Wednesday, March 31, 2004

music to cook to
Bunkka Paul Oakenfold, particularly tracks 1, 3 and 5.
Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex O.S.T. track 11 Inner Universe - Amazon don't stock this CD and it's quite tricky to track down, but so, so worth it!
Titan AE Soundtrack track 9 Karma Slave by Splashdown
Human Traffic Soundtrack disk 2, track 3, Under the water by Brother Brown feat. Frank'ee
Anything at all by Squirrel Nut Zippers, but make sure you listen to Put a Lid On It
it's all greek to me
got a friend coming over for dinner tonight. K and I used to share a flat in Greece - we were English teachers for a year - we'd never met before and I was nervous about flatsharing, but fate provided me with a good friend just when I needed one most. today I'm going to make good use of my leisure time, I will be cooking:
  • spanakotyropitakia

  • dolmadakia yalantzi

  • saganaki

  • salata horiatiki

  • melitzanos salata

  • tzatziki

  • domates yemistes

  • bamies laderes

  • and finally...
  • baklava

  • and, if I'm brave enough to attempt them,
  • diples (pronounced: dipla(s))


  • yassou portokali Kate, aspro pato kouklamou!

    UPDATE: couldn't find any beef tomatoes so no domates yemistes, whipped up some hummus, bought sourdough bread and kalamata olives at Bloomsbury Cheeses, the animator brought home Columbian coffee from Monmouth, flowers and Godiva chocolates(!)...and my diples were a disaster :-) everything else turned out great though. Now I'm just waiting for things to finish cooking and for Kate to show up.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2004

    vanity press
    I feel a bit odd about posting my 'creative' writing here. I'd welcome feedback, but at the same time I know how raw this stuff is - read unpolished, first draft - and am unsure whether it's fit to be judged/read. I don't want to insult my readers with slack writing! So err, sorry if it's crap, you don't have to read it.

    Monday, March 29, 2004

    notes for a novel
    think of these as preparatory notes, sketches, fragments to be fleshed out soon...

    Hero: an autobiography

    Elisabeth is a stranger to me, but I have to find her, have to learn her, so that I can be her. I am lucky, lots of people say they knew her, and she has left me clues – she wrote letters and two journals, one on paper and, latterly, one online. To live the life that she stepped out of and be seen to recover, I must first recover Elisabeth. If you were to be baptised by music what song would you choose? I was welcomed into the communion of the living by PJ Harvey. I was born fully formed, clothed in a hospital gown. The notes drifted to me as though through water. I was down deep and they were so far away. I reached for the sound, for the words, strange-familiar sounds. A woman’s voice:
    “Dear god life aint kind. People getting born and dyin’. But I’ve heard there’s joy untold. Legs open like a road – in front of me.”
    Latching on to the sounds as a way back up, my awareness grew: first light and shadow, then shapes. The ceiling was white, that gave me no clue as to who I was, aren’t all ceilings white, don’t they all have cracks? The music changed, now she sang ‘it’s a perfect day’ and perhaps it was. The room held more than the music and my sheet-covered body, in a corner was an orange moulded plastic chair with metal legs and, sitting on the chair, a man. I held his gaze. He looked tired, haggard and joyful.
    As if ordained, the song changed, whispered: ‘the beauty of her in electric light’.
    The man spoke, ‘Can you hear me?’
    I nodded. Dragging the chair he moved closer, held my hand. I looked at my hand in his and saw that I was wearing a wedding ring, the pair of his. Now the mystery grew. My throat raw and jaw stiff I still managed to ask:
    ‘Who am I and who are you?’
    I think that was more than a month ago – for me time passes unevenly – and since then I’ve come to understand a few things. I know that Elisabeth had a bad car crash, came off the road and hit a tree. She was taken to hospital. She was found unconscious, in a coma. That coma lasted for three days. During those three days Elisabeth’s husband didn’t leave her side. Remembering, as everyone does, that music can often be heard by those in a coma, he asked a friend to bring in Elisabeth’s favourite CDs and played them constantly. So it was that I woke to hear PJ Harvey singing. Today Elisabeth’s husband brought me ‘home’.
    Elisabeth is a stranger to me, but I have to find her, have to learn her, so that I can be her. I am lucky, lots of people say they knew her, and she has left me clues – she wrote letters and two journals, one on paper and, latterly, one online. To live the life that she stepped out of and be seen to recover, I must first recover Elisabeth.

    ---

    Tom is patient, kind, but he recognises the absence as much as I do. I ask him if it’s like a being caught up in a zombie movie.
    “I see your mannerisms, the way you move, the things that catch your eye and I know that you are still my Elisabeth,” he said.
    His faith is touching. With no memory I have no identity there is nothing to anchor this me to her ’I’. I am trying to learn my lines but the page is blank. I must walk in Elisabeth’s shoes, clothe myself in her fashion and follow the traces of her footsteps. I feel like a detective, but clueless.
    Tom is excited to be driving me back to the house that was their home. I am not fearful of being in a car, but I am fearful of arriving. Every object, every sight is another chance for Tom to reach out to Elisabeth, another memory for me to learn. He fills the silence with explanations and stories; nothing it seems is without significance.
    “It feels odd to see you in the passenger seat, you usually drive. Even though it went against your environmental ethics to be using the car, you so love to drive.
    If you look out of the window to the left you can see BT tower and there’s Centre Point, your sense of direction is terrible so you always looked for landmarks. Do any of these buildings look familiar? Watching you navigate and learn routes by rote – a litany of landmarks and street names – was always fascinating.”
    I realise that Tom is trying the same approach: he is laying a trail of breadcrumbs for Elisabeth to follow home.
    “We’ve lived in this area for the last four years, although only two years in our current flat. You chose this flat and you chose our last flat too, you’re not always very good at remembering me. Oh shit, sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that, it’s just that, oh damn.”
    Tom subsides into embarrassed silence. He stops the car outside a tall redbrick building. Home isn’t a house after all. Why did I think it would be? We walk into a clean, but not luxurious lobby. Tom opens the lift door for me. Seeing my hesitation he pushes the button. Home is a small flat on the eighth floor, the top floor. I follow Tom’s lead, turn right and right again to reach a dark green front door. He unlocks it top and bottom.
    “Here. We’re home again. Home again, home again jiggety jig.”

    ---

    Tom is making tea. Earl Grey is apparently my favourite I take it white with no sugar. Earlier he showed me around the flat, it didn’t take long it’s very compact. Immediately to the left of the front door is the bathroom; only there’s no bath, just a shower, toilet and basin. Tom shows me how powerful the shower is – apparently this is one of the first things Elisabeth checked for when flat hunting.
    “Here’s our room,” he said, “I don’t want to crowd you, so I’ll sleep in the other room while you’re getting better.”
    The bed dominates the room. It’s low to the floor, squat and plain. Made out of red-stained wood it is incredibly solid. Tom saw me staring.
    “I made this bed just before we met, you always loved that we were the only people to have slept in it, although you took a long time to get used to the futon. It’s really quite firm. Good for the back.”
    The bedroom walls are white, the furniture mismatched and cheap looking. The room seems divided into two, on one side the surfaces are bare save for a wedding photo in a silver frame, on the other side chaos reigns – clothes are bundled in piles along with paper, books, pens and folders.
    “Which side is mine?”
    “You sleep on the right.” Tom says looking at the crumpled pillows. “Sorry, I should have made the bed this morning.”
    “Don’t worry, perhaps we ought to change the sheets?”
    I don’t want Tom to know that I don’t want to sleep in their bed, that it seems like he’s betraying his Elisabeth by wanting me to sleep in her place. Luckily he doesn’t notice my reluctance.
    “How stupid of me, of course we’ll change the sheets. I should have done it before collecting you, I’m sorry, I know how much you love clean sheets.”
    I looked at him oddly, the question on my lips.
    “I haven’t been following your routine, I didn’t do the laundry on Monday, there have been so many other things going on. It’s so good to have you home again. Not because of the laundry.”
    Tom’s explanations grind to a halt and we both looked embarrassed.

    ---

    Looking at the reflection in a bedroom mirror, I am trying to reconcile my nascent awareness of self with the woman staring back at me. ‘Let’s start at the beginning,’ I said, ‘where else is there?’ But where exactly in time and space does the identity that got lost begin?
    Tom – I can’t help thinking of him as a stranger, as her husband, disconnected to this tenuous ‘me’, but I’m hopeful that with time and practice the name won’t seem so cold on my tongue – has been telling me how he met Elisabeth and playing Lamb CDs to me. Tom tries to contextualise with music, to reach his Elisabeth beneath my uncomprehending gaze; his faith in its redemptive power reinforced by his success with PJ Harvey.
    I’m going to note down the details as he told them to me so that I can memorise them. Later I’ll cross-reference with Elisabeth’s journal and with any other accounts I hear that catch an echo of her voice or a fleeting glimpse of her face.
    Tom and Elisabeth met via an online dating site. He contacted her first. The last line of her description attracted him: ‘time wasters need not apply’. I’m thankful that he has kept their email correspondence, but not sure how much importance to give it. Is this four years out of date Elisabeth the self I need to become? Even with Tom as my only witness, I am aware that there are a multitude of Elisabeths to hunt down.
    At first her replies are short one-liners. Tom wrote from home first thing in the morning. His emails are full of detail whereas her responses are pinched and reading the back and forth between them I think her lack of engagement is obvious. Tom says he was discouraged and nearly gave up on her.
    If there was a turning point, Tom thinks that it was this unexpected response:

    First the disclaimer. I get the impression that you want more from me, but I’m writing this in my lunch hour at work in a busy office so I don’t have the luxury of well thought out letters. And anyway, email isn’t conducive to the kind of letters that get anthologised in later years, even if I was capable of writing those kinds of things, which I’m not.
    I was thinking about what to write to you last night to be more open as you’d asked and settled upon describing my biggest ambition, to understand this is, at least in part, to understand me. I want to build my own house. Not because I’m impossible to please, though that may be the case, but because I want intimate knowledge of every brick, girder, beam that shelters me. I want it to be a house of many rooms, for there to be space to dance on a sprung hardwood floor. I want the windows to be large – full of sunlight in summer, cloaked by heavy crimson velvet curtains in winter. I want the furniture in my house to be handcrafted. I value the simple and well made over the bright and gaudy. Texture is important for if you do not value how things feel against the skin you live a dead, numb life. Colour is energy on so many levels, I want the flexibility and purity of white so that wild and swirling accents can enter, become intimate and leave without ever being permanent enough to weigh upon my heart. And if I were to second-guess my future self I’d predict that tempestuous squalls of blue and green would be forever making their way through the rooms chased by luxuriously fleshy pinks.
    Pottery. There is something so wonderfully solid about pottery, as if in every glazed pot, no matter how modern, there beats the heart of a Paleolithic Venus ready to nourish and succour us.
    As to where this house will be… Near the sea, surrounded by a lush garden of scented herbs and vegetable delights. If this sounds unbearably bucolic I make no apologies. In fact I’d rather live within walking distance of all the urban amenities – the galleries, markets and theatres – though how to strike a balance eludes me.

    Although this tells me a little about who I am supposed to be, it gives me nothing to hold onto. It is such an oblique turning point. Why was Tom attracted to this woman? I need an anchor. His response tells me nothing, except that he too would like to build his own home and create a Zen garden. I know that Tom weights this email with an immense importance, but why? I need to stop reading the courtship correspondence, as he calls it, and attempt to assimilate for a while.

    ---

    Tom has left me alone for the morning. He needed time away from me I think, since he can’t mourn Elisabeth’s disappearance with her face in the room.
    Elisabeth’s journal is heavy in my lap. Ring-bound it is covered in velvet the colour of fresh oxygenated blood, ruby. The pages are lined and her handwriting is erratic. Instead of starting at its beginning I am trying to find entries that match up with her email courtship with Tom. Each page is dated and, rather strange, postcoded. Elisabeth records herself in time and space. She moves around, frequently. Flicking through the pages I see Tripoli, NoHo, Melbourne and a clutch of different London addresses – none lasting for more than a few months. Time is unevenly folded, a beaten up concertina, months can pass with no entries then, for a week or two, every day deserves comment, sometimes a single day will have two or three entries. The long silences are never explained, never remarked upon.
    I find the page I’m looking for: 1 July 2000. This is the day that Tom first emailed her. The entry is short and looks hurried; the blue biro ink scuttling across the page.

    Sunday, 1 July 2000, NW10
    Burning up, consumed from the inside out, skin like salted crackling. Cold shower earlier did nothing to soothe the heat of my thoughts. Helen in a white shift looking as though she had stepped straight out of H.D.’s imagination. I’m choking here need a breeze, cool air across my face. Planning to escape London soon, escape Helen’s gaze.
    Work is an endless litany of details. Put in long hours today on the proofs, but still way behind schedule and find that I have no concentration for it. Crave cool stone corridors and darkness, a monastery cell, the scent of Mediterranean air, the clarity of lemon oil. Yet my mind returns to Helen, always Helen. My thoughts scatter and rearrange themselves – iron filings drawn to her without will or purpose.
    Bleeding today, but with no sense of release. Blood is slow and dark, jellied by the heat perhaps. As ever, I’m loath to dam its stream. Nor will I dam (should that be damn?) this tide of passion, the trickle of sweat, this meandering account.
    At what point does lust end and love begin?

    The next page is covered with dried blood. So much to ask Tom. Does he know Helen; does he even know of Helen and what of H.D.? Should I read on until Tom is mentioned? I’ve looked at the wrong date anyway; she would have only read his opening letter the next day in the office. The next entry is several days later, she is still writing only short emails to Tom at this point.

    Wednesday, 4 July, NW10
    When, when will I be free of this schedule? Already books are going to press weeks later than they should. My brain is being fried by London’s dry heat. The air is unmoving and the pavements unforgiving. No word from Helen since the weekend, it seems she took the whispering breeze with her. I ache. I read today that fishermen have a phrase for the turning of the tide – they say the sea reconsiders. Is now a good time to launch ships or should I reconsider? It is, after all, Independence Day. What, I wonder, would the Americans advise?

    I feel as though I’ve arrived late for a play – so many names and unknown characters. I must ask Tom for a list of dramatis personae. It seems the narrator is being upstaged already and the leading man is waiting in the wings and refuses to be hurried.

    ---


    weak with her pencil
    My reception class teacher, Miss Downer, wrote in my first ever school report: "lisa is weak with her pencil". My parents were stumped as to what Miss Downer could mean, but as the years have gone by I've come to realise that Miss Downer had great wisdom. I am weak with my pencil, there are many thinks I should be writing but the strength evades me. Things I should be writing: letters to friends, email to my mother, cover letters for job apps, first novel, journal, blog. One down, five more to go.

    Friday, March 26, 2004

    The animator will love this (via pants). Once upon a time the animator was a reservist - in Oz - according to him, Aussie troops are the best trained, then the Brits and Kiwis and the Yanks have the best equipment, but are given no training.

    Thursday, March 25, 2004

    recipe for a happy husband
    1 half shoulder of lamb
    celery
    onion
    leeks
    potato
    carrot
    garlic
    stock
    seasoning
    peas
    sweetcorn

    Place all ingredients, except the peas and sweetcorn, in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil in the early afternoon and then simmer until lamb is soft and tender remove lamb from bone and dice. Drain stock and leave to cool in a clean pan, skim off excess fat. Return stock and ingredients to saucepan and simmer until husband comes home. Enquire if husband is hungry. When the answer is in the affirmative add peas and sweetcorn and simmer for a few more minutes.

    To serve: bowl, spoon, side plate, knife, white bread, butter.

    recipe for a happy lisa
    a happy husband surprised at wife's thoughtfulness at cooking one of his favourite dinners (even though she herself doesn't eat it)
    homemade spinach soup - featuring plenty of pepper and nutmeg
    glass of wine

    Combine all ingredients in a loving environment.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    pendulum
    I've got two competing post topics in my head and I've thought about both of them too much, so now I can't write about either of them as I would like. Post topic 1 is titled 'meet the grandparents' and I just haven't got the energy or patience to explain everything that should go into that post/essay. Also I want the tone to be right, I don't hate these people I pity them and am appalled by them, it needs to be witty, lighthearted, guess-what-they-did-then in tone and I'm so manically up and down right now I'm scared it will turn into a 'those psychopaths that share my blood: vampire tales of horror' kind of post. The second topic is 'how elegance can change your life'. I recently read Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro and strangely it's become a kind of liferaft. I'm a bit perturbed by this, but I'll take any kind of rescue package going. I want to write about the importance of valuing small things - the redeeming power that is generated by acts of self respect - laying the table for dinner, preparing food with love to nourish the body and senses. I also want to write about learning to prepare for transformation... Or am I caught up in modern-day fairy stories? Sliding Doors, My Big Fat Greek Wedding...girl changes make up, plucks eyebrows, cuts hair, gets dream job/husband/self? I want that narrative truth and, although I mock myself for clinging to it, at least it's giving me a sense of purpose a reason to get up and be constructive. I vacillate and question my own conclusions.
    Celebrity adoption woes...
    Feel a bit amorphous at the moment, which isn't necessarily a bad thing it just makes writing anything that makes sense a bit tricky. I'm in a difficult in-between-selves period. Just wait until I shed my chrysalis and dry my wings - I'm going to be a very beautiful butterfly any day now.

    Sunday, March 21, 2004

    The new Myla catalogue arrived today - in perfect time for Saturday morning browsing and daydreaming. Sigh. Repeat to self: gloriously well-paid fabulous job first, outrageously expensive underwear second.

    Friday, March 19, 2004

    more on adoption
    I guess I forget that I'm unusual, that my family is a source of curiosity for others (I mean that in a good way, I don't mind when people have questions - it's just sometimes I think their questions miss the point). So I thought I'd take this opportunity to write some more about the whole adoption thing...
    I worry when celebrities, and normal people for that matter, adopt with a sense of charity: Romanian orphan syndrome. Yes they are in a sense rescuing that child, but I wonder if they are trying to rescue themselves at the same time?
    It bugs me that people always want to adopt babies rather than children. I can understand why parents would want babies, but it's so sad that there are children being cared for in homes that should be in real homes with love and family. Perhaps if all those suffering from Romanian Orphan Syndrome could focus a little closer to home these lost children would have a better chance of finding the love and care they need. There aren't that many babies available for adoption in the UK anymore, I wish prospective parents could just be a bit more open minded and generous.
    As mentioned in the previous post, I was fostered as a baby and only adopted years later. In fact the situation was much more complicated than that, I was also hydrocephalic and came with the added baggage of birth family contact (as most foster kids do). The choice for my parents was limited: foster and hope this sick toddler responds well to treatment and we are eventually allowed to adopt or hope that social services offer them a 'better' baby at a later date. The 'better baby' was unlikely to happen as they'd already been on the waiting list for over six years, since adopting my brother. Experienced foster parents, they signed up for the emotional rollercoaster of taking on a sick child - and I'm very grateful that they did. Three years later - after four years of fostering they would have been allowed to adopt me - my birth mother took them/social services to court to regain access/block adoption. She represented herself and had access to all the legal papers, including my parents' home address. There have been odd phonecalls over the years, presumably from her, and when I was very small there were concerns that she might try and abduct me. I think it is safe to say that I was taught about 'stranger danger' with greater intensity than most.
    I think that my parents answered my questions brilliantly. They were always keen to stress that, while other parents merely have their children, they were very fortunate to be able to choose us. We have a special holiday - Family Day, which is celebrated on 9th October. It's the anniversary of the day we became a family, actually the day I was adopted. I always feel a bit guilty that we don't also celebrate the day my brother was adopted, but it's never seemed to bother him!
    People that want to adopt, and try to do so through social services, have to jump through so many hoops to convince the social workers that they will be fit parents. (My mum was asked by one social worker if she was sure she wanted children, because her house was so clean and children would only make a mess. My poor mum had spent hours cleaning to impress the social worker, who wouldn't?) I wish that there was a way to vet all potential parents. Having children is a blessing and a responsibility not a right.
    I think there might be even more about adoption in future posts - feel free to ask questions in the comments box.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2004

    Being adopted is not a universal experience, by which I mean that each adopted person will have a different - intensely personal - take on it. They will also, if my own feelings are anything to go by, judge all fictional adoption stories by their own truth and, therefore, find them lacking. For this reason, no matter how great this film or that documentary is supposed to be, I avoid the adoption stories of others. However, the questions people ask are always the same:

    1. Have you always known? Yes. I was fostered from around eighteen months by my parents - and by other people before that - then adopted at four. I can vaguely remember going to court and meeting the judge, he took his wig off so that I wouldn't be frightened, bless. I only realised years later that if my parents had lost the case my future would have been very uncertain. As it was, my name and identity got changed (legally, my parents had sneakily been calling me Lisa before it was official) just in time to start school.
    2. Is your brother adopted? Yes.
    3. Is he your real brother? Yes. He. Is. We just have diiferent birth parents. (Cue sheepish look on the face of the question asker.) Strangely, even people who have met my brother ask this - somehow overlooking the fact that he is six years older, four inches shorter and we look as different as it's possible to look.
    4. Do you realise that you could marry your brother!? My cousins used to tease me about this constantly. Maybe if we were living in Utah it would be acceptable. Here it's illegal and, anyway, he's my brother and you are being both gross and rude.
    5. Have you traced your natural mother? No. Please note I prefer the term 'birth mother' - there is nothing unnatural about my adoptive parents, and they are my real parents. (Some folks use the term biological or genetic, I'll stick to birth mother.) My situation is more complicated than most and, for reasons that don't need listing here, she was in sporadic contact when I was growing up. I have always had an antipathy towards her and her family. If we become friends I'll tell you about my run ins with The Grandparents someday. I know that some adopted people feel that they have unanswered questions about their identity that only finding blood relatives can fix, however, this has not been my experience. Interestingly, although my brother's adoption was much more 'traditional' and issue free (he was adopted from birth, and his teenage birth mother didn't really have any other options), he feels exactly the same. He occasionally wonders out loud about brothers and sisters, but since I know I don't have any birth siblings that's not an issue for me. It amazes me that people never ask about tracing my father, but perhaps it is just as well because according to my birth certificate I don't have one.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    a tidy room equals a tidy mind
    I don't know what changed, but yesterday I felt re-energised and able to meet the world head on. It is such a relief to feel like myself - and to like myself - again after a month of dark, bleak days. I spent most of the day clearing out the detritus that seems to accumulate in dusty corners - both literally and figuratively.
    Sharing space, both with the animator and housemate C, demands that certain compromises are made. Our bedroom, in particular, will never be as I would like it - not enough storage space, not enough space full stop. Not to mention that our tastes are often diametrically opposed.
    The animator has acquired more belongings in his four years in the UK than I have in my entire 27 years on the planet. He still has GI Joes in storage back home, just thinking about that makes me shudder. I compulsively throw things away (cart them to the recycling to be precise) - anything that's too old, not used or just taking up too much space - but the animator invests every item he's ever owned with a deep emotional significance, to me it's just junk to weigh us down.

    ---

    the birds
    You'd think with extra thick double glazing and living five minutes' from Kings Cross if anything kept me awake at night it would be traffic and sirens right? Wrong. A demented bird, possibly several demented birds, were singing their little hearts out all night. The sound insulating properties of the double glazing have met their match. As charming as birdsong is, I wish somebody could tell these birds that it's called the dawn chorus for a reason.
    spring...
    ...clean
    ...into action
    ...in her step
    ...has sprung

    So yes, today I'm feeling better than I have in a long time :-)

    Sunday, March 14, 2004

    Bush knew and did nothing. (via Madame Insane)
    Oh and just because I haven't mentioned it, doesn't mean my thoughts aren't with those suffering in Madrid. I just don't think that I am qualified to comment on events, I've tried to formulate a response, but it's beyond me.

    Saturday, March 13, 2004

    All kinds of thoughts and half thoughts and plain old nonsense streaming through my attempt at consciousness today. This may well end up being the most disjointed - and naked - post ever, because frankly I feel like I'm slowly losing my sanity. [Do you remember when Moriarty captured Sherlock Holmes and rigged up this blood letting contraption so that Holmes would be trapped watching himself die one drop at a time? I saw it on film once and the image stayed with me. Someone, possibly me, has rigged me up like that and I'm transfixed watching my own - don't know the word to use - spirit, mojo, will to live, essential being disappear one drop at a time.] The animator said, well the animator has said many things all of them good and wise and helpful - stuff about goals and counting blessings and how we're about to turn a corner, stuff about that job was making you unhappy so why is not working there making you even more unhappy? Yesterday I turned down a job editing TV listings, well turned down an interview anyway. I'm still trying to work out if I did 'the right thing'. It was a three-month contract and shift work and I was second choice and the agency woman was rude and the job was in Ealing and there were lots of reasons to tell her no. The fear is that I said no not because of the draconian selection process (interview leading to immediate start of three-day trial leading to three-month contract - sounded dodgy to me), but because I was scared of not getting it - ie I thought if I'm not offered this I'm really on the scrap heap. and there are many other things going on with me right now, edge-of-the-abyss things that scare me, I scare myself and try to hide. At times of stress/boredom/anxiety/self loathing I tend to eat - binge to be precise - and, if I'm honest, vomit. It took me a long time to admit I was bulimic and a few years ago I spent time, money and energy stopping the cycle. I thought I'd never go back there, I thought I had it licked. Well it's back and it's making me feel so much worse about myself. I'm looking for a door to walk through, I'm looking for a way out, I'm looking to find my willpower and all the bits of me I like and am proud of. I know that those bits of self are around here somewhere I just can't seem to lay my hands on them right now.
    And there's so much I should/could be doing with my days. Writing, reading, running, applying for jobs - and attending interviews, fuck the snotty agency staff - just breathing and feeling good about life. And I tell myself that I can do these things, but you see I don't and then I feel that I've failed. It is so stupid and self-defeating and I know this. All of which explains why I'm twitching and constantly in a maelstrom of thought and inaction - why can't I break through this? I'm really ashamed of myself. Normally all this would get written in my journal and I really have no idea why it's getting posted here, when I find it nearly impossible to tell friends what's going on, but then that's the strange thing about blogs, they are liberating and, at the same time, demand brutal honesty.

    Moving forward...
    I started this blog because I wanted my life to be radically different and now it is, though not in the way I'd wanted it to be. So perhaps it is time to restate those aims, apologies if they sound pompous, goals always seem to.

  • I want to live in a way that does not harm the environment

  • I want my personal space to be enriched with art and beauty

  • I want a job that is worth doing

  • I want a family

  • I want to be healthy in body and mind


  • Finally, I know that this period of powerlessness won't last forever, it just feels endless right now. As soon as we get out of this mad situation all of the above will feel so distant that I'll wonder how I ever came to write it.

    Friday, March 12, 2004

    From today's Guardian, silent movie porn pioneers:

    I told them that as far as I could tell that little dog was very happy. Thank God I took out the scene with the duck." Nothing is done to the dog; it is the dog that does the doing. Is something done to the duck? "Oh yes, most definitely."
    pile of pants
    I just have to share this, even though telling strangers and, worse, people I know may lead to trouble down the line. As requested, the majority of my birthday gifts from the animator were items of underwear. Lacy, racy, colourful, wonderful lingerie. Lingerie has become a bit of an obession, to the extent that I open the drawer just to admire my extensive collection. While unemployment has seen me take to fleece and joggers like a duck to water, underneath the Waynetta fashion I'm still a sexy, sassy, underwired urban warrior.

    Thursday, March 11, 2004

    the blogosphere tells me what I need to know
    Right words, right time: aimless surfing results in the treasure of reassurance and wry knowledge.
    Phone rang at 9.30am yesterday morning. Woo, yay, I thought, it's either the animator or an agency. It was neither, it was my aunt.

    Aunt: Are you still okay to meet me today.
    Lisa: Yep. Outside the Old Vic at 12, right?
    Aunt: Yes that's right. Tell me, are you signing on? Because if you are I can get cheap theatre tickets.
    Lisa: No. I'm not entitled to because I quit, I wasn't made redundant.
    Aunt: Oh...
    Lisa [feeling humiliated]: I'm not really bothered about seeing the play let's just have lunch. I'll see you at 12. Bye.

    Aunt is retired (from work, not from being my aunt - she's still quite active on that front) and rather old-school. Hard to describe her, 'English eccentric' is probably easiest, although doesn't do her justice. She left Uni, went straight into the BBC and stayed there until 60 - a job for life actually being possible in her day and age. Consquently, her grasp of the current employment landscape - and often reality, but that's a whole other post - is somewhat shaky. Lunch was quite a trial, although it was wonderful to walk across town free of the fetters of employment.

    In the evening the animator and I met up with a friend of his from the Central St Martins course. Friend has recently started a training contract at an animation studio. Friend thinks he'll be out of work again next month because the studio has no work.

    Lisa [raising glass]: Here's to full employment!
    the rejection club
    The animator has heard back from one of the studios up North, not good news I'm afraid. He's feeling really disheartened, my own feelings are more ambivalent - disappointment is mixed with resignation and a little bit of relief too, since if we did end up moving it would be a fairly major operation. Sigh. Onwards and upwards as they say.
    Bye bye concrete elephant droppings many happy hours of my youth were spent in your hallowed halls of commerce, I particularly remember the bargain book outlet. I'll be sad to see you go. Click here to see the full glory of the Tricorn Centre.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2004

    Oh - go check out Bloggerheads, there's a really well-written attack on The Sun's journalistic double standards.
    I'm in
    The interview was horrible, the interviewer was horrible - but, strange to say, I've got a place on the Biochemistry course. Now all I have to do is start swotting up on all the biochemistry I've forgotten since high school.
    On the way to the interview I walked across the Tavistock Square peace garden and was stunned by the bright primulas around Ghandi's statue - it looked like someone had planted a bed of dolly mixtures instead of flowers - glorious.
    love in a cold climate
    I excitedly pointed the animator's mouse to the honeymoon train journey I had my eye on last night. Unfortunately, it seems he has ideas of his own. He wants to travel the Trans-Siberian Railway instead. I guess travel in your own country is never as exciting as foreign climes. Sometimes it's hard for me to remember that for him Australia - land of exciting and rugged outback, hot and dusty, with dangerous wildlife and good-looking specimens of manhood - is as old hat as the UK is for me.

    Tuesday, March 09, 2004

    I've got an interview tonight at Birkbeck - I've applied to do this BSc part time there. The thing is, I'm not sure whether I ought to prepare, or rather how to prepare. A few years ago when I was interviewing for this MA course - all completed now. woo! - it was easy, we chatted about poetry and books I'd read, but my biochemistry knowledge is damn rusty. Since I was only doing the masters for fun (yes really - how mad was I?), I wasn't anxious about whether or not I got on the course. Now the situation is different - although I've always thought about going back to college to learn more science, I'm not doing this for fun I'm doing it for the good of my (so-called) career. In addition, I know that I may not be in London for four years' time, in fact, I may not be here in four weeks' time - everything depends on where the animator gets work. So I'm feeling excited and nervous but at the same time completely detached from the situation.
    It takes an enormously long time to load (and requires sound), but I promise you it's worth it:
    it's the end of the world (thanks K).

    Monday, March 08, 2004

    birthday girl
    No plans, no party, a few presents, a few kisses, some money, some surprises, lots of cuddles, lots of cards. Another day, another year...but when will I feel like a proper grown up?

    Sunday, March 07, 2004

    Travel. Adventure. Romance. Incredibly long train journey. Belated honeymoon? Perhaps one day...
    Ugh!
    Google ads has shown me that there are "precious moment dolls" - how ghastly. Please, never ever imagine that the animator and me look like this.
    Plans, what plans?
    Well we started as predicted with a coffee at Monmouth. It was crowded and we had to share a table, which is pretty usual. There were two foreign students sitting next to us, Spanish maybe. We watched transfixed as the boy next to me studiously put sugar in his coffee. Twelve teaspoons of sugar in a small mug. He drank it down to the last inch in quick gulps before grimacing and adding a further two sugars. He and his friend left quickly. I looked in his cup, but the sugar was gone.
    It was 5pm when I finished my latte, American Splendor was showing at 6.30. The animator wanted to pick up tickets then go eat, suddenly I felt rebellious. An hour and a half didn't seem long enough to have a nice meal and, besides, it was still so early.
    I suggested we see Kill Bill at 9pm instead and lounge indolently at The Cork and Bottle to while away the hours. Crossing Cambridge Circus I overheard a plummy voiced old codger tell his expensively dressed wife in carefully annunciated ringing tones: "I - am - staggering - because - I - am - pissed". It was 5.10 in the evening, they must have had a good lunch! We got cinema tickets, but The Cork and Bottle was fully booked. So we ended up at Le Garrick for a reasonable two-course set menu of pate (me) and broccoli soup (him) followed by steak and chips. A bottle of rather lovely wine and a indulgent chocolate pudding made me feel like a birthday girl.
    Film was great - all style no substance, what else would you expect from Tarrentino? Sat through the whole thing with an enormous grin on my face - trying to memorise Uma's look and vowing to strut just like her from now on. Walking home through the strangely quiet Brunswick Square at close to midnight arm in arm with my husband I felt I was the luckiest girl in the world. Sometimes life is really good.

    Saturday, March 06, 2004

    And now for a party political broadcast.
    Living, Soho style
    Got a really good start to the weekend planned. Going to hand in our signed lease this afternoon then go on to Monmouth for filters, although I'm tempted to check out a new coffee shop that has just opened in Endell St. Coffee, Cake and Kink (scroll along) sounds like yummy fun, and they serve Monmouth coffee. Tonight we are going to see American Splendor at The Prince Charles cinema and go out for Japanese food (although I can always be tempted by the The Rock and Sole Plaice). We haven't decided where yet but there are three front runners: Hare and Tortoise, Abeno or a tiny sushi bar round the back of the Trocadero. The animator took me to this tiny sushi bar on one of our first dates and I was terrified because I'd never really used chopsticks before - not only is the animator a dab hand, the place is always full of Japanese people - the agony of dropped sushi rolls!
    All this extravagance is in a good cause - come Monday I'll be 27.

    Friday, March 05, 2004

    Remember last month when Aussie Prime Miinister Howard said that the US free trade deal wasn't going to affect the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)? Well, it seems he was wrong:

    ...critics were especially worried by a new element to the agreement - a clause not seen in the summary last month. In a letter to US trade representative Robert Zoellick, Trade Minister Mark Vaile appears to give drug companies the power to challenge the price of their products on the PBS [...] Critics of the deal are also concerned the agreement could delay the arrival of cheap generic drugs onto the market, encourage direct advertising of prescription drugs to consumers and give drug companies new powers to challenge decisions of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which assesses new drugs for PBS listing according to their value for money.
    An agency called today wanting to put me forward for a job so maybe I'll have an interview lined up next week. It sounds like a good job for me - working across a few local newspapers, lots of opportunity to progress, perhaps to editor - but the salary on offer is pretty paltry. I guess I'll wait and see what happens in interview - if I really like them and they like me I guess salary isn't quite so important. After all, currently my salary is non-existent :-)
    Interviews are weird, having interviewed a fair few people myself, it is very strange not to be the one doing the interrogating. I always try to work out whether I'd like to work in this particular office, but it is difficult to get an accurate idea of what any given job will be like.

    Had a rather wonderful dream last night: I was sitting at an office desk when someone brought me three wrapped gifts. Inside one was a beautiful red and black corset - all satin, ribbons and boning - the second contained flowers, tulips I think and I can't remember what was in the third but it may have been a book or card. In the dream I thanked the animator for his presents, but he said he'd had nothing to do with it. Mysterious dream!

    Thursday, March 04, 2004

    Get happy :-)

    Wednesday, March 03, 2004

    In the precious moment
    I've been watching the LoTR extended DVD extras, yes I'm that much of a fangirl. Actors are a funny bunch of people in that they have an incredible facility for absorption, sometimes self-absorption. Over the course of blah many hours of documentary footage and interviews one thing stayed with me: Orlando Bloom's praise of another actor's perfomance. Bloom said that he was, "totally in the moment".
    In the moment is an idea I've been toying with for the last few days. We should all be in the moment shouldn't we, where else is there to be? Children do this: they are completely absorbed by the present, by what is happening now. Me, on the other hand, I'm always questioning the future (from the cripplingly serious "what happens if I don't find a job?" to the banal "what am I going to have for lunch?") or interrogating and remembering the past (was I right to quit? Life was so much better when we were both working...).
    Why do we do this to ourselves? Despite the way our minds trick us, it is impossible to time travel, so why is the idea of living in the moment so strange? Of course, to do otherwise is actually to waste the moment. And I often do waste not just moments but whole hours either trying to recreate the past or second-guess the future. It is exhausting! I don't want to waste life - it is far too precious for that.
    Come to think of it, it's my precioussssss.
    ---
    The second meaning of 'precious' has just occured to me. I'm sure all of the above is nothing new to you and perhaps I am sounding precious to be writing about this... But to hell with it, it bears repeating.

    Tuesday, March 02, 2004

    Welcome to my country.

    Monday, March 01, 2004

    Monday, and to be more precise Monday morning, sets the tenor for the rest of my week. Monday is Media Guardian apply for jobs day. It is also washday, clean the house day and omigod another week has started and we still don't have jobs day. Only today is different - the animator is working. He's temping as a facilitator at an interactive learning centre (standing around waiting for students who are doing online courses to ask for help). Not a dream job by any stretch, but hey beggars most certainly cannot be choosers! So while last week's Monday morning was a disaster - procrastination, chocolate buscuits and self doubt - so far this morning has been a model Monday. I have already applied for four jobs, put the washing on, cooked porridge and generally feel quite satisfied with my efforts.
    The universe seems to be in an expansive mood too. The sun is shining in a crisp blue sky and the light is all the brighter for reflecting off of last night's snowfall. Wonderful.