Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pretty Average Good Friday

The table was set, fish and salad had been prepared, stomachs were rumbling: all was ready for the Good Friday feast and then plans were set into disarray when my aunty phoned to say that my 88-year-old grandfather had stacked it and face-plated the concrete ground. "Blood everywhere ... ambulance ... neck brace and stitches ... hospital" were the keywords when my mother related the message.

The remainder of the day was spent listlessly loping around the house, waiting for updates from the hospital. We didn't dare eat lunch, just in case as soon as we finished, we would get the phone call to say they were on their way home. We managed to hold out until 5pm.

Pa's injuries include a nose broken in several spots, a huge gash on his forehead in the shape of his glasses frame, and two spectacular black eyes. Thankfully, his neck was given the all clear, as was his brain, but they kept him in overnight so they could keep watch on his dicky ticker. To everyone's relief, he is being sent home this afternoon.

Yesterday's incident, combined with the news that the mother of one of my parents' good friends passed away, made for a pretty bloody average Good Friday indeed. 

I miss the days when I would sleep in late, get out of the shower just in time for everyone to arrive for lunch, and then proceed to get inappropriately tipsy on champagne and eat altogether too much chocolate. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Happy Easter! Happy Long Weekend!

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, happy four-day long weekend to those who don't!

My oh my, am I looking forward to four days off. I am feeling a little bit exasperated with people in general so think some time away will do me the world of good.

I'm going to my parents house tonight after work, a magical mystical place where it's always warm, food is plentiful and internet speed isn't snail-pace. I have made my chocolate spiders and for quality assurance purposes, tasted a few, and I can confirm once again that yes, sugar still gives me a headache, however delicious they may be.

I'm going to visit my cousin in Peterborough - he has recently bought miniature cows! Their coats are curly! - and hopefully, venture out into the countryside somewhere further. Not sure where just yet but I've got a hankering to see some autumn leaves. We will see.

I have two books for the weekend: Kathleen Tessaro's The Perfume Collector and one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, I can't remember which one. The third one, maybe? I have Amy Poehler's memoir on my iPad (which is flat. My book is flat. Technology) so I think I'm set for weekend reading.

Three and a half hours until knock-off time! Come on, come on, come on.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In which I become a sugar-free bore

For an assortment of different and varying reasons that I shan't bore you with right now (isn't shan't the most deliciously snooty word? Rarely heard these days; I resolve to use it more often, do my bit to save it from dying out of the modern vocabulary), I have been off sugar since January.

At the risk of sounding like one of those health-obsessed, bandwagon-jumping bores, I have never felt better. Ever. I didn't even realise how good I felt until I had some of my father's birthday cake earlier this month and the following day, suffered through the worst headache I have had in recent memory. It could only be put down to the now-alien sugar and was confirmed when I went back for another go a couple of weeks later.

Avoiding sugar, by default, also means avoiding processed foods. Imagine finishing a meal and feeling maybe not full as such but satisfied and definitely not feeling bloated and heavy. You may know what this feels like but shamefully, I never have felt this for any extended period of time. I wish I knew sooner how amazing it feels. How much lighter, more energetic, better I feel.

So, knowing all this, why why why would I be planning to make these chocolate caramel gooey cookies and these chocolate spiders (that I last made during my three months of funemployment) for our family Good Friday meal? Why? Maybe it is the same reason I am planning a big plate of nachos for lunch (despite the fact I don't identify with any particular religion, I can't bring myself to eat meat on Good Friday): the memory of food.

Such a powerful little thing, memory. (How painfully simple is that sentence.) I remember what it used to be like to eat and enjoy certain foods: the taste, the texture, even the social aspect of a shared meal, but I have yet to commit to memory the dull headache and painful stomach that results from eating "bad" foods. I write about the whole nasty experience in my journal, in the hopes that if I ever find myself seduced by the cruel, sugary mistress again, I will instead turn to the pages and be reminded that I will, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, feel like five different kinds of shit if I do give in. But I don't read over the journal entries. I forget. But through repetition comes perfection, so try, try, try again, right?


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

London, 2013

When I was 23, all the way back in 2003, I lived in London for a while. It was a strange time: I wanted so much to enjoy the experience but desperately missed my boyfriend back home in Australia. I had various temp jobs in offices where people approached me with curiosity in the beginning and then steadfastly avoided me, lest they get lumped with having the new girl ask to join their work clique on their lunch break. 

I was on the way to my first day of one of these temp jobs when I phoned the agency, saying I was running late because I couldn't find the stupid bus stop and then the stupid bus didn't stop where it was supposed to and to top it all off, I'd just stood in a puddle - because it bloody never stopped raining in bloody old Blighty - and my feet and shoes and socks and pants were soaked through all the way up to my bloody ankles.

None of it was true, of course. I was just having a shit time of it and hoped that if I sounded like I was about to cry, she would tell me to go home, where I would get back into bed and read comforting chick lit novels, while ramming Double Decker chocolate bars down my gullet. 

She told me, breezily but really quite firmly, that I must continue on my way to the job. They were in great need of help, I must go. She told me she would phone ahead on my behalf and let them know what had happened and that I was on my way, and that I could lock myself in a bathroom and dry my pants under a hand dryer.

I found myself agreeing to her plan and hung up, feeling pretty pissed off. I trudged along the street, somewhere in the outer reaches of North London before I realised that the manager at the job would expect me to have wet feet when I eventually lobbed up. If I turned up late with dry feet, she would know that I had been bullshitting her. I stood on the footpath, paralysed in indecision, until I knew I had to find a puddle to jump in.

At a next corner, I found a big one. It filled the gutter, rising nearly to meet the footpath, and spread out, covering the road. I paused, shook my head and then leapt into the water. When I walked away, I noticed a woman on the other side of the street, watching me.

To this day, I get the giggles when I think of her. It's a story I have told before ('That time I had to jump into a puddle') but I wonder if I have become a story has told people over the last twelve years. I wonder what she thought when she saw a reasonably well-dressed, reasonably sane-looking young woman sigh and then angrily and purposely jump into a puddle before carrying on, as though it was completely normal behaviour.

Monday, March 30, 2015

This. And a bit of that.

Image via Pinterest, original source unknown

I spent a couple of hours on Sunday with my hands in the dirt, re-potting some bulbs that my mother salvaged from my late grandmother's garden. We don't know what they are - tulips? daffodils? freesias? - so it will be a lovely surprise in winter when they (hopefully) start to bloom. Nana is all over this tiny flat of mine, the one I've been in for a year this month, that she never got to see: from the framed picture of her on her honeymoon in the '40s, the crystal she gave me that belonged to her mother, to the sweet pea seedlings I planted in my tiny courtyard a couple of weeks ago. Whenever she came to visit us, she would carry in her cane basket scones hidden underneath a tea towel and a posy of sweet peas from her garden, wrapped in aluminium foil.

It has been two years and I miss her more than ever. 

I woke up before the sun this morning and then fannied about for so long, drinking tea and congratulating myself for having already ironed my clothes, that actually getting ready for work took place in approximately four and a half minutes. But I skipped out the door and off down the street towards work, ears free of the buds normally rammed in, blaring the same few songs on repeat (Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High by the Arctic Monkeys, Out of the Woods by Taylor Swift, or Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones). Instead, I enjoyed the crisp morning air, the blue sky, and the streets feeling oddly deserted (no doubt owing to the beginning of school holidays, great for me because it means I get to jaywalk across the usually busy street at my own leisure).

After reading an article online yesterday (lost amongst the myriad of articles I read yesterday, looking for answers but not knowing the question, otherwise I would link to it), I took its advice and decided even though I don't particularly like my job, I would be the best at it. It isn't hard work, and it isn't stimulating at all, but if I have to do it - and I do, I really do - I may as well earn some praise, have my ego stroked, and go down as the best receptionist / admin assistant they have had. Who cares if the reason is self-serving, as long as the result is the same.

I had a Christ-where-are-my-bloody-glasses? moment today when I completely mistook one workmate for another and had absolutely no idea I had done so until a third workmate pointed it out. Perhaps I should take heed of the reminder flyers I have been getting lately from the optometrist.

The nights are getting darker earlier and getting colder. I had turned the heater on last week for the first time this year and even though I have been wearing flannelette pyjamas to bed, I broke my own rule and switched on the electric blanket too. And slept like a baby.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

24 March 2015

Blogs are dead
I wish I blogged more
My job bores me
I gave up looking for a new job because the constant rejection wore me down
I was going to write that I didn't understand why I didn't get any of the jobs I applied for and I realised it's all due to a bigger reason that is still hazy when I try to look at it
I bite my nails too much
I miss my nails when they were long and beautiful
I wrote a novel
I read a blurb for a recently released novel that shared the exact same plot as my novel
I started writing a new novel
I stopped writing
I don't know why
I saw an Instagram post from someone I follow that made me happy for her
Immediately after feeling happy, I thought Get your shit together, Annelise. Seriously. Get your fucking shit together
I'm wasting: my time
                     my potential
                     my life
Today was the coldest day since October
I bought a domain name but don't know what to do with it
It's a fantastic domain name, it should be used for something amazing
I felt smug that no-one else had beaten me to it
It's both tough and vulnerable
I re-read all the blog posts I reverted to drafts
I liked the first half of the posts
They made me laugh
I sounded sad in the second half
That made me sad
I left them as drafts
Quotes from books generally don't stay with me but a line from one of the Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St Aubyn feels like it was written for me: If life had a theme, you know ...  a philosophy? A motto? Mine would be: There must be some mistake; I was supposed to be bigger than this
I tweeted that quote back in October
Nine-to-five, the suburbs, married-with-two-kids scares the shit out of me
Lucky that's not on the cards, eh
I don't want ordinary
I want extraordinary
I wish I know how to make it extraordinary
I can do more than I am
I can do better than I am.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thirty-fucking-five

I turned 35 last month. I don't have an issue with ageing but honestly, sometimes the thought of being 35 sneaks up and smacks me on the head, leaving me reeling: Holy shit, I'm thirty-fucking-five

I didn't expect my life to be like this at 35. Again and again: I didn't expect life to be like this at 35.

I said to my friends that this is going to be my year. (Actually, I think I said I'm going to make 35 my bitch but that isn't very ladylike. But hey, I've already said shit and fuck, and really, the SS Ladylike sailed a long time ago.) Things feel different. I feel more comfortable in who I am, the most confident I've ever felt. I think that it's due, in part, to age and experience, but also to the best group of friends I could ever have hoped for.

My friend's birthday is the day before mine so we had a girls' night with some friends and I realise that that group of women is pretty much all I need: my best friend who I've known since high school (and whose son started high school this month, holy shit, we are thirty-fucking-five), another I worked with a few years ago, two I worked with at my old job, and another who I met through a mutual friend. There's no mean girls bullshit, no envy or jealousy, no drama. Just support and tonnes of laughter. Those girls, plus a few others, and I'm set.

My signature has changed recently. It used to be an A, followed by my eight-letter surname (which ends in -dell, and if I didn't pay attention, I would usually add an extra L, making it look like I don't know how to spell my own damn name), but now my signature is dominated by a larger, more extravagant A, followed by just a bit of a squiggle to represent my surname. I'm no graphology expert, but I like to think that it's symbolic of becoming more confident in myself. 

There are new possibilities just out of reach. So close, but I have to be patient. My work is done, I have to trust that what is supposed to happen, will happen. In the meantime, I have a renewed interest in the novel I wrote last year (hello, second draft!) and my goal this year is whip it into shape and send it off to agents and publishers - something that a few years ago, was only a pipe dream. Now, with this newly found confidence, is a definite plan.

So, 2015. Not too bad so far. A definite improvement on the second half of 2014. Thirty-five, you're not too bad either. But just to remind myself that just because I'm 35, doesn't mean I have to act like it, next weekend I'm accompanying one of the aforementioned girlfriends to a One Direction concert. Because, yolo.