Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago today, while my beautiful Mum napped in her chair her heart beat it's last. She was 60 years of age, I was 28, and my son was not yet 1.
I wasn't there. I was at my own house eating smoked mackerel salad, listening to the 6 o'clock news from the TV in the other room, with Joseph eating spinach off my plate. On the news was the story of a child from Iraq who had been flown to Britain for operations on his legs. Or her legs. I forget that particular detail.
I remember the phonecall I got at 9.30 that night from my brother-in-law. I remember the phrase "it's not good". I didn't know at the time what that phrase meant. It meant she was dead.

For some time afterwards I would wear her shoes, I would wear her cardigans and jumpers, I would sit next to my father in church, so there would be no empty space where she should have been. I adopted her turns of phrase, her intonations, sang her songs, anything to keep her presence alive.

Ten years later none of us said anything. I've had a very heavy heart and a lot of private tears this week, but no conversations with my family about it. I'm not sure if that is odd. I have wanted to keep things around me quiet and manageable. Whether I am crying because I miss her, or because ten years is a significant amount of time for life to go on without her, or because she has missed so much, I don't know. All of these things, I suppose. And soon this intense period of sadness will pass away too, and things will carry on. But not yet.
I will keep things around me quiet and manageable for a little while yet.

          'It is such a secret place, the land of tears.'  
                                                                               


Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Iron Fist

The Iron Fist claws the comfort from her,
Pulling, tearing, dragging,
Wearing her down. Its grip
On her hips like a vice,
Cranked.

She rocks, rhythmically
Curling her spine,
Kneading in turn her taut lumbar, her bloated dough,
Seeking comfort in steeped leaves, in warm wheat and shushhh.

Her wrought and feverish mind grazes the surface of sleep,
The Iron Fist dragging her back
To the prickly heat and needles of noise
With a sharp twist in her lumbar.

The waning of this phase feels moons away yet.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Thursday Night is Question Time

Thursday night is the time of the week when I am most likely to embody the spirit of my dear departed Mother. I have to steel myself for the experience. It is at once comfortable and excruciating. I adopt her posture- legs folded under me, leaning to the right (ironically!). I hear her intonations burst forth from my own mouth, as I turn to the TV and shout "Fat Tory Bastard!", "That bloody liar!" and other such sweet nuthins.

I share many of my Mother's ways. Her literary interests (if not her depth of insight), her political leanings (though I am comparatively less well informed), her humour, I like to think also her warmth, and certainly her melancholy. And her hands. And her 'apple shape' (Thanks for that, Mum!). And I walk the same emotional tightrope that I think she must have. She could come across to others as aloof and superior at times, but she chose those times and she did it quite deliberately. It was her armour, and sharp words were her weapons. It is a family trait, and to wield those weapons rightfully and win makes us feel powerful, strong. I have had cause to don the amour quite recently myself, and I was bloody glad to have it at my disposal. It is amazing how effectively a show of strength disarms those who would attempt to dominate you when you're down. But what exactly happens when we take on the mantle of warrior? Is it something we put on, or something that comes from within? Do we become strong for the fight, or is it the fight that gives us strength? There certainly seems to be something about action that finds us with lead in our pencil. There must, I suppose, be people who live by this active principle as a matter of course. I imagine these are the 'successful' people - whatever that means. I certainly think that 'active', 'strong'...erm...'ambitious', 'driven', 'go-getting' are the qualities that our society values, or is told to value. But I do not feel that these are my natural traits. I am sure I can call upon them when needed, but these are not the things that I am made of. Traditionally they are masculine traits. I'm not making something of that, though I could, but it would be a digression that would be difficult to come back from. Or perhaps it wouldn't be a digression at all. Perhaps actually it is the salient point. We are after all talking about two women, their identities, both private and public, and the struggle to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that comes with being a woman, with fractured or multiple identities: Sharp tongued; warm hearted; superior; anxious; the fighter; the comforter.  With the demand for so much chameleon-like behaviour is it any wonder that finding one's core self or stable identity poses such a challenge and such a struggle for many women?

Thursday night is question time, and tonight's question, it turns out, is perhaps the oldest and most persistent question of all, that we are seeking to find an answer to from our early stages of development. "Who am I?"
 I will refrain from an exposition on Lacan's Mirror Stage, though there is much fertile ground there upon which we could explore identity as it relates to a precarious sense of mastery and the omnipotence of the mother. I think we have established that as subject, when I observe my image it is in many ways my Mother's  that is looking back at me.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Another diet post

Week 1 weight loss - 7lb

Incredibly, I was not as thrilled as I might have been with this. I had heard of losses of 9 and 10 lb and wanted that. But of course losing half a stone in a week is hugely significant. I have never lost weight like that before. The best loss in one week I had with Slimming World was 5 and 1/2 lb. Doing the 'plan' is for the most part very easy and painless, but then comes the urge to 'prog'. 'Progging', if you didn't know, is mooching about in the kitchen, opening all the cupboards and the fridge, looking for ANYTHING to cram into your mouth. It is mostly a solitary pursuit, and should something suitable to feed you need be located it is then consumed whilst standing up, usually with your head still in the fridge/cupboard/breadbin/biscuit barrel*. The urge to prog can be overwhelming, and it is a test of will. The denial of the urge is accompanied by a restlessness and a fucking bad temper. I find at these times that noise, any noise, especially child generated and cartoon noise, makes me ROAR. This has something to do with ketosis or something. I can't really be bothered to look much into the biology of it. Look it up.

Anyway, having ONLY lost 7lb I went on to EAT SOME CHICKEN!!!!!!! (and nuts and raisins) and the next day I could feel it inside my body, like some alien thing I couldn't wait to get rid of to feel clean again. Now I am sensible enough to recognise that this is not what one might call a healthy attitude to food, but then  my relationship with food has never been all that healthy, or I wouldn't have found myself obese. So I'm not terribly bothered.

A couple of women at work have pulled a face about my new eating habits and said "you'll just put weight back on when you start eating food again", but fuck 'em. I'm getting weighed tonight, I don't feel like I've lost much, I've been quite crap, having milk in my coffee far too often. I could do with knowing when I'm in ketosis so I can watch out for when I put myself out of it.

Apologies for boring post, just had to get the main points down before week 2 weigh in so I can look back on it instead of forgetting it.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

'Seeking Girlhood Through VLCD' or 'Less is More'.

Beginning things often seems hard. As a world class procrastinator I should know. My procrastination takes many forms, applies to a myriad of activities; the degree of procrastination is directly proportionate to the importance of the task in hand (or not in hand quite yet). Anyway, here again I am failing to get off the starting blocks. My train of thought has been derailed. I had wanted to use this 'blog' to practise my writing but I don't use it very often, and the thought of my writing being read by people is actually really uncomfortable. I'm not a writer by any means. Is it ridiculous to have a place where you go to try to do that thing, the talent for which you admire in others but don't possess yourself? What is this blog space even for? Am I wrecking it by mixing attempts to write with personal rants and now a weight-loss diary. (That's what today's entry is trying to be about, but I guess it's not really about that is it).

Time and again it seems my writing has this undercurrent of dissatisfaction. It is quite possible that this is rather telling. (Note the hedging, note the distancing from this truth that is required in order for me to express it). It is not an attractive trait, dissatisfaction in one's self. But it is real. For everyone. Without exception. So perhaps (hedging again) my problem here is one of figuring out how to navigate the space between the private and the public; being real and being acceptable; being me and being attractive. These conditions somehow appear to be mutually exclusive in my head although I know that they really aren't. You see that it is in this respect that weight-loss and writing are addressing the same issue. Or are they simply subject to the same self imposed constraints? Or is the purpose of each to overcome those constraints?

Now to identify those constraints... *thinking face*

                                                     [I'll get back to you later on that one]

So... In Bridget Jones' style...

Week 1 of Cambridge Weight Plan.

Start weight - 13st10lb. There. I said it.

Calorie limit per day: 800

Pattern of consumption: Drink lots of water, don't bother with breakfast, space the shake out through the day in coffees, have the soup about 4.30pm, have the porridge about 9pm. Easy to do Mon-Fri. Haven't worked weekends out yet. Had porridge for late breakfast (after lunch time), reckoning on shake later on and soup for supper. Must drink a lot more water!

Cheats to date: 2 x jaffa cake, 1 x half slice of wholemeal toast (buttered), 1 x half pear, 3 x glugs of milk in morning brews.

Positive side effects:
- increased energy
- euphoria
- ridiculous horn (feels good but has negative aspect - see below)
- not having to think about what to have for dinner
- no cooking (therefore very little washing up!)
- not hungry
- not expensive.

Negative side effects:
- weeing loads
- ridiculous horn (note: in other circumstances this could of course be considered a positive side effect but personally I have nowhere to put mine and am therefore finding the blandest of men suddenly and inappropriately alluring, and risk actually exploding into a billion billion beads of shimmering light on sight of a genuinely beautiful man)
- grumpy when euphoria wanes (possible link to unresolved horn)
- unable to accept invitations to lunch/pub (I include this for your benefit, I have no such invitations at present).

Weigh in is on Tuesday evening. I shall report back. According to my Body Mass Index I am 'obese' for my height of 5'5 and 1/2" and have 3 and 1/2 stones to lose in order to be 'OK'. I think they should rename this category 'perfect'. In 3 and 1/2 stones time I shall be perfect ;)