Orange Crush

It’s been a year since America got a new President.

Quite apart from the growing industry in cottage politics, this guy has been surprisingly good at some things. Most of these seem to involve Social media, inappropriate use of the English language and flat out lying under the assumption that it doesn’t matter whether he’s right or not. Some people will just believe him regardless.

This man is capable of motivating hundreds of thousands of people to march against him, which after a year is a cause for great concern: it means that nothing at all has improved and therefore that the Country is in a fucking terrible state. There is, after all, no working Government right now. This makes the UK look almost competent, which should be stated is nothing to be proud of.

After a year, shit is beginning to fracture a bit. I’m not sure why Chelsea Manning went to the Deplorables New York Orange Twat 1 Year Anniversary Dance, but understand why some of the signs at the Women’s March might have upset. In the end, all these extremes are eventually integrated into mainstream culture, whether they like it or not. The real measure of change is how I feel about it, and you. Everything you read and listen to has been carefully selected by other people as examples of what they think matters: news organisations, friends, social media (though that is finally changing) and what is now apparent is how that process has destroyed large sections of society. It isn’t just fake news, it is rank stupidity that’s an issue, perpetrated by individuals as a means to attract attention.

I suspect those who began all this will gleefully tell their children ‘yeah, I convinced people to eat washing soap’ but I should point out that this kind of snake oil peddling has gone on for hundreds, nay thousands of years. Those branches of humanity who died as a result of ingesting all that shit that should never have been eaten didn’t have a worldwide stage on which to wank, I’ll grant you… but it doesn’t matter. History will only remember you should it be proven a thousand years hence you caused the ultimate destruction of Western Society and I really think the Orange Twat’s a long way ahead of you there.

However, if you want to be that dumb, who am I to stop you?

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The most amazing thing after 365 days is that, amazingly, America has not yet imploded. In fact, many parts of it are stronger and more cohesive than was ever the case a year ago. Yes, we can all agree this guy is not doing a great job, and the Approval ratings bear this out. The bigger issue, however, is that as yet I see NOBODY on the horizon as any kind of viable replacement. All I see are idiots putting soap on pizza and getting away with decades of sexual assault and willfully destroying the planet by all flying to the middle of fucking nowhere to discuss money.

There’s still an awful lot in this picture that needs to change for the better.

On a Rope

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This, my friends, is depression.

This is crying in the Gym changing room after exercise that should make me feel stronger yet there are no endorphins spare today. This is hugging knees so tightly to my chest I think they’ll snap. This is knowing that happiness is for other people and not for me not because it is not deserved, but because it simply cannot be found. This is being objective enough to know I’m in trouble but subjective to the point of wanting to scream at everything to JUST GO AWAY. This is playing a game that used to be a means to help me feel something and instead there being nothing there at all.

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The rational part of my brain knows how much worse this could be, and is a lifejacket keeping me afloat. I think of friends who are in pain, fighting through cancer treatment, brain tumours, unemployment and personal trauma and I have absolutely nothing bad or wrong in life. Depression does not care about how good things are. All it wants is your soul, dragged down out of reach, so it can destroy weeks of confidence and progress. It is a measure of how good I’ve become that forcing brain into expressing the problem has made writing about it possible and explaining it to my husband far less of a horror story than on previous occasions. This is progress.

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I’ve been here since Monday. Work has suffered. I’ve managed to put the brakes on losing momentum, but am going to have to shelve the plans I had for today’s Haiku picture because there is simply not enough confidence to use myself as a model. Instead, I’ll show you what depression looks like when you’re lying to yourself. It’s a deception that is required to get out of the bottom of the hole so that the way back up doesn’t kill you.

This is why I don’t want to talk about stuff, but forced myself to do so to two total strangers yesterday. That’s distinct progress. I’m sorry if I’ve missed your stuff, but there are mutes on right now for very good reason. Sometimes, you can’t cope with other people in the same hole with you. I’m really sorry.

I’m trying to get out.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place

Life is a constantly evolving learning process. This fact is lost on so many people that it staggers me: no two days will be the same. Of course, the biggest single problem for most people is being able to see life with enough objectivity to understand what is going on around them to begin with. In my 20’s, the undoubted problem was a basic inability to escape from that understanding. In my 30’s only the introduction of another life allowed that process to begin. It was my 40’s that truly broke the fourth wall of insularity, taking a good decade to put pieces of my disparate puzzle together. Depression and anxiety crippled me for a long time until I was able to identify the triggers that began those downward spirals.

I’m never going to be cured but I’ve become supremely good at crisis management.

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When your life is dictated by everything at once and you’re unable to filter the chaos from meaningful, there comes a point where the only thing left is complete withdrawal. Yesterday, I’ll happily admit that the Internet became too much to even read, let alone participate in and so the standard disassociation tactic was employed: headphones on, music as distraction, be somewhere else. As I worked to clear out stuff from the front room, something interesting happened. Answers to questions appeared without prompting. The issues I had were resolved far faster than I ever remember previously, but more importantly the residual guilt I normally feel wasn’t present. It is okay to be myself. That feeling hasn’t gone away, whereas on previous occasions in stressful situations my self doubt has always returned. Somewhere between Christmas and now, something fundamental truly has changed.

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It’s also meant that I’ve stopped obsessing about weight, in fact I don’t remember the last time that I’d got hooked up on loss. I’ve become more concerned with shape and tone, that my back no longer hurts and that my arms are adjusting to an improvement in technique. I’m now approaching food with more realism too, so I can eat more of what I enjoy yet not beat myself up over those same choices. This is undoubtedly both the strongest and fittest I have ever been, and the journey now is to integrate those achievements into a lifestyle that allows me to reward myself without excess. Therefore today, after I’ve written this, I’m going to my favourite chocolate seller’s website and ordering an Easter egg. I’ve already ordered a new teapot and loose leaf tea. As my husband said to me on Saturday, I am incredibly simple to please: cuppa, chocolate and to be loved is all that is required. That’s the truth, too. Everything else, frankly, seems excessive and often pointless.

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Yesterday therefore was something of a revelation, and as a result my brain’s creativity unlocked as thanks, and I wrote fiction. Now what needs to happen is for me to not allow distraction and my own failings to get in the way of what needs to be done. This matters enough for me to give 110% to the cause, and so I shall. I have non fiction completely sorted now, and a routine that works for me. The next step is to insert the stuff I love most into this mix and them make everything work to my advantage. I’ve also got some interesting projects in mind for when I begin my Patreon, which I’ve decided will begin in late June. Most importantly of all I’ve opened my mind to collaboration. I won’t say anything more than that right now, but these are exciting times ahead, and I have an awful lot I want to say.

Without further ado, let’s get working.

Don’t Tell Me

These are disturbing times we live in. The value of expertise is being rapidly devalued. People would rather save money than consider consequence: as a result of linking this news story from the Guardian yesterday, a friend revealed a reasonably horrifying truth he’d been exposed to in a meeting from a global consulting firm:

Right, let’s just stop the bus here, shall we? First off, I was surprised it’s as low as 44%, especially looking at the Amazon supermarket ‘concept’ that only appears to need an App as a basis. Of course, all this food has to be made somewhere, and Robot Sushi creators are a long way off, so in theory not everybody in the associated service industries should be worried. At least not yet.

However, when you consider that replacing humans with robots would save companies (according to this presentation) a staggering $2.2 trillion dollars of overall wages? Yeah, you can see why that shift forward would become so attractive… except of course, robots aren’t cheap. Someone needs to repair them, or at least maintain software, and with Russian Hackers being blamed for influencing the US election? I wonder how Amazon would police a potential hack that reduced the price of all food in Chicago to 1 cent in the poorest areas during the Winter months? How would you effectively cover the FTSE 100 to ensure the robot bankers didn’t start colluding due to a judicious hack or two to bring down global economies and level the playing field for the disadvantaged? The politicians who don’t like the ideas that prevent them from making money might one day rue their desire to automate, quite apart from Skynet-style predictions of dystopian futures…

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Right now, we don’t need people doing stuff without a plan. You cannot affect long-term and consistent process by pretending you’re an expert when you don’t have a fucking clue. That last line in the meme above says it all, really: ‘No-one wants to do any research, they just want to be right.’  It could be the metaphor for my Government post Brexit where STILL nobody has a fucking clue what happens once we invoke Article 50. It could be the Republicans, repealing Obamacare but promising to replace it with something (presumably called Trumpcare) which makes more money for big business (somehow) and stops anyone with a gender deviation or a disability from ever being able to use it, because that’s what freedom is all about. As long as you’re not different, everything is fine. As long as you don’t want to understand and be a free thinker, the new World welcomes you with open arms.

In fact, if you could just whine and complain about everything, that would be even better.

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I’ve spent the week coming to terms with an intractable truth: these people won’t go away. They’ve always been here, it’s just now they’re in charge of governments and my kids future, I’ve got a bigger axe to grind than was previously available for me to chuck. All I can do as a result is make sure I keep highlighting the hypocrisy at every turn, keep my eye on the ball, and Never EVER EVER be the person who just wants to be right. I’m happy being wrong, I enjoy being corrected. In fact, I positively encourage people to pick up my failings at every opportunity. Being wrong is what more people need to do. Without that, you never grasp the intractable truths which bind Humanity. You can live in the dark, if you choose, but the light’s not only far more fun, it’s a better way to exist.

Do the research, people. Never leave the house without it. One day it might save your life.

Let’s Get Serious

It had to happen eventually. A set of circumstances has transpired that now gives me need for serious pause, to look at my life and decide what it is I really want. I know that means my Novel (still working, exceeded 60k words, going strong) but after that, there needs to be something to pay the bills. Looking at my finances, I only have a limited time to add to the cash I’ll need to survive through retirement. I’m really not making the best use of what I’m capable of. That means, that for the first time in my life, I need to create a CV.

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There’s no shortage of websites to help me with this, and I have no shortage of experience to offer. Once that’s done I just have to pimp myself until the eyes bleed. That’s something I’m used to as well, so really nothing that I’m aiming for is completely inaccessible. You just have to believe you’re good enough, and now I do. It took a while, and wasn’t helped by some incidents along the way that made me believe I simply wasn’t capable of being that person. However, now I grasp that a lot of my issues had absolutely nothing to do with ability, and everything around the people I was dealing with. In fact, that really was the major problem all along. The cynic in my head never wanted to accept that maybe the real reason my face would never fit was because I rubbed someone’s partner up the wrong way, as the result of a genuine misunderstanding. In the end, it didn’t matter, because I grasped I simply wasn’t ever going to fit the profile that I’d have to fill.

I know I’m capable of writing with depth and passion. I’m more than aware that if you’re judged on a criteria that involves personal bias, nothing will ever be fair or equitable, and in the end the moment someone looked at my work before judging my character? I was getting paid. Now I want more and frankly I really don’t care about being a ‘personality’ or saying I worked for X as if it is some badge of honour. I do this for myself. All of this isn’t to prove I’m capable, because that’s already been adequately established. Now I’m here to spread my wings and become better, and never feel as if I’ve been trapped in a place where there’s only one way to go. However hard things may get, I’ll still support mental health charities. I’ll continue to point out stupidity wherever I see it, and gaming will remain a part of what I am.

Now, however, I don’t need your validation any more. You know who you are.

First We Take Manhattan

I never knew who Leonard Cohen was until my husband introduced me to the album ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ and with his passing today I realise that a whole generation of musicians who have been seminal in making me what I am are reaching the end of their lifespans. You don’t need reminders of mortality on most days, and especially on weeks such as these, but this is a part of life. Grief never leaves you, you don’t forget or are suddenly cured. It is a part of your existence from start to finish and the measure of a good person is how you deal with that. The last 48 hours have been incredibly depressing and hugely uplifting by degrees. This morning, having woken feeling the worst in my neck and throat that I have for several weeks? I just take the drugs and get on with it. Life isn’t going to wait for me, after all. The clock is ticking.

If you get five minutes, you should read this today. I saw it via Twitter, and with the nearly 50k people who have already passed it on via Tumblr? It speaks more sense on the reality of the US situation than anything I’ve read so far, and there’s been quite a bit of that. Then there is this article on why it happened to begin with, and although some might consider it simplistic, that also pretty much works for me. Using three movies to describe this also very clever, as the whole ‘visual understanding’ thing is becoming increasingly significant for a generation who just switch off at walls of text. More than two paragraphs and people don’t care, which makes me wonder why I’m doing 50k’s worth of words if nobody’s gonna give a fuck about reading any more. I gotta hope people will be interested enough to engage.

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My weight is up, again, and I can’t say I’m surprised with the week I’ve had because it hasn’t been crap I’ve eaten, this is necessary fuel, I’m simply not doing enough exercise to balance the scales. Woeful step totals mean that this stuff’s got nowhere to go. I looked at my Fitbit yesterday and actually felt rather ashamed, and I don’t have it on yet today, despite already walked to and from the shops. However, it is Friday and tomorrow I get a lie in which I fully intend to take. Then there will be a huge Gym session and I will start again, because that is all you can ever do. Move forward, don’t go back.

If next week could not be as shit? That would be great, but I’m now thinking 2016 doesn’t give a fuck any more and we’re just doomed until the New Year. Bollocks.

Let’s start again tomorrow, shall we?