The Quiet City – post Thanksgiving catch up

A very special location

Happy belated Thanksgiving to other fellow Canadians. Just getting going again after a very busy weekend with not just cooking a turkey but also a wedding and getting ready for the Cookeilidh Celtic band’s next season.

Presently I am doing outlining of the remaining chapters. I had put this off as I wanted to let the book flow naturally from one section to the next but as I got to about Chapter three I realized that it wasn’t going to work.

There are lots of little parts and things that connect one person to another so you really have to map it out, so the train has stopped for a while as the tracks are being laid down. The book is presently sitting at just 34 pages which is still quite early and when I’m in transit I have done some reading and editing of that. My parents, who have always been my executive producers before have also gone over it and know the basic structure. My mom Joan Pogson is also working on a historical work about the “Scuzzy” which was a steamer that use to go up the Fraser River, through the Hell’s Gate Rapids, to deliver supplies to the miners.

Like I said before, this kind of thing runs in the family.

This is my Dad’s (Jim Pogson) book from his and his father’s (Roy Pogson) time in BC Hydro. My grandfather was head of BC Hydro for Vancouver Island and workled for the company back when they were the BC Electric company that also powered the streetcars.

Was studying more about those streetcars powered out of their station on the corner of Store Street and Pembroke and Discovery near the harbour. Eventually these cars did serve incoming passenger ships as well with signs saying “Downtown” prominently displayed on a front window .

You can definitely imagine the car emerging from the back entrance first thing in the morning to pick up commuters.

While some of my photos are admittedly shots from online there has been more and more actually going to locations to try to imagine how it all wouled work. I teased at some things going on around Johnson and Douglas on the book’s Instagram page and while I can’t say what I’m planning…

Douglas and Johnson

Interesting nearby alley

…I can say that that alley will have a connection and that in absolute honestly the intersection of Douglas and Johnson was the site of Victoria’s first graveyard.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge the bodies were moved to Pioneer Square on Quadra Street beside Christ Church cathedral.

There’s also other great locations worth checking out on foot such as…

the site of the David Spencer arcade before the fire of, you guessed it, 1910 and…

the Brown Jug saloon which almost to make up for it’s exciting, rough and ready history has turned into a very classy Birk’s jeweler’s.

The blogs are going to be more like this with letting you know little bits of where I’m at, with one final exception.

I will be releasing something very special at the end of the month so definitely stay tuned!

Anyways, back to work for me! Brewing more of my favorite tea, Tulsi ginger turmeric as it’s a wet day out there.

Have a great day yourself and thanks for catching up!

Please like and follow!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Beecher Bay

Goldblacks Stories – #1 Take Me Higher

Really had fun creating this and had to share it straight away! I was like.. shouldn’t I wait and be strategic with these but then just thought, it’s fine. Saturday is great for this so enjoy the clip with the little version of The Approach riff!

Cheers,

Tom

The Room called OOG

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Hi there!  My name is Cece Sawyer.  I am Tom’s girlfriend and I have a very strange tale to tell.

It all started back when we moved into the little apartment in Victoria, British Columbia a couple years ago.  Tom was always working.  Every single day it was a kiss goodbye before heading out to his office to do writing, heading out to do shows with the band or heading out to clean the big building up in Saanich.  He’d send me little texts now and again to let me know how things were going, and after doing some housework I would keep myself occupied with coming up with ideas or meeting the neighbours.  This would usually happen when I went downstairs to get the mail or do the laundry.

There were two strange things about the building.  One was how the staircase on the front of the building lead to a big empty room with plants.  We live on the top floor so this room is just one floor above us.  I remember when I first went up there.  The room was dark so I actually wondered for a moment if I was intruding on someone else’s space.

“Hello?” I said as I neared the dark room.

It was a bit silly as I found out, turning on the light to reveal a single room on the top of the building, filled with old furniture.  It was like someone had gone to a second hand store and bought everything.  Big leafy green plants were in every corner.  There was an old record player with one of those metal horns that you only see pictures of.  There were old couches that looked like the one my Grandma had in our house on the Beecher Bay Reservation where I was born.

And there were books.  So many books and old copies of National Geographic that I also hadn’t seen since being at Grandma’s house.  She had them in the basement and didn’t want to throw them out because they were Grandpa’s.  I recognized one of the ones that were on the coffee table in the room.  I was from the 1960’s and had a big pull out map of the moon.  There were issues with that classic yellow border about Zimbabwe and Nepal and the first plays in Greece.  I liked reading when Tom was away so at first I would just pop upstairs and go through the books.  Some of them were kept in this one shelf with a glass case and they looked very old, like they had been rescued from a sunken sea chest.  I had to be very careful as I open these books as the binding was very frail and the first couple pages had disappeared.

I did this until months ago when I asked our neighbour about the other room.

Down by the laundry room, and around the corner from the mailboxes was this room or apartment, or at least a door that had no number.  Over the security viewing hole, like an apartment’s door, was the word “OOG.”

To this day I’m not entirely sure why it said that, even with what I know now.  Or I think I have an idea.

Anyways, I noticed after a while that I had never seen anyone ever coming in our out of that door.  I was sure I would bump into someone when I carried our big, round laundry basket downstairs but it never happened.  I feel a little bad about this, but one time I even dared myself to listen closely.  I never had the nerve to knock or go right up to it. 

So, I ended up talking to our neighbour Wayne who had lived next to us on the top floor the whole time.  He’s lived there for just years and he was always going upstairs to take care of the plants. 

“Oh, that’s just storage.  Yeah, no-one actually lives there,” he laughed as he went upstairs with his mail.

So that was that, but don’t worry because it gets way weirder.

It was when I was doing laundry downstairs, in the big white room next to the OOG door.  I had just done the dry cycle and was putting clothes on the long table under the bulletin board.  Everything was going normal as I was taking clothes from the white basket and organizing them when one of the socks fell off the table and went right behind the dryer.  I was annoyed of course, but more relieved it missed the garbage with all the lint in it so I moved that out of the way and went down to reach behind the dryer.  The sock had somehow gone into this little square opening on the back of a dryer which was sort of hard to get to.  After moving the whole dryer a little and squeezing behind there I finally got it and was about to leave when a flash of something got my attention.

It was a key.  Attached to the key was a little brown wooden tag that said, you guessed it, “OOG.”

Now I know what I really should have done.  I should have popped it in the mail slot in the office since it was clearly property of the building and maybe they needed it to get into the storage room.  But maybe they had another key.  Surely they would have noticed if a key went missing.  I sat there kneeling for a bit looking at the little copper colored key and its wooden tag for a moment.  I heard the click of the front door of the building close and some people talking and at that moment the key slipped into my pocket.

I gathered up the rest of my laundry and went upstairs.

With the laundry put away and everything else done, my mind was immediately drawn back to the key.  I seriously tried to not think about it.  That was impossible.  I mean, it couldn’t hurt to look inside the little room.  I mean it was just a storage room and the building manager was only here for an hour in the morning.  It was already the afternoon.  As long as I closed the door behind me, no one would be the wiser.

And that’s exactly what I did, my heart just pounding the whole time until I closed the OOG door from the other side and found the light switch.

It was a storage room, alright.  It wasn’t just boxes but tonnes of stuff that I couldn’t work out what they were for.  The room had been a large bachelor suite on the lower front of the building and light from outside crept through the white curtains into the low light from the overhead, illuminating the dust and the hodge-podge of everything from long water pipes, to sinks to very old appliances.  I walked along the wall just kind of having a look.  I couldn’t see anything that was really that interesting as everything looked a bit old and I didn’t want to actually take anything from the room because that would be stealing.

After all, my rule was I was going to just look.  So, I was just looking.

Then I got to the door.  Not the same door that I had come from but one at the corner by the front window.  It was interesting to me because there was a door in the laundry room, so I naturally supposed this was going to lead back into that.  It was kind of funny as the door wouldn’t really need to be there.  The laundry room was literally around the corner from the front door so why would this flat need a second door just for that?  I opened it and came into a hallway.

That’s right, a hallway.

It was very short and went to another door that was locked from this side.  I have no doubt in my mind now that the second door is the door to the laundry room.  I’ve never gone through that way because that isn’t the interesting bit.  Stepping into the hallway is when it got interesting.

This is when I discovered what I have just come to call The Grotto.

For you see, between the door back into OOG and the door into the white tiles of the laundry room was an intersection of a hallway that sloped sharply down towards a blue painted door that had been left slightly open.  I could not resist this.  I went down and, just like upstairs…

“Hello?”

Nothing.

Going inside was a like a trip back into the nineteen sixties, not that I had ever been there.  What I found below what I thought was the lowest floor of the building was a fully furnished and rather extravagantly laid out apartment.  There was an old fridge that was thankfully empty (in no-one had been down here since the sixties…UGH!), big raised couches that curved around like something out of a magazine, doors of beads, paintings, more books and in one room there was even blankets hanging from the roof.  There was a glass ball in water that when you turned it on would turn about and put out little clouds of white smoke.  There were little eves in the wall that had shot glasses from all over the world and two pistols over the couch with mother of pearl grips.  There was some very expensive looking wine and family photos in the kitchen.  There was this one room that was locked and so help me, I couldn’t open that one.

And the photos!  The place was obviously rented by a very handsome young man back in the day, because he seemed to be in every photo next to famous people from Freddy Mercury to the Dali Lama. 

It took me a moment to realize…someone was still paying for this place.  Someone was paying for it but no-one had been down here in decades.  I looked to see if the television still worked, like the electricity.

It did. 

And this is where things got really crazy.

(To be continued!)

Government Street, 1910

 

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                Janice was the last person Samuel ever expected that afternoon. Outside the drowsy city moved on, the street cars, carriages and passersby oblivious to the moment she emerged into his store barely upsetting the chiming of the bell Samuel had nailed into the frame.

                There was nothing to prepare him for the moment.  That Thursday in mid September the morning sun glinted off the bottles on the west side of the room like they always did when he arrived to unlock the dispensery.  Sun poured across the street between the buildings on Government street.  The younger clerk arrived in a rush under the slight scowl of Samuel’s gaze, the key his was given lost somewhere in his coat pockets.  Samuel waited for a moment, looking over the rim of his steel frames as the man outside continued to fumble, his movements jerky and his face occasionally looking up to stare contrite at the older man in the white coat behind the black cash register.  Finally, pushing the latch to open the low swinging gate he came to the young man’s rescue, with the boy in the long coat and felt riding hat looking regretfully at the older face on the other side of the pristine, clear glass.

                “Eight thirty, Joshua,” the older man said simply as he opened the door.

                “I’m sorry sir, I mean…it’s not an excuse but the tram left early…I tried to run after it but…”

                “Well, at least you’re here,” he said as they both went back behind the counter surrounded by vials and bottles, the disinfecting alchohol in the large teardrop shaped glass and the wall of pestal and mortars.  The room smelled only slightly of lavender and the disinfectant that was used to clean everything in the white walled dispensary that sat near the corner of Broughton between the café and the grocery.

                The young man scurried into the back quickly as Samuel continued to go over the notes he made the day before on Mrs. Wensten’s prescription for anti-fungal cream and her Humalog diabetic insulin supplements.  He kept all his notes in perfect order, his handwriting as clean and clear as the Colonist’s printing press, with every necessary note organized within the confines of the single black leather book.  The book remained in the same place of his low front shelf, it’s corner’s frayed and smooth like the skin of a well worn leather shoe.

                Samuel had just finishing entering the journal notes when he realized they were getting closer to opening time.  Exactly fifteen and half minutes away by the pocket watch which never left his favorite red waistcoat, the watch a gift from a friend of the St. Andrew’s and Caledonia Society which he met with on Wednesdays like so many others who had come from Scotland or, like in his case, had parents from the old country. 

                Soon, Joshua emerged from the back of the dispensery in his white coat, doing the regular cleaning that was his job first thing each morning, only the young man was trying to do the same cleaning at twice the pace, quickly rushing over the furthest corner with the store’s straw broom.

                “Slow down there!” Samuel said firmly with his eyes never leaving the black book and his smaller notes ledger beside where he wrote down the specific notes for that day.

                “I’m sorry Sir, it’s just…we open in just over ten minutes and I was late.  That’s my fault.”

                “I’m very aware of the time, Joshua.  You can continue to clean after opening hours just this once.  I can’t afford for anything to be damaged,” he explained.

                “Yes, Sir.”

                “Now, can you please open the front door and clean our exterior walk?  Mrs Amberson will be by early this morning to pick up her supply for the St. Joseph’s dispensary.  I’ve already laid out the packages on this back table with the documentation.  I hate to keep the lady waiting.”

                “Hallie Amberson!”  He replied suddenly with a desire to straighten his coat and tie, pushing his hair back, looking at the mirror that hung over the topical creams on the south wall “She is beautiful, isn’t she?”

                “None of that, if you please,” Samuel said to the smirk of Joshua.

                Soon the young nurse from the Fairfield hospital arrived to the smiles of Joshua who continued to sweep door the outside walk.  Samuel felt back the urge to roll his eyes at him as the young man then came in to gather all the parcels for her to put in the large case that she had brought.  She smiled back at him and he just stood there for a moment, mooning like a cat.

                “Now you can sweep the back of the store, Joshua.”

                The young man managed one more smile at the young lady before going to fetch his broom.  Samuel could swear the young man was one step away from being better off as a coal miner like his brothers.  It seemed if he wasn’t prattling on about this or that he was talking about his new accommodation over by the bird houses. 

                Samuel could only just remember those younger days in his life when he was still studying under Mr. Hainsbury.  He now owned a small house down Moss Street which was perfectly situated near the Foul Bay streetcar line.  Each morning he woke quite early in the quiet when the sun had not yet risen, having his breakfast in the front room that was shaded during the day by the two arbutus trees he had planted himself out front.  After his morning routine was finished he would head out early, paper under his arm to the corner of Moss and May where he would meet Scott Cook driving the first street car run of the morning, a fellow member of the Scottish society and a recent arrival from Aberdeen.  The red and white sided car would click and clack its way along the smooth rails towards Cook Street and the park before turning it’s way towards the heart of town.

                Lunch was the small café just next door run by Annie and Nathanial Humphries, which had been a family business since the earliest days of Victoria.  She was always happy to see Samuel and frequently insisted that she could offer him a discount for her famous coffee and sandwiches that always comprised his meal.  This was due to Samuel looking into a diagnoses that he found didn’t square correctly with what she had been diagnosed before.  Samuel had actually visited and discussed with the physician so the prescription was changed to medication that took her relentless migraine headaches away.  Samuel appreciated the offer of the discount each time she brought it up, but respectfully declined, not out of a dismissal of charity (which he also did not approve of) but due to the fact that it was his job to do exactly that and that he would stop practicing the moment he ever cut corners.

                Back in his shop, with Joshua over by the other side of the room cleaning the tables where the recent shipment had just arrived by train, the door chimed softly.

                That was the moment when Samuel’s eyes went wide.  He felt something inside his chest that he had not felt since he was the same age as the young man across the room.  He set his pen down and walked slowly to the front of the counter as the two people entered, their presence in the room raising Joshua’s eyebrows as well.  They rarely ever saw people from the Songhees inside their dispensary.

                Behind Janice, whose brown eyes fixed on Samuel, stood her large framed brother, George Andrews Jr.  She was dressed in a shawl and he was dressed in the clothes of a labourer.  Samuel pushed his glasses back slightly.

                “Good Afternoon…George…Janice,” he said trying to steady his voice.  He could only hope that his voice didn’t sound wrong.  Beneath the cotton white coat, waist coat and shirt, his heart thudded hard.

                “Samuel,” George replied, with Janice just looking at him before averting her gaze to look around the room.

                “Um…what can I do for you both?”

                “Janice?” George asked his sister.

                “Yes…sorry,” she said before looking at Samuel sorrowfully and then looking down into the pockets of her shawl and finding a written paper.  She walked up to the counter and Samuel swallowed slightly as she came close, her shawl brushing the other side of the white wooden counter.  She handed him the prescription, Samuel looking down at her soft slight brown hands covering the doctor’s scribbles.  He looked up at her and then back to the paper which he took.  Coughing, he studied the paper.

                “I can…” he said before coughing again “set up an account for you with us, if you want so we can track…”

                “That won’t be necessary,” George said firmly.

                Joshua came over the side of his employer, looking at him with his head slightly tilted to one side.

                “Can I get you something, Sir?”

                Samuel just looked at the notes on the paper, his head focused on returning to his work immediately.  People came to him because he was a professional.  In truth, he was considered the best pharmacist in the finest run dispensary on the south island, but he always refused to accept this notion.

                “It’s…it’s a prescription for Miss Janice Lynn Andrews for the following medication,” he said beginning to write a note for Joshua to follow in his usual precise handwriting so their could not, would not be a mistake.  One was an expectorant…one 250 mg of Azithromycin…another special tropical cream that was less commonly used but otherwise benign.  At least, he thought for a moment, it was nothing really bad.  Most of these were for simple ailments.

                “These are for yourself?”  he asked.

                “Yes,” she answered.

                He cleared his throat and with his hand slightly shaking he wrote the note and passed it to Joshua who rushed off with a small bag to fill for her. 

                “How much this gonna be?” George asked, his voice firm.

                “Shouldn’t be too much.  These are fairly common medications and from what I understand the physician you met set a one-week trial dosage.  If anything feels wrong, stop taking them immediately, but they should clear up things within one week,” he explained consulting the pricing book next to the register and entering the numbers. 

                She handed him the forty-two cents it cost for the bag of medication that Joshua produced.  He fingers brushed his only slightly when she gave it to him which set a rush of fire through Samuel, something he felt in his legs so strong, he had to keep one hand flat on the counter.  For a moment, all for of them stayed put like they were posing for a photograph.

                “Come along, Janice.”

                “Goodbye, Sam,” Janice said with her eyes locked on him.  The rest of the world seemed to stop.  The rest of the world seemed quiet.

                “Take care,” Samuel replied.  He could not move.

                “Come along, Janice!” George said more firmly.  It was firmly enough for Joshua to look at the taller Native man with concern.

                As they left, the younger clerk looked at his employer who seemed dazed, staring out the door as they left.

                “You alright, Sir?”

                “Yes, perfectly fine.  Let’s get back to work.”

Houston, we’ve left normal

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My long time co-writer and friend Cheri Jacobs

     It’s really early.  It’s early enough to still be considered late.  Making coffee now because I know I won’t be going back to sleep for quite some time.  That’s the perfectly normal thing right about now.  I have never slept well, due to a large part that I never liked to do that.  My schedule has little power naps and as I type this on the tablet Cece is sleeping.  I give full points to a girlfriend who sticks by her creative man.  We’re the most difficult breed there is if we’re good and likely worse if were not.

      In now less than two weeks I voyage out into the waters that I have always wanted to sail.  Thanks to a mixture of my work with Cookeilidh, my work with Cheri Jacobs and our partnership with Less Bland Productions I have made the leap to being a writer and musician full time.  I do feel ready for these waters but naturally it is a place that I sort of half thought I wouldn’t be sailing.  The choice to make the leap is one that does scare me since it’s not as though I have made it in the conventional sense.  The work I do is exhilarating in both fields (two sides of my expression  that have always been there relentlessly since I could make baby noises most likely) but the work is still very much in the day to day grind of a local craftsman.  That is something that doesn’t bother me that much.  If you want superstardom you don’t really pick the fields of bass player and screenwriter.  I’ve certainly stepped out of those less lit parts of the stage to do things like acting (in little bits with Cheri on the Tom and Cheri Show) and singing (open stages and backup for Cookeilidh) but with those the need to do that came from the fact that there is this material and its simpler just to do it.  I swear its not false modesty.  I have, when a singer has been I’ll in the past, tried to fake that role for the evening.  Didn’t like it.  Much more relaxed to stand on my side of the stage and focus on making the best work I can.  Its similar to writing.  I want your imagination or the actors to take my ideas and make them soar.  I far prefer to get up early, make coffee and get an idea that makes my toes wiggle in the carpet.

But I won’t say that the ides of venturing out into doing this full time isn’t scary too.  Part of me does feel like “who do I think I am?”. I have routines down so I am always busy, which can include blogging at 4:30 a.m.

Still less than two weeks to go before I officially sail.  With all the making preperations for the journey I still wonder how I’ll feel when the anchor rises.

The White Wand

The White Wand Blog site  This is the story that has never left me.  Whenever I do morning writing exercises the world of the people of Tarsha comes back.  Yeah, it’s big old silly nerdy world but it’s a great place to explore all the possibilities in writing.

Fantasy gives you the chance to leap out in the full horizon of concepts but also bring in things from this world and make them shine.  My favorite thing about this project is that I have tried to depart from the standard fantasy repertoire to bring characters like the Jeekas people with the towering Tiki Tree, Si wands and the dominion of the Bly Forest.

The new blog is at

The White Wand

Come by and have a look!  Lots more to come!

Skyline photo project

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Victoria Harbour

Funny how this shot was taken on a day that I initially didn’t want to go out.  I have one of those lingering coughs that won’t go away and it was high thee to the drug store.  I think that’s how that’s spelled anyways.

Once I was outside I didn’t really notice the cough and I had just read one of those lists of blog challenges that asked for a skyline.  I had only heard that the top of Yates St. Parkade was good for that.  I had never actually been up there before.

Something about places like that take things away.  I feel a bit silly saying that because it’s also rumored to be a rough spot at night.  It’s the reality of our town like I want to explore with the Quiet City project.  We have the oldest street in Western Canada just below where the photos were taken.  That street was once lined with Saloons and peopled by newcomers from all over the world seeking riches in the gold fields along with the local Native communities who were already in residence.  We may believe in multiculturalism but getting everyone to understand that is another thing.  We also have a financial mix right across the board.  It is not cheap to live here and we have the wealthiest, street people and everyone in between still in the same mix as they were over a hundred years ago

You only way out is inside.  You can go outside and find some secluded place but it may not stay that way.  You pay off one bill and another one looms.  You add more work but it just loads more complications that drop your immunity through the floor. I don’t want to come off as negative but there are challenges for working class writers here. I just got a text threatening my phone to be cut off after bills already finished off my pay yesterday except for what i had for cold meds and juice. As i was outside uploading this (writing this in post) I just had to stop a street person from walking off with my bag. He apologized for that and it was awkward but still scary as it shakes you up because I know the desperation and therefore the unpredictability. It’s there under the same sunny skies as Beacon Hill Parks amphitheater. All you can do is roll with it. We’re a beautiful small city but a city nonetheless.

Find peace in the moment and live simply.  That’s what’s there for each of us city folk. Enjoy those little spots and good friends under the sun and blue horizon.

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Created by TomPogson.com

City of Clay

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No birds flew in this place.  With not even the smallest sign of life the deafening silence discouraged travellers.  Rumours told in Mountain town of Bothra also kept the wagon trails to a minimum.  Travellers were especially warned of the towering red clay walls.  From this place the quiet ones came.  The closer to the walls you came, the more the madness seeped into the skin.

The singular movement was a light wind brushing the clay hills, it’s cool sweet breath running down from the snow of the Great Easterns that divided the Tarshan Peninsula like a grey knife forty leagues down to the clanging harbours of Tell.

From this direction she came.  Like a single snowflake against the soft orange packed waves of clay her shape grew to the sight of those who waited.  They were two of the quiet ones, one a young Seeker Vakkal with only eighty summers to his credit and the other was Baki-ku.  He was far older, his eyes having seen the dawning of the Age of Light when the Tiki Tree of the By Forest first grew in Shal’than’s Northwest garden of the Bly Forest.  He held the Weapons of Truce between the Jeekas of the Bly and the Lothran people of the canyons.

She came closer.  Baki-ku and Natku-sa waited as she came into shouting distance, he blonde hair shaking in the sun, her white dress rippling satin around the black blade of Otheria.

“Baki-ku of Tercichio” she said “thank you for agreeing to this.”

She stopped just out of striking distance.  She had much acquaintance with the Vakkal.  She knew full well of the spinner weapon that rested at their sides.

“Tari-sa has left us, witch,” he said with no malice in his voice, a sound than vibrated beneath her shoes “he is among the lost ones.  I know not if the Fourthlings have claimed him.  He is not amongst our number and at his years I am sure the cracks in his Si are beginning.”

She stood motionless.  She waited for more.

“I suppose your Lord’s gifts don’t grant every wish,” he said finally.

She glared at him.  Natku-sa put his hand to the roof of his spinner.  Just then came a screeching piercing sound.  From the sound came three shadows through the clouds.  The first one had bright red markings on its beak and down its scorpion like tail.

From Natku-sa’s side the spinner whirred to life, it’s blades a rush of razors beneath the Vakkal’s palm.

“You need not trouble our people any longer Eleatha, traitor of the Otherian throne,” Baki-ku said with a hand outstretched to keep his young warrior-seeker in checked “I believe you’re taxi has arrived.”


This is a short teaser to The White Jeeka story.

Tom

Created by TomPogson.com

Welcome to Adhd

imageFull speed ahead

Full speed ahead

This is the sort of post I usually wouldn’t make. I guess that means I should in a way. It is, I promise, not about complaining. It is also, I equally promise, not a new-fangled thing that I was diagnosed with recently as I was diagnosed back in the early 80’s.

My Adhd is very real and has been my entire experience of life as lack of sight is to a blind person or confusion of events is to someone with schizophrenia.

It is naturally not as debilitating as these previous ailments as unlike them it has its positive and negative attributes. Adhd people would have been the best watchmen (or watch persons) as we are always switched on
There is no down time. There is no relaxing. We won’t do it later and we are always hyper-aware of the…ooh what’s that? Just kidding but funny enough I’m getting what I call “the shakes” as I write this. Or maybe I just need another smoke. It makes smoking really hard to quit, well for me anyways, as it is perfectly meditative.

Coffee which I’ve talked about before has different effects and I know for some of us Adhders (it’s a word…well…ah, smile and nod) coffee can actually work wonders in strangely balancing the rush. And I think the reason is like I’ve experienced. Coffee slows us down. You didn’t misread that. I’ve had a double espresso and passed out shortly after. And no, you didn’t…well…you get the idea.

Because we are so much in our high gear coffee is a paradox that speeds things up even more which, unlike the Seinfeld episode with Kramer and the multiple espressos, it goes into an overdrive that’s exhausting. Down we go. Moderated we can use it to just slow it down gently instead of a sugar-like crash.

This brings me to the downsides. Not only is reading something that is hard to focus on, as is a formal lecture situation (we’re great strangely at self directed study) where information is being fired at us but in the same way that coffee can overwhelm so can over stimulation. Much as we are great at seeing lots a high speed situation can go all the way over and like with my espresso crash things go into overwhelm. When that happens I swear I couldn’t spell the short version of my name.

It’s Tom. Now that’s pretty easy. But seriously those situations are like a Japanese train being derailed. Our being fast only makes it worse. I’ve learned to breath when I feel those jitters that spell the overwhelm sign. You can pause and stop because much as the situation may ask you not to its going to be lots worse if you don’t.

I don’t know if these experiences resonate with others. I know Ritalin and such have never worked and only made me feel dopey but then I’m looking through my camera view of the world. Please share your views on this if you like.

Cheers,
Tom
Created by TomPogson.com

The art versus the artist

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Joy Division by Anton Corbijn

I could have just as easily put up a image of Robin Williams, Charles Dickens or Vincent Van Gogh.  Creativity doesn’t necessarily have to come from a dark place to be worthy of exposure.  Sometimes artists are in their best place when they create their best work.  An easy example of this would be A Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.  Miles and a group of incredible players went into the studio with only a few basic sketches of ideas and improvised what would soon be a classic.  I know for myself that being in a miserable intoxicated space doesn’t usually produce my best work (naturally I’m not going to place myself alongside these artists.  After watching Jaco Pastorius – Modern Electric Bass I always feel like the tribes least talented and clumsy Neanderthal.)  It is very likely that some of these struggling iconic figures were in their most lucid when they created their work. 

I don’t know if forms of mental illness create artistic genius.  I have known many extremely talented people who don’t have any visually crippling ailments (though not all ailments are as easily seen).  However there are plenty of examples you can find of genius residing in people with mental illnesses. 

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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War 2 struggled with depression, coining the phrase of the “Black Dog” that would visit him.  This image immediately brings forth the sound of another great Englishman (me and U.K culture again, I know…)
Strange version of Nick Drake’s Black Eyed Dog
Maybe it boils down to what Anthony Robbins said that the two things that move people are either inspiration or desperation.  Some success stories come from things fallen in place from a love of something and some come from the push of pain.  I personally believe that the main source of talent is a love for what you do that makes you pursue it daily, vigorously with your full mind and spirit.  People who suffer from mental illness often have grown up with the concept of struggle being inherent to existence and so perhaps their persistence is only amplified.  Perhaps the pleasure from the what they do (which doesn’t have to be necessarily in the arts) helps these people escape from their black eyed dogs.

But in response to the postaday prompt which I read today, I personally don’t look for the struggle or think that it means the art is better or worse.  To me the art and the artist are separate things.  The art is the body of work like any job done by a master’s hand.  The artist is the fragile master behind it, the craftsman with calluses.  The work lives on in the stars.

Created by TomPogson.com