Thursday, 16 July 2015

The New Year's Eve Chrysalis

I think I've written before about the way that since the children have been at school, this time of year always feels like New Year's Eve. I loathe the real New Year's Eve with all its maudlin contemplation of passing time, getting older and "What have you achieved this year?" self-questioning, and so, if ever possible, I try and avoid it and stay at home, going to bed at the usual time in an attempt to pretend it's not happening; but at this time of year, at the end of the academic year, I really can't put my head in the sand. Sorry to those people who complain that I sound too miserable in my blog posts (spoiler: keep reading, it does get a lot better), but I can't deny it: it is a moment to feel a certain sadness for time lost. Moving on from people close to my heart, missed opportunities, bungled chances. Was it Sisyphus who every day pushed the big rock up to the top of the mountain, only for it to roll down again?

This year it's a trying one. The children have become little frayed knots full of exhaustion, frustration and upset. Both indignant that their sibling is still breathing and, worse, seemingly getting a better deal than themselves, and then distraught that the sibling doesn't want to play with them. We all need a holiday so badly. It seems unlikely that we can all spend the next four weeks together without some spontaneous combustion, before I can find myself floating once more in the sea in my favourite part of Brittany, dreaming of langoustines and pastries so buttery that grease drips down your chin as you are eating.

And there's no denying that there have been some really testing times recently. Waiting in all day for a new king-sized mattress, only for it to arrive at the very end of the timeslot and the two burly men refuse to take it up the stairs because their insurance won't cover it. Imagine over 20 minutes of heaving, pushing, pulling, sweating and panting to get something around a foot too big for the gap it has to squeeze through into your bedroom. A very birth-like experience. I hear Ikea will exchange it if there are any issues with it within the first 90 days, but I fear the only way it is leaving this house now is if it gets hacked to pieces by a woman enraged during the summer holidays.

A hangover on a hot day, only eclipsed by husband's hangover and bad temper, plus a deadline to take some pictures to an open exhibition for handing-in day. Two children moaning all the way there. The realisation that I'd misread the instructions and got the wrong fixings on the back of one of the pictures so it couldn't be accepted. And ultimately the other one wasn't selected either. This art lark is such a damned rollercoaster.

And then the high: ta daa! I've just been accepted at the University of Bristol for my MA in Translation! How lovely. It's easy to believe that I have lost a lot of my brain power, with two children and a husband all talking at me about different things at the same time, and never being able to complete my train of thought, so it's really very heartwarming indeed to be validated in this way: if I could get myself together enough to do two test translations (one of which is in a language I really haven't spoken for 20 years) and an 1500-word essay with references as part of my application, and then get through, it's as close to biological proof as I'll ever get that I still have my marbles.

So this New Year's Eve might well be about moving on from some of the old and then out of my chrysalis to reveal a brand new me. I am trying to tie up the loose ends and finish a few other things off before term ends so I can start afresh in September. Which brings me nicely on to the quilt I've been making for someone (literally tying up loose ends and sewing them in). I had hoped to finish this, well, several months ago but things have got in the way. Then I had hoped to finish it before the end of term this Friday but the last metre of backing fabric was stuck in the midst of a German postal strike until last Wednesday. I've done my darndest but I think it will be next week now. I will take some photos when it's completely finished but for now here are some details... This is an enormous, glorious technicolor quilt built from love and it has babys' clothes, 1950's pinnies (apparently worn with chagrin by someone who hadn't been allowed to go to university - I can feel the pain; it is so good to have chopped those up for something better), old pillowcases, cross-stitched napkins, well-worn charity shop blouses, sarongs harking back to distant worldwide sojourns, jam pot covers, circles and spots galore... take a peek!

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