Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nothing in this blog post will be news.

Fuck, you know, I've tried to fucking "sculpt" an opening paragraph three times now. This isn't going to be a technically skilled piece of writing. It isn't going to have a structure that means anything to anyone but me.

Last night was not so much a breaking point as a an unexpected bubble making it to the surface. The tearstorm came out of nowhere. A conversation about devops suddenly careened into empathy and then I found myself sobbing into my hands and blubbering all over J. Which, being someone with depressive issues, isn't actually that out of character, but I hadn't spotted it coming. In fact I'd had a good day, was feeling fine. I thought I was.

Originally I'd been working 11 till 4. My own confidence growing and some crunch time at work led to an extension of my hours and my joining the 9-5 crowd for a week. Only one week. Not counting Wednesday. That's all I lasted. On Wednesday I slept until 3pm. On the weekend I did the same. Right now I'm using a mouse only with my left hand, because the increased hours simply resulted in me doing myself an injury. With a computer mouse. To my right intercostal. Which affects everything I do, including breathing.

It's a pattern established over six years. Change my work routine and set up, and something inside me will break. When I was a House Elf I had tendonitis from scrubbing the fucking showers in the bed & breakfast. At FOI I had to go part-time. Before that at my data-entry role, my body...broke. And I had to just leave and get another job. Actually that's what I did with FOI as well: I left the country, became a House Elf, and failed differently. Six years of failing, and being in pain for trying.

This time I'm in a completely new organisation, and it feels like having a fresh audience. In front of which I am failing. Again.

How can I plan for my future when I can't even control my capabilities in the present? I'm coasting along on the goodwill of others, and that's what my future requires, and it isn't something that can be taken for granted.

I'm just so tired of this. A positive frame of mind doesn't even come into it. I'm happy if I can keep my mind quiet, because it takes so little for all my frustrations and anguish to stir and stampede. It all just feeds my depression until I just look at the massive beast it has become and shrug.

There's no way out but through.

ETA: I think it's especially sharp-edged this time as my current work environment is amazing. A small comfortable office in which everyone actually does their job and gives a shit, and few people actually complain. I want to live up to that. And I all my aches and pains mean I have to make decisions which ensure that I can't. I don't want to be dead weight.

Today I also discovered that typing, not just using the mouse, aggravates my injury. This cuts into my editing work. Nowhere is safe. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

Chronic

A dear friend of mine recently brought two articles to my attention. The first I read, Women with Fibromyalgia Have A Real Pathology Among Nerve Endings to Blood Vessels in the Skin, (pdf) is a concise description of an actual, recognisable, testable THING relating to fibromyalgia. The first. Ever. It's also the first time I've read something discussing the symptoms of fibromyalgia and had it gel with my own experiences. It explains my awful tenderness, which seems to be the longest lasting of my symptoms. When I think back to where I was living when my pain levels were at their worst - a one-bedroom flat with no insulation, no heating and windows that didn't seal - I can't help but wonder if perhaps there is not only some correlation, but causation.

A moderate climate would go a long way toward explaining my current state of wellbeing. 'Wellbeing', that is, not merely 'being'. Although I've deteriorated somewhat since it has become too cold to swim regularly (I took a dip not two days ago and fuck me I won't be doing that again), I have not done so nearly as much as I'd anticipated. I still feel pretty good. My energy levels are mostly in the green.

Definitely something to keep in mind next time we move.

The second article is What is Wrong With Me? (pdf), and it is written by someone with a chronic condition, for people with chronic conditions. It's a story we are all familiar with. Some peculiar flex in my guts forced me to stop reading when O'Rourke stated the years it took to get a diagnosis, which is a statistical average. She goes on to acknowledge the particular conflict a person with a chronic condition must contain within their being, in that we must advocate for our illnesses while at the same time be resistant to conflagrating these same illnesses. She acknowledges the resistance to a shifting baseline.

It was something I needed to read. It's probably something I'll need to read time and again. I encourage all who have any chronic condition to read this article. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Captured on the 373 on longline

It's not necessarily summer, but the season is at home on this remote shore. We've made the trek from the distant road side, through the lazy sand dunes with half-buried grasses and rushes bowing before and eternal breeze. There is no path, and our feet sink into the fine dry sand with every set, our balance already compromised by blue eskies and beach chairs and umbrellas. There are no trees for miles so we must bring our own shelter.

It is not a vigorous beach, nor an overly safe one. The waves, a deep jade in the shallows falling into a brittle blue darkness limning the horizon, wash the beach with amiable indifference. Marring the wet sand is a chaotic mess of gull prints, the gulls themselves long gone.

The light is timeless. The concept of night has no place in the noon world. We dig in, alone for hours in all directions, the clinkhiss of open beers sounding before the chairs have been set up. Someone has brought along good speakers, and we dance as we toss picnic blankets and towels down, fumbling for oil-drenched olives in jars with too narrow a mouth and tearing apart fresh crusty loaves to slather with rich chunky dips and chutneys. We are so free here, there aren't even planes in the sky to remind us of the rest of the world.

Our picnic is a feast and we graze heartily. Some of us play beach cricket, badly. Some of us swim out past the break of the waves and paddle quietly, rolling with the fluid surface and seeing no shadows in the water. We wander distant among the dunes, unconcerned about losing each other, finding tiny treasures hidden in the tussocks. Beneath our umbrellas - a bouquet of enormous flowers discarded on the shore for us to hide in - we doze, cradled and nuzzled by the warm, loving air, our dreams lined with salt.

Later, when the long afternoon has tilted gently and drunkenly into an equally prolonged evening, with a sunset shy about the colours it paints with, we fall silent, eyes to that featureless horizon, and wait.

It begins with a flash of light which does not diminish, but grows with a sense of intent, small yet determined, just on the curve of the Earth. It's bright, brighter than any of us, and ponderously slow, it begins to lift from the ground. Watching it struggle, we are aware of gravity as we have never been before, and strain with the rocket to break free, to rise, rise, rise leaving a wake of smoke and lighting up the ocean for miles. Now the sound has finally reached us, a grumble and moan that feel completely unrelated to the miracle before us. This rising star paints the cloud underbelly with a light golden glow before punching through, filling the belly itself with an internal fire, quickly extinguished as the rocket leaves our sky and our world and never once looks back.

It is the first of many. It will be a long night. 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Tessa New Year & It's Lack of Importance

Despite talking to mum on Tuesday, and her saying "I'll talk to you Thursday," it didn't stick.
Despite skyping a hot couple yesterday, and them saying, "Happy birthday for tomorrow!" it didn't stick.
Despite my brother sending me an SMS first thing in the morning, and my mum again, and my best friend, it wasn't until dad called and my initial reaction was "Oh shit, something's happened, SOMEONE HAS DIED," that it finally sunk in.

Okay, today marks 33 orbits of the our star for me. It's a birthday, and usually people make a fuss out of these things, and I like to quietly mark them, but honestly, I couldn't attach any weight to this event if it begged me to.

This isn't because I'm distracted, busy or stressed. I think it's simply because there are things I am more excited about, things that a birthday just can't compete against.

I look forward to visiting Melbourne in a couple of weeks and leaping upon people I haven't seen for a year, and people I haven't seen for a month, and seeing my beloved dogs and sitting at the kitchen table and chatting to my family.

I look forward to J coming home every day.

I don't look forward much, to be honest. There's no need.

Every day is pretty nice.

Given the tumult of the last couple of years – not all of it bad – it's really nice to get to a space like the one I find myself in. It's calm and comfortable, and it's precious.

I've love to spare right now, so you can have it. I love you muchly, and I wish warmth upon you. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wedding Cake Island

The wiki article tells it all. It's a pile of rocks in Coogee Bay

What the article fails to mention is that it moves. It must move. Every time I look at the sea and it is in view it isn't where I expect it to be. Even just walking down the hill to the shops, which is my most common view of it, it isn't where it should be!

I'm not the only one who has noticed this.

The floating island in Discworld was a temporary build up of gas, which, when it dissipated, caused the island to sink again.

Doctor Doolittle's floating island was in fact a giant snail. Or wait, tortoise? I think he went along the sea floor in a giant sea snail.

This island is a pile of rocks.

And yet.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dear Diary

Today was brilliant. I didn't sleep in too far, and gave myself a slow enough wake up/get up process that I felt absolutely fine, instead of shellshocked. The sun wasn't too hot, but lovely and deliciously warm and bright. The roll I ate while I walked was also delicious. We saw a cormorant fishing the rocks by the Clovelly cliffs, as if the dashing waves were just a dream. Clovelly was calm, with no swell and slap-happy waves, and so clear. The water bit us cold as we dove in, but Clovelly is full of different waters, and we passed through warm and cold waters alike. Right by the stairs, as if waiting for us, was Big Bluey, the dominant blue groper. An entourage of wrassers and bream followed him, and then smaller striped fish, toad fish and the odd goat fish. Such a glorious velvet blue. I'd never seen him before. Well over one metre long, big enough to grab and throw whole fair sized rocks while grazing. He was unfazed by our presence, and simply continued doing his business. Saw another two smaller females, and a smaller male. Each with entourage. The garfish have grown and grown, and the school is full now of thick ribbons of silver weaving away from me. With the water clear and the sun bright, their subtle colouring became vibrant. Blue shot through the tail, red down the dorsal. Never alone. I saw a small groper missing its upper jaw. Not an open wound, all healed. It was hiding in a crevice. I could see its teeth. Little nubs of enamel, four of them. We sat on the warm concrete and let the sun dry us and cuddle the cold from us. "John's Seagulls" were in court near us; two gulls who get handfed by John pieces of his sandwich, and who do an excellent job of keeping every single other bird away. This exchange takes place apparently every day. One of these gulls had white talons, which in its red webbing looked odd. Then we walked to Gordon's Bay, and clambered over barnacle-crusted boulders. The water here too was calm, and clear, and so deliciously warm. We waded in with ease, until I fell off the drop off. The sand of the seabed was pale and perfect, with small dunes laid down by the waves above, and goat fish leaving frenzied calligraphy on those dunes with their two chin whiskers as they fossicked for snacks. More wrassers, more bream, and many dark wrinkled medium sized fish that simply lay on the seafloor as if terribly depressed. We went looking for the stingarees, but none were to be found. The water was clear and the sand so bare, like floating over a pristine desert. And then I saw it, first thinking it was a clump of seaweed which had broken its mooring, turning to look at it and seeing a sea turtle. Gliding against that white sand backdrop. It caught sight of me and changed its path to give me a safe berth. The gropers of Clovelly have spoiled us with their relaxed and non-threatened nature. This turtle was shy. Once it figured out we were following it, it put the speed on, and without flippers we could not keep up. Extraordinary and completely unhoped for. We tried to high five while treading water and it didn't work. A couple had joined us on the rocks, with an 11 month old Great Dane called Julius, a younger Great Dane pup with enormous feet, and a wee Jack Russell called Troy. They were standing waist deep in the water, trying to get Julius in with them, and he wanted to, he so wanted to obey his human, but this water business. He just didn't know about it. He started barking and wuffing when his humans got too deep for his liking, poor silly boofhead. When we got out, he came over to say hello. Had no idea how big he is and stepped all over us, tried to sit on us. Lovely floppy dog. The puppy was adorable, and Troy came to sit next to us in the sun and get a good back scratch. There's nothing that can cause a grin like a happy dog, let alone three. We basked in the sun some more, and then parted ways. I feel so incredibly buoyant and clean and fresh. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jade & Free

J noticed it first. "I think getting out of the water made you sad."

It isn't enough to enjoy swimming in the sea. The ending of such enjoyment does not lead to sadness, which is a rare emotion to surface, so often with other feelings stealing its name. A small enigma. The next time I left the ocean I paid attention.

It's the tangible, palpable, measurable return of gravity that presses down on my heart. It's experiencing the return of the complete heaviness of my body, including the weakness in my muscles and the dense weight of my bones. Once again it requires effort to remain upright, effort to merely walk, effort to lift my arms from my side, effort to hold up my head, and all the threads of my movement, once again, sigh.

It's a raising of awareness of the corporeal prison I will never escape, and the nature of the long-standing frivolous agonies it contains. Not, I must clarify, a raising of pain. Simply a raising of awareness and direct attention.

This reminder shadows the experience of being in the water. Of feeling almost weightless, and all my movements, grand or fine, seem so easy. There is no heaviness in my body. I imagine I can almost be capable of grace.

It's jade. Varying shades of. When it is clouded this jade is deep, rich and dark, an incredible colour to gaze into. If blue sky is looking down then the jade is bright and strong, and if the sun touches the water it is slashed with bands of pale gold and it is almost turquoise. To immerse yourself in such wealth and purity of colour can draw out a gasp slowly. With grace.

I can contort myself freely. Treading water requires no energy or effort or even conscious thought, and so I can hang suspended and free indefinitely. I can climb up waves three times my height and only be breathless from squealing. Spiraling, diving, twisting and spinning. I will strain myself. It doesn't take much. A few seconds of vigorous swimming, or fighting my ridiculous natural buoyancy to touch the sea floor. Even then, the effort required is something different. Rather than straining against the limits of my body, it feels as though I'm straining against the water. The battle line is external, rather than internal.

That is what the water gives me. A moment of respite.

Getting out of the water does indeed make me sad.