Marlene Dietrich

Never wanted to, what am I to do, I can’t help it. (Please insert faux German accent).

But I did, I fell in love again with my Husband, sick bags at the ready…

I didn’t even know I’d fallen out of love. Clearly over the last few years I had.  As the years go by you get lazy, emotionally lazy. “I Love you” becomes a slogan like “Have a nice day” or “Do you want fries with that”. (We’ve just booked a late honeymoon to the states, so forgive my rather crude Americanism).

You can forget, take love for granted and absorb it into the landscape of your life.

However just lately my husband’s actions reminded me, in rather a spectacular fashion, why we fell in love in the first place.

We’ve been under attack. I don’t mean that lightly or in a glib fashion. We really have been the victims of extreme prejudice, racism, homophobia and general shittery that has sent me on a downward spiral.

The perpetrator likes to write letters. Lots of letters. Nasty, offensive and threatening.

We know this person. A lot of people know this person and not in a good way. It’s safe to say he must be in a lot of pain and suffering to share it around so generously.

It got to the point on a Saturday morning were I would wake up in fear and dread as to what was going to land through the letterbox. I would visibly shake with anger and fear in anticipation of the next poisonous piece of post. He timed the communication just to ruin our week(end).

This is not good for my health, mentally or physically. I’m due my second brain op in a few months and my blood pressure has been soaring. My Migraines have tripled. That’s three a month and they tend to last two to three days at a time. My life has been painfully interrupted.

Now, under normal circumstances I am a calm and rational person. (Who am I kidding?).  It takes a lot to rile me up and get me to a state where it’s affecting my health.  I don’t know if it was the delivery of the nastiness that tipped me over the edge.  In letter form it enters  your home, your safe place, without your permission. The anger and unpleasantness is pushed into your abode and lies there like a shit packed grenade waiting for you to detonate.

Cue Husband. Enough was enough.

The first thing he does is ban me from reading the letters. He takes away the source of the worry and anxiety.  Then he calls the perpetrator and taking a cue from the assailant, tells him in the most assertive way possible within the boundaries of the law, to fuck off.

Next he calls the police. They are surprised we haven’t contacted them sooner.

Then he calls our lawyer. They are surprised we haven’t contacted them sooner.

He won’t inform me of any of the details. He keeps every single shred of nonsense out of my earshot.

Iv’e had to learn to let go. He’s had to teach me how to let go.

I think I was screaming inside for weeks, but he say’s it was the moment he saw me one Saturday morning, weeping whilst brushing my teeth, that spurred him into action. Go figure.

So he stepped up to the plate. He’s invented a new plate, a giant don’t fuck with me plate that has shielded me from everything.

We don’t court trouble. We love a simple and streamlined life. We’re good people or at least we try. We’ve worked hard to have the life that we have. (Cue Violins). Neither of us are from privileged backgrounds so it’s always been an uphill battle. One we thought we were winning.

And that’s just life isn’t it?

‘Sod’s law’ as they say. Just when you think you are winning  the universe sends you more lessons to learn – those curveball surprises that throw you out of synch and challenge you. I think it always will.

Well I was surprised or rather reminded that I am not alone. That I am incredibly lucky that I have someone who loves me enough to step in when I’m falling down.

I sleep easier, my migraines have settled down. I no longer have tears in my toothpaste (That really should the title of an Adele song).  I’m practising ‘mindfulness’ to the best of my ability and soldiering on.

So I have fallen back in  love with my husband and I will never, ever take that for granted.

Mind you, if he keeps eating my Pringles, it will be all over ..again.

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The absolute joy of not giving a crap.

It’s marvellous isn’t it. Getting older. That’s right, today, right at this minute I’m on the right side of my mid life crisis. I can see the benefits, not one moan, not one gripe shall litter this entry. Negativity is but a distant dream today.

So what’s put such a spring in my step?  15mg of  Mirtazapine.

Now if you had told me I’d be on chemical enhancements a couple of years ago I would have looked down my nose and fluttered my eyelids, the way Madonna does when she’s pissed off in an interview.

But shit got real a few weeks ago. Full on mini meltdown.

I was sitting in a meeting with some clients, they were discussing a new project. I start getting tired and angry for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Eventually all I can hear is “Blah-Blah-Blah”. Then suddenly I hear a voice, remarkably like my own, shout out “WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK!!”.

Just Awful.

These are good people. I’ve worked with them for so long I can categorise them as friends. Thank goodness. They all burst out laughing but I was horrified. Swearing is one of my favourite hobbies, but never have I ever swore in front of a client.

Afterwards I was having a coffee with the M.D. She was studying me, head cocked, her lips pursed as I struggled to make my lips reach my mug. I was shaking, couldn’t stop. She reached down into her Prada handbag (the one I helped pay for) and produced a bottle of pills. She unscrewed the lid and gently tipped a small white pill into the palm of her hand.

“What’s that?”, I asked.

“Valium”, she said.

She didn’t need to tell me twice. It didn’t even touch the sides.

“You sir”, she said, ‘Are Depressed”.

Was I? I didn’t feel sad.

Except when I thought about life. Or my work or my family, my marriage, the news, the state of the world, cooking dinner or how absolutely fucking tired I was due to the fact I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours at a time.

But apart from that I was absolutely fine.

O.K, so she had read me like the cheap blog I am. She ordered me to go see my Doctor.

I did, but not before consulting my husband. He’s old school, brought up in a tough Jamaican household. They never suffered with depression because they were always high. His words – not mine.

“How many years have I been telling you to chill out and calm the fuck down”.

Because that’s exactly what you need when your’e super stressed, to be told to calm down. I ran to the doctors before I ended up in handcuffs and a spit hood.

My Doctor is awful. That’s not a negative entry, it’s just fact. She doesn’t like the Gays.

My husband came with me to my last appointment and she kept referring to him as my “Friend”.  So I try to explain how Ive been feeling and she’s doing her best attempt at concern, patent Dr frown – check, glazed look of sympathy – check, the odd nod and chin stroke – check. She’s got that shit down to an art form. Then she gave me a form.

“Please fill this in and bring it back”.

Are you feeling suicidal? Do you feel worthless? Do you feel disconnected? etc, etc. Please answer on a scale of one to ten, ten being very likely, one being not at all. I put ten for every answer. I mean you have to do that sometimes, right? Ramp it up just to get heard.

Next thing I know Iv’e got these pills. One to be taken every night.

I’m sorry but there is no other way to say this – Fucking Marvellous.

First night, nothing. Second night, still nothing. This went on for a week. Then on the seventh night I slept like I have never slept before, 14 blissful hours.

I awoke, not unlike Snow White to the sound of chirping birds. I smiled in the morning, I actually fucking smiled. I said good morning to my husband, he looked like he’d just been shot.

I bounded in the shower and I bounded out again, not once did I glance in the mirror. Not once did I analyse my middle aged body for more signs of decay.

The veil of shadow that had suffocated my brain was ripped away and underneath was a shiny, new, happy me.

But was I? Wasn’t I just masking issues? I wasn’t sure, I didn’t have any issues anymore. Something felt phoney, artificial and of course, chemical.

I suggested stopping the medication.  My husband threatened to leave me if I did. He was joking, at least I think he was…anyway, I cut the dose down by half.

Slowly my darker thoughts began creeping back to the party. They snuck in the back door and mingled in the kitchen by the stale humous and half empty Rose bottles.

That’s when I discovered mindfulness.

Two Audio books, Eckhart Tolle – The power of now and Ruby Wax – A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled.  God bless the both of them.

Eckhart freaked me out a bit, he’s a wonderful human being but does sound a bit like a Bond Villain/ Peter Lorre. Ruby on the other hand was an absolute delight, firing off quips like bullets from a well oiled gun. Making me laugh and teaching at the same time.

I got it. Instantly. I understood the concept of neuro-plasticity, of training my brain to be better, happier and decluttered.  I cannot recommend these books highly enough, I think it should be taught in schools. It probably is in more progressive cultures, Sweden, they’re always one step ahead socially, I bet it’s standard practice there. (Although their suicide rates are a worry).

It’s an ongoing process, something I have to practice everyday but the results have been amazing.

Today I reached a milestone, a full week on just a quarter tablet. I’m hoping to be completely chemical free by the end of the month.

Absolutely life changing.

So in truth I do give a crap except now it’s just about the stuff that matters. Love, Life , Art and Staying sane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You want to try being a Woman.

I have this amazing friend, she’s an addiction. One of those charismatic people who makes you feel like the whole world has stopped whilst she is paying you attention.

We discuss about life and whatever crap has been thrown at each other that week.

She has a catchphrase, or rather Iv’e bestowed it upon her. Should you complain about racism or homophobia her instant answer is “You want to try being a Woman”.

Of course she is absolutely right.

What women endure globally on a day to day basis doesn’t bare thinking about, which is precisely why it should be thought about by everyone.

But I don’t necessarily feel that there’s a competition going on. I don’t feel that one plight negates another.

However, if there has to be a pecking order then I’m all in favour of women being top of the list. If we can’t treat over fifty percent of the population with love and respect, how the fuck are we expected to respect anyone else?

My friend’s catchphrase also got me thinking about it in a literal way.

Up until the age of five I didn’t realise I was a girl or a boy.

Oh sure I had male genitals but I didn’t think like other boys. It’s not that I was drawn to traditional feminine pursuits nor was I very enamoured by what little boys were supposed to playing with. You could throw me a G.I Joe (‘Action Man’ as he was called here in the UK) or a Barbie and I would have been equally as happy.

I had this neutrality about me.

Even at this young age I felt in the middle of gender roles.

I never felt like I fitted in with the boys and never felt completely at home with girls either.  So I acted, I learnt the art of role play at a young age in order not to be teased or bullied. I got a skateboard, which led to disco roller boots. I learned Judo whilst simultaneously attending Disco dance class, (Look it was the late seventies, Disco was everywhere).

I was, what my mum termed “a bit of a worry”. And boy did she worry.

But I embraced my little differences, I exuded confidence as a kid. (oh for an ounce of that these days!). I felt different, but in a good way. Girls liked having me around because I wasn’t threatening and boys liked having me around as a kind of gateway to the girls.

Growing up I had problems with my gender role ‘neutrality’. Women told me I was Gay long before I had come to that conclusion. They sensed something different in me and immediately went to the lowest common denominator – he’s gay.

I can remember as a nervous nineteen year old asking my last ever girlfriend, “When did she normally have sex?”. Just came straight out with it, it was our sixth date. She leant across to me, patted my knee and said “On date two, but don’t worry, your’e very..”, she struggled with the right term, “Polite”.

It was at that moment I realised I was gay, as gay as it gets.

But here’s the thing, that’s my sexuality, I’m into my own sex. But I don’t think that has anything to do with my gender neutrality, I see my sexuality as a completely different kettle of fish.

Men sometimes found me uncomfortable. Now I should make this quite clear, I am not overly effeminate in my behaviour neither am I overly masculine. (And so fucking what if I was?) With one exception – my appearance, I’m tall, broad and well built. I look like the sort of person you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley (although later in life many did!)

No, what some men found uncomfortable was the way that I thought.

Apparently I didn’t think like a ‘regular’ man. I wasn’t fitting into traditional male problem solving. I wasn’t confrontational, aggressive or quick tempered. I was logical and empathic.  Another close male friend told me it was something behind my eyes that freaked him out. It wasn’t lust, that’s for sure.

He told me that he felt like he was talking to his sister in the body of a mister.

I confused him and his confusion made me feel uncomfortable. I was really upset when that happened. I withdrew socially for a while, answered no calls, accepted no invitations, I didn’t want to be the wierdo who made people feel odd.  I was only twenty two and trying to figure out being an adult. The last thing I needed was other men telling me what a strange man I was.

It was during this period that I started to question my physical sex, I allowed other people to influence my perception of myself.

I started to weigh up other peoples opinion about me, these guys find me feminine, these girls find me masculine, but not traditional. It made a little sense, even in Gay bars and clubs I didn’t feel like I belonged, of all places. And then it hit me, I don’t fucking need to belong. There was only one person I needed to feel I fitted in with and that was me.

You see I realised I was really happy actually, the only people who weren’t were either chauvinist or people that were insecure with themselves. Maybe they saw a reflection in me of something they didn’t like about themselves, who knows. Im older now and semi-wiser.

You see my gender neutrality is in my brain.  I’m not interested in changing my sex. God that must be  awful, to be trapped inside a body that you feel completely alien with.

I’m completely indifferent about my biology. Meh! It is what it is.

I’d be exactly the same if I’d been born with a vagina.  Kicked out the Wendy house for being too butch and marched out of the football locker room for trying to join the team. Although these days, I’m totally excited that the younger generation are busting gender stereotypes left right and centre. Say what you want about Millenials, they kick ass at gender politics.

So, “You wanna try being a woman”.

No thanks, I’m not that brave or strong or thick skinned. But oh for a bottle of that power. …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Festival Syndrome.

There’s been an epidemic of 50th Birthday parties in my social circle.

The trouble is they all try to eclipse one another with the scale of their celebrations.  We’ve had invitations to skydiving (declined), Formula one racing (declined), Horse riding (tempted) and a long weekend in Ibiza , abso-bloody-lutely.  This is all from a gang that can barely get a round in.

I get it, my husband is 50 next year and he’s leaving it to me to make the arrangements. I hear “Sydney and Los Angeles” but I’m picturing a more sedate affair – a good old fashioned McDonald’s party (I can pass it off as retro and maybe even hire a clown).

One of our best friends decides to hold her 50th at a Music Festival.  This immediately appealed to my inner teenager.

I have a vision of crowd surfing over a sea of bodies screaming “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”.  However, my illusions are swiftly shattered by middle aged fear… filthy port-a-loo’s, communal showers and no moisturiser! Good god, NO!

But I’m assured we’ll be “Glamping”. That doesn’t go down well with the Husband, he won’t camp (although get him on the Brandy and he does a marvellous Beyonce). Unfortunately he won’t go near a tent, he’s seen too many horror movies, “The black man dies first and there is always a killer in the woods”.

So bless her heart, our friend  re-arranges the entire group’s accommodation. We’re now staying in “Eco Lodges” adjacent to the festival. Solid walls, alarms and great big signs outside saying “Psycho’s not welcome”. The Husband is happy although still very wary of the whole shebang.

It turns out to be a Soul and Jazz festival  with a fabulous line up, headlining are the Jackson’s (minus Michael of course). Not exactly Glastonbury but all very civilised. There’s even somewhere to sit down. Husband is still wary, he needs alcohol, lot’s of alcohol and I am more than happy to oblige.

The next thing I know he’s gone missing. Popped to the loo’s, getting another round in, who knows? I do worry though, he’s been known to scarper off if he’s having a crap time. I wish I had that ability, I just stick it out to be polite and then moan about it later.

So I turn around and bounding towards me is a bare chested man, face completely painted with glitter and wearing an oversized top hat with ski goggles. Who the hell?..Wait a minute, that’s my Husband!

And it doesn’t stop there.

Every twenty minutes he disappears and comes back with another festival accessory. Dayglo Bangles, Light sticks, Whistles, Beads, the whole kit and caboodle. He’s contracted full on Festival Syndrome.

For the past 12 years Iv’e had trouble getting this man off the sofa. For the past twelve years he has point blank refused a Pride march or Mardi Gras.

And then I see him, the man I married. The joyous, crazy, wild and ridiculous person I totally and utterly fell in love with. He’s back, he never really went away. He was just hidden, like I was, under a mountain of routine and day to day monotony.

I fucking love him and by the time he’s leaping around to ‘Don’t blame it on the boogie’ I’m right in there with him blowing my whistle and hugging strangers. All this without the aid of drugs, (definitely booze). But it’s more than that. It’s the atmosphere, it’s the crowd, it’s the music all wrapping us up in Festival madness.

We’ve booked up next year already.

But we’ve also brought a little Festival Syndrome back home, it’s done our lives and our marriage the world of good.

I’m getting a Loan out for his 50th, he’s getting that massive party come hell or high water, no Big Macs included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the first Exit on the Left.

In a few months time I will be 46 and quite frankly I’m losing the plot.

I’m happy-ish married and I run my own business.  From outward appearances we’re a solid, fun couple, the type that gets invited to parties to liven things up. We’re also the token gays or as we’ve come to be known “The boys”. We’re not boys anymore, far from it  (although we are bestowed with the eternal adolescence that comes with being gay).

So far so good. Married, tick that box, travelled a bit, tick that box, own our own home, tick that box too. Iv’e been working my arse off to tick boxes for the last twenty six years.

But I don’t want to tick boxes anymore. I think I want out. Not ‘out’ out, just a total mid life overhaul.

As I assess my life and take stock of all the crap I have accumulated over the years it’s painfully obvious that I’ve often been driven by what other what other people think of me. But as I reach this halfway point in life I couldn’t give a flying fuck anymore, (pardon my French).

I was brought up in the eighties in an era of “Must have”.  Must have a good job, must have a great body, must have a nice partner, must have a lovely home, must have at least two holidays a year and must have security.  It’s only now, at this mid life crisis, that I am daring to ask the question – Why?

Why the fuck do I need any of it? (I’m all out of pardon’s).

The trouble is every time I contemplate sodding off into the sunset with a rucksack and a change of underwear I get the guilts and not just my own guilt, a long line of guilt. I’m one hundred percent working class . Iv’e delved into my ancestry.com and it’s pure poverty as far as the eye can see.

So not only would I be letting everyone I know down if I decide to quit my current life, I would also be letting down my impoverished family tree.  Contemporary guilt is hard to handle, ancestral guilt is totally overwhelming.

Then there’s my husband, the plan is not to leave him, just send for him once Iv’e established a self sufficient utopian commune somewhere in the Lake District.

There’s a lot to consider before buggering off.

But despite all this I’ve decided that I’m pressing the ‘fuck it’ button. I’m slamming my hand down so hard that there will be no more fucks to give. They will pour forth and destroy my entire life in an act of glorious self sabotage.

So here I go…

I’ll go live in the woods, I’ll go off grid, I’ll buy one of those micro houses on a trailer and attach it to a rusty bike. I’ll forgo money, material possessions, mortgages, mobile phones and all the other insidious succubus beginning with M.

I’ll forage for truffles. I will run naked through valleys of poppies and frighten livestock. I’ll grow a long wild beard and fish from a stream with a rusty coat hanger. I’ll catch rainwater in old tin cans and fashion loin cloths from old Guardian supplements. I will be wild – I will be free.

And just as I’m at the top of that misty mountain, hand’s on hips, bits flapping in the wind, I will remember who I am.

I will remember how much I am loved and love my life. How fucking grateful I am for everyone and everything in it. Every first world problem, every pain in the fucking arse person, every brown envelope that slithers through my letterbox like an asp.

So I run. I run back to my life, my amazing husband who drives me fucking insane, my nutcase family who’m I adore, my 60 hour a week career, my iPad, my MacBook, my phone and my modern, rubbish life. I burst through the front door screaming “I’M BACK, IT’S ALL ALRIGHT WORLD, LOOK WHO’S BACK!”.

And my world just shrugs back, like it never even knew I was gone, mutters “dickhead” and turns back to the T.V…..