the cut of 2012’s gib


Last time I weighed in here (precisely a month and one day ago) I said something about making an appearance once a month, thinking that was cutting myself enough slack. Being one to honour my commitments, I have been toying with this post all week, pushing it forward in the tiniest of increments, managing a small handful of sentences at a time before being called away to more pressing things (usually involving milk).

Now I have exactly 20 minutes (or possibly 24) to wrap up and hit publish or this is going straight to the blog trash heap. So I may resort to note form, which probably isn’t a bad thing.

Tonight holidays end. Not mine (having no paid work to do for a wee while yet), but real life resumes first thing tomorrow. It has been lovely. It has felt like a holiday. There has been family and friends, some snatches of sunshine, road trips, kids, good food, broken sleep, books read (but mostly haphazardly dipped into), laughter, common illnesses and the day-by-day adventures of a small person who only gets more beautiful by the day (I don’t know how that’s even possible, but it is). 

Tonight there is Andrew Bird (who, I have concluded, is a very clever man and probably also ace at Boggle), much housework and unabating rain.

I think I have more than what follows to talk about. Like my backyard voyeurism (maybe next time) and my full-blown exposition on happiness (maybe one day when I have time to write at leisure). But it’s a start. So, for now, some unrelated thoughts.

On pottering

Nothing like a sleeping baby whose bout of shut-eye is about to come to an end to force some haste upon a hopeless potterer. (And the small hours ahead may or may not include projectile vomiting, but it doesn’t pay for me to dwell on that now.)  I had hoped that dearth of free time that comes with motherhood might have given me a belated dose of what in my family we have come to call forward thrust (a quality possessed chiefly by my mother and to this day woefully lacking from my, um, skill bank). But not so. I make lists, just like I always have. But I amble my way through them. I treat certain items as optional. I do the best stuff first and, because there’s just so much shiny and fun stuff to concern myself with — these days just an ever-replenishing supply of domestic distractions (although I may be using the word ‘domestic’ far too liberally) — the bottom of the barrel never quite gets seen to. I write down things to do like ‘internet research’ (which effectively = unbridled web browsing) just so I have something to cross off my list. I like pottering. I can report that motherhood has done something for my slow reflexes — all it takes is the merest hint of a baby-mewl for me to bolt upright — but nothing at all for my inability to achieve anything whatsoever at speed. Including, it seems, this post. So…

On Oscar (abridged)

Oscar is almost nine weeks old. He looks like a real boy and an old soul. That’s the general consensus, anyway. When he was born and we first met each other he looked up at me with an expression I can’t really explain. It said: There you are. Like, I’ve been waiting for you, and now here we are. There was nothing babyish about the look. It was entirely knowing and sort of wise. That probably sounds dumb. And every so often, when he’s not giving his gummiest smiles to a dangling orange animal of unspecified nomenclature, he still gives me the very same look. It’s unnerving in the best possible way. And he’s awesome. Projectile vomit and all. (It was just the once but it scared the bejesus out of me. To quote my brother in law, it was like he was spewing up a lightsaber.)

Sylvie’s still coming around to the idea of it all. And also trying to emulate baby behaviour (crying, coveting any available baby blankets/toys/transportation receptacles, prostrating herself at any opportunity) in the hope of being mistaken for a baby and winning back some attention, however she can get it. (As we [I] speak she has fashioned a hut by burrowing under Oscar’s play gym.)  Baxter went on strike for a bit and then, realising the pointlessness of even bothering, threw in the towel. Now he just looks at Oscar with all the cat disdain he can muster, as much to say, You again, you little fuckwit.  

On parking and grammar.

This note, placed under my windscreen wiper outside my house, kicked off our summer road trip. It was a fair call… I was pretty much parked in the middle of the road. If I had been able to identify the car of the note’s anonymous author I might have reciprocated with a note of my own, saying something like, I will indeed practise my parking. Perhaps you could also practise using practise as a verb. Note the ‘s’. [Smiley face.] Actually I would never do anything of the sort. I would only entertain vague fantasies about it. Besides, if my said parking manouevre had a literary equivalent it would be much, much worse than a misused practise. It would probably involve the incorrect use of several apostrophes, to instead of too and the word ‘alot’. So I didn’t have a leg to stand on. Plus I liked the civic concern. It felt neighbourly.

My father in law proclaimed the note “very Aro“. I think he maybe meant non-confrontational or diplomatic… or pacifist with the slightest streak of passive aggression.

On happiness and resolutions. Or resolutions and happiness. (Or just whatever works, really, when it comes down to it.)

I could go on about this, and possibly one day I will (when I tackle my aforementioned exposition on happiness). I made some resolutions. Not many (I can count them all on one hand) but they’re sizeable and just scary enough to be interesting. But mostly I just wish for happiness, for loved ones and myself and the world in general. And achieving happiness, it seems to me, is no small feat. Better than dramatic weight loss or life-altering upturns in material fortune. So as well as making my list, I spent some time thinking about what does and doesn’t constitute happiness. Because grand to do lists in themselves are sort of silly, especially when they’re penned, individually but en masse, just because we’re all looking down the barrel of a new year hoping that a woolly and yet predictable plan will see us right. Until all the resolve wears off a month or two in, just like every other year. Or maybe that’s just me being cynical.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to dust off the unfinished novel and crack back into it. So I got Lily straight onto it. I figured a two year old would bring a much-needed freshness of perspective to proceedings. She accepted the challenge, put my yearly word count to shame in a matter of minutes, and took things in a whole new direction.     

I wrote my resolutions down on my I HAVE NOTHING TO DECLARE EXCEPT MY GENIUS notepaper. I thought that was funny. I have wedged them inside my diary along with this month’s bills. I figure it’s a good way of keeping things real. Or at least making sure I can’t help but keep bumping into them. 


One Response to “the cut of 2012’s gib”

  1. 1 V

    I went to bed with the best intentions of being asleep right now, but am up again on account of a head cold and the noisy weather.

    So pleased to find this to read as I sit on the couch in the dark at 1.30 am trying to clear my mucous membrane. Quietly.

    Oscar looks exactly as you describe him. As well as a composite of your entire family in one face.

    I had a parking ticket like that a few weeks ago. Except mine said (on a napkin) “learn how to park dumbarse”. I was quite hurt.

    Snap too on the resolution! If you haven’t already, you should definitely read Jeanette Winterson’s “Why be Happy When You Could Be Normal”.

    A few years ago I stopped with full sentence resolutions and decided just to focus on a single word. Which I then also forget.

    One year was “simplify”, for example. I have a suspicion that 2011’s was “survive” – but that seems a bit dramatic.

    This year I chose two (new rule being if they start with the same letter, more than one word is permissible): “healthfulness” and “happiness”.

    So far, so good – snot-face head cold excepting.

    Anyway, glad to know you. And look forward to catching up soon x

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