The Past Week (and the Books I've Read)
I feel like I should warn you that all of my April outtakes so far are pictures of Polly basking.
If you follow me on Twitter, you will already know that the only souvenir I brought home from Paris was gastroenteritis. A particularly vicious dose which, a week on, still has me grabbing my stomach and getting out of breath if I walk across the flat and tossing and turning all night with an acid reflux cough. Nice.
But I am on the mend.
A long, long time ago now, I had pneumonia. I was ill for what felt like forever. A couple of months, anyway, and then I had a phased return to work. All because of a bit of damp and some air freshener. Seriously, folks, just clean up your mess and open your windows!
So: I had been very ill and, once the worst of it was past, my GP told me to start leaving the house each afternoon and walking just a little bit further than the day before. The first day, I made it to the garden gate. The second day, I made it to the end of the road. The third day, I made it to the shop around the corner. So it went on.
Well, I'm nowhere near that sick at the moment but I still think the theory is sound. I don't want work to come as a total shock to the system on Monday. So, for the last few days, I've been trying to do a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more.
On Sunday, I did the dishes. On Monday, I put proper clothes on and framed some photos. Today, I went to the bakery and tidied some shelves and gifted some fabric scraps to a woman on Freecycle.
But mostly I've been sitting around reading (and sleeping. Let's not forget the sleeping).
I've read A Tale for the Time Being and Life After Life and Affinity and they were all pretty decent. And I've reread Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown .
I almost never reread books. I know this about myself; I find it easy to give them away once I'm done because I know I'm not going to return to them. There are too many new ones to get through; who has time for repeats?
But I loved Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown when I first read it in 2008 and I knew it was one to hang on to.
The book is the author's account of spending a year in therapy. At the start of the book, the author is a successful journalist with a close family, good friends and a pretty cocky attitude - but she's involved in an unhealthy relationship and keeps bursting into tears for no apparent reason. Despite this, she's convinced she doesn't need any help; twelve months later, she's changed her mind.
The first time I read the book, I wanted to buy copies for just about every woman - and most of the men - I know. So much of it is familiar - the games people play with themselves and their partners; the unhealthy attitudes towards careers and relationships; the shaky self belief and doubts about our abilities. I loved it. I have no doubt that I was emotionally healthier for reading it (and that that led to me leaving a well paid but insanely tedious procurement job to re-start my creative career).
I'm in a much happier place in my life now than I was in 2008. Much happier. But, second time around, I still feel like I got a huge amount of it and I still feel like I want to give copies to everyone I know.
Well, I can't afford to do that. So I'm doing the next best thing and blogging about it instead. Let me know what you make of it.