Gner gner ner ner nrrrrr. Gh. That’s the sound of frustration. I’m back from my trip. There was good: I was cooked for, we watched new (last 2 years) films on a giant telly, I met and formed a relationship with a museum new to me (the Ashmolean* – like the British Museum but smaller and emptier). There was bad: accidentally spent too much because of poor planning and confusion, ate a lot of crap secretly, didn’t do the things I was meant to do because my friend just didn’t engage. And there was ugly: frustration at my friends stemming from them only discussing things I have no connection with and talking over me/ ignoring me when I did try to speak – so it was like being in school. I was bullied in school, I was ignored when I wasn’t bullied. These friends are older than me and I met them at University and after. It was like being in the Twilight Zone because all they talked about was houses and buying houses and property prices, which is exactly what my Dad does. I don’t own a house. I never will, but people don’t understand why I’m not interested in property. What my Dad and friends don’t understand is that to me property (the ownership of) is a major status symbol – it makes them the dog that pissed on all the trees, and their discussion of it is exclusive. Quite literally in my case. I have never had a problem discussing people’s houses etc. in the past. Never. I’ve listened to hours to people discussing how many bedrooms they want, the kinda roof tiles their dream house has, what they want in the garden. And it’s been ok. I’ve dealt with the fact that that will never be me**. But when I am invited to visit in order to help someone undertake a task because I have the skills to do it***, but I end up a) listening to them talk about their new projects, dreams etc. and b) listening to them and a +1 friend talk about houses for 6 whole hours, and never get to do then thing I travelled to do, I get frustrated.
This is a Spoonie**** thing. I only have so much energy. It took a lot of energy, planning and sheer will power to get to Oxford. I went to help my friend do a job I’m trained to do (and also to see some of the city – I’ve not visited properly before). None of this happened. But the energy, the spoons were still used. I gained next to nothing for my spoons. It was very like my holiday last year, when the same thing nearly happened – I felt bad/ was made to feel bad because I wanted to leave the house. But this was worse because there were 3 of us, and the only thing that was talked of was houses and furniture, and other people’s projects. I wasn’t asked how I was once, I wasn’t asked what I was doing, working on, what I wanted to do. In addition to this, one friend made assumptions about my calligraphy work which displayed rather painfully the fact that she’s not listened to or read a word I’ve written to her about it. She wants me to help her with her art project, help her in her new life in a new town and to make things for her to sell on a stall etc.***** which I have never said I’ll do. When I explained what I was doing the course for, she seemed horrified: it was obvious that my careful explanations over the last 6 months have not been taken in. This is extremely disheartening. Said friend has recently begun learning a new skill, and I have listened to her talk about it, looked at photos, read messages, sent links and followed her development. I spent 3 hours talking to her about it yesterday, only to discover she had not paid any attention to what I was doing. In addition to this, when I brought up doing the job I’d travelled to do (pricing books for her to sell) she dismissed it over and over. I wanted to show her how to search and price her books for ebay or to sell to dealers, but there was never time, and eventually, she dismissed it – ‘oh, I’ve looked on X and there weren’t any, so I’m going to give them away’… ******
I know I am sensitive at the moment. I have my periods, I am more open to slights, and I’m tired after the travel. But this has happened before, over and over, and this time it really bites. My friend loves making money from buying and selling. If the shoe were on the other foot, she would have sat me down and made me do what she wanted, would have chased me up when I got home to see that I was maximising the money potential of my books – because her time is valuable and if she sets it aside to ‘help’ people, she expects them to be grateful, not to waste her time. Now, going to stay with a friend in a nice city is never a waste of time, theoretically. But for a spoonie, for someone like me who is easily tired and suffers from anxiety, it is. I sat anxious and jittery waiting for her to want to start learning to price. Waiting for her to do the thing I was there for, because after that I could relax. But no. No relaxation. Then hours and hours talking about property. Actually, hours and hours of me sitting, listening to two people talk about something I have no experience of, listening, excluded to a conversation of which I can have no part. It was the exclusion that got me. There wasn’t a conversation I could take part in. When my friend and I were alone, she just talked at me, or asked me questions relating to her new hobbies. When the second friend joined us, everything was about the house she has just bought (I’m glad for her – she needs a change), how it would be furnished, how much traffic goes past (there’s an app for that) etc. Even when I did try to chip in re: decorating (because I (unfortunately) have ongoing and seemingly unending experience of that – my Dad has just destroyed another room) I was ignored. I felt like I should have put my hand up to speak. In the end, I just had to get a cab and get away. I’m glad I did. I spent 3 hours in a lovely museum, added to my fridge magnet collection, learned a new word (‘Janiform’), got to see some famous marbles, and had an excellent bacon sandwich.
Where does the title come from? What has it to do with boring conversation? Well, it comes from an old, rather racist joke: ‘Old Indian Proverb: Man go to bed with itchy bum, wake up with smelly finger’. Well, I’ve gained stink finger from a different problem. As long time readers of this will know, I have chronic constipation. It’s been going on so long that I can’t really evacuate my bowels without using my finger to push from inside my cervix (yum!). Today, on returning home, I got the dire urge to poo. Even when the urge is powerful, I can’t go without digital help, because my faeces is too large to leave quietly by the back door. EDS, IBS and codeine usage has messed up my bowel. So there I was, experiencing my usual heavy period (during which time I don’t usually poo at all as menses step up the constipation) when my body was trying to go very fast. I did the usual and realised I was in trouble. The bolus (another word for poo) was so large it was bulging through my bowel, and pushing my cervix closed. I had to do some serious and careful manipulation to sort the situation out without making myself the Inside-Out Woman (prolapse/ piles – all the fun of the Anal Fair). The reason my turds were acting all Fast and Furious was because of the stress I had felt earlier in the day, and then the relaxation and calm that came with the museum and then the stress of the coach journey home. Though the problem was resolved (not solved) without too much pain or bleeding, I realise now I have a proper problem: I think I have some kind of prolapse – a Rectocele – where my bowel just wants to get way to close to my vagina and cervix and tries to burst through and join the party. I’ll let you do the Googling. This is not a fun thing. And considering I’ve been self-evacuating for 9 years, I doubt a change in diet and some Kegels******* is going to do it. But we shall see. And we shall have to see soon, because I can’t go on almost literally having a poo-baby every time I need a dump. I’m nearly 40 for Chrissake, I wanna shit like a grown up, even if I will never have a house of my own, and free rein when it comes to curtains, sofas and plants.
** Genuinely. I got over envy/ jealously of people having ‘normal’ lives – job/ career, house, family – a long, long time ago. I don’t know the difference between envy and jealously, but I have never wanted anyone NOT to have something so I could. I was brought up an ardent Christian, and to wish loss on anyone is not done. I did used to get a bit covetous when I was a teen and til I was 24, but then it went away. This doesn’t mean I like being excluded and talked over.
***Like Liam Neeson in ‘Taken’ I have certain skills. I can price second hand art books, I can draw shoes, I can hear double entendres where there ain’t any…
*****Basically be interested, involved, invested in her progress (as I am) while not taking any fucking notice of what I’ve been doing, and not even pretending to give a shit.
******As with pricing anything, there is a method that works. I know the method, I could make her money. That was at least 50% of the reason I travelled to see her and stayed with her, even though I find it difficult to travel and find staying in strange places anxiety inducing.
******* Pelvic floor exercises. Sorry for all the asterisks and thank you for sticking with it, here is something ‘Janiform’ – which means to be two-faced, like the Ancient God Janus: