Self Care Day

I’m still engaged in rehousing the black dog. Some days are better than others, and Sunday was a good day. It also took a lot of spoons so today has largely been devoted to pottering around, decluttering and watching YouTube videos. It’s also been spent thinking of lady s who is fighting her own battle with the black dog at the moment – dropping little notes into her messages to remind her she’s not alone and is loved.

I’ve also checked in with Lady M, and we’ve talked to make sure neither feels we’re taking each other for granted. Like any set of relationships, working at them and having time to reflect with each other is important. Talking can be hard, especially when moods are low, but it does help clear the air and sweep aside or address insecurities.

It also helps remind me I’m not alone or acting in a bubble, so helps challenge the black dog – and that’s never s bad thing.

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Orff to the Rugby

We had a grand adventure today as part of a delayed birthday thing. Lady M had managed to get tickets to the Quilter friendly international match between England and Wales for today – a series that is often seen as a warm up and tryout for the Rugby World Cup.

I’m not an avid follower of rugby, but I played it at school, and have always enjoyed watching matches on TV if I happen to catch them. England Vs Wales always leaves me caught in the middle too: my parents are Welsh, but I’m a born and bred Londoner. I feel no fierce tribal loyalty either way.

That said, there’s something about the buzz of a stadium event that had us look at each other and go for it. I hadn’t been to Twickenham stadium for a good thirty four years or so, and Lady M had never been to a match. We even splashed out a bit on the tickets, and that’s how we ended up with the view above: pretty much at the front with a perfect view of the goals.

We’re also lucky enough to live a short bus journey away from the stadium so we avoided the trains. This was a good thing, as over 80,000 people attended on the day.

Rugby crowds are generally more chilled than their soccer counterparts – there’s a politeness and cheer fuelled by moderate drinking, plentiful food, and a no nonsense attitude towards people causing trouble.

This was no more evident than in the case of the group of young men behind us who seemed to have a few soccer fans in their numbers. Midway through, one of them leapt to his feet and tried yelling an obscene anti-Welsh chant. It trailed off pretty much straight away as everyone – English and Welsh supporters alike – stopped, turned, and just looked at him. He sat down and we didn’t hear from him again.

By comparison, I gave Lady M repeated giggles by translating the term “knock on” for her as “someone was fucking clumsy”, and “driving the scrum down” as “dangerous fuckery”

Behind us we heard rugby fans explaining to the soccer fans that a “high tackle” wasn’t necessarily deliberate, but it was dangerous and that was why it was punished.

All in all, a great day out – sometimes amusing for the wrong reasons, but so grateful for the chance to be there and soak up the occasion.

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Back to my roots

I was treated to a fresh cup of coffee, waiting for me when I got in to work this morning. How very civilised, and relatively unusual that was. People working in libraries tend to be fairly iconoclastic loners, even working as a group. We tend to have a hugely diverse set of backgrounds and prior careers, leading to as awkward a set of independent attitudes and worldviews as you might hope for.

Somehow that seems to often manifest in everyone sorting out their own refreshments, hence my surprise at finding a big mug of black coffee waiting for me.

I might have a reputation for being a bit grouchy and uncoordinated first thing in the morning. I’m choosing to believe this was a nod to that from someone I’ve been working alongside for the best part of seven years now, rather than a bribe for their not having to perform Rhymetime.

I handled Rhymetime. We had fun. There was only one child startled into a screaming fit; and no injuries worth reporting were sustained if you don’t count the toddlers that headbutted each other.

There weren’t many parents there, and I didn’t recognise any of them, but I did recognise the slightly starry-eyed expressions among a few of the mums swayed by singing and a jolly appearance. I could almost hear the simultaneous laughter and growling of lady s and Lady M as I politely packed everything away at the end of the session. It’s flattering, and there’s no harm to a low level flirt, but that’s all it is.

All in all, it wasn’t too odd a day, and it was reassuring to work a Saturday in a library where I first restarted in libraries for a change.

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Waiting for the Storm

It’s hot here, humid even, and apparently there will be a storm tonight. There must certainly be something in the air. I’ve been regaled today with stories of teenagers parkouring off library mezzanines, missing fire extinguishers, stockpiled dirty nappies, and generally of people who wouldn’t take answers to their queries until I came over and gave the same answer while conspicuously wearing my badge and its many many lgbt-related badges.

It must be something to do with the air pressure or something, driving people to distraction. Come on rain, let’s have you. Maybe that library with the dodgy roof will have collapsed by the morning…

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Odd Enquiries

We get asked for all sorts of things in the library: popular books, tie-ins to TV shows, tourist information, bus passes, how to print documents, and of course whether we have toilets. Many of these we can answer not just standing on our heads, but with a smile, a request for ID, and often while serving several customers at once, giving a sticker to a grumpy child, and ignoring the man drinking out of a thermos while recharging his phone.

What I do love though are the odd enquiries. The more unusual the better, especially if it means getting creative with catalogues, websites, and inside knowledge. It usually involves trying to interpret a sometimes quite vague query, and refining it as we go in a mini journey of discovery.

Sometimes I can find a direct answer, or I can at least identify an individual or organisation who does hold the answer, and a means of communicating with them that matches the capacity and preference of the person in front of me.

Recent examples, by way of illustration, include:

  • How to buy Premium Bonds without using a website?
  • Where do UK travelling circuses store their vehicles during the winter?
  • What’s the largest prime number so far identified and what did they use to calculate it?
  • Where are the stone road distance markers that still exist in Staines?
  • Where was the original Saint Saviour’s Church in Sunbury?
  • How can I find out what my national insurance number is?
  • Where can I find a list of Grand Prix drivers from 1945-1968?
  • Who holds the records of common land in the Heathrow area and any outstanding covenants on them?
  • What is the speed of an unladen swallow?
  • Did I see you at (venue name) last Sunday?

And if you’re more curious about that last one, then the answers to that are: yes I have stalkers, yes more than one, no it’s not unusual for library staff, and no they hadn’t.

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Climbing Back

Maybe because I’ve been doing this for so long, but depressive moments don’t really tend to hold any terrors for me. It’s more like a “oh, okay brain, you’re pulling this shit again? Fine, but we’ve got stuff to do so you just tag along.”

Yes, I know about the spelling mistake, I just haven’t got the energy right now

Keeping busy, getting out and about, and taking my meds are all part of the survival net that more or less works for me these days. I kid myself sometimes I don’t really need the meds, but then my brain reminds me that feeling okay is actually my meds working. That still confuses me more than it should.

The other thing I’ve had to get used to is that sometimes there just isn’t any discernable thing that has made me stumble. Sometimes with a bit of digging in counselling I can come up with a weird working hypothesis based on past baggage unfolding in a weird way, but sometimes it can be as random as having a sinus headache in the morning escalating into another round of self excoriation.

On the plus side, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make all the difference. Today I had a brief text from a friend touching base. Later I had a lovely message from lady s. Some comments in reply to a stupid graphic I posted online helped too. All of these things reminding me I was loved, had people thinking of me and that I’d made a small difference in some people’s lives, even if that was only a groan of moderate amusement.

I’m still not really back up and running properly – this feels like a lingerer – but comedy shows and keeping busy are keeping the lid on things mostly. Reaching out and communicating is still hard work – this post has taken about three hours to slog through and create for example – but hey ho, I’m sure I can find more nonsense to entertain people with soon.

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Crash Day

Of course, having just talked about being confident and strong, my brain decided that flipping all that inside out would be a fantastic idea, and I’m currently struggling to stay, well, functional.

I didn’t sleep much last night as my brain kept trying to start to write a suicide note as an intellectual exercise: “well if I was going to, what would I write?” and so I was doing my best to say “shut up and sleep brain! Look, my eyes are closed and I’m breathing regularly, do your bit and shut down!”

That was about as successful as you might imagine.

Today I have forced myself to get out of bed (eventually), and go do laundry, and washing of plates and cutlery, and buy milk, and spend some time in the sunshine. I have taken meds, had a walk, kept hydrated, and will shortly brake some painkillers for the headache currently making my eyes burn.

I’m tired, and I’m numb, and aside from my dad being in hospital getting a kidney stone removed, there’s no drama I can think of.

So yay brain. Thanks for nothing.

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