Saturday, 7 January 2012



Dunno why I'm here really, just that I was reminded that I haven't been here for a while. It's weird though, I feel very little drive to write these days. I keep thinking vaguely that maybe I could write some blog posts, but then I dash off a brief tweet and that seems to be enough. I have faint ideas about writing novels too, but they never last. The fact is I'm now working full time, and I only ever wrote novels when I was working a 4 day week or less, so that I had whole days free for writing. And for most of the time, I only had one child.

Writing is something I will do again, but not yet.

For the moment, I'm just enjoying not being a teacher. I have more spare time than when I was a teacher, but not a lot in the grand scheme of things. It still feels like an incredible luxury that I have time at the end of every day that is for ME, but it's at the end of a full-time-working-mum day, and I mostly want to spend it either watching telly or reading books. I'm reading more books than I have read for years - approximately one a week, and this is compared to - at times - one a year.

It dawned on me recently that I have never before been a full-time-working-5-days-a-week mother of two: I have only ever been a full-time-working-4-days-a-week mother of one.

That's rubbish, of course: when I was a teacher, I was a full-time-working-5-days-a-week mother of two, and how. But that was just some altered dimension when I only got 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night and I was sleep-walking through this strange unending torture because I believed there was no escape. So, now I find myself with a full-on busy life with few breaks, but it feels like a warm bath compared to my life before. What I feel is an amazing contentment.

I have a history of pushing forward to some invisible future where everything will be all right, and of course it never arrives. I have always had thoughts along the lines of "If only I can get this thing sorted, then everything will be all right."

Towards the end of my teaching career, I started looking for other jobs and thinking, "If only I could have the kind of job where you go to the office in the morning, you do difficult but predictable stuff all day, you think hard and organise stuff but you don't have to make anybody else do stuff, and then you come home and forget all about it until the following day... then everything would be all right."

And here I am, and everything IS all right. I really rather love my new job, and that's a bit of a surprise. I stopped being a software engineer a few years ago and had no desire to return after being made redundant and having a baby and being a full time writer and generally having a couple of years away from it all. I'd run out of software-engineering steam, and I realise now that the company I was working for had become a really bad match for me. But now I'm doing it properly, which means I'm being a geek and cramming as much new knowledge I can fit into my head, and loving every minute. There's a fantastic culture at my new workplace, where you're encouraged to ask questions and nobody minds taking time out to come and explain things to you in detail.

So there's that, and the mothering, and not a lot of time or energy for anything else. And a rather sumptuous pleasure in not even attempting to do anything else, but instead watching telly and reading (mostly mass-market crime fiction) books and doing a bit of desultory home improvement. Oh yes, and swotting for exams. My new employers insist that everyone should be studying towards some geeky exam or other, and I can't even pass my probation until I've passed an exam (Microsoft Certificated Database Administrator, SQL Server 70-433, in case you're interested).

When I was a teacher, one of the things I really hated was the way you had "homework" to do every night. You were always working, preparing for the next day, the next week...and never feeling prepared. I remembered how, towards the end of my degree, I looked forward to never having homework to do again, and wondered how the hell I had managed to find myself in a career full of such bloody unending homework. But this is different, because this is for me, and I can study at my own pace, and to be honest I've always rather enjoyed sitting exams. I'm such a gleeful swot, it's brill.

But how funny it is that my life feels so chilled and luxurious, when in fact I work really hard and have so little time. People have said to me on several occasions that even though I didn't become a teacher, the time won't have been wasted. I will have learnt a lot.

I'm not sure I'll ever rid myself of the feeling that in fact all I ever did was FAIL to learn the skills I was supposed to be learning, but I have gained various things. An appreciation for a life I once failed to appreciate. A lack of fear. A willingness to admit when I'm confused about something, and ask for help.

Oh yes, and I have my choir. It was desperation, the need for something, anything that was creative, enjoyable and for ME... that drove me to finally get round to joining a gospel choir, and I love it.

Of course I don't technically need to be anonymous any more, but I've rather got used to it. I can't see myself blogging so very publicly again, but I might resurrect some of Boob Pencil's archives. In the meantime, here are a few posts I unearthed.

This contains links to a whole series of posts relating to Julia Darling, an amazing writer friend who died of breast cancer a few years ago.

And this is a series of posts I wrote about breaking into my old primary school, when it was half-demolished.

Dunno when I'll be back, but rest assured I'm fine.


Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

Happy New Year, Squirrel ! Not so unwillingly beleaguered these days.... I love the warm-bath-busy-geeky atmosphere you're in. Have a feeling this year will be astonishingly positive for a lot of us. Good luck ! xx

Anonymous said...

Hello Squirrel, good to see you here. It's been a while and I'm very glad to see that things are now going well for you.

I want to warn you, in case you don't already know, that your old blog ( may have been hacked. My anti-virus software had a fit the last time I went there, and the RSS feeds for that blog also seem to be compromised. The one seems fine.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Ah no cap'n, it's just that the domain name expired and I didn't renew it. It's a shame about the virus but I don't have any money (new job surprisingly low-paid and partner still not earning), and it was daft to keep paying for the domain name. Boob Pencil is well and truly deceased.

Happy New Year the both of you!

looby said...

Welcome back! Hapy New Year Beleagured. Sounds like you made the right move getting out of teaching. That's exactly why I left it - your time was never your own. I don't mind turning up at x o'clock and going home at y o'clock but once that office door closes then that's my time. I couldn't stand it.

All the best

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Glad you are good - and I know what you mean about the endlessness of teaching preparation. So pelased you are in a better place, and ta for the tip about your old site address going all virusy. Urgh. But the main thing is you are happy. Take care!

Andrea said...

Yay Squirrel!
Welcome back. :-)
I'd almost given up on checking your blog, but today... to delay a start back to work after lunch... I thought I'd take a peek.
So glad you are back writing and So, So, pleased that you are feeling contentment :-)
I think the only real way of knowing if something was the right decision is by how you feel once you've made it.