Sunday, 1 December 2019

Proximity


I want to do my best to post a little more throughout December, a 12 days of blogmas if you will. I can't promise I'll get through a full 12 but, to kick things off, here's a guest post from the author of the crime thriller novel Proximity, Jen Tugwell. 


Proximity: A crime thriller set in a world that suffocates us in safety by Jem Tugwell

When I wrote my debut novel, Proximity, I was worrying about where the current technology advances would take us, and how a government might misuse it to suffocate us in safety.
Sound farfetched? In the last few days, I’ve been warned that my hot drink is hot. Warned to hold onto the handrail on the stairs. Warned at an indoor ski-centre with real snow, that snow is slippery.
These days, technology is at the heart of everything, but rather than focussing solely on the technology, Proximity is a thriller that uses it to add another dimension to the crime story. 
The technology imagined in Proximity provides the convenience of no keys, no identity theft and no passwords to remember. The characters are healthier because their calorie and fat levels are monitored, and their hearts are constantly scanned for issues. Because the government knows where they are all of the time, the police solve nearly every crime very easily. Murders, mugging, stabbings and theft drop to nearly zero when the perpetrator is guaranteed to get caught. 
So far so good.
But, like in real life, political expediency overwhelms the naivety of scientists and technologists. A system designed to enhance people’s lives, becomes a control system.
Fiction mirrors fact as the physical person and their data twin are more and more inseparable. I hope that Proximity challenges the reader to recognise the importance of their data and the potential implications of sharing it.
The main plot of Proximity is a crime thriller. It is designed to be a fast-paced, entertaining read, but during the police investigation into a ‘impossible’ killing, Proximity asks the reader to think about how technology might be used and abused. 
How would you feel if the government collected data of your activity levels, your intake of calories, alcohol, fat, etc.? It would allow health professionals to make you healthier. Insurance companies would reward you with lower premiums. Great, but things can easily turn, so that medical professionals and insurers use our data against us. What if they think you are taking too many risks? Will they claim that your illness is ’self-inflicted’ and use it as a justification for denial of service? Will the reward for healthy behaviour become an obligation? Will it be ‘no insurance unless you conform’? Is a longer, dull life better than a shorter, more exciting one?
Proximity allows an examination of how our lives might look inside a fast-paced crime thriller. The positives and negatives. The moral dilemmas. It is a near-future could be just a few steps away. Almost an alternate now - a world where, 'You can't get away with anything. Least of all murder.' Hopefully, it doesn’t act as a design template for our politicians.


Saturday, 23 November 2019

Skate away




When I first started mentioning my ex in my blog, I referred to him as Andy for reasons that involved bodies of water, T-pain and my love of the song Jizz in my Pants. For the purpose of the title of this blog post and the fact that the only Christmas album I really love is A Very Ally Christmas from the kick ass 90's TV show Ally McBeal, I'm finally going to tell you his name.

It's River.

We met on Tinder, as so many stable couples do, and I ended up living in the same building as him thanks to him being able to find me a spare room and my desperate need to stop living in hostels. From the beginning it hurt, it hurt a lot. I'm not good at getting close to people and I second guessed every interaction we had. I visited him one night whilst drunk and regretted it for weeks because he said that at first it was 'off putting'. I was convinced that every time he rolled over in bed to kiss me he was going to tell me he didn't want anything to do with me anymore and agonized for weeks over whether or not I should sleep with him regardless of the fact that I really wasn't ready.

Yeah, I'll fuck a one night stand senseless but it takes me weeks to be ready to bone someone that I like. Work that one out.

When River broke up with me, I already knew it was over. It had always been over, if I'm honest, in that I knew that I shouldn't have him in my life. I was too desperate to cling onto the idea of him, too afraid of ending things because of my utter terror at being rejected that I held on for so much longer than I should have. He'd only want to see me once a week, I couldn't tell anyone that we were together and he denied that there was anything between us despite him living with me for at least three weeks. When I met my friend Anna in New York we talked for ages about how he wasn't good for me and how I wanted to end things, but I still couldn't let him go.

Luckily for me I didn't have to, and I returned from New York to be told that he "couldn't handle" how I react to things and that he "couldn't be relied on by anyone for a social life." It hurt, it hurt a lot. I cried more than I can ever remember and became friends with my friend at the Irish bar near my house because I sobbed uncontrollably in her arms. I started cutting again, couldn't get out of bed and was in an amount of pain that I hadn't felt for years.

I also lost my job at the same time, which was nice.

Bizarrely, thanks to a part of my brain that I"m really not fond of, I did actually see him again after that. He came over, and as we lay naked together in bed I tried desperately to convince myself that I was happy. I wasn't. I don't know if I ever really felt happy with him but at the same time I didn't want to let go. I was holding on to things that were irrelevant, tissues of anecdotes that meant nothing no matter how hard I wanted to them to. He didn't care about me, he never would and it would have meant nothing if he did because he was no good for me. As he left he told me that I made him feel uncomfortable, and I never saw him again.

No shit, he ghosted me.

It wasn't until I went to Montreal at the beginning of July that I really felt over him. I reached a place of pure euphoria as I danced barefoot to a live jazz band with an electric harmonica, sweaty and happy with the moonlight coming through the window and a queue of people wanting to dance with me. The band played The Doors on my request and it was, without a doubt, one of the best nights of my life. I finally, finally, felt over him and I experienced the kind of feeling that I only ever feel when I'm listening to live music. I felt free and happy and every time I think of that moment I smile. I loved it.

I've been thinking about him a lot lately, a lot a lot. I don't know if it's because someone has moved into his old room below me, if it's because I'm vaguely involved in someone else or for another reason I can't quite work out. I feel sad when I think about him, there's no hope or happiness involved, but he's there. I don't have any contact with him and, other than an Instagram account I've been blocked from following, I have no way of contacting him. I don't want us to speak, speaking to him won't do me any good and I know that, but the idea is still there.

xXx

One day



I just saw that someone I follow on YouTube did a "day in the life with gastroparisis" video and I decided I wanted to write one of my own. About BPD obviously, because whilst I have destroyed my stomach and shit myself from time to time, I don't have gastroparisis.

Anyway, here's a day in the life of someone with BPD, ish.

Morning: Wake up, or at least try to. You're exhausted. You're always exhausted, and you always will be exhausted. You're medication is brutal but without it you can't function. So have at it baby Jane, it's time to suck it up and haul ass out of bed.

Morning pt 2.: You take aforementioned medication. It may not be unusual for you to contemplate not taking it but, as with anything that you're body relies on, withdrawal is a bitch and you really like being able to communicate and function, so you knock them back. You also take a shower and have breakfast because, after over a decade of living with an eating disorder, you actually don't mind eating first thing and won't blame that for anything bad that may happen that day.

Don't get too comfortable, it won't last forever.

Morning pt 3 to somewhere in the afternoon: Go to work. You struggle at your job, everything anyone says to you can be misconstrued as an insult and it takes a lot of strength to keep it together when you are losing control of your schedule and pay check. You're constantly paranoid that you're going to get fired and, on some occasions, you may feel the need to sob uncontrollably until your anger goes away. This is normal.

Not only this but you will be exhausted, physically and mentally exhausted. There is no amount of caffeine in the world that is ever going to rectify this, so get on with it. Your body hurts, your brain is spinning and forming sentences is a real struggle but, as people with BPD are known to be unlikely to hold down a job and you don't wish to become a statistic, you carry on.

After work: You get home, once again exhausted, and take a nap because there's no way your body can continue to function without rest. Whilst lying in bed you may cry, feel angry or personally attack or victimized by an event that has happened during the day, this is normal. There's nothing you can do about this and no amount of crying is going to fix how you feel but, as is the norm, you deal with the amount of emotions you are feeling as best you can and try to get on with your life.

Post nap: You wake up, you're still tired, and you contemplate getting up and having something to eat but the prospect of staying in bed and going back to sleep is more appealing to your exhausted brain and body, so you decide it's time to call it a day. If you're lucky you manage to brush your teeth, if you're really lucky you manage to take your makeup off. When all else fails you are, at the very least, likely to take your medication. You knock it back, lay your head down once again and call it a day.

Nunight

xXx 

Friday, 15 November 2019

Cirque de Boarderline



Roll up, roll up, come on inside. 
It's time for a magical borderline ride.

They're terrible people I hear them say, 
Well some may agree but I,say nay.

So read this list, count one to three
and learn how knowing us can benefit both you
and me

Bitch be sick at poetry

If you're basing your opinion on some evidence, my own behavior included, you may come to the conclusion that knowing a borderline is a massive pain in the g-spot. Not to be a traitor to my own brain but, if I'm honest, we can be complete assholes. But this doesn't happen all of the time. Whether you believe me or not, there are some benefits to having us in your life. 

So, without further a do, I present to you three reasons why being friends with a borderline is pretty kick ass. Mostly because the number three rhymes with me and it fit quite well in my poem. 

We will feel for you the way few people ever have or will

Being loved by a borderline is something unique, something that you really can't explain unless you yourself know what it's like to be consumed by a suffocating urge to devote your entire existence to the happiness of someone else. Can we hurt you? Yes, but we never want to. When you're loved by a borderline it truly is a love that will never be experienced by anyone else. You are our everything, our night and day and day and night and you will be for as long as we can make it possible. You may have been loved before, but there's nothing quite like being loved be a borderline. 

We will never lie about how we're feeling 

When it comes to rocking the BPD flag, there's no hiding behind our true colors. Emotionally, what you see is what you get whether you like it or not. There's no lying about emotions when it comes to BPD. If we're sad, we cry. If we're mad, we scream. If there's any other emotion in our hearts we can possibly express we will do it whether we want to or not. Parts of us are manipulative, there's no denying it, but when it comes to how we feel? It's as clear as night and day.

When we're done, we're done 

You know when you're a teenager and you can't tell if someone likes you and it goes back and forth and back and forth in your brain until it hurts so much you want to scream? Knowing a borderline, past a certain point, isn't like that.

When we first try and let go, it hurts, We want to hold you, clasp your fingers in ours and beg you to stay until we scratch and bleed and burn our skin and you're pulling away and there's nothing we can say or do or promise to make you come back. We want you, we need you and we really will do anything to have you.

But eventually, we're done.

When a borderline doesn't want you in their life anymore, you'll know it. There'll be no second guessing, no doubting, Whether you have any say in the matter or not once being in our lives isn't beneficial to us we can, and will, cut you out, Seemingly brutal at first but, if you think about it, who really wants someone in their lives if the person in question doesn't want to be there in the first place?

xXx

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Boarderline Personality Doesn't, Pt 1



Earlier in the month I wrote a post about the things that my BPD causes me to do. Things I can't always control and that happen even if I don't want them to. Today, instead of focusing on more of the things that my BPD causes me to do, I thought I'd write a post about what it doesn't do. You know, for balance.

IT DOESN'T MAKE ME INCAPABLE OF LOVE 

This one may be a little hard to believe given my terrible love life, reluctance to discuss my feelings with people I feel affection for and my raging commitment phobia, but I am actually capable of forming relationships.

Whilst I've been in some terrible ones, I have also found myself caring for people in what could almost be described as a, GASP, healthy way. Relationships with people with BPD are not all necessarily doomed to fail and they won't lead the opposing party to have to undertake years of therapy in an attempt to remove the horrible memory of having ever interacted with a member of my kind. Can they be shitty? Yes, but so can all relationships. Whilst it's a factor that can be influenced, I'm not eternally destined to be alone forever.

Unless I choose so myself.


IT DOESN'T MAKE ME SELFISH 

Being called selfish is one of the things that gets to me the most because it really is a double edged sword. If by selfish you mean I focus on my own feelings as a way of protecting myself and going after what I want? Then yes I am selfish. If by selfish you mean I don't give a shit about others and never consider the feelings of those around me, then no I'm not.

By putting the man who raped me in prison, I undertook the most selfless act that I will ever have to do. Whilst I wanted him to be punished for what he did, I also wanted to make sure he could never do it again. Thanks to me, he can't hurt anyone anymore and he is being punished for what he did to others. It's not just me that benefited from his incarceration, but everyone he'd hurt in the past and anyone he may have hurt in the future. I sacrificed my health, my degree and my happiness to put him behind bars and it baffles me that some people still feel they have the right to call me selfish.

It also baffles me that people use the "oh xxx could have affected my career" as a reason to not report those that attacked them, but that's another story.

IT DOESN'T MAKE MY FEELINGS INVALID 

I've been struggling with this one a lot lately and actually reaching out to people for help and advice when I'd normally try to ignore it. I'd like to be clearer about how I describe it, but it's 2019 and the world can't keep its mouth shut so there are going to be a few euphemisms in there.

Recently I was at, lets say the zoo, when I had a problem with a particularly difficult moose. This moose does not like me and feels the need to harass and complain about me over the fact that I once asked said moose not to move a gate. I have no problems with any of the other moose in the zoo, this one is just a cunt. And not in a good way.

Anyway, I ended up having a meeting with the head zookeeper and one of the supervising zoo keepers who I'd also been having a problem with, which essentially became 30 minutes of me being told I was wrong about how I'd perceived things.

Quelle Suprise

Now, interpreting situations differently is one of the key symptoms of BPD, but that doesn't mean my reactions are always wrong. The supervising zoo keeper has been treating me badly, but instead of supporting me the head zoo keeper said it was my fault for interpreting it in that way. As someone with BPD is difficult to trust your feelings, particularly when you don't often know what they are. But, whilst I may sometimes react in ways that others would not, I am also able to interpret situations correctly. Just because I might interpret things in the wrong way most of the time, it doesn't mean I can't be right some of the time.

xXx

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Boarderline Personality Does, Pt 1.



This evening I had plans to spend time with some friends. I made them on Monday and was really looking forward to seeing them all. Unfortunately, after finding out that I bag I lost on the subway yesterday hadn't been handing in, I was hit with a wave of feeling low and so had to rearrange, hoping but also knowing that my friends will understand.

Instead of letting the fact that I had to let them down get to me, which it certainly had the capacity to do, I decided to make a blog post out of it. So, here it is, a list of things that my BPD makes me do, whether I want it to or not.

Cancel plans

I had to start with this one because it happens a lot. I want to see people, get really excited to hang out with them and then at the last minute I get tense, anxious or upset and have to cancel or rearrange. This is one of the factors of BPD that I feel most guilty about, because I worry that eventually my friends are going to get bored of it and tell me to swivel. I know this isn't the case, good friends really aren't like that, but it's a concern none the less. Just know that, if I do have to cancel our plans at the last minute, it's not out of not wanting to see you, promise.

Feel guilty

My first point led itself perfectly to the next one, which is quite possibly the part of my BPD that I hate the most. I feel guilty every single day, even though I have nothing to feel guilty about. Eat out, feel guilty. Get an Uber to work, feel guilty. Get paid, feel guilty. There is no rhyme or reason to why I feel this way, it's just a feeling that's always there. I've begun to look at is as more of a symptom of my BPD rather than a separate emotion that I have to feel, partly because that helps me categorize my feelings into what I can and can't control. The majority of my guilty feelings center around money, earning it, spending it, borrowing it, I constantly feel guilt and shame, but I'm seeing it as something I can work on. I know that if I take control of my attitude towards money than, eventually, I will stop feeling guilty.

Put myself in dangerous situations

This is a big one, and one that I've become more and more aware of since I've left England. In the UK if I do something potentially dangerous, I'm never overly far from someone who can take care of me. In Canada however, this isn't the case.

I have a tendency to forget myself when my BPD is bad. Forget that I'm not invincible, that the world is not a safe place and that it is my responsibility to make sure I'm safe. Being raped didn't change my attitude towards the situations I put myself in and being thousands of miles away from home didn't either until very recently. I'm not excusing the actions of anyone around me should they take advantage of my inability to prioritize my safety, but prioritizing my safety is something I should definitely be doing.

Sleep

I am, and for as long as I can remember have always been, exhausted all of the time. Whether I get 12 hours sleep or 2 hours sleep, my brain and body are always tired. Partly because of my meds and partly because of my condition in general I am chronically tired to the point that I get anxious about making plans to do things in the evening, because I know I'll be tired to the point of not being able to function the next day.

For a lot of people, my napping all the time is a joke. The idea that if I don't answer the phone or you can't find me is because I'll be curled up in bed somewhere is true, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating. I know there are ways that I can ease my tiredness and I take regular vitamins to do what I can to boost my energy. Just know that, when I tell you I'm tired, it's not out of an attempt to one up you if you yourself are feeling tired, I'm just constantly exhausted.

xXx

Friday, 4 October 2019

Friday night forts



Sometimes I don't have anything much to say, but I just want to get words out. I haven't written a lot lately. There seems to be some kind of marker in my head that is torn between wanting to write and write and move and travel but not knowing if what I have to say has any right to be written. I've just gotten a freelance job as a copywriter, my first writing job outside of England which is a really big deal to me. I've worked for international companies, but this is the first job I've been employed to do in North America. It's exciting getting to write for a purpose again. Who am I kidding, to write for a wage.

All I want to do is put words down. I was talking to a friend at work the other day who was discussing changing her major at school, because she has her whole life to carve out and enjoy her career. I don't feel like I have that. Sometimes I feel as if I've missed a chance because I didn't do a certain thing or study a certain course or go to a certain school. Journalism interests me, but a specific type of journalism. I want to write about something that matters. I want to write something that matters. I want my work to matter.

Right now I'm about a quarter of the way through The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson. I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a teenager and then I think again for a module in my fourth year of university, but so far I like this more. Thompson's method of "gonzo" journalism is something every creative writing student with a Moleskine wants to achieve, despite the very nature of the style being unidentifiable. I'm different, everyone's different. Everyone has something to say, everyone has something meaningful they want to get out. I want to write mine down, and I want it to matter.

There's an episode of One Tree Hill where Lucas submits Peyton's work to THUD despite her saying she doesn't want her work published, because she wanted to draw something that meant something and if she couldn't do that she didn't want her work published as it was too important to her. This isn't exactly how I feel about my work. I'm not afraid of people reading it, you can't be afraid and work in any form of the arts that's just not how it works. No one is going to find you writing in the corner of a bar on a Friday night by yourself over $5 beers and dub you the next Hemingway, you have to go out and find what you want. You have to go out and get what you crave if you're ever going to do something that matters to you.

The problem with this lies in the fact that, for the most part, writing for the purpose of paying bills involves being hired by someone. Someone has to read your work and decide that it's a fit for what they're company is looking for and hire you. When I first started out I was convinced that every rejection was telling me my work was bad, the word having rolled around in my head for years to the point that reject was my IT password in high school. Rejection hurts in every sense of the word, regardless of who is being rejected by what.

A former colleague came into work today and said she'd cried in class after being told to stand up and tell a room of people her deepest darkest fear and it got me to thinking. What is my deepest darkest fear? What am I afraid of? What would I give anything up to avoid? Part of me thought I should say writing, of not achieving what I want but, in reality, I know that will never happen. I'm never not going to achieve what I set out to do because that's not who I am. I'm not going to stop until I am completely satisfied because I can't. This doesn't necessarily mean I know exactly what I'm striving for or that I'll know when I reach it because I don't, there might never be an end point, but I know I'll keep working at it because that's who I am and I know that will never change. I'm not afraid of giving up because I know it'll never happen.

That doesn't mean I know what I'm afraid of though, but that's for another post.

xXx