Tracey

At work there is a woman. Let us call her Tracey, because that is her name. No thinly-veiled references here. Just outright ones. I doubt Tracey will ever come across my blog.

Tracey is one of the oldies, but goldies. By oldie I mean she has been at the company for 25 years, as opposed to myself, who has only been there for one year and 3 months. Also, she is a grandmother, although that does not make her old. In fact, she is quite spritely and has an active mind. Also, the people she tends to hang out with are in their twenties, indicating that she likes to hang around with younger folk. By goldie, I mean that she sticks out as a person. Her personality wears a gold cloak, and one can forget about her, but one is not inclined to, because she inserts herself into an alcove in one’s mind, even though there is nothing distinct about her. How can that be?

Tracey is a woman of many words, but she is picky about who she shares them with. She sits diagonally opposite to me, but we have probably exchanged a maximum of 56 words. That is a rough estimate, to give you an example of how often we speak to each other. We became ‘pod mates’ on the 16th of October, you see, and I am a very quiet person at work, which is not like me at all, because at home and with my friends I am a chatterbox and sometimes a little deranged. Rather like a pigeon who has stumbled upon a state of being ruffled and confused.

Anyway. Tracey picks up the phone a lot at work, and has terribly long conversations with colleagues who either work in a different city at another branch, or on a different floor, or just even way across the office on the same floor. She even has long chats with colleagues at our branches in America. But those only start at 3pm, which is around 10am on the West Coast. We have a pretty big office. And because she has been here for 25 years, she is very well acquainted with a lot of people.

I like when Tracey picks up the phone. We generally do not pick up the phone. I only use my work desk phone to call companies abroad, or to ask IT to sort something out for me. Tracey uses it to catch up with people, while simultaneously carrying out work.

For this reason, I have learnt a lot about Tracey. She is now living alone with her husband, as her kids have all left. They drive a range rover. She lives across the field from work, so she walks in when it is not raining. Her son is getting a divorce. So they have to split their Christmas between her daughter who lives in Canada, and her son who lives with his only child two hours away.

When her husband calls, she picks up the phone, and says ‘Hey sweetie,’ without pronouncing the ‘t’, so it sounds like ‘sweedie’, which makes her sound like she is saying it with an American accent. The rest of her accent is distinctly northern.

Her husband calls between 5:00 and 5:30PM daily. He picks her up from work and they go out for meals, or dancing, or to the big city for some drinking. Sometimes they just go home and have a glass of wine together. Sometimes she ditches him to go to the gym with one of her buddies. I like when he calls, she seems very comfortable chatting with him in public and does not run off to a corner to chat with him, like I do when my husband calls. She doesn’t mind if we hear their conversation. She talks to him like she talks to her friends.

I silently tap away at my computer, while her conversations and her life sail around my head. I drop a lot of eaves, I have to say, but how can one help it?

Anyway. That is Tracey.

A very average woman, no? And yet, she has her very own post.

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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!

On Type

Today I felt like just picking up my pen and writing something. By pen I mean, of course, my figurative pen. Does anybody write their writings with real pens nowadays?

Since I took up typing as the default means to save my thoughts down, my handwriting has become atrocious. I do keep a journal and sometimes, reading back, I can barely read what I’ve written! Do you reckon proper handwriting is a dying art?

Back when I was a mite or a tot or a youngling, I used to write with pens a plenty. I hated the keyboard because it took so long to find all the letters and by the time I had, the words had vamoosed from my mind.

Sometimes you just gotta get those words down before they go, and keyboards back then just didn’t cut it – mostly because I was inexperienced and we got our first family PC (a large bottomed affair) when I was 10. Now I can type quicker than I can write, and writing gives me wrist-ache!

Not to mention, of course, the tediousness of having to type up everything you have written, meaning you’re spending double the amount of time writing the same thing.

Apparently they now have these new technological pens that literally scan handwriting into text. So you just run it over what you’ve written, like a highlighter, and it scans the sentences into text format on a screen for you. How marvellous is that?! It’s relatively new and you can only get it in the US for about 80$ but look how the world is changing.

Do you prefer to type your writings, or pen them down as the great writers of yore would have done?

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!

 

Glorious

We have had a week of GLORIOUS weather in the UK.

Glorious. adj. having a striking beauty or splendour.

I wish you could see it. See the sun bring out the greens of late summer, see how it coaxes the fragrances from the late September flowers, see how it shines on gentle webs, creating a kaleidoscope of colours that shift up gossamer threads as the sturdy little arachnid home sways stubbornly in the wind. I wish you could smell the earth, it’s like the spring of winter. Everything is so fresh, idyllic. Things have bloomed past their prime, and they nod in the breeze with unwitting splendour.

And the sun is warm, caressing, in the cool, sometimes cold, breeze.

This is my favourite season, just before the trees deck themselves in the sunset colours for the evening of summer, just before the bare branches begin to peer over the haze of icy morning fog. The evenings are still lasting, the shadows still long at 6pm, the golden sunshine can still be called a late summer sun.

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Love letters #47

There was a strange, still emptiness in the room. Something amiss. Shrouded in darkness, wrapped in the cocoon of her duvet. A small light filtered in through the gap in the curtains, it appeared to twinkle. Oddly comforting, like a lighthouse. A beacon in the dark.

But what was missing?

It was chilly. Drafts wafted under the gaps in the door and through cracks in the floorboards. She was not used to this, of-course, but the hot bricks by her feet and the layers of blanket snug around her body kept the warmth on her; only the tip of her nose was icy.

That was not it, though.

She closed her eyes. Sleep evaded her that night. Her first night. A shiver ran down her spine, of excitement, anticipation.

A long voyage over seas and land, through changing climates, meeting wonderfully odd folk. Folk from forest and desert, rich folk and poor folk, scroungers and generous benefactors. Chums, and motherly matrons. She thought of all the personal cards she had stacked so carefully in the writing desk they had put in her room, what a pretty desk, such ornate inscriptions, and what a lovely set of paper and pens left for her to use.

She was simply exhausted. Her bones felt leaden, her neck ached from months of travel, and yet, that evasive slumber!

WHAT, oh, what was missing?!

She thought of home. Of her mother laughing, her singing loud and warbled, in tune but not in tone, but her song much loved, much adored, and so, oh so taken for granted. She thought of her father, hammering away at the cracks in his home, restoring and fixing in his free time. He adored his children, and worked so hard for them. His beard was speckled with white, and wrinkles formed intricate webs around his kind eyes. She thought of what she had left, and a lump grew sturdy and strong in her throat, stubborn against her swallows. Her house on the little hill, the beach just a few metres down, and always the sound of waves crashing against the shore.

The sound of waves lulling her to sleep like a soothing lullaby.

Angry waves in the storm, gentle waves lapping against the sand, up and down the shore, sunrise and sunset and vigorous, tropical rain. Incessant, rhythmic, comforting. The one constant in life’s ever growing, ever changing flow.

The waves.

Slumber finally crept around the door, seeping into her room, her mind filled with the sound of the sea.

Eff him.

Donald Trump came to the UK and everybody gave a f*!#.

They tramped and shouted and trumped and stood in the park near Trump’s hotel so he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Sadly they were made to go home promptly at 9pm as the park keepers needed to shut the gates, but kudos to them for trying.

People in the UK don’t like Donald Trump, and they really aren’t afraid to say so. I can’t tell if that is British, or modern. To be British is to be coldly silent on matters one doesn’t find savoury, and turn the other cheek. There was warm and passionate and hearty hatred on the streets of Britain, and in true Scottish fashion, the Edinburgh festival signs told Trump to Fuck off Home. Hah. Even his motherland doesn’t want him.

France won the world cup and I really couldn’t care less. My dad said today, while we were watching the match, ‘Who would you like to win?’

‘nobody,’ i said.

He found that really funny for some reason. Now that England are out, I couldn’t care less. poor england, they were crying on the pitch. I felt like giving them a hug, even though their sweat and constant spitting makes me queasy. Meanwhile when one of the Frenchmen scored a goal he stuck it to the Croatian fans in the stadium. That Lacked Class.

Meanwhile, back at the ranCH, I fell asleep in the last 15 minutes of the match, and ran to the toilet to throw up when France was awarded the world cup. It really is not because france mAkes Me Sick.

iT’S because I am

pregnant.

 

So..

hEre we go.

BECAUSE it is still very early stages of

pregnancy.

I am not out of the danger zone.

Last time I got

pregnant

I didn’t last beyond the fifth week.

So this time we are hoping and praying and taking it easy

in the hopes that this

pregnancy

carries on fine.

How strange. We feel like we are kids, still. So we are going to have to do a great deal of growing up very quickly.

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

Love Letters #45

She didn’t.

ever.

doubt

that she wouldn’t have,

their support,

their endless love,

Their silent encouragement,

despite her constant irritation with them,

and theirs with her.

But every day,

she was gripped by the

hopeless

despairing

certainty

terror

That she

would eventually

lose them all,

to the cruel,

yet inevitable

Cycle of life.

Joined to her every nerve ending

Spread so far around the globe.

Close to her heart and soul

Voices crackling over miles of choppy ocean,

Lump in her throat

Smile through happy tears

Oh to see that darling face again,

So swift, so soon, so long

and then it’s goodbye

Until next year.

Sore, aching heart,

Her family.

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Image Credit: Katie M Berggren

Written because in the past year, I have only seen my father over a series of sporadic occasions which amount to no more than 15 days. And this breaks my heart, because he is getting older, and so am I, and so are we.