The children are out with their grandparents, but it's taken me so long to downgrade our house from Hair-Pit Of Hell to just General Health Hazard that I don't have much time left for writing (besides which the sieve inside my skull has leaked much of what I was trying to collect in there during the week. It's actually very sad living like this. I don't so much mind being permanently confused as to the day of the week, but forgetting everything else leaves me with only reactions and feelings, and I wasn't short on those anyway. I feel like an idiot).
1. After reading Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things a little while ago, I realised I really like Agony Aunts; at least ones like her. When I try to think of how best to describe Cheryl Strayed, I just come up with 'cool', which isn't overly enlightening. I guess what I mean is that she's authentic and kind and strong, and on the side of fairness and love and self-belief and all of that good stuff that we all need in our lives. She hasn't had an easy life, and she's been privy to some really hard lives, but she's come through the darkest times with this grace that I appreciate, and an extra sense; the kind of grace where she is patient and merciful, and a sense which makes me feel as if things that look opaque to others are translucent or even transparent to her. And she swears, lots. I found myself challenging things about the way I think and feel and approach things while I read the book, and realised how many excuses I accept from myself instead of really growing, just because it's easy, or, even worse, because of my worm. Right now I'm reading Anne Lamott's journal of the first year of her son's life, Operating Instructions, and she talks about this worm inside her which feeds on bad stuff - hearing gossip, or unfortunate things that have happened to people she doesn't much like (or kind of likes), and that type of thing, and how it gets stronger when she feeds it. I have one of those worms. She also quotes one of her friends, who says her mind is a bad neighbourhood, which she shouldn't go into alone. I'm afraid my mind is a bit like that too. The worm and the bad neighbourhood mean that I keep things that make me unhappy in there, so that I can go in and feel bad sometimes - bad and isolated. I used to do it much more than I do now, and use those things to get angry at people, one in particular, and myself, but now, when I venture in there, I just use them to feel bad about myself. It's strange, when I consciously try to work through my issues, and improve myself, to realise/admit that I've been squirrelling these things away to hurt myself with - I don't know if a person who doesn't do that type of thing can understand it. But I don't want to do that anymore; at least, I don't think I do. Either way, I don't think a person with a baby should indulge that type of self-destructive behaviour. So I'm trying to face those things, beginning with admitting what I'm doing when I go to that bad neighbourhood alone. It is kind of a shameful thing; like hate-looking at people's facebook profiles, and it will take some work. But anyway, it was Tiny Beautiful Things that started this new wave of trying to make myself better and healthier, and now I have a love for Cheryl Strayed, and a new appreciation for Real Agony Aunts. They have something to say to all of us, whether or not we identify with the person asking for help. I recently found a new one called Ask Polly, which I also like (so far); that was really what 1. was supposed to be; just - read this. Jeez, it's no wonder every conversation I have with anyone about anything takes a long time.
2. I had a smear test last week, and it was great, so now I'm telling everyone I know to make sure they're up to date, and that if they haven't been so great in the past, that there are some things they can ask for to make them better, which are: i) you don't have to lie on your back! It's just as easy for the person taking it for you to lie on your side and curl up in the foetal position. If you still do it on your back, like I did, you still know you had a choice! ii) you can insert the speculum yourself! This was so great; the nurse just lubricated it, and I got to put it in, which was much better than lying back and waiting. The nurse pointed out that it's much less likely to be painful that way, because if it starts to hurt you can just stop and adjust. Also, doing it myself meant I didn't feel like I was just having something done to me - big difference. iii) a bit of conversation first! My nurse and I talked and laughed for ages (so long, in fact, that a half hour appointment ended up being an hour and a half; we're both talkers) so I was all comfortable when pants off time came around. One of the things we talked about was smear tests, how people feel about them, and her own experiences of them, which also helped immensely. Final notes: a) speculums are now plastic, and not those awful metal contraptions. b) nurses are better than doctors when it comes to things like smears. They just are. c) if you feel weird because you have thrush or something, just say it. They don't care.
(It's now hours since the little woman and furry man came back; they haven't run away with their grandparents, in case you were worried.)
3. So as I said, I'm reading Operating Instructions. I might be being hard on it, I dunno, because although I'm enjoying it and finding it helpful, I don't feel like I'm completely on Anne's team yet. (Wondering if it's the font used? Hoping it's not the Christianity...) Anyway, I'm particularly enjoying the bits where she has had a bad night or a bad day, and says things like the baby's no good. (And not because of my worm. I might not fully be on her team yet, but I still want Anne to win.) Sometimes, when Maybellene is making those loud "IIIIIIIIII" noises in her sleep, and rooting around for my nipple and then immediately pulling off (which doesn't always hurt, but after just having put her back on for the tenth time in as many minutes, is very, very annoying), I really really want to put her outside the door, close it, put a pillow over my head, and go back to sleep. Sometimes I would like to throw her on the floor. The thing is, I don't actually want to do either of those things, or any of the other things I occasionally think might be preferable to what's happening, and I never would. But it helps to say it, and to feel like that's okay. Anne makes me feel like not only am I not horrible, I am normal, or, at least, not alone. Even if it's just the two of us, I am not the only one who thinks mean thoughts about my baby sometimes. I was talking about it with Vincent's Mum and Dad this morning, and we all agreed that we wish people would be more open about these things. Because yesterday, during the bit at SPACE (our play-group thing; I believe it's an acronym but I have no idea what it stands for) when we go around and say what kind of week we've had etc, I said sometimes I would like to throw M on the floor, and nobody agreed. A couple of people laughed, but most had these weird expressions like "did you just say that?", and I couldn't tell if it was the saying it that was the weird thing, or the feeling it (similar reaction last term when I described my pulled-on nipples as telescopes), and I felt... I'm not sure. When I told him later, Vincent said disappointed, and I think that's it. Maybe the others don't ever feel that way (although when I was talking to my friend a little later, she brought it up and said "yes!"); it's possible, and if not, then whatever. But if they do sometimes feel that way, their reactions seem kind of mean, and counter-productive, We all know how judgemental people are towards parents, but the group is a safe place where we can be honest, and where we must be honest. I suppose it's a good reminder that if we want authenticity, we have to make people feel safe, and, I guess, be willing to put it out there first. Like that episode of Newlyweds, when Jessica Simpson and Nick's friends' mean wives were going to a day spa, and Jessica said something about getting her moustache waxed, and the others were all like "huh, I don't need that, ugh, etc" about it. She was very embarrassed, but my sister and I both decided then that idiotic statements aside, she was all right.
4. Best comment on instagram in the last month: [to James K. Lowe, boyfriend of Lorde] "When you hold Lorde's hand, hold it tight. You are holding my life in your hand." I fucking love adolescent girls (I'm not being sarcastic and dismissive, by the way). I fucking love them.
5. Summer reading. Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please!, has just come out, as has Lena Dunham's Not That Kind Of Girl (to much more fanfare). I still haven't read Bossypants, so that's going in there too. It feels really good to be thinking about summer reading, as if that's the most pressing thing in my life. I've been watching this video a bit, and imagining what M's first summer is going to look like, and the imagining is making me nostalgic already, and very glad it hasn't begun and I am still having to dress her in several layers of wool before going out walking. It's also making me wish I didn't drink so much milo/eat so much chocolate/do all the things Gemma Ward doesn't and not do all then things Gemma does so that I might look a little more like this when summer comes... I guess I'll just focus on my baby, and hope everyone in our vicinity does the same. (Also, I know it's gross that this is advertising, and I've long thought Country Road's adult clothes are not very well-made, but I have to admit that many of my favourite things of M's, including the little chambray romper I bought her for summer and can't wait to see on her with nothing else underneath it but a nappy, are from Country Road. They do really nice kids' stuff! Okay, sorry. It's not like our summer is going to look anything like this, anyway. We are not Country Road people. I just like stuff that has new mothers and their babies in it, okay! And yes, I might have thought about what this one-piece might look like on my bum, but it's not like I'm actually going to get it! Sheesh.)