Me and the Alp.

Was just reading about Geraint Thomas winning on Alpe D’Heuz today in the Tour De France.

In 1997, I took a fortnight’s leave from my work. I was 24 and sorted myself a flight to Paris and with a euro domino ticket literally headed south on the TGV to Lyon and then Grenoble.

I figured with European timetable books and maps that I could see the Stages at St Etienne and the Alp.

I call it, ‘the Alp’ as that’s what it’s known as in Cyclesport.

Most races go up from Le-Bourg-d’Oisans at the door of the hill. It’s literally a vertical kilometre from the valley floor with 21 hairpin bends to allow the road to climb up the Alp.

It’s known as the ‘Dutch Mountain’ as cycling fans from the Netherlands go crazy for it and as luck had it, I got a lift to the foot of the hill from some Dutch guys that I stayed with in the youth hostel with.

I think there was six of us in that small car. Not quite sure how we all got in as there was a fair bit of beer in the boot too.

I wanted to experience the hill by walking up the road.

It took me well over three hours and at the narrow roadside were cars and camper vans and at each U bend of the road leading upward were groups of fans with Flags, Banners and the names of their favourites painted or chalked on the road. French, Belgians, Italians, but mainly the orange of Holland.

I was offered a can of beer at every turn. After 4 or 5 hairpins. I wondered what I had let myself in for. It was steep on foot. A Well built but narrow mountain road with retaining walls at the sides.

Eventually, sweating and tired. I made it to the top. Thanks to generosity of strangers, my day pack had a mix of bottled and canned lagers. Without intending it, I had a ‘cargo’ like many of the hardcore fans.

I rested and watched the race on the big screen at the top of the hill. France Television had a unit there and there was the usual final kilometre decoration of barriers and banners on the way to the stage finish.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I saw a remarkable win by ‘ Il Pirata’ – Marco Pantani, an Italian climber that had a reputation for bravely attacking in the mountains.

He rode alone the last ten kilometres after ditching the race leader on route. A special bit of cycling.

Sadly Pantani died in 2004 aged 34. He was a small guy with a shaved head and a patterned neckerchief around his head. He went and attacked himself and was a phenomenon in the late nineties as stage winner and also a race winner in the major tours.

Whoever wins on the hill, it’s the Alp. It’s a incredible sight as a place in itself .

What should be a ski station in high summer becomes a busy place with thousands of cycling fans there to witness one of the greatest tests in the Tour. It’s the tarmac, the walls, the hairpin corners and that gradient.

I’ll go there again one day. I hope.

As a postscript, I had a disposable camera type thing with me that day. I did take a few snaps that day, but have no idea whatever happened to the pictures. I recall the blueness of the sky and freshness of the air the most.

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Monday Again.

Today’s not a good day. I’m down and feel tired. I did sleep but don’t feel fresh at all.

I’ve tried to figure the concept of ‘spoons’ of energy and I want to say nil, but I’ve a day of work to get through and get through that I will.

Mentally, I’m broken, or think I am.

There’s purpose in work and a desire to see the kids.

Outside that, food and surviving into the next day.

Autism related? A slump in mental health and a slide in mood is more likely to be the thing.

I keep going with TV and reading and twitter. I’ve no desire to go back out once I’m in of an evening. No feeling that I need do something.

I have early nights where I struggle to settle and late ones where it’s as bad.

I feel fat, I’m not happy with my appearance. Trying to eat smarter/healthier but I can’t always. Trying to lay off coffee, but times again that it’s needed to function.

Finding ‘people’ hard at the moment, trying not to say things in my head and consider what I say and do. But I think I always let myself down somehow. That’s the autistic side too.

My attempts to get help failed, as I’ve written about before.

I need another round of medications and will sort that out.

I’ve had my washing machine break and I’ve had a few issues around that both financially and otherwise.

I needed time yesterday to do tidying as that was my ‘plan’ – I got home at twenty to nine, ate, slopped onto sofa and watched two programmes before bed.

Circumstances. Nothing of my making or doing. But so much for having a ‘nice’ Father’s Day.

So I’m low today and not feeling it, not knowing what to do.

I could use something. A break, something positive for once. I can take solace in the cards and love from the kids. I can find other distraction.

Written on hoof and can edit later.

Triggered (Aspergers)

I had a panic attack yesterday. I had used an in-store toilet in a supermarket and kids had shouted in and then turned the lights off.

I was trapped in the dark, I shouted repeatedly and after a few minutes the lights went back on.

Maybe it was teens pranking a friend, but it triggered a panic attack for me.

My breathing went, my head got sore. I was confused and frightened.

I could only make it to the customer service desk to say what happened and I then had to go outside and go sit at the bus stop.

I couldn’t face going to look for things. I had in my head going back into town by bus and then getting what I needed at the train station in Glasgow (another 40 minute trip).

A couple of minutes. A ‘harmless prank’. I was all over the place.

I wanted to scream, I was physically shaking. I was out of my usual.

I had walked earlier to the hospital to see a relative, but I’d mistimed it and ended up sitting in the corridor to wait on the food trays coming out. I handled that okay.

I was patient and quiet and tried distracting myself. I had looked at bus times on my way in thinking I could go and get things I needed later. My head was stressed with the timings but I tried to manage it by thinking that it was okay to wait and I didn’t want to disturb anyone.

I then walked to the big store. I needed things. There wasn’t a direct bus, I checked and it was dry, I knew I could get back by bus, so not a massive issue. Fresh air and a wander about.

Then I realised I needed the toilet, I suffered the inevitable hand dryer noise and then doors banging closed and open and again. A shout of a name and the lights going out.

I panicked and shouted ‘turn the lights on’, it was minutes in the dark. Pitch pitch black. I couldn’t see. I was stuck. I froze and didn’t know what I was doing.

I tried to say what happened when I got out using my ASD awareness card.

It took a long wait outside in the fresh air and the prospect of a long pointless trip by bus and train to make me go back in.

The lights. The noise. So many people. Having to think where things were and going an item at a time. Head full and sore. Needing earplugs and to cancel out the noise.

Getting further. Stopping. Starting.

Feeling stupid and lethargic. Glacial pace of thinking. Anger about the kids and the thought of being derailed from what I had planned to do.

Conscious of my breathing and shaking, trying to steer away and around people.

Item, think, Item, think.

Made it around. Sat down after paying to fix my bag and calm myself.

Days aren’t always straightforward and you can’t foresee triggers or stresses or panic situations.

I can write it after the event, the racing feel in chest, the tightness in head and the whirl of thoughts make ‘at the time’, so difficult.

My speculations on ‘The Last Jedi’

I wasn’t a big Star Wars fan as a kid, I only saw the original trilogy properly as an adult in the nineties with the remastered films when they came out.

But as my kids have grown, I’ve seen the prequel trilogy and The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The kids like Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars too.

So, before there’s too many spoilers after the Premiere in Los Angeles yesterday, I have questions…

Who is Rey?

We know she’s a force wielder, we saw that in The Force Awakens. So, she’s gotta be related to a Jedi.

Her story starts on Jakku, a desert world. Like Tatooine, parallels to Skywalker, Luke and Anakin, but, we know there’s a descendant of Anakin with The Force in Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, so can she be Luke’s daughter or a previously unknown child of Leia and Han?

We might be led down that path, but we know Rey waited for someone to return and Maz Kanata had that awkward chat with her about knowing they wouldn’t return. So, we can speculate that it’s not Luke or Leia.

But she’s a Jedi?

So who else can she be related to? Obi Wan Kenobi?

That assumes an affair before the events of A New Hope and around the clone wars period, and there’s the fondness of Obi Wan Kenobi with Dutchess Satine Kryse of the Mandalorians and that could make Korkie Kryse (Satine’s er.. Nephew..) a possibility as Rey’s father. It’s a stretch but The Clone Wars is official Canon, so there’s that.

Other Jedi possibilities are Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridget from Rebels. Kanan is close to his Hera Syndulla and is closer in age to Obi Wan and Anakin rather than Luke and with Rebels season four as yet unfinished, we don’t know his fate before the events of A New Hope or whether Kanan was about at the time of films 4,5,6 in the ‘original’ middle trilogy. Ezra would be very roughly a similar age to Luke, but again, we don’t know his fate.

Other speculation in-Canon involves Doctor Aphra from the comic book series, her age could fit as mother to Rey, but who’d be the father? I’m not fond of the theory that Rey is daughter of characters from the Star Wars Battlefront II video game either.

It is wide open, and we can throw in random answers such as, are there midi-cholrians on the loose to just make Rey a Force wielder? Is she a product of Emperor Palpatine? Is she something to do with Snoke?

I like the Obi Wan theories best, but we’ll see.

There’s a great theory out there on her name too.

Finn?

The question is whether Finn is related to other characters. Mace Windu would make a fantastic Jedi connection, but if Rey is related, then Finn being too is stretching it. The speculation on Lando Calrissian is splendid too. I liked Finn with the light sabre though and I guess we’ll see if there’s anything beyond the first order plucking out infants at birth.

Snoke?

I’ve seen the Kanan Jarrus is Snoke theory and I don’t much like it. Kanan is many things in Star Wars Rebels, but I don’t see him turning to the dark side and I don’t see him going as far as leading a faction of the former empire and creating the first order. It is still possible that Kanan and Ezra (also mentioned as a Snoke possibility) might not survive the end of Star Wars Rebels.

My take is that Snoke is something but not necessarily related to other characters. Quite what I don’t know, but as a being he seems different to the Emperor and Vader and exists differently to them and the empire.

The Last Jedi?

Who? Is it plural?

After Order 66 and the great Jedi purge, we know that at the start of A New Hope, that there weren’t many left, save Obi Wan and Yoda in hiding. The story of Kanan and Ezra in Rebels predates that time and we don’t know their fate, similarly Asohka Tano is presumed dead.

Luke therefore is that Last Jedi, he was trained by Yoda, he is a Jedi Knight. We can fairly say that he trained Kylo Ren, but Kylo rejected his teaching. Rey isn’t a Jedi and Force Wielder isn’t quite the same. They are close to being Jedi but not yet.

If we look beyond them there’s Kanan who was a Padawan and might be a Jedi Knight after the events at the temple on Lothal and has certainly fought and survived Maul and Vader. Ezra is probably a Padawan in very rough terms under Kanan’s tutelage. Asokha is certainly a Padawan that rejected the Jedi Order, but didn’t return. All have been involved against the empire as part of the earlier stages of the rebel alliance.

We do not know if Luke sought out Jedi survivors after the events of Return of the Jedi, even assuming there were a very few left. How Luke framed his new Jedi academy or found Force sensitive trainees is unknown. It leads to a guess that Luke travelled to seek out Jedi or those with Force Powers after the empire fell.

So, there’s not hidden Jedi out there, Luke is probably the Last assuming no link to the Rebels characters.

Where can we go after The Force Awakens?

Well, the First Order and new Rebellion need to face off after the destruction of the Starkiller weapon and the new republic planets.

Rey and Luke. Pupil and Master? Luke returning to Leia and the rebel side? Can it be that simple if Snoke can manipulate Kylo Ren, then are further complications afoot?

We have Poe Dameron and Finn and others. Can there be links and connections to other series in a multiverse way? It’s a question of how the LucasFilm Story Group in charge of the canon and how the film ties into the greater saga and all of its parts.

Early comments sound promising, but can this second film in the sequel trilogy match into the lore, will it be the new ’empire strikes back’ in terms of story and content?

No Help.

There’s no help.

I can’t email anyone for help when stressed or in pain.

I tried today as I was worried about things and upset.

The council’s social work adult team contacted the police and the very person I didn’t want them to contact.

No HELP and three phone calls to the POLICE which is very stressful. 

The threat of officers to my door or to break in.

ALL as council adult social work are incompetent. I was asked stupid questions on my address and date of birth rather than asked what was wrong. I had said I have Aspergers and am rubbish on the phone.

Then they gave me a VERBAL NIGHTMARE. Exactly the last thing I wanted or needed.

Also contacting a person I didn’t want contacted.

STRESS INCREASED as that individual won’t leave it be. I didn’t want that person knowing I wanted help.

ANGRY. UPSET. ANNOYED.

But hey ho, I still won’t phone your fucking helpline and you won’t fucking answer my emails. 

So, no help and another thing I can’t trust. 

Nothing to Say?

I’m unsure that I’ve had literally or actually nothing to write about recently, it’s more like I haven’t wanted to. 

I’ve been in the routine in terms of work and the kids. I’ve not really stopped for thought. 

To an extent, I’ve tried to fill my head with other things and have been consuming twitter and Television of an evening.

I’ve been trying to drink healthier stuff, been trying to not take as much coffee.

I don’t know much else that I can say. I’m dealing with the sensory stuff too as best I can.

 I’ve given up on the ‘blues’, my blue lensed glasses as an answer. I need them on occasion, but I’m trying to limit their use. In some places, no glasses or unfocused vision blurs the effect of lighting.

I’ve had a few things that upset me, I can’t be specific. I don’t want to be obsessive over detail.

As usual, I’m not much further forward with things or generally any happier.

I know moods can fluctuate and keeping a pattern and a regular way of doing things in an ordered way can help. 

Chaos and unexpected things do throw me and I’ve suffered a little as  events unfold.

I’ve been trying to eat better and think around food a little more after my trials and tribulations with trousers recently. I’ve maybe lost some weight.

I feel I’ve slept a bit better recently but with some bad nights here and there.

I’ve stuck to keeping away from disability and the two big ‘A’ words. 

I’ve been thinking on Anxiety and Depression as the key factors that weigh on me and trying little things here and there. 

I recognise when I’m less functional and the way the unknown and unexpected hit me.

Sometimes it’s force myself to get through things and other times not so much. Good days are few, but can and do happen.

I think the pattern of functioning days is ok, not good or great. It’s mainly ‘enough’.

I’d probably benefit from some ‘help’, talking through the anxiety and getting the depression lifted a bit. 

CBT won’t work as the first step is ‘talk to friends’, I don’t have anyone I feel that I could do that with.

I don’t want to use my work health helplines as they will report back or ask my work HR.

I don’t know on understand the function of the Autism Resource Centre in Glasgow and I’m not much minded to go near NAS after the time I’ve wasted talking to them.

I could ring a crisis line, I could do the late night mental health helplines although I don’t think that’s me using them for the right purposes.

I feel pushed on Money all the time, I can’t buy things that help. 

My gas and electric near doubled the other month and I can’t phone for help on things like that without having a meltdown, the stress of phoning to get someone that isn’t an English speaker is too much.

Christmas stresses the hell out of me and I really get upset at the money side of it.

I get thinking that I’m lonely, then I realise the circle I’m in. 

I usually want to be left alone, I try a bit and do what I can, I get rejected/don’t fit with people, I then get frustrated and my behaviours put people off me. 

No friends/ family means I’ll probably never date/go out with a woman in my life again.

I’m likely to be alone and single the rest of my life. I don’t like that idea, but for someone to ‘get me’ understand is unlikely.

I’m now 44. It’s called involuntary celibacy and anything that I’ve seen online about it scares the hell out of me and I find that’s a situation I really don’t want to be in. 

But I’ll need to face it, as I can’t give back the interaction that someone might expect. 

I’ve read the things on the Jo Cox commission on lonlieness and the statistics, particularly on life expectancy and along with the autism/aspergers life expectancy stuff, I’m highly susceptible to these issues. 

Not much I can do. I might be smart enough to realise the trouble in front of me, but I don’t have the abilities to improve things and that depression and anxiety mean my limited skills aren’t at their best in terms of communications.

It’s nothing and everything in summary, not much has changed, nothing is really any better. I guess I can drift along so long and then something goes wrong in terms of demands and mood.

In short, some help would be nice but the way people with my condition are treated means it’s unlikely and I’ll just have to struggle on.

Since my first draft of this, things are even worse. I’m now very very stressed and upset, I’m really feeling in a quandary about using Mental Health resources but there’s no other help available. 

My experience with PIP has me reluctant to contact my GP.  There’s no local help I can see that will help me either. 

I don’t want to have another breakdown but it might be only way to have any help or be given ongoing support. It’s a grim thought and I really just want help in staying as I am rather than going into a real crisis situation.

A life. (Ruined) 

Used to enjoy life a little.

Used to be able to afford things.

Used to go to football matches.

Used to drink sometimes.

Used to have friends.

Used to have a balance between work and home.

Used to not fret over money.

Used not to be in substantial debt.

Used to afford clothes for myself.

Used to afford to run a car.

Used to have a semblance of a life.

Not for a long time.