Go to sleep, brain.

I often want to blog when I’m sad, but then I almost never know what to write and, if I write anything, I’m usually quite reluctant to post it. I just want it to be articulated, so I can identify what it is and then stamp it flat and go back to being fine again.

I think it has something to do with feeling torn in half by emigration, and lonely in the sense that I want to confide in someone, but I don’t know what to say or who to speak to. I’m a bit unmoored today. Tonight. Shit, it’s late. Why am I awake?

Last year, these things would’ve reduced me to a grey saline gloop, but now I’m just a bit… numb? and that weirds me out. I’m abstractly sad, in the same way I’m abstractly excited for upcoming events and abstractly hopeful about the future and also abstractly pessimistic about everything. I feel a bit floaty and disconnected. Lack of sleep, perhaps.

I just need to get out and socialise and try not to think about how fast time goes and how nothing stays the same and everything ends. Is there a pill I can take to purge myself of sentimentality? A vaccine against homesickness? Something to patch up self-doubt and stimulate productivity and social bravery? No? Well, shit.

Oh, brain. Why do you do this?

Things will be better when the sun comes up. Positive thinking. Sunshine. Bananas. Meditation. Family. Home-cooking. Living in the moment. Lucky, lucky, lucky. Yesss. Ok. Onward.

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Life Update List Thing.

Here are some things that have been happening in the regular life of Laurie. (Hi, mom and dad!)

1. As you might have noticed, I’ve been fuelling the blog with mini reviews of books I recently read, but I’ll have to start writing reviews for my not-so-recent reads if I’m going to keep this up. (Spoiler alert: I’m not going to keep this up. Five reviews a week is far beyond my blogging capabilities. I’m trying to write a novel, you know.)

A few of the second-hand books I've rescued from Amazon. Will review them. One day.

A few of the second-hand books I’ve rescued from Amazon. Will review… Once I’ve read them…

2. I’m trying to write a novel, you know. Yep, still that same one. I’ve moved on from draft 1.5 (never completed) to draft 2, which I plan to finish, even if it’s shit, which it will be, before moving on to draft 3. I keep making big, conceptual changes and then scrapping huge swathes of text. It’s painful. I still have a long (loooooong) way to go, but at least I’m feeling fairly confident that the major changes are good ones and I’m better off having made them.

3. I recently finished 3+ months of a temp job at a literary agency, during which time I interacted with several very impressive authors and agents. I learned a lot about how agencies work, and my “career”, my writing and my writerly plans for the future have all been shaped by these experiences. I am now freelancing, which involves far less money, far more need for rigorous self-control and far greater potential for emotional slumpage, but I am determined to keep my chin up. Having developed a troubling case of constant hip pain (x-rays were “not abnormal”, but I’m being referred to a physiotherapist), it’s been convenient not having to sit on an office chair all day, because that’s when it hurts the most. At home, I’m able to get up and move around every few minutes, which helps. Freelancing also provides a great opportunity for novel-writing and wedding-planning, which leads me to my next point…

4. I’m having a wedding! Never mind the fact that I’ve actually been married since March… *ahem* Circumstances at the time didn’t allow for much in the way of celebrations, but we’ll be making up for it in March next year, and then I’ll finally change my Facebook relationship status from “engaged” to “married”. Planning has begun. It’s not going to be traditional or super formal, but I’m really looking forward to it. Having so many friends and family members in one place at one time is guaranteed to cause an explosion of expatriate sentimentality.

5. More good news: I got my residence card! Deportation is now a distant memory for this legal resident. Water under the bridge.

6. Having received my residence card and my passport back from the Home Office, Luc and I were able to travel on a plane together for the first time… and it was a plane with propellors! We went to Guernsey, where we stayed with my uncle and got to see my grandfather, who was visiting him for a few weeks. It was a fantastic long weekend that kind of needs its own post rather than a numbered point in a silly list. Maybe I’ll write one. No promises.

One of many striking views along Guernsey's southern coast.

One of many striking views along Guernsey’s southern coast.

7. I attended a David Mitchell reader event, which included a signed copy of his latest book, ‘The Bone Clocks’, and the privilege of listening to the man himself talk about his work. It was incredibly inspiring. I sat on the tube home feeling both utterly inadequate as a writer and completely in awe of this person whose books I love so much. He was funny and charming and brilliant and yet totally normal and humble and self-effacing at the same time. The book, so far, is wonderful. Mini review to come. 😉

Beautiful, precious... and it was signed!

So pretty!

8. I am unfairly privileged enough to have gained two significant material items that have been pretty life-changing. The first is this little Macbook Air that I’m currently typing on. It has allowed me to take my work out of the house, thereby boosting my productivity and combatting cabin fever and potential depression. I’ve never been a rabid fan of Apple products, but the battery life and the build quality are very impressive indeed. I made sure to get the one with the most limited hard-drive space and not enough power for gaming so that distractions are kept to a minimum by necessity. I’ve set it up with my writing software and my novel lives on here now. I love this gadget.

Shiny!

Shiny! Finished off with the best photo I ever took of a squirrel.

9. The second item, which is really two items, is a pair of quality running shoes. It’s ridiculous that I have these, considering I’m barely a runner, but I’ve decided that they’re not just for running. I’m wearing them right now, even though I’m in the library. They are a lurid shade of pink with garish green accents and they are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I didn’t even know that my feet could feel this way. Not only have they been motivating me to get off my sad, lazy ass and run a little bit, they have also become my go-to footwear choice for any situation in which I can get away with lurid pink shoes with garish green accents… and, given my lack of opportunity or desire for “dressing up”, this is most of the time.

Awww yeah!

Awww yeah!

10. I have been going to weekly cognitive behavioural group therapy. Yeah… I wasn’t sure if I’d include this because it’s a bit awkward, but it shouldn’t be, as they keep telling us! I know that mental health taboo is bullshit, but it’s so difficult not to feel weird about admitting to these things. Anyway. I’m fine at the moment, but I was feeling quite shitty when I got myself signed up for the programme. I figured I’d see it through even though I feel ok now, because last year was bad and I don’t want to go there again. I’m hoping this will give me the tools I need to get through future crappy patches. I’m just under halfway through the course, and so far, so good. It’s not some big soppy tell-all situation like in the movies; it’s basically a class, with a whiteboard and terminology and hand-outs and homework that you don’t get rated on because nobody else ever sees it. It’s helpful to have stuff rationalised and normalised so that it’s easier to dismantle and beat into submission. Big thanks to the NHS for providing me with this service, free of charge.

11. The main cause of my “crappy patches” is, unsurprisingly, being far away from family and friends. I’m not good at making new friends and I have almost no social life to speak of in London. It gets me down sometimes, especially when compared to the relative liveliness of my family and social life in Cape Town. That said, the brilliant thing about living in a city that everyone wants to see is that the people you miss are quite likely to wind up here on a holiday one day! Two friends recently came to London and it was so nice to see familiar friendly faces I haven’t seen in months.

A visiting Jess, caught in a sudden downpour. London never lets you down!

A visiting Jess, caught in a sudden downpour. London never lets you down!

And that’s my life update list! Of course there are other things, but I’m tired now. All the images are from my instagram, which you should check out, particularly if you enjoy looking at pictures of books and food and attractive trees. Yep. Back to the reviews.

Reading (definitely) and Reviewing (maybe).

I didn’t read enough fiction during my years at university. I read all the set work (except for Ulysses), loads of classics (mostly Dickens) and, obviously, mountains of academic stuff, but I didn’t read much else, and I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. Before deciding that I wanted to get into publishing, which was only about a year ago, really, I tended to be ignorant of and indifferent to the hype around new books, perfectly at ease to read whatever was readily available, the Harry Potter books being the only notable exception. (I was there with the rest of the rabid Potterheads waiting in line in the early hours of the morning for every new release.) For the last little while, in between other reads I’ve stumbled upon or had presented to me, I’ve been picking my way through books previously long- and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, not because I think the Booker is necessarily indicative of brilliance or worthiness, but because I find infinite choice to be overwhelming, and picking from this pool narrows it down a bit.

I tend to be quite selective about what I read because I’m not a fast reader. It’s something I need to work on, particularly if I want to be successful in publishing, and I am getting better at it, but still… I’m not someone who can race through a thick book in a couple of days without a significant effort. I read intensely, deliberately, carefully. I take in each. and. every. word. If I miss something, I read it again. I flip back for refreshers. I pause to ponder. It’s a slow process, and yet, mere weeks and months after finishing the books, I generally can’t remember most of those details I agonised over. When I’m very stressed out about things, I sometimes find it difficult to keep my mind latched onto the text in front of me. I’ll be reading without comprehending and then I’ll have to mentally slap myself and reread all the pages I zoned out on. Awful things for a literary enthusiast to admit, but there they are.

Given all these things and that I am trying to write a novel and that I was/am/will be trying to get into publishing, I should probably start writing reviews from time to time, because that’s what the cool bloggers do (see my friend Jess Manim’s blog for loads of YA reviews) and because I have opinions! It would be good to channel all that reading intensity into an excuse for writing practice, and it would be useful to have my recollections on record, seeing as I forget things so easily. I wouldn’t care much about these reviews being useful to anyone and I wouldn’t structure them according to accepted formats, because I’m too lazy for that; I’d basically just ramble about my impressions. I know I’m going to have a lot to say when I’m done with my current read, The City & The City, by China Miéville, and perhaps that’s a good place to start.

IMG_20140123_110048

So,watch this space! But don’t watch it too closely, because I’m right on the cusp of a very busy and uncertain chunk of my life and also because I sometimes (often) give up on things before I’ve even started them. I need some sort of self-slapping device attached to my head that activates whenever I doubt myself or procrastinate or needlessly fail at life. I suppose that’s sort of the point in this post; it’s a self-slapping device. If I write my intentions here, perhaps I’ll be more likely to follow them through to avoid guilt and shame in the future. Yeah… Anyway.

Onwards!

Stuff happened! Stuff is happening!

Hey, blog! Stuff has been happening in my life! I’ve barely left the house since my last update, but still… stuff!

ENGAGEMENT.

Yep. My secret dream of rocking the boat by spawning a few illegitimate children one day has been crushed by a marriage proposal, which I obviously accepted because it came from this guy:

LOOK AT HIS FACE.

LOOK AT HIS FACE.

The event happened quite spontaneously and without too much pomp and/or ceremony (I was in my pyjamas and he used a hair-tie instead of a ring) as a result of the second point of stuff, which I shall detail below. I am extremely happy. As I was saying to a friend, nothing has changed, but everything has changed. It’s a weird feeling.

The customary ring pic. BLING.

The customary ring pic. BLING.

PERMIT DENIAL.

My application for a UK residence permit was denied because the home office feels that there is insufficient evidence that my relationship with an EU citizen is a durable relationship. We provided plenty of evidence, short of giving them access to our Facebook profiles and our mutual friends’ phone numbers, but these people are unbelievably full of shit and have rigged the system to make it as complicated, unfriendly and unfair as possible, so that’s that. It doesn’t matter that I have extended family who are British or that most of my ancestors are British. It doesn’t matter that my parents emigrated here with me in the 1980s and then moved back due to unforeseen circumstances. It doesn’t matter that I’m a hard-working, educated person who is enthusiastic about making a positive contribution to the country. I’ve grown up immersed in their culture and literature. I love London; it’s a world city with a rich history; it’s a fascinating, diverse, cosmopolitan homebase and a launchpad to everywhere. I want to be here. But none of that is of any consequence. I have been told that I have to leave the UK and they’ll only return my passport to me at the airport upon my departure.

We could appeal the decision, but we didn’t do anything wrong in the initial application, so we don’t see how an appeal would help, and we can’t afford the lawyers who could have the decision overturned. (We spoke to some lawyers and they agreed that it’s unfair and were confident that they could undo it, but the price of their services is just terrifying.) The appeal process can take such a long time that we might as well go for option two, which is us going back to Cape Town, getting married (because even getting married in the UK is not without bureaucratic difficulties) and then Luc heading back while I start the whole business over again: getting another family permit to get back to London and then applying for the residence card again as a married woman. More than six years together, four years of cohabitation, multiple joint tenancy agreements and utility bills (etc etc) weren’t enough to prove the durability of our relationship, but hopefully marriage will be.

We will overcome this problem, because Luc has a good job here and I’m not going to let him quit that job on my behalf. I will live here with him, legally. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. I will succeed. But this doesn’t do away with the bitter taste in my mouth. If it wasn’t for Luc’s job and the fact that I’ve met some really wonderful people here, I’d actually quite like to  give the UK the finger and go live in Canada instead. They’ve chucked a massive stumbling block right into the middle of an important part of my life and currently non-existent career, and I’m not happy about it.

Life goes on, though. I’m just one of the countless masses who have experienced crap treatment by lowly bureaucrats, but in comparison to many (if not, most) others, I have managed to get off quite lightly. I haven’t been persecuted or treated as sub-human (only sub-British), so I’m still lucky. Plus, it was this situation that made Luc rush home from work and pop The Question, so the 8th of January was redeemed.

OTHER STUFF.

I’ve been doing some online editing from home for a company that filters a huge tidal wave of assorted articles, and that’s been keeping me busy and somewhat sane. Since my internship ended, I’ve been terrified about descending into a depressed state again and there have already been moments when it felt like that was happening, but I’m fighting it off with work and with a part of my brain that I’ve geared up specifically to resist such a descent. Everyone knows that stress and depression are unhealthy, and I get charming physical reminders of that fact. Aside from the common back tension and digestive complaints, my skin also goes completely, horrifically haywire and my jaw problems become very intense when things aren’t running smoothly, and it’s just not worth it. I’m trying to keep my health at the top of my list of priorities. Every time I feel like I’m sinking mentally, I just remind myself how much worse I’ll feel physically if I let it happen. I seem to respond better to physical consequences rather than mental ones. Knowing that I’m in danger of losing the will to live doesn’t light a fire-cracker under my backside, but the prospect of getting even more spots than I already have does, for some reason. Focussing on physical well-being seems to be working so far. I also painted my nails, bought some strawberries, put up a string of fairy lights along the wall… little things, little things.

Edible happiness.

Edible happiness.

I’ve had a few good social engagements this year, one of which was a wonderful Sunday roast with some people I met through my internship. I ate delicious things I’ve never eaten before and introduced them all the wonders of the South African Peppermint Crisp tart, made with ingredients from one of the South African stores in Wimbledon. It was a very good day and one of the memories I’m filing under Reasons Why Living in London is Lovely which is still a bigger list than Reasons Why Living in London is Not Lovely, despite the valiant efforts of the home office to tip the balance. On my most recent meetup with my dear travel-blogger friend Kasha (during which we sampled some bread pudding with tea at a tea room in our local park), I saw my first ever totally frozen puddles. I found this very exciting. That said… where is my damn snow?

Winter is... here?

Winter is… here?

We’re waiting to hear back from the home office to find out when they’ll be receiving my passport from their secure location (what the hell?) so that we can reschedule our flights to Cape Town, far away from any frozen puddles. Even though this whole affair has put another dent in my career prospects (something I’m trying very hard not to think about too much at the moment) I am so looking forward to seeing my family and friends on the other side of the world. I’ve been in touch with many people recently, especially since the whole engagement thing happened, and I can’t wait to see some faces, share some drinks and make some new happy memories to chase the admin blues (or greys) away.

Love love love. So much of it. Onwards!

A really, really long ramble about mental health and stuff.

Most of this I wrote more than a week ago, but haven’t had the guts to post it until now. I still don’t feel entirely comfortable about posting it, but I think I should, so I will.

*

Getting the internship was huge for me. When I received the email saying I’d got it, I had to read it three times before I could believe it and then I cried a lot. And it’s not even a permanent job, or a paying one. I left my job in Cape Town at the end of March, arrived in London at the end of April and was then unemployed until this month. I didn’t expect the move to work out like this. With a bunch of academic achievements and a year of work experience on my CV, I was naive enough to think I’d snap up a reasonably good job shortly after arriving, like Luc (my boyfriend) did. After the first month or two, when I started realising that this wasn’t going to happen and how utterly stupid I had been to expect it, I started to descend into something that, I think, could be described as depression.

I’ve never considered myself to be someone who suffers from depression, meaning that it hasn’t been a prominent issue in my life so far. I’ve never had to take meds, I’ve never self-harmed… nothing like that. I’m lucky. I’ve gone through patches of seemingly overwhelming sadness, but I don’t consider this to be out of the ordinary. Conflict with people, relationship blues, the deaths of loved ones; these are things that affect everyone and my reactions to them are, I think, standard reactions; nothing that qualifies me to say that I “suffer from depression”. But the unemployment thing gave me a taste of what I imagine it must be like.

I’ve come out of it now, since getting that wonderful email, and I have a bit of perspective on the whole thing, so I feel like I can, and maybe should, write about it.

It was terrifying, realising that I was losing control of myself in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. I’d wake up some mornings feeling dead. I knew I should be looking for jobs online and trying to fix the main thing that was making me stressed and unhappy, but it got to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t concentrate long enough to read an entire job description, let alone write a coherent cover letter. I was stammering more than I ever have in my life. I was crying All. The. Time. Literally every day. Usually more than once a day. I’d try to get out when I could find the energy and when I did I’d feel a vague sense of achievement at having “done something”, but I wasn’t really enjoying any of it properly. I’d take photos thinking “one day I’ll look back at the pictures and be glad that I saw all these amazing things” but most of the time I can’t say I was too glad in the moment I was actually seeing them. I felt detached, walking beside myself, floating above myself, looking at my life as though it was someone else’s.

It got progressively worse and worse and I started getting a bit panicky, especially when the random crying became so bad that the skin under my eyes felt permanently raw and I’d find myself almost throwing up with the intensity of it. So I went on the internet and read a bunch of “How to Deal with Depression” guides and most of them recommended seeing a health professional at some point. I decided to do that, seeing as it would be free anyway. (Yay, NHS!) I made an appointment, citing my dysmenorrhoea as the reason for it and thinking I’d just mention the depression thing “by the way” at some point in the exchange. I almost didn’t. There were two doctors present during my appointment; the main one and a trainee. After getting a prescription for expensive painkillers that I had no intention of buying, and showing them a rash on my hand to buy time, the session seemed to be wrapping up…

Doctor: (perhaps sensing that I was holding something back) Is there anything else we can help you with?

Me: Well, maybe. Yes. I’m not sure. I don’t really know how to say it. Um. I’ve been feeling a bit depressed.

And then I started crying. Obviously. There was this horrible silence that seemed to last forever between the moment that the tears and snot started pouring out of my face and the trainee doctor getting up to fetch me an inadequate piece of tissue. While I was trying to mop up my face leakage, I started laughing and said something like “You see? This keeps happening. I don’t know what to do about it.” I was trying to keep the mood light and not make it more awkward for them than it had to be. I was already feeling terrible about the sky-high levels of awkwardness in there. It didn’t feel much like I was in control of the situation though; I was just watching it unfold like a cringe-worthy B-movie.

The doctor then went on to ask me a bunch of questions that I can’t remember. I told him about the immigration and feeling homesick and not being able to find a job and not knowing how worried I should be about my mental health. And then he asked me if I’d thought about suicide and I told him that I hadn’t, but it’s not really that simple, is it? I would never kill myself. There’s a lot I want to do with my life. I’m not scared of death (there’s nothing scary about non-existence… I didn’t exist before I was born and that was perfectly OK, so I’m not too phased about not existing after I die), but I am scared of dying, as in the actual process of becoming a corpse. I don’t like the idea of being gripped by pain or nervousness or fear in the last moments of my existence and I’m pretty sure that most suicides usually involve all of those things. Moreover, I would never kill myself because I couldn’t do that to my boyfriend, my family or my friends. I reckon I would rather trudge on, hating every second of my life and pretending to be ok for their benefit rather than hurting them by hurting myself… but, as I said to the doctors, I’m scared that if things keep getting worse, these might not seem like such big obstacles anymore. I said something to the effect of “I’m not suicidal, but on some mornings I don’t really feel like existing and I’m scared that one day I’ll wake up and I won’t care about my family and my friends anymore, and I won’t be scared of dying, and I won’t feel like putting up with this shit any longer, and then I don’t know what will happen. I came to speak to a professional because the internet said that that’s what I should do.”

And I was glad I did. We had a good chat, the two doctors and I, once the awkwardness had passed and my face wasn’t leaking so much anymore. They told me that acknowledging that things aren’t all right is a big part of the battle won, and a crucial step towards getting better. They gave me a form for blood tests (to rule out some physical causes of depression, I guess) and told me to schedule another appointment a week after getting them done. I never went for the blood tests and I never scheduled the appointment because I received word about the internship on the next working day and it was like lifting my head out of a vice. Within hours, I was “OK” again, and ever since, I’ve been thinking about this experience and picking it apart (as I tend to do with everything). I have a few thoughts about it.

Firstly: WHAT THE FUCK? Whatever I was going through was obviously not physical, because as soon as the problem I’d been fixating on was in some way eliminated, I got significantly better almost immediately. I’m still sad sometimes, I’m still incredibly homesick, I still cry some days, but I feel alive! Life is not a big black hole of pointlessness and despair anymore. I don’t hate myself. It’s great! The internship is not a permanent solution, and it hasn’t done anything to help with our financial predicament and the stress associated with that, but the change it triggered in my state of mind was profound.

This leads me to understand my previous state of mind as a sort of shroud of misery that I had pulled over myself. Surely if I had pulled it over myself I should’ve been able to throw it off just as easily? But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I required a change of circumstances in order to feel like myself again. I had pinned normality onto something specific and I couldn’t have normality again until that something had been earned. WHY? I’ve been giving that a lot of thought too.

It’s pretty fucked up how my self-worth had become so entangled in “what I do” as opposed to “who I am” that a four-month blip in my career path (if I can call it that) basically caused me to lose my grip. In retrospect, I’m ashamed of that, although there wasn’t much I could do about it at the time. One of the key things that kept triggering the bad spells was shame. I was ashamed. Having been successful academically, I felt like I had something to live up to. I wasn’t responding to pressure from other people to live up to their high expectations; I was having a problem living up to the expectations I’d set for myself. I think that a lot of people are susceptible to this sort of thing. We’re constantly being defined by our work and valued according to how successful we are in our careers. It’s bullshit. Ambition is good, but not when it starts to grind you down. Things aren’t always going to work out when and how you want them to. Learning to deal with that is important.

Feeling the way I did, I withdrew a bit from everything. I tried to keep up appearances online, but mostly I was just posting things into the cybervoid rather than interacting with people one-on-one. I fell out of touch. Not completely though. There were my parents and a few other people who I spoke to, online and offline, who really kept me going and got me through to the other side, even if the exchanges were infrequent, and even if they didn’t know all of this crap I’ve just typed here. The writing marathon in August was also a massive help, as it got my mind off of the job hunt and allowed me to feel like I had a purpose. And now I have an internship. I’m working hard, learning lots, getting out of the house every day and I feel GREAT. Exhausted, but great. Of course part of that greatness could be attributed to the fact that I can now say “I have an awesome editorial internship at an awesome publishing house in an awesome city” (which is pathetic, but sadly, due to the human condition, it’s also true) buuut I also feel great because I’m occupied and awake and I have perspective on things.

So, TLDR, THE POINT: I am now OK, but I wasn’t OK. I let a small amount of failure bring me really low, and it was a waste of time and energy and I kinda sorta partly blame society for helping me to get my self-worth tangled up in things that I can’t always control and don’t really define me at all. I might (in fact I probably will) find myself in a similar situation again, but I’m hoping that I can use the lessons I’ve learned to prevent the emotional apocalypse from manifesting itself in such a destructive way next time. If anyone reads this and can relate to anything in it and wants to talk to me about their experiences, please contact me. I’d love to chat and to help in any way I can.

Disclaimer: Obviously not all depression is like this. Everyone has different experiences and different needs and different methods of dealing with whatever they’re going through. I don’t think that my experiences are universal, nor do I think they are unique. I’m not an authority on anything.

Here's a pretty picture I took at Morden Hall Park with my camera phone. It has a sign-post pointing in various directions, so it's totally symbolic and shit.

Here’s a pretty picture I took at Morden Hall Park with my camera phone.
It has a sign-post pointing in various directions, so it’s totally symbolic and shit.

Sadface.

I tend to feel good on the weekends because good things happen on the weekends and most people are “unemployed” for those two days, so I feel less like an outcast and less burdened by shame. Today, however, I am feeling sorry for myself. Unjustifiably, of course, but so it is. I feel like a useless failure. Whether I am one or not is irrelevant. It’s just how I feel. I feel like I’ve fallen so far behind everyone else in the world that I’m never going to catch up. I feel like everything in my head that I have to offer is starting to atrophy and when/if I ever get a chance to offer it, I won’t be able to anymore because it will be gone; my skills, my enthusiasm, everything. I can already feel it happening. I am defeated before the week is even properly underway. My eyeballs are swimming and there’s a toad in my throat and I just opened up a new box of Sainsbury’s express porridge and it’s nothing like the old box. It’s like grainy, lumpy glue and I’m sad.

I’ll get back into the whole forced optimism thing tomorrow.

“Hi, it’s…”

I admitted to having a stealthy stammer* a while ago. It has been behaving relatively well for the last few months, but on Friday evening I had to call a plumber about a leak and I got stuck on my own name.  He had missed my initial call and then called back and asked who I was. People on the Internet are in love with sharing awkward moments that aren’t really all that awkward. That awkward moment when you can’t say your own name over the phone… that’s an actual, legitimate awkward moment. It was the first time in my life that I’ve ever had a problem with “L” and it gave me such a shock that I panicked and stammered horribly throughout the rest of the call, getting stuck on every second or third word, extending random syllables, scrambling to find alternative words, and flapping around like a fish out of water during the awkward, extended pauses.

I hope that this won’t become a recurring issue, because if that does happen, any potential future job interviews are going to be very weird for the person interviewing me. I don’t want to have to announce my stammer before I start; I’ve never had to do that before, because it’s never been severe enough or consistent enough, but if it’s ever as bad as it was during that phone call, I’ll have to. There’s no way anyone would employ me without understanding why I can’t answer basic questions because of the particular sounds involved in the necessary vocabulary. I still almost never talk about or admit to this problem in person, even with people who know about it. I find it really embarrassing and I don’t like to bring it up. Most of the people who know about it won’t ever hear it at its worst anyway, because they don’t make me nervous and so it doesn’t happen much when I’m with them.

So. That happened. Not a major event, but I felt the need to write it out. It’s been lingering around my head all weekend. Apart from this, my weekend was pretty amazing. I’ll write another post about that.

* I initially referred to it as a “stutter”, but in a subsequent post, I decided that “stammer” was a more appropriate term.