annanotbob2's Diaryland Diary



I've been browsing through my very first blog - well, I scrolled blindly down the archive list, stopped randomly at what turned out to be Oct 09 and read about six weeks worth of entries, some of which I've copied below. I'm possibly applying for a writer-in-residence gig at a mental health place and need to provide 2000 words of my writing, for fuck's sake. I've been putting it off and off and off, but I do want it and on Monday I have an appt with someone who will help me sort out my CV and stuff, so...

Having read them through these bits are a mixed bunch, but perhaps give a flavour of being a bit mental and trying to live a good life. My Elder Daughter was healthy then and dear Stepfordtart was alive and so was Witty...



Gonna get along without you now

I'm missing my kids so much it hurts. My arms ache to hold them, bloody bastards.

On the plus side:


  • I don't have to hide the chocolate, alcohol or moisturiser

  • My baccy seems to last forever

  • I can still see the hall carpet two weeks after tidying up

  • I know where the scissors are, also glue, pens, crayons, notebooks, black leggings, swimming goggles

  • My computer opens to MY hotmail and facebook pages

  • There is no pile of festering damp towels anywhere in the house

  • The radio stays tuned to Radio 2

  • I haven't been served with a mountain of quinoa and broccoli for weeks - I may never have to eat this again

  • My beginner's art doesn't have to face the glance of the critic. No more 'Yeah, nice' in a withering tone.


But still, you know?


12:21 p.m. - 06/10/2009


he lines are going dead

My little book of yoga continues to offer me wise advice. Today's thought is: How you talk to yourself matters. Our beliefs create a filter through which we see the world. To become free of their power, today pay attention to what you say. Instead of saying I can't, say I'm having difficulty right now. This will create a space between the present and your beliefs about the present.

OK. I'm having difficulty right now with:


  • Violent mood swings. Swooping and swerving and diving and soaring. Untethered. No group this week, no appt with H.

  • Finding a sense of purpose. Rather than a different potential sense of purpose every half hour or so. Full on enthusiasm, which peters out in no time, or is not sufficiently considered. In town yesterday I suddenly remembered that Jamie 0liver has opened one of those teach-the-world-to-cook places up in the main shopping area, so I went along and offered my services as a teacher. Without considering that I'd spent a couple of hours crying since I last looked in a mirror, that my hair was partially brushed on Thursday, and that some weird people iron their clothes and expect others to do the same.

  • Not giving myself a hard time about stuff I feel, stuff I do, stuff I have yet to do. Shoulds. Be gone, thou demon should. I could probably get off my arse and sort out the infestation of cat fleas within a day or two.

  • Feeling the absence of my children as a burning ache in my chest, a lump in my throat, tears behind my eyes, an itch in my hands and arms and a big void in my mind.

  • Not having a plan or an adventure or a challenge on the horizon. Voluntary work could be the answer to this, but the very thought of presenting myself properly gives me the total heeby-jeebies. What do I tell people I've been doing for the last three years? I can't, no, not allowed to say that, I have difficulty right now with even the thought of being judged in terms of my capacity to meet a task or even respond to a question.


Going to see YoungerDaughter tomorrow, driving to take some more stuff up, like portfolios. Was going to stay with Mary but now fucking Ofsted are in so she's not available. Day trip. Good, good good.

Still taking pics though. In flower in my garden right now, amongst others, violas:

and black-eyed susans, doing their best ever for me:

I first read about black-eyed susans in Alice Walker's In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens, but since going to America, I don't think this is the flower she mentions. But I have loved and grown it on and off for twenty years, always nodding my head to Alice Walker for all the wisdom she has given me in different ways in different places, this is now one of my significant plants. I may try and find her one.

And a bit of Bob, being good and asleep, not on my lap:

and this, which might go to the top of the page if I can work out how


12:35 a.m. - 14/10/2009


I think you'll find it doesn't get any better than this

The high point of my day was my lamp appearing on Peep Show when I had the camera in my fucking hand

See, I told you I was cool.


12:31 a.m. - 17/10/2009



And then suddenly the house is full of noise and people, clothes strewn along the hall, music blaring, phones ringing. Nice. I hope that that aspect of my ludicrous insecurity will calm down now - the kids may have moved, but I'm not likely to go for long without seeing them and they're not little angels bringing nothing but sweetness and joy anyway, so get over yourself, woman. I did manage to get to a supermarket today and actually stayed long enough to buy some food, despite feeling like I was locked inside a giant echo-ridden kaleidoscope. Too much noise and movement and colour. I didn't drive, but fuck it, I shopped. And cooked a very edible comfort dinner for me and YD. Tricolore salad to start (tomato, mozzarella and avocado, sliced and drizzled with oil, vinegar and fresh basil) then ribeye steak with rocket salad and dauphinoise potatoes. Potatoes bought, from Sains, and nowhere near as nice as those from Tesc. They never cook properly when I try and make them - this is not the sort of complaint I should make when Stepfie is in Turkey - I bet she knows the answer.


12:50 a.m. - 25/10/2009


two wheels on my wagon and I'm still rolling along

Sitting in bed round at my sister's waiting for midnight and the first sentence of my nano novel. Had a bit of a crap day, failing to leave the bedroom till gone five and not in a good way. Ah well. Had a bit of a wobbly about the narrative arc of my life, which apparently is not a novel so has no requirement for anything of a redemptive nature at all. I've been clinging to the fact that I am a person who has been having a bit of a wobble during this middle section of her life, but is due to move on to the next bit, when I'll pick up some kind of professional career and look back on this time with a sense of awed disbelief, as I do now to the days when I lived alone with three small children on twopence a week with two lots of nappies to wash and dry. But I get scared that actually I may always be jittery and reactive rather than proactive. Fucking fireworks - they feel like mini electric shocks, which is just embarrassing. Really. I got freaked out at home so came over here where most of them are away, just sis and niece 1 left. Bloody great firework display in the garden of the pub round the corner, loud bangs, had to breathe through them, talk myself down. Absolutely cannot bear it.

Still, here I am in lovely niece 2's room, all glam and lovely and with a small chihuahua hiding on the bed under her dressing gown, thinking I can't see him, but snoring quite resoundingly. Cat on the windowsill behind the curtains.

I can't get on the nano site from the laptop though as I forgot to bring (or even look at) my password. I did the thing for a new one but the site has slowed to a crawl as November is currently arrivin around the globe. That was when I got here about six hours ago and there's still no email. America's nowhere near starting yet either. I shall still wait till midnight before writing anything. I'm cheating rebelling by writing a non-fiction book, but a) so are plenty of others and b) I shall make quite a bit of it up, so it's not exactly true either and c) I shall abide by all other rules. Honest.

The cat has come down from the window sill and is now cleaning her arse on the pillow next to me. Quite thoroughly. She seems a massive creature, much bigger than Bob and twice the size of poor wee Rusty, the bloody chihuahua.



11:25 p.m. - 31/10/2009


Help me if you can, I'm feeling down

At group this morning we were looking at solving social difficulties. It took a while for me to get to the bottom of why I can travel to America to visit people I've never met yet can't get down the road to a nano meeting in a cafe, but I think I've nailed part of it. It's my fear of the question, "So, Anna, what do you do?" which I have tended to answer with, "I'm a teacher but I lost my last job when I had a breakdown and now I go to a psychiatric hospital twice a week and..." but they've usually fled by then. I always think I'm not going to blurt everything out but either I do and it gets uncomfortable or I'm so frozen with anxiety that no one speaks to me much anyway.

I have been given the task of coming up with as many answers to this question as possible, including mad, stupid, fantastic ones. I am instructed to brainstorm for myself, not sticking to the sensible, and also to ask trusted people for their ideas, which also have no need to be appropriate.

So, dear reader, I am asking you for your help. I already have "Fuck off and mind your own business," but anyone have any other ideas? I would be so grateful for your suggestions, however mental.

Off to write my novel now, back later xxx


6:55 p.m. - 02/11/2009


Walking the dawg

I've arrived in a busy phase - always the way - time to write = nothing to write about and vice versa.

Lots of art today, like felt-making:

which I just loved to bits, although my natural tendency is to work too quickly, so my pieces didn't come out as I expected, but I know what I did wrong and how to improve next time:

They don't photograph very well - I can't capture the smoothness of the finished thing. All I need to do it at home is a bamboo mat and I do think I may have one somewhere. I know exactly where I'd find both large (for the beach) and small (for the table) in the old house, but fuck knows if they're here or if we binned them and meanwhile I have a novel to write. I'm up to just over 7,000 words, which I think is a bit less than is due by Nov 5th - yeah, just checked, 1300 odd short, but fuck it. I'm going to try and keep steady, as so far I'm enjoying the writing of it. Did 500 words in the laundrette while my clothes were drying, which I was pleased with because it was fucking uncomfortable sitting on a very low bench trying to balance the laptop on my knees but I just kept on going and that made me feel good.

I had a great time with Marcus last night and lots of silliness with my girls on s/k/y/p/e - free laptop to laptop video calls - what a world we live in - this is science fiction coming to pass. Like those fucking 1ph0nes which ARE the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, right here, right now, in (other, richer) people's hands.

I'm going to write about the 'what do I tell people who ask me what I do' thing in detail, but not tonight. They're clever with the task-setting at group - that one had many unforeseen consequences, all good.

This evening at the art class we made tiny pictures in those frames for old photographic slides, and decorated them. As soon as the teacher started telling us about it I knew I wanted to have words, one in each frame, which expressed a pearl of wisdom I've had from H recently to steer me back out of the Pit of Doom. I know it was only last week that she said something really simple, which I knew already but had been forgetting and which calmed me immediately. I said at the time I was going to write it down and put it on the wall. Could I remember it tonight? No chance. Can I remember it now? Nope. Fucking useless. I even went and had a meditative fag out by the back door:

but I couldn't think of it. It may have been something to do with self-compassion, but that's a big word for a small frame so I did 'Just be kind' instead:

and I saw a wheelchair with this on the back, just in the street, empty, by a van:

sweet dreams xxxx


12:23 a.m. - 06/11/2009


You got me so I can't sleep at night

Thank you so much for all the responses to my request for help earlier (please turn back if you are a regular reader, it's only a short post, I promise, and I would value your opinion) - the comments made me feel really excited because now I see there are so many different kinds of reponse and because you are so kind.

I asked Bloke, who said, "Hmm. You could - no - well - you could say you were a housewife - no, maybe not..." A housewife? A fucking HOUSEWIFE?????? Jesus H Christ, I haven't heard anybody use that term since the 1970s apart from bloody OLD people, by which I mean much older than me and not six weeks younger. Housewife - married to the fucking house, I should cocoa. I know lots of women who have not worked for various reasons at various times in their lives, including myself when my kids were young, but I can't think of one who had any concept of even the word 'housewife' anywhere in her mind, body or spirit. Fucker.

I'm tempted by the response 'take drugs and shag teenagers', but actually my problem is with people I'm starting to like a bit and want to be real with, without too much (scary) information too soon. J suggested the 'writer' response a while ago but the only time I used it, it was immediately followed by more questions that I didn't have sensible answers for. And 'what do you do' is an inevitable part of getting to know people. Still, I feel better prepared for the felt-making group on Thursday, especially as I'll have seen H on Wednesday when the next stage is to practise saying some of them out loud - yikes (in a good way, but still YIKES!!!).

I went mental (surely not?) and copied that post and sent it to all sorts of people in my real life, people I trust, but not many of whom know anywhere near as much about the state of my poor head as you guys do. Then I panicked, thought fuck it, had another spliff and wrote a bit more novel. Up to 4006 words, which is my target for the day, but look what it's done to me:

I feel really warm and cared for. Thank you for that xxx


12:50 a.m. - 03/11/2009


I remember it well

Ha. I have succumbed to the lure of Write or Die which I have had as a favourite for ages and never used because it's obviously bollocks. I mean, it's OK for stream of consciousness stuff, not proper novel writing. But lots of nanoers have recommended it on the twitter #nanopanic stream (yeah, I've succumbed to that as well - it has been raining a lot and it's cold out there), so I thought I'd give it a go last night.

It was shit or bust time with nano. I left here feeling I didn't want to NOT do it, but still couldn't get myself to start. So, I saw a link to write or die, clicked on it, bunged in 1,000 words in thirty minutes as my aim and managed it a few minutes within the time. If you stop, a screen comes up after a few seconds reminding you to get going and although of course you can ignore it, it raises that question - do I want to get this done or not? Well I do, so I get on with it.

Yeah well, so what? It's bound to be shite anyway, written that fast. But actually, this is the bit that has me hooked. I'm writing about my trip to America and I've been struggling with the fact that, having a memory like a sieve, I can only remember a selection of moments and don't really have much holding it together - mistakenly believing that writing is what you do when you know what to write, rather than being the process through which you find out what you have to say.

It's like taking a deep breath and emerging back in one of those situations. Such as burning the croissants and filling Boxx's apartment with a vile smelling thick pall of smoke. I went back there in my head and just had to get it all down, but it only seems to work if I'm belting along at breakneck speed. Very harsh on the fingers when you're a two finger typist, but utterly exhilarating.

I did a thousand last night and three batches of a thousand each today, so I'm catching up with the word count, if not the story. Day twelve of novel writing, and I'm still on the first few days of the holiday; 13,703 out of 50,000 words. The proportions are all wrong, but I reckon I could get into the habit of banging out a thousand words a day till the end of the story. Might have to do that Mavis Beacon typing program, but not now.

Grateful for; health - feeling good; living the artistic life I fantasised about, at least this week; felt-making tomorrow (see what I mean); good session with R; a swim in the dark; getting free parking spaces wherever I stopped all day.

Sweet dreams xxx


when you're weary, feeling small

I feel as if I've neglected my poor diary of late (probably because I have) but when I think about what I've been doing it seems like fuck all. Not that that's ever stopped me before, but... It's probably the contrast between the American stuff I've been writing about and sitting on the sofa all day jabbing bits of wool with a sharp steel pin. Ideally, I would be showing a picture of what I have managed to do with the beret disaster to turn it into a wall hanging, because I need some advice. It looks quite good, but there's something missing - no focal point, and I don't know how to make one. But as I was trying to get the pictures off my camera I accidentally bunged the card into the wrong slot on the PC and it fell in.

I think there must be something happening with Uranus in my chart - Uranus rules technology and lots of it is going wrong around here. The printer's dead, the washing machine doesn't get rid of the water when it spins and now the camera's fucked. That'll do for this little rush of techno-collapse, thank you very much.

At group we are now doing 'Personal Recovery Plan', which clearly sounds like car insurance. It's like a whizz through the whole programme and makes me realise they really are going to make us stand up out here in the world without them, the bastards, and quite soon. Today's bit was entitled 'Everyday Maintenance' (still holding to the car metaphor, which doesn't help me as my car runs on nothing but petrol and optimism), starting with 'My Lifestyle'. I was pretty pleased with myself about this one, especially when I realised how few of the others have actually made a commitment to putting any of this stuff in place, even the basics like eating sensibly and regularly and taking a bit of exercise. It makes me feel sad that some people have come all this was through the programme and haven't taken some of the basic principles to heart. Like self-compassion, looking after your self as you would a beloved friend who was poorly and had been for some time. I'm not great at sustaining the food now it's just for me, but I am having regular breakfast of muesli and banana which sets me up well for the day, leaves me feeling grounded. I haven't given up my tradition old slapper's breakfast of two strong black coffees and five fags, this is a supplement. My everyday maintenance includes exercise, self-compassion, lying down quite a lot, crap-reality TV, creativity and learning something new, asking for help, having some commitments but not too many, socialising a bit, trying to find a balance between my needs and those of others. Jesus. Just writing it all down makes me think I might lie down right now

Sweet dreams xxx


11:49 p.m. - 30/11/2009


Ha ha, bet you haven't made it down to here! Do comment if you have - and thank you! xxx


I am grateful for: having had such a full rich life which ain't over yet; a walk with M today;.a blog going back like this to read and laugh at; the photos came through (amazeballs); bed now

I'm going to try and write every night again, at least a few words.

12:56 a.m. - 15.01.17


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