Sunday, 26 December 2010

A hastened decline?

My father hasn't eaten since Tuesday night. He was nil by mouth and until he was settled, but now he's struggling to swallow. Because of the holidays he hasn't been seen by the necessary specialist staff.

It seems he's had a massive seizure instead of a stroke, which is in many ways, great news. Easier to recover from and to treat. However, i'm terrified that he will end up another case of someone who declines rapidly because of hospital stays and not because of the reason he ended up there. The general wards have no idea how to care for someone like him. They didn't realise he could eat on his own, or walk or was alert.

Two good nurses spent a long time with me today talking it all through, but they're worried. Worried he's not managing to swallow water. At worst he could end up being tube fed. If that happens he will never make back to the unit where he's comfortable and well looked after.

I am so scared that he won't get back to his 'normal'.

It breaks my heart to see him in a place where they're trying their best but don't have the skills or the knowledge to do what he needs. He can't fight for himself. We must do that for him.

Days like today are lonely. I've done my running around after my family, got through what needed to be said and done and now I'm just sitting here typing, crying.

There's an invite to the pub, but can I face a group of near strangers with only a couple of familiar faces? I know I don't want to be here on my own wallowing. I just want some comfort, somewhere for my words and tears to go. Someone to listen, to be looked after. Instead, I just have to carry on, pull myself together and try and brave the world.
I want for Dad to be treated with respect and care, and not to be a victim of a system not geared t deal with dementia that is stealing him little by little.

Christmas Present, Christmas Normal

Christmas is done for another year, the day disrupted and organised round hospital visiting times. It's been a day of distracting my mother and being entertained by my four year old nephew. I don't know what normal is now now, but everyone is fed and watered. No one argued.

My mother forgot her evening pills but struggled through with an emergency supply of morphine and painted on a brave face. I appreciate her effort, and the normality of it.

I've worked hard to make my house feel like home for us all, and over shopped, and over catered. I guess it's about wrapping those I love and worry about in as much comfort as I can as a brief respite from reality, pain and fear.

It's been lovely. Charades and board games largely directed by one wee boy amongst adults. His joy is ours.

Next year it will be back to three of us; mother and daughters, my brother with his wife and child will be with their other family.

I want to hold on to to the memories of this one. Normal. Family. Fun. Thoughtful.

Leftovers to be turned into something interesting, if not fabulous, for the next few days. Life just being life, and Christmas just being Christmas.

I'm no longer a believer in God, and I'm not hugely concerned about maintaining the origins of Christmas, but I am concerned by its spirit. Family, friendship and hope for an uncertain future.

Tomorrow I will tidy.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Do not resuscitate?

A long time ago we agreed, as a family, if anything serious happened to my father he should not be resuscitated. A difficult decision to make, and one guided by what we could gather from his wishes while he could still speak.

Today the reality of that decision came into focus. The nursing staff couldn't wake him this morning. By noon his doctor had discussed with my mother resuscitation or letting him go. We were told to go to the hospital. The A&E doctor reiterated the question.

He's been drifting in and out of consciousness ever since. Because he can't communicate or understand all that's said, it makes any diagnosis hard to determine. They think he's had a stroke. Only time and tests will tell.

Mum has changed her mind. When faced with the reality of losing him, she can't let him go. She wants to give him every chance. She wants to be able to visit him in the dementia unit for as long as possible. She's scared of never seeing him again.

I don't know how to feel. A conversation with one of his regular nurses has left me thinking that this is the beginning of the end.

The thought of letting him die if more could be done is horrible. The thought of keeping him alive with no quality of life, confined to a bed in a dementia ward, is horrible too. Whatever happens, my mother's decision will be respected. She is the one losing her husband. She is the one that needs to do this her way. I'm ok with that. I understand why she's done a U turn.

I don't want to see his quality of life, his ability to engage with people and the world ,diminish so far that he is just a body whose spirit has long gone.

I am in tears as I write this. It is Christmas and we're trying to make the most of what we have, but every day is coloured by his illness. He is trapped in a mind and body that betray him. There are sparks of him still there. Moments where he is, so very fleetingly, my Dad.

I am so very, very sad. He is the person I ran to, rescued me, I trusted, picked me up, made me feel safe and he is slipping from my grasp like water. Each week sees another small step towards darkness and grief. Another seizure, another fall, another word lost from his voice.

I will miss him. The next days, weeks and perhaps months will be hard. I'm not ready to lose him, but I know the journey we have taken over the last five or so years, is nearing its end. 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Weather. Rest.

All this weather has been strange. It's meant that my mother, who's still on crutches after cracking a bone in her back, has been mostly stuck at home. I've only been able to visit Dad once as the roads have been treacherous, even in the city. And, I've been snowed out of my rural office for much of the past two weeks.
There have been some scary drives when the village has been accessible. It is beautiful shrouded in white. Snow is frozen like wet quartz in the bitingly cold temperatures.

Working from home and a lack of driving has given me a bit of a break. Not being able to get from here to Mum to the hospital safely (mostly for my mother's sake – ice and crutches do not go!) has meant an enforced rest from reality.

I've missed Dad, but he's probably no longer able to miss us.

Seeing him over the past month has been hard. He's fallen badly twice. Partly because the staff don't realise how bad his eyesight is without his specs. He's now mostly confined to a chair. A chair with a seat belt. He is stuck there unless someone takes him for a walk. It is heart breaking. He is like small child strapped into a buggy. But he is not a child, he is the shadow of my father.

Other families tell us he seems calm when we are not there. Not resisting the chair and the straps that keep him there. It is when we visit that he fights it. Struggles wordlessly shaking the straps, the arms, pulling. Maybe he is trying to reach us. I undo these restraints and walk with him. Him unsteady, gripping my hands. Silent. A sparrow. My father.

We eat cakes and talk of anything to him. It is noise and love. Painted on calm and smiles, just trying to lift his isolation and separation from us and his world.

The image of him and the chair make me cry as I type. It is yet another small loss, another trickle of grief in the journey of dementia.

A week's break in visiting has meant a week without the constant reminder of the sadness.

Today is has reached 2 degrees, and there is constant dripping of melting ice: noise outside after the silence of the snow.

It feels strangely warm.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Trying very hard to be selfish

The lodger is carting his boxes out into the hall. I've been working at home today, so I can't escape him. I'm really struggling not to go and help. Every bone in my body wants to go and help him, and I know it's not what I want to do. I always rescue birds with broken wings. I find it incredibly difficult to put me, and what I need first, and when I do it seems to come back and bite me.

He has created this situation. I must remind myself that I did not do this. I did not make this happen. He must take responsibility for the consequences of his decision. I must not rescue him, even if it is just to help lift and carry. Or should I help? I don't know.

I am so angry and confused about the whole thing.

Phew! Decision has been made for me. He has help.
I still end up apologising.

The Lodger Departs

I have lived with around eighteen or so people in shared flats over the years, three as lodgers here. The majority remain amongst my friends. There have been good times, arguments, disasters and all sorts but I have never before felt completely uneasy with a housemate.

After less than two weeks of being here Stephen is leaving. I am relieved. I have been an exile from my own home, as the thought of being alone with him was so uncomfortable.

I could deal with the stuff everywhere, with his strange habits and weird smells but what I hated was the day he asked me if I knew the 'Truth'. He is a conspiracy theorist. He believes that 9/11 bombings were an American plot. He believes that the world is about to be taken over by a small elite group, and we will all become slaves to a new system. And on, and on....
The thing that brought it all to an end was his extreme response to a simple household request. I had bitten my tongue about so much and didn't mind, but asked him to do one thing and it turned into a stream of accusations. Accustions that were delivered as questions. Questions there was no good repsonse to. This is my home, and I can't live with someone whose actions make me feel vulnerable.

With him being a psychotherapist, I thought he'd be a balanced, calm rational sort of person to have around the house. Instead what it does seem to mean is that he's very good at manipulating a conversation and maintaining his cool. I've never, ever argued with someone so soon after moving in with them. And it's been a long time since the last. I am still shocked.

I can't pin all of this madness on him, can I? I must have played my part. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough about the arrangements here, or what he could expect from me.

He is selfish. He takes no responsibility for himself, and everything can be blamed on someone else.

He has no sense of humour, and that makes life very troublesome indeed.

He is going tonight and I am glad.

I am looking forward to feeling safe and having an ordinary night, alone.

Monday, 22 November 2010


I have a new lodger, a friend of a friend, and I don't quite know what to make of him. In his early to mid forties, he's an intense sort of a guy. A former psychotherapist who's decided to give up the rat race.

He's suspicious of government, systems, taxes and the like. If you don't pay tax, who pays for your medical care or for the roads to be fixed? Surely we're all in this together? I don't doubt that many systems in our world are corrupt, but rejecting them all seems impractical to me. Surely we have a collective responsibility?

I digress....

He's got ME, and I can sympathise with that having had an oft named and unresolved fatigue type illness/condition/whatever in my very early twenties. He doesn't work and has just sold his house in the south, with an ambition to move abroad and live a self sustaining life.

He seems to be a believer in the alternative medicine sphere. And, why not? If something helps you feel better, whatever it is, then we must all do what is right for us.

I just don't know what to make of him. My previous lodgers have been friends or weekday residents. But, he'll be here full time for the next two to six months. The extra cash is nice, although losing my space will be a challenge.

I am a broad minded person, whose life and career are not founded on the material or selfish. Part of me admires his goals of an alternative life, but the other part of me values the society and community I am part of and recognises her need of some home comforts and frivolity. I try not to judge the choices of others.

I think it's good for me to have someone else around. Living alone is a very self indulgent way to exist and really rather too nice! Reminding myself how to share my space and compromise can only be good practice for when the time comes when I finally find someone to rub along with permanently.

In the meantime my flat feels like a health food shop. There are aromatherapy oils and weird food supplements in the fridge whose names I cannot pronounce.

Have I let the right person into my home?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The World Over

Although I've had a site meter gadget installed on my blog for a long time now, I don't look at it as often as I might. It's only the introduction of blogger's stats page that's highlighted recently where most of my visitors come from.

In the last month I've had visitors from Russia, Afghanistan, Congo, Spain, Canada and so on. It amazes me that people stop by from the world over.

I have two people to thank for bringing the majority of visitors here.

First of all there's Kim Ayres who listed me amongst the blogs he follows. I love his list, it's like a library to be dipped in and out of. There's always someone with something interesting to say. Kim himself writes beautifully on a diverse range of subjects and shares his photography over at Ramblings of the Bearded One.

And secondly there is Charles C. Finn. A poet, and someone I know nothing about! But other folk must do, as his words are the highest source of traffic because I once quoted him in a post. You can read the whole piece here. I often wonder what is going through the minds of those who search the internet with these words.
Thanks to all who do for stopping by. I amazed and humbled by the corners of the world that gather here from time to time.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The phone is not my friend

I don't like the phone, and I don't really know why.

It's fine in a work setting, part and parcel of our day to day.

In my home life, I don't like it. I put off calling people. I put off answering or returning calls. I haven't had a land line for four years now.

It doesn't feel like a thing I want to do, call people that is. I email, I send cards, I arrange to meet folk by text message and see them face to face.

As a teenager I spent hours on the phone, often to people I'd seen a few short moments before. When did my aversion to the phone appear? I'm not certain.

There are a very small handful of people I actively call. Even then, I prefer to call them rather than be caught out. I don't mind if it's a purely practical thing, but the notion of calling just to chat isn't something I enjoy.

I never quite figured it out. It's impossible to read people in the same way as it is face to face, but the same can be said of email.

A ringing phone should be a nice surprise or an opportunity to catch up with someone you haven't seen for a while. Instead it just seems intrusive. In a world of mobile technology calls can be screened, and I do.

Boyfriends seem to be the exception to this. There's a excitement in getting to know someone, knowing chat is just chat. Knowing they want to talk to you. Knowing you can do just that, and nothing else. There is an anticipation or, further down the line, comfort in hearing the voice of someone you want to be close to.

Despite my reluctance to communicate this way, I've just spent an hour chatting a friend and it was lovely.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Decisions, decisions....

I'm just back after a lovely week or so of a conference, visiting friends and another wedding – the second in two weeks. I've also just agreed to a week's holiday for a friend's 40th and I am number 13, the only single person.

What do all of these have in common – I was the token single girl in amongst a multitude of couples. It stings a bit. Not because I am unhappy or jealous but because as others bring their plotting and planning to the table, I only have my voice. Being the minority isn't much fun.

There's a trip afoot for Hogmanay to a tiny Scottish island off the west coast. I'd love to feel the bitter cold sea air on my face and walk the island's paths and hills.

But, there's a but.

The group is, once again, made up of couples and the token gay man – too I become the gay man's substitute partner at social occasions. I love these people, they are my friends but I don't love an unmixed group.

It makes me feel lonely.

As others turn to kiss each other and welcome in another year, I will wait in line until someone remembers I am there.

Of course, I can host another party here at home or be amongst different friends. I wish I didn't have to decide now. A deadline is looming.

If don't go I know I will be sad to miss it. If I do, I know I will be sad that there is no one to kiss me a happy new year. I know I'd be fine. Feeling left out, no matter how unintentionally on the part of others or self indulgently on my part, is never much fun.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Letter to the man who is not my lover

I saw you last night. I didn't expect to. In amongst the friends, there you are with your girl. I was caught. I knew this could, would perhaps, happen at some point. I just didn't know how it would make me feel. Leaving my friend would create questions. I stay, pleased to see you and utterly unnerved by your presence.

I have met her before only in passing. I know who she is but we are not friends. She is skinny, pretty and child like, and friendly to the person she doesn't know.

I tried my hardest to behave as if nothing has passed between us. To ignore you would be strange.

As we chatter and mull over quiz questions, there is your gaze, held a little too long, as we talk amongst our friends.

There is a look of knowing behind those eyes. Those bright, pale eyes which I cannot deny. We cannot speak of what has been said, but it is there and present.

I am shocked by how I feel. I am full of jealousy, confusion and a little pity for her, knowing what you have said to me. But you, well, you are under my skin.

I do my best to be normal, whatever that is. But my heart is racing.

I had put you and your words out of my mind. I had resolved that, as flattering as they are, they are ultimately meaningless without action and that I deserve someone who can do as well as say. I write it off as a surreal episode, a dream.

Yesterday evening has undone it.

When you look at me, talk to me, it is as if you see all of me. There is no hiding who I am from you. For a change, I don't mind this. I try not look at you or think of your words but they are there, hanging between as we talk.

Very recently I rejected a man who I once loved. He is married and a father. After fifteen years, we have found a great friendship but a drunken night left him asking for more. I said 'no' with ease. I don't want someone else's man. Could I do this with you?.

This is not something sexual or frivolous, there is a fire in my belly, at my very core, that wants to reach for you and know you will hold my hands.

I know you are not mine, and are unlikely ever to be. I will not chase you, or seek you out. But, if you came to me, I could not turn you away.

Friday, 8 October 2010

A little success

Less than four months into my new job, today I got a new job title. I'm not even out of my probation let alone on a permanent contract. I became 'Head of....' rather than the manager I've been for the last two jobs and in a fantastic organisation.

It's an odd thing. My job is the same, as is my salary, but somehow that doesn't matter. I'm not concerned by status, but my last proper boss (before the self employment) and I had a very poor relationship. It undermined me, and all of my confidence. It helped destroy the shaky and dwindling sense I had of who I was.

I don't care what anyone calls me, but what I do care about is that not only have reminded myself that I am actually capable, but that other people trust me too. I'd forgotten what that felt like.

I didn't know my title was changing before it was announced to all the staff. It's lovely to have a little validation and excitement about my future again.

I can do, and be good at, what I love and believe in. I feel very privileged and pleased.

Sunday, 3 October 2010


Last night I saw the musician. The man who three weeks ago blind sided me with his words. Words that I didn't, couldn't, see coming.

We sat in my car in the small hours of the morning like teenagers. Not going home, not wanting to leave each other. The last time I saw him felt like some strange dream. I had no idea how he felt.

I don't know how to capture the intensity of this emotion, his words, my feelings. I am tired and confused.

Our hands tangled and untangling, foreheads pressed together, just sitting. Desperately trying to figure out what to say.

He tells me he is at risk of falling madly in love with me. He tells me I am in his head, his thoughts. He misses me.

I love these words. This time I believe him.

What to do?

He is in a relationship. He is not married and has no children. They have been together for a long time. I suspect he stays because it is familiar and settled. We daren't talk about it. I don't want to know.

He asks me if I could cope if there was a transition from there to here. I don't know if I answered. It is pointless. These are just words.

I will not be a mistress. He doesn't want this from me anyway, but still I need to say it. I tell him I deserve a whole relationship, that I am angry that he can tell me how he feels without any thought to what I am to do with that information. I won't have my heart played with.

No matter how hard I try to fight this, and stop his words, I can't. He asks me if I feel it too, and I can only say 'yes'.

There is only one other man in my past who has spoken to me so intenesly. One man, who truly and passionately loved me. I ran away from our relationship because it was too much when I wasn't ready. That was a decade ago.

The musician is talented, clever and attractive. He is a well known face in my little corner of the world, so I was always surprised when he took the time to chat to me. I am surprised to discover that he comes a little unstuck around me. He's wondered why I'd bother with him. He tells me he is nervous and excited when he sees me, that he babbles and fumbles for words whilst trying to impress me. It looks like he and I are a little in awe of each other. Blimey.

Eventually, we agree we must go home. We agree we need to think. We agree that we need time to find out if our thoughts are just madness.We agree that we will not have an affair. We agree that we will let each other know if minds are changed, risks run from.

I suspect, however, that we may freeze. Neither of us pursuing the other because he is someone else's.

The thought of him is dangerous. He makes my heart sing and it terrifies me.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Journey

Somehow two weeks have slipped by without me writing a word here, and as I now sit in front of my laptop, I still don't know what is is I have to say. But, I do feel like typing.

It's been an odd couple of weeks which culminated in a very unplanned day out. A morning coffee turned into a day of confessions, sharing of heartaches and much fun.

I have a friend whose heart is broken. We found him on his own in the pub on Saturday afternoon in a pitiful state. He was brave and tired.

He met a girl in the US a few months ago. A relationship and anticipation began. He's just returned from her. When he set off he never doubted that a plan would be made, that he'd found he girl of his dreams. His 'one'.

He told us his story of days at the zoo and walking in new places, of promise and the future. Tears so close we couldn't hug him, he had to just keep talking without interference.

This vision was quickly robbed from him as it all started to fall to pieces. The girl sounds unsettled, insecure. The reasons why of the tale don't really matter.

What matters is that he tried. He believed in the dream and travelled thousands of miles to find out if she would share it with him. He still believes that one day he will be loved in the way he so much wants. Despite the failed relationships of his past, he's moving towards that person.

I admire him. He is scared and still keeps trying. He is braver than me, who hides from the very risks that are worth taking and doesn't really believe that she will ever be loved.
We ended the evening a group of single frineds, relying on each other for solace and companionship - an alternative family - laughing.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Trust: Reality and Blogging again

I've always written this anonymously. It's a private diary: a recording of days, feelings and memories that make up my journey. Part of me needs an outlet, writing lets me figure out what is going on in my head, to process , make decisions and find my voice. The other part of me wants to mark my way, like Hansel and Gretel dropping pebbles to leave a trail The path from here to there.

There are people who I've never met who have read my thoughts and moved on, others stop by leaving their words and drawing me into a community of sorts.

There are a few people in my real world who know how to find this place, none where I live. Three of them are amongst my closest girlfriends, and they are abroad, and I know won't judge. Two others I shared this with on a whim. One, an ex boyfriend, has read perhaps more than he'd like about himself over the months. Another is new and I've yet to discover if he'll ever stop by, remember how to find me here or keep this trust. Can he keep my secret? It makes me nervous. However, I must remember that this place is important to me, and mostly of little interest to others.

Sharing my blog presents two risks;

1.Someone will read about themselves and be unhappy. Some people would not want these stories told or like what they read. But, it's my place and my thoughts and I won't tailor events to suit the sensitivities of the reader. I need to do this.

2.By allowing in people I know in flesh and bone, I risk other people from my everyday life finding what is here – my secrets, anger or sadnesses. Is that so bad? Or, would I find myself editing the things I most need to scribble about? It takes things dangerously close to reality, and equally enables some folk to see the real person. Sometimes happy, sometimes reflective, sometimes angry and venting.
I don't trust so easily and sharing this takes me one step closer to opening up and showing the world who I am. Trust inherently involves risk, and it's something I need to learn to do. I want to be able to trust enough to continue to write freely.

It makes me feel very vulnerable.

Comforting, mundane

There is a strange bond of understanding and friendship that grows amongst those whose paths only cross in hospital wards.

As our parents and spouses ramble, wail or shut down, lost in alternate worlds trapped by dementia, we do our best to find some kind of normal. Amidst the chaos or stubborn silence we dare not voice our losses, instead holding on to the daily pleasantries that help to make us feel better and connect beyond neurological meltdown.

Behind the painted on smiles for our loved ones and each other, there is only grief and memories they can no longer share. We all see the sadness and smile with each other nonetheless. There is no other way.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Words, believed or otherwise

I've known him a while but it's been ages since we've seen each other. We skirt around different edges of a group of friends. It's great to see him. He is attractive, cheeky, and so very easy to talk to.

It is still early-ish and no-one is drunk yet. Well, apart from the guy who's been asleep at the table after peaking way, way too early in the evening.

We talk about life and love and all that stuff, and he tells me I am feisty, clever and sexy. I am surprised.

We all carry on to another pub and a band, and still we only really talk to each other. He flirts, in front of our friends. I try to dismiss his chatter as affable sport. He apologises for flirting, and continues nonetheless.He tells me 'you've got me'. I don't know how to respond. I am so very curious.

He is a musician whose songs were part of my teens and twenties. He's bohemian and creative. We go home and he plays the guitar bought for an ex, a present returned.

I like his mind, I like his hands.

His words keep coming. Words of attraction, connection and flattery. I want to believe him. I want to be all those things he tells me I am. 

I am not sure I believe him. Perhaps I am some of these things?

If he is telling the truth, it was passionate and dangerous territory. If he is spinning me a line, he is a convincing bad boy and I have enjoyed his game.

Either way, I was tempted and he is not mine.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Letter to an ex flatmate, former friend

I don't know what to do. You write or email every few months. Your last, a month ago, telling me you had dreamt about me twice. I don't respond. I don't know how to.

Still, you keep trying.

You don't understand why we don't speak any more, and I doubt you ever will. I wish you could, but you are too self absorbed.

I was excited when you moved to Scotland. I looked forward to getting you back. I looked forward to rediscovering the fun and talk of hopes, politics, dreams, men and history that we'd had as flatmates, university chums from the start. I introduced you to my network that you adopted as your own. I found you a room in a house with my friends. It was wonderful to have you back.

I listened to you for hours with patience and kindness as your relationships fell to pieces, minor blips happened at work, all sorts of 'dramas' occurred.

I didn't mind listening and counselling you. We trusted each other and it's what friends are for. But, eventually it, you, became a burden when I couldn't even carry the weight of my own problems.

When my life changed, you'd ask after my sick parents but you didn't ask me how I was. Not that I remember anyway. I moved to my home city and we spoke often. You visited me too.

When you did come, you could only talk about yourself. You couldn't listen.

I was falling to pieces and you didn't see that one of your best friends was coming apart at the seams. I don't know if I knew how to tell you. I still struggle to tell people now when I'm all at sea. That is not your fault.

I tried to tell you I needed you, and you didn't understand what that meant. I tired to explain why I was upset with you, you couldn't see my point of view. I was always the strong one, the care taker. The shoes didn't fit the other way round.

It has been two and half years since I last saw you. Less since we last spoke. I miss you, but I don't know if I will ever write back.

I think about you often.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Letter to an ex lover former friend 2

I have a scar on my wrist, less visible than it was.

Earlier this year you told me it was a 'cat scratch' and dismissed it. It didn't hurt. I still don't know how I got it. It was just there, bloody and red. Bold, painless.

After we decided our friendship was at an end, I thought 'by the time this fades, I will have forgotten about you'. It's still there, less so than before.


Each time I think you are in my past, your name appears in unexpected places.

Your voice has interrupted my day through radio 4. Your name has appeared in professional circles. Your county appears in my work conversations, them knowing I know a little of the region and some of its players. I can't not make a recommendation if I need to when the question comes round in earnest, there is a bigger picture of community well being that I cannot be selfish about.

This evening, over a casual and unexpected drink, a mutual acquaintance told me he'd met my friend.

But, you're no longer my friend. You're no longer the person who gets my inner geek and is excited about all those things.

You're no longer the person I trusted with my heartfelt sadnesses, silence and dreams.

There are many we meet and pass time with. There are many we meet and whose company is to be enjoyed, embraced even. There are few, however, we trust easily. There are few who understand. You were one of those few, I thought. My naivete perhaps.

You are one of the few, fortunately, who have betrayed my friendship, my trust, hurt me.

You are someone who the thought of makes me sad that you are no longer part of my life.

Will I always have a scar?  Do you even care?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


I'm experiencing something I haven't for quite some time. I have a crush.

Normally, I meet someone new, we flirt, nothng happens/he asks me out/we kiss (reverse order as necessary), and things either go from there or grind to a halt and I write the whole thig off to experience.

Instead, there's a guy I've known for a while who's caught my attention after more than a year. We know each other socially, through a music night and mutual friends, but I found myself in one to one conversation with him for most of the last evening we were out together.

I arrived in the pub early, and my friends were running late. The mutual friend who runs the acoustic night was about but busy so I got a drink and sat down. Happy enough to wait knowing there was folk I knew on their way. He was at the bar on his own, I didn't see him until he waved, came over and asked if he could join me. Easy chatter flowed as one by one our friends arrived, groups mixing more than usual. We normally chat a little but return to our respective tables. It was nice: an awful word, I know.

We'd never spoken like that before and suddenly I see him in a whole different light. Serious, passionate and silly in equal measure.

It's a bit disconcerting that I find myself thinking about him now. We laughed and flirted and chatted. He's attractive and made me feel like I am too. Who knows if it'll ever become more than flirting, but in the meantime I'll just enjoy feeling like a fifteen year old!

Monday, 30 August 2010


Mouse, well probably mice, have invaded my drawer of baking and dried goods (like noodles, flour, sugar and spices bought in bulk- useful store cupboard things I've built up over a long period and will resent replacing!). I am p***ed off and fearful in equal measure! I know the mouse/mice are probably more scared of me than I am of them. I've had lots of helpful advice from friends, which is greatly appreciated, but I'm struggling to put it into action.

I hate that my house has been invaded. Spiders are bad enough, but mice? Not good.

Mostly, I'm quite content living on my own. I manage to do most things by myself. I can paint rooms, hang curtains and have my own electric drill but occasionally I hate it. This is most definitely one of those occasions.

Did I bring a creature home with me from my camping trip, or is there a wee hole somewhere and the colder nights have tempted them into my warm home? I'm just hoping and praying its just a cunning visitor, not a whole family....argh!

There is a single drawer where packets have been chewed through and a drawer of plastic storage containers that shows evidence that they've passed through there too. I've washed out most of the plastic containers and will finish the rest tomorrow but I just haven't quite rustled up the courage to tackle the drawer. I suspect wellies and rubber gloves may be required for me to take the next step.

I cope with so much, and survive well enough on my own. But sometimes I resent it. Sometimes, often, it just makes me sad. Sometimes, I just want someone else to say it'll be ok. Sometimes, I am lonely.

Mostly, I am ok.

Today I just want someone, anyone, to help me be braver and who'll check the drawer has no residents before I chuck everything out. Instead I'm feeling like a ridiculously daft girl who's procrastinating about something that just needs dealt with.

I want my house back.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Last Weekend

It feels like the end of summer. The British weather is unpredictable at best, so it's not so much about temperature, or rain, but a change in the light. It is that shift in seasons that creeps up that we only feel when it is upon us.

I was camping this weekend with old friends. As the boys went to collect more kindling for the fire, I sat by the loch looking over the hills at the low sun and the rain closer than before.

I love this stirring in the seasons and the light. I look forward to the change that will come with autumn.

We walked in the late summer sunshine, with the odd shower at our backs, high above the loch. After two months of my mother's limbs regaining their strength, mine have been losing theirs. My old back and hip aches returning, caused by hospital visiting instead of exercising. As we walked I could feel my joints loosening and muscles working. The freedom of our land and air challenging my body. Steps towards being more powerful again. I will walk through the autumn.

Wild camping is a wonderful privilege in a country which supports outdoor access. There is a national park an hour from my home, where informal camp sites are well used and tolerated by the rangers as long as we are respectful of these places. We spent two nights with sunshine, violent wind, drizzle and heavy rain all at play.

It is easy to be quiet in this place, and with three men who are happy to share silence as much as chatter.

Yesterday morning I woke first. I sat sheltering from the rain, listening to the Canada geese, reading and drinking coffee made on my little stove. The light coloured front section of my tent is quite transparent as the rain runs from the canvas. I love the simplicity of this. I love watching the water turn into little rivulets. I love that such uncomplicated constructions – when was the first first tent made? How many centuries ago? - can protect us from the elements and can be bundled on to our backs. Fabric and modern day sticks, that's all.

I am glad of this weekend. I have missed much of this summer and am glad to see it out.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Onwards and Upwards

So, some of you have asked how life's going, particularly since giving up the lovely world of self employment for a new opportunity. The past couple of months have been good and awful.

The Canadian disappeared on me. After a lovely three months with him, he just vanished. It was enjoyable but not really going anywhere. I left him in my bed one morning, kissed him goodbye and he posted my keys back through the letter box - as had become the habit - and I never heard from him again.

We'd been taking things slow, so at least I wasn't invested in it enough for it to hurt too much. The thing that galls me is the rudeness of it. I am shocked that he could walk away without so much as call or an email to say that our relationship, if you can call it that, wasn't for him. It's bad mannered and cowardly. I suppose it's been a lucky escape, would I really want to be more involved with a man who behaves like that?

I miss having someone around though. I miss having someone to ask how my day's been and put a protective arm around me.

The same week as I started my new job, my mother had a fall whilst in hospital. It's a long story of negligence and bad practice but she's finally able to walk a bit, and has been downstairs in her own house this week for the first time in two months. What it's meant for me and my sister is that we've had two hospitals to visit, two parents' needs to attend to and half as much time of our own. It can only be described as a slog, and my poor sister has borne more of it than me because of the job. I am grateful that she is there and patient with it.

Work is the shining light though. I'm now a senior manager in major charity whose purpose I am passionate about. I'm not sure I'd ever have applied if I'd known about the seniority of the post. But retrospectively, I am glad. It's an opportunity that I didn't know I wanted and would perhaps have shied away from. I've got a once in a lifetime project to work on with a great team of people. They're happy with me, and I'm happy with them. I don't think I'd quite understood how much my professional confidence had been eroded by my last boss, and finally I am accepting that I'm good at what I do. I'd forgotten in amongst the bullying. I was undermined to the core.

Freelancing was the first step back to regaining myself and I will return to the consultancy at some point. It's a lifestyle I loved. I loved the freedom it gave me, and the variety. But for now, I am enjoying beingrelatively well paid (well, 'well' for my sector!), working hard and being properly supported and valued to deliver a project that will changes lives of those most in need. I am humbled by it also.

In amongst it all, I've done my best to try and maintain a little of my own life. I make sure that I see my friends and find some light heartedness along the way. However, apart from a week of being sick, I haven't had a week off since Christmas and I am exhausted.

To sum it all up: I guess I'm currently a very tired single girl, with a great job, relieved that the parental front is improving and much in need of a hug from someone who needs nothing from me in return.

I've got the week after this booked off, with no plans other than to try find fresh air, sleep, good conversation and some space. All suggestions welcome!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Letter to an ex lover, former friend

I was standing in a field in my wellies watching one of our greatest folk musicians on my own. Friends had wandered off elsewhere, interested in other things. Surrounded by people, noise and hills, I was happy. I turned to share this music, this moment: my pleasure, my thoughts, my smile, my tapping feet.

It was you I thought of.

It was you who would have loved this. It was you who understood and shared the passions of my inner geek.

Sometimes, I miss you. I miss your friendship and joy in simple things.

Instead, I chatted to a random stranger.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

My Vertical Village

I live in a traditional Scottish Victorian tenement. There are six flats; three unmarried ladies of different generations (one of which is me), a single mum, a middle aged bloke – unusually, a professor of popular music - and two lesbians, four kids and a cat. We're an eclectic bunch, and it's only as I write I realise that not one of these homes hosts a 'traditional' family.

Tenement living is little like existing in an upright village. We know each others business to a point, help each other when we can and unite against our evil property managers. They wield too much power over us as factors – a strange landlord hybrid - despite us owning our own homes and, communally, the building that brings us together.

We're sacking them as they hinder rather help us take care of the old place and our bank accounts. Tonight I hosted our meeting to figure out the way forward for this little vertical gathering of homes.

Living like this, in a big formerly industrial city, brings a comforting sense of community and reassurance.

We are merely keepers of this place for our life times. The building will be here long after we're all gone, if we look after it.

Who will inhabit these rooms after me? Who has lived and died here, broken hearts or given birth?

Will my predecessors take care of the cornicing , the century old sash windows or the elderly lady upstairs? No-one can know, but for now this building and the lives contained within it are ours. We look out for each other and this place.

I like it.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The biological imperative

I spend a lot of time with pregnant women and mums with small kids. They are my friends and I am happy for them. I love meeting their small people.

A conversation with a newly pregnant friend last weekend has rather unexpectedly thrown me into a tail spin. The usual chat about how she was feeling and the like, turned into a reflection on her motivations. She is the person who told her husband a few years ago that she didn't want kids. A conversation with her GP about her age (35) and her fertility got her thinking, and she changed her mind reckoning that it was better to to go for it, have a child and unexpected adventure than always wonder 'what if....'

Being a women can be strange. Our hormones help us measure the months and years that pass. They play with our emotions. Tears can come over nothing, and it's only a day or two later it dawns on you that it was simply hormones that made you weep or shout. It can be simultaneously reassuring to know why you were upset and unsettling that invisible inner forces can have such a strong influence.

The tail spin has come because I suddenly realise how old I am. Of course I know. Of course I understand that my fertility is dwindling. But somehow, this one conversation brought it all into stark reality.

I sometimes think I want a family and sometimes think it's ok I don't really. I suspect I talk myself out of the idea because current circumstances suggest that it is unlikely to happen.

My body is screaming at me. Screaming at me to procreate before it is too late. Those pesky hormones and the biological imperative are begging me to pay attention. No matter what I want or don't, right now what I don't have is choice. Without a father, there will be no children.

My body screams at me every day and there is nothing I can do to silence it. I can only listen and wait.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

It is raining

Tonight I should write about my father's fall, his seizure, the four stitches in his head, swollen lip and the fear in his eyes as he tries to orientate himself. I should talk of calming him, whilst being so scared of losing another piece of my dad but it is raining. Properly raining. The kind of rain that part of me wants to go outside and dance circles in.

There has only been a little thunder and lightening.

It is the kind of rain that has inspired me to make cauliflower cheese and light candles in the absence of a fire. My flowers look starkly dry and lifeless in comparison. I buy myself flowers, cheap and wasteful, but that's a whole other story.

It is the kind of rain which bounces and thunders on the sides of old canvas tents whilst you huddle inside and tell tall tales.

It is rain that compels me to watch it. Sheets and ribbons of water. Unpredictable and beautiful.

I love weather. I love watching it from afar. Clouds coming in, mist descending, rain approaching.

Weather takes me back to so many places and moments that make up my life. From being snowed in in the remote Highland wilderness to the smell of soggy woollen school duffel coats and freshly washed summer pavements. Weather has inspired me, scared me and given me memories that are suddenly vital and present.

Tonight I am reminded of watching rain, whilst I am warm and dry, on a different sofa. I am reminded of Knoydart.

It is a remote peninsula only accessible by air, feet or boat. It is one of my favourites places in the world and hosts an extraordinary community.

I am lying on a sofa in my long johns in an otherwise empty bed & breakfast. The log stove is lit. Music plays, is there whisky and tea? I am reading and watching the winter rain make its way across the sea loch and hills outside.

I am lying on that sofa with Andy (the ex and Morocco companion of earlier tales). We are one at each end, legs entwined. Chat breaks through the staring and day dreaming.

It is the beginning. It a moment of promise, anticipation and connection despite the dreary, cold day.

I am transfixed by the weather and I am happy.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Normal service resumes

First of all, it's reassuring to know that people are interested enough in my ramblings to stop by. More importantly they're kind enough to take the trouble to let me know when things have gone awry!

A big thank you to Kim and Vextasy for flagging up my blog's technical issues which I managed to solve as much by accident than by design.....offers of help were greatly appreciated also,


Monday, 12 July 2010

End of the Line?

I think I'm going to give up on the Canadian.

I like him. He's good company, intelligent, attractive. But – the 'but' had to come – he's just a bit hopeless.

He seems to be more interested in his sport and blokes' outings than me. He should enjoy those things, but there needs to be a bit of room for me.

I love that he has a life and passions, even if I don't quite understand them. We live an hour apart and are both busy people and somewhere, in the midst of the chaos, effort and time have to be made to find out if this thing's got legs.

I need consistency and support, and I'm not getting either of those things. I have spoken with him about how we can find the time in amongst a busy summer schedule, without nagging, and it doesn't feel like he's trying. We have a wonderful time together, but little holds us together in the gaps.

There are very few people in the world that I've connected with at a deeper level, thought I could love for the long haul. Each time I've f**ked those situations up out of fear or not coping. I'm finally finding my feet and feeling properly on top of my life for the first time in years, despite windows of awfulness. I am open to a relationship that is healthy and balanced. I've really tried with this one to not rush in, or run away and it seems, for once, I'm not the one who's destroying an opportunity.
I am thoroughly pissed off because I feel like he is leading me on. He is, at best, being bad mannered. I trusted him, and he's being crap. I hate the thought that it might be over and I have to start all over again.

I haven't made a final decision and maybe I won't need to, it could just all fade away....

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Dementia Unit - Quiet Room

Sitting in her chair trying to pull her socks off, she cries 'Mum, Mum Mum, Mum - where are you? MUM!'

She is a grandmother, who knows not her own children. She only wants the comfort of her mother. She is lost and confused and angry and scared. A child in a wizened, elderly form. It is heart breaking.

Her 'house mate' my father, however, is silent.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Does anyone?

Sometimes I just want to cry and I don't know why.

Is it that I have an old university friend and his very happy, lovely fiancé staying and being excited about weddings. And, I am wondering if it will ever be me?

Is it because the Canadian is off and away for the first of three or four boys weekends away that I'm not part of and I'm wondering if there is space for me in his life, and if he's willing to make some room for me?

Is it because I've left my house guests for a couple of hours to go and see how my poorly mother is? Only then to watch her struggle to eat, struggle with pain, struggle with being sick before I sort her out and she sends me off before she then calls my sister for help and advice? Is my offering not enough?

Is it because the parent who I turned to when the chips were down doesn't know my name any more, and probably doesn't know I am his daughter?

Is it because amongst all of these things, I just want someone to come home to, someone to put my needs alongside theirs, someone to wrap me in their arms and tell me it will be ok? Can the Canadian do this?

Is it because amongst people I have known of old that I am reminded that they have found someone to hold their hand along the way and I am still trying?

Is it because amongst all these people in my life, I am still lonely? Perhaps.

Is it because I am just struggling along doing what I can, and wishing it wasn't so? Probably.

I miss my Dad and I miss my Grandpa. I miss the friends and lovers left behind through circumstance, unnecessary arguments and life changing tack. Does anyone miss me?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Mum very reluctantly apologised, and only after blaming me, buts and more buts. Excuses. I demanded an apology, no matter how many times she tried to change the conversation. I couldn't let it go. She has to take some responsibility for her behaviour, whatever the cause.

She has a minor crack in her spine after her fall. I am feeling very guilty and ashamed. She is the boy that cried wolf, and I stopped listening a long time ago.

I visited her in hospital this evening. She wants comfort and affection and I freeze. I am angry that my life has been taken over by my parents health. I resent it. Resent her. I cannot give her what she wants. I can do the practical stuff, but I struggle to feel anything other than angry towards her.

Like a child she cries or has a tantrum, and expects us to drop everything. When does she ever do this for me? I've stopped telling her when I'm upset about anything. She knows this. I refuse, cannot bring myself to do so. She'll only bring the conversation back to her. So, I've given up.

I wish it wasn't like this, but it is. I wish I didn't have two hospitals to visit.

Monday, 21 June 2010


So now begins the cycle of guilt.

I feel guilty for leaving her.

I feel guilty that my sister got dragged in.

I feel guilty for being so angry with her.

I feel guilty for writing my last post. Surely I am a bad person for thinking and wirting such things about my mother....

So on, and so forth.

I want to make it better but I also want her to take responsibility for her part. Will I stand my ground? Or will my guilt eat away at my conscience until I succumb to it?

She is now in hospital.

I will visit my father in his hospital this but will I visit her? If I do not, I know that this will drag out further. If I do, I hand all the power back to her.

She will tell me she doesn't want to talk about it. She will tell me it was the drugs talking and it is not her fault.

She no longer behaves like a mother but like a petulant child. If I capitulate, which I inevitably will, she will do it all again at some point in the future. I am exhausted with it all.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Well, it's official, my mother is a bitch.

Having turned up with food and things for her, despite her shouting at me down the phone, being over dramatic and catastrophising she announced that I'm the last person in the world she'd ask for help and that I wasn't a good enough daughter. She tells me I am a good daughter to my dad but not to her. My poor dad who doesn't know it is father's day and can't remember my name. My dad that I miss desperately and see fading before my eyes, disappearing week by week.

I asked for an apology more than once to be told hell would freeze over before I got one. I gave her one more opportunity, and then walked out.

I too am a bitch. I have left a highly distressed seventy year old woman with severe back pain on her own to do whatever the hell she pleases.

She has made me feel like an inadequate and unworthy for most of my life. Tonight she crossed the line. After six and half years of caring for her, I'm going to stand my ground.

I don't know if it was the alcohol or the morphine or the pain talking, but talk she did.

I am feeling guilty for leaving her. She will blame me. I will blame me. I am a bad daughter. Nothing I do will ever be good enough, no matter how hard I try.

Guilt will eat me up.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Maybe today

It's a funny old world sometimes, and each June seems to bring a wave of change. Maybe it's the summer solstice or some other such influence at work! Hmmm.....anyway, I just know that each June for a good number of years has brought more than its fair share of moments of unanticipated stress, realisations, change, happiness, farewells or otherwise. Whatever the whys and the wherefores, this point of the year makes me stop and reflect.

Today I think I am content. It's not simple or uncomplicated, but it's there nonetheless.

I have spent the weekend in the fresh air, in Scotland's most glorious and mountainous countryside working hard as a volunteer with people who make me feel very privileged to know them. My feet and hips ache, and my midgie bites are lively! But, amongst the busyness, weather and people there was space to be me, do my thing, and be good at it.

My nephew is alive, recovering and home.

A new job starts in a week. The days between will be extremely busy tying up the ends of a project I'm sad not see to see to conclusion and I am instead saying goodbye to colleagues who've offered their support and friendship along the way.

There's a man whose role in my life is yet to become clear, but he is there and what unfolds will unfold. I'm not going to rush it or worry.

I have found a sense of stillness and calm somewhere amid the chaos. Mountains and music always help. This weekend there were mountains. Perhaps next I can find some music.

Maybe the wiccans, druids and pagans are right, that it is a time to celebrate life, change or growth. Maybe it is an annual coincidence. Maybe I pay more attention to these events because it's happened before. Maybe it just is what it is. Maybe today I just am. And, that's ok with me.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Back to the Grind Stone

My decision is made. I'm going to be an employee again. I'm excited and nervous. The project is high profile and demanding, but very tangible and with a charity whose work I admire and respect. The bit of me that left my last job with my self confidence worn into the ground has been whispering in my ear. But I know these are just thoughts and they will pass.

I'm very proud of everything I've achieved over the past 14 months of self employment. I've proven I can make it work. I also know that it's a world that I will return to. It's been fantastic to lead a different kind of life for a while and is what I will strive for in the future.

However, as a single-ish girl with no-one else to help pay the mortgage, and who's still carrying student debt amongst other things, it's also made me realise how much I'd like to be free of the shackles of those bills, mortgage aside.

So, probably for the first time in my life I've made a decision about my career based on money, as well as opportunity. I want to clear the decks and be financially freer. I want to build a more stable platform for myself and my future. After all, no-one's going to do it for me.

I will return to a life more free and flexible. But for now, security feels important.

I feel very proud and privileged to be in a position where I've worked hard enough that I've had a choice to make, and for the support of those who've helped me get there.

I am going to concentrate my energies on making my life secure enough that I can make more choices without fear. Money can't buy happiness, but for now it can help me buy a future I want.

Monday, 7 June 2010

My Career: A Tipping Point

Today has been strange. Tomorrow could be stranger.

Tomorrow I could have two existences to choose from, the continuation of my long term contract or a big scary exciting job. Or none. A board of directors may decide to change their strategy and not renew my bread and butter contract, and someone may decide not to offer me a job that is so close I can almost feel it.

I could have it all to pick from, or nothing. It is terrifying and exciting. I am on the cusp of three very different futures: employee, freelance consultant or a blank slate.

The positive, optimistic, professional me trusts that I have done enough for those who hold the decision making powers to vote in my favour. But, there is part of me that knows that the whims of others may leave me having to rebuild.

I must have faith and hope that out there is a bright future. For now, it is all out of my hands.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

He is Alive

Today is a day I don't want to go through again for a long, long time.

My beautiful, wonderful four year old nephew has spent eight hours having surgery on his heart. He now has a goretex artery. He really only has one functioning chamber, and had his first op two years ago to help re- plumb him and keep him going until he was big enough for today to happen. His situation is extremely rare.

Over the past months he has been getting more tired, breathless and blue on a bad day. Oxygenated blood gets round his body more by luck than by design, hopefully today will change all of that.

It's so easy to forget he's not a normal wee boy. He is a cheeky monkey, who is learning his way in the world, obsessing about Ben Ten watches, demanding just one more story and refusing to eat certain things although he loves broccoli and asparagus! His 'go faster stripe' or 'zip' is, of course, a constant reminder.

He is the most important person in my world. I don't have kids, but I do have him. He lives round the corner and we see each other often. We have things that just he and I do together. We're growing a miniature garden at the moment. It would have been all tomatoes if he'd had his way. Instead there are beans, broccoli,carrots, potatoes, pumpkin and some ill looking radishes. And, tomatoes. We laugh and he hates snails. He gave me into trouble for throwing one into the next garden the other day. He reminded me that I should be 'nice and kind'. Sorry snail.

He is still intensive care, and being sedated over night. He has been in my thoughts, hopes and tears today. The dreadful thought of it all going wrong and the pain that he will be in when he wakes nagging me. The endless hours, minutes and seconds endured by my brother and his wife. The thoughts of eating his first home grown radishes and learning to like bugs keeping me going.

He is OK. He is not there yet, but he is strong. He will get through and we will all be right there beside him.

He is alive.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A little composure

Ok, time to pull myself together and and acknowledge that a panic is simply that and it will pass. It is passing, helped very much by the wise and kind words of others who have taken the time to share with me. Thank you. You know who you are!

I am nervous about seeing him. But, I am seeing him tomorrow.

The last night we spent together pressed too many of my buttons It was not his fault but simply what goes on my head. Old wounds twinging and sending me into a tail spin.

When I saw him last weekend, we had both had other commitments and met at his house afterwards, taking advantage of me being in the same city for the evening. It was lovely, but come Sunday morning it felt like some kind of 'booty call' (for want of a better phrase!!). We hadn't spent the evening together, just the night. Albeit he'd made efforts to plan a lovely breakfast and we enjoyed a lazy morning.

It put me right back to that place of feeling that 'something is better than nothing', that devalues me, where I allow myself to accept crumbs from the table, where I allow myself to be led on because I don't feel like I don't deserve any better. I know this is a fallacy, but it takes me huge efforts to remind myself that I am not that person any more.

None of it is helped by me recently allowing an ex to take advantage me (there is only so often you can brush someone off, knowing it is dangerous territory, when the their words and actions make you feel wanted and attractive), lead me on, and ultimately destroy our friendship. He knew my weaknesses and disregarded them all. What's worse is that I let him, even apologising for being angry with him when I had every right to be.

David has done nothing wrong. There was absolutely no evidence to suggest that I was only there to entertain him, but that sinking feeling overwhelmed me and I tried to remain composed but succeeded only achieving an odd mood, which he picked up on. I was so pissed off and shocked at my reaction to it all that I cried all the way home in my car. I wasn't upset with him, but at all the situations in my past that had led me to that place.

I apologised by text when I got home for being a bit odd, and told him that there's perhaps some stuff I need to share with him next time. That time has come. The time where I let him see what's on the inside and hope that he finds something he likes. At least I will be honest and allow myself to be vulnerable. This will be a huge achievement no matter the outcome.

Wish me luck....

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Being Bridget again....

Ok, I hate this. I do fine with the the first few dates, but it's the bit after I despise. The bit where you don't know each other well enough to have an idea of where things stand, or whether they are a boyfriend or not. The bit when you just want to get over that next hurdle and agree that you are in a relationship. But, it's also the bit where you don't want to rush into the next bit, and be smart, take it slow blah, blah, blah......

I am in panic mode about it all at the moment. David is lovely and I want this to go somewhere, I want to be smart about it. I am also panicking that it's now Wednesday and we haven't been in touch since Sunday. I initiated a brief text message exchange today, just to say 'Hi', but now panicking that even this casual exchange will suggest that I am needy. Another invitation is yet to arrive. None of which is helped by the fact that he is away this week, and lives in a city an hour away so a casual drink or lunch isn't an option.

I am panicking that it's all going to come crumbling down around my ears. There is no evidence that this is the case, but some old wounds left me behaving slightly oddly at the weekend. I am panicking that I have imagined that we are having a good time.

I am panicking that he won't call, won't make a plan, won't want me. All that awful stuff that we do. I know I need to exercise patience. I know I need to carry on doing the things I do regardless and see what happens but I worry that I will betray myself by not being patient.

The dating advice of others just confounds it all. There are rules: rules to be broken, rules not to be broken, timings to follow, games to be played, who invents these things and who should we listen to?

I am panicking because of the core belief that tells me I am unloveable and unworthy. I know it is simply that, a belief rather than reality, but that part of me can be a very strong voice at times.

I must take a deep, deep breath and think positive. How? F**k.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Taking chances

I don't want to turn this into a blog which has Dating as its primary subject, but for the moment I need to stick with the whole Bridget Jones thing. It's what's on my mind, and processing it all here is the best outlet I have. So, apologies and thank you for bearing with me!

The Canadian, - calling him my his real name makes it feel very real – is lovely and being smart is hard! David, there, I said it. He is David and he is nice.

He is nice, and cheeky and gentle and insightful, and I am scared and excited.

Trying to take thing one step at a time is so at odds with my last couple of significant relationships, which is, I guess, why they ultimately failed. They were built on shaky foundations. Houses built on sand.

As much as I am trying be brave and not run from this for fear of failure, I'm also scared. All of which is normal I guess. I need to be measured and honest. I'm managing so far and he's respecting that, responding well.

I'm feeling good about it all after another lovely evening. I'm also feeling weird because it's gone beyond a few casual dates, which means now I, we, need to build those foundations and see what happens. It means I need to do this without losing track of me. I need to remember that I will be ok if it doesn't work out, that I have a life and friends and and a career and hope. But, right now I also need to take a risk and believe that I am loveable.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Canadian - Are rules made to be broken?

I've been a bit distracted by a variety of things over the past couple of weeks, hence the absence from here. Thought I'd share an update on the Canadian though.

I'm sitting here mulling over a lovely night. I had my first visit to the Canadian's house last night. Meeting four, date number three.

I'm feeling very spoiled indeed. I arrived at his flat, which had obviously seen a tidy up effort in my honour, to candles and cold cava, cocktails and a delightfully relaxed dinner. I was hugely impressed by the effort he'd made and flattered also. Maybe he's as keen as I am on getting to know each other better, either that or he's a very smooth operator! Whatever the motivation, it was successful and very enjoyable.

I stayed over, perhaps too soon. Perhaps I am simply being a little paranoid about all the rules of dating that we're supposed to follow? It felt like the right thing to do, but pangs of what I 'should' or 'shouldn't' do rear their heads. My insecure self showing up, and confusing the me who wants more than sex, or more than a rushed into relationship that is rushed out of equally quickly. I guess I just have to follow my instincts. I don't always trust them though. We are grown ups, not 19 year olds who are nervous and inexperienced. I'm trying to be smart about this, not hurry, maybe it is a physical step too far. Maybe it is just what it is. Maybe I should trust in his efforts to impress.

Breakfast in bed and a very lazy morning with chat serious and silly have taken us along that next step in the road. I know he's looking for something serious, and not fling. I know more about what he wants from life. He knows I'm looking for something solid, and that's ok with him.

Conversation and kisses come easily with him. Honesty also.

He's an ordinary sort of a guy. He's clever, gentle and realistic, and not gushing or rushing. I am grateful for this. I don't do well with too much flattery or early displays of emotion. I like these things to come gently.

I look forward to getting to know him better one step at a time, warts and all. I want to do this slowly and feel my way forward without pressure, protecting my heart along the way.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

So, the dating saga continues

On to the third man who's emerged over the past wee while: after one idiot, one nice but ultimately unreliable and slightly elusive guy, there comes a charming Canadian. And I am delighted!

We met at a conference a couple of weeks ago, where I had to host a table. I had no influence over the seating plan I must add, and ended up with him on my left for the evening. He was a great conversationalist and more than once rescued me from technical chatter of cancer scientists when I was beginning to lose track and bring it all back to lay man's terms.

We discovered a mutual friend, a good friend at that who has since been doing his share of match making....

Confident, intelligent, cheeky. He's not the most handsome man I've ever met, but he has that spark about him. Tucked under the beard is a great smile, and a whole lot of insight. Oh, I do like a beard.

Anyway, we had our first proper date last night and it was delightful. His car had been ditched for the evening before we'd even made it to dinner, and we spent the evening laughing and sorting the woes of the world out.

For a change I'm not wondering if he'll call or when. I know he will. When doesn't really matter.

I'm also not daft and counting chickens, but it is very good to know there are still some decent men left on the market which restores my faith in why I bother with this dance we all do.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Dear Jim

Tonight I found out someone I once knew died this week. Suicide I think, from the vague messages filtering through.

It's a weird one. I didn't know him for a long time. He was the best friend of an old friend of mine. We had a fling of sorts about four years ago. He worked abroad, and when in the UK lived in elsewhere but we spent some interesting and fun times together.

We connected in a way we all sometimes, but rarely, preciously, do with folk. A bright spark of recognition, soulfulness and humour.

I haven't seen him for a long time. We enquired after each other via the mutual friends, but our paths rarely crossed.

He was a wonderful man with tattoo of Calvin and Hobbs on his bottom that was acquired in a drunken dare in Hong Kong. He was a photographer, amongst other things. Silly and passionate with an inherent sadness at his core.

I was with him when he got the call to tell him his mum had cancer. I watched him receive the news I had heard for myself only a couple of years earlier. I watched him deflate. That kick in the guts of life turning in an instant, of child becoming parent. I watched him cry, and begin to run through the scenarios. I held him, and told him the truth.

I am sad for him. But, he is free. I am more sad for my friend who has lost his best man. Tonight I have cried for them both.

I will write to our friend tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Reality meets Blogging

Blogging and reality have been crossing over recently, and it seems to be no bad thing.

I never knew if anyone would ever use the 'contact me' button, or why I even added it really, but it's been there a while. Sometimes leaving a comment below a post just doesn't fit.

I've had kind words from Stacia by email, IT advice from Vextasy and a few other surprise messages here and there. Each has been personal, supportive and helpful in very different ways.

Over the past couple of days Kim (over at Ramblings of the Bearded One) and I have been in touch about his exhibition. This has meant letting him know my name, and allowing him to see who I am and what I do. It's likely that I will now be bold enough to cross that line, visit the gallery and say hello to the man himself rather than simply leaving random comments on his blog.

The line is a little more blurred than it once was, and it's ok. There are still only three 'real' people who know where my blog is, but others know it exists.

My sister has for many years met new friends around the world courtesy of Lonely Planet's thorn tree forums, residents hosting or welcoming travellers as they pass through. I always thought this was a bit odd. A bit risky too. But, people are generally good rather than bad. She has made lifelong friends with some of these and even been to one wedding. I had one of her internet friends as a lodger for six months. A wonderful late middle aged American radiographer who played blues guitar and told tales of being at Woodstock in his teens. He met his wife because this travelling gathering of like minded souls.

She has become part of community, and so have I. I no longer think it's weird or risky. I posted a while back about feeling like part of an alternative community, and I am pleased that this – despite its virtual nature - seems to be solidifying and real connections being formed.

PS Stacia – when you make it to the UK, I'll walk with you a while.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


....I just wonder when it's going to be ok. When I am going to be ok?

Every time I get close I feel like I am being sucked back into a void where I don't really know who I am, dragged down by the priorities of others, by my morphine filled mother's illness, by the weekly losses endured by the relentless journey of my father's alzheimer's, by fears that paralyse me into inactivity, by one more man who fails to treat me with respect, by another hope dashed.

In theory, I know it's up to me to make me happy, but being a carer sucks so much of my energy, fighting with my demons and work do too. Sometimes there's not so much left over to give me the energy to try any harder.

Perhaps one day I will belive in me, and I will do more than exist.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Fridge - A Portrait

I've had these magnets for years, and things I know i'll forget when I go shopping are added to the fridge. The veg, milk etc I buy regularly never make an appearance. I still manage forget or overlook the list regularly. I was hugely amused by my fridge this weekend, when I realised it looked the the shopping list of a 1950s housewife! With the exception, perhaps, of the chilli and noodles. I don't know if I've ever had to buy a mop before, they've somehow always just appeared in my life....where from, who can remember?

The top half has some daft 'bodice ripping', 'literary' magnets that were a present (featuring a sabre toothed tiger, pirate ship, and a moist grotto) a gym timetable, gig flyer and taxi numbers stuck on.

Every time I have folk round I inevitably wake up the next morning to find all sorts of messages, filthy tales, and general nonsense. The boys tend to make as many rude words as possible. I suspect our fridges say as much about us as our bookshelves, choice of clothes or any other of our accoutrements! What does yours say about you?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A rant on bad manners

Today I am pissed off and tired. My next neighbour had a party for her daughter's 17th birthday last night, and I came home to drunk teenagers in the stair well and someone being sick outside my bedroom window. Lovely. Given that I was arriving home at 2.30am, no judgement was passed! Safe to say, not much sleep was had though. So, tired and grumpy as a result.

Grumpy also because three people over the course of the weekend have bailed out of plans. I had a lovely dinner last night with old school friends visiting home for the weekend, but the rest of the weekend's plans have been a write off. It's just rude and inconsiderate. I understand that people's plans change, and there are things need occasionally need to take priority. But, today I'm sitting here doing my accounts instead drinking coffee and lunching and catching up. I had been looking forward to a social weekend after a hard going week. It rather feels like it's easier to let me down than other people. Maybe I need to stop being nice, understanding and accommodating of others' whims and priorities. Arghh!

At least I know tonight's music and chat will be fun.

Rant over.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

A year and a thank you

I've been neglecting my blog a bit due to wishing to escape my computer as quickly as possible at the end of some very long days. But today I can't let pass without marking it.

It is a year today since I left work. I walked out of the office, not wanting fuss or bother, sad and nervous about the future.

I'd taken a huge step. I could have fought it, but instead put my hand up and said 'I'll go'. I negotiated hard over my redundancy, buying myself some time and a little security in an uncertain world.

I think there have been two things that have surprised me, and made me happier than I'd expected of this past year. Firstly, I hadn't quite realised how determined I could be, how stubborn in the face of all I worked towards crumbling around me. I decided to be brave, fight, take some risks. I'm still not quite earning as much as I was, but doing well enough and life's pace is more manageable, flexible and pleasant.

The other is finding one of the best friends I think I've ever had, right under my nose.

My friend Tash (Violet Sands) was made redundant shortly before me, and shortly before me she'd also crumpled. I've known her more than five or six years through volunteering with young people. We'd always got on, but things changed very quickly once we started talking redundancy, the future, hopes, dreams, work, counselling, new worlds.

Without her, I'm not sure I would have come as far as I have. And, I know it goes both ways.

We're two single thirty-something freelancers in the not for profit world (she's an artist as well, clever girl). Although she lives about an hour away, she is probably more present in my life than anyone else.

We speak almost every day, a morning phone call instead of the chat over the kettle with a colleague. We listen to each others ups and downs, proof read work, share ideas, refer clients, eat Chinese, check the other hasn't hit the 'snooze' button once too often, laugh, cry. Cry some more! Then laugh about it....

She is one of only three 'real' people who has ever read my blog. So, Tash, thank you for everything.

To friendship, lives lived differently and the future.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Exhausted. Head and heart.

I'm shattered after the fortnight from hell.

Huge work deadlines, continuing saga of the sister's grumpy boyfriend impacting the rest of the family now and has us arguing rather than supporting each other. The exhausted me hasn't helped the situation at all and compounds all my fears and insecurities.

Big day today in getting work moved forward, presentations etc. I feel like I've been on some crazy job interview. The rational me knows I'm good at what I do. The tired emotional me feels like a fraud and is terrified of everything falling to pieces. Doubting myself and my abilities.

Even the fun stuff feels like hard work and I'm longing for the security of having an employer whilst knowing the freedom of the freelance life makes me happier.

I can't think straight or take an objective view. It all feels like it's my fault (whatever 'it' is), that I'm not good enough. The devil on my shoulder is shouting way louder than the angel can compete with.

I know it will pass. I know it will be OK. But tonight? I'm not OK. Maybe I just need to write it out of my system.

Monday, 15 March 2010

UK vs US Dating Etiquette continued.....

Well, I'm off out o a date with a second man in less than a month. This is a whole new thing for me - just trying and testing out different models! Seems I am learning from our American cousins.

It all feels very un-British, but why not? I usually take these things far more seriously but it appears that there's something in the air at the moment.

Maybe I need to develop some kind of scoring system....ooh, what an awful thought!

Having said that, it's good to get out and meet new people, learn to say 'thank you' to compliments, enjoy different conversation and challenge myself a little and discover that there are some good people out there.

Maybe the Americans have got it sussed after all....ask me on Thursday! Candidate 2 – bald human rights lawyer. Excellent.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Faces and optical illusions

Kim's recent post Are you scared of your face? has got me reflecting on my own visage, image, whatever. I have been following the comments with interest and there is huge variation in responses; some realistic and accepting, some unsure and self conscious, some curious and so on.

The years are written on my face. I know this. There are lines beginning to make themselves more present, creases of laughter and frowns. Which is more recognised in my face by the rest of the world?

When I look in the mirror I see the scar from a broken nose, the drier skin and beginning to age neck, eyes that are searching for signs of hope or beauty and instead wondering what was there before.

Sometimes, rarely, I catch myself in the mirror and think 'You look ok. Smile.'

Photographs show me 'me', but this is not who I see. I see the little untidy girl who cannot smile properly because of once crooked and damaged teeth. I see a little girl who wanted to be pretty and knows she is not.

I have no idea how others see me, would I want to know? Yes, perhaps I would.

I would like to understand how I appear to others. I would like to see me as I am. I would like an image of me that I see as real and true of both the physical and emotional, and perhaps celebrates. I would like to find the joy and depth in my face.

Can I, will I? Can any of us?

A day when the worms are winning....

Today is not a good day. An early morning counselling session has left me struggling.

Over the past few weeks we've been reviewing everything from the beginning, in order to figure what still needs to be faced, head on, no putting it off, plan of action required.

I've looked at the lists, heard words that I wrote at the beginning and I know that I've moved on from. I recognise them but feel differently now. I've achieved a huge amount.'s 'to do' list is hard. It's the stuff that has held me back always, and will be the hardest to confront.

It reminds of my greatest fears.

It's a day when I feel that I deserve nothing and that I know that I don't know how to accept kindness or love. A day that I will look at anyone who's offering their support and think that they are are mad.

I am sad and scared.

It's the stuff that I'm scared to dream about or want for my future, because it all feels so very far away and I know how much work I have to do to get there. I will do it.

Today I am glad I'm here on my own because I suspect if someone said the wrong thing, tried to be too nice to me or told me how to feel, or pressed an old button I would probably push them away, cry or scream.

It's a day when someone could easily be a target for all my hurt, anger and fear. It's a day when I all really need is a hug and to be listened to and to feel safe.

It's a day when someone would have to be hugely patient, and see past the ugly words and know that they are looking at a hurt little girl.

It's a day when I must do this for myself.

I have too much work to do and I can't concentrate. I will try. I must.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Uk vs US - Dating Dos and Don'ts.....

Being a single 30 something girl can be an interesting exercise at times! What I've been wondering though is if our American cousins have a much healthier attitude to the whole dating game than we Brits do?

It seems normal in the US to date more than one person at a time until a situation becomes exclusive, but the idea of doing the same here seems inappropriate and a big cultural difference. Guys don't just ask girls out as a routine thing. If we were seeing more than one person at a time, it would be slightly frowned upon. However, I think there has to be a benefit to this.

It would stop us getting to hung up on one person until we knew them better, and then a decision could be made before leaping into exclusivity. The idea of seeing multiple men would give choice, balance and perspective. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves and others, following rules that often don't make much sense but are part of the 'etiquette'. There will always be an expectation of exclusivity without even considering if that's what we want, and how many opportunuties are missed because we're less honest, forward and open to exploring the options? What can we learn from our cousins across the pond? What are the pros and cons? Is one way easier than another? I don't know.

I think it'll always be a challenge and a gamble no matter the geography.

Friday, 26 February 2010

An Accidental Thief?

Yesterday evening I went to the supermarket to shop for tonight's dinner party. I was starving! Shopping on an empty stomach is never a good thing.

As I wandered past the deli counter, I spotted the macaroni pies and ordered one.

The macaroni pie is a strange Scottish delicacy. Even more weirdly, it seems the that Trinidadians eat a variation of them too. For those of you who've never heard of this wonderful creation, I thought a picture might be useful, but they're essentially macaroni cheese in pastry. They're also a terrible reflection on our nation's diet....

Anyway, I was so hungry I thought 'I'll just east this now and scan the label when I get to the check out'. The thing is, I can't remember if I put the bag and label in with all my other shopping when I reached the till. If I didn't, where did it go? Did the cashier scan it and bin the wrapper? It certainly didn't come home with me and I didn't keep the receipt. Perhaps I paid, perhaps I didn't.

If I didn't, do I feel guilty for underpaying an international corporation whose pockets I line every week? Part of me does, morally it is wrong. Then I think, with a global turnover of figures so large they are beyond comprehension, I don't think the shareholders will miss 75p.....

They probably don't even know the macaroni pie exists!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Boys, nerves and outings


I have a date tomorrow night.

I am nervous and excited . As nervous and excited as I was in preparation for the first of these such outings, probably about twenty years ago? In those days the thought of holding hands in the cinema, the thrill of a sneaky cigarette and a good night kiss could have my mind racing for days.

Still, I am wondering what we'll talk about, what I will wear, will he like me?

This time, however, it'll be red wine, dinner, civilised chat and the rose tinted glasses have been long ago discarded. I think the thing the most makes me nervous is my uncanny knack of choosing inappropriate or unsuitable men. How do I spot those red flags before I find myself in another situation that's all wrong for me, or accept it could be right?


Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Letting go of the old list

When I was in my teens, choosing subjects at school, I began to imagine what my life would be. How on earth was I to know whether I wanted to be a doctor, a hairdresser or a plumber when I knew very little of the world beyond my little all girls school?

But there we go. We are expected to be able to predict what will make us happy in the future and set ourselves a course through life. It's a bit like sticking a pin in a map.

Somewhere along the way a plan emerged that looked something like this....

Leave school

Go to University

Work for a while, and achieve some things

Get married at 30

Kids at 35

I achieved the first two, but dropped out of an architecture degree at 20 and had to start another course. Not going to uni was not considered to be an option, and my mother enrolled me in my second degree course.

The third is a work in progress, and I have done well so far. My own business, a professional qualification, work that makes a difference, much satisfaction – all in a career I didn't even know existed ten years ago. I started out in the art world, lost my job in a company takeover and changed tack completely but it's worked out well.

And the last two? Who knows if those things will ever happen for me?

The nice thing about reaching the upper age limit on my list is that it can now be discarded. It's never been a rigid thing but has somehow lurked in the back of my mind over the years. Until recently, I had never considered what I was going to do past 35 or if I didn't have kids. I still don't know.

What I do know is that I can just get on with living my life without conforming to any agenda that was expected of me, I've been nagged about it often and it has made me feel like a failure on occasion. My mother and society have the ability to make a girl feel rotten about her status in the world. I know I can ignore it, but if someone asks you often enough about your lack of husband or passes opinion frequently, some of the doubts will sink in.

I will move onwards, upwards with a world of the unknown in front of me.

PS Although I made to art college, albeit on the compromise of a 'sensible career' path, all I ever really wanted do was paint and make things. Perhaps one day I will upholster furniture and give up my laptop.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Electronic Etiquette

Events of the past couple of days have taken from me a decision I needed to think over, ticks No 4 off the 'to do list'

Very sadly the conversation about a possible end of a friendship has been conducted by instant messaging and email. Forums in which tone and understanding will always be lost to a significant degree. Frustratingly my request for 'space' was translated as 'do not contact me again', not only has this prompted hasty and unnecessary responses, and a simple request has been disrespected but it also means that any kind of meaningful conversation has been robbed from the situation. The use of the medium has wasted an opportunity for understanding and mutual respect leaving behind instead a shattered friendship, anger and poorly chosen words.

I love the internet, and facebook, blogging and the like but will it ever been acceptable to adopt these mediums as a replacement for common courtesy and face to face interaction? I don't think so. Sometimes there are messages that just cannot be conveyed electronically. People need to see and feel words from a real human being. There is no substitute.

Ending a friendship by email is vile, cowardly, wasteful and bad manners.

I have just left it be, because a war of electronic words will only result in two people vying for control and trying to be 'right', rather than actually listening with care in a way that compromise, or appreciation is possible. I was daft to engage in electronic comms in the first place, but I will not be complicit in engaging in this damaging game any further.

If I ever get to a place where I don't have the courtesy or guts to face my demons face to face, and I deliver a denouement by text or email, shoot me.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Bad Dreams

Today I am unravelled a bit.

I am distracted by a situation I know I need to make a decision about. I have no clue what I truly want (or am afraid to admit it to myself), or even if I have to make a whole decision now when I could perhaps just throw my thoughts out there see what comes back.

I am so used to pleasing people that I don't know what I want. I know I need not to do what will please someone else, but look after me – it's just not so easy to do.

My dreams are plagued by strangeness, a manifestation of my addled brain disturbing my sleep. Last night's featured an overnight stay in a grand country house hotel for a wedding. I was with lots of friends, and my very grand bedroom (when they were all stuck in tiny turret rooms) was crawling with spiders which initially looked like they were part of the carpet's design. Horrid. I hate spiders.

Action or inaction, or even half an action? I can't move. I am frozen by it.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Another birthday

Well, where did another year go? It's been an eventful one, or has it? The year before was hell. This past one has at least not presented too many challenges in comparison.

I guess the biggest thing has been taking voluntary redundancy. Ten days from being told my job going was a possibility, to walking out with y head held high and on my terms. Very sad to leave an organisation I loved, not so sad to leave behind a boss of the very worst sort. Two months later, my own consultancy business was up and running with clients, an accountant and everything! Not bad at all.

Changing my way of working has been great. More space in my day, no one to answer to, picking and choosing projects. Relaxed, slower, satisfying. I've not got it completely sussed yet but I'll get there. I like my new 'portfolio career'. Self discipline and procrastination do need some tackling though.

Last night I went out for dinner with eight friends/family, nice cafe bar in the east end with an acoustic music night. Lots of laughing and chat. I'm glad my sister organised it because left to my own devices I would let my birthday pass without a word. I'm embarrassed by the fuss.

I am grateful for my friends and glad we could share this meal together, and glad that they want to make a fuss of me even if I don't want to make a fuss of myself.

I wonder who and what the next year will bring.

PS I am none of these people but I loved seeing my friends laugh and smile – I can't take credit for the storytelling that's amused them so much either but it was all lovely.