The 34th Post

I just realised that my last post was my 33rd post.  33 posts and still lost in life?  Maybe.  But I finally feel like I’m on the right path.

Tomorrow I start my final year, re-taking the semester that I took last year, before suspending my studies in December.  And you know what? I’m excited about uni.  I’m excited to be writing essays, reading books, watching films.  When I say “final year”, of course, I don’t really mean a full twelve months.  I should have everything submitted by around May time next year, which is only eight months away. 

I realise I’m kind of waffling.  Today has been a PJ day, the weather being so crappy outside – the rain just hasn’t stopped – and I’d set myself the task of finishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin – that famous American piece of literature about slavery, which Abraham Lincoln himself admitted was what caused the Civil War.  The best thing, is that I DID finish it, I’m pleased to say.  Over the last few years, I’ve had some trouble finishing things, be it books, essays, relationships.  But I think I finally see how important it is to finish one thing, before you can move onto something else.  With Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I can now move onto preparing the presentation I’m going to be doing on it a week on Thursday.  In a surprise even to myself, I opted to do my presentation in the first week of class, so I could get it out the way.  I’m a little nervous, but confident that I can do it.  And once the presentation is complete, the accompanying paper, which is not due til the end of November, will be done too.  I finally feel like I’m ready to go at this third year with a vengeance. 

And now I feel sleepy.  At 12:50am, I think that’s a pretty good thing.  So I’ll say goodnight, and thanks for listening 🙂 

Life’s Lessons…Learned In Mysterious Ways (Like While Jogging)

Ok, now you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, YES, I ACTUALLY WENT JOGGING.  Difficult to comprehend for those who know me, but my pot-belly, apparently a well-known trait for Cancerians, is beginning to stick out further than my boobs, especially in a sports bra, and thus, I decided, something must  be done.  After losing a stone and a half (9.5kg) in the space of a few weeks back in 2010, managing to keep same weight off while nom-noming the vast range of American delicacies available to me during the five months I spent studying/travelling in the US last year, the weight has slowly crept back on, thanks to bingeing on the delight which is British chocolate, something which I blame partly on the four months I spent working as a temp for a company that provides equipment and prizes such as medals for those taking part in sporting events.  Hence, somewhat, my desire to work-avoid now.

Anyway, back to the pot-belly.  Whenever I think of pot-bellies, I think of Johnny Depp, who I seem remember used to have a pot-belly pig.  So now I’m waffling, back to the blog post in hand.

Having struggled to shift the weight I’ve now put back on, I decided that I must try and lose it before it becomes hidden underneath a mountain of jumpers in the attempt to keep myself warm during the cold winter, resurfacing only when I’m ready to wear a bikini in the back garden again.

I’ve been running a few times with my friend, Susan.  We’d followed our usual route through a busy part of town, running a bit, walking a bit, then running a bit more.  I’d promised myself I would run alone, during the daytime, since I had the free time, and thus I rather surprised myself this morning, by putting aside my copy of David Mark’s The Dark Winter, a debut crime novel that already had me gripped, and by getting out of bed, putting on my running clothes and being out the door within five minutes.

I had already decided to run a different route to that which we’d previously taken on a quiet Sunday morning.  I wanted somewhere a little quieter, where I could soak in the sunshine and feel smug about running, imagining myself to be running somewhere far more exotic, like the Santa Monica boardwalk, or Central Park.  Which was fine, on the way to my destination.  It was on the way back, when I decided to come back a different way, that it happened.  I got lost.  In my home city of Lincoln.

Running back along the river, I passed a group of fishing men, and woman, who may have started drinking already, even though ten o’clock had not yet struck.  Their yellow tent gave me the impression they’d been there all night, but perhaps it was just somewhere to go should it rain during the day.  I can’t claim to be an expert in fishing, a “sport” that does not interest me whatsoever.

One of them, the one closest to the river, said “good morning”, which, in hindsight, was the way you do when you know something that the person you are saying it to doesn’t.  I said “good morning” back and nodded at the others, who nodded in response.  I only got a little further down the riverbank, when the path cut between the grass seemed to fade, becoming little more than a faint line through the long blades of grass.

Here, I had a choice, I could go back, back past the fisherman and their early morning tipple, or I could plough on ahead. I’d seen another lady jogger just in front of me earlier, and before I’d passed the fishermen, I saw her running back down the other side of the river, and had assumed she’d run this way, over the bridge at the end, and back down the other side.  Not wanting to look like the novice jogger I am, I looked at the invisible ‘Point of No Return’ sign usually reserved for film heroines, and decided to continue.

I jogged until it became impossible to jog further, and waded through the long grasses.  I saw the path pick up again, running upwards along the river bank, and followed it until again, alongside the back gardens of people’s houses, until it became lost once more among nettles and other weeds.  It picked up again and I ran down the river to near the water’s edge, then followed it until I came to the end of the houses, and I couldn’t see what was round the corner.   It was at this point that I had to admit defeat.  Reluctantly, I headed back, through the nettles, up the hill and following the back gardens, came out alongside what appeared to be old people’s flats, and back out to civilisation.

Knowing now where I was, I confidently headed back along the streets, completing my journey along one of the busy roads in the city.  By this point, I didn’t have the energy to run, every time I attempted it, I could feel my chest wheezing and my stomach hurt.  So I strode home, trying my best to look like I was walking because I’d run 10 miles, rather than the two or three I had completed.

Upon my return home, I grabbed the glass I’d used earlier to pour myself a tiny glass of water, enough to swallow my Prozac.  Instead of filling it with the Diet stuff I was craving, I poured myself a full glass of water from the tap, and insisted to myself that I drink that, and then I could have a glass of the liquid I was desperate for.

Reflecting upon my jogging experience, I realised that I’d learned some lessons.  1) Keep it simple: On my first solo run, I’d planned a new route, somewhere I was only vaguely familiar with, and changed said route along the way.  Hence, resulting in my getting lost in the wilderness.  In American Studies, much study is given to the theory of the “wilderness” and “civilisation”, the “wilderness” deemed to be man’s place and “civilisation”, woman’s.  Was it wrong, when faced with the choice of heading back to the safety of civilisation, instead I continued on through the wilderness?  Returning to civilisation, only when necessary.  2) What is the second lesson, I ponder to myself?  I returned today with a great sense that I had learned several lessons.  I guess the second, is not to be so ambitious.  Perhaps that is the same as the first lesson.  I know this is a problem I have.  I get these fantastic ideas that I’m not always capable of carrying through.  But you know, I wouldn’t change a thing.  You don’t have ambition, and where does that get you?  I guess I will always end up taking the path of most resistance, and, sometimes, yes, it will hurt.  But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the journey. ❤

Amendments to Never Say Never

A bit belated, but better late than never!  The eagle-eyed among you will know that CBT does not stand for Compulsory Bike Test.  Nor does it stand for Cabbage Bacon Tomato or Compulsory Bean Torture.  In fact, CBT means Compulsory Basic Training.  Thanks to my brother, Baz, for taking delight in pointing this out to me shortly after I published Never Say Never; apologies for only finally admitting to my err now.  An update on the bike – today I received my motorbike jacket, so now all I need are gloves and boots, then I’ll be set to go out on the roads and cause mayhem on my pink Vespa!!

The ‘Why Can’t I Sleep?’ Blog

Captain’s log, star date 13 September 2012, 5:18am.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been awake at such a ridiculous hour.  It’s very rare these days that I am able to enjoy sleeping right through the night.  My six month old nephew sleeps longer than I do.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s 3am (and I must be lonely, in the words of Matchbox Twenty), 4am or 5am, these days, I wake up at a random hour, but just can’t get back to sleep.  Luckily for me, I am a Lady of Leisure, or so my Facebook profile says; most days I do not have to be out the house any earlier than 11am.  With the exception of Thursdays, where for the last few weeks I’ve been dragging my sorry ass out of my pit to sit in on Alex Lewczuk’s Midweek Drive Morning Edition show on Siren FM for 8am…well, 8:05 or 8:15.  Timekeeping is not my best quality.

So, anyway, I wake up at ridiculous o’clock, can’t sleep so end up reading a book, or doing a Puzzler, after firstly checking, in order, 1) Hotmail 2) Facebook 3) Twitter.  The only problem, of course, which isn’t really a problem, more of an “I love you but…”, is that with having so many international friends, if they see you on Facebook or Twitter, will inevitably strike up a conversation with you, which is fine for them at 11pm; not so much for me at 4am.  But, even without international friendly conversations, it is usually an hour or so which passes before I can switch off my lamp and go back to sleep, making it impossible to wake before, say, the more reasonable hour (for a Lady of Leisure), of 10am.

Anydoos, I guess there could be many reasons for my awakedness.  Firstly, I am starting back at university in less than two weeks (hooray!).  As you may know, I suspended my final year at university last December, and since then, have been trying to find the motivation and concentration I was lacking previously, in order to successfully complete that elusive final year.  In fact, not really even a year; by this time in May, I hope, no, I WILL, to use my Life Coach Jon’s positive thinking, be on a jet plane flying far away.

Secondly, perhaps my life is just far too exciting to sleep for too long?  Tuesday saw the return of our The American Dream Team radio show, after a three-week summer break.  We were lucky enough to have crime writer John Connolly joining us in the studio, who was in Lincoln promoting two of his new books, after I contacted him about an interview.  I also have another well-known American band whose lead singer has agreed to an interview; I am just waiting for his management to get back to me with dates.  In my attempt to be more organised, guests for the show are being lined up well in advance of each show, with the well-known names being not just an exciting experience for us, but something I can put on my CV, in an attempt to impress those publishing types with whom I shall be applying for jobs after graduation.

Thirdly…well IS there a third? After two and a half years, I have finally submitted divorce papers to the court.  It’s not something I particularly wanted to drag out, more a point of trying to justify the money for the court fees.  After finally finding out I’m eligible for fee remission, I submitted papers twice, which were sent back twice, asking for more evidence.  I’ll have that shortly, but for now, the fee is paid, the papers are in, and that part of my life can finally come to a close.

I almost deleted the sentence above (and the one that follows) which begins “After two and a half years…”.  I got as far as highlighting them, but just couldn’t delete them.  On the bed, next to me, is Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty: An American History, in readiness for when I finish this blog, and open up my dissertation.  My dissertation; which has a new working title of “Women’s Literature: Confinement of Marriage vs Creativity and Self”.  Tucked into Give Me Liberty, is an A4 sheet of paper; a copy of an address, which prominent women’s suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave to the Committee of the Judiciary of the United States Congress on January 18, 1892, some 120 years ago.  In it, she talks about women’s rights, as an individual, a citizen, a woman and lastly, in her capacity of “incidental relations”, such as mother, wife, sister and daughter.  She asked the Committee to give women the right to education; “for the full development of her faculties, forces of mind and body; for giving her the most enlarged freedom of thought and action; a complete emancipation from all forms of bondage, of custom, dependence, superstition; from all the crippling influences of fear – the solitude and personal responsibility of her own individual life.”

It is thanks to women like Stanton that I write this blog, that I co-host a radio show, that I am undertaking a Bachelor’s degree (although I would like to request that this be renamed in this new world where women are equal).  It is thanks to those women who stood up for women’s rights, who dared to allow women to be the holders of their own destiny.  I do not regret getting married, nor the ten years we spent together.  But I have learned, in order to have my own creativity and self, I need to not be afraid to be honest about how I feel about things in my life.  I am getting divorced; yes I have waited longer than I might have liked, but finally, that chapter is coming to a close, ready for me, for both of us, to start new chapters in our now separate lives.

I can’t say for certain whether any of the above issues are why I can’t sleep.  But insomnia aside, here I am writing another blog entry, another opportunity for me to work on my creativity and self.  Before getting back to looking at those women writers before me, who paved the way in literary history, to do exactly what I am doing in real life.