Psychological Warfare – the nightmare of coming out of the closet

Warning: This post may contain expletives, may trigger issues for those with coming out stories that feature psychological and physical abuse and is not for the faint hearted.Continue reading “Psychological Warfare – the nightmare of coming out of the closet”

Itchy fundraising feet

Every year I say I’m going to do a Memory Walk, and every year I fail.  So I’m going to put this out there and see what you, my very few loyal readers think.  I want to do a walking challenge.  It needs to be manageable and I’ll need to rope in a friend or two to do it with me.  But I don’t want it to raise money just for Alzheimer’s.  I would like to raise money for Sanctuary for Kids and Autism as well.

As such I’m thinking before my 31st birthday in July next year, I want to do 30 miles in 3 weekends.  Now that translates to two walks a weekend, one on the Saturday and one on the Sunday.  It won’t be how long it takes that counts, but that each mile is met and reached.  The end funds would be split three ways, between those charities and any friends who got involved would/could raise money for those charities as well.  I know I wouldn’t be able to walk it alone.

I’m thinking this would be about June time because the winter weather does my arthritic knees no favours, and I’d need to contact the charities involved, but if the idea gains support and if one or two of my friends agree to do it with me, then I’ll start looking at possible routes.  Photos would be taken along the way and I’d post them on my blog to show my progress.

I’m aware that I’ll need to build up my walking stamina before then and work out how to manage the pain it will produce but I’ve got those itchy fundraiser feet again.  I feel like I’ve been sitting and waiting too long.  And whilst there’s a project in the offing which will go live soon, hopefully, it’s only directed at one charity.  So tell me, what do you think?

The problem with reading Jodi Picoult’s books

I love Jodi Picoult’s books. In fact I can rave about them and the way that she creates such a sense of being there with the characters until I am blue in the face.  I love her work so much I went to the book signing for Sing You Home in Manchester and couldn’t stop tweeting about it, under my then user name of @halfbloodme.  I adore her work so completely and utterly, because it’s engrossing and captivating.  And let’s not forget that Jodi herself is an amazing human being who has time for we aspiring authors who are fans of her work.

But here is my issue.  Jodi writes so well that it’s impossible to put her books down and her subject matter is rarely easy to deal with.  Don’t get me wrong that’s what I love about her work too, because her subject matter is usually related to things that society has labelled as taboo.

I am currently re-reading Perfect Match.  Which if I had thought about it, I would probably have left on the shelf for a time when I wasn’t confronting some past issues.  Salem Falls would not have been a good one either, but as I have let a good friend borrow that one, it wasn’t in my line of view, even though it’s my favourite book by Jodi.  The truth is, with my health being the way it is at the moment, I wanted an old friend to settle down with.  And Jodi’s books, whilst provocative and tear jerking, are old friends.  They challenge the reader and the characters become people you know.  So on picking up Perfect Match, I must have forgotten that it was in the mental box labelled ‘only when you aren’t living alone and dealing with stress’.

In Perfect Match, Nina Frost, a prosecuting A.D.A. is thrown into a world of hell as her own family experiences what so many children she deals with in court have experienced, when her son, five-year-old Nathaniel is sexually abused.  Big. Fat. Warning. Sign. Nat.  I picked it up without checking which one it was and I didn’t look at the cover and started reading.  I know better than to do that with Jodi’s books.  Once I start reading, I can’t stop.  It’s not as simple as “Why don’t you pick another book?”  It’s a complicated mess of emotions that I need to go through to get to the end and then put it to rest, stick it back in my mental box and forget about it for a while at least.

Until I was handed Salem Falls, all those years ago, by my then girlfriend, I had never found an author’s work who compelled me to keep reading even though every fibre in my being was telling me to run for the wind.  I don’t deal well with emotional issues.  I don’t have the ability to process them the way most people do.  I tend to cope very badly with emotions.  And yet, Jodi’s books always manage to give me a resolution.  It may not be the one I’m looking for, but when I read one of her books, I know by the end of it, I’m going to sit there and have a calm about me which I didn’t have before.  Because during the course of the book, I will find a character who I can identify a part of me with.  It can be the smallest part, but it’s there, and through that character, I can find a resolution for my own issues.  As that character works towards whatever resolution they find, I have a connection and I begin to work towards my own.

The truth is, it can be the mother in My Sister’s Keeper who helps me to see what my mother dealt with in being so desperate to do anything to keep me, the baby she had always wanted, that she immediately agreed to the heart surgery that saw me die twice on the table and which, although no one can say for certain, has probably led to several of my health issues today.  It can be Nina Frost and the way in which the life she has so lovingly crafted falls apart around her, Emma Hunt in House Rules and the way she expects others to not understand her son’s Asperger’s (I think of my niece and nephew every time I read the blurb, let alone the book) or Zoe and Vanessa in Sing You Home, a book that deals so sensitively with the issues that face the LGBTQ community.

So yes, I’ll keep reading Perfect Match, knowing that it will tear me apart as I do.  But perhaps, this time, in Nina, or one of the other characters, I’ll heal a new part of myself and take a step towards being that person who no longer suffers the nightmares caused by memories of something I witnessed a long time ago.

A fairly good Monday

Yes I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, good and Monday in the same sentence, but it’s true.  Before I start reeling off what happened to make today a good day, I will start with a preface explaining how close I live to the train station I catch my morning train from.  And also make note of the fact I don’t use my stick to get to work because the walk is a twenty minute walk from the train station at the other end.

As across most of Britain, it hasn’t stopped raining all day today.  Our little area of the North of England has had constant rain, making it difficult for anyone with mobility difficulties to walk anywhere without falling over.  I gritted my teeth as I walked across the small back lane that takes me to platform one of the train station.  That’s literally how far it is.  I turn out of my apartment block’s front door and walk across a road.  Now to get to platform three, I have to go up and over one of the bridges and across the car park.  I rarely use the lift because train station lifts break down a lot.  It takes me ten minutes in weather like today to make it up one side, because if I slip, even if it’s three stairs, it can take me a long time to get back up.  This morning I was just about to start the stair walk when one of the regular station staff who knows me fairly well, has seen me with and without my stick stops me.

“The lifts are both working, they’ve just been serviced, you might be better off going that way.”  He smiles, standing there in a weatherproof jacket looking like he could use a good cup of tea.

“Oh thanks, Jay.” I smile at him and move onto the platform to get the lift.  Potential embarrassment of falling averted, I smile to myself.  It’s Monday, that’s as good as it’s going to get, right?

Get to work, not as soaked through as I could be and thankful for the winter coat that M bought me last winter.  I’m warm and apart from my jeans being a little damp and the cuffs of my coat having dripped water onto my sweater I’m good and I’ll soon dry out, even if the office needs the heating turned back on.  We were cold today until about lunchtime.

Next bit of good news, discussing the need for a place to crash in London for EMS a week on Friday,  (I got the email this morning from my friend confirming she wants me to work on her stall for her), I found a hostel, not too far away from Kings Cross and not that much of a hassle by tube for just over £50 in total for the two nights. I’m seriously happy with that find, and I’ll only be sleeping there and it comes with free breakfast.  So that’s now booked.  Just waiting for the train fare to be sent to me via PayPal.

At lunch time a colleague went out to get lunch from Morrisons, came back with dessert for the helpdesk in the form of a chocolate ganache that was sinfully delicious and a large triple chocolate cake for the entire office.  This colleague is awesome in most respects, but today, yes he is my favourite.

One client rang up asking to speak to said colleague, but I discovered I could help her.  Once I was done talking to her, she called me extremely helpful and a bright star in an otherwise cloudy sky.  So yes, I made a client happy and she in turn made me happy.

Today also sped by, which never happens with a Monday, especially one with hardly any calls or emails through to the helpdesk.  I’m now home, ready to pull up a much neglected fanfic I’ve been working on and debating exactly what I want for my dinner.

I’m a little sleepy and my legs are not in the best of shape tonight, but it’s been a good one.

Travel as a disabled/differently abled person

A friend of mine has tweeted tonight about not being allowed to get on a Virgin train because she hasn’t booked in advance.  Why did she need to book in advance for something most of us take for granted?  She and the friend she was travelling with were in their wheelchairs and going two stops up the line.  There were even disabled spaces vacant.  So let me get this straight, all people in wheelchairs need to book 24 hours in advance before using public transport that others can pretty much get a ticket for 5 minutes in advance.  They need to know exactly when they plan to travel and how.  Even people in wheelchairs need to change travel plans last minute.

I tweeted Virgin and asked them about this, the answer I got:

“You have to book in advance for a wheelchair space, however if you go to the station they will be able to assist you ^RS”

This is not cool. Period. Personally I travel most trips over an hour with a walking stick because of my knees.  The pain gets too much and I just can’t deal with the constantly having my knees bent for that long.  But here’s the difference, they would have let me on the train.  My friend and her friend however, were refused service.

The difference between the way countries treat those who are not able bodied is astounding.  Over the past few years, I’ve made several trips to the US to visit my other half.  Every time I’ve had wheelchair assistance at the airports because after long haul flights the idea of attempting to walk from one end of a large airport to the other is laughable.  People, even passers by who don’t work for the airports, automatically move to let anyone in a wheelchair or with a walking stick past.

Staff on the coach service I usually use to get me to and from the airport assist me in and out of the coach when I am in the States.  They make sure to take my luggage and load it for me and get it off for me and make sure I can manoeuvre it on my own.

At Dragon*Con, which we’ve been to for the past two years and which is held in Atlanta, the convention staff go out of their way to ensure disability needs are met and that anyone with a differing ability is treated as a human being.  Admittedly, most of the time, the UK cons I attend are the same but with one difference.  At the UK cons I have to warn them in advance I’m coming.  At Dragon*Con I just have to go to the disability services on arrival and they put a sticker on my card that states what it is I require to ensure I’m comfortable.

When using my stick in the UK, I’m subjected to stares from people who think it’s odd that at my age I’m using one, I get people laughing and taunting.  In the States, this doesn’t happen.  You get the occasional idiot who ignores the walking stick as they barge past, but as a whole, my experiences are generally good.  People within the customer service industry in America seriously go out of their way to help people, and whilst some buildings could definitely be more accessible, there’s an attitude of help rather than hindrance.

As people who rely on public transport or the kindness of friends and family to get from a to b, we shouldn’t be told that we can’t travel, we shouldn’t be pushed aside in favour of able bodied people.  A wheelchair does not mean we aren’t capable of living a good and fulfilled life, but, according to the UK transport system and the attitudes of the British public, we do nothing but scrounge of the government.  Tell that to me once you’ve found out I work a 40 hour week, and tell that to my friend in her wheelchair, who would love nothing more than the ability to work a full time job and who has a mind as sharp, if not sharper than most, but who is, in effect limited to what she can do because of the limitations of her body.

Disabled is a word that says in the minds of many, unable, scrounger, living off benefits.  To those people, I say heaven forbid you have an accident that means you can’t work any longer.  You too would be living off the government, and what would you say then?  Would you be as quick to judge the rest of us?  Travel and dignity are rights for everyone, not privileges, and it seems that Virgin Trains have forgotten this fact.

The lesser lauded women of Sci-Fi

There are some branches of Sci-Fi that have given us amazingly strong women.  That have shown us that women, as a species, can survive against all odds and that women can be strong leaders as well as followers.  If I asked you to name a few, you’d probably come up with names from what appears to be the regular list.  For example, Dana Scully, Samantha Carter, Kathryn Janeway, Laura Roslin.  I love these women I’ve just named and I love the actresses that play them, but there are often others who get overlooked, whether we mean to or not.  A conversation with a friend about which season of SGA to watch, earlier today has reminded me of that fact.  I suggested season 1.  She replied with ‘but it doesn’t have Carter in it’.  My answer, it has Weir, and she’s awesome.  It made me think about the female characters I admire in shows that often appear to be overlooked because of an actor or character who is thrown into the spotlight.

Continue reading “The lesser lauded women of Sci-Fi”

Dementia Defined?

According to the dictionary definition, dementia is:

1. Deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment, resulting from an organic disease or a disorder of the brain. It is sometimes accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes.
2. Madness; insanity.

September brings Autumn

My Summer holiday is officially over. I am back in the real world and today was back at work.  Coming home from 2 weeks in the hot climes of Alabama and Georgia back to British weather is always a bit of a downer, but today, even with the showers, I can say for certain I love British weather.  We haven’t really had a summer this year, but even though that is the case, Autumn is in the air.  That feeling I used to get when I went back to school after the summer off is back.  There is a slight chill in the air and I noticed a couple of the leaves on the trees on my walk to and from the train station were starting to turn.  I love Autumn.  It is perfect.  The chill that takes the heat off, the way the leaves turn.  Autumn is my favourite season.  It brings a closing to the old year and a starting of the new, particularly in Pagan traditions.

It’s the closing of the old year that has me intrigued today.  Things have been going a little crazy for me recently.  Friendships have reached points where in the coming months they will either be salvaged or broken for good, one of my colleagues is leaving our office the day after my first year is complete, I’ve been offered some part time as and when needed work that excites me beyond belief, and soon, hopefully, my fiancee will be leaving the States and coming here to join me in the UK.  I’m at a point of sadness and of peace, of contemplation and of hope.   It’s an odd mixture but it’s a good place to be.

I don’t know exactly what my future holds, but what I can see of it is looking like it will happen the way it is meant to. And that is something that I am beginning to look forward to.

A weekend of chaos and yet of fun

My poor blog has been a little more than ignored since I’ve been in the US and so a post now should at least remedy that a little.  This past weekend I was at Dragon*Con with my fiancee and our friend J.  I’m not even going to attempt to chronologically order things but I am going to give a quick overview of thoughts and happenings.

Continue reading “A weekend of chaos and yet of fun”

Sometimes I despair at the world

In the past few days I have grown weary of humanity.  I have lost most of my faith in it and I’m finding it hard to find a reason why I should have faith in it.  Since Monday, there are things that have reached my ears that have made me want to turn off my internet connection, quit leaving my flat and become a hermit.  Quite frankly it’s looking like a completely viable option.

My fiancee’s colleague uttered a phrase that left me wanting to slap her, and my fiancee scared to be at the job she is in.  What was the phrase? “If my son is gay, I’ll beat the crap out of him.”  Admittedly that on its own is enough to make me doubt my faith in humanity, but then you add this little gem overheard on the way home tonight, “My mum told my sister if she brings the f*****t home again, she’ll cook him dinner.”  These words tear me to the core.  They bite at me and they stab like knives.  Is it any wonder that the Queer community has trouble coming out? Even when we’re in the supposed ‘liberal’ Western World we are attacked by these words.

In the news, Pussy Riot have been imprisoned for two years, the Moscow government has banned pride for one hundred years and the Russians are also suing Madonna for standing up for Gay rights.  Please explain to me how someone who expects to have fun being wined and dined at the UN thinks this is justifiable, because apparently Putin does.  The way it stands at the moment, Russia is governed by bigots and a Church that is so far beyond Orthodox it’s forgotten the teachings of the man it was based on.  Chances are this paragraph is enough to get me banned from ever entering Russia under their current rule, even if my sexual orientation isn’t.  It’s no wonder I’ve met Queer Russians who live in the UK and who plan to stay because they are scared to go home again.

I’ve mentioned this week, but I should also mention that in the past few weeks, I’ve been asked if I know of somewhere that can provide safe harbour for Queer people, I’ve seen anon comments on other sites where people have slammed into my friends because they are Queer, and I’ve also had a friend ask me what the point is of coming out when it only causes more damage than good.

Tonight, this blogger’s faith in humanity is nearly completely shot. And quite frankly it’s going to take a lot to get what faith is lost back.  No amount of indulging in my favourite shows or books is going to take the bitter taste out of my mouth.  So whilst I despair at the hatred in the world, I’m going to keep fighting.  I’ll make these posts that maybe reach a handful of people who are, I know, likely to be like minded individuals. I will sign the online petitions against the injustice in places like Russia.  And I’ll try to hold onto the goodness of my chosen family and the people I look up to. And no, regardless of the fact I’ve been publicly heckled and chastised online, I will not stop calling people on their homophobic, sexist, ablest or racist attitudes.