Gladioli

Sometimes things look down, and then they look up again, and then minutes later they droop forlornly.

Much like old tulips left in a vase too long, the water around their stalks dried up and brown.

I planted some gladioli in my garden last year, and I did not take care of the plants during my pregnancy because I was just too ill and overwhelmed. Yet some gladioli still persevered despite the neglect. Two gladioli to be precise. I don’t know what colour they will be but they make me feel happy and also fill me with regret.

Happiness because some plants thrived, and I will have a little splash of colour in my garden.

Regret because I wish I’d planted more things this year.

However I know that babies are more important and there will soon be more chances to plant pretty things, perhaps even with little grubby chubby hands helping me!

So things look up, you see.

They do. The world carries on carrying on.

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This is gladioli. Not my gladioli. 

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On an Undertaking

Hello internet. I managed to pop out a baby. Well I couldn’t actually pop him out, they had to wheel me into an emergency c section after 48 hours of labour, but I tried, dang it!  I did try. And my goodness, what a mighty undertaking that was.

I won’t go into any sordid details because that is faffy and to be honest I think I am still mentally trying to recover from the whole ordeal. It was very traumatic, actually. I cry to think about it so I don’t think about it. I suppose it is natural to cry at this stage. It’s all a mighty bombshell. As well as settling into this new shock of a life. It really is a shock, they didn’t lie. I never accused them of lying but I sure didn’t take them very seriously.

I feel a little bit as though my life has ended, in a way. But my mum says no, it is just the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. So that is ok. That is ok.

The main thing of course, is that there is a little man who has managed to steal my heart. A small little mouth and two gorgeous large eyes that are currently grey because they haven’t decided what shade they would like to be. He grunts a lot and is most patient with me, because I have had a series of problems after birth requiring me to keep going into hospital, and every time he has been so quiet and trouble free. May he stay that way.

And, I suppose I have come to say what I feel has hit me hardest these past couple of weeks. Life is so temporary, and change is so sudden. Even change that has been anticipated for nine months. That change is still sudden and a shock and they really don’t teach you that life does not come with a disclaimer.

I have not had more than 3 hours of sleep in one go for over two weeks, so perhaps I am sounding somewhat incoherent, but motherhood is very difficult. And I knew I wasn’t ready, but I think I have to power on through. And I can’t run to my mother anymore and cry my troubles to her and have her lift them gently away from me, because I am now the person that has to gently lift troubles from another little heart. I am the source of comfort and care for a little person, and that astounds me so much. It petrifies me, actually, that someone so small and tiny and incapable of even burping on his own is solely reliant on me for everything.

God I hope I can live up to the word ‘mother’ and do my best by this boy. He isn’t my property, he was given to me, and I need to take care of him as best I can before I can send him out into the world. And that, my friends, is a huge undertaking. And I have never appreciated my own mother as much as I do now.

There.

 

And how are you?

I have been off work for a month on Saturday, a MONTH, and yet I still cannot help getting onto my work emails to see what is going on in my absence.

I can see that my colleagues are snowed under, and to be honest I would love to lend them a hand. Is that weird? I don’t feel bored at home. I am very busy, I have a lot of things to organise.

But I am also very huge, and my pelvis is slowly being pulled out of place by my increased weight, and also the weight of the huge bump that is growing daily in my front. It is something called pelvic girdle pain, and I have a severe version of it. It has been hell, to be honest. I have cried at nights from the pain. A physiotherapist told me that it should go after birth but honestly I just feel disabled at this point.

I am walking like a .. a huge person that has to drag one leg behind them, and I have to keep taking breaks, and not twist a certain way else I will fall and that is dangerous, and I crawl up the stairs, and cannot get out of bed.

I also have carpal tunnel in both hands because of all the water retention, so getting out of bed with a bad hip and painful hands is … acrobatic to say the least, lol!

My baby was also breech. At a late stage in pregnancy. They did a painful procedure to twist him around but it is just a matter of seeing whether he stays that way. He is displaying signs of stubborn naughtiness. But I shall never cast it up to him what a hard time he has given me. Hopefully he will be healthy and sound and he will be worth all the trouble. It is not his fault, poor thing. He has no idea what is going on, he is just relaxing in the warm comfort of his mother’s womb. I don’t care how much hell I have to go through as long as he is safe and sound.

So I am not complaining at all. I promise. I am just listing my woes, that helps. I am usually a very fit and active person, who likes to run up stairs and do some dancing on a grey rainy morning, but now it takes me six hours to sort out the laundry and tidying and washing dishes is too painful.

So my house is gradually getting messier and messier, and I am finding it harder to take care of the very basics like having a shower.

I won’t complain. I refuse to. I know how blessed I am, and I have failed pregnancies in the past, and that was painful too, so I am so so so so so grateful.

But I am also struggling very much with the pain and feeling very low. You cannot have it all, you really can’t!

So I was just chatting to my friends and my mum and the physiotherapist and I was thinking, you know, I have so much to be grateful for. So so so much. So I shall not complain. But sometimes in the dead of night I will cry, because I am scared and worried and anxious. But I will smile and get on with it, hobbling and dragging my feet, because hopefully this is not going to last, and I know it will all be worth it.

So yes, sometimes I check my work emails, and yes sometimes I want to do some work, just to take my mind off the mountain of chores that I cannot do, and to have something logical to focus on, to stop me spiralling into a net of self pity and pain and hysteria.

Don’t lose control, that is the main thing.

Anyway, how are you?

On Sundays, people do nothing.

On Sundays, people do nothing.

Well, I don’t know what people do.

When I was a child, we lived in a hot country. And our Sundays were actually Fridays, because the first day of the week was Saturday. Weird, I know. But it didn’t feel weird when we lived there.

My mother was a powerful woman, emotionally. She is still. She could make magic out of misery, but she never hid the misery.

Some mothers cover it with a silken gauze, layers of kisses, gentle smiles and eyes full of pain, but my mother didn’t.

She sobbed in front of us, over things that were out of her control, and then visibly pulled herself together and took us to places and made us happy.

Every Friday, she organised an outdoor pool party, because there is really little you can actually do in a desert, especially back in the early 2000s, at a location somewhere on the outskirts of the city we lived in. She made it so all the families attending pitched in to pay for the daily use of a huge pool, surrounded by a garden with swings and slides and sandpits, a football pitch, and some tent-rooms for the adults to sit in and chat amongst themselves while the kids splashed in the pool under the hot sun all day. We ordered food in and dessert was a potluck of many sugary delights.

And because it was a hot country, we would go every week for most of the year, except a couple of months when it was ‘winter’ – except ‘winter’ was just mildly chilly at best.

We had something to look forward to, every weekend. And weekly school was thoroughly enjoyable too.

We had dreary weekends, of course, but nothing like I’ve experienced since coming back to live here. There is something to be said for the serotonin of sunshine, and the vitamin D of happiness!

In the UK, I don’t like Sundays.

Houses are smaller here.

Children are more cooped up, because they don’t play on the streets like they used to do in the olden days.

And there is little to do. Or too cold to do it. And people are not as social as they perhaps once had been.

Also, it’s true what they say about the UK.

It is perpetually grey.

It’s a country blanketed in dismal cloud and chill and dampness spreading its tentacles through the earth.

So it’s no wonder people want to stay in bed all day, and watch TV, and eat comforting foods like crackers and cheese and relish and cups of tea.

Smell the fresh air. It is good for you.

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English winter is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. The days are so short, though, and lots of areas are so rough, but the countryside always maintains its wondrous glory, even with bare trees, it has an ethereal allure to it. Don’t you agree?

On Things

I finally have a bit of freedom to read and write things. By things I mean blogs, of course.

My laptop was taken for a fix and for the week and three days it was away from me I anxiously called the fixing centre to enquire about my electronic child and ensure its safety. It’s back safe and sound, thankfully, and I am sitting here in a cafe using it to type these sentences.

In A CAFE?! On a FRIDAY? At 1:23pm?! How is that possible!? Well I booked a couple of days off work you see. I really needed to, I was beginning to go crazy, and growl at people on the street, and froth at the mouth if somebody dared to ask me how my weekend was.

My weekend was the same as every bloody other weekend, Janet, how was yours?

And when I say it, it comes out in a mocking tone, as though I am my brother’s older sister again making fun of what he is saying by adding emphasis to it and jutting my teeth out and crossing my eyeballs.

Anyway so I had two glorious days off and what did I do with them? Did I go hiking? Did I go to the gym, and greedily devour all the books waiting for me on my bedside table? Did I do all the things I daydreamed I would do when I was too busy to do them?

No, of course not. I cleaned my house and watched Harry Potter and had a very long nap.

And those things felt just as good as all the other grand things.

What things do you want to do when you’re too busy to do them?

 

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Painting by SheerJoy, Australia. You can buy personalised paintings here!

October Pledge

It’s Friday again. Hello Friday, how do you do? And how do you do?

In England, shops already have their Christmas decorations out. My mind is numb to it, because just a blink of an eye ago it was summer.

Oh, how I have lagged behind, folks.

Life is very difficult, and there are a lot of bends and twists along the way. Some are happy, and lots are bleak.

I have some big plans, though. Let us see if they come into fruition!

One of my large plans is to knuckle down for real this year and do NaNoWrimo like it’s meant to be done. I want to finish this novel once and for all, even if it is a shoddy mess by the time it is done.

SO, I pledge to write 30,000 words this November. The maths is very easy. That’s 1000 words a day. I think I can do it. I will also be taking off around 5 days of work this month, to focus solely on writing and planning and creating things that have been put on hold for way too long.

I have drafts of blog posts from FEBRUARY, that were meant to be published. I just didn’t have time! Life hit me like a tonne of bricks, and work is just an all-consuming, all-encompassing presence. It is stressing me out. Commuting for 2-3 hours a day, plus running my house, plus keeping mentally sane and maintaining relationships without being a selfish, paranoid arse, pardon my French, is making me fat, miserable, lonely and inadequate.

SOMETHING has got to give.

So this November, I am promising to make a new start. If my novel is finished properly by the end of December, I will have lived up to this new standard. But, first, 30,000 words in November.

Can I do this??

How have you been, fellow bloggers? Do let me know in the comments below!

 

An Uncomfortable Man

I warn you dear reader this post is a little sordid.

The earth is crawling with life. Simply heaving with it. Crawling to microcellular level. Even life is crawling with life. Our very infrastructure is bacteria.

If you get a telescope out and skim the surface of Mars, you would see no life. Remnants of what scientists say might have been, could have been life, but never life itself.

The Mars rover leads a lonely, long existence.

And in this life, we are often lonely. Some of us are. We seek connections with other people.

Some connections are entirely benign, and enrich our lives.

Others, not so.

There is a man at work. A tall man. And he makes me feel vastly uncomfortable.

I noticed it first one day when I was talking to him, and I saw his eyes meander down to my chest. Ok. That was weird. But ok. What made it more uncomfortable was that his eyes stayed there, glancing upwards into my own once or twice, but lingering there.

I brushed that encounter away. After all, it could have been anything. Maybe he didn’t realise what he was doing.

I hugged myself, crossing my arms over my chest.

I was making coffee, downstairs in the business centre news anchor on the flat screen TV hooked up to the wall droning away about something or other. I leafed through the newspaper on the countertop, the coffee machine gurgling as my coffee splattered into my cup. Then there was his voice next to me. So close it made me take a step back and clutch my neck in fright. There he was, standing so close to me I could feel his body heat radiating off him.

‘Alright?’ he said, as though nothing was wrong.

There were some Americans filing into one of the meeting rooms; they had flown over for some big event, and they were part of his agency.

‘Yeah,’ I replied, glancing at them, ‘aren’t you part of the meeting?’ I gestured. So uncomfortable, battling with my distaste.

‘It takes the piss,’ he murmured, ‘but yeah.’

Ok. So go then. And leave me alone.

When I looked at him, I was shocked at how close he was to me.

Then I began to notice it more and more. He was moved to the seat next to mine, and every so often he would lean over, too close for comfort, and whisper something conspiratorial. As though we were in this pessimism towards the company together. Something derogatory about someone or other. Some ridiculous complaint about the weather, because yes, we always talk of the weather, or some moan about the horrible traffic into work. Such normal conversations, so what is the problem?

I tried to be nice. I tried so hard, but I just didn’t want to.

It would have been easy, if I didn’t notice how he looked up every time I stood up. And he would think I couldn’t see but I could feel his eyes on me. And when I looked at him they would snap away, from my chest, from somewhere else.

I began to cross my arms when I stood up, and to scarper as quickly as I could, round the corner. When I saw him walking towards me I would pretend I hadn’t seen him, and turn the other way. Every time he caught me though, he would stand way too close. When he showed me something on my computer, I could feel his breath on my neck.

Once I went downstairs to the receptionist; we have a little repertoire, and I put my hands on the counter and leaned forward. Her eyes met mine.

‘What’s up?’

‘I really hate this man,’ I told her.

Her eyes melted a bit, they cleared as though some clouds shifted to show a sky of understanding within.

‘Go on,’ she said, grimly. And I knew she knew.

When I told her, she immediately understood. I felt validated, somehow, as though I wasn’t just imagining things. She nodded firmly at me, and then when I told her who it was she said she felt the same vibes from him. She told me to request to move desks, which I did. I only moved one seat away but it was much better.

A week later, his agency moved him to another building. I heaved a sigh of relief. I felt free again. I almost danced when I left my desk. The air in the office was cleaner, lighter. I no longer looked over my shoulder.

Another week passed, and I get an email. To my work email. Addressed to me only.

Hi Len!

What lovely weather we’ve been having! I hope you’re enjoying the sun, I certainly am!

Hope you’re doing well!

Cheers,

Name

Now, you might think I am crazy. That’s a perfectly normal email, right? Right?

And he never did anything physically inappropriate, right?

He didn’t touch me. He didn’t say anything. In fact, on the surface of it all, he was always rather nice. His email was rather nice too. So you could say I was making a mountain out of a molehill.

And I do think I might have overreacted in my mind sometimes. I have to email him back, because he is in my company, and as my colleague put it, what say he is moved back, and then he asks why I never replied to any of his emails? His new office is literally four minutes away, I can see it from my window.

But I know how I felt. I know how relieved I was when he left. I know how my guts twisted whenever he came in. I know how close he stood to me, how his hands would accidentally brush me, where his eyes would wander. That was real.

I am not complaining at all. I am just stating the fact. He was an uncomfortable man.

 

 

The March Hare

This is a re-post of a post I posted in March 2013. March is special to me, for a very self centred reason.

alice in wonderlandYes there does seem to be rather an obsession with the creations of Lewis Carroll. Can’t you find any characters of your own, Lenora, rather than plagiarise everybody else’s!? Good grief.

Well yes, but I haven’t quite invented anything to do with March, and March happens to be a very important matter in my life. For example, at some point in my life, I shall demand to visit the town of March. Given than my husband to be is also born in March, this does not seem like such a concerning possibility. The March Hare, now, is a very celebrated character and I feel as though he deserves a very special dedication.

So, here’s to the March Hare, the subtle creature whose madness is rather equal and just as potent as that of the Mad Hatter, whose loyalty to his opinion is disdainfully grandiose, and whose ability to be demeaningly gracious is marvellous to behold, and quite candidly I tell you this, but it is also terribly enviable.

Here’s to his dubiousness on whether liking what one gets is the same as getting what one likes.

Here’s to his distinctly severe attitude to uninvited sitters at his table, and here, finally, is to his ability to be rather less grumbly than the Mad Hatter, and to possess a likeable amount of gloom and absurdity.

Here is, in short, to him who stands below:

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You have decided to leave some birds in the bushes. You used to want them all.

Originally, I wanted to use this quote for a piece of fiction, but then I thought, who am I kidding? What piece of fiction would do the real-world relevance of this quote any justice?

For a bit of background, this quote comes from an uncomfortable novella called ‘Alexander’s Bridge’, written by Willa Cather. I thought it was uncomfortable because it was a little clunky and slightly underdeveloped. Also it left a morbid terror in my heart. It is short, and a good read, if anybody is interested. You can even read it for free online on this website, if you desire.

You have decided to leave some birds in the bushes. You used to want them all.

I want all the birds in the bushes. I want to be the nicest, kindest, prettiest, most skilled, most revered person about. It is a secret, but I do. I want my husband to think I am the most beautiful woman he ever saw, the most interesting, funny, intelligent, valuable. I want myself to think it, and be it, and not care so much if he or anybody else thinks it either. I want to be relevant, but indifferent to my relevance. Ugh, that sounds whiny.

I want to be the most successful, do the best, speak the most interesting and outrageous words, make an impact that will make people look up and pay attention. Maybe even influence their thought processes. Maybe create a ripple through time, affecting future generations.

But I also realise this about myself; I am lazy, I don’t think hard enough, I don’t apply my thoughts, I waste a ridiculous amount of time, I procrastinate and lie about, I don’t tie ends together, I trail thoughts in the sand until they are unrecognisable mounds to be discarded.

In short, I am not a ‘great’.

I stumble, mumble, and am naive.

It is the truth.

I have a myriad of interests, but hone none of my skills. I am only slightly good at multiple things.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

I want everything. And because I want everything, I have nothing.

There.

I need to pick a skill, see, or a couple of skills (hah, doing it again), and master it. Then I will achieve what I want to. There is not enough time in life to master everything. And if you want to master something, like I do, then you have to make a decision.

My mother says it’s our generation. Apparently we all want to be famous and rich and successful. But that isn’t what I want. I don’t want to be famous, or even rich. I just want to know I have mastered something, that I have something to offer, that I have something I can say I worked hard for and achieved, that I made a difference that is positive. That I was intelligent and applied my intelligence correctly, that people learned something important from me.

Do you want all the birds in the bushes? Or have you plucked a couple and left the rest for other people?

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Rosemary Millette artwork. Rosemary paints pictures around her hometown of South Dakota. Rosemary’s artwork has been featured on numerous state conservation stamps and she partners with many groups working to preserve wildlife and the natural world.

 

Power

As a relatively powerless person in the grand scheme of things, I have had very little experience with the phenomenon of power.

Not many people have access to it, mostly due to a lack of desire on their part to be anything in particular. Which is a good thing, maybe.

Also, there is that saying, with power comes responsibility.

I omitted the ‘great’, because ‘great’ power only applies to a minuscule fraction of humanity. Not everyone is born to be an oligarchical king. And country leaders oftentimes don’t hold full power (like Donald Trump, thank God), unless they are Kim Jong-un. They have massive responsibility, but they shirk it, to their moral detriment.

My interactions with power are few and far between. There was that teaching stint I had for three odd years. I felt mighty then. I managed many classes of 30 children, at all age levels, and I controlled them very well. I was in charge, I was looked-up-to. I had authority.

I was also responsible for anything that might go wrong. But I enjoyed that responsibility.

I wouldn’t class myself as ‘power-hungry’, but sometimes, just sometimes, I like to feel impressive.

Even if it is for a very short amount of time.

Like cruising down a highway, the beast beneath me building momentum slowly in that German way it has (no acceleration, but excellent speed maintenance), the budding strength of the car creeping up on me until I’m doing 90mph and ripping past everybody else, engine growling, wind screaming, countryside scaping.

It is the most terrifying, exhilarating feeling.

Snaking from lane to lane, outdoing other cars, hands tight on the steering wheel, sharp bend approaching, swaying with the car as it grips, oh so beautifully, to the tarmac, and round we swing.

I feel electric, powerful, mighty, fast, euphoric.

For a brief few moments, I am the queen of the roads, the devil behind wheels, the racing champion, sailing in a beast with the wind currents. The car bends to my will, and lends its strength to my desires. We become one terrible entity.

I could fly off the tarmac and tear through the atmosphere.

I could do anything.

For a brief few moments.

And then, great responsibility crashes through my power-high, and I remember the tarmac, and the speed, and pain of impact, and I reluctantly take my foot off the accelerator, and slow down, and match the humdrum pace of other commuters.

Sometimes I am forced to because humdrum commuters create obscene traffic, and how very dare they.

I guess you could say I, too, am a humdrum commuter. But I don’t see myself that way.

I am the queen of these roads. Move aside for my majestic power.