Year: 2014

2014: A short review

[insert cliche about how quickly the year has gone]
[time flies like a banana quote and reference]*

I started the year running. I ended it with ITB and being told not to run. I need to stop setting goals that might fail, they don’t do me any good.

I took a short online course on creative writing and learned a few things. I want to learn more. The more I write, the more I want to do it. It’s not always easy but it seems to remain as a passion.

I volunteered at the Commonwealth Games, the memories will stay with me for the rest of my life. I need to volunteer more.

I got way too stressed out at work. Again. This needs to change.

I swapped my Fitbit for a Withings Pulse. I don’t know why that’s important enough to mention.

I appeared in a magazine article.

I watched 2001 in a cinema. Epic.

I’ve struggled with my weight.

I voted for Scotland to be independent. My prime reason was to drive change, break the status quo. I doubt I’ll ever see an independent Scotland in my lifetime, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

I got a beautiful new tattoo and my Mum gave me the tapestries that inspired it.

My parents moved home for the first time in 37 years. Emotional.

I started decluttering my flat. It’s not easy but with each change I feel more at peace there.

I tried Yoga. It was hard, painful on my knees (because of a condition I have) and ultimately realised I need to work on basic flexibility before trying it again. I enjoyed it for the most part, and hope to revisit it again.

I went to some gigs, they were all wonderful in their own way.

I finally got on board the podcast wagon, not heavily, but Serial hooked me in, and No Such Things As A Fish reeled me in.

I finally found a To Do app I like (Todoist).

I wrote a lot about my poly lifestyle, once a month at least (for the polymeanmany.com website).

I wrote a lot about my weight.

I spent time with both my partners, they make me happier than they realise.

It was a good year. The balance felt almost right, and I think I can look back on 2014 as more up than down, and you know what, I’ll take that.

[insert cliche about onwards, upwards and the beginning of a new year]

Make your own

Originally written and posted on Uborka.

 

‘Ssshhhhhhh, you’ll wake mum and Dad’

My sister was born when I was 7 and a half years old – back then that half was very important – so as her big brother it was my duty to induct her in the ways of Christmas.

By then I was old enough to know that Santa enlisted the help of my parents (or maybe he wasn’t actually real!), but still wanted my baby sister to revel in the joys of discovering what presents Santa had left us. So, by the time she was a toddler and able to make it downstairs on her own, the traditional 5am excitement started.

My parents live in an old house, it’s well-kept but retains the squeaky floorboards that I memorised in my youth. Knowing where not to stand meant you could get all the way downstairs and into the living room – where the fireplace was which is obviously how Santa got into our house each year – with nary a sound.

This same knowledge became very useful in my late teenage years, sneaking upstairs after staying out too late… but that’s a different story.

Christmas morning then, sneaking downstairs, avoiding the floorboard in the hallway outside my parents bedroom, the last step of the first flight of stairs and the second bottom stair of the second flight, and for goodness sake don’t step on the loudest squeaky board right in front of the living room door!

Into the living room, the tree twinkling in the bay window, the fireplace decked with decorations, and the milk, shortbread and carrots gone with only an empty glass and some crumbs leftover as evidence they had been eaten by our overnight guests.

More importantly, strewn across the armchairs was those magical presents and stuffed stockings, SANTA HAD BEEN!!!

We usually got an armchair each full of presents from Santa; a personalised stocking full of small toys and sweets, and larger items that didn’t fit all laid out lovingly like a wonderful Christmas display. We must have always been good, we must have watched out and not cried because I don’t remember ever getting any coal … and so it was that with eyes wide we leapt in to explore our bounties, as quietly as we could manage of course.

Those years, with my baby sister so excited, remain wonderful memories. I’d join in with her ohhhh and ahhhhs as she ripped open presents and boxes, marvelling at all the new toys, some of which were just what she wanted, or miraculously matched a set she already loved playing with.

A few hours later, probably still too early, my parents would appear and the excitement would be repeated as the presents were shown to them anew. How wonderful for Santa to know us so well, we’d all agree.

At some point my Dad would suggest breakfast and my sister and I would begrudgingly agree to a glass of milk whilst cramming whatever sweets we could into our mouths. The rest of Christmas morning would be spent in our dressing gowns, opening the presents left under the tree (from Aunts and Uncles), whilst the TV showed a wonderful new animation called The Snowman.

I continue to believe there is a magic to Christmas that is more than just the presents you receive. Today we are bombarded by imagery of what makes a perfect Christmas, what we should buy, what we should eat, how we should spend Christmas Day and how we should feel.

I say do whatever you want to be happy, try and find something that will make you a child again, a way to re-capture the wonderment and magic of Christmas. Or create your own. Don’t buy in to the hype.

Our Christmas wasn’t borne of tradition, there was no plan to how we spent our day. It was whatever we made it, and all I can remember of those days is one thing.

Merry Christmas.

Keeping busy

Keeping busy

The last few weeks at work were a bit manic, somewhat stressful, and long. Oh so long. I struggle to switch off at times like these but, as I’ve mentioned before, it does mean that I drop into a mindset that keeps me busy busy busy.

I finished up for the holidays on Friday and I’ve kept that busy busy busy thing going through the weekend and, despite a little lie-in this morning, it seems like it is continuing.

Busy busy busy.

I’m looking forward to Christmas this year as it’s full of new things. My parents new home, no planned Christmas dinner but a buffet, and then a quiet Christmas night with my loved ones. Although that’s another reason for the busy busy busy, getting my flat ready for that.

I think the busy busy busy is helping keep the usual holiday ills at bay. It’s something I’ve been seemingly more susceptible to for a while now so I’ve been wary as this holiday approached. Fingers crossed I’ll get away with nothing more than a wee cold.

Anyway, I can’t sit here, I’ve got things to do! The local recycling centre to visit, last couple of things to buy, and purple food colouring to master!

What? Ohh it’s for the parma violet vodka of course…

One to revisit

It’s a quick cycle when the ills hit. Tiredness reigns, my emotional capacity drops and I do my best to keep as much back for myself and for the people that are important to me, but work drains me more than I like.

Even realising this I dragged into futile discussions and arguments. Maybe next year I’ll learn how to stop that. For now, every day feels like a battle. It’s tiring, more so when I’m under the weather.

The joys of poly are many, the ills of poly are shared. Clare is feeling better, I’m almost there, but Kirsty is a few days behind us. Mark seems to have avoid whatever weird cold/sickness bug we’ve had.

And, of course, it’s that time of year when the nights out merge to a blur, the shopping trips are part running the gauntlet, part endurance event, and the bank balance is a whirlpool drain.

Through it all I’ve been writing. I’ve posted some things here, but most are hidden away from your prying eyes, delivered to be critiqued by others on the course. I’m a week behind (see above for mitigating circumstances) but it’s been enjoyable when I’ve had the time. I’ve learned some new tools and techniques and so, already, my mind wanders to 2015.

I have three things to tackle. I’ve always got these three things to tackle. At some point I need to figure this out but for now I’ll leave them here. My weight. My money. Writing time.

To be revisited.

When I have the time.

(see what I did there?)

Christmas is coming

Poly Means Many: There are many aspects of polyamory. Each month, the PMM bloggers will write about their views on one of them. Links to all posts can be found at www.polymeansmany.com.

The end of the year is approaching and so once again those of us in non-monogamous relationships start to look at our shared calendars and figure out who will be where and when amid the myriad of additional social engagements that always roll around at this time of year.

Case in point, I now have some form of ‘get together’ every Friday until Christmas, all of which involve food and booze and, therefore, limit my ability to be around on the Saturday morning after them; Dear Santa, I know I’ve not been a good boy but still… can I please have some willpower for next year?

Add in the social commitments of everyone else, both in my relationships and my wider circle of friends, and it starts to get a little challenging to see the people you want, when you want!

All of the planning is worth it though as it removes some of the stress of the unknown and, for us, is made easier by the fact that we are a year further on with our relationships and much more comfortable with the dynamics of our relationships. So from Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day, we already have a sense of who will be where and can figure out the details closer to the time.

That said, just this past weekend we’ve uncovered a couple of glitches in the thinking, back to the planning board!

More excitingly, we are also planning for the four of us to go away over New Year. We tried a Hogmanay street party last year and it turned out not to be the greatest idea ever – who wants to stand in a queue at a bar for AN HOUR! – so this year we are all looking forward to hiding away, stocked up on food and booze, board games and books, for a few days.

I will admit that I’m usually the one keen to get plans in place, but this past year has taught me to be a lot more relaxed about that – for the most part – so I’m totally NOT freaking out that our festive plans are still a little vague, nope, not me.

Beyond the plans there are other more mundane things to consider, presents to buy and gifts to be wrapped.

I mention the latter purely because I screwed up last year. I’m a big fan of ‘little gestures’ and so I was well chuffed with my plan to wrap presents for Kirsty and Clare in their favourite colours, purple and red respectively. One evening I gathered the presents together, popped Elf on the TV (because silly and Zooey) and started wrapping.

It was only when I stepped back to admire my handiwork (I even posted it on Instagram) that I realised I’d wrapped the presents for Clare in purple, and the presents for Kirsty in red… Oh well, can’t win them all!

For me, the festive season is a time to be around friends and family, to remind myself of what is important. It’s a time to reflect on how lucky I am, and how much love I have in my life. The older I get, the less I care about ‘things’ and the more value I place on being happy.

Wherever you are, however many loved ones you have in your life, I wish you all the very best and hope your festive season is a good one.

The other man

Sitting at the window, I first saw him as he walked past. A young man wearing the air of success and confidence matched by his well fitted dark suit, crisp white shirt and black tie, he paused to check the menu then walked in and sat down. He’s still there now, no more than 6 feet away from me further along the bench, all fashionable stubble and good looks. His slicked back dark hair frames his face, piercing blue eyes look out to the street with a quiet confidence. He is rugged and handsome.

Outside two young women wander past, one glances inside and doesn’t look at me.

I can’t make out the badge embroidered on the pocket of his suit jacket but it’s clear he belongs to a club of some sort, guessing from the granola and yoghurt he’s ordered I’d say a sporting one.

He looks relaxed, and gazes out of the window at the passersby, the spoon in his hand rising and falling from bowl to mouth with a practiced regularity; this is fuel, not a meal to be savoured.

He checks his watch and orders scrambled eggs on toast, energy for his game later no doubt, all part of the ritual. A football player then, as his ruggedness comes from genetics, not the arm of an opponent.

He removes his jacket to reveal a well pressed shirt with perfect creases, crisp cuffs and shiny cufflinks. He is a man of discipline, a man who takes his time and does things properly. A quick glance is all it takes to confirm that he looks after himself, his well defined body hugged by the material. I’m in no doubt it takes a careful amount of grooming to achieve that sculpted hair.

I sit here, unshaven and messy, an old jumper thrown on as I walked out the door, one shoelace almost undone, unkempt and comfortable. I wonder what he thinks of me?

I am who he doesn’t want to be.

I envy his willpower and determination.

The comparisons continue, starkly brought into focus by the large window framing us both. On one side an athlete, disciplined and focused. Healthy food and a glass of water. On the other a slovenly man with a half-eaten bagel and two cups of coffee.

He glances across at me, I can sense the movement in the corner of my eye. He looks away again and straightens his tie, an unconscious judgement passed.

He has finished his meal now and is getting ready to leave. From here he will go on to the sports club, get his kit bag from the boot of his car and walk into a world I do not know. The changing room will swallow him up as team-mates welcome him warmly, nicknames and friendly insults traded easily.

On Monday we will go back to work and tell the story of his weekend. He will talk of his team and, win or lose, he will be proud.

Pausing to give thanks

Thanksgiving is a big deal in America; what started out as a way to mark a good harvest has turned into a celebration of the good things people are thankful for. Thanksgiving isn’t, historically, exclusively American, and I do like the aspect of it that asks you to pause and take stock of the good things in your life, a very worthwhile activity any day of the week.

I have this small moments of reflection every now and then, most of them surface on Twitter but I thought this time I’d afford my thoughts a little more space.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, water to drink and food to eat. I am in good physical and mental health and I’m in control of my own wellbeing.

I am thankful that I have a loving family and a wonderful group of friends who support me, ground me, and are always there if I need them.

I am thankful I have a job which allows me to live a comfortable life.

And I am thankful for Kirsty and Clare. I don’t think they fully realise how much they both help me, centre me, and make me happy. I am thankful Kirsty has Mark, who provides her with the things I cannot. I am thankful Clare is starting to realise how valued she is. I’m thankful Kirsty and I started this wonderful journey.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and whilst it’s always easy to think on how things could be better in a myriad of ways, it turns out that none of them are all that important. I’m thankful for that realisation too.

I could write more, provide detail of specific moments or actions that have meant a lot to me but there is no need. All that matters is that I appreciate just how good my life is.

Thank you.

A slow walk

There is a chill in the air this late autumn day, but she doesn’t mind. There is a freshness on the breeze that roses her cheeks, her warm breath forming mini clouds in front of her. She loves days like today where she can take her time and enjoy life; she takes pleasure in all the sounds around her, the rustle of leaves underfoot, distant birdsong.

It’s the rhythm she enjoys, the gentle pace, the repetition, one foot after another, left, right, left, right. The destination closer with each step. She feels herself relaxing as she follows the twists and turns of the path, knowing she will unwind further when she arrives at her destination.

A movement catches her eye and a dark blur bursts into view, dashes across the path before disappears into the long grass on the other side. Startled she jumps back, scared by the sudden appearance of a local cat on the hunt.

She laughs out loud, reassuring her fast beating heart with the sound before continuing on her way.

Evening is settling in around her, the sun sneaks through the gathering clouds to brush the tree tops on the horizon, spindles of light cut through the trees and leave strange shadows across the path. She feels the first droplets of rain, puts her hood up and pulls her cape tighter around her body.

Up ahead she glimpes the first sign of the cottages, a trail of smoke rises into the air, buffeted gently by the breeze. She imagines the roaring hearth inside and quickens her pace towards the warmth.

Through the gate at the end of the path now, the long mechanical groan of unoiled hinges seems louder in the gathering twilight and then, there in the cottage ahead, she sees him standing in the window, watching and waiting for her.

She walks briskly now, the quiet of the woods behind her, a new focus in front. He is waiting for her and she urges time to move faster. She walks with purpose now, striding up the path to his cottage, her red cape billowing.

The door opens and there he stands, silhouetted as the night descends.

“Hello little girl”, says the wolf.

The Companion

It’s lonely in the dark.

The odd rumbling of an occasional distant car, the gurgling buzz from the refridgerator, and the deep breathing and snuffling of my companion are the only noises.

A gentle movement, a leg quickly retracted against the chill of the night.

I stand guard as always but the monsters are few these days. I’ve heard tales of nights full of them, each nook and cranny holding a new and terrifying sight. My sisters say the monsters only pick on the smaller ones, or maybe I’ve just been lucky. Either way it’s been a long long time since I saw one.

The last time was a while ago. It was a night like many others, the evening rituals the same and it wasn’t long before we descended into the familiar silence. The first realisation that anything was wrong was when my companion suddenly flinched, his body twitching violently beneath me. He cried out, a soft moan full of dread.

I did what I could to comfort him but no matter how I folded myself round him he pushed me away. I checked the room again and again but no monsters appeared; I do wish he would close the wardrobe door properly though, that’s just asking for trouble.

I’m glad the monsters seem to have gone away now, that those nights are few. It wasn’t always this way.

A gentle melody trills out and a faint glow washes the ceiling. He moves, his arm snakes out into the cold air as he groggily reaches around for the noise. It falls silent and the arm recoils. He falls still again.

A few minutes later the melody calls out once more. He moves again, twisting his torso to look more animated this time and the music stops.

He falls back, eyes opening and, with a heavy sigh and slow movements, he throws me back and leaves.

I watch as he goes, feeling the heat from his body escaping into the room and know that I will see him again soon.

Acceptance

Over the past few weeks I’ve been tweeting and posting to Facebook about a Kickstarter campaign that I’ve backed, trying to drum up more support.

The campaign was organised by the people behind Irreverent Dance, the aim was to raise funds for Europe’s first dedicated, gender neutral, fully accessible, dance space for London’s LGBTQ community.

I was so so happy when they achieved funding and, with the deadline now passed, managed to raise even more (goal was £30k, final total was £36,388).

I’ll now fess up and admit I know the organiser but that’s not why I backed the project.

I also didn’t back this project because I care about dance (if you’ve seen me ‘dance’ you’ll know why…).

And I definitely didn’t back this project because it is based in London; although here’s hoping that with a permanent base there could be some form of franchise model in the future? I know many people in Glasgow who would welcome something like this north of the border.

No, those aren’t the reasons I backed the campaign. The reason was a simple one.

Acceptance.

Reading through some of the back stories of the campaign, and the aims of Irreverent Dance, I realised I was finding a lot of parallels.

I’ve written in the past about not really fitting in and that general sense pervades today. No matter what ‘scene’ or ‘community’ I find myself in, I always feel a bit outside of it. Most likely because I don’t fully commit – I like my life to have a mix of things – but even then it’s not always the nicest set of feelings.

Even back at school I didn’t really fit in, stuck between the ‘not quite as popular as the really popular kids’ group and the ‘top grades all the time, bloody swots’ group.

Back then it was hard to deal with but these days it’s not something that bothers me, I accept it’s who I am, but I’ve not always had that accepted by others, so seeing what Irreverent Dance do just makes me happy knowing that there are small pockets of the world where all that really matters is acceptance.

“Be who you want to be!”

A very easy thing to say, a lot harder to do if you don’t feel like you fit in anywhere.

So, bravo to everyone who contributed! I hope everyone who will benefit from this new dance space finds it a little easier to accept themselves, and more able to ignore those people who don’t.


 

Update: The wrong question to ask yourself about crowd funding – matches my basic reasoning for supporting the Irreverent Dance campaign.