Friday, April 15, 2011

Looking Back, Dragged Forward, Still

{Image: Lady In The Water 1947/Photographer: Tony Frissell/From:}

I used to be a 'people person'.  That laughing, friendly, moderately attractive-yet-non-threatening woman, saying hello to various people at exhibition openings, Halloween parties, comedy gigs, etc?

Yeah, that used to be me.

Then I quit.


Melbourne tonight.  It's a beautiful city.  Laid back, but with good bones.  European flair, but not Eurotrash.  Antipodean, but not loudly so.  Like a confused Autumn day when the sun is on your back and you're grateful the good weather held out - something to be noticed and appreciated.

Tonight her pavements feel like the decks of a softly rolling cruise ship.  That's because the meds I'm on screw up important things, like balance and concentration, they set my internal gyroscope on "walking, drunk-like".
Also, the only thing I've had to eat today is a cup of coffee and a hot cross bun.

This isn't a good way to meet The Boyfriend's workmates.

The shindig is at a popular Oriental-themed bar in the middle of town.  It's all dark wood, loud conversation and Buddha statues.  The Art of Zen disguised as interior decorating.  I walk in, smile, sit down on the seat that's been politely cleared.  The floor is still unsteady and the room lurches to the left a little.  I chat to two people I've met before - Amanda, a quiet blonde lass from the outer suburbs and Zelle, a boyish, business-savvy Ethiopian lad with a broken leg.
There's a story behind that leg - one of late nights, girls and bar fights.  He's still smiling, though.

The Boyfriend introduces me to other workmates.  I remember their names, smile at the appropriate times, and generally Make Nice.  All the while, I'm thinking about the sushi bar next door and how I really, really need to eat something that's not mainly carbs.

The Boyfriend and I eventually leave, do the dinner thing and then grab some Japanese crepes for dessert.  They're delicious, something Sailor Moon would eat while riding a unicorn to Disneyland to hang out with Cinderella.  Mine has Nutella, custard and strawberries, the Boyfriend has one with strawberries, cream, cheesecake (yes, they actually put in a small slice of cheescake) and berry sauce.  Ridiculously good and on the fabulous side of wrong.

On the way up Little Lonsdale street, we pass cafes, bars and restaurants.  It's Friday night - people are glad to have finished for the week, glad to have a glass of wine in their hand, a buddy to bitch with and a fine city to do it in.

We pass a bar which is hosting the opening of an art exhibit - then I remember the world I used to belong to.  This world; as an active participant, not a crepe-eating, drug-addled ghost of bone-bleached judgement.

As it used to be, the past life - music playing in the background, cat's-eye liquid liner which would make Katy Perry jealous.  Yeah, I know the artist, she's super-smart and is a derby girl to boot.  Yeah, I know the DJ, he's my boyfriend.  Yeah, that's my burlesque troupe, wanna hire us?    
Always. On. The. Hustle.  The good guest, the good host.  The 'people person'.

And for what?

I met a lot of nice, interesting people.  But they aren't here now.
I met a lot of leeches and narcissists disguised as nice, interesting people - I'm glad they aren't here now.

It's through these streets I see those meet-and-greet scripts, through the windows of it's bars, restaurants, colourful laneways and alleys full of promise.  But all the roles have been played and the storyline exhausted.

Dreams are dreams no longer, some just experiences, some experiences resulting in fine successes (someone order me a parade!), some broke embarrassingly like a latte cup on stone flooring.  Oh, and lots and LOTS of stories.

So where to from here?  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Comfort in Slumber or Stupidity

Ohhh, my head...

I've been put on new medication by the doc, and it feels like I've just roofied myself.
Normally I'm a sleep Nazi - I refuse to have a lie-in unless it's a weekend to keep my schedule as regular as possible.
However, on Sunday (my first day on mirtazapine) I woke up at noon, had something to eat and didn't get up again until 6pm.  Other days have been variation on this 'sleep alot, eat, try to do something useful, fail, sleep' theme.

When I'm awake I feel like I'm on a gently rocking boat.  Concentration is terrible, dry mouth ever present.  Apparently these are pretty normal side effects.  My doc recommended mirtazapine because I wanted something that wasn't an SSRI.
Hey, they work, but I want my libido back!  My 'date knickers' are starting to develop abandonment issues.  So... I'm going to give mirtazapine 2-3 weeks, then see what happens.

My main concern is that my brain will rot and my intelligence will be lowered.  Paranoid? Yes.  But there are trees out there lumbering more gracefully than I right now.
Also, possessing the quickness of intellect found in recently beheaded poultry does nothing for one's esteem.  

Being this stupid and clumsy is really rather trying.  Let's hope it's only temporary.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wherever You Go, There You Are - But That Don't Mean You Can't Sneak A Peek

Run away, RUN AWAY!  Like you're Ripley and a chestburster really, really wants to put it's thingy in you.  Like a politician backpedalling on an promise.  Like a sensible child fleeing from a clown.

I am a born wannabe-escapist - I say 'wannabe' because I can be unrelenting in my pursuit of even the most futile endeavours, like a T1000 missing half it's body and still chasing an chipmunk-voiced, under-aged Edward Furlong.

You know that idiot who says, "You can have my sword/bow/axe/stupendous loyalty for seemingly no good reason," in aid of some hopeless quest? Yup, that's me.

So, here is some natty writing about faraway places and looking-out-the-window dreams, possibilities and realities that belong to others.
My reality is mine - but it's always educational to peek into what could be.
Ergo, my sin today is covetousness.  Journey with me?

Russia: The Georgian Ministry of Highways building is the ultimate treehouse.

Japan: The Edo period never really went away, thank goodness.

New York: An American retail adventure as guided by The Sartorialist.

Note: Today's post is short because I slammed my fingers in a car door - the middle and ring fingers on my dominant hand are out of action.  So typing ain't easy right now... but I'll be back to 80 wpm soon enough :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm A Believer

Walking up two flights of stairs, above a Korean grocery store.  On the left, a Korean travel agency that never seems to shut.  On the right - a long, brightly lit room full of tables, people everywhere.
Tonight it's busier than usual.  There's a cute blonde girl in a polka-dot rockabilly outfit sending a text on her smartphone.  A guy sporting a purple beanie and black dreadlocks hoists a large green case onto a table.  There's a half-dozen or so Asian international kids in hipster clothing and sticker-covered laptops taking up another two tables.  The room is a mess of Bright and Loud, floppy haircuts, chipped nailpolish, laughter, yelling.

No, it's not a cafeteria scene from Glee.

It's a bloody games store.  Like, a Dungeons & Dragons-type game store.  The walls are lined with Warhammer figurine boxes, various RPG rulebooks and posters advertising 'Magic: The Gathering' card... stuff.  Cute Rockabilly Girl has Magic cards.  Purple Beanie Guy sets up his Warhammer figurines.  The Asian kids are playing old-school D&D.

This ain't the geeks I remember.

Why is the ratio of male-to-female roughly equal?  Why is there a small, friendly, gay Asian guy behind the counter instead of a fat grumpy white dude?  Why does everyone seem socialised and showered?  Where's the characteristic lack of personal hygiene and self-confidence?

My little gaming group finds table and we set up.  Yes folks, I game - in the 'make stuff up, throw dice' kind of way.  The last time I did this properly was well over 10 years ago, at university (holy crap that makes me feel old).  Back then I was often the only female in the Really Geeky Section of a games store and it was weird, stinky, fun for the socially awkward.

Now, it appears that Geek really is the new Frickin' Awesome.  Yes, Wired magazine has been telling us this for years and the popularity of shows such as Big Bang Theory and the unnatural cultural fascination with teenage vampires were clear indicators.  However, I didn't really believe it until now.
It's one thing to see Bigfoot's footprints.  It's another to have him gawking right at you, breathing on your face (and about to tear it off).

So should I be embarrassed about my return to gaming?  Or is this a part of life smacking the big 'Reboot' button and showing me an unfamiliar-yet-strangely-pleasant alternate universe?  The people I game with are bloody terrific - all are employed and/or studying (the youngest is in his first year of university, the oldest are the GM and myself) all have an absurd sense of humour and are notably intelligent - but not intimidatingly so.
I mean, the GM wears gold Doc Martens and The Other Lady Gamer crochets monsters.

The game itself is very different from what I'd been used to, and loads of fun.  Between the strategic moves and 'pew-pew' fighting, there's been drunken intergalactic karaoke and spontaneous use of dwarf bread pancakes as protective headgear.

You could say I'm regressing.  You could say, 'it's all made up, there's no winner, what's the point'?    

But... maybe the point is just to have fun, for now.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'May You Live In Interesting Times' For The Podcast Generation

"Thanks to all of you for listening, and we hope you have a story-worthy week...",  Dan Kennedy's voice continues, giving credit to the producers, PRX and the like.

I'm in the kitchen, listening to The Moth's non-fiction storytelling podcast as I do the dishes. 
Dan's words, "... and we hope you have a story-worthy week...", has an odd effect on me.

I want to smash the Royal Albert teacup I'm holding and just SCREAM. 

I want to yell, "Dan, I ran away from home this week because of invading lesbians!  Dan, when I see French-polished fake fingernails I remember shooting porn in an apartment on Collins Street; the flashguns attracting the attention of office workers across the road!  Dan, did you know when a body is released from the Coroner, sometimes they still need to keep the brain?  It's not firm enough to slice into for an autopsy in the usual state so they need to pickle it, which takes a few weeks."

Story-worthy week?  Story-worthy, and possibly somewhat accursed life.

This week:
It's around 5am, Tuesday morning.  My buddy Oliver is sitting on my bed, helping me do a breathing exercise.  Words coming out of my mouth like a busted record, "Can't...can't...can't...can't...can't..." I'd woken up screaming several times that night.

For the last week I'd been trying to get a new GP - the old one was fine for vaccinations, pap smears and colds.  Terrible for mental health issues.  Very anxiety causing, so I'd been taking Valium every day whilst I searched for a new one.  Taking Valium every day not only very 60's-70's-80's, it's also very bad for you.

Around this time, The Boyfriend lets a young nineteen-year-old colleague stay with us for a couple of days, because she was being stalked.  Plus, she also has an abusive forty-one-year-old girlfriend with whom she is extremely co-dependant.
Those couple of days turned into many days, every inch turning into a mile.  The colleague's abusive girlfriend then comes and stays without permission, for one night, then two.  More of their stuff was being moved into our house.  This was very bad.  And I was freaking the hell out.

So I ran away from home at stupid-o'clock in the morning with Oliver, whilst The Boyfriend had the nasty task of evicting the colleague/freeloader and her girlfriend from our house that night, after he came home from work.

I checked myself into a hotel room, hating myself for being broken, for not being strong enough to help with the whole, "Get out of our house you sociopathic bitches," thing which was The Boyfriend's task. 
The Boyfriend is gentle, kind, strong and sweet, not unlike the treasured Mr JLB Matekoni from Alexander McCall Smith's 'No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series.  I am a far, far nastier person than The Boyfriend.
I was also scared, because I had an appointment with a GP the next day and I was terrified that she would not be The One and the painful search would continue. 

Looking for a new doctor isn't great under any circumstance, but looking for a new doctor whilst being a mental wreck is really, really difficult.  I'd been to two already - the first guy gave me the creeps and the second guy just wasn't interested.  It was like a shite version of OKCupid and Craigslist combined, but with my mind at stake.

And then the crazy Sapphic duo invade our home? 

Seriously, you cannot make this stuff up.  Sometimes I look at the sky, and wonder what character I am in this f**ked up script.  What plot device comes next?  What challenge will the protagonist face to move the story along? 

So yeah Dan-from-The-Moth, I've had a 'story-worthy' week.

My whole life is a story no publisher would accept - they'd say it was too far-fetched, too unreal.
Death.  Pornography.  Honesty.  Integrity.  Madness.  Dysfunctionality.

I live in interesting timesI have story-worthy weeks

F**k you, fate, life and all the laughing deities.  I will prevail (in a somewhat bitter fashion).


The freeloaders have been successfully thrown out.  I have a new, better GP who will actually co-operate with my psychologist.  I live in hope, but am curious about what the next 'plot device' is going to be.

Werewolves maybe?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rewiring the Noggin - An Ambitious Activity

Right.  I've started to read a bunch of books.  They've provided me with some of the knowledge so I can begin to make my way out of this maze.
Actually, if this horrid funk were an actual maze it would be built of cold, foggy glass bricks, and I'd come across just enough bland-tasting protein bars and occasional bit of limp salad and tepid water to keep me going.
Oh, and sometimes, a big landslide of poo would drop on my head and I'd have to start all over again.

So.  A strategy.  Umm... haven't got one yet, but it's being fervently worked on.
So let's try this for now:

  • Acknowledgement and Reframing

Event - The WorkSafe claim has been accepted by my employer's insurance company.
I got a large package in the mail full of brochures and forms telling me so.

Acknowledged Emotions Regarding Event 
Relief: I will have an income whilst recovering from my injury.

Fear: Receiving any correspondence or contact regarding the incident or my employer conjures up overwhelming amounts of anxiety and causes me to relive the experience in my head, resulting in stammering, incoherent speech and teeth-gnashing.  Unpleasant.  I just want to be left alone to get better thank-you-very-much.

Confusion: I'm not as organised as I once was.  There are forms to be filled in and the brochures are of the 'one size fits all variety', with the general message of 'stay positive and focus on returning to work'.
This would be more appropriately directed towards a someone who's had a physical injury, but it's unhelpful in terms of someone who has had a severe psychological blow.
The people I have been speaking to have not been putting any pressure on me to return to the workplace, and have acknowledged that the printed information can be confusing in terms of volume and language.
Whilst this is a positive, I find the disparity between the literature and the spoken interactions can be distressing.

Resentment: Yes, it's a 'win', (success of claim = acknowledgement that work did royally f**k me up and it's not just me being stupid) but a very bitter one.  This 'win' is a confirmation that there was gross neglect, lying (by omission or otherwise) and abuse of trust.
Why was I put in that position at all?  The company I worked had a set of four values that I lived by.
Yet the decision-makers chose not to abide by the very values they (and their marketing team) created; the money they used in re-branding and selling those values to the staff and public totally wasted.
Is "put your money where your mouth is" no longer obvious?      

Now, this is where I attempt to put the above event under a different microscope and hope to 're-frame' it from an unhelpful perspective into a helpful one.  This is hard, but here goes:

Re-frame 1 - I am fortunate that I shall be receiving 95% of my pre-injury income for 13 weeks.
This will allow me to pay bills, keep up my financial obligations, pay rent and eat food.  Whilst my lifestyle been thrown down the rabbit hole (and yes, I'm still tumbling) at least the basics are accounted for.  I'll also have a chance to do some of the regular things one enjoys, like going to the movies, eating out (not expensively!) on occasion and maybe going on little day trips to the countryside.
Oh my goodness.  Revelation; I currently have the lifestyle of a penny-pinching, lavender-haired retiree.  Laugh? Cry?
Both, I think.

Re-frame 2 - Whilst communicating with my employer, their insurer or having any associations or task relating to 'the incident', all parties involved have tried to be as helpful and courteous as possible, and are accepting of my limitations.
When I say, "this is upsetting", or "I can't speak to you because it can set off an anxiety episode", they generally get it.
When I ask to be left alone, they try not to bother me much.

Re-frame 3  - Whilst I am easily confused and am a cognitive mess (sometimes teacups are misplaced in the bathroom and face cream ends up in the pantry) I have been assigned a case manager by the insurance company that I can call and generally 'dump on' (oh my word, I've never been a 'dumper' and find this mortifying) when confused or freaked out.  Poor chap...

Reframe 4 - I have won.  It's shitty that there was even a battle in the first place, but my position has been vindicated.

And lastly, whilst this is not a re-frame, it's a last-resort, back-against-the-wall thought that sits in the back of my mind - I can instigate legal action if need be.

Horrid, but comforting.

~ Useful ~
Acknowledging the Negative in Leading Lasting Positive Change