Yes, darling. Life sucks

Learning how to cope since 1982


on things I've lost along the way

Posted by SunOfYork |

Well, it might seem obvious to you, but I've never really allowed myself to linger and take my time to consider the things and people I've lost along the way. I'm usually more of a pragmatic woman, which means that whenever I feel blue, I need to do things to fight that condition. But I happen to be stuck in a moment of my life when all my past is coming to the surface, so I have no other option than deal with it.
You know, when it comes to the past, the thing is that memories are sneaky and have got shark teeth: they bite your heels just when you turn your back on them and kid yourself that you'll get away with it. They also come under different guise so they're virtually impossible to forecast. Mine, up to now, have had the shape of a scarf, a bet, rice with tomato sauce, a wrong decision, a car park in the middle of nowhere, a somersault, a song by some cheesy Italian singer sung at the top of your lungs, ten thousand coffees, a very very long conversation in a sunny morning of June, lentil soup, a concert, a star-shaped pendant and another star right above in the sky, a book next to a pillow, early morning and late night whatsapp messages, a floral dress you'll never be able to wear again, a lazy stroll along the arcades in Bologna, the taste of pizza made from scratch, me teaching modal verbs with some silly sketch, a hug in front of my place, raspberries as a dessert, a crazy drive on the highway at night, a weird house full of cats peeping through the windows, a laundry detergent, two big mistakes, oats porridge. Memories also sort of get a kick out of ambushing you, so there's no chance you'll ever know when they're going to hit you. It can literally happen any time: in the morning, while you're parking your car after driving your daughter to school or at night, by depriving you of your sleep or if you're so lucky to fall asleep, through such harrowing nightmares that you'd rather not sleep at all.
But still day follows night and, as someone said, after all tomorrow is another day. Let's see how it goes.


Not dark yet (but it's getting there)

Posted by SunOfYork |

This is a picture I took from our Airbnb flat in Madrid last december. The apartment was warm and cozy, full of memories of the owner's trips and objects coming from the most exotic places, not to mention the lovely blue terrace and what to us looked like hands-down the best view of the city.
And yet I took this picture and I vividly recall my thinking of an objective correlative of some sort: the dark clouds standing out against a dull grey sky and a sudden wind slamming the windows shut and knocking over the fat plants. It all makes sense now. They were there as a warning of my endless ability to reset and nullify every effort to be something a bit better than a loose cannon. They were there to remind me of how easy it is to lose your balance and hurt the people you love - believe me, it literally takes a bunch of words and 10 to 30 seconds tops to alter the course of a life - and how fragile a thing happiness is.
I was reminded of this picture this morning by the same livid sky while I was taking a walk in this minefield that is my town (not that I will ever consider this town as mine, but still) and my brain was going around in circles. 
I'm trying hard. I try to do things that keep me focused: I swim, I read, I teach, I talk, God knows if for the first time in my life I'm getting things off of my chest. Cannot say it's working now, but eventually it will. And the awareness of how sooner or later I will sort things out is bittersweet and redeeming at the same time. It's been a long time -about 10 years I'd say - since I fooled myself into thinking of human joys and sorrows as something absolute and everlasting: we all try our best, we all make mistakes, sometimes we forgive and forget, sometimes we don't. Sometimes all we want is a place to be, a shelter from the storm, as someone would say. Sometimes we're out in the cold.


Our souls at night

Posted by SunOfYork |

Some books just happen with such an impeccable timing. I've hidden Our souls at night by Kent Haruf in a corner of my mind for months and started it when I was still blissfully unaware that soon I'd need someone to gently pat me on my head and fix my crippling fears with simple, soothing words. Which Kent Haruf didn't fail in doing, with his compassionate brush strokes and his depiction of an ordinary, suburban love story (if there is such thing as an "ordinary" love story).  
The plot is easy and the feelings involved are not of the larger-than-life kind: Addie and Louis, two old widowed neighbours decide to sleep together at night to share their thoughts and open up their souls. What they get in return from this down-to-earth routine is amazing: relief from their loneliness and, eventually, love. Reading these two old people have no qualms about disclosing affairs, deaths, sacrifices, simple joys - that is to say, life - and observing their souls gracefully collide, without giving a damn about the small-town gossip, made it clear to me something I've known for decades but I just wouldn't admit even to myself. Whether we're talking about love, family, career, it takes a lot of courage to be happy. And even when you're so brave to achieve happiness,  it's not for free, it's not to be taken for granted and - most of all - it's not forever. So let's just enjoy what we have and try to make the most of it, as Addie and Louis did. And, if it worked for them, fingers crossed, it'll work for us as well.



Posted by SunOfYork |

What's going on is that basically I'm in a mood which could be easily classified as "straight out of Kafka's worst nightmares". To give you an idea of the extent of the distress I've been going through lately, just let me say that my acquaintances don't even have to ask me how I am (to which, as my students know, I would reply "a bit under the weather" even if I'm perfectly fine), they just start with "how a..." and then they go like "ouch, I'm sorry" and then in the blink of an eye, they're vanished. 
Anyway. No drama, no big tragedies, no tears and screaming, just routine biting hard, as someone would say. 
So, what I know for certain is that I need to get my shit together. Not for me, as a matter of fact I couldn't care less, but for my husband and daughter at least. I still want to be their favourite rockstar after all.
The thing is I don't dig shrinks very much, I hate hangovers as much as I hate the idea of bothering my friends with the wandering thoughts of a slightly neurotic 35-yeard-old woman and am not a big fan of unrequested advice anyway so... what do I do?
Well, as a matter of fact I happen to be a huge fan of chlorine -not such a big fan of workout though, but you know, in wartime.. - so I go swimming.  
And there I am, swimming my wild mood swings away, while muttering a song my daughter taught me ("Swimming swimming in the swimming pool, the days are hot, the days are cool in the swimming pool" and so on) and I realize my brain and heart might still be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but I'm totally nailing my 40th lap and my best front crawl, and my arms might be my weak point as I've been told once by someone,  but my back and my legs are strong (as my bestfriend and I would joke during highschool, we both have got Maradona's calves), and so am I, and honestly guys I'm feeling a bit shocked and a lot relieved by how powerful I'm feeling underwater.
And then, on the lane next to mine, there comes this guy. He might be 25-26 years old, big muscular guy, and he's so obviously trying to challenge me. For a moment I think he must be kidding, but no he isn't. You, tender blossom of a man, you don't know the half of it. Yes, I'm talking to you, badass, with that athletic body, that big sculpted biceps (hey, I'm not going to deny that), you, with that bold smile and your perfect buttefly style, maybe you have time to work out every day, but I've already had to put up with many things in my life and I can tolerate being oxygen-deprived for 100 metres more, plus I'm in a very hormonal stage of my life so you might have the power of your own muscles, but I have my very own private reasons not to give up...
Ok well, this was the tone of my thoughts, the minute before the 25-year-old Ian Thorpe in the lane next to mine decided to speed up and overtook me, but then he got a bad leg cramp and had to get out of the water consequently while I went back to my normal speed without incurring in a triple bypass.
Life's unfair darling. Good news is you've got plenty of time to figure it out.


I'm back

Posted by SunOfYork |

I'm back.

I don't even know how to do this anymore, but I'm back. I've changed language, hairstyle, lifestyle, job, city, beliefs about life, the universe and everything.
5 years since my last post. 5 years since my world has been turned upside down by the little psycopath I use to call my daughter.
Thousands of tears, laughter, shoes bought, lullabies sung and nappies changed later, but the spirit is still there untamed (and God only knows nothing can tame the spirit like a nappy-change).
I don't know how I survived motherhood. Because they're not going to award you the Nobel Peace Prize for screaming your wild toddler reasonable things like "darling, stop chasing the other kids with a knife!" or "Agata, please hon, scratching his eyes out like a racoon is not nice!". But the thing is they should, because it's hard work, and it's not for free.
I really don't know how I survived motherhood. Actually, I don't know how all those great mothers out there survive motherhood but I guess everyone has to find their own way.
So basically I'm here to tell you how I found mine. And believe me when I say I was not a "natural": I was (and sometimes still am) a catastrophe. And that's my greatest asset.