Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merrily on High...

Husband is home. Finally, after cancelled flights, airport stakeouts, plan changes, trains to Birmingham, new flights and a tonne of stress.

It feels great. Things haven't been easy for us but I know that no matter what - we are better and happier together than apart.

As I write my Mother creams a cheesecake she made as I hate Xmas pudding. She has toiled today on the food, bought the crackers, peeled the veg and tried to make it the best she possibly can. I am putting my inner demons to sleep and going to just relax and focus on the here and now. The things that make me lucky.

Sproglet is working himself into a tiny frenzy anticipating St Nick squeezing down our chimney. My stomach knot unravels - a by product of Xmas's past: when my parents would argue over who got me for Xmas dinner and I would wolf down two diners in quick succession to keep the peace.

I think my new years resolution has got to be to do more yoga or somehow to relaxxxxxxxxxx and stop stressing my head off. Ironically last year's resolution was to stress less - ha!

So pin up the mistletoe, uncork a bottle, light the fire, fill a stocking, stuff a turkey, roast some spuds, watch 'It's a wonderful life' or whatever gets you in the mood and have yourselves a merry little xmas.....

Here's to 2010. X

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Snow Came Again....

....and refused to melt away. My marriage was the only thing to begin to melt down. What is it with my life that the minute the bulbous fluffy flakes drift down my stress levels seem to go straight up? The snow began on Thursday - an innocent little flurry hoping to paint the landscape only to whip through the air and disappear the moment that they landed. Sproglet had the mother of all toilet accidents - a violent stomach bug exploding within him that gave him no time to connect his brain with the urge to purge. Oh, the horror. The horror. I packed him off to nursery and duly got the 3pm call that signalled his return and quarantine from his pals. By Friday the snow was no longer playing with the idea of creating a wonderland and instead had launched a full on 6 centimetre assault.

My sitter cancelled. The car couldn't be moved. The roads were an icy death trap. Sproglet and I trudged to the shops and I had to stop in the post office to blow on his frozen tiny toes. He cried because it was so damn cold. I still made it out to work xmas drinks - nothing was going to stop me. But boy did that take some serious planning and begging and all sorts. Perhaps because I was tired the next day and the snow refused to lessen it's firm grip on everything, that made me slightly on edge. Husband disappeared to sleep for 12 hours - a punishing week at work - de rigueur at this time of year for him - left him shattered. A knot began to twist it's way up my stomach and settle as a lump in my throat. We were ships that passed in the cold dark winter nights - barely trading words, hardly embracing, strangers in the same house.

Even on the rare occasions when he was home, Husband was the ghost in the room - his flesh there but his mind engrossed in a movie, on the computer, in a book or magazine, never engaged with me. I resented the fact I did the Xmas list, sent the cards, got the gifts, posted said gifts, packed, washed clothes, planned and sorted and arranged and got zero thanks in return. I felt lonely and taken for granted. He was there but not really there and I... I wanted to be anywhere but there.

The row brewed, in perfect time with the subsequent snow storm. Visiting friends departed after a festive xmas lunch in a toasty pub and braved a 2 hour drive that turned into a 12 hour marathon drive home. I unleashed my resentment, my loneliness, my anger, my frustration, my disappointment at a bewildered Husband. He felt victimised. My best friend had moved house and in the hectic-ness I had failed to help her - the snow making me a prisoner. My packed diary keeping me away. I braved the cold and marched to her lovely new house brandishing champagne - the weather had kindly chilled on route. Tears tripped me and I didn't really know why. I just felt so... well sad. Tired, unable to keep going in my hamster wheel. I need to change my life, our lives, the way his job is destroying us - and keeping us in this clamped fist of a money trap.

Then my flight home to Ireland got cancelled. I sobbed at the thought of my Mother alone over Xmas, and us snowed in, with no steaming turkey, and no main gift for Sproglet - it having been already shipped to N. Ireland. After buying new flights, (a cool £300) a hellish 2 hour train journey and a delayed flight from Birmingham - I am home, to my Mother's. Husband arrives tonight.

I slept for 10 hours, awoke and showered and today looked out at the view, absent of white stuff. I felt utter relief. A calm sense of peace that everything would be ok. I just needed to escape. I hate the fucking snow. On the surface it makes everything clean and fresh and a brilliant dazzling white. A quiet descends as the roads are deserted and everyone hibernates indoors. It would almost appear serene. And yet, beneath the surface it is utterly isolating, dangerous and somehow seeps in to every aspect of your life.

To some, it means Xmas. To me it means disaster. No cosy days unable to get to school or playground fights resulting in my tights having to dry on the radiator much to math's teachers discomfort. No fun and bright blinding sunshine and sliding down hills in joy. No, to me the perfect flakes just mean trouble.

The year draws to a close and with it reflection and a promise to make things better. As long as the snow stops, melts and stays the hell away, I reckon 2010 will be vintage.

Merry Xmas - and may all of them be any colour but fucking white.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Prangs for the memories

Another prang in my car. Jaysus - maybe I shouldn't be on goddamn roads. All truth be told I am not one of the world's greatest drivers - Jenson Button I aint. However, the snow crash car write off wasn't my fault - that was the weather. The pesky snow and slippery invisible ice. The scratch to my neighbour's car the very day I moved house and acquired my aunt's old car (in fact the very moment I put the keys in for the first time and pulled out and misjudged the fecking space.... scrrrrattttcchh) it wasn't my fault either. I'd owned the car for all of about 5 seconds, so that was an 'initiation' scratch.

Today my head was bursting with stuff to do and no time to do it in and all the nonsense that spins in my brain and I had put the sat nav up and was trying to get out of a park on a sharp nasty corner bend. I was taking my sweet ass time as I didn't want some boy racer speeding down west end lane, careering into me as I pulled out. I waited. The cars flew past, a flurry of headlights - then I moved off. Missing completely the woman coming from a street across the road on my right. She had pulled out, I pulled out - she had been in my blind spot and so guess what, yep, I hit her.

I've sustained only car scratches - I can live with them. She has a dent/scratch combo. She thinks she might need a new door. I think I need a new head. I'm so angry at myself for being so hasty and for not seeing her. My insurance is already sky high.

Husband and I work hard, he earns a good wage, I earn a pittance for the weight of work I do. Yet we never get a goddamn break - it is always something to pay - boiler, nursery fees, a dryer, you name it - and now a fleeting moment is likely to cost me £500 or maybe much more.

With Christmas round the corner like an expensive smear test I can't fucking avoid but boy I wish I could, I need this crash like the proverbial hole in my head.

Arrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhh. Maybe I need refresher lessons?

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Money Trap

Life plays tricks on you. Whilst at school you are told to work hard, get the grades, go to Uni, get a job - world is your goddamn oyster.

So you work your tiny butt off (or in my case wake up at 4am on the day of said exam and cram like crazy) and get to Uni and find a chosen path that if you're lucky, you can proceed in and make a decent living. Now I've pretty much never done a job just for the raw cash - if you work for the joy of money alone - then I reckon a little bit of your soul starts to shrivel. I've always thrown myself at things full speed - the word 'can't' banned in my book. You can do or be anything you want.

They lie. You grow up and get the career and house and kids and a new word shows up - compromise. Because how the hell do you get a kid to school at 9am and then get to work (40 mins away) for half past? And who picks up the kid from school at 3:15? No one tells you this - that at some stage of your life unless you are filthy rich and can afford a live in nanny - your life, your career needs to change. Not one woman in my office in a senior position has more than 1 child.

Husband and I lay awake last night debating our relationship, our money, our jobs, our life. He wants away from his job - but we have a mortgage to pay, we have a child to feed. We have somehow unwittingly signed up for the money trap - we now need to work to fund what we have: the house in the good area, so Sproglet can go to good state schools, the car, the nursery care for said Sproglet, etc etc. Husband feels pressure, I feel stress. He works nights, I do days, we meet... at weekends when I wanna run the social gauntlet having been a house prisoner for 5 days (bar work) and he wants... peace. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum and it causes us to grind our little irritations, water them until the seeds become massive weeping fucking willows and we do all but kill each other.

We want a ticket out. Yet still have our much loved house. Our very simple, cheap car. The good schools for our Sproglet. Maybe even another child! Ha! Like we could afford that! £927 a month in childcare... I don't think so!

I fell for those lies and yet all is brings is struggle and guilt. Instead of Xmas joy - it hangs on my shoulders - every part of it a chore that has to be squeezed in along side my full time job and time with Sproglet.

I wish I had answers. The new year is about to dawn and I'm determined to take some months off to write this damn book - even if I end up in debt to the eyeballs... It feels like a little oasis I need to swim to for a while. Husband has to find his own way through the labyrinth - I try and hold his hand but he is proud and needs to work out his own solution. I look around - and without sounding like a wanker Tory - I see people on benefits who have 6 kids and a house paid for by the government. I live near those who don't work, who have hired help, who don't have to sweat the bills. I'm in the no mans land in between - the sad middle classes who bought the lie, swallowed the sucker up, applied themselves and ended up on this merry-go-round.

I promise you, I aint bitter - even if this post sounds like I have been licking a lemon for the past few days. I've just had this floating round and round and round in my head - and I needed to get a load off my ever-sagging chest.

Before y'all say it - the way out aint being debt free - that isn't my issue. It's the trying to be all things to all people and somehow have one single second that is just for me - like now, writing this, is so damn hard to do...

One last thing - I can't tell you all how much I've been appreciating the comments of late. Strange as it sounds, it gives me comfort and much joy to know there are like minded souls across the globe who 'get' me. You make my day.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Why are the English so cold???

The English are so unfriendly. There I've said it. Actually I will clarify - the SOUTHERN English. Constantly disappointing. Apologies to those few southern English folk that I do like - you guys are obviously not included in my wild generalisation - but today I got concrete proof that the SEs are colder than Canada at a particularly vicious winter.

My story. One night I was drunk. No surprises there. I travelled home on the train to my little village and went to take a seat. I asked a posh woman to move her bag and let me take a seat as the train was bunged. She reluctantly moved it and muttered 'I hope you have a ticket!' Fuelled by drink and feeling ten foot tall and bullet proof I asked her 'excuse me, what did you say?' Now that little episode could be my case in point - but no, I will go further.

Annoyed and now being ignored by posho SE - I moved seats and chanced upon a couple who had sneaked into first class without appropriate tickets - and were giggling like school kids. Delighted to have found partners in crime as I too had a ticket, but not one for first class, I joined them. We began chatting and then gabbled the whole train ride home. I moaned about Militant Mothers - especially ones in my hood that don't work and just spend their husband's dosh as they look down their nose at me... We all cheerfully bonded. The grumpy man next to me who at first appeared aggrieved, could withstand the banter no longer and joined in. By the time we departed the train he announced that the 3 of us had made his journey a complete joy. Bless him.

Nice couple offered to walk home with me as it transpired nice girl lived opposite my house! However, when we got to the pub at the bottom of the street, suddenly they went into secret squirrel mode - he gave her money for her babysitter (she has a young son) and told her he would hide out in the pub til she told him to come back... Hmmm. She and I walked up the hill home - never mentioning how bizarre it all was.

Since then I think I have seen her baby Father move out - and now nice bloke from the train is around a lot. I've bumped into them a couple of time and we have exchanged a bit of banter. So far - so nice.

Then today I take Sproglet to the park to run off some of his boyish energy. We get there just as nice couple and two small kids with them are walking in - they walk past my car as I am trying to park and I shout a hello. Once inside I imagine we will trade some Xmas chat and how they are etc. I walk in, Sproglet charging ahead to the swings and see them a little way off at a table. Nice woman and her son. Nice man and I assume his kid? I shout 'how are you guys' and he answers politely but there is something in his stance - the way he doesn't engage in any more conversation, the look on his face that I register as - don't come over. I feel it and I know to keep my distance. They play with the kids, going from one kids' park activity to another - while I studiously make sure Sproglet and I are a safe distance away. At one point nice now cold man's kid and Sproglet run towards the same climbing frame and I can see his slow walk, his horror that we are going to speak. I smile awkwardly and he ignores me while he talks to his own child. I hurry Sproglet away. I leave the muddy park quickly.

Somehow, I am disappointed. I knew their relationship was complicated. I knew they were kindred spirits, fun folk who could have a drink and a laugh. Nice woman and I had said we must swing by each other's places and have a cuppa.

But today I felt the cold shoulder. Nothing was said - but they made no effort to speak to me or ask about Sproglet. I just knew. They wanted to keep together and not near me. I'm not so sad that this rejection wounds me - it just, grates on me slightly. What is wrong with people???

What if I bring up Sproglet here - will all his joy and sociability be squeezed out of him and will he too turn into a SE robot?

Yes, I'm generalising. But I feel it. There isn't the warmth of the Irish, the natural openness that tailors their every conversation. The ability to chat to all, regardless of age, colour or creed. (I do know that we spent years bombing each other - but I'll ignore that religious nightmare for a second). Whatever their reasons today - nice but now cold couple could have said a brief hello. But no.

I'm thawing out at home. Wrapping myself in soup and Sproglet's hugs. But I think it'll take a darn sight more to keep out the coldness I feel here on a daily basis.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Groundhog Day....

I'm a bit fed up. No real concrete worthwhile reason - I just am. Life feels a bit groundhog day - in cold wet miserable grey weather that stretches before me as autumn makes a hasty exit and winter blusters in. My life is all about rushing and doing and yet never really achieving anything. Except the need to rush and do all over again.

I miss my carefree spontaneous days when I could be like 'yeah, let's have a drink after work' and 'sure, what time is that movie?' and 'another round - make 'em doubles.' Now my life is all about 'why didn't you get the f**king milk?' and 'didn't you pay the electric bill?' and 'it is your turn to wipe his arse.' Not quite the same.

Don't get me wrong - Sproglet is just brilliant at the moment - gave up his dummy to Santa and has done cold turkey all week. I'd say he cracked his addiction pretty swiftly, bless him. Santa in return has to cough up for a spectacular Buzz Lightyear and a talking Lightening McQueen - I thank you Disney, for getting your mitts on my child so early, and in turn my wallet so tightly.

Everything feels a bit grey. No my Xmas decorations aren't up yet. The thought of writing Xmas cards fills me with dread - where will I get the time for that little nightmare - filled with scrabbling everywhere for addresses and trying to remember who bothered to send you a card last year... Don't even start on the Xmas shopping malarkey - and this year, I can honestly say there is nothing I want. Not in a 'I just want peace for all mankind' mushy kinda way - nope, I just feel a bit over it all - already. Perhaps the shops filled with Xmas overkill from two minutes past Halloween has made me lethargic already.

What do I want? My figure back. To flirt with young boys. Oh yes I want to point out that I have always thought Aaron whatsisface.... Johnson! was hot - even though he be 19 and my work colleagues called me a 'paedo' because of it - and now I am vindicated as he is marrying - yes, MARRYING, Sam Taylor Wood - she be 42!!! Time. Peace. To lie on the sofa and watch an entire box set of Dawson's Creek and not be interrupted. To sleep in. To go to 3 movies in a day. To mooch around shops looking at shoes that I once afforded - nay, were bought for me, from clothing budgets, in my heady presenting days...

Husband and I have barely traded more than 5 words in a week. He was in France - some fancy chateaux to sip Cognac for a few days courtesy of a drink label. Nice. I flew to Belfast with Sproglet who vommed in the cab on the way to the airport. Then I got back and we both have been working like maniacs every since. We only speak to bitch about who should put on a wash. Feck me, it aint glamorous is it?

And even when I had glamour a few weeks back - when I hit some swanky members only clubs in London (Milk and Honey, Bungalow 8) and drank ridiculously expensive cocktails and got smashed, to the extent I danced - alone - in one bar (soooo not a good look) - I was near death's door the next day - boy did I suffer. (Maybe not as much as one friend who also did the 'vomit in the taxi' trick, but not because she gets car sick sadly). I simply can't hold my liquor anymore.

The Xmas bug has yet to bite. Maybe a bout of stressful shopping with Husband through the minefield of Westfield shopping centre will help that along, or send me spinning towards the happy tablets. 2.5 weeks until school is out (well, work) and I get 2 whole weeks off. Naturally I have packed them with seeing folk and charging around the country like a madwoman - trying to squeeze a years worth of social activity into 3 days. See that is what happens when you have no time and a full time job.

Have I said this before somewhere? Yes, I am even boring myself. I'll sign off before I send all readers - all 6 of them - reaching for the gin.

Bah Humbug.