Daily Archives: June 12, 2012


a knot formed in my stomach after i finished my last post.  i remembered that i hadn’t told XBF about the cheating incident.  in fact, i had lied to him several times when he specifically asked about it.  he had made a big deal out of cheating and i didn’t have the guts to tell him.

i’m feeling more stable and grounded now, and it felt wrong to keep up a charade.  besides, we’re entering talks of getting back together so i felt he should have all of the information before making any commitments.  this is the last of a series of emotional bombs i dropped on XBF over the past 6 months or so.  i hope.

i told him over the phone.  i was very matter-of-fact about it, giggly even.  that wasn’t intentional, i was just nervous and scared.

we got into it a bit.  it took everything i had to stay on the phone.  i would have preferred to just hang up the phone and go back to playing video games.

i tried to provide explanations for my behavior, but they were all just interpreted as excuses.  he got pretty angry and reminded me about our accountability conversation.  i thought i was being accountable but saying so just made him even more pissed off.  clearly, we have different definitions.

he said i didn’t sound remorseful at all; he was right.  that would have been too threatening.  showing emotions would have left me vulnerable.

we could have spent the rest of the afternoon bickering about details.  finally, i threw in the towel and apologized and said i was wrong to lie etc etc.  suddenly the once tumultuous ocean was now flat and calm.

he sounded tired but appreciative.  there was affection in his voice.  this felt less threatening to me, so i felt comfortable being more emotional too.  i cried and told him he really has seen the worst sides of me this past year.  it’s true.  i can’t figure out why he still wants to be with me but he does.

that feeling of acceptance, though, is priceless.

ghosts from hypomania past

at 7:30am my phone rang.  i blinked the sleep out of my eyes and tried to focus on the screen.  it read “Beautiful Disaster” and i stared at it for a while, letting it go to voicemail.  why was he calling so early in the freaking morning?

not that i would put it past him, but it was a little early to be completely fucked up.  and besides, he had been calling a bunch of times for several months without me returning calls.  curiosity got the best of me.  i called him back.

Beautiful Disaster.  that’s the name i gave to the 21 year old italian deviant playboy who was my partner in crime last summer.  he was one of my students last year.  a real pain in my fucking ass.  on the third day of class, i had to bring him outside to tell him not to come to class shitfaced drunk.  after that he just showed up high on pills or weed which was marginally better.

my boyfriend at the time, who i’ll undoubtedly get to at some point because events with him inevitably contributed to the onset of my hypomanic episode, had left for a vacation to hawaii just as i started my class and i planned to join him after i finished teaching.  we lived together, had talked about buying a house, were engaged briefly, the works.  we were to spend the rest of our lives together.  somehow, in just a few short weeks, the entire course of my life changed.

suddenly i noticed that i was turned on around this kid.  he was a deviant and risky and adventurous.  my heart would race and i would get horny and i had to actively avoid looking at him in class.  masturbation didn’t help.  previously if i had gotten stuck lusting after someone, i could just masturbate the feelings away and get back to my relationship.  not so in this case.

he didn’t make it really easy either.  he’d stay after class and talk to me.  one day he left his sunglasses in the classroom and wanted to come with me to my office to get them.  this guy was clearly dangerous and i was in trouble.  unfortunately, that just excited me more.

the last straw occurred on the second to last day of class.  i was reviewing for the final with my students and Beautiful Disaster pulled out all the stops.  at the beginning of class he made a big show about pulling a desk, noisily i might add, across the classroom so he was sitting next to me.  he commented on my shoes and would say strange things.  i was trying not to let on that i was so horny i could faint.

suddenly, he folded over himself and seemed to be coughing or choking or something.  when he sat up, he held out his hand and said “oh my god, my tooth fell out!”  at a loss for words, i watched as this event unfolded in slow motion.  the other students are laughing hysterically, i’m trying not to laugh while i’m watching this kid freak out, dashing from corner to corner, collecting his things to leave.  he’s almost out the door when he stops and looks back in the room, announcing that he “needs my phone number” because he can’t use email.  i think my jaw dropped as i tried to refuse this very public request for my information.  eventually i caved and gave it to him, and ended up having to give my number to the entire class later.

i couldn’t really recover from that.  i kept laughing randomly while going over exam questions.  at the end of the class, i noticed a pencil had been left on the front desk.  i went to give it back to the student who owned it but she refused to take it.  beautiful disaster, she said, had been chewing on it, and had actually pulled his tooth out on purpose.  he apparently had veneers and popped one of them off.  losing a tooth for my number wins the prize for unique pick up lines.

this, of course, drove me crazy.  thankfully, i was leaving for hawaii the day after the final exam and i thought, whew! now i can get back to my life.   i had been on the south beach diet for a month and had lost 12 lbs.  i looked good.  i was excited and ready to go.  except Beautiful Disaster had my number.  and we texted the entire time i was away.  i ended up having to get unlimited text messaging later because i went over my limit and racked up a bill over a hundred bucks.

i ended up telling my boyfriend at the time that i was attracted to this guy and that i wanted an open relationship.  all the while i was texting this student and we were going NUTS over each other.  it was one big adrenaline rush.  somehow, i thought this was all okay.

we even got into sending dirty texts to one another and i emailed him pictures of me on the beach in hawaii.  who does that?!  while they’re on vacation with their boyfriend?!  we were even on the trip with his adopted sons and their family, staying in their house, and i didn’t care!  i was so horny all the time i couldn’t even think straight.  i tried to fuck it off with my boyfriend, but the sex was decidedly unsatisfactory and boring.  besides, he couldn’t last longer than a few minutes and that was not enough to get me off.

by the time we got back into town, i was so fucking antsy i went out with friends right away.  we got home from hawaii and literally within an hour or two i was out having drinks telling them about my failed attempt to have an open relationship.  and of course, beautiful disaster was blowing me up.  all of the sudden i get a text from him, saying he is down the street at the new bar he just opened and would i please come by?

i brought my whole posse with me and we walked down to this new restaurant/bar.  beautiful disaster bought ALL of us drinks all night.  we all got completely shit faced and come closing time, my friends went home and i decided to stay.  i even had one of my friends call my live-in boyfriend to let him know i’m staying at her house.  i think i did plan to stay at her house, but when she wanted to leave…i didn’t.  so i stayed there with him, partying, drinking…he’s trying to convince me to hook up with him and i’m resisting.

the details get fuzzy, but we decided to go for a walk, i guess.  we were headed down an alley toward the street when he pushes me up against a gate and kisses me.  i don’t resist.  i think “fuck, i’m such an asshole” and then keep kissing him.  then we’re walking across the street and the sprinklers are running.  what do the two drunk deviants do?  we race over there and start making out in the sprinklers.  we get down, rolling around in the mud.  i get up and realize i have lost the keys to my boyfriend’s car, which i had driven that night.  what the fuck am i going to do?  we are soaked and muddy, and i can’t go home, and i can’t go to my friend’s house because she’s not answering her phone.

he offers to have me at his place.  he calls a cab and we wait on the street.  when a police car stops to ask if we’re (i’m) okay, beautiful disaster says i’m his girlfriend and we’re just having some fun.  the cab shows up, but it’s a fucking  limousine. literally. a limo to take us to his place.  i get in, mud and all, and we head back to his place.  i rinsed off my muddy clothes.  we ended up making out all night.  no sex, but it wasn’t far behind.

come morning i woke up in a panic.  what the hell was going on?!  i didn’t have keys, my sunglasses were gone, my clothes were still wet.  i tried calling and texting friends to come over and do laundry but no one was awake at 8am.  no wonder, with all the booze we drank the night before.

beautiful disaster and i went back and combed the area where the fateful events had happened last night.  i tried to keep my distance from him because we were right near the university.  i was afraid someone i knew or who knew my boyfriend at the time would see me there with him.  my heart was pounding.  i didn’t think about the fact that i cheated on my boyfriend.  i would have to figure that out later.

thankfully, beautiful disaster found the keys and i bolted out of there.  i was gritty and hung over and trying not to panic.  i got home and my boyfriend was still asleep.  i said hello and then ran into the shower to wash off the night’s events.

i never did tell my boyfriend about it.  two days later, he broke up with me anyway so it was a moot point.

but that was just the start of my adventures with beautiful disaster.

bolster the levee

i’ve been a little MIA the past few days.  i find i’m enjoying the zen silence of my mind, even though it can be unbelievably BORING at times.  i’m slowly introducing people and activities back into my life.  i have to actively suppress the urge to add too much at once. i certainly don’t want to over do it and end up in that depression shit show again.  but old habits die hard.

visited the psychiatrist this morning and begged for some fucking caffeine because i’ve also been pretty sleepy during the day.  she said to try it in moderation.  i’m starting with a sugar free red bull.  does that count?

i balked when she told me that being unable to stay awake past 2am is normal.  is this true?  how is that possible?  it’s also apparently “normal” to need to go back to sleep if you don’t sleep for enough hours.  i slept 5 hours one day and literally HAD to go back to sleep.  i just didn’t set an alarm and slept another 6 hours.  this is bizarre, and it is a little frustrating to be honest because there are already not enough hours in the day!!

i was totally on track to write about something else but then the thought escaped me and it’s gone.  completely gone.  whereas my old self could have used contextual cues to figure out what it was again, these days once a thought leaves the building, it is really gone.  which brings me to another point–and i’m just going to roll with it–that i have been considering an evaluation for ADHD.  losing my train of thought this frequently has made it extraordinarily difficult to hold conversations.  when i meet with research assistants i get lost mid-sentence several times.  it doesn’t exactly look good.

brought this up with the psychiatrist this morning and she let me know that an ADHD diagnosis can’t even be made until my mood stabilizes.  so i essentially have to wait 3-6 months before getting a neuropsych eval.  i mean, of course, i can find some quack who will give me the diagnosis, but given the probability of my bipolar diagnosis slowly edging upward and because i’m on non-trivial medication, i’m uncomfortable at the thought of blithely introducing other medications into the mix.  which is fucking dull, by the way.  i feel like a total square.

it’s like wearing new skin.  and it doesn’t want to take.


Yesterday, I treated myself to a tiny bit of nastiness. I generally don’t ’cause I think it’s bad karma, but as I’d avoided treating myself to this particular vent for over three years, I figured I might as well do it once, then done. To my annoyance and bemusement, someone decided this meant that I needed to be chastised for my opinions. Erm… … …

… … …

Yesh, I love being thrown into apoplectic anger right before going to bed. I only got to sleep by telling myself to worry about it the next day, doing my best to drone out my vexation with general mindfulness and mentally chanting over the jagged thoughts (thanks, oh hateful brain!). So I did get to sleep in semi-decent order (I consider this a feat, knowing that I’m in depression), but definitely woke up still irritated. I had replied as politely as I could muster back to the person in question (whom hopefully didn’t feel too assaulted in the scheme of things), who in turn thanked me for responding. Well… why would I have not? Even if I’m annoyed, a response is due by rules of politeness. And in that, I started drafting up another reply, but this one was definitely a bit along the lines of, ‘B”$&h, you owe me an apology for insulting me and my right to opinion.’ It even got into the whole snotty ‘go pick x instead of me’ sort of ‘tude… so I’m amazed I managed to make myself erase it and not hit send. That the act of writing out my ire seemed to mainly fulfill my need to express it… mainly. I allowed myself a vexed tweet that I shortly erased, because part of my compulsion is full and complete answers and full and complete expression of emotion. When the ire gets that overwhelming, it needs to come out. It doesn’t care about the swathe of destruction. That’s part of the problem with emotions and bipolar – they are… bombastic, to say the least.

But yes, this is a reason why I generally sit on my negative emotions more than is probably healthy. The release of them leaves too much clean up, and I don’t have the energy for it. I am sure this is part of why friends and family think that I have no emotions, or that they can tell me that mine are invalid, or less valid than theirs. I am at a slight loss for what to do, other than taking what little strength I do have and making it clear that my feelings are valid as relates to me. Ergo, I am free to express them as I need to. Obviously, I’m still mainly going to be mindful; years of fighting a compulsive need to say things that feed the crap out of my anxiety means that I am grateful that I can more easily pick and choose what battles with myself I will face for having an opinion or a feeling.

But yeah, definitely an area that still needs a lot of work.

So for now, I’m going to do my best to keep my mind clear of intrusive fight-y thoughts, try to keep my breathing slow and even, and see if I can continue today’s success at being mainly calm and ‘behaved’. :)



As exotic locations on the Sussex Coast go, the little town of Shoreham-by-Sea isn’t necessarily the first hotspot that springs to mind, sandwiched as it is between a dilapidated cement factory on one side and a power station on the other. But as it’s just a short drive west along the coastline from my hometown, Hove, and given that it came recommended as a walking route by the chaps at Cheeky Guides, who had steered me so entertainingly through the back passages of Brighton, I thought it might be worth trying to expand my mind a little. Turned out I wasn’t the only one. But more of that later.

Since this walk is a not exactly blister-inducing 5 mile round trip, anyone reading this post and the entries preceding it could be forgiven for thinking that I am not taking the preparations for my impending 825km walk entirely seriously. All I can say in my defense is that I’m pretty sure that as I left Shoreham High Street to set out along the banks of the River Adur, I spotted the hull of an Ark being constructed in the boatyard. To say that June has been a bit wet is like saying that King Herod wasn’t terribly good with children. In short, it hasn’t stopped sodding raining (probably for about 40 days and 40 nights, funnily enough). Let’s just hope, as I’ve chosen the more mountainous of the possible Santiago Way routes, that the rain in Spain really does fall mainly on the plain. Otherwise I might as well just swim the channel for charity instead.

All of which also made the sight of numerous boats stranded up and down the length of the Adur riverbed all the more bizarre, especially given the current media frenzy around flash flooding and rivers breaking their banks across the South East. Apparently, however, this is quite normal in coastal estuaries, where flat expanses of wetland are created by ocean tides eroding shorelines and then dropping the sediment in a new location; this buildup of sediment causes the flat, muddy environment (and hence the slightly unimaginative term ‘mudflat’ used to describe it) that is exposed at low tide. All fascinating stuff, but I’m afraid all I could think of when looking at the various immobilised vessels, manned by owners patiently waiting for high tide to release them from the sludge, was that this phenomenon was also the likely origin of that other common phrase: “up shit creek without a paddle”.

Anyway, whilst I’m sure the abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna that are supported by these mudflats would have detained anyone of a more naturalistic bent than myself along the way, things only really started to pick up again for me as the beautifully reconstructed Old Shoreham Tollbridge hove into view. The last of its kind in Sussex, and one of the last of its kind anywhere in the world, the bridge was built towards the end of the eighteenth century, prior to which people and animals were pulled from one side of the estuary to the other perched precariously on a flat raft. Walking across the bridge’s slatted wooden surface, it’s difficult to avoid the sensation of being pulled back in time, or indeed several different moments in time, with the 10th century St. Nicholas’ Church as a backdrop and the towering spires of Lancing College looming Gothically in the foreground.

This riot of architectural styles (and on-going evidence that my prejudices about the likely attractions of my neighbouring town were completely and utterly ill-informed) continued as I crossed the bridge and turned back up the riverbank path to discover the Art Deco terminal building of Shoreham Airport – the oldest licensed airport in the UK, which now caters to privately owned light aircraft.

Given that riverbank path passes directly under, and perilously close to, the runway flightpath, it looks like there’s some great potential for mischievous pilots to faithfully recreate the dive-bombing scene in North by Northwest, casting unsuspecting ramblers in the role of Gregory Peck, although fortunately as I was passing it looked like the rain had put the kibosh on any such aerial antics for the day.

After all this, one might reasonably have thought that I’d had my fair share of aesthetic variety on this walk, but I think it’s fair to say that Shoreham had been keeping a bit of a corker up its sleeve a little further up the riverbank. Having driven through the town many times en route to somewhere else, I knew that there was a houseboat community there, which I’d been meaning to visit for ages, my London life having been bookended by periods of messing about on the river.

My first ever ‘flat’ in London, aged 18, was in fact a cabin under the wheelhouse of a converted Dutch coal barge called Henjo, near Battersea Bridge. I was actually quite lucky to have been allowed to live there at all, given the fact that I decided to first go and introduce myself after a somewhat extended pub lunch just round the corner. Rather pleased with myself for having negotiated the narrow, rickety gangplank onto the roof of the barge, I mistook the urgent waving of a sunbather on an adjacent boat for a friendly greeting, only to find myself crashing through a perspex skylight a split-second later, having just managing to grip its frame on the way down, which left me hanging in the middle of the living room below, looking sheepishly down at the understandably shocked faces of my shipmates-to-be. Not the height of cool, it has to be said.

And my final six years in the city were spent happily aboard the small but perfectly formed purpose-built houseboat Caspian (just visible bottom right of the photo) with Hammersmith Bridge directly outside my back door and one of the finest pubs on that stretch of the river, The Dove, at the end of my footbridge. I also had the good fortune to be a part of what must be a fairly exclusive band of boat dwellers to be moored next to a mature flower garden in the middle of a river. My neighbour’s wife had been talking for some about returning to land to pursue her dual interests of gardening and still-life painting, the latter which she was satisfying at the time by travelling down to Kew Gardens to create watercolours of wild flowers. Desperate not to leave the river and spotting an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone, my neighbour promptly purchased the hull of a huge old tug, filled it with earth, had it landscaped and breathed an audible sigh of relief as his wife began to happily interchange between gardening gloves and easel.

Whilst this horticultural reconstruction was undoubtedly imaginative and consistently drew admiring looks from people passing by on the towpath, the Shoreham houseboats certainly give it a run for its money, and what they might lack in conventional beauty, they more than make up for in sheer eccentricity.

The word ramshackle could have been invented especially to describe this motley collection of craft. Some have been embellished so much as to be almost unrecognisable from the original vessels that traversed the waterways. Others retain more of their original character, although no less unconventional – in particular the 150ft German minesweeper, Fische, that rears up ominously over its less sturdy neighbours. But the undoubted piece de resistance of this armada of oddness is Verda, which looks like it was conceived by Captain Nemo after having spent a week in the company of Timothy Leary.

It was, in fact, designed and built by the wonderfully offbeat artist and archetype of English eccentricity, Hamish McKenzie, Shoreham’s answer to Salvador Dali. Hamish had taken the concept of customisation evident all along the riverbank to an entirely new level, having adorned his boat with any number of not-strictly-nautical adornments, including a passenger coach, a television, a one-armed bandit and the side of a car welded into the hull, not to mention a fire engine as a conservatory.

Both the fire engine and the main boat house pianos, the latter of which I found Hamish perched at as I went to explore further, playing a composition that was one part madrigal and two parts John Martyn. Before I sound too much like tabloid door-stepper, I should explain that my walk serendipitously coincided with Hamish’s launch of his book A Cat ‘o’ Nine Tales (or Ramblings from the Riverbank in 9 installments)* – a photocopied sheath of essays, part autobiography, part philosophical musing and part commentary on the vicissitudes of modern life, weaved though with an environmental theme – for which he had opened the boat to the general public, and the first installment of which I picked up for the princely sum of £1.50, in return for which he also kindly allowed me to take the portrait at the top of this post.

And I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing a photo from the book of Hamish at the centre of the collage above, in which I’ve tried to give at least a flavour of the architectural detail of the dwelling that undoubtedly deserves to be right up there in the annals of alternative lifestyles. I suspect it might also provide an inkling into just one of the sources that Hamish draws his visual inspiration from.

Before the last leg of the return journey to Shoreham, the Cheeky Guide itinerary offers an optional diversion to the remains of a Napoleonic Fort at the far end of Shoreham beach. Somehow it seemed like a fitting end to the walk, partly because it offered the prospect of yet one more architectural artifact to add to my already impressive collection, and partly because I thought a slightly more conventional tourist attraction might represent a gentle return to reality after my recent brush with psychedelia.

Fat chance. As I neared the Fort and heard what sounded suspiciously like cannon fire, I began to wonder whether I had unwittingly ingested something of a fungal nature courtesy of Mr McKenzie, and was about to be thrown headlong into a multi-coloured reconstruction of a nineteenth century French invasion of my own making. Which, in the event, wasn’t actually a million miles away from what happened (although without the swirly bits).

What I had actually stumbled on was an event called Military History Day featuring an impressive roll call of historical militia units (or at least middle-aged men dressed up as them) including The Nothe Artillery Drum Corp, The Fort Cumberland Group, The Trafalgar Drummer, The Slightly More Recent And Decidedly Non-Martial Lancing Community Brass Band, not to mention the members of Dad’s Army and the Boer War veteran (who, weirdly, also looked suspiciously like Clive Dunn) that kindly agreed to pose for the photograph below.

Now maybe all that visual stimulation had clouded my judgement, but by the end of the day I must admit that if I’d been forced to make the choice between spending the weekend devising new ways to turn my home into a fitting tribute to Albert Hoffman, or being barked on a pretend parade ground by a quantity surveyor from Eastbourne in fancy dress, the decision wouldn’t have been too challenging. I suppose it all boils down to how you define surreal.

* For anyone interested in getting hold of the first & further installments of what promises to be, at the very least, a bit of a left-field read, Hamish tells me that he plans to distribute copies of his book at the Transition Stall at Shoreham Farmer’s market (if they let him!).

Filed under: Camino Countdown Tagged: Brighton, Cheeky Guides, Hove, Rain, Shoreham, Shoreham-by-sea, Spain, Sussex, Sussex Coast, The Santiago Way, Travel, Walk, Walking

Bigger and Better things!

I’m so over this past weekend. Apparently he only has a problem drinking when he is at home… He is ok to drink at parties… SMH whatever…. So much like everything else, this gets swept under the rug.

My daughter called today… The 18 year old. She wanted money for her therapy appointment. Which is funny, because she wanted money last week for her therapy appointment too. I don’t mind helping out here and there, but we can not financially afford to put her through therapy. (Hello! Why is it that I don’t go anymore and I’m not on meds??? Oh yeah, can’t afford it.) She left of her own free will BEFORE she even graduated, because life here sucked so bad apparently. (You know teens) As far as I am concerned, once she left, that was her statement to us that she didn’t need us to take care of her anymore. And lets not even get started with the braces… 

But enough about MY drama… LOL

How am I doing? BP wise I’m ok, aside from the fact I had to take some Ativan on Sunday. I was tired as hell today. Didn’t even do my treadmill or go for a walk. I have GOT to go get my labs done to see how my chemistry is and lets try to fix one thing at a time….

Going out to dinner tomorrow with the family. Should be fun.