To Froth

I bought myself a milk frother. Actually in today’s language that isn’t quite true. I ordered myself one. It’s a little machine whisk, the handle of which contains a battery. The whisk part is a small circle of wire with a curly wire going all over it, and it vibrates or spins when you press the button on its handle.

You can froth milk, or cream, or in my case, a teaspoon of instant coffee and a teaspoon of sugar in a tablespoon of boiling water. Froth that right up until its thick and foamy and double the size of the liquid. Then add boiling water and a teensy splash of warmed milk and there you have something delicious.

Something like a cappuccino, but lighter, frothier, tastier and way cheaper. You can have it as many times a day as your jitters will allow.

Early in the morning before your kids wake up and drag you backwards through a hedge.

Late at night when they are asleep and you’re desperately typing away at your laptop keyboard trying to get this big project done.

In the afternoon, at 3pm precisely, when a wave of deep exhaustion slaps you on both cheeks and then parks its bottom on your eyelids. Heavy heavy, limbs like lead, but you sip from that sweet foam and you’re mildly awake again, setting about to finish off the rest of your day.

I don’t know what it is about life that feels so alien.

I want to write stories and describe things and delve into humanity’s mind, I want to talk to people and explore their minds and learn things and thoughts and opinions. But I find myself on the daily repeating a tedium that is almost set in stone. Written into my soul by the generations before me.

Duty? Law?

My grandmother and her paper thin skin and brown, wrinkly hands pop into my mind often.

I was having a conversation with my husband and mother in law about something to do with children growing up and leaving and I mentioned my grandmother and my husband said, out of the blue,

‘She was very lonely, your grandmother, wasn’t she?’

It felt like a punch in the gut. I thought about her, raising three children alone in London in the 70s, divorced and heartbroken, hardworking and efficient. She packed them all off to uni and waved goodbye as they got married and travelled across the globe and country, and there she resided in her big old Victorian house on a side street in South London.

And yes.

She was incredibly lonely.

My sweet, kind, warm, loving grandmother.

And she is no longer with us. In fact, on the 22nd of July it will have been 11 years since she passed away.

And when he said that a deep sadness rose up so suddenly that I could not control myself, so I got up to go to the kitchen under the pretext of clearing the dishes away.

‘Are you doing to cry?’ he asked me.

‘No,’ I said, as the tears gathered thick and fast in my eyes and threatened to spill out onto my cheeks. I shut the kitchen door behind me and began to wash the dishes to compose myself.

My son ran in a few moments later and his eyes were huge, ‘Mama are you sad?’ he said. He had interrupted his play to check on me.

I turned and smiled at him.

‘No sweetheart, I am not sad.’

He searched my face with his eyes for a few moments and then went back to his game, evidently appeased.

And I remembered searching my own mother’s face like he did. In fact, I still do. I search her voice and her eyes and the way her chin moves.

And I thought about how she too, would do the same to her mother. My grandmother.

I don’t know what all this means or how it relates to a milk frother and being overwhelmed.

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In Retrospect

Sometimes after a big massive fight I go away to Retrospect.

And in Retrospect, my glasses become clean. Images are sharper, crisper. The air is tantalising and if I stick my tongue out, I can taste everything. The breeze, the way the birds fly, the blossom petal on a wind current. Everything.

My regret because I pushed it.

My sadness because I pulled at it. Nitpicked it. Wanted to fight at the beach. Get it off my chest. But in doing so, it was hammering his chest.

Don’t go to bed cross, they say. I never do. Maybe I need to visit Retrospect before I try to get things off my chest in the moment.

Retrospect has a fantastic way of making you make mature decisions with your tongue.

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Childhood Baby

I woke up from a horrific dream in which I was living my childhood life as an adult.

My childhood was amazing. There were cockroach infestations, terrible arguments between my parents, and I had a glass thrown at my head once.

By one of them.

But it was amazing.

How can I say this, after listing some of the most traumatic events? I felt loved, a lot of the time. Especially when I was younger. I loved my baby brothers, who are now ‘the boys’, and both tower over me.

I have a lot of good memories, and maybe it’s nostalgia speaking, but I was a happy child.

I do remember a lot of misery and depression, some of which seeps into my adult life, but I was so happy. I loved going to school, I loved my friends. We had so many gatherings and parties, my parents took us to lots of places and really did spend time with us, and enjoyed doing so when they were not stressed. I loved reading all the time and have such fond memories of being curled up behind sofas or under desks with a book. Books tucked behind my textbooks, and once, intently reading a book hidden inside my wardrobe with a torch.

So why was my dream so horrific, then?

I dreamt I was in my childhood home, around the people of my childhood (family, friends), and my baby had gone missing. But I was for some reason supposed to suppress this information. I didn’t know where she was, but we all knew she was no more, and her little sweet voice went ‘mama, mama, mama’ in my head, just how she does in real life. Eventually as the dream progressed I could no longer contain my pain and began to wail in sorrow. The kind of wail where you just cannot help yourself. You lose all sense of anything and give into the hurt.

At that precise moment, my eyes flew open, and it was 6am.

Staggering out of bed, eyes barely open, still nursing that terrible, searing pain, I stumbled into my babies’ room, and there she was in her cot.

Snoring away.

Little fists curled slightly on the mattress.

Long eyelashes dusting the soft roundness of her cheeks.

She has been so tough this past week. Clingy, moany baby. ‘Mama, mama, mama’ all the time, tugging on my legs to be picked up, not sure what she wants.

But today I feel reminded to be so incredibly grateful for her, and am looking at it in a different light. Oh, let the baby be clingy. She needs you!

I have just finished typing this and can hear her little voice, thick with sleep, saying ‘mama’.

So off I go to squeeze her!

Sad

The clocks went back on Sunday morning at 2am. I feel so down about it to be honest with you.

Usually I welcome this change excitedly. I think about warm coats and hats and scarves and soft streetlamps, cosy bedrooms and dim lighting and warm mugs of sweet deliciousness. Candles. Baths. Hugs. Soup. Mother’s curries. My sister’s apple crumble. My husband’s cold cheeks, his warm hands in which my always cold ones nestle neatly.

This year it feels rather desolate if I am honest. It feels hazy and cloudy and tired and achey. It feels lonely, so lonely. A deep aching loneliness. Family so far away. Life so uncertain. Death knocking at the door. I see him and he is so close this year and I don’t know why.

Anyway I googled ‘why do I feel sad when the clocks go back‘ and it’s a very common ailment that people in the Northern hemisphere suffer from. It’s called SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I don’t think I have SAD but the dark season has made me feel sad this year. I think it’s worse too because I can’t see anybody really, and that is really hurting my heart.

So I decided not to wallow in self pity and do something about it. I have decided to light some candles every evening and tidy up properly once the sun has set, so we have a cosy space to relax in. I have decided to have a hot drink with my son before he goes to bed, just me and him (and maybe his dad if he has finished working on time), have a natter about our day and what books he would like to read before bed. I have decided to keep lamps on in the evening, to wind down. I have decided to take a brisk walk in the morning and a short one in the afternoon while it’s still light out. Get some of that Vitamin D aka happy hormone. Exercise and vitamin D apparently does wonders for the mood. We shall see how these changes help. If they do at all.

Have I missed anything out?

What do you do when you’re feeling low? Has anything you’ve tried helped you get out of a funk?

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. 

Write in Good Times and Bad

Some people do their best writing while they are depressed. And others write beautifully when they are happy, their emotions lending wings to their minds and their fingers. It’s all down to emotion at the end of the day, and how one perceives feelings, and reacts to them.

I’ve learned that people react so differently to the same emotions and situations, which is why you can never win at situations no matter how hard you try. If you can’t get through to someone, you can’t get through to them.

In my previous life I have managed to write the best during my times of depression, but now that I am 25 and feeling a way I have never felt before in my life, I find that words somehow escape me.

I don’t know why this is. I thought that if I let my emotions out in stories they would somehow live a life on paper that they couldn’t live inside my mind. But it doesn’t work. On paper they seem mundane and mismatched. They teeter and totter on the edge of a cliff and fall off. They are the missing planks in a swaying wooden bridge, and you just fall right on through when you try to follow the track.

They just do not do the truth any justice, and it leaves me feeling frustrated and sad.

So I have come to the conclusion that my best writing happens when I am marginally sad, but not overwhelmingly so. When I see hope shining like a beacon at the end of a time period. Now time appears to stretch endlessly before me and hope is dragging her heels behind. Why, Hope, WHY? Well, she replies, I really don’t think that time has anything for me at the end of her path. I feel like time is shaving pieces off me as each of her seconds drip off her chain, like desolate, worthless diamonds.

Did you know that diamond rings are worthless if you want to resell them? Jewellers will only charge you for the price of the band, whatever metal it was made from. A fascinating piece of knowledge I got from my husband’s friend’s wife, who is a jeweller. I’d always wanted a diamond ring but now I am glad I don’t have one. But I digress.

You see my sadness cannot be fixed with time, or so the naive youth in me bemoans. It knows it will have to go through a harrowingly narrow tunnel before anything changes. Or it could get solemnly worse and I will just end up old and regretful and the vicious cycle continues.

So there. I am an in-between writer. I can’t write well when I am happy and I can’t write well when I am desolate, but there is a good in-between niche that hits the spot just fine.

Apparently L M Montgomery wrote her later Anne novels when she was in depression. Perhaps that is why the Anne voice we know and love recedes massively in her later novels.

Some people can write when they are both happy and depressed. Others can channel their particular emotions while writing and produce work that is representative of it, challenging themselves marvellously and being just ridiculously talented at making terrific use of their mental state, whatever it may be, to produce written work.

What kind of writer are you? Do you write best when you are happy, or sad? Or both? Or do your emotions not feature in your creativity at all?

Also, secret question, are all men afraid of conflict? Is it an inherent trait of a man? Is that why they don’t communicate with their wives/partners?

Pranks

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my eighth post.

Sometimes you think someone is playing a prank on you. Someone very close to you.

But then reality creeps in. Rears its ugly, ugly head. And five years of relative bliss flood down a slimy drainpipe.

Because no. It is not a prank.

It is very real.

People surprise you everyday. Don’t trust anybody but yourself.

You Made My Day

You made my day, I said.

I laughed.

To show

how happy she had made me.

And my cheeks hurt, because they were being forced to do what they would normally have done spontaneously.

Only this time,

My brain had ordered them to stretch,

against their will.

You made my day, I said, honestly.

And she smiled, because she made someone’s day.

You

made

my

day,

I lied through my teeth,

through my smile

which began to feel

stale

On my face.

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Image credit: River Darling

Don’t Cry

You’re so noisy.

Don’t speak, don’t breathe.

Heavily behind me.

Through your nose.

Long toes. nails. Harsh.

Scratchy voice, cackling.

And heat under an old green coat.

You’re so noisy.

Don’t tell me I’m wrong.

Don’t fake your beliefs, to make me happy, and then curse what I believe, when you’re tired of the lies.

Don’t swear

don’t SHOUT

Don’t breathe, just stop. Stop breathing. Just sleep.

Don’t blame, don’t bemoan, don’t lament. I am not your beacon of happiness.

I am not made to suffer your fury, your happiness, your pain.

I am human.

And when I leave, don’t cry.

You’re so noisy.

I want out.

But

I’m scared to go

Because you think you’re entitled to me.

You’re so noisy

So ill

so broken.

When i LEAVE

Fix your bones

don’t smoke.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t cry.

Don’t cry.

Those hacking sobs

those tears

not of pain

but of bitter selfishness.

 

N.B. this was real. not is. a v long time ago. thank goodness.

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Image credit: Carmen Renn

Roadkill

Nothing motivates me. Not the knobbly edge of a cucumber, not the smooth roundness of a fresh tomato, not the creamy ripeness of a fresh avocado. I just chop all the ingredients up and throw them in and…

I don’t even wash my dishes afterwards.

Yes, they are piled up in the sink at home, as I speak. The washing has been in the machine, washed, since Saturday morning. I know it. I see it daily. But I don’t spin it for another wash, nor do I hang it out.

I am, quite simply, drained of energy.

I still get up quite early to go to the gym. I attend every spin class, but avoid eye contact. I push and push and push until the sweat runs rivers down my back and my muscles shriek in anguish. My fat jiggles with every push and my sports bra struggles to maintain a stationary chest. I need to get tighter sports bras else I will become saggy.

I lift weights after the classes. I can lift about 89 kilos in my glutes now, and 20 with my chest. For squats I can only do about 35, but I can see myself becoming more shapely and smooth. Lines and curves where they were always meant to be. Is it bad to enjoy the look of your own body?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of roadkill.

Yesterday it was a badger, lying warped on the verge of a tidy little country lane. The black stripe running through the middle of its little head was muddy and bloody.

Today it was a partridge, the bright green and brown of its coat brilliant in the shine of the morning sun. Last week a rat, on the pavement. Before that a crow, dead and limp and lifeless. A squirrel, a chick (where did you come from, little yellow soft baby?), a shrew (inhibit gardens, not roads, sweet misunderstood creature).

Today also it was a pigeon, lying smack bang on the corner of the space I park in daily at work. As I swung my legs out of the car (literally, I swing them out, and swing around the car to grab my bag from the passenger seat – lots of swinging) I thought to myself, ‘what if I killed it yesterday?’

In moments, the pigeon was forgotten.

What is roadkill, anyway, in the grand scheme of things? What is a dead cat in the face of a murdered Russian asylum seeker? What is a bloody and muddy badger in the face of the death and decay of minds and bodies that thought and did and said.

Don’t animals think, too? Won’t they be mourned by other animals? Ought we not to be kind to them?

You see, I say all these things, in a way that appeals to your pathos, but I feel no emotion. I don’t care for roadkill.

I feel a pang of sadness, but then it is quickly forgotten. It makes me think of rotting bodies and graves and sleep and heaviness and the physical vessel holding life – heartbeats in a chest that could stop and with them all sense of hope and happiness and dependency…

On Friday the friend of a close friend was on her way home from the park with her husband and child, when she collapsed and fainted. Moments later she died. She was fit as a fiddle, completely healthy, happy, laughing, smiling, planning, doing.

Today was her daughter’s first birthday.

I don’t know this girl. But her death has shaken me to my core.

See, she wasn’t a pigeon or a badger or a cat or a shrew. She was a mother and a wife and a daughter and a … a person. Thirty minutes before her death she sent a video of herself and her daughter on a swing, laughing and happy, to a group chat consisting of her closest friends.

Thirty minutes.

And thirty minutes before the death of the badger, did it leave its sett, say goodbye to its wife, and plunge through the undergrowth in heedless joy?

We are all meant to die. Human or animal. Some deaths mean more than others. But at the heart of it, it is the same thing. A heart stops beating, life lifts away from a body.

That is what I take from this.

I want to be loved. Not romantically, not just by my mother. I want to be loved by my Creator. I want my death to be a ‘return’, not a departure. Do you know what I mean? I want goodness and kindness and comfort and peace to fill the space I will inevitably leave behind.

We are not roadkill.

Touch some hearts, maybe?

Be kind? Smile? Help people? Make a good impact on the world?

Be ‘loved’?

What do you think?