Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….

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So.  The time has come for me to seek some kind of paid work, and like the little chicken shit I am, instead of grasping the nettle and looking for something that I could love and/or where I could do some good, I emailed my CV to a marketing agency.

They called me.

Without even thinking, as soon as I knew who it was, I stood up (adds energy to your voice y’know), paced the room and, as if possessed by the ghost of Steve Jobs, this….this wanky tone of voice emitted from my mouth and I started banging on about prestigious companies, transferable skills, FMCG, blue chip whatsits, marketing sweet spots, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, bleugh.

My poor, horrified soul drummed its little fists against my brain crying ‘Please stop, please for the love of God, who is this person!’ but I’d started so I had to finish lest the entire industry find out that I’m totally loopy; that said I did vaguely register that something was wrong and curtailed the call as soon as respectably possible, and then, realising what I had done, sat down clutching my head in my hands with horror.

All I could think was ‘I HATE myself!’

I had spent more than a decade pretending to be someone I’m not, to the point of being pushed to total breakdown by some psycho middle management tosspot, and then what do I do when money gets a little tight?  Hurl myself back into that persona, like someone who had just been rescued from a blazing building, diving back in through a ground floor window, still smouldering, heels alight, hair afire.

Please don’t misunderstand.  There’s nothing wrong with working in marketing <cough, ahem, splutter> or sales if you’re in the right environment.  It’s when you are forced to behave in a manner that you are not comfortable with and/or when you are required to do things that put you at odds with your moral code is when the cracks will start to show. If you are human, that is.  I can sell/promote/market with the best of ’em, but from now on, I will only sell that which I am passionate about, and not for kudos, promotion or, of course, mere money

Then, just when I was about to limp away and get myself a comforting glass of wine, my little ally from my old company sent me a message via LinkedIn.

‘Hi there’ it said ‘saw this job and thought of you.  Hope all is well!’

I looked at the job spec.  It’s exec level, situated just outside the M25, tons of responsibility, average wages.

Did I think ‘Nice of her to think of me but I’m not going back into that world.’?

Or ‘Bless her, she’s trying to encourage me to ease back into the workplace gradually.’?

Nope.  Neither.

I’m livid.  How dare she sell me short?!  Does she think that just because I had a near breakdown that I am willing to take a demotion, work in the back of beyond for a pittance whilst carrying shitloads of responsibility for the fun of it, so that lickarse, mealy mouthed spin masters like her take all the credit?  FUCK her.  I could have done her job easily had it not been for the politics, bullshit and lack of autonomy at that place!  And they’d just love that wouldn’t they, seeing me in a measly exec role, the oldest in an office with a load of 20 year olds, well she knows where she can shove that!  I’ll show them, I’ll get a better role, director level, and show them what I can handle with the right company!


Do I loathe myself that much that I will push myself willingly to my own destruction for the sake of proving myself to people that no longer matter?  Am I going to pass on my ‘get out of jail free’ card just because things are a bit tight and go back to a miserable 9-5 existence?

Hell, no.

If nothing else has come out of this episode, it’s the realisation that I need to have faith in myself and get out there and do something before the time comes that I have to go back to that grey world because I no longer have any choice in the matter.

And, if i fail?  Well at least it will have been an adventure.

So, I’ve decided.  Even if the agency come back to me with a position, I think I will have to politely decline.

Otherwise ‘I could be an inmate in a long term institution’.

And that would be a waste.

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I was recently challenged by a friend to make him a gluten and diary free cake that tastes good, and after doing some research on the internet I can now understand where he was coming from with that qualification as most of the offerings that I saw on there looked like they’d been regurgitated and spat out by an owl.

Others looked distinctly flat and unappetising, and worse still, some looked really yummy but apparently this is grossly deceptive as they tend to taste like shit.

I then found a recipe for a fruitcake on BBC Good Food website and tested it out.  It was nice enough but very crumbly and I wasn’t keen on the gritty top (it’s made with polenta) so I decided to make up my own recipe giving it a malt loaf style make over.  Turns out malt extract has gluten in it, so I was left with a loaf of healthy cake and a frustrated/highly amused friend who moaned that he couldn’t eat it!  Anyway he ended up having a bit, so he can’t be that allergic can he? Bloody attention seeker…..

Malt contains gluten, who knew?  Meh, it tastes great and you can always substitute it with black treacle or honey so here’s the lowdown.


250g pack stoned ready to eat dates

2 small bananas

150g pecans chopped (keep around 10-12 whole ones for the top)

200g raisins

200g chopped prunes (doesn’t matter if you don’t like them, trust me they meld in with the cake and help stop it crumbling)

100g fine polenta

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp baking powder (Dr Oetker make a gluten free version, available at Sainsburys)

3 tblsp malt extract, black treacle or honey (this also stops the cake from falling apart)

2 egg whites

200ml black tea


1. Heat oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas mark 4

2. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with baking parchment

3. Put dates in a small saucepan with tea and simmer for 5 mins

4. Stir in malt extract until combined with then add the bananas and blitz with a hand held blender until smooth


Yes, I know it looks like the contents of a particularly challenging nappy but you haven’t done anything wrong.  It’s meant to look this way.

5. Wipe any stray banana/date/tea stuff off the splash back, your glasses, worktop and passing cat.

6. Mix all the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl (apart from the whole pecans), add the gloop then stir gently until combined.

7. Take a clean bowl (ensure it is totally grease free) and whisk the egg whites until they fall in soft peaks, then fold carefully into the cake mix, so that it looks like this.


Again, not pretty huh?  Look on the bright side, at least your kids won’t be mithering you to scrape out the bowl….

8. Quickly and carefully tip it into the tin (it will be pretty full), then bake for around 45mins to an hour until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t put it at the very top or it is likely to catch.

9. Take your two egg yolks and make yourself some extra rich scrambled eggs on toast or a full English with double yoked sunny-side-ups (yum, yum), unless of course you are avoiding gluten and dairy, in which case, erm, have an apple.  Devour with a cup of tea whilst watching Saturday Kitchen.


10. When the cake comes out of the oven, brush with malt/treacle/honey whilst still warm, arrange the whole pecans on the top in some way, shape or form, and then brush them with malt/treacle/honey too.


Allow to cool completely before you cut into it, if you can leave until the next day, so much the better.

Serve with a mug of tea.

Best spread lavishly with butter 😉

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Kittens - 54

Dexter is lying on the rug in a patch of sunlight, his soft, dappled tummy soaking up the rays.

I am lying on the sofa as usual, feeling tired, muzzy, dyspeptic.  My back aches and I am cranky.

As the sunlight shifts, so does Dex, inching along in its wake in a series of little, snake like wiggles, ensuring that every inch of his furry body stays in its blaze.

After a while, I slide off the sofa and join him, hooking my legs over the seat so that my back relaxes into the floor.

Dex looks at me as if to say ‘What on earth are you doing?’

I slowly reach out my hand to tickle his tummy.  He moves back half a centimetre so that he is just out of reach.


Shifting slightly, I try again.  This time I connect  and savour his softness, vulnerability and warmth.  Before a minute is up, he lashes out playfully with his back legs and pushes my fingers away with his paws, claws still sheathed.

I keep my fingers on the pads and wait for the rebuff.  To both our surprise, it doesn’t happen.

He purrs.  I close my eyes.

Warm rough paws, connection, soft back, hot sun, cool feet.

I breathe fully, deeply.

Crazy black clouds skitter by the window, tree branches flail in the wind, the threat of rain imminent, but in our world there is only heat and light, and for the first time in days, I feel something akin to happiness.


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Sticky mouthed, tired, sore. Numb from meds.

Didn’t sleep much last night.  Dug away at the beastie on my hand with a paper scalpel by way of distraction.  Fun, fun, fun!

Woke up late and cancelled yet another class.  Lord if i could get the money back from every single thing I’ve paid for and bailed on, I’d be living in my dream mill/cottage/lighthouse by the sea and not a flat in Shitsville, Chavland.

This blog has become a lifeline for me, but if it doesn’t deliver what its meant to, then it becomes meaningless and shows me up as the fraud that I so clearly am, so tough love is needed.

So, today, somewhat inexplicably is Yes day, and i have already via email (you don’t actually expect me to verbally communicate with anyone today do you?!) committed to the following:

  • A Yoga class tomorrow
  • A trip to the cinema on Thursday
  • Dinner with a close friend on Friday (the easiest challenge)
  • Dinner with a friend I am mad at, at a restaurant I don’t want to go to on Saturday (harder)
  • A ballroom dancing class on Sunday (hardest, as some bloke/weirdo from the group is emailing me and freaking me out already)

Five days of going out in a row.  Scary shit.  If it happens, it will be a record for 2013 so far.

Enjoy being holed up in your little nest today Sista, because you have officially ran out of ‘tomorrows’, as if you don’t do this, you have to stop blogging.

And leave your fucking hand alone!

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….sleep tight

Just don’t let the demons bite

Try as I will and try as I might

I just don’t seem to get respite


Eyes dry, shoulders tight

Right foot swings from left to right

Try as I will, try as I might

The call of sleep I cannot fight


Star light, star bright

Save me from myself this night

I hope you will, I pray you might

Enfold me in your silver light

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I have this thing on my hand.

It started off the size of a pinprick, but was raised, hard and had ambition.  It didn’t fool me one iota.

Having been on Skin Tag Watch since I turned 50, I spotted it, I took a pair of nail clippers, braced myself and, wincing, snipped it off.

I’ve always had a huge aversion to anything like that, you see; when I see warts, hairy moles, and big raised wibbly, bobbly things, they make my arse clench with fear.  I’m a bit like Austin Powers in Goldmember when confronted by the ‘MOLEE!’ except I just about manage to hide my horror, and refrain for the most part from poking them with a stick.

I know this makes me sound like some kind of superficial Nazi, and I’m certainly far from stunning, but there is something beyond what they look like that fills me full of dread.  Is it because they generally come later in life and are part of the aging process?  Perhaps.  But not entirely.  I just know that if I was, in some parallel universe, a celebrity guest on Room 101, bobbles, warts and skin tags would top of my list of things to consign to that Orwellian hell hole, along with snotty egg whites, that skin that forms on the top of hot milky drinks and sticks to your lip, ‘space invaders’ on public transport, and big long breast feeding nipples when that bend and twang when they pop out of a baby’s mouth.  Eeeeeee!

So you can see that I would much rather have a scar where others would tolerate a, a….thingy.

But, wouldn’t you just know it; the tenacious little blighter was back within 24 hours. Undeterred, I snipped it again. It came back. Snip. Back. Snip. Back.

Each time it returned, it came back bigger, more painful and more resilient, so I took it to the chemist and on their advice, bought, gulp, wart remover. I have a wart?  How can that be?  Unclean, unclean!

I used the entire bottle of this stuff, but the bloody thing would not desist.  It got bigger wider, and harder.  So, rather than waste money on foul smelling medication, I would just cut shards of skin off it as soon as it got big enough to work with, sometimes trimming right down to bare bleeding flesh, but it would literally replenish itself almost overnight. 

I was then given some very caustic stuff by Dr B, and had been using that, and it seemed to be working, to the point where last week it loosened and all seemed to come off in one piece, leaving a raw, bloody crater, but no sign of a core.  I quickly slathered it with tea tree cream and covered it with a plaster, and slept with my fingers crossed.

But, wouldn’t you know it, it came back again, totally healed over, no crater in sight, so I attacked it again.  And again.  And again.

Dr B had a fit when she saw it.  ‘Are you sure you only used this stuff twice a day?’


‘I can’t even tell what it is anymore’ she said peering at the huge crusty, ragged hole the size of a 20p piece, then practically sprinted to the washbasin to decontaminate her hands, ‘leave it alone for a fortnight and come back and see me.’

But I can’t.  I am absolutely obsessed with it.

But that’s me all over. I am hard wired to ignore and take for granted all the good things and people in my life, and zoom in on the tiniest thing that is wrong and make it my everything, something Aunty C points out to me all the time.  So whilst I’m on waging war on this little blemish, I totally take for granted the fact that the rest of me (physically at any rate) is relatively healthy, that there are people blogging on here that are much worse off than I that would do anything to be able to get out of bed, let alone leave the house and get a job. 

Also, never mind that both of my parents died young of horrible diseases, so I have a scary genetic inheritance to overcome, my entire being is hunched over my hand, poking and jabbing at this thing in a blood thirsty frenzy, wart bothering bitch that I am, and days, weeks, years are flying by that I will never, ever get back again.

So family, friends, loved ones, if you ever get to read this (not if I can help it) given that I insist on playing Russian roulette with my health, I may well die young.  The odds are not in my favour.  But at least I’ll have a clear (if ugly) façade, if just a mite scarred, so please ensure that the mortuary make up artist uses a good concealer.

In all seriousness, I need to sort this trait out if I am to make any progress, so God, if you are listening, I’ll make a deal with you; if you must smite me with even more ugliness, so be it. I’ll try not to wield the nail scissors too much, and will put some energy into looking after this amazing machine that you have given me.  It may be a bit vintage, rusting in parts, creaking in others, but I will try and maintain it, feed it and nurture it the way I do for my cats, so that we all stay lean, mean purring machines.

In exchange, please give me the courage to make a good stab at life, and if it’s not pushing my luck, I’d sooner not have a shitty death where I deteriorate inch by inch, and take months or even years to kick it.  I don’t care when I die, but if I have any say in the matter, I would like the kind of spectacular demise that could have been featured in Six Feet Under and a wake that would put a Lindsay Lohan hen party to shame.

Do we have a deal?



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OK, today’s track has been uploaded on the tenuous theme of my having messed up my life and needing a new beginning, but let’s be honest, it’s on here because I heard it for the first time last night at the end of a documentary about Death Row and fucking love it.
Actually, come to think about it, this does earn its place on here because after watching a bunch of pallid, tattooed, regretful prisoners stuck in a small living space with their cats (Jesus, who’d have thought I’d have so much in common with kid and cop murderers?!) with nothing to look forward to but death by natural causes or via a big old syringe filled with poison, makes me realise that I can actually leave mine. Any time I want to.
I’ve already walked away, so I just need to man up and start over again. And empty my slops bucket 😉




I thought I’d heard the last from the Guru for a while, after our rather uncomfortable exchange last week where I was forced to rebuff his kind offer to use my flat as a frickin’ hotel whenever he was in the country.  But non.  I came home from a nice lunch today to find the following in me inbox:

Dear Sista

I don’t enjoy many peoples company these days but dinner with you was a rare exception.

I believe that you enjoyed it too, so shall we try a little experiment? May i stay with you for one night on ??rd May?  I’ll try not to snore too much, ha ha!


What?  After spilling my guts to him re my condition and how uncomfortable it is for me to have strangers staying over in my tiny, claustrophobic shoebox of a flat, he’s still pushing me on this? Really?!  I can just picture Jesus shaking his head, going ‘Tsk, tsk, what a dick, you wouldn’t catch me doing that ….’

My overriding urge is to reply by sending him a link to the Premier Inn website which guarantees a good nights sleep, something he would not get here due to marauding cats, a hissing air bed and me either pacing the floor trying to quash a panic attack or thwacking him on the forehead with a ladle if he did indeed happen to snore like a pneumatic drill.  It’s as cheap as chips if you don’t stay central and considering what his company charges for tuition, I’m surprised he doesn’t hole up at the Wolseley whilst he’s over here. But perhaps that would be a little blunt and it’s important that we keep things cordial.

After giving it some thought (well five minutes), I respond as follows:

Dear G

I enjoyed our dinner too, but like yourself, if I get a strong instinct that I do not want to do something I tend to honour it, especially in this instance as i would wish neither of us an uncomfortable nights sleep.

Hope you understand


Sista x

This should do the trick as the last time we met, he told me that he never did anything he didn’t want to, but people (including his kids) accepted this because ‘that’s what he’s like’.  Well this is what I’m like buddy, so back the fuck off.

Still, I have an uncomfortable feeling that I still haven’t heard the last of it, ‘cos G is clearly used to getting his own way.  Better go find a beta blocker before I go into a full blown panic attack about being rejected/reviled/stoned to death by all of his adoring, limpid eyed, lycra clad clan at the next tuition session.

Men eh?  Gurus or ordinary Joe Blows, none of them seem to be able take ‘no’ for an answer….


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Tired and a little depleted after a heavy night; snow going, back to cold, grey days, grim, grim, grim, need to keep the blues at bay….

Yesterday I popped out to Waitrose and found some ‘blush’ oranges (presumably ‘posh’ blood oranges) which I love, so I pounced on them and dragged them back to my lair, the plan being to eat half of them and make marmalade with the other half.

As Marmalade was one of the few preserves I hadn’t made before, I decided to have a little mooch on the internet and ended up  confused and somewhat intimidated because pretty much every recipe was different with regard to technique, sugar content, to de-pith or not to de-pith, when to add what, not to mention the huge amount of kit needed depending on which one you follow (muslin, sterilising baths, thermometers etc).  I was starting to go off the idea rapidly….

Look, I’m a simple soul. Surely it’s just the case of combining fruit, water and sugar and boiling the bejesus out of it until it goes all sticky?  So I decided to take inspiration from all of these seasoned preservers and make up my own as ‘simple as possible’ version as I go along.

And it worked!  Luckily.


1kg Blush or Blood Oranges

1kg Jam sugar

1 Lemon juiced

2 tablespoons of Amaretto (or Cointreau if preferred)


1. Trim of the top and bottom of the oranges then slice them as thinly as possible or according to preference.


Note – Many recipes advise that the pith needs to be scraped away from the peel, but honestly?  There is hardly any on these oranges and to be quite frank, I couldn’t be arsed.  Do however cut out any prominent strands of white pith in the centre of the orange halves.


2. Remove pips and put in a separate bowl along with all the trimmings.

3. Place orange slices in a glass or ceramic bowl, just about cover with cold water.  Pour half a cup of boiling water over the pips and pith, cool then leave both overnight.  This apparently allows the pectin (setting agent) to develop.

4. Make yourself a nice nightcap (a glass of wine or a Baileys and hot milk works for me) and go to bed.  Do NOT watch ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ or ‘Cheaters’ under any circumstances.

5. The following day, put a small plate in the freezer, then put the oranges and water in a big stainless steel pan, bring it to the boil for 40 minutes or until temperature has reached 32 degrees C on your candy thermometer. Note – I don’t have a stainless steel pan so i used a none stick one.  As for a candy thermometer….

6. OK, ignore No. 5.  Put oranges and water into a pan and after 10 minutes add the jam sugar, otherwise how’s it supposed to reach setting point without it?

7. Realise you don’t have enough jam sugar.  Swear under your breath and make up the difference with granulated and golden caster sugar.

8. After 15 minutes add the lemon juice and all the pectin liquid from the bowl of pips and pith, squeezing every last drop into the pan. Also add your chosen poison.

9. Put your freshly washed jars in a warm oven to sterilise, Gas Mark 3 works fine.

10. Bring to a vigorous boil and go and watch Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for 40-60 minutes as it simmers.


11. Struggle to decide who you hate more, simpering Camille Grammer Wotsit or witchy Alison Dubois.

12. Fret a little because you think you should have added sugar, lemon juice and booze right at the end, but it’s too late now.

13. After 40 minutes, turn the TV off before you put your boot through the screen and do the wrinkle test.  On the marmalade, not on yourself.  Take your plate out of the freezer, and blob a teaspoonful of marmalade onto it. After it cools, push your finger along the plate into it.  If it creases, it’s ready.  If not stick it back on the stove, put the plate back in the freezer and try again in 10 minutes.

14. Whilst it’s finishing off, cut yourself some greaseproof paper/baking parchment rounds for your jars using a saucer as a template, or, if you’re me, a (clean) cats water bowl will do.

15. When it’s ready, take your jars out of the oven, put on a cutting board, then use a ladle to fill them.  The jars should sizzle as you do this.  If they don’t, I wouldn’t worry if I were you.  Top with your paper rounds then seal and leave to cool.

This recipe makes enough for 2 large kilner jars, one old peanut butter jar and an olive jar.

Keep the kilner jars for yourself and give the others away, but only to people you love.

Serve with home make, granary bread toast the next morning for breakfast.  Yum.

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Forgive me but I just have to share this with someone.

As well as blogging I also Tweet as I was told it was a good thing to do to connect with like minded people.  I haven’t got very many ‘followers’ as I’m anonymous and am not entirely sure what I’m doing, but I toil away regardless.

Anyway a woman decided to follow me the other way, so, as a courtesy, I followed her back.

She then tweeted me something along the lines of the following:

‘Thanks for following me.  Bet I’m more bonkers than you!’

Okey dokey.  Seemed a bit inappropriate, plus I didn’t know it was a competition?  That said, I do say rather wryly on my status that I’m bonkers, and I suppose everyone deals with these things in different ways.

I look at her profile. She’s in her 60’s, socialist, atheist and a self professed ‘loudmouth’.

Innocuous enough I suppose, so I reply something along the lines of:

‘Perhaps SAL, Perhaps!  Have a look at my blog if you like x’

And think no more about it.

Today I have a look at my Twitter account and I notice that I have dropped a follower.  Because I have very few, I decide to have a look and see who’s bailed.  It’s SAL.

I puzzled. She approached me?  I mention it to a friend later in the day who is experienced in all matters Twitter.

She laughs and tells me that sometimes people deliberately follow new people whether they are interested in them or not, and wait for the British politeness to kick in when they are in turn followed back. They then leave it a few days then drop the newby, the net result being that they have upped their body count, and presumably boosted their ego/profile/perceived popularity.

Whilst I don’t bristle at this news (OK maybe i bristle a bit), I decide to sift through my followers with the intention of un-following SAL, if for no other reason than to teach her that crime, sorry, duplicitous behaviour does not pay  :-).

It’s then that i realise that she has not only stopped following me but she has actually blocked me.

I’m speechless.  I barely exchanged more than a sentence with her.

Then I realise that she must have taken one look at my blog and twigged that i am actually a bit damaged (and not in the Colin Hunt ‘I’m craaazzzy me!’ kind of way), therefore not a wacky kindred spirit. So she decided to leg it.

Not only that, but she found me so threatening that she had to block me, just in case I erm, came after her and did something to her by way of revenge?  Quite why or what she feared I have no idea.

There is no other rational explanation. Believe me I’ve thought it through with the aid of a mate and a couple of good bottles of wine over dinner, and we’ve both arrived at the conclusion that we don’t blame her. Quite how I’ve been allowed to be left at large within community, roaming the streets, knuckles dragging along the floor for as long as i have is quite disgraceful really, and a marksman from the funny farm should swing by with a tranquiliser gun ASAP before someone gets hurt.

Whilst I look nothing like my photo, if I had money I would be highly tempted to hire a detective to track her down, then dress up as Sista Sertraline (i.e. a nun) and stagger after her down the street with a bloodied coat hanger in my nutty little fist, shouting Papa Lazarou style ‘You’re my friend now SAL!’

Joking aside, whilst it’s easy and quite therapeutic to poke fun at people like this, it is pretty alarming that in this day and age that those suffering from mental illness are perceived as being so alien and threatening that one should not even be seen to associate with them via a social media site.  And whilst she can do me no harm on Twitter (especially is she is in hiding, under armed guard presumably), I certainly wouldn’t want her on an interview panel if I was applying for a job.

If you deign to click on my hyperlink again and happen to read this SAL, I would never have contacted or harmed you, unless we count your reputation. You could have happily sat there amongst the others totally unmolested as you weren’t actually interesting enough for me to interact with.  Had you passed me on the street, you would probably perceived a tall, well dressed, stylish woman in her 40’s, and whilst no doubt your inverted snobbery would have furnished you with an alternative reason to dislike me, you would never have been able to detect my illness in a month of Sundays.

Finally, I’ll take this opportunity to complete my (then) Twitter status:

Some people think I’m bonkers….

…but I just think I’m free.