Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Overwhelmed, Oscars and on top again...


I know you thought I'd never gone away. But I had... Since a week ago on Monday I have been inhabited by an alien lurgy being - that made me exhausted, ill and downright depressed. It started that Monday night - I felt overly tired, sore muscled, not really myself. But I refused to accept in any way that I was ill. I don't get ill. The whole winter had practically passed and not even a sniff of a cold....

My Mum was over helping with the kids over the half term hols, and I kept saying I must get out and see a movie while she was here to babysit - but could I get out the door? I just fell into bed every night - utterly exhausted. Not feeling right at all. You know when you can't quite put your finger on it - but you feel are on the verge of collapsing into a sweaty sore heap?

Wed night I jumped into a roasting bath  determined to rid myself of this demon possessing me. But, on leave the next day - I couldn't get out of bed. I felt so weak and cold to my very bones, I wrapped myself in jumpers and scarves and duvets and still - I couldn't get warm. My Mum had to leave, getting a taxi to the airport and I actually wept, I wished she could stay so badly. It doesn't matter how old you are - when you are ill, there is nothing as great as your Mum bringing you soup and water and buying you oranges to squeeze. Once she had gone, I still had children to take care of. To bathe and feed and put to bed. There is NOTHING as difficult as trying to parent when you are sweating out poison and your head feels like it is in vice.

Friday was Sproglet's big day out in London: the London Eye and the Tower of London. I'd been so excited about our family day out... but I couldn't go. Sproglet cried - which made me in flu-induced, weak as kitten state, also cry. I know! get it together woman! But I couldn't. I lay on the sofa watching 'Death Becomes Her' feeling every bit as rough and Meryl and Goldie (post elixir drink, 10 years on...).

Saturday and sunday continued in the same vein. I don't think I dressed for 2 days. I didn't recognise myself when I passed a mirror. Husband was shocked at the voracity of my cough (a by-product of the flu thing). I'm asthmatic - my lungs are my achielles heel. I hacked and spluttered until I thought a throbbing lung was going to shoot out onto the table in front of me. Regularly I almost threw up. Nasty. Husband tried to keep out of my way, declaring me the grumpiest ill person he had ever had to deal with. He did conceed he hadn't heard me cough so badly since he had known me. A trip to the docs on Monday confirmed that the 'virus' I had pretty much worked through, had left me a lung choking present. She prescribed steroids and rest.

There comes a point, when you really have watched all the Tv that you can. Third Man (not as amazing as I expected. Yes, I know Orsen Wells is in it - but still), Nashville (more on that another time) and  Oscars!! Thank god for the red carpet. Honestly, when you are in a crumpled heap - there is nothing better than watching US 'hosts' tell stars how fabulous they are and how they want each and every one of them to win - and 'WHO ARE YOU WEARING?'  Lots of carnival floats and bullet nipple frocks and glitter - and so much BOTOX. Zeta Jones, is that you? Hiding in amongst that make-up and facial 'work? And Zellweger - dear god, it is a wonder the woman can eat - her face is so, so... solid. Glassily smooth and utterly terrifying. Thank god for 2 people: Jennifer Lawrence (a breath of fresh air - she has a personality, and humour and sounds pretty normal) and the divine Ben Affleck. His speech was so raw and honest, I just wanted to him a hug, nevermind an Oscar. Bless him for saying marriage is work - and barely being able to speak his kids' names, he was so emotional. To admit his failings  (and everyone has career ups and downs - just most don't involve J-Lo) and to be so humble about his richly deserved success, made me champion him all the more.  I loved his line about not holding grudges - an imagine that must have been pretty damn hard to do in a town that had him written off 8 years ago as a Michael Bay has been.

Oh and of course Daniel. Day Lewis is such a lovely man - obviously the best actor of any generation - let alone now. But the rest of the Oscars? Oh I was delighted the beautoful paper man animated short won - I saw it as the starter movie to 'Wreck It Ralph' and is was easily the better of the two movies! (Check it out if you can). But apart from that - Seth? We saw your boobs - really, is that the best you can do? And that over-long Shatner idea that wwas berable for about a minute - and then all that sing-a-long-a-dance debacle. It made me yearn for the John Hughes tributes of past years. Was Ricky Gervais busy or something? Or Tina and Amy? MacFarlane looked uncomfortable - except when he was slagging off our Adele or a Kardashian... The theme of his night? Us women are just second class citizens - I mean, boobs.

Thank gawd for sky plus fast forward as I raced through all the sphincter-clenching presenter chatty bits and listened to the acceptance speeches. My, there are a lot of long haired men who work in movies eh?

Anyway, tonight - 2 days of steroids in, (one to go) and after sucking down enough becotide inhaler juice that I could - I can breathe again. It is so great to breathe without wheezing like some old carthorse. I am not hacking up a lung every 3 minutes. My head not longer throbs, my body no longer aches. It feels great! I really had forgotten just how great it feels to NOT have flu. I am NEVER missing a flu jab in winter ever again. One little prick could have saved all of this...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Mean Girl - saucer of milk for the table in the corner!!

*Hacks and splutters like a 90 year old 2 packs a day Marlboro smoker - who ripped off the filters*.

I have a cough/flu thing. It's making me feel all achy and sore and grouchy and mean. So forgive me - this is a mean girl, self pity party - and if you don't like it - tune on out now.

Ok, so you're still here. Gawd bless you. This week I had my bi-annual meltdown. Sometimes I have fewer than that - but this week it just all got on top of me. Obviously I was coming down with this virus/flu thang and that combined with half term holidays tiredness (why do schools ever have a break - I mean really, do they have to??) and the fact I studied my finances - sent me over the edge. After I pay nursery fees (£1102 in case you ask), bills, mortgage, tv license, mobile and stuff - do you know who much I have left to spend each month?

Guess. Go on.

Be you are thinking a few hundred.


Nor a £100.

Only £24. Yep - £24 A MONTH. That won't buy me a trip to the dentist, a hair cut, a new top or even lunch out with the kids. So I threw in the towel. Told Husband something has to give. How on earth did we go from being ok to this? Ahh yes, child at nursery plus his paycut - and voila!

I've had enough. When Sproglet's curtain pole fell down in his room I just sobbed, thinking 'Husband can't DIY his way out of a fecking box, and we can't afford to get this fixed.' How did it come to this? How did I GET HERE?? WHERE THE HELL DID I GO WRONG?

I've been trying to save some money on the side - from writing work - to pay for some drinks at my 40th party in April. I think I am trying to dilute the fact I am 40 by partying and thus forgetting that the reason I have to have the party is actually because, dear god, I am 40... (I should be paying for the patch of stones/bush outside the front of the house to be tidied - yes make the tidy your bush jokes now, go on... We do look like the pikeys of the street - and our front door pane has broken - and the glass was made in the 1890s or something so you can't get it any more - JOY - to replace costs a mere £600. The broken pane may well be there for another 6 years methinks...) But I figure that my mates deserve a drink for putting up with my bleatings for so long...  I really want to afford to buy them all a margarita and say 'cheers, thanks for being there you lovely people you.' But can I get writing work??? Can I heck. I pitched to a woman at Boots magazine this week - bounding full of ideas, and she asked what I'd done before (bear in mind this wasn't me trying to write for the New Yorker - this is a SHOP magazine) and when I told her - radio silence.

Then I thought, you know, there are so many good writers out there - I'll take a peek at a few blogs - cos some - like The Girl Who - are amazing. So I flicked through a few - you know ones who get 270,000 hits... OH SWEET JAYSUS. Who are these people??? One woman writes about 'hubbie and 2 kids' and how she likes tea and do you like tea and wow here is me drinking some tea. And I lost the will to live at the third sentence. (Told you this was a mean girl girl post). There are stories of a great dinner! Craft things to do! The kids prefer my husband's phone :( and such other drivel. But it gets 270,000 hits!!! WHY????

I must be going wrong somewhere - not just in life, but even in the way I write... I've pitched to Babble a fair few times - but again - radio silence. Is it me, do I offend?  It is just so hard to find the time to do stuff, when I work full time, have to bath and bed the kids and then think of how I am going to carve out a career in writing... Only then to be met with *tumbleweed goes past*.

Maybe I should just give up and I don't know.... Blog about tea. How much I like it. And call my Husband 'Hubbie' and dissolve into blandness.

Normally I'm pretty chipper. Normally I see the glass being beyond half full - brimming over with possibilities in fact. But today, in the midst of my sickness, feeling broke and rejected - I don't feel positive at all. I feel spent. I often wonder how other people do it - and do it all so well. This career change thing, the money thing, the juggling family with kids thing. The carving out writing jobs thing... I salute you, I really do.

Right, I'm taking my mean girl flat ass, and my hacking spluttering cough and I'm going to sweat it all out in a bath the size of Britain. And maybe some day soon, I'll regain my sense of humour... Take care.

CM x

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson - why GIRLS is the most honest show on tv

This week Lena Dunham's provocative show (which incidentally is only labelled as such simply because people can't find another adjective to describe seeing a normal woman get her kit off on screen) was met with outrage when - wait for it - she dared to have her character pull Patrick Wilson! 'How dare she?' they huffed and puffed - when he was so clearly 'out of her league.' Even my Husband came home and insisted I turned the episode off - angered by this 'fantasy,' declaring 'it would never happen.'

I wanted to punch him out right there. I mean, are you KIDDING ME? Do folk (scratch that) - MEN, really believe that only size zero hairless models get the hot guy? This is insane. In my days of bad red hair - kind of ginger spice gone wrong with bleach - and pre-dental work, a healthy size 12 and more muffin that top, I scored some pretty hot guys. I was no oil painting - but oddly I thought I was. Also, are men really that stupid that they cannot grasp fellow blokes may be attracted to other attributes a woman might possess - such as wit, warmth, intelligence, boldness, charm, vivacity and great chat - or do they assume women have to be barbified before a sex god will give them the time of day?

The moment that shocked me was NOT Hannah getting laid - but the fact she was able to get the 42 year old perfect Doctor, to beg her to stay. One night stands are classified as such by the fact that before you have time to say 'I take my coffee black' they are calling you a cab. Yet here, he offered her steak, a cashmere jumper and a luxurious bed for the night.

If you missed the ep - a recap: Hannah is at her local coffee house, where she works - and in strides aforementioned Doc, annoyed that the cafe's trash keeps filling up his dumpster. After a minor row with the manager (Hannah's mate and boss), he leaves. Hannah follows him home and apologises - explaining that it was she who committed the bin faux pas. Then, out of nowhere, she kisses him. Now this DID shock me. NOT because he is hot and she is not a size 0. But because she was sober! Balls of STEEL lady! I don't think I've ever puckered up and thrown myself face first towards a man without having at least 6 martinis down my gullet. Doc responds and they shag. Then he offers to cook her steak and she ends up staying for the weekend...

Next shocker - again, nothing to do with looks here people - is that instead of him getting his rocks off - Hannah demands instead that HE make HER come. Bravo again! How often are we made to watch drivel where women are on their knees - literally and metaphorically - sucking up (excuse the pun) to a man's ego; OR lying back, staring at a ceiling, jiggling around as if they are in ecstacy? How many times have you wanted to throw your popcorn at the screen yelling 'NO ONE COMES IN THAT POSITION THAT I HAVE EVER MET. EVER.' So here we have the Doc obliging - and it feels raw, intimate, sexy and real. At last, at freakin' last.

But for the me, the moment that made my toes curl with a horrific sense of 'been there, got the wardrobe let alone the bloody T shirt' - is the scene at the end where Hannah opens herself up - vulnerably realising some home truths - and trying to make sense of it all; needing understanding, empathy and approval. (Mind you, this usually happened to me after the third bottle of red had been uncorked - so once again, bravo for the sober purging). Dunham doesn't make it easy to like Hannah - when the Doc tries to relate to her rantings offering up the fact he too had some sexual bounderaries crossed at a young age, she dismisses him immediately; she's too self involved, too caught up in her own angst. But have we all not been that girl at some point in our 20s? The one who is spunky and sassy and fun and wins the boy over - only to show our soft underbelly and have him run for the hills? Instead of his obvious disappointment in her - I felt a crushing disappointment in HIM.

Poignantly, after he has gone the next day, she wanders around his apartment - not hoking in his closets, which frankly I would have done - but instead, trying on his lifestyle for size. As she reads the paper and spreads jam on her toast, you get the sense that she tried on the golden slipper of comfortable living and was surprised to see it fitted darn nicely. Again, we've all been there, no? Living in some poxy flat above a kebab shop in Seven Sisters, sharing our kitchen with a plague of mice - dating older, wiser (?) men with fancy apartments and money to burn - and enjoying their luxuries more than they do... Fantasising about that life - without actually wanting the man himself in the equation...

GIRLS, for me, is so brilliant because it isn't afraid to show women returning to men with whom they have downright awful sex. For showing friendship is our family and all the trials and tribulations that comes with a flatshare. The quest of our 20s to find ourselves, and find another person to share it with. It's all pretty fucking exhausting. The fact that Dunham isn't afraid to expose her voluptuous flesh isn't the most shocking thing about girls - it is the antiquated, misogynist reactions to it.

BOYS - shame on you.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Get your cook on....

'For the love of god, can't you just help me? Can't you see I'm struggling?'
'Give me one suggestion. Just one. You are useless.'
'Why do I have to do it?'
'I hate this. More than anything.'
'How about I wipe Sproglette's arse after every nappy fill this week if you would just......

It drives me insane. To save money in these lean times, and because I don't want to have to think about what to have for dinner when I stagger in from work with two tired fractious kids every evening, I sit on a Saturday morning - tea in hand - trying to work out what to eat at every meal for the next 7 days. Occasionally I'll throw out a 'how about sausages and mash on Sunday evening?' and Husband, even though he will sink a bottle of red and about 30 Oreos on that said Sunday, maybe even half a bag of crisps too - will reply 'yeah... I won't eat the mash. I don't do carbs after 6pm.' (Yes, he sounds like a middle aged housewife).

Sproglet will then chip in 'I hate mash.'

How can a child of mine - of Irish descent, HATE mash? Mash is the god of comfort foods - especially made with 50% butter and cream.  So I scratch the sausage and mash idea and write 'beans on toast' instead. Then I growl a bit and move on to the next day. Lunch at work?? What to have? To save me eating canteen stodge or the overpriced dried out paninis that you wait six years for in the bar/cafe on site?

Monday - the day after the gluttonous weekend - will have to be diet day. Day of 500 calories and a total lack of humour. Day of staring at a colleague's arm as if it is a breast of chicken. Day of hating the world. Day of dreaming about all you are going to eat the next day - therefore negating all you have gone through during Monday's day of hell.

Friday is always easy food day - something to bung in the oven (presently broken oven that wails like a demented dragon) to save me even thinking about cooking. Genuinely though, I like to cook. If you held a gun to my head, I would admit that yes, Husband is the better cook. According to him I burn everything or cook the very life out of it. (Well, if you had ever had a severe case of campylobacter you'd cook the feckin' life out a chicken too). He meanwhile spends a whole day boiling bones and reducing stuff to produce 4 tiny ice cube sized demi-glace stock. A WHOLE DAY. For 4 ICE CUBES. Seriously. After a whole day's cookin' I would expect a Viking banquet. He also manages to use every cooking utensil in the house - and when we lived in the flat I did once spend a Sunday scraping duck fat off the ceiling....

Working full time has culled my cooking pleasure. I sometimes get the head staggers at the weekend and do a kick ass roast, or use Gordon Ramsey's shepherd's pie recipe (there is that mash again - with Parmesan - yum!). Most of the time I like to do Thai food - lots of poaching of salmon in coconut milk and coriander on everything. The best place to find quick recipes is here. Olive magazine rocks - especially as it does this 30 minute meals section and also 7 meals for £30. My kitchen is coming down with tatty old magazines, with sticky pages and scribbled on notes; I can easily spend half an hour trawling through them trying to find 'that one recipe for chickpea burgers' that I made two years ago - before giving up and looking on line. Yet I refuse to throw a single one out - needing them for 'inspiration.'

I also read Olive for suggestions for 'chef's helpers' as I like to call them. You know, chutneys to make a coronation chicken dish sing, or a cheeky sauce that livens up a dull limp chicken breast without having to resort to some gawdawful ragu. (Ragu - the student sauce that should never be eaten post graduation - it just reminds me of the smell of damp clothes drying on radiators and tuna bakes). If like me, you like a little chilli to add some zing to your dishes - then check out these recipes. The thing I like best about Trees Can't Dance (apart from their groovy name) is that they have a little helper for everything - be it a marinade for your BBQ meats, a chilli jam for your burger or a paste to add some flavour to a dish. You can't go wrong with the chilli umami paste - and then claim to all your dinner party guests that you just rustled it all up with 'a few fresh herbs.'

In short - I like to cheat. What is wrong with a chipotle paste, or a Thai red curry one? Who has time to pummel and chop and grate and crush to make them?? I barely have time to boil rice, let alone use lemongrass. Plus these helpers, they still let me feel like I am cooking... I am still cooking the fish and the meat and I'm adding coriander on top and I'm pouring coconut milk into the rice and I'm reducing the sauce. So technically I am still COOKING. I am not just shoving a pizza in the oven. Except on a Friday when I absolutely am just shoving a pizza in the oven.

So back to the sodding list. Who wants steak baguettes on Saturday?
Husband: 'And why not lobster for dinner, do you think we're made of money?'
Sproglet: 'I don't like chewy meat.'
Husband: 'it's only chewy when Mummy cooks it.'