I Don’t Like Mondays (Tell me why)

Since you’ve been gone, Mondays aren’t much fun anymore.

And today was particularly trying.

One week plus one Monday into my new job and I am certain of two things:

1 – There is a lot to learn/ do and it’s filling my head like crazy.  2 – I CAN do it. If I make it through September (did you get that wonky reference?), I’m sure I can start to really make this job my own.

In one respect I am glad that my time is so completely occupied. It helps me to think less about you, or to hanker after days gone by.  Days that are never coming back. No matter how much I close my eyes and knock my shoes together and repeat a mantra of my heart’s desire.  (That doesn’t work, by the way. Take my advice. Never trust Hollywood). And perhaps by the time I find more of an equilibrium, I will have have moved on sufficiently not to miss you so much.  Oh! Look! A flying pig..!

Maybe tonight I will be granted a full night’s sleep, and maybe tomorrow I will wake up refreshed and buzzing and ready to take on the world. Or maybe the day will be new, but the way I feel will be same old, same old.  Sometimes I think that no matter how much changes, how much gets better, how much is going well… the space that you once occupied will always make me feel empty.

Stay gold.

She Said ‘Yes’ to the Dress(es)

Since you’ve been gone, the weekends are always the hardest.

My efforts to keep myself occupied were massively helped today by a trip to a bridal shop to look for Number 2’s wedding dresses.  This trip had been unbelievably difficult to plan, as it had to work around her shifts and include, and accommodate, nine others.  So today was very much the day and we all descended upon a shop in Camberley, ready to help her find the perfect ones.

Yes. Ones.

As you were aware, Number 2 is having two weddings. One ‘legal’ ceremony; the other very much more ceremonial. The first dress had to be something simple and low key – the second could make a bolder wedding statement.  She had to fall in love with them both, as well as meet the requirements of her mother-in-law to be. I’ll be honest. I was more than a little apprehensive on her behalf.  MiL to be is a lovely person. But she is also has a very big personality and isn’t afraid to say what she thinks.  I just wanted my second daughter to have what she wanted for her wedding.

We started with the second, more dazzling dress and arrived at seven possibilities. Not surprisingly, Number 2 looked beautiful in all of them. Incredibly, there also seemed to be a general consensus amongst all of us and it really wasn’t very hard to whittle it down to two main contenders.  I was so pleased for her when she made her decision, because I know she truly loved the dress she chose. Number 2 has a habit of compromising too much to keep others happy. But I know she didn’t do that with this dress. She is going to be gorgeous, because her natural beauty will be enhanced by the pleasure she will take in wearing it.

It was then the turn of the five bridesmaids – Numbers 1, 2 and 4, plus my youngest niece and the groom’s cousin – to try on some dresses. And yes. They all needed two dresses! As you can imagine, this was a complicated process and could have been impossibly difficult to satisfy them all. But thanks to no one being a diva, plus a genuine shared excitement to help make Number 2’s day, this too was a pleasure to behold. Before long, all the dresses were chosen and everyone was happy.

Dress number two was a much quicker journey.  She tried one. Just one. And that was it. Boom. It was one of those occasions that was just meant to be.

I can’t finish writing this without throwing in an anecdote my own MiL told me about my youngest sister in law’s wedding, some 14 years ago. They were shopping in Shrewsbury a week before it was due to take place, when she realised she hadn’t bought a veil.  She asked a lady in a shop if there were any bria

That Was the Week That Was

Since you’ve been gone, I survived the first week of my new job.

Mind you, it wasn’t easy. It seemed like the more I went to work, the less I got done, and the more I had to do. My to do list for next week is already unachieveable. But I remain hopeful that I will get to the bottom of, and/ or get on top of things, before too many more weeks have gone by.

Still. My colleagues have seemed appreciative of what I did manage to do.  And it’s still a refreshing change to feel wanted and valued. And I wouldn’t trade where I was, for where I am now.  As my mother used to say, I may be green, but I’m not cabbage looking.

I do miss certain elements of my previous life.  I think it will take a long time to completely wean myself off of saying ‘we’ in relation to ‘them’. And even longer to stop missing what once was. In fact, I will always be hankering after the good times.  Always.

Stay gold.

The Animals Came in Two by Two

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve had the first taste of the fullness of life in my new job.

Today, students arrived. Lots of them. In their droves. This was a good sign. Without the students, the school wouldn’t be there and I would be looking for another job! For the most part, they turned up shiny, new, neat, tucked in and eager to reacquaint themselves with their friends and teachers. The brand spanking new building that they have waited three years to see was finally opened to them, and it was really lovely to see their delighted reactions.

There were some exceptions, of course. A handful arrived late and a couple didn’t make it past reception before they were sent home again. (Apparently it’s not a good idea to turn up for school with green hair!) Some didn’t turn up at all and there began the thankless task of contacting parents to ask why they weren’t there. Well, I guess I may as well start as I mean to go on…!

Tomorrow, the final two year groups will have their induction opportunity. It will be nice to welcome them in. I wonder what the Year 7s will make of their first taste of secondary school. I hope they realise how fortunate they are to have such an amazing range of facilities open to them, and that they make the most of the next 5-7 years with us.

Meanwhile, the work I am expected to do increases by the second. Emails and phone calls are coming my way, on top of the work that was already there on day one – and I simply can’t deal with them all. Not just because I have such limited time, but because I don’t know enough to actually do the jobs. I’m still not panicking about this. There is only so much I can do, and they are aware that I’m not going to be able to do things straight away. But my goodness, it frustrates me!

My colleagues continue to be warm and welcoming. And it’s quite good going that at the end of day four, the office manager gave me a hug. This was gratefully recieved, and I’m so glad that these people and I seem to be likeminded. I am also a tactile person. I prefer to be around other tactile people.  I am very hopeful that I will find friends there.

There was rain this afternoon and for the first time in a long while, I noticed the evening came earlier and darker. Perhaps that was partly to do with cloud cover. But as I pulled the curtains, I couldn’t help thinking that Autumn is on its way.  I hesitate to say winter is coming, for all sorts of reasons, but chiefly because I don’t want to be accused of stealing a meme!

Stay gold.

50 Shades of Staggered

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve had the kind of day that leaves you struggling to stay awake through your dinner.

Wow, it’s been busy. An ‘eat you lunch at 3pm in between checking emails’ kind of busy. This is not something that I would want to continue, but these are exceptional times.  So far this week, each day has been busier than the next, and the scary thing is, the students haven’t even started yet! Perhaps though, once it all settles into normality, (ha – whatever that is) the puzzle pieces that make up what I’m supposed to do, and more importantly, how I’m supposed to do it, will start to fall into place.

Tomorrow a staggered induction begins, with each year group coming in at separate times over Thursday and Friday so that they have a chance to get to know the building and be ready for the start of term on Monday.  Note my use of the word ‘staggered’, as I think it will also apply well to myself and my colleagues when it comes to going home at the end of each of those days!

I am still very optimistic. People are so nice and it does feel good to be in an atmosphere of positivity and growth. It makes me realise even more how bad things had got in my previous job. It’s literally like comparing darkness with light. So although everyone is manically busy, there is no accompanying feeling of despair that no matter what you do, it’s all going to end in tears.

One weird thing happened today. As I walked the school corridors to a meeting for which I was running late, I saw someone coming towards me. As I glanced at them, for a full five seconds I thought it was you. Then I realised, with a deepening sense of disappointment, that it was someone else. Of course it wasn’t you. That would have been all kinds of impossible. (Easy to rationalise after the event).  But I suppose it illustrates how much you are on my mind. Even though I am so busy that, in the words of my father, I am like the proverbial fart in a colander, and the available space in my brain has been maxed out like an overused credit card – there is still room and time for you.

Anyway. Although its stupidly early, as soon as I muster the energy into my limbs, I shall be going up to bed. I need to give myself a fighting chance of not only getting through the next couple of days, but actually triumphing over them.

Stay gold.

Much To Do – But Know Nothing

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve had a totally shattering day.

I started to dig down into what my job entails, and having only managed to skim the very top, I can already tell that there is A LOT to do. Either because I don’t yet appreciate the enormity of the task at hand, or I have become so immune to daily piles of rubbish to sift through, but it still feels like a tea party in a park and I’m actually looking forward to getting on and breaking the back of it. Mind you, I have to bear in mind that I am effectively on part time hours now, so I’m not going to manage to do as much in a day as I would expect of myself. It’s going to be a bit of a juggling act with myself, at least at first. And I very much look forward to the day when there is a lot to do and I actually know how to do any of it!

My colleagues seem nice. I hope that in time they will move from being colleagues to friends. I made a small joke (not like me, I know…) at the beginning of a staff training session and it was so well received by one lady that she referenced it again about an hour later. That’s a good sign, right?

However, I am still finding myself having to muster a smile, rather than have it come naturally. So many things are better than they were, and a lot of things are right. But there are some major things that are wrong, and I’m finding it hard to square that circle. Perhaps I just need a little more practice.

Stay gold.

Tears Before Bedtime

Since you’ve been gone, today has been very difficult.

I guess the fact that sleep wasn’t much of a thing last night, set the day off on the wrong foot. But although the sun kept shining, there was no feeling of hope or optimism, and it’s not just me who seems to be in the doldrums.

Number 4 has had a very hard day. She was brave enough to initiate a conversation that was never going to be easy for her – and for which I applaud her. But it has set off a chain of upset and I think most of us in the house will have had tears before bedtime.

Which doesn’t really help the butterflies that have been gathering in my stomach all day long. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I really am. But I’m also not. As usual, I am a catalogue of contradictions. If I live to be 150, I think I will ever be thus.

Ah well. At least I’m honest about it.

Stay gold.

Quiet Domesticity

Since you’ve been gone, I have tried to keep myself busy.

The sunshine has been kind and allowed several loads of washing to be dried. In a fit of efficiency, I then ironed and put away the clean laundry. The house has been cleaned, vacuumed and tidied to within an inch of its life. Funny. I feel a bit like that myself. But it’s all to the good… for a few days, anyway. Until it all needs to be done again. Forth Bridge and painting rings a bell.

Still. The benefits of feeling a little bit in control of something cannot be underestimated.

Number 2 has come home for the weekend. As usual, she has brought with her an abundance of laughter. It’s a tonic to see her.

I watched a very strange, South Korean subtitled programme, with Number 4. One lead character said to another that she was so small, he could fit her in his heart with no difficulty, but was worried that because he was so big, she would be unable to keep him in her heart. I don’t remember the exact words. But they were very poignant, in a bizarre kind of way. The truth is, the heart is a hugely elastic muscle. When you think there couldn’t possibly be room for any more love – boom! – there it is.

Perhaps tonight I will be so tired from the day’s busyness that I will sleep well. Apparently, there’s a first time for everything.

Stay gold.

Change can really hang you up the most

Since you’ve been gone, I have been trying to embrace the positive. Ahead of my start date on Monday, I went to visit my new place of work and moved a few personal things in/ onto my desk. Mostly new items of stationery. And to be honest, any excuse to get new stationery! It’s almost been worth the pain of the last year and moving jobs, just to buy new pens and notebooks. Almost. But probably not quite though, hey. I am beginning to feel ready to face this new challenge. I hope my optimism doesn’t dessert me when my alarm goes off on Monday morning. Time will tell. Despite my confidence, I am still terrified. But I guess fear isn’t always a bad thing.

I spent the rest of the last Friday of the holidays doing things I mostly wanted to do. The sun was shining (a definite bonus) and I went into town, bought some new clothes, ate cake and drank hot chocolate. Tomorrow, of course, I will have to turn my attention back to household jobs. But today was mine.

There was a man in town, busking. He was playing classics like, ‘What a Wonderful World’ and was drawing an appreciative audience. For no other reason than that he was bringing music into my life, he reminded me of you. But it is also true to say that you brought a whole lot of wonderful to my world. It made me feel happy and sad, all at the same time. I guess I’ll have to get used to that.

There is a lot to look forward to and I am very much trying to focus on the future. That’s not so difficult when the days are sunny. But I know that there are clouds gathering on the horizon and at times it will be easy to lose sight of the sun. That’s when my resolve will be truly tested.

Change can really hang you up the most. I hope you will forgive me for stealing and, ironically, changing that phrase. To continue the song title thievery, I suppose it’s time to follow David Bowie’s advice. ‘Ch ch ch ch changes… turn and face the strange…’

Stay gold.

What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)?

They say that when you’re happy, you enjoy the music, but when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics. On this occasion, they, whoever ‘they’ are, are right.

There’s something really powerful about music and the connection it makes with our innermost beings. For me, nothing comes closer to echoing the cries of my heart than country music. I’m not talking about the modern pop that masquerades as country, but the classic artists, such as Merle Haggard, George Jones and Kris Kristofferson. Perhaps they’re not quite so fashionable as once they were, but as far as I’m concerned, ‘three chords and the truth’ will always resonate with me and never go out of style.

My heart is breaking right now, and nothing articulates my anguish better than my favourite country songs.

Consider some of the lyrics of:

‘What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)?’ By Merle Haggard
I can make it for a day or two without you
And maybe I can make it through the night
I can smoke I can drink and probably be alright until morning
But what am I gonna do with the rest of my life?

‘Looking For a Place to Fall Apart’. By Merle Haggard
Looking for a place to fall apart
Trying to find a place that I can leave my heart
I need to be somewhere hiding when I feel the teardrops start
Looking for a place to fall apart.

‘He Stopped Loving Her Today.’ By George Jones
He said “I’ll love you till I die”, she told him “You’ll forget in time”
As the years went slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind
He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again
Kept some letters by his bed, dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red, every single “I love you”
I went to see him just today, oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today.

‘For the Good Times.’ Kris Kristofferson
Don’t look so sad
I know it’s over
But life goes on
And this old world will keep on turning
Let’s just be glad
We had some time to spend together
There’s no need to watch the bridges
That were burning
Lay your head upon my pillow
Hold your warm and tender body
Close to mine
Hear the whisper of the rain drops
Blowing soft against the window
And make believe you love me
One more time
For the good times.

I could go on and on. There are so many of them. And each of them speaks to me like an old friend who knows every single thought, good or bad, and yet still loves me unconditionally.

The music doesn’t make my pain go away. Just now, I don’t believe the aching will ever stop. The best I can hope for is that I will learn to live with it. But what it does do is to remind me that I am not unusual – I am not alone. While I will never have the gift of words and music that these musicians were blessed with, I can share in their interpretation of what it is to be a human at their most fragile. And more than that, the music gives me permission to grieve.