Tuesday, August 30, 2005

well, that was a pretty crap bank holiday weekend
TA and I continued to patch things up via tearful, long-distance, late-night calls once it became clear that neither of us could fly to the other one's side this weekend. I hung out with my friends and family, whch was pretty nice really, not crap at all...and then my aunt died. Not unexpected, a release actually, but still feel very lonely and despondent now and would much prefer to be elsewhere.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

by request
The new place then, badger hovel C or the sett (it's got to be hasn't it, what other word is there for where badgers live?) what's it like? Well, it's a third-floor (fourth-floor if you're American), top-floor flat with the usual number of rooms (four) and a view of the Gherkin from the bedroom window (but no lift). It's not far from the Old Kent Road - which is funny because that's the road I always bought first when I played Monopoly, never quite twigging that it was a down-at-heel dive - and there is an enormous Tesco's two minutes' walk away. The development was built in the mid 1980s out of yellowish brick and is a bit toytown-ish and suburban, with all the good and bad traits that implies. The flat itself is clean, habitable, has been well-maintained and has access to loft storage. No one outside of London could begin to comprehend how rare these features are at the arse end of the inner-city housing market. I have seen some real, terrifying Dickensian horrors during this eight-month flat hunt, with higher asking prices and in rougher areas, natch.

in the eye of the hurricane?
The good ship that is my marriage took a thorough beating in a tropical storm yesterday. We're both safely back onboard and looking around thinking "crikey, how did we make it through that?" We're still assessing the damage, but are grateful that so far we seem to have survived relatively unscathed. TA may need to book a stay in the infirmary for a while though, which is difficult since he's literally overseas right now. All of which makes this musing about the new place bitter-sweet. *change in metaphor alert* I had cherished such intoxicating dreams about how we would live in the sett, alone again at last after years of sharing, but have now sobered up and find myself with a raging hangover and an awful lot of stairs to climb. The sett may be all that I dreamed it could be, but to stand any chance of achieving that we are both going to have to work extremely hard over the next few months.
Was wearing a lifejacket and am treading water, but things are not great right now. More than that I cannot post about, although it may appear here at a later date in oblique form, once the tidal wave has subsided and the iceberg melted. Roll on home time. Blogs are funny things - the more people that know about them the less one can write in them and sometimes this one would like to write the most blisteringly honest and raw things just to get them out, but of course since I've been so open in telling friends and family (and making real-life friends of readers) that avenue of expression and anonomous communication is closed to me. I need another blog!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

steady as she goes
Things on the new flat front, for which sooner or later I will need to think of a nom de blog*, are crawling along nicely. I get the impression that even the speediest, most straightforward of property purchases goes slowly, with long periods of waiting followed by even more long periods of waiting.
TA's absence is most noticable in our bedroom (please avoid the nudge-nudge, wink-wink response) - suddenly, it is immaculately tidy and will soon be immaculately clean as well. Before you jump to conclusions this is not because I am neat as a pin and he's a slob. I'm finding it hard to fill my evenings and early mornings so I tidy up, I make the bed, I listen to Radio 4 and I read books, my legs are hair-free and my face is glowing from baths and face masks. I have already cooked my dinners for the week (healthy, economical, tasty and yet slightly dull; yes it's a bucket-load of veggie chilli) and have planned my packed lunches and breakfasts (it's worse than Bridget Jones isn't it?). I'm exercising in the evening and stretching in the morning. I need to find the creative space to write more, but otherwise things are going well. My dance card is filling up and next week is going to be busy. The odd thing is TA and I don't really do much in the evenings - I can't quite work out where all these extra hours have come from.
I'm heading down to the Isle of Wight for a four-day mini-break on Friday evening. My last trip consisted almost exclusively of my parents taking me out for pub lunches, car boot sales and restaurant dinners. On one memorable day I had pie (chicken and ham) for lunch, pie (apple and raspberry) for pudding and bought a slow cooker on the way back to the car and then later ate wild boar for the first time. Blogging will not be high on the agenda; eating, sleeping, walking, talking and thinking will. I might even manage to squeeze in some pre-dawn skinny dipping, which is a bit of an end-of-summer tradition for me (and, weirdly, my mum who has joined me a few times in previous years).
Finally, since you've ploughed through so much stream-of-consciousness fluff and dross, recently I've been wondering about whether or not I really do want children as much as I have claimed. TA nearly fell off his chair when I told him I've been thinking that perhaps I'm not so keen on the idea after all. Pretty much since I was old enough to ovulate my biological clock has been ticking loudly and I've been planning a big (in numbers, not obese) family. "One on each hand, one on each breast and one on the way" used to be my mantra. And then, out of the blue, I suddenly started thinking "why do I want this and if I was to have children what other opportunities would I lose?" Having a family, of any size, requires a number of sacrifices. I suppose I'm beginning to wonder if those sacrifices are too big a price to pay. Very strange though to have one's long-cherished aspirations simply evaporate.
* Suggestions welcome, although I'm leaning towards the iconic "the sett".

Monday, August 22, 2005

two candles
Try as I might, I can't quite think of what to say to mark the UB's second birthday. I guess it's still a baby. Jelly and ice cream for everyone; let's play pass the parcel.
Back in the real world, I survived waking up and getting myself to work alone more or less unscathed. I've written a list of things I'd like to do while TA is away and I'm feeling a little braver than yesterday. How did I manage so many years as a single girl?
and then there was one
As I type, TA is flying across the Atlantic on his way to Montreal. He'll be there for a month, perhaps longer. Half of me wants him to stay until Christmas - good money, career advancement, networking, CV bolstering... But the other half of me desperately wants him home. Now, for preference. I waved goodbye earlier this afternoon, shut the door, fled to our room and cried. I'm such a softie. If previous trips are anything to go by, day by day this will get easier until after a week or two I'll be positively revelling in the space and time alone, but at the moment I feel unconsolable and bereft. I keep wandering from room to room not knowing quite what to do with myself. I picked up a book and put it down again; I haven't got the patience or attention span to read. I rang American K, but she's out of the house helping to deliver another friend's baby (that sense of perspective helped for about five minutes). I just want my husband home. I never know whether it's worse to be the one going or the one left behind. I should stop typing now shouldn't I? Or change the subject.
House stuff is moving on - I've instructed a solicitor, the mortage paperwork will be filled in tomorrow. Meanwhile, here at Badger Palais, Housemate D has found a new flat and will be moving - not a moment too soon - on Monday and Housemate M is off to Europe for a month or two. It will be very quiet around here for the next few weeks.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Home is the place I share with you. Do you remember when we were first dating and we shared that tiny bedsit – eating our meals on a low table sitting on Moroccan cushions? – at first it was a struggle to define ourselves and our relationship, but very quickly that space became home to me. It became home because it was where we loved each other to the exclusion of almost everything else. Food was prepared, dishes were washed, the bed was made, we read, we talked, we fell asleep to music; everything was about togetherness. Not cloying or sticky sweet, even in that tiny space there were spaces between us, but a togetherness that was as strong as a steel girder and as flexible as a willow tree sapling. A togetherness that has nourished us since in the years of difficulty that followed. That is what I want for our new home; this little slice of property that will have our names attached to it. Are you thinking the same thoughts? Do you share the same dreams and optimism?
Already, before the ink is out of the bottle let alone dry, I am trying to imagine practicalities. How will we use the space and how will the way we live be defined by it. The view from your desk, where you spend so many hours of every day, will change once again. The view from our bed when I look up from the book I’m reading will be different – once upon a time I looked up and saw your multi-gym and the wall hangings that told me that for all your self-nourishment you were merely camping out here; then it was the room where there were white, wooden-framed square window panes looking out on to green trees that reminded me of a college or a nunnery, a retreat – I loved that view and was so sad when the builders shrouded our windows with green gauze for months without end; when the bed was in Badger Mansions the view said broken promises and blocked ambitions, as this was supposed to be my sanctuary, but we never achieved it and in hindsight we were never all that happy or successful there; most recently I have looked up from my side of the bed and seen the beautiful framed photograph of a prism on the page of a book – the wonder of light and shadow – that was a birthday gift many years ago and also your desk and all that it has come to symbolise, that desk is a millstone, no? I shall be glad when we don’t have to sleep with it any longer.
Home is more than sights it is also sounds and, perhaps most importantly, home has an aroma. I hope that our new home is restful and nourishing. There won’t be the intrusion of singing practice any more and when we shut the door it will be a barrier to the world outside in a way that has not been possible during the flat-share years. What will the perfume of our home say? With top notes of whatever I am cooking, the aroma of our home will welcome weary travellers with the promise of nourishment. The middle notes will be of bee’s wax polish, herbs and spices; this is our home and we cherish it. As to the base notes, I’m not sure that there will be anything more than the fresh air you’ll insist on letting blow through day and night.
Please kind sir, spare some change for a one-bedroom flat? Our offer has been accepted. Now I have to figure out how we're going to raise the funds. Cheques and postal orders accepted, as they say, every little helps.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

under pressure
Please think of the Queen video while reading the following post, indeed, feel free to hum along. Two things are preoccupying TA and me right now. One, buying a flat. Status report: we're in the no-mans land of having made an offer, not knowing if it's been accepted and trying to figure out if we'll be able to secure a mortgage on our paltry combined income. TA is at the Inland Revenue now completing a tax return in an attempt to get annual income figures for last year...the news is bound to be grim on that end. For my part, I'm waiting to hear what my annual review has netted me in terms of a pay rise. Historically, the agency has been very generous with annual raises, unfortunately that has changed this year with departments being told there is a 5% cap. Oh dear. Two, Canada. What? I hear you say. Why on earth would the great frozen north be putting our two plucky London sparrows under pressure? Well, TA has been offered a short-term contract in Montreal. Should he stay or go? Will this be a big break and incidentally reasonably profitable or will it turn out to be a two-month waste of time that spits him back on these shores older but no wiser and still looking for a long-term position? Neither of us know and while I am leaning towards the go option TA thinks that stay is probably the wiser course of action.
Very dear friend K, of P&K fame, whose house I recently stayed at said 'I'm amazed at how much goes on - you always have something new and interesting to write about' but really is this a good thing? I think I'd like a little bit of dull time, frankly.
But one more bit of news, before I forget. Housemate D has returned! Yes, the boy wonder, pretty boy, the man in underpants is here once again. He appears to be camping in the living room for the foreseeable future. Wonderful! Looking on the bright side, I should thank him; there's nothing like a little non-wife irritant to get TA thinking favourably about moving.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

new tag
I was never that keen on the old tag and have replaced it with what was written about me on my colleague’s blog, just for fun and to reclaim what I fear was a bit of a slur. I like the idea of being disciplined and being thought of by others as being disciplined – not in an S&M way mind – however, any time spent here though will reveal that I’m neither fit nor disciplined. Lazy, sluggish and profligate would come closer to the truth.
Tomorrow morning, tonight’s viewing was cancelled, TA and I are going to view BH-B and BH-C. Already, I am scouring sexy salvage sites thinking about the outer limits of furnishing possibility. I can feel the frenzy of excitement and anticipation being to wax once more. Oh dear. It will probably all end in tears. TA says to me “heaven on earth, remember?” whenever I start taking the hovel thing a bit too seriously. And he’s right. Really, anywhere where we can be just us and it’s ours will be heaven on earth. At least it will be for the first week or two, after that I expect I’ll start finding fault!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

terra firma
I was doing so well. I was so jet set. I was getting by on three hours’ sleep, room service breakfasts and ten cups of coffee. Room service breakfasts of juice, yogurt, fruit salad, two croissants, a selection of jams, a Danish pastry, cheese, ham and bread rolls, not to mention a thermos of coffee. I was a globetrotting exec! I was mainlining valerian and melatonin! I was expense-account happy! In my excitement, every sentence, every thought suffered from AQI! And then I came home and my body said “enough”. I’ve spent the last three days taking frequent naps and walking around spaced out like a zombie, a zombie with a throbbing, terrifying headache (damn the caffeine). I’m completely wiped out and very, very glad to be home.
Speaking of home, Badger Palais is a quieter place now. While I was away, Housemate J asked Housemate D to leave. All his stuff is still at BP but the man himself has gone, apparently he is staying with friends. It’s odd, because I rarely saw or even heard him, but the increase in space is palpable. Also, Housemate J seems much happier, which in turn makes TA happier and – down a few links on the food chain of happiness – it makes me happier too. Plans to move are progressing apace (a snail’s pace, but still). We have narrowed it down to either: Badger Hovel A, a ground-floor one-bedroom flat in a 1980s-built development, habitable but needs some work and would benefit from some serious remodelling were we to ever be that adventurous; or Badger Hovel B/C, two identical third (top)-floor flats in the same development as BH-A that are brighter and slightly larger than BH-A, but do not have the same scope for improvement. Also not in their favour, there is no lift. TA is going to view BH-B and BH-C tomorrow. Likely we will put in an offer on Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

live blogging
Am in Amsterdam. Went out last night with some company bigwigs, yes indeed. Was given a tour of the red-light district and taken out for 'coffee'. Sounds exciting doesn't it? It wasn't.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Sorry team, posting will be sporadic for the foreseeable future. Work, home and relationship gubbins have to take precedence for a while. Also, reading about myself as 'coworker' on someone else's blog (about which I was not supposed to know) has made me feel even more queasy about the advisability of writing about other people here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

coming and going
I have a crazy - for me - itinerary next week and will only be home long enough to pack again before heading to Amsterdam for a new business pitch. Believe me when I tell you that this trip is going to be a complete nightmare. Seriously, I'm scared.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I am working in the PR agency's Portland, Oregon office for the rest of the week and likely will not be writing much. There is a long post gradually coalescing in my mind but it's a tricky topic and I need to give it a lot of thought before committing myself to publishing.
I hope readers realise that everything here - no matter how raw it may seem - is to a degree mediated and crafted. This is certainly not an unedited, unshaped live-feed account of my life. There's always more going on than I have time to post and, as unexpurgated as it may seem, there's an awful lot I leave out. There is a filter system in place you know! I say this because recently I've been meeting many people at home and abroad who think that there's nothing left for me to say, they know it all already, I'd like to think that these posts can be a diving board - giving increased overview and the ability to dive straight in. Perhaps I need to work on that.