Who’s Laughing Now

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It is 1983. I am a HUGE Dr Who fan. I persuade my parents to drive me to Longleat for the ‘Twenty Years of a Timelord’ Event and this, frankly, is the moment when being a fan stops being a trivial pursuit and morphs into a full-life obsession. When Who got its much championed reboot, I watched religiously. After David Tennant arrived, I became aware however of a subtle shift in affiliation. In fact, the Christmas Day episode of 2005 was a bit of a watershed. Don’t get me wrong, I love the direction that’s been taken in the last 12 years. There is so much good to be seen and found across Nine, Ten, Eleven. It is only with Peter Capaldi’s arrival that I’ve felt a real disconnect. I’ve not watched any of the last season, choosing instead to keep up with the incoming regeneration via the Guardian’s excellent catchups on Sunday… and I know why. This is the same fundamental shift that has taken place with Bond in the last couple of years, and has nothing at all with either franchise.

All the change is within me.

Dr Who is a man. He’s been that way for decades and despite the sexual revolution that has occurred around him, that canon now establishes that John Simm can regenerate into Michelle Gomez? Nope, not gonna happen. I have as much chance of a female 007 in my lifetime as I do getting a Woman to become 13, and right now those odds are pretty fucking long. It is particularly irksome watching the Marvel and DC Universe embrace the diversity with open arms, but (of course) even that is a version of reality that’s not 100% true. It has taken this long for a female superhero to get a movie all to herself. There’s still a phenomenal amount of prejudice and stigma around what constitutes equal pay or fair treatment not simply of women, but anyone of colour other than white, or anybody with sexuality that can’t be measures in a binary fashion.

Television is the place where, across the decades, stigma has been challenged and broken. A black President in 24 was reality long before that reality ever happened. For every event that tries to paint anything other than a white man as wrong, there are countless examples of how diversity matters more than the need to maintain the artistic canon of books, TV shows or cinematic outings. Yet still, bastions of CIS masculinity remain. A decade ago I had no idea of what that term meant. Now I am better educated it becomes amusing (and at times disturbing) to watch how that definition is thrown about by different groups to justify the current state of society.

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Ah, yes, ‘normal people’ look at people like me who suggest that Dr Who could be a woman and immediately assume I’m broken, deranged and irredeemable. Heaven forbid that, after 50 plus years it might be great to stretch the dramatic reach of the character and give it to an actress or a person of colour. Nah, ‘normal’ is what we need to make sure that bad stuff stops happening and that everybody lives in harmony under God. Yeah, I get it. Nobody wants to be the person who rocks the boat,Β yet for a decade it has been everything else allowable and encouraged, right up to the point where we have (sorry, had) an openly gay companion. Sexual diversity is fine, but you can’t give a woman the top billing because, you know, ALWAYS A BLOKE IN CHARGE. If the upcoming regeneration brings another white actor into the TARDIS I’m outta here. An almost 45 year love affair is done and dusted.

It was great while it lasted, but it is time to move on.

Yesterday

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I live in Gym kit currently for one reason alone: if I have it on, there’s more chance of making it to exercise than not. Except yesterday I put on the clothes and then grasped I’d be better off not pushing myself physically. It was a day to clear the decks, throw out the rubbish that has been clogging my desk. Things got put away, or recycled, and we entered the Money Where Mouth Is portion of developmental proceedings. As an exercise in self control and diligence, it was remarkably successful. I don’t remember the last time I was this organised, and it has helped considerably in motivating brain to start this week the way I mean to go on.

Now, the trick has to be sticking to that plan: the Moleskine is full, not simply with written work. I gave up on bullet journaling sometime in April, but the weekly planner has now become indispensable. Exercise goals, writing subjects, forward planning is all inside, and the settling of this routine becomes more comforting with every new week. I actually started doing that on Friday, knowing what needs to be done for the Internet of Words before it all kicks off on Saturday. Thus far I am quietly confident, and hopefully once there’s some content up to entice people, I’ll grab some more Patreons. That reminds me, must sort out a Google Form for the rewards requests. Excuse me whilst I make a note of that.

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This week is another two lots of PT with a hard third session shoved in the middle. If six hours sleep is gonna be the norm again thanks to night sweats and the neighbour (who has a 5am start and is not quiet) then I may not make it to Friday without a nap inserted somewhere, or at least one ridiculously early night. The week will at least be cooler and a bit wet, which suits me fine: I really hope this is the last of the hormonal junk I have to deal with. It is bad enough in the heat without my body taking a temperature rise on an almost predictable four hour cycle. There is however the real chance this is the next 18 months to two years of my life panning out and if so, it might be a plan to just stop moaning and work through it. If I were famous I could write a book about it or maybe do stand up, but as I’m not? Time to stick the kettle on and accept the inevitable.

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I’ve been eaten a lot by insects in this last couple of weeks too, which means my legs look horrible, and as I scratch in my sleep I felt today was not the one for shorts. I’ve resurrected one of my favourite pairs of leggings, and this reminds me I should have a clear out of clothing (again) as a lot of stuff is now close to being worn out, due simply to repeated use. My running shoes went that way last weekend, 25 miles of cycling the last straw, and looking at the soles the wear on the tread is a reminder that yes, I do take this all very seriously indeed, as should be the case. That will be the second pair I’ve worn out this year, and knowing that fact I’ve ordered the replacement pair this morning on sale, saving cash in advance. Ah, the joys of Internet shopping.

… and today's legs πŸ‘

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The Warcraft blog’s got material already scheduled for the entire week. I’m not sure yet what is going to happen here, but I promise to try and make it worth your while reading.

Saturday

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I was awake at 1am, waiting for Mr Alt to return from a cross-country fit, and it was not nearly as tough as I’d thought. Once upon a time nocturnal was a default, but now it is far happier on everybody that I sleep early and often. Yesterday was an extra PT session, using vouchers I had left over from the surgery downtime. It was weights, heavier than I have ever lifted before, plus more work on my trunk, which is the part of me that requires the most attention. The difference today is already noticeable. As soon as I’m done here it’ll be a sandwich and then off for an afternoon walk/run. I really don’t want to lose momentum.

This week has gone beyond well, far exceeding expectations. I’m already planning articles for next week, quite apart from the Internet of Words stuff that is scheduled. There’s even a space left to look at a novel starting on Monday, and I don’t remember the last time there was a desire to do that. It is primarily because everything is back in my own hands, no issues with health (either physical or mental.) Knowing full well how life works, it is time to make this weekend really count. Relaxation is all well and good but, as I discovered last weekend, you can balance both downtime and effort. Like everything else, it just takes practice.

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That means less words, and more action. Time to get shit done.

Run for Home

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Once upon a time, exercise scared me. I’d find reasons not to do it: my knees were bad, I took forever to recover, I couldn’t because I was bleeding. Looking back on the litany of excuses, there is now an understanding of the true root cause. I was afraid. I would get out of breath so easily, people would stare at me, there was no real self-confidence anywhere to allow movement past the issues. However, in the last 14 months, all that has changed. It began with a phenomenal amount of just walking, alone, without focus on anything except myself. Inside that bubble, a lot of disparate thoughts finally began to make sense.

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I understand now the set of circumstances that led to confidence evaporating. Some of it is my fault alone to shoulder, but others have their share of blame to take. Now all of that is settled, comes the process of understanding that if you work for long enough, pain can be managed and overcome. Exercise is its own reward, over time: without it, I’d not have been given the warning signs over my gallbladder until possibly it was too late. However, the overriding positive from making myself do something every day is now beginning to manifest. If you do intensive sessions in the gym or on the road, rest days are indeed vital. However, my body doesn’t work like that. I have one (reasonably) intense PT session for an hour a week, which is now supplemented by two more (of the same duration) where I focus on weight training. For all the other days, there is asthmatic cardio.

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I can’t run continuously (as yet) and the most I’ve ever managed is a kilometre on the treadmill, for timing purposes. What happens right now is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which is bursts of exercise where I push myself to breathlessness, followed by periods of recovery whilst still moving. This builds stamina, strength and allows my body to learn how to breathe properly, which is almost as important as the effort itself. It also allows me to work out if the things I am eating are being effectively converted into fuel or not, which has been quite the adventure after gallbladder removal.Β Before where I would have relied on quick carbohydrates for an energy burst, more and more it is about packing in more complex carbs before I workout, and supplementing protein rich foods afterwards to ensure muscles build and strengthen.

The biggest change of all has been the sweet cravings: yeah, they still exist, but the frequency and urgency of them has diminished significantly. Whereas before I’d get a need to snack early afternoon, after surgery and with daily exercise, this has simply evaporated. More significantly, the urge to buy ‘rubbish’ has yet to materialise, though I will admit the desire for bread and butter pudding is quite strong right now. That means, this weekend, I’ll attempt to make a version with granary bread and not white, with ingredients I put in and aren’t supplemented by pointless additives and preservatives. At least that way I know exactly what is going into my body.

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Staying on the exercise wagon becomes easier with each day I do something: even if it is only 30 minutes of continuous exercise to get my heart rate up, the key is to make such effort habit-forming and then realise you don’t want to live without it. After that…? Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t really enjoy Wednesday’s ‘Pull’ day of weights: after a month off, I’m almost at the same benchmarks I left behind in May. I feel stronger in arms and trunk than has ever been the case before. Most significant of all however is how I feel afterwards: confident, happy and relaxed. Exercise makes me happy, not simply from the release of endorphins. I am stronger. This alone is worth any amount of effort and discomfort.

My body is a lumpy mess right now: mosquito bites, bruises from cycling, rolls of loose skin and fat that remains stubbornly immoveable. Once upon a time I would have cared about this but now, simply, it doesn’t matter. I have to move through this stage of being uncomfortable in my skin to get to the real goal. Physical appearance is irrelevant, all that matters are the repetitions and the goal, still tantalisingly out of reach but far closer than was ever the case last year. Then I wasn’t thinking about the bigger picture, just a weight goal which would somehow make everything better. Now there’s an understanding that exercise doesn’t work like that. You don’t get to the finish line and BANG its all perfect, far from it. To truly understand the real value of fitness, it has to be lived and understood, one day at a time.

This is a journey I am only just beginning.

Breathe

I never finished my Mindfulness course.

Begun what seems like an age ago, in the heat of stress and concern pre-Operation, it has been so long since my last session that the automated e-mails have stopped coming. I feel, especially considering the events of the last few weeks, it might well be worth going back to the start and going from scratch. I learnt so much even from the brief time I had with the materials, which helped enormously during the stress leading up to surgery. As I consider all this, the middle of May seems like a lifetime ago. So much has altered mentally, I can’t easily identify the person prior to all that.

This is a FAR better place to be than the past ever was.

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Planning is going remarkably well this week, despite the number of hours sleep per night dwindling. I managed to hit 12k steps last night too, and (fates allowing) that should keep happening for the forseeable future. Yesterday’s Gym session wasn’t great, but the scales are shifting again so there’s increased motivation to keep going. I can sense a period upcoming of simple dedication to task: if I was riding a bike race, the plan would be to ‘just keep spinning’ making sure my legs didn’t stop, forward movement never arrested. That’s a good metaphor, as it stands: keep walking, running and lifting and eventually, via sheer force of repetition, weight stays off.

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After that, there are plans for many things, but the biggest priority is getting the IoW infrastructure established so that can also become habit in the months that follow. Being a content creator is SRS BNS, after all.

For now, today’s just about making sure I make it to the end with as much done as possible.