3am Eternal

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I could be lying here and scheduling this post, but sadly I’m not. It’s 3am and I’m awake. My Fitbit almost gleefully informed me that I’ve had 3 hours and 48 minutes of sleep, before my son helpfully texted me to say he was awake and not to get grumpy if he couldn’t get up in the morning. My daughter appears to be sleeping okay, but if I go to check I’m just as likely to wake her up and honestly, what am I doing? The cherry on the cake was, coming downstairs to check my son hadn’t been lying and playing games, I found the front door wide open, because my husband had been to the garage late before bed and not shut it properly.

This is a throwback I really didn’t either want or need.

Suddenly I’m back with both kids under five, and the inevitable chaos that would accompany one being unwell. Sometimes I thought the other would react in sympathy, and it certainly appears that there’s a bit of this in play at present. It doesn’t help that my son had his second GCSE yesterday, and stress levels appear decidedly higher than normal, or that my daughter has her first formal set of exams coming up at Secondary School. I know how badly this brain reacts under pressure, and I can’t say I blame either of them. It’s a tough call at this point being a parent, because remembering that my parents pretty much just left me to cope at that age is rather sobering. I still crave reassurance even now, as a result of that time. I just have to try and be the best mother I can be.

However, when everyone else can sleep but you can’t? That’s a tough ask.

Normally I’d have gone to Azeroth as a first port of call but the game is in maintenance, so there’s no chance of reliving that part of my life in absentia. I’d also have gone to Zero 7 as music for working but right now, I’m listening to Mia by Paul Oakenfold and I think that this is probably keeping me more awake than is healthy. This isn’t the same as it was before: I have changed, thinks are better in terms of sleeping and finding sanity in the midst of having to cope as a primary carer. The fact both kids come back to me when they’re sick is, I suppose, compliment to the skills I have keeping them safe.

If all else fails, I have now at least saved myself some work in the morning.

The Politics of Dancing

There’s a temptation to just spill the beans completely on my future plans, as I’m totally useless at suspense or keeping secrets, but because I understand that people get interest by drip-feeding information, it is time to say just this. The URL  internetofwords.com now points at my writing site. It’s a play on words (unsurprisingly) from the Internet of Things:

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I decided that, if I’m going to explore all aspects of how language online works, why communication has transformed our lives via social media plus all points in between, then the Internet of Words would be a great umbrella title for all of these ideas and more, including my own writing on the subject. That means my noun needs a definition:

‘The interconnection via the Internet of thoughts, ideas and writing styles embedded in social media, blogs, mobile apps and web pages, enabling new forms of communication.’

I realise this is going to get a bit cerebral for some people, but the plan in the first instance is to stick with simplicity and to explore what already exists on ‘paper’ and ‘online’ as a starting point. It also means I can include my own writing work legitimately as part of the project, as I’ll be using the Internet as marketing and advertising combined. It seems really rather lofty at Ground Zero, but I really hope I can make it both engaging and interesting at the same time. Only time will tell, I suppose, but I am insanely excited at the possibilities thus far.

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It also allows me to offer merchandise as tier rewards, but to do that I’m going to need a logo. The irony last night of me announcing this need was being followed by a number of Twitter bots offering design services, which is how life works around this parish. I think I’d like to do something myself with type and a simple graphic element, and I’ll be taking the weekend to looking for suitable fonts, that will also translate onto the webspace. I don’t want to spend money on things I can do myself if possible either, because I’m quite a frugal soul when it comes down to it. Mostly, the look of my project does matter a great deal, but not nearly as much as the content :D

There’s a lot to think about, but this I feel is a solid start.

Don’t Sweat the Technique

I have a very bad short-term memory. It’s always been that way, for as long as I can remember (badum-tish) and what this leads to is a fair amount of repetition in daily life. I’m also a great sufferer of inertia, that my brain can get caught in cycles of ‘I’ll do that in a minute’ and it never happens. It is why, more and more, I am pushing out of those established comfort zones into places where I’m forced to react more and function less. I’ve also come to the important conclusion in the last few weeks that, like it or not, a lot of this stuff has to happen alone, without either reassurance or praise. In fact, as I discovered yesterday, sometimes most of what happens is for my own benefit and nobody else’s.

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My husband is not a regular reader of my posts online. Many of the people I call friends don’t read them either, finding me too prolific to keep up with. I also had to chuckle this morning as it transpires someone whom I enjoy interacting with a lot thought they’d muted me yesterday when instead they’d unfollowed. This was one of those moments where me asking the question out loud bought up the mistake and this morning, all is well. However, as I am well aware why this happened, it gives pause for thought about what makes a solid online relationship work to begin with, and undoubtedly that has a lot to do with give and take. I learnt an important lesson about this person yesterday, completely by accident, and I’m very glad I did. My feed would be less than it is without Simon in it, but the fact I prompted him to mute is a lesson learnt.

Sometimes, you have to stand alone for the things you believe in.

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I said a lot of stuff yesterday that caused certain people issue, who then left my feed as a result. However, I’m still convinced what I said was fair, and I wouldn’t go back on anything that transpired. I wrote a post for my paid job yesterday on how my favourite MMO isn’t a place to go hide in when things get tough. If you want to do anything properly, in my head, there has to be a notion of effort inserted, and that can often come into direct conflict with other players notion of what is acceptable application and what isn’t. The next two years for the UK and anyone who never asked to exit the EU will be, at certain points pretty difficult to live with but I’m sure as Hell not about to bury my head in the sand or in a game in order to pretend difficult things are happening. For some however, that’s the least of their issues, and although I’m prepared to accommodate all such opinion, that isn’t the place where I live.

Then comes the notion of whether making a noise is worthwhile.

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What bothered me most yesterday, and this doesn’t go away, is how entitlement has become a badge of honour for some when once it was selflessness and application that mattered more. The needs of the one constantly outweigh the many, and more and more people would rather play alone than participate in group activity because, they say, of the toxic nature of the random gaming player. However, playing alone is, especially in group-based content, the very definition of toxic behaviour. Most simply wish to avoid ‘drama’ online but honestly, it is often only through conflict that we discover the true meaning of peace. I really don’t use social media to start fights but honestly, sometimes, the arrogance and narrow mindedness of some people is staggering. It is as if, in effect, they are the only person that matters, and that’s just so wrong on so many levels that it beggars belief.

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I’ve seen a number of personalities of late tweet out messages from fans which ask them to stop talking politics and just go back to being mindless distractions from daily life, and a reassuring number reply that actually, that’s not going to happen. Before the world went to shit and all we had to argue about were cat memes, it was okay to not worry about all this stuff ‘in public’ but now, everything has changed. Those public figures who show me they can think outside of their basic needs are undoubtedly heroes. This is the mindset I feel everyone should aspire to, but then comes the reality check. No, I can’t fix everything and NO you can’t make some people understand, however hard you try. If everybody thought the same, life would not be as rich and varied as it undoubtedly is. Sure, I can teach my kids the value of dedication and application but it matters just as more understanding how to do nothing and to goof off.

Balance is where its at, and maybe yesterday I worried a bit too much about being ‘right’, which in its own way makes me as bad as the people I often belittle. In the end, even when Life the MMO requires you to interact, you do have to learn the value of solo play. Early morning, late night, on a treadmill or at a keyboard, I must be able to be a decent self-arbiter. These are the moments where what matters most is not to be right but open, to other people’s reactions and how that makes you feel, to decide what matters most without blindly sticking to your path. Nobody said this would be easy, either, but the analysis is well worth potential discomfort. Learning to be comfortable alone is one of the hardest things I’ve ever learnt, with being confident in my own judgement a pretty close second.

Both things however have been well worth the effort expended.

Making Your Mind Up

Even though I lost an hour this morning, it’s a beautiful day.

I’ve spent some time pouring over Co-Promote, which is turning into an extremely useful component of the experiment for the Writing Site. I have posts worked out for the next few weeks on the Warcraft Site, and there’s NEW CONTENT due on Wednesday. The only problem I foresee in the next week is when I get on the scales tomorrow for PT and it is apparent I’ve been eating far more than I should have been, because it’s taking a while to adjust noshing patterns to the increase in exercise frequency. Everything else is looking great, and there’s now no excuse to put off a lot of stuff I’ve been avoiding. In fact, I’m looking forward to getting things thrown out and cleared away.

Life, as it stands, is going remarkably well.

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What has now made the difference, undoubtedly, is the Mindfulness course I’m on, which is about to end its first week. It has done nothing more than opened a door in my head that before I did not even realised existed. That has in turn given me entry to a place where my normal life has gained an extra depth and space: nothing dramatic has changed, but my perception has undoubtedly shifted. I’ll write about this more in detail in the week, but suffice it to say there’s a new brightness to every moment that is only now beginning to register. I’m beyond grateful for the lovely lady who suggested I go take this course to begin with. I may never adequately find the means to thank her for simply doing the job she’s paid to do.

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Normally on a Sunday I’d be lost at a PC and gaming, but today (once the blogging is done) I fully intend to put my mind to the first big task I set myself to finish this time last week, and once that is finally done I can move forward and start attacking the front of the house with hoover and dusters. Spring Cleaning will take a couple of weeks at my current rate of attrition, but this year it will be done. I’ve half assed my way through it over the last few years but really, there’s just so much crap now accumulated, and a ton of it is never used any more by either child or us. As a result, it doesn’t need to be here any more, and I can make space in a house that’s already bursting at the seams. That’s the other debt of gratitude I have to acknowledge: I’ve been keeping track of my Minimalism Game goals since the 1st of March, and I’ll have thrown out a ton of stuff come Friday and completed the goal.

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Sometimes I know it can feel as if people blog stuff that’s not real, that it is all just smoke and mirrors to get others to read their work. I couldn’t get away with ever being like that because I know now I’d be lying, and that helps nobody in the end. This month, I suspect, will be looked back as a watershed going forward, that this was the moment when I stopped pretending to be doing all this stuff seriously and moved forward.

The future is making me vibrate with excitement, and that’s never a bad thing.

Confusion the Waitress

Monday, it must be said, seems a very long way away.

It didn’t help this week that I’ve not had a regular PT session, that my son spent Monday and Tuesday at home, that I spoke to a Therapist on Wednesday and yesterday went outside for longer on my own than I have been for a while. This morning, therefore, I inserted 45 minutes of ashtanga yoga into my day and frankly, the benefits make me wish I’d done this again sooner. The biggest problem I’m having right now, without a doubt, is making sure what I want to do actually gets accomplished. My brain would rather stop thinking, especially with some of the frightening stories I’m reading from across the Globe. I have to remember that there’s only one thing I can control, and that’s myself, so above all else that needs to work ahead of anything.

I am now considering Mindfulness as a way forward in my personal development.

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There is an online course which costs a paltry £30 to access, and I can’t honestly see why I shouldn’t be doing it, especially as my therapist suggested I’m probably going to get at least some kind of benefit from just listening through to the concepts once. Having a willing and open mind can often be a hindrance, because everything gets taken in, good and bad, and then it is up to me to filter and find a level for it all. These are techniques that have fascinated a curious mind for years anyway: rooted in Buddhism, the desire to eliminate noise and to learn to focus on things that really matter whilst elimination the stuff that doesn’t. With a world that is full of stuff I cannot influence, there needs to be a means by which I separate the possible from the damaging.

This, to be honest, seems a great way forward.

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I’m tired of accepting there’s no better way. This is an alternative that I’m prepared to grasp, and willing to learn. If it helps me sleep better and feel more confident, it will have been worth the effort alone, and for the price of a meal out? It’s hardly going to impact on my finances. I’ll take the first part on Monday before my PT, and we’ll see where we are from there. I’ll keep you updated on how things go, but I’m already cautiously optimistic that this could be a significant breakthrough, and if it is I will be falling over myself to share. What I really need right now is a continued and clear path forward, but without anybody else’s agenda to worry about but my own.

I think, on consideration, I have absolutely nothing to lose.

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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Funny Girl

As another actor of a certain age passes away, I have pause for thought. British comedy, since at least the 1950’s, has been a product of the era it represented. That means Hancock in the 50’s, That was the Week that Was in the 60’s and Python in the 70’s. Fawlty Towers, which played between ’76 and ’79, was even more a product of that time period, because it combined the anarchy of the Flying Circus with a comedy trope that had been established with programmes such as Love Thy Neighbour.

This was how the English dealt with people who weren’t English.

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You could argue it was a colonial hangover, that portraying people not born and bred here was always going to have this element of distrust and sometimes abuse. It would take quite some time before it wasn’t about making fun of people because of where they came from was considered acceptable… except, hang on, no. That’s still happening. TV shows might no longer use race, sex and place of birth as means to make fun of other people, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping politicians. I’d post that clip of the Orange Man mocking disability as an example but fuck that for a game of soldiers.

Sometimes, you don’t focus on what is funny and instead look for a bigger meaning.

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Language can be funny, yet the best bits of Fawlty Towers were physical, to the point where you could argue a clip round the ear solves nothing. However, there were clever pieces of interplay, using Spanish and misunderstanding thereof as humour. Nobody will ever fault that Andrew Sachs was a superb actor, and I’m not here to say anything else about that. Bernard Manning was a comedian, but now is often considered a liability. Rolf Harris was an entertainer, but won’t now ever be remembered as that. All of this is seen with hindsight, and that colours certain sections of history with a far less flattering light.

What worries me more is that people have short memories, and forget how shit it is to treat ANYONE badly. I don’t want to go back to the 1940’s, the 60’s or the 70’s please. In fact, the further we pull ourselves away from the Dark Ages, the better it will be for EVERYBODY. So, remember this. At the time it was funny and, for many people who like to indulge in a level of nostalgia as a means to deal with current issues, it still is. That doesn’t make it free of criticism, and it certainly shouldn’t be used as an example of how comedy is universal.

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This country looks inward more than it really should, and still has an awful lot to learn about foreign relations.