My Little Fish Fandango

“I was just admiring your fish tank” he says, I smile. I’ve no issue to anyone admiring my fish tank, I am proud of it after all.

“I think you’ve got a dead one there, though” Andy says, pointing to the surface of the water. I look, and there it is, a dead chili rasbora floating on the surface of the water. It happens.

I look again, and there’s another one.

What?! This never happens!

The more I moved the aquarium plants, the more dead rasboras seemed to come to light. I netted out five in the end, plus what remained of a dead pygmy corydora. I’d been expecting to lose one cory anyway, I think it got damaged when I transferred them into the tank and it’s been holding its tail weird ever since. Corydoras are sensitive to medication, and the very thing that is supposed to save them can often kill them instead, so I didn’t dose it with anything. It’d either live or perish, and as I’d more or less expected, it’d chosen perish. Again it happens.

But that doesn’t explain the five rasboras deaths. A dead pygmy corydora is going to produce negligible ammonia, if at all, so what gives?

I test the water chemistry as a starting point, to give me an idea of what I’m working with. Everything comes back fine – 0 Ammonia, 0 Nitrates, 0 Nitrites. This makes no sense. What if… what if I introduced a pathogen? Or a parasite? At this rate, that could wreak havoc on my stock and in no time at all.

Not possible, I run two filters on my fish tank and one of them is UV. It’s meant as a prevention for that very scenario: the UV light kills bacteria, algae and pathogens as they pass through, so transfer from corydora to rasbora seems highly unlikely. Then it dawns on me.

I dosed my tank with Seachem Flourish Nitrogen on Thursday, as an attempt to get my java ferns looking a little bit healthier. Despite it’s pretty green colour (and yes, it’s very pretty), I will never use that blasted stuff again. That supposed “fish safe” formula is clearly not fish safe at all.

Fortunately and after a late-night emergency 50% water change (which was highly conducive to my “I’m going to have a nice, relaxing Saturday evening”, by the way), everyone seems to be okay. The 8 rasboras that remain are still doing their dart-swim thing and acting like tiny piranhas at my sprinkling of some crushed up food, and the ten corydoras have now settled in nicely and are swimming about as a shoal. I relax back on the bed and watch them for a while. Even it it all goes to hell in a handbasket with the rasboras, I’d probably still keep a tank with just a shoal of pygmy corydoras instead. If there’s one fish I don’t regret buying, it’s my “little piggies”.

I’m still reeling, though for the most part then I am tolerating it too. Suppose that it was going to happen one day, it’s still not as bad as the time my heater blew while I was at school and I returned home to more than two dozen boiled fish. Having my beloved albino corydoras (I love corycats, can you tell?) break apart as I netted them out was heartbreaking. Losing them was already more than painful enough.

The desk arrived yesterday, and true to form then I wasted no time in getting it assembled. I sacrificed the drawer, which is frustrating to me but it is what it is. With the drawer, the leg space is a little too low and is uncomfortable on my knees. By taking the drawer out, I can fit comfortably and close to my desk to work, I just need to reinforce it a bit (there was a beam under the desk that added some support to the sides) and put some screw covers over the holes, but other than that it’s great. Space isn’t huge, but weirdly that’s okay because I have everything I need and nothing more, and it’s very sturdy too boot. It all feels good, simple, effective. Minimalistic.

That’s something else for Bill and I, we’re both minimalists. There’s a greatness that comes in finding someone who understands my love for minimalism and my need for simplicity. There’s a zen-like state that can be achieved by having enough and nothing more, and having someone, a partner who understands that? It makes us click more. In a moment of frustration last week I mentioned to Matt that I plan to “Marie Kondo the shit out of this place”, and that’s now become a quote probably worthy of my headstone. Still, he understands.

I do find myself reflecting on that yesterday, about how simple my life feels now. Even if these two are sadistic arsewipes and at the best of times, it goes far beyond that. It’s about partnershps, about being a team, and that’s all I ever really wanted. “Partner, not parent” I said, I always want someone who treats me like an equal, and who I can treat like an equal. Someones who stand beside me instead of trying to lead me – outside of BDSM, anyway.

It doesn’t sound like there is a lot to be grateful for, and yet if you knew what I had then you’d know what I’m grateful for. It’s small and simple things, like having someone that I can talk to about life, who cares about my life and who I feel like I can be my emotive self around, but it’s also being able to watch the football with Matt without having my other partner vocalising their dislike for the game, or chilling out on date night with a homecooked spaghetti bolognese and some soft jazz and not worrying about whether or not Bill is happy. I mean I do anyway of course, because that’s called caring, but I trust that he is capable of looking after himself.

I don’t feel personally responsible for his happiness, is what I mean to say.

I’ve come to realise now that, despite trying to move on from things, it’s also not easy or possible for me to adopt that ‘new year, new intentions’ mindset like I’d intended to. I still have feels to feel, a lot of anger to process, and that’s okay. I think it falls under trauma bonding in some way, but I’m not sure. Unfortunately I’m still not fully educated on that part.

Did I start Bloganuary in part because of my ex? Perhaps. I don’t think it was a spiteful decision exactly, but it was about taking back my power. It wasn’t about doing it because he tried to stop me last year, it was about doing it because I could, because I am free to do now whatever I want to do, and without any guilt trips or shame. I wouldn’t say that it’s been a massive success this year but it’s definitely been successful enough.

I made a really stupid mistake last night and after my fish tank fandango – I broke open the bag of dark chocolate and raspberry Mallow & Marsh mashmallows that Matt bought me, which gave me a touch of caffeine right before bed. It wasn’t a crazy amount, but it was certainly enough to keep me awake until 4AM. As a HSP, ceffeine is something that I am very sensitive to. Tea is normally okay, but coffee makes me anxious and I can only eat dark chocolate in small amounts, followed by lots and lots of water.

Still, with Matt not coming to bed too early (he has a few beers on a Saturday night, so passing out on the sofa is not uncommon) then I had no reason to settle. To occupy my energy, I decided to listen to some music.

I went through a couple of my reguarly listened to tracks, but I got bored of that so I decided to see what hidden gems I have in my Youtube library. There has to be something there worth a listen, right? Right.

I stumbled across Shakira’s “La Tortura” first, which makes me smile. However did I forget this song? I loved it at one time. It’s so energetic and it’s so fitting now. The song is sung by Shakira and features Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz. It talks about a man who wants a woman back, who hates seeing her so happy without him, and her crucially saying “you hurt me so much, go kick rocks”. Even the last line of the song translates roughly to “I’ll no longer cry for you” and the music video is certainly something, too!

Do I believe my ex misses me? Maybe. Do I think my ex still reads me? Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Next I settled for Irene Cara’s “Flashdance”, which makes me think of my blogging journey. What a feeling, to look at my stats while I lay in bed and see them in their hundreds. What a feeling, to be helping people and doing something that I love. What a feeling, to be doing that by talking about something that I am passionate about. Yes, what a feeling indeed.

Then Savage Garden’s “Crash & Burn”, which could possibly be better called The Empath Song. Suppose that yesterday was a bit of a rough day for Bill, and suppose that at one point then I had been feeling a bit funky about distances. It wasn’t about sex or BDSM, or even any physical contact at all, it was about being able to be there and not being able to be there. At least I can be emotionally and from a distance, but still. What good is tea and cake with 115 miles between you?

T.a.t.u’s “Not Gonna Get Us”, which again makes me think of our little huddle. I suppose that it makes me think of us, of polyamory and how Bill and I are in our dynamic.

It is what it is and it’s ours and anyone else can shove off on what they think where I’m concerned 😉


That man, he always makes me smile.

Liberty X “I Just Wanna”, oh wow, it’s been years since I listened to that! I also probably wasn’t really into it anyway, but still. I remember the year we racked up a garden hose to an old washing line post and used it as a sort of garden shower during the summer. I knew that there was some interest in one of my neighbour’s sons and so I decided to to have myself a garden shower and dance a little like I would in the main shower in the bathroom, while listening to this song and completely ignoring my neighbour’s son. Rule number three, of course.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax”, I suppose I had to for old time’s sake? My father used to work out to this anthem, on his rowing machine in the lounge. It’s a piece of nostalgia for me. I smile as I recall and we’re back there again, back in the lounge of my childhood home.

Dad? Dad I love you and I miss you. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t there at the end.

In the moment and for the first time in years, I feel him hugging me. I feel him and I hear him, and it doesn’t terrify me at all. I melt into him, pouring out all of the grief that I have been holding back for so long. He says nothing and just holds me, just as my father used to do.

“You need to forgive yourself, Helen” he finally says,

“How can I?” I argue, “after that”.

“Try” he says, and then he’s gone.

I am hard on myself sometimes, I know I am, and I let people’s opinions of me bother me much more than I should. I also don’t forgive myself very easily, even if others have already forgiven me.

I feel pretty winded by the whole experience, though somehow and in some way then I do feel distinctively calmer. It’s a healing that perhaps I needed, but didn’t want to admit.

I skip my music one last time, and Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room” plays. It makes me think of a session with Bill, about dark rooms and chains and all things delicious and good.

Now that? That is a thought that I can finally relax to.

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