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‘I feel proactive/I pull out weeds’

My husband and I have spent the last month apart; this worried a couple of people but there’s no problems, it was just for him to have a break, for me to have time alone to write and for us both to have the experience of being in the world without each other. It turns out, two weeks was plenty.

I did lots of driving both big trips and just around the local area (usually we default to him doing the driving). I mostly ate Covent Garden soup and Wicked sandwiches from the little Tesco on the way back from work. Always also in my basket were vegan staples avocados and bananas, plus satsumas, and bread for the swans.

I bought fuel, managed the fire and kept warm (it got cold right after he left, then warmed up, then got cold, now warm, will get cold tomorrow, this is the UK!) I emptied the toilet and filled the water tank.

I managed life on the boat fine. I did lots of writing/editing and I went to work usually just a couple of long shifts each week.

A couple in their sixties, experienced boaters who have been continuous cruisers for two and a half years including in London, live in the same place and have provided nice regular chats as well as the warm security blanket of them knowing I’m on my own and saying that if I need anything I can go to them.

People at work have suddenly become astonishingly friendly, as if I reached a kind of tipping point. One day I had to fight the urge to look behind me, convinced that a member of staff must be greeting someone else, she looked so pleased to see me. Another hugged me, ‘I wondered when you’d next be here.’

I had the odd lonely moment but this was almost always quickly followed by loud noises outside the boat heralding the arrival of two hungry swans.

I had the highs of spiritual insights (see below), and I maintained awareness and acceptance of the natural highs, lows and plateaus.

Writing

I’ve been editing/polishing aiming to get the book all to the same stage. When I get to a place where the chapter is more or less done (small tweaks may still be needed but I know what to do and one session on it would do it), I move on. I’m probably between a third and half the way through, maybe more. I hope to have this phase done by the end of February. Then another final polish until it is all as good as I can make it on my own.

I write almost every day, for about an hour or two. If I overdo it or try to rush it it doesn’t go so well, I get fatigued, and I lose confidence. I had one brief dip/anxiety; I forced myself to just do a bit. Half an hour later, I was okay. I could see what I was doing and had confidence that I could do it. I stopped then, grateful for that, and mindful that just half an hour was enough to give me back my hope.

One night, driving home, listening to some spiritual music sent to me by friends this month, I thought about explaining how it is to write a whole book, ‘You have to keep going. And you have to make it good.’ And then I got goosebumps. ‘Oh my God, that’s just like life….’

What I’ve been reading/watching

About people living on boats, funnily enough! I am interested in the people living in London and in particular the Continuous Cruisers. The lifestyle is explained here and this article outlines detailed tips and scary dangers. For Des, and anyone unfamiliar with the hitherto counter culture and now much more mainstream lifestyle choice of living on a narrowboat.

‘Things not to say’ from the BBC

Short films of people from different walks of life explaining the clichéd, irritating and insulting things people say to them.

Netflix: 

Before the first week was out, all of Shameless US Season 7 (I adore it, it’s based on the original Shameless set in the UK. The US seems so much tougher, I would love to hear what my American and Canadian readers make of Shameless US Season 7, no spoilers so no details) and the new season of Atypical about a teen with Autism and his family and friends. I love this so much. So then I just went onto, as planned, re watching BoJack Horseman from the beginning. Depression, fame, nihilism, existentialism, barely unremitting sadness. Don’t let the fact that it’s a cartoon fool you.

The superpowers which come with the onset of the menopause, from mumsnet. I’m always looking for the deeper meaning and spiritual context, here it is: ‘Am I having a mid life awakening or a personality transplant?’ ‘I feel like I just woke up from the matrix.’ Reading this I thought, as I often did when my regular monthly period would arrive, ‘Ah, that explains a lot….’

The space apart, the space together

I read a blog post by someone who married someone with a different language and from such a vastly different culture that there’s things the other person can’t ever know or understand, and that means the writer has a space that’s private. As someone who likes a lot of time alone, I totally understand and relate to that as a concept. However, my marriage is not like that. It’s really important to me to feel really understood. My husband and I spend a lot of time talking about all sorts of ideas, and together it feels as if we create a new space together to live in, outside of ourselves and in addition to what we’d have individually. Even in the early days, I had this sense. I used to visualise our new relationship as one of those air plants, growing in a thin glass bowl, suspended in the air between us, growing separately from the both of us, yet something we were both growing.

Anyway, we’ve missed each other, and neither of us currently want to go on separate adventures in the near future.

And in case you need more convincing about Bojack:

Thank you very much for reading