Punches and ambitions

It’s a process that is as frustrating as it is satisfying, I find. I suspect it’s because I’m still very much in the learning stages but also a perfectionist, so it’s like a scalpel to my eyeballs when a stone isn’t perfectly set or a bezel setting tilts ever so slightly, even when you might not even see it unless you really look for it. Scratches that don’t show up until you’ve used the finest micro mesh cloth mean that you have to go right back to coarse sandpaper and start all over but it’s so lovely when you’re finally done and have a shiny, even and smooth piece that you’ve put so much work into. The only thing I don’t like is not having more time to dedicate to it, but with flexible “day job” employers I know that if/when I’ve built a little income stream there is scope to cut down hours and I’d love it if I could eventually split my time between metal and words – that’s Nirvana right now the way I see it.

2018 has started out fine. I say ‘fine’ rather than ‘amazing’ because nothing much has changed from 2017. Sure, I have to be obnoxious and admit life is pretty damn awesome for the most part and I can’t really think of anything I need to complain about, but it did get a little “samey” there for a while. I slipped into a comfortable existence where my whole life felt a bit like a SPA weekend. Nothing much to worry about, not much effort to be made and as for ambitions those became ‘mañana, mañana’. I mean, that was the very reason why I quite randomly embarked on a whole new thing and did a course in jewellery design to learn how to work with precious metals. My hope was that it’d get me fired up and back to Ambitious and Driven Anna, and so far it has worked. It’s never a good thing to scrutinise what you do for a living and discover that… ..meh. So hopefully it’ll keep on fuelling my creativity and eventually also steer me back to the writing that I completely abandoned. Really loving making rings with semi precious stones but pendants are fun too – next on my tool wish list are metal forming tools and so my next investment ahead of a dremel is a doming block with punches.

‘Fine’ also means life outside of work goes on much as before. B has a demanding job and travels even more than before. Perhaps not more often but due to his position many of his trips are now further afield and last a little longer. There are shorter ones of course, yesterday he returned from a couple of days in Prague and next week he’ll be in Milan – as always I hate not being with him and pine for him when he’s not home, but to be honest, after his month long trip to New Zealand last October anything shorter than a week seems like nothing. Monkey is at his new school and seems to have settled in really well. Unlike his mother, he’s an extrovert and full of beans (well, I’m full of beans, but tend to keep my beans to myself and tend to prefer my own company) so made friends quickly and never stressed over being the new kid. Thank God for that. He’s also starting to more and more resemble something out of Only Fools and Horses – always wheeling and dealing, always has several little money making schemes on the go, most lately involving buying cheap fake designer belts from Camden market that he then sells at a profit (declaring that they are fakes of course or I’d have to interfere) and yesterday he told me he is going to make some sort of Bitcoin investments, put £20 towards something in the hope it’ll yield a return. I have no idea what any of that means so suggested he speaks to B before parting with any money. He’s a funny little thing.

These days Monkey is with us all the time, which is a dream come true in lots of ways even though there is pain and difficult stuff at the very root of it – as much as I agree with Monkey and am on his side, it’s heartbreaking that he doesn’t want to stay with his dad. But I’ll leave all of that out of here, despite being relatively anonymous online I still feel it’s too private. B and I still have the freedom to do our random trips away given the older two boys can easily come and stay to make sure Monkey doesn’t burn the house down and I’ve booked a romantic weekend away for B’s birthday – CAN. NOT. WAIT. How I’ll be able to keep schtum for another three months I don’t know, plus B is the nosiest person on the planet so I now have all sorts of locks and security measures in place to make sure he doesn’t successfully snoop and find out. All I can say is that it’ll be magníficio!

So ‘fine’ simply means it’s all good and that life just continues to head in a really fantastic direction, albeit at a slightly slower pace than I’d like – if I had my way there would be a heated shed in the garden where I could set up a proper workshop but all in good time… ‘Fine’ means steady progress to freakin’ awesome!

My next step is to get going on some more necklaces that a local boutique has said they’d be happy to have and also cobble together a webshop. This is good, better than ‘fine’, given I always need to have something on the go. It’s when I don’t that it all turns into SPA weekend existence, and let’s face it, I’m not a SPA kinda gal.


Warm Furballs and Flights

Sunday night. Candle light. Fireworks tearing through the sky. Hendrix snoozing on my lap. Monkey at his dad’s. Phone pinging and a message telling me B is checked in and is boarding his flight. To Prague this time, and four nights that I now have to endure without my honey. All in all, unbearable.

I feel so lost when I’m not around him. Let alone the pain of not having my Monkey with me, it’s multiplied a thousand times now that I have to spend days on end without both my boys. When B has to go away with work, it’s easier if Monkey’s around, just like the weeks my son’s with his father are somewhat easier to deal with when B’s around. Gosh, this sucks on so many levels. Luckily, there’s this little warm furball on my lap, her silly little nose resting on my left arm, making it difficult to type.

Please God, let these next few days pass quickly.

At least I’ve got some more writing done and also feeling hopeful that one of the jobs I’ve applied for may come through.

Neighbourhoods and Kick-boxers

11 years ago today, I knew something was up. I was still four days shy of my due date, but the dull ache in my abdomen since 5am when I woke up was telling me something. I wasn’t in pain at all, it was just that – a dull ache, similar to mild period cramps. Constant yet mild. I’d been on maternity leave for four days and was already climbing the walls, bored to death not going to work and the luxury I’d felt the first day, at being at home and just chilling out, wore off even before it was over, so Friday 5th of November 2004 I was close to losing my mind and already missed work. Perhaps that was part of the reason why I thought ‘this is it’ – hoping rather than knowing, that the little kick-boxer in my belly was finally about to come out.

The day passed uneventfully, but because I felt today was different, I blow dried my hair and put on make-up – hell, if my number was up I was at least going to look good during the massacre, right? Instead of taking a long walk to Ealing and back as I had the previous days, I stuck around the neighbourhood. I do want to say I knew, but as I mentioned it was probably more a case of wanting it to happen as opposed to somehow sensing it.

Nothing changed much over the course of the day and that mild cramping ache in my lower abdomen stayed the same. No water breaking, no increase in any way.

Then, at around nine in the evening, when Bonfire Night fireworks tore through the skies and the ex-husband and I had sat down to have dinner, there was a sudden stab to my gut. Nothing, I might add, like what my pregnancy books had outlined. I thought I knew the routine: water breaks and then eventually you start having contractions that become more and more frequent. Oh, and apparently contractions would feel like “intense period pains”. Sweet Lord, I don’t know who has period pain like what I was suddenly experiencing – it literally felt like someone had stabbed me with a rusty bread knife. And no water breaking whatsoever. Just full-on seventh circle of hell without warning.

From then on, it went from zero to 100 miles per hour in no time. The first stab was almost immediately followed by another, and by 10pm there was no break for whatever motherfucker was going at me with aforementioned rusty bread knife. The only difference, perhaps, was that they’d swapped the bread knife for a chainsaw. By the time we got to St Charlotte’s I was in so much pain I could barely speak and they quickly got us to a private room, where I ensured I made enough of a fuss to quickly get an epidural. Before, I’d had some idea that I’d try my best without pain relief, but this was no state I was willing to explore any further, so once the anaesthetist sauntered in (looking a little stoned, to be honest) I nearly cried tears of joy.

Once the rusty chainsaw was numbed by the blissful veils of an epidural, I finally had a chance to take in the moment. We were approaching midnight and were told to wait for a midwife to come and check how far along I was. Whilst we waited, the ex went outside to call our closest family and friends, and once I was alone I looked down at my bump. “Who are you, in there? I can’t wait to finally meet you! Oh, and please don’t hurt me,” I whispered and giggled.

At this point, the fireworks were incredible. Loud bangs and sounds filling the west London sky, with me in that room at St Charlotte’s, with both hands clutching my stomach, hoping my little kick-boxer was OK in there.

From the moment I got pregnant, I always pictured a girl. Even after the 19-week ultrasound when they told us we were having a boy – or a Monkey, rather – I was still convinced it was a daughter I would give birth to. I’m not sure why, but I was dead certain. I could picture her so clearly. A chubby thing with dark hair and brown eyes and a temper that’d scare the Devil himself. I’m blond and blue-eyed, but my ex is dark and apparently those genes are dominant, so I guess I just assumed our offspring would have his colouring.

With fireworks still going off, although less frequent and not as intense, at 2.05am my reason for living arrived and as much as I did that first night that I held my son in my arms, I still catch myself staring at him in wonder. The chubby, dark-haired girl with brown eyes turned out to be a blond and blue-eyed slender boy. I know every freckle on that nose, I could map them all out blindfolded with 100% accuracy.

And tomorrow he turns 11, this boy of mine. I am so grateful and proud to be able to say I’m his mum, it doesn’t get any better than that – the best kid on the planet, bar none.


Babies and Legally Binding Agreements

Fk me, that was some seriously scary shit! My son is two days shy of 11 and he just walked home frome school ALONE. I ensured I had 999 on speed dial and then rang my sister to calm me down as I sat out on the balcony (from which I have a good view down the street, should my little munchkin – who, in my mind, would get kidnapped/run over/die on route in unspeakable ways), and she calmly told me (but I could fkn SENSE her rolling her eyes at me) to stop being neurotic.

Let’s say it went good – so-so.

Oh, Monkey made it home just fine. He walked our usual route home and there was no problem. Me? I’m the second ‘so’ in so-so. I freaked out big time and called him five – FIVE – times whilst the poor sod was perfectly en-route home. No wonder the ring signal he’s designated ‘Mum’ to on his phone is the theme tune to Jaws.

Shit. My little chubby munchkin is now a boy. Fk me, that is some scary stuff! Those thighs that used to have several folds are now the slender legs of AN ACTUAL BOY. What used to be blond locks that bounced around little shoulders is now a trendy quiff hairstyle. His neck no longer has folds either. Nor do his knuckles have dimples.


My other baby is quickly growing up too. Hendrix is – at nearly five months of age – hitting puberty, so we’re having her spayed beginning of December. Oh my.

Letting go is HARD! At least I have Monkey’s little note from when he was five years old, which he signed, saying he’ll never leave me and will live with me until into his forties and after that live next door if he HAS to move out. Got to be legally binding, no?

I’m suffering here. I hugged Monkey as if he’d come back from war when he got home.

4 Nov 2015 2 pic

First Drafts and Fresh Flowers

Perhaps life will slow down a little in the next few weeks, who knows. Not that I’m complaining – I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to have the life that I do, with B and Monkey. Oh, and of course Hendrix, who, as I’m writing this, has as usual parked herself by (or on, rather) my feet along with her half chewed and soggy pig’s ear. Gross. After a weekend full of adventures, we just have a few moments before the next one. Mum’s over from Sweden from tomorrow until Sunday and I can’t wait to have her here. What it does mean is that today will be busy. Need to give the flat a good clean, get some fresh flowers, sort out Monkey’s room where Mum will be sleeping and generally make sure I can make her feel every bit as welcome as she is – massively.

I do feel a bit sorry for Monkey when we have visitors, usually B’s boys or my family, and he has to sleep on an air mattress in our bedroom. One day, maybe we’ll have something bigger. Mostly for all three boys’ sake, that would be wonderful. Then B’s boys wouldn’t have to feel they’re temporary visitors in what’s Monkey’s room, and Monkey wouldn’t be pushed out like that. Not that I think Monkey minds as he loves his stepbrothers (which is how he sees them – he absolutely adores them and you can tell he finds them super cool) and would probably sleep on the floor without complaint if it meant they were around, but still. One day. Would love to have another bedroom that could be more dedicated to B’s sons (or even two more – imagine, one each!) and maybe double up as guest room. One day.

Speaking of boys, B’s youngest turned 21 yesterday and we got to see them both on Sunday on our way home from a weekend break in the Peak District. As always, it was lovely, and as always, it was too short. Hoping we can engineer something around Christmas.

God, Hendrix is really going at that disgusting pig’s ear. Weird little creature – not sure if it’s separation anxiety, but she is always around me and ideally ON me, and currently there is one fat little paw on my foot and that soggy pig’s ear on my toes as she’s chewing away. She’s still doing her weird thing where she’s all calm and cuddly around me, and goes wild around B and Monkey. Every evening when B comes home she goes completely mental, whizzing around his feet and bounces around like she thought she’d lost him forever whilst he’s been at work. It’s cute and crazy, much like Hendrix overall.

The writing is moving along at a good pace, finally. Not quite hitting 8,300 words per week, but not too far off the mark so I feel positive and confident again. Because I, for the longest time, didn’t even dare look at the first draft, now that I’m forcing myself to do so, it’s encouraging to find that I can keep more of it than I thought. I’ll get there.

As usual, I’m creating to-do lists in my head for the day ahead and today’s list goes something like this:

  • Head to the pet shop (and practice walking Hendrix on a loose lead along the way – we’re getting there but she’s still wanting to chase cars) to exchange Hendrix’s Halloween outfit (yep, I’m that sort of dog owner – a black outfit with a glow-in-the-dark skeleton along the back) and get a new collar as her fat little neck is getting too, er, FAT for her puppy one.
  • Get some fresh flowers.
  • Head to H&M in Hammersmith and get a new batch of clothes for Monkey, who seems to be growing at break-neck speed.
  • Clean the flat, which will take best part of three hours – no shortcuts with Mum over…
  • Fit in solid writing time somewhere.
  • I’m sure there was something else too…. So best get going….

Little Jokes and Sobs

Life continues to be busy. This past weekend we had B’s brother and his family over – they’ve spent the last month travelling around and their last few days they were here in Chiswick. I met them of course when we went to New Zealand in February-March 2014, but now we really got to spend some quality time as opposed to briefer visits with lots of other family. B’s boys came down too, which was brilliant, and Monkey was around as well. B’s brother’s son is the same age, and to boot the two boys look scarily similar. In fact, those two look more alike than anyone in the family who are actually related, and they hit it off just as we thought they would and it was so lovely to see.

Beyond all the loveliness, there was sadness too and once I was past feeling upset for Monkey, I ended up so angry with my ex. Not even sure how to sum it up, but basically Monkey has (or HAD, as the case is now) a dog at his dad’s. They got him early this year, so the poor thing was still just a pup and one Monkey obviously loved endlessly, being his and all. Apparently the people they got him from met up with them IN A BLOODY CAR PARK (warning bells ringing, I ask??) and the little puppy petrified. They still went ahead and took him home. To be fair, had it been me, I would have wanted to save that little dog too. As Monkey’s stepmum put it, he would have met with a terrible fate had they not taken him. But who am I to place blame? All I know is that a poor animal was mistreated/abused and developed aggression as a result, through no fault of his own.

It all culminated with said pup ending up lashing out as two small children, one of whom was a two-year-old girl whose cheek and lip Monkey’s dog punctured. My ex had to file a report, then had to take him straight to the vet where Monkey’s beloved puppy was put down in accordance with the Dangerous Animals Act. My ex asked me to keep it to myself as he needed to be the one to tell Monkey the following day. 24 hours I spent fighting back the tears, knowing such a devastating blow was about to be dealt to my 11-yearold boy who loves/loved his dog so much.

The following day, B and I took Monkey to Waterloo, where the ex and Monkey’s stepmum met us to take Monkey. They both looked like death, and despite Monkey’s stepmum trying to be cheery and make little jokes, I welled up and thought I was going to go hysterical for Monkey’s sake. For that very reason though – FOR MONKEY’S SAKE – I somehow just pushed things back, swallowed the sobs that threatened to spill out of me, squeezed B’s hand hard and tried to say goodbye in as normal a way as I could muster.

Lesson one for the ex, I hope, is to acquire a pet in a responsible manner in the future – just how this little pup came to be theirs had disaster written all over it. And a punctured cheek and lip could easily have been much worse. Our own child or someone else’s.

Naturally, it broke Monkey’s little heart, and I hope he will get over it sooner rather than later. In some ways, important life lessons to be learnt, but even so I keep thinking it was all so unnecessary. Poor Monkey, and poor puppy. People who allow animals to suffer should be shot without a trial.

To get back to happier things, the writing is back on track and I’m feeling confident again, having a very productive week so far and looking forward to the rest of our lives unfolding. So much to be grateful for that I can’t even begin to count my blessings as it’d take forever.

Mantras and Cylinders

Gratitude. It’s a word that encompasses so much. Is it how my heart flutters when I look at my son? Is it how it flutters when B kisses me? The mere thought of either of those two boys, each making my heart soar and making me feel light? The warmth I feel against my feet as I write this, where Hendrix has parked herself, always making sure she’s near me or at the very least has me in her line of sight?

Or is gratitude the exuberant feeling I am now experiencing, that was borne from an initial deep sense of dread at having lost my way with the writing? A long heart to heart with B cleared away those heavy clouds, and just like this beautiful October day outside, my skies are once again a glorious blue, largely thanks to my beautiful B and his amazing ability to prop me back up and get me back on track when I falter.

Not a word written in months until this week, Alice has been all but dead. I’d say she’s still on life support, but I’m finally feeling that determination again, that somehow escaped me there for a while. A long while. What the f*ck? Here I am, arguably the most fortunate woman on the planet, able to pursue this not too unrealistic dream and I f*cking STALL?! Enough of that shit! Firing on all cylinders again and I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t give this one almighty shot, even if it kills me I will see this through. Famous last words, I know, but I will bloody do it and NOW is the time. Not later this afternoon, absof*ckinglutely not tomorrow or next week.

I think I forgot the very mantra I was living by:


No more stalling, no more hesitating, no more doubting my ability – in my finest French: no more f*cking around.

It all comes back to gratitude, really. When I think about it, I can’t find a single aspect of my life or what’s in it that I’m not grateful for. I think I just got overwhelmed by doubt when it came to the writing, and as much as I’ve always woken up each morning feeling joy, I let this one thing slip. But as I said, no more f*cking around. It’s the one missing piece, because aside from that, there is nothing I could possible ask for that I don’t already have. Sure, maybe teeth whitening, but my smile’s still pretty good so it’s no biggie.

We have had the busiest summer and in two weeks’ time it’ll be the first weekend in months when it’s just me and B doing our own thing. Visits from friends and family, a weekend in Italy at a wedding, B away with work and at rugby games – we haven’t stopped and I think we’re both looking forward to some us time. I can’t remember the last time there was a weekend with no plans, just us doing random crazy shit, something we’re so good at. Not complaining though. Being in beautiful Tuscany with my love was incredible, and to be fair we did get a good amount of time just us getting up to whatever we felt like, which involved impulse road trips and also rather a lot of wine. It was glorious. And the wedding was fun too, in that all-about-family, slightly chaotic yet utterly charming Italian way. Sky high heels weren’t ideal for my sprained ankle that’s still a little sore, but hey-ho, I still had a boogie and now back to flats as I think I aggravated it. Oh well.

So here we are, a Friday like so many others, even though it’s been a while – I’m back into the writing, I’m busy counting my blessings, my little Hendrix is freaking adorable and I am so in love with her, the sun is shining and both my beautiful boys are coming home to me. For the first time in what seems like ages, we have nothing much planned beyond watching Monkey play football on Sunday, no have-tos except getting a couple of baskets for Hendrix’s stuff and a batch of school shirts for Monkey. Bliss. To say I’m grateful for what I have is the understatement of the century.

Sometimes gratitude also comes when it’s meant to be. Alice’s mother disappeared without a trace. This week I read an article about a woman who disappeared and was presumed dead. Turns out she was hiding all of that time and is alive and well. I take that as a little nudge from above telling me ‘come on Anna, here’s some reality to bolster your work, USE IT!’. As I said, NOW is the time. Right NOW.

Right. More TLC for Alice and then off out for another walk with the little ‘demon frog’, as B’s oldest son likes to refer to Hendrix.

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