Archive for the 'Cup Half Empty' Category

Cruel World

Just a warning: this subject is profoundly upsetting. I’m fine, but someone else isn’t.

Since giving birth, I have more often lost control of my emotions beyond a reasonable response under the circumstances.  The first time it happened, a few days after Sprout’s birth, was when this story* hit the headlines.  I sobbed uncontrollably for a while, thought I’d got over it, and then was being driven through the city concerned weeks later when the tears fell again.  The second time I saw a documentary featuring a couple whose baby had died at 26 weeks’ gestation.  Their baby’s first two names were the same as Sprout’s.  It took me several hours to stop crying, and several days to stop dwelling on it.

And then.

A friend and colleague became pregnant.  There was much rejoicing, and she had a text-book pregnancy.  She went on maternity leave amidst a flurry of gifts and smiles.  We all looked forward to meeting her offspring: no doubt it would be, as she is, a delightful kindhearted ridiculously-smart wonderful human being who would never intentionally harm anyone or anything.

My boss called me the other day.  He said, through a cracking voice, that my friend had been for a routine scan feeling fine, but doctors were unable to locate the baby’s heartbeat. Her baby had died.  That is all the information he was able to give me, so my brain filled in the rest.  Intra-uterine death is the medical term.  How that term disguises the true reality.

I knew that at some point, her living baby-with-feelings would have closed its eyes for the final time.  Her labour would have been induced, and my friend would have had to go through it knowing that her baby was dead.  Perhaps she hoped it had all been a terrible mistake and she would have a living baby after all, only to have this tiny hope smashed too.  She would have been asked if she wanted to hold her dead baby, and she probably said yes.  Then she would have looked into its face and felt, well, who can say except she?  She would have had to choose whether to consent to a post mortem.

I do not know if the baby was a boy or girl, but I do know that she had chosen names, and prepared her home with all the equipment and accoutrements one needs to care for a tiny delicate being.  She would have had to go home and face all the preparation, and un-prepare it.  I know she will be feeling disbelief, anger, devastation, loss: emotional pain so bad it is physical.  Her heart just fell off a cliff and got stomped on when it landed.  In addition to that, she is recovering from labour: hardly a walk in the park on the sunniest of days.

What do you say or do to help?  I finally settled on sending a card, and agonised over what to write in it.  After all, my own baby is alive and well and six months old.  I am acutely aware that I have what she so desperately wanted: being reminded of my very existence might worsen her pain.  I do not want to intrude, but I also did not want her to feel alone, unacknowledged, and ignored.  So I sent a card; it’s all I can really do until, in time, perhaps she will be ready to see people – me, and maybe my son – again.

I grudgingly observe that there are two tarnished silver linings.  First, she is young and has plenty of time to recover and try again (though lard knows any future pregnancy would surely have its own emotional issues attached).  Second, my friend is entitled to a full year of maternity leave should she wish to use it.  This gives her plenty of time to access the kind of emotional support she will need, without financial concern, and only return to work when she is ready.  Plenty of people don’t have that.

I feel odd about my own reaction: weirdly self-focussed and guilty about that. Like I have no right to be, and should not be, as upset as I am.  I have not gone through this terrible tragedy; she has.  I can only gaze in from the periphery and begin to imagine how it feels.  Yet I am unable to press pause on my brain.  I am desperately sad, and enraged that such tragedy could happen to such a wonderful person.  I feel helpless, and wonder even whether I did the right thing to send a card.  I look at my own baby and feel incredibly lucky but also devastated for my friend.  Buying a card for her, I burst into tears in the shop.  I wake at night and think about what happened, and cry.  I ponder for hours the fact that however sad I feel, she feels infinitely worse.  It is unhelpful that I have only baby-care to occupy me, so everything I do (down to the nursery rhymes  – seriously, have you paid attention to nursery rhyme lyrics? many of them are acutely distressing) reminds me of her situation.

I know that in time, these feelings will pass.  Far into the future, perhaps they will lessen for my friend, though I am damned sure hers will never disappear.

How could this happen to her?  It is a bloody cruel, cruel world.

*In summary, a woman with mental health issues left hospital with her four-day old baby and jumped off a cliff.  Mother and baby died.

When the wheels fell off, and I became obsessed with my hair.

The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.

The three hour daytime naps are a thing of the past. Our quiet little routine, and my magical sleeping son, flew out the window and waved goodbye eight weeks ago.  That’s when the Sprout had a whole-body eczema experience, and his cradle cap got infected.  His angelic self was replaced by someone who could out-grump Oscar the Grouch.

In episode 19 of the Blame the Mother Chronicles, two people (one of whom is related to me, and should know better) asked ‘but how did it get infected?’ in tones suggesting marked chastisement designed to plummet my self-worth.  Pointless, really, since I didn’t know how to feel worse than I already did.  Hell, I have no idea how it got infected.  Maybe because he’s a baby and he rolls around on the floor all day, and if I sterilised the vicinity every time he dribbled or puked then he would starve because I wouldn’t have the four-ish hours a day required to effectively feed him.

Anyway, Hell Week consisted of administering liquid antibiotics four times daily and crossing fingers that his nappy would contain the orange shit-fireworks he experienced in consequence, rubbing hydrocortisone and emollient cream all over a squirming screaming red thing twice daily, and hoping against hope for a fucking break for both of us.  But no, because of what must have been his horrific discomfort, not only were daytime naps limited to half an hour (four, if lucky) but also (possibly because my son has a Viking’s appetite) night-waking became a thing.  A big, bleary-eyed, please no not again, thing.  It’s still a thing even though he is back to perfect health.  In the last nine weeks he has slept through the night twice.

The infection took a week to clear, his skin a further week to heal up, and then we went on a transatlantic holiday.  But more about that in future writing.  First, I must talk about my hair before I burst from vanity-related angst.

I never really paid much attention to my hair before.  It was up there, on my head, with hair-schizophrenia: really quite curly in parts but straight in others.  Dealing with it was a minor chore: three minutes of attention every two days because.

It turns out that it’s only possible not to care about your hair if, without really considering it, you know deep down it looks OK.   A little bit birds-nest, but basically OK.  Nobody is laughing at you on the street so it must be OK, OK.

Well.  Hormones bitch-slapped my hair down the plughole in vast quantities starting when the Sprout was nine weeks old.  It was coming out in handfuls, and I do mean handfuls.  I had a lot of hair, so this happened for a few weeks without aesthetic consequence.  Now, over three months later, I have a receding hairline to rival Jude Law.  If I scrape it back into a ponytail, the volume is about one third its former glory.  Last month I went to the hairdresser and pleaded with her to cut my hair in a way that would make it look half-decent then and after further hair loss.  I tried not to have unreasonable expectations.  She tried to make me look like I hadn’t gone three rounds with a world champion hair-puller.  We both failed.  In a shampoo advert, I would be the limp, grey, lifeless ‘before’ picture.

People, observe:

DSC_2531 - Version 2

I am not making this shit up.  To the right hand side of my hairline on the photo you can see the recession.  But for the angle, you could see the same thing on the other side.  At least it’s symmetrical (see: small mercies).

People (by which I mean the hairdresser, and the internet) tell me this is completely normal, it will grow back, and be patient.  But I’m still trying every volumising shampoo on the market, staring into the mirror holding up my few remaining strands of hairline, and weeping.  I dwell endlessly upon how it will be a year before I look like myself again.  I have toyed with the idea of getting it all cut off, but that might make a bad situation worse.  There are no places where I am completely bald, but large areas around my temples where it is a damned close call.  As you can see, in bright sunlight it is particularly noticeable.  Oh, hello summer!

I know I’m not alone in these struggles.  I am eternally grateful that the Sprout doesn’t (I am touching wood) have a serious illness.  And there are more important things in life than a temporary hair-blip.  But good grief, Charlie Brown, motherhood is harder than a really hard thing.



Everywhere I turn in my life, things are broken.  Not insignificant things like the zip on a little-used pair of jeans: giant ball-ache things.  Specifically, in the fifteen weeks since Sprout was born, these things:

  • At four days: the National Grid arrived outside our house to replace metal pipes with plastic as part of a regional improvement programme.  This required digging up our driveway, turning off our gas supply for two days and fucking about under my kitchen floor fiddling with my gas meter; our heating is gas-powered, they have statutory authority blah blah blah and although they are supposed to give five working days’ notice they didn’t.  Do they care that you have a warmth-dependent newborn or that it’s December?  Of course not.
  • At seven weeks: the central heating broke down, and shortly thereafter our only fan-heater blew a fuse.  I found myself flailing around the house trying to think of heat-generating appliances from which I could purloin a 13A fuse to get our only source of heat working again.  I did it, but it was not easy with a wailing baby in tow.  Lesson learned: always store a variety of fuses in an easy-to-reach location.
  • At eight weeks: the car broke down when we were in the town centre and an hour away from company arriving.  The car is a complicated electronic hybrid thingy and once its variety of warning! imminent death! flashing lights start illuminating and the engine doesn’t start, you have no choice but to call the vehicle rescue service.  You’re going nowhere without their help.
  • At ten weeks: while we were in The Province for the weekend, our central heating leaked into the kitchen and dining room ceiling.  Only the dining room ceiling actually fell down, but water damage ruined the carpet, walls, curtains, and (typical) led to a massive restoration bill for the most expensive item we own – my piano.  I had to move to my parents’ place for a week while the repair work was completed.  I will forever be grateful that I was not standing under the ceiling with Sprout when it fell.  I am not grateful to the insurance company, which required a different assessor for each category of damaged item to visit at a time of their choosing.  We’re still arguing about the value of our carpet.

After that heartbreaking incident, I looked at K-man with tears in my eyes and wondered aloud what else could possibly break in our house.  I should not have tempted fate: at thirteen weeks, the toilet broke.  Gone are the days of a simple ballcock arrangement that can be fixed with a piece of coat hanger – now one must have full and half flush options and they come complete with specific-to-your-toilet part numbers and internet orders and three day delivery times.

So, all that might explain why I haven’t had as much time to write as I hoped.  I’ve been practising positive thinking, so I can confidently say that I’ll have more hours at my disposal from here on out.  Unless this computer breaks down.  In which case you will find me under the desk curled in a ball, sobbing.

Struck Down

I have contracted an unpleasant stomach-bug that has necessitated many violent trips to the bathroom.  On some occasions I made it successfully, some not.  The highlight of today was desperate puking into a sink full of dishes.

The suspected source of the infection is a barbecue I attended on Saturday, where the host’s first statement upon seeing us was ‘Don’t get too close!  I’ve got a dreadful stomach upset.‘  I am trying very hard not to be irate that the host didn’t cancel the engagement, let alone recuse himself from food preparation.

Lo, on Monday morning at about 2am, I experienced extreme nausea and cold sweats followed by unmentionable bathroom visitations.  Suffice to say that at 6am on Monday morning I had consigned one pair of pyjamas to the laundry and was attempting through a sheen of dribble to cleanse the bathroom without waking K-man.

There has been some improvement in one sense: yesterday I was physically unable to get out of bed until midday, and made it only as far as the sofa before collapsing in front of a marathon of Judge Judy.  You know you’ve seen too many episodes of Judge Judy when you question her respect for her own precedents.  Today I have been up and about, done some editing work, and was able to keep pure water down.  No solid food will digest at all.

I don’t believe in using medication to cover up the symptoms: I want to know if my body is in trouble so I can treat it effectively with rest and relaxation rather than chowing down on a pepperoni pizza and attempting a gruelling hour-long commute.  However, this makes for uncomfortable research into healing involving consumption of dry crackers and peppermint tea.  So far, it’s not going well.

Most galling is that today I was scheduled to attend a court hearing (public gallery) where the sociopath (and I mean that literally) who has made my family’s life miserable for over a year will hopefully finally be exposed as the no-good lying embezzling bastard that he is.  I was really looking forward to seeing him squirm, but apparently my mother views my stomach upset as godly intervention.  She has been quietly terrified all along that I would go, and he would figure out who I am (we’ve never met) and make my life hell for ever more.  That’s not to say that she doesn’t sympathise with my pain, but that she’s thinking long-term.  These people are dangerous and you should stay the hell away from them, she said.

She has a point. Next time I’m invited to a barbecue I will absent myself when it becomes clear that I’m walking into a poison zone.

The Show Must Go On

Six weeks into this year, my interim assessment is that it sucks.  Minor trauma plus minor trauma equals astonishing sense of unfairness.  On the bonus side, I got my annual bout of illness over with during the first week of January.

First, allow me to expound on the self-made miseries.  Well, what the hell, I’m going to be true about it: K-man made these miseries.  It was nothing to do with me when he put our car on because he’d identified a new car he swore he needed.  Something about the size of his testicles, I don’t know what.  We use our car once a week at most, but for reasons to do with stones I don’t possess it behoves us to spend £6,000 on a piece of metal that spends 98% of its time on the driveway.  Don’t ask me; I just live here.

He made a hat-tip at ‘consultation’ and put Vern on the market, selling and arranging collection within a 24 hour period, for a price that was borderline insulting to Vern’s dignity.  The pre-car research on the proposed new car was only completed after he sold our old car. Things were discovered, worrying things, about the proposed new car having a fake service history.  What now, fool, when we need a car?  Oh yes, now we’re pressured buyers: a great big unavoidable horror.  Car salesmen can SMELL pressure. 

Yes, I’ve been skating close to the thin mental line lately.

Next up is the Bedroom Furniture Debacle.  The bedroom was next on the list of things in the home to participate in the destruction of my surroundings, a project that’s going really well.  Remember the bannister?  Months later, this is what it looks like now:

My best guess is that the white stuff in the middle is nuclear-bunker-grade heat-protective coating. It will not budge.  If President Obama needs protection from Iran’s unhinged, he should come to my house and crouch behind my bannister.

We moved out of our bedroom three weeks ago and it’s in a state of disarray that will be brought to you in another post.  Our furniture is too big for the room so was put up for sale.  The enormous triple-wardrobe was the priority, but ultimately we needed to rid ourselves of the rustic solid oak bed and bedside tables we got in New Zealand too.  We discussed and agreed a sale price that would prevent me feeling aggrieved (I like this furniture and we paid a wadge for it).

K-man operated the eBay and somehow fucked up the equation that exists between ‘buy now’ and ‘minimum bid’.  Our solid oak king-size bed and two bedside tables that we lavished cash and care on were sold for a price so low I had to fight back tears.

Next up, the trauma visited upon us from outside our control.

Finding that one’s bicycle has been stolen is never pleasant.  I can attest that it’s particularly unpleasant when one is returning home at 1am on a freezing cold night having had too much to drink.  I searched the bike park in vain for my bike, clinging to the hope that I had, like all the other times, simply forgotten where I’d left it.  I saw a cut cable lock and with a sinking feeling put my combination in.  It sprang open, and so did  my tear-ducts.

To a cyclist, no bike you’ve had for any length of time is just a bike.  We’ve seen penguins, fallen off curbs, been blown into oncoming traffic, got back up, and travelled on together.  I loved my bike.  I reported the theft of my buddy to the police.

Describe the bike, blah blah, where did you leave it, blah, was there CCTV, blah blah investigate I’m not really listening anymore but then and how would you describe your ethnicity?


Are you black, white, asian? 

The police person on the phone does not know me, and does not know that questions like that coming out of nowhere, even when I’m drunk, especially when I’m drunk, and already upset are not something I’m going to let fly.  Way to make a bad situation worse, Flow Chart voice.

Is that relevant?  I shot out before I could stop myself.  Would you NOT investigate the crime I’ve just been a victim of because I fit, or did not fit, a certain racial profile?  


Because, that’s certainly the implication OFFICER.


Would you like my gender, age, or other profile information for the government statistics? 

Uh, no.

In that case you can put me down as human.

I’m really pleasant when I’ve had too much to drink and been the victim of a crime.

Next up: the following week, K-man was riding home on his un-stolen bike and got hit by a car.  The bike ended up under the wheels of the car, and he bounced off the bonnet.  He’s fine; cuts and bruises only (though the bike was a write-off).  Mostly, he was shaking and fragile with shock.  Thank lard it was a small car that hit him, and that it was not going faster.  He made eye contact with the driver before the collision (she definitely saw him), he had right of way, and she should have stopped and she knew it.  Her foot ‘slipped off the brake’ apparently, so she simply drove into him at a roundabout.  A witness helped pick K-man up and escorted him home to make sure he was OK.

Then, back from a weekend in the country during a cold-snap and snow, our heating broke.  It’s always a bad sign when you can see your breath in the hallway, and in sub-zero temperatures frozen pipes mean you have to eat your Ha! Boiler insurance! What a con! words and call the Fuck My Wallet line.  £500 later, I’m seriously considering becoming a heating engineer.

Everything you ever wanted to know about my frame of mind by this point is represented by this picture of Jesus, our formerly vibrant house plant:

What’s a girl to do when the first six weeks of a year have removed her colour and rendered her incapable of even a glimmer of sparkle?  Why, run off to Paris, of course!  My friend JR might not be a doctor, but he knew, it turns out, that I was in parlous trouble in the doldrums department without me even having to mention it.  And, because he is somehow psychic and knew without me ever having breathed to anyone how much I wanted to go there, he surprised me with tickets to this place:

It's the Star Ship Enterprise, in chandelier form!

In one weekend, I regained my sense of being alive.  My vibrancy came back, I smoked some cigarettes, ate a bucket of french lard, glammed around Paris, and remembered all the good shit I’ve seen and done, all the people I loved, love, and almost lost, and who I am privileged to know.

Scrape Your Way to Mental Health

My melancholic state might consume me unless I do something about it.  I can’t talk about it because I’m British, and a problem shared is a frightfully unwelcome imposition upon the good nature of others that also runs the risk of spreading a contemporary bubonic plague of despair.  I’ve tried a variety of ill-advised notional self-help strategies, and I can say with certainty that for those with a fingernail-grip of optimism about this world’s ability to pull itself out of its chronically unjust status quo, reading Private Eye will only make you feel worse.

In the spirit of experimental mistreatment, I shall take out my frustrations on parts of my home.  My hypothesis is that by actively degenerating one’s surroundings, one can truly engage with the reality that no matter how bad you think it is, it could always be worse.  And through that realisation, a meaningful Kum-By-Yah internal dialogue will rise to the surface and merriment shall be enjoyed.

Shall we begin?

This is part of my bannister, which impairs the aesthetic of the landing outside the bedroom. Like so many elements of this abode, at some point in its past it was decorated by a blind idiot with questionable motor skills.  You’re looking at one coat of cheap gloss over some ancient chocolate brown paint.

Yesterday while peering through the neighbour’s window, I noted that they have the same bannister yet the whole top piece of theirs is stripped down and stained dark.  It looks much better than ours.  We could do that, I thought.  Where home improvements are concerned, that usually means I’ll leave it to K-man.  But with my new apparent need to constantly prove my self-worth around these parts, I thought I can do that.  Tomorrow, when K-man is at work.

DIY is something at which I wish I were better.  If I could Sarah Beeny my way through project after project, I would love myself for it.  Sadly, I am beset with astonishing impatience and high level of ask someone else to do it ability.  I should  have known that I was biting off more than I can chew, but I steamed ahead with ambition and aspiration as my only guides.

Clearly, it’s important that I look as though I know what I’m doing in case any neighbours peer through my window.  All tradesmen drink copious quantities of hot beverage in cheap cups and I’m not going to let my already-tarnished neighbourhood reputation stop me.

The plan was to remove as much of the paint as possible using the heat gun, and then revert to hideous chemical for the remainder.  The heat gun is a hairdryer that’s been abusing steroids for a decade, and it comes with its own collection of fear-inducing accoutrements.

There are no instructions.  No matter.  I plugged it in and pressed the On button, pointing it at the area I intended to strip.  It proved immediately difficult to restrict the heat to a particular area, even with the nozzle designed specifically for restricting the heat to a particular area.

The line of detail I intended to strip is indicated by the portion to the right, and the vast swathe of collateral damage can be seen to the left.  I began to feel queasy, but pressed down feelings of incompetence and carried on.

Thirty seconds later, I vigorously disconnected the smoke alarm battery and sought instructions from the all-knowing Google.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s not hard.  Well, it’s not hard on flat pieces of wood: there, stripping paint with a heat-gun and a scraper is the home decoration equivalent of picking off an enormous itchy scab.  I didn’t intend to strip anything below the top two inches of intricate wood, but if you ever do this watch out because it is the thin end of the slippery downward slope to full-scale 600 Centigrade scraping addiction.

On intricate little bits of edging, however, it is fucking impossible.   I may have gouged a little bit of wood your honour, and then decided it was time for the chemical.  The chemical is accompanied by literature treading a fine red line between engendering belief that the product is easy to use and will save time and sanity, and warnings of imminent doom should you fail to follow precisely the worryingly vague instructions.

Armed with safety goggles rendering me half-blind, rubber gloves, a metric ton of newspaper, and a sudden ability to hold my breath for a long time, I glooped some on and decided that for good measure I would also strip the varnish from the very top piece of wood.

It all looks quite innocuous so far, doesn’t it?  I left it on for a minute, but it started to dry out.  DO NOT ALLOW TO DRY OUT scream the instructions, but also LEAVE UNTIL THE PAINT BLISTERS.  My paint was not blistering, and I considered giving up and reading a book instead.  However, if there is something more likely to incur husbandly wrath than incompetently dried-on noxious chemical he has to remove to uncover full scale bannister destruction, I don’t know what that thing might be.  Remedial action was necessary, and quickly.  Shit.

The instructions say to remove stubborn crevice-paint with a toothbrush, and to wash off excess chemical with detergent in cold water.  I deployed both strategies simultaneously with a growing sense of emergency.  Steel wool, a toothbrush, and a cloth entered the fray, each simply serving to spread brown gelatinous mess ever further afield.  I stopped taking photos at this point because who takes photos at the scene of a chemical crime?

After scrubbing and rinsing and a period of advanced panic, this is what I’m left with:

The corner parts are the casualties of war, and there remains hideous brown paint residue running in horizontal lines along the crevices, but that’s a project for sandpaper K-man.  And another day.  Through the fog of safety-googles, I couldn’t see that any varnish was coming off the top piece, but these photos prove otherwise.

From certain angles, it doesn’t seem too bad after all.  Sort of like my mental state.

Recline and Lament

Lately, despondent and melancholy have featured disproportionately in my internal dialogue.  All available explanations for this make me feel guilty.  So I’m going to stare my guilt in the eye and own it.  Yes, I am guilty of being someone with nothing to complain about who is not going to let that stop them, and I shall embrace my crimes against positivity on the internet because public wallowing in unjustified sorrow is mysteriously cathartic.  Hopefully, by the time this post is finished I will have ejected the lumpen feeling from my chest and replaced it with golden butterflies.

Where to begin?  It’s autumn, and while autumn is my favourite season, it is also a reminder of another year on the wane.  Another year in which I have achieved nothing useful in terms of my ambition to have a career rather than a succession of jobs.  Many of my friends are reasonably big-wigged now, which makes me feel like I am both stupider and lazier than them.  If they aren’t particularly big-wigged, they have at least one child.  They are doing something useful.

My current status is part-time employed in a hateful job.  The same job I left in order to wing my way to the other side of the world, and to which I swore I would never return.  I spend two days per week being patronised, derided and yelled at by planet-sized egos.  It is the very definition of back-sliding.

Research writing I was scheduled to be doing – unpaid – isn’t materialising according to the Chief Brain’s disseminated timetable. At some point I must invest an unspecified number of hours in writing, but I do not know when.  Neither have I seen work accepted for publication in print yet, despite the fact that the issue was due months ago. Resolution of these things is not in my control.  Who knows if discernible return on investment will ever come my way?   Knowing that it might happen means I can’t yet invest in a plan which involves full-time anything.  This is my choice, but it’s not an easy one.  I need my name on those publications.

I left a good job which I – despite the usual managerial idiocy – adored, to return to the UK.  While it is my home with all the familiar benefits that brings, there might as well have been a sign at the border saying WARNING: HERE LIE TATTERED REMNANTS OF MANY A CAREER.

I miss New Zealand.  The feeling has been growing for a while, and it’s reached gargantuan proportions.   I miss being able to drive out into the countryside and not see offensively-rude rich families and their SUVs, with Tarquin and Angelica in head to toe Ralph Lauren outerwear standing listlessly by while daddy shouts into a phone that yes he will deal with it first thing Monday morning.  I miss being a 15-minute bike ride from the office where I got paid a reasonable wage to do an interesting job I enjoyed and was good at.   I miss my NZ friends, and Facebook is a poor fucking substitute.

My UK friends have moved varying distances away (from 50 miles to 3,000 miles) and so I don’t see them much.  I have reconnected with other friends, but I thought things would be how they were when I left the UK, and they’re not.

We must live with the knowledge that we made the wrong decision which felt so right at the time, and what’s done is done.


I would like to have a child? children? but I always thought I should have a career first.  Time ticks unrelentingly, and if I got a dream job tomorrow, I would need to work at it for a year or so first, to shore up reasons for the employer to have me back (law or no, if they don’t want you they won’t keep you), and to get the maternity pay.  If I start a PhD next year I would be 37 when I finished and I am not sure I want to wait that long before trying to have a family.  I am not even sure I want a PhD, because Fickle could be my middle name.  Nevertheless, I have set up a meeting with a potential supervisor next week, because I need to feel I am doing something, and I don’t know what else to do.

I try to be happy.  For the sake of those around me I am Fake Happy, and the effort is exhausting.

Put all that in the blender and add a generous dollop of guilt.  What do I really have to be unhappy about?  I don’t have to work full time, I can spend two hours writing this and nobody is getting on my case.  I have a great house that’s bigger than I need, and a couple of holidays a year.  I have an excellent education.  I am healthy.  I can feed and clothe myself.  That is far, far more than most blisteringly hardworking people in this fucked up world could ever dream of.   I want them too to have everything I have.  I feel terrible that for no good reason as far as I can see, I have it and they don’t.

I have felt like this before, but this time is the longest tranche.  Usually when it happens, I feel better if I go to nature.  I’ve tentatively begun a collection of photographs of weird foresty things and this weekend I added to it.  Here is my collection:

Vancouver, 2010

Hatfield Forest, 2011

This time, I don’t feel better, and I’m not sure how to deal with that.


  • @SewSoDef Happy birthday! You are up criminally early. Do you get to watch the sun rise? Hope you have a wonderful day! 5 months ago
  • RT @SarahLudford: I object to way Letwin amendment is being portrayed on @BBCr4today as provoking ‘groans across the nation as meaning yet… 5 months ago
  • RT @Sathnam: Life is a great big conspiracy to stop you doing what you really want to do: which is to sit in a room by yourself and read al… 5 months ago

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