On the difference between days

Yesterday I mended the tip-ex mouse, helped the secretary with some tricky stuff on her computer and maybe taught a year 8 kid some maths (“maybe” because I’m not sure how much stuck.). I feel those are 3 good uses of a day.

Today I have nothing of note to mention. I assume I must have done something because I’ve been awake for many hours. When I try to remember my achievements, all I can think of are the things I still haven’t done yet. Things that need doing, things I could have done earlier, things I should probably be doing right now instead of writing this.

Funny how different days can be. Or at least one’s attitude towards them.

On having a day off

Sometimes I realise just how much I need to charge my batteries.

Today was such a day.

Today, I slept late, slept through the afternoon and am going to bed fairly early.

I feel this is a good way to spend a day. Not every day, but once in a while.

I hope tomorrow will be more energetic. I want to do a million things (more or less) before Christmas…but I need to be awake for them to go well so I see surrendering one day (today) as a necessary means to an end (or lots of ends).

🙂

zzzzzzzzzzzz

(Just so I can say I didn’t sleep through the entire day, I also sat on my rowing machine, went for an interview (maths help for a kid in the neighbourhood) and started sorting out (=facing) my finances :P)

On sleeping in 7 beds in 7 days

Lying here in bed, I realised that I’m in the same bed as I was in yesterday. That hasn’t happened for a while. A whole week in fact.

I left my house on Friday morning last week and slept in a different bed each night until I got back home on Thursday evening. I love that my friends and my family have room for me. I love that I have the means to travel. I love that it’s all possible.

And yet..

..I am glad to stop spinning for a bit.. even if it’s just a couple of days before I set off again.

On wearing nice socks

I wear odd socks. Odd, as in not matching, rather than intrinsically odd.

Sometimes they’re brightly coloured, sometimes dark, sometimes stripy, sometimes spotty, sometimes plain, sometimes patterned, sometimes with pictures. Sometimes they’re thick, sometimes thin, sometimes long sometimes short, sometimes in-between. Sometimes they’re boring socks, sometimes they’re just socks, not in need of a description.

Sometimes someone mentions them, mostly they don’t. If they do, they mostly only notice that they don’t match.

I notice other people’s socks occasionally, mostly if they aren’t wearing shoes. Sometimes I comment on them.

“Hey! [Those are] cool socks!” Smile. End of conversation.

What I have never done, is ask if I can wear them.

No one’s ever asked if they could wear mine either. If they had, I would have thought they were very very strange.

I have to admit that I’ve also never offered..

If someone told me I have nice socks, I would say thanks and probably move on to something more exciting. If I thought they were really interested I might say something like: “Yeah, I thought they were pretty cool too, I found them in a market in….blahblahblah..”

“Those are nice socks!”
“Thanks! Want to try them on?”

is not a conversation I’ve ever thought about having. Not in a million years.

***

Yesterday, while waiting at the airport, I flicked through a magazine.

Apparently, according to the magazine, 

“Hey! You’re wearing nice socks, can I try them on?”

made it onto the list of top 3 chat up lines for the next season.

(!!!!!)

Apparently that’s a thing.

I don’t claim to be an expert on chat up lines, I didn’t even know there was a list, but even assuming one exists, asking to wear someone else’s socks would never have occurred to me as a candidate, never mind one of the winners.

I have no idea how they choose what lands on it. Have they been compiled, thought up, tested? Do people write in with what worked for them?? Are there contests?

Several hours later I still can’t imagine a situation where that would be a good thing to say.

It’s entirely possible I’m missing the innuendo or a reference to something else because I miss a lot of references.

But I’m curious:

Is it me, or is the whole idea really really weird?

Do people really want to wear other people’s socks? Especially when the other person’s been wearing them..

Have I been missing out? 

On planning (at least) 31 things to do (before the end of the year)

Today is my birthday.

I wanted to write a list of things I was going to do over the coming year as a kind of birthday post.

I am very naive.

I sat down last night and within a very short time I had a list of well over 31 things which all have to be done before Christmas.

Perhaps, if I get them all done, next year will be really relaxing. (And no. I’m not holding my breath on that one)

Quote: on coming alive

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

– Howard Thurman
***

One of my favourite people told me today that she sees me as a “PowerFrau”. That translates literally as “power woman”, but kind of loses something in the translation. She means she thinks I’m always doing/achieving something. She occasionally has a point. In the last 6 months I have, among other less noteworthy things, dug a pond, been to evening classes, survived a breakup, sat exams, moved house, set up a 350l aquarium, written and presented a dissertation, driven across Germany, visited my family in England twice, produced the prizes for a chemistry competition, helped a friend pack the contents of her house ready to move and worked more or less full time.

I don’t feel like a PowerFrau at the moment though. I feel like someone’s stolen my batteries, and maybe filled the space with lead. There are some days where life is just hard. Everything seems heavier than normal and it counts as an achievement to survive the entire day intact. It doesn’t help that it’s damp and dark for most of my non-working hours.

What I need to do to feel alive is probably sleep more. My sleep dept might not be as obviously well-recorded as my sister’s, but it’s still made it’s mark and left rainbow-coloured suitcases under my eyes. I look forward to a time where I’m not dragging myself to work, where I feel up to cooking, where I can imagine going anywhere non-urgent, for pleasure, instead of curling up on my sofa. Where watching the fish is something I do between activities instead of the main attraction. Where washing my hair isn’t a hassle and going shopping is something I can be excited about.

That’s a vision for a future in which I am slightly more alive than I am now. The future beyond that will hopefully be even better, I just can’t picture it yet.

Baby steps.

And sleep.

Lots of sleep.

On days without news

Usually, the radio goes on when my colleague gets to work, and goes off when I leave. He can’t stand adverts, so we listen to ‘Deutschland Radio’ and ‘Deutschland Radio Kultur’  which generally makes for a good mixture of news and interesting information about a huge range of topics. Anything from book reviews to current scientific research to new films to phone-ins about illnesses to the latest in-depth reports about bombings or shootings or fires or whatever’s going on in the world, generally including interviews with multiple important, knowledgeable people.

Usually, I quite enjoy the mixture. There are obviously topics I’m not that interested in, but none of the programs run longer than 90 minutes, lots of them only 10 minutes or so.

Usually, we talk about what we’ve heard. I have a million background questions, and my colleague has a lot of excess knowledge.

This week, I am alone in the workshop.

I haven’t turned the radio on once. I’m playing CDs and enjoying letting my thoughts do their own thing, rather than be directed by the radio. Enya doesn’t have lyrics you need to listen to, sometimes not even any you can listen to accidentally. For someone who generally pays more attention to lyrics than the music, it’s quite nice to tune them out. To tune out all the words. There are so many words. All the time. The world is full of words.

When I think about it, it’s weird not knowing what’s happening, but on balance, I don’t miss the constant input.

At least this week.

Next week my colleague comes back, and the radio will go back on.

In the meantime, I’m going to sail away from it all.

🙂

On finding the cage door

Postcard:
“Take the time to do the things that make you happy”

I picked up this postcard because of the message in the middle. I didn’t notice (don’t ask me how) that it was covered with pictures of keys and an open cage.

I am one step closer to opening my own cage, so it seems appropriate.

On not being a sword

I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat on the edge while she waved her hands about.

“…your body wants to flow, you see,” she said, “it’s being held in place at the moment, but it isn’t happy. That’s why you have so many stressed and tightened muscles. You’re more like water. Water’s powerful, but it’s not a sword. You aren’t a sword….”

I expect she had more to say, my osteopath, but I don’t remember what; I was trying to work out what to do with those ideas.

***

Since then, my thoughts keep wandering back to the image of water trying to fight like a sword, or trying to be a sword.

***

The way I see it, water tends to flow round or over the things that get in its way. It doesn’t fight everything, at least not immediately. I have the feeling that when it does fight, water tends to fight more slowly than swords do.

It’s not weak though, even if it is slow. All the ravines and canyons, all the hilly landscapes, all the washed-away sea breakers and man-made constructs, all the round stones on the riverbed/at the beach, prove that. And the amazing lack of unrounded shards of glass on the beach show that it doesn’t always take as much time as one thinks.

The rain falls drop by drop. Even tsunamis and floods take their time to build up to the finale. But when they go, they go. When they’re ready, they make themselves known, often with catastrophic results.

There are very few ways to permanently keep water from going where it wants to go. Dams break, pipes burst, riverbanks overflow, the tide comes in, regardless who commands it to stay away.

Pretty much eveything natural shows how much water can achieve, given enough time. Not only in big crashy ways, but also in small, hidden ways.

All things need water. Nothing survives long without water. In fact, there’d be no life at all without water. The whole planet only exists the way it does because there’s water on it. The blue planet. our blue planet. The only one I want to live on, even if they reckon they’ve found another 10 out there in space. (But I digress)

Swords, on the other hand, aren’t known for their life-giving properties. l suspect lots of people could imagine the benefits of the public still having swords and swordfights but I don’t know anyone who can’t live without one.

***

When someone tells me I’m not something, I immediately wonder why not, and whether they meant that in a good way (or not), and whether they were hoping I was or are happy that I’m not, and whether I was aiming to be that thing at all and whether I should have been…. (etc etc etc ad infinitum).

In this case, after quite a lot of thought, I think I’m pleased to not be a sword. And if I’m not a sword, water’s not a bad thing to be instead.

🙂

On ice cream and no spoon

My younger self spent many (MANY) hours sitting on benches in various parks and town squares, eating icecream. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends, sometimes (and probably most often) with my siblings.

This was such a common occurrence, that we each kept an emergency spoon in our bags or wallets.

Yesterday I found myself alone in a new town, with a couple of hours to kill. It was incredibly warm, I had my luggage with me so I couldn’t do much easy sight seeing,  and to be honest, I really couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere or do anything. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to spend time doing.

On the other hand, I hadn’t drunk anything since early in the morning, and dehydration isn’t fun. 

I walked from the train station to the nearest supermarket and looked at all the ice creams on offer. Then I remembered that I no longer carry my spoon with me.

It’s been years since I had opportunity to use it… That was extraordinarily upsetting. I don’t know how I let such an integral part of my identity slide so far without even realising it.

In the end, I bought a packet of mini-milks. They have wooden sticks and taste like walking home from school as a little kid.

That was an adequate substitute, but I intend to find my spoon when I get back, and put it back in its rightful place in my purse.

🙂

On hurting people without meaning to

I’ve just been jolted out of an uneasy sleep in an uncomfortable aircraft seat by a food trolley. The absent minded trolley pusher rammed the trolley into my knee. I can only imagine it wasn’t intentional, so I can’t really be cross, even if it a) hurt, and b) woke me up. 

It seems like a good day for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

DB bashed me with my suitcase as he lifted it out of the car. The guy behind me at security bashed me with his tray while trying to juggle with it, his paperwork, a phone and his bag. A lady bashed me with her bag when she turned round waiting for boarding. 

I don’t much appreciate being bashed, yet none of those bashes were on purpose. No one set out to hurt me, they just did, without realising until afterwards, or in the case of the lady, not at all. And they all apologised (except the lady).

I wonder how many more times people will bash me before I get to my brother’s house. I wonder how many times it’ll take before I actually get cross with the basher.

I wonder how much I hurt people by mistake, just by living, just by going about my day. I wonder how many people I hurt without even realising it. Not just by wielding my suitcase carelessly, but also with my words, my choices, my actions. I wonder how many of those people never say anything, how many wait until they’re really mad at the world in general to snap and say something, or yell something.

On therapy

The first session starts in 14 minutes.

I feel totally unprepared, but I hope it won’t matter.

I am also quite sweaty, which is worse than unprepared. The 18 degrees they promised us this morning when I put jeans on, have turned into at least 25, probably closer to 28, and the leisurely walk  I meant to have via the bank to the station, turned into a rush to get there before being late, and included locking my card because I couldn’t remember the pin number.

The reason I was rushing in the first place, is that I couldn’t work out how to get the printer to print my health and illness history onto a single page of A4 (or 2) as opposed to spread over 9.
Theoretically, I could have written it on paper, by hand. Or into word, where I can see the edges of the paper. Instead, I wanted to use excel. Theoretically, even that would have been a good idea, if properly executed. Which it wasn’t.

Instead, it was fussed over, in tremendous detail, until I realised I had to leave a couple of minutes ago, then rushed, without formatting or spellchecking, to get it at least printed, in whatever form possible. 

I am trying, by way of writing this out, to bring myself back out of panic mode, and into, ‘try and get a grip’ mode.

If not quite succeeding counts as preparation for therapy, then I guess I am prepared after all….
Wish me luck, or good questions, or whatever you feel is appropriate…

On cheering on v. cheering up

Kate asked me earlier if I would prefer a partner who would cheer me up when I was down, or one who would cheer me on when I was doing well. (Or at least words to that effect).

I was at work, and a bit distracted, but I automatically said, “both”, followed a little while later by, “but if I had to choose, then one who can cheer me up”.

Now, on the train home from work, I wonder why I chose that.

I think, although I’m not sure, that I can find other people to cheer me on when things are working well.

On a good day, I can even cheer myself on.

On a bad day, I am mostly incapable of seeing or thinking enough good things to bring me back up to neutral, never mind to happy. I’m a determinedly independent climber, so I don’t often ask for help to get out of my hole. When I do, it’s generally because it’s got really really deep, so deep I can hardly see the sky, and have started forgetting that there’s life outside the hole. That’s quite late to ask, and the climb is a long one. Much longer than necessary.

If my partner could do his magic on my mood every time it started digging, I could probably do the rest.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Maybe I’m not actually that good at cheering myself on.

Maybe, if I had a personal cheerleader, I wouldn’t feel the need to dig in the first place. 

I think I’ll stick with both. That covers most, if not all eventualities.

🙂

Good question though.

On why I think life is more like a pinball machine than a roller coaster

Choice.
Decisions. 
Ability to choose. 
At least some things. 
Sometimes.

***

As much as I hate to admit it, I quite like Ronan Keating’s “Life is a roller coaster” song. I don’t agree with him though. I think it’s more like a pinball machine.

***

Until a couple of weeks ago, I’d only ever played pinball on the computer, or on a board so old it actually had pins (=nails) in.

Then I went to a national pinball convention. I lost track of how many different machines I played on/with, but it was “many”.

I even had a go at the “classic” tournament. Classic because it features older machines. I wasn’t very good, but I also wasn’t the very worst (by quite a long way), so I was chuffed, considering that it was my very tournament on my very first day of practise.

Anyway.

On a roller coaster, you get into your seat at the beginning and “just have to ride it” until you get off at the other end. You have absolutely no control over what happens in between. Okay, you can control some of your reaction. You can probably choose to scream or throw your hands in the air or close your eyes….or not. You probably can’t choose whether or not to throw up afterwards. You certainly can’t choose the direction or when to stop or change speed.

Pinball is different.

Granted, there is a lot of chance involved, (pinball machines were even banned in the past because they were considered purely based on luck), and there are things you can’t control, like what the bumpers do when you hit them, what lights up when you go past, what the noises sound like, how many points you get for various sequences.

On the other hand, because you control the flippers, there’s also a lot of input potential. You have to choose to do something with that potential, and it helps to have the skill to achieve the desired effect (like getting the ball to go up the ramp or into one of the holes), but it’s there. If you don’t do anything, the ball does its thing briefly, then falls through the gap between the flippers and you die.
If you do manage to catch/hit the ball, you prolong that life. That gives you the next chance and the next and the next.

Sometimes, reaching a certain number of points, or activating certain areas creates something like a safety net. Even if you would normally die, you don’t, you get a new ball instead and can carry on playing. Even if you don’t achieve those bonus lives, you still have 2 further chances, or 4 depending on the machine. You can aim for things, learn what happens if you hit and if you miss. Sometimes you aim for the ramp and land in a hole. Sometimes landing in the hole is bad, sometimes it takes you to a different level where you unlock new possibilities. Sometimes you can die on that level, sometimes it catapults you back onto the first level with new energy and extra points, lives or abilities. Sometimes, regardless of skill and determination, the ball will suddenly take up nosediving and head down between the flippers without any warning, and with no chance to stop it.

Occasionally you get into a ‘Dauerschleife’, a routine of going round and round and round the same route: Flipper, bumper, bumper, light, flipper, bumper, bumper, light. To get out, you have to change something. Anything. Different angle, different strength, different timing. Sometimes that’s risky, sometimes it just feels risky. Sometimes the new ‘route’ is chaotic, sometimes it leads to a new Dauerschleife, sometimes it’s not exactly chaotic, but is continuously changing. That’s the most common. Change.

Occasionally, doing the same thing twice results in different outcomes, depending on what you did previously.

Occasionally you get bonus balls to be played at the same time, each whizzing round the board on its own mission, forcing you to split your concentration or risk losing both.

Talking of missions, some boards have a story line, a list of things to do, or collect, or hit. Some are less structured, preferring to offer differing musical notes, like a bell tower, or multiple colours – a kaleidoscope* of rainbow lights.

If you watch other people playing, you see an array of different styles and attitudes. Some tighten their muscles, stand gripping the edges of the machine, hoping somehow they can influence the course of the ball, or the reaction of the bumpers, with their tension. Others are relaxed, hardly concentrating, at least not noticeably. Some players laugh with the players next to them, some ignore everything around them. Some try to rock the machine, nudging it just enough to minimally change the angles of the board, the bumpers, the rebound, and steer the ball where they want it to go. Ohers go crazy, yelling and screaming and whooping and jumping…or kicking the machine.

In the end, no matter how you play, every ball ends up back in the box. Some live short intensive lives, some live long boring lives. The rest lead their lives somewhere in between. 

Every player dies eventually. Some just live longer, or more happily, or more excitingly than others.

***

I figure life is more like a pinball machine than a roller coaster. What do you think? What would you compare life to instead?

*collide-oscope?

On stepping stones

Stepping stones.

Millions of stepping stones.

And even more millions of litres of river.

Some of the stones aren’t really stones at all. Some are slippery. Some are tiny, some are close together but most aren’t. The ones that are, generally don’t lead across the river, just along the middle.

It might be deep, it might not be, it’s too frothy to tell.
(Wrote this last week. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t finished, but I’m not sure where I wanted to go with it, so I’m posting it as is.)