New Life

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I’m sitting here having breakfast, after seeing Mr Alt off on the inaugural Velo Birmingham. This is just another race to my husband, but for me it has become a powerful metaphor, and only this morning have I fully grasped the significance.

When Dave was diagnosed with Type Two Diabetes, it was a wake up call for him, instant incentive to get fitter and work harder to deal with a problem that was, to an extent, of his own creation. His father was diabetic, so historically the deck was already stacked, but I think we both know had he had made an effort to be healthier before, this diagnosis may not have happened at all. Now it has, it isn’t somebody else’s problem to deal with, it is ours. That doesn’t just mean him either: I have a duty of care as his wife. That’s why I’m here today, as support, and why I’m doing more to help as time goes on.

When that diagnosis was made, we could both have done nothing. He might have ignored the advice, still be overweight and not tried to be fitter. We could have blanked the problem and carried on as if nothing had changed, which would have been both ignorant and potentially dangerous. Instead, we are proactive and positive, sometimes when that’s hard to do. The key is acceptance: what is both possible and doable, what is worth focusing on. Wasting time on the pointless when it is out of our hands is counter productive, so we learn to both focus on the achievable and let go of shit beyond the remit.

Except sometimes, things are not as out of your hands as first appears.

Someone tweeted this into my timeline this morning, and it struck a chord, because as a piece of writing it can both be read and interpreted in so many different ways, and there is no real method in 140 characters to accurately interpret them all. This tweet was, I suppose, the final straw: after a weekend of self-reflection, and realising that I never want to try and discuss anything complicated on Twitter ever again, this message distilled what is the real problem: US. No, not the United States (though some may consider they started all this) but me, and Mr Alt, and everybody else who thinks that improving the World isn’t their task.

The World is our problem to solve and not to complain about because we can no longer have ‘fun’ any more.

Life, like it or not, has always been difficult and hard and ultimately painful. Thinking that somehow if you just ignore everything else that is going on and hoping/expecting/dictating that someone else will fix it is the Elephant in the room no-one can now afford to ignore. Sure we can all still have fun and enjoy life but not at the expense of other issues. More importantly, believing that your own opinion has merit and has to be justified, internally and externally, with every breath is simply not the case. Yes, it is tough and hard, but if you’re using Social media to pretend you’re part of the conversation, you cannot dictate what is said or expect to be allowed to pronounce without consequence.

Conversation is fluid and malleable: arguments should be passionate but never at the expense of learning a contrary point of view. If your standpoint is so inflexible as to exclude everybody else, expect to meet resistance. If you will not look outwards and grasp the possibility you are wrong, you will make things worse. In many cases, what one person thinks is kindness ultimately ends up as the most vicious of cruelties, and spite is all that results. Then is the moment when you’re convinced you know someone else’s motivations, and ultimately end up with the entirely wrong end of the stick… the problem isn’t the people, however.

Twitter has never been the medium in which to fight these battles.

Part of me hopes that 2017 will be the year that blogging undergoes a renaissance, that the long form of debate will replace petty name calling and mudslinging now favoured by the President of the United States. Needless to say, his ‘actions’ in the week have simply heaped more shame on an office that used to stand for all that was good about America, and has now come to symbolize the worst of individual xenophobia and arrogance. Ultimately, those of us who regularly use Twitter are now going to be tarred by the same brush, like it or not. That means it is time to start a reassessment of what the platform is good for, and what is ultimately detrimental.

After a really bad week of social media drama, I’d already taken the decision to not go to bed with an electronic device any more (starting on Monday) and if I want to read, to start buying books again for that purpose. The idea of taking written social media (Facebook, Twitter) off my phone is certainly attractive, and instead to only use Instagram for ‘reporting’ as that will automatically post to both platforms without the need for me to read. That’s the key here: getting sucked into other people’s arguments, when I should be out either a) enjoying myself right b) doing something constructive. That means social media is only for my ‘job’ or when I am working at my desk.

The other major change to my lifestyle, starting this morning, is what I pick to react to. If I’m going to choose a hill to die on then from now on Twitter is not the place to do it. If that means I lose people’s interest by refusing to take part in debates, then so be it, but if I have learnt anything from the last week it is that people will only hear what they want if they consider you’re attacking them. There is neither space, convenience or ability to have a clear discussion on Twitter. It is a place to profess clear, well thought out opinions or engage in quick, visually-enhanced point scoring. For everything else it is a fucking disaster, and yet people like me forget this, time and again. Well, not any more.

It is time to rediscover the value of silence. If you’d like to have a discussion with me, that’s what the comments section of this blog is for, and I’m looking forward to your responses. As of right now it is time to practice what I preach, and be the change other people keep hoping is going to happen. If you don’t like my idea of change, you have every right to step up and disagree.

Welcome to the next generation of Social media.

This Woman’s Work

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Last weekend, I watched the last episode of the current season of Dr Who. I didn’t mean to, it just happened, and even though the whole season’s only been absorbed via synopsis, I stayed to the end and was rather glad that happened. The last 45 seconds was so far out of left field as to be a genuine surprise: I won’t spoil it as this is still relatively recent, but fans have a very interesting situation at play, knowing at the end of the Christmas Special we’ll see another regeneration. However, I’m sticking to the assertion that unless the show’s creators break the mould so firmly it is indistinguishable from what has come before, my time with the franchise remains pretty much done.

Then on Wednesday, I read this in the Guardian:

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Okay then, so is this really a possibility? Phoebe has been in a number of critically acclaimed drama series but is hardly a household name. That gives her solid credentials off the bat (in fact I am reminded of David Tennant coming from Casanova to the TARDIS) and now I’ve done some research, yes she’d be absolutely perfect. Reminded that Mr Capaldi used the f-word as Malcolm Tucker more than a few times, Ms Waller-Bridge using the c-word in Fleabag seems almost acceptable as part of the entrance exam. The problem, of course, is that BBC3 hit comedy is going to be filming a second season in November this year which might put her off the radar in terms of availability… but hang on, why am I even considering that this woman could be the Doctor?

At some point, one of these so very British, male-dominated bastions has to be stormed.

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If you’ve paid any modicum of attention to my writing journey, you’ll know I’ve had a go at redefining the 00 Section in my own way. That sea change is probably even further off long term than Who is, lets be honest, but the fact that actors of colour and race are considered and summarily dismissed shows that hey, at least in that regard I’m not alone in wanting change. The problem, undoubtedly, is the notion of canon and traditionalism: Who and Bond remain very much a product of the ages they were created in. That age, for many people, is not to be disturbed or altered in any way, shape or form. For 007, the notion of insouciant masculinity as attractive clearly still rings true, but sadly the form that now takes is becoming less and less palatable. Only when that is deemed unacceptable by mainstream media, then perhaps the wind will change. Don’t hold you hopes out, though.

With a rapidly ageing population, many of whom are resistant to change (and if the Brexit vote is any indicator very much against anyone trying to make them European) the suggestion that you could have a Bond who didn’t sleep with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary and maybe cared more about teamwork than working alone is going to be met with very short shrift. In fact, when I hear many men talking about a female Bond it is in the context of simply changing this misogynist man into a sociopathic woman. That’s not actually an improvement, fellas, it simply gives you a whole new wank fantasy.Ā  Real, developmental change involves you thinking outside of the bedroom, or outside the TARDIS, depending on your point of view.

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Dr Who used to be a fairly asexual affair until the Moffat bloke got involved. Now sexuality is an issue, that makes the woman/man lead role shift even more awkward for the Who people. Except, watching the last episode of Capaldi’s Doctor, and the two Masters effectively flirting with themselves? There was so much potential subtext to be read into that episode: countless references to how women and men do things differently, that sexuality is largely irrelevant in just about anything once you gain the ability to look past the people involved. Honestly, of the two bastions of Britishness, Who seems the one more likely to crack first.

Now I have to hope it will come sooner than later.

You’re Not Alone

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This is the worst things have been since surgery. It isn’t the pain, or the stuff going on with my body (of which there is a lot, it must be said) but my simple inability to cope with the way life has irreversibly changed. It doesn’t help that my inner ears are still not 100% functioning as they should, that I can’t sleep in more than four hour blocks, or that I’m tired in a way that has never been experienced before. All these are surmountable with the support I have. What isn’t happening is recovery at the speed I’d hoped. However, with that said, I feel confident I can walk to and from the Gym tomorrow. That’s the next step in rehabilitation.

This is a day I just have to push through.

I didn’t wake up on Tuesday and suddenly feel better. This surgery has not instantly lifted a weight from my mind either. I’m still afraid of what I eat, but for different reasons. A previously healthy body is in a fair amount of turmoil that I didn’t want and now have to deal with. Mostly I am as miserable as fuck with tons of pain where none existed before, and that’s the most depressing part of everything. Fortunately, I remember this happening before, and the consequences of those three months on the whole of my life, and I will NOT allow the hovering dark cloud to consume me. I’ve come too far for that. It won’t happen. I am stronger than that, and this will pass.

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The most important task today is to get my sleep pattern back to something approximating normal. If it means pushing through, then I will. I am putting a lot of effort into focussing on tasks and not allowing mind to wander.

Today will not beat me.

The End

I’d like to announce to the room that as of today, I’ve formally resigned as @MMOGames’ Warcraft Blogger.

I’d like to thank all of the staff that I came into contact with during my time at the Magazine, which is coming up for two years. During that period I think I matured considerably as a writer, and I learnt more about editing work than I ever grasped at any point previously. With the intention of launching my own Patreon in the Summer, this seemed like exactly the right moment to depart.

I’d like to wish everyone Good Luck as the site enters the next chapter of its existence with new German ownership, and may your /roll always be 100.

Thank you, and Goodbye.

Panic

For the second time in the space of seven calender days, I’ve had a panic attack. In fairness, I could see this one coming from a while away, once it became clear public transport was going to stymie my efforts to be in the right place at the right time. The biggest problem right now in my mind is notional control: when it blows out of my hands, brain simply fails to cope. In fairness I grasp this as well. It is not a surprise I ended up gasping for breath on a cold station platform, panicking as I couldn’t answer the phone and disconnect headphones simultaneously. These are the things Normal People do without thinking. I can also do this.

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I can cope, there just needs to be some thought as to why this is happening, and that’s hardly difficult to rationalise. I’ve made major changes to my life. I’m redefining who I am, and that process is going well in some places and not in others, and it is that which is attempting to derail me. I’m not afraid of change, or failure, but this time I can see a path to success, and that means not allowing my brain to stymie the development. Most importantly, I shouldn’t be trying to self-diagnose. I’m going to leave that to somebody else to do, and simply get on with the business in hand. There’s too much that needs to be sorted in the next few weeks for the wheels to come off now.

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Tomorrow would normally be a PT session, but instead I have a week of working and motivating myself while my lovely trainer takes a holiday. I’d like to try and lose another kilo by my weigh in next week, which should be eminently doable. It also means I’ll do Monday, Wednesday and Friday night after school, to leave days free to begin the Spring Clean that this house so desperately needs. I have a trip to the supermarket planned for the morning to grab the replacement bits I need, and then I’m off, throwing stuff away and cleaning anything that’s dusty. I’ve kept up with my #MinsGame too, so will require 13 things tomorrow and to do that will require a quite significant amount of thought.

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I can do this. I really can. I was never really a fan of affirmation until recently but the statement ‘I am good enough to get through this’ has never been more true or heartfelt right now. I can write well, and will, for another week and once we get to the 19th there is going to have been so much progress forward I will manage a Sunday without either stress or drama. Now, however, I’m going to have a lovely steak and Stilton pie as my last treat before I throw myself into ‘good’ eating for the rest of the month. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really looking forward to an Easter Egg come April.

I think I will have utterly deserved it.

Big Time

Welcome to the first day of a new world. I’ve been promising myself that at some point I’ll stop fucking about, simply pretending to do this writing lark. Inspired by various friends who are making significant life changes and forging new careers for themselves later in life, I knew this was the moment. I think we’re in a position to make somethingĀ stick.

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I’m never going to be a streamer. You and I both know I do my best work when not stuck up the front, afterĀ consideration and planning is allowed. Therefore, I’m pushing the personal agenda to the foreĀ for the first time in eight years. There’ll still be Warcraft posts, but I feel that maybe if I stop lying to you that’s what I’m really here for then it will be easier to cope with life myself. That means this place and my writing is getting sold more, and I’ll be pushing my remit further afield. You’ll see absolutely no changes on the Twitter feed however, that remains exactly as is. It’s simply a redefinition, albeit subtly, of the rest of the stuff behind it.

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That means, going forward, I’ll be rearranging a lot of the back end, shifting project priorities and generally having a tidy up. This place, however, is now the key focus. I’m still writing a weekly Warcraft column and my stuff for the Community Mag but there will be days now when there’s nothing on Twitter from that Blog except a link to a previous post.Ā The biggest trick in making time to write is prioritising what matters, after all. It also means I’ll be considering what is placed here with a bit more care in the months that follow, and to that end there’s already a boatload of planning to my right to support the change. However, for those of you who think this might mean there’ll be skimping on the fiction front, I’m here to reassure you that’s most definitely not the case.

The novel remains a major project and one of the reasons all this stuff’s being moved is to give me more time, not less. I’ve got my version of the book cover’s main graphic ‘in production’ right now and as soon as my commissioning artist is done I’ll be launching a section dedicated to it on my writing site as I go through the process of completion, editing and then attempting to find a publisher. That’s one of the goals from last year I’ve not hit, and until I do, we’re pushing forward with all speed. There will also be other projects: I’ve got a number of things sitting on the sidelines, I just need to organise myself away sufficiently to get them all moving, plus completion on the stuff that’s already started.

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There you have it. Most people who are only here for the Warcraft jazz won’t take a blind bit of notice of this, and that’s just fine. If you want to support me in my venture? There will be ways and means going forward, but not just yet.Ā For now, we’ll do this for a while and get everything established, and once that’s done?

Anything is possible if I can do the work.

New Life

You can, for a while, quite happily pretend that even as the World collapses around you, everything is fine. I watch people do this every day. The speed at which we adapt to change is, after all, as unique as eye colour and shoe size. However, I will admit that I’ve been loathed to accept that my body is changing: not in a bad way, anything but. This morning, even though I feel pretty shitty (sinus infection can nick off) I found myself accepting that what used to pass for tight jeans are no longer so. In fact, the more I look at it, everything is smaller. Not just waist, but arse and legs no longer fill out the bits of trousers they did. The top I’m wearing now stretches around my upper arms. Somewhere between Christmas and here, real change is happening.

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This process has taken 16 years, people. It has experienced myriad false starts. I’ve been lighter than this, sure, but I’ve never been this fit or indeed healthy, because before a sinus issue like this would have completely buggered my ability to function. Yesterday, however, I fought it. Even when I was out of breath and suffering on a treadmill I didn’t stop. I pushed to do extra stuff I wouldn’t normally have even tried. There was no consideration of ‘oh, not well, better stop’Ā because I grasp how important exercise has become in keeping me fit, both mentally and physically. I’ll grant you I’m having trouble thinking straight right now, but that’s more fatigue and getting a washing machine fitted last night.

Most significantly of all, the fat that had sat around my waist for what seems like forever is undoubtedly diminishing.

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I really miss cake.Ā I realise I’ll never get used to certain teas without honey. I can hear my sweet tooth in my head, trying so very hardĀ to derail my effort, and I will admit I sneaked a Graze Honeycomb Flapjack or two into the evenings this week simply because I was desperate, but as I’m still at least 90% virtuous on most occasions, it isn’t pushing back my cause. I’ve also lost weight again this week according to my scales, which interestingly have recorded my lowest BMI since I started this whole things seriously in May. I’m now genuinely curious as to what the ‘official’ scales will register on Monday. Last weekend’s normal Takeaway even got supplanted by a healthier alternative, and I’m now beginning to think I might have changed for the better.

These are exciting times ahead.