This week I got tagged in a meme by my friend Jelly (aka Mommatwo) who now gets called Elizabeth due to her being a proper grownup these days. We try but whenever we refer to her, the fiancé and I still call her Jelly. You see, once upon a time she used Jelly as a forum username and failing to find a new name (I was in a transition phase) I settled on Icecream given how we went together (naff I know!). I haven’t used that username for a long time (mostly because usernames have rather died out haven’t they?) but there are fond memories associated; such as a friend (who offered a very comprehensive benefits package) who suggested the tagline, ‘Melts on the tongue.’

If that is too much information then I suggest you look away now as these meme’s (yes I looked up the term on Google) lean towards the personal. I generally avoid these kinds of blogs but I checked with Jelly and I’m supposed to thank her (darling I adore you, you know this you demanding tart!) and link you up to her blog which blatantly I will since she asked me to guest blog. I wouldn’t call her manipulative but she sure knows how to play me! And then at the end of this I list some blogs I like and so we go on.

Yes, this is exactly the behaviour I slated last week with my criticism of those types that do the chainmaily post this or you rape baby bunnies stuff. But frankly it’s been a taxing few weeks and a blogging by numbers exercise is far to tempting to resist and so I shall commence.*

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

I admire the fiancé more than anyone. While I have huge amounts of respect for my mother, her incredible resilience was largely borne of situations thrust upon her and she saw that she could crumble or survive. The fiancé created his own situations and despite the many factors limiting him, he decided to live a different life (with me). I am guilty of being flippant about risk because I come from a family of entrepreneurs who love unconditionally and I often forget to tell him how much I admire his determination to live a life that meets our definition of fulfilling with a very different skill set borne of a very different background.

When were you happiest?

Last Sunday. We hosted Easter and after the meal (for thirteen, which was the 4th meal cooked in the new house) went perfectly and the boys had a magical Easter Egg hunt, I headed inside with my brother’s girlfriend to fetch cake and started to cry. My early twenties were rather tough and I feel utterly blessed to be where I am now. I’ve never been happier and I’m still not sure how to manage that. 

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Watching myself on TV! In 2008 I was a semi-finalist on Masterchef and participating was nothing compared to watching the footage afterwards. I watched it once and three years later am still cringing.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

My car. My car. My car. I really ought to stop writing them off!

What is your most treasured possession?

My passport. Not only is it my gateway to possibility but it’s a symbol of how utterly fortunate I am. My best friend when I lived in Malaysia was a Kurdish refugee who left Iraq on a forged passport. Nothing reminds me that I am free like my passport.

Where would you like to live?

With the fiancé and my stepsons. I know I could live anywhere, I used to live in Malaysia and know I could move back easily. They live in Gloucester so I live in Gloucester.

What’s your favourite smell?

I have lots but will go with the weird one. I love the smell of the fiancé’s armpits. When we get into bed he often stretches his arms over the top of the pillows and I wriggle under and snuffle. I think he smells great.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I’d like to say Kate Walsh because she’s the person I want to be when I grow up (she is so beautiful and seems so elegant) but as she’s older than me that makes no sense. Given I’ve so much yet to do, the most appropriate actress is probably still a baby so I’ll go with the girl in pigtails at 0.13 in this advert.

What is your favourite book?

A very difficult question given that I read so much. There are the books that changed my life, the books I consider old friends and the books I rate for the quality of their writing. Even the idea of favourite gets broken into a multitude of options. But if my house was on fire I realise that there is one book I’d save. I’d save my novel; I’d save my characters Michael and Helen. I have come to accept I’m not a natural fiction writer but one day my novel will be finished and for now, it’s the one book I couldn’t give up.

What is your most unappealing habit?

I’m arrogant enough to believe I’m always right. I try to see the other side but respect very few people who have totally opposing views to my own. I recognise that this makes me a horrible human being.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

I recently ordered a dress pattern to make for my eldest stepbrother’s 30th Medieval themed Birthday Party in June so currently I aspire to something Jocalyn (played by the gorgeous Shannyn Sossamon) would have worn in A Knight’s Tale.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Buying Kettle Chips and eating them all before the fiancé gets home from work.

What do you owe your parents?

I owe my parents freedom. My late stepfather once asked my mother how she was so confident and she answered that she had always been loved. I was raised as she was and although I’ve had my ups and downs I have always felt loved. Such knowledge is a liberating force that cannot be underestimated.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

I fear I have a long list. I never set out to hurt anyone but there are situations I could have handled better or would handle better today. I had a very damaged friend who was an emotional vampire at a time when I lacked vitality to sustain myself and so I ended the friendship. She was bad for me and I’m better for losing her but I still feel bad about it. Similarly, my ex husband was a bad choice for me. He isn’t a terrible person but he was bad for me and I’m better for getting rid of him but I sometimes feel bad that it took me so long to get rid of him. I don’t believe either set out to hurt me but at the time I reacted as though it was personal (as it was personal for me). I mostly accept this as a complexity of life but given the chance I’d still say sorry.

What or who is the greatest love of your life

The future. The realms of possibility will always be my greatest love. Right now I have the fiancé by my side as I look forward and I believe he will be my partner for life but for the greatest love I am merely offering him the opportunity to ride shotgun. Bring me that horizon!

What does love feel like? 

Losing. I give up things I want in my current relationship because I want “us” more than I want the things I give up. It is a major readjustment for me and please don’t misunderstand me, I get far more out of the trade off than I give up but ultimately love is compromise and I’m not very good at that. With my ex-husband it was a struggle for power and unless I relinquished every aspect of myself he wasn’t satisfied, with the fiancé it is very different but while I get to retain the essence of my being (in fact he demands that I do), there are nevertheless similar processes. Healthy loss versus unhealthy loss perhaps but ultimately I’m not someone who likes to compromise.

What was the best kiss of your life?

My first kiss with the fiancé which was not our first kiss at all! Our first real kiss was in his car pulled up on a grass verge (classy) and as the beginning of the relationship was a bit messy I said I wanted a proper first date and a proper first kiss. So we were at Alton Towers (yeah, it’s not getting any classier is it?) and he made me wait six hours! He kept giving me little hugs and pecks on the cheek but no kiss. Eventually, after riding Air three times consecutively (it’s all in the details people!) he kissed me. My knees actually gave way. Over two years on he can still have the same reaction. He saves it and doesn’t overuse it but he can still poleaxe me in an instant.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I swear far too much. I’m sure there are words and phrases beyond that but really, the swearing is the big thing.

What is the worst job you’ve done?

The summer before I went to university (for the first time) I was a waitress. That wasn’t a bad job. Actually I really liked that job (even if my boss was pretty sleazy), it was easy and fun. I’m from North Yorkshire and wearing a frilly apron and selling toasted teacakes and ghost stories to American tourists really wasn’t tough. The main reason it wasn’t tough was the reason my boss hired me. One day he told me that he only hired girls that grew up on farms. I asked why and he asked what I did for money before he hired me... “um, my dad paid me £3 an hour to paint fences with creosote mixed with oil (because it made the creosote go further).” Any other comments on that, he asked, “it was too hot to wear long sleeves but the splatters meant I got these weird stains on my arms.” My boss smiled and said that’s why he hired farm girls. £4 per hour plus tips to toast teacakes, make coffee and smile at tourists. He had a point. I’ve never had a boss as bad as my dad. Nor did any of my fellow waitresses.

If you could change one thing from your past, what would you change?

As a rule I think our past makes us who we are and as I’m the happiest I’ve ever been I’m loath to say I have regrets. After all, it was an unhappy relationship that saw me confiding in an online friend that would one day become the fiancé. Part of me wants to go back and suggest my dad had full body scans that would’ve picked up the brain tumour before it was incurable but awful as it sounds I loved that we had those years with my stepfather. So would I stop my stepfather’s death? I’d like to say yes but something he said on his deathbed changed me forever and while I miss him like hell that last conversation paved the way for where I am now. I miss those men in ways I cannot begin to put into words but the simple fact that one necessarily followed the other makes the whole thing incomprehendible to me. So I take today, I look forward and would change nothing.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

I was run off the M5 last year. A car cut me up and I swerved to avoid it. I swerved too hard and went down the embankment. Rather than fight it I decided to take that path as best I could. On the basis of what was said to the police by the first people to pull over, an air ambulance was on its way. Nobody could quite believe that aside from being a bit pissed off about driving my car off the road to avoid a collision I was absolutely fine. It was the guys that hauled my car out that said they had a 9/10 fatality on such incidents and I was the first person on that stretch to ride in the haul-out truck. I was lucky but I was also thinking quickly. The reason most people die (especially in convertibles AND I had my top down) was that they swerve back into the road, hit their wheels on the edge of the embankment and roll. I assessed the situation and doubted my ability to pull off swerving back and so focused on how to go off the road. There are two choices; fight it and die or go with it and live. Photos are here.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I’m still smiling. I’ve had my successes but without question weathering the bad times is more worthy of note than some of the more standard accomplishments which rather read like status symbols in the Game of Life if you aren’t careful.

When did you last cry, and why?

Easter Sunday, see above.

How do you relax?

Alcohol and sex. Oh sure I like hot baths with good books but I’m a busy girl and on a day to day basis it ultimately comes down to a gin and tonic and the talents of the rather talented fiancé.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

More faith in myself. Unfortunately I think that will be something that’ll take a lifetime.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Nothing is as bad as you think it will be. Nothing. Ever.

Ok and so to the people I follow. This is tricky as I mostly follow industry blogs and there are people I admire (such as Simon of The RSS Feed) for what they do but who I don’t actually read (sorry honey) and those that I love to read (such as my eldest stepbrother Gez of Scene and not Herd) but who don’t really blog often enough. I’ve said in the past that I like Rachel Cotterill so really I need to list new people. I have two (although I encourage you to look out Simon, Gez and Rachel as well).

1) Very new but someone I’ve long thought should blog is Jelly’s husband who has started blogging Fart and Culture (gotta love the name). I have high expectations of one of my favourite sparring partners (and one of the few lefties I love).

2) The personal blog of someone I admire a lot professionally, A bit more of Karen is the refreshingly down to earth real life of the amazing Karen Strunks of the 4am Project which is just the most amazingly thing for amateur photographers like me.

* Is this a sell out? Possibly, but then I’m rather militant in my politics but in moving house realised my change of address on the electoral role means I probably won’t get to vote in the AV Referendum (which really ought to be this week’s topic!)  so ultimately I’m going soft anyway. Although there is a consolation in that the fiancé was intending to vote the wrong way so ultimately we’d have cancelled each other out had we been able to vote.

4/28/2011 07:20:48 am

With regards to love feeling like losing, that's because it is. You sacrifice some battles to win the war. Being so competitive, you hate to lose. That's true whether it's in love or a game of Connect 4 in a pub in Llanseffan.

4/28/2011 07:24:41 am

I love that analogy but I can't believe you're still holding my strop in Wales against me; that was 2½ years ago!

4/28/2011 11:59:49 pm

Seems like you lose at connect 4 quite a lot... ;p

4/29/2011 12:17:56 am

Be quiet Trev, nobody is listening ;)

Elizabeth (Jelly!)
5/1/2011 08:44:45 am

You're the only people who still call me Jelly, but I still like it :D

You should play me at connect four - I'm absolutely shit. I just cannot get it.


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