The Smell of Diesel

I can tell more people are out and about again by the smell of diesel as I queue for the supermarket. Its surprisingly not from the carpark though – looking around me, that’s at about the same capacity and usage as it has tended to be over the last few weeks.

The carpark is, however, right next to the M3 motorway, and is closely boundaried by Staines Road West, which broadly runs between here, Staines, the Great West Road and the M25. In other words, a major multilane road. The traffic in both of those is noticeably heavier than it has been in months, and with it has returned the noise and fumes of diesel and petrol.

I’ve got used to not tasting the air when I head out, and now I’m feeling nauseous just standing still. I’m now wearing a face mask not as a Covid-19 precaution, but as an anti-pollution measure.

If I wasn’t already a miserable sod, this would be enough to make me one. Its amazing what we can get used to.

Exhausted

Not quite sure what happened to yesterday. There was sunshine, and reading on the balcony, but also bone deep weariness and flaking out on the bed for a good few hours.

Maybe its just lockdown getting to me, or residual anger burning out my reserves. Probably a combination of the two because I then couldn’t sleep for ages last night for wanting to angrily message people.

So, today is going to be more productive. I have character portraits to work on, so until my video conference later, thats what I’m going to get on with. Better to be doing something positive in all this.

Very rough first drafts

Grumpy

Just one of those days – its a bit quiet, emails were few and far between, work planned for tomorrow is tomorrow, and a minor storm in a teacup incident is eating away at me far out of proportion to what it actually is – especially as its something that is generally solving itself.

My jumping up and down therefore seems unhelpful, so I’ve been killing aliens on the XBox instead, using the new controller that Lady M bought me as a lockdown “just because” present.

A thing of beauty

Its made up in the red/purple/pinks of the bi flag, and has a lovely solidity to its grip and play. She had it custom made through the Microsoft website and it arrived this morning.

So thats a good thing.

I refuse to have a cold

I don’t have the time right now, I refuse to be ill. That should do it, right? I mean that’s what people keep telling us for mental health issues, so overpowering this persistent sinus pain and attempt at blocked nose can be sent packing with coffee and spite? Yes?

If a positive attitude was all it took to battle my own brain (do you see the conflict there?) Then surely stubbornness will work with merely physical complaints, it only makes sense.

Okay, I know I’m preaching to the choir here. Everyone I ever met has battled at some point so this is hardly esotoric territory or a sudden surprise and revelation. I’m just letting off some steam.

I’ve got three more days of work before I start my holiday. It’s all feeling a bit of a slog at the moment.

Chaotic Day

Well, that was a day. I think my body is trying to collapse into having a cold, with a sinus headache that’s lasted three days so far. So as you might expect I wasn’t full of the joys of spring this morning when I got into work and started to do the float and cash up.

Very quickly, from phonecalls and emails, my to do list grew rapidly – and then I had to stop and search in the safe for extra money put aside by a colleague earlier in the week as the till draw started to get full. There was no note left to let me know however, so that was a nervous five minutes working out how I could be significantly under on the expected total.

And then I got a call. Bear in mind we’ve only been open half an hour or so by this point. Could you come over to Chertsey to supervise the coder dojo? The person who was going to do so has gone sick. There’s a volunteer to run it but we need you there as someone sensible.

Well there’s a lot to unpack there. The last coding I ever did was visual basic as a database front end some fifteen or more years ago. It also meant that I wouldn’t be there to meet an artist and supervise him putting up an installation, or any number of staff support and management things rapidly pinging on my radar.

On the other hand, what’s the worst that could happen?

It went okay. I stayed hands off and interpreted a few things for the children if they didn’t quite follow the volunteer’s directions – and otherwise managed a number of issues by phone. The kids were happy, the staff were happy, and I discovered new bus routes I was previously unaware of.

I do enjoy a bit of chaos to shake things up, but today was a bit non stop. Let’s see where the pieces I had to drop today ended up…

January 326th

There’s still another month of January to go, Christmas was three years ago, and nobody knows what’s happening any more. That joke, more or less paraphrased, is all over my social media feed at the moment and it’s definitely resonating strongly.

I can’t even claim that it’s nearly the weekend as I’m working tomorrow, and timetabling in my head stopped me sleeping until the early hours of the morning. I was convinced I’d made a grevious error yesterday in who I’d asked to be in certain places for tomorrow. As it turned out when I got in to work an hour early today, that wasn’t the case, but it was just as well as there was a photocopier engineer waiting at the door for me.

Time? A meaningless construct? It certainly feels that way

Election Night

And so the wait begins. I’m not staying up for results; as I have said to a number of people over the last few days: I prefer to experience the inevitable existential dread over a cup of coffee in the morning.

And yet I am nervous. I have been deliberately avoiding the news and social media today as far as possible. As an unashamed Leftie and member of the LGBTQIA+ community I am scared for what another five years of right wing rule will bring.

I work with and serve people who have had their lives torn apart in the last ten years of Tory rule. I am worried over the language of division and hate that colours so much of the conversation around me.

I hope my fears are baseless. I hope my visions of the near future are wrong. I ardently hope that whatever tomorrow brings will actually lead to a brighter place for us all.

Please let me be wrong.

There Are Times…

…when the idea of being a tolerant and adult human being is stretched too far; and I have to make a conscious decision not to step over the edge. I’m angry, exhausted, and unsettled from having to support my staff as they dealt with a mother slapping her twelve year old daughter around in the library in front of her other two newborns in a pushchair.

We’ve written up incident reports and are reporting under safeguarding, and all the proper people are in the process of being informed and called in – and I know I made the right calls in how to handle it.

But

The look in the daughter’s eyes as she told me she was okay made we want to get violent in turn. But that would just make me the large brute of a man beating her mother up and that’s not right either. Viscerally satisfying as an outlet for my horror, and no doubt momentarily cathartic, but in no way acceptable.

It’s horrible, and frustrating, but there you go. I have a bottle of wine open, and in this instance I think it’s needed.

Consider That You May Be Wrong

I was cornered (literally) recently by someone who had had rather a lot to drink, and who had some pressing truths that he wished to share or possibly impart upon me. So yes, I got harangued by a drunken relative recently. What was I harangued about? Well, to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure – as it was a long rambling monologue that veered between the present day, my childhood, parental behaviour, my being an enigma, the infrequency of visits to this person, my coming out, my relationships, my immediate family, and that I had been heralded as someone who would take over the world one day.

Now, aside from a champagne glass that I had held aloft to join in toasts, and a glass or two of wine with the meal, I was entirely sober – and so was mindful enough to cock an eyebrow and let them ramble rather than try to unpick the unholy mess.

Since then, I have been trying to unpick it slowly so that I can process and discard each element rather than trying to react at the time even as another three statements were loaded on top. The whole thing was topped off with the quote that I’ve used as the title to today’s blog – “Consider that you might be wrong.”

Now, my entire modus operandi is to assume that I might, and probably am, wrong – it manifests as perfectionism, hypercriticality of myself, and no small degree of anxiety on an ongoing basis – so “consider that you might be wrong” is hardly a great challenge. As the conversation didn’t actually specify what I might want to be considering, I thought it best to just let the monologue die rather than wade into some potentially very murky waters.

Was I being urged to consider that I am wrong about my career choices? Or about my relationships and sexuality? Was I being told I was wrong to be an enigma, whatever was meant by that? Or was it wrong that I had decided to be myself rather than following someone else’s path for me?

It’s been nagging at me, but I don’t think I want to go back to the individual concerned to ask clarification questions because I don’t owe them any answers or explanations, and if they can’t directly ask me questions, why should I struggle to interpret a series of convoluted insinuations?

Ugh.

I feel better for getting that down on the page.

Another Year

I was just now dozing and the fireworks outside the hotel woke me up. And just for a moment I was back There and my breath caught.

I’m awake now. My eyes are burning, and all the muscles in my neck and shoulders have reknotted. Sleep may come, or it may not. It’s only half past eight in the evening, and it feels a long road to the dawn.

It’s another year from Then. Another victory against Them, and another stretch since one of the semi-colon moments in the sentence of my life.

Tonight in the here and now I’m tired, and exhausted, but I’m still here, and loved, and supported. I feel no urge to flee and end all that. The shocks and flashbacks are… endurable, and they will subside. I’ve had them long enough and understand them enough from counselling to recognise and trudge past them again.

They’ll be back, but so will I. I have too much to live for in my loves and family and friends – even if the black dog does his best to sometimes obscure that. I’m stubborn, diamond-cored from the pressures that got me here, and that’s where we are.