Thursday, 10 April 2014

Baby brain... As if.

Disclaimer: I shall not be apologising for anything I write in this blog post. This is MY space and these are MY views. If you don't like them, please feel free to go and find another blog which has a different viewpoint (there are lots of them, I can recommend some if you wish). 

So last weekend I went back oop north to visit friends. I always have mixed feelings about returning to the-city-I-never-called-home. I lived there for over 11 years, it's a huge chunk of my life. Going back brings back some amazing memories (that's the bar I drank in many times with my best friends!!) and some awful ones (that's the restaurant M and I ate in just before he told me he was going to leave me). Yet what it brought me this time was new. It brought me babies. 

Obviously not ME. That would be bad and weird. But of the 5 close girlfriends I saw over that weekend, 3 are pregnant. And I have also recently found out that L-the-ex-best-friend-who-married-M's-brother is also pregnant. I wish her no ill will, I hope they are happy. But it's just such a huge contrast between that and where I am. 

I can remember with total clarity the moment when I realised I wasn't sure I ever want to have kids. M and I had been dating about 6 months and I knew I was head over heels in love with him but wasn't sure how he felt about me. We were having dinner at one of our favourite restaurants and out of nowhere, he said 'Babe... One day when we have a son, can we call him John after my dad?' Me 'er... #%*+\€$¥}>!!!!!!!' A feeling of total, unexpected panic started swirling around my brain.

Because of what I do I interact with children on a daily basis. It's the part of my job I find toughest. They're noisy and messy and smelly and before they can talk they're really frankly quite dull. 
The biggest factor though is how children would actually impact on my life. I am SELFISH. I like late nights and long lie ins and lazy Sunday mornings. I like being able to go to Asia for long trips, not spend a week in a cottage in Yorkshire (or worse, in a tent. After the Inca trail I swore blind I'd never sleep in a tent again. I intend to stick to that). 
I like drinking gin before spending the evening in the theatre. I like my shiny, glossy 1 bed Central London flat which is totally unsuited to a baby. Most of all I like the fact that after 10 years of studying and training to get to where I am in my career I'm finally financially stable and can afford to buy a new top or go out for dinner without stressing about it. Or in this context, without worrying if it'll mean I can't feed the baby this month.

Friends having babies is obviously wonderful for them. It goes without saying that I'm delighted for them. But it's weird when you realise how different your lives have become, that they're prepared to give up all that stuff for a tiny, dependant being and I'm just...not.

People keep telling me that that time will come, that I'll feel differently 'soon'. My manager at work says it all the time with a knowing smile on her face. I just smile politely back and say 'maybe'. Because actually, again doing what I do, I'm all too aware it might not be my decision anyway. I've never been pregnant, I might not even be able to get pregnant. But even if there's nothing medically wrong with me now... I turn 33 in 2 months exactly. By medical standards my ovaries are old and tired. They've been busy working for almost 20 years and soon it'll be time for them to start drawing their pension before finally stopping altogether.
At the moment, this concept doesn't actually bother me. If it never happens for me, that's fine. What I really hope doesn't happen, is that I'll feel like this for the next 5 years and then all of a sudden, BANG, the baby craving will hit me. And what if it's too late by then?? I have no answer to that one.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Sunscreen.

It's International Women's Day. And to celebrate that, the Any Other Woman  ladies asked for advice for the next generation of women.
I thought long and hard about what to write. So many thoughts flooded through my head. I have written divorce and bereavement to death. What else did I have? So I thought back to being 18, all those years ago. I remembered all that I thought I knew, and didn't know, about life. And I remembered this.
This song (poem? thing? call it what you will) was HUGE in the summer of 1999. If you were alive then, you will remember it (unless you were living under a rock). (And if you weren't alive then, what are you doing reading this?)
I left high school in the summer of 1999. I WAS the class of 99. And we thought this song was the bees knees. We thought it would give us all the wisdom we needed to get through our lives. It was even printed on the back cover of our yearbooks.
Well, nearly 15 years after leaving school, I can say that the Sunscreen song has not completely helped me avoid any pitfalls or sadness. I have learnt a lot of things myself. But the combination of it's advice and my own, I think, is a winner. At least for me.

http://anyotherwoman.com/2014/03/iwd2014-sunscreen/

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A letter to...

Yesterday the post on the fantastic Any Other Woman was about the Guardian series A Letter To, so I had a little browse. 

And I found this one.

I swear to God, it could have been written by me. 

M went on a date with someone else while we were still married, in the period when he told me he was moving out for a while because he needed a 'temporary break', before he had told me that it was over for good and we wouldn't be getting back together. I have no proof that he actually slept with anyone else though. Maybe others wouldn't see that as cheating. I do. 

This paragraph 'Three years ago, I decided I didn't want to turn into a bitter and vengeful person, so I've put a lot of work into trying to learn from this whole experience. I want to move on. I'm in a relationship now with a loving, honest and kind man. There are times when I feel like I can't trust him, yet he's never been untrustworthy. I realise that this is a legacy from you, a feeling I must shake off because it's unfair to him.' is exactly where I am right now. So true. The boy has thus far been remarkably tolerant despite my occasional episodes of letting-out-the-crazy. 

But despite all the bad, just as the end of the letter says, I feel like I just about retained my sanity and self respect at the end. Of that I am proud. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013 - year in review

I feel quite guilty writing this because I’m aware that for a lot of people 2013 has not been a good year. But I’m going to say it anyway because I want to. 2013 has been one of my BEST YEARS EVER.
I missed most of the UK winter (which I really don’t like. I’m sorry to all of those people who go on about clear crisp days. All I ever notice is wind, rain and cold, cold, cold) by flying out to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Saw some amazing stuff, met some amazing people, reminded myself that there is more to life than my petty little world (not that my petty little world isn’t incredibly important to me, but, you know, there’s MORE OUT THERE). More on that here.

I came home in early March and enjoyed the UK spring, drank (and made) lots of gin at the Ginstitute, caught up with my fantastic friends and met some new ones. Some of the best are the lovely AOWettes, with whom I did Race for Life. Yes, you read that right. 2013 is the Year I Ran. Having always sworn I ‘couldn’t run’, I started running in April, ran 5k in blazing heat in Richmond Park in June and in September actually completed 10k around Regent’s Park. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I spent July in South America. It was INTENSE. The animals, the jungle, the landscape. More here.

2013 was also the year I feel I finally started to 'get' social media. I was familiar with Facebook but 2013 saw me starting to use Twitter (with which I still have a love/hate relationship but I think it's now more love than hate), and best of all discovering a total OBSESSION with Instagram which I truly love. Thanks for putting up with my constant inane shots if you follow me there. 

August was wonderful. Lots of sunshine, eating, drinking, theatre and friends. Also lots of work, but ssh, we’re not going to focus on that.
In September my friend Saj sent me the unforgettable message ‘one of my school mates is divorced, cute and up for dating. He's an Oxford grad, did engineering but can hold a convo and is vv funny. Wanna know more?’ Yes, it seems that IS all it takes to impress me. We started emailing and met for the first time on 11th September. On a cold and rainy evening in Angel, it was a less momentous 9/11 than that which the Americans remember, but still pretty amazing for me.

My last big trip of the year was in late September, to enjoy sunshine and wonderful hospitality in Boston and New York with my cousins and their families. There were cousins, second cousins, cousins-in-law, you name it. And it was fantastic. On occasion, blood really is thicker than water. It was also a chance for a little bit of quality time with my dad, which is something I don’t always get enough of. We had a beautiful few days driving through the New England countryside to admire the fall colours in New Hampshire.




Since coming back in mid-October things have really been a blur, mainly wrapped up in working lots, eating and drinking lots and exercising less than I should have, some fantastic theatre, spending time with friends and, of course, with the new boy. I saw the year out on my balcony with prosecco, the fireworks over the London Eye and him. It was heaven.



(Was actually much better than this photo suggests, rubbish phone camera)

Happy 2014 to you all. I hope it is a happy, healthy and peaceful one. For me, I know it will be busy (work is already crazy) but will also bring some good things –hopefully trips to Sri Lanka, Paris, some more great theatre, more great times with friends. But really, if it is half as good as 2013 has been, I will have done all right.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Two years on.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram/Facebook etc will already know this, but please indulge me anyway. Two years ago today I wrote this:


And guess what, I was right. Nothing ever has been the same again. 

You find ways of getting on with life. You find ways of getting through. But at the end of the day, there's just always something missing. Something intangibly different.

I'm really not generally a 'woe-is-me' type person. Shit happens and you just have to get on with it. I just really really miss my mum. 

It feels a bit more acute these past few weeks because, well...all right. Some of you know there is, kind of, possibly, maybe a new boy on the scene. And it's very, very weird to me that I will never tell my mum I'm seeing someone. Not, you understand, because she'd be happy for me- she wouldn't. My mum was a great one for making her mind up about people and sticking to it come hell or high water. And certainly if I picked someone my judgement was bound to be flawed. She'd definitely think there was something wrong with him and would tell me not to bother. And it kind of bothers me now that no one is doing that. Everyone is insanely happy for me that I'm seeing someone who makes me smile. I need someone to tell me he's got fatal flaws and is probably going to break my heart.

This week, with no one to tell me that, I decided to try and prove it to myself. This is despite the fact that I have spent AGES trying not to 'let out the crazy' in front of him (a la Elliot Read in 'Scrubs'). I worked myself up into a state of panic and then texted him at midnight asking 'where are we going? What do you see this as?' (Yes really. Are you cringing for me? I am). Then I spent the night lying awake convincing myself I had ruined it all. I was frankly astonished to get a text from him the next morning pointing out that my text was quite full on (true) and that he didn't want to rush into anything (me neither) but he does really enjoy being with me. No, I don't know why either. 

Which is certainly the most stressful and roundabout way of achieving anything that there has ever been. I am truly my mother's daughter. Here's to you, Mum. You'd be proud. 







Photo taken at Mum's grave this morning. Via my Instagram. 

(For those who want to know more about the boy, don't worry, I fully intend to blog the whole crazy story so far, when I can figure out how to make it NOT sound entirely crazy...)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Preconceptions.

So let's do some backtracking. In January and February I was in Asia fulfilling a long held dream- to see Thailand, and the temples of Cambodia. I decided (because I'm basically a wimp) to join a group trip rather than DIYing it and after a bit of homework I went for a company called Intrepid. The trips they offered were numerous but the one I went for was called the Great Indochina Loop- 28 days travelling through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. 
You will note that there's a couple of countries there that weren't on my original wishlist. I knew very little about Vietnam except that they'd been in a war with America which had featured in 'Forrest Gump', good knowledge no?! About Laos I knew even less, in fact I'd barely even heard of it. I just thought since I was travelling all that way I might as well try and see as much as I could while I was there. 
And unbelievably (well actually probably quite believably) I enjoyed most of all the place I knew least about. Laos just blew my mind. It's such a tiny poor little country but it's so beautiful. We spent 2 days on a boat sailing down the Mekong river, between mountains and herds of water buffalo, passing villages where the children waved to us as we went by, watching the sun sparkling off the flecks of fool's gold in the water and turning stunning colours as it set.






At the end of those 2 days we arrived into Luang Prabang. It's a World Heritage city and if any city can make you understand why it should be a World Heritage city then Luang Prabang is it. The most impressive temple is Wat Xieng Thong which is covered in bright and incredibly detailed animal mosaics, but the museum, the palace and several of the other temples are equally impressive. I climbed to the top of Mount Phousi and watched people setting caged songbirds free to bring them good karma (them, not the birds, I think the birds' bad karma was ending up in the cages in the first place). 






Cambodia has such a tragic history that at first you get absorbed in it and fail to notice it's beauty. I spent a long time staring at the photos of the child soldiers in Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge genocide prison in Phnom Penh. How could anyone be so evil as to train children to kill?? Then we went to Choeung Ek the killing fields and it was even worse. There was a tree which they killed babies against by smashing their skulls against the trunk. Think about that for a second. 






I also read Loung Ung's 'First They Killed My Father' while we travelled through the area and her writing about being a young child when her entire life changed nearly broke my heart, not to mention how fast she had to grow up. Read it, if you haven't. Just read it. 
I had just about consigned Cambodia to the list of 'places with a tragic history but little to appeal today' on my list (like the Berlin Wall, for example- now I'm sure the rest of Berlin is lovely but the bit where you go to visit the museum and see the old bit of the wall they've preserved definitely is not- well it wasn't when I briefly went to Berlin in 2007 anyway). And then we got to Sambor Prei Kuk. 




A spectacular complex of temples which have been almost swallowed up into the jungle. The perfect fusion of history and nature.

And then we got to Angkor Wat. And I lost all my words. 








And this is why I travel. It's to remind me that whatever my preconceived notions, they're probably wrong. Whatever I thought my limits were, I can push them. And never, ever forget how much things can surprise you. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Summer in the city.

I'm aware that my posts probably sound quite negative a lot of the time. That's because a lot of the stuff I want to blog about is difficult stuff. But actually, I mostly quite enjoy my life. Never more so than August. I love the summer and despite missing the heat wave of July to go and shiver in a tent in Peru (it got down to -4C, people!!) I was still lucky enough to get home in time to enjoy some lovely sunshine and do some fantastic stuff with great people. Although most of this stuff is on my Instagram, I wanted to do a quick roundup here to look at when I get sad in the depths of winter (and I will, believe me I will) and remind me that there was sunshine and laughter...


Rainbow from my bedroom window my first night home from South America. Look at that sky. Just look at it. 


Later that same night. The view from the top of the Heron Tower. 


Gelato roses. Need I say more??


Galvin at Windows on Park Lane. 


Dinner on Southbank with friends. 


Seeing Nigel Kennedy at the proms. My utter utter god. 


Freud's famous couch at the Sigmund Freud museum. 


Raspberry ginger beer outside in the sun with one of my best friends. 


Laughter with the lovely Bex. 


Sushi and cocktails with my amazing best friends. 


Happiness is being in Drink Shop Do with the AOWettes. 


At Sadlers Wells theatre to watch the ballet. 


A date at the 'beach' on Southbank. 


Beautiful evening at the open air theatre in Regents Park to watch 'The Sound of Music'


Laughing at 'Punk Science' at the Science Museum late night opening. 


Walking home from work on a beautiful evening. 


Beautiful beautiful Cambridge. 


Completing the month by completing a 10k. One of my proudest ever achievements. 

Thanks for sticking with me. Next post will be less self congratulatory, I promise.