31 December 2013

A New Year's Eve Summary

It's New Year's Eve today. I am deciding whether to attempt drunkeness on my own or whether it is just quite pathetic to sit alone with a bottle of red wine, a Harry Potter marathon and possibly my five year old...

I will definitely manage the Harry Potter marathon and I'm guessing the five year old will insist on staying up as long as she can... I do have a bottle of red that has been hanging around at home for ages and ages and now seems as good a time as any to drink it.

I have had an interesting year full of highs and lows as ever. I think I can safely say that some of the littlest things have made me most happy. Spending time with good friends, improving my crochet techniques, teaching myself new things, trying new recipes. I think my post from the other day  is probably the best illustration of where I am now.

Although, to be fair, I try new recipes all the time! It doesn't always work as well as I hope it will. Last night's strangely bland potatoes being a case in point. How can potatoes cooked in buttered stock and thyme not have flavour? Well, I achieved it. The experimental barbecue chicken worked a treat though... 

Worst moments? Probably during my college course earlier in the year, it stirred up so many strong emotions in me. I spent a lot of time thinking about myself which, athough in the long term was helpful, was hard to get through. I think this post probably sums up some of that darkness that still haunts me.

Although, those feelings are retreating more and more and I go longer between the utter blackness that surrounded me more times than I care to think about this time last year. I hope that there will be more improvements at this point next year. 

Maybe I'll even have found a job and a new boyfriend! Stranger things have happened after all...

29 December 2013

a book a month challenge

the perfect companions to a good read

I am almost certain that I have mentioned my love for the fashion blog essbeevee before, though possibly not in a fashion context as there is so much more to Sarah's site than that.

The thing I have been most obsessed with all year has been her book club posts. This is not a normal book club though as it isn't about everyone reading one book it's about one person sharing their favourites to give us all a little bit of inspiration.

As I said, I have been reading them all year and have decided to make myself a reading list based on the recommendations that have been shared. Some of the books mentioned are ones that I have already read and loved which was quite satisfying, but ruled them out of my list. 

I have decided to try and get back into reading regularly as it seems to be something that I have got out of recently and I have therefore charged myself merely to read one book a month as I should be able to manage that! I have tried to pick books I have either never heard of, but sound intriguing, or ones I have wanted to read for ages and not got round to. There are a couple from authors I have read before and one from an author a lot of people have told me to read but I've not ever quite got into despite having started a couple of her books. 

I should really have waited a couple of days before writing this post as this months Books Are Amazing post won't go up until the 31st. I have therefore used Sarah's own list of favourites to get my 12th book from. I have read all the posts from most recent backwards and selected one book from each persons list. Some months I have wanted to pick all the books. Every month I have had to make a hard choice between two I liked the look of... 

Madam with the books she won earlier this year from DK Books

I think I should also write a review after I have read each book so that you can 1: make sure I'm sticking to it and 2: hopefully find some recommendations of your own. I will also be taking any further recommendations you care to give me. I shall post the review at the end of each month to give myself chance to get it read. 

I am really rather excited at this idea :) If anyone would like to gift me any of these books I am also completely happy to accept them! (cheeky, I know). I do have a birthday coming up sort of soon so don't be surprised if I request a specific book from you!

The list is in order of how I took it from the blog starting with November's book and working back to last December. This is not necessarily the order in which they will be read. When I review them I will mention what month they're from with a link to the original post so that you can see the books I passed over for the one I eventually chose! (although, as I said, I wanted to mainly read most of them)

1 - The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
I have heard of this before, mainly as a film, but it sounded like something I would enjoy.

2 - I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith
I have picked this up and put it down again in so many bookshops so many times. This year, I will read it!

3 - Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This just sounded like a really good read, to be honest.

4 - Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Another series of books I have wanted to read for ages and never gotten around to. I watched the BBC adaption of it and loved it.

5 - Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Volume 1) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Seen the film, laughed all the way through it, seems like a good choice for a first graphic novel.

6 - The Shell House by Linda Newbury
This is another that just sounded like something I would enjoy reading.

7 - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
It said a grown-ups Harry Potter, sort of. I'm sold.

8 - Devils Cub by Georgette Heyer
Ah, Ms. Heyer, you have been recommended to me so many times by so many people. Perhaps this is the book to spark my own love...

9 - The Raw Shark Texts by Stephen Hall
This just sounded surreal. And I like that in a book.

10 - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Based on a biblical character who had four mothers. I need to read this.

11 - Oryx And Crake by Margaret Atwood
I really enjoy Margaret Atwood's books, this is one I have so far not got round to. 

12 - The Book Of Lost Things by John Connolly
Again, grown-up fairy tale is enough to have me hooked!

I have made an Amazon wishlist with all the books on too! I might have to investigate the amazon marketplace for some of it's famous 1p bargains... 

27 December 2013

a Christmas as myself

I have been away for far too long and have been itching to post a couple of things from this last week... It has, of course, been Christmas and I have been distracted by that! 

I went to Midnight Mass on Tuesday evening with my friend V. We do this most years but have missed the last few mainly because of madam being too little. This year I knew she would sleep through and that mum and dad wouldn't have a small screaming child on their hands. 

So having told the parents I was going to MM they were both surprised when V rang the bell at 11pm to collect me. I was slightly amused. We were joined in our trip by V's brother and his wife which was lovely as I haven't seen them for ages and certainly not since before they were married. 

We got to the church in reasonable time and even managed to get a space in the church car park, which is ridiculously small in comparison to the size of the church/congregation. V and I have always loved sitting at the front as we get a good view of what is going on and also we used to be able to see the baby Jesus being placed in the nativity at midnight. 

Sadly, they now do a crib service earlier in the day and place Jesus in the scene then, and they've also moved it to a different part of the church to make it more accessible. This, obviously, prompts a "gosh, Jesus is premature" response every year. Yeah, I am that person...

Anyway, we took up our usual front-ish row seats and settled down to wait for the start of the service. We did our usual gossiping and V did her now customary "I really want to dust that" at the organ screen. (She's right, it's awful, but a very fiddly and delicate job).

We sang a couple of hymns and listened to a couple of readings and then it was time for the sermon. We knew it was going to be interesting when the vicar started off telling us about the "words of the year" that have been added in to the Oxford English Dictionary. We both rather hoped that he would refrain from explaining/demonstrating twerking!

He culminated in what has been the word of the year. Selfie. He explained what it was and how ubiquitous it has become. Though I don't think it's as new a phenomenon as people try and make out. I have a couple of selfies of me and V from when we were about 17! Anyway, he then went on to explain that the birth of Christ was God's version of a selfie.


I had to cover my face with the order of service pamphlet. I also had to clamp my mouth shut so I didn't laugh out loud. I took one look at V and that set me off again. 

About halfway through the sermon the chimes sounded for midnight and V and I wished each other a Merry Christmas. I have always loved seeing the day in like that. But whilst I was sitting there, listening to the vicar waffle on and wishing V a merry christmas at the exact same time she said it to me, I realised something.

I felt totally myself.

For the first time in such a long time. That giggling, silly, easy familiarity and love of good friends finally got through and made me feel better. I came home after the service and had the quiet of the house to myself. I sat and wrapped parcels and placed them under the tree and instead of the underlying loneliness that usually accompanies me everywhere I just felt blessed to be having this quiet time.

I don't for a moment think that I am completely back to myself, but I've finally got to a place where it's becoming easier to feel it. I'm hoping this means that by this time next year I might, finally, be more myself than not :) 

15 December 2013

Advent Sunday 3

Oh, my poor little neglected blog! I really do have a reasonable excuse for not having blogged more this week. I have been on a training course. Yup, the job centre have actually allowed me to be trained in something that will actually be useful to me. 

I am doing what's called a Level 1 in Basic Computing. This is a four day course and I'm doing 2 days a week over this last week and next. I have spent a day learning Sage software and a day on Excel. Sage is something which I have never encountered before so was a good thing for me to play with and I felt like I really got quite a bit out of. 

Excel I have used before, but not much since my GCSE way back in 1994. This meant that although I couldn't remember much of the GCSE stuff I didn't take long to pick it back up again when he explained it. I spent most of the session explaining how to do things to the people sitting on either side of me. But hey, I like doing that kind of thing, so it was fun :)

Tuesday we will be covering Powerpoint which is, again, something I've never used before (I don't even have it on my computer!) and on Thursday we're doing Desktop Publishing. This is another thing I covered in GCSE so I might have some idea of what is going on, but then again...

I've really enjoyed putting my brain to use. I do sometimes think that I would be happiest as a perpetual student. I love learning things and trying new stuff out. Which was an almost subtle segue into what this post is actually about.

I done did another making :) 

I have been pondering making sequinned baubles for a little while and never quite got around to it. But yesterday I bit the bullet and decided to give it a go. I bought 3 packs of sequins in different colours (99p each and on a 3 for 2 though I couldn't get the red I wanted so had to settle for silver) a tub of sequin pins (£2.30) and a polystyrene ball from Boyes for 40p.

I emptied it all out on to my lap tray and got pinning. I had a couple of false starts whilst I worked out the design which meant I pinned and re-pinned more than I would have liked to. But eventually I settled on a segmented design and happily pinned away whilst watching DVDs with madam. It's incredibly easy to get quite a fancy effect.

It did take ages though, partly as I had such a big ball to cover and partly because I kept being distracted by a certain someone and her antics. I also realised that the amount of sequins I had might not be enough to complete the project and that started making me stress a bit, but I just kept pinning and in the end I finished, with the design I wanted, with only 2 sequins left over!


and leftover pins from a full tub...

the base of the bauble (and where the design started from)

A right way up bauble

spinning, hanging bauble!

I'm so impressed that today I have gone out and bought more supplies and some slightly smaller balls to decorate! I did buy more pins too, but this is mainly paranoia on my part as I have some left, though I must have used at least half of the ones I had originally so I maybe do need them...

I shall put some pictures up when I have finished making them, though I need to try and wrest the first one back from madam who has hung it up in her room. Mind you, when I look at it all I see is that it's not the colours I wanted so maybe I will let her keep it! 

8 December 2013

Advent Sunday 2

Today is Sunday again and the 2nd in Advent. We failed to go to church this week too! I'm beginning to feel like a rubbish Christian. But then, I do also think that as long as I hold the principles in my heart God isn't about to quibble with me over how often I actually go to church. It is, after all, not about where you worship, but how. 

The run up to Christmas is always a time of reflection for me and thinking about family and friends. Trying to reconnect with any I may have been remiss in keeping in touch with. Writing out Christmas cards I will invariably forget to post (yeah, get ready for that happening again this year lovely friends!). Although this year those Christmas cards are a mixture of the ones madam designed at school which have been made up into professional cards (cute!) and some amazing ones from the mouth and foot painters charity. 

All the pictures have been produced by people who cannot use their hands to paint and the level of skill is amazing to me. I would struggle to produce anything as accomplished myself. Which is a weird sort of a compliment, but I can't think of a better way of phrasing it. Basically, they're amazing!

Madam was fascinated when I explained how the pictures were produced so we looked it up on YouTube and found video of a chap doing a work of art purely with his mouth. She was incredulous that anyone could manage it and did beg to have a go, but I (being mean) refused. She makes enough mess the regular way! Ha! 

She will be allowed to make some Christmas decorations etc which we're going to keep in a box ready for when we can put them up. She started making a paper chain at guides on Friday so I shall let her add to that as and when she feels like it. 

I am thinking of letting her make a couple of stained glass pictures as they were some of my favourites to make when I was little. I'm sure she'll be bringing home some from school too! 

The main thing we've had home from school in the last week are reading books. They are rather uninspiring and repetitive (to me), but by jove, she is whipping through them and gaining more and more confidence. I am so pleased as reading has always been *such* a big part of my life. Especially as a child. She is realising the possibilities already and is hunting down words everywhere we go and sounding them out.

She has also realised that there are words within words or that they make different words when read backwards. I have a jumper that has Oops! on it. This morning she realised that if you read it backwards and add an 'n' you get spoon!. Also, without the 's' you get poo. I will leave you all to work out which one made her giggle more.

We have just been into town to get some bits and pieces and to have a bit of a walk out and some fresh air. I hadn't completely forgotten it was the town's "Festival of Christmas" today, but it had certainly slipped from my mind as we wondered why on earth it was so parked up at that time on a Sunday. We managed to park somewhere near our old (family) house and walked into town from there. It was lovely seeing the town so bustling and all the Christmas lights on as we walked home at the end of our shopping mission.

Madam and mum did some stealth shopping whilst I went to look up the pattern that we had decided to buy to make madam a new dressing gown with.  Madam was then allowed to choose what colour Nanna was going to make said design in. She has picked bright orange. 

Those of you who have known me since youth will be amused by this colour choice! ;)

She did want tiger striped faux fur, but it's got a really scratchy backing and we had to veto it. Mum did find an off-cut of black in the remnants bin though, so will be using it to embellish the orange... *plans to buy sunglasses*

(and yes, I am just going to keep using my old Christmas photos!)

6 December 2013

well, that was unproductive!

Today I have sent madam to school with her new Christmas jumper on as it's non-uniform day. The payment was a donation to the Christmas hamper they're raffling off. Judging by what I saw going in to class this morning it's going to be a rather biscuit heavy hamper this year! 

I am genuinely fed up of being ill now. I have had a cold for over a week and in particular a chesty cough. Even though I have had antibiotics for the cough it seems to be getting worse. It's really putting a dampener on my mood. Also, I am constantly exhausted so have achieved nothing in the last few days despite having access to a car :( 

My plan was to dump a whole load of stuff off at the tip and take a bit more control back in my house whilst we weren't living in it. Total fail. I haven't even managed to get to the gym (I should be there right now, but as soon as I start exercising I can't stop coughing (or breathe)).

We have been at mum and dad's house this week as we've been cat sitting for them whilst they've been away. But, due to the storm that's been going on for the last couple of days, they got stuck in Edinburgh for an extra night. This also meant that the stuff I thought I would do last night at home I also haven't done because I wasn't there :( I feel bad for everything getting so behind.   

I was hoping to avoid another bad go with a cold this year after I ended up on pneumonia meds because of a cough. But I think I really am going to have to go back to the docs and ask for further drugs. Though I quite want different ones as these ones have not really agreed with me, leaving me with headaches and other side effects.

I have guides tonight which I am quite looking forward to. We are doing Christmas crafts at the moment and I am quite keen to finish off my Christmas pudding pom pom :) Also, it means the guides will not be too loud and exhuberant! I don't think I could cope with them jumping around too much tonight... 

1 December 2013

Advent is upon us!

It's the first Sunday of Advent today. Also, the first day of opening advent calendars as the two days have aligned for once :) I am mean though and we don't have a chocolate one, just a gorgeous perpetual one that creates the nativity scene with little figurines. Madam rather disgraced herself last year when she was given a chocolate one by eating them all on the first day!

First Cristmas!
I am a real traditionalist around Christmas and loathe that the shops go into overdrive as soon as they take down the Halloween stuff. I like Christmas to be special and to be kept as a family celebration, not a massive opportunity to sell stuff. Our family has always kept a very small celebration which I have grown to love and appreciate as I got older (as a kid I wanted Christmas to start on the first of December like some of my friends had it!).

We were always told it couldn't be Christmas until my younger bro had had his birthday (the 19th) and that he could have his cards up for as long as possible. We were all allowed a week of cards, but A only ever got 6 days... So then, on Christmas Eve we would erect the tree (we now also put the lights on it). And that was all. We would do that sometime in the afternoon and then after tea we would go to church for the 9 Lessons and Carols service. 

Second Christmas...

We would come home after church, have a warm drink and get sent to bed. And then, in the morning when we got up, everything would have been transformed. The tree would have lights and decorations, the other Christmassy stuff would have been put up and yes, the presents would have arrived under the tree. 

Of course, as we got older and learned how Christmas works we were allowed to stay up and help with the decorating, though never the presents! And then, as we got older we just started doing it all on Christmas Eve. But since madam came along we have reverted to our old ways and now madam has to be in bed before operation Christmas commences. Last year was the first time that Christmas really clicked with her, so when she came downstairs and saw the tree, the decorations and the presents she was so excited!

Third Christmas :)
She checked that Father Christmas had drunk his whisky (which she thinks we should give him more of this year!) and eaten the biscuit she'd put out for him. Then she checked to see if the reindeers had eaten the carrot she'd left and checked outside to see if the reindeer food had gone.

We explained the sparkles might not disappear for quite some time as reindeer don't eat those bits... In case you've never heard of reindeer food and have a little one who may like to put some out to guide Santa to their house, it is made from porridge oats and glitter mixed together! We used quite big glitter so that it sparkled really well in the street lights. You can put food colouring in the oats if you fancy, but we couldn't be arsed! We use about half and half quantities of oats and glitter, you can make it in fairly small batches (you don't need very much) and the birds will take care of the oats!

Fourth Cristmas...
But now that it's advent I am happier to start preparing for the big day. I have already got part of madam's prezzie and something for both my mum and dad. I just need to get things for my brothers and they are always the hardest to get for :( Last year I got older bro a Lego Deathstar! I also need to attempt to sort out cards as for the last few years I have forgotten to send them out!

I think that Christmas is much more fun now that madam is around to be excited by it. When it's only adults it definitely loses something. Madam is still busting for a white Christmas, but I'm guessing she's going to be disappointed again!

Fifth Christmas, brought to you by Hello Kitty!

In case you're wondering, all the decorations come down by twelfth night, by which point we're getting bored of them anyway. I always miss the fairy lights though...   

26 November 2013

procrastination is reaching out!

I could make some joke about windmills in my mind, but nah...

I am a little overwhelmed. I recently checked my spam comments box (I have to say, I had forgotten to do it for ages) and found loads of stuff in there!  If you comment whilst anonymous it puts you in there automatically... There is some lovely feedback and some tips for how to progress. I am really thankful for this discovery as it helps me feel like I'm connecting with people on a much bigger scale than I had thought.

I am glad of this new impetus to keep moving forward. I am feeling a little like I have started an uphill climb at the moment. What with the job hunting that I am doing as well. 

Anyone who follows me on twitter will have noticed a distinct lack of me celebrating getting an interview for the cover supervisor job I applied for (which I wrote about here). This is cause I didn't get one. Even though I thought I had met all their criteria :(

I have emailed them in the hope of getting some feedback but have had no response so far. I have two or three jobs I'm applying for at the moment and will let you know if I hear back from anything. I am getting the distinct impression that being out of work for 5 years might be a big black mark against me. 

I haven't really had much chance to progress a lot further with my current craft project, but am still ahead of myself, so don't feel too worried about it all. I am also planning on how to write it all up so that you guys will be able to read all about it as soon as possible.

I have been doing nothing exciting with my time and am slightly disappointed that my planned trip to the cinema for Classic Movie Tuesday with the We Watch Films guys has been cancelled. This has become my monthly escape and I am now stuck in the house with madam this evening instead. But I am mainly just being moany and selfish, just ignore me... I am *quite* glad I don't have to sit at the Odeon for a few hours though, those seats are still as uncomfy as they ever were...

I think the last time I had been there before the WWF guys showed the Labyrinth was with friend L and we watched the Grease anniversary showing! (I may have completely mis-remembered this event!). I remember going to see the Blair Witch Project there as well...

But I do love going to the cinema and it used to be my bad habit when I lived with my parents. I went 3 or 4 times a week and would think nothing of going from a late shift and then to a midnight showing (obviously not if I was on the early the next day!).

I used to be so up to date with what was around and I still feel that loss of freedom quite keenly. I have to make so many arrangements just to go once a month now, it sucks :( 

Although, I have got a decent working DVD player again and can at least watch stuff in the evenings. I still get stuck with madam's choices after school though! I have vetoed certain films for a while now! We'll be finishing off the film version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this afternoon. We went through the whole of the BBC TV adaption the other day and she wanted to compare! 

I have to say watching one straight after the other really does throw up the "Hollywoodisation" of the film. But I do still quite enjoy it. I have to pretend I don't know the books, but I can just about not throw things at it (unlike friend V!). I do wish someone would make the Magician's Nephew into a film though, I have a real love for that book...

Madam and I went on another nature walk at the weekend and found yet more mushrooms for her to look at. The best was a lilac/grey one we found in the beech wood near my parents. No idea what it was. We never dare pick or eat any just in case they are poisonous. I'd love to go out with an expert and do some proper foraging. I know that we see a lot of parasol mushrooms and as far as I'm aware you can eat those, but I still have that fear just in case we are wrong!

Sadly, I didn't take my phone out with me so didn't manage to get a photo of the lovely purple 'shroom, or any of the windmills we passed on the way home. There are three locally that are no longer in use, but there is a working one locally too (the picture at the top). We need to go back there again. I really want some locally produced flour :)


21 November 2013

a work, or two, in progress

I have done it again. I have started another project without actually quite finishing the last one. I didn't used to do that when I first started. So what changed?

Which bit of me is it that is incapable of finishing what I've started? Because it creeps up and attacks me in other areas of my life as well. I am at an international level for my  procrastination, that much has been true for years. But that usually involves me *not* starting something...

I know that part of it is the thrill of the new I think we all suffer from at various points. You know, when you have to wear your new shoes around the house all day as it's the only way you'll get to wear them... But this thing where I'm racking up unfinished craft projects is not my norm. I am the person who read the Silmarillion (yes, I do want a medal, thanks) because I had started it and didn't want to give up.

(I've just googled Silmarillion to see if I spelt it correctly (I had) and apparently they're talking of making it into a film! Why?)

The only book I have ever given up on, in fact, is Don Quixote. And if you are one of the people who thinks it's brilliant, I will laugh. Because I loathed it. I also really didn't like Wuthering Heights, but did finish it. I have read both Shirley and Vilette because I enjoy Charlotte Bronte's writing. Neither of which were particularly fun for me. So this plodding on until I get it finished is actually my default and I don't know how it's got out of kilter.

Or do I? (that was like some terrible TV thriller). I have begun to wonder if I should view it as a good thing. Not because I end up with loads of unfinished things lying around my already untidy home, but because it shows an unwillingness to put up with things.

I have had a low boredom threshold for years and was trained to stick with things until the end and the joys of delayed gratification. But I am older now, and though I am not seeking instant pleasure wherever and whenever, I am not happy to accept being stuck with something I'm not enjoying.

Why should I? I have, after all, taken the bull by the horns and reclaimed my own life because I was unhappy. I even had to convince myself that giving up on the relationship wasn't giving up. It was actually growth. And allowing myself to be in charge of my life rather than a spectator was ok. I still have wobbles where I realise the power of what I have done, or when K *still* calls me his girl (actually, that mainly pisses me off, how has he not got the message yet?).

On a complete side note, my cousin was asking if I was ok and telling me how sorry he was that life was being shit to me. I mentioned that I was feeling stronger and wasn't prepared to be anyone's punching bag. He hadn't known that part of it and has now promised to beat him up when he next sees him. Which I really don't want, but is quite sweet of him to offer! See, I need someone who wants to fight for me, not with me...

Anyway, back to my inability to finish projects. But it isn't even that. Because 9/10 I do finish them. I just have to have a bit of distance to get re-excited about it again. I set myself challenges with some of my projects by going in at a level I'm not really at yet and hoping I can do it. Sometimes it defeats me and I have to back down and do some simple projects to bolster my confidence for another assault at it. This is certainly how I treat my crochet. And I think that might be because I taught myself from books and magazines with no knowledge of what it should look like. 

I was always pretty confident with the knitting as I have seen people doing it my whole life and knew mine looked "right". But crochet? Nope, none of my family/friends did that. I know a lot who do now, but not when I started. I am more bold with my choices but also love trying new motifs. Because they are small you can try out new stitches/techniques in relative safety. 

So I think that maybe, being always excited and on to the next project is helping me learn more techniques. I want to know it all and grow my skills. The only area this falls down is my sewing! I am still lacking in confidence. Right down to the cutting the pattern. In fact, it's mainly the cutting. Once I have the pieces, sewing it together is not too hard. Fiddly sometimes, but fairly straightforward with the machine. And I like my machine, it does what I ask it to. Bonus!

So, this new pattern I got, I might need some help with... But I will do it :)

Moral of the story? Not sure there is one. But a work-in-progress is not necessarily the only work-in-progress. Learning new skills is fun. Learning when to call it a day is also good...

19 November 2013

what's in a name?

I've done it. It's finally official. My name is now changed and I am back to my maiden name. Despite my flirtations with changing it more completely I have chosen to merely revert as it's easier that way.

After all, the name I was given at birth is one I will always own and as soon as I sort out my divorce will be available for me to use again. Just this weird bit whilst I'm separated means I needed a bit of paper.

And my friend J, who's a solicitor, drew it up for me over the weekend and I signed it yesterday and that's it. She didn't even charge me for it, bless her. So all of you who had got to grips with the weird spelling that I changed it to can now try and remember how to spell the weird name you first knew me as!

my name is all over this, so excuse the massive amount of blacking out!
This new name thing is affecting me more than I thought it would. I woke up this morning with a new feeling of hope about everything. Its like the name has given me some of my identity back, if that makes sense. I feel like, by becoming what I was in the past, I can reclaim my future. My married name had become like a weight around my neck and I felt stifled by it. There was no future in the name so I saw no future in me.

I am reborn. Which is a stupid phrase and has rather weird imagery in my head, but is also the only way in which I can describe it.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life and I'm feeling good (as someone once sang!). It was the right time to do this. I could have waited, but I needed that line drawn. And now that I am focussing on myself again, at last, I needed to be the real me. I can't imagine starting a new job, a new career as my married self. 

In my mind that is a different person, someone downtrodden and afraid of the world. No confidence, defeated. And I am emerging from that past self, shaking it off, learning and growing and changing.

My confidence went up a few notches overnight too. I feel, finally, like I am worth someone's time and attention. And a someone who is prepared to treat me the way I deserve. I still am unconvinced I'll ever meet that someone, but the ability to dream about it is enough for now.

The main thing now is remembering how to do my old signature! I've had to stop and think about it already! In fact there is a page in my notebook where I've practised it! Like I used to do when I was a kid and pretending I was signing an autograph! (gosh, lots of exclamation marks there, sorry)

I am starting anew.

New name.
New start.
New life.
New hope.

New is good.    

16 November 2013

a new chapter

I have started on a new story, my old one has come to a grinding halt and I can't think my way around it. This is what I have so far, let me know what you think:

It started on a Tuesday. At least, she thought it was a Tuesday. It was hard to tell from this point in time. Especially as time was refusing to run in a straight line any more.

She wasn't even sure how she had done it. She had woken up as normal, had a shower and got dressed. She'd mulled over the red dress or the blue playsuit (she'd gone for the dress as playsuits could be so annoying sometimes).

She'd had a quick breakfast, just a banana and a less than satisfying cup of coffee. And then she'd left the house and walked down the street the same as she always did. She had turned the corner onto the main road and been surprised to see the bus stop had disappeared. And not just been moved or something, but genuinely gone. With no marks on the pavement to even show where it had been yesterday, where she'd stood at the same spot and caught the bus to work.

She'd turned to go into the little corner shop that she sometimes went into when she ran out of bread or milk. The owner looked at her in a sleazy way so she only used it in emergencies. Except, it wasn't there either. In fact it was a different shop altogether. It was a full post office with a box built into the wall and everything.

Now this was a definite turn up for the books. As far as she could remember there was a big campaign to stop them closing post offices down. And they definitely weren't opening new ones. Moreover, this had the look of a well-established place. There were even cards in the window with adverts on. She took a step closer to read one which had caught her eye, it had a photo of a vintage Fiesta on it, but what had really caught her eye was the large writing underneath which said "Only 1 Year Old". And the price next to it was enough to make her laugh. 

She went inside and was immediately struck by what people were wearing. She found herself staring at a man with a moustache so like the comedy ones people sometimes wear out of a cracker, she almost laughed. She was going to talk to one of the cashiers when she started noticing the price labels on things. Most of them were in pence. And there were half pennies on some of them!

Now, she was definitely afraid. She was trying to rationalise it, but she couldn't. It appeared she'd gone round the corner from her house and walked straight into the seventies. Or maybe the eighties, she couldn't remember when half pennies had been withdrawn. 

And had she been born then? She was born in 1986, they must have been gone by then as she didn't remember them.

So, whenever she was it was definitely before she was born. And how was she to get home? Or even explain to her boss why she wasn't at work!
"Sorry I wasn't at work yesterday, but I seemed to have slipped through the space/time continuum and come out before I was born. Couldn't get a bus from there, it won't happen again."

She left the post office again and stood back outside where the bus stop should be. She looked and noticed all the cars on the road had really old number plates, the kind that started with all letters. She walked back around the corner in the hope that things would return to normal, but knew instantly that they hadn't when she saw a white man coming out of her neighbour Mr Singh's door. And as she watched him lock the door behind him she was pretty certain she wasn't just making a rather stupid error. 

She stopped in front of her house and saw that the front door was now a pale blue colour whereas she'd painted it a cheerful yellow. She didn't really know what to do with herself. She realised that all her money would be of the wrong size and design so she wouldn't be able to buy anything. She hoped that the banana would sustain her for however long this adventure lasted.

She walked down to the bottom of her street and saw there was a playpark on the scruffy patch of grass that she knew as a rather empty parade of shops. There were several mums sat on the benches watching their small children play. She smiled to herself as she remembered how much freedom she'd had as a child. Not stuck in the house with some form of electronic entertainment.

And then she saw the sign notifying the residents of brand new shops to be constructed. Work expected to start August 1982... 

15 November 2013

no, not a job, a career

A view you can't get tired of.

My job hunting has been slow and steady. I have applied for a couple of things and had a consultation or two with the National Careers Service who have been really very helpful and pointed me in the direction of all sorts of things I didn’t know about. I have one application in at the moment that I am really quite hopeful about.

I have applied to one of the local schools as a Cover Supervisor. Which is a job that I don’t think existed when I was at school. It involves working within the classroom and also in other roles around the school. For example, supervising detentions or sitting with someone who is in isolation for whatever reason. I could be helping with after school activities, going on school trips as an extra body, all sorts really. But the main idea is that I cover for any teacher who needs to be out of their classroom for a lesson or so. I deliver their lesson plan and mark any work etc.

It’s a bit like being an in-house substitute teacher without having to be an actual teacher. So I can totally apply without a teaching qualification. I had a right stress about filling the form in as I am incredibly bad at selling myself and feel like an idiot when referring to myself in the third person. But my stressing worked in my favour as I got the end date muddled and handed in the form before the deadline which made me feel better.

The main reason I am so excited is that I think I actually match the person specification really well. I even had some of the desired skills as well as all the essential ones. I have to wait until the 20th Nov before I know my fate as if I haven’t heard before then I know I don’t have an interview. But if I don’t get one I fully intend to find out why not as I think I am a good candidate. And it would be handy to work on something to help me in the future rather than dwell on disappointment.

I have seen another couple of teaching assistant type roles, both of which are in the SEN area. I would find this a really interesting place to work so am applying even though I know I don’t have the correct experience. They can only say no, after all. I also have a new plan to get some school based experience with my local LEA. I have finally finished updating my CV and will be sending that in to schools along with the correct form they would need from me already filled out (Giz a job!).

I am still really keen to find a job that would allow me to use my listening skills as I do enjoy that type of work and have been looking at both school counsellor and education welfare officer jobs. The former seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth and the latter doesn’t appear to be a need locally. Sucks. But perseverance is the key!

On an unrelated note, it's Children in Need in the UK and madam is going to school in her pyjamas to help raise money. She thinks this is a great idea and I am quite happy to donate a pound for the privilege. They work they do is inspiring and although we haven't directly benefited from their UK work I have friends who have.

In Hull they support both the C.A.R.E. project and the Visually Impaired Cricket Team. The former is somewhere that I would really like to be part of and work for. 

Oh, and one final thing. Hull is up for the UK City of Culture 2017 finals. There is a film that has been produced to back the bid. It makes even me feel incredibly proud of the city. It is time good things happened there, they have been waiting for a chance and this could really be it. The link to This City Belongs To Everyone is here for some reason it won't let me embed the video... 

The whole of the city is getting behind it and there was even a point where #HullYes trended in the UK on twitter because of it. That's us winning the social media battle, lets hope we win the title!

14 November 2013

the benefits of jobseeking

Perhaps I need to start widening my job-hunting criteria!

There has been much stress in my life over the last couple of weeks whilst I sorted out going from Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). I was told all the steps I needed to take and *exactly* when to take them.

I did ask them whether I could apply for JSA early as a payment gap would be a big issue for madam and I. They assured me that if I applied when I was told to that there would be no issues. This was obviously one massive lie.

I have spent the last couple of weeks in a weird kind of limbo wherein I am being paid money, but not the quantity I was anticipating and at different times than I was planning on. I have at least been paid enough that I covered my rent payments, but it left me with nothing else. Almost literally.

My mum and dad lent me some cash just to tide me over and I thought it would be resolved on Tuesday this week when my next payment was due in. Again, I was wrong. The payment wasn’t there at which point I had a major freak out and considered making a formal complaint to the DWP.

I found the site to make complaints and it said I should check with my branch to see if they could help before instigated complaint procedures and I figured, as I was going to sign on, I would ask them in person. Having got to sit with my advisor and he ticked me off I then asked about my money.

The chap looked at me as if I was a bit of a wally and explained for JSA the signing on acts as a signal to release my money and then it would be paid a couple of working days after that. Why no-one could have told me that at any point before I got to meltdown level, I don’t know. The upside is that I am expecting a full payment on Friday and can then pay off all sorts of other things that have been on pause whilst I’ve been transitioning.

One of the things I am waiting to do is change my name by deed poll. This has been more of an issue than I thought it would. It’s my name after all and I *should* be able to call myself whatever I fancy. My dad has proved less keen than I was expecting. I have said for ages I would go back to my maiden name but then, I thought, why should I? I have spent years frustrated at people’s inability to pronounce or spell my name; I should go for something easier.

My mum’s maiden name is really nice and easy and my uncle didn’t have any kids so will die out with him. Well, their branch of it will at any rate, so why not change it to that then. One word: Dad. He was not keen on the idea at all and when my cousin jokingly said I should use it as a first name with my maiden name as a surname he got even more upset! I think it might have been in part as I agreed with said cousin and said it was cool. At no point would I ever have *actually* done that though. I do not wish to spend the rest of my life explaining why I am named after a woodland creature!

So then today I came up with a name that combined the two and I actually quite liked (I still am unlikely to actually use it) and this did at least raise a bit of a smile with my dad. But I think I will just go back to re-joining my lovely Scottish roots. I have always been proud of that part of myself; it’s always made me a little unique amongst my friends. And my middle name, which I loathed for years? Nope, gonna keep that too. Unique is good sometimes. I am nothing if not full of contradictions.

So, having spent a couple of weeks dithering and deciding I think I will just revert to maiden name as I had always planned to. But now I have made the decision I want to be able to do it instantly, the waiting for the official paperwork may be all just too much for me! I then just need to filter it out to everyone who knows me by my married name. Bank first, methinks…

Oh, and then I have to deal with my poor madam being upset she can't change her name too... I have been told the school might do it for her within that setting, but obviously not on anything official.

She had the day off school yesterday as she's having another viral wheeze episode with the rotten cold she has at the moment. We mainly sat about in our 'jamas and played around in the morning and then we went to my parents to annoy them for a bit! Madam introduced them to the Lorax which they both giggled at and I went to the jobcentre again for a meeting with a training advisor. The result of which is me being booked on a course to update my IT skills...