Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It Never Rains...

Okay, so the gloom monster has been successfully tackled, shackled and shoved kicking and screaming into the back of the cupboard, where it is sitting menacingly gathering energy for its next possible onslaught. It has been replaced by the verging-on-constant-hysteria monster, whose catch phrase is 'well, you just gotta laugh'. So the dissolving into tears at any given moment has stopped and has been replaced by mirthless cackling. I'm not sure which is worst to be honest but at least the cackling isn't accompanied by puffy eyes the size of golf balls, which has never been my best look.

Here's the last 2 weeks in a nutshell...

- Oprah was great fun but I didn't end up being featured, so no chances of a bevy of handsome men battling for my affection on the doorstep for the foreseeable future

- Money is officially the root of all evil which is easy for me to say because my ex is now hoarding all the money in his sole accounts, leaving me to panic over every last penny

- I went out to see the band Razorlight and ended up being invited to join them at a local bar for a drink

- The house is as toxic as the bubonic plague. First I had bronchitis followed by flu and now Captain Underpants has pneumonia, which isn't helping my recovery

- I was offered a job filming a new fitness dvd for PowerPlate, but the offer was then retracted and given to a girl in the UK due to lack of US funds

- I lost my other teaching job yesterday so am now unemployed, but haven't had the guts yet to tell ex

- I have lost all energy for tears and can't help laughing at the universe's attempts to keep trying to trip me up. Oh bring it on. I've got through worse.

Here's the long, drawn out version of events to bore you all rigid with...

Thurs - Oprah Sm'Oprah

The Steve Harvey Show was aired yesterday. What can I say? This was apparently not my opportunity for international fame. I was on the show though. Just. During one of the early camera pans of the audience you can vaguely see a pale faced, limp haired woman clapping wildly like a deranged chimp and dressed in a tunic which appears to have had a multi-coloured ice-cream sundae thrown all over it. It was blindingly obvious from the moment that we arrived at the show, along with the other 298 audience members, and stood outside for 45 minutes, freezing our skinny-jeaned selves along with the rest of the rabble, that we were unlikely to be having a televised heart-to-heart with the Queen of Daytime on this occasion.

After finally making it into the studio and taking another 45 minutes to go through the security rigmarole, we were positioned fairly close to the stage. However, out of the 300 women in the audience there were at least 200 who were determined to do whatever it took to get camera time. Dressed in day-glo jewel toned jumpers, and leaping up and down in their chairs waving their arms above their heads like jack-in-the-boxes on speed, it was like observing a Mexican Wave gone astray. Maybe it was my British reserve. Or maybe it is just a reflection of my own personal psyche - but I was much happier to sit there anonymously and judge indiscriminately rather than hold myself up for public scrutiny.

The show was filmed for 2 hours and, to be honest, only a couple of questions from the audience were ultimately featured. Steve Harvey was hilarious but my enjoyment was hampered somewhat by the agony of trying to sit elegantly and smile photogenically for 2 hours straight. It took 3 days for the ache in my hips and cheeks to subside.

However, I did get to meet Oprah and Steve briefly at the end of the show. We didn't really chit-chat in depth and no phone numbers or email addresses were exchanged. I can't fool myself that it was a deep and meaningful personal moment for either of them particularly. But it was great to meet her face to face, to shake her hand, to exchange brief pleasantries and talk for a couple of minutes about her fantastic shoes (dark red peep toe Christian Louboutin) and the medical status of her sick puppy Sadie (at the time she was extremely critical although you will be relieved to hear that she is now on the road to recovery).

Fri - Penniless

I woke up to discover that my ex has transferred all the money out of the joint account into his sole account and I was effectively penniless for 24 hours. Not only was I penniless I was in fact overdrawn, which meant that I couldn't use my bank card at all. I can't describe how furious I was. I screamed and ranted down the phone at ex, who was travelling on business, bursting into helpless tears in front of the kids. Apparently he had told me in passing that he was going to re-organise the finances. Hmmm. Funny how he hadn't clarified the means of 're-organisation' in writing. I felt absolutely sick to my stomach and overwhelmed with fear and suspicion. All sorts of crazy, terrible thoughts occupied my head all day. But I emailed ex in a calm manner, apologising for the hysteria and asking him to continue with our agreed principle of financial transparency. And he responded with an apologetic phone message, promising to transfer all the money I needed as soon as he arrived home and with assurances that he would continue to be fair blah blah blah.

I felt a little better - and the money did get transferred. But it has highlighted the fact that I need legal advice. The money I receive right now is purely at ex's discretion and whilst I don't want to be a money-grabbing bitch I'm not convinced that the current financial allocation is fair. It would help my peace of mind to secure financial stability. But the thought of taking this step is daunting, because it could be the straw that breaks the amicable camel's back. Plus any legal representation over here is going to cost a fortune and I can't bear the thought of having to spend all that money, when it could be put to much better use.

Sat - Rock Chick

One of the greatest advantages of living in Chicago the past 9 years has been seeing great British bands. And on Saturday night I headed off to a little dive of a place to see Razorlight. Now I wouldn't say I was a huge fan of their music but I am rarely disappointed by seeing a successful band perform in a small venue. And there is something so special about supporting British bands who are relatively unknown in Chicago. Most of the people there were Brits (including half the teachers and parents of the British School of Chicago - all studiously trying to ignore each other) and it was nice to exchange smartarse comments with a bunch of strangers with similar accents for an hour or so. Razorlight were fantastic live and after the gig, while we were hanging out at the bar, we spotted the band. Usually I would eye anyone famous from a distance - playing out an imaginary conversation in my head before sloping off, full of regret that I didn't have guts to say 'hi'. Not tonight. My friend and I marched over and introduced ourselves - and before we knew it we were talking baked beans (I wish I was joking about this but it is sadly true) and had been invited to join the band at a nearby bar for a drink.

And after many years of gigs I was finally to hear the immortal words...'yeah, let her through. She's with the band...' Only in Chicago. Roll on April because I have tickets for the Ting Tings, Lily Allen, Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand.

Sun - Bambi on Ice

I had the kids on Sunday but ex suggested we all meet up and go ice-skating in the afternoon. We had taken the boys to see the ice hockey the previous Sunday with Captain Underpant's class mates, and this would be our last chance to skate at the outdoor rink because it was closing that very day. Tension between ex and I was still running high following the money debacle. I was starting to harbour sad thoughts of regret about our split, which caused me to alternate between flirtatious high spirits and emotional doe-eyed blinking back of tears from minute to minute. However, that all abated for a few brief minutes when I stepped onto the ice with Captain Underpants. It was just like trying to stabilize Bambi. The more I giggled and attempted to help him get both feet directly underneath him, the more his legs skidded about in every which direction. I ended up howling with laughter - along with all the spectators along the 3 or so metres that I managed to propel us both. I wish it had been captured on film. But even thinking about it now I can remember how my belly ached from laughing so deeply and so freely. Bambi on Ice (aka Captain Underpants) was not amused.

Mon-Fri - Flu Coma

After battling bronchitis for 2 weeks and generally feeling very run down and emotionally fragile, I finally succumbed to full blown flu and for the first time in years had to stay in bed for 3 days to recover. I didn't even have the energy to read or watch daytime television, which I had never considered being activities that had particularly required energy before I was sapped of every ounce of it. On Wednesday I did venture out to the hairdressers. Vanity got the better of me, because I had been asked to film a fitness dvd the following week in Portland and couldn't bear the thought of turning up with an inch of grey roots. This proved to be a bad move when I fainted half way through the application of the colour and it took all of my remaining strength to persuade them not to cart me off to ER. I managed to maintain consciousness whilst they hastily finished off the colour and cut and packed me off home. Of course, I arrived home, exhausted and with a less than impressive new 'do', to a message that the fitness dvd had been cancelled and my services were no longer required. Aaaarrrgghhhh! Usually I would have been fuming at this turn of events, but I was too sick to muster sufficient energy for even a mild case of frustration and just went back to bed and hid under the covers for another 2 days to recover.

The weekend - Captain Underpants seems a bit peaky

I spent the whole weekend double dosing Captain Underpants with every known pediatric pain killer, convinced that his fever was a 24 hour inconvenience that a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen would cure. This then became a 48 hour inconvenience. Then a 72 hour inconvenience. Oh for goodness sake - trust me to buy some duff bottles of medicine that were seemingly incapable of dealing with the common cold.

Monday - Receive Medical Confirmation that I am in fact Worse Mother in the World

Finally resort to taking Captain Underpants to the doctors, who tells me in no uncertain terms that he has pneumonia and is highly contagious (oops - guess all those playdates to stop mummy losing her marbles at the weekend were a bad idea then). It is clear he needs to be adopted by a mummy who cares slightly more about her child's health than when the next possible child-free opportunity might arise so she can update her blog again. Mummy slopes off home, tail firmly between her legs, determined to replicate the care of Florence Nightingale from this moment on if it kills her (which it probably will).

On the way home, I receive a call from the gym I have been working at since October last year telling me that they can no longer afford my services and not to bother coming back to work. Fan-bloody-tastic. I feel that sick sense of 'oh shit' in the pit of my stomach. Which then abates a little when I realise that I really hated that job, it earned me pittance and it really wasn't going to be any great loss. Yes, the $100 or so a week was handy. But hardly life saving. Now I could focus on getting everyone in the household back to being fighting fit, including myself, and really start to concentrate on what the hell I was going to do with the rest of my life.

No ideas as yet.

I'm open to suggestions.


  1. I think you need a stiff Gin and Tonic!

    Hoping things get better for you soon.

  2. Wow, you've been busy! Bummer about the jobs and money, but you're a survivor. Something will turn up.

    Btw, you can't possibly be the worst mother inthe world. That's my title.

  3. That sounds like a doozy of a couple of weeks. I wish I had some great advice for you. But on the money front - I gather that you're a personal trainer/fitness instructor? - could you set up your own business offering those services to mums who need a programme designed for them that they can do at home when their kids are asleep?

    The reason I suggest it is because I've never been a gym person and once I had kids, it was impossible to get to a gym anyway. With my husband leaving early and getting back late it meant I was never getting time to go out to exercise. Which left me trying to do fitness DVDs at home. But a local mum who is a personal trainer offered to give me an hour of her time for free to help me get fit for my sailing mission and she created a really simple programme that I can do at home.

    It has been amazing - so easy to do and the difference in my fitness is incredible. I absolutely would have paid for a service like that. And honestly, setting up your own business is a lot easier than you might think. I've done it and am happy to share advice.