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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in ghetsuhm's LiveJournal:

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    Monday, October 15th, 2012
    8:56 pm
    Having My Shit Really Together
    Today has been a rough one. And the extent to which I don't want to is probably a sign I should try to work through some stuff by writing about it.

    Last night Keith, who is a bloody hero, put up this post at Public Address, in a piece of journalism that's not only excellent but almost certainly life-saving. I read it just before going to bed, and it put me in a hell of a state. This morning I hit it up again, and wrote a comment trying to express my 'issues'. Basically, the core of Keith's column is that the Ministry of Social Development (in charge of what's generally known as "social welfare") has a system which, if you poke around, makes personal information about 'clients' available to the public. That includes location information about children who've been victims of abuse. Here's my comment:

    I read this column last night, and had to go to bed and have a wee cry. And it wasn't just because my daughter's had dealings with Youth Specialty Service that involved funded counselling and drugs.

    I was one of those kids. For two years in the 70s, my family was in hiding from my father. He had access rights: on one of those visits he managed to trick me into telling him where we were living (I was six, okay), and we had to move. I had to change schools. The very information Keith has detailed here, which would have been on Social Welfare's files about us, would have been sufficient for my dad to at least find my school and wait for me. He could have used me to find my home, and my mother. She could have died.

    If we were in that situation now, all he'd need is some unsupervised time on a kiosk, and the technical knowledge to open a file in Word.


    And then I went and had a shower and cried.

    For a very long time - like, until the last few years - I honestly wasn't aware that I still had issues around the violence and abuse I witnessed and suffered as a child. Kids just bounce back, right? And it was all a very long time ago, over and done. I should be past it.

    A few years back, Karl and I were watching an episode of Child of Our Time that featured a child from an abuse household. His mother had left her boyfriend, was in hiding, they had to do things like obscure the logo on his school uniform when they filmed him and conceal where they were living. And gradually, I ended up curled in a fetal ball on the end of the couch, completely stressed. I couldn't cope.

    I react very strongly to depictions of abuse. I over-react to being shouted at. Some of the stresses of the last couple of years, for reasons I can't openly talk about, have made this reaction worse. There's a term for this, of course: it's "being triggered". But that's for people who've suffered really horrific things, right? For people with PTSD. Not me. 

    I have seen my GP a number of times this year, in very stressful circumstances. Once, she raised some concerns that led to us talking about what I'd seen in my childhood and the effect it was still having on me. She said counselling would probably help, but of course we can't afford to pay for it. She asked me, obviously hating to do so, if any of the abuse had been sexual. Then, I might be entitled to funding. It was awful.

    So it seems I don't really have any choice but to be skating across this ice, never quite knowing when all this is going to surface again and turn me into an unfunctional idiot. It's not just me, of course: the gathering of my family when my mother died was a Carnival of Dysfunction. And none of us talk about it, not ever.

    Tomorrow will be a bit better. (Well, actually it'll be bloody stressful because we have to fight with the Ministry of Education. But that's a whole separate shit-fight.) And in a couple of days I'll be okay again. But that terrified child never quite goes away, and I am so tired of being a slave to her.   
    Monday, June 25th, 2012
    7:44 pm
    Well that was quick
    Today would have been the one-year Bonkiversary of my relationship with Tom. Would have been, because a week ago we broke up.

    Anyone who tells you they know why is either a liar or betraying a massive confidence - which, actually, none of the people who've been told would do. There aren't many. I can tell you nobody is ever, ever going to work it out or guess it right if they haven't been told. But it was Karl who called an end to it, because of reasons too fraught and awful for anyone to imagine. The last three weeks have been so dreadful, and so melodramatic, I could easily become a slightly improbable Movie of the Week. It's going to take me a long time to get back on my feet again. What I can tell you is that Tom and I still love each other, to a level that's scared the hell out of both of us. Perhaps that's a good way to go out, with no bitterness, just a profound melancholy. And one day we'll get to a point where we can be glad of the things we had, the chances we got. Right now, I just miss him so much it's like an open wound.

    We do have one more night. Karl agreed I can still go up for the Fetish Ball in August, which leaves us in a weird hanging place. We're done but we're not really done; we have one more celebration and one more goodbye. We changed each other profoundly, and that will persist after everything else is gone. 

    This is not the kind of pain I enjoy.

    Current Mood: depressed
    Monday, April 30th, 2012
    8:05 pm
    Or you could mind your own fucking business, whatever
    There is so much stuff I should be writing. My head is all over the place, and has been for weeks now. 

    I've stopped telling people about my Lifestyle Changes, pretty much, because I am so tired of hearing it. Seriously, about 9 out of 10 of the people I've told have said either, "I hope it lasts" or "I hope it works out". Word for word. And I'm sure they're all trying to be positive, but seriously, have you EVER said that to someone starting a monogamous relationship? If you went to a friend and said you had a new partner, how would you feel if they said, "Well, I hope that works out"? Seriously. How would you feel? No-one has said, "Congratulations, I'm really happy for you," without me bitching about this first. (Some people are genuinely happy for me. They tend to be people who have at least met Tom.)

    Another pro tip for reacting to news of other people's non-conventional relationships. The first time you say "I'm not here to judge" is much more convincing than the third time.

    Also. I'm tired of people repeatedly asking questions about how it's going in a concerned tone, and pushing it when given a polite but non-explicit answer. Even if things weren't going well, you wouldn't be helping. And I've really fucking had it with anyone who thinks their own feelings about this matter are more important than ours. You know what? They're not. You're just unbelievably fucking insensitive and self-obsessed.

    And yes. That is actually worse than the couple of people I've told on-line, who simply never replied. Though that is particularly classy.

    Another favourite? "I'm just saying, I've never seen it work." To which I have yet to actually say out loud, "Really? How many times have you seen it?"

    There is enough pressure in trying to make two people I love happy, and trying to negotiate a "lifestyle" (note: straight monogamous vanilla people get to just have "lives") that doesn't fit the mould. No, I don't need people's approval, but I could really do without how incredibly exhausting their disapproval is.
    Thursday, March 8th, 2012
    8:02 pm
    So... How It's Going, the WTFAQ Edition
    Yeah, I know, I haven't posted here in over six months. They've been... a very interesting six months. Yesterday was the first day I've really been able to talk about what's been going on. For the moment this entry is friends-locked: I actually have very little idea who that means can read it, but... small steps. Later on I'll probably unlock it so I can send people here instead of having to keep repeating myself.

    Right. In June last year, I started having an affair. That wasn't the intention at the time, of course. It was supposed to be a one-off. And then a two-off. And then we were never supposed to see each other again. And then we were going to be in the same space and just behave ourselves. So, y'know, we slept together again. And then we stopped pretending. And then we got caught, which brings us up to January.

    I suspect anyone who doesn't already know, but who's actually met him, has an inkling of a suspicion that the man in question is Tom Beard. If you've never heard of him before, pertinent things to note are: he lives in Wellington so we don't see each other very often, and he's polyamorous. Um. And a Dom.

    Anyway, I don't want to go into too much detail but the last six weeks or so have been pretty horrendous. Karl seriously thought about leaving me, and who'd have blamed him? Once we'd made a decision to stay together, and to go to counselling, we had to decide what to do about my relationship with Tom. Because here's the thing that might surprise you if you do know him: Tom and I love each other. Again, not what anyone expected, it just happened. Neither of us said it until we thought we were over forever, that I'd never be allowed to see him again.

    Not, as it turned out, what happened. Rather than forbid me, and then spend the rest of our lives jealously checking up on me all the time, Karl decided to see if he could cope with Tom and I having a publicly-acknowledged relationship. So. Karl and I are partners. Tom and I are lovers. Tom and I will see each other a few times a year, in Wellington. What we have been doing, basically, except now everyone knows about it and I don't have to try to hide the extensive bruising I come home with.

    I figure people will have some questions. Let me try to answer them before they're asked, in my usual style.

    Q/ So, your partner, quite whipped then?
    A/ Anyone showing less than the deepest respect for my partner and the depth of his love for me can expect to be imminently stabbed in the face by me. If you can't get your head around it, at least keep your fucking mouth shut.

    Q/ Are you sure you've really thought this through? I mean, it's not going to be easy, is it?
    A/ All three of us have actually been in poly relationships before. I'm thinking we all have more of an idea of what we're getting into than most of our observers do.

    Q/ So, Emma, if you'll sleep with him, you'll sleep with me, right?
    A/ Short answer? No. Long answer? It's like that no, except I snort-laugh for about three minutes as well.

    Q/ So, that means Tom's In a Relationship, right, and unavailable?
    A/ See above. Except the laughter goes on for longer, and at some point I start crying, probably just before I slide under the table.

    Q/ This is hardly going to last, is it?
    A/ You mean, unlike all monogamous relationships, which last forever? The simple answer is, I don't know. Also, we've really only just started this. You want me to be thinking about the end all the time? 

    Q/ You really are a selfish, self-centred little bitch, aren't you?
    A/ I'm a bisexual polyamorous sub bitch. For eighteen years I lived in a monogamous vanilla relationship, and I thought everything was fine. Until, y'know, my daughter started school-refusing, my city fell apart in a series of earthquakes, and my mother died a lingering death from cancer. Karl understands why this started. He's really the only person whose judgement of my actions matters.

    Q/ You must have had help, carrying this out and covering it up, right?
    A/ The only people who have ANY responsibility for our affair are me and Tom, alright? Alright.

    Q/ Wait, if I'm reading this right, he HITS you? Seriously? Are you insane?
    A/ If I ask nicely. Or I'm bad. Or we both really really feel like it. Also collars me, cuffs me, feeds me... The dodgier you find this, the more detail I'll give you, okay?


    Feel free to add any other questions or comments you have in, well, the comments. This might well be the only place I give any answers. Just bear in mind that I'm pretty fucking happy about this, and we're all trying to make it work. You know what I say about harshing my buzz.

    Current Mood: ecstatic
    Saturday, August 13th, 2011
    2:28 pm
    Messy
     I'm very aware that all I seem to have done lately with teh blogging is whine. Which is, yes, traditionally what it's for, but still, if I'm getting sick of it? You guys must be well and truly through. But then I end up becoming completely uncommunicative, and people don't know shit... anyway. This is the latest "where we're at".

    Me. A couple of months ago, I developed a shiny new fucking appalling health problem. Look away from the brackets if you don't want to read Woman Stuff. (I've been having periods roughly every two weeks, and with that, much worse cramping and bloating and mood swings and shit than normal. Like, way worse.) My GP is pretty convinced the root of the whole thing is stress. Two weeks ago, the strain on my body proved too much, and I had a minor relapse of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That Thursday, I went up to Auckland. And I had a completely fabulous time, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't have missed it. And the day after I got back to Christchurch? I could hardly walk. Sicker than I've been in over a decade. And every day it dragged on I was more and more terrified that I wasn't going to get well, that I was going to get stuck there again.

    But. I have, gradually and by dint of doing nothing at all, crawled my way back to about as sick as I was before I left. And I feel like I'm improving. Thinking I may actually be able to start achieving things again - like finishing the last half a scene that's been holding up PA Story for over a week. 

    Rhiana. We may have found her a new counsellor. She doesn't like him as much as she did Scott at Youth Specialty Service, but after they told us to piss off, and that they didn't give a shit if our daughter was cutting, we were running out of options. Then my GP -during an appointment about ME - realised that we might be eligible for funding for counselling for her, and yay we are. So she's had one session with this guy my GP recommended, and she's agreed to see him again. I don't know if it's going to help, but it can't hurt, she won't talk to us any more, and we are shit all out of ideas.

    Which I think has been the hardest thing about this. We had to admit that we couldn't cope. That we didn't know what to do. And "managing" is a huge thing for me. And when we finally got to that point and broke down that far? Nobody would help us. 

    I just... y'know, I love her. I want her to be well and safe and happy. And at this point, I don't really care what it takes. And maybe that means accepting that I can't help, or even that the things I've tried to do to help, because I love her, are making things worse. And honestly? That I can't cope. That my physical and mental health is coming to pieces under the strain. 

    Anyway... I got paid (well, I will) for the Auckland gig, and I'm thinking I really should treat myself. Because, from a practical point of view, if I feel better, I can better look after others. I'm thinking maybe that thing I said I couldn't afford to do...
    Thursday, July 21st, 2011
    1:02 pm
    The Self-Obsession Chronicles, continued.
     The other day, I read this, and then, as you do, went off and tried to determine my own core values. Basically, from a comprehensive list you choose twenty-five values, then whittle them down to ten, and then again to five, which are your core. Now, being me I had some real problems with the legitimacy of the process (particularly the part where I had to work really hard to find 25, and then promptly throw away all the ones I'd added to get up there). Then you examine your values to see if any of them are in conflict. Which I guess is a useful way to find out what your areas of conflict are. 

    So my values turned out to be:

    fairness
    creativity
    practicality
    love
    wisdom

    Frankly, I was just relieved they turned out to not all be intellectual. But then of course I whittled down a bunch (self-thinking, knowledge, problem solving, competence etc) by deciding that they were all part of "wisdom". To me, you can be intelligent or knowledgeable without necessarily being wise, but not vice versa. Fairness also umbrellas quite a lot of different values, as does practicality. So, really, I've kind of cheated, but I've done that in a very Me kind of way.

    Practicality CAN be in conflict with fairness, with creativity, and with love. Or you can see them as tempering each other. Because my tendency - and people who've worked with me will back me on this - is to be relentlessly practical, and say things like "well that's all very nice, in an ideal world, but can we get the fuck on with talking about what we can actually DO?"

    See, lately I've been feeling kind of overwhelmed. I feel like I have just far too much to do, so I end up not doing anything at all. Or at least, not doing the Big Things, and feeling like I'm doing nothing at all. And given the last year, I guess it's not all that surprising that... I feel like I'm losing my grip on my sense of self? And the tools that have worked for me for a long time (primarily my stop-check phrase "What do I want, how do I go about getting it?) aren't so much cutting it any more. 

    And... it's really important to me to understand the world, right, in a very conscious way, to be aware of how our society shapes us, and how we shape it. And I know that all the information I take in in that regard is filtered through my personality, so I need to understand myself, as a tool for that greater understanding that drives me. And lately, the song lyric that keeps running through my head is "When you find out who you are, too late to change."

    Also... sometimes you are lucky enough to be able to see yourself through someone else's eyes. That's happened to me lately, and the effect has been... rather more than I expected. 

    I'll settle back down soon. Part of the problem is that my basic stress response is avoidance, flight, and that option simply isn't on the table for me. I need to do some reappraising, work out where I should be putting my energy, where my focus should be, what I should be trying to achieve.

    It shouldn't be surprising. My world has changed enormously in the last year. Perhaps it's because of how much of that has been unavoidably utter shit that the thing I did that should have been terrible? Has been utterly brilliant, and possibly saved my sanity. I'm just, basically, always surprised when I'm not super-competent and emotionally unassailable. 

    I know. For a smart chick, I'm a fucking idiot.
    Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
    2:55 pm
    The Isis Knot experience: a Retrospective
    Wank wank... Yeah, okay. A bit over a year ago, I put out a plea to my readers to please gods help me actually get my novel written. Writing long-form in a total feedback vacuum was driving me batshit. I'm spoiled by the near-instant feedback of Public Address and the co-operative environment of Bardic Web. And about a dozen lovely people offered to read the MS for me, chapter by chapter, and possibly offer feedback. Once or twice, I've asked for feedback on a particular point, but mostly I've tried very hard not to shape people's views or their experience of the story. Because if I ask about something, I'm making that something Significant.

    At this point, I'm working on Chapter 16, I've whacked out about 35 000 words, and we're maybe... halfway through in terms of words and about a third of the way through in terms of plot points? Which seems to me like a good point to examine the experience. Also, a bunch of the basic situation is about to change, Stuff Happens. People not in the Isis Knot writing group might find the process interesting, too.

    However. If you do want to keep your feedback entirely uncontaminated, you might want to choose not to read this. From here, SPOILERIFIC up to Ch 15, but not about where the story is going.

    As an exercise to get me actually writing, it's sort of worked. I have not, even faintly, stuck to my original schedule. In my defence, Fuck of a Year.

    One of the unplanned things I'm loving is that one of my readers is about ten chapters behind everyone else, from coming in much later, and this has turned out to be incredibly handy. F'r'instance, Isaac has asked about Lynne's suicide note being in an envelope. When I wrote the scene, I saw it in my head, it was just a folded piece of paper. Months later, detached from that, I can actually ask myself if it might not be better in an envelope, if that would emphasise what Laura does when she reads it. Previously, I might have been too wedded to what I originally envisioned to accept that. Also, Isaac's feedback is coming from quite a different place from other people's. So actually, I'd quite like it if he DIDN'T read this, just in case.

    Am I getting any consistent reading from my reading group? Am I fuck. When I asked "At what point did you work out what had happened 'off-screen' between these two chapters?" I got a lovely bunch of specific answers, and they were all, every single one of them, different. I love you guys. Not so helpful with the "do I need to make this more/less obvious?" but still actually helpful. I should note that I know what happens in this story almost the whole way to the end, so nobody's comments can influence plot points, it's more a matter of what gets emphasised, cut, developed, and how.

    I also love it that some people have clearly got attached to particular characters, and they're not ones I expected. I adore Laura. At least one of my readers hates her fucking guts. People appear to want to slap my fallible narrator a whole lot less than I had expected.

    My absolute favourite, though, is when someone says "I want to know what happens next". It's a suspense novel more than anything else. If you don't care what happens, I really have fucked up. (Well, or, it's just not your cup of tea. That's going to happen, without my writing necessarily being Bad.)

    Things I have found surprisingly difficult. I'd like it to be funnier. It was to start with. But it is actually quite difficult to lighten something that, so far, has involved two suicides and a rape.

    There ARE things I'd really like to know that I can't ask, because asking will change the answer. I was telling Karl last night, "I'd really like to know what they think happened [REDACTED], because it becomes pivotal later on, and there should be some suspicion but no certainty. I'm betting [REDACTED] has totally worked it out though, and probably even knows where [REDACTED]." *sigh*

    I have concerns about pacing. The first three years or so of the story are, of neccesity, ones where lots of stuff happens, but increasingly I'm skipping over blocks of time, and that increases further into the story. I'm worried that makes it seem jumpy, the switches between describing something with actual dialogue and detail, and then having Hera just tell what's happened over a few months.

    I worry that I am the only person in the universe who gives a flying fuck whether Laura and Peter ever sleep together. And I want people to care. Srsly, I've made the central relationship* in my book a sexual relationship between two people, neither of whom is the narrator, who aren't fucking. WTF was I thinking?

    When one of my readers says something like, "This off-the-cuff comment here, that's a character point, right, this is really significant?" and they're right, I do a little dance in my chair. Yay. These people, they talk a LOT. Not perhaps as much as your average Oscar Wilde character, but there's a lot of people sitting around talking, and they should be revealing themselves as much as what they're talking about.

    The feedback that comes from quite a different place, that suggests a different reading or that something should be radically different, is harder to deal with, but I really like the challenge. There's also been a couple of "this is an unfamiliar term, or not immediately clear, if you just put this bit first it's much clearer" which is also excellent.

    I have not managed to clearly deliniate two members of my ensemble cast, Darren and Natasha. And I'm beginning to wonder if I really should. I would actually cut the character of Darren if I didn't need him to do something later on that none of the others can. But if they're naturally secondary, maybe they should just stay that way.

    I get a little frustrated because my narrator is not my most verbally-dextrous character. Initially I tried to sort of talk her down, too far from own voice, and I've sorted that, it's just not necessary for her to come across a a muppet because most of her friends are more articulate than she is. That probably means I need to do some tone-ironing in the initial couple of chapters where I'm trying too hard to make her sound "down-country".

    Hmm. This was supposed to clarify my thought processes. It kind of hasn't. But. I am really enjoying the process. I do hope you guys are a little as well. Right now I'm on a bit of a roll with The Isis Knot, which makes my brain all kind of breathless and racy.

    Readers, do feel free to use this as an opportunity to make general comments in the comments, or by email if you don't want to influence other people. Also, anyone reading this who isn't in the reading group and wants to join, I think having someone else start from the beginning again about now would be handy. Or possibly send me into a never-ending feedback loop ensuring the writing process is eternal. Have at.


    *Okay, yeah, it's NOT the central relationship. A photo of a pony for the first person to tell me what is.
    Sunday, May 29th, 2011
    9:19 pm
    Meh
    Been six weeks since I last talked about anything personal in public.

    May has been kind of a shitty month. I mean, it's May, right, and I normally start to struggle emotionally round this time of year. Then there was Mothers' Day, which was the bearer of a mass of unforeseen (by me) suckitude. I knew her birthday was going to be difficult, but when I start getting spam suggesting presents I could buy for my dead mother? Yeah.

    Then my brother turned up one morning, on his way back down from scattering our mother's ashes on her first husband's grave up in Taihape. He was heading back to do the last cleaning out of her house before the settlement date. So that's all dealt with and gone now, and I'm very grateful to them for taking care of it.

    And Friday, my inheritence turned up in our savings account. It's not a huge amount of money, but we're going to take a wee chip off the mortgage, and then build a deck. I think Mum would have approved. I talked to Rhiana about it and she's really keen, and she suggested we plant roses around it, because Mum loved roses. We've had some rough times with her, but she's a Good Kid.

    Otherwise... it's looking like the kids will be going to school at the "temporary" site out in Halswell until around about Kieran finishes high school. That's really hard to take. We got the Red Cross transport grant, which was a decent sum of money and isn't really covering our transport costs for this year, let alone the next couple. Meanwhile, all the other schools are getting back to normal: even the other badly-affected ones expect to be back in business by term four. It's hard.

    I have, I guess, lost my resilience. The bad things weigh. Things I used to shrug off bother me. I struggle to write, to think. Creativity seems a mile off, and that's how I value myself.

    On the up side, next month I'm heading up to Wellington to see Megan and Susan, and take part in the Wellington Slutwalk. I know, I was just in Wellington a couple of months ago, but that's worn off. I need to recharge again. It feels selfish, taking off on my family, but I am pretty much going mad. I keep wondering what the fuck is wrong with me, why I'm so precious and frail and needy, and then I remember what an utter fuckmonkey of a year it's been. People are coming apart under the strain in Christchurch who haven't been bereaved as well.

    If I can get my brain to work, Things could be Afoot, which would be awesome.

    Current Mood: sad
    Sunday, April 10th, 2011
    9:23 pm
    Earthquake whining, part fuck-knows
    So Karl and I were talking last night after everyone left, and we'd had a few drinks, and he'd had a coffee so he was awake to chat with me at 1am. Mostly, Because of Reasons, we were talking about a friend of ours, whom we believe is very unhappy. Albeit largely by their own doing, but still, we care, and it's shitty, and probably now intractable.

    I really like the way most of my friends who are in relationships are in them with people I don't want to punch in the face a lot.

    Anyway, as  result of all of that, I asked Karl if he was happy. Which, as it turns out, is a question that can only be answered in the sort of long-winded fashion he hates when I do it. And it took me a while to drive the conversation back to "are you happy in your relationship", which was of course what I was asking because one of my more endearing traits is the way I am So Totally Self-Obsessed.

    On the way, though, he told me that the main thing he worries about at the moment is me. Which makes me feel a weird loved special kind of shitty. Because he's aware that I haven't had any time to myself since the earthquake, and he knows I need it. He knows I haven't been writing because I don't have the mental space. He's aware (because I whine about it constantly) that I've had the same headache for over a week now. We thought it was the chlorine in the water, but it may just be stress. And our neighbours are total fuckwits. I've been internally debating what to call them, The Cuntyfucks or the McWankersons.

    Also, I haven't had a cigarette in two weeks. I was starting to feel it in my lungs, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to stop, so I did. I will start again when Megan gets here. I cannot wait.

    And the thing is... I should be going out of my skull without the space I know I need to survive mentally. And I'm not. Because that's part of the numbness, the sense of being utterly stuck: I'm also not getting worse.

    Well. It's okay when it's not raining. That three gray wet horrible days last week, I did start utterly despairing. As long as I can get out in my garden, I'm managing.

    I'm failing to pick up all the threads of my old life with any enthusiasm. But at the same time, I have a Secret Project, and I'm pretty enthused about that. There's bound to be more important stuff I should be doing, but actually this also Needs to be Done. But I'm also aware that I am not my usual very organised list-making self right now. I keep putting things down and losing them. I have a couple of writing conundrums I can't connive my way out of, and I'm normally pretty good at that. I can't make fairly simple decisions like should I apply to attend TedXChch? Or am I just too fucking tired to bother? Should we get a water filter so I don't have the constant taste of chlorine in my mouth? Should I buy Rhiana a moon jar for her birthday, or make one myself? What are we going to do for her birthday? Should I do an Easter Egg hunt this year, or are the children too old for that shit? How do I stop being such a worry to Karl, and what do I do in a world where he's suggesting I take a break in Wellington by myself?
    Thursday, March 31st, 2011
    3:06 pm
    Day Four: Gumbo
    Alison Holst's gumbo recipe. Mince and bacon gumbo. I KNOW. I have tried making gumbo with chicken, and shrimp, and more authentic and exciting ingredients, and I get looked at in a sort of mournful-labrador way. Why, they are thinking, would I ruin gumbo? It's like when I make hamburgers using Morrocan-seasoned lamb patties instead of Alison Holst's beef patties. Experimental cooking is clearing Not My Job.

    The Holst has been something of a goddess in my kitchen from the start. Her recipes are so sensible and practical and child- and budget-friendly. Two things I will always do with one of her recipes, though: halve the salt, and double the spices. I up the seasoning in most recipes the second time I make them, to be honest. When we have Meals out with Russell, it's becoming a tradition (which I will encourage) to get Indian so he and I can have Super Spicy Dead Animal, and everyone else can wimp out in their respective ways*.

    Anyway, what I've learned over the years is the importance of getting the roux just right. Dark but not too dark. There's really nothing else to this except constantly tasting during a long, slow cooking, and adding more paprika and thyme every time you taste.

    The great thing about this is that a) it feeds our family on about 300g of mince, and b) soup is a great way to get kids to eat veggies, should that be a problem. It actually never has been for us. But then, I've never used the phrase "you have to eat your vegetables."


    * These days a quite startling number of our friends are vegetarians, something I have absolutely no problem with. It's not actually a bother accommodating that, it'd be fucking rude NOT to. But I will eat dead animals in front of you. My main problem is that nobody else in my family likes spicy food.
    Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
    11:34 pm
    Day Three: Spaghetti and Meatballs
    Another thing I'm not going to try to teach people how to make. You have favourite meatball and tomato sauce recipes.

    One of our family rituals is that everyone gets to choose the dinner on their birthday. And for years, every member of the family chose spaghetti and meatballs. Which is interesting, given my long-standing problem with Italian food: I'm allergic to tomatoes. So yeah, I make my sauce with tomato paste. Tomato paste and water, wine, onions, peppers, and for a 140g can of paste, about six cloves of garlic and a double handful of fresh basil. Because that's just how I roll: excessively.

    I didn't make the meatballs the way the children prefer, it's true. Mostly because it's both a hassle and a cardiologist's dream. That's where you put grated parmesan into the meatball mix, then form each meatball by wrapping around a cube of (preferably) mozarella, and then after you assemble the dish, cover it in more parmesan.

    This is another meal that it's easy to get really slack about. I've made it so many times I don't even bother tasting the sauce any more. The kids have gone from having a little bit of spag and a couple of cut-up meatballs, to even shares with us, to their current 'half their weight in spaghetti'. 

    Of course, it's a little more interesting to prepare these days, like just about everything, because of the Water Issue. Even the water I use to wet my hands to roll the meatballs has to be boiled and cooled. And the spaghetti pot, with its obligatory massiveness, is the one I've been using to boil the water. The reason my lovely chicken Caesar salad (something I developed a taste for because you can order it in cafes and be sure it won't come with tomatoes) didn't make the cut this week is because I just can't be bothered washing contaminated silt off my lettuces with luke-warm boiled water one more time.
    Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
    1:18 pm
    Good Foodening
    Preparing for the supermarket yesterday (not our normal supermarket, not our normal supermarketing day), I decided that, given "things lately", this week I would, without telling them, cook my family all their favourite meals. Unfortunately, without telling them, I could only come up with five, so I asked Karl. He said, "I dunno, what's your favourite meal?" It took me several minutes to work out that I couldn't answer this question, and I had no idea how to even start thinking about it.

    Anyway, in order to get myself back into communicating - something I completely shut down when I'm under stress - I thought I'd document the process. (In other news, look, my hyphen key is working again. The cat fuxed it, Karl fixed it. Yay. Now I can be snide again - should I so wish.)

    Last night was nachos. I know. That's not cooking. ("That's not even Mexico!" etc) But everyone is all for a meal that involves chips. Also, chili's kind of under-rated because it's so easy to do adequately. And because it's cheap, so everyone learns to make it while they're flatting. But good chili is really good.

    Tonight is Chicken Parcels. (Recipes will be known not by their official titles, but by their house names, a world in which my Caesar salad is known as "that yummy thing with croutons".) Right now I'm marinating two quartered chicken breasts (though you can also just use chicken pieces) in 1/2C of soy sauce, 1T brown sugar and a few chopped spring onions. This year I'm growing spring onions, so I don't end up regularly throwing away haf a bunch. For this I use the green bits not the white bits.

    To this you add 3T sesame seeds and 1t peppercorns, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan (mmm, smells awesome) and then crushed in my mouli (hm, smells like... tyres?). This powder thickens the marinade as well as adding yummy toasty sesame/tyre flavour.

    That'll sit in the fridge til dinner-time. It needs at least an hour, the longer the better, but if left overnight it's just... wrong. Then we do the fun bit.

    For each (of in our case four) serving, get a big square of tin foil and brush the up side lightly with oil. Then add two of the chicken breast pieces and a good spoonful of the marinade. Top with a good squeeze of lemon juice, and a slice of lemon. The lemon should be right on top of the meat - the flavour goes right through and is surprisingly strong.

    Wrap the chicken into a tight parcel in the tin foil, and put it on an oven dish you can easily clean. Marinade leaks, and burns onto the bottom of whatever it is. Bake for about 30mins at 190C (longer if you've used bone-in pieces, obviously.)

    My favourite way of serving this is with stir-fried veggies, and on top of a bed of rice. It's less messy to unwrap the chicken at serving, but more fun to dish up the parcels. You shove your knife through the parcel, and the marinade runs out the bottom and all through the rice. Then you dispose of the foil.

    Yeah, it's messy. Last night we have nachos. Grace is obviously not much of a priority at our table.
    Monday, March 21st, 2011
    9:08 pm
    So Long
    So, it's been a month since the earthquake, which seems quite impossible. Surely it just happened. Two weeks, maybe. But the kids' school goes back to "normal" (more on this later) curriculum tomorrow, which means they'll have been off nearly as long as the summer break. That can't be contemplated.

    We did go to Wellington. We just got back from that, right? And it was fabulous. The perfect mix of good people, cheap booze, old friends, new friends, tobacco, talking, speaking, and social endangerment, followed by actual, bloody brilliant, peace and quiet. Fabulous.

    Then we came home. For some reason, I'd expected things to get better, even though we'd only been away five days. Fitzgerald Ave was open, which was progress. I started crying driving down it, which was not.

    Some things are back to normal. We have power, phone, internet, water and sewerage, and all appear to be pretty reliable now. We're living in our intact house, with our normal family arrangement.

    I... think that might be it.

    Karl is working from home now, with an uncertain future.

    School has started for the kids again, but over in Halswell - all the way across town, basically. Today, given Rhiana's itinerant support person lives two blocks away, she came here and supervised Rhiana's correspondence, and Rhiana didn't go to school at all. Transport horrors are keeping more than the odd child at home.

    So those two things mean no routines, and nobody doing any settled proper work.

    Our local mall is a half-pile of rubble. They do plan to re-open, but it won't be any time soon. So, not available, our normal: supermarket, post office, green-grocer, butcher, dry cleaner, tattooist, fish and chip shop, hairdresser, chemist, book shop, clothes shops... any time we need something, finding where we can get it is quite the adventure. And everything takes so much time, especially given the condition of the roads. I did suggest we open up Ferry Road for adventure tourism.

    I am utterly wrung out, exhausted and weepy. I carried the Happy from Wellington until a couple of days ago (that place is fantastic for my ego, frankly), and I even managed to get writing again, albeit only in one of the three places I need to be. I have a PA column in my head, but not the energy and concentration to write it.

    And I know nobody expects me to have my shit together or be productive, but I need to, for me. This week, too, is going to be Not Great. Tomorrow is Mum's birthday, or would have been. Thursday, we take Rhiana to her last appointment with Scott, and (I'd guarantee) will have to fight for her to get any further treatment at all. I should be totally shitted after that.
    Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
    9:20 pm
    Here we are again
    Tonight, I am tired and sad. This afternoon I went off at a complete stranger (who was being an utter twatcock, to be fair) in the supermarket. When I initially wrote, it hadn't really hit yet. Now, I am just so tired.

    And we're some of the lucky ones. Our water goes off for large periods of most days, but it comes back, and we have power and we can flush our toilet. Before we had functioning sewerage, we could dig a latrine in the back yard - unlike people without back yards, or who were disabled, or didn't own spades, or whose back yards were inundated with silt or water. We are lucky. Some other people are not.

    I am especially lucky because I have the most wonderful friends - people who not only want to help, but can. So thanks to Russell Brown and Orcon, my whole family will be flying to Wellington next week, for free. We'll be mooching off our friends Susan and Matt for several days, and we have a friend to feed the cats. (Though it's just occured to me to wonder how we get to the airport without having to leave our car there for five days.) Still some logistics to work out, but it's something to look forward to, very much, that puts a barrier against our long-term thinking. Where will the kids go to school? Should we just call quits on Rhiana's formal schooling at this point and have her do correspondence at home? Will Karl's job survive?

    We will stay in Christchurch. We haven't yet heard that any of our friends have decided to leave, but a lot of people have. More than half of the buildings in the central business district need to be demolished. Whatever happens from here, some things will change forever.

    Anyway. There's a fund-raising Great Blend in Wellington next Thursday. Anyone who can come should. It'll be a lot of fun, and I need a lot of fun right now. I'm so weary. And so grateful.
    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
    3:45 pm
    Sex-Positivism, or The Unthinking Slut Chronicles
    I have, before, expressed amazement at how much time I seem to spend discussing feminist issues these days. I mean, my "thing" is LGBT rights, you get that, right? That's where my activist time and energy is supposed to be concentrated. And I've written here before about not calling myself a feminist and why. That, basically, at uni I found I disagreed with "the" feminists on so many things I wasn't comfortable sharing the label, and that I don't want to waste said time and energy arguing about whether things and people are feminist or not.

    Now, the only person who's said anything that's made me reconsider that position is Megan, who basically said, don't let the fuckers own the label. Not in those words, I'm obviously paraphrasing, please don't take that out on her. Now, I think about stuff, deeply and often slowly: balance, consider, see how a piece of information or an idea fits with other information and ideas, weigh costs and benefits. You can pretty much take for granted that by the time I start verbal evisceration to defend my position, I've thought about it long enough to feel sure.

    And the other day I tweeted:

    Also, let me make this announcement publicly. @MeganWegan wins. While I'll never use it without the 'sex-positive' tag, I am a feminist.

    Less than a week later, and I'm already having it called "lifestyle feminism" as opposed to "educated, useful" feminism. And in exactly the fight I didn't want to have. Cause, see, if I wanted to be a "proper" feminist, apparently I should have been reading books, not getting first- and second-hand experience of male-on-female violence and coercion. 

    So let me, in no particular order of importance, talk about my feminism. Possibly not very coherently, as I am tired, ill and angry.

     - all freedoms are, at heart, freedoms of choice. There is no value, for instance, in having the right to vote if you have no choice about who to vote for. So any attempt to pressure an individual to the point where they lose choice (into a particular profession, out of a particular sexual practice) is an attack on freedom. I do not understand why "choice feminism" is a negative term, or is viewed as simplistic, when it allows me to support a woman's choice to wear a burqa, and her choice to wear a bikini.

     - my feminism supports and embraces all consensual sexual choices. Vanilla sex, group sex, gay sex, consensual sex work and pornography, BDSM and other kink, polyamory and (just as importantly) asexuality and celibacy. It does not support telling anyone what kind of sex they should have, or broad statements about what kind of sex women (or men) enjoy.

     - my feminism is not interested in excluding men from anything. I think it's important to acknowledge that sexism is damaging to men as well as women, and that it's good for everyone to have men involved in CONSTRUCTIVE discussions of sex and sexual politics. It also acknowledges that men exist who are victims of rape and domestic violence, physically and emotionally. It acknowledges that men are not inherently horrible, and therefore an individual man should not be excused when he is.

     - my feminism acknowledges, and is grateful for, the gains made for women over history - the right to vote, to equal pay, to own property in marriage and decide who they marry for themselves, every step that has been taken to help me govern my own life. I'm very aware of the freedoms I have that my mother didn't. I also know that, because so much has changed, the fights women face now are different, and may require different tools and forms of action.

     - activism can be positive, fun and frivolous and still be effective. Even if all a particular event or discussion does is make a bunch of women feel better, that's a gain. And TOFO and Boobquake didn't actually preclude anyone from taking "proper, serious" action. We understand they're not for everyone, but they are for us. I think it is actually okay to feel good about myself.

     - women need to acknowledge their own privilege. If you are a white middle-class well-educated straight vanilla woman in a stable relationship, you actually have bucketloads of privilege. Respect that when you speak, and try not to speak about people further down on the ladder without speaking TO them.

     - my feminism is interested in what you think, say and do. It is not interested in whether you call yourself a feminist (or a socialist, or an environmentalist) or not.

     - my feminism is extremely tempted to say, if you find all this so enraging and disgusting, do us both a favour and just fuck off out of my face.
    Thursday, January 27th, 2011
    9:20 pm
    Something Good is Going to Come
    Okay. Rhiana. After we got back from Mum's, she had an appointment with Youth Specialty Service. They're an adolescent mental health service our GP referred us to. And we spent two hours talking to a couple of psychotherapists, at the end of which we were told that, while they'd talk to their collegues, there was basically nothing they could do. That they thought Rhiana wasn't so much depressed or anxious as stubborn and bitchy, and given she wouldn't talk to them, there wasn't a lot they could do.

    And I started going right back into that helpless anxiety spiral I was in with her last year. Then two days later that guy called us back and said one of their team, a psychiatrist, was interested in talking to Rhiana and seeing if there was anything they could do to help with her sleep, at least.

    Today we went back, and met Scott, the psychiatrist. When we left, I suggested to Karl that we marry him. He's American, he's only been in the country a couple of months. And he specialises in sleep disorders in disabled kids. He was the first person to tell us that sleep disturbance is really, really common in hearing-impaired kids. And he said, we'll help you, we'll sort this out. We have prescriptions. (Welcome to a socialised health system, this will cost NOTHING!) We have a regime. More appointments, blood tests.

    Mostly today was family history, Rhiana's medical history, lots of questions for me and Karl. Next time, next week, he just wants to talk to her one on one for a bit. And she may even talk to him, because she seems to like him. And everything we told him seemed to make sense, this is all very familiar to him.

    I am... I have hope back. It hurts. But maybe, maybe there's an end to this. a future for her.

    Mum. I'm getting fucked around by the trustees of her will. Really must try to sort that out. There are still some big decisions we need to make. I'm going down again weekend after next to clean out some more of her stuff and try to talk to my brothers. My cousin has offered to come with me, which'll be a massive help. She's been so brilliant through all of this.

    Her daughter Sarah emailed me a couple of days ago to thank me for the ring of Mum's I gave her, which she hasn't taken off. I gave her a copy of a photo of Mum she loved, and gave her the link to the column I wrote about Mum. She just emailed to tell me she cried reading it, that she hadn't really stopped for long enough to let the grief hit until she read that. And then she printed it out and gave it to her mother, and told her not to read it until she was alone.

    That column was important for me, in processing all of this. I didn't really helplessly cry until the day I put that up. But I feel like... I gave something back. To her, and to the people who knew her, and people who'd never even met her. I'm grateful to have the opportunity, and the ability, to do that.

    It's all been a bit much.
    Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
    4:56 pm
    Okay, so as most of you know, my mother died on the 3rd. I'd had a call from Greg in the morning saying she wasn't doing too well and they'd put her on morpheine, and I really should have known then, because he's constantly underplayed how ill she is. Anyway, while we were still working out when to go down, Nigel rang that night to say she'd died.

    So I got there on Tuesday, while the funeral director was there, which was just as well, because there was quite a bit of stuff the boys didn't know. She'd told me, and she'd told my cousin Marion, who arrived the next day.

    Nigel was drinking two bottles of wine every night, which went exceptionally well with his anti-depressants. Warwick avoided the house completely, and Greg only dropped in (from being over at Warwick's) to get pissed off and bitch at people. Marion and I organised her funeral, sorted through some of her things and marvelled over the little gems we kept finding, and talked. We were women, basically.

    Mum's funeral was lovely. I'll write something up for PA about that kind of thing, but I'll try to keep that free of The Bitching.

    And then I came home, the day after the funeral. And it was like a very heavy rock dropped on me very slowly. I can't keep track of time, I keep finding I've just stopped. I have a stack of thank you cards here to write, and that column, and I need to check in at BW, and all I can really do is sit around going through stuff, reading, watching old episodes of The West Wing. I keep getting the music from Mum's funeral stuck in my head. I'm trying to pick up the threads of my life after having been away so much in the last month, but... I'm just not there yet. Now that I'm home, I can grieve. Not cry, of course, there's just this huge heavy blankness.

    Anyway, I'd mentioned on Twitter a letter to the editor my mother wrote that I'd found in a bag full of Drama League stuff, so here it is. Any mistakes will be due to my touch-typing skills.


    While I respect the Associate Health Minister's willingness to live on a beneficiary's income for one week, I feel that in such a short period she will fail utterly to capture the real essence of the situation.

    With a fully-equipped home and a well-stocked freeer, most of us would manage to coast along for a week with almost no expenditure. But what about the next week? And the one after? And next month when the insurance is due? And two of the kids have birthdays?*

    It is the ongoing and ever-present restrictions and economies that really quell the spirit. Even if we have the budget under control, the dread of the unexpected expense hovers like a threatening cloud.

    What if the old washing machine breaks down? Or the element goes in the oven? Supposing Johnny has to go back to the doctor, or Jenny breaks her glasses. The last straw could be the parking fine incurred while waiting to be served in the Opportunity Shop. The queues there are so long these days.


    *Februrary. Me and Nigel.
    Saturday, January 1st, 2011
    1:08 pm
    New Year's Weirdness
    This must happen a lot, but it still feels weird: the 2010/2011 change-over feels like no kind of boundary for me. I can't say, last year was rough but next year will be better, because my major problems from last year are still on-going. The first major thing that's going to happen in 2011 is the only thing I'm certain of: my mother is going to die.

    From my last blog on the matter, a couple of days after I got down there, my mother's condition deteriorated even further, and we had to put her in the hospice. It was her own idea, she suggested it to the district nurse that afternoon, but by the time we got her up there she'd forgotten, she didn't know where she was, and she got quite upset. By the next day she was much more settled and comfortable, and the hospice is lovely, both the environment and the staff. I'm very comfortable with it because their attitude is the same as mine: that Mum's quality of life is far more important than her quantity at this point. My youngest brother is not quite so accepting of that.

    You know what? It'd probably help if you guys could tell my brothers apart. Here's a (not very wonderful) photo - the only one of all three I have on my hard drive.



    This was taken at my brother Warwick's wedding in 2004. From left to right:
    Warwick - middle brother, currently 50
    Mum
    Lacey - my eldest brother's now-ex, holding their daughter Merle
    Nigel - eldest brother, currently 51
    Greg - youngest brother, currently 49
    Shelley - Warwick's wife. They now have a five-year-old boy, Gareth, who is mildly autistic
    Me
    Rhiana
    Karl
    Kieran

    Warwick and his family live in Timaru, and he'd been doing a lot of the ferrying my mother to hospital appointments and stuff. Greg arrived about a week before I did - he stays at Mum's over Christmas every year. Nigel arrived the day after I left, and is still there. But two nights ago he phoned to tell me he and Greg had one of their perennial nasty fights and, while they're both living at Mum's, they're not speaking to each other. And he basically begged me to come back down. Frankly, the last thing I want to do at the moment is act as a buffer between two grown adults who should be able to sort their fucking shit out on their own.

    Anyway, while I was down, tests revealed that a lot of Mum's confusion and loss of appetite was due to a build-up of calcium in her blood. This is common once the cancer gets into the bone. They put her on a drip, but by the time I left, it really hadn't made any difference. She was extremely frail and sleeping most of the time. Largely what I was doing was going to the hospice every afternoon and sitting with her while she slept, and talking to her friends when they came to visit and dealing with staff and forms and stuff.

    But. She got slightly better after I left, back to about where she was when I'd arrived. The boys brought her back to the house for Christmas Day, and we took the kids down. Rhiana had twice refused to go down and see her, but when I told her Grandma had got a bit better, her face lit up, and she was quite happy to go. So it does seem, as I suspected, that she's simply protecting herself from the pain.

    Honestly, I haven't coped with this very well. I was mentally prepared, and now it seems this pendulum's got a couple more swings to go yet. Apparently she's worse again now. This could go on for a while - or not. And at the same time, we have to come up with some way of getting our very brittle daughter going back to school and going forward, and honestly I don't even know where to start. David Slack emailed me before Christmas and said nobody should have to deal with all the shit we've had to, and I just cried because I hadn't thought about it like that.

    Shit. Anyway. Last year.

     - We had Reunion '10. And it was a total success. Yay! We only had one person who couldn't make it, and everyone got on, and there was no bullshit and so many hysterical photographs resurfaced. I do hope all those people who had to drag themselves from other cities and stuff had as good time as I did.

     - We bought a house. Yay! We love our house. Especially as it's still standing and in one piece.

     - Rhiana started high school. Boo! Didn't go at all well.

     - Karl and I went to Foo Camp, with a bunch of our friends. Yay! It was fucking awesome. And I felt like I actually made a contribution. And I met some fabulous people, notably Sue and Fabiana.

     - I had clear MRIs. My tumor has not regrown. Yay!

     - I got a job writing columns for Metro. Yay! Then I lost it. Boo! I'm pretty sure I still see this as overall a positive experience, even though it was pretty much horribly stressful the whole time and I don't really miss it.

     - My mother's cancer spread, and became both inoperable and terminal. Boo! Really a fucking lot.

     - Our city became the new Earthquake Capital of New Zealand. Boo! We learned that what constant aftershocks do is make us really angry, and that shouting "Fuck off!" at earthquakes is entirely futile. But we also survived, and had the opportunity to help other people.

     - Rhiana stopped going to school completely, and mostly talking to us and doing anything other than reading and watching Buffy. Boo! She cut off all her hair and started carving stuff into her walls. She's currently on a waiting list with Youth Specialty Service to see a counsellor. We're going to try having her do some of her courses by correspondence this year. Moving her to Hagley is still a possibility.

     - Kieran sat NCEA, at all three levels. Yay! He's doing physics and maths three years above his level, and his school is designed to let him do that. He loves it. He's interested in what he's doing, he has good friends - all older than he is - and he's thriving. We may not be the worst parents in the entire world after all.

     - I continued on from 2009's proud tradition of meeting fabulous, fabulous people through Public Address. I went to a test at the Basin Reserve, something I've always wanted to do. I stayed with the fabulous Megan. I don't easily make friends with women, and I've made very few really close friends since varsity. So the speed and depth of my friendship with Megan still slightly disconcerts me. She's fabulous. Also, she made me the Best Christmas Present Ever.

     - I went back on anti-depressants, and took my first ever sleeping pill. Under the circumstances, I think that's pretty understandable.


    I have things I'm looking forward to this coming year. Great Blends in Christchurch and Wellington. Further Megan-visits. The possibility of spending next Christmas (my first without my mother) in Featherston with Matt and Susan. And Megan. Also since yesterday, the possibility of meeting my friend Misty from Oklahoma. She emailed asking advice because her husband wants to come to New Zealand a shoot a deer. And as it turns out, Karl's dad used to be a hunting guide. I might even finish writing this damn novel, a process which has been much more disrupted this year than I'd expected.

    So... I guess you could say, at least it hasn't been dull.
    Thursday, December 9th, 2010
    3:41 pm
    Updating
    Okay. I phoned my mother last night, and the deterioration from the last time I spoke to her was stunning. I didn't recognise her. She can't think straight. Now, I wonder if that's because she still isn't really eating anything, and her blood sugar has simply dropped too low, but surely someone would have spotted that. Instead, they're sending her in for an MRI to see if she has, yep, a brain tumor.

    She's also been given some steroidal medication to take, though she couldn't remember what it was, what it was for, or how much she's supposed to be taking. I'm really hoping that helps, because honestly, from what I heard last night, I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't make it to Christmas.

    Anyway, I'm heading down there on Sunday, by myself, and I'll stay for... some time. That'll depend on how she is and whether she improves. There is no internet at my mother's house. There is my youngest brother, the one I really don't get on with. I dunno how this is going to go.

    I will, however, have my cellphone with me. If you don't have my number and you want it, let me know and I'll email or DM it to you. And y'know... someone has just told me that he's been trying not to bother me lately with all this on my plate, when I'd actually have really liked to see him. So please, y'know, I may not have my head together enough to reply, but I don't want to be cut off from people any more than I have to be.

    In the meantime, Karl will be at home on his own with the kids, and working. And fretting, of course. So, y'know, if anyone who wants to help out can help him...

    It is possible that I sound very calm about this. I'm shattered.
    Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
    12:31 pm
    Oh, the Irony
    I'm just making a little note clarifying the order of some events in the last couple of days, and people's motivations for them. Because speculation could come up with at least two really juicy stories around this, and neither of them would be true.

    Last night, I wrote a column for Public Address on opinion columnists. I'd been writing it in my head since those columns on the cycle deaths appeared, and after reading a blog of Deborah's about an Australian columnist. It seemed to me that here, and in Australia and the UK, there's been a growing trend for newspapers and their websites to run opinion columns which are completely irresponsible. It makes me really angry, I think papers should be just as responsible when a columnist lies as when a journalist does. So I wrote a humourous piece about it, because I'm me.

    While I was talking about it to my partner, before I'd started writing, I did mention that it had occured to me that people might think I was talking about Metro, the magazine I'm an opinion columnist for. I think people who know me would be clear that I'm not, and my core audience would know the columns I was referring to, but the idea was still there. I did consider, briefly, not doing the column because of this perceived conflict, but frankly I thought it was too good to pass up.

    This morning, after giving it a read-over, I posted it. That's fairly normal procedure for me. Then, as is also fairly normal, I did some yoga, had a shower, and put some laundry on.

    About two hours after my posting the column, I had an email from my editor at Metro advising me that they wouldn't be continuing my column next year. Work I've already filed will appear in the December issue, but I needn't start writing for January tonight.

    What I want to make very clear is that I was expecting this. Simon and I have never really been able to find a way to make my work work for Metro. Neither of us has been very comfortable with the fit. He's expressed doubts right from the start. I cannot believe that this morning's column influenced him in any way. I'm okay with the decision, except for the part where it means I have to go back to doing arsy content work to bring in dollars.

    Likewise, the column was planned and executed well before my dismissal. It was not written in revenge, nor as a sort of pre-emptive getting in first strike. There is no arsitude involved on anyone's behalf.

    There is a bunch of stuff in my life I am struggling to cope with - mostly my daughter and my mother - and the situation has deteriorated to the point where I'm now taking medication (though I still cannot physically bring myself to take a sleeping pill, it seems) but this, honest to blog, doesn't even feature.

    So, y'know, I'm okay. Or at least, I'm no worse off than I was yesterday.
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