originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mainliners Mentoring Conference in Glasgow

I get up at 6am to catch a train from mum's in Prestonpans to the Waverley, and then one to Glasgow Queen Street. It's a beautiful morning - bitterly cold, yet not frosty. There's a strange music to my journey... I'm so accustomed to English voices, being surrounded by this old/new harmony is strangely dislocating.

It feels like an adventure; now that's interesting. That's about enthusiasm and joie de vivre - and energy. If you have no energy, everything is too much effort.

Carlton Hill looms on the right, Salisbury Crag on the left. Quick train change, and I'm torn between writing and looking - the familiar crenellations of Princes Street edging the gardens between Waverley and Haymarket, the looming grandeur of the castle rising atop its rugged outcrop of rock.

Linlithgow next stop - this music, I miss. The naming of place; there's a sense of my history encapsulated in the syllables of the names of the landscape I grew up in.

The three tower blocks at Sighthill, by Stevenson College, remind me of Barton Hill. Looking at the roads on the industrial estate, there are vague associations in my memory to something unsavoury but somehow surreal. False memory, dream wisp? This close to Cathcart Place, it's unlikely to be that kind of memory...

The cuttings are a bit boring visually - too fast to take in much of the detail of the plants, although you do get flashes of colour. The cuttings represent the determination of the human will, though - 'we want a train to go this way, so we'll cut our way through if we have to!'

Polmont, Falkirk High, Croy (dozing a lot now, such an early start) and into Queen Street. Underground from Buchanan Street to Govan. Walk from Govan to the Southern General Hospital - a straight road past (Elder?) Park, with emergent crocuses to gladden my heart, and past the maw of the Clyde Tunnel.

It's a great day. Meeting Petra after email and blog exchanges is tremendous fun- neither did justice to the 'in the flesh person'! It's a day about connections and updates. And passion.

There's a lot of passionate people. people motivated to change things, to improve services; provide training, education and advocacy. (these don't come from nowhere, somebody has to fund them...)

Talking of funding, there are a lot of generous people. £195 worth of generous people! Split between the three of us - me, Petra and Sam from the Trust - that's £65 each towards the trek. Petra and I are delighted (by the time she tots up our total, Sam has had to leave).

During the day, we meet people spread along the emotional continuum - but a great deal of anger in particular, which is not a surprise, as the liver is associated with anger.

A lot of inspiration, too, from those who have moved through their anger into a different place, offering help to others...

Again and again, links between services are highlighted, that supporting each other is crucial. We can share so much expertise in networking...

And then it's time to hurtle through the now soggy Scottish landscape on the train, wondering where the day went.

I remember coming to Glasgow for counselling and full body acupuncture, courtesy of my ma... I was really lucky, she was quite a pioneer of alternative therapies - years on, experts in addiction are beginning to advocate their effectiveness in treatment.

I came with my boyfriend for a hit once (what the specialist nurse today referred to as a 'charge', never come across that before - but all the language has moved on, I don't remember 'clucking' or 'rattling' back then either) and was ripped off with cocoa powder (hence the line in 'In the heat of high summer').

Much, much later - twenty years or so - I came up to Glasgow to consult with C-Level, when we were setting up C-Change... I was in a very painful and fragile space then, what little confidence I had shattered post-diagnosis, and yet the timing was lovely; it was mum's birthday that weekend, and we spent some time together... I was delighted with the gift of being able to tack a visit to her onto the Glasgow trip . During the Glasgow part of that trip, my colleague was going to an NA conference, and I was too scared to leave our room at the youth hostel (apart from scuttling to a supermarket for some food supplies) in case I got into a drinking spree in some pub. (Not a weird paranoia; a strange place, on my own, at that time triggered 'autocoping skills' - i.e. seeking company in a pub because I didn't know any other ways of seeking out company - I hadn't learned how to be on my own in the world without alcohol; and Scottish drinking culture is legendary...) I scribbled a poem about being sat in the window like an Amsterdam tart - but up in the Gods of our high-rise hostel, therefore more like a modern-day Lady of Shalott...

This weekend, it's Mother's Day - I'm back in Frome on Sunday, but will have spent unexpected time Friday and Saturday with my mum.

Life has a habit of these odd psycho-geographical cyclic turns. It's disturbing but also somehow healing - as if you reclaim the territory with healthier, more positive memories.

One of the results of undertaking this trek is I have to confront my self-stigmatisation. It's painful, I keep resisting - and maybe combining that with giving up smoking was a little over-ambitious, even for me.

Challenges are good for the soul.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dark & Dangerous Cabaret/Sunday Scratchings

No time to write a comprehensive post - suffice to say the Frome Festival of Media Arts was hugely inspirational for Crysse & myself - both separately and together (and virtually together...) I love working with media. A facsimile Crysse was tricky - a techie rehearsal is crucial!

Experiencing the energising effect of positively channelled creativity - the refilling of the well - is intoxicating. Working with other performers, dancers and digital artists at the weekend was very lively and interesting.

Quite marked the contrasts between cutting edge art and just venting of negativity... Lindsay Clarke had a very salient point when he spoke of the responsibility of the writer (& artist, musician - any creative practitiioner!) for ethical representation... We live in an exploitative society(capitalism is by its very nature exploitative, greedy, unsustainable), and some people don't seem to learn that exploitation drains rather than energises... they're so locked into their own tight prism of obsession.

Or maybe they just can't see it - I guess that's one of the beauties of working with a creative partner, it can help you shed the destructive negative compulsions in your themes. Crysse and I worked on our set for 'Kind of Kerouac' tonight - very interesting process; synchronicities abounding... Far longer than we expected to take - but so glad we took the time.

Bed calls as I've got to be up early AGAIN tomorrow (the candle burns at both ends for less than half the time... )

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Over a week to go - and Crysse's event is SOLD OUT!

Not the late, great - the great LATE

Work has been incredibly pressured this week. A presentation at a rehab - which I hadn't had time to prepare - for an all-male group, staff and clients whose problem has been alcohol, explains the combative energy... Very tough to engage in a 'learning experience'. (Come back to work, Nige!) A session with the vaccines manager at Bristol Prison - very useful. A lot of work to incorporate her suggestions... I think about going in early Wednesday, but decide I need to catch up more. Reiki, writing, a walk, and the housework I didn't manage to do at the weekend - laundry, hoovering, cooking, cleaning the loo.

Surely only a bulimic would understand my definition of a clean toilet - it would be a pleasure to puke in it.

At the office - which is manic with calls and emails, impossible to do any sustained work on the pathway - I check with Simon what my deadline is for the strategy meeting on Friday. Friday morning (my day off), so Thursday evening. He mentions a client he's concerned about, and I pass on the relevant info to Russ. Then it's college - which is fun; I'm late but arrive as the class are watching a clip from Educating Rita. This is what I like! Home, deal with my emails, bed.

By Thursday, the pace is up again. I wake from dreams about work - bad sign, stress levels getting to me... I have a meeting at 11am, so I have to be there by 10.45. (She's late, and I've knocked back an interview with 3TR in case she arrives. Botheration. Oh well). No time for lunch - or even a loo stop - before charging up to the BRI to see the locum consultant. As he's offered me some time, it would be very churlish to be late... He's running late (of course), but when I do see him, he's extremely helpful. I'm so relieved - and delighted he's gone to such trouble. It's very useful to have a consultant's eye cast over the pathway - one from a different area, too. Now I'm running hopelessly late... 3TR ring back just as I'm about to get clear of a lorry holding-up the traffic in a sidestreet. I pull over and do the interview. Or panicked gabble. Urgently need the loo.

When I set off again, I'm in a rush to reach a loo as soon as possible, and unsettled from being 'caught on the hop' with 3TR. I assume this chap with two full buckets of water on his handlebars will be turning into Brunswick Square. I give him a wide berth, but have to swerve over again to avoid the panda car pulling up to the junction - narrowly missing said panda, and nearly knocking cyclist off his bike. The policewoman is incensed - understandably, it was a stupid and very nearly a horrendously dangerous mistake. I know I shouldn't be on the road in this state; overstressed and overwrought - but what's the alternative? You've got to take me home because I'm dangerous until I've had some rest. I don't think so - that's not how the world works. 70% of us operate like this all the time - it's just that most aren't conscious of it.

People don't discriminate against adrenalin junkies - without them, the world would grind to a halt.

I'm trying to stuff my lunch down my throat when Sue arrives to do the training track recording... By 4.30pm, I finally get down to the pathway adaptation. Finish at 8.30pm. Can't resist the compulsion to have a fag. Very late for Pen. 9.40pm instead of 7pm. The work world can be as bloody chaotic as the drug world - it irritates me that we talk about chaotic clients. I find employment makes me chaotic just to fit everything in... Lovely to catch up with Pen and John. Drink more than I should.

Up again in the morning to charge over to the strategy meeting at Blackberry Hill Hospital - but well worth it (I was even, miraculously, on time - considering I didn't get in the bath til 8.20am). I hoped to get away early... but of course, more tweaks after the meeting, recirculating the tweaked draft. I slide in an acupuncture session. To combat the smoking yesterday. The liver point pin falls out. Too much wine last night!
I get round to preparing for Monday's training. Only four days late. It's interesting - my work schedules get so tight that if I'm off sick, I need to work extra to catch up. The same used to happen at MGML, and IBD, so it's something about my style of working.

Lyn cancels meeting up this afternoon/eve, so I check out the cinema, knowing I need something to de-stress (even though I shouldn't really take time out for a film). I've seen the only two movies I fancy at the Showcase. I might need time out, but I can't afford the extravagance of seeing a film I've already paid to see!

I drop in to Annabelle's on the way home, having remembered I'm supposed to bring someone on Saturday night. She's setting up for the Fair Trade Directory Launch... so I shoot down to check it out, intending to get changed and walk back down for the start.

As my mother is fond of saying, 'The way to hell is paved with good intentions.'

By the time I've checked that my broadband red bill isn't really a red bill as I did pay it last week, and set up a direct debit for it while heating some tea and answering my e-mails, I haven't got time to walk down. This is why I find timetabling in exercise such a challenge. It's a time thing. There just aren't the hours in the day.

It's a great evening, lots of synchronicities and support. I write an email update for mailing out on my return. And a blog entry. Toddle off to bed about 2am. I was up at 7am, but it's now nearly 10am, and I've done nothing I intended to - except caught up with my blog! So, today, I'm running very late already...

Private yet Public

In La Strada on Sunday, talking to Crysse about some of the conflicts and difficulties of this whole venture, she gave me sound advice (as always), 'You're a writer, Haz - you can write your way through this.'

She's right.
A large part of what writing is for me is that making sense of 'from there to here', and facing 'from here to there'.

My own, private journals strive towards revelation and illumination, telling and re-telling myself the stories of my life, past and present, divining their meaning for me. Working out where I am, where I need to go next.

However, I have pledged to write this blog, so that those of my friends and supporters can keep up to date with how it's all going for me. That involves a high level of honest self-disclosure. But there are other tricky issues, because I'm not in isolation - particularly not at the moment, having asked for support, and being given so much... Just keeping that energy going involves a lot of social interaction - which I'm not used to, and I find it easily unsettles me.

Walking the field circuit the other morning before work, it struck me that writing this blog is like being naked in a communal shower.

But if I'm not careful, and confuse my own private journal process with the blog, that will be like being naked in a communal shower - but with all my orifices beginning to leak.

Some of my inner processes will be plain boring, others too painful, others terrifyingly self-revealing. I have to be careful how I write about and represent other people - particularly when they've unsettled me and I need to write back to my core.

Already, I've posted much that is, in retrospect, too banal to be boring people with.

This is not really a 'heppie trekkie journal', because it's for public consumption - which is not a creature I'm familiar with, although I do a lot of writing with others that I'm happy to share.

I've written a great deal this week that I can't share.

What I can say is that I can't always ask for help when I'm down. Once I've begun the climb up myself, I can. Insensitive help risks me falling off the edge... Which is why it's so tricky to ask - if I ask the wrong person, things get worse rather than better!

This week has led me to examine minutely my motives for doing this.

Of course it's about awareness and combating discrimination - putting my money where my mouth is, given my job - but there's a great deal more involved than that for me. That's the - rather uncomfortable - add-on.

It's about physical endurance and challenge. If I can get to the top of the world, maybe I'll feel brave enough to do treatment. Courage is contagious - and Jeff is tough. He knows about hep c, he knows about treatment - and he knows about mountains. I couldn't be in safer or more inspirational hands.

I'm an extremist, and I'm cyclic. I have to learn to harness that for my training.
Somebody said to me 'Yes, but you're grown-up now. You have to do it differently.'

But they're wrong. Trying to change my inner nature, go against my natural cycles, is where failure lies. You can't tell a dolphin it should be a pony to survive.

It's about learning how to harness my natural inclinations to make them work positively for me.

For example, I woke this morning feeling grim. (As if I'd had about three bottles of wine - you know, that sick, toxic, poisoned feeling we call 'hangover'? - which it wasn't, I had a glass of wine last night. One glass does not a hangover make - and I'd have felt the same this morning if I'd been abstinent last night, it's been such a full-on week). Getting immersed in writing, I forget how crap I feel.

So maybe it's just about creating the relevant distractions!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Number games - after 11 weeks

I've walked 142 miles overall since I began.
By my calculation, a daily average of approx 1.8 miles, up from an estimated 0.5 miles.
Up to 10 to go....

and this week, of course, I'm back to a 0.5 mile average so far...

I've consumed 72 units of alcohol, which is a weekly average of 6.5. Within my weekly 'allowance'.

Of course, that's not how it's actually been consumed at all - some weeks are way over, some weeks are substantially under.

It will settle once I get used to being a non-smoker.

I've had about 18 fags since the 1st Jan. A daily average of 0.23 by comparison with 15-20.

Not the Lady of Shalott

A week since I made a very quick post on a busy Friday morning...
If twenty-four hours can hold a panoramic sequence of events, how much more is a week capable of...
That faith I spoke of... Utterly indispensable. Lots of reconnecting to that in the space between last week and now.

The story from there to here... is an ongoing process.

I have made enormous changes in my life. Stopping smoking is one. Greater food intake - knock-on effect of not smoking! - is another. Exercising as regularly as I can manage - which means squeezing that in somewhere, despite not being able to find the time to work AND exercise for the last sixteen years. Consistently every year, my New Year Resolutions have included 'EXERCISE!!!'

I can build up my fitness easily enough - if I don't have regular work to go to. Put work into the daily routine, and exercise time is squeezed out...

So, there are big changes to be assimilated. I have hep c. Change and hep c are an argumentative couple - the liver gets very easily out of kilter during such spats. So I'm symptomatic. My IBS is aggravated (had what I call 'baby poo' for weeks - more or less since giving up smoking), I have the most embarrassingly offensive wind (makes me feel sick!), I'm experiencing sudden mood swings...
My periods aren't irregular, they're regularly early at the moment - a tidy three week cycle; if the body is metaphor, then mine is expressing my speeded-up lifestyle - and very, very painful cramps (though the duration of the whole nonsense is thankfully short - but roll on menopause!).
Lots of joint and muscle pain this week, noticeably worse night sweats. Brain fog. I learned my sprite poem the week before last, but on Sunday, I lost it altogether. I know it again today - with no additional memorising (I'll forget it again tomorrow no doubt).

Not being able to recall 'sprite' after such a lot of care with it really depressed me (among other things, like pain, chronic fatigue - I slept most of Saturday, but had no trouble sleeping on Saturday night after being up only for a matter of hours). Slept 50% of Sunday (although at least I manage a very short stroll with Crysse to Las Strada for a latte - which has no noticeable effect; as I'm not caffeine tolerant, I must have been wiped). I probably snooze away the same proportion of time on Monday. The price of driving myself too far, too fast...

It gets to the stage that I remember Angus's assertion that 'On a bad day, if you can do just one thing, that's a big plus.'

I manage two things on Monday. I wash the dishes and have a bath.

My concentration is very erratic - right at a time when I need to be focussed and on the ball...
I've had terrible sugar cravings which I've been unable to resist. My gums are bleeding copiously, I wouldn't be surprised if I haven't got a mild urine infection, and I'm breaking out in spots all over the areas that sweat. My scalp itches and my eyes burn most of the time. My face and hands are dry (but that's time of year as well).

The headaches are better. So that's a plus. When I'm not knackered, my libido is increased, so the energy and creativity surges from that are pleasant and very useful.

BUT - people I haven't seen for months are commenting on how well I'm looking. And I know that I'm healthy by comparison with - well, most people, really. I'm really very lucky because I know why I'm underperforming, I know what's causing all these niggly discomforts. They should actually be less worrying now than pre-diagnosis - it's my natural anxiety and catastrophising which makes them an issue. And takes precious energy that I can ill afford.

This past week has reminded me of the fragility of my plans. I have not been 'in control'. I can't be 'in control' - really, we are none of us 'in control' - we just often manage to construct that illusion for ourselves.
Positive visualisation is hugely powerful, but it's not control.
I conflate influence and control, expect predictable simplistic outcomes x + y = z
something like
a x (b-c) + (d x d) - (b + c x 29.174%) = f squared
is probably more characteristic.
I need to try to be less reductionist, remember there are subtleties and complexities to all this - delicate neurochemical, physiological fluctuations that I can't bludgeon into submission.

There's been psychic conflict with number one son this week, too. Particularly over the weekend and start of the working week... That's a huge contributory factor.

I had a couple of nicotine lapses. Quite fascinating effects - dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, that weird circulation thing in my legs again, and racing heart. Scarily nasty, in fact.
But the mental effects - it's like I pull myself together, like gathering disparate and scattered threads up into a cohesive entity.
After the first lapse, I change from being an amorphous fatigued, depressed mass into an ill person who is nonetheless focussed and motivated.

Feeling like shit from something I have chosen to do, that I'm familiar with - and I can deal with it, I just go into autopilot.

I watched a body art programme this week which was compulsive yet repulsive - people staging performance body art involving pain and mutilation. One of the artists explained how she experienced incredible adrenalin rushes afterwards, sensations of invincibility and power - not that surprising, she was suspending her weight in a sitting posture from hooks inserted into her shoulders and knees. She would get an enormous adrenalin buzz from inflicting such trauma on her body.
We're back to this pleasure and pain thing, the inextricable nature of the two in our biochemistry... (apparently, just WATCHING such activities triggers the same response in the audience - maybe that's why I'm wide-awake after a long day at work, but I incline more to being pretty paid-up at the sleep bank after the weekend!)).
Why is body art so different from extreme sports and mountaineering, which also often create altered perception through pushing the body through adverse conditions, often creating damage in the process? Yet we almost certainly do all view them in different ways - and generally, find some more acceptable than others. Why should that be?

Things to ponder - and I've only got to the end of Tuesday 14th so far (& it's Friday now).
But I must go to bed. I'll catch up as best I can over the weekend... (in between performances...)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Keeping the Faith

You could say this week has been the swingback week, the one where the doubts have set in big-time. I've looked at funds so far, funds to go, the energy I've had left over from work for fundraising efforts (none), the trouble of sychronising diaries with supporters (Herculean)... it's all feeling pretty much impossible...

So it feels crucial to note little synchronicities, such as pulling into the car park in town the other day and realising I had no change. I looked around - and a young man was scanning the car park for someone to donate his ticket to... I passed it on to a woman, too.

A voucher for a Thai foot massage throws up anomalies this morning - inherited from my leg break. The therapist advises me to get a Bowen Technique treatment to sort that out before I create more problems... This feels like a gift from the gods...

So maybe I just trust.

Maybe that's all it needs.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Inclement Weather

This is the third day in a row I haven't walked (enough to count). Yesterday and today I was at the BRI, and it struck me that aside from the air pollution, around that area is actually pretty good for 'Nepal practice' - steep inclines, many of which are pedestrianised (which cuts down traffic fumes at least a bit). It looks interesting territory to explore - old, sort of cobbly streets, obviously an old part of town by the look of the tudor-ish (not that I would know genuine from faux) architecture and the way space is occupied. I wished I'd had more time free (and an umbrella). Particularly yesterday, when I was 'smart' for my meeting with the specialist nurses. Why are smart clothes always so bloody useless when it comes to keeping warm and dry? Who decided that to be smart you must suffer? Or stay indoors? - that's the thing, smart clothes are for being confined inside... Neither wonder I don't like them much.

Today I was in more practical togs, and anyway it's been very mild today, so I was in far less of a hurry to get into the car out of the wind and rain; was able to take in the fabulous view from my free parking spot. Even in the fine drizzle, the cityscape grey-cloudmisted, the panorama somehow reminded me of Barcelona... looking from Parc Guell down to the sea... Funny how you don't notice things for ages - and then they make an impact just when you least expect it.

I think today is the first college day I've had no early commitments, so been able to go to work at lunch-time instead of my usual (it is hardly an early start, but all the same...). Pippa and I had already decided last night to take note of the forecast and walk together on Friday instead of today. Number one son felt grim this morning, so he took the day off work - and I had my first proper lie-in since I decided to do this trek...

It felt absolutely wonderful to drift back to sleep until I felt fully rested, no listening for alarms, or resetting mobiles to make sure I didn't oversleep. I just allowed myself the sheer luxury of freefalling dreams, finally creaking out of bed between ten and eleven.

I know I can't sleep as much as I'd like, time is at such a premium - so much to do, so little time... but I did enjoy indulging myself today. Interestingly, my digestion finally settled, and I didn't get a headache until after college...

Petra emailed me an extract from Allen Ginsberg's website tonight - I had no idea he died of 'complications of hepatitis'.

That's something I am noticing - I'm even more divorced from the 'real world' than usual; my admin has sailed through the ceiling again, so I'm not watching TV news, and I certainly don't have time for a Saturday or Sunday paper any more. You can't really call the radio news bulletins proper 'news' - they're kind of a bare minimum, headline style soundbites... I'm back to relying on people telling me what I need to know, when I need to know it!

Bugger - talking of radio, that's one of my things to do, contact the local radio stations. Not tonight. In fact, I think it's time to log off and grab some grub and collapse into bed.

See what dreams await me tonight - names seem to be favourite right now. Retreats and writers. Though this morning I was back in that labyrinthine house where I'm often living in dreams, just not fully occupying - but for once, there was a woman living the basement; she came to investigate my footsteps on the circular stairs... I wonder what that was about?

Sorry, Martin Amis opinion-sharers - at least I think it's Martin Amis who believes other people's dreams are tedious beyond measure...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Comfort Food and Concentration

The sixth day of the third month of the sixth year of the millennium; 06-03-06 - if you're into numerology, today is an auspicious day (not that I know anything about numbers, being practically numbers dyslexic - or should that be number-phobic?)

Yesterday's walk leaves me very tired. Mind you, jumping the stream and finding myself ankle-deep in sludge, and then continuing over the fields with half a ton of mud attached to my trainers isn't the easiest of Sunday strolls... I have a stubborn streak a mile wide right up the middle of my psyche. Probably just as well, really. Where I found the energy to go to supper at Pippa's, I don't know...

I do know, actually. I expected a lovely evening, with great company - which, of course, it was. I am finding (selected) social occasions restorative again - at one stage, I much preferred to stay home if I was feeling jaded, which is not always a healthy way to be... you can end up more and more reclusive and isolated.

But this morning, I struggle to get out of bed, even after a reiki self-healing, and have real problems getting my act together for work. Another bout of the squits - maybe the result of all that delicious chocolate dessert the previous night? - which makes me later than ever, but at least excuses me from walking before I leave Frome... Good lord - this is the first morning I've been grateful for an excuse not to walk, rather than frustrated with time restrictions! I must be low on resources...

Driving to Bristol, I'm almost falling asleep at the wheel. Which is always slightly worrying.

It's March. The trek is October. I have eight months to work up to this gently. It'll be fine.

Although I'm not exactly bursting full of the joys of spring, after an ear acupuncture I do get some more focussed work done. (liver and lung points very painful - figures...)

I also trough two-thirds of the choccy biccies Maya left for me - not so good. If my digestion is sugar overdosed, I won't be helping myself by compounding the situation...

But there are actually two ways of looking at this.

One is that my body is really struggling with everything I'm inflicting on it.

The other is that people are falling like flies with various viruses and stomach upsets, but my immune system is keeping me going extremely well under the circumstances.

Guess which I'll opt for?

I'm even home slightly early, so that I arrive early at Annabelle's for the second organisational evening - this time with Crysse joining us.

The sharing of food, the 'breaking of bread' together is an interesting one. When I eat alone, I always read. I always had a book under the table as a child... Eating with others can give me terrible indigestion - until I'm relaxed enough in their company to be able to take as long as I need (I'm always last to finish, I'm the slowest eater I know - probably the reading habit!).

I can relax here; relax and enjoy the nurturing... and the spoiling - pressies for an (almost) birthday girl! On top of all the emotional and practical suport I'm being showered with - when you're lucky enough to live life in such generous abundance, being 'rich' in more material terms pales into insignificance.

Between them, Crysse and Annabelle launch into sparking the next round of ideas, listing possible dates for the next events, volunteering for various tasks. Their energy is infectious; it all feels perfectly do-able...

I come away with a manageable list of things to do, and a date for our next meeting.

Tomorrow is my birth day. Tuesday. I was born on a Tuesday. So tomorrow will be an auspicious day, too.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Donation Site

If I can't manage to get the link to Sue's Blog on my sidebar, I doubt I'll be able to get my donations page on there. So I'm putting it on as a post instead.

The photo is from Jeff Frew's collection, taken on previous treks.

I think I'm getting the hang of at least some of this!

You know my major worry before deciding to go for it? I needed to know if we'd have to carry our own tents... That would have knocked me out of the running... I gave up on the idea of walking the Pennine Way for just that reason (and, em, I couldn't give up smoking at that point. I tried and failed miserably - after a week I was back to my usual intake...)
I'm happy to risk altitude sickness and whatever else might jump up and bite me - just to try to get to the top of the world.
Looked at in some ways, you could say it's self-harm gone slightly underground, I suppose (yes, I have seen Touching the Void, and under those circumstances I'm sure I'd just give up!). Maybe it's seeking altered consciousness in other ways - it works with reiki!

Anyway, if you've enjoyed my blog so far, but haven't already made a donation, please visit my donation site.
www.justgiving.com/wychhaz (originally, the idea of my blog was for sponsors and supporters to keep updated with my progress - now it makes sense to have it work the other way, too!)

Kathmandu or Die!

Nothing if not a drama queen - of course, I have no intention whatsoever of dying in the attempt, but I liked the 'Do or Die' echo (wasn't that Human League?)

'When you are aligned with your soul purpose, your sole purpose, effortful living becomes effortless effort.'

I truly believe that.

And that if you ask for help, you get it - you can't predict what form it takes, and you can't predict outcomes, but you do get what you ask for.

The morning before the first fundraiser, the sky is unusually beautiful. Cold, crisp and clear - just the sort of February day to bring snow later (which it does!). I have to skywatch several times, literally stop in my tracks just to breathe it in.

The flock of magpies Crysse and I disturbed on our walk at the weekend skyburst as I go past - one, two, three, four, five, six, seven... I knew it was a lot, but I wasn't quick enough to count them that day. John's version of the rhyme is Seven for a story yet to be told. I experience an energy discharge, like a current passing through me.

Maybe this is that story? Or maybe it's reassurance that I will get to finish Dreaming with the Driftwood Mirror one day...

Work is a struggle - it's been such a full-on week, I'm kind of dazed. Brain fog or just plain exhaustion?

After I pick Lyn up, we get stuck in traffic. Which turns out to be more than the usual rush hour snarl-up - no, there's been what looks very much like a pretty fatal RTA. The worst hit car is neatly scrunched up into a much smaller version than its original 4x4 incarnation. I feel sick. Stressed? What's my first reaction? A fag. So what do I do?

Then I remember we did see an ambulance, maybe the occupants did get taken to A&E. They might not survive, of course, but at least they probably weren't eaten by their car as I feared.

It's such a blessing I have Lyn to take care of a quick snack, open the wine etc. when we get back. I'm not sure I'd be able to function on my own.

Jeff Frew's CD images open much easier on Crysse's fabulosa ibook than on my computer at work (now, of course, on my new machine, I can watch them as a slideshow! - even if I can't get Macafee to let Outlook Express operate...)

Crysse has bought wonderful nibbles - smoked salmon, cracked black pepper crisps, white and milk choccy biccies... she's made melon balls, and there are pistachio nuts, cashew nuts...
...and wine of course. Bottles and bottles of wine. And she's not been well!

I'm really nervous.

I have asked these people here to support this mad, mad, venture, this crazed and crazy notion, this possibly delusional ambition...

Other people can make their dreams come true. Other people have delusional notions that become reality.

On the morning of the event, it occurs to me that for a long time I've boosted my sense of self with the label 'writer'. I've considered myself a writer who happens to be a bit mad - like many other writers.

But this day, I realise I am a mad person who happens to write.

So that's how I open the evening.

I tell people about the trip, about why I want to do it. I read the full version of the Goethe quote, and my poem Harry and She.

I'm glugging the wine a bit now - but this is a very special occasion. Mike and Fiona have to leave early, so after offering help with local press promotion, Mike puts a twenty pound note on a clean paper plate and hands it to me. Pippa pledges £100. The ideas begin to flow... Peter Mac offers to oversee the fund and keep everyone updated. Carole suggests she run a fashion show. Peter P offers to organise an auction of promises. Crysse says Paula has offered help although she can't be here. Mike W offers a web site. Annabelle offers at this point to takes notes...
...so I don't have to...
...and the evening rolls on, a magical snowballing of support and goodwill...

I feel supported and safe.
I bare my soul, ask for support for my dream - emotional just as much as practical and financial.
And these good-hearted people 'hold' me, and listen to me, don't laugh cruelly or dismissively at me, they don't taunt me or poke fun at me, but offer me love and compassion alongside support that I could not have dreamed of.

I am overwhelmed. Emotional and touched to my core.

I am truly, truly blessed.

Trek Website

The trek website is just about up and running, Mike has put loads of work into it (and he's been ill this week - thank you Mike, I do appreciate it!!!).

I have done little more than give him instructions, like 'Get the DDN article put on! - here's the website,' (http://www.drinkanddrugsnews.net/) and other such peremptory instructions... I'm such a charmer sometimes.

Time is so precious - so much to do... as soon as we're happy the site is ready to be veiwed, I'll get the link on - embedded in a post if I don't sort out the sidebar link business.

According to Peter's calculations, I've raised 15% so far. 95% to go (put like that it sounds horrendous! & that's because your sums are rubbish, Haz - it's 85%). You can see why I'm so grateful Peter offered to manage the funds (and arithmetic) part.

OK - enough for now - going to start a post on the first fundraiser.

Kind of Kerouac

The date for the second fundraising event has been set and I haven't written up the first one yet...
So you can safely surmise there's a bit of a logjam for me to sort out. Doing my best - though it does feel as if it's gone beyond firefighting already! I'll just have to stop being so garrulous... (like the moon should change its cycle...)

Kind of Kerouac is the event, and I thought I'd give uploading the flyer a go this morning. I've found out how to upload images onto posts, but the format of the flyer must be incompatible with blogger settings. Have tried three times now. Oh well... I haven't got time to shoot to the bank before going to Ali's - dodgy tum again this morning, which also means I'd better drive to Great Elm rather than walk which is a great shame as it's a glorious day. Maybe I'll get a walk later.

Kind of Kerouac - music and poetry on the theme of journeys and dreams...
27th March, at Christies in Frome, with Beat poet Robert Palmer (not the one famous for being addicted to love, although I guess this one could be too) and musician/songwriter Steve Loudoun (website www.lepromo.freeserve.co.uk/sl.htm : the site may to be experiencing problems - the link to it can be tricksy).
With Crysse, Peter and me, too. Tickets £6, with glass of wine included (bargain).

Contact Crysse on crysse@cryssemorrison.co.uk and her website is

Friday, March 03, 2006

Links - or not

Thrilled with myself, have managed to get a link on my sidebar for Petra's blog.
Cat with two tails, or what?
But can't figure out why Sue's link can't find her blog. She's on http://suetoronto.blogspot.com - which should be what's on my sidebar, but apparently isn't. Oh well - Petra has a link to Sue's blog...
Computers, logical? I don't think so. Modern mysticism, more like.

Looping back to fill in the gaps...

Or maybe not.

After Valentine's Day, there's a gap until the first day of Spring... which is such an eventful period, it doesn't feel right to skip it all. Given the immediacy of these blogs, neither does it feel right to just type in all of the handwritten stuff I kept while I was off line... which includes this paragraph:

'I remember this pace of life, this treadmill, this constantly chasing my tail, never having time to think, to dream... to draw breath! Always late for everything... when I worked full-time and number one son needed more maternal input, and I was studying, and trying to write... and had a partner to help shoulder chores and share childcare, which he did very willingly (though he did have two of his own - triple the workload of one!) Around then, I had the diagnosis of asthma hmmm... suffocated?'

And I wrote that before my computer decided it couldn't cope. Which, historically, tends to happen when I actually need a break...

So it's lovely to read:

'As dusk creeps over Frome, the birds liven into the twice daiy aria which marks the cusp of night and day. Sitting in the Dissenter's Cemetery, nibbling a snack from the deli while I begin Ian McEwan's Saturday, it's growing colder. I must move before I chill. But this delight is down to 'trek training'. Any other time, I'd have gone straight home.'

It's not all pressure to squeeze everything in - or is it?

'This waking early is both gratifying and worrying. Great to be keeping up with the pace of my life, but as I've got no prospect of timetabling rest and recuperation in until after October, there's anxiety, too - that I can't sustain it. I've always been cyclic - full-pelt followed by crash.'

I manage a lie-in today. Nine thirty - which is kind of laughable for somebody who used to be able to sleep happily until lunch-time at weekends!

An old friend called today. She's just had a tumour removed. She's younger than me, too. News like that these days just makes me think, 'so I've got hep C - so what? People die of all kinds of things. My hep C might not be the thing that kills me anyway.' My attitude to it has gone through so many changes since my diagnosis...

Enough for one night.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Mad March Hare's First Day of Spring

1st March 06

This morning's walk through icing sugar snow and trilling birdsong is just glorious. Such a sense of elation - now, isn't that the way to start day?

My physical resources are pretty low at the moment, I seem to be spinning in ever increasing circles, getting ever more decentred and ungrounded. Where normally fresh air and being uplifted by exercise sets me up well for the day, after only a mile and a half or so, I feel sick and dizzy, my eyes feel like somebody else's, and I get alternating hot and cold sweats. I feel slightly panicky on the way home about not being able to get there before I run out of steam completely.
It's a long time since I've felt like this so quickly. After seven miles, or strenuous exertion, I can understand it - but a wee morning stroll? Then I remember I took a couple of ibuprofen last night on the way home, so I'd be able to have a short gentle walk in spite of the pain in my knees. I feel ill after taking the tablets, maybe they've triggered this somehow, too... I really don't feel like driving to work - but I have an acupuncture session booked before the start of my day, and I always feel better after that...

Looking back through this journal, my aim was half an hour walking each day, with more at weekends. I've pushed through that to one and a half hours plus some days - I suspect because I've had a couple of weekends which haven't been geared around trek training. No surprise I'm having to rack back a bit.

My natural mode of progress is to seesaw, and I have plenty time to find a level that builds my stamina but doesn't exhaust me.

The mood swings are a bit more of a worry!

The pains in my knees (which this morning is much better) are down to Saturday's scramble from the top of Beechen Cliff to Manvers Street and back (for the Hep C Trust's Health Day Workshop), carrying a very heavy knapsack. That and hours perching on my kneestool engrossed in my new computer... (trying to figure it out!) (the Trust workshop was very useful, saves me checking out the Expert Patient initiative in detail as it's a hep C adaptation of the EP! Good to see Jane again, and meet Nick and Theresa. And the FOOD, the food was delicious... pity my digestion was a bit too dodgy to fully enjoy it!)

The journey to Bristol this morning is interesting - glorious winter sunshine alternating with the whiteout of snowshowers. At one point, I wonder if I'll make it on time for my treatment, it's so thick. But none of it lies.

Work is over very quickly - lots to do, and I leave early at 2.30 to go up to the Media Arts Studio to help Crysse record her bit for the 18th March. I get aeriated because I can't find my poetry book, then keep forgetting stuff I need and having to return for it, so that by the time I finally get organised and out the door, there's actually no time left to walk, so I have to take the car.

I'd have made myself feel ill if I had walked. And actually, knowing that is part of the problem... I'm a dab hand at displacement, which I proceed to do in style. It makes complete sense at the time - don't we all get frustrated with computers which don't do what you want them to? - although I know I'm sounding a little unhinged. To change metaphors - and why not? we're not talking rationality here - now I've wound the spring, it has to discharge somehow, which means continuing the rant...

After the recording session, Crysse tweaks the 'Kind of Kerouc' flyers, ready for mailing out. I call Mike and ask him to put the DDN article - in this week's issue - on the website, along with the KoK flyer. Then it's up to the book club at the Merlin, Ali's and my research for the book club holidays... Home via Tescos Express for some sarnies and snackie bits... and to chat to Mike about the website - and the stramash I've got myself in with password access, email accounts and my blog accounts etc. A certain erratic typist seems to have been even more inaccurate than usual... Not all the problems are down to poor keyboard skills. Some are faulty memory (brain fog? Acupuncturist tells me it's age - I hope not; if I'm like this now, I'll be like Iris in few years... which maybe wouldn't be so bad if I'd written a few books, like she had - but I haven't written any yet, and if my brain goes to mashed potato I never will!)

Petra's link to my blog on hers made me even more determined to crack the blog difficulty - I can't have a blog up that hasn't been updated in days!
hers is http://journals.aol.co.uk/parkness/MissionNepal/

I don't know if that will work as an active link, but people can always cut and paste... (it's well worth it, please do!) As soon as I find out how to embed links properly, I'll link to hers and Ron Metcalfe's, and Sue's - I'm actually a bit bemused, there's this great virtual publishing pool of hep C journals, which mine is part of at the click of a couple of other people's mouse buttons. I knew a blog was in the public domain - of course I knew that, I'm not a complete bozo - but I kind of expected that no-one would go to mine unless I told them it was there... as if I had in mind some kind of virtual ivory tower, I suppose!

Enough for one night. More soon!

About Me

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I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...