This is my hand

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It’s a hand that does dishes (or at least loads and unloads the dishwasher).
It’s a hand that has raised two children.
It’s a hand can play the flute.
It’s a hand that has written eight novels.
It’s a hand that looks its age; that has a little arthritis starting in the wrist (broken twice while rollerblading and cycling).
It’s a hand that, for half its life, has worn a wedding ring. And now it doesn’t.
I like it fine.

The Year of Saying ‘Yes’

Here’s the thing I don’t want to do: carry on living my life exactly as it was before, but with the sense that something is missing. Like – oh, I don’t know … let’s say, for example, a husband.

That’s what I’m not going to do – go on the same but with a husband-shaped hole.

Because, to be honest, that would be a ridiculous waste of time and endow the absent one with far too much significance. Whereas, quite obviously, the important one here is me. And the important two is my children. And the important three is me and my children. So, it’s a new life for me.
Brave words, eh? And, strangely, it didn’t take me too long to come to this momentous decision, but carrying out my resolve is going to take some thinking. (All suggestions gratefully received, btw.)
One reason it’s going to take some thinking is because, after 28 of marriage, I’m not really used to thinking about what want. Like most women of my age, I’ve felt, for some time, like the jam in the sandwich, being slowly but surely squeezed on all sides until I’m spread so thin. I’m virtually invisible. I know what I am to other people – a lift, a meal, a pile of clean laundry, a secretary, a bank, a counsellor, a personal shopper. But what I am to myself is more of a mystery. 
So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to try to change my habits. I’m going to alter my thinking. I’m going to try to work out what my instincts are, and follow them.
I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to go about this, but the first thing I’m going to do is say, ‘Yes!’ and see where it leads. I’m not even sure yet what I’m going to say Yes to, but I’m saying Yes to that too. I’m going to say Yes for a whole year, even when I don’t feel like it, and I’m going to write about it here.
Yes, I am.
Feel free to join me. 

The Sorrow and the Pity

A couple of days ago, a woman I like immensely but rarely see got in touch out of the blue and, after a very few texts, we’d arranged to meet for brunch. Lovely. Then I went all paranoidy and started wondering if she knew, somehow, about my situation and was only asking me because she felt sorry for me.

This has become something of a habitual thought pattern for me over the last couple of months, since I found out about my husband’s affair. Anyone who was particularly nice, anyone who said, ‘How are you?’ in way one reserves for the particularly unfortunate, anyone who appeared to look at me with concern, I immediately assumed they knew and it would throw me into a spin. My major concern, at that point, was preventing my children finding out and, of course, the more people that knew, the greater the risk that it would get back to them. That was part of the reason it bothered me – and that sounds rather laudable and unselfish, doesn’t it? But that was only part of  it.

I hate – absolutely HATE – feeling like the object of pity. Maybe everyone does. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve ever asked anyone. Maybe I should. And I think my freakishly calm reaction to this whole being-dumped-after-so-many-years-of-marriage thing has been conditioned by that sentiment. I’m all, ‘I’ll be fine. Of course it’s very sad, but I’ll be absolutely fine. Don’t you worry about me!’. Pride, you see. It’s the original Original Sin. And it comes before a fall, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up in this situation.

Anyway, it’s almost time to come out in the open about my situation, and anyone who doesn’t know, will know. And there’ll be plenty of ‘How are you?’s. Plenty of kindness and concerned looks and invitations out of the blue for brunch. I’ll be an object of pity. Of course I will. I’m the betrayed wife. The one they made a fool of. What could be more pitiable? But I’m learning … I hope. I’m going to shift my point of view and park that stupid pride for a bit.

Because how lucky am I, in the midst of all this mess and heartache and sorrow, to have people around me who care enough to pity me? Who care enough to invite me for brunch, to ask the awkward question, to text me just to check how I am, to see past my stupid glib assurances and my pretended strength.

Very lucky. Very lucky indeed.

Thank heaven for the internet!

The other day I had to buy a dozen double damask dinner napkins. Don’t ask why. I just did. Sometimes you simply have to do these things.

Anyway, thanks to the internet I was able simply to click in the appropriate place on the John Lewis website and didn’t have to go and actually ask for them. Who knows what might have happened otherwise!

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Prepare a yawn …

I’ve been tagged by Coffee Boy for a meme that you may have seen going around. I’m very bad at memes – nothing brings crashing home my fundamental dullness like being asked for 5 interesting facts about myself. I’ve got one of those pending. Very pending. And every time I think of something more or less interesting, I write it down on the proverbial back of an envelope. And then I lose it. There – that’s probably more interesting, in itself, than anything I’ve written down on the envelope so far.

So you see my problem. And it’s going to be made all the worse by the fact that Coffee Boy did a triumphal job with his version. Anyway – here goes. At least with this one, the questions are provided so that’s half the inspiration. That’s it – it’s a meme for the intellectually fatigued!

1. My uncle once: no – in fact, several times, was summoned to donate blood because he had some fancy rare blood group. In fact, he went on donating long after age should have precluded him because of it!

2. Never in my life: Kentucky Fried Chicken. Brrrrrr.

3. When I was five: I was very good at climbing trees and wanted to be an archaeologist. Lara Croft was totally based on me.

4. High School was: mostly in Scotland.

5. I will never forget: sorry – I wrote it down on the back of an envelope – it’s here somewhere …

6. I once met: Christopher Lee in a lift. I couldn’t prevent myself putting my hand up to my neck.

7. There’s this girl I know who: … hey that sounds like gossip and I’m officially the most discreet person in the world. I knew exactly where Johnny Depp was staying when they were filming The Libertine round here and I didn’t tell a soul! And I knew David Tennant was going to do Hamlet way before it was announced. Likewise, didn’t breathe a word.

8. Once, at a bar: I used to drink Scotch and coke. What was I thinking?

9. By noon, I’m usually: wondering why I didn’t have breakfast.

10. Last night: it rained and rained and rained.

11. If I only had: one super-power, it would be the ability to give malefactors immediate and irresistible diarrhoea. (Actually, the ability to spell diarrhoea without having to look it up would be a start.)

12. Next time I go to church: I’ll be thinking about my mum and wondering where she’s gone.

13. Terry Schiavo: is someone I just looked up on Wiki, but I don’t really have an opinion.

14. What worries me most: is being trapped by the foot by a giant clam, underwater.

15. When I turn my head left, I see: a door and a lot of paperwork patiently awaiting my attention.

16. When I turn my head right, I see: another door and, through it, my son, playing on Guitar Hero III.

17. You know I’m lying when: my voice goes all squeaky and I sound particularly reasonable.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: is my gravity defying hair do.

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: ‘a’ or maybe ‘k’.

20. By this time next year: my kids will be in Peru – perubably.

21. A better name for me would be: ‘Gazes Out Of The Window’ or ‘Shops At Primark’ or ‘Rarely Does Ironing’

22. I have a hard time understanding: what people mean when they say, ‘deceptively simple’. Does that mean it really is simple but it looks hard, or it really is hard but it looks simple?

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: be surprised by what a cold day it is in hell.

24. You know I like you if: I get all silly and giggly.

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: my lucky stars – or maybe St Jude, patron saint of lost causes.

26. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro: what?

27. Take my advice, never: think to yourself, ‘Well, these shoes are bound to get more comfortable as I wear them’.

28. My ideal breakfast is: baguette, unsalted butter, Rose’s Lime Jelly Marmlade and Yorkshire tea – lots of it. 

29. A song I love, but do not have is: Rapper’s Delight, by the Sugar Hill Gang. More innocent days, my friends.

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: you buy an attractive bust of William Shakespeare. Every home should have one.

31. Tulips, character flaws, microchips & track stars: are you on drugs? Oh, I see. Tulip – Queen of the Night or those nice lily-flowered types with the pointy reflexed petals; character flaws – too many to list; microchips – salt and vinegar, please; track stars – with the Hubble telescope.

32. Why won’t people: just do what I tell them?

33. If you spend the night at my house: you’ll be quite cosy, although a cat may walk on you.

34. I’d stop my wedding for: Mr Briggs, bringing the letter that confirms that my husband to be, Mr Rochester, is already married. Actually, I wouldn’t marry Mr Rochester at all. I think he’s abusive. Mr Darcy all the way. Or possibly Noddy – own car, cheerful nature, good with animals, steady job, likes cake. What’s not to like.

35. The world could do without: string cheese.

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: have it lick my belly. But I’d want to wash it first. And make sure it’s horrible little scratchy feet were out of the way.

37. My favorite blonde is: … must I? I don’t really like blonde men, tbh. Don’t mind ginge, don’t mind grey, don’t mind bald – but blonde … nah, sorry. If I must – Gwen Stefani.

38. Paper clips are more useful than: you might imagine. You can straighten them out and prod people with them, for a start.

39. If I do anything well, it’s: usually by accident.

40. And by the way: you’re snoring!