Who Gives a Folk?

Are you superstitious?

The other day a friend of mine was complaining of itchy palms. I instantly cooed ‘That means some money will be coming your way.’

I may aswell have been dressed in rags, peering into a crystal ball and asking her to cross MY palm with silver.

I honestly never thought I was very superstitious until I actively caught myself saying the old wives tale with such excitement and what’s more- actually believing it.

The more I thought about it, the more I started recognising these patterns of superstitious belief in my daily actions.

Three drains? Take a step around, don’t be a fool. Itchy sole? You’ll be going somewhere new soon- maybe that nice restaurant you’ve been begging your friends to try. Black cat crossed your path? Crow on the chimney? Omens of the bad, my friend. Take cover and hide until it’s safe.

I don’t even know how half of these have worked their way into being habitual. I just know that somehow over time they have become little silent rules that I have on repeat in the background. Never ending and always present, these little superstitions that guard me from tempting fates cruel hand.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how superstition plays such a big part in every day life, not just for me but for others too. My grandmother, for instance. She has to end a telephone conversation with ‘God Bless.’ Part religion, perhaps- but still. If she doesn’t, she feels a bad sense of foreboding.

Where does this need to do certain things for suspected results come from? Is it the subconscious need to feel more in control of our own destiny than we are, to be masters of our own fate?

As superstitious as I am, something tells me that the downfalls in my life couldn’t have been avoided by stepping around that extra drain. However, I will still make my journeys that little bit longer by doing so, whilst merrily saluting every magpie as I go.

Advertisements

Another Link in the Daisy Chain

photo 2

 

When I was little my mother used to take me to the park nearest to where we lived.

We would sit on the grass and play my favourite game- Cinderella. I was always Cinderella of course- my mother still is a bit sore about having to always be the ugly sister (seriously, she always states the unfairness of my childhood games. After all, can’t adults get a good part?)

I just loved to play Cinderella. Weather it was helping with the dishes or at these instances in the park, slaving away at making endless daisy chains for my ugly stepsister to wear at the ball. In these moments, I was happiest.

Those daisy chains. They’ve haunted me ever since- in the best way. I love them. I have a deep rooted loyalty to these little pops of flowers with their delicately juicy stems and happy yellow hearts, to their beautiful halos of white. They will always hold a pride of place in my memory, taking me back to those long summer days with the gentle lift of breeze. In these moments I had my mother all to myself. I greedily gobbled up these times. In these moments, she wasn’t my stepfathers wife or my brothers mother. She was this beautiful entity of motherly love that was entirely and implicitly mine.

photo 1

These stolen moments, whilst we waited to pick my brother up from big school, or took time out before a doctors appointment to laze in the shade, I think were the makings of our bond. Don’t get me wrong, as the years ticked by and my hormones raged on we fought like cat and dog. Spatulas were thrown, rooms were wrecked in a pubescent rage, mountains shook and the wrath was felt. There were times when we felt more uncomfortable in each others company than Tiger Woods defending his fidelity.

But in another surge of time, things pass and subside. Normal service is resumed. The unthinkable happened- I grew up. I’m proud to say that my mother is my best friend. In fact, she can’t get rid of me. I call her one, two, three times a day for absolutely no reason other than to be comforted by her voice. That’s not to say we don’t have our moments- we do. We are both of a fiery disposition which sometimes leads to us burning holes in each other, but the constant is always there.

We went for a walk today and chose a spot on the grass in a patch of daisies. I made chains, letting my bump soak up the sun. Instead of playing Cinderella we spoke about life- mainly the new one growing inside of me. Where we would hold the christening, who we would invite, what she would wear…what she is going to look like. Having this moment with her to sit and do nothing was priceless, being able to sit side by side  (not just two but almost three) made me even more excited to meet my daughter.

My mother ate as I plugged on at this daisy chain, adding the links systematically.

I am a bundle of hormones, from good to bad- with a big dollop of excited thrown in.

I’m looking forward to meeting the new link in our chain…we’ll love her right from the centre of our bright yellow daisy hearts- although I may hide the kitchen utensils for the next 18 years just to be on the safe side.

The Art of Doing Nothing

 

securedownload

Being Pregnant has taught me many a thing. Allow me to elaborate.

1. Never take normal bladder function for granted. Going to to the toilet every half an hour is highly inconvenient and incredibly costly in terms of toilet paper.

2. Never underestimate the value of a decent pair of shoes. It is true, feet do swell and summer really is the worst time to be carrying the weight of another little soul.

3. Baby brain is a real thing and it is alive and well. Gone are the days where organisation comes second nature. Gone are the days when I could walk upstairs in the house and still remember what I was looking for by the time I reach the top of the stairs. Gone are the days…where was I?

4. There is nothing more blissful, nothing more sacred and more utterly necessary than doing sweet FA.

Before I found out I was a fertile myrtle I was of the opinion, that frankly my life was pretty boring. I’d work, come home, eat and sleep and participate in the rat race of life as we all do. Of a weekend I would see my friends, sink a few wines, dance like it was 1999 and eventually stumble home in the early hours. I felt like my life was pretty standard. To put it in simple terms- I always felt like there was more I should be doing, more I could pack into my evenings and weekends.  If I had no plans in the hours after work I felt a sense of social sadness, and almost even social failure. What was this ‘spare time’? I seemed to have more of it than I liked but I detested it. After all, a busy life is a means of vindication, right?

‘Friends want to see me. I have plans. I’m far too busy to sit at home.’

That was how I thought life should be. Where I got this perception from, I have no idea. I could blame it on social media. The photographs that stream endlessly onto our news feeds, the constant status updates of  ‘I had such a great night last night! I love my friends <3’  that we are all too used to seeing in these displays of social one up man-ship.

My housemate was very socially active, with a wide group of friends and an ever expanding diary. ‘I can do the 15th…but I’m busy for the rest of the month.’

It seems to me than many of us aspire to have that kind of lifestyle, to maintain that level of self righteous popularity- especially in your late teens to mid twenties. It’s almost embarrassing to make plans and reply with ‘I’m free as a bird, I can do any time’, to then be bombarded with a list of dates unsuitable for the other party.

Being a mother to be does change your social life, there’s no doubt about it- especially a single mother to be. Suddenly friends don’t know what to invite you to and what to not invite you to anymore- ‘I wasn’t sure if you would be up to it.’ And most of the time, they are right. Your energy levels deplete. You are incapable of going anywhere that doesn’t have a restroom within arms reach. Alcohol is out and so is dancing- at best you could manage a slow waddle. That’s not to say you’re forgotten about of course. That isn’t the case. They still care, they still pop round, you are still theirs. It is just different.

But, you know what I’ve discovered?

It’s okay. It’s more than okay- it’s delectable to come home from work and be given a reprieve from the go go go of the social scene. You are given a get out of jail free card to sit on your sofa with a plate of strawberries. One hand resting on your bump and another propping up an American Classic. I am a woman liberated from the shackles of ‘I’m running late, I’ll be there as soon as I can!’, of having utter hormone rage in trying to find that perfect outfit that I’m sure I must’ve owned once as there were pictures, and most brilliantly- no more Saturday mornings with my head down the toilet praying to the gods that I’ll never drink again if they offer up some sort of relief.

In retrospect I know now that my life is anything but boring. If anything, I was so caught up in the constant whirring wheel of communal goings on that I couldn’t see the spare minutes ticking by through the trees. I was on a 100% all of the time- I never gave myself a break. If I wasn’t out doing something, anything– I was at home thinking about what I could be out doing. It was a never-ending, sometimes enjoyable but sometimes sadistic way of life. Sailing at full speed whilst never having time to listen to the ocean beneath that carried the boat so effortlessly along.

I used to be so scared, all be it excepting of my own company. I’m not even entirely sure why. I’m sure a fair few therapists would have something to say on the subject.

Now, the really terrifying thing is- Life has never been so good.

Driving Miss Daisy…Crazy

Image

I hopped in a taxi the other day, the same firm that I have used consistently for the past year so.

My parents never drove and this sort of had a domino effect to me, I’ve never really felt the desire or urgency to learn how- although I suspect this may change when I have my little one at the end of the year. I like to walk- I mainly walk everywhere as I loathe to the get public transport. I just hate buses. The smell, the feel of the rough fabric in summer, the awkward ‘Can I sit here’s and the conversations you overhear (Honestly, is nothing sacred?!).

The point being that if I don’t walk, on occasion I will spare the extra few pounds to be able to sit in comfortable peace. I’ve always sort of quietly enjoyed this luxury and the polite chatter with the driver. I’ve had some excellent conversations in the past as a result. I’ve met a self proclaimed reiki healing master who assured me he could cure me of my lifelong migraine condition, a man who had the most amazing tales from his travels in India, a gentleman who did the job as extra income to fund his charity works and many more. I’ve heard great stories on these short journeys of mine- all of which have left me feeling intrigued and generally much happier than I would have been if I had been instead stood on the number 20 with someones armpit in my face.

I had never really had a problem as such until the other day. I was on my way to my grandmothers house to have Sunday lunch with her and my father armed with my 20 week scan photos and in full blooming proud mother mode. The sun was shining (a rarity in these parts). I was ready to enjoy a lazy family Sunday.

Then, it happened.

‘You alright, love?’

‘Yes, I’m fine thank you. How are you?’

‘Not feeling too well today.’

‘That’s a shame.’

‘I called the council the other day, I wanted to go on the sick. They wouldn’t give me nothing. I said to her I should change my *insert expletive here* name to Mohammed, then I’d get everything.’

Oh no. It’s happened. I am stuck in a car with one of them. This was problematic at best. What on earth are you supposed to do when you fall victim to an opinion that you highly oppose when you are trapped in the offenders car? I ran through the options in my head as I sat in stoic silence, as the driver marched endlessly on into the usual tirade of hate.

‘I used to be proud to be British, nothing left for us anymore. They get everything…’ and so on and so forth.

I ran through the options in my head. There was about another ten minutes left on the journey. I could make a stand, ask him to stop and get out of the car. Give him a piece of my mind and tell him that in fact, I’m very proud to be British and part of a country that helps others in need, a country that is a better place for it’s diversity in many way. I could tell him that in fact, they don’t get everything and he should stop reading hoax emails whilst taking them as gospel truth. After all, if it says it on Facebook it must be true. Right?

There were a few problems with this heroic option, one being that I am five months pregnant, it’s a hot day and I was still a couple of miles away from my destination, but the main being- you just don’t know how someone could react and let’s face it, he’s got the upper hand here. He might lock the doors and take me away Nazi Germany with him.

As a woman- and a pregnant one- in that situation, I was highly uncomfortable. I thought it more sensible to bite my tongue and make a note of his taxi number, knowing next time I book to ask for any cab but. The whole situation was extremely awkward, the driver not taking my non responsive attitude as any hint to simply stop speaking or change the subject. He withered on and on with his hate speech for the entire journey, even at one point having the audacity to predict my unborn child’s fate.

‘That baby, that won’t have a future. Won’t be able to get a job.’

I mean really, where do some people get off. At the risk of sounding like a snob- has the line between a taxi being a private hire service and the driver doing you a paid favor blurred? Where has the formality gone? I wouldn’t in a million years ever consider it appropriate to give my store customers an earful of such a controversial and personal nature, neither would I expect it from anyone I didn’t know well enough out of any service industries.

On the subject of immigration itself – to me, it seems a much worse problem to have ignorance plaguing our streets, sowing the seeds of unjustified and uneducated hate.

The most ironic thing of it all, the real icing on top of the callowness cake, was the final thing the driver said to me.

‘Well, if it get’s much worse I’ll be out of here. I’ll move to another country.’

 

 

Janis, Janis, Janis…

20140613-181219-65539953.jpg

I have one sure thing that cheers me up, regardless of what frame of mind I’m in, what my ever raging hormones are doing, or what bill I’ve just remembered I’ve forgotten to pay (baby brain is a real thing.)

I am hopelessly in love with Janis Joplin. Nothing lifts the weight of the world off my shoulders quite as well as kicking my shoes off and flicking my record player on. As soon as I hear the first notes, I can’t help but slip painlessly into a pleasure induced coma of the senses.

For that moment, life is good.

I do know that my bump can now hear me and recognize my voice from inside the womb. I should probably be kinder to her than to subject her to my best Joplin imitation…which really isn’t the best of anything at all. But I just can’t help it.

On a live version of Ball and Chain, Janis talks to the crowd. This is a favourite of mine. In that husky voice she implores the audience to live for today- ‘If you’ve got it today, you’re not going to wear it tomorrow.’

Despite her obvious and legendary destructive habits- you have to admire her lust and passion for life, her idealistic view of how we should live. She may not have taken her own advice, but she definitely left a resounding message. She turned life inside out. From the tone of her voice to the expression in her…well, just all of her.

I’m sure a lot of people would disagree with me and dismiss her as a misguided hippy. Well, take your ears elsewhere heathens- or watch this. Mama Cass’s face says it all.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cats Out of the Bag

 

20140611-172105-62465136.jpg

What can I say. I’m obsessed with cats. I’m surely not the only one to have been in love with these little balls of fluff since an early age. Whether it’s cat pictures, cat videos, cat memes, the sound of cats, the feel of cats…I am just a nutjob for our feline friends.

I have been graced with a couple of furry companions in my life.

The king of them all was Nelson, a beautiful brown tabby cat who we adopted when I was merely a kitten of 4 myself. Nelson was one of a kind. A classic tom cat with a chip on his shoulder and a holier than thou attitude. Did I care one bit that I was drastically allergic to my new best friend?

Not a whisker. He was my partner in crime. We cuddled together, sneezed together and plotted the demise of my elder brother together. He was priceless and irreplaceable. Unfortunately Nelson left me in the summer of 2000, after falling victim to the big C. Sleep tight, brother.

After that, I felt as though there was a void that couldn’t possibly be replaced. My mother for one swore never to let another paw step foot in the house again. A promise she kept to this day. (She did however attempt to keep budgies, which perished at the bottom of the cage after a failed attempt at coitus. It was a tragic affair worthy of Shakespeare himself).

Nelson definitely left one thing undying behind him. He had ignited in me a lifelong passion for these animals. As I previously mentioned, it is merely an inconvenience that I am terribly allergic. A cruel twist of fate that sees me sneeze painfully in succession until my brain threatens to dribble out of my nose, and my eyes itch to the point of blindess. Do I let this stop me from going googly over every pretty kitty I meet? Hell no.

In just over two weeks time me and my little girl bump will be greeting a new feline friend into the bosom of our family. Meet Dot.

20140611-171409-62049343.jpg

 

The only white kitty in an otherwise jet black litter. I’m sure Dot and I will get on famously.

Apart from taking this post as what it clearly is- a crazed rambling confession of love for cats- I guess you could also take a higher meaning from it if you were so inclined.

Sometimes you need to suffer a little to get the good things in life. Even if it means you will be on Benadryl for the rest of your life.

Paws out, kitten lovers.

A little slice of paradise

This time two years ago I was dipping my feet into these crystal clear waters and escaping the rat race of UK life.

Well. That’s not entirely true. I went to work a summer season for a small sailing company on the Greek island of Lefkada…never having set foot on a boat, unless you count one moored up to Bristol Habour with a bar in it which brought about a whole new meaning to sea legs.

I applied for the administrators position after finding it advertised on an internet website, on the back of yet another argument with my boyfriend at the time. Two days and an awkward phone interview later I had been offered the position and had packed my bags. My parents and friends and family thought I was insane…in retrospect insane is a kind word.

The advertisement stated that the small but expanding English run family business was looking for an administrator to the principal of the sea school. Someone to help design websites, organize files and generally be the office dogsbody. Fantastic. Sign me up and call me Popeye. If I can be an office dogsbody in the UK sure as hell I can do it in 30 degree heat.

Oh, I thought my life was going to be a sea breeze.

The reality was quite different.

Do you know what they don’t tell you about working in the tourist sector abroad? It’s that you work ten times harder, do ten times the work and get paid ten times less. The luxury is the weather and…well. The weather and the cheap wine, which I can tell you is a lethal combination and was ultimately my downfall.

I have never been able to handle my drink well. Combine that with heat, with unlimited bar tabs and the holiday atmosphere, I was a catastrophic mess. I’d like to look back and think I was a brooding, dark and mysterious drunk genius, likened to Edgar Allen Poe. Spending hours alone at secluded table at the yacht club, whispering to myself. In reality however, I was a cross between Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith, with probably less grace.

535743_3425170601836_1725317058_n

 

See figure above. This was the beginning of the end. This particular night, I got so drunk on a mixture of Jaeger bombs and wine that I fell down concrete stairs, tried to sleep with my boss, adamantly refused to be taken home or subdued and tried to climb out of the car window, flashed my boobs and ordered a drink with such gusto that even Paula Abdul would be left red-faced. Rinse, repeat and puke again several more times in the next few months.

It really was the ultimate car crash of a holiday season that lead to a circling depression that eventually saw me running back to the UK on the next plane with my tail between my legs and a still ever present hangover.

I suppose on the two year anniversary of my Greek Island Dream Death it has left me feeling a little nostalgic and a little bit…entirely baffled by the whole experience. Especially now, with my own little girl rapidly growing in my buddha belly…I can only think one thing.

I wish I’d stayed at bloody home and just spent the summer reading Homer’s Odyssey instead.