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Life is full of surprises and not always where you’d expect them


tango face surprise

It’s nice to know, that even at 44 years old, life still has the opportunity to surprise me.

I mean, there are some things which remain pretty much the same. Like the fact that we rent a new car each year through my husband’s company. And the fact that, it takes me the whole year to get used to that new car. The whole year to learn to recognise it in the car park without pressing the central locking button on my key, to make the lights flash. Without that button I would never, ever find my car, let alone get into it.

To be fair, I do try really hard. I have stopped relying on the kids (who are nowadays, no longer always accompanying me on my journeys) to ‘know’ where I last left my vehicle,  and  I do my very best to focus in on car park letters and numbers and street names and notable landmarks and try to memorise them. Some times it works well, I’ve discovered, other times not quite so well.
But however well it works I always need my secret weapon central locking button.

Take last year’s new car as an example. I drove it to my local supermarket, carefully selected a space, in the very same row I always try to park in (that way I have a much better chance of finding my car). It’s a less popular row, as it’s a bit further away from the supermarket, but it still has a trolley park in it. I don’t mind the walk. It’s direct. If I have to wander round and round the car park, all the while sneakily pressing my ‘locate vehicle’ button in my pocket, it turns out that I have to walk much, much further, which is a horrible experience with a wayward trolley and besides, if I press my button too much, I end up needing a new key battery which means taking my key to the local car dealership and watching the salesman scratch his head while saying, “The battery doesn’t normally run out within a year, that is very strange…” OK, technically, I never did take my key back, I always made my husband do it: I was far too embarrassed.
So, as I said, last year, I parked my then new car in my favourite row, and then, on completion of my shopping, I strode back across the car park towards my new Mercedes. The row was almost empty so I confidently withdrew my key from my pocket, pointed it unwaveringly at my car and I pressed and I pressed but strangely, the lights remained unlit. I wondered, what on earth was wrong with the damned car then, in good faith, I opted for the ‘open boot’ button instead. I pressed and I pressed the button. Then I shook the key a little bit, as you do when today’s gadgets don’t seem to be performing properly, but that didn’t help one bit. The thought did flash across my mind that I’d potentially already worn out the battery in the key with all my pressing, but really? The car was only a couple of weeks old… It was at that moment that I spotted a woman standing, staring at me, mouth gaping… Apparently she was standing next to my car I mean, her car. By the time I’d actually noticed her, I was almost at her boot, which I thought was my boot, ready to unload my overflowing trolley. She stood there, protectively, as I glanced fervently around, that’s when I noticed, two spaces further along, another car with its boot wide open and its lights flashing like a full on disco.

You could think that was one of the surprises I’m talking about. And you’d be partly right. To be honest, I am quite used to attempting to gain entrée to a vehicle that is not my own. It all started when I was a kid. I was shoving an extremely heavy, headstrong trolley towards my parent’s car all by myself. I rammed the key in the boot’s lock and I could not understand, for the life of me, why it would not turn. My parents marched on past without more than a mere  glance in my direction. I did my best to twist the stubborn key in the lock. Then I started to notice odd things in the boot as I peered through the window. Like a blanket which wasn’t ours… Something wasn’t quite right… So I looked deeper into the car and I’m sure you can imagine my absolute shock when I noticed a couple, sitting in the two front seats, glaring at me through their rear window.

But the thing is: the car was exactly the same colour as ours, an unusual kind of rusty orange brown colour, and it was exactly the same model.

So really, I could be excused, after all, it was an easy mistake to make.

But last year, when I’d almost pressed my vehicle finder to death, and started rumours of a disco at the supermarket car park, I realised, as I saw the two cars parked practically side by side,  that they looked completely different. Mines was a Mercedes. Hers was a Ford. And to top it all, hers was a completely different colour.

That threw me a bit. I must admit.

And, to be honest, I suspect the stranger thought I was a proper loony.

Slightly more than a year has passed since that little incident and yet, again, we’ve swapped cars. The thing is, they’ve adapted the model. So it looks a bit different and it has new features.

I’m not so good with new features. Don’t get me wrong. I like them. I even get quite excited about them when my husband describes them or better still shows me them. But within ten minutes I’ve forgotten how to use them. I am starting to suspect that I am not really a very technical person.

Each car, each year has new features. As a matter of fact, last year’s car had an App that you could put on your phone to help you find it. I guess there are more people burning out the key battery than that head scratcher cared to admit!! My husband kindly put the App on my phone and taught me how to use it. To be fair, I have managed to check out whether my car is locked or not. It wasn’t. My husband thought this to be a silly feature, but I actually proved him wrong! Still, the main reason for using the App, car location, is something I haven’t managed to conquer. So I’ve stuck by my tried and tested method and kept my nickname: Battery Depletor.

But this year’s car is truly confusing incredible. It can even park all by itself if you can remember how to let it.

I was really surprised because you don’t use a key to start it: instead you press a button. And there is no hand brake. At all.

So, my mornings now go something like this: make sure the kids are ready for school. Run around looking for my car key (which is now just a set of buttons: one for car location unlocking the central locking, one for locking the central locking and one for opening and closing the boot). Yell at Tell all the kids necessary to get into the car. Press the unlock central locking button (which by the way, to my confusion, also on one occasion opened all of the windows?!?). Stand next to the car, trying to figure out what I should actually do with the key once I am in the car? Should I put it in my pocket? Because then I might, yet again, forget to lock the car… Once I’ve come to a decision about the key and I’m sitting in the car,  I then have an exhaustive search for the hand brake… Eventually it dawns on me that there is no longer a hand brake. Then I get excited that the lovely people at Mercedes decided to bless me with a camera at the back so I reverse the car out of the driveway without knocking over my or my neighbours bins and I drive off up the hill. On my return home I have to exit my vehicle. This means: press P for Park. Press the start/stop button to switch the car off. Locate the key. Leave the vehicle. Remember to lock the car and then carry on about my business. This may sound simple. But I have noticed that I’m pretty fixated on the key location aspect of the task, so much so, that I keep forgetting to switch off my car. To which my car responds by screaming at me “You bloody idiot!!” flashing red lights and beeping loudly.  Which sets me off with a little adrenalin rush for the start of my day.

Who needs coffee?

My son has surprised me a lot this year. He’s reached the grand old age of 16. This was not absolutely clear as he’s the semi-autistic/extreme ADHDer who is mostly driven by impulse. He has become extremely tall and even more gangly than before. He has grown a full head and shoulders above his eldest sister which he sees as his greatest achievement of the year, because way back at the start of 2016, his head was still bobbing along below hers.

We have been trying to encourage him towards other productive – not just growing – activities. He needs to find direction and no, not the astronaut one. The European Space Agency will not let an extreme ADHDer loose with their space rockets. It seems even the German military won’t let an extreme ADHDer loose with their tanks. Which, having watched my son grow up, I can kind of understand.

Last week I thought I’d encourage him in the kitchen. He has a natural cooking ability although he doesn’t seem to like to use it too much. I told him to dislodge himself from his tablet and he entered the kitchen and I warmly explained to him that I would make him my  masterchef in the kitchen. I said that Papa wants him to be his prodigy on the computer. But I nabbed him first. He didn’t look too impressed but I soldiered on. I informed him matter-of-factly that today, we’d be making pastry. I asked him if he knew how to make pastry and he said yes, I’d already taught him. But I carried on. I had yet again another mammoth headache but life goes on and I stipulated how much flour and how much butter A.D. should measure out. He did so, accurately. I’m more of a  ‘throw it together’, ‘that’ll do’ and a ‘bit extra for good luck’ kind of chef, in all honesty. I looked at the amount of flour and through my strange haze I thought something isn’t quite right here. Then I realised that actually, I exchanged the flour and the butter quantities. Aden corrected my mistake by himself and then I double checked his work and decided, through my fog, it was wrong again, so he re-fixed it. Once he was ready to continue, I noticed that he’d actually been right with his own correction and I had fluffed it up yet again. He painstakingly weighed out the grams as I profusely apologised and blamed my head.

Flour met butter in the processor and I relaxed a little bit as Aden pulsed away and produced perfect ‘breadcrumbs’. Then I told him, that the secret of making good pastry in the food processor lay in adding splashes of water slowly and pulsing the mix until the dough starts to come together, then removing it and doing the rest by hand.

Our pastry started to come together, I instructed  Aden to stop pulsing  and I turned my back for the briefest of moments.

Suddenly, I heard quite rigorous pulsing behind me. I span around and saw the arm of the food processor, no longer in the bowl but in the air, freely spinning with dough swinging from it.

Frankly, I yelled. Then I exclaimed how the dough needed to be used for cooking and not for spraying the walls.

In all fairness, it did seem like Aden was having the time of his life before the yelling.

I recovered my dough, took it to my floured work surface and prepared it to be chilled.

In the meantime we made toppings for the mini quiches we were creating.

Once the dough had chilled I talked Aden into buttering the creme brulee dishes while I rolled out the pastry.

Then I said, “Now we are going to bake the pastry blind. What does that mean?”

He bounced excitedly up and down, not something he’ll be able to do in our kitchen much longer if he continues to grow at such a rate, and squealed, “I know! I know!”

“Is it that you throw loads of ingredients in without looking and then you don’t know what you’ll be eating?”

“What??? No!!!”

He paused for the tiniest moment.

Then he started leaping around again. “I know. Is it that you poke the pastry with a stick like a blind person?”

“What??????????????? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

He looked slightly deflated.

I handed him a fork and told him to prick the pastry then we’d place baking paper between the pastry and the ceramic baking beans. He pricked rather enthusiastically at first, all in all there were more holes than there was pastry. So I showed him how to do it properly and then returned the fork to him. Then he got the baking beans from the cupboard and asked if he could try one…

At least he asked. Which is more than the crazy dog did. When I accidentally rolled some off the tabletop onto the floor. She stole one. Ran off. Then spat it back out on to her blanket.

No wonder there always seem to be fewer ceramic baking beans in the tub with every use…

We did manage to finish the quiches and I have to say, they were delicious. But by the end I was thinking of offering Papa Aden as his prodigy…

Life rolls on. The end of the year is nigh and the kids only have a couple of days left at school. Aden rolled off to the bus stop this morning on his scooter. A few minutes later the phone rang. He was extremely upset. He’d started to feel rather squeamish on the bus then had suddenly vomited. Everywhere. Including on three fellow passengers.

He’d got off the bus. At some random bus stop and had no clue where he was. Bless. I had to look his whereabouts up on the internet and go and rescue him. He was covered from head to toe in sick. I am still not sure how I didn’t puke in the car because of the smell.

Yes, the new car.

I got him home, heaved as I put the sick filled clothes into the washing machine and then ran out to thoroughly disinfect the car. I have so learned since the Norovirus.

My husband pointed out that at least we don’t have to put up with that new car smell anymore…

My son may not be the next astronaut or the next tank driver. He may never decide to be a chef. But at least I know that when he projectile vomits, he does it properly.

I wanted to finish there. But my daughter arrived home from school. Calm but I could sense she had something on her mind.

It wasn’t that she’d had yet another nosebleed (she had, but that’s beside the point). She’s a first aider at her school and had to deal with an emergency. A boy had been pushed, and had hit his head against the edge of a table. He had an actual hole in his head. She said that she’s never seen so much blood. At one point she even saw clots that she momentarily thought might be bits of brain on the child’s neck. She remained calm and collected and helped patch the quite young boy up and sat with him, keeping him calm, until a relative could be on the scene to take him to a doctor. I am in awe. I would have fainted. Or have thrown up. Or both.

My kids never cease to amaze me.

Happy Christmas!!!

 

 

 

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Maybe I should…


Maybe I should shout ‘fuck’ as it sweeps in again.
But I don’t.
I just loaf around.
Be mean.
Be vacant.
Be not me.

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe I should call someone
ask them for their help?
But I don’t.
Because who is there really?
Who can actually help me?

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe enough painkillers will kill the pain?
But I take painkillers and the pain remains exactly the same…
Lost…
Numb…
Defeated.

When will I ever be useful again?
How can anyone live with this constant,
mental
drain?

How do I find the strength to go on?
How can I ever, ever again
be a good mum?

Maybe I should just scream and shout.
Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud,
kick the walls – let some deep rage out
but I don’t, I just, I just wanna be free.

Maybe I should just scream and shout.

Maybe wail, those deep, sad, wails out loud.

Kick the walls – let some deep rage out!

But I don’t.
I just loaf around.
Be mean.
Be vacant.
Be not me.

 

Saying goodbye to 2015 with openness and honesty


Sometimes I think, I don’t know what happened. Sometimes I think, how did I get to be right here, right now, right where I am?

It’s like, I am in some kind of blurry confusion. Or like I landed on my bum with a thump. I wasn’t expecting it and I am sitting there all kind of dazed and amazed.

The hours tick by and roll into days. The days tick by and roll into weeks. And I tumble and roll with them. I keep attempting to pick myself up and stumble on but I seem to lurch from one impossible situation to the next.

Some days, standing in front of several huge piles of washing feels like enough to be classified as an impossible situation.  I look at the mixtures of red and white and black and blue, which should, technically, have all been sorted out into their appropriate baskets, according to my own rules of the house. I stare at those never-ending mixed piles and I despair.

Some days, I focus on the enormous list of things I expect myself to do that day, and I realise I am in an impossible situation. I can only disappoint myself because no earthly being can possibly tick off each of those designated tasks in just one day.

Some days, I find myself pondering over a blank piece of paper. It seems like my impossible situation is to actually find enough energy to draw up the day’s list in the first place.

Instead, I drag my lazy butt over to the sofa and distract myself with the TV, or a game or someone else’s news.

Then I leave the house at the very last minute to pick up my daughter, because even though, I feel incredibly lonely, I can’t bear to face the other mums. With their happy smiles or their problems or their invitations or their requests.

I attempt to hide in the driver’s seat of my car. And if they approach me, I feel the panic rising from the pit of my stomach.

Occasionally, there are days when the impossible situation is just to make it through the day.

On those days, I bite my lip, swing my foot, pace the floor, hug the dog, think of the kids, go back to bed in an attempt to wake up in a better mood, call my husband and just try to breathe in and out and tell myself that tomorrow is a brand new day full of brand new possibilities.

I’m still an optimist. Deep down inside.

2015 has not been my finest hour.

In all honesty, it’s been really bloody tough.

It’s been the accumulation and aftermath of: three burnouts, Crohn’s, a million doctor’s appointments, sick kids, diagnoses, arguments, a suicide, PTSD, continuous headaches, sleepless nights, stress, guilt, loss, panic and pain.

So I decided that the only way to turn things around was to go into a specialised clinic at the local hospital for a while.

It was the right decision. I talked and cried and laughed and painted and danced and beat the hell out of drums. I made friends and cried and talked some more. I listened. I hugged. I walked through the forest. I remembered things I’d ‘locked’ away. I talked about them and cried and then ‘locked’ them away again. Because it’s just not healthy to let those things consume your life.

Above all, I realised that my own driving force is low self-esteem, guilt and fear.

So all these years, I’ve needed to do my absolute utmost, to prove to myself that I am worthy, and to reduce the feelings of guilt that I carried around for things which I had always believed were my fault but actually weren’t. I needed to protect my family from all eventualities, because in my own experience bad things actually happened again and again.

I feel like I’ve been knocked down and built back up again. Albeit, loosely.

I can’t tell you that I feel ‘well’. I would more describe myself as feeling ‘fragile’. Sometimes, some days, still bring their impossible situations.

But I can tell you that I have more energy and that I am looking forward to Christmas more than I have in years.

And that I am hoping, ever the optimist, that when I look back in years to come, that I will see 2015 as a turning point in my life.

And that 2016 was a new beginning.

Wishing you all, from the bottom of my heart, a wonderful Christmas. And a 2016 full of hope, enlightenment, love and strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The undeserved distress of being a hairy damsel


I just brushed my teeth and my hair, not with the same brush, of course, with completely different brushes, as you do, before you go to bed.

I had a little mishap. Well, a couple of little mishaps, if I’m honest. First, I placed the capsule inside my inhaler (which I have to take right before brushing my teeth, making it thus a part of this story) and as I put it in my mouth to suck on it, I simultaneously, accidentally twisted it and whacked my tooth. Not my already so-often-bashed-tooth-that-it-is-now-a-somewhat-yellow-tooth, I hasten to add, no, it was a completely, undamaged, sparkly white one. I oohed and I aahed somewhat. OK, that is a downright  lie. I cursed and I blasphemed somewhat. Then I brushed my tingling teeth (pain spreads, you know) and then turned to my other brush. My hairbrush.

Now, I should perhaps mention at this point that I was naked. For reason unknown to any man, child or woman. And that included me. It wasn’t that I was expecting any late night hanky panky or anything. I can assure you of that. Because the man of the house had already hit the sack and was snoring blissfully and boomingly. I was ever so slightly ticked off about that, actually. After all, he’d just sent me, moments before, out into the street to put the bucket out for tomorrow’s bin men. And all I’d been wearing was a towelling robe. I’d thrown open the door and had a slight panic attack for a moment, then embraced the cold air and ran out into the dark night tugging on a dustbin. I’d been nostalgically reminded of those luxurious winter moments at the local sauna; leaving the heated cabin and entering the cold winter air wearing nowt but but a pretty robe. Except that I wasn’t sweating but I was dragging a wheelie bin. And my spa experience had been for free.

I’d returned the short distance from the curb to my home like a cross between a clearly amateur ballet dancer and a scrutinising spy, looking for potential serial killers or an unsuspecting, about-to-become-disturbed neighbour.

So I stood, naked, in front of the mirror, and lifted the brush to address the issue of a great big clumpy knot that had inconveniently appeared in my long, russet hair.  I started to tear the hard, wooden brush down through those mischievous strands.

I brushed firmly downwards and then I felt it.

I’d brushed my nipple.

Now, it wasn’t up there with the torture I had put myself through that day I accidentally whisked my nipple. I am still reeling from that experience. I still shudder every time I pick up an electric whisk with my right hand. I shudder but I soldier on. I like to bake. Mainly because I like to eat cake.

But I do suspect naked hair brushing may have gone out of the window. At least, until I have dramatically cut my hair.

But the whole episode made me think. We, damsels, with very long hair, must go through many disturbing experiences that those with short hair absolutely cannot.

Like:

  • Brushing our nipple(s?)
  • Accidentally ‘dropping it’ on a candle flame and igniting it.
  • Our hairdresser insisting that we need to urgently go to the doctor as we’re losing far, far too much hair and then the doctor doing hair removal tests a.k.a. pulling hair from our heads with their bare hands and then telling us “No, your hair’s just long and looks like a lot in the hairdresser’s sink,  but I have to really pull it to get it out, it doesn’t come out at all easily.” At which point we are mouthing the words, “I know!” and wincing back the tears.
  • Accidentally dropping it in our dinner.
  • Finding dried out egg yolk in it.
  • Accidentally dropping it in someone else’s dinner.
  • Getting it stuck under our partner’s or our own body part, yelping, and then having to make a little pause, alter position and refocus during sex.
  • Having a shower before bed, then getting up in the morning to discover that it’s still wet and it’s -10°C outside! As we drop the kids off at school we can feel little ice crystals forming…
  • Getting bored while using a hairdryer thus wandering off to do something else (which, of course, leads on to the point above).
  • Accidentally getting it stuck under a stranger’s shoulder on the bus and going through that embarrassing moment of explaining to them that that comfy cushion they’re enjoying leaning on, is actually our hair.
  • And then, there’s the classic: having it completely blindfold us on a windy day, causing us a near death experience like walking in front of a car or under a ladder.

But the very best, OK, worst long hair experience I know to date is the one of my own daughter, Joni. As you may have gathered it was all my fault and as soon as I can muster up the strength to talk about it, I will let you know. Every. Single. Detail.

Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment…


Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment.

The house looks like a bomb went off in it.

Yesterday, I was away the whole day. Doctors in the morning. Pick up the littlest kid from Kindergarten and then take said kid, as promised, for a bit of one-to-one-time back into town for lunch and then a trip to a local museum, that apparently, has been there for four years, but we had yet to discover. I couldn’t believe that I’d missed it. Being a museum lover and all that.

And to top it all, the best bit of it is: it’s a children’s museum. So having four of the things, I found that rather disturbing – that I’d managed to miss it.

In my defence, I was probably too busy being confused by the one way system in that part of town to notice a great big building with Museum written on it, beside me.

We returned home after a long and tiring day (it started very early, Joni having to catch a bus at 6.45 for a school trip to Strasbourg and, of course, she required a mammoth packed lunch for the journey, as you do when you’re sitting there, not using up any calories) followed by chucking a couple of kids out of the door and wishing them a nice day at school.

I have no idea how Akasha (who’s presently in her last year at Kindergarten) will ever get ready for school on time. She starts in September. I’m dreading September. It’s not so much that she goes along at a snails pace in the mornings. No. It’s more that she’s ‘busy’ doing more important things than eating breakfast or getting dressed or brushing her teeth. Like singing or drawing or putting yellow (her favourite colour at the moment) nail polish on the table her nails. I admit, I have indulged her. Taking her to feed the ducks before Kindergarten or reading her a story. The pattern has stuck and I have no idea how we will shake ourselves out of it.

As I said, we had an early start, but we were still running late for my doctors appointment. So much so that I had to drive to Kindergarten and abandon the car there – then race to the bus stop. I’m sure that confirmed, for many of the parents, that I am, as they suspected: a right loony.

I abandoned the car and ran for the bus and just made it by the skin of my teeth (that’s an odd saying isn’t it, enamel could have been more appropriate?) but there is method in my madness. Parking is expensive in town and so it’s much cheaper for me to buy a day ticket and go from one bus to another and, of course, it’s environmentally friendly too.

But yesterday it was freezing. And freezing at bus stop after bus stop is not really my idea of great fun.

I completed all of my patiently duties in town, missed the bus and went for a nice warm coffee and a bun. I decided that I had earned it. Having walked past several empty bus stops along the way in an effort to keep warm. Besides, as I’m the only person I know who actually lost weight over Christmas (thanks there to the delightful Mr Crohn) I can absolutely shovel a bun or two into my rashed face (yep, also a Crohn gift) and I headed into a nearby warm and welcoming looking coffee shop.

I ordered myself a Latte Macchiato, yum, and a piece of ‘homemade’ banana loaf. As I was admiring the loaf through the glass though, I noticed it contained nuts. They looked like walnuts, which I also put in my own banana loaf, but I knew I had to check, because of my peanut allergy.

“There could be peanuts in it, ” the assistant answered, aloof.

Bitterly disappointed I eyed up the other cakes on display. The fruit tarts. The doughnuts. The cheesecakes. The brownies. The muffins.

She watched me, then injected, “There could be peanuts in any of them. You should have something savoury. A bagel. You could have one of these bagels.”

She waved her arm at the bagels menu behind her as if she was on commission.

I almost fell into her trap. But right then, as I was about to take the plunge, I held myself back. I wanted something sweet. Not savoury. Without peanuts. Why would there be peanuts in doughnuts? Did they have such a sloppy kitchen? Why did she have no idea what her ‘homemade’ banana loaf contained? Did she just fire in any old ingredients?

I rejected her sales pitch and opted for ‘just coffee’ and stretched into my bag to pull out a tissue to wipe away my little tear of sadness. Except, when I looked down I noticed some-bloody-body had already been there and had only left me the snotty ones.

I arrived back at Kindergarten ten minutes before the door would open. I stood there, shivering. Chilled to my very core. I knew I didn’t have time to drive the car home and then walk back to the Kindergarten, get my child ready and sit us both on the 12:15 bus which, I’d arranged, as an extra treat, to meet my husband on. We’d agreed to lunch together with the small one.

Yep. The weather page read at that moment ‘feels like -10°C’ and we’d agreed to do the clever thing, and take our daughter for her favourite food: sushi.

Few people had the same idea, it has to be said. There were only three full tables in the restaurant including ours but we managed to keep them busy. Akasha dropped and smashed an almost full glass of apple juice mixed with lemonade upon their once un-sticky floor.

I think they noticed my shattered nerves, or perhaps it was actually my frostbitten body that did it, whatever, they came over – bearing free coffee.

We apologized with intensity and left a large tip along with the shards of glass behind us.

We waited around for a few minutes then waved the man of the house off as he boarded his bus.

Upward and onward to the museum.

I thought it would be small and over briefly but I had to drag a six year old out at closing time. She could only be persuaded to leave the building by promises of returning soon and being smacked by the realization that the workers had themselves homes to go to and children to see. Although, I suspect in all honesty, that most of their children would have already left home by now. But the children thing still works for Akasha, so I still use it. She hasn’t progressed much in the guessing age abilities yet. I know this because I played a game with her recently in which I asked her if she thought the OAP along our street was older or younger than Mummy she clearly and excitedly yelled out “younger”. I know my rash has taken over my face, but please?!?

As the museum trip had taken longer than expected I had taken a slight panic attack about the older children, who had late school, and so I called my husband to take responsibility on that front. The charge on my mobile was yet again running out and so I couldn’t phone backwards and forwards. He also had to get home to prepare himself for the one-in-Strasbourg’s parent evening.

Sitting on the bus on the way home finally, my mobile rang, but refused to let me answer since I didn’t have enough juice. I could see my husband had called. That he had left a message. But I couldn’t get into it or call him back.

I felt nervous as my daughter quizzed me about her future school days, “What should I do Mummy, if someone accidentally punches me in the eye at school?”

To be clear, I wasn’t worrying about someone accidentally punching her in the eye. As I told her, I don’t think, statistically, that that is very likely to happen. But if it should, she could just go and tell the teacher. (Although, Lori did once get a crutch in the mouth when she was just walking along, minding her own business, down the school corridor. She did require medical treatment. I didn’t have the car as my husband had needed it for work, and because I live approximately 2km from school, the poor teacher had to take her to the doctor. I say poor because when they finally arrived at my door, Lori stood there, face covered in blood and with a thick lip and the teacher stood there, chalk white repeating the words, “She can scream really loudly…” over and over in some kind of shocked trance.) I was worried why my husband had called. Had something happened? Was he at home? Were the children home alone? Had he missed the bus?

We descended from the bus and shivered all the way to Kindergarten, where Akasha had a sudden burst of energy and started racing towards the car.

That’s when I heard the screams. And wails.

“The car’s been stolen!”

I ran after her and panic engulfed me.

Why had I abandoned the car at Kindergarten?

Had I locked the car?

How would we manage without the car?

How do I get in touch with the insurance?

Why do I always forget to charge my mobile phone?

How would Reini get to the parent evening?

Then my brain clicked a little.

I took the hand of the despairing one and dragged her in the direction of home. “Perhaps Daddy’s taken the car,” I proposed, “Perhaps he’s already off to the parent evening. I told him where I left the car at lunch, do you remember? And that would explain his call.”

I chatted as she whined most of the way home. We approached the house. The lights blazed but no car could be seen outside.

We entered the house to two cheery children. Papa had just left the building and the merry ones were about to set off to Fire Service Training.

Importantly: he had the car.

I’d forgotten about Fire Service. More one-to-one-time spotted an ever-enthusiastic-fourth-child.

I abandoned the idea of a bone-warming-bath and settled down next to her on the sofa to watch house programmes. (I’ve carefully nurtured the nosey instinct in her, so much so, she actually once opened the cupboards in someone’s house we were invited to – for a birthday party – needless to say, we weren’t invited back.)

◊◊◊

Things aren’t going swimmingly at the moment.

I think, perhaps, I spend too much time in the company of children.

I looked at the bomb site and told the young ones that there would be no lunch unless they cleared the mess from the table. (Joni being in Strasbourg and Lori being at her drama class.)

Their tummies rumblingly persuaded them and we finally sat down to lunch.

The conversation went something like this:

“Would you like to try some of this, Akasha?” I pointed to a pot of fig mustard on the table.

“OK… Yuck it’s too spicy!!”

“Of course it is, it’s mustard. You don’t like mustard. Ooh it’s really spicy, I think I just got a bit of chili!” responded her brother.

My head was slightly furrowed at that point, “It’s fig mustard. There’s not any chili in it.”

“Have I tried mustard before?” wondered the smallest person in the house.

I changed the subject slightly, “Can you guess which country this mustard was made in?”

Aden blurted, “Germany?”

Me, “No…”

“Afghanistan???” Keenly.

“No. Could you sit properly on your chair please.”

Aden was swinging his chair to the side, thus hovering diagonally across from his plate.

Unsurprisingly, the ADHD one was incredibly surprised to learn that the mustard was made in our neighbouring country: Switzerland.

The cheese, the butter, the drinks were all analyzed to see where they originated. Then he turned to his full glass.

I had a little flashback to yesterday’s lunch and stretched out my hand quickly.

“Yesterday Akasha smashed a glass, didn’t you Akasha?”

“I smashed a light bulb at Fire Service. It was really cool. It exploded (inclusive exploding noises). It wasn’t a good idea to wash the fire engine outside though. The water froze up and we had to scrape it off (accompanied by noises and rigorous scraping gestures).” Aden revealed with much excitement.

“Could you sit nicely on your chair please, Aden?” The chair was swinging quite vigorously and I could see him landing, quite possibly with half the table contents, on the floor.

“What’s a cubic millimetre?” Aden suddenly quizzed.

“It’s a three dimensional measurement.”

???

“A one dimensional measurement would be…” I glanced around the table, then picked up a tub of soya margarine (made in Germany), “this side of the carton. A two dimensional measurement, like centimetre squared would be this side times this side to calculate how big this area is. And a three dimensional measurement, like cubic millimetre would be this side times this side times this side and that calculation would tell you the space in the whole carton.”

“Like the size of a room?”

“Yes!” I enthused.

“Can I go to bed? I feel tired now.”

“Yes.” I knock back another swig of cola, my last attempt at staying awake. I know he’s off to his room to do something. But I’m genuinely too tired to ask what.

He leaves the room.

“Why don’t you whistle?” demands a sweet, but, well, demanding Akasha.

I should have said:

I’m too busy.

I’m too busy dragging children from museums and being friendly to the environment.

I’m too busy sitting on the loo and telling people to do their homework and to sit on their chair properly and thinking up cool ideas for English lessons.

I’m too busy listening to the storyteller in my head.

I’m too busy being refused buns in coffee shops and washing mud splattered fire suits and driving back and forth to ballet classes and applauding completed puzzles and baking homemade banana loaf and avoiding mirrors revealing face rashes and it may just be, that lately, I got a little bit too stressed to whistle.

I’m sorry baby.

But I was always crap at whistling, how about I try singing a little more instead?

Something Terrible Happened Today


I wrote a complete story today for my NaNoWriMo book of short stories.

I did a quick read through and stuck to my bare minimal correction (as Tilly tells me: I have to write 50,000 words in 30 days, if I correct properly, I won’t finish) and I was happy with the story, particularly the ending.

I saved it. Please read again. I SAVED it. And then my self-hosting, private WordPress thingy-me-jiggy changed the screen and said I had to re-log in.

Being an obedient person, I did exactly that.

It took me straight back to my ‘post writing screen’ where I then discovered the last THIRD of my story had vanished.

COMPLETELY GONE.

Like, into thin air.

I clicked the back arrow. I clicked the forward arrow.

I shouted at the screen.

(Rather loudly.)

(Sorry neighbours.)

I banged my hand on the desk.

But it didn’t come back.

I looked at the previous drafts but it’s as if I never typed the last third of the story.

I called the computer competent one, aka my husband, but he’d abandoned me and my one third – he didn’t even pick up the phone.

I tried to pull myself together and remember the lines I’d written but CATASTROPHE: I had to leave the house to pick up the little one from Kindergarten.

All the way there I tried to make bullet points in my head reminding me of each point I’d written.

(In my next life, quite clearly, I’ll be a goldfish, I remember nothing. OK, truthfully, I remember odd things that no one else can like the date that the bacon that’s lazying around in the fridge will go off and the number plate of that abandoned car I spotted 18 years ago, but important stuff, that just flies out of my head.)

I told the little one NOT to talk to me as I recited:

  • Lori
  • Invisble
  • Mess up random
  • But to destroy Christmas

I ran in the door, chucked my coat on the floor, dived upstairs and wrote with my heart pounding.

I love computers. But I hate them. You get me?

NaNo No-No?


I have spent the day stuffing myself with Cadbury’s Whole Nut.

(This is not an advertisement,  Cadbury’s did not give me any free Whole Nut. They have never given me any free chocolate, which is probably a good thing. Anyone in my vicinity can quite clearly see, I have no self-control when it comes to Whole Nut. It’s actually the real reason I left Britain and relocated to Germany, there’s a distinct lack of Whole Nut here. In fact, there’s a distinct lack of Cadbury. If I’d have continued to live in the UK I’d have looked like a Weeble by now. Instead, I just look like a sausage.)

While I chomped (could it be that Whole Nut, in excess quantities, makes your bottom burp?) I also contemplated.

Should I or should I not set myself the challenge of joining 300,000 or so other writers and attempt a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days? NaNoWriMo

I had planned to make a gut decision, but I fear the whole Whole Nut escapade may have jeopardised my instinct.

What do you think? Am I certifiable? Do I need this challenge like a hole in the head? Will it give me back my mojo? Are you taking part? Will you support me? Will you come over and pair odd socks and make me chicken soup and hot chocolate and tell the children to “Rise and shine” each morning? Could my fingers actually fall off? Could I manage 50k qualitative words in 30 days or would I just be outpouring poop?

As The Beatles are famed for asking: “Won’t you please, please help me.”

I keep thinking…


I keep thinking that I should check myself into a hotel for the weekend. That way I would finally be able to read that book I wanted to, without interruption. I would try really hard not to fall asleep on the big comfy bed…

I keep thinking if I checked into a hotel, I could, at last, put together my stories in the form of a book, because I would have peace, perfect peace, to sprinkle my bits of paper all over the mattress and tap away on my netbook.
I wouldn’t have to dash off to the nursery and pick up a little person. Or break up a fight. Or taxi anyone to the doctors/party/shops/rehearsals. I wouldn’t have to make lunch. In fact, I could laze around work hard on my paper strewn bed, and intermittently dial ‘0’ for reception and request the delivery of lunch. Or a hot chocolate. Or a piece of cake. Or a glass of prosecco…

I keep thinking how nice it would be to have a whole weekend, in a hotel, to get some solid work done. I could spend hours writing without interruption. I wouldn’t need to join in a game or load the dishwasher or answer the telephone or take in a parcel for the neighbour or run to the chemist or debate the weather with the clouds and try not to get caught out at the last minute, by a downpour soaking my almost bone dry washing.

I keep wondering: what kind of hotel?

One with a pool, perhaps. So I could swim each morning and feel refreshed.

Naturally, I could also swim in the afternoon. And in the evening too. Just to make the most of it…

One with snuggly bath robes, perhaps. So I wouldn’t have to waste time dressing. I could just work in comfort on the bed. And have a little snooze every time I felt the need…

One with a great chef, would be a plus. So I could feed my tired body and exhausted mind.

Maybe it could have a sauna to sweat away my worries, oh and a masseuse to relieve my aches and pains…

I am starting to think, it would be beneficial to stay there for a long weekend…

After all, then I’d get a lot more work done.

And more use of the pool.

And perhaps, I could catch up on some sleep.

And do that book review I promised.

And catch up on a few blogs.

And swim.

And order hot chocolate.

With whipped cream.

And a flake.

And banana slices.

And marshmallows.

The chef would be so highly talented, he would be able to balance all of the toppings on the surface, without any of them running down the side.

The porter would be so highly balanced, he would deliver the entire artwork to my room, without spilling a single drop.

All, while I cuddled my pillow, in my extraordinarily comfy bathrobe…

I’d take my hot chocolate – into my jacuzzi – in my en suite bathroom.

A perfumed smell would permeate the room…

After a long soak, and three more hot chocolates, I could consider going to the in-hotel beauty consultant and having my hair done.

That would, of course, include a head massage.

And a complimentary facial.

Then, looking my best, I’d head down to dinner.

Be poured wine by a good-looking, friendly waiter.

I’d eat, drink and be giggly.

Then I’d wander to my massive water-bed all alone. Put on the provided over-sized plasma and settle down and watch a romantic comedy.

I keep wondering, would it be too presumptuous to book my hotel for a week?

This message will self-destruct in 5,4,3…


Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

You have been experiencing a drought.

Meaning: I have been enduring a lack of opportunity for outpouring.

Thus I have been gathering data.

Thinking thoughts.

Analyzing absurdities adventures.

Taking notes.

Mental notes.

OK, some are scattered around on little bits of paper.

All around.

It’s a bloody mess.

*Organized chaos.*

You have been experiencing a drought.

Await a flood.

In the near future.

You have been warned…