Tuesday, May 28, 2013

...Press 5 for Emotional Meltdown

It seems there's a knack for maintaining your sanity. Follow this simple tip and you'll never reach for the vodka bottle again.

Never, ever try to get hold of any large institution/business/government organisation by telephone.

It's so simple.

I wished I'd have realised this years ago.

As you may remember, I'm in the midst of remodelling my flat, ready to move in at the end of June. Unfortunately, my administrative system has struck again. The blasted Paperwork Elves fed my receipts/paperwork to the dragon and I can't find out when new flooring is to be delivered. I spent the last hour and a half trying to get hold of the Norwich store to find out the details. Can I get through? Good grief no. Not only that, I have an automated process to go through every time before being told, they can't take my call right now.

For the sake of my own peace of mind, I removed the telephone from my ear and went and did a work out. I'm going to have a shower, get dressed and drive over there to get the information in person. It'll be more pleasant for everyone concerned.

And yes, you did read that right. I did a work out. I have been working out at least once a week. I've been taking it very slowly...I'm very unfit and my knees and back being what they are...the idea is not to make it worse. There is improvement, but it's very small yet. I'm now doing more of the workout and working harder at it. This pleases me but in the grand scheme of things - I have a long way to go. 

We spent the weekend working on the flat. Which was great fun. Last week was hard going. I had a lot of writing to do and then the office job and frankly, my brain was mush. I don't know what was going on, but jeez Louise, I found it nigh on impossible to get anywhere with anything. If I could have, I'd have gone back to bed for the whole week.

Helping demolish my kitchen was a fantastic antidote. As was removing 4 years of limescale from my toilet. Kids, it's important. Do as the chemist says, not as he does. 

There's one more unit to be taken to bits, but that requires plumbing tools. The nasty vinyl is up, the worktops are out, the tiles (and most of the plaster) are off. Once I know when the flooring will be done, then we can finally get somewhere with it.

Of course, this is the fun bit.

Every job seems to have 6 jobs behind it and one thing can only be done, once something else has been done.

The electrician is booked in to start moving sockets and lights around.

I'm not stressed. Really I'm not. Just because when I lie down to sleep at night I've got 3,000 things going on in my head...it's to be expected.

I keep telling myself how much it will be worth it and that in 3 months time, we'll be settled in and comfy.

I keep pinching myself as to how lucky I am to have an awesome man who gives up a perfect weekend to bike around Norfolk to demolish my kitchen and haul dead appliances to the tip.

Friday, May 24, 2013

End of an Era

Ladies and Gentlemen, today is the day when it all starts to change. When everything I've been worrying about starts to happen. 

Today was Boy's last ever day at college. He will be taking his exams in the next few weeks and is then off to university. My baby is all growed up. 

His first school photo

Being all cute and innocent in Trinidad

Both of us hiding the incriminating cigarettes behind our backs. Yes, he was legal age

And more recently

The thing is I love him to bits for just being Boy. He makes me laugh. We like hanging out together. I'm not a traditional parent and he's an awesome son. 

I haven't done the school run for years. He's always been incredibly independent-minded and wanted to take himself off to school as soon as he possibly could. Today, it was absolutely chucking it down and as it was his last day, it felt right.

I'm glad I did. He went off to college, I went and celebrated with coffee and cake at The Window and later on we shared a heated debate on Facebook with other people from across the water about tattoos.

My baby is all growed up and I iz very proud of him. 

*proud mama smile* 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Adventures with Acrylic Nails

As you know, this is the blog for the deep and meaningful things in life...like nails.

On my left thumb nail I have a vertical ridge that pretty much dissects my nail. This ridge splits into my nail bed if I bash it. As you can imagine it is bloody painful if it catches on fabric or anything else, and there's always the risk of a tear. 

I've tried gluing the bits back together, with no success. Recently I tried gels - where they paint your nails with this liquid, stick it under UV light. Hey presto! Perfect nails that are tough as fuck.

I thought I'd see if I'd get on better with acrylic nails. I could buy the nails myself and I wouldn't have to go to a salon and thus, save money.

It was fine in principle. 

Except the first lot of nails I bought were too big for my actual fingers. They were a plain, French polish and short, so I thought I could get away with one just for my thumb. Again, fine in principle. Because it was designed for a different size digit, it flaked off after two days. And besides, one false nail just looked silly.

Back to my chemist I went. This time, I found petite false nails. But they were long and decorated. They were proper Dolly Bird nails. I bought them anyway.

I chose the appropriate sizes first, lined them all up and then buffed my nails. I wiped them down with nail polish remover to take off any dust and oils. Putting them on was a doddle. I was surprised how easy it was. Yes, I did glue bits of my hands together, but that was quickly sorted.

When I finished I realised my mistake. They were way too long!
I couldn't type, use my phone or iPad easily. Nails this long turn the simplest activities, like unzipping jeans, into a 20 page adventure. It was pointed out to me - women who wear nails like these, don't do much beyond shopping and tottering around on very high heels. Neither of which I'm vaguely interested in doing. Besides, I'm a writer. How the hell am I supposed to write, when I can't type?!

Boy needed to be in college early o'clock today, so I  drove him in (easy Good Mother points collected) and I went on into the city to find a nail bar.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Norwich isn't the city for acrylic nails. Norwich is the city to get your hair cut and coloured using organic products and you can have manicures and pedicures using the best ingredients. But acrylic nails? Oh no. Apparently, acetone is a nasty chemical and better salons prefer to use more "natural" products.

Okay people, get with the reality check. If you're painting and gluing shit to your nails, it's not "natural". Furthermore, use the braincells the good Goddess gave you. "Natural" does not equal "better". It's all about chemistry; whether natural or synthetic. And some so-called "natural" chemicals are downright dangerous, unstable and just bad for your general health. Polonium comes to mind. Occurs in nature, fucks you over in the nastiest of ways.

When I worked in perfumery I had to field a lot of those arguments. Consider musk oil. A totally natural product gained from electrocuting deer and then collecting their stress-laden urine. Artificial, much better idea; and actually, a cheaper and more stable product to use.

Anyway, after I went into the 3rd sniffy salon (we don't do those types of nails here, get them taken off and we'll give you a gel set for £37.00) I went to a place run by Chinese immigrants. You open the door and the chemical fug plays around your ankles and draws you in. The girl looked at my nails as I explained my problem.

"You don't want to take these off today." She told me. "You damage your nails. And they very pretty."

Oh. Okay.

"I can trim these for you with my machine. £3.00."

So said, so done.

She got her whizzy tool out, trimmed them down and shaped them to ovals. She also glued the bit I'd cracked when I attempted to cut them using clippers.

They weren't busy. The place was empty but for the staff when I walked in. She gave me good advice, which suited my pocket. I walked away very pleased indeed. The thing is, I'd go back again. I'd risk the chemical fug and go back again because they were straight with me.

I kinda like the idea of having nice nails without having to spend 2 hours every 4 days painting, polishing and primping them. I'm hard on my hands. I spend a lot of time pounding my fingers agains the keyboard. And soon they'll be in paint and filler as we decorate the flat.

Boots can expect a visit from me soon. I'll see if I can find false nails more to my liking there for next time.

After. Pretty and Functional. #epicwinning

Monday, May 06, 2013

Adventures on a Bicycle

See! Photographic evidence

Have I mentioned I don't cycle? The last time I sat on a bike was about 20 years ago. I biked a bit when I was growing up, but on quiet roads and not very far. I had a bike for a bit when I first moved to Hunstanton, I remember being freaked out by the traffic and being told off for cycling on the path.

My husband bought me a bike. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a white Raleigh; sit up and beg bike with a shopping basket that was supposed to take me to and from work, just down the road. I think I managed a few journeys and then drove. I'm pretty sure my Mother-in-Law ended up with the bike. I didn't miss it. Again, my road craft wasn't good enough and I lacked confidence.

Dave bikes. He has quite a few bikes. I warned him in advance. You're not getting me on the back of a bike. I said. It's not going to happen

I'm not entirely sure what happened. I still don't remember the thinking that lead to me borrowing a bike to wobble about the road outside of his house. Nor do I remember how he managed to get me all kitted up and got me to do a 2 mile trip. I personally suspect hypnosis. Or magic. I'm pretty sure I am not in my right mind.

I told him I was unfit.

I told him I have no gear.

I told him I am terrified on the open road.

And still, yesterday we went out again.

Personally, I think he's a masochist. Listening to me complain and apologise for the 5 miles to the pub and the 5 miles back home again and having to go at a snail's pace, must have been hell. Especially, knowing that he could have done the same journey in 25 minutes, instead of the *cough* hours it took us me. Well, it serves him right. No good deed goes unpunished.

He let me ride his Stiffee!

You pervs! This is Dave's Stiffee!

Tee hee!

It's a mountain bike made in Vancouver that really is the dogs bollocks (pardon my French). Apparently, it's like me being lent Red Rum to go on a hack. Actually, after my performance yesterday, that's not far from the truth.

I had fun. Even with the whinging and aching and swearing and the going very slowly and stopping often.

It was a lovely day, sunny and warm (but not too warm or windy). He'd chosen a route in the middle of nowhere. There were fields and birds and a wallaby (yes, there really was a wallaby). I realised yesterday how much I miss the outdoors now I don't smoke. There's this whole thing going on outside, which I've not been taking much notice.

It's great. It's changed my mind about the whole exercise malarky. Now I've got something I really want to do, I want to get fitter sooner rather than later so we can do more of that! I liked it. I really did.

What surprised me was that the Stiffee didn't hurt my back at all. The first bike I borrowed was a Pashley Princess. This bike, I'm told is one to cycle round the village with a loaf of bread or a bunch of daffs in the basket, saying "Morning Vicar." It was not the most comfortable and even with a new, wider and padded saddle, it didn't do my back much good.

The Stiffee had it's own discomforts, my knees come up quite high, which means I have to work a bit and the grips were hard on my hands. But it was still brilliant to ride. It's not the bike's fault I'm rubbish.

We are looking around for my own bike, which I'm gently excited about. Knowing myself as I do, I'd like to get a lot more proficient before I part with cold-hard cash. My resources to fund whims are diminishing. If I continue to have fun biking then it will be worth the money and then some.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

What do you Want to do when you Grow Up?

I remember I was asked that a lot when I was a child. I think my family was spoilt by my brother who knew he wanted to be a vet when he was 13 and then he went and became a vet. My mother said I should go into Public Relations. A family friend suggested I should read law. Instead, I upped and left and didn't become anything.

I've worked since I was 18 years old. My time out of employment and economic activity in my working life does not tot up to more than 12 months. Though I hasten to add, I pursued 2 bachelor degrees in this time and whilst I worked, it tended to be on a casual or part-time basis.

After I finished my Creative Writing degree, I took my CV to a supposedly different kind of employment agency. There was no logical career progression. I didn't fit into any of their neat boxes.They looked at it and told me I was unemployable. I left their offices slightly miffed and was once again in employment 10 days after that ridiculous meeting.

I don't know what I want to do when I grow up. I'm not even a grown up yet. I've tried out a lot of things: barmaid, receptionist, shop assistant, economic development officer, office administrator, marketing assistant, call handler. Most of these jobs, I would rather not do again. I've been there, burnt that tee-shirt. 

Writing, is my only constant. I wrote my first book when I was 13. I tried to write for publication when I was 21. I started my Creative Writing journey in 2003 and I'm only now ready to call myself a writer.

It never occurred to me that my chequered job history and daft way of looking at life, might give me insights into things that other people might find interesting. Yes, I've been blogging since 2006, but I blog for my own pleasure and my followers are my friends, not my "audience".

In the last few weeks, I've become more confident about calling myself a writer. This year, I completed a 15,000 word novella. It's sitting with a publisher now. I would be ecstatic if they take it, disappointed if they don't - but determined that it won't be the last submission. I've also been writing articles as well.  When I went to the London Coffee Festival last weekend, I approached various trade magazines and made some contacts for freelance work. 

Whilst I was doing all of that, it came home to me that my being uncertain about my career path has become one of my strengths, not my weaknesses. Following my interests and my bliss will be my career from now on.

Today, I've been setting up my new bliss: coffee. I'm going to train to be a barista. I want to learn and write about all things coffee. So, I've set up a separate twitter account and I'm thinking about a Facebook page. There will definitely be a blog. Watch this space!