Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How Housework Saved My Life - II

NB, this post has turned into a bit more of a blurt. Housework really did save my life! More on that in the next post. This one is about why my life needed saving in the first place. 

Sadly no longer available from bloom-bloom
Hopefully these blogposts will not be like the Rocky films and I will not be returning aged and unsuited to the role for How Housework Saved My Life part 59. Oh! I am aged already, so no danger of that, LOL. Unless they do How Housework Saved My Life, Return from the Grave Special Horror Edition, LOL.

The Apron Store
Okay, today I am a bit OMG! and li'l tears in the big brown eyes (that's behind the annoyingly sexy new reading glasses), cuz I acksherly did a bit of academic reading. For years and years, people said to the MILF: "You ditz. Why are you not writing academic papers?" and the MILF went, "Oh gosh, what a ditz I am, I am prolly not worthy of a proper job, better stick with the cleaning which I do so badly but in a really fetching apron."

Then a couple of years ago I started to think about things that had happened which might possibly have meant I did not really have the wherewithal to write academic papers and I said: "Just a minute. I think you could have given me a bit of a break here, lads. If you do not wish to give me a job cuz I am not doing academic writing, fine, but do not make me feel like a silly woman about it."

(I ought to explain that if they are recruiting someone to teach in a proper academic institution, they of course ask about their teaching experience but they acksherly only care whether they have got academic publications. They will take a spotty kid with no teaching experience or discernible ability at all if the kid has got enough publications to get into the Research Excellence Framework. This is for complicated reasons which are not sexy; ask me about them another time if you are really interested.)

This is what I was doing:
    Pic from Tough Pigs Anthology
  • I brought up Piglet from the intensive period of constant nappy changing and breast feeding to today, when she can go to several after school activities teaching her how to do Scottish and Jewish dancing, cook burritas and karate chop her way out of trouble, and now that she does all that instead of me needing to literally hold her up all the time so she can walk, mysteriously I have got time to read academic articles. (NB you cannot write academic articles if you do not read other academic articles which you write about.)
  • I taught, sometimes several courses at once, and wrote lectures instead of academic papers - in order to bring money into the home and pay for our food while the Baron paid for the mortgage. (Recently money for food has mysteriously become available from his high salary but at the time I was teaching I did think we would starve without my writing the lectures till 2 am, then getting up at 7 to make breakfast before going to teach my lectures.)
  • I just want to restate the above from the point of view of the lads who did not give me a permanent job. I taught, sometimes several courses at once, picking up at the last minute and managing in a thoroughly professional manner, a wide range of teaching when other lecturers on full time permanent contracts went off on the sick. I did this for a very low salary, never making trouble and often undertaking additional research activity as well. I did not get a job although I did this for five years in different academic institutions in the area and sometimes my colleagues even wrote to say: "Please do not sack the MILF cuz she work so hard she makes our lives much easier," but the management Knew Better.
  • I moved house, like, four times. I do not say 'we' moved house, cuz I do not use the Royal 'we'; I am a Republican. I once moved house on a weekend when the Baron was away at a conference, and I was grateful cuz it meant he paid for people to pack the house instead of insisting we try to do it ourselves. (The less expensive firm he selected over the more expensive one I wanted stole some of his DVDs.) 
  • Every time I moved house, I also found schools, childminders, new friends to come round to tea with Piglet, suitable food shops, plumbers, electricians and assorted other builders, some of whom made passes at me and others just stood in my kitchen giggling softly although they did make a nice job of the back step, I will give them that. 
  • At a crucial time in these moves, when I had some income from a job while I was on sabbatical and meant to take time out to write academic articles, I had two miscarriages. I was told that this would be rather like having a bad period. It wasn't. I don't know about you, but I am incapable of writing an academic paper while lying on a sofa bleeding heavily and feeling a bit sad cuz although I did not plan to fall pregnant and it would only have led to more delays in my getting back into my career, I kinda would have been happy to have another couple of babies. It took me quite a while to get physically fit again, even longer cuz I was running about keeping the house and home clean and cooking meals, making sure the little Piglet remained healthy and happy, and teaching many courses so as to pay for the food.
  • (Those are my snoozing legs
    the kitten is snoozing on, LOL.) 
    My sleep was continuously interrupted for five years and I am still frequently woken up in the night by someone small claiming that they had a bad dream. Three times in the same night. I think it is only this week that I have actually started to feel like I had some rest and have got a bit of energy cuz I have taken to putting The Hobbit on and dozing in an armchair while Piglet is at football or violin lessons. (Mmmm, Thorin Oakenshield :devil: zzzzzz.) 
  • As you know, dahlinks, I had no help worthy of the name around the house. I have cooked between two and five meals every day for years. (I mean cooked, not put some bits of bread and cold meat together.) Every day I have picked things up and put them away, I have slowly trained Piglet into picking things up and putting them away, to the tune of an underlying manly chorus going: "This house is a tip, this house is a tip. I work so hard, this house is a tip." (Yesterday I picked up half a mouse, euurggggh. Today I picked up a poo; not out of the litter tray, ickickick.) 
  • I spent huge amounts of time and energy sorting out my parents and the Outlaws when they got themselves into fine messes, making sure that their house got sold (my parents), they took on a package of appropriate carers and cleaners (Outlaws) and did not end up in court on a manslaughter charge for driving while on hallucinatory medication (Outlaw Dad). 
  • In return ... well, Outlaw Mom did quite a lot for me, and my brother recently came up with an unexpected helping hand but that has been pretty much it for the last decade in return for the three thousand four hundred and ninety-six cups of tea I have made (and phone calls to everyone from mortgage brokers to out of hours doctors).
Just to give you a flavour, this was one time I went over to help my parents. You think the MILF is a pretty busy lady now, well a day in my life back then will make the hairs on your head stand on end.

The Baron and I drove over with a teeny tiny toddling Piglet to pick up my Dad from the hospital where he had had a triple bypass operation. He was pretty grumpy the whole time but we said, "Pore ole thing, a triple bypass is a serious procedure, you must be v. uncomfortable, we will cook some nice food for you." The next day, I saw I was losing blood. I knew I was pregnant, I had had a previous miscarriage and so I tried to phone health helplines but they said, No, we cannot help you cuz you are in England, and we are a Welsh helpline, and the English helpline will say go to the doctor but you are nowhere near your doctor so dunno what you should do.  So I said to my Dad, "Sorry, ole thing, we are going to have to go back to Wales cuz I was pregnant but now it looks like there is a problem." "Oh dear," he said. "But could you just make me a beef sandwich before you go, and can you make sure that the beef is just so and that there is horseradish sauce on it? And you will sort this other thing out for me, won't you?" Well, I spent an hour on my feet, continuing to lose blood, making the sandwich just so and sorting out my Dad's tablets into a special pill box I had bought him, before I got in the car to drive all the way back to a house empty of food with a teeny tiny toddling Piglet in tow.

Now, the Baron is not exactly a domestic Angel but even he was a bit shocked at this carry-on, and frankly, although I do my best to go, La la la, he is hilarious! about my eccentric Dad, by his side the Baron looks like a hero of the Enlightenment wearing underpants over his trousers and bringing Truth Justice and the American way to people benighted beneath the rule of the despotic dictator Emperor Ming.

There we are. I am sure you can imagine me coming home to the house empty of food, bleeding and needing to get on the phone to health authorities who would hopefully talk to me as I was in the right country at last, but instead sitting down to write some interesting analysis of race politics in the postcolonial nation state.

About a year ago, I did start doing the naughty lady writing. So-o-o, I was thinking, If I can do some saucy naughty sexy writing, surely I can do the academic writing, I am clearly just my own worst enemy here, why don't I just do a paper.

Well, today, when I have managed to get back and read one article (and I prolly need to read about 40 before I can sit down and write my article, and perhaps a couple of books), I realise that this is just not the case. You can do a li'l sexy quickie, tossing off a FAWC story by getting up three or four mornings at six a.m. and cramming in half an hour of scribbling before you have to do the sausages for breakfast, make packed lunches and wake Piglet up to cram her into her neatly ironed school uniform. You cannot give a considered read to an article about the interplay of gender power relations and situational dynamics in research interviews ... oh, gosh, is that the time! better quickly put the sausages on, let me just read that final paragraph while I push them round the pan, oh I need to make a note, oh the sausages are burnt.

This academic year, Piglet suddenly hit an age when she could go to a number of after school activities, giving me a much longer day several times in the week. I could manage the running around the house in a fetching apron and still have a little time to myself. I also dumped a lot of stuff I used to do for the Baron, cuz I said: "Sorry, Piglet has to be fed in between school and synchronised swimming/cub scouts/straight after karate. You must get your own tea on Mondays/Wednesdays/ Thursdays."

There we are, dahlinks. I am going to write some academic papers. Everyone says if I am to get a proper job, that will be the way to do it but my main reason is, I have had these things running about my head like plot bunnies for years. If you think it's difficult having a sexy story about an alien housewife and some unusual body parts going round your head, just try ten years of mulling over a Foucauldian analysis of kinship and family in Muslim communities.

Post Scriptum: the very day I drafted this blurt, I started to feel poorly again. At first I was like, Oh it's stress and this is v. annoying, I have only just started reading some academic papers and now this. I cannot rely on the Baron so I got up early, made Piglet's packed lunch, did breakfast then did some cleaning so I could do something else. Then I realised that it is not just stress which is making me feel tired and washed out, I have acksherly lost a lot of blood this last month (do not ask how if you are not sure you want to know the answer! LOL, it is all Womanly Stuff, TMI, TMI) so no wonder I feel anaemic, I prolly am.

And I do feel very cross that I haven't got the energy to read FAWC stories today (hopefully over the weekend) and certainly not the powers of concentration required for an article by some bloke about a methodological question, but he has Got It All Wrong, I could write my article like this ... except that I feel too tired for some mysterious reason.

Yah, yah, I am going to the doctor! the proper one, not one like me who will just look at your leg with pleasure not an expert eye. I do not just tell cubs and kittens to do this, I sort it out myself too, LOL.

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