Monday, September 18, 2006

recipe for success
Over the weekend I made pie. Or, more strictly speaking, pies. There's something about puff pastry that makes it a panacea for TA's ills - at least in the short term. I made spiced bramley apple pie and pig pie. The pig pie, with a filling gleaned from trotters and supplimented with vegetables, was better than expected; the spiced apple pie was really rather glorious, or so I was told. Unfortunately, pastry is one of those foodstuffs that I can cook but mustn't eat - not if I want to wear my size 12 trousers.

Friday, September 15, 2006

cost of everything and the value of nothing
What would you do if there was nothing you needed to do? I'd like to think I'd read more, study more, cook more adventurous food, work out more, escape to the country more... The list goes on and on but the word "more" crops up fairly often, along with the words "farm", "horse", "swimming pool", "look fabulous" and - most especially - "staff". In my lottery-win-fuelled life, I imagine myself as a cross between Barbara Good and Lady Lara Croft (as played by Ms Jolie): riding, farming, lording and (ethically) shopping.
TA shows us the error of our ways. With nothing he needs to do he has found his life reduced rather than enriched. Putting aside the finance issue, I try to encourage him: galleries, art, craft, DIY, singing, dancing, running, walking, volunteering, reading, writing, drawing, modelling (both kinds!), learning, cooking, cleaning... But the truth is that when the world doesn't value your time you don't have the time to value the world.
I remember the rising panic and claustrophobia well. The feeling that there's a whirling dervish of pain spinning round and round in the brain, all that energy and thought, but going nowhere - abort, abort, abort before you see your life disappear down the plughole vortex. I only had three months of it and I was clinging on to my sanity by my fingernails. Could you tell?
I admire my husband; I'm incredibly proud of him. Through sheer luck - and with constant emotional support from TA - I managed to escape after sipping the poison he's been drowning in. He's a survivor. He's a hero. But is it any wonder that he's looking for an escape route?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

only happy when it’s rained
Monsoon season is here in global-warming London and it is wonderful and disquieting in almost-equal measures. Last night I was woken by the downpour. There’s something irresistibly sexy about water falling in sheets from the steamy sky – I’m still waiting for the day when someone takes me dancing naked in the rain. Under the covers, my body came out in sympathy by sending rivulets of sweat down my neck, limbs and chest.
Although the weather is freakishly hot, the days are resolutely getting shorter – autumn is here even if the temperature says otherwise. My circadian clock has responded by making it virtually impossible to get out of bed before 6.30am, no matter that I’m usually asleep before 10pm. There’s something wrong about putting on summer clothes in a room lit by electricity.
I celebrated the sweet smell of damp leaves and grass by walking the long way to the office through Embankment Gardens and found myself remembering the 7 July Remembrance Garden, which has long since disappeared. That thought led me back to 9/11 – my memories of the day itself focus on talking to TA who, working at a bank, had access to the latest news on Bloomberg; leaving work early; walking through a deserted city; seeing that the Evening Standard sellers had gone home – all their papers sold; and a quiet evening with TA in his studio apartment. These memories are misted with the romance of the earliest days of our relationship – when that tiny studio was a bubble of extraordinary possibility, a nest of intimacy. My mind wandered, tracking the path of diminishing returns since each anniversary. That first 18 months when every article I edited name checked “the recent terrible events” no matter if it was for a hospital, aviation, defence, hotel, oil and gas or superyacht title. It seemed as though the world had been knocked off its axis.
To bring things full circle, it seems as though global warming really will knock the world off its axis – making London feel equatorial. Meanwhile, our leaders are too busy building sandcastles and fighting the war on terror to notice that the tide is rising.
workday blues
Here's what I don't need on the Monday I decide to work from home because TA&I were playing FateStorm with German goths all day Sunday and late into the night and I'm exhausted:
  1. Discover I've left my RSA security token on my desk at work - no network access
  2. Discover Kinko's have failed to print a job sent by the US team on Sunday
  3. Discover that although Kinko's has indeed printed the document, the document has a typo
  4. Try, somewhat unsuccessfully, to guide a co-worker to said Kinko's branch via mobile (a mobile that was passed to me by TA while I was myself passing water - thank god for Kegel exercises)
  5. Discover, on arriving at the office with a new batch of the document hot of the press, that in fact somewhere in the editing process (not edited by me) the document corrupted - there are "typos" throughout
  6. Receive word that a release that is slated to be sent to the US and European wires should now be sent to Australia and Asia too.
  7. Find out that there is an "emergency" release floating about that will "hit" me soon.

I don't want to be a grown-up anymore. I want to be a tree.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

hey pesto!
As they say, life goes on. Seasons turn and autumn sun can sometimes be the gentlest kiss of warmth for tired hearts. Shelter from the buffeting wind may take many forms. Today it takes the form of planning my first harvest from the windowsill farm.
At first glance, my basil plant appears a bit straggly with long stalks supporting heavy crowns of leaves, but look closer and it's positively lusty - with many leaves beginning to shoot from the base of those tree-trunk stalks. I'm planning on encouraging this bushy burst of growth by removing the basil-tree crowns.
What to do with this glut of basil leaves? Well, clearly make pesto. The pinenuts are in stock already and tonight I'll buy some parmesan. Oh, oh, oh - the joy of darkest green, slick, pungent, fresh pesto. Perhaps it will be oil enough to soothe our troubled waters, if only for a moment's respite.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I'm all at sea and everything’s rocking. I feel a bit green. Emergency planning isn’t settling the mind or the stomach and each fresh wave makes me feel as though I’ve fallen through the floor. Luckily, those big waves don’t hit often – most of the time things are just a little choppy. I’m prepared to launch life rafts if it comes to that, but I’m praying that it won’t.
Watching the sky and reading the currents, I realise that it’ll be one storm after another for the foreseeable future. I signed up for a lengthy voyage of discovery and knew, of course, that it wouldn’t all be plain sailing, but I recognise now that the sea and the storms – call it nature, call it fate – have me at their mercy. Perhaps I am an inadequate sailor; certainly, I am not entirely the master of my own destiny. Heroism makes me think that, as the duty captain, I should go down with the ship – heroism is a tricksy hobbit. My never-restful mind wonders whether it was senseless heroism that landed me in this storm in the first place.
I love this vessel. I have devoted hours to caulking it, rigging it and polishing the decks; it contains all my worldly goods and more of my soul than I can enumerate. If it goes down a large part of me will sink with it. I am committed to steering it through these storms, past Charybdis and Scylla, and will sacrifice much to reach calm waters; but I know that – heroism be damned – I won’t sacrifice everything. The rope tying me to the mast is a long one and if necessary I have a knife, but if this voyage ends in failure I know I won’t have the heart to set out to sea again.
I’ve got a short trip to NY for work happening at the end of the month. I’ve also orchestrated a mini-windfall for myself, thanks to the agency having a rather fab scheme that allows me to sell my holiday allowance. I need the mini-windfall to get our maxi-overdraft down to manageable proportions. Also, it’s TA’s birthday in October and I’d like to make an appropriately large fuss of him. These are both high priorities. The very highest. So why am I thinking about shoe shopping in New York? Is it thoughts like this that created the overdraft in the first place?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

going dark
Life is difficult at the moment, but it's nothing I can write about here. Over the years UB (and, I suppose, I) have changed. This space is not so wide open as once it was. There are many things I choose not to write here. In fact, at the moment there's a lot going on in the dark circle of the Venn diagram of my life - so much so that to write about owt else is akin to lying.
I won't lie - to you, to myself: the dark circle fills my thoughts right now. Is it empty, is it a lifesaver - have I been clinging to a hollow thing? Should I be clinging to a hollow thing? When my crises were my own I felt more than happy to involve the surfers and the readers, but now the undertow that has lifted me off my feet has been born elsewhere and so I can't allow others to surf it.
There may be comedy and observations to be found here for a month or few, but there won't be excavations like there used to be. Just a warning, to those who come here for the inside track...