Badly Painted Germ

Evil looking and shapeless creature.Sitting up in the middle of the night with a hot forehead. Must have caught something in town.

 You ask yourself, “What did I touch?!” but of course if could have been anything. Shop doors, clothes-hangers, the edge of the coffee shop table… who knows?

I should email a friend while I have the light on. She sent a photo at 5:30 yesterday morning, so I should return the favour. It’s fortunate that digital photos don’t arrive at the other end with germs on them.

If I were a speed painter, I could paint her a picture. Unfortunately I know I would still be labouring over it by Christmas, so I better not even start.

Have just checked the headlines. “Jeremy Clarkson in hospital with pneumonia”. (Panics slightly)… no, that’s not what I have. Surely.

Looking at other news, I have nothing to complain about, really.

Will send her a badly painted germ… yes, I painted it anyway, despite my doubts. So it can be done.

Perfectionism and Plans are not Perfect Partners

If we were having coffee, conversation would stall because we would be too distracted by TV. I’m not watching, but can’t think about anything else while it’s on.

The ads are not much better — perhaps it’s just my mood. When I really want to, I can drown it out and focus on what I’m writing.

What’s annoying is when you get the feeling there was something else you were supposed to be doing, but you can’t pull your thoughts together enough to remember what it was. Instead, you keep staring at the TV, even though the panellists are cracking jokes you mostly don’t think are funny.

Come to think of it, there were lots of things I should have been doing, such as:

1. Painting a tree that the tree outside my window complains looks more like a tiger.
2. Several other pictures I abandoned, and they weren’t looking all that bad.
3. Writing to Apple (something about a bug report).
4. An online CBT session I should have done on Friday.
5. Keeping up with CBT homework, which includes noting my mood every two hours.

Actually, not doing my CBT homework is the main reason I’m avoiding the next session. I got a nagging email that says we will get the best from it if we complete one session a week. I don’t know why waiting another week should ruin the flow of it, especially if I already ruined the flow of it by not doing my homework.

Mood for 22:00…. rattled.

The TV has been turned off, thankfully, but a cat has come in and is sitting at my feet staring at me… as a result, I’m no less distracted than I was previously.

I asked why people keep mocking Piers Morgan, and Mum said, “Nobody likes him.”
“Why… what did he do?”

You can’t really laugh along with them when you know they’re making digs at someone you know nothing about… that’s just one of the things I wasn’t finding amusing. You look at people on TV who have their own in-jokes, and feel alienated from most of them… does that qualify as a ‘mood’ too?

It’s not surprising, I guess; in-jokes are a bonding mechanism. If you don’t know what people are nudging each other about, it makes you realize you’re not one of them. Perhaps most people watching the show understand these attitudes and inferences, and that thought makes me feel even more ‘out of it’. I suppose I could google Piers Morgan but don’t want to. Live and let live.

Nursing your coffee in the other chair, you are nodding politely, but I can tell you are wondering what rock I’ve been living under! Well, I was not too far from Castle Rock once upon a time. I still love the city of Edinburgh. We visited it a little while ago but I wonder if I will ever see it again? I doubt it. The very name ‘Edinburgh’ feels like home, and that’s enough, really.

The nagging feeling of distraction is persisting. Let me just take care of these cats for a moment…

Samson jumped eagerly into his bed… heart-warming. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now that we’re all sorted out for the night, I feel more focused… slightly. More coffee?

I’m still not following the little timetable I made. I got tired and stressed on Friday after being unable to sleep. The next day I was a zombie and nearly got run over twice, so the timetable naturally took a back seat. I had a strong feeling I was going to continue to ignore it, and decided I should simplify it a great deal.

I did that this morning and was suitably smug, feeling I might successfully complete my CBT homework this week. Well guess what… I forgot it again. I forgot such a plan even existed. I’ve only missed one planned activity, which was to back up my iPad and sort though my burgeoning Gmail inbox, but even one black mark makes me feel the entire week has gone down the chute.

I paint like that too. Stroke, erase; stroke, erase… I can spend a few minutes on that, and it’s not surprising I never finish anything. The pictures I do finish have usually taken weeks or months. A few times I’ve tried speed painting tutorials but nothing changes! Before you know it, I’m back to teasing away with a tiny brush, determined that not one single pixel will be out of place, even if I have to repaint it a gazillion times.

Then I wonder why I’ve been pushed into doing this CBT thing!

It’s unsettling when you realize that if your life had a reset button, allowing you to return the start and try all over again, you would push it in a flash. This life wasn’t perfect… maybe I’d do it right next time?

No, I realize I wouldn’t. I would feel exactly the same, know exactly what I knew (no more and no less), and think and say the same things. I’d still be me.

I find myself asking questions, though. If my life had a reset button and I could go back to the very beginning… born a younger daughter living under the Rock, forced to go on fishing holidays in damp cottages; fretting over how people managed to do beautiful drawings on Etcha-Sketches… presumably everybody that I’ve even walked past would have to go all the way back to the beginning as well, just so they could accompany me. All of you out there reading this blog… you’d be whooshed back to square one and made to start all over again. If you even realized what had happened, I expect I’d be surrounded by a blogging lynch platoon right now.

Sorry.

More coffee? I’ll try and get it right this time.

PS: I must have caught something in town as I’m running a temperature and my teeth are aching. Definitely no CBT for a week! It would be interesting to know if ‘distraction’ is a symptom of this kind of bug. I should write to Apple, though — Pages is no fun to write in just now.

T-shirts and Time

Jewelled camel design on khaki T-shirt.No, this has not suddenly turned into a fashion blog. ๐Ÿ˜‹ I bought this T-shirt a few days ago because I couldn’t be bothered to fold it up again.

OK, I was already thinking about buying it, but said to myself, “Delilah, how long do you think that pretty design will last? It will start to fade after the first wash, with bits falling off and cracks appearing, and in the end you will be left with a skimpy khaki T-shirt with an indescribable splodge on the front.”

I was about to fold it back up and replace it on the pile, but others finished buying what they were buying and chivvied me to ‘hurry up’ because they were going now.

It seemed simpler and more ‘valid’ to buy it rather than stand there folding it up neatly… though I suppose there was a flash of something in my mind that said “They’ll go home with something nice in their bag. What about me? Last chance saloon!”

Perhaps the realization I was about to lose the T-shirt was what made me realize I did want it — it was a wake-up call.

Well, my thoughts descended into utter confusion. When you hurry people up and display impatience, they panic and drop the ball. They might forget their keys, leave the door unlocked or suddenly decide to buy a camel T-shirt. At least now I have a pretty photograph to remind myself of how it used to look, though it does currently still look like that.

Maybe I should frame it, then it will — er — fade in the sunlight? Pfft. Just wear it, enjoy it… that’s what everything is for.

“Don’t Change For Anyone”

A couple of years ago, I said something to someone that I later thought a little aggressive, though unintentionally so. I apologized, saying it wasn’t like me to use such phrasing, and he said it was fine… “don’t ever change for anyone.”

I took that as politely expressed agreement that it wasn’t my sort of thing! Whatever he meant, his comment occasionally returns to my mind. Should I change who I am, what I do, how I talk, to suit others?

This isn’t a question to the outside world. Without context, a response would be too black and white… but in the way I mean it, knowing my own good intentions, I realize I shouldn’t.

Tumblr: Strange New World

Framed picture showing reflection of tree looming by the windowI was going to write a blog post, but got interrupted by a cat. When I came back, what I was going to write seemed less appealing. Why should it interest anybody? I’m struck by the demon of doubt.

Looking around for inspiration, I see sun glancing off the tops of shrubs and hedges outside the window — gold light and glossy leaves. That tree gets closer to the house year by year. Four years ago the council was requested to remove it, but it’s still there. Upstairs, it looks as though I could shake hands with it — the two of us stretching across the gap between window and hedge. Well, I would die trying… the gap is close, but not that close.

My original aim was to write about Tumblr, and here I am complaining about a tree that’s near, yet far. Yes, Tumblr, I said. Is this old hat now, or still going strong?

I’ve only just joined, and don’t yet know what I think. There’s something strange about the way its search engines and feeds work. Mine moves sluggishly, occasionally throwing up reblogs by big rebloggers reblogging content most of us couldn’t hope to match. This perfect content gets a little samey… fantasy concepts; gorgeous heroines with oiled thighs; mechanowarriors; impossibly neat Gothic castles; sunset on the ice of faraway worlds. They don’t post warmer, more homely content — and if they do, it’s by accident, and you can almost hear them scream.

I won’t tell you how I know that. (Coughs).

I’ve only been there a few days though. Most likely I haven’t yet discovered the little tips and tricks that make it work. Sponsored ads have started appearing. When I was brand new, they held off, but it seems I’m not to be cosseted any more. Then there was a spammy ‘ask me’ message. Someone wanted votes on something, but I gave that a miss… didn’t think clicking on the Bitly URL was a great idea.

Something I really don’t like is an overt political bias which has been intruding onto my main feed, even though I haven’t followed any political tags. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth, which is not what one goes to Tumblr for… at least, I don’t.

Of my new followers, one appears to be a bot of some sort, another has a vacant blog (no content yet), and a third is selling something. My favourite follower is the bot, because it posts things for me to look at in the slow-moving Tumblr feed, none of it mean or political.

Yes, there’s always the silver lining, and it came up with this painting — beautiful and dreamlike. For such as that, I’ll keep going.

My iPad Has Found a Voice

Anker speaker and birthday cardMy birthday was some time ago, but there was a palaver with computer speakers having to be sent back. This is a little bluetooth one for the iPad that I chose instead. My sister ordered it in a lightning deal… it was 100% claimed in no time at all, but she was able to bag it when someone else let it go (thank you).

Now I’ve made it all blurry and coloured and you can’t even see it properly…

Truth to tell, I’m not sure why I’m telling the blogosphere about this, except that I’ve never heard anything from the iPad clearly… my hearing is too poor, and usually someone else has to tell me it’s playing sounds I wasn’t aware of.

There should be a way of muting it for good so it *never* does anything like that, and this particular lack in the iPad’s design makes me angry.

Now, I didn’t get a speaker for the iPad just so I would know to turn it off… that wouldn’t work anyway if it turns itself off after a spell without audio. No… I got it because I thought it might be nice to hear things on my iPad for a change, especially some of the tracks I bought.

It’s a lovely little speaker but it becomes a nexus of intense vibration when playing. Would you pick it up mid-song? I’m afraid to!

I was very happy when The Pachelbel Canon came on. Soothing, and a lovely birthday present, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Throwing a Therapy Wobbly

I’m fizzing.

It’s not anger, exactly, and I’m not annoyed with anyone in particular, but I feel as though my fur has been stroked backward.

I completed Session One of the online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course.

Initial obstacles

First I had to sort out incompatibilities.

(1) Adobe Flash Player — had to use Adobe’s uninstaller before I could install the most recent version of Flash Player, which turned out to have been put in by old software. I hesitated because I couldn’t see why it was necessary, and was suspicious.

(2) Safari (probably because of Flash). Needed a different browser.

I tried to install Chrome, but it kept saying ‘thanks for downloading’ though nothing was happening. So I got Firefox, and found myself registering for an account so I could synchronize bookmarks (why?), then downloading Firefox to the iPad so the process could be completed.

I suspect it wasn’t mandatory to have a Firefox account, but by that time I was past trying to figure these things out — I just wanted to do what I was told so I could get on with life. I even made Firefox my default browser (I was that far gone!) but reverted to Safari a few days later.

The two browsers were playing tug of war. Safari used to be a happy ‘only browser’ on my Mac, but now there was another in the roost.

“Do you want to make me your default browser?”

“Yes.”

You fire up the first one out of habit, as it was your default browser till very recently.

“Do you want to make me your default browser?”

“Er…. oh, go on then!”

You switch back to the other one, as that’s where the online CBT account is lurking.

“Do you want to…?”

“No!”

By the time all issues were fixed, it was almost bedtime, so I left ‘Session One’ for another day.

‘Another day’ arrived…

I could think of fun things I would rather be doing this sunny afternoon, such as uploading photographs from my camera and looking to see if they were any good, but I might as well get this CBT thing over with.

Some time ago I put cheap paper in the printer especially for the CBT course, but Mum used it all on a manual for our new dishwasher, so I put in more… and now we were ready to rumble!

Rumbling

Subtitles were turned on so I didn’t need to listen to the course, and automatically put on some soothing music. The subtitles said something about music playing at the start, and I thought to myself, “Well, thanks, but I’ve got my own.”

I don’t know what they were playing, but mine happened to be Just the Way You Are by the Piano Guys.

Session One

Right now, I lack words to describe what I thought about Session One.

I mentioned in my last post (Shrouded in Scottish Gloom) that I’ve done CBT before and didn’t take to it. On the other hand, I thought once I got into this online course, I might enjoy it. I have a tidy mind… I like creating databases, organizing files and photos, and answering questionnaires and quizzes. Why wouldn’t I enjoy this too?

Nevertheless, I began the session feeling irritated, and it only got worse. I didn’t want to answer the questions.

“Did anything happen during the past week to upset or disturb you?”

“Yes!”

“Oh dear. What was it?”

I couldn’t believe I had to answer this.

“Well, we had to vote in a general election and then there was all the political fallout with everybody blaming everybody else…”

OK, I didn’t type that, but, honestly! I ended up backtracking and saying, “No. Nothing happened.” and the squiggly figure gave me a squinty-eyed look and said, “Hmmmmm…”

I don’t think it believed me.

It shocked and surprised me how reluctant I was to give any information at all. I just wanted to see what it had to say and have done, but if I had to interact to this degree, I had no wish to complete the course.

I realize this isn’t the point… it’s supposed to be a tool that I use to tighten up screws in my head that might happen to be a bit loose, so if it doesn’t know what screws those are, there isn’t a lot it can do. This reflection didn’t comfort me, and my irritation grew so bad I kept stopping and staring unblinkingly at the screen for long moments.

How many times a week do I get anxious? Once a week? Five times a week?

No, it doesn’t work like that!

Hissy fit

I quit the session altogether, absolutely smouldering, then gave myself a good talking-to. I didn’t want to have to explain to people why I didn’t want to do it… it seemed easier to shut my eyes and get it over with. That way you make fewer waves and it defuses the situation. After all, it’s not a big deal… it’s just an amped-up questionnaire.

I went back in and found I had to sit through the entire thing again, homilies and all, answering questions I’d already answered… but changed a few of my responses this time, taking a more measured attitude to it, so it was all to the good.

At the end, I was asked if any of it helped, and I answered honestly… no it didn’t. If I could have given it a minus score, I would have.

The forum did, though! There were people on it who had almost identical thoughts and emotions about the first session, including “I reallyreallyreally don’t want to do this!!” but in the end rationalizing that it’s not a big deal and just to get on with it.

What gets me is that it’s been a few hours now since I did the session, and I still feel like an electrocuted jellyfish.

One thing worth noting… people on the forum said the first session is notoriously awful, but it gets better, and I might gain some benefit in later sessions. So just hang in there…

…just stay clear of my stingers for a while. ๐Ÿ˜›

Shrouded in Scottish Gloom

The garden looks really good just now. My sister takes care of it every weekend, and I’m amazed at how neat and pretty it is. When I peek out the back door and smell lilac, I understand why gardeners love what they do. There’s something sane, calm and peaceful about the outdoor landscape… it’s an escape for practical, hard-working people.

It makes me yearn to be that kind of person too.

I’m more the kind of person who strolls around with a camera and feels happy at the beauty other people have created. Unfortunately, Scotland doesn’t like us to have heatwaves for very long, and there’s a lot of dreich weather at the moment. Yesterday it couldn’t make up its mind between strong sun, drenching rain, and the occasional bolt of lightning. Today it decided to go ‘all rain’… dark grey clouds parading overhead with shimmering sheets of crystals dangling from their misty earlobes.

When the day was at its darkest, I came across a monster snail clinging to the upstairs window. It reminded me of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… water all around and this muscular, glistening creature seeking a way in. Visualizing its fellows squirming all over the house, roof and all, I could understand my mother’s utter abomination of them. She gets the same look on her face that Ripley gets in Alien.

If you were on a spaceship with those things on it, you’d do better with her as a shipmate than me.

I don’t mind the odd snail or group of snails, but we have too many. They slither all over — slugs too — and roll on their backs, drinking in the downpours.

The other night I was trying to move a wheelie bin without stepping on a single invertebrate, and it was impossible. I swear there was either a slug or a snail trekking across each square foot of ground, and because it was dark, I couldn’t even see them all. Despite the best I could do, the bin and I left a trail of devastation in our wake.

Have I complained about this before? I’ve a feeling I have.

Anyhow, with the lowering weather, some sadness, and a general feeling of being under siege, it seemed a good day to activate my online CBT account.

“What’s that?” you say, suddenly looking nervous. “CBT??”

Our GP thinks it might help combat my chronic anxiety, but I ignored the activation request for two weeks. I could always think of something better to do! I don’t have raging agoraphobia any more, but I’ve had a traumatic few years… it’s like a sleeping Leviathan stirring. If it comes up again, it could be bad.

I don’t like cognitive behavioural therapy. I’ve tried it before and it left me bemused. I felt more stressed attending the sessions than at any other time, so I cut them short.

I have to confess, when I read that I would need to have a working printer in order to do the current course, I was irritated. We have ours loaded with 100gsm stuff. I was determined not to start the course till I’d dived out and bought the cheapest paper I could find — 75gsm. I put that in on top.

OK, well, I activated the CBT course today, answered a raft of multiple choice questions, then it suddenly stopped, and I was confused. It just told me I would need an up-to-date Flash Player (which I’ve got) in order to be able to view my sessions, but I couldn’t see any other links, or a home page, or even a bit of text saying “thank you — see you next week!” or something of the kind.

Is this typical NHS behaviour?

I’ve had similar emails when asking for appointments… no ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ or individual names… just come straight to the point then drop out of sight. You can imagine the staff rushing around like busy ants, so you don’t really resent it, but it’s still a little… leaves you feeling like one of those cartoon characters who was walking on rock and is now pedalling in mid-air.

Thinking about it, it was just the ‘activation’ I was engaged in… if I went back, the first session would be there waiting.

Brr.

Perhaps it’s all one big cryptic puzzle designed to keep me engaged trying to figure it out so that I don’t have time to stress about anything. There was a multiple choice question I didn’t understand at all, and the only way I could dodge it was to pick the most non-committal response. I felt like turning to someone and saying, “Sorry, what do you mean?” Instead, I said it to the empty room.

I should raise that question with them in case it turns out to be something important… or is that typical catastrophic thinking? What significance could a single, vaguely-worded question have? I gave them a vaguely-worded response… fair dos.

Meanwhile, none of this helped the cats with their own issues. They sat miserably at the back door, looking out at the slurping snails. As far as they’re concerned, this type of day shouldn’t be allowed.

Swing Swing

Emotions, they stir
The sun is gone
The nights are long
And I am left while the tears fall

It sounds like Chinese poetry! But Swing Swing is by The All-American Rejects. There’s a picture of a go-kart on the front of the CD, though I originally thought it was a petrol mower.

I hadn’t heard of it, but it cost next to nothing as the charity shop was trying to get rid of scruffy CDs no one wanted. (The case was scraped at the corners, but both CD and case were in remarkable condition). I had a few minutes to myself, with nobody breathing disapprovingly down my neck, so I could buy whatever I fancied. I wanted new music to try, and here was this CD looking for a new owner.

At first I didn’t like it as it has quite a heavy ‘head-banging’ sound. My musical taste is mostly mellow… UB40, Gabrielle, Johnny Nash and so on, though I like rock as well.

Being unwilling to concede defeat, I played it several times, and there are bits I now enjoy… in particular the track mentioned above.

Swing, swing from the tangles of
My heart is crushed by a former love
Can you help me find a way
To carry on again?

When something like that gets in my head, I’m more likely to write a blog post than if all is quiet, peaceful and normal. My soul hums with sadness, hope and inspiration.

From what I’ve heard, inebriated people become ’emotional’, embarrassing their friends with heart-felt sentiments. I wish to point out that I’m such an occasional drinker I’m almost teetotal, and don’t need to have been drinking anything to do that! All that’s required is that I be under the influence of a song.

All of you out there in the blogging world… I love that you are there. (Hangs adoringly round people’s necks). I don’t post as much as I used to, but there’s that feeling of random connectedness with others. We are not necessarily like-minded, except that we’re prone to sitting down and writing out our thoughts. Some of you, like Rabbit or Christopher Robin, dash off something practical and to the point. Others, like Winnie the Pooh or Tigger, know how to entertain and make people laugh. Then there are the anxious, slightly annoying ones like Piglet. Still others (like me) wait self-pityingly in the rain and ponder gloomy Eeyoreish thoughts.

Well… today we were having an informal family get-together. It seemed bright enough at the beginning, but the day wore on and things werenโ€™t going as well as I hoped. People were subdued, and there were tired silences. I made a self-deprecating joke about the robohoover attacking my TV soundbar, and was told somewhat waspishly that if I wanted to watch the Eurovision, I’d have to do it upstairs anyway… I’m on my own with that.

With ‘Swing Swing’ in my head and my emotions slowly boiling up, our day was already a failure. I received a kindly, disturbing letter which I read somewhere around tea-time. There might be a smidgeon of misjudgement in the missive, but not by much.

Today was someone else’s day and I had to stay pleasant and positive, but the effect the letter had on me was shocking. I shut down quite slowly, peeling off from the others around me, my eyesight gradually blurring. When it came to supper time, I couldn’t face food. My mother had poached egg and toast while I fell asleep.

Perhaps this kind of reaction is a way of escaping for a while. Dozing off helps you ‘find a way to carry on again’. You wake up feeling half-dazed, but your appetite is stealing back.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”
~ John Steinbeck

Sometimes falling asleep on the sofa for an hour or two is all it takes. You eat a pan of noodles and check the soundbar is working upstairs. After a period of rest and thought, there will be friends to talk to and things to look up online. Ideas; plans; humour. Rethinking and reorganization.

Something good will come of this. Yes, Iโ€™m determined.

– – – – –

The above post was written a few days ago. Eurovision 2017 is over now; political spats, witty one-liners, streakers et al!

Soley Soley

I wrote this post at the end of March 2017 and never published it. I came across it again just recently, and now that that time is a little way behind, I thought “why not? I’ll just clear it off the deck and move on.โ€

—–

When a song gets into your head and spins around relentlessly, there’s usually a reason why it got there in the first place. Sometimes it’s just a passing word that attracts it, or a phrase, or possibly an experience. A lot of the time you never figure out what that was.

What’s disconcerting is when a song gets in your head and you are not even sure of the words, but when you look them up online, they perfectly suit your mood or circumstances. It’s even stranger when it’s a song you’ve not thought about in a long time.

In my head now is Soley Soley by Middle of the Road, and it’s been there three days and three nights.

I suspect the ‘inspiration’ is that the Hairy Bikers were cooking on TV and mentioned sole in passing! All it takes is one word, and suddenly you have a hoary old song camping in your head.

Earlier, I was saying it usually suits your mood, but at times it could be that your mood adjusts to suit the song… you can feel a little dip sometimes as the song kicks in.

In my journal I often make a note of whatever song is bothering me — when I reread an entry years later, I get bothered by it all over again, ha ha. Just a little joke I play on myself.

Lately, I don’t know what the point of the journal is… it’s like information overload. It used to matter, but now I don’t feel like writing in it any more. My old hobbies don’t interest me. Nothing really matters.

I’m in a sleepy mood, though. Perhaps when the weather gets better, so will I.