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

somethingwrong

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.Β 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.Β 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.

hardlife

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.

fuckthis

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?Β 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.Β  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.

Nothing

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.

Fuckoff_cake

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.Β 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.

feelings

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.Β 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.Β 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.Β 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.

thatsbait

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’Β 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.

elmo

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.

TheDoctor_4

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.Β 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.

allthefingers

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.

cakeordeath

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.

Do I Wanna Know?

I waa cycling when the alert went out that Boris had recorded a message. There was a bit of speculation beforehand: he’ll shut down London, maybe give the police more powersΒ  to sort out people flouting the advice. Locking down the entire country was a shock.Β It still is. You know I said I wouldn’t talk about the C-Word any more? After this blog, honestly not gonna do it again.

At least everybody is in the same boat now. I hope you all brought snacks.


kettleON3
When history recalls this period in human existence, these days will probably be granted scant attention. Reference may well be made to how learning to deal with contagion was never really considered on a global scale before, despite it having taken place previously. What will matter undoubtedly is what happens afterwards: how life changes when dust settles, as governments are forced to concede that priorities have shifted.

I’d like to think that it will be the virtual world which will emerge from this as the real winner. There’s been talk in certain circles of how the Internet has been wasted as a true communication resource, this is something that will now be pulled front and centre. Many people won’t be thinking further than tomorrow right now, but for those of you with spare mental capacity, this is absolutely the moment when new paths will be defined.

myturn

History will remember the foolish as a warning: you were told to stay in and not spread a virus that may not totally physically decimate a population, but has altered its mental outlook forever. The brave however will prosper. They will endure, and hopefully when the time comes can possess momentum to allow humanity to evolve a little wiser and more capable.

Don’t be the person who said ‘I told you so.’ Be the one who asks ‘How can I help?’

Utopia

This is how the game works.

Carrying on as normal is not possible with many things. However, for me at home, the routine is what defines a very fine line between coping and floundering. Therefore, as a result, today, and every one thereafter until we are out of this nightmare, has a structure. Other people can drink wine and eat biscuits. That part of coping mechanisms is well covered. I’m here to write, exercise and ensure the house runs like a military operation.

These are my tasks, and I will do them well.

That means not just an exercise plan , but not letting chores pile up. It means clearing space, removing things that absolutely do not spark joy, cleaning, reorganising for better efficiency… the list is endless. Boredom is never gonna happen, especially with the knowledge of how much I’ve not read, watched or indeed listened too over the last decade. That doesn’t include gaming either… don’t get me started.

Priority has to go to the stuff that’s sat, conspicuously avoided for the longest time, which means rewiring the house ethernet, clearing out kitchen cupboards, properly rationalising my own working space, keeping up to date with house filing and being properly brutal with the clothes upstairs. They’re all written down now, I can’t avoid them. It all has to happen under the auspice of Spring Cleaning.

That means, after this and a couple of hours work, I pretend I’m going to the gym and have a pretend PT. After that there’s some lunch, then all the planners get torn down and April’s finally put in place. Once all that is sorted, it all just gets done, and I go for a cycle ride, and then probably spend the evening throwing out old pots and pans. It doesn’t have to be reinventing fiction or becoming an overnight expert at summat.

In the beginning, routine is enough, and hopefully with enough time and space a brain in total crisis will finally, blissfully unwind. That’s how it has always worked in the past and I can but hope this is the way forward. All that there is is what is known, until the change process moves out of chaos and finds a transforming idea with which to work from. Its around here somewhere. Hard work will help it appear.

This is the path that must be trodden.

Heads Will Roll

The plan going forward now is simple: starting tomorrow, I’ll be using this platform to talk about anything but the C-Word.Β The writing blog will be back in April, as will the start proper of all my Patreon content. You can be totally reassured that at no point will I be selling myself based on the pandemic: a very snotty tweet sequence has just been thrown at Masterclass for doing just that. Seriously, no.

I am here for positive mental health and a sense of genuine progression. Technology is there to help, and that means using it in a far more positive manner than has been previously the case. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the negativity, just as it is to pretend nothing bad is happening and carry on regardless. To survive, everything must change. No really, it does, like it or not.

Time to throw away all that ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ merchandise.

Four times this week a static bike has been used. That will be updated to seven days starting tomorrow. Some days will be more effort than others, but for now this is undoubtedly the best way to keep my legs in fighting condition. It elevates the baseline level of exercise from something most days to constant effort. It’s the equivalent of that walk to and from the Gym, or the walk outside that yesterday reduced me to tears.

The endorphin rush can come from anywhere, it doesn’t have to be walking through the forest, and once my brain’s better adjusted to the concepts we now find ourselves living with, it will come back. For now however, it is time to build mental strength and physical resilience, in a time where both matter more than anything else that could possibly be done. That space, to my left, just became the Gym.

Time to make it work for me.