Thursday, 12 June 2008

Birthdays Letter

Do you ever have periods in which you don't know what to concern yourself with first? I've been going through just such a time. The usual worries: leaky roof, writer’s block, not enough money have been added to. First up, my best friend was due to give birth to her third child early last week. I spoke to her the day after her due date and she was feeling rubbish: muscle spasms, extreme tiredness, and totally fed up. She lives too far away for me to just pop in and see how she's doing and, anyway, due to health concerns her doctors had warned her against any excitement: no visitors. Health concerns!? So I sent her a package which included Angela Carter's The Magic Toyshop, an Anglo-Saxon poem, and, because she asked to see it, the introductory chapter to my book. She wanted stuff to read because she couldn't move. After that all I could do was wait. I knew her husband would text me when the baby was born so I’ve been jumping every time I hear the Nokia message tone. I'm not a phone person so almost no-one has my number which means I very rarely get a call or message on my mobile. But on Tuesday, as I was sitting quietly working, the phone made that sound, I jumped nearly out of my skin, grabbed it and read: 'Sally, can we make it next week for lunch as Rick has the day off on Thursday, love Caroline.' I tried to read this as 'Rhona has had a little girl' but it didn't work so eventually replied, 'You must have miss-dialled as I'm not Sally.'

Secondly: It's my husband's birthday next Tuesday. I never know what to get him. He is a brilliant gift giver: for my birthday this year he gave me, amongst other things, a Ted Hughes signed copy of Crow, a first (English translation) edition of Nietzsche's letters, and a box of the most beautiful, and delicious, chocolates I've ever seen. He manages to turn my birthday into a festival, so I always feel I'm short-changing him when it comes to his, and I worry endlessly about this as the day approaches.

Thirdly: We have a party coming up. I love parties but I won’t know anyone at this one. It’s to do with Stevie’s work and he’s only just joined this company so I have no knowledge whatsoever of what I am in for. Actually, I know that I am likely to be the oldest woman there by about fifteen years and that everyone has been told I’m a writer. Stevie has already told me that this has excited interest which means people will talk to me. I’m going to have to get my ‘right sort’ head on and I don’t know what I’ve done with it.

But things are looking up.

Yesterday I finally got on top of the birthday thing: thank goodness for the internet. Now I just have a few little things to organise, and hope that everything will arrive on time. I do still have one or two questions I’m mulling over: would he appreciate flowers? Should I make bunting? That sort of thing. But in general things are taking shape.

This morning as I was just beginning to wake, I thought I heard a distant text message tone. A ghostly pah-pa, pah-pa that could have come from anywhere. As I was making a cup of tea later I remembered this so checked my phone and found I had a voicemail: Rhona had the baby yesterday at nine o'clock, both are doing great, and they will be home at some point today. Oh my!

Now I can concentrate on searching out that head. Where will I find it do you think?


Kanani said...

Oh, I've found it awkward when people find out I'm a writer --especially if they're the sort who don't read, have no interest in books, could really care less but want to know where you've been published.

Sometimes I want to say, "Oh, I'm a writer for PEOPLE magazine!" I figure this would garner far more understanding than saying "4 poetry and prose chapbooks, travel books, editing work, PR, the gamut of things, you know."

So then often I slip back into my day job. "I'm an administrator in a surgery clinic," I'll say.
Yes, sometimes this is just so much easier.
But then again, PEOPLE Magazine is so much more interesting!

debra said...

Happy Birthday to your husband, Eryl.
My husband always says that he has everything he could ever want. For years, I have given him a single rose.

It is hard when people expect you to be this or that. I suppose it is like that with most jobs/professions/careers/whatevers; but people seem to find writers and artists exotic. (kind of like animals in the zoo).

Carole said...

I am pretty sure your head is not in St. Louis, MO so feel free to cross that off the list. The 'right sort' head always shows up in time, but it is rarely early, so perhaps you should just concentrate on eating a delicious chocolate and wait.

Eryl Shields said...

Kanani ~ the thing is I haven't had anything published, except for my monthly column in the student magazine, so... I really ought to get around to sending some stuff out but I keep putting it off.

Debra ~ the rose is a really good idea, my husband has all he wants too and if there ever is anything else he wants he gets it for himself.

Carole ~ you are the most unselfconsciously philosophical person I have ever come across. Zen and the Art of Chocolate Eating, good idea.

Kim Ayres said...

Well I know one thing you're getting that he'll enjoy :)

And don't worry about the party - It doesn't matter how much younger, you'll still look superb and they'll be envious :)

PI said...

Men are difficult but it is quite good for them to feel they are better at something. Forgive me if I seem a bit disjointed but a man with a long measure has just invaded my puter room. I'd forgotten MTL was showing a wall stuffer round (heat conservation)
Parties can be hell but just smile sweetly, look interested and everybody will adore you.

Conan Drumm said...

Worzel Gummidge was always losing his heads for special occasions, wasn't he? Did you leave it on another blog?

Eryl Shields said...

Kim ~ Sshh, he reads this blog. And thank you for the lovely compliment.

Pat ~ You're right, part of my gift can be an admittance that he is so much better at this sort of thing than I am, though he's much better at most things than I am so it won't be a surprise!

Conan ~ I suspect I left it at the last party due to having got horribly drunk. I'll have to ask around, but first I'll check in all my handbags just in case someone kindly stuffed it in the one I was carrying as they shoved me into the car.

Mary Witzl said...

I always tell people I'm trying to become a published author. That usually hushes them up; they figure I'm hopeless and discouraged to boot. The people who fill me with dread are my in-laws; my brother-in-law once wrote my husband a snide e-mail advising him that I should be encouraged to become the next Don Brown. Problem was, he sent it to me by mistake.

Have you found your head? Mine is usually attached to me somewhere, but I always need others to point this out.

I agree with the others. It's better to let your husband enjoy being the superior giver. And I'm sure you already do plenty for him as it is!

Kanani said...

SO what did you get your husband?

Gahhh...it's so hot here. Can't turn the AC on because of 1. Greehouse effect. 2. Lack of money.

Really dreadful. I don't want to cook, I don't want to do yoga, I don't want to run to the office in the middle of the day.

Right now, books and TV are incredibly appealing.

Eryl Shields said...

Birthday post coming up!