Your Last Night

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You were born here.

I birthed you; arching, panting, scooping, gathering ourselves together here, in this space.

Tonight will be our last night here. You will not remember these two first years of your life. I will drive by here in years to come to show you the bay window behind which you took your first newborn breaths.

You fell asleep restless at half past eight, 26 months having now passed and with so many words, so much to say that you stumble over yourself. You cannot wait to join your sister and I in all that we do.

‘LIFT ME UUUUP’ you command, demand, every time we leave a room. You have to open the door, turn the key, press the button and most recently, ‘I want to drop Lyra at school ON MY OWN.’

The memories of this place are muddied. What I once looked on as happiness has soured in recollection. There is laughter within the haze, bucket loads of love. You won’t remember a thing.

At the new house (and who knows how long we will be there, or whether you’ll remember that) you and your sister dart about, exploring, hide-and-seek in the ample cupboard space. HOT RUNNING WATER AND NO F*CKING LEAK IN MY BEDROOM. Four years of Brighton seafront have been enough for me.

Staring at the space in which you became.. became.. your own little person though. A little being with a life expectancy of a century. A memory of a blog started, staring at a space in this room.. Every fragment of memory lingering.. will it all just dispel when we leave?

Will I remember all this a little bit less? Clutching to photographs, pining over video recordings lost with my laptop?

This time has been mad, but it’s magic. I don’t know where we’re going next, but I mourn just a little as we leave this very special place.

2014

So, new years resolutions start on the Monday following NYE, right?

L starts school next week (eek).

Elsie is desperate to join; ask her age and she will reply ‘Nearly two’, ask how old she would like to be and it’s ‘Five! Go to school like Lyra’.

2013 flew by and I’m determined that 2014 won’t pass us by in quite the same way.

I managed to have my first ever car crash at the end of last year. Worst possible scenario? M25, rush hour Friday evening, in the rain with two young children. All was fine (other than my car, and the guy in front’s BMW) Yeh, not much fun. The insurance paid out for my car and I’ve decided that for city centre living as we’re currently doing it, a car isn’t a necessity. The amount I’d spend catching the train to London and back is nothing compared with tax/insurance/MOT/permits/petrol.. etc. Anyone who has lived in Brighton will know it’s not the most car-friendly place.. I’ve mastered parallel parking since living here at least, and after eight years was starting to get my head around the maze of one-way streets which zig-zag throughout the place.

L’s school seems sweet, we went to their Christmas Fete and have chatted loads about this new experience.

I’ve decided I’m having a quarter life crisis. Currently torn between applying to study for a PGCE, find funding for the Social Research masters I was accepted on, to set up a kids’ drama and storytelling group, keep writing, or ohh maybe we should set up a campsite. A little all over the place.. but then I remember that about half of my school and university friends are working in bars – which puts it all in perspective!

Resolutions?

Less facebook,  fewer grains,  no sugar,  more running.

They definitely start Monday though. Right?

 

School!

 

Today was my eldest (4 year old) daughter’s first (half) day at school (with her little sister and I present)

I know it may not sound like a big deal, but it felt like one.

Elsie will happily tell anyone and everyone that she is ‘nearly two’, but when asked how old she would like to be, she will always say ‘five’. She wants to start school. L has been less keen on the idea, but thoroughly enjoyed her P.E lesson, snack and break time today.

Come January she is due to start (without us) half-days for a couple of weeks.

Her school is sweet: one form per year-group, no school uniform, and with a very child-centred approach to learning. I was a little bit over-obsessed with a lack of any greenery/trees, that being my main memory of primary school in leafy Hertfordshire; that stuff is definitely compensated for in other ways though.

I’m not sure what else to add to this.. just wanted to mark the occasion with an ‘eek’, and a sigh..

A not-so-happy space..

It’s November, and it’s pouring on Brighton seafront.

Yesterday we looked around (another) primary school. It has four form entry; four classes of thirty pupils enter reception each year. There are five year one classes though, the council requested the school add a ‘bulk’ class, due to the recent baby boom..

The school was friendly, L loved the look of the playground.

This time last year we were thinking of moving to London.

I think it’s the weather, and the changing seasons, but I am starting to feel ‘homesick’ again – missing family, familiarity and company.

Elsie is growing up so fast, it’s wonderful watching her and Lyra play together more. Last week we had friends round, the two four year old girls played ‘mummies’, with E as their babe. We’ve been spending a lot more time indoors, getting into toys and imaginary play again. It’s fun – but something seems to be lacking, as the girls hover somewhere between being too old for toddler groups, but too young for anything overly focused in terms of education. L enjoys the Reading Eggs games, and is learning loads from them.

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I don’t have much else to update on, and am aware that the minute detail of our day-to-day existence is trickling more into what claims to be a more insightful/meaningful blog! I want this to be a happy, celebratory sort of place (with honesty and reality too..) so will aim to pop back with some happier stuff. Christmas/Chanukah.. etc..

Ooh. Celebrations. We had Halloween, I attended a local party accompanied by a little witch and giraffe. Bonfire night we drove to the local cricket ground (E fell asleep in the car) and watched from the warmth just outside. Last year L was scared of the loud bangs inside the stadium, plus an awful, awful cover band opened the evening.

Ahh, also.. I cut my hair. Yes.. my own hair. It’s curly so I kind of.. can.

 

Love x

Food or Fuel

Overheard at the checkout in Co-op today: ‘It’s food or fuel now, that’s what everyone’s saying’. An elderly man the younger checkout girl.

I’m buying lemons, washing liquid and a couple of other bits.

Will he go home alone? Has his wife died? She could be stuck in bed, maybe she’s been there for a decade – or has she been laying in the ground all those years?

I like to think I care. I like to think that I contribute. I look around at other women my age, going out every weekend.. liver damage.. hour long commutes to desk-bound soul-destroying jobs.. and I like to think that the way I spend my time is worthwhile. I like to think that I am contributing to the world. I watch him leave the store, and I remember how lucky I am; warm home to return to, able to dedicate most of my time to raising my young girls, a pretty secure and happy life. Although I’ve volunteered far more hours than I’ve ever worked, and do not aim ever for a life of accumulation, I feel something like guilt – a longing perhaps.

Our community is so disjointed. What is solidarity, what are unity and comradeship if we cannot affect change?

I’ve blogged recently about my friend Moyra’s Secret Salad Society, which has inspired me to host an evening of soup later this month, as the seafront weather begins to turn bitter. I only wish I had a bigger flat! I grew up surrounded by community, part of a large family and close knit Jewish community near London. I miss Friday night and festival gatherings, and would love both to fill this void and get to know fellow Brightoners a little better. I’ve worked for Brighton-based ‘Harmony in the Community’ occasionally over the past few years, since I was an undergrad new to the area. They help organise and provide stewarding for festivals and events, giving high priority to ethical and community conscious considerations.

I love that despite the diversity of opinion within this city, social and environmental awareness always seem to be at heart. We have a Green MP, and although arty-Brighton could be said to be smug and Champagne-Socialist-esque, it’s refreshing to feel positive change can and is being achieved, at grassroots level – if not though our current government overall.

I’m thinking about starting a drama/storytelling group. I used to be involved in running after school and summer camp groups for school aged children - so it’s something I know a fair bit about and enjoy. Plus my kids would love it. They’re hilarious, having decided they are ‘best friends’, I now seem to have a tidy flat and a fair bit more time on my hands. It’s actually lovely, after a year of not-so-loving interactions between the two.

What else is new?

Not much. After the Co-op we went to the GPs for my blood test (think anaemic, not fun.) I was very ill after Lyra was born, and feeling a touch of the same faintness, lethargy and heart racing has me feeling pretty nervous. I’ve stopped running, quit caffeine and am on the iron tabs, steak and vit.C diet. Eek.

I don’t think there’s anything else to update on really. Life seems to be getting easier. Elsie is now the age Lyra was when I was pregnant with her. It feels as though I am regaining a lot of ‘me’ time. The girls are very happy to go off with their dad, and I can.. well.. the possibilities are endless. I want to get running again, write more, look after the flat, see friends.. etc. It’s a bit odd. My mum worked a *lot* when I was a teenager, and went well out of her way to dedicate her time to us.. so being a mama who goes ‘out’ and has a life away from my girls seems to be something I feel really guilty about. BUT.. am also realising that when I don’t prioritise things like going for a massage on the weekend, or writing for an hour in the morning, I’m not such a great parent.

Enough ranting! Will update on the blood test results.

Love x

 

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Why make art?

It’s half 5 am, again.

I have not been sleeping well lately. I’ve been falling asleep around 8-9pm with the girls, which seems to result in waking at 2-5am unable to return to sleep.. oh dear.

I am watching The Hobbit making of documentary online (again).

On Friday I attended a screening of the film ‘Lost in Living’ put on by a friend. It was fab & one of the questions posed & discussed by us after was.. why make art?

When there is so much practical work to be done – as a parent, domestic chores, nurturing, not to mention financial worries and pressures.. how can anyone justify making art?

The best way for me to give my response would be to turn the question on its head.

As a full time caregiver, chore-doer and financially stressed being, what’s the best way for me to nurture myself in the little pockets of time I have? What is the most freeing form of self expression? What do I enjoy most? What would I like to dedicate my ‘me’ time to? What can I luxuriate on, now?

I no longer spend hours at the shops choosing clothes (wasn’t too keen on that before anyway), I go out for a drink & catch up with friends very occasionally, and I’m in no rush to substitute precious moments with my young children for the sake of any old job.

Why make art?

The mothers in the film had all felt pressured to justify themselves.

My mum worked as a physiotherapist & was drawn to biology at school. She is interested in the tangible and practical. She spends the vast majority of her spare time at the stables, mucking out or horse riding, all very hands on. She thinks I over analyse, and I do, but I can’t help it (am realising and coming to terms with this more rather than trying to ‘Just stop over thinking everything!’ as she instructs..)

Soooo trying to justify to myself that it’s OK to and totally valid to want to self-express or explore worlds and lives and topics totally superfluous to here-and-now feels a little odd, and really made me connect with the film. Mothers of the past few decades of feminisms discussed their experiences, and their children were interviewed too. Finding a balance between giving as a parent, and feeling (shiver at the cliché but can’t think of better word) empowered as a (oh, here we go) woman, is still a strange place of void and suspicion. Women are divided by their status, their priorities, their choices and judgements.

Why make art?

I used to watch the Lord of the Rings ‘behind the scenes’ film making documentaries again.. and again.. and again. I was obsessed with every part of the process. That hundreds of people would come together and make something unreal. The collaborative effort and shared camaraderie; wanting to move people, feeling moved themselves in such a big way. In our individualised society of bigger, better, faster, more.. there is still space for art. People still go to the cinema in their millions and spend hours watching, entering another world, luxuriating and letting themselves be challenged, or moved. They have no idea about the process behind the result. They do not know about the 50 takes which may have preceded the images they are watching flash before them. They do not know the team who sweated and stayed awake worrying weeks before the pitch was due and celebrated before weeks of planning.

Art appears in pop-up shops, it is on city streets and it is in every library book, untouched for years and rediscovered at random. Art comes into my mind when I am on a bus. I will remember a line or a scene, and smile, or think. It will relate to some moment of my day, the two merge and create a new thought pattern. Perception alters, life reflects art, reflecting life, and the two create each other.

Why make art?

I still feel under pressure. Who am I to make art? I feel pressured to express something beyond my depth.. to solve world crises and expose corruption. Then I click onto Youtube. Hannah Montana has dry humped a wrecking ball.. or something along those lines; I’m not sure, I’m still refusing to watch it. Memes spring up on Facebook, mildly racist. My teenage sister posts another Quizzzzz. I begin to feel justified in making art.

My cousin (who I’ve only met a couple of times & lives on the other side of the planet) makes a video about making art. I make more art. I’m not sure whether it’s good, but I certainly start to feel justified.

 

Didn’t get funded (bleugh.)

I thought I was entitled to various loans/grants. Long story short.. I wasn’t

So, I don’t start uni this year.

I am training to run workshops for ‘Mothers Uncovered’, a Brighton-based community organisation, which seeks to help women in the earliest stage of their parenting careers through creative expression and holistic ‘Big Sunday’s: pampering, creativity, performance, etc. It’s totally my thing and today the girls stayed in the crèche downstairs for the full three hours’ training session !

I’ve been feeling rather anaemic lately, so on iron tablets and multivitamins, plus giving exercise (or at least cardio) a miss for a while (boo hoo x 2.) also upping meat intake and trying out more of a paleo-style high meat diet for now.

Sorry for the glum post!

I am looking forward to Autumn though and all its obligatory leaf-crunching with my two tinies.

 

Love xx