Being Someone Else

fog.bmp

This week I’ve had a series of dates, dancing till dawn with Insomnia, Lady of the long, long night, followed by early morning travels through the Cheltenham Races traffic, and fog as thick as snot.  I have been constantly driving into an abyss.  A white wall and them I’m in it; a white wall and then I’m in it.  Perhaps, it’s a metaphor for raising teenagers.  After an hour or so, there was something akin to snow blindness – fog myopia, maybe. At one point, I saw a woolly mammoth before it morphed into a cluster of trees. Of course, trees. Why would a mammoth be roaming rural Gloucestershire in 2014? Fog steals time, though, and sound, and place. I could have been anywhere, could have fallen through to somewhere else. Been someone else.

I’m thinking about this at the moment, being someone else. I began this blog as the Great Procrastinator. It was a persona, something for me to hide behind because this modern need to put everything out there repulsed and terrified me. It hasn’t worked. Sometimes I don’t like the Great Procrastinator’s tone, or the fact that she’s talking about domestic minutiae when there is a world of trouble going on out there, and mainly because I have put my insecurity and vulnerability out there anyway, albeit predominantly to purveyors of dubious pharmaceuticals and faux designer baggage.

I’m not sure what the point of this rambling is. Just tired, I think.  Insomnia is a demanding mistress.

Today, while fog still hung about in vast drifts, the sun came out; a disc, whiter somehow than the white sky; more perfectly round than the moon; a colossal sequin behind the mists, waste product of a giant’s craft project.

Is it still January?

How long is this month?

I have discovered that the very day I last posted on here is described as ‘Blue Monday’ due to Christmas-heavy credit card bills arriving and the firmness of New Year’s resolutions wilting.

Unable to do what those well-to-do teenagers did – run off to a Caribbean 5 star Paradise – I have leapt (crawled) into action (slow motion movement) since then.  I’ve signed up for an online writing course (Children and YA) to motivate myself, and have sent off a couple of small pieces of writing.

Am now over thinking and under writing, but as they say, things can only get better…the only way is up …anything is possible.

up

 

 

 

January

January is not going to plan.  Usually, it is a great writing month but this year I am in a heightened state of procrastination so epic that house cleaning has actually occurred.  It’s not good.  Not good at all.

Of course, there is still all the cat stuff going on, not to mention parenting through the teen angst, which is hard as I feel like a thirteen year old myself a lot of the time. I still cannot type the without typing teh.  Why did I think 2014 was going to be any different?  It’s not like all the crap wipes itself out on 31st December and life resets itself to a perfect state at 12.01 a.m. on January 1st.

My procrastinatory tendencies are driving me madder than usual because I have the perfect motivation to write. I have a load of half finished stuff courtesy of NaNoWriMo and Writing Events Bath workshops, plus I have been placed first in a short story competition! Details to follow.

 

 

Purrcrastination

If November was the month of writing, December was the month of the c word.  Cats.

Distraction

Distraction

I never had pets when I was a child, never really liked animals at all. Then the offspring came along and so did pester power. First off, it was guinea pigs. Eventually, I caved in for the elder one’s ninth birthday.  She was overwhelmed.  I think I had convinced her I was never giving in and when I did, it threw her.  Needless to say, I found myself with extra mouths to feed and chores to do, cleaning out cages whatever the weather.  Remarkable the amount of poo a Cavia porcellus can produce, let alone two.

Some years later, the hardy creatures were still going strong, when the younger of my offspring began a determined campaign for a dwarf hamster. I Googled, as you do, saw the words “life span 12 to 18 months” and thought, why not? I elicited promises, indeed a signed contract, that I would not be involved in cleaning out etc. Off we went to the pet shop where a nice young man persuaded us that one tiny hamster would be lonely in its psychedelic plastic cage all by itself. So, Offspring number two ended up with a pair called Salt and Pepper.  Offspring number one, took custody of Pebble, deciding against a room mate for her as the only remaining dwarf hamster at the pet shop had the red red eyes of the devil.

They settled in. The kids could keep them in their rooms. Salt was minute, half the size of Pepper but madly active. In retrospect, I think she was channelling Sarah Connor.  She trained vigorously all hours of the night and day; doing pull-ups and monkey barring her away across the ceiling of the cage.

One night I was awoken by the most dreadful screaming.  Rushing to my daughter’s bedroom I found Pepper with her paws in the air, defending herself in alarmingly human fashion against a vicious attack by the diminutive Salt.

I duly Googled again and found contrary to the advice given, it is not a good idea to keep dwarf hamsters in a cage together.  Apparently, if they don’t get on, they will, and I quote, “fight to the death.”

What has all this to do with December being the month of Cats? Just trying to show that I really am not an animal person. I honestly am not a mad old cat woman. But living as we do in the countryside we are surrounded by rodents – and not just the ones we have spent good money on. Yes, I do see the irony. Mice inhabit the loft and scamper about in the spaces between good old stone and modern plaster board. Someone mentioned getting a cat – just a whiff of it, they hinted, would keep the mice away. The Offspring latched straight on to this idea – drawing up a contract of their own, listing how good they were going to be and all the helpful things they would be doing if only, if only, we got a kitten.

After a sleepless night listening to what sounded like a pirate dragging his peg leg round the roof space but was, in fact, a poor mouse with its leg cruelly trapped by an inefficient “little nipper”, the I.T. director uttered the words: We’ll have to get a cat.  

This, in earshot of the offspring. Well, they were two rooms away but the little bleeders have excellent hearing when it comes to things they want and not when it comes to me “reminding” them about piano practice etc. So, the deal was done and a little ginger kitten, which we named Bob Marley for no particular reason, came to live with us.

And it turned out I did like animals after all, or cats anyway, because they’re sweet to you. When you enter the room, they come up and rub their heads on your ankles and miaow and they look at you like they love you, even if really it’s just that you have thumbs and can open a packet of food. The Guinea Pigs ran away from me every single day when I brought them their food or pulled the rain cover over them. Ungrateful little…

Cats sleep a lot. They purr so you know they are happy. They’re very private about their toilette, unlike guinea pigs who on occasion eat their own and/or others’ droppings.

Resistance was fairly non-existent, then, when pressure for another cat began, and so we decided to get a kitten for Christmas, which meant week one of December was taken up with finding one.  Talk about procrastination… just looking at kitten pics online is distracting for one thing, but then actually trying to get to see one – it was impossible. As soon as an ad appeared, I’d contact the seller, but the kittens would all have new homes already and prices were going up and up as December went on.  I finally found one who had been let down by someone else.

I thought I’d better get Bob checked out by the vet. He’d been a bit lethargic, even by a cat’s standards and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t harbouring anything infectious. He was severely anaemic and no one really knew what was going on so the rest of the month involved endless vet visits, hospitalisations, conversations and brain meanderings about whether treatment was the right thing to do given he was just a cat.  Very hard.  He rallied, he faded, he rallied again, still with us, but not sure for how long, and in the meantime he has had to contend with the madness of Winnie, the crazy tortoiseshell whirlwind who bites and scratches indiscriminately and rarely seems to sleep. She adores Bob, and will run up to kiss him before swatting him round the head.  I could watch them for hours and not get a thing done…

Bob and Winnie

Bob and Winnie

 

Excuses, excuses

IMG_1032

No submissions in August. Not a word written. No submissions so far in September, although we are only half way through, and September is a good month to start afresh.

There were some practical reasons for the disruption – those anti-writing gremlins still hanging around, of course, plus a PAID job and a transfer to secondary school crisis, followed by the summer holidays.

Still, when I look at it honestly – the job was only 16 hours a week, the secondary school issue was resolved within a fortnight (two phone calls, one meeting) and as for the summer holidays… Well, the offspring are at the stage where they don’t get out of bed before ten, and only then with much prompting-slash-vigorous hoovering right outside their bedroom doors. I gave up suggesting that handheld electronic devices might be discarded in favour of going outside in fresh air, to pursue some more wholesome activity. Sunlight causes the same reaction in teenagers as it does in vampires, apparently.

In other words, they are old enough to entertain themselves. The photo above is one result of leaving them to their own (ahem) devices and their dedication to sunshine avoiding, sofa surfing, apptastic days. In my youth, we would have had to physically paint the cat in psychedelic colours, take the photograph, (although, I fear the cat would have been long gone) and wait a week for Boots to develop the film; not just press a button – sorry, not even press a button – glide a lazy finger over the screen.

So no excuses on my part. I had some time to write, but I didn’t.

 

Pulling teeth, blood from a stone, words from my pen

It’s half term and my brain has decided to go on holiday, leaving my body here to deal with the rain, lethargy and a visit from the anti-writing gremlins. I can’t seem to get any words down.  Even my list, usually overflowing with things that will never get done, is lacking in vocab. Only two words on it, but written in a variety of styles, as if to encourage inspiration.

Blog Post

BLOG POST

Blog POST

****BLOg post***

BL… well, you get the idea.  If I could work out how to highlight it on here, I would.

In addition, there’s a weekly reminder in my phone that keeps pinging at me: BLOG POST. I’m determined not to be one of the seven gazillion bloggers who fail in the first few months, leaving their poor blogs sad and lonely. No readers is one thing, an AWOL writer, quite another.

So finally, today at 3.30, I dragged myself to the computer.  My usual warm up routine followed: checking emails and flicking through spotify.  For some reason I was drawn to the music of my (later) youth.  I was creating a playlist including The Proclaimers and The Beautiful South when my offspring lolloped in.

Much eye rolling about my musical taste ensued.  Then, further unasked for distraction. It was suggested that I try out some bands of the up-to-date variety.  DaftPunk (Who?) Currently number one, apparently.  Biffy Clyro – not a female country singer as I had assumed with a name like that, but a Scottish guitar band.  Think they have had a go with that pen name generator.

Delightful as this quality time was, 4.30 pm approached and I suggested that due to the late hour, offspring might like to commence the day’s revision.

Standard response received: “Its not my fault.”

Of course, I know that nothing is your fault when you are thirteen. No. Haywire hormones, overprotective parents and annoying teachers are to blame for everything.  I remember it well. Daftpunk aside, I’m not that much of an old fart.

“Anyway,” continued offspring, “you haven’t done any work today either.  Why don’t you stop listening to The Procrastinators and get on with some writing.”

Out of the mouths of teens…

It’s The Proclaimers,” I muttered and duly logged on to pull teeth, squeeze blood from a stone and finally get some words down.