All right, all right, I have almost let this blog die in the last four months or so (and was barely keeping it alive for some time before that). I’ve been thinking about what it’s for, and haven’t come to any world-shattering conclusions except that I would like it to remain a rag-bag of depression and its temporary remission, strange experiences I have had and funny things I have seen and heard. There may be a new, bigger, all singing and dancing blog emerging some time next year but first Christmas has to happen, and it won’t unless I make it (although The Grouch, bless him, does most of the Christmas cooking which lifts a great burden off my often tense shoulders).
In the meantime, I just have to share with you two recent Freecycle offers I encountered:
First, ‘OFFERED: Quarter size violin in case’. In case of what, I wonder? The sudden arrival of a midget violinist?
And second, and to quote Teresa May I am really not making this up: ‘OFFER: Two colourful poufs’. I could certainly do with those to brighten up my house! Can they come for Christmas and entertain my guests?
What to say? The funeral went well, with nearly 100 people there, but I think we are all still recovering (especially The Grouch who had to plan the whole thing). Since then we have had our last church lunch at the London Mennonite Centre before it closes, which was painful; I have preached again on Bible characters facing change (Lot and Hagar this time); I have had several downs but always managed to get up again (cue Chumbawamba…); we have failed to procure home tuition for Genius Brat but we have got local authority transport to get him to school, which is a great relief as otherwise it would be two buses and two walks. And we have managed to get him at least twice a week to his voluntary work by dint of paying him for it (he is saving up for a new computer since his last one exploded, projecting ball bearings everywhere).
My sleep has been all over the place but this is largely due to my being a dirty stopout – I had three interesting musical experiences in as many weeks:
First was an Elvis impersonator who was quite good but very loud – we left at the interval. I’m not into Elvis anyway but it was a fundraiser for the local autism group and I thought I’d see people I knew there, which I didn’t (the audience seemed to be entirely made up of the Elvis impersonator’s fans, all women of a certain age…)
Second up was an evening listening to Botown, a group who do ‘Bollywood soul’ and who are mates of my Pakistani friend’s husband. Bollywood soul seems to consist of a soul-style backing with lots of brass, and Bollywood style Indian singing on top. Actually it was a surprisingly fun evening, though I was in a very small white minority in the audience! And it was too loud as well, though not as loud as Elvis.
Third (and best) was the opening night of the Meltdown Festival at the South Bank, this year curated by Ray Davies (he of the Kinks and the lovely legs). So of course it had to open with Ray and his current band doing all the old Kinks singles (and fining himself 5p for charity every time he said ‘Kinks’). Also too loud, but fabulous fun especially as he encouraged us all to sing along (which also happened at the Botown gig but I couldn’t oblige as all the songs were in some Indian language). Of course I knew all the words…
Why do all these events have to be so loud? They are all attended by a distinctly middle aged audience, and I doubt if any of them want it so loud. The music is so much better when you don’t have to stick your fingers in your ears… My friend had £150 ear defenders – I think if I continue to relive my youth at this rate, I will need some too.
This will be long. Just warning you.
1. Good news
1.1 I got the electronic version and the typescript of the book off to the editor. No response yet, but no news is good news.
1.2 Genius Brat went off to stay with his little friend and friend’s mum in Devon, and then they all went off to Centre Parcs (but not before Genius Brat had been picked up by an 11 year old girl in the park, which had been duly discouraged).
1.3 This meant The Grouch and I could go off for five clean days in Brighton, after I had led worship on the Sunday (which stopped us going for a whole week as soon as Genius Brat had gone).
1.4 All of us had a good time on our respective holidays.
1.5 Best news of all: we arrived back to find an email telling us Genius Brat has been awarded a place in the autistic spectrum unit at a mainstream school, which we had asked for. This is really a miracle, as they were only creating two 6th form places in the unit and there were already at least two other kids interested.
1.6 We had a very busy but good weekend: me at a book launch on Sat, with the couple from the US who founded our congregation (sadly not ‘funded our congregation’ as I typed first…!). Sunday, a church lunch, also with this couple, then a lovely service, then a question and answer session with aforementioned couple, who are very important to our church’s history. Then a party to celebrate 40 years of one very special lady’s history with the Mennonite Centre and the church. And lots of people from the church’s past attending one or more of these events.
1.7 I’m on Premier Radio on Friday morning, and speaking at Christian Resources Exhibition on 11th May, both about my depression book (Crying for the Light), of which I have discovered the publishers still have 500 copies so it’s still worth plugging it.
1.8 We have another busy weekend ahead, with a church awayday on Saturday and a civil partnership celebration on Sunday.
2. Not such good news
2.1 We weren’t sure till the last minute whether the special lady could come out of hospital to attend the party, as she is dying of cancer. The good news is that she was able to come and take part fully, and that we were able to sit round her and share memories of her, and tell her nice things about herself while she was still with us.
2.2 She has moved to a hospice today, and we don’t think we’ll have her for much longer. And her husband and 20 year old daughter, both much beloved of our church, both died of cancer within the last 8 years. As you can guess, our party with her was very emotionally moving.
2.3 Much less importantly, I weighed myself after coming back from Brighton, and I weigh as much as I did when 9 months pregnant. Time to engage in some Lenten discipline, methinks.
Well, here I am again, and whaddyaknow, I haven’t blogged for three weeks. No idea what’s been happening, except that it was more stuff that happens.
Actually, I do have a few ideas. Genius Brat, the Grouch and I paid a visit (my second but their first) to a possible new sixth form for GB, in a school which has a unit for kids on the autistic spectrum and which is just about to take the first sixth formers in the unit. As well as being about to have a fantastic new sixth form building built, supposedly by June although at the moment it’s a car park with no signs of building. We all loved the place – the downside is that they only have two places in the unit on offer and there are already at least two kids interested. I’ve alerted the local authority to our desire for him to go there, and the admissions panel meets on March 15th. We need a miracle – please! By the way the unit is headed by a lovely woman who knew GB when he was little, as her son was in Montessori with him. It all comes around… he got his statement of special needs in the first place because the head of the borough’s autism team had a kid in Montessori with him. I’m afraid it’s not what you know, it’s who… (or should I be correct and say ‘whom’?)
What else? I did some more, rather sporadic, work on the book – now almost finished Chapter 8 of a possible nine or ten. I continued to visit the ‘just right’ therapist and more or less keep up with the homework she gives me. It does seem to be helping, although I have had a few dips – but overall, this is the longest that I’ve felt mostly well, for ages. And last weekend I went on retreat to the gorgeous seventeenth century house with the lake and the great library and and fabulous desserts. While I was there I think I really made a breakthrough on some things that have been bothering me a long time. They may well come up and bother me again, but I think I know what to say to them next time. Must go back there again soon, I failed to finish a good novel from their library and I want to finish it before I forget what it was all about!
Other updates: my mother is well and up to her old tricks of trying to run my life; hubby and I have decided to have a monthly date; kid is volunteering every day this week which is a big improvement on his playing computer games all day. Hope I can get him to continue after the end of the week. And I need to book a holiday. Don’t let me forget, will you?
Oh dear. Another month gone and I haven’t blogged. I do have some good excuses however. On New Year’s Eve my 95 year old mother went into hospital with severe breathlessness and ended up being there for two weeks, with what turned out to be multiple embolisms (or emboli? Never sure which is right) on her lungs. This, hardly surprisingly, took up a great deal of our time and energy. However she has now been home over two weeks, dismissed her carers because there was nothing for them to do, and is generally back to her old charming, lovable and interfering self.
Meanwhile in early January we had a meeting with son’s school and decided he would not be returning there for the time being. The first thought was that we could get home tuition for him, especially if we asked for something really expensive like a specialist residential school, which would make home tuition look comparatively cheap to the local authority. Since then, however, we have talked to his psychiatrist, who is very against home tuition, and I have also visited an autistic spectrum unit at a not-too-far-away secondary school and loved it. I have also started to research specialist residential schools and they look very enticing. So now we are not at all sure what we want, but his case went to panel last week and we are waiting to hear what they have decided. It is not easy living with this degree of uncertainty. He does have one voluntary job for a few hours once a week, but he really needs to get back into a routine, leave the house regularly, and do something other than playing computer games all day. And I need some time alone to continue writing my book which is getting dangerously close to the deadline.
So all in all, life is as complicated as ever. Not to mention the other commitments I am trying to get out of in order to concentrate on the book. At least things are going well with the new therapist, especially as she has agreed not to give me more homework until I have consolidated the last lot.
Watch this space…
OK, OK, so I haven’t blogged for three weeks. A certain busy period called Christmas came along, and I was busy making it happen (Christmas does not happen in our house unless I make it). Unbelievably, I still have the cold which started at the end of November. Added to that, I fell flat on my back on the ice on Boxing Day, hit my head hard, and now ache in places where I didn’t know I had places. Please don’t tell my mother, or she’ll have me off to an orthopaedic consultant in seconds.
Apart from all that, Christmas was actually pretty good. No presents are going back to the shops, Genius Brat (whom I am thinking of re-christening The Grouchlet), even liked some of the crap presents I bought him, and both meals (we do double Christmas, Austrian on Christmas Eve and British on Christmas Day), went well. The Grouch as usual did all the cooking, bless him, and I did everything else: 90 cards, all the presents except my own, the tree (though he bought it this year), most of the wrapping, and keeping everybody from each other’s throats. Though actually with only four of us, everybody is a pretty small crowd – which probably increases the risk of throat-grabbing.
Anyway, I’m now enjoying the slack days in between Christmas and New Year, and getting up at midday most days. I blame the dodgy back – not feeling up to tackling the January sales. Also I have already spent lots of money on the online fairtrade sales. Must be feeling good – I always spend more money when I am not depressed.
Psych appointment next Thurs – thinking about a medication change. Although this is a bad time of year to do it.
PS From Freecycle recently: ‘TAKEN: ice axe’. Ready for a Christmas murder? And ‘WANTED: Baby hangers’ doesn’t sound too good either.
Today I encountered this notice:
‘Wanted: white wooden baby changer’.
Well yes, I suppose if you had a white wooden baby you might want to change it for a more responsive one… (or even one of a different colour).
As you may have guessed, I am feeling somewhat better, after a weekend with a wonderful wedding (of someone called Will, as it happens), followed by my reading poems at a mental-health-themed cabaret (and being treated as a ‘famous guest’!), then the next day by a church lunch, a service in the soon-to-be-sold (and much to be lamented) London Mennonite Centre, and then a trip to the pub with various church friends (described by The Grouch as ‘Mum and Dad are having a bit of a jolly’ when he rang to let our son know we’d be late).
Gosh, that was a long sentence! That was to make up for the fact that I didn’t get back to my book today, but I assure you that I will tomorrow. Today I just did various admin and domestic tasks. This is considerably better than last week when I did almost nothing, every day.
PS I cried buckets at the wedding. Not sure this is entirely a good thing.
Just posted a really grouchy comment on someone else’s blog about my husband (I mean the comment was about my husband, not the blog – why would someone else be blogging about my husband? that would be really worrying). I expect he’ll start reading my blog again now and will find this out. Sorry.
I am not doing very well just now. My therapist wants me to walk at least 10 mins five times a week. Since I last saw her I have swum once (with a lot of walking afterwards), walked to choir and then to opticians, had one day with no exercise at all, and managed a 10 minute walk round the block today. So that’s three in four days – not too bad. I still don’t feel any better though – have been feeling absolutely crap since yesterday. Getting homework out of son is getting worse and worse. I think we need to speak to the school again. Except that all they do is suggest more things we have to do. Why can’t the teachers tackle this? I don’t pay my taxes so as to educate him myself…
Report on my brilliant media career: the brief interview I was expecting to give to Premier Radio, turned out to be a one hour phone in, which involved me in talking to various sad women who called in and wanted to tell me all about their mental health problems. I felt very inadequate in my answers, but mostly they seemed to just want to talk. One of them even wanted to read out her poem, which turned out to be not at all bad. And at least the presenter plugged my book about every five minutes, which is bound to boost sales a bit. I have also kept my list of the names of all those who phoned in, so I can pray for them, which will make me feel better about not solving their problems.
Then presenter and I rushed off in a cab to the poetry prizegiving. As the competition is in memory of Jack Clemo, who was Cornish and very much a poet of the Cornish landscape (in spite of being deaf and blind), we had the Lord Lieutenant of London, who has Cornish connections, giving a long and dull speech about some Cornish event. There was also a little man from the Cornish Society, who looked like a pixie.
The buffet lunch was surprisingly good, especially the desserts of which I sampled four (in very small portions). And I think the poems were ok, though I always find it hard to tell when they’re read out, and I lent my little leaflet with the three winnning poems in it to someone else and didn’t get it back. Still, it was fun and I met several people I hadn ‘t seen for years, which was very pleasant and put me in a better mood than I have been in for some weeks. What joy it is being a literary lounger.
And today I finally went swimming, then met a friend for lunch and listened for a considerable time to the story of her husband having a breakdown, leaving her, coming back and leaving again. Which was very sad, but I hope it did her some good to talk about it.
PS Son finally did finish his Film Studies essay, going from ‘I think FS is not the right subject for me’ to ‘I think I’ll specialize in one aspect of film’, in less than half an hour.
Well, I was going to go swimming yesterday but by the time I had written my column for February and had a nearly two-hour assessment appointment with a local counselling centre, telling my entire life story and that of two generations of ancestors, there was no time left. I did plan to go to the lovely café just opposite the pool and have a naughty cake, but when I’d trekked there in the rain it turned out to have closed early for half term.
So, I planned to go swimming today instead, but having spent the morning fruitlessly trying to get son to finish his Film Studies essay, and then messed about on the computer to make myself feel better, by the time I got out of the house I was too hungry and had to go and get lunch first (at the lovely café which was now open). Then I had to sit and let lunch go down a bit, and then I walked over to the gym and guess what? The women’s changing room was closed today because a maintenance man was in there. So instead of swimming I went and bought a pair of new winter shoes which I’ve been eying for some time. Which is against my principle of always buying shoes in the end of season sale, and putting them in a cupboard for next year when the current pair will have worn out. Instead of which I paid full price, even though there were much cheaper shoes that would have done, but I didn’t like them as much. Too bad – at least I end up with shoes I actually like. And walking to the shoe shop made up for not going swimming.
Tomorrow I am not going to try to go swimming, because I’m on Premier Radio in the morning and then going to a poetry competition prize-giving at lunchtime (with Cindy who is interviewing me on Premier and happens also to be going to the prize-giving). Tune in about 11.00 and you should hear me droning on about being depressed.
PS I also put my computer glasses in for new lenses on my way out today, which means that I am now typing this wearing my varifocals, and can only see by tilting my head back and looking down my nose at the screen, thus giving the impression that I think I am superior to my computer.