Nine Days

Cats have nine lives. Maybe I could be a cat, and each day could represent a life. A life is a very long time, folks. It is certainly long enough to revise for a final exam comprising of several literary books from several different eras.

The rest of the lives I could use for much needed revision.

Nine days is not enough, how do cats do it.

Speaking of cats. Oh sigh. Such a big big sigh. I am miserable.

My inlaws got a cat on Thursday. She is a beautiful little thing, around five years old, and we’d got her from a lady who is travelling for two years. They say you shouldn’t let cats out for the first two weeks because they need to settle, and they would only just try to find their way to the home they know if they are let out.

So we were terribly vigilant about keeping doors and windows shut.

The darling little creature stuck only to the front room, where she hid under the sofa at first, but then gradually began to come out and lounge on the window sill and meander around the room, letting us tickle behind her ears and stroke her soft, warm fur.

We tried to make her go into other rooms but she would always race back to the front room. She still needed to get used to the place.

This morning at 6am I opened the kitchen window, closing both kitchen doors so she wouldn’t come in. I knew she wouldn’t anyway, she never left the living room! But, you know, just in case.

I accidentally left the window open when I left. It was only a sliver. But I am sure enough for any kitty to get through.

I got a text from my sister in law when I was in another city at around 8am asking if I had seen the cat.

She is missing.

I feel so so awful and terrible and weighed down because I think it is all my fault. My husband thinks it might not be me, because his dad went out late at night and left the front door open. But it might be me. And everybody thinks it is me. And the cat is missing, and her old home is more than 20 minutes away in the car.

I am so worried that I can’t focus on my revision for my exam in nine days, and I know everybody will blame me and the kids will hold a grudge against me (because they are the kind of kids to do that, at least one of them is) and the poor cat wandering about all lost and scared in new surroundings and it’s all just awful awful awful.

Poor kitty.

 

Drayton Manor

Today is promising to be a great sunny day just like yesterday, when I left my assignment to go on a trip with Year 1 to Drayton Manor. The heat was incredible yesterday. The kids peeled off their layers one by one and guess who was stuck with all the jumpers, ey? That’s right. It was moi. It wasn’t too bad, though, I enjoy kids, they do have some insightful information.

One six year old told the man who manned the ride that she was half Egyptian (she goes around telling everybody that, I don’t know why, and her voice is so loud that she demands to be heard. She doesn’t half make us laugh, though) and then he started speaking to her in broken Arabic! They got on like a house on fire, which was hilarious.

A Teaching Assistant and I escaped for a moment to go on one of the crazy adult rides, while the kids were having lunch. I reckoned we deserved it. We wanted to go on Apocalypse but the teacher i charge of Year 1 was really strict and made us all stay together even though each teacher was responsible for four kids so it would have been alright if we separated.

She made us go to the zoo where we wasted two hours, and got really angry when the other two teachers and their charges wandered off to go on the rides again. School politics.

Needless to say we were disappointed, and the whole point of Drayton Manor is the RIDES, of course! Well, I hope next time we go with somebody who will let us have some free reign and allow the kids to have fun.

Also, perhaps I should have been more assertive and taken charge, especially when I noticed my kiddos acting up out of boredom.

I did suggest that we split up but she said no, and obviously I did not want to risk any damage, so I stayed silent after that.

Anyway. It was a good day, the kids were tired out and fell asleep on the coach home and it was difficult to wake some of them up, but we managed it in the end. One of the kids grabbed my hand with her sticky little paw and exclaimed, ‘Miss, this is the BEST TRIP EVER!’ and I thought, well, kids don’t let things bother them half as much as adults do!

Anyway, my sister in law and I were thinking we would drive our mums and siblings (excluding the older boys such as my husband and brother) to Drayton Manor one fine day in June. We reckoned we would make the mums let the kids have a day off school but the mums seemed dubious about that. If we go on a regular holiday day it would be too packed! And I would definitely go on Apocalypse and G Force and all those crazy scary roller coaster rides that I could only stare at longingly yesterday. Yaaaas!

When I got home it was around 6:30PM and I worked solidly until 11:57PM when I submitted with only three minutes to spare! Whew. That cut it close.

Now I have to keep my nose to the grindstone because I have a day school tomorrow, a submission on Monday and plenty of exam prep! I am pleased, though, the summer is looking enticing. I will be away from D a lot, which is sad and I don’t want to think about that too much, but my father and I are going to Morocco to see his mother (who I don’t know very well because I’ve only seen her about eight or nine times in my whole life!) and I am looking forward to that. I shall get quite brown, which is a lovely change, and shall get to know my father’s side of the family a bit better.

Adieu, and I hope you have a great weekend!

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Rainless.

Once upon a time everything was fine.

People did what they had to do, wrote their assignments on time, and submitted excellent essays brimming with poignant points with legitimate quotations and impeccable referencing. They researched on time, and read all the books they needed to well in advance.

They did not stress eat chocolate until they were too sick to move, their sticky fingers flying over the keyboard at a thousand miles a second, and they certainly did not forget to brush their teeth two days in a row and wear a STAINED dress to work.

They also studied very hard for their exam not one week in advance, but five. They were nice to their husbands and made an effort to not look like a plastic bag with greasy hair, and they were not anxious and did not have separation anxiety when their husband told them he was staying in the next city for a month because this travel is getting too hard.

They did not silently cry in secret and fume over not going with said husband.

They did not miss the gym for three weeks despite paying £25, and they also understood everything perfectly and didn’t speak rubbish.

They were good and clean and tidy and healthy and mentally well equipped to handle life.

They were not named Lenora Sparrow, but some other name that was nice and sensible and did not reek of late submission and missed personal deadlines and/or goals.

That reminds me, I need to call my dad and discuss flights, write that amazon review I promised to write and read a tonne of things, also clean this place and myself up and lesson plan for this afternoon as well as finish 1200 words by tonight and make sure my car has petrol in it for tomorrow.

 

Time Soars

Just finished reading the Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon for my next assignment. When I logged onto the university website I realised it was due in five days, and my 4k word assignment in seven.

Where did time go? WHERE?

The book was mighty eye opening, and I didn’t understand why they didn’t go home even though they were lonely and unhappy. I mean, sure the money was an issue, but even those who raised it didn’t go home.

That is curious, see? It’s the idea of an illusion that they are still chasing, even after ten years (in the case of Moses). And I was suddenly gripped with the fear that what if I end up like that, always chasing my dreams but never quite getting there.

Well, the first step would be, of course, to ace this assignment, and then ace my exam.

‘Tis a sweltering day, folks, and the masses have left their humble abodes to parade about the city slowly peeling off their layers to reveal the pasty skin they have kept under wraps for the majority of this confusing season. But the temperatures have soared, and roofed places are stuffy, so sitting in this glass library which is acting like a green house is punishment enough.

Although I have to say I am enjoying dissecting Lonely Londoners.

Adieu, and happy Saturday, and Happy Mother’s Day to those celebrating today. We had ours back in March 🙂

 

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.

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Procrastination.

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I drew. Damian tidied up my rough edges and colour spillage. I’m the messy one, he is neat and meticulous. It was 3am. We were drunk on fatigue. Saturday night, laptop screens illuminating the room with poorly constructed sentences about topics neither of us cared about. We spent forty minutes drawing procrastinating.

There is something so divine and therapeutic about lazing about and drawing, taking turns together, knowing full well there are assignments to be submitted by 7pm tomorrow.

The house is dark and still. There is complete silence, save for the tap tapping of the pencil on the screen.

March

 

The sun has not yet risen completely, it struggles through some pinkish clouds, a colourful backdrop to the silhouette of a cherry blossom tree, now downy and pink. The car door of a 2005 Nissan Micra opens, a black boot with the toe worn away is pulled into the driver’s side, the door slams shut. Engine rumbles. BBC Radio 4 starts, 7:25am with a discussion on whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union.

I don’t have many thoughts on the matter. I know most politicians are arguing their cases based on personal gain. Nobody really cares about what will happen to the rest of us. Are we safer? Are we more susceptible? I’m inclined to stay, mostly because I don’t like massive change. The last time we had such a big change, bombs were being thrown down on London.

Boots walking on the pavement. Sometimes trainers. Sometimes wet, sometimes dry. Sound of ice scraper scraping away frost off the windows of my Nissan Micra. Ice chips flying over the edge of the windscreen, breath clouding as red-cold fingers tap the ice scraper on a red brick wall, and slip it into the car door pocket.

Knocking on a wooden door.

Bags and shoes clattering down a narrow corridor. Two boys clambering into my car, shoving each other as they do.

“Don’t talk to strangers!”

“Have a nice day!”

A blue scarf is wrapped around my neck, a light blue jacket, slightly rumpled, adorns my shoulders. I carry a black backpack, containing my laptop and all my study books.

Into the glass library, hot cup of black coffee swirling, loud tapping on a keyboard.

A cough. Two coughs.

Chatter over books.

Chatter over chips about books.

A pile of books falling on the table, feverish thumbing through the pages. Hours stretched out in the Glass Library on the sofa, the light from the laptop screen heavy illumination in the dimness of the library at midnight.

The frost stops.

I say goodbye to my family who are going to visit my dad for Easter. I didn’t go with them because I am bogged down with assignments.

D and I travel to March, a small town with one high street and a quaint little museum. We have a Subway, buy some books from a charity shop, and drive on to Sutton Bridge. It’s windy and cold and barren, and nobody walks along its narrow streets. Lots of houses are run down and empty, graffiti scrawled on their broken walls. We drive to Hunstanton beach the next morning, and a storm drives us indoors, wet and shivering. We have jacket potatoes and tea. King’s Lynn  is empty because it’s Easter Sunday, so we watch Zootropolis in an ancient picture house. The seats are red velvet, and the ceilings are heavily designed, stained glass windows adorn the balcony looking out over the black and white tiled lobby.

The clocks go forward.

The sun shines.

The blossoms open their pretty pink and white petals to embrace the deep blueness of the sky.

I am again sitting in the dark, typing away, twenty two years old and not a day wiser, each click of the clock a loud, muffled thump as the last second of March ticks by.

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Dubliners

It has to be coherent.

It has to be relevant.

It has to all tie in together.

It has to convince her that what I have written is an accepted, intellectual and innovative truth.

This essay has to be everything, else I shall be completely miserable all summer, and shan’t enjoy the long heady days in the grass, nor any anticipated travels around this supposedly beautiful country.

And two days later, I have to submit 4000 words of pure literary genius. I have to tame my tutor’s senses and whisk her emotions away in a hurricane of action, my words ceasing to be groups of letters and becoming images floating through her mind. I want her to finish reading, and suddenly slam back down into her chair as reality hits her once more.

But how to do this, while simultaneously analysing James Joyce?

Do tell me, for I am quite lost and bogged down both intellectually and creatively.

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February

Imagine an hourglass, filled with jade crystals the size of sand grains, glittering in yellow candle light. Ten crystals or so fall through at haphazard intervals, tinkling against the glass as they tumble over each other, creating a small, gleaming emerald mound.

Those are my seconds, so small and so precious, falling away from me, just as this month fell away from me. It slipped off my shoulders like a delicate, silk wrap, and I only noticed it was gone because my shoulders started to shiver. We are promised some Arctic winds for March, folks.

This month I worked my butt off on an assignment about Wuthering Heights. The essay question asked me to discuss how Emily Bronte’s work overlaps gothic and domestic themes, and I discovered a few satirical themes on femininity and Victorian ideals hidden away in Wuthering Heights. Wasn’t I pleased with myself.

I got my paints out on the 29th of February. Time to get those rusty, cricky fingers working again.

February was alright. I gained some weight this month. I know, right? Took one selfie, in which I wore some makeup and a red and black scarf. I fancied I looked quite alright. Looking at the selfie now, I’m not too sure. Chub chub on my cheeks, hair that doesn’t look quite 21 years old.

I met up with friends several times this month. Went to Birmingham for a day out, too. Goals to be more social? Tick that box please!

I felt like I connected more with my siblings this month. It’s a goal I have been struggling to achieve. We aren’t so touchy feely in this family. It’s nice to open up and hear each other out.

I didn’t call my father this month. I texted him a lot though. I should have called him. I feel horrendously guilty. He’s all alone, working hard abroad and I can’t grace him with a single phone call? Horrible child that I am. I cried myself to sleep because of it last weekend.

My husband and I didn’t do anything together this month. Last year in February we went to Venice. The year before in Feb we went to the Lake District. I dunno, I thought we might do something this year.

It was a combination of being broke and overworked, I think, that stopped us. Also since we barely talk anymore, I feel like we are disconnected. We really need to sort our life out, get our own place. But it’s not possible if he is constantly travelling and working, where is the time to talk?

Hopefully we are going somewhere nice in March. D is going to rummage in the attic to see if he can sell his old playstation or perhaps the old stereo. See, he is resourceful.

We both wanted to go to March in March because we are both born in March. March is a small town in Cambridgeshire, around forty minutes drive from the beautiful city of Cambridge. March doesn’t sound so great in theory, though, so I planned that we pass through March and explore a little before settling for a night in the almost-seaside town of King’s Lynn, which is known to be quite stunning and full of fun things to do.

I said, “We can’t go to March, our funds won’t allow it”

But he said, “We’ll find the money, and we will go.” He had so much conviction, and I believed him because he has never let me down before. He knows how to squeeze the pennies out of dry rags, does my husband.

You see the difference between us? I see obstacles, he sees problems that can be solved. When will I learn, huh?

How was your February?

10:29PM

I

Submitted

My

Assignment

Finally

After

Three

Long

Weeks

of

Brain

Fever.

You would think I would be able to now breathe a lovely sigh of relief and lounge around with a tall glass of lemonade or, given the season, a big mug of thick, delicious melted chocolate.

But no, my loves. I have another assignment due in a week and a half. Luckily this is a creative writing assessment. Still exhausting, given that I don’t have free reign and must comply with textbook standards… but it is definitely (hopefully) easier than analysing female demons in Wuthering Heights!