Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Since you’ve been gone, sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself.

Old habits die hard. (No – this is not another sequel to that famous Bruce Willis franchise. Although, I CAN actually picture myself in a torn vest, crawling through an air conditioning system in an attempt to subvert my own inadequacies… but already I am digressing….). I’ll start again. Old habits die hard. Especially when you don’t want them to die at all. Especially when you actually loved them, thank you very much. Especially when they brought more joy to your day than a Friday feeling, a huge bar of chocolate and an England rugby win combined.

It’s hard for my head to convince my heart that everything’s going be OK, or even, for that matter, the other way around. In fact, no one’s convincing anyone of anything. It’s like trying to catch the breeze in your hand, or finding the end of the rainbow (which, incidentally, I heard the other day was actually impossible, because rainbows are actually circular, but we only ever see the ‘top arch’ of them. I know. It blows your mind, doesn’t it). I can’t do it.

So I try to put my mind (such as it is) to other things. And for a little while, it kind of works. I keep busy. I get jobs done. I interact with my immediate world. But there’s like an invisible string – or more accurately, piece of elastic – that keeps bringing me back to the same place. And the familiar ache of loss and longing washes over me once more.

They say that nostalgia’s not what it used to be, but I don’t know about that, because it’s alive and kicking down here in Loserville.

Ah well. I guess the only thing to do is to keep moving. The end of the rainbow might not exist, but it must still be possible to get ‘over’ the rainbow, and I should never give up hope of cutting the invisible ties, and finding my way forward.

Stay gold.

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.

A Whole New World

Since you’ve been gone, my world has changed.

This morning, I left the house for work, and instead of turning right and heading for my car, I turned left and walked down the drive way and out onto the street. I then had a very pleasant 15 minute walk to work, enjoying the freshness of the new day. It felt so good not to have to plough my way through the commuter traffic. No more stopping/ starting/ queueing/ getting stuck behind trucks – and bonus points for actually doing something that’s not only a necessity, but good for me.

The day passed in a blur of meetings, introductions and logging into new systems. For the most part, it all went very smoothly, but having had a glimpse of what my job will be and the very alien management information software I will have to work with, I know that there are a great many challenges ahead. It would be wonderful to fast forward six months, to a time where I pretty much know who everyone is and have got my head around what I’m supposed to do. Having said that, I am very grateful to have moved on six months from where I was. You know that patience is not my greatest virtue, but I am thankful to be here and not there.

Today I felt welcomed and wanted. One of the governors came into the office and introduced herself to one of my new colleagues and me. When she heard my name, she said, ‘Ah! We’ve been waiting for you!’, and went on to list several meetings that had taken place over the summer where my name was mentioned with eager anticipation. I only hope I can live up to the image they have already painted of me. We both know I’m more prone to disappointing people than getting things right.

All things considered, it wasn’t a bad day. A few more like this and I might start to feel human again.

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.