Every week in the UK Cosplay Community Facebook group I post a number of themes prompts to get people talking and sharing stories and ideas. Sometimes the most difficult one to do is Mental Health Monday, either because it’s difficult to think of a variety of positive suggestions beyond “what makes you smile?”
As someone who is open about their own ups and down it feels a bit twee to reduce it down to just smiles. Sometimes I ask people about their achievements, or their plans for one objective for the day. Each is responded to with varying degrees of enthusiasm depending on how people are feeling – as it should be.
Today I asked people to show a picture of something that puts a smile on their faces – a simple enough question – and posted my own answer to the question. My post was a picture of me holding a cup of coffee.
I explained that what makes me smile is picking out a mug that someone close to me has given me when I make a drink. When I am then drinking that cuppa, the heat is like I’m holding their hand.
I’ve had a lot of people saying they liked that, and Lady M went a bit dewy eyed too. So I thought I’d share, and ask you to think of what you pick up or touch that lifts your spirit or quirks your lips even just for a moment. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.
So, uh, somehow I’ve made to 50 years and I have pretty much most things working okay, a good job, people who love me, most of my marbles, and as of today an all clear from a cancer scare. So that’s a good way to start the next revolution round the sun.
I’ve just finished a charity stream with Lady B and boy s playing the new Destiny expansion and been getting blown away by all the deep lore that is being paid off after years of breadcrumbs. The gameplay is slick, the storytelling compelling, and the excited noises from boy s deeply amusing. We had to force ourselves to stop because it was gone 2am.
So, what’s planned for this year? To be honest I don’t know. I never expected to get to this milestone. I was surprised to be so happy at age 40, let alone still among the living. My next markers are my tenth wedding anniversary and the fourth anniversary of collaring boy s in this next month. A holiday might be nice later this year.
For now though I have a week off work and some vague plans for D&D this weekend. That’ll do.
We had a bit of a storm blow through on Friday – Storm Eunice to be precise – and while everyone battened down the hatches, I was on duty at one of my libraries to coordinate with staff to keep as many places open as possible. We’re fortunate that my area is a relatively built up and urban environment rather than being at the top of any hills, but even so I was wary for a couple of places that were either vulnerable due to their surroundings or their approaches.
In the end, despite needing a window boarding up at one location where local youths had caused some damage, we managed to keep everywhere open except for one – and that was due to a precaution with an older member of staff rather than any direct risk.
Still, looking out of my library window and seeing blocks of polystyrene the size of an adult bouncing down the road where they’d been blown off a building site nearby was quite impressive – as were the fallen small branches – and so I wasn’t totally surprised to find that the main road past us was closed by police for a good chunk of the afternoon.
Saturday was merely windy but I battled through it to help do some computer diagnostics on boy s’ PC with the aid of an old friend – we couldn’t fix the immediate problem, but we’ve narrowed down the hardware issue and a plan is now in place to Frankenstein a solution so that he can get back to streaming and being creative in his downtime.
And then yesterday we gathered back round to boy s for Sunday Roast and watched as random bits of branch bounced off the grass outside – all very restful. Anyway, to round up, all are well and nobody hurt, and no appreciable damage to anywhere or anything connected to us. Compared to other areas of the country we’ve done very well
Various plans went out the window for today because I had a minor mishap last night and blew out a tire. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast and I was able to limp the car back home without too much clanking or the smell of scorched rubber being too pervasive.
I didn’t realise how badly damaged tire was until this morning when we were reporting it to the fleet management company (as a company car). In the clear sumlight I could see how tattered the tire was and could only be thankful my luck had held.
So… that happened. Our other discovery was that the tires for hybrid vehicles aren’t regularly carried as temporary spares by roadside assist vehicles. Fortunately the local Kwik-Fix did so the RAC guy was able to pop over, grab a replacement and bring it back to fit so we didn’t have to traipse back and forth to fix it all. With so much going on today it was like a little beacon of sanity, and much appreciated.
I was talking with a colleague today to – as they put it – be a common sense and reality check. The situation they wanted to check in about was one that any one of my various hats was applicable to but as part of the context for their decision making process they made a confidential disclosure about their personal life that they didn’t want to share with their staff.
As they said, it’s their private life, and even if they were minded to disclose it, this wasn’t a context in which they would want to disclose the information.
Being trusted with this disclosure was humbling. It immediately also reminded me of why I both respect these personal boundaries and am also glad that I live the way I do. Admittedly, it has meant that I’m now a very visible EDI advocate, but that has in its own way opened more doors than it has inhibited.
I am a very visible and talkative person in my workplace, and the confidence to be that person has in part coming from recognising, acknowledging, and embracing the evolution of who I am. It’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders. It also allows me to be visible on behalf of others who do not feel safe or comfortable to do the same.
There’s a responsibility there that I feel keenly.
I was having lunch with a friend today and we got to comparing the weird and wonderful things said by their youngest and by the cub that make us pause briefly every time. Both are of an age where they voraciously consume online content by a variety of providers. One thing that both have picked up is their concept of Funny Numbers that always seem to provoke laughter.
The Funny Numbers are 69 and 420, the meaning of which are utterly unknown to the cub. He sees and hears other people reacting in videos or in comments and seems to have constructed a world view where these are somehow intrinsically funny to people.
I have no intention of instructing him as to what they refer to, as he says them to get a reaction. In some ways it was reassuring to hear from another parent that he’s not the only child who does it.
For now then I’ll carry on carefully not reacting beyond a slightly bored bemusement. He’ll get bored at some point I’m sure…
We got lost a couple of times over the last few days in talking about the bad old days of Section 28 and the wasteland of the AIDS crisis and the effect that had on us as queer youngsters.
We had little to no representation that wasn’t couched in terms of scandal, death, and abandonment, and so the plethora of support and acceptance that so many people now receive can feel bewildering.
I think in part it’s been prompted by taking part in the event with the Surrey History Centre. It’s made me reevaluate elements of my earlier life and got us all comparing experiences. And that’s where the mix of jealousy and annoyance comes in when younger people don’t recognise their relative privilege compared to the landscape we came through.
We’re proud of how far things have come, but we’re also very aware of how fragile that progress is. Vitriol and attacks on people and rights bubble just under the surface still in far too many places.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, other than I suppose it highlights the need for LGBT+ History Month so we can celebrate how far we’ve come but remember just how far behind we have been
Back to work on a Saturday and so far there have been comments about sick on a carpet that turned out to be a water pipe leak, a query about lone working for a teenager in a quiet library, the payroll/HR system not being available, and the sun shining straight in my eyes while I’m on a call. A pretty ordinary morning so far then. I’m usually senior cover in my libraries about once a month and by far the most noticeable thing about that is that the geographical range of things that I get pinged about is more diverse. This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination as it keeps me aware of the wider state of how things are going rather than just on my patch. It’s also generally not an onerous duty as the staff are proactive and engaged and usually just need a nod to continue.
The building I work in is one of those radio shadow lattices from all the metal in its construction that plays merry havoc with mobile signals – which includes the official wifi – and so connectivity for me in this location has become a matter of hotspots via strategically positioned work mobiles and uncapped data tariffs. Never underestimate the creativity of library staff to overcome data issues.
My challenge for this evening is to not forget that I have counselling – unlike a fortnight ago where I got caught up in watching something on TV and then realised I’d missed the whole thing and saw the reminder texts from an increasingly concerned counsellor that I hadn’t seen because I normally have my phone on silent. Oops.
I took part today in a joint event organised between Surrey Libraries and the Surrey History Centre. It was called LGBT+ Stories and was a combination of readings from the archives, and the stories brought by those of us in attendance.
I hadn’t prepared anything, but as an awkward silence settled in when the call for a first story went out, I stepped up. If there’s one thing I can do, it’s weave a story out of nothing. And so I summarised my journey. I twined it with the theme of my own imposter syndrome and brought it back to talking about the importance of visibility.
And then I stopped before I rambled on and took over the whole show – but it did the trick, and broke the ice – and slowly more stories emerged between the excerpts.
So, there’s a thing I’m proud I did, and the transcripts and audio will go in to the archive to bemused future researchers.