You’ve Lost That Summer Feeling

I mentioned in a previous blog about how the summer here in England seemed to come to a soggy wet end some weeks ago, with the gorgeous sunshine being swapped for almost-daily showers, my summer wardrobe being swapped for its autumnal cousins. As a sufferer of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I felt my mood plummet along with the temperatures and the pouring rain. But most of all I felt the fear: the fear of getting cold.

It’s like I don’t know how to dress any more, but it involves layers, and lots of them. With the temperatures lifting this week to around the mid-twenties degrees Celsius, I’m feeling a little separation anxiety with my scarf and cardigan, who I feel have become old friends. Or maybe my Siamese twins. Either way, as a child, I didn’t need a comfort blanket. I certainly don’t want to start carrying one about now, since I’m already laden down with so much baggage.

So today, I left the scarf and the cardy at home. I’m not ready to embrace winter yet. And I’m working on banishing fears from my life. After a jog down the Thames last night, I’m feeling positive. And I want my summer feeling back.

Steal My Sunshine – Len (1999)


It’s a SAD, SAD Summer

Ok, so 80s supergirl group, Bananarama called it a Cruel Summer, which I guess is also an applicable term. After the longest sunny spell that I can remember in years, the last week had seen plummeting temperatures and almost daily rain. I’ve gone from wearing dresses and bare legs with flip flops to jeans with socks, Converse, top, cardigan, denim jacket and scarf. And even then at times I’ve wondered if I’m going to be warm enough.

I’ve had friends staying from overseas who have also been dressed more, if a little over sensibly for the weather, and we’ve been out and about in London and other places, which may have influenced my wearing so many clothes. But after getting caught in the rain a few times and being chilled to the bone, I feel like I’m scared that I’m going to get cold. And with that, I just feel scared. My mood has dropped as quickly as the temperature, and I find myself becoming irritable and tearful. The unsettled feeling I’ve had with my life over the last few months has been exacerbated and I feel like I can’t find a way out of this. My Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is back with a vengeance, usually not appearing until at least September or October, and going into full swing in November, I feel like it’s going to be a long winter.

Last week while waiting at Richmond for the train home, I was stood on the platform in the tunnel, which is the best place to be located if you want to get in the first carriage ready to be straight up the stairs and out at Twickenham. As I looked through the dark tunnel, there was light at the end of it, as the sunshine illuminated the small piece of track, surrounded by trees, that exits the tunnel before it goes round the corner and out of sight. I tried to take a picture, but all I got was a big bright light surrounded by darkness. But on second thoughts, maybe that is all I needed to see.

Cruel Summer – Bananarama (1983)

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 1

First of all, I would like to apologise to my Life Coach, Jon Richelieu-Booth, for doing his utmost best to keep me accountable for this challenge blog.  As he pointed out several times to myself and my Twitter followers, Day 1’s blog was actually due on Thursday 9th May, which is now four days ago.

As you will know if you’ve read my blog before, I do have problems with endings and finishing things, so one might be inclined to think that by delaying the final blog of this challenge, that I was not ready to move on.  But I don’t accept that.  Like much of life, you can make whatever plans you want, and dream whatever dreams you like, but sometimes life will get in the way.

I’m sat here, in bed in my new bedroom in London.  The Bish is sleeping on the end of the bed, and I can hear the birds cheeping in the trees outside.  Once again, I am full of cold, although it was probably unreasonable to expect that by moving a few hundred miles South that I would suddenly become immune to the common cold!  A result, no doubt, of an extremely busy few weeks, which my body has admitted has finally worn me out.

I could have scribbled this blog quickly on Thursday in order to make the official deadline of midnight.  In a week of hosting international friends, packing my stuff and saying my goodbyes, I could not find the time.  I know that things done half-heartedly are not always up to the quality they should be, and this final post I didn’t want to rush.  And this is my blog.  Like me, posts may be late.  Sometimes they may be a little drunk when they’re written, and they might be full of utter rubbish and drivel which would be expected of a drunken writer.  Like the new life I’ve been chasing for so many years, it may not happen as early as you expect, and you may get frustrated or exasperated waiting for it to happen.  But it will happen when I am ready.  

I am not going to apologise for who I am any more.  My timekeeping skills are atrocious and everyone who knows me will expect me to be late.  The only event I was ever early for was my wedding, and look how well that turned out.  My blog, like me, will not always be there on time, but as I always say, better late than not at all.

When I started this challenge back in February, I really didn’t know what to expect from the coming months (read the first blog here:  I used the Chinese New Year as the opportunity to set myself a target of reporting back to my followers how I was progressing (or not), with finishing my university degree, and planning for the future.  Part of the reason for doing this challenge is because I wanted to be kept accountable, which is kind of ironic considering I’ve just said that I will do this blog when I when I am ready, and not when someone asks me to.

This has been a lesson learned over the last twelve weeks, in that you have to find the fine line between being held accountable, and running your own life.  Left to my own devices, I can be lazy, procrastinating over the smallest things.  But when I put my mind to doing something, it happens.

As this challenge comes to an end, I can reflect on what I’ve achieved during these twelve weeks.  I have finished all my university work, and now, all that remains is to receive my final result in July, and to attend the Graduation Ceremony at Lincoln Cathedral in September.  I have found new accommodation in London for myself and The Bish, who is settling in slowly, still a bit wary of the other two cats and the golden retriever who live here.  Now I am in London, I will find a temp job to start with, followed by something permanent.  All in all, I’ve achieved pretty much what I wanted to: I’ve finished my degree and I know that London is where my heart lies.

I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the help of some wonderful people, and I would like to thank them with all my heart.  To Jon, my Life Coach, who, as mentioned above, has done his part spectacularly in keeping me accountable, even when I have resisted.  To my Study Coach, Mel, who guided me through the hardest university year, gave me excellent career advice as well as being there to listen when things got tough.  To my Counsellor, Julie, who was there to listen during the hard and the happy times, and gave me the confidence to get through some hard tasks; as well as the tears there were lots of laughs in our sessions.  To my friends, near and far, thank you for being there when I’ve needed you, and just for being there.  I’d especially like to thank Fen, who has not only supported me throughout these last three years, but who has helped me with my move to London and been the voice of reason when I have not wanted to listen.  I will miss you, my Chinese Wifey, but I hope that it won’t be too long before you’ll join me in the big city.  To my family, thank you for your unwavering support over the years, I know it’s been hard to watch at times but I’m finally ready to take the steps towards what I’ve been searching for and I know you’ll be proud of me for finally achieving it.  Finally, I’d like to thank The Bish, whose unconditional love has got me through, and who I’m glad has been able to come to London with me.

While this may be the end of The Twelve-Week Challenge, it will not be the end of 33andlostinlife.  The title of this blog will need to be changed at some point in the future, but I look forward to writing new blog posts, and coming up with witty titles (I’ve missed those).  Now I no longer have essays haunting me, I hope to do some more creative writing as well as blogging, and I promise I’ll keep my followers updated with that.

In the spirit of some recent posts, I’d like to leave you with a song.  This year I met my favourite singer for the second time, Eric Martin, from the band Mr. Big.  Their music, as well as Eric’s solo work, has kept me going for the last twenty-two years.  This is a song from their reunion in 2009, where I was lucky enough to see them play in Barcelona.  It’s a reflection on the past, while at the same time being positive about the future, which is how I feel right now.  



The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 40

With two days to go until my dissertation is due in, I’m feeling quite calm.  Whether that’s because I’m full of cold and I’m not feeling well enough to go into meltdown mode, I’m not sure, but as it is, I’m doing ok.

I know this blog is going to be short and sweet, but you’ll have to forgive me for that.  I’m tired, still catching up after my crap night’s sleep on Monday night, and as a result I do keep swerving between wanting to fall asleep in front of my laptop and typing like a maniac to get my dissertation finished.

What’s annoying, is that my dissertation, or Independent Study, is only worth 30 credits, the same as the other three modules I’m taking.  While my dissertation is 10,000 words, my other assignments are around 2,500 words each, for these final term projects.  Why the dissertation is held up as the holy grail I do not know, but for some reason so much more importance is placed upon this piece of work.

While I will be glad to see the back of my dissertation, I have enjoyed working on it these last few days.  Sadly, it’s not enough to make me want to pursue further study at any point in the very near future, but I think women’s studies is something I will continue to have an interest in.  I’m pretty sure at the very least this blog will include a study of this particular woman, and her journey out into the big wide world.

Wishing I’d bought it, rather than just taking a picture of it…

On the job front, I was disappointed today to receive an email from a publishing company in London, telling me I hadn’t been shortlisted for a job I’d applied for.  It was a shame, because it was in the area of London I used to work in years ago, and I would have liked to have gone back there.  I will always remember seeing a plaque on the side of a building saying that Virginia Woolf lived there.  At the time, I knew she was some great woman but I was too naïve to know who she was or why it was so important that she lived there.  The fact that I’m now quoting Virginia Woolf in my dissertation shows how far I’ve come since those days, although on my days off I used to scour the streets for bookshops, and 16 years later, that hasn’t changed.  In fact, here’s a picture of me, in Los Angeles in 2011, at the LA Art Walk, where I found a second-hand copy of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.  For some bizarre reason, I didn’t buy it back then, but I might just treat myself once my dissertation is done.

Ironically, I had a voicemail today from a recruitment consultant here in Lincoln.  His message said he had seen my CV online and had a very exciting position to talk to me about!  Isn’t that typical?  The one place I don’t want a job and it’s the first phone call I get.  Out of curiosity, I shall see what he’s offering when/if he calls me back tomorrow, although I’ve had my heart set on moving away for such a long time, it would have to be something pretty spectacular to get me to stay.



The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 28

Well I’ve had a lovely day with my cousin and her family today, despite the fact that we’re both fighting colds! That’s right, THE COLD is back. I should have known it wouldn’t stay away for too long.

Despite the fact that I hadn’t intended to work while I was here, I did get a little bit of work done earlier, on my presentation for Monday, for which I’m using Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and looking at the relationships between the women.

As tough as this degree has been, I’m lucky that I am doing a degree in American Studies and that most of the essays I do are on subjects that interest me. Despite the fact that, for now at least, I’ve decided not to pursue further study, I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to look at women’s issues, as represented in literature and film. It informs me in my own life and decisions, and the string female characters I read about give me a solid role model to follow in a bid to progress my life to where I want to be.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 22

Last night I was talking to one of my friends on Skype, who happens to be a fellow blogger.  “Are you still torturing yourself with that twelve-week blog?” he asked me.

The reply was, of course, yes.  At times I do ask myself why on earth I challenged myself to write a blog a day during one of the most stressful times of my life.  Although considering I’ve not missed a blog yet (albeit there were a few late ones, but if you knew me, you wouldn’t be surprised at that), I think it’s been a pretty good challenge to do.  It would be very easy for me to get to the end of every day and not think about what I’ve achieved, or, what I haven’t achieved that day.  But this challenge has been good because forcing myself to reflect on what I have or haven’t done, means that I get to either pat myself on the back, or waggle a finger at myself and tell myself to get my arse in gear.

After yesterday’s blog, I sent off another job application.  It had been on my To Do list for a while, and I’m glad I got it sent off in time.  Today I have done some more research into jobs abroad, which has actually led me to find some more jobs to apply for in London.

The problem I’m having is that I’m still not quite sure where I want to be when I finish uni.  I hate living in England, mainly because of the weather.  Today was a sunny day, but still cold.  If we had a summer that started in April and was continuous through to September, and let me be specific – by summer I mean sunny AND warm – then I could probably cope with that, but even the warm spells are few and far between, and you can’t plan anything.  Not knowing what the weather is like from day-to-day just doesn’t suit me.  I want to know that it’s going to be sunny and warm every day.  Sadly, there is not one spot of the British Isles where this is the case, so, I need to look further afield.  My passport allows me to move within the EU, but obviously in most cases there is a language barrier, and these countries do seem to have a different way of life to the English-speaking ones.  Hence why Europe has never really appealed to me to as an alternative location to live.

The where-shall-I-move-to-question however is not just dependent on me.  I’ve mentioned this in my blog before, but I have a cat, Harry.  He’s twelve and a half years old, and I’ve had him since he’s a baby.  He’s pretty high maintenance (like his mother) and he depends on me; also, I depend on him.  Of course I get annoyed at him for waking me up at the ungodly hours that he does; living in rented accommodation does cause its own problems when you cannot just go ahead and put in a cat flap.  But I don’t know if I can leave him.  I never wanted to be one of those people who says they couldn’t do this or couldn’t do that because of their pets, but I really don’t know if I can leave him now.  Last weekend before I went to Whitby for the weekend, he knew the night before that something was afoot.  In the morning he wouldn’t settle and when I tried to put him outside to do his business before I left, he downright refused, and sat on my bed while scowling at me.  Next weekend I shall be away again, and I daren’t tell him I’m going away again!  Somebody asked me if I would go abroad if I didn’t have him; the truth is, yes I probably would.  But while part of me wants to go somewhere the sun shines year round, I don’t know if that is the best way to move forward with my career.  I’ve never had “a career” before.  I’ve had jobs but never anything that felt that important to me.  After the uncertainty of the last few years, I want to get a job, have some money coming in, a place to live.  I want to be settled.  I guess that’s why part of me feels like moving to London would be the right choice, because I could focus on all of those things, and Harry could come with me.  I’m not sure how much choice there will be for house shares/bedsits for people with pets, but I figure it can’t be that hard to find somewhere.  I guess ideally I would move somewhere hot, where Haribo could come with me, and I’d have my dream job in publishing.  But I know the chances of that are slim, if not completely unrealistic.

Sigh.  I seem to have gone off on a tangent here, so I’ll continue with the blog in hand.  I’ve done no uni work today; mainly for the reason that I’ve not felt too well.  I slept in until around 11am, had something to eat (a student’s breakfast of Diet Coke, a lemon bakewell and some digestive biscuits) then went to the shops and the supermarket with my housemates.  Not long after being out, I started to get backache, accompanied by a general unwell feeling (f I didn’t know better, I thought I was getting my period, although you’ll know from reading Day 21’s blog that I’ve been on my period for a week already).  We stopped in Morrison’s and had a late lunch/early dinner (it was around 2:30pm by this point) and I felt slightly better after food.  Around 6pm I started feeling sick and rather headachey, although this seem to be cured by a combination of food and paracetamol.  My housemate told me I am probably getting flu again; I hope not.  I am just about well again after the last bout of cold and don’t need any more!  But I do feel run down, so anything’s possible. Anyway, the point I was making, before I rudely interrupted myself, was that I had great plans for working this weekend; and all have been scuppered by not feeling 100%.  I’ve done nothing for uni this weekend, and with three weeks until my dissertation is due in this is not a good sign.

I’ll finish this blog here, because I have another one that I want to write before I get myself off to bed for a reasonably early night.  See you there.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 9

So this challenge hasn’t been going so well lately.  On Friday I started getting a cold again, and have been feeling pretty crappy physically ever since.  Today started out ok; I got up around 11:30am, made coffee and sat outside in the back garden, soaking up the sun and the fresh air.  While I was sat there I decided I needed to live somewhere where it was warm and sunny all the time.  I have previously had this idea about living in Gibraltar and did a quick online search for jobs there.

I found a job that I was interested in, advertised by a recruitment agency, filled in the online application and sent it off.  After that, it was downhill all the way.

This afternoon I went to bed for a nap.  I never used to be able to sleep in the day but nowadays, if I get tired, or, like today, I feel I cannot cope with what I am feeling, I go to bed, in the hope of sleeping and shutting it all out.

This evening I have done nothing productive, with the possible exception of watching the CSI: Season 9 box set I bought on my last visit to LA in 2011.  If I had a penny for every game of Spider Solitaire I’ve played, well, I’d be quite rich by now.

As you know if you’re a reader of this blog, I do suffer with pre-menstrual tension.  Today feels like one of those days, although I still have a week and a half to go until my period is due.  So I don’t know if I can put it down to this, or just down to my depression.

I haven’t done any uni work for ages now, and my dissertation deadline is looming.  My dad said to me the other day he had seen my blog, and he hopes I’m not just writing my blog, but that I’m doing my work too.  Well, if you’ve been reading the blog, you’ll know I’ve been writing the blog but the work side of things has been tailing off.

I can’t tell you why.  I think I am scared of doing an essay.  I am scared of applying for jobs.  I am fearful of wanting anything for my life, because what if it doesn’t work out?  I have been so lost in life for so many years now, it is final coming to end of the tunnel time.  But what if the light of the tunnel is just someone with a torch?  Or worse, the headlights of an oncoming train?

My counsellor pulls me up for using the words “What if…”  I know my fears are irrational, but right now I don’t know how to get past this.

So bear with me while I try and get myself out of this deep blue funk.  Writing this blog has helped me, I can feel myself calming already.  Yet I still feel tears in my eyes.   I guess the sea is going to remain choppy for a while yet.




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