Today, I began an eight-day cycling challenge. I’ve got to do 500km by New Year’s Eve.
Welcome to the new routine.
Nobody is making me do this. It’s not a challenge. It’s also, crucially, nothing to do with Red January, which I am now debating skipping this year. The reason for that is fairly complicated, and we’ll talk about it more as time goes on. This year, it transpires, I need to do some stuff for myself. Nearly £2000 for mental health charities has been raised in the last few years. 2021 will be different, and many people apart from us need to keep their cash.
This is also the fittest I have EVER been. Mentally, however, I am struggling, and therefore it is the right moment to regroup. We’ll use the exercise as therapy over the next week, and come back to you.
I am surrounded by chaos daily, often of my own creation. Certainly, in the last six months, all the contention in my life has come from me, self-creating it. That’s really not an optimal situation, when all is said and done. How, therefore, do I find a place to be myself, be true to what that actually means, without falling off the World whenever summat goes wrong?
That’s the question that’s been stalking me for decades. I realise, once the menopause stopped hormones from effectively dictating my mood once a month, that calm was possible. It became entirely feasible to spend long periods without a single depressed or angry thought. I did, for some time, sail happily through my life, until it was apparent that lots of other emotions had also… well, vanished.
Then my past decided it was time for an intervention.
Coming out of the other side of this, as is undoubtedly the case, is a little like the inner ear disorientation I get occasionally when water gets trapped in them or hay fever is particularly vicious. It’s obvious everything isn’t quite level, but it’s manageable. Only when something else comes along that eats up too much brain space does the whole thing have the propensity to collapse upon me.
That’s where I realise writing fiction filled an important hole in my subconscious, for probably two decades, without me ever grasping how important living ‘somewhere else’ had become in terms of equilibrium. It is also, and undoubtedly, the reason why escaping to places where I could better control the path of destiny became first a joy, and then a terror. All the bits fit into place. It’s slightly surreal knowing what you’ve done had a bigger point you never really grasped until… well, right now.
That means, like it or not, rediscovering myself in a way that is eerily similar to the period of my later teens and early twenties. Today’s revelation about regret comes on the back of a decent night’s sleep, and sore legs, because pushing through exercise right now is providing an incentive for so much else. I want to be fit, need to be capable of the fight that lies ahead, because it is.
I’m not surviving in a world of fear and anger if those emotions already destroy what little confidence I have already. It won’t be possible to be robust and effective as a partner and parent without finding the means to be objective over the longer term. These things will dictate the effectiveness of everything I do. Regret, therefore, has to be accepted, and lived with. It’s not ever something that mattered, until now.
Before I just pretended all the bad stuff never happened.
So, here I am. Once ‘work’ is done for the day I’ll be re-writing vanity fiction, having had a massive revelation last night over how the plot of this particular tale needs to progress. I’m genuinely looking forward to the task, if truth be told. There’s other stuff as well, but that’s for me to know and not talk about because, hey, you don’t need to know everything.
All that matters right now is enough to move this whole thing forward.
That thing about no pain? When the drugs finally wear off, and your body reminds you at 1am that yes, an Irishman literally yanked part of your body out of your jaw with pliers… that’s a new discomfort, but simultaneously it isn’t. There was sleep last night, but none of it particularly restful. That’ll start happening tomorrow, I hope. 48 hours after extraction is where an infection could appear. Cross everything it doesn’t.
For now, I’m surprisingly functional. It’s having tea back that helps.
Finally, a debt is paid. A week of writing time has been lost to dentistry, it can’t be brought back, and that means next week I gotta work extra hard. For now, it’s taken me three and a bit hours to get to this point in the blog post, because when there’s no recovery sleep and a FUCKING GENERAL ELECTION the plot is very easy to keep losing. At least there is that next cuppa, and if I make another one and then do some more work…
We’ll just bounce from moment to moment. It’ll be fine, and whatever happens today is not in my hands. That is tomorrow’s problem, and will be dealt with, one way or another.
Into the Inbox this morning dropped an email from those people who service my car, asking for a response regarding their most recent efforts. When the only answer you’re given to the question ‘would you recommend us to anyone else’ is yes/no, someone like me stops, thinks, and then deletes the e-mail. Forced to give an honest answer or there’s no point in using the feedback (no I wouldn’t) a box is then provided asking why and suddenly comes the realisation that this is not worth the effort.
It is not the fault of this high end, luxury car supplier that I feel intimidated even going there, that the second-hand, dirty car owned isn’t a lifestyle accessory but simply a container on wheels. They are not to blame for feelings of inferiority, that treating me like a valued and special customer is completely pointless. The only reason why this brand was chosen was reliability and the fact that once the car was finally sold, it would hold some residual value.
The fact remains, it will be great when there’s no more need to go there.
What broke the camel’s back and why my new car will not be from this group of people, was their horribly aggressive need to try and sell me a new vehicle that wasn’t required and could not be afforded. It got so bad I had to write physical mail asking for a cessation of the phone calls and promotional literature, as unsubscribing from their online mailing list had no effect at all. The upcoming change in data laws cannot have come soon enough. Of course, most of the discomfort is not their issue, and that’s why feedback is a complete waste of time for everybody.
However, this morning has given considerable pause for thought.
Feedback is only as good as the people who write it. More importantly, if your moral indignation at perceived wrong-doing isn’t based on genuine failings or faults, it can become potentially quite dangerous. In my case, the tech servicing my car left a piece of socket set in the engine cavity, which was only noticed when the car was at home, but the issue was dealt with professionally. I don’t want to point this out on a feedback form, because the tech was clearly stressed and upset at her failure, and doesn’t need it pointed out officially.
In this case deleting the request is, after considered reflection, the right course of action.
— 🌊 Sarah Creates : Shonky Gubbins 🌊 (@AlternativeChat) May 3, 2018
The cultivation of my Happy Place continues apace, and this weekend there’ll be some more visits to Garden Centres to see what else can be added to the space. The plan on Saturday is to clear out what passes for our tool store and chuck out/recycle all the rubbish within, and then see what other stuff is missing. Then, I hope to get a new recliner and spend some time outside, reading. That will be happening using real books, and none of this Kindle rubbish. There is no objection to electronic reading, oh no, but spending far too much time staring at screens already demands the use of physical media.
It really helps that this weekend will be the best weather for a while, though to be honest working outside continues to be a joy I’d not expected to appreciate as much as is now the case. It is about getting away from the normal run of words and responsibilities, to find a space where all that matters is relaxation and calm. These are the things that need work in life, and there is every intention to capitalise on the free time whenever it occurs.
Many women will celebrate the passing of Hugh Hefner. There is a variance in storytelling from those who have been or were a part of the man’s life to not totally believe the stories of excess: perhaps that the truth lies somewhere between the man as pimp or protector. Ethical porn is on the rise, sure, but let’s not be idiots. This man is almost the wellspring for a certain age and attitude to sex, type of desire that said it cared about women, was clearly lying yet was allowed to get away with it to sell another variant of American Dream. The truth, undoubtedly, is that Hefner made misogyny a saleable commodity. For many, this will be his greatest achievement of all.
I read Playboy at 14. On one of the first weekends where I was left alone in my parent’s house, I discovered my father’s stash of magazines with an almost disgusted amazement. The women’s pictures were oddly fascinating but it was the stories and articles that were more affecting: the man who impregnated his girlfriend with an increasingly larger selection of food and vegetables, a woman who wrote about her dominant/subversive relationship. My parents said nothing at all about anything sexual, I was given zero to no support with anything, with the exception of two ancient 1950’s pamphlets my mother shoved at me about menstruation. These magazines were a revelation.
Like it or not, this man defined several generations of socially acceptable (or not) behaviour.
It is only now with the benefit of time and understanding that I realise just how restrictive my early years were due to lack of education, and how they subsequently affected everything that happened in my 20’s and 30’s. You’d love to be able to go back and make better choices, but on reflection, all of this has worked out far better than I know is the case in other people’s lives. The Internet now may give an even more distorted view of sexuality to young people, but at least now it is not hidden in bedside table drawers and not spoken of. In that regard, freedom should be embraced as the next step forward. All we need to do now is teach people not to treat each other like dirt when relationships collapse and maybe, just maybe, there might be some notional progress.
I looked at all the women yesterday celebrating the death of a man who they never knew but who they had decided was responsible for their oppression and had pause for thought. Hefner is simply one of the larger metaphors for endemic societal failures. If it isn’t women being treated badly its children, or refugees or religious minorities. All of these are celebrated by some and condemned by others, and honestly, there is no difference. The key here is human beings considering others of their kind as objects, or acceptable casualties or even property. The one thing missing is respect: every time someone feels the need for reverence at this man’s passing, I throw up a bit in my mouth. You don’t celebrate people like this. You forget them.
History, I hope, will recall this man as the last of his kind, that after his passing it became socially unacceptable to use any human being as an accessory. The truth however is whilst generations of boys and men continue to celebrate his actions as being somehow heroic and nostalgic, nobody evolves. I may owe the man a nod thanks to that teenage discovery, but that magazine was not written for me and did not regard my sex as anything other than visual stimulus.
For that alone, I am glad to see the man finally gone.