FB has annoyed me for the last time, I will continue to update photos on there – as it is easier than Flixster or whatever else options there are so you can see what we are doing. But I am sick of learning how to use it, then getting the hang of it, for them to change where they put things, so I have to learn everything ALL over again. It drives me mad, at least with Windows updates they come along every couple of years or so, not every few months. So I am taking my social networking elsewhere. My life is too short to faff-arse about with it anymore.
Anyhoo, I went to see Antoinette yesterday, I have been to see her every week for the past month, which is unusual, but I have been really struggling with my back and aching all over, she told me last week that I have had a flu/virus run through me. So she has prescribed me sleep, vitamin C, lots of veggies and swimming to help shift it. Unusual combination, but she also said I needed to take a day off next week and stay in bed, and to sleep when I need to over the weekend. So I had a lovely 3 hour siesta this afternoon. I lay there dozing and listening to an audio book, The Cat Who Blew The Whistle (if you are interested). Lilian Jackson Braun’s lovely little stories about Moose County and Pickax, I have blogged about them before, as when I first got out here I read loads of them from the libraries I belong to, found another lot to download from Audiobooks and generally wallowed in
Qwill and his companions Koko and Yum Yum. More from wanting a cat than living in a converted apple barn, or small town America, but I love these gentle books.
Catherine who I used to work with in Waterstones couldn’t understand why I wanted to read so many American books, I wasn’t consciously choosing them. I choose books for so many reasons:
* I have been recommended them
* I read a review of it
* It is on a 3 for 2, yes over here too, and I find 2 I want to read and need to make up the third
* I love the author – AS Byatt, John Irving, Wilde, Waugh and Woodehouse are a few who I am collecting at the moment
* I love the cover, not the back, the cover
* It is ‘further reading’ in another book
* and, as Gareth has pointed out – if Oprah recommends it, I will often pick it up.
If I read the back of a book and it tells me a bit about the story, I will alphabetise it away in my bookshelf and leave it there till I can’t remember anything about it, then pick up the book, ‘open’ it up (for those who have seen me with a brand new book, you will know what I mean, for those who haven’t and want an explanation let me know) and start to read. I use a bookmark (usually a Pixar postcard), I no longer fold my pages over, but with any book, if a passage speaks to me in an a-ha! moment, I will underline it, or highlight it.
I have said this before and I will say it again, I don’t know how anyone can have a living room without books in it. I love the complete, surrounding feeling of reading something that takes you out of your world completely into another place, then someone will to talk to you; you look up with eyes that don’t see, as you are so caught up in what you are reading. There is simply nothing like it, and for those who don’t read, I wonder how you function.
People wonder how I manage with so many books on the go at one time, but I can remember having to share books with my parents and brother, with 4 different book-marks in one book as we all tried to read it at the same time. Like most school children, I had assigned reading: Lord Of The Flies, Animal Farm (more in a minute), Hamlet, Sons & Lovers (God awful, don’t bother), Wide Sargasso Sea and others that left such an impression on me, I can’t remember them at all. But Patrick and I also had pretty much free reign to read whatever we wanted to from the library, I can’t remember Mum and Dad censoring anything we read. I read 1984 recently, despite me reading Animal Farm for my GCSE’s I could still recognise George Orwell’s voice in the first few paragraphs. Yes I have read a lot of books, but I will re-read and re-read more than I will try out new ones, so I have a lot of passages in my head, verbatim, sometimes this is a good thing, othertimes it isn’t. But as Eliza Dolittle and Helene Hanff says in St Paul’s, ‘I bet I got it right’ when she stands in John Donne’s cathedral. You never know when you are going to need:
* ‘Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown’
* ‘Worst fears realised darling seth and reuben too send gumboots’
* ‘Spring, winter, and fall run into each other
I hope where you are it is one endless summer’
And 5 points for those who know where they come from…
However, I am happier in second hand bookshops than ‘new’ bookshops. I get twitchy when people stand too close to me anyway, let alone when I am rummaging around for books which are so personal a purchase. In a second hand bookshop, etiquette means that if someone is looking at a shelf, you will look somewhere else until they have finished; in Borders or wherever, it is a bun fight to get what you want, get out as quickly as possible and it drives me mad, but I do wonder how many times store detectives follow me around as I carry a book around a shop for an hour before putting it back because I changed my mind. If I get flustered in a shop, I will just leave without buying anything, I would rather not bother doing it at all than come home with something I don’t want if I have felt hurried or rushed while buying it. It is a bit like me getting onto escalators, I don’t like getting on them if there are lots of people around, how I coped in the underground daily now amazes me as I struggle to get on them over here. Yes, I am one of those people who have to measure the right step to get on them, I am sorry.
Today Dan and I went on a recce for wedding dress shops, now before you start, we were standing outside them finding shops that Renee and I could visit in a couple of weeks where we didn’t need an appointment. I only have a few weeks to find a store that I feel comfortable in, as Mum and I only have ONE DAY to find a dress when they are out here in April, and I need to be able to go to a shop I feel happy in and choose said frock. But plans are afoot about the whole wedding anyway, but I will let you know more when I have spoken to Mum and Dad tomorrow.
I hate shopping, I hated it in the UK when at least I knew if I wanted work trousers to go to Next or Principals, if I wanted a funky top to go to Miss Selfridge, I knew where to get my smellies in Boots and Superdrug, I knew where I could go shopping for shoes (which as you know is not easy). But over here, I have to learn everything all over again, I have had to start from scratch. I have had to find somewhere to cut my hair, which on my second try (third cut) looks like I have found someone, (although I haven’t blow dried it well since it was done on Wednesday, but that is me not Liza), I have a nice GP, but no dentist and I don’t particularly like my optician either. While I have found that I can buy like for like in the supermarkets over here, I miss Waitrose and Marks & Spencer’s veggies. Coles and Woolworths vegetables are ok, no more than that, despite being in the fridge, celery wilts like my molten candles did in the heat, tomatoes can have caterpillars crawling out of them, berries disintegrate within days and avocados are either bullet hard or squishy and off. It drives us both mad, but even if we go to a green grocer, we have the same problem. One shopping trip I also stood in front of the 28 million bacon options and freaked at too much choice, I physically couldn’t pick anything up as I couldn’t see what I wanted, Dan had to get some for me. There aren’t the strata of supermarkets here that there are in the UK, if you want pre-packed crap you go to ASDA or Tesco, if you want nicer food you go to Sainsburys, Waitrose or M&S. There is simply no distinction over here, I even miss the taste of free-range, organic eggs. They don’t taste the same, so I prefer scrambled to anything else as I can add things to the eggs to help with the taste. I know I will get used to it; I know that I have only been here 6 months; I also know that if we got up early on a Saturday morning we could go to the markets, but even there, there are so many people I get flustered about what I want.
This first became a problem for me when I was in my early 20s, I was covered in dermatitis, and I mean covered. My skin was red, itchy and flaking. I was seeing my GP twice a week, I would carry my prescriptions out in carrier bags from the chemist. I would have special soap, bath soak, shampoo, lotion for my skin, lotion for my scalp, a permanent prescription for steroids, hydro-cortisone creams and so on. I can remember being in a queue in Edinburgh for tickets for a bus tour, when someone stood too close too me behind me, when I moved forward to stand next to my Aunt and flat mate, they moved forward too. I could feel the heat of panic rising in my stomach, up my chest, I got flushed, hot and flustered, I stood sideways, they still stood too close to me. By now my chest had tightened and it was all I could do to breathe, I thought they were looking at my skin, judging me on my appearance – something I hate even now – of course they just wanted to get to the counter as soon as they could, but before I really knew what was happening I had to get out the shop and leave, get air, get space and try and stop the hot tears that were spilling over.
I am physically very clumsy, I fall over things, bump into others, I am covered in little bruises, my GP actually advised Mum and Dad to take me swimming to help my co-ordination, it didn’t, I was just naturally a good swimmer. I still will stumble over a piece of paper, fall down a kerb, knock over my glass at the table, send the pepper flying, stutter my words or not be able to get them out at all and will blush at the most inopportune moments. I am also conscious I am not very girlie, I didn’t spend my formative teenage years playing with my long hair and make up, so while I am happy with how I apply make up, I still have no idea what to do with long hair (remind me why I am growing it again), I have a mental picture of me as skinny while I was swimming inside my head, so hate my belly (more later), I hate my feet for being so big I can’t find shoes to fit me. My work shoes are wearing out, and I am dreading going shopping for a new pair over here.
When Mark left, I stopped eating, it is my body’s way of coping with stress, funny way of doing it, but I can’t chew, or swallow anything in extreme stress. I lost a lot of weight and quickly, but wasted away, so even though I was bigger than I am now, my belly was flat, although it was rounder. I hope this makes sense, I now have a pouch, which I never had before my divorce, while I am looking forward to spending time with Renee shopping for a dress, I am also hating it, because she always looks so well groomed, she is also so dainty, everything I am not, I feel like a heffalump next to her.
Dan, bless and God love him, reminds me daily that he loves my curves and bum, tells me that I am beautiful and so on, but when you think ‘I look ok today’, then see photos of you taken on that day and realise you look a mess, it is a bit disheartening. I wonder if I will ever be happy with myself? Or are we so conditioned to what is the ‘ideal’ we always feel frustrated about the reality. Maybe this is why I love books so much, I can escape into another world for a short period of time, certainly when I was really struggling with Mark and the marriage (no longer ‘our’ marriage) I read and re-read EF Benson’s Mapp & Lucia, to the exclusion of everything else. I felt safe watching Lucia, Georgie and Elizabeth Mapp’s battle of wills over tea parties and bridge, I didn’t feel safe in what was supposed to be home.
Eckhart Tolle reminded me on Tuesday that enlightenment is saying ‘Yes’ to what is. Accepting the is-ness of now, is what you need to remind yourself daily to shut the voice off inside your head. I am hoping that by typing this out today, my ego ranting about how ungainly and clumsy I am, I don’t need to think about it again. I am fed up of being the overweight, shy, unhappy in my skin person that I have lived with since my teenagers, I want to be me, the person I am when you take everything else away, the person that my best friends see when they look at me. Not the person I see when I look at me.
More work and patience required methinks.