Sunday, 26 August 2007

10st 9lbs, 0 fags, 5kg nuts, 0.54 mile, 52 words

Please not the shoes are skateboarding alone, and never with me in them!

You see what happens? Swim 40 lengths and it takes until Sunday to recover enough to blog again!

Actually, seeing as I've turned into such a fat b**t**d, I'm going to subject you to what I've been doing about it. I feel like Bridget Jones except of course I have 2 children and have married my Mr Darcy already, and am so content that the big knickers have invaded the lingerie draw and chocolates have infested the kitchen. (And crisps. Salt & Vinegar ones).

So on Wednesday I had a riding lesson and it damn near killed me. No really. What effort. I snorted and huffed and puffed all the way around our 20 metre circle, cursing the bloke at the health club who insists riding is NOT a CV (that's cardio vascular, or OUT OF PUFF to you and me). I was at the VERY OUT OF PUFF stage after only 15 mins riding. Hacking is so much easier!

So I went and swam another 40 lengths on Thursday, and bought running shoes (oh dear). So I had to justify the purchase by actually running.

Running. What a shite activity. Okay, I get out of puff in a riding lesson, but it is fun. Running is crap. I ran around the block. I got half way and collapsed - chest heaving, boobs killing me (must invest in a sports bra), eye-balls popping, bent double. I had a stitch and wanted to throw up. The men sitting in the pub garden were shouting things like, "Way hey - what have we got here then?" I don't know what we've got here - a fat bastard who's trying to get fit and would rather other fat bastards left her alone, perhaps? (I don't know if they were fat but I could smell their fags and wanted one so I staggered on by and didn't look).

A friend rang the other day and said she runs for an hour. An hour?!!!! Is she taking the piss? I ran for 3 minutes and nearly had a heart attack. The following day I got three quarters of the way around the block, and went early before the pub opened (HA!). Same side effects but did make progress, only today my calves are like rocks and not very cheery at all. I'll keep you posted as to how I get on, and for your info (yeah - like you care but hey...) it's half a mile around my block. I measured it on Google Earth cos you can do clever stuff like that.

In fact I spent a good couple of writing hours measuring distances on Google. My old apartment in Spain, for example, was 0.16 miles from the beach on foot. I used to walk a minimum of 5 miles a day, and was so skint I ate very little. Hence I was lovely and slender when I lived there. Unlike here where I am the product of having a car, a husband who provides for me, a job of my own, and am not smoking so have an appetite.

I think I have bored you enough. Can't remember where the writing is up to but am writing again! Hurrah! This novel will get finished if it bloody kills me. But am determined to get fit too!

Curse the purchase of running shoes... and Jon - how the hell did you run a marathon?!!!!!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Forty lengths - new record!

I swam 40 lengths today.

My previous record was 16. That's 6 without stopping, and then little breaks up to 16. But today I was on a roll.

I swam 20 without stopping, and then had a 2 minute rest, and then swam another 10! Then I had a 15 minute pit stop in the Jacuzzi, and then did another 10 - totalling 40!

How brilliant am I?!

Fat maybe - but also much fitter than I had previously thought. All that riding you see... it's working!

Also this week, have phoned Spain to arrange rental on an apartment. Which was interesting given that I haven't had anyone to speak Spanish to in er... years. I did quite well only floundered at the bank details bit, although in my defense, I can't follow all of that stuff in English either. I await an email with eager anticipation... It also gave me a bit of practice so that when I called my friend, he didn't have to use his English at all, and neither did I. Hurrah.


Still grieving at the loss, er, the not winning, of the funding. Don't think I've forgotten about it just yet! :-(

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Fat, fed up, and fundless!

I've been waiting by the letter box for ages. Months in fact. I've been waiting, and eating - but not smoking - so I'm now half a stone heavier than I was and feel enormous.

But I was waiting in the hope that a letter would arrive from the AHRC (that's the Arts and Humanities Research Council) and that (hoping beyond all hope) it wouldn't matter that I'm getting old and fat because I'd get funding for my PhD and everything would be then be hunky dory.

Except (you guessed it and I knowed it) I got the letter and the letter was crap.

Boo bloody Hoo.

Apparently my application that had to squish 5,000 words into the space of 500 (with references) was not good enough. The letter said, "The standard was, as ever, extremely high and many good candidates have been disappointed." It went on to say that I had scored, "Good application, priority for an award, Grade 4." So a pat on the back but no cigar. Not that I'd want a cigar, you understand, cos I don't bloody smoke anymore (and so can't even drown my sorrows in tobacco (or alcohol cos booze makes me ill)). Jeezuz ah needz a vice!

So am a tiny but fed up. Take a moment to savour the depths of my understatement there. No funding. No £12,000 a year to do my PhD. Nope. Nada. Zilch. No money. Ni una puta duro.

On the plus side I suppose it means that I can stay part time for my PhD which given the current rate of progress can only be a good thing, and it also means that the pile of crap I wrote on the application about hybrid novel forms and short story sequences, can go to hell in a paperback shredder for all I care. I am now free to write whatever comes out. So there.

And while I'm trying to look on the bright side, I am still going to have two glorious weeks in Spain in which to do some serious research for the novel I am determined to finish now that I've got this far (and sod the funding). And even better than that, on Thursday I went out on a hack to the beach.

To the beach! And oh it was soooo wonderful I can't tell you. It was the most superb thing I've ever done, galloping along the sands at the water's edge, the wind and the sea spray. And the speed. Oh lord. I'm an atheist I know, but I was shouting Oh My God in head, and was thanking the great whatever for being alive all the way back to the yard.

So thank the great white spirit for horses, and beaches, and Spain, and f*** being fed up, fat and fundless.

Monday, 13 August 2007


... for the appalling lack of posts at the moment, not to mention the word counter that appears to be frozen in time. Call this a writing blog? I hear you cry, and again, I heartily apologise.

But it is summer don't you know, and there are children who want to do things/go places/see people. I am exhausted from sliding down water filled pipes, running up and down sand dunes, and today was particularly good - getting lost and walking for 5 miles across scrub land with 3 kids - 2 of which weren't even mine! But it's all good fun, eh!

This week is fun filled and packed with adventure. Tomorrow is more swimming, and Wednesday is visiting, and Thursday is hacking out on horseback, and Friday is thinking of something to do with the sproglets again again again. Hmm.

So the writing is thin on the ground, and to be honest I think I needed the break because the words just weren't there for a while. And I was a bit worried, but then now I have stopped worrying they're coming back again. *sighs with relief*

And the best bit is that I get to go to Spain for a research trip and I am soooo excited, and so nervous, and I feel so guilty because I'm going all by my ownsome...

And I only have to write the whole novel (first draft) for October. Hmm. That's what I'll be doing on the beach in September then, eh!

P.S. In a fit of madness have been to hair dresser and gone EVEN blonder. Argh!!!!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Darwin Awards

In case you aren't familiar with the Darwin Awards, they are "A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises" or, in other words, killing oneself accidently due to absolute stupidity and therefore saving the genepool from hapless biological heritance.

I love 'em! But then I have a sick sense of humour, perhaps.

The way to win a Darwin Award is clear.

You must be responsible for your own death due to your own stupidity. Like the man who stuffed boxes into a hydraulic box crusher with his foot only to find it sucked his foot (and the rest of him) into the press. Or the man who decided to re-enact Benjamin Franklin's lightening experiment only without any of the precautions for safety, and made a kite and attached a piece of copper wire to it. The lightening bolt travelled (predictably enough) down the length of the high tensioned wire and killed him. The best bit is that the man in question was an electrician who really ought to have known better!

The official rules read as follows:

Out of the gene pool: dead or sterile.
Astounding misapplication of judgment.
Cause one's own demise.
Capable of sound judgment.
The event must be true.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Armed America - scary Americans

On Sunday I read the Sunday Times Magazine. Fine. Then I got to the middle bit and I saw a vision of hell.

No really. Did you see it?!

Page 26. Double page spread in full colour of a mum and dad with little boy who looks about 3. They are arranged in a lovely, smiling portrait style pose. The little boy wears a Superman costume but we can forgive him for that. (He's only 3 and they could be PJ's). What is disturbing about this scene is the fact that mum and dad aka Donno and Judi are wielding, along with their angelic-butter-wouldn't-melt-family-devotees smiles, two assault rifles that wouldn't look out of place on the Serengeti. What, one wonders, are they hunting in their sitting room?

Worse. They named the kid Uzi. Oh dear.

So the right to bear arms, in the good old constitution for over 200 years, was almost acceptable given that there were wild animals to deal with back then, oh and tomahawk marauding Indians (well, my rather pissed off ancestors actually who did have genuine cause for complaint, but we won't go on about that now...).

But back to the article. Turn the page and it gets worse. A young boy who looks too young to drive proudly shows off 6 handguns of varying scariness, and what looks like 4 assault rifles. Dan has "a dozen" guns apparently, (and a dozen Domino Pizza boxes in the corner of an otherwise empty yet pristine room). He says, "I consider the ownership of arms not only a right, but a duty of a free people to themselves and future generations." Oh shit! Pardon me.

The pic below is another family - mum, dad, and small child who chews on something while daddy brandishes another massive assault rifle. Another family has "an M4 carbine with telescopic sight - the semiautomatic version of the rifle favoured by the US and Israeli security forces." They also have 2 dogs and a child in the shot (boom boom).

More information on the article can be found here and the book, Armed America:Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes by Kyle Cassidy is published by David & Charles, more info here. I think I'll be too freaked out to read it though!

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Creepy Crawlies and Wildlife Photography

Yesterday I felt something crawling down my arm but when I looked, whatever it was had jumped off. (Read: When I had stopped jumping around and screaming long enough to look at my arm, whatever it was had fallen off).

This morning, eldest child came into office and declared, "Oh My God!" even though she isn't remotely religious.

This is what she saw:

Now it is remarkably difficulty to get a decent photo of a little spider on a web in your office, believe me. I've been at it for hours. I sprayed the web with water to see if that helped and took this:

A bit better only the little blighter took off into the (somewhat dead) pot plant (no doubt to dry itself out). It came back though so I tried to take more pics - by placing card behind its web, only I'm afraid I bust it a bit so now, as I type this, it is angrily repairing its web. (I assume it is angry - I would be.) My little office friend is called Araneus Diadematus and is otherwise known as a Common Orb Weaver. They make massive webs all over my patio and are very good at catching flies. We also had a clutch of eggs laid on our kitchen window a few months ago and watched them hatch. Cute when tiny. Honest. I can bear them in their webs but not on my arms! And we know all this how? Because we have an inquisitive 7 year old at home, and Google.

But I'll never make a wildlife photographer. *Boo Hoo*

Good job there's them that can. Nick, for example. Of Nick's Spiders. The pic below is by Nick.

Araneus diadematus

Friday, 3 August 2007

Adoption - tracing and the law

Some of the emails I've been receiving after this post have led to this post...

Tracing and the Law

It depends what country you are in. But before you even begin, there are a few things you need to consider. This is not something to be entered into lightly.

1. You don't know what you will find.

This means that you may well find a birth parent who has longed to see you all your life, but it also means that you may equally find a birth parent who never wanted to see you again. They may openly recoil at the fact that you have reared your ugly bastard head and chase you from door. Or they could be mentally ill, a drug addict, dead. You could have been the product of a harrowing relationship, of incest, or rape. This sounds harsh but when you don't know, anything and everything is possible, and you need to consider how you would deal with this if the worst turned out to be the case for you. A good book to read might be Yesterday they took my Baby by Ben Wicks, but there are lots out there. Read one. Please!

2. Reactions will vary.

They may have remarried and kept your existence a dark secret. Your appearance on the doorstep may threaten their very existence now, so have a heart. Don't just appear out of thin air. If and when you discover their whereabouts you need to make a gentle and subtle approach. You must consider the needs and wishes of the birth family and be prepared to back off if asked. This will be painful and difficult so you need to ask yourself if you will be able to do this if required. If you can't, then maybe you shouldn't be tracing just yet.

On other other hand, you may encounter a birth family who embrace you a little too much - a birth mother who wants to be your mother and make up for lost time. This can be just as difficult, especially if you still have your adoptive family close to you, and you have a birth mother becoming abusive towards your adoptive mother! This can, does, and has happened.

3. Everyone's feelings will have to be considered.

Many adoptees wait until the death of their adoptive parents before embarking on a trace, but many of us don't. You will need to be sensitive to the needs of your parents and siblings too. They will need to understand why you are tracing your birth relatives, and you may need to help them feel secure about their position in your life.

Extended birth family members may not know about you and may find it equally difficult to cope with this 'new arrival'. In my own case, my eldest cousin, who was the eldest grandchild, suddenly found herself the second oldest when I turned up out of the blue. I felt so guilty about that, but she handled it so well. I was lucky. Other situations I have read about didn't turn out so happily.

I am not trying to put you off tracing here, and I'm sure you already know it is not easy or something to be rushed into, but speaking from the position of one who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt, I'd like to say it again - don't have any expectations, be prepared for rejection (and equally to be wholly reclaimed), and think about the long term effects - on everyone.

Still want to trace?

Of course you do! I have breast cancer screening now that I never would have got had I not traced. I believe that we have the right to know our genetic heritage for medical reasons if nothing else. I believe that for all the issues and problems I have had to face as a result of tracing, I am much more of a complete person than if I hadn't traced. I can look back and see where I came from, and you know, there's a sense of peace in that.

If you don't want to trace, that too is fine though. You cannot allow anyone else to force the issue on your behalf, and your children may be the ones to do this. If this is the case, you may need to reconsider perhaps, because adoption affects everyone, not just you. It affects your kids because they cannot look back any further than you. They end up as adoptees by proxy, and should have access to medical history if nothing else. Perhaps?

Where to start?

There are loads of websites out there and search boards. You can trawl through those for hours on end, and some people strike gold. Some want to charge you lots of money, and others are free. Some are focused on the birth relatives, others on the adoptees. Lots of ruthless folks find it easy to prey on the emotion and the desperate so be warned. If you can hack it, the best way is undoubtedly through a government organisation/social services because they are trained to deal with the adoption triad (of which you are one third) and more importantly, trained to help you through the process. No - most importantly - they tend to have access to the information you need!

For information

For all adoptees, but especially those in the UK Adoption Search and Reunion is as good a place as any to start. This site contains useful generic information on tracing and how to deal with it emotionally. For search registries, start here. If you were born after 1975 you now have a legal right to your information but still have to go through the social service channels.

In Canada The Canadian Adoptees Registry is a good place to start. Also try Canada Adoption Registry Connect. The laws change from province to province but if you are over 19 years of age and were adopted in British Columbia, then you can access your details by filling in the form found here. Please note that birth parents have the right under BC law to request they cannot be found, and if so, you will not be able to retrieve your information. Maddening but there you have it.

For US citizens there are now hundred of sites who want to make money from you for searches. Forget them. Start by searching the message boards. Use the first 'start here' link above, and try looking on Sunflower Birth Mom to see if your birth mother is searching for you.

Last words...

Adoption search and reunion was a long road for me, and both my families. We all had to adjust and re-adjust. But it was, in the long run, the best thing I ever did, because I am whole (well half whole - I still can't locate my birth father). My mum and dad are okay with it all now - sometimes I think they are more okay with it than I am! - and I have regular but not over the top contact with my birth family. It's worked out well but has not been pain free.

If you really want to find out more, read what people are saying on the blogs for adoption. And er... if you are searching, or thinking about it, and want support, feel free to email me and I'll do what I can to support you.