Thursday, 26 April 2012

I am OK

I decided against asking a doctor for help to stop me feeling sad. I guessed I'd eventually feel sadder for taking tablets. I'm pretty sure I'm not clinically depressed. It's my lifestyle getting me down. Eating too much, exercising too little, few interests outside the home...

I sat with Clare on Sunday morning and wrote a five-year plan. It pains me to admit it, sounds like something I would laugh at.
It wasn't a pointless task, as I thought it may have been. I realised how many things were in my reach. How many small steps I can make to improve my 'well-being'.

On Saturday morning, I was delighted to receive a surprise package from Curtise. The scarf reminds me of the blog header. The turquoise bangle is the missing twin of my black one - how sweet. There were also purple tights in the package, which I wore today with my 'new' granny shoes. Don't you just love it when someone describes your outfit, or a meal you've prepared as 'interesting'?
That's what I was told about both recently. "Shit shoes and unpalatable meal Lucy". That's whatyou WANTED to say, isn't it?

Thanks Curtise - you got my weekend off to a brilliant start with your kindness.

So, this week, I started to clear my wardrobe.My wardrobe rail had buckled with the weight of all my coats, I was forced to get rid of 50% of my clothes.

 I will be giving lots of these clothes away very soon - I'll photograph some of the items and my readers can have first dibs (what does 'dibs' mean?).

I spoke to a blogger who has been following me since the start - she was as lovely as her blog. Swore more than I imagined, but in a posh voice (!).

I volunteered my services at the local Women's Aid.

I started a short story for a magazine competition. I baked a lot.

Most importantly, I resumed running after a sedentary fortnight.

I wore a light rain jacket, it belongs to Liam. It's a garish garment, I look awful in it, but with the exception of trainers and lycra trousers, I refuse to shell out on special running clothes.

Vicky and Charmaine are graceful, dainty ladies who wear size 6-8 clothes. We met up to run together.
They wore coordinated lycra running clothes and looked every inch the fit, lithe sporty type.
I was dreading the run, I knew I'd wheeze and struggle, and imagined every passer-by thinking "look at that poor fat lady  trying to keep up with those skinny girls".

We ran along a cycle track, dodging dogs and their turds, inhaling the odd gnat,  commented about it being nice to get out of the house, escape the children for a while.
By the time we were back on the main road, after about a mile and a half, Vicky spotted a former running partner of hers, he stopped to talk. I don't like stopping when I run. He told us about   completing the London marathon, introduced his girlfriend, who looked less than pleased about running with him, and about talking to us.
She seemed to warm to me, the most - probably because I looked unfit and scruffy.

Once we resumed running, we quickly picked up the pace. I needed my asthma pump. Unbeknownst to me, a few pea-sized pieces of pocket debris had collected in the mouthpiece of the pump. These made their way straight into my respiratory system, causing me to choke, splutter, cough and spit. I was unable to take a deep enough breath to speak, and explain what had happened.

I ran for another five minutes, and took a short-cut to my house. I felt a right idiot. As I sit and type this, my chest still hurts a bit.

Now, I feel better. A lot better.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Get a booth!

'Technical difficulties' with the train added an hour and a half to our journey to Bath yesterday.
During a half hour wait at Bristol Parkway station, my friend Clare bumped into 'Mr Nice' Howard Marks. I was on the toilet. I use italics because it's a joke beteen my mother and I. She once rang her hairdresser, who lived with his mum. "Is Mark there please?"
"Can you ring back in 20 minutes love?" replied his mum "he's on the toilet".

I think it took mum longer than 20 minutes to stop laughing.

After a hurried lunch involving a frustrating and fruitless effort to redeem an online code which would have cut our bill nearly in half, we went on to Thermae Spa
There, we shed several layers of skin and stress in the various steam rooms and heated outdoor pool. 
We witnessed several couples engaged in heavy petting, one female accidentally booted Clare in the back, as she clung to her partner's neck and used him as an ad-hoc float whilst she cavorted and splashed like a child. 

Our time at the spa had to be cut short, thanks to the poor train service - Sundays are 
never a good time to go anywhere on public transport in this country. 
It was, however, staying over at Clare's on Saturday night which provided the best relaxation and tonic. I was pampered by Clare;  had a 3 course dinner, my nails painted, and excellent support and advice from her.

We talked at length about prostitution, Clare recently directed a documentary in Amsterdam, which focuses on the lives of several prostitutes. Clare was keen to point out that these ladies were 'normal, everyday people'. I didn't disagree, I've learnt not to say "I could never...." because so many things have happened which I thought never would in my life.  I get very irritated when I hear 'holier than thou' types preaching their morality.

I can safely say, though, that I WILL NOT be found stroking/licking/groping anyone in a public bathing space.
Nor they me.

More about Clare's documentary here

Friday, 20 April 2012

This is not my beautiful house

I looked away earlier when I spied a familiar face in town. I couldn't have just smiled and said "Hi!".
It required questions; "how are you, how's work, are you still married to that man who wears suit trousers even on the weekend (his name escapes me)?"

I was consumed with guilt immediately after walking past, and considered cutting my jaunt short, lest I'm faced with the far more awkward scenario;  "I didn't see you earlier when I gave you eye contact, but now I've LITERALLY bumped into you, I suppose it's time for us to  chat"

Of course, the other person always feels exactly the same, but the Human Traffic bar exchange scene (above) never takes place.

I couldn't go home though, it would have caused upset.Ricky is convinced that wishing wells really work, he saw it on TV, so it must be true. When Ricky wants to do something, it invariably ends up happening, his nagging is probably akin to Chinese water torture. We were to source a well and throw pennies in.

This is the best I could do

It went down well as you can imagine. Not a well, no water - it had to do.

As he complained, I looked up at the market roof, the patched-up panes of glass looked like little works of art to me

I knew how Ricky felt. I remember my brother wanting to ride on a magic carpet, he thought they actually existed. A stall opened on the market when he was about 6, it sold rugs, and was called Magic Carpets - he thought his chance had finally arrived.
 It was a crystal ball for me, I couldn't imagine anything more fascinating. I also wanted a musical jewellery box with a ballerina inside who would come to life when I opened it and tell me nice things.

I imagined when I was an adult I'd have one of those large wooden globes which opens up to reveal a selection of spirits,  a cabinet with glass shelves and lights housing a selection of crystal oysters, teddies, dolphins and flowers (just like my 'posh' friend). Maybe a fibre-optic lamp too, and an ashtray on a marble stand, the type which  crushes the cigarette butts, because of course, everyone smokes when they're older. Oh, and  Jacuzzi bath - that'd be essential, and a swinging seat out the back.

As I grew up, I wanted a phrenology head, an antique dressing table,  Kenwood food chef, a sub-woofer in the car, a walk-in wardrobe, a traditional Welsh dresser full of junk, a dishwasher.

Steerforth's post this week showed a selection of post-wine consumption purchases that have been languishing in his wardrobe. At some point, an item will catch our attention, and  it ends up in our possession even though, deep down,we know there is no 'need' for it.

So, I look around my home - there isn't a  globe drinks cabinet, phrenology head, Welsh dresser, or Kenwood Chef  to be seen.  In their place is what could only be described as stuff.  I can't remember wanting, needing or buying the majority of it, I've acquired it.

At no point did I say "what this house REALLY needs is a low quality table with 3 chairs instead of 4. At least one chair should collapse every time someone weighing over 5 stone sits on it. In the kitchen, I'd like a 12 pack of Andrex toilet roll to rest on top of the units, and for this to be a permanent feature. In the boys' room, I'd like the wardrobe, which mum's neighbour gave to me, to display 40 hideous teddy bears, gifts from the older family members. They'll collect the dust perfectly".

Perhaps I should have kept my visions alive and made those purchases, particularly a Welsh dresser.

Of course, I did bump into that person again, and exchanged the required pleasantries. 

"I wanna move to be honest Luce, the house is getting me down"

I ALWAYS wanted to live in her house since learning about their history at  primary school

"The furniture looks all wrong in there Luce"

I doubt her furniture looks as wrong as mine.

Maybe I'm best carrying on as I am. No regretful purchases as yet. 

Have you bought something you always wanted?

"this is not my beautiful house"

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Motherhood - questions answered

 I was tagged, by Sarah to answer questions on motherhood in a meme.

Despite all my whining, I genuinely like children, and always have. Not just mine, or my relatives'.  I like naughty children and cheeky children too, which is a good job.

My boys are; Liam - nearly 13,  Ricky - 4, and Sonny - 3

Describe Motherhood in three words

A beautiful nightmare

Does your experience differ from your mother's? How?

Yes, quite a lot. My parent's first child, a daughter, drowned when she was 2. Mum was pregnant with me at the time.
My mum was a bit older, had no family around to help, and didn't have many places to go and meet other mothers.
Motherhood seems to bring the same major highs and lows, no matter who you are.

What's the hardest thing about being a mum?

You don't ever know if you're doing it right

What's the best thing?

When they go  to bed full-bellied, smiling, clean, and say "goodnight mum, see you in the morning" -  that's when I feel deeply content

How has it changed you?

I went from being an irresponsible lager lout who spent all her wages on clothes and booze, to a   21 year old mum in an awful relationship all within a year. The steepest learning curve imaginable. You realise what you were capable of all along, it's a progression, you grow and change all the time anyway

What do you hope for your children?

That they continue to be so enthusiastic about the world

What do you fear for them?

Illness, addiction, heartbreak, rejection, vile in-laws, obesity, depression, continued global financial goes on forever

What makes it all worthwhile?


Please join in, if you want to, of course....

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Am I OK?

Hello! I'm fresh from a weekend away which involved sleeping off an anti-histamine induced coma, leading to my eyes looking as though they were welded together (with what resembled a finished bowl of cornflakes left to harden all day - the joys of conjunctivitis).

My poorly eye

I also fitted in an afternoon car boot sale ('ow much for the shampoo luv? "I wanna quid forrit, only used it a couple'a times see") and a walk by the seaside "mummy, this is BORING, I want to go to the fair and the 'musements, walking is RUBBISH!.

So, the weekend is over now, nearly.
I'm finishing off the wine I opened Saturday, but was too sleepy to drink. It's acidic beyond belief, and playing havoc with my palate, which is peppered with blisters from being too impatient to wait for my curry to cool down the other night. Waste not, want not,

The children have another week off,  our Easter break seems to have started a week later than England's schools. This week, I shall be shouting, sighing a lot, telling my three boys and my 9 month old niece (who listens the best) that I "haven't sat down since 6.30 am" and peeling potatoes, I always seem to be peeling potatoes.

I will continue to dream about having a house with an Aga and flagstone tiling. I will continue to pretend I'm living inside a film set, the film is about a nondescript mum of three who finds herself living a very exciting life rescuing orphans Princess Diana style, by smiling at them with my head to one side, I'll be dressed in a white shirt and jeans to look normal, but really, the outfit costs thousands.

I will give Liam £2 in the hope he entertains himself with it all day and won't require any further attention. I will suggest we all make cakes, then regret it. All they want to do is crush an egg with one hand and then eat the raw mixture (it's mine, all mine!). I will make small talk with my neighbour, it seems a fitting thing to do, she's only 4'9".

I will do loads and loads of washing, and hope it's a nice drying day. I will watch the seagulls circle the sky, hungry for the chicken carcasses from Sunday's roasts. I will tell Saj (I love how Raj has been replaced by  Saj at the corner shop) that I have 3 kids, not 4. The baby is my niece. He may or may not ask me if my jacket is 'forrin' - "your clothes are forrin, no? I not seen anything like them before".

I will fill the sink with hot soapy water and leave endless dishes 'to soak'.
I will let Ricky watch Fireman Sam, briefly, before the awful 'Welsh' accents drive me to despair.
 I will check for texts and emails, tutting as I realise the emails are from the bank and texts are telling me how much compensation I might get for "the accident you had". What 'accident'? I've always looked like this (boom boom!).

I will sigh some more, I will feel useless. I will have a good long think  and maybe even make an appointment to see the doctor.

I had my hair cut Friday (it's been years).
It was the first time I'd met the hairdresser, she's also an Optician! I ended up telling her a lot about my life, she emphasized. She said I seemed really down, and really confused. Suggested I may be properly depressed, not just 'fed up' as I've been telling everyone for ages. Recommended a brand of Antidepressants.
I'm not sure.
I'm sure I feel sad too much, I'm unable to make decisions because I worry incessantly about potential bad outcomes, I'm easily distracted, a little noise and light sensitive at times. Obsessive about doing things 'right' (even little thing like recycling) or I beat myself up for ages about it. I'm either eating all the time, or dieting and exercising like a lunatic.

I hide my feelings well, I vent here, but in 'real life' I'm not such a misery, honestly.
Am I depressed, or just human and need to accept that, and GET OVER IT? Will the Doctor decide or do I have to decide?

Sh*t, now I'm in a panic thinking that readers will be saying "she's after praise and attention all the time" (what with my last post being about appearance).I'm also in a panic thinking you may think I just said that to feel better. Or, that you think I'm a right freak who needs to get over herself. Those thoughts are fleeting, not  tinged with all-consuming paranoia at all...I am OK. I'm always OK.

Anyhow, I decided against buying this:

Are you OK?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Does my self-esteem look big in this?

I bought two late 1970's Diana annuals from a charity shop yesterday. I can't resist them, it must be the lure of double-entendre laden stories, the photographs of legends such as Gary Glitter and Alvin Stardust, and the excellent advice on how to make the most of yourself.

Romance, make-up tips, pop music and basic home-economics, all in one easy to read book with the odd quiz and crossword - a tried and tested formula to entertain teen and pre-teen girls for generations.
One article made me smile, it offered advice on staying fit and making yourself look attractive based on whether you live in a city or in the country. I'm guessing you city girls take the bus or get Dad to drop you off at school? Trouble is, not walking enough will make you unfit and won't keep you trim.

If you live in a remote village though, "such as the Orkneys" you may really be up against it when it comes to hair care. There's also an assumption that living in such a place will mean your parents don't allow you to wear eye make-up (but who needs mascara when there's Vaseline?).

Findings of a study recently conducted by Girlguiding UK were recently published. 1,100 girls aged between 7 and 21 were asked questions relating to issues such as weight, body-image, plastic surgery, marriage, the environment and education. None of the 'worrying' findings surprise me (click the link to see survey results).

I don't blame the media, men, mothers, or anyone/thing else for the lack of body confidence and general positive self-esteem in today's young woman. It's just nature, surely? Men are programmed to look for a mate who will make good breeding material, and vice versa. Child-bearing hips, boobs suitable for feeding a baby, healthy hair and skin, and knows how to cook a chicken? Perfect.
I just don't know where this notion of  ideally being THIN comes from. Thin means malnourished, possibly infertile and weak, or does it? Do men like 'thin' women? Maybe some men do because it makes them feel stronger, protective or paternal.

What is the ideal body shape? Tall, slim with big boobs, tiny waist, rounded bum, slim legs and nice feet (models always have huge feet!)? Do you know anybody this shape? I'm not even sure being tall is desirable, sweet little girlie type celebrities often end up being in the top 5 'world's sexiest/most beautiful women' category.

I know I've never felt 'right'. I see myself as clumsy, heavy on my feet, fat-bellied, awkward, ungainly and unkempt. I could do something about all of these things, and have tried in the past. My weight always goes back up, periods of grooming myself well don't last, and any attempts to behave more ladylike go out of the window after a large glass of wine/pint of beer. I pretty much turn into my father; become one of the lads.

Personality counts for a lot with both sexes, I just don't think you believe this as a female when you're young. It's competitive, a hormone-fuelled battle to win the top prize (the 'top prize in my fourth year at high school turned out to be gay). You don't work on your jokes, on your finer understanding of the rules of sport, on your slow-cooked leg of lamb with a redcurrant reduction, you just obsess about your face and body. You realise your face and body were OK when it's too late (despite warnings from your mother and other females). Someone can say "you look nice" 100 times, but if you don't feel it, there's no way it will sink in. Someone can tell say "you look fat" just once, and that's it. You will forever feel fat and unattractive.

Women try to look younger, slimmer, prettier and always have, we always will. That's not a bad thing. The bad thing is thinking that the path to happiness lies in 'becoming' something or someone. I think I'll always struggle with that stupid cycle of diet-weight-gain-diet-self-doubt, self-hate and unrealistic self-imposed standards of being a good 'woman'.  If it means trying your best though, I'm definitely doing that, just not all the time!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Food, glorious food

Yesterday evening, I watched several episodes of Human Planet. I wish I'd watched it first time around on BBC, because there were commercial breaks every 15 minutes on the channel.
It was almost surreal, watching people put their lives at risk to find food, then sitting on the  ground to eat it - cut to advertisements for chocolate cream cheese spread and oversized sofas.

Easter has become much more like Christmas, the supermarkets are plugging the ideal family get together for a gigantic roast dinner - "our three bird roast with ready made gravy, washed down with fizzy wine, followed by a cheesecake will be perfect" (a side of  Pepto Bismol advisable).
Back to the programme, and some Inuits are in a handmade kayak trying to throw poisoned spears at a Narwhal (their skin, ounce for ounce, contains as much vitamin C as an orange, apparently).

On the Ethiopian desert, it's the Hamar women who have the desired navigational skills to trek for 12 hours to get water from the well. That is something I really cannot imagine. I get lost wherever I go, I get lost on the way back from the toilets at a pub, I have THE worst sense of direction imaginable. Navigating a vast expanse of sand? - unthinkable."After the 7th sand dune ridge there's a bush - turn left there" amazing.
Turn the tap on, fill a glass.
"I don't like the taste of water" I have heard countless children and adults say that - the ultimate first world problem.

In my kitchen cupboards, I have 1kg of rice, 4 different bags of flour, 8 tins of chopped tomatoes, vanilla extract, enough porridge oats to feed us all for a month, turmeric, cumin, Asefotida, chilli powder, garam masala, paprika, peppercorns, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, Worcester sauce, olive oil....the list goes on.

Yet, do we really have it so easy? Since giving up work to look after the children, we've slipped further and further into debt. Rob leaves the house just after 7am,  gets home at 6pm. In the winter, he doesn't see daylight because his office has no windows. Our monthly shopping bill is more than our mortgage, and that's with me cooking nearly everything from scratch and buying cheaper cuts of meat for stews and casseroles. The supermarket is full of food from every corner of the planet, most of it ends up being processed and laden with salt and or sugar. The packaging ensures a weekly shop fills a huge metal trolley, but if the food was stripped down to it's actual value, in protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and so forth, it would probably only fill a kitchen sink.

I know you can have organic meat and vegetable boxes delivered, grow your own, you can shop daily  for locally produced food. A friend of mine makes her own washing powder, maybe I should try that. I have gone through phases of avoiding the supermarket, but inevitably there will be something I need to buy in bulk in order to 'save money' (though I don't ever feel I'm saving money).

Toilet rolls, we roll out between 4 and 5 per week in this house. I don't buy kitchen roll, I got sick of buying things which go straight in the bin after use. You know what? Kitchen roll is not a kitchen essential. I chop up old white towels and use them instead - washable, rinse-able and can be re-used for years. Liquid hand soap is another very wasteful product, all that plastic.
Still, we spend far too much money on grocery and non-grocery items for this house.

I suppose my point is, no matter how much man has progressed in the last few thousand years, his day is still taken up with a gruelling 'hunt' for food.
When you've had to wait for the tide to go out under a few metres of ice to quickly source fresh mussels (they had half an hour to dig and collect) and that only happens for a brief period during one season,  surely, those mussels will taste much better than that stale tuna sandwich you had half an hour to pop to the Co-Op for during your lunch break?

Nobody had rotten teeth on these programmes, nobody was obese. I'm not going to suggest they're all happy and healthy, BUT are we really all that different?