gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
I am really not well. Therefore, I cannot read anything too thinky. At present I am reading an agreeable novel called "The Alchemist's Door". It is not too bad, not too challenging, somewhat interesting. Pretty much precisely what I need. Why, then the grizzle?

The book centres around Doctor John Dee, so is set at the time of Queen Elizabeth I's reign in England. The title page is decorated with a Charles Rennie Mackintosh rose. The font used at the start of chapters is one in an Art Nouveau style. Very beautiful, but roughly three centuries after the period of the book. Grrrr!!! Every time this font is used, I am catapulted out of the world of the story into wondering why NO-ONE involved in the printing of this book said "Ummm, this is wildly anachronistic." I should mention that I am not particularly well-versed in either history or design. And I have noticed this.

Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest :-)
gwyn_bywyd: Pink flower growing wild in a patch of grass (Carport flower)
Today has been a horrible day, in a ghastly week. I am waiting in dread for what it will throw at me next

I discover today is cfs Awareness Day. (Thanks [personal profile] mewithme !) Felt I ought to post something. But (ironically) I have very few spare spoons today. So.

5 things I've learnt in the past year about cfs.

1.  It might be a retro-virus.

2. I can spontaneously develop new (for me) symptoms at any time. This year it has been joint pain. Fun times.

3. There is a word for the thing where I lose words or completely lose the ability to speak. Aphasia. I think.

4. The chaotic disorganised disaster that is my home and makes life so much more difficult is so common with sufferers it may as well be counted as another symptom.

5. Dreamwidth makes cfs more bearable. :-)

Thank you to all of you who make Number 5 true.

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of my hand, holding home-grown cherry-tomatoes (Tomatoes)
In which our heroine faces cockroaches, knitting, fundamentalists, plagues and lentil bolognaise.

Cut for capslocky rantiness )Read more... )


gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
Apparently, more than I intended. I have to start by saying that I am absolutely pants at choosing names. That part on school-camp where you had to name your team? I almost preferred the (several) times my hair got caught in the ropes while abseiling.

So when the time came to choose a name on Dreamwidth, it didn't occur to me to choose a name that wasn't ... well, a name. Which is ridiculous, since I'm here because of someone with a non-name name. Gwyn has a similar meaning to my RL name. But it seemed to me not distinctive enough, so I needed another part. Here is where we encounter language-not-my-own fail. My own RL name has nuances of "light" - Gwyn does not (It mostly means "white"). But I thought I would try something roughly approximating "light and life."

Then I fell in love with the word "bywyd." In Welsh it means "life." But there is a play on words here. In several of the psalms, the psalmist seems to be suffering illness or disability. He writes "I am become a byword." (eg psalm 69.3 "I am weary with crying out, my throat is parched" verse 11 "I made sack-cloth my clothing and I became a byword to them.")  These psalms resonated very strongly with me, especially in the second 6 months of my illness (ordination deferred indefinitely, living back with parents, too ill to care for myself, nearly incapable of finishing the simplest essay) So, my name had to include "Bywyd."

Now, if I had been thinking I would have gone with just Bywyd. But no, I went with Gwyn Bywyd. A while afterward, I had the horrid moment of realisation that my newly-set-up online name could be read as some white supremacist shit. Eeeekkk. I just kinda crossed my fingers and hoped that it wouldn't seem that way. I am tremendously grateful to [personal profile] llygoden (who actually speaks Welsh) for a discussion about this issue.

As to why this whole name thing was in Welsh, which I do not speak, when I actually have a fair few languages (mostly dead) Well. As a child, we lived in England, and did a lot of travelling on the weekends. I felt an instant and deep connection to Wales when we visited that I've never experienced anywhere else with the same intensity and speed. It was an intensely spiritual experience, that made an enormous impact on my nine-year-old self. We later discovered that we do have some Welsh blood, though Scottish, Irish and Scandinavian are much more prominent in our family history. Our visit to St Winifred's Well was one of the times in my early life when I was most aware of the sacred. I am utterly thrilled to be planning my first visit back there in June. So soon now! \o/

So, gwyn bywyd will be my name for now, until the fabulous Dreamwidth folks create a way of changing names, after which it will be bywyd.

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
Just a rant 'cause I'm so OUTRAGED right now.

Juanita, (of ABC News) how can you have just read the line at the beginning of the news "The NRL is facing possibly its biggest scandal, the breaching of the salary cap by the Melbourne Storm."?? I trust you! You read me the news every evening when I can manage it. And now this!

Argh! and a guy just said "bigger than sex scandals" ARGH! There are sex scandals, and then there is a widespread culture of acceptance of gang-rape.

How is something about overpaid sportspeople being more overpaid bigger than the scandal of the violence that is condoned from the players, often directed toward women?

I should say, this is perhaps upsetting me so much because I do actually follow League, and I want it to be as good as it can be. Not a bastion of violence and misogyny.

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Orchid)
I'm more than a little puzzled and irritated at myself with regards to recent news that my mother may have Lupus. Her mother had Lupus. Which has, of course, led to a fresh round of the game "maybe you have xyz not cfs."  (A fun game for all the family to play! Not to mention random strangers!) I'm irritated at myself for engaging in this for a number of reasons, not least that I have been checked for Lupus, at least once a year, since falling ill. Ditto thyroid problems and diabetes.

But I think the biggest irritation is that I am implicitly engaging in a sort "hierarchy of disability" in these discussions. What am I unconsciously implying by participating in this? Is Lupus somehow more "real" than cfs because there are diagnostic tools and it has been recognised for longer? That is something I most emphatically do not believe with my conscious thought-processes, but I'm looking suspiciously sideways at my subconscious. (btw, is there an emoticon for that?)

Something of the same implicit assumptions are present in my feelings about using a wheel-chair. In June I am travelling overseas. Last time I did this it was only an 8 hour flight, (this time it is one 8 hour leg and one 15 hour leg each way) but even so it was so exhausting that I could barely walk off the plane at the other end. It was a horrible, horrible experience. Mostly because of the reaction of my parents. There is no nice way to write this. They were ashamed that I could barely use my legs. In their defence, this was quite early in my illness, and at that point I didn't realise that people with cfs might lose the use of their legs. My parents felt that I wasn't trying hard enough. Long and painful story short, in June I will use a wheel-chair to get through the airport. I probably can walk the distances involved. But standing in a customs queue - potentially for hours - is utterly out of the question. But I am feeling enormous guilt and shame over the idea of using a wheel-chair when I don't need to (ie I am not paralysed), despite the fact I do need to. I have only just started truly self-identifying as disabled. Which is ludicrous, because I've been disabled for years.

Obviously I've internalised a great deal of my parents' shit about "pulling oneself up by one's boot-straps" and "mind over matter." With a nice big helping of crap about what is and isn't a 'real' disability. [I want to emphasise that in people not myself, cfs and all sorts of other invisible disabilities are both consciously and unconsciously very much counted as 'real disabilities' - all this junk seems to only apply to me.]

This sounds unfair to my parents. In fact, they do more in terms of accommodations than many. (My father is a doctor, and accommodations for his patients have always been a priority, and they truly think about what patients need, not just doing the bare minimum of what is required.) But here is where hierarchies of disability come in. I have all my limbs, look healthy, can mostly control my limbs. When I can't, it feels as if they feel I'm putting it on, or not trying hard enough. They have come so very far in four years. But it is still as if I'm not a 'real' disabled person. They make me feel this at the same time as buying me walking sticks and purposefully choosing the most colourful, 'youngest' looking one for me. Honestly, I'm not sure how they're accomplishing these mental gymnastics.

I do also wonder if there is some paternalism and/or othering going on here. People with disabilities are patients, people with disabilities are over there. We'll be very nice to them, and do everything we can to help them, but they are not us. Just to complicate matters is the intense awareness that my parents have that we are in a 'system of limited good' with regard to disability in this country. I have never received the disability pension, because when my GP suggested it, my parents said "There's not enough to go around as it is, we're lucky enough to have the means to support you, that money needs to go to people without that support." And there's a bit of that with me and the wheelchair use. I think "Am I ruining it for people who have no other options if people see a seemingly 'able-bodied' person using a chair? Will it just increase misconceptions about PWD??!! Argh!"

It would seem I am doing those extreme mental gymnastics myself, simultaneously recognising that I am disabled, but feeling guilt over using systems and tools for people with disabilities. It is exhausting, and I don't like what it says about my subconscious beliefs about disability.
gwyn_bywyd: Photo of my hand, holding home-grown cherry-tomatoes (Tomatoes)
It truly is my own fault. I shouldn't have read the local monthly advertorial glossy magazine. But I didn't have enough spoons to get out of the house yesterday, (or indeed, dress myself) so I didn't get my usual newspaper (which itself is sometimes made of fail, but with slightly less regularity) and all the books I borrowed from the library I either don't have the spoons for, or are infuriating me.

So I read the local mag. Well, parts of it. Well, about 5 pages. On the plus side, I have been trying to raise my blood-pressure. This should contribute to that nicely.

Highlights include: An advertorial for a Boudoir Photography. Having such a photograph is empowering ladies! Because we dress you only in underclothes, in a setting that is very obviously the bedroom, and then very carefully frame the shots so that none of your horribly deformed and/or fat bits can be seen. Seriously, the article said this in nearly as many words.

An article that by its very existence suggests that being a female nurse, a Christian and riding a motorcycle is so news-worthy that it warrants a whole page story. To her credit, the woman in question did seem sometimes in the interview to be thinking "Um, what is so hard to understand about this?"

Then there was a full-page ad by a local surf shop entitled "Calling out to all guys and girls" I will now quote the first lines of the 4 paragraphs of text:
  • Girls are you having trouble wearing your favourite little black dress in winter?
  • Guys come and check out the new craze in skate decks ...
  • Girls don't forget accessorising is the key ...
  • Guys did you know you can get [brand of sunglasses] for under $40? These are great for outdoor work ..
Basically, nothing a 'girl' does is as important as getting dressed, and the only activities she participates in are shopping, dressing and 'going out'. 'Guys' get to skate and to work. Some people get all the luck.

All in all, the whole experience has made me want to run up the main street of town doing things regarded as 'male', possibly including, but not limited to; earning a wage, being interested in motors, not caring what accessories I'm wearing, and participating in a sport. Oh, and snogging a woman, for good measure. And not in a 'to get guys interested in us/because a guy dared us" way either.

Of course I shall do none of these, (well ... I will earn half a wage) But I shall continue to work in my traditionally male-dominated area, to get around town wearing tops traditionally seen on men, with skirts that I love (my choice) and to make it perfectly clear that I am happy without a man in my life. And that will have to be enough gender-essentialising rebellion for me. *sigh*

Oh, and I'll only read the local mag when my blood-pressure gets dangerously low.

[In other news, turns out I don't yet have an icon for when I'm furious]

Good Friday

Apr. 2nd, 2010 01:02 pm
gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Orchid)
Halfway through Good Friday. One service this afternoon, but I have no responsibilities for that one. Reeeaaally missing naps today.

It is such an odd day, so emotionally draining, but with this incomplete quality to it. (Which is quite conscious and deliberate in our tradition, you don't have a blessing at the 'end' of a service from Thursday right through to the first Mass on Easter morning, because it is one long service, that stretches the whole three days.) The feeling of the day is of a held breath, or perhaps of the moment just before the sun breaks over the horizon at dawn.

I thought I'd post my Good Friday sermon for anyone who is interested:


Good Friday Sermon )
This is the first time I've made one of my sermons available on the web, I feel vulnerable even giving people copies when they've asked for them. But I have to be brave sooner or later!

gwyn_bywyd: Pink flower growing wild in a patch of grass (Carport flower)
Thanks, Holy Week, just what I needed. You know, many people make gifts of chocolate at this time, not vexed remembrances of being bullied and then guilt over if proper forgiveness really has been achieved.

Picture this: I've successfully negotiated the super-market, in order to buy crisp, tart, green apples (yuuummm), hot-cross buns to give those who help at the church cleaning bee on Saturday and chocolate eggs for the staff and clients of a program for young adults with disabilities that operates in the church hall. I'm heading back to the car and encounter the representative of another denomination, who I vaguely know to say hi to.

He says: Oh, a cousin of mine went to college with you.

Me: Oh, what is their name?

Him: [last name]

(I battle to figure out who is meant, I've been to a number of places that might be called 'college' and now have a cognitive impairment, and he doesn't indicate where such contact is meant to have taken place. But of course I'm supposed to remember)

He says: [first name and last name]

And yeah - despite having forgotten the name of an item I use every day just this morning and having just stood there blankly, in growing embarrassment - it seems that this name will be the one thing I always remember. Because you see, this boy I went to school with was ring-leader of a group of boys who made life hellish for me. The time that I seriously tried to figure out how I could kill myself, could I get enough tablets down before I was found? This guy. The panic attacks when I was so filled with self-loathing and anxiety I couldn't leave my wardrobe to go out with my family for the day? This guy. The way I had a hand bandaged for speech night one year, because rocks were thrown at me in class? This guy.

All this stuff comes back. And also some questions. What does he think/remember about that? His (much older) cousin mentions me (and, just quietly, what? why?) and he's, what? thinking "oh yeah, we were friends in school"?? It would seem that he has no shame, perhaps no awareness of what his behaviour did to my life.

So there I am, hugely crowded shopping centre, well-meaning-ish representative of another church right there. What can I say? "Oh, yes, we were in school together. Isn't it a small world?" Hopefully I didn't go white, hopefully he can't see in my eyes the inside of my wardrobe the way I can, see the chairs being hurled at me when he was told who had made the complaint against him (thanks, school, do you think your procedures might need a little examining?) Despite my best efforts I probably seemed suddenly quite distant and vague.

Every so often one reads an article in a paper about bullying, and they report as if it were startling new information that childhood bullying has on-going effects on the bullied child. No, really? Who would have thought?

Mind you, I work with kids, and so, God-willing, it might help them in some tiny, tiny way to be aware that here is an adult who has been through that, and is (when they see me) happy, confident, enjoying life as her own person.

It is just so infuriating that two words can threaten all that hard-won happiness and confidence.

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Orchid)
Holy Week and I am mostly posting now in an attempt to distract myself from how much pain I'm in and how all I want to do is crawl into bed and refuse to come out. This post has changed its mind several times about what it is. First it was going to be about theologies of illness and disability, but basically that just made me keep crying, so that will have to wait till I'm feeling better. Next it was going to be about preaching on Good Friday. Now I think it's about bodies and Holy Week.

Holy Week is just this gruelling marathon, even for temporarily-able clergy. From our first service last Sunday to our last service on Easter Sunday there were 19 services that my boss and I were doing, or had to be at. The theory is that everything else just gets put aside, but of course, life doesn't generally work like that. Other things keep cropping up, and some of them aren't listening to me saying "Look, can I deal with that after Easter?"

Like, for instance, my body. It's Holy Week, I could really use a break here. I'm in so much pain, and my pain-killers seem to be having no effect. Next week I'll start with a new doctor, and see if we can't actually control some of the worst of the pain. But this week, I'll just have to manage. And avoid screaming with pain during actual services.

Then I had this really interesting experience. Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, in which we remember the Last Supper. During that meal Jesus washed his friends' feet. In our services, we wash one another's feet. In my last parish, it was just anyone at that service who felt moved at the time who put out their feet for the washing. Here, we ask people in advance.

I expected people to be perhaps a trifle reluctant but am surprised to have encountered so many out and out "No, never, not me." Certainly, some people are uncomfortable with being touched by others, for most of these people I'm confident it is not that sort of dynamic going on here.

Yes, the experience of foot-washing is intensely intimate, both as a washee and as a washer. There is deep vulnerability involved, as a washee a real entrusting oneself to another, and as a washer a deep respect for the trust placed in us.  But here's the thing, as church, vulnerability is what we are about. We should be pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone in trusting others. (There are immense individual differences in what this will mean, I recognise that for some, leaving the house, going to a building with a group of strangers and negotiating the accessibility issues they find there is a huge, huge demonstration of trust and vulnerability)

I guess I'm also wondering how much our view of our body comes into play here to. Many of the feet I've washed wouldn't be displayed in a magazine, sure. But we believe that we are creations of God. We say "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it!" I guess it saddens me that we don't seem able to say "This is the body that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!"
gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Orchid)
I have been inspired by [personal profile] puzzlement about posting on inspirational women in science and technology. But, while I am a geek, I'm not that kind of geek. So I have fudged the definition a little, and will tell you why I <3 St Frideswide.

She was probably born about 680 CE, in England in the West of what is now Oxfordshire, and dies about 727 CE. She rejected the advances of the local prince (Of course, legends of the lives of saints have their own special language, I'm pretty sure what is meant by this is that he intended to rape and marry her, and didn't particularly care what order that happened in) She fled through into the forest, pursued by the prince and his men, coming in time to Oxford. The prince was temporarily blinded, which at that time was seen as a sign of God's disapproval of his plan. (For the record, I agree God disapproved, but claim biblical authority in saying that disability is never to be read as a sign of God's disapproval. Correlation does not equal causation, folks!) She prayed for him, and he was no longer blind - and also no longer intent upon raping her. Thus she became free to have her own identity, not only as a man's daughter or a man's wife.

Frideswide became the first abbess of the double monastery at Oxford. A double monastery had both men and women religious living in it, and being abbess meant she was in charge of all of them, having a position roughly equivalent to that of a bishop. Note: authority over the men and women of the foundation as if she were their bishop. She possibly carried a pastoral staff as bishops do today, certainly this is one of the ways to recognise her in religious art. The town of Oxford rose up around this monastery and in time the monastery became the site of Christ Church. In the early 15th century, Frideswide was made the Patron Saint of Oxford.

It wasn't until 1920 that women were admitted to membership of the university, but for about 500 years before that, its Patron had been St Frideswide, a woman who refused to submit to male violence, or live the life expected of women, a natural leader who took charge of the women and men in her care and may well have carried a pastoral staff when today various factions still are arguing women can't be bishops. As a girl, growing up in Oxford, I took it completely for granted that a woman could be the emblem of one of the oldest academic institutions in the world, it was only as I grew up that I realised how subversive that was.

Female figure with halo, holding staff, with an ox at her feet.

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of my hand, holding home-grown cherry-tomatoes (Tomatoes)
Usually I'm all about consensus decision-making, inviting and encouraging diverse points of view on subjects, phrasing what I say as my own opinion, not presuming that this will be the experience of others.

But recently I've noticed the emergence of Authoritative Voice on a few occasions. Authoritative Voice phrases things in less conditional ways than I usually speak. It posits things as a matter of fact, rather than my subjective opinion. It is quite stern, and while not boastful about academic accomplishment, makes it quite clear that it knows about that of which it speaks. It tends not to encourage actual debate, but would be happy to answer questions of clarification. Authoritative Voice is right, by implication it possibly says that if you disagree, you are wrong. This is among the reasons that I'm frankly a little uncomfortable with Authoritative Voice, and wonder if it really ought to be coming out of my mouth.

Upon analysis, it appears that I use it at times when progressive views would be seen as "just her opinion" rather than having objective validity (which all the listeners presume to exist, and which reactionary conservatives around here are always happy to claim their opinion has.)
Examples include:

* speaking about queer kids in the community - saying that there ARE queer kids in the community - at least 10% of kids in the area, who may each feel alone, scared and isolated. Saying that these should be some of the most important people in the world to us, since they are unquestionably some of the people closest to God's heart.

*When someone was dismissing as pantheism the environmental theologies that someone else was talking about with joy.  I said in fact, no, this is not a valid critique, environmental theologies often include elements of panENtheism - which is totally different. Later, I felt really bad about shutting down debate in this way, but know that opponents in this debate don't hesitate to do the same to me (I've been called "not a Christian" to my face by one of my professional peers. Which, yeah, if you're ever looking for a conversation-stopper among clergy, that's a doozy right there.) And the person I shut down was seemingly privileged (whilst being aware that there may be invisible areas of disadvantage of which I am not aware) - white, middle-class, middle-aged male - who had no problem blithely romping over the views of this other person (female) and indeed others (women, PWD, the young) in the group.

I think I use Authoritative Voice when I think that expressing views in such a way as to allow other points of view would be seen as being uncertain somehow, and that the progressive view would thus not seem to have as much worth as the conservative view. Here's the thing, the other side in these debates doesn't give their authoritative voice a second thought - in fact, that is always how they speak. Can I afford not to speak in the same way?

What do you Dream-width-ers reckon?

In seeking to have the voices of the marginalised heard and a progressive social agenda furthered is it ever ok to engage in debate (or, indeed, to shut it down) using the methods of the kyriarchy?
gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
A whole range of things have had me thinking in recent days of how strongly influenced by my upbringing I am. (As I suspect we all are.)

[personal profile] recessional  has written this wonderful meta-post about cleaning:

For me one of the fantastic parts of her thinking was distinguishing different types of cleaning from one another. She mentions particularly 'cleaning as performance of virtue.' Which rang so many bells it was like a carillon in here! One of the distressing things for me with cfs has been the inability to take adequate care of myself. Granted I have always been pretty messy. But I don't really recall it being so utterly overwhelming that I would cry about it. And then this article suggested that this is common in cfs sufferers. In fact it said:

'The clutter problem is almost universal with these patients, Lapp said. "They get so distracted that they start multiple projects, and the house ends up ... a mess. It's overwhelming."'

Which also made me cry.

So, I'm not alone. But I've also got this vexed relationship with tidiness. My mother has very definite psychological problems with mess. If as children we were untidy, we were BAD PEOPLE. As we grew up it took on another dimension, not only is mess inherently bad, we are also bad for making our mother so unhappy. (And frankly, on occasion, so mentally ill) Interestingly, it is more about tidiness than cleanliness for her, she is actually alarmingly laise-faire about food hygiene! It also didn't lead as much to a criteria on which to judge other people as it was a criteria on which to judge ourselves. Once I went to Uni I discovered that other people didn't live the way our family did. My mother will say "Will someone please go and clean up the appalling mess in the lounge-room?" You go into the lounge-room - and it is perfectly tidy, except there are some DVDs sitting on top of the television and the cushions on the seats look as if someone has sat in them.

Friends in Uni would have some fun trying to upset me with their lax hygiene, but mess seldom bothers me in other people's houses. But in my own house it has me deeply, profoundly distraught. Some of it is about functionality, it gets so I can't find the stuff I need for work, so the energy of finding it is added to the energy needed for the actual task, exhausting me further. But the post has crystalised for me that part of my problem is that I believe that part of what an adult woman* does is have a tidy home. For me to live otherwise is not being an adult. Also, there is the shame involved if someone else should happen see the mess.

The other way in which I am such a product of my parents is this idea that I am supposed to very strictly limit what I do in the evening. I have certainly heard the idea that one should not be looking at a screen in the evening before, although I have not implemented it. Apparently I am not supposed to be doing craft-work or reading either. Which doesn't answer the question of what I'm supposed to do if I am still working at 10.30 at night. This habit has come to me from my parents, both of whom spend the evening in front of the television working, all evening, every evening.

Again, according to my mother, watching television while not simultaneously doing something else makes you a BAD PERSON. It makes her very, very angry to see any of us doing this. And once again, you not only feel bad for doing this inherently bad thing, but you also feel bad for making her so unhappy.

So, a plan. I don't know if I'm really capable of reversing the thought-patterns of a life-time, but I'll try to stop working by 8.30pm, switch off screens - tv and computer - and use the extra time to do a little gentle tidying. However, the cfs-police can wrest my bed-time book from my cold, dead hands! Let call this a plan!

* And, yes, I am VERY aware of the messed-up gender stuff going on here. My mother frantically cleans the house before my father gets home from work despite the fact he would not notice her so-called mess. Every evening is like a very particular little time-warp to the 50s! Despite working (in mostly unpaid capacities) so many jobs that they add up to more than one 'normal' full-time 9-5 type job. Pointing out to my mother that this is a complete contradiction to - nay, betrayal of - her principles does not get a person very far.
gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (pic#434926)
Sooo much has gone on since I last posted that I don't know what to post about.

Cut for a somewhat disconnected ramble cfs-induced ramble about my life at the moment. )

So, that's me at the moment - and Easter is bearing down on me like a freight train of poor preparation, liturgies I wouldn't choose and sleep-deprivation!
gwyn_bywyd: My cat, curled on my bed, looking smug (pic#434923)

Poor little guy, he puts up with a great deal, the least of which are demeaning names like tiger-toes and being taunted when he complains about the service he receives from the staff!

Like I said, he puts up with a lot, but he is still being a magnificent furry nurse. Granted, I wish he would cook for me from time to time, and do his share of the washing up. But I've really not been well lately, and he has stuck much closer to home than usual, keeping an eye on his Mummy. And I'm very conscious at the moment that he is giving me lots of kisses (read: head-butting my mouth.)

Just felt the need to publicly thank him for his ministrations, so that he has something to read when he logs on while I'm at work :-)


Mar. 9th, 2010 04:59 pm
gwyn_bywyd: My cat, curled on my bed, looking smug (pic#434923)
I feel I should say before I begin that don't really know what this post is. Being an extrovert (and thus, I think best by talking) it might be an attempt to work things out for myself or it might be merely a cathartic rant. Doubtless part of the angstiness is stemming from once again trying to be at peace with the way in which I'm going to be single my whole life. I wonder when I'll finally manage this peace, I thought I'd been through this already and was ok with it. Apparently no.

I've been very interested to read a few people's musings on friends, and on the ways they make friends/ plan on making friends in new places.

It crystalises for me something I've known for a long time but kept trying to ignore. I am very, very lonely here. Lonely in a way I've never encountered before, and I feel powerless to start to overcome it. There are all sorts of factors involved in this loneliness: the isolating effect of cfs, the nature of my job, and being moved to a very cliquey rural town. It is also probably compounded by the life-stages many of my already existing friends find themselves at: in committed relationships, with new children, or in the midst of frenetic social times. Which is wonderful, and if things were different that would be me too.

One of my colleagues was recently asked by our Big Boss "Is she making friends?" in a way that obviously expected the answer yes. My colleague, I think, may have looked at him blankly for a few moments. Running through her head was "You moved her to an insular town, hours away from everyone she holds dear, she uses all her energy for work, she can't be friends with people she meets through work, but as previously mentioned, she has no energy for ANYTHING else." I think she may have actually said "It is a hard town to make friends in."  Of course, he has never bothered to ask me the question.

I try to make the effort to call family and friends, or write to them, but often when I am home I am slumped in exhaustion on the couch, trying to muster the energy to perform tasks of basic self-care (cooking, cleaning, laundry) or to do more work.

I've worked out that the only people I see regularly outside of work are my spiritual director and my yoga instructor. Lovely folk and deeply caring, but NOT to be confused with friends! Oh, and shop-assistants, who tend to see me in my work-role, and who relate to me in that caring role way. So even if I don't see work people at the supermarket, the check-out can be quite draining!

This is among the reasons that I frequently thank God for the internet, it really is helping me to feel as if I am in touch with friends, even if I haven't the energy to chat to them. And I am revelling in the process of meeting new people that has come about through this wonderful Dream-width thingammy.

But in terms of strategies to acquire local friends, I really don't see there are any. The most important thing is to be self-aware, and watch for danger signs that loneliness is leading me to inappropriateness. On the plus-side, I think I am doing an adequate job of this watchfulness, and am building up things like this blog to act as pressure-valves.
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So, this was such a magnificent book I felt I had to tell people about it.

Cut for a gleeful rant about an Australian fantasy novel )

In short, it was one of those glorious books that made me go "Whhheeeeeee!"

Let me know what you think if you have read it/do end up reading it.

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I think I'm fighting off a cold. My family has a children's picture book called "I don't feel well" that is read to the person who is not feeling well. Bear in mind the youngest in the family (apart from "furry grand-children" cats and a ferret) just turned 21! My mum tracked down copies via ebay for all of us, so now one can follow along as it is read over the phone. It is enormously comforting in a peculiar way and makes me reflect on the value of tradition, communal as well as just family ones.
Had a conversation (via typing) with one of my very best friends ... who was very surprised to learn people die from cfs. I've been sick 4 1/2 years now, and it seems strange to be having this conversation, especially since one of my biggest fears during the last 12 months has been the catch 22 of if I really need to be admitted to hospital I will be (by definition) too ill to get myself there, and probably too ill to be able to communicate this to anyone and worrying at what point I should pre-emptively make that call. Just goes to show how little is generally known about what having cfs really means to a person. As I was saying to someone today, it says a lot about how the unknown nature of the illness affects me that I cried tears of relief on reading the article that suggested that cfs might be a retrovirus (if this doesn't mean much to you - the reason AIDS is so hard to treat is because it is a retrovirus.) At this stage I wouldn't have the first qualm about offering myself as a test subject in trials of antiretrovirals, unfortunately I'm too far away from major research centres.
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel for me at the moment, I see my family the day after tomorrow! I just can't wait!
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Well, I knew that already.

But this particular incident relates to today's Gospel, Luke 13:1-9, in which Jesus discusses two tragedies that had occurred, and also talks about a fig-tree a bit (as one does.) Everyone else seems to be grimacing and trying to change the subject. A parishioner joked this morning that it was like some kind of comedy challenge, "here, try to get a good sermon out of that." But I asked to preach on it, because I actually rather like it. Granted, the language Jesus uses is quite heavy on the repentance and what-not, but he is portrayed here as an apocalyptic prophet, the imagery is of his context and time. But still, it remains one of the passages I tend to quote more frequently.

Because, in it Jesus is told about people who have been tragically killed. The assumption of those listening to him is that tragedy is a punishment from God for some sin. Or maybe not even that person's sin, it might also have been their parents' or even further back. And Jesus says, in today's language "Cut it out you lot, no-one deserves this sort of thing anymore than anyone else." He is warning his listeners against blaming the victim. Of course, this is a wonderful corrective to hateful f*ckheads who give the rest of us a bad name when they slime out of their crevices after, it seems, every natural disaster to claim that it was God's judgement. Interestingly these people seem to think that God is startlingly indiscriminate in his smiting. Like some slimeball who claimed that Hurricane Katrina was a punishment for New Orleans letting some famous lesbian live there. Who from memory, wasn't killed. Anyway. Jesus says in this morning's Gospel that this is crap. No-one deserves those sort of things.

But it is actually the other victim-blaming I'm thinking about more, because most people see the blatant stuff as the rubbish it is. But there are more insidious kinds at work all the time. "If you thought positively you could overcome your clinical depression." "Despite the fact 3 generations of your family have been unemployed you should instinctively know all the things that go with getting and keeping a job." and so on. And it is also stunning and saddening to see how much of this thinking has been internalised. So often I see people in times of grief or pain and loss and they say "I don't know what I've done to deserve this." The answer is nothing: No-one deserves this, ever.

So yes, there is reason #5834 why I'm odd, because I do a happy dance at this morning's gospel!

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)
I've been meaning to make this post for a while, and day off means yoga, anime and time for blogging :)
I also took photos, but can't seem to manage to upload them.

1. Cherry Tomatoes I grew myself (as seen in my icon picture) My poor tomato plant, when I'm not well enough to look after myself it certainly doesn't get any attention/water/seaweed drink/worm tea. And yet it just battles on, and then there are these amazing tomatoes, all different shapes and the most wonderful deep red. It feels like a real accomplishment, even though I've done very little in this whole business.

2. My cat. He is tabby, has a long tail and makes my life bearable. He very seldom deigns to sit on my lap or lie beside me on the bed, but when I'm very sick and really need it, he curls up beside me and things seem better, even if they really aren't.

3. Brave flowers. Opposite my car-port is a little strip of grass, in this strip of grass some flowers grow wild. The person who does the lawns evidently feels that flowers have no place in nice, neat grass, and mows the little strip of lawn straight over the top of them. And then, just days later, more flowers have managed to spring up. It is so beautiful. And being just opposite my car-port, these flowers cheer me up, just when I need it most, when I'm dragging myself off to work, or when I'm coming home so tired I can hardly stand.

4. Making lace. It has been far too long, but I'm preparing to start a big project, and I'm feeling quite excited. I'll be using all sorts of exciting threads that I've never used before, but the lace is pretty easy to do, so little stress on my tired little brain.

5. Looking like my Mother's Mother. I never knew my mother's mother, since she (and all the rest of my mother's family) had died by the time my mother was 14. We've always been conscious of never seeming quite right to my father's family (not enough sport, too clever, too few hetrosexual partners!) Therefore it was a wonderful moment when I saw a photo of my mother's mother and realised that my figure is exactly hers. So, recently I've been making choices like hair-cut, sunglasses and dresses to accentuate the resemblance. She was an amazing woman, an ear, nose and throat surgeon in the 1950s, when I imagine there would have been few other women in the field. She once set her OWN broken nose! I'm so proud to be her grand-daughter. And to look like her!