The Sun Rising

DAY 2: I’ll just leave this here.

Sugar cravings are non-existent. Sleep patterns are a lot less fraught after a couple of weeks off the routine, but as I miss order so very much, and without it everything suffers, it is time to be up at approaching ‘normal’ before cracking on with the plan. Yesterday went fabulously well: poetry’s already scheduled to archive, I have a month’s worth of Motivation stacked and ready to post, Short Story is already ahead of the curve.

Today, we’ll see if we can’t get the YouTube stuff organised too, remake some website headers, before creating a ‘form’ for scheduling so that I can cut down on the massive number of PostIt notes and random pieces of paper required to make each new month happen. Call it being overly picky, or perhaps just wanting to be more environmentally sound… but it should be doable now. The routine is set, but can still be flexible.

HOPEFULLY this will assist in making weight loss and meal times less stressful. I have my first recipe ready to go. It was either a) safe with burgers or b) risky veg and YES I’M GOING FOR B because nothing changes when you’re safe. This is a line in the sand, and it will go on being pushed and redrawn, but it won’t be walked away from. I’ve wanted to do this properly for decades. It will happen.


TAL_start
The other promise is to my husband, who’s been pushing me for years to expand my mind via podcasts. I’ll be honest, there’s normally just not been enough brain-space to process stuff like this between everything else that’s upended mentally over the last few years. Now, however, I feel comfortable enough to give it a go. I’m listening to 2017 podcasts, starting today, then we’ll do last year so I’m caught up to current.

After that? We’ll take a trawl through the archives and see what looks interesting. I’ll be back to you on how it all goes.

Oh, and I’m gonna exercise later, because I haven’t lifted a heavy weight since Friday.

Beautiful Day

Not gonna lie, would rather be outside. Instead, BRB, seeing if the first 5k of this project is worth submitting.

Wish You Were Here

header71

Okay, I can positively attest that personal clarity and focus has returned to my brain after yesterday. The focal point came at about 4.30pm yesterday afternoon when I sat on the sofa and could feel an anaesthetic ‘fuzz’ almost pulling me to unconsciousness. There was an incorrect assumption that after three days I was shot of the worst of it, and that is was increasingly apparent what was needed was a return to ‘normal’ working hours as a matter of priority. This morning I could have gotten up and stayed up at 7am, but made the choice to go back for another 90 minutes. The benefits are already obvious, but I am still having to concentrate on focus. I can but hope that with the application of caffeine and enough time, this too will heal.

I can feel that happening now, rather bizarrely. My left wrist, belly button, upper chest are all tingling. The entry for instruments on my lower right hand side is no more now than a scar, not even bruised: it’s not counted as an injury. I’m still getting occasional tinnitus on waking and going to sleep, which says to me that maybe it’s not just ears but neck that could do with a poke, which I will bring up on Thursday when I see the surgeon. Half term starts Friday which is totally perfect timing, and the plan is to be back to ‘normal’ (as much as that is possible) for the first week of June. I’ve learnt an amazing amount about myself in the last six days, and I suspect there’s still a lot more to factor in.

runjackrun.gif

However, this morning my legs are really keen to do something. I can’t lift yet for another eight days, but nothing is stopping me being outside. Therefore, I’m already planning to go and eat lunch at the Gym today, and at least walk there for a drink every day this week. It’s a perfect short hop with two breaks in between, allows me to judge my levels of stamina, and stops me from going insane by being stuck inside. Plus, if I believe the weather forecast, I really don’t want to be stuck inside anyway. It will be glorious all week, and considering that I’ve been stuck in my own head for nearly a month now, getting outside needs to be a factor in the recovery process.

thisweek_weather

In fact, let’s get organised so I can get out and enjoy the day. Be warned, there will be Instagramming.

Words

arrivalposter.jpg

It’s been some time since a movie stopped me in my tracks, but last night (as our kids were with their Gran and Grandad) Mr Alt and I ‘rented’ Arrival. It’s probably the best six quid I’ve spent on a film for quite some time, and although it was almost frustratingly slow to start, on reflection the pacing was spot on. It’s also a VERY clever film in terms of its use of a Chinese character (who has a key and pivotal significance to the narrative) as has become the fashion of late for Hollywood. I won’t spoil it for you, because I really urge a watch if you’ve not done so: I guessed the ‘plot’ quite early on, and the signs on the roadmap to final understanding were subtle enough to make this hugely satisfying. My only objection is Renner’s casting as a physicist when all I can see him doing is firing arrows, but that’s my problem to fix and not anyone else’s.

What Arrival has now prompted in my mind is the understanding that language is a hugely subjective tool. There’s a key point in the narrative (which is referenced in the trailer and so won’t spoil you) where, in interpreting the Heptapod’s incredibly complicated, 3D written language, the word ‘weapon’ is used by the aliens with immediate and devastating effect. Crucially, it is immediately understood by Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) as a potential mistake: we are teaching aliens our language, and by doing so there is always the possibility that a word can be misinterpreted because of the way we misuse them ourselves. There’s a brilliant scene in the narrative that foreshadows this too: Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) is amazed that the first words that Banks will ‘teach’ are, in his mind ‘grade school’ and only when Louise explains exactly why it has to happen that way is it clear that learning to communicate without misinterpretation is one of the most complicated things we will ever do.

Social media, on any given day, is a perfect example of how that process can get mangled.

Language is a constantly evolving concept: words change meaning from generation to generation. What someone can consider a grievous insult others will laugh at as a clever pun, or an adroit use of definition, and the problem remains the interpretation of the individual. On social media however, there are other issues to consider. If, as has been the case in the past, I’m discussing something in one place with someone who’s reading about other people’s views in two other places, their frame of reference to mine is different, making their interpretation of the key issue inherently different. If all you did on Social media was have one to one conversations, an awful lot of miscommunication and offence would automatically vanish, but often several conversations will go on at once and in amongst this people are asked to make judgements, sometimes based on only a portion of the total facts available. When the definition of those words get mangled, then it can all go to hell very fast, and pretty much always does.

arguments

There is a great deal you can learn from discussion and debate, so much so your kids will be encouraged in school to do just that. My son has been incredibly brave in his admissions, my daughter is just beginning to find a voice which I hope one day will allow her to feel confident in her chosen career. Being comfortable enough to argue is great, but I’ll be the first one to admit that doing so in certain online spaces is a waste of both time and sanity. Even the most erudite of speakers, the most intellectual of human beings has the capacity to become a total imbecile when given half the chance, or the right poke from a Troll. On the flip side, branding a whole group of people as ‘deplorable’ doesn’t do wonders for your PR either. This is where the adage that ‘it takes two to start an argument’ is the mantra to repeat, and the Monty Python sketch on Arguments should be taught to every person who’s never heard it:

M: I came here for a good argument!

O: AH, no you didn’t, you came here for an argument!

M: An argument isn’t just contradiction.

O: Well! it CAN be!

M: No it can’t!

M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

O: No it isn’t!

M: Yes it is! ’tisn’t just contradiction.

O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!

M: Yes but it isn’t just saying ‘no it isn’t’.

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it isn’t!

O: Yes it is!

M: No it ISN’T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

This week therefore I’ll be doing my utmost to improve communication skills in places where I know they’re lacking. I’ll also remember that it matters just as much who I’m speaking to as what I say, and that a wise woman remembers this and plans accordingly.

Some days, the best thing to do is never to speak to begin with.

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…

Torchesandpitchforks2.gif

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.

fuckthiscape.gif

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.

Ready To Go

And so 2017 begins. I’m too old to be phased by this shit any more, and I sure as fuck know that making any sweeping promises on Day One is just asking for trouble when the month goes to double figures. Therefore, let us begin with the small and attainable goals, right here on the table.

whatdoIdo.gif

HEALTH

I could be out there in the rain, suffering for my art, but I don’t need that today. What is more important at this point is laying the foundations for the real, hard work moving forward. This requires me therefore to ignore all sugar, processed or otherwise, for at least a 14 day period so my body remembers what it’s like to burn fat again and not derive all its energy from tea and sweeties. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my PT who will ask me if I want to go full-on hard bastard in losing the last of my weight, to which I am going to say yes.¬†I’ve been running pretty much every other day since Christmas, and most days before, so this form of exercise no longer frightens or intimidates, and my chest is back to pre-infection levels. That means we’re going for it. I will need the cast iron will out, and to not give up because I’m tired and it’s hard.¬†YES I CAN DO THIS.

calligraphy

WORDS

Tomorrow I’ll send a sample of my words to a grown up who’s never met me and only knows me via Twitter, and we’ll see if I can begin a professional relationship with an Editor. The novel is now back in writing mode, with editing on the side. I’ve set myself a realistic timeframe to write a long-form essay, and I’m actively pursuing writing jobs. That means I have a CV now. Yeah, I’ve never owned one before, but that changed yesterday, and once husband takes a look at the last few edits, I’m going to start submitting job applications. Sadly, because I am not J.K Rowling, my writing career will not pay for itself on current subsistence levels:¬†summat has to change. So, I prove I’m capable of getting work, and I can maybe afford a luxury or two going forward. I’d dearly love a new PC, for instance, and that’s not happening any time soon. The only way I make progress is with sacrifice, and if that means less free time, so be it.

pizza.gif

FOOD

Here’s a heading I’d not have considered could get use¬†at the start of last year. Sure, I’ve cooked some things for myself before, but if you told me last month I’d be enjoying making my own breakfast the night before, I would have laughed at you.¬†In good news this is not about to transform into a foodie blog overnight, because I know how my bread is buttered (^^) and nope, this is not my future. It is however, a necessary part of the journey where I can see what goes into my body because I put it there.¬†I suspect there will be pictures, therefore, of what I do and how it¬†arrives at the state I serve it in. I don’t make any pretensions at being Mary Berry either. There will not be brilliant cake or superb meals from scratch. I’m reading everybody else’s crib notes whenever possible. However there are already the beginnings of a desire to experiment, and that’s no bad thing.

header62

PICTURES

I got a new Sony Digital camera for Christmas. I asked for it with one desire in mind, to walk around with the lovely retro¬†case my husband bought and show people that is what I’m doing. I’m taking pictures. I want to document the world around me better. One of the things I’ve done with the Mac Mini I use for mail and music is set my pictures from last year up as inspiration, to make me realise I don’t take a bad snap. I should use them as motivation¬†and that is certainly the plan going forward in January. There’s a ton of stuff from New York I’ve been staring at and been stimulated¬†by already. This will never be a bad thing.

new_profile

PERSONAL

Gonna try and post every day on Instagram, here and on the Warcraft blog. The writing one will get love too, but only when I’m finished with the workload. I might serialise summat again. There’ll be more non-fiction words there too. I’m getting more confident with personal pictures, and have changed my Instagram profile to reflect this. I love working in B&W. Need to smile more. Gotta be more confident in my ability to be capable. DEFINITELY need to run more and have a better waist. So much to do, and always so little time.


Better get on, then.

This is Mine

I’m lying in bed, having coughed and sniffed a tun of green goo out of my body, and the temptation to stay right here is immense, especially as there are no kids to look after. I’m terrible at taking care of myself, when all is said and done. It would be simpler, surely, just to turn over and go back to sleep. Then, looking through social media I see a series of things that make me realise that actually, the last thing I want to be doing is lying down.¬†Then, I ask the question: given the choice, where would you want to be right now?¬†Given the choice between nothing, gaming or exercise, which one would win as relaxation?

The answer was, I have to say, a pleasant surprise, and that’s why as soon as this is written I’ll be off to the Gym, confident I am no longer infectious. In a straight race, exercise now beats gaming as what I’d do to relax,¬†and that’s something that might take some getting used to.

no_fate_but_what_we_make

NaNoWriMo’s starting on Tuesday, and I’ll be committing to screen¬†a story that has lived in my head for some time, which is wrapped around the notion that fate isn’t a constant: the Sarah Connor belief that life is doomed because the future has dictated it only true if you allow it to be. There should be no fate but what we make, but the reality of this and so much else is a long way from the cinematic pronouncements. For me, I could succumb to a day of lounging and faffing, but the reality now is that to keep moving forward, I have to do just that. In fact, if I stop it’s probably more dangerous now than it has been at any point in the recent past. I’ve dosed myself up with drugs, and because I can still breathe reasonably well there is nothing stopping me being on a treadmill and lifting weights. Once upon a time I would have felt sorry for myself, but that person’s not making the decisions any more.

The New Me is in control, and understands the importance of moving forward.

tractordonuts

However much fun gaming is (and it is) that is no substitute for health. I watch those who complain that even gaming is too much work, and wonder how these individuals function on a daily basis. For me, at least right now, forward motion is no longer a list of things on a screen. It is knowing I clocked 12k steps on a day when I wasn’t badly ill, I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself. Ironically, were it not for being ill yesterday, deciding to stay home and writing, I suspect this epiphany wouldn’t have happened.¬†I finally finished the Bondfic,¬†all 77k words of it, and now that is done I can look at the understanding that if I really do put my mind to words, magnificent things can and do happen. This gives me not only hope for NaNoWriMo, but the future generally. There is a way to do everything I want, if I allow myself the space to breathe, and I’ve only learnt to do that properly thanks to the exercise.

Going forward, I am beyond excited for the possibilities.

Seeing Things

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like doing things by halves. Most definitely, I am an all or nothing girl. I totally grasp the notion of devotion too: the number of times I’ve fallen in love with people/ideas/inanimate objects and never had it reciprocated? Too many to count.¬†When you play fast and loose with emotional favours, after a while you begin to grasp this sort of odd objectivity at how the process works. Allowing yourself to totally embrace someone or something is great, as long as you can see the entire thing being presented. In the case of rock star devotion (as a decent example) it is very easy just to be seduced by¬†the onstage presence of your idol and not understand anything about the person behind the ‘image.’ If that person’s a total twat in reality? It is probably wise you don’t know a lot of the other stuff, but being blinded by almost total devotion to the person won’t ever end well.

Undoubtedly you’ll end up with your heart broken.

craig_point_cowboys.gif

I’m writing a set of essays for the fiction¬†site, and as I try and get the first one completed, the¬†subject of the inaugural¬†letter keeps taunting me, not unlike his GIF above. You see, my idea of ‘devotion’ has altered quite a lot since my teens, and I can’t help but think that¬†I’ve done myself a massive disservice in the last few years in how I subconsciously ‘attach’ myself to the idea of certain people’s personas. Having written two pieces of fiction with Bond at their centre, I’ve now come to the conclusion I fell in love with the character first.¬†It has been the ability of the leading actors to maintain that attraction over the years that matters far more than the individuals¬†themselves, and that revelation came as something of a surprise. I understand now that the visuals presented and the character portrayed are very different constructs, when it comes to forming the notion of devotion with both. Daniel Craig’s the first Bond I’ve actually considered as an actor BEFORE the character, and I think it is a measure to his ability and application to profession¬†that there’s a redefinition in my mind of how this entire process works.

That’s no mean feat, and grants considerable kudos in my mind to the man himself.

ziegler.gif

When you start subconsciously associating actors with roles, it does the individual a massive disservice, it occurs to me. That means that however varied and brilliant a career that person has, all anyone ever remembers on their passing is the most popular role. Even if this¬†is at odds with what they really were away from the cameras, that becomes¬†their epitaph.¬†‘They were probably best known as X in the production of Y’ might be great for your five minutes of fame in the blip of Human existence, but¬†in the end living the life they had well should probably matter more, plus not just what happened in front of the camera. Here’s where things get really interesting from a writing point of view, that so many of the familiar faces and names of the last 100 years weren’t paragons of virtue, bore little or no resemblance to the characters that they became synonymous with. Yet still people don’t see past the image in their own minds. These people remain¬†heroes, despite that being a long way from the truth.

hotdinner.gif

Then you get wildcards: the ex-addicts, reformed alcoholics¬†and those who struggle with mental illness.¬†Everybody loves a second chance, can use the lessons of their own lives and apply them to heroes they see on screen. The actress who yo-yos between fat and thin. The Woman who divorces her husband with grace, or strings him by the balls for being unfaithful. Magazines are full of gossip and salacious titbits from the rich and famous to allow us as mere mortal a chance to compare and contrast. All of this devotion to¬†other’s fallibility teaches us the merit of thought and application in our own lives. Forgiveness matters too, yet few people grasp the significance of the emotion. How long is appropriate penance for the lover scorned? If you fall off the wagon, was it simply inevitable? If you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur does the birth of a daughter really alter your¬†entire world view?

Sometimes, questions will never be answered when your heroes need to remain just that.

warlords1

The one thing I’ve learnt, and that is consistently apparent in whatever sphere I happen to be hanging in at any given point? People have very short memories.¬†If something’s hugely popular, you’ll be back on the bandwagon whilst conveniently forgetting the reason why you jumped off. That’s fine, and as long as you’re lining the pockets of the people making the product, they don’t care either, whether that be movies, TV or gaming. Except eventually comes a realisation that if you want to make product with the widest possible scope and remit, you can’t have narrow minded, sexist and diversity-unfriendly heroes as your spokespeople. The way forward is with those who are prepared to embrace the fact they’re not actually the heroes either, that this is just a part being played and a job to be done. What you need isn’t personalities, but an ethos, and if you cannot change with the times? You’re in trouble.¬†I suspect that’s why there won’t be a Bond 25 announcement this year because Eon Productions realise just how important Daniel Craig has become to the franchise’s evolution. Without a clear successor on the table either, maybe there’s more than just a male lead character to worry about going forward.

Devotion sometimes is the last thing you need to inspire in your fan base.

The Test

I’m behind today, but not so far that this will cause issue. I should be doing stuff in a different order too, but for now I’m playing fast and loose with responsibility, because I can and it’s a lovely position to be in. Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about realistic expectations, because I’m terrible at them and keep giving myself more work to do when what I should be doing is concentrating on getting my own shit done first.

2000yearslater

Guilt is a powerful motivator. However there comes a point where you grasp that effort is never going to realistically match up to reward. When this happens, that’s normally the moment to be tough with yourself: what is worth more?¬†Are you here to impress other people with your l33t skillz or is it more about a sense of satisfaction with the stuff you produce? I find myself now realising that the temptation is to just keep chucking myself into project after project because it seems like the right thing to do, when actually what would be more sensible is to step back for a bit and do nothing.¬†One of my biggest issues in the past couple of years was the grief I got when I committed to a project that was never completed (and remains so, as it happens) because it ended up being far more than I¬†could personally cope with.¬†Now I am beginning to grasp the significance of committing myself to endeavours that simply cannot be done alongside everything else.

In fact, I’m sitting here now, looking at the time leading up to Christmas, and realising that if I want to move forward, stuff is already going to have to be sacrificed.

shawshank

Once upon a time I think this would have been a lot harder for me because I don’t know sometimes how to say no to other people, or indeed myself. However the benefit of age and experience is definitely beginning to tell. This time around, I will head myself off at the pass. The people I need to speak to I think will understand my reasoning better, mostly because I will make sure I explain it to them sufficiently and clearly. The only way I break out of my own prison of failure is to address the mistakes that are made, time and again, and put each one to rest. This one is a biggie: I need to stop creating unrealistic expectation for myself.

What matters most, right now, is a correct sense of proportion.

Yesterday

Today will soon be tomorrow. When that happens, have you done enough? Did you justify your existence with merit? What do you have to show for 24 hours spent? Are you angry? Is this fatigue that drags you down? Do you wish and regret the moments passed?

Too many questions, not enough answers and the problem becomes remarkably clear.

You make each day what you wish, away from circumstance and obligation. A car trip can be mundane if allowed, but inject some new music or even speech into the moment and it is transformed. A Universe awaits those without fear, just add imagination to continue. Make the moment expand and blossom in your hand. Release your heart and feel the instant embrace you, seduce with endless possibility. Let head run the show, not just prompts from a tired and sullen body.

Find your whole, and release the soul.

The Internet is full of such instruction, and nobody’s listening. Advice is glossed, smoothed over for ease of living. Too hard every day to keep fighting, just give in, except the days when defeat is your constant are the darkest and most painful. When you can stand in the light, drag yourself there. Force and push yourself to victory. Find¬†a way, every day, to return to the happiest place you can. Let go of the baggage, carry only what matters. Declutter your brain, accept you cannot do everything.

Find the means to liberate your existence.