‘You manage your mental health so well!’
I suppose, if I did, I wouldn’t dwell on what was meant as a compliment,
and twist it into an accusation –
a positive equals a negative
a negative of the photograph
that other people see,
my perfect, tinylife.
My calm exterior, my social media cut and pastings: insta-wonderful.
She can’t possibly have mental health problems,
look at her – she’s onstage! Smiling!
Perhaps I tell people I’m a special snowflake
as a way to get attention or
Or I hold onto a former diagnosis
as something that makes me interesting,
marks me out,
gives me an intersectional identity.
I don’t ask to feel this way –
performing one day, then tears all the next –
I don’t ask for meditation and counselling and prescription after prescription.
I manage it well.
Yesterday, I made my first appearance at a Book Festival. I’ve not managed to visit many, even as a punter, but every time I have made it along to one, I’ve felt like I was among ‘my people.’
Our event, Books, Blogs and a Blether, comprised of myself, Joanne, who runs Portobello Book Blog, and fellow writer Natalie Fergie chatting blogs and writing. My favourite moment?When we asked everyone to share what they were reading with the person next to them, and the room exploded into a cacophony of book enthusiasm.
The idea of writing being a lonely profession isn’t new. But events like yesterday don’t just help me feel less alone. They make me feel supported by my network, new friends and readers. I even got some great feedback on the first Chapter of lucky draft 13 of Novel number 2.
It’s the little conversations I remember.
With Linda: ‘We’re such creatures of habit. The other day I said “but Anna, we squish our teabags!”’ Conversation, circa 1994.
With Anna: ‘I find it’s best to shake them off first, and then use the hand drier.’ Conversation, circa 2003.
At the time I can remember thinking ‘these are odd conversations. Words I won’t remember.’
But Linda lives at the end of a long road now, and Anna lives over the other side of the world. I see them a lot less than I drink tea or wash my hands somewhere with a drier. It sucks.
So every time I make a cup of tea, and squish my teabag, I’m glad to remember my friend Linda.
And every time I shake my hands before I dry them, I’m glad to remember my friend Anna.
The village has temporary traffic lights again.
As I wait on red, a tree in the graveyard jiggles. It’s almost a percussive movement – the bird bustles high above the lights.
In terms of travel, I’m neither a cutter or a thruster, so I’m not fussed. I’m happy queuing here, watching the bird traverse between the big house and the graveyard.
The whole road was closed, for the gas line. We had to drive round the villages up the back for weeks.
Then there were times that the snow made it difficult to pass through, walking or driving.
Last summer, the road from our village to the next town was shut at the other end.
Remembering a series of traffic curtailments grounds me here. In a good way! Being part of something. Including the mini-annoyances, the wonderful things, even this waiting.
Sometimes taking them off the screen feels almost masochistic.
Watching TV, or playing on a tablet, they are silent, biddable (as long as they don’t argue about turn-taking!). I can read, tidy, cook, without interruption. It is also the only way my two will relax: otherwise they are kind of feral.
Now they’re back at school – away from me sometimes – well, this weekend I was stricter. And you know when your kids do something, and you think ‘HA! Rookie Error. You have just proved me right?’ No? Just me?
I went through to the living room with the hoover, and the oldest
one was playing. The. Ukulele.
This child has not played a musical instrument without nagging since they started piano lessons.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to the backlash, but I will be removing screen time more often.
Scotch Pie in an Open Sky.
Early morning and the sound of birdsong.
Laundry. Laundry. More laundry.
Being ‘cool.’ But only by accident,
and preferring the home knitted jumper
to that designer one.
Enjoying Radio 6 until the kids start whining about it.
And no matter which
radio station we listen to – Mum is
not allowed to sing along.
Birds flying past on the school run.
‘You should totally learn this song. It would so suit your voice.’
Leaning on friends, gathering the kids,
spending time together to the exclusion of bedtime.
Getting tagged in the same photo over and over (like, love, haha).
Birds calling through the window as we put the kids to bed.
Falling asleep on the sofa after a long day,
craving the comfort food of childhood – a pie, not a cocktail.
Feet up – I’m peaking now!
There’s been a lot of debate about girls’ shoes lately.
The stereotypical names – “Dance Honey”, “Dolly Babe”
Their impractical flimsy nature which doesn’t allow for splashing, running, playing
Unlike the corresponding boys’ styles – “Long Jump”, “Harlem Racer”
Does it get better with ladies’ shoes?
I don’t want fashionable.
I want shoes I can wear for more than one season.
I don’t do heels. Ever. I want practical not painful.
I don’t want to pay £70 or more for something that falls apart after one summer.
I want shoes that don’t look like my granny’s, without costing a fortune.
Too much to ask? It seems so.
Men have it easy. Everything is strong, practical, functional.
There’s too much choice, yet not enough.
I don’t fit the stereotype – and I hate shoe shopping!
While we’re on the subject, I don’t do handbags either…..