’t an accident. I’ve worked hard. And this latest name has made it fun. It calls to me. The words too; they call to me. They define me. What this is, is love.

Yours

The love of words

Podlike: the teaser

lots of little blue lights

Shining a light on all the  little podcasts

I like a good podcast, me. Even a not-so-good one.

I love to listen to podcasts, talk about podcasts and, whenever I can, talk up a good podcast (or two).

Although I don’t use iTunes, I still sometimes review podcasts there, since I’m told that’s how a show can attract new listeners. But I don’t find shows through iTunes. It can be by word of mouth, but usually it’s through reading. Blogs, news stories, books, newsletters, tweets. You get the idea.

What’s this article? This is a teaser for what’s to come. Every few weeks (maybe more, maybe less) I’m going to spend a couple of hundred words talking up a favourite episode or series/theme of a random podcast show. It might be because it’s topical, it might be because it’s new. Most likely, it’ll be because it’s made my heart soar, made me laugh or made me think.

Listening to podcasts is usually such a solitary, close and personal thing. The people behind the shows put so much of themselves, heart and soul, into what I listen to. So, it’s about time I shared some of the love.

Stay tuned.


The ‘unwritten’ rules (so far)

So, I started this out with a few unwritten rules. Given I like writing, I thought I should write them up.

  1. One podcast review per podcast show / series
    (this is heartbreaking and cruel but stops me from just reviewing all the RadioLab shows ever made)
  2. I don’t have to subscribe to the show
    (there a MILLION shows and I can’t subscribe to all of them, but I can raise the profile of some beautiful things)
  3. Try and be open to suggestions
    (I want to find new shows and help others do the same, if you there’s an ep you want me to review, I’ll listen)
  4. I’ll be positive, but honest
    (I get tired of the amount of negativity around, so I won’t be sitting here just pulling something apart)

In podcast vernacular, this podlike article is a teaser and so you can call it episode 0, if you like. I will. Because I can. Also, If you make podcasts and have a particular episode you’d like to have me shine a light on, get in contact.

Finally, if this all new to you and you’ve never listened to a podcast, now’s a good time to try:

On the act of writing

The pen is mighty, so is the keyboard

Typists, the old fashioned way

Typing: the grace, the beauty,
George Eastman House on Flickr’s The Commons

After spending my whole day surrounded by words working on writing,  editing writing, and plain old writing-writing I come home and write some more.

Sometimes, of course, I don’t. I might do something visual, make something real or do something physical. I might even allow myself to be enveloped in the hedonistic act of reading.

Often though, when I can’t imagine I can fit anything else in my day, when I thought there was nothing left but sleep, I write.

I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want do this. As soon as I could read, I wanted to write. More to the point, I wanted to write stories. Like everyone, I’ve had my ups and downs with it. When I’m exhausted, what I want to tap is boxed up and unreachable. Before computers came along, my hands would often cramp and I’d be dispirited before I could even begin.

I occasionally hear people say ‘the youth of today have lost the art of handwriting’. I’m not that young. I know how to wield a pen. But, actually, I think that’s bollocks. They know how to write. They also know how to type, swipe and whatever the hell else you can throw at them.

So, yes, I know how to put pen to page. I can fight you, sword tip for pen nib. I love a good fountain pen; dipper and cartridge both. I have notebooks and pencils for capturing fleeting ideas. But for the outpouring of storytelling, it’s the gentle, loving stretch of fingers across a keyboard that calls to me.

Let me describe it to you.

Open the lid. Watch the keyboard glow. Allow yourself a few minutes to disperse busy thoughts. Get it out of your system and onto twitter, if you must. Open your manuscript. Or start a new document. Don’t stare at that blank screen, it’s only going to stare back. No. Run your fingers over the keys. Oh, let’s just call it what it is. Caress the keys. It’s a slow dance of creativity and love. Ready?

Now.

Close your eyes. Feel your breath. Empty your mind.

And go.

Hours or minutes later, you’ll find me still. Curled up in a tight embrace of my own making. If it’s going well, I won’t even notice you’ve arrived. I’ll be somewhere astonishing, wild and new.

Pens, notebooks or keyboards. Oral, digital, or physical. Honestly, none of that matters.

What matters is that a story is told. Told and allowed to unfold.

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