Monday 21 April 2014


This week in the east
has been full of tables.

Table full
With chairs drawn up
and bodies planted -
Soil rich and ready for growth
We’re here for the night

We eat colour
And colour and colour

Fresh coriander green cosies up to orange sweet potato
punctuated by red chilli
pieces of moon hiding
Together they dance joy on our tongues

Chickpeas giggle at proud peppers
Halloumi squeaks salty delight
and garlic sings in unabashed tones
A choir of cous cous gathers
around the houmous pot

Dive in.

Invited -
we are at ease
Laughter ricochets
we are so grateful
Our coats hung
Glasses filled
Stomachs filled
to bursting

Each night a different set of ears and eyes and stories
a different palate on our plates

Red wine flows easy like conversations
which echo, bounce, reflect, surround
question, celebrate, mourn, thank, learn, recount, remember

Good food is the way to my heart you know
But you are already there

All this
Is extra

All this
is blessing

And we are filled
to bursting.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Day 3 of my proper job (You can't have it all together all the time, can you?)

So, I know you're all desperate to know how my new-full-time-grown-up job is going.

I'll tell you.

After a chilled weekend recovering from tooth extraction, I was full of good intentions for starting work-from-home-all-day with lots of discipline and a healthy mix of work, rest, play, keeping fit, etc.

On Monday I got up a couple of hours before starting, showered, had breakfast, read the Bible, wrote in my journal, watched the news, and started on my aim to write SOMETHING every day (I'm trying out writing stuff first thing based on my dreams, because I always have them, and so there's some inspiration right on hand.  Even if it is slightly weird).  I started work at 9 and finished at 5 and avoided any more video calls with a half naked husband in the background (that was last week!).  I avoided the temptation to crawl into bed during the sleepy early afternoon period.  I popped out during my lunch break to buy food for dinner.  We've had a friend staying and I managed not to be too distracted with her in the other room.

Yesterday I went for a run after finishing work.  My friend cut my hair.  I dressed up, put on makeup and heels and we went out to the bar around the corner to watch hubby and brother-in-law perform at the open-mic.

We also had people for dinner both nights.

Aaahh yeh, working-hostessing-cooking-running-AND-looking-alright.  Go Katrina.

Then there's today.

I overslept because of going to bed later than usual last night (can't cope, it really wasn't that late).  So I didn't start work at 9am.

I am limping because my body is in shock after the run.  And the heels.

I haven't showered.  I haven't even removed last night's makeup because I can't find the cotton wool pads.  And although I managed to get out of my PJs (mainly because I was cold), I didn't quite make it to adding a bra.

I spilled coffee all over the floor, went out to buy more for coffee-addict husband and promptly forgot.

There are empty beer cans all over the flat.

There is white sauce all down my hoodie and 'aladdin pants' because I somehow threw the whisk at myself.

It's now 4 hours since I finished work and all I've managed to do is buy some soup we didn't need from Co-op around the corner (and forget the coffee), call a friend, cook dinner (vegetable lasagne, though, pretty good right?!), wash up and eat dinner while watching Masterchef.  I'm ready for bed.

And it's only day 3.

Good thing we're going on holiday this weekend. Haha.

And that, my friends, is also why I am nowhere near ready to have kids.

Friday 4 April 2014

My trip to Treliske and wisdom tooth related thoughts

Yesterday I went to hospital, had a general anaesthetic, had a tooth removed, woke up, and was driven home, all in the space of an afternoon.

It was all pretty easy, and that experience, along with a few conversations and pondering recently, have just put things into perspective a little.

I walked into Treliske hospital with an apprehensive feeling in my belly. It could have been partly the fact that I was hungry after not eating all morning.  But I know that people's grimaces when I told them i was having wisdom teeth out, AND the fact that I'd not heard particularly positive things about the hospital didn't help.

Actually we were quite pleasantly surprised about how nice the hospital looked - it felt more like a museum or art gallery to me!  All colourful and paintings everywhere, which I kind of liked. But then my memory of hospitals is at least 20 years old - apart from a handful of visits to relatives, I've not spent any time in hospital since I was about 5 years old.  I know I was in quite a bit as a baby, but those are memories for my parents, not me.  Which made me realise how easy I've had it.  Watching past people sat drinking coffee and navigating the corridors, I wonder how much time they spend there.  How long ago they stopped noticing the paintings on the walls or started hating that turquoise colour in the entrance.  

One of the students I've been supporting in one of my jobs this year is 21.  She was born with lymphoma (cancer of the blood) and later developed lymphodema in her leg, which causes massive swelling and make her prone to nasty skin infections, which she is suffering from at the moment.  She could barely walk when I saw her the other day.  She has to make frequent trips to specialists in London.  It just brings it home, that we don't really know what so many people have to put up with, what's become normal to them.  I am so quick to complain, and this week I am reminded to shut up a bit more and be thankful.

When being talked to by a friendly nurse I thought about friends who spend every day working in hospitals, a sister who's a physiotherapist and a sister-in-law who's a nearly finished training as a midwife.  About the trials and tears that I know come with their jobs as well as the satisfaction and relationship with patients and joyous moments. When the surgeon talked me through the risks of removing a tooth that was so close to a nerve, without very strong reasons to do it, I thought about the things I've learned through supporting students this year on various health-related courses.  About guidelines, and things going wrong, and procedures in place to improve the quality of care and avoid disasters that have happened in the past. I thought about criticisms, and money and actually how amazing it is that I can have this done for not very much money at all.

I thought, we're all people, aren't we, on all sides.  People with stories, and good days and bad days.  And some of us are struggling more than others.  And a lot of us forget to be thankful.

I was nervous, but I thought about people who are terrified of hospitals, needles, doctors.  People for who surgery is a life and death situation.  Relatives in the waiting room who don't know what the outcome will be.  I did feel a bit like I was in a movie when they put the oxygen mask on my face and I was surrounded by three or four people all chatting and my legs went a bit funny then BAM.  I had no idea anaesthetic worked so fast!  It's pretty weird to think about how NOT in control you are then.  But it was one of those things I had to choose not to worry about and let them do their job.  And thankfully I didn't have any wacky dreams, which was my other worry.

And I woke up, not long after, one tooth down, but everything else present and correct.  I did think it was a bit rude of them to make me move so soon after waking up - like, what are you serious, no way can I sit up!  And where is my husband? Isn't he meant to be by my bedside, holding my hand? OK - yes - too many movies. (This was all in my head, out loud it was probably more like eurrrghar. um num num).  Llewellyn said I looked like a zombie when I walked/stumbled through the door where he was waiting.

But it wasn't long until we could head home and I could curl up in bed with movies for the next, uh, 24 hours! (feeling bit guilty, I never do that! - which is why I'm now up and showered and writing a blog post in an attempt to be vaguely productive with all this time I cleared for 'recovery'.  I'm not complaining though, proper job starts properly next week so kind of nice to give my brain a break before then!).

So yeh there's my thoughts, I know they've not ordered or structured very well.  But, to be honest, today I don't really care. It's friday night and we're off to some friend's for pizza.  Well they will eat pizza.  And I will sip soup from a teaspoon.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

It's finally happened. (On waiting 5 years for a 'proper' job)

Well it's happened.  I had got to thinking that perhaps it never would.

It's only taken five years.

Five years since graduating with a fairly good degree;

consisting of one year of volunteering at 5 different projects;

AND  3 cleaning , 1 waitressing, 1 having-fun-with-international-students, 1 bar, 1 jewellery-maker's-assistant, 2 care, 1 note-taker, 2 english teacher, 2 admin/communications and 2 pre-school jobs (breath) - oh my days that's 16 jobs in five years - no wonder my CV is a mess!;

1 internship, 2 writing projects, courses in movement, photography, TEFL and note-taking;

various months on job seekers allowance, housing benefits, job offers turned down, late nights filling out job applications;

one marriage (!), 3 churches and 6 house moves.


So what happened?  Oh yes -

For the first time in my life I have gotten a full time 'proper' job.  And, very soon, it will be the only paid job that I am doing - also a first.

That's not to say that my entire focus the past few years has been around jobs/career.  I took a 'year out' volunteering in Brighton after University so that I could a more-rounded perspective of life, Brighton, work, wealth, people, etc.  After that, I admit I assumed that I would go on to get a job in something vaguely anthropology-social-science-type-related, move into a house with friends, be able to afford some of those things I never had before - you know like being able to pay for someone else to wax my legs instead of having to inflict slow-drawn-out pain on myself with the epilator - those kind of crazy luxuries. haha.

But it wasn't to be.  I had to be 'rescued' by friends who let me lodge with them for next to nothing, until I got married a year later and then ended up on benefits for a while.  The epilator remains in use, or the legs are covered up.  I did a LOT of jobs that I didn't really want to do, and that I definitely could have done without a degree.  It took a long time to get over the disappointment I felt in myself, and in the pre-crisis 'system' that had told us we could do anything we wanted, and that getting high grades really mattered.

It took a long time to get over myself and stop dreading being asked 'what I do' because I was ashamed to answer.  Which was a bit silly because all of the jobs I have done have mattered in some way, they've made a difference - even if it's that the public get to sit on clean toilet seats, or that the lonely man in the pub knows the lady behind the bar knows his name and what he drinks.  A lot of my problem was pride, and a niggling thought that I was made to do 'more' - which sounds so up myself when I 'write it out loud'.  So perhaps I should say, made for something different. Not better, just more suited to me and my strengths.  I have felt frustrated because I really don't care that much about cleaning, I am bored by admin, my body was too weak for a lot of the care work, I was terrified by the English teaching, exhausted by the pre-school work.  I think I did an OK job at them, and I definitely learned a lot about people - which is at the end of the day one of the most important lessons, I believe.  I have a huge respect for the people who do all those jobs and pour themselves into them, because as I said, they do matter.

For the past year or two, I've stopped seeing my job(s) as what defines me.  Coming to Cornwall wasn't exactly a career move, and I knew that I'd have to carry on doing whatever came my way to pay the bills.  Amazingly, we've been blessed by just enough work to get us through, and jobs that we've enjoyed, more-or-less.  And we've continued to prioritize relationships - meaning time with people and each other - over work.  Which I hope will continue.

So I wasn't particularly looking for a change in job situation, although I had noticed some restlessness creeping in and a sense that some more things, aside from moving house, were going to change. Which in a way made it all the more exciting when I was offered a full-time, permanent contract with the company I've been working for at home, part-time for the past year.

Woo hoo!!

For the first time I can actually imagine just doing one job and not getting bored. I get to be creative and also a bit geeky (A-level maths gets a look-in!), I learn every day and I feel like my brain is being challenged and stretched all the time.  They work with charities, non-profits and NGOs who do stuff I can believe in and get behind.  I get to work at home (which I'm sure will also be a challenge) and make trips to London.  I'm never quite sure how to describe it but it's doing Digital marketing/media stuff. Vaguely.

So why such a long blog post about it?  Well I want to celebrate!  And for you to celebrate with me.  Friends who know me well will be saying, 'at last!'.  I know that a job isn't everything, but I am very happy that this one has come along, at this time.

I don't think this means I can say with confidence, 'everything will work out in the end', or 'just be patient, something great will come along', because I know it doesn't always happen like that.  But this is one side of my story that I'm telling, today, and saying I'm thankful.