Tee's Blog

The Adventures of an American in Belfast

The Winter of My Disconnect…(Too good to pass up. Sorry. Not sorry.)

About two months ago I suddenly realized I had no idea what I’d been doing all winter. I mean, my son was alive and happy, my husband likewise, and there were a few knitting bits around. But I remembered very little of it. I had been black in the Land Of The Black Dog and didn’t even realize it.

It had, indeed, been the winter of my disconnect. I can remember days, weeks even, of seeming to be looking out of my own eyes. Of being someone else inside me, watching me go through my life.

When I finally ‘confessed’ to Simon, he said he knew something was wrong. That I had spent whole weekends in bed, asleep. He didn’t say anything because he knows me and knows I would deny it, even bury it, until I was ready to say ‘It’s bad again.’

So I saw a GP at our practice and we switched me to a new medicine that worked for a bit. And then didn’t. And then I saw another GP and actually had an anxiety attack right in front of him and he switched me again. This time to Venlafaxine. Which has not only helped my anxiety, it’s helped my fibro.

To the point that I am nearly pain free. I am still tired a lot and my brain is constantly leaking out of my ears, but I can deal with that so long as I’m not in pain!

I mean, I still have pain. I’m not cured or anything. But I am so much better.

So…what have I been doing?




Yup, I launched my shop. And immediately had two custom orders with a third happening soon.

I also sold one item from the shop directly.

I’ve also been doing this:

First bobbin! #sewing

A photo posted by Robyn Fraser (@tee2072) on

Yes. That’s a sewing machine. I’ve got the two Great British Sewing Bee books and I’ve started sewing from a pattern. My first shirt is nearly done and I am so chuffed with myself!

So I am feeling more connected to my life and my husband and my son and my craft. I’m imagining studio space through out my house as the dining room table is a bit inconvenient.

And, as the icing on the cake? In one week from tomorrow? I’ll be in Berkeley loving on my first two babies.

I may acknowledge their parents and my parents as well. 😀

Creating Community

As I’ve pulled myself out of my winter of illness (and discontent) (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) I’ve taken a deep breathe and looked around at my life.

And discovered that I suddenly have several groups of really good women friends.

Some of them are actually local to me, such as Adam’s friend’s mums. As was remarked upon at Sports Day last week, it really is awesome the way we all clicked at the pre-school gate. We’ve been hanging, helping, drinking, coffeeing and cheering each other and our kids on ever since.

Then there are two of my ‘left-over from Mumsnet’ local friends. One is also a client and great at giving me advice about what to wear, since she’s a fashion blogger. The other is my craft enabler who took me to buy my sewing machine a few weeks ago.

Then I have my online communities.

There is, forever and always, the hussies. We don’t talk as often as we used to, but we are still connected in various ways. And we all know if we vaugebook something? The rest will coming running to find out if we’re okay.

Then there’s a newer group, also acquired through Mumsnet, who are on a Facebook group now. We don’t talk all the time, but we are there for each other.

There’s the new group, as part of Jump! Parents. We are creating a lovely Facebook community of parents there as well. And I’m writing for the site, just as I’ve written for Jump! Mag. We have good discussions about parenting. And Ikea. And sometimes other stuff.

Finally there’s my best online friends, of which there is a group of four of us. We met on Mumsnet, carried on over at Twitter and Facebook. They are really the ones I wish lived down the street. That would be hard, as one of them lives in Greece, but we are talking about creating a commune at some point. 😀

Borrowed from http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-beach-homes-blue-sky-background-image614913

Our future homes. Really.

And altogether, they make my community. Maybe I can’t ring most of them for a cup of sugar or a quick coffee meet or child pick up. But I know I can rely on them to be an ear and a cheer on the other end of the ‘net.

And sometimes? That’s really all I need.

So Much For A Blog A Week!

I have spent much of this past winter hibernating and feeling crap. I may write about it later, but that’s not what has brought me back.

What has brought me back is MacMillan’s Brave The Shave campaign and their horrible response to objections to the campaign.

It is a campaign asking people to donate money to other people who shave their heads in supposed solidarity with people losing their hair to chemo.

Let me state, for the record, that one of my oldest friends in the U.S. does this every year for St Baldrick’s. The issue I have is not the shaving.

The issue I have is the encouraging of happy smiling pictures of people shaving their heads shared all over social media. Have a think for a minute; imagine you have lost your hair to chemo or love someone who did. Maybe that person also lost their life to cancer.

Do you want to see picture after picture of happy smiling shaven head people on your Facebook feed? When you or your loved one cried their eyes out as they lost their hair? And when you cried yours out again when cancer took them from you?

Shaving your head in supposed solidarity to those who have lost it due to illness should not be entertaining.

I posted on their Facebook page telling them why I think this is a terrible idea. Their response? Pretty much pat me on the head and send me on my way.

And if you read down the page? You’ll see the same sort of response to people with and without cancer who feel as I do.

Macmillan claim to be about making lives easier when you have cancer.

Well, they aren’t. They are making it so very much harder.

I think I’ve said it before

But I’ll say it again;

Constant pain can be gotten used to. Even expected and treated like a friend. An annoying friend, but something that is always there.

Sudden unexpected pain cannot. But it usually passes quickly.

However, sudden unexpected recurring pain can never be gotten used to, nor does it pass quickly.

All day today I have had sudden unexpected recurring pain in my upper left arm. Just sitting, not moving that arm, just surfing the web and BAM pain.

Just for a second. But sharp. Like someone stuck me with something sharp.

And then it’s gone.

And then it’s back.

And then it’s gone.

And then…

And it’s exhausting. It’s mind blurring. It’s debilitating. It’s distracting.

It’s why I wanted to clean my whole downstairs today but only managed to do the dining room a bit of the kitchen.

It’s why I want to pitch to clients and/or join a freelancers site but don’t because I don’t feel I can commit to deadlines.

It’s why my son watches so much TV in the afternoon.

I just want to be a normal, healthy 46 year old.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Adam is…

Five, nearly six
50 pounds
Nearly four feet tall

And as of today

Officially Autistic.

It’s nice to have it official.

It’s nice to be able to say “Adam is autistic” rather then “Adam has as yet undiagnosed SEN”.

I used to think ASD was a terrifying thing. That it meant the person was broken, unfixable.

Now I know there is nothing to fix. Just a brain that is wired differently.

He’s in good company. Many people who have accomplished many amazing things are on the spectrum or suspected to be so.

I am sure whatever he becomes, he will be amazing too.

And, yes, you read that right.

He’s 46.8 inches as of a few months ago.

Or the average size of a 7 year old.

My good, big boy, as always.

So, Yesterday…

Was my 46th birthday.

I’ve been struggling quite a lot with this birthday and I’m not really sure why.

I mean, I know part of it is that I’m now officially closer to 50 than 40 and 50 seems huge.

40 wasn’t huge because I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time with the baby that would become my wonderful little boy. So I was huge, but the birthday wasn’t. 😀

me and adam today and yesterday

Adam when he was the baby on the interior and yesterday when he was the boy waiting for the school bus.


I am, for the most part, happy and content with my life. I have a husband and son whom I love. I have more creative energy than I’ve had at any point in my history. And I enjoy what I do every day.

Yes, I’m sore. A lot. My arms ache and my legs ache and I’m tired a lot of the time. Such is life with Fibromayalgia, after all.

But I’ve been spending the time leading up to yesterday trying to figure out why it seems so huge and reflecting on my life.

And I recognize that I am not where I thought I’d be by this time in my life. I thought I’d be a published writer (well, I am, but only on the ‘net) and/or a professional theatre designer or at least fairly high up in the career that I started on at Kaiser about 20 years ago.

All of which was derailed, very firmly, by my first psychotic break at 25.

But I am, as I said, happy and content.

So why is 46 so hard?

It’s not the signs of ageing. I know I don’t look 46, for one thing. And I don’t really mind the signs that do show my age; my grey hair, my laugh and frown lines and the fact that I seem to be getting my mother’s hands, but without her lovely long thin fingers. 😀

So…why is 46 so hard?!

I have no idea…


I just realized

That the reason I can’t relate to most designers and design blogs is because their bios start something like “Graduated LI School of Design, 2008.”

That’s a design person who is so much younger than me, having graduated from UofI in 1995 (or 94, I can never remember), that we barely speak the same language.

That’s a design person who might just look at me funny when I do some quick thumbnails, by hand (yes, even with my arthritic fingers, sometimes you just have to put pencil to paper), before sitting down at my computer for research and beginning layout.

This is most definitely a person who has never done all of their research in a library without an electronic card catalogue and from books and magazines.

Some of their ideas are revolutionary, true. And I can admire their work and I often share their work.

But I don’t think we could ever go have a drink and a conversation about design or much else.

It’s official.

Credit: School Cipart

Credit: School Cipart



I want the young whipper-snappers off my lawn!

Plus la change…

This week on Agent Carter, set in 1946, Agent Peggy Carter used the excuse “girl things” with the men in her office to get a day off so she could go do agent stuff.

Today I added “girl things” to our Tesco order that I forgot to get when I was in town earlier, rather than send my husband and son to get them for me tomorrow. Not that they wouldn’t, but I’ve taken Adam with me before and it was less than fun. He’s a very curious boy, after all.

As I’ve said before; nothing really changes.

And that’s rather sad.


Edit, 10/1/15 – I just realized, re-reading this, that if things are to change, we need to change them. Next time I will send Adam and Simon to buy them. And answer any questions Adam has about it. Which I have done before, actually. As I always answer any and all questions from the floor.

So today

In England:

A convicted rapist gets a multi-million pound contract, mostly paid for by his future father in law who apparently has no issue with his daughter marrying a convicted rapist. Did I mention he’s a convicted rapist?

In Paris:

A group of men mowed down members of a satirical magazine in Paris. Last time I checked, it was 12 dead, at least 20 injured. Gunmen still at large.

In the US:

The NAACP may or may not have been part of a terrorist attack. But everyone is claiming there’s no coverage because it involves whatever the PC term is for black people today. It was People of Colour, but I was told that was offensive. Okay. Anyway, the coverage I’ve seen (AP wire on The New York Times site) says they have no idea if it was a terrorist attack at all. And it didn’t do much damage and no one was hurt. There’s enough target racist stuff that happens every day. Can we not get up in arms in something that isn’t?

And that’s the world today.

Sucks, don’t it?



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