NaPoWriMo 14

Rage cry die whatever
Develop an emotion
Experience something relatable
In its banal horror
Swallow it all and spin it
Like a spider
Spin it out your arse
Some rarefied verbal silk
I hope it’s valuable
Even moths can earn you dollar
In this world.

NaPoWriMo 14

Skin

Question: What’s the most annoying thing about having skin? Is it the fact that it is weak and thin, the only thing standing between your innards and the outside world, a horribly breakable membrane? Is it its sensitivity to environmental damage, whether that be cold, central heating, air conditioning, low humidity, excessive humidity, insect bites, gorse bushes, or axe-wielding maniacs?
Does  skin’s weakness to poor diet, food intolerances, and contact allergies get you down? I’m not even starting on the internally generated quirks skin can inflict, from the well known yet remarkably varied and unpredictable reactions to hormonal changes, to auto-immune generated eczema and psoriasis. And there’s a whole catalogue of things that I’m not even medically qualified to mention, although I recommend that anyone curious browses the dermatology section of a medical training textbook sometime. 
 
Annoying skin, while obviously not the worst issue facing humanity, is… annoying. Having a dry flaky face makes me feel less able to face the world. I already have social anxiety, feeling my skin split when I smile doesn’t exactly make social encounters feel mutually rewarding. Eczema makes me itch and then people on public transport back away in case I have fleas. Spots make me feel like an idiot teenager. Wrinkles make me feel like an idiot teenager trapped in the body of an ageing Auntie.
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Me, in the dark, so you can’t see the red flaking skin round my mouth. Cool hat tho.
 
So, in an effort to cure my many, many problems I tried making my own skin stuff. Stuff from shops is all either way too expensive or made of garbage that doesn’t help in any way. And that’s without even starting on the animal testing, plastic packaging, petrochemical byproducts, and so on. Just trying to choose the correct, non-poisonous, effective skincare product is enough to cause a stress-induced breakout. 
 
So the news is that I’m becoming a punchable middle-class hippy cliche making my own skincare line. The good news is that you too can try my stuff. It’s made out of ingredients that I understand, and that are not toxic or massively destructive to the world (as far as is possible while having to negotiate capitalist structures while doing this). I got no illusions of this being an amazing revolutionary act, but it’s my new venture, trying to support positive stuff in the world while unfucking my fucked up skin. Mainly it’s fully reactionary, because fuck looking like I have some kind of face disease and walking around trying to subtly scratch myself under my clothes. 
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The first ever batch of Magical Skin Unfucking Salve. I’m told it smells very pleasant. 
Since I was a kid I’ve loved making potions, and I finally managed to make a useful one. I want to share that joy with the world. I’ve had eczema for years. And I haven’t managed to cure myself, probably because it’s caused by eating dairy, and you can pry my cheese from my cold, dead, horribly blistered hands. But my Unfucking Salve at least gets rid of the pain and inflammation and itching and shame for a while, when steroid creams have long become useless. This may be one of the first practically useful things I have ever created. Sat here now trying to think of any genuinely useful inventions I’ve got to my name, and really drawing a blank. If i can help the increasing legions of people who are annoyed by their skin, cumulatively that could make the world a very slightly better place. And if I can also persuade people to use stuff made out of local, non-carcinogenic, traditionally made ingredients, maybe the environment and humanity will be better off. Of course, burning down Unilever would be more effective, but that would also release a lot of toxins and particulates into the atmosphere, as well as landing me in trouble because ‘arson is illegal’ or some such bullshit. 
So instead of a campaign of pyromania, I’ll now be trying to formulate, alchemize, compound, invent, and whack together, some more beneficial skin stuffs. I’ve got a face cream trialling on myself at the moment, and I’ve had a shockingly low amount of spots so far. Like 2 tiny dots all week, rather than the usual uncountable multitude that outnumbers the very stars. 
In the interests of ethics and scientific enquiry, I’m testing all products on myself, my friends,and my mum. Which is way more ethical than these bunch. For once, I am not the literal worst, and that is quite heartening.
All right, I’m off to research the most environmentally friendly and non-toxic types of lotion containers, because this is my life now. Peace out, and if you have any skincare needs, give me a shout, I could provide you some amazing miraculous snake oil, mates rates, organic, and locally produced.
All I need now is a name for this lil enterprise. Suggestions on a postcard (or in the comments section). Selected winner gets a prize!
Skin

2016 Review

I made goals a year ago. And then reviewed them on my birthday. There may be a sense of deja vu starting to set in. Spoiler alert: I did not yet become a cyclist, or a journalist. I still can’t knit or play the violin. I have started playing the the penny whistle though. I’m sure the neighbours love it.

So, let’s start with some positives. 2016 was a good year in a lot of ways. I started, and stuck at therapy. DBT seems to be helping. I love the people I share a group with, and the camaraderie we have in learning to live in our lives, and make lives we want to live in. It can be all kinds of hard work and sometimes you find out things about yourself you’d rather not face, but better that than the previous mess. Still a bit of a mess, but… maybe, slowly, I’m getting there. It’s an upward spiral, maybe. A labyrinth, possibly. But despite the wrong turns and confusion (and the odd Minotaur hiding in a dark corner), there does seem to be some kind of change. And a change is as good as a rest, right? I don’t feel so constantly crazy. Though I’m definitely not “cured”, whatever that would mean.

I still help out with Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity, in the warehouse. Just last night, 40+ people were there, making a heroic and successful effort to load a shipping container full of clothing and other needed supplies for Syria. I don’t feel like this is something to boast about though, more something that I’m honoured to be a part of, even in a small way.

Oh, and I did run that half marathon, and do that abseil for sponsorship money. I also ran a stall at the Padley Festive Fair? which collectively raised over £400 for the Padley Group charity, which works with some of the most vulnerable people in Derby.

I am still living in Derbyshire, and have somewhat made peace with that. So much beautiful countryside, and some really good people doing brilliant social activism and creative works. I’ve been travelling more lately though, mostly within England seeing friends, but to Italy as well for Christmas.

I got a poetry book published, and done something that I never really thought would happen: I’ve developed a certain amount of confidence performing live. I’ve actually got on stage and enjoyed it, rather than just feeling overwhelming dread the whole time. (Although the dread is still there.) This spoken word/reading out loud/actually speaking my words to real live people thing is beautiful. Sharing energy, communicating, that’s powerful. Thank you to City-Zen and Word Wise especially, for hosting such powerful and amazing nights.

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A craptastically blurry pic, but the only one I’ve got of me onstage slaying and that.

I’ve loved and lost and suffered and learned. I’m grateful for the good times. And there were so many good times. Hopefully I’ll learn the right lessons, from the bad times. Twice this year I’ve left a man. Now I’m single and need to be. Not for rancour and isolation. I just need to turn into a real person, before I can be good for someone else. I need to learn my own edges before I blur them into someone else’s reflection.

Friends are love. I’m sorry for neglecting you and missing you and the trials of living scattered across counties, countries, continents.

Thank you all for the good times. We’ve had some adventures.

I’m grateful for my family. I’m back living with my parents. I’m amazed they’ll still have me. I lose count of how many times I’ve come crashing back down to here, to rebuild in this nest. There have been many gatherings and events and meetings, not least the wonderful wedding festival of my cousin. Just, love to the whole enormous crew who I am not going to list and name because we are a sizeable tribe and you don’t want to be here al day.

This year has left me feeling depleted. I’ve known for a while I was running out of energy, burning the candle at both ends, failing to nourish and replenish and all that. There have been some truly horrible times where I didn’t know how I could possibly survive. But, I did. There have been people lost. Real people we knew, not celebrities. Although their families must be suffering the same grief as any, and damn I did love Leonard Cohen. But it’s not at all the same. I’m not going to do a list of loss and trauma and fear. But it’s always there in this life, ocean always wearing away at the sand, chaos always waiting to spin us off into the void. It’s dark out there.

In a wider context, this has been a frightening year. We watched with grief and rage as Syrian children drowned, as Donald Trump was elected, as racist attacks and hate crimes rose as fear and rage seemed to convulse a world spinning wildly between the end of one era and the beginning of the next. What the fuck is going to happen? Who knows? 2016 has been a year where running away to live in the woods has seemed like a more attreactive option than before.

Running on mania, running on fumes, then running out of fumes, running on gritted teeth and coffee and alcohol. Eventually everything crashes. So I go into 2017 with less energy than before, feeling old and foolish, but with optimism that I’ll be able to come back from this.

Nature has nourished me deeply, has been a refuge and saviour and source of deep joy. This is what I plan to delve into more deeply, to return to and explore this year and all the years.

Much love. May 2017 open for you like a flower, and may you learn what you need to, before you are forced to.

As for 2016, I rate it 3/7. 4/7 if it hadn’t killed Carrie Fisher just at the end, just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse.

 

 

2016 Review

Running again!

Apparently I don’t learn, because after nearly crippling myself last year, I’m running the Tenby Half-Marathon again! But maybe I learned a little bit, because I have been training, and can definitely run for at least an hour. The race will be more like 3 hours, but never mind. It’s progress.

And I’m now begging for money again. Not for myself, but for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. Their main fundraising page there details the work they do, and how absolutely necessary it is. They are an amazing grassroots organization who are giving a lot of time and energy to help those in desperate need. They help refugees across Europe and beyond, from France to Greece to Syria.

So…

SPONSOR ME, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

Running again!