Saturday, 27 February 2010

Motherhood - a review

No, not a review of my role in life, but a 'proper' review, as in 'film review'.
Yes, the very nice Alexandra at Organic Marketing approached me - amongst others - to have a sneak preview of this film with Uma Thurman that is being released on March 8th and write a review.
Imagine that. LCM as film critic. Wonder if I can now put this on my CV as well?

Anyway, the blurb accompanying the DVD goes along the lines of:

The film features Uma as a busy New York mum, in a role which has been described as Carrie of Sex and the City with kids. Uma plays Eliza, a writer who stop pushing the pen when she had her two children, for the sake of Motherhood a change she has not adapted to well. Not one to give up Eliza comically battles her way through the mine field of parenting; stains, arguments with other mothers, disorganization, mess and birthday parties all the while attempting to write a blog on her experiences in between her house work.

So, what did I think? Ready? Here goes.

First. After a good half hour of this film, I still had no clue as to where it was going (answer: nowhere). Eliza lives in what appears to be a one-bedroom top floor flat with two children, a dog, a husband who collects books and leftovers, so much mess that I got palpitations, and a studio next door that she lets out (I think, it is never made clear) to an old biddy with a cat to whom she provides - usefully - cat food and orange juice (what, no tea? Ed.). That seems to be the American way of showing us that she is a good person at heart. Personally I would have knocked the two flats into one and put the lady in a residential home. At least Eliza would have had more room to swing said cat and the old woman would have had outdoor access as opposed to six flights of stairs to climb. But maybe that's just me.

Second. The only person in this (I quote) 'bittersweet comedy' who is truly - and naturally - funny is Minnie Driver. The one scene that did make me laugh was her describing a bath the previous evening where she found an ingenious and alternative use for her son's battery-operated submarine. From another actress this would have caused some smirking, but with Driver heavily pregnant in the film, it was classic comical timing.

Third. Describing Eliza as Sex and the City's Carrie with kids is a gross injustice. Carrie, let's be honest here, would have strut around in her Manolos and had her best gay friend Stanford Blatch organise her daughter's 6th birthday party, cake, goodie bags and all. Whilst I can sympathise with Eliza having a guilt trip and doing it all herself (on a bike - which of course gets a flat tyre - as her car has been towed), has the land of the free not heard of home delivery? C'mon, this is the same country where you can do drive thru to collect you kids from school! West Village or not, it would seem to me that Eliza seems to have made a point of giving up her career in order to embark on total chaos of her choice and making.

Which brings me to my fourth and final point. Many of the topics covered are ones I can relate to: stroppy people in queues expousing their (unwanted) opinions at you; dealing with other over-zealous (or just weird) mothers; keeping on top of the never-ending laundry pile; a husband/father who is doing his best (in his books) but is never quite enough (by wife/mother's standards); feeling that precious time with your children is slipping by and that you are not quite grasping enough of it.
However, this film misses a trick in that it has the classic sweet ending whereby a small sacrifice makes everything better. Not necessarily right, just momentarily better. I never got a sense of who Eliza really was, nor why she was in such a state. The only insight comes in a far-fetched almost cringingly awful scene with a courier who delivers what is ultimately the not-quite-life-changing unexpected bonus.

Verdict? I wanted to slap Eliza and tell her to get a grip. For a woman who must have once been pretty much in control of her life (some of her conversations hint at this) she seems to have totally 'lost it'. And blaming it on Motherhood is a very poor excuse.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Kevin's latest appearance

The Kevinettes reconvened again this week.

It was all a bit doom and gloom regarding the last choices of books, both slightly morbid in topic and although the David Lodge one (Deaf Sentence) certainly was amusing in bouts (read the party scene alone if you want a laugh about misunderstanding and misinterpretation), it did not bode well for the Lovely Radiographer whose mother had recently passed away. A bit too close to the mark.

So we talked about other things, as you do. And other books, as we should, being a serious book club and all that. Despite the mums amongst us, I am very pleased to say we did not discuss the latest 'Where is Maisie' install, nor anything concerning dinosaurs, or even the characters in the Oxford learning books (Biff, Chip, Kipper, Wilma and Wilf, if you must... just as well the teacher is called Mrs May).

We talked about the Millenium series. You know, 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', 'The Girl who played with Fire', and 'The Girl who kicked the Hornets' Nest'. Some of us have read the first book, a couple the second as well, and only one all three. She was gagged before she gave the story away.

General consensus? Entertaining and certainly a good read - although I still maintain the second book has far too many characters for my liking (but that is just the writer's critic in me coming to the fore).

And the film of the first book is due out next month. In Swedish. With English subtitles. So I am already envisioning watching a thriller of Bourne Supremacy-style pace whilst trying to read abbreviated translations simultaneously on screen. A bit like trying to ride a motorbike whilst high on recreational drugs I imagine.

Oh, and the choices for Kevin's next outing? Very tame and apparently touchy, funny and lighthearted (see the side panel for details). And not a death in sight.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Another day, another photo

I seem to be getting into a habit here of posting photos of my injured wrist. Maybe it is unhealthy, but then again I do recall that saying of "a problem shared is a problem halved", or something like that. I could well be making things up.

Anyway, here you are:

Impressive, no? Considering just two weeks ago I was in A&E with a deformed hand being told by lovely doctors that I was 'very young', would probably need to be operated on, and being plied with high dosage painkillers. Just one short comment about the latter: they wreak havoc on your digestive system. Enough said.

Next photo I promise to show the impressive scar. Very neat, very tidy. Stitches came out on Tuesday after which I was x-rayed again ("Looks fantastic, I am very pleased," said the young surgeon, as I observed the image displaying a T-shaped titanium plate and counted some nine screws holding it in place), told to "start using your hand", before being sent to physiotherapy to be straightened out. Literally.


And given exercises to perform every two hours.


I am especially fond of the one were I have to pin my elbows by my side, hold my arms out forward and rotate the wrists 180 degrees, outwards and then inwards. The thought alone of the bone crunching sound this makes (mostly in my head) makes me feel faint. Even now. Hang on while I grab my smelling salts....

But aside from all this I can confirm it is much more comfortable, and hopefully will regain mobility fast, although I fear that any illusion of a comeback to the competitive rowing scene is now firmly relegated in the 'you must have been dreaming' compartment.

Oh yes, and I also managed a quick trip away with minor inconveniences.
Life goes on, right?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The bionic woman and anaesthetics

Hello fellow bloggers and faithful readers. I am back, I think, albeit typing in a most peculiar fashion (left hand and occasional right middle finger input, most appropriate given the circumstances) and wearing a very fetching bandage on my right arm.


I also have a rather fashionable array of colours around my elbow:

Please note the matching sweater which is conveniently covering my huge bicep muscles.

Laughs aside, on Monday I had a titanium plate permanently inserted into my wrist as I was "very young" (surgeon's words, repeated a few times, made me want to stay there for a while) and being right-handed the type of fracture (Barton, as in Fink, only way I can remember) could lead to problems later in life.

Hang on, I thought I already had those with childcare issues and increasing piles of laundry?

Anyway, a stint in UCH has put me to rights - or lefts as it were - and I seem to be on the (painful and slightly awkward) road towards mending. The lovely BB picked me up from hospital which gave us ample opportunity to discuss our triathlon training program going forward. It's complicated, for obvious reasons, but then again I did go skiing with a broken left wrist after falling off a horse in my early twenties, so hey, what's a swim, bike ride and run amongst friends?

And yes mother, I am still going to do it. Because I know you will ask again and again.

The question however is whether the effect of the anaesthetic has impeded my better judgement as today (taking it easy, on doctor's orders) I found myself splashing out on a facial (justified, given sickly appearance), buying four classic novels, and three separate pieces of jewellery.

Oh yes, and two loads of washing, of course.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

So how's the triathlon training going?

In answer to all of you have been asking, let me just post this very recent picture so you can draw your own conclusions.

My training partner BB's comment summed it all up: "Bollocks!"
I think she suspects I am doing this on purpose, what with lower back strain, laryngitis, pulled shoulder blade muscle...

Will find out tomorrow if it needs to be operated on . Barton fracture, in case you want to Google it.

Moral of the story: do not go ice skating with colleagues and pretend that you are still 12 years old (which was last time I tried this sport). 

Never mind that I was chatting and going backwards at the time. Multi-tasking failure this time round methinks.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

No such thing as wordless Wednesday where childcare costs are concerned

Seen this today? Of all the things that bug me - and there are plenty, just ask Other Half about my levels of tolerance for nervous tics - this one really gets under my skin.

To put things into perspective, all three of my children have been in nursery since an early age, on average from around 4 months' old. If you still need to ask why then I will spell it out: I work, I enjoy my job, and I like to be financially independent. Much as I love my children and they remain a priority in my life, I am not - nor ever was - a stay-at-home-mum. 

So, nursery it was for all three. A no brainer for both me and Other Half, and they are all well-adjusted, sociable and lovely children. But that is beside the point.

The point is that whilst this government has made endless claims about "free (early learning) entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds", this only applies (and even then is severely limited) to local authorities, ie for those people who are already in receipt of benefits and need an additional incentive to return to the workforce. Or, as their own website succinctly puts it, if you are "a working parent, lone parent or a student you may be entitled to extra help with the costs of early learning and childcare."

Which means that for the average Joe who works full-time, pays taxes, NI and all the rest, there is a) no further incentive (outside of childcare vouchers, and even then I had to fight tooth and nail to get two former employers to participate in a scheme, despite the fact that it saves them money), and b) no tax break.

So you can claim for a chauffeur but not for childcare, the first being a 'nice-to-have', the latter an imperative in order to work and pay taxes in the first place. And now suddenly they are waking up to the fact that many of us are working merely to pay someone else to look after our kids. Just as well I enjoy my job then.

The best perspective on this? One I have undoubtedly mentioned before. When a former boss asked me what my childcare costs were and I told him, he said "Per term?". 
No, you fool. "Per month." And we were talking a number that did not start with 1 or 2 and was followed by three zeros. He was struck dumb.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Gordon Brown.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Ending the week on a high and loving note

Another quick post before I head downstairs to enjoy a glass of wine and some dinner.

After finishing job no.1 (office work) and busying myself with job no.2 (kiddie pick-up and after care), I am told by Blossom that she has a surprise in her book bag for me.

This is it.

Am sure you can decipher the meaning, but I told her I will keep it forever. 

Who wouldn't?

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Why procrastination is the mother of all invention... or something like that

Lunchtime. Have eaten routine sandwich, fruit and drink at desk after a morning of peering at endless spreadsheets and templates and planning documents for the project I am advising on. 
Tedious stuff. Sorry, did I say that? I meant riveting, yes, absolutely f*cking riveting, tie-me-down-I-am-jumping-out-of-my-seat riveting if you know what I mean. Not.
Goodness, how many ways can you re-invent a wheel/skin a cat/flog a dead horse? Let me see....

Okay, so it's all down to 'process' and 'due diligence', and for that I cannot fault my client's system. Ultimately it is when such items come to the fore and they have not been dealt with appropriately that you get your a*se kicked. Big time. 

But - my goodness - the volume of repetitive paperwork! No wonder so many people are employed in these organisations: you need to justify the reading and writing required! It's a good thing they are firm believers (and practitioners) of recycling, otherwise I fear the deforestation of Borneo and the Amazon would be on even more shaky ground.

So, whilst I am whittling away the hours at work, trying to figure out which process takes priority over what paperwork and how to pull together a comprehensive recommendation to the board that will make sense even to the lay men/women amongst them (and yes, I do have a deadline, just in case you were wondering), my training partner, the lovely BB, is off swimming as we get cracking with our triathlon training.

Or rather, she does. 

I have got as far as buying a) new goggles, b) new swimming cap, c) new sports bra (shock absorber, as is 'I am in shock and you are absorbing it'), d) new running pants. 

What I desperately need though is a pair of padded cycling shorts, as the gym session on Tuesday evening left me, well, a bit sore

Like the title says, nothing like procrastination to get you thinking about what is stopping you from training harder.

Yadda yadda yadda...