Shovelling Snow

Folks, I can’t keep up. There is so much to do. I feel like I am constantly shovelling a snowy pathway, only to have the snow carrying on falling around me, so no sooner do I complete one patch, then it needs doing again.

I feel like I have to keep moving because if I dare to stop for one second, I will drown.

I had a socially distanced evening last night with some other ladies. We met up in one of their gardens, the night was starry and dark and still. She had a wood fire burning, and we wrapped up warm and sipped spiced hot drinks. We talked until midnight. I have not done something like this in… years.

Anyway, it was really good. But I noticed throughout that I kept thinking of the chores I had to do and the work deadlines I had to adhere to, and even though the evening was meant to be relaxing, and I felt great after it, I felt my neck was so sore and my back muscles so tight from being hunched up in worry.

I saw a quote years ago before I had my son, which said ‘Cleaning the house while kids are growing is like shovelling snow while it’s still snowing’. It was on a fridge magnet and I got it for my mum because she appreciates humour. She also always complains about ‘us kids’ and the mess we make everywhere.

Anyway. I feel the quote is apt now, but it doesn’t just relate to kids, it relates to everything.

Someone recently said that the only reason why we feel stressed in our lives is because we want too much. I think we want what we want and we do what we think is the right thing to get there.

For example, I think to myself, why do I work? Well I work to buy my son his winter coat and shoes, to pay off bills, to put food on the table. If I decided not to work, then we would struggle to be comfortable and my son would be cold in the winter. I think sometimes people don’t have choices in these matters.

Choice, I have come to realise, is a luxury.

Monstrosity

A word must be put in for monstrosity.

It has an ugly head, but disguises itself wonderfully under the soft and peachy skin of a four year old child who is loved by everybody. She knows she is loved. She knows her smile will charm an adult, and a kiss on a wrinkled cheek will yield more affection, which she thrives on.

Her eyes are wont to fill quickly, as her heart is so sensitive, and the adults croon over her, saying what a kind and wonderful soul she has.

‘You were so sweet and charming, Len,’ my mother says.

She doesn’t know the truth.

She doesn’t know that when I was four, I used to pinch a little girl. I pinched her and she cried.

I did it again the next day.

And the day after that as well.

I don’t know why I did it. I just remember doing it. I remember feeling guilty.

So why did I do it?

What was wrong with me?

Was I guilty about doing it, or was I guilty about being found out?

If you look at photographs, you see a small child with shiny brown curly hair and a dimpled smile. Her eyes sparkle with innocence and brim with joy.

If you peep into my memories, you see lots of love. Lashings of it. I am saturated in love. I have so much that it spills easily out of me and I can make little gifts of it to give to everybody else.

So where was the love in my four year old brain when I pinched that innocent little girl who did nothing to me?

My mother doesn’t know that when I was seventeen, I thought I was in love, and did many selfish things to chase something that was bad for me.

She doesn’t know that when I was twenty three, I felt hard done by, and used my husband’s love for me to selfishly get my own way, even though another party deserved to have her whims met more than I.

She doesn’t know that I have temper tantrums, sometimes, and say cruel things to my husband, who goes out of his way to please me, and who always wants to treat me well.

She thinks I am kind, and compassionate, and sweet, and she takes comfort in the fact that a child of hers creates good in the world.

But you see, I don’t feel so good.

I feel monstrous.

I cannot sleep at night, because I cannot ask forgiveness of those I have wronged, because I am either terrified they will crash back into my life, or because they do not know I have wronged them.

I did not commit a murder. I didn’t take anybody’s rights away. They probably don’t even think about what happened because they don’t know, and even if they did, they would not think it was monstrous.

But it is.

Oh, it is.

And humanity is not perfect, nor will it ever be. Humans make mistakes, that is for sure. But I have learned one heartbreaking thing about adulthood, and that is that humans have the power to hurt others. They can hurt others without realising it, so very deeply, and they can make selfish mistakes.

The mistakes you can make, others can make too. So you really should work on treating people well, and really think about what slithers out of your mouth.

There.

That is all I have to say today.

I wanted to disguise these dark thoughts in a piece of fiction, but I don’t have it in my heart. I feel very heavy and monstrous.

I have to work on being kinder, and better, and more honest. And dear God, forgive me for pinching that girl when I was four years old, because I severely regret it. What was wrong with me?

I didn’t SORN my car.

I only have forty minutes left to do something productive. Writing this blog post is as productive a thing as any, eh?

In four days it will have been an entire month since I have left work. I have not done much since then. I have slept a lot and have vamped up my fitness regimen, but I still haven’t pumped my bike wheels (I keep leaving the pump at my mum’s house which is two hours away) and I still haven’t joined the gym. I wrote 5600 words in my ‘novel’ and I baked plenty. I also applied to plenty of jobs but nobody is hiring so I will inevitably have to wait forever and just keep trying.

I am being extortionately lazy and unproductive.

It’s becoming a little desperate.

I put off SORNing my car for so LONG that now I have to pay £50 in addition to filling out the SORN form. My front tyre is BUST and I can’t pump it up because there is no petrol in it and it is not insured so if I am caught driving it (which I can’t because the TYRE IS BUST) I will be fined £1000. Also have six points taken off my license, right? Oh I don’t know. Bad things will happen.

I kind wanna blame my husband, though? Even though it’s my car?

Listen, before you get all angry and het up about my ‘men-mysogyny’, here is why:

  1. He forced me to cancel my insurance because he was going to insure me on his car.
  2. He decided he didn’t want to insure me on his car, and refused to let me drive my own car home saying it’s too dangerous since I have only done motorways thrice.
  3. I had no car so I gave him two options, 1. either sell my car or, 2. let me pay for insurance and just drive home.
  4. He said he would sell it, but failed to do so.
  5. He said I shouldn’t insure it because he was selling it, BUT HE DID NOT SELL IT. So I didn’t SORN it thinking it would be sold. BUT IT WAS NOT.
  6. It is all his fault

Now he will be mad at the fine because it was my responsibility to declare my car off road (SORN) but HOW COULD I DO THAT WHEN HE SAID HE WAS SELLING IT?

See? So confusing.

Here is what I will inevitably have to do:

  1. SORN my car.
  2. Pay the damn fine.
  3. Smile at my husband  and pretend it was not his fault. Also don’t tell him because he will have a fit. EVEN THOUGH IT IS HIS FAULT.
  4. Sell my own goddamn car regardless of my husband’s controlling protests about my incapability to do it to his standard of perfection *rolls eyes*.
  5. Buy a better car and refuse to listen to my husband’s protests about insuring me on his car (Which he won’t do because he doesn’t trust his WIFE with his PRECIOUS). *ROLLS EYES HARD*
  6. Feel relieved that I now have my own car and don’t need to keep wasting money I am no longer earning on those damn trains.

Burnout

I am growing up.

Things are changing. My face is taking on an adult quality that it has lacked since I entered adolescence. People no longer mistake me for a sixteen year old.

I felt this acutely on Friday when a man with a badge stopped me in town. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not twenty five,’ really quickly because I knew what was coming and they usually need you to be 25.

‘Could have fooled me!’ he said, his eyes already scanning the crowds for another easy target.

Could have fooled me.

Really? Oh no.

There are bags under my eyes and they usually go within a day or two but these have been here for two months. My face is ashy and grey. My lips are purple. I don’t know why. I look fine after makeup but without it I look like a pile of lumpy ash.

Other things are changing too. I am not happy anymore. I find it incredibly hard to smile, and I am pludgering on through my days with a grimace; a combination of four hours’ sleep, and a day filled with minute planning else none of my goals will be achieved.

I complain a lot.

My tummy is bloated. (It is. All the time. Another medical mystery to solve.)

I don’t like living here.

Everything is a mess.

Stop being a child, Damian.

My tummy hurts.

I’m tired.

And I am. All the time. Every day I dream of falling back on to my bed for a nap, but it cannot happen, and when bedtime comes my brain is full of information and is busy creating a list of things to do for the next day that it usually takes me a good hour or two to wind down and be ready to sleep.

I have four thousand words to submit on the 17th of May, and two thousand five hundred for the 15th. I have a large exam for the first of June, and I haven’t read six of the eight set books required for the exam. How will I read six books in two weeks? As well as teach a bunch of kids for three hours a day and go into work for two hours a day, and chauffeur my brothers for 1.5 hours?

I can do it, of course. I already have a schedule.

But when moody madam is tired, schedules are generally hard to keep up with and I am always one to two hours behind because sometimes I can be slow.

So, I think I am growing up. I am learning to live, slowly and painfully. I don’t have my own life plan because I am living with my in laws, and usually have to follow their schedules and take my belongings wherever I go. So my wash bag and a towel along with a change of clothes comes in the car with me, along with a change of shoes and all my study books and teaching materials.

Most my showers are taken at the gym, and I usually groom myself there because the bathrooms are not always free at home and sometimes I can’t use them. It’s weird. I take such quick showers, I don’t see why its a problem. But eh, I guess I have a system now.

The epilating is hard, though. I don’t have time for that, so I try to make time. Last week I got to epilate and moisturise my legs and arms properly for the first time since December. I only had fifteen minutes before I was being called out of my room, so I hurried. But my legs still feel amazing.

D reckons I need to make more of an effort with my appearance. I do, of course. I look horrible. Just awful. I don’t feel confident to wear nice clothes because I have a stress pooch. My tummy pooches out when I am stressed and also it is always bloated so I don’t feel great making an effort with my apparel. Must get that sorted. I cut out dairy and grains, so maybe I should try just eating fruit and veg for a bit.

D says in August we can start looking for our own place. Financial reasons, of course. August can’t come soon enough.

Anyway. I am becoming better at hiding my sadness. I smile and chat away, but sometimes I show my mum my moody feelings because I can be fully myself with her. Still, it isn’t nice for her to always see me unhappy. I should make a better effort.

I don’t want to, you know? I don’t want to. And all my creativity is running dry.

rain-122691_1280.jpg

Lamenting my Toes

Today

As I wheeled by bike

Out into the wonderful outdoors

Fresh, cold wind on my face

Up my ankles

Fanning my cheeks

I heard the trees swishing their bare branches

The birds tweeting

The hills rolled away in the distance

I climbed aboard

I squeezed the handlebars

And I thought to myself

Goodness gracious me

I am twenty two in 26 days

TWENTY TWO YEARS OLD.

Only eight years or so,

Until I am thirty.

When you reach thirty, folks,

You have hit the point of no return.

You’re a true adult,

At thirty.

The truth is, folks

I still feel twelve.

In fact,

I still feel six

Looking down at my feet

To see how far off the ground is

And wonder if I’ve grown a little

I still feel small.

Nowadays,

When I look at my feet,

It is only to have adult thoughts

And lament about my long toes,

 

The coursework that I have to submit,

Or the bills I need to sort out,

Or the..

Let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

The Transition

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that it happened.

I don’t know when I went from hiding between the clothes in a supermarket, or jumping over the cracks in the pavement which were really large crevices filled with gnashing crocodiles, to trawling miserably through the same shops that I used to make magical playgrounds out of.

When I went to the hillside park of my childhood the swings were old and rusty and too small, the playhouse desperately needed a lick of paint, the grass strewn with cigarette ends and bottle caps.

Where was the vibrant green hill of my childhood? Oh, it’s just a small mound with more sand than grass.

The glorious forest of trees I used to wander through, my head craned, fascinated by the canopy high high above, is just a tiny thicket, its ground peppered with unsavoury adult things that I now know the meaning of. I look down now, not up.

Walking at night was an enchanting adventure, all the shadows seemed blacker somehow, and moved when I walked. I felt so deliciously vulnerable, safe in the knowledge that my parents were with me so I was protected. Now it is all dark alleyways, and every stranger is a potential attacker, heart quickening as I hurry along, desperate to finish my business and get safely home.

Even my childhood home is different. My old reading nook is too small, it’s only an alcove that could fit a skinny child.

I don’t know when I stopped running everywhere. Running down hills because my legs would swoosh so fast and the scenery would blur, picking all the daisies, the climbing frame becoming a castle, turning strangers into evil sorcerers and playing hide and seek with them while they walked on, oblivious. Discovering secret tunnels full of prickly thorns, that were just gaps between thick holly bushes. Always, always always finding the most fun way to get to places, catching flashes of my parents as we darted through bushes and happening upon little trails through the trees. Walking past people’s front gardens and sniffing their roses, and dreaming of the colourful arrays they had nodding at passers by.

Now I hurry on by, maybe admiring the flowers a little, but never with the radiant reverence of my childhood.

The world is still the same, folks, but the colourful film of innocence has been lifted from my vision, and everything underneath is drab and grey.

When did this transition occur? For I don’t remember it. I remember vehemently saying that I would never be as boring as the adults, but here I am, walking not running, stepping not skipping.

I miss the magic so so sorely. I try to conjure it again sometimes, when I am playing with children. Try to see the lions approaching through the trees, the swings turning into swift hover boards, the daisies twirling their pretty white skirts tinged with purple like small fairies, but the images fizzle away so quickly.

Do you remember the moment you transitioned? Or is the moment elusive to you, a slow and painful death of the allurement of life.