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Objectivity in crisis is a hard ask. It’s why you have to feel for all those people unable to move forward right now, and there are a fuck of a lot of them. How will you ever shift away from the permanent, almost omniscient panic that accompanies not knowing what might happen if you get sick? These are difficult times, and they require unusual bravery to navigate. What this really means is so subjective as to often defy any ability to quantify.

Right now, forward is about realistic aims, in sensible timeframes. When I sat down to try and plan the next year on Patreon, there was the immediate and inescapable understanding that being creative whilst the world is on fire is great, but other stuff matters more… like keeping healthy, and self-care, and most importantly finding time in chaos to allow it all to settle and make sense. That means that there needs to be more time for me, or else we’ll just repeat the same shit that happened last time and no-one learns anything.

In this case, rest has become preferable to change.

It’s odd how we perceive things differently to other people. It’s almost as if everybody is different, and that our interests often need work to remain aligned. Hugh uses three words here, none of which I’d have picked to describe the content, but all of which are both understandable and relevant in context. The amount of assumptive posturing that has taken place as a result of it is unsurprising too. You can make anything relevant to your cause, given enough intelligence and creativity.

I appreciate that other people also view social media in a vastly differing manner to me. This is a fact, not an opinion. Knowing this should mean that you grasp that sometimes, like it or not, you’re never going to get along. Heading these people off at the metaphorical pass has never been more important as it is now. However, crucially, it means that what you hear and see will remain more sanitised and less realistic a view of the true unmitigated horror of reality, and it is horrible. I’m not talking fascism and populism either.

Your biggest enemy is the one with nothing to lose.

What I am is so complicated and multi-faceted even I really don’t have a total handle on what it means. However, one thing that’s inescapable is the need now to survive, and to minimise damage whilst doing so. That means looking for the right people to help and support, and quietly realigning my priorities. That’s what most people try and do at the start of years. This has been going on since the middle of the last one.

Finally, we are beginning to see some real, actual progress.

Harmonium

Sometimes, it isn’t about the right thing, it’s just ANYTHING. Yes, of course you want to move forward and get better, but simultaneously everything is hard and painful and often just easier to rationalise your way out of. I spent most of December convinced the next day would be the one I got sick. With two days to go, my left foot/ankle has begun to spasm, there’s a sore point behind my left kneecap and these things previously would have sent me into meltdown. Now, frankly, I don’t fucking care.

This is a space between different people. The woman who existed before my husband’s positive test, on the back of the eldest testing positive too was really, truthfully, not nearly brutal or ruthless enough. This woman knows what needs to happen for the tide to turn. How you view the world is absolutely key. It’s the difference between 40Β km and 100Β km, when there’re easier means to do both than the ways you initially thought were, in the main, intractable.

It’s the difference between capable and assertive.

How I look and how I feel are now two distinct, separate beasts. When I’m done here I’m going upstairs to throw quite a lot of stuff away for good. There kept being this promise it would happen, but it never did, because the part of me remained that thought what was needed was to fit back into the lives I left behind, instead of burning them to ash. This was never about going back to where it all began, either. This should always have been a push away, as far as possible from what is still there, taunting and being generally unhelpful.

Really, truthfully, everything needs to burn, this time for good.

There are plenty of matches.

Hello, Hello

This is the longest blog break here for a while. I’d like to explain why.

If all I had to do was be more organized, this would be easy. The fact remains there is a lot more to my evolutionary step this time than just writing more lists. I have a body to properly alter, rather than just the (often) token efforts that have been made thus far. Lockdown 2.0 came at a bad time for me. I refuse to lose my progress. Therefore, there’s a lot of hard work to do.

The NaNo has literally written itself. I have my next novel project organized, which is unheard of. Next week I need to look to start editing an existing work too. I’ve not done with poetry, far from it, but right now the storytelling matters more, so that is what I am focussing on. There have been domestic issues too, that have mattered more than being here or using this as routine. Right now, that is NaNo.

I won’t Shonk again this week, the audio’s now out of date, such is the speed that the world works, so we’ll sort it for next week instead. That’s a lot of the problem right now, I am not a fast mover, which is no more apparent than at present. However, with the benefit of a CRACKING night’s sleep… it is true that I need to work more physically to wear me out.

Let’s see if we can keep this up.

Good with my Hands

I’m behind on some things but ahead with others, and to fix everything is a case of concentrating for a bit and moving forward. Some stuff I am still in the habit-forming period of existence, others were just not summat I’ve wanted to do, particularly. Patreon is keeping up to date, which is what matters most.

Video, as it happens, is going extraordinarily well. Gonna redo my Patreon introduction as a result of a tech development today. Should have another video poem finished for Friday. Honestly, all going GREAT, but the best thing of all undoubtedly is exercise. I am now exceeding 2018 levels of fitness. More importantly, Strava is doing good work at reminding me :D

Nine days ago I was beginning to push at 2018 levels. Last night, when I tried and took 46 SECONDS off my personal best… Yeah, there’s a change. I’m gonna keep working at it. Protein shakes are really helping. Muscle mass is on the way up. I got off the bike and felt stronger than has been the case for a LONG time.

More news as it happens.

Becoming More Like Alfie

Yesterday was a triumph of form over function. Who thought that a prose piece would cause so much damage, and that defending other people would be used as a means to attack my position. It is indeed all fun and games until someone’s ego is damaged and then all you have is memories and a far larger block list. Welcome to October, where everything is in free-fall.

Except, as it transpires, this is perfectly fine. No .GIFs of cartoon dogs have been burnt in the making of this blog. I have a minute of video this morning utilising two webcams and Discord, which is fucking light years ahead of where I was two months ago. Knowing how to use it, of course, is a different matter entirely, and now the tech needs to percolate in my brain.

I might be able to manage a poem a week on YouTube, though…

These are all small steps. Seeing my own work up is a step in a decent direction. It all works well in my own mind’s eye. That’s what this is all about, when everything is said and done. It is a slow, measured progression of ideas that started on paper. Now I can plan, and consider new ways to evolve myself, in new forms and possibilities.

All of it, in the end, is only working towards a single goal: expression.

Believe

Today is already quite important.

Loneliness is a big deal for me right now, which may seem incredible under current circumstances. After all, Lockdown is making people variously crave or be genuinely afraid of human contact. For me, however, the mental processes are different, and two incidents over the last 24 hours have finally allowed me to quantify why, right now, it really does feel like all I’m doing is yelling into a void.

It takes me a PHENOMENALLY long time to properly make friends with people. Sure, I can slip into conversations all day and night, hide in plain sight and never, ever feel as if those moments are anything other than totally natural. I’ve also become excellent at reading and taking stuff from other people in without ever needing to interact with them. That comes from decades as text as, in many cases my only contact with other people.

The problem, ultimately, is finding other people like me.

I attended a Time to Change Virtual Networking event yesterday, which was incredibly life affirming and made me realise, yet again, that I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with mental health issues. However, I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I felt unbelievably anxious and very alone indeed and, it’s apparent from distance, that’s because there is no individual interaction in a group of 80 people.

When I ended up in a Breakout room, or in a smaller group for feedback, the whole thing changed. When I’m talking to my local Hub or on a one-to-one with a fellow champion, none of the anxiety or disconnection exists. It is the need to talk to someone but, crucially, for them to share some kind of common bond. It isn’t just the conversation that matters. It is the possibility that someone might care enough to become a friend.

The significance of that realization is still resonating within me.

I have words that explain why I feel this way, that are accompanied by concepts that were introduced during counselling last year. I know full well why the emotions within me exist, and how in the past they pushed me to do things that were harmful and ended up hurting the people I cared about. So many of my issues drift back to never having the information required to be whole growing up. A lot of that was wrapped around my sexuality.

Understanding that I was attracted to both boys and girls several decades after those feelings first became apparent was part of my process of redemption. It has allowed everything to find its correct and proper level. It won’t deal with the consequences however, or make certain anxieties and phobias vanish. That is my job to address and deal with, and it is happening.

It may be self-indulgent, but honestly it should not be a surprise.

Knowing how my physical state affects mental well-being has been a revelation in recent months. Sleep plays a massive factor in understanding. However, more than anything else right now I crave empathic, intellectual connections. It’s why Patreon is so important as a creative tool, to allow me to explore the parts of my brain that so need to become as strong as my legs or arms.

It is why, on Bi Visibility Day, it matters to remind people that I am. It’s why those who malign social media need constant prompting that it isn’t the delivery system that needs work, but how people choose to use it. All of these things make life worth living. They give me purpose, paths and goals to achieve, and without them the Void is very big and it can become increasingly depressing shouting into it.

The problems are mine to fix. I cannot, however, do it alone.

Lies

I wrote in my diary this week that a longlist acknowledgement would be due for an award I’d entered for. Last night, there was a large Chinese take out as commiseration that, yet again, I’ve not made the cut. This served two purposes: it’s my last ‘big’ meal for two months as of this morning, I have some eating changes that need to be instigated, so plans for exercise will fall in the right place.

I’ll talk about this part of my mindset change in more detail next week, but the TL;DR version of it all is that I am not enough any more. Mentally an awful lot of stuff is working well, but it not in the right places, and therefore starting today there will be rearrangement (yet again) of my spaces. You won’t notice a lot of it, but to me it is pretty much everything.

There’s been a lot of singing in the car this week. This is good.

No really, there’s been practice of circular breathing, which I’ve not done since I was regularly playing a musical instrument (I was a bit of a prodigy, as it happens, but we don’t talk about that part of my life any more) It’s use now will be for stamina training during exercise: I’m gearing up for my cycle FTP test tomorrow and once that is done, many things are going to get reorganised.

We’ll talk about it all tomorrow.

Goodbye

Yesterday, I got quite upset. It was a combination of things, culminating in someone who is really respected getting grumpy over my enthusiasm, for something which is really being looked forward to. Then I remembered the ‘opinions’ are not facts’ rule, and the ‘enjoyment is subjective’ sub-clause and it’s okay for people not to like the same things you do.

The bigger issue occurs when someone subsequently bimbles along and then tries to convince that actually, you are the problem. That opinion is unacceptable. The difference is in the wording. This is the correct mindset, notwithstanding it being held not to be the correct mindset. It doesn’t matter that it is logical, sensible and applicable. You’re wrong, because you don’t agree with the person who objects to you not agreeing with them.

Welcome to the Pedantry Circle of Hell, population those people.

I spend a lot of my life arguing with people like this. By all accounts, at my age, I should be a person like this, but that is absolutely never going to happen. There are plenty of other people making the dick moves in the World, they don’t need anyone else. So, this space is now one where lots of things will be considered, nothing ignored if it is done with civility and well-exampled.

However, yesterday I saw comments by people ignored or removed from my feed some time ago that just reinforce this attitude hasn’t altered for, in at least one case, a decade. This is not about being right for myself either: pointing a finger at someone else for their inability to alter themselves is no better than the reversal of the action. To be better, all of those things need to be put aside.

That’s where I’ve been falling down for quite some time.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Once upon a time, I was thinking about a phone upgrade. The Huawei phone I had remained great: solid performance, but there’d been issues with the battery, then I’d dropped it and needed to replace everything on insurance. Looking at my contract, with three months left, I’d have to pay a couple of hundred quid to do so, which didn’t exist anyway.

I cast around for a bit, looking for a cheaper alternative. Apple was a non-starter. I didn’t want another Huawei because their own software was becoming intrusive. Someone (I do not remember who) on my Twitter timeline suggested I take a look at the Pixel 4a when the time came. There was an article about it in the Guardian that day. I linked it to Future Self as a reminder in December.

Then, this happened:

I thought maybe this was a scam, but no, that’s legitimately Google’s UK account. So, I did as I was told. I said hi, and via DM was asked to provide a name and address, which is when alarm bells started to ring. All my online smarts told me that stuff like this is normally a precursor to bad things happening. Fraud, crappy mail for the rest of time, that kind of stuff.

Some internal rationalization then followed: maybe they wanna send me stuff about the phone? Maybe it might be some kind of promotion? Hey, if it’s a money off voucher, this would be useful regardless. So, I committed. I wrote, in the instructions box they provided, ‘make sure you ring the bell’ because, knowing how Google Forms work, they’s just print out the address and the instructions to stick on the parcel, and then I’d know it was from them.

Fast-forward to last Thursday. Daughter’s first day back at school. Quite stressful all round. Getting ready to go on the School Run, a man appears with a parcel at the front door, on which my instructions are indeed printed. It is FAR TOO LARGE to be a phone and suddenly, I am more than confused… until I open it.

I am now the proud owner of a Pixel 4a. I traded in the old phone last night and so, as it happens, also in profit as a result of this deal. It’s a beautifully compact, very lovely thing and will be used to take photos with this week to see just how capable it is in the field. Thus far I am more than happy but remain a little confused.

Whoever it was who decided I was worthy of one of these things, THANK YOU. The drink and the snacks were lovely, and quite unnecessary. I’ll use it for as long as is possible and it will be very well taken care of, but for the record if you wanted an influencer, there are probably better tech people that could have been chosen. However, this solves the issue of replacing stuff. For that alone, I am happy.

It’s the little things that really make a big difference to people like me.

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

I’m beginning to lose patience with Social media again. It will, undoubtedly, be the reason I never truly make it ‘big’ because I refuse, point-blank, to be the person who does it the way is either a) right or b) the way everybody else does. I am c) fuck you on every single answer when it comes to this game at present, especially to those people who turn up, realise I’m not here to help them, and fuck off again.

There’s a lot of that going on at the moment.

I’m seeing people belittle others with increasing frequency too, as if life has somehow become an exercise in making it your job to be righteous. Nobody is suggesting you can’t live your life in the way it matters to you, but if that means denying other people of help and support that might help them live better lives… that’s where you need to check your privilege.

This is faith. I know a lot of individuals would (and have) bristle at that use of the word. However, like it or not, if there’s something you believe and you cannot adequately either explain it to anyone else or it is an experience that you alone have gone through and it has fundamentally altered your outlook on life… well…

I have a number of friends who walk with a god. There’s not just one, as has been established in history, but quite a few flavours of religion. Their preferred faith is no different to those who look to the ancient teachings of Shamen or Druids for guidance. Everybody has a means to connect themselves to the here and now, the key to progress is accepting that they are ALL valid, in one way or another. You respect them all.

This also means the fascists, like it or not, have a facet of validity within them. Yes I really did type that because in a world where increasing numbers of people seem to care about nothing except themselves, hating people who are not in the image you ascribe as perfect is no different in a certain light to pronouncing other people’s lifestyle choices are unsound, based on your own prescribed beliefs.

The Universe however is far larger than you will ever be.

Once upon a time, validation was very important to me from other people. I know the exact moment when that changed, and in a certain light I could see how other people might consider that as a religious experience. Of course, because I have no idea of what that really is for anyone else, there is no benchmark to measure on… and yet, here I am, trying to do just that.

This is not about being right. This should never be about waving words around like vindication, except now everyone has a cause that they need to champion, a fight that needs to be undertaken. Not everything is a Holy War, except on Social media, where everything nearly always is. It’s exhausting, and at some point people are going to get hurt.

It will be mental health that ends up as the biggest casualty, without doubt.