Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Unsuccessfully seeking hermitdom

Shitty self-knowledge

The two things I like best about la rentrée do not reflect well on me, I fear.

The first is alone time. I physically, mentally, emotionally require a great deal of it to function. It does not, it transpires, actually make much difference that my children, when you aren't asking them to do anything like dress or pick up their socks, or attempting to restrict their screen time, are undemanding and congenial company. Their mere presence is enough, like it alters the molecular what-the-fuck of the house or something and my foul, evil brain can't process it. This also happens when my spouse decides to work at home as he did yesterday: by 4pm I am losing my shit and muttering under my breath. How did I manage in an office? That must be different somehow, or I have just gone a bit wrong in the head since I stopped having a proper job. Anyway. I am a loathsome human being part 1.

I am a loathsome human being Part 2: la rentrée gives me the opportunity to Do Things Right, ie. acquire everything I am supposed to acquire, label colour code and align it neatly. Fill in forms in quintuplicate in neat black biro. Top up the canteen cards with ample monies. Renew the travel cards. Then I get to feel like I have achieved something and am also on some level a proper grown up. I don't know what it is: I mean, yes, I am a craven approval seeker in all aspects of my life, but I am not normally (ever) hung up on tidiness or order, quite the opposite indeed. Yet for a few weeks in September, I want everything to be perfect and I will do anything in my power to make it so. UNFORTUNATELY within minutes of me achieving this state of grace, entropy does its thing and my children do their thing and it all gets fucked up. Yesterday we already reached peak 'everything is broken', with many things lost, not working, forgotten, destroyed, instructions disregarded, appointments missed. I found this so upsetting I had a little strop and had to do three loads of washing and be allowed to watch University Challenge to calm down. My father was not a question this week, which he was last week to great familial excitement.

Soon, my desire for perfection will fade/be crushed and I will be reconciled to everything being a bit broken and late and shit again and I will stop being an absolutely unbearable person again, hopefully. Until then, I will be locked and bolted in here ALONE, lining up my felt tip pens and muttering.

Chinese poetry

F's current Chinese book comes with a poem a chapter. I have studied them with interest.

1. Good title

2. This seems to be a Chinese version of "think of the starving children in Africa"


4. I am maybe over-interpreting this one. Maybe the smoke is just from chimneys?

Or maybe not.

5. I like the Ode to the Goose

He had to read a Chinese book over the holidays called "Two Children Seeking The Joy Bridge" which sounds like a euphemism for something I don't even understand. The process of deciphering it was long and painful and I was involved more than I would ideally have wanted to be. The story featured a talking cow that said things like "Soon I will die and you can use my skin to make shoes," which was bracing.

Tuesday in the park with Oscar

A woman turns her baby in buggy round to get a good look at Oscar who is sniffing around in the grass, baby points in delight. Oscar turns his back on mother and child, squats and shits at hideous, unseemly length about 20cm from them.

A man is eating his breakfast in the sunshine on a bench out of a tupperware box. Oscar frolics up, rests his head on this total stranger's knee and whimpers repeatedly until dragged away.

A woman tries to stroke Oscar. Oscar feints to escape her, then pees on a tree stump just by the woman's feet, splashing her in ouipette urine.

Ouipette, bringer of joy.


50% This kind of nonsense


30% Imminent heat fear. It's THIRTY ONE OF YOUR EARTH DEGREES here today, which is hotter than it got all summer. We are all going to perish and then it's parents evening. Make it stop.

20% Sangliers on the beach



Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle, can I join the Loathsome Human Beings Club?
I'm afflicted by the same need for aloneness and get twitchy and irritable when surrounded by people for too long (even people I'm close to and like/ love, such as my family!). I think in an office it might be different because the people around you don't encroach on your mind as much as family members - and kids in particular - do, although I suspect if I had to work in an office with other human beings within sight, I might have to take frequent breaks to the loos just for some peace and quiet. I used to think I was like this because I'm a member of a big family and the best way to escape the constant noise and chaos growing up was to be grumpy and to retreat to my bedroom to study. Woe betide any small brother or sister that would dare to make noise outside my door or sum up the courage to knock on the door to ask me for something! I've carried this behaviour over into adulthood, so it must be some kind of a coping strategy. Nowadays I'm not setting myself endless homework assignments and drawing up ambitious study plans on my own; I'm meeting deadlines set by customers and drawing up schedules to see how on earth I'll get so much done in so little time, but the basic dynamics haven't changed.
I also strive to impose order on everything in September and my daughter's relaxed attitude to filing her schoolwork is a source of great annoyance. All those lovely folders sitting empty and all those loose pages crumpled in her bag, what a shame!
There is something very therapeutic about doing laundry when in a bad mood, isn't there? And surely we're entitled to have a strop now and again, after all we do all day long?
In other news, several chapters into this particular medical adventure, the last batch of scary tests have all come back normal and the kid is doing absolutely fine, so that's several less worries on my list! All I have to do now is get my work done during the day so that I can let my hair down later on at dance class. That'll do for today!

Anonymous said...

Sangliers are awesome....we call them 'humbugs' :)

Anonymous said...

The Chinese poems, the Chinese poems, I'm literally crying laughing reading them. The pavilions and terraces and the indeterminate number of flowers! Your poor boy!!
Is this a book that can be found on that website with the name of the most epic river in South America? I might buy it for the fun of it...

Waffle said...

Anon 1 - SO pleased about your daughter. Excellent news!

Anon 3 - Ha, it is called Kuaile Hanyu, meaning "Happy Chinese", which is a bare-faced lie. We also have a new story book to slog through. It is called "an old painting" and I bet it is crammed with laughs.

Aude said...

Chère Waffle,
merci de me faire rire dès le matin, quand je prends le temps de boire mon café avant de me mettre au travail...
(sorry, too tired this morning for english prose or chinese poetry).
Moi aussi je suis une mère indigne et un(e) ermite freelance = complètement décalée avec l'hystérie collective de LA Rentrée.
Ici en France, tout le monde devient (encore plus) fou, surtout quand il fait 35 degrés...
Je peux aussi m'inscrire aussi au Loathsome Human Beings Club ?!? En plus je n'ai pas de Ouipette ou de collègues sur qui me défouler à la machine à café au bureau, seulement les "mères parfaites" à la sortie de l'école...alors ça me remonterais le moral !
Merci Emma !

woollythinker said...

Card-carrying Loathsome Human Being here too. I am SO STRESSED by having my kids around. Unfortunately they are (1) only little and (2) not nearly as introverted as me, so there's a LOT of stress and mommy guilt. And then my husband mocks me for seeking escape in the laundry downstairs BUT CLEARLY this is the only sensible thing to do! I am relieved to hear of your laundry self-care programme.

Anonymous said...

Me too. Love my kids more than anything, but when stressed I give them such shit for just being their normal sweet little selves. And can't cope with spouse being around on his working from home days, even if he's working quietly in another room (why I am so intolerant?). Long for empty house, but when it's empty I miss them and feel terribly lonely.

Also stupidly proud at successful processing of laundry (filthy chaos magicked into folded clean clothes back in drawers), paying bills and successfully taking children to various lessons and appointments.

Favourite thing currently is to have all family members in the house but asleep (at night, not daytime, I'm not THAT weird) so I can curl up on sofa/in bed and re-read Armistead Maupin. Thank goodness I'm not the only Loathsome Human Being in the world.

just curious said...

Yes, there is nothing more blissful than being alone in the house, puttering around doing minor housework, with absolutely no plans for the day. We don't want to go back to the days of the traditional housewife, but once her husband left in the morning, the day was hers and the house was her domain.

GoodSirHenry said...

Oh Waffle, I'm so glad you're back. You've been missed.

Bytowner said...

Like anon 2, I cannot stop reading and rereading the Chines poems. Tears prick my eyes for the beans in the cauldron, crying out!

I no longer think of myself as a loathsome person for being thrilled when the summer holidays end and everyone is back at school. Now I usually take the day off work, and the husband and I go out for lunch. This year we took a nice little hike in the morning, and went slowly and looked at birds with binoculars and said things like 'wow I think it's an OVENBIRD!' to each other, and then had our lunch on a nice patio, all things that would have driven the offspring mad. And we did see 5 ovenbirds which made me very happy.

Jonathan said...

I keep flip-flopping with my own blog. It's like this creaking tower that's always been there beside me - if I walk away it will no doubt fall on me and crush me, or alternatively I'll fall into the pit where it once stood...

Anonymous said...

I hope the mercury is rapidly falling in Belgium. This poor blue-tinged Celtic blow-in has been praying to all the gods and holy virgins for the heat to stop here in central Spain for weeks on end and thankfully, mercifully, my prayers have at last been answered this week. The thrill of wearing a cardigan is grossly underrated, is all I can say. Being able to cover oneself with a sheet in bed, while wearing pyjamas, is also grossly underrated. Having the toothpaste come out of the tube at a normal temperature instead of in the form of hot goo is also sheer heaven. It's definitely the little things!

Waffle said...

Aude/Woolly/Anonymous - Of course you may join the loathsome humans club. There will be no meetings. We will just nod at each other curtly. From a distance.

Waffle said...

Anon - IT IS, as of literally one hour ago. I AM SO HAPPY.

Anonymous said...

Nodding at you curtly. From a distance! Hahahahaha!

Anonymous said...


Baby goat dancing on a pig!

Patience_Crabstick said...

Being alone is glorious. My husband and children went to Germany for a week and I stayed home to "take care of the dogs" which really meant watching the Great British Bake Off and eating toast for dinner. And, as a fellow loathsome person, I depart in less than a week for a SOLO trip to Iceland that I selfishly booked for myself last spring when life really sucked. I just hope I don't fall into a pit of scalding mud.

Anonymous said...

Patience Crabstick (I love your name!), go and have a brilliant time in Iceland. A SOLO holiday! My idea of a dream!! Don't worry, your family will have plenty of lovely tomatoey things to keep them going until you come back. I read your latest blog entry about all the things you accomplished between 5 am and 11 am that day and now I'm feeling very inadequate altogether so maybe you should take some time off so that the other loathsome humans can catch up a bit, OK? You need to balance out so much insane productivity, or the earth might tilt on its axis or something. And all of that BEFORE COFFEE and on a weekend? Good God!

Sarah said...

Working in an office is entirely different from having your husband 'working from home'. Hah, getting under foot and breathing loudly, more like!

Given you are spreading the tortoise joy, I thought you might enjoy this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37370818 #Experienced caused much mirth here.

gmail login said...

My cube at work is almost a literal pig sty. I'm starting to think it's an unconscious reflection of what I think about my job.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle,
Your piece about blogging was spot-on (as usual):)
Another promising reading suggestion, which I picked up for myself the other day and have yet to begin: A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride. I'm looking forward to reading it but a little bit apprehensive as well because Caitlin Moran said "Ten pages in and all the bells start ringing. It explodes into your chest". I was going to start reading it on the bus the other day but decided against it in case it did in fact explode and I started ugly-crying in public. Although of course maybe she means exploding in a good, happy, way. Anyway, I think it's quite an emotive book and the reviews are good.

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