Daydreaming

So, yesterday. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

I wrote a blog yesterday for the Other Place which was, it has to be said, a bit of a surprise. It comes on the back of picking up yet another failed writing project at the start of the weekend and trying (unsatisfactorily) to make something of it. Yet again came the familiar and damning grasp of terror around both brain and heart. You’re not good enough.¬†Stop trying to fool yourself that you are.

Except fuck you Impostor Syndrome, seriously, just go get in the sea and stay there.¬†These ideas are more than good enough, I’m just not mentally capable of the editing task right now. It is like wading through my past, laid out in print, being forced to relive the circumstances behind when these pieces were written, time and again. I am incapable of going back there and doing the work. It hurts too much.

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Therefore, it might be an idea to take something totally new and fresh, from scratch, and just see how we can make something worthwhile emerge, using all the skills I’ve learnt in the last eighteen months.¬†No massive plan, just taking an idea I’ve loved for decades, and putting my unique spin on it. Therefore, yesterday, Provocatrix was born. It’s pretty much at the ‘I’m writing this for you stage’ too, and there’s already an ending.

Key to the success of this narrative is that the key plot hinge has been knocking around for over a year, but my brain had ring-fenced it for another project that would have been totally and utterly wish fulfilment. That’s the key, I think: writing needs to be fun, something you enjoy, the ideas not a chore or a concept you think other people might find interesting.¬†If you don’t have fun in the creation, boy does it show.

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This isn’t a total about face for me but it is a shift in course. Accepting the shortcomings is normally not as easy (or satisfying) as this has initially turned out to be. Cautious optimism is most definitely the key to progress now but I have the three key protagonists sorted. Who they are and what they do is now their task to show me. I’m looking forward to seeing where we all go, how they react to the narrative’s challenges.

I’m genuinely excited for a long form project, and that’s not happened for some time.

Look Up

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Lying awake at 5.30 am this morning, a lot was running through a mind that was desperate for sleep, but simply wasn’t capable. I know why this was, that when I take a Rest Day now my body doesn’t know what to do with itself. Yesterday, however, was a hugely productive session of writing, planning and organisation. It was worth the time at the desk but reminded me that I need to be making better use of the moments when that’s what is supposed to be happening. This morning, therefore, even though I’m tired, it is the opportunity to start getting ahead.

I should take the time to acknowledge my ability more often.

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It is now a bit of a joke that most days I don’t know what’s going on: planning has become as much a part of existence as exercise and writing. If I don’t want to do something, more often than not, it is because there’s a shinier displacement activity giving me a suggestive look from the sidelines. However, without the mundane stuff, I don’t have a quality of life that’s significant. Therefore this week is about biting the bullet and getting some¬†of the boring, mundane shit out of the way. To make this task more appealing, I will be sticking Post It notes in appropriate places to remind me of what needs to be done in this particular area.

Let’s see how attractive I can make the horrendous by this method.

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I managed to get the prototype handmade gift made yesterday and have one of the eight final items completed, and reckon now I have the hang of it the rest is easily doable in November downtime. Then it is simply a case of completing the written portion of affairs: I’ve provisioned Thursday as a writing day for lots of odds and ends, and I’ll make the template needed for these gifts before seeing if¬†I can twist my husband’s arm to help in production. I’ve also gotta go walk a bit further today to see how many extra steps my longer, more convoluted trip to the Gym gives… though on reflection I’ll do a shorter trip there and longer back today as that allows more chance to front-load content.

This whole post is, therefore, a reminder to myself: WORK HARDER, make all the time count as something productive and when you relax, make that matter too. Your time here is short and is not worth wasting on stuff that does not make you happy. Therefore: read more, laugh more and enjoy the simple pleasures of existence for you have no idea how long they will last. Have a good day, and make the most of every second.

I Might Be Wrong

There is a eucalyptus tree in our garden, almost pulled over in the last round of Winter storms. We’ve decided it was too unwieldy, that our whole garden is going to be remodelled in the next year, and this (plus many things) had to go. My husband had taken most of the height from it, but showed reticence to finish the job, and after a particularly passionate discussion over commitment to maintaining the outside of the house, I stepped in. That meant that yesterday morning, as remnants of a teenage LAN party were filtering into unusually warm April sun, I stepped into the garden with a huge hacksaw and a plan.

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I am not, as a rule, an outdoors person. Sure, I enjoy going to places and looking at things, but relaxation for me is never outside. However, now I’m beginning to grasp that my future is changing, it is only right and proper that I force out of my normal comfort zone and start doing stuff that is not fun. That eucalyptus was taken to almost ground level yesterday, and has a root system that is a metaphor for how sometimes it is hard to remove things from your life. Every time I thought I’d got on top of removing the stump the thing showed me how deep to dig and strong I’d have to be to cut it out. I’ve done good work, but one day will not be enough, and I’ll be back this week to finish the job. However, what I did manage was to clear more than half the rest of the mess, and call out for a chainsaw because sometimes, you just gotta use the big equipment.

However, yesterday was exactly what was needed.

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The change to my upper body strength was the biggest revelation: sawing shit is FUN when you don’t get tired after 30 seconds. In fact I hacksawed so many things it was enjoyable: once upon a time I’d have never coped with the job I’d set myself in one sitting. Yesterday, by 3.30pm I was tidying up and feeling the effort had been very much worthwhile. The other massive upswing from last week is the ‘nothing fatty that could set off another gallbladder incident until you’ve had bloods and an ultrasound’ warning from the Doctor. I now know that peanut butter is off the books, organic included. It meant the roasters had to be omitted from last night’s chicken dinner too, but that didn’t diminish the awesomeness of the experience, because I sneaked bread sauce in.

This has also stopped me looking at calorie content at foods and pushed me back to the ‘fat’ part of the nutritional information. Even though I’ve been better with food, there were indulgences (especially in the cheese and butter departments) because I’d be able to burn the calories off. The problem now, of course, is if my body cannot handle the process of breaking down high fat foods, there has to be accommodation and I will need to start logging those indulgences to ensure I’m not potentially causing more harm. What I really want to avoid is surgery, because that will put back all my hard work potentially for months. If I can manage this without the need to do so, that will be the long term aim.

I might be wrong, but the more I think about last week is turning out to be a massive positive than negative.

The Last Time

The truth, such as it is, remains different for everybody, until you reach the point where grey has been completely eradicated. Then, entering the realm of the unavoidable, come the yes/no answers. Are you my father? Will this kill me? Are you an idiot? On days like today, when I’m not 100% awake and it is impossible to properly function without a drug as support (endorphins or caffeine, nothing else) that I normally end up going backwards. However, today is going to be different, because I will take Mr Ledger’s advice. Sometimes it is not about removing yourself from a difficult situation in order to function and move forward. Occasionally, staying is the only option, especially when it becomes clear that you’re not the problem.

The problem, at least for me, is that the notion of entitlement in various areas of society is now so glaringly obvious as to be funny. Indignation of the airbrushing of a Christian festival from a commercially-sponsored event, splashed over my feed, increasingly juxtaposed with real issues that should, in the mind of the poster, be taking precedent. Everybody’s ability to arbitrate and pass judgement on everything has been elevated to an art form, but with so many disparate voices, you simply stop listening. It’s like the situation that transpires every time a game I know people play introduces ANYTHING that takes more than a notional definition of ‘effort’ to complete. There’s no ‘skill’ any more, its all about gear and time. The truth, I’m beginning to grasp, doesn’t matter. The right answer becomes an irrelevance. For the sake of a quiet life and my own desires, winning fails to count as achievement. I don’t need validation any more, and the more it becomes the benchmark for perceived ability, the less I desire any part of the process.

On the days where what matters above achievement is simply progress, you won’t explain to some people that their viewpoint is actually harmful. In some cases you shouldn’t either, because that stands the chance of putting the more vulnerable back weeks, possibly further. That used to be the moment when I’d just stop checking feeds and be elsewhere, but as I discovered at the weekend, my skin is hardening in the right places, and today is the moment to make my point. A lot of the time, you’re not ever the problem. The stupid people, amazing as it might sound for many reasons, have no idea they’re causing the damage to begin with. You don’t have to measure this on a strict IQ score either: I’m watching some very smart people becomes incredibly stupid for the sake of media attention. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d say a lot of these people don’t really care about anything except a very warped notion of significance.

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This therefore is your daily reminder that The Internet does not accurately represent reality. People who don’t look past their own perceptions are often less than reliable as objective barometers. Arguing over religion never ends well, and I maintain the people with real skill in this world are the ones who don’t complain about everything they don’t like. Today’s truth is simple: you are enough, even on days when you think that’s the biggest lie going. Looking past the crap, rhetoric and obsession is hard, but there are times when making yourself do just that are utterly worthwhile, for the larger understanding that ultimately gives.

Sometimes, a crap day is worth the effort.

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Before I sat down to write, I took a rubbish sack and a food recycling bag and removed everything bad with an excessive carbohydrate count from what is known in this house as the ‘treat’ cupboard. No, it won’t cure me or anybody else in this house of their sugar addiction, but it draws a line in the sand for my tolerance. If I was living with a bunch of virtuous, healthy and happy people then I’d argue the approach would be different. It is time to move forward.

I’m not doing this to make me happy. What ails me is nothing to do with comfort eating. I am well aware of where the shortcomings are in my life and, like it or not, many of them will never be mine to fix. I can simplify gaming to make it more relaxing and act as a substitute for sugar, but again this doesn’t deal with the addiction. I can continue to lose weight and move forward but until I deal with the causes of anxiety, I’ll always be on the back foot. That means today, I’ll make a phone call.

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However, I anticipate a significant wait (as has always been the case) and so, whilst that happens, here are other things that can be done. One of them is to try and stop stressing about the stuff I cannot change, and to focus on the positives I already have. It’s all very #FirstWorldProblems stuff right now, which is why it feels a bit bad and wrong to discuss it as if there’s more relevance… but it matters to me. Decluttering will help, as will tidying generally. Getting out with the camera is another way to help alleviate stress that I’m not taking full advantage of, and with better weather on the way, I should be out more.

In the end, becoming the arbiter of my own destiny was always going to come with a catch. Nothing is ever smooth or perfect in its execution, and anyone saying otherwise is an all out fraud. This is a new journey, only just beginning, becoming one with all the other places I am moving towards, and I will find the means to fit it into the fabric of my existence eventually, but until I do? I promise not to complain, or indeed to mention it again. Needless to say, stuff doesn’t get fixed unless you work to do so. Bodies are no different to brains.

I’ve got this too.

 

Afraid of the Dark


I’m not talking to you when I write a blog
. You, reading this now and then assuming that we have this glorious and intimate relationship via the Internet, do not understand how language works.

My biggest issue, without doubt in the last couple of years, has arisen when some bloke who found me attractive then concluded that my blog posts were some kind of bizarre confirmation of their desire being reciprocated.

This has played out more than once, and I have found myself wondering each time the scenario unfolded, why on earth my combination of letters and spaces would be enough to make someone form an unhealthy attachment, under the assumption that this was somehow acceptance of their misguided belief.

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The problem when you write a Blog, undoubtedly, is how to get people to read and remain past the first paragraph. That’s why SEO (how spider robots stick your posts at the top of Google search engines for maximum visibility) has become de rigeur: the start of each article I write ought to look like the one above to let people take in a sentence at a time. The problem for me however is when I give into this and accept I’m just here to get the views, the entire point of my personal mantra effectively disintegrates. I WRITE FOR MYSELF. Everybody is out here, shuffling and hustling their own particular ‘version’ of blogged reality and sadly, most involve you never getting past 600 words or having to think for more than three minutes tops. If that’s you, I’ve already disappointed so maybe it’s time to start attacking me for not being honest.

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Words are clever; rigid yet tactile. I’ve learnt the lesson now not to promise too much, I won’t publish if something’s not good enough, and if I need more time it will be taken and not simply rushed out. These are my rules, and I refuse to allow other people to dictate what is done or not. As I learn the process better it becomes less about how you do something but why, and the messages I send need to use words in the optimum manner. Swearing is not abusive to anyone else if all you do is use it chastise yourself. The problem undoubtedly arises when a person arbitrarily decides that you are a problem because you refuse to play by the same ‘rules’ they do. Then, I’ll tell you to fuck off, and be perfectly justified in using swearing to reinforce a point. Nobody asked you to turn up and police me, thanks very much. Go find somebody else to vilify.

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The problems inevitably arise when you threaten people, or attack by name. If you’re stupid enough to do that in a public forum and the person upset is smart enough to know what they’ve seen is libellous… well, we all know how that story ends. You might think I’m talking about you or someone you know but without names, that’s all you have, a might. Some stories will never get discussed. What you consider important I might look at as irrelevance. That’s the great thing about words. They can do whatever you want, assuming you have the correct mastery over them. You thought grinding in gaming was hard? Try 50 years of attempting to get words to do what you want.

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What this all boils down to is incredibly simple: freedom. While I still hold breath in my lungs and have the ability to put fingers on keys, I am here to speak freely. Some of it will be self indulgent, but hopefully not to much. Maybe I’ll get lucky once in a while and hit all the right letters and spaces to produce things that are worthwhile. I certainly intend to try and help people more going forward, and make sure that I don’t allow injustice or stupidity any place in proceedings. In the end, all I can do is what I’m best at, and that remains the ability to string words into sentences. Everything else is an uphill struggle. If I practice every day, maybe by the time I hit 51, I will have finally begun to live a dream I¬† was too stupid to ever start working on in my 20’s.

The only way to find out is to try.

Look Away

Something happened this morning, in the Gym. I ran fast, but in my mind I was in slow motion. My legs extended and stretched and the stride became this huge, brilliant and totally relaxed combination. Yeah, by 300 metres I was gasping for breath but that’s only because lungs need to read the memo my body sent that once you grasp how to totally cheat a Thing, you should do the Thing immediately.¬†I know how to spoof running. It’s easy now, and I’m almost at the stage where I can spoof weightlifting too. Couple more weeks on my own… but that’s not why I’m here.

Today¬†there was the guy who stared at me whilst I did bar work, and not in a nice way. I’ve been at this long enough to grasp the difference between watching form and perving, Guys, don’t you start at me for not simply appreciating a pretty woman. I’m not here to be attractive, and this guy was only interested in my body. Plus, it was very cold in the Gym and my nipples aren’t exactly the size of Smarties any more. So, once I’d done my last set and upped the weights so I could use the bar for some core work, I went and stared at him as he lifted some dumbbells, and in very short order he asked me what I was doing.

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‘Oh, I’m showing you how uncomfortable it is when someone watches only certain parts of your body,’ I responded ‘and perhaps next time you choose to do that at someone else you’ll consider just how demeaning¬†this feeling can be.’ Then I left him to go do bloke stuff with his weights, and by the time I looked up again¬†he’d vanished. I wonder if I’ll get any comeback from this, but frankly I don’t care.¬†This morning I handed in an extended feedback letter over to the management on how the membership treat the staff in my Gym, and talked about how things can be changed to improve the situation. Ironically at no point did I even consider sexism or casual stalking as a talking point because, up until now, it has not been a problem. I may be shit at names but I am very good with faces. This guy is on my watch list.

It is undoubtedly the membership of the Gym that’s the issue, but because the staff are so lovely, I’m prepared to accept that as a hazard. They can’t help who uses the place, after all, and as I know only too well everybody has the potential to be a Class A¬†Twat at any given point? You accept the danger and live with it.¬†What has changed however between then and now is the fact that before I’d have simply ignored the tosser and moved on, but at this point in existence¬†that’s not enough. It’s like this morning when something gaming related flicked past on the feed and I felt almost obliged to point out that if you’re lucky enough to have internet access, a PC and a roof over your head, complaining that a game makes you work too hard’s pretty fucking rich to begin with.

Yes, you’re an entitled dicksplash.

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Honestly, some of you people really do need a reality check as a matter of urgency.

Pull Me In

Today was the day for the second part of my new Exercise Plan: it was Pull day, but before I got to that? There was Cardio. BOY, was there Cardio. It looked really simple on my Phone: a bit on the Cross Trainer, then some running/walking. Except I wasn’t ready for what I ended up having to do: the first part of the exercise genuinely pushed me to a standstill, and normally that would mean a longer rest and no more cardio. Not today, and the running was the most painful and difficult thing I’ve done since I started this whole journey in May. At the end of 20 minutes I was in tears, and physically could not do any more. I was 800 metres short of my target.

I have never worked this hard at exercise in my entire life.

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The weights were a blur, I’ll have to admit, I’m still stuck in the moment when I realised there was nothing left in my legs and I needed to find 800 meters from somewhere. I’ll admit this to my Trainer, of course, but I did it, both sessions, with pretty much everything I was asked to do.¬†It’s a massive step forward from where I was this time last year, and that’s as much about having the ability to push through fear as it has about pain. The music I’ve picked as my new Treadmill accompaniment had a lot to do with it as well: I imagine myself singing it, in my head, and it helps me keep energy and enthusiasm for the work I’m doing. In fact, the louder the song in my mind, the more passion leaks out into the work.

It really does work, too.

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The next part of this plan of course is to see if my exercise plus judicious eating will really equal weight loss. I’m hoping to at least see something on Monday, but accept it’s just as likely I’ll see exactly where I am with more muscle mass. I won’t know until I get on the scales on Monday, but I’m going to be virtuously good until then. No fry up tomorrow, and certainly a session on the Treadmill at some point on Sunday, even if it’s only an extended session of walking. I have the bit between my teeth now.

I have so fucking got this.

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.

Another Way to Die

This year may¬†not been kind, but if I’m going to survive going forward then it is high time to be realistic. 2016, for me personally, has¬†not been a bad year. It has, all told, been FUCKING AWESOME,¬†and maybe I would be better served not pretending I’ve become a shadow of my former self, because that’s so utterly not true. So the meme above is actually as accurate as I think it is possible to be. I’ve gone from a fairly staid and uptight woman of the 1970’s to a pretty chill and sexually comfortable person of the early 21st Century. I look far better in the armour, I never liked the bright colours anyway, and now I can embrace all the shit that comes with my baggage?

2017 is looking pretty damn amazeballs.

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There will be a pre-Christmas meeting with my Trainer to establish what is required to shift¬†the last of my extraneous¬†fat, and so committed am I to this task that I am fully prepared to go the whole shakes and brutal exercise route to make it a reality. It’s not that I’m trying to become something I’m not any more. This is what I’ve always wanted to be deep down. I never had the confidence or belief in myself to make it a reality until now. It’s got an awful lot to do with the understanding that if you listen to your own internal voices that will convince you that failure’s just easier and less stressful, this is what happens. Inertia, inability and a lifetime of belief that you’ll never be good enough.

I am good enough. I’m better than that. I can produce an entire story from nothing, start to finish, that doesn’t only make sense but which is compelling and brilliant. I’m capable of lifting my own body weight with assistance. I’m becoming more and more adventurous with so many things that previously would have sent me away screaming in terror. Nobody made me better, I have no book to recommend or guru to thank. I did this. Little old me with the inhalers and the body confidence issues and the darkness that sometimes obscures everything around me. I found a voice, and a direction. I made things better for myself, and now I’m going to start doing it for other people too.

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This weekend I’m going to spend half a day on Social media using my powers for good and hoping I can get people to donate money to a mental health charity in a period where cash for many is tighter than at any other time of the year. There are so many more worthy causes at this time of year, I know, but MIND does so much sterling work for a group of people who often cannot find a voice. I know, because I’ve been there.¬†I’ve cancelled all plans, am getting my husband to take the kids to see Grandma this year alone so I can be here and do this, and try and make more than just a passing donation to a good cause. I need to make this matter. With all the terror and chaos currently surrounding us, at home and abroad, it might seem selfish to think of myself, but that’s what happens whenever I realise just how important charities like MIND are to those who cannot cope with what life throws at them.

That was me, not so long ago. I was there and didn’t know how to help myself and now I do, I want to make sure that awareness is raised, that others don’t have to feel alone and helpless at a time of year when often family are the most difficult group of people to talk to. This is only the first step in giving back, there will be many others, and by the time I’ve done I hope I really can make a tangible difference to people’s lives. That’s what others have done for me and I’d like to thank them all, and so I will, but not here.¬†That’s my task to complete and I’m getting there, slowly but surely. For now, I hope I’ll see you at Midday on Saturday¬†for 12 hours of .GIF related awesome.

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