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Paul said he’d had a nightmare, but didn’t elaborate, so I knew. I waited a few minutes, and when he didn’t laugh at Phill Jupitus saying, “Dirty Dirty Nan!” I spoke up. “Listen, I know I did something in your dream to upset you, so you might as well tell me what it is.” He giggled sheepishly then told me I’d slept with his friend Simon. “But it was a dream, and I’ve never even met Simon!” I said. “Well, at least you were sorry about it,” he replied. But he pulled the covers over his head and turned away.
It seems I’m about to become a queen of sorts. I dreamed a week ago that a buzzing flower was hovering around my ear, trying to enter my head. But it wasn’t a flower it was a swarm of bees. I am told bees are a good omen, and read that in Mexico, they represents souls. Then, I had an osho zen tarot card reading and I got “Flowering”, the Queen of Rainbows card, which said, “Let the bees come to you.” And then I found a bottle top in the kitchen with a bee on it, from Breakspear’s bitter.
So Paul & I were watching a news bulletin about people who have fat dogs. And the presenter says there’s a new product coming out that could help. I listen and then say, with what I believe to be the appropriate level of scorn, “I don’t see people who let their dogs get fat buying
, do you?!” Paul turns to me and says, “Slimming pills, SLIMMING PILLS!” And then we laugh so hard our stomachs hurt and we even let out a few farts. “But that’s even worse,” I say eventually. “The swimming pools make much better sense.”
Right now, Paul is making a lentil loaf from scratch. His brother is coming over for lunch. Paul always cooks when people are over. If I’m alone, I hardly ever cook, picking at a banana or houmous or whatever’s in the fridge, eating standing up in the kitchen. I only cook for the two of us, and I’d never eat the leftovers if it wasn’t for Paul, faithfully saving and reheating things. I get irritable when I cook. So did Mum. She cooked every meal for us, but it made her angry. Nothing we did could make up for it.
Today we should be meeting Lotty and Jakey, a couple of cats that we are hoping to adopt. Their owner became allergic to them so they need rehoming. They are being brought round to our house tonight and if all goes well, they will be the newest members of our household. This morning, Paul woke up and composed the beginning of a song for them. I added the lyrics, “Little Pud Pud…” I am still slightly worried that Kris will change her mind. It’s just superstitious anxiety, as we’ve eagerly been waiting to meet them for over a month now.
Last night, after Kris didn’t show with the cats, Paul said that, for now, unless he’s on his toes, he feels he could get run over. Did I ever feel something bad was just round the corner? I said no, but I do sometimes think I’m going to die by choking. So he asked how the Heimlich maneuver works and had a feel under my ribs where his hands should go, and asked where the first aid manual was. I had a feeling Kris wouldn’t show though. Paul was excited but I wasn’t. Hope can wound. And I knew it.
I had a shiatsu treatment last night from someone who trained at the British School of Shiatsu-Do. It was just what I needed, rejuvenating, balancing. I came away feeling great, a bounce to step, my tiredness gone. I recognised that she was working on my bladder meridian too. Her hara diagnosis found my bladder meridian most empty and my heart protector meridian most full. It did make me want to go back to practising my shiatsu again, but not the full training, at least, not yet. When I got home I even cooked cheerfully, rice and tofu with satay sauce.
I started today in a thunderous mood. Walked into work wishing to be anywhere but here. Then found this in my inbox for a meditation workshop, “Stress is caused by being here and wanting to be there. It is a split that tears you apart inside.” Then Dad wrote to say meditation makes him “a less disturbed person”. The cosmos is always whispering its wisdom but often we’re too busy to listen. I’m still upset about the cats. And Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League too. But, as Paul says, tomorrow is another day. And that day is today.
Tassles. There’s a strange invention. If they must exist at all, then let them do so on old-fashioned curtain pulls and whips designed for self-flagellants. They should not, under any circumstances, be found on footwear or jackets. “What about nipples?” Paul asks. “Perhaps they aren’t quite so bad,” I reply. “Do you have some then?” He asks after a pregnant pause. “Erm no, I’m not really a nipple tassle sort of girl,” I say. However, since they tend to be used by women in strip clubs, I say down with nipple tassles too, unless men start wearing them of course.
Yesterday was the first time we were turned away from an Indian restaurant because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) prepare food for us without using butter or yoghurt.
on Denman Street (London), had such good reviews that I was shocked, first because the reason they gave was, “The food is already prepared”, and therefore not made fresh like they say in their publicity. Second because their menu said they could accommodate people with food intolerances. It was a rather swanky place so I did wonder whether our casual attire had something to do with their reticence to serve us. Snobs.
Lotty and Jakey are here! Kris finally brought them round last night. They are the sweetest, friendliest cats. Very affectionate. Lotty is more contemplative, she likes hiding places and explores in a rather cautious, serious, intense way. Jakey is more chilled and he’s also rather fond of his food. In some moments, Lotty looks so much like Caesar, but she’s a lot more clingy, she sticks to you, likes to be held, and easily gets her paws round you or crawls right onto you for a cuddle. Jakey is more independent and easy going. They both seem happy here already.
I wonder if my next few posts are going to be all about Lotty and Jakey. It’s intense looking after two new cats at once! They’re adorable but its hard work! And we want kids too!?! Even after just 36 hours, I already feel like Paul and I have hardly had a moment together, even though we have. Still, I’m sure once they’ve settled in properly and get into a routine, and can go outside, things will feel a bit more chilled. Funny how, even with a positive, happy change, you forget it’s still a change and needs adjusting to.
Yes, it’s another cat post. I’m less stressed today though because Lotty finally ate something, and she seems a lot more relaxed. She spent the evening lounging around the living room with us as if she’s been around for ages. Kris was worried she wouldn’t settle and that she’d have to take Lotty back, so I’m relieved that she’s doing well. I also discovered that in addition to licking you, if you hold your hand out to Jakey, he likes to take it between his paws. He’s ever so gentle about it too. Ahhhh. I’m a happy mummy I am.
Yesterday I made asparagus and pea risotto for dinner. Afterwards, Paul looked at the remaining asparagus left on the counter and said, “You didn’t use many did you?” I replied, “It was a big bundle. I used about half. I used 24 stalks.” This must be very endearing because he looked at me with cootchy-coo eyes and said, “You counted them?” What can I say, I like even numbers. Doesn’t everybody? Apparently not. He thought it so adorable that he hugged me for it. “Did you count the peas too?” he asked sweetly. Of course not, that would be ridiculous.
Lotty was crying last night. First she started sniffing the edges of the front door looking up at it hopefully. Then she mewed a bit, then a bit more. Then she got on her hind legs and mewed some more. Then she started crying. It was definitely a cry, a forlorn, drawn out meow that was almost a howl. Though I know we can’t let her out yet, I was still distressed by it, but Paul just went on watching TV saying, “Just ignore it, she’ll stop eventually.” Usually he’s the worrier and I’m the philosophical one. Not this time.
Hearing the word impossible immediately riles me, especially when it’s used in that overly apologetic brushing away tone for a trivial situation or an everyday request that is far from it. Living without oxygen is impossible. Creating live human beings out of cow shit is impossible. Wanting to meet on a weekend instead of a weekday is not impossible. Finding a five-minute window to make a phone call is not impossible. Say something else. Say you can’t be bothered to make the time, say there are others more important to you than me, and just spare me the fucking melodrama.
Sometimes the anger I carry inside me surprises me. There’s one friend whose behaviour has always inflamed me. It’s been going on for 17 years but I still feel it as if it’s new. I should know by now what she’s like, that it’s not personal when she’s constantly too busy to meet, too busy to make time for one of her oldest friends. It’s her way, she’s flighty, absent, scatty, unable to settle, stay still, make long-term plans. But it makes me feel like a mere prop in her life. And it makes me question what friendship really is.
My friend Amanda’s paintings really make me want to learn to paint. Though I picked up a book by Jeffrey Camp yesterday and he wrote that you can teach drawing, but not painting. If you want to paint, you just have to pick up a brush and do it. I have an idea for a picture, a portrait of Paul, except with a lemon where his head should be, and him holding his head in his hand. Yellow and blue tones. Don’t ask me why. Paul’s set my easel up for me too, all I have to do is start.
Yesterday afternoon, Jakey suddenly started meowing differently, like he was sounding an alarm. I went downstairs and found him staring at a curled-up bedraggled little mouse. I thought it was dead but then it twitched and Jakey pounced. My heart sank. I know cats play with their prey but Jakey looked like he was attacking rather than playing. When it seemed to stop moving, I picked it up, said sorry, put it in a bag and put it in the bin outside. Coming back in, I found blood spots on the floor, a trail from room to room, perfectly round.
Last night, Jakey made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. First he started swatting his own tail, then he chased it round and round in circles like a puppy on speed. Then he crouched down on his front paws and wiggled his bottom (yes, it really was a wiggle!!) and pounced at an invisible foe before racing up and down the stairs, his claws clattering on the wooden floors and turning up rugs in his wake. Meanwhile, Lotty looked on calmly like a regal princess. I’ve been bloody dead tired lately and the cats’ shenanigans perked me up nicely.
I’m still dead tired. Wanted to buy a big canvas today and some flowers and just start painting. Also wanted to make Susan’s bean, broccoli and cucumber salad to take into work tomorrow cos I’m spending too much money on Pret lunches. And maybe even go to the Tate Modern to see the exhibition of paintings by Indian women. But I got up at 11, and haven’t even dressed yet and we need bread and I have to change the cats’ litter, do some laundry and have a shower. Excuses? Maybe I could somehow find time to do it all.
So I did manage to buy art materials and some tulips yesterday and started painting!! Painted for nearly three hours, though I still have some finishing touches to make to my tulip heads so they look more 3D. Felt rather upset by Paul’s comment that I seem to work on a “single plane” which is just a fancy way of saying my painting looks flat. I’m terribly sensitive to criticism about my art work. It’s because I don’t have enough experience or knowledge to know whether the criticism is well-founded. I can handle criticism of my writing much more objectively.
I feel utterly depleted today, emptied of all energy. Washed bone dry. My mind feebly casts around for something to fill my body which might make it come to life again – from cream filled pastries and cakes that I haven’t touched in years to a strong cup of tea. My appetite seems boundless and yet, even after eating a plate of spaghetti, toast, crisps and that craved cup of tea, I still feel wilted. I’m off sick, been in bed all morning, reading
The Crimson Petal and The White
. To be back in the 21st Century now is indeed shocking.
Had a day full of art. First painted tulips in watercolour. Then met with Mad and Sarah at the National Gallery for tea and Leon Rossoff drawings. In the pub, words of wisdom dispensed to Sarah. After, Mad and I went for dinner at Wagamama and then to the Tate Modern. We arrived there at 9pm, it was virtually empty, just enough people there to make it not lonely. I watched Mad go down a slide. Then we went to see paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil. Found an Art Foundation text book in the shop. Closing time came far too soon.
Sometimes, togetherness is a fuck up the ass. For just one day, know what you want and do it, without asking me first. For just one day, let me ignore you and don’t take it personally. For just one day, let me be alone, wholly and entirely independent from you, and don’t act like I’m the Mama who never loved you. Because guess what, the world ain’t gonna stop because of your pain. Be a fucking adult for just one day, pretend you don’t know me, pretend we haven’t met yet, forget that you need me for anything at all.
I’ve been moaning that certain friends only contact me when they’re feeling low, and I don’t see them otherwise. And it made me wonder what I do when I feel low. Do I reach out to others? Well, no. I isolate myself. I retreat. I try and muddle through on my own, not wanting to rely on anyone to help me. I’ve gotten a bit better at reaching out. I tell Paul how I feel. And he knows I just need space so he leaves me be. But I wonder how those friends would react, if I suddenly called them?
I’ve wanted to write a novel forever. A decent one that is. I’ve written three already, during Nanowrimos, none of which were worth following up. Outside of that 30 day deadline, I lose my incentive. My engine putters out. I grow bored and give in. This is because what I end up writing and what I imagine are so far apart. The words I lay down make me cringe. What I really want from writing is to escape from myself, to break free, but I can’t seem to. And yet, when I say I’ll give up trying, everything feels wrong.
Who the hell am I writing this for? Am I writing what I really think and feel? Who do I imagine is my audience? And why am I so irritable lately? Last night I dreamt I was pregnant. In my dream I was ecstatic. In my waking life, I’m in limbo, stuck yet again. They say everything changes and that may be so, but they also stay the same. Just take a look at humanity. Have we changed? Sometimes it strikes me that nobody knows anything at all, but we carry on thinking we do. That’s what civilization truly means.
The feelings of stagnation and depression I’ve been feeling lately are being dispelled, all because of breaking a few patterns. Went for a walk through Priory Park and out for delicious Vietnamese dinner instead of staying in on computer and watching TV. And yesterday, painted in the garden with the cats. It was the first time we let them out. Jakey jumped over the fence and disappeared for 45 minutes, but came back of his own accord. And Lotty stayed close to us, too scared to venture much further. Also, the tulips I planted in September are starting to bloom!
I hate making mistakes. It vexes me, especially when other people are affected. And even more as a result of bad instructions from someone else. The point is, it happens, I know it does, but it really gets to me, to the extent that I hate taking responsibility for big things. I hated being a manager for the short time I was one. Is it a coincidence that I just remembered a cringey ass-kissing poem I wrote for Dad’s birthday once entitled “Response-ability”, a topic my parents were big on? That’s right, 35 years old and still blaming the folks.
When we write, we find parts of ourselves we didn’t know existed - good, bad or ugly. We forget that writing isn’t always about beauty; what we say isn’t always “acceptable”. We forget that publication isn’t the only thing to aim for. We forget how much we kick ourselves when we write, how angry and dark and slashing we get, how out of control we feel, how it feels like failing. I’m not always proud of how I feel or what I think, but I want to be honest when I write. Please bear that in mind when you read.
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