Previous month:
September 2009
Next month:
November 2009

October 2009

the shining

Here I am in my father-in-law’s front room, surrounded by photos of his boys in gowns, (ha! Not that sort of gown! that would be a cartoon to do, but no scanner at hand, sadly) in various degree ceremonies. For even unto darkest Kerry I have come, an incredibly lengthy train journey (it would take less time to go to another country altogether, like say, the USA), to see the JB and his Dad. It’s one of those linear Irish towns, his hometown, built as if on a ledge between the side of a mountain and a tidal river, and prone to gloomy dark rain.
This afternoon we went out and walked along the hill behind the town, and back through the terraced houses.  We passed one spooky, grey, semi-abandoned one, and the JB regaled me with a story of how a mad man used live there. The mad man used to forget to take his medication and get up on top of his house and be mad! And there was another, wherein a “shiner” used to live.

A shiner? I said, puzzled. (Did a huge black eye live in the house? Or someone who cleaned shoes for a living?) What’s that?

You know, a shiner, he answered. Someone who, you know, exposes himself to people. He used shine all around town!

I thought about this.

A flasher, you mean?


Oh yeah. A flasher.

The JB has a PhD, for Gawd’s sake. He has published a ton of papers. My latest hypothesis about this strange and wonderful JB, is that he reserves all his brain power (every brain cell, yes, I do mean all of them) for his research. It’s a bit like living with a very nice Martian, sometimes. Not so long ago, I witnessed him picking up a packet of cocoa, peering at it, and saying slowly KOH-KOH-AH.

He’ll be the death of me, by laughter.

ask me no questions

Episode 1, last week, in the Torture Chamber
As part of my "recovery", Ms Spangles, my physio, advised me to play ball with my "kids".

Hrmm, where are these kids of whom you speak, Spangly-eyed one?

She's a nice young woman. But what is this assumption that I am marriedwithchildren?
I could be gay/single/part of a harem with children/cats/donkeys/nothing, for all she knows.
I could have fertility issues, Spangles!
It was an opportunity to do a little awareness-raising, in a way. I could have answered with the stunningly obvious:
Not everyone has children, you know!
We haven't been able to have them.

Cue: long pause? toe-curling embarrassment? learning moment?

We'll never know, because I just nodded dumbly. (I was delirious with relief, because I don't have to do back to physio for a month! HURRAY. Then I have to go back to see an Ortho-surgeon, who's going to tell me if I need an operation. But that's A WHOLE MONTH away! and no torture inbetween!)

Episode 2, last night, the doorbell rings.
Goody, I think, pushing myself off the sofa, it's L and/or A, my friends, the sisters, who are fans of the Drop-In.
But no.
It was two clean young men called Elder C*rey and Elder M*ore. They're from the "Knighted States", and want to come in for ten minutes.

Oh, quick, brain, think of a lie. A lie, brain, a lie!

I'm - eh - making the dinner!

Well, we'll have to run with that, brain. Unoriginal but plausible, I suppose.

They press a leaflet into my hands. They're on about The Family. Actually, they are proclaiming to the world some things we've heard before, some fairly obvious things and some things that are, at best, a matter of opinion.

Do I have a family?

Opportunity to stick it to them with a nice, loud, robotic:

No. We have fertility problems.

Except I didn't want to tell them. It's just too personal and sensitive a thing to blurt out like that.
So I went with:
We just got married.

Which was a lie, and a dopey lie, and why do I even care what these people think? Yes, I wanted them to go away and ask our neighbours instead, but really what WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME, THAT I CAN'T JUST BE HONEST?

Yeah. Since early childhood, I have been brainwashed to be nice (at the expense of honesty, clearly) and I just can't break out of it.



If anyone has got any good answers to the family question, I'd love to hear them.

Your less-than-frank,

Show and Tell

Show and Tell Chalkboard 2

Hello to all, from a blustery Ireland.
You are most welcome.


In the park recently, in this autumnal weather, with the leaves turning overhead, I came across a couple of parents with a small boy, perched on a bike with stabilizers on it.

There was something so endearing about this family unit, so unassuming, as they pushed their boy off on his first solo ride.

His delighted cry, full of the surprise of discovery:

I can do it!

made my young/old heart fill with longing.
Have a look at Mel's Circle Time post to see all the Show and Tell posts.

Freudian slip

I was shearing cutting the JB's fleece hair last night. He goes for a kind of R*ddy Doyle, know the one?

We invested in the Hair Clipping Machine a few years ago, because the JB was too lazy to go to the barber, and would end up with a woolly look, like a bespectacled lamb, that was cute only to me and his Dad.
Like this:


Anyway, last night. We were jokey from relief from dodging the Home for the Bewildered and there I was, ploughing furrows in the JB crop of hair, telling him how good I was getting at this.  (He tells me I am my own best press agent. It's true. For some reason, it amuses me hugely to boast to JB. I do do it a lot. Then I ask him if I am a pain. (However, I'd like to assure everyone, lest they should be put off meeting me in the flesh, that this behaviour is reserved for him.) (And my mother. That's it. I swear. Right, well. Let's pause while you give thanks that you are not married to me.
and neither did you give birth to me

I took the guard (it has settings, like 3 and 4, on it. See? I am practically a professional) off so I could trim some stray wool hairs. I'd just finished. Oh. Wait a minute, it's a little bit uneven there, I'll just...


I forgot to put the guard on again.



Home for bewildered: Avoided, by a whisker

We've been through the wringer this weekend. It started in I.KEA, amongst all the nesting, clucking couples, choosing their SNIGLARs on Friday evening. JB was all morose and touchy, and not his normal lovely self (he really is very easy-going normally). But when I'd ask him, he'd claim to be "grand". This went on, the "grandness", until finally that night at home, he admitted to being a bit down about the rough 18 months we've had, and how he felt sad for us. Oh, JB, says I. Tell me next time, so I know.

End of problem, or so we thought.

Saturday was shaky. But better. We went to see Up (which is very good. A child's film with a grown-up central theme, about losing your grip on your dreams and getting older. (How apt)).
In the foyer, JB told me he had been putting money aside for our next visit to the ChildDr in December. Well, (I said) as I 'd explained before, I only made the appointment because the secretary rang me and put me on the spot - I had not committed myself to it. Oh, grand, he said.
By the time we got out I was feeling very sorry for myself. My shoulder was aching, (apparently I have arthritis in it, I discovered on Thursday) I was tired (the 4AM watch continues), I didn't want to think about IVF in December, I was depressed about the whole effing everything.
I started to cry quietly. He asked me if I was ok. We got home. I went into the kitchen, and to my astonishment, he, the JB, my lovely compassionate JB, turned on his computer and started working on a paper, ignoring his sobbing wife.

Me (bitterly, with maximum sarcasm): That must be very important to you, J.
He said he didn't know what to say, and I said he didn't have to say anything, just be with me and give me a hug. Then the whole thing came out, (incoherently, in an un-Jane-like messy rush) about how I felt pressurized to do IVF, and I didn't feel I was getting any support, or he would stick by me even if it was a disaster, and he was avoiding me and just burying himself in work. He admitted he used work to avoid thinking about our problems but he was there with me and we would be okay, he loved me no matter what. Things ended on a better note. He was happy we had cleared the air, we had a bit of a laugh on the sofa about ourselves.

End of problem, or so we thought.

Sunday morning. What does JB want to do today? (Does he want to come down to see my parents, as previously discussed?).

He said: I think I'll stay here and do some work.

More tears. Seriously, this was his response to last night's discussion? Seriously, now? MORE WORK?

Well, (he said) really he just wanted some time by himself and didn't want to hurt my feelings.
Well. I could understand that, I often ask for quiet time. That was okay.

I sometimes think you'd be better off without me, says JB. Your life would be less painful.

Sad silence.

And then a little voice in my head pointed out that the JB feeling guilty like this, it is not good, for either of us.
Thank you, little voice
In a moment of inspiration, I got up and got my little book, The Portable Therapist, which I bought while having a wobble on our honeymoon. It is so sensible and kind.

We read some chapters to each other and it was like being trapped in a blind alley, and suddenly finding a door handle. The author, a wise, wise woman, tells how destructive and pointless guilt is, how it paralyses you, how it turns into blame and resentment. and prevents you from really living. So all the guilt the poor JB was feeling about wanting a biological child so much, about my having the lap and all the treatment I might need, and the guilt I felt about not being able to get pregnant, all had to stop.

What a relief.

Not that that's going to be as simple as that, of course. But I feel like a door opened for us. There's help there if we need it.

We are finally, finally, on the same page, at least for now.



JB's friend and colleague plus wife/partner (depends who you ask) were to come over on Saturday for dinner.  In the midst of the mad panic culinary preparations, I rang my mother who is a well-known good "cooker" (as the kids say) to ask her how to prepare some chestnuts quickly, in time for dinner. (JB had come home with uncooked chestnuts in their shells.)

She responded:

Where did you get the chestnuts? You didn't.. did you find them in the park?

Ma. I do know you can't give people conkers for dinner.



the black night of the soul



It should be easy, shouldn't it? But it seems to have slipped my mind how to pull it off. I can fall asleep easily enough, but come 4am (not a good time to think about Life, kids) I am half-awake, and then totally awake, and then thrashing around like a dying fish on the pier. It's not so much fact that it's tiring, as it's depressing, the kind of things you think about at that time of night.
Know what I mean?

Last weekend at my parents', on my squeaky old nun's bed, (and no Kerryman to keep me company), marked a bit of a low-point. Mad thoughts circled my mad little head, including (but not limited to):
  • dark thoughts
  • mournful thoughts (about a pony I knew that died about 20 years ago, funnily enough)
  • ludicrous thoughts
  • "brilliant" demented ideas
  • Thoughts about my post-menopausal role model, Jane (Surely she doesn't ever feel like this?)
  • hungry thoughts
  • bored thoughts
  • frustrated thoughts
And so on. I'm annoying myself with my early morning angst.

Anyway. I got that off my chest.
Here endeth the moaning.


state of play

Menopause symptoms=0

(Unless you count the rush of blood to the head I got when JB had the NERVE to ask me to get him some mayonnaise and milk the other day and then, after 10 mins, ADD green apples to that list as if he'd never heard of rush hour traffic and parking. This was even as he kindly was rushing home to let me in, when I found I'd locked myself out. Yes, that could have been sheer crankiness, but oh look! here's the zola.dex, let me hide behind that.)

Menopause symptoms=1

All is well. In fact, things are wonderfully quiet internally. You don't realise how much of a tide of hormones your mood rides on until it stops, everything is still, you are unchained from the beast and you become calm and powerful and Jane Fonda-in-that-l'Oreal-ad-like.
(Well, one can but hope).

Here's another thing:


I've been painting the front door, and feeling urges to bake, and knit.
So help me, I think I'm nesting.