Thursday, 28 February 2013

Not Falling Off

And so I bugger on, digging my way out very slowly with a spork.  It’s like a prison film where you can only dig out bits of mortar while the guard is at the other end of the corridor, and you then hide the mortar in leftover dinner or in your wee bucket. 
Sporks aren’t terribly good for this; in fact they aren’t terribly good for anything.  Therefore I can’t report much progress.  Superficially I am the usual foul-mouthed and joky self which is apparently my personality.  Under that is just a lot of wobbling and trying not to fall.  I suppose in general for most people life is about trying not to fall off things, with occasional bouts of excellent balance where you stand on your head drinking tea and people clap.
I have not yet got medication for my brain-wrongness.  Let’s not go into the boring details why.  So I’m still full of cement.
Despite that, and almost to spite that, I am making myself learn French on the way into work and Dutch on the way home.  The hope is that though one part of the brain is full of shit, other bits are functioning.  Finding my old iPod has been brilliant.  I listen to Puccini arias as the train comes in over the unplaited rails just west of Bruxelles Midi.  The soaring plangent vocals (oh shut up, pretentious twat) and the grey furniture of industry make something lovely out of something not. 
And I hope daily to see the circus performers at the junction of Belliard and Arts.  They wait for the lights to change and then use the four-lanes-wide crossing as a quick stage.  I walk past them nonchalantly but then cannot resist looking back over my shoulder at a young man balancing on something like a Black and Decker Workmate, in the brief spell before red turns to green. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013


Forgive the gap.  It probably looks to the untrained eye as if I'm off gadding.  (Gadding always makes me think of Gary Glitter now, so as a verb it is permanently tainted.)  Trust me, I am not gadding.

The sheer weight of things sits on me like a rather heedless elephant and, jest though I might, I think it may be time to get some medication.  When you live in the most beautiful place in the world but feel nothing, something is not right.  When you wake up feeling as if you are full of cement, something is not right.  Depression is at the door and sadly, unlike vampires, it doesn't wait to be invited in.   I cannot say exactly what makes this happen.  But an excellent book which I have started and will read a page at a time before falling asleep explains that extreme stress fucks with your limbic system and leads to depression.  (I wonder if limbic is related to limbo.)  The small comfort of this is knowing that essentially it is a physical condition.

If you suffer depression to any degree, and those of us who do can suffer it to any degree, you will have probably received a lot of sympathy in your time but also some rather unkind remarks to the effect that you are not really trying to fight it, or something like that.  If you had a broken leg, it is unlikely anyone would tell you you are just not trying to fight it.

Depression is a symptom of something inside broken; it is not just a person wimping out.  Christ, we fight every day against it.  Every day.  Just from time to time, there are too many bloody vampires all gatecrashing at once and it gets too much.

If I can get out from under the weight of things for five minutes, I will get in touch with the counsellor I saw last year. who can prescribe anti-vampire-elephant stuff.


Thursday, 7 February 2013


Sit down, get comfy, maybe get a glass of something fortifying.  This is going to be one of those posts.

Back in the 1970s, when eyebrows were thin and surprised, professional skeleton Helen Gurley Brown perpetuated a popular myth that women could, if they really tried, Have It All.

I bought Cosmpolitan fairly religiously for about 15 years.  When I say religiously, I mean I actually believed what was written in it.  It was the blueprint for a lot of women my age.  What "Having It All" meant was - you could be whatever you want, do whatever you want, and still have a wonderful man who would love you and sex so good it would dislocate your ribs.  I didn't quite fit the mould.  I wasn't ever thin and ambitious in any way, and I became a mum early, which doesn't fit in with the Cosmo ethos.  But Good Housekeeping was far too settled-down and all those recipes at the back.

Anyway, I didn't fit.  Probably none of us actually did really.  But the idea of "Having At Least Quite A Lot of It" sticks.  We keep reaching for the last bit of the puzzle, only to find that there is still a piece missing, and so we continue to reach for the last bit of the puzzle. And so on.

On the surface I have quite a lot.  I've successfully brought up my lovely daughter; I've rarely if ever been out of work and have had satisfyingly good jobs despite having no qualifications; I've done the unthinkable and buggered off from everything, got a good job and a spectacular apartment in a beautiful city; and I have lovely friends.  My family are healthy and we all love each other.  You can see what is coming.  The shape of this hole in the puzzle can be seen from outer space.

Despite my best efforts, and trust me I have tried just about everything, the only attention of the male variety I currently receive is a number of texts from a bloke in Leuven who stood me up months ago, and who will not leave me be.  I have replied to none of them.  This is fairly typical unfortunately.

What I want is so simple it could be written in finger paint.  A lovely, kind man with decent teeth, who makes me laugh and thinks I'm wonderful.  And who treats me well, and who wants to stay; not leave.  They all have this desire not to stay.  Or not to turn up and then text me forever after.

"Having it All" sounds so greedy.  It's weird that women are educated to eat so little and want so much.  Is it greedy for me to want to complete the puzzle?  It's only one more piece.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Soup of the Day

As I kitty-napped on the train home, I became aware that my lips were gently smacking together and woke hoping nobody had noticed.  I'd been dreaming about soup.  What it means to be dreaming about the soup you are going to make when you get home is anybody's guess.  Maybe because I am actually living the bloody dream, my dreams have become dull and soupy.

Again, this weekend I resembled somebody with a life.  If this keeps up I might actually have a life.  And I find less and less that I want to talk about the people I meet.  They are not local colour, or archetypes, or things with which to prop up the page; they are friends.  I have a handful of good friends in Brussels and a handful of going-to-be good friends in Gent.  What more can you ask for, except perhaps a decent soup.  It would be unfair to talk about things they tell me, or how I feel about them, or what they do.  They are not entertainment, they are my lovely people and I am not Liz Jones.  This may cause the blog to die a lonely and hungry death, but what can one do?

This morning I went early to the Gemeentehuis to get my address changed on my ID card.  The police came round before Christmas but these things take time, you know.  When I got there it was in and out in less than ten minutes.  Which would have been fantastic but this afternoon, I realised that the charming guy on the desk had been so chatty that he didn't give me back my ID card.  So, tomorrow again to the Gemeentehuis... 

And on the way to the station this morning I saw chickens.  Just wandering about in a small park.  Just waiting to be soup.