Friday Afternoon Musings

I believe that things happen for a reason and that people are in our life for a reason too. I thought about this a lot recently. Why do friendships fade out, and why do new people enter slowly, and suddenly, you realise you are in touch daily? Why do lovers need to leave, and why do they come back on occasion too? Why was that perfect job given to someone else? We will never know. And overanalysing doesn’t help us to move on.

I used to write a lot. And when I say that, I mean that I wrote novels (60k words and more each) back to back between 2012 and 2016—18 full stories, and countless ideas that never made it past chapter 5. In 2017, I didn’t write all that much. I stuck with poetry and short stories, and I kept writing one or more poems daily until early 2020. I find it hard to write this year. As if the words are not there, or the emotions that fueled those words. And I can’t blame it on the pandemic. It is the change inside of me. Am I growing up?

All this reflection came after listening to an episode of the Podcast “What Do You Say?”. I mentioned it a couple of days ago, and this episode with Noah Kagan had some highlights for me. Fodder for thought, as they say.

What Do You Say?

Up until 2016, I was a housewife and stay-at-home mom. I had three small kids, a house, and a husband. And lots of time. I had routines and was able to set aside time to sit down and write. I was inspired to write, and the inspiration came from nowhere really. My life was so small, and I was living in a tiny bubble with almost no social life whatsoever. There weren’t many distractions. I dove head-first into my love for music and live concerts and discovered that I had some talent for writing good fiction. No, by far, not everything is worth reading, but I am proud of my writing voice.

We grow all the time, and life changes all the time. We adapt without really noticing. In 2016, I found a job at a nursery. I didn’t stay at that nursery but switched a couple of months later – and that’s where I am still today. I love my job. It’s not only an occupation, but it is also like a calling. And once in a while, I am fed up with the team or with my boss or with the decisions of our minister in charge of education, but ultimately, I love what I am doing.

If I had a choice, though, I would make writing my top priority. I was wondering if I could set aside time again, to make new routines and maybe set daily word count goals. But my schedule at work is inconsistent. Sometimes, I need to get up at 5.30am, other times I can lie in. And I love to sleep in. Sometimes I am done at noon, other times it is 7pm before I am home. It is exhausting. And then the chores are waiting and the kids deserve their time too.

How are those different thoughts linked? I have been chatting a bit with Gavin Simpson – Sourfish. And I listen to his weekly podcast, which was insightful and inspiring this week. Truth be told, we were following each other for years on Twitter and IG, but we were never in touch until last May (?). His enthusiasm and passion are contagious, I am learning a lot. And as I mentioned before, this episode 006 of his podcast was what I needed to hear.

Things happen for a reason. People are in our life for a reason. Life is a string of lessons, and we never stop growing and learning. Maybe I am at a time in my life where I want to take over more control again. I want to stop lamenting. And be happy. There is light inside of me. Somewhere.

I had a hard childhood and youth. But as much as I believe it shaped me into the woman I am today, I cannot allow it to keep me hostage. I cannot change the past, and I am tired of using it as an excuse. And I do—all the time. I want to stop that behaviour. It is the right moment to change for the better. I don’t want to be this version of myself anymore.

On top of all this, I still have my shoulder to deal with, and I decided that I will have a second opinion about it because I am in a lot of pain again. (I was diagnosed with bursitis in February and had a Cortisone shot that didn’t help at all.) There will most probably be surgery. And to be honest, I am scared. I was never at a hospital (apart from having my babies), I never had surgery, not even stitches. I never had to be treated at an ER. I am all original Cathy. I know the pain I am in now. It is familiar. The pain after surgery is unknown. But again, I want to face that fear. Maybe.

Furthermore, I don’t want to use the word “try” as much anymore. Either I do, or I don’t.

My mind is philosophical right now.

Everything happens for a reason—no need for any regrets.

And… if you like Podcasts and aren’t afraid of a Scottish accent, then, by all means, listen to the link I shared above and then go back and listen to the other episodes too. What do you say?

Memory lane

Today, I saw that an old post from November 2017 was read a couple of times – today. I am not one who looks at the stats all day long, but I noticed this because it is a special post to me. (That said, I usually take a moment in June to reflect on the first half of the year on the blog… Expect a post about that soon)

I remember that particular post from November very well. I remember exactly when I wrote it and why. I know what happened before and what happened after.

https://wp.me/p2ZT5k-392

It’s quite painful to read all of these words again. They were at the beginning of a dark and depressive phase in my life and I am not completely out of the woods yet. I have been fighting and struggling for three years.

Recently, I discovered that I am actually a mediocre writer at best. I keep repeating the same words and phrases; I keep replaying the same scenes and moments. And my writing became dull. Unimportant. Irrelevant.

There are many many amazing writers out there. There are musicians who write lyrics so powerful that they make the listener tear up.

I am not one of them. Not anymore.

Not anymore.

I am sorry.

I lost my most important muse and stopped listening to the music that makes me feel. It is as if I am overwhelmed all the time, yet numb too. It is as if I am censoring myself and hiding behind the mask of the person I am expected to be.

I am exhausted. I haven’t slept properly in four days. And I can’t do it anymore.

imho

Classic books or movies or music is imho often overrated. Maybe I am not clever (smart) enough, maybe I am too young, maybe I am too numb and saturated with books and movies and music.

But I too can appreciate some classics. Tonight, The Graduate was on TV. Not overrated or dull at all. Yesterday, there was a documentary about Joan Baez – the verdict is still out. Her lyrics are good, and I like the political edge and her engagement, but her voice – not my cup of tea.

Then again, I am not a critic. Never was. Even when I post music, I am biased. I will only share music that I like. I gave no knowledge other than knowing what I like and appreciating this or that technique or genre more than an other.

I scheduled a post that will be published in about two hours… 🙂

Until then, goodnight.

xx

Thoughts of the day while enduring the Hobbit on TV

I miss work. Not the colleagues, but the kids and the work itself. Right now, I am on leave because of my own kids. They have a two week spring break, but after that, they will need to be homeschooled again until May 4th. (At the earliest.) My boss sent out emails to every employee this morning to plan ahead and organise out next weeks; To think about projects and write down activities. As I am working part-time (20hours/week) at a nursery, I was required to write 20 new activities. I did it all in 4 hours, and thinking about it and the development of each child made me miss them even more. Later this morning, I received an email stating that everyone being on leave to be with their kids did not have to do this. Well, I was too fast, it was too late. 20 activities had been written down.

And while I am missing the nursery, the toddlers and babies, I am also happy to be home. I am developing some kind of phobia. I don’t want to see anyone; it makes me uncomfortable. And I can’t do video chats. It makes me even more uncomfortable. Once every week, I need to make a video conference with my two co-workers. It makes me nervous, and I hate seeing myself on the screen. I was offered an opportunity to video chat with Nate Maingard (musician and modern troubadour), I had to decline – with a heavy heart. But at this time, I can’t step out of my comfort zone for a stranger when I can’t even video chat with my sisters.

Before our confinement, I flat out refused to do these video chats. Now, I have to make concessions too. Ah, I am rambling again.

All to say… I want everything to go back to normal, but the thought of leaving the house scares me shitless.

How about you?

PS: since March 13th, I had three calls from my mom; before that, I didn’t have any news in 6 months…

PPS: the title of this post was promising, and it was followed by nothingness. Sorry.

Old wounds weigh heavier than newer ones.

This Corona thing is different for all of us. I admit I am coping well enough. I feel lonely but also relieved that I don’t have to deal with as many people daily. I am most happy at home or in my garden. I am not trying to improve or learn something new. I am just being a mom and taking care of the house. I neglected that a bit in the past, but now that we are at home all the time, I want our home to be clean and tidy.

I am lonely, however. I am online a lot, more than I already was before the lockdown. And at one point, I became obsessed with news about the progression of COVID-19 in Luxembourg.

I noticed something with my husband yesterday: we kiss when one of us leaves the house or comes home. Now that we are both home, the physical contact is reduced to a bare minimum. I mentioned it, and as so often, it was countered with a joke. You see, we laugh a lot, a big part of us is banter and calling the other out on their bullshit. We never fight, and it is all in good nature, but the intimacy, the physicality is missing.

But I also need to admit that I have many times when I don’t want to be touched when I don’t like the feel of skin against mine. I flinch away. From my kids too. I try to apologise, and lately, I began telling my kids when it is okay to touch and hug and when it is not. It makes it harder for everyone around me to know and understand that I need those hugs. They keep me together some times.

When I was a child, I was not hugged, not touched, and I was never told that someone was proud of me or that I did something right. I was ignored, insulted, and ridiculed. I remember a big hug from my grandmother when I was seven, and she told me that a girl from my class had died in a car crash. She had been run over by a drunk driver. I remember a couple of slaps, but what I remember most is the cold shoulder—not being heard or looked at. Not having a voice or being allowed to use that voice.

I was a timid and taciturn child. I was not really bullied but singled out for being the only kid with Italian roots and divorced parents. Add to that that the kids from school didn’t understand why my mom was in a wheelchair. I didn’t understand it myself, but since it was my normal; I didn’t know it any other way.

My childhood and the emotional abuse I endured left deeper wounds and scars than anything else ever will. It is the reason for all these self-esteem issues. For the depression too. In my head is this voice that tells me that I am not loveable and that I don’t deserve anything good happening to me. I don’t trust people and don’t confide in them. My mind is constantly working, but no one even knows the half of it.

When I was a teenager, I craves affection and attention. And so I began flirting with many boys and men. I just wanted to be loved and appreciated. And I was never short of boys who were willing to flirt. I had boyfriends and received love letters. My first time having sex was me being abused. After that, I took my distance from men and boys. It took a couple of years before I let anyone physically close again – he became my husband.

I am a sexual woman. I like flirting, and I love writing my more smuttier one-shots. Heck, People are checking this blog for those posts alone.

I am starving for affection more days than not. And I want to be good enough, loveable enough. I want to be funny enough. Interesting enough. Clever enough. Sexy enough. I want to be enough. But there is this barrier in my head. I don’t know when I will attain this “enough”. Enough is never enough. I need to feel love from other people to feel love for myself—a vicious circle, bound to leave me with a couple of new bruises. But I can take it. I can channel that kind of pain and pour it into my poetry and writing. I may not be the most amazing person, but my writing is often decent.

I am thinking a lot tonight. I was watching Gone with the Wind (1939) tonight and after that, I can’t quite seem to find sleep. It is 1:30am.

And with my thoughts going in circles and me thinking about my grandmother tonight, I realised that my emotional wounds, the one’s from my childhood and teenage years are heavier on my mind and soul than physical wounds ever were.

Writing this reminded me of Robert’s blog post. Pain is relative. Pain is not relative. Emotional pain is relative. Physical pain is not.

Cathy: April 7th, 2020

On that pic, you see me with no make-up and my favourite t-shirt. (Pink Floyd). There is a beer mix in the back, and – get your head out of the gutter – that phallic shaped thing with the colourful bubbles is a Galileo thermometer.

I often wish that I was a normal 37-year-old woman. But how does a normal woman my age behave? I am a bit crazy around my kids too. Often, I am dancing or singing or wearing a plastic crown. I write about music – a new review is in the making. I ramble about unimportant things. But if these things and themes and subjects matter to me, then they aren’t unimportant, right?

I just hope that my kids will be less damaged than I am. They know my moods. They don’t fully understand them yet, but they are tuned in to my manic moments and to my depressive episodes too. I try keeping them out of it all. Not to wear a mask or to lie to them, but to stop them from worrying.

In this Corona times, I am less alone, yet lonelier than ever. I am coping quite well for now, and I hope I will manage these next three weeks of lockdown too.

I hope you are okay and safe.

Cathy

After the night comes a new morning.

It’s close to midnight. I just took out the trash from the kitchen to put it in the bins outside. I intended to get ready for bed soon. But I got held up.

It is quiet outside, and cold. Freezing. The air smells like snow, and the wind is picking up. There were storm warnings on the news, but everything was calm until now. The trees are waving in the wind; it is the only sound I can make out—just the wind jostling the trees.

These days, I don’t like going outside during the day. I go for walks at night, when I am sure not to cross anyone. When I am in the garden, I go inside when I hear the neighbour’s voices. And, honestly, I am content in my bubble. I wonder if I am slowly turning into an agoraphobic person.

I don’t miss people. I don’t miss socialising because I get my fix of people online, without having to face them or having to speak to them – and let’s not forget, I (37) have three kids (15, 11, 9) and a husband (42) at home.

What gets to me most is that I am never alone. There is not a moment when I can be completely alone without anyone around. We are living in a house, with three floors. But it is quite open, and some walls are still bare. If you are watching a movie on floor 3, you can hear the dialogue on floor 1. (Same with phone calls and all that).***

Always having someone close, that’s draining for me. And I am living with people who I actually like. Still, it gets suffocating.

So here I am, leaning against the front door’s frame, feeling the cold wind on my face, breathing. Breathing in. Breathing out. Smiling. Breathing in. Breathing out.

For now, I am okay—ups and downs; the usual. I am busy writing; for work, for me, for others… I am listening to lots of music, old and new. I am even discovering new skills in the kitchen – and I was already quite talented there…

Another three weeks of lockdown are ahead of us in Luxembourg. Covid-19 cases are still on the rise, and people are dying every day from complications associated with the virus. Three more weeks of homeschooling and being mindful and grateful. I am a lucky woman. Nothing will ever be the same.

It’s after midnight, and I close the front door. Rain is beginning to fall. The trees are still dancing in the wind, casting shadows under orange streetlights.

Tomorrow is a new day, and we are still here, still sane and safe and healthy.

Goodnight.

*** you enter the house on floor three. There is a small open space used as an office (by my husband, Patrick), a bathroom with a bathtub, and two bedrooms. The master bedroom and my son’s room. Going down to floor two. Here we have my daughters’ bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower, a technical room, and my book/CD shelves are here too. Going down to floor one. Here is an open space living room, dining area, and kitchen with access to the patio and the garden. There is also a half bath and something we call basement (with the washing machine, dryer, freezer, many tools…) Our house is rather small, even if it sounds big. It gets cramped to live here as a family of 5. We are living on 139m2 (which equals 1500 sq ft). There is no garage, no attic, no basement. I love our home, though. We had this house built for us and moved in December 2017. It’s the first house that feels like a real home. I will grow old here. And that’s a happy thought.

Done

I am feeling… Weird. I finished the second draft and the 100th revision of my novel.

I should be happy, and I am. But I feel empty too. I spent a lot of time with the characters in this book. And what if I am not done? What if I should change this or that? What if I am driving myself crazy?

The very first draft of this story was written in 2014. I have been toying with these characters since then. I let them go for a while, and I picked them up again. I worked on the story, and I let it go again. But I always knew that the story is good and the characters are too. And now, after a week of intensive editing and rewriting, there is nothing left to do. I checked and revised, read the story, but there is nothing I could and would change right now.

I have an ISBN for a print version… All I need to do now is loading it up to Amazon. But I wonder… Is now the time to publish a romance novel about a same-sex couple? And before you ask, yes, there is a niche, and yes, stories like these are read.

I feel insecure about this book, to be honest. It is different than publishing poetry.

But overall, I am happy.

I did it. I finished my novel. 😁

draft_20200318

And as I am lying in my bed, I am listening to the world. It is quiet outside. There’s a plane taking off. My neighbors are doing the opposite of social distancing (again). A dog is barking somewhere, and I can hear other animals and insects. Nature is waking up. Not only animals are back, but allergies are also beginning – I am sneezing a lot, but once I take antihistamines I am better.

What will happen to us? I am honest, I am afraid to catch the virus, yet I am not. I am not at risk right now; I was not in touch with other people in a week – apart from the ones I am living with, and yet. If statistics say that 70% of the Luxembourgish population will be infected with COVID-19, then I will surely have it too, sooner or later.

I believe that it is good that we are forced to slow down. It is good for me and my mental health. At the same time, I am not sure how I will cope if this goes on for longer. I am just not sure how it will affect my mind. And there is no way of knowing. I was in a good place for most of the past week, with today being an exception. I woke up in a bad mood, and it didn’t really improve during the day. Sure, I got a lot done, and I had fun chats with online friends, but something irked me. And I have a suspicion what it was: there is no room in my house where I can be alone and on my own – apart from the bathrooms. Our home is not large, but it is not small either, and yet, I cannot go somewhere and close the door to be alone. The constant presence, the usual noises, the chatter, it is exhausting. Even if it comes from people I love. And I love my kids with all my heart. They are amazing in this situation, and I am grateful that they are at an age where we can discuss things, and they understand.

With the weather being nice, the girls are in our garden a lot. But even when they are outside, they get in to get this or that (cardigans, shoes, toys…); I am never on my own. It’s hard for me. There is no moment during the day when I can stop thinking and rest. I need to be attentive and responsible at all times. And it gives me migraines. I wish I were kidding, but I am not.

In a typical week, when the girls aren’t homeschooled, when my son goes to high school, and my husband drives to work, I sleep a lot. I sleep in on Mondays and Thursdays because those are the days when I only start working at noon (or later). I take long baths, and I allow myself to be lazy. There is no harm done because I am alone at home, and no one sees me.

During this almost complete lockdown, the kids have schedules and homework – all three of them, my husband works from home, and I am partly supervising the kids, partly editing my novel (10 more pages to go on the second draft), and I promised to get things done for work. I get up every day at 7:30 (I know that it is late, but as I said, I have the luxury of sleeping in many days). I have breakfast with the girls every day, and I turn my laptop on by 9 am. I am trying to be focussed for an hour; the girls are supposed to do the same. At 10 am, we take a break and go outside. There, we do a bit of yoga and other exercises. I want the kids to move and take deep breaths on their 15minute break. After that, we go back inside, hydrate, and get back to work…

I am embarrassed to say this, but the muscles in my legs are so sore, I have trouble climbing stairs. Why? Because we did 20 squats yesterday. It seems I did them right. And we all know that I am really out of shape and overweight. But, I am working on it—little by little.

Times are filled with uncertainty. No one knows what will happen and how this pandemic will keep dictating our lives. Maybe that is the hardest part. We just don’t know.

Stay home. Stay safe…

(This post should he called whining on a high level)

8:02

Every day, for years, I take a look at my watch (or any other available clock) at 8:02. In the morning, in the evening. It is very weird. Even more so because I am born on February 8th, and we write dates in this format: 08.02.1983

If I only knew what this means… Is it coincidence or a sign? Every single day!

It’s 8:06 now. It took me 3 minutes to write this post. 😂🙈