Monday, July 31, 2006

Post 100! Woo!

So this will be my one hundredth missive...so I thought I'd talk about something close to my heart.

Music.

Here, in no particular order, are 20 of my favourite songs at the current time.

1. "The Mercy Seat" - Johnny Cash. Just brilliant. Dark, well-written, poignant. A master at his best. Not at all like much of the cheese I revel in, but inspiring and moving nonetheless.

2. "Perfect" - Eliza Carthy. Poppy beautifulness, and wonderful lyrics.

3. "Like A Star" - Corinne Bailey Rae. I first heard this cut about a year ago, on Trevor Nelson's RnB show. I remember stopping what I was doing to just listen to the awesome voice flowing through the airwaves. Now she's a megastar, but this track reminds me of that whole 'wait a minute, this is something special' revelation.

4. "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" - Deathcab for Cutie. "Love of mine/ some day you will die." This song had me at hello. I just love it, in all it's alt-country-meets-emo-meets-solo-guitar-singer-songwriter-glory.

5. "Islands In The Stream" - Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. And I'd accrued so many cool points up to here, right? Nah, I love, love, love the Dolly and this track is my current fave (if you don't have her greatest hits, put it on your Christmas list...you need it in your life!).

6. "Glory Box" - Portishead. Restrained, longing, passionate, mildly threatening, with a killer central vocal and some amazing strings. This is cool Britannia at its most awesome.

7. "Never Forget" - Take That. Whereas this is the finest cheese the UK has to offer. Take That were an integral part of growing up female in the 90s - like them or loathe them they were always, intrinsically, inescapably there. Also, I went to see them last month and they were AWESOME. I screamed like a teenage girl, loud and long and proud!

8. "I'll Do Anything" - Courtney Love. Girl rawk! Yeah!

9. "It's About Time" - Jamie Cullum. It took me a fair old while to get into the hobbit of jazz, but I quite like him now. This song reminds me of an ex-crush, now off the scene - this was the song I had on repeat this Valentine's Day. The boy's gone from the daydreams but I still really like the song!

10. " Stardust" - Nat 'King' Cole. What a voice! Like velvetty chocolate claret. I adore this song, sad as it is!

11. "At My Most Beautiful" - R.E.M.. Another song vaguely attached to a boy memory, and once again the crush is in the annals of history, but the love of the song remains. The immediacy, the tenderness, the honesty. Just bliss.

12. "Get By" - Talib Kweli. One of my favourite rap tracks ever - the bassline is awesome, the sample's intense and you cannot help but move to this rhyme. Brilliant!

13. "Let's Get It On" - Marvin Gaye. "I've been really trying baby / Trying to hold back this feeling/ For so long"....love it.

14. "You Are What You Love" - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. From a truly great album, this is good, funky pop. The lyrics are fab, the production is tight, and it's really difficult to sing along to well (I always get lost mid-line!).

15. "Crossroads" - Don McClean. Another boy attached song (I used to crush hard in my younger days!). But now I just love its beauty, its longing, its honesty. How can you resist lyrics such as: "We've walked both sides of every street, through all kinds of windy weather, but that was never our defeat, as long as we could walk together. So there's no need for turning back, cause all roads lead to where we stand, and I believe we'll walk them all, no matter what we may have planned"? And then it ends with that minor section and the bare, hanging piano. Beautiful.

16. "Nothing" - Nikki Costa. Another amazing voice. A jazzy and soulful piece of heaven.

17. "Who Will Love Me As I Am?" from Side Show. I had to involve some musical theatre, huh? This is a beautiful love ballad. Sung by Siamese twins. I urge you to check out the soundtrack - really amazing!

18. "Your Game" - Will Young. Woo! Power pop!

19. "Trouble" - Ray LaMontagne. Another voice that knocked me flat! And anyone intelligent enough to have a Nickel Creek member on board for some of the tracks (Sara), has to have their stuff together :-).

20. "Independence Day" - Elliott Smith. I'm late to the Smith party, but the man is/was a genius!!

So, that's what is floating my musical boat right now....what's tickling your fancy?

Cxx

The reading list, pt 2!

So I went to the library to get some other reading material, and here are the spoils....

Confessions of an Ex-Girlfriend by Lynda Curnyn.

The Other Woman's Shoes by Adele Parks.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni.

The Guy Next Door by Meggin Cabot.

Little Children by Tom Perrotta.

Swallowing Grandma by Kate Long.

They all look pretty good and should keep me out of trouble!

Today has been, I'm pleased to report, pretty darn productive. Lots of chores done, 15 (15!) thank you cards made and mailed, a few cards for various bits and bobs written and ready to send, and a nice bimble up the street with Midimus. Then this evening I taught Minimus how to make my fajita recipe...and I am sat here full-up-as-can-be on the spoils. Mmmm, good cooking. Tomorrow looks to be equally busy, but I've got a real hankering to get my read on also. I love holidays!

Cxx

Getting down to the nitty-gritty

Ok, so this post is going to just be one of those brain leak ones. You know, the stream of conciousness ones where you just write and write and see what pours out onto the page. The theme of this post actually kept me awake for a good hour or so last night (part of me was annoyed at the lack of sleep - the other part of me was amused / perturbed / glad that I'd actually found something I could think that much about to write on. I mean, I'm sure you've all been enjoying the missives of random cleansing, book lists and photo ops., but I did start this blog because I wanted to write!).

My theme? My love life and why I'm single. Oh boy. Feel free to go grab a coffee, make sure you're in a comfy seat and let's get on with it.

The reason for this coming up, I'm sure, is the return to the homestead for summer vacation. I am having a wonderful time and am more relaxed than I thought I knew how to be, but being back in the place I spent my teens, often with the people I grew up with, raises many questions. And then we hit on the issue of question number 3. You know, you go for dinner / drinks / coffee and the three questions are:

1. How are you?
2. How's work?
3. So....any boyfriend? / How's your lovelife? When are we going to be reading about your wedding in the Gazzette? (Adjust for how well the person knows you, how long you've been friends, and the disposition of the interrogator!).

Questions 1 and 2? I have down. I am lucky enough to be pretty happy with my life, and comfortable enough to share my happiness without feeling the need to put myself down or apologise for it. I have a job I love, friends who I adore, a family I love, a cute little flat, a church to call home, and enough hobbies, interests and events to keep an average conversation well fed. Question 3? Is a different kettle of fish. I've been single for more or less the whole of my adult life. Yeah, you read that right the first time.

Now, in years past this really worried me. I went through the usual motions, the usual sleepless nights wondering....what's wrong with me? / why am I alone? / why don't I have a booooooooyfriiiiieeeeennnnnd? I dated, I went out, I spent time with guys. And.....no-one really grabbed me. No-one swept me off my feet - heck, no-one swept me even a couple of inches to the side! Time wore on, I went through all the phases (fear, worry, denial, desperation, hyper-self-suffiency, doubt, hyperactivy, the I'll-date-anyone-rather-than-be-alone phase), but with time I grew out of these and became (fairly) happy with my lot. I even got answers to my questions - there's nothing wrong with me. I'm not alone. And I don't have a boyfriend because I'm not at the right time and place in my life to have a boyfriend.

Oh no she didn't! Oh yes, I did. See the problem is, I've gotten greedy. I don't want to date a guy just because he checks some boxes on a silly internal checklist. I don't want to settle for someone just because I feel better not being on my own at social events. I don't want someone to go out with me and have them just holding out until a more attractive prospect presents itself (herself?).

No, no, no. I think I am worthy of more than that. I want someone to fall for me, to like me in that way, to want to make me a priority in his life, rather than just being content to be a priority in mine. I want someone to get excited when I walk into the room, to look forward to my calls, all that jazz. I've seen this in 101 couples, and it's something I want in my life. And I want to feel for him with exactly the same amount of passion and sureness.

Does this mean I'm condemned to end an old maid? I hope not. Ever since I was little I've dreamt of being a good wife and mother, and of giving my husband and children the kind of comfortable, loving, settled home I didn't always have as a child. And I still want that, more than I can actually describe. But. How does playing the dating game make this anymore a reality?

Chasing after guys who 'might' like me? Worrying about whether or not he'll call (he won't, he's not really that into me)? Wasting time with guys who will hurt me emotionally or physically or worse, putting up with lies and fear and doubt, letting some man put me down? It's just not worth it.

See, I believe I'm a good person. I think I'm growing and changing into the best person I can be. I believe I am infinitely loved by my Father in heaven, who I believe has nothing but the best planned for me. So why would I ever put up with the nonsense and pain I described in the last paragraph? I can't believe I did for so long!

You see, I think I deserve the whole shebang. I want someone to fall for the whole package. I want some to love me because of my flaws, not despite them (tough call, right). That means I want a man who understands that I need to be 'bossed' (but not put down), who gets that I love to chat and sing and help people, who understands that I can often be messy and scatterbrained, who likes that I can get lost in a book and not come out for hours, who wants me to bake cakes for him and take care of him, who finds my need for trash TV more amusing than irritating, who appreciates that I have a wide bunch of friends and acquaintances and loves them as I do for all they bring to my life.

Quite a tall order, huh? You are right. But wouldn't you rather sit there at 50, an old maid, and think "Wow, I'm glad I never settled for second best. I've had an awesome, full life and done so many things, and helped so many people, and achieved so much. I'm sad I never married or had children, but I'm so proud of what I have done." Rather than "Wow, I wish I hadn't wasted so much time worrying over men who didn't want me. I've had an awesome....(etc.)".

I want to get married. I want to have a family. But I only want this with someone who wants it also. In out society there are eleventy-million ways for a girl to finagle a man into marrying her, but that has never been and will never be my style. I believe that my God provides, and I have to believe that somewhere, right now, the man I meant to date and kiss and have three hour phone calls with, the man I want to marry - who wants to marry me - is getting up, or sleeping, or studying, or praying, or just being. Is he out there? Yes. Is he going to find me? I hope so. Am I willing to wait? Undoubtedly.

Maybe I already know him (hahaha, looooooong shot, I fear). Maybe he's thousands of miles away. I just know I'm thinking of him, and praying for him, and I can't wait until he sweeps into my life. I'm fine where I am just now, but bring on the fireworks!

Have a great day, everyone,

Cxx

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Just another laidback Sunday

I'm bathed, I'm scrubbed, I'm ready for bed. I have a venga-mug of hot chocolate and am in my snuggliest robe, blogging and watching The Truman Show on TV. La vita e bella, right?

It's been a nice Sunday. I was up early enough (and late enough) to have breakfast with my whole family, which is always a treat. Then I went to church. When I'm up here during breaks I go to the Lighthouse church, which is really growing and thriving, it's lovely to see how it's getting on. I took my brother along also...and he had a good time! Hallelujah! Please, if you're of the Christian persuasion, keep him in your prayers - I am really hoping for him to find purpose and drive in his life. He is so capable and clever and full of potential...if only he'd realise it! Baby steps just now, but I'm glad he had a good time.

The afternoon was napping, reading, hitting some forums and watching a few episodes of Scrubs. Hey, when I do lazy, I reeeeaaally commit. And then this evening it's been blog and bath and family time.

And now we're launching into another week. And much to my chagrin, it's time for me to be getting on with the list of tasks I wrote for myself at the start of summer vacation - all the planning, class prep., research, reports, and thank you notes.... I am going to be very grown up and mature and do a little each day, rather than being sat there in two weeks time shouting "Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!" at my laptop and having a nervous breakdown.

Woo! Organisation! I'm such a loser!

Cxx

The reading list...pt I!

So, with all this 'spare time' I've been trying to get back into my reading:

Already done:

I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson. Some people love Clarkson, others hate him with a passion! Whether I agree with his p.o.v. or not, his columns in the Sunday Times always make me think, and I love his prose, so I thought I'd give this a go. And it's brilliant! I recommend.

Hard Work by Polly Toynbee. This book examines how hard it is to exist in the bottom 10% of Britain's economy. Very well-written and researched, thought-provoking, and really made me appreciate my rather cushy middle-class life!

Currently processing:

Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. This is a reread, but I always enjoy this book. I am a cheesey optimist as you all know - this book helps me to remember how wonderful humans can be!

Another Long Hot Soak by Chris Gidney (ed.). Yeah, it's a feelgood fest here at the moment!

To follow:

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. The book that inspired Hard Work.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens. I read somewhere that everyone has at least one book on their shelf that they were meant to have read in college and they never did - this is mine!

The Beauty Myth byNaomi Wolf. I have read this before, but I think I need to go through it again. Compelling, if flawed.

Everybody's Normal Till You Get To Know Them by John Ortberg. I like his stuff that I've encountered so far, so I'm excited to read this.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A reread of a classic.

I'm also going to hit the library and buy a couple of chicklit titles from Tescos (3.73 each! Viva value!)...I'll add them to the list, and the pile, as and when!

Cxx

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The fabulous life of me....

...or how to take pleasure in the little things.

It's a rainy dreary Saturday here, in a really good way! After the high temps of the last few weeks it's so nice to be cool and feel refreshed. We are all having a lovely chilled day as a famille, which is nice - busy with our own things but seeing plenty of one another also.

The day began well when the mailman brought a package from the gorgeous Cat (thank you sweetie) - it's my belated birthday and Christmas gifts (organisation not being Cat's strong suit!). I got an awesome Australia footy tee, a Rebecca St James CD and some 'Roo Poo' (chocolate covered peanuts, haha). Fab!

Then, after a lazy brekkie I jumped in the shower (I love my shower gel, btw! Molton Brown's Grapeseed - so refreshing and rejuvenating) before another driving lesson. It was fun - we drove all the way along the coast, then attacked some busy, busy roundabouts in Elgin, then did some manouveres...a very productive 90 minutes. I cannot get over how comfortable I am feeling behind the wheel! Can I pass my test August 18th? I don't know, but keep me in your prayers...it could happen!

After that, back to the homestead, then I told Marmee I'd do the big shop for her this week. As I'm pretty much the catering manager round here it seemed sensible. Bought all the necessaries, plus some treats! I got Charlotte Church's album for 4.50 (bargain!) and splashed out on some chocolate and a chickflick DVD for sis and I to share tonight - we're gonna have a girls night in, complete with gossip, PJs and me straightening her hair (which is waistlength...it's going to take for..e.....ver!).

Right, better go to cook dinner....hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

Cxx

Friday, July 28, 2006

Running aground on Boredom Island

Aha. The day has come.

What day? I hear you cry.

The day that being on vacation really starts to bite. It's OK, this too shall pass, but like most seasons in life, it arrives, sure enough. Now this doesn't tend to happen when you actually go away somewhere. No sirree. Give me ten days in North Carolina, a week in Paris, a weekend in Edinburgh and I am far too busy having a good time to be bored....

....no, but when you strand yourself in deepest, darkest Scotland, living with your family, that's when the day of doom is sure to rear its ugly head.

Now, I love my family. They are odd and quirky as you like, but they're good people, you know? We don't always see eye to eye but we can agree to differ and all get on well. Ditto my hometown. Sure, it's kind of a dive, but it's also pretty in places, near a beach and the place my family have chosen to settle, so I can deal with it just fine.

However, this does not stop the boredom. The contrast is hellish - for most of the year I'm going heck for leather; busy, busy, busy; fun a go go; and now? Not so much. Now, it's great catching up with friends. It's awesome chilling with my family. I'm even enjoying the driving lessons. And heaven knows having some free time is cool as. But I just can't take this level of inertia. Watching MTV and reading and doing forums is great...but only for a few days. I can feel my brain hibernating...and I don't like that.

So tomorrow the fightback begins. I'm gonna ration my net and TV time (yes, I'm aware I now sound like my mother when I was a teenager). I'm going to hit the library. I'm going to take some swims. I'm going to hit the beach, take some photos, work on some recipes, finish the darn thank yous, and, in short, start having a bit more to do.

Operation holiday boredom fightback starts here, people!

Cxx

Photogeekness





Goofy, moi? I can't think of anything to write just now....so here are some geektacular photos, taken by the kids I teach, to fill the gap!

Cxx


Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, Monday

Gosh, can you believe it's Monday already? And my quest for laziness appears to be carrying on unabated. The joys of being at home chez mes parents, oui? I have stuff I need to be doing, but I just feel kind of divorced from my actual life. Being at home just takes me back all too vividly to my teenhood - which is not necessarily a bad thing; just an odd thing.

(To give you an idea of how lazy I'm being....it's 1.30 and I haven't had breakfast yet. Slothful, huh? But here I am, blogging with half an eye on the TV - the 1940s version of Little Women is playing. So far, so tacky, but it's extremely faithful to the text. I realised the other day that I have read Little Women over 200 times. Wow, I am an Alcott fan).

The weekend plodded on quite nicely. I met up with Jenna and her partner, Ni for coffee and chat in Forres and caught up well and truly. Jenna and I realised that we hadn't spoken properly since....1999! The perils of being slightly perturbed by your hometown.

Saturday evening was curry and karafes of wine in honour of Sam's birthday (welcome to the quarter century club, honey!). Good chat, nice to see everyone, blah, blah fishcakes.

Yesterday morning was yet. another. driving. lesson. It's all starting to get there though, which is awesome. Another one this evening. Then yesterday was cake and chat as it was Sianja's birthday. My wee sister is twenty-one!!

Wow, this has been such a bland and perfunctory entry. My apologies - I'll try and conjure up some comedy, doom, poetry or rambling for next time....

Cxx

Thursday, July 20, 2006

North of the border

So here I am, "home" at last, in my family home here in Scotland. It is good, but weird, to be back, but nice to be seeing the family again.

Equally nice is the amount of downtime - time for nice long chats, time to return all the emails and letters I owe, time to go for nice long walks, time to watch TV and read and chill and work on stuff for next year. I am also learning to love the utter cheesiness of Freeview (bad videos filled with hos! Oprah! Scrubs twice a day!) and watching it with my snarky siblings.

Yesterday I had my first driving lesson - it went OK actually, and I get to do it in a sweet-ass Mini. Result. I have a two hour lesson tomorrow which I think may be a little traumatic though. I'd just love to be able to drive!

Both S and P are jobhunting - cue me re-writing their CVs for them (oooh, lifeskill!) and tryng to help them. I can't really get a proper job ("uh, yeah, I'm leaving town in a month" doesn't tend to cut it!), but have put some flyers out for babysitting - I hope I get some jobs. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow it's town (I'm taking S and P to help them find hobbies - I'm all about the big sister vibe this week!), then driving, then groceries, then dinner (I'm making fajitas with all the trimmings - yeeeeah). At the weekend I think I'm going out in Elgin with the girls. Should be interesting - I've never been out there.

Right, bedtime. It's 11.20. Lord bless vacation!
Cxx

(shamelessly X-posted on bebo, myspace and my 'real' blog)

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