Ballad of the Mighty I

There is a remarkable amount of shit in my head right now. It is the logical progression of having to readjust everything that would normally going on into a new approximation of ‘normal’ including exercise, domestic responsibility and all the stuff I am now committed to as a writer. The constant background reminder, of course, is that it’s not just me struggling with the new Normal.

However, yesterday was a triumph. My arms hurt. I got a leg cramp at 5.45am because not enough water has been consumed and I am a doofus. All this concerted effort is indeed having an effect. I’m now back to proper recording of food on MyFitnessPal and then, new routine will eventually sink in. Also, needs to be a reduction in both tea and Mars Bars. One will be easier, the other considerably less so.

Today is a rest day for my body, anything but for my brain. There’s a phenomenal amount to do, and it is not going to complete itself.

Let’s roll.

Walk the Line

Progress is never an easy ask. A lot of the journey is adaptive reasoning: I can work harder, how do I work harder, this works, push here. Undoubtedly strength and body condition are crucial factors. However, when all is said and done, if head says nope, nothing will happen. This isn’t about being shouted at in a class for 45 minutes in the vain hope something will stick.

Last night my husband turned around post session and told me how proud of me he was: the biking exercise being used currently has a sliding scale of difficulty. That means it can be performed at between 90 and 110% of you calculated power. He’d seen me adjust that halfway through last night’s session, assuming I’d gone down. The last 20 minutes were pushed up, not down.

For the first time since starting this there is yellow zone without prompting.


My sleep’s shot as a result, and it will take some time to get that bit of the equation back to normal, but this daily burst of exercise has effectively replaced walking, which needs to change. I have to go out today, and record it, plus every day going forward. Air pollution should really not be a problem either, the world around here is mandated silence. The only flights left leaving our airport are freight.

Today I need to organise a proper workout too: the weather is a bit pants here at present, so that means inside, with a couple of videos as accompaniment. I have a 12kg kettlebell with which to do some weights too, so there will be some time spent pulling together a single weight workout. Last week I burned as many calories without the Gym as I managed the last full week there was access to one, so effort’s not an issue.

My problem, undoubtedly, is planning.


It’s not like I don’t have the raw materials at my disposal to make all of this happen either. As with everything else, planning is the key. It is also important I don’t let things like *cough* video games *cough* distract me from the path, which would be pretty easy right now. The hard work needs to be done first, and after that we’ll work on the other, more enjoyable things.

I’m planning to come out of this fitter than I did coming in.

Living on an Island

I have a house on a virtual island, that for a couple of hours each day I slowly update. I regularly contribute fish, insects and fossils to the local Museum. I’ve helped encourage new people to settle. I’ve been building fences, and today I bought a sink unit for my home. It is all unbelievably relaxing and enjoyable, and absolutely nobody’s going to criticise my life choices, except my 15 year old. I’m used to her by now.

Really, this is the relaxation I’ve been looking for over the last week.

I haven’t forgotten about Pokemon, but it’s been a week now since I walked further than the back of the garden. I might be in range of the nearest Pokestop when doing that, but will have to check later when it’s not hailing outside ^^ Once that’s back in synch, all my gaming needs should be adequately covered. It is a massive step forward for me, believe it or not, to have been able to find new ways to relax like this.

There was an enormous temptation to go back to a game in which I have invested literally years of my life. However, yesterday, the book I used to use to keep my lists of things to do for that game was thrown away for good. The final straw for me yesterday was hearing that there’s talk of further breaking down that game into pieces, effectively negating years worth of playtime when the content was new.

I would have written about it at length before. Now, it’s not worth the effort.

I can’t blame them for wanting to try anything possible to keep their customers. All the things I ever wanted from that game are in AC:NH now anyway: truly customizable items and housing, no need to beat anyone else or win at anything other than my pace. In the end, as my husband occasionally likes to remind, you need to be the one defining what constitutes the end.

It’s ironic of course that we’re living in the virtual world where gaming has become a lifeline for many. It’s the ultimate in distancing, yet at the same time allowing you to feel social. That’s not the half of it: when you’ve hidden somewhere for years because reality is a tough ask, that last thing that’s really helpful is to return to that state. It’s why playtime is being strictly limited. Priorities have altered.

The real world, even now, is more attractive than escaping back to gaming long-term.

Fire Escape

I never used to be that social, but in the last three years a Saturday Gym visit has become hugely beneficial. Even if I never talked to anyone, feeling part of a productive whole had advantages. Yesterday afternoon, working out in the garden whilst my husband used the static bikes in our shed, that feeling returned. Being with others makes that exertion easier. It makes the process of pushing yourself become that much simpler.

The lovely lass I do personal training with once a week joked with me that she could never see a day that the Gym would shut. She sends me messages every few days, making sure I am okay, and today there was an undeniable hint of desperation in the messages. If all the people she trains are forced to do so alone, who will need trainers once this is all over? I’ve missed her company terribly, I’ll happily admit.

You don’t get rid of me that easily :D


There will be a lot of adjustment going forward, it occurs to me, and not just in the obvious areas where social contact was a given. Listening on the radio to which sportsmen can still exercise at home and those who require special equipment with thich to operate is a consequence of this I am very aware of. I already miss the bench press terribly: if there were money, I’d actually ask to have weights equipment right now.

Instead, body weight exercises will have to do. Legs are undoubtedly feeling stronger: I have switched up my exercise routine to push a bit harder for the next week, and we’ll see how things pan out. There’s enough upper body and core workouts online now to keep me going indefinitely, so today I’m gonna stick with my daily minimum and nothing more.

Tomorrow, stuff will get a bit more serious.

No Heaven

For the last couple of years I’ve entered the flagship poetry competition that is run by the flagship poetry organisation in England. The stuff I wrote was, at time of entry, absolutely my best work. Since then and now, a phenomenal amount has changed, both personally and professionally. Looking at what I submitted, and holding it up against what won? I was never in with a chance.

I find it incredibly difficult to find any affinity with poems that are, in essence, descriptive passages. That’s prose: it’s not lyrical, or exciting, or indeed affecting. Poetry, for me at least, needs a reason to exist beyond simply painting a picture. There should be depth, hidden corners, surprises waiting to emerge after multiple readings. If it’s an effort to even get through a poem once? Nope.

This is a problem, and I am wondering if there’s any point in trying to solve it.


There’s also a lot of personal trauma over the entire objective versus subjective voice that seems to hold a lot of these poems together. Being angry, apparently, doesn’t make for good poems. Look at stuff at distance, holding it with gloves instead of letting the whole thing get you mucky, seems like not giving your subject matter the airing it deserves or often forcibly demands.

However, this time around it doesn’t help that the winning poem’s subject matter is something I know quite a bit about, and carry a measure of personal experience of within. This poem is not for me. However many times I read it, it will never be for me. In fact, the more times I try to read it and understand why it won, the more upset it makes me. It is a red rag, elegantly embroidered with middle class sensibilities.

This will never be the poetry I want to write.


Therefore, when entries open for this year, should I even bother for validation? I could, it occurs to me, simply take everything that won this year, perm all the best structural features from each and then create a dream framework on which I hang my words… but really, what would be the point? One of my best skills has always been mimicry, but who cares if you’re not being honest to yourself?

This is my scheduled reminder, for what it is worth, that a poem written because the subject matter made me happy is being published this year. I will be anthologised.  That was work that mattered, and still does. This year, therefore, the middle finger goes up to the Cool Kids Club, and so what if they get offended. Life, as we are all now learning, is far too short for anything except allowing your soul the space needed to expand.

Make happiness matter more than critical appreciation.


Real Talk Time: get a cuppa.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to do one of those posts. Other people can sort their own fucking lives out perfectly well: deity knows most of you now possess plenty of time to take a cold, hard look at yourselves and work out where the issues are. Normally, in situations like this of protracted high stress, that’s exactly when those epiphanies happen. In fiction certainly, it’s a great moment to get your protagonist to grasp where he’s been going wrong all these years.

I’ve always done my best to listen to those I interact with online, but there are failures in the process. That’s the problem with time-zones and language issues: text based media can be incredibly easy to misinterpret. Even when your Prime Minister tells everybody to stay at home like it’s 1941, what that practically means will take days to finally work out. Humanity, amazingly, is quite smart, and needs more than just one instruction to function.


The Internet made everybody an expert, when all that means is that we have experience that often overlaps that of others. The reality is often a lot less secure when actual experts turn up and tell us our fortunes, and here is where there is still an unbelievable amount to learn. It’s okay to be wrong. When that changes is the millisecond after someone tells you that and you react badly. That’s me, that is.

I am absolutely awful at admitting fault: I know why this is, and it is utterly and totally rooted in trauma so painfully wound that it has taken four decades to even begin. When the problem is utterly and undeniably you, it takes a bit of strength to be able to go back and look at the previous mistakes made with a measure of objectivity. However, when you do? An awful lot of things become clearer and easier to grasp.

You are not always perfect. Never forget this.


Over time, when I’ve written posts previously like this, people have decided that it isn’t a personal revelation, but some kind of sly, sneaky dig at them. The first time it happened was back on my gaming blog, when I called a particular in-game item ridiculous because its name made no sense to me. Little did I know it had been named after someone quite beloved in another community, whose friends turned up to attack me for my lack of comprehension. It remains an honest mistake, nothing more.

I carry that guilt around with me to this day, with a warning: you don’t ever know everything. However much you may think you’ve sussed life, it rarely is. I’m not just taking casual racism, cultural appropriation, minority bashing, fear of differing sexualities, disability abuse… all those are the top of an iceberg that reaches so far down into the water there are prehistoric fish living down there too. You know nothing. Don’t @ me with a counter, it is a FACT.

Stray into someone else’s world without a map and an escape route at your peril.


I owe that group of people, on reflection, a debt of gratitude. They made me realise that their World wasn’t one I would ever really succeed in at the capacity with which I aimed for. Nothing much has changed in that capacity either: there is still this blind, almost fanatical devotion in so many who feel that there is only one path, and any criticism of that is unacceptable. I am still schooled on that daily.

The difference between then and now, of course, are the people who allow me the benefit of the doubt, who support the way I do things not as wrong, but different. If I had existed in a US High School (an analogy I know many people like to use for Social media) it wouldn’t be a simple case of pointing at the Plastics, Jocks or Geeks and saying ‘this is my tribe’ either. I have travelled largely alone, in that regard, for my entire adult life.

Finding people who accept that has been virtually impossible on a social network.


All the rest of you are far more comfortable with labels than I will ever be. I need to be seperate, unreachable, not because I’m being fucking mysterious or unattainable, seriously fuck off all you people who think this is a Thing. To survive, as the person I am, I stopped being social at a crucial point in my life. It’s nothing to do with anybody else here. This, like it or not, is the inevitable consequence of childhood trauma.

It made me this person, and for decades I had no ability to separate out what really happened. Now there is the means by which those moment can be rationalised. I did that yesterday. I’ll do it again today, and for every day until I die. Nobody cures me, this never goes away. It just gets easier. Simultaneously the capacity to understand everything and nothing at all is but an exhale away.

Pick every action you undertake with the greatest care.

The Trouble with Us

I’ve been blogging as therapy for over a decade.

Things were pretty basic at the start, it must be said. It was more a diary or, in the case of talking about a video game, list of what had been achieved. However, over time, stuff evolved. Honesty replaced cautiousness. It was easy to tell which days I struggled with, there was no writing. Making that connection, believe it or not, took a bit of time and effort to accept. What seems obvious at distance is often invisible up close.

When I landed a paid gig on the back of my game writing, suddenly there was legitimacy where before had simply existed enthusiasm. Writing like an adult had been happening for some time, but honesty never went away. As I began to lose faith and enthusiasm for the subject matter that had once sustained me, reality very much crashed the party. I’d been using a virtual space as a crutch: walking unaided had been possible for years.

Stepping away remains one of the most complicated things I’ve ever done.


I watch the world right now, struggling with a concept that once was all I ever wanted to do. There’s a joke doing the rounds right now: all us gaming introverts have been training for social distancing our entire lives. I’d accept the comment, to a point. Outside may have been a physical impossibility for me, at least for a period of a year in the past, but things got better. I love being outside now.

Except last weekend, a walk made me feel physically ill: looking at other people, not getting that what they were doing was potentially dangerous, not being able to rush up and tell them (for obvious reasons) and BOOM brain overloaded. It has taken this long… that’s four days, in order for my subconscious to have a chance to accept that you don’t get to change that. People have to be stupid. That’s what they do.

Some things never get to be changed, that’s alway the way.


Instead of talking about the C-Word, it is the best time now to discuss how I am learning to deal with change. This is something, if you read these blogs over time, it will become apparent I fucking suck royally at. Take last night, for instance: husband’s been working at home all day. Some bits of this were high stress, because he as HR is responsible for a lot of people’s lives right now. He decides to change his mind over evening exercise and not tell me.

Previously, this would cause a bit of a meltdown, and last night it almost did, except brain’s got the memo that reaction times really have to keep being up, and personal care has never been more important as it is now. Everybody got what they needed, there was only minimum stress once it was accepted that being in bed at 9.30pm wasn’t a kop out, but best way to deal with what I knew had been coming since Saturday afternoon.

More people need to start listening to their bodies.


Exercise is vital to continued wellbeing, and if there’s no walking, part of that equation is broken. I’m not sure whether morning or evening is going to be best, but it will restart tomorrow, because there’s no way that good mental health survives long term without something happening in that regard. It won’t be the park. I won’t walk past the Hospital. Maybe there could be some actual planning of a 5k route.

I could possibly work up to being able to run.

There’s an idea.