Learning Curve

Lesson one of re-discovering your happiness through synthetic means: when the manufacturer of your medication tells you in bold print that in the beginning you may have severely heightened anxiety, believe them. They are not fucking with you. It is in bold print for a reason.

Because I rock the party, I'm having a particularly heavy period in this time of adjusting to this new drug. It was much heavier than normal this morning, to the point that I bled through everything. In the bathroom I panicked, which was a wise move. Suddenly, I had tunnel vision, my ears were ringing, and I couldn't stand up. I managed to go up the stairs to the bedroom, smacking into walls and stair gates in the process. I made it to the bedroom, where I finally collapsed. I was holding a completely soaked maxi pad wrapped in toilet paper, which I managed to push under the bed so I wasn't found with it clutched in my hand. I could hear my Mom and The Dude ask if I was ok, but didn't have the energy or wherewithal to respond.

The Dude came in and stood over me calling my name. P also arrived to serve her primary purpose of poking me in the face and saying, "Whatchu doin' Mum? Whatchu doin' Mum?" The Dude helped me to the bed, and I groggily repeated, "I'm going to be sick, I'm going to be sick!" He ran into the kitchen and grabbed the fruit bowl (empty, for any of you fruit/vomit fetishists out there), but it was too late. Thankfully I hadn't eaten in awhile, so when I was sick all over myself and the bed there wasn't much cleanup required.

Now I'm laying in bed blogging about my first ever fainting episode. I'm pleased I could do it with such grace - collapsing in a heap of bloodied pyjamas, attempting to be covert with a used maxi pad, then ending the drama by throwing up on myself. You can say a lot about me, but damn if I ain't one classy broad.



I'm not quite ready to return to full-fledged blogging, as lo, I have been temporarily retired for an entire week now and can't yet face the resulting responsibility again.

I am only here to say that the blessed end is in sight - I have at long last talked my GP into prescribing medication, hopefully barring me from slipping even further into the mire.

The sky is a bit brighter today. It's about fucking time.


Just breathe

It seems my idolatry of DD has reached new and pathetic heights, as I too am taking a leave of absence. I could emerge in a few days feeling awake and alive again, or it may take longer. I don't know.

No more shall be said on this matter, lest I sicken myself with the resulting and inevitable melodrama.

Catch you on the flip side.


Where does the time go?

In the past I have obliquely referred to the earlier days of IF blogs, reflecting on those heady, halcyon days of bloggers now long gone. I have thought of them again recently, in the midst of Mel's IComLeavWe madness. I failed at it, again, though this will come as a surprise to no one.

I was good for an entire day, leaving the obligatory six comments on blogs new to me. I just can't help lamenting (and apologies to any IComLeavWe participants) how things were in the good old days. There were so many of us! We talked of wandings, cervical mucus, procreative sex under duress, marital strife brought on by the stress of infertility. It was all there, usually with naughty language and the hint of delightful cynicism that I treasure so much.

I'm not singling anyone out, but I confess, I find a lot of newer infertility blogs lack that raw honesty. Phew. I've been wanting to say that for awhile but have been too fearful to do so. Now it's out, and I feel much better now. I feel I can carry on living my life as normal again.

Anyway, rather than focusing on my negativity, who's up for a trip down memory lane? Remember MM from LimboParty? Sweet jesus on a stick I loved that woman. In fact, I think I declared my everlasting adoration upon my first reading of her blog. I had a lovely long email from MM last year (year before?) and failed to email her back because of my severe communication issues. Stupid, stupid me.

Another one that I have recalled is Sarah from Badlands. Another wonderful blog that in my recollection of it I feel the need to sigh wistfully. I know Sarah stopped blogging, but I haven't heard anything about her in years. I came across some funny comments she left on centuries old posts which made me smile, and as always in cases like this, I wonder what happened to her.

One of my all time favourites is Deborah, formerly of The Trying Game. Oh Deborah, Deborah, Deborah, how I love thee, even after all this time. Deborah was, sorry, IS (she's not dead!!) painfully witty and just all-round delicious. Once every year or so she crawls out of her dark little hole somewhere in the far reaches of the internet and leaves a comment here. I got quite giddy when I read the last one, because at the very heart of it all I'm just a creepy stalker who wallows in what used to be. I even got a picture of her gorgeous girl riding a pony, along with accompanying text jokingly calling her daughter a "pussy" for being frightened. Like I said, I fucking love this woman.

There are others, but I've just realised it's nearly bedtime and thanks to The Dude locking us out tonight and necessitating a mile-long walk with a toddler in the freezing cold, I'm tired. What no-longer-blogging bloggers do you miss? Also, any word on how the above ex-bloggers are doing? Hi, I'm a crazy stalker, as indicated above.


Music Monday: The Smiths

What? No furious emails demanding the return of Music Monday after a week's absence? No petitions passed around the blogosphere, a nifty badge for each participant's sidebar to commemorate the movement? You heartless music-hating bastards.

To appease the masses, or rather just Helen and A, this is Smiths week. I did a Morrissey/Smiths Music Monday back in March, but as it was so very long ago, here we are again.

Well I Wonder

Still Ill


The Queen is Dead

Pretty Girls Make Graves

Back to the Old House


Frankly Mr Shankly

Sweet and Tender Hooligan (apologies for the Charlie from "Lost" themed video)

Any Smiths favourites I've forgotten?



This year I would like to thank all of those delightful people who still insist on judging me for being a full-time mother. I'm having a difficult time lately, so thank you, granny at a birthday party, for insinuating that I'm a bad mother because I go to work. You probably have no idea how critical your statement, "I assume P is in nursery part-time?" sounded, or perhaps you do and think working mothers are all there for judgmental cows like yourself to patronise. When I confirmed that in fact I do imprison my child 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you clucked and turned back to attending someone else's child. This other child is no doubt looked after a doting and attentive mother all day, every day, rather than sucked into the bosom of the uncaring nursery foster mothers like my poor child.

I would also like to thank you, anonymous grandmother, for twisting the spike ever deeper into my chest by remarking how very tiny my malnourished, unloved child is. "She's soooo much tinier than all of the others!", you say, a weak smile on my lips as I hear this sentiment, again, for the thousandth time in my daughter's brief life. I suppose you, too, would be small if you were chained to a crib slat all day with only a festering bottle of formula as your sole source of nourishment. My poor, poor, baby. Starving for attention as well as food.

Because parenting is the gift that keeps on giving, today as yet another nosy bitch passive aggressively passed judgment on my decision to put P in nursery. Ironically, it was the head of the programme. I was explaining that P would be picked up early by The Dude, which clearly delighted this champion of toddler rights, who smiled and said, "That will be nice! It will be good for her to leave early for once!" So to you, yes, I get it. Despite me contributing to your paycheck, it is still apparently your place to advise me as to the best way to raise my daughter. Perhaps I should pay even more fees, a consultancy fee, if you will.

Comments like these annoy me on so many levels, but I'm far too tired and lazy to get into those at the moment. In brief, I am frustrated that it is perceived that I need to explain my decision as to why I work full-time to a random stranger, or anyone for that matter. The basic point is that I like to work. I like to work full-time. My daughter, though currently experiencing periods of complete and utter two year old-related madness, is nurtured and adored by both of her parents. I can't imagine being any closer to her than I am, and defy anyone to prove that our relationship would be better if I worked less.

Thank you ladies. My child may be in the care of people other than her parents for the bulk of the work week, but I am raising her to be fair-minded and respectful of others' decisions and points of view. I'm sorry for you that no amount of staying at home will make your children or grandchildren more likely to be the kind of person that I am helping to shape my daughter to become. Thank you for making me realise that I am a better mother than I sometimes think myself to be.

Ahem. Deep breath. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate! Below are my favourite Thanksgiving-related cards from my beloved someecards.com. Laugh until stuffing comes out of your nose.


Blame Canada

In a period of my life otherwise blighted by less than fantastic days, there has been some good news. After 21 months, we have been given the green light by Canada (yes, all of Canada have approved this) to submit our documents in order to gain residency.

For the uninitiated, Canada has a points-based immigration system. The first step is ascertaining on your own if you have enough points to potentially gain entry. If you do, there is a three page application form to complete, but no other documentation to submit at that time. We were told that that process would take about four years to complete. Our initial impression was that it was horribly long to wait, so now that this letter came through last week in half the time it has thrown us into organisational disarray.

Four years was daunting, but it at least would give us the opportunity to save some money (at least while the pound is still worth something). Our documents - financial, criminal clearance, proof of education and professional experience, etc - are due early in February. It's possible that if we are approved we could be moving in less than a year and I am bloody terrified.

This is the part where it gets a bit embarrassing. I've not spent any more than 3 days in Canada. I once crossed the border from Maine into New Brunswick when I was 12 courtesy of a family road trip. We stayed in a ratty motel in America's Hat, I swam in a frigid pool, and recall an abundance of Twin Peaks-style pine trees. About 7 years ago The Dude and I drove from Philly to Toronto and spent two nights in the city. We loved the drive up there, and enjoyed our time in Toronto considerably. Thus endeth my Canadian Experience.

One may wonder why we want to move 4000 miles away, again, to a country in which we've spent a collection of fleeting moments. Perhaps one has already been driven comatose by this appallingly boring post, in which case, it's doubtless you give a shit whether I choose to live in England, the US, Canada, or Lesotho. Regardless, I shall given you my reasons.

The Dude is British, I am American. It is far too expensive for us to have the lives we want in the UK. We both are educated, have good jobs, and work very hard. The Dude had the good fortune to be left a flat by his nan when she died, so we are even higher up on the property ladder than a lot of people in their early 30s (The Dude is actually in the twilight years of his 30s). Despite this, we will still never be able to afford anything more than a tiny, three bedroom terraced house with a patch of grass masquerading as a garden. Yes, yes, someone will surely point out that in certain areas you can afford more. I lived in a shady part of this city when we first moved here, and I won't compromise that again. A series of broken windows, 8 year olds telling adults to "fuck off", and a dead pigeon thrown on the doormat of my interior door in my block of flats was enough to ruin it for me. Go figure.

In Canada, we can afford a lovely big house with plenty of land for P to explore. I want her to have a childhood like mine - building tree houses, wading in creeks, and collecting bugs. That sort of life cannot be lived by us here. It can be in the States, but even with the promise of a new government it's still too much of a clusterfuck for us to make that gamble. I can't imagine going from nationalised healthcare here, to paying absurd amounts for shoddy coverage in the States.

I think a lot of people will judge us for jumping in blindly, but I'm confident it will all work out. I've spent nearly 7 years living in a different culture, and I'd be lying if I were to pretend that I'm not looking forward to returning to certain aspects of North American living.

Since I am ever-so-slightly clueless, I want to know your opinions on Canada. Our preference is Ontario, as it is close enough to my family without being too close, and since we liked our brief drive through it, it seems the logical place to land. We want to be near a city, Toronto, Ottawa, whatever. We're not keen on extreme rural living, but conversely suburban subdivision hell makes me want to gauge out my eyes with slivers of a rusted tin can. That is to say, I'm not a fan of such places.

Lest you think I'm a complete ignorant asshole, I know all about Canadian real estate thanks to my many years of internet research. My Canadian geography isn't too bad either as a result. Also, yes, I understand that knowing about Canadian houses isn't usually enough to build a life around. I feel I should mention that before some wisenheimer boldly points it out in the comment section.

So Canada...what's it all aboot, eh?


Music Monday: Later with Jools Holland

I've covered music on Jools Holland before, but as it's a weekly show with each series lasting about 5 or 6 shows, it's time to do it again! I dearly love Jools' programme, and ensure I watch it each and every week. An evening of Jools Holland for me revolves around frantic googling of acts, and manic writing on my brother's Facebook wall about them. You have no idea how excited I was to do this MM. Pru, thy name is dork.

Some of the performances are straight from Jools, whereas I had to rely on the bounty of YouTube for some others. Here are some of my favourites from this most recent series.

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed and the True Loves: This Dude is 24, has the most soulful voice you've heard in awhile, and looks straight out of Peggy Sue Got Married.

Take My Love With You

It's Easier


Carolina Chocolate Drops: Amazing, innovative, and again, you won't see anything like this anytime soon.

Hit 'Em Up Style (yes, that Hit 'Em Up Style)

Cornbread and Butterbeans


Little Boots



Hayes Carll: Yet another American (Texas) artist I'd not heard of until the oh-so-British Later with Jools Holland. XPN listeners (TASH), you'll hear Hayes Carll every once in awhile on their playlist.



Eliza Carthy

Two Tears

Like I Care (Wings)


Imelda May

Falling in Love with You Again

Johnny Got a Boom Boom


Camille O'Sullivan

In These Shoes (not as good as the Kirsty MacColl version, but entertaining nonetheless)


Katy Perry - shut up. She's actually not a bad singer, ok? Also, I like her dress.

Waking Up in Vegas



Soon We'll Be Found


And finally, Kings of Leon. Yes, you all know who they are, but I love them and that's that.

Sex on Fire

Here's the playlist, but of course you can't find these songs just anywhere, so I've not been able to find all of the songs referenced above. Sorry.


I think I'm alone now

Last Sunday I had the misfortune of attending an informal dinner party with the women from my antenatal group. I wasn't looking forward to it, but there was a promise of good curry and unfettered conversations about toddlers. It's hard to believe, but I'm up for any extended talk of children, particularly my own. My colleagues have to suffer through my occasional forays into, "Guess what P did today!" territory, so to be in a circle of women whose children I've known since birth for a few hours didn't seem like it would be too painful. Oh, to have a modicum of foresight...

There were 5 other women there, most of whom I like, but on a purely superficial basis. I was good friends with one of the women until I went back to work, but the chasm between my new full-time working life and her (very) part-time working life was apparently too vast. We made very awkward, first date kind of conversation Sunday night. She pretended to notice my weight loss - "You've lost your belly, and you can tell in your bum too!" - which is a complete load of bollocks considering I have a flat ass, not a fat one. I gain weight in my face, stomach, thighs, boobs, pretty much everywhere but my ass. It was all so forced, so trite, something to be said by the mother you pass as you're both dropping your kids off at school, not the woman who helped you through the roughest periods of early parenthood.

The night was miserable not just from the perspective of this lost friendship, but it made me realise why I have so few friends here. It has nothing to do with any great international divide; I'm just not made for idle middle class chit chat. I was sitting at the head of the table, silently soaking in all of the irrelevance - talk of curtains, stain removal, Asian cookery classes. None of that is me. I don't imagine it will ever be.

I want another tattoo (I only have one - not particularly bad ass, I know), I swear sometimes, I listen to loud, obnoxious music, I watch TV, I like to go to movies, I read, I write nonsense here, I lean pretty far to the left, I like to read, I like to talk about art and social issues. My free time is far too precious to me to spend it talking about curtain mold. That shit is BORING. When we get together I feel like they are the adults discussing proper grown-up issues, and I'm the bored teenager slumped in my chair, twisting my gum with my fingers and rolling my eyes skyward at each reference to an issue of suburban drudgery.

I seem to think that bloggers, at least the ones I read, are these wonderful, mythical beasts who somehow manage to avoid turning into suburban parenting bores. I think of them when I'm spending an evening with listless dullards making polite conversation for hours on end, wishing I was in their company talking of interesting things, ie, not mold spores.

So do us fascinating, multi-faceted women exist outside of blogging? If we do, where are we hiding? I live in one of the most densely populated cities in this country, yet the cool women are noticeably absent. Am I too picky? Perhaps I am, and I should instead focus on assembling a cadre of only mildly-boring folk. I think there might be a lot of that ilk to chose from.

I once thought that a place like that big blogging conference whose name I shall not mention lest I betray some kind of anti-slagging-off clause in my advertising contract would be a near-orgasmic experience, dripping in delightful bloggers. I would fall in love, and want to live in an all BlogHer (there, I said it) Xanadu. However, it now just seems to me to be a place where some go to be fawned over, and for others it's a place to fawn. All that ass-kissing, all the high school drama, it just makes me itch and get all stabby. The blogging world is perhaps less boring in parts, but I'm not keen on the politics either.

Based on last week's experience, I have been inspired to sequester myself in our flat until the cool people come and wrench me out. Be forewarned, I'm out the first time someone talks about the best way to get wax crayon residue off the radiator.


Pimp spot: New post on StK. Go forth and comment.


Music Monday on Tuesday: Johnny Cash (again)

P has recently discovered the joys of Cash. We dance to his music courtesy of YouTube, and hence all music we hear when out and about is designated as Johnny Cash. Muzak in a store? "I dancin' to Johnny Cash Mum!" Stomach pounding beats emerging from a passing car? "I yisten to Johnny Cash Mum!" Cash, Cash, all the time. At the moment, in the eyes of P, music is Johnny Cash. I'm inclined to think there isn't anything wrong with that. I'll just sweep under the rug her newfound love for Pink and Katy Perry...

So here we are again, Johnny Cash the focus of this week. Apologies to those who may come here for new music. Be forewarned that I have a Cash covers week planned for...I don't know, sometime. But yes, new music, soon. Pinkie swear.

God's Gonna Cut You Down - Good video, but Kate Moss? Seriously?

Boy Named Sue (live at San Quentin)

Ring of Fire

Folsom Prison Blues

Cocaine Blues

I Still Miss Someone

25 Minutes to Go

I Hung My Head: This is a Sting song. Sting. Weird to me that Fields-of-Gold-Tantric-Sex-God did a song so...grim.

The Man Comes Around: This song was the played at the very beginning of some zombie movie (new-ish "Dawn of the Dead" perhaps?)we saw at the cinema ages ago and I nearly threw up with joy into my popcorn.

I See a Darkness: LOVE this song. Also worth checking out - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's original (that's him on background vocals on the Cash version). So bare, so bloody magnificent.

Mercy Seat: Original by Nick Cave

Long Black Veil (feat Joni Mitchell)

Ok, ok, I'm done with Cash now for at least a month, I promise.


The other side

I will cause much pain with this, yet another political post on this momentous day. It will be sufficiently less melodious and movingly written than most of the others because I have run myself into oblivion tonight and I might just be clinically half dead. I'm not quite sure, but suppose I will know the truth if I wake up tomorrow morning and I'm still alive.

I can confidently say, for the first time in years that I am proud to be an American. I spent much of my evening yesterday being moderately tearful watching the millions of people turning up to vote. My daughter, less impressed by this massive display of civic duty, chose to spend her time putting some of my jewelry into small bags and boxes. In, out, in, out. For an hour. Between moments of slight weeping, I was made to pile on the bling my a very demanding toddler screaming, "No Mummy, you wear it!" It must have been quite a sight - my tear-stained face, mountains of jewelry, and the barking of orders by Tiny Dictator. We know how to celebrate election night here!

I couldn't bear to stay up and watch the results as they came in. We're 5 hours ahead of the East Coast, and I have enough trouble not being a complete bitch in the morning when I get plenty of sleep. The Dude and I huddled around the TV first thing this morning, holding our breath as I hit the power button. My relief was significant, and ever since that time this morning I have been trying to come to grips with the enormity of this event. I have been watching videos all day of the elation and sense of potential which has overtaken not just the USA, but millions of people all over the world.

This is the reason I thought my post-election post would be a bit different to some others. As you likely know, I have lived in the UK for 6 1/2 years. I have never been a great patriot, overwhelmed by the country's conservatism, its appeasement of the religious right, and the close-mindedness that so many of its residents so blatantly display. I know these things won't change for a long time, but with the election of Obama, I at least see that there may be a chance.

At my university, both students and academic members of staff have wanted to talk politics. Upon spotting my "Pennsylvania for Obama" sign a Spanish student said yesterday, "The whole world wants Obama to win I think." Today, when buying a newspaper to commemorate the occasion, the cashier asked me if I was happy that he won. This is without knowing that I was American, proving the level of interest in this election is high, much as the bloody British keep moaning about it getting far too much coverage. The cashier beside her was a Ghanaian student I know, and he grinned and said, "I'm so happy! All of my friends are so happy too!" England - America - Ghana, united in the belief that this is the beginning of a new era.

I am still wandering around in a haze of disbelief. I'm proud of my country for making such a radical and amazing decision which will hopefully change the way the US is perceived internationally. Previous residents of the White House were not concerned with such trifling matters, and the country's residents suffered mightily.

The tears begin again thinking how amazing it is that kids whose grandparents couldn't even legally marry a person outside their own race until the 1960s can now sit with those grandparents in January and watch as a black man is made President of the United States.

I have just watched the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert coverage which only aired here tonight, and commenced with the obligatory election-related crying when Stewart and Colbert teared up announcing that Obama had won. This, an election for god's sake, has brought so many people to tears and outpourings of unadulterated joy, the notion of which is just unbelievable to me. It's inspiring, and if only for a little while so much of the world senses that we are on the cusp of something amazingly transformative.





It is a beautiful day.


Music Monday: Politickin'

In light of the small matter which will be decided this week (gulp), it has been suggested that I make this a Music Monday devoted political/protest/social issue songs. As I can only have this opportunity every 4 years, I may as well make use of it.

My daughter has gotten into the spirit of political activism, having just spontaneously started singing the chorus of James' anti-war song "Hey Ma" to me yesterday - "Hey Ma, the boys in body bags coming home in pieces". Her version is actually, "Hey Ma, duh boys in bobby bads comin' home in Peter", but I know what she means. Concern may be expressed that my 2 year old has fixated on something so gruesome, but since she doesn't know what it all means I'm not really bothered. WAR IS HELL PEOPLE!

James: Hey Ma

John Prine: Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
-Sadly, this song was written in reference to Vietnam, yet somehow here we are again with the song still relevant.

Johnny Cash: Man in Black
-Anyone else get goosebumps listening to this? Just me then?

Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit

The Clash: London Calling

Morrissey: Irish Blood, English Heart

Bob Marley: Get Up, Stand Up

Phil Ochs: I Ain't Marchin' Anymore

System of a Down: Hypnotize

Marvin Gaye: What's Goin' On

Bob Dylan: Times They Are A-Changin'
-Because no list like these is complete without a little Dylan.

Bright Eyes: When the President Talks to God

The Decemberists: Sixteen Military Wives

The Specials: Ghost Town

Black Sabbath: War Pigs

Sam Cooke: A Change is Gonna Come

And to wrap this all up, some good old Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land. I had always perceived this song to be yet another vestige of flag-waving, blindly pro-American propaganda, but apparently Guthrie wrote it in response to the popularity of "God Bless America". It was written in 1940, so things kind of weren't that great in the US at the time with that whole Depression thing and all, and Guthrie found "God Bless America" to be a slap in the face considering what was really going on. Hence, This Land is Your Land.


Fingers crossed for Tuesday. I'm desperately hoping that my kid's constant shouts of "OBAMA!" with accompanying fist pumps won't be all for naught.


Your Friendly Neighbourhood Psychic Pumpkin

Slightly delayed, but Happy Halloween!

P, obviously influenced by the inherent spookiness of the holiday, went with The Dude to visit her Great-Nan to show off her pumpkin costume. Great-Nan lives alone, as her husband, The Dude's grandad, died two years ago. The story goes that P cautiously stepped across the threshold of the flat, looked around, and furrowed her brow. She asked The Dude repeatedly, "Where is he? Where is he? Where has he gone?" The Dude and Great-Nan at this point were a bit confused, and also a bit unnerved when P decided to up the eerie quotient - "I don't know where he has gone. Where is ::insert The Dude's full first name here::?" WHERE IS ::Dude's name again::?" Creepy enough on its own, but she doesn't ever hear The Dude referred to by his full first name, as he goes by a nickname. Always.

I'm a superstitious person, so this would likely have creeped me out for weeks, so I'm glad I wasn't there. The Dude, on the other hand, is the rational type. He has no time for frivolities such as life after death, but even he kept saying how weird the whole situation was. It seems Great-Nan was a bit upset about it and just as uneasy.

Last night, awake on my own, I stupidly watched Paranormal State. I usually find the show hokey and don't bother watching it, but as I'm a glutton for punishment I thought it would be fitting to watch a spooky programme on Halloween night. I went to bed suitably scared, so I really could have done without The Dude waking me up at 3am saying that one of P's musical toys was going off. I didn't want to go in and shut it off, lest P spring from a prone position with red eyes shouting "YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL!" The Dude sorted it out, and managed to leave the Psychic Pumpkin's room with no ill effects.

I'm moderately rational during daylight hours, but paint the sky dark and suddenly legions of the dead are marching through my house. I didn't sleep very well after that. Now that it's daytime again I feel a bit ridiculous, so THANK YOU Paranormal State. I don't care if you are based at my alma matter, stop frightening me. I'm a very delicate flower you know!

Despite having a direct channel to the underworld, the Psychic Pumpkin is really rather cute sometimes.

Because sometimes, even the best Psychic Pumpkin needs to dig for gold in them thar hills.



As those who Twit will know from yesterday's outburst, DUI Dad, ever competitive, has once again decided to imbibe and drive. It's a clever combination really, particularly when one is awaiting trial for the same action from a mere two weeks prior.

My brother got a phone call to say that Dad was in the hospital, though naturally the hospital could not tell C what happened. When he spoke to my Dad, he was still under the influence and couldn't stop apologising. He also couldn't stop apologising to C the first time, all those days ago. C, like me, is getting increasingly fed up.

I was thinking about this situation today on a fairly long walk to a meeting. The sheer clusterfuckedness of it is a bit overwhelming, and as I expressed in my previous DUI Dad post, I don't know where I stand on the issue of a support. This is a man who survived a tour of Vietnam, the unfortunate origin of his life's problems. He has spent the past 40 years trying to overcome those issues with varying success. Formerly a cop, he disappeared with his service pistol about 12-13 years ago. It was all over the news, our unique last name boldly marking his connection to my family. Luckily I was out of high school by that point, but C wasn't. I don't know how much it affected him at the time, but I don't imagine it's the best situation for a 14 year old to be in.

My parents split up after a protracted period of awkward silence and oblique allusions to "meetings" my Dad failed to attend. I forget how old I was, 17 perhaps? My Dad thought the best thing to do was to drop out of our lives completely while he sorted himself out. I supported this decision, more or less, because I thought he was just trying to protect us. In my angry moments, such as the time I ran into him at McDonald's and he blithely asked, "So what are you doing these days - are you in college?", I thought he should be able to put his role as a father before that of a recovering alcoholic, depressed gambling addict. I wanted to be understanding, forgiving, despite his sudden (and eventually quite lengthy) absence from my life. I wanted to be fair even though his addictions led him to drain my college fund completely, stranding me very last minute at a community college when I had planned on going away to school.

In writing this, I wonder why I'm so quick to forgive. Now, as a parent, I can't imagine allowing my personal issues to supercede the well-being as a child. I'm aware that addictions and depression construct an irrational sense of self, but again, when do the excuses stop? When do you have to pull yourself together and get the help that you so obviously require?

I read a post over at Dead Bug's this week that resonated with me to the point that I felt completely raw and exposed. This, this is my fear. The last two paragraphs left me in a teary mess at my desk, and they are having the exact same effect now, re-reading the post. I'm afraid to push him away, because what if he submits to it all? What if, after all these years of fighting back and losing ground in equal measure, he decides that he hasn't the spirit to fight anymore? I am then left with about 16 years of good memories of the Dad I knew then, mixing with the mess that his later life became.

I sometimes struggle to reconcile the two people, as they seem like separate entities entirely. There was the Dad who suffered immensely, but quietly, and there is the one that I have nicknamed DUI Dad to lighten the oppressive tone this sort of subject matter involves. The Dad of my childhood started to dissolve when he left, and re-emerged in the past five years or so as he made a concerted effort to be involved in our lives. Here we find ourselves again, watching the former Dad slip away again.

Not too long ago I posted a Philip Larkin poem entitled "This Be the Verse". At that time I was talking about my influence in my own child's life, wondering if what Larkin said is true:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

I'm consistently worried that I'm not raising P as well as I could be, but I also know that I will never put her in the position that I (and C as well) are in now. It's amazing how quickly you realise what a good parent you are when your own parent is fucked up beyond the point of return. I may pass on to her my love of looking at houses on the internet, or my habit of getting perhaps a bit too emotional in an argument, but she will never have to worry about whether I will drink myself to death, get in an accident which kills innocent people, or go to jail. "They fuck you up" indeed.


Freeze frame

This might just be my lucky year. The Dude told me today that if I complete an official 10K run, he will buy me a pair of Christian Louboutins that I can lick, hump, or otherwise be inappropriate with due to their sheer aesthetic appeal. I feel as if I should run everywhere now just to prepare, because if losing weight is a pleasing side effect of running, the promise of Louboutins is enough to turn me to into a marathon runner. Speaking of running, I have stuck my Nike+ stats in the sidebar. This is not to be a braggart, because if you have a look at it there is nothing to brag about. I am, however, proud that I have come this far and wanted some flair to put up to show it off a bit. Yes, millions of people run much faster and much longer distances, but 15-20K a week isn't too bad for someone who just started running again after a 10+ year draught.

The Dude, made of money and full of philanthropic spirit it seems, has also offered to buy me a camera for Christmas. I have a silly little silver thing which insists upon me putting the flash on for every single photo lest I want it marred with blurryness. It was fine at first, but I'm starting to enjoy my very casual photography and want to enhance the experience. I would love for my photos of P to be less zombie-like, as most of them are beseiged by the washed out harshness of the flash with the added bonus of red eyes. Many of you are amazing photographers, so teach me, oh wise ones. I don't have a massive budget, what with the shoe commitment and all. For the British amongst you, we're talking about £300. Americans, depending on the variable rate of exchange and the cost of material goods over there, maybe about $500. Please, please, save me from the evil of the flash. Don't make my child grow up with red eyes.


There is a new post up at Swallow the Key. Please feel free to comment, as I'm sure Anonymous would appreciate some feedback, even if it is to tell him/her how much it all sucks. Remember, if you want to make your own submissions, email me at swallowthekeyblog at gmail dot com. There are no secret irons in the fire, so give me some blog fodder!


Apropos of nothing, but as suitable an ending for this post as any, I must tell you this P-ism from a couple of weeks ago.

P: scribbling on a newspaper I draw Johnny Cash.

Pausing, contemplating, scribbling some more

P: Oh. He's a snail now.

I frickin' love this kid.


Music Monday: Soundtracks

I've stolen the ideas of others lately for my themes, so this week, I'm going it alone. HOWEVER, I will be relying on audience participation, in a way. You are under no obligation to comment here, as I fully acknowledge that Music Mondays are about absorbing the music, not necessarily discussing it. The theme this week is soundtracks, and because I'm cheesy and also rather curious, I want to know what the soundtrack is to your life. I don't mean that you have to choose a song to go along with specific events, though if you want to, knock yourselves out. If you had a film made about your life, what songs would be on the soundtrack? Note - they do not need to be songs from soundtracks.

I won't bother doing my own version of this, since that's pretty much what every MM is (speaking of MM - whatever happened to MM over at Limbo Party? God, how I loved that woman), so I'll just give you some of my favourite songs from soundtracks.

The Red Violin - I loooooove this film. If you haven't seen it, please rent it, buy it, steal it. Prostitute yourself to gain the funds to purchase it. Whatever. Just do it. While you're at it, buy the soundtrack. Amazing.

Trainspotting - This movie is the 90s for me. Sigh.

Lou Reed: Perfect Day

O Brother Where Art Thou?strong> - Knowing my love for bluegrass and Americana music, you had to know I'd mention this. Also, Coen Brothers? Love.

Ralph Stanley: O Death

Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch: I'll Fly Away

In Good Company - I stayed up and watched this last week as per The Guardian's recommendation, and I do whatever that newspaper tells me to do. Not bad for this genre (romantic dramedy-type), and I was couldn't determine whether I found Topher Grace really hot, or wear-your-scalp-as-a-wig creepy. I'm still pondering this most important issue.

Iron & Wine: Naked As We Came

Pretty in Pink - Sixteen Candles is actually my favourite Hughes film, but this is a fabulous soundtrack. Allow me to take you back...

OMD: If You Leave

Magnolia - A three hour movie with Tom Cruise? I thought it would be a definite recipe for disaster, but I really like Magnolia. I also see it's almost 10 years old. Shit.

Aimee Mann: Save Me

The Sweet Hereafter - an achingly beautiful film which you shouldn't watch if in a delicate emotional state. Certainly worth watching though, especially if you're a Sarah Polley fan like me.

Sarah Polley: Courage (Tragically Hip cover)

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut - This was a struggle for me. Oh, how to decide between "Kyle's Mom's a Big Fat Bitch", "What Would Brian Boitano Do?", and "Blame Canada"? I've gone with "Uncle Fucka", because I sing this song to myself sometimes because it's just so durn catchy.

The Last of the Mohicans - My Mom adores this movie, and will, without a doubt, say something along the lines of, "I love how they show such intimacy without all of that sex and nudity like you see in other movies!" In fact, I might make her watch the DVD when she visits over Christmas just to test this theory. I will report back.

Mom's love of this film aside, it's a good movie with a great soundtrack, and lots of partially clad hot pieces of ass. The last scene (included in the video below) is horrible, but beautifully shot.

Requiem for a Dream - This is such a great movie, but I never want to see it again. I watched it on my own years ago, late at night. When it finished, I sat there staring at the blank TV screen, not quite sure what to do next. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I was depressed for days after I saw this. Days. If you haven't seen it, you should, just have vodka and Prozac at the ready - an endless supply.

Kronos Quartet: Lux Aeterna (you'll probably recognise this from every film trailer made after Requiem was released)

Juno - no commentary needed here. We all know the kerfuffle that resulted from this movie's release last year. Yikes.

Kimya Dawson: So Nice, So Smart

Anyone Else But You: Michael Cera and Ellen Page (because I just love this boy)

Cold Mountain - Because I just can't get away from this old timey music. Also, could someone please just agree with me and confirm how very woefully miscast Nicole Kidman was as Ada? She was dreadful. I think about how much better the movie could have been without her detached, frigid self. HATE.

Cassie Franklin: Lady Margret

Tim Eriksen: I Wish My Baby Was Born

No playlist this week I'm afraid. So tired, so little time, etc etc.

So, with that out of the way, please tell me your own personal soundtrack. You can leave comments here, or you can even do your own whole blog post about it. I've even set up this fancy thing so you can link to your own post here. Hopefully it works. All you need to do is put in your Blog Title where it asks for your name, and the permalink in the second segment, et voila. Well, I assume et voila. We shall see.


Fast as you can

So much for that whole staying-away-from-blogging malarky. I'm actually better today, and thanks for your comments. The Dude bought me flowers yesterday, and also, because he is a high-flyer, had a talk with someone in the university who is going to nose around to see why I wasn't shortlisted for this most recent job. The silver lining, if there is such a thing, is that the head of the department to which I applied is a bitch of epic proportions if The Dude's source is correct. As in, numerous mass exoduses of staff within the past handful of years. Not good. From one bad manager to another, so maybe it's for the better. How very Zen of me. Don't get all excited thinking I'm cured of my malaise by the way, I mustn't get complacent and assume that everything is now butterflies and gooey chocolate cake magnificence. It's a better day, and that's at least a start.

I'm blogging again for a very important reason - a time sensitive one. Kate, a fellow Couch to 5K convert, came up with a marvellous idea that I completely elbowed my way in on. Simply put, awhile back we both said enough was enough and got our lumpy asses moving. We both chose Couch to 5K, and wouldn't you know it, we've stuck with it. Kate is an asthmatic ex-smoker, I'm an ex-ex-athlete and decade-long lazy sod, yet here we are, now running 5Ks numerous times a week. Not too long ago Kate told me about Nike+ipod, which is pretty much the best invention ever next to the banana guard.

Nike+ipod allows you to put a sensor in/on your shoe which communicates to a transmitter plugged into your iPod when you're exercising. It monitors all sorts of magical things - pace, distance, calories burned, time, proximity to unicorns, etc. You then plug in your ipod at home, et voila! Graphs, charts, it's an OCDers dream!

Running blah Couch to 5K blah yadda yadda yadda, I know. HOWEVER, keep paying attention ladies (and a gent or two) because Kate and I are uniting to give away one of these here doohickeys. Neither one of us is independently wealthy or of a particularly philanthropic nature, so we're not buying you an iPod, but one lucky endeavoring soul will have one of these handy contraptions purchased for them. I see Kate has not excluded non-walkers/runners, and said that the gift bestowed upon the winner will be in the form of an Amazon gift card at the estimated value of the nike+ kit and holder. All you need to do is leave a comment here telling me what makes you happy (a relevant theme given the darkest night of the soul stuff going on around here lately). Alternatively, you can leave the same information at Kate's.

This is completely Kate's idea, so all credit must go to her. I thought I'd help her out a bit since I'm feeling the same way about running, at least on the days that I'm not a miseryguts. Yesterday's low point would no doubt have been even lower if I was still the same portly gal I was just 3 months ago. At least running has given me something to be positive about, and I have not been the least bit positive about my body in years. I know how good that feels, and I would love to help someone else find that in themselves again.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot, Kate and I are on a team of 2 on Nike+ which is by invitation only. If you have (or will have!) a nike+ kit, email Kate or leave a comment on her blog for an invite and she'll hook you up. It's just a casual way of inspiring and motivating ourselves, nothing sinister or overpowering. We won't pour a bucket of goat's blood over you if you don't run far enough, unless you want us to of course.

So yes, happiness. Some of you are cheery little buggers, but even the more melancholy amongst you must have some periods of light. What are they? You only have until Friday to tell me, so click through and say something. Anything. Bring back the butterflies and gooey chocolate cake.


I See a Darkness

I've typed and deleted about six paragraphs in the past 25 minutes. I want to write fluidly and coherently about how vacant I feel, but it is all a jumble of silly words and teenage diary calibre histrionics. I'm going to dispense of any and all pretense of clarity and attempts at trying to write properly because I just give up.

I am so tired of my entire body existing in a state of constant tension because I hate my job and hate my godforsaken incompetent shrew of a "boss". I am frustrated that my own organisation doesn't think I'm good enough to succeed in a higher position, but most of all, this just makes me sad. Sad that I have drive, initiative, appropriate professional background, but that it seems to make no difference. I then worry that perhaps I'm not as good as I think I am after all, which is an admission that I'm not quite willing to make.

I hate that I don't ever have an hour's relief from anxiety weighing so heavily on me that I make myself sick. I hate that I can't get anything done, ever, and that any task I complete has been about 6 weeks in the making. I hate the fact that I have made an attempt to be physically fit for the first time in 10 years, yet my overpowering sense of defeat in all aspects of my life has worn me down too much to bother running on most days. I hate how I thought running would be the magic balm to my emotional ills like the doctor told me it would be.

I hate that I am here typing this post instead of spending time with my daughter. As I'm tapping away, she's sitting in her room listening to nursery rhymes and paging through books alone. I'm here because I know if I'm not, I'm probably losing my patience and praying for bedtime.

One of the most humiliating aspects of all of this is one which you'd hope I'd be smart enough to say under the veil of anonymity on Swallow the Key - I rely far too much on blogging to keep me happy. I worry about traffic, I worry about comments, I worry about popularity based on the previous factors, and it's just tragic. I spend so much of my real life masking how I feel, that to have this form of release is addicting. It says far too much about my lack of self-esteem, and I feel as if I should go beat myself with sticks for even making this imaginary world my real one. I have long said that I don't have many female friends because I can't tolerate all of The Drama, yet here I am wallowing in it.

I'm not entirely sure why I've even bothered with all of this. I don't know what anyone can say to make the situation any different. I've thought about stepping out for awhile, release myself from the need for validation through twittering and blogging, but we shall see how (un)successful I am at such an endeavour. I want to tell myself to shut the fuck up already, I can't imagine how you must feel. Ugh, the emotion! The wailing! The hand-wringing!

The drama endeth here.


Music Monday: Covers that Don't Suck

This is a subject I've been thinking about for awhile, but the amazing and divine Tash suggested it during Reader Request time and I was reminded that I'd been intending to do it for ages now.

Covers are everywhere these days, with all the hip indie kids doing covers of silly pop songs, or rappers covering classic country. I'll be narrow-minded here and choose ones that I'm a bit partial to.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night (aka In the Pines / Black Girl): Leadbelly / Nirvana
-I'm not necessarily going to talk about every song I put up here, but I wanted to say something about this song. I first heard the Nirvana version back in the mid 90s when they released their Unplugged album. Though I run very hot and cold with Nirvana, this is one of my favourite songs ever. I'm embarrassed to admit that it's only recently that I discovered that the song was made famous by Lead Belly, not Nirvana. Eek. Interestingly, the song itself dates back to the 1870s, which is funny to me since the lyrics seem perhaps a bit risque for Victorian times. If you're a bit of a history nerd, it's interesting reading. While I'm on this whole nerd trip, I was positively giddy when I stumbled about this archive of 78RPM and cylinder recordings from the 20s/30s. I can see myself spending a lot of time on that site during my Friday night free time. I am too cool for school, me.

Lead Belly:


I Will Survive

Gloria Gaynor:




Ryan Adams:

Real Love

John Lennon:

Regina Spektor:


Rolling Stones:

Cat Power:

The River (apologies if this is sacrilege oh you legion of Springsteen fans)

Bruce Springsteen:

Josh Ritter:

No Surprises


Iron & Wine:

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Neil Young:

Saint Etienne:

Redemption Song

Bob Marley:

Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer:

Across the Universe

The Beatles:

Fiona Apple:

Bizarre Love Triangle

New Order:


Hurt (anyone else wonder why NIN would bother performing this anymore? Also, will there ever be a time that Cash's video won't make me cry?)

Nine Inch Nails:

Johnny Cash:

I could go on and on and on, so clearly this is a subject which will need to be addressed again in the future. Any notable ones that I have missed? If anyone suggests Whitney's "I Will Always Love You", I will come to your house and kick you in the shins. Hard. Very hard.

Playlist as usual. Pop out if you can't see it here.