Monthly Archives: February 2014

Making time

And just like that, Rivka makes me feel guilty for complaining about my lack of time!

Rivka and Ivory

A dear friend asked me an interesting question today and it didn’t strike me until almost an hour later that I had given her maybe the wrong answer. We talked about times and places and how I write, but the truth is that I don’t FIND time at all. I MAKE time. There’s a distinct difference. If you try and fit writing time into your current life as is, you’ll take years to write your book.

I think that’s why a lot of people with words in their souls never make it to the end of novels. Writing is about sacrifice. You really have to want to do it, to be committed to it and to ignore other things in your life in favour of it. It extends past the writing process too – you have to take constructive criticism on the chin and be prepared to slash so many…

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Snowed Under (without snow)

I was all set to write about the calm solitude of a Saturday morning when Ivory stumbled through the kitchen. I’m usually the earliest riser so I tend to have the place to myself first thing on weekends. It’s nice to bimble about and get first crack at the washing machine, and to have some time to process the week.

I originally planned to have the blog update on Tuesdays and Fridays but things have become so busy that’s clearly not happening. You should see my schedule for work for the next six weeks. If we all get to Easter without a mental break down it will be a miracle.

So I will have three times in the week carved out for definite: Monday night for Zumba (I know… but it’s actually not as awful as I feared), Thursday night for Powerhoop (pummel that midriff!) and Saturday morning for blogging. Anything else at the moment is fair game. I’m really going to have to pull my finger out and do some actual work. Like properly 100% put in effort. That’s not to say I don’t do my job well. But there’s always more I can do and with all the changed to my job this year I’ve sort of been treading water a little. So I need to get my head down and not do my usual thinking on the fly.

Which means that writing and everything else I enjoy will be once again crushed under the weight of being an actual functioning adult. Do I have to keep doing this every day for the next sixty years?! I mean, I like being busy and I like having stuff to accomplish but… it’s depressing thinking about all the things I won’t have time to do without feeling guilty for “wasting” time.

So why the hell am I still here blogging? I’ve got this one last weekend to have a serious blowout of reading and sewing and stuff. Living the dream. Living. The. Dream.

Until next week, with hopefully some writing or reading news assuming I will have done either of those things in the next seven days.

On the plus side, Ivory being up means I’m munching a nice warm pain au chocolat I wouldn’t otherwise have had 🙂

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I’ve not written much for a while. My laptop suddenly died and I have a new one, but…

Like a complete idiot, I never backed up anything. I was planning on getting a new laptop anyway this month so I was literally a day away from transferring things across to an external hard drive when my poor, overheating, dying baby went kaput.

So there’s 240k of words trapped and lost in an oubliette of my own digging. Some of them were even pretty good, I thought. I don’t think they’re gone forever – they’d better not be or I think I will throw myself out the window – but getting things off my hard drive and back into view will take a while.

I was one of those people who thought it could never happen to them. Even after a bluescreen on the last day of NaNoWriMo 2012 when I thought I’d lost everything. Even that didn’t make me start putting things on Dropbox or something. Well now it has happened to me and I have a few days off work and I really want to write… but I have three drafts that are unavailable.

It’s like I’ve lost a part of me. In a way I have. It’s more than the drafts: photos, short stories, poems, work documents… cast adrift in a little broken bottle in a sea of tech that I can’t do anything about.

Learn from me, people of the intertubes. Learn from my despair.

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On Sunday morning I felt like a superhero. Not because I’d done anything heroic or extraordinary, but just because I was back in normal clothes. I was schlepping along to the Co-op for bacon and croissants at the time. It occurred to me that right then, walking along in the cold February sunshine with last night’s mascara no doubt still partially crusting my eyes (I didn’t check the mirror before I went out and I’m not very patient with removing make up at stupid o clock in the morning), chunky glasses on, slouchy jeans and trainers, that I was while not totally unrecognisable from the night before, I looked like my own nerdy twin.

Saturday night I was the girl on fire. I was wearing a halter neck cherry red dress, gorgeous silver earrings I got in Bruges, and the shoes I wore to graduation ball. I felt like the cape in the paso doble. I felt like Baby doing the Sheldrake Hotel routine with Johnny Castle. It was the best I’ve felt about my body for a long time and hopefully it showed. Two ladies complimented me on my dress which was nice.

I had to stop myself from grinning as I went into the Co-op, because I was so pleased with myself. It was like I was still wearing the other me like an invisible shell over everyday me. We are the same person, obviously, but The Other Girl doesn’t come out too often. Maybe it was the red. I know the classic is the Little Black Dress but for me red is the way to go. So to all these other Sunday morning patrons I was just the person in front of them. They had no idea about The Other Girl. I was a black winter jacket, orange juice buying, middle class woman. Gone was the harlot.

I wish I could live my life in harlot red all the time. It could be my thing. A lot of my clothes are blue. I’m very much a blue person. Sea colours. But also autumn colours. A friend told me that my “season” colour palette thing, for him, was the cusp of winter to spring. Budding. Potential. The unexpected. Flashes of brilliance. Clear skies and new leaves. Clean lines.

We all have an alter ego. We all wear different selves like phone covers or Facebook profile pictures. They are shells and skins. They can change with the weather or a good day, a bad day, a drink, a random smile from a stranger on the bus. I shed my skin at least four times every day. My mood swings are perhaps a little worrying.

This Valentine’s Day, I hope you have someone who sees the you under the mask. Being Wonder Woman all the time is too exhausting. We need someone to be with that can take the full whack of costume changes in one. I’m sort of lucky in that I have a best friend who can take all my weirdness because we came through our teens together. He can take one look at me and know exactly what’s right or wrong. And I can do the same for him. I found him at fifteen. But we don’t work as a couple and he’s now married. So lightning can strike twice, eh?

Here’s hoping!

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A tale of two journeys

Last week (and wow, how has it only been a week?) you may recall I went to a ceilidh. Go back one entry. Tada!

On my way out I was running late. I had been faffing around as usual, and was just about on time for being fashionably late when I made the mistake of texting an acquaintance and inviting them to dinner (I was feeling brave and empowered possibly because I had a razor in my hand ready to get my legs all smooth and womanly). Then I swanned off into the shower. On my return, with one eye on the clock, I checked my messages and had this rambling spiel from the guy spelling out FRIEND. OH GOD, FRIEND in massive neon letters. So I had to ramble back, with some wit and some half-truths, to save myself a little embarrassment. That meant that when the ceilidh started I was sat half-naked on my bed with a damp towel wrapped around me and a tablet computer in my slightly sweaty hands, frantically tapping out a carefree, it-was-just-a-suggestion-calm-yourself message. So I went to action stations.

Luckily, I already knew what I was wearing, and since I don’t wear make up anyway and my hair was going to be left down, I was ready pretty quickly. I also thought I knew where I was going. I left my room looking like a hurricane in Dorothy Perkins and off I went. It was dark and the roads were quiet, though the next round of major roadworks was getting set up so there was a bit of a hold up on the bridge and a bit of impatient steering wheel tapping. The sky was littered with lilac fluffy clouds. I had a hairy moment on a large roundabout because the idiots round here have no concept of lane discipline (there are no roundabouts on farms) and then I was up in the estate, looking for a village hall. I found it, exactly where I expected it to be. An old man in a spectacularly patterned piece of knitwear came out and helped me to reverse park (without me asking him to, and without me needing him to) further making me think I was in the right place. I wasn’t. I was exactly where I expected to be but that wasn’t where I was supposed to be. There are two community halls in that estate and I was in the wrong one.

I was flustered, I was even more late, and I was now following sketchy instructions that I was trying to remember as I drove down roads I’d never been down before. Every time a car got close behind me I got more frustrated because I didn’t want to be that driver who makes sudden turns or crawls along clearly lost and gets in everyone’s way. I found the place, eventually, after having done a circuit of the one-way system, and parked up. Then I couldn’t find the door of the place. I was seconds away from going home. I could see through the window a whole host of people I didn’t know and if I’d been in the wrong place again I think I would have had a breakdown. Luckily it was the right party. I crept in, searching for anyone I recognised, an hour late, sweaty and anxious, cross, embarrassed and tired. No wonder I had trouble getting a dance partner.

The way home was different. I gave some guests a lift home through the roughest estate in the top end of the town, and hoped I could find my way back out again. Once I was back on the main road, and homeward bound, I felt myself relax. The clouds had cleared and as I turned off the main road and trundled along the Firth, I was the only person around. Above me, Orion was striding across the sky leading me back to the village. I found myself grinning. I sang along to the radio and rode the curves of the tarmac. I saw no other moving vehicle. It was the witching hour and everyone sensible was in bed, where I wanted to be. The village was deserted and the street lights were urging me into a parking space. I was almost too tired to climb the stairs but after one last look at the stars I closed our rickety front door and made it to my room.

I very nearly just crawled into the pile of stuff and slept there.

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Ceilidh blues

Scotland, I think we should put aside the thorny issue of independence for a while and focus on what’s truly important: rules for ceilidhs.

Guess where I went last night?

I was invited to a birthday shindig and despite arriving an hour late – there’s an epic tale of heartbreak and bad directions in there for another time – I had a lovely time. I could have had a few more dances, but there was a lack of available partners. Most people present were couples. That’s fine. Be all loved up. See if I care. There was a pair dancing like Danny Zuko and Cha-Cha DiGregorio who showed off their moves all night! That’s not what Mr Kellerman is paying you for! I’m possibly mixing my dance movie metaphors.

I think, and I’m sure the few other single/came-by-themselves guests would agree, that we need to do something about this. I told a friend about my couple-goggles later and he wondered if perhaps I hadn’t noticed as much last time I went to a ceilidh which was probably true – last time I ceilidh’ed I didn’t go alone – but didn’t help me get my feet on the dancefloor.

What I propose is this:

1. Arrive with your partner/significant other/meatshield

2. Have a warm-up dance with them just so everyone knows who belongs to who

3. Dance with some different people!

4. Maybe have one dance you do particularly well that you can show off about with your real partner

5. Dance with some different people!!!!

6. Leave with the person you came with.

Now, there are a lot of dances where you swap partners all the way through. That’s fine. But you need someone to dance with in the first place to be on the floor to make the set, or the circle or whatever. Where can I find one of those? I invited a friend to go with me to the dance but he was busy not being socially awkward. I did get some dancing in though. I did Dashing White Sergeants and the Canadian Barn Dance, and one I don’t know the name of before we finished with the Orcadian Strip the Willow I’ve posted about before. And I got birthday cake. So it was all good really.

On with the weekend – much ado about work and play. Possibly rest. Happy February everyone.

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