You Wear It Well

This week has changed the game plan. A lot of that has to do with knowing I’m not happy with other people’s handling of mass participative events as someone with historic anxiety issues. Forget for a moment about all the other potential mental complications involved in next week’s Ride London, it’s all about knowing I’m uncomfortable in this situation on my own. Decisions need to be made best on previous experience and best principles.

Taking both of these things into consideration, everything is going to be better off for the next couple of weeks without that pressure. Part of the issue before has been the misguided conception that by entering something, I am then obliged to see it through to the end. This is no longer about commitment or expectation. We have entered the realms of what matters to me, finally, for the first time in many decades. I say this is not a priority now. There are more important things to do.

Let’s get on with it.

Broken Wings

Yeah, I was right. Boxing is a game changer. Talking to different people is a game changer, as is giving yourself to your peers with no desire for reward. Some real truths were vocalized for the first time this morning too, which were previously very much not touched for very good reason. Knowing what you are is all well and good, but actually coping with that is something very different indeed. All of this will now undoubtedly result in a significant mental change in the Bagging Area.

Therefore, going forward, we will ensure that things are done is as much of a timely fashion as is possible. Some days, I will be late, and there will be less apologizing at the time. Sometimes, shit just happens and that’s that. There will however be absolutely no apologies for anyone or anything who thinks it’s okay to either belittle or do harm to the progress I have made. I see you, and it’s not happening. I do not need your support if it is laced with caveats or benefits you before me.

We are either in this equally or you can fuck right off.

Manic Monday

Day One Proper of my Big Advocacy Gig went off largely without a hitch. I am really having to work rather hard now to concentrate on writing sentences, however, which probably means that a cheeky nap is in my future. The amount of anxiety generated by trying to be someone who looks both focussed and organized is equal to ten times the normal expended energy output. It is a tough ask, even now, to play the part of someone who’s not panicking internally all the fucking time.

However, it is having an effect. People are listening, and conversations are being started, but as this is only Week One of Twelve, I probably need to do something about better management of my feelings. Also, really, will need more sleep than I’m currently managing. I’m not sure why that is either, but it isn’t about the amount of work I’m doing, that is certain. Once this week’s stress over making video wears off, we’ll be in a better place.

I have one out of seven done, and if a nap is secured later, we’ll make that three before the end of the day. The video is all finished and planned, just have to record audio and do the construction work. You’ll see them in a week, which is Mental Health Awareness Week. I hope I can make every one a part of a cohesive, narrative journey.

A Change is Gonna Come

May was always going to be important for me. There is a LOT changing in my life, new skills and ideas coming to the fore, and this will be the month when that INFJ-T in my Twitter profile also comes into its own. Everyone has something they need to do away from their normal plans and routines. Advocacy is mine. I always tell myself you can’t change everything, but there are most definitely parts of the world that you can. This is the moment. This is my time.

If it can co-incide with a period of general growth and consolidation, so much the better. I have a 10km run and a 30-mile bike ride on closed roads to factor into the equation. There are some very important poetical events taking place too: my first ever legitimate book launch event of a poem in an anthology. I’ll be reading again with my favourite venue hosts, who are expanding into print over the Summer… and I’m involved :D

All things considered, this is going to be a month when everything changes. Once upon a time, I’d have viewed that with trepidation and fear: not any more. This is my future, slowly coming into view, and to be quite honest I would rather not have it any other way. Life is all about adapting to change and being mindful of how you must always be listening and growing. I never used to take stuff like this seriously, either. A lot has changed in 5 years.

Still Alive

We managed two days, and then Friday happened with probably the most important thing of my professional career thus far, as the flashpoint. Therefore, I forgive my slip up and am both kind and understanding to myself. It always takes time to re-establish a new system. I am notoriously shit at doing it too, this should never be a surprise. We will regroup, and start again.

There is a phenomenal amount of Stuff happening. I had someone ask for a bio yesterday for a Poetry Submission I’m reasonably certain no-one actually told me I’d been successful in. That’s a new one, and I have absolutely no idea exactly how many poems that means were accepted from my original document. Everyone around me seems to be either starting a journal or a publishing press. It’s proper bonkers, but in the best possible way.

I have my own plans. They are still in the planning stages, but will be reasonably awesome. Or, at least, I hope they will be. The end result will use sharing, video and audio, because these are all things I can use and be comfortable with now. Also, it’s cheaper than renting out a venue, and my audience potentially is 5 billion people. What’s not to like about that?

Watch this space.

Yesterday

It’s taken me just over a month to get to see a Doctor, who then asked me why I’d not come to see him sooner, at which I burst into tears and explained to him that his own fucking staff are the problem. They asked me if I’d like to fill in a complaint form, at which I replied there was no point, because if it took that long to get here, I’d probably be waiting a year for an apology. The NHS might be great, but it is really very broken. Some of it is bad management, but occasionally some of it is people.

I need to record some audio tonight, and to do that I need to have actual poetry to read. I will make a script.

Then, after that, it is time to address the backlog.

Start

It’s a new week! I’ve been out AGAIN! I went actual shopping and everyfink and there’s clothing for the first time in eighteen months. If it is useful for anything, it’s finding bra tops that aren’t actual bras with clasps that a) fit my peculiar body shape and b) are actually comfortable. This bra, I’m wearing now, is both. Welcome to the Future, boobies.

Yes, I KNOW I should have done this yesterday, but other stuff ended up mattering more.

It’s all a delicate balancing act…

Watching the Wheels

Monday, quite honestly, about a THOUSAND YEARS AGO.

This week has been everything I said it would be. Stuff is done, more stuff is submitted, and I have a proper plan of action for next week already taking form. There’s extra Patreon work at the weekend (two extra videos for the end of the month) but I am planning to get a LOT done tonight and tomorrow. The lie-in is beginning to look particularly attractive tomorrow morning too. Been a long week of RL stress, on top of everything else. The poetry however has been fucking glorious.

In fact, this is the gift that keeps on giving.

I have a lot to read going forward. I also have a plan about how I do it. Both of these things are connected, and it will be glorious. Then there are plans to play with poetry in other forms. On that front, I need to go look at some stuff on the Internet…

Day One :: Essex to Dijon

I’ve never driven across Europe before. When my husband suggested a trip (in his newly bought van) with the kids, it seemed like a good idea. On reflection it might have been smarter to wait a day after having completed a bike race, but you live and learn. Today was the ‘get miles between us and the UK’ section of proceedings: ferry from Dover, and then a drag across the eastern part of France heading south to Dijon.

France is one huge place, and there are wind farms everywhere. The road signs celebrate amazing places that you never see at the roadside: they’re hidden behind hills, or stuck on mountains. Parts of the drive today reminded me of California, except there’s no palm trees. It is incredibly hot at present, and sitting here in a hotel room (US President Wilson may have slept here, I need to check the validity of the statement) with no air conditioning, I wonder if this is normal.

This would be a fantastic place to visit, but we’re simply passing though, and that now seems like a bit of a shame. I’d love to explore the mix of ancient and modern, and spend some time poking around this part of the world, but tomorrow we’ll be gone, as we have 600 km to cover to make it into Italy by Tuesday evening. Sometimes, you need to turn down the small victories to get to the big prize. That’s in two days, and that makes this stop worth just passing through.

The Same Old Song

I made my first visit to the USA in 1994. It was arranged, I will happily admit now, using the X Files USENET group. This involved a round trip from a town near Boston to New York, via State College to Washington DC. What happened in 10 days is a story I will save for another day because it involved trusting people that, looking back on the journey, I’d have never in a million years been involved with were I planning to do this today. They were undoubtedly simpler times back then and I was naive enough in my 20’s to believe people might just want to meet me as a friend. The truth, on reflection, was anything but.

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The last seven days, for those of us who have lived online since USENET in the 1990’s, has been pretty much par for the course, all told. However, there is a whole new group of people who are discovering that if they thought modern politics was a swamp worth draining, then the Internet right now’s a nightmare they may not really be prepared to even adequately grasp.

Watching ‘normal people’ grasp 4chan, Reddit or even the depths that Twitter can sink to has only come about because the President of the United States speaks more to his elected populous here than anywhere else. Twitter has effectively become the ‘free speech’ platform used by Government (and not just the US version) in an attempt to lie, discredit and derail anyone who decides that its not doing the right thing. As a tool for good however, it is undoubtedly a massive boost to anyone who needs their message heard. This jungle may be a step up from the swamp, but remains fraught with potential pitfalls. As the adage goes, ‘what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet,’ often for decades after the fact. That means, if I so desired, I could go pull up my lame-assed attempts at early fiction, affiliation to a number of other fandoms, failed relationships with several people I hope never to see ever again… and so on.

When you live your life ‘online’ there are consequences. I’ve done a lot whilst existing here since those early days and so, I suppose, I accept that if you live a certain way, there’s just things you don’t do. Last week a friend (you’ll see his tweet a bit later) pointed out that George Takei (you know, that bloke from Star Trek) broke one of these cardinal rules last weekend and swiftly paid the price. If you ask a question and you don’t get the answer you wanted, the last thing to do is try and pretend it never happened. In fact a sane person will grasp that perhaps their view of the World isn’t as black and white as it at first appeared. In this case however, someone famous online made a mistake and instead of standing up and admitting that, they simply chose to pretend it never happened, and that’s just asking for trouble in a social network that never sleeps.

It was a tiny storm in a massive teacup, but made me stop and think. Almost 69,000 votes and in the sphere of Twitter that Takei functions within (I imagine social media as tons of overlapping circles, like a mahoosive Venn diagram with multiple points of overlap) the split was 49/51. If he wanted a landslide to confirm his opinion it wasn’t going to happen, because there’s an awful lot of very disenfranchised people online right now. Clearly expecting a different result, the poll was deleted, and that’s NEVER what you do online. Even I know that rule, but I didn’t realise there are others that not only exist, but are being handed out quite early on that you’re never going to find in any number of guides to the Internet given out by schools or even parents.

Thanks to @IrishBites, I now have a better understanding of how the Internet is altering to accommodate differing groups of people. I’m also aware that a subset of this group (who are referred to in the original article above as ‘The Deplorables’) were responsible for mobilising social media and, at least in part, can be considered a significant force behind allowing That Man to be elected as President. It occurs to me that a different subset was probably instrumental in Brexit, and when you grasp the influence Social media now has on daily lives and big decisions, it is time to sit up and take notice of the power it wields. For those wishing to cause trouble, rules should not be of significance, but amazingly they are. In fact, once you grasp how this game is played it becomes incredibly simple to grasp how those who don’t think before they act can not only be tripped up but ensnared by their own good intentions:

Remember that press conference after the Presidential Inauguration where Mr S. Spicer used pictures to prove that there were more people attending than the ‘popular’ press suggested was true? That incident could almost have been an Anonymous ‘shitpost’ following every single guideline listed here. The suggestion that arguing with trolls is pointless to begin with is the ultimate win state, of course, because you were the one stupid enough not to think of that before you posted. The true Troll knows when to pick up on weakness and to avoid the fight they will never win. That’s why you’ll see people try to attack certain figures but soon give up, because if you know your own failings and won’t allow others to exploit them, they have no power over you and never will. Ultimately, trolls win when you give them the ammo.

‘Roasting’ has become the new social benchmark for who wields real power, the ‘Thread!’ cry a means by which any idea can find an instant audience without the need to own either domain or website, and Twitter itself has somehow evolved away from what it would clearly like to be in the eyes of the business people who created it, namely Facebook only more profitable. However, I’m betting Zuckerberg would happily sell the remaining portion of his soul to have That Man using his social media platform as a means to practice Government, seemingly unrestricted on a world stage. It is no wonder that 1984’s getting a showing in US cinemas when you have a man effectively dictating what will happen in a country, via a platform with a worldwide audience.

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Except, true reality is not just online, or the ‘version’ of events you choose to consume. Reality is hard work, takes a lot of thought, and understanding that most individuals simply don’t possess. It’s not an insult, but might be if you’re easily offended by truths. The real story behind your 140 characters is a little of the shitpost, a dash of personal need, the slightest sprinkling of conspiracy theory. To understand what really goes on requires concentration and consideration, not confirmation bias. You are not right every time, and your beliefs might matter to you but not for others. In all of this, there is a space to find for each person that allows reality to present what are intractable truths, and it is those that should shape any movement forward. The Clown in the White House is like the Bad Magician in Downing Street: all smoke and mirrors, simply distraction from inescapable facts. This planet cannot sustain us at our current selfish rates of consumption. EVERYONE is equal: not under anybody’s God, but at a basic level of DNA. Race, sex and birth are irrelevant. 

Greed in all forms condemns everyone’s existence to ruin unless change happens NOW.

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I tell you what you do, Jen. Think before you post. Realise that ‘truth’ means more than a set of points on a graph. Be nicer to people, and stop assuming it is all about you, me, or anybody else. Accept fate, and let go of anger. Let nothing surprise you, and be willing to accept everything as ‘normal’ for at least somebody. In effect, that shitty set of internet rules are, like it or not, a decent way to conduct your existence, and having everyone follow a basic set that doesn’t mean that one group can profit off anybody else is, like it or not, a pretty sound way forward. Yeah, we need to make money to survive, but how about if you have more you give it to those who don’t once in a while, just to see how that goes. This is not difficult or complicated, yet it has become the hardest thing to do. Stop having an ego, and allowing it to be bruised, and just live your life as if each day were your last because you know what? At the current rate of stupidity we’re all experiencing, that might yet turn out to be the case.

I can’t change the world, but I can change myself. If we all did even a bit of that, what might that be able to achieve long term?