A different kind of Monday

IMG_20150309_080451_editJust three short months ago, I wrote Oh, London, my London, and it hurt to write it.

But last Friday brought me to my knees. DD and her schoolmates had to walk out a back entrance of school, with news helicopters hovering overhead. She came home and just got into bed and watched the Gilmore Girls. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep. Nothing felt like it made any sense.

On Saturday, the entire city was on high alert. I had to keep pushing the anxiety down as I took DD to her Saturday classes. Everyone made eye contact on the Tube – so unusual for Londoners. There was a visible police presence everywhere.

And today, I dropped DD to school, like lots of other parents. Except today, we’re acutely aware of what we almost lost on Friday. Of how tenuous our hold on life really is. It’s a little surreal. I feel like I’ve popped some fuzzy pills and they’re delaying all my reactions and responses.

Maybe tomorrow will be different.

Too damn close to home…

wtfY’all are used to me updating the blog or Twitter with “I’m safe, nowhere near the attack/bomb/insert London incident here”.

Not today. Not effing today. Today, I am smack in the middle of crazy central. But outside the cordon that has my daughter’s school in lockdown. Yes, my baby girl got to school just in time. Some of her friends were not so lucky. There were cuts and scrapes in the stampede to get off the train and out of the station. There were girls stuck in trains behind. Girls walking on tracks, once the power was cut.

And I have spent the best part of today, guts churning, trying to be helpful. Positive. Forward-planning. Reaching out to other parents. But DD’s school is coming out of lockdown and I am going to run up that road to collect her and try not to weep. I am going to hold her and cuddle her and kiss her until she begs for mercy.

And like every other parent at the school, I am going to have to muster the courage to send her off to school again on Monday.

Wish me luck!

Brain Dumping

The crazy in my life has been ramping up again. It goes in cycles and given my love of analytics, you think I’d have a chart or plan or something to prepare myself, but no, I just have lists. And lists of lists. And reminders that beep. And a brain that won’t quiet, so even when I’m sleeping, I’m doing things. Working through things. Making plans.

DD has been invited to dance with the degree level, pre-professional ballet dancers for the next 12 weeks, and then perform with them. It’s a huge deal. Ginormous. So of course she accepted. Which means she is now dancing 5 days a week and yours truly will be schlepping her across town. Tweak, adjust, diarise. Did I mention one of these days is Saturday? Who needs a life? I’m happy for her, so damn happy, but I’m so damn tired, too. And I only have one child. How do people do this with multiples?

The Brexit situation is still making me anxious, even though I know I’m not at risk. But how can I be quiet and smug when other dual citizenship families are? What kind of a person would that make me? So I tweet, and sign petitions, and find information, and share it. And stay emotionally involved, which is draining.

So here’s my challenge to myself today:

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An Apple A Day…

I went for a health screen the other week. I have a new life insurance plan which encourages me to engage with it; being fit and healthy drives down my premiums. Now given the fact that I live in central London, don’t have a car, and walk or bicycle everywhere, I like to think I’m pretty fit. However, I didn’t reckon with the utterly medieval height-weight-BMI calculation at the health screen.

Ya see, all that walking and biking builds muscle mass, so even though I am the same clothing size I was at 18 (granted, after childbirth, not all the pieces stack together neatly), the computer (and therefore, insurance company) now thinks I’m overweight. So until I get a Bioimpedance Analysis (BIA) done, to measure the ratio of fat to lean body mass, that number sticks. It’s on my file. All these years spent focusing on how I feel, how I’m managing my auto-immune condition, my PTSD – all meant nothing in light of that stupid number. But just for a second.

I had a choice: to let that number suddenly define me and erode years of hard work and body love, or reject it for what it is. A number. Just a number. A static snapshot of me on a particular day. I chose not to assign it any value in my life.

1461333_10202047343696158_6242111199162529909_nBecause I define my health by the overall picture – mind and body in tandem. How calm I am. How able I am to deal with stress at work. How long my auto-immune condition stays in remission. How mild the flare ups are. How much sleep I’m getting. How much my hip hurts. And so far, I’m winning. I feel good.

I choose this quote by Anne Lamott over that number every single day!

Danger Mouse

So yesterday, I was at a meeting at school first thing.

Then I came home and discovered husband had moved the mousetrap from near the kitchen bin to near the fireplace. So I phoned husband to ask him why he moved it.

He says he didn’t. I say, are you sure? He says, Yep.

So from my vantage point about twelve feet away, I pop my glasses back on and squint … and see a mouse in the mousetrap.

At this point, I climb onto a dining table chair and scream, “Get out, get OUT, GET OUT!!!!”

Husband is in hysterics on the other end, laughing so hard.

THE MOUSE GOT CAUGHT IN THE TRAP IN THE KITCHEN AND IT CRAWLED ITS WAY ACROSS THE DAMN FLOOR WITH THE TRAP, trying to get back to its hidey-hole. That is one super-mouse!

I got light-headed and seriously panicky, so I exiled myself from the house at husband’s request until he could come home after his meeting to get rid of it. (Husband knows the difference between normal anxiety and my anxiety, and that, my friends, is true love).

I went to a shopping centre, something I loathe almost as much as mice. I bought myself a winter coat since I didn’t have one. I ate some sweet potato mash. My galloping heart beat slowed down. Then husband called and said, I’m home but the mouse isn’t in the trap.

Boom, my heart rate ramped right up again! Stomach cramps. Sweaty palms.

mouseHusband tidied and eradicated any evidence of the mouse’s journey, but we are regarding the the fireplace very warily, in case the enraged mouse comes back in a bionic incarnation. We’re stomping around like ogres to pretend we’re not scared of the teeny-tiny (big, bad) mouse.

Turns out, Husband has murophobia, too. He just loves me that much that he’ll always deal with the mice. Awwwwwww.

Is the news really the news?

In July, I wrote about how I couldn’t handle social media with its constant stream of catastrophes. Not much has changed in the last couple of months. Even the Twitter hashtags get taken over with vitriol, and it’s hard to know which way is up when all I want to do is get facts. Information.

wtfIt freaks me out that in response to events in the USA, London has upped its security, which means a massive police presence everywhere. When I’m shopping. When I’m out for lunch. When we’re at the park. I’m not disputing the need for them, but I do hate the reasons for them. It saddens me that we have an emergency plan for when we’re out of the house. That my ten-year-old is aware and always alert when on the move.

How did we get here? What legacy are we leaving our children?

Relics of a Past Life

I genuinely had every good intention of blogging more this month, but every time I go on social media, there is some new tragedy or galling catastrophe, and I shy away again. To say recent events have tipped me over the edge would be fair. There are no words I can find to fully express how sad I am. How helpless I feel. How ashamed I feel, to be able to enjoy brunch with my daughter, when I still have flashbacks to a mother and her child in arms, covered in ash and dust, dead from a mistimed/misplaced air strike. And a lingering sense of terror and dread, that perhaps a similar Paris-Istanbul-Nice-Munich scenario might play out in London again. We have put DD’s trial runs on public transport alone on ice for a while (but how long is a while?). It makes me sad that she understands the reasons why. Despite  frequently suffering from motion sickness, she has opted to take the boat three times in the last week, rather than face the confines of the Tube.

This weekend was a chance to de-stress, ignore the Interwebs, and just ease into the first week of summer. DD had a spectacular end of term, with a really wonderful report card and a Maths award. She has been rewarded with a Kindle e-reader and is now happy as a pig in clover. She also enjoyed trying out all my shoes from a past life as I did a massive cull today. One of the few pairs to survive the cull were these beautiful gold Emilio Pucci gladiators.

The heels could double as weapons, and the pain they inflict are in direct proportion to their prettiness. I only wear them sitting down. But they’re a brilliant reminder of how fun and impractical and frivolous I once was! These shoes were a good way to tap into the juvenile, carefree part of my life (and raise my cool quotient in DD’s eyes).

Do you have a favourite relic from your past life?

 

 

Forgotten…

All the depressing news recently has made me more tetchy, more on edge, and honestly, just fed up with the state of the world. I. Can’t. Even.

Yesterday, I had an embarrassing triggering episode IN PUBLIC. WALKING WITH MY DAUGHTER. An ambulance sped by, as it does in every major city at least ten times a day. What was so special about this one? Well, it was a Children’s Acute Transport. The same kind which took my one-day-old baby away from me ten years ago. Cue instant tears and hyperventilation. On a busy road. In rush hour. Awesome. I tried focusing my attention on the beautiful, whole child next to me, but all the memories came rushing back in. For some inexplicable reason, I feel like I have to know what that journey was like for her. What they did with her? Did they have to resuscitate her again? I can start the process by writing and asking for her file(s). This irritates Husband as he feels like we should leave well enough alone and focus on fabulous DD. I wish I could. I’ve tried. But it’s like a horrible fungal infection that goes away, only to return a few months later. Memories are crap like that. Unshakeable. Or are they?

This morning’s journey in to work was strangely slow and delayed, and the city seemed muted. After last night’s episode, and this morning’s horse-strength antihistamines, I was too foggy to put two and two together and get my usual five. It was only when I got to work and stared at my phone that I realised today was 7/7. The eleventh anniversary of the London bombs. The day I nearly lost my fiance. The day I lost a friend. But you know what? Instead of the usual sadness, today, I had managed to forget. And it was nice. Nice not to be sad, to miss, to hurt, to cry. Reassured to know that it’s OK to forget for a moment.

IMAG0711_BURST002_1So maybe next year, I’ll pass a CATS transport and I won’t cry. I’ll wish the wee bairn inside well. I’ll wish the doctors and nurses strength and knowledge to perform their jobs. And I’ll come home, and hug my perfect DD, and be grateful, instead of sad.

Maybe the world will be a slightly better place in a year. Who knows?

A kingdom asunder

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I took this photo from a taxi window, speeding home one day last week. There’s St. Paul’s, and Tower 42, and the Cheese Grater, and the Walkie Talkie, and just out of frame is the Shard. I will never get over the fact that I live in London. Every day, I wake up feeling lucky. Blessed. This city has been good to me and my family.

But after the #Brexit vote last week, what’s abundantly evident is that London, my city, my home, might exist in a bubble. That we in London are unaware of how the rest of England feels, or what privations it suffers.

This country which has been my home, which welcomed me, sheltered me, brought me my husband, raised my child, this amazing kingdom, is torn in two, rent asunder, friend against friend, family against family, with no clear solution in sight.

My position as an EEA national in the UK is up in the air – will I be allowed to stay? will I have to jump through any number of hoops? should I register as a Qualified Person? So many questions, very few answers. To say I’m emotional about this would be an understatement. I’m sad and I’ve cried more times than I’d like to admit.

So today, knowing my penchant for planning, and my need for strategy A, B, C, D and E, Husband and I sat down over breakfast and quietly talked through our options. If we have to leave, we want to do it on our terms. First world problems, right? We now have a rough idea what our fallback plans are, and I am relatively at peace with these (after a few more tears).

I’m still sad for the people of the kingdom who are in limbo, with no idea what’s coming next, and no idea what their long and short-term future looks like. The politicians in this nation owe their people some solid answers and some solid action and SOON.

 

 

In or Out?

You can’t get away from it. The EU referendum campaign is approaching fever-pitch and things are getting ugly. I can’t help but see the parallels with a rather acrimonious end-of-relationship. He said, she said, he means, she means… the #InFor campaign has generated some truly weird images – including one of Donald Trump. Yeah, you read that right.

I can’t help but think, “If only they actually talked. Worked through the sticking points, rather than involving all the friends and rellies.” Hmmmm. Interesting. Who would be the therapist/mediator for the innies and outies? Switzerland? Norway? Canada?

Husband has cast his (postal) vote. I don’t get to vote as a non-British citizen. But I do get to head up to the Icelandic Embassy this week and cast my vote for a new President… which is actually very exciting because the departing President has been in office for as long as I can remember, and it feels wonderful to think that the winds of change may blow in something positive. So I’m focusing on that, rather than the possibility of having to plan an exit strategy for my family. I’m not ready to leave London.

Two days to go….with The Clash song running through my head…