Life Sweet Life

I wake this morning to the sound of my iPhone.  The alarm is going off, as it does every weekday at 7am.  I press snooze, my head hits the pillow and I get another nine minutes of lovely sleep, before it goes off again, and I tap my phone to silence it.  After the fourth time of snoozing, I decide it’s time to open my eyes properly and attempt to prepare myself for the task of getting up.

As I reach to unplug my phone, flat on the sheet beside my pillow, Bish stirs next to me, and I stroke his head gently.  Morning B, I say, as I hold my thumb on my phone’s thumbprint identification system, and it unlocks without me having to enter any security password.  I check my emails first, scrolling through the fifteen or so that have arrived since I closed my eyes to sleep.  I read only the four job emails, of which there is nothing of interest, and I delete them straight away.  I close down my emails and go straight to the next app of my morning routine, Facebook.  As I look at my news feed, Facebook informs me that I have MEMORIES TO LOOK BACK ON TODAY, and the first memory I see is from 14 June 2014.  It contains a photo of actress Sarah Connelly in the film, Labyrinth, and was a Facebook post in which I shared what turned out to be one of my most popular blog posts: Homeless Sweet Homeless.

I click on the link and read the post nostalgically and with pride, as I do when I read any of my blog posts.  I am reminded that this post was written two years ago, when I had moved out of a flat in Ealing, but hadn’t yet found a suitable place for me and Bish to move to.  I am reminded that during this time I had stayed with friends and in a B&B.  I am reminded that Bish at the time was in a cattery in Edgeware, and my stuff was in storage in Hangar Lane.  I am reminded that I had dejunked 12 bin bags full of crap to the charity shops, and sold almost all of my furniture to people via Gumtree.  I am reminded of the difficulty I was having in finding something within budget and pet-allowing.  I am reminded that I was encouraged, but resisted, to re-home Bish.  I am reminded that I was able to write a blog that included one of my favourite childhood films.  I am reminded that I have not written a blog in many many months.

I have thought about it, occasionally.  There is certainly a lot to update you on.  But the self-doubt part of me has heard my blog voice in my head, and cringed, and any thoughts I have had of writing it again have dissipated.

Having thought about it all day, I just re-read all my blog posts from 2016, and I am surprised to find there are actually five published this year.  It is so long since I blogged that I have forgotten that I published any at all since the new year started.  I am pleased to see that one of the five is a short story, a piece of fiction I wrote on my commute one day.  This reminds me that I am capable of writing fiction, not just blog posts, and that on rare occasions I have even managed to put it out there for people to read, not just to resign it to a notepad or in the notes pages of my phone.  I am encouraged by what I have read, and it sparks something in me, in my desire to write, to put words on paper, even a virtual page.  Two years after a blog about being homeless, and I am determined to make today the day I start blogging again.

So here it is, a post, as yet, untitled.  So what have I been doing when I’ve been not writing?  Well a lot has changed.  Back in September 2015, I made the decision to move back up north.  You’ll know if you have read previous posts that it was something that had been suggested to me by a friend during my time in London, but for reasons that seem beyond me now, I could not face.  I had clung onto the idea that my future was in London for a long time, but I had to face up to the reality that I was treading water in an expensive, lonely city, and not progressing in any way, shape or form.  I spent five months applying for jobs in the north, but not even being shortlisted for anything dampened my spirits.  I had given myself six months to find something and set myself a deadline of the end of March to leave.  As the middle of February approached and I was faced with two lengthy trips back home at the end of February and the middle of March for family birthdays, and two sets of travel and cattery costs, and I decided enough was enough, and after a few day’s thought, handed my resignation in at work and gave notice on my flat.  My dad had kindly offered me my old room back, and it meant that Bish and I could move back to Lincoln while I saved enough money to move onto Sheffield.

After saying goodbye to the few good friends I had made in London, on 13th March, Bish and I moved back to my childhood home in Lincoln.  The relief of being away from the capital was increased at the sight of fields from my bedroom window, and while I knew Lincoln was only a temporary residence, I knew the move back north was the right thing for me and Bish.

After leaving my job in London, I had intended to find temp work here, but because I was only planning on being here 1-3 months before moving on again, I was told there was very little in the way of short-term temporary work.  However, the agency offered me the opportunity to go back to my old department in the NHS, at a much lower rate of pay.  Reluctantly, in order to save money to move, I took the job.  While I was gutted at having to take a drop in pay yet again, the work was easy, and more importantly, I was surrounded by friends, people I had known and worked with for many years.  I relished my new commute, one that took 25-30 minutes door to door, half of which I was able to walk or ride a bus alongside beautiful fields, instead of my former 60-90 minute London commute where I’d be in busy train carriages or running across the footbridge at Britain’s busiest train station, Clapham Junction.

Bish has settled into life in the north although it hasn’t been easy for him.  Not long after we moved, he spent a day sleeping under the conifers in my dad’s garden, and a few days later, I returned from a weekend away to find him covered in ticks.  While dad and I removed the ones we could see over the next few days, it soon became clear that it would take a specialist.  We took him to a local vets and it turned out he was riddled with them.  After undergoing a multiple trips to the vets, with two lots of sedation and a hell of a lot of tricky tick removal, he is now clear of the little bastards, but it was a very stressful few weeks for all of us.

I’ve been in Lincoln for just over three months now, and in less than three weeks Bish and I will be moving on again.  In order to tell you about our next move, I need to tell you about the biggest change in my life, which happened at the beginning of this year.  Yes, after all those years of searching, I finally met a kind, caring, supportive and absolutely wonderful man who fills my heart with joy.  Online dating finally paid off, and it was worth putting my hand in my pocket, as I met my guy on e-Harmony.  After endless messages, it soon became clear that we were very well matched, and our mutual love of charity shops, board games, books and 80s films, created a foundation for our two creative souls to build a relationship.  Six months later and I am happier than I have ever been, and I know that he was worth waiting for.  So, mine and Bish’s next move is to Derby, where my boyfriend lives, and I can’t wait.  It’s been great staying with my dad, but I’m looking forward to having my independence back, to live with my boyfriend, in a decent size house, not a room, a place where Bish can enjoy the run of, and where he has his own cat flap, out into the garden where he can relax on a summer’s day (and not a conifer in sight!).

Finding love hasn’t made all my problems go away, but having someone by my side who understands depression, and is supportive and there for me at the times when I do fall apart, has made the transitional period so much easier.

So in just over two weeks I’ll make another move, to another new place in which for me to re-invent myself.  I think back to two years ago, when I had no fixed abode, and no idea what the future held.  I still don’t know what the future holds, but I know it contains a loving relationship with someone who thinks the world of me and Bish, and for whom the feeling is mutual (from me and my cat).  And if being homeless taught me nothing else, it showed me that I can cope with what life throws at me, and I can live to tell the tale.

I think it’s true to say you don’t know what is round the corner, and you never know when your life will change.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but always for a reason.  And even the bad things can give you inspiration, when you look back upon them and can say: I survived that.

 

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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.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 7

With less than 24 hours until my final essay deadlines, it’s strange to think that by this time tomorrow my days at university will be over.  I still have two final essays to finish, but ones about three-quarters done, and the other is about halfway.  I have no doubt that they will both be in tomorrow, but I’m almost sure it’ll be afternoon before they get submitted.  One thing I do know, is that I’ll be jumping for joy once I walk out of the Faculty Office for the last time.

While you may be forgiven to think that I might take a break before plunging into anything new, think again.  My diary for the next week is full to the brim, and that includes a visit from my American friend, two trips to London, a near-naked dip in Covent Garden courtesy of Nivea and the biggie: moving house.  After 13th May, I’ll be making a full-time job of finding a job, and so while I may get to lounge around in my new apartment a little, I’m really hoping I’ll get work, at least temporary work, fairly quickly.  The relaxing time, preferably in the form of laying by a hot pool with a glass of sangria, will have to wait until later in the year.

But I don’t mind my life being busy.  This is what I’ve been working towards for years and it’s finally here.  So while tomorrow may be the day I hand my final essays in, really it’s just another tick on the huge To Do list of my life.  And I’m determined to work hard to get to where I want to be.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 18

Recently I was told that great writers write when they don’t want to.  Right now, I don’t want to.  Right now, at just gone 1am, I want to go to bed.  I was at the stage of shutting down my computer before I remembered that, no, I Haven’t Blogged Today, and reluctantly opened up Google Chrome and WordPress.

Today I have been disinterested, overeating and easily grumpified.  I even fell out with The Bish, or rather he fell out with me, because I attempted to take the guinea pig (or Mini Pig, as he’s been named), Matt Damon, out of his cage, and he stomped off upstairs, hiding out under my housemate’s bed for several hours.

I know Bish is unsettled right now, and he is picking that up from me.  I still have no news about the flatshare, and I’m pretty sure that means it’s a thanks-but-no-thanks.  If that’s the case, then I still have to find somewhere to live, before I can find a job, and thus my immediate future remains unknown.  When I move, Bish is going to have to travel by far the furthest he’s ever been.  He hates going in his carry case, acquainting its arrival with either the vets, or the cattery, neither of which is a preferred option for him.  They do say moving house is stressful, and I guess that includes the finding a house too.

On the plus side, my first essay is due on Tuesday.  No, actually, technically that’s tomorrow, since it’s now 1:17am on Monday.  So while I still have words to write, by Thursday two of the essays will be in, leaving two to go, and that’s two steps closer to my dream of being essay-free.