Saturday, 31 March 2012

Herman the Friendship Cake

Yesterday I was given 'Herman' - a friendship cake. This ritual supposedly originated from the Amish people, passing sourbread dough to the needy or sick. The sensation has swept across continents over decades and has become a sort of chain-letter.

Herman came with this instructions "You cannot put me in the fridge or I will die. If I stop bubbling, I am dead." The idea is to keep Herman 'alive' in a bowl for ten days, feeding him on day four and nine with flour and sugar. On the tenth day he is to be split into four portions. Three of these are to be given away to friends or family and you can either cook the fourth portion or simply start the cycle again.

What an odd concept... Personification of a cake.

I feel a strange responsibility for this bowl of goo. What if I kill him?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

That's It, I'm Done

It has happened. The camel's back has been broken. I got so angry at work today. Not angry at my boss, my colleagues or the stupid people that keep calling me (ok so they might have been a big part of it) but angry at myself. I have spent almost a year complaining and complaining about my work. I am sick of hearing myself - I feel so sorry for my friends and family, having to put up with it, like a broken record.

Why has it taken me so long? Why have I waited all this time, knowing in my heart of hearts that this is not where I want to be? WHY?! What am I scared of? I should be excited, not fearful of change. What could possibly be worse than this job?

I received a text from a friend after a mini rant this afternoon. She told me I can't sit and act like a victim in this situation. She is so right. I am not a victim. I put myself in this situation and I must get myself out.

I was in a bad state when I left work today, nearly two hours late, having slammed the phone down on a department head, burst into tears and stormed out. So I walked four miles home, turned on my laptop and I have applied for eight jobs so far. Even some obscure ones such as cabin attendant on the Isle of Wight Ferry! Why not? It's better paid!

Enough talk of change. Talk is cheap.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Fridge Door

One thing that creates a crack in the locked door of my creative mind is magnetic poetry. It has provided much-needed inspiration, even if it leads to nothing more than a few lines of... anything.

My fridge stands next to my kitchen window. I can spend hours standing or sitting in front of it. It must seem very strange to onlookers, a girl (usually in her pajamas) staring intently at a kitchen appliance.

Hundreds of little magnets to move around to make 'poetry'. It is a great creative exercise. I make space on the door, stand back and look. I don't look for anything, I just look. Soon random words will start to stand out and I will attempt to use these as a basis for something.

My Dad came around once and read a poem I had assembled, about war. He always complains that my writing is too dark - why can't I write about happy things? I tried to explain to him that I don't have a choice. If inspiration strikes, no matter what the subject, I have to grasp it before it disappears.

I keep all my pieces on another blog: and I will sometimes revisit them to see if anything will evolve...

I can hope.

Friday, 23 March 2012


I narrate my life with music. I can't write music, or sing, but I find inspiration for life through the music of others. I have a playlist on my ipod simply called 'Life'.

I like to find a song that describes my day or the way I want my day to be. I listen to Iron Maiden when I'm angry, Coldplay when I'm thinking too much, Latin music when I want to smile and a bit of Tim Minchin if I want to laugh.

I lost my ipod.


All I can hear now is the rattling of the bus and a girl arguing with her boyfriend. How do people do it? How do they spend their lives walking around without music? A piece of music can instantly turn a day around.

As Pratchett says: "nothing is louder than the end of a song that's always been there"

When I feel brave I switch iPod to 'shuffle' and it is astounding the sheer variety of music I own - from metal to country, from classical to hip hop, and everything in between.

I have lost the soundtrack to my life. My mind is now too free to roam. I have nothing to shut out the thinking, or the colourful language of the chavs on public transport. I feel utterly lost, yet curious. Could this somehow give me new insight into life? With nothing to shut out the world will I now take more notice? We shall see.

My song for the day? Overkill by Colin Hay - one of my favourite 'life' songs.

Which song best describes your day?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


The thought occurred to me at my salsa class this evening that, for years I have been the youngest at the salsa club, and now there are girls the best part of a decade younger than me, they are not as shy as I am and they can move in ways I cannot. I am jealous and I do not like it.

I have occasional moments when I realise I am not 18 any more. I am 26. When will this sink in? Over a quarter of a century. I need to sort myself out. The old line "I'm not getting any younger" is starting to play a lot on my mind. Some of my friends are married and contemplating children. That blows my mind.

I am stuck in a stop-gap, desperately searching for a direction. A direction away from a desk would be preferable. Every problem I have stems from that desk and sometimes I just want to slap myself for returning to it day after soul-destroying day. One day, hopefully not far down the line, I will have a job I love. There must be one out there somewhere...

At the end of March I can apply for financial funding for an Open University Course in Humanities starting in September. I am incredibly excited. To have something to occupy and expand my mind will be fantastic, and to have a degree would be a dream come true.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Pencil to paper. Surely that's all you need to be a writer? But even the act of making that connection now feels alien to me. I had no idea as a child just innocently putting ideas down on paper would come to anything - writing so hard I couldn't get it all down.

I wasn't a writer then. Children can't be labelled as 'writers' - they just have a delightfully active imagination. Just like a child who can play the piano is not a pianist, just a child who can play an instrument. At what point do we attach labels to talents? When do hobbies become something more? When do they become a part of who we are, not just what we (think we can) do?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

More to Prove

I was filling in a job application with the help of my boss (yes he is trying to get rid of me) and we reached the 'Additional Information' section. My boss said with a smile, "if they can't prove you are lying, you can say anything" - an interesting concept but where to draw the line?!

I am an Excel Specialist. Fact. I build and maintain spreadsheets. Fact. I spent 3 months in Kenya working with orphans... sort of fact... it was actually six weeks and I visited the orphans a few times... There is bending the truth and then there is out-and-out lying.

Does the same apply to life? If people cannot prove you false, can you be anyone you want to be? Can you build a persona then change your life to fit that persona? If that is possible who would I want to be?

I am not talking about claiming to have invented the microwave or self-adhesive stamps. That would just be silly.

A friend and I were in a bar when a girl came over to make conversation and asked what we do for a living. I instinctively said "writer". I am not a writer. At least not now. If it is not currently true, why did it come so naturally?

Because a writer is what I am, not what I do. I must keep telling myself that.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


The time has come to make a concerted effort to find a new job. The universe has been poking me for months and it's time for me to poke back. But I hate filling in applications. "Why do you want this job?" "Because I hate my current job, I am smarter than my entire department put together and I deserve something better."

While this is true, strangely, I am not sure this approach will work.

I need something stimulating. Something challenging. What I do not need is to be a scapegoat for other peoples mistakes, or an in-tray for stray pieces of work.

The funny thing is, I love monotony. I love data-entry, archiving, filing... all the things 'normal' people find horribly dull. I think I should be paid more for doing things no one else enjoys. Like crime-scene clean-ups. They get paid lots. Not that I am comparing archiving with cleaning up after dead people, although, if a lot of books are written by dead people...

I digress.

I am even thinking of applying to Waterstones or some such establishment. Bearing in mind I am probably earning about the same as a sales assistant at least I would be somewhere interesting and I would get to play with booooooks! The perfect place to embrace my bibliophilia (I love that word!)

Thursday, 1 March 2012


I used to read all the time. More so when I caught the train - that 20 minute journey to work granted me 20 blissful minutes with my nose in a book. I went through a stage of perhaps two books a week!

No longer.

In 2008, at the age of 20 I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy (the temporal lobe is responsible for comprehension, verbal memory and other language functions) but the fact that it had gone undiagnosed for so long (ignoring the symptoms) meant the medication actually had more of a negative effect than the condition itself. Memory-loss was a major set-back. And verbal communication became an effort.

One thing that disturbed me was the loss of spelling and grammar. I realise that sounds ridiculous but, for someone to whom words are everything; from having a such a wide vocabulary as a writer, to not knowing how to spell words such as 'ridiculous' was devastating. I felt stupid and this upset me greatly.

I have become a slow reader. I can read entire pages without absorbing any information and I forget things almost immediately. I have read my favourite book, Birdsong at least 3 times but I can't tell you the names of any of the characters. I now also lack concentration. I have started so many books on my extensive bookshelf but I have not had the focus to complete any of them.

It makes life hard sometimes, but I do realise that compared to some people with epilepsy I am so incredibly lucky. I must keep reminding myself!