Reverb 28: facing fears

Day 28: how will you overcome *those* fears?

Think of three things that daunted you in 2012: how are you going to work towards overcoming them in 2013?

I continue to suspect that all my fears come out of the one super-fear: that of being thought to be an idiot. This certainly accounts for fears one and two:

1. Talking to people;
2. Sharing my work;

Interestingly, this phases in and out depending on context. Work – actual assigned job work, I mean – gets most of my best brain time, so I tend to be pretty good at talking to people – strangers and colleagues, as appropriate – and have no qualms about saying “look at this newsletter I have written! is it not glorious?” And this is because work is a case where not doing all this would make me look like an idiot, so I have to.

It also phases in and out depending on my overall mood. As with all these things, I think the answer to becoming less scared is to practise more. I used to have a rule that I’d make myself talk to at least one person every week after church, rather than dashing straight for the door. Now I’m on collection duty this is less easy to manage. I must find other people to talk to.

Fear the third comes from somewhere completely different.

3. Looking at myself.

Not physically (though it’s sometimes difficult as we have no helpful mirrors), but, I don’t know, mentally or emotionally. Not wanting to prod myself too hard in case I find that I don’t like the person under the mask, in case she isn’t the person I want to be.

The way I’ve found to deal with this one is time to myself, and a blank notebook. This year, at the retreat I went on with church, I had this huge thing that was squatting on my mind. I spent a lot of the Greater Silence sitting up late and writing the whole lot down. And then I looked at it and went, ‘Is that it?’

Reverb 21 and 22: dreaming, giving, receiving

Day 21: what’s on the dream list?

What items did you tick off your dream list in 2012? What other, unexpected, dreams came to fruition?

What are the top three items on your dream list for 2013?

I was assigned to work with the LGBT group, which is a post I’d hankered after ever since I joined my employer – and discovered that, like any other group, it is full of people, some of whom are easier to work with than others. As a direct consequence I went to some Prides on purpose.

I walked all the way around the Isle of Wight, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long while. This was unexpected in a way, because I’d originally planned to do Offa’s Dyke, but decided against it for financial and fitness reasons – then realised that I could walk the coastal path, the way I’d always wanted to.

I bought myself a dinner jacket, and have worn it twice this year. With the monocle.

My top three items for 2013? Actually, that’s quite a difficult one, because I am waiting for certain things to shake down. 2013 is the year that everything changes, and it’s hard to see how to be ready when you’re not quite sure how it’s going to change. But here’s how I’d like things to work out:

1. Tony finishes his PhD in style, floppy hat, etc., and finds that there are jobs on the other side.
2. Anne gets well enough to be able to come and live with us.
3. I get myself into a position where I have a choice to stop working where I work now, if I feel like that. I don’t have any plans to do that at the moment, but I feel as if I would like to have the option.

Day 22: your most important gift?

What was the greatest gift you received in 2012? What was the greatest gift you gave?

What do you intend to give yourself in 2013?

In terms of the difference it’s made to my self-perception, the greatest gift I received was, I think, the support and encouragement of the Pico community. The discipline of posting snippets of writing, the enjoyment of reading other people’s, the excitement when somebody says something nice about my own, all keeps me interested in my own writing. We had three months of Pico this year, and it was all extremely useful. It’s a gift that makes more of my gift, such as it is.

As for the greatest gift I gave – well, I’m still trying to take my youngest birthday to the theatre, but he is on stage so much himself that it’s been difficult to find a weekend. Use of our spare bed, for various friends and family members, also springs to mind, though it’s damned uncomfortable. Honourable mention goes to yesterday, when I was entrusted with the proceeds of two whip-rounds, and came back with a) a sponge bag filled with smellies, and an extremely enviable travel journal, for the person who is leaving our office to go travelling; b) a set of baby-gros and a box of Roses, for the person who is currently on maternity leave. I ended up with 30p left over, which I thought was pretty good going; I am usually rubbish at that sort of girling.

In 2013 I want a new camera. Mine broke and I borrowed Tony’s, but, even though it is the identical model, it is NOT THE SAME and I want my very own. My photography was improving no end before that happened, and that’s something that I would love to keep up.

Describe your daily, common soundscape, from rouse to turning in.

Waking. Fighting the dry, tickling cough until the inevitable defeat. Up. Kettle burbles and clicks; computer sings. Now for a proper cough. Feeling more human: patter between bedroom and study to deal with emails (ping!), alarms (bringle, bringle, up and down the scale). Gather together the necessaries for work (‘I shall be late!’ and cursing freely), pack the bag and unlock the trike (‘what’s the time? I shall be late!’), and – now it starts:

– the click-click-click of the freewheel, the clunk of the gear change, the whir of the tyres. A sulky purr from the car behind me (‘yes, well, you can wait, can’t you?’), a honk if I’m unlucky, the roar as it passes. If it’s a motorbike, roar-whoosh. If a bike (they’re all faster than me, and can pass more easily) a slight disturbance in the air, and perhaps a ‘good morning’.

Birds. I never used to hear birds on my way to work; the fresh air never moved fast enough past me. My own gasping breathing (‘come-on-you-bastard, come-on-you-bastard, come-on-you-bastard’) – and down the other side of the hill, and I’m not sure whether I hear the air or feel it.

Back towards the main road, now. A siren. A hundred engines ticking over. The shrill peeping of the pedestrian crossing. The clatter of a train. Sometimes this seems like the longest road in the world. I am so nearly there.

Into work. ‘Kayjay!’ I am not fit for human interaction until I have had a shower. And yes, I am allowed to take the lift to it. I’ve just cycled seven miles you know. GROUND. FLOOR. Lift going up. SECOND. FLOOR. The extractor fan in the shower sounds more like a jet engine.

Phones. ‘Good morning, how can I help?… I see – when is your meeting?… have you spoken to your branch?… I’ll get the duty officer to give you a ring back…’ Will this bloody computer never load up? ‘Where are we with this committee?’ ‘What’s the craic?’ Always questions. The sickening crunch that means the photocopier has broken again.

The hum and the bleeping of the microwave. The inane witterings of whoever’s presenting this property show. A colleague’s get-rich-quick scheme (why does he never try them, if they’re so good?)

More phones. The tinny Westminster chimes of the doorbell. It is the photocopier man, who is not best pleased at being out here again. Or a courier with a trolley. ‘You coming out for a fag?’ Of course one of the smokers’ phones goes immediately afterwards. ‘No, I’m afraid he’s away from his desk at the moment. No, he’ll only be ten minutes or so. Can I get him to give you a ring back?’

‘Bye everybody!’ And then the long ride home. Whir, gasp, click, whoosh.

I am a tenor when I shower at home. ‘Yes! let me like a soldier fall!‘ The camper the better. ‘this breast expanding for the ball to blot out every stain. Brave manly hearts confer my-hy doom, which gentler wu-huh-huh-uns may tell… and the planet of love is on high, beginning to faint in the light she loves, on a bed of daffodil sky‘. Marie Lloyd used that to prove that smut was in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think she would have had to try very hard, but I suppose they hadn’t invented Eng. Lit. back then, at least, not the sort that deals with Subtext. ‘Beginning to faint in the light she lo-oves, to fa-int in the li-ight and – to die! Come! Come! Co-ome, my own, my sweet! Co-ome, my own, my sweet! Maud! Maud! Come! Come! I am here at the gate – alone! pom pom pom pom’.

The sizzle of hot fat. ‘I know I say this every time, but I don’t half make a damn good omelette.’ Somebody hits ‘shuffle’ on iTunes. Something loud and French. Or something sugary and soppy by the Kings Singers. Bairstow. Jackson. Or Youtube. Horrible Histories (‘My name is – my name is – my name is – Charles the Second’) or QI (‘Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening good evening’).

And so to bed. ‘Night night.’ ‘Sleep tight.’ ‘Do not let the bedbugs bite.’ ‘Wake up in the morning light.’

A single car passes. And the call of a night train – wah-waaah.