The Lunatics have taken over the Asylum

Again, wouldn’t normally be writing here on a Saturday but I’m off to town shortly, scoping out the place I’ll be performing at in few weeks time. It’s likely to be a fairly sympathetic audience, under the circumstances: safe space is a given, but I’d like the opportunity to give it a once over. I believe the technical term is a recce, and as there is a cafe there it will be a place to lunch at the same time. If there is a spot to leave a poster or maybe a flyer, that will also be investigated, in time for early February…

This thought however deserves being extracted from my brain, before potency is lost.

different

I’ve always been different. That’s small letter for d and not big: difference existed in my consciousness from quite early on. What this meant however has altered over the years, and only now occurs reality of everything slotting into place. Because it has taken so long, certain games of catch-up with what that means require more work than others.

I have a lot to thank Penny for, and this is a case in point. I’d never heard of this organisation: a cursory glance at their public face shows nothing as to why this OP Tweet would be correct. Digging, however, turns up uncomfortable truths that make me feel physically ill. There is a dystopian future, not far from here, that could easily see autism first identified as a genetic shortcoming shortly before it is eliminated like Downs Syndrome, or anything else other people don’t consider as ‘perfect’ in human terms.

That is a world that frightens me, especially when other people react to the idea of difference with negativity right now. I’ve interfaced with two women this week, both in front-facing positions where they are paid to interact with members of the public. One was too embarrassed to publicly ask me a number of awkward questions despite it being her job to do so, the other so dismissive and frankly rude about the notion of difference that my previous respect for her effectively evaporated.

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We all deal with change in different ways. Many choose to ignore its progress completely: those keeping shows like The Grand Tour alive and well with their patronage, who’ll get annoyed at the idea of having to reduce their meat consumption to save the Planet… and the list goes on. Accepting the inevitable is not something many people can do well, whilst those are those who go too far the other way, instantly bouncing from one new fad to another without the first thought for consequences. Looking at you, Goop fans.

Ideal reality ought to exist somewhere in between the extremes, or that’s the theory. It never really does, because most of the ‘moderation in all things’ brigade never need to have their voices heard to begin with because living life is far more interesting and fulfilling than telling other people you’re doing just that. Oversharing, especially in public, becomes a hindrance, but without it the realities of abuse and violence true harmony will never be fully realised. If you open Pandora’s Box and give one person the right on Social media to be themselves, everybody has to be afforded the same privilege.

For every action, consequences are both blessing and curse.

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More and more, such moments become fuel for poetry or prose. Telling stories and educating via poetry, short stories and long form works has merit, and it can alter consciousness. The trick is not to allow other people’s casual prejudice to deter you. Everybody has the opportunity to learn and be a better person, it is up to them whether those changes happen, and how fast.

The last thing that needs to happen is to erase difference from any conversation.

This is Not a Love Song

Day 6: So then, last night’s Blaze.

769 calories for the night. I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t do everything I was asked to do. There wasn’t really any slacking per se, however. There are red lines. ACTUAL RED LINES. They didn’t last very long mind, but HEY I don’t really care.

I am getting stronger. It is getting easier.

This may be a part of my life that can be very much improved.

The Next Chapter Bar

Yesterday I got into a conversation with a random person who seemed quite keen that they deserved a follow back. I’ve been trying to start a conversation with someone for months who lives locally to meet up, and every time a suggestion is sent off, there’s silence. Doing friendship on Social media’s a fucking mug’s game. Some people just drift in and get upset when they don’t understand WTF is going on in your Timeline (because they don’t read your feed except at a certain point in the day) and then others just retweet everything that looks important. Some days, I can’t cope.

That was yesterday. Today is better.

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There is an effort to get out of the comfort zones, obviously, and that’s happening now too as well as exercise and MIND EXPANDING WORDS but some days, when it’s just me and me alone in my head, I wish more people understood what that was really like. The ultimate irony of course is that those thoughts have existed here since… well, 2011. Trying to find someone to read them who a) I’m likely to get on with and b) isn’t a stalker ends up as the most ridiculous of asks, because if that happened…

Yesterday, something significant finally registered.

What I’d like now is people who I don’t know to be part of my life. Starting from scratch might be stressful for some, but actually it would be great to find individuals who don’t already know all the emotional baggage from the rest of my life. Maybe then, I get the opportunity to explain everything a bit better than the wibblings from my past. Employing that tactic with the people I have so far has been reasonably productive, too.

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Watching other people rave about ‘their internet friends’ can begin to be demoralising, after a time, especially when yours live a long way away and you don’t get to hang out very much. The more thought is applied, the more comes realisation that perhaps the next stage of my life isn’t best organised in this way, but might well be best served looking for inspiration in other places. It is, after all, a very big world ‘out there.’

Maybe I’ve just gotta watch out for the opportunities when they appear.

Get it Right Next Time

What day is it again?

I shouldn’t be blogging today, Thursday is my day off, but so much has happened: there needs to be a record of where this next part of the journey begins. Without too much detail (which might come in retrospect, I dunno) yesterday saw a self-referral to a mental health organisation for counselling. Trying to work through my doctor has not produced either results or care that should be expected under the circumstances. This is a time of massive change within that particular sector of healthcare and my practice is run by doctors in their 70’s, so this is not as massive a surprise as it could be.

I’m able to function as a human being, depression being very much under control. My mental issues neither restrict or hinder daily life. I have developed a raft of coping strategies that allow an extremely competent illusion of stability and normality when high function and reasoning fail. Being a mimic is a fantastic means by which truths can be hidden, but there comes a point where this is not enough. Yesterday was the day therefore to go ask someone else to fix things that are so broken I cannot repair them alone.

The process has begun.

The Next Chapter Bar

My PT’s on her way back from a much needed holiday. All my health data has been shared with her via the Red Belt of Unavoidable TruthsΒ so, when she’s back in the game next week, we can start working out how I get stronger. That’s really easy: more hard work, less bad food, a desire to improve. Just gotta keep putting in the effort. Talking of which, it is Thursday, and tonight I don’t worry about what my belt is doing and just focus on doing what is asked.

The Next Chapter Bar

The first rejection of the year arrived yesterday, and it will not be my last.

I’m still angry. It’ll pass, and that has nothing to do with failing. It is everything to do with how that failure was communicated.

I wonder if the organisers of such endeavours learn from feedback or whether they consider anything constructively presented as nothing but negative criticism… Hang on, this is a metaphor for how disagreement plays out over Social media, isn’t it?

There needs to be more tea.

Timebomb Zone

Day 4:Β Wow, that’s a two hours I never want to repeat again. I’m utterly with Duncan Jones: kids are hard work. I know, they didn’t ask to be born and you were the one who make the choice [and therefore accept the responsibility], but BOY some days is it tough. Anxiety-producing, pain inflicting, nerve shreddingly tough. If the sun was out and the country hadn’t just imploded, it would be easier. Today therefore is penance, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.

The Next Chapter Bar

There’s a significant fork in the road up ahead. Watching my husband cycle last night, his level of fitness is a reminder that if things matter enough, you will find a way.Β I don’t eat badly, exercise more than has ever been the case before and slowly, so very slowly, improvement is coming. It is on days like today when I’m mentally wiped that those gains matter so much more. Pushing beyond comfort zones might not be the answer for some, but for me there are days when if I don’t, the consequences can be catastrophic.

I should have started this particular journey with more vigour about 20 years ago.

The Next Chapter Bar

Decided to enter a book contest with the manuscript that keeps getting rejected. It’s really good, deeply personal and largely autobiographical, and I know full well why nobody I’ve sent it to thus far has shown the slightest bit of interest. So, if it gets rejected AGAIN it doesn’t get rewritten a third time. It stays this way, and we look for specialist publishers to send it to, and if that fails I fucking publish it myself, because sometimes it isn’t about compromise. Sometimes, what matters most is the idea, as you wrote it, not how someone else wants you to tell the story.

Occasionally you don’t write in the hope someone else validates you. You need to validate yourself.

Yesterday’s Men

Day 3:Β My mother in law has gone into hospital. The prognosis, from distance, is not good. She is in her 80’s, and a Cancer survivor. Whatever may now happen in the next few months, her legacy is significant and will be long-lasting. The world she knew at my age, over thirty years ago when I first met her son, has in many places vanished and in others altered beyond belief.

An awful lot has changed, on reflection.

This video has split Twitter, apparently. It’s an advert with a message embedded within it.Β If I believe half the crap being generated around the reception, this is the first true Horseman of the Apocalypse. Or, on the day when my Country is set to implode under the weight of it’s own fucking stupidity, it’s just another metaphor for how fast some parts of society shift compared to others.

However, this is significant from an advertising point of view for one reason alone: Gillette know better than anybody else the state of their business right now. It is VERY rare that such a company will embark on a project of this significance without full possession of the facts. This is not an advert aimed at Racist Dad, or any pompous wank-stain TV commentator who might hold an opinion on everything, for the sake of exposure.

This advert targets men who are already listening, and not those who embrace ignorance.

I get angry at those who will retweet the ravings of idiots as a means of pointing out that they’re wrong, because by doing so you’re giving that person the impression they’re agreed with and, by extension, popular. If The Orange Twat currently running the USA was unfollowed by millions of people as a protest, he’d complain to Twitter they were censoring him, not grasp that maybe the tide of social media use might be changing.Β There’s some pretty basic double standards at play here: we all have a responsibility to step up our games and make a difference.

Debate ought to be about being sensible, but caring. It should talk to us in a fashion that is fair and truthful, not condescending or unhelpful. Finding someone who cares is a rare and beautiful thing in the World right now, especially under current circumstances in the UK. Giving the time of day to strangers was always a thankless task to begin with, but now there is so much anger and frustration that we are reaching a tipping point. For us, the next 24 hours is crucial, and not for the reasons many might think.

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Extremism is our enemy, BOTH SIDES CARRY THE CAN. Too much one way, too much the other. It isn’t just the Far Right that is the enemy: I see you, Far Left people, and you’re doing nearly as much harm as good.Β Just because nobody talks about you and you’re not the target of as much airtime and tweets does not mean you don’t get to stand there and be smug. In fact, NOBODY right now is particularly covered in glory.

If you don’t want your future to be remembered like this?

time for ALL OF US to start making things better.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Day 2: I need to make a phone call. I don’t wanna look too keen. Gonna write this first and then do it, yeah, that’s a good plan.

Today, we explain the difficulties with relationships via the medium of Hairdressing.

The Next Chapter Bar

A woman’s relationship with her hairdresser is both complex and incredibly subtle. You trust a (reasonably) total stranger to make you look fabulous, and not to destroy self confidence in the process. That whole thing with Samson and his locks equalling strength? Utterly spot on.Β When stuff does go wrong, it often means the end of your relationship.Β The chances you’ll hand over cash again to someone who turned your hair purple when you wanted blonde? Fairly slim.

I’d been with the same salon for a LONG time. I’d gone there before my son was born, cycled through two stylists, and the day I came home with purple hair having not asked for it was significant. When younger a lot of hairstyles happened, a few colours, but the desire to go 100% mermaid has never stuck. It isn’t me, and to have it imposed accidentally was not really as shocking as might have been the case. It made a tough decision a lot easier: it was time to leave.

When your stylist can’t get your name right… absolutely the right moment to move on.

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So, I’ve bounced between a few places in the intervening period, finding empathy in a couple of stylists, but never the desire to stay, until I took my daughter for a trim at the local hairdressers and found a young lady who is, quite frankly, welcome breath of fresh air. She’s professional and thorough but what I get most from her is the fact that there are no pretensions of anything. She is what she is, and that is what matters. For too long I was simply anonymous. Now, I feel genuinely wanted.

That’s the key in all relationships, I realise. To be a part of something where you don’t feel as if you’re doing all the work, or that you’ve been included because that’s what you think other people would do to look relevant. You shouldn’t be friends with someoneΒ  because of who they know, or what that relationship could provide. It just happens.Β Clicking a button then contributing no effort is not friendship. Reading about another person’s life and adding nothing of value to it is not friendship.

Just because you follow someone does not entitle you to part of their existence.

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Actual copy from a Robot-based ‘we increase your following for you’ website.

Robots continue to create an illusion of care and interest that, in many cases, will never exist. It is all about the business of ‘appearing’ popular and successful, without the genitalia-achingly tough task of talking to every person, establishing trust and belief, before moving on. Truly popular people end up that way because they focus on their desires 24/7, and keep on giving, in a way that cannot be faked or indeed replicated. Looking at my Twitter feed, more and more the genuine hard workers are abundantly apparent, putting lesser mortals in the shade.

It is a fine destination to aim for, continuing to be reassuringly inspirational.

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Not everything online has to be drama, but amazingly that doesn’t stop a lot of people aspiring towards just that. It’s not like there’s no other stress in the World right now either. I get that some of you want online to be your own safe, secure little Utopia of Calm. The reality of existence is that if you wilfully ignore one thing, it’ll happen with others, and that’s never a state of affairs that will ever end well. That lesson has been learnt the hard way. Friendship isn’t just turning up for the good stuff and ignoring the bad. That’s not how this works.

If this matters enough to you, make the effort.

Beautiful Day

Day 1: It was utterly worth the reset.

I’m considering a two day conference later in the year to try to go and meet other writers. It’s probably more money right now than I can afford, which means that it might be the moment to pull out the digit and look at some ideas for funding.

Very important phone-call on Monday. I am already nervous…