Perspective, and cake.
I am so tired in the mornings. Unless Elena wakes early (sixish) I am usually woken by a naked toddler jumping on me after his shower.
This is my cue to summon whatever resolve I can muster, haul myself from bed, and pretend to be awake while I dry and dress Louis.
Then I feed Elena and, if Luuk’s running a bit late I feed Louis too. Then Elena goes back to bed and Louis plays for an hour or so before it’s his naptime.
By which time I’m awake, have had coffee and breakfast, and don’t really want to go back to bed.
So I have a shower and look alive, as they say. I open the curtains and the windows and have a second cup of coffee, some fresh air, sometimes a square of chocolate.
But I’m tired.
Some nights I can’t sleep for an hour or two. I lie there thinking just how ridiculous it is, but that doesn’t help.
I have three trials: tiredness, allergies, and isolation.
Isolation is partly due to having two young children and the desire to write novels. There is only so much time in the day, after all. But it’s also to do with living in a country where I have a feeble grasp on the language.
It’s easy to get down, to lose perspective.
But I don’t have to look far to see that life is an awful lot harder for most of the world. (And it’s a lot easier for others.)
Ever since the February Earthquake in 2011 I’ve been pretty much avoiding the news. I couldn’t bear to watch anything about the Japan earthquakes that followed shortly after. And then I felt that my time was just better spent in other ways. I figured that unless I was prepared to do something about what I was seeing/learning then there wasn’t much point seeing/learning it.
But keeping perspective is one of the benefits of watching the news. It’s hard to moan about a poor night sleep when you’ve just seen a news story where parents are watching their kids starve.
We’ve been watching Aaron Sorkin’s new series, The Newsroom, and the purpose of their reporting in the show is to inform voters. So I guess that’s another good reason to keep informed.
The other reason that comes to my mind is also one of the reasons I enjoy reading and watching fiction: these stories widen my view of the world, make me more understanding and compassionate towards those unlike myself. As a writer it is vital for me to imagine what life is like for people unlike myself. But as a member of society it is even more important, perhaps.
The Wire is another TV series we’ve been watching. It portrays the complexity of policing the drug-world in Baltimore. Complexity is the key word – there are no saintly characters, and no one is pure evil. The cops are, in many cases, worse than the drug-dealers. One of my favourite characters is a junkie who works as a criminal informant to the police. He tries to get clean and fails. He is doomed to fail, it seems, but he is of more use to the police when he’s a mess.
The West Wing was another show that taught me a lot about the world, about politics and the media and how the problems of the world tend to be incredibly complex.
While I’m feeding Elena during the day, at the moment, I’m watching Goodnight Sweetheart which is a BBC comedy from the early nineties and not in the same category as The Wire, The Newsroom or The West Wing. But it makes a strong point about perspective. It is set, initially, in 1993 where the characters complain about their Chinese Takeaway and their boring day jobs. The main character then accidentally time-travels to 1940 and is utterly impressed by the way people cope with the Blitz. He becomes embroiled in life in the 1940s, falls for a girl there, and at one point plans to stay in the past rather than try to balance two lives. But he can’t hack it. After five days of awful, tiny meals, queues for miles for everything, and the expectation that he should be ‘doing his bit’ – ie. risking his life ‘fire-watching’ on the rooves of buildings during air-raids, he returns to 1993, desperate for simple comforts. A good night sleep.
So, I’m tired. But I’m trying to keep perspective. I really don’t have it tough at all compared to some – no, compared to most. Half the world live on less than $2 a day, after all.
There’s always coffee…
And cake helps too…
Made this yesterday, from Edmonds cookbook, brought all the way from NZ…
Was fantastic with lemon icing and sprinkles.