#atinylife overout

I’ve been writing a weekly blog for almost six years now.

Crikey.

A lot has changed. Two of my kids came out as trans. We moved house. I got two new jobs. The kids have been at four schools, between the two of them. We have tadpoles now.

And I think now is a good time to let weekly blogging go.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to find time to write even 140 words a week, and I’m fairly sure that, like in life, I have started to repeat myself.

I know a lot of people read this blog, and I am so, so grateful to everyone who has ever taken the time to read my tiny thoughts. I will keep this area live for writing news and occasional blog posts.

But for now – tiny over, and tiny out.

#atinylife good day

The sun came out and

we were allowed to have people over in the garden and

they could be from another local authority area and

I made gluten free vegan brownies and

the kids played with nerf guns and

I hate toy guns and

I didn’t care and

I made tea and

Mr HB made coffee and

we bitched about stuff and

we did the crossword together and

we laughed and

we looked at the tadpoles and

the tadpoles are getting bigger and

they are moving around more too and

kids all played really well together and

later on we went down to the river and

it is really beautiful here and

today it is cloudy again and

I feel tired but it’s the good sort of tired and

I am so lucky to have had such a lovely day.

#atinylife muddle-through

Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow…

My sister Becky quoted this line (on Zoom, of course. Where else do we talk these days?) as ‘very Christmas 2020.’

Some of us muddled-through before this year: I myself started muddling-through around 2004.

The festive season can become rigid: we always go to this house, we always eat this meal with these people, we watch this film, listen to this music. I’m so sorry if your set pieces are not possible this year.

Maybe we can use this time to think about our Christmas days. Perhaps we’ll go back to our set pieces next year, joyfully. Perhaps we’ll make new traditions that serve us better.

Meanwhile, as an official muddle-representative, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new muddlers, est. 2020.

tinylife will be back on 17 January.

#atinylife bubble

Bubbles used to be such a happy word. I remember (being far too old for them, but still) blowing hundreds down the streets of St Andrews as a teenager, watching the smiles of baffled shoppers as they floated past, light on the wind and rainbow-sphered.

Later, it was all about how terrible it is to be in our very own social media bubbles, our echo chambers. I’ve always been a big fan of them, myself. I feel no need to emerge from my social media comfort zone and listen to the views of people who say my children don’t exist.

Now it’s bubbles again for Christmas: three families for five days. Who gets to be in your bubble? Who needs to be kept outside for their own safety?

I never thought of a bubble as something with a lock.

#atinylife wordsmatter

Words matter.

Bit of an obvious start for a writer, I know.

And sure, Biden isn’t a UK president elect, Nor is Harris our future vice-president. So why did I watch both of their acceptance speeches and cry?

I found the transcripts online – these aren’t off-the-cuff remarks, these are crafted works of oral history. And I thought if there is a word in these speeches, it’s there because it is deliberate, chosen. But I’m scrolling through and there was a word Biden used, over and over, that isn’t in the draft.

Folks.

Yeah, maybe it’s just how Biden talks. But it is one of the best ways to describe a group of people, because it doesn’t leave anyone out.

Words matter. The words you choose, matter.

They tell people who you include, and who you are happy to leave out.

#atinylife justmycat

When it rains, the cat is always outraged.

He comes into the office, where I am working, and meows loudly at me. At first I wonder whether he has been fed (of course he has been fed), and then I stroke him and realise he’s been out in the rain again. Oh dear.

Up he jumps onto the desk. I make sure he stays on Mr HB’s side with his muddy paws. After prowling around a bit so that I know he’s there, it’s onto some serious washing, using his teeth to pull the dirt from his claws, licking his paws to wash his face, fluffing back up into a dry cat. Brown prints all over the song lyrics he’s lying on, eyes still wide and angry, twisting his tummy up for a stroke.

That’s all really. Just – my cat.

#atinylife Hallowe’en 40

All Hallow’s

windy – wild

pumpkins flicker

candlelit food

window ghost

song sung

Devil banished

painted face

cardboard knife

apple tooth-marked

half-moon doughnut

wardrobe-squeezed sardines

lights off

let’s hide

found you

found me

full moon

veil thinned

spirits chased

light brought

#atinylife the other stuff

In between the published works –

the novel that did OK

a story in that collection put together by MA students,

a poem here, a poem there

the joy of a short-listing

the folder of ‘no longer on submission’ scribblings

there is the ‘other’ stuff.

I couldn’t fit it all into the bookshelf:

hours spent tinkering with broken friends, instead of broken sentences;

days spent with Netflix, instead of cutting, instead of copy-pasting;

weeks spent holding the cat, instead of the pen

piggy-bank empty and smashed. All spent.

the other stuff

Tears leaking from the hot water tank

shredded text messages used for mouse nests

reams of progress stacked, dormant

still in their polythene. Sterile blank pages.

Where is all the work I could have done

if other people had been

kind? accepting? loyal?

had trusted my life had to be lived this way?

 

 

 

 

#atinylife countdown

The date sits at the end of a finite line

visible now, one turn of the calendar,

three more changes of plan, at least,

eight thousand emails between

me and a solicitor who works from home.

 

I get a new jar of Marmite

huge, the usual one but ballooned.

And I think ‘I’ll still have this when we move,

I’ll be eating this Marmite at this table

in our new kitchen,’

with the trees outside

and the rotavated soil of the garden ploughed up like

a life packed into boxes

a glut of lists.

countdown

 

I don’t know how many more

early risings.

Fuel is adrenaline sourced:

instead of sleep, I spread out maps

containing our new house

on the table at 3am,

tracing burns and reservoirs,

forests,

roads with

living beginnings,

and dead ends.

tinylife will be back in September.

#atinylife Lockdown Pages²

Lockdown Pages (2)Lockdown Day 30.

‘Cat is very keen on being on my notebook…

Apparently it’s International Stationery Day today, perhaps I should buy something?’

Lockdown Day 34

‘Dr Reid said I shouldn’t take more than 10 sumitriptan a month … cue headache that put me to bed by lunchtime and lifted at 11pm ish.

OMG my rose is going to bud.’

Lockdown Day 38

‘kids and I went on the long bike run. I managed to fall off my bike just out of the path of an oncoming lorry…sore and a fright but no harm done and was v brave for kids. The lorry would possibly have stopped, he nearly pulled in to check I was OK, bless him.’

Lockdown Day 42

‘Sank a bottle of Prosecco last night. Crikey. Certainly need to NOT do that every day.’

Lockdown Day 43

‘Cat is all over my notebook.’