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More Love for London

8 Aug

I had a post all planned out for today, something about setting up my writing cottage and decorating and general dreaminess. But I couldn’t help but feel a tearing in my heart as all of my friends over in London started posting about feeling trapped in their homes and wanting to escape to Brighton (really? Brighton is the escape plan? oh, dear!).  I want to think positively on this city, the one which gave me so much. She’s ever changing and she can be a real tough cookie (not like NYC though, London is not an out-right bitch, she’s just demanding and has high standards), but that is what makes her so lovely.

I like to follow this blog, Love Letter From London, which hosts posts of nice things, such as beautiful tube stations and pretty dresses from various markets.

I’m speaking to an ex right now about what is going on in London, and I can’t help but remember all the lovely and sweet days we had in the soft September sunshine, walking arm in arm through Kensington and visiting perfume shops and then wandering down to Portobello to look at dresses and jackets and French furniture. And it makes me said to think that now Tottenham Court is a ghost town and that people are not getting to enjoy the warmth of August sweeping over the Thames with the same light hearted spirit that I got to.

I miss London so much, but I am hopeful that what is happening over there right now is a blip on the map, where life starts to regrow and just get better and more amazing. It’s a city that can take a blow, as we all know, and then come back with a vengeance. Which is why it strikes my heart so hard. We’re a lot a like and I love her for it.

Reclaiming Your Music

13 Oct

I   mentioned previously, ahem, how much I love my friend Deborah. Today, she once again made me feel love for her by posting this blog. It’s all about how relationships ruin your favorite music, but how you can reclaim your songs with her simple step by step process. And it’s true, isn’t it? I have music that was ruined by exes simply because every time I hear the artist, I see their face and it makes me sad or angry or a little annoyed with myself that I no longer fit into that stunning orange dress that I used to wear when we went to Burlesque nights out during the Edinburgh Festival…that might have been a tangent. Sorry. I was, erm, inspired?

Anyway.  Read her post.

The Art of the Self Edit

12 Apr

M says that each time you retell a story, you refine it, you learn what works and doesn’t, it all becomes more dynamic. That’s what it means to edit as a writer; it’s the same as anyone does, everyday, with a juicy bit of office gossip. You start off with a long drawn out story, heavy with details you think cannot be left out of the telling, but by the 16th time you’ve told it, your words are sharper, the details cut down to the bare minimum, and your language emphasizing just the most important bits with ease. Your story takes half the time to tell and you’ve memorized your lines and your inflections like a Shakespearian trained actor. Now it’s not so much an amusing antecedent as it is a polished monologue, ready to be whipped out at a moments notice at parties or with a conspiratorial whisper by the water cooler.

Bad writers, like bad gossips, never learn the art of the self edit. They drag you along through superfluous words and run on sentences and punchlines in the wrong spot and they end up with a convoluted plot that no one seems much interested in paying attention to. Their tone is wrong, their voices trail off at the wrong bits, and at the end you are dissatisfied with the way it all went and feel a bit like you wasted quite a large chunk of your time.

I’ve got the best story to tell just now, but it hasn’t been lived-in enough to get the re-telling just right. All the facts and quirky details seem dead important, but it’s still taking too long  to tell the story. It’s still winding around the point, it’s still meandering for too long, and even I am wondering how it’s going to end. Because I’ve got the beginning (girl moves to a house of strangers in a foreign land) and a middle (girl begins to suspect said strangers of doing terrible, weird, and perverted things), and a climax (strangers are weird and perverted in ways she could never have fathomed– a Hitchcockian twist, not a David Lynch surprise), but how is it all going to be resolved?

As M says, my last few weeks, culminating yesterday with a home movie that would make David Lynch shiver with cinematic appreciation, would make the most awesome horror story. I wonder: if we write the script, could we get Roman Polanksi to direct it?

But what should I edit out? If I work on the story, on  myself, long enough, can I edit out the anger? Can I edit out the sick feeling in my stomach or the pain in my neck and back from not sleeping well? Can I edit out the shock that ran through my body as I looked at pictures of my room, my private space being violated by half-dressed middle-aged people? Can I edit out my distrust? Can I be impartial to my own pain and fear and create something universal that other people will want to hear? Because to write well, you have to write without cruelty in your own heart, you have to try to be as clinical as possible and just let the “facts” of the characters dig their own grave. So very Chaucer of me! ha. This mess is already a story that seems to fascinate my friends, but they know all the gory details. They have witnessed this drama unfold for months, like an excruciatingly slow British mini-series. Every new incident is gobbled up and dissected, and yes, dramatized. Swear words are added in, pauses for dramatic effect where there were none fit into spaces, and hysterical laughter at the ridiculousness of each new action helps lighten the dark drama with a much-needed comedic break, transforming the frightening reality into a delightful black comedy. I guess I’d rather my life be Shallow Grave than Saw because at least then I’d be better written, and with Ewan McGregor as my leading man.

Currently, my life, as literature, reminds me a lot more of Down and Out in Paris and London, but I do think that someday, when I finally am able to write this bit of my life out, objectively, as thinly veiled fiction and not as a blog entry, the disgusting and truly ridiculous bits of the last week will be edited down to a few mere paragraphs and the rest of the piece will focus on all the beauty that swelled up and surrounded me during and after. While I should be sitting in a dark room, crying and eating fried food, I am instead sitting at a desk in a sunny room, writing away, while I can hear D and M laughing and chatting happily in one room over. The scent of Earl Grey tea is rising up from a teacup covered in hand painted bunnies and pink flowers and the quilt my mother made me is wrapped around my lap and I am eagerly anticipating the delicious coconut-vegan soup M is going to make for tea and the big screen screening of Psycho with all of my friends.

Sometimes people will try and edit you down, make your life fit into their own stories. Create a character of who they think you should be in order to bounce off the ideas of what they expect their lives to be like. Disappointment in themselves and a failure to achieve their goals makes them want to address your goals and your life. It happens more than sometimes, let’s admit that. But I do firmly believe we are all storytellers, so I’m not going to let anyone write out my dramatic monologues or pick out my dramatic conclusion. I am absolutely, positively the main character in my own little world and I am writing out anyone who is not adding something beautiful to my story. I don’t mind that for the moment I am George Orwell, because in a few more chapters I plan on being Stella Gibbons– I just have to write my way there.

Things I Love Thursday

10 Apr

Late again. I guess, I love procrastination. Or, to be more honest, I love doing things more than I love sitting in front of the computer. Bad trait for a writer…   

But I’ve had a wicked week!   

My bossses have been gone and that means a house free of children, free of being woken up at 7 am, free from snooping. It was great. It was amazing!   

<3 Being touristy around London with V, checking out Japanese pottery and hair demons, eating yummy food in Chinatown, watching the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, drinking beer in Angel, seeing THREE awesome bands with my friends…   

<3 this band in particular… so good. Summer Camp. It was their first live show EVER and they were absolute stars.   

   

But this video for it is soooo much better! However, WordPress won’t let me add a vimeo video for some reason. But watch that one because it is made from clips from the film Last Summer, which I posted a link to a few entries back. The movie was pretty amazing, the song is super fantastic, and the band made me very happy Friday night. I also bought (for a mere 64 pence!) the sequel to the original novel, Come Winter. I also discovered that Evan Hunter, the author of both of these books wrote another book I really liked, Every Little Crook and Nanny. I read that when I was living in Edinburgh and was trying to read every book in the local library. Now, I won’t say that these books are on par with say, my love of Faulkner, but I will say, if you want some fun, engrossing, interesting books to read on the tube, these are my picks. That’s right, best books to read on the tube! Can that be a category of literature? Short, and therefore lightweight and easy to tote around in your already heavy purse (much easier than the copy of War and Peace I tried to read on my bus ride the other day. I am pretty sure I actually did serious damage to my neck having that in my bag. I’m seriously popping half a coedine a day from the pain! I think War and Peace might be an “at home” read. I blame Deb for making me attempt this).   

<3 Digressing. I love that. Obviously.   

<3 My new dress from H&M. I know I am trying to save money, but I saw this while I was trying to kill time last Friday before meeting up with friends in SoHo. And I couldn’t resist.   

Obviously, the white one in the middle...so floaty, so many fabric flowers, sooo me...

 

<3 Last Friday in SoHo. Oh wow. I had such a great time meeting up with my friend P and all his family. His cousins were so much fun and ordering chips from room service at 3 am was a first for me. I felt very much like a rockstar. Dancing around to music and jumping around on hotel beds was also fun. Having to get up and go to work the next day was less fun. But fondue with Nils and Becca made it soooo much better. I still didn’t get to go swimming though!   

<3 Brand new fabric softner that smells amazing. I know it’s dorky, but one of my big plans this week was to wash every single thing that I own and hang it all up to dry in one massive washing day because there was no one around to get mad that I took up all the space. And now all my clothes and my sheets all smell like the most amazing red flowers. I know it’s just chemicals, but I am very happy about it nonetheless.   

<3 New Vitamins. I bought myself new daily vitamins at Boots, but because it was ‘buy 3 for 2″, I tried a few new things, including one that is chock full of B vitamins and CoQ10. Hopefully this gives me loads more energy. I’m such a dork about vitamins. I love them, but I HATE taking pills. So I always buy the chewable kind. I understand wy kids get so excited about their Flintstone vitamins: it’s like a really healthy piece of candy that I get to have once a day.   

<3 London when it’s sunny. It’s beautiful again and I am so happy. I actually wore that H&M dress twice this week so far and I didn’t wear a coat OR a sweater for most of both wearings. That is right, I wore a floaty sleeveless dress out in the sun. HAPPINESS.   

<3 daffodils. There aren’t as many in London as there are in Edinburgh, but it was like old times yesterday when V and I took some pictures by Ally Pally, while we ate our chocolate chip cookies and strawberry tarts out in the park.   

Edinburgh 2007, as taken by V

 

    

<3 phone calls from Mr. VanWinkle for no reason. I love hearing his voice out of the blue!   

<3 a new webcam from my canadian patron saint. now I have one! woot!   

Also, this video. I don’t normally like music without words, but how  

amazing…the song is very beautiful…and the video makes me breathe very deeply and smile…   

The Most Amazing Fondue Recipe Ever

6 Apr

Last Saturday, my lovely friends Nils and Becca came over to help me make it through an East Finchely bound day. We flicked through some recipe books, trying to decide what to make, we had thought cookies, but Nils made the spot of the day: We have a fondue pot! So, why not have ourselves a really grown-up soiree? We sauntered down to the specialty cheese shop and then made the tastiest fondue ever created. 

Here’s what you will need: 

3 rather amazing friends (bring a fourth over later to help you eat all the food to make it an even better party) 

Pink Champagne and Gin and freshly squeezed orange juice for lubrication. 

Now, on to the fondue: 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound Swiss-style cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler, shredded
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (use cornstarch if cooking gluten-free)
  • 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
  • 1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc) or sherry
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Assorted dipping foods such as cubed day-old French bread (skip for gluten-free version), cubed ham (skip for vegetarian option), blanched broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, chopped green bell peppers, peeled and chopped apples or pears

1 Place the shredded cheese and cornstarch in a plastic freezer bag. Seal, shake to coat the cheese with flour or cornstarch. Set aside. 

2 Rub the inside of a 4-quart pot with the cut garlic, then discard. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and bring to a low simmer on medium heat. Bit by bit, slowly stir the cheese into the wine. Stir constantly in a zig-zag pattern to prevent the cheese from seizing and balling up. Cook just until the cheese is melted and creamy. Do not let boil. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in kirsch, mustard and nutmeg. 

3 Transfer the cheese to a fondue serving pot, set over a low flame to keep warm. If your pot is thin-bottomed, a lit candle will probably do. If thick-bottomed, you can use a small Sterno. 

4 Arrange various dipping foods around the fondue pot. 

To eat, spear dipping foods with fondue forks or small forks. Dip to coat with the cheese, and eat. 

Then everyone should sit around the table, discuss inane topics, and then retire to the lounge to watch Twin Peaks. 

Nils grates a pound of cheese!

 

important ingredients...

 

Bitchin Camaro

6 Apr

Apparently, I am very punk rock. At dinner last night, Al and Morgan informed me that during a strange car trip the previous night, they had been discussing favorite songs. And Morgan mentioned that he and I had only just had the same conversation days earlier. And apparently I had said, “Favorite song? Or favorite punk song?”

And Al says to me: “That’s just it, isn’t it? About you? There’s punk rock and then there’s everything else. All the trivial crap. There’s Britney Spears and then there’s drinking in your hotel room until 4 am, breaking glasses in the sink, dancing until dawn, sleeping in your clothes, writing bits of your novel on newspapers on the train ride home at 6 am…there’s everything else and then there’s real punk rock, there’s you.”

I was pretty well flattered by this comment. Because I just don’t see myself as that at all. I see myself as very safe, very boring sort of person. But then I realized that maybe that is who I was when I was younger, but that’s not me anymore. But the expectations of people I used to know still linger in my head and tell me who I am. Which is silly.

My parents, my highschool friends, my neighbors growing up would tell you that I cannot read maps, that I get lost and frazzled very easily. They will say that I am easily overwhelmed and that I cannot carry my own luggage. That I over pack. Even Holdstock sincerely wonders if I would be able to survive living more than a 20 minute walk from Harvey Nichols.

But then these newer friends, these friends that have only seen me as the sort of girl that head rushed right into London, see me as independent and fiesty. And I like that image a lot better. I like being told that if our lives were a slasher flick, that I would survive. What a great image to have in my head: me hacking a serial killer down with a machete.

This week I have the house to myself and I have been writing and printing up a storm these last two days, feeling very vicious towards anything in my way of finishing up my project. I’ve been listening to the playlist Nils left on my grooveshark account, because new music is a beautiful thing to have around. And I like his mixes.  But I feel so torn about what I’m writing about because on one hand, the warm weather gives rise to all sorts of fantastic, resplendent imagery, but my gut instinct is still always to write out the pain and suffering. We’re getting too self-destructive around here, but at the same time, we do always have to tear shit down to the ground to get anything fresh coming up, don’t we?

A certain little birdie told me to check out the movie Last Summer yesterday and I did and I feel all sorts of fucked up about it now. That title has the link to the actual film, so you should give yourself and hour and half in the bath and watch it.

This song is one of the ones on the Nils playlist and I am listening to it on repeat while writing about murder. I don’t know how well they go together, but now you know how my mind works…

The Ethics of Truth

1 Apr

As a fiction writer, I am rarely concerned with the ethics of what I am writing. I worry about my characters, I worry about my plot, I worry about keeping people’s interest. I’m not telling a real person’s story and I don’t need to be delicate with the details. I can say whatever I want.

But blogging makes it a whole different can of worms. I’m writing about my own life, but I am involving all the people around me as well. So, I have to try and keep a lid on things, although I think my fiction speaks volumes about me and how I’m feeling at any given moment. But I try to keep my blog a bit less personal than a diary would be, partially because it’s boring to ramble on about deeply personal things that are not easily relatable to a wide audience, partially because I like to keep some privacy, and partially because I want to keep my job, whatever I am doing at the time.

But I am also being frustrated recently because I am not a very good fiction writer. I am not good at hiding my heart, I wear it right on my sleeve. And all I can write lately is full throttle, my life splashed across the page, like blood you just cannot wash away. And I know that for anyone who knows me, it’s never been more than thinly disguised, but I was at least able to pretend to myself a little bit. Especially when people guessed wrong. It’s sort of like that Carly Simon song: everyone thinks I’m writing about them. Like a horoscope, you can poke your nose into any line and find yourself if you look around hard enough.

What I have been trying to write for the last few months, holed up here in London, was absolute fiction. Light and happy, a novel that was silly and endearing and…can you understand why I have run out of steam? It’s actually finished, just unbelievably boring and not much of myself can be found anywhere in it. And I returned from a weekend away, just full of stories and energy and darkness, but I can’t quite bring myself to post any of that, because it is all so painfully true and at what point do writers need to start hiding the truth? Because at some point, everyone you know and love ends up on the pages and then you aren’t going to have any friends. Or worse yet, all the enemies you have accumulated over the years (and trust me, all interesting people have a huge stack of enemies and I like to think of myself as interesting— if only because so many interesting people have taken the time to make me the bane of their existence) start to know too much about you. Then again, maybe that is what being a writer really is: being brutal honest with everyone in the world, even yourself, and having to admit that this is the way things are. This is the way things have unfolded and we are all idiots to pretend it all any different.

So what are the ethics of truth? When is it okay to lie? When is it okay to smudge the edges of truth, so we don’t hurt each other? And when is it okay to be brutally honest and can we expect forgiveness for that? Or do we even want to be loved by people that have a preconceived notion about who we are and don’t let us tell the truth? Strangely, the people I lie to the most are the people who think I share too much; if only they really knew how much I already do to protect them, let them live with this image they have made of me. But then again, they never read anything I write.

Things I Love

29 Mar

Right, so I had actual complaints that I just didn’t get around to this lost Thursday! Which actually made me feel fabulous, so thanks. I have so much to be thankful this week, so much to absolutely love, so here goes:

<3 Drawing Parties with the most amazing people in London. I love eating popcorn, sharing colored pencils, sketching people out as fuzzy animals and mermaids.

<3 When beautiful movie stars take me out to dinner and there is champagne, even when I don’t drink it because I am trying to be healthy and good. But I love girly chit chat, I love laughing so hard that my sides hurt as very loud guitar music is played, I love group flirting with under-age waitstaff, I love walking through the streets of East London at night when it shimmers.

<3 I love the nanny mafia and how you can trust and count on the people closest to you to always take care of you and have your back, even when there is some bad shit going on. I love that I can call people up at a moment’s notice and they will drop whatever they are doing to help me out. And I love that I would do the same for them as well.

<3 I love my friends and how generous and amazing they are. How we don’t argue or fight, we just get lost and wander and smile and don’t even care about anything but being with each other…because we have fucking AMAZING adventures.

<3 I love the Tube. Sorry, I totally do. I love sitting on it for long periods of time, people watching, smiling, listening to my ipod.

<3 The Rentals. What a great band. What a great soundtrack to my very happy week.

<3 4am, the rain, a strange place: magic. I don’t want anything else, I don’t need anymore.

<3 Love without sex makes me feel warm like nothing else. Friend Love is indescribable and I can’t fathom why things should have to change…they don’t.

<3 My first football game. My first actually finished beer. My first footie scarf. I cheered, I laughed, I drank beer out of a large plastic cup and had a great time.

<3 Mexican eggs.  I still think Nigella is a slut, but I should thank her for reminding me that this is one of my favorite foods.

<3 This song! Fuck it makes me want to bounce around and kiss random people ;) I love the Futureheads!

<3 My wifey! She gets a special shout out because she is so fucking cute. Go my little G!

<3 Short skirts and leather jackets and multi-colored cows and having a fucking great laugh.

<3 more letters, that show up every day and have the heart stamp of approval all over them.

<3 Kate Nash’s new song

<3 The book: Everything is Illuminated. Thanks Steve for giving it to me, I finally got around to reading it this weekend and I have to say, it may not have been the most appropriate book for my travels (as it made me really sad and a bit angry), but I read it all and it didn’t kill me :)

<3 I think you are a bit of all right !

<3 getting my stuff back and starting a pro-scotland revolution.

<3 the travel bug!

<3 getting the fuck out of my house and the smile lines it causes.

<3 ‘if you weren’t my friend, I’d give you one! You’re hot!’ This is just what you need to hear when you feel hot and sweaty and really really drunk and a bit sick.

<3 Gin in pint glasses. Which means I fell off the wagon, but I prefer to think of it as I JUMPED off the wagon. It was awesome.  Nah, it was rad. ;)

WHEN WE MEET i LISTEN TO your HEARTBEAT. WHEN WE SPEAK i FIND IT HARD TO CONCENTRATE. WHEN WE TOUCH i FIND IT HARD TO THINK STRAIGHT. WE’RE SINGING OUT OF TUNE, BUT i STILL WANT TO SING WITH you!

<3 also, I miss nick something terrible. I know he’s in china being super awesome, but I still wish I could speak to him everyday like normal. Life without having someone to share it all with is less fun. After all, if you can’t make a drunken phone call and describe your day, it’s like it didn’t happen.

<3 top secret missions! spy adventures!

Throw away all those extra words…

20 Mar

Since I have returned from NY, I have made a conscious effort to be more self involved. I am pretty sure that isn’t how most people go about enlightenment, but I did realize that I needed to spend more time and energy on myself, rather than on others. This meant that a few people received brisk text messages and emails from me (mostly they were hard to write, one gave me such a thrill that I did wonder what on earth I had been doing speaking to this person in the first place) and this is how I cleared my social calendar.

So today, for whatever reason, I woke up at 4 am. That is incredibly early. It’s so early that people in America were still awake and I managed to waste the first two hours of my being awake talking to people on MSN. That was silly, but good, because I was all interneted out by 6 am. And then I sat down at my desk and started to re-work my novel, which has been laying around, unhappily untouched for several months now. Which was extremely silly, because it is finished. By finished I mean, all of the chapters, plus a few more, that I had outlined originally have been written. There is a beginning, middle, and end. Plot, climax, dialogue. Oh, snap.

But all writers know: just getting that all done does not make a piece finished. It just means that you are now onto the next stage of writing, which is editing. This is maybe my least  favorite stage of writing. This is because it involves re-reading every single line you have written, out loud, maybe with a funny voice here and there, and being ruthless. But I discovered a very happy fact: Letting a manuscript age in a drawer, as somebody famous once said, I am sure, is the best way to get over my biggest writing block, which is my love of my own words.

All through college and university and even most of my writing jobs, I was writing on a really tight deadline. So, I would get an assignment and start my research, take my notes, sketch out my papers or stories. I was never the sort to put a paper off to the last minute, I was always a very meticulous student. But I wouldn’t leave myself much time to let a paper simmer– what student does? You have so many papers to write, even if you start each one the day you get it, you are still working on a tight schedule. So my editing of all my papers and stories took place very very soon after my writing them. And so, even when I knew I needed to cut a paper by 200 words (or worse still, 1,000!), all I could see was how achingly beautiful my sentences were. I have a lot of ego about the beauty of my prose. My main problem is that each of my sentences do tend to be very well crafted, but they don’t always flow into the next one very well or advance the story or point of the paper in any way. As Mr. Holdstock says: line by line, you create something lovely, but as a whole, the thing needs help. Ouch. But true. And so editing was always a bitch: how do I know what to cut? I love each sentence independently, so how can I possibly cut any of them, just to make ‘cohesion’, that foul little word used by editors.

But editing is like packing: easier to do if you let something sit in a drawer long enough. And by this I mean, when I move, and I move a lot, the first things to go into the trash are the things I haven’t looked at in months. I just started packing up my things the other day, in a fierce rage of having too many things and feeling weighted down, and it was incredibly easy to look at a lot of things and go: well, I haven’t used that in MONTHS. I don’t even remember why I bought it or why I thought it was important. I won’t pack that to take to Istanbul, so why do I own it now?  In the end, I have far fewer things in my room and I am very happy about all this.

In my novel? Well, I haven’t looked at it in ages. And I forgot why I told Holdstock and VanWinkle why I had to keep this chapter or why it was incredibly important that this scene appear in a certain spot. In the end, I am chopping and splicing my novel as though I were Dr. Frankenstein, just checking to see if it would actually be better to have an arm coming out of the forehead. I am even experimenting with cutting in pieces of my other, partially finished, novel. It’s like a crazy laboratory in here today and I am loving it.

So, my new literary advice: forget about what you are writing about. Leave it for a few months. Go and get an all-consuming hobby, like doing everything on the “101 Things to Do in London Before You Die” list.  Go on a mini break to your home town for a month. Be too social. Feel like everyone around you is doing so many more creative and wonderful things than you. Feel a bit overwhelmed. Have a sort of breakdown where you become a hermit that bakes cupcakes. Then tuck right back in. Well, at least do steps 1 and 8. Just try and enjoy yourself in between and don’t beat yourself up too much, because we can’t all be productively creative every day.

Even Dutch Pedophiles Are More Focused On Their Long-term Goals Than I Am

17 Mar

Oh, god, could it be true? Probably. I was, once again, reading other people’s blogs today, while I was half thinking about how I really needed to start focusing on what I am going to do after London and after I travel. I was focusing on this huge decision by reading about celebrity gossip, how to make a lemon meringue pie (Easter is coming up after all and my mother always makes one on Easter), and checking my email. To be fair to myself, I was a bit tired from going on a very long walk with Emily, all the way up to Hampstead Heath, around it, and back home again. She runs. I do not. You can imagine what I looked like. Ahem.  So anyway, there I was procrastinating, thinking about doing some writing, probably.

And then my phone rang. And then I got a text. And then another. And then I remembered that I am going to the opera tonight and so I had better pick out something to wear and wash my hair and put my contacts in and suddenly, I was overwhelmed. And pressed for time. And I knew that I wasn’t going to get any writing done today at all because my social life is eating my professional life. Which is very confusing to me, because when I lived in Edinburgh, I got a lot of writing done. I was always writing. I wrote in my bed, I wrote at the kitchen table, I wrote on the couch while the girls I looked after watched The Simpsons. I think this is because the truth about Edin-burgers is that they are innately lazy and enjoy a good self imposed exile and so my social life was never so all consuming. Despite Edinburgh taking no more than an hour to walk from end to end (I lived in Leith and worked in Murrayfield and it took me an hour to walk or 20 minutes on the bus, and those sections of town are pretty darn far removed) and yet, no one will travel farther than 20 minutes walking time to see someone. In the winter (8 months of the year), they won’t travel more than 5. So, this means that when I moved to Edinburgh and lived in Tollcross and a boy I was dating lived on Easter Road (20 minute bus ride) we were in what is considered to be a “long distance relationship”. It did not end well for us.

But in London, people generally allow that they are going to spend at least 40 minutes getting anywhere and so they don’t really mind meeting up any day of the week and no one really plans that far ahead, calling you up last minute to do things.  So all of a sudden, I have a lot less free time. Although, another issue is that surely, I would rather be out of the house right at 7pm so that I don’t get reeled into reading the kids a bedtime story. (For some reason, lately they have been trying to convince me that ‘Beano’ is a book. It is not. And I do not read stupid comics, and I most certainly do not read them aloud). So that means all the times that I used to spend curled up in my bed, writing away happily, is now spent in dark rainy streets, using up all the money on  my oyster card to get away from suburbia.

So anyway, during my time procrastinating, I read, who else, but Penelope Trunk. I often time think that while she’s sitting at her desk, pondering what sort of article she should write that day, that she thinks of me and creates something in that vein. Which is what she did yesterday: she wrote an article about how not having any long term goals makes it impossible to get any work done because you aren’t sure if any of the work you will be doing will be valid for anything and so you get stuck and you stop. And in my case, you socialize. Partially because I have been told over and over that knowing people and having contacts is a really wonderful way for you to advance your career, but mostly because it is so easy and so fun to just hang out. It’s so easy to leave the house and relax, and trust me: you don’t know job stress until you realize that for 6 hours of your day, you are listening to children scream at top volume. Or worse still, talking non-stop for an hour straight while you are walking slowly in the cold, your fingers going numb and your brain on fire…

Right. So as you can see, I clearly have had my mind eaten away by this job as of lately and it’s actually making it hard to focus on my long term goals. And apparently, while I am sitting here, flummoxed and confused, drinking gin and tonics in Sloane Square, Dutch pedophiles are plotting out how to legalize having sex with twelve-year-olds. That’s right, they formed a political group. And they are campaigning for office. And then deciding that campaigning is taking away from their LONG TERM GOAL of legalizing pedophilia, so they stopped running for office to focus on making the general public aware of and sympathetic to their plight.

I’m bemused. And devastated. I’m actually less organized than child molesters. Although, let’s face it, I should have known that all along. After all, child molesters are always really planning ahead and doing all sorts of crazy hard work to organize themselves, from building secret basement dungeons to buying up all the cotton candy in three counties so that they can lure the child beauty pageant winner that they have been stalking and photographing for the last two years into said basement dungeon. They really do plan ahead. I bet they even have to-do lists where they prioritize all the really important things in their lives. I also bet they are very capable of packing light on vacation because they have already narrowed down what is really important to them and never need excess baggage. Lucky bitches.

I, however, do not have such a straight forward long term goal. I do not know, deep down, that I want to do something so badly that I have organized my life, my political affiliations, or marital status to reflect this goal, nor would I stage a battle with the law to be able to do that thing. While I don’t think I want to ever see these crazy Dutch people succeed, I do admire their dogged single mindedness. I admire their ambition. I admire their organization. I wonder if they have a productivity blog?

Although, probably, if they had one, they would, like most people who have productivity blogs (and there are A LOT out there) they would tell me to pick a goal, focus on it, and cut out all the social crap. I mean, they would spend 1,000 words saying that and also add some things in about having notes on your wall urging you on to your goals and making charts with star stickers as well. But basically, they would say: stop being so damn social. So that is my new long term goal: to be less social.  I bet hermits get a shitload of work done.

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