Saturday, 21 February 2015

An Update

I have been completely on my own in the house for last week (it is half term and everyone has gone skiing, freaks). I had high hopes for this time as an uninterrupted sabbatical of white hot creativity.

Now, I have done some work. I had a bit of legal work to do too, so I did that too, but mainly I sat grimly in front of my .. whatever you'd call it ("shite" has been my preferred term over the past week) and tried to make it better. When I got stuck, I watched Grey's Anatomy on Amazon Prime, to which I accidentally subscribe (free next-day delivery doesn't apply in Belgium, so I am paying 75 quid to give my son access to back episodes of Top Gear, basically). So far I have watched 2.5 series of between 22 and 24 40-minute episodes of this utterly ludicrous medical drama which gives you some idea of how well the work has been going. In my defence I have not actually left the house except to walk the dog, so there have been a lot of potential getting stuck hours. I have made some progress. (I have to put that because my editor reads this. This is also why I am not here every day, wailing incoherently at you.) I could probably also clip an aortic aneurysm pretty competently too, so there's that (I totally couldn't, I've read Do No Harm).

During the week I have become progressively weirder as is usually the case when I spend prolonged periods alone. I long for this time, then when it comes around, it turns out I can't really hack it. I get bored with food preparation after about 36 hours and only eat things you can put on toast or which can be delivered by obliging Belgians on mopeds. I have insanely long baths with oils with weird names whilst reading so many domestic noir thrillers I have started to believe I have probably killed someone with a 5L tin of Farrow & Ball Elephant's Breath. My aesthetics default to "that old woman in the village everyone is scared of". This time round, I have developed an unhealthy relationship with my furry slippers and an even unhealthier relationship with the dog, who has decided he is now allowed to sit in my office staring at me every minute of every day, except for the odd thirty seconds he takes to luxuriantly lick his genitals. I have been picking at tiny blemishes on my face until they become vast wounds that I then have to repair with Laura Mercier products. When the neighbour has one of his episodes and starts shouting ENCUL√Č repeatedly I have considered joining in. 

ANYWAY. That is not the point of this story. The point of this story is the following: yesterday I got one of those pieces of paper the postman leaves you saying I had a registered envoi (this ambiguity is important). Firstly I was furious because I HAVE NOT LEFT THE HOUSE FOR DAYS, so of course I was there at 10:41 when you purportedly rang the bell, you duplicitous post-bastard. But then secondly, I entered a state of demented anxiety. What could it be? I ran through the options over and over again in my head.

Options:

- Someone I have written about trying to sue me (I genuinely gave this credence for many many hours, even though I mainly write gushingly complimentary hotel and restaurant reviews. I actually thought that perhaps someone was suing me because I spelled their name wrong in my food truck article. I am a lawyer. Just imagine if I was still employed as a lawyer! On second thoughts, best not imagine that.)

- Tax investigation.

- Other Bad Thing I Could Not Even Imagine. Perhaps those dreams where I am trying to dispose of a corpse are actual real, suppressed memories. Perhaps I .. I dunno. Fleeced widows and orphans and gave their money to ISIS. Killed a man just to watch him die. Killed a GOAT just to watch it die. Something terrible.

From 4pm yesterday I entered a state of total all-consuming anxiety from which not Grey's Anatomy nor red wine, nor Aromatherapy Associates "Inner Strength" oil (I chose this one carefully from my box of mini oils, since it seemed more practically useful than "Deep Relax", tempting as that state sounded) could extract me. I bargained with a deity I did not believe in. "I WILL GIVE UP EVERYTHING," I told him/her. "GOATS, WRITING, MALTEASTER BUNNIES if this can just be an overdue bill. Please let it be an overdue bill (for less than €1000, ideally, thx)." I did not sleep.

This morning, my heart was beating at approximately 700 bpm and I sat hunched in misery, waiting for 10am for the Post Office to open. I read several long scholarly articles in the LRB that I did not understand (not sure if this was due to their complexity or my raddled state). The minutes passed agonisingly slowly. "Most things that arrive by registered letter can be resolved by money," I told myself. Then I tried to work out how much I could raise by selling all my paintings. I considered the black market for human organs.

Finally, 10am arrived and I ran to the Post Office. I cried as I ran. Actually cried. I reached the Post Office, snotty and miserable and took a ticket and waited, then I went to the desk and showed them my passport and signed my name and waited again, with dread in my heart.

This is what the woman brought back:



A FUCKING RUBIK'S CUBE. AND 20ML OF "CUBE LUBE".

So that is how it is going, for the kind people who have emailed and asked and sent me pictures of capybaras in hot springs (oh, to be a capybara at the Saitama Children's Zoo). Really great. Now I must go and do some work, because the family will be back in 2 hours and I have just wasted 18 hours promising to forswear goats because of a Rubik's Cube.

39 comments:

Emmyloucarey said...

Grey's Anatomy is televisual crack. You just have to get it finished as soon as you can then move on with your life.

ps - I did not know you had a reading page until this morning. This is going to break me, BREAK ME.

Patience_Crabstick said...

Oh my goodness. I'm glad nobody is trying to sue you. I'm also struck by the fact that the post office in Belgium doesn't open until 10:00 am.

blackbird said...

My MIL is addicted to Grey's Anatomy.
You've given me great insight.

ellen kirkendall said...

Greg's Anatomy is clearly rotting your brain. Wishing you better days and more pleasing mail.

Anonymous said...

As someone who also lives in Belgium, I think it is entirely reasonable to essentially hyperventilate about unexpected registered post. I hate it.

CJ said...

I'm exactly the same with long periods alone. I think it will be some amazingly productive time and I'll be all organised and efficient and well put together, but I end up feeling out of sorts and slobbish. I had no idea you could get cube lube, I shall be on the lookout for it now, it's what my life is missing. I had considered watching Grey's Anatomy but I will try and avoid it now, thanks for the heads up. CJ xx

Loretta a/k/a Mrs. Pom said...

I just laughed out loud - and woke my dog, he who also stares at me whilst I try to write. It was a laugh of total empathy as your panic attack is exactly what I would have done, but first would have presumably put every living being around me into the same total panic state.

Do you suppose it is a condition of former lawyers turned creatives? Though, actually I only pretend I am a former lawyer outside of the 60 hours a week I am one.

ganching said...

I first experienced the horror of the registered letter while at university. If you missed deadlines for the handing in of work they sent you a horrible brown envelope. Now when I receive one I always assume it is my place of employment informing me that I am in the process of being sacked.

(I miss your more regular posting.)

Dale said...

Ahhhhhhhhh, that nefarious and unsettling practice of the Belgian postmen: leaving a piece of paper to tell you that you were not at home when you damn well WERE! I know it well. It rattles my sense of reality, and then almost always turns out to be something one did not want anyway.
On the plane back from Italy I read your food truck article, which I very much enjoyed. It must have been quite a bit of work however. Since you had not been writing here it was nice to find you there.

Hirsch said...

All too true about Belgian postmen. The same can be said of Belgian policewomen, Belgian party guests and Belgians in general, I think.
Helps to od on beer/wine (should that / be a +?) and fall in the street and break a front tooth. I'm now waiting to go through the horror of a dental implant in Belgium. Anyone got wine?

Anonymous said...

I totally and absolutely love you, my dear Waffle. I was so happy to see a new post.

You have managed to make me laugh out loud and I'm not in a particularly cheery mood. I totally empathise about the mysterious delivery slips, I really hate the anticipation. Every time I've been to the PO to pick up something for the last year and a bit it has been yet another tax fine for having submitted some particular form on the wrong date. Remember the reluctant accountant story? Every new fine comes with various bits of paper that have to be taken to the bank, stamped and paid before a certain date. I'm ashamed to say that the last one I received languished at the bottom of a "general mess bag" full of various things I swept off my desk one day and never got around to organising. This pretty much guarantees I should be receiving another one in the next few days for having paid that one so late.

Kimberly said...

I've been bingewatching Friends on Netflix. I know I'm getting up there in years because I see nothing dated about how they dress. It all looks very trendy and sensible to me.

I live in an apartment building in the US, and the postman doesn't even bother to come to our apartment to drop things off. He leaves a note in our box on the first floor and we have to chase the packages down. I, too, have had moments of panic and been enraged when it's something stupid.

Alan said...

Whilst it would be dreadful to learn that you had indeed killed somebody with a 5L tin of Farrow & Ball Elephant's Breath, you might find some solace in the fact that you gave them a lovely finish.

Tinne from Tantrums & Tomatoes said...

Don't you just hate it when the postman abuses his power over your mental health.

scunder said...

Last time I received the Postal note of doom ( inverslely I like to suddenly duck behind the sofa when I see the postman just to wind him up, and so that he doesn't catch me in my disgusting dressing gown at 2 in the afternoon obv) it turned out to be a Christmas card with no stamp from my bloody sister. Meh!

√Čireann said...

I have that exact panic when I get those slips! And I am ALWAYS home when the postbastard delivers them. He did, however, bring my very nice box of Pit&Pit things today, so now I can make more almond cakes.

Place to stand... said...

My 'alone time' luxury is White Company sheets - beautifully washed and ironed - not by me Im useless. The Times in bed - good coffee. Flowers. Black labrador. Manky pond round the corner with decaying all sorts. Small window of cleanness.

You could always tell the nice Rubik's cube people you are colour blind ?

Very much enjoying the blog.

Nimble said...

Perhaps you should float some lemons and oranges in your bath like the capybaras. They do look very relaxed. I like how they do everything all together. "Oh, Joe's getting in the tub. Let's all get in the tub! I see Joe's getting out of the tub. Guess it's time to go. Let's all follow Joe!"

Here's to a routine that includes some light human contact. And to finishing lots of work. And death to February!

Xtreme English said...

my best pal is going to Korea for 10 days, and when she returns, her husband is taking her to Belgium for 10 days. Woddya think??

deborah said...

*cough* just checking you are still with us and not curled up in your mail box, waiting to pounce on the post man after all.

Anonymous said...

Waffle? You still there?

Betty M said...

Hopefully life is less gloomy now?

Anonymous said...

Missing your posts now that they're not so regular. :(
Hope all is well. Happy Easter!

connie said...

Hope all well Emma. Missing your posts.

cyn said...

you are missed

Liz said...

I'm hoping you are busy writing The Book, but please come out of hibernation sometime and confirm whether you did, in fact, have anything to do with the escaped zebras running around Brussels today.

Lucy @ A Natural Interlude said...

You have an Owl as a namesake! I am eternally jealous whilst at the same time brimming with glee that you found her. How thoroughly appropriate. For anyone reading this comment who hasn't seen your instagram postings, I'm not mad, honestly ;o)!

J. said...

WAFFLE. Where you at, girl?

BDM said...

Waffle withdrawal is AWFUL! Hope you are back soon!

Anonymous said...

*the sound of crickets*

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
Having recently travelled to Bruxelles for work, I found myself smiling like an idiot just at the thought of you going about your everyday life under the same cloudy sky///I hope that doesn't come across the wrong way, it was a genuinely warm feeling, a weird kind of kinship despite not ever having contacted you except anonymously on the pages of your blog. I hope all is well and greatly look forward to your book (no pressure, eh?!;)).
A hundred thousand blessings on you from afar!

Waffle said...

You are all so lovely. I am nearly finished. Last month! Handing in in a matter of days! (ps what the fuck is this "select a steak" word verification nonsense)

Sylvi said...

That's the best news I've had in a long time. (Well, apart from my girlfriend's surgery going well.) I hope this means you will be posting again. Very often!
Oh, and I look forward to buying your book!

Renia Edwards said...

Yay!! Will be doing a book countdown!!

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Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
Make a little bonfire with the post-its when you're finished with them and dance around it or something.
Your book is going to be AMAZING!!
The reCAPTCHA thingy asked me to click on all the wine. Sounds like a great plan for the evening.
Soldier on, you're nearly there now! :)

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