The Numbers

Today was the last massage with my lovely sweet student chiropractor/masseuse, who’s off now to have a better paid job in Brighton. I will really miss her ability to make my body feel better, and it makes me think that I should seek out some chiropractic care locally going forward. I also spent two hours after this eating and drinking in the Gym bar/restaurant, editing the first chapter of MMXCI. As of tomorrow, I’m in full on NaNo mode, with the second novel ‘on the side’ because you can never have enough editing and writing, people. It is totally impossible. Without words, I will simply wither up and die.

On that front, I may have trouble walking tomorrow. My PT pushed me to a place where I just wanted to run away screaming, but she wouldn’t let me and now everything is jelly whilst ability I didn’t know existed got me to a place I am willingly going to return to for a month’s worth of ‘Challenge’ exercises. I did 50 reps, then another 50, then another of a different thing and couldn’t believe how capable I was. in the end, I was just exhausted, and now I’m in a curious place where I know there’s still energy but my entire body is just… well, floating. This is like being drunk but without the cost.

I’m just really glad to be on the treadmill again, figuratively speaking.

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I’m also getting really frustrated with, in no particular order:

  • ‘I’ll tell you what’s wrong with X’ rants on social media which then proceed to just make me feel utterly depressed about things I’m trying really hard to remain cheerful about,
  • Feeling increasingly disconnected from people who say we have lots of things in common but actually SO NOT TRUE;
  • Generally struggling with feeling as if I fit in (or that I am indeed relevant.)

What this means, in effect, is that social anxiety is back. I’ll deal with it like I always do: push through, not gravitate where I think it will be exacerbated, and simply put my head down. It will be tough this week because there’s a convention going on that a lot of people I know will be a part of and I’ll be watching from a distance. It might actually be too painful to even do that, especially with the number of people I’d like to meet but can’t/won’t/cannot get close to/want to see but am not sure I’d cope with everybody else. Mostly right now its making my head hurt. As a result, probably a good idea to just stop worrying about it and get on with the words. They don’t hurt nearly as much.

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All in all, hardly the most auspicious start to a Monday.

Making Plans for Nigel

Today, I went out and did stuff. It was, quite frankly, awesome. I know other people go out and do stuff but I don’t, as a rule, and having Things to Do is suddenly giving my life a purpose I had forgotten matters.

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This is my New Box of Stuff, with additional Old Stuff I had in cupboards stuck in here for good measure. I have plans for Xmas gifts, plus various other projects in the pipeline. This isn’t a new business venture or anything stupid, this is the hobby I need that isn’t exercise or writing and gives me a chance to unwind with music. It also allows me to make things that are beautiful. This pleases me greatly. It’s also part of a longer plan to not just be the girl who writes.

Watch this Space.

This is Mine

I’m lying in bed, having coughed and sniffed a tun of green goo out of my body, and the temptation to stay right here is immense, especially as there are no kids to look after. I’m terrible at taking care of myself, when all is said and done. It would be simpler, surely, just to turn over and go back to sleep. Then, looking through social media I see a series of things that make me realise that actually, the last thing I want to be doing is lying down. Then, I ask the question: given the choice, where would you want to be right now? Given the choice between nothing, gaming or exercise, which one would win as relaxation?

The answer was, I have to say, a pleasant surprise, and that’s why as soon as this is written I’ll be off to the Gym, confident I am no longer infectious. In a straight race, exercise now beats gaming as what I’d do to relax, and that’s something that might take some getting used to.

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NaNoWriMo’s starting on Tuesday, and I’ll be committing to screen a story that has lived in my head for some time, which is wrapped around the notion that fate isn’t a constant: the Sarah Connor belief that life is doomed because the future has dictated it only true if you allow it to be. There should be no fate but what we make, but the reality of this and so much else is a long way from the cinematic pronouncements. For me, I could succumb to a day of lounging and faffing, but the reality now is that to keep moving forward, I have to do just that. In fact, if I stop it’s probably more dangerous now than it has been at any point in the recent past. I’ve dosed myself up with drugs, and because I can still breathe reasonably well there is nothing stopping me being on a treadmill and lifting weights. Once upon a time I would have felt sorry for myself, but that person’s not making the decisions any more.

The New Me is in control, and understands the importance of moving forward.

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However much fun gaming is (and it is) that is no substitute for health. I watch those who complain that even gaming is too much work, and wonder how these individuals function on a daily basis. For me, at least right now, forward motion is no longer a list of things on a screen. It is knowing I clocked 12k steps on a day when I wasn’t badly ill, I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself. Ironically, were it not for being ill yesterday, deciding to stay home and writing, I suspect this epiphany wouldn’t have happenedI finally finished the Bondfic, all 77k words of it, and now that is done I can look at the understanding that if I really do put my mind to words, magnificent things can and do happen. This gives me not only hope for NaNoWriMo, but the future generally. There is a way to do everything I want, if I allow myself the space to breathe, and I’ve only learnt to do that properly thanks to the exercise.

Going forward, I am beyond excited for the possibilities.

Not A Job

I should have been out today, eating lunch with a dear friend, but instead the bug my daughter bought back from Paris crit me for 31728103. I don’t remember the last time I succumbed like this either, which will be a lot to do with the late week stress induced by other people that I should know better than to be sucked in by. However, now I have drugs and honey/lemon plus tissues, I think I can try upright for a while. At the end of the oddest of weeks for quite some time, it is apposite to reflect on how the World affects us in ways I suspect are often never considered at the time.

This, I think, is the root of the issues over the last week. When you have no control over the world around you, there’s increasing temptation to micro-manage your own life. In my case, this used to result in a whole lot of additional grief: I only have to look back at the meltdown that happened with Brexit to understand how aggrieved and isolated that event made me feel. Learning that other people don’t see the World the way you do, when you were convinced a common bond was shared, can be quite depressing to boot. Ultimately there is a choice: pick your friends with care, and make sure that when you do reach out to help someone you’re aware of what that means long term. Yeah, you can have a ton of Internet Friends too: they still count, but if that’s the case do your homework. When things come down to the wire, knowing who is there for you matters as much as it would do in reality.

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What is a surprise, and continues to be so, is the way people ‘forget’ the World is listening. The person who popped the full-blown conspiracy theory into my feed is still on mute, I’ll admit, because there’s still a bit of uncertainty how to deal with such an admission. If I’m feeling brave I’ll try and communicate further when I think someone maybe threw a curve into my life, but doing that can be as dangerous as smoking out a bees nest. Right now, it’s about 50/50 you’ll end up with some kind of drama, depending on the person you’re dealing with. It also has a lot to do with why the person chose to follow you in the first place. There are agendas at play all over the shop, the trick is trying to keep track of everybody’s particular interests.

It is on days like today when I’m sick that it is important to remind myself that this is not a job, and I can step back. However, the mental benefits of writing all this shit down has now outweighed the physical benefits of lying down and making ‘I’m ill, look after me’ noises, and that is a really significant step in what I consider to be the right direction. Yes, I will go and have a sleep after this because I managed five hours overnight, but it was important to write everything that I have today, because mental health is always an issue. There are a lot of people struggling right now too: you’re not alone, but the answer is not to lash out at other people or try and drag them down with negativity. As I stated on the Other Blog, that doesn’t help anyone, yet still that’s the way the Internet’s training a section of the population to react to trauma. If you’re upset? Yeah, go make a stand on Social media, because that’s a sure fire way to find people to agree with you.

This whole thing has become an exercise in validation, when it should be more about co-operation and understanding. Being right is not the answer, and that’s a lesson I know for damn sure I still need help to learn for myself. However, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and lie down, as I’ve assuaged the mental for another day.

Someone please pass the tissues.

For Your Eyes Only

It doesn’t seem like a year since Spectre was released: to be honest, it’s more like several years. 2016, as many people will attest, has not been kind. Losing Bowie at the start for me was only the start of a series of body blows, which culminated in the fucking travesty of Brexit in June. However, four months on, the shift of my country and the US towards a worrying variety of ‘conservatism’ could already be having some interesting ramifications, most notably in reference to Mr Craig’s (potential) ex-employment. [*] When I suggested writing this blog post a while ago it generated a fair bit of interest, and the more I consider the possibilities the stronger becomes the belief I could actually end up thanking THAT potential US presidential candidate for what he’s done to the World in the last ten months.

Could Donald Trump be responsible for redefining the Bond franchise?

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When Eon rebooted Bond in 2006 with Casino Royale a new narrative was born: fresh from gaining his License to Kill, 007 falls in love and watches first as that woman is revealed as a double agent before she dies, in a situation where Bond is unable to save her. This defines all his actions in Quantum of Solace and, to a lesser extent Skyfall. Only when he gets to fall in love again and disappear off into the sunset in SPECTRE is some completion bought to the story, but there’s still a cost. It’s not really Craig’s fault that he inherited shoes that had been discarded under so many beds, that Bond’s misogynistic and arrogant past was based in a decade where men could get away with being like this because that’s the way it had always been. Except that ‘attitude’ is still making news, as was demonstrated when the Washington Post got hold of a tape of Mr Trump treating woman as objects. I’ll admit that when I first saw the footage, realised that this behaviour’s really no different to early iterations of Bond doing what was needed to get the job done.

He gets away with it however for several reasons: mostly because fiction gets a far better deal than reality, but probably because an English accent and being fantastic in bed still allows you to get away with murder, plus believing in truth really helps. ‘How can I compare Trump to Bond,’ I hear you ask, ‘it’s like apples and oranges’: however, both come from trees, and require seeds to grow. Bond’s enduring appeal for a certain generation is that you get what you want as a secret agent, and in that regard as Trump seeing himself as a celebrity, the same remains true. Except once the misogyny is obvious it becomes both all-consuming and inescapable in a world where your main competitor for President is a woman. Once I’d considered the similarity I was forced to go back to SPECTRE in a new light, to see if I could redeem ‘new’ Bond in light of the revelation. This 007 is different to his predecessors, has undoubtedly ‘evolved,’ but the way the franchise is left knowing his history gives Eon a real problem moving forward.

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Bond’s relationship with Moneypenny becomes a metaphor of sorts in his redemptive process: she almost kills him, yet she remains his best friend, but that doesn’t stop him looking down her top in Skyfall or showing concern she has a boyfriend in SPECTRE. He’ll still try his arm, and hope she’ll be there for him, but when the first decent female fit in terms of compatability comes along with Madeline Swann he drops everything, steals his company car and buggers off, presumably to spend the next year furiously fucking and not answering his mobile when the office calls. If you ascribe the theory that Bond has changed, he’ll already have handed in his notice and never comes back. They can’t kill Swann again in the narrative as motivation because then it’s just Vesper Lynd all over again. Time might be a flat circle for some franchises, but with what Trump has now done to the popular consciousness in terms of highlighting casual sexism and control? It will be pretty hard to make this Bond’s modus operandi stand up as acceptable. Ironically, if the next 007 movie has to include Craig’s version of the agent, I’d suggest he marries Swann and they team them up in a Mr and Mrs Smith stylee, but already long term fans will cry fowl, because Bond works alone.

Except that doesn’t work in the modern world either. Only in the movies.

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Here’s the bigger issue: Bond’s ‘ethos’ only works if you don’t scratch the surface too hard. Craig made a big deal in interviews for SPECTRE that he’s aware of the limitations at play, that there’s only so much to be done if your central protagonist thinks as part of his job it’s acceptable just to sleep with someone to get what you want. Ironially when Mata Hari did that no-one considered it a sutable job for a woman, and yet female spies really are the better choice in so many situations when most of the people in power are men. However, this franchise; watch, car, suits are all selling to a group of people who really don’t need to be told this is the right way to live your life. ‘Men want to be Bond, woman want to sleep with him’ might be true for my generation (except for me, I’d be him and bed him) but the belief that you teach people this is acceptable human behaviour… it won’t work any more. The outcry in the press worldwide should be ample demonstration of the realisation that this is not the same World we live in. Times are changing. This is not just about a hetrosexual bloke with a gun, and that is the bigger significance. The white man’s importance matters only in relation to bigger societal shifts: claiming nothing can be changed, because canon says is no longer acceptable behaviour.

Like it or not, Trump’s actions may have finally forced time to be called on Bond’s progress.

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Women can be secret agents, and better than their male counterparts. It is no longer about pandering to a certain generation’s desire to live out fantasies that simply do not mesh in the modern world. I’m still of the opinion that the best way the franchise has to survive is to go back to Dr No and start again, refilming the stories with ‘modern’ sensibilities. Killing off Judi Dench at the end of Skyfall really was the beginning of the end, as was putting Moneypenny back behind a desk because we’re back to the 1960’s and it is as if the last fifty years never happened.

It’s no wonder we won’t get an announcement on Bond 25 until next year. In the current climate, I’m not sure there’s a future for him at all.

[*] He might still take it, but part of me really hopes he walks away and never looks back.

All of Me

I’m currently in the process of getting life insurance, because now I’m a lady of a certain age, it is sensible to provision for the kids should it all go BOOM unexpectedly. All those adverts which state ‘no medical needed, just a few questions’ have no chance of ever giving you a decent lump sum, so I had to do the entire ‘just fill in these 35 pages and don’t you dare lie’ application and when they sent me back the answers, it transpires I missed a fairly vital piece in my family puzzle. My father’s had Type 2 Diabetes for a while, and was diagnosed (I believe) before he was 50, but as to when, I don’t know (and to be honest I doubt he could tell me.) The fact I have no desire to ask is neither here nor there, but for honesty’s sake I declared this.

Then, on Friday, I got a text message: CALL US NOW. So I did, and a lovely lady took a load more questions (plus checked I’d not lied on my form by double-checking some other answers) and then informed me if there were any issues, I’d speak to someone else before the cover was finalised. On Monday a letter arrived stating that I’d admitted an issue and that I needed to call them, but if this had already happened I could ignore this waste of postage and trees that was legally required to confirm they’d contacted me in writing. I assumed I was done, until the lovely lady who’s helping to complete the cover phones me and stated she thought I needed to call the company as well.

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It is staggering, considering the world in which we now live, that it takes so long to get basic stuff done. It should not need two phone calls and a letter to confirm a simple change, but it does because all these people need to be employed doing something. If computers did all this with a 30 second algorithm there’d be cries of fowl and that you need the people in the equation for checks and balances, but that doesn’t happen. Nobody talks to anybody else, and if your computer system only updates once every 24 hours? WTF are you doing? That’s 23 hours of the day that everybody else ends up wasting and nothing happens. Woe betide you have to work out how to do stuff from scratch. You only have to look at the car-crash that is the Brexit ‘plan’ to understand what happens when you just decide to do something without organisation. The problem, of course, is that it’s either too much, or nothing at all. Middle ground, where everyone is helpful and happy, just doesn’t seem to exist.

It’s been two months and I’m still not covered. Maybe they’re hoping I die and then they won’t need to pay out. Perhaps nobody’s prepared to insure anything any more because of the volatile nature of society. All I know is that I’m getting fitter every day and this is becoming progressively more ridiculous, and I sure as fuck am very glad I didn’t leave this any later to sort out because honestly, what a fucking performance.

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Talking of performances, was dragged by husband to KT Tunstall at the local venue. No, that’s not fair, I went willingly, mostly because I’m a great fan of anyone who can singlehandedly sound like a complete band with minimal effort. Last night I’ll admit I enjoyed her angsty styff more than her ‘I’m over my breakup here’s my cheery stuff’ but the audience were all up by the end so really, my opinion’s just that. I’d kind of hoped she’d do ‘Default’ by Atoms for Peace because this, without doubt, was the highlight of her last gig for me, and I’m a sad woman who knows what she likes.

At the end, my husband began acting a bit oddly, and I couldn’t work out what was going on, until it became apparent that the Scottish songstress had hurled her guitar pick into the crowd and it had hit him on the hand. A lot of frantic scrabbling then resulted in him picking it up and proclaiming a victory. This of course had to be Tweeted about, because well why not.

To explain: KT explained how she’d hurled various items into the crowd at previous gigs (including a kazoo and a drumstick) and managed to hit people in the process, and that legal action was always a concern. My husband’s hand is uninjured, hence the assertion we won’t be contacting lawyers, because they’re even slower than the bloody insurance people. It took a while, but I’m glad to see that the good lady responded.

This yet again proves my assertion that if you talk to your heroes, you’re always in with a chance of a response.

The future isn’t instant communication or days waiting, it remains somewhere in between. If you can maintain that balance, then you’re doing it right.

Burn the Witch

There are moments in my life where, I find myself stepping back from everything and asking the question ‘was that the right thing to do?’ If I’m honest, I spend far too much time poking things that should probably be well left alone, but at that moment, undoubtedly it seemed like a good idea. Some of them are, other’s aren’t: welcome to the World of Constant Reassessment. This drives my husband absolutely insane, and I can understand why, but for me having that balance running is really rather important. I’m thinking now about the last person I interacted with, how it came down to a choice that someone else imposed on me whether I kept speaking to them or not. It was either one or the other, and being made to do that to begin with should have been enough of a warning sign. That’s not how you make friends.

Yesterday I took pretty much 95% of my Twitter blocks off. It occurs to me that at some point, you have to accept the fate you place in your own path by the actions that are taken. Blocking one person across all of my social media is never something I’ve ever had to do: it is, in effect a virtual impossibility to attempt to remove someone completely from your life, and as we continue down these virtual Internet pathways it will become apparent to people that trying to control a life is only as possible as the tools that are presented to defend yourself with. I will never be able to eliminate hate whilst hate still exists. You can regulate and monitor, and if the stuff becomes dangerous, you can attempt to cut it out but ultimately, the militants and extremists aren’t the real threat. It’s the normal people who have a ‘moment’ and lose the plot that are the real killers, because nobody saw them coming.

header51In fact, if I am honest with myself, none of the people who I’ve crossed swords with are insane, or dangerous. They’re just not compatible with me. That’s hardly a reason for hate or anger, but oddly it becomes both when someone needs to prove a point. I realise that, for at least one person, I became the ‘there was this nutter on the Internet’ story that they can pass around to their friends and make it so that when I come across them in random conversation, it becomes apparent they’re not listening, or prepared to let me even talk to them. Finding you’re blocked from someone’s feed who you’ve never even spoken too means that, somewhere along the way, you became the enemy. I find that the most sobering thought of all, in all of these considerations of past and present communication. I became the person you hated, for no other reason than you didn’t like what I was. Okay, that might be a tad simplistic, but the point is still worth making.

There’s one person I still regret losing, until I realised that I haven’t. The reason why they left was (I believe) that it was too painful for them to remain whilst I am what I am. As that’s not likely to change any time soon, they vanished from one part of my life, yet steadfastly remain in others, and this is a new concept I’m trying to grasp. I’d prefer that people took me for what I was, good and bad, but the Internet allows them to pick only the parts they wish. So, photography me (who is not bound by the same rules as Twitter me) is of interest to some, but not others. Twitter me conversely becomes of significance only to those interested in the range of tastes I peddle there, whilst this Blog serves as a conduit between the two. This means, in effect, I exist in many forms, which you need to combine in which to form a complete picture of my whole.

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This is what the Internet attempts to do: computers use algorithms to try and work out our tastes and interests on shopping sites and sell stuff to us based on our own habits and desires. Social media hopes it can use the correct forms of advertising to do the same with people, which is all well and good but only to a point. The complexity of humanity means it should be virtually impossible to match people on compatibility, yet virtual dating sites are doing just that, and selling themselves on their chances of success. Everything can be matched to you, but there’s a point where you ask whether that’s what you want, because as individuals mature, so do their outlooks and attitudes. The person you loved a decade ago could be your sworn enemy; if you changed because of them, it would be great if the algorithm caught up. As you change, then the world around you should do, but ultimately for many it never does.

I want to be the change I know I can be. The only way this happens is by being better than I was yesterday, and improving a little every day. To do that, sometimes you have to do things that scare you. Occasionally, you have to admit that maybe, you were the problem.

Today, I admit that, and move on.