The Dawning of a New Day

Honesty in my life is becoming a rather big deal.

As you’ll see in an unscheduled Writing post on the other site, finding trustworthy people in this great big pile of social media shit can be, on any given day, a rather fraught affair. Everybody it seems is out to make their own fortune in the World without a care to helping anybody except themselves: however, that’s been the way of things for as long as I can remember. That whole ‘if your face doesn’t fit’ saying is true, too, except on a Global stage that doesn’t really matter if you possess enough determination and the right tools of your trade. There comes a point however when even the most cynical and jaded of us are forced to compromise to move forward. I arrived there at the back end of last week, and now comes the moment to make my choice.

In this case, I will hang onto my integrity for all that it is worth, but accept that if I want to take the next step forward, some kind of assistance will be required.

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I’ve drawn some lines for myself as indicators to progress; the main one is whether anyone is prepared to fund my long term endeavours. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve encouraged me thus far by offering to donate to my costs, and in eight years nobody ever has. I know full well why this is: I’m seen as volatile and unpredictable, and a number of projects begun with high ideals were never completed. Based on that experience I’d not fund me either, and this was one of the reasons why, at the start of this year, I determined to cut back on workload and try and concentrate on specific projects and not throw myself at everything simultaneously. I’d say at present I’m at 60% success rate: when I can maintain 100% for at least a three month period, that will be the time to take another step forward.

Therefore, all things being equal, if I’m able to get to and maintain a 100% return on promises for work produced by September, I will launch my own Patreon. Primarily this will be to cover the costs of maintaining three websites on WordPress, with a long term view to optimising at least one for SEO (which requires me to upgrade to a Business plan.) Because I’m on my own and without the ability to run my own server (and to be honest that’s not something I want to even think about) it will initially be no more fancy than that. This is not about World Domination when it’s taken nearly a decade to learn to run again, so we’ll be taking it slow to begin with.

In effect, this will be me taking the first step forward to becoming an independent writer.

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Using Patreon, of course, allows me to exchange concrete evidence of effort for your hard earned cash, and as the months go on I’ll do just that, with interesting and challenging  incentives for both time and continued support. I’m also aware of the current cynicism in at least the Warcraft community over how crowdfunding can used for less than worthwhile endeavours by those who could be considered as exploiting the concept. I’m not here to take holidays or do nothing with your money, I grasp that if you give something there should always be a balance in return. An aversion to commercialism is also the reason why I’ve refused to use either Adwords or any kind of overt advertising on my sites since the practice became almost essential for writers. That’s not changing any time soon either.

What I’m here and doing today is asking for people to consider an opportunity to prove my work is worthwhile and has merit. I’m hoping that the last few years (often harsh) lessons in learning how to deal with a difficult and confrontational Community has taught me well enough that I can now move forward. I believe I am capable of making a decent job of this, or else I wouldn’t be committing myself to the cause in the first place. This is why I’ve withdrawn from previous commitments around streaming and podcasting. However, it should be said that if things move forward both may yet be useful tools for expression, and I will consider using them both to augment the websites.

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I’m going to leave at the bottom of this post a link to my Paypal account. I am serious and committed to this path, and by the time I’m 51 I will do for myself what I should have done when I was 25. I doubt it will be any easier now than it would have been then, but I want to at least have tried to make something worthwhile of my life in the time I remain on the planet. I am well aware that this could all fail, and that fact scares me every moment of each day, but unless I try, I will never know. You won’t find me shouting about this from rooftops either, or shoving requests for help down your throat. I’m here just to work hard, do my best and try and produce something I can look back at and be proud of.

I’m not going to use another person’s game, or a genre or fandom to sell myself, just me. I will stand and fall on my own words, until my last breath.

If you wish to join me on the journey? It’s time to get ready to roll.

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Moving On Up

Husband is back to work, but kids don’t go back until Thursday. Therefore the next two days are full of panic, disbelief and anger as both remember that they have work to do and it can’t be avoided any longer, despite us both urging them to get it done before the last minute. It cannot be helped, sadly, this is a family that does enjoy a good bit of procrastination with it’s gaming sideline. One day, maybe, I can get everybody else out of the habit. Today I could have taken the car to the Doctors, but instead I walked there and back. 25 minutes both ways does, whatever else happens, provide nearly an hour of effort today that could have been done in the Gym but instead benefited from being outside.

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It is particularly grim out, for the record. Yesterday was at least bright and sunny, but now it’s all grey and full of elderly people clearly utterly fucked off that kids got bikes for Christmas and are riding on the pavements. There was also a level of shonky driving and distinct lack of car indication that made me think some people could still be drunk from Sunday and that walking was a far more sound method of movement. I will do my best to walk to the Gym whenever possible from now on, but in the mornings it will be preferable to pack a bag and have it in the motor at all times… which reminds me, I could do with replacing the old one. Ah, the joys of Amazon.

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I’m back on deadlines starting tonight, and I’ll be honest and say I needed a week off, it’s given me an opportunity to refresh the ideas bank and get myself re-energised for the year ahead. I’m also willingly doing chores ahead of procrastinating in front of the PC to boot.

I wonder how long I can keep it going.

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.

Fame

It is Sunday afternoon. I’m about to go for a walk before I start ironing, and my eldest comes and finds me. The conversation goes roughly as follows

–  Mum?
–  Yup?
–  
When’s the last time you spoke to Nanny and Grandad?
–  Well, you were over there yesterday so when Dad phoned to come and get you, why?

My son then showed me a page from the Internet, which linked to a news story from Sunday morning, about a death in the quiet, unassuming town that my parents live in. Normally I would not be that concerned, but the picture he showed me?

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My family and I have a love/hate relationship, but the first call next was without thinking and to my brother, who I probably last spoke to about six months ago (he works with my husband so it’s not like I never see him.) He was in the car and off to see what was going on without much need of a prompt, because YOU KNOW, INTERNET. Various calls to both parents on landlines and mobiles were met with silence, and having arrived at the house my brother found they were out. It took thirty minutes to establish both were alive and well, and that they’d gone shopping (and that’s why neither were at home when brother screeched round.) In fact, the way he found out they were okay was passing them on the way back home as they came back from their trip, still blissfully unaware both of us were panicking.

Who’d have parents, eh?

It transpires that it was the man opposite who died, having killed himself after a particularly loud and viscous row. I dropped my daughter off to my mum’s the week before, and seen his girlfriend arrive. Watching her enter the house and remembering the previous residents made me grasp just how much this road has changed since my youth: I lived in that house since I was four, until I left in my early 20’s. Nothing exciting or untoward really ever goes down in the town either, except there was some rioting once, but even that was hardly earth shattering. The thing that freaked me the most about all this was one of my son’s best mates, knowing that he spent time at weekends there, noticed the location and sent him the picture. Effectively, the Internet informed me of the death before my parents caught up.

The internet was alerting me before the Real World got there.

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It is an odd world we live in. A lot of the time I rely on the Twitters to keep me sane, and don’t expect reality to intersect quite so forcefully, but this is a salutatory reminder that, like it or not, everything is news to somebody. I’m not sure I’d ever want to learn about personal tragedy via Social Media but more and more, this is becoming the norm. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was be the person to tell my husband his father had passed away, and that moment still causes discomfort and anxiousness in the recall.

However great you think the Internet is, sometimes it might just be better not to know.

Think

Maybe it isn’t just me that’s the problem.

Perhaps sometimes, other people forget to think. That comment would have just been better not being vocalised. You could have not pressed ‘Send’ but now you have? It’s okay. You said sorry, I’ll move on. Except sometimes it takes a while. It used to be that I held grudges, that was how this worked. I wouldn’t forget the hurtful things, and that made me the bad person, unforgiving. What you fail to grasp here is that I’m the one having to accommodate your failings, and only by doing so do you get to move on. That whole conspiracy about forgiveness being the best quality? Maybe if you thought first, we wouldn’t need this whole dance to begin with.

I know that’s the real truth, now after many years of considering actions borne from thoughtlessness and selfishness. Taking what you want, assuaging your own weaknesses, this is how the spiral begins. I’ll do this, nobody will get hurt. It can be our secret. Anything where there’s not a notion of honesty is where life begins to unravel. If you have to deceive over your sexuality to maintain personal safety. If your professional relationship crossed a line. All these little lies, the moments you could have said no but wanted yes because it stopped the hurt, made you feel better. People are weak. Temptation is strong. It doesn’t matter, because that person’s feelings aren’t the concern, this isn’t about them.

Maybe it isn’t just you that’s the problem.

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More and more I grasp the significance of organised religion in society. Once upon a time, when all you had to worry about was the crops and waking up the next day healthy? I suspect the concept of death was a big deal. Knowing that this was covered for you, that God would be there to escort you to paradise and the crops would be a distant memory? Suddenly there’s a reassurance in the knowledge you can get on with planting and harvesting without a worry. If you thought about coveting your neighbour’s husband? There was a punishment for that too. Religion brought a structure and control to lives that otherwise would undoubtedly be driven as the animals were: procreation, dominance, care at the bottom of the pile. Except that’s not true. Care often comes first. It is the perception of significance that clouds everything else along the way.

On my morning walks last week I’d stroll pass a Kingdom Hall, several Catholic Churches. This town is packed with religion, close to both sea and river. It is a place of immigration and arrival: people travel here, settle from their points of disparate origin. The eastern European supermarket, west African posters for money transfer: fingerprints of global travel smeared across the town, one side to another. The Bangladeshi takeaway that burned on Tuesday morning, filled with fire investigation staff by the afternoon. Cannoli catch my eye in the small Italian diner, almost make me stop before breakfast to buy some to accompany morning tea. There is a cosmopolitan air to my home, yet every person is moved by the same, intractable emotional responses. Without order, we descend into chaos.

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I suspect obsession with the past is in direct correlation to struggles with the present. History is supposed to teach an understanding of why, to assist in the now. Except in a game I play I’ve watched history revised, conveniently re-written to accommodate change in direction. It happens to in the real world, belief that atrocities never took place. Women never had a part in history either: was this due to chroniclers being mostly male?  The church paid monks to rewrite ancient history, not nuns. It transpires the final resting place of one of the most famous Egyptian kings might in truth be the tomb of a more significant woman. Can I use sexuality as a stick to beat anyone when it, like religion, is so ingrained in the consciousness of the planet there is no way for a single voice to be heard above the clamour.

Maybe it is you and me that are the problem.

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History is flexible, supple if you know how to work materials. Except for me, and now, there is only this history, intimate moments that have gone, and I have no desire to retcon myself. Being critical of mistakes I have made myself is what I am. Only when I learn to move past and accept that shortcomings are a part of a history that spans tens of thousands of years can a willing mind truly move forward. Understanding the present and the past provides the best answers of all, perfect combination of disparate worlds.

Maybe, if I just stopped looking for the problems, everything would be fine.

Learning to Breathe :: First Steps

Today, I ran 700 meters at the Gym before both body and lungs gave up. I could try and build up the story, that I have been ‘prepping’ myself for over a week (more on that tomorrow) but the fact remained I was doing fine for the first five minutes before I decided that if I didn’t stop, I’d pass out. I could have slowed down, but then became incapable of co-ordinating hands to make the buttons work on the Treadmill. So, I panicked and stopped.

On reflection, a kilometre in 7 minutes 20 seconds would have totally completable.

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The biggest issue I have going forward is convincing myself this is doable. As a result tomorrow I’m going to do the whole ‘walk to and from School’ thing to put some miles in my legs and confidence that when I do co-ordinate everything, it will work. Then, on Wednesday, the five lots of three hundred meters I did last week will morph into three lots of five hundred meters so that when I get to next week’s PT session, I can ace the 1000 without fear. It is all about breaking these barriers down into small, manageable goals and then crushing them. I know I can do this, and I will. I probably could have made the first marker this morning were I more prepared. That problem won’t happen again.

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So many of my issues go back to internal panic and the fear of not being good enough. I don’t need reassurance, but encouragement is really important right now. It doesn’t need to be massive, or overly demonstrative. I think what I want is to just feel comfortable and confident, and when both of those operate together pretty much anything is possible. I’ve stopped weighing myself as often as I do, because I now understand that my weight doesn’t actually matter one iota… what I require now is strength, not distraction. I understand exactly what to eat each day, how much I have to move. That’s why I took the unprecedented step of buying snacks specifically to eat on my walk tomorrow, and will prepare myself properly before I do this. Suddenly, it matters than just going to the gym a few times a week and trying to be better.

Somewhere between last year and now this became more than just a plan to be healthier.

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The most positive upshot of all of this is simple. I am happier. Quite apart from all the good endorphins being generated, I’m less prone to mood swings and depression. Some of that (undoubtedly) will be related to my hormonal changes but I can’t attribute everything in that direction. There’s also internal relaxation that has grown from the knowledge I’m the arbiter of my own destiny for the first time in a while. Online spats that would previously have bothered me no longer are a concern. I’m able to walk away and not hang onto the bad. There’s not, as yet, a bad thing to say in all of this except the fact I’m more tired at the end of the day than I can ever remember in the past, but part of me thinks that’s probably doing it right to begin with.

After all, there has to be a downside somewhere.

The Test

I’m behind today, but not so far that this will cause issue. I should be doing stuff in a different order too, but for now I’m playing fast and loose with responsibility, because I can and it’s a lovely position to be in. Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about realistic expectations, because I’m terrible at them and keep giving myself more work to do when what I should be doing is concentrating on getting my own shit done first.

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Guilt is a powerful motivator. However there comes a point where you grasp that effort is never going to realistically match up to reward. When this happens, that’s normally the moment to be tough with yourself: what is worth more? Are you here to impress other people with your l33t skillz or is it more about a sense of satisfaction with the stuff you produce? I find myself now realising that the temptation is to just keep chucking myself into project after project because it seems like the right thing to do, when actually what would be more sensible is to step back for a bit and do nothing. One of my biggest issues in the past couple of years was the grief I got when I committed to a project that was never completed (and remains so, as it happens) because it ended up being far more than I could personally cope with. Now I am beginning to grasp the significance of committing myself to endeavours that simply cannot be done alongside everything else.

In fact, I’m sitting here now, looking at the time leading up to Christmas, and realising that if I want to move forward, stuff is already going to have to be sacrificed.

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Once upon a time I think this would have been a lot harder for me because I don’t know sometimes how to say no to other people, or indeed myself. However the benefit of age and experience is definitely beginning to tell. This time around, I will head myself off at the pass. The people I need to speak to I think will understand my reasoning better, mostly because I will make sure I explain it to them sufficiently and clearly. The only way I break out of my own prison of failure is to address the mistakes that are made, time and again, and put each one to rest. This one is a biggie: I need to stop creating unrealistic expectation for myself.

What matters most, right now, is a correct sense of proportion.