Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spanx for the memory

Wardrobe changes: 3
Ciggies craved: 37
Alcohol craved: 3 litres
Ciggies/alcohol consumed: 0 (v.good)
Public humiliation rating: 5 (no human witnesses, just laughing dog)
Glamour quotient: 2 (good intentions don't count)

7 a.m.:
Wake up determined to make world sit up and take notice today. Long indigo-ink coloured hooded dress with heeled ankle boots the way to stun fellow Athenian commuters with funky, Boho chic presence striding through their midst. With a little help from new Spanx pants (guaranteed to smoothe sihouette and eliminate unsightly lumps and bumps).

7.10 a.m.:
Spanx proving less user-frendly than imagined. At first sight look big enough for average Barbie doll, despite XL label in back (Note to self: remove all incriminating/depressing labels).
But they're highly elasticated - aren't they? A baby elephant can squeeze into them, according to online adverts.
Easier said than done. Baby elephant in ad must be bulimic.

7.20 a.m.:
Manage to get Spanx above knee level. Ease them crotchwards with deep knee bends and series of Sumo-style leg waggles.
Finally, success. Look Mum, no tum! Upper thigh flab a thing of the past. Wobbly buttocks tamed.
Breath only comes in short shallow bursts, but look fabulously streamlined.

7.30 a.m.:
OH asks why my face is going blue, and "What are those lumps above your knees?" (all that suppressed fat has to go somewhere).
Give up, and breathe. Roll of fat appears above Spanx top like second set of boobs.

7.45 a.m.:
Throw dress and Spanx in sorry pile in corner. Jump into smart jeans and deep V-necked top (anything to distract attention from chunky bum). Hurtle out door for the bus.
Am accomplished, dynamic woman of wit and wisdom. Who needs washboard stomach and legs like pipecleaners?
Trip over own ankle. Good thing I bounce.

Spend most of morning commute with arms crossed over chest after weasel-like midget leers into my cleavage.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A God named Guildford?

Oh Sheesh. Mondays are not my friend. Always takes me a while to get into the swing of working week. Head down to try to tame the work beast and stop everything running out of control and trampling over me... Less said the better.

Evening better, if slightly surreal. No.1 demands bedtime story (he's 12, for God's sake!). I say I've forgotten them all and that HE should tell ME one.

He does - and it's the epic tale of a God named Guildford....
Will have to wait til tomorrow to find out what this heroic deity gets up to. Too busy rolling round on floor in hysterics to pay attention tonight. Stop briefly, tears rolling down cheeks, to explain to No.1 that Guildford is boring town in England, home to University of Surrey and world's most inexplicable one-way system.
Can't wait for the next exciting installment. Maybe we'll hear all about his Stockbroker Utility Belt?

Try to watch "Contact" before beddy-byes, but OH keeps zapping to Party Political BS and football. Have patience of saint. Count to ten, repeatedly, adding "Just six more days" (before election) mantra over and over again...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Family duty & laughing dogs...

Glam factor: a.m. 9 (mascara, lippy & heels)/p.m. 0 (none of the above)
Brownie points earned: 10
Caffeine intake: Moderate - 1 Greek coffee, 2 teas
Kilometres walked: 8

Off to cemetery, all in black, for 6 month memorial for OH's aunt. Worry about whether appropriately dressed (no need, as it turns out). Twenty years in Greece and still struggle to understand the Mediterranean need to revisit grief at regular intervals. But, hey ho, that's the way it is, so stand respectfully as priest does his bit (though little thrown when he tells the gathered mourners "All together now"...). Ignore sideways glances when I refuse to cross myself.

File into cemetery cafeteria for obligatory thimble-full of sweet Greek coffee and glass of brandy, and make small talk (not a strong point). Despite lack of genuflecting, have earned bonus points for good behaviour.

Off for daily stomp, the very image of dynamic post-modern woman in trainers and sportswear - until ankle betrays me and I plunge floorwards. Land on hands and knees with all the elegance of hippo in a tutu, shredding palms in the process.
Swear stray dog across the road is laughing at me.
Get up, dust myself down, keep on stomping.

Hour later, nearing home, pass two Goth-babes around 17. Both have carefully constructed nests of hair and expressionless black & white painted faces (do they DO Botox for under-20s?). They look - and smell - enbalmed. Am certain didn't look quite so ridiculous as a post-Punk/New Romantic in the '80s - or did I?

Open front door to find Mother-in-Law & Father-in-Law in lounge, watching football (it'll be politics and the shouty snarling people next - Greece goes to the polls in a week). Settle down at laptop, claiming that duty calls.

MIL starts telling OH what furniture to get for No.1's revamped room. OH doesn't agree. MIL insists - repeatedly. OH gets cross, starts shouting. FIL says "Let them do what they want". MIL descends into glowering sulk.

Lay low, tapping away at keyboard, avoiding the crossfire.
(Dontcha just love families?)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Caffeine intake: 5 cups tea
Hours up a ladder: 3
Calories burned: 2,546 (approx)
Calories consumed: ???? (hope springs eternal)
Productive Mummy Brownie points earned: 50
Glamour quotient: 2 (mascara in place, but no lippy)

Winnie is no more. After more than a decade, Bear of Very Little Brain, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Owl & Christopher Robin sent back to Hundred Acre Wood by Action Mummy armed with bowl of warm water, wallpaper scraper and Radio 4 online. After spending most of last weekend listening to OH's bright ideas to revamp No.1's bedroom (delivered from comfort of armchair) decided time was right to Just Do It.

OH conveniently working this morning, so left alone to get on with it.
No.1 offers to help out by watching Saturday morning cartoons and playing video games.

Three hours later, shoulder muscles screaming, hair filled with fragments of shredded Winnie & Co., step back to survey fruits of my labour. Clean, light and ready for Steps 2-4. Excellent. Am international Woman of Action. Am also in need of shower.

Next steps?
2) Polyfiller & sandpaper
3) New paint (several coats)
4) Raid IKEA for super-cool pseudo industrial teenage furniture.

Is end of month, therefore strapped for cash. Also OH more of a thinker/talker than do-er. This may take some time...

Til then, No.1 has to put up with new grafitti sketch of peepers and "Big Mummy is watching you" on bedroom wall.
Maybe THAT will spur 'em on?

Invited to Spiros & Tasia for booze & eats (special deviation from standard 'slap some flesh on the barby' menu to accommodate awkward buggers like me who don't eat meat). No.1 and their daughter N studiously casual with each other despite chemistry over the summer. N's little bro, V, is determined to make royal pest of himself and bring N to screeching point (doesn't take long).

Tease Panayiotis - from a village up a Cypriot mountain, therefore more Greek than most Greeks - that us ex-pats have to stick together. Not sure if he 'gets' my English irony.

After 4 glasses of wine, am super Scrabble Mistress - in Greek. In team with 6-year-old V, trounch No.1 & N who look on in disgust as we run victory lap round the living room. Especially proud of word that won us 48 points on triple word score: "ΧΕΣΩ" (the verb 'to shit'). Sometimes is good to be grown-up and able to say bad words without having mouth washed out with bar of Fairy green soap.

Fall into bed in haze at 3am. Tomorrow a.m. must be bright-eyed/bushy tailed for Memorial service to mark 6 months since the death of OH's aunt.
May need to wear Jackie O. shades...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Off the wagon

Have strayed from the path of righteousness, and fallen off the veggy wagon. Polished off the leftovers of No.1's spag carbonara, instead of a second round of yesterday's scorched bean stew (renamed Mandi's Smokey Fasolada).

In defence of self, am Mistress of Carbonara. And tucking into bean stew two days running may get me reported to UN for contravening international treaties restricting use of chemical weapons. Will dive into vat of green tea in penance.

Work, work, work. They keep sending me work to do (don't they know it's nearly the weekend?), so will be tapping away well past 'Gray's Anatomy' for fear of getting behind (thus being rumbled for a charlatan and summarily dismissed as worthless slacker without a smidge of talent).

Now, No.1 expects me to help him with homework. Doesn't he KNOW I'm a gibbering idiot?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barefoot anniversary

Caffeine intake: GALLONS of tea
Glamour rating: Minus 53
No. of years married: 15!

a.m.: Bit of a scuzzy, not yummy, mummy today.

Working from home (ain't technology grand?). Sitting barefoot in front of the screen, tapping away without a thought to who might be judging my clothes, hair, make-up, etc.

Freedom from the tyranny of: Has my hair flopped like a failed souffle or is it sticking up like a deranged Einstein wannabe?/Does blue eyeshadow make me look wanton?/Are my boobs doing the two-cup shuffle as they creep above my bra?
Bliss in blue jeans.

In Earth Mother mode, make bean casserole. Get caught up in Career Woman mode, chained to the keyboard, before noticing a slight 'edge' to smell of cooking beans. Leap up in panic, burn fingers on hot pot, pour out unscorched gloop into other pan, discard black crispy bits and rename dish 'Mandi's Smokey Fasolada'. Yummy! (Fingers crossed that No.1 doesn't notice).

Not sure what to think of today's wedding anniversary. Feel ancient and past-it? Congratulate self & OH for staying power (we've lasted longer than most international treaties, after all)? Weep at demise of carefree days long gone? Hope for flowers before the day ends? Shave underarms and glam up for the evening? Or make another cup of tea?

Alcohol consumed: Half bottle of Merlot (hic!)
Ciggies craved: 17
Smoked: 0 (pat on back)

Another cuppa is best option as it turns out. OH calls to ask what he should bring home for our "special" day. Resist urge to drop heavy hints involving luxury chocs, exotic blooms and a girl's best friend. Tell him not to be silly, and not to bring anything (we are skint, after all).

Listen slack-jawed and in abject ignorance as No.1 recites Ancient Greek homework (and then translates to everyday, comprehensible Modern Greek). Am clearly a gibbering idiot. How did I produce such a prodigy? Remember that 12-year-olds around the country are doing the same thing - the equivalent of Year 7 pupils in the UK being fluent in Chaucer-esque - quite a tall order when most of the population don't know what an apostrophe is for...

[Note to self: Re-read "The Canterbury Tales", and make extra effort to get the Wife of Bath's dirty jokes this time]

OH trundles in holding... work bag and sports section.
No flowers, no chocs, no "Oh darling, you shouldn't have!" surprises. He listened when I said bring nothing (Today he chooses to listen to me?)

To be fair, am still in jeans and scuzzy t-shirt, no face gloop, and yesterday's hair. No special anniversary dinner is waiting on table with elegant candles and classy wine.
Am own worst enemy, sometimes....
...Will make up for it tomorrow with sexy spaghetti.

Off to beddy-byes and the dulcet tones of OH's snores that have been my lullaby for more than 15 years (you thought the bags under my eyes were hereditary?).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Caffeine intake: Starbucks latte (hardly counts as
coffee), 3 cups of tea
Days since stopped smoking: 1,169 (excellent)
Stray hairs plucked: a small forest's worth (gah!)
Kilometres walked: 8

Alarm screams at 7am. Hit the snooze button.
07.05 Bleeping alarm again. OH opens eyes, asks “Why’ve you gone half a loo roll wrapped round your leg?”, then goes back to sleep.

Get up, turn on light in No.1’s bedroom, shower, kick him out of bed….
Hey ho! Another day, another Drachma (oops, sorry, Euro).

Consider yesterday's choice of office outfit. Nah. Today is definitely NOT a green floral shirt & jeans day. Drag out smart pinstripe trousers and black top with funky necklacey type thing (trousers feeling decidely loose around waist - excellent!). Leave house feeling the very image of post-modern, supercool, professional yummy mummy.

Work passes in a blur of e-mails, internet connection problems, crashing computers, and online Radio 4 for intellectual stimulation (am dead high-brow, me).

Autumn is here but the office thinks it's still summer. Air conditioning on full blast. Toes & nose frozen. Have to cross arms over chest to hide CNS (Chilled Nipple Syndrome). CNS cured the minute I leave the building. Train ride and station-to-home walk later, forehead & frozen nips are coated in sweat - v. attractive.

OH is home before me - again (but dishes I ignored last night still waiting in the sink).

Shoes off, jeans on. Fix healthy couscous with veg (in Domestic Goddess mode, despite dishes rotting to my left). Eat, and add to the Leaning Tower of Pizza Plates. Tomorrow will put Martha whatserface to shame with creativity and neatness in kitchen.

Tonight, vino, OH and a crappy movie...

Better late than never

Caffeine intake: WAY too much
Alcohol intake: Not enough
Days since stopped smoking: 1,168 (v.good)
Ciggies smoked: 0 (v.v. good)
Ciggies craved: 93 (not so good)
Stray hairs plucked: 4
Kilometres walked: 7
Chocolates eaten: 0 (am v. virtuous)
Weight: Don’t even go there – km walked & chocs not scoffed having no effect

Dear Diary,

I know it’s not really the ‘done thing’ to start a diary in September, but I only came across you this week when I ventured into the Black Pit (a.k.a. the spare room, where all manner of junk goes to die – or breed, not sure which) to unearth an exercise book that No.1 (& Only) Son needed for school.

There you were, winking at me innocently from atop of a pile of free never-to-be-watched DVDs, silently accusing me of my good intentions back in January.

Oh well, better late than never.

S'pose I’d better introduce myself first (it’s only polite after all). I was born in the south of England at the end of 1964, which means I am part of Generation X (sounds much more interesting than “Hello, I’m from Surrey”). In 1989, after my first (and very stupid) marriage that went pear-shaped and a series of disastrous attempts at relationships, I threw a wobbly about men, Britain, my brilliant career (ha!), etc. and packed it all in to come to Greece for six months. Or so I thought.
Then I met Nikos. 20 years later, we’re married with a millstone-like mortgage and a 12-year-old son to show for it.

Thanks to that millstone, and the habit of a lifetime, I’m a working mum. Since hitting the big 4-0, all illusions of immortality have melted away, so I try to eat right, exercise every day and keep off the demon fags. Oh, AND look drop-dead gorgeous at all times and keep my man happy in every room of the house (remember what Jerry Hall had to say about the bedroom, the kitchen, etc?).

Yeah, right… That’s the Cosmo-inspired dream.
Reality bites.

Aaaannnnyway… Today.
Ignore 7am alarm, crawl out of bed at 7.15, kick No.1 Son out of bed & have argument about breakfast/schoolwear/homework, reject last night’s outfit choice, empty wardrobe in search of perfect emsemble, revert to last night’s choice, slap gloop on face. No.1 ignores my pleas for kiss before leaving, Other Half snores through my parting hug and I stumble out door and head for bus stop. Feel invisible (quite an achievement when you’re 5 ft 10 and unmentionable dress size).

Athens public transport for hour’s trip to office. Sit-down on bus (good, chance to read & look intelligent), stand all the way on train (bad, blisters already bubbling in new shoes). Try to adopt confident, casual and sashaying walk from station to office. Stumble over unseen pothole, lose all credibility, try to slink unnoticed to desk.

Eight hours tapping away, trying to look industrial, bashing out words for other people. Then home-time. Rewind morning commute.

Decide to be virtuous and walk last 20 mins from station to house. Regret decision 5 mins later as new-shoes blisters re-awaken.

Home to OH & No.1. They ignore me. Teenage pursuits and YET MORE shouty Greek party political blah on telly (elections in coupla weeks - hooray!) far more interesting than me. Make tea, ignore messy kitchen, and dive into cyberspace in a sulk.

Tired, time for bed. Bored. Restless. Can’t sleep. Remember washing not done, unironed clothes, bills not paid, zits not squeezed. Get up and shave legs. Hunt for Band Aid to stem gushing flow of blood from nicked ankle. Compromise with toilet paper. Fall back into bed.

(Note to self: Must make future diary entries more interesting – anyone who finds diary will think am most boring middle-aged wimp ever.)