Thursday, 18 February 2016

Quick catch-up...

It hasn't been a particuarly easy few months, since I got back from Greece.  I began serious job-hunting in October, but without success as yet.  I've been depressed at how little there is out there that is both interesting and worthwhile, that would also still pay me enough.  I've found jobs that pay okay, but are either dire, or involving skills or experience I don't have; and I've found jobs that sounded great, but were only part-time or temporary, or only paid peanuts.  But the intersection of "This sounds like a good job" with "I can do all those things" and "I could live on that salary" has proved dismally elusive.

And I'm not looking for a large salary, by the way!  My core skill set, after all, is in customer service, a field we undervalue badly, and given that, I know it's unrealistic to set my hopes high.  But I'd like to earn enough to live on. 

I finally have an interview on Monday, anyway, so that's a start.  It's a job at Richmond Theatre, which would be great - and getting it would mean I was joining ATG, which could also be great.  So cross fingers for me.  It'll be good interview experience, anyway.

Meanwhile, my back-up plan was to do lots of writing while I was out of work.  But I've been struggling with that; indeed, a lot of the time I've been completely blocked.  It's nightmarish when that happens, but I've been there before and I know that all I can do is soldier on and get through it; it always does end, eventually, so it's the soldiering-on that I have to focus on.  Just recently, the last couple of weeks, there've been signs of a breakthrough on that front, which is fantastic.  I've been re-reading some of the stuff I've written in the last few years and have been pleased to find much of it is better than I remembered.  I'm working on some re-writes and using that to coax the Muse into coming back for a longer stay.

What other news?  I turned fifty in December, shock horror.  Luckily the birthday itself was fine, but the number is a bit shocking just the same. 

I've lost 25% of my body weight since last March, though, and have now stabilised at just over 12 stone (12 stone 1lb - I can't seem to shift that last little scrap!), and I feel healthier physically than I have done in years.  The doctor has even taken me off the diabetes medication for a trial period, to see how I get on with managing the condition just through diet and exercise. 

I took a touch-typing course, and am working rather slowly at trying to improve my speed and accuracy.  I'm not great yet, but I'm getting there.  Slowly slowly, as my Nana used to say. 

I've also taken up fencing.  The sport, not the garden skill.  I just finished a beginners' foil course and tonight is my first-ever time with the main club practice session.  The idea of walking in this evening and just looking for someone who'll fence a few hits with me is frankly bloody intimidating.  But I've started buying the kit, so I really can't back out now.  It's tremendous fun, anyway; I'd hate to stop.  I never thought I'd find a sport I enjoyed this much - never been a sporty type at all...

Otherwise, not much is going on.  Need to get on with the writing and find a new job.  End of update.  Ciao!

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

This bears repeating...

I just posted this on facebook, and glancing over it again I think it bears repeating here. I've just been reading this article and am left full of thoughts and feelings. It hits me hard, as it sums up something I've struggled with a lot over the years, especially during the last decade since turning forty.

It's been so long now since I was in a relationship that I can barely remember what it actually felt like, making those compromises and sacrifices, and playing that role of tacit care-giver that Laurie Penny writes about. I'm not sure I was ever much good at it.

I've spent years of my life regretting being single, and many sleepless nights struggling with the "what's wrong with me?" question, trying not to settle for the easy "they're all bastards" answer since it has always felt fundamentally false (not to mention mean and petty!).

I fall in love regularly just the same, no matter what's wrong with me, no matter how single I am - sweet gods, I fall in love like a very large brick dropping off a cliff, I am a heavy-weight sharp-cornered effing nightmare when I fall in love - but that falling process has been as far as it has got, for over 20 years now. There has never been a person I could actually have a real, equal relationship with, when I picked myself up at the bottom of the cliff.

Mostly they were long gone. I think maybe they ran like thunder, seeing a brick about to fall on them; and can one blame them, if so?

As time has gone by, and particularly in my forties, I've come more and more to think "Good grief, what on earth would I do if I WERE to find an equal partnership - now, when I am finally myself and have found my own life? Now when I recognise that for me the experience of 'falling in love' is primarily one of losing myself and going slightly crazy for a while?" But the knowledge that I had grown into myself and accepted who I was, which ought to have filled me with hope and certainty, proved instead to be deeply depressing, because it made me fear I was no longer fit for love.

A couple of years ago I began to get to know someone I had known by sight for several years and had always found tremendously physically attractive; and to my immense surprise, this person turned out to be really very interesting. I didn't 'fall in love' straight away as I have done in the past; the brick of my heart stayed peacefully on top of the cliff, taking pleasure as usual in the view over the English Channel. But I began enjoying someone's company simply because it was always enjoyable; this person was intelligent and articulate, kind and mature, witty, hard-working, capable, even shared some of my more esoteric tastes and hobbies and likings. Potentially, then, a good friend; but an attractive one of the opposite sex.

They were also unavailable, and not remotely interested in me as a woman. I knew this from very early on, and it actually helped a lot, in what was for me a pretty peculiar experience. Because as I went on getting to know them, I found myself thinking "IF you had been interested in me and attracted to me, and IF you had been unattached, I could actually have envisaged trying to do the drastic amount of restructuring and rebuilding of my own life that would have been necessary in order to have a relationship with you." And that idea was a hell of a shock.

It really was. Firstly simply because I'd never expected to meet anyone who made me feel that. Secondly because it brought home to me what the other side is of that feeling of being 'no longer fit for love' - the fact that I have grown into myself. I actually no longer saw my self as something I would willingly set aside for a man. I saw - I see - the possibility of adjusting my life around a relationship as something I would need to be seriously rewarded for, where for my entire previous life I had seen the relationship as a reward in itself.

Well, so I grew up. About bally time. I wish I'd been able to achieve this degree of self-knowledge and self-acceptance thirty years ago. Even twenty. But better late than never.

I'm not writing love off. I'm sure I'll fall off that cliff again in the future. It does have its benefits (for a start, I write lots of poetry when I'm 'in love' and some of it is even quite good). I hope I never land on someone and crack their head open, though.

And if someone were to come along who was as thoroughly interesting as the person I wrote about above, the one who wasn't interested in me, I can imagine contemplating whether I would be willing to dismantle my life and rebuild it to include them. Now that I know that's what it would be.

But for now, I am single, and I am no longer unhappy about it except in jest; and that is a lot.