A Post About Friends , Which In Retrospect Probably Contains The Word “Asshole” A Bit Too Much For The Subject Matter.

I don’t blog much these days, a fact that absolutely none of you will have noticed. It’s not that you don’t care. Or, well, you might not. You probably subscribed 3 years ago and then promptly forgot about my irregularly spurty waffle ( which sounds like something you should never ever Google. Just don’t. ) It’s all cool though, it happens. No judgement here.

But for those still subscribed I feel the need to thank you for your loyalty. And your inability to clear up your inactive blogger subscription. I also find it vital to take this opportunity to tell you that YOU are important to me. We’re best buds. Chums. I feel close enough to you to try to tap you for a fiver. Or ask you to buy me doughnuts and tampons whilst you’re down the shops anyway. It’s a beautiful friendship. Which is why it’s such a wonderful example of synchronicity that after randomly deciding to do my first post in yonks I scroll back through this morning’s emails and find today’s daily prompt is the word “Friends“.

Well bugger me sideways, what are the chances?

It’s been a busy [ insert actual time absent here, I’m too lazy to look it up. A year and a half maybe? ]. Work was frantic, sporadic, and largely semi-satisfying. I took time to eliminate the toxic aspects of my life and gained a certain level of peace. I started posting on Instagram. I challenged myself. I put myself on a diet and lost a crapload of weight. I took myself back off a diet because despite what I’d been absolutely certain of the last 4 decades, being skinny didn’t make me happier. Or younger. Or drop dead gorgeous. I feel particularly pissed about the last one, btw.

I’m still a bit mental. Not much but it’s there. My favourite quote of all time is “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” And once I started an asshole eradication program I found my life went a lot more smoothly. I highly recommend it.

So now all I have is my family and my friends and it’s good. No, it’s really, *really* good. I thought for the longest time that to be happy I needed more. More money, more stuff, more achievements, a bigger better more me Me. More doughnuts, definitely. But turns out that what I really needed was less. Less pressure. Less assholes. And the friends? They’re just right. I feel I can finally tick them off my to-do list.

So, anyway, if you’re off down the shops………

NaNoWriMo : Where I Possibly Upset A Few Folk By Calling Them Tampons.

Write what you know.

It’s a piece of advice that crops up time and time again, and yet it bears repeating despite being so incredibly obvious.
Met an interesting woman behind the counter at the local chemist? Voila! You have your rambunctious Madam at Ye Olde House of Ill Repute and Clap Ointment Emporium. The spotty teenager who has the shelf-stacking job at the supermarket around the corner? He’s Patient Zero, fresh off the first commercial space flight ready to infect the Southern Hemisphere with a rather nasty epidermis-melting plague that rapidly decimates the human population. Except the Australians, obviously, cos they’re a hardy bunch.

Literally anyone can be lifted from reality, moulded by your requirements, and utilised to make you a crap load of cash. Some woman once met a hairy biker with a passion for urban horticulture down the pub, and decided a few years later to write about him in a bunch of books, and named him Hagrid. That turned out pretty well for her, so it’s good enough for me.

So the plan is:
1) Go out.
2) Meet interesting people.
3) Steal them.
4) Do a bit of writing.
5) Sit back, count money, move to tax haven.

Except…

I’m an introvert with social anxiety issues.
I kid you not.
I don’t really seem the type, do I? But like it or not, writing about what I know would end up being a 100,000 word monologue on the latest exploits going down in my fish tank.(The harlequins are a rather pleasant shade of pink, much like a freshly boiled prawn. Whenever I sit, nose pressed against the aquarium glass, I can’t help but wonder as they dart around exactly what they’d taste like dipped in cocktail sauce. In case you were wondering.)
It’s hard to write about people when you generally prefer to avoid them. I didn’t always.I dimly recall social interaction in my distant past, but what can I say? People can be bastards and I’d rather have a nice evening in with cats. And by “evening” I mean “rest of my life”.

People, to me, are like energy tampons. Some are heavy-duty and you just know from looking at them that they’re gonna suck and suck, others are moderately absorbent and you can hold out a bit longer. My Hubby, bless, is more of a pantyliner. He can be around all day and sometimes I need him, and sometimes I don’t, but he’s reliable enough to not potentially give me Toxic Shock Syndrome ( which, incidentally, comes second in the list of most embarrassing ways to die, directly after “death by much too large object being placed up your own bottom”) . He also doesn’t take it personally if I sneeze and accidentally pee on him… but I digress…

So what do you write about when you have to “write what you know”?

Day 3 : The enlightening self-help book.

Whilst I may seem to be the glowing poster girl for mental health, I am in fact just a smidgen mental. I flit playfully between “slightly eccentric” and “within spitting distance of psychotic”, but I’m largely just a big ol’ pain in my own arse, and that’s kept me out of the local nuthouse. Sadly, a lot of Borderliners can’t say the same. The stats for self harm and suicide are pretty depressing. We’re a damaged bunch and often a lot of hard work all round. I like to think I’m worth the effort, though the voice in my head says otherwise. ( The voice is me, by the way, not Jesus or Satan. I’m not *that* barking. But I do go on and on, one long derisory load of bull that makes me want to slam my head in the fridge occasionally ).

What life-changing advice could I possibly offer?
Here’s what I came up with :

1) You are not your diagnosis. All is not black or white ( though your nature may be screaming at you to see it that way ), and this is just a part of what you are. It’s no more you than that cracking pair of jugs you’ve got, or that genius IQ, or the propensity to ingrowing toenails, or that ability to roll your tongue. Those are you too, but they shouldn’t define you either. It’s not something to be ashamed of, you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to let the cheese slide right off your cracker, it just is what it is.

2) It’s vital to have a happy place, physically and mentally, and I’d heartily recommend sensory aids. Mine are:
a) My cats. My cats are freakin’ awesome. They’re just regular cats who do regular cat stuff ( nap, leave fur everywhere, vomit under the sofa ), but who *like me best*. Being followed around the house makes me feel like some sort of cat whisperer guru. You just can’t buy that sort of self-esteem boost.
b) Ice cream. It’s a cliché , but it works. Not that cheap nasty crap though. Buy the stuff that cost 4 times the price and that you have to hide at the back of the freezer behind the frozen spinach to keep the kids from eating it. If they want some they can just bloody well go buy their own. Freeloaders.
c) My dressing gown. It’s fluffy, huge, and it loves me. When I’m at my worst I’ll even go to bed in it, like some sort of onesie security blanket. Hubby hates it and says that it occasionally smells like a dead dog, but he’s just jealous of what we have.
d) My filofax and stationery. So I like to stick pretty stickers of frogs on stuff… don’t judge me! My extensive selection of washi tape doesn’t, and neither should you.
e) The sound of rain, and sitting on the beach. It’s probably a white noise thing, but it’s soothing in a way that medication isn’t. Not that I’m anti medication. If that works for you, then by all means take those babies and do it without feeling like some sort of life failure. People in pain take painkillers, same for you. Just a different drug.
Some people include photos of their kids, I don’t. Instead I include pictures that my kids have drawn for me. The distinction is very clear. The photos are a cause of stress when I’m already pushed to the max because it tricks me into thinking that I’m letting these kids down. Pictures that they’ve made for me, however, highlight that I’m doing ok. In them everyone is always smiling and Mama is always pictured biggest with a heart for a face and lots of kisses. Apart from the one where I’m depicted as a big ball wearing a bra. Not quite sure how to take that one, but I make sure not to walk around in my underwear anymore, just in case. Which, ironically, brings me to my last point …

3) Yes, you can still be a parent. Whilst a lot of Borderliners are the product of bad parenting themselves, you can step up and procreate without fearing for the sanity of your offspring. You’ll need a supportive partner. You’ll need to take turns and sometimes you’ll have to be absent whilst you go stroke your dressing gown behind a locked bedroom door. And you will, on occasion, stumble. But guess what? “Normal” parents do that too. It’ll be fine. Have faith in yourself, it’s half the battle.

OK, so maybe just a short book then. Less time reading, more time on working on it and taking it easier on yourself. I can live with that.

Tomorrow I may take a bash at erotica. At the very least that should do my viewing stats the world of good.

Duck Tales

Today I bonded with a duck.

I had planned to write about today’s daily prompt like a good little blogger… but a duck, man… a freakin’ duck! Duck trumps blog prompt, sorry.

I was on my way to pick up my two youngest from school, the journey of which consists of a walk around the school moat to the front gate. Now, I know without asking that a few people are going to have the phrase “Moat ?!? Your kids go to Hogwarts?” go through their heads, but alas…no. I can think of many many things I would not encourage in my children ( especially Brandon ) and magic is one of them. Well, maybe Lily would be ok… but Brandon? He’s more of a Voldemort Lite. So I’m shuffling along, dragging my ass in the way that a mother who knows her free minutes of day are due to be over any moment does, when I look towards the little moat at the sound of a tiny splash.

And there she is, speed-waddling in my direction. She’s not looking angry or scared, but there’s a definite hint of determination, so I stop walking so I don’t startle her as I’m expecting my new best bud to pick up some tasty morsel off the grass and be on her way. Didn’t happen. Instead she strolled up to me like we’d known each other forever and I’d raised her from an egg and tapped me lightly on the foot. It wasn’t a snippy “Nice feet, I’m gonna eat those” assault, it was more of a fist-bump “S’up?” moment. Given the choice I’d have stood there all day and spent time with my new avian chum, but assorted children were spewing forth from the school gates and experience has shown me that kids aren’t always at their nicest around wild animals, so I just said a polite “Hello!” and walked away.She returned to her important moat-based activities out of harms reach and I caught up with my dumbfounded Hubby who’s only words were “What, are you the Duck Whisperer now??”

I love nature, it provides balance in my life. As a born introvert, people are one long drain on my energy. It’s not like I dislike them, I just don’t like being around them. For instance, I have some great friends that I truly care about, which is only made better by the fact they live over the other side of the world. I can talk to them allllllllll day and not have to make eye contact or share a sofa with them once. Epic Introvert Win.

But nature, it’s like Anti-People. Everything that social interaction drains from me nature rejuvenates. My mind clears and I can take big breaths and level out. It’s like some sort of meditation, but with extra smiling and conversations with wildlife. When I say I was excited at the duck encounter I wasn’t just kidding, it felt like nature strolled up to me, put it’s arm around my shoulder, and said “Yeah, people suck don’t they? They just don’t understand us huh?” When I think of all the places I’d love to see in the world humans just don’t feature. They are places of epic beauty and reflection, natural shrines of silence and comfortable solitude ( except the tiny little voice in the back of my head that says “If you ever win the lottery were heading to VEGAS baby, ooooh yeah” ). When I think of emigrating I think of rural areas in Canada, where the scenery is stunning, the townsfolk are limited but renowned for their politeness, and the chances of finding a moose on your wooden veranda one morning are pretty reasonable. ( A moose. A MOOSE. You’ve seen how excited I got about the duck, can you imagine how I’d feel about a MOOSE? I’d wee my pants at the magnificence of it all, even if it started eating my expensive veranda furniture that I bought from my extensive Vegas winnings ).

So yet again I appear to have answered the Daily Prompt entirely by accident ( Lie : I’m actually an incredibly intelligent writer who manufactures it to seem like pure luck *ahem* ), because when the prompt asks me “a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?” my answer would be “Nature speaks to me by not speaking to me. Where it is in abundance, that’s where I want to be.” It doesn’t indulge in pleasantries that neither of us have any interest in, it just comes right up and taps me on the foot, and then waddles off ,it’s connection made.

That’s just duckin’ awesome.

The One Where She Talks About A Chicken’s Bum.

So…. chickens. Bet you thought I’d forgotten, eh?

Fast forward a few weeks and every now and then I’m having a private little poultry-related moment. Which sounds a tad kinky, but I can assure you it was entirely consensual. One night I’m thinking about my little feathered posse, hoping they’re ok, and I expressed my concern to Hubby. His considered response was ,”I don’t understand this chicken thing, they’re just stupid fat birds.”

“Well maybe, but possibly you’re not seeing the bigger picture…”

“I should know, I used to have chickens.”

Silence.

Long stunned silence.

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, we had a few for eggs.”

“Did they lay many?”

“Uh-huh. Most laid…..”

And then he said it.

“….one a day.”

Cue slack-jawed amazement.

“Chickens can lay an egg EVERY DAY?!”

“Ye…s… Why?”

It’s possible that never having experienced the “miracle of childbirth” ( the miracle being that anyone should ever choose to have more after the first ) he just couldn’t comprehend the enormity of the task. I’ve had 3 children, though admittedly one was delivered by Caesarian, and another was so tiny and premature that she shot out with the very first push – you could almost imagine the midwife at the business end wearing goalie gloves, crouched and ready to catch that sucker.

The other child though… Holy Jesus Christ On A Bike… I was walking like John Wayne for months, so I could relate. ( Too much info ? Ooops. Forget you just read that then and we’ll just pretend nothing happened… *soothing humming* ). Chicken bums are tiny, and their eggs…aren’t. It must be like having to accommodate a cantaloupe on a 24 hr rota. Please note I’m using a fruit-related analogy for convenience, and it’s not something I have first hand experience with obviously. Let’s just say that “Causing a disturbance in the fresh fruit section” is just over-dramatising the whole affair and leave it at that…. *ahem*

But that’s only one aspect. Take a good look at an egg. Crack it open and look at the thickness of the shell, the yolk, the white, and then imagine having to create that every single day. It’s mind-boggling. It’s not like taking your daily morning poop as a response to your regular bowl of weetabix and a double espresso mocha chokka zippedee doo dah with a dash of cinnamon, the bird is producing a little life capsule. It’s a bloody miracle! It’s almost enough to put me off eating eggs out of guilt. Almost. But I’ll be over it by the end of this paragraph. Hmm. Yup. Fine again.

Naturally I thought he was just having me on, so I did a little research. And he was right! Some chickens really DO lay an egg daily. I was suitably impressed whilst at the same time a trifle dejected for those poor battery birds who never see life outside of a cage. I hate it when my conscience sticks it’s leg out and trips me like that. So now I want a chicken of my own. And a house with a nice large secure garden for my chicken to wander around in. Just you wait, when I win the lottery I’m opening up a chicken sanctuary where poultry will live happy and stress free lives. I’ve even decided on a name for it.

“Clucky Buggers.”

I think I’ll just milk this story one more time…

Topic no. 14 “What made you decide to start a blog?”

I think I signed up for my first blog within 30 minutes of being online for the very first time. After all those years of writing away in diaries finally here was an opportunity to catalogue things that nobody else was interested in! In public, no less!

It was a marvellous and moving experience.
However, not so much so when I realised that to get people to read it I’d have to either :
a) Be interesting,
b) Write about them, or
c) Guilt trip my nearest and dearest into reading it by spamming them with links.

So I tried to write as much as I could, but unfortunately I have an underactive commitment gland and sooner or later each blog would wither and die through lack of attention and 5 or 6 months later a new blog would spring up in it’s place.
Then somehow I was in the right place at the right time and I saw about WP’s Post-A-Day challenge and I was hooked on the idea before I’d even looked at the details. Here at last was a chance to hone those skills, finally get a job writing, and retire early to my mansion in a forest of choice with my 8 cats, my jacuzzi, my jade green ferrari and my 1 lightly oiled pool attendant.

Has it worked? Well, it’s a bit early to say. But I’ll let you be the judge. Below is a direct c&p from a post I made on a long-since dead blog about 5 years ago.
A little info : Marco is my Hubby, Richard is my eldest son, Brandon is my newborn and I’m pregnant with my daughter. And before you comment about having a newborn *and* being pregnant already I shall just say this : Never ever buy a bulk load of condoms off eBay.

***********************************************************************

“I’ve lived in Holland for nearly 9 months now. Marco’s lived in this flat for approximately 7 years.

During this time I’ve occasionally popped down to the local gas station as it’s literally within spitting distance, and having spent a large majority of the time pregnant or recovering from pregnancy I’ve not felt up to trekking in the opposite direction to the local mini-mart. Marco doesn’t. He finds it morally objectionable to pay an extra 50 eurocents for a loaf when he’s perfectly capable of walking to the other side of the universe, and often does.

The problem is… milk. As a Brit, I have a genetic predisposition towards tea. I don’t feel the need to always have a cuppa on the table like some, but I’ve been known to sip the odd cup or two whilst making appreciative “ahhhh… THAT’s more like it” type noises. Marco drinks his coffee black, therefore a carton of milk often goes off in our fridge before I can finish it, and as luck would have it, I usually don’t notice until I’m absolutely gasping for some Tetleys.

Cue occasional sneakage to the garage.

This is where the “Great Milk Debate” arose because I swear that at some point I went to the garage for ice cream and saw they had milk. Marco tells me they don’t sell it. Now I know that hormones have pretty much scrambled what was left of the little intellect I had, but I’m not prone to hallucinations. I know what milk looks like. I can differentiate between different cartons. I can even tell types of milk apart… and I was willing to bet my left tit that on more than one occasion I’ve been in that shop and sitting smugly amongst the other cartons were differing cartons of FRESH milk.

Conversations often went thus :

Me : “I saw the bloody milk again!”
Marco : “They don’t sell it. They’ve never sold it. Are you sure it wasn’t that long life crap?”
Me : “No. It was fresh milk. I picked it up and had a good hard look at it! It’s that stuff we buy from the supermarket!”
[short silence]
Marco : “They don’t sell fresh milk, Babe”
Me : “Yes THEY DO !!!!!”
[brief look of “oh lord, she’s totally lost her marbles” soon to be replaced by….]
Marco : “Hold on a sec…. have you been spending a fortune at that bloody garage again?”

On Friday night Marco found himself in an emergency cake-making situation ( as you do ), and was in dire need of… yes, you’ve guessed it… milk. So off he nipped and returned 5 minutes later with a carton of the long life shite. He’d obviously decided to resolve the matter once and for all, for upon seeing me wander into the kitchen for one of my 7000 daily snacks said “I asked at the garage. They told me they’ve never sold fresh milk, it goes off too quickly”

LYING GITS!!!!

I scowled a little, Marco looked sympathetic in that way only men stuck with a woman with the IQ of a non-existent milk carton can do, and the subject was dropped.

By him that is. Me… well I don’t like to be made to look stupid… and so I bided my time…..

Today I nipped down to the garage for a couple of bread rolls for lunch… and there.. MOCKING me were 6 bastard cartons of milk, sneering at me in that chilly diary produce manner and I knew this was war. Buying one of the little sods wasn’t an option.. I needed proof. So back I went to the flat, bundled Brandon into the baby sling, forced Richard into his shoes with the promise of “I’ll buy you an ice cream……” and back we went with a camera.

Et Voila! HAH !!”

Milk!

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Will not crumble for cookies.

I am a classic underachiever. My life is one very long list of things I could have done but somehow miraculously and against my God-given talents I totally failed to. In fact, I’ve elevated non-achievement to an art form. Or would have if I’d made one last effort. Which I didn’t.

Some days that really ticks me off, but on most days I wallow in a tepid pool of “Meh..” and luxuriate in the fact I never really expected me to get anything done anyway. There’s a certain comfort in having artificially lowered expectations of self, and that’s been both my best friend and my worst enemy over the years.

Sure… I could have been the world’s foremost authority on the Guatemalan Lesser Spotted Leaping Snail if I wanted to, but hey! Here’s an idea! How about NOT?? Less studying time, less effort, less sifting through snail snot. Sure, you miss out on that particular dream, but you’re An Underachiever! That’s what you do! Genius.

So, baring in mind that today’s topic is : “What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?” then this is going to be a pretty short post, yeah?

You wish 😉

In reality I possibly accomplished something last year that I never thought I could. Something I thought would crush me beyond recognition ..didn’t.
Last year I didn’t fall to pieces.

This may not seem like that big a deal. After all, at any given time aren’t 5 billion other people holding it together just fine? Well, yes, possibly. But I’m not them, and I shouldn’t compare myself, because goals and hopes are personal. They shouldn’t start with “I want to be better than Betty next door with her infeasibly large breasts and perfect teeth…” or “I want to totally crush that annoying guy in class with his oh-so-perfect PhD in Socio-economic Parapsychology In The Middle Ages…” because when you stop competing with others and start competing with yourself you can finally move forward.

Two things happened last year.A situation with my oldest son truly broke my heart, but in respect for his privacy I won’t divulge what, and my youngest son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 4. I spent a lot of time back and forth to hospitals in both situations , terrified I might lose either. Most people expected me to crumble, including myself.

But instead I took one day at a time. One hard step after another. And in all honesty, I still am. Does this make me better than anyone else? No. Does this make me better? Yes. And that’s good enough for me. Or it will be when I work out some sort of biscuit-related reward system.