The Handmaid’s Tale and other disappointments

Multiple turds are hitting multiple fans in Bowermanland. My family seem to be falling apart, toppling like dominoes. First my Brother and his Wife (nothing concrete has happened yet, but they’ve been talking about what is going to happen), now my Cousin and his partner of 22 years, and my other cousin, his wife and whole family. Bink, bonk, clunk, they fall. I have always been Top Loser in my family – I have no partner, no kids, no house, no job. I always looked at my Brother and Cousin as the successes – qualifications, jobs, families, property – and while that aided and abetted my self hatred, it also was a beacon. People in my family functioned! There were Normals! Oh, shit. Nope. You may have noticed that one Cousin has a capital C. Capital Cousin lived with us for 5 or 6 years after his Mum died. He’s 8 months older than my brother and more like a brother to me than a cousin. So he gets a C. Other cousin is an arsehat of such immense proportion I have no time for him. He’s causing his family grief because he is selfish. His relationship has not hit the skids, he is just greedy for what he can get out of his parents. He’s 40 for fuck sake. Blackmailing his parents into giving him property or cash by telling them they’ll never see their grandkids again if they don’t ‘help’. But Capital Cousin is different, and may have to move back in with us. My Dad’s initial reaction was ‘Ok, have the nice room we’ve just finished…’. But then he went away and thought about it. Now it’s ‘comeback in a couple of months when we may have another, shitter room for you’ (‘cos we don’t want you getting comfortable). Sometimes it takes a while for my Dad to think like me. ‘Cos that’s how I was thinking.

In addition to the above Shit/Fan situations, my Dad has been told he has some Diabetic damage to his eyes. My Dad has had endless trouble with his eyes. He is like me, naturally monocular. When he was about 4 he stuck a screwdriver in his left eye, his ‘blind’ one. Then in his 40’s he got a detached retina. Then  another and another and cataracts. Now this. He’s always been very brave with his eye surgeries, I have to say. He also had laser treatment without a blink. The fucker can’t have an MRI*, but he can have his corneas zapped while awake. The Shit/Fan family situation is telling on him. He is, of course, particularly sad for my Brother because he loves his grandchildren. He’s a very good Grandfather. But he also feels my Brother’s pain. My Dad is sentimental. He is missing my Mum a great deal. He loved/ loves her extremely, and he feels awful for Dan that his marriage has only made 15 ish years. That’s how we think in our family: 15 years is a short marriage. I think it will be the first Divorce in our history. Well, Dan was one for Firsts- in his degree (he was the first in our family to go to uni, and he got a double First), Phd. and first married. A regular trailblazer. Sorry, my grumpy malice and envy popped out there.

I’ve been looking on at this getting angry. And frustrated. But I can’t do anything. And part of me is relieved. I’ve got my own shit.

Last week I had an Adult Autism Assessment that left me questioning everything I did during it. It was at the Maudsley and it left me feeling scraped empty. I’d not had any sleep and I was scared of being late – all that jazz. I don’t know what it did and didn’t do. It’s difficult if you know the parameters and you want to fit them or not. Gah. We’ll see. I’ve also been cursed with terrible dry skin on my scalp. Not just your average dandruff – my scalp is like the surface of the moon. I fear I may have Psoriasis – I was told years ago that my dandruff wasn’t dandruff, but Psoriasis, but I didn’t really take much heed, as it was mentioned like ‘yeah, you have this thing, but that’s nothing to the big thing we’re going to treat’. Shit. I’ve been very stressed, very. I’ve not been sleeping, and then having terrible back and chest pain etc. Acid Reflux, the wish to die – you know, the whole she-bang. But having a scummy scalp too – that may be my limit. Dang.

I finally got round to reading Margaret Atwood’s very famous novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ – about a time when select women are used as walking wombs for important/ worthy couples, all framed in a newly ‘religious’, moral society. It’s typically called ‘dystopian’, but recently has been used a lot on social media in reference to certain trends in the US regarding abortion.  I was rather disappointed in it. I think the story is interesting, but I didn’t find the writing stunning. The epilogue where the previous ‘Tale’ is discussed as if it were a historical document, is witty and interesting – more so than the actual body of the book. I found myself not at all interested in the narrator. I didn’t care what happened to her. I was more interested in the set up of the ‘new’ society. Those elements of the story are well realised; the colour symbolism, use of Biblical references etc. tickled my extant interest in art and history, but the main character did not. I’m glad I read it – there was a running joke in my life that I kept buying copies of it and my house kept eating them. I have about 4 somewhere… this one will be going back to the Book Shop. One thing I will say in praise of the book is it’s inspired some interesting and good illustration. I remember as a kid seeing a copy of it (my Cousin was studying it for A’level) and wanting to read it because of the cover art. Book covers are important to me.

Back to reading history next. Reading history, drinking de-caf coffee and tea, eating marzipan balls in bed. This exciting life.

*He faints in enclosed spaces.


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