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Homework: What do I need?

I went back to see my therapist last week. So far, so ho-hum.

We’d had nearly three months off. I shouldn’t have let it go so long, got myself so wound up … so much pain and then the inevitable wait before she could slot me back in. Why hadn’t I gone back sooner? I was ashamed. She’d asked me to try something over a New Year break and I’d made a complete balls of it. I admit this. The sky doesn’t fall it, of course not, I am the one paying for her services after all but this then becomes the start of another uncomfortable hour when she tries to get me to stay to the point.

We talk about disappointment, we talk about being let down, we talk about my fear that if I do ever have the argument I should have (whichever one screams out of me first) then no one will come after me when I walk away. We talk about the constant anger and simmers, and roils and eats away at me … and now I think that I feel it so much because I am the one who lets me down the most.

She sets me more homework and makes me write it down so I don’t do my usual wriggle on semantics: What do I need? Not a treat, not a want, but what do I need that would be beneficial to me. A sentence beginning “I need …” (a common tendency is to avoid “I” when it’s something important, kind of a drawback when needing to update a CV).

This probably doesn’t sound too difficult … mmm. The inside of my head can be a random place at the best of times so trying to get me to think coherently and consistently about myself tends to be an exercise in cat herding. What do I need? Cue a jumble of random shite ‘cos I really do have trouble sticking to the point and can over think things as simple as ‘would you like a coffee?’

Would I know  real need if I fell over it?
Is a want just a need but without the commitment?
If you don’t have needs you can’t be let down … oh, could be getting somewhere, can I grasp that or will it slide away again?
If I don’t have needs I don’t have to put myself first. If I don’t have needs I don’t have to say, “no, don’t talk to me now, I need to [insert activity] … “. All the time, the words sliding away because my head can’t hold on to them and I have to sit and pretend that it’s ok … no, don’t mind me … no, whatever you want to talk about … no I really don’t mind you distracting me from the one thing I’ve waited hours to see and you come in and talk all over it so I can’t hear any of it (ooh, that sneaked under the radar, I wonder if it showed on my face at the time?)

Then I remember she came at me, from left field, with a question about this bloody albatross of a book. Was I making progress / would I have anything to show her?

Maybe that is my answer, my sentence should be “I need an hour every day with no distractions so that I can work on my book”. It doesn’t sound much, it doesn’t mean that an hour of writing would get done (honestly, you do want to know how long this has taken – thank you internet explorer for crashing just as I made a breakthrough here and I didn’t have a draft saved so I’m now trying to get my head back where it was). It’s a kind of nice, non-threatening statement that shouldn’t trigger, you know, that argument and gives me a space without guilt.

Who knows, it could even lead to articulating other needs … steady on there, dangerous territory. They bubble up, unbidden, scenting a hint of freedom, the odd background noise of my head throwing images at me that I’ve tried so long to supress. I think about odd lines from the book, when Gihon is afraid I think he is me, when he says he feels old and fat and ugly and unwanted … he is me.

SmileFor some reason this was the image I had as soon as the words were said, “What do I need?” I just want someone to look up and smile. The image itself is nothing but a distraction, the feeling is an ache that could finish me.

Gihon is desperate to change. He is incapable of confronting his need and taking responsibility for it. He waits like it’s not tearing his heart out.

Maybe I just need to be needed.

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Falling into Fandom

I have always been a science fiction fan.

Many, many moons ago this was something that was accompanied by a shuffling of feet and those understanding glances to my parents that it would just be a phase I was going through.

2000 AD coverI blame 2000AD. I am so old I actually read 2000AD from prog 1. At some point it must have occurred to me that these were things to look after so they were always kept neatly and never left my bedroom. The newsagent was under strict instructions to put each copy in a paper bag so that our address would be on the bag rather than the comic (I said this was a long time ago, back in the days of paper boys).

There were few outlets for my interests at the time so I ended up mostly with hard science fiction. Somehow fantasy just seemed to pass me by. I think I was 12 when I tried the Lord of the Rings. Can I share something? I never got beyond the first few chapters. I read the Hobbit some years ago under pressure from a work colleague who couldn’t believe that I wasn’t that keen on Tolkien (that’s ok, he later confessed he’d never seen Blade Runner – but that’s young people for you). As long as I imagined reading it to my niece I could cope with it; main problems were with the singing, and the excessive number of interchangeable dwarves, oh and the bucolic jollity of the shire. I get the war references. I could read it as if it was a set book for English Lit but I didn’t really enjoy it.

As an early teen there was Dr Who on BBC  and Tomorrow People on Granada (Google it). I remember Blake’s 7 and all but refusing to go on a school trip to France when I realised that I would miss the very last episode. Mollified only by the thought that my parents would record it for me (audio tape, this was long before VHS in the home) I finally went off on holiday in what might have been my very first ‘mood’.

At fifteen I discovered a shop. I can’t even remember how I found it … maybe at an event at UMIST (so shabby now in recollection but the world hadn’t invented hi definition back then), maybe from an advert in Starburst. Anyway, two busses and nearly an hour and a half from home and there was finally a shop. Odyssey 7 … Oddities Heaven as I sometimes heard it referred to.

Sixteen and I worked Saturdays in Oddities Heaven. I absolutely loved it. After a first stab at Uni I dropped out and completed the year in the store before restarting my degree course. Genuinely there are times when just do not realise how happy you can be.

I studied, graduated and got a job and kept at it even through all the times I hated it. Being a fan didn’t seem to be an option any more, it just wasn’t ‘grown up’. Dr Who had been canned however many years before (and long after I’d found it embarrassing and wouldn’t admit to still watching it). I completely lost track of comics and trends. Pre Internet we got by on Red Dwarf and Star Trek TNG and the X Files, and I began painting Warhammer figures to while away the long hours of nothing between work and bed.

Please insert whatever mental montage works for you to imply passage of time and second husband later …

I started my current job in the summer of 2008. It had never actually occurred to me that the Internet could be a fun place to hang out. I thought it was a work thing, useful for research but not somewhere where you would really want to be. I was introduced to YouTube (Darth Vader working on insurance company claim line I believe) and, I guess, things just went downhill from there. I became a fangirl. Not a fun fangirl. I didn’t hang out and chat – I searched and copied and compiled in a rather organised and efficient manner, I didn’t play I obsessed. At the time I began to live on IMDB, Photobucket, some American gossip sites (ahem, Just Jarred – sorry all) and then actual fan sites. Always too scared to expose myself on line I lurked in the shadows and felt vaguely guilty about the essential emptiness of what I was doing.

Four years ago I got my first Blackberry. I got Twitter, I got Facebook in my pocket. Things got more connected, more distracting and – dare I say it? – more fun. WordPress arrived Jan 2012 (but I haven’t been here that often). I have recently fallen heavily into the recursive hole that is Pinterest. I know these are all just distractions. I know that I ‘should’ be writing instead of falling prey to the time vampire of fandoms. But fandom is nice. It is warm and welcoming and includes all kinds of people who I will never meet, never have to impress and never let down. It’s almost like being back in Oddities Heaven but without the drawbacks of meeting the public and with all the added benefits of Photoshop.

WholockModern life makes things permanently present, always there to watch, listen to, reread … to obsess about. Technology has replaced the stress of trying to work out what was going on in the background of a hissy C90 tape with the ability to replay – again and again – whatever that scene was that made you feel that strange tingle.

It’s always there. As we learned in Silence of the Lambs we covet that which we see every day. Fandom is a cup cake of tingles. It draws you in, it can feed the addictions you thought you had hidden deep down. It can give you validation when you need it, it can give you new things to covet. So much, so immediate.

Yes, that’s me in the queue for the Desolation of Smaug. I still might not be keen on hobbits or dwarves but a dragon with a voice like that …

Got to go, must be time for me to ship some Johnlock.

 


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A contradictory person

Waiting to start the long journey home. No connection so this is just a draft on my phone. A week away. A week where again I’ve annoyed myself by not really getting any writing done. Then, I’m not the most logical of people at times, I mean it’s so obvious a diabetic ME sufferer just has to go on a ski holiday in the Pyrenees.
I come and I look at the sky. I love the sky here – the blue so pale, the contrast with the white on the spines of the mountains. Somehow it feels like potential.
I don’t ski too much now. I’m limited in what I can do because of the inevitable fatigue that follows making too much effort. I am the lazy one on blades, the one who makes a run look like a nonchalant glide as I try not to over-tire quadriceps that, most days, even have trouble getting up a flight of stairs.
Sometimes now I wonder if I should have these weeks. Skiing can be an expensive holiday when you have to stay in places big enough to live in on the days you shouldn’t move. Not for me any more the real skiers hotels of rooms just big enough to sleep in, where they expect you to be up the mountain most of the day and eat like a horse at night. Now it’s an aparthotel with dvds and wifi and space to just do nothing without crowding my other half. In theory I should be writing at these times but brain goes when legs go. Is £1600 worth less than 4 days on snow and 1000 words?
But then there is the sky. And the sky calls me. And those times when my legs work ok, and I have no pain … the feel of gliding, the sound of the snow under your blades. Nothing but the white and the sky.
If you ski in Soldeu, Andorra, next year look out for me. I’m the one in vintage Guantanamo orange Roxy, probably with blue hair, and I’ll still be making it look easy.
… 10pm. Home & knackered. Work in the morning. Tipping down in Manchester. Reality sucks.