Tinsel and Tiaras

So, the festive season is (half) over. I've always been more of a Christmas person then a New Year person, still not sure what I'm doing for New Year's Eve, but I'm working in the day. Regardless I'll put on something sparkly and raise a glass to the passing of 2009 and the start of a new year and a new decade.

The Noughties were probably the most eventful of my life so far. I began 2000 aged 17, desperate to get away from the place I'd always lived, and kind of claustrophobic from small town mentalities. 2000 brought A level results - better than expected - and going it alone in the big city (Liverpool) for the first time; starting uni. After embracing city life to the full, a class residential weekend to North Wales reminded me how important it was to be still and let my words flow, without self-consciousness or insecurity. Returning to my home town at Christmas was an unnerving experience - I'd changed more than I ever thought I could but the place was exactly the same.

I saw in 2001 with my friend Rox as a single girl, little did I know it would be my first single New Year for a long time. January brought my first independent(kind of) trip abroad - on the student trip to Amsterdam. I knew no-one on the trip and although it was scary at first, I was blessed with a group of girls who welcomed me into their fold, after which I proceeded to embrace the cafe culture, not to mention a trip to the Van Gogh museum - about the only cultural thing we did - and a trip to the Sex Museum. Although it was hilarious, it also made me see that although every generation think they've invented sex, it's all been done before.

The thing I think everybody will remember of 2001 is of course 9/11. It's one of those events in history that people say you will always remember where you were when you heard about it, and I do. I was in my housemate Dani's bedroom and our other housemate Rebecca came in holding the local paper, the iconic image of the plane hitting the Twin Towers on the front. There were no words - none were needed. So much has been written about that day, I don't think there's anything new I could add, just say that tragedies like that always make me feel lucky to be alive and of course my heart goes out to all the people affected.

2001 was also the year I embarked on my first major relationship. I guess at 19 I was kind of a late start, but luckily in 2000 I had a fantastic year of partying hard and snogging strange men(and women ;-)) before that. It's so hard to sum up the relationship, and more will be said in this blog entry about that, but one thing looking back I've noticed about myself, is that I always meet potential partners through friends. I don't think I ever met anyone who ever really lit my fire(spiritually and emotionally as well as physically) while propping up a bar under the influence. And it's always been when I haven't been looking, as well, because I think that's when you're most yourself.

I don't remember 2002 being particularly eventful but then, reviewing that statement I think I've just tried to block out the bad stuff. 2002 was when I first had a major hit of the black dog of depression that will probably come and go throughout my life. I think that, having never been in love before, I made the mistake a lot of girls make and forgot my friends a bit in favour of my other half. I also put up with a lot of shit that, as I hadn't been in a relationship before, I just took as part of a relationship and didn't see it for the domestic abuse - mental not physical that would continue throughout the relationship until I had the strength to end it - that it was.

That was also the year that the house I was living in was burgled(it was in a very run down unsafe area) and I woke up to a yoing lad standing over me with a knife, saying 'give me your money.' My first thought was 'that knife's really blunt.' Crazy I know. Weirdly I managed to stay completely calm until he had left, then rang the police. They were absolutely fantastic, and the women who I spoke to when I rang 999 stayed on the line until the police arrived, she was an absolute godsend as I was completely terrified. The mental scars stayed with me for a long time and even now I try not to think about it. I was relieved when during the summer of 2002 I had a phone call from Merseyside Police, saying they had caught someone who had been committing a series of burglaries in the area, all with similar circumstances. It's why now I will always pay a bit more to live somewhere nice than pay cheap rent and live somewhere dangerous.

2003 started with me still under a dark cloud and although it was the year that I passed my first degree, BA(Hons) Imaginative Writing with English Literature& Cultural History with a 2:1, the graduation day itself was tinged with sadness as my Grandad died two weeks before. I started my MA in Information and Library Management that September and it was there that I met some of the greatest friends I've ever made. Although we all live in different places now, we keep in touch as much as we can, and I love them all to bits.

2004 saw me getting my first professional post, working in a public library in Runcorn. The staff were fantastic and really gave me the opportunity to develop, and the creative space to put a much needed poetry input into the events programme. As this was a maternity cover post, 2005 saw me get a proper contract at a library in Widnes. It's a state of the art library which had 6 million pounds put into it, and it shows. If you ever get to go there, do it. This was where I started a poetry reading group which, I'm proud to say is still going. This was also the year of the London Bombings and all I can remember is the day I passed my Driving Theory test, was the day this happened. Such joy and yet such sadness.

2006 and I was getting itchy feet both in my relationship and in my career. This was the year I had the holiday of a lifetime to Italy with my Mum and Sister. We went to Florence, getting the train to Pisa(the airport in Florence is tiny) and just had an amazing time filled with culture - Michaelangelo's David, the Uffizi gallery, the Duomo and more - food, and wine. The trip came to an end with me and my sister scaling the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Our Mum had developed a fear of heights so she didn't make it to the top, but we did star jumps at the top just to freak her out.

I returned to Liverpool and I think I knew deep down that I wasn't happy with my life. This was more than just post holiday blues, I was constantly stressed being on a temporary contract and never knowing if I was going to have a job from one year to the next. I also wasn't happy in my relationship. This was the year I passed my driving test, which was one of the best days of my life, but everything else was falling apart. People who I've asked about myself during that time say they couldn't tell at all that I was dogged by a constant insecurity and sadness, that felt like I was wearing a lead suit, it was a struggle just to get put of bed most days. I must be a better actress than I thought. I started to keep a diary of that time, and I'm glad I did because at the time you feel like you're never going to feel normal again, when in fact you look back on it and can't believe you ever felt like that.

February 2007 and everything came to a head. One day I was sick all of a suden, and little did I know a pain in my stomach would begin that wouldn't ease for a number of months. No doctor could provide an answer, and the strangest thing was the black dog had gone, and I was actually feeling like myself again. This physical pain left me in A&E a number of times, incuding a trip in the back of an ambulance. I had neevr imagined such physical pain before. The weirdest thing was, they never really found an answer for it. Although I did discover during that time that Seratonin is produced in the bowel/intestines - explains the dark cloud. The specialist who I saw diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome and told me I would 'just have to live with the pain.' It was only when I made major changes to my life; leaving my job that was stressing me out, moving down south, and ending the relationship that had got so bad I had become oblivious to the daily insults and threats that if I ever ended it I would be killed. The police had to be involved and it was one step away from a restraining order. The messages and telephone calls continued for over a year and a half after I ended the relationship; in the end I had to change my phone number.

Even though I was the one who ended the relationship it still took time to get over, this was my first impression of a relationship and I don't doubt that it has affected my future behaviour in relationships and how guarded I am when I first meet people. When I explain why, they understand - how could they not?

2007 was also the year one of my best friends got married and I was lucky enough to be invited. We had played weddings when we were five years old and now she was doing it for real! As I was (kind of) single at the time I was in two minds whether to go - I didn't want to be a gooseberry. In the end I was so glad I went. Not only did I see my friend get married, her sister who I had known for years looked lovely as a bridesmaid and hear her Dad give a hilarious wedding speech, I also met someone who inspired me and made me feel alive again after all I had been through that year. There aren't many people who I meet and feel an instant connection with, but this was one of those people. I don't want to say too much about them for now, but we are still in touch and I think I have made a friend for life there.:)

2008 and I found out I was going to be an Auntie! I was shocked to say the least but very excited, the first person I was really close to to be expecting a baby. I also started a short term contract down south, moving yet again. There's not a lot to say about that time except I'm glad I tried living on my own but I didn't like it. It really does make a difference where you work as well. Although I wouldn't care to repeat that time, it taught me that in future I will stand up for myself more - nobody should have to stand for workplace bullying.

After that I was quite unsure what was going to happen with my future. My nephew was born in July 2008 and he really did bring light into my life at a time when I needed it. The timing couldn't have worked out better - I had plenty of time to spend with him and my sister, and I got to share so many precious moments - his first smile, rolling over, refreshing my memory of nursery rhymes, and we developed a close bond that, although I live far away from him now, we will always have that.

2009 was a year of opportunity, yet another move, this time back up North. I have to say that although I love my family, I definitely prefer living up North. It just has a different energy, the people are so friendly, and there is so much to do here. A new job beckoned, a career change for me, and my first permanent contract. It was such a relief not to worry about when my contract was going to run out. I had some really good advice when I started, keep your head down, do your job, and don't say anything negative, and it seems to have worked. I got a temporary promotion in August and that seems to be going well. Some people say 'don't you think it was a waste of time doing two degrees and now you don't work in either field.' I disagree. I still use libraries as a customer. And as for the writing, things have gone from strengh to strength. I had a poem published in a book in 2009 and I have started going to a regular performance poetry night. I am hoping the next decade will be when I bring out my first collection. For more writing check out www.myspace.com/purplepoetess and facebook group http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=26287350096&ref=ts , or become a fan of Purple Poetess http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=26287350096&ref=ts#/pages/Purple-Poetess/69057868235?ref=ts

There's one more thing I want to write about and that's someone who has changed my life in the past 2 and a half years. They know who they are, but it means so much to have had someone in my life with so much belief in me - more than I have in myself at times -who has really taught me to follow my dreams, and not let the bastards get me down. This person has taught me so much about life and love, and I know the way we see each other will be different in the next decade, but I hope that in some way they will always be a part of my life. They have made me vow never to lose my passion for life, writing, food, partying, and passion itself; and they will always have a part of my heart.

So thank you for reading this blog, become a follower if you aren't already, you can expect more writing from me than ever in the next ten years. Let's make 2010 a cracking year and the next decade the best ever!


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