Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This is not the post I intended to be writing, but right now I can think of nothing else - I am sick. Sick as a dog. (Are dogs generally known for ill-health? Curious.)

I am not enjoying the pain in my throat, the heaviness of my head, or the fever welling from my chest up, but I cannot say that I am entirely oppossed to being in this state. It would almost seem that I actively seek it out.

Although I am a person who gives myself days off - for holidays, or when desperate, a 'mental health day' - nearly whenever I feel the need, whenever I feel that five days a week are simply too many to spend at work, there is always an element of guilt. I feel guilty for being a less than diligent employee, guilty for earning less money while hubby slaves away, fear of the guilt my mother will impose if she discovers I have taken yet another day off. Mostly I feel annoyed at myself for being so unable to just bloody well cope.

But on genuine, unable-to-move style sick days, I get a break absolutely free. I get to stay home, do nothing, AND get lavish sympathy from employers and loved ones alike.

I have a rule-of-thumb for judging the general 'niceness' of a person, based on how they react to hearing of another's illness. Most people, almost all of my family included, fit into the selfish category - they say "don't give it to me!" But some exceptionally lovely people, many of my friends included, don't even think to say this - their only reaction is to show concern for the ill person. I have realised in the last few days that this is a little unfair of me. For it turns out that I can show sympathy for the sick, kiss my hubby while he has an exhausting flu, and tell myself I am being kind - but in fact I am being selfish. I want that bug to give me an unplanned holiday-on-the-sofa.

This story is an exaggeration. But the element of truth has made me think. Perhaps I need to give myself a break a bit more... without the need to be sick.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A room of one's own

I strongly agree with Virginia Woolf that every woman (and every man, no doubt) needs a room of one's own. Hubby has his study, and in our last abode and this I have claimed the spare room as a space that I can both decorate and find alone time in. I don't remember ever actually agreeing to anything, but if I shut the door when I'm in this room, I am given uninterrupted privacy. As this is a privilege we don't even grant one another when in the shower, it is good to know there is somewhere I can go and feel safe and alone.

It is time for a redecoration. Last year's claim to independence was to create a boudoir - with large, plush cushions, draped jewellery and lingerie, reds, purples and white. Our current spare-room was originally intended as a play room, that doubled as the home for my girly goods, but has become only useful as a bedroom, and is girlier than the girliest room I had as a child - it makes me woozy to spend time there.

The plan: simplify. Reduce the number of colours, strip the visible contents of the room. Focus on functionality - which means having less things to knock over when dancing, comfort for singular or group lazing, access to art materials and books that I actually read. It is time to put away the pagan paraphernalia that no longer brings me solace, and replace it with the real-world things that do - gardening books, feminist histories, modern literature, fresh flowers.

I encourage every woman to find a room, or at least a corner, of one's own. A space that no-one else gets a say in the look of, and which no-one else is allowed to disturb you in. It sounds indulgent, but looking after your sanity is not an extravagance.