Elsewhere: Writehanded Girl

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a guest post for Sarah Wilson’s Writehanded website. It’s an excellent blog about important health and advocacy issues, and it was wonderful to be included.

Here’s a snippet:

Yes, when I’m clothed and in company, I look pretty darn normal. Pink-cheeked, four limbs, certainly not frail or underweight. But when have those sort of things ever really been barometers for health?

Even the most uninformed people in NZ society are aware of diabetes, for example. The average diabetic will be, well, average looking.The average IBD patient is equally average. Some of us are underweight because our disease strikes our small bowel and we can’t absorb nutrients properly. Some of us are overweight because the diet that we can safely consume without physical pain and internal ulceration isn’t terribly nutritious – or because we’ve been on a course of steroids for months and the puff just keeps on coming. On the street, we’re just one of you, going about our business, because that’s what you have to do when you have a chronic illness – you get on with things, as much as you can, whenever you can.

I wonder if FW would be saying ‘You look pretty healthy to me!’ if he saw the cupboard I used to have that was brimming with colostomy supplies. Or if he went to grab another beer from the fridge and saw my Humira pens nestled between the maple syrup and the kewpie mayonnaise. Or if I had, as I was a little tempted to, shown off my wicked scars, which are still red and raised and some of which still require biweekly nurse visits, some two months out of surgery.

I also have a couple of pieces in the latest NZ Musician magazine – I’ll link to ’em when they go up online.

In the meantime, here’s a new picture of my face.

my face

You’re welcome.

The end.

What I haven’t read. A confessional. Of sorts.

It began in an unassuming fashion. He who I have called Batman here once or twice thought it would be a good idea to go through the Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 of All Time list and see what we (read: mostly I) hadn’t seen. And this selection would become a list of films to watch over the coming months.

Batman studied theatre and film at university and is a playwright and general writerly person on things theatrical. Let me just clear that up. I have an English degree and my entire adult life has been spent in bookshops. (This is me illustrating a clear difference in our backgrounds that will come back to bite me as this post goes on.)

Mercifully, I had seen #1 on the list – The Wizard of Oz. “Citizen Kane?”
“Er, no.”
“You haven’t seen Citizen Kane?”
“No.”
The Godfather?”
“I’ve seen most of it.”
The Third Man?”
“…I haven’t seen any Orson Welles.”
“You know he didn’t direct it, right?”
“…Yes.”
Grimly, we continued. We got to The Gold Rush. “You haven’t seen it?!”
“I haven’t heard of it.”
“It’s Charlie Chaplin!”
“I’ve never seen anything with Charlie Chaplin.”

Shocked and appalled would be the right descriptor, I think.

“You’ve never seen anything with Charlie Chaplin. Or Buster Keaton?”
“Nope.”
“That’s like… not having read any Dickens.”
“…

…I haven’t read any Dickens, either.”

Yes. It’s true. I have an English degree, coming up on eight years working in bookshops and I just spent the last year studying publishing. And I have never read anything by Charles Dickens.

Or Jane Austen.

Or Herman Melville.

Or Ernest Hemingway.

Or Kurt Vonnegut.

Or countless other ‘classic’ authors who, depending on your personal tastes and views, would horrify you, my literary readers.

And I’m torn between being totally okay with that and wanting to mend my ways.

***

I can understand Batman’s surprise that I hadn’t read any Dickens at my (admittedly very privileged and posh) school – but we actually read very little in terms of ‘classics’, except for Shakespeare (and Katherine Mansfield) – most of what I read was written post-70s. I was vocal in my view, in conversation with Batman, that Katherine Mansfield was far more important to the NZ high school English programme than Dickens or his ilk (Batman himself never did Mansfield at school). Pioneer of the modern short story? Kickass female author who came from Wellington?

Yeah. Mansfield. No contest.

***

The argument for wanting to ‘mend my ways’ that I wish to immediately tear down is one of a sort of cultural or literary obligation. There are too many books in the world that are Good and On My To-Do List for me to feel shame for not having covered them all. And too many of those ‘classic’ books are by white men. We all know that, by now. The modern literary canon is evolving beautifully, but when one stomps back through the puddles of the classics, it is SO drenched in privileged Y chromosomes that you just want to give up. Obviously there are exceptions – the Austens of the world, and such – but that’s a whole other BBC-dramatized kettle of fish to deal with.

The ‘mending my ways’ comes more out of the genuine recommendations that I get from people. Batman is a big fan of Vonnegut, and is keen for me to read some, not from a “so you’ll have read some Vonnegut” perspective, but rather a “because it’s actually really very good, and I think you’ll like it” perspective. If someone will personally recommend a classic to me, I’m not going to jerk away just because it’s older than The Luminaries. I just don’t feel as if every single book on those Top However Many Books Of All Time* lists are necessarily going to be up my alley. 99% of people I interact with seem to love Breaking Bad – I just don’t get it. Sometimes, there will be books that I just don’t get. So feel free to tell me that Middlemarch is amazing, or that nothing will every compare to Wuthering Heights. If I trust your opinion, I’ll roll with it.

As for the being totally okay with it end of things, that seems pretty clear, right? I’m a young woman living in a city brimming with new literature – AND I work in a bookshop (one that hosts a tonne of launches, to boot). I am constantly inundated with new suggestions of what to read – from co-workers, from reps, from customers. I am tantalised by covers of new releases on a daily basis. And new release books tend to sit higher up on the Eternal To-Do List than older titles, because of the whole bookseller business. New books mean publicity mean people are asking about THOSE books more often. So it pays to be up-to-date.

Which does lead to an interesting segue, though… but one for another time. Recommending books (as a bookseller) when you haven’t read them. Lord know I know more about the average book than most people, but that certainly does not mean that I’m more likely to have read it. I’m professionally good at rehashing other people’s opinions, I guess, and reading reviews and blurbs like a champion. But I’ll elaborate on that later. Another time. New year, more posts, and all that.

As you were, readers.

*Despite my supposed disdain for such lists, there is still obviously a place and time for them on occasion – and with movie lists, as mentioned at the beginning of the post, it seems a little more doable since you aren’t committing as much time. Just so that I don’t seem like a total hypocrite in one post, you know?

“I’m gonna censor the shit out of this lies”

Batman wants me to write about him.

“What do you want me to say?” I ask.

“Just anything,” he replies.

And then he looks over my shoulder and says “Oh, don’t write that!”

But I tell him he deserves it. And he does, really, for the previous transgression of captioning photos “You should take a photo and put it on Twitter.” and the like.

He is currently playing on his DS, swearing angrily at Yoshi and Mario. He wants me to clarify that it’s actually “Yoshi as Mario.”

I remember now – he did mention earlier that Yoshi was wearing a Mario hat. His beeps and boops are interposed by “YEAH!” “GET THE FUCK AWAY, YOU FUCKING SHITHEAD! THAT’S MY FUCKING SILVER STAR! I NEED THAT!”

Then he made me read all of this back to him, after complaining, “but I’M the one who puts real people in my writing!”

“I do need it, though! I need five of them! I’ve only got three, and I don’t know where one is, it’s tormenting me.”

“I just don’t know how this fits into your personal brand. No, make sure that you write that, because I feel like it fits well into this character that you’re creating.”

So, things about Batman, this character I’m creating.

He’s a real swell writer. A published poet, as he likes to point out. He’s hilarious, mostly. Except when he’s driving me round the twist. His favourite hobby is convincing me that he doesn’t understand pop culture references that I make. Straight-up lying. The frequency has died down, but that just means I’m less likely to see it happening.

He has a great beard. And some questionable rapping abilities. He’s pretty good at Mario, too – or dedicated, anyway. His car has a broken window and he has several Fringe awards. He owns more Popular Penguins than I do, and also has a copy of Sarah Laing’s The Fall of Light, which impressed me.

Despite his Mario commentary (“oh MAN, it’s LITERALLY raining bombs on me. I don’t know what that means, but it’s probably a really potent metaphor”), he’s really very eloquent. When he wants to be. But you probably knew that. He loves Doctor Who. You also probably knew that. I felt as though I’d passed an important test (spoiler alert – I probably did) when I managed to successfully name the actors of all of the (TV) doctors of days gone by.

He says “hey, Merf” (but spells it “Murf”) whenever I mention my sister. He just looked at the screen and did it then. Like his words are automatically eaten up by my computer screen or phone and end up relaying a message out to Waterview.

Now he is pointedly saying things that are beyond dreadful, grinning (I can see him in the glow from our screens (and following up with “I’m just saying these things so that you won’t write them.”

He knows how to play this game. (And Mario. He found all the stars.)

hello again, friend of a friend…

Hello.

It has been a while!

Eventually, I will finish the follow-up to the last entry (AKA the Amanda Palmer/Emilyn Brodsky experience), but for now, here is a brief life update.

I have been busy. I have been unwell. I am still both those things. Hopefully the unwell one will abate sooner rather than later, but it’s hard to know with twisted insides like mine.

I have moved house since last I spoke, and now I officially live in a little cottage that I rather love in Mt Cook – which I also love, because the name will perplex all non-Wellingtonians kiwifolk. But I am finding myself spending more and more time at the apartment of a certain theatre-making someone who we will refer to herewith as Batman.

Batman’s really great.

So that’s been part of the distraction too. Being sick, finishing up coursework, ramping up work hours, stressing about overdue reviews, writing articles on genderqueer rappers (SO RAD – will link when it’s up) and living in a sudden and altogether unexpected state of early unfurling relationship joy.

Today is the first day of December. The first day of summer, and yet the temperature outside is reading at 6°C right now, when the wonderful Wellingtonian windchill is taken into account. That’s 42.8°F, for strangers from strange lands. I know that people in the US seem to start their seasonal dating from the solstices and equinoxes, regardless of anything, the beginning of December shouldn’t be that cold. A small temperate regret with regard to moving to this more southerly clime.

But that’s one of few regrets, these days. Wellington is a melting pot of wonders, and even though I know that there is suburban life beyond the Aro Valley and Newtown, it always feels so much more magical and creative and full of possibility. So I have no excuse not to be writing, with the whole coursework-finished-up and hypothetical-better-health-on-the-horizon things lingering. And particularly the spending significant amounts of time with another writerly type thing.

Since part of why Batman decided that he liked me was reading my words on this here blog (I’m as confused as you are, dear readers, but I’m not complaining), and we both managed to accidentally muck up doing NaNo, I’ve decided that I’m going to get back to my blogging roots and post something here every day for December. No guarantees as to what it will be – poetry, health venting, prose, reviews – but it’ll be something. And I’ll try not to cheat by only linking to pieces that have been published elsewhere.

So say The Writer.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

…and I’m sick. Naturally! Evil vile lurgy winding its way through the bookish types of Wellington. Hoping that tomorrow dawns a little healthier. It’s really an inopportune moment for this to be happening.

That being said, while being attached to my bed and/or couch (bed yesterday – forced self to couch today) I have been productive – I’ve written a book review for Booksellers NZ, I’ve made a ‘Briar Does Books’ video for reasons not altogether known (watch it below), I’ve interviewed a musician for one of two NZ Musician articles I’m currently working on (busy busy bee!). I’ve also ‘finalised’ the Sargasso Press website (as much as a website is ever finalised) and am quite satisfied with how it has turned out.

I’ve also been Making Plans of various sorts. Big publish-y projects – more on that as it develops. And it will. I’m determined to make it happen. Fitness/fun-time plans, like finally learning to skate properly. I’ve had the derby skates for about five or six years now, about time I actually used them.

It’s going to be grrrreat.

Now, back to Doctor Who and healing vibes and tannin-tummy-regret.

CURRENT THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING

READING: Wake by Elizabeth Knox (among other things)
WATCHING: Season 1 of Doctor Who / Season 4 of Torchwood
LISTENING: Eb & Sparrow (self-titled LP)
DRINKING: Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro black tea. YUM.

twenty-four and maybe falling

Arriving home in tears, clutching an absurdly large pizza box (full), after sitting on the bus (full) next to various Wellingtonians who all would have appreciated more elbow space than my pizza permitted. Some foodstuffs just aren’t destined for public transport. It was dark (of course, June, poorly laid plans) and the buying of this ridiculously large pizza seemed like a kind of self-flagellating binge – go buy this giant pizza, and then cry about the fact that you have to eat it buy yourself, because there is nobody to share it with. The judgement and raised eyebrow of another person would have helped, perhaps, then voluntary consumption of a slice on their behalf – save you from yourself (god knows that needs doing). But no lights and no faces, a hollow house, again.

I wrote myself out of it, almost. An evening in front of a screen, closed eyes and recollections. It’s alarming to think that the way to escape is in vegetative television or in reliving memories from the mid-nineties. My imagination runs away, building itself into towers before I can catch up, and I am no match for its solid foundations. Susceptibility to words and numbers – names making me miss things, rather than people. Having someone to cuddle as winter sets in (fiendishly strong), having nieces and nephews to snuggle and read to and fulfil of those impulses that I really ought to not be having for a few years yet. Having someone to just exist with, another presence even when silent.

Now, listening to The Magnetic Fields. Love is Like a Bottle of Gin – sure is. The night of my birthday, I had one gin and tonic, nothing special, my usual concoction / an ex persuaded me to stop drinking them for a while, claiming that gin brought me down / but in combination with life/twenty four years/food it broke me down overnight, on what felt like a cellular level. I tried to get up to get painkillers, but it was half an hour or so before I could sit up and move enough to get to the water and pills. I nearly called an ambulance on several occasions, crying. I didn’t know if I counted as an emergency or not. I have kept tramadol and ondansetron beside my pillow every night since.

So there’s something gin-love-sick related in there. The bottle of gin in my ownership at present is Gordon’s, which was cheap option exchanged for delicate memories. My grandfather’s name was Gordon, and there were Gordon’s Gin boxes used for storage in their basement, which I always giggled at, even though I didn’t really know what gin was. I don’t know who lives in that house now; I wonder what happened to the pool table. Next time I’ll try to pony up the dollars for Bombay Sapphire. Yellow flowers sit so perfectly when it has been emptied.

Back to ‘school’ tomorrow. Missing real-life publishy-stuff already, and the fact that I’m pre-emptively stressing about being stressed it not a good sign in the least.  I’m disconcerted by the fact that basically every day I find myself thinking ‘I really just wish I was at work full-time, instead of mere afternoons and Saturdays’. I keep trying to find the energy to write, but it is buried deep, which doesn’t help any of the mood situations. Maybe it will get better. Maybe it won’t. I just know that there is a sense of relief and safety and welcomeness on Willis Street that there isn’t on Dixon. I love publishers, I love wielding the red pen, I just don’t like how much trying to get there is dragging me down.

I reconfigured my room today, so now from my bed I see books rather than my desk – enjoyment rather than work. Maybe this will represent some sort of cosmic mental shift, but I fear that that’s overly optimistic.

It’s hard.

world IBD day

It is May 19th – at least in New Zealand, it is.

On this day, the following things have happened throughout history

Anne Boleyn was beheaded (1536)
Nellie Melba, the soprano and namesake of a delicious dessert, was born (1861)
Oscar Wilde was released from prison (1897)
Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge and totalitarian dictator of Cambodia, was born (1925)
André René Roussimoff, AKA André the Giant, was born (1946)
Marilyn Monroe sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to JFK (1962)
Tu’i Malila , the world’s oldest known tortoise died at 188 years old (1965)
Jodi Picoult, Queen of Depressive Chick Lit, was born (1966)

Nowadays, it is apparently Malcolm X Day in the US, St Calocerus Day in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Greek Genocide Remembrance Day.

So a lot goes on on this day. But there’s another importance to this particular date that is of significance to me, and to many other people, even if they don’t necessarily talk about it as loudly as I do.

It’s World IBD Day, one particular day given to talking about Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Some of you will have read my pieces on IBD in the past, some of you may not have. So we’ll go with a basic level of explanation.

The first thing to remember is that IBD is completely separate from IBS. IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is fairly common, and whilst unpleasant, it is rarely a serious disease. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish uncooperative insides on anyone, but the reality is, it pales in comparison to IBD, so it seems reasonable that many of us with IBD get a little frustrated when people confuse the two. IBD is, by most accounts, autoimmune, putting it in the same family as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. We just happen to have immune systems that really, really hate our guts (ha!).

It is understandable that some people are quiet about their Crohn’s, or their ulcerative colitis (the two major forms of IBD). We have been conditioned to not talk about things to do with digestion – tell us about your migraine, sure, or your asthma, but we don’t want to hear about the fact that you have spent your day doubled over in the bathroom. So people keep silent. They avoid bringing up the subject of their pain and suffering, even with their doctors. I am one such culprit. I started presenting symptoms about a year and a half before they got to the point that I knew I really couldn’t go on with the way it was. I was a twenty year old girl, I wasn’t prepared to talk about ‘gross’ things with anyone. If I had spoken up sooner, it’s possible that things could have gotten under control more thoroughly, without having to go down the rocky path that I ended up having to take – that I am still very much on.

Here is a sample idea of what twenty-four hours in the life of a really bloody stubborn gal with majorly flaring IBD is like. I’ll start from going to bed, because that’s probably the best way to illustrate it.

10pm – Last minute bathroom visit before bed. Worst of the day is hopefully over, some pain, probably still some blood, maybe twenty minutes spent dealing with it. Take evening medications (4x Asacol, 1x prednisone, 1.5x azathioprine, 2x paracetamol because the doctors haven’t prescribed you anything stronger yet, 1x citalopram because the prednisone has caused fully fledged depression to finally take hold). Go to bed.
11pm – Still can’t get to sleep, too wracked with pain, clutching stomach, possibly sobbing quietly into pillow.
2:30am – Woken up by insides. Pain. Go to bathroom. Pain. Back to bed.
5am – Woken up by insides. Pain. Go to bathroom. Pain. Back to bed.
6:25am – Woken up before alarm by insides. Go to bathroom. Start getting ready for the day – this involves making sure that an ’emergency’ kit of sorts is in the bag.
6:55am – Second ‘official’ bathroom visit of the morning.
7:10am – Leave house, get to the porch before doubling back to go to the bathroom again. Keep in mind that on all of these bathroom instances, there is pain, and blood of varying amounts.

Does that give you an idea of how things are? I can’t go into the intricacies of the whole day, really – but I would always have at least one possible stop off on the way to work, I would always allow a lot of extra time to get there, just in case I had a really bad attack. I would generally go to the bathroom two to three times an hour in the first half of the day, lessening as the day went along. That was the reality.

And it’s the reality for a lot of other people too. We all have different precise symptoms, but pain is universal.

I was only diagnosed at the end of 2010, but even though it’s only been three and half years, I still couldn’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve had needles put in me. I’d hazard a guess at fifty blood tests, maybe fifteen IVs (and that’s not including all the times that I’ve been stuck more than once because my veins are so worn out). I have had IV infusions that almost much amount to chemotherapy (hardcore drugs given intravenously), I’ve been on drug trials (multiple injections in my stomach, every week, about seven vials of blood taken every week), I’ve been on steroids, I’ve been on the sort of drugs they give to organ transplant patients.

As canny readers will realise, none of this has properly worked. I had fifteen centimetres of my colon taken out last year (I have the laparoscopic scars to prove it – I’ll show you if you ask – my belly button looked super brutal for the first few weeks after the op). I have an ostomy, for now (cf. my happy clappy articles for various publications on the topic). These meds and surgery probably saved my life. People can – and do – die from complications of IBD. The internet IBD community has recently been mourning the death of twenty year old Alexandria Davidson, a Crohn’s advocate who spent the last months of her life in hospice care. I had only vaguely heard of her and her organisation before I heard about her passing, but it still upset me. IBD is not something to be trifled with – and to suggest that it’s a stomach ache that’ll go away if we eat raw vegan/paleo/gluten-free/insert fad here is deeply insulting both to those of us suffering from it, but also to those who have died as a consequence, and to their families.

I am still not well. I take painkillers most days, I take anti-nausea meds more often than I’d like. I get joint pain – my knees are below par, and sometimes my elbows,  fingers, and toes play up too. Now that I’m ‘healthier’ than I was, I would like to be able to get more active, but instead my body seems to be letting me down when I push myself. I still get intestinal pain – and after my specialists agreed, post-surgery, that it was most likely Crohn’s, not ulcerative colitis as previously though, I am living in constant fear of inflammation and pain spreading to other parts of my gastric tract, instead of limited themselves to my large intestine like well behaved UC symptoms should. I am going to need to have at least one more operation at some point in the future – and even that is scary. You never know exactly what will happen, what will have been done when you eventually wake up. You have to deal with a whole new kind of pain during recovery.

There is a lot to handle. Especially when you’re in a new city, still waiting to be seen by their gastroenterology unit, when you don’t have people around who understand what you’ve been through, when you no longer have someone to sit with you when you choke down colonoscopy prep, to rub your back when you’re in bed crying from the pain.

So, today, spare a thought for me, for your cousin who has Crohn’s, for your coworker who has taken time of for mysterious stomach pains. Think about the reality of what we live with, a life of pokes, prods and pain, a life of boxes of medical supplies at your door just to be able to function in society. It’s a mixed feeling when you get excited about the arrival of a new style of bag. If nothing else, just remember – it’s a hell of a lot more than a tummy ache.

fears

Tumblr has become my confession box; this place remains slightly more honed. But my most recent ‘yes, this deserves a frenzied Tumblr post’ moment seems to have grown and spread, an idea or a virus. The end result is what will tell the difference, I suppose, but ultimately it is this – what are the fears that are creeping on my mind, and will  writing them out, sending them into the internet (so the world and the ether all at once, audience depending) change anything? Will admitting them in this space lighten the load, or simply provide more ammunition for people to doubt me, and for me to doubt myself?

Only one way to find out.

Here some things that I fear. In moderate detail.

I fear that my best writing days are behind me, that I haven’t improved my craft since I was sixteen. I have not had creative work published since I was in my first year of university, and that was only because I’d been lucky enough to have work submitted by my glorious former English/Creative Writing teacher at high school. I had chances to make the most of noteworthy names in my undergraduate courses – but I was too anxious, too depressed, too insert-synonym-for-terrified to let my classmates see my work, let alone the tutors and lecturers that we had. I passed my stage three prose course with a fairly good grade – but I’m sure it could have been an absolutely glorious grade if I had gone to more than the first lecture and workshop and then had borderline panic attacks every time I thought about going to a class taught by Witi Ihimaera.

On that note, I also fear that if I did find myself accepted into a masters programme (as I have wanted to do since the aforementioned English teacher basically introduced me to the concept of the IIML etc), I would descend into the same I’m-not-good-enough spiral, that I would take all judgements too harshly, that I just couldn’t hack it. Honestly, that sort of fear is probably part of why I decided that I should investigate publishing and editing as a career choice. So that I could think critically about my work from the perspective of the people with the power. So that I could learn what people are looking for when they work their ways through submissions. The contacts and connections that I have made since I moved to Wellington are probably helping that somewhat – I don’t feel like the total outsider to the literary world that I once did, but I still live on the fringe.

I fear that I have shot myself in the foot with pursuing ‘journalistic’ writing in various forms, especially over the past few months. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing these things, but I feel as if it jeopardises some people’s opinions of me and my work. Yes, I have written reviews, and feature type pieces, and musician interviews – but that doesn’t define me or what my goals and intentions are. My first and foremost love is still prose (and sort of poetry too, even if I won’t admit that up front terribly often). Articles are a way of getting paid to write things. And that’s still rather amazing to me.

Not everything has to do with writing, don’t worry.

I fear loneliness. Oftentimes, since I’ve moved here, it feels as though my connection to friendship is through the internet, and real life is just a place where I work and go to class. I don’t choose for it to be that way, but I’m still so stuck in my ways of the same group of friends through undergrad, and attaching myself to D’s friendship groups – and generally just using the (reasonable) excuse of being too sick (both in body and mind, thanks hindsight) to put effort into things like socialising. I’ve lost my touch, if ever I had it – and the problem is, the people whose company I tend to like most are probably those who least feel the need for another person in their life.

Related to that, I fear my own desirability – both romantically and platonically. I look at myself critically, and struggle to figure out what would draw anyone to me. This is before I even take into account the whole busted gut situation. Sometimes I worry that I’ve thrown myself too far into this book world – it is, after all, all that I’ve ever really known. Music, and words. I know that in theory there is more to me than that, but so often I struggle to come up with anything else. It’s reading, writing, publishing – or listening, playing, singing. Every gerund rooted in decisions that I made many years ago.

I have never felt ‘attractive’. I have always been the pursuer in any potential relationships (not that my backlist is terribly heavy there), I don’t have people paying attention to me in any way. When the fact that I ‘like’ someone comes up (rarely do I let that happen, but happen it has), I’m always faced with a ‘wait, really? I had no idea’. I just don’t know how to show it. I fear that this is something I just have to accept, that people don’t consider me a possibility until I put myself out there, ready to be shot down. It’s what I have come to expect. I didn’t walk away from the three years with Dom and keep my ability to trust people intact.

I fear my body, what it does and what it may not be able to do. This is where things maybe get a bit heavy. You’ve been warned. I have a chronic illness – we know that. It’s not fun, but for the most part, it’s manageable. Ish. But let’s now add to that the fact that at my age my mother had melanoma. One of my medications also makes me more susceptible to melanoma. More recently, she has had seizures and been hospitalised for them.  My father, not yet 60,  has had arthritis for years, has another autoimmune condition (not Crohn’s, like I do) and has also had heart issues. So I come from… imperfect stock healthwise, shall we say. All of this contributes to a fear of my health’s twists and turns. I already get IBD-related arthritic pain, at times. Bad knees are not the domain of one in their mid-twenties.

And related to all of that, I fear for my future. I was an IVF baby. I took eight years to come about. And whilst my two younger siblings then came about naturally, there was obviously something not cooperating that needed to be nudged for things to start happening. Because of the strange tag thing on my ear, Mum used to say that they mixed me up badly in the lab – now it feels a little more self-destructive to say that, since my health has deteriorated. So I fear having a genetic tendency towards problems in the future – not to mention the fact that since I have already had abdominal surgery and am guaranteed at least one more… it all adds up to make things like pregnancy that little bit more difficult. And it’s all the worse to worry about these things when you don’t really have a means to make them happen, anyway. It was one thing for me to wonder about it 6+ months ago when I was in an established relationship – not as something to have happen any time super soon, but something to be aware of.

Now that there’s nobody alongside me, it feels pointless to even wonder about these things, but still they play on my mind.

There are other things, of course – noises in the night, disasters, the usual. I am lucky, I suppose (ha), that I don’t have any crippling phobias of any kind, I can dislike spiders but not leap away from them – I’d flinch if a mouse scurried by but I wouldn’t scream.

But these things, even if they are me wrapping myself in knots, are weighing me down.

on we shall go

Here’s a little book related denouement, to follow up the emotionally-fraught time that was last night. Since we all know that books are what I do best.

What am I reading at the moment, you may wonder? Well, it’s never as simple as answering with a one-title response. I am in the process of working my way through :

  • Unspeakable Secrets of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauchlan*
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green**
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Vol. 2 by Jacques Tardi
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card***

There are also a fair few books on my shelves/piles that have bookmarks at a partway point, but that I am not currently actively engaging in, so to speak. They are the next tier to work my way through.

*Ought to finish it before I start my work placement at VUP. Really good, just a little slow going.
** Re-reading. Because, you know, movie. And also I just need a little John Green in my life every now and then.
*** I have a lot of feelings about OSC & his books, and I will write a post about them at some point.

I’m on a real graphic novel kick at the moment, after finishing reading the first Sandman bind-up… but I decided to branch out from pure Gaiman, and test the waters of other areas. Since I thoroughly enjoyed the Adele Blanc-Sec movie, I figured that the graphic novels would be a fine choice – and so far, so good. I have been meaning to re-read Scott Pilgrim, but since that has a very specific connection to That Which I Am Moving On From In All Ways, I’m not sure if that would be sensible to do right now. The last thing I need is good books/movies/memories being ruined by my current feelings regarding the person in question. So maybe the Bryan Lee O’Malley material is off the cards for a while.

Per the John Green mention, you can probably gather that I’m not entirely removed from my YA phase of late – and after spending a fair while today trotting around the kids and teen sections at work, shelving and book-lookin’,  it seems unlikely to change any time soon – there’s always something new that I notice and leaf through and want to devour. Relating back to yesterday’s post somewhat, I really do wish that I had a bit of Olive-style company for many reasons, but one of which is certainly to be able to have someone to read gorgeous beautiful books with.

That’s probably a combination of specific child missing, and general mid-20s cluckiness.

Anyway.

I hope you are all reading wonderful things as well. If you aren’t, rectify this immediately. Go to your local indie bookshop and get a recommendation.  Buy a book. Make the publishing world turn.