Holidays

Jan. 6th, 2013 01:47 pm
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Now that was surprisingly not awful.

 It was bad, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t the long drawn out hell of relatives I want to kill with a flamethrower  but can’t because there’s so many of them and it’d cause a severe fire hazard.

 Part of it is simply that our vast huge family is breaking up. As the oldest generation shuffles off their mortal coil, a lot of my parent’s generation, my generation and my nieces and nephew’s generation are less inclined to make the effort to stay in touch with 3rd cousins and the like. There are one or two lynchpins and the clan will generally keep in touch – but the endless visiting and HUGE DAMN PARTIES are probably a thing of the past. I think I’m, supposed to be sad about this but… I’m not. I’m generally of the opinion that if you lose touch with someone, there’s usually a reason.

 Of course some of the awful was still there with the family gatherings I couldn’t duck, but I’ve found a nice counter tactic if just gasping “WHY DO YOU WANT TO RUIN CHRISTMAS?!” at them in an increasingly shrill and louder voice until they subside and leave me alone. Not the most mature response, but surprisingly effective. I’ve backed it up by assuming anyone mentioning anything about being gay is coming out to me, when they say they’re not, I ask them a) why they care and b) why I should care what they have to say. Also rather effective.

Thankfully, my own holiday celebrations happen on the solstice, so I can endure the annoying without it ruining my day. Beloved’s holiday celebrations happen around wherever bottles of booze are open

 Dramas aside, we were faced with a terrible terrible scourge. Poultry.
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Wales!

Nov. 18th, 2012 11:00 pm
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A few years ago now, my brother moved to Anglesey, in Wales. He has visited multiple times since then (clearing out the cupboards every time – it’s like being visited by Huns)  but I’ve never had occasion to schlep over to Wales to visit him. He insisted I take a weekend to come see him and take him to their wonderful local lobster restaurant. And to bring my wallet (of course – little brother and all that).

 Beloved was most excited, he’s never been to Wales before. Which was amusing to watch because he seems to have this odd idea that absolutely anything will be different. You’d think we were going  to distant climes but he was insistent it would be Different. He also expected it to rain all the time. I said he was silly and that was just a ridiculous stereotype.

 And Loki heard me.

 Road trip was uneventful (“it’s getting hilly isn’t it?” “yes, they’re called the Pennines.”  “oooh Lancashire, aren’t we supposed to hate them?” “No, I am, you’re a southerner and don’t get to take part in our ridiculous, centuries old petty grudge.” “I’ve lived here for over decades now!” “And you’re more than 2 decades old – southerner.”) there was lunch, there were views, there was a bloody WIND because it was November in the Penines.

 Then we crossed the River Dee and DARKNESS DESCENDED.

 Literally, we had to turn on the headlights. It was like 2:30 in the afternoon and we had the headlights on. And it RAINED. I don’t just mean rained, I mean RAINED. It was the kind of rain where, if your cracked the car window you risked drowning in the deluge. This was maintained for the entire duration of our stay.

 Beloved decided that Welsh was a great language for casting spells, at least from the little he gleaned from the road signs, and is still spending an inordinate amount of time chanting “Arath! Ysgol! Canol y dref! Ildiwch! Cerddwyr” rather dramatically (which sounds impressive by means “slow, school, town centre, give way, pedestrian” and probably not the chanting of some mysterious Merlin. Unless Merlin doubled as a lollypop man)

 My brother dragged me round the sites – and by sites I mean “shopping” (and guess what that meant?) which included Llanfair PG (no, I’m not typing the full name, google it) which seemed to be a) a tourist hub and b) a tourist hub based entirely on its name.

 What I did like was the terrain. It reminded me a lot of the North Yorkshire moors in a way – not that it’s similar per se, but that it has an incredible, stark beauty. Pretty to look at (and rainy, did I mention it rained? Because it rained. A Lot) but probably a hard place to farm. The terrain and the restaurants convinced me why this area is a holiday hot spot (or wet spot. Did I mention the rain?)

 The lobster place was fabulous, my brother was right. But I’ll never be the biggest fan of lobster. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m always left with a feeling of “I like it more than crab, but I don’t like it twice as much as I like crab – so why am I paying twice as much?” They also had nice oysters – but same applies. I like oysters but why are they a squillion times more expensive than mussels? Especially in Britain where we harvest metric fucktons of shellfish – then sell it all abroad.

 It was nice to get away from it all for a couple of days, and it was probably my reluctance to relinquish the peace that led to my purging of annoyances (which I don’t regret and am glad something spurred me on at last). Even if we did get stuck in a traffic jam due to an accident and the Sat Nav redirected us to the UNMOVING ROAD above the road we should have been on flowed, slowly, but still flowed. I can only assume everyone had a Sat Nav like ours and they all said “ZOMG AN ACCIDENT! SLOW TRAFFIC! Let us now filter 8,000 cars on a country track designed for goats! SLOW GOATS!” resulting in it taking us 6 hours to get home.

 I brought lava bread home with me, not sure what to do with it. And Welsh cakes. Which are like rationed fruit scones – where fruit and sugar severely rationed and no-one’s heard of baking powder or eggs.

Or, as I remarked, they’re like scones if Beloved baked scones. This may result in him defiling my kitchen.

 

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There are some things that are never good, some things that are guaranteed to cause panic.

And one of those things is a phone call at 4:00am. That nearly always means something is on fire or someone has died. Or, well, in my case, it means I'm on call and someone needs me to turf out to the police station and/or swear at them and tell them to say nothing until morning and I've had some sleep. I'm told the latter is unprofessional. I say professional and 4:00am are mutually exclusive concepts.

So when the phone rang this morning I was pertubed, even more so when I recognised the voice not of my work place, but of one of my many cousins, I was concerned and ready to give condlences (he lives in California, leaping into action is a somewhat limited option).

Cousin: Sparky! I need your help

Sparky: Don't worry, take a deep breath, I'm here (what? My family's prone to excessive panic). What do you need?

Cousin: oh... I just wanted you to help organise a few things for our trip


Sparky: Your trip?

Cousin: yeah, we're coming home in October for a few weeks, thought you'd be the best person to organise it, being all legal and all (Not that he needed legal help, but he had forgotten whether he was a British citizen or not. As may be guessed, he's not well known in the family for his intelligence)

Sparky: Is there a deadline or something?

Cousin: No... I thought this would be a good time?

Sparky:... What time do you think it is?

Cousin: 8:00 by my watch


Sparky:... I mean here.

Cousin: Lunctime?

Sparky:... We're 8 hours ahead of you. Not behind, not unless the Earth started rotating the other way.

Cousin: Oh... so what time is it?

Sparky: 4:00. In the morning.

Cousin: Ah...

Sparky: You might want to think twice about crossing the Atlantic. I can reach you on this side. *hands up*

Which is annoying.

But what is more annoying? Is Socks, the cat, noticing this.

Socks: You are awake. That means you should be stroking me *nuzzle nuzzle*

Sparky: Go away cat, I'm alseep

Socks: Such lies you tell. *nuzzle nuzzle*

Sparky: Beloved wants to play *picks up cat* *deposits on Beloved*

Beloved: *has anticipated and burrowed under the covers until only a few square inches of blond hair are visible* *produces very unrealistic snore*

Socks: *returns to me* Stroke me human *nuzzle*

Sparky: If the cat keeps me awake all night I'm going to be grumpy and make everyone around me suffer

Beloved: You're at work today, not my problem.

Sparky:A ha! You're awake *deposits cat on him again*

Beloved: Talking in my sleep *unrealistic snores start again*

What is more vexing is that insomnia has robbed me of sleep all damn week. And now, the first night with actual sleep? The universe hates me.
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Ok this is complex. But in the not too distant past, Disapproving Homophobic Aunt (one of the many members of Disapproving Homophobic Family) had and *ahem* moment with the law. And, like anyone in my family with legal issues, she called me and I done Sorted it Out for Her, Discreetly. And even implied to inquiring family that it was providing a valuable and generous service to one of the various self-involved alleged-charities she likes to flutter around.

I wish she hadn’t, she certainly has money enough to hire a lawyer rather than expect familial freebies. I’m particularly annoyed because I am not going near that branch of the family because they are homophobic arseholes who treat me like shit – but come crawling when they want something. I’m also annoyed with myself for not telling her to take a long walk off a short pier. Damn overdeveloped sense of family duty.

I also think that, sometimes, you need a lawyer that you aren’t related to – and there’s some secrets that your kin really does not want to know. Really does not want to know. Really really really.

Anyway, that was then.

Since then it has become apparent that said Aunt (who, as you may recall, I want nothing to do with) has, for whatever reason, decided that the gap between me and vast amounts of our very close family is too wide and I need to “return to the family fold” (perhaps she’s been reminded how useful having a lawyer in the family is. Maybe it’s some kind of misguided sense of gratitude, who knows?). This involves lots of people who I have taken pains to remove from my life now going out of their way to insert themselves back into it and drag me back into theirs.

Buuuuut none of them have actually changed. Including her! It’s all “oh we drifted apart, tut tut how unfortunate; let us rebuild these bridges, come back” without acknowledging why that gap is there and, more importantly , continuing to be the same homophobes they always have been. So it’s treating me like I’m single, talking about future female partners, disrespecting my relationship, ignoring/shunning Beloved and more exhortations to “sort yourself out” in various passive aggressive ways. That seems to be the phrase of the day “oh X is visiting, you’ll like her, if you can sort yourself out” or “you’d fit right in there, if you could sort yourself out” and “it’s great to know B, so long as you sort yourself out.” Of course no-one (well, except for about 4 or 5 of them) is going to overtly say what “sort yourself out” actually MEAAAANS but the context screams (and he does as well).

So everyone wants me back in the family at the urgings of influential and misguided aunt (who is still a homophobe) but the reasons why I’m not IN the family are still there. And, worse, members of the family who I find tolerable are all urging me to go for this because they have “extended the olive branch” (since when?) or are “trying” (very trying indeed), or they want to “rebuild bridges” (and if I’m happy with them in ruins?) or even “look they’ve forgiven you” (excuse me?). The main one is “look they’ve made the first move” which is apparently some vast concession on their part – which means I’m supposed to make an equal concession. I.e. be dragged into all these family circles again and ignore all their damn homophobia. “Do I have to make an issue of it, they did make the first move?” “Just let it go, they did make the first move.” “Yes it’s annoying, but they made the first move to bring you back.” With lots of bonus exhortations to “meet them halfway” (whatever that means) and “you could at least make the effort” and similar tones.

Which means I’m now on the path for lots of nuisance with kin I thought I’d finally rid myself of with an extra side-bonus of opening rifts with yet more family because I refuse to let the homophobes beat me with their olive branch.

I need more booze.
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So another holiday in which I largely avoided family (well, there was an awkward awkward dinner involving Beloved’s parents, a sadly overcooked piece of lamb and all the pre-bought things that I normally shun. But I was polite and they were polite and it was such a very polite affair. Like the kind of dinner one would expect to have if, say, you invited your boss round one day albeit without the creeping and brown nosing.

I did spend some time on the phone with my brother again, this is getting more frequent, it suggests he’s going to drop in at some point, he usually does *is prepared for Hun invasion*. However, I did point out that I had bought mother an Easter egg and he had forgotten which officially made me the Good One (one of the eternal elements of familial politics is how quickly family favour can shift in the grand scheme of things and how the coveted title of “Good One” also conveys the passive aggressive dig of “Bad One who doesn’t care and is his arm broken because he never picks up a phone!” Which goes to show that our family is never happy without feuds, snarks and sulks) Brother mine pointed out that I could never be the good one until I started dating women.

Which, well, hmmm… that rather upped that ante in a manner that was inappropriate for the discussion, as I would have thought would be rather obvious. He still doesn’t get why he crossed a line that didn’t need to be crossed and I just don’t have the energy to walk him through it.

It does make me wonder what my parents talk about with him when I’m not around – but not very much since I already have a pretty good idea and I’m not going to seek a wound to poke.
Since I managed to avoid all the family holiday stuff pretty much, brother mine does wonder if I’m, ever going to rejoin to fold and, if so, do I need help.

And, y’know, the answer’s probably no. The great big huge extended family of stress just doesn’t seem even slightly appealing to me. I just don’t trust them and I don’t think you can be part of my family, part of my family culture, without some element of trust. And I don’t have that – I don’t have any of that and I can’t help but see them as a threat – which is hardly conducive to rebuilding family bonds.

And, besides, even if we were to rebuild these burned bridges it simply cannot be me that does the rebuilding. They’ve done too much for me to make the first move, for me to make the concession. Frankly, the only way we could lay the foundations for those bridges is if they have finally realised that their actions are not acceptable and, even if they’re not going to apologise and make nice, that they’ve got to at least stop being homophobes. When that happens they may feel the need to try and close the rift, but until that happens I am not going to try and bring us together when there’s a damn good reason for us to be apart – and for me to want us to be apart.


In other news, in typical Beloved fashion, Beloved has decided he no longer wants to be a carpenter. Wood is apparently unco-operative stuff, saws are sharp, hammers are heavy, he’s stabbed himself with a screw driver and he has splinters everywhere. Alas, his first creations had a certain Rorschach quality wherein every viewer had a different interpretation as to what they were actually for. Given the sharp edges, sticking out screws, splinters and generally solid nature I think they were designed to be weapons.

Beloved had a day of sulking but now seems to have adopted the “woodwork? What is this woodwork you speak of? I have never heard of it” attitude. So we are officially pretending it Did Not Happen.
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And yes, ongoing. See the thing is there’s a lot of family social stuff this time of year for us and it tends to bleed over a lot more into less a few days of holidays so much as a couple of weeks. And when we get a day spare it becomes more a case of “we’re alone! ALONE!!!!” and not wanting to do anything else. Except the damn neighbour

So some quick whistle-stops before I go into detail when I have time

We managed to get through the whole season without throwing any food away. Considering how much we bought? Impressive.

My brother didn’t manage to get up from Wales. This officially makes him Public Enemy Number One for being in the land of the savage leek and not with any member of his family during the holidays. He is coming up this Thursday. He Will Be Judged. Several twigs of the family tree are blaming the Welsh. No, they don’t have to make sense, they never have before.

Christmas day remains one of the hardest, most headache causing day of the year. Mum has long since called the day “Duty Day” as it becomes an endurance test of annoying relatives, policing them and keeping them happy

The whole season was tiring in general for that matter. I never find this time of year jolly with holly and other tings ending in –olly. It’s too overwhelming, there’s too much to think about and there’s zero privacy

There were fail moments. Big horrible make my brain melt moments. But a lid was kept on things because a) therapy and pills b) more pills c) booze which shouldn’t mix with pills, d) my over-using the line “stop now and I’ll pretend you didn’t say it. Otherwise we have to have an argument, you may say something unforgiveable and then I have to kick you out/storm out and not speak to you either”. Not perfect because “pretending they didn’t say it” doesn’t mean they didn’t say it but it was at least a non-escalation

That being said, I can feel the… fraying. No time for peace, no time for privacy, none of my own space, all these people in my house, all those days outside my house, the neighbour’s oh-so-fun-literature, the arguments, the fail, the sniping, the general family being family… I can hear the thin ice of my psyche cracking

Beloved has long loved Steam, but has now developed a disturbing addiction to it. We may be bankrupt by February at this rate. And he keeps tempting me with things.

I still have Christmas cake left. And it is rich and yummy. And I have Baileys double cream

I also have a lot of mussel meat. Not mussels in the shells, just mussel meat. Need to decide what to do with them
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There is an ongoing trope of GBLTQ people as servants, adjutants and otherwise assistants in the life of straight people. I say trope because we see this a lot on TV and in books, but really trope is inaccurate because this is one of those that has bled out a lot into real life as well – and it's deeply problematic.

In fiction we see a lot of side-kicks, a lot of side-characters, mentors, advisers – always there to lend a hand and support to a straight protagonist. And this leaks – ye gods does it leak – into the real world. Not just with so many GBLTQ people being unable to find a depiction of themselves centre stage – but also in how we're often treated.

Just look at the GBF trope. I don't really have to say more about it since I've already ranted about it a lot – but again, we are treated as accessories, servants adjutants to other people's lives.

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So my body and brain are sitting down and Having Words with me about this no sleep thing. As a life-long insomniac and someone who fills his days far too damn full, and a night owl by preference, I'm usually pretty good at operating without much sleep. I often potter around in a state of "damn I could use a nap".Which is kind of how I worked, I was used to it - being vaguely tired was always something that could be worked through until I could have sufficient space on a weekend to sleep myself out.

But now? Now Brain and Body are presenting bills waaaay too early. Definitely pouting and refusing to play. A couple of days of less sleep and I'm all kinds of fugly. Beloved says it's because my "normal" sleep patterns are already insufficient since I've cut back for so long - I'm starving myself after short rations. I don't know, I used to pull many an all nighter and not be this badly hit. Ugh, maybe I'm getting old

In other news, brother and my 2 cousins are lurking around still. Since they were all in disparate parts of the country I ended up being a central meeting point to discuss their upcoming holiday (cousin 1 lives in Dubai and has invited them). Brother will probably be lurking around for the rest of the week. Nice to see them all, but won't be joining them on holiday despite the many many many invites (take a hint!)



It occurs to me that except for these and the odd word with the parents, I've gone weeks with very very little contact with the Huge Extended Family of Doom. I am falling off the map. A large, very large, part of me is vaguely panicked by this, vaguely guilty by this and is demanding I contact people, remind them I'm alive, catch up on the gossip, have an argument, check the social calendar and do all the other things we're supposed to do in the family. A much smaller but very determined part of me is demanding to know why I want to do this, why I'm not content to let the rift widen and why I can't just enjoy the peace. I've compromised on an open ended "I'll do it tomorrow/next week/when I'm less busy". Procrastination works in my favour

Beloved is working bad times this fortnight. Not working more, but we've done some comparisons and we're probably going to be working at different times - meaning we'll be free at different times. Gah, I hate it when it falls this way. And he has to be away this weekend *sulks*

Work has its ups and downs. In one of those odd strings of events, many of my colleagues have had random life stuff happen that means they cannot work/have to work less/have to work less flexibly. One ironic part of this is that I dropped arsehole client, then had to deal with him 3 times more because they tried to shuffle him off on someone else in the firm. I then had to have an argument about them basically giving me BACK the client I'd dropped by having me cover the lawyer who they gave him to. After much struggles, I think the firm has now dropped him. I don't know for sure because I've adamantly refused to look at a single thing connected to his case.


While this all means more work load, it means more work load because a legitimate issue has arisen, so I resent it less than I do the "we've tasken on more cases than we can manage" or "X has screwed up/is lazy/slacking please fix it/fill in" work load burdens I usually see. Also they're much more appreciative and aware of the hours and work and miracles I'm doing, rather than treating it as natural and normal. Which is nice. Of course, a well appreciated and praised doormat is still a doormat so I am extremely ready to cry foul should I end up doing to lions' share - again.

I think I may either subconsciously trying to reward/pet/treat Beloved or possibly murder him, given the puddings I've been making. Treacle Duff will reduce your lifespan by several years, but by gods its worth it and still one of his favourites. Still, you shouldn't eat it every day... even if it is easy and quick and sooo very goooood
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This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

Genealogy is something of a familial obsession with my kin. The never ending quest to push the records as far as they can and fine every slight tiny detail about the lives of people you never met who died years, decades, even centuries before we were born. It's vaguely creepy to be honest.

As you can probably tell, I've never really got it, not to the degree that consumes my family. I don't understand why they're so frustrated that my grandfather's family has only oral records, no paperwork. I can understand lamenting the tragedy of the times when considering how many of my male ancestors died at sea – and how many of my female ancestors ended in work houses or the numbers who were working gruelling physical labour into their 80s – but I don't understand the personal almost grieving that often accompanies each revelation, like it was a personal loved one who suffered such straits. Perhaps it's because, while we're an immensely vast and almost disturbingly close knit family, I've always been an outsider – I don't feel many bonds with my living kin, let alone those long dead.

Of course, I've had issues with genealogy before, specifically about my great uncle Ralph who is listed on the tree as single. Even the big obituary scrap book (yes they keep an obituary scrap book. Because that's not creepy morbid at all, right? Of course you've never seen them compete to see who manages to put the most column inches in the local newspaper whenever one of the family shuffles off their mortal coil. It kind of gives you a new definition of morbid) lists him as brother, uncle, cousin, sorely missed etc. Of course, he lived another man for oooh, 20, 30 years? Oh no official record, no obituary, not record on the tree – but I've heard enough rants about “Henrietta” and how he “stole Ralph's money”. I always wonder who Uncle Henry was (and it causes no small ructions that I insist on calling him uncle) but the family hasn't even remembered his last name.


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BBQ day

Apr. 22nd, 2011 12:58 pm
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And there is so much meat in the house it is almost scary..... HMMMMMMMM meat!

I have 5 different marinades for chicken, I have ribs and kebabs and burgers and kebabs and sausages and kebabs and more sausages and we have pork chops and lamb steaks and kebabs and I've just put the bread dough in the oven for making burger buns and we have peppers and corn on the cob.

Oh and salad. For some reason. Oh and pickles and salad dressing and more dressing. Ah salad makes sense now.

Oh and we have kegs and bottles and glasses and mixers so enough booze to kill a large rhinoceros

So, have food, salad, booze and disapproving relatives.

Wait, disapproving relatives?

Apparently it being Good Friday, I am supposed to eat fish. It's apparently a rule. And apparently adding prawns to the BBQ does not count..

I'm not Christian and I don't think all non-Catholics (or even all Catholics) follow this anyway so I am bewildered at their need to enforce some kind of religious prohibition on my menu. The counter-argument was that it's “tradition” yeah, it's Christian tradition, not mine – and perhaps tradition because we WERE a fishing port and the reason people ate fish every Friday was because it was the end of the damn week and it was CHEAP. It was the food you ate when you were down to your last pennies – and now fish costs waaay more than the lovely animal corpses. Hmmmmm dead coo-beastie *drool*

Anyway, apparently it's bad and wrong. Pfft, the same traditions say I'm bad and wrong so I may as well eat whatever the hell I want to eat. Now pass the lovely lovely chickens, Beloved has to burn the outside and lightly warm the inside to create a perfect salmonella filling.


And it's SUNNY! Normally the weather drops rain, sleet, hail, snow and canned fish on us every time we try to BBQ.

IT IS A SIGN! My BBQ is officially approved of. So there.


(Still haven't forgiven Beloved. Even if it was on sale and didn't cost £500 but cost £280. STILL NOT OK!)

oooh boooze. See you later, well, assuming I can reach the keyboard. Booze + food poisoning suggests no.


Also, I should probably get dressed.
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Spent most of the day at Beloved's parents with them and his siblings which is AWKWARD.

Not that they aren't nice people. They are, very very very very very very nice. And polite. OH so polite.

Whyyyy?

Well, see his dad is/was/something a raging homophobe. And when his son came out he had a gear clash and landed on "THIS IS MY SON! SCREW YOU PREJUDICE I WILL NOT HURT HIM!!" and Beloved has never ever reported a bad incident from him and he even made an effort to clean his tongue of casual homophobia once Beloved came out (in fact, his parents dealt far better with his coming out than mine).

But then there's me. I am "NASTY GAY WHO IS NOT MY SON!" which runs smack bang into "BUT HURTING HIM WILL HURT SON! MUST... FIGHT... PREJUDICE". Which leads to him almost visibly internally struggling. It's not as bad as it WAS of course the years have worn off the edges but every now and then you see the sudden "zomg-I-am-constipated-and-trying-to-shit-out-a-hippo" look and know he's having a conflict moment. Or occasionally he'll look like someone just hit him with a plate-armoured smurf as something homophobic was heading up out of the mouth and his internal censors got there JUUUUUUST in time. And then of course the times when the censors don't get there. And I don't know what's worse, the times they don't and he doesn't realise it and he rambles on with this big nasty THING hanging over the conversation, or the times he realises and then doesn't know whether to change the subject and pretend it didn't happen or apologise. And sometimes it's like really big and blatant like an utter unambiguous slur. Generally he stays as quiet as he can and tries to avoid direct conversation with me. Which is alllll warm and fuzzy.

And then there's his mother who has much the sam attitudes, but better self-censors. She covers not by carefully avoiding me, but by chatting in nervous tension all the time. And it's like the QUEEN IS HERE to visit! And she's like, TOTALLY JUDGING YOU. The TEA was put in that cup BEFORE the milk! ONE IS NOT AMUSED! The Royal Disapproval has been EARNED.

I think she rehearses every word she says in her head before saying it and she speaks to me with quite ridiculous formality. hey, it's your son-in-law of 5 years, not the tax inspector.

Then there is his older sister who is 9 kinds of awesome. Yes yes she is. But she also has a sense of humour, a wicked one. And when she sees the AWKWARD she POKES it she does. Which means at the first stammer she will push the conversation to be GAY ISSUES ALL THE TIME and then giggle as people tie themselves in knots. Which, y'know I'm sure is great fun for her, but generally just makes things more awkward.

And his younger sister who is COOL AND EDGY. Yes. *ahem*. She always has a joke, a joke that is EDGY. And Beloved says she always has had and he always threatens to respond with edged weapons and if we're REALLY lucky, we can then have a discussion of "pc-ism" round the dinner table that she will then return to ALL FREAKING NIGHT until someone threatens her with violence if she doesn't stop it.


In general I give them both big props for the effort they put in, and big side-eyes for having to. Ye gods guys we've been married since 2006. We've lived together since, what, 2001? 2002? And started dating a few months after that (don't ask, it's complicated) you've had time to become used to this idea, damn it. I think 5 years of wedded chaos is long enough for you to acclamtise to the fact that "ZOMG! I have a son-in-law where a daughter-in-law should be?!" I often wonder how they talk when we're not there (most awesome sister says I do NOT want to know).


It's not as awful as it sounds, I guess. Most of the time TEH GAY is forgotten and we actually act *gasp* family like! And then something will happen, his dad will think of something and I will suddenly become invisible because he has remembered TEH GAY. Or edgy sister will make a joke (or bring up last awkwardness). Or his mother will relax enough not to rehearse a sentence or his dad's self-censorship will fail and there will be badness...

Beloved always feels a little mauled coming back, but is always quick to point out my family is waaaay worse (which is true, I guess). He's currently sleeping it off. I will make him big sticky sweet things (I mean BAKING you sick sick people) and take his mind off things tomorrow.
sparkindarkness: (STD)

Well, that was unpleasant

So we have a morning spent playing the black tie game (who has a black tie? What do you mean you don’t have a black tie, who can we borrow a black tie off?! Which ends up with me pointing out that I have a dozen black ties if people would just tell me they needed them) and Beloved stealing one of my suits (Beloved needs his own suit. I was measuring him for a suit but every time I do we get distracted)

The funeral begins with the long procession of public grief. The big big cars drive up, one with the box inside…

…aside, I hate coffins. I really hate coffins even more than I hate corpses. You see the pretty box covered in lilies and you know that it contains the shell of a loved one. I find it creepy, morbid and really sad especially as it is toted around and placed centre stage on a literal pedestal so you can all stare at the empty shell. Ugh ugh ugh…

…and another big car that carried me, dad, mum and my brother along behind the hearse. And then we did the freaking 75 minute long grief tour. You know the one, where you drive behind the coffin (so that’s THERE in front of you ALL the damn time) slowly through the town to the crematorium. I don’t know if it’s a local or national thing but there is always a vast respect for a funeral procession – even on dual carriage ways people wouldn’t over take us. And of course all pedestrians stop whatever they’re doing to stop, bow heads and give respect to the dead and Most Sad of Mourners. Which is nice but discomforts me when I am one of the Most Sad – and I’m not even sure why.

Anyway, this goes on for an eternity (75 minutes, I kid you not) which is spent in looong silence with odd bouts of crippling small talk because you don’t want to say anything that is too light (because that would be disrespectful) but nor do you want to talk about the deceased because you could fray someone’s very careful control and all the time the box is right there in front yelling “STARE AT ME! There’s a corpse inside!”

And then we arrived, meaning the MOST fun part of the day had ended.

At this point, reunited with Beloved I glue myself to him and find we’ve been moved from the original chapel because it was too small. Beloved looks kind of shell shocked and a cousin whispers hastily to me “Someone put out a three-line whip.” Because the place is FULL. It’s also definitely time to resolve the whole “should I shouldn’t I” pill drama and firmly tick the “hell yes I should.”

I should have expected it. Before her descent into Alzheimers, Nana was a major fixture of the family. Of course the whole clan was going to turn out. And it was February and no-one’s got a good reason to party in February.

So Beloved sits behind me during the actual ceremony because the Most Sad of Mourners must all sit at the front so we can be stared at (but at least I secured him directly behind me so he could whisper about “Angels in bling” when the priest read some Luke verse about “Resplendent Apparel”).

And the ceremony begins and I start to tune out as much as I can. It was not only a religious ceremony, it was an aggressively religious ceremony, Jesus was everywhere. He couldn’t even mention things like “We will now remember {Nana}” nope, we got to remember her through Jesus. I knew there’d have to be some religion because Nana was Christian in a “god is watching me and judging me and hating everything I do, I’m so afraid” kind of way, but none of the Most Sad of Mourners were.

And if it were more High Church he’d have been speaking Latin and waving a censer of incense around. Even my brother said to me “if he gets out a cup and wafers I am out of here.” And what’s with the praying with your arms outstretched to the side and upwards, like you’re holding a giant beachball over your head?

And then there’s the eulogy. Oh, how I hate eulogies. Someone who never ever met the deceased is now going to talk about them to a room full of people who knew them, loved them, respected them, were friends and family to them. It’s like a life autopsy. We could have had a pathologist stand up and talk about the state of her liver – it would be that personal and meaningful. At least he wouldn’t have got stuff wrong. And the sanitisation “And she lived life to the fullest” no she didn’t, she lived life constantly afraid of what other people would think of her, constantly conforming and anxious. “And her husband doted on her every whim” no, everyone did what she wanted because she was stubborn and demanding and would have everything her way. I know you’re not going to speak ill of the dead – but why lie to all the people who knew about her? Because to me that says “she was a nasty piece of work so let’s talk about some completely fictional person instead.”

Anyway, just a second before I was about to stand up and ask for a real vicar rather than this poor parody, the interminable ceremony, terminated. We all stood and waited to some generically depressing music until some flunky indicated that the Most Sad of Mourners could leave (first of course, so we can be paraded past everyone else who can’t leave until we’ve gone)

We have the line outside where the oodles of mourners all pay their respect to the Most Sad of Mourners and we hover trying to help dad in case of imminent collapse since we’re all now ground zero of the grief explosion.

And then it’s back to the echoing hall that has been rapidly moved because of the sheer number of family for the traditional eating, drinking and gossiping with hundreds of family including so many I have been avoiding and refusing to answer calls from… yeah.

It was of the awful. I had to move away from mum, dad and my brother in case various issues intrude on the Most Sad of Mourners zone (keep dashing back for essential dad propping up, less as he got more and more drunk as the evening progressed)

And, yeah it was awful. They were awful. The usual suspects were awful. The night was awful. It was a whole lot of awful.

And I got through it without too much damage. I don’t know if it was the pill, an epiphany or just too much damn emotional crap, but my brain looked at the usual “be hurt and wounded and have a triggered panic attack reaction in the toilets while a migraine beats away” response and said “nah, we’re not going to do that. Let’s have some rage and beat people to death with metal platters!”

So while there was a very very very very very very very very good chance I’d yell “fuck you and the horse you road in on” and try to strangle people with their own tie, there wasn’t much chance of me running our the room weeping either. My temper was in danger of breaking, not me.

Which, hmm is progress I guess? Feels like progress. I’m going to call it progress, even if I did go home and break things

Of course, it does look like my family is now getting the same reaction that stranger/acquaintance ‘phobes get, which makes me wonder if the family ties are now ashes in my mind, but I’m not sure that matters too much either.

But yeah – a long long long day. A painful day and generally an awful day, but funerals are never really fun times are they?

At least the funeral served it’s purpose for Dad. He finally went from the “I’m going to be strong for everyone and it was a relief for everyone and she’s at peace” to “my mother is dead.” and started to fall apart. Which he’s been needing to do for the last week. He managed to get drunk and relax in the supportive arms of the vast vast vast family. The family itself managed to come together in a way we haven’t seen for a very long time and I think that helped dad to see – that many people, that many relatives all there to pay respects.

Dread

Feb. 27th, 2011 11:54 pm
sparkindarkness: (STD)

Tomorrow is not going to be a good day

A well attended family gathering – and gods’ know they’ve been bad for me in the last few months.

One I can’t avoid, can’t leave early and can’t even hide in a corner.

After months of avoiding many of them, not answering phones et al

One I can’t make a fuss during, can’t have an argument in and can’t stab people with salad servers without risking making a very hard day even harder for dad

Knowing that various relatives will most certainly not be under the same constraint being a) not as close to dad/Nana and b) not considering themselves to be doing/saying anything wrong/rude/unpleasant

On top of having to spend time in an actual religious chapel

With a member of the clergy

With a demand I be “low key” and “discreet” in such a location in front of such people (I’m not going there, I won’t and can’t without having an argument or fuss which can’t happen)

Feeling emotionally raw and conflicted and waiting to see if burief grief will unearth itself during the proceedings

And desperately not wanting to make this day about me.

Gods give me strength

Funeral

Feb. 23rd, 2011 01:49 pm
sparkindarkness: (STD)

Nana never had any savings. Well she never really had a chance to have any savings. She and granddad worked form the first moment they were able to until ill health had them fired. Granddad had a nasty disease that caused his bones to keep growing in very painful ways (I don’t know the details, only what family passed on). He was a trawler-man, a job that was horrendous for a man with his health problems. As he deteriorated he became a fish fileter, until he collapsed walking to work because he just couldn’t walk any longer. He was fired, no redundancy, no pension

Nana worked in shops all her life, she retired aged 79 because she was getting confused. Naturally, no pension.
So saving was something that was never possible for them, saving, owning their own home, owning much of anything really.
One thing she did pay for were her insurances. Little penny policies she paid out every week and when one was finished, she’d start another – because, as was common of families living where and when she did, you had to do something to pay for your funeral. It was a thing – you had to be able to pay for your funeral. Before she lost her ability to interact with the world, she used to go funeral shopping. Yes, I didn’t understand it much either.

So now we have a dozen of these tiny insurance policies. Half of them are pre-decimalisation. So I’m looking at policies which pay out “£24 7s 12d” here. This is going to be fun.
And it doesn’t help that the insurance companies don’t listen

Company: You need a certified copy of the death certificate

Me: I know

Company: That means you can’t just photocopy it

Me: I know

Company: What you have to do..

Me: I know what a certified copy is. I have several. I asked for several when we registered the death (oh and you would not believe the agro that was)

Company: But it can’t just be a photocopy

Me: you said that. I know. I said that as well

Company: Well, you have to make sure…

Me: I’m a lawyer. I know. I have had many many many certified copies made.

Company: But…

Me: sigh Ok explain to me what a certified copy is *reads book*

It was quicker to let them do the spiel.

Oh and the newspaper. The newspaper that put the date of her funeral early on the day after she died. She died Saturday, the funeral was Sunday morning apparently. In fact, only a few hours later. (Hah, given the drama, we couldn’t even have registered the death in that time). She’s being cremated, the ovens wouldn’t have heated up. The only way this could have happened is if she was strolling through the cemetery, had a heart attack and keeled over into a conveniently open grave. Did no-one think when checking the message to see if they got it right? *double sigh*

Now legions of relatives are ringing and squawking about it. Dad and I both have changed our answer machine messages “yes, we know the paper got the date wrong. The real funeral is on Monday at..” it occurs to me I don’t know the time. To the to-do list!

And now there’s a vicar lurking around the edges trying to talk to people. Ugh ugh ugh I hate hate hate hate religious funerals, I really do. That’s dad’s job, I’ll do as much as I can to help him organise everything but I draw the line at enduring clergymen, I really do.

Ugh and the funeral is going to be a family event that I can’t leave early. Maybe I do need some pills.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

A great 2011 so far isn’t it?

And it’s another one of those highly conflicted deaths where you know what you’re supposed to feel and what you actually feel is nowhere close to it and then you feel guilty and it’s all snarled.

Nana was 92. She was registered blind. She was deaf (technically she could wear hearing aids to give her decent hearing but… she couldn’t understand them and was horrified by the things in her ears). She had advanced alzheimers. Very advanced. For the last 10 years she’s gone from having odd, slightly disturbing and concerning moments, to being completely disconnected from reality.

She didn’t know anyone, she didn’t remember anyone. She thought she was a child again and wanted her mum and dad and didn’t understand why everyone was keeping them from her. She was always angry, always said – for months, years. She used to scream and rage, or sit and just chant “nana, nana, nana, nana”(she didn’t know her grandmothers, so we didn’t even know who she was calling for) for hours upon hours on end until you had to beg her to drink. And she’d bite and scratch and punch and pinch. And she’d taken to wandering, she’d just get up and walk. She couldn’t get out of the sheltered home she was in, but she’d just walk the corridor for hours and hours until she fell over exhausted or someone managed to convince her to sit down – which was so hard because she wouldn’t – couldn’t – listen and she couldn’t understand and she was looking for things that were long gone or maybe never existed and she couldn’t even tell you what she was looking for. And she’d be angry and upset and cry because she never found it.

But above all I know that in the last… 6 months? Year? 2 years? Gods, 5 years? She has never been happy. She has been constantly afraid and upset and angry. Every damn waking moment she has lived in a personal hell of uncertainty and loss and rage.

And I look at that and her passing and I think… relief. Relief that she is, for the first time in years, not upset, not sad, not angry, not grieving, not raging, not fearing, not endlessly, constantly unhappy.

And I think that is something that the whole family feels.
I think dad’s having problems above and beyond what’s natural. He’s generally incapable of dealing with grief and emotion. He wants to be strong for someone but he’s the primary griever. When granddad died my brother and I were children, he could be strong and powerful for us. He doesn’t have to do that now and I don’t think he, a man who wouldn’t let himself cry at his own dad’s funeral, can deal with his own grief without distraction.
Worst I think is that while he grieves he feels the same relief we all do. And that makes him feel guilty – after all, one shouldn’t feel relief about one’s mother’s passing, right? Even if it’s natural and reasonable – well, we’re not always rational and reasonable people are we? So dad’s several kinds of conflicted and needs to work this through.

What annoys me personally the most is that I don’t remember nana. She’s been falling to this disease for 10 years. I can’t remember her before it had her, it’s all been replaced by her confusion and fear and anger. I can’t remember her as my grandmother, as a person who even knew she had grandchildren let alone knew who I was. I can’t grieve for her because all my memories of her are overwhelmed by who she became.

I feel rather angry about that. I grieved for my other 3 deceased grandparents. I wept for them, I felt pain, I missed them and I clung to fond memories of them. I’ve lost that and Nana lost that. She deserved to have been loved and lost and grieved for just as my other 3 grandparents were – but the disease didn’t just take her, it took the memory of her as well and the opportunity to properly respect and mourn her.

Not good times. Not good times at all

sparkindarkness: (STD)

In a break from holiday tradition we managed to go, well, so far, without one single thing being ste on fire. Not one single thing. This may be a first in the history of our holidays. My rather extreme nervousness around naked flames is thankful, however.

However, my great aunt did die on Christmas Eve, which was rather unpleasant. It is the commonly held view by her surviving sisters that she died on Christmas Eve out of spite, that she always had the worst possible timing and that she always did know how to ruin a party. One learns at this point that when relatives over the age of 80 start sticking in their knives it’s best just to nod and smile and shuffle away, lest they turn on you

But then it was announced that we should drink to her memory and since she was 97 that was a lot of memory to drink to.

It may seem kind of heartless – but she was 97 and her quality of life had declined to an atrocious level leading to more a sense of relief than mourning. Still for a while I have to do the Family Lawyer duty of making sure her death and all trhe stuff around it is handled properly,. especially since her children, while generally nice people,  aren’t the deepest thinkers out there

We did go to mother’s as is traditional, but the badness was kept at bay largely because Nana and 2 great aunts were also in attendence and the aunts were busy complaining about the great aunt who was so thoughtless as to die at Christmas. Nana, sadly had one of her bad days. She has very advanced Alzheimers, doesn’t recognise, well, anyone really, flails around desperately trying to fit the world into her shattered recollections of what it was like in 1940 and gets extremely agitated when it doesn’t fit – which it never does.

So Christmas Day was.. difficult. More than most even. But nothing burned and it’s nothing we didn’t expect. It’s always been the Season of Duty & Awkwardness & Hard Work and never really been something of greta joy per se. Now is the holiday for us – the aftermath. Familial Duty is Done and now you can actually enjoy the peace and the shinies and the left overs (of which there are stunning, awe inspiring, terrifying amounts) this is our real holiday

Especially since brother mine couldn’t get through for Christmas and is now due on Wednesday for a second min, duty-free Christmas, which should be interesting, but at the same time drags the whole social aspect of Christmas out even further when I just want to curl up with Beloved, reading ebooks. My hermit senses are screaming at me

Donotwantness continues apace with possible eye opening melt downs directed at the parental units. Torn between hoping for results and irritation that it happened.

Ah busy busy busy. Also did not get to watch Dr. Who Christmas special. I am disappoint

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Obviously may be a bit awol with the hols. I’ve had my yule, my solstice, my party, my spirituality and my rockingness which I will return to when I remember :)

Now is the familial duty bit with lots of socialising mingling and what Beloved repeatedly calls my “gfot something to prove” cooking which I ibject to – everyone cooks and bakes a lot this time of year. And besides, any cook with pretentions in teh family has to throw their hat in the ring. It is known. It has absolutely nothing to do with my issues. No. Not at all. of course not.

So baking cooking and enduring family. Let’s hope the season of goodwill (HA!) will give them plenty of other things to bicker about and leave me alone

And no, Uncle Fail cannot have my baked goods. So there.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

And has a new phone number it seems. Grrrr, damn it family when I don’t return your calls there’s a REASON. And the reason is not that I am setting up a new Krypton Factor Challenge and you are not in a time contest to see if you can make me pick up the phone/answer the door when you call whether I want to or not.

Anyway he called me and was nice and polite *shock* because of course he has a problem. A legal problem. And he needs to talk to a lawyer. And, wouldn’t you know, he has a nephew whose a lawyer. Yes, that would be me.

….

What is the etiquette of telling a relative to go fuck himself when he asks for freebies after, well, years of treating you like shit that has escalated in recent months to a familial war that threatens to cut you off from the majority of your kind?

I have to admit I had a lot of wrestling on this one. My instinct is to help family and it is something that is drilled into us from a very young age in this outlandishly huge clan. When family calls you help. If you hate them, you help. It doesn’t matter what relationship you have, it doesn’t matter what your history is, it doesn’t matter – if it’s family and you can help you help.

But Uncle Fail has not treated me like family. His treatment is dehumanising and his actions and my refusal to tolerate them have lead to a knock on effect that may end up with my being severed from vast branches of my family – if not all of them. Surely, a lot of that is them as much as it is him, and even me in refusing to back down, but a large part of it lies at his door.

Because of him and the downward spiral his actions set off, I have had less contact with my extended family in the last few months than I’ve had in the last 20 years. In fact, I’ve had less contact in this past month than I’ve had in a week usually. That huge great massive ridiculous, amusing, infuriating, fascinating mass of eccentricity that is my family has been cut off from me, because of what he set in motion and my unwillingness to tolerate his shit any more. I can’t just pretend that didn’t happen.

And, besides which, if I work on his legal problem I am going to have to spend more time with him, a lot more time. He has never, in all the years since he was told I was gay, being able to refrain from homophobia. Never. And that has included when I have helped him before. I have no reason to believe he would stop now. I have no reason to believe he could stop now, for that matter. And I certainly have no reason to believe he sees a need to stop now.

I am not healthy. I’m learning ways to deal with the do-not-wantness but it’s avoidance and making space for it and allowing windows for collapsing and putting it off – it’s not actually DEALING with it. And the little dealing I am doing is leaving me more fragile, not less.

To work with him would expose me to more triggers, more fail, more pain and more risk of my irritatingly broken mind shattering rather messily.

I don’t owe him that risk and I don’t owe him help and I don’t owe him having to endure his crap.

I’m not doing it. The man is rich enough to hire his own lawyer – he’s rich enough to hire his own squad of lawyers. He doesn’t need me to waste what little pro-bono time I already have on his worthless self.

And so I told him – though I was polite. I got a snarky comment back about how I refuse to help anyone who won’t “validate” my “lifestyle” and then I hung up. (He NEARLY got through a whole conversation without homophobia, nearly!)

Countdown to family explosion, screaming meemies and general hysteria over my refusal to help in 10… 9…. 8… Ooops, I seem to have turned my phone off.

And I think this calls for an early day. Work owes me, it’s Friday (have I ever mentioned that if you want a quick judgement, arrange it for a Friday? The legal profession does not do Friday afternoons if we can avoid it ;P) and I have a horrible feeling I’m going to have my own screaming meemies and doing that in the office is unprofessional. Especially if you’ve already done it Once… twice… yeah some times this week.

sparkindarkness: (STD)

So uncle Fool, brother of uncle Fail came round to talk at me (yes, word choice is deliberate).

It seems he can’t get through on the phone – it’s almost like I’m call screening, as if I don’t want to speak to him…

…no?! Imagine that!

He wanted to talk about Uncle Fail and I made it clear that no, I did not. And if he wanted to he could leave because I refused. So he kept on talking and I kept on saying “I’ve already said all I need to.” It’s much easier when they’re on the phone, you can hang up on him. I haven’t quite reached the point of manhandling my relatives out of the room yet – but, frankly, I’m beginning to think I should.

After 15 minutes of me sat in silence, refusing to talk, glaring at him and he KEEPS TALKING I went and got a book. Subtle, right? Well, I’m kind of done being polite to people who have zero manners – and since I had (verbally at least) kicked him out of my house and he refused to leave, I think he gets off lightly with me just pretending he isn’t there.
And then he pointed out that cousin G, and I quote “is very happy the way she lives and she’s a lesbian.” And he wishes I could be happy like that.

Oh, sigh.

See, G is married to a man and has 2 wonderful children. She is not a lesbian and has never identified as such. She’s bisexual, with a very strong preference for men. And, yes, she is deliriously happy in the life she leads and has said she’d never have it any other way.

I’m not bisexual. Not even a teeny, tiny, itty bitty bit. Not one astronomically small, infinitesimally minute iota. I’m not even remotely attracted to women, have never been attracted to any woman I have ever seen, have never had sex with a woman, have never wanted to and have never touched a woman in a sexual way. It is so completely and totally not me. So, no, I could not now or ever live like cousin G.

And, besides which, I AM married. I don’t want someone else – male or female (alright, if you can get me David Tenant nekked and on my bed?Well, I’d share with Beloved, I promise). I cannot even begin to imagine how anyone could think it’s ok to say to someone that they’d be happier with someone else other than their spouse (unless, of course, we’re talking an abusive situation).

And I am happy. Ok, no, I’m not at the moment. I’m in several kinds of nasty do-not-want-ness. But in general life, mental wolverines aside? Yes, I’m happy, content and fulfilled – a million more times more than I would be without Beloved. I can’t imagine what I would be like if I hadn’t met him – no, wait, I can – and it’s a frightening frightening thought because I am horrendously aware of how deeply messed up I was. Beloved has kept my body and soul together – and I mean that in a literal sense. To say I’d be happier without him – to say nothing about the fact I’d suddenly have to turn bisexual or straight – is… I actually don’t know what it is. “Insult” is just too damn mild a word for this. It’s outrageous, it’s intolerable.

So… yeah guess what I did? That’s right, I just told another uncle what I thought of him in undiplomatic terms. Ok,not as bad as before as we don’t have the same history of antagonism, but I didn’t tread nicely either.

I’m beginning to think I’m in some kind of ridiculous fairy tale. “The First Uncle came, but he was a Raging Bigot and went home with his ears on fire. And then the Second Uncle came, but he was a clueless fool, and left with his empty head echoing…”

Thankfully, my mother’s remaining sibling is several times better than his older brothers, so maybe we can avoid the third instalment of this tale.

And, oh the family is going to be pissed at this one. I may change my answer-phone message “if you’re a relative calling to defend the homophobic actions of my uncles, please scream several obscenities at a mirror, it will save me time.”

sparkindarkness: (STD)

Rather completely from twitter, email and LJ et al. Put this down to Point 6 on the Sparky self-destruction cycle. Not exactly surprisingly, Spirit Day, while wonderful and heartening, wasn’t something I could deal with and after turning my twit-pic purple and taking one look at my twitter feed my brain went *schlup* and I stepped away from the computer. I stepped back, schlupped again and crawled away and into a big friendly bottle (mental note: Alcohol response to Triggers? BAD bad bad habit, must be stopping that. That’s certainly borrowing problems for the future)

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