Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Time for saying Goodbye

...Cause if I stay here to long, you'd get to know me too well and find that something was wrong(Neil Diamond, If I Don't See You Again)

So I'm sat here, making a mixtape (cd sounds soooo wrong to an 80's child). For my other half, of songs that mean something to use both (including Mr Diamond). This is version 3 - I keep trying to de-depress it, after all it is supposed to be a declaration of my love...

There's one song on it that has me hovering over the delete button. It crucifies me. Every time I hear it I weep, which is unfortunate when testing the flow of the CD on public transport.

I left it on though. Even though I know he'll struggle with it as much as me. Because this was a year of loss, deep loss, and this song encapsulates exactly how I felt. How we both feel.

So I'll listen to it once again, this Christmas Eve when the world is picture perfect in crystalline brilliance through my window. To Pim Pom Pam, to Jack, to Mike and to Harry - I love and miss you all. Jack and Mike, you were both taken way too soon. You left young families who adored you both, and you left friends that will always cherish your memory.

Harry, gloriously grumpy, truculent, clever, clever Harry who would never let anyone tell him he couldn't do things his way. Harry, who gave me something priceless - my best friend, your daughter, and who has been a part of my life for twenty five years. The King of Mint Imperials and a surprising Shirley Bassey lover, you live on in the many hand made tools you gave us that we use throughout the year and which were meticulously crafted by your skillful hands. I'll look after her, love.

Pim Pom Pam. My little mother in law. My sweet, sweet little mother in law, who left us in February after the cruelest of illnesses robbed her of her self. I'm glad I held both your hand and his as you left us. I hold his hand still, and will for as long as he lets me. Your beautiful boy misses you everyday and I try the best I can to paper up the cracks, but sometimes it's so hard Pam, so hard. Did you ever realise he has your mouth? A way of pursing his lips that is so reminiscent of you, just like he inherited your sunny humour?

One day we'll all dance on the stars, together again. Until that day, I'll think of you fondly. I'll think about you every time I hear this song.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Splinters

Firstly, thank you to those that have raised concerns about me, it is most appreciated.

Please be reassured that in many ways I am fine. It is just that as animals shed their skins occasionally I must shed mine.

It is more than that, it is in fact a dislocation of whom I currently am. I have no doubt I will surface again in another skin once I conclude what consciousness means to me, but in the meantime I will drop by and support those in the blog community that I have become close to.

Thanks again, GingerD aka Jane

BTW if you wish to be close to how I feel right now, then a mix of Muse's Absolution and Depeche Mode's Playing The Angel will take you there. Literally.

Addendum: there was a man who called me Honey Child who traded secrets and loss. He met his dark lady two years ago, and left me bereft. Gary, my pirate, I am lost still. No one but you ever saw the Honey Chil', and no one else ever will. Rest in peace, twin of my soul, my pirate, my lost boy. I will never forget you.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shivers

There's a shiver in the air today, and it's not caused by imminent Halloween. There is frost, it's true, closely followed by incessant rain and an unpleasant wind. However, it's a bit deeper than that.

Perhaps it's inaction. I'm too somnolent to care.

GD: has been spending indiscriminately; listening to Rumer, Depeche Mode and Antony and the Johnsons; wishing that the incessant whine of constant despair would abate and her broken little lover could find his smile again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Solitude

..is sausage, mash and beans, washed down with red wine and lashings of self recrimination.

So all is normal then!

GD: drunk, stupid, maudlin and occasionally friend-blind. It ain't your fault, I'm just an insensitive bitch.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's a wonderful, wonderful life

For Livewire, for B, Sat, Dan et al. Indeed for myself, this probably won't help much but I'm thinking of you guys.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Roads We Take

Maybe, the roads we don't take. Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you'd stuck to a certain path, even if deep in your heart you know that the original choice was well made? Idly contemplate the people and the places that you walked away from, the alternative life that could have been yours? I don't indulge in this often because I'm generally secure that once I make a decision then it's the right one for me, even if others disagree or if it is the wrong way for them. I have many insecurities, but dwelling over past choices made isn't one of them!

Inadvertently I got an answer this week, to one significant choice I made about fifteen years ago. I left the first person I ever fell truly in love with because I couldn't reconcile my life with his lifestyle choices. He didn't want my staid existence to interfere with his hedonism. I have never smoked, never took drugs and whilst I enjoy drinking, it affects me so much physically I choose my hangovers wisely. He did everything to excess and had begun to surround himself with parasites and dealers. Had I thought there was any chance of him waking up and smelling the hemp I would never have walked.

I did walk and within six months had met the man I would marry whilst looking for nothing more than a bit of fun. Funny how life can do that. I'd set boundaries around our breakup, no contact, no friendship - I needed to be away from the stale air, the addicts rummaging through bin bags looking for used needles, the utter contempt that people held me in for my polite refusal to take ecstasy. He once told me he'd leave me if I didn't learn to make roll ups by a certain date. Well, there comes a point when even I say enough is enough (still can't make them, though I do know the theory).

There is a point to this post. I did occasionally wonder how he was, what our life could have been like had we stayed together. Marriage has taught me that some paths are very hard to walk but they are worth pursuing. There was a point when the man I loved wasn't a strung out, stinking addict but a smart, funny, talented physicist with an abiding love of books. Now?

Hedonism has a price. In our twenties we believe we'll motor on forever regardless of what we do to ourselves, in our thirties we sometimes push it to show we still can. Well, he blew. He pushed it too far. His body stopped in his forty first year.

He didn't die, though in some ways you wonder if that would be kinder to someone like him. His body rebooted itself from the stroke that stalled his brain. It left him crippled in body, but with an active mind held inside. His drug addled girlfriend of seven years dumped him when he could no longer provide or function as a convenient mule, and his friends melted away. He now lives with his parents who care for him, and who sold their home to buy a bungalow so he has mobility. It's not all bad news I guess, he can walk again with a stick and is deemed fit for work. He is only forty three years old.

So I see that other path quite clearly and I see me in his mother's place as carer. And I feel great sorrow for this man who could have had so much but gave it away for so little. I don't mean me, I think I was always too soft for him. And I can't deny the relief at not being trapped in a relationship with someone who has destroyed them self, like my father destroyed himself when he was with my mother (who had to walk away eventually and ruined her mental health in the process).

Paths and choices. It's all life really is. I need to stop being afraid of the next choice and trust my instincts, however overgrown that road might be.

GD: reading Theodora by Stella Duffy; listening to the Stranglers ~ Strange Little Girl obsessively; thinking she should eat more fruit and veg, and give up the fish fingers!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Arrested Development Part 2

I never really explained why I called my last post that. Maybe it was self explanatory - I get hooked up in the past. I'm not sure if it's nostalgia or masochism that keeps washing over me, I only know that I'm spending too much time revisiting things best left cold.

Take music. I'm hooked on last.fm and laying claim to a past that's not really mine. Like punk - The Damned, The Skids, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Sham 69 and the wonder that is the Stranglers - yet I am really to young to have been there first time round. I'm also fascinated by the early 80's - the coolness of it all, the Blitz kids in their fantastical outfits, the fact that Boy George did Kirk Brandon (jaw on floor time), even early Human League. I'm singing OMD in my head (Forever Live and Die, for the record).

Books - I found myself getting Adrian Mole - the Wilderness Years from the library today. Now this really is regression. I found his diaries funny at the age of 14, will they hold up in my more advanced state? Though I am also wallowing in H.P. Lovecraft's Necronomicon - I indulged in the luscious hard back edition in Waterstone's and earned the undying gratitude of the nice young man in there who told me I need a large leather armchair, open fire and glass of brandy when reading it. Can I add a smoking jacket?

I think I'm at a crossroads right now and I'm dithering - I know which way to go but as ever commitment is hard to do. That's partly why I'm posting, I need to get the vicarious thoughts spinning about out out out. I'm also having lots of nightmares, which isn't helping. Perhaps that's the Lovecraft?!

Telly - I've jumped on the Mad Men bandwagon. I wallow in the smart scripts, superb acting but most of all I wallow in the melancholia caused by the futility of need and expectation. This is such a smart show. I'm also aware that it was this era when my mother was the same age as Peggy Olsen and working as a wages clerk and you just wonder what she had to put up with. Though the less said about my obsession with America's Next Top Model the better!

Head cleared, time to go.

GD: Odd. Thorn in finger. Caked up. But generally doing ok!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Arrested Development

Hmmm.

Ok.

Mid September. So what's up?

Well, the uni kids go back. I find myself in a snit. I'll be honest, more than a snit. A great big steaming hump.

Why? Well, in GD's world ideally we would have been starting our PhD this month. On a studentship, complete with bursary. But we screwed up we did, and so we aren't. So I'm currently watching the most recent uni intake of my town's two universities through particularly jaded eyes and an ever growing sense of panic about impending redundancy.

Pause. Think about the month past. It sucked. Not just for me, but for those about me. On Monday my best friend's dad's funeral was held. A humanist funeral, all about the man and his abiding love for his family, no frills, no ceremony. Just a lot of sorrow and love and memories of a man who has been a part of my life for over twenty five years. God, did we consume gin?

I had a week's holiday. Mixed emotions. Partially due to Harry's death and dealing with his emotional children. Owning up to losing a huge chunk of my childhood. This lovely man would set up the z-bed for me of a night, and tuck hot water bottles into the sleeping bags for when we'd roll in at 3am from rock clubbing. He'd wait up to see what we'd bring back from the Chinese so he could help us eat it. He'd eat mint imperials by the sack load and feed them to my dog from his mouth. I'm gonna miss you Harry, I don't think you realised how widely you were loved.

Partially spent in a rather lovely hotel, festival going and female urinal experiencing of a festival. Couldn't' be arsed to stay for Pretend Guns and Fatboy Roses, but Queens of the Stone Age were pretty cool. Though it was The Big Pink that broke me into bits with the lushness and beauty of their live set. I even danced to Delphic (but I blame beer for this).

Today I played with fire. Literally - we funded an open air forge day - visit - thing at work, so I went to see it in action. FLAMES! So fab, another reason i love my job (sad, moi?).

So now. I'm avoiding the issue. Where do we go from here (aka Buffy soundtrack, is it sad I know all the words?). I want to wrap my parents in cotton wool and never let age, or disease, or any heartache or horror touch them again. I don't want to face their inevitable decline. I don't want them to leave me. I love them and I want to share chips with them on other Saturday afternoons out. I want to buy them ice cream on the seafront. Most of all, I want to have the patience to listen to them when they're being trying or difficult.

GD: Listen to an odd mix of Echo and the Bunnymen's Seven Seas combined with the husband's crow from below snoring mixed with Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here belting through the floor...

Burning the Witches With Mother Religious, that's me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lights and Tunnels

Sometimes you don't realise it until it's halfway out of your mouth. What you're saying. What it actually means. That, fuck ~ it's the truth.

I've been proper poorly this week. Again. On my return to work interview I was reassured that I have not let things slip and that I am working above and beyond the call of duty (or at least my job boundaries). I don't do this to score brownie points. I do it because I probably don't have anything else to validate my self worth on.

Redundancy has become really scary, even though it is still some months away. My manager was trying to reassure me, but then I heard it actually come out of my mouth. What I've been trying not to say.

'I've kept it together in the past because I always had work as the light. Now there is no light at the end of the tunnel.'

It hit me then, that it his is true. My life is measured against my performance albeit in a job I adore. Stupidly adore. I don't get paid any great wage. I have zero career prospects. But I have a certain autonomy of judgement. I am in control to a certain degree, within certain boundaries. I see good things happening because of my judgement. I work with a lovely team of people in a beautiful city. I have flexible working conditions that allow me to be a good employee even when I'm ill. And it's all being taken away from me.

So no more light. Nothing on the horizon to fill it. I am loved at home yes, but I am caught in my own illnesses, forced to realise that my capacity to earn, to be independent is over. I can no longer work full time - my body just can't handle it. I have to ask for so much from other people who are stressed to capacity in just dealing with their own issues, never mind mine.

This is a horribly cliched post, with stock imagery and phrases. I'm tired, though it's no excuse. Many people are tired, as they keep pointing out to me. Do I have to spend the rest of my life biting my tongue because I am beholden to them?

GD: possibly a bit over wrought. Reading Preacher: Gone to Texas because I need the humour and the jaundiced outlook on life. Listening to Pink Floyd's Division Bell which made me cry and get out of bed when it reached the twin hammers of Coming back to Life / Keep Talking

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Today

Today the following happened:
  1. It rained so hard on my walk home that the dye from my new blue vest ran and turned my thrupenny bits blue
  2. I succumbed to temptation and bought a green velvet coat that I don't need but didn't seem able to live without
  3. I reacted strongly to perceived criticism and induced a hissy fit in a transvestite
  4. I started yet another fraud investigation at work
  5. I ate most of the millionaire's shortbread in the office (but don't tell anyone else!)
  6. I scoured all the places I want to work for either a job or a PhD Fellowship and didn't find a single suitable vacancy anywhere
  7. I watched tiny silver fish darting about in rock pools on the beach ~ well at least until the dog jumped in it to see what I was doing!
  8. I listened to a very odd mixture of Abney Park, Billy Joel and Lady GaGa whilst commuting
  9. I became hugely engrossed in Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, which I would never even have considered were it not a book club future read
  10. I didn't finish the short story I am entering in the Story Tyne Competition (deadline - Saturday). Story title ~ As The River Runs, So I follow.

So that was my day. A perfectly normal, ordinary day. And now I'm just a bit shattered, with a toe nibbling dog being the perfect companion.

GD: wrapped up in a red and white checked blanket; watching CSI in peace cos the boy is still at work ('Not CSI AGAIN?!); wondering how to get dye out of skin as old fashioned soap and hot water have failed and me bits are still blue!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Snobbery

Work takes me to interesting places. Well, interesting if you like to watch people the way I like to watch people. Like an anthropologist, with curiosity but not necessarily wishing to be emotionally engaged. So it was I found myself off to give a talk in what is considered a deprived area of the North East.

It is a little rough, admittedly. The metro station was swarming with ticket inspectors and police corralling the fare dodgers into a corner pen of shame, little black books waggling. On leaving the station I was faced with two choices: turn right and head to the venue where I was giving the talk and be forty five minutes early (I am mentally incapable of turning up anywhere late), or turn left and visit the local high street.

I turned left, reasoning that a bottle of water may be in order for the talk (two and a half hours of my own voice, even I get bored). The first thing that struck me was the stink - vomit. Seems the locals make like the Romans and drink to excess, pausing only to purge their stomachs to allow their session to continue. Except in their case the vomitorium is the high street.

Skipping past the noxious puddles of vomit I began the quest for a bottle of water and quickly concluded that healthy options were, well, not really an option here in the hinterland under the shadow of the looming architectural feature known as the Wall. The first two hundred yards took me past three Greggs* shops. All on the same side of the street. All full of punters, resembling ghostly beach balls.

I sought out the local post office. This was conveniently located between two of the aforementioned Greggs, in a Subway. The stench of sugar filled bread and reconstituted meatballs was almost worse than the vomit. Almost. And no bottled water. On requesting such a pure form of liquid I was greeted with an expression of such sublime confusion that one would have thought I'd asked why E=MC2.

There is a shiny new public complex, with an Olympic sized swimming pool and library behind the high street, with a small piazza where you can sit and watch the pigeons shag. Or the more entertaining spectacle of the drunks falling off benches, being chased by the local riot police (unbelievably HUGE) and (yes, you've guessed it!) vomiting on their shoes. I was wearing a back pack as I was carrying handouts and was acutely aware that I was being singled out by chavs as a possible easy theft target. I saw not one person entering the public building to improve either their mind or their body.

So I was sat smug in my middle class security in my pretty little frock with appliqued flowers at the neck, my swishy clean hair and pertness at odds with the surroundings when it struck me I was basically voyeuring at other people's lives the way that they slurp in Big Brother or the car crashes that are Lindsay Lohan, Katie Price or Kerry Katona***. I forget that structurally our lives have probably been pretty similar: substance dependent parent, one parent family upbringing, parental mental illness, social housing, midnight flits. I do think phew, I got to live away from vomitville. I drink it in like an episode of Shameless.

Eventually I need to get to my talk or I'll be less than fifteen minutes early. It's in a local fire station, shiny new and full of cute firemen who are unfortunately shy and ask for the blinds to be shut in the community room so I can't ogle them lustfully during boring moments of my chat.
I turn to the task at hand. After being shouted at for five minutes by someone I can't give a grant to because they are ineligible ("Blame the government, mate. They make the rules"), I take a deep breath and introduce myself to the local crowd.

And pause. Reassess. These people have travelled to see me. Just me, in the hope I can help them and the projects close to their hearts to get a little bit of cash to do something that's a bit of a treat. Even if it is just preserving the local cemetery. Taking a group of arthritis sufferers in their seventies out for lunch. Provide free care relief for those caring for people with dementia, Parkinson's - the list goes on. Local people, growing up in the abysmal shadow of the Wall. They ask intelligent, insightful questions. They talk passionately about their groups and what they do, their small communities that have no other support than that of friends. I talk to each group individually, give them advice, applications forms, business cards, reassurance that someone thinks what they're doing is worthwhile. Nearly three hours later my bottle of water could have been drunk five times over and I'm hoarse of voice.

People hugged me. They thanked me for going and spending time with them. They discussed my age and wanted to know about my life, my husband, my dog - where I came from and what made me relate to them. I found myself giving them anecdotes about my family that they laughed at knowingly. I discovered that I probably have far more in common with them than I do my Evangelical Christian neighbours (lovely though they are), or the people at no. 5 who breed diseased and malformed pedigree dogs.

I realised how profoundly wrong my first impressions of the place had been. Yes, it is still dripping in vomit, saturated fats and an average BMI of 35. However, it is far more than that. So much more beneath the surface that I wouldn't have seen if confined to my arms length people watching that bred only superiority and contempt. Or my ivory tower office perch.

I left the fire station emotionally exhausted but with a profound sense of well-being. As I sign off the first of the cheques to these groups I feel privileged that I can actually do something to give them a boost, even if I know my contribution is ephemeral in nature - what counts is their ability to work as a community and to understand that sometimes means putting aside the self and becoming the many.

I am so lucky, to do a job I passionately believe in and that once in a while proves to me that there is still good in humanity (though when I'm assessing the obviously fraudulent groups my language may suggest otherwise...). Shame the new government is taking it off me next year thanks to budget cuts. My small grants go a long way to make peoples' lives better. Hell, they go along way to making my life actually worthwhile.

What on earth am I going to do next?

GD: listening to Amanda Palmer Radio on Last.fm which is fabulous. Even if it is all rather heartbreaking. Reading the Belgariad by David Eddings for probably the twenty fifth time. Going out to play tonight for the first time in months with her best mate (and our spousal units). Breaking the writers block that's been plaguing her for months.

* Greggs being a bakers of lardy, high fat stodge selling only high sugar drinks, cakes and other artery busting treats.
** Chav - hmmmm, how do I even start to describe this sub-species of humanity to my non-English friends? Visit ChavTown here which is rather amusing.
*** English versions of Lohan, equal amounts of surgery but less talent. Honestly.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Retreat

There is a reason I haven't been about. Namely this:
And this (obviously, that's not me!):
The associated solitude of just being in a wood in your own space is fantastic, with frogs and fish and the ongoing battle against the Himalayan Balsam to be waged (invasive non British weed that stinks to almighty Hades and murders British wild plants. We really are weedy in this country).

However, whilst the outside is pretty fabulous, indoors is a little more catastrophic and there will be no staying over for a little while yet until a new back wall has been installed. There are also a multitude of spiders. I am also reliably informed that being nettled on a constant basis is good for my immune system, having sat on one of the blighters recently I am yet to be convinced!

Check out our ming pit of a bathroom! It smells like the tunnel to Tarterus in there, believe me. So that's where I've been hiding. Outdoors and getting physical. Probably good for me!

GD: listen to bad 80's vinyl; waiting for the buggers at Fed Ex to actually get their scabby arses here with a late parcel; wondering why there are so many sirens going off in the distance

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why books are the most wonderful creation

'What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.'
Carl Sagan. What an astonishing man.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Sound of Inevitability...

...is gravity taking my chest to the floor and boing-ing it back again.

Now I don't know where you are at this point in your life, but me? I'm in the skids. At the stage where it all begins to creak a little. Now I'd never really considered how I'd feel about this. A little sad, maybe, at the passing of the years and that youthful bloom in my pretty lil cheeks. Truth is, I was cushioned by the fact that as a five foot tall smiley little woman with dimples and freckles, people always mistook me for ten years younger than what I actually am.

But machines can see through the freckles. They diss the dimples. You get on that Wii Fit board and there is no mercy. There is no hiding your actual weight. Your BMI flashes before your eyes, orange and bold in that dreaded 'overweight' category. The cellulite on your once flat stomach ain't telling the lie - it's you that is a little delusional!

I suspect I was aware that gravity was taking it's toll, as the scaffolding to hold me up and in becomes ever more weighty. I always had an hourglass figure, fierce bosom, nipped in waist, generous (very generous) hips. But even I have to admit I am beginning to morph more towards the shape of the average British woman who appears to have abandoned the concept of a flat stomach and cinched in middle to resemble that dreaded muffin top, rather than a normal pert female. And I don't think I'm quite ready to give it up just yet, despite the gentle convexing of my once dinky mid section.

So my Wii Fit age. I blame the balance and lack of core strength for the travesty of being seventeen years older on the plastic board than off it (not the cup cakes and lack of exercise, then huh?). But hey! With a little bit of Hula Hooping fun, I can regain some of my youthful zing! I can sit and watch that candle flicker and burn and exterminate moths (don't ask....) and build my core strength with impunity. But can I head a ball? Can I hell (though I did belatedly realise that I had the Wii Fit board pointing in the wrong direction...)!

So I sit here humbled. My doctor pronounced me almost fit on Friday, despite the ME / muscle aches / viral illness / vasovagal syncope. I have no excuses! Not even my misaligned back (tip: don't attempt curved marble steps when you're even half as drunk as I was when i fell down them and spannered my right hand spine alignment....) should really stop me, which is why I'm off to the osteopath's next.

Who knows when the Wii Fit age will come even close to my real age? How long will it take me to lose that four pound that stands between me and 'normal'?!

Hell, I still have the dimples and the freckles so life ain't all bad!

GD: obsessed with the Clockwork Dolls; watching the fishies at her shack (and the frog! I have a frog!); reading yet more Joe Abercrombie!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Codiene~Cloud

I believe that in other countries codeine is a prescription only drug, due to it's heroin type characteristics. Synthetic opiate. These laws must have been created by a man who didn't have to spend three days crumpled over their innards, moaning and leaking and positing about how dreadful it is to be a woman. These three days per month would be a write off for me should my drug of choice be removed. For three days I ride it's cloud, surfing through the highs and lows of giving one's self over to something that whacks my brain pretty much into the stratosphere. Having seen my father's reaction to pethidine in hospital last year I suspect it's a family trait, but at least I don't go running about naked, screaming that Nazis are holding me prisoner.

So today I'm on the gentle rise into the blue and it's just beginning to colour my judgement. Everything is peachy in my head. That curl in my womb isn't really happening. Peeling potatoes may be dangerous, but I'll smile benignly at the knife when I slice my finger top off.

Tomorrow we'll reach a peak and the grey matter will become, well grey and matted. I'll meet my mum for lunch and avoid wine, because baby - that combination is just lethal. So parsnip soup and apple juice for me, and I may be allowed caffeine for pudding! She'll tell me how tired and saggy I look, I'll smile vaguely and pop some more pills. Then I'll sleep like a dream (one where clowns become edible and have sausages for fingers) and wake to day three of oblivion - the day I go to work.

I shall attend my annual appraisal in a fug of happiness and contentment whilst the demons gnaw my disintegrating belly. My manager could tell me I was Myra Hindley and I won't notice. Nor will I notice her castigate my customer service skills, my inability to stop saying sorry and the surreptitious increase in my targets for the year ahead. Great.

Day four and reality bites. Sudden withdrawal from nirvana prompts cold shakes and paranoia. It really does happen that swiftly. I dread to think how bad it could be if I took my little panacea for a full week! On the bright side I no longer walk like a constipated baboon.

So the drugs do work. But they pack one fierce punch that I should respect heartily.

Five pm. Time for medication round 2....

GD: slightly stoned; listening to Billy Joel's Innocent Man. Again; reading Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself which is jolly good; frightened of the potatoes....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Breathe Again

I've pivoted. Swung about. Considered the options and made some moves. Life is one big game of chess after all, which would be OK if I was strategically able. However, I'm not dumb so we'll use that as our starting point.

I'd been a little jaded and tired. I'd also been sucked into a virtual world where the online players purport to be your friends when in actual fact we're all just facades desperate to portray ourselves as something more than what we really are. I woke up and smelt the coffee elsewhere one day, and went cold turkey. Two weeks of sobriety later I can now turn on the Internet and only twitch slightly when the address shows in the toolbar.

The catalyst? It was a surprise actually. Though I read a great deal I wouldn't have imagined that a book could affect me so profoundly that it would invade my dreams, my psyche, and just nag away quietly, calling into question the very foundations that I've built my life upon.

Oh, I don't expect people to have the same epiphany from the same book. We're all different, after all, despite the homogeny of so called diverse interest groups. The book in question was by a much loved author, William Horwood, his first in fifteen years. I used to devour his books, there is a rare, beautiful and excoriating vein of sorrow that threads through them. And he got the idea of love as redemption way before JK. Rowling used it as a shield for Mr Potter.

So Hyddenworld. The book. It's a stately read. Leisurely, across it's 500 pages and there are parts which if I'm honest are more telling than showing with a little bit of slippage. Simple, evocative language. Themes that are familiar in many ways (I kept thinking of Borrowers more than Hobbits) and the magical boundaries of this country that I live in, England which I now wish to refer to forever as Englalond. Faithful attention to the legend of Imbolc.

The humans (and giant Hydden). Cast up on a shore of pain, yet moving forward in a voyage of self discovery. What really set this book apart for me was their depiction. We all know that some people are evil. However, in this book there were people who let life unfold for the beauty of it, and discovered joy and love without gratuitous description. I hadn't realise how much I wanted to read a book like this until I read it. It's...wholesome. But not in a preachy manner.

So I read this, and whilst my heart gave it five stars my head gave it four. Skallagrieg (by the same author) gets the perfect five.

Then the dreams started. Really powerful, peaceful dreams that begun the night I finished reading it. I won't go into the details, but it's like the first time you make love with someone, and I mean love - not sex. You can have the passion, the urgency of sex but there's something more, a connection that grabs you in the pit of the stomach and jumbles everything you thought you knew about everything but it really doesn't matter because you've found something real in a world of fakery.

The world spun a little, tumbled from its empty course and I began to think. Really think, about who I am and who I want to be. I sent off that PhD application (decision pending), I challenged the status quo at work. I made a second offer on a shack in the woods with falling down walls and a puddle underneath it, because I love the silver fish that play in the pool below (another decision pending!). I looked at my husband in a different way, the way I did when we first met and thought about what it was that I love. Why I love.

He says I've been different. Smiley, warm. More affectionate. Happy. I think he's right. I want to laugh again. We've been so bowed down with grief and responsibility that to move towards any sort of optimism is a bonus. I'm downscaling in some respects and focusing on what's actually become important. Discarding the superficiality of a sub-group that demonise their own for daring to be normal (I have always said, define normal....). I will stay on the fringes, happy in my own skin.

So new skin (literally, the blue on this blog skin matches the new paint on my study walls). New focus. If the things I'm seeking don't happen, then at least I've tried. I know I can make the decisions that matter.

I feel somewhat like self help manual with this post, gods help me that's not what it's meant to be. Merely an explanation of why I've been gone so long. There will be lows ahead; there always is but I hope I can look past them.

Thank you, Mr Horwood. Again. Now where are the next three volumes?

GD: star gazing, waiting for the phone to ring; listening to From Dreams and Angels by Abney Park; reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring is coming

And with hopefully a little bit of sunshine. I've been AWOl, for a myriad of reasons - the least of these will be resolved tomorrow with the arrival of my new desk and my ability to actually work in a structired environment after four month's study exile.

Back soon

GD: avoiding the unavoidable; admiring her croci; reading, reading, reading, reading....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paul's Little Mum

Little Pim-Pom Pam,

Dancing now on the stars with Moon Man Johnny, be at peace and be forever happy.

All our love, Paul and Jane xxxxxx

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tower of Song ~ Leonard Cohen


Things have been a bit rough about here recently. So, short post just to say that physically I appear to be fine (which given what a horrible month it's been is frankly a relief). At some stage I'll be back, but for now my keyboard is mute.

I'll just leave you with Mr Cohen and a bit of mellow crooning.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pressure pressing down on me...

Hospital appointment this morning. An hour late (that's fine, a doctor was off sick). One hour later, sent to see Doctor Death (female). In serious need of HRT and / or hair dye and colour (grey, grey and more grey). Unable to speak as she had a pre prepared speech that bore no relevance to me because I already do what she was suggesting.

Realise pretty quickly that thought is futile. Try to point out that her recommendation I drink 5 plus cups of caffeinated coffee a day is ridiculous as I have IBS and would have to wear kangas to leave the house - not good on public transport. Mort continues on her dreary monotone, then announces that I'll be fainting for the next two to five years sporadically and that she's discharging me. Advise her that I have more tests next week for my kangaroo blood pressure. Bintoid obviously hasn't read notes...bintoid blames blue asthma inhaler for elevated heart rate - tell her I never use the blue, but that my daily steroids can cause disruption to blood pressure rhythms. Am told I'm imagining it....

Leave room looking for axe, cleaver, knife....settle for bacon sandwich, cake and decaff tea. Beyond furious. Blood pressure elevated...

GD: working from home this pm which is a very good thing! Listening to Radio 2, reading Submarine by Joe Dunthorpe which is a bit useless truth be told, contemplating a mammoth and unecessary amazon order of joy!

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Times They Are A Changing

What would New Year's Day be without sharing just a little bit of it with Dorothy and friends in the magical land of Oz? She's currently skipping through trippy poppy fields towards Emerald City and that mad old despot, the Wizard. So as my attention wanders about gently, what better time to catch my scrambled wits and consider the year that was...

In my world this year, all things came with a lively sprinkling of True Blood, and the theme tune by Jace Everett wormed its way into my skull (along with some pleasant mental reserves of Sam the Were Collie butt naked) and onto my I-Pod. All I can say then, I wanna do bad things with you!


I basically devoured the Charlaine Harris novels in three weeks. Lightweight, occasionally a bit silly but essentially good humoured and enjoyable fluff, the TV series has taken these vampire bites and turned them into uber sex crazed but utterly compelling viewing. hey ho - at least the majority of the nudity is rather buff gentlemen for a change (thank you Alan Ball. Oh, and thanks for filling the Six Feet Under void very nicely!).

Musically, I stalled. Nothing new to report. Even the new Muse CD was disappointing, though I do adore Uprising. (aka the Doctor Who theme tune). My favorite song - Undisclosed Desires - is basically Depeche Mode in Teignmouth clothing, so all in all not impressed. The only little ray of sunburst on the horizon was Paloma Faith, with her big hair and quirk. All else left me a bit cold.

I've read quite a few books this year, and loved the following three: Stella Duffy's Room of Lost Things, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, and How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall. The Sarah Hall book was one of the most beautifully lyrical pieces I have ever read, the four individual narratives weaving in together through time and geography and a sense of loss that pervaded throughout. Absolutely beautiful. Actually, none of these books were particularly happy, all had loneliness and loss as central themes and each one was beautifully realised. I couldn't pick one that stood out more because they all had a different resonance. All had small faults that never the less did not distract from what wonderful reads they are. The worst book I read was Alice De Smith's Welcome to Life (Amazon won't let me publish my review online because I panned it, the swines!) - the emotional vacuum at the heart of this book and the truly trite handling of the ending was not hidden by the vacant, pretty prose I'm afraid!

Films, I disliked Inglorious Basterds against all my expectations. Really, really underwhelmed. Liked Let The Right One In, Watchmen and Star Trek (just loved the humour of it all). Termintaor: Salvation was just pointless. Harry Potter ok, the Alan Rickman factor elevating it somewhat.

The rest of the year has been spent skating along on work and stress and parents in hospital, with all that entails. I've been exhausted, ill and snarky. Quite frankly, I have on occasion been a snot! There have been some positives - a truly lovely day out of life on Halloween at Whitby in the sun with P eating chips and nachos (simple pleasures are coming to mean a great deal). The wonderful staff in my local NHS, from my GP to the consultants, even if it did on occasion appear to be like some sort of medieval torture with all the straps and suspensions and sprays in the mouth (and I still have more tests to go). Blackbirds nesting in the clematis giving several weeks of entertainment and anxiety. My dog's utter loveliness and stroppiness in equal parts, with unlimited toe nibbling for good measure. Starbucks ginger loaf cake. Rediscovering Dr Hook and Billy Joel (lashings of cheese!). New friends made in new places. Old friends and family, and their warmth and generosity when needed. And not least, P, still the only person who knows how to make me laugh out loud, who makes my hot water bottle every night without being asked and will forever be my tea bitch.

GD: waiting for David Tennent's last ever Doctor Who episode, with chocolate cheesecake reserved for this momentous event; reading Wicked by Gregory Maguire which is very funny and ever so slightly twisted; thinking the world looks very pretty all white and glowy, but its still the same old cracked pavements underneath!