Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Peace missing


- My thought for the week is that I am finding middle age oddly tiring. It's not tiring in the sense that working in a Nigerian sawmill or having a newborn is tiring, obviously, but the constant questioning of oneself, one's role in the universe and one's distinct lack of achievement, like the nagging intro to a self-help book, is wearing me out mentally. Is this just me? I hope not, I've convinced myself it's an age-related phenomenon. Anyway, the net result is that I can no longer sit in front of a repeat of Come Dine with Me without some nagging voice in my head saying 'what are you DOING? Your time on this earth is finite and almost certainly half spent and you are wasting hours watching a halfwit in Norwich put things in ramekins. What is WRONG with you? Tick tock, tick tock SOON YOU WILL BE DEAD'. I assume this is evolutionarily necessary on some level and perhaps it will eventually result in some achievement rather than merely a baseline of constant self-loathing, but it is also exhausting. I find myself nostalgic for the ability to lose three days to watching 98 episodes of Buffy (which is a totally worthwhile use of time, in fact), or to getting disgustingly drunk and then hungover and napping in bed whilst eating crisps. Guilt-free idleness, this is what I crave.

(Middle aged brain now says: why are you writing a blog post, especially one of those listy, pointless ones that no one gives a shit about? ACHIEVE SOMETHING. It's exhausting in here)

- The Massive Fucking Jigsaw is nearly completed (clearly the Massive Fucking Jigsaw is a totally futile endeavour; the middle-aged brain seems ok with that, mysteriously), but I am now 100% convinced there is at least 1 piece missing. It would actually be astonishing if there were not at least one piece missing, given it has been sitting on the coffee table in front of the telly for three weeks, being used as (i) a mat for tv suppers (ii) a tail rest for idiot canine (iii) dinner for the Roomba. I'm not sure if my fragile psyche can stand this disappointment. What do you mean, it's not even my jigsaw? Shut up.

- The dog is having one of his unfortunate periods of intense gastric disturbance and the rat has become mildly incontinent and the chickens have defecated all over the garden and I am the only one who ever clears it up, so basically I now live in a house of shit. No amount of Farrow & Ball can make this ok. If I devised a game of pet Top Trumps, currently NO ONE WOULD WIN. Except maybe the hedgehog, who is at least immensely discreet.

Somewhere in-between

- My eldest son turns twelve on Saturday, so I asked him what birthday cake he would like and his response was "can I have a large phoenix?"

"Well!" I said, simultaneously appalled and entertained at the prospect. "I'll certainly give it my best shot. Should it be emerging from flames?"

"No" he said. "You know, a Phénix."

The Phénix is a cassis mousse cake from the highly superior bakery down the road. My son wants a bought cake, because mine are amateurish and embarrassing and I am now entirely redundant. However, I don't need to try and create a phoenix from sponge, so yay/sob.

- My younger son passed his EXAMEN INTERNATIONAL DE CHINOIS with 92,5% (wonderful) but is not happy about it because he thought he could do better. Hmm, this is familiar. Welcome, son, to the perfectionists club, where your achievements will never quite have the lustre you imagined. It's a shame, because kid done good. I have tried to big it up, but he has moved on, with teeth clenched. Level 3 awaits.


- Thank you for your absolutely lovely comments on the last post, which were very, very much appreciated.

- My friends are funny:

E: Gah, people.

B: PEOPLE ARE THE WORST. BRING ME KITTENS AND OSPREYS. But .. possibly not at the same time? That could lead to catastrophe. BRING ME KITTENS, SOME CAGES AND TWO BABY OSPREYS.

This on the comfort of compassion-joy (it's funny, not some new age bullshit).

- I am completely absorbed to the point of mild obsession in Far From The Tree, which is brain-expandingly fascinating. Have you read?

- We had to go to the junior nerd science fair on Saturday for my junior nerds to show off their projects, neither of which was actually finished, indeed F's rocket project had finished on a roof some weeks previously and was irretrievable, a victim of its own success. The Fair was most entertaining, I tried some healthy, vegan, natural M & Ms created by some enthusiastic and earnest thirteen year olds from Ath, which were probably the vilest foodstuff ever to cross my lips, ate mealworm cake, watched super-conductors doing ... stuff and tried to guide the boys away from the sex toy expo which was happening in the same place at the same time, oh, the potential for hilarity.  I find the science fair strangely heartening, because clearly these nerds are our future overlords and I for one welcome them and their strange, mainly benign, enthusiasms that may eventually save our fucked up planet.

- Bought a Marcolini eclair this morning just because I happened to be walking past the shop, like some kind of unbridled hedonist.

- Frozen brussels sprouts thrown into large frying pan with hot oil, garlic and red chili, then left to singe for 15 minutes with the occasional toss or spatula poke, served with Beurre de Noirmoutiers aux cristaux de sel melted on top are delicious (fresh would also be delicious, but I, and my vegetable crisper filled with unspeakable rotting biomatter, know my produce limitations).

- Seeing Prog Rock on Thursday for another attempt at etwas. Apparently he spoke to the Natwest branch manager this morning who told him happily he had just discovered they could print the relevant form they could not find last time off from the Internet! YOU DON'T SAY. I'm putting this in 'up' because I will be happy to see PR, not because I will be happy to renew my acquaintance with the bumbling carnival of idiocy of Natwest, obvs.


30% fatigue morale
20% marvel at new battery life
20% grumpy
10% regretted muffin
10% nap longing
5% eclair anticipation
5% want to be this lady



Julia Ball said...

You are the only person that I "know" who has a roomba, except for Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad ! The little voice pouring scorn in your head is an age thing, I suffer from it too, lots of tea and cake tend to quieten it I find :-)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic description of middle age!. But you are a spring chicken or am I just an old person now in which case it's too late to worry about it all!

Waffle said...

Anon - I'm 40 in a few months but I've been middle aged since I was about 20, I fear.

Julia - HA. August company, innit.

Ellie said...

I am 35 and suffering from a certain angst at being about to turn 36 (wrong side of the thirties, ahoy) and the inside of my brain sounds exactly like that.

Marion said...

Don't diss the listy, pointless posts. Any waffle day is a good day.

I'm a bit upset though, I honestly thought the voice shut up around middle age - thought that was the whole point in aging, actually.

Unknown said...

I'm 40 this Friday, can't even celebrate (poverty due to buying a house, yes, I'm a first time buyer at this age) so my middle-age voice is currently not just hectoring me re. utter lack of achievement, it is screaming about ageing, death etc.
Re. Far from the tree, really, really want to read it, but still too expensive for a pauper like me, but I definitely will, as I have a disabled son (autistic) - BTW, the chapter on autism has caused some controversy.

nappy valley girl said...

Hmm, I just turned 41 and believe me, it is worse than turning 40 (which at least is a kind of milestone that can be used as an excuse to drink champagne). But you ARE entertaining us all, so fear not, your life has some purpose....

Sal said...

So glad you posted again! After dazzling us all with your virtuousity I hoped you hadn't written yourself into a literary corner from which it would be hard to go back to the dog effluvia and cake failures we all love too.

Oh god, yes, compassion/horror/humour is just how life works now I'm 40. From my darling old doggit whose back legs are no longer tigger springs, merely traitorous uncoordinated emcumberences which left him sat akimbo in his bowl with the unmistakable expression of FMFingL this morning...to the first patient of the day, a sweet muslim man with paranoid schizophrenia who had slashed his neck fearing he was the antichrist bent on destroying the world. His brother has grandiose delusions of being Jesus. Poor vulnerable guy.

The yay/sob was a beautiful moment, thank you!

Feeding strawberries to my darling Tim, the most adorable licky whinnying delight of a pony I've ever met, helped restore equilibrium when I got home.
Ponies solve everything and should be blanket prescribed as public health policy.

karen said...

I have a Roomba, and not enough floor space to run him. May have to trade the hoarding husband in for a new model!

And Buffy! We introduced the children to Buffy last year, and now we're alternating Buffy and Angel series. They've aged remarkably well (the tv series; the children are aging towards teenage-ness), but what really got the kids in was David Boreanaz, because they're big fans of Bones (nothing quite like watching decomposing bodies while eating dinner!).

Ilona said...

YEs yes am reading far from the Tree - but really glad none of my kids are serial killers yet.

Anonymous said...

Yes to everything: the fatigue of middle-age (in my case, I think I was probably born middle-aged so I'm positively ancient now)is compounded by the strain of self-employment and the resulting burden of responsibility.

Today is a rare day without deadlines but this only means I have no excuse to put off writing and sending a strongly-worded response to the delinquent accountant, who has officially informed me that (despite admittedly not having filed my taxes properly without my knowing) he will not in fact be giving me any refund or paying any fines or interest the taxman may wish to impose for his shoddy and negligent work. The taxman obviously doesn't care whose fault it is. I now have 4 (unopened) envelopes received in the last week that I will somehow have to prise open this morning and find out the scale of the fines. I'm already hyperventilating. It's as if he senses my aversion to confrontation and that I won't last long in a tug-of-war. The whole business is very dispiriting. Maybe I should invest in a giant jigsaw - or send him one with a passive-aggressive note recommending that he spend the time he obviously doesn't spend working on his customers' accounts on locating the right pieces and putting them together.

I think the fatigue comes from the relentlessness of being an adult and being in charge of so many things (and little people) at the same time. We have so few opportunities to drop everything and find real enjoyment, it's no wonder we're mentally exhausted.

I hope the 'etwas' works out tomorrow, best wishes to you and the inimitable Prog Rock, captured so well in your words.

Anonymous said...

Long exhale.
Have just sent off a very stern 14 page letter to the acct. requesting refund and tax fine reimbursements, attaching all manner of appendices to back up my case. Pointed out all his contradictions, copied and pasted in his own apologies, admissions of incompetence, details of said incompetence and promises to pay any costs arising from said incompetence from his multiple emails. I even sent it by official channel that is acceptable as proof of notification in court, should it come to that. Cost a bomb, but at least he won't be able to say he wasn't reliably informed.
I have also managed to open the tax envelopes (heart almost stopped several times but I'm still alive, I think) and am now proceeding to go the bank and queue up to pay the fines. Lalalala, money down the drain.

In short, Wednesday is being brutal but this sh*t is getting done, in between bouts of rage and panic attacks.

After this it'll be time to invoice customers in an attempt to claw back some funds.

I should probably turn to drink ASAP. I hope everyone else is having a much better day.

Sally said...

Far from the Tree is magnificent - very clever book.

I'm currently reading Gulp by Mary Roach (along with Stiff and Bonk). I read too much instead of doing useful things. Very good. Did you know people on average fart 23 times a day? No? Now you do!

I'm 40 in a couple of weeks time. And I'm living on poverty stricken farm, with mother in law next door, 2 gorgeous children, and assorted ill and scabby chickens, lambs and ADHD pony. You see? I sometimes yearn for your eurofantastic life with BAKERY SHOPS ON STREET CORNERS my god.

I'm coming to terms with the fact I'm NEVER going to be a best selling author, Prime Minister or GP.

Keep going oh master of jigsaws

Sally x

GingerB said...

I find middle age brutal, but then, I had my kids rather late in the game. Now widowed, I am concerned that when my two girls hit puberty while I get "the change" someone else will end up dead, and not in a lovely bookish tragic way. Doom is inevitable, one way or another. I have a Roomba, which I put away when it terrified my aging dog. Perhaps I will bring it out to see if it can suck up girl colored Legos and Barbie princess shoes.

Hey Sally, Stiff was excellent, maybe I will get a Gulp, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am 39, heading towards 40 and you sum up the existential angst and exhaustion perfectly, Waffle! Thank you! Ash :-)

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