"You hear laughter breaking through, it makes you want to fart. You’re heading for a breakdown, better pull yourself apart. " - John Cooper Clarke

Time for hibernation.

With the job-front looking bleak and the cold weather coming in for real this time – I mean, it’s going to rain tomorrow, and I’ve still not cut the grass, I’m tempted to stay in bed all day. It is so difficult to get up in the mornings when I can see that it is grey outside and that obviously means that it’s cold too, that I’m very tempted to hibernate. For real, this time.

It’s been over a year since I have been out of work and I hate not having a routine. Before, it was get up, shower, get dressed, get the tram, work, come home – and I miss that terribly. Nowadays, it’s more of a routine of wake up, decide whether or not I want to get up, read, drink tea, watch TV, drink tea, eat a bit and then go to bed. I used to have a reason for getting up, going out and ending my day in front of the TV – but now I don’t. I feel lethargic and a total failure when day after day I cannot find a job.

The job centre in the middle-of-bloody-nowhere is going to call me in very soon to offer me jobs – which will all be Flemish-speaking – and perhaps offer some training in IT and possibly to better my ever-dying French. Well, maybe. But usually that’s done once you have secured a job, which at this rate is a bit of long shot.

I no longer go out, which is for the better as my budget is tighter than ever, and feel terribly despondent. I try to avoid my father on Skype as his first words are always “have you got a job?” and am grateful for the books that I have, although I seem to be reading them rather too quickly, and coming from a slow reader says something.

Coralie is looking to move out early next year which will leave me alone for four months while Tatiana is in Madrid doing her stage and Todd spends every other weekend here. I really should be clearing out the house and down-sizing whilst looking for a ground-floor apartment – if possible – around here as I have to move sometime next year. Todd is as upset about this as I am as it is the only home that he has known. This house is the only place that I have ever called home seeing as I have been living here for over seventeen years.

So that’s what I should be doing.

Clearing out.

I’ve been away….

…but Hermie hasn’t.

Scary. Very scary.

Yesterday I went for an interview for a job that, although wasn’t a job that I would normally go for, was nevertheless, a job. It seemed like a pleasant place to work and I gave it my best. As usual, I won’t hear until next week, but then, that is better then some interviews that I have been to and then never heard a peep from the interviewer again.

Tatiana knew about the interview and made me promise to tell her how it went, which I did, thinking that it went pretty well, considering it was done entirely in my rusting French. But the reply from Tatiana scared me witless:

“Well, if it went fine great! And you can’t do any better so…. If you want to call me you can.”

The girl is taking over and has even started using expressions that I use when the children sit an exam or something – “did you do your best? Then there’s no need to worry because you can’t do better than that.” This growing up lark is beginning to take over and I feel like the child now. Perhaps it means that I’ve done a good job so far, although there’s a lot of work to be done on Todd who is only excellent when his alpha-male kicks in. Or whatever it is.

Now. How do I train my daughters to tell me when they’re eating at home or not?

Update: I received a job rejection yesterday and the director at the job that I went for in this post called me today saying that I was amongst the top three candidates – but they chose someone who can speak Flemish as well. I feel like giving up.

Todd, N° god knows what.

Last Saturday Todd decided to make an appearance. He sat next to me and chatted a bit and then said:

“Look, mum.”

Todd lifted up his tshirt to show off his third piercing: a nipple piercing.

I grabbed my boobs in case they started hurting and stared at the barbell through my son’s nipple.

“Did that hurt?”
“Ouch, yes – it felt like a dart going through my nipple.”

I clutched my massive bosom even closer to me.

“And now that you’ve been paid for your postman rounds, I suppose that you’ll be saving for the other nipple to be done?”
“Oh no, Mama – that hurt so much that I’ll never have it done again.”

Famous last words.

Feeling some relief, especially when Todd dropped his tshirt down, I felt comfortable and let go of my massive bosom, leaving it to flop on the floor.

But then the final straw came.

“Papa has told me that I need to see a psychologist.”
“What for this time, Todd?”
“He thinks I’m a masochist and should see someone.”

Oh dear. My Ex obviously lives in the 20th century – piercings are a ‘fashion statement’.

Just wait until the boy starts getting tattoos.

Growing up.

Nobody told me that having children was easy, although at the moment I am finding it even harder realising that one of my daughters is about to fly the nest. Coralie went to get her exam results on Tuesday and despite having had to re-take seven exams she passed with “satisfaction”, whatever that may translate into in English. When she called me I was naturally delighted and then started crying for about an hour. I am so proud of Coralie who now has a degree in tourism that I cried tears of joy, pride and a rather peculiar feeling of inferiority.

I was crap at school and hated studying. Coralie was good at school and college but hated studying and yet it’s paid off wonderfully. Until she decides what she actually wants to do with her degree, and I don’t mean bin it, she will be working full-time as an hotel receptionist.

As of tomorrow.

Yes. Coralie will be earning as of 10 September, 2010.

At the rate I’m going I can’t see myself doing much more than flipping burgers – and even then I think I have to speak Flemish as well.

So I’m an extremely proud mother, yet sad to see the first child ready to leave home.

On the plus side, while she’s still here, how much should she pay me?;)

Boys can’t catch.

Kenny has been and gone. He arrived looking fit and well and left looking like a wounded soldier. Naturally, he’s blaming me, but for once it wasn’t my fault at all. It’s all very simple: I threw a ball at Kenny. Kenny tried to catch it. Kenny got his knees in a twist, hit a marble table and then crashed on the patio.

Ouch.

No broken bones, no broken glasses (how did he manage that?) – but a rather broken head which was bandaged up rather expertly by my mate Roger. This happened, thankfully, after Kenny had taken the Twat and I out for dinner because had it happened before I think I may well have been left at home. And to think that idiotic accidents only happen when slightly intoxicated. I believe that I have proved myself wrong again and just hope, really hope, that Kenny pays us another visit as the long talks in the garden were great.

At least this visit took my mind off things for a while, but I am back to hoping to hear from 5 other job applications that I have submitted as well as the endless search for a job.

The children should have come home yesterday, but the girls are with their boyfriends and Todd never replied to my message so presumably he is with his girlfriend. He’ll turn up eventually – he’s a bit like a stray dog in that sense; you can’t get rid of the sod.

Hermie is sleeping indoors at night now but takes so long to get out of his wellie that I ended up tipping him out the other day and this morning I resorted to taking his wellie outside and putting it in his pen. Hermie wasted no time coming out then.

Aha! Somebody is at the front door.

It can only be Todd.

Being accident-prone isn’t a Good Thing.

I’ve just come back from a lovely short stay with friends in northern France. They live in a beautiful converted barn which dates from the 17th century. Or maybe the 18th. I’m not too good on dates. I’d only just recovered from falling off a chair when putting a salad bowl away, thus splitting my head open and despite clutching a piece of frozen fish against my head, ended up with a huge and painful bump when I decided to knock my head again when getting out of a 2CV. That sent me flying on the pavement and my head was promptly seen to by our hostess.

Kenny won’t invite me to go anywhere again with him and he’s supposed to be stopping here tomorrow to take the Twat and I out for dinner. I must try and stay upright.

Brussels was warm and balmy last night but I’m almost tempted to put the heating on today. My toes have gone blue and I’m back to drinking steaming mugs of tea again. My letterbox was full of spam and a bank statement, my inbox had a job application rejection – and more spam, notably from that charming young boy who used to leave insults here.

My run to the Dole office was amusing as usual. I had a fight with the door only to be told by a passerby that it was shut. I was convinced that it was Monday today for some reason, hence the confusion. My monthly visits are getting to be depressing as it’s almost a year since I have been out of work and this is a first for me. Still, Belgium has woken up after the summer holidays and hopefully something will come along.

And I think it’s time that Hermie sleeps indoors at night now. I’d hate his claws to go blue.

I am Wonder Woman.

I sometimes wonder how the Belgian ambulances work so maybe somebody can put me straight.

Last week, a car hit a bollard as the driver tried to make a u-turn and ended up turning over completely, trapping the two people inside. I ran to the car along with several other people to see if I could help and was immediately asked to call an ambulance.

As the hospital was very close I expected to hear the sirens pretty quickly but no, I appeared to be engaged in a game of 20 questions. Realising that there must be quite a few hoax calls made, I presumed that the person at the end of the phone was simply getting details of the accident and then relaying them on to the paramedics that had already left the hospital. Questions such as the location, and what had actually happened were expected, but when I was asked if anybody was hurt, I began to think that somebody was taking the piss.

Finally, I think I was believed and as I left the scene where other do-gooders were helping out, I told them that I had called for an ambulance, and at last heard the sound of sirens approaching.

It reminded me of a time when I had to be rushed to be hospital here – I ended up in the back of a police car as the ambulance was taking so long.

My Good Deed of the Day was slightly squashed, I admit, but thankfully, nobody died.

Wonder Woman. Come to me and do your Good Deed.

Now they’re here, now they’re not.

My parents made a brief visit to Brussels again this year and so I met up with them the night they arrived and had an excellent supper at Jardin du Nicolas and then prepared for a barbecue with the children the following day. We weren’t sure whether or not the rain would hold off but it did and thanks to my dad’s faux pas by saying that “women think barbecues are such wonderful ideas because all they do is watch the men slave over the barbecue”, I managed to order my dad to make the salad as I knew the children were rather excited to show off their barbecuing skills. My mum and I sat and chatted away which made a lovely change.

During the afternoon my parents showered us with gifts of cheese, mint chocolates and the children received their Christmas and birthday presents which is always lovingly wrapped up in an envelope. My father has promised to pay for a new pair of glasses for me as I can’t afford a new pair myself. I count myself very fortunate indeed.

Next year will be slightly different as it will be my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary and they are presently thinking of renting a gite in France for a family gathering. I’m wondering what I could paint gold without it looking too kitsch.

Todd had some good news as his dad had found him a job as a postman for the next 2 weeks. Despite the early mornings, he wasn’t too fazed by the idea, and I think it’ll do him some good, especially all that exercise around this village on the bike they’ll give him. He will also be given ‘security shoes’ which had us all wondering. My father guessed that they are probably handed out as a security measure against guard dogs.

Well, it’s a possibility, I suppose.

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon.

There is nothing more that pisses me off than somebody fucking around with my life. Sunday morning started out fine – until I tried to Skype someone only to find that Alexsander123 had hacked into my account and was quite happily using it yesterday. Fortunately, I only had about €1 credit, so no loss there – but my contacts have obviously all gone. I’ve managed to recuperate 4, but there were quite a few more. So if you want to keep in touch with me, just drop me an email.

To be honest, it was partly my fault as my Skype account and my old gmail address had the same password so it was easy for Alexsander123 to hack into the two accounts, but if you receive an email from my zoeeee gmail address, beware – it’s not from me.

So yesterday I spent the entire day trying to recuperate my old gmail address but despite filling in Google’s lengthy form whereby you have to include 5 people that you email and 4 labels, they still refused to admit to my identity. And I had to give up my old Skype address as I had signed that up with my old gmail address of which I no longer have any control over.

Great.

The rest of the day was spent changing every single password that I had for every single account that I have – many of which I had long forgotten about and left me in a foul and furious mood.

It was also Todd’s 17th birthday but he wasn’t here all day apart from a quick pop around to the house to insult me again and then off with friends, so I guess he had a good time. I didn’t even have enough time to give him his present and god knows where he is today.

But he’s no longer a minor – YAY!

It could be worse.

The ‘children’ are back again and Todd is none the wiser. He has broken two more doors simply by hitting them and all I was trying to do was talk to him. Perhaps I should ignore him totally and he’ll love me forever, but that really isn’t my way of bringing up a child. The boy has anger issues and takes them out on me as he’d rather not take them out on his father. Ho hum. Tatiana is still working at the local supermarket and Coralie is studying hard to re-take 7 (eeeeks) exams so as to get her degree. So far she seems to be very serious about re-sitting the exams – for which I don’t blame her, as she will have a job in September if she passes.

Todd is finally going into the fourth year next month – at the age of seventeen. That means that he’ll leave school at the age of (almost) 20, but it appears to be pretty common amongst boys in this country. I’m sure that he’ll do very well for himself, as long as he doesn’t decide to become a hairdresser…

I was speaking to the Ex about Todd and his behaviour this morning, along with the fact that there really don’t appear to be any jobs on the market in my domain. So the Ex suggested sending my CV to hotels to work as a receptionist, something that I could do but am not exactly jumping up and down about. But then, if it’s a job – well, I should go for it, despite the awful hours.

Apart from that, I’m keeping myself busy de-cluttering my office (at home) and have subsequently ended up with backache. The days are pretty quiet as nobody is around so I have to do something or it’s back to watching Jezza Kyle again, and quite frankly, life is too short for that.

Tomorrow: hairdressers. The joy.

Todd

Todd and his Mohawk looking happy. I bumped into Tatiana in the supermarket and she told me that he has gone to Poland for a week to be with his girlfriend. Now I know how his dad copes with the boy – I certainly can’t.

There again, I wouldn’t part with my money for Todd to go on holiday, he doesn’t deserve it.

He’s lovely to photograph though.

Things I do for fun.

Pot of moisturising cream
I enjoy spending the good part of an hour washing moisturising cream off toilet doors and the surrounding area. It’s very therapeutic especially when you have to try, unsuccessfully, to get half of the stuff out of the key hole.

This is Todd’s latest temper tantrum – he threw it at the door from the bathroom because I wouldn’t give him €10 to pay back a friend.

The loo does, at least, smell nice now.

Bloody ants.

The best thing I did this weekend was go shopping with Tatiana who had kindly offered to prepare a barbecue before the World Cup final. The poor girl could hardly get me out of the freezer section where I was feeling very comfortable gazing at pizzas as I leant against the frozen peas section. It has been so hot lately that places such as the frozen food section of supermarkets and my cellar are my favourite haunts, although the temperature is supposed to drop by 10° today.

When we got home I found that the ants had found their way in again and there were thousands of the bloody things crawling around my French windows. This time they were mainly storm ants, many of whom had formed small clusters on the actual windows. I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle them exactly until Tatiana suggested getting the vacuum cleaner which seemed the only sensible option as they were crawling all around the entire French windows and it was impossible to see where the ants were actually coming in.

So while Tatiana cooked supper for us, I was vacuuming up ants. Storm ants – the ones with wings on. And just as their name suggests, we had a light storm during the Germany – Uruguay game which mucked the satellite around a bit and we had to watch the match in French. Excellent game, dire commentary.

The storm cooled things down for a bit but Sunday was another scorcher. Nevertheless, Tatiana wanted to go ahead with her barbecue, so I prepared a salad – again, as it’s all I really want to eat in this weather and we ate outside before going in to watch the World Cup final.

Great food, dire commentary, abysmal game.

“Mama, watching the corn pop in the microwave has been the most exciting thing to happen so far.”

I couldn’t have put it better.

Test

Lost.

Some people can simply not live without a computer.