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I could have danced all night

Had the best night of my life last night. In recent memory at least, for sure.

It was my friend Louise’s birthday do. I didn’t want to go. REALLY didn’t want to go. In a rugby club, while the match was on? People drinking? Emotions running high? Had to dress up in a suit? Well…

But I couldn’t shirk it, 40th is a milestone and she’s a good friend, and I thought my discomfort in wearing a suit would be worth it to avoid her disappointment or hurt feelings that I’d passed. So I went to my mother’s first to check on the dog and to get changed, then head into a nearby town to get picked up by Alex to take me up.

AT mum’s, with ten minutes to spare after I’d got back from going shopping for a bottle of wine (that I couldn’t find), I realised to my horror that I’d forgotten a shirt. Luckily I’d left some at mum’s, including the one the suit actually came with, very high quality, fancy, wedding-attire style. Perfect, I though, that’ll work with the bow tie perfectly. Yeah that’s right, I wore a bow tie xD Because (all together now!) bow ties are cool! I also took my bowler hat (because I left the fedora on the bus the other day coz I’m an idiot), and was ready just before Alex arrived. I also wore a three-quarter length black cashmere coat. So black coat, black shoes, black belt, black bow tie, black bowler, and a grey suit with crisp white shirt. (and black walking stick because I don’t trust my legs anymore.)

I. Looked. The Business.

We roll up outside the venue and I immediately hear a woman gasp “look at that he’s wearing a bowler hat!” and her friend observe “oh my god he’s even brought a cane.”

I swear I could hear the hip hop that plays when the dude with a cane, long coat and feather in his hat comes strutting round the corner

So we get in, everyone’s impressed with the bowler. Order of the day, have a smoke with my friends before heading in coz “in” is where all the people are and I don’t know anyone besides Alex, Tora, and Louise. Tora came wearing a dress that if I was a cartoon character would have had my jaw drop to the floor and my tongue roll out like red carpet. A full length ivory strapless dress with a few wide frills down its length, lace-up back, form fitting. The woman is 50 but she looked incredible and my heart beat faster looking at her. She was cold so I offered her my coat, which she wore like a cape for the rest of the night, looking like the sexiest mob boss you’ve never heard of.

The bowler hat was requested within minutes of me going into the main room and sitting down. Billie Jo and her achingly attractive friend Diana seemed to take a shine to me. I danced with them both, Billie Jo had broken her rib so was limited to doing the robot, so I did it with her – I did tai chi without the smooth edges, more jerky motions. It got a good reaction, and the DJ gave us a shout out for our robot ^.^

I spent a lot of time alternating dancing like a dad at a wedding (between being overweight, not having strong legs so much anymore, not trusting my joints, and just not being able to dance ) and going outside to cool off. I did little more than shift my weight a bit, occasionally club or wave my arms.. if I was one of the women I was with it’d be fine but I’m nowhere near hot enough to pull off such minimal effort lol. It was too loud inside with the music to really converse with anyone, so I’d have a dance, then go outside to cool off and talk to people and have a smoke. I was smoking a lot to use them up, deciding it would be mandatory so no point trying to quit before the night.

It wasn’t too long before Billie Jo asked to wear my bow tie, and that was the last I saw of it until the end of the night :p There was some talk of who’d get my shirt and trousers and I felt… attractive. I mean Diana is married, Billie Jo is a single mother with her hands full with a mentally ill son, but all the same the way they danced with me and stuff, I knew it wasn’t a seduction but I still felt like if things were different it might have been. I couldn’t act on any such thing of course if they were seriously seducing me, I still have my lady waiting for me, but it was still a different experience and enjoyable. At some point Billie Jo kissed me, just a peck on the lips, I think when she first asked for the bowler hat. First time I’ve been kissed in four years, it sent a thrill through me. Yknow that flash of “I knew that thing, once. I think that was it again.”

The rugby went on. With ten minutes to spare, the score was 25 – 25 between England and Wales. The last three or four times I’ve seen them play, Wales would gain an early lead and England would let them have their fun, then pull it together in the last 15 minutes and slaughter us. But not last night. With ten minutes left, England screwed up and Wales got a penalty kick. Boom. 3 points. Finals core was 28 – 25 to Wales, embarrassing England on their home turf. The noise of the reaction, I thought the place would come down, it was incredible.

As the evening wound to a close I was outside with Tora and Alex when Marina came out and asked for a cigarette. She said some stuff about how she doesn’t smoke, but someone at work who smokes 40 a day judges her because she bought a new car, with the money she’d saved from not smoking often (her last cigarette being three months ago.) Me, with a little rum in me and fairly relaxed after the festivities, spoke to her of the two kinds of people: the ones who lift others up, and the ones who tear them down. I spoke of Geoff Thompson and how he saved me, got me through a lot of my anxiety. After the conversation she went to go back inside but hugged me twice, said I was lovely, turned to Tora and said “oh he’s so lovely, isn’t he lovely?” I felt wise and generally… human.

I was just saying to them both, the night’s been grand, but I’m disappointed the DJ didn’t play Time Warp. Not 30 seconds later Tora pauses and goes ” can you hear that? It’s the time Warp!” we ran back inside, she flung my coat across a chair, and we assumed our position in the circle.

After the lights came back up I could see the bow tie was deposited on the table. The bowler was returned to me, much hugs were exchanged. I gave the bowler to Louise, and said tonight has been fantastic, I’d like you to have this. She said oh that’s lovely, I’ll give it back to you when I see you next. I said no, it’s yours to keep, a souvenir of a really, really good night. She liked that a lot. I thought she might, since out of everyone she wore the bow tie and hat more than anyone xD

The main thing I took from the night though isn’t just how much fun I had. Not how attractive or smart I felt. It was that I COULD feel those things. I thought I’d lost the ability forever. To feel genuinely liked, to feel comfortable among strangers, to dance without too much worry of what people thought of my moves, to sing along with others (it was the Time Warp, I HAD to!), and to feel desirable and attractive. To feel part of something. To feel welcomed. I’ve spent my whole life trying to feel like I did last night. Like I was meant to be there, I was where I belonged.

Fun sidenote: By helping others we help ourselves. I replied to a post on a message board to someone desperate for help, she was going out with friends and was really anxious. I told her to use confident body language, force a smile, they cause feedback loops in the brain and make it real, that sort of stuff. I spent a lot of last night following that exact advice, without which I think I would have had a very different experience. So the moral: Be compassionate and helpful to others, and you’ll feel good, or have the opportunity to feel less alone and crappy.

I know this is long but I’m not just bragging, I Wanted to share it, it’s a genuine, and a huge, win for me, and indirectly I feel, to others. It’s proof that this good stuff CAN happen. I never thought it would or could, but there it is, it did, and it was awesome. No reason at all why it can’t happen for you too.

You just have to roll up to a party wearing a bowler hat and bow tie ^.

Catchup 22

“Where have you been?”
“Where HAVEN’T I been, you mean?”
– Monster Munch packet (roast beef)
So I’ve been gone a while. Six and a half months actually I think. There have been a lot of reasons why I’ve not posted for a long time, and none of them are particularly happy, but for the sake of people reading this who don’t know me (the people reading who do know me already know the state I’ve been in this year), I’ll outline a bit.

After I left CHAT the group of us that broke away started another group. Internal dramas broke it up, so we started ANOTHER group, only the same childish drama that led to the last split led to another. Turns out the people we had issue with in that second group weren’t as responsible as we made out, and someone we trusted in our own group was manipulative, cunning, and not great for us. Ironically it was like going through CHAT all over again. I saw a lot of behaviour from this person I saw in the owners of CHAT, which I was sure I’d got away from. This left me reeling, with major anxiety and trust issues, questioning my ability to socialise and read people.

I had surgery, which went horribly wrong. I had a wisdom tooth taken out, which led to dry socket. Literally the worst physical pain I can remember in my life, and I count that alongside an operation to remove an abcess from my spine when I was 16. During this time I became physically addicted to painkillers, something I’m still not sure I’ve shaken.

I’ve been busy. That’s the nice bit. Slowly over the last few months I’ve been trying to get out of the house as often as possibly, heading into town almost every day for a walk. One nice thing about being forced to take painkillers (or risk the consequences) is that my joint pain isn’t so crippling anymore. I’ve only needed a walking stick once or twice in the last few months.

There’s probably been other stuff but it’s late (early) and I can’t remember everything. Aside from those things basically I’ve been having a lot of issues with anxiety, and more with depression. It’s been hard to get on a bus to get anywhere, sometimes challenging even to get a lift. I’ve taken up smoking, something I never expected or planned on, even when I smoked a pipe every once in a while. I’m up to about four or five cigarettes a day. Not proud of it, but I feel it’s a necessary step right now. While I’m buying a pack of 20 every week or so, it’s saving money on buying munchies and other crap I used to do to take my mind off how physically painful it sometimes is to be alive, so it’s serving a purpose for the time being. I aim to quit before it becomes an issue to my health, but I’ve tried forcing myself recently and all it’s done is lead to more anxiety, and I’m having a hard enough time.

So where am I now? Still “here, there, everywhere,” miles away and still in my room staring out the window. It’s difficult to express. Things are the same, but something is different. I started working, but quit yesterday because it was too much for me. I think I’ll have to switch from JSA back to ESA, which will bring its own stresses, but will take the pressure off of having to look for work, which I’m increasingly convinced is too much for me.

I am, however, in college now. With UHOVI, I’m studying anatomy and physiology, and tai chi, with an aim to go on to teach it. It’s a heavy workload, but I’m finally taking steps to be where I want to be in life.

Living with people is increasingly difficult. Triggers and anxiety has become near constant, so I’ll be moving out soon. I don’t care where so much anymore, I just need to be alone, take some space. A kind of Into the Wild, with wi-fi.

My current group, The Mentalists, is plodding along. We meet bi-monthly for a book club, and weekly for .. well, it’s labelled Mentalist Makers, a crafts group, but we spend most of the time trying to get Louise’s daughter to do jazz hands. We’re not making crafts-y things so much lately, but we are making memories and progress. We’re helping each other out in ways I’ve never had before. Two members recently went to court with me to appeal the decision to stop ESA, and with their help (they did most of the work) the decision was overturned.

I’ve become complacent with my anxiety and my comfort zone has begun to shrink again, so for Halloween we’re all off to do karaoke, my first time in probably a year and a half. I’m still anxiously trying to pick a couple of songs I can do and decide what to dress up as. Maybe videos will be taken and posted, proof of this “getting a life” thing in the title.

I’m writing again. I’ve started a separate blog for posting my snippets, just occasional scenes, snippets of dialogue, monologues. The whole blog thing in itself was part of my wanting to get back into writing, but rambling about my life ain’t literature. Then again neither is a random discussion I had with myself about disappearing funfair attractions the other night. But if you put enough words down some of it will work. Monkeys and Shakespeare, and all that.

One thing with the smoking is when I take the dog out in the evening I sit down with a fag and have a ponder, and things are starting to make more sense to me. I’ve worked out a possible purpose for my continued existence even, which I may post about in the future. Will see if it works out first, no point preaching about it before testing the idea.

Also planned at some point is to finish the three-parter about Amsterdam that I started two freaking years ago and never got round to finishing. Now that I don’t have things like CHAT or juvenile drama BS taking up my energy anymore, I want to start doing this again more often.

I was thinking of making a separate blog about my journey with the tai chi and teaching, but that ties in with the topic of this blog, and it’s probably about time I wrote more about my life instead of my theories and the usual stuff I post so it’ll get posted here. There’s not much to add yet, I’ve been at it for three weeks and we’ve covered the first three moves of the 54 movement short form of tai chi, so there’s plenty of time to get more into the changes I feel in my body and movements.

If I was doing Naniwrimo, this would almost be enough words for today’s progress. That’s an interesting thought, maybe I’ll try it this year and see how I do. I tried it a couple of years ago, figured I’d write something about pirates and ninja, I thought “how hard could it be to write a nonsense adventure with ninja?” Turns out, harder than I thought. But who knows?

Oh, and progress report on last year’s “get ‘er done” goals list: I’ve done none of it. Not the least disappointing thing, but those goals became less of a priority when I’ve been struggling so much this year. Maybe next year I’ll get some of it done.

I need another 30 words to reach the nanowrimo’s minimum daily word count of 1300, so here’s a link to an interesting article I just read about Robin William and why funny people struggle so much. It was like looking into my own mind, reading this. The comments are full of hate but that’s the internet for you I guess. It’s well worth a read, though, check it out.

http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/robin-williams-why-funny-people-kill-themselves/

Namaste.

When a plan comes together

Alrighty, I got a plan together, and I think I’ve realised why I’ve not done so well so far.

I write a to-do list most days. It always starts with “wake up, take insulin.” So from the start I can cross off a couple of things and it sets me on a good note. But I used to occasionally set times to things. One list I’ve had on my whiteboard since August 1st (lol) also notes my bedtime (2am) and wake up time (8am), with “all screens” off by midnight. All I can say to that now is “lol.” Totally unreasonable.

The plan now has no times, except to turn the PC off by 11pm. Whether I’ve woken up at 5pm or 6am, the PC is off by 11pm, and how I spend the rest of my awake time is up to me.

I wrote up things I want to start doing every day – some push ups, some squats, brush my teeth, do tai chi, take the dog for a walk, watch a DVD (I’m trying to get rid of as many as possible and there are lots I’ve not even watched yet), listen to one side of an old casette tape (I recorded some stories when I Was a teen, and stuff like that), and watch one VHS tape a day so I can get rid of them.

Before that I wrote up my morning routine. Wake up, take meds, inject insulin, stretch, brush teeth, take dog out. One or two other things. That’s all. No times, just stuff I know is good for me.

After the daily to-do list, I then have evening routine. Stretches, meditate for a few minutes, read some, take dog out again, a few more squats and stuff to help relax me. And that’s it.

My hope is, given my unemployment and mental health, if I fill the day with stuff, I can get some kind of routine going to fill my time with so life will be more stable and consistant. Being less dogmatic regarding times than the old list, this one should be easier to get done and I’ll feel less undisciplined if I don’t go to bed by the time I specified (though I’ll still be aiming for a more healthy sleeping pattern, maybe 1am – 8.30am, that’d be nice) as long as I get the stuff done.

Which is good, coz it’s 3.20am now and I can’t get to sleep. Well, it starts today, then. Here goes nothing.

Use it or Lose It: What I learned from drinking too much

My right heel huts.

But that is, perhaps, getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it more slowly; like breaking in a new pair of shoes, or making a woman happy. In my life those may be the same thing.

Once upon a time, I drank too much. In fact, I was in such a place I had to drink to get to sleep. It wasn’t a happy place but I don’t regret it. In its strange way it was a wonderful experience. But while I enjoyed being drunk, it wasn’t what you could really consider healthy by any measure: physically it was poison to my body and mind; emotionally it was a mask that hid and prevented me from dealing with the real problem; mentally it was an addiction. Well, more a crutch. I wasn’t an alcoholic, I had no physical dependance, it was more a psychological reliance during a time of weakness, where I didn’t feel strong enough or capable of  getting by on my own.

I haven’t posted for a few weeks. Turns out I couldn’t shake the effects of CHAT as I’d intended to, and simply even posting about what happened triggered in me the worst depression of my life. Literally the worst, blackest, deepest episode. I’ve been despairing and emotional before, of course – my earliest memory of talking myself out of suicide is from when I was seven years old – but there’s been more energy to it, more desperation. This time, there was none of that. Nothing. I didn’t seek escape from life, I just felt nothing for it. I would wake up close to tears simply for having another day to get through. And I couldn’t afford to be drunk all the time in any way, though in particular financially.

And something very interesting happened. The next time I had a drink, it took almost nothing to get me pleasantly drunk. Where before I’d drink three cans of strongbow cider, suddenly one can was enough to relax me and put me in a better mood. Two cans would make me giddy and silly and do all the good stuff people cite as reasons to get wasted. Because it took so little, there was less for my body to process, even though it had greater effect, and so there was no hangover. Less, sometimes, is indeed more.

So what’s this got to do with my heel? (Which is better now because I started writing this three weeks ago before being interrupted by the dog needing to go out)

I’d neglected my tai chi. When I would work on the stances and whatnot, it pulled painfully on my heels and hamstrings where it never used to. Because I’d fallen out of practice, my body had reverted back to an unstretched state. This was easily remedied by making more effort to be more consistant in my practice, difficult as this was (for various reasons I won’t get into.)

That’s the key point of this post – consistancy.

See, last year when I was doing a lot of work with that organisation of which we no longer speak, I was out every day almost, and up almost all day, my sleeping pattern was better coz I was always doing something to spread the word, or raise funds, or improve the efficiency of the workshops and whatnot. I was travelling around more, to places I’d never been, and to do stuff I’ve never done. But then all that went wrong, and for months, from November to January, I did almost nothing, except stay at home, not sleep well, get nightmares, and drink more to compensate. When January rolled around, and I had an opportunity to meet up with friends who were with me through the drama of the other organisation, who I trust with my life, to read a book I’ve read about a dozen times, and adore… there are far too many commas in that sentence, I must stop reading classic literature. Basically when I had a chance to go out somewhere I felt safe, I was so anxious because I was out of practice mentally that I threw up before I left and couldn’t get warm – I took a blanket with me. I was shaking, nauseous, felt icy cold, had no appetite. But I went anyway, because I hate letting people down, and I knew I’d be safe. These people understood me and if I said I had to go home immediately there’d be no questions. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I showed up, all those symptoms went, coz I was back, part of life, doing stuff, leaving the house. I’d shaken off the rust of the previous couple of months and was moving freely again.

So as the YMCA founders said, as for the body, so for the mind. Maybe I just made that up. But the point is when you push your boundaries, they stretch, but if you stop pushing they shrink back to their previous state. This happens mentally as well as physically. So it’s vitally important if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, or a gammy leg or anything, even if you can only take two steps a day to maintain your ability to walk two steps a day, do it. If you can only face leaving the house to go to the shop around the corner, do it. Don’t take money, just walk there and back so you never look back and realise you’ve spent the last six weeks without leaving the house, barely leaving your bedroom. That way when you’re called on to do something huge, like travel a few miles to see your best friends, you’re less likely to suffer for it.

More on this topic in the future I think, because consistancy is something I really struggle with, it’s probably my biggest issue, actually, so will be revisited as I keep working on it.

Let’s CHAT Part 4: Let’s not.

Lounging on his purple sofa, as if to counsel himself, Daniel reflects on his year, particularly a painful episode that began a few months ago. Should he tell people? Would it be doing the right thing? He’s never liked the idea of gossip, and talking about people feels close to gossiping. That said, he ponders, if people don’t know what happened, it can happen to others. Forewarned is forearmed, after all. With a wearied sigh of resignation to what feels like his duty, given his not-even-remotely-unique position of a person with an online blog with an audience of a dozen readers, he swings his legs sideways and sits up. Taking a breath he limps over to his PC, opens his blog, and begins.

“CHAT has changed my life twice,” he writes uncertainly. “The first time was great – it gave me purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. I grew in confidence and did things I never thought I’d do. I went rock climbing. I completed the Preparation for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector course. I spoke to a room of people and felt the adrenalin drain away from me with every opportunity I took to address a room. I went to events to extol the virtues of the organisation. When I was asked to be part of a board of trustees to help develop and improve the way it was run, I accepted gladly, feeling that I had found my place in the world; feeling that I was home.” Another deep breath, knowing the story is about to take the dark turn he tries not to think about. He wishes he hadn’t quit smoking. He checks the clock, eager to finish his tale before the new year ticks over so it can be left firmly in the past, a year away, a lifetime ago. A firework sounds and he curses the time of year for the umpteenth time since October when Christmas first started its marketing in shops, culminating in this celebration of time passing by, of another year of life gone forever. After a break to comfort his terrified dog and regain his concentration, Daniel stares at the page of words written so far and wonders if he’s overused commas. He should crack on before he runs out of nighttime.

“Before too long, a couple of the trustees pointed out some financial and professional issues that the founders refused to explain or discuss, and Jocelyn and her partner Dennis became less friendly. Suddenly a whole new situation became obvious. It seemed that we weren’t people to them, we were only workhorses they used to further their agenda; some had legal experience, I was the tech guy, someone else had a good reputation in the voluntary sector. We weren’t friends, we weren’t valued as we were led to believe, and to feel. We weren’t service users, we weren’t even human, we were just units, tools used for what we could do for them to raise money for themselves.

My life changed for the second time. This time I relapsed to a point worse than I was at before I began going to their workshops. The workshops had initially helped me cut back on the drinking I’d taken up to get to sleep after an abusive relationship I’d got away from shortly before I’d discovered them, but now things had taken a cruel turn I began drinking heavily again, plagued by nightmares of Dennis torturing me to raise money for CHAT, a cruel interpretation taken to the extreme of their only concern being to line their own pockets. I was openly mocked for my anxiety when I asked if we could change the venue of the trustees meetings, since I felt claustraphobic in the cramped space afforded us in Jocelyn’s living room with six people sitting around a table, told in an email, in a small font at the bottom, to grow up. They respected neither boundaries or personal limitations, driving me close to suicide between the stress and doubting myself, and driving another service user to attempt suicide because he couldn’t handle being pushed so hard. They had no respect for confidentiality, recording workshops without consent of those present. I helped with this because I was anxious about presenting them myself and wanted every word recorded for me to remember and learn. I didn’t realise the legal implications of it and was acting out of selfish fear for myself. This in itself has also caused me anxiety and fear of legal action from service users present. They’ve even linked to what should have been the confidential Facebook group I had set up, right on their website, on which anyone not a member can see the list of members if they look. I was manipulated, used, lied to, mocked. It was no different to what I told myself would be the last abusive relationship I would be in. They played on my insecurities, alternating flattery with mockery to keep me around but keep me in my place. Others got worse than me, one marriage was almost destroyed for their efforts to send someone away from their husband.”

Daniel realises he’s breathing hard, sweating slightly, close to tears. To remember it all is still an emotional ordeal. It must be revealed to his readers, he grandly thinks to himself, feeling like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory, so I can say I’ve done my bit to fight them and move forward with my life with a clear conscience. A sip of his flat cream soda to remedy his dry throat, acutely aware of the sweat on his back. He feels simultaneously too hot and icy cold. He recognises the acute symptoms of anxiety for reliving these experiences, but he’s almost done. He feels like he’s being dramatic for all the deep breaths but also knows it’s to control the anxiety and forge ahead. He’s running out of time, eleven minutes to midnight and a new future of his deliberate making. On it goes.

“I was eventually forced to walk away from it, convinced there was no way to convince them to do things more appropriately after a five hour meeting where Dennis brought a series of grievances against one of the trustees, who had acted absolutely professionally at all times. It was simple bullying, he pushed until he thought the other person would back down, but he didn’t, so he started crying and played the victim card. Despite myself I shook his hand as he left, believing he would make more effort now that grievances were raised against him. The next day he was heard to say he’d shut everything down and seek legal action against us . We were blamed for everything in a statement Dennis released shortly afterwards. being trustees, which are illegal in a CIC company, as CHAT was – even though it was them who set it up and asked us to be trustees. I didn’t know any better, but it was their company, they should have known better. This only adds to my feeling of being manipulated, and the trustee who had such a solid reputation in the voluntary sector may have had his reputation tarnished as a result of his association with CHAT. We had to walk away before things escalated more and the downward spiral led us somewhere even darker. I went from spending every day emailing people, calling, getting endorsements, leaving business cards on the bus, to staying home drinking, afraid to leave the house for months.

Thankfully Mind have been there to help me pick up the pieces, as well as friends I’d made at the workshops and my fellow “trustees.” I don’t want to say Jocelyn and Dennis are bad people – I will say they are unwell and shouldn’t be running anything to do with mental health – but they are very capable of very bad things, and great malice, and have done me far more harm than good. I’ve removed the posters I’ve put up everywhere I could find space, and have had to get in touch with people I asked to endorse CHAT to apologise for getting them involved. I’m very hurt and depressed about it, and sad for Jocelyn and Dennis that they feel the need to treat people in this way. They’ve lost what would have been the best friends you could hope for, who would have worked tirelessly for CHAT if it was run more honestly and transparently.

If you need the help with anxiety or depression, you can and should go to the workshops, you’ll probably learn a few things that could help you cope, but don’t get more involved than that or I feel you risk opening yourself to manipulation and abuse as I did, and the other trustees and volunteers did. The information they teach on the workshops can be found online and in most books on the subject, though. Some of the material supposedly copyrighted to them was even lifted directly from a European blog. Just look around, and you’ll learn what you need without even having to expose yourself to such dangerously toxic people.

These opinions are based on my experience and research, and their behaviour toward me.”

Relieved to be finished, breathing a massive cathartic sigh, Daniel smiles to himself. He did what he’d been putting off for three months. Now he could move on. It was over. And so was the year.

“Happy new year, everyone.” he adds to the bottom line. He categorises the entry as Personal, and clicks Publish. Good old WordPress for making things so simple.

All I want for Christmas is you

I type that title with a sigh, not least because I loathe the song it’s taken from, but that is, alas, the chosen theme for most of my titles.

No, I dislike Christmas (see my entry Why I Hate Holidays if you’re curious), and I really, really dislike the songs. But I’ve had an emotional year, and I wanted to get this out there before it’s over so I can start fresh and manly and not necessarily shaved.

It’s not my style to get trousery, but there are people I want to show my appreciation for and to. I’ve had many low points this past year, and I’ve lost a fair number of good friends as a result of my mood. Others I lost due to their own moods and behaviour, which for my protection, couldn’t be avoided. Basically I’m realising I’m not the amazing bloke to have around that I used to .. well I at least used to think I wasn’t that hard to be around, but apparently I’m not that easy to be around, so.. I just wanted to say thanks to my friends for sticking around and putting up with my moods and stuff. Alex, Desere, Sian, Susan (“The Trustees” as I collectively think of them) and especially Chris. You folks have been amazeballs of the totes variety. So just thanks for being awesome and giving a crap about me and stuff.

Not so wordy this one. Not much else really to say. Just wanted to show a little appreciation. Cheers, everyone.

Epiphany: Walking in the rain

I do my thinking in a number of places: While walking the dog; while making a sandwich; while exploring a bottle of rum. Most of it seems to get done while walking the dog, though. Figures it’d be while I’m furthest away from anything on which I can write the thoughts down, so I end up repeating it over and over until I get in, until what once seemed a good idea that was so profound and worth sharing is somehow mundane and common knowledge to my mind. But tonight I had … not quite an epiphany, as much as something dawned on me, a new level of understanding of something I’ve enjoyed quoting to people for a long time, that I thought I understood but didn’t. So tonight I have a new chunk of know in my think. I’m getting good at predicting the weather, for one thing; if I don’t wear my hat to protect my glasses, it’ll mostly likely bucket down.

As it began raining, I thought it might have been useful if I’d grabbed a coat before leaving the house. Within seconds the wind had picked up and my pyjamas were soaked through, so I thought there’s nothing to lose, I can’t get any wetter. That’s when my favourite passage from Hagakure – sort of a manual of how to be a samurai – came to mind: “when caught in a sudden shower, there’s no need to run, walk as normal. You’ll receive the same soaking, but will be far less perplexed.” In fact, Mythbusters has shown that if you run you actually get wetter. But I digress. Or do I?

But it dawned on me, a mere eight years after I first heard it in Ghost Dog, that the passage isn’t talking about rain. It’s talking about life. (In fact I now feel slightly foolish as I looked up the proper wording of the passage and found it actually ends with “this applies to all things,” but shut up, I was tired.

Example: I was really ill tonight, had to pay homage to the porcelain throne. So I went in there and got it done, and felt better. Last year I would have spent the entire night fighting it, and wound up suffering more for it, both in intensity and duration, and when it finally came time where I couldn’t resist it anymore, I would have been more stressed and tense about it. For strolling instead of trying to run away from it, while it was still unpleasant, I suffered a lot less for it. I wasn’t a LOT more relaxed, because it’s still a very unpleasant thing, but mentally, I was freaking out far less.

As it says, it applies to all things. Cleaning the house, so easy to put off, is only made worse if left undone. Prolonging an unhealthy or unhappy relationship or friendship only makes it more difficult to put a stop to it. Not paying off debts accrues interest.

To suggest another angle on it, you’re here today, you might not be tomorrow, so get on with things. And do so accepting that it will be unpleasant, and resolve to do it anyway. Nothing gets done by not getting done.