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mercredi 13 avril 2016

Gratitude, schmatitude

I've often been told, when feeling particularly down and desperate, that the best thing to do is to make a list of all I'm grateful for, and then, once that's done, I'll somehow realise that my life isn't the crapfest I believe it to be.

I'm not the world's most adventurous person, but this is a task I probably can do, so here we go.

THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR

1. I have 2 daughters I'm inordinately proud of and whom I love with every molecule of my being.
2. My elder daughter is on course to get her Brevet (national diploma taken by all French kids at the end of middle school) with a good grade and has been accepted at the high school she wants for next year.
3. I have 2 cats that I adore.
4. Living in the south of France is most definitely a good thing.
5. I guess I'm in reasonably good health.

THINGS THAT NEVERTHELESS SHOW THAT MY LIFE REALLY IS A CRAPFEST

1. I essentially have no relationship at all with one of my daughters - I feel that if there were actual conflict it might even be better. As it is, we're civil to each other, even reasonably friendly, but she clearly feels no desire to ever spend time with me, so I probably spend less than 10 minutes with her in a week.
2. My other daughter has so many issues that I can't help but feel I'm at least a little responsible. She has chronic insomnia (she's nearly 12 but is rarely asleep before midnight), she has very deep separation anxiety, she's a hoarder, she's very volatile, very insecure...
3. My professional life has essentially ground to a total halt. I've yet to translate 40,000 words in 2016, whereas that used to be my average monthly target (one I reached repeatedly, and exceeded often). I've contacted former clients but have been given different reasons from each of them as to why they no longer work with me - I'm too expensive (I doubt that very much), I don't have the right "profile", they found someone who could provide more services, they found someone with more specialist experience, they found someone quicker, etc.
4. As a result, money is my main worry, occupying my thoughts pretty much all day, every day. If things don't look up significantly in the immediate future, I will have literally € 0 in my savings account, and € 0 in my current account by the end of June. I'll have paid off most of my remaining debt, but will be totally destitute.
5. I hate being so poor, having to think hard before spending even € 0.10. I don't go out, I don't buy things, I don't do anything. It's hard to have to tell L. that no, I can't buy her X right now... I need work, and income, so badly it hurts.
6. My health is probably OK, but I don't have the money to go to the doctor (yes, it's refunded but I still have to pay out first as none of my doctors seems to be equipped with the thingy that pays them directly). I have a number of aches and pains that are becoming chronic, but I can't do anything about them right now.
7. My flat is an embarrassment to me, to the extent that I feel unable to invite anyone here, ever. The furniture is old, mismatched, poor quality and neglected. The décor is a disaster, the kitchen is wretched, the bathroom is horrible, there's stuff everywhere, including bicycles in the sitting room. I hate it, I hate feeling so much of a loser.
8. I'm too embarrassed to ask my dad for money again - he gave me almost € 10,000 at the end of last year, all of which will have gone by the end of June, paying off the various debts accumulated when someone else was appointed to take care of my affairs and made a total mess of it (he did sort out a few things, but totally ignored stuff like VAT, income tax, mortgage repayments, obligatory social contributions etc., leaving me with more than € 30,000 of debt when I got control of my life back 2 years ago). It is now almost all paid off, and there's only another 9 months to go on my mortgage, but if there's no money coming in, I'm still going to end up screwed. And there isn't a bank in France that will give me a loan. Asking my dad is a painful thought - I know he'd help me out, but I also know it would bring me even further down in his opinion of me (already not great), and I don't think I can face that...
9. My relationship with Y is somewhat less than ideal. We seem to irritate each other a great deal at the moment, and our differences seem to be becoming more obvious. We still get on most of the time, but it's a source of dissatisfaction for me and I have the feeling that the fact that we are both incredibly stressed (though about totally different things, of course) really isn't helping.
10. My life is really not much more than an existence. I don't have the means to go places, do things, visit things, eat out, whatever. I rarely leave the house, when I do, I rarely go further than school, L's circus school, etc. I know less about the region I live in than people who've lived here just a few months. It's frustrating, and utterly depressing in the end - I live in a beautiful region, but take no advantage of it.

Hey what do you know? Just 5 things in the "grateful" list, and 10 in the "crapfest" list...

This year can go suck it.

vendredi 25 mars 2016

Frozen

To quote a well-known song,

"My soul is spiralling in frozen fractals all around".

And of course, I'm finding it hugely difficult to just "let it go"...

Things are, once again, dire.

My combined "wealth" (if you can call it that), meaning my current account plus my savings account plus the money owed to me by clients who haven't yet paid for past work comes to the princely sum of (at most) €7,000. That doesn't sound particularly dire, until you realise that:

a) I have done virtually no work whatsoever for several weeks and have none on the horizon;
b) in addition to all the standard stuff I have to pay out every month (which already comes to around €1,500), I have to pay an extra €1,100 every month till June for my retirement fund debt from 2014-2015, plus €1,300 to pay in 3 weeks for my retirement fund for the first half of 2016;
c) if you add all that up, you'll figure out that I'm solvent till about the end of April, and then... the void.

My stress levels are through the roof. I have started trying to find work, but the three former clients I've contacted have been no help whatsoever: the first said they'd found someone cheaper, the second said they'd found someone more expensive but in a bigger structure, and the third said they "just preferred the other person's profile". I can't really draw any serious conclusions from that.

I've reached out to translators' fora and work exchange sites, but that's going to take time to bear fruit. I've started working on my website, but that's also a work-in-progress that's unlikely to bear fruit for a while. I've even applied for a salaried position I don't particularly want, just to see if anyone even considers me employable.

So that's the professional crap.

On the personal side, L is still struggling mightily with life in general. She's developping severe insomnia, she's refusing to have any contact whatsoever with her father (and so is living exclusively with me) and totally ignores the existence of her sister. If L crosses paths with either of them, there will be insults, shouting and (in the end) tears. It's hideous. Despite all this, she's doing pretty well at school, with her class teacher even telling us that she's "perfect"... It's like there are two versions of her - the one at school and the one not at school.

The result of all this is that C is ignoring me. I sometimes see her in the street on her way to or from school - I say "hello", she says "hello" back, and that's about it. I'm pretty sure she would rather have nothing to do with me at all. As it is, I probably spend less than 5 minutes a week with her.

To be honest, as distressing as all this is, my every waking moment is consumed with worry about money. I even dream about it.

I am so very, very tired of all this. I feel totally trapped. I am trying to be active, to kick-start things, but I hate phoning people, hate begging for work - even more so given that the three contacts I did make all gave a different reason for no longer wanting to work with me.

So, yeah. I really do feel that my soul (what's left of it) is spiralling (down, down, down) and that there are frozen fractals all around me.

So far, 2016 can just suck it, to be honest.

dimanche 7 février 2016

New month, new post

It will almost certainly come as no surprise to anyone to learn that I'm feeling singularly overwhelmed, stressed, scared, whatever.

Crappy bits of administrative guff that really do need to be taken care of, but that just aren't being taken care of at all;

Crappy life situations that really do need to be dealt with, but that just aren't being dealt with at all;

[Interlude: can you see a pattern forming here?]

Crappy health and hygiene situations that really do need to be looked into, but that just aren't being looked into at all;

You get the picture.

My sweet little L is going through a spectacularly rough time. There are endless, endless arguments between her and her sister, her and D, her and both of them. She's refused to sleep at D's place since Tuesday and claims she "never wants to go back there". *sigh*

She very clearly needs help - help of a professional kind, I mean - but any mention of such a thing and she goes ballistic. So things just stay as they are. She has "behaviours" that aren't acceptable, she gets punished at school, she gets punished by D, she's at permanent war with C...

There's only with me that she seems to find some kind of tranquillity, except for the fact that she's a chronic insomniac and is frequently still awake at 1 am, even on school nights... Even when I try and make sure she's in bed by 9.30 pm...

I'm lost, struggling, trying to do my best and, as ever, pretty much failing.

The only highlight in this cloud of darkness is that I've booked a week's holiday for me and the girls in August in Naples. If the girls don't fight all the time, it should be quite a good holiday - there are lots of lovely things to visit, in Naples itself, plus Pompei and Herculaneum of course, plus Vesuvius, the Isle of Capri... I'm really looking forward to it, even though it's months and months away...

Other than that, my life is just a steady stream of same old, same old.

Debt, not enough work, crappy living habits when Y isn't here (as he isn't now - he flew to Latvia on 24 January and won't be back till the end of this month), stress, worry about the girls, worry in general, insomnia, bla, bla, bla.

I feel like a record that just gets played over and over again, no year being any noticeably different from any other, just mild degress of change in the level of terribleness.

pffff

lundi 25 janvier 2016

New Year's questionnaire

The New Year's Questionnaire

Total radio-blog silence since July... Possibly a new record!

Anyway. Let's see how things stand. What kind of year was 2015 in the Magic27 house?

I feel kind of obliged to admit that 2015 was, without doubt, a better year than the previous...euh...6. That doesn't, of course, mean that it was a good year, just a better one. But progress is progress; let's hope 2015 was just the start of a decidedly upward trend!

Thanks again to Linda for this...

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?

I'm really not sure about this one. I have no idea. So, probably nothing I suppose...

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn't really make any resolutions last year. As a result, I'll probably try and think up something vaguely attainable for 2012 (say, eating less crap or going to bed earlier) and hope I fare better

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No. But my lovely upstairs neighbour is due to do so in March this year...

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

England, Italy and Scotland.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

This never seems to change, from one year to the next: a better financial situation. But I'm going to add to that a second thing: a better relationship with my 14-year-old daughter, C. Because that area of my life is a disaster!

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

I'm getting the impression that 2015 was a fairly bland year - there aren't any dates that jump out at me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Staying financially afloat, staying out of a psychiatric establishment.

9. What was your biggest failure?

By far, my relationship with C.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Horrible allergies as usual, starting in late January and lasting till around June (a record), plus the usual psychiatric problems, but thankfully nothing else.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Nothing in particular, but buying a new dress always fills me with a ridiculous amount of joy...

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Can't think of anyone in particular.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

No one in particular that I know in real life. In CelebWorld, I'd have to say Donald Trump.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Paying off my debts (that never changes), paying all the official crap I have to pay and...pretty dresses probably!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I really don't think I have the ability to get wildly excited about anything... I was moderately excited at the prospect of going to Rome.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

Mostly songs L listens to - Taylor Swift's Blank Space is one I certainly seemed to hear about a million times a day!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? About the same.

b) thinner or fatter? Thinner (because I went cold turkey on all the medication the shrink prescribes (he still prescribes because I haven't dared tell him) and thus don't take anything at all any more).

c) richer or poorer? About the same.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Travel, laugh, feel happy.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Worry.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

The girls and I travelled to see my dad in Scotland. We arrived late on 22 December and came home on 30December. It went OK, though my relationship with my dad is a bit strained. It also rained a LOT, which meant we didn't leave the house very much...

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

No. I'm still with Y, but (and I've never said this "out loud" before) it's not love. Not on my side, anyway.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I enjoyed Better Call Saul, and (for some inexplicable reason) I love watching the French equivalent of Bake Off, called Le Meilleur Pâtissier.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

There were several times during the year in which I hated my ex, D, but it would be unfair to say it was true all year.

24. What was the best book you read?

I enjoyed Grady Hendrix's Satan Loves You. It was deliciously irreverent and very funny!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I am definitely too old to be making musical "discoveries"!

26. What did you want and get?

I asked for Adele's new CD, 25, and got that from my dad, and I asked for a couple of books (the latest Asterix album and the latest Largo Winch album) and got both of them from Lydie.

27. What did you want and not get?

Jewellery from my favourite jeweller here in Montpellier - I left hints, even said it out loud, but no one listened...

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don't think I saw a single film at the cinema this year that wasn't a kids' film...

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 46 (God help me) in May. To be honest, I can't really remember much about it. It was a little tense because C was here and so was Y, and they barely speak to each other.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less financial stress.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Hardly a fashion concept, but I do like wearing dresses...

32. What kept you sane?

My private, secret, only-exists-in-my-head world.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Pat Monahan - still. Plus Johnny Depp, as always.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I find politics in general depressing. But the presidential campaign in the US, and in particular the Republican primaries, are worse than anything...

35. Who did you miss?

An unfortunate incident with my friend J in 2014 (an incident involving L, revealing her many "issues"), plus a lot of difficult situations in J's own life, have meant that J and I have had almost no contact, and that breaks my heart...

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I joined a group of English-speaking women back in 2014, and many of them are great and have become friends. In 2015, I met one in particular with whom I feel a real connection: we have a lot of things in common! So yes, R is the best new person I met in 2015.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015

That I really do need to make an effort to leave my comfort zone (i.e. my sofa) and get out there, amongst (carefully selected) people...

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Same as every year: it's from Train's early hit, "Meet Virginia":

"She pulls her hair back as she screams, "I don't really want to live this life!"

So there you have it. A slightly more positive review than in recent years, but there's still an awful lot that could be improved. Do I dare to hope that 2016 will continue in this upward vein?!

lundi 13 juillet 2015

15

Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of you and can't believe how beautiful you are... Your long, blond hair "swishes" in that special way that mine never will, your blue, blue eyes sparkle as the sunlight of summer catches them. Your long, tanned legs still have that baby giraffe look to them, but I can see the hints of the lovely young woman you will soon be.

I see you with your friends, giggling as you all pore over someone's latest post on Facebook or whatever it is that you girls find so funny. Your laughter blends with theirs, like a symphony of carefree fun...

I see the joy in your eyes as you discover your "mention très bien" for the "Brevet des collèges", your first taste of an actual, national exam, and my heart swells with pride.

I hear you talking excitedly down the phone about the high school you will start attending in September, your plans for the summer, the boys you have crushes on, the music you like, the cute dress you just bought in the sales, the nail art you just did on your toes...

I watch you happily playing Uno with your sisters, content to go back to being a little girl for just a short while.

I see you gently touch your beloved teddy bear every night before you go to sleep, even though you no longer hold him close to you as you used to.

I try to imagine what the future will bring, what paths you will choose, what decisions you will make.

Yes, sometimes I catch a glimpse of you and realise that the tiny, tiny baby born 15 years ago today is no longer a little girl. You are gradually transforming into a beautiful, beautiful butterfly, unfurling your silky, colourful wings, preparing to take flight for the first time.

I know that this lovely girl I see is an illusion, a mirage; I know that you exist only in a parallel universe, one where the day you were born wasn't also the day you died. I know that you were never officially given a name or a burial. I know that your time here with us was so short that most people never get the chance to catch sight of you as I do.

But I see you everywhere, and I always will. I love you with all my heart, you are my very sweetest angel.

And that is why, my darling Eva, I wish you the very happiest of 15th birthdays. May all your dreams come true.

dimanche 14 juin 2015

Reading matter

Break out the Muscat de Rivesaltes, guys, this is my own, personal book club. There's no set topic. Oh... wait. Maybe there is...

First up: a happy little pairing:
Lionel Shriver's "We need to talk about Kevin"
Jodi Piccoult's "19 minutes"
Both of these are about screwed up, psychologically damaged teenagers who go on a murderous rampage around their high schools. Hmm. Comedies, then.

Second; a couple more Jodi Piccoult novels:
My sister's keeper - another happy story of terminal illness in a child, designer babies, moral dilemma and death.
The pact - a cheerful tale of teenage suicide.
There's obviously a high giggle factor here, too.

Finally: a selection (free choice, people) of Michael Connelly or Jonathan Kellerman thrillers.
These involve brutal murders, criminal psychology and the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles.

So maybe there is a theme after all.

I swear, people, I've been on the muscat since I took C. back to her dad's and am slowly falling apart.

All these joyous books about death and the dark side of life have helped me come to the shocking (to me, anyway) realisation that I cannot possibly allow myself to commit suicide, however appealing it might seem, because I can't bear the thought of what it would do to C and L. Yet, at the same time, the thought of having to live like this for the rest of my miserable life fills me with such despair that I think I'll implode.

I truly don't know what to do.

Somebody. Anybody. Please.

Help me.

jeudi 11 juin 2015

Probably not a good sign...

...2 posts in as many hours.

But.

I can't stop crying. I've been binge-watching TV and DVDs since I took the girls home at 7 this evening: I cried at a Stéphane Plaza house-hunting show. I cried at Grey's Anatomy. I've cried through several episodes of Glee.

This is most definitely not a good sign.