Friday, 11 March 2016


I don't tend to write very much about my depression. I don't want that to be what this blog is about. Quick, let me distract you with a picture of Murdoch.

A photo posted by @readyamefire on

Look at that gorgeous little bastard.

Mostly, I'd rather use this space to tell you about the things that I am doing rather than the things that I'm not doing. There are a million things that I'm not doing.

I'm not washing my hair every day, because every single day starts with me having to negotiate with myself get out of bed and face the world and sometimes the only way to do that is to tell myself that I don't have to wash and dry my hair, just get in the shower and you can tie it back in a pony tail.

I'm not showering every day, because sometimes that negotiation doesn't work and I have to get up and go as I am, because life doesn't stop and you can't call in sick to work and tell them that it's because your brain can't comprehend how to make your limbs move. That your brain refuses to make them move because the world is out there and it's too much. So you make your limbs move and you go out there and you face it. Every day.

I don't do the washing up every day, I do it about once or twice a week.  I sit on the sofa feeling anxious about the fact that there is washing up in the sink.  Worrying that it's been there for days.  Thinking about what I can cook for dinner that doesn't involve using the stuff that needs washing up. But I don't do the washing up. It's beyond me.

I sit on the sofa, not sorting and putting away the pile of clean underwear that has been sat next to me for weeks. Instead I just take a pair of knickers and a bra from the pile each morning and add more clean stuff when I can find it within myself to put a wash on..... to put a wash on?! Seriously?! I'm not going down to the river to beat it with a rock. I'm popping it in the washing machine in the kitchen and waiting for it to finish. But then, you see, I'll have to hang it up to dry, which will inevitably lead to it needing to be put away, or GOD FORBID ironed.

I don't see my friends and family as much as I would like.  I have to talk myself into it, every time.  I know that I'll enjoy time with them once I'm there. But GOD, the effort of it. Because I'll have to shower and wash my hair and style it and put on some make up and find something to wear and oh no, the laundry hasn't been done and nothing fits and OH! there's something that fits screwed up at the back of the cupboard, but CRAP I'm going to have to fucking iron it for FUCK'S SAKE. And that's before I've even got the other side of the front door.  And I'll have to think of stuff to say that makes it sound as though my life is busy and fun and full, because you can't tell your friends that you've spent most of the week sitting on the sofa in a Mexican standoff with a pile of underwear. They'd probably understand, because they're good people, these friends and family of mine. But nonetheless, you don't say it, because you don't want to sound like a crazy person. Or almost worse, a lazy person.

I've become pretty bad at looking after myself. It's difficult to comprehend how you're going to make it to the swimming pool, when your own pants are mocking you from the next seat. It recently took me four weeks to get around to making a dentist appointment, even though my gums were bleeding. I was bleeding from my mouth, sitting on the sofa, wondering what to do about my socks and the pile of washing up and dear god I haven't cleaned the bathroom for weeks and it's been three days since I washed my hair.

My very wise friend B said that one of the things about depression is that it takes the word "just" out of your vocabulary.  You are incapable of thinking "I'll just pop to the shops" or "I'll just put this pile of pants away" or "I'll just go for a quick swim".  There is no just.  There is no lightness of feeling that these are small daily tasks that you're more than capable of doing in a jiffy. Everything has weight.  It's hard. It all feels so hard. And so you get paralysed because your brain has turned you into a lump of rock and you can't imagine being able to make the effort it takes to get enough momentum to get moving.  Ironically, the big stuff is a bit easier, because the need to do big things (such as going to LA) is a giant shove that gets the momentum started and you just try and keep it rolling. 

SO. In amongst all of that stuff, I'm going to take a moment to think about the things that I have been able to do.

I did eventually go to the dentist and it was just a build up of tartar. I get the washing up done, once or twice a week.  I get the laundry done, even if it never quite makes it to the drawers.  I get the dog walked every day.  I go to work and do the best job that I can.  I see my friends and family and try to keep in contact with them via text or whatsapp when I can't find the oomph to go out and see them. I am (and will continue) doing the best I can.  What else is there? 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


This is going to be brief, in order to make up for the excessively lengthy post I published yesterday, which probably took about 10 minutes of your life to read.  You're never going to get that back, y'know.

When I was a kid, we always used to go on a long summer holiday to France each year.  Dad would hitch the caravan onto the back of the car and Mum would get some maps out of the library so that we could find our way about; this was a simpler time, before satnavs came into use.  The journey through France had a number of rituals and landmarks that would have to be met.

1. The ceremonial first spotting of a Norbert Dentressangle lorry*.  We were not officially on holiday until the first of these (known to us as Norbert Dextrasol) had been spotted, with HUGE kudos going to the person who made the spot.  On some very exciting occasions, this would happen at the ferry port before we'd even left the UK.  

2. The ceremonial falling out between me and my sister.  My poor parents.  It was a long car journey down through France and there was a lot of squabbling.  I remember on one memorable occasion when I was still very little, when we were arguing so strenuously that my dad screeched to a halt, kicked us out of the car and drove off, leaving us by the side of the road.  For about 10 seconds probably, but it scared the shit out of us, as we stood there, comparing how many sweeties we had and wondering how long they'd last us.

3.  The ceremonial falling out between my parents. My mother is an intelligent woman, with a quite frankly phenomenal sense of direction, which I (to a certain extent) have been lucky enough to inherit (together with a butt that just won't quit). However, she is also unfortunately directionally dyslexic, leading to many situations like this:

Mum: *ascertaining need to turn left* "You need to turn right here"
Dad: *starts to turn right*
Mum *gesticulating wildly with left hand* "RIGHT! TURN RIGHT! NO! RIGHT!" 

I wish my dad had learned to always follow the hand, rather than the words.  There is no disconnect between the brain and the hand. The hand does not get it wrong.  I strongly believe that the chances of my parents getting divorced decreased by around 37% with the invention of the satnav.

4. The ceremonial first spotting of that year's new number plate.  At that time, the new vehicle registrations only came out once a year, in August.  So we'd also be keeping an eye out for the first spot of some fancy pants going on holiday with their brand new car. Again, enormous kudos to the person who made the first spot.

All of which is a hugely long winded way of saying, OMG, you guys, I spotted my first 16 plate on Sunday woohoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

* [sidebar - distressing news on the Norbert front]

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


Sometimes events just seem to unfold in a manner that works out beautifully for everyone. Isn't that lovely? I was lucky enough to benefit from a nice little moment of serendipity just a couple of weeks ago. 

One of my bigger goals for 2016 is to visit two new places.  This is because I am a territourist, a creature of habit that tends to go back to the same place, marking my metaphorical territory over and over again. As a result, after my May 2016 holiday, I will have been to Ibiza five times in the last two years. Territorial? I may as well cock my leg and piss up the wall at Pacha and be done with it.  And there's a whole world out there. A whole great big beautiful world, most of which I haven't visited.  

So it was a very good thing when, as a result of a proposal that my boss and I had submitted, my company was shortlisted to pitch our services to a potential new client.

In Los Angeles.

It was also quite fortunate that, when I looked at flights, it was quite significantly cheaper to fly home on the Sunday evening, rather than straight after the Friday morning pitch.

So I found myself in a situation where it was beneficial, both to me and the company that I work for, to spend the weekend by myself in LA. Hoorah!

I will be totally honest. LA was not on my shortlist of places to visit.  I'm not a movie buff and LA has always struck me as a place that is so film-centric that there is probably very little else going on.  Which could make it a little..... superficial?

Well, I was right, but I was also wrong.  It all very much depends on where you go.

I stayed in Venice, in a lovely little Airbnb place [side note, one of my other big goals for 2016 is to TRY NEW THINGS and staying in an Airbnb is a big tick in that box] that was located down a little walk street.

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As you can see this is a lovely little path to walk down..... unless you're doing it for the first time in the dark, having got off the bus manhandling a gigantic suitcase, thinking "Is this safe?  I have no idea if this area is safe" while pondering the fact that if I were watching someone go down this poorly lit alley on TV, I'd be shouting "Don't go down there! Oh for heaven's sake, she's just asking to be murdered, the idiot".  As it turned out, it was all fine and I soon found myself installed in a cute little guesthouse that sat at the end of my host's garden.  I was pretty tired by this point and so with a brief chomp on some Cheetos for dinner, I crashed to sleep on the very comfortable and snuggly bed.

Thankfully, I had a pretty good night's sleep and woke up feeling pretty bright, which was good as it was time to go and pitch!  I put my professional face on and headed out.  I had assumed that the public transport would be like London, with a bus every couple of minutes.  Not the case.  So I ended up walking about two miles to the office in Santa Monica, as my connecting bus just didn't come along.  Thankfully I had allowed plenty of time and was still early for the pitch, which went very well.  And then at about 11am, I was free as a bird in Los Angeles!

After heading back to my Airbnb to get the heck out of my suit, I hit the streets of Venice, CA.  My first port of call was Abbot Kinney Blvd, which is an super hipster street of cute little independent shops.  I wasn't really in the mood for shopping, but I enjoyed strolling along in the warm sunshine.  Very welcome after the cold February weather that we were having in the UK.  I hit the end of the boulevard and found my way to Venice Beach, which was every bit as lively as I thought it would be, with stalls, buskers, and a great group of street dancers.

A video posted by @readyamefire on

By the end of the street dance show, I was pretty hungry, as I hadn't eaten anything yet that day. Thankfully the Sidewalk CafĂ© was able to provide me with an enormous lunch before I headed on up the boardwalk.  After walking northwards up the beach for a while, Venice starts to fade away and becomes Santa Monica, which is like the classy older sister to Venice's raucous young boy.  The beach here is lovely, just like walking onto the set of Baywatch.

A photo posted by @readyamefire on

After a wander around the shops of Santa Monica, I was tired and decided to catch the bus back to Venice, collapsing in bed almost as soon as I got back there early evening. Looking at the health app on my phone, it looks like I walked about 10 miles that day, so no wonder the jetlag caught up with me!

The next day it was time to head to Hollywood.  I got the bus again, which took longer than I thought again.  That's the thing about LA, it's huge and sprawling and nothing is very close to anything else.  I wandered up and down the Walk of Fame until I found Angela Lansbury, then stopped for some lunch.

A photo posted by @readyamefire on

After more public transport related fun, I arrived at the Griffith Observatory, a beautiful art deco style building pearched on top of a hill, where you get the best views of the Hollywood sign.

A photo posted by @readyamefire on

The observatory is sat at the edge of a park that has a load of trails just begging to be walked.  I walked up quite a way, but there was much more I could've walked, if I'd had the energy.  But this point, tiredness was setting in again (DAMN YOU JETLAG!!!) and I grabbed the bus back to my guesthouse for the evening.

On my last day, I spent the morning wandering up and down the Venice Canals, such a beautiful and peaceful place.  Don't go there unless you want to spend quite a bit of time wondering how your life has managed to unfold in a way that has not led to you living there. After the canals, I had just enough time for a wander about (including an extended walk up Main Street to Santa Monica in search of stamps to send out postcards, which I then couldn't find a postbox for GAH!).  It was then time to head back to my Airbnb, grab my suitcase and head back to the airport for the long flight home.

Looking back on this trip, I can definitely say that I enjoyed my time in LA, but don't really feel like there is a lot more there that I would like to see.  I preferred Venice and Santa Monica to Hollywood, as there is a much more relaxed atmosphere in those places, although one point to note about everywhere I went is that there are huge numbers of homeless people, more than I've ever seen anywhere else, which is a really sad thing, with no simple solution.