Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What do you eat?

A good friend of mine (hey K!) and I were chatting the other day about stuff I do. I was talking about writing, about having done well in Maht's fiction comp and not being sure what to do because I like writing and I like maths and I like making films ... and she interjected:

Yeah, well you're totally an omnivore.

(you need to add a kinda laid-back-east-west-coast-mixed-up US accent there to get the full effect).

I love that description of me. It feels so accurate - I like the taste of numbers, I like the taste of words, I like the taste of music and pictures and philosopy and sociology and psychology and poetry and the combustion engine. I like the texture of journalism, I like the way true stories crunch between my teeth. I like chewy meaty things and silky soupy things. I like dry and wet. I like sweet and savory - sometimes even together. I like chinese and indian and street food and home made jam.

To make the point to myself, I just spent my lovely amazon gift voucher from Maht for winning the short story comp on a book called "Use Cases: Patterns and Blueprints" which is a high level theoretical study on best practice in software design for use.

In short: I am an omnivore - I eat everything.

What do you eat?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blogging game 2: Mystery Limericks

EDIT : I have added the answers after each limerick, but behind a link, so you can still play if you like!

A blogger called ******** from France
Was so talented given a chance
with a curly pink thing
she could make a pig sing
though she never did teach it to dance

... This is a mystery limerick. Click here for the answer

It is about someone in my blog roll. (About a post that they have written).

Their name has the same number of letters as the ******** (8).

I challenge you to find the person ... and then to make up a limerick clue about someone in your blogroll, and post it in the comments so we can all play along!

When you find each answer, don't post it in the comments ... no, because other people are still playing! Instead, email it to me, and later today, or early tomorrow (not that early, it's a bank holiday) I will make a leader board and put it up on the blog.

You will get one point for correctly identifying the blog / blogger (it can be a blog name or a blogger name). You will get an extra point if you identify a specific post that is referred to in the limerick. Don't forget that you can search a blog, and blogger for key words - you don't have the read the whole damn thing ...




under here I am listing the clues people have made up since we started

2 - by Ms Melancholy

A blogger called **** tried to please,
With a comp in his house of cream cheese,
Stray won it, the bugger
But he didn't hug her
Cos she only comes up to his knees

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

3 - by me

A blogger called **** did confess
of his liking for wearing a dress
he looks gorgeous and fine
when he's dressed the the nines
in a black number from M&S

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

4 - by Ms Melancholy

A blogger called ***** has a tongue
For words that are beautifully strung
She’s not easy to diss
For she sees what we miss
I think she is channelling Jung

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

5 - by me

A blogger called ****** did speak
of her need to squeal, squawk, pop and squeak
her top explanation
caused such fascination
She was bloody well post of the week!

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

6 - by Caroline

There is a blogger, I call him *************
Over him we do often swoon.
His talents are rather vast,
He crooned lyrics in the past.
But alas we will not meet him soon.

(leads to a blog, not a post) - Click here for the answer

7 - by trousers

In this post, **** never fails
To mimic one who writes tales
With warped typography
He's scared that she'll go off the rails

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

8 - by me

a blogger called ****** did paint
us a picture peculiar and quaint
she might cause you to giggle
if she touched your middle
but koumpounophobic she ain't

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

9 - by Ms Melancholy

******** has opened his press
Forced into it out of excess
One blogger has banned him
For chatting at random
Those rules, he can’t help but transgress

(leads to a blog, not a post) - Click here for the answer

10 - by Ms Melancholy

*** ****** has a blog that’s artistic
And an outlook on life that’s holistic
She’s starting to write
But it’s hard to delight
Cos she lives with a man who’s autistic

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

11 - by Clare

A blogger who knows about death
Has talent for stopping your breath.
But you know the one
She's **** * ***
And no, she's not called Beth.

(leads to a blog) - Click here for the answer

12 - by Clare

I like that ** **********
Surprisingly light and jolly,
She'll lift up your mood
Might even serve food
And def'nitely isn't a wally.

(leads to a blog) - Click here for the answer

13 - by Caroline

******* shows drawings of his past,
That through time and tribulations did last.
He always cleaned his teeth,
And was frightened of the belief,
That a bomb would blow up his house in one blast.

(leads to a post) - Click here for the answer

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

I've found Adam

This post presents me with a problem. The problem is how to communicate the fact that although Caroline is my friend, my very very dear friend who I have come to love and respect over the few months that we have known each other online, everything I am about to say is irrespective of that friendship.

So. Please take me at my word and I will begin.

Yesterday at 14.35 pm I had my copy of Caroline's new novel In Search of Adam placed into my hands by Clare Weber in The Friday Project offices. I was going in to town to get a train back out to South East London, for an appointment. By 14.50 I was walking into the underground at St James's Park tube. I took a picture of the book in my hand. I didn't know it was a 'before' moment. The beginning of a 'before and after'.

The train arrived. I sat down. I opened the book and began to read. By page 3 I was crying. On the tube. In front of people.

I need to qualify something here - I don't do crying at books, or films, or TV or music. The only book which has ever previously moved me to sob was JG Ballard's The Kindness of Women. Media which touches me with that depth is rare. The film Gallipoli, the death of Mark Green in ER - it has happened so rarely that I remember each occasion. It's not that I lack empathy, but I find it hard to entirely suspend my understanding that this is a film / book / tv show.

So. At page 3 I began crying. I didn't stop crying (or reading) until several hours later when I had reached the end. I am a fast reader, I am prone to reading books in one sitting, can eat up 2 novels on a transatlantic flight. But. But this was about Jude. Caroline has created a character who was so real to me, so utterly completely alive for me, that I didn't want to leave her alone. In the moments when I was not reading, when I was crossing the street, in the appointment, stepping on to and off of various trains, I ached to be back with her. I wanted to reach into the book and put my arms around her. I wanted to whisper I am here. I am listening. You are not alone. At times I felt that Jude knew I was there. I don't think I have ever experienced that with a book before. Have you?

ISoA is a sad book. A moving, desperately tragic story. But. But it's not a miserable book. It is without self-consciousness. Without drama. Without sentimentality. Which is remarkable considering the fact that it is a book about child abuse, written from the child's perspective.

There are lots of ways in which ISoA is a clever book too. The use of different fonts and sizes and symbols and the graphic layout of words on the page is not a gimmick. Caroline was once slated for having 'got her book deal with a few fancy fonts'. That is not the case. ISoA is bordering on visual art. The use of the fonts, the use of repetition, the layout of words on the page, they are a powerful multiplier of Jude's voice - they tell you things which Jude does not have the understanding or confidence to articulate. They add a layer of meta communication. They are crucial to the story, core to the writing. They are not formatting - weren't added as an afterthought ... I feel that this is how the words came out.

If I had millions of pounds I would have hundreds of thousands of copies of ISoA printed and issue them to every parent, teacher, nurse, doctor, social worker, psychologist, therapist, youth worker and politician in the country. I would simply ask them to read 3 pages, and know that they would read the rest.

But I don't. So, I will have to rely on the fact that I don't believe you can read a book like ISoA and not tell people about it. That people who have met Jude will carry her story to others. And they will, because, in short, In Search of Adam is a before and after book.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

What I need ...

... is a bloody good meme!

I have been wanting to post this week, partly just to shuffle the last stuff down the page, but I have worked (no kidding) 62 hours in the last 4 days. 40 in 48 in the first couple of days. Luckily I love my work, and I still get such a thrill out of loading the software I've built onto my Nokia N73 and playing with it on my phone.

But yeah, creative juices? I've been thoroughly squeezed.

Still, there are people in life who you can rely on to get you outta this kind of jam - I simply shone a giant "M" into the sky and there he was: Maht of The Moon Topples.

He told me he'd been following on from lovely goodthomas, who was feeling kinda needy in a non-specific vague way ... and without a therapist to hand, decided to turn to the font-of-all-knowledge (Google) to assist in his quest.

So, he ran a google search on "Goodthomas needs", and came up with some quite stunning observations. Maht found it to be similarly soul searching, and so it was a little trepidation that I carefully typed ("Stray needs" -home) into my google search bar.

The intensity I felt was not misplaced. Unhinged perhaps, but entirely justified. My results are below, followed by links to Maht and GoodThomas's quest results, and I tag Caroline, Ms Melancholy, Badger, Dr But Why? and Ms Pants to dare run their own search. Believe me, it's better therapy than six weeks of CBT. I shall be further dissecting my own needs later today. One of them made me cry (though that could be the lack of sleep).

Good luck. Don't be afraid, Google knows your darkest secrets and loves you just the same.

Stray needs:

Stray needs loving home

Stray needs help by 7/29

Stray needs money to continue

Stray needs to pick up some steam

Stray needs straw but I have hay not straw

Stray needs rescuing and money is no object

Stray needs to see a vet ASAP

Stray needs someone to take care of him.

Stray needs to possess a soulful spark

Stray needs all the TLC she can get

Stray needs to compile small real-mode programs

Stray needs roof over head, well-stocked bar.

Stray needs to see this. she has a thing for hampsters.

Stray needs to be screened for leukemia and FIV

Stray needs to get her butt in gear

Stray needs lots of love, patience and time

Stray needs the light to hit it just right to be visible

Stray needs to post!

Stray needs languages

Stray needs a fan club


Goodthomas needs ...
The Moon Topples needs ...

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anyone for EBT ... ?

I agreed to write this joint post with lovely Ms Melancholy, of Confessions of a Psychotherapist, after reading a post by PatientGuard: Borderline Personality Disorders Treated With Elastic Band NHS Therapy In The UK.

I am fortunate not to have Borderline Personality Disorder, but I have lost count of the number of mental health professionals who have, in their best I really do care voice, asked me whether I have ever tried pinging an elastic band against my wrist.

Or drawing on myself in red pen.

Yes, really – people who claim to have all sorts of levels of expertise in mental distress, will sincerely encourage me to try drawing on myself with a red pen instead of cutting myself.

They actually become quite irritated when I don’t put these two helpful suggestions into practice.

People cut for all sorts of reasons, none of them trivial. After decades of doing it, it’s no longer possible for me to quantify or qualify why I cut. It would be like trying to write a comprehensive list of reasons why you love your best friend.

Don’t get me wrong - cutting is not my friend. I’m not extolling its virtues, I don’t think it’s big or clever. But, for us choppers, it is reliable as a coping mechanism. And, as Ms M points out in her thoughtful post about self-harm and therapy from the therapist's perspective, most people who self-harm find that on some level it is what soothes them. Soothes them in moments of otherwise unbearable emotional discomfort. Restores them to calm and control in times of extreme turmoil. (Apparently some even get an orgasm-like kick - that’s not me).

If you present to your GP and manage to confess that you self-harm – something which takes a great deal of courage because generally the response to people who self-harm is still that we are attention seeking nuisances – you will be most likely offered a short course of CBT.

That CBT will endeavour, within six to ten weeks, to teach you to challenge negative thinking with positive thoughts, to use distraction techniques to ride out difficult emotions, and to substitute elastic band pinging for actual self-injury.

I can just about imagine the elastic band thing working for me if I was pinging it directly into my eyeball. A red pen could be useful if I snapped it in half and shoved it through my hand.

Anyway … I believe that CBT primarily provides an additional set of sticks with which a self-harmer can then beat themselves up mentally for not being able to put the ‘solutions’ into practice. We are already quite good at this; we don’t need additional training!

So, if the CBT ‘solutions’ don’t work – what does?

My own experience of working with four therapists in relation to self-harm has been that it is absolutely key that the therapist doesn’t try to offer these ‘solutions’ to substitute for self-harming. I had an initial false start with a therapist who wasn’t prepared to accept my coping mechanism, was an advocate of elastic band therapy (EBT) and wanted to enforce a contract that prevented me from cutting. I was lucky to find a creative and very open therapist who was willing to put aside her own natural discomfort and believed that cutting was too complex and too central to my identity and way of being in the world to simply cast aside.

The single most important thing she gave me was a space in which I could express my thoughts and feelings in relation to cutting and not be alone. Most self-harmers spend a huge amount of energy either hiding their behaviour or reassuring others about it. We are told, repeatedly, how distressing it is for those who care about us. We know this. I personally feel huge guilt about the concern that I cause to people who are close to me, and frustration that this doesn’t automatically prevent me from doing it. So, even in therapy, I feel a duty to protect my therapist from worrying about my physical safety – an instinct to not discuss it, in case I cause her upset.

Given that alcohol is a factor in at least 1 in 4 admissions to A&E, and that 1 in 4 adults in the UK regularly binge drink, I sometimes wonder whether there is something very artificial and socially constructed about this need I feel to protect my therapist from worrying about me. I know that many of my friends who have been in therapy would see a good session in the pub as a perfectly justifiable response to a difficult therapy session, and yet I doubt that they feel a responsibility to reassure their therapist that they are not being unsafe, or that their therapist would suggest drinking pints of Ribena, instead of beer, as an ‘alternative’.

I have had the most positive experiences in therapy in the moments when my therapist is able to be real about the dilemma they face – between on the one hand wanting me to be physically safe, and on the other hand believing that a coping mechanism does what it says on the tin. That’s ok - I want to be cared about.

If both therapist and client are able to accept that the dilemma exists equally on both sides, that there is a lot of examination that can be useful, but there will never be a ‘why’, that there is no ‘solution’ – simply a (very) slow growth in tolerance of emotional discomfort, until the need to use cutting to soothe and reintegrate is diminished – then you’ve got a hope of doing the work that will eventually make cutting less influential.

There are things your therapist says to you that stay with you forever, perhaps initially stinging and burning before later returning as a calm clear voice that points the way in times of confusion. I did not know at the time which of my therapist’s words would be so important to me. I am almost certain that my therapist couldn’t predict which of her sentences I would carry with me, and which would be left in the room. Most of those that echo were said in moments of intense honesty – in which one or both of us was frustrated, or teasing, or a mix of the two.

I don’t believe CBT allows much space for the relationship - for frustrations or for teasing. But apparently that’s ok, because they’ve got red pens and elastic bands.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lost for words

On Friday the 4th of May, I wrote a post about how I was so nervous of writing an entry for Maht of The Moon Topple's Great Big Awesome (short) Fiction Contest.

To be specific, I said:
I am a coward. I want to write something but ... but ... but. Yes. Paralysed by that internal chatter that informs me that it will be shit / boring / rubbish / cliched / nonsensical. Or, more likely shit, boring, rubbish, cliched nonsense.

So. Guess what?

I came first.

yuhuh! I really did! Really!

I can't quite believe it and I'm completely confused by how it happened. But most of all I am totally over-excited and hugely grateful to Maht for organising the festival, to all of you who put energy into encouraging me to take part, and to the other authors who wrote great stories and some of whom voted for me! Woo hoo!

There were some fab stories there. I particularly loved Ms Sign's horticultural chiller, Forget-me-not. I sort of feel like I must have fluked it, because I don't do that fiction-writing stuff. Perhaps that's the key - I've had 20 years to prepare for writing that one short story! I should surely quit now, before that difficult second album experience kicks in?

I actually ummed and ahed about whether to post here, or simply place my badge and be low key, and I thought sod it, I'm really chuffed, and my parents read my blog and they'll be dead chuffed as well, and deserve most of the credit for having put huge effort into encouraging us to read and write voraciously as children. And I'd like to thank my primary school teacher Mr Long, who taught me when I was 9, for being in favour of creativity and self-expression over spelling and neat handwriting.

So, er, I feel a bit shy, but you can read my story here. If you like. No pressure :)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lovely bubbly!

Goodness me I have some very talented blog and whole-life friends!

Lovely Badger's fab post about living with tourette's has been picked up by the BBC's disability blog Ouch. OMG! I'm living with a famous Badger!

And gorgeous Caroline has her very real very actual very tasty looking book in her hands today! It looks amazing, you can preorder the hardback from amazon, or go into a real life book shop and pick it up on the 15th June.

Talented Brumcunian wrote a left-handed ode of congratulations to Badger, which I have paraphrased here :)

Bad ass Badger bags great award!

Anyone else winning awards? Having books published? Being extra special?

Phew! What a lot to celebrate :)

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Monday, May 14, 2007

And the winner is ...

... omg Badger's post about tourette's has won post of the week!

Well done Badger! Seriously - there was some amazing competition - so you should be ultra impressed with yourself and also send a copy to any teachers from your schooldays who ever made disparaging remarks about you or your writing :)

I hope you'll do more writing now Badger - that you feel excited about it. You really should, if you want to of course.

In the not-quite-as-important-but-still-very-special One-handed Blogging Challenge, we have 4 winners!

Brumcunian gets a special award for having slammed every category, created a 128 character left-hand sentence, and submitted a ridiculously high and varied number of entries - I am concerned that he may find re-entry to the two-handed blogging world quite difficult.

Lavenderblue scored the highest single right-hand-only sentence, with 70 characters. Sadly lovely lavenderblue doesn't have a blog! Shock! But you can find her over at TheYellowDuckPond sometimes, or Anticant's burrow.

Drak put together a quite war-and-peace like tome of a story, a phenomenal 588 characters, plus 100 points for a meta-narrative, scoring about 10 times what I thought the maximum anyone might reach in this challenge would be.

And finally, the very dapper mr trousers, similarly a pond-dweller, and frequenter of Cas's comments, has been in fine form recently, with a stupendously long poem, which scored bonus points for actually being meaningful, rounding off a winning weekend in which he was also one of the fastest people to find the treasure on the In Search of Adam Map Treasure Hunt.

His poem, below, was one of the few entries which wouldn't make my mother blush. I am looking forward to checking out my google searches over the next few weeks.

A left-handed poem, by trousers:

A redraft was faxed
3 vast tracts
Ever crazed text

Geese were wet
Ferrets feared debt
Bears were taxed

Warsaw was afeared
Essex was scared
Crewe was stressed

A cast was wedded
Greta was bedded
Tessa was bearded

As we waved
We were arrested
Ever detested

Genius, surely?

It was all rather good (if not clean) fun, and I am thinking that blogging games are a good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. I might make it a kind of a regularish kind of a thing maybe. Apologies to those who don't like wordy spelling things. Non wordy things soon I promise!

I leave you with my Left-handed Haiku:

carefree dearest few
dare grab webs as vaster sets ~
we create great art


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Sunday, May 13, 2007

The One-handed Blogging Challenge

Lovely Ms M and I were chatting on google talk the other night, and both attempting to have the conversation with only one hand. She was drinking something lovely, whilst I was doing the classic post-op-must-hold-my-insides-in pose.

We started to play a game of trying to construct the most complex viable reply using only the keys available when touch typing with either your right or left hand.

And so ... I present to you: The One-handed Blogging Challenge.

The objective is to write something meaningful with only the right hand or left hand keys of your keyboard.

On the left side we have: QWERTASDFGZXCVB
On the right side we have: YUIOPHJKLNM

Punctuation will vary according to whether you are using a mac or PC keyboard. I will trust you not to cheat.

Only genuine spellings are acceptable - so "hi m8" is not a valid entry.

Proper nouns are subject to sensible discretion - so names of countries and major cities are kosher, but obscure villages in timbuktu are not.

Poems are definitely allowed :)

You get 1 point per character used. Repetition won't get you more points if it's just silly. Left-hand and right-hand will have separate high scores. If people start playing properly then I shall make a badge to give out as a prize and have a leader-board in my side bar :)

If you think this would work as a meme, tag someone!**

So - I challenge you to: Get started*


*Left hand viable

**If you don't, please just look away politely and I'll try not to blush. I'm still a bit painkiller addled and maybe this is only fun if you've not got off your sofa for 3 days.


p.s. I am sorry to my very lovely dyslexic bloggy friends for yet another game that is not very easy if your letters get jumbled up. I promise I will come up with a different game soon that has nothing to do with spelling at all. Please email me and tell me what you would like instead if you have any ideas :)

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Buzzed about blogging

Badger's post on what it feels like to have tourette's disorder has been shortlisted for Post of the Week!

Well done Badger!

Just 8 posts made it to the shortlist this week - so to be amongst those is a huge achievement.

A friend of ours recently said to Badger "Blogging is boring", and I'm still blown away by that comment. It reminded me of when I talked to the team at the BBC's Imagine programme about blogging. There was a wonderful moment in which they suddenly realised that it was not about websites or technology or news or reporting or personal diaries - it was about relationships. I introduced them to the wonderful Natalie of Blaugustine, and watched their confusion and hostility towards bloggers melt into warmth and humour and understanding.

My blog brings me into relationship with many lovely people, but also facilitates communication between different parts of myself. I can no longer work with the concept of 'real life' being outside of my online relationships - surely these are real lives being lived and expressed regardless of the medium? Instead I have settled on a notion of 'whole-life' friends. Those who are part of my blogging community, with whom I also meet up in the flesh.

In just 34 days time, Caroline's book, In Search of Adam, will be published in hardback (yes - hardback! - that's for serious grown-up writers only!) and a whole bunch of us bloggy friends will be gathering together at the book launch event (details to emerge soon says Cas) to support her and celebrate her achievements. We won't be there out of obligation. We won't be there to network. We will be there because we love Cas and believe in her. How gorgeous is that?

Currently, we are running a little treasure hunt over on the In Search of Adam Map - which now has almost 200 pins in position! The treasure hunt clues lead you to the blogs of people on the map, and whilst it's really just for fun, we also hope that people will discover new blogs, new friends and new relationships whilst they are hunting. One of my most valuable bloggy finds recently has been lovely Maht at The Moon Topples, who has been running a very community spirited Short Fiction competition.

I haven't written a fiction story since I was at primary school. The idea of doing it terrified me. But I did do it, and I enjoyed it. As Maht says: if you like your entry, you are a winner. Wise words. I do like my entry (resisting inner voice that says I sound like a conceited wanker saying that). I liked the process and I'm content with the result - I don't think it's brilliant, but it answered my own questions. Simultaneously, I've discovered that someone on the other side of the world has read my whole NaNoWriMo story. I wrote something like 15,000 words of the beginning of a book last November, before illness interrupted me. Prompted by Natalie, I chucked it up online fairly recently in a secret location under a pseudonym, and I have a stat counter on there too. I guess I was interested to know what the response of any unconnected stranger who stumbled upon it might be ... and then somebody did.

I don't know who this person is. I know that they are in thailand, and I know that they found my blog simply by clicking on the 'next random blog' type link. Then, over 4 days, they made 3 visits of about an hour each, and read the whole thing.

Isn't that kind of exciting?

Not in an 'omg I could be an author!' kind of way. More in a 'wow, somebody has digested my thoughts' kind of way.

Of course, it's always possible that they were simply trying to learn English, and sitting with a dictionary in hand trying to work out what my peculiar turn of phrase meant ;)

But still. I'm buzzed. Buzzed by it all - Badger's post of the week shortlisting, Cas's book launch, the Map that keeps joining us to more wonderful people, Maht's short fiction comp, the stranger in Bangkok who has read my book, the fact that a whole bunch of my lovely blogging friends did a group meditation all around the world at 2pm on Wednesday as I was going into surgery, plus, above, the most beautiful flowers I've ever had - sent by the gorgeous Ms Melancholy.


I am a happy little blogger.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

untitled and untagged



I can feel insects crawling on my skin. The sound of a musical christmas card playing a thin electronic rendition of jingle bells floats in to my ears. I can focus on the tune, pull the notes closer, closer, closer.

Slip-sliding through colour-blinding sparks. Eyes closed or open? Not sure.

I make sense of things a few minutes at a time.

A single task, a solitary process.

My housemate says that taken in 2 or even 10 minute chunks I appear normal. Have appeared normal since a few hours after the operation. I am coherent and clear headed. Talking sense. The chaos only emerges over 30 minutes or an hour. Each individual thing I say is perfectly formed, reasonable, but taken as a whole there is no pattern. My brain is jumping from lily pad to lily pad. Left long enough there is repetition. I cannot follow my own tracks.

I am random numbers, rounded.

I am random numbers, rounded.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

You can't make an omlette without ...

... breaking eggs. Or in this case, ovaries.

I always hoped I would find a reason to blog this picture - the bizarre result of trying to poach an egg so fresh that it's still warm when you crack it.

For some reason, any time I think about my own egg-production department, I imagine a couple of hard boiled eggs.

My egg-makers have been on the blink for a good while now. The kind of blink that's exquisitely painful at times, and rather dull and boringly uncomfortable in between.

2 years ago I had a fairly interesting lump on one egg-factory. At the time they thought it was a teratoma - a rather exciting kind of tumour that's all hair and teeth and nails - which my friends referred to as my "supermodel" for the few weeks between diagnosis and removal. Anyway, it turned out to be a far more boring complex hemorrhagic cyst. A big scab with veins basically. Ewwwwwwww.

Since then I've grown a fair few more of these little babies, though none as spectacular as the first one. One of the more interesting (ha ha) aspects of these cysts is that they form in the 'corpus luteum' - the shell of the egg once it has been released. They're supposed to dissolve unless you get up the spout - corpus luteums make progesterone - running this part of an early pregnancy until the placenta is big enough to take over. So, sometimes my body thinks I am pregnant.

That might be kind of fun if it lead to interesting symptoms like only being able to eat pickled onion monster munch, and having enormous breasts, but sadly it just gives me random nausea, and, much to my doc's fascination, a linea nigra - a line of pigment from the navel vertically down. They are quite impressed with that aspect!

Anyway, yesterday I had the lovely lovely doctors, nurses and surgeons at Royal Surrey Hospital sort me out, hopefully once and for all. They detached my hardboiled eggs from my bowel which they were stuck to, and from the abdominal muscle on one side too. They've drained one cyst, lasered my ovaries to remove scar tissue and treat polycystic cysts (technically you can't have both little cysts from PCO and big cysts like I get, but I've never been one for following the rules) and they've done something called segmentation which basically gives you more surface area to expand over so the remaining scar tissue gets stretched less. You wanted to know all that, didn't you!

There was no magic computer this time! Pants! But I managed to hook up a java app on my phone to chat, though drug-addled and one thumbed on a text pad it was kind of frustrating, but it was absolutely invaluable to have a virtual visit from lovely Ms M last night.

So, I'm not long home. Feeling pretty rubbish, and a bit spaced out from morphine (they were reluctant to let me out with it, but I couldn't stick another day of no blogging ;) ) and sporting a lovely badge courtesy of lovely Badger!

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Monday, May 07, 2007

What's in a name?

... that which we call a nose
By any other name would smell as sweet;

I talk a lot of nonsense to my dog. Soppy stuff. Were you this cute last night? I'm not sure you were - did you just wake up cuter this morning?

Don't worry, I cringe too.

It's true though. In spite of regularly updating her 'The naughtiest things I have ever done' list, Ruby draws more affection from me with every passing day. And yet that seems impossible, because I'm sure that right now I already love her as much as it is possible to love a dog.

I have been wondering. Is it that, like pain, we cannot hold love in mind completely? Do we experience it with freshness even when it is a repetition of a previous experience? Is this, like our fast fading memories of agony, because if we did not forget then we would stop still; completed by love just as we would be consumed by pain?

Or, is it more like my gmail account? Today I am using a proportion of my 2457 MB, and tomorrow, by magic, I will have available 2582 MB. Is my heart expanding - forever slowly growing like my hair and nails?

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Friday, May 04, 2007

What's the (short) story?

Mr Maht of The Moon Topples, artist, writer and keeper of cats (my favourite ever blogger description) is running the fabulous GBA(s)FC: Great Big Awesome (short) Fiction Competition.

Word limit: 500.

Subject: Growth.

You can read the full details here, and there are already two great entries up there!

I am a coward. I want to write something but ... but ... but. Yes. Paralysed by that internal chatter that informs me that it will be shit / boring / rubbish / cliched / nonsensical. Or, more likely shit, boring, rubbish, cliched nonsense.

I am trying to battle the voice. Reasoning with it. It won't be good enough it says. Good enough for what? I wonder. Although there are prizes (amazon vouchers! yay!) I'm not really the competitive type. And given that the stories are submitted semi-anonymously, if it's really crap I don't even have to own it!

Ho hum.

Courage, do not desert me now.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Life laundry

It's funny what the little things you do reveal about you. I always imagined my obsession with hanging my washing out in such an orderly fashion - by type, socks hanging in pairs - was just a bit of control freak-ism, a touch of OCD, a desperate attempt to give the illusion of control midst the chaos and unpredictability of life. Not that my life is especially chaotic - just life in general.

Badger hangs her washing out to different rules. Firstly, each item must have it's own personal space: no touching, no sharing clothes pegs. Ever. Secondly, items are hung the right way up, even if they have a hood and would dry much better upside down. Apparently they might get dizzy the wrong way up. Whilst I don't understand either of these rules, they don't actually upset me; what does cause me genuine distress is Badger's socks.

For starters, they aren't hung in pairs. But worse, frequently the other half of the pair is not there! I'm sure the second socks exist, just Badger doesn't see fit to wash and wear them in matching pairs.

I brought this up with Badger a few days ago. I was bringing her washing in and was feeling rather stressed by the number of unique socks, which I took to be a sign of carelessness and slipshod attitudes to the Rules of Socks (as I define them).

Badger smiled, as she does, and said "You think it is important for them to be with the things they belong with don't you?". I nodded and she carried on. "You see, I think it's important for things to be just fine on their own. They shouldn't be dependent on the other sock. They are ok just as single socks."

So, I draw the conclusion that my laundry is not afflicted with OCD, but codependency. I don't fear my clothes being out of order, I fear them being alone.


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