Dos and Don’ts of Dating

I’ve been single for a very long time now, but I have a vague idea of what does and doesn’t work in the dating world. My dating experiences were over ten years ago, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some methods simply aren’t going to win a woman (or a man!). Just because I’m not dating, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t been meeting people and making friends. I have a vague idea of how it works.

Bitching to my face about my friends, including ones they’ve never met, as subtle as they think they’re being, is not the way to melt my heart. It makes me think “wow, he’s so sweet, looking out for me” … “STFU you twat.” All I see is a jealous, immature wombat with no sense of what they’re talking about… I get drunk? My friends aren’t forcing alcohol down my neck. I fall down on a walk? My friend didn’t push me over. My friend didn’t come to my aid with the antiseptic and the plasters? She’s my friend, not my nurse maid and guardian. If they can’t say anything nice about my friends, they shouldn’t talk to me at all. Shh now.

Judging the way I live is not a desirable trait that I want in a man. All I’m doing is looking at the clock, wondering when you’re going to get out of my house. I’m also making little hints like “I really must cook my dinner” and “I’ve got to wash my hair” and “I’m so bored of your company right now, I want to put pins in my eyes”. So what if I have a day’s washing up in my sink? So what if I have laundry on the airer in my kitchen? So what if I have a mountain of cow dung in my living room? It’s my house. It’s not as though I’m serving them dinner on a plate that has just been used to culture gas gangrene causing bacteria. How I live is my business, no one else’s. Hence, I live alone.

Instructing me on how to drive is more likely to leave them stranded on the side of the road (while I laugh my head off), rather than me looking at them though dewy eyes. I have been driving for a number of years now. Unless you’re my father, or you’re life is in danger, if you’re in my car you shut up. I only let my father keep his instructor hat on so I don’t get put out for adoption; I’m 30 now, what if no one wants me?! I don’t need to be told “you can go now” – I am familiar with how quick the cars are approaching the roundabout. I don’t need to hear “just remember there’s a tree right in front of you” when I’m parked in the supermarket car park. And, I really don’t need to hear “it’s a national speed limit, you can do 60” when I’m doing less than 30 mph along a single lane, twisty, windy road where I can’t see what’s coming at me and I have a tractor in front of me. I don’t need a narrative from said passenger on what other drivers do that annoy them (as a passenger) while I’m driving (when I’m not doing these things) while they conclude with “that’s why I always do the driving”. There are a lot of places that I travel to that aren’t even on a bus route.

Complaining about my ‘hospitality’ isn’t going to fill me with desires of  being their wife. If I provide someone with clean bedding on the spare bed, and if I have teabags, cereal, bread and milk in the house (Claire – I always have eggs 😉 ), then I think my guests are living the live of luxury. If they want a cooked breakfast, they can provide the ingredients and cook it themselves. If they want coffee, they can walk down to the local shop and buy a jar (if I have forgotten to buy something I don’t drink). If I don’t have almond milk in the house, then don’t scoff at my ground almond alternative. And, if my pillow cases don’t match the duvet set – who cares? They’re sleeping in the bed, not parading it at an exhibit. It baffles me, because I receive no payment for letting them stay the night yet they expect to be waited on hand, foot and finger as though they’re in a 5* hotel…

I don’t get turned on by people who look down their noses at me. I have plans. Perhaps my plans aren’t as grandiose as their plans, but I have plans. Perhaps my garden is only very little, but it’s good enough for me. Maybe I don’t have a drive-in, drive-out driveway, but I feel that my car is somewhat secure in the parking areas around my house. The park doesn’t represent a low-income area, the park represents a place for children to play. Vans don’t represent an area of rogues, vans represent an area of grafters. My peeling border that runs along my walls don’t represent that I have no pride in my home, it represents that I moved in less than a year ago and still haven’t decided on a decor scheme. My yale lock on the back gate doesn’t indicate a high-crime neighbourhood, but that I can’t be bothered to fix my shed door and I have to keep my bike safe to keep my insurance valid. My dreams of having stairs into my loft doesn’t represent that I can’t afford a bigger house, it just simply means that I dislike ladders and have an entire level of my house I can’t really use until that is remedied.

Sexism doesn’t really get me hot under the collar, either. My blown light bulbs aren’t because I’m a woman and I can’t change them – they’re because I haven’t been to B&Q to buy new ones (and yes, I know which ones to buy). I don’t need a man to offer to check my levels on my car “while I’m visiting” – I know where everything is, and what I have to do; I don’t think my refusal warrants a follow-up question of “when did you last check your levels?”. Only my father and my grandfather are permitted to ask those questions. I don’t need to be assigned the cooking and cleaning roles while receiving “help” on “manly” tasks – I can use a hammer (and smash it into their skull) and I know how a screwdriver works. I can even use a drill. If I ask for help, I ask for help. My requests for help aren’t “please come and do it for me”. If that’s what I wanted, I would have stated it in the first place!

Victimising isn’t on the wish list, either. Yes, I’m going through a difficult time, but that isn’t an open invitation for them to decide what is best for me and what isn’t. It isn’t an open invitation for them to decide that I need looking after. I’m an adult – I have been for 12 years – I can make these decisions for myself. I don’t need wrapping up in cotton wool. I’m not broken.

Belittling my interests doesn’t give me butterflies in my stomach. Yes, I use Facebook. Yes, I use Twitter. Yes, I have a blog. Yes, I take a lot of photos. Yes, I own a television. Just because they adopt a social media free life without pictures and nothing to watch in the back ground doesn’t mean that they’re better (or worse) than I am. If I am “plain” or “boring” for using social media and “dull” for watching my television and “common” for taking pictures, than so be it. While they’re judging me on my interests, I’m also judging myself on why I’m friends with them in the first place.

Entry 42

As promised in Monday’s post, I am re-blogging to entries from Journal of the Nightmare Patient which I previously shared under my ‘nom de plume’. This is the second entry from my e-Book:

One infection clears up. The prospects of being discharged are promising. Then, another infection makes itself known.

The cycle keeps repeat itself, over and over again.

There’s no respite. None at all.

As soon as the doctors think that they are on top of things, something else comes along. We are constantly taking one step forward and several steps back.

I’m fighting a losing battle.

I’ve lost count of the number of central venous catheter’s or PICC lines I’ve had put in and removed as a precaution of being an infection source. Every time the doctors take one line out, some form of line goes back in a few days later before it has to come out because of an infection risk.

I feel alone. I don’t know whether I’ll live or die. I struggle to find anyone who understands what’s was going through my head. People are getting bored of me declining invitations to socialise. They’ve stopped inviting me out altogether now because my response are always the same: “no, I’m in hospital”. Most communication has stopped and they leave me alone as they carry on with their lives. But then there are friends, like Gazza, who I’ve neglected. Texting consumes effort and there isn’t much to text about. Phone calls are near impossible when my I feel so unwell and my signal is rubbish. Maintaining friendships has became difficult because I feel too tired to make the effort. But, I’m also looking after number one. I know I push  away the people who care about me because I’ve convinced myself that one day they’ll also get bored and forget about me. I don’t know how to get out of this horrible cycle.

I feel isolated. The cards of well wishes pile on the door mat from people who don’t usually give me the time of day. These well wishes are meaningless. Whenever I’m alone in this isolation room, I’m surrounded by these cards, but where are the visitors to keep me company? Despite offers of “if there’s anything I can do, let me know”, which seem to be steadily flowing in, very few have delivered on the “you could come and visit me” suggestion. The worst excuse for not visiting is “I don’t like hospitals”, which disheartens me. I don’t chose to be here. This isn’t a holiday for me.

I’m also worrying about my money… It’s an expensive luxury to be a patient. The sick pay has run out and I’m living on an incredibly tight budget.

Being a patient doesn’t stop the financial obligations. Being a patient doesn’t mean that everything suddenly becomes free.

When I’m in hospital, direct debits still have to be paid. While in hospital I have to pay to watch TV and access the Internet. I have to pay to read a newspaper. I still have to buy birthday cards and the toiletries that I need.

When out of hospital I have to pay my way. I can’t walk out of a supermarket with a basketful of shopping without paying. I can’t do activities which cost money for free because I’m sick and not working. It would be more economical if I had gone to prison – at least prisoners (apparently) earn money while serving their sentences so that they have some cash once they’ve served their time!

There’s also a battle for me to claim benefits while I’m sick because I can’t attend their appointments to prove that I’m sick. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult when there are so many people claiming a load of benefits, leading comfortable lives and even get a house chucked in for free if they need one! Benefits are supposedly available for those in need but I see that they’re more easily available for those who plan to never work and opt for the easiest way of life. I have to prove that I’m unable to work, and even then the benefit assessors haven’t accepted the many hospital letters that I’ve supplied them with. The work shy and lazy bums appear to be more equipped with the knowledge of how to claim every benefit that they’re ‘entitled’ to; I must have missed that lesson at school. Living on benefits shouldn’t be a way of life. Benefits should be capped. They should only be available for times of real hardship.

Entry 23

As I promised in Monday’s post, I am re-blogging the two entries from Journal of the Nightmare Patient which I had previously shared under my ‘nom de plume’:

After my last entry, I gathered my possessions together. I made sure that I was ready to leave as soon as Nanna and Grandad arrived. I was determined that I would not stay in this hospital any longer. I don’t want to stay in a hospital where the staff have no respect for me as a person, and where I can’t be ill in peace. I don’t want to be somewhere if no one listens to my voice.

While Nanna spoke with the ward manager, and tried to reason with me, Grandad stayed by my side. I’ve cried hard today. I was quite distressed this morning. I couldn’t bear to be here for moment longer. Grandad took my bags, and took me to the car.

The ward manager tried to justify my experience during the night with the fact that I’ve been transferred to this ward on a weekend, and late in the evening. I’m sorry, but it isn’t an excuse for a shitty night.

Grandad drove me back to The Town Hospital. We went to A&E and I was taken to a side room to protect me from the other patients. The nurses learnt about my recent medical history and ensured that my IV antibiotics were administered in a timely fashion, and called for Professor Bertie, who was on call today, to come and see me.

Professor Bertie wasn’t happy that I had discharged myself from The City Hospital. Both he and Nanna pleaded with me to return. It was horrible.

Professor Bertie told me that without treatment I could be dead within six months. He was blunt. He was cold in delivering the icy truth. I suppose that he had to be.

I really didn’t care.

I really don’t care.

I didn’t want to return back to this ward. Instead, I spoke about biodegradable coffins, and cheap funeral arrangements. Nanna became upset. Grandad was searching for alternative solution; he asked about private care, but Professor Bertie says that isn’t an option.

I focused on my baby half-brother who was lying in Nanna’s arms. He is only a month old. If I were to refuse to come back to The City Hospital, by the time I die, he’ll be about six months old. He’ll have no memory of me. What about all of my other siblings? What about Nanna and Grandad? What about Dad? What about all the people that I’ll be leaving behind with only a memory that I once existed?

Facts and figures swirled in my head. Out of all the people in our country, only up to 150 of them are diagnosed with aplastic anaemia per year. I’m unlucky to be one of them. I’m in the minority group, yet, I’m never lucky enough to be in the minority group of lottery winners! No matter how the odds are stacked, I am the loser. With the treatment that I’ve been sent away to receive, there is a 70% chance that it might work – but the way that my luck is going, I am likely to be in the 30% group of it not working.

The thought that I’ll be leaving behind a memory of having once existed, returned to me. Do I want that memory to be one that I’ve fought against, or one that I’ve cowardly given into because I don’t want to stay in a place where I’m treated in a way that I don’t like? Do I want that memory to be one that the people who love me can reflect upon with pride in how I’ve fought, or anger in how I’ve given up at the first hurdle? Do I want the baby to know me or have to hear about me every now and again when I’m occasionally remembered?

They made it sound like a special favour when they told me that the bed at The City Hospital was being held for me. I had to make a decision, and I had to make it quickly. I feel emotionally blackmailed by the emotions in the room earlier. I feel cornered because The City Hospital is the only place where I can receive the treatment that I need. It feels that the only person watching my back is Grandad. Maybe he and Nanna are playing “good cop, bad cop”?

Reluctantly, I’ve come back to The City Hospital. I cried for the entire journey which disappeared so quickly. Unless I want to succumb to this disease without a fight, I have no other choice. I know that I’m not in control; this isn’t a decision that I’ve chosen to make but one which I feel I’ve been forced to make.

I’ve gone to bed without any dinner. The food doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m exhausted. I haven’t eaten anything today, but given that I hardly eat most days, it doesn’t bother me that much. The choice of food that I saw on my way to my isolation room didn’t appeal to me; it either looked very dry, or looked very watery! Thankfully Nanna and Grandad are “allowed” to bring me ready meals which can be cooked in a microwave while I’m a patient here.

Do I really need permission to eat food that I like while I’m in hospital?! Do I really need permission to have anything brought in from home??? This isn’t a bloody prison!!!!!

Published

This year, I finally finished editing and consolidating the journals that I kept during and after my treatment for aplastic anaemia. In April, I decided to take the ‘brave’ step by publishing my finished piece of work. Under the nom de plume of ‘Ethel Shambles’, I uploaded my finished accomplishment on Amazon.

Last week, I was looking for a different cover for my eBook and wondered “why am I hiding behind a pen name when I blog under my real name and I Twitter under my real name?” It seems rather odd that I have fulfilled one of my ambitions (to write) and then hide behind a nom de plume when I don’t wear a mask for anything else. So, I have made another ‘brave’ decision – I edited the information for the eBook and published under my real name: R. J. Sefton.

By changing this information, I can no longer offer it as a paperback copy. It would seem that I have complicated things by changing the author, because the paperback has an assigned ISBN number. I will try and figure something out, but for now, my work is now available from Amazon on the Kindle for £1.99. Apparently when advertising the link, I ought to provide it with links to the .co.uk and the .com stores (according to some sources), so I have hyperlinked them accordingly.

This week, I shall upload the two ‘entries’ from Journal of the Nightmare Patient which I previously shared under my nom de plume so that they are available to read again. Should you wish to read the finished version in its entirety, well, you know what you’ll have to do…

(The two entries have been uploaded: here and here)

Chicken & Stuffing Pie 

The other week I gate crashed a lunch date. I’d been given a menu to look at and one item in particular intrigued me: chicken and stuffing pie. I had to have it…

The pie was yummy – chicken and stuffing in a pie served with chips, peas and gravy. That’s when I said to someone at the table that I would probably put the peas inside the pie so I didn’t have to chase them across my plate. The pie was delicious. It was really, really yummy. 

I had no choice. Either I have to frequently drive ~20 miles to eat the pie or I have to make my own pie…

But if I make the pie, can I make it better? I gave it a go:

  • Shortcrust pastry – cooked the base briefly.
  • Cooked 3 chicken breasts and chopped them up.
  • Made a mixture of sage and onion stuffing from a packet. Stirred in the chopped chicken.
  • Stirred in peas and defrosted spinach.
  • Added a tiny bit of gravy to make the mixture sticky (not wet).

Then I crammed (squashed) the mixture into the pie base before stretching the pie lid over the top. I baked it in the oven for 35 mins. I brushed the pie in gravy that I had added to the filling.

I’m actually quite shocked that food this tasty can come out of my kitchen…

She’ll be coming round the mountain…

My mood hasn’t been all that great over the last week, so when I was out and about with my friend, and I showed enthusiastic interest in a particular mountain, he decided that we should do it. I didn’t object. I didn’t oppose the idea. I didn’t try to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t go out. In fact, I rather looked forward to the climb – it’s a bit scrambly and I like to scramble.

We got up to the top of Tryfan in 3.5 hours. I’m sure my friend would have been quicker, but he was having to wait for me. I’m not a quick walker. In my defence, he knows that.

It was about 18:50 when we left the top to come down. Coming down rocks is always a bit trickier (for me) than going up them. However, knowing what a slow coach I am, my friend was confident that we’d either be on the path or back to my car before it began to get dark.

Well, a combination of poor decision making on my friends part (regarding our route down), and slow walking on my part, meant it was 23:35 before we reached my car. Thankfully one of us had a head torch. We both would have but my confident (and experienced) climbing/mountain friend was sure that we wouldn’t need one head torch, let alone two! So I left mine at home and had to wear my friends torch.

Not only had we been to the top, but we’d also been all around the mountain. It’s not a grassy mountain. It’s a rocky one with massive boulders to climb over.

This morning there’s not a bit of me that doesn’t ache. My muscles feel like they’ve died. I think if it isn’t hurting, it’s probably become numb. Someone should probably dig out a walking frame for me…

I’ve written this blog post from my lovely warm bath…

Changing tastes

I used to scoff at people who told me that my tastes would change. What I like today, I might not necessary like tomorrow. What I disliked yesterday, I might like today. But I always wondered how I would know that I now like something when until that time I haven’t.

Take, for example, my attitude towards vegetables. When I was living at home, I ate vegetables because Nanna served them. I’d take the bare minimum on offer, and I never really enjoyed them. I much preferred to eat my vegetables disguised in stews and soups. Just like salads have never appealed to me. 

Now I’m doing my own shopping, I could be forgiven for not buying foods that I dislike. Now I’m cooking for myself, I could be forgiven for not cooking foods that I dislike. But, they’re ok when hidden in the depths of a stew or combined with other foods that I do like.

So, how have I discovered that my tastes are changing?

It started at Christmas. I was at a Christmas meal with colleagues, and I had a single Brussels Sprout. I just had one. I dipped it in gravy, I put it in my gob, I chewed it and I realised that there was something different about it. The expected taste of sour ear wax didn’t come. The anticipated taste of disgustfulness didn’t arrive. 

I won’t go so far as saying that I particularly enjoyed my annual Brussels Sprout, but it was more pleasurable than previous years. 

My experience got me thinking: what else might taste better? I’ve been trying “new” foods and have discovered that actually, a lot of vegetables and melons aren’t as yucky as I have previously analysed them as being.

  • Cider isn’t as yeasty as I previously thought it was – flat cider is still rank though…
  • Wine can still be bitter but I have produced a short list of my favourites.
  • Cauliflower isn’t as bitter as it was before – but unless I’m turning it into soup, I don’t like the taste when it’s too soft. It tastes nicer raw.
  • Courgettes have quite a nice taste when cooked in butter and black pepper.

However, peppers and lamb and mashed potato are still quite gross…

It doesn’t just apply to food. I’ve discovered that my TV habits are changing. I now find myself watching reconstructions of murders in relationships, house buying programmes, programmes about history and Columbo. I’m also finding myself browsing the home furnishing, DIY and furniture departments in shops with interest rather than boredom and tuning into Radio Two…