Dilemmas of a binational lesbian family #1452

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I just got paid. This calls for serious joy and laughter etc. We last had a full pay check on June 30th.

Ouch, right?

Except, the pay is kind of disappointing. I am absolutely not complaining. It’s enough. It’s just that we rented our place based on a different amount, and we are very much about putting something away for the future. So…. We need to re-budget. It’s kind of bye-bye any dreams of whizzing about to different EU cities at the weekends. Especially as I feel my first travel expense, were I to spend, ought to be Tanzania (for my brother’s wedding) or Thailand; nothing really that I would choose to spend loads on were I given a choice. Woe is me (not really).

What happened was simple: I had checked the taxation rate as at 15% and calculated my nett pay accordingly. It has come to me quite short of that amount, and turns out there are many additional contributions payable. Duh.

On the upside, CZ has really cool provision for families – I think we are going to be eligible for Czech parental contributions for children under 4. But not till I have worked a certain amount of time and have contributed into the system. It’s like UK child benefit (which we have missed out on for now).

Either way, we still get enough money to get by, but it is going to be different from Bangkok. I imagine we will still save money- AW enabled us to continue putting money away even when we were IVF and empty-rental-property broke, so I’m sure she will have no issue now either.

So what are we gonna do? I don’t want to run out on my job after 2 years, just at the point when the girls will be starting (at my) school here. However, making this our long term home is not totally simple either. I have made some enquiries and it seems for the residency to mean anything here we will have to be here at least 10 years, which is another game-changer. Instead of staying 4 years as we planned, I guess it will be only 2. However, I do not know what to do after that. Everyone in the UK says it’s fine, but they either already have mortgages, or rent from a council (which is absolutely affordable). There is a true cost-of-living crisis – working families relying on good banks etc. I think what I must do is probably accept that London is out of the question. This is a bitter pill to swallow as London, rather than the UK in general, is the place I regard as my home. Now our immigration barriers are largely broken down, we face the reality of swapping this lovely place for yet more unknowns. I’d feel ok about Brighton, which is a stone’s throw from my parents. But most of the London problems are also present there- high housing costs- but teaching jobs are fewer and further between.

We just have to sit tight, I suppose. I wonder if I just need to think less. At the moment we have so many ‘what if?’s to work through. I can’t see where we’ll be in 5 years. That is tough. Perhaps I need to take stock more carefully of the absolutely fantastic things in my life right now. There are many. I should hold on to that and stop worrying about what might come next. And learn Czech

Life, pressure, nerves. Rest? A jumble of thoughts?

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The half term break is almost upon me. Last week at work was high-stress. However, the weekend was a rich reward and I got through. Prague weekends (even with toddling twins) refresh.

I don’t really know what this blog is about any more. I get very little feedback from readers, although I can see that people ARE reading, which is great. It would be lovely to get a few more comments – what would you like to hear more about? I mean, am I right in thinking that toddlers are just not that gripping? They are not your toddlers, and all toddlers are toddlery, and are amassing new skills all the time. To say that “Toddlers acquire new skill!” lacks originality is a bit of a non-sequiter.

I have always needed to write. When I was young, I kept a diary. I think I will need to throw them away in the end, as no one else ought to see them, ever. I really laid everything bare in there, and can’t even remember what I wrote or felt. I’m not sure I want to read them. Now I write this blog, and even if my readership is small and silent, it still helps me- it orders my thoughts and helps me process emotion. I am the sort of person who has written many outraged / heartrending letters and emails to people who have, offended, hurt or generally mistreated me- without needing to send them to make me feel better. The process itself is cathartic (ok, so I often begin with the intention of sending, but almost always have the prudence to wait till I have had a sleep or whatever, and find that I wake thankful that I only imaginarily said / virtually wrote /drafted my excruciatingly emotive/ deeply personal slaying/ scathing analysis of incompetence etc addressed to the offender. Those imagined readings are enough to help me work through my feelings, usually assured that it is not SUCH a big deal.

Back to now.

So I had the formal lesson observation from my head (one who doesn’t know me – based at the other site in the north of the city); there was a random open day when prospective parents could simply walk in; and in addition, there was parents’ evening (till 7pm). That’s 3 things in a week which subject me to intense scrutiny. That’s a lot on top of the usual duties I contend with.

Furthermore, I’m not the sort that thrives under such conditions. I work well under pressure if the task is, say, writing an assignment for a deadline. But ‘live’ nerves make me ‘do something stupid’ – like not being able to recall what I wanted to say, and instead of winging it, getting paralysed. It was always the same when I was singing in my teens and early 20s. I watch X factor and marvel at the confidence these whippersnappers have.

My work observation went well, however. Very well! I think I have managed to successfully transfer jobs, without cracking. It has not been easy. One of my most difficult students it turns out, is so advanced he’ll be moved up to the year above. We tried it yesterday (the parents suggested it after seeing at the open day that some of the children are only just able to form letters (expected level for their age)). The class dynamic was fantastic without him (he was the only one in the room defiantly not on side) and his two little sidekicks forgot about messing about and worked on their tasks. Having him in a class working at his level, with good behaviour all around him worked better for everyone.

Going back to me, confidence, or the lack of it, has really handicapped me in exploiting my talents- in particular my singing voice. I’m not so badly off and do have a job I love, but I would love to have has the courage to make a go of my singing in some form or another. I was always like a plank of wood when performing; paralysed. And I always keenly felt the ridicule of my father, who detests pop music. Mum would drive me to rehearsals and gigs, but we never had enough exposure for me to overcome my nerves. I still lack self-belief and I’ll be 40 before too long. I have sung at friends’ weddings, and gigs, which I enjoyed on the whole, but even in a relaxed setting I almost always find I’m plagued by my other problem: forgetting the words. I wonder if I’d be able to overcome that with enough rehearsal?

I have one (40-year-old) friend who was 31 when we met, many years ago. She was on the verge of being a rock star, she told me. She still isn’t a rock star and I’m not surprised. I never really liked any of her songs, and it would seem others felt pretty ‘meh’ about them too. But she plugged on and on and on for years… She only stopped when she found a new (and perfect) platform for her exhibitionism: she is a resident DJ with a penchant for stripping off. While it’s a job that I’d not ever want to do and that I’d be 100% terrible at, I do envy the fact that her salary matches mine and she works just a couple of evenings a week. What’s my point here? Well, I suppose that confidence is so highly valued, sometimes (often?) over ability. Not that I want to raise a pair of conceited little bumholes, but I want so much to instil self-confidence into my girls. (Maybe not that sort of famous-for-wapping-yer-baps-out ‘confidence’ – don’t think of that as the sort of career I dream of our girls having). I want them to feel their worth. If they want to do anything, I hope their lack of confidence is not something that holds them back.

Going back to singing, the girls have started- donor was a karaoke king (no confidence issues there) and I have some ability. We have heard ‘twinkle twinkle’ and ‘ABCD’, but the favourite seems to be ‘Rain, rain go away’. They are just toooooo cute.

Anyway, no chance for me to sing at the moment because I can’t go out in the evenings. That’s a decision we have made for now – AW is firmer about it than I am. That is probably because she has put them to bed alone, and Olive screamed for two hours without me and my milk-sacks. I’m not sure I’d be impressed with that if I were babysitting them, so she is probably right. I think we could go over the road though while my mum is visiting..? There is an old cinema across the street which has huge armchairs and serves champagne. It’s starting live shows too, and I want to go to the burlesque one for our 5 year anniversary (which was yesterday). We could easily pop home if there were an olive incident (but she would almost certainly be asleep before we left (show starts at 8)… Anyway I digress.

I hope that wasn’t dull. I guess it might have been. I have added a ‘parenting’ category, so I think I’m drifting into eyeball-peelingly yawny blog territory. Don’t leave me! Sometimes life is boring, I suppose!

Enough new stuff.

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It’s early morning tram time again, and lots has been happening, so here we are:

The key saga
Poor AW was locked out on Wednesday. One of girls, it eventually transpired, had removed them from AW’s packed bag and dropped them on the floor in the flat. Ivy slammed the door closed on the way out before Aw had had a chance to fish for the key in her bag. She had a huge panic and tried unsuccessfully to ask for help but after all managed: to get a taxi; to establish my school’s address; to find me in my classroom to get my keys; not to explode. That was not a good day for her. She left our buggy in the street the whole time and no one ran off with it. But she coped. Proud wife over here.(*waves* ^_^)

The shipping saga
It’s over. We have our belongings (I think I need to part with some of them – I can’t believe how many handbags I a) have; and b) thought they were worth shipping). It is a lot. Nothing was damaged. On delivery I thought that something very helpful about Thailand was highlighted- they always send enough people to do a job properly. Here, I was flabbergasted to greet one lone man to deliver our 18 boxes. To drag 18 boxes from the van, and up to the mezzanine where the lift is, and from the lift up another flight to our place. We plied him with water (sweaty work) and passed him a beer and a tip when he’d finished. Needless to say, there is nowhere to put the handbags (or shoes) in the apartment, and they are staying in a box in the storeroom for a while. Really happy to see my paintings and the girls’ toys. Not so fussed about the ridiculous boxes of documents ‘proving’ our relationship which we began collecting years ago when we imagined we might shimmy on back to the UK on an ‘unmarried partner visa’ (now defunct I believe). I am pretty sure that this path will not require us to use it, especially as we are now married with children and that the EU fully respects that. You never know though, with all this talk the UK pulling out of the EU. Best to be cautious.

The Oh-my-god-my-new-job-is-more-unrelenting-than-my-last saga.
There has barely been a ‘normal’ week, since the start of term. this is the first week we have been on any kind of normal timetable. But it is reports. If there is anything worse than writing student reports, it’s writing them for new eyes, with different emphases and different differentiness. Have I already mentioned how exhausting differentiness + twins is? I think I might have done!! Teaching… I know we get time off which is enviable. But are any of you in a profession which requires you to give presentations to audiences? Isn’t that exhausting? ImagIne if the whole of your job, every day, all today was this- like a salesman with a new product; you are endlessly performing, interacting, questioning. You have to earn the kids’ respect and keep it. Aside from those holidays there is no rest. When you aren’t in performing-monkey-teacher mode you are endlessly shuffling paper. Now I’m getting home, putting the girls to bed and getting my work out to carry on- it is unrelenting. I always had the energy before.

Once everything is just less damned new, I’m sure it will be better. Great even. Glad it’s Friday today! Now I put away my phone for my misty, soul-repairing woodland walk. I hear birdsong.

DOUCHE.BAG.

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Why are some people such douchebags? Why are fairness, thoughtfulness and a smidgen of consideration lost traits?

Thank goodness it isn’t all people, and that I have fair, thoughtful and wonderful people in my life.

(But WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHERS? How can they live with their douchbagginess?)

That’s all.

Which wellies?

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I heed help.

I have never been a tally-Ho, woodsy sort of girl, but perhaps that is because I have never lived near any. In Prague, and particularly my Prague, there are loads of parks and woods and I think I must already have bored you to death with my woodland commute.

The shipping (still not arrived..!!) is bringing me a range of shoes, but the flea-market wellies I bought on a whim have proved priceless. But they are also already in TATTERS. 20140930-103520-38120856.jpgStill better for 20140930-103519-38119004.jpgbad weather, forests and mud than the cute fabric shoes I brought with me from Bangkok, but the only intact bit is the sole.

So, I am carrying them on the way to work till I get to the forest and changing. Then changing out of them on the tram after work. It is a bit annoying. They are just too ridiculous to be seen in passing through Prague’s gorgeous inner-city. They never were subtle (leopard print), and now they are perished and shredded, I feel so stupid in their look-at-me foot-hugs. What’s more, winter is on the horizon. Wellies (and ones which can bear their soles (and uppers) in a city are a must.

But WHICH WELLIES? These are my faves

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(I love bees, i dream one day of keeping them), but the reviews for this supposedly durable brand suggest that I could very soon be walking about in another pair or leaky, split look-at-me feet.

There is certainly no shortage of choice. I do not want heels. That is all.

Any advice? I’m welly confused.