How does your garden grow?

And today, I’m going to be a total and utter bore. I’ve been gardening. Yes. Outside. In daylight. In… *gulp* …sunshine.

Okay, so, I may have exaggerated slightly for effect there. And I may definitely have overestimated the amount of the glary stuff. Let’s just say, there’s been an absence of rain.

Yep. That’s more accurate.

When we moved here nearly 3 years ago, we inherited a large garden full of jungly weeds and concrete. Indiana Jones never did show up to help fight our way through it. Oh well…

Nature is really a really important part of staying healthy (physically & mentally), and not just for humans! So I’ve been having a go at growing stuff in the garden. But I have one rule… I won’t grow anything just because it’s pretty. So no cutesy flower with some unpronounceable names. And let’s face it, they’re all unpronounceable. 

So, I’m going for herbs, vegetables and fruit. And there’s some really pretty herbs out there. And you don’t need a garden to grow them in, either.

b603287b-146f-42e0-8602-fc97769dd0b5

(I don’t have any gnomes in the garden – thought I better point that out!)

I did buy some seeds, but apart from my trio of blueberry bushes (which can be from indoors, apparently), all my other plants were, er, acquired.

And this is where I get really boring…

I’m going to list them!

Thyme & Rosemary – these were both those ‘growing herbs’ that I got from the food section of the supermarket. I kept them waaaay past their sell-by date and they suddenly went feral. They’re now sat in their own tub outside. The bees love them.

Garlic, Mint & Celery – I stuck some over enthusiastic garlic cloves in the soil. Up they popped. I had to be careful though – they look a bit like grass. The mint was a pack of cut stems – again from a supermarket. I put a couple of stems in a glass of water until they grew little roots. It took about 2 weeks or so. I put the strongest one in a little yogurt pot of soil and when it got too big, I replanted it outside.

It’s now planning world domination. 

The celery was a similar thing. Rather than ripping the stalks off, I cut them off. When I’d eaten all the sticks (try one, finely  chopped with grated vegan cheese and mayo in a sandwich or spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins). The stub was sat in a saucer of water until the roots kicked in. It’s now sat in a little corner with the rhubarb (which was here before we moved in), minding its own business. It’s slow growing, but hey ho.

You don’t always have to spend a fortune on plants, you see. There are others,  but I’ll spare you.

I’ve even got house plants now – first one is Spike. I have no idea what he is. Naming them after fictional vampires. Looking for suggestions. 2 yucca – Louis and Lestat.

Aand those seeds… one tip. Pay attention. Serious attention. And I was doing so well, too. I’d carefully prepared the soil, made a straight line with those couple of pegs and string things, made a furrow for each line of seeds. The works.

I sowed one lot of seeds and carefully covered them with the soil…

And then I had a “SQUIRREL!” moment.

And planted the second lot of seeds on top. I did wonder why I’d forgotten to make a furrow for them. Until I saw the other (empty) furrow the recommended distance away (thank heavens for YouTube).

Anyway, a lot of something has sprouted. I just have to wait 2-3 weeks until I can tell which is which…

Think I’ll go and talk to Spike, Louis and Lestat… They won’t judge…

Myths and Mysteries

Right. What shall we talk about today..?

I’m thinking this should probably be a part 1 kind of thing.

Actually, now might be a pretty good time for a bit of a recap. If you’re new to all this, it’ll save you time and if you’ve been with me since the beginning, then you know my tendency to repeat myself. Well, at least this time, it’ll be on purpose.

And if you want to be thorough, I’ll link in previous posts… ’cause I’m pedantic like that.

First off, let’s get the biggie out of the way.

Yes, vampires do exist. Obviously. Or I wouldn’t be here, talking to you.

Okay, so I’m technically not here. Well, not your ‘here’. I mean my ‘here’. And technically, I’m not talking. Unless you’ve got one of those cool apps that reads the text off a screen. Actually, I saw this really neat gadget the other day that you attach to glasses that’ll do exactly that – but I’m distracting myself. Terrible problem.

And I just love the dictate function on tablets and phones etc. Seek and ye shall find? Well, this is speak, and it shall type. So handy. Especially as sometimes my brain works faster than my fingers. My mouth doesn’t work as fast as my brain either, but it does go a darn sight faster than my stubby little digits.

And there I go again. I go off track more often than a dirt bike.

There are so many myths surrounding vampires. Some are spot on. Some… well, let’s just say that some people got the wrong end of the stick. I can’t believe I just said that. And some are partly true – but not for the reason you’d think.

So here are a few FAQs…

  • reflections – yes, I have one. So does pretty much anything. Including the wall opposite the mirror. But I do hate mirrors, although you can chalk that one up to childhood trauma (as can about 90% of human experience).

 

  • sunlight – no sizzling, fizzling or spontaneous combustion. Just a tendency to walk into things because I can’t flipping see in normal to bright sunlight. And there’s the sunburn.

Don’t forget the sunburn. I know I don’t.

 

  • bites and turning – I have to admit, I’m not sure. Not really much research. I know the Monies Powers That Be will fund some glaringly obvious studies (e.g. sword-swallowing can be dangerous – who knew?!), somehow rocking up to a finance committee asking for £300,000 to go ’round biting people wouldn’t go down too well. Or it could be the best ever episode of Dragon’s Den. Not that I watch it but, you know, you hear things…

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  • reincarnation/one true love – faces, like history, keep repeating themselves. but I’ve only recently talked about that one, so…

 

  • immortality – well, I’m still here, into my 2nd glorious century! But then, so is anyone over the age of 20…

 

  • the drinking blood thing – vampires are usually portrayed as avoiding all human food… well, there’s allergies – food allergies abound. Traditionally, vampires stick to blood because trying to find food that won’t have us impersonating the Trevi Fountain is just too much of a faff.

 

  • turning into animals –  have you ever noticed that the animals that vampires are supposed to turn into tend to be ones that get used as insults? Daft old bat, hound, what a dog etc. You can just imagine it, can’t you? The postman has just delivered post to the Dracula household. It’s bad enough that he’s had to traipse up a particularly precarious slope to reach the manky, gloomy old castle teetering on top of an especially treacherous precipice (someone should really call the Council). but then he knocks and for once, waits for an answer. None of this tickling the doorbell then leaving a “Sorry We Missed You” card.

And, because it’s about ten-to-sunrise o’clock, the door gets opened by the grumpy resident, who’s more interested in getting some kip than receiving all the latest offers from the local pizza parlour. He grabs his mail (including the blackout curtains he ordered from eBay), growls at the hapless postie and beats a hasty exit to avoid the oncoming daylight.

And the postman gets back to the office, exhausted from the climb (and no doubt the stumbling back down – remember precarious?), cheesed off because it’s only the start of the shift and he’s already been barked at (see where I’m going with this?). A colleague asks what’s wrong (because the postie’s colleagues are a caring lot).

“What’s wrong?” he says. “I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I nearly got killed delivering a parcel to that castle on top of the hill. And when I get there, some grumpy old bat answers the door, growls at me then disappears like a puff of smoke!”

“He’s a bat?!” yelps the colleague, “Then he turns into a dog and vanishes into a puff of smoke?”

And that, folks, is how rumours start.

And then the rumours become legend.

 

  • sleeping in a coffin – no, but it’d be about the only way I’d ever sleep on my back. I just prefer sleeping on my side. Coffin with a stretchy lid, perhaps? Otherwise – shoulder problems. Those things aren’t very deep, and I’ve got broad shoulders. Plus I’m an awful fidget – especially when asleep. Ever seen a jumping bean? That’d be me, trying to sleep in a coffin. Plus – claustrophobia!

 

  • Being invited in? It’s just manners. Picture this: someone knocks on your door. You open it. They barge in. How would you feel? Threatened? Uncomfortable?  Most people with manners will wait to be invited in. I say most… I mean the ones who have retained any sense of decorum and etiquette.  I suppose vampires just take things a step further.  There’s the tendency to extrapolate. Or, as I like to call it – overthink. So if you let a vampire in, you’re giving them carte blanche to do… well, what vampires do. Me, it’s mostly sit quietly and eat biscuits. Those nice pink wafers if you’ve got them. I like pink wafers. You see, we are asking permission not just to have that carte blanche, but to keep it handy whenever we need it. I say we

Oops, I’ve been rambling again, haven’t I? Thanks for the patience. You’re definitely one of the better humans. This is definitely going to be a two-parter, I think.

Got a burning question? 

Then just leave it in the comments!

Ask, and I will answer. Or at least, I’ll have every intention of answering, but I might get distracted. No, I will answer. Honest. But I do get distracted… I’ll absolutely do my best. Ooh, what was tha-

 


Do you Twit? Tweet? Tweeter? Follow me on the birdy thing!

Some things are left better unsaid…

…or conversation for the socially awkward.

Do you ever have days where you manage to stay sane; interact with lovely people or – better still – no people at all?

Do you often have days where you seem to run into every nutter going? Or as I like to call it – Wednesday.

I just seem to attract all forms of crazy and awkward- in the form of people, conversations and situations. Today was no exception.

I’m coming back from visiting someone and on the way back to the train station, I bump into one of their more verbose neighbours. So there I am, with 26 minutes to do a walk which a nearby signpost reminds me will take 17 minutes to do, with my darling furbaby in tow who is determined to sniff every. single. goldarn. blade of grass going and up pops Mrs Verbose, with clear plans to tell me her life story for the I’ve-forgottenth time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did stop and talk. I know that much about humans.

I’m not rude but at the same time, I could almost hear the tick-tock countdown in my head. I spend about 10 painful minutes of nodding and making what I’ve learned are mollifying sounds. I’ve watched you humans carefully on this one. As long as I nod, and say things like ‘really? Oh, that’s good/bad’ (Note to self: do NOT mix those two up), I can go on auto-pilot while I plan my escape.

Long story short: even with the unexpected accompaniment of a lovely person who thought I was talking to her and not the furball, I actually managed to get on the train and get home before crumbling into a pile of introverted angst.

Awkward conversations…

Which, if you’re me, is pretty much any conversation.

awkward

I mean, we’ve all heard this one, or something similar, I’m told…

You know, this one.

Stranger: Where do you live?

Me: I live in south Wales.

Stranger: Ooh I know someone who lives in south Wales –  their name is Jones. Do you know them?

I think everybody’s had that one at some point or other but how about some of the other clangers?

Like, for instance, the person who doesn’t speak to you for ages and then when you do speak to them, they only seem to be interested in finding out how much money you earn. And they won’t let it go. And they keep coming back to it. Especially if you work in something unusual.

Does anyone else get this a lot?

And then there’s this one…

Something similar to the “Do you know the Joneses” is the person who rabidly insists on describing the other person’s character, appearance or domicile in great enough detail to browbeat you into admitting that yes, yes, you do know them… Now please make it stop…

This is the location variant…

It starts simply enough. You’ve answered the ‘Where do you live‘ question correctly. Then you get told that their cousin’s friend’s brother-in-law lives in the same area and do you know it? It’s just around the corner from you!

And as much as you’re trying to tell them no, they will not let it go. It’s right up there with the Mr ‘oh-I-know-someone-who-lives-about-30-miles-away-from-you-but-it’s-all-the-same-area-so-you-must-know-them‘. In this case, they give you all manner of landmarks that you don’t know and you keep telling them that but does that stop them?

Heck, no.

It’s like getting caught under a boulder rolling downhill.

They come up with things like ‘they live a couple of streets away from the butchers‘.

Butchers?

My eyes glaze over.

They still don’t take the hint. Yes, you know the butchers – the one that does the amazing sausages.

I’m vegan..?

But even that doesn’t stop them. They keep going but clearly haven’t picked up on the fact that you really have no interest where this complete stranger lives and you really don’t want to be bullied into admitting that you do know where such and such a place is. Even if you don’t. Which is more often the case.

Screenshot 2020-02-26 18.44.13

Of course, there is one risky prospect which, as long as you can stop yourself from gnawing your own elbow to stay conscious, does work. That is to get the other person talking about themselves.

And humans just love talking about themselves, don’t they?

So if you can keep your eyes open during their TED-worthy speech about the benefits of different densities of concrete, you’re onto a winner. But you have to remember to do the thing with the head and make the correct noises.

TIP: try to sound as genuine as possible. I can’t do it and apparently, I don’t do sarcasm either so I’m really onto a loser with that one.

Oh well.

 


Are you following me here yet?

I mean, in a non-creepy, follow-this-blog kind of way…

You know what I mean.

Do you?

Sheesh.

I hope so.

Telepathetic

You know what? I’ve just remembered what I was going to talk about a couple of weeks ago.

Typical, isn’t it?

Now I don’t know if it’s the vampire brain, or whether it’s just me, but I do find sometimes that there’s something stuck in my head and I can’t get to it for ages.

It’s like that pen that falls down behind a cupboard and you do your darnedest to reach it, but no matter how much you stretch your arm out, you can’t even get your fingertips on it…

Well, that was my problem last time.

And now I’ve remembered what it was.

I’d be great on a debate programme, would I?

Oh yes, I’d have my devastatingly astute comeback at the ready. Give me three weeks, and you can have it.

It was all to do with another myth I heard about the other day.

Apparently, vampires can read minds.

What?

Heck, no!

I’d be even crazier than I already am!

I’m already an empath, so I can feel other people’s emotions, but having their thoughts dumped on me too?

Gahhhh!

No, that’s not the case, (un)fortunately. While yes, it might be useful on occasion, I doubt it’s something you could turn on and off like a tap.

This is actually what’s going on, should you ever meet a vampire…

It’s the turbo brain thing. The vampire brain moves so fast, it collects information at a rate that computers are probably envious of. If computers could feel envy, or indeed… anything.

We watch you.

We read your body language, your facial expression, the way you blink your eyes, the way you twist your mouth as you talk. Every single thing. And every single one of those things is an insight into what you’re thinking. Your face and your body are simply the hand-puppets of your brain.

We know if you’re lying. We know if you’re in pain. We know every single thing that you want to hide. And it’s got nothing to do with telepathy. Nothing at all. At the risk of sounding like a zombie recovery counsellor, your brain is safe.

There.

That’s either made you feel relieved or really creeped out…

I’d love to know which…

 

Brainiac alert

I don’t really know what to say today. This is one of the problems with the vampire brain, as I’ve mentioned before. And yes, for once I do actually remember talking about it. Or referring to it at least.

Ain’t no such thing as a clever vampire.

What?

That’s confused you, hasn’t it!

Well, there’s no such thing as a stupid vampire either. Despite what popular culture tells you. Let’s face it, all that business with tv/film vampires disappearing in a poofff of smoke when they get staked?

Plot device.

Saves a lot of explaining.

Go back to the legends. I had to. That’s all I’ve really got to go on, apart from my own experience.

So.

To save you scratching your head any further…

No such thing as a clever vampire. It’s the turbo brain. It’s not just clever. And this is going to sound so conceited… but a vampire brain is a work of genius.

Did I ever tell you that when I studied psychology at university back in the 20th century, MENSA tracked me down and asked me to join..?

I think I may have been slightly put off – and off-putting in my response.. Or perhaps I was just really, really polite. That bit, I can’t remember. It was so long ago.

Have you ever had that happen to you?

There are always two versions of events.

There’s the one where you go out , all guns blazing (metaphorically, of course), with biting and incisive wit and say the exact things that need to be said…

And there’s the other version…

Where you mumble something and run away in the other direction.

Ah.

Thinking further about it now, I think I can probably guess which one I did.

You too, huh?

So, we’re not so different after all, are we?

How do you humans get around this? I’d love to know.

I’m just going to go and hide in a corner now. You know where to send the answers. Good day.

Part 3 – Dumb and Dumber, Twit and Twitter

And no, I’m not referring to the wonderful gold nugget of Number Fiveness that I was talking about last time. That would just be rude, however funny I think it is. I just wanted a different title to this third and final part. I thought if I used the previous ‘5 People…’ title and simply added ‘part 3’ to it, there’s a danger some people (not you!) might think it’s just the same post again.

In fact, before I get to number five, I want to share a story with you that happened to a friend of mine.

Yes, I do have friends. Like I said previously, although my social skills aren’t amazing, I do have some!

Actually it was the suggestion of one of those friends that I’m using this title.

But let’s call this one…

Trolls: trip trap, trip trap…

My friend left a comment on a bird-influenced network. Out of the blue, she gets a vitriolic attack (from someone who doesn’t even follow her!) telling how she didn’t know anything because she’s female and that her place is in the… well, the food prep room of a house…

My first thought was… Flipping heck! How long were you talking to this… person?!

Cue her trying to defend herself aka throwing fuel on the fire. She was convinced that possibly his knowledge of one half of the human race may be limited to (oh, there’s so many things I could say) the animated variety.  She tried to placate him. He came right back at her with even more insults. I’m sure she’s not the only one.

I bet this has happened to you too?

Like I said, I think his experience of women may be a tad limited. Even with comebacks from others, he may not even have been burned at all – trolls just spew whatever vitriol will guarantee them the biggest reaction. They cold read. They just take the category and an adjective and flip the adjective. For instance, you’re an intelligent woman. So categorywomen. Adjectiveintelligent. Flip it and reverse – all women are stupid.

So… here’s an analogy and a possible way around it…

(All of the below is not my opinion on anything!)

Say he finds a discussion where a man is talking about cars. The man says how the Brandname Whatsacar is the most practical, smart-looking, easy to run car he’s come across…

Here’s the troll’s take…

“That’s the most stupid car ever.  You’re stupid if you think that. It’s totally useless. It’s ugly (add a ‘like you, mate’ if you’re feeling bored). It’s well known for having problems with its wondoozle. (because troll wants to show off knowledge he doesn’t have) And if you don’t know what a wondoozle is, you clearly know nothing about cars. Or anything (question the self-worth of the opponent and hope that they don’t actually know something about the topic). So you should shut up.”

(Ouch. Not nice.)

Continue by reinforcing your power by throwing in loads of made-up statistics.

Is your assumed authority being questioned? Confuse your opponent by throwing in loads of made up statistics. It’s 1 in the morning, who’s going to check? 95% hate that car. Which leaves only 13% who would ever buy it.

This is a tried and tested formula! Hahaha!

Does he get his jollies?

Oh yeah! He’s following the formula. Calling you stupid was simply to egg you on!

You apologise, and he flips that too!

(Because, yes, it clearly is about one person’s experience – the person at the centre of the universe – HIM! Hahaha!)

So all women are idiots, eh? Like “wow! So you’ve met every woman in the world? I’m impressed. I’ve only come across a few thousand myself. Your travel expenses must be extortionate. As for me,  I’m planning a trip to the Trobriand Islands next month to prove all men leave the toilet seat up but I’m afraid I’ve still got a lot of the world to work my way through yet. You must let me know what strategies you have…”

Here’s a dare – next time you come across a troll, try watching him to see if he’s using the formula – it will make them very predictable and you can really have some fun with that!

Chances are people like that don’t believe half of what they post. They’re simply saying whatever will get a rise out of you. One thing they can’t stand is not having attention.

I’ve made a troll give up before now. That was also very satisfying. Yeah, I tried not answering one once, but he just kept posting things like ‘why aren’t you answering me?’ And ‘are u so stupid u cant think of anything 2 say?’. Actually, I think he was the one I put off in the end. He backed right off and left me alone. He just gave up.

Or it might have been the one that kept insulting me so I kept replying with lols and how I thought what he was saying was hilarious. He got cheesed off pretty quickly too…

One thing to do is just to type in “Searching for IP address”

Then

“IP address acquired”

And then (if they’re whatever enough to put their location on their profile)…

“IP address located in….”

I’ve never done this! But I’ve heard a few people saying stuff like that works for them – just don’t use it with trolls that appear to be tech savvy.

And even if you said ‘Hey, I think you’re an amazingly cool person’, I guarantee Troll would come back at you with some vitriolic nonsense.

And there’s always those people that follow you to get a followback, and as soon as you do follow them back, they unfollow you, making their numbers look better, Don’t let that get you down – it says more about them than it does about you. You’re obviously a genuine type – hence why you’re still reading!

Which brings us to number 5...

FANFARE, PLEASE!

The Real McCoy

That’s you, that is.

These are the people who are genuine. who follow and stay following. They don’t care about the numbers. Or if they do, they don’t use you as a pawn in their numerical manipulations. They react (politely) to what you post. They don’t mind if you reciprocate. They don’t mind if you don’t. They don’t play games. They are friendly. And all of that…

Thank you!

And now… It’s that time of the year.

Got my summer survival kit at the ready.

Time for me to disappear for a little while.

See you in September!

Part 2 – The 5 people who un/follow you on Social Media

Right, so last time I was ranting on about the fickleness of you humans (present company excepted, naturally!), and how it seems to be magnified exponentially by the use of social media.

Well, even if I didn’t say exactly that, that’s kind of where I was going with it.

Anyway, I’d started talking about the follow-for-follow types…

And isn’t it funny that the people who are quickest to follow/unfollow you are those in your own field? And no, I’m not referring in my own case to other vampires (or an actual field)! I wish I was! It’d be nice to know there are others out there… somewhere… No, I mean, in your field of work… Are they expecting some kind of solidarity? From a total stranger? That sounds harsh, we’re all in it (whatever this ‘it’ is) together. I know that. I have some social awareness!

What I’m referring to are those individuals who seem to think ‘Aha! A fellow blogger/writer/actor/musician etc; I’ll follow them! Surely they’ll reciprocate and help me increase my numbers!’ which is a little bit cheeky, but that’s not the issue. The issue is, they give you a window of about half an hour in which to follow them back before they strop off and take their precious follow with them. Sorry, I exaggerate (I do that – you’re used to it by now). It’s more like 35 minutes, possibly an hour.

Which leads me to…

2. I’m Following EVERYONE!

These seem to range from the ‘I’m a 12-year-old that’s just got an account‘ to the ‘please to follow me, click on link for fun‘ type. They’re like a hailstorm. They come, they annoy the hell out of you, they go. No-one is safe from their scattergun approach to following. And they rarely have a genuine photo. It’s either of someone older (Oi! Kid! Stop twooting and get your homework done!), someone younger, a celebrity or some random foliage plant. Or a very wobbly looking stock photo.

And that brings us to this one…

3. Creepy McCreep-creep

Face of an angel, hashtags of a serial killer. Okay, a bit extreme. But something is telling you that this person just isn’t the fresh-faced ingenue (or animé character) they claim to be in their profile photo. They like your every post (even the angry rants), and they reply to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. within seconds of you posting.

How does someone manage to compose a 300-word reply post in 10 seconds?

These ones probably will never, ever unfollow you. Ever.

Ever.

But after a while, they will go very quiet. Probably they’ve found someone else to repost/like about.

And then of course, there’s…

4. Ooh! A Single Post That I Like

You know how it is… You go out somewhere. You have what turns out to be a life-changing slice of chocolate cake (but aren’t they all life-changers?). You can’t resist sharing a picture of this revelatory piece of confectionery, Then this happens:

@ILoveCake222: Omigosh! someone who shares my passion for Black Forest Gateau *FOLLOW*

@CakesAreLife2301: This person just posted a picture of chocolate cake! Soulmate! *FOLLOW*

@GimmeCakes21: At last! Someone who gets me! I wonder what other cake they like..? *FOLLOW*

You get the idea.

And now, being that this is your own social media account, and you have a brain that you’re rather fond of using, something else catches your eye. Like your friend’s cute kitten that does something adorable (well, adorable for a cat – I’m more of a dog lover myself). You go ‘Awww!’. You take a picture. You post it. Probably with some cute pun like  ‘Friends fur-ever’.

And this happens…

@ILoveCake222@CakesAreLife2301@GimmeCakes21: A CAT?! TRAITOR! This person clearly hates cakes! Oh, what have I been doing, following them?! She tricked me. I feel dirty now. Gah. Cake-hater.

*UNFOLLOW*

*UNFOLLOW*

*UNFOLLOW*

And then…

@ILoveCats68: Aww! Cute picture! Someone else who obviously loves cats as much as I do! *FOLLOW*

And so on.

But occasionally, just occasionally, in amongst the rabid keyboard warriors and clickbait, there’s that little golden nugget that gives you hope for online humanity.

What is it?

I’ll tell you next time. (This post will be too long otherwise).

The answer will amaze you!

*********************************************

Follow me on Twitter @EverydayVampire

You know it makes sense.

And while you’re at it, check out @PictPublishing

www.pictpublishing.com

Re:Fuel

Serious post time.

Bullying.

Harassment.

Call it what you will. It takes many forms. I’ve been reading up on all this a lot recently – surprise, surprise and while there’s a lot of stuff out there on bullying, it’s still mostly school-oriented. I observe it everywhere. I may be a recluse, but I still like to sneak out and people-watch. The problem is, it doesn’t stop when you leave school. There is no age limitation on being a bully. Or on being bullied. There is still very little is about bullying in the workplace or within families – even with recent events. ‘Straightforward’ harassment / abuse, yes, but not much else.

So, what have I gleaned from my research and my own observations? It’s like that story of the three people in the dark room with an elephant… One feels the leg, thinks it’s a tree. One feels the trunk, thinks it’s a snake (he may have been the one who ran screaming to find the light switch), while one feels the tail and thinks it’s a rope.

I’ve realised that all these little snippets of information form a cycle. I suppose it’s also relevant to continued bullying in general. All of these little snippets feel like platitudes until you link them all up…

1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

2) The bully mistakes this for weakness.

3) The bully tries to control you (and hopefully fails).

4) The bully realises they can’t (hopefully).

5) Then follows abuse, lies, misrepresentation, manipulation of how others see you.

6) There’s a break.

7) Reconciliation of some sort.

8/1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

AND OFF WE GO AGAIN

And that’s only if you’re lucky. Sometimes the process ‘succeeds’ (for the bully) at step 3). Usually the target cracks at that step. If they’re lucky /strong / have support, the targeted person may get to step 4). If you don’t have support, then please, please, please find some.

The difference being that hopefully the bullied person learns and either stops the cycle at 6) or changes themselves before they re-enter the fray because, let’s face it, the bully will never learn. They’ve been way too successful for way too long to stop using a winning formula. Plus, if an outsider calls them out on their behaviour, all it takes is a few crocodile tears and they’re safe again.

Sadly, for my own part, I realise that most of the major changes in my life have come about as a result of being bullied… Leaving my home country (twice), becoming a first-time homebuyer, leaving a profession (the same one – twice)…

And why does it keep happening? Because of step 1). Does that mean we take it out of the equation? No. Let’s face it – bullies won’t change. I mean, why would they? They’ve got a winning formula.

So…

You say to yourself…

If the bully/harasser isn’t going to change what they are or what they do, then I’m not going to change what I am (let’s face it, I personally wouldn’t be able to). But I do need to change what I do.

So stop the process at 6). Don’t go to 7). Let them try doing a little of 1) for a change. But it’s quite safe, because we all know they won’t. They won’t ‘lower’ themselves to ‘your level’. They’re too proud / powerful. They have too many people already in their pocket to make it worthwhile. And you can always tell who those people are – they’re the ones who say things like:

“Surely it’s not as bad as that?”

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“Well, you’re not exactly perfect, you know.”

“Ignore them, they’ll soon get bored.”

“Well, I’ve never found X to be like that at all.”

“Some christian you are. Aren’t you supposed to forgive /l ove everyone / turn the other cheek?”

“It takes two to tango.”

But, whatever you do…

DON’T STAY SILENT.

Does it take guts? Undoubtedly.

But is it possible? Heck, yeah.

Confessions of a fur-mama

 

Be warned, there’s something in here that may be genuinely distressing to anyone with even half a heart. Doubly so if you love dogs. But there’s also some funny things too, so, it’s all good. Read on.

So, we’ve had our rescue fur-baby a couple of months now. We’re still trying to untangle that mangled little mess that lives inside her head. We don’t know much about her. We know she’s an older dog. We know someone has been nice to her at some point. We also know that someone (or someones) hasn’t.

How?

Sadly, by her physical scars. And, even more sadly, by the psychological scars that little by little, she’s allowing us to see.

One example.

A training clicker.

The sound terrified her the first (and only) time we tried to use one. We were mystified. My hyper-perceptive vampiric sleuthiness (it’s a thing) was stumped. And then the penny dropped some time later. The sound is identical to a cigarette lighter. Now put that together with some of her smaller scars and…

Well…

If I ever meet the ones who did that to such a gentle, loving animal (or any animal), then my ‘no-biting-humansrule may become more of a guideline.

But in the meantime…

She’s sprawled out on her favourite (for she has many) fleecy throw, snoring and farting away to her little heart’s content. She’s still in that ‘can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real’ phase and gets really panicky if she does something wrong. Our hugs and reassurance still puzzle her.

We are now dealing with some separation anxiety issues. Which, to me, is a good thing. It means that she’s now attached to us. It means she trusts us (as does the sitting on my foot with her back to me). But she’s getting over them. She knows we’re definitely Team Fur-baby now.

We’ve learned this about her:

  • She hates puddles and getting wet
  • She already knows ‘high-five’, ‘shake hands’, ‘roll over’ and – bizarrely- how to cross the road safely (!)
  • She learns very quickly
  • She pulls like a train and loves her rope toys (if you have a dislocated shoulder, she could easily reset it for you. However, if there’s someone you don’t like and wish they had a dislocated shoulder, it wouldn’t work. She’d just call 999/911. She’s about bright enough to.)
  • She can be hyper focused, but also easily distracted (ha! she takes after me!)
  • She’s obsessed with food. Especially chicken (nope. Not me. Well, the chicken part.)
  • Even more than being given food, she loves finding it herself.

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: No! Pleeeeeease! Don’t go!

And then, when faced with a puzzle ball containing treats…

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: (30 minutes later) Nom-nom-nom. Did somebody say something? Nom-nom-nom.

She’s also very communicative. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And doesn’t want!

Do parents of small human children have this problem?

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Okay, let’s get your harness and lead and everything on and you can go out.

DOG: Don’t wanna.

ME: Then you can’t go out for walk.

Five minutes later…

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Then we’re putting your lead and everything on.

DOG: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

ME: You know the rules.

DOG: (grumbling) Pfft. Ohhh, alright then.

Gets harness and everything on (with much muttering on her part).

DOG: Don’t wanna go now. Spoilt my fun.

ME: Oh, we are going now!

10 minutes later…

DOG: Woweeee! This is the best day ever!

And nearly an hour later, after lots of (shall we say) negotiation as to route, we get back. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air. She’s enjoyed the stretching-her-legs.  And the sniffing. There’s always lots of sniffing. Grass verges are like Facebook for dogs. “Hmm. Nice post. Just leaving a comment…” We’ve both enjoyed the exercise. She is nicely worn out.

So what does she do next?

Run around the house like a thing possessed and then charges out like a mad fool into the garden.

Surely she can’t still have some reserves of energy in that little furry body? Have I not walked her enough?

Nope.

She is simply running out to survey her kingdom. For she is… Wonder Pooch! There she stands: ears up, tail up, right paw up, in full-on protection / surveillance mode. Have there been any threats to the kingdom in her absence? Any pretenders to her throne? Any evil crows, seagulls or (heaven forbid!) cats with a wicked design to overthrow her benevolent rule? Are there any individuals (regardless of number of legs) who have dared trespass upon her property to upset those under her kindly protection?

Nope.

Okay, all good.

And she trots back into the house again.

She plonks herself in front of the fire and gets back to one of her favourite jobs – destroying her rope toy.

All’s well with the world. I have protected you another day, my beloved hoomans. Chomp chomp chomp.

CDO – as it should be

Did I ever mention the OCD?

I’m not sure I did.

Vampires have it. Big time.

The thing is, nobody’s ever called it that before. Yes, we have our issues, just like you. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder just happens to be one of them.

Disorder?!

Why call it disorder?

What an irony.

Disorder is the one thing we can’t stand. I mean, I say ‘we’ – once again I’m probably speaking for myself here. As ever, if there’s a fellow vampire out there that wants to contradict me, go ahead, make my day.

Honestly.

It really would make my day. Sometimes being a vampire is like being a traffic warden.

Very isolating.

And just about as popular with the public at large (unless you count the airy-fairy ones you get in teen romances).

But at least we don’t have that “Come and egg me” uniform to contend with.

Where was I?

Yes.

OCD.

There’s a myth that the way to prevent a vampire from returning to its coffin it to scatter seeds everywhere. The vampire must stop and count each and every one before returning to the coffin, by which time, the sun comes up and – boof – it’s not the seeds you have to worry about, it’s the large vampire-shaped pile of dust you have to deal with.

Well, first of all…

  1. Coffins. Nuh-uh. I mean, Why? So restrictive.
  2. Sunlight. Painful, yes. Damaging, yes. But hoover-bothering pile dust-hill? I think not.
  3. Counting…

Ah, well. Ever eaten biscuits in bed? Could you sleep until you’ve extricated every. single. last. crumb from the sheets? No.

Same here. It plays out like this…

Mythical vampire: Ah! Some human has scattered seeds to prevent me from returning to my resting place. I must count them! One mustard seed, two mustard seed, three mustard seed, mwa-ha-ha…

Real vampireSeriously?! I just hoovered, like twenty minutes ago! And now I have to do it all over again!

It’s not so much the seeds that bother me. Just little things out of place or not they should be…

  • Phone receivers not put back quite right on the cradle
  • Toilet seats left up (but that could also be a female thing)
  • Items not tidy on a supermarket shelf (the amount of times shoppers have mistaken me for an employee and asked me where the beans are – why is it always beans?!)
  • Picture frames not quite straight on a wall
  • Stamps not squarely stuck on an envelope
  • Wallpaper patterns that aren’t perfectly matched up
  • Undone shoelaces

Oh, I’ve lost count of times I’ve walked past people and muttered ‘Shoelaces‘ at them! DO THEM UP!!!

And quit with the ‘jaunty’ angles! Put things straight! Has nobody ever heard of a – oh, what’s that thing you call with the bubble in it that helps you get a straight line? – Spirit Level! That’s it.

And if I can’t remember it, I can imagine that might be the issue with everyone else too. My mistake.

And now I have to go. Literally. I can see out of the corner of my eye that my clock isn’t hanging straight. When the ‘big hand’ says ‘o’clock’, it actually looks like 1 minute past… Gahhh!

Fetch me a ladder!

See you soon.