On being surprisingly inspirational

Look!

Owen, from no talent for certainty wrote about me having a bath! 😉

“I read a blog post a few days ago that really struck me. Reading it, my mood began to change in the same way the author’s mood changed as she described it along with the circumstances of her evening. Riding a bicycle in the pouring rain for 45 minutes, then the warm bath, the conversations with friends, the TEDx talk — I could picture all of it.

I felt like I was there.

The process by which we move from someplace dark (or damp) to a place of gratitude is one almost all of us know, yet we need constant reminding that such a journey is even possible. So I was very appreciative of that post.”

You can read the rest of his post here.

You can read my original post here.

***

Owen is one of my favourite bloggers. Not only does he reply to my jumbly comments, he’s one of the relatively few bloggers who write a consistent stream of posts I like reading – often of the sort where you mutter variations of “Yes. This. Exactly this. How does he know? Get out of my head! That’s not just me? Amen.” as you go. The sort which make you breathe out when you reach the end. The sort where you take a moment to catch up with yourself before you carry on with your day. Posts you feel rather than read.

I am “well chuffed” that he liked one of my posts enough to write about it :).

That he felt like he was there while reading it is pretty much the best compliment he could give my writing. 🙂

***

He usually writes poetry, churning out poems faster than I can read them. ‘Churning out’ sounds too flippant, but I have no better word in my vocabulary for the process of posting a new poem every few hours.

This month he has imposed an essay-writing challenge on himself. He is convinced that it’s going to show people why he tends to stick to poetry, but I disagree, I think his prose is at least as fantastic as his poetry. His prose is very poetic though ;).

I suggest you visit him and see for yourselves.

On furnishing adventures – papasan chair (and picture boards)

I recently gave away the first ever piece of furniture I ever properly owned. A lady came early in the morning to pick it up for her cats…

***

I bought the papasan chair at a carboot sale in autumn 2006.

The town held a car boot sale once a year and pretty much everyone who was anyone went. Either to buy or to sell. The posters were put up well in advance and on the day the entire middle of the town was covered/filled with people – I didn’t know the town was big enough for the turn out.

So anyway. There I was. Newly arrived in a new town with a new room in my first shared flat. It was a fantastic room but although it was furnished, I had a shortage of seating. My housemates were busy doing other things so I set off by myself.

One of the first things I saw when I reached the car boot sale was a papasan chair. I’ve always loved those chairs so when I saw one I couldn’t leave it behind. On the other hand I didn’t want to carry it round the whole town so I paid for it and asked the seller to look after it until I came back to pick it up.

As I made my way round the market I also bought a printer, a backpack, a heavy frying pan and a few other things. Fully laden, I set off for home..

Then I remembered the chair.

A sensible person would probably have carried the first lot of stuff home and come back for the chair. I am not that person. Instead I packed the backpack as full as I could, put the base on the inside of the chair, persuaded the printer box into the base and piled everything else into the spaces.

Once everything was stowed away, I hoisted it onto my head and did my best impression of an African water carrier… except I am not cut out to carry things on my head without holding onto them so my best impression was terrible (and wobbly, despite holding on).

***

I made it home without dropping anything which is a very good thing since I wouldn’t have been able to gather it back up without major effort. As it was I unpacked on the drive and it took multiple trips up and down the stairs to bring everything into my room.

Phew! I could finally lie back in my new chair and relax :).

Only for a few minutes tho – I had lots of other new things to admire and unpack and wash and put away. (It was lucky I didn’t put the unpacking off until later – the printer turned out to be missing all the necessary cables and drivers and I think the block the ink cartridges go in, although I’d been promised it was all there so I lugged it back into town and the guy refunded my money 🙂 )

***

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. The chair has accompanied me for 12 years and 5 moves. It was looking somewhat worse for wear. The base was mostly held together with cable ties and the seat part was missing pieces of the spiral. Sitting in it felt like a brave undertaking, being as how it creaked and groaned and sagged when you lowered yourself into it. Getting out again was even trickier.

When I found a newer version in the small ads I pounced. It was on the other side of Berlin and I am still car-less, but that never stopped me before so I organised a pickup date. It was being offered without a cushion, but mine was still ok so that wasn’t a problem, and as far as transport went, was more of an advantage than anything else; the chairs are unwieldy things at the best of times and the cushions are heavy.

The former owner only lived a mile or so away from the station and the weather was good, I didn’t see a problem. When she found out I was going to be carrying it on the train she was amazed (and amazing) and tied the base to the chair for me. (She had a ball of string strategically placed close to her front door. I might have to adopt this practice).

Having the pieces tied together makes carrying them much easier.

I set off towards home.

Because I am still not the sensible person I wasn’t before, and because I hate wasting travelling time, I had made another appointment to pick up some picture boards conveniently being given away en route.

Mostly en route anyway. I suppose one has to count getting off the train for a 25 minute round trip with a large unwieldy chair as a slight detour.

The people sitting outside the pubs and cafés on the way between the train station and the picture board house were much amused by me walking past them twice.

Carrying 2 picture boards as well as the chair proved a little bit more complicated. Luckily I had lots of time to get home.*

***

There’s no way I have space for a broken chair I’m not using – the old one had to go. I couldn’t bring myself to dismantle it and throw it away, but I also couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to pay for it. I put it on eBay and hoped for the best.

Within a few minutes I had the first interested message. A couple of hours after that the second. In the end I gave it to the third person who wrote a week later after the other two hadn’t arranged a concrete pick up date.

When she arrived to take it away I pointed out all the places it was broken and said she should be careful sitting in it. Turns out I didn’t need to worry – she’s lining it with multiple blankets and letting her cats sleep in it. Good to know it’s got lots of life in it yet 🙂 makes getting rid of it that much easier..

* (..she says, lying through her teeth. I was running late and had to get home, showered and dressed up for a concert in very few hours).

On beneficial baths

Mostly written last night.

This morning it was warm and sunny and I cycled to work in a T-shirt and skirt. Yesterday and most of last week that was no problem. Today however…

When I looked out of the window at 5 this evening it was raining. The weather forecast I should ideally have looked at earlier said it wasn’t due to stop raining until tomorrow. I didn’t fancy sleeping at work so I packed my bag and cycled home straight away – in the hope that it meant I only had to face it being cold, wet and windy instead of cold, wet, windy and dark.

By the time I’d finished packing my bag it was not only raining but chucking it down. I was soaked well before I reached home.

Look! A dry bit! 🙂

***

This post was going to be a rant about the weather. I started writing it in my head on the way home. Then this evening happened and I no longer feel like ranting. I am actually kind of thankful for the rain, in a roundabout fashion..

***

The first thing I did after getting home and taking my helmet off was put the kettle on. The second thing was start running a bath.

I love baths, especially long baths but I don’t know when I last had one. ¾ of an hour cycling in a downpour without a coat seemed to be the perfect excuse.

Isn’t that ridiculous? That I feel like I need an excuse to spend [excessive] time in the bath. It’s like I have some kind of voice in my head permanently telling me that I should be doing something, should be productive, should have something to show for all the oxygen I’ve been using. I’m not sure what I’m trying to prove, or to whom, but I am aware that the more I try to prove it, the more I actually prove how incapable I am of proving it.

Productivity is all well and good, but I can’t be productive all the time, especially when my batteries are flat.

Sometimes batteries need recharging.

Sometimes a long bath is the best way to do that.

***

Today two very luffly friends (who barely know each other and are therefore almost definitely acting independently of each other) wrote to me to find out how I’m getting on and scheduled a phone call for tonight and next week respectively.

I’ve been spinning on my own axis in my own world for a while. Monday, for example, was one of those days where you I wonder what, if anything, you’re I’m capable of doing well and why you I even bother trying to deal with all the chaos when all you’re I’m doing is taking up space and messing up other people’s otherwise orderly lives. Reaching out (in person or by phone) and talking to people who love me was well overdue and I am so grateful for these people who seemingly instinctively know this and help me with it.

***

F and I had made our telephone plan before it started raining so I decided to combine the plans and phone her while soaking in the bath instead of while sweeping the floor and putting washing on.

Her phone didn’t work directly so I read my email while I was waiting for her to sort it out. I still get Flylady mails (remember her?) which I don’t often open but which I read today. I even poked the link and arrived at her podcast/vlog about how she makes her bed. Couldn’t bring myself to watch all the way to the end, there’s only so much bedmaking I can cope with, but since I was on YouTube anyway I jumped about through the recommendations until I came to a TEDx talk by a lady called Tracy McMillan.

BAM!!!

That is one cool lady.

I’d never read her articles or books or watched her TV shows. Never even heard of her before. Might be a tiny bit obsessed now though ;p.

As soon as her talk was over I googled her and found an interview between her and Lewis Howes (F’s phone didn’t properly recover so we spoke for a few minutes and agreed to postpone the call to tomorrow).

Here’s the link:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eWwRl_CNLR8

I think that’s the first YouTube link I’ve ever posted here. I am so awestruck by this woman’s positivity in the face of everything that she’s lived through, I think you should all go and watch the interview. Or the TED talk. Or possibly all the videos, except I haven’t seen them all and can’t directly recommend them.

She mostly talks about loving oneself. Flylady is always talking about flying. For all of you who don’t know her and weren’t around when I signed up for her emails, FLY is an acronym for finally loving yourself… I find the full-circle-ness fascinating.

***

So.

I was planning to do a million things this evening. I wanted to get my tax return finished and tidy the sitting room and do the washing up and put some unwanted things up for sale online. I wanted to find some photos to print and go through my computer and find the documents I need to work on over the next few days. I wanted to achieve so many things. In the end I didn’t do any of those things (although I did get a load of washing done, change my bedsheets and cook and eat dinner), but I think spending the time with a cup of hot ribena and a bath and Tracy McMillan’s voice turned out to be the best thing to do with the evening.

I wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t been for having to cycle in the rain.

For that I am thankful. That’s why this was going to be a rant, but isn’t.

On birds, bees and an underdressed first date

Mid April

A couple of weeks ago, I took some friends on an exploratory trip around my part of the world.

F pointed out an advert for “cinema night” on the notice board of one of my local churches. They were going to show a children’s film, followed by a film called “More than honey”. None of us had heard of it, so I made a mental note of the date and decided to look the film up online when we got back.

***

It’s a film about bees, or more accurately about the role and treatment of bees around the world. It was produced by the people who made ‘We feed the world”, a film I watched several years ago. I can’t exactly say I enjoyed watching it, but I was glad that I did.

This one sounded like a watchable film too.

***

I asked H if he wanted to come with me. It was something we might have done anyway, but we decided, semi-jokingly to call it a first date. It also meant we could go in his car ;).

When we got there the church was not only dark, but also locked.

Hmm.

After much puzzlement, lots of wandering around looking lost and a more careful study of the advert, we discovered that the church displaying the notice wasn’t the church showing the film. Google maps wasn’t particularly helpful, as it reckoned the film-church was in the same place as the notice-church. It took quite a lot of sleuthing powers to find out where the film-church actually was, by which time we’d missed a considerable amount of the film. The film-church was several km away, so getting there would have gobbled up even more of the film time.

Ever practical, and quite a lot pragmatic, H suggested we skip the film and go out for dinner instead. He knew of a restaurant close by where he’s eaten with his work colleagues before. And besides, going to the cinema is an overrated idea for a first date anyway..

When we got there I almost bailed.

It was a very posh-looking place. The sort with a french name and cloth serviettes. It turns out that “eaten there with my work colleagues” actually translates to “my boss takes us there to celebrate finished projects”.

I don’t eat out much, and almost never anywhere fancy, so I’m almost always out of my depth when I do. On the occasions when it is required of me, I like to have some forewarning and a chance to pretend that dress like I know what I’m doing. My going-to-the-cinema-in-a-church-hall clothes do not match my idea of going-to-posh-restaurants clothes. H laughed at me when I told him I wasn’t appropriately dressed to eat there and said he didn’t care, and also that one of his colleagues has been known to eat there with his hair still full of swarf. I could hardly compete with steel toe caps and swarf so I shut up and we went in.

Confronted with a menu full of words I never heard in school french lessons I almost bailed for the second time.

In the end I chose something more or less at random. My French is obviously worse than I thought it was because what arrived bore very little resemblance to what I thought I ordered. In fact, the only thing both dishes had in common was the chicken. If I’d still had a menu I would have checked, but they’d taken them away and I wasn’t sure enough to say anything without “proof” and it was entirely likely that I’d pointed to the wrong thing when it was my turn to order.

As I ate my spinach and hoped it would make me strong, I wondered how I always end up in such odd situations.

***

H was wonderful company, the food was good (if unexpected) and no-one said anything about my attire or tried to make me leave (which is admittedly obvious to most people, but still a realistic if irrational fear in my head). And a good time was had by all even if it was a shame we didn’t get to see the film. I think I will try to borrow it from the library

On being woken up by strangers

I fell asleep on the train, only to wake up when an unknown passenger walked past, saw me sleeping and knocked on the window to let me know that we’d arrived at the end of the line. Luckily that was the stop I’d been aiming for.

Thank you, kind stranger, I would have hated waking up at the train depot.

On having so much to write and so little time

I think I’m going to have a writing weekend. I need to get lots of scraps of memories and thoughts and experiences and feelings out of my head and that generally works best when I write.

I don’t have much time to write tho, or at least haven’t been making proper use of the time I could have to write. That’s a problem. The less I write, the more jumpy my mind gets. The jumpier my head, the longer it takes me to do anything and the less time I have left over to do things like writing…

Every so often I open the app in spite of everything and start typing. A few minutes later I close it again, meaning to get back to it later, but not getting enough time to turn it into something “good” or “finished”. My draft folder is filling up while I’m seemingly MIA.

Expect many unpolished posts in the next few days while I go through and press publish.

On being on time by mistake

Most people (I think, probably) arrive on time because they plan to. They have a fairly realistic idea of how long it takes to get somewhere and what they have to do on each side of the journey and they plan accordingly, leaving a buffer for emergencies or unexpected events.

I, on the other hand, have a knack for underestimating how long things take, for not planning for anything like checking my pockets for the umpteenth time or going back to pick up my coat, and for not even thinking about unforseen circumstances, let alone leaving a buffer for them. I get drawn into long conversations 5 minutes before I’m due to set out and struggle to extract myself. I’m good at finding things which really need doing, right before I go anywhere. Like noticing that the plants need watering, or remembering that I wanted to bring something for someone and just have to find it..

As a result I am very often late. Or if not late, then only just on time.

Sometimes though, my lack of planning works in my favour. Sometimes I forget what time I’m supposed to be there. Or remember the wrong time. And then I surprise everyone (and myself) by arriving early. In this particular case 15 minutes before the meeting started, which meant that rather than dashing in at the last minute or sneaking in through the back door and hoping no-one notices or at least isn’t too disturbed by my entrance, I had enough time to say hi to people, go to the toilet, find a seat, get all my papers etc out of my bag and spread over the table, have a drink and sit back to wait for the speaker to commence his speech. No rush. No sneaking. No exasperated sighs. No rolled eyes.

I could get used to that.

I mean, I probably won’t. But I could.

(About a meeting on the 20th April)

On sleeping through seminars

It seems as soon as I enter a lecture theatre I fall asleep..

At the very latest when they turn on the beamer and start talking.

It’s not quite full on sleeping, just dozing off and waking up a few seconds later when my head jolts back up, but it’s frustrating to be completely incapable of listening to someone talk about their research for 40 minutes without falling asleep.

The room wasn’t too warm or too cold, and neither too light nor too dark. The topics were interesting and complicated and the speakers were anything but monotone.

I think I might have a bigger sleep-deficit than I’d imagined..

***

Anyone got any good ideas for staying awake?

On dressing like Barbie in a thunderstorm

As I was getting ready to cycle home in the rain I noticed something a little bit scary…

This is my coat, backpack and rain skirt… and it’s all pink! I also have a purple and white helmet and pink and grey trainers. I suddenly felt more girly than I have in decades..

(I let the thunder and lightning part of the storm pass before venturing out into the rain.)

On the day the world didn’t stop turning

Sometimes, when you’re small and still busy growing up, people tell you not to do certain things because otherwise Bad Things will happen.

Sometimes, many years later, you do those things anyway, and realise that the world doesn’t actually spontaneously combust, or stop turning or fall on your head.

It’s quite a let down in a way. But it’s a welcome let down. I didn’t want to be responsible for the end of the world 😉