Monday, 20 January 2014

You should drink water!

Very brief next installment. Some things happened that kept me from writing. When I'm not in the right head-space it's impossible to step into the scene and write. It's been days since I actually wrote something at all. I'm not stressing, just a bit concerned that I may lose the connection. I'm again worrying that I may not have enough material, or that what I've planned might not work out. I know the worry is probably unfounded, up to know, I've always looked back, shaking my head about my own silly thoughts. Elaine is a great character and so is Mr. Obnoxious, and there's some real bomb as a surprise lurking, but I'm terrified of the space between all those twists. Don't get me wrong, it's not a moan, but merely what I've said I wanted to do: document my thoughts on the process of writing a novel.

                                                                      ~~~~~~

He grinned from ear to ear. 'Well, in that case I'm guilty, too. Anyway, nice talking to you. Enjoy your evening.' With another wink, he turned and left me standing, lost for words. Yes, I thought, and you deserve your secret name. How could someone be so oblivious to a person's dislike? I had no idea why he kept back for more, maybe it was some sort of game for him, trying to make me like him. A challenge, apparently, most men love. If he doesn't back off, I'd give him an earful.
'You all right, love?' Gary asked when I returned to the table.
I nodded, pressing my lips together.
'He likes you.'
'Tough, because that feeling isn't mutual. Could you please hand me the butter, Ronnie?' Changing the subject seemed a good idea. That guy didn't deserve any more of my time, so there was no point to elaborate.
'Okay, sorry I said something,' Gary muttered, tearing a piece of bread off the baguette.
'It's all right,' I replied. 'So, what were you up to this afternoon?'
According to Ronnie, he and Ben played chess, while Gary headed to bed, farting as he slept.
'Too much information here.' But I had to laugh. The three were refreshing, distracting me for periods of time, and that's what I was here for, right? The hours flew by, and the wine went down our throats, so rapidly that, at half ten I had to excuse myself. After good night air-kisses from Ronnie and Ben, and a wet smack on the cheek, plus bear hug from Gary, I left the dining room, concentrating on my walk. Not with much success. I tripped over my own feet and into the hall, helplessly trying to find something to hold on to.
'Whoa, lady, be careful.' Two strong arms grabbed me.
'Thank you,' I slurred.
'Don't worry, it was that last glass, I'm sure,' he said, this big, smug grin again on his face, still holding onto my wrist.
'I'm okay now, you can let go!'
'You sure?'
I wiggled my hand free and nodded. 'Positive.'
'Right,' he replied. 'I hope your hangover won't be too bad tomorrow. You should drink some water.'
'I don't know why this is your business!' How dare he told me what to do.
He frowned. 'Just sayin', you'll feel the amount of wine tomorrow.'
'Excuse me?' That was just bordering on rude. I've had enough and turned on my heel.
'Trust me, lady, you want to drink some water.'
'Ah, leave me alone,' I said, trying to take the steps with as much grace as I could muster. If only they'd stop blurring. Downstairs, the door closed, muffling the chatter and laughter. On the last step, I stumbled and landed on my knees. 'Damn,' I muttered to myself. It took me a few seconds to get back onto my feet then, using the wall as support, I finally arrived at my room.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The hidden world of living with ADHD

You say your quiet goodbyes, turn on your heel, and leave, hoping nobody saw the hurt surging through you, carried by the self-hatred, fed by a recurring feeling of helplessness.
Belonging; all you wish for.
Acceptance; have you ever been?
Love: how does it feel?
How many times more can you take this? You carry on walking, holding your head up high; anything to hide the tears, right?
 
After having an uncomfortable conversation recently I withdrew to reflect and, to be perfectly honest, fight with tears; in a nutshell the person said I'm too full on—something I've basically heard all my life.
Time for a bit of truth about living with ADHD. This isn't an easy post, but I'm sure I'm not the only one experiencing this. With ADHD it's all or nothing, and rarely something in between. People with ADHD, and I'm no exception, tend to hyper-focus and, particularly when it's something they like/enjoy, it's almost impossible to rein themselves in. I also talk a lot; it often feels like I need to fill a silence, even when it's probably not needed. It's not that I won't have anything interesting to say (according to those poor people being fed my constant stream of words), but it can just be overwhelming—or get a word in edgewise for that matter. I often realise that people are backing off when it's too late, which then results in me being hurt and mostly angry with myself. I'm a grown-up woman, for fuck's sake and should know better. Very unlike many with ADHD, I'm perfectly capable of reading expressions, even 'feeling' something isn't right and automatically assume it's to do with my being too 'intense'. And often rightly so. Yet I can't seem to stop myself.
You will have to believe me when I say that I'm my worst critic, always have been. In year eight, I think, we had to write a self-portrait, basically describe how we see ourselves. It was the only ever essay of mine that received full marks. I remember my teacher saying that she's never seen someone going to court with herself as I'd done. Brutally honest, no punches being held. And I did it as if it were the most natural thing on earth. Not because I was asked to, but because that's how I am. Always. Often to the point of tipping the balance in favour of unhealthy and I plummet into serious depressions. Managing ADHD without medication means that life is exciting when everything goes well, but if someone happens—and it can be the tiniest incident—it's dangerously going downhill if one's not careful. I had a few hefty lows I thought I'd never emerge from again, but thanks to friends, and my iguana, I pulled myself out of that hole. I remember being so down—it was back in Germany, when I was ready to fill the car's tank to the brim and drive into a wall. I'd had enough of the struggles. Yes, ADHD's positive side is that you always manage to get up after falling, brush off the dust and focus on what's ahead, but the negative side is that you fall equally often and that so hard, that something inside of you breaks. It's not fun, let me tell you that. The reason I'm still alive, and I'm not joking here, is my little iguana girl I had back then. I looked at her, as she slept peacefully, trusting, and I couldn't go through with it. After all, when I bought her, I promised to look after her until she dies, and I never break my promises.
As a kid, I had no idea what was wrong and why others rejected me; I was never part of a group, but more the loner, even worse, the black sheep serving as a punch bag when others had bad days. I got beaten up every day by my class mates and never stood up to them. Why? That's a question many asked me back then, I think it may have to do with the fact that I came home from being bullied at school, to being bullied by my mother, who often enough hit me, or even beat me up until her frustrations were gone. Nobody knew about my ADHD, I was diagnosed in my early thirties and, thinking back, despite my being a 'good girl' I knew I had my phases. As a kid you just act and people think you're a terrible rebel, which I honestly wasn't. Sure, I made some poor choices, like throwing a brick through a window of a parked car—no idea what I'd been so angry about, but I'm sure it had to do with my mother. We constantly clashed as I grew older and developed my own strong opinions. She wasn't fit to be a mother, let alone to a child with ADHD. I may not have been an angel, but I certainly didn't deserve the abuse I received—verbally and physically.
Don't get me wrong, I don't like the wording 'suffering' from ADHD, because I don't—at least not directly. More than anything I'll suffer indirectly, for I managed to scare away yet another person I just happened to like very much. I guess people must feel suffocated, inundated by my liking them. Nobody can ever say I'm not passionate. I am. Sadly I get carried away without noticing before the person flees as fast as his or her feet can carry him or her.
That said, I managed quite all right with my ADHD, took feedback from teachers, and later, friends on board and continued to work on myself. It was hard and often painful, and you  have to be brutally honest with yourself, which is not an easy task. And all in order to live a 'normal' life. Nobody wants to be the socially awkward person. Interestingly, I've always attracted people, due to my open nature. I talk to everyone, give every person a chance. This is something good right? That doesn't mean I make friends with everyone, nope, I'm rather selective in who I want to spend time with, or invite into my heart/life. True to ADHD fashion, it's all or nothing and I don't want to change a thing; my being alive doesn't last forever, so anyone who is destructive to me will be rigorously cut off. Door closed, no way back. I'm not the most forgiving person when you hurt me and don't have the guts to apologise and mean it.
Talking about apologising: I've done a lot of it in my time. Due to my habit to blurt things out without thinking, I've upset quite a few people, which was never my intention. I'm not someone who'd deliberately hurt someone. Those who know me from several fora can will tell you that I'm forthright, but I don't go and try to find vulnerable spots to pick on them. I've been far too long on the receiving end of it and it's not a nice place to be.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with this, and I won't keep you any longer: living with ADHD has good and bad moments. Despite often being a pain in the arse, I'm more than proud of the person I am. I may talk a lot, but if you aren't well, I'm the first to ask what's wrong, or how you're doing. If you come to me with a problem, I'll keep mine wrapped up and give you my undivided attention in order to help; and I'll be the one that offers you a hug when I sense you need one. You see, given the shite childhood/adolescence I've been through, I'm a warm person, who's able to love.
Now tell me again, you're sick of the sight of me. I'm just a girl who's opened up her heart to you. Things could be worse, you see?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Back to exercising!

Fruit basket
Since I've successfully hit my goal of losing 10kg in in the first five month of 2013, I though I could get back to it and lose the next 10kg--also by May. Fortunately, I'm proof for if you 'do it the correct way' you don't put it all back on again; nothing worse than jojo-dieting. Dieting in general is shite, so, don't try it at home, kids.
As you may remember, I did a lot of 'floor-exercises' at home. All one needs is a balance ball, some weights (in my case with water filled milk bottles as I increased the weight) and most of all: the will to get into shape. It took me a while to find out what works for me, and the answer was HIIT (High Intensity Intervall Training). Only 5 to 15 minutes of it, either rope skipping or running up a hill (not my thing, the latter) is enough to get the ol' body burning the calories for hours afterwards. I got a bit busy with the bike business, so I completely stopped all exercises, except cycling. Worked a treat, too.
As a result I'll now try a combination of a few things:
  • boxing at least twice a week, which will take care of most of my muscles. Those I didn't train in circuit training will be trained at home
  • cycling every day--longer routes with HIIT included.
  • Rope skipping, hope my shins won't play up again
My diet will be as usual: varied, healthy, portion control. Roughly about 1500 calories a day. But I'll not deny me anything I want. Nothing worse than having cravings. Bad idea. Chocolate and ice cream are good, you hear me? So is wine or beer, by the way. It's all about the right balance.
I've become rather dizzy of late, feeling faint when not eating, particularly dangerous when being out on my bikes, but I've had good results eating a massive plate of protein, i.e. omelette with lean bacon and good sausages. Lasts me for a few hours.
I'll keep you posted about my results. It's a bit tougher to shed the pounds now, because the body just wants to cling onto the flap. Not me with, my dear, you'll have to part with it. Being overweight ain't nice, and it's unhealthy, too. Even if it's only 10kg!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The next installment, sorry for the long wait

I've been busy with my mind in hundreds of different places, in addition to not finding the necessary quiet to write. I'd opened the doc a few times, but closed it again when inspiration didn't strike. It happens. I'm worried I may lose interest and give up. Then again, I have Mr Obnoxious who's a great character who gives me plenty of material, plus Elaine, who has to heal at some point. And there are secrets to uncover, shock, anger, and other emotions waiting to come out; I just need to overcome my stupid fear of writing. How can someone, who has written seven books--four of them being novel, be afraid of finishing a novel with so much going on? What is it that stirs those feelings in me? I think I'm terrified of the void I'm staring into, every time I open the file to continue writing. I'm literally gazing onto the page, waiting for the film to play in front of my eyes, so I can type what I'm seeing. Does that make sense? In the past, I sat up to two hours in front of the laptop, writing a sentence, delete it, write something else, delete it again; I even wrote and deleted whole paragraphs because they weren't good enough. Anyway, it's going slow, but I'm satisfied with what I have for you today. It's not a lot, but I'd rather have a little good than a lot of shite.

Beautiful Autumn

The dining room was filled with laughter and chatter. I looked around and all I could see was a sea of happy faces. The young couple held hands over the table; they didn't seem to notice anyone else. Just when my eyes wandered to the next table, Mr Obnoxious stuffed a large piece of bread into his mouth. Impressive, I thought. One of the girls smeared some gravy on his cheek and the others giggled.
'Oh dear,' I muttered under a sigh. In the back of the room was the elderly couple, who looked content, as if they were watching their children and grand children, patient smiles on their faces. It made me wonder if they had a family, or maybe they opted against kids and had a blast of a life instead? I could imagine it being John and I. Wishful thinking. Before the thought of it could bring me down again, I waved back at Ben who'd spotted me and made my way over to them.
'Oh, I love your jumper!' His red face gave away that he lied.
I grinned and replied. 'Yeah, I finished it last night. I'm so proud of it.'
Ben quickly grabbed his wine glass and noisily swallowed a huge gulp. Ronnie just stared, open-mouthed.
With a dead-straight face I said, 'What, you don't like my precious knit-work? Took me a whole year to get it done. And two years of planning!'
'Of course, of course, it's gorgeous,' Gary's voice was shaking and I could tell he had a hard time keeping it together.
I slumped down into my seat and shook my head. 'All the work and nobody appreciates it.'
That was when Gary burst into a booming laugh. Ben's eyes rolled from left to right to check on me and Ronnie, before joining Gary, and seconds later, we were laughing until we had to wipe our tears. The other tables turned to see what caused the hilarity, but didn't seem to understand. I caught Mr Obnoxious eye, who, for a few seconds ignored the girls, and studied me—head cocked, eyebrow raised. He then winked and that's when I turned my attention back to the company I was with. Did he really think I'd flirt back? Idiot!
Gary tugged at the yellow flower. 'Used a lot of manure to get them this big?'
'Eh?'
'This beauty here.' He tugged a little harder.
'No, I drank too much that evening I knitted it.'
'You don't say,' Ronnie was deep red and tried to catch his breath.
'Okay, okay, you caught me. It was a competition for the ugliest present. What can I say, I lost.'
'And you thought of wearing it tonight, because?' Gary asked.
Because I want my husband to be as close as possible today, I wanted to reply. Instead I said, 'Oh it was just a spur of a moment thing.'
'It amuses. So thank you,' Ronnie said and Ben nodded, pressing his lips together; the image of a pressure cooker popped up in my head.
'Well, I aim to please,' I said lightly and filled my glass with wine. When I lifted it up to clink with the guys, I mentally toasted with John, too.
They didn't ask further questions and I was relieved that they swallowed my explanation. Every now and again, either of them tugged at the biggest of all flowers and giggled but, after an hour, the joke became old. Only when Susan came by to replace the two empty bottles of wine with new ones, she grinned and nodded, seemingly recognising the jumper, but didn't say anything. We understood each other and I was thankful for that.
'Jesus, fucking Christ, I'm so stuffed, I'll need a crane to get me out of here,' Gary said, burping behind his hand. 'Excuse me.'
Ben shook his head. 'Manners!'
'It's really delicious,' Ronnie said before shovelling another piece of pork into his mouth.
'Agree,' I said. Susan must have worked days to prepare such a spread. There was roast, turkey, stuffing, carrots, parsnips, sprouts, potatoes, croquettes, potato gratin, gravy, trifle, Christmas pudding with plenty of alcohol and a kids' version, Eaton Mess and plenty more. The room was constantly busy with people refilling their plates. I went to get a seconds of a cheesecake and again wished John would be here.
'So, new year's resolution has to be a lot of walking, then, eh?'
He stood that close to me, I could feel his body heat. 'Way to go with insulting others.'
'Ah, come on, lady, don't take it personally. We're all behaving as if you'll never get to eat again.'
'I didn't know that the food control is watching.' My voice was a tad sharper and I hoped he'd get the drift.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A short next installment

I think this reflects on my creative process. Admittedly, the bit I posted yesterday was the result of two days. When I started writing today I wasn't sure what I'd come up with, because there's always this blank spot ahead of me. I know Elaine is on her walk, pondering, wondering, and hurting. And I quite liked where it was going, but it's difficult to get into the same frame of mind the next day. Like Elaine's, my moods change. Nevertheless, I managed to write a bit, and a bit is better than nothing, right?
For tomorrow (the next installment) I have some plans for Mr Obnoxious, whose character I've already developed in my head. He's also got a name, but you'll have to wait and get to know him slowly before I'll reveal more.
~~~~~

The sobering thought slapped me hard in the face as I stomped along the small pathway between the fields. I'd be faithful to John and my vows, but won't get anything in return; no delicious smell of his warm body when I crawl underneath the covers an hour after he went to bed. There will be no smile for me when he comes home, all plans we'd made together had become mine. Like this get away. We wanted to travel the world, enjoy life. Together. I was sure he didn't want me to suffer so much, but how could I not? Life is unpredictable, they say, and I wholeheartedly agreed. When you walk through it thinking it won't hit me, it most possibly will. Hit you hard. And it'll knock their air out of you, pulls you down into a hole you fear to never get out again, and if you do you best and reach the top—just with your fingers—the hole grows and you slip up, falling back into its deep blackness.
I rubbed my forehead and stopped. My sides were aching from the power walk and irregular breathing. Turning on the spot, I looked around and calmed down. Interesting how in this surrounding, when you let your thoughts run freely, the quiet can be this deafening. It drowned out the singing of birds, the soft whoosh of the wind rustling with the weeds and bushes; all I could hear was my longing for my lost soul mate, and it became louder and louder to almost unbearable decibel.
'This is crazy; you can't go on like this!' I said, as if I could convince myself to change. With a sigh, I took a right which I assumed would lead to the main road in order to return to the Inn. Patience, I repeated to myself, patience is all you need. Compared to where I'd been just three weeks ago, I was doing fine. And as mum and Amy had said, nobody expected me to function 'normally' any time soon. Bless them. When I was back at the Inn, I'd give them a ring. They possibly expected to hear from me, and it would be nice to hear their voices. With that to look forward to, I felt slightly elevated and able to take in what the countryside had to offer.
It was impossible to ignore the buzz going round at the Inn. The vibes literally came snaking out, taken hold of me and pulled me in as if they were bungees. The moment I arrived, Gary strolled down the stairs and when he spotted me entering the hallway, he rushed over to take me by the hand and twirl me around. I laughed.
'If you keep going, I may just throw up on you.'
He put on a mock shock face. 'Nooo, you wouldn't!'
'Not if you stop spinning me.'
'Okay, okay.' Hand on hips, he scrutinized me. 'So, you feeling better?'
Perceptive. I nodded. 'A bit.'
'Let's make that a lot. Up, up, you go, darling, dinner's ready and we'll have so much fun.'
I curtseyed and said, 'As you wish, sir.'
'There, that's much better.' Chuckling, he added, 'I'll keep you a seat.'
'See you in five,' I called over my shoulder. Yes, I felt a little better. For now

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Next installment after a break

Previously: It's Christmas day and Elaine, although apprehensive, joins the merry happenings at breakfast. She was seated with three guys and, sensing her sadness, but not knowing why, they try to keep her occupied. Remember this is an unedited first draft. I've now reached exactly 11.111 words. It's still a mammoth task I've got ahead of me, but if I write a little every day, I guess the novel will be finished by May/June. It gives me half a year to edit and polish before preparing for publishing.

Cycling along the canal in London

'Right, everyone.' Susan stood in the middle of the room, cheeks glowing, eyes almost as glittery as the silver stars on the tables. 'Seeing that you guys are enjoying yourself so much, please feel free to open your presents. It's only a small gift, but nevertheless it comes from the heart.' Something in her voice hinted at mischief.
'But she's opened hers already,' a guy shouted, pointing at his girlfriend. Silence.
'So did he,' one of the girls at Mr Obnoxious' table screeched.
Susan threw her arms up in despair. 'Well, what can I say? Kids will always be kids.' Now everyone laughed. The laughter didn't stop when we all opened our presents; it looked like we'd been dropped into a bad Secret Santa game. Gary had a golden necklace with a pony, Ben a shower gel for infants, and poor Ronnie held up a bright red lipstick, which he put on instantly, making him look like a clown. My present was a packet of condoms which had the guys cracking up. Since I had no use for them, I swapped with Gary, the necklace would be a nice gift for Liz, Amy's daughter.
I kept up the fa├žade for a further hour, then excused myself in need of some alone time. The struggle with my feelings had become too much to hide. How could I be happy and laugh—this kind of belly laugh—when I had to miss John? It wasn't fair that he didn't get to experience this with me. I felt terrible for it and then felt terrible for feeling terrible. Again, tears blurred my vision.
'I see you made some new friends, lady?'
'Leave me me alone,' I replied without turning; the last thing I wanted was for Mr Obnoxious to see me crying.
'Gee, relax, man. I was just trying to make conversation.'
I didn't reply, sobs were already trying to find their way out, so I ran up the stairs and just managed to slam my door shut before sinking into a heap onto the floor.
Two hours later, a fresh breeze cooled down my swollen eyes. I'd never thought that humans had so many tears in them, as if there was a never-ending source, like a pool that refilled itself after it was emptied. And they were still hot, a constant stream of pain. Yet they didn't bring any relief. Like a volcano, the hurt bubbled inside me until it became too much and burst to the surface, breaking through the tender process of my healing.
Generally, I thought I was doing much better than a few weeks ago, and being here probably helped, too. I guess the guys thought I'm suffering from a broken heart after my boyfriend left me, why else would a young woman go away on her own? They'd not said a word and I hoped it would stay that way. In that respect, this holiday was doing me the world of good. And I was safe, too, if one took the annoying half-flirtatious attempts of Mr Obnoxious out of the equation. I had no idea what type of women would normally fall for that dross, but with the girls at his table, surely, one of them may. 'Fine by me,' I muttered as I circled around some horse shit. A drove past, two kids in the back waving at me, big smiles on their faces. If you knew what life will throw at you, you'd wish to stay this young, with not a care in the world. With my finishing the thought, they turned around the corner and out of sight. I took a deep breath and pulled back my shoulders. 'Come on, Elaine.' After all, I was healthy, alive, and in this beautiful village, on a lovely day. Mourning John shouldn't keep me from living, should it? I wasn't so sure anymore myself. A gust of wind tousled my hair and I stopped my brisk walk for a moment, closing my eyes. There was no sound to hear, everything was so peaceful. I imagined it was John, reassuring me that everything would be fine, caressing me like he used to do. Soft hands with stubby fingers I learned to love over time. He wasn't a woman's dream on first impressions, but the more I'd got to know him, the more I'd fallen for that man with the receding hairline. The age difference never mattered to us, he was more adventurous than many men my age. He'd been rafting in Australia, been to Africa as a voluntary helper, worked on a farm in New Zealand just for bed and food, he'd done sky diving, and snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately all before we met, although I'd probably not been too open to many of those activities, the safe-player I am. Accepting John's proposal was most possibly the riskiest thing I'd ever done in my life—no regrets there. I doubted I'd ever love someone with that much certainty, increasing with each year spent together, discovering little secrets like on a scavenger hunt, making you more and more curious of what's ahead. I doubted it, and I didn't want it. John can't be replaced. I married him for a reason and if that means I'll have to go to bed and wake up alone every day for the rest of my life, then be it. One could say many things about me, but not that I'm not committed. When I love, I love for good. That's me.

Fajita wraps for a lazy 1st of January 2014

I admit I had flirted with them yesterday night, but was able to keep my hands off them. For weeks I was craving my home made fajitas and finally gave in. It's not only a delicious treat, it's also rather good to keep and re-heat the next day.
There are many recipes, but this one has been tried and tested by myself and on various friends, who were all gobbling up the food quickly, and licking their fingers afterwards. It's the perfect finger food to dish up when you don't have much time for cooking. And it's fun as you can be sure at least one person will make a complete mess.
What you need:
Chicken breast
Bell peppers (I used only red for this, but normally it should be tri-colore)
Onions
Chilli to taste (I used one red bird's eye)
Avocado (super soft)
Lime or Lemon juice
Garlic
Salt
Tomato puree
Creme Fraiche
Grated cheese (I used Mozarella)
Iceberg lettuce
Tortillas or Chapati (Asian wraps)

home made chicken fajita wrap
Chop the chilli and garlic finely, then cut the avocado and scoop it into a bowl, add some of the chilli and garlic as well salt and lemon juice (keeps it from going brown), mix properly and store away until needed.
Cut the chicken, peppers and onions into fine strips. Heat a pan with some oil and put in the chicken, stir until brown, then add the onions, when they're glaced, add a tbs of tomato puree (the frying process releases the flavour) after a minute, add the peppers, garlic and chilli. The garlic should not burn, stir for a minute. Add about 250ml of hot water, stir properly to get the burnt goodies from the bottom of the pan, then add salt (to taste). Put on medium heat and let simmer away for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the iceberg lettuce in small chunks, put the cheese and Creme Fraiche into bowls, the tortillas/Chapatis into the microwave and heat. Finger warm, not hot!
When most of the fluid is gone from the fajita pan, it's time to serve.
Guests can put it together as they please. Two to three each and they'll be pretty stuffed.