Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….


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WHAT A WASTE! WHAT A WASTE! BUT THE WORLD DON’T MIND

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So.  The time has come for me to seek some kind of paid work, and like the little chicken shit I am, instead of grasping the nettle and looking for something that I could love and/or where I could do some good, I emailed my CV to a marketing agency.

They called me.

Without even thinking, as soon as I knew who it was, I stood up (adds energy to your voice y’know), paced the room and, as if possessed by the ghost of Steve Jobs, this….this wanky tone of voice emitted from my mouth and I started banging on about prestigious companies, transferable skills, FMCG, blue chip whatsits, marketing sweet spots, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, bleugh.

My poor, horrified soul drummed its little fists against my brain crying ‘Please stop, please for the love of God, who is this person!’ but I’d started so I had to finish lest the entire industry find out that I’m totally loopy; that said I did vaguely register that something was wrong and curtailed the call as soon as respectably possible, and then, realising what I had done, sat down clutching my head in my hands with horror.

All I could think was ‘I HATE myself!’

I had spent more than a decade pretending to be someone I’m not, to the point of being pushed to total breakdown by some psycho middle management tosspot, and then what do I do when money gets a little tight?  Hurl myself back into that persona, like someone who had just been rescued from a blazing building, diving back in through a ground floor window, still smouldering, heels alight, hair afire.

Please don’t misunderstand.  There’s nothing wrong with working in marketing <cough, ahem, splutter> or sales if you’re in the right environment.  It’s when you are forced to behave in a manner that you are not comfortable with and/or when you are required to do things that put you at odds with your moral code is when the cracks will start to show. If you are human, that is.  I can sell/promote/market with the best of ’em, but from now on, I will only sell that which I am passionate about, and not for kudos, promotion or, of course, mere money

Then, just when I was about to limp away and get myself a comforting glass of wine, my little ally from my old company sent me a message via LinkedIn.

‘Hi there’ it said ‘saw this job and thought of you.  Hope all is well!’

I looked at the job spec.  It’s exec level, situated just outside the M25, tons of responsibility, average wages.

Did I think ‘Nice of her to think of me but I’m not going back into that world.’?

Or ‘Bless her, she’s trying to encourage me to ease back into the workplace gradually.’?

Nope.  Neither.

I’m livid.  How dare she sell me short?!  Does she think that just because I had a near breakdown that I am willing to take a demotion, work in the back of beyond for a pittance whilst carrying shitloads of responsibility for the fun of it, so that lickarse, mealy mouthed spin masters like her take all the credit?  FUCK her.  I could have done her job easily had it not been for the politics, bullshit and lack of autonomy at that place!  And they’d just love that wouldn’t they, seeing me in a measly exec role, the oldest in an office with a load of 20 year olds, well she knows where she can shove that!  I’ll show them, I’ll get a better role, director level, and show them what I can handle with the right company!

WTF?!

Do I loathe myself that much that I will push myself willingly to my own destruction for the sake of proving myself to people that no longer matter?  Am I going to pass on my ‘get out of jail free’ card just because things are a bit tight and go back to a miserable 9-5 existence?

Hell, no.

If nothing else has come out of this episode, it’s the realisation that I need to have faith in myself and get out there and do something before the time comes that I have to go back to that grey world because I no longer have any choice in the matter.

And, if i fail?  Well at least it will have been an adventure.

So, I’ve decided.  Even if the agency come back to me with a position, I think I will have to politely decline.

Otherwise ‘I could be an inmate in a long term institution’.

And that would be a waste.

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FRUITY, NUTTY, MALTY (OR TREACLE) LOAF (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

I was recently challenged by a friend to make him a gluten and diary free cake that tastes good, and after doing some research on the internet I can now understand where he was coming from with that qualification as most of the offerings that I saw on there looked like they’d been regurgitated and spat out by an owl.

Others looked distinctly flat and unappetising, and worse still, some looked really yummy but apparently this is grossly deceptive as they tend to taste like shit.

I then found a recipe for a fruitcake on BBC Good Food website and tested it out.  It was nice enough but very crumbly and I wasn’t keen on the gritty top (it’s made with polenta) so I decided to make up my own recipe giving it a malt loaf style make over.  Turns out malt extract has gluten in it, so I was left with a loaf of healthy cake and a frustrated/highly amused friend who moaned that he couldn’t eat it!  Anyway he ended up having a bit, so he can’t be that allergic can he? Bloody attention seeker…..

Malt contains gluten, who knew?  Meh, it tastes great and you can always substitute it with black treacle or honey so here’s the lowdown.

INGREDIENTS

250g pack stoned ready to eat dates

2 small bananas

150g pecans chopped (keep around 10-12 whole ones for the top)

200g raisins

200g chopped prunes (doesn’t matter if you don’t like them, trust me they meld in with the cake and help stop it crumbling)

100g fine polenta

1 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp baking powder (Dr Oetker make a gluten free version, available at Sainsburys)

3 tblsp malt extract, black treacle or honey (this also stops the cake from falling apart)

2 egg whites

200ml black tea

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas mark 4

2. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with baking parchment

3. Put dates in a small saucepan with tea and simmer for 5 mins

4. Stir in malt extract until combined with then add the bananas and blitz with a hand held blender until smooth

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Yes, I know it looks like the contents of a particularly challenging nappy but you haven’t done anything wrong.  It’s meant to look this way.

5. Wipe any stray banana/date/tea stuff off the splash back, your glasses, worktop and passing cat.

6. Mix all the remaining dry ingredients in a bowl (apart from the whole pecans), add the gloop then stir gently until combined.

7. Take a clean bowl (ensure it is totally grease free) and whisk the egg whites until they fall in soft peaks, then fold carefully into the cake mix, so that it looks like this.

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Again, not pretty huh?  Look on the bright side, at least your kids won’t be mithering you to scrape out the bowl….

8. Quickly and carefully tip it into the tin (it will be pretty full), then bake for around 45mins to an hour until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Don’t put it at the very top or it is likely to catch.

9. Take your two egg yolks and make yourself some extra rich scrambled eggs on toast or a full English with double yoked sunny-side-ups (yum, yum), unless of course you are avoiding gluten and dairy, in which case, erm, have an apple.  Devour with a cup of tea whilst watching Saturday Kitchen.

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10. When the cake comes out of the oven, brush with malt/treacle/honey whilst still warm, arrange the whole pecans on the top in some way, shape or form, and then brush them with malt/treacle/honey too.

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Allow to cool completely before you cut into it, if you can leave until the next day, so much the better.

Serve with a mug of tea.

Best spread lavishly with butter 😉


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I’LL FOLLOW THE SUN

Kittens - 54

Dexter is lying on the rug in a patch of sunlight, his soft, dappled tummy soaking up the rays.

I am lying on the sofa as usual, feeling tired, muzzy, dyspeptic.  My back aches and I am cranky.

As the sunlight shifts, so does Dex, inching along in its wake in a series of little, snake like wiggles, ensuring that every inch of his furry body stays in its blaze.

After a while, I slide off the sofa and join him, hooking my legs over the seat so that my back relaxes into the floor.

Dex looks at me as if to say ‘What on earth are you doing?’

I slowly reach out my hand to tickle his tummy.  He moves back half a centimetre so that he is just out of reach.

Tease.

Shifting slightly, I try again.  This time I connect  and savour his softness, vulnerability and warmth.  Before a minute is up, he lashes out playfully with his back legs and pushes my fingers away with his paws, claws still sheathed.

I keep my fingers on the pads and wait for the rebuff.  To both our surprise, it doesn’t happen.

He purrs.  I close my eyes.

Warm rough paws, connection, soft back, hot sun, cool feet.

I breathe fully, deeply.

Crazy black clouds skitter by the window, tree branches flail in the wind, the threat of rain imminent, but in our world there is only heat and light, and for the first time in days, I feel something akin to happiness.

Namaste


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SPARE US THE CUTTER

Sticky mouthed, tired, sore. Numb from meds.

Didn’t sleep much last night.  Dug away at the beastie on my hand with a paper scalpel by way of distraction.  Fun, fun, fun!

Woke up late and cancelled yet another class.  Lord if i could get the money back from every single thing I’ve paid for and bailed on, I’d be living in my dream mill/cottage/lighthouse by the sea and not a flat in Shitsville, Chavland.

This blog has become a lifeline for me, but if it doesn’t deliver what its meant to, then it becomes meaningless and shows me up as the fraud that I so clearly am, so tough love is needed.

So, today, somewhat inexplicably is Yes day, and i have already via email (you don’t actually expect me to verbally communicate with anyone today do you?!) committed to the following:

  • A Yoga class tomorrow
  • A trip to the cinema on Thursday
  • Dinner with a close friend on Friday (the easiest challenge)
  • Dinner with a friend I am mad at, at a restaurant I don’t want to go to on Saturday (harder)
  • A ballroom dancing class on Sunday (hardest, as some bloke/weirdo from the group is emailing me and freaking me out already)

Five days of going out in a row.  Scary shit.  If it happens, it will be a record for 2013 so far.

Enjoy being holed up in your little nest today Sista, because you have officially ran out of ‘tomorrows’, as if you don’t do this, you have to stop blogging.

And leave your fucking hand alone!


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NIGHT NIGHT….

….sleep tight

Just don’t let the demons bite

Try as I will and try as I might

I just don’t seem to get respite

 

Eyes dry, shoulders tight

Right foot swings from left to right

Try as I will, try as I might

The call of sleep I cannot fight

 

Star light, star bright

Save me from myself this night

I hope you will, I pray you might

Enfold me in your silver light


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WARTS AND ALL

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I have this thing on my hand.

It started off the size of a pinprick, but was raised, hard and had ambition.  It didn’t fool me one iota.

Having been on Skin Tag Watch since I turned 50, I spotted it, I took a pair of nail clippers, braced myself and, wincing, snipped it off.

I’ve always had a huge aversion to anything like that, you see; when I see warts, hairy moles, and big raised wibbly, bobbly things, they make my arse clench with fear.  I’m a bit like Austin Powers in Goldmember when confronted by the ‘MOLEE!’ except I just about manage to hide my horror, and refrain for the most part from poking them with a stick.

I know this makes me sound like some kind of superficial Nazi, and I’m certainly far from stunning, but there is something beyond what they look like that fills me full of dread.  Is it because they generally come later in life and are part of the aging process?  Perhaps.  But not entirely.  I just know that if I was, in some parallel universe, a celebrity guest on Room 101, bobbles, warts and skin tags would top of my list of things to consign to that Orwellian hell hole, along with snotty egg whites, that skin that forms on the top of hot milky drinks and sticks to your lip, ‘space invaders’ on public transport, and big long breast feeding nipples when that bend and twang when they pop out of a baby’s mouth.  Eeeeeee!

So you can see that I would much rather have a scar where others would tolerate a, a….thingy.

But, wouldn’t you just know it; the tenacious little blighter was back within 24 hours. Undeterred, I snipped it again. It came back. Snip. Back. Snip. Back.

Each time it returned, it came back bigger, more painful and more resilient, so I took it to the chemist and on their advice, bought, gulp, wart remover. I have a wart?  How can that be?  Unclean, unclean!

I used the entire bottle of this stuff, but the bloody thing would not desist.  It got bigger wider, and harder.  So, rather than waste money on foul smelling medication, I would just cut shards of skin off it as soon as it got big enough to work with, sometimes trimming right down to bare bleeding flesh, but it would literally replenish itself almost overnight. 

I was then given some very caustic stuff by Dr B, and had been using that, and it seemed to be working, to the point where last week it loosened and all seemed to come off in one piece, leaving a raw, bloody crater, but no sign of a core.  I quickly slathered it with tea tree cream and covered it with a plaster, and slept with my fingers crossed.

But, wouldn’t you know it, it came back again, totally healed over, no crater in sight, so I attacked it again.  And again.  And again.

Dr B had a fit when she saw it.  ‘Are you sure you only used this stuff twice a day?’

Oops.

‘I can’t even tell what it is anymore’ she said peering at the huge crusty, ragged hole the size of a 20p piece, then practically sprinted to the washbasin to decontaminate her hands, ‘leave it alone for a fortnight and come back and see me.’

But I can’t.  I am absolutely obsessed with it.

But that’s me all over. I am hard wired to ignore and take for granted all the good things and people in my life, and zoom in on the tiniest thing that is wrong and make it my everything, something Aunty C points out to me all the time.  So whilst I’m on waging war on this little blemish, I totally take for granted the fact that the rest of me (physically at any rate) is relatively healthy, that there are people blogging on here that are much worse off than I that would do anything to be able to get out of bed, let alone leave the house and get a job. 

Also, never mind that both of my parents died young of horrible diseases, so I have a scary genetic inheritance to overcome, my entire being is hunched over my hand, poking and jabbing at this thing in a blood thirsty frenzy, wart bothering bitch that I am, and days, weeks, years are flying by that I will never, ever get back again.

So family, friends, loved ones, if you ever get to read this (not if I can help it) given that I insist on playing Russian roulette with my health, I may well die young.  The odds are not in my favour.  But at least I’ll have a clear (if ugly) façade, if just a mite scarred, so please ensure that the mortuary make up artist uses a good concealer.

In all seriousness, I need to sort this trait out if I am to make any progress, so God, if you are listening, I’ll make a deal with you; if you must smite me with even more ugliness, so be it. I’ll try not to wield the nail scissors too much, and will put some energy into looking after this amazing machine that you have given me.  It may be a bit vintage, rusting in parts, creaking in others, but I will try and maintain it, feed it and nurture it the way I do for my cats, so that we all stay lean, mean purring machines.

In exchange, please give me the courage to make a good stab at life, and if it’s not pushing my luck, I’d sooner not have a shitty death where I deteriorate inch by inch, and take months or even years to kick it.  I don’t care when I die, but if I have any say in the matter, I would like the kind of spectacular demise that could have been featured in Six Feet Under and a wake that would put a Lindsay Lohan hen party to shame.

Do we have a deal?

 

PITY PARTY TRACK 3 – WALK AWAY Tom Waits

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OK, today’s track has been uploaded on the tenuous theme of my having messed up my life and needing a new beginning, but let’s be honest, it’s on here because I heard it for the first time last night at the end of a documentary about Death Row and fucking love it.
Actually, come to think about it, this does earn its place on here because after watching a bunch of pallid, tattooed, regretful prisoners stuck in a small living space with their cats (Jesus, who’d have thought I’d have so much in common with kid and cop murderers?!) with nothing to look forward to but death by natural causes or via a big old syringe filled with poison, makes me realise that I can actually leave mine. Any time I want to.
I’ve already walked away, so I just need to man up and start over again. And empty my slops bucket 😉