Friday 27 January 2012

Deafinitely Girly in the kitchen

Today is Thankful Friday. It is one week since my last post. This is not good.

This week has mostly been work and fitfully short sleeps peppered with bad dreams of exploding boilers and nutty neighbours.

Every night has seen a new worst-case scenario, and every morning I've woken up thankful that it didn't happen in real life, but utterly knackered, too.

This morning saw me waking with a start, late and now I'm on the bus, huddled on bottom deck as top deck seems to be about 10 degrees colder.

So what am I thankful for?

Well, Friend Who Knows Big Words should get a mention after she taught me how to make Pad Thai on Wednesday.

There I was, in my kitchen, recipe book out, every imaginable utensil being utilised, trying my hand at what is my favourite dish in the world, while FWKBW and Miss K chatter in my lounge.

When it came to the egg cracking bit, it became apparent it was all a bit out of control, so I yelped for help and FWKBW swept in an rescued the day. A dash of lime here, a sprinkling of sugar here, some crushed peanuts – thanks Miss K – and some coriander and we were ready to go.

And the result? Delicious actually.

I think my deep-set fear of trying to cook new things comes from my days of Home Economics at school. I never knew quite what I was meant to be doing so got by on a lot of guess work – except at 12 years old, my experience of guess work in the kitchen was limited to, 'The toast might burn if I put it down again' and 'thirteen minutes in the microwave is OK for melting chocolate isn't it? I'm going to watch Neighbours while it cooks.'

The reality of it was I watched Neighbours and simultaneously managed to set fire to the microwave at the same time.

And we shouldn't even mention the time I cooked flapjack in bun tins for 1 hour...

So I guess it wasn't really a surprise when I was banned from doing Home Economics at GCSE  for fear of bringing my school's league tables down.

But I think it was their lack of faith in me that made me panic more.

My year 9 cooking consisted of a chicken dish made in the microwave that came out quite frankly as chicken a la salmonella, and I discovered that cakes don't rise if you put them on the floor of the oven, they just become warm batter.

So I'm thankful that FWKBW remained completely confident that whatever I had done to the Pad Thai – cooked it on a low heat, forgotten the prawns, used white not brown sugar, and spilled most of it on the floor – it would still taste utterly delicious.

It's made me more brave.

I'm going to try other new things in my kitchen. My repertoire should not be limited to cupcakes and er… cupcakes.

Dinner anyone?

Friday 20 January 2012

Deafinitely Girly thanks you

Complete silence on the blog recently I know.

And the reason? Well I've been stressed, which is a sure trigger for writers' block for me.

And the reason for my stress? Well my Twitter followers will know already. My neighbour.

In the last few weeks I have had three letters and an email all complaining about noise. And as my Pa has been staying and various other hearing guests have been and gone, I've been fortunate to have double the confirmation that no noise has been occurring.

She says she can hear me walking around. I wear soft, feather-filled slippers and my carpet is resting on a good 2cm of extra-heavy and expensive underlay, which in turn is on wooden sheets, which in turn lie on floor boards.

She says she can hear my boiler. I had a boiler man come out who says it's a normal boiler making normal boiler sounds.

She says my washing machine is too loud. I never put it on except in the middle of the day, rarely use it as it's just me in the flat and never use a spin above 700. To top it all off, I even consulted a buildings engineer who said that in buildings of the age of mine, sounds will travel. And guess what? I can hear her washing machine, too.

She says I get up to early. I'm a professional in London. I don't get up and do star jumps across the room. I get up, put on my feather-filled slippers and go and stand under the shower for a good 10 minutes, pad back, get my clothes from the cupboards and drawers I purposefully leave open the night before so I don't make too much noise in the morning and then leave for work.

My bus is always rammed. Evidence that the whole of London gets up with me, which would suggest that it's not to early in general. Just to early for her.

She says she can hear me if I talk in my bedroom. I live alone and believe me, a conversation in my bedroom is a once in a blue moon occurrence. It happened the other evening at 10.45 when a good friend rang. She works in theatre so it was the only time she could call. I am deaf, I don't take calls. But this one was important. A friend of hers, aged just 30, had died that morning. She was upset, she needed to talk. I was able to be there for her. On the dot of 11pm, the email of complaint came through.

And through all of this in the recent weeks, there have been audible screaming matches coming from this neighbour's flat, my living room floor has shaken as the front door has been slammed in what I can only assume was in a fit of rage, the hallway is descending into further chaos. Bags of food are now stored by the door, the perfect welcome sign to vermin.

And I have put up with it all. I have been understanding that, according to her notes, she's going through a stressful time right now. I have even shhh'd my guests like a librarian to try and stop her from complaining further.

But the final straw came a few days ago when one morning, after a refreshing 7-hour sleep, I descended the communal staircase – on tiptoe – to find yet another note. This one stating that I'd woken her up in the early hours of the morning, when in fact I was fast asleep.

And at that moment I knew that I had to stop ignoring her and stick up for myself. And that is where we are on this Thankful Friday.

Yesterday, a politely worded letter telling her she is not to contact me again unless it is about urgent house matters, should have arrived by registered post.

I'm keen to keep it as formal as possible. I can't cope with the nasty scribbled notes on the staircase. I can't tolerate her 'one rule for me', which is living in complete silence, and 'one rule for her', which is screaming arguments, door slamming and leaving the hallway in state of squalor.

I'm exhausted and upset by it.

So what am I thankful for on this Friday you might be wondering? Well, actually it's the amazing and unwavering support of my friends and family, not to mention those who know me as Deafinitely Girly through this blog and on Twitter. From fantastic advice on what to do if the problem escalates to supportive hugs and comments to keep me going.

That is what I am thankful for on this very Thankful Friday.

So a massive thanks to everyone and I'm sure I will keep you all posted.

Thursday 12 January 2012

I'm bad at making phone calls

Phew! What a week I'm having.

As well as being super busy in my day job, my little flat has also decided it wants some attention and the boiler has stopped working.

Last night I got home to a freezing house and no hot water and glumly I wondered how much it was going to cost me to get the boiler up and running again.

And then I remember that through my contents insurance with Endsleigh, I get home emergency cover.

So happy was I about this that it bolstered my confidence to to try phoning the emergency peeps.

Hmmmm… it did not go well. The lady was either Welsh or Irish – I have no clue which one – and I could barely understand anything she said.

Our 15-minute long conversation went something like this:

Her: Plu plu blah blah plu plu?

Me: you need my postcode?

Her: no, plu plu blah plah plu bla...

Me: My policy number?

Her: No-oooooooah, plu blah.

Yes, despite my attempts at conveying that she need to slow her speech down, this car crash of a conversation continued until I eventually discovered she couldn't find me on the system.

So I rang Endsleigh, my insurance company who are in the Wild West rem… Country, and luckily, I grew up hearing this accent so it's easier for me to decipher.

This phone call went better. The lady at the other end was more responsive to my announcement of my hearing loss and connected me through to the Welsh place telling them I should be on their system and they should help me.

Luckily I got a man. He was marginally more intelligible... marginally.

The first thing he said was: All we need is proof that the boilers been serviced in the last year and we will get an engineer out right away...

And just like that, I'd become a small-print victim.

I know, I know, it's logical that you should get a yearly service for your boiler, but to be honest, I had shoved this task in the 'phone calls I'd like someone else to make' pile and forgotten all about it.

So last night – from my air bed in the living room (long story) and under a mountain of blankets – I pinged an email to a local plumbing company asking them to come out today. I have no idea if they respond to emails, so that phone call I'd been putting off will probably have to be made anyway. And that home emergency premium I've been paying for the last three years on my insurance... well given the fact my little flat's latest hobby seems to be breaking, I'm sure I'll get to use it at some point in the future.

Happy Thursday peeps. That's right, almost the weekend.

DG x

Friday 6 January 2012

Getting things done without the phone

Today is the first Thankful Friday of 2012 – and what a lovely sunny one it is.

I'm thankful that I am gradually getting back into the swing of waking early, working for 8 hours and still being upright at the end of the day… it's amazing how just one week off sent my usual routine spinning out of control into an abyss of lie-ins and overindulgence.

Anyway, this week is also the week I have faced the reality that my flat windows are about to fall out of their frames and so I began the tentative process of finding someone to fix them.

Living in a conservation area, it's not as simple as calling in the plastic window people and that, coupled with the fact that my windows are massive, meant I spent a few lunch hours hunting for sash window experts who might be able to get my poorly windows back in shape.

So far, I have emailed six and heard back from three – all were happy to coordinate meetings without using the phone and the one I met yesterday was also fabulous at making sure he looked at me when he spoke.

It's been an incredibly pain-free experience so far – although I expect that will change when I get the quotes in.

I think sometimes the fear of doing something like this, something that often involves phone use – or that takes longer if you don't use a phone – often puts me right off doing it. Indeed, it's partly that, and the massive cost, that has caused me to put off repairing my windows and instead fix them with tape for the last six months.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway – however clichéd that may be – is a wonderful mantra to live by, because once you've faced that fear, the euphoria is more than enough to carry you through the next challenging bit. I've hated contacting and dealing with these window people, but I know that once I've accomplished this, I will be so happy with myself that parting with the cash will be so much easier.

What I need to do now is apply that to the rest of my life.

To the love bit, the exercise bit – yes, I have redeveloped my fear of running and not even an egg timer can cure me this time – and the getting Deafinitely Girly to a wider audience bit.

Today I am going to feel the fear and do it anyway. Who's with me?

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Happy 2012 peeps

So Christmas is over, 2012 is here and I am back to work today.

Sat on the bus on this rainy, windy day it's hard to believe that just two weeks ago we were all filled with such festive cheer, and all considerable lighter weight-wise, too.

Well, I was anyway.

It seems my daily diet of zero exercise – except for some festive ice skating – and chocolate raisins for breakfast has rather attacked my waistline, so this week, I shall mostly be joining the other 8 million people in London at visiting my gym.

All that aside, I really did have the most fabulous Christmas oop norf at The Rents' place – it was relaxing, it was hilarious, it was a brilliant family affair, with a much-missed Big Bro absent, and I loved every minute of it.

I even took part in the musical extravaganza that was a penny whistle concert – the toys in our crackers, which were all completely out of my frequency, but thanks to Pa's expert conducting, and a big number stuck on my forehead to indicate which whistle I had, it all went well… apparently.

Then, there was New Year's Eve – a refined affair that occurred mainly in French on the banks of the River Thames under the influence of Champagne. Turns out after several swigs of the fizzy stuff, my French is much better than it is normally – or at least that's what I am claiming and the cross-channel peeps were far to merry to judge my Bon Années by the end of the evening.

And what of my resolutions? Well, the real me has several that I'm not sharing for the moment. But Deafinitely Girly? Well, I resolve to blog more, tweet less about public transport and generally carry on being the whirlwind that is DG.

Happy 2012 peeps – may you have a good one.

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