Friday, 26 February 2010

How Low Can You Go?

The past few days have been a roller coaster of emotion. I have put everything into the interview for the wildlife job. I didn't expect to get the interview, and not surprisingly I didn't get the job either.

Yesterday was hell. I was stressed out to the max to the point where I felt physically sick. I was grilled and roasted by the interview panel and I knew I hadn't done well. They knew I was nervous and they also knew I didn't know all the answers. I fluffed it. Afterwards I felt hugely deflated and had a type of shock reaction.

Consequently, when I did finally sleep last night, I managed to oversleep this morning. So it was a rush to get the kids to school. Then, I went for a walk with the dog. Four beautiful, grey deer trotted across the path, followed by the dog. Pal actually came when I whistled - for about ten seconds - then raced off after the deer and disappeared.

I waited an hour, then gave my phone number to the Visitor's Centre and came home. It's been over three hours and they have only just called. Naturally, I had to have the requisite "irresponsible owner" lecture, which would have been OK if I hadn't just had the call telling me I didn't get the wildlife job.

So, now, I'm about at the lowest I have been for about a year. I am crushed, with no self confidence. I am shaking with cold. My dog runs away and my cat pees in the house. I have no money. I've had no heating for a month during the coldest, snowiest winter I can remember. And there's more snow forecast.

I don't even know what to do with myself for the rest of eternity. I don't want to teach. Classroom teaching makes me ill and will contribute to my early demise. I just missed out on the best wildlife job for me, meaning I would have less chance of getting any other post in the same field. Writing is fun, but so far no-one has accepted my contributions and I have no illusions about how hard that is to break into.

So, what does that leave me with? I really don't know. I have doubts that I could even get a waitressing job at the moment. Who's going to employ someone they don't think will stay? I feel broken right now.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

New Image.

Since I gave up my job I have cut back on things. One of the things to go was hair dye, an unnecessary extravagance (like heating fuel). So the blonde that I have had for the past erm maybe seven years has had six months of growing out. Consequently I had hair with dark brown and grey for the first four inches, followed by a line where the blonde started, and blonde down my back.

No, not exactly sexy.

Anyway, I wondered about doing something with it before the interview this week. Does the grey give me a distinguished look? Or do I just look neglected? Neglected won, so I decided to buy some dye my natural colour and hope that when it grows out, it doesn't show up as badly as the blonde growing out does.

Of course, when you're standing in the shop you can't see what your natural colour is, can you? I ended up holding boxes up to my forehead and asking passers by if each one looked about right. A pair of surprised looking teenagers finally decided that colour number 3 was right, so I bought it, hoping it was.

It took me a couple of days to get up the courage to apply the dye. This is not because I was worried about the colour. Far from it. It's the standing around semi-naked in a sub-zero atmosphere, while the dye takes, that I found daunting.

Yesterday, I finally took the bull by the horns and went for it. Thankfully, it has come out quite even. There is no line where the blonde had got to. It is however a bit darker than I expected. There's a lot more black in it than my natural dark brown.

Nick's description was 'Gothic'. I now have witchy, blackish hair. It may take a bit of getting used to.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Pancake Day.

Every year we make pancakes on pancake day. It is pretty much the only time of the year when we do. This year the kids all had a go at flipping them, some with more success than others. .

The other news I have is that somehow I managed to get an interview for one of those jobs I applied for. That, in itself, is a minor miracle. I am delighted, of course. In the extremely unlikely event that I get the job, it would be ideal - local, wildlife based, flexible hours, interesting work, responsibility, but not the level of stress that you get within teaching... the list goes on. Just don't hold your breath, OK? Interview is next Thursday.

Last weekend we had a visit from some friends from Norfolk - Jim and Sarah. They are lovely. I used to work with Jim in the Norfolk Broads. They stayed a couple of nights in a B&B, which was sensible considering how damn cold it is in our house. It's supposed to snow for the next five days. I don't mind snow, when I can get warm again afterwards. It's snowing now, and the kids are downstairs, eating grapes, watching TV, snuggled under a blanket on the sofa with two hot water bottles between them. Cosy!More teeth have been falling out. Donny has lost a pre-molar and Saskia is sporting the double gappy look that Eartha had last summer.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Still no heating.

Oh, excellent, just when I thought it was starting to get a bit warmer, we have another dose of snow. And not just a sprinkling: a whole blizzard, however short lived. The temperature has plummeted from 8C to -3C in a few days. Last night I crawled under two king size duvets with my hot-water bottle. I was wearing PJs, a nightie, a jumper, socks and a woolly hat. My nose got really cold, but the rest of me was snug.

It is arctic in my house. I have taken to wearing up to five layers. In fact, after spending half an hour this morning on my knees hoovering the permafrost out of my carpet, I put on a pair of jogging bottoms over my jeans. (My vacuum has no long attachment that stays attached, so I have to grub around on the floor scraping dog hair up with the end of the nozzle. Oh the fun I have...).
Mum's cat: Crocus

Actually, Crocus is an innocent compared to our ginger and white cat, Fergus. Fergus is getting a little long in the tooth and possibly a little senile. He's been around for long enough to know that he doesn't like the cold. So much so, that he's decided he doesn't like to venture outside to take a pee in the snow. He has taken to whizzing in the house, when there is snow on the ground.

I can see what is going on in his little furry mind: Ah, snow! I think I'll whizz up the curtains. (Looks for curtains.) Drat! She's taken them down for washing again. I'd better whizz in the grate or all over the kindling. That gives a good blast of cat when the humans light it!

As if I didn't have enough to worry about. The house is so cold, the floor stays wet for hours where I've mopped up the cat's offering. Getting the curtains dry is a different challenge.

Anyway, this week has managed to be productive, despite the deep freeze. I have applied for four jobs. Becca came up with an excellent summary of job hunting. I, too, am deeply unenthusiastic about someone owning my time, but I am also still a little scared of committing myself to the misery of constant negative criticism. I have a fear that any job will be like the last one, and therefore I am like a frightened animal, trusting no-one and preferring to run away.

So, how come I applied for four jobs? Well, I had a look at the sort of jobs I would have had a shot at, if I'd applied ten years ago. They are all in the environmental sector and look really interesting. I guess I feel safe applying for them, because I have been out of the game for so long now, that they won't even invite me to interview. It's a sort of backwards logic. I am looking for a job honest. (Phew! That was close!).

The really good news of the week is that I have been reprieved, at least for now. My blood sugar, it turns out, is normal(ish) and not spiralling out of control. The test meter I had was faulty and giving a reading of nearly 2 points above what it should. I have to say, I am quite relieved. I know the dreaded disease will get me eventually, but for the moment I get to live another day. Pass me that slice of cheesecake, would you?

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Eventful Few Days

I tell you, it never rains but it pours. It's been one thing after another here. I can't even remember the order things have been happening in. Let's have a think.

About a fortnight ago I had a conversation with Nick along the lines of "Do we have enough heating oil?" So Nick went and checked the tank and said "It's fine, honey." Great, so I paid for plane tickets to send the little ones to Canada with Nick next month.

All was well, until the heating fuel ran out. At this juncture I pointed out that someone had told me it was fine. That someone said "You didn't really expect it to last, did you?"

(Look of astonishment on my face.) If I had known the answer, I wouldn't have asked someone to check the tank!

Anyway, the upshot is, we have no heating, but the little twins get to go to Canada. It's a bit of a weird trade off, but I'm sure they'll remember the trip for longer than we remember the winter of hot water bottles and hanging out down at Grandma's!

So, a lot of the things I normally get up to at home have been put on hold. It is too chilly to sit still for very long, so reading, writing and watching TV is way down on the list. I'm only typing this because I have a plug-in radiator wedged up against my chair. I'm also wearing three sweatshirts, a scarf and a woolly hat.

Yesterday there was another snow shower over night. It wasn't a very large one, but it was enough to make the roads slippy. On the way to school, I made a poor choice and took the cut through lane. It's a couple of miles long and has a couple of steep hills (12% or 1 in 8 gradient).

Somewhere around the middle of one of these hills, I realised I had no brakes. Now, this was a fairly long hill . I had time to try my brakes several times, try steering ineffectually, decide to try driving round the bend at the bottom because stopping wasn't an option and finally inform the kids that we were about to crash.

Fortunately, despite the endless slide down the snowy hill (maybe 80m), I was still not going very fast when we landed in the Leylandii hedge at the bottom. The car ground to an undignified halt, miraculously intact. Naturally, we were at the bottom point and whether we went back or straight on, we had to go up. I decided to cut our losses and come back for the car when the roads had cleared.

So I reversed up and left the car. I thought I'd better move it, or the next car to slide down there would have ended up in my boot (trunk). The kids and I walked to school. At least the dog got a walk. I didn't take him out again!

The same day, I had a doctor's appointment. I have been putting off getting diabetes for about 10 years, but I always knew I would get it eventually. Being borderline, I have had a blood sugar test kit for years, and I check my sugars every now and again. In the past few months the levels have been slowly rising, so I started checking it regularly. They have now risen to the point where medical intervention is needed.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about the inevitable catching up with me. I knew it was coming, but that doesn't mean I welcome it. I know my Dad (who was diabetic for 36 years) just got on with life and stuck two fingers up to people telling him his limitations. I can't help feeling a bit like my life is over, even though I know it isn't.

Certainly I like adventure. Especially since Dad died, I have been trying to make up for missing him, trying to live twice as hard and fast, as though I can live on his behalf too. Getting a disease that requires daily treatment is really going to make adventures more awkward. Last summer's holiday would have been way more inconvenient if a supply of insulin a needles was required regularly.

Besides, I like to go off to wild places. Bear Grylls and Bruce Parry would be severely curtailed if they had diabetes. I can just imagine them paddling up the Amazon in a dug out, doing their piece to camera:

"Once you've skewered the wild boar, remove it's pancreas using only a sharp stick. Grind it between two rocks and sieve it through knitted vine leaves to extract the insulin.... Insert the insulin in an iawusca brew via a poison dart frog arrow..."

It almost sounds tempting...