Thursday, 30 July 2009

Fast... and furious

A few years ago I lived on a new housing estate in a one bedroom house, with gas central heating and everything else powered by electric. I was there for over four years, and for the first year the entire housing estate was subject (for no apparent reason) to prolonged power cuts.

I would get in from work, in the middle of winter, switch the TV on, watch an hour or so of mind-numbing TV, then decide to make myself something to eat. And then *plink* all of the power would switch off, leaving me in the dark, cold and suddenly very hungry.

There is very little that you can do in a total blackout except light a couple of candles and huddle up in a blanket and sit... and wait (and make sure that the candles didn't burn down and set fire to the house).

It was difficult to read by either candle or torch light and within half an hour my brain would come up with a helpful suggestion.
"Well how about making a nice cup of tea?" The kettle is electric.... D'Oh!
"Well what about listening to a CD or something?" The CD player is also electric.... D'Oh!
"Why don't you start dinner then?" *sigh* You know the cooker is electric.... D'Oh!
"Well switch the TV on while you are waiting to cook...." Like, hello?!
"Oh well in that case just make a nice cup of tea...." Gaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!

And so on. My brain could not think of a single thing to do which did not involve electricity in some way, shape or form. And it was quite amazing how often my thoughts repeated themselves.

And so it is today. I made the firm decision to Fast on the 9th of Av - the most negative day of the year (well, I wonder why). At 8:30 pm last night I was stuffing my face with the largest pasta dish known to man, and drinking as much water as my bladder could contend with. Then despite being too stuffed to move, I spent the rest of the evening wondering what I could nibble on before I went to bed. D'Oh! I'm fasting!

It was very strange getting up this morning and not having a cup of tea. Or two. As the day has worn on, every single thought is leaning towards food or drink...

My brain keeps offering the same helpful suggestions.
"Coo, I could just have a nice cup of tea..." Oh, but I'm fasting. D'Oh!
"Well, have a glass of water instead.." Yes, but I'm fasting. D'Oh!
"Oo I might just have a banana..." But I am FASTING!!!!

And the last final killer thought:
"You've got some nice ice lollies in the freezer......gowaaaaaaan.... just imagine the cool, flavoured ice melting on your tongue....... Surely they wouldn't mind if you sucked on an ice lolly? It's nothing more than flavour, really......"

On top of that I am on a permanent countdown. When I woke up this morning I had 15 hours to go. Now I only have six and a half.

Oddly enough, apart from the mental repetition and the lack of ability to think about anything else apart from food or drink, I am not physically feeling as bad as I thought. My stomach started to rumble 3 hours ago, made a lot of noise for 30 minutes, and then realised it was wasting its time and stopped. My mouth is a little dry. Maybe I have a tiny headache.

I thought I would be crying by now. And I'm not. Instead I'm feeling so grateful that this is a one-day event - that I have never had to wonder where my next meal is coming from, or whether the water (which is handily piped directly in to my house and is flushed away and wasted without a moment's thought) is clean. What I am experiencing isn't real hardship - it's nothing. Because I know it will end at 10:20 tonight with the Largest Heap of Mashed Potato in the World.....

Stomach, rumble away all you like. Only six hours and ten minutes to go...

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Wednesday's Procrastination

... is writing this blog. Oh, and reading my email.

Yesterday it was watching TV.

The thing is, I have so much to do that as soon as I start to think about all of the things that I have to do, I panic that I do not have time to do them. And my response is to pretend that none of it needs to be done. The result is that I have even less time to do the things that I need to do. The result is more stress, a bigger illusion of panic, and a greater instinct to run and hide.

The good thing about reading my email is that I have signed up to so many positive daily newsletters that I cannot help but be inspired by something. The bad news is that I read so much about what I should be doing (such a nasty word - "should"), then file the email away to put it in to practice later. And then usually get distracted by something completely non-important.

I think I need to print one quote I received today, in 72 point bold, and stick it on every wall in the house:
"Do you value life? Then waste not time, for that is the stuff of which life is made" Benjamin Franklin.
Oh - so another thing to add to the list...

On a lighter note, from tonight at sunset through to sunset tomorrow is the 9th day of Av - Kabbalistically speaking the most negative energy day of the year. It nicely rounds up the past 22 days, which have been also negative. And I have made a decision to fast for 25 hours - no food and no drink from 8:45 pm tonight until 10:20pm tomorrow. I have never fasted before so this will be an interesting experience - and on the most negative day of the year? What fun. No wonder the 10th day of Av is such a great day.

I have been dying to get my hair cut for the past few weeks now. The cut was never right to begin with and is now driving me absolutely insane. I was looking for 'funky' and 'choppy' and 'off my face' but have been getting by with 'floor mop'. But what to do with it? I needed to find a style that works with my fine, straight hair, that wasn't too short, but was away from my face, that had texture...

Given my previous lack of success for communicating with hairdressers (how hard can it be? Which part of 'I need the texture really cut in to my hair and all of the weight taken out. I want it off my face. I want a short and choppy fringe' do they not understand?) I decided I needed a good photo. Something where hopefully their eyes could see what their ears had been missing. I browsed the Internet for pictures and found lots of pictures of styles that wouldn't work (or rather, didn't require an hour's worth of styling and a can of product every day to look half decent - yes, that's right, I want "effortless" too).

Then a couple of days ago I was rooting around for a couple of passport sized photos for a photocard and found two the same that I could use. They were taken a few years ago during a previous attempt to grow out my hair, and I thought 'oo, that's the fringe I want... actually, that's the length I want too...' I thought about photocopying the photo and printing out a copy for the hairdresser, but being lazy decided to just take in my photocard and they could work from that. I picked up the photocard yesterday. The photo is covered with holographic text and the hairstyle is barely visible. So now I need to find a hair stylist with really good eyesight as well as great communication skills....

Something else to add to the list.....

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A Rude Awakening

I have been feeling slightly over-whelmed of late, with all of the new things taking place in my life. New things involve new challenges, and new challenges - for me - involve pushing to overcome a multitude of fears. And that is the way that it should be. Now all I have to do is work out a way of taking off the pressure so that when I push through a few personal brick walls, I don't collapse in a heap as a result!

Thursday - as previously described - was a hectic day. And Thursday followed Wednesday (see, my school days weren't wasted after all) on which day I summoned up the courage to open my online bank account for the first time in over three months. Possibly four.

I know, it sounds daft, not having a clue how much money I have. It's all part of my survival strategy which is based upon ignorance being bliss. When I was working and earning more money than I could spend and paying off the balance of my credit card every month, tracking every penny was a joy. Because every penny was decidedly in the black rather than being in the red. But as soon as I started to use up my redundancy payout, had a credit card bill that I could no longer pay off, had a self-esteem which sat at carpet level and was no closer to finding work, I reached a point where I was too afraid to look. And the longer I left it, the greater the fear grew.

I had a rough idea of what my balance might be but was too afraid to look at my accounts in the event that I was horribly wrong. But as part of starting up my own business, I knew that this was one thing that needed to be faced - it is not possible to forecast the growth of a business without doing a cash-flow forecast and for that I needed to know what the bottom line was. The whole 'ignorance is bliss' strategy only lasts for so long - sooner or later reality will catch up with you whether you want it to or not. Plus I was starting to feel sick every time I used my debit card in the fear that the sales assistant would gaze at me blankly and state "S'bin rejected. You got anuvver card?"

So on Wednesday at 5pm after an entire day of procrastination and stress, I finally reached the 'oh for heaven's sakes this is ridiculous' stage, logged in to my bank account and looked.

And much to my relief, it wasn't so bad after all. Or at least, I am not destitute yet.

Looking at my bank account reminded me of how I felt hiding behind the couch every Saturday evening when the Dr Who music started to play. What I could hear was terrifying, but when I took the courage to pop my head above the parapet, I found that the gurgling monsters were less horrendous (and more "Mr Potato Head") than I imagined. Except for Davros, of course - he still scares me to this day.

On Friday morning I travelled to Harlow to meet with my business advisor, where I gabbled on for an hour in an attempt to convince him that although I hadn't a clue what I was doing, I would get there in the end. I expected to have to show him my personal survival budget and my start up costs for the business, but after all of that build up, he didn't ask.

So add together Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning and that adds up to an awful lot of self-induced stress. In fact, add Monday and Tuesday in to the build up for good measure. I do know how to worry.

So on Friday afternoon, I slept. I couldn't think straight and I could barely move for exhaustion. It was as though two little energy sapping creatures had descended on my body and my mind, and sucked them both dry.

As I curled up on the couch, I was vaguely aware of a fantastically violent thunderstorm raging outside and given that my previous house was struck by lightening (not directly, but enough to blow up both the TiVo and computer modem) I found myself mentally counting to see whether it was moving closer or further away.

But it was only when the hail started that I got up to take a look. I have never seen a hailstorm like it - hailstones ranging in size from peas to marbles were hammering down with such a force that I thought the windows might break. It lasted for no longer than four minutes, in which time the streets, roofs and car windshields were covered in a thick layer of hailstones. Incredible.

The force of the storm is visible throughout the town - the streets are littered with chunks of leaves and deadwood which were literally ripped away, the drain hole at the back of my house is blogged with the dirt that was blasted from my roof tiles, and my front and back doorsteps are covered with chips of previously flaky paint.

I really must get on to the Letting Agents to re-paint the exterior woodwork... something else to add to the list. But no stress, of course...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Reasons to be grateful

Yesterday was a loooong day.

Reason to be Grateful #1: The alarm sounded at 4:45 and I actually heard it (I slept clean through a very loud hour's worth of Radio 2 on most days of last week).

Reason to be Grateful #2: I arrived at the Business Gym at 7:15, assisted with the registration process and didn't screw up. Just being part of the Business Gym is a reason to be grateful in itself.

Reason to be Grateful #3: At midday I caught the train to Hertford and actually had the balls (borrowed, obviously) to chase up some money owed to me. Not such a difficult task after all.

Reason to be Grateful #4: Feeling rather pleased with myself (and lighter than I had felt for weeks) I had time to catch the train home and sit for a couple of hours with a nice cup of tea, a huge salad, and access to email, rather than hanging around in either London or Hertford in coffee shops or bookstores. Not that the cup of tea lasted two hours, of course.

Reason to be Grateful #5: At 18:25 I left the house and caught the train back in to London to mentor a Kabbalah 1 class. It started to pour with rain when I emerged from the tube at Bond Street and I got soaked from the knees down in the short walk to the Kabbalah Centre. So how grateful I was to have remembered my umbrella - I would much rather have soggy knees than be a drowned rat.

Reason to be Grateful #6: The class ended earlier than usual and I made a beeline for Liverpool Street in the hope of walking through the front door at 11:30 (rather than midnight) which was a welcome thought considering my early start.

Okay, so here is where I get slightly short on gratitude for a while....
I ran out in to the main concourse at Liverpool Street and saw that the 22:28 to Cambridge was due to depart from platform 7 in two minutes time. This meant I would need to undertake what some people would describe as "running". I gave my best effort, and considering that I run like a chicken I am sure that I put a smile on a few faces too. However you want to describe my style, I made the train, picked up a discarded free paper and settled in for the journey home.

Several dull celebrity stories later, I realised that the train hadn't moved. Was this the right train? The board said platform 7, the sign above platform 7 said "22:28 to Cambridge"... the sign on the platform itself said "22:28 to Cambridge" but the electronic screens in the train were switched off, it was now 22:39 and the train was still stationary...

At this moment I had what was described by Douglas Adams in "The Meaning of Liff" as an 'Ely': "The split second in which you realise that something, somewhere, has gone horribly wrong..." and at that precise moment without word from the driver, the doors beeped and closed and the train lurched forwards. Bugger. I bet this is the wrong train.

And not only the wrong train, but extremely slow. After 25 excruciating minutes where I flipped between aggravation and nonchalance, instead of arriving at Tottenham Hale, we pulled in to Seven Sisters and the station announcement was given that this was the Stansted Express which stopped only at Harlow and Stansted Airport.

I decided to get off at Harlow and wait for a Cambridge train to be certain, but at Harlow another (departing) passenger said that he was sure that this train stopped at Bishops Stortford. Some of the trains do stop at both.... and this was a late train.... so maybe he is right. After all, the train I got on said it went to Cambridge. The doors beeped before I had time to really think through my options and I jumped back on the train. And guess what?

It didn't stop at Bishops Stortford.

At 23:42, after 20 long minutes of furious evil thoughts towards the driver, the passenger at Harlow and generally willing the train to hurry-the-f**k-up we pulled in to Stansted Airport, at which point the driver casually and quietly announced "Apologies to all of the passengers who thought this might be the Cambridge train" OH, SO NOW YOU'RE F**KING TALKING! WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE THE TRAIN LEFT F**KING LIVERPOOL STREET? CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Dickhead.

Most of the time I am a calm, rational being. On the odd occasion I get really angry. Usually when very tired and not likely to be confronted. I am very good at shouting to myself.

I looked at the London bound trains - platform 1 went via Harlow and platform 3 via Bishops Stortford - but the next train (the one I had just jumped off) was not due to depart for another 25 minutes. Marvellous. I jumped back on board and grabbed another free paper and sat down for the wait.

I didn't have to wait long - just ten minutes later the doors beeped, closed and we were off. WTF?!?! I was thrown once again in to sudden panic - why is this train leaving early? Is it the train on the board or is it heading back to a terminus or worse still, straight to Liverpool Street? I spent an agonizing 15 minutes throwing all kinds of worthless threats out in to thin air. If this doesn't stop in Stortford, I am screwed, because I have already missed the last train out of Liverpool motherf**kers, what's with the lack of announcements? I'll charge you for my cab fare, I will! You'll have to pay! I'm not paying for your lack of communication! I could have been home by now! You dirty, stinking, train-driving bastards...

The train stopped at Bishops Stortford. I arrived home at 12:10. Okay, so there's Reason to be Grateful #7. I spent a night in my own bed rather than spending a small fortune on cab fares or sitting on a bench waiting for the first train to depart. And Oh! What a glorious night of deep sleep it was too.

What a day. If I sit on a train in the next 50 years it will be too soon.

Oh crap, I'm back in London tomorrow...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

On Thin Ice

Oh the magic of TV. For the past few weeks I have been enthralled with "On Thin Ice" - the documentary following Ben Fogle and James Cracknell as they prepare for and take part in the first race to the South Pole for I don't know how many years (I could find out, but I can't be bothered to look it up - my google research seems to be reserved solely for investigating scams these days)

Merely watching them brace against the cold in temperatures way below freezing (with their breath solidifying instantly on their beards) has given me frostbite. I don't envy them one bit and I admire their bravery for traversing the crevasse fields, in terror of the ground simply opening up beneath their feet and swallowing them, ski's, pulks, beards and all.

But at the same time, I do have to laugh. Because this is a TV program. They set off at a rapid pace in front of the other teams, constantly exulting the fact that there is no form of life between them and the pole. They marvel at the isolation and the great danger of carking it unseen.

Except they won't be unseen because they have a professional camera crew following them, giving us the beautiful, long range views of the immense barren wilderness with the three of them trekking along the horizon. After ten days, all of the teams have to make a 24 hour stop at a medical camp. So where did that spring up from and how did all of the doctors get there?

Using the pfm protocol, obviously. (An old IT term, 'p' stands for pure and 'm' stands for magic...)

The presence of all of these other people just makes it seem a bit less life-threatening, if you ask me. It's hardly Scott, is it? At minimum they need to lose at least two toes and a finger (or maybe half a nose) each to convince me that they are genuinely on a dangerous mission.

And what will they do next? They've already rowed across the Atlantic, and Ben has recently returned from South America (risking his life by being infected with flesh-eating parasites). 20,000 leagues under the sea??

I think I'll stick to water-slides and Yoga.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

More money coming my way

I received another email today, this time from the United Nations Assisted Programme for Scammed Victims. It looks very professional - see below:

Unlike the kind offer from Mr O'Brien, the UN actually exists, and they spent a little bit of time creating a front man and investing in graphics. Very impressive. Nice layout (might pinch some of this for setting up my business - what do they say? Oh yes: Plagiarism Saves Time!)

But I am apparently only entitled to a mere $500,000.00 this time, which I find rather disappointing (in comparison to the $19million offered two days ago). I mean, it's hardly worth the effort, is it.

I felt like replying and saying "Take your scrawny offer of half a million dollars and stick it where the sun doesn't shine, matey. I don't get out of bed for less than $1million a day...."

But instead I took my indignation and googled it instead... and found someone who had responded to the scam. Very interesting - take a look!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mindless Time Wasting

The Job Centre want me to be working. That is why they pay me Job Seeker's Allowance and check every two weeks that I have been 'actively seeking work'. And that is fair enough. I want to be working too. I am in the process of setting up my own business, but in the meantime I am living off the good ole JSA, trying to find ways of keeping my self esteem off the carpet.

There isn't a Job Centre in Bishop's Stortford, so I have to travel to Hertford to sign on every two weeks. Due to the distance and the bus timetable, it is a four hour round trip which costs £4.70 in bus fare and £1.20 on a pot of English Breakfast tea in the delightful Serendipity cafe (which I resort to when I have read as many book covers in WH Smiths than I can bear whilst killing time for the bus home).

Don't get me wrong here - I need to count my blessings. Hertford is a lovely Job Centre, as Job Centres go. But that doesn't mean that I want to be there any more than I have to, which is what happened today.

Last week I was away on holiday and before you ask, no, I can't afford it and no, I didn't pay for it. But in order to receive my Job Seekers Allowance I had to a) convince the Job Centre that despite the fact that I was going virtually insane being on benefits and needed a mental break, that I would still be actively seeking work during my holiday and willing to return should some cruel bastard actually offer me work during the one week that I had chose to relax and b) make an appointment to visit the Hertford Job Centre on my return to prove that I was back.

So that is what I did today. One hour there, 3 minutes in the Job Centre, two hours of hanging around (drinking tea and doing what I could with my project plan), and one hour back. £5.90 and 4 hours down the pan.

And yes, I did have a wonderful holiday. Or at least:
  1. I demonstrated to my nephews what real pain looks like when a person hits the water at speed coming off a water slide and takes half of the pool up their nose.
  2. I gave piggy back and shoulder rides and carries whilst carrying a large bag filled with wet towels, a large camera and several tons of pick 'n' mix (MINE!, not theirs. I am not yet loving enough to share my pick 'n' mix with anyone. But I did buy them some).
  3. I bruised my spine in several places (again, coming down the water slide at unnecessary speed)
  4. I demonstrated how to feed the local wildlife, including geese, ducks, rabbits, a moorhen and several rather tame squirrels (one of which came regularly inside the villa to take monkey nuts from my shoulder, and eventually got fed up and peed on me. I took it graciously).
  5. I went out for one evening with my sister and got pissed on a single Mojito... Oh how very Me.
Aah... memories....

Sunday, 19 July 2009

I'm about to become a multi-millionaire!!!!!!

It's so exciting!! I have been vigorously voicing my affirmations twice a day for several weeks now and the ones related to finance ("My world is filled with abundance!!!!" and "I draw prosperity towards me like a magnet!!!!") appear to be paying off. I kid you not!! We cannot possibly predict how the Universe will provide, and I certainly didn't expect for my financial worries to evaporate at 18:57 hrs on a Sunday evening, via email. But who am I to refuse if the Universe chooses to make me wealthy in this way?!

I have just received an email from a solicitor called Everett O'Brien based in Northampton who has told me that he is the sole legal representative of a Mr Daniel Rookie who died with his immediate family in a car crash in 2002. He has been searching hard to find extended family with which to share his US$38 million fortune - and because I have the same surname, he would like to put me forward as a surviving family member and the sole next of kin. All I have to do is to sign a few papers in order to receive 50% of this fortune. That's US$19,000,000.00, give or take the odd cent!!! How shall I spent it?!

Look - I know you think I am being taken in here, but don't worry. It's not like it's an email from the Nigerian Lottery or anything. Everett assures me that this entire process is hitch free, and even though he is a complete stranger contacting via the unlikely method of email, I trust him completely!! He sounds so official.

Once again the words of Catherine Tate's Nan spring to mind: "Hhwhodda load of old shit!!!"

I have to confess, I was intrigued by the email, but as a precaution I decided to perform my usual hoax investigations. I carry these out each time I receive a friendly warning from a well meaning friend. You know the type of thing - that opening an email with the subject line "Free tickets to Disney Land" will result in my computer (and all of the computers of anyone on my contacts list) being hacked and the zero sector of our hard disks being wiped, or that each person that I forward the email to will result in 1p being donated to charity that sends badly maimed and whimpering children for a free trip to Disney Land.

Being as logical as the day is long, I always wonder how this could possibly work (there is no zero sector on a hard drive and who is keeping count of all of the forwarded emails? And why Disney Land every time?). But apart from being logical I have a keen aversion to being conned.

All the same, this really didn't look like a chain email and wasn't full of emotional blackmail either. Very clever. So let's take a closer look at Mr O'Brien's amazing offer....
  1. Everett O'Brien Solicitors do not appear in the results of a google search.
  2. Tyes Court (his office address) in Northampton looks suspiciously like a housing estate on google maps.
  3. Mr O'Brien's email address is - strange email address for a professional.
  4. When I hit reply (yes, I was going to send a 'What a crock of shit' email but decided to spend the energy on blogging instead) the email address is Creative, huh?
  5. Mr Daniel Rookie apparently "worked as an independent oil magnate in my country". Shit - so he must be LOADED!!!!! (Hang on a minute.... an independent Oil Magnate... in England???)
  6. My surname is not that uncommon. I spent an entire weekend a few weeks ago with bundles of Rookies, and yet the embassy could not give any other names. Gosh, how lucky I am that he found me first!!!!
  7. Mr Daniel Rookie, independent UK (??) Oil Magnate left a sum of 38 million US Dollars. I guess that is possible.
  8. Everett O'Brien is insisting on complete confidentiality. Oh crap - looks like I blew that one.
So my clever little brain has either saved me from losing what little money I have through bank fraud OR I will soon be receiving a postcard from St. Lucia from a close living Rookie relative who was second on the list to be emailed...

If that's the case, I want half....

p.s. feel free to spam either of the above email addresses on a regular basis.

Monday, 13 July 2009

A week of boys...

Most of my days I spend on my own. I am used to my space, the peace, the quiet, the 'no need to think about anyone but Me', the 'what shall I eat for MY tea?', the 'what shall I watch on the TV and where is MY remote? (oh, here it is, right where I put it...)'

Life gets lonely at times - nobody to bounce ideas off, no immediate support, nobody to talk to - but I take full responsibility for the situation I am in. If I were brave I would plunge myself in to the environment of a shared house. If I were clever I would find some kind of inbetween. If I were bold enough I would risk Love.

I know that I have a tendency to live inside my own head, my own little fantasy land. It's great there - I have more money than I know how to spend, my wardrobe of clothes leaves me spoiled for choice and each day is filled with love. Who would want to leave?

But I know that if my dreams are ever to become a reality I must start spending less time living in my head and more time living in the real world - in the moment, the present, the Now. Because that is where life actually happens. And this week I will be pulled in to the Now by being surrounded by boys.

One of my friends has 20-month old twin boys. Yesterday I became her unpaid helper at the Twins Club summer party (as her spouse could not resist the temptation of a Corporate treat at an Oasis concert) and there I was in the moment with a roomful of babies, toddlers and small children. Despite two babies being much harder to raise than one, none of the mothers were complaining as their children slowly demolished the room - possibly due to one of the mothers turning up with lively triplets...

Children amaze me with their ability to cover the full range of emotions several times in the space of a few minutes - masters of the art of living in the Now - and my friend's boys were no exception. Thankfully they were distracted enough by the other children not to revert to their somewhat bemusing behaviour of biting each other hard enough to draw blood - again and again and again. It's a wonder my friend has not been reported to social services - luckily (?!) the bite marks are clearly child-sized!

After 3 hours I walked home feeling slightly exhausted from the whole experience. And this is only a warm up. Today I am heading off to spend 5 days with my nephews. Five days with two lively, boisterous, loud, argumentative, sensitive, clever, loving little people. Five days of being kept on my toes. Five days of education on how to live in the Now.

I think I feel ready. In any event my sister has asked that I pack the vodka. The only question is, one bottle or two?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Lots of 'stuff' going on...

I took part in a Life Journey exercise last week with about 20 other people, where you map the story of your life - significant people, events and lessons - in whatever visual way you like.

I thought I was over my past. I have the ability to talk about the nasty stuff without a flicker of emotion - not because I am fighting back the tears or making a significant effort, but because I don't know how to connect with those feelings. My teenage years called for a poker face as far as my home life was concerned. For one thing, drawing attention to our situation outside of the house would 'cause trouble' (and there were enough things 'causing trouble' in our house without me adding to them) and for another, expressing my feelings was a waste of time - it didn't get me anywhere. I think I have a PhD. in "Not Making a Fuss"

So when I sat down to create my Life Journey, I was surprised at feeling very shaky and very sick (Oh for heaven's sake, get a grip, girl), but true to form I decided that this was not the time or the place to fall apart. The other people taking part in the exercise are potential work colleagues (many of them experts in counselling, psychotherapy and mental health) and I didn't want to expose myself as a complete nutcase. (This is a strange assumption to make considering that these people are probably the most likely to recognise that I am not a complete nutcase...)

I pushed myself through the exercise, dismayed to realise that half an hour of frantic scribbling had not captured half of the shit I went through - wow! If I wasn't so adverse to the shelves of self-pitying heartbreaking true life 'sob stories' I could write a book about this! (I liked 'A Child Called It' but then everyone started jumping on the bandwagon. Or maybe I'm just pissed because they all beat me to it :o)

Sorry, I digress. Later in the evening I discovered that several other people had come across things that had upset them. And like the sensible and emotionally sound people that they are, they risked their mascara and excess snot, had a good five minute cry, felt much better and got on with it.

Why can't I do that? My teacher said last week "you look at your feelings through glass" and this is so true. But I don't know how else to look at them. I can't even remember half of them - let's face it, this was over 20 years ago now. But I know that the buggers are still there.

Over the past 20 years I have had numerous attempts at counselling all of which have gone so far and then failed because - in the time-honoured tradition of "Nothing to see here" - I managed to convince each therapist that I was 'fixed'. Either that or the whole therapy process has pushed me in to such a dark hole for so many weeks until the therapist has said 'okay, that's enough. Now you need to start pulling yourself together'

Oh how I love those words.

I have no idea how I am going to fix this. It reminds me of the scene in "As Good As It Gets" where the Jack Nicholson character with obsessive compulsive disorder is told that he needs to make an appointment to see his doctor. How can I resolve my issues when the biggest one of them is a learned reaction of protecting myself by denying that my issues exist? Catch-22, no?

I think I might start with the Temper Tantrum route for a week or two, hurl myself on the floor and kick and scream whenever I don't get my own way and see where that gets me. And then after that I might try some Drama Queen therapy by bursting in to tears when anybody asks me absolutely anything ("Would you like fries with that?" *sob!*back of hand to forehead* "You have no idea how that makes me feel! How can you ask me such a thing?! I am emotionally damaged for life now!")

And then we'll take it from there, I guess.