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Hell is other people

Ok, so Jean-Paul Sartre beat me to the comment but, apparently, it might be appropriate for me.

I’ve been having trouble for a while with my hearing (have I mentioned this?). Not that I’m going deaf or anything, just that when there is a lot of noise I have difficulty in filtering out the background static from the things I should be concentrating on. As I spend a lot of time concentrating on the little voice in my ear (telephone headset, not the ‘voices’ you understand) the background chatter in the office has become something of a problem.

I’ve always been a bit picky about sounds. Not as bad as my brother (he’s moved house a few times just to have that gap between him and anything that might generate noise), but enough for it it cause noticable problems for me as I’ve got older. No idea what I would do without an iPod to cut me off from the outside world some days. It’s a bit of a shame, though, that an iPod while eating meals is not considered appropriate as hearing someone else eat is pretty much guaranteed to make me stress out. (I guess I should say I also can’t stand hearing myself eat or even be aware of the sound of my own breathing.)

Certain smells/combination of smells also seem to have an effect. Whatever you do, don’t come close to me or touch me unexpectedly unless I have already touched you first. Once the reaction has been triggered it’s like I’m sensitive to anything – if you are close to me I feel the warmth from your skin, speaking to me makes me cringe inside when I feel your breath if you look at my face while you do it. If I ever look so down and forlorn that all you want to do is give me a hug then don’t. Just don’t do it. One person can give me hugs (briefly and infrequently), anyone else does the same and it makes me want to run away screaming. The fact that in many cases this might not be an ‘appropriate’ response means I might stay put and let you trap me.

I was brought up to be good and polite. It made me docile. It took away my voice so much that I never even felt that I had the right to say “no” and to protect myself from the things that make me feel antsy. A year into the talking and my therapist has now suggested that I might be somewhere on the spectrum of having Sensory Integration Disorder. I need to do more reading on this. Potentially it could explain a lot for me. Equally it could just be some fancy excuse for me being a moody sod annoyed by just about everyone and everything. Is this just a title for something everyone has on a bad day? It’s not like anyone is going to suggest I’m autistic (middle-aged, female, communicative, terrible at maths, unable to draw from memory or do any other mythical autistic cool stuff).

I’m wondering that maybe, just maybe, there is a connection between this nebulous idea of Sensory Integration Disorder and my ME. Basically – am I exhausting myself mentally coping with the externals and therefore exacerbating the annoying drag of the fatigue and other associated symptoms that I have? It could even be the other way around. I have ME and that strips out my ability to cope with the day to day shit of having to be with other people.

What do I know? I’m just the weirdo in the corner.




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Do I really need a 3D TV?

Obviously the answer is no. No one really needs a 3D TV (and associated new 3D blu-ray player, reorganising the living room, recabling the surround sound etc etc).

Obviously I have bought one (and all the associated other stuff above).

I now have a perfectly reasonable 37″ HD TV and blu-ray player gathering dust in a room waiting for the glorious day when our loft conversion is eventually finished. As everything is in working order there was no need at all to go out and spend/waste money on such an expensive and unnecessary item.

What does this show us?

It shows that I live in a house that is already too big as I have enough rooms that I don’t use to be able to ‘lose’ a TV, stand and blu-ray player without tripping over them.

It shows that we have still not finished the eternal loft conversion. Actually, I moved something yesterday so I could paint a door and I found that the newspaper I was using to rest my paint pot on was from 2006. One day, I promise, the house will be finished. You’ll be able to tell when it happens when all the Mayan end of the world prophecies start to kick in.

It shows that I have a husband who really doesn’t like the idea of saying “no”, he just trusts me that the credit cards are not going to implode.

It also shows – and this is the serious bit – my self esteem issues and my odd relationship with money.

Low self esteem? Surely not?

Hey, I sit here typing to myself and feel unable to ask people to give up their time to listen to me. You betcha I have self esteem issues.
But as you’re already here …

Shopping is a function of comfort, like eating and drinking. When I feel ok I don’t need to spend, I also drink less and can even be trusted with butter in the house. I’m old enough to know that no amount of wine, or chocolate or Anchor (binge butter of choice) that goes into my mouth will make me happy beyond the moment of consumption. Shopping, at least, has the advantage of being low fat, low calorie and sugar free.

I go into a shop, I make it clear I want to buy a high value item. For however brief a period I have someone’s attention. For the time it takes to check the goods, pay for them, argue about the extended warranty and decline whatever else they try to sell me I am vaguely important and my opinion matters. (Obviously I know it’s not ‘me’ that’s important but the credit card I invariably use to pay for things but this my fantasy so I’m going with it.)

I take shit all day at work. I know, it’s my job. I have hopeless managers and no structure and little respect from other teams whose aim often seems to be to screw things up for me and the users I look after.

I have an illness that often means I can’t do things when I want to do and I don’t trust that my body will always be able to do what I want it to do. My memory is often shot, I’m tired and I ache most of the time.

But I go into a shop and we all pretend that I actually have control and that I matter and (ready for this) I don’t have to invest anything emotionally in pleasing the shop assistant.

So. I know I didn’t need to go out and spend £700+ on something that is little more than a new gadget, but in the build up to doing so it felt imperative that I did.

In conclusion

I do have to say though, Tintin in 3D is just about one of the most magical things I have ever seen.

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Oh no – pressure!

Anyone who finds this … you know it isn’t really real don’t you?

I’m sure you are all a figment of my (tormented) imagination. But now, shock horror, I’ve had some comments back that are not just the usual spambot adverts.

Maybe they are clever spambots. Maybe they are like actual people. I’m in a tizz. What to do about actual people stumbling across Planet Andrea? What happens when someone else pops up in the middle of a monologue (I checked, I’m sure it wasn’t me commenting on myself – it was vaguely complementary.)

I’m going to have to start thinking properly about posts, and layout, and readability and all those odd kinds of grown up things I’ve been ignoring. There are lots of buttons to click and widgets to wrangle. I’m not certain I can take the pressure.

On the basis that this is a most excellent diversion from anything at all constructive I’ve even downloaded the WordPress app for Blackberry. Female but not feminine was a little bit of something niggling away at the back of my mind so the BB came in handy to exorcise that in the wee small hours one night. I spend a lot of time analysing myself and some of the daft things I do. I’ve noticed now, however, that I tend to talk to myself in the form of blog posts so I expect there will be quite a bit more of that when I get into the swing of things. I do have an awful lot to get of my chest, maybe saying it without believing anyone will take notice or will hold me to it might help me work through it.

Much cheaper than actual therapy.

And the real reason for the site? How is that coming on?

Well, I’ve notice that in trying to cut my torrent of drivel down to manageble sizes I’ve discovered a few things.

  1. It’s amazing how many times you can read something and not notice the typos until you change the font/layout/formatting. I’m not saying I’ve got all of them but it has been nice to clean away some garbage.
  2. I do rather go on and on. What I consider manageable is gargantuan on line so apologies for anyone daft enough to click the links for the book pages. I do understand that it is harder to read something on line than in print format.
  3. It’s helped me realise that some bits – however much I like the ideas in them – can just be ditched. So they have.
  4. Posting can help writing. Writing does not seem to assist posting. I cannot do both.
  5. I’m not good at thinking up chapter titles.
  6. All writing needs discipline.
  7. About discipline …. ooh look, over there, something shiny!

And one of the strangest things that I have to admit to … I have a main character have a little rant about all the demanding little voices of the blogosphere, ranting and opinionated and ceaselessy spewing words to contribute to the downfall of society and now I am one of them (I haven’t posted that section yet, it makes sense in context.)


Anyway, just a little post to say that a couple of people who do not appear to be spambots have found me, dropped by and said hello. Very odd. Really.

And I’ve notice that my internal voice has slowly morphed into something like Eddie Izzard but not as clever, witty or charismatic. I know no one else can hear it but I am deeply, deeply sorry about that.

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Being female but not feminine

Growing up my parents probably thought of me as a tom-boy. I didn’t really go out, not very keen on rough and tumble. Not a tom-boy, just not really a girl. Ever. I used to dream that I would wake up and find out it had all been some mistake, that I really was a boy. Or, when I found out those nasty tricks that biology had in store for me, that at least I wasn’t fully female.
In the days before such things were discussed in public, at the back of my head, I think there was a very stressed trans (trans-something I had no clue) trying to express things that didn’t exist. This was at a time of 3 tv channels and the white dot (‘booooop’ would go the sound) at the end of the evening transmission so of course there was only the simple and obvious binary tyranny of male and female.
The time came and I woke up one morning and I bled. It was before I was 11, I’m sure of that. And because I was a glumly logical type I remember sitting and calculating how many days of my life I would spend bleeding. Course then I didn’t know about the pain and the moods. But I knew about feeling different, feeling wrong, feeling dirty and disgusted with this body that I couldn’t trust.
Let’s say the transition to woman was not one I embraced.
Thankfully, I guess, this was also a time before the invention of Photoshop and the more recent trends of what seems to be expected. In the halcyon days when Brut for Men was about as sophisticated as personal grooming got, before adverts about female topiary and being told how enjoyable periods should be I just kinda put my head down and waited for the forty years or so for it all to be over.
I didn’t want anything to do with boys. What use were they for?
Brought up to make do with the hand I was dealt it never once occurred to me that things could be different or even that should want to be happy.
I lost my virginity at 17. Lost is the wrong word. Decided to find out what the fuss was about is a better description. I met a friend of a friend. He was 21 so I figured he would know what he was doing and that was that. No mess, little fuss, no sense of loss. The earth didn’t move, but then I never expected it to.
25 years on and I’m on my 2nd husband (3rd if you count the one without the paperwork). I’ve had a number of experiences along the way – thankfully another affect of age is that things were less dangerous back then. I have to say, though, that I still don’t have the faintest idea of about ‘feminine’.
I’m still uncertain about clothes. Attempting to buy underwear that I am comfortable with (somewhere between strict function and frills and bows) can bring on panic attacks. I’m still convinced when I see myself in a skirt/dress that I look like a bad transvestite. I’m hopeless with shoes and make up is a foreign country to me.
What am I trying to say?
I present as female and I prefer men. Let’s face it, deep down I am lazy so I guess I’ve just got used to being me. I know there are probably labels for what I am, and if I was starting the journey now there may be other routes open to me that would make something of those labels.
If you see me on the street you might make an assumption about me. Have fun with that. x