Well today it’s my 35th birthday, although technically I wasn’t born for another 13 minutes.  I’ve just opened the pile of cards and pressies I’ve already received, before realising that, technically, I’m still 34, but hey ho, at least I waited til after midnight.  Saving cards and presents until the day of my actual birthday is something I’ve always been good at, much like not snooping around for Christmas presents in the run up to December 25th.  I like to enjoy my birthday, which is something not everyone is so keen on doing as they get older, but I always like my birthday.  Cards, presents and especially so much love sent my way is always so gratefully received.

Well I wish I could say that my birthday started off great, but I’m actually hungover, although it is only 1:53am, so maybe my hangover’s not official til I wake up in the morning.  So technically, I could still be drunk, although I’m feeling not so much drunk now, just sick and this heat is not helping.  (Sorry there’s a lot of “technicallies” appearing today, it seems to be my special birthday word.

As you can probably tell from the title of this, I’m now two years older than I was when I started this blog.  I had much encouragement from my former Life Coach Jon to change the title of the whole blog to something new to coincide with my move to London, and what I saw as a new chapter, or rather a new volume of my life.  I resisted, much like I resisted writing blogs for a long time after I moved.  Perhaps I was hoping that life would suddenly become the dream I had always wanted it to be, but deep down (or maybe even on the surface) I know that moving geographically doesn’t make all your problems go away, it just makes them less intense and puts a different perspective on them.  I would love to say that being 35 I am no longer lost in life, but that is just not true, four free glasses of rosè wine courtesy of the company I work for and their summer party, left me sitting on the kerb crying.  Yes, I know I’m a lightweight, and too much drink does have a tendency to do that to me, it always has.  I wonder if this is due to my depression, or whether I’m just one of those people who will always cry and get drunk after too much alcohol.

I had a birthday card from one of my good friends from back in Lincoln, Rachelle, who sent me a birthday card which read on the front “Breakfast After the Birthday Party featuring heavily: Aspirin, dark glasses and plenty of caffeine!”  and a picture of a girl looking much like me, dressed like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but instead of the cigarette in the long holder, she is holding a  glass of Aspirin and in front of her is the cup of coffee, and the rest of the bottle of tablets.  She is wearing dark glasses, but she is smiling, and there is one of those film-esque sparkles on the front of her Ray Bans.  I’m sure I won’t be dressed anything quite so glamorous when I head to work tomorrow, but I’m sure the sunnies will definitely feature, along with probably lots of cold caffeine in the form of Diet Coke.  Rach’s message was “hope you have a night to remember…but not too good, we know what happens when JMO gets too drunk!”  Yes, tonight wasn’t the first time I’ve made a drunken idiot of myself in front of work colleagues, but at least it was the first time in front of my new work colleagues.

I guess my forthcoming birthday has been a cause for some concern for a while, not just because its arrival signals the fact that my blog title is now at least half out of date, but because I will no longer be 34.  The psychiatrist I saw while I studied abroad in the States said that the thirty-crisis ends at 34, and told me that she met her husband at the age of 34 (some twenty years ago).  I guess I was hoping that this whole crisis would be over by today’s date, and yes, I prayed that I may have met Mr. Right by now.  That, I suppose, is the crux of my drunken tears, that I’m still single, and that I’m still searching for the ability to do what I want to do in life.  I know what I want to do, and that is to write, and this blog, and this blog post, is an excellent reminder that I am doing that in some form.  I guess the man thing will take a bit longer, but as everyone says, you have to love yourself before you can find someone else to love you.

I do have a lot of love for myself.  After all, I have been there through thick and thin, and it is only I that know truly what I have been through, especially these last few years.  I don’t know if I will ever be truly happy being single though, and I admire those who get to a point in their life where they are 100% happy being single.  As I discussed with my friend, Em, the other day, people always tell you it will happen when you aren’t expecting it, but when you are always expecting it, how can it ever happen?  Maybe that is why we are both single, although Em is a lot younger than me, but she is much like me at that age (and now) which is why we get on so well.

As I’ve discussed in this blog previously, the person I always believed, from the age of 11, to be “the One” turned out to be nothing but a figment of my imagination.  While he does exist in real life, the love I believed was between us was truly one-sided, spun out of many, many years of my depression.  This is probably one of the hardest things I have had to face up to over the last few years, being the huge romantic that I am.  I always wanted to believe that I had a soul mate, someone who was linked strongly to me and who had always felt that way.  My thirties brought about the realisation that this was not true, or at least, if I do have a soul mate, it is somebody that I have not yet met, because there is nobody else I have ever felt that way about.  I am glad to say that putting a hundred miles or so between me and that person has helped, because I am no longer surrounded by reminders and things that made me think of him, and every time I see a man of his profession, I don’t even think of him now.

My new life in London is just that; my new life.  It’s so new that I’m still settling into it.  It will take time to meet that special someone, but in a couple of months, when I’m more financially stable, I can afford to start putting the time and money into meeting someone (I’m not talking about a gigolo, in case you’re wondering).  So for now, I will try to get myself into looking physically better; losing weight, getting a tan (which is going fabulously with the hot weather we’ve been having here in the UK, and London officially reached “heatwave” status yesterday, although I still have too many white bits) and doing something with my hair, which for the most part resembles something like straw, my loose waves (although that’s a nice way of putting it) being the permanent reminder of the perms I had as a teen.  My job, while not being a particularly creative one (which is actually not too much of an issue for me right now), is giving me the chance to meet people, and settle into my new life.  In my mind I am writing, although the physical act of doing so is not quite so common.  However, the ideas are there, along with the inspiration, and my job is a reminder that if I want to be a writer, and to make money from my writing, then it will have to be in my own time.  But I’m cheered up by the fact that one of my favourite authors, Jodi Picoult, didn’t publish her first book until the age of 37, and now has a prolific back catalogue.  I am a firm believer that your thirties are a discovery of self, and despite their ups and downs, are that voyage over sometimes choppy seas.  I can’t see land ahoy yet, although I know I’m getting close, and the storms that threatened so much the previous years are subsiding, leaving much calmer water and a significantly smoother sail.  I suppose now it’s time to just drift, rather than steering towards a place the direction of which I do not know.

Anyway, I am now officially 35 years old, and while tomorrow may bring a hangover, it will also bring many happy returns.  It also brings a working day, so at 2:51am, I am signing off.  Good night world, and thanks for listening, as always.


The Magic Rounders-Bout

On my lunch break, I tend to head to my usual park, which is just along the road from where I work. This is where I am now, basking in the sunshine. It was always instilled in me that I should get out in the sunshine, and the fact that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder proves that without the sun, I can’t function properly. Anyway, I’m watching some kids from one of the local schools play rounders, and thinking about my own childhood and the game of rounders.

For some reason, I always loved the game of rounders. However, like many other sports, I was rather rubbish at it. I remember playing it indoors once, in the sports hall, and one of the popular girls shouting at me when I couldn’t catch the ball. Because I couldn’t catch a ball; I had even more trouble hitting it. You would think that an experience like that, which wasn’t just a one-off, would have put me off the game, but no. I see a bit of sunshine and a large expanse of grass and suddenly I wish I was with a group of people playing rounders.

To me, rounders is like the game of love. I can’t catch it, I have trouble hitting it so I can score a rounder, or even just get as far as first base. I believe it is the idea of rounders, or in this case, love, which appeals to me the most.

Like much of life, the ideal is very different from the reality of the lived experience.

As my 35th birthday approaches faster every day, I find the idea of love weighing on my mind. This is nothing unusual, but milestones always give one furiously to think, in the words of Hercule Poirot. I left my husband eighteen months after my 30th birthday, shortly before our 5th wedding anniversary, and in our 10th year of being together. Like it or not, milestones force you to face up to what you may not want to see.

Thirty-five to me is halfway to forty; halfway through my 30s, although to me, this thirty-something crisis started a long time before I even hit 30, probably around my mid-twenties. So I have felt unsettled for almost a decade. It’s no wonder the forty minutes I spend walking to and from work give me so much to peruse over.

The kids and their teachers have packed up their rounders equipment now and gone back to school. Back to the reality of maths and English. No more fun (or torture for some kids) in the open grounds of the park. Back to containment, or the safety of the classroom.

I know I will see them again, as this fabulous and rather un-British summer is forecast to continue at least another week. But I shall watch from a distance, as I do with love, knowing that I may not be very good at it, but hoping that one day soon I’ll have the chance to play a great game.

Jogga-Blog No. 4 and 5: AKA The Return of 33andlostinlife

Out of all the titles you could possibly have expected me to pick for my first blog post in almost two months, I bet you didn’t expect to see the words “Jogga-Blog”.  In fact, this is the fourth and fifth Jogga-Blog combined, because my first London-based jog occurred on Thursday evening.  While afterwards I was most pleased with myself, the closest I got to blogging about the experience was thinking about it.  Well, you know what they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Today I was up early, so I decided to take advantage of the nice morning, before the heat became too overbearing, and take myslf off on another jog.  Once round the park without stopping this time.  I was most impressed with myself.

You may be wondering why it has taken me so long to write another blog post since the publication of The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 1.  I’ll do my best to fill you in on what has happened in my life over the last seven weeks, and from then onwards I shall attempt to keep you updated on a more regular basis.

I managed to find a lovely flat in West London, which I’ve settled into now.  My “housemates” are slightly older than me, but it’s nice to be with people who are full of stories from their lives.  I love listening to them talking, because it gives me inspiration for writing.  While this is the first time I’ve put virtual pen to paper in some time, I’ve been jotting down notes in my mind.  My little notebook that I use for my writing ideas got dusted off the other day, and I’m delighted to say that some of my ideas made it onto the page.  But I finally feel like my creative juices are starting to flow, which makes me happy because the pipes have been clogged for some time. Now though, that all my university work is finished, I can write for pleasure, without having to worry about deadlines, and I am thrilled that my ideas may finally find a place in the world.

It took me a while, but in mid-June I finally found a temp job, working in the Head Office of a high-end retail company.  The office is located only four tube stops from where I live, so the commute takes around 30 minutes door-to-door, which is not too bad considering I work with people who commute up to four hours a day.  The work is very similar to what I did in the NHS, analysing data, but instead of patients, it’s handbags and high heels.  I had a job interview for a writing position for one of these Daily-Deal websites just before I was offered this post.  While I was slightly disappointed not to have got the job, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that, for now, I’m happy with a nine-to-five job that I can do without having to stress out over it, where the people are nice and the commute isn’t too long.  I can get work on getting my finances back into a manageable condition, and use my free time to do what I have wanted to do for so long: write.  This job is temp to perm, which means it may become permanent in a few months.

You may be wondering why I bothered to do a degree in American Studies, if I was only to get a job the same as what I was doing before.  Well I got my degree results the other day, and I will graduate from the University of Lincoln in September with an upper second-class honours, or a 2:1.  This is reflective of the work I’ve done over the last four years, and while last year I may have been disappointed not to have received a first-class honours, right now I am just glad to have made it to the end with some sense of sanity.  When I started my degree, my life was very different, and what I want to gain out of a degree now is not necessarily the same as it was when I enrolled back in September 2009.  While I would still love to have the opportunity to work in America, I am learning to pick and choose my fights, and the opportunities for someone like myself to make the USA my home are slim.  What I’d rather do is focus on what I want to do, which is writing, rather than where I want to do it.  Days like today, where the weather is 26 degrees centigrade (79 Fahrenheit), and the forecast for the next six days is much the same, I’m more than happy to be in London, which is like a little greenhouse full of heat, where I can spend my lunchtimes sunning myself in the park, and the early evenings in the garden.

So I have somewhere to live, a job, and lots more time on my hands.  One thing I don’t have, is a relationship.  As you know if you’ve spent any time with me or my blog, that is high on my list of wants.  Right now, as much as I’d love to meet someone, I don’t have the money to spend on dates, or buying new clothes for dates.  But that is ok, because knowing myself as I do, it would be wrong to rush into finding someone, and people do always say it happens when you don’t expect it.  I can enjoy settling myself into my new life, and eyeing up the hot guys on the tube…

For now, life is good.  This chapter is still very new to me, and I’m very much finding my feet.  I’ve put on weight since my arrival, hence my desire to jog, and knowing that I won’t be able to afford to join a gym until possibly later in the year, I’m going to have to rely on my own resources and free exercise such as jogging and walking, in the tree-lined areas close to where I live and work.  By the end of September, I will have graduated from university, signaling the true end of the previous chapter of my life; potentially have secured a permanent job, and have made myself financially stable.  All the key ingredients for the basis of a happy life, on which I can build the foundations of the me I’ve wanted to become.  Please join me as the journey continues.  I’ve missed talking to you guys.