Duck Date

So called because I really, really like the word ‘duck’.

Ah, fair readers, an update.

I am still not enjoying calligraphy: it exhausts me. But term is soon ending. My teacher is excellent, my class mates are jolly, it’s just me, being shit.

We have designed and ordered the wardrobes for the small bedroom. We have quotes for the floor of said room. Dad has to arrange to get it plastered before anything else can happen. He has not done this, but has nagged me constantly about all the things I have to do.

We have had a heatwave here in the UK. After 5 days of sweating like a biatch, and eventually stinking like a dunghill, the heat has lessened and I am left very, very sore. My joints hurt and I am a column of stiffness from the top of my head down. I am seizure-y. I am very, very stressed.

My Dad is nagging me about preparations for our holiday. Every day he mentions something I’m meant to be doing. He has driven me to hide in my bed. He never, ever remembers/ learns that stressing me out, nagging at me, makes me ill. It makes me spiral rapidly into a depressive hole. During the heat I was unable to do anything – my body just doesn’t function at high temps – and it is not my fault. But rather than acknowledge this, the man who spent those hot days sitting in a darkened room in his pants with a fan blowing cold air onto him, just treats my actions as if I choose not to do things. Yeah, I choose not to go out and see my friend’s art show, I choose to have joints that don’t work… fucking asshole.

I planted seeds about a month ago in our raised bed and they are doing very well. I fear I will miss their flowering by being absent. I will record their bounty for you all, because heck, I grew something. All the bought flowers and plants have perished – I should be miffed but I don’t really care. Shit happens, and if shit ain’t happening, you’re dead.

Time to listen to ‘I Claudius’ on BBC Radio. And practice Italic letters. Urgh.

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America After The Fall

The name of the exhibition I went to at the RA was apt, as was the tone of the information boards and the whole curation – it was knowing, and it was very much about current times. It was a small but busy show, in the lesser part of the Academy buildings – the Sackler space- and focussed on non-abstract painting in 1930’s and 40’s America. The starting point was the Wall Street Crash and New Deal that saw Artists being subsidised by the state to create public works. The *star* of the show was meant to be Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’- a famous image of a dour man and woman standing in front of a farmhouse – an image much copied and parodied, almost as much as the ‘Mona Lisa’. For me this was not the golden image of the show – though it was very popular and used in promotional materials – there was no one stand out. Instead I was pleased to find artists I did not know, and that made connections, interesting, pleasant connections, in my head. I learned that America had it’s version of Communist Russia’s ‘Social Realism’ – not anti-Social Realism, but Capitalist Realism. In addition I learned that the US also had it’s version of Otto Dix’s sad, seedy, blasted visions of Weimar Germany. I like these types of connections. I like the buzzes and pops and sparks that happen in my head when I see them. I like, I get great pleasure, from finding artists new to me.

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

Grant Wood (1891-1942) – ‘American Gothic’ 1930

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Paul Cadmus (1904-1999) – ‘When the Fleet Comes In’ . 1934

This image, with it’s naughty sailors and painted ladies and gents made me think of Dix.

The picture I spent most time with (I went round the show twice – it was very crowded) was actually a seemingly unremarkable image of industry ‘And the Home of the Brave’ 1931 by Charles Demuth (1883-1935):

189743_3738441

Why? Because of an odd nostalgia. The bottom third of the painting, where the colours become pastel and the shadows disappear, reminded me of the work of  Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005) who apart from being born in my part of London, was an artist I only got to know at A’level. The Summer weather (it’s rather hot in London at the moment) always makes me think of my teenage years, and I believe that I’m thinking of them even more than usual at the moment. I dislike Summer because my body cannot cope well with heat, I have oily ‘bad’ skin which glistens in Winter,  I sweat an uncomfortable amount and worst of all, because it makes me think like a teenager. My teen Summers were spent in a room with all the windows open but the curtains closed, watching TNT and Cartoon Network. I had no friends and my parents didn’t encourage activities. I feel a little like this at the moment. I’m in the house a great deal and the only person I talk to regularly is my Dad. As you see, I have been out, but rather than breaking my funk, it seems to have added to it. I’m going to hear a talk on Queer Art (or the Queer in Art) given by someone I’ve known for 10 years, but I’m so nervous I’m fretting about my clothes like I were meeting the Queen. When you don’t socialise, you get out of practise. I need to flex my social muscles.

DACS; (c) DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Patrick Caulfield – ‘Still Life: Autumn Fashion’, 1978

I have done one absolutely positive thing: I planted seeds in my garden. I finally got round to it. I sifted the soil on the top of the large bed (it’s taken 2 weeks working at 15 minutes a time), added lots of mixed wildflower seeds, and covered with new soil. It’s very late in the year to be doing this, but let’s hope it works. One of the Hellebores gave up the ghost, but the orchids are doing well – Orchid 2 has 6 flowers out on 2 stems, one flower waiting and what seems to be a new spur. Orchid 1 has one stem, but it’s a mighty one – knobbly, difficult to train and with the air of a dragon’s penis about it.

 

The Business Ending

In a follow up to my last shit-filled post…

I thought the diarrhea had gone: it hadn’t. I had to take off one of my volunteering days (4 hrs) and just ‘go with the flow’. I wasn’t right until Sunday. Holy Hell did I feel bad. I still don’t know what brought it on – what I ate or didn’t that wrecked my guts, but I’ve been on cereal ever since. And I’ve started pro-biotics. I did try them years ago, but they made me ill, however this time a very knowledgable friend of mine suggested I make sure they were dairy free – and voila! my stomach feels better. My bowels are still being random, but I don’t hurt inside all the time. I don’t have a ‘dairy problem’ that I know of, but maybe my guts are more sensitive than I imagined. Me being me, my body is not being kind – you stop having cramps because of your bowels and along comes Menses. Ahhh, the Red Wedding. And what a jolly time we are having here in Bowermanland. My joints are burning – ankles and knees – I want to sleep for England, and I even managed to go to bed without putting any sanitary protection on AT ALL because I was so tired. Though this is the first time I’ve done this (another first after last weeks tube debacle) and though I believed I would be horrified, it was actually quite useful: I bleed heavily – I have anemia, I’m a big lass, I’ve always had 5-7 day periods- I’ve always been scared of just bleeding, but now I’m not as scared. 6 hours in bed (bed usually means bloodbath) and I was not a horror show. A good learning curve.

My facial cysts are still being bastards – very slow to shift at the moment, a bit of my tooth stump (one of the right upper incisors) broke off and I had to go to the dentist. It looks like I’ll have to have the roots removed. Calligraphy whupped me again – I was already exhausted after the stomach aches and cramps – so gaining upper body pain from the calligraphy was just a bonus. And I’m writing this rather than do my home work. I’m back wearing a wrist brace because my old RSI decided to come back a few weeks ago after a calligraphy class. So everything is just a snowball of little annoyances. I’ve not been to an art show in quite a while now, but on Tuesday (post dentist) I did manage to get to the late night opening of the Hunterian Museum in London, the last before it closes for 3 years for renovation. I was very pleased I managed to make it – that I made the effort. My womb and my knees didn’t want me to get there, but when I did, I saw versions of them in jars, which made me chuckle. I last went either as a student (2004) or as a trainee librarian (2007). One of the first things you’d see is an example* of a spine and hips with kyphoscoliosis. I remember when I first saw it, it made me feel awful, sick, embarrassed – my face went red- because that was me. But this time I did not feel like that at all. That is the difference between 20-something me and 36 year old me. I didn’t balk at anything that I saw that was related to me. Even when I heard other people go ‘ewww’. That is the glory of aging. That was a good reason to drag my womb to Lincoln’s Inn. A reason I had not considered.

*An actual 18th century skeleton wired together. Just a trunk, sitting there.

https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums-and-archives/hunterian-museum/

The Business End

A brief re-cap of certain things, just to get started.

My Mother got diagnosed with Terminal Cancer almost exactly 2 years ago. On learning this my Dad went into a frenzy and decided to re-decorate the house. Something he’d procrastinated about since 1993. When Mum died, 6 months later, she had spent her last weeks in a shitty hell hole of builders. She got to see 2 rooms an a hall painted.  2 years on, we have… 2 rooms and a hall painted. The rooms have shelves. One, the ‘Book Room’- a bed room converted to a library/tv relaxation room, is completely finished – curtains, sofabed – everything. The ‘living room’ is not. It’s curtains lie waiting to be put up, and brown paper covers the windows. We also need to get a sofa. Though he nagged me about getting the curtains, and made me very ill during that time, my Dad has been glacial about putting them up. But he has destroyed another room. I spent my Lent clearing out the smallest bedroom that had been used for 9 years as the Ultimate Storage Space, just so my Dad could go in and take the paper down etc. because that kinda thing makes him feel useful. So I’m living in a dump. A dump where you think you can put a line under something, but then a 72 year old arsehole decides to do his own thing without telling you, but thinking you’ll magically know what he’s going to do, and wants to do.

I am not well because of this. I’ve had a year or more of stress and my body is now trying to give up. It started with an increase of depression and suicidal thoughts – not getting out of bed, not eating – my hair started falling out, skin went to pot. It gained pain from my clearing and moving so much stuff in such a short time. The pain was compounded by my trying to do other things to make me happy – gardening. Now my guts have gone. I don’t have a gallbladder. I have IBS and also I’ve had pancreatitis. My stomach area is very sensitive. I do go days without eating properly because I’m too tired to cook. I’ll eat cereal. I have constant constipation and I do get really random diarrhea. Last week I spent a lot of time feeling very sore and very ‘ill’ – headachy, not wanting to eat. I really fucked myself up on Saturday  night by over-doing my calligraphy homework and staying up until 6am in a weird state of agitation, which happens when I get a second wind. Sunday I felt like something tried to kill me and went back to bed. Monday: calligraphy, Tuesday: exhaustion and pain from calligraphy – stayed in bed. Wednesday: Shit, have to return something to a shop in central London – I can’t afford not to. And I seem to have diahoerrhea too. Ok. Take pills. Get home from a particularly fucked up journey (lots of extra walking, lots of stairs up and down, and for the first time, I got on the wrong train on the Central Line that I’ve been using for almost 30 years). Cook, eat, feel sick, get the shakes and sweats. Try to vomit. Have shower. Fuck. Gut ache. The gut ache (cramps) started at 1am, and is still going. I’ve farted and pooed and taken all the pills, but now my stomach feels like a prize-fighter went to town on it. My heart rate is up and I feel groggy and just wrong. I’ve also broken out in cysts – I have cystic acne. It had calmed down, but the recent stress has just fucked everything up. One side of my mouth is just a big, plague like sore.

Eurrrrghhhh.

And the worst thing is, there’s nothing I can do about it.

I spoke to my therapist about my Dad and she said 2 things ‘You’ve got to take control and make boundaries’ and ‘Can you move out?’. My Dad doesn’t understand boundaries, and at heart believes he’s doing me a massive favour by letting me stay in my family home rent free. For this favour I have to do what he wants – clearing rooms for example (his favourite phrase is ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’ – he pays the bills so what he says, goes). Else he’ll get nasty. He’s always gotten nasty with me, as I’ve written before. He doesn’t do the same to my healthy, successful, older brother. Can I move out? I live on £125 per week. I’m lucky to have that. Super duper lucky. Living at home causes me stress – I’d be throwing myself out the window if I had to manage my own space. I can’t lift dustbin bag.

So I’m sitting here in my nightie, with a bealing crusty lump by my mouth, an aching gut, farting and running to the toilet trying to fix whatever my gut is up to, in a house that feels like an avalanche.

 

A Punch to the Face, Igor

With Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and the pain I get from/ with it, sometimes something happens physically to pull me up. It feels like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRq1Ksh-32g

I did a stupid thing last Friday: I watered the plants in my garden using a can – because I needed to mix fertiliser in with the water.  A week later I still cannot move my neck properly. The lifting and manoeuvring of the can did something to my left shoulder, which developed into a neck problem which woke into a hint of Torticollis and Bang! Agony. I’ve not been in so much pain and lacking in movement like this for a very. long. time.

This brought on pain everywhere else, the need for painkillers, thus a lack of bowel movements, and then a couple of migraines. I still can’t feel my left hand properly. And I still can’t move my head, or hold it straight. I’ve been doing a proper Marty Feldman as Igor this week (I have bug eyes and a hunch), and see that this might last a while.

All I want is to plant some seeds, and look after my (non-lady) garden. Bah-Humbug!

marty

Marty Feldman as Igor in Mel Brooks’ ” Young Frankenstein”: I sing and dance like this too:  (the one on the right – though I do know the words and tune to ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ and before I lost my voice to Dysphonia, used to sing it quite a lot. I did used to sing in choirs and bands…):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1FLZPFI3jc

A Rumble and a Rabble and a Tumble and a Babble

Enter stage left, followed by a bore (your shadow).

Being a depressive is boring. Very boring. It’s boring for your family and friends and the universe. It’s boring for your doctors and teachers. And it’s boring for you, or I – the person with the parasite sitting in them, fucking shit up without a pattern or a care in It’s world. People want to find patterns, they really, really want depression to be a rollercoaster, even if it’s a ride as long and complex as the Hadron Collider. They want there to be something to trace and follow, to overtake and conquer. In my 31 years of experience with the Pork Tapeworm of Depression, I have found no easy pattern. The disgusting gnawing fucker always takes me by surprise. And since I’ve been living with it 31 years, I am an expert on it. I know it better than I do my own arsehole, and I’ve been wiping that longer. The most surprising people get depression. We are always so *surprised* when the beautiful, the rich, the successful admit, with downcast eyes, or direct-to-camera glares, that they have a Black Dog which they are ashamed of (it shat on the carpet again). Fewer people are surprised when people like me have depression. Indeed today I was told that having depression was what I ‘do’. ‘Well, it’s not surprising, is it…’. Not surprising. Why? Because I’m ‘different’. Not special, don’t get me wrong. But different. I’m sick. I’m ill. ‘You’re different’. So we are surprised that the beautiful, rich, successful get depression, but not the ‘different’.

I am different. Genetically. I am literally different. I am an amalgam of 5 percents. I have a list of medical phenomena going on in my body, most of which affect only 5-10% of the population singularly, and very few people as a collective. In fact my body has helped more people be diagnosed with these conditions because I took part in medical best practice consultations and my body does not present in the typical way for my conditions – it’s a contrary bastard that way. Since before I was a teenager, I have had to stand naked in front of Professors and medical students being prodded, poked, scanned and x-rayed. This continued until I was 18 when I said ‘fuck it’ and gave in to the break down that had been long brewing. I’d had 6 years untreated with a twisted spine and 6 years untreated with a frozen, swollen ankle I could not walk on, 16 years only being able to see out of one eye, 7 years of all body acne, 3 years of Trichotillomania, and 12 years of Depression. I could hear dog whistles and could not bear being touched, or washed. I could not read properly (Dyslexia) but everything I did read, or see or hear, I remembered and re-played over and over and over. The Cancers and deaths of my Granny and well beloved Aunt, the bullying by my sibling, cousin and nearly everyone I met at school, the first Cancer of my Mother. The catatonic state my Dad went into when he lost his job in 1994, at the same time as my Brother developed an expensive drug habit at university, and my Mum had to work full time. I broke a bit then. I was chipped a bit then. I was definitely ‘different’. I am definitely ‘different’. But not in a fashionable or exciting or sexy way. Nor in the sad statistic useful to the government way. I am not a drug user/addict or an alcoholic, and I do not fuck my way to happiness.*

Working Class Dyslexic Depressive (with suspected Autism), Chronic Spinal Pain, Scoliosis, EDS, IBS, Tinnitus, SSCD, Piles, No Gallbladder and a degree in Art History from a Well Known College in London seeks to be Depressed in a Surprising Way. For a Glamorous Reason. Like the Sexy/Tragic Heroine of a book. Not because she’s ‘different’ and it’s to be expected. Not because it’s inevitable, and boring in being so.

Postscript: I had my big KABOOM breakdown at university. My body went haywire and my mind could not keep going with study while dealing with it (as it had a GCSE, A’Level) I was diagnosed with the EDS, and even while completely bonkers and taking medication that would cause me to lose my Eidetic (‘Photographic’) Memory**, (oh and wearing a neck brace from a car accident) I took part in studies to help people understand EDS. At 22 I was again prodded ‘do you mind if a student sits in…’, and part of experiments (Pain Management courses, National Review for the Treatment of Adolescent Scoliosis – I represented the minority of my age who have not had surgery) for the benefit of my Doctors, their students, other people with my condition and Mr. Kite. Mentally I’ve not been the same since. My ability to concentrate and remember has been scattered to the winds. My depression has grown as more bits of me have failed, and more life experiences have happened – the usual.

*Do Not Misinterpret my opinion of alcohol, drug and sex use. You are free to do what you want with your body. I am discussing/ highlighting how depressed people who can’t work and are disabled physically and mentally are depicted by government studies and in the press. Too frequently we are represented as turning to ‘morally bad’ practices to make ourselves feel better, but practices that make us a drain on the community, on all the ‘normal’ ‘hard-working’ people who pay for our NHS treatment and our DWP money. It’s OK to be an alcoholic, an addict or whatever ‘negative’ thing is the flavour of the month if you have money and if you are the right ‘type’ of person. Then you can’t be used as a statis-stick to beat other people with. You can’t be fought over and mauled by people for a headline, a byline or a speech in Parliament. Theoretically, I don’t fit that. I have middle-class taste, a middle-class degree and a working-class background.  I don’t drink even monthly, I’ve never smoked, I’ve never taken drugs that were not prescribed for me, and I damn well wish I could ride myself into a orgasmic oblivion. I’m ‘different’ you see. I can’t even get the ‘self-medicating’ stereotype right.

** I even lost the ability to read, which since I had 2 more years of university to do, made life very difficult. I still have periods where I can’t read. Words run around on the page, or mean nothing. I had to work very hard to use my memory to remember the shape and meaning of words so I could read them – that was how I learned and studied. And then poof! it went. I had to rely on hearing things. Now that is gone – my reading has slowed down greatly and my vocab has shrunk – I just can’t grab the word I want from my memory, and my speech has withered. This has hurt me deeply, and I lament that I cannot converse as once I did. I was very good at remembering things people told me, and then talking to them of them the next time I saw them – 2 or 3 years later. I remembered babies, dogs, cats, partners, even favourite foods – on first meeting. But now that is gone, and being deaf, I am left behind in conversation, with only my own anxious voice in my head. That worm again. Nibble, nibble, crunch, crunch.

The Little Eden: Ice-Cream and Italics

Today Bowermanland returned to Calligraphy class, and remembered that she finds it difficult. Holy Hell am I sore. I mean I was in pain doing the class, I could barely concentrate because that happens, the lack of concentration, but now I feel beaten with sticks and my thumb is not co-operating with the rest of my right hand. Hunger was part of the problem: I’d not eaten properly over the weekend – only cakes and biscuits. Tiredness was another: I slept all of yesterday, but it wasn’t enough. The trip to Oxford took a great deal out of me. On Saturday I nearly passed out in a shop, and ate shoddy food stuffs when I got home because my body was craving food in the way it does when I want to faint. Feeling faint, or seizure-y is the time when I am least in control of myself. My body wants to do something and I, ultimately, can’t stop it. It wants to be on the floor, it wants to jerk around, it wants me to eat sugar laden shit. And it won’t stop until it does as it pleases. When I’m in the grip of these feelings, I’m like an animal. I get rude and furious, and then completely removed from what is going on. The fact that these episodes do happen in public, and that they can render me unable to speak is not a good thing. I’ve not felt faint as I did for a long time. And the feeling was very strong. I know that the days away were the spark, but also carrying lots of heavy things did not help. I had an urge to do things. To achieve – a continuation of the burst of happy energy I gained from visiting the Ashmolean. But my tank was empty. I’m very lucky the human version of the AA didn’t have to be called because I’d not topped up my oil.

I mention ice-cream because I’ve just eaten a tub of Haagen-Dazs. Sometimes this has to be done. I’m still bleeding, so I’m blaming my hormones. I had lunch/dinner at the college I attend for calligraphy, but I got angry and frustrated on the way home (I had to buy some things for the house) and prayed the little shop near the station would be open for me to get ice-cream. It was, I did.

House stuff is going to feature a bit more than usual. For Lent, I did not give up anything, but decided to do something actively: I decided I would clear the room Dad had asked me to clear, my old bedroom and then study, which had been filled with successive crap from my Gran’s House, the Loft and then the Great Destruction of 2015. My Mum was an excellent packer of things, and she filled the small room with a house worth of items. I gave over 20 bags of clothes and accessories from that room to charity, and threw out bags more. I made myself physically and mentally ill going through everything, and once the room was empty, my Dad destroyed it, ripping off wall paper and tearing up carpet. I have an awful feeling he’s booked some people to come and design wardrobes for it. And a secondary awful feeling that he’s booked them to come on Wednesday morning, the same day I have a Psychiatric appointment. My Dad is clueless as to what stresses me out. My appointment is at 12 noon, and from what I gather (he’s not actively told me) the people are coming at 10am. So they’ll be here as I’m getting ready for my appointment, and I will be called in to talk to them. So I’ll be super stressed. My appointments obviously mean nothing to my Dad. He was very anxious for me when I had my tooth removed 2 weeks ago. He took me to the hospital and waited for me, and let me have the next day to sleep without being disturbed. But obviously that is an absolute physical thing. A visible, real thing. Whereas my Depression and mental illnesses various (Anxiety, Trichotillomania, Self Harm, Suicidal Ideation…) are not. Even writing this makes me tired. Nothing changes.

The Little Eden is my mental joke name for my garden. Few of the plants I put in last year survived. Either my cousin removed them by accident when weeding, they got eaten by weeds or they didn’t take. This year I’ve decided to take a different road to the garden. The raised beds (about 4ft 6″) are being carefully dealt with. The one in shade has been planted for the long haul: yellow and purple Hellebore, white Anemone, and a Spurge. Anemone grew on that site before, and I chose a Spurge because it plays a part in one of my favourite historical novels*. The raised bed with full sun is getting a totally different treatment: I’m going to sow wild flower seeds in it. I’ve never grown anything from seed, not even the childish Sunflower, so I’m very excited. I watched my former partner grow lots of vegetables from seed, and some flowers, and now I want to do it. I’m going to prepare the bed and sow directly in to it, a mixture of cottage garden wildflowers. Separately I’m going to grow Sunflowers and Lupins – in trays indoors before putting them out. This is all an experiment. Last week we planted the Spurge etc. and replaced some of the dead Lavender in the garden. For several days afterward I felt very calm and happy, and I realised that I had not thought of many of the things that make me feel sad or suicidal. When I was a teenager, I planted random things in the garden (2 of which survive – including a red Camellia, now 20 years old). I used to go out and water them and look after them, and it helped me. I was in control of something, and had something living under my eye. All of that feeling was lost or removed over time, but now, I feel a little bit of it coming back. I’m hoping that by growing things completely – from seed – I will feel more of that. Yes, it is a sense of control over a living thing, which could be considered bad. But, it is not an animal or another human – I don’t have 20 rabbits or ferrets, or an unhealthy baby – they will be Cornflowers, Poppies and other such things. If my work pays off, I will be adding things to the world. If not, there will not be a negative – a loss – only a waste of my time.

Orchid Watch: Orchid 2 is flowering and growing a new leaf. Orchid 1 is finally growing a stem to replace the original 2 flowering stems it came with. I’m waiting for it to get long enough to be trained up a stick. It looks like they survived the re-potting and other disasters. I recently moved a Myrtle bush from a pot to the front garden – it was stagnant. I looked after it over winter, made sure it didn’t freeze etc. but it looked like it was trying to die on me. I’ll keep you updated about that as well.

*’Venus in Copper’ by Lindsey Davis – a historical crime novel set in ancient Rome. Spurge is toxic, but it’s everywhere as a decorative plant, in London. Particularly on Roundabouts and council properties…

 

….Wake up with smelly finger….

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.

*http://www.ashmolean.org/

** 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…

****Spoon Theory: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

*****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:

Short and Pointy

I’m going on a trip out of  London and I’m not looking forward to it one bit. Not only have I got The Red Tide (periods) going on, but I’ve been super stressed (my seizures have come back) and I’ve over used my body. I’m frazzled. It’s totally the wrong time for me to be getting on a coach. I’m leaving in 2 hours.

Why am I telling you this? Well, really I’m just recording it. I have been stressed, and scared and angry and lots of feelings based things. I’ve been very active (gardening, cleaning, tidying) and I’m so sore and burned in the noggin. I’ve not been able to sleep, yet staying awake has been hard. My eating patterns have gone all over the shop. Yet I’m still keeping to my agreement to see my friend. I’m documenting it here so that I have a record of it. So I know that even though I really, really just want to lie in bed today (like I did yesterday), I haven’t. I’ve showered and packed and am still going. I don’t want to, though I love my friend. I suppose I’m documenting it so that when comments are made about how lazy I am, and how I don’t do things or have a life, I have a record and I can say ‘Well, actually, on the day I went to visit my friend, I was bleeding like a pig, in the days before I’d hoovered and washed my bedroom floor, filled the garden and bought necessaries for the house, so that Dad could decorate a bedroom while I was gone. I do things, I just don’t do them like you want me to. If I didn’t do things, the fridge would be full of mould powerful enough to take over the planet…’ etc. My paranoia about not doing and doing and being worth the Oxygen is a bit strong at the moment.

I’ll report back about how Oxford survives my Blood Wedding.

In other news, I’ve been consciously cutting back on my pain pills. At the same time as trying to eat properly. The eat properly thing has failed since Sunday. But the pain pills thing is on-going. I’m still in pain, but I’m using my mind more to locate exactly where it is and ignore it. I know I’m not going to be able to do this all the time – I know that if I have an ongoing project or am in certain situations (volunteering/ calligraphy class) I won’t be able to zone in and out. I know that being out in nature helps (even if it’s just a park), but I’m trying to get back to when I was badass enough to do this mind trick. Same time I was badass enough to remember things properly….

Again, I’ll report on my progress.

The Little Anus That Could

Though I am enormous – 5’11, 15 stone – I am fragile and I am clinically malnourished. I’ve not had a gallbladder for 16 years and I’ve had acid reflux and IBS for over 20. It doesn’t matter how much spinach, steak and fruit etc. I eat, I’m always anaemic and Vit D deficient. I am on prescriptions for them. I am always tired, and frequently so very exhausted I can’t bring myself to cook, or even eat ready-made foods. Even though I am aware of this, I rarely am conscious of it. And my attitude has come back to bite me on the arse this fortnight.

I have been very, very stressed in the last month. My family is unhappy, there have been changes to my scheduled life that I was dreading and that have not been fully resolved, I have multiple medical appointments in the next couple of weeks, and my Dad has been a lumpen mass of Nag. Pushing through the first two and anxious of the next, I failed to remember that I have IBS, that there is a reason I take 2 lots of Iron a day, and that I can’t sit down and eat 3 massive bags of popcorn and expect nothing to happen*.

After a stressful day I consumed said popcorn. No poo happened for a few days. Then diarrhea. Ok, I brought that on myself. Burned throat, terrible taste in my mouth, terrible heavy breath… shit. Acid Reflux. Ok. Gaviscon and some bunging medicine. But the ill feeling, the heaviness and the exhaustion that had come with the yearning for popcorn didn’t go away. 2 weeks later, and the random hot liquid poops are still happening. I’ve changed my diet: proper food, meat and 3 veg. I take the Gaviscon and the Iron and all the things, but still the random hotness happens. And then nothing. Or something, which feels normal. Then abnormal. My joints have been aching and I’ve had to pull myself up the stairs. I’ve been sleeping 22 hours a day and my Dad has been nagging the beJesus out of me, calling me ‘a lazy bugger’. I’ve been scraping my teeth together in the night and dreaming of smashing them into themselves, waking with my jaw askew. My shoulder and neck pain is back, by feet feel like they’ve been run over by a steam engine** and all the hurts hurt. Oh, and my scalp feels like soup, allergy soup with dandruff crust croutons.

And it’s all stress. All stress. And I can’t do anything about it. It’s as such a pitch as to be un-reachable with my current feeble resources. Every night, and then every time I wake, I visualise killing myself. I’ve missed booked exhibitions, booked concerts, volunteering – everything. And I only realised on Sunday, when my Dad was out and I had the house to myself. Yeah, I stayed in bed, but with the window open and the light coming in. I read a book, a fiction book. True I nearly shat my pants, but I didn’t have any stomach cramps. I didn’t cry randomly. I must try, really try, to remember this stress/IBS thing. I must remember that not taking my Iron leads to me not being able to breathe properly (I stopped taking the night-time dose because I was having to take so many painkillers and was doing no exercise: I believed I’d never shit again if I took the Iron too) and I really really must remember that I can’t eat 3 bags of popcorn and get away with it.

*To my body. In fact nothing did happen, which was part of the problem: I think my body turned the popped corn in to bowel-crete. I’m certain that I’ve still not passed it.

**Not a train, one of these – used to flatten roads:

In my youth they were still used on our roads – I have seen one in action and everything.