Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Nice to be Nice

No one is perfect, I am far from. I have in the past hurt people, lied, cheated and been flippant with others feelings. Shouted at the wrong colleagues and taken frustration out on the anonymous woman in the tax office. These are rare moments in my life that I regret and am not proud of. However, as a general rule, I find it is nice to be nice and would probably be described as a ‘Supporting’ person.

I’m sure we all know one or more supporters. Characteristically they are empathetic, good listeners, open and sharing with a positive attitude towards life. They are rarely intentionally mean because they punish themselves too much. Whilst the rest of the world appears to have little consideration for transportation etiquette, they are distraught that they did not let the elderly women sit down on the tube.

Supporters generally want people around them to be happy, often taking on the responsibility of making others lives easier. Mothers are the most natural supporters. Mine regularly passes on helpful advice. ‘Healthy mind, healthy body. Tidy your flat and do some exercise, you’ll feel much better’. No, YOU may but I’ll feel better with 20 Marlboro Lights and a double vodka.

It is not a selfless act to support others. Subconsciously I feel good; I have a sense of purpose and concentrating on others is a great avoidance tactic from dealing with negative feelings and possibly plummeting into life’s lows. But, how depressing when the way I treat others is sometimes not reciprocated.

My tall, self-centred friend, Gina’s name flashes away on my phone. She has remembered to return my calls, surely offering condolences on recent bereavements. With a warm feeling of being loved I eagerly answer the phone, only to hear muffled voices. She accidentally dialled my number whilst sitting on her blackberry.

I’m bored of this now! Friends, work colleagues, neighbours be warned; no more Miss Nice. I’m rebelling, temporarily taking a support-free sabbatical and being kind only to myself. If it’s not about me I do not want to know, and yes I did shout ‘You arse’ at Gina’s arse before slamming the phone down.

I will no longer retaliate with understanding and kindness if I am dismissed or treated badly. Honesty is my new policy. To the girl I recently slept with, no you were not honest with me, yes you did hurt me and to find out you’re back with your ex by a news-feed on Facebook, is just cruel. Oh and by the way lazy lovers become really tedious!

To Dr Donald A Quentin my incredibly rude neighbour, living in a 2-bedroomed flat with what seems like 8 other family members, various electric road vehicles and runs a stationary business in the communal entrance. Next time I’m polite and say good morning, do something more than grunt or else you may find the battery to your electric car unplugged and uncharged on a daily basis.

Oh, and to the mutual friend who had an affair with my ex you really are a c##t and no not as a term of endearment.

Consider who are your supporters? Who calls you in your hour of need? If you have not heard from them in a while they may be in need of a friend and too independent to ask for help. So Gina, Dr Donald, Lazy Lover and a Mutual Friend, before your supporters rebel, get out of your bubble and why don’t you pick up the phone ask ‘how are you?’ It won’t take long and it’s nice to be nice.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pop Tarts

Now, before I lose any respect that I may have had, I need to explain something. I am a self confessed lover of ‘Cheesy Pop’. I am secure in my trashy music taste, limited acoustic knowledge and I do not shy away from the pop calendars aimed at under 10 years olds.

Life can be heavy enough without listening to James Blunt and joining Suicide Anonymous. Or holding a razor to my wrist as I stare dreamily out of the window whilst Damian - ‘O’ my god someone shut him up - Rice drones on in the background. Music for me is uplifting and I avoid overly emotional or depressing songs at all costs. However, I could never imagine the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced when yesterday I turned on the music channel. First euphoria, then confusion shortly followed by despair as I witness my idol standing in front of a camcorder looking like a smacked up hooker gyrating badly in front of a pole. The VMA awards were distressing enough, but this….

Who the hell is managing Ms Spears on a personal and professional level because whoever you are, what are you thinking of? I like her new song and wait in anticipation for the release of her new album but wake up; Britney is blatantly in need of therapy. She needs resilience training, some direction, a chance to grow her hair and time to see her children. It pains me to say but Britney does not have the raw talent of Winehouse, her kudos does not rise if she forgets to wear her thong, marries an idiot and shaves her head.

Britney is an old fashioned entertainer. A West End/Broadway Theatre one women show, the love child of Liberace and Madonna – you get the glitter and the sex with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek. This has always come across in her concerts and her videos which is why I am baffled that her latest promo is one step up from Paris Hilton’s home-made sleaze video. Before the lyrics to ‘Everytime’ become her eulogy and Elton sings ‘Oops I did it again’ at her funeral, please will someone help her!

When I think it can’t get any worse, I find myself half listening to a boring talentless female singer on the radio. As the song continues I suddenly recognise a distinct and different singing voice and the horrific realisation overwhelms me. I have to do everything in my power to not break down sobbing on the kitchen floor. It can only be the Spice Girls reunion song as no one else sings like Mel C.

I and so many others did not buy tickets to the upcoming show or wait 10 years to hear ‘We are back, back again, we said our friendship would never end’. Would I lie and write the words ‘You thought that we had gone away, now you know we are here to stay’ yes I would for £10 million, but no ladies, you are not here to stay. You’re going to do one world tour, take the cash, retire and avoid having anymore children with Dr Dolittle. And who could blame you, but please don’t release any more ‘Headline’ songs or sing them at the concert.

Why do pop dreams have to end? Why can’t Popworld be the one place where everything stays cool and rosy? Come on, you’re all pop stars; you have charmed lives, just humour us that you’re having a great time – Please! I’m sure that being thrust into the limelight, chased by the paparazzi and having every little thing you do scrutinized by the world’s media is fun, right? What’s the problem? I have to work with Keith from Accounts!

Come on Pop Tarts, before your time is up! Leona Lewis is about to blow all of you out of the water with her talent factor. The song is fantastic, she looks great and she can sing. Ok, so give her two years in the musicsphere and she’ll probably collapse like a house of cards!

See, this is what happens in therapy. If you remove one emotional brick the rest can so easily crumble and in my case instead of thinking about the funeral of a family friend I am attending next week, ‘Cheesy Pop’ has temporarily become my focus.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Resilience Training

It’s Wednesday morning and I have no idea what the woman is talking about! I am in an air conditioned boardroom with a suitable amount of tea and coffee and 30 other people staring at a PowerPoint presentation about what I thought was how to be resilient at work. Following several hours of confusion as to why we are here, I Google resilience just to check that my understanding of the word is correct.

After learning I am here to learn how to spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed I feel a lot better! I quickly create a Chinese whisper on my Google findings to the other 30 confused participants who arrh and um, then stare at the door waiting for the yoga teacher to arrive.

The two days are broken by a works team bonding dinner. I get stuck with Keith from Accounts. After the tenth story of his bands sex, drugs and rock and roll excess aka him and a mate playing down the local social club, I feel justified in making my excuses and leaving.

The training did not become clearer and at the end of day two and still no yoga teacher, the group make a public display of despair at the pointlessness of the course by ramming their heads against the tables (and not bouncing back!). To find some purpose in my working week, I contemplate what it means to be resilient and how it’s translated into everyday life.

Life can be viewed as a glass bubble. Some experiences smudge the glass, others crack it whilst certain traumas can break the bubble completely. Is it to be resilient to ensure the glass is only temporarily shattered? There are scales of trauma that happen and each of us react and deal with them in different ways.

Cousin Angela nearly had a nervous breakdown when she realised that she’d run out of Columbian Dry Roast coffee to serve her guests at the end of a successful dinner party whilst Old Ms Cats-and-Clocks down the road seemed to cope with her beloved Tiddles being flattened by the dustbin lorry with a dignified silence. So, how can we put things into perspective? After all, the washing machine flooding the kitchen floor really shouldn’t score as high in the trauma stakes as a cancer diagnosis.

We have and hear stories that bring a tear to our eyes. For example my Mum is having a terrible time at the moment, my father is terminally ill, one close friend has just died and whilst writing this I got the call to say my Mum’s best friend has died from an aggressive brain tumour. At the moment life can only be explained as being very sad and very, very heavy and all involved are justifiably struggling. But throughout the despair and however difficult, I have no doubt that the individual’s resilience will prevail.

I feel the heaviness around me because I love my parents, their friends and want to be strong for all. Do they need to be resilient? No, not at this moment, they need to look after themselves and know the glass breaking is temporary. They are resilient and they will bounce back, they are positive strong people who have stared adversity in the face before. In fact, I wonder if resilience is something that can be learnt in a boardroom or is it something that you learn from life experience and watching your loved ones cope with the things that life throws at them?

My Mum has always had a cool and calm exterior, she is the archetypal type that keeps her head while all around are losing theirs. Luckily this has rubbed off on me and at times when I falter and in need of a bit of reassurance she is always on call for a resilience pep talk. It’s also comforting that in her hour of need I can return the favour.

I wonder if I should send a memo around to my 30 other Resilience Training cohorts giving them my Mum’s phone number. But then selfishly I don’t want her hotline clogged up with the likes of Keith from Accounts – he’ll probably call her everytime his three audience members fall asleep during his set. Oh my God, after witnessing his ten minute acoustic rendition of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ this is probably going to be a frequent occurrence.

I guess if Mum’s line is engaged I could always call my Aunty Pat. Oh no hang on, if Cousin Angela is freaking out over the lack of coffee perhaps she has enough on her plate… Maybe it’s time to realise that I have in fact bounced back enough to trust my own resilience. I can stretch and bend with the best of them.

Do we want to be defined by the traumas that test us or is it not better to be defined by how we fight back and survive against the odds?

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Saturday morning and I’m piecing my Friday night together. Work, pub, no food and a bottle of wine. I also have a hazy recollection of having an internet argument with Catwoman about whether I was biphobic! No it is not having two phobias, but someone who has a dislike for people attracted to both sexes. Judging from my head ache this morning I doubt my responses were very intelligent.

With a large coffee in front of me, I cringe and check the 'Lesbian Guide to London' notice board, and to my surprise I really think I have offended certain people. The last comment suggesting there is 'no place for biphobia on a notice board intended for lesbian and bisexual women'.

These biphobia complaints stem from my ideal partner check list, where I stated I wanted to go out with someone 100% gay, in order to avoid driving myself insane thinking they may leave me for a man.

I have continued to think about the issue of biphobia over the weekend and having read the more recent comments posted-you know what? I do agree with those who responded. I did, however unintentionally, act discriminately to a group of people and yes, it is completely illogical to fear a bisexual woman would leave you for a man.

Through my own experience and in order to save my sanity in a future relationship, it is my choice to be with someone who knows they only want to be with women but following this debate, I'm questioning that! What I actually want is to be with someone so comfortable with their sexuality that it is not an issue. Also someone who wants to be in a relationship with minimal complication; I am certain this later desire is unachievable!

What I am struggling with is when does a bisexual woman become classed as a lesbian, or do they not? For example, I was with men, I then fell in love with a woman. If I had to be categorised then I was bisexual as never ruled men out. After 10 years, no men and several female relationships later, I would have to label myself as gay. So, if you are in a long term relationship and you want to spend your lives together does that woman label herself as gay or if asked does she always say she's bisexual? I have a suggestion to the gay/bi community, why not delete all labels and just be women who like women, if not all of the time?

A phobia is an excessive fear, dislike and a desire to avoid the feared subject. I have a phobia for spiders, legwarmers and extremists whether political or religious. I am afraid of people who blow planes up or hang out on Clapham Common waiting to beat and murder gay people. What I am not afraid of are women who like both sexes. I would not provoke lesbians bi-bashing online or in the Candy Bar. Where do we draw the line with political correctness and is biphobia really as issue? Are the owners of the website biphobic because unless reading the terms & conditions there is no mention of bisexual women?

This debate has broadened my opinion and altered my perception of sexuality. At the end of the day the one thing I do know is regardless of sexual preference, women are complicated. Thankfully and appropriately I will be spending the next 2 days in Resilience Training!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My family

My bad day progressed into a bad week. I felt uninspired to write, go out and even talk to people. On my way to therapy this week I had a moment of clarity, my lack of motivation was not PMT, it’s because I am stuck with my emotions.

My therapy has been focussed on my family and this is the hardest subject for me to address. Too much love in a family can cause as much damage as neglect, so how do you criticise and admit to having negative thoughts about your family if you grew up comfortably in the middle of the extremes, in a loving, healthy, free environment. My parents brought me up living by the values that make me the person I am and when looking back at my childhood I am lucky enough to say it was very happy. What the hell have I got to complain about?

I now know if I can not be honest with myself and the other two SLAGS who read this (see ‘A Bad Day’ if you think I am being insulting!) then who can I be honest with?

My parents are traditional on paper, my sister is the same. She lives the ‘perfect’ life; she has the husband, the family, the house, the job and at school I was overshadowed by her intelligence and drive for success. This resulted in me slowly building boundaries around me. The reality was she felt shadowed by my lust for life, my spontaneity and to this day has expressed jealousy of my choices and freedom; so why did I put the boundaries up? Somewhere in the subconscious I saw myself as imperfect because I was gay, this was self imposed and had ‘almost’ no correlation with the reality of how my family treated me.

Now, I realise I am not betraying them by accepting that my childhood was not perfect and my parents should not have been on the pedestal I put them on. They are not perfect and at times their opinions and actions have caused me to lose a part of my own identify in later life, and that’s ok, it is not their fault because they are only human. I understand this clarity is a little naive but until I wrote about it I knew I'd stay stuck!

We have layers of our personality that are ours and some we have absorbed from our parents and siblings. When peeling back and acknowledging the layers we can choose which to discard and which to take forward into adult life to form our own true identify... and then screw up our own children!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A bad day!

The self discovery path is not all enlightened moments, clarity and overwhelming inner calm because sometimes you just have a sodding bad day! I have quit smoking, have outrageous PMT, am being completely irrational and my evil twin sister is going to get me fired soon. If you tell me the sun is yellow I’ll argue it’s green, have a tantrum then burst into tears, today I am a pleasure to be around.

So why the rant? From leaving the house to arriving at work my hair turned into a weird fraggle rock frizz and with the lack of a portable dehumidifier, work colleagues have entered me into the Diana Ross looky-likey contest and I may win. The P in PMT means I feel I am carrying a third more of my normal body weight around and I’ve already cried twice as I realised by definition I am a feminist, no not the Daily Mail 'bra burning, hairy, man hating' portrayal but yes, I do advocate women’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes as clearly stated in the New Oxford Dictionary.

I later find out that my ex had an affair with a mutual friend when she was still with me. This was bad enough but over the years I carried the guilt of believing it was me that ruined the relationship. To top it off I’ve spent an evening in Soho wondering where have all the women gone and how will I ever meet any when they are at home with their partners, watching the L Word and feeding the cat? Today I am a fat single lesbian feminist with frizzy hair!

To counterbalance my negative day, I need to stop complaining and do something positive. To start with, I am banning the word FINE (F**ked off, Insignificant, Negative and Empty) and campaigning to have the word C**T introduced as a term of endearment. This will allow me to regularly use the word, not get fired and not feel bad when referring to a ‘mutual friend’ as one.

In order to find women with similar interests, I need to be the connecter and start my own social networking group. It’s going to be called the Society for Lesbians Against Generalised Stereotypes or in short – SLAGS. We’ll meet monthly in a Stoke Newington pool hall, eat a fish supper, discuss the literate complexities of ‘Oranges are not the only fruit’ and plan an annual trip to Lesbos. Anyone interested?

My friends and I prided ourselves on the fact we did not fit into the lesbian stereotypes, we didn’t wear Doc Martins, carry keys on chains; we ate meat, we weren’t overly political and we certainly didn’t swap partners. Oh, how we fooled ourselves, we have all slept with each other if not physically but by proxy, and now I know my ex slept with a friend, my by proxy list has trebled. Maybe on the first SLAGS meeting we can track our relationship links in a very ‘L word’-esque way and prove the six degrees of separation theory.

In the big picture, my day wasn’t that bad, no one died and life is generally good. I essentially only have PMT and feel like a rant but f**k it we’re all allowed to have a bad day!