22 May 2012

Happy Birthday

No, you haven't come to the wrong site. It's still me.... Addy, with a new look.
I thought it high time for a makeover.  My Blog is four years old today.  In some ways it seems I have been writing down my thoughts a lot longer than that, in other ways it seems like only yesterday, when I first ventured nervously into the blogosphere to bare my soul.

When I think back to what spurred me on to join the blogging community in the first place, it was the utter frustration with the situation I found myself in... living with a 24/7 end-stage alcoholic with no idea how to cope, how to make him stop drinking, how to get someone to listen to our cries for help or how to return to normality ever again. I felt as if I was in a nightmare where I was being chased by a faceless monster wielding a big club and where I was unable to run away as my feet were set in thick concrete. Except it was reality and I was not asleep. Fighting alcoholism is not just difficult for the alcoholic but it affects the whole family around them. It is very much like bashing your head against a brick wall, for all that you manage to achieve successfully.

Four years on from that very first post, my life is so different now. I have peace of mind. I can sleep easy. I have control of my life again and do not have to answer to anyone but myself. I can go to bed calmly in the knowledge that the house will not burn down from a fallen cigarette or that I will not stumble over an intoxicated body in the kitchen (or worst, find his corpse). Financial worries are a thing of the past. (When £600 is going out of the house each month on whisky and cigarettes alone, it is very easy to worry.) When I  read some of the entries from that early period, it is hard to think I was actually involved in it. The nasty episodes are withdrawing farther and farther away in the recesses of my memory. It is only when I read other alcoholic blogs or listen to others' stories at Al-Anon, that I get a glimpse of what  I once went through. It makes me shudder. Admittedly I am on my own now and don't have the lovelier version of Greg by my side, the one I married and made plans with, but I doubt I could have gone on much longer with the way he was as a full-time alcoholic. 

At the moment, the blog still serves as a concrete reminder for me and I hope it will also help others going through similar situations or inform those who have absolutely no idea what it is really like to live with alcoholism. It may even make an alcoholic in the making think twice about what will befall them and their family if they continue downwards on the slippery slope they follow. However, I've decided my four-year-old needs some new clothes and have attempted a makeover. It is still a work in progress but for the moment I leave you with what I have managed so far.

15 May 2012

Her Majesty

The Queen was in my neck of the woods today. It seemed rude not to go along and say hello. Click on the photo and zoom in. It is her, I assure you!

14 May 2012

It's a Dog's Life

I've been giving my Snoopy extra cuddles and pats this weekend. He always gets a lot anyway but this weekend even more so. He may not have won Britain's Got Talent, but he is still very special to me.

10 May 2012

The Apprentice?

It's funny what can keep you awake in the night. Sometimes it's not always the difficult problems of life but the stupid and unimportant. Something has been bothering me for the last few nights and I know it's stupid to worry about it in the grand scheme of things, but it has really got to me.....

This last few weeks I have been having a mad push on ebay to get rid of some of the clutter in my home. Kay and I had recently unearthed about 5 large boxes full of baby/toddler clothes in our cellar and I wanted to clear them out of the way before I tackle another room to decorate in the house. I know I could go to a charity shop with them (and I do donate quite a lot) but my philososphy on ebay is to sell good things cheaply so that someone else can get the pleasure from things and hopefully someone with not a lot of money to throw around. It just gives me a good fairy godmother  feeling if I imagine a hard-up family somewhere struggling to pay bills who have got something nice for little expense. (I don't mean that to sound pompous or sanctimonious).

Just one of the many lots
Anyway, I had advertised about 27 items or job-lots on ebay last week. Some of the clothes were really expensive in their day with hand-embroidered motifs or lace collars, others were more run-of-the-mill things from Mothercare or Woolworths, but all in excellent condition and still full of life to give. I don't charge much for the reason given above - 99p here or at most £2 there,  plus postage, of course, which since 30 April costs an arm and a leg to post a bulky feather let alone anything heavier. So I offered to combine postage wherever possible if someone ordered more than one item. I was surprised to see that one person had bid for about eight of the items or lots and out of curiosity I looked up her ebay profile to gain a bit of information about her. To my dismay I gathered she likes collecting children's clothes to sell on again to make a huge profit. Looking at items she has for sale, she sells at incredibly high prices. To cut a long story short, she bought eleven items from me in total from  4 job-lots costing her the princely sum of £4.78.  I was almost selling at a loss, once I had paid the ebay and paypal fees. She even had the gall to ask me if I would combine the postage, as I had advertised. I felt very annoyed, that this woman had used me and would make a financial gain for herself whilst even squeezing postal costs and every last penny out of me. You could argue that I should have not been so naive and put the items on for higher prices, but in the long run, I did want to get rid of them and lower prices tempt buyers more than high ones.

THAT dress!
 There were a few other lots that she had bid for on the following day and I found myself wishing that someone else would bid higher. One was for a toddler's dress that I knew had cost me £30 back in 1990 and she was going to get it for £2.  It is awful to say, but I felt sick at the thought of this woman getting that too and was so relieved when someone else bid higher at the very last few seconds and won it. I was actually jumping up and down with joy that fate had intervened and her darstardly plan had not succeeded. Was it worth getting in a tiswas over? I think not, but a little bit of me is very pleased at the outcome nevertheless. I don't think I'm really cut out for the cut-and-thrust of the business world. Lord Sugar would drop me at the first hurdle.

05 May 2012

Book Worm

Inspired by Don't Panic 's post about books, I got to thinking about why and how people read the books they do. What makes them take a book off the shelf at the bookshop or library? Is is because it is a bestseller, a classic, a hobby, a passion? Do they buy it regardless, because they must have it, or do they study the cover, the first page, to see whether it is readable, in tune with what they want to read, or has big-enough print?

In my own case, I have a love-hate relationship with books. Up until the age of sixteen, I read as much as the average teenager, devouring some of the classics like Little Women and Jane Eyre, as well as teen girl magazines. However, once I got sucked into A-levels, when I studied three languages and dissected some of their literature, I had little time for reading anything else.

When I then went on to university to study German in more depth, my life was filled with reading shelves of German literature from the medieval (eg Parzival, Siegfried und Brunhilde) right up to the modern day (Kafka, Mann, Boell and Brecht) with plenty of Schiller, Goethe and Nietzsche thrown in as well. We didn't just have to read the books of course but analyse what the author was getting at, why this character did that, why that character said this. With Kafka, it was a nightmare (quite literally, as his books were based on dreams where all the characters are extensions of the central character and all the actions were symbolic as in dreams.) I still have reams of notes I took at lectures, all analysing, scruitinising, estimating, reviewing, deliberating. In the end it took the fun out of reading, so that I couldn't read a single book without it taking me half an hour on each page, asking myself why did the author say that, what was he trying to say with this etc., what was the purpose of that character etc.

Once I had left university I could not read a single book at all. It was too much like hard work and reminded me of the years of painful study. I almost got a phobia about them. I would happily read a newspaper or magazine - something I could dip in and out of - but it was three decades before I could look at another book again. Greg was quite an avid reader, but nothing could tempt me to pick up a book and lose myself in its pages. Quite by accident, a German friend came to stay and gave me the latest book off the shelves in German bookshops at the time. I liked the cover, enjoyed reading the first page and found myself being drawn into the story until, before I knew it,  I'd finished it within about a week.

Since then, I have slowly returned to reading books once more. It tends to be in the evening in bed before I go to sleep. I may only read a chapter at a time, but I slowly plod through until I can tick another book off my list of must-reads. When I select a book it us usually because I like the cover and what I read in the first page, or I may randomly pick a page some twenty pages into the book and see whether I like what I see there. Sometimes Kay recomends a book she has read (we have similar tastes) so I know if she has liked something, I shall too. What is absolutely essential is that I like the font and size of print. If it is too small and too many lines to a page, it doesn't get selected. Psychologically I like to be able to whizz through the pages to give me the feeling I am getting through the book faster.

I am a great one for new technologies and people praise me for my ability to  do things on the computer or digital camera that they cannot do, but I shan't be buying a Kindle any time soon. I like to touch and feel the book in my hand, physically turn the pages and then place the books on a shelf where I can see them. What about you?