Sunday, 28 September 2014

13 years

My thoughts when I came home from work a couple of Tuesdays ago were fairly commonplace. I had stood on the corner of the road, talking to a colleague for a while, our gossiping not complete from a full 8 hours or so at work. I tried to remember what we were supposed to be having for dinner that night. I knew I still had to unpack my bag from our long weekend in France. We had returned home at 6pm the night before and I hadn't been able to be bothered to do the unpacking, deciding to postpone it to another day to remain relaxed and stress-free.

In the thoughts of dinner and unpacking and anything else that might have been running through my head there were no thoughts at all about what was actually going to happen when I walked in the door. That I would be faced with a boyfriend with his bags already packed telling me he was leaving me.

He was gone less than 15 minutes later.

Here we are 12 days later and I have only just now even scratched the surface of being able to write down what my feelings are.

Everyone talks about the shock that you experience when something like this happens. What no-one tells you about is how long the shock continues for. 12 days later and I am still in shock. For a while I didn't know it was shock, I just thought that I had composed myself remarkably well.

The day after it had happened, after 3 hours sleep, I was up at 5am to go to London for work. I got up and got dressed and sat on a train and got caught up in tube closures and had to queue for 45 minutes for a taxi and attended the conference and networked and then shut myself in a toilet cubicle and cried all through lunch. I attended the rest of the conference and had to run like the clappers to catch the tube and my train. 

The second I set foot on the train home at 7pm I started crying again. I cried the 2.5 hours it takes to get from London St Pancras to East Midlands Parkway. Not great, heaving sobs, just an outpouring of tears from my eyes, the tide of which I couldn't stem.

I went to work the next day and I went to work the next and I have continued to go to work over the last 12 days, I haven't had one day off.

I talked to friends and family about what had happened. 

He came and picked up all his belongings from the flat. 

At various points over the last 12 days I have cried and I have cried and I have cried and I have cried but if you'd asked me, I couldn't have identified one emotion that I was feeling. I knew I should be angry. I knew that I should be bereft. I knew that I should be confused. But I didn't feel anything. It is a very strange situation to be in to know that you should have feelings but not be able to actually vocalise what they are.

It turns out that I was in shock.

I have worried that people must think that I am heartless. "How can she possibly have come to work every single day for the past two weeks?" they must have thought. "How is she not sat at her desk constantly crying? How is she still managing to laugh and joke with us?" My answer is that I don't know. I really don't know. 

What they don't know is that every morning I have woken up after a shocking night's sleep (7 hours is the most I've got by a long shot in any one night in the past 12 days) and not wanted to get out of bed at all. They don't know that at about 5.15pm I go to the toilet and lock the door and take deep breaths and cry a little bit because I don't want to go home at all. I don't want to go back to the flat that was my sanctuary which turned into a place of betrayal.

They don't know that I have been walking around for 12 days wondering why everyone is carrying on as normal. People are doing their weekly shop in Tesco. People are sat in pubs drinking. People are sat in meetings at work. And in every one of these situations I have literally had to stop myself from screaming. And I mean literally. I have had to take deep breaths in the salad aisle to stop myself from shouting "How can you act as if everything is normal, when the world has just ended?

Weekly work project update calls where people have asked me "And what are you working on?" and I have had to stop myself from saying, "Well, I've actually been working on forcing myself to eat something other than one slice of toast a day and shrivelling up into a ball and rocking in a corner. As for anything else, I really couldn't give a shit, because it turns out that nothing actually matters any more."

I don't know how everything else can be normal when my life has been turned so upside down. Isn't there some kind of butterfly effect? Isn't the ripple of this expanding out in ever decreasing circles to those around me? How can you be stood in the queue to get your Starbucks this morning when I could barely summon the energy to put clothes on?

For 13 years he has been in my life. For about 9 of those he has been one of my closest friends and for the past 4 he has been my best friend. My one and only and my Person. A lot has happened over the past four years - the long distance, his parents breaking up, my redundancy and ensuing unemployment, the crappy jobs we both hated, moving apart, trying to build new lives in a new town. A lot of turmoil has taken place, but the one constant throughout it all, my one security in life, was us. His love for me was one of the only things I was sure about. I don't have a lot of faith in anything or anyone, but us? Us I had faith in. He is the only person I've ever imagined when I have dared to look into the future.

To suddenly discover that not only is that security no longer there, but that it was a mirage is enough to send you in to shock.

You see whilst I was merrily picturing a future with us together, he was imagining a way to make sure there was no future with us together.

When we were out the week before he left and a friend said to us "We were just talking about you guys and saying that you are basically the same person, you are so well suited" - I was basking in the glow of the compliment whilst he was...who even knows what he was thinking. 

When I was sat planning the shopping for next week's dinners. He was sat buying furniture for his new flat.

Yes. You read that right. Before allowing me into the secret that he was leaving, he made sure he was set up. When he left, he already had his flat and had been sat about 10 foot away from me buying furniture for his new place. When we went to France for the long weekend he was sat there with my Dad, knowing that he was about to leave that man's daughter. When I sat there talking about plans for maybe coming out next year, he sat there, agreeing, making plans with me, knowing that his furniture from Argos was already on order and the rental checks were being completed on his new place.

You think that you have questions? You should be inside my brain. 

As the shock has worn off I have realised that I have been cheated of a proper ending. You can't end 13 years in less than 15 minutes. You can't say "I don't feel the same way any more" and think that that is a sufficient explanation. I am also going to have to come to terms with the fact that these questions will never be answered. Someone that was so cowardly as to not have the conversation in the first place is not going to dignify me with a proper explanation.

I know that I have to move on. It is what it is and there's nothing that can be done about it now. I know that it's better that I know now and not even later down the line. I know that I'm better off without him and that I can do better. I know that worse things happen at sea and that I should be grateful I still have my health and a job. 

I know that there's only so long that I can continue to be shaken to the core by this. That sooner or later everyone else will move on and no-one will feel obliged to feel concern for me. No-one will ask me "How are you?" with that look of pity in their eyes. I know that time is running out to come to terms with this because the longer that it goes on, the harder it will become to get over. 

I tried to cleanse the flat of every piece of him. But apart from a stack of empty photo frames and a new lamp on the desk that was once his, I have been unable to move any further. The rails on his side of the wardrobe remain bare and the drawers that contained his clothes are still empty. 

In a way the stuff was easy to erase, much harder to erase are the memories. I have tried to make myself feel better by delving back into my mind to bring up happy memories, but he taints all of them with his presence. I hate that he was part of watching my best friend get married and I hate that he is intrinsically linked with Manchester, my favourite place in the whole world.

I was supposed to finally get my fairy tale. I was supposed to be with the person that I had known for years. The person that had stuck around even when we weren't together, waiting for me. The person who had pursued me and tried to win me back. I was supposed to get the person that was the extension of me. Because we really were the same person. That friend who said that to us the week before the world ended is not the first person to have said that. I think the one comfort I can take in all of this is that in the past 12 days anyone and everyone that I have spoken to has been completely shocked. Those that have known him from 13 years ago and those that have known him in the past year, they have been as shocked as I am. The phrase "I can't believe it" has become as commonplace to me now as "Good Morning" is.

I have always tried, and I think succeeded, to make sure that I remained my own person no matter what relationship I have been in. I have been proud of my independence and I actually think that is the reason that I have not completely lost it in the past 12 days. But no matter how much I have been sure who I am, I don't know who I am in relation to anything other than him. He was my anchor and the point around which most things revolved. I can't feel sorry about that, I don't think you can be together for any length of time and not have that happen. I was still capable of being my own person and going and doing my own things without him, but it never once occurred to me that I would go and do those things and not come back to him.

The main issue that I have to come to terms with is is that after 13 years of knowing him, I didn't really know him at all.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

On Four Corners and Mexican Hats l America 2014; Part 3

Oh yeah, remember when I went to America in March and then totally forgot to blog about it? Allow me to try to rectify matters for you...

Feel free to read Part 1 here (it's got a plane journey from hell and baseball in it you know) and Part 2 here (it's got pictures of Monument Valley in it you know).

If you don't fancy re-reading back then allow me to refresh you: 

We flew to Phoenix, Arizona, spent a couple of days acclimatizing with American Girl & Boy, got a car, drove to Monument Valley, spent the night at The View Hotel. In a nutshell...


The next leg of our American road trip was one of the biggest in terms of distance covered. When I tell you the reason why you may think that I possibly have mental problems but hear me out…

When we were first planning our Grand American Road Trip I had spoken to American Girl about my determination to go to Monument Valley. She suggested that as we were up that way we could take a visit to Four Corners.

“I beg your pardon? What the hell is a Four Corners?”

When I found out that this is the only place in the US where you can stand in four states at the same time it was on the list. In stone. We were going to do it.

Even when I then looked at the logistics and realised that we were going to have to drive quite a way out and then come back on ourselves I was insistent that I wanted to go. The Person wasn’t that keen but I wasn’t backing down - I’d included the Grand Canyon on our road trip for him (I already saw it back in 2008) so I needed Four Corners.


If you look at the map you can see how ridiculous my plan was, but hell, I was the one that was doing all the driving so I was driving us there.

(Do you love my map? It’s so hilariously awful isn’t it? I just went mad in Paint. I can only apologise. I’m sure my award for most aesthetically pleasing blog is going to drop in my lap any day now…)

This was actually my favourite day driving. On the way from Monument Valley to Four Corners the roads were empty. And I mean empty. Remember the pictures of the roads from my last post? Just those roads with no-one else in sight. It was weird. But actually quite nice. I turned the music up and drove along without a care in the world, making sure I didn’t think about what would happen if anything did go wrong on an eerily deserted Highway in the middle of nowhere. For the rest of my life Settle, the album from Disclosure will remind me of this particular day's driving.

We did make a brief stop off on the side of the road not too far out of Monument Valley. Having seen signs for a town called Mexican Hat we spouted various theories as to why it might be called that. Turns out they have a rock formation that looks like….a Mexican Hat.

Too good.

But mostly it was mile after mile after mile after mile of open and clear road. It’s easy to zone out on those lonely America highways - they are so straight and empty that all you have to do is set your course and plough straight ahead. The scenery was overwhelming - it’s hard to explain how something so vast and empty can simultaneously leave you spellbound. I suppose it was just that it was so different to anything I’ve seen before. The UK just doesn’t have the space for those kinds of vistas and although views of rolling hills and fields are beautiful in their own way, they are on a completely different level to what I could see out of my window as I drove along through Utah/Colorado.

Four Corners is.....Well.....

Ok, it’s a little underwhelming. The monument is there with the flags of all four states flying in their respective corners and surrounding that there are lots of stalls for local traders. We found out after we got back that allegedly you can buy weed in the Colorado corner as it is legal to buy it in that State. Unfortunately I can't confirm that for you.

The good thing about going out of season meant we virtually had the place to ourselves so we could lie on the monument, crawl over the monument, put small stuffed animals on the monument - anything that we pleased. 

Hanging out and being super cool on the Four Corners monument. That's a crocheted mouse on my lap. I don't want to talk about it...

To me it was worth going just to say we’d been there - and for the simple pleasure that driving there meant that I had technically driven through 4 states.

Touristed out (and yes, yes I did buy a Four Corners tshirt and it is my favourite and I love it) it was back in the car to basically head back exactly the same way that we had just come for two hours…

This was much less fun than on the way out and I was definitely starting to getting tired - the windows went down and the hypnotic music went off and The Person was woken up to keep me company until we got to something resembling civilisation which turned out to be Bluff, Utah.

I swear I’m not making these place names up.

Bluff is a road with some houses, a petrol station, a post office, and most importantly, somewhere to have a lovely cup of tea. It suited me perfectly and we spent an hour there drinking tea, writing postcards, using the much loved wifi and starting to feel a bit more human again.

Restocked on drinks and crisps we were back on the road to our final destination, Page, Arizona.

The drive was relatively drama free, we found our hotel for the evening without any fuss whatsoever, and took note of the slightly alarming number of churches that are very neatly lined up one after the other on the road into Page. I think we counted 8 in total - all different denominations, all different churches, all in a line. It was…..different.

It was kind of an odd place, looking at the signs almost felt like I’d stepped back in time, I’m sure the Travelodge opposite to our hotel had old branding. But I don’t know if I’m just making it up, I look at this picture and I just absolutely love it, I don’t know if it was the light or what, but it just makes me smile. I know. Of all the things I took pictures of on this trip a photo of a hotel sign is one of my favourites. I’m quite the artiste.

We took a little wander about but opted to have dinner at the easiest place we could find, right opposite the hotel. I don’t know if it was the altitude (Page is 1,255m above sea level compared to my home town’s 144m) or tiredness for the driving but I got pretty wrecked on a minimal amount of alcohol. It was brilliant.

(This reminds me, I will one day tell you a story involving me and altitude which will probably make you cry with laughter but will almost certainly make you think less of me. I’ll get around to writing it down one day…)

In hindsight we could have not gone to Four Corners, had a much more laidback drive to Page and had more time to hang around there but then I wouldn’t have been able to say I’d driven in four states, you know?

What on earth were we in Page for?

I'll try and not leave it another five months before blogging about it...

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Not Really Resolutions 2014 l Update

1. Read 12 Classics

Still going well on this one and certainly better than I did in 2013. I've got a good mix in here of 'classic' Classics and more modern "are they really Classics?" Classics.

I guess I've relaxed my rules a little bit as the years have gone on with this not really resolution. Before I wouldn't have read anything that didn't have Penguin Classics written on it anywhere but now I'll whack it in there if it's just a well known one. I don't know if Murder on the Orient Express can count as a Classic - but it's famous so I've added it in.

I do enjoy this challenge but I think that next year there may be a modification...

2. Eat 1 vegetarian meal per week

I am trying guys, I really swear I am. I think the trouble here is just lack of inspiration. Every vegetarian recipe that I look at just makes me go....bleh. At the moment of posting we are 35/36 weeks into the year and I have completed 30 veggie meals.

There was a point where I thought this was going to be much worse so I'm feeling ok about it.

Please please please feel free to hit me up with your veggie recipes. Just as long as they don't involve carrots, sweet potato or anything in that ilk - The Person isn't a fan and I'm not up for making massive meals just for myself. I've also found that the vegetarian meals that I tend to like the look of also seem to involve outrageous amounts of cheese.

Spinach & Mushroom lasagne

Another thing I've found is that it is wicked hard to photograph veggie meals in a way that makes them look good and not like random piles of veggie mush.

3. Do 1 interesting thing each month

January - Trip to London including getting to see Chloe
February - Trip to Leicester to meet up with Janet
March - America baby!
April - FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley to see Hull City beat Sheffield United
May - Trip to the London Pet Show (where I totally met Chris Packham!) and a rainy Bank Holiday outing to a reservoir
June - Picnic at the Castle with The Person and a trip up to see North Yorkshire and see Heather that I still haven't blogged about yet.
July - The Color Run in Manchester at the Etihad Stadium and a VERY exciting trip that I haven't had a chance to blog about yet.
August - Well. I did nothing. But that's because I spent most of it laid up with sciatica. But one quiet month is ok by me.

4. Save up to buy a car

This one is going well. We should have a car by the end of October - squee!

5. Finish my Tetris blanket

Not a Tetris Blanket

It's just neeeeeeeever going to happen is it? I don't feel too bad about it, it's not like I've been sitting on my behind doing knack all. I've crocheted 23 animals this year and I've managed to make another blanket (which I still need to blog about). I don't think that's bad going. But next year I'm definitely going to become a bit more selfish.

6. Learn something new

Still working on this one...

7. Sell something at a craft fair

I don't think this one is going to happen (see Point 5). What I need to do is take time out to build up stock before I can think about craft fairs. Definitely one to think about next year though - I'm going to have a little practice at Christmas time with crocheting a job lot of pieces up. What I really need to think about is what I might need as stock.

8. Beat my 10k time

Oh dear. Oh very dear dear. The Hull 10k was awful and terrible but I really pulled myself up by my bootstraps to get a shift on. I secretly signed up to another 10k at the end of August and my training was going really really well. I managed 6km running without stopping and was feeling so so confident. And then - hello sciatica. I was barely able to walk, let alone run, for all of August so the 10km went un-run and now I have nothing to sign up for as we're entering the winter months.

More to the point, being unable to run has meant I've got out of the habit of running and now I haven't run in over a month and can't find the motivation to start again...

Next year though. I need to beat those Hull 10k demons!


4 more months to go!

(Last update here)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

11 things

What better way to try and get back into the swing of blogging than by doing one of those "Tell us stuff about yourself?" Janet tagged me in the Liebster thingy and it spurred me on to try and get myself back in the game.

I'm supposed to write 11 things about myself, answer the 11 questions set and then pose 11 questions of my own.

That was all too much for my addled brain, so I'm going to answer Janet's questions and then we'll call it done - ok? By answering the 11 questions I'm basically telling you 11 things about myself, so by my reckoning I'm 2/3s of the way there and that's majority.


1. Why did you start blogging?

I was in my MSc year at the University of Manchester and discovered MSN Spaces. I think my cousin had one and I’d clicked on to it when I talking to her on MSN Messenger one day - I thought - “Cool, I can write stuff on here!” and set about. I don’t think even I knew what the purpose was. I just liked writing and always have. There wasn’t the blogosphere as you knew it back then!

2. What post are you most proud of?

I’m proud of any of the posts where I’ve really said what I feel. I’ll be honest they’re few and far between because it’s hard to put something out there that’s particularly personal - especially when there are some people from ‘real life’ who read my blog - but they’re always the ones I feel best about and they’re usually the ones that receive the most interesting comments. I really appreciate the time that people take to write comments on those posts because thought-provoking posts mean that people have to have a little think about what they write, that means a lot.

Particular posts I'm proud of are: 
The one who moves away (it got me in more trouble than I can even go into - but I stand by it. And one day I'll tell you why)

3. What’s your favourite thing about blogging?  And a least favourite?

It’s the thing that everyone says - it’s the people! Since moving to my current location I haven’t been able to make any friends here. There are people that I get on with, don’t get me wrong, but no ‘friendships’ if you get me. The people I count as friends are the people I talk to every day either via blogging or on Twitter.

I love that moment of discovering a new blog and thinking “Oh my god I like that TOO!” and realising that there are other people doing the same kind of things as you.

My least favourite? The other thing that everyone says. Blogging aint what it used to be and more and more I find it harder and harder to come across blogs that I immediately connect with because they’re either the same as every. other. blog. Or they’re so full of sponsored content that I don’t feel like I actually really “know” the person behind the blog. There has to be an element of personal stuff on there for me to want to be bothered to read.

4. What’s your favourite kind of sweet? And least favourite?

I always hit up the purples and the reds. Poor yellows and greens, they always get left ‘til last don’t they? I feel bad for them because actually I’m a citrus lover.

Although I have recently realised that Janet & I have the same problem when it comes to sweets in that I have to eat them like this…

…or else my brain goes funny.

5. What’s your favourite flower?

I love an Alstroemeria me. They’re not usually massive expensive. You can usually get some colourful ones. And they last. for. ages. Only problem is that they have a name which I can’t spell...

6. Did you have a favourite dressing up outfit as a child?

As an adult I hate fancy dress and all that it means but as a kid I loved wearing an old bridesmaid’s dress of my sister’s. It was from the early 80s so was full on. Light blue, chiffony, puffy sleeves and an actual hoop in it. I used to wear it and pretend to be a bride. One time me and 2 friends got dressed up - I wore the dress, my friend wore a vampire cape which made her the vicar and my other friend wore one of my Mum’s fur coats and was mother of the bride. I don’t even know what we did about a Groom. Probably used my cat...

7. Zayn or Harry?
You see I don’t want to like Harry because it’s so obvious and because I imagine he’s quite the rogue but damn him he does have a lovely face. Definitely not Zayn. Actually I like another one but I don’t know his name...

8. What was your best holiday and why?

This is where I say “I really need to finish blogging about my trip to America in March 2014”, a sentence which I’m pretty sure I’ve put in every blog post since April. But it was amazing. It was an experience and a half. I loved going to Corfu last year and it was a brilliant lazing on the beach holiday but our America trip will take some beating.

I think the reason why I loved it so much was that it was the first holiday I’ve been on where I felt like a grown up on holiday. I know that sounds ridiculous but I haven’t had a summer holiday away (apart from a trip to the US in 2008) since I was a teenager. This was the first  ‘big’ holiday I’ve been on where we did some major travelling by ourselves and had to do a lot of planning.

And obviously just the places that we got to go and the sights we saw, as well as being topped by watching my best friend get married - that has to make it the best holiday!

9. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

It would have to be the US. I’m not really up for learning any new languages and I’m definitely not up for being somewhere remote where not a lot is happening, so I’d need to be in a city in America somewhere. I would say Arizona given that that is where American Girl & Boy reside  but I know the heat in summer would kill me dead so  I’m guessing I need to go for somewhere like San Diego which is still vaguely near but isn’t going to cause me to perspire to death.

But the thought of no NHS, lack of annual leave and the chance of getting shot by some random kind of freaks me out.

10. What’s your favourite Christmas tradition?

Christmas Eve. Bath with Lush bathbomb. New pyjamas. Boom. Basically ALL I am interested in at Christmas.

11. Do you have a nickname?

Not anymore really. Family call me Beedlebum - the origins of which are too complicated and potentially too boring to explain. It’s one of those stories that just don’t make sense, you know?

I got nicknamed out at school - all manner of variations on my last name and the ever so wonderful Teen Wolf. A result of being an extraordinarily hairy child. Aren’t kids nice?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


So first of all there was a massive worksplosion.

This is what I call it when there is so much work it is basically coming out of your eyeballs and ears and nose and it makes a massive mess of everything, everywhere.

Then in the midst of my worksplosion I woke up in the early hours of the morning in excruciating pain in my left leg. The pain of which was unreal. So bad that I thought I might have a DVT in my leg the pain was so reminiscent of my pulmonary embolism. A trip to the Drs first thing diagnosed me with sciatica.

Take my advice. You don’t want it.

For the next 3 weeks there was a seriously small amount of time that I wasn’t either in huge amounts of pain or high as a kite on Tramadol.

I didn’t take any time off work, which in hindsight I think was a mistake. I think it prolonged how long I suffered for when I should have just been chilling out at home and the simple fact was that being at work meant that was the only thing I could focus on. That meant I could not focus on cooking, cleaning, being productive, generally being a nice person. I just didn’t have the brain capacity.

I have serious respect for anyone suffering from chronic pain. It literally changes your personality. You cannot be yourself when part of your mind is engaged with working out how you can chop your leg off without actually chopping your leg off.

After several visits to an Osteopath and huge numbers of various painkillers the pain eventually disappeared. Who knows if it would have gone away by itself anyway - it might have done and I would be about £200 better off but at the time I would have done anything to make the pain go away.

So yeah. No blogging happened. And then I was out of the habit of blogging and there was so much that I wanted to blog about that writing a list was actually making the whole experience feel more overwhelming. So I just tried to forget about it for a little bit.

What I have been doing in the meantime can be boiled down to two quite simple things.


and crochet.

That’s it.

So, you know, you haven’t missed much.