Archive for December, 2010


Cat

After days of being confined to the dining room* on account of her poorly tummy, the cat was finally allowed back into the lounge. She has returned to the scene with enthusiasm, rolling all over the place in what I think is an effort to prove that we can cuddle her properly without making her throw up. At present, Artemis is squeezed between the laptop and my body, with her bum on my right arm and her head under my left. I am resting the full weight of my left arm on her but she is purring anyway. I don’t think there’s enough in her especially small head for her to be bothered.

In other news, the bear remains nameless. I wanted to put a tag on it saying something akin to “Please look after this bear” re. Paddington. The problem is that any name I think is good, turns out to be unpronouncable in Danish, and any name S- thinks sounds Danish, I think sounds like vomiting. We’ll probably settle for something ridiculous like Ormus, or Ulala, or Link. Heaven knows how stink-cat got away with Artemis… a few more days at the xbox and she might have been Pie Master.**

Anyway, I should probably go, remove the cat from her current resting place, and set about packing and tidying before the mad rush tomorrow. Wish me luck getting on a plane… not so much luck wanted in regards to getting back. 😛

 

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*For anyone who hasn’t been to our house, the dining room isn’t really a dining room. It’s a sort of large square corridor which is home to the largely superfluous dining table, the giant computer which never gets used, and the unplayed piano.

**
Ormus: Diablo II
Ulala: Space Channel 5
Link: Zelda
Pie Master: Fable

… for those who might not have known.

Light

Remind me: Next time I buy a car, I need to check that I can personally change the lightbulbs. Not only do we have to take Polo in to the dealer to have the headlamps changed, but because my hands are larger than a five year-old’s, I had to admit defeat and take Charlie Micra to that most hated of places – Halfords – and ask them to do it for me.

Had it been summer, I might have stuck it out, but at minus Baltic degrees my fingers and I only lasted 25 minutes out of the necessary 50 that the bulb took to change. And now, beneath the light of the eerily bright full moon and amongst the frost, I will go and test this new headlamp.

Roll on 8pm. The holiday hour.

20th

At 5am this morning, I snapped awake and stumbled through the house. After ten cold minutes of rummaging around in my bag, amongst old receipts, escaping dried fruit and the occasional passport which may or may not have been mine, I finally lay my hands on my diary. By the light of my mobile phone, I turned to today’s page and with relief, let my shoulders fall from where they had been standing to attention by my ears. I hadn’t imagined it in the sleepy bliss before bed: the 20th is a day off.

Except as with all of my days off of late, there seems to be so much else to do. Hats need knitting, packages need posting, piles of Danish Christmas cookies need scoffing with cups of steaming tea. I need to pack for the Christmas break, to prepare for work on the 21st and to tidy up the chaos that is my living room in preparation for the new sofa. I need to avoid the lure of the Dreamcast for just a few more weeks until after Christmas 2 in January.

Anyway, I’m not complaining. I tried to remain still this weekend, to sit and reflect and take the time to feel better but that’s just not how I work. I’d rather be busy.

Also, I don’t know if anyone remembers the bear I knitted? I want to give him a name tag, like the one Paddington has, but I don’t know what to call him. Suggestions are very, very welcome. You have until Thursday morning, when he will come on the plane with me and fly to merry ol’ Denmark.

Sod’s Law

The final day of the epic slog came and went, according to the will of Sod’s Law.

“Morning, Frank,” says the sister, “You’re working in the big bay today. There’s just been a death – you’ll need to get the body ready for the morgue.”
“Oh,” is all I manage as the tea which has replaced my brain attempts to make sense of the situation.
“You’ll want to be quick though before things freeze as they are.”

I used to want to be an undertaker. Not so much because I have a fascination with corpses, but because I wear a lot of black, look positively miserable even when I’m smiling, and am a huge fan of the large, shiny cars which tend to lend themselves well to hearses. Even after Wednesday morning’s first encounter with a cadaver, I reckon I could do it because that’s what undertaking is all about. The body didn’t frighten me or anything, it was just pretty upsetting because the person in question had given me the biggest smile imaginable not 12 hours earlier, simply because I snuck them an extra biscuit.

Hospitals are strange places at the best of times – stuffed full of people in a sort of purgatory. They’re all waiting for something – test results, life affirmation, death, drugs, lunch breaks and the tea rounds – so it’s always unsettling when something absolute happens. Even, dare I say it, when someone is cured and goes home, there’s a strange atmosphere which follows them. Certainty isn’t what hospitals are about.

We cleaned the deceased and the porters removed the body to the mortuary – which, for those interested in zombies is actually below the biochemistry and microbiology labs – then drew the curtains around the bed space again because waiting was more comfortable than action. I’m usually of the opposite opinion and find it easier to do than to think – it’s why I love tea so much. Even when there’s nothing else to be done, you can still flick the kettle on. At work though, the longer something stays in limbo, the better. I guess that’s just because it’s normal.

Eventually the bed was needed and we set about stripping the sheets and removing all the instruments which had, until a few hours previous, been so vital to life. Grouped together, around the cot with its deflating air mattress, they looked sinister – grim markers that we had failed. Dispersed, back onto the rest of the ward, they seemed more at ease, as though we’d managed to dissipate the certainty of the ending our patient had been prey to. We made the bed, completing the illusion that no one had been there and finally, with a great deal of effort I rubbed the name from the board.

It wasn’t the death itself which was tough – it was that we had to go on afterwards. And as always with Sod’s Law, things kept getting harder – confused patients, paralysed patients, patients whose urine was dangerous to our five pregnant nurses… and on went the list. As we struggled to cope, the rest of the hospital continued to overflow into our usually sedate little ward until handover came and I fled to the quiet of my car.

I turned off the radio for the first time ever and drive home in silence, concentrating on the pool of light cast by my remaining head-lamp bulb. It was only the following morning that I managed to regain the presence of mind to assess the previous day, and collect enough of my emotions together to cry.

Nursing is not for me. I don’t have the strength to do this job without becoming callous or crazy. I have always maintained that nurses are superheroes, but I’m just not of that stock. I’m good with people – I know that much – but I’m not that strong. I’m glad I learned this now. To those who can cope, I have nothing but the deepest respect for you.

Meow

And so it begins – the crazyness which comes with exhaustion.

Not only does this new age of almost-drunken near-unconsciousness herald some magnificent things – like forgetting I’ve already made myself a cup of tea, then making another – but the darker side of my sleep deprived brain has also begun to surface. Yes, that’s right, I can understand the cat as if she were speaking English.

“What’s that you say, Artemis? You want more pseudo-chicken biscuits? Well I wouldn’t, but ok. And I know that little groan means you’re disappointed I caught you trying to get into the living room and sent you back to your grot-bed. I don’t care, either. Be still, beast!”

I keep telling myself I’m over half-way through these consecutive nightmare-long shifts, and that I only have two short days left after today until I’m on holiday. Obviously though, being as addled as I am right now, the good news hasn’t yet sunk in and I find myself staring at my shift blocks on screen, begging for all those little green boxes which sing my inevitable doom to disappear.

I’m spread too thinly right now – as Bilbo says in the LOTR films, “like too little butter over too much bread.” What I don’t give at work, I give at home and I’m finding myself becoming a Frankie-shaped balloon, full of very little but stretched to bursting point nevertheless. I think if I make it through today though, I might just manage to pull myself back – to reclaim a little of my creativity and energy. By hook or by crook.  Regardless of whether I do or not, I definitely feel that I deserve to be reincarnated as a pampered house-cat in my next life – Artemis is anything but sleep deprived. She told me so herself…

NB: Please don’t interpret the above as my being miserable. I’m not.

Awake

I’m awake and look it… just. Thanks to piles of crumpets, some loose foundation and gallons of tea, I am apparently ready for another 12½ hours of grind. I wouldn’t mind so much either if I wasn’t leaving a big lump of sleeping husband in the bed, who will inevitably text me at around ten this morning, singing the praises of flexible working hours, and the advantages in waiting until the sun has melted a little of the ice off his car. Roll on Thursday. I swear I’m going to sleep until noon with my phone on so he can hear me snore!

I’m not jealous… who said that?

Tired

Well, just so you all know, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week herald 12½ hour days for me. As a result, my posts on here will either be about my new-found abilities to smell colour and see time, or will simply lament how tired I am.

Thankfully, I’ve at least managed to write all the Christmas cards for foreign family members, and find the missing piece to my Mum’s present. This means that when I’m finally finished what I’m knitting at the moment – and this would go a whole lot faster if people didn’t have such gigantic heads – I will be able to post off all my presents. I’m hoping to be done by Thursday, but we’ll see. After that, there are just a few more bits and bobs I need to have done by the time Christmas 2 rolls around in January and I will have succeeded in only buying 3 gifts which weren’t hand-made or second-hand. I will definitely strive to do this again next year, but will begin my crafty slog in July, rather than October.

Actually, on the subject of tired, I’d like to share a pet hate of mine with you:

Overly proud pregnant women.

Last night, at my work Christmas party, I was politely eaves-dropping on the next table* when I heard a group of women complimenting their colleague on her ‘brave’ choice of dress. The lady in question was a slim thing, swaddled in a lilac lycra abomination which seemed specifically designed to replace a big neon sign pointing to her baby bump.
“Well, why shouldn’t I show off?” she said, basking in the attention of her colleagues, “I’m doing such an incredible thing right now. I mean, I created life.” The out-of-bounds martini menu sparkled at me from the corner of my eye as I tried to resist bashing my head off the table. A stiff drink would have been very well-appreciated at that moment in time.

In my head, I walked over to her table, right eye twitching slightly, and slammed my fist down by her vegan dinner option. “Oi!” said Imaginary-Frankie, in a very bold sort of way, “You’re not special. My table? We’ve got 5 pregnant nurses, who not five minutes ago stopped a woman from choking on the other side of the restaurant. That’s 5 other people who managed to open their legs, get knocked up and create life. And you know what, you daft cow? There are thousands of other women all over the world doing exactly what you are in war zones, famine-struck regions and in families who make the bloody Mansons look normal. You, my moronic vegan friend, are not special. In fact, you’re about as stupid as they come – starving your unborn child of readily available nutrients because you’re a fussy eater. You care about animal welfare? Buy from reputable farms, don’t malnourish yourself.”

With that, Imaginary-Frankie sat back down and enjoyed one of the many glasses of strong spirits which other admiring patrons had bought for her. Real-Frankie could only look on, jealously, as yet again her imagination stole the show and her car keys prevented her from sloshing back the entire cocktail list.

Sometimes, I wish I was as brave as my subconscious would have me be. Maybe then, all these people I rant about might start being humiliated by me in public, forcing others around them to think before opening their mouths and thus making the world a less moronic place…

…But I’m tired. And the babble I just communicated makes less sense to read through now than it did when I thought it last night. However as my brain has now morphed into a soggy, sploppy mush, the above drivel is the only subject matter I have to share. In future, I think I’ll follow my own advice and think before I put fingers to keyboard… perhaps that’s how I can actively make the world a less moronic place.

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* Overhearing other people’s conversations was slightly less tedious than torturing myself with the drinks selection. You see, I’m a lover of real tequila – the rich, golden kind, not that crappy stuff which you knock back like cheap vodka – so naturally, on finding a place with an astonishing tequila collection, I also found myself a designated driver.

Continue

The knitting continues unabated, as does the flow of work. I console myself with stacks of fabric to be sewn one day, and the promise of Clive Cussler books which are piling up slowly in the corner.

Also, the Dreamcast seems to have resurfaced now that the spare bed is gone. Naturally, this has turned my mind to all manner of important things – like whether or not I actually did complete Phatasy Star Online or just dream it, whether there will ever be a Skies of Arcadia sequel for whatever new console is hottest that day, and just how many times I can make Ulala convulse before she and the rest of the crew at Space Chanel 5 get their scoop. And who the hell calls their kid ‘Pudding’ anyways?

I often wish life was more like a computer game – not in the way they showed on Futurama, but the idea of save points and continues certainly appeals. Back in the days when I used to have a Playstation – yes, Sega-girl once bought a Sony product – I took great pleasure in saving FFVIII at key points in the story, sending my character off to be a total jerk, then reloading from my previous save point and carrying on as the game seemed to want. And if continues did exist in real life, you could take the chace, overtake that total knob end  in the white van, and it wouldn’t matter if you crashed horribly because you’d have an extra guy left. And if the continue system was anything like Sonic, my goth years and associated rings must have earned me well over 3 continues by now so I could overtake as many things as I wanted!

Needless to say that the Dreamcast remains in the box for now. To take it out, I feel, would be rather dangerous. Just looking at it this morning has given me far more ideas than I’m sure it’s healthy for me to have.

Also, thanks to my wonderfully inventive mother, I now know what I’m getting for everyone on my present list! Hooray! Now there’s just one hat, some cookies, and a lot of sewing to go!

Evaporating

Time seems to be evaporating at present. No matter how hard I work, I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I don’t know whether it’s because the Christmas deadline is coming and I’m starting to feel a little stressed about finishing all my gifts in time, or whether it’s simply because I’m trying to do too much in my increasingly decreasing leisure hours. Either way, the days seem to pass in a matter of minutes, and whilst that isn’t so bad while I’m at work, it’s not great when I’m at home and want to chill out for a few brief hours.

Still, today is a day off and I intend to make the most of it by catching up on the BBC’s Turn Back Time show about the british high street, thinking about how to wrap my gifts, pressuring husband into writing the German Christmas cards for his family, and showing you all this little guy…

I made him from a free pattern I found online, some leftover wool and far too much stuffing from ebay. Though the instructions didn’t call for a scarf, I felt it prudent in the current weather to give him one… Also the neck joint looked quite messy.

Don’t get me wrong, had I not set out to make soap, source antique books, knit my bodyweight in wool and sew until the machine conked out, my skill set would be far poorer. I now know how to decipher ‘k2tog, skpo’, how to handle caustic soda, and which stores are likely to sell books that have been out of print for 40+ years. The mad homemade rush has been a steep learning curve, and I’m starting to feel a little tired now, but I would do it again next year for sure – possibly starting as early as January…

In any case, after Christmas is finished, I will post photos of everything I’ve made and if there is the demand, go through how I made it all.

For now though, it’s time for another cuppa, to put my feet up, and enjoy a well-earned bag of crisps.

 

Another

Another day of driving in the dark and the fog begins. Last night, against all advice from friends and family, I shunned the main A-road home and chose to take my chances on the now-neglected old road from Newmarket to Cambridge.

The A14 will be lit in places.
It’s a straighter road.

You’ll be able to stay in the slow lane.
It’s sure to be gritted.

And you know what, it probably is. But so is the old road, and I know it by heart now. And yes, it doesn’t have a slow lane, but if morons want to kill themselves by overtaking me then they’re more than welcome to.

In my exhausted – and therefore worryingly poetic – state last night, I decided to take this as a metaphor for life. We all seem to be frightened by old things, thinking that for some reason they won’t be as good as the equivalents we’ve made. We are newer, brighter, braver, better, than those who came before and therefore our shiny new roads, electric sewing machines, microwave cookery and machine knit sweaters are superior.

I’m not so sure – the old road was there before the gritters and people still managed to pass. Since 1818, hand cranked sewing machines have been producing items we still come across today. The microwave has still to prove its place in any kitchen outside of the workplace for me, whilst the knowledge that someone has sat down and twitched out a garment for me on small metal sticks is the most incredible feeling ever.

What our generation has done is made the world faster – we haven’t necessarily made it better. Things can only go so quickly before they simply cease to function, and as a wise man once said, “Cars break down and people break down.” Speed isn’t necessarily for the best…

The problem is though, that the same wise man also made music to drive fast to… I can’t tell you how much I wish this fog would clear.