I am rrrrrrrrubbish at maths. Me and numbers, we don’t get along. They push all up in my face and make me itch and CONFUSE me with their fiddly-diddly numbering and multiplications and fancy-shmancy divisionals. Bleargh. Simply, I don’t do maths. Nope. This is why CALCULATORS were born, innit? And occasionally, if I need to do some urgent mathematicals, I just ask. I ask for help. I have no qualms about admitting I don’t do maths. ‘I can do WORDS,’ I intone, ‘words are MUCH FRIENDLIER and more comfortable and don’t SPIKE me so much.’ And then I get loads of sympathy and people absolutely do my maths for me. Hoopla!
See, no trouble asking for help with maths. None at all. I’ll do it right now – HELP ME HEEEEEELP MEEEEEE WITH THE EVIL SOUL-DESTROYING MATHS! Tada! Nice and clear intent, simple message, good emphasis. You got it, yeah?
Good. Go me!
So why can’t I do it for other areas of my life?
Why can’t I say to someone, anyone, ‘Help, I need help, I’m struggling, I feel sad and alone, I’m so bored and freaking out, please help me, please just talk to me, or check I’m OK, please’?
And the STUPID THING IS, I deleted that sentence and rewrote it a few times to make it sound less needy. Fucksake.
I’m an idiot, essentially. I have excellent friends and a totes shawesomeballs family. They rock. I luff them lots. I KNOW I can rely on them for all the support, love, advice, and company I may need. I know this, and I’ve received a lot of that good stuff in the past. I just can’t ASK for it. I hate bothering people. I worry that they’ll feel obliged to help me, while muttering under their breath about how self-involved I am, and then I worry that they think I don’t appreciate them enough, when I do, I really absolutely totally do, and I am so grateful to everyone who ever helps me, ever. I feel, sometimes, like I have to persevere, and endure, because that’s what life is, and I should just quit moaning, get on and do it.
I’m a single mum. I do the parenting thing, on my own, for the best part of the week. It’s difficult and tiring and, haha, sometimes, almost as bad as doing maths. The relentlessness of playgroups, toddler groups, the supermarket, tidying up felt-tip fucking pens, wiping clean a shit-encrusted arse, feeding, bath time, pushing the buggy, hoovering up bits of crushed chalk, finding stickers in my knickers, having Cbeebies on for what feels like forever, finding fridge magnets in my bed, putting away, washing, hoovering, wiping, tidying, carrying, pushing, fucking-shitting-hula-hooping, why the fuck did I buy her a hula hoop… yeah. It’s full on. Sure, it’s not dodging bullets or fighting off sea monsters, but y’know.
The rewards are obvious. I have a beautiful, funny, gregarious daughter. I would do all the above, and more, and even more, and backwards, blindfolded, if it meant she was happy and healthy and having fun. Just sometimes, y’know, I need to acknowledge that it’s HARD on my own.
Despite me writing all this, I am not likely ever to admit to needing help. And I’d like to reiterate, I am NOT asking for help right now. The last few days I’ve needed to, badly, but I made it through. I’ve been busy, kept occupied, distracted my stupid brain and had a fucking good cry when I’ve needed to. I’ve set myself some personal goals. I’ve listened to the advice of some sage and learned people. I’ve managed to keep on top of the housework WHICH IS A FUCKING MIRACLE. See? Me no need help. Unless it’s for maths. Can anyone do my maths?
What I’m TRYING to say, in a roundabout-ish sorta way, is, don’t be a dumbarse like me. If you think you need help, ASK for some. There’s no shame in asking. Ever. If you have people around you who care, then ask them for help. It could be all they need to do is listen as you admit to feeling scared, or sad, or lonely. I told someone today that I felt like shite and, funnily enough, felt better for it. Once the words had crept past my lips it was like I’d expelled them. Magic. Sure, it doesn’t solve everything but at least it’s not bottled up inside me where the most damage is done. Admission counts. Fo sho.
Please do my maths.
Do you find it difficult asking for help? What stops you? What would you never ask for help with?
Tomorrow is the 16th August, and it is my birthday. It is also Madonna’s birthday. She is exactly twenty years older than me. This is why I was convinced, when I was younger, that when – not if, but when – I met Madonna – y’know, jogging in Hyde Park or erm, shopping for conical bras innit – we would end up being BFFs, cos we shared a b’day. ‘Madonna! Hey,’ I’d coolly open with, ‘my birthday’s the same as yours. I love you. Let’s be mates?’ And her immaculateness would reply, ‘Yeah all right, Fran, you’re pretty farking awesome yerself, don’t cha know’ and then we’d make out while half-watching Desperately Seeking Susan over and over.
Sadly, I no longer adore Madonna. Soz, Madge, but you look like you’re made out of some weird shiny clay, and you seem, I dunno, just a bit, um, hard work. So I don’t really wanna be friends any more. But don’t sweat it, you’re still way richer than me.
Anyway, birthdays. That annual reminder of your approaching decrepitude and eventual mortality. Pardon me for not celebrating. Birthdays make me introspective rather than celebratory and it has been that way for a while, not just cos I’ve had a totes shiteballs year. I set myself high standards and if they’re not met I end up being quite hard on myself. You might have noticed that particular personality trait, innit.
Wonder if Madonna does that? Question her lot in life, I mean. Is she content with her big house, hunky younger man, African babies and the knowledge that quite a large percentage of the world’s population have seen her minge? Is that enough for her? She’s one of them folk who constantly strive to reinvent themselves, but I suspect it’s more a relentless promotional tool rather than a need to ‘find’ the ‘real’ ‘her’. Then again, who knows. She’s built a career on presenting us with a cavalcade of painted faces (and minge) and yet, d’you want to curl up with her on a sofa and share a tin of custard creams, drinking tea and bitching about that bastard Guy Ritchie? Nah. Not really. I’d rather do that with someone approachable and warm and fun.
Or maybe that’s the secret. That’s how you get through your days. Mould yourself a iridescent carapace to drape around your shoulders, and hang a KEEP OUT sign on your life. Practice holding everyone at arm’s length. Be brilliant, have moments of genius, and remain untouchable. Go jogging in Hyde Park with your minders and ignore the plebs who so desperately want to emulate you. Every now and again, get your tits out and have a radical haircut. Is that the formula? Fark me, now if only I could write good songs.
Oh who gives a crap about Madonna. She’s nowt to me now other than a dessicated, strangely muscled husk with an impressive back catalogue. Fond memories, maybe. I’m mooching about in my head cos tomoz I’ll be thirty farking four. That’s thirty farking four, people. Young to some, but old in my soul. I feel older than I should. This last year – the one since my last b’day – has aged me.
Madonna. Me. Who’s the best? Only kidding. What’s the secret to an enjoyable birthday? Lemme know below in your usual manner. Much love.
I’m a sociable kinda gal. Most people may be utter cunts but I like to surround myself with the good’uns. Nowt like a lovely chat to perk up yer day. And d’y'know where it’s good to have a chat? That Twitter. Huzzah for Twitter! You can rely on Twitter 24/7 for inane banter, scintillating mass debate, and cutting edge topical jibber-jabber. I currently have over 2500 followers, which, to the uninitiated, means I’m more popular than Geoff, but a lot less popular than Justin Bieber, or someone with their tits out. That’s OK. I can handle that. I like having followers. Makes me feel like I’m a cult leader. And that’s CULT.
But yesterday and today I’ve been doing something I’ve not really done before. I’ve been unfollowing people. I know. It’s not even a real word. Yet I’ve been doing it.
See, at the moment I’m following 1757 people. That’s a lot of people. Some of them are famous people. Most of them are not. And I figure I only ever interact, on a regular basis, with about, say, hmmm, 5% of them? That’s more or less 88 people.* Out of 1757. WHY DO I FOLLOW SO MANY PEOPLE? My timeline gets all cluttered with their farking milm and crappy wiff-waff. Most alarming. I really don’t know.
Consequently, I began unfollowing. And how liberating is that? Like ‘squashing bluebottle flies’, as @agingmatron so charmingly put it. Yeah, well, it is. It is like cutting loose the useless and the non-fun. I could not have found it more brutally satisfying unless I had been casually picking off scabs from my knees, or peeling dried glue from my hands, or pulling apart split ends in my hair, as I did it. It was like I had fired up my giant laser and began zapping the driftwood from my Twitter timeline with an unenforced glee. Really. It was that good.
I’m still doing it. I’ll see a tweet, think, ‘Fark me, that person sounds like a proper bozo. UNFOLLOW IMMEDIATELY!’ Or, I’ll see a tweet, think, ‘Hmm, I’ve not heard from such-n-such in a while, are they following me? No? SACRILEGE! UNFOLLOW!’ It surprises me how many people I thought were following me, actually aren’t! Bastards. Their loss. I know Twitter does this unfollowing glitch every so often so there may be some genuine technical error in there, but more often than not, I guess people get fed up with me and sidle off, with nairy a farewell. Pfft. Two can play at that game.
The plan is to keep unfollowing and see what I can narrow it down to. I continue to follow new people so my totals will dip and rise a bit. Yes, I know I’m thinking about this a bit too much, and no, I really have nothing better to do. I am cultivating a nice carapace of bitterness, y’see. When I’m a big as Bieber EVERYONE will want to be my friend.
Man alive, it’s like a farking school playground.
How do you play the Twitter game? Are you a serial follower, or do you wait for folk to come to you?
And if I’ve unfollowed you and you think this is a travesty and a farce, do let me know.
*thanks to Twitter people who helped with the maths. I can’t do maths. Maths bites me on the extraordinary arse
Friends. Friends are good, yeah? There’s songs about them. And TV sitcoms that revolve around groups of them. Literary novels and epic poems written in their honour. They’re everywhere. Look! A friend! How lovely. I love my friends. Y’all are supery-dupery niceness on a plate, with added shmink and rum cocktails. Innit.
We need friends. Friends get us through all the troublesome bits of our lives. They lift you above the scummy patches. They make you lemonade when all you got is lemons. Or something. I’ve counted on my friends A LOT in recent times and I am truly grateful to every single one of them. Makes me feel all warm and squishy inside, it does. Though that could be the rum cocktails.
This is why I am ruminating on friendship: I’ve been worrying the last week whether it is possible to remain friends with my ex. I mean, sure, it is POSSIBLE. But do I want to? This is a man I am still married to, but separated from. By all accounts we now lead different lives. He has his friends, a new job starting soon which means a move to a different city, opportunities to get on with things afresh and – ostensibly – without my input. Fine; fair enough. Am happy with that. I’m doing my own kind of moving on. We’re cool. It’s groovy.
But friends? Like I said, friends do good things for you. They’re yo buddies, ya mates. I can’t think that I’d call my ex if I needed a good sob about my love life. Ack, no. Similarly, I don’t want to know about his. I’m guessing that topic is totes off limits, as might be money, personal bodily malfunctions, family matters, celebrity divorce (too topical) and, erm, the state of the economy (just cos I find it boring). So we talk about the usual stuff, which generally means: Moo. And films. Again, fine. No problemo. I can do the whole ‘let’s be amicable’ bit. It’s when things get a bit iffy that I baulk.
Like last weekend, when I had some issues with one of his so-called friends. Ha! That’s a whole different vent about friendship and what it means. But I guess y’all got the gist of that anyway. Yeah. Ahem. Indeed, I just feel awkward now, knowing that a person I object to rather violently is still a part of his life, and it seems I can’t do anything about it. Fun times. On top of that, it’s our wedding anniversary at the end of this month. A day of sadly fond remembrances. Huzzah. Wahoo. That’ll be weird on a stick.
So it’s a tricky concept, methinks. The whole friends-with-my-ex thing. Am I hoping for too much? Is there always going to be a barrier there? Or do I just need to give us some time? Everything is still so raw. I can’t conceive of ANYTHING long-term right now, cos if a year ago you’d have said all this would be happening, I’d have guffawed in yer face and most likely given you a Chinese burn for being a cheeky minx and making up such horrors about me and mine.
I’m sure what we have is better than what others have. In fact, I know it is. And I know I’m most likely overthinking again. But that’s what blogs are for, right? Overthinking spillage? But I genuinely want to know: how do I deal with this?
I don’t gush. I’m not a gushing type of gal. There’ll be no frivolous gush from this lady, d’y'hear? I’m much better at, erm, squirting a bit. Or vaguely leaking. Heck, now it sounds like this will be a post about incontinence. Or female ejaculation.
Well, it’s NOT. Back off, you pervo. This is my post about BritMums Live, the blogging conference I went to at the weekend.
There was a moment before the conference started, before we’d even got there, in fact, when a friend imparted a certain veritable and unassailable fact about the actress Jamie Lee Curtis. Something I had never heard before. It floored me. I was overcome with this new knowledge. ‘This,’ I thought to myself, ‘this will be the BEST THING I learn all weekend. NOTHING ELSE will touch this fact. I may as well not bother turning up to the conference! EVERYTHING NOW PALES INTO INSIGNIFICANCE!!’.
Dramatic, yeah? Well, I had already had some Prosecco by that point. But sadly, it was also true.
OK, before I start being an enormous negative noob, lemme gush a little bit first. Better put some towels down.
I can say, without a sliver of a doubt, that the people I met at the conference – the ones who were on my list – not the Bastard List, but my OTHER list, the good’un list – were uber-awesome and just farking lush. The group of gorgeous friends I was with, the shminky Twitter friends I was desperate to meet, the super talented bloggers I have idolised for an age, the lovely people who came up to me and introduced themselves: y’all helped make this weekend totally rock. Thanks be to thee from the bottom of my knickers.
Gush: done. Phew. Let’s continue with the analogy of underwear. BritMums Live was like a pair of knickers I haven’t worn in a while. They look like they should be comfortable. They’re clean, at least. I put them on. It’s OK – they’re a bit small, maybe. My muffin-top is bulging but I can handle that jelly. I decide to wear them. Walk around for most of the day. By nightfall, they are the most ridiculous pants I have ever worn in my life. Chafing, sweaty and clinging to my crack. I remember why I don’t wear them. They don’t fit me.
The conference finished on Saturday evening. We’d heard some marvellous posts read by the bloggers themselves. The wine was free-flowing. Everyone was buzzing. I shoulda been on a high. I wasn’t. I felt hugely pissed off. Maybe something to do with having been awake for almost 36 hours, but that’s another blog post. I couldn’t shake this feeling of spiky moodiness. What was up with me? Dunno. Still not sure, really. I guess, in some ways, I knew before I went to the conference that I was never going to be a BritMums kind of lady. In the BritMums meme that did the rounds a few months back, I totally spaffed out my usual brand of snarky answers, but still thought, ‘Hey, it’ll be OK, I’ll have fun, I’ll learn loads of shit about blogging’ and arrived with that mentality.
But the agenda disappointed me. I don’t do craft, cooking or photography. I don’t use Pinterest or Google+. I don’t blog for the greater good, or use my blog to support charitable causes. I’ve already published an ebook. The Discussion Dens looked interesting but I didn’t feel I’d have much to contribute. I looked at the one called ‘Blogging for Happiness: Sod the Stats’ and thought, actually, I DO give a damn about my stats. Where’s the workshop called ‘Huzzah for Stats! I Check Mine All the Time, Innit!’ or something similar?
Anyway. You may consider me a noob but I only went to one seminar – the Dad Bloggers one – as I had a vested interest in that. Even so, it was a bit dry. Can we please all shut the fark up about the whole mummy/daddy blogger debate now? Guys blog, girls blog, we should all just get along. Gender divides fark me off when they’re perpetuated by pointless discussion. In my humble opinion, there should have been MORE men there. Rooms full of women make me antsy. Too much farking oestrogen. I was worried we’d all suddenly menstruate and totally destroy Hoxton with a tsunami of blood.
Diplomatic mask on for a moment: the event was extremely well-organised and more than capably handled by the BritMums team. Yet why have men in pants serve us wine, like we’re all at a tacky hen’s night? Why have nowhere to sit and relax without being jumped on by over-eager PR teams? Why saddle us with so much free crap that even my secret consumerist soul baulks at the waste of it all? Why pack so many farking workshops into the day that there is not enough time to actually meet and talk to people you want to meet and talk to? Hmm? HMMM?
Ah well. I’ve gone on enough. Suffice to say, my best moments from the weekend had nothing to do with the conference itself. Oh, apart from hijacking someone’s laptop during the final evening do and inadvertently making almost 500 people snort discreetly into their wineglasses. Soz about that. Couldn’t resist.
Next year? Maybe. Never say never. Still don’t think they fit me, though. And vice versa.
What did you think? Has my, erm, ‘review’ been helpful?
I made someone else cry today. No, not Moo. Someone I’ve never met, yet who is dear to me in a myriad of ways. They read my blog post from yesterday and reached out to me because they thought I needed contact. Which I did, just in a way that I can control – so in writing, by email, or text – because I don’t trust my voice right now. I am genuinely grateful to this person. And it’s weird, but they know the correct things to say, to me, and for me. I won’t go into it here – it’s private – but one thing struck me, which I feel I can share with y’all. I confessed to them that I felt ashamed, and they said that was OK.
Yeah, I feel ashamed. Almost more than anything else. A shame that kind of cripples me. I’m being particularly hard on myself at the moment, so this maybe magnifies the feeling. But it seems stark to me: I am an intelligent woman. I have had a good education. I have had good opportunities in life. I am surrounded by people who love me, and I generally – when not infected with lung plague – have a blooming health.
So how is it that I am brought so very, very low?
My situation embarrasses me. I do not want to be living like this. It was not how things were supposed to pan out. I worry that my parents will not be proud of me any more. I fret that my friends won’t want to be my friend, because all I do is whine about how rubbish my life is. I feel burdensome and needy, and yet so very alone. I’m even debating whether to publish this stupid post or not, because it’s so farking miserable and I’m a finalist for the ‘Laugh’ category in some blogging awards, FFS. Ha ha farking ha.
I’ve not ever thought that it’s OK to feel ashamed, which is why I only just revealed that I did so to my confidante, today. I didn’t really want anyone else to know. I was ashamed of my shame.
The fact is, what I want, I cannot have. What I want is just not going to happen. So while my frenzied brain tries to sort an alternative, I’m having to deal with this shame born out of failure and bad decisions. I can’t see a way out, and this scares me. I’m not a believer in psychic ability, but during hard times, I’ve always instinctively felt that things would be OK. Not this time. This time, my gut has nothing for me. Merely a residual panic.
There’s nothing I have to ask of you this time. Your words of support are welcome, as usual. I’ll keep writing – maybe even do a funny one next – because I’m not sure what else I can do right now.
Today has been a shite day. I am in a dark mood. Dark dark dark. And I knew it would be a shite day. I woke up with some dark foreboding sitting heavily on my chest.
Actually, that was just my chest infection. Yeah, I have a chest infection. The doctor told me so. My white blood count is sky high, my temperature is above normal, and my breathing is restricted. Duh. Stupid lungs. Stupid bacteria. Stupid human body.
I thought the foreboding was about my doctor’s appointment. But bad things have been happening all day. Must be something in the air. Yeah. I blame the air. Stupid air. Stupid, stupid, farking moronic, bastarding damned air. I hex the air. I voodoo the shit out of that air. The air can kiss my extraordinary arse, and then die.
For the friend who received some bad news today, I hope you and yours are going to be OK. You know you can call me if you need to.
For my mum, who still waits for her results, we can only be positive.
For absent loved ones. Courage.
And for me?
Yeah, I am in a dark, dark mood. Things need to improve for me soon. Not sure how much more of a kicking I can take.
There’s not much I can say. Well – I could say loads, actually – but I’m not going to.
Apart from this: SAHDandproud is the shnoofter to my floom, and seeing as we’re the only people who know what that means (really, even I’m not sure I do know what it means) it’s pertinent to a very, very small percentage of people in the blogosphere, i.e. us two. Ahem.
But I do know that people have been wondering what happened, whether he’s OK and when he’s coming back. To which I can answer, erm, none of your business, yes he is OK, and I don’t know.
I’ve been fielding queries about the man since the weekend. It’s truly wonderful that y’all care so much, and I know he appreciates all your thoughts and best wishes. But SERIOUSLY, I’m not his farking secretary – he wouldn’t even give me my own office with a view of the park, and scatters my paperclips all over the floor when he thinks I’m not looking – so I hope this blog post puts your collective mind at rest for the time being.
I know he’ll read this, so if you want to write a message of support in the comments area, please feel free to do so. Then I won’t have to scribble them all down on Post-It notes every time someone DMs me on Twitter any more. Tsk.
We all miss him. Well, I do. I really, really, very muchly, absolutely farking do. Even his mifty wiff-waff.
(no, I don’t know what that means, it’s just something he used to say)
There are blessed few kids’ TV programmes I can endure. Most of them are arse-tripe. I’m sure kids LOVE them, but oh my life, are they arse-tripe. I do, however, value a special, golden few. They are less than arse-tripe. They are maybe guff-waft. Or ear-cheese. Y’know, something not so bad.
One of these programmes is Charlie and Lola. You know it. The one about the boy, Charlie, and his little sister, Lola. You’re already singing the theme tune in your brains, aren’t you? Sorry about that. But I really like this programme. The animation makes me go all dribbly, and in a good way. It appeals to my artistic side, and the side of me that hankers after dodgy fabric patterns. Sure, the characters are faintly annoying but there’s a hint of surreality and I have been known to snigger out loud (SOL?) on occasion at some of the ridiculousness. Also, that there theme music is a bit 1970s and hideously catchy, innit. Now you’re HUMMING it. You’re so suggestible.
But ANYWAY, the reason I mention it is cos Lola has an imaginary friend called Soren Lorenson. If you click the link I’ve just inserted you go through to his Facebook page. He has more friends than me. A fictional, imaginary person. THAT’S HOW FARKING POPULAR HE IS. Bastard.
I would like to confess that I, too, had imaginary friends when I was growing up. Yes – plural. Friends.
The BBC website for Charlie and Lola describes Soren Lorenson as Lola’s ‘confidante, her security blanket’ and ‘sometimes… Lola’s true voice’.
My imaginary friends were largely useless, being imaginary. There was one called Sally. She was the naughty one. And one called Mary. She was the good one. I s’pose you could say they were my confidantes. I had a variety of brothers in my childhood house and there would be NO WAY I’d confide in them, cos boys have fleas, innit. But my imaginary girl BFFs were always there for me. I remember Sally had copper hair and a brown checked dress. Mary was blonde with a blue dress (imaginative of me, must be that one Sunday school class I went to, FFS). They usually manifested themselves just behind me, and they were faded, like old photographs. I don’t think they had ‘voices’ as such. I certainly don’t think they were my ‘true voice’. Unless they harped on about Care Bears, or Enid Blyton. Which was mostly what I was obsessed with.
Why do people have imaginary friends? I wasn’t lacking in real-life ones. Sure, I was living in a mostly male household but I could dress any willing siblings up in my clothes and pretend they were a sister, and they were FINE WITH THAT (she says, laughing evilly). But I seem to remember being out and about and busy and doing stuff with people, a lot. A farking fine childhood, by any account. No complaints here.
But I could really do with a Sally or a Mary right now. Occasionally I get quite lonely, and if my (very gorgeous and super) real-life mates are unavailable then I tend to wander the park or haunt the soft-play café like a miserable wraith. If Sally or Mary were there, then they could keep an eye on Moo while I grab a cup of tea, or have a go on the swings, yeah? That would be OK, wouldn’t it?
No? Oh right. Cos they’re not real, I get you.
So did you? Have pretend friends? And why do you think that was?
I like to think I’m a good friend. I’m warm, generous, funny, and I’ll let you have a go on my unicorn. I’m compassionate, patient and kind. I’m an all round top bird. You can count on me. An exemplary mate. A good’un. ‘You know MoVo? She’s such a great friend!’ sort of thing. Oh, I am modest too.
And I love my friends. I have a circle of friends that I truly adore, and would fight dragons for. Certain people who I know feel the same way about me. Companions for life. Solid. Reliable. Everlasting.
There’s not much I wouldn’t do for these friends of mine.
One of my friends has depression.
Well, maybe more than one, dunno. But one is struggling at the moment. I don’t know what to do to help them. Is there anything I can do? I understand so little.
I know it’s not about me. But I feel useless. I want to be there for them, like I am for everything else. And I don’t know how.