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vendredi 2 janvier 2015

New Year's questionnaire, the return

New Year

The New Year's Questionnaire

Instead of an actual update, I'm going to (once again) do this New Year's questionnaire.

In short, for those of you not reading my woefully irregular posts, 2014 (like just about every year for as long as I can remember) sucked big time (and, after only 1 day, 2015 isn't set to be great either, but it at least has time to improve).

OK, here we go.

Thanks again to Linda for this...

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

Hmmm. Not a huge amount. I didn't seem to do much of anything, to be honest, let alone new stuff. I guess I could mention electroshock therapy. I'd certainly never done that before...

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

No real resolutions, but, having lost over 10 kg in the last 6 months, I am kind of hoping to be able to maintain my new weight

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My upstairs neighbours had a little girl on 4 July. We're not close friends, but they are close in terms of distance!

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. My best friend from middle school - still my friend more than 30 years later, even though we never saw each other any more, died on 27 December. Cancer sucks

5. What countries did you visit?

Portugal - I took the girls to Lisbon for a week in July

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

A steady income, mental stability, a normal life (as normal as my life can ever be). This desire never seems to change...

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

3 March, the day my beloved Tom died. 26 May, the day our new kitten, Smoky, came into our lives and also the day I was discharged from the mental institution I'd been in for 4 months

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going bankrupt, I guess

9. What was your biggest failure?

Only just not going bankrupt. Or possibly my failures as a mother. Tough one to call

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Same allergies as every year now apparently, and then ongoing bipolar issues

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The whole "trying not to go bankrupt" thing has meant I haven't bought many things this year...

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

No one has stood out, I'm afraid

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Probably mine, at the personal level. At the "celebrity" level, I'd have to say the French President's ex-girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler

14. Where did most of your money go?

Trying to pay off the huge amount of debt I have

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

Nothing

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

There are several, mainly through the incessant YouTub-ing of the girls: 1D's "Steal my girl", for example, plus French "stars" such as Black M, Indila...

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

a) happier or sadder? About the same, unfortunately

b) thinner or fatter? About 10 kg thinner

c) richer or poorer? Also about the same - too in debt, anyway

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

Be normal (I don't even know what that means, to be honest)

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

Spend time in psychiatric establishments

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Here at home, just me and Y (and the cats, of course). Two of his friends came round in the evening. Then Y left for 2 weeks with his family in Algeria the next day

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

This is a tough one, too. My relationship with Y sprang back to life sometime between February and April (the electroshocks have made me lose all memory of that period...), but I'm having trouble believing it will last - regardless of my hopes that it does

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I've spent quite a lot of time watching the National Geographic Channel, but not a particular programme

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

No

24. What was the best book you read?

I seem to have lost the ability to read books, which still appalls me!

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Pffff, I'm waaay too old for this question

26. What did you want and get?

Nothing

27. What did you want and not get?

A decent income may sound materialistic, but it really would be nice!

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I took L. to see "Paddington" just before Christmas and that was quite good. I think it was in 2014 that I also saw Baz Luhrman's "The Great Gatsby", and I loved that...

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

I turned 45 (God help me) in May. As is the case most years, I can't really remember much about it. I was still a patient of the psychiatric establishment, so it couldn't have been particularly exciting I guess

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

Not being so heavily in debt

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

I still really, really don't have a "fashion concept"

32. What kept you sane?

Nothing, apparently

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

Pat Monahan - still, but now accompanied by Alexander Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello from True Blood. This hasn't changed, amazingly

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I'm still not really interested in politics, but the various troubles around the world are disturbing

35. Who did you miss?

My friends in England - I don't see them nearly often enough; my friend in South Africa. This hasn't changed either.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Being pretty much a hermit, it isn't surprising that I don't think I met anyone new in 2014

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014

That raising tweens/teenagers is a challenge at a whole range of levels

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
These haven't changed either: there are two: first, from Train's early hit, "Meet Virginia":

"She pulls her hair back as she screams, "I don't really want to live this life!"
Second, from "Chasing cars" by Snow Patrol:

"If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world"

Rendez-vous in 12 months for the next depressing installment of my miserable life.

jeudi 1 janvier 2015

Life sucks

As usual, it's been a while. Apparently, one of the many things I suck at is being regular in my blog posts...

To keep you up to date, we haven't taken Zorro back to the refuge - he's still with us, but remains wild and unsociable. We didn't take him back for the simple reason that we couldn't actually catch him and put him in the travel case. We did, however, adopt the kitten I mentioned - his name is Smoky and he's absolutely adorable, despite the (many) stupid things he does. He's almost 9 months old, he's cute, and affectionate, and everything I could wish for in a cat. His only "failing" is that he isn't Tom, and we all know that's not his fault...

Other than that, my life continues to suck big time. I got my freedom back at the end of May, and the judge removed the tutor from my existence at about the same time. However, it turns out that he left me with more debt than he cleared up, so I've spent the last 7 months trying to pay it all off. I've done my best, I've paid off a huge amount, but still have a huge amount to pay. And of course, work has been erratic at best, non-existent at worst. My "career" is, it seems, more or less over.

In other news, I randomly stopped taking my meds at about the end of June, just because I hate the idea of putting toxic chemicals into my body. Naturally, my shrink has no idea of this, and I have absolutely no intention of telling him. I do NOT want him sectioning me again. I've done OK so far, though I'm not in great shape tonight...

Let me explain.

It's New Year's Eve, or technically New Year's Day now (yay! party! NOT), and I'm alone with the cats. This has been a wretched "holiday" season. The girls went to Paris on 22 December and came back a week later, meaning I wasn't with them for Christmas or Cs 13th birthday. Y left for 2 weeks in Algeria on 26 December. He comes back very late on 10 January, and leaves for 5 days in Porto on the 12th. It's like Cien años de soledad condensed into one, 3-week period.

On top of that, a friend who was my best friend for many, many years died on the 27th and, even though I haven't seen her for years, even though our contact was almost solely through Facebook, it felt as though the world had once again fallen apart. The funeral's on the 23rd, and I can't afford to go, which makes me feel even worse.

I got drunk the night I heard of her death, I got drunk and cried a lot. A real pity party. But the truth is, all this misery is just the culmination of a globally shitty, shitty year.

I'm too scared to hope that 2015 will be better, because I've hoped for that every year, and each year has been worse than the one before. I'm terrified to even contemplate what more shit can possibly come my way.

I nevertheless wish anyone who does actually read this all the best for 2015. It's just that I'm not hopeful in my particular case.

I might even try and write here more often - though that could be more of a threat than a promise given the continual outpourings of misery you get...

vendredi 16 mai 2014

Adios, Don Diego

It's been a painful decision, and one I still haven't entirely come to terms with, but Y and I, along with the lady who sold him to us, have come to the conclusion that our dear little fur-ball, Zorro, just isn't happy with us and needs to be returned so that he can run free in a larger space. He seems to dislike human company (I dread to think what awful treatment he must have endured in his short life to have such fear of humans...) and needs a garden where he can run and explore and do cat things in peace.

So it looks like this weekend we're going to have to try and capture the wild creature (he doesn't let anyone near him, so putting him in the travelling case is going to be...challenging, I fear) and take him back to the refuge. It breaks my heart to have to do this, but it also breaks my heart to know that he's so unhappy.

This evening, Y and I are going to Pérols (just south of Montpellier) to check out another kitten - a much smaller one this time, a little ball of grey fur, a little like a Chartreux, but not with the same face. I hope this is going to be the one that will help me get over the loss of my beloved Tom...

Till then, adios, mi Zorrito querido, I wish you the happiest of free-spirit cat lives. You touched my heart, despite everything.

jeudi 8 mai 2014

Slip, sliding away

It seems I'm in a bit of a Simon and GarFUNKel mode at the moment, which is odd, as I haven't been listening to their songs at all.

But yes, I'm in a bit of a funk, and I can feel myself sliding down the slippery - oh, so slippery - slope of being so overwhelmed with stuff to do that I end up doing nothing at all.

I have a shit ton of stuff that needs doing, and needs doing urgently - Urssaf need to be visited to try and get myself exonerated from at least some of the ridiculous €7,000 they claim I own them (wrongly calculated on revenue from a better year than 2013), I need to see the VAT guys to try and spread the €3,000 I owe them over a few months because yeah, €3,000 all at once will kill me. I need to contact the totally incommunicado guy dealing with my mortgage, which hasn't been paid for months as far as I'm aware. And I need to send papers to the mortgage insurance company to try and get them to pay some of what I owe, but of course I don't have all the papers required (this is bureaucracy-obsessed France, remember).

So far, out of all that, I've photocopied a letter from the insurance company and sent an e-mail to the mortgage guy.

Then there's work, and the invoices that go with that, plus paying dear Arnaud for work he did months ago (and that the mandataire was supposed to have paid but didn't).

And tomorrow, I've promised to take the girls shopping at Odysseum as part of Lydie's birthday present. I'm dreading it, and am hoping and praying it won't last too long so I can get back to Yacine.

I am a bad mother, one who finds her children fairly unbearable most of the time and who doesn't exactly relish their presence. A bad mother, for sure.

I'm also annoyed with Dr H for prescribing only medication with which it is very difficult to overdose (he knows me too well, clearly). I have a huge stock of Mianserin and Abilify - the ones I don't take at 6 pm, just about every day - plus an equally impressive stock of Atarax and a couple of Noctamide and Lysanxias. None of them taken alone would do the job, but I'm hopeful that if I took all of them, with a hefty dose of alcohol, they might work. But I don't know. And if I do want to go down that path, I don't - most definitely don't - want to fail again.

Life as a working, responsible, adult with children and a home and a cat to deal with is too much for me, I'm not cut out for it. I want to leave Rech next week and be allowed home indefinitely, but I'm not sure how ready for that I am.

Slip, sliding away, indeed.

mardi 6 mai 2014

Hello, darkness my old friend...

...I've come to talk with you again...

Indeed.

I've come to the conclusion that my self-destruct instinct is the strongest instinct I have, because I've more or less stopped taking my main medication (the anti-psychotic and the anti-depressant), just taking the odd anxiolytic and a totally ineffective sleeping pill, and only taking those because I can't get out of it.

As a result, and despite all my best efforts to hide it and try and appear normal, I do feel that the darkness is creeping back into my life. I know I should just start taking the damn pills again, but there's something about taking medication that offends me, upsets me, disturbs me, and I just cannot bring myself to do it.

I must prefer the darkness, I suppose. Which no doubt says more about me than most of the rubbish I post here.

I feel old, though I'm not actually old enough to have been alive when the song referenced in the title and first line of this post was a hit, or even when it was used in The Graduate. I feel like I've failed so very badly at so very many things, important things like raising children to be people I like and living a "normal" life (whatever that means).

Martine, the wonderful ergotherapist here in the clinic, says there's a darkness to my work - she calls the stories I write "apocalyptic" (at least in parts), the paintings I use as models have a "melancholy" to them (the one I'm doing right now is this one, Edward Hopper's "Morning sun" from 1952:

) and the original work I produce is "dark" (that darkness rearing its ugly head once again).

So yes, I think my main talent is for self-destruction, and darkness is my best friend.

vendredi 2 mai 2014

En mai, fait ce qu'il te plaît

This popular French expression roughly translates as "In May, do as you please". Which is all well and good, but supposes that you have a clear-cut idea of what would, in fact, please you. And I? Really don't.

I want to be released from this hospital, because I've been here for more than 3 months and it's really not easy spending so much time in a psychiatric hospital. But the thought of being home on a permanent basis fills me with both terror and horror. I don't feel ready at all to have to deal with all the day-to-day crap that normal people deal with without difficulty. And you must remember that the last time I was let out of this hospital, everything went pear-shaped again within 4 months, and within 5 I was back here. I don't want that to happen again, I don't want to fail again. There has been enough failure in my life already.

Another example: since June 2013, I've been a "protected adult", meaning that a judge appointed a guy - a mandataire - to deal with my personal finances (note: personal, not professional). That sounds great, but it also authorised him to remove all means of payment from my possession, leaving him to give me a (small) amount of cash every month for basic expenses. He's done a lot of good, cleared a lot of (again, personal) debt, made my bank account healthy again. But last week, I received notification from the judge saying she was withdrawing me from "protected adult" status and restoring my right to deal with my own affairs. On Wednesday, the mandataire came for the last time, gave me back all the paperwork and stuff, and left, leaving me to my own devices. But as I said, he essentially dealt with personal finances, so my professional finances are a mess - I have a huge (and very overdue) VAT bill, I owe the URSSAF (the French administration dealing with social security) a huge amount of money, my professional tax forms are full of mistakes... You get the picture. I've longed to be free of protected adult status because it's humiliating and restrictive. But now that I am, indeed, free of it, I feel very, very fragile and scared. The fear of failure looms very large, I must say.

So what would please me? I really don't know. There's so much in my life that doesn't please me right now: I feel that Y is unhappy and nothing I do or say seems to change that, yet I want him to feel good, feel happy with me; The girls are being spectacularly difficult and unpleasant and disobedient (though they're currently in Paris with D and his mother till the 7th), causing me much pain and sadness; Zorro remains terrified of everything and has now, to top it all, started pissing all over the place (on the bedroom carpet, on the duvet, on a blanket used while the duvet dried, on a plastic bag in the sitting room...), making it even harder to accept him as a sort of replacement for Tom... the list is seemingly endless. I feel old and a failure at life in general.

Maybe if all that were to clear up, that would please me, but I just don't think I'm capable of feeling peace and happiness and joy. My brain isn't wired that way (despite the electric shocks supposed to kick-start it).

May is supposed to be a good month - lots of bank holidays (though they change little for me, I've always worked on bank holidays because I work just about every day, always), good weather, my birthday... But the weather isn't great, I'm dreading my birthday because come on, 45 for fuck's sake.

I think I'm a lost cause. And I wish May were over (even though it's only the 2nd today).

samedi 26 avril 2014

AtoZ Challenge: Z...

...is (unsurprisingly) for Zorro.

This little black ball of fur came into our lives 6 or 7 weeks ago, just after Tom died. His presence was meant to help me get over the loss of the best cat in the world.

He's an adorable little (not so little, actually) kitten, with a very cute (but persistent) miaow, and a lot of playfulness, as you would expect.

What he is not, is sociable. He's scared of everyone and everything, won't let anyone near him, certainly won't let anyone touch him, let alone stroke him. He remains, despite our encouragements, our patience, our trustworthiness (we've never done him harm of any kind), a wild cat.

His latest obsession is going out on to the balcony, jumping down into the courtyard and disappearing for a few hours. Given that he's totally black, he's pretty hard to find (especially at night, obviously). But, so far, he's always come back when he's hungry (which is often, it must be said).

I love the little black cat, I really do, but it's just that he's not Tom. I don't - can't - love him as much as I love(d) Tom, simply because he remains a disappointment to me; I long to take him on my knees and stroke him, cuddle him, and I've only managed to touch the tip of his tail once, as he disappeared behind the dishwasher.

I love him, but he's not Tom and apparently never will be. The hole in my life remains gaping. And worst of all, I never even got to say goodbye to Tom. I just hope and pray that he knew how very, very much he was loved, right up to the end.


Of course, there is also another Zorro in my life - the "real" one so to speak...!