Monday, 1 April 2013

A Month of Differences.

Skies, soups and situations. Castles. March certainly was, if not the beginning of Spring (indeed a regression into Winter) then surely a month of big change. On Wednesday the 6th my parents each drove a car north to Denbigh. I still don't have proper internet, I uploaded most of the photos this morning in Roath waiting for S to wake. I'm writing this text here as my phone is tethered to my laptop with its "personal hotspot", clever. Despite said access constraints I have to get some of this down. I haven't been doing so and I'm missing patterns and problems and loosing bits of myself. So, we hit the road, stopped in Rhayader to let the dog have a wander, stretch our own legs, gulp down some homemade lattes and look at the very clear water.

After we found the hidden little cottage (in a little courtyard just off Vale St in Denbigh) and Lidl, I made a huge salad and bits with Veggie Curry type thing while my mother unpacked.

The following day we drove to Tryfan for a mini walk then stopped off in Betws-Y-Coed for a bite to eat, it was rather chilly and damp. Snowdon was knocking about somewhere apparently, couldn't see him in the fog though.

The following day, a Friday, my folks left for the south and home, after filling our fridge with colour from the local Morrisons, our bodies were thanking them kindly for it, mine especially after the weeks of bingeing and stressing. It was too gray a day for a wander around Denbigh, so we got on a bus to Rhyl to find a shop we could get a colander, a melon-baller and Organic preservative-less Dates from. It was such a horrendous place. The weather helped none.

We got 'home', cooked some warm colourful foods and settled down to start watching Breaking Bad, something neither of us had ever seen before, but decided to download and watch (in advance) during our upcoming internet-free eating hours (despite claims that TV causes the breakdown of families I would argue that watching an episode of a series at tea time not only prevents the murder of loud eaters by quieter and seemingly non-deaf ones, but provides a talking point, something to get lost in and familiar faces to get to know and relate to. Has to be an enjoyable series though, bonding over shared anger over certain viewing fodder over time creates a build up of resentment and may even condition you and your dining partners to get irrationally angry at any meal time, regardless of there being any crappy audio/visual stimuli).

March the 11th, first day of work. The light was so warm and bright as I woke (6am) that I foolishly forgot to pack an emergency layer (thinking three and a coat, gloves and scarf would suffice in March) for the walk and day in work. The walk was fine, I was, after all, walking. Work was another matter though, despite donning an additional (disposable overall) layer for the days tasks (mainly set in a freezing snowy "annexe", on my knees on the concrete searching through large tubs of leaded glaze and icy hard tiles for the appropriate shades for my future tile-glazing needs) I was cold to the bones, throughout the 8 hours I felt them quaking in the chill in a feeble attempt to friction into existence some fleeting and fragmentary warmth. Being a weak bingy fool I'd decided to make a huge fruity salad for the day to right past ills. I sat outside because I was too nervous (and slightly confused) about entering the cramped shipping-crate-canteen-cabins. I arrived home, traumatised and exhausted, to a warm bowl of orange-carrot-ginger soup, and we took a trip to blazing hot New Mexico to enjoy it with the Breaking Bad guys (it was really entertaining thus far).

The next day I layered up well, and ended up sweating profusely on my mild weathered walk to work. Despite intermittent panic over my body odour throughout the day I managed the courage to eat my hot leftover orangey soup in the little "canteen". I also spent this mild-layered day largely in a warm glaze room sat in a chair not far from some little kilns, painting and mixing varicoloured glazes. When I wasn't reading through and signing scary "LEAD and YOU; What you need to know" type documents and contracts.

Tight chest and watery eyes? Never!

The "canteen".

Day three I got into the swing a little more and was more comfortable with being basically left to it (it being getting the hang of basic glazing techniques). I kind of made a friend, glazing was fun, and I found a much shorter (half the time) walk to work. The week's light was mighty fine, I hadn't binged, we had so many different tasty warm soups, Breaking Bad was great, it was all feeling ok.

The second week passed, a further damp weekend, chills. Towards the end of the second week my mood would plummet again after certain distracting novelties predictably wore off. The weekend would be too much more of cold sodden gray blues.

This never gets old.

Though Beetroot Soup couldn't bring me back!

Nor cosy and warmly-lit cottages...

Sunday morning there was to be a rain-free window of weather where M finally coaxed me out of the cottage and up to the castle for a wander. I wasn't really there though unfortunately.

Back "home" I had to be coaxed into a proper conversation. Holding back, being evasive, defensive, avoidant. We finally talked a lot of things out that needed airing (yet again, we keep getting into these conditions). We kind of decided together, to separate. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I've ever been part of making. It seemed, sadly, that most of it stemmed from problems of mine, my dissatisfactions, my grievances, my difficulty to accept life (even though M seems capable of accepting my "unpredictable mildly Bi-polar and at times Autistic personality", how much do I suck when he can cope with that and I can't even cope with me). Another great failure. 

Everyday after that awful but necessary decision was made I went to work as normal, while Mat looked for jobs, worked on his portfolio and made soup, as normal. We worked our way through 5 series of Breaking Bad (by the end we were more than ready to give up we wanted Walt dead and Jesse free), we watched films in bed. M made plans to move to London and look for work there. Our families were deeply disappointed. The closer we got to Friday the 29th, M's scheduled departure from Rhyl, bound for Euston, the more it sunk in, the more we tried to avoid talking about how it would feel. Just to clarify, terrible. I planned to spend the long weekend off in Cardiff visiting S, because it had been over a month (again!) and I was missing her, and to be honest the thought of a weekend alone in the cottage just after seeing M off was tightening and crushing my chest. At least the feeling is not quite as poignant at this time in the evening, tired after hours of travel and numbing the pain with Dandelion and Burdock pop (since manifest as that familiar to all lump in bottom of the throat, it rises and falls with my thoughts).

Thursday I found it really hard and long in work. I've been working with clay all week and it's dried out my hands, face and hair. It's also tried my patience because I know nothing about working with the stuff, I can draw on paper, shakily, but it's a very different thing working a design into wet clay. You need to be confident and bold and you need the right tools and instruction (unless you have time and no pressure, then you could obviously work away at your leisure then surely the hang of it would be yours to get). We didn't get much in the way of instruction until it transpired we'd been going to deep and too complicated, then someone finally explained the cutting and firing process, why the design needs to fit certain (physical and artistic) parameters and offered us tool-less newbies some workable tools (biro lids, bottle tops, saw blades and such like). I'm not even allowed to say this much about work probably, but there it is, and it's work. Two days running I found new Illuminati-style graffiti on my walk home, so, that was something. 

The last weekend in March, Easter. Friday was a long tiring day, plenty of upping and downing. After having a lovely breakfast and lunch at home Mat and I rushed onto a bus to Rhyl. We got there like an hour and a half before my train (M's was an hour later again, but he'd be arriving at Euston the same time as I'd arrive in Cardiff, crazy!) so enjoyed a covert Nakd bar with our soy hot chocolate/soy chai latte. I hate choosing a chain (I've never suffered Starburks though, with it's lovely Masonic logo and totalitarian "we proudly serve" motto, ugh, proudly treat your staff and growers better you expensive rich bastards) over local caffs. Rhyl seems to have a lot of little "all-day-fried-breakfast" type places, but not a whiff of milk for my kind sadly. I miss Holbrooks and Monkey in Swansea. 
M and I talked, joked, reminisced. Despite the sad air of "shoulda/woulda/coulda" it wasn't heart wrenchingly depressing. The sun was even shining in Rhyl.

But then we got to the station and suddenly the train was there and the goodbye we'd been edging towards had to be smashed into and damaged. A quick kiss, "I'll miss you, see you soon..."

I couldn't quite believe it. 

The journey was a blur of holding back little tears, mellow music, sun, sea-birds, shaded snow, murky valleys and snacking.

M's last sunrise in Denbigh for the foreseeable future.

Sunny bus to Rhyl.

Another bloody castle.

Even though it was a new train journey, I was glad to get to Cardiff. Alive and distracting. I miss a good old city. 

Bag drop, pokemon, snack, make-up, then out for a Lindy hop social at Four Bars! Soph's pal Emma goes Dancing weekly and this Friday invited S, Vix and I along for the ride. It was hysterical in parts, and nice to be somewhere not too scary on a Friday night, a place where Glenn Miller and nicely dressed jiving ladies can converge. If they'd been selling tea instead of just booze and I hadn't put on a stone in a short matter of months it would have been heaven.
Chilly but amusing run home. Hot beverage. Bed. Episode of the Avengers (nothing like Steed and Mrs. Peel to serenade you to sleep with their kick-ass moves and outfits). Sleep.

Saturday we did some wandering and sensible errand-running (I was after a food flask for work and some travel cutlery), S found a very reasonable, practical and super cool pair of red and navy daps.
Cuppa, more covert Vegan sweet-snacking, homeward bound. We picked up some Redwood Fish Style Steaks (if you're reading this, somehow, and recently Vegan or veggie and missing the guilty pleasure of a fish finger, look no further than these amazing inventions) for tea, fish fingers, carrots, broccoli, peas and oven chips (love you S). Yum. 
Then the hairdressing commenced! I cut a slightly new and shorter style into Soph's hair (looking pretty damn awesome it is) over a couple of episodes of House (we had only a few left til the very END) and she kindly dyed my graying mop black.

Hot beverage in bed. Vegan white choc. Episode of the Avengers.


Sunday was a lovely day. we woke, had a Pokemon breakfast then headed out into the sun towards Chapter. There was a screening for a Women's Aid charity short that V had helped shoot. Twasnt a bad effort but I have to admit I was more excited by the Vegan Sunday Lunch option and the fact they now do Soy Milk (it had been months since my last visit, years, I wasn't even Vegan then). I got a coffee from a really lovely waitress, I didn't catch her name, but she was softly spoken, dark blonde, light-eyed and generally gave me a good feeling (and beverage). If you're out there Chapter-lady thank you for the coffee.
We didn't want to stay in the dark of indoor Chapter on a lovely sunny (chilly!) day, so S and I left E and V with their dins and headed towards the bay for some take-away veggie noodles. We messily enjoyed them in the sunlight before heading home in the wind for the last few episodes of House and some Moo-Free honeycomb bars with tea.
I have to say, I'm still reeling from the shock and sadness that House is over, after years of watching it with Soph it feels like a death has been done. I was holding back the tears, not very successfully, I really was on the way to shaking-with-tears grief. Embarrassing, and probably pathetic, but real all the same. I think it's not that there aren't any more to watch, it's more the overly analytical characters, and what they made you realise about yourself, or at least encouraged you to fear about and accept in your own behaviour. 

One of many resonant excerpts from Steppenwolf, applicable to my feelings on the nature of the LMW (Last Minute Wonders, S and I) and House-Wilson friendship.

If you don't know the show I can't really bore you with details about the brilliantly troubled main character House and his friendships, particularly with the wonderfully thoughtful and almost as intelligent Wilson. Just to say I thought of S and I, and drew parallels. Not because we're cool diagnosticians and fascinating characters (S is at least the latter), but because of their co-dependance. Patients, loves, circumstances, have all come, gone and changed, but their need of each others strange understanding, love and weird support was a constant, it rang a bell. I empathised, I was saddened and slightly relieved concurrently. At least they have each other in this trying world, and at least they checked out of our lives finally accepting/enjoying this fact, though under harrowing circumstances. It's odd to know there's one person who accepts and 'gets' you more than any others have any real chance of. Hard for the other loves. A little comfort for me somewhere, and I hope for my life-partner and brother-wonder too. 

Hot beverage in bed. Chat. Episode of the Avengers. Sleep.

Monday, this day, after scoffing down a very quick tasty couscous beanie luncheon (thank you Soph!) I made a hasty retreat to the station, having left it late. 

I managed to forget my phone and realized after proudly and swiftly running around the corner and off towards town. In turning back (I was cutting it so fine I thought "Soph could post it too me after I email her", but realized I didn't have an alarm clock for work tomorrow morn..) I dropped my hat, I was near the flat again and had to dash back for my (awesome) hat lying on the pavement. Then back towards Soph's gate, climbed over and in (it takes an age to open so I'd also moments before climbed out too), got the phone, dashed away again, managed to stop myself vomiting as I bent over my relatively newly expansive gut to tie my infuriatingly loosened laces, and somehow, most miraculously, managed to make the train. 

Almost had a heart attack when it departed and 10 minutes in the announcement blared "we will shortly be arriving in Fishguard". All the while knowing full well I was in scummy-gray-clay-laden Newport. My idiot self-doubting mind.

After the sweat dried and I settled down to some tunes for the journey (sad that it was the same tune I'd halfway listened through before switching off and meeting Soph Friday evening, chipper old Neil Young singing "Out on the Weekend", check it out if you want to, I like it...) it was damn near time to get off and change at Shrewsbury.

Then, after surviving the railway changes and finally docking at Rhyl (a four hour rail journey between South-North Wales, in 2013, seems ridiculous) I was told there were no buses to Denbigh, despite online Sunday and Bank Holiday timetables instructing that the opposite was true. God I was dejected. There was a bus eventually, and just before 8pm I arrived home to a very empty cottage. I made the last of Mat's bread mix, the accidentally burnt gluten and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons currently cutting their way through my digestive tract. In my face loser.

I'm off to bed shortly with Saul Bellow's Herzog for company. The last few books I've read, and the one I'm currently seeing have all been about troubled individuals, people who struggle with the basics in life that others seem so effortlessly adept at managing with. I don't read them to wallow in my own difficulties, a sort of "they suck at life but the books are so good", nor do I think a story of my life would be as worthy of reading, irrespective of whose hand it was penned by. This blog isn't a selection of pages that collectively make up my "memoirs". It's my Florence, my puny Grand Tour, it's my running away from my wife and child, finding myself in my hallucinations, my many frenzied unsent letters. I'm looking for some sort of coherence, and very hopefully a way in, I may glance at someone else's "rules of the game" for tips and strategies but not hoping to play out theirs. I'm not searching for Aaron Sisson, flautist of Aaron's road, Harry Haller the Steppenwolf or Moses Herzog. 

In a bit when the latter's no longer sticking around and I'll be flirting with sleep, I'll be alone in a bed I've never physically been alone in.