Rainbow Day

I’m on the Megabus heading North, and the weather has been a mixture of rain and bright sunshine. With it has brought several rainbows, one of which even appeared on my window, especially for me:

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It reminded me that some weeks ago, I wrote a blog about rainbows but hadn’t published it. So here it is…

Today the weather in London was, for want of a better word, indecisive. Rain followed by sunny spells. Followed by rainbows. Today from the window of my office I saw three rainbows; two even appeared at the same time. 
It occurred to me that rainbows are a good metaphor for our dreams in life. Reputedly hiding a pot of gold at their tail, rainbows appear to signal the calm after the storm, the perfect concoction of sunshine and rain. If rainbows do hold a pot of gold at their end, then its illuminating spectrum points like an arrow to where X marks the spot. But blink and you’ll miss it, for they disappear as quickly as they came, leaving no trace that they were there at all. 
So let rainbows serve as a reminder that dreams are a complex journey through life. You may endure the pouring rain, but once the sun shines, your goal will be illuminated, like the bat signal shooting over Gotham City, reminding citizens that Batman is on his way to save the day. In real life though, there is no Batman. No Spider-Man. No Superman. No Austin Powers, no Jack Bauer, no knight in shining armour. We must be our own superhero. We must use that sixth-sense to alert us to where the dream waits for us, so that in the absence of the Bat signal or the rainbow, we still feel confident that we can find it again.
There will always be another rainbow. Another reminder that the pot of gold is there waiting. But rainbows are not a constant in life. They appear only during special circumstances, that perfect prescription of rain and shine. So when the dream seems far away, and the rain pours down, always remember that the sun will beam down, and with it will come your opportunity to shine.

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Kitchen Sink or Swim?

Do you ever feel like you are drowning? So out of your depth that you wonder how much longer you can keep your head above water?

That is how I feel right now. As you know I’ve had money troubles since I literally ran out of money before Christmas, and it really doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Last weekend, I had a big fall-out with my housemate over house-matters. While we did kiss and make-up, it left us both examining our futures within the flat, and while she has decided that, for her, the best option is to stay put, for me, my only choice is to move to somewhere a lot cheaper.

By looking for a place to live where the rent is inclusive of the bills, I am confident I can find somewhere for £300 less than what I’m paying now. Right now I am being financially crippled for a mistake made out of impulsion, when I and my housemate evicted ourselves from a stressful situation in the flat we were previously in. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, so they say, and while the freedom I desired to feel at ease in my own home was given in shed loads here, the price I paid was a high one. The currency had an actual monetary value, which in turn has taken its toll on my health. As someone who doesn’t handle stress particularly well, I have struggled to keep my head above water in this material world we live in, and the idea that this will not change for the foreseeable future is what has prompted my itchy feet.

While I will be sad to leave the flat and even more my housemate, I need to have money to start paying off my debts, as well as being able to live without worrying (about that at least), and to be able to feed myself with a balanced, healthy diet. Having no money and already being a Diet Coke and chocoholic, I will always choose to spend my last few pennies on these. With the Sugar-Free Me challenge coming up in less than a fortnight, I hope that I have an opportunity to break the habits that are costing me my health and wellbeing, not to mention money.

So now all I have to do is find someone to take over my room, find myself a new place to live, and start managing my new-found extra money better. Moving (again) will be costly, so it’s a good opportunity for a clear-out of literally the baggage I have been moving from one place to the next the last decade or so, and to make some money. Baggage, in both its literal and metaphoric forms, do not make it easy to move on, as I have learnt more times than I care to admit.

Wish me luck, people. Seatbelts on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But hopefully, the car won’t be too overloaded this time round.

Horror-scope?

Your feelings grow too big to hide as the reflective Moon returns to your sign very early this morning. You may be convinced to disclose something you haven’t yet shared, even if revealing your desires makes things temporarily awkward. If you are keeping any secrets, use this time to clear the air. Think about the potential of the weeks ahead and then set the record straight while you can. There’s no time like the present to be your authentic self.

Twittascope.com.

I thought this horoscope was apt after the post I just published, V Minus 4 Days. Awaiting that awkward moment when…

V Minus 4 Days

David, Jason, Andy, Jason, Chris, Giorgios, Neil, Richard, the Gas Man, Shaun, Mike, David, Anthony, David, Jason, Tim, John, Tony, Andy, Mark, Jamie, Dave, Malcolm, Super Shopper, Ali, Robert, Rich, Paul, P, John.

I am enough.

It is Valentine’s Day on Friday. Why is it that I have always felt like I needed a man? The above list is not exhaustive, but is the men that preoccupied my mind or body (sometimes both) since the age of 11. After re-reading that last sentence, let me clarify: men (or boys at that time) did not occupy my body until a month before my 19th birthday; I was a late developer in that respect.

Maybe that is part of the problem. From the age of 11, when I had my first crush, through almost my entire teenage years, I didn’t have a boyfriend. I didn’t even kiss anybody until a month before my 19th birthday. Let me clarify again: yes I had my first kiss on the same night I lost my virginity.

My virginity hung like a weight around my neck. I was only too glad to get rid of it, although by doing so in what was effect a one-night stand, I guess I always associated sex with love. I had endless one-night stands in the three years between losing my virginity and meeting the man who would become my husband. They are not listed above, because, quite honestly, I cannot remember their names. I used to recite them in order, quite proudly, to impress myself, but I suppose time makes one forget that which bears no importance to the future.

Now I realise that sex does not equal love. Sending a message on POF does not equal love. I do not know what equals love. I know only that I must remember this one thing.

I am enough.

It’s a Made-Up World

On my short commute to work yesterday, I did as has become habit now. I woke up at 7:45am with my alarm, promptly pressed snooze every nine minutes until I decided eight thirty really was time to get up, in order to leave the house for 9am.

After showering, I didn’t have time to do my make-up at home, so my make-up bag came on my commute with me (don’t tell TfL – I really can’t afford another monthly Travel Card). I started with concealer, to hide my acne, which is really bad lately. My therapist says it’s hormonal, and I can quite believe her. I then applied No 7’s Skin Illuminator followed by their Intelligent Colour Foundation (just like chocolate mousse!), both with a make-up brush.

From behind my mirror, I could see her peering at me.

In the eyes of an eight-year old, it probably looked like I was painting my face.

Which I was.

I have always worn make-up, although in recent years I have little issue with stepping out into the world with a naked face. During the depths of depression, especially when I was at university and had no need to leave the house or even get out of bed, I had no desire to make myself feel better by making myself look better. While I consider it a good day if I’ve left the house with make-up on and run a brush through my hair, I’m not one if those girls who would refuse to leave the house without full warpaint.

But that’s what make-up is: warpaint. It is a defence mechanism for being able to go out there and face the world, look your enemy in the eye and say I’m ready for you. Whether that be another perfectly mascara’d eyeball or the world as a whole, make-up gives us the confidence to look further than just the mirror, and even that can be the hardest view of all. It is a weapon to hide our imperfections, both from ourselves and from the rest of the world. If those blemishes cannot be seen, and our good points enhanced, then just maybe we can convince the world that we are capable of anything.

She continued to peer at me as I applied my mascara. Her mum realised what her daughter was looking at and she smiled at me.

The little girl, as most eight-year olds would, got bored. So she opened her little pink gun, and started eating the sweets it contained.

So that’s what every thirty-five year old woman needs to survive life – warpaint and a weapon. Or in other words, No 7 and a sweetie gun.

A Tale of Film Titles

Growing up, I always wanted to be a Karate Kid. I live a lot in my Field of Dreams, and sometimes Gravity just won’t keep my feet on the ground. I’m Footloose, I can’t help it. In the last few years, I’ve travelled in the States. I was Sleepless in Seattle. I tried some American Hustle with an American Gangster, which resulted in me leaving Las Vegas, and I had to head back to Sweet Home Alabama. Luckily I was able to hitch a ride with some sweet gals called Thelma and Louise. Then I got into a fight with Rocky, and he told me he was Lord of the Rings. So I flew to LA, Confidential that is, don’t tell anyone! I got arrested by a Beverly Hills Cop and on my release I was pretty much Down and Out in Beverly Hills. I ended up sleeping at A Haunted House for 48 Hours, honestly it was like something from a Scary Movie. I met Casper The Friendly Ghost and then a nasty Ghost, so I had to call the Ghostbusters. After Another 48 Hours, I took a cruise with the Pirates of the Caribbean. I met a guy who told me he his name was Rocky II. 28 Days Later I met The Time Travellers Wife, and we borrowed The Time Machine before heading Back to the Future…

Office Politics

If you work in an office then you will undoubtedly have experienced some kind of office politics. These can range from disagreements between how to progress a project or who is responsible for such and such a task, to the much more important issues of who has dumped their dirty dishes in the sink and why did she say blah blah blah what a bitch.

My office is on the second floor and while I’m part of a team of eight, we share the floor with around forty other people. We have a small kitchen area, with two fridges, a hot water machine, cold water machine and a variety of tea and coffee.

Over the last few months there has been issues with people leaving gone-off food in the fridge and it stinking the place out. I came in one day to an email saying that something was stinking the fridge out, which it was, and requesting that the culprit remove said item. After a few hours and the smell getting worse and infiltrating into the office, I took it upon myself to investigate. I discovered a four pint bottle of milk, or at least that’s what it said on the label. The contents resembled nothing whatsoever matching milk. I disposed of the milk in the external rubbish bin and all was good with the world again. As far as I am aware, the owner of the former-milk was never found.

A few days ago, another email was sent out, requesting that everyone clear any out-of-date food they have left in the fridge. Today, another email came out saying that a rotting lettuce and a mouldy yoghurt had been disposed of this morning. We have now been told that all food left in the fridge on a Friday afternoon will be binned.

Needless to say, that has caused utterances among the camps. Some agree that food should be removed on a weekly basis. Others, like me, cannot afford to buy different food every week. Yesterday I bought margarine to go with the bread and cheapo chicken slices I decided would be my cheap lunch this week. The margarine has a best before date of 3rd May 2014, and I fully intend to be able to use it up until this date. In fact, it’s unlikely that it will even be finished by that date.

So does this mean that my brand new marg will be chucked away by the time I arrive bleary-eyed on Monday? Someone suggested that everyone should put their initials on their food, and so food without initials could be gotten rid of and anything out-of-date with initials on can be brought up with the appropriate person.

In previous offices I have written my name on any food I put in the fridge. Usually because a) it stops others from pinching it and b) it stops me forgetting that I put it there in the first place. Nothing worse than being desperate for a cold can of Diet Coke, seeing one in the fridge that has been there for weeks and wondering if it was mine…

Unfortunately it seems the decision has been made that the fridge will be emptied once a week, and if this does not happen it will be emptied daily. If this does not happen then there will be no food allowed at all!

I don’t know what will be the outcome of the fridge wars. While I appreciate my employer providing a kitchen for my use, I can’t afford to buy new food every day, and I am slightly too lazy to make pack up. Which means that I will buy food to last, which won’t require refrigeration, that I can store in my desk drawer, meaning no doubt a less nutritious option.

Much is made of the work/life balance these days. It remains to be seen what will happen with the work/lunch balance…

Jack and the Red Telephone Box

What do you get when you mix a red phone box, a gherkin and and an extremely pissed off ex-CTU agent?

An extremely happy blogger, that’s what!!

Jack Bauer, the man you definitely want around in a crisis – and I’m not just talking about getting rid of spiders – returns to the screen this May in 24 – Live Another Day: Season 9. The man who had more bad days than John McClane makes a welcome return, and its a good job I don’t have any money since it will probably take me til May to work my way through the other eight box sets of this amazing show.

Next on my to do list is to find some nice person with Sky TV who doesn’t mind me dribbling on their carpet…

Jack is back!!!!!

20140205-203202.jpg Jack tried hiding behind his gun for the latest round of Hide and Seek

Sliding Doors

So after work I headed to my local tube station, where thankfully, services are still operating, although not as fully as they would normally. After around ten minutes of standing on the cold platform, the tube pulled into the station. If you read my earlier blog, you’ll know that I described the Picadilly Line trains during rush hour packing people in like sardines in a tin. Well, today, this was the District Line. Choc-a-block. Standing room only.

People squeezed on where the could; others got off the train in order to allow others off before squeezing back on.

I wandered from one door to the next, before watching the doors close in front of me. As the train pulled away, I headed back down the platform, towards the exit. That was another great ‘Sliding Doors’ moment; this time, it was literally the case.

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20140205-193741.jpg Gwyneth was pissed off this tube didn’t go all the way to Hollywood…

I felt dazed. I felt in shock. My heart beat hard.

Why didn’t I get on the train? It’s not like I haven’t squeezed myself onto a tube before, much in the way you squeeze yourself into a pair of jeans you used to wear. My overwhelming feeling was that I didn’t deserve to get on.

I’m not sure why I felt this way. After all, there is a tube strike on, and if you are lucky enough to have a train pull up in front of you, you should take it. Maybe it is because technically I could walk home. I used to do that in the summer, although my new flat is around an extra fifteen minute’s walk, taking the journey to around an hour. But not out of the question. Maybe I thought that there were other people who couldn’t walk, who deserved to stand in that tiny space more.

The fact is though, that had I waited on the platform for the next tube, the likelihood is that the carriages would have been even more full, with no guarantee that I could have got on the next train. Would I have stood on that platform all night, stepping back from those doors that slide back and forth in front of me?

Anyway, in case you were wondering, I took the bus. Well technically two buses, which will double my journey time home, compared to if I’d just got on that tube at Chiswick Park. I’ll still get home a lot quicker than most London commuters tonight.

Fight or flight? It seems like I reverted to the 12-year old me during those few seconds. I know I am capable of fight, or at least making a positive choice of which option it is I *want* to take, rather than being forced to have the decision made for me, like some kind of shrinking violet. I need to find that ability to fight. London, and indeed this life, has no room for those who reluctantly fade into the background. Or wait for the next train that may never come.

20140205-194340.jpg Gwyneth wondered if the tube strike was about making all the carriages this shiny…

[Picture Credit: Sliding Doors, Dir. Peter Howitt, 1998]

Services May Be Disrupted…

As I sit outside on the cold platform waiting for a tube during the first of two planned tube strikes, it hits me that the London Underground is a lot like me. While TfL (Transport for London’s) “normal” service is acceptable most of the time for me, because I live in Zone 3 and my “underground” is actually overground for all of my journey to and from work, when you put the tube under stress, it can cause problems. Try being on the Picadilly Line between Kings Cross and Green Park during rush hour, and you soon know what it is like to be packed in a tin can like a sardine. Tube strikes, like the one that started 15 hours ago and will last until Friday morning, and the second 48-hour strike which is planned for the middle of next week, cause disruption to its customers. Many have to take alternative forms of public transport, putting pressure on the already-busy buses and (proper) overground trains and extending commutes from double to quadruple their usual timescale, some have to work from home (although I wouldn’t say that’s a bad thing!) and others, like me, can get their usual service but may have to wait a little longer for it.

So, in this analogy, I am the tube train, life is the busy visit to the West End at rush hour, and depression is the tube strike. The tube strike, while unpleasant for some, is unavoidable for workers who wish to make a stand against the threat of ticket office closures and job cuts. Depression, while unpleasant, is an unavoidable side-effect of certain life circumstances and emotional stress, plus, once you hit bottom there is only one way to go, and like Yazz once so blatantly put it back in the 90s, the only way is up.

In a few days, the strike will be forgotten, and normal service will be resumed. Those travelling on the Picadilly Line will squeeze onto an already-packed carriage, and those like me, in the suburbs of West London, will consider themselves lucky if the worst they have to do is stand up. The threat of future strikes will always be there, but it is up to the drivers and other tube workers, as well as those involved in the running and usage of the service, that harmony can be achieved at all costs, to avoid further disruption.

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