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samedi 31 décembre 2011

The New Year's Questionnaire

New Year's questionnaire (again, again). But you know me, I can't resist a meme... so here goes.

Well, I was hoping that 2011 was going to be an improvement on 2010 and that this year's answers to these questions would be a bit more upbeat. But apparently it wasn't to be, so now all hopes are riding on 2012...

So here's my review of this pretty much craptastic year. Somewhat depressingly, many of my answers are in fact exactly the same as last year.

Thanks again to Linda for this...

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Spend the entire year as a single mother. Funnily enough, I don't really recommend it...

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?

Not really. People I know from the girls' school (hey, it's a Catholic school...!), but not any close friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?

Scotland and Italy (though not in that order)

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Same answer as last year - the love of a sane, intelligent, financially independent, funny, charming, sexy man

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory and why?

2011 was a non-specifically crappy year with a few good points, but no actual dates jump out at me, I must admit

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not going bankrupt, apparently

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not managing to keep my life financially and emotionally afloat

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Same answer as last year: Nothing except from horrendous allergies all the time, at their worst in February-March

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The two digital cameras I bought for the girls way back at the beginning of 2011 and gave them for Christmas - they were overjoyed!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Can't think of anyone in particular

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

As last year - my ex on occasion (though things are OK at the moment); in CelebWorld, many people get up my nose: Kardashians, LiLo, Mariah Carey, most footballers...

14. Where did most of your money go?

Trying to keep me and my girls afloat

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

I don't seem to have the ability to get "really, really excited" about anything, though I was happy to go on holiday to Italy with the girls in August, and again when my friend J and her family came to visit in July, and when another friend, D, came to visit in August

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

There are several - Hot Chelle Rae's "Tonight, tonight", Simple Plan's "Jet lag" (the French version), Adele's "Someone like you", Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly", the Glee version of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide", the Glee duet "I feel pretty/Unpretty", and many others

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

a) happier or sadder? About the same

b) thinner or fatter? Probably a little fatter

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

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

Laugh, smile, see friends, go out, do things for me

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

Cry, feel sorry for myself

20. How did you spend Christmas?

The girls and I travelled to see my dad in Scotland. We arrived late on 21 December and came home on 29 December (though we left Scotland the day before). It was nice, and the girls had a lot of fun.

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

22. What was your favourite TV programme?

I still enjoy Glee and the French version of MasterChef, but I also watched (on DVD) all 4 seasons of Mad Men and got really into that

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


24. What was the best book you read?

I didn't read many "new" books this year (I reread "comfort" books)
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Adele (though I'm hardly a groundbreaker, am I?!)

26. What did you want and get?

I asked for CDs by Adele ("21") and Lady Antebellum ("Own the night"), as well as a couple of books ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth" by Malcolm Pryce and "All of our Thursdays are Missing" by Jasper Fforde), and I was lucky enough to be given all of them

27. What did you want and not get?

Love and affection

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

I don't seem to see films any more

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

I turned 42 (God help me) in May. To be honest, I can't really remember much about it. I know it was better than last year, but it certainly wasn't memorable

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

Being loved

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


32. What kept you sane?

Facebook (corny, but true), and seeing my closest friends

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

Pat Monahan - still

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I'm still not really interested in politics, but the DSK scandal was at least entertaining

35. Who did you miss?

My friends in England - I don't see them nearly often enough

36. Who was the best new person you met?


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011

When the chips are down, staying up late watching YouTube videos and scarfing down chocolate is really only a temporary fix

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Same as last 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!"

jeudi 8 décembre 2011


It's 2.45 am and I know I'm tired. But I can't go to bed. I just can't. Not tonight.

It's not unusual for me to up at this time of night; I've never been a morning person, and I've always enjoyed the peace and quiet of the wee, small hours. I remember writing essays at university at 4 am, I remember lying in bed listening to France Inter late, late at night when I was a student in Lyon. When the girls were very small, I had to work at night because it was pretty much impossible to get much done during the day.

Also, I'm not an insomniac. I have been, back in Lyon for example, when I just couldn't sleep, tossing and turning, night after night, until I'd get up before dawn and go and watch the sun rise from the steps of the Palais de Justice. But not now. Once I actually get myself to bed, I'm pretty much sure of falling asleep within a few minutes.

But tonight? I don't know.

You see, I had a dream last night. A bad dream. Probably the worst dream I've ever had in my entire life. A nightmare so bone-chilling that even thinking about it sends a shiver down my spine.

I've had nightmares before, we all have. Dreams that seem so real and that are so scary that you wake up breathless, in a cold sweat.

But this one was different. I don't remember the details - where, when, how - just the last few seconds before I shot awake, trembling and terrified.

I dreamt that I went into our bathroom and my beautiful girl, C, was lying in the bath, perfectly still, perfectly under the water. Lifeless. I dreamt I put my hands into the warm water and lifted her up, knowing full well that it was too late.

Oh God.

My hands are shaking as I type. It was so real. I could feel her damp skin, the coolness of it. I could see her long, blond hair floating out around her shoulders. Her lips were blue and her eyes were closed. She looked like she was sleeping. But I knew she wasn't.

Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.

I don't really believe in premonitions, and she was perfectly fine all day (though she may have wondered why I kept hugging her so tight today...), but this dream has shaken me to my core. I feel sick. I'm trembling.

And now, I'm scared to go to sleep. Scared to have another dream like that.

My two sweet girls are the most important things in my life, the one true success in my life. I can't bear the thought of losing them.

I can barely keep my eyes open I'm so tired, and I'm going to be a wreck tomorrow, teaching all morning, working all afternoon. But I can't go to bed. I just can't.

dimanche 4 décembre 2011

Warning: moan-fest ahoy!

I haven't been around much lately. It's not so much that I've been busy (though I have had things to do), it's more that I'm in such a damn funk that I a) couldn't be arsed to write anything and b) do, believe it or not, get tired of hearing myself whine all the time (so I can only imagine how dull it must be for you).

So. Yeah. Funk. And not in the music sense.

I feel totally overwhelmed by absolutely everything. I do stuff, all the time. I do a lot of stuff, even. But I never, ever seem to get anything finished. And my "to do" list is ridiculous, covering several pages. If I cross one thing off, it seems like I have another two or three things to add. And if I don't add them, I forget them completely. You wouldn't believe how many e-mails I have, unanswered, in my in box...

Everything is half-done. The son of one of my best friends back in Britain had his 8th birthday on 26 November. I bought a (small) gift a couple of weeks in advance, and a nice birthday card. Very organised. And, of course, neither have been sent, even though it's now 4 December. Both of my other friend, J's, kids had their birthdays too (one on 19 October, one on 7 November) and I haven't done anything about those either.

I've bought all my Christmas cards and addressed all the envelopes, but done nothing more. I've done some Christmas shopping (mainly for the girls, in fact), but not all. I have plans for projects with the girls - making Christmas cookies, making mince pies - but remain unconvinced that we'll actually ever get round to them. I always try and get the tree put up on or around 1 December, and I haven't even cleared a space for it yet. I could go on, but I'm sure you get the drift.

I've neglected the little amount of housework I ever do, I've been doing my food shopping on the internet once a month instead of every two weeks (and I can tell you, the week before I do it is a frugal week for sure). I'm way behind with my invoices, I owe money all over the place, I've stopped paying much attention to how I look (not that I paid much attention before, but even less now), I'm weeks behind on grading student translations, none of my paperwork has been organised or sorted or anything for months (it's just piled up in heaps around my desk). I haven't done my professional accounts since last December (fuuuuuuuuck) and I have a million (or so it seems) phonecalls to make.

The one positive thing I've done is make my decision regarding Christmas. I plucked up the courage and asked D what he thought about me taking the girls to Scotland and, of course, he was very positive about it (my mean-spirited self suspects he's plotting his revenge for next year). So I set to work and spent more hours than I care to admit on every cheap flight site ever. It took me forever, and cost me 900 euros. But we're going. And I am, for once, really looking forward to it - previous visits were always a little stressful because D and my dad didn't really hit it off and neither was good at compromising or letting things go, so they always argued. This time, though, with just me and the girls, it should be stress-free and fun. I live in hope.

Other than that, I almost broke down in tears on Thursday morning in the headmistress' office at the girls' school. I had a document to drop off and then a question to ask the headmistress about the school newspaper (I'm one of the 3 parents' association members responsible for putting it together). She asked me into her office, told me what I needed to know and then, changing subject rather suddenly, said that if things got too hard for me she was there, that she would listen and would do what she could to help me pay for school trips, or the school canteen, or whatever, in full confidence. I don't know how she knows how dire my situation is (no payments have bounced for ages), but I was incredibly touched and, as always when that happens, tears welled up. I managed to get out before the tears really started, but only just.

The truth is that I'm not coping at all right now. Everything - anything - can make me cry, and usually does. I long to have someone sweep into my life and take over. Deal with things. Make things right.

I have to try and believe that the shittiness of my existence will come to an end, that I'll get my shot at good times for once. But it's hard to believe when every new year starts so full of promise and ends with me counting the days till it's over. 2010 and 2011 have been particularly shittastic, it has to be said, but I don't dare say "2012 can only be better" because whenever I've said that, it hasn't been true (2011, case in point).

I'm sorry. This is one long, dreary moan-fest, and I know that. But it's 5 am (again), I feel like crap and I hate my life existence. I'm not suicidal, I swear, but I am, most definitely, struggling, and struggling badly. And the more I struggle, the more I become a homebody. If it weren't for school and teaching, I'd almost never leave the house; hell, I probably wouldn't leave my bed if I could get away with it (and remember - I've stopped opening my shutters in my bedroom, so it's like a cave. A messy, un-vaccumed cave).

If I catch sight of someone I know in the street, I pretend I haven't seen them and bustle off, trying to look like I'm in a rush. I never phone anyone (I've always hated the phone) and never make any attempt to see friends. I know it's not healthy; I know it's stupid, but I can't help it. I'm wallowing in self-pity (and a fair dose of self-loathing much of the time) and I don't want anyone to see that.

I snark and moan at the girls - who really aren't doing much to help, it must be said: they NEVER put anything away, never do anything to help unless I ask them a hundred times, never do what I say. I hate the way I am with them, but if they would play their part, it would make a huge difference - I feel like I have to do EVERYTHING for all three of us, plus the cat, all on my own. I don't ask much of them, just that they lay the table, for example, or clear it at the end of a meal, that they put away the clothes I wash, dry, fold and put on their beds, that they pick up their toys or games and put them away, that they turn off lights, that they put lids back on bottles and bottles back in the fridge, that they put on their pyjamas without me having to tell them... it's simple stuff and, given that C's almost 10 and L's over 7.5, I feel they should be able to do this. But they don't. They really, really don't. My dad noticed how little they do; friends have noticed too. I don't know where I've gone wrong, but I have. And it's one of the many things getting me down.

So there you have it. My wonderful life. I know I should be grateful for what I have - I have a home (for now, anyway) and a job, and two lovely, wonderful children. I'm healthy (as far as I know, though I haven't seen a doctor in about 2 years), I have friends (even if I make no effort to see them or even contact them for the most part) and I live in a lovely place.

But it's not easy to be grateful when there's so much crap going on. When getting out of bed is so difficult. When fetching my mail is so stressful (today, for example, I received my quarterly VAT bill (1,500 euros. YEAH!) and a threatening letter from the bank ("interdit bancaire" is looming large, I fear). Fantastic.

How am I supposed to "get into the Christmas spirit" or be "jolly"?

To be honest, I just want 2011 to end. I just want all this crap to go away, disappear, self-destruct. Because if it doesn't, then I just might.

Over and out.