Sad

The realities of unemployment: the cons.

Do not (choose to) try this at home.

In the immortal words of one Forrest Gump, “Shit happens”.

I was recently reminded of this when I found myself unexpectedly, unceremoniously unemployed. Which, for the record, is not fun.

By way of explanation, I would like to clarify that I was not stealing staplers from the office and my former employer was not in the wrong – my contract was just unexpectedly not renewed because, despite being very happy with my performance, I still have half a day of uni this year, which was inconvenient for my former team. Understandable, but utterly unexpected and utterly… upsetting.

So, I abruptly found myself in a situation that I never anticipated or hoped to experience: unemployment.

In addition to not having an income, there are a few other downsides I’ve experienced courtesy of unemployment: (more…)

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little wonders.

rainy day ❤️Studió Parrucchieri Lory (Join us on our Facebook Page)  Via Cinzano 10, Torino, Italy.
Image: Cristian Calzone

It shouldn’t be this hard.

It shouldn’t be this hard to remove the doonas. It shouldn’t be this hard to walk to the kitchen. It shouldn’t be this hard to put the pyjamas in the washing basket. It shouldn’t be this hard to walk the 280 metres to the train station.

But it is hard. Today it’s hard.

(more…)

I don’t want to say no.

The heartbreaking realisation that you have to say no.

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“A man’s got to know his limitations.”
– Dirty Harry, Magnum Force (1973)

“A man’s got to know his limitations, and a woman’s got to know hers too.”
– Dirty Harry ft. Alex.

 

Yes.

It was all about saying yes. (more…)

a grey anatomy.

Break glass in case of emergency.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that actually, sometimes life isn’t happy go-lucky. Sometimes it is terrible. Sometimes it is hard and harrowing and just horrendous.

This is a post for and from those times.

****

It was meant to be a normal afternoon.

It certainly looked like one; sporadic clouds lined the sky – insignificant dabs of whitewash, powerless to the spectrum of blue.

But when I turned the corner everything changed.

What? What is happening? 

No. But this doesn’t happen in real life. Not mine, at least.

I desperately seek tears. Where? Where are they? 

I’m sure we’ll find them somewhere. But I shouldn’t have to search for them in the first place…

I can’t find them. I can’t find them anywhere. The adrenalin envelops my emotions and freezes my tear ducts.

And now I am composed of equal parts steel and lambswool and filigree lace and broken glass.

But I do not have the time to analyse my new composition; I have to make sure that everyone reaches the life raft before time runs out.

It is easier to pretend that nothing has happened, but it just causes more ruptures. But if I’m to acknowledge what has happened then it is going to be real. And I don’t know if I can deal with “real” just yet.

Linoleum floors. Fluorescent lighting. Under other circumstances I would recoil at the thought of the number of bacteria colonies on this plastic chair.

An attractive emergency worker walks towards us, setting a series of waves in motion. The guilt pummels me, taking me crashing onto the sandbank with it. I am left clutching my pressed powder and various lip products in a pathetic attempt at normality.

I think my facial muscles have been paralysed. There is no movement. They can’t lift up out of their darkness. Why can’t they find any strength?

I play scenarios through my head to fill the minutes with something, whilst desperately gasping for air. It hurts.

Everything hurts.

Hours have passed and I realise I need to be at work. Now.

The taxi driver politely turns his face away from his rear-vision mirror and the girl who has finally found them – she finally found where the tears were hiding.

Wiping mascara off inky, watercoloured cheeks doesn’t really equate to a “daytime smokey eye”, but I pretend that this was the look I was going for this morning. This morning was so long ago.

The regular route, the regular turns, the regular streets descend into a blur and a fight against the sting in my eyes. My lips tremble, quivering in an attempt to suppress this for just one more minute. Just one more minute of pretending and then I can be alone.

Eventually I find my way back home. The keys and chords tear through me; the raw cuts and grazes that are stinging so badly ooze onto the monochrome notes.

I do not know.

I do not know how to act. I don’t think I’d know how to behave normally even if I tried.

I’m just trying to make sure that this life boat stays afloat for each of us.

So much has changed and we’re pretending that there has just been a slight rearrangement of the furniture; whereas, in fact, we’ve moved house, state and country in the space of minutes.

Chocolate. I need something real and normal and safe and sweet.

I can’t remember the last time I cried myself to sleep. I think the shock is wearing off and the reality is beginning to settle in.

It’s 3am.

I wake up to bleary, puffy eyes and hugs; drifting in and out of sleep.

My dear friend is a welcome comfort, thawing these frozen rooms.

I’m still trying to process it all. I still don’t know which words could possibly describe how I’m feeling.

We sit in the sunshine in our pyjamas without sunblock.

It’s 2pm and I clumsily go through the motions; the motions of normal people on normal days in normal supermarkets.

Elton John accompanies me on the bus that evening. Blue jean tears are sewn down my cheeks and waltz over my lips. The elderly couple diagonally across from me look on at that twenty-something girl who is crying on a packed bus headed towards the city. And the makeup I’ve just done becomes redundant.

The helplessness envelops me. I just don’t know how to support everyone else in their pain. I just have no idea what to do.

And I still don’t know how to express how I’m feeling.

It’s 3am.

My body responds to the torture with a sore throat and blocked nose. Evidently I was not having enough fun before this.

I have the idea to do Stuff – all of the mundane stuff that needs doing in an attempt to help everyone else and to try and stop my mind from remembering.

We’re eating our favourite comfort food and the Elephant is dining with us, too.

I’m empty.

I have no air; I can’t breathe.

Everything’s spinning whilst remaining still and I’m swaying back and forwards in synchronisation with the shock, not knowing what has hit me.

All I can register is this foreign, yet familiar pain seeping through me – stretching from inside, searing and reverberating into nothingness.

It’s 12.26am.

I go to bed in the hope that there will be many hours between now and dawn.

 

Alex x

An editorial aside: I am not presently in “crisis mode” – this happened a while ago.

to my sweet peach.

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Fun fact: the literal translation of au revoir is “until we next see each other”.

 

The week ahead is going to be a big one. Really big. Sad big.

See, I’m leaving a job I adore – out of choice – because I want to pursue a job which is more career-oriented. I have been nannying my little girl for close to two years and my lord have they been brilliant. I’ll still see her family on a regular basis, but I feel heartbroken knowing that this is our last week together.

Being a nanny can, in some ways, be mildly petrifying. Not only because you have the responsibility of looking after a little life, but because whether or not you want to, you know that you will be influencing and shaping that little life. And frankly, I don’t always have my sh!t together. Frightening stuff.

So, I want to write an open letter to my little girl… my sweet peach, darling girl, bubble, rascal, honey bear, roo roo.

****

My darling Roo,

This is our last week together, bubble, and I don’t want Friday to come. 

I know we’ll still see each other often (minimum once a fortnight as promised), but I know that my new job will not bring me the immense joy which I receive when I’m with you. I won’t be paid to laugh, to go on adventures, give you hugs, to sing in the car or do weird science experiments together – but you know I’d do all of that for free. Anyway, I won’t be paid to do your washing anymore either – so I guess there are one or two perks.

I don’t think that I am necessarily an exemplary or well-qualified role-model, honey bear, but I’d be ignorant to think that all of the time we’ve had together hasn’t left an imprint upon both of us. Some of those things I hope you haven’t picked up from me (we won’t go into them now), but I do hope that you have learnt some helpful things from our time together…

  • I know you bemoan the fact that I am constantly onto you about a) chewing with your mouth closed and b) not using your fingers to eat instead of cutlery, but there may be a time when you are about fifteen when you’ll go out for dinner with your friends for the first time. Very grown up. During dinner you may observe that some of your peers are talking whilst eating and have their elbows on the table and you may feel a tad awkward watching them. Look, it’s not life or death, but basic table manners are an important social skill – and that’s why we bother to correct yours now.
  • It’s good to do things which aren’t on screens. I know you love playing on your iPod and iPad, but there are lots of things which are as, if not more, engaging, stimulating and fun which are not made of pixels  – like your hula-hooping, drawing and singing. You may even find that life is more fun when you lift your eyes from the screen. (And yes, I need to do more of this myself).
  • There have been times when you’ve encountered mean people. It sucks to be hurt and rejected by others, sweetheart. I hope it helps you to remember something that we’ve discussed together: we can’t change that person, but what we can do is to ask ourselves “what can I learn from them?” And what we can learn is to not be like them. To quote one of my favourite books, The Bike Lesson, “This is what you should not do, so let that be a lesson to you.”
  •  It doesn’t matter whom you love, darling. It’s fine to love girls or boys or no-one. If you do end up married or in a long-term relationship later on in life, that’s lovely – but having a partner does not make you any more or less valuable a person. You will always be loved immensely by mummy, daddy, your friends, family and I.
  • I know you can be cautious about trying new things, peach, but if you don’t try new things how will you ever find out whether you like something? When you do try something new remember to be kind to yourself – it’s unlikely that you’re going to ace it straight away. You need to practice and persevere. In saying that, it’s important to know your limitations.  I know you’ll smash the green monkey bars and be ready for the pirate ship ride at Luna Park one day, honey.
  • Something which I’ve learnt over the past six years is that perfection, in my opinion, is not truly attainable… and if something is “perfect” it’s probably not going to be much fun. Perfection’s pretty boring. My advice? Don’t chase after perfection – it will leave you disappointed.
  • You are wonderful just the way you are, my love. There will probably be times in the future when you wish you were shorter or you didn’t have glasses. You may wish that you were more popular or smarter than someone else in your class. Everyone has different strengths, Roo, and we each have our own character – that’s part of what makes life interesting. Imagine how boring it’d be if we were all the same! You have been blessed with a wonderful sense of humour and a kind, generous heart and they are things which I didn’t and couldn’t ever teach you – this is innately who you are and I hope it never changes.

I’m sorry for all of the times when I’ve been impatient or self-centred. (See: the list of things which I hope you don’t pick up from me). You are probably unaware of it, but you often bring out the best in me. When I’ve had down days I’ve been able to drive over to your place knowing that just being with you would lift me out of my rut. That’s the kind of person that you are. And I’ve spent the past year and nine months thinking that I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have you in my life. 

See you on Tuesday morning, peach. I love you very much.

Your Alexie x

contagion.

rain 02Image: Martina Woll

Monday.

I’ve let my entire week be coloured by Monday. Its grey blanket of clouds has permeated and spread its way throughout me. My skin, my lips, my hands – they all reek of Monday.

It wasn’t like something terrible happened. In fact, in many ways Monday could be seen as a success of sorts. But alas, I received it like an unexpected punch – curling up on the sodden earth as the air was taken out of me.

See, I’ve been applying for lots of jobs and programmes over the past few weeks. It’s been busy and fairly overwhelming, but somewhat exciting, too. On Monday I had a change of pace – rather than sending off applications I had two interviews- one for a job and one for an intensive exchange programme.

In summary: the first interview went well and the second interview went pretty well overall, but I made some undeniable stuff ups. And in summary: I didn’t get the job and I am 98.75% certain that I won’t be offered a position on the exchange programme tomorrow.

Despite the potential that I will find a better job and that I will almost certainly save a shed load of money (the cost of the exchange), the double dose of rejection has set the tone for my week: and it’s flat and off-key.

I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but I just feel disheartened. Why wouldn’t you want me to work for you? I get sh!t done and I bring in brownies on a semi-regular basis. I am not skilled when it comes to hula-hooping or cartwheels, but I can do other stuff, I promise.

On the other hand, if I had been offered the job and if I had really aced the exchange interview I would still be doing little mental fist pumps today. And today is Thursday. I would be feeling motivated and excited about life and really proud of myself, too. Which, if we extrapolate, indicates that I’m letting external forces shape my confidence and self-esteem…

But that’s all theory, and this is practice. And the reality is that we are here: It is Thursday and I am watching a bobbing ocean of umbrellas and hoods pass by me. The sky is still a monotonous backdrop of glaring grey. It’s been like this for days. Hasn’t it? I’m not so sure anymore.

I feel like I’m playing Stuck in the Mud: my legs are glued down and I have to push with all my might in order to drag myself over to the edge of this bog.

Bogged.

I’m bogged.

All of my energy is depleted from trying, in vain, to lift my feet from this mud. It’s oozing everywhere. God, I need a bath.

The muscles framing my lips quiver when they try to lift my lips upwards. It’s just too much weight for them to bear.

All I really want is sugar and hugs and sleep.

****

The street has been freshly doused with puddles. The empty pavement reveals the nature of its inhabitants – tucked away at their desks with their mid-morning lattes. Navigating my way to an unknown building I spot a boy. No, a guy. No, a man. A man is walking towards me; his face coming in and out of focus as his umbrella gently floats above him. A quick glance and then eyes turn away. Eye contact is impolite in the 21st century.

As the metres quickly dissipate, I look up. And as I do, he is passing me. And as he passes me he turns his eyes towards me. And as he turns his eyes towards me the muscles framing his lips lift them up through his cheeks.

And I smile back.

And although it only lasts a minute, it pushed away Monday for a few glowing seconds.

 

Alex x

Post-script: And now for some Gotye (of the Non-“Somebody That I Used to Know” variety).

Another post-script: As it turns out, I was offered a position on the exchange programme, after all 🙂