I have just got back from a trip to Scotland with my beloveds.
We ambled gently in the autumn mists, fought and made-up, drank copious beer, laughed and enjoyed each others company as only a family can (there were even board games). Although we didn’t manage to do as much walking as I would have liked, it was beautiful countryside.
September is one of my favourite times to go away and we had started planning this in about January but this year has been a little different to expectations, not least because it is hard to feel like its a holiday when you are not going back to work afterwards – though to be fair both W & B have some of the busiest parts of their working years coming up.
I, however, am unemployed for the first time since I was 19. I have juggled other commitments but largely I worked every weekend and a more than a few weekdays that I could. I don’t think I have even ever taken more than about a week sick leave, even when I was signed off sick from my PhD by my GP when the depression was really bad, even when I tore the cartilage in my knee… I didn’t take time off after my shoulder op either but by that time I knew it was coming to an end. So as you can imagine it is a very odd sensation to wake up with no obligation to ‘do’ anything except housework and no clear idea what the future holds.
At some point I may choose to write about my reasons for leaving but suffice to say that there is only so long one can carry on in certain circumstances and I had reached the end of the line. For obvious reasons I am concerned about the future, financially (£120 a week isn’t much but its a) better than nothing b) better than benefits) and emotionally but also oddly optimistic. Realistically, we managed on a lot less not that long ago and I believe we can again. I hope that I will have a chance to finish a few things round the house, to get some more reading done – for pleasure?! -take a few trips, submit a real academic article based on my thesis (i.e. stop procrastinating) and maybe even do some new research again, and perhaps eventually get a job on my own terms.
For the immediate future though I’m going to fret about the best ways to save money and revel in having evenings and weekends to myself!
So after my knee op and a week in the Dolomites with my parents I have spent a week in Northern Ireland with my in-laws before this week in Scotland with my loves.
I have been lucky this summer to get plenty of space to spend time with all and sundry.
My parents (the sods), happily retired as they are, have spent much of the early summer jaunting in Europe and it was pleasant to join them for the tail end of their trip including a bit of time in the mountains in Italy. Despite hoping to walk and maybe even climb once I was there a little bit of the reality of having torn cartilege in my knee hit home. Although the keyhole surgery went very well it is true that it was too soon to even walk more than a kilometre without pain. Nevertheless both my parents and my dog forgave me and soon I was walking further and further.
After that little excursion I was back in the UK for some of the Olympics (on which more later) before heading to the wilds of Belfast and the excitement of the in-laws.
I love my wife very much, and as such I am both grateful to and thankful for my in-laws. I do respect their opinions and even care about their well-being but gods know we have some fundamentally different view-points (not least on the fantasticness of my sweet W) so spending time with them is always complicated. I want to make them happy and proud, I want to be sure my wife is comfortable and adored and I feel like my existence is a blot on their life-chart. So overall it was with relief that the mrs and I engaged on a series of adventures to keep out of the way of the smother and make her life basically easier. I wish that given the shit that the family have gone through and constantly struggle with I was in a position to improve things but I fear the best I can offer is being out the way.
However, planning was to hand and the wife and I have moved straight from parents to the highlands of Scotland having been picked up by B. Hurrah for the hills and hiding with my loves.
Just to say am currently lazing in the sunny Dolomites and working on my thesis..
Going on holiday is a good thing right?
Shame it is such hard work – organising, packing and reassuring W that everything will not fall apart if we go away. Checking over and over again that nothing is forgotten; being sure we have the means and methods to deal with changes or problems arising at home, or work or with her parents
I wish that I could give her strength to feel that she has a real chance to relax; to not have to be constantly on guard. We are going to let the sea air wash away the days and the over-crowded thoughts and just enjoy spending hours in each other’s company…
I will confess that this feels like a real treat for me. We are going to be by the sea, in an area I love and I get to have my loved ones at my side. I feel selfish for wanting that closeness and lucky to have a chance to enjoy it.
So B & I are back from our impromptu holiday, safe and a little weary.
I am filled with the uneven feelings of joy at our spontaneity – something easier with B who doesn’t have W’s family anxieties – and irritation at a lack of achieving – which is entirely to do with a need for personal achievement. We did a little walking, though it was mostly low level, and sadly discovered just how unfit I am. (ugh – having some body dislike issues at the mo which don’t need to be dragged out) but didn’t see as much of that part of the world as I would have liked.
Have had several other important and relevant thoughts which somewhat escape me except the key fact that I am damn glad that I have not just sat my a-levels; cos clearing was humiliating and painful back in the days when university was a privilege not a government-mandated necessity I cannot imagine how terrifying it is to be leaving school in 2011.
I have made two sets of plans in the last week or so. The First is my Plan for Finishing My Thesis, the second is some holiday plans – I am hoping that the first is a lot more successful than the second.
The plan, indeed THE Plan, for my thesis was the product of a planned trip to visit my supervisor L and a meeting with my new second supervisor. To be honest the idea that the bulk of my writing will be complete by mid-November and that I will have a full 80,000 word draft come January is absolutely terrifying. That then gives me the bulk of 2012 to do revisions… and have it submitted by October and viva’d before my deadline of May 2013. Thus I will be a doctor by 30, fingers crossed. I essentially have one chapter to write and its the main analytical chunk so it could be tricky to do in terms of writing clearly and expressing my points but on the other hand since its mostly opinion it needs less referencing.
The reason I hope this goes better than my holiday plans is very simply that we have utterly failed to go to France. Actually its not our fault that the train tickets haven’t turned up but as we waited we didn’t make a back up. There is one now, but the packing is still waiting to happen. ooops
So um I’ve been a bit vague in my last couple of posts whilst real life got in the way. Sorry about that. So what is there that you actually ought to/might want to hear about? I wrote a list a week ago and have been on holiday since but I have to say that all sounds pretty trivial.
I think the key point I wanted to put across a couple of weeks ago was about funerals. As you may have gathered I went to my aunt’s funeral – which was a difficult affair – and also talked to a couple of other people about funerals they had been to in that week. (Have you ever noticed that it these things seem to come in clusters? 2011 not the best year on the people staying alive front) I don’t think I have come to any real conclusions about what makes a good funeral or even what to expect from one and certainly I have been reminded how much the funeral is about the survivors expressing/feeling sorry for themselves (Don’t get me wrong that is a very important thing – its just that it has so little to do with the dead person it can be jarring). It would be fair to say that more than I expected it to Maddie’s funeral stirred up unpleasant memories of my own mother’s but also that I have had a chance to feel how lucky I am, even just for the experience that allows me to deal with such things.
Ok – Skip to Holiday.
I actually got W to agree to come away and not be in contact with smother for a whole week – I think she regrets it slightly now smother is being so cold and hurtful but it was worth that and besides no work for a whole week, not even answering emails. The holiday was not everyone’s idea of fun; apart from anything else we were staying with my parents. In some ways this is a real boon, my father has a very reliable credit card and he had is car there which allowed more freedom than we would have had alone. Plus he paid for the accommodation and the bulk of the food and beverage. On the other hand, we had enforced socialising and other people’s timetables to work and he snores.
Its not the same as getting true personal alone time with one’s partner but we had the opportunity to do things we wouldn’t normally be able to. I hope that the experience encourages W to believe she can break free and explore new things. I also hope she experiments with cooking ideas based on the different things we ate and that some day we will go back to the beautiful city of Budapest and see more of the things that fascinate us..so many museums and churches to go to…
Next up on my list of things to include is a brief alcoholic run down of the last few weeks but that will have to wait til later.