Have you noticed how life is full of surprises and how they always come when you’re preparing for a prolonged period of surpriselessness? No? You must be lucky, then.
Summer, move on
I’ve found in the past that when it’s not yet June and I already yearn for July things are not going the way I want them to go. I was reminded of that rule this Thursday when Little C. came home from school and announced she wants to go to summer school a day after she’d said she didn’t want to go to summer school.
As responsible parents who would never discourage their offspring from gaining additional knowledge about anything, especially nature but also as responsible individuals who had made plans for the whole month of June we were shocked and confused. I hit peak confusion by declaring “But what about my courgettes?” when Big C. suggested we bring Little C. to Sofia for the summer school and stay here for the next two weeks even though the school is one week only.
Soon enough the confusion was chased away by planning and I was completely free to indulge in my favourite of all mental activities: freaking out. The summer school, you see, is in one of the most stunningly magnificent parts of the country, the Rhodope Mountain, and I’m not overselling it by calling it stunningly magnificent. However, mountain means windy roads and the last windy road we traveled on had no guardrails and I intensely dislike windy mountain roads without guardrails. How windy, you might ask. Well, here’s the map. That straight line to Plovdiv is the highway. And the wriggly bit to Devin? That’s all turn after turn after turn after turn through the heart of the mountain.
Funnily enough, my anxiety was much shorter lived than usual. I have a friend, you see, a very close friend. She’s from that region. She also used to work as an EFL teacher for years. These years involved a lot of summer schools. And as she swore to me on Friday, not once did the bus with the kids fall into an abyss by the road. I trust her. She’s a very trustworthy person. She told me the worst that had ever happened on a summer school was kids finding a snake and her freaking out and running away. She didn’t even remember if the snake was alive or dead. She also told me she’d checked and the road to Devin had guardrails.
A car of one’s own
I suppose it’s the natural order of things. Once you master a machine or a toy you’d immediately want to have one of your own to play with. In my case, the intentions were nobler. The other day I drove our car to Little C.’s school and confirmed I need practice on this particular car because it’s not like the car I drove for my lessons. I also confirmed Big C. suffers when he anticipates danger for his car (and its contents, but I’m not that dangerous). So, I thought, why not buy something old and cheap I can do whatever I like with and leave the family’s first and only car alone?
I browsed some second-hand car websites and found it had a certain de-stressing effect. All those cars, many of them not half bad, looking for a new owner. There were amazing finds like a 1973 GAZ vehicle I wouldn’t call an SUV because there’s nothing sporty about it, it’s all utility. Or a true Land Rover from the 90s before they brainwashed their designers into doing no-style shapes they passed as Land Rover. I won’t lie, I picked half a dozen cars I’d like within the price range I’d set myself. None of them were the Land Rover because I know my (current) limits and I’m too young for an offroad monster. And then Big C. shattered my plans.
We were discussing plans for next week and he casually mentioned we could go around the village – with me behind the wheel – and then, on Wednesday, I could take us to town to buy a TV because the Euro Cup starts on the 11th. Also because we need a bigger screen than a laptop for a better view of our third re-watch of Poirot.
Now, I’d thought he was nervous when I was driving his beloved Logan (you say funny brand I say sturdy car. It’s 14 years old, has 100,000 km under its belt and has never broken down). But this time he was speaking so casually about me driving as if it’s a perfectly normal thing, it took me by, yep, surprise. So I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d shortlisted a couple of cute Mazdas and a Volvo C30. He would’ve vetoed the Volvo on aesthetic grounds anyway. And then I would’ve started an argument about all the ancient clothes he still wears instead of retiring them, and I would’ve got the Volvo and a husband who sneers at it every time he walks past it. Marriage is a complex affair.
Motivational question for next week
I edited thirty-eight pages of a manuscript that was supposed to be funny but now feels boring and I need to put an extra effort to make it funny. What unpleasant thing did you do this week?
Book-peddling corner (because books won’t sell/download themselves much as I’d like them to): if you’re in the mood for some dragons and vampires, or mysterious vanishing planes, try The Lamiastriga (which you can’t read for free on this blog) or Sky High (which you can read for free on this blog or on Kobo. I always appreciate feedback). For those in the mood for scary stories, here’s a complete list of my published shorter fiction.