My Garden – The Place Plants go to Die…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Plot of Earth.”

One thing you need to know about me is that I kill plants. Unintentionally, I hasten to add.  I have a row of half dead orchids sitting above my kitchen sink, that I am willing to come back to life, without much (who am I kidding? – any) success. I have a tendency to fall in love with a plant, whether it be an orchid, a cactus, or a sunflower, and buy it on a whim making all sorts of hopeful promises that this will be the plant that I can keep alive.  Then within a few months the plant deteriorates and dies. Sometimes without any logical explanation as to why. My sister has said before that my home/ garden is “the place plants go to die” which is very hurtful, but unfortunately truthful as well.

That’s why I’m aiming small.  If I had a plot of land and unlimited financial resources I would plant and maintain a beautiful garden filled with live and flourishing plants (and I’d probably need to employ a gardener to keep it that way)!  I’ve always dreamed of having a vegetable and herb garden. But also a wild garden filled with wildlife. I’ve made the effort in my garden at home to install nesting boxes and bug boxes which all sit unoccupied – probably because of the reputation that all the plants within my garden cease to exist within a short period…

A plot of earth, to me means hope and life, not the misery and death that befalls most of my purchases!

RIP to all the plants I have killed in my gardening career.

Rescuing Worms: Hero vs. Villain

Does anyone else feel the need to rescue worms in peril whilst outside?  Or is that just me?

Ever since I was very small I have had this habit of rescuing worms when they get stuck in dangerous situations.  I think it stems from my grandma (an avid gardener and one of my biggest inspirations) telling me that “worms are your friends” and you should look after them in your garden.

I’ll be walking to work and I’ll pass a grassy spot, and I’ll find myself scanning the area for distressed worms and sometimes snails in need of rescue.  I’ll pick them up, touching them as little as possible, as I read somewhere that us touching them burns their skin, and carefully place them on the nearest bit of grass.  Sometimes when I spot a worm that I didn’t get to in time, I find myself cursing for not getting there soon enough and telling it to rest in peace.  I’ll also loiter for a few seconds just to give it a chance to wriggle – you never know it might be too weak to move and miss its chance of rescue.  I draw the line at prodding every worm corpse I see in case it’s alive.  That would be creepy.

When it rains I usually leave the house a few minutes early so I can make time for the multiple rescues I’ll have to perform and still get to work on time.  I just worry about those worms that I can’t save during the rest of the day and on weekends…

I’ve always suspected that others may not understand and that people might think me odd, so I’ve largely, until now, kept this dark secret to myself.  However, I confided in a good friend the other day and he found it hilarious.  I asked him what was so funny, as saving worm lives was very important to me.  He said that he had visions of an underground worm society building cathedrals and worshipping me as a Deity, like in Futurama when Bender is floating through space and a civilisation grows on his back, or in the Simpsons when Lisa accidentally grows a civilisation as part of her science project.  We’d had a little bit to drink before this conversation began I should add!

He said that worms regularly line the edges of the grass on my walking route, throwing themselves into the pavement in order to see whether they were worthy of being saved.  Those that I rescue, go on to do great things.  He mused that by rescuing them I was creating a vicious cycle of demand for rescues, and that there would always be more worms to save.

He also said that if someone did a scientific study in the area between my home and work, sparrow populations would be dwindling and increasingly underweight.  In their society I am a cruel being that arbitrarily removes the food supply between the hours of 8:30 and 9:00.  He concluded that it’s a matter of perspective whether I’m a hero or a villain.  I told him to shut up and go home.

I’ll leave you to make up your own minds…

Anxiety: Obsessive Crisis Management Planning

I’ve mentioned before that I suffer with anxiety.  Part of my problem displays itself as an incessant need to plan for disasters in everyday life.  Some would say that planning is quite sensible.  By planning you feel prepared for stressful situations and this keeps you feeling in control.  However, obsessive planning is where sensible meets irrational.

I have a number of plans in place for various disasters if they strike.  You know the usual:

  • What to do in a fire
  • What to do if a burglar breaks in
  • Zombie apocalypse – This one is proving problematic. From watching The Walking Dead, it’s clear the only way to survive a Zombie apocalypse is to have a hell of a lot of guns and bows and arrows etc.  Living in the UK weapons aren’t as freely available in an emergency as they seem to be in the USA.  This has presented a few kinks which I’m still ironing out

Probably my most irrational planning occurs when I have to go somewhere I do not know via public transport.  At the end of this month, I am going to my best friend’s birthday party in Brighton via train.  I’ve not been to Brighton before, but for those of you that have used English trains, you may know that they aren’t the most reliable and they do tend to have a lot of disruptions.  Especially in mid-January.  Some of my favourite reasons for disruptions in the past have been “a small track-side fire” and “a swan on the line”.  Anyway, I digress.  This is my struggle when planning to use public transport:

Ordering tickets

  • Check the route ten times to make sure it’s actually going where I need it to go
  • Ask my sister to check to make sure I haven’t misunderstood the route
  • Panic about whether there will be a disruption making my tickets null and void
  • Panic about internet shopping and security
  • Panic that the tickets will get lost/ not get to me on time

When tickets arrive

  • Panic about how many tickets there are – why are there so many? Oh no it’s OK it’s just the seat reservation numbers and receipts as well. Phew!
  • Paperclip tickets together so they show the correct route
  • Panic I’ve paper-clipped them together wrong

Week prior to travelling

  • Constantly checking the weather forecast in case of snow/ rain (twice a day) – not just for my area, but also for destinations along the route
  • Following train providers on Twitter to keep track of train disruptions
  • Constantly checking National Rail website for details of engineering works
  • OH MY GOD WHERE ARE THE TICKETS? Oh it’s OK. They’re where I left them.

Few days before travelling

  • Check the weather forecast a few more hundred times
  • Panic whenever I hear any mention of the weather/ my upcoming trip
  • Write a lengthy list detailing my route, including: departure time, platform it will be leaving from, final destination of train, make of train and destination arrival time, for each leg of the journey. I will then keep this in a safe place.
  • OH MY GOD WHERE ARE THE TICKETS? – Oh it’s OK they’re where I left them.
  • Packing: OH MY GOD, I’ve forgotten X, Y, Z. Oh no, it’s OK I’ve found them. I just packed them like two minutes ago.

Day of travelling

  • I’ll wake up stupidly early after dreaming either about a disruption free journey or a horrendous journey where I was naked/ the train crashed etc.
  • I won’t be able to eat because I’m too busy freaking out
  • I’ll put my tickets in a different purse from my money, in case I get mugged or something and can’t get home
  • I’ll keep my list (see above) on my person so I can check it about 1000 times over the course of the journey
  • Before leaving I’ll check the train sites and weather forecasts again just to make sure nothing catastrophic has happened since I went to bed the night before.
  • I’ll panic I’ve forgotten to pack about 10 things, so will basically unpack and then repack
  • OH MY GOD WHERE ARE THE TICKETS? – Oh no it’s OK they’re where I left them.
  • I’ll get on the train after checking the sign on the front of the train, the time and the board at the station all match what’s written on my list.
  • Once on the train, I’ll then check that the destination list displayed includes my destination.
  • Then I’ll panic I’ve lost my list and have to check about 10 times that it is safe.

Funnily enough, usually the journey is fine and I do make it to my desired destination.  Furthermore if there is a hiccup along the way I am usually equipped to deal with it and not have a full blown break down.  And even more shockingly, when I get to my destination I have a lovely time!

I feel I need to say, I have exaggerated a bit in this post.  I’m not as bad as I make out.  All these thoughts do cross my mind, but I have lived with my anxiety long enough to know that they are irrational.  I just thought an insight into my irrational thoughts might be quite funny/ enlightening for others to see.  Let me know what you think.

Photo Trauma – Future Conversations with my Grandchildren

Why is taking a simple picture so difficult? 

I realised recently that I don’t have very many photos of myself, or the people that I love.  I’d like to take more photos of events in my life so that when I’m old I can look back and enjoy the memories attached to them.  Looking at the sad bunch of images I have now, it will be a depressing album. Here are some of the conversations I can look forward to with my future grandchildren going through my albums:

  • Granny, why do you always have a giant arm in photos?” – I don’t know how this happens. In real life, I assure you that my arms are both normal size.  In pictures it’s like I have one gigantic flabby arm.  Does anyone else suffer with this affliction?
  • Granny, why do you always have a grotesque expression when taking a selfie?” – Well future grandchild, it appears that Granny is incapable of taking a presentable selfie which doesn’t feature slightly cock eyes/ grotesque face. I’m sure I never pull these faces in real life.  It’s quite tragic really – every day Granny was tormented on social media by others’ wonderfully taken selfies.  Often they were taken with seemingly no effort, on nights out when people were incredibly drunk.  Granny endeavoured to take such selfies whilst sober, and couldn’t manage.  So instead Granny decided to take anti-selfies which were a form of selfie whereby she tried to look as repulsive as possible in such images in the hope that people would stop taking them.  However, as you can see, people didn’t.  And tragically, as Granny was not good at taking her own pictures, these are the only lasting reminders of her lifetime.

Maybe I shouldn’t have children, just to avoid these kinds of conversations…

My Best Friend Gigglemouse

As far as friends go, nothing compares to clearing up your best friends droppings after hanging out together.

I’m kidding.  But this is the unfortunate reality when your best friend is a Chinchilla.

Gigglemouse is a complex creature, displaying nothing but affection and love whilst he remains confined in his cage, then disdain and contempt once bouncing around during play time.  He makes it his mission to bite every surface (including me) and to hide in the dirtiest spots, despite his ongoing respiratory problems.  But we make it work.  Still I’m sometimes a bit hurt when I give him his sand bath afterwards and he bathes like there’s no tomorrow; like I’m a disgusting stain to be washed off or something…

I’ve had the little monster for nearly 7 years, and we’ve had some good times. Like the time he bit wood chips off the textured wallpaper in the house we were staying in, and the time he dragged his teeth (like nails down a blackboard) down my parents mahogany bed frame, completely removing the varnish.  I spent a good half an hour disguising the crime using a well chosen eye brow pencil.  Sorry dad!  Then there was the time he escaped under my bed and it took me and Scott (fiancé) nearly an hour to get him out, which he thought was hysterical.  However, probably my favourite memory was the time he got his head stuck in a loo roll tube and we had to cut him out.

Seriously though, we love each-other very much.  He’s always pleased to see me.  Many a time he’s listened to me talk about my day/ rant about things that have upset me, and I’ve compensated him for his troubles in peanuts.  He’s very excited and vocal when we have a chat as long as I keep the peanuts coming.  He’s sure to inform me if he’s not suitably compensated, by noisily chewing the shells until a fresh one is supplied.  Then when we’re done talking he goes home to his teddy bear wife Tinkerbell, until he throws her out of bed in a fit of peanut induced rage.

Me and My Shoes: An Impossible Love Story

I once watched an episode of SpongeBob that showed a deranged chocolate salesman pretending to have a rare medical condition where his skin was made of tissue paper and his bones made of glass, in a sympathy bid to make SpongeBob and Patrick buy his chocolate bars.  Every time he moved all you heard were his screams and glass shattering, as well as tragic violin music playing in the background.  This is the closest analogy I have found to the ordeal I go through wearing shoes.  That or a Greek tragedy, where you think two people (or in this case a girl and a pair of perfect shoes) are destined to be together, for them later to get smighted by Zeus/ killed by a Minotaur etc.

I love shoes.  I buy shoes.  I just can’t seem to wear shoes.  My feet hate me.  My feet want to be free.  My feet are so controlling that they impose conditions on when and how I can wear them – they basically hold my feet to (crippling) ransom!  When I buy a beautiful pair of new shoes I find myself crying at the till much to the horror of the assistant (“SECURITY!”) thinking, how will they punish me this time?!  Here are some of their demands:

  • Suede boots – You can be worn on a dry day between the temperatures of 10 and 15 degrees. If you violate these conditions you will receive a shock in the form of agonising cramps (too cold) or blisters (too hot) depending on how we feel.  Hell, sometimes we’ll throw a curveball and give you both.
  • Leather boots – You may be worn with socks not tights otherwise you will suffer the consequences. If you fail to adhere to our strict instructions we will peel off and send you the skin off the sole of your foot.  Please bear in mind, we may choose not to act on specific occasions to lull you into a false sense of security, but if you try it again you will be punished twice as severely.
  • High heels – You may buy high heels between 2 and 3.5 inches in height and you may NEVER wear stilettos. If you do not comply we will break your ankle(s)!
  • Doc Martins – We’re aware these are meant to be comfy, but we don’t really like purple.  So we’ll arbitrarily punish you for your fashion choices as we see fit.
  • Comfiest shoes I have ever worn – If worn more than 3 times in a row we will make you bleed until you are unable to wear them for at least a week.
  • Flip-flops and slippers – Basically made of foam and fabric, but we will find a way to injure you. Probably via a fibre infection in an existing wound.
  • Bare feet – Sheer unadulterated joy!

One day I will go to the Ball – probably in bare feet! FML!

“A Person of Extremes”

I suffer with anxiety and for most of my life, I have been an obsessive planner.  Someone once described me as being a “person of extremes”, which has stuck with me, and lately I’ve been noticing this about myself a lot.  Once I get an idea in my head, I obsess about it until it becomes a reality, at least for a short while, until I begin to obsess about the next thing and the thing after that.

To give an example, over the past few months I have been trying to find a hobby.  However, it seems to be quite difficult for me to have a hobby of any kind without turning into some kind of future career prospect!

I used to love art, which I gave up when I left school.  I didn’t give up for any real reason, other than I got a job, then went to college, so didn’t have much time to do it anymore. Anyway I began to obsess about painting and sketching, and for a while, I began to do it again, after I’d spent a small fortune buying all my materials and equipment.  And for a short while I was REALLY happy.  I even began to think about a career change, and began to look into art courses, so that I could become a designer and then perhaps in future move into design professionally.  I got as far as looking at an Open University prospectus and looking into finance options for beginning a part time course, when, for lack of a better phrase, the novelty wore off and I began to think about the next fad to take over my life.  All that remains from that dream is one (badly) painted canvas hanging in my living room, a half filled sketchbook and my made up company name: The Topsy Turvy Design Company.

Another example would be the time I decided to up-cycle run down furniture from charity shops and car boot sales into desirable items.  I did hours of research on Pinterest and other sites for tips on how to chalk paint and distress furniture.  I read design blogs and magazines, visited DIY shops to get wall paper samples and buy paints.  I bought my first item, came up with several designs and got stuck in. I sanded (until my hands were raw), primed, painted, and used wallpaper to spruce it up.  I never finished it.  I didn’t have any varnish or polish to finish it off – I was going to get some at the weekend but never got round to it.  Still, it looks great from the front… just don’t look too closely as I couldn’t be bothered to sand and paint the back.  I’m just glad I never bought that electric sander I watched on EBay for 2 days, otherwise it’d be sitting unopened under the stairs.  To think, if I’d stuck it out I could have been the proud owner of Victoria’s Custom Furniture Emporium!

You may think this makes for a depressing read, and clearly I hate my life.  But that simply isn’t true.  I have a wonderful fiancé, a beautiful home, and I work for a charity that is very close to my heart.  Yet sometimes I must admit I do feel a bit lost when thinking about my long term life goals.  I love my job, but charity work doesn’t offer long term job security. Also I have this notion that my life must be filled with purpose to matter.  I just haven’t figured out what that purpose should be just yet!

To name a few of purposes I thought my life should have, but have come to realise since that it probably wouldn’t work out:

  • Mother of 10 children (aged 4) – Even then I knew this one was ridiculous as I theorised several would have to sleep in the bath as I couldn’t cater for enough beds.
  • Author and illustrator (aged 6) – I could save money by illustrating my own books
  • Doctor (aged 7) – I figured this probably wouldn’t work aged 10 when I was extremely relieved I was chosen to become a prefect rather than a first aider at primary school!
  • Artist (aged 14-16) – I was sure art was what I wanted to do until I couldn’t do it at college.
  • Solicitor (throughout college and university) – I studied law at university and really enjoyed the subject. I was sure I would become a successful lawyer and work for a commercial firm once I graduated.

Post graduation I decided not to pursue my dream of becoming a solicitor.  A part of me was relieved, as I think deep down I knew that legal practice wouldn’t be the right fit for me.  Looking back I think that law became my obsession at College because art wasn’t available as an option anymore.  I enrolled intending to take art, then the course didn’t run.  I think I latched onto the next best thing, my law class.  That time of my life was not the happiest, there was a lot of turbulence.  I think I clung to the idea of getting out and moving onto better things, through being a lawyer – it would whisk me away to a brighter future. Yet when I finished my degree I was in a better place emotionally, so perhaps I didn’t really need it anymore; I had already achieved the brighter future I had been hoping for.

Being a person of extremes, focussing on one dream with such intensity, then realising I never really wanted it in the first place, has left me feeling confused about what to do with my future.  I’m not expecting I’ll find the solution any time soon – I’m just determined to enjoy finding my way to the right path.

My latest obsession: Writing a blog just for fun about my experiences.  I intend to beat the cycle and make sure that this is not just a short term craze, but something longer term.  I’m not sure what I’ll write about just yet, but I’ll start with my thoughts, feelings and observations and go from there… Enjoy!

I welcome your comments and observations.