She Said

Occasionally, a meme comes along that you look at and go ‘you know what, I need to do this’ because there is an overriding desire to get people to grasp what you are. I know a lot of the Internet¬†like to hid behind a complex hybrid of¬†pretensions and schemes, but I’ve never been one for that. I am, like it or not, just this.¬†That means, if you take Sam Lowry from Brazil, Dr Daniel Jackson from Stargate (film version, NOT TV) and Craig’s incarnation of 007? Yup. That’s as good a descriptor you’ll ever have of me. In fact, the more I think about it, the more perfect this amalgam becomes. Any more than three and you lose the point. The fact they’re all male is a very intentional and key factor, because I have never¬†associated with that many fictional heroines, and that’s a story for another day.

When my youngest asks me questions like ‘if you were an ice cream flavour, what would you be?’¬†I always struggle with credible responses. I know why this¬†is: there needs to be the opportunity to consider the correct answer.¬†I don’t work well without thought. I’m an Introvert.¬†If that’s true, then I should not feel the need to make sure everyone in the World grasps what I am, surely? Well, yes and no.¬†Knowing the three characters up top there extremely well, I can quite comprehensively attest that after many years of study and consideration, they are the best fit. This has NOTHING to do with the actors, let’s make that 100% clear. It is all about their fictional alter egos.

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It’s also entirely possible the woman in the middle has the potential to muscle in on my list in the near future. It’s all gonna depend on how well she plays it when the movie finally releases. Until then? These guys do the job.

If it matters to you? Time to go do some homework.

Games without Frontiers

I made the effort this morning to walk to town. I’ll grant you, there may have been some Pokemon-related activities on the way, but the main reason why I went was to get a haircut. The last time anybody did anything to my hair was eighteen months ago. That’s probably going to send shock waves of terror into the hearts and minds of some of my readers, but I’ll be honest. I’m not bothered. The last time I wore makeup was probably in my early 30’s, but I never did the job well in my teens and just stopped. Many people have tried to politely suggest that it would be an idea to make me feel more comfortable and confident, but I just don’t see the point. I had thought that maybe I’d need to do this for my daughter’s benefit but she, in no uncertain terms, has no desire to wear it either.

If I were in a high profile job I might think differently, but as I’m not?

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I expect my best friend to read this post and make some comment on it when I see her tomorrow, as I’m off into London to pay her a visit. I totally and utterly ‘get’ why the rest of the world does this, why so much money gets thrown at the cosmetic industry. It just never, ever factored in what I’d wear, or how I’d act. I never relied on it or used it to cover flaws. Somewhere along the way I dispensed with the need for it. I’m not sure as I grow older I even want to hide what I am any more, or pretend I’m younger than I am by slapping some concealer on and pretending this is the right thing to do. What matters more than anything else is the health from within, confidence I can gain from other things and in different ways.

My hair needs a trim. I’m getting it coloured because it seems like a good idea. However, that’s where it ends. I think maybe I’m a failure in the beauty thing, but I really have better things to do with both money and time. I lift heavy shit now and write words.

Yup, that works just fine for me.

Change

Yesterday I started my new Moleskine Diary for the year. This has now become something of a big deal for me: I’ve never, ever used electronic planners with any notion of seriousness, mostly because I don’t trust computers with organising my life. Yes, I’m a shameless Luddite and I don’t care, and if there’s not pencil and paper involved it isn’t real, or indeed permanent. I know I’m not alone in this, that the revolution won’t exclude¬†pages and handwriting for some time yet. Having a physical reminder of what I did and what needs to be done is also rather useful as a tool to inspire. That has never happened with a computer, and I doubt it ever will.

My environmental concerns are also assuaged because this, in essence, becomes a permanent reminder of what I’ve done and said. All this crap on the Internet only really matters if you make a permanent copy of it, and my plan with fiction is to do just that, get a print¬†copy of everything written¬†then put aside so I have the reminders of what was done for eternity (and beyond.) After that, it’s all just shouting into the void, when everything is said and done. It was my good friend Mike who made me think about the notion of permanence, and I’m grateful for those who understand that the physical matters far more than many would have you believe. I’ve had enough of crap in my life: collectables are great for some but for me they’ve become a millstone. What matters most to me in that regard is music, and I can never see a time when there’s just a collection¬†‘in the cloud.’ I’m buying more CD’s as time goes on, not less. No, I don’t do Vinyl but I get it.

I will always need something in my hand to feel I’m doing composition some justice.

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There is something undoubtedly special about my diary’s unique composition, especially¬†when I travel. The memories from the US last year are particularly bright in the mind not simply because of pictures, but the feel¬†of my diary in hand and on a series of hotel/motel desks¬†as I planned and worked abroad. I’m sure I’m horribly old fashioned in this regard, but frankly I don’t care. The future may be information when you want it, but that’s not the way to make memories or establish permanence. That’s what the physical is, and why it remains such an important aspect of our existence.

Without the feelings, we are nothing.

Over There

Last night, in a conversation with someone I hope in time will become a good friend, I suggested that meat space interaction¬†is far more difficult than existing in a virtual environment. She decided the opposite was true: easy to do things¬†in real life and actually it’s the Internet that’s the scary place. After the last two days, I can see both sides of the fence.

I still think people in person are far more intimidating.

Many virtual people appear as¬†toothless, flabby wonders. They think that their World is without reproach and largely untouchable, until disruptive influences come along and challenge the status quo. Then there’s a phenomenal amount of flapping and huffing, but none of it is nearly as stressful as actual people doing the same six inches from your face. That’s what matters most, after all.¬†When you’re sick nobody notices unless you post a Status Update. You can pass away but unless someone else updates your existence online? Everyone else will think you just stopped playing the game. It sounds cruel, I know, but there are some vital distinctions to be made, that people forget.

I suspect that’s deliberate too.

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I have many people I’m only friendly with virtually, and I’d like to think I treat them in EXACTLY the same way I interact with people in the Real World. That’s how it goes down, as it happens: nobody gets special attention, everybody is the same. The problem for many on-line is that they refuse to do this, or decide for whatever reason it’s more sensible to be a version of themselves.¬†If you attempt to mirror only what you believe are the good things via an online persona? There’s always the chance that, at some point, you’ll make a mistake and your mask will slip. You’ll also be surprised at what gets revealed when you post without thinking. Mostly, you NEED to treat all interactions with people in exactly the same way. Nothing is less worthy of your time, after all, regardless of where you¬†meet.

If you come to social media to escape the woes of the real world? One day, the opposite will be true, and eventually you may actually grasp that it isn’t other people that are the problem, and that you are the broken element in the equation. Of course, then you’ll have to try and repair¬†yourself.

Trust me when I say, that’s going to take some work.

Tragedy

Sometimes, I find myself wondering what other people think I’m doing. I shouldn’t really pay this that much attention, if truth be told: you don’t live your life by other people’s ideals, after all, it is all about understanding what you want most. However, when someone says to me ‘I don’t really understand what you’re talking about’ I stop and think. I write an inordinate amount of words on any given day. Most of this, undoubtedly, lays bare what is going on in my life. It makes perfect sense to me, but that’s only because I’m living in it 24/7. Here’s where the diversion takes place: if you’re only here in passing, after a while, nothing will ever be consistent unless you take the time to care. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t be here.

Mostly, you’re lying to yourself.

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I’m watching an increasing number of people take control of social media, and it is actually encouraging. If you have this stuff in your life, then making it work for you is far more important than just following a bunch of people that someone else told you would be a good idea. What also needs to be grasped is whereas many people consider platforms like Twitter purely and simply as a ‘soapbox’ on which to ascribe your attitude on life? I use it as a long term writing and inspiration tool. That means a lot gets talked about that, if you’re not paying attention, is not likely to make much sense to begin with. Take the time to follow it? That might change, but I can’t push people into comprehension. I can’t make you care, and long may that be the default. This is not the way you forge long-term relationships with people, after all.

If the person really matters to you? You’ll make an effort outside of the words to begin with.

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Here is where the measure of the people you’re dealing really shines through. Cudos therefore to the person who DM-d me this morning and actually explained that it wasn’t me, it was them before they unfollowed me.¬†Shame on all the other people who never even think that far, that for them don’t appreciate what the ebb and flow of people from another person’s life can do. More people ought to consider consequences, but they’d probably just argue that it doesn’t matter anyway.

Actually, it does.

Little Things

There are few things in life that make me happier than a bacon sandwich on still warm granary bread, with just the hint of tomato ketchup to bring the whole experience alive. It’s the weekend and I’ve been up since 6am, because the eldest returned from a week away skiing and I’d not realised just how much I missed him being away. I’m now the only one awake in the house and although I may hanker for an extra hour’s sleep, the amount of work I’ve been able to complete since the early start makes me realise that sometimes I ought to do this as a default and not simply through¬†necessity.

It’s been an interesting 24 hours, all told, and when someone randomly informs you that you’re an inspiration to them, it’s always the right moment to stop and take a step backwards. I think a lot of people forget the fact that how they see themselves is often vastly different to the view the rest of the world has, and constantly re-assessing where you stand is never a bad idea. If anything, this gives you a chance to stop and think about WHY things are happening, not simply allowing stuff to happen without some kind of say as to how. Yesterday, for instance, was a lot about trust and understanding. It was also small steps, gradual progress, rather than getting everything done all at once. Mostly however yesterday was asking for what I wanted, and not being surprised when it happened, but enjoying the consequences.

It’s amazing what’s possible when you just relax and let the world just get on with it.

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I also sense change in the air, which is okay, because Spring is coming, and that means clearing out old and letting in the new. I’m good with change now, it’s becoming increasingly easy to let the World evolve around me. Of course, I get to do that too, but my pace of progress isn’t nearly as dynamic as everybody else’s.

Time to get on with the day.

The Way You make Me Feel

Yesterday, I ended up having a conversation with someone where it became obvious that two people I could see and communicate with freely weren’t affording each other the same pleasure. Twitter doesn’t tell you who’s blocking who (probably with good reason) but after a while you get to know the people who are problematic. See, I could have called you difficult or prickly, but as those are both adjectives that get thrown at me from time to time? That expression that states ‘it takes one to know one’ is particularly apposite in situations like this. It’s that moment when I see a media star in a pose with a fan, or on a red carpet they really don’t want to be on. Their eyes give away the real truth, they’re as bored as fuck and just want a drink in their hand.

Twitter does that too, but you have to pay attention to pick it up.

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Possibly my favourite .GIF ever FOR MANY REASONS

For a lot of you, the process is transparent. You won’t even realise its happening over time, but if you spend enough hours reading people’s text, you begin to pick up the sense of the individual writing. It is akin to your favourite author’s ‘style’, a way of using your words in a particular order. Just as some people take their cues from the visual, mine come from the minutiae of the words. What is often forgotten by many of you is when you’re talking to someone else in my feed and I’m not CC-d in with my name. By virtue of following you both I’ll get those conversations, often if I want them or not. That’s when, more often than not, I’ll see the real truths behind the username. Because you may well treat me a certain way to keep me involved, but when you think I’m not looking? BOOM, off you go on your sexist rants or opening your mouth without thinking.

However, the bigger problem for me right now is people using their feeds as impromptu soapboxes. You get a bee in your bonnet about X: could be your soon to be ex-spouse, could be the traffic downtown, or maybe the fact that work colleagues treat you like dirt. Because this is your feed you can quite happily go on and on and on and on about this for as long as you like but, in the end, you’re going to imbalance your personal signal to noise ratio. For me, if all I’m hearing is you grumpy, angry or whiny? After a while I’ll just turn down the volume. If it persists, I’ll simply just let you go. Don’t expect me to pass judgement on your life either, because ultimately it is not my job to tell you how to live. I unfollowed someone recently and they tweeted me asking what they’d done wrong. The answer was simple: nothing at all. If they wanted to talk to me we didn’t need to follow each other, the fact was they didn’t do that at all. In this case I sensed I was there simply as a number, part of a ‘fanbase’ of people who would listen, comfort and reassure this person but ultimately have nothing to show for the relationship. Because for some people, you just need to have them there. They’re a badge of honour, someone everyone else is talking to and somehow you need to ‘collect’ to make your social media feed complete.

I’m not a badge of honour or a personality. I’m a person. With feelings.

So, I stand with body in many places simultaneously, on any given day. Those people I overlap have their reasons for interacting, and often they actively diverge from my own. That’s no biggie, I can talk to most, but after a while you just know who to avoid. Often, it isn’t because they offend you either. Many of my blockees actually don’t bother me that much, but that status is imposed because I upset them. I shoved them out of comfort zones, I poured scorn on their perfectly organised worlds, and it became that I was the difficult and prickly person they wanted to avoid. I’d like to think that in at least one case my complete refusal to budge on a point of principle was enough to make a certain person have the mother of all hissy fits and strop off into the sunset. No, it isn’t about right sometimes, it’s more to do with because.¬†If you choose to live you life on principles you truly believe matter, then occasionally you should be standing and falling by those ideals, however mundane the situation.

Sometimes, you just know that you can’t hide the boredom. Those are the days you should not go out, not talk, and certainly not get involved in a fight on social media.

The Old Songs

I am noticing a distinct diversion in my social medias of late. It could well be I am the Grumpy Old Woman in this equation, and as the young man says above, just because you’ve been around since the dawn of Mankind does not give you carte blanche to tell the world what they can and cannot do. Except, of course, this is exactly what happens. Politicians, marketing departments, media gurus, you name them and they’re out there, throwing the old is best at you with every possible spin shoved upon it. Ironically¬†the current 007 is probably now too old to be doing his job for the eyes of a ‘modern’ audience, and the actor who plays HIM is two years younger than me, so fuck knows what chance I stand of being relevant in the current climate. Looks fade, people want new, you only win if you’re the early adopter… well screw all that, because I came to the conclusion¬†yesterday it just took forty odd years to work out what the fuck I’m doing, and I’m still not sure I’m entirely¬†grasping the application.

Seriously, who are these people who have a clue and how do they do it for as long as they have?

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I used to do this quite a lot, not care, decide that actually someone else could solve the problem. Except as this happened over time, stuff would be left unconsidered. I’d shove packets of emotional trauma down the back of memories and leave them, untouched for decades, not dealing with anything I’d said and done. I’ve taken time to look back at parts of my life of late and although I wasn’t a saint, some things just get left well alone. I really didn’t love/like you, lots of you, I get it was chemicals and not substance, and that entire process of ‘need to be with you because’ was just flawed at inception. In fact, I grasp that the first time I ever made a¬†genuine decision about who I wanted in my life apart from marriage was in the depths of Post Natal Depression. I’m sorry, person who left for the US, but I treated you appallingly, and that was wrong. The fact is, we were never real friends at any point.¬†In fact, I reckon I can say with a measure of confidence that I only just worked out how to¬†understand what a close female friend actually is to me.

That’s pretty fucking shonky behaviour for anyone, and the guilt is palpable.

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That’s why I don’t still talk to¬†friends I knew from school. This is the reason college reunions don’t work for me. There is nobody. I didn’t bring anyone through, there’s no circle of friends at home. There is me here, and my husband, and the people he knows at work. Everybody else exists at distance, including the person I’m now deciding to call my best friend who is based in London. There’s a damn good reason why this all happened too, and only now am I grappling with that realisation. That’s a blog post for another time.

Mostly, I owe my kids quite a lot, and I suspect they’ll never really know. They¬†taught me that love works in a lot of ways I’d never actually grasped, that true emotional resonance outside of intimacy only happens when you give yourself to the equation. They forced¬†me to control emotion and not just let it run unchecked. Most importantly, I realise how appallingly unaware of what I was I’d been when it came to dealing with more than one set of emotional signals. My husband, I have come to understand, is a hero in so many ways it is probably incalculable. I really owe him so much and doubt I’ll never find the right way to thank him for not just love, but his forgiveness and understanding. All of this boils down to some basic points: I was a shit friend, an even worse person for a very long time, and only in the last decade have I begun to actually learn. Now, at this point nearly 50 years into the process, I’m slowly¬†getting it.

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The bigger debt then goes to those who have remained for longer than a decade in my life, all at distance, and who are still listening. To Mike, who sought me¬†out when I ran for the last time and actually made me realise that some people cared enough to work out where I’d gone. To Duncan for picking his moments, despite living half a world away. It made me understand that I’ve not completely fucked up everything in transition, that I might have a fighting chance of making things stick. Julia is now my new start, and I am here to reassure her that no, I’m not pinning all my hopes on this relationship staying solid or I’m going to disintegrate. I get the balance thing now, it’s okay, and although I may still wobble a bit, I see a path ahead. What needs to happen now is for me to work out how I add other close relationships to the balance without everything just collapsing. That means now there’s a lot of cautious feeling around, a lot of it largely in the dark, to work out who I feel I can trust with my new self.

You know who you are. It’s a long and slow process, trying to establish dialogues, and seeing who actually cares enough to keep them going once instigated. The fact remains, friendship takes two people to successfully nurture, and all that crap about ‘best friends remain so regardless’ only remains that way when everyone’s shouldering at least a portion of the workload. Realising this and a lot of other things (I hope) might allow my brain to stop throwing subconscious crap at me nearly as much as it is, and stop once an for all those dreams¬†that I know are my own fault. I doubt its that simple, but it’s a start, and writing this has made me feel considerably lighter. Writing really does work as therapy, who knew?

Living life however is far better than talking about it.

Save Me

Losing Alan Rickman so soon after Bowie makes the whole ‘grieving about someone you never knew’ thing become really problematic. Defining your life, you see, is not simply about the stuff you do. It’s about what you watch, or read, or hear as well, often more so. These moments shape¬†your progress, and alter¬†the methods of travel once the two points intersect. And so, whilst all of you Snape or Gruber as a point of interest…? I went to Dogma.¬†However, if I’m honest? This is where I’ll watch more. Because Austin is my jam, and always has been, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think that the ‘Sense and Sensibility’ he starred in with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is the best version there is. Because it is.

I’m an incurable romantic, when all is said and done, and frankly you want a man who’d go find you in the rain and then carry you several miles whilst unconscious. Don’t give me that dirty look you stupid fucking feminists who’ll tell me you don’t need a man for validation, everybody¬†wants someone who cares enough to not leave you for dead. In this case I would lose my shit and just so go there if Rickman did this for me. So YES I KNOW none of my expectations are realistic, but hey. Everybody has a List, right? That mental group of actors, performers and artists that if you ended up with them alone for a night and nobody else knew you’d just say yes and do the Walk of Shame in the morning with head held high? Rickman was on my list. Even at 69. Especially at 69.¬†

I would have taken this man as validation every single day of the week.

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Yeah, I know.

This week’s been roughly equivalent to being dragged backwards through the bushes for five days straight. Mostly I think I’d just like to make it to bedtime tonight and quite possibly not get up again until Monday, but I already know the total impracticality of my desire. What I will do is go and buy Sense and Sensibility on DVD and finally add it to my Austen collection, because it really deserves to be there and I ought to watch it completely and not as is so often the case catch the last 45 minutes on TV and wish I’d started from the beginning.

The World is quite a depressing place this morning.

*sigh*

[PS: There is a coda to this post, which you can find here.]

How to Disappear Completely

I have a problem with letting shit go.

A lot of my mental health issues last year undoubtedly centred around how the World perceives me. It has become increasingly apparent that my more critical eye is something some people don’t like seeing, or indeed listening to. In fact, most of¬†the ire I garnered in 2015 was because I decided to stand up and diss things/people that I perceived as wrong, stupid or ridiculous. Some people, when you use Twitter or Facebook, have obviously guilty consciousnesses and assume, often completely erroneously, that you’re talking about them when actually your anger is directed elsewhere.

Occasionally I’d upset someone totally by accident. Far more frequently, someone would pop up and berate me when they clearly decided that not liking something they liked had done was utterly wrongheaded. Mostly, if I’m honest, I wasn’t the problem, they were.¬†Their overly sensitive indignation had caused the issue and I was a convenient means to highlight that they weren’t the problem in all of this. I unintentionally (and often conveniently) got patsied. Of course, on the counter to this, those same people would argue that as the attention-seeking whore in this relationship, I should be able to take this criticism to begin with.

Social media’s fucking hilarious when you actually break it down.

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Reassurance comes in many forms.

People build empires on line in exactly the same way they do in Real Life. The crucial diversion occurs when you understand that you have more control over your virtual environment than you’ll ever possess in the meat-based version. There’s a point for many people, in their Twitter ‘careers’, when they realise it becomes crucial to remove voices from their seemingly ‘free’ world or they simply cease to function correctly. You’ll watch this happen when someone’s followers hit a psychological barrier. It could be the number of followers, or perhaps after a particular incident. Occasionally, and this is pretty rare it must be said, someone cuts all their chords and buggers off completely. The lure of ‘fame’ is often too strong for many to do this, however, and that in turn causes further bitterness. Of course, the genuinely successful people just get on with it and don’t subject the rest of the World to all of this inherent drama.

Those are the people everyone ought to be emulating.

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Aim for blue skies, always.

Mostly, the World’s always looking for reassurance, because we’re still all kids deep down. It’s no surprise that the metaphor always returns to immaturity and inexperience, because for most letting go of those early years? That’s what keeps therapists in cash, Hollywood in re-makes and social media in drama. It’s no surprise how many people compare Twitter to High School/Secondary School, because it is. All the cliques, the mood swings, that bad hair… its all here. Human life, dissected and occasionally painfully exposed to both ridicule and disbelief.

Where you fit in the World is something most of us spend our entire existence trying to fathom. Some use it as a way to define themselves, and I realise this is where I’m beginning to shift. That means that, on days like today, I take the reins and make the last action mine.¬†There are days when I won’t be able to control my environment, and then I simply have to accept my fate. On the days where I can, however? I’ll ensure that I’m the one who has the final say.

Because that, for me, defines what I really am.