Friday, 26 December 2014

Post the Hundred-and-Twenty-Fifth - a blog post for Boxing Day

Those of you who have read these ramblings before will notice that the numbers don't quite tally, since my most recent (published) post was very early in the hundreds. 'Published' is the crucial word here, though, because I just haven't had the chance to put up the intervening ones - or, indeed, the posts before them which would really bring this little collection to 125. That said, most of them are written, and soon to be published. 

I also didn't start blogging again on the 16th, mainly because the day didn't offer up the kind of new beginning I'd hoped it would. I'll give more details in the post for that day when I finish it but, basically, I got a new chair (yay!) that doesn't fit and in which I sat even worse (boo!). I'm back in my old one (on the advice of my physio and osteopath) whilst we attempt to sort it out - so I didn't think I had anything of import to write about, because everything shuts down for the holidays.

Why post today, then? Well, it seems I was wrong. After the major disappointment and discomfort of my new chair, getting back into my old one (which I had been desperate to get rid of for good) felt like heaven. That taught me something. The state of my body is not entirely dependent on external factors - far from it! - and sometimes things that are supposed to help actually hinder. The only constant in my life is me - chairs break, essay stress comes and goes (although not without staying for what feels like forever!) but I am still Jessi.

Before I get mired in potentially pretentious philosophical profundity, though, I'll leave off and simply say that I decided to take this as an opportunity to be with myself and explore. To start from scratch as if my old chair were new. After all, I didn't have many other options; my early Christmas present hadn't arrived and I still had to make it through the actual day. 

So I sat in my chair without positioning myself in the precise way I used to do, shuffling this way and that until it was 'perfect', and instead just let my body teach me what its own perfection felt like. Hence this post - because I'm not sure how, but this new strategy worked, and yesterday I had the first day completely free of pain-related tears in a very long time. Possibly even since 2007, when the first inklings of spasm appeared.

Not the most ostentatious of gifts, I know, and not as visible a marker as my blue Balliol hoody. Yet, for all its simplicity, it's the one I cherish most - it means things are changing - and I think it just might have made Christmas this year. 

Pain, you're something chronic, but I don't think you will be for much longer! Thanks, chairs - you reminded me to think outside the box - and that seems rather apt as an ending today.

Happy Boxing Day!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Post the Hundred-and-Eleventh - Letters to my Legs I

Since I posted on the first I've had some really busy days. On Thursday I spent three hours getting fitted for a new chair and seating - at last! - and on Friday I had Botox injections to relax some of the muscles in my legs, before using yesterday to recover. I want to write about both of these days in more detail but, because the next few are also pretty hectic, I won't have time. So, in order that I get back to regular posting, I've decided to offer a short poem each day for your perusal - in the form of letters addressed to my legs - to explain what I'd like to gain from this most recent round of injections. Hope you like.


Dear Legs,

Sometimes we don't get on that well.
You squeeze, I shriek, and any attempt
at a truce is almost literally like
getting blood from a stone -
because my muscles have turned to rock.

But I try to remember that 
I am my own Medusa,
though with little need for a mirror 
to show the damage I cause myself.
For all our fights, we are the same.

It seems, too, that flesh and bone are thicker even 
than the healing waters of my beloved hydro pool.
So we make the best of a spasmy situation,
turning tears into teaching, until poison
is palatable - and botulism bliss.

I send you to Coventry, tagging along
for the early autumnal drive,
sleepless though soon to be slumbering,
our mutual silence assured by an aura of anaesthesia
and the swish of a signed consent form.

Now you have our lethal nectar
trickling through your tendons,
will you, my weary wanderers,
call time on your tyranny?
I tiptoe in tentative hope.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Post the Hundred-and-Tenth - on dissertations and dear friends

I'm back!

Having been absent from this blog for quite a while now, it feels somehow apt that I return to writing with my hundred-and-tenth post, albeit a short one to fill you in on where I am in my life. I have finished my dissertation, and consequently my MA in Text & Performance, the first of my two Master's degrees. 

(That sentence will contain a surprise for most of you, I imagine - namely the 'two' - which I will explain in a forthcoming update. I promise.)

For now, though, I just want to express my gratitude for the wonderful people who have helped me get to this point on my journey. This summer has been a rocky one, in all sorts of ways, but it has also reminded me of what fabulous creatures we humans are - how we come together and support each other when we most need it, and find laughter along the way.

So yeah. Soppy returning post done. Thanks.

Love you all


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Post the Hundred-and-Ninth - for Eva

I haven't quite finished the backlog, and I've somehow created even more of one, because I've had so much work to do over the past week and a bit. Even so, this post needs to be uploaded before any of the others, because it's very important in spite (or perhaps because) of how difficult it is to get the words onto paper...or rather screen.

Today is the first anniversary of my dear friend Eva's passing. That is a very odd sentence for me to write, partly because I haven't had a first anniversary like this in a while, but mostly because Eva was such a lively presence that it's really hard to think that she's not here.

Except, of course, she is...because such an irrepressible spirit as hers doesn't just up and leave. So today, amidst the sadness and the disbelief, I find I am also filled with an immense gratitude, for her being there, for being my friend and for making so many wonderful memories for me and everyone else who knew her.

In case you're reading this somewhere, Eva Weva, I want to say thank you.

Thank you for your laughter, so infectious that, no matter how I was feeling, I'd join in - and of course feel much better.

Thank you for your hugs, which were like an envelope of joy.

Thank you for your fierce independence - and fifteen-year-old you teaching fourteen-year-old me that I could have it, too, if I wanted.

Thank you for the (constant!) texts - a comforting reminder that you were always on the other end of the phone. I still have your number saved, and always will.

Thank you for the in-jokes - head-banging to The Killers' Mr. Brightside in Starbucks, for which you ribbed me mercilessly afterwards, before making me listen to Rhianna...and love her for your sake. Having secret chats in BSL about cute boys (after making sure they weren't signing, in case they understood). Pizza and 'anti-Paris Hilton' propaganda in the back garden, because we were drunk on fresh air and happiness. The hilarity at all the ridiculous situations we found ourselves in, mostly courtesy of Jane. Ha!

Thank you for the reminder, by way of the Spice Girls, that all you need is positivity.

Thank you for the love.

Thank you for being you.

Shine bright like a diamond.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Post the Hundredth - the wonders of whisky

I thought that, since I don't have anything major to report in this hundredth post, I could at least write something with a provocative title - and the last two days have given me just the right topic.

Anyone who knows me in real life will be aware that I don't like the taste of alcohol - except for whisky (or whiskey, if it's a JD and coke) and occasionally brandy. Even then, I very rarely drink, despite the fact that it actually has a rather helpful effect on my body - namely relaxation - and I don't get hangovers. Why don't I drink often, then? Simply because I don't feel I need a drink to have fun, as well as the fact that spirits aren't a particularly social beverage, unless, of course, you're with fellow whisky-lovers.

This means that, for all my knowledge about how helpful it is for me, it's not usually the first thing I think of when I'm in pain or uncomfortable...which is probably good? For the last two nights, though, in an experiment to investigate whether it'd help my sleep difficulties, Mama has made me a yummy hot toddy - and it's helped! The discomfort hasn't gone completely, but it's on its way out.

(I should say, to close, that these hot toddies won't be a long term fixture. For all I wanted to be provocative, I don't want to come across as an alcoholic!)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Post the Ninety-Ninth - smile

Ninety-nine posts! (Or at least there will be once I polish off the backlog, which I plan to finish doing tomorrow in celebration of reaching one hundred. I'll let you know if that succeeds.) 

So today, because of that plan, instead of a lengthy post - not that many of the recent updates have been long - I have a friendly reminder. It's helped me hugely over recent days, which have been both busy and rather tough, and I thought it might be helpful for you too.

It's nothing spectacular, but I've found its effect to be. Just pause, take a moment to breathe, and smile. Not in a 'creepy man on the street telling you to smile like you're beholden to do it' way, just to give yourself a private and personal boost - because we all need those every now and then.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Post the Ninety-Eighth - on the importance of a good soundtrack

Several of the posts in my backlog focus on strategies for tackling a heavy workload, so I suppose you could consider this one as part of a series, at least once the rest are up!

I've written before about the solace I find in music, and even posted a playlist of the tracks I used in training last year, so this particular strategy probably won't come as a surprise. (I can't lay my fingers on the links to the posts right now, but I'll add them when I can. Promise.)

Whether it's music that relates to a topic - in the case of my current dissertation, for instance, Baroque and early Classical composers - or just a mix of random enjoyment (which for me, I'll admit, usually includes those same composers anyway) it's often a great tool to de-stress and refocus energy. Different moods or artists may work better at different times of the day, or you may have a go-to track that always helps to pick you up. As with every aspect of life, it's never the same for everyone, and I'm just sharing what works for me. I've never had aspirations to be a lifestyle guru or anything, hehe...

Much love and good tuneage,

Jessi xxx