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samedi 18 août 2018

End of summer blues

Technically, here in the south of France, summer could (and probably will) continue well into September. Yet my daughters and I returned from our official holiday together (12 days, split between Venice and Bologna) last night and there's an undeniable feeling of "end of summer" in the air.

I've actually spent most of the day close to tears. The holiday was good, though hard work - keeping the girls from killing each other, organising everything, dealing with their insatiable appetites, finding things to appeal to all of us... - and coming home was a long day. I feel exhausted, totally dissatisfied with the other parts of my "summer", and completely unmotivated for starting work again on Monday (not that I'm complaining exactly, it's great to actually have work, but I don't feel even remotely rested, I haven't had a minute to myself all summer... and I really, really need "me time").

And arriving here, to find the flat in the worst state I've ever seen it in, made my heart sink. I had to work up until past midnight on the day before our departure, so had no time for housework or tidying (and neither are my strong point at the best of times) before we left. Y was here most of time we were away to take care of the cats, but did nothing either - it was in fact worse than before I left. Disheartening. There's mess everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I don't know where to start...

Today, the washing machine appears to have given up the ghost and I've spent most of the afternoon trying to fix it. The toilet tank is leaking and has rotted the parquet underneath, one my cats, Zorro, is still stuck on a roof and refusing to come down, but miaowing pathetically (and loudly) day and night, my ex-MIL-from-hell is due to arrive tomorrow (not in my home, obviously) and is apparently in fighting form having argued non-stop with my ex (her son) while he visited her. She also claimed that our daughters are probably not even his biologically (WTF?) and my teeth are already on edge at the thought of her being here for the next 10 days.

Y is in a total funk and his depression is driving me batshit - he takes no advice, is becoming diet-obsessed, mopes about and does NOTHING. I'm struggling enough as it is, I simply cannot take on someone else's issues. That sounds heartless (and maybe is) but I just can't. I'm feeling overwhelmed and miserable.

Realising that I'll most likely spend the rest of my life totally alone has been hard too. I need "me time" more than most people, so being alone at home isn't a problem in itself (I relish it, even), but never having anyone to love me, make me feel special, accompany me, take some of the pressure of me, support me, spoil me... that's kind of hard. Growing old totally alone isn't a cheering prospect.

So there you have it. Another gloomy update. People say you make your own happiness, but what do you do if you don't know how? What do you do if you don't know what happiness is?

samedi 21 juillet 2018

Gosh. Well now.

My word, it's been a while.

I didn't even do my depressingly repetitive New Year's questionnaire this year (seriously, almost nothing has changed since the previous one, except maybe that I'm not as poor as I was).

But hey, here I am, alive and well (I guess). The truth is, I really only come here when I feel like there's simply no one else I can turn to. I can say things here that I can't say to anyone in a face-to-face situation. I don't want to be a burden, I don't want to bore people with my pathetic misery.


I'm broken. It's the conclusion I've finally reached: there are things about me that aren't right, and can't seem to be fixed.

Every day, I find myself hating something new about myself. I can't seem to feel happiness, or joy, and I can't find peace within myself. I'm filled with frustration and self-pity and anger for things I have no control over. I'm enslaved to my wretched failure of a past, despising it for making me what I am, and despising myself for being so dependent on it.

Every evening, once I'm alone, I find myself sobbing pathetically over a sappy TV ad, or some ridiculous TV show, or a piece of music, or just about anything, really.

My sleep patterns are disastrous, I eat badly, I waste far too much time on pointless things, I have no social life to speak of (and when I am invited to something, I generally make some excuse to avoid it, and then feel miserable because my life is so dull), no hobbies, no real interests, no life in fact.

My existence is a waste of time, I am a waste of space. My only reason for really actually still being here is that my daughters need me. Well, the younger one anyway. My elder daughter is more or less lost to me - she's only 16, but she hasn't lived with me for almost 6 years, I rarely see her and she rarely seems to feel the need to have anything to do with me. But yes, sweet L still needs me, and C, well, she needs me but probably doesn't realise it - she needs me to pay for all her stuff at the very least (I pay her school fees, school trips, clothes, scout camp, holidays...).

Otherwise, I really don't see the purpose of my existence. I get up as late as I can, I faff about, I eat crap, I watch crap on TV while making a semblance of working, then I go to bed at dawn. That's it. That's my life. It's a waste of time.

And I'm incapable of changing it.

I'm wretched at the thought of growing old (or older) alone, but can't bear the thought of having to live with anyone. I yearn to be loved and complemented and made to feel special because I've never had that, but know that it's never going to happen. I want to feel comfortable in my body, but can't, seeing only the unfit, flabby mess I've become. I want to write, and paint, and create things, and go to exhibitions, but can never find the energy to do anything other than stay on my sofa and escape into my fantasy world.

Oh yes. The fantasy world. I have a whole other life in my head, and the best time of my day is when I finally crawl into bed and can escape there. It's not perfect, but I am loved, and beautiful, and happy there. So much better than reality.

So there you have it.

I'm sure you're delighted I'm back - yet more moaning and whingeing.

There is some positive though: after a wretched 2017 from a work point of view (I've never earned so little in my entire career - and most of what I did earn came from the last 3 months of the year; the rest of the time, I was literally counting centimes and too poor to buy food even), this year has been really pretty good - I'd earned more in 2018 by the end of March than in the whole of 2017. I got a new (additional) job, teaching English (of course) at the School of Architecture and, while I don't exactly enjoy it, I get paid every month and that's a huge advantage, even if it's only €500. I've done loads of translation work, found new clients, kept up to date with my payments (VAT, taxes, social contributions) and generally got that area of my life more or less in order. So that's something I guess.

Well, I'm glad to have got that off my chest at last - I'm not sobbing any more, and after the current episode of True Blood that I'm watching (my God, Eric Northman is sexy...) is over, I'll be off to bed, maybe even before dawn (though not much I guess).

I do just wish, though, that I could feel things the way other people do - I feel dead on the inside, incapable of any positive emotions, feeling only worry and anxiety and frustration and anger and self-loathing.

Ciao for now.

vendredi 17 mars 2017

The never-ending story...

You can probably guess what's coming next...

I studiously avoided hoping that 2017 would be better than 2016, because that kind of silliness has been spectacularly disastrous for me in the past.

But guess what? Despite that precaution, 2017 seems to be turning out worse than 2016...

I feel like I'm spiralling back down, down, down.

I'm am so very, very tired of fighting, struggling all the time. And the fight, the struggle is incessant, and at every level of my increasingly wretched life.

Do I ever do anything but moan?

Well, actually, yes, I do lots of things:

1. I try and pay off debt, pay bills, keep myself out of trouble at the bank;
2. I try and keep up appearances for L, and for just about everyone else around me;
3. I try and convince myself that clients will come back, that work will start to come in again;
4. I try and imagine what it must be like to not have to worry about money ALL. THE. TIME.
5. I try and imagine what it must be like to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't have psychiatric problems, who isn't consumed with bitterness about his crap life, and who I actually want to be with;
6. I try (but this, very unsuccessfully) and imagine what it must feel like to be happy.

There are some positives: my mortgage is finally fully paid off (thank God, because if it weren't, and I still had to pay that €700/month, I'd be hopelessly overdrawn by now); spring is here; I have successfully applied for two separate bank loans that will at least keep me afloat for another couple of months or so; one of this year's very rare clients finally paid two overdue invoices today (though one was paid without VAT, which just means hassle for me).

But my relationship with C. is virtually non-existent (I haven't even seen her for about a month); L. is struggling mightily with maths and I don't have the means to help - I'm not good enough myself, and I can't afford to hire someone; L.'s 13th birthday is looming large and I don't have the means to buy anything at all (so of course she wants a €200 phone, and her dad has said OK as long as we all chip in, which in his language means that he wants me to pay for it and then he'll pay me a little bit of half of it over several months); my relationship with Y. is difficult - we're both irritating each other considerably and I don't have the guts to do what I probably need to do.

So yes, like chez Magic27 is as crap and depressing as ever. No respite in sight of course, just futile hopes and dreams (and the worst of that is that those hopes and dreams are just normal life for most people).

Magic27, over and out (for now, anyway).

lundi 23 janvier 2017

New Year's Questionnaire!

I suspect that this blog is in its death throes – I certainly never seem to be able to motivate myself to write anything (possibly because even I am loath to moan constantly…).


Now is the time (having been totally silent, absent, whatever since...hmmm...April) for the “traditional” New Year’s questionnaire. I know you’ve “all” been waiting with bated breath for this!

So. Here we go. A review of what life was like for Magic27 in 2016...

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Tough question. Maybe “nearly die on a volcano”? (That sounds more dramatic than it actually was, and there was no actual “volcano” involvement, no explosions or lava I mean.)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t generally make actual resolutions. Mainly because I’m crap at keeping to them. I did vaguely play around with the idea of keeping a bullet journal in 2017, but I’m not sure I’ll manage it...

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No close friends (I suspect we’re all mostly too old now...), but my upstairs neighbour had a baby boy in March.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A very dear friend died suddenly of a heart attack whilst doing charity work in Africa in July. We hadn’t seen each other in years, but were very good friends back in our student days and we kept in touch. His death shook me to the core. And it would have been his 48th birthday in 8 days.

5. What countries did you visit?
Nothing original: Scotland in April, Italy in August, Spain in October/November.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Same as last year: a more stable, less stress-inducing financial situation and a better relationship with my 15-year-old daughter, C.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
11 July, the day my friend Iver died (see above).

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Surviving the year and paying off most of my debt. Translating a series of medical documents that allowed a French Paralympic athlete to participate in the Games in Rio and win a bronze medal.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Same as last year, my relationship with C.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, apart from what now appear to be year-round allergies and my usual blend of psychiatric specialness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Money is always tight, so I don’t buy much to be honest. I did treat myself to a new duvet cover and pillow cases set – turquoise blue with watermelons all over. I’m pleased with that!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
No one that I can think of in particular.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Long list! The British government, a large swathe of the British population, Donald Trump, a large swathe of the US population... Pfff

14. Where did most of your money go?
Paying off debt (always, always). I’m pretty much debt-free now though – even my mortgage is fully paid off!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I’m still not the kind of person to show that amount of enthusiasm about anything, but I was very much looking forward to travelling to Naples with the girls and Madrid (supposedly with the girls, but in fact only with L. as C. refused to come with us).

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Tough one. L. gets “favourite” songs and plays them to death for a few days before moving on to another one, so I doubt there’s a single song. But probably anything that was in the NRJ Top 50...

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? About the same – definitely not happy, but not utterly miserable either.
b) thinner or fatter? Probably fatter, but not much.
c) richer or poorer? Thanks to clients not paying when they’re supposed to, I’m actually destitute right now (-30 € on one account, +10 € on the other).

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Draw, paint, write, create. Feel happy.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry, stress.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
C. and my ex travelled to Paris to be with my ex mother-in-law. L. refused to go, so it was me, her and Y. here for Christmas. Quiet, uneventful.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
No. In fact, my relationship with Y. is shaky – I think the truth is that I’m just not meant to live in the company of other human beings; I find people in general extremely irritating. And Y. rarely leaves the house, meaning that I feel like I’m suffocating, all the time.

22. What was your favourite TV programme?
I still (inexplicably) like Le Meilleur Pâtissier, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Amazon series, Bosch.

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

24. What was the best book you read?
Hmmm. Tough one. I read lots of books this year, but mainly ones I’d already read. We need to talk about Kevin is one of them, and it moves me a great deal.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
At a personal level, possibly that I don’t actually hate Maître Gims’ songs as much as I thought I would.

26. What did you want and get?
Nothing, really.

27. What did you want and not get?
Lots of things: financial stability, happiness, a better relationship with C., alone time...

28. What was your favourite film of this year?
As usual, I think I only saw animated films this year. Of them, I probably enjoyed The Secret Life of Pets best.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 47, which seems shockingly old. The day was dull and non-descript at best, tense and interminable at worst. Same problem as last year – C. and Y. were both here, and the tension between them was palpable. I couldn’t wait for it all to be over, to be honest.

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

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
LOL – unkempt, multi-coloured scarecrow perhaps?

32. What kept you sane?
My private, inner fantasy world, the one I escape to when I get into bed or am walking around town on my own.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Still like Pat Monahan and Johnny Depp, but could now probably add in Titus Welliver...

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
I should probably say Trump’s election, but to be honest, I’m more likely to be affected by the Brexit stupidity...

35. Who did you miss?
The situation with J. described in last year’s questionnaire hasn’t really changed – the odd e-mail, a belated Christmas card, that’s about all the contact we’ve had. It still breaks my heart. I also miss my dear friend M. in London, because we don’t get to see each other often enough because we’re both always broke...

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Given how much I tend to avoid people in general, I’m not particularly good at “meeting” new ones, so I don’t think I made any fabulous new friends in 2016...

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016
Stop trying to believe that the new year will be a good one because in reality, my life is a crapfest and there are only degrees of crap. 2015 and 2016 were a little less crappy than previous years, but still crap. My hopes and expectations for 2017 are thus appropriately low.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Never changes. Train’s Meet Virginia: She pulls her hair back as she screams, “I don’t really want to live this life!”

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.


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.


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


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.