Stragile and frong.

I think it’s all because I can’t play chess. I have the kind of brain that can’t think ahead.

I want what I want in the moment I want it. So what if (googles frantically) in two moves from now my king will be nakedly alone, on the brink of kidnap? (Not quite how google described it.) For starters, I’m anti-monarchy, and second of all: it hasn’t happened yet, and hence it isn’t life, it isn’t real, it isn’t now. The only thing actually ever happening is NOW. So whatever I want, in the here and now, I’ll just bloody do: and I won’t just bloody do it, I’ll bloody launch myself at it, body and soul, like a bottle of champers launching a ship and it’s no surprise, I suppose, that I often (usually) end up smashed.

It rarely ends happily for the bottle.

It rarely ends happily for the bottle.

It’s the reason I have no ambition, not properly. Someone described me as cat-like a couple of weeks ago (possibly because I’m hairy and love to nap) and, like cats, all I live for are moments of pleasure. Which makes me sound horribly decadent (very hard to be horribly decadent on a low income) and brings to mind something like this:

which is far from the truth. But I do need to keep inhaling happy things to keep me going. Not opium, obviously. But small, nice things. A yellow moon, a compliment, a new lick of nail polish, a perfect sentence. I look for little pleasures every day. The big pleasures are harder to come by. (Or, well, easier, if you… sorry. Smut alert.)

When someone you thought was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious decides to take a swift exit from your life, untouched and unruffled by any aspect of your existence in a way that makes you realise, ouch, you didn’t even leave behind a tiny scuff mark, never mind a hole… it’s sad and disappointing, of course it is. But the thing to do is not regret that you did it. Try not to. At the very least I have a new memory for when I’m old and grey(er) and possibly living on memories (of this nature) the way my poor dad is.

I have a hopeful sort of soul these days. It was hard and fierce and cross a year ago, and it might be forced to harden up again, who knows, if it keeps getting smashed on the sides of ships. At the moment, in light of its recent smashing, it’s trying to calcify and shrink-wrap itself, right now as I write, because it’s scary to let yourself hope for things. I am horribly, stupidly fragile: I sink myself into the moment and nothing else even exists anymore, and that means I get squished when the moment is gone. (It’s a useful technique, though, when you’re reading in public: just live in the words, and you won’t even notice the hundred staring eyes.) But I’m also (I think) pretty strong. So I’m stragile. Or maybe frong. I’ll wobble, but I won’t fall down.

And, once again, if you don't understand the relevance of this picture then you, my friend, are annoyingly young. Image at  http://www.rubylane.com/item/645543-KC-03633/1970s-Weebles-Man-w-Blue-Shirt

If you don’t understand the relevance of this picture then you, my friend, are annoyingly young. Image at http://www.rubylane.com/item/645543-KC-03633/1970s-Weebles-Man-w-Blue-Shirt

So even though the Voice of Reason (yes, I have one) is wagging its finger at me for writing this blog post, because come on, Lynsey, WTF, this is all under your own name and why didn’t you set up this site anonymously, because that would have been far more sensible, I’m going to write it, and publish it, anyway, because IDC, as people say on the internet. It’s something I want to do. I don’t mind exposing my insides (although, stupidly, I haven’t been swimming for about two years because I loathe my scarred legs).

And if you're not singing the Cagney and Lacey theme tune right now, then... you're probably annoyingly young.

And if you’re not singing the Cagney and Lacey theme tune right now, then, once again, you’re annoyingly young. Take your perfect skin and get outta here.

I can’t write anything decent or worthwhile that doesn’t expose me somehow. I want to live bravely and not let my fears or anxieties control me. I think this is more important to me than short-term embarrassment. I want to be a force for good somehow. I don’t know any other way for me to do it except by speaking out about things. And it helps me, too, to write and share: you’ll have noticed by now, if you follow this blog, that I’m fighting a couple of tiny battles these days: the first against the Inspiration Trust; the second against the pesky, melancholic nature I grew up with. Hence, all of my dirty washing is here, on this blog: and if any of it, that I’ve shared, can help you feel solidarity with another human being then, honestly, it’s worth it to me. Helping people helps me too.

So this is what I say to being sensible, and careful, and cautious:

[Literally my favourite ever sentence… 1.21 if it doesn’t do what it should and start there automatically. NSFW!]

And while I’m posting videos, here’s a short film by Percivale Productions about our school campaign, with clips of yours truly not a million miles from a microphone, which is (strangely) a place I’ve found I’m kinda happy being, although watching myself on screen is a much less happy experience. C’est la vie!

The Struggle for Hewett School.

And now I reckon, gauntlet down, my challenge to myself this week is to get my bikini on and go swimming. Scars and all.

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A sentence is long as a piece of string.

So I’m going to get a tattoo. Which is weird, because I don’t even like tattoos. But I heard about this project and immediately it seemed to fit.

First off, it’s a semi-colon. It’s punctuation. There can’t be many folks alive who love punctuation as much as I do.

But second, and more importantly, it’s a sign that you’ve survived depression. It’s a sign, in my case, that I’ve survived a suicide attempt, and you can read about that here if you’d like to (because, as people keep pointing out to me, I am very, very open about these things). What it means is: you could have ended your sentence. But you chose not to. Or, in my case, my own ineptitude stopped me from ending my sentence… But, hey, I was sixteen. What did I know? Very little (although, natch, I thought I knew everything).

After a bit of debate on Facebook I’ve decided where to have it, too. On the back of my neck, at the top of my spine. This means, of course, I’ll only be able to see it in the mirror.

But this makes sense, because… one of the other things I survived was an episode, ten years ago, when I hated my face so intensely I couldn’t leave the house. I had to go live with my parents. We had to cover all the mirrors up, or take them down, and the ones that were fixed to the bathroom cabinets had to be opened at such an angle that they couldn’t be looked in. Does this make me sound weird? I suppose it does. It’s not something I’m proud of. It happened, though, and since I’m a product of everything – good and bad – that’s happened to me since the second I burst, splat, from my mum’s womb, plastering the walls with blood (so I’m told), I can’t see the point in denying these things. I felt I didn’t have a face. I didn’t feel I existed. This made life difficult. I was just extremely ill, as I’ve been ill before and possibly (although every day I guard against that as well I can) will be again.

But my sentence hasn’t ended yet. Virginia Woolf wrote one that was 199 words long. A sentence is long as a piece of string. I feel unhappy, writing this. Things haven’t gone my way and, yeah, I’m sad. But my grasp on punctuation is as solid as ever. I can really rock a dependent clause. So I’m going to get a semi-colon on my neck because I want to celebrate the fact I’m still alive. I’ve fucked up 99% of things in my life, but I stuck around long enough to have the world’s best daughter and, maybe I’m kidding myself, but I genuinely think I do some good in the world these days.

I’m glad I didn’t die.

And I promise my next post will be about writing.

On being incredibly hot (in a bad way).

Today I’ll be treating myself to an itsy bitsy teeny weeny pity party here on the blog, after which…

I’ll be writing about writing again.

shocked_woman

I am (or was) a (sort of) writer. It feels like frigging ages ago.

So what have I been for the last few months?

No idea.

I suppose I’ve been mostly a teacher slash anti-academies activist. But thanks to the mostly term-time nature of those activities (although fear not, Inspiration Trust, I shall still be gunning for you right through summer… to infinity and beyond, if necessary) I am now on my holidays. En vacances, as they say in la belle France, and although I’m not actually going anywhere, because the flip side of a term-time job = holiday poverty, I will certainly, like Paris in August, be a lot less busy than usual.

Many of my shops and restaurants will be closed. My metro will be occupied almost solely by tourists (not a euphemism) and, while others holiday in far-flung climes, I’ll be home in my garrett, fronting up to the giant-sized task of Le Novel.

But never mind the giant-sized novel, what about the teeny weeny pity party? Well, fire up the cheesy mix tape (Mustang Sally, Love Shack, the Macarena, etc) because the festivities are about to begin.

I am really extraordinarily hot as I’m writing this, and I am really extraordinarily sick of it. It’s very warm in England at the moment, but this is the sort of warmth that comes from inside and is driven by wildly fluctuating lady hormones, and this is my third year of getting so wet (in a bad way) when I walk up the road that I might as well have been swimming. I know you’re not supposed to talk about the M word in mixed company, but let me strike a blow here for forward-thinking on this issue. After all, you didn’t used to be able to show married couples in bed together on a TV screen and now… well, now, you patently can. It’s high time, IMHO, that talking about menopause was normalised and made okay. And if, like me, you happen to start it stupidly early (hot flushes at 32, Fact Fans) it’s meant to be worse and more intense and last longer. To which, I say: hurray! Oh yes, and you die earlier as well (so I’m told) which makes it all-round brilliant, really.

I need, I think, to get me some drugs. But these, you see, won’t be cool drugs of the kind the Verve once sang about the ineffectuality of; these will be distinctly un-cool, if cooling (see what I did there), Ancient Biddy Drugs (Ancientionius Biddicus in the original Latin) and then I will have to ‘be’ an old lady and can’t masquerade as a slightly crispy youngish lady anymore. Which is to say: I will have to ‘be’ an old lady inside my head, even more so than I am already. It is important to me (to everyone, I imagine) who I am inside my head.

My dad, for instance, although he can’t see well enough to walk anymore – except familiar routes from chair to bed to bathroom, etc, and even then with occasional difficulty – refuses to have a wheelchair so that we can take him out. He refuses even to hold my arm in the street. He refuses to do both these things because, even though he has dementia, he still maintains an image of himself with which the image of an otherwise housebound granddad in an adult perambulator is markedly at odds.

I suppose (or know, in fact) that I too hold an image of myself inside my head with which the image of a wrinkly biddy requesting HRT whilst, under her clothes, her neck and breasts are switching themselves to the rinse cycle, is also markedly at odds. But, yesterday, as I came back from a workshop day near Diss to find the streets half-shut for our local Lord Mayor’s Procession and, hence, no proper buses running, I very nearly actually died (all right, I didn’t, but sshh, I’m telling a story here) walking to the nearest available bus stop in the strobing sun, and when at last I caught the bus I went instantly onto a 60 degree pre-wash and thought, you know what, I just cannot anymore. I don’t know how other women manage this, and all power to those who do, but I am so far over this I’m peering at it from the wickerwork confines of a hot air balloon basket.

Hello down there.

Hello, down there.

So: drugs, I think. Let the mantle of Biddyhood fall where it will. I could get on board pretty well with being a biddy. I love my cats a really extreme amount (in spite of the fact they’re psychopaths) and I like books and board games and hot milk in bed and, even though it’s begun to rain – the loud, hard, window-slashing kind of rain – since I’ve sat on my old biddy backside writing this post and, undeniably, the air through my bedroom window has a minty cool, refreshing quality, I am still surreptitiously sniffing myself because I’m convinced I smell like cheese and onion crisps and my clothes are still stuck to my skin and I’m not sure if my laptop is cooking my legs or my legs are cooking my laptop.

I feel a bit sad about it all. And not just because of the extra washing – both of clothes and body; both of which I find very boring even when done in normal quantities – or waking with bird nest hair, a strange mad cross between straight and curly, because I’ve got hot in the night. It is sad not to be able, anymore, to make babies, even though babies are mostly composed of poop and sick and have magical, soul-stealing properties that make their parents obsessed with said poop and sick – as if art, and literature, and science, and current affairs had simply stopped existing. I don’t want to get up in the night anymore to have my nipple nearly bitten off (true story) and slink back to sleep so tired that I literally didn’t care that blood was pouring down my top. But neither do I want to be perimenopausal. Ain’t life grand.

But actually, yeah, my life is grand. And I need to remember that fact. I don’t have everything I want, of course; but, better than that, I have everything I need. I can ask for my old biddy drugs on the NHS (for now, at least…) and I can play piano when I’m sad and hug my daughter and sometimes, when I’m teaching, I see people look at me, like, ‘I never knew that before, what you’re saying, and now my life’s been changed a little bit’ and some of my lovely students buy me things like this:

The joy of having lovely students. Cheers!

The joy of having lovely students. Cheers!

… because they know I fall down holes sometimes, and get low, and also because Wimbledon. (Although damn you, Nadal. You were going to be my guy candy for the next ten days.) I have food, and shelter, and derive a bizarre amount of happiness from rubbing my feet together in bed. (I’m doing it now.)

But it’s weird, I think. One day you’re a lion, enormous, roaring. Then one small thing in your universe changes and, suddenly, how fast you shrink.

I’ll always be like this, I’ve realised. Never knowing, today, how big or small I’ll be tomorrow. Or later the same afternoon. Or last thing at night. It’s a very uppy-downy life I lead.

So I wanted to have this one last whinge, for now, about non-writing things because the book is calling and, from tomorrow onwards, I’ll have oodles of writing-related things to whinge about. I will care less about the ups and downs in my life, the things I wish I hadn’t said and done, the tumours in my womb, the sweats, the spots (I even have them on my shoulders now FFS), the grey hair, the blah blah blah. I will (I hope, I pray) be back to my writerly self, which is my best self, in my opinion, in spite of the fact there’s rarely any gratification in it. I’m planning a sequence of posts like the ones I did for NaNoWriMo once, because suddenly, once again, it is ‘Camp WriMo’… but more on that tomorrow. Or the day after. We’ll see. I’m not going to pressure myself this time, but I’ll aim for a regular update – if only to pin myself more tightly to having to finish the novel, properly, at last, before the Arts Council come at me with a hatchet.

Until then, I’ll be having a shower. A cold one. Cheerio.