May 6, 2013
I think change is a beautiful thing. I’d hate to be stuck in the same pattern and denied variation.
August 14, 2012
Danuta Kean, Mslexia's Guest Editor, has no need for a hammer. Her recent article on how women cope with working, parenting, earning enough to get by and then finding the time to write should be read by anyone who thinks writing is easy but most of all, by those who profit from writers, especially women writers who weild their pens. But something bothers me.
A significant demographic of writers female, male, gender neutral, transient – the lot – are missing. And as a disabled writer, I'm missing too.
Most of my readers know I was diagnosed with Fibromylgia / M.E. / CFS a couple of years back but have lived with it for over four. I'm lucky to have not been confined to a wheelchair like some people who live with the condition, but I have my regular share of days confined to bed because it's too painful to move and exhausting to breathe.
I read Danuta's article, thrust my fist in the air … and then slowly drew it back down as pain ricocheted from my elbow, down my arm to my fingers, and back up to my shoulder and into the blades of my back. The pain touched every bit of my arm on its journey: nerve, muscle, ligament, joint, bone.
If women feel guilty for not coping as well as they should, then I, along with every other writer out there who lives with ill health, feel twice as guilt-ridden. Not all of us can break through and earn our way.
Kudos to those who do storm the path by the way. You're an inspiration.
I haven't written for days because I'm riddled by my condition. How do I cope with that? I don't. I shut everything off and forget about writing and finishing my novel. I would trade a hectic lifestyle and all-nighters for the briefest of feature articles if it meant I could slip in an hour or so of writing, free from pain and sickness. It feels as much of a dream as my novel does.
So I want to know, if you're like me, how do you cope? How do you get through the day with your illness? How do you react to being told not to let it beat you when you feel like a thousand leagues of shit has been beaten from you?
Women writers are pulling it off one way or another and I reckon they deserve proper recognition and space for that, but so do all of the writers out there, published or unpublished – famous or not – who live with long-term physical and mental illness.
At least recognise us.
I want to continue typing after I'm done here but the pain and the tiredness and the effort is too much for me today. Maybe tomorrow it will be better, for all of us.
July 12, 2011
I thought I was overdue for a winding, miserable post, so here it is.
I’ve probably said it before but there’s only so much smiling and ‘happy-happy’ I can do before I want to drop the facade and do something out-of-character. A lot of people will tout inner peace and personal responsibility, blah-blah, and so they should. Those things are good. My gripe, the cynic that I am, lies in the obvious problem with this type of thinking.
Inner peace is all fine and dandy but why neglect the world outside of that ‘inner-ness’? I think, no wait – I know – that real happiness comes from not just our attitudes but also from our surrounding circumstances. What good is a warm, cosy feeling in the bottom of your gut when you’re in an unhappy relationship? Does serenity alone really negate constant disappointment?
I suppose it could be said that being in a better state of mind when going through those things helps but how long can they hold for? The environment finds its way in eventually.
I try to adapt. I try to change my circumstances where I can. I put up with the things that I can’t do anything about (at the moment). How long do I have to wait for these things to bear me fruit?
And here’s the emo tag.
I’m without a voice, still, despite everything I’ve done to grow one. But you have a voice here, you say.
And who hears it?
Who listens to me when I express concern, anxiety, frustration, or my desire to do things my way?
Only the people who tell me to smile and do it their way.
But having the attitude I have, I’m optimistic that I’ll break free of all this tripe of my own accord.
July 22, 2010
Journalists are at the bottom of the trust heap, along with politicians in general and the government. Research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2009 showed that 72% of the 2,000 adults asked ‘do you think these professionals tell the truth or porkies’, believed the humble media scribe to be a big-time bullshitter.
Surprised? I’m not, and here’s why…
I was amused, slightly shocked, but mostly amused by a tweet thrown up (vomited) by Sky News when the Goldtrail firm collapsed earlier last week:
Are you caught up in the Goldtrail travel firm collapse? Please email Sky News…
… so that we may exploit your misery for our own profit and gain bwahahahahahaaaaa!
Ok so they didn’t say that part, but it does make you wonder why it’s so important that journalists know everything that is happening everywhere.
In the case of Sky News, I guess it has something to do with beating the competition, mainly BBC News. I saw another tweet this week where there was an 11 minute gap between the BBC and Sky posting the same breaking news. No prizes for guessing who got to the pie first…
It still makes me think however, that journalists are some of the least trusted because they’re, well… leeches. As has been proven by Sky News. If I found myself stuck in a similar situation, I’m not sure how I’d react to being suddenly idolised for my misfortune.
For example: if I were involved in a catastrophic event, I’d most likely punch the first journalist who ran up to me and asked me what happened:
what the hell do you think has happened, buddy?! The gas main running under this street just exploded and blew half the soddin’ village into the adjacent county!!! *thump*
Perhaps my bemusement has something to do with the fact that I can’t always relate to sticky events or fully understand their magnitude at least until a week or so has passed. Perhaps it’s because I don’t complain immediately. There’s a certain amount of confrontation needed when you start moaning about something straight after it has occurred. I don’t like confrontation so I tend to avoid it like people avoid sitting next to the person on the train who looks like they’re carrying the Ebola virus.
The other thing that gets me about journalists, and it’s something I know is a huge and idiotic faux pas to make, is when something happens, good or bad, and the first thing out of their mouths is:
how do you feel?
The recipient of the question could have just been dragged from a six metre deep hole in the rubble after an earthquake, covered in dirt and cuts. They’re sobbing. Oh, I wonder how they feel… Can you imagine (yes, imagine here) what the England team would have said if they’d won the World Cup?
The point is, being asked how you feel when it’s evident how you’re feeling is liable to make you hate the idiot who asked you that question.
Journalists aren’t doing themselves any favours; between asking stupid questions, feeding off the misery of others, plugging the same stories of death, destruction and suffering over and over, writing things inaccurately (or just blatantly lying as Ange and Brad have found), and deeming the death of another soldier ‘breaking news’, they’re not giving us any reason to trust them. Or like them. Or believe a word they say.
I recently got back into reading the headlines. That fad lasted a couple of days because I got so depressed at what was being thrust at me over Twitter, I contemplated chaining a bunch of rocks to my waist and wading off into the river at high tide. I wonder if you could bring a claim against the media for perpetuating mental illness…
This world is a horrific place because
- we make it horrific through bad deeds, selfishness and ignorance
- we don’t perceive it to be anything other than awful, and that’s how we report it to be
- we can’t think positively long enough for it to take effect
- we give up
At the risk of sounding like a sentimental and maladjusted idealist, I’d like to see more reports on things that are good about life. And I don’t mean token human interest stories that are all gooey and have weird novelty value, like bald men doing a fun-run wearing custard pants to raise money for a duck crossing in their local village. I’ll tolerate stories of badgers and goldfish becoming life-long companions because that shows us that difference is cool, but isn’t so big a deal as to prevent genuine connections between the seemingly incompatible.
I’d like to see more news about successes in saving the planet, advances in medicine that don’t linger on the desperation for eternal youth/life, technology that works in harmony with nature instead of trying to replace it, groups of teenagers who are proving the myths wrong and contributing positively to their community.
Globalised news may keep us in the loop, but I think it stops us from living fuller lives, happier ones at that. Yes, good stories require challenges, adversity and even tragedy, but the British media has taken that bit way too far. I’m surprised they have any followers left. Or friends for that matter.
May 12, 2010
I must be a complete mug because it seems that my efforts regularly come up against people who just don’t give a toss. Of course this doesn’t mean that I’ll give up and resign myself to sitting here bitching about all those who have failed to follow through on a request, because that isn’t very nice (and in these dark days, expressing any form of disgust or unhappiness is a cardinal sin, punishable by complete social ostracization).
Instead, I thought I’d explore this little matter in a way this is as non-specific as possible. Here’s the scenario:
You arrange something, open communications, execute your intent with clear language, outline your ideas and plans. You answer questions, propose ways to overcome problems. You do all of this and you’re quick about it – the recipient will have to wait three days max for a reply.
There are things sitting neatly on a line here, like a bunch of starlings crowding together on the telephone cables.You’ve done your bit and now you wait.
Honestly. Is it really that difficult to get back to me? I spend a decent amount of time planning emails and phone calls – phone calls especially because I hate them so – and then I find that nobody gives a damn. I’ll be lenient for those who are actually quite busy and may not have time to reply, but when I hear nothing for over two weeks after telling the person that I’ll be in touch via email within 2-3 days, I kinda expect them to maybe, oh I don’t know, check their email? Or – they could pick up the phone and call if they’re having an uncomfortable day with technology.
Sometimes a quick message to say that they’ve received the communiqué and will get back to me a.s.a.p. is a nice gesture that goes a long way. It shows they’ve bothered to fulfill their employment description and that they might actually care.
Perhaps the reason why people fail to get back to you after such a long time is down to sheer embarrassment. A week has passed, they’ve been meaning to get round to it but there have been dozens of distractions. Maybe they didn’t understand the initial message or have changed their mind. That’s all OK. Really. Just write back explain the distractions, the confusion, the change of mind. Disappointment may follow but at least you’ve done the right thing. That’s right – you’ve done your job.
I want to hold up my side of the bargain most of the time. If I don’t want to do something, then I’ll say so. It’s simple. You open that mighty hole in your face and say ‘I’m not interested’ or ‘This isn’t something I want to do’.
I’m not obliged to go through with any of the things I’m trying to manage at the moment. I could very easily drop everything and declare myself inaccessible to all. Come to think of it, that sounds really appealing. However, I don’t want to do that just yet. I’d like to get the major things sorted out. And more importantly, I’d like to approach the people who have ignored me for the past month and ask them why.
Even if I get incoherent answers or a bunch of excuses, making them feel dreadfully uncomfortable as I stare them down and demand an apology for wasting my time will make up for all the agro.
April 16, 2010
I’ve been thinking over the past few days about anonymity. Very few people are able to exercise this remarkable feat, even if they’re dead.
You could be one of the most unacknowledged people on the planet, and there would still be something on you, somewhere. For example: the never-contacted-before Envira Indians existing near the Peru border in Brazil who were photographed in May 2008. Never heard of them. Never knew they existed. But now there’s something on them.
I often look over the blogs I keep, my email, twitter, Facebook and think: why the hell am I exposing myself like this? I’ve no real desire for recognition, nor do I hold social networking particularly high in regard, but I often have something to say and that’s probably the only reason why I haven’t erased my identity from the internet. As far as is possible to erase.
Note: I wonder what will happen to all of these efforts when I’m dead…
I’ve got a fair bit to say sometimes but I’m aware that not many people take the time to listen and I don’t especially care. It only takes one person to listen and then it’s up to them to decide what to do with the things I’ve said.
I more or less have reasonable control of my presentation and representation in the material I directly publish about myself on the internet but I have virtually no control when having to relinquish my personal details to say, Amazon or my general practitioner.
Amazon pays attention to my browsing history and tempts me with similar items whilst the doctors don’t do much of anything except sit quietly with my details until another body contacts them and requests information. With my consent of course.
And this is where it begins to bug me.
Does consent even mean anything?
I have to fill in a CRB disclosure form, like most people, in order to breathe. I also need to apply for a passport to prove my identity beyond a shadow of a doubt. And it’s not even that now, is it? Not after recent events where it was shown that passports can be successfully made on a fraudulent and sophisticated basis.
I was under the impression that passports were to enable travel and free movement. Now they’re a fallible form of identity.
I have no choice but to give my consent for private information about me to be passed from one party to another. Sure, I can deny this consent but then that suspends my rights.
Perhaps I’m being far too cynical here but I can clearly see that by not disclosing my mental health to a potential employer, the said employer can, if they so wished, release me from my position with relative ease and no obligation to help or support me if I suddenly go off the deep end. I have to tell but I don’t really want to. Why?
Because sometimes, it’s nobody’s damned business.
This is the crux of my irritation. Why do so few have the right to know so much about my private life but I have no right to protect myself from them? Not without sacrificing my civil rights at the same time.
Disclosure isn’t for my own protection. It’s for interested parties to keep tabs on and exploit.
January 21, 2009
I’m far too young to be looking back at significant points in my life and deciding that they were a waste of time. I’m also too apathetic to care about whether or not casting off the relatively green wisdom of those moment will have complex implications at a later date.
Having spent the majority of life in my own head, happily oblivious to the outside world, you would have thought that I know what I’m doing with myself, but for whatever reason, I’m probably the most gormless individual on the planet. Which suits me. This frail ego suits me.
Taking the advice of others is bad news for the egocentric. If you’re going to be something, then be it. I’m not taking advice and hammering it into my being any longer. It results in me drawing elaborate time tables that have me awake at 8am reading things that should only be read over a bottle of Chilean Shiraz. It results in me turning my life into a series of multi-coloured boxes that map out how I should be spending my time, time that I know I can’t be bothered to waste on preparation and reading that I haven’t got the patience for. Taking another person’s advice to heart results in me being miserable.
There’s something to be said about being a chaotic, time-wasting, apathetic individual. When you need to get things done, you get them done in your own time using your own methods. It’s stressful, painful and irritating at points but then spending weeks on end before a deadline worrying continuously about how to spend my ample amounts of time is just as pointless as knowing and trying to do something about my habit of working by my own lax schedule. Just so that I can fit in? Follow the rules? Do what is expected of me? Really…
I’m not the writer who will sit and note down every detail of every surrounding that I encounter every day of my life. I’m internalized, blind, reclusive and pretty much socially incompetent. I’m not afraid to flip off the status quo. Quite frankly, I don’t care.
I don’t care that there’s a time break in that story or that you think a particular image doesn’t work; it works for me and the gap in time is supposed to be there so that I don’t have to spend six pages describing what happened between time A and time B. I do care however, about how I deliver the story.
The differences between opinion and advice are slight; the trick is knowing how to be selfish enough to pick out the stuff that gives you a damn good reason to alter something that isn’t working from the general nit-picked rubbish that tells you either
a) what you already know,
b) that your reader hasn’t bothered to read at all or
c) that you’re never going to please everyone.
Bottom line – you may as well go ahead and please yourself.
I intend to embrace my bad habits and no longer be ashamed of the fact that I’m a very internal person, only ever ‘noticing’ things around me when they are sucked in by the eternal vacuum of deaf experience, processed through a series of daydreams and nightmares, and then spat out when I sit down and say to myself ‘Something is bugging us. What?’
I was told a few years back that my attitude would never do me any favours, that I had to discipline myself in order to progress in life. I’ve been stagnating in that pool of advice for nearly five years.
You want to tell me that’s healthy?
November 30, 2008
Before I give you what I promised in my earlier post, I wanted to share this with the blogging world:
I was heaving the Christmas tree up the stairs and into the living room when I saw a label declaring something quite alarming and beyond hilarious…
I don’t have to go into how this is wrong on so many levels, but I’ll just question how this tree managed to marketed in the first place, and how it actually made it into this country. In my eyes, and for me personally, it’s a valid reason for not having children.
Anyway. As promised, the Opinions piece I submitted as course work around two years ago for one of my Journalism modules:
Santa Must Die
“Ho ho ho! Meeeeeeeeeeery Christmas!”
I glare at the mound of Christmas sitting at the end of my checkout and grumble at it. If it’s not the endless whirring of its motors, it’s the continuous, trumped-up, manly bleating of what is supposed to be the essence of the festive season.
I shove a bag of frozen peas across the scanner, with a satisfying sadistic bleep. It’s amazing how evil you can make a checkout sound if you’re completely p***** off.
I’ve been sitting here for almost three hours now, listening to the five foot Santa jig about in poor timing with the same Christmas songs, over and over and I only have to hear ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ one more time and I will explode into a fury of screams and bloodshed.
Like most people, I do actually like Christmas. I like seeing friends; I enjoy giving gifts as opposed to receiving them. I like stepping outside into my garden to survey the cold winter night as my family are left indoors to argue. I even like that bit too, it’s not Christmas if they don’t moan and shout at one another. Yes, the Christmas spirit is indeed alive within me.
The thing that I don’t like however, the thing that makes the blood churn in my veins and makes me want to stuff the turkey as hard as I can with my fist, imagining that I’m shoving dynamite up into an orifice of someone who heads the corporate Christmas campaign, is the tack.
The cheap, crappy plastic of Christmas time. I despise it. The mere thought of someone’s house becoming the perfect beacon for a pack of bombers not only makes me think ‘ugh’, but also makes me think ‘how huge is their electricity bill going to be next quarter?’
I’m all for Christmas cheer and good will toward everyone, as opposed to just men. And that goes for the rest of the year too, after all, why should we restrict ourselves of being good to one another for only four stress-filled weeks? What’s wrong with the other forty-eight weeks of the year? Do they not create as much of a coronary episode for us?
One of my customer points out to me that those who lavish their house with tinkling abominations are quite happy to pose for the papers, but if it came to the crunch and someone truly needy turned up on their well-lit doorstep, asking for some much-needed ‘good will’ and help, the Christmas spirit would most likely evaporate under the glare of their house-turned-nuclear reactor.
A customer walks past the singing Santa, setting the thing off again. Jingle Bells. I feel my blood pressure surge up a notch and a bit of my Christmas cheer drown in the flood of frustration that bubbles over my skin.
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaaay….”
“You can jingle all the way to hell and like it…”
A customer behind me lets out a snicker at my comment and I suddenly feel better knowing that someone appreciates my cynicism. I assume most people would have taken offence by it, but then it’s my opinion that they get so wrapped up in the hype and glitter of December time that they don’t realise that they’re being gently fleeced by every retailer that can get its company advertised on television. This includes Argos and its claim to be able to fulfil every Christmas wish. I highly doubt that it can make my wish come true, that people will stop panic buying three weeks before the big day.
Finally, the massive tail-back of eager festive shoppers vanishes like the stock on the shelves as my shift draws to a close. A straggler spots my empty till and walks over to me smiling like I was waiting for them. In these situations, it is hardly likely that a stressed, exhausted looking Cashier, flicking her eyes at the clock desperately is merely sitting there in wait for her next customer.
Despite my yearning for the final ten minutes to be over, I follow company policy by smiling and making eye contact. The Santa cuts my obligatory greetings short with a jolly welcome of its own. I cast my eyes over it in anger as storm clouds begin to gather over my till.
“Doesn’t that get annoying?”
I look at the customer and smile sweetly and suddenly realise that my psychopath has raised its pretty little head at a very opportune moment.
“I’m afraid it annoys me terribly,” I chirp, scanning the items through.
“In fact, it annoys me so much, that next week, I’m planning to dress like a ninja, ram the bloody thing with a trolley where I shall steal it away from the store and tie it to a pre-prepared ceremonial pyre. Upon doing this, I shall strip naked in the cold moonlight, paint myself red and light the pyre with joy, dancing freely around the blazing fire as the synthetic fabrics and materials melt and fuse to become the sign of my mighty vengeance upon all that think Christmas is just about presents, food and tinsel.
The flames shall rise ever higher, and spark into multiple, beautiful colours and the aurora of my rage shall be seen for miles around as I dance and sing my way to the highest peak of ecstasy upon which I shall rejoice and climax, crying out into the night at the sound of his voice gurgling and fading into the sacrifice.”
The customer stares at me blankly.
I smile, “Do you have a member’s card?”