Monday 30 December 2013

Goodbye 2013. It's been…

Ah, 2013. The year I turned 40. The year that saw too many good people leave us. The year that tried to beat me, but failed. In your face 2013. The year that saw my work in print, a more consistent work ethic, and the very real possibility that I am a writer. Good shit.

I didn’t think turning 40 mattered much. It doesn’t, not in the grand scheme of things, but it mattered more to me than I’d thought it would. It gave me perspective (“HOLY FUCK! HOW AM I STILL ALIVE LET ALONE 40! WELL DONE ME!”), which is a good thing, trust me.  A lot of the pointless bollocks that endlessly haunts me seemed to disappear into the ether (not all of it but, hey, all improvements are welcome) and I remembered that I am, in fact, a kickass motherfucker with no time for bullshit, bitches. Depression really gave its best shot at throwing my shit off but it failed. Bite me, mental shitdickery. This has been one of the roughest years in that respect for a long time, I’d maybe even throw an “intense” in there. That said, I WON! While I may have wallowed at times – sometimes it’s so tiring that you have to, mending takes time – I’ve worked, seen shit through and achieved stuff. Actual STUFF. It may not be the stuff of legend but from the tiny acorn the mighty oak doth grow, my friends. I’ve been published (by the fabulous Fox Spirit, I’ve read my work in public (check it out right here, I’ve travelled on my own without getting myself into a state about it, I've got a website and business cards (see the former here and I’ve refused to let the monkey on my back suck the joy out of it all. Fuck you, monkey. You might think you’re clever coming back with a vengeance this year but I’M SPARTACUS! Anxiety, I’ve sorted you out too. Magnesium and B6 is the bomb. Try it if that old bellyaching gobshite, Mr A, visits you regularly. From someone who’s dealt with him since she was eight years old, it’s a fricking Christmas miracle. A big thank you to my dearest Amy, who has always been there when I needed an ear. She is the best sister I could have acquired for myself and I love her without condition. 

My friends, Adele and Kate (the Captain and the Prof) have helped to keep me afloat with their belief and encouragement. I can’t thank either of them enough for being as excellent as they are and for being my friends. I love them both more than they'll ever know. To all the Skulk, some I met in Derby and others through FB, you rock it hard. And they will know us by the trail of our dead. 

I became an Auntie this year (a natural Auntie, I already have two nieces and a nephew on Mr Y’s side,  plus my Amy's sweeties who might as well be my blood, who are all totally splendid themselves) and I can’t lie – Austin Otis van de Peer is BEAUTIFUL! I’m a very proud Auntie. I'm excited to see how he turns out. (Although I'm sorry that of all the things he could have inherited from me, he inherited the larynx problem.)

Mr Y and I have been together for 21 years this year and I love him more now than ever – no cliché bullshit either, I do. He’s got a patient streak 8 fathoms deep and his habit of being oblivious actually works in my favour the majority of the time. I don’t want complicated, I don’t want arrogant ponce, I want exactly what I’ve got – laidback and most excellent. Plus he is still as foxy as fuck!

2014. I’d wonder what’s in store, but that’s a waste of time because it’s coming no matter what. I’m just going to dust myself down, stop fondling my balls and, like the Prof says, BE AUDACIOUS – because there’s no time to do anything else. No time for fear or for uncertainty. Balls out, baby, balls fricking OUT! RARRRRRR!

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Love and passion. A ramble.

I read the vaccuous headlines so I deserve the eyeball strain. But since when did "passionate" become a synonym for "argue all the time", especially when you know it's nothing to do with passion and everything to do with YOU SHOULDN'T BE TOGETHER? Passion seems to have been accepted as a good excuse for dysfunction when it comes to relationships. Can't those of us who live together on a pretty even keel be passionate? I 'd chase Mr Y à la Benny Hill all day long if he didn't have to go to work. Because we don't fight, there's not passion? 

I've read that back. What the heck am I talking about? Passion has been used as a flattering cover to excuse excessive shitdickery since time immemorial in both life and fiction. Look at that bastard Heathcliff. People swoon over him left, right, and centre when the fact is the character is an EPIC ballbag (all right, I'm not surprised he turned out to be fucked up considering his childhood, but come on! Really? Romantic hero? Broody spiteful ball sac, more like) And Cathy wasn't any better. I spent much of the last time I read Wuthering Heights muttering crossly to myself about the bloody idiot behaviour of two people who were more aberrantly dependent on the memory of each other than in love. Literature is full of fools who regret their massive arsery later, but indulge themselves in it without a second thought. Is that the human condition? It is, isn't it? We baste ourselves in our stupid, pigeon-eyed reactions and wonder why things turn to excrement. We think the highs and lows of love are what make it special, what make it count. If it's not turbulent, it's not worth it. 

What utter bollocks.

Love, true love, whatever you want to call it, is about a bond. A connection that isn't tenuous, but is as solid as a double decker bus. I only have to look at Mr Y and I feel an intensity that I can’t verbalise. He can be on the other side of a packed bar and I'll still feel it. He could be on the other side of the ocean and I'd still feel it. Time and distance don't change it, it just is. It's not about that old Buddhist bugbear, attachment - which is why I fear many people keep their disintegrating relationships alive. I can understand it. There have been times in our relationship - which is nearly 21 years old - when I've felt utterly lost, but you keep on keeping on, y'know? You work through the hard times and learn your lessons and a little more about each other, not to mention yourself. It doesn't mean yelling and screaming the same old petty abuses at each other ad infinitum, picking the scabs, getting nowhere, then indulging in some hot monkey sex that's really an excuse not to take a good hard look at yourselves. That's not love. That's demented. Like Albert Einstein once said "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Quite so, old boy - and he knew a thing or two about the old love squeezings ... wait, I’ve gone wrong and we’ve ended up back with Benny Hill. 

I don't know if love can last a life time. How would I know? I've not finished mine yet (touch wood). I hope it does though, because frankly I lucked out like a motherlicker the day I met Mr Y. What I'm saying is don't let them fool you. You don’t lack passion because you’re not haranguing each other all the time. It's not boring because you're not humping each other like dogs on heat every five minutes. If you're not taking lumps out of each other, it doesn't mean you're not in love. The perma-tanned airheads (of both sexes) who parade their "passionate" relationships up and down the side bars of tabloid websites aren't good examples. Passion does not trump good behaviour. If you love someone, you behave well towards them (most of the time, but because they love you it's okay when you sometimes don't) Stop and smell the roses. If it's not making you happy, and I mean long term happy, not "he didn't put the loo seat down and the toilet has that green mist again, I'm leaving" term happy, dump that shit and run. Life's too fucking short. 

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Scales of Depression

To say I'm despondent today is a fucking understatement. I weighed myself. Stupid stupid stupid. I had a naughty weekend filled with carbs and alcohol and I knew I'd put weight on. I was pretty strict yesterday and wasn't going to hit the scales until the end of the week. Like a kneejerk ballbag, I found myself stepping on them this morning when I distinctly said I wouldn't. I've put on more weight since the weekend.

Now I feel stuck (Common sense has no place here). I feel like I'm going to be trapped here forever, one step short of the Good Year blimp. I can't explain how fucking depressing it is. All that effort last week? I lost 2lbs. 2 fucking pounds. And now this. The week before that when I exercised 3 or 4 times and ate chips 3 or 4 times, I lost 8lbs. Explain that to me! No, don't. I don't need explanations, I don't need platitudes, I need to keep going. I also need not to weigh myself. No more scales. They are self-righteous bitch queens and they're tyranny must be ended.

None of this is helping the fact that my Depression's reared its ugly mug. Nothing like the classic Chloë meltdowns of 01 or 94, but a bout of hopelessness that, weeks long already, just won't bloody shift. It's like a worm that's chowing down on the apple of my mind and plopping out big nuggets of bleakness. The only things keeping me going right now are Mr Y, Miss Maudie, running and writing ... but you know, when I write that down, I've got to say I'm pretty fucking lucky to have those things. That's how I know I'm winning. I can see so much more clearly these days. I used to be Depression's bitch. I can't say I never will be again but for now I can say I know what to do with him when he trots along all proprietary and shit. I know when he's arrived (there's nothing worse than him suddenly hitting you in the chops, like a misery ninja) so I can face him down like Gary Cooper. It's just very tiring. Some days I feel old beyond my years, worn down by the cycle.

These days, however, I understand there are differences in the manifestations of my Depression. There are differences in me too. Sometimes, it needs swinging at. I need to get angry at its tenure in my brain pan; not that morbid anger that just feeds the little fucker, but a righteous determination that drives me to find expression and makes me stronger. I have to refuse to give in to it. On the other hand, there are times when I have to give in, but under controlled conditions. I have to sit down and take stock and let it flow through me.  I allow it. It's a part of me that may never leave. So I air it sometimes. Let it breathe and say its name. If I stifle it, it just gets stronger. If I'm not afraid of it, it can't beat me ("you have no power here, begone") Then I get back up and get on with living. And that's the biggest difference of all.

Wednesday 29 May 2013


I always swore that if I lost weight I wouldn't be one of those yo-yo dieters, that I wouldn't engage in the dreary old to and fro. Seeing as I don't actually follow a diet per se, I guess I'm not, but I put one and a half stone back on after losing 8 (and still having 3 or 4 to go) and I've been going up and down within that same 1.5 for about 10 months now. DULL! DULL! DULL!

I've been dabbling here and there with a run now and again, a bit of a walk here, some weights there, a dash of yoga to act for the cherry on top, and not committing to anything at all, especially not my health, fooling myself into believing I was still keeping myself fit. I've eaten more falafels and chips than anyone has a right to (although I think by law everyone should have at least two a week ... which probably explains a lot) and drunk enough booze to sink the Titanic (my backside would stand in for the iceberg)

It's time to pack it in.

I can't kid myself anymore. I'm approaching 40 and shit gets harder to shift as we get older. I'm not happy with it so I have to do something about it. Thusly, I am officially on the wagon for the next six weeks. I'm going to run at least once a day, add a proper weight regime to it so I can at least try to avoid too much saggy old skin, and learn a bit more yoga to add to my sun salutations. I'm not going to drink sugary drinks, eat any white processed carbs, and I'm going to remember why I enjoyed losing the weight in the first place. It wasn't because I wanted (or still want) to be Miss Skinny Minnie or wear a size 10 pair of jeans. I enjoyed losing the weight because I regained control of myself. I didn't look in the mirror and see an imminent heart attack staring back at me (that distinctive colour grey is one of the scariest things I've ever had the misfortune to see) and my brain works better. Much better. So much better. I can think straight and productively. My mental health improves beyond measure. It works for me and that's what matters. Until that bitch queen Self-Sabotage Chlo rears her mingey old head and whispers, oh so softly, "Nah, let's stay in bed. You can do that later. You're back hurts and your legs ache, have a little more sleepy" or "It's just one big fat greasy portion of lard, it won't hurt you, it'll make you feel better".

But it doesn't. SO THIS TIME I SAY NO TO THE S.S. CHLO! In your face, greedy boxes.

Let's go.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

500 Words

I'm writing a novella. Or it might be a novel. It's all very "whatever happens happens". So, let me tell you what's happening - the glacial formation of sentences. GLACIAL. They're slipping out of my noggin like a spelunker stuck in a crevasse. 500 words today. 500 - now that's 200 more than Gerard Butler got playing Monopoly (I might mean Thermopylae, I'm all about the rhymes just like Ice T) so I'm not going to sniff at it because it's better than my brains dashed across the screen, but they've made my teeth ache and my back sore. I've also finally realised that my sketchy premise for how a character gets somewhere was ... well, it put the rhu in rhubarb, and for three hours today I sat and stared at my yellow legal pad and thought about how much of it I would have to ingest before I had a vision that would deliver me the solution ...

I didn't eat it. I'm fine. I did have an idea though. I'm going to take the hack out of hackneyed and use it like a bigot uses nonsense to prove their point - unashamedly. Because how she gets there doesn't really matter, it just has to not sound like total arse. That's progress and as long as I'm getting that shitty first draft down (thanks to the Prof for recommending Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird - it's already kicked my sorry grey matter into a higher gear) that's what matters.

So here's to 500 more today.

Monday 25 March 2013

Gender: Drug of choice?

I've been reading a certain author's work for years, at least since the late nineties. I love her writing. It challenges and transports me in ways that are so very singularly hers. No one else does what she does. She has a way of trapping you in the story before you even know where you are and keeping you there until she's done with you. You're not always sure what's happening because you go on the journey along with her characters - and they're not always the most reliable of witnesses. All of her characters are well-considered and written, but she writes female characters with a deftness of touch and understanding that I have always admired immensely.

Today I learned she is transgendered. I had absolutely no idea. It has never crossed my mind that she is anything other than a woman. And that's because she isn't. She is, was, and always will be a woman. That's who she is. The fact that I had no idea shows you just how little relevance the body you're born into has on who you are. For me, she is an exemplar of women's writing and the fact of her being transgendered changes that opinion not one whit.

The Richard Littlejohn piece in the Daily Mail that singled out and bullied Lucy Meadows, a woman who had courageously stood her ground and lived her truth, shows you just how achingly archaic the mind-set of some parts of society still are. Lucy was driven to suicide because of who she was. That is more wrong than mere words can ever express. We need to be teaching younger generations acceptance not aggression in the face of difference. The conformity writers like George Orwell warned us about should be feared, not encouraged. Gender constructs are the drug of a world that should be moving forward. Gender is an anachronistic tool for keeping the unruly masses in check. It's holding us back when it simply doesn't matter any more.

It takes all sorts to make a world.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Rape. Whatever.

The Steubenville rape case passed me by and I only came across it because of the outpouring of vitriol for the girl involved and the support for the "poor" boys whose golden futures have been ruined because of them being prosecuted for rape and all. Aw, those "poor" boys, they could have played in the NFL rather than being raping scum shitwads who were made to answer for their crimes.

According to some well-meaning types, in this case it was totally the victim's fault because she was drinking. In fact, she herself should be charged with underage drinking and held to account. When I say "well-meaning" I obviously mean raging fucking dickbags with the moral compass of a shitty arsehole. I just hope nothing happens to any of them while they're having a drink because, from what they say, drinking alcohol means you relinquish all standard human rights.  How many of us are asking to be mugged on the street after a night on the sauce? Shouldn't we all get beaten up and told we're trash because, after all, we were drinking? When you see someone being kicked to death in the street and you realise they've been drinking alcohol, make sure you film it, YouTube that shit, and golf clap as the victim's death rattle shimmers in the night air. If it's your boyfriend, so what? He fucking deserved it, being so drunk and shit.

When will people get it? It doesn't matter how drunk a girl is, a man's penis doesn't get sucked up into some irresistible slutty vortex of alcoholic indulgence she has created. He puts - or rather, shoves - it there because he wants to. In that instance, he is the one with the choice. She might be drunk, but her alcoholic consumption doesn't grab him by the balls and make him do it. He does it of his own free will, unlike his victim who has her's taken from her. What about her life? What about her future? It will never be the same, she can never go back, do over. Rape stays with the victim forever, one way or another. She has already paid for his crime. She will carry on paying for it for the rest of her life.

Friday 1 March 2013

In Which I Talk About Self-Harm *trigger warning*

I might be the only person (who wasn't a troll) to have provoked censure from a self-harm forum. For a while, when my shit got really bad, I burned myself with a certain kind of liquid. It prolonged the pain and left a "better" wound than cutting. Literally no one understood - fuck, why would they? Nevertheless, there I was, sitting at the computer, not wanting to go down that path again, wanting desperately for someone to tell me ... something, something that would make more sense. I wanted acceptance at least. All I got was virtual open mouths and quite a few WTFs?! It didn't help. Every one has their limit, it would seem.

Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. Self Injury or Harm is one of those things that people find almost impossible to understand. You hear it and think "save us from one more teen angst attention dramz" or  you might be all "That shit be crazy. Why would anyone do that?". Indeed, that last is an excellent question.

Why the fuck would anyone do it? Let me tell you why I did it.

I'm a self-harmer (you got that, right?), although I haven't self-harmed for a long time now, many years in fact. There was a time when it was the only way that I had to cope with simply being me. What was worse was that although I had been a perennial picker of scabs etc as a child and self-harmed on and off during adolescence, I developed into a major league SH'er in my twenties. I know, right? Get your fucking shit together, loser. Who does that?

A lot of people. They just don't talk about it. Because of shame.

Well, I'm not ashamed. Shame can fuck right off. It’s not a useful emotion and I want no part of it. As Augusten Burroughs says in his book This Is How,

         “Shame is the landfill emotion. It’s not organic, like joy. It was dumped there by somebody else.
         A manipulation.
         Shame is very heavy, dense disappointment; somebody else’s in you.
         Inside of disappointment is a deeper judgement: Less than. Inferior. Defective.
         …  Shame can lead to a shitload of problems.”

So fuck that shit. For various reasons, I had a tough time, mentally, for a very long time. Self-harming got me through a lot of it, as bizarre as that may sound to you. It got me through because in the cacophony of self-hatred, paranoia and confusion that I experienced for so long, it was the one thing that made me certain about what I felt. When you're lost in Dorothy's twister with no land in sight, you hang onto the one thing that makes sense. For me that was pain and the mark that followed. I knew what that was. I could deal with that. Easy peasy.

It's not about suicide, although I did try that too but not at the times I was self-harming. Self harm is very different from suicide. It might seem similarly self-destructive, but SH is about wanting to be alive, not wanting to end it all. It was a way to manage the blaring racket inside me, to control my pain, to make sense of things. I wanted to feel something, to know that I felt it and to decide when I felt it.

I would never suggest it as a form of therapy. I would a) truly hope that no one ever felt even a tenth of what I felt, b) but if they did their family and friends would see it and give them the support they need rather than ignoring or admonishing them or c) that they themselves find another way out of the spiral. 

Do not treat Self Harm as the problem. It is a symptom. Casting the shadow of shame on it because you don’t understand how someone could do that to themselves is a bullshit move. If you care about someone, be there for them. I know it's hard, but sometimes simply taking the next breath is hard. Believing you're not worth the effort of taking the next breath is hard. If you don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or can be fixed with that good old maxim “sort yourself out”. That shit does not work. DOES. NOT. WORK. Self-harm happens because other shit is kicking the self-harmer’s arse and while you might not stop it, you can at least do them a solid by not ignoring them and not judging them. Because you care, right? So your squeamishness about the harm they do themselves can be contained. You never know, just not being a dick about it might be enough to make them stop. They’ll know they’re not alone, that although they might not be understood, they’re not lost in that dark vortex of self; that they have a strand of red in the labyrinth. Sometimes that’s enough. Sometimes it isn’t. But you’ll never know if you don’t quell the urge to ignore it.

Of course, they won’t want to talk about it. I never did. Patience and acceptance worked for me. Both mine and that of my lifeline. I've been enormously lucky. It wasn’t easy. It can become addictive – what shit that makes you feel better, if only for a moment, can’t? But I stopped. I don’t say I don’t ever think about it, but I don’t do it. It’s not my first port of call. I have control without it now. More than anything, however, I learned not to be ashamed. 

Shame. What a useless ballbag of an emotion. So fuck it.

Sunday 17 February 2013

A Short Treatise on the Ballery of Others

Sometimes people are balls. The trick is, I guess, to understand that this does not make you balls and that their ballery is their own concern. Also, expecting them to not be balls just because you can see that they are, in fact, balls or calling them out on the aforementioned ballery because they apparently cannot see it themselves is not necessarily going to reduce their level of being balls. Making your point is just going to wash away in their scrotal sac tide of ballery and you'll get heartburn. Which is balls. So think to yourself, I feel bad for your epic balls-ness but fuck it I'm not going to be balls about this ballery myself. I'm not going to "rise above it" or any of that shitdickery, I'm just going to worry about my own balls and maybe polish them so they're shiny and not clammy and sad like yours.

Break free from the ballery of others. Be in touch with your own balls.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Silver Linings ...

Don't get me wrong. I quite enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook. However, something about it left me cold. A lot about it. Maybe it was the utter lack of chemistry between the leads. Lawrence had more chemistry with Chris Tucker in their brief dancing bits and Cooper had more chemistry with his bed.

Don't actors learn to act with their eyes anymore? Both Cooper and Lawrence pulled the faces but I didn't feel the emotions coming from inside them. Does that make sense? Probably not, but against something of a masterclass from Robert De Niro and, particularly, Jacki Weaver as Cooper's parents it made for a somewhat hesitant watch.

It's a "dram-rom-com" that tries to suggest we're all a bit crazy, ho ho ho, but we can still love and be loved, we just have to move forward, face the truth (whatever the fuck that is) and take responsibility. It has moments of sweetness and "truth" (mainly in the medium of the uncensored - because they're crazy y'all - protagonists asking and revealing to each other crazy bald facts about their crazy lives)   but something about it fell short and flat. I certainly have to wonder about the calibre of other performances in the main acting Oscar categories if these two are being jizzed over in the press.

That said, they're not awful, far from it. They're quite engaging, and Lawrence tries really hard to be a grown up, it just comes across that she's "trying" rather than "being". I do think she's going to get better as she gets older. By the time she's Weaver's age she may well have acquired those righteous acting chops too. Cooper was better than a plank of wood (his usual M.O. which is often to do with the films he chooses - no one does Face like Dirk Benedict, bitches*) He's eloquently hyper but his swift turnaround from manic instability to calm realisation didn't work for me. That said, enlightenment can sometimes hit you like a freight train, even if you're all crazy and shit. So okay, I thought, I can swallow that ... but then his dead eyes drained my remaining sympathy like a catheter. Come on man.

I want to say good things about this film but, if I'm honest, I found it bordering on patronising wankfest (and not in the fuzzy tingle times way). I'd say something cavalier about better performances or maybe casting for the leads saving the day ... but the saccharine yackydah of the convenient ending you can see coming a mile away - while potentially satisfying for the rom-com crowd - pinches my ball sac.

5/10 - for Weaver, DeNiro and Tucker.

*That fucking A-Team film. Have people no goddamned shame?