Posted in Blogging, Books, Lost in Thought

Dare to Blog

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” — Brené Brown

Ten months ago, a certain book got me thinking about how it might relate to blogging. It also led me to consider how all the books we read connect together to shape our individual world views. They don’t quite fit together like jigsaw pieces, as each has something different to teach and might change our attitude in one direction or another, or bring us up short with “I can’t be sure about this after all… I’ll have to keep an open mind for the present!”

I will find myself agreeing with one book, only to completely reverse course on the next when faced with different information. It can be unsettling, but I would rather get a rounded view on things than make up my mind once and possibly be wrong for the rest of time.

As some may have guessed, the book that sparked off these thoughts was Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. For a while I was quite shy about mentioning that I’d read it, but it made me think about how we come across to others online and how we might be better to engage (or not).

Just as an aside, I almost forgot about this post you’re now reading! It was 99% mapped out in MindNode before being abandoned… life and self-doubt got in the way. I said at the end of my last post, Confuddled by Our Politicians, that I should stop using bits of my private diary and return to writing properly. That was when I remembered these notes.

Well, to start with, reading books challenges your own attitudes and brings about welcome change in your life. I used to blog a lot about deafness, anxiety and related negative experiences. Eventually I got cold feet and withdrew, deciding it’s only socially acceptable to be light and cheerful. Daring Greatly causes me to reconsider that, though I’m not 100% certain I would go back to those particular topics — maybe sometimes.

It’s not that we should descend into doom and gloom and have no good word to say about anything or anybody — far from it. It’s simply a fact that nobody’s perfect! People like to find a point of connection with others, and perfection isn’t it. It’s hard to have a satisfying conversation with someone who’s determined to talk about nothing but sunshine and roses. To sound a note of caution — in daring to put ourselves out there and engage, Brené Brown doesn’t suggest we pour out our deepest, darkest secrets to total strangers or slight acquaintances. Connection always starts with a first step of trust. Trust can be eroded, but it doesn’t mean you instantly give up on a person — we all make mistakes and deserve a second chance.

However, each situation should be judged on its merits. I wrote most of this post nearly a year ago and, since that time, I’ve come round to believing that we do need to keep our guard up and robustly defend ourselves where necessary. Friends, family, colleagues and even ‘experts’ sometimes lie, bully, and manipulate, and it’s really not good to be the always-amenable sheep. I hinted at that in a recent rambling and irrelevant post (which I don’t really recommend): Finding My Inner Monster.

There’s something I do recommend you watch when you have a spare half hour. Just yesterday I came across this video in YouTube: Doctor Admits KETO is Worst Diet in the World (WARNING: Ninja Level Sarcasm)

It is beautifully captioned… no autogarble. :-D.

Another video I found today, by Chris Kruger: “Ketogenic diets damage the liver and kidneys” – Is ketosis ‘starvation mode’? -How many carbs…?

I was thinking about the word ‘vulnerability’ as used in the book by Brené Brown. It doesn’t give us carte blanche to tell all our secrets or show weakness; it’s just about being human. The word I might have used in its place was ‘authentic’ — you hear a lot about writers needing an authentic voice. Then I thought again and realized it’s not enough on its own, but that particular Eureka moment seems to have passed me by…

OK, I had a wee think, and conclude it’s actually about accepting and being at peace with our own weaknesses rather than beating others over the head with them; that’s why it’s more than simply being authentic. Perhaps that’s the doubt that rose in my mind!

Humility is also important. Someone I knew described herself as ‘authentic’, but she could be brusque, opinionated, and didn’t like alternative points of view, no matter how carefully worded — so I found myself walking on eggshells rather than trusting that she would understand where I was coming from. Being authentic doesn’t mean we should be inflexible and dismissive of another person.

People need to feel valued (this is reminding me now of yet another book — Lost Connections by Johann Hari!) Perhaps that need in us is at the root of many unhelpful behaviours, such as:

(1) not allowing people to see our real selves
(2) putting up a false front of perfectionism
(3) defensiveness
(4) overreacting when criticized or questioned
(5) hiding rather than telling the truth

These in turn would lead to never wanting to admit we were wrong, as there’s an underlying fear that people would think less of us for it. There is a strong tendency in society to cut people down to size using ‘shame’ as a tool, and that can be damaging. Jon Ronson wrote on the subject himself in his book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. It was truly thought-provoking, especially where it relates to social media. Making people feel bad doesn’t help matters and might make things worse. See his book for exactly how much worse it can get.

When younger, I struggled a lot with the situations deafness could get me into, and never understood what that feeling was. How could you feel it when you hadn’t even done anything wrong? The mere thought that people were determined to misunderstand and judge you was unpleasant, even if you knew they were out of order.

What I got from the book should be relevant to blogging in the following ways:

(1) We need an authentic voice, while not oversharing.
(2) We can say what we need to say while looking outward… we’re not the centre of the world!
(3) We accept we are not perfect and might get things wrong or litter our text with typos.
(4) It’s better to get our feet wet than hang back and not engage.

I wrote the above list several months ago, and definitely needed the nudge! I still get cold feet about saying what I really think about things, and attempts to bring in a form of internet censorship are not helping: 5 recommendations to tackle disinformation and fake news. We are often told how difficult it is to sway other people from their opinions simply by talking at them, but suddenly that simple fact is forgotten. Everybody we talk to is apparently a mindless sponge, and has to be protected from careless words.

Coming down to earth again from my mini-rant…

It’s good to be light and humorous while guarding your privacy, but not at the expense of saying what you wanted to say. You do have to weigh your words and decide where to draw the line. You have to decide if what you have to say is really helpful, and if it would influence people for the better. Blogging is a balancing act, but so are many other things in life.

Reading a lot pulls you first one way, then another, but maybe that’s how you find out what works best. Gradually you start finding your feet. It’s how we are able to form a life philosophy, though it’s OK to change our minds based on new experiences and fresh information. I used to think changing my mind would betray weakness of character or lack of intellect, but eventually realized it’s normal. We aren’t fully rounded individuals unless able to accept, reconsider and change. This post is a case in point, because I feel I’ve been changing my mind about some of it in the interim!

In keeping the conversation fresh, blogging plays an important part in the media — perhaps far more important than has been realized up to now. While continuing to inform ourselves and tweak our world views, we need to keep that space free and unfettered, and not allow ourselves to be shamed or manipulated into silence.

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Posted in Art, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Waking Up to Life

Extracts from private diary:

17 June 2018

Diary is getting fits-and-starty again. It’s gone grey outside again; no rain yet. M said it’s not been raining but she thinks it’s GOING to rain. The cats have invited themselves back in.

The following comment on YouTube tickled my funny bone: “I like how the EU is such a wonderful place that they have to barricade the doors to stop people from getting out.”

18 June 2018

Life is more interesting than I thought. Apparently intelligent and successful people make a real hash of things, including the very things they are celebrated for. It’s not just that we can make errors with far-reaching consequences for billions of people, it’s that what you think you know can turn out to be wrong, and the fate you think you have can be changed just by changing something simple and close to home. Unless you look into it and try different things, you never know for sure.

19 June 2018

There’s another reason why life is more interesting than I realized: when everything’s perfect and goes the way you expect, you learn nothing. There’s all this ‘in depth’ stuff to know about and experience, and you don’t even get a glimpse of it if things are going smoothly. You just assume people think the same way you do; that everybody behaves the same way; that you all know the same things; that everything you all know is true and always has been true and that there’s nothing more to it.

Then things go wrong! People don’t behave the way you expect; you do your best and things still don’t work out; you show people trust and affection and it’s thrown back in your face; everybody around you suddenly goes crazy and seems to be living in an alternative universe. You thought life would be easy, and it’s not. You make mistakes you always swore you’d avoid… and even though you can see they’re mistakes, you can’t get out of them no matter how you try. Or you realize they weren’t really mistakes; they were an inevitable outcome of a lifestyle that everybody lives because we’re all actually living out ‘one gigantic mistake’.

You take a closer look at people to try and suss out what went wrong, and realize many are as lost as you but some have crazy-good ideas which could change your life for the better. Others are too controlling and assume terrible ideas that could destroy all humankind or at least all quality of life, which is most likely the same thing. The whole point is, it’s not till things go wrong or the unexpected happens that you learn anything about yourself and how the rest of the world works.

Sometimes you don’t understand for a long time just what it was that occurred, and it takes experience as well as fresh input from others to help you work it out. If life was as straightforward as you assume at the beginning, it would be dull in contrast with the reality.

23 June 2018

02:49: Sat up in bed. I seem to (secretly) get mad with everybody on my birthday for getting me the wrong thing. In this case I said I’ve always wanted an art journal. I pictured myself sitting on a bench, sketching in a little black Moleskine, but what I received was a large white scrapbook. It came along with gilded scrap paper to paste inside and a Pritt Stick to do the pasting.

Just before trying to sleep, I was flipping through a papercrafts book and tried to imagine myself taking photos of trees and printing them out; pasting them into the scrapbook with fiddly decorations… dead leaves; sketched maps; illustrated mushrooms; quotations; snippets of my own story.

Nah…

Turned off the light and tried to sleep, but all the time I was thinking crossly about scrapbooks. I thought I might while away the time planning out what sort of scrapbook I could do, but got more angry instead of less. I thought about the book I was reading and everything in the world that was going wrong that didn’t need to go wrong, and I could feel a scream rising in my head. I got far too hot and had to push the blanket back, and my new birthday watch got caught in the folds and I struggled for a while to pull my wrist free.

Suddenly I had an idea…

Well, I didn’t say I would say what the idea was. 🙂 Even would-be scrapbookers are cagey like that.

Posted in Life and Family, Music I Like, Political and Social Issues, Technology and Software, Videos

Tangle of Thoughts

One reason I’ve not been blogging lately is that themes run through my head and get tangled in a knot — I never know where to begin. Sometimes it seems easier to retreat to my chair and view the multicoloured twist of yarn from a safe distance. I feel satisfaction at how pretty it is, but really — it seems like too much work to untangle it and display each thread on its own.

Looking at that fuzzy mess, I forget what’s in there anyway. I’ll try pulling on a thread randomly and see what appears.

I’ve just been watching a YouTube video of Nigel Farage questioning Mark Zuckerberg. The two narratives (Farage and Zuckerberg) clash like grape and lime. You never imagine they’ll come into each other’s orbit, yet there they are.

I don’t like the extent to which internet companies keep and share data. Things really started turning sour when people were expected to download everything from the cloud and store files on a server somewhere instead of on their own hard drives. Laptops with almost no storage space appeared and we no longer received DVDs with the supporting operating system. We are nagged mercilessly to update everything despite losing access to expensive software and hardware that we still use every day. We’ve entered an era of apps and subscription software, and everything’s updated quite often — sometimes ruining applications we are in the middle of using. One app suddenly changed the way the drawing tools worked, and I was unable to finish the pictures I was working on. I liked the way they were coming along, so I’m still annoyed about that! None of this particular ‘progression’ ever struck me as a good idea… a lot of security, control and choice was (and is) leaving our hands.

Another thread from my tangle of experiences: I watched the Munk debate on political correctness.

There’s a bit where Stephen Fry talks about the growing climate of fear — people are afraid to say too much or be honest about their thoughts and ideas. He says it’s a real change, not imagined. It was interesting to see him on the same side as Jordan Peterson, but then they both have liberal views.

I’ve been finding out about the Danish Eurovision 2018 entry, Higher Ground by Rasmussen. I was wishing that was our song, as I felt absolutely no connection to the UK’s Eurovision entry.

But wait…

‘Higher Ground’, presented by Denmark, is a Swedish song about Norwegian Vikings who lived in Orkney and went raiding (on this occasion) to Anglesey in Wales. (My tangled knot pales in comparison to this). The Viking in the song was Magnus Erlendsson, who stayed in his ship and refused to go on the attack.

My mother thinks I take after Norwegians on her side of the family. Was she remembering old family photos I’ve never seen? I mentioned a family friend who came from Norway but was immediately corrected. She MARRIED a Norwegian but isn’t Norwegian herself. I had to chuckle… “for years I was thinking Kristin was the Norwegian, and all the time it was me!”

It’s like a twisted version of Blade Runner.

I would love to know more about my family history but haven’t a clue where to begin. Like subscribing to a gym, it’s the sort of thing you might pay for in a fit of enthusiasm then don’t do much about.

In any case, I have now adopted Denmark’s song. 😛 Not only was it about finding more peaceful ways of relating; it represents a thread from our history.

Posted in Agoraphobia

Surviving Agoraphobia

I’ve been asked how I got over the worst of my agoraphobia. The really bad days are years in my past, thankfully, but I’ll write what I can remember. For me, I suspect it was mostly luck, as I live in a small town and have managed to make most of it my ‘safe zone’.

When it came to getting out of the house… I didn’t want to become house-bound, so when it was starting to happen, I broke out of it by doing something my mother told me later was stupid… I left the house at night, when it was quiet and dark — walked in the local area, round and round. I went out to where the small shops were, and walked there too, among the buildings and narrow paths.

At one point I nearly tripped over a man who appeared to have taken drugs or was drinking or something.

I walked past my own house several times in my trips around, and could see the cats sitting in the porch watching me in a puzzled way… that made me smile, though faintly!

Was it stupid? Yes, maybe it was dangerous and I shouldn’t have done it on my own, even though I live in a quiet town. For people in a bigger town, it’s an even worse idea. Did it make a difference? Maybe, in the sense that I was demonstrating to myself that the local area was mine and I could walk around in it if I chose to. It was as much ‘mine’ as anyone else’s.

Having got out of the house, for me what helped:

(1) It’s not a huge town and I could walk most places rather than get the bus.

(2) Family were in the area, so I wasn’t alone.

(3) It helped if I had something along with me (a steadying influence) so I take my shopping trolley everywhere. It made a huge difference, to the degree I can sometimes go without it now, though it depends on where I am and how long I’ll be there for. The best shopping trolleys have big rubber wheels… plastic wheels rattle and are noisy.

(4) Take small steps. For instance, at the beginning (when recovering from a bad spell) I’d only go to a small shop round the corner for groceries, and just get a basketful at a time — a huge barrowload is too much! Best to pay by cash and not spend long. I’d usually hang around admiring tins of peaches or something if there was a queue, but as soon as the queue disappeared or became much shorter, I’d abandon the peaches and join it.

(5) I’d go really early in the morning if I had to go to the supermarket — it was quiet but they had an annoying habit of only having one checkout open, so sometimes the queue might back up a bit… usually it was OK. I remember a colleague telling me I was masochistic going to the supermarket so early in the morning just for a can of kitten food. 🙂 Trouble was, if I didn’t go early, I felt I couldn’t go at all.

(6) I’d get myself a little gift sometimes to get myself into a shop… for instance, I saw a plush rhino through the chemist’s window that I took a fancy to, so going in and buying it was its own reward.

(7) Distraction is a very good weapon, as is fading memory. The best way I can explain it, is that I’m more likely to get wound up if I’m going out every day or thinking about my anxiety all the time. If I rest a lot and do something fun at home, like artwork, and only go out sometimes, I am much more relaxed… it’s as though I’ve literally forgotten. My mother thinks people should go out every day to keep in the swim of things, and I guess that’s what works for her… but for me it’s a bad idea! Perhaps she proves to herself every day that people are nice and she can get on with them, but as I’m too deaf to really talk to anyone, I just remember every day how busy the roads are, how difficult it is for me to make myself understood, and how impatient people can be. 🙄 When I’ve forgotten all about that, I’m better able to focus on the positive aspects of going out.

(8) When I was working (and going through the worst of it at that time) I remember a couple of psychological tricks I used when walking to the office.

(a) I was too scared to go, but knew I had to. So I would say to myself that getting out of the house didn’t mean I was really going to the office! I could just walk a little while and see how it went. I said to myself “just walk as far as that lamppost, and if you still want to go home, you can go home.” That way I would get all the way to work because I no longer felt pressured into going… it had become a choice.

(b) Another trick would propel me across open ground, which was harder than walking alongside a wall. I’d pick something I could think of as a kind of wall… yellow lines running through the car park or the rooftops of nearby houses… and make those my ‘wall’ while getting across the open space. It was a bit dicey, I admit, as someone suddenly racing towards me (or cutting between me and my ‘wall’) could throw me off balance! 😛

(9) Usually there are workarounds… a quieter shop, a quiet footpath instead of the busy road, a different time when most of the people have gone.

(10) Stay aware of the seasons. Town seems to be more busy at certain times of the year… I noticed my anxiety would start rising in May, when more people appeared on the streets. Perhaps this is the real reason I’ve started to love autumn… the pace slows down.

One thing that kept me going was the thought that it would be easier to deal with it now… things always start feeding on themselves if you leave them too long. If I was going to break through the anxiety and get some of what I wanted out of life, why shouldn’t it be now rather than later?

I used to avoid catching people’s eye when I was going through the worst of it, but one day looked up and looked straight at this guy, who smiled. I smiled back — that’s when I knew the worst was over! It does show… you have no idea how much your kindness can affect someone.

Agoraphobia is a tough thing to deal with and I have learned not to underestimate it. I anthropomorphized mine as a ‘black beast’, and made this poem by Ted Hughes my own… merely because I love Ted Hughes poetry?? The causes of anxiety can be as hard to locate as the beast in the poem! Perhaps thinking of it that way made it easier for me to deal with, as though it was a creature in a book and not part of me.

I hope something in all of this helps someone, though I don’t really recommend wandering around at the dead of night. 🙂

Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues

On Kindness and Competition

Thomas, from Living Next Door to Alice, linked from his post Kindness to a Guardian article:

‘We depend on each other not just for our survival but for our very being…. Modern western society resists this fundamental truth, valuing independence above all things. Needing others is perceived as a weakness. Only small children, the sick and the very elderly are permitted dependence on others; for everyone else, self-sufficiency and autonomy are cardinal virtues.’

That’s not too far from what I was saying in Cat Dreams and Invisible Women, though I put it in a much woollier, personal, female-centred fashion!

I noticed my reaction to a claim about the NHS’s survival being proof we still care. I thought, rather sceptically, that we want it there for ourselves. The best way of ensuring it’s there as a net for us and our own families is to ensure it’s there as a net for everyone. And there I go… saying that it’s self-interest guiding us, whereas there’s nothing to say it’s not still kindness or a sense of fairness, or that we wouldn’t have the NHS in place anyway.

My attention was also caught by:

‘Free markets erode the societies that harbour them. The great paradox of modern capitalism, the ex-Thatcherite John Gray has pointed out (False Dawn, 1998), is that it undermines the very social institutions on which it once relied — family, career, community.’

Worldwide competition can be destructive both individually and to societies. We touched on the potential for damage to individuals at 1sojournal’s (Cocoons and Comfort Zones), so it interested me to consider how much more widespread this type of damage could be.

There’s an old saying, “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” People are referred to as ‘human resources’ these days, so that saying could morph into “look after individuals, and society will take care of itself.”

Why not?

Posted in Agoraphobia, Dreams and Nightmares, Health Issues, Hearing Loss, Lost in Thought, Music I Like, Political and Social Issues

Deprived Senses

Total Sensory Deprivation – a few nights ago I recorded a Horizon documentary on the subject. It reminded me of the office I used to work in.

You would expect everyone to have a fair number of office connections and opportunities for socializing (if only by the water cooler, though we didn’t have one). Unfortunately I wasn’t really talking to anyone after my original friends and contacts left for pastures new. I tried in my quiet way to make new friends, but people had their own friends already and didn’t pay a lot of attention. I think they didn’t want to get involved with someone so deaf and so ‘shy’, feeling that I was not their responsibility. They could get on with office life in their own comfortable bubbles and leave me to my colleagues in my own small department. After all, the folk in my department were the ones who chose me.

The feeling was awful, actually, and the longer it went on, the worse I felt. I wasn’t getting any of the office news or gossip, and I had no one to vent steam with or help me get a sense of proportion about things.

Some people were quite kind and friendly, but when I asked one what happened at a pension-related meeting, she forwarded my email (without checking with me first) to the Human Resources Manager. He told me people were not allowed to advise others, for legal reasons. It was now office policy.

Because of my profound hearing loss, I never knew what people were saying at meetings or amongst themselves. It made me wonder how I was ever going to inform myself if no one was allowed to discuss meetings with me… I wanted to tear my hair out!

There was an image in my mind of what I was going through, and I can still recall it. It felt to me as though I was falling down a bottomless well. I was trying to reach out and touch the sides but all I felt was air whistling past my fingertips. Not Alice in Wonderland – more like Diddums in Limbo.

That was my state of mind not so long before I crashed.

Total Sensory Deprivation? No, not quite. But the concept reminds me of that office situation – of me falling down my dark well, disassociated from everybody else.

The Horizon documentary was interesting – in an experiment, people were shut for 48 hours in small, bare cells without light, sound, human interaction or entertainment. It had quite a disturbing effect on them – some started to hallucinate, but I wondered how much that had to do with tiredness. That’s probably the point – they’d feel tired, out of touch and less sure of themselves.

One man who was kept in solitary confinement in real life talked of his experiences. When he mentioned his auditory hallucinations, I laughed out loud. The more he described them, the louder I laughed – and this was in the middle of me grieving for my cat, so I felt slightly hysterical. It wasn’t because I thought what happened to the man was funny, but because I get those… those auditory hallucinations.

I hear music – choirs, orchestras, jazz singers, country singers, opera singers. When you allow them to disturb you, they get louder. And then suddenly they stop, just like that! As though someone took a needle off a record.

It’s very strange.

I never thought of it as hallucinating, which is probably why I’ve been more fascinated than stressed; even comforted sometimes. To me it’s a form of tinnitus. Maybe it even masks the real tinnitus, which to many people is just a wasp’s scream (description courtesy of my mother).

Nor is it like having pop hits playing in your head, or (you’ll hate me for this) How Much is That Doggy in the Window? You can HEAR heavenly choirs or beautiful baritones or whatever – the sounds are in your ears.

At my old house I abandoned my bedroom, preferring to sleep on my sofa. I was never quite sure why I did that, apart from a general feeling of claustrophobia. The documentary offered me a fresh insight. Was it so different from the kind of experiences the people in the experiment were going through? With my blinds closed and lined curtains drawn, it was fairly dark in my room – and without my glasses I’m very myopic. Without my hearing aids I’m almost stone deaf. There were no other humans to talk to in that house: lack of human interaction. Then, when you’re lying there, trying to get to sleep, there is nothing to occupy yourself with. Thus I got the auditory hallucinations quite frequently, and when I was absolutely exhausted but not dropping off for any reason, I very occasionally got visual hallucinations as well. (Like Mr Guppy). Now that DID frighten me, in a way that the heavenly choirs didn’t.

It wasn’t Total Sensory Deprivation, but it wasn’t all that far off.

When I moved out to the sofa, I had two windows and a glass door – it was a lighter room. There were the cats strolling in and out: company. There was the TV… talking people and entertainment just a switch away. I feel sure now that’s why I changed rooms… and I’m not potty or anything, I’m just like any other human being. I like to be a part of life.

Posted in Quizzes and Memes

Who, Which, What, Where?

Chani suggests that everybody answers these 35 questions. Sometimes I think it’s easier to give a point of view when prompted, rather than come out with odd snippets out of the blue… and some of these things are good to say.

I enjoyed filling this out. Some questions I’ve answered before (but can still come up with something new), whereas others were quite hard to answer, and made me think.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A more inclusive world with more balanced aims and methods… and far fewer control freaks. 🙂

2. What is your greatest fear?

Being misunderstood, spurned and never fully heard.

3. Which living person do you most admire?

I really don’t know. I tried to think whose ways I’ve rather liked recently, and the first to leap to mind was C.J. from the Eggheads. Don’t ask me. That was just the first figure to mind. After Stephen Fry.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Not living up to my own expectations.

5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

The tendency to dismiss other people, views and experiences as worthless or ‘wrong’.

6. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

I have to agree with Thailand Gal (Chani) – it’s being ‘hard working’. You have to see the bigger picture and the people around you – not just your own little treadmill.

7. On what occasion do you lie?

Polite lies – “I really enjoyed the dinner.” Or “I would love to come but I’m too busy that day.”

8. What do you dislike most about your appearance?

Probably my shyness – that has an effect on one’s demeanour. 🙂

9. What is your greatest regret?

Not knowing older family members better, including my dad who died when I was 24.

10. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

A lad from Singapore. He came the closest to accepting me for who I was.

11. Which talent would you most like to have?

Clearer, more fluent speech.

12. What is your current state of mind?

‘Hunger’ seems to be the best description – not for food, but for all the things I want to say and achieve right now. I want more hours in the day.

13. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I have to say it, because it’s true – I would welcome nice crisp hearing, just a little bit better than everybody else’s! Just for a change.

14. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

2002 Winning the British Mensa Championsh…. oh, wait! That wasn’t me, that was C.J.
Several times Best in Show Oriental… nuh uh, that was Sharky.
Er.
Oh I know… getting born. All those other spermatazoa were loooooosers.

15. If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

A cat – claws and all.

16. What is your most treasured possession?

My little house.

17. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

When I worry that nobody understands where I’m coming from and is not prepared to try. A sinking suspicion that people are too busy going round and round in their hamster wheels to stop and really connect.

18. Where would you like to live?

Kenya – or a more rural area of Scotland.

19. What is your most marked characteristic?

Worry.

20. Who are your favorite writers?

Among them: Tove Jansson, Terry Pratchett, Larry Niven, Orson Scott Cart, Neil M Gunn.

21. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Same as Chani’s – Anne Shirley. She was a writer and a dreamer. I tried to come up with somebody different, but got stuck. Moominmamma? You’d all think I was crazy.

22. Who are your heroes in real life?

My family and pets… apart from that, I don’t know. I don’t know anybody that well.

23. What is it that you most dislike?

Loud ways, narrow-mindedness.

24. What is your motto?

‘It will all be the same in a hundred years.’

25. Favorite journey?

Chuffing across Kenya by overnight train. Dreamy.

26. What do you value most in your friends?

Willingness to communicate; reliability; kindness.

27. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Personally…”
“What?”
“Oddly enough…”
“I was just thinking…”
“Sigh.”

28. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

GMB (without the drinking)!! If you could call him a historical figure. He certainly liked his history.

29. What is your greatest extravagance?

Books. Bears. Gifts. Nice furnishings for my Most Treasured Possession.

30. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Their age – I would roll it back.

31. What is your favorite occupation?

Pottering around at home.

32. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Connection of minds.

33. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Connection of minds.

34. How would you like to die?

In my sleep.

35. If you could chose what to come back as, what would it be?

A cat – a well-loved one in a warm home.

Comments for this entry (during its previous life in Blogigo):

1. ThomasLB wrote at Dec 1, 2007 at 22:01: I can relate to #15. I wouldn’t mind coming back as a cat – but I want to come back as *my* cat, and I’m not sure that’s allowed.

2. Diddums wrote at Dec 1, 2007 at 22:34: That could be the basis for an interesting science fiction novel! Especially if the cat was aware he used to be his owner.

3. Pacian wrote at Dec 2, 2007 at 14:12: Now this one, I’m definitely stealing.

Posted in Books, Political and Social Issues

Life With More Meaning (and Fewer Swimming Pools)

Did you know there were ‘ethical banks’? Yep, news to me as well! I’ve been enjoying Drifting’s reflections on living more ethically, which were sparked by a book.

The whole ideal sounds like a minefield, as I can’t imagine there is all that much left in our society that is completely ethical. Even to live within the framework of Western society as it stands seems to me to go against the grain of nature. Still, it might not be impossible to fight our way out again by consistently rejecting the more unethical groups and corporations, even if little by little – and learning to live within the boundaries of what we have as a population, rather than within the boundaries of what we have as individuals.

None of this sounds as exciting as a ‘bloody revolution’ but it’s maybe less violent – and we don’t replace one bad authority with another.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted by Blogigo:

drifting wrote at Jul 29, 2006 at 06:34:
Hey, thanks for the plug. 😀
One thing the author of that book does say is that you should start small and you can’t do everything. Every little bit helps. For example I avoided buying something today because of what I perceived as excessive packaging. I don’t need a small object encased in a large see-through plastic package! Recycling, composting, using the car only when necessary (unfortunately for me that’s every day as there is no suitable public transport and I live too far away from places to walk), and a general awareness that products may contain poisons or unhealthy additives and finding alternatives, are all little ways we can be kinder to the earth.

Diddums wrote at Jul 29, 2006 at 12:30:
That reminds me of when I bought (tsk) some packaged sweetcorn cobs, took them home, peeled off the outer wrapping, then started to peel off the inner wrapping, much more difficult. Suddenly stopped and thought “WHY is it wrapped twice? Something odd going on here.” Took a closer look – turned out they were pre-cooked! I was supposed to leave them in their boil-in-a-bag and heat them up for 5 minutes. I thought it only took that to cook the things in the first place?

Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Rebel Without a Cause?

When I was in my mid-20s, someone said to me, “you’re a rebel without a cause.” I was surprised to be called a rebel at all (being a person of no consequence), but when I thought about it, I wondered why he considered – after most of the discussions we had shared – that I had no cause? Isn’t the phrase rather flippant and belittling, particularly coming from someone who knew some of my main hang-ups?

Is it a way of saying “you’re always annoyed about something, and it’s always the little things”?

Maybe (without his quite meaning to) it’s a way of saying “I’ve never experienced what you’ve experienced and so it’s of no importance to me. If I don’t know what you experience, then it’s probably something that doesn’t even exist.”

I was uncertain what he meant – but something about the look on his face gave me the impression he was feeling particularly pleased with himself that day – “look, I’m using a poetic turn of phrase while being perceptive and sceptical. I don’t need to listen – I’ve got you figured out.”

I wonder if he realized I would remember and worry about it long after the other, more thoughtful things he said had been forgotten.

Well, years have passed since then, so would he still think it applies? I’m older now and… well, I tried to say “more mellow” but I really don’t think that’s true. Many of the same things trouble me, even more than they did when I was younger. Some issues I understand more and have quietly ditched by the wayside. I’ve found other things to rebel against. There are things I used to be OK with but along the way the red mist started to descend.

The main difference with growing older is that I slide away from some battles or phrase myself more carefully – well a few of you may not believe it, but I do :-). I could be quite a confrontational rattlesnake when I was in my 20s, but a lot of the time it was misplaced wit, or an attempt to impress with my frank views – immature, yes. Other times I didn’t really believe anybody was paying attention. The more frustrated I got, the harder I complained. Sometimes all I needed was a soothing “quite right too” to make me shut up. Try telling that to my victims though. I haven’t necessarily changed my mind about whatever issues upset me before… I handle them more cautiously, making more effort to see all sides – and ending up more confused in the process.

Meanwhile, it’s still a world where some of the people you clash with don’t appreciate what you’re trying to say even if you spell it out fifty times. If they respond, it’s with a completely distorted reflection of what you said. They never get it straightened out, often because they don’t want to – that’s something you do realize with age! In mankind there’s a strong desire to believe in pure goodness and black evil – folk can be all too willing to file you under the ‘E’.

Getting back to this expression ‘rebel without a cause’, I suspect that it says as much about the person who uses it as the one it’s used about. Is the first person listening? REALLY listening? …Probably not.

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted on Blogigo:

ilovetchocky wrote at Jul 12, 2006 at 17:14:
I also feel at times that we are all walking around, making noise, only hearing ourselves.

Dilan wrote at Jul 11, 2007 at 07:10:
I think you’re right… if A tells B that B is opinionated, doesn’t that mean A is opinionated as well?

Know ye this: The world just doesn’t understand those who don’t conform with it. The world works off the basis that ‘society’ is *always* right… 😉

While I think that pure good and evil can exist, there are conflicting opinions on what this pure good/evil is… and a load of strife ‘cos of that….

Reckon you’re an anarchist/libertarian of sorts (no bad thing!)… and I guess that makes two of us…

D