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In which I blame Bill Bryson

Alternative title: I’m huddled in a duvet on the sofa, my partner’s hoodie acting as a comfort blanket, my face puffy from crying, with Millie-Mischief the Bengal patting my head in some weird consolation type thing (or maybe she just likes my hair – who knows what’s going on in her kitty mind) … And yet, part of my brain is wondering just where the hell I can get myself a Stephen Katz to go hike the Appalachian Trail with. 

To me that doesn’t seem unreasonable, to just simply pack a rucksack, select a 3-season tent, grab a shit ton of Jelly Tots (though I’d settle for Fruit Pastilles) and hike all 2,200 miles. Yep, 2,200 MILES. Total doddle that.

Except I’m the lass who whinged and moaned and turned the air a lovely shade of dark blue during her last jaunt up Helm Crag – which incidentally, is a drop in the proverbial ocean compared with the Appalachian Trail! Much like with running, I love the idea of it … But when actually running/hiking, I bitch for England about how unfair it is and how my poor feet are going to end up as giant blisters which will eventually pop and end up stuck to my socks.

Maybe I’ve got this all wrong …

Maybe I should be looking for a Bryson to hike with because clearly, I’m the Katz!

Now dear reader, you’re probably wondering (and I don’t blame you in the slightest) just what the balls I’m talking about here. Well, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with Bill Bryson and the Appalachian Trail ever since I acquired a copy of “A Walk in the Woods” at the Southbank Book Market (I spent more time at those stalls admiring the plethora of literature than I did anywhere else when I lived in London – The Donmar Warehouse being a close second) … An obsession rekindled recently by actually watching the movie based on the book.

My counsellor and GP have advised time out to just experience grief, to just allow myself to feel the overwhelming gut-wrenching despair and to just cry. And bloody hell can I cry! Granted the GP also gave me a prescription for sleeping pills but after my body’s recent fall-out with antidepressants I’m trying to give medication of any kind a wide berth (with the exception of my Thyroxine obviously).

Which leads me to contemplating the Appalachian Trail while lying on the sofa with snot crusted around my nostrils, because while I’m trying to adjust to the gaping wound that losing a beloved parent leaves behind, I’m also trying to deal with my brain telling me that I’m wasting my life. My dad was 57 when he died, I’m 32 next birthday … And I’m terrified that I have achieved nothing of worth. Which my brain (or possibly my Anankastic Personality Disorder?) is equating to mean that I am nothing of worth (thanks brain, great deduction skills there, a veritable Sherlock Holmes in the making).

Now if you think about it logically I am achieving nothing by lying on the sofa maudlin about the fact I am achieving nothing … Or, another way of thinking about it, is that I’m having an existential crisis brought on by having mortality thrown in my face. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that eventually I would have to face up to losing a parent, I was just naive enough to believe that this would be when my parents had reached a ripe old age and were living a Benidorm-esque existence in an accommodation called “Happiness Place” (or something equally shit) warranting the manager of the nursing home to call me 5 or 6 times a day to tell me that they were causing mayhem (or stealing custard creams). I should point out that my dad always wanted to go into a home purely to indulge his prankster side so it wasn’t that I ever wanted to ship them off somewhere, more that it was just assumed they would end up there … Together.

All this has culminated in me suddenly NEEDING to do something with my life RIGHT NOW … I’m not entirely sure what as my thoughts seems to go into overdrive and I end up with lists upon lists upon lists of things. BUT, as I mentioned in my post regarding my Personality Disorder, achieving anything on the list may well be a poisoned chalice. I may complete one thing only to bounce to another and another and another, merely collecting them.

Surely though, doing something is better than doing nothing … Even if that something is actually acknowledging the worth of the things I have already achieved … Or acknowledging my own self worth.


In which I blame Bill Bryson | LHB Blog

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it…” – Nicholas Sparks 💕 (Pic is from my Insta)


So, I’m not only blaming Bill Bryson for my new found desire to hike the whole of the Appalachian trail, but I’m also blaming Bill Bryson for highlighting the fact that I can’t just sit on my ass (or hide under my duvet fort) and wallow. Well, not much … Sometimes I need a good wallow … But hopefully not as much wallowing as I’ve done recently. After all, I’m pretty sure my dad would be real pissed to find me bawling my eyes out over (yet another) cold cup of coffee or bowl of plain Udon noodles while wearing the same clothes I’ve been living (and sleeping) in for the last 2 weeks … Actually, he would probably have made me a fresh cup of coffee (or sugary tea), made an omelette (because that was his specialty) and made sure we talked things through (while making me promise to shower and change so I didn’t stink the place out further).

As my counsellor says “it’s time to let him (my dad not Bill Bryson, obviously) into my life” – which is very weird considering he was a major part of my 31 and a bit years on this planet but also makes complete sense. Shying away from grief in the hopes it will stop the hurt only serves to push him out of my life … And I don’t want that. I’ll never want that.

It’s time to let him into my life.

It’s time I started trying to heal.

It’s time I bought a bloody map of the Appalachian Trail (maybe).

R x

PS – If you (or someone you know) has been (or is being) affected by Cancer, then I can highly recommend Macmillan – they are amazing folks!


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  1. I’m sorry for your loss. There is nothing quite like losing a parent. It totally knocks you sideways. Good luck finding you own way through. #PoCoLo

    • Ruebi

      It does indeed knock you sideways (I like that phrasing!) … Losing the very person you’d usually go to in situations like this for support is just so peculiar! x

  2. I love Bill Bryson! And I wanted to hike the AT for a long time, too. I finally settled on doing the West Highland Way and I think that checked that item off the list for me!

    • Ruebi

      Oooo how long is the West Highland Way? I’ve been slowly trying to convince my other half that doing the AT will be such an amazing (if painful) experience that it needs to be done … It’s not going well so far as he prefers his feet without blisters, lmao!

  3. Brilliant post. I love your honesty and perhaps you should get that map, but maybe build up to it a bit 😉 #weekendblogshare

    • Ruebi

      I’ve been promised a new pair of Asolo hiking boots for my birthday … And a few trips to the Lake District.

      The AT is definitely on my bucket list now though! 😀

  4. suzie

    A beautiful, raw, honest post.
    Wishing you the best of luck with the Appalachian trail.

    • Ruebi

      Thank you Suzie! No doubt if I actually get a chance to hike it I will need a lot of luck … And Compeed! 🙂

  5. This was absolutely beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss. (I really hate saying that because I know it doesn’t do shit to ease the pain.) If it would make you feel any better, I’ll personally find Bill Bryson and bring him to you. Just say the word.

    Thanks for linking up to #ShowMeYours ….

    • Ruebi

      Thank you lovely! It’s always difficult to know what to say when bereavement comes up isn’t it? … It’s also difficult to know what to say in response to those words … Usually I’ll just offer a cup of tea as a way of saying “thank you”!

      And heck yeah, holler at him! If Bill Bryson is willing to take me up on the AT offer I will dust off my ole faithful Asolo boots right now! 🙂 x

  6. I love your writing as always sweet girl, grief is a hard thing. I remember feeling exactly the same after watching a similar film hiking the prilegrim walk from France to Spain like I’d even be capable. Grief is a strange thing.

    • Ruebi

      Grief is a very strange thing indeed … It’s such a hard thing to explain to other people too! It’s left me questioning pretty much every aspect of my life (can we say existential crisis?!), what my life does to benefit other people and what I want to change about it! Plus I can go from “I have my shit together” to uncontrollable bawling in mere seconds, it’s quite unnerving!

      What was the film called? I think I’d like to watch that! 🙂

  7. Get the map! Start small and dream big. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re grieving and I too had the same urge to just grab a bag and dissapear when I watched the film, for me it was exam stress that was making me run away. I hope you find what you’re looking for xx

    Sophia x http://sophiawhitham.co.uk

    • Ruebi

      Thank you Sophia! I’ve decided to aim for hiking the Wainwrights … But I’ll be keeping my eye on the AT! I hope the exams went well, they can be such stressful things xx

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