Running on Empty

Why do people say that they are running on empty?

They aren’t running.

They are just empty.

The sun can suck your energy out.

Especially if you live in a country where the sun is consistently shrouded by cloud.

Clouds of shroud.

Covering its beaming face.

When the sun comes out all and sundry scuttle from their hidey holes.

And it drains energy.

So lobster arms and legs sprawl, blistering, in the heat, empty cans hanging loosely from fleshy claws.

And people are truly, then, running on empty.

And when the sun sets, and the ashen dregs of barbecues are ground into the floor under hardened soles, the cold night air surges again, and the stars pop out to twinkle, one by one.

We never run on empty.

We just run.

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Tired Demon

You know those days when everything is a struggle?

I am having one of those days today.

I am ‘tuckered out’, as some would say. Shattered, as my parents would say. Burned out, done for, overtaxed, drained, fatigued and prostrated – as the thesaurus would say.

I had a lunchtime nap in my car, and woke up 20 minutes later than I ought to have, feeling groggy and jittery. I stumbled back into the office where the overpowering smell of onions smacked me in the face. Somebody was having an aromatic lunch. One that reeked, pungent and odoriferous, and added another irritated hindrance to the aching pulse in my head.

My head is now pounding, and there is a dull ache in my neck.

And my focus has been awful all through this long and toiling afternoon.

They say naps help when you’re tired! Well, mine certainly did not. It made me feel horrible!

What on earth has possessed me today?

A tired demon?

Well, begone, tired demon. I have work to do.

Calidity

Today is a real Monday of a day, folks.

Nobody in the office wants to talk. All conversation is terse and halted. Stumbling and awkward.

The air is heavy and thick, and breathing is difficult. The heat pounds outside on the glass, in that silent scheming way it has. Condensation forms a layer of sweat on the lips of windows, and the small puffs of air we get through the slim cracks, made so because this country is an infrastructure of Health and Safety, are few and far between.

Alex uses two screens, her hazel eyes scanning first one and then the other. Her long neck pulls her head sideways, almost like an inquisitive sparrow, but there is a look of tense determination on her face. I feel irritated every time I look in her direction, so I don’t.

She always has work to do, and when she doesn’t she actively seeks it. She is like a badger sniffing out of its set. A mouse tottering to and fro. A beaver stacking wood. A long neck waving here and there, alert and watching, snapping up a job the moment it comes through. Scavenging.  She is an honest working person but she drives me mental with her oblivious morality.

And the Woman Who Laughs is wearing jodhpurs today. Jodhpurs. And a waistcoat. And a cowboy hat. Indoors. She might as well have bells hanging from her hems.

The fields in the distance sizzle with heat. The sun shimmers on the green, a lazy haze over the slopes. Even the birds seem too tired to chirp. And minuscule cars on the distant hills glint brightly in the sun as they wind around the curling country roads. I contemplate drowsing in my car for half an hour, but the heat in there is ten times worse.

A yawn.

A clatter.

Keyboards clacking away.

A laugh, hushed.

A murmur.

A conversation in the far end of the office.

Hello. I have a query today.

Goddamnit these people never answer the phone!

I would like to go home now please.

On Christmas in Spain and British People

Christmas day for me was spent in Granada. Actually, travelling from Granada to Cordoba. In Spain.

They drive on the right hand side of the road, as opposed to the left side which is the side we stick to in Britain. This was confusing to say the least. There were several incidents where we drove straight into oncoming traffic. To say we angered the Spaniards is to make a colossal understatement.

It was a great holiday. We did not have brussel sprouts at all, which I am glad for. I went through a period in 2013 where I had brussel sprouts daily for months. Needless to day my stomach suffered horrendously. No, on Christmas day we ate dry cereal for breakfast, then for lunch we didn’t have anything and for dinner we had, well, I can’t remember. I think we had a late lunch in an Italian restaurant. We had a very cheesy pizza with almost no crust and a beschamel soaked tortellini stuffed with something sweet. It was a very cheesy meal, and also very delicious. Later that night I awoke from some very cheesy nightmares involving a particularly stinky brie. We walked miles and miles that day, I think we did around 18,000 steps. We relaxed and watched the sun set.

My husband checked some women out and I got super pissy about that. He did it blatantly and not just once but hundreds of times throughout all seven days. And it made me severely doubt the power of my booty. Which is a pretty good one if I do say so myself.

I am, still pissy about it and it has ruined my holiday and makes me not like him very much at all.

But the holiday itself was lovely. So peaceful and I saw and learned a host of incredible things about the Nasrid empire and the Catholicism that took over soon after. The battle of cultures is emphatically displayed in the magnificent architecture of the palaces and castles and mosques in Granada, Cordoba and Malaga. It’s a clash of religions and you know, it’s stunning. You can clearly see the gothic architecture competing with the Islamic designs and there are places where whole ceilings have been replaced, only to be broken in some corners and the mathematically intricate designs of the Islamic architecture carries on along the wall and some floors are mosaic and some are flagstone and you just stand there and stare at the deathly silence of it all; and if you stand very still you can hear the echoes of civilisation forming and building and living and dying and flighting.

It is phenomenal. Humans are phenomenal.

There was one point in Granada when we were exploring the Nasrid palace in Alhambra, when a tour guide was explaining the history of the palace to an older couple. I was eavesdropping very blatantly, because we didn’t get any audio guides and there was no information at all anywhere. What he was saying was so captivating, I simply could not help myself. The guide saw me eavesdropping and I felt like such a cheat. But he did not say anything, he just carried on talking. Maybe he felt I should have given him a tip at least, if I was too stingy to pay for a tour!

But oh, Spain was so beautiful. Courtyards and cobbled alleyways and mesmerising views and palm trees and thunderous beaches and orange trees galore.

When we got on the plane to go home we were surrounded by British people and I was reminded of how much I really don’t like British people. Maybe that is a generalisation. But a man of fifty odd years was swearing horrendously at his mother who was limping along using a walking stick. And he was effing and blinding in a most British fashion. And it just reminded me of city streets and uncouth louts.

And I got this super strange stare from him on the plane and it felt very judgey because of how big my bag was. But I guess I am judging him and maybe he was just reminded of another bag in some other place which made him angry. Or something.

Anyway this man who was around 65 started talking to my husband about the forty years he served in the Navy. He spoke to my husband during the entire two and a half hour flight and while I didn’t hear much of what he had to say because the general sound in the plane is thunderous, I learned some interesting things.

And I felt bad for generalising my own people. The British. We are not so bad. Sometimes we can be awful, and drink too much alcohol, and reveal our pale, hairy bottoms in airports, and be generally quite stiff and awkward, and not like to speak what we think but like to show it in a manner of tuts and glares.

But some of us serve in the Navy for forty years and others do a myriad of different things and are their own people.

And some of us are not strong because we react to emotion. A strong person is not one who can fight and win. A strong person is one who can control themselves when they are angry. That is what I learned this Christmas.

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My photo of one of the courtyards in the Nasrid palace of Alhambra, Granada.

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A stunning view over Sacramento from atop Alhambra, Granada.

 

Britain’s July

Sticky hands

Giant flies

buzzing

The loud tinkle of the ice cream van

Sun beating down

heavy, humid air

Shade and breeze

summer dresses

windows flung wide open

Because there is no air con

No air con, did you hear that?

The carpet is too hot

My pits are heavy

My head is lolling on my shoulders

Lips bright red and stuck together with countless lollies

Garden chairs

Empty plates outside

A tall glass

Glistening with condensation

Ice cubes tapping the edges gently

Fizz bubbles rising softly and bursting furiously at the top of the brown syrupy liquid

Cold

Britain’s July.

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Why do you get up in the morning?

Or don’t you like getting up in the morning at all?

I get up in the morning every day at 5:40am because my husband has to get up that early for his commute to work. I sluggishly make breakfast on the go and lunches for both me and him for the day, while he rushes about grabbing last minute things and having a shower. When he leaves I clean up our mess and fold clothes away and put a wash on and pack my bags for the day before picking my brothers up and dropping them off to school.

After that I go to the gym for two hours, have a shower, and then lesson prep for my afternoon lessons. Once my lessons are over at 2:30 I pick my brothers up from school, drop them home, and then have one hour free in which to prepare for my afternoon lessons, which last from 4pm through till 7pm.

By 7pm, my husband is returning home from work, so I go back home and say hello. Sometimes he lets me kiss him and other times he is distracted and exhausted, his hazel eyes two alien orbs sunken into his pale face, the dark circles under his eyes stark against his colourless cheeks.

But wait, I am not done yet, because although I want to just sit next to my husband and watch his shows with him, switching off as he does, I cannot. I must prepare for the next day, and study, and write, because those books won’t get written by themselves, and my degree won’t obtain itself either.

When I finally get into bed, at around 12am, my husband is as still as a log, in the deep sleep only one who is exhausted can experience. I, too, will experience it.. just… as .. soon.. as my head .. hits… that … pillow.

I get up in the morning because I have a day to conquer, a living to make, and a career to create. I get up in the morning because it is the only time I will get to see my husband, albeit for a few minutes, and give him a hug in private. I get up in the morning because I am obligated to by duty, and no, I am not always happy about it. In fact I can be despicably moody about it and drive around town with a perpetual frown on my face drawn on by constant exhaustion.

I like getting up so early in the morning, though. You see? I like it. I might not always show that I like it, I might hit that snooze button and then be half an hour late for everything all day, but I like that I can have an entire day, nineteen hours, in which to do all I have to do and complete my goals.

I don’t always complete all my goals, of course, and some days I am so sluggish I can barely think, but the weekend always beckons me, with bright sunshine and promise.

It doesn’t always fulfil that promise, though, but it does let me have a lie in with my husband in the mornings. It’s sad, but I look forward to that the most all week. Just a few extra hours, to talk about what’s happened all week, or have a laugh about something, or plan for the days when we can be together properly, without family in the way, without other obligations, without being in a hurry or being too exhausted to speak.

I look forward to those days, and I guess, that is really why I like getting up in the morning.

Why do you get up in the morning?

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Oleg Riabchuck

 

Love Letters #11

He was a golden boy. His skin was gold; glowing in the shade of the shop. His hair was gold, glinting like purely spun element. His eyes were gold; two melting pools in his tan face, drawing her in, biding their time, slowly leading her over the edge so she could fall right into them and it would be warm and so sweet.

She could stare and stare and stare. But she didn’t, of course. She just nodded at him, distracting herself with the shopping which he scanned through for her.

Eggs. Milk. Bread. Generic. Generic. Generic. Oh, Thyme. Fresh parsley. Mmm, that smelled great. A stick of rock candy for Peter. She eyed it longingly. She wouldn’t dare to get some for herself.

‘Alright?’ he was looking at her. Maybe he’d said it twice. She wasn’t sure.

Flustered, she said, ‘Alright.’

He packed her groceries away for her, and she handed him her coins. His hands were grubby, fingernails mere stubs on his long fingers, like he did a lot of work. She could see the hairs on his muscular forearms, gleaming goldenly in the afternoon sunlight filtering in through the shop front.

His face shone with invisible perspiration, and she glanced outside at the heat radiating off the pavement, tugging at her tight collar.

‘Say,’ he said suddenly, as she carried her bags towards the door, ‘What’s your name?’

She wasn’t sure he was actually talking to her. So she smiled at him, an excuse to look at his golden, golden face. His lips were full and red, his nose perfectly straight, yet slightly wide and snubbed, in the sweetest way possible, and he was waiting for her to reply.

‘Poppy,’ she said, her voice small.

‘Poppy. You have fantastic hair, did anyone ever tell you that? It’s like the fire of the setting sun.’

Warmth rushed through her body, raking down her back and flooding her face with embarrassment. She touched her red curls self conciously.

‘Thank you.’ She said shyly, and when she walked out of the shop, the image of his grin,  with the deepest dimples she had ever seen, was burning behind her eyelids every time she closed her eyes.

The world was so peaceful, so still. The birds seemed to have forgotten to chirp, or maybe they were too tired to. They flitted languidly from tree to tree, as she made her way through the town, her hair on fire.

‘Poppy. You’re late. Does it take seventeen hours to get some groceries?’

‘Poppy, put everything away and hurry, the baby’s crying.’

‘Poppy, you haven’t dusted behind the bear.’

‘Poppy. POPPY. Honestly, that darn girl, are you deaf or something? I’ve been calling you for the last five minutes!’

Poppy cleaned and mopped and sang the baby to sleep before shining the pots and pans until it was so late that her arms felt like they were falling off and the world outside was so silent she almost heard the stars twinkle.

She stared at them, her eyes closing and opening softly, and they shone back at her. They were hopeful stars, against the dark sky. They were her stars, her glorious night time partners.

When she finally went to bed and closed her eyes, the golden boy with his dimples smiled her to sleep.

To the Golden Boy,

I hope I see you again.

The Girl with the Fiery Hair

 

 

 

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 🙂