Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Timely Exit?

Fuck it! That's all I need!

Heard a rather depressing bit of news on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning. Apparently researchers have established (after a 17 year study) that there is an increased risk of developing dementia among those who have had earlier episodes of depression.

Well isn't that just dandy!

Having managed to avoid topping myself so far, despite several fairly bad patches of depressive illness over the years, my 'reward' is likely to be fucking dementia!!!! Well, thank you VERY much.

Kinda takes away the incentive to combat the self-destructive demons next time round: part of me is now thinking 'Better make sure I DO fucking well kill myself before that happens, then!'

Mind you, perhaps, if I don't spot the dementia creeping up on me in time, I will no longer care that I'm going doolally: ah yes, the ultimate escape - as long as one doesn't experience the torture of intermittent lucidity!

I'm not currently depressed. Despite the bleak prospect offered by this research, I don't know if I will ever feel like killing myself again. But these things need to be considered - it's a matter of weighing up the pros and the cons; of questioning the value and quality of life in the light of such factors. Timing becomes crucial: how long do I get to hold onto my marbles?

Friday, 4 June 2010

Reflections on an Obsession with a Pussy-Teaser

Fact: I am 47 years old – yes, fucking 47 (how did that happen?) ! I am also happily married and have two sons aged 18 and 20. I don’t seem to be menopausal just yet. I am, however, showing significant signs of a classic, stereotypical ‘mid-life crisis’.

Fact: Tim Minchin is 34 years old. He is a married man with two young kids and an absolutely lovely wife, Sarah. He’s a good looking, sexy fella, I grant you, with or without the eye-liner (albeit, now that he’s in his mid-30s, perhaps not quite as beautifully thin as he was a year or two ago - (judging from Youtube clips etc). He’s also – more to the point – very talented and clever and funny and quite rude. He’s a great singer and (although piano solos don’t normally float my boat) a terrific musician.

Now , it’s all very well liking musicians or comedians – that’s nothing special. But this is just embarrassing! I don’t just like him – I’ve become a silly fan-girl, and it’s just ridiculous! I can laugh at myself, but it doesn’t seem to prevent it.

Actually, last week I had begun to realise it was wearing off – and I was quite relieved, to be honest. But then, sod’s law, I just had to go to the Hay Festival, didn’t I , (well, I already had the ticket) to see said Mr Minchin perform live for the first time? Oh yeah, and queue up for a photo and autograph afterwards. No biggie – after all, I’d met him before and had a reasonably normal conversation with him, in a group context, at the Australian film festival. But hang on a minute – even on that occasion, I had been caught by the poor man staring at him (and he said ‘Hi’, to break into my stupor, and I felt a bit embarrassed, cos I hadn’t realised what I’d been doing). But after that awkward beginning it had been ok – he complimented me on my embroidered coat, and later on I was able to ask him about his part in the film and the script-writing aspect in a sensible, normal way. It was lovely. So, no biggie, then?

It was SO MUCH WORSE THIS TIME!!! I was near the front of the queue, with my two friends. He was trying to move along quite swiftly, due to the size of the queue – and I was one of the easier ones to move along, cos I couldn’t actually speak. He said ‘Hi’ and I said nothing, or maybe I said ‘Hi’ back, I’m not sure – but that’s about it: classic star-struck tongue-tied’ness’, and shaking so much I couldn’t even press the button on the camera for my friend’s photo. And so, after a short pause, he followed ‘Hi’ with ‘Bye’, and people around laughed at that. I felt awful – in fact I nearly burst into tears. He wasn’t being mean, or making fun of me as such; I can imagine it must be quite weird for him when people behave like I did – and I was just so frustrated to find myself so completely struck dumb like that. Mind you, I did get a lovely photo with him (at least, he looks lovely while I look very VERY happy to the point of slight craziness).

But my naughty little secret – the bit that made the awkwardness pale into insignificance - is the thrill I got from having my arm around him, because my right hand was resting on his waist, and I had that hyper-awareness ‘in the moment’ experience of feeling the sensation of his flesh beneath his black tee shirt. (No, not a love handle – and I didn’t squeeze or fondle or even stroke – I just rested my fingers there for that split second while the photo was being taken.) Oh the sexual frisson! I am still keeping the charge of that moment stored in my sensory-memory-battery.

But what do I do? I am torn. On the one hand, feeling this tingly girly crush is quite a high – it’s certainly drug-like. On the other, I would much prefer to get my feet back on the ground and stop feeling so silly. I don’t want to stop liking the man and his work , nor do I intend to go ‘cold turkey’ and avoid seeing him live again (in fact, I already have tickets for another appearance), but the fizzly, sizzly stuff is quite embarrassing and wearing. After all, I still like U2, but the intense, hyped-up phase wore off a couple of months after going to their live concerts for the first time last summer. But in that case, the transition back to normality was probably helped by no longer finding Bono in the least bit sexy, due (in no small part) to his horrible short haircut. (I may have had more trouble if I’d seen the Bono incarnation of the previous tour, cos he looked a lot more fanciable then - in my view anyway.)

Tim, unlike Bono, IS sexy (the forbidden word on the Angry (Feet) Forum for Minchin fans) – but I can’t even have a decent sexual fantasy about him – what with him being happily married – and to such a lovely woman too. (I’m very moral in my fantasies – no adultery allowed). So, instead, I’m just living in hope of a sex-dream, where morality wouldn’t be such an inhibition: the kind of sexual dream that seems so real you almost have an orgasm while you’re asleep! I’ve had that kind before, featuring the oddest of people, but they don’t ‘come’ to order, unfortunately.

Now, before you get all judgemental, Tim Minchin knows full well that he deploys his sexual attractiveness in his stage persona. He has his cake and he eats it too, with his self-aware, self-mocking material. But while he may feign displeasure at the sight of his own bare chest in Canvas Bags, he also - in one particular routine (on the So Fucking Rock DVD I think)- likens his rambling preamble with the audience to bumping his erect cock against the audience’s collective metaphorical buttocks… well! Ok, Tim, you just planted that image in my head, so now I’m thinking very specifically about your penis... Lots of women, from underage teenagers to ageing biddies like me, all thinking about your cock – happy now?

And, ok, so he didn’t do that bit at Hay – but what with singing or talking about inflatable sex-dolls, liking boobs, fucking like rabbits etc etc – sex is certainly on the agenda, every bit as much as religion, alternative medicine and the use of language, offensive or otherwise. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The girls like you, Tim, and you like it that the girls like you: as the male equivalent of what some men accuse certain women of being, I suppose I could dub you a pussy-teaser.

Being unavailable is part of the definition – ie ‘you can look but you can’t have me’ – and I get the impression that Tim has good instincts about how to manage this phenomenon of depersonalised desire. Unlike full-on stalkers, I (like most of his giddy, girly fans) know there’s a difference between the object of our desire and the real Tim. Of course, it goes without saying that I would love to get to know him as a real person, have a relaxed and friendly level of normal intimacy, without the star-struck, tongue-tied silliness – and, on the other side of the same coin, would love to be known and liked by him in return. But that’s not going to happen. I’m no different from all the other fans: I’m a fan, not a friend. I’ve joined the Tim-party too late: the early fans got to be friends (or pseudo-friends?), but now he’s too big, too famous.

And so, in the rush to get through a long queue, I become a ‘Hi’ and a ‘Bye’ . It’s just one of those things – I couldn’t help acting weird; he couldn’t help hurrying past.

When thinking about what I should have said, or what I might say if I get to meet Tim in the future, I toy with referencing his self-confessed need for affirmation (since the only thing I can offer him, as a fan, that he actually says he needs, is that!). Maybe something like:
‘Great show, Tim – consider yourself affirmed!’ or ‘I really affirm you’ or ‘Just like to offer you some heart-felt affirmation, Tim, - I absolutely love your work’ ….But it’s a bit lame, isn’t it? – and anyway, I’m sure other fans have already used that approach. No, rehearsing a set line just doesn’t seem the right way to go. Just have to hope I can retain my faculties sufficiently to improve on ‘HI..Bye’

In the end, we all have the same needs, don’t we? Affirmation is what I’m seeking too, I suppose. As a fan, (perhaps particularly because I’m a slightly older fan) I’m - foolishly - looking for some kind of affirmation from this complete stranger - a sense that my liking of him is valued in some way (even if, as I suspect - despite his sexual provocativeness - he wishes there wasn’t quite so much fervour mixed in with the liking).

The boys you have fangirl crushes on are rarely the ones you get to kiss for real (unless you’re Paula Yates – and look what happened to her!). But my real man is lovely, so no complaints there. Even so, I can’t help continuing to hope that one day my sub-conscious will grant me a TripleX-rated dream about a certain ginger, Australian toy-boy …..

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Cultural consumption

In last 2 days have seen the following DVDs and TV for the first time:
Bunny and the Bull
The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
The new Doctor Who episode, with 11th Doctor debut.

Two were very good and one was terrible.

Bunny and the Bull was lovely - quirky, whimsical and with some very funny bits.

Who was also terrific - a very strong opener by the new boy.

But Dr Parnassus was a real struggle - left it on till the end but I had really stopped paying attention long before the 117 minutes were up. Sad, cos I like Terry Gilliam's surreal tendencies and creativity. But this was just too much like hard work!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Lunacy rollercoaster (do not read if male or easliy grossed out)

Do you remember that Alice Cooper song 'Only Women Bleed' as covered by Julie Covington? It was in the UK charts in 1978 when I was just 15. This was long before tampax adverts appeared in all their discrete joi de vivre brightness. Although it's mainly about an abusive relationship, I remember cringing at what I took to be the double-meaning of the lyrics - as reference to menstruation.

I have a love-hate relationship with this monthly 'curse' Of course it's easier for us western women nowadays with all our nice neat sanitary products and better sex education for boys at school. I still recall my mum telling me how she used to have to get up really early in the morning, as a teenager, to burn the used rags on the sitting room fire before anyone was around. Seriously.

But it's not really that aspect I'm concerned about - it's the hormonal effects. I haven't been on the pill for over 20 years (really didn't suit me) so - apart from 2 nine month pregnancies and 2 extended breast-feeding stints when I had full-on hormonal drenchings ALL THE TIME (that's pretty much 4 years on the trot!) - I've had the natural rhythm of this monthly cycle dictating my emotions every fucking 28 or so days over that whole time.

I am very susceptible to this monthly hormonal effect. And the people closest to me can ususally tell - boy, can they tell! I am certainly prone to PMT (pre-menstrual tension - or more accurately in my case pre-menstrual tears): I get very touchy, am more likely to mind about stuff and to lose my temper - or burst into tears. I am also more likely to feel paranoid and to wallow in self-pity.

And the worst thing is that these reactions can so easily be dismissed as 'just' the hormones. But what if this phase every month is the release valve - allowing me to access genuine unfettered, uninhibited emotional reactions to things that really matter?

Well, I used to go for that story when I was in my 20s and early thirties (right on sisterhood!), but now I'm not so sure - don't tend to take it (or myself) quite so seriously these days.

Oh, and another REALLY annoying thing - my libido gets a lovely big temporary 'kick' just at the time each month when I really don't want to bother with actually having sex cos of the hassle and - let's face it - extra messiness.

On the plus-side I usually get one (but only one) incredibly productive happy and high-energy day just before my period starts.

But annoying as I may often find my periods and their effects on my emotional state, ahead of me there's an even more disturbing prospect which I'm dreading: the menopause! My mum had a really REALLY bad time when she went through 'the change'. Aside from the awful hot flushes and night sweats, she said that emotionally it was like going through adolescence all over again!! I just don't think I can face that much MORE of a rollercoaster on the way to the other side! I've therefore always ALWAYS been adamant that at the first sign of menopausal craziness I will scoot off to my GP for Hormone Replacement Therapy. With my propensity to dip into clinical depression, I just don't think I could cope with that intense a destabilisation for several years.

I know that HRT has been linked with increased risks of some kinds of cancer, plus decreased risks for some other kinds of cancers. On balance I'm figuring I'll take my chances on that score. Mind you, since I didn't like being on the pill, I'm not sure if this HRT stuff will suit me either.

But hey, I'm only 47 and so far no hint of the current rollercoaster tipping me off.

Scream if you wanna go faster, girls.....

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fitting in

Have just been away at a local scout campsite helping to run a Beaver Scout Sleepover (in fact two Sleepovers for 2 separate groups of children on consecutive nights) Very, very tiring - not so much due to lack of sleep, since I got a reasonable amount on both nights, plus a nice big nap during the break between the 2 on Saturday afternoon, but just the overall demandingness of the thing as a whole.

But my main reason for blogging is to try to pin down my odd feelings of dislocation and awkwardness. The Beaver Sleepover was kinda fun and mainly rewarding but I still felt a bit strange with the other 'scouty' people who were organising and running it. This is a group I feel that I ought to fit in with, but I don't. I liked the woman I was sharing a room with - and although she was a lot more confident and certain about everything she thinks & says than I tend to be, I did feel more at ease with her than anyone else.

I made worthwhile contributions to various aspects of the event - in particular, leading lots of songs during the (indoor) Campfire Sing-song each night, and (on 2nd night) trying to get the difficult kid to go to sleep by whispering a made-up (& deliberately boring/ sleep-inducing) bedtime story in his ear (unsuccessfully it turned out, but my efforts were appreciated by the other leaders I later discovered). On the first night, we had a brief power cut which interrupted the video showing cartoons (shown as the settling-down-for-the-night part of the programme - something I disapproved of on principle). I was able to fill in the time until the video re-started with a story I'd brought along to read to them. My big floor jigsaw also proved handy last night with several kids who arrived earlier than the rest; and my spare soft toy beaver helped a little girl who was a bit upset and who had forgotten to bring a teddy. I also enjoyed accompanying the groups of kids to the Rabbit Run and Adventure playground each day.

Highlights: On Saturday morning, one child said to me'This is the best day of my whole life'! Another child asked if I would read them another story at some point because she'd really liked it. I also enjoyed helping some of the children attempt things they were nervous about doing (eg the rabbit run in the dark, or climbing the high obstacles on the adventure course) - they got a huge sense of achievement from doing these things.

There did seem to be rather a large number of adults for the number of children at the event. I sometimes think that this kind of over-manning is because the scouty adults are there for themselves (but that's a truism - 'we do it for the sake of the kids' is always only part of the picture - we ALL do it cos we enjoy it and it makes us feel good). But there were a few aspects of the overmanning and way the event was run that made me a tad irritated.

The most annoying thing was having far too many activity bases - there were 7 different bases (mine was codes and secret messages): with only 4 sub-groups of kids moving around (an odd decision in itself), I felt that I had spent a lot of time preparing a base which wasn't really needed - and due to the rotation of just 4 groups (rather than free-flow which I think would've worked better) I was left twiddling my thumbs for significant chunks of time. I had also run off enough copies of everything for all the kids to have one each, but only a small proportion of the kids got to do my base at all. Heavy sigh. I did try to stay postive and just allow myself to feel ryely amused rather than cross and bitter. I can keep all the spare copies and use them with the Beavers in the future.

The other thing that annoyed me a tiny bit was the way the leaders sat having their meals for such a long time (particularly today) while the kids had totally finished and were getting bored and restless. We could have fitted in more time for the bases for one thing!

It was good that they had more games outdoors today when the weather was better, but I had to walk away from what the (youngish) leader was doing as an ad hoc game to fill a short time-gap (caused by late lunch and over-running on lunch itself which meant we couldn't do the last spell of bases as per Sleepover Programme - grrr again). Anyway, the reason I had to walk away is because I really didn't like the game she was running. It was a very simple and tedious game, but my main gripe was that she was running it as a 'you're out' game, and it seemed to take ages, with an ever-growing group of 'outted' kids just standing there. I much prefer games where all the kids get to be involved throughout.

I did a few turns on drying dishes during the week-end (don't think I did any real turns on actual washing up.) Didn't do a great deal of the cleaning and tidying up at the end either. So that was one blessing of the overmanning! I hate all that stuff - and I only ever do what I feel I have to not to be regarded as a lazy work-dodger in the eyes of the others!

The woman in charge of the catering was one of those rather bossy, over-confident people. Really bugged me. A small example - when I tried to go into the kitchen to find something thin to poke down into a toothbrush cover which had a tiny toothpaste cap trapped inside (one of my Beavers asked for my help with this), she totally took over unnecessarily - as if I was coming to her to solve the problem, which I wasn't - and there was nothing I could do but go along with it, cos otherwise I would have looked petty.

Since this was a County event, there were a limited number of places available for each Group - in effect, 4 places per night, so 8 in total, for each Leader willing to come along to help run it. (in the end the numbers were lower than they should have been, due to late cancellations by a couple of groups - annoying as lots of us could easily have taken up the spaces even a fairly short notice) All this means that I gave up my whole week-end for the sake of just 8 kids from my group! (there were 18 kids in total participating in Sleepover 1 and another 23 or 24 in Sleepover 2). Might make more sense just to organise my own sleepover sometime - which would be just one night not 2 and could accomodate all 24 of my group at one fell swoop (if all wanted to do it)

Oh dear, this is a grumbly blog - and I've found that I dislike reading other people's blogs when they're like that. So I hope this is tucked away enough to escape much notice.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

When I'm feeling blue...

This is not TYSIC. This is the shadow on the other side of TYSIC.

I struggle with intermittant depression and at the moment I'm gritting my teeth at the effort of getting through this winter without the help of anti-depressant medication, similar to Prosac (I came off the tablets just over a year ago having been on them for a year. Before that there'd been 6 months on them and then 6 months off - but the quick relapse was probably cos the 1st course of treatment wasn't long enough. Prior to that I hadn't had a period of depression requiring medication for about 8 years).

When I first read Mark Watson's launch of the TYSIC, my first thought was (as I posted elsewhere) that I hope I'm still around in 10 years - but what I meant by that was not just a wry acknowledgement of life's hazards - such as (in Tim Minchin's words) 'terminal illness or sudden accidental death' No, what flashed through my mind IMMEDIATELY was 'well, I hope I can manage to avoid committing suicide before then.'

Not a good sign - but not as bad as you might think! I am not currently suicidal, and in fact I have never been so deeply depressed that I have lost sight of the effect on those around me if I were to do such a thing. I do sometimes feel trapped by this, but it's a effective deterrant. So in my case morbid thoughts, although significant as a symptom, are not the same as anything ultimately self-destructive.

But life is often something I just tolerate rather than enjoy or value. I am pretty good at monitoring where I am on the slippery slope. I had hoped that a change of job would take away the stress component, but that, it turns out, isn't as crucial a factor as I'd thought - the seasonal thing is perhaps the most influential one. And although the days are now getting longer, with some lovely sunny days from time to time, I may have slid down too far to stop the chemical imbalance in my brain from self-perpetuating.

If I gauge how I am in a few weeks time I may be able to decide if I will end up having to go to the GP after all.

The above is why my first and most important overaching TYSIC is 'Improvement in my emotional wellbeing'