Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Three years ago today, at this precise moment, I was almost in Chicago. I was there for work yet again, but I had taken some days off beforehand, so that I could have a gander and enjoy the magnificent city, its blue sky, the iced lake, the very brisk -20C or thereabouts and the generous sales. I had only just started this online diary and I certainly regret that in its first few weeks, I was not that forthcoming in updating it. I could have written so much during my days in Chicago, but I was wrapped up in work and in the PhD and I had not yet discovered the immense value of recording one’s life, even the plain, the mundane, the painful.

So much has happened over these past three years that I cannot quite believe I really am talking of three years. On second thoughts, it’s not what has happened that strikes me as incredible but rather what has changed. I still live in the same house and wear the same clothes (more or less… but it so just happens that today I was out in exactly the same knitted dress and puffa coat and long boots I wore in Chicago on this day), but I am a different person. I don’t think anyone who knows me can quite tell the difference, but I can, in that subtle way in which we look the same in the mirror every morning but pictures from weeks before look immensely different to ourselves.

The most remarkable change is one that has nothing to do with the way I look or feel though. I am different because I’ve learnt about the importance of keeping track of my everyday doings. I have a paper diary, as usual, this site and another site as well, and now that there are so many applications for the iPhone, it’s remarkably easy to keep track of every single little thing that catches my eye. So I am a little despondent about my last trip to Chicago, when I was so sparse in the cataloguing side of things, but as my key word for 2011 is FORWARD then that’s what I should focus on. And next time I am in Chicago, I won’t skimp on recording everything.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Depths of Winter

The day started late, as it’s been customary since Christmas. I go to bed early enough in the evenings, but I can happily snooze until 9 am. The hot duvet is such a comfort when it’s cold and dark outside that I’ve got no reason, nor need, to throw my legs out of the bed any earlier. William and Victoria too enjoy these sleep-ins. When I first checked the time today, I heard William’s soft snoring from his corner of the room. That’s a sound that always makes me happy.

I find January 17 a peculiar date. It’s usually the day when I feel like the new year isn’t new any longer. I feel like I am hurtling towards month number two, and that in the depths of winter (we’re barely four weeks in), things spring eternal. I was scouring the soil at the graveyard in Knutsford on Saturday, but saw no snowdrops yet, nor the promise of them. On my window sill, on the other hand, cyclamens are pushing through valiantly, even though the new guinea is as low-key as it has been since I bought it many months ago and the azalea looks pretty much dead. I think they’re just… sleeping. Just like me.

Yesterday I had a gander at my local M&S and my heart skipped with joy as I saw the first of the Valentine’s tack that will take over our shops for the next few weeks. Oh, how do I love this non-holiday! My wedding anniversary is only two days later and there is nothing I prefer than to celebrate how lucky I’ve been in love for so many years already. And before then I’ll watch Groundhog Day again (disclosure: actually… I’ve already done…) and will hole up in the house and enjoy winter. God I wish I could stop time. Or maybe I wish I could slow it down. Yes, slowing it down would do just fine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Au Revoir Mes Amis – Part IV

January doesn’t really start for me until I put away the Crimbo decorations. It’s a process that I’ve always found bitter-sweet (or... sweat-and-sour, I should say). Part of me is usually thrilled at the prospect of novelty that January has always brought into my life, and this is especially true this year.

Yet, another part of me, the larger one, I should add, is not at all thrilled and treats the unhooking of glass baubles and detaching of twinkly things and lights as a little death. If I am spending the first day (or most of it), after such process at home, as was the case today, I end up walking around in a daze, my eyes searching the comforting glow of the lights on the tree, and finding only a dark, empty corner.

I think it’s symptomatic that I’ve wanted to write of these things each year since I started my online diary. In fact, I think that my first post ever was the very first Au Revoir Mes Amis in 2008. Let me check. No, it was my second post ever. Then I repeated it in 2009 and in 2010 and then today.

Today was a dark day. It rained for a while, although I am not sure those spits actually qualify as rain. I had a couple of errands to run, stuff I had forgotten twice over last week. After those, I sat in Starbucks, determined to crack open my new diary (the paper one). And I did so, except... I didn’t know what to write, which is a bit unlike me. I think I was suffering from New Diary Syndrome, that odd affliction that catches most writers out when something new and papery falls open on the table.

A new diary or journal is full of promises, of unwritten adventures, of new hopes and starts. I felt extremely hopeful a year ago, but the result was disappointing. Now I’ve got novelty served on a platter, and I am fearful of it; I am fearful to go after what is righteously mine. Hence I soiled the new diary with an extremely self-conscious page of tentative prose which was neither here nor there, really. But I ended that page by talking about my journal, the one I’ve wanted to start since October 2008 (I kid you not) and the one that I am starting tonight. By the time I will put the decorations away again next January, I will have a journal full of drawings to leaf through and that, in itself, is already uplifting. I don’t know why we treat our journals and diaries as if they were repositories of our pains when, really, they should exist to blunt them, not reflect them.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hello 2011

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