When I was eleven, my headmistress wrote on my report card that I was altruistic. My mother, being Norwegian, had to look it up. I realize now that my altruism was not pure; it was merely a desire to be loved. However, however, I am an enthusiast and a connector, and I hope that this blog serves two purposes, a) as a place for me to purge everything going on in my head and b) as I struggle with my own anxiety, I pass a few hopeful things on to you, the reader. Conversely, when the sun is out, I hope it brings some joy.
I have not felt joyful much lately. Sometimes, if I shower, and drink three pints of water, and walk the dogs for an hour, and school my horse in a focused way for an hour, and work very hard, and clear my inbox, and listen to soothing mantras all day long, I get there. Oh, and remember to take the Citalopram. My new book is called "Negative Capability: A Diary of Surviving" by Michèle Roberts. It starts "I decided to write down everything that happened, the only way I could think of coping." Sounds familiar.
Today the Christmas tree fell over. It was all I needed and I took it as an omen. I burst into tears. Mr McDuck knows how to deal with me when I'm like this. He get onto his knees like Toulouse Lautrec and tries to dance with me. It never fails to make me laugh or to realize what a lucky woman I am. "Have we taken on too much?" I ask him. "Why do you say that?" he replies, and makes his bald eagle face, earnest and kind. "Oh you know, the garden, the mess, the septic tank..." my voice is wobbly. "Maybe we should go back to California?" I ask. "Well, if you take care of me we can. I'm not allowed to work there," he says. I wanted a house in a garden surrounded by horses and trees and sheep, with roses and figs, and I have all these things. It's so impossibly beautiful here. But the wet and the cold and the damp are just too much, on top of Covid and isolation and No Deal Brexit (can you even believe that shit?) And we are the lucky ones.
The days are too short. Unless you get up at 5am, there is not enough time. How do people stretch time in these northern European winter months? How?
Mr McD spends long days on Zoom calls (mine happen later in the day as I'm on California time). He loves his work and has a knack for diving in, even when everything is a mess. He is soothed by it. He is smart and charming, and I can hear the way he makes everyone feel better after he's spoken to him. He rarely gets angry, choosing instead to turn inward if we're fighting. There is always the gentle hum of his voice coming from his office, through our adjoining wall. I am working out of my closet and he is working in a spare bedroom; both of us share a view of the garden - bare trees, a lawn covered with leaves, a couple of lone melon-colored roses.
Anxiety isn't something I ever thought I suffered from. Numerous shrinks have asked about it and I suppose it was a blindspot. Anxious people are afraid of spiders and don't want to go out. Bingo. I think it started with not wanting to answer the phone. It's a sure way to lose friends; why would people want to reach out if you never make yourself available? It takes immense effort to zhush myself up, put on lipstick and some sizzle, a pair of heels helps, and then, yes, I enjoy it. Driving along the straight road from Whitchurch to Woodcote, where the trees meet in the middle like country dancers, with misty fields on each side, I had a vision of a pale blue grey velvet dress, with soft folds around the shoulders, with a waist of some sort, a wrap perhaps, and I imagined myself in this at Christmas time, in silver heels, with the table filled with silvery branches and the delicate sound of twinkly bells. And perhaps some dancing. Pale blue grey velvet dress, silver shoes, and some kind of glittery head thing, like a tiarra...no, I've never dreamed of a tiarra before. It's in stark contrast to the stack of country catalogs that sit by me at my desk: House of Bruar, Fairfax & Favor, William Powell. I did not order these but when you move to the country they become requisite. They are popped through the letterbox as if by magic to entice you into tweed plus fours and a boiled Austrian jacket with brass buttons and tasteful piping.
Now let me ask, can you wear red lipstick, and if you do, and can, please tell me, how do you stop it going gummy around the edges and fading in the middle? Every time I try, I look like someone who's had too much red wine the night before. I'd love any advice you have. Because, you know, it would look jolly nice with the pale blue grey velvet dress and glittery tiara at Christmastime.
Be well, my friends. Let's hold each other tight.