The Baby Diaries: Zzzzzombies….

Standard

In hindsight we should have been better prepared for the zombie apocalypse. People tried to warn us that the end of the world was nigh but we laughed them off as crazy naysayers, doomsdayers, or Jehovah’s Witnesses. We too easily dismissed the words of those friends and family we should have trusted and we should have spotted the early signs that all was not as it used to be.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it started, it crept up on us so gradually and was nothing like the films where one brain hungry monster’s bite induces instant cranial cravings of your own. But if I had to give a date I’d say somewhere around the start of August, around the same time of the arrival of the little being.

The little being came to us on the day of the Swiss national holiday and its arrival complemented the Swiss festivities for indeed it was a joyous occasion that warranted celebration, even if the advance preparations were a little traumatic for all concerned. The minute thing seemed so helpless and innocent that we were lured to it and felt an instant connection and bond that blinded us to what was coming. Perhaps we were naïve but perhaps under these circumstances no-one could have had the ability to foresee the great power that it already wielded over us now bound us in inescapable bonds. Whatever the truth of the matter our lives of servitude had now begun and there was no escape.

As I said, it came on so gradually, it wasn’t perceptible at first. It was only natural that after the little being’s grand entrance into the world I should want to zealously watch over it to ensure that no harm could befall it. Innocuously it passed the night in peaceful slumber and as the beard returned home and I was left alone in the hospital room I volunteered for the first watch, not knowing how long this watch would last.

When the man returned the following morning, I was only too pleased to report how well the small one had reposed. When left alone for the second night I eagerly anticipated another restful eve for the little being and thought it may be permissible to take my sensory leave and recharge my, by now slightly weary, human cells, but unwittingly I had made a fatal error.

It seems my mistake was in continuing to believe my life was still my own, to do with as I would like. I had not understood the full extent of the invisible contract I had entered into, in accepting the little being into our lives. It was our master now and it exercised its supremacy during the witching hours of that second night when demonstrating rest was an abstract concept that it alone could deploy or remove at will. Apparently it could do without sleep to teach me this valuable lesson.

I felt my humanity drifting away but I clung to a hope that some part of me still remained in the skin I managed to shuffle around in and that I could still recover my senses and return to the fully operational version of myself that had existed before the advent of the teeny creature. The cure seemed so simple, all that was required was a good night’s sleep, but was already now far beyond my reach.

When the beard and I took the little being home I hadn’t realised that the malaise I suffered from was infectious and that soon, he too, would be contaminated by the same dreamless machinations contrived by a titchy master that demanded our attention at any waking or attempted sleeping moment. As the days and nights blended into one interminable mess of hours we were dragged further and further from the mortal selves we had previously known. We became shadows of ourselves, barely functioning automatons that lived to service the being’s needs. We survived off the scraps of repose it may casually toss our way after duties had been fulfilled before its insatiable hunger loomed again.

In the battle of our will to sleep and its will to deny us that luxury it had the advantage. Its micro proportions meant that it could easily recharge and function on the short snippets of sleep it allowed itself, but two formally functional grown adults could not possibly reboot their necessary systems within these short time spans, even if they could turn themselves on and off in synchronisation with the tiny pest.

Even now we were so under the little being’s spell that the exasperations that should have rightly been laid at its door were misdirected at each other. From time to time emotions would erupt and accusations of deliberately avoiding duties along with occasional packet of nappies were hurled at each other as missiles of our snooze-deprived frustration.

We never thought we’d be the kind of people to cave so easily to terrorists but in the early hours of the mornings we begged our miniscule captor for release from our doze-divested state. In our attempts to negotiate with the petite extremist we promised it everything under the sun from limitless food provision, all the toys it could handle, 24-hour viewings of ‘Frozen’ on repeat and a free choice of naming any future pets or siblings no matter how ridiculous the consequences. But the little being was unmoved.

Secure in its domination over us, that we no longer had the capacity to resist, the little being allowed itself slightly longer rest periods, even as long as four and a half hours at times! Slaves that we were we rejoiced in its generosity as it gave us back a tiny fraction of that which it had forcibly taken from us at our initial subjugation.

And still the diminutive organism continued to toy with us. Whenever we thought we found a pattern to its strange dozing habits that we could adapt to in an attempt to recover a small semblance of our conscious selves, the little being would change the rules and intersperse new variations on its slumber(less) patterns.

The beard and I vaguely remembered that we had once had names and souls of our own as we shuffled past each other, dragging our feet and groaning in the early hours of the morning. If we had been given the opportunity we would have dreamt of sleep, but denied even this we continued to devote ourselves to the micro ruler’s will.

The zombification has overcome us and we are fully enslaved to the will of the little one. I fear there is no hope for a remedy that will return us to earlier days where we could lounge in a blissful siesta state for half a day or more. The best we can hope for in the immediate future is a six-hour snooze, should the little being allow us that we would be as happy as the walking dead at an all you can eat brain buffet.

Advertisements

The Pregnancy Diaries: Part 4 – Pregnant in Venice

Standard

I must have been about 6 weeks into my pregnancy when the first symptoms of morning sickness kicked in and I met these with a mixture of welcome relief and regret. I’d read online that the symptoms were a good indicator that the pregnancy was progressing well (although morning sickness doesn’t affect everyone). The downside is having to deal with an unprecedented fatigue and constant nausea (although fortunately not actual sickness), the combination of which I can only equate to constantly feeling hungover and sensing that everything would be okay if you could just be left alone to lie very still in a cool dark room.

Dealing with these unpleasant early symptoms of pregnancy when you can’t tell anyone definitely makes for a challenge in the work environment. I know a lot of women have it a lot worse than me, but I cannot emphasise enough the hell that is trying to pretend everything is business as usual when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and wish everyone and everything would just go away.

I was fortunate at least that I could somewhat disguise my symptoms as being generally run down at a time of year when the combination of bad weather and end of year exhaustion makes lingering colds commonplace. But I felt this way for the entirety of December. Every time my officemate would leave the room I would allow myself a visible grimace as I let fall the mask of pretending I’m just mildly under the weather.

I have spent many years vocally berating the lack of acceptability of afternoon naps, so colleagues in my immediate vicinity were already aware that I tend to flag a bit mid-afternoons but the exhaustion of growing a life-force sucking potato inside me was a whole new level of fatigue.

From 3pm onwards, with nowhere to nap, I could barely keep my eyes open and by 5pm I was resembling a zombie whose shambling stumbly purpose was a quest for energy rather than brains. Except sources of energy were pretty limited. I’ve never been a massive coffee drinker and I know from personal experience that energy drinks are the devil incarbonated.

Normally I’d revert to tea but I had discovered an inexplicable absence of desire for tea, which might not seem entirely odd if you didn’t know that even by British people standards I’m a tea addict and would routinely drink anywhere between 6-10 cups a day. I recall opening the cupboard at work where the tea supplies are stored and staring at them for a good five minutes, thinking I desperately want something but also I can’t drink any of these. I’d occasionally settle for just getting a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and surreptitious trying to rest it on my aching belly without anyone noticing.

Just to keep me going until I could get home and have a nap before dinner, I’d resort to one of two options: either gulping down a strong black coffee with too much sugar or sneaking off to the office of an absence colleague and settling in for a 20 minute power nap, hoping a) no-one would notice I wasn’t at my desk and b) no-one would find me drooling on the floor of someone else’s office.

Another challenge was trying to hide my less than impeccable diet of salted tortilla chips, dried fruit and nuts and occasional yoghurt from co-workers. And yes, I know this isn’t the most wholesome combination, but diet options when you feel completely hungover all the time are somewhat limited. I would try to eat something more nutritious in the evenings but this was a challenge I just couldn’t face during the working day.

I am lucky in that I can occasionally work from home and during that time, as my boss was working from abroad, I could take a day or two a week to work in the comfort of my PJs, with a hot water bottle clutched to my stomach and no need to hide my misery face except for the odd Skype call.

About seven weeks into the pregnancy we took a trip to Venice. We had planned the trip long before the pregnancy drama, in an exuberant splurge on easyjet sale flights a few months previously. The sale coincided with the happy realisation that since crossing the border to live in France as Frontaliers our finances had improved to the extent we could finally benefit from one of the main selling points of Geneva: the ease of which you could leave it to go to other places for a weekend away!

We had been to Venice before as part of a day trip from a Lake Garda holiday many moons ago (our first actual holiday away together). We had been looking forward to the opportunity for a more leisurely sampling of Venetian delights, but as the trip approached, in my new condition, the enthusiasm we’d initially had was definitely waning. Had we not already paid for everything we wouldn’t have gone. Even having paid for everything I was in two minds about going.

In hindsight I wouldn’t have booked the trip knowing I’d be pregnant but actually Venice was a good destination to not feel great in. Our hotel was fairly centrally located which meant we could foray out in one direction for an hour or so, scope out the sights of that little neighbourhood and then be back in time for me to enjoy waves of nausea or just a nap that the small amount of exertion would in no way warrant if it weren’t for the tiny energy vampire dwelling within. Having seen the main tourist sites on our previous visit we also didn’t feel pressured to do anything in particular so the exploratory forays suited us quite well.

We were definitely glad we’d gone though when the realisation dawned on us that such random adventuring would no longer be an easy option when the potato finally makes its appearance. That in fact all life’s previously easy options would become a memory as hazy as the fog that engulfed Venice that December weekend.

Ten reasons British people don’t make sense

Standard

1. We will rarely tell you an outright no or explain we don’t want to do something. To do so would be considered impolite, so instead we might say ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’ or ‘we’ll see’. These are all British ways of saying ‘no’.

2. We will apologise for everything, even things that aren’t our fault like someone stepping on our foot. We will say ‘sorry’ but actually mean ‘die in hell you foot-stomping fiend!’

3. We have a deep-rooted superiority complex but it can be hard to tell because we spend so much time apologising for being British. We may be fiercely nationalistic but would never admit it, and if anyone does admit it the rest of us will assume that person is probably racist!

4. We get really upset by the idea that foreigners think British food is so terrible. We have great restaurants and culinary offerings in the UK. We introduced the world to sandwiches, pies, fish and chips and make awesome roast dinners. Not to mention deep-fried mars bars, actually we probably shouldn’t mention deep fried mars bars, I don’t think they help our image. Aside from these traditional offerings we have also some great culinary interpretations and fusions of other nations’ national dishes, the UK has some truly amazing restaurants. I will accept criticism from Italians (whose inventions make up about 80% of my regular diet) and the French (because they are so precious about food that although its hard to think of amazing French dishes off the top of your head, it’s probably not worth arguing about). I will not accept criticism from Americans (hamburgers, tasty but unvaried), Swiss (all national dishes are combinations of cheese and potatoes, again tasty but hardly inspiring) or any other European nation.

5. British people don’t like ‘z’s’ very much. I’d like to apologise to my American spellcheck for thinking I am misspelling ‘apologise’ by not using a ‘z’ but I won’t use a ‘z’ because my spellcheck is wrong and I’m right.

6. We pretend to be interested in things we aren’t. We may give the impression we are fascinated in your experiences at your model road sign club (no offence model road-signers) or on your latest pirate-spotting cruise off the coasts of Somalia. Our false enthusiasm my in fact be so convincing you could be forgiven for thinking we actually mean it and are not only interested but want to join the model road sign club or book our own pirate cruise. If we are genuine we will ask you point blank ‘can I join your road sign club?’ If we say, things like ‘wow, that sounds really interesting, how would I go about joining a model road-sign club?’, we don’t mean it. This is just politeness/a ruse to keep you talking so that we can zone out and think about more interesting things like the best way to create your own zombie make-up out of some toilet tissue and PVA glue.

7. We pretend to be interested in people we aren’t. For example we may meet someone briefly at a partner’s work event and they invite us to be their friend on Facebook, which we politely accept. They may send us the occasional message, we will politely respond to and this may provoke further conversation. They may suggest meeting for a coffee and we will reply ‘maybe’, meaning ‘no’. Mostly we are thinking, why is this person still talking to me? If I’d known they meant to establish a genuine connection I’d have pretended to have a seizure when they first asked me to pass the twiglets.

8. We aren’t great at expressing ourselves. The standard response to the question ‘how are you?’ will invariably be ‘I’m fine’. It will be the same reply if we happen to be on fire whilst fighting off a zombie hoard and suffering from a cold, which may or may not be the first symptom of something turning us into a flesh-eating virus. Similarly you’d get the same response if we have just opened the door to discover the entire apartment is filled with free chocolate and cash.

9. We aren’t great at small talk and have a tendency to talk about the weather far more than can ever be necessary. We say banal things like ‘it’s a bit grey outside’, which anyone with eyes has probably already noticed. It’s about as interesting and as easy to initiate a conversation as saying ‘I have a nose attached to my face’.

10. We are still rather attached to the archaic idea of our Monarchy, even if we are a bit embarrassed about this and can’t provide any logical reasons whatsoever as to why we should still have, and continue to encourage former colonies to have, a Queen. She does have a lovely sparkly crown though. Shiny.

 

Ten reasons blogging is bad for your health

Standard

1. Everyone knows only narcissistic types that give too much importance to their own views write blogs. So if you write a blog that must mean you are one of those people and if you tell people you write a blog then that means they know that you are one of those people too.

2. You might think you are being original but actually when you are staring at a blank computer screen you’ll find yourself skimming through thousands of other seemingly original blogs to either outright steal their ideas or at least use them as a trampoline to your own inspired ramblings. For example: this post is ripped-off from inspired by AOpinionatedMan’s ‘why my blog sucks’.

3. It’s easy to treat blogging as an online journal type thing, except the beauty of old-fashioned book type journals is that no-one else reads them. On a blog you might accidentally let slip all sorts of secrets and weird aspects of your personality, such as strange zombie imaginings, for anyone to see.

4. There are already so many great ways to waste your time (like reading, watching tv, endlessly Facebook stalking old school friends) blogging is just another excuse to go to bed later than you should do and to waste free time that could be spent on more productive things (like cultivating understand through literature, catching up on relevant popular culture through visual medium and investing time in becoming reacquainted with the lives of old friends).

5. Most bloggers aspire to have a popular blog read by more people than their mum, and want to feel the ego boost of being loved and admired far and wide. However if your blog does actually become popular then you can become a target for jealous angry types (who I understand have brightly coloured hair and live under bridges) who might tell you you aren’t as wonderful as you think and may even use mean words to try and hurt your feelings.

6. Blogging is the ultimate delusion. We’ve all heard stories of people who started blogs and now get millions of pounds a year on the back of their humorous wit and whatnot, but thinking this might happen to you is as unrealistic as dreaming that you are distantly related to a rich prince of a made up country like Liechtenstein, who will die and leave their country, castle and ridiculous wealth to you, because somehow they like you more than any other distant family member (maybe they are a fan of your blog).

7. Blogs give you a platform to talk about anything you want, but some things you don’t need to talk about. Seriously who wants to read about when you are feeling sick, worrying about getting old and the fact you like to eat weird shit?

8. Starting a blog is a bit like buying a pony on a whim. You think blogging will be a fun diversion from stresses and strains of everyday living but before you know it you are devoting more time and energy than you have to spare to this thing you have created and find yourself regularly questioning whether you shouldn’t have thought the whole idea through before just jumping in.

9. It’s easy to blog, so easy that there are millions of us doing this. So many in fact (of the probable-but-in-no-way-substantiated-by-actual-evidence kind of fact), that if you asked every blogger to hold hands there’d be enough of you to circle the globe 300 times over.

10. There is so much blogging advice out there (you shouldn’t write lists, lists are popular, you should only write posts of less than 300 words, if your blog isn’t at least 2000 words no-one will read it, you should post at least every day, you shouldn’t post more than twice a week, etc. and contradictory etc.) that if you try to follow all this you will develop mental health problems.

Ten reasons I’m glad I’m not a zombie

Standard

(…even if I sometimes feel like one)

This is an Easter inspired post, no really, you know, the whole rising from the dead thing that Jesus had mastered, as reinterpreted through popular media into the whole living dead franchise! (Definitely less tenuous a link than comparing the eclipse and Bonnie Tyler)

1. It’s possible Zombies aren’t a real thing, and that if I were dead that would actually be it.

2. I’m not convinced that human flesh and braaiiinnnsss in particular are all that tasty. It seems sad to lose my carefully developed appreciation of fine culinary experiences like melted cheese and potatoes (here’s to you Swiss cuisine), fiancé-made ginger Mojitos and best of all warm salty popcorn and Galaxy Minstrels combined (do not knock it until you’ve tried it)!

3. It sounds pretty frustrating, we all know Zombies tend to lose much in the way of brain function when they come back to life. Some might say that’s a fair trade off, chance to live again versus decreased intelligence, and there’s definitely truth to the old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’. However, it’s got to be a bit annoying that when there is a nice tasty human hiding in a nearby room, you can’t get at them by just simply using the handle to open the door but instead are forced to smash a window and potentially hurt yourself just for a bite.

4. It seems a shame that rather than loved ones being all excited to see me again after my untimely demise, they instead rush to bash my head in with old records, cricket bats and tubes of metal piping (where do people find those anyway?).

5. If you were one of the first Zombies it’d be cool and novel and trendsetting but then as everyone starts copying you, you’d move from minority to majority and then be less unique and special and no-one would know whether you were one of the originals or a copycat and would continue to try to destroy your brains without giving you any credit for originality.

6. Communication will be so much more difficult when your vocabulary is limited to a range of moans and groans. Future blog posts would be limited to things like ‘grooaann GRRooaaaaaannnnnnn, groan, groANnnn’ and that’d probably be a bit tedious and lose me readers.

7. Personal hygiene really goes out the window. I’ll admit I like the odd day where I don’t have a shower and might bum around in PJs for an entire day every now and then but I really don’t want the whole rotten flesh stench following me around all the time. I’m not sure that even Febreeze could hide that.

8. It sounds quite exhausting, constantly on the move searching for food, having to tear open people to get at their yummy intestines. You never see Zombies sleeping or going out to a nice restaurant where people just bring the food to you, do you?

9. You are constantly being judged negatively. With very few exceptions (not discounting Nicholas Hoult winner ‘Warm Bodies’) zombies are generally cast as the bad guy and no-one living is prepared to give them the time of day (except psychopathic children in The Walking Dead but they aren’t the best endorsers).

10. I’m afraid I might try to eat my cats, which would make me feel bad. Eating the fiancé and other friends and family would be quite bad but trying to munch on the four-legged fluff monsters would be a travesty!

For more Zombie related blogging you can check out my post ‘The zombie wedding I wasn’t allowed to have‘, if you want to.

The zombie wedding I wasn’t allowed to have

Standard

The engagement and wedding fever

In September 2013 my partner finally gave into familial and societal pressure and after six years together he decided to put an end to my wandering ways, came out to join me at the end of a financially-insensible, three-month, unpaid internship in Cambodia and proposed.

He tells the story slightly differently, something about a romantic setting at one of the wonders of the world (Angkor Wat in Cambodia) blah-de-blah…*

We returned to the UK together: him, one box of jeweled anxiety lighter and me, one bit of bling heavier.

I thought we might be allowed a teeny amount of time to revel in our new found enfiancededyness (should totally be a word) and bask in the happiness of knowing our friends and family can relax and enjoy our betrothal.

However, it turns out that isn’t what happens once you get engaged. What happens is that all that pent-up longing to see us get engaged mutates into a monstrous level of excitement about all things weddingy. Within a week of return I must have been asked approximately 10,000 times when, where and how the wedding was going to take place and who would be invited.

Finding it a bit overwhelming I enlisted the help of some avowed wedding-unenthusiast friends who helpfully suggested a strategy to combat marriage fever. I was to come up with as many ridiculous wedding plans as possible until people got so frightened I was serious they stopped asking me about it.

Of the unsuitable wedding ideas considered, the zombie theme was undoubtedly my favourite and I put a lot of thought into the details to make it convincing.

The zombie wedding plans

Zombie weddingThere would be utilitarian themed wedding invites scraped together from the kind of bits of cardboard you’d find breezing around an apocalyptic London where no-one has time to go to Paperchase anymore.

These would include the necessary logistical information but also references to the need to band together to increase our chances of survival.

I envisaged the wedding itself as a fairly non-eventful affair except that at the part when the Priest invites anyone to declare any reason why we couldn’t get married some ‘zombies’ would bang loudly on the church door and groan.

The service would conclude and guests would be carefully chaperoned to the wedding reception venue by Shaun of the Dead inspired groomsmen armed with cricket bats and old records.

Serving staff would already be undead (I was thinking actors, students or some other bunch of reprobates) with chains to limit their movement. You can take a drink but would have to try not to let them bite you.

For our wedding breakfast we could have provided packets of Wotsits, tins of cold baked beans, mouldy cheese, beer cans and other larder items scavenged from deserted houses. Decorations could have been paperchains fashioned out of blood spattered old newspapers and stubs of candles in old wine bottles would have provided suitable Armageddon-esque romantic lighting. All in keeping with the concept, and cost-effective too.

Rather than the usual party games for tables of strangers, guests would be provided with scrappy pencils and recycled paper and asked to plan their escape from the reception to a nearby safehouse and there’d be a competition to come up with the most inventive way of killing zombies with only the contents of the room available to them.

Photos would have been in two stages. Initially guests in their nice outfits and looking their best. Then we’d have had a face painter whose job would be to gradually transform guests into zombies. Later, another round of photos and if guests happened to be drunk and covered in Wotsit dust by this time then so much the better.

By the end of the night I imagined everyone having been bitten and transformed into a zombie so that party time could be everyone dancing to Thriller on repeat, drinking brain cocktails, eating cake shaped like a decomposing body and occasionally shouting out ‘brains’ to make the zombie bride and groom try to eat each other.

The reaction

My dad, reasonably confident I was joking, entered into the spirit of my zombie wedding idea and at an engagement party took great pleasure in sharing plans with aunts and uncles. He was pretty convincing and the measured looks on their faces as they tried to weigh horror at such an idea against likelihood it was a joke was highly entertaining. Except for Grandma who accepted the concept without question, laughed that she wouldn’t have to dress up and promptly settled herself into an armchair with a glass of sherry.

I got so carried away with the idea of my joke wedding that I managed to convince myself that any alternative would be a disappointment. When it became apparent it was less of a joke than it had initially seemed I received strong feedback from people, fiancé included, that an undead wedding really wasn’t a great idea.

I realized I could maturely respond to wedding excitement had two options:

1) I could find a new fiancé, friends and family that might be onboard with the wedding/judgement day of my imagination.

2) If I wasn’t allowed that wedding I’d have to engineer a situation whereby any wedding seemed wholly unfeasible.

I chose option number two, moved to Geneva and made the poor fella quit his job and follow me to one of the most expensive cities in Europe where we couldn’t afford a wedding (zombie or otherwise) even if we wanted to.**

How d’you like them (rotten) apples, eh?

 


*This is a good test to see if the fiancé actually reads my blog or just pretends to and if he does read it how much trouble I will get in for writing this!
**Please note I may or may not have moved to Geneva for reasons other than avoiding/stalling my own wedding