Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week

I've had the most ridiculously emotional week, feeling up, down, down down, up, down, up, down, down for no discernible reason. I realise that these things happen to the best of us but I also think that sometimes I would prefer physical ailments to emotional ones. After all, when you've got the flu you just sleep and wait for it to pass. When you feel emotional, you're lucky if you can sleep.

However, I finished the week on a high note, a culinary one, see below.

Still, the recipe I would like to give you, and maybe I will do so tomorrow, is one for a most delicious green beany curry, something that I've tweaked and cooked twice this week and that I thought was very delicious on both occasions.

Other than this, work on my pro website is going really well and I am so excited I cannot even get to sleep at night. My feelings of uneasiness this week have prevented me from writing on here and even in my red journal. It is still so beautiful and smells so good that I really did not want to mar it with what will become sour memories, years down the line. I hope things will feel better from tomorrow and there will be more reasons to keep track of all of the great things I am doing in the face of a certain degree of adversity.

Monday, February 22, 2010

More White Stuff

I kept myself to myself last week, not simply because I needed some writing re-grouping, so to speak, but also because I rather love to make plans (no matter how far-fetched) and lists (no matter how pointless). Writing is an isolating job for sure, but I must confess that I would find it harder to deal with people on a daily basis than I do to deal with my own personal demons, annoying and boring as they are even to myself.

Early on Sunday morning it snowed and so I woke up to another white garden.

Sadly, it isn't as cold as it was at the beginning of January and today, although a little of the white stuff has survived, there's hardly anything left anywhere, as the sun is shining brightly and as we are on the cusp of winter-heading-to-spring. Birds are chirping and although there is no sign of vegetative life, at least not on the trees in my immediate proximity, there is in the house, where the bulbs I planted last week have already shot up and bent over themselves. I may need to rescue them later.

We are almost a week into Lent already and I've yet to make my mind up as to what to do on the way to bettering myself. I tentatively tried the 'stop swearing' thing, and quickly realised it was an unachievable task. I suppose that something even harder would be 'stop beating yourself up'. I am currently running the Unravelling exercise over at our private boards on Flickr and I made it an assignment on self-love. And, guess what, almost nobody is doing it. Interesting to see how we are all masters of flagellation instead.

On related reflections I should add that the whole poetry thing was really hard. There was much I wanted to keep track of during Valentine's week and I forgot it all on the basis of sharing poems instead. I'm gonna have to make sure I don't do that again for sure...!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post-Valentine Hang-Over

I always, always, always get it; this big emotional slump, this dip within my thoughts always hit me after the Valentine/anniversary thing is over. I had a fantastic three days, even though I didn't do anything incredibly out of the ordinary, and today I woke up cranky and annoyed and I am not even sure why. It's not like we can stop time after all. I knew that the Valentine Three Dayer, as I call it, would be just that, three days, but getting out on the other side is a depressing affair all the same.

I guess there are mixed feelings in it for a multitude of reasons, chief amongst them the constant dichotomy of being alone and feeling lonely. They are not one and the same and I think I am not saying anything new there. Then of course there is all of this detestable crap relating to household management which at the moment means sorting out my cracked drive. Earlier today I was writing in my diary (the paper one) that I want everything to end. No more annoyances, anguish, pain, stress, feelings of inadequacy or loneliness. When last week I heard that Alexander McQueen had killed himself I burst into tears as if I had known him personally. People just do not realise how bad life is until one goes out with a hell of a bang and then they look at each other and wonder what they could have done to help. For a start, offer to help, I'd say, and then we'll see.

Yesterday I went to York, which I had only visited in passing many years ago when I stayed at the uni with the fencing team. Well, it is one heck of a charming place and it is true that its cathedral is one of the most beautiful ones. It was sunny but extremely nippy; for a few hours there was just me and beauty itself.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


By Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Upon the Death of Sir Albert Morton's Wife

By Sir Henry Wotton

He first deceased: She for a little tried
To live without Him: liked it not, and died.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art

By John Keats

Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

From The Vicar of Wakefield

By Oliver Goldsmith

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can sooth her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom, is – to die.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Recension Day

By Duncan Forbes

Unburn the boat, rebuild the bridge,
Reconsecrate the sacrilege,
Unspill the milk, decry the tears,
Turn back the clock, relive the years,
Replace the smoke inside the fire,
Unite fulfilment with desire,
Undo the done, gainsay the said,
Revitalise the buried dead,
Revoke the penalty and clause,
Reconstitute unwritten laws,
Repair the heart, untie the tongue,
Change faithless old to hopeful young,
Inure the body to disease
And help me to forget you please.

Monday, February 8, 2010

My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close

It's Valentine's week and after that it will be my wedding anniversary which happens to fall on Shrove Tuesday this time, a great opportunity to stuff my face twice over. I decided to put my self aside this week in favour of sharing love poems, which is all I've been reading as of late (well, almost, together with Doctor Zhivago which, really, may not be a poem but it surely is about love).

Today, it's Emily Dickinson.

My life closed twice before its close –
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Massacre In A Bedroom

Serves me right. Last night I thought that William and Victoria would have also enjoyed a bit of the Massacre and so gave them a minute spoon of it. I don’t know whether it was the pomegranate or the cream or the combo that didn’t agree with William but whatever it was, the poor darling spent a few hours looking extremely miserable until he spat out water until 2 am.

This morning, the first two hours of the day were spent in a bed-stripping-floor-washing exercise which eventually saw the little guy reclaiming his spot at midday. He is in very good spirits if only a little long-faced by the lack of sleep and I must confess that I, too, could do with a nap. See why I always say that those who want kids should always, always, always try out pets first?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Massacre In A Snowstorm

Ah the good old pomegranate-meringue-whipped cream combo known as Massacre in a Snowstorm... who comes up with these names I wonder? Ok, it is definitely descriptive, but I cannot say to feel that inclined to eat what’s on the plate, especially after squeezing seeds our of the pomegranate which, you will forgive the graphic quality of what’s coming, always makes me think of squeezing one’s brains out. In fact, I must confess to finding pomegranates rather creepy, even though their juice is very delicious. Still, there are worse things... like fennels and having one’s blood taken.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sky At Five

It seems odd to speak of a whiff of spring when earlier in the week it was snowing, but it is true that seasons waft into our sphere of perception long before our eyes notice them. This morning, despite a very plain beginning, I thought I caught a vague smell of spring and this evening, when I returned home after a brief visit to a friend, I noted that the sky was mellow and blue at five o’clock.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Valentine Box

I have spent part of my day decorating a Valentine's box for a friend who lives in the States. As my code-word for this year is CREATE, doing this seemed like an excellent way to head in the direction of doing, and not simply talking about doing. It has taken me over a week to get it to the stage whereby it is almost ready to go. I cannot show you too much on here but I can say that such occupations are fantastic anti-stress, if you forget that you're really a week behind and that the box won't reach its destination on time. Well, there's always the next box I guess.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Not long ago while zipping around Marks, doing my usual bee-line from knickers to food, I saw a woman peering at her reflection intently while holding up a nice enough nude shirt to her chest. I caught her eye and she said: 'What do you think? I am not sure about it'. To this I promptly replied: 'It suits you, it's the right nude for your complexion. And of course nude is going to be very in for spring-summer, buy it'. She was pleased I made the choice for her but also added what I think of as a super-classic conversation-killer: 'Oh I don't follow fashion, but I'll have this then, thanks.'

I smiled and moved on but as I was pushing my trolley around the aisles, I wondered whether I should have told her to watch The Devil Wears Prada. It's not often that movies reveal earth-shattering truths to mankind not previously communicated via other means, such as a classic novel or The Bible or Shakespearean plays. Even less often does an earth-shattering truth come from a little movie which straddles the chick-lit and mindless popcorn-flick categories as well as this one does. I cannot say that Legally Blonde, much as I adore it, has any particularly poignant piece of dialogue (I am willingly discounting this bit here of course: ENRIQUE: 'Chuck is just a friend...' CHUCK: 'You beeeeach!').

There is a scene in The Devil Wears Prada however that makes for compelling viewing for all people out there who think they are unaffected by fashion, uninterested by it, and who never fail to make a dismissive point about it, often accompanying it with a flick of the wrist. I am not interested in fashion, I wouldn't know. This old thing here? Oh I don't know what year it was, I don't follow fashion. Fashion? What's that?

I always, always, always chuckle to myself when I hear such nonsense because I know something that these poor people do not know. Fashion is like taxes, death, hunger or the need for toilet paper. Fashion is ever-present and inescapable. You may choose to shun Vogue and Harper's, Harvey Nichols and Manolo, but even when you read Woman's Own and OK! and shop at GAP, Primark, Marks or some tragic market, you are buying something that was selected for you by the high-fashion cognoscenti, the ones that it is oh-so-much-fun to make a mockery of.

You don't need to watch the whole movie to get to its salient point. The key scene plays between Andrea, the clueless assistant, and Miranda, the editor. This is what Miranda says to her short-sighted lackey:

You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet, and you select... I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater isn't just blue. It's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean.

And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.

However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing a sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room.

Too damn true but seems like an awful lot of effort to go through when someone asks me whether she should buy the shirt, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Miserable as in miserable weather. One day is serenity, the next day is misery, misery, misery. Like this:

As Phil predicted six more weeks of winter temperatures today (and I being in England predict six more months), I steam-rolled through the very hot deadline for my professor and submitted his application a whole three-and-a-half hours before the deadline. Oh joy, oh genius of efficiency. I heard he has more coming up and will be in touch soon, which left me with a smile on my face, for a combination of reasons, chief amongst them his appreciation of the time I spent on this job and the prospect of more of the same. It will be less stressful too, as I think I have learnt his CV by heart over the past two days.

I went out for a quick coffee and a stick of bread in the afternoon, not a time I am usually setting off, as habit has it that I am out first thing in the morning and back at 2 pm or thereabouts. Today though I had to do it the other way round and was surprised by how incredibly quiet both Starbee and the supermarket were at 3 pm. Maybe I need to re-think my strategy. Maybe I should stay holed up in the morning and then go out in the afternoon. If anything I should be able to avoid the nursery situation at Starbee, particularly bad on Monday mornings between 10 am and midday. Now, if only I managed to write something of note in the morning instead of starting to get going at the magic hour...

Monday, February 1, 2010


Oh supreme utter joy, my favourite month has started and it promises plenty of exciting new things. Today I had to run a couple of quick errands before settling down to work and as I walked back swinging a bag full of eggs (not too much swinging going on obviously), I felt serene. Writing that makes me feel almost odd, as if I were not entitled to feel at least a little less anxious than I have done for quite some time. In truth, things have shifted for me very quickly, just as I had expected, and now it's Steph left, right and centre. I had to cancel what I had on tomorrow because I am doing an application for a professor (closing date, indeed tomorrow) and there is much else that I am pursuing. I may not well be a squillionare any time soon but I must confess that today I felt like one. Not one care in the world. And so I rewarded myself with some very-well deserved books.

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