Liza with a Z.

A couple of years ago I met Larry.  I was in the Neuro-surgical department of the hospital. The surgeon clicked his mouse and up popped Larry in all his tangled glory.

It was the surgeon’s advice to name him, after all Larry had been living in me since birth.  So it made perfect sense to be on first name terms. Manners maketh the Man. So Larry was named after the infamous gay comic Larry Grayson.

Larry is an AVM. An arteriovenous malformation, to be precise. He’s a tangle of blood vessels and veins that had  been covertly operating under the alias of Mrs Migraine (I don’t name all my ailments, but they do seem to take on a life of their own).

Mrs Migraine had been paying  unwelcome visits since I was about thirteen. She liked to pixellate my vision, numb my fingertips and occasionally (when she felt she wasn’t getting enough attention), deliver skull splitting headaches.

According to the Dr, Mrs Migraine is incredibly common, lacking in manners and very, very loud. I have meds prescribed and that was that.

Thirty years later I’m on the phone to my Father when suddenly I start slurring.  Dad thinks I’m loaded (again), only now I can’t feel the phone in my hand, I also can’t feel my left leg.

As my husband catches the phone receiver falling to the floor he notices it all. It’s my face that really freaks him out, it’s dropped on one side.

I’m thinking Stroke, Husband’s thinking Stroke, Paramedics thinking Stroke, Dad’s still rambling on about the rapid decline of toilet paper standards, blissfully unaware that his son is having  a full on seizure.

But by the time the Ambulance reaches the hospital all my symptoms had completely eased off. I can’t say I was normal as my face was still threatening to merge with my neck and never return.

Apparently, the very common Mrs Migraine had a sophisticated trick up her sleeve, she can impersonate a full on Stroke. Turns out she’s not such a common woman after all, she’s a highly versatile performer, a medical triple threat – she’s Liza Minelli.

So for the first time I am scanned. I end up in a revolving tube and the nurse gives me headphones, she says it can be a bit uncomfortable and noisy. Enya is warbling in my ears to the muffled backdrop of the scanners Industrial Techno. Ghastly.

I’m swiftly ushered into the surgeons office.

Enter Larry. The neurological cross dresser, an enigma, wrapped in a brain, impersonating Liza Minelli.

He’s been outed from my  brain closet. He’s been sucking the life out of my right occipital lobe, probably since birth. Oh and he brought a couple of male escorts! Brad and Jeff.  Two un-ruptured brain aneurysms forced into existence by Larry’s constant need to be fed. Greedy Queen! What can you do?

I did say right occipital lobe didn’t I? Yeah, that’s the part of the brain that controls your eyesight. The thing is I’m heavily involved with the creative arts, specifically visual.

Fate. Cruel. Irony doesn’t even cover it.

So to cut a long medical procedure short, I have two prize boxes to possibly open on this gameshow. Iv’e already won the bonus round, Brad and Jeff have got to be removed, that’s compulsory. (Brad’s already left and Jeff is living on borrowed time).

Box 1.  Have Larry Evicted, only while he’s gathering up his feather boa and high kicking out the door he’s highly likely to take 50% of my eyesight with him.

What’s left of my vision will resemble a Kaleidoscope. I would have to learn how to see again in a whole new way.

My eyesight could return in a year or it couldn’t. Either way, career wise, life wise and financially I would be in no uncertain terms, Fucked.

Box2.   Empty. That’s right, do nothing.

The logic  being that apart from Larry’s dreadful Liza Minelli impressions over the past 45 years, he has, in fact, remained in tact. He’s a hoofer and a trooper.

Larry could  put on a  show tomorrow, or when I’m 95, reclining with a martini in Cannes.  No one can tell me. He’s a Guerrilla performer.

So, monitor Larry on a regular basis and when I’m financially secure enough (Don’t be fooled into thinking creativity equals affluence, even for those that have survived for 30 years), re-cast Larry and send him to the twilight home of retired medical celebrities, a.k.a the incinerator.

The quandary is that no one can tell you what to do. Not even the surgeons. They aren’t allowed to here in the UK, they can just present you with choices.

I choose prize box two. It’s my first grown up decision, no, really. The first time I have been presented with such serious consequences.

I figure, if I can keep Larry under control, restrict his performances with meds and ban all male escorts, I’ll get through the show.

Jeff is being evicted in three weeks. He’s a deep character, can’t be dealt with via that wondrous artery that runs from your groin to your brain. No, this time it’s full on craniotomy, I will have a scar the size of a Tennis Ball.

Husband says if that’s the case I can have a facelift. It won’t hide the scar but it might make me feel a bit more fabulous. Every cloud kids, every cloud……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d rather have a cup of tea.

Sex. O.K, I’ll go first.

I haven’t had sex in over two years and I’m happily married.

Really?

Yes, really.

But don’t you miss it?

I can barely remember it to be honest.

Hang on, isn’t physical intimacy supposed to be the basis of the relationship?

Why?

Well, I read it somewhere, you should absolutely have a healthy sex life in order to have a real Marriage.

Woah! hold up!  Let’s go back.. you ‘read’ it somewhere, I take it from one of the numerous wellbeing blogs and sexperts?

Well they can fuck right off, excuse my French.

I’m not being rude,( no, I’m really not), but who has the right to tell you what’s normal and healthy and what isn’t?

God, I couldn’t live without sex, it’s probably the most important part of my life.

Good for you. However I can tell you without any hesitation that I would rather have a cup of tea.

Why did you stop?

Well it wasn’t a conscious decision really, we just stopped. It went from a two week dry spell to two months and before we knew it it had been two years.

Do you still Love one another?

Of course, we wouldn’t be together if we didn’t, but the sex, we just grew out of it.

But you still find your husband attractive?

Well Duh! Of course I do, he’s fucking gorgeous, but like I said, we just grew out of sex with one another.

Oh, so you have sex with other people?

Absolutely not! We’re 100 percent monogamous, or rather we would be if we actually had sex. Look I can’t fully explain it, we just stopped doing it. The sky hasn’t caved in, we haven’t gone running into the arms of younger lovers, we’re just as close as we always were.

But don’t you still get the urge? I mean aren’t you frustrated?

Sometimes, but it passes, just like a headache.

And can we please just cut to the chase, so here goes.

My testosterone is above average, I’m not impotent, I’m not crap in bed (quite the opposite actually),  I’m no prude and Iv’e probably had enough sex to last me three lifetimes. Iv’e just lost interest and so has my husband.

Well you need to do something about that, get therapy, introduce roll play, do it outside, toys and porn.

Why?

Well I don’t know, it’s just normal isn’t it?

Ahh, back to what’s normal and what isn’t. Look, we’ve both spoken about it, at length and we’re really open about it with one another. We’re not saying we’ll never have sex again, it’s just that right now we don’t want to.

Oh I know, your’e too busy, you need to make time for one another.

O.K, now you’re really getting on my fucking nerves. We have all the time in the world for one another, we are top of each others priority list thank you very much.

Well what then? There must be something? 

Why? Look, just stop trying to label it. Stop trying to fit it into some cozy, safe little box. Stop trying to diagnose it as a problem. If it was a problem we’d have fixed it.

Your’e just in denial.

Right, I’m leaving. But before I do try this on for size…

How about we’ve transcended it?

That’s right, how about we fucked so hard and for so long that we’re all out.

How about we had 10 years of non stop mind-blowing sex and wev’e exhausted it. How about we no longer feel the need to jump on each other in order to show how much we love each other.

How about we listen to one another now. How about maybe, just maybe, sex was in the way?

That’s right, what if sex was stopping us seeing each other as people? How about since we stopped having sex we actually communicate properly, do other stuff together, enjoy each others company.

So it’s passionless?

Have you been listening to anything Iv’e been saying? We’re more passionate about each other than we ever were when we were having sex. I mean authentically passionate about each other.

Look I don’t expect you to understand, I don’t expect anyone to understand, I don’t want anyone else to understand! Its just right here, right now, we’re happier than we’ve ever been and we aren’t having sex.

O.K, O.K, Just asking, so where are you off to now?

For a wank…..Satisfied?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Male Puberty.

So he left her. My Brother in law that is. Almost immediately after having their second child he upped sticks and fucked off.

There were warning signs along the way. A very unsubtle roving eye and he totally withdrew into himself, choosing only to communicate in grunts and insults. He was transforming into somebody else right before my sister’s eyes. We all witnessed the bizarre metamorphosis, he’d regressed to a moody teenager.  He felt grounded and was going to throw a tantrum until life went his way.  It got very ugly, very fast.

My very sweet and kindhearted little sister was in pieces. Absolutely grief stricken. When someone dies you can grieve for the loss. The pain is knowing they’re never coming back. But when the spirit of someone you love dies in front of you, only to be reborn as someone new – someone alien, what’s the grief process for that? How do you process a death when that person is still alive?

Invasion of the body snatchers. Or to be more precise – Second Male Puberty.

People change, we all know that, but what we don’t always make plans for is that at a certain point in life, mid life to be precise, some people change back. They revert to the last point in their lives that they felt attractive, desired and free.

But here’s the deal, we all feel like that in middle age. 

However, most of us are mature enough to handle these new feelings  within the construct of the life we have built around us. Not burn it all to the ground.

We realise there is no going back. We try to change our current lives in a positive way without regressing. We work at it, messily, childishly, perhaps over compensating with whatever self medication we can lay our sweaty hands on, be it beer or avocado.

Or we don’t, we just glide through it. We tip our caps to our second puberty impulses, acknowledging them with a wry smile and raising a glass.

He’s a Surfer now. That’s right, got himself a VW camper, surfboards and a younger girlfriend. He’s a developed a “Best Mate” approach to parenting and like’s to say “Dude” a lot. His Kids find this cringeworthy slash amusing but they love him, he’s their Father after all, just the younger version of.

As for my sister, well she wen’t through a metamorphosis that no one was expecting. Second puberty had a reverse effect. She transformed from this timid, submissive girl into a fucking Warrior Woman. None of us could believe it. Shit – well she takes none, ever, from anybody.

And as this Amazon started getting down to business she attracted a true mate. The real love of her life. She’s remarried now, happily. This ones already been through the second puberty and come out the other side unscarred and thoroughly grown up.