Category Archives: Friends

Godmotherly duties

The invention of social media, particularly the Chat in Facebook, is a boon and a blessing to this particular godmother! It certainly makes the keeping in touch with my godsons a much simpler task than it used to be. It’s been enormously helpful in maintaining a relationship with them at times when it was difficult or impossible for me to do anything about visiting them.

I did a deal with the godfather of my godsons. He would do presents, I would do the God stuff… We struck this deal at the baptism of the elder godson, and reiterated it at the baptism of the younger. (My godsons are brothers.) We have, on the whole, over the last eighteen years stuck to this simple, but effective division of labour. We continue to reckon the other has the worst half of the deal!

We’ve had  discussions which covered such wide ranging issues as how to deal with forceful evangelists (the boy did well – I was deeply impressed at his simple but effectively direct approach), how to forgive those with unacceptable (to godson) world views, why are there so many different translations of the Bible, and why is it so confusing being a Christian. Mind you, this is the child who once woke me up at 6.00 a.m. to ask about the Trinity, because he was confused. I think I told him then it was confusing, I was confused and it was more than OK to be confused, and we agreed to carry on reading whichever our current reading aloud book was instead.

 

 

It is finished

The wallpapering, that is. Getting the old wallpaper off had taken up far more time and energy than I’d thought it would, and it didn’t get finished before I went back to work after Christmas- and I’d not been inclined to do it on any of the last five Saturdays for one reason or another. Sundays I refuse to do such things, and I’ve been testing out New Church properly, anyway.

This is a great relief. I’m not going to start painting over it yet, as I want it to settle and dry properly, and I’d rather be painting in the warmer weather anyway, but it does feel like the end of the decorating is in sight, as that just leaves the glossing to finish. Which may well be the summer’s weekdays not in work project! (Only one day a week this summer, though.) So, only a year later than planned!

I am exceptionally pleased with myself, because not only did I manage to get it all done this morning, I got a huge chunk of the half-termly thorough cleaning session done this afternoon as well, leaving only the kitchen to do tomorrow. This also means I’ve probably got a bit more free time for the rest of the half-term break than I’d planned.

So, once the kitchen is restored to a hygienic state, the ironing done, and the month’s Big Shop is complete, I am a free Japes, apart from the two days in work, until next Monday. I am going to the “Lost in Lace” exhibition later in the week, before it finishes, with a friend who is very interested in such things.  Maybe just chilling and catching up on sleep might not be a bad idea….

In which our intrepid heroine has adventures.

This going to weddings caper is quite exhausting…. Until recently, thinking about what to wear at all formal events was easy. However, the former way of life, and the attire that went with it being a thing of the past, this is no longer the case.

I spared you the detailed angst that went with the clothes shopping saga – at the time. I’ve recovered enough to give you the basic details!

The plan was for a dress, but finding one I liked within my budget, and that I was comfortable wearing,  just didn’t happen. So, skirt and smart top was the next plan. Finding one of each that I liked, was within my budget, that I was comfortable wearing and which went well with the other.  In fact, skirt was purchased! Then ideal top was found, but it did not go with the skirt, but it did go with several of the pairs of smart trousers I already possess. Skirt was then returned! (What d’you mean, I should’ve kept it?)

Shoes were actually easily chosen. But, they’ve been hell to break in! We’re not quite there yet, and I am glad I didn’t pay full price, as I seem to have paid almost as much again in plasters.

Then, with horror, I realised that the agony thus far described wasn’t over. I contemplated the accessories…..basically, I just don’t have any.  Nope, no handbags/clutch bags, no jewellery. So, I decided as I was only going to the church, these weren’t necessary. However, my work colleagues were horrified at this state of affairs, and brought in a load of necklaces andsmart bags for me to choose from.

Which I did.

No, I did not consider make-up. I have gone the last 40 mumble years without it, I am NOT starting now.

So, the day arrived, I got all organised, clean, dressed up, (feeling slightly not myself at all!) and contemplated setting off.  Walk, bus, train, train, bus. Essential items – house keys, purse, bus ticket,  train pass, A-Z of local city, certain items of a feminine nature we won’t talk about, hankies, card and present for bride and groom….. it slowly dawned on me that, like it or not, small backpack was just going to have be used (and shoved under a chair in church if need be!). This looking elegant lark does not work on a cool day in November, with two hours on public transport! It also meant I could shove the fleece I needed to keep me warmer whilst travelling out of sight. (What was wrong with a coat? Um. Two things. I only possess one, and it was at work.)

I had to remind myself I was not going to work, but remaining on the train for a further two stops,  to change to another train… then got lost went the scenic route to the bus station. It’s been a good while since I wandered around that town…

“It’s the bus stop before the Motorway Junction,” the church website had cheerfully proclaimed, which is OK, but not if you can’t actually tell it’s the church, until you’re whizzing past. Oh well, the buses are every 6-10 minutes, and I had allowed for such happenings.

The wedding was fabulous, and I met up with some great former colleagues… the coffee and cakes for those of us not going onto the reception later were a brilliant idea, and certainly much appreciated!

The reverse journey was somewhat easier, but I still got lost between bus and train station. Unusual, that. I normally have an excellent sense of direction.

I have definitely needed a quiet day at home to recover!

All things are relative, it would seem.

I do not consider myself to be particularly domesticated, or particularly tidy. So, it’s been a bit of a surprise to discover my landlady considers me a paragon of virtue in these departments!

Most of the four and a half decades of my life have been spent in circumstances where almost every thing I did or didn’t do domestically was commented on, or criticised.. at both ends of the domestic scale. There’s rarely been any moderation! I’ve lived with people who considered me excessively domesticated, and who were forever telling me to sit down and relax, I’ve lived with more people who have considered me a complete slattern, and would re-do anything I’d done. I particularly recall a period of time when what I did in the way of household cleaning was checked up on, as it was doubted I could be cleaning “properly” in the time I was spending on it, and my reputation had, apparently, gone before me.

It has, I’m afraid, made me hyper-sensitive to anything that may be construed as criticism of how I tackle domestic tasks… it’s not something I like about myself, and it is something I try to retain a reasonable perspective about, and at times, I fail. It’s led to several incidents of Bother this year. The Great Personality Clash of the past year started over an incident of telling me how things “should” be done…

For me, one of the  joys of living on my own has been the pottering around in my own space, being as domesticated or undomesticated as I please. Creating my own home, for the first time since my early 20s is being a real joy.It’s been a very big part of what has helped… it’s helped me to realise that what I needed most of all was a place to call home, not just somewhere I was living for a time, not somewhere I was sitting lightly to, ready to move on to the next thing, or place, but somewhere where I belonged. Not somewhere where I was creating a safe space for other people, but somewhere where I was creating a safe space for me.  Because, so often over the last twenty years the two haven’t gone together. In creating safe environments for others, I had failed myself.

It’s meant I’ve been deeply possessive of my physical home for a spell… I’ve not wanted to let other people into my space. Either mentally, emotionally, or physically!! Something about not being able to be at home to other people until I was home to myself… which has only really begun happening in the last month or so.

So, now I need to start the next step of letting other people across the threshold…

Well-meaning, maybe

but, I am about to scream very, very, very loudly.

Except, I’d probably wake up my youngest next door neighbour, (aged 1) which would not make me popular with his parents, as he’s not well at the moment. I’d also probably frighten the other neighbours, who are not used to noise from this direction.

So, in lieu of a good scream, I will see if I can explain myself.

I am on the verge of deciding to finish a friendship, because I am so, so tired of feeling I’ve got to talk more than I want to, and invariably feel uncomfortable with the level of questioning I get for almost every comment I make…

I’ve been keeping a pretty low profile for many reasons lately, but as soon as I poke my head above the parapet, this person seems to be there ready to pounce, to ask soulfully, and intensely, if I’m feeling OK, and to ask lots of deep and meaningful questions.. some of which I do answer, but others I feel are downright intrusive.

So, a few nights ago, it went something like…

I won’t be going to my church for the next few weeks, for good reasons, which I’d said as part of an answer to another question, so I was asked how I felt about it. I asked what feelings had to do with it.. (I really couldn’t see why I was being asked!) which brought down on my head a tirade of it didn’t speak well for the church I went to if I had no feelings about it. I’m now even more puzzled, as the church I go to is a perfectly good one, I’m just not involved other than turning up on Sundays and feast days, so genuinely don’t have any feelings about it. The fact I’m absenting myself for a few weeks doesn’t mean I’m not going to church – I’ll be playing the organ elsewhere. It’s an occupational hazard of being an organist without a regular organ stool to call one’s own. If someone needs an organist, I’ll respond to that need.

I don’t want to discuss my on-going inner battle about church with anyone other than the people I choose to, and it’s certainly not this person. We have a lot of different views about church, anyway, which don’t bother me, but she feels the need to debate it all to the nth degree. Unfortunately for her, I do not have that need, and what she may be seeing as showing love and concern, I am experiencing as uncomfortable, intrusive and interference. Any attempts at explaining my point of view generally brings on the wide-eyed, hurt “I was only trying to help” and “You’re misunderstanding me.” (I don’t think I am, in fact, I think I understand all too well what’s going on.)

It got worse over the weekend, with interrogations about a mutual friend, (which I utterly refused to engage with) and today’s final straw was an email that was blatant interference in something that is not anyone’s business but mine and one other person’s, and the matter is well and truly in hand.

So, at the very least, taking a big step backwards from this one is going to be necessary for my on-going sanity for the next few weeks.

Reflections.

I’ve quite enjoyed these computer free days, and whilst I am more than relieved to have it back and working again, I am seriously contemplating making at least one day a week completely computer, and internet free.

I worked better at my admin work at work, knowing I didn’t have the “excuse” I could finish in that evening. I also got on with dealing with my own emails, knowing I only had my lunch break to deal with them in, or staying on later.

I read books in the evenings! Maybe shutting down earlier would work better for me?

However, writing is also a relaxation for me, and I do write at the computer now. I’m also living on my own, a fair way from many friends, most of whom keep in touch via the computer in one way or another!!

But – and this is a big one, I am not doing a lot about making friends locally. That’s partly because I don’t work locally, and have been keeping horrendous hours. Partly tiredness, and partly just not wanting to make friends only to move on again soon. (There’s no guarantee I’ll be in this house for very long, my current job finishes in July, and by mutual agreement, but at my instigation, contracts are not being renewed. Job hunting begins in earnest soon….) But, part of this is due to the fact I’m quite content with the friends I’ve got, and the way I keep in touch with them.

Mmm… Maybe now isn’t the time to do any more major changes!!

Mysteries and Problems..

I could get deeply philosophical here, but it’s a bit early, and I’m not up to it, really.

But, when I’m being thoroughly interrogated by those who mean well, and want to know more about how I’m going to proceed through the next few months than I’m prepared to talk about, I am keeping in mind that I am “not a problem to be solved”, but “a mystery to be wondered at and grappled with”. Thanks to Gerald O’Collins SJ and his book “Jesus, a portrait” for providing me with the words to voice my growing frustration. And for giving me much to think about in a different way.

That hasn’t happened for a long, long while

But, it did in church this morning. I couldn’t sing the last hymn for the tears…

It’s rare for me to cry in front of other people anyway, and even rarer in church, as I go into professional musician mode when I feel tears coming on, even if, as at the moment, I am in the congregation. (For now, I’m a content occasional musician.) So when tears actually happen it shakes me up quite a bit. I had to go home to collect something I’d forgotten, so had a chance to recover my equilibrium before joining the coffee queue.

I do know it needed to happen today. Only I knew about it at the time, apart from the two people I told (or the people near me who may have heard me stop singing). It probably also happened as a cumulative thing all through the service, as if I’d been choosing a Significant Hymn/Song List of the last twenty years, most of the songs we sang this morning had meaning for me attached to them.

For curious minds, from the selection we sang, or had played during communion, or before the service, the ones that would be on my Significant Hymn/Song List included

  • “At the name of Jesus” (to my preferred tune)
  • “Lord, I come to you, let my heart be changed, renewed”
  • “The Servant King”
  • “All I once held dear ”
  • “Be still, for the presence of the Lord”
  • “In Christ Alone”
  • “I, the Lord of sea and sky”

Now, anyone of those on their own could well have done it, but the one that finished me off and left me tearful and shaky was “I, the Lord of sea and sky”, especially the chorus.

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

It just has so many memories attached to it, of youth occasions, of a funeral, of schools singing it, but specifically of a commitment I’d made that I just didn’t ever envisage disentangling myself from. Only the fact that it is becoming clearer by the day that God is leading me in a totally different direction, and has other purposes for my life has made me turn my life completely upside down.

Mostly, over the last few weeks, I’ve been very calm and relaxed about the decision, but, sometimes, it hurts. Very much. Today, it did that. Especially being surrounded by lots of people who are getting to hear the story, and who’ve known me for a few years now. But, I didn’t run away from it all, or tried to ignore what I was feeling. It’ll only come back again and again if I do both those things, tempting as it is to continue the seeming to be calm and relaxed. There are times for that, and professionalism. This isn’t one of them.

It’ll be OK in a while, though!

Just a city person, really!

I’m back in a larger city, and feel so much more alive again.

Or was that to do with the really enthusiastic “Welcome back” I got at church yesterday, despite the fact I kept reiterating it is really only for three months?

Or the fact both job and accommodation prospects are looking immediately much more like coming together in time for the end of this three months already!!

The last six/seven weeks have been excellent as a kind of buffer zone between what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years or more, and the here and now, and a good place to start sorting my life out, but now is also the right time to be moving on.

So, I’m off to sort out my months bus ticket, buy work T-shirts and get them embroidered, return a cheque book, deliver some post, introduce myself properly to someone who’s only met me once in a whirling dervish moment during a children’s holiday club session but who’s going to see more of me over the next few months, re-activate my library ticket, and wonder if I’ve really broken the washing machine already!

Oh, and ignore the piles of cardboard boxes! I’ll go through them slowly and properly another day… I’ve unpacked clothes and music books and CDs, what more do I need?

It’s all go!! Yippee!!

Góðan dag

Góðan dag to my visitor from Iceland. I have had a fascinating time reading about the Icelandic language as I looked for an appropriate greeting.

Though, I have spent most of the afternoon in sleep mode rather than looking for Icelandic greetings. Church is going to be somewhat difficult for the next few weeks, and I was grateful I was the organist this morning, and thus thoroughly occupied.

Thing is, the next few weeks are just going to have to be got through, and I can’t make it any easier for people who don’t understand why I’m moving away, when I should’ve been here for another few years yet. I can’t do any more than explain what it’s not about… especially when I can’t say what I’m moving to, because I don’t know yet. Especially when I can’t commit to anything other than a job that keeps body and soul together, and a roof over my head. There’s so much I can’t do for the next year….But, at the moment, there are still three possible options that may yield the right job and place for now!! I’d quite like one of them to become clear, sooner rather than later.

I think reaction set in about an hour ago! I’ve been cool, calm and collected publicly for days now, telling people, dealing patiently with questions, and e-mails, assuring lots of people “It’s not your fault.”

But today… I don’t want to be keeping that front up right now, and have retreated back into my corner.