Friday, 28 October 2016

All Prepped for All Hallows'

Pumpkin flaying has been marvelous fun this year...

Monday, 10 October 2016

In the midst of misery

The local library hosts an "Open Mic" to tempt us to come along and share our work.

I've written stuff and I'm sure I could read some of it, out loud in front of folks, if I put my mind to it.

Looking back at the blog for candidates I spot a clear correlation between creativity and sadness. Some of the most hauntingly beautiful things I've written were crafted in the midst of misery. Suffer the rain to appreciate the sun, the trope of the tormented artist.

There's too much sun in my current disposition, creating arid times for inspiration. Yet would I wish for a forecast of rain, so that I might be more fertile in my imaginings? I think not.

This Mental Health Day, don't suffer alone. #Itstimetotalk

Laying down reserves, 4 May 2010
The odd sock that disappears, 10 May 2010
Fettered, 26 May 2010
Retreat, 23 June 2010
A blink reveals, 16 November 2010
Crank the orrery on, 21 December 2010
Folly laid bare, 24 January 2011
Premonition of incipient nostalgia, 21 June 2011
Histrionics fade to history, 3 June 2012
The rainbow race, 4 July 2012

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Google bait

When I recently mentioned to a friend that I'd resumed blogging he asked me what I was doing to promote the blog. Nothing, I said, I was really just writing it for writing's sake, and I didn't think blogging was particularly fashionable in these days of the twitter ascendancy.

We then had a little discussion about popular blogs - I said the trick was to write something that other people were interested in, hence the successful blogs out there on the subject of weddings, interior design, etc.

I tend to write about what is happening in my mental space, or about things that interest me. Just very occasionally something that interests me happens to be interesting to other people too.

One of my most popular blog entries to date is Stretch Yawn Faint, it is also (at the time of writing) the top google result for that three word search. Apparently "orthostatic hypotension" is a relatively un-discussed side effect of humans being big stretchy blobs of flesh.

So obviously one trick to having a successful blog is to write about the commonly experienced but under-discussed stuff that people google, but how would you identify these google-bait topics?

LMGTFY or "Let Me Google That for You" is a great website which has also has a live stream feature which shows you in real time what people are typing into LMGTFY. Be warned however, for it turns out that some people have rather unsavoury questions for google.

Another google-bait source is google itself with their trending visualisation which is sanitised and pretty cool looking. Sadly it seems that the trending topics are predominantly football or celebrity centric. I suppose that 4.45am on a Sunday morning probably isn't peak googling time, but the trending topics seem seriously banal.

I'm going to carry on blogging about bits that mean something to me, so if you're looking for 20 things you didn't know about Manchester United (and number 16 really surprised me) then let me introduce you to LMGTFY...

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Itching and scritching

A blank page and a flashing cursor that itches and scritches at the psyche, begging to be booted along the page and be displaced by the developing prose. So I sit here trying to oblige, yet somewhat at a loss as to what should come next.

I drift forward in time, moored by my minor hobbies, commitments to family and friends, the toil that pays the bills, and the drudgery of domestic chores. It isn't a bleak existence. It is mildly pleasant and satisfying. A low stress, low risk strategy which will carefully transport me from here to eternity.

What about the paths untraveled? The adventures I could have? I could be and do so much more. Why don't I? When did I change my outlook and set my sights so low?

I do know the answers to those questions. I am where I am, doing what I do by conscious choice. Divorce and disease. These two daemons brought on my bunker mentality. I've chosen my current location and path.

Safety. Security. Comfort. Routine.

But what if I were to shake it all up?

I could.

I know I could.

I'm a little scared now.

This cursor dragging me forward.

It is taking me to unexpected places.

I think I'll scuttle back to my comfort zone.

But the cursor is inside me now.

Itching and scritching.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Where am I now?

After letting this blog languish for the last couple of years (barring the odd pumpkin flaying post) I find myself drawn to blog again.

Initially this blog was started when I was in a "return to work" phase after being off work for some time for breast cancer treatment. I was travelling each week from Leeds where I live to London where I worked (for an american investment bank.)

Suddenly being back in the capital where I'd previously lived for well over a decade brought with it plenty of memories. Sadly the sort of memories I was flooded with weren't the joyous ones, but largely ones of my marriage sinking like the titanic, and thoughts of my "wasband" ex. A whole moribund pustular nexus of unresolved trauma.

On top of that I felt physically and psychologically fragile from the cancer treatment. I'd been left with lymphedema in my right arm, and the compression garment I wore was painful and acted as a constant trigger of cancer related fears and memories.

Finally I was struggling with the demands of work, an employer who superficially provided support in the form of meetings with its medical advisers, yet demanded I do long anti-social hours, with the spectre of redundancies never far away.

It was a difficult period. Blogging was a form of self-counselling. Happily it really helped, and with the gentle passing of time I find myself in a much better place than I was back in 2010.

So, where am I now?

Dare I say it - I'm happy and content. Life has a gentle pace, with simple pleasures.

I live and work in Leeds. The job isn't hugely demanding, yet it has enough variety to tickle my interest, and the hours (4 evenings and a shift at the weekend) allow me plenty of time to do my own thing.

I have a border collie dog (Poppy). I don't want to gush, but she's lovely. She keeps me grounded, reminds me to laugh, and takes me to the park every day.

I live in a dilapidated house, which arguably is a little less dilapidated than when I took it on. I'm "doing it up" which is one of those projects that keeps on giving.

At present I have a lodger, so the house feels comfortably lived in. It started as a temporary stopover while he got organised with flat hunting, and perhaps one day he will actually get started with the flat hunting. Until then it is nice to have some company.

So blogging doesn't need to be a therapeutic exercise any more, just a whimsy when I want.