Coming Around Again.

Once upon a time – probably about ten years or so ago now – I had a blog on JournalHub or some such site called La Que Sabe. I wrote about my children, about my family, my father who was separating from his fourth wife, my friends, and generally treated it as my pottering about spot. I was very fond of it. And then their servers got hacked, or crashed and died, or, I don’t know, something and several years of writing disappeared into the ether. I don’t do backups because, really, who cares? It vanished and I thought that it probably was a fitting close to an odd part of my life.

I left blogging alone for a bit but, in time, came to miss it, and ventured to WordPress to hang for a couple of years. I’m a sporadic writer at the best of times as you can see from the back catalogue here, and the days of me posting regularly probably aren’t going to show up again any time soon. (Fair warning and all that jazz…) I gave up on LQS in 2014 because I really didn’t feel that I had anything new that was worth sharing, even with the very small number of people who ambled past occasionally. I abandoned it at the side of the road and left it to die, alone and neglected.

Towards the end of 2015, I got inspired to do something quite different. The notion of The Muddy Peacock blog popped into my head, fully formed, along with the knowledge that I wanted to be able to express a part of me that I keep largely hidden on a day to day basis, probably more out of habit than out of any fear of, well, anything really… I wanted to be able to talk about (ick!) my spiritual side, my (gack!) vulnerable side, my (oh really, do we have to do this?) vulnerable side but in the firm context of my daily life. I’m a Brit. My toes curl and my whole body cringes at the word ‘spirituality.’ I put my cynicism and sarcasm on as part of my daily wardrobe, and they’re very comfy indeed, thank you for asking. I had no e-courses to offer, and no ‘brand’ to sell; I just wanted to be able to explore the notion that, occasionally, one can have a deeply moving moment of joy while waiting at the checkout in Tesco and that, at other times, one can end up sitting in a supermarket car park not wanting to go home because there is just no strength left for cooking dinner or checking homework after a day of petty and pointless skirmishes in one’s place of work. I wanted to have time to dwell on the notion of meeting oneself for coffee for an hour each week, allowing an opportunity for reading, writing, or scrolling through the ‘Gram if that’s what was needed. I intended to broaden my focus to find the myriad things during a day that I can be really, deep down grateful for: it could be a really good cup of tea, or the light on my dog’s coat, my daughter’s curls, or my son’s deep brown eyes, or a text from a friend, or a really on point meme. The little things, as someone said, are what make up a life; a tumble of moments strung like beads on the necklace of your day. So, yeah, it was a great plan but it really didn’t happen the way I wanted it to; I lost focus, I had too many other things going on and, ironically, last year was the perfect time to look for the little things given that it was, by most people’s standards, fairly shit. So, all things considered, I failed that test. It was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t make TMP look the way I wanted it to look. Mainly, though, it was a good idea with insufficient planning and follow through. (Why, yes, it does sound like my life, now that you come to mention it. However did you guess?) When the site came up for renewal last December time, I let it go.

So the other day, I was logging into my employer’s website, which is also WordPress based, and unthinkingly put in my email address rather than my work details. I do this a lot – passwords/email addresses are a pain and I was doing three things at once. Lo and behold! The back end of LQS appeared before my eyes. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who just snickered like a ten year old boy reading that…) I hadn’t thought about it in three years or thereabouts but it was still there. And I was so happy to see it that I paid the fee on autopilot without pausing to think whether or not I actually wanted to resurrect the old dear. And that is how, my darlings, we find ourselves here, surrounded by cobwebs, and dust, and the overall aura of neglect. Aren’t you glad you came? Ssh. It’s OK. I can patch it up in no time, I promise. I had been thinking about it – not LQS specifically but the final somewhere, the forever blog as Jo put it recently. I had been thinking of the sea, actually, but someone else had laid claim to theseabetween.com which was the closest to what felt correct. So perhaps this will be just fine as it is.

It’s entirely in character: the main reason that I’m pootling about here this evening is the fact that I’m supposed to be writing something that I’ll actually get paid for. So, natch, procrastination is the way forward. And the deadline’s tomorrow but hey, what’s the worst that could happen, right?  The important thing is to get started and this, encore une fois, is what I’m about.*

 

  • You do remember that, don’t you, Encore Une Fois? The terrible video, the proper 90s danciness of it. Yes, it was awful but I kind of love it anyway.

 

Back From The Brink…?

So, last Tuesday I went back to work. Back into an office for the first time in over seven months. And, overall, I think it will be OK, maybe even better than OK.  I’m liking it so far, although I’m already starting to see what the politics might be within the company which is interesting. I will like it more when D and I can sort out our evening commute so that it isn’t taking us three quarters of an hour for what should be about twenty minutes. Still, that’s largely down to me because he has offered to take the bus and let me have the car. I’m not sure what would make me feel worse, though: feeling rubbish because he has to hang around for me after work or feeling rubbish because I have snaffled his car and he has to sit on stinky public transport. It would appear that the stinky public transport would get him home quicker but I still feel shifty about the car.

Anyway, yes, things are good overall. Until I look at the current list of things that we need to pay for or replace. It looks something like this:

My car needs to either be fixed or scrapped; the decision will be based upon the cost of the fixing. If it’s fixed, it will need to be taxed and NCT’ed which will be another four hundred Euros. My credit card bill needs to be kicked into shape and dragged back from the brink. The two hundred and fifty Euro electricity bill needs to be paid. (No, I have no idea how it’s anywhere near that high. It certainly isn’t usually.) The fridge needs to be replaced. We need a sofa or, at least, something to sit on. My pension needs to be restarted. We decided that we would use some money that Dave had in a special savings account to pay J’s play therapist the bulk of the money that we owed him because we felt that it wasn’t fair that he should be kept waiting and, more importantly, because we hope to soon be done with him – in the nicest possible way, of course. (This, bizarrely, is a huge load off my mind.) In the meantime, the figures swirl round and round in my head and, in all of this, I haven’t even taken the mortgage into consideration. Gah.

Today’s Achievements. (Which Is Now Yesterday.)

I would like to have the time to sit and write here properly but, for today at least, I don’t. As a result, I will make a quick list with the intention – oh, always the intentions! –  to come back to it later.

* Today, a nice man in a lorry delivered one point two tonnes of wood pellets to my house, bagged and on a pallet. I’d love to tell you I’m half way through moving them but I think it’s closer to about a third of the way. Thankfully, Dave has said he will help when he gets home. Which will be shortly. Hooray! Still, sheer bloody pig-headedness basic self respect means I have to get as much done as I can so that I know I haven’t left it all to him.

* After almost two years, it looks as if we are finally starting to wind things up with J and his play therapist. I have been of the opinion for some time that nothing useful was happening there any more. It now looks as if we might be done with it all by the end of next month. This will free up Friday nights and sixty-five euros a week. Yay, frankly. To be fair, the PT was talking about coming to a close last summer but J really didn’t seem ready to let go. Now, though, he seems to be in a better place with it and they are both aware that they have an end in sight and that they have to work towards this.

* We’re still no closer to finding out what on earth is going on with the apartment that Dave’s been sharing with his aunt. At the moment, his official moving out is dependent on her being offered accommodation elsewhere. This is slow because there is a mass of bureaucracy involved. Naturally, he does not want to leave anyone high and dry but it’s getting expensive to keep, essentially, two households running and I must admit that while I completely support his holding on until he can let go, it’s frazzling me a bit. There’s not a thing that we can do to influence matters one way or the other as she has been on the list for sheltered housing for several years and all these things naturally run at a snail’s pace. In some respects, it’s not bad timing because at least we know something has to happen before the end of July when, I believe, their current lease expires. Still… It’s money going out that can ill be afforded. It makes me cranky because it would make D’s life so much easier financially if he wasn’t also paying rent every month. It actually has nothing to do with me, and it doesn’t affect me financially at all. It’s just irksome to my twisted mentality that he’s paying rent on somewhere where he isn’t living.

* We now have proper broadband in the house. For the first time in many, many years, I can potter about on my laptop without having to deal with the frustrations of O2’s sucky signal. All hail UPC and the nice engineers who sorted it all out quickly and neatly with no fuss whatsoever.

* I went for an interview last Friday with a company who were looking for someone to work in their Sales Admin team and they offered me the job on Thursday. It’s not great money but the hours are nicer, it’s not a million miles away – back in Sandyford again – and the company seems like they’re growing while keeping a level of realism about their approach. I like that. The people who were at the interview were people I felt I would be happy to spend time with, which is always a bonus, and I’m really pleased that it’s worked out. I start on the first of May and I’m more excited than  thought I’d be at the prospect of going back to work. One thing is obviously the relief that comes from being able to go to the bank on Monday and say that I will soon be able to pay my mortgage again, but another is that I know I’m starting to sink into a rut at home. I love it, don’t get me wrong, and left to my own devices would be happy to do more of it, but I feel like it’s time to rejoin the world a bit.

* Today (being Saturday, the day after I started this) we got quite a lot done at home. We have abandoned the sofa to the boiler house where dogs can have full control over it. Fudge, A.K.A. Destructo Puppy, has chewed one arm almost completely to bits and it’s no longer fit for human purposes. Predictably, it’s going to be a while until I/we can afford to replace it – although I have been scanning the equivalents of Freecycle already, just in case – but we can make do with what we have for the time being. I was struck by a real gloom earlier; somehow got caught up in all the things we need to spend money on or to replace or whatever, and, daft as it may seem, felt quite desolate that I now live in a house without a sofa in the sitting room. But I realised this evening that it’s not all bad because it’s changed the way I see the room and it’s reminded me, however daft it might sound, not to get so hung up on how I think things ought to be, especially when so often it turns out that there’s a much better way for thing to be than I ever imagined. You might think that with the changes that have already taken place this year, I’d be a little bit more trusting of the way things are flowing. Apparently, you’d be not wholly correct. I think I’m getting better, though, and trusting more. I can see it all unfolding and I like what I see so far. It’s the obsessive need to hang on to every little last thing that’s causing me problems. Living with Dave is a good lesson for that, actually. For the most part, he’s really easy to live with nowadays. He’s considerate and helpful and we see most things the same way but occasionally, something small crops up and I have to remember that, while he’s really laid back about most things, I’m not living on my own with the kids any more and that, if this is going to work, I need to loosen my grip on the reins slightly. I’m lucky because, yet again, this is another lesson that’s being taught gently so far.

* Tomorrow, it’s the turn of the front garden and the spare room. The front garden because it’s being overrun with weeds – I think I could win awards for my dandelions – and the spare room because I think Dad’s coming to stay on Monday. Hopefully, the beautiful sunshine we had today will stick around so I can get yet more washing done and we can all enjoy working towards making this house an even nicer place to be. I like this working as a team business. It’s a really satisfying feeling. But for now, it’s bed time. Remind me to take some pictures too. There needs to be more pictures! G’night.

Of Insomnia And An Interview.

I surrendered to a power greater than myself yesterday and went to see the doctor. Three months of dire skin, two courses of antibiotics and the last two weeks of a cracked and peeling neck with skin so tight it hurt to turn my head proved to be too strong an incentive in the end. I thought he would give me more (potent) antibiotics but he grimaced and said, “We have no choice; we’ll have to go with steroids.” It’s years since I’ve had to take steroids for my skin. I had forgotten the two most important things about them (excluding the numerous possible side-effects that, frankly, would terrify most sane people.) These are as follows:

1) they’re magic;

2) everything hurts for the first forty-eight hours of taking them.

Dealing with the ‘magic’ part first, I took the first dose yesterday evening at about six o’clock. This morning I woke up with fresh, healing skin. The inflammation has gone down incredibly and my arms no longer glow in the dark. The ‘everything hurts’ part correlates nicely with one of the side effects of the type I’ve been given: insomnia. I got three hours broken sleep last night and I feel as if I’ve been run over by a steam roller. This is exacerbated by the fact that, because of the existing pain, I haven’t slept properly for two nights prior to this. Ugh. Also, because the cream I have to use is a type of immuno-suppressant wotsit to stop my skin freaking out quite so much which also makes it overly sensitive to heat or cold on top of the fact that fresh healing skin is always a little tender anyway, my neck is currently screaming at me.

In the face of all this, I had an interview this morning. I was a bit terrified, to be honest, because I’m not sure I’d hire someone who looks like I do right now! Having said that, I tidied myself up as best I could and I think it went really well. I am hoping that this one really comes through because, even though it’s only a six month contract to cover a maternity leave, it’s local and it’s working for a really interesting company which would keep me in the medical devices field that I liked so much. Moreover, the people working there seem to be intelligent and kind, and the sort of people I’d be dealing with would be end users and hospitals. Actually, I was so involved in all the talking that we did, I completely forgot to ask them about how much the salary would be. Oops. Anyway, fingers crossed that this goes positively. It’s something I’d genuinely like to do.

Thursday.

I have spent lots of this morning reworking my CV. They’re difficult things CV’s or, at least, I think they are. I thought they were meant to explain who you are and what you’re about and, more importantly yet, what you’ve done with your time to date, work-wise. This seems relevant. ‘Personal statements’ seem cringe-worthy and horrid and irrelevant. (I’m not in HR thankfully so I could be wrong about this.) Anyway, I’ve faffed about with it and have put things in bullet points – which apparently I needed to do – and tried, in short, to make it look cleaner and more efficient. The challenge of it all is that, predictably, I’m a bit crap at all this. When I’ve been reviewing CVs over the years, they’ve belonged (predominantly) to engineers and, trust me, in that instance, you’re just happy if you can make out the overall gist of the thing. (I know they know that spell checkers have been invented but does that mean they use them? Does it buggery.) The main thing I wanted to achieve was to cut out any extraneous waffle because I’m rather better at that than I am at writing what I really need to write. And really, I think the whole thing is a bit preposterous anyway. You can have the world’s shiniest and prettiest CV but it doesn’t mean that you can do the job, now does it? No. No it does not. But at least mine is now a little tidier, a bit less cluttered,  and will hopefully garner a bit more interest that it has to date.

Aside from that, there is little of note. Days amble past and I find that I am ambling with them rather than doing anything productive. This worries me slightly but then, to a certain extent, I feel that I’m never going to get these days again, and definitely not in this manner, so perhaps it would be better to flow with them in the long run. The truth is that, honestly, I’m not champing at the bit to get back into an office again. Part of me is revolted at the thought of it and the cessation of my morning walks with the dog and long baths with a book. I know that, in this as in many other cases, I will be fine once I get going but, presently, the getting going is sadly lacking. It’s confirmation of what I’ve always known: when left to my own devices, I tend to float in a comfortable sort of limbo; peaceful and absorbed in whatever has currently caught my fancy. At the moment, my fancy extends to walking my dog and feeding my family; throw in a few books and copious mugs of tea and all is well. However, Dave is talking about family holidays later this year and such things require funding. Given that we’ve never had a family holiday, I find I’m quite ambivalent about the whole thing but I’m prepared to give it a go if it turns out to be something he wants to do. It would certainly be nice to see somewhere different for a little while but, now that I am so settled in my house with my animals and children, the urge to wander has almost completely vanished. Well, except for the idea of leaving Ireland completely which has, I’m afraid to say, been rearing its head in recent weeks. Perhaps this is the sort of thing that occurs to a person when she has to much time on her hands? Or perhaps it’s just the incessant bad news on the radio these days? Or the raging incompetence of the Irish government and its ability to screw everyone over?

Still. For now we are here. And it’s nice.

“don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along listening to all the things you can’t hear and not bothering”
winnie the pooh

Of Employment, Or Lack Thereof.

When Evie was given the all clear by her consultant mid-way through December, it meant that she could return to normal and do all of the things that she loves doing: running, climbing, finding the myriad Most Likely Ways To Injure Oneself; all these are her natural fortes. Prior to this carte blanche being reinstated by the hospital, her school had said that, while they were happy to have her back in attendance as soon as she felt ready, they wanted me to supervise her at break times because the staff couldn’t be expected to do so. (A stance, by the way, that I have a complete understanding of and harbour no grudge about.) However, as a result of my eight trips  – to and from school in the morning, at little break, at lunch and at home time – it made job hunting a little precarious. For one thing, I couldn’t take anything on, even if I were offered it, when my days were so fractured. Interviews with recruitment companies had to be carefully scheduled. None of it was terribly conducive to finding actual, real, paid employment. It was a  bit of a bummer but it was also necessary and, thus, there was, and is, no point in griping.

Now, however, when my current account is over its overdraft limit and my credit card is maxed out and my savings account can just about manage with its last breath, to bring them both back into their respective boundaries before being utterly demolished, I have to focus on finding something that will pay the bills. (Literally.) At the moment, the children and I are being fed by the money that D gives me each month.*

When I finished up with my last employers, I really had no intention of being off work this long. At this point, it rather makes my brain ache to think I’ve been off for three and a half months. Had Evie’s surgery not arisen, it’s probable that I would have started something new in November and none of this would be an issue, or at least not to quite the same degree. At the moment, though, I’m fretful. I try not to be. I have always agreed with my dad whose one useful lesson to me was always that worrying is pointless. He always says that if you can do something to fix or alter a situation, you should go ahead and do it. If not, there’s bugger all point in moping about feeling awful because it neither changes things nor puts you in the right frame of mind to effect change for yourself. And this is from a man who has found himself in all manner of horrendous financial situations which would make mine look utterly insignificant. (Of course, this may be because  of the above advice, rather than prompting it!)

Anyway, I suppose the thing is that I wanted to put it down and admit it as a reality before I go back to being chirpy and positive and believing – and this part is also true – that something will show up and that we will be better than fine in the very near future.

So, having done that, I’m going to go and put some washing on and sweep the kitchen and hall floors. And I might, tomorrow, go and make an appointment with the bank to discuss the current troubles in paradise. That would, I think, be the grown up thing to do. Hmm.

*As an aside, I feel much less guilty about this than I did given his almost permanent residence here. After all, it’s feeding him too!

Of Leaving. (Written September 25th.)

I think I drove everyone mad last week because I kept saying, “it’s so strange” but, you know, it really was. And it really is. I had worked for my employers for over three years but it felt like a lot longer. A small number of people poisoned my time there, but, up until recently, I was able to focus on the people that I loved and respected and had fun with to the point where it still felt worthwhile. But then, as it often does with me, a point was reached where I could no longer accept the way things were being done or the attitudes that were held by people who should have been old enough to know better. I mulled it over for a while and, in the end, had to accept that job hunting while I was currently employed was just not a feasible option. Plus, I was so tired, permanently exhausted by a curdling atmosphere and the plummeting morale within the office. So I handed in my notice. I offered them until October 21st, but they chose go with the standard four weeks notice, and there is no one to replace me because they appear to have believed that if they put up an ad two weeks before I left, someone suitable would be bound to show up. Well, despite the dearth of jobs and the multitudinous ranks of job seekers, they received something like five CVs and only one of them looked promising enough to interview. Apparently, for reasons I am not privy to, the candidate was unsuccessful and so I await with interest the developments within what I, probably ludicrously, thought of as my service department.

The thing was that, as the days drew towards the finish line, I couldn’t quite believe what I had done. I don’t mean about the job, not at all. That’s just where you show up each day when you drag yourself out of bed and wrangle the morning into shape. The important thing was not where I showed up but who I showed up to. The faces that made me smile involuntarily, the voices on the phone through the course of the day that made my heart swell, the people who I feel so ridiculously protective of: I walked away from them.

I have friends who believe that walking away from something, giving up if you will, is Wrong. They will struggle through whatever trial they find themselves in, whether it be a book or a job or a college course, to the bitter end because they cannot bring themselves to give in. And it shows a remarkable will power, of course, and tenacity. I, on the other hand, think that life was not given to us to be a struggle. It wasn’t always meant to be a walk in the park but I suspect that this aspect of it – the walk in the park-ness – was always intended to be the predominant theme. I should also add, in the interests of honesty and so forth, that I am utterly lazy in many ways and, for me, the concept of an interminable struggle just seems too much like hard work to bother with. To which end I give up, and I don’t feel like I’ve let myself down if I choose to do so. That means if I don’t like the book by the third chapter, especially if I’ve tried it before, I will put it back on the shelf. If the film doesn’t fire my imagination, I will turn it off. If the job is sucking more life and self-respect out of me than I feel I have to spare, it’s time to do something else. My theory is, you see, that if I don’t like what’s in front of me then the chances are high that something else will come along fairly soon that I do like and that I will find engrossing, or at least sufficient. In the meantime, I can stop and admire the view and, depending on your perspective, it’s quite often staggeringly beautiful.