Friday, August 20, 2004

woo, woo
After feeling nothing at all about my trip to the US, the excitement kicked in at 5am, which is unfortunate because being kicked awake by excitement is a little upsetting and now I'm knackered. Last night I milled around Badger Mansions being very ineffective - my approach to packing being: sit down, moan, open a bottle of wine, tell TA that I'd only have one glass, watch West Wing with housemate C, chat to housemate C, realise that it is now 11.30pm, realise that the wine bottle is now empty, get out of the chair, throw six pairs of shoes in a bag, throw all the clothes that fit and are clean into a bag, throw all the cosmetics, toiletries and jewellery I own into a bag, and put all the bags into a rucksack.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

pen, sieve (Yes, okay it's a JK Rowlingism, but it's such a good one. )
I've been full of thoughts, heavy thoughts, thoughts like rain clouds - dark, blanketing and strangely comforting. And when I'm full of thoughts my first instinct is to reach for words to drain my overburdened head. Today, though my thoughts are refusing to preciptate into words. I could shoot bullet points at you like hailstones, but that would be spiteful. I could lose you in a freezing blizzard, but what would be the sense in that? We could both get lost in the snaky sentences of blinding fog, but that's so boring even when it's done for some grand stylistic purpose (yes Mr Dickens, I'm thinking of you).
I'd like to caress you with a light mist, refreshing like sea spray; drench you like a tropical waterfall so that you feel invigorated by reading and when you stop and look around everything sparkles - but today isn't the day it's going to happen. Today, all I can hope for is that the thoughts remain clouds; that the rain doesn't start until I'm alone, safe, at home; and that when it does there's a sheet of blotting paper to soak it up.
taking the shirt from his back
TA is very particular about his shirts – they must be TM Lewin, they absolutely must be double cuff and they must be a lovely colour. He has pale blue shirts, dark blue shirts, lavender and purple shirts – such beautiful colours and such wonderful fabric (mostly he has plain, but recently he's bought a couple of gorgeous patterned shirts). I love these shirts – I love that they remind me of when we were first dating, I love their texture, their weight, their quality and the fact that they have been worn by him. I love these shirts so much that I have been thinking about how glorious it would be to make a quilt out of them: a quilt with big bold squares (plain, unfussy, not to mention quicker and simpler to make). I’ve been daydreaming about winter nights sitting with a needle and thread piecing together a magnificent and decadent quilt.
There are a couple of difficulties however: first, TM Lewin shirts do not wear out, I’ve never seen TA throw one out; and, second, TA is fundamentally opposed to having a patchwork quilt on our bed, thinking them twee and something that should be consigned to the Little House on the Prairie. He’s not against me making a quilt, per se (although I think his shirts are very much off limits until that mythical far-off day when the seams start to fray, or he comes into enough money that he can buy a complete new set) he’s just against a quilt ‘gracing’ the bed that he designed and built. Of course, I’ve pointed out that since I sleep on this bed, which would not necessarily be my first choice of marriage bed – Japanese-style, low to the ground, red lacquered and very, very hard – the least he can do is agree to sleep under my quilt (and he has agreed to the justice of this point) but the fact remains, he is very doubtful of a patchwork quilt’s aesthetic value and looks at me as if I’ve grown a second head whenever I mention it.
So, I’m now thinking of making a quilt out of shirts that are similar to TA’s (bought on the cheap from secondhand shops) and then giving it to his parents as a Christmas present – not really the same thing at all I think you’ll agree – none of the romance, the history, the passion. I’m secretly hoping that once TA sees this quilt he’ll have a change of heart and agree what a beautiful idea it really is…tear his shirts from their hangers, rip his shirt from his back and beg me to transform them – like straw spun into gold – into a quilt that will keep us warm for the rest of our days, a quilt that our children will play under and crawl over and, eventually, inherit.

Monday, August 16, 2004

missing in action:
  • Amy from Ever So Humble - where has this blog gone? Can anyone help? Amy, if you're reading get in touch...
  • The five blog post titles that I had in my head this morning - now my mind is a blank as a new canvas, no idea what that's about.
  • My will to diet and exercise disappeared on Sunday and, lo today, it hasn't come back - not even after a bagel for breakfast, one for lunch, two jaffa cakes and two Mr Kipling Almond fingers...oh dear.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

good stuff
Yesterday I ran for thirty full freaking minutes on the treadmill (over 5km!), then went and kicked my own butt on the recumbent (yes the chafing is still there) bike for a further 30 minutes. Today I did weights.
I've got a enormous chicken roasting in the oven - this will be served with new potatoes, greens and roast carrots tonight; with pesto and salad tomorrow lunch time and either chicken curry or Vietnamese style tomorrow night; and the carcass should make a nice soup.
I've got a 2000 Chateuneuf du Pape waiting to be opened.
I'm sitting here sipping vodka-laced iced tea.
The flat is clean.
There are three fantastic cheeses, some red grapes, a pear and some cashew nuts to follow the roast chicken.
Tomorrow I'm going to the Marylebone Farmers' market.
Tomorrow I'm going to lay out my clothes and work out what I should pack for my trip to the US.
In less than a week I will be hanging out with my best friends in the beautiful town of Northampton, Massachusetts.
I'm sending a parcel to the Oregon office - I'm packing badger beer.
It's sunny.

Friday, August 13, 2004

little gems
I learnt something new about my IT trainer today - she makes fabulously beautiful jewellery. Isn't it amazing the talents people have that, in everyday life, remain hidden? The chap who sits opposite you might well have a wonderful dark, rich baritone, sticky sweet singing voice - the kind of voice that makes your sternum vibrate and your knees go weak; the receptionist might well be a champion swing dancer. Why do we all hide our lights under bushels? I wonder how many lights just need a spark to set them shining? I'm sure that everyone has an unexplored apptitude for a skill they've never dreamed of - how do you discover you are a natural free diver, formula-one driver, parachutist, or glassblower? Wouldn't be wonderful to be a flint, sparking all this untapped potential?
Coming back down to earth, this badger menace story had me in stitches. (Thanks Jenny!)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

be a cunning linguist
Carrying on from yesterday's post, I've got a couple more links for you. How to create your own language (TA take note*) and some theory on how we construct sentences (L3 to L8 are most interesting from an editing standpoint).
The title of today's post reminds me of a very strange editing dilemma I came up against a few years ago. I was working on a trade publication called Retail Buyer International - a glossy, but fairly useless magazine aimed at department store management. An article had been submitted by a fairly prestigious chap that discussed lighting and other tricks to get people to stay in the shop longer and, hence, spend more money. In amongst all the waffle was a disturbing phrase: cunning linger signals. I reworded the phrase, chuckling to myself about the unconscious minds of eminent gentlemen, and when the article had been laid out sent it to the author's PR chap for approval.
Quick as you like, the PR chap fired off an email - Professor X wants to know why 'cunning linger signals' has been changed. I was beginning to smell a rat! I drafted an email that referred to the 'James Bond tone' and explained that this was unsuitable for such an august publication, but was overruled by my team manager. In the end we settled for: 'cunning linger signals' might have unfortunate connotations when read aloud.
Next thing I know, my phone is ringing. PR chap seems to think I've had a sense of humour bypass. He is at pains to tell me that the 'unfortunate connotations' were the very reason the phrase was included. His final riposte? "I hope I can slip something in under your nose next time."
Cheeky beggar!
*TA likes to invent languages when he is creating D&D scenarios.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

norma no mates
It seems I struck a nerve! I really can't tell you how it is I came to have no friends, I'm fairly outgoing - I like pubs and restaurants and even dancing; I like long walks in the countryside (as long as there's a pub at the end); live music and events; museums (especially the cider museum and I'd also like to visit this shoe museum); talking and listening... I'd make someone a good friend. Somehow though I do have real trouble connecting with people now that there's no school or college to provide an ideal environment for friendship. So I'd like some advice please how does one make friends as a grown up?

passive vocabulary, reading ages
There's an email thread doing the rounds in the editing department - essentially my manager wants to know how newspapers pitch themselves - what is the average vocabulary of an average reader? When I was teaching English we distinguished between an active vocabulary, the words we use, and a passive vocabulary, the words we understand. However, vocabulary is only part of the readability puzzle - as this rather fascinating page shows. Why is this important? Well as editors we have to make informed guesses all the time - what acronyms do our readers understand without explanation, what terms need explaining? When should we split a sentence up, and how, and when should we leave all those sub-clauses in? If we get it wrong the text becomes less readable or, worse, the reader respects it less because it - quite literally -doesn't speak their language.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

pillow talk
I was going to link to a news story about a new product for single girls lunched in Japan - the boyfriend arm pillow - but sadly the link has gone dead, I hope the picture suffices.
I'm tired today - I gymmed my little heart out this morning even though the chafing has not completely healed and I've seem to have developed an eye infection. The manky eye got so bad that TA had to bring my glasses to work for me. But anyway enough about my physical deficiencies...
TA and I had a difficult but good weekend. Housemate C had got hold of Wife Swap on DVD (not what you think, US readers) and we found it difficult to tear ourselves away. After watching a few episodes I became increasingly introspective - a mood that continued into Sunday and our visit to Fruitstock. Over lobster and champagne we discussed everything once more. What would happen if we split up*; whether Australia really is our goal destination; how TA should be approaching job hunting; whether we are dividing household chores effectively; what counts as necessity and what counts as ridiculous extravagance (yes, I realise that lobster and champagne falls squarely into the second category). Housemate C has decided to sign up to Badger Mansions for another six months after all and now that we know we are going to be here for at least that long TA and I are trying to work out how to progress in other areas of our life. After many hours of discussion we came up with the following:

  1. There has to be a cutoff date, we settled on the end of February 2005, if TA hasn't found animation work by then he will have to give up on it/look for other work instead.
  2. Since doing piddly little jobs for producer Nick and others is not bettering his chances of finding a full-time position and is in fact distracting him from finding work, TA will from now on concentrate on his showreel and turn down small jobs that offer no chance of advancement.
  3. TA must make more of an effort to get into intern and trainee programmes. He must also consider applying for jobs doing broadcast animation as only looking for games work is halving his chances.
  4. I must make more of an effort to meet new people. I don't have enough friends. TA is worried about me, I'm worried about me. The last two years have seen three friends move away and one get a LTLP - suddenly my social life has disappeared, not helped of course by my antisocial, depressed phase.

*We're not splitting up, we were just exploring why we both feel claustrophobic - there's nothing like an enormous amount of debt to make you feel shackled.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

bum deal
First, before I forget, I'd like one of these for Christmas please.
So...I go to the gym. I run, run, run; I cycle, cycle, cycle. Then I go to the gym again and do the same thing all over again. All up, I've gone nine times in the last seven days. I've run and cycled plenty. I wear a sports bar to prevent chafing or 'jogger's nipple' as it is called. However, no one warned me about cyclist's bottom. I have developed small, yet intensely uncomfortable, patches of chafing in what I shall refer to as my builder's cleavage...not good. Team my cyclist's bottom with Myla's finest g-string and, as I'm sure you can imagine, today, walking has not been a relaxing undertaking.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

badger scandinavia shocks dougal
hours of fun - courtesy of this word ranking website - brought to you by housemate C.
rage against the machine
Crippling laptop troubles along with general rage at various frustrating aspects of work conspired to make today really very unpleasant indeed. Pilates this morning and a jolly hard-core jog this evening were the only bright spots. I would say more, but my teeth are still grinding so perhaps I'd better concentrate on deep, calming breaths instead.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

ruby red
Don't those two words say fairytale more than any others? A certain type of fairytale. They say little girl lost (ruby slippers), they say little girl in danger (red cloak) they say little orphan girl (Snow White with ruby red lips), they say out of control girl (the red shoes). They say menarche and coming of age - girls becoming women, women learning wisdom. What woman doesn't want a beautiful red cloak to match her ruby lips and gem encrusted slippers - who hasn't known the attraction of dancing all night long? I want to be a woman that drinks deep draughts of heady, heavy wine. I want to be a seductive, vibrant, swirling, magnetic force of nature. Smell the blood on the wind, hear the drum beat, sing, stamp my feet.
I'm reading, or rather re-reading, Women Who Run with the Wolves at the moment. Every chapter explores a different aspect of 'wild woman wisdom' and page after page I find myself nodding my head in recognition, usually while drinking a glass of ruby red wine. But I fear it's just another form of escapism - escape from the everyday, humdrum world - to believe that I'm communing with my wildish nature. When I wake from the dream - 8.50am on a Monday morning - I find that life is grey and dreary and that all my ruby redness has to be folded away and hidden under a drab skin.
(thank you Jamie)

Sunday, August 01, 2004

when I was...
When I was at primary school I had two best friends, the girl who would become beauty threrapist E and A (who is currently studying graphic design and living in Australia). When I was maybe six, maybe seven, we were playing at A's house. A's house had a big garden and the big garden backed on to a park. At one end of the park was a twisting path that led down to a reservoir. The reservoir had been been turned into a nature reserve and allowed to grow wild. On this particular day the three of us sneaked out and went to play in the reservoir. Perhaps it was this time of year, perhaps it was Spring...it was certainly hot. I remember feeling sticky as we skirted round the green and slimy water's edge. First we took off our shoes and socks. Dipping toes in water, testing boundaries - testing ourselves. I can't remember who saw the tadpoles - but they were there to be seen: hundreds, thousands of them. Tiny black dots with muscular tails, whipping through the green, fecund water. The deliciously cool water that we'd let reach our knees. One thought occupied us - how to capture these babies, the proto frogs, proto toads. We had jam jar plans. Quick as you like our knickers were off and netting tadpoles. We ran back to the house admiring each other's catch - trying to keep them wet until we could fill our jars with water.
Three years ago tomorrow the animator and I went on our first date. When I was single I used to spend a lot of time, and yes I mean a lot, imagining what it would be like when I met that special someone. When I was single I'd moon about the place and my thoughts would sound like a non-rhyming, non-kitsch first draft set of lyrics for Que Sera Sera. Will they be handsome/pretty, will we be rich, will they understand me like no one has before, will we have many children, will they be a sculptor (blame Ghost, and The Bone People) ...
All that time using my knickers as a fishing net hunting for a frog to kiss. Who'd have guessed I'd meet a prince?
(Thank you Carroll, funny, this wan't the post I had in mind when I sat down to type)