Buckeroo – 2015 in review

IMG_4021It’s been a hell of a year.

Normally, I’d talk about work, and books, and finishing Ecko – but this year, it’s all kinda just been lost. I put my flat on the market in March, lost my Mother in April. I’ve been fighting the hissing nest of red tape that is a Lease Extension since February, not helped by an atrociously inefficient Property Management company who couldn’t find their arse with instructions. It’s been a year of hospitals, phone calls, letters, administration, Estate Agents, Solicitors, house cleaning, house viewings, accountants, funeral directors, more phone calls, endless paperwork, even more Solicitors and occasional bouts of ‘I can’t fucking do this’.

It’s also been the year in which I’ve had to edit/finish Ecko, be there for my (very upset) son and continue to go to work every day. And all of that is without getting into the stress and grief of losing someone close – and coping with the fallout. I haven’t written anything about my Mother, and I still don’t know if I can, or if I will.

IMG_3680There have been times, this year, when I’ve felt like the donkey in the kids’ game of Buckeroo – with stuff piling on me and piling on me and piling on me, waiting for the point at which I freak out and throw things because I can’t take it anymore.

But you can’t freak out – the jobs have to be done, and you have to do them. And that’s all there is to it.

Lace up your big girl boots, and quit whining.

Three things have got me though this year. One is the single sagest piece of advice I have ever heard – ‘You eat an elephant one bite at a time’. Even if you’re overwhelmed, take it one day at a time, one job at a time, and it will be okay. You’ll get mighty fucking sick of the taste of elephant… but there will come a day when you realise he’s nothing but a skeleton and a bad-taste umbrella holder, and that you can see the light again.

P1050473The second thing has been the boyfriend. I know I’ve said this before, but Jon’s strength and capability have been something I have set my back against. He’s been there for me – not only dropping everything to come after Mum died, standing tall beside me at her funeral, but fixing the house and doing the garden and painting the windows, tirelessly working so the property could be viewed and sold. And not only the practical stuff, but the being there. Sometimes, someone just making you tea is the best thing in the world.

P1050468The third thing has been a promise: that we would end a year of darkness with Christmas in the light. I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona and marvel at the mad Gaudi artwork – it’s been a little gleam at the end of the tunnel, something to work towards. And we’ve wandered the sunlit Spanish streets, appreciating the city’s warmth and welcome and laziness, enjoying far too much wine and far too much cheese, indulging ourselves in pavement cafes and gloriously bonkers architecture, all the time remarking how London suddenly seems so dirty and aggressive. We’ve done the sights as well – jaw-dropped at La Sagrada Familia, looked for treasure at La Baceloneta, explored the heights of Park Guell and the depths of Las Ramblas… sometimes, these are the things that keep you sane.

ScaryNext year, the long-anticipated change finally comes: the housemove is imminent, now, and January may well be a bit of a scrabble. But that’s okay, I’m SO looking forward to the new start and having all of this finally over. To new working hours, to Isaac going to High School and to, appropriately enough, a whole new manuscript and world.

Moving out of your comfortzone is a bloody scary thing.

But sometimes, it’s just necessary.



Anxiety and Writing

anxiety1Anxiety is a funny thing.

Sickness in your stomach, reasonless and unnameable.  Agitation in your blood, burning from the inside out; that constant undercurrent of adrenaline that you can neither focus nor master. That relentless feeling of tension – like there is something over you, or behind you, or something you haven’t done, or some confrontation you’re anticipating…

And that exasperating, hovering sense of inadequacy, buzzing at you flylike – that, really, you’re better than this and you should get a fucking grip.

Exercise helps, then at least the adrenaline is useful for something, Walking brings focus and clarity of mind, running allows you to channel your tension into the release-high of endorphins – enables your body to function and it should and – amazing! – the nameless deamons of your fear are gone in the steam of breath and sweat.

Alcohol helps, bringing contentment and that glorious warm glow of actual weariness – it lures you with sweet relief and the empty promise of a good night’s sleep. But that way madness lies; it’s the ‘easy way out’ and the exit point is nowhere you need to be.

There are pharmaceutical options, offered by Doctor or friend, some legal and some not, all enticing for the offer of quiet they bring. But though they will not wake you in the small hours of the morning as booze will, just to taunt you with how they’ve cheated you, they will lull you into a semi-permanent doze, a somnolence that blurs your life to apathy and soft focus.

And that comes with a price – an inability to write. Words need passion, and their absence is not a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

And yet.

In the words themselves there’s relief. It’s not the exultant ‘fuck you’ offered by maniacal exercise, it’s not the comfortable seduction offered by alcohol or drugs. It’s a third option, a clean option, a route to somewhere outside – it’s as though a door opens to a new place – a place you know and that you’re familiar with, a place you can relax and be at ease with the world around you.

A place where you’re in control, perhaps.

I’ve written almost all my life; in the times where I forgot how, I missed it like a friend.

This is the first time I’ve ever realised why.