The Adventures

The Adventures

of Bernard and Wilomena

Growing Pains

Growing Pains

Being Different

Speeches

Speeches

What I should have said

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Hello! Welcome to my blog spot. Whether you read any of my posts or you’re just passing by, thanks for dropping in. If you’re sticking around for a while let me explain a little bit about what I’m trying to do…

My blog posts are not in any kind of order. Life is unpredictable so I’ll just be posting things as I write them and also dipping into the notebooks I’ve kept over the years. Everything I write is the truth and will be either a past experience, an ongoing predicament or maybe something you can relate to. All names (where needed) will be changed. So here is my truth…I have Bipolar Disorder (let’s call it Bernard) and I have a Stoma (Wilomena). For me personally, one is an unfortunate blessing and one is a curse but I make the best of a bad situation; I live with both on a daily basis and the problems they both bring with them. Contrary to popular belief, I am not defined by either condition.

I am defined by the actions I take

Today’s blog is not about having a mental illness or about public speaking off the back of it.  This blog is about the little bits and pieces that make me Kat, the things that I hope people like about me and I like to think when they laugh at those things, they are laughing with me, not at me; so if you are laughing at me, go away.  This is not for you and I’m not being rude but I don’t want you here.  Sorry, not sorry.

When I was a kid I watched the film “Babe”, it was about a piglet who became a sheep dog(pig) and after seeing this all I wanted was a pet piglet.  Unfortunately, with a dog and cat already being in the household it was a profound “no” when I asked my parents if I could have one.  So instead of an actual pig, my family bought me endless pig related items, pencils, pencil cases, pig ornaments, notebooks, mugs and anything Disney that had Piglet plastered all over it.  This went on for quite some time until the obsession faded and something else took its place.

In 1993 the film “Cool Runnings” hit the big screen and I remember sitting in the cinema with my sweets from the corner shop because even in the 90’s you had to have a money tree growing in your back yard if you wanted to eat at the cinema.

I don’t know what it was about that film but the whole thing just filled me with joy.  Yes it was a film about a Jamaican Bobsled team and it was hard to relate to the specifics but, I saw something deeper.  To me it was a film about being different and tackling discrimination.  It was about hope and ambition and never giving up.  More than anything though, it was about believing in luck, so when Sanka pulled out his lucky egg my first thought was…

“I gotta get me a lucky egg!”

I asked mum to make me a hardboiled egg and I painted it with felt tip pens and I took that egg everywhere I went because I truly believed that if kissing an egg could bring Sanka good luck, then it would do the same for me. 

But one day it accidentally fell out of my pocket and I couldn’t find it anywhere.  Not only was I devastated that I’d lost my lucky egg but a few days later when I opened the door of my mum’s car, a hideous rotten egg smell invaded our noses and it was pretty clear where my lucky egg had disappeared to.  But I kid you not, twenty-eight years later I still love eggs.  In charity shops and gift shops I look at the marble eggs and I admire their beauty and sometimes I wonder if I gave them a little smooch would my luck change? 

Years ago my dad worked abroad and whenever he came back he brought me a gift.  It was notebooks or a T-shirt, once he even brought a chocolate camel made from camel’s milk, that was an experience. The best thing he ever bought me was a porcelain egg, I think it was a birthday present.  Now my dad never ever remembered any of our birthday’s, he remembered his own, obviously, he never forgot that; so when he gave me a really posh looking box and this beautiful egg was inside lying on a bed of silk I have to say I was surprised, but I was grateful and I was touched and I thought…

“…maybe he does actually love me.  Maybe he might even know me.”

I never asked him and I will never know where that egg came from.  Was it a present for one of his many women and they didn’t want it?  Was it something just lying around the house and he thought…

“…crap I’ve forgotten her birthday again.  I’ll just give the egg.”

I don’t know, but that egg is the only thing I have that my dad ever bought me and no matter where it came from I will always treasure it because I like to think it’s special.  I tell myself that maybe he went shopping after work especially to buy me a birthday present, maybe he saw it and maybe he thought…

“Katerini likes eggs.  She might like this one.”

I don’t care where it came from…

Everyone who knows me knows that I like to name things.  Whether the object has eyes or not I will give it a name and a personality.  If I cook a chicken I sometimes I call it Pete or Gerald and I pat it like a pet before it goes into the oven, not that I put my pets in the oven, I don’t I swear!

If I have plants in my house I usually name those too.  I have tiny spider plant in my kitchen called Sindy, I have a succulent on my bookshelf that my friend made for me and I named it Jeff.

When another friend bought me a Venus fly trap for my birthday, the first thing he said was…

“What are you going to call this one?”

I said…

“Verity.”

When my friend Jan retired from Band I picked a rock from a beach and decorated it with eyes, I gave it a feather boa and in her card I explained that the rock was a drag queen named Radovanka.  I know it’s bizarre and what 30 something year old decorates a rock and gives it a personality?  But no matter how childlike it might have appeared, I know Jan will have appreciated the gesture and it will remind her of me because this is just the kind of thing that I do.

I love the art of drag.  I love the idea that a person can transform themselves from one thing to another and you can be so far from your usual self that no one would recognise the original. 

I love that drag queens are completely uninhibited and I admire their daring nature.  I worship their cheek and their beauty and the work that goes into creating something so incredibly beautiful.

When I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race I sometimes wish I was brave enough to be a more flamboyant and braver version of myself.  I wish I could wear sequins and high heels and have a mass of hair extensions; but it doesn’t matter because people have embraced my obsession with the uniqueness of drag queens and now I have books, mugs and memories that tell me my friends accept my fascination because they accept me.

I love music.  It’s probably the one thing that I couldn’t live without.  I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument and I don’t dance – unless you count happy dancing in your head as dancing? But I don’t think you have to be musical to appreciate a good tune. 

When I was a kid I would sit with my head phones on and play one of my many Meat Loaf cassettes on my Walkman and I would sing along with the lyrics straight from the leaflet and I would look for meaning in the words.  I never found any in Wasted Youth but for me the title was enough.

When I was at high school I was in love with Crispian Mills from Kula Shaker and besotted with Simon Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene.  In the mid-90s Indie music was all the rage and I thought if I bought every album, every single and every magazine they were in I would be one step closer to meeting them and them falling in love with me.  Let’s face it, my teenage years were clouded by bullies at school and something similar at home so is it any wonder I wanted Crispian and Simon to save me? 

At the weekend I would get up early to see them on T4 and I secretly stayed up late for Later with Jools Holland.  I taped every Top of the Pops, every TFI Friday and every televised festival they were ever on and I watched the video so many times the tape snapped and it was game over for Simon Fowler at Glastonbury 1996.

I had a couple of books solely written about the journey of those bands through the years.  When Kula Shaker won a Brit award I sat with bated breath and waited for Crispian to say something profound and inspiring…

He said…

“Be subversive and prosper.”

I had absolutely no idea what either of those words meant but I vowed that I would do it!

Inside the Ocean Colour Scene book the very last sentence was a quote by Simon Fowler…

He said…

“If you stick with something you believe in, then things just happen to you.  Simple as that.”

Simon Fowler

I wrote that quote on a piece of paper and I stuck it in my tin pencil case so that when I was at school I had some form of future to believe in. 

I never met Crispian or Simon but I named two of my goldfish after them and I guess that’s as far as I will ever get.

In 2011 I found a random Josh Groban album on my iPod.  I was on my way to my very first Psychology therapy session and on the train I was freaking out…until I heard Josh sing “You Raise Me Up”.

That night I downloaded every album, every single and every video he’d had ever done on to my iPod and I ordered all of his CD’s so that I could add those to my collection too.  I also fell in love with the guy and I believed we’d get married and I would take my cat and we would move to New York and we would live happily with Josh and his dog Sweeney.

Pack your bags Mills…

(I was single, bite me)

I learnt every word to all of my favourite songs and whenever I was stressed or I needed a distraction or even if I needed to focus my mind; I would sing the words to Awake, Changing Colours and Hidden Away.

Some think it’s funny or a bit pathetic and I guess it is because by this time I was thirty.  But when you’re in hospital and you have no phone, no iPod and no access to the things that save you; then you can thank your lucky stars that you remember the words to those songs because they’re the only thing that will get you though a stint in a psychiatric ward.

When it comes to Josh it’s not actually doom and gloom.  I’ve seen the guy perform four times and I won’t stop there.  I remember when I first started listening to his music my mum was probably getting a little concerned or bored of my obsession and she said…

“You know you’ll never meet him.”

I said…

“Yeah I know.”

In 2013 my friend got the three of us tickets to his All That Echoes tour and we were sat four rows from the front of the stage and I sat on an aisle seat ready to grab my man.  It was a week after my 31st birthday so I made a sign on an A3 piece of paper stolen from work (sorry STA, sorry not sorry) and I wrote…

“It’s my birthday, please sing Awake”

Can you imagine how my heart felt when he saw that sign and we had some form of conversation that I have no recollection of because I all I could think was…

“I just met Josh Groban.”

Josh Groban All That Echoes tour Manchester Apollo 2013

Now people send me clips of him singing on the Muppets and my friend made me a birthday card that was addressed to…

“The Future Mrs Groban.”

Mum once emailed Sunday Brunch when he was a guest and asked if he could say hello to me through the camera.

There’s nothing wrong with having a dream or an obsession, if it gets you through life then who is anyone to take that away?

Last week at work someone said…

“You’re so creative, I’d love to have your brain..”

Straight away I thought…

“You wouldn’t!  90% of the time I don’t want it.”

A few days later someone said…

“Oh Kat I love how your brain works.”

I thought…

“Why?!”

I don’t know if it’s the environment or the people I work with or maybe it’s just me being me that’s made the difference, but the more I display my little eccentricities the more I realise people actually like me and whoever my Secret Santa was, they got me down to a tee.  They bought me a really pretty mug that sits in my hand like a bowl and they bought me a really funky lunch box because they’d seen a worn out looking one sitting on my desk and they thought it needed replacing.  I’d been in the job three months and people could already tell what kind of person I was…a tea drinking lunch eater.

A couple of weeks ago I was telling a friend I didn’t know what to write about in my blog and he said…

“Gelato!”

I thought…

“Bit random.”

My friend has known me for twenty-two years and he knows my love for ice cream.  He knows that on holiday it is not only an essential part of the experience but an essential part of my diet.  A holiday is not a holiday if I don’t have at least one ice cream a day because I love sitting by the pool on a hot day eating a Croatian cornetto and I love going out after my evening meal having saved enough room in my belly for three scoops of Italy’s best Gelato.

I’ve been to Venice four times, possibly five – I can never remember – and as soon as we hit St Mark’s Square, after hiding from the pigeons and taking pictures of the bands playing at the most expensive café’s in the country, I head straight for the gelato place on the corner and I always have one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of stracciatella and then me and mum will sit by a wall and we say…

“I love this place.”

Don’t say it…we know.

I am sometimes clumsy, I fall over all the time.  Once I was in Wales and I was climbing a hill up some stairs that were basically rocks in grass.  I was licking my cookies and cream ice cream and failed to pay attention to the main task in hand and I tripped.  On my way down to the ground all I could see was my cornet heading for the floor and my internal voice crying…

“Nooooooo, not my iiiiiccceee creeeaaaam…”

I remember pulling myself up, looking at my splattered ice cream on the grass, like a dead body in a crime scene and the cornet in my hand that was in perfect condition but empty.

In that fall I managed to slice my finger, graze one knee and bruise the other and as my mum wrapped a tissue around my bleeding finger I just looked at the ground and said…

“…my ice cream…”

My mum is an angel, and she gave me her ice cream to make up for mine…I was twenty-nine. 

Having a stoma sometimes limits the kind of food you can eat.  I have a fibre intolerance so anything fruit or vegetable is either a no go or I have to doctor it.  If I want a grape, I have to peel it.  If I want an apple then I peel that too.  Carrots have to be mashed or raw and anything green usually looks at me and says…

“You’re having a laugh aren’t you?  Do you want to end up in hospital?”

I love oranges, I love satsumas and sometimes I can get away with eating them but Wilomena does not like anything with a skin on it so my best option is to eat tinned fruit.

At work I like to crack open a tin of mandarins and pour them into my mug along with the juice and eat them with a spoon.  Don’t knock it, this is the only way I can get my five a day while sparing Wilomena a trip to A&E.  When I got my new mug from Santa someone said…

“Is it big enough for your mandarins?”

In life sometimes the only route to happiness is to listen to what we want along the way.  For me it’s having a soundtrack to life.  Having songs on my iPod that mean something so whenever I feel down or out of touch with reality, I have a reminder that life does have the potential to be good.

These days I don’t need a lucky egg. 

Sanka

I used to believe that luck was just another version of the impossible but maybe it’s not.  I don’t believe that I met Josh Groban purely based on luck.  I met him because I was determined enough to try and its since that moment that I realise Simon Fowler was right…if you stick with something you believe in things really do just happen.

Everything in this blog are the things that make me me.  Not weird, not quirky, not strange.  These are the things that make people think…

“Kat would like that.”

“That’s very Kat”

“Kat, I thought of you when I saw this.”

I’m known for wearing scarves and jumpers.  I’m known for naming things that can’t breathe or see and I’m known for making the best out of a bad situation, so I live life the only way I know how…

…with one scoop of gelato and a tin of mandarins.

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