Saturday, 24 March 2007

Interview Me Meme

This Meme has an honourable roll of previous Interviewers and Interviewees, most recently Charles Dawson and Goldfish. I volunteered and asked Charles to Interview Me.

The Rules of the Meme:
Leave me a comment saying: "Interview Me". I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better. If I already know you well, expect the questions may be a little more intimate ! You WILL update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else, in the post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

These are the five questions from Charles Dawson:

1. Is there a piece of music which has particular associations for you, bad or good?

Inevitably for me its a choral piece, Gustav Holst's Hymn of Jesus. Inevitably it has a religious theme, as most choral works have that basis or inspiration, but these words are from the Gnostic gospels*. Because I sang it in rehearsal week after week, hummed and sang it to myself daily, then performed it in a choir in a magnificent space with orchestra, it lodged itself in my soul. All this at a time when I was struggling with the end of my marriage, which was physically, emotionally and financially exhausting; aware of but unable to do much about my Bump's desolation, or my own. Singing the gnostic Christ's words: I am a couch, rest on me threatened to reduce me to sobs every time. (The Christ figure as the positive animus, you understand.) It has settled into my life as a beautiful inspiring piece, that now I have joy in listening too and a few shivers down my spine at the divine scoring and choice of texts.

2. People of our generation in this country were usually brought up in a religious tradition. Have you shucked all that off or would you still describe yourself as a believer.

Well and truly shucked off. However, my upbringing was non-conformist, then in my mid 20s I joined a choir and discovered Christian beliefs in an ancient and entirely different, more subtle, setting which offset to some extent the loathing I felt for all things religious.

Now, certainly not a believer in the figurehead of God the Father who directs our lives and gives us what we want if only we are good and ask nicely; which figurehead restricts, actively prevents, the maturing of many souls. What I think of as 'God the Bottleneck' constricting evolution; the churches's teachings discouraging consciousness and preventing individuals from taking responsibility for themselves and others.

Nor am I believer in a religious faith or practice but, nonetheless, I consider myself a convert from non-conformism to anglican, for the space, peace, ritual and distanced impersonal prescribed services, often with intelligent sermons, safely removed from the dumbed down teachings and happy clappy evangelism that threatens to invade one's personal and spiritual space, at every turn. Which is where my dysfunctional family landed young teenage me after one of my father's catastrophic breakdowns, which was viewed as a religious conversion.

However, I think a belief system is a good thing, once religion has been sloughed off, and the most effective ones, in keeping us afloat in this life, are those belief systems arrived at individually, a pick and mix if you like. So mine is based on Jung, with a smattering of Celtic Christianity and a good dollop of Quakerism. All richly stirred together and sweetened by music, art, architecture, stained glass and communion wine in a silver goblet; taken those rare times when I visit one of three places where I feel safe and at ease; a school chapel, a tiny 12th century non-parish church, and the Cathedral. Here, comfortable knowing that I will not be descended upon by evangelising nincompoops; able to contemplate the sermon and not be preached at, and at ease with the people, the service, I take Communion. Most definitely not as the body and blood etc. but as a communal companionable act; at the school chapel among people I know and respect or in the cathedral where all are strangers. In both places I am in communion with my fellows while we contemplate what it is all about, what we are and how we are to live honestly and keep on keeping on.

Which is all quite a surprising thing to find myself doing; a surprising outcome given that I believe I have most certainly shucked off all my religious upbringing. I am not part of the life of my or any parish church, so many would not consider me a practising Christian; myself included.

3. What is your worst nightmare ?

Nightmare literal or nightmare metaphorical ?

Literal - the recurring one through childhood, of being completely disorientated and dizzy in a moving heaving sea of linking staircases going up, down and around. That probably came from being born and raised in a prefab/bungalow, so I didn't learn ascending and descending on a daily basis. Also, that nightmare told how disorientated I was as a child in my chaotic dysfunctional family, where nothing was as it seemed, nothing was told as I experienced it and nothing remained where it had been. Also perhaps it may have hinted at the first signs of Meniere's; as a child my brain and balance system only very slightly unable to cope with sloping surfaces.

Metaphorical worst nightmare is being unable to fight for my right to be enabled, and funded, to live independently in my own home to my own standards. To no longer be capable, physically or mentally, of looking after my needs and being conscious of it but unable to do anything about it to protect myself from the mindless thoughtless heartless bureaucracy that already threatens to sink me. I think all crips should form local unions of the like-minded, and provide for a future lived in a commune directed by themselves (I'm thinking battlements and draw bridges), hiring and firing the staff as needed. Which could turn into anyone's worst nightmare !

4. If you could have any living creature as a pet, which would it be ?

My Airedale Sally (after whom I am here named), reincarnated into life, exactly as before, to be my companion animal. With her humour, grace, wit and style intact. With her ability to sense and see off any male who didn't smell right, whether it was the nosey postman or the potential (potentially catastrophic) date, and her total lack of shame at climbing onto the lap of all other human males who came into our lives. She was warm hearted, loving, solid and big, and always listened to me kindly and groaned in the right places. She would keep the damned cats out of the garden so the birds could visit safely. She would be the perfect wheelchair companion.

5. Who do you think has influenced you most in life (personal contact, reading, whatever) ?

'Personal contact' - Alexander, deceased. Too private.

'Reading, whatever' - Carl Gustav Jung, as a theoretical training and as experienced in personal therapy and later in training analysis. I would not have survived without the knowledge and insight his research and writings have enabled in me. Via Jung I have met people who I can be myself with and rely on. Through the study of Jung I am now mostly a 'good-enough' mother. Through the experience of Jungian therapy I am becoming, will continue to become, the person who I am meant to be. Through the Jungian lessons I have learned I hope never to make the same mistakes again. The only problem with Jung is I end up sounding pretentious.

As my answer to this question is 2/3rds male, I add, as a third, the wise old lady who founded the Jungian study group and training organisation in this part of the world, who I was at first in awe of, who then approached me with an invitation, and who now I am blessed to have as a wise old woman friend.

* see Elaine Pagels's The Gnostic Gospels.

~~ Thank you Charles for giving thought to your questions to me ~~

If you wish me to interview you; in depth or lightly (I get to choose), and whether you are new to this arena or a well known fellow blogger, please let me know in the comments box.

Labels: ,

Thursday, 22 March 2007

That's what This is - a Transitional Object !

Blogging that is - as Transitional Object - well, it works for me.

Occasionally other bloggers wonder "why" or "what" about their blogging. Sometimes such thoughts evolve into a Meme - 'why do you blog' or 'which blogs do you like reading and why'. The Seahorse inspired today's post's train of thought, which is entirely mine and may not have any resonance with your blogging, or life, experience. Also the comments conversation with Charles Dawson on my post 'Show me the way to go home', that has since been percolating and encouraging of a creative whinge. (New Blogger has apppeared to have lost the ability to provide me with the required information for a direct link. bad blogger.)

It was thinking through my comment on the Seahorse's post 'What's it all about': I said "...the blog can be one's transitional object, to hold onto, to be held by, in the process of life..."

That was in the early hours of this morning, waiting for the screaming tinnitus induced by the BSO's performance of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, to subside to levels (plural - lots of different tinnitus noises in and around my head) that would allow sleep. Instead of sitting here bemoaning that particular medical impairment, or the crap television at that hour, I blogged and googled and ebayed. Which saw me through the transition from being out in the world, socialising, enjoying a cultural experience as part of a group, albeit as a wheelchair user, (one of three there last evening, not bad out of an audience of about 600). Saw me through the transition from that to being home alone, battered by tinnitus, chilly because I cannot afford anymore heating oil and, dammit, therefore in need of a hug. Laptop as comfort blanket.

When my Bump was a toddler, each morning when I got her out of bed (that warm safe space), she would find some small object and hold it in her hand - all morning, sometimes all day. It could be a wooden block, a small figurine, a piece of lego, anything provided it was hers, was something she used a lot, or was familiar with, and it was small enough to stay within her grasp. Interestingly it was always a solid object, not soft and squidgy. Most of the time it was out of sight, enfolded in her small hand, occasionally it got in the way such as when I needed to wash her hands, in which case she just swopped which hand it was in, but never let it go.

I knew enough then to realise it was important to her needs, as she went from one place (sleep/bed/unconsciousness) to the other (walking, stairs, noises, food she did NOT want to eat). It could not be taken from her, but she would relinquish it, to her pocket, or somewhere next to her, when she was ready.

When she was in senior school and I had time to begin being me again, I did a three year training course in Psychodynamic Counselling. When we trainees progressed through the canon to Winnicott*, I discovered what her important dearly held object was - a Transitional Object - to ease the anxiety and answer the need for support when moving from one state of being to another. In my childhood I, like many others, had a teddy bear (till my MOTHER TOOK IT AWAY !!!).

I now know that throughout life we/I find and use transitional objects continually, but as they are culturally acceptable they are not thought of as comfort blankets, or they are objects so often used by everyone, that no one notices them for what they are. I'm thinking 'pop' music, as an essential accompaniment to puberty and attendant angst; therefore, in the order of the technological evolution; the transistor radio carried around to the annoyance of the older generation, the Walkman, the IPod. Also, how 'comfort blanket' can you get than the present need for continual texting, for reassurance that the texting One is part of the gang, in demand, in contact with the rest of the herd/group of friends. After all, we are not babies anymore are we.

Charles M Schulz creater of Snoopy retired after 50 years of wonderful cartoons.
When I use the laptop to google and ebay, there is an element of connecting and it addresses the sense of isolation - I am often too brain tired and be-fogged to be able to blog, email or talk to friends on the phone, which is on those days when I am too physically tired/in pain to go out, fulfill commitments, shop, go for a 'walk', visit or have friends visit, but when I still need some input, some stimulation and, thanks to the laptop, I can recline and go online and do not feel quite so isolated, as many other crips testify.
Today I have had to cancel two out-in-the-world things. One, because I have not yet recovered sufficient brain clarity from last evening's exertions, to cope with being in or interacting normally at lunch in the village hall with the movement and noise of twenty or so other villagers. Two, because I am too physically tired to sit up and responsibly drive the car to the lovely cranial osteopath. I am cross about the first and disppointed by the second cancellation.

Cross about the first, because I need to make myself visible in the community as me, not as that woman in the wheelchair. The Parish Plan (on which eternal committee I sat 'till I could sit no longer), identified a need for villagers to meet socially informally, rather than for specific clubs or events, to mix and get to know one another. Corny it may sound, but it has worked well over the last year. I have lived in this village for sixteen years, longer than at least half of my neighbours, the incomers who have only ever known me disabled or, because I have not engaged in the village activities that they have, think I am the new-comer. So I have found that going to the bi-monthly sharing lunch, has been worthwhile, not least so that those villagers who do not already know me from the days when I was a fit, thin, healthy, working single mum, exercising large Airedale, cutting the grass/hedge/dog, ... can discover by seeing me and talking to me that I am not the lives-alone-female-alien-on-wheels, but an intelligent capable personable lady who is interesting to engage with and DOES NOT NEED LOOKING AFTER - YES I MADE THAT quiche/salad/pudding ! Basically, it is an opportunity to educate the populace. And it builds up my defences/allies against the bullies and gossips, of which there are always some in any community, ready to take advantage of what they perceive as the dis-advantaged.

Cross about the second, because it is inevitable (rather than my personal fault) that a single 50- something disabled female in a wheelchair, has very few opportunities to be caressed by a handsome dark haired - strike that out- treated by a (handsome dark haired) cranial osteopath. He, it, the treatment, helps the dizziness, the pain, the stiffness, and he is good company, and he reassures me about my skull scar and numbness while he works at keeping the soft tissues mobile during the healing. After fifteen years of on and off treatment, he is an old friend.

Blogging about the disappointment of not be able to do these two things, helps, and with it I make the transition from being tired and fed up about not being able to be out in the world doing the things I want to do, to moving to this place of exercising my value, re-visiting my past psychodynamic training, continuing my connection to blogging friends, compared to which, many outer life connections frankly, don't come close.

(* D W Winnicott Playing and Reality available at Amazon books, but can I, today, manage to copy a direct link, dammit, no.)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Brmm Brmm, Beep Beep - Wave at my WAV

Thank You to Motability
for the government grant for the fan-dabby-dozy
B.........d conversion WAV -
wheelchair adapted vehicle.

Its beautiful but its not mine yet. Now that Motability have given the go-ahead, the conversion company will assign a vehicle to me and start the 'build', which will take three months. It is very quiet, a revolution in WAV design in the last five years since my first WAV which is a noisy open van, with a rattling wheelchair tie down bracket. The noise and echoing affects my Meniere's condition and restricts me in the time I can spend driving or being driven in it. Once I have the ultra quiet new WAV and ultra quiet wheelchair tie down system, theoretically I should have wider horizons. There will be no excuse (other than medical) for not visiting family in Yorkshire and once that duty is satisfied, if I survive it, I am so loooking forward to going further afield more often, to the beach, maybe even to London, for I so want to go to the Globe Theatre. I may just need a triple dose of the systemic steroid injected in my butt to achieve that, please.

Will there be room for one more in the pit with the Disabled Ramblers on their London tour?

The WAV design to my needs includes a remote ("it will fit in your handbag") operated auto opening rear door. Cool. And what they describe as "a dog lead with a bungee" for me to let down and bring up the power assisted ramp. I'll have a red one please.

I make no apology for mentioning a commercial enterprise. The company was created twenty five years ago, to address the specific needs of a specific newly cripped crip. This is my second B.........d conversion; they are the only company who lower the vehicle's entire rear floor, so that the floor is flat for its entire length, long enough for my six wheeled electric wheelchair - other WAVs have sloping floors, to accommodate the fuel tank or something, so the wheelchair passenger is permanently tilted back, an uncomfortable reminder of being in a dentist's chair, and in my Meniere's balance disorder, tilted me straight into a M's attack at the initial Motability assessment.

And B.........d do it with such style - and a CD player ! And loads of cup holders (one each for the gin, coffee and mineral water, if I was so inclined) and cubby holes for everything one ever thought one needed but forgot about once it was stowed away.

The only problem I have with B.........d is that ALL their advertising shows a man driving/pushing/loading a woman in a wheelchair. I have gently suggested they diversify a little and show the occasional variation of a woman pushing/loading/driving a man in a wheelchair, or maybe even a man/man or woman/woman combination; you know, as in real life.

I have known people who baulk at seeing £11,000-odd of their DLA mobility component disappear over the five year lease into Motability's coffers, never to be seen again, but I think it is a bargain, not just for the (stylish) independence but also for the peace of mind. For years I drove ancient cars and worried about them getting up hills/stalling in the rain/failing the MOT again.

It's perhaps easier for me. Being dependent on means tested benefits means I qualify for a full grant for the vehicle conversion, without any contribution from me. Also, strangely, I am better off without a 'better half' - being single means I qualify for an independent solution to transporting my wheelchair. Also, I live in a rural area, with just two buses a week (one to the nearest town and one back again) so public transport is virtually non existent. And no, the bus is not wheelchair accessible.

Transporting me and my wheels is one aspect of disability that works, for me, thanks to Motability.

Beep, beep, brmm brmm, zoom zoom.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, 17 March 2007

With Friends like these

Eric Ravilious - Water Wheel
(picture unconnected to post title, just another set of wheels)

Imagine the Scene: town centre car park by the river, returning after a quick essential shop, by chance I had seen my lovely friend, the most attractive fanciable crip in a chair I have ever known, and the sun shone and the birds sang and I felt good.
Opened up the back of the van, let down the ramp, all the while sat in the wheelchair. Caught sight of a lady walking quickly, almost trotting, across the car park straight towards me in the corner I was parked in, waving, smiling, calling.
Oh hell, I thought, my brain is not in gear as I thought it was - or - have I got the wrong specs on; because I had not the faintest idea of who she was.
"Hello," she said, "that's very good for you isn't it, lets you be independent, do you do it yourself, do you, do you drive it yourself or does someone drive it for you ?"
No, I don't know who the f... she is, so what could I say, but: "Is that ANY of your business?" "Well, I was just saying how nice it is for you." "Yes, thank you."
I can be polite, in a chilling, dismissive, patronising sort of way.
I can spot them, after eight years of being targeted; the patronising nosey people who assume my day will be made better by them giving me a little of their time and view of my life.
I can also spot the really interested ones, who are diffident, polite, apologise in advance, before they ask me about my van and wheelchair configuration. Usually they are interested because they can foresee the day they might need such equipment or they know someone who does not have the information that I can pass on.
For such as those, I have all the time in the world and the goodwill to engage with them.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Show Me The Way to Go Home

Maps like this one I can follow. I can find the route, understand the symbols, get my bearings, not get lost, can find my way back.

This map was drawn perhaps two hundred years ago, but the hills have not walked off somewhere else and the valleys would be as familiar to a time traveller from then as they are to me now. We could communicate directions to each other using ancient words for landmarks and routes that each understood.

In this virtual world, this www, I am caught with only cryptic hieraglyphics for reference points, which are meant to sign the way round but only lead me into deeper darker paths of confusion.

The laptop glitches of both hardware and software and the various wireless internet connection problems; hard, soft and firmware, have coincided with a Lupus mini flare which has scrambled my brain, so I have never known whether it has been me or them. Past experience would say "its them !" everytime, but when I got my blood results I felt, temporarily at least, that I didn't stand a chance. It seems the physical trauma involved in the skull operation, straightforward though it was, has antagonised the Lupus, and I have higher than usual levels of antibodies to my own dsDNA circulating through my system; hence brain fog, mood dampened, physically slow, greater fatigue, generally needing to go back into my shell. That frame of mind is not good. I didn't want to cancel the few social diary entries and I needed to sort out Social Services, IBM, my laptop, blogger and the bastard county library van driver's bosses, and the 2' stack of filing, so three weeks ago I had a systemic steroid injection. I should be imitating the Duracell bunny by now, but I am not. So its slowly slowly for a while.

I want to get back to that other country, where I enjoy writing posts. All I have managed to do is stop myself writing whinging posts. That is my significant achievement over recent weeks.

When I was little, with little legs, before the we had a car, on long walks home in the dark along Toll Bar Lane, my father used to sing to encourage me to keep going: "Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed ..."


Friday, 9 March 2007

Map return - test 1