Friday, 31 December 2010

The year that was, what's left of the year that is.


There’s literally only hours left of 2010 and as I type I’m sipping a mango bellini, sitting amongst the family in a pretty blue dress. I'm freshly showered after the most enlivening of swims at Bilgola Beach and am looking forward to dinner later and perhaps some dancing on the lawn come midnight with my LB, under the stars with a beautiful north easterly unsticking the heat from the air. 2011 here we come.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Edinbrrrr and the great London freeze

It's been a while, I know, I know, but honestly, in the last three weeks our house - and my life - has felt like peak hour at Victoria train station with all the comings, goings, drunk people, delays and destinations sought and departed from. After another similarly crazybusy week the next big event will be home via Heathrow so I'm not going to complain. And frankly, apart from the defrosting limbs and misery that is fleece-lined tights under jeans with two pairs of socks and three cardigans, there really isn't much to moan about. 


My week of nannying was exhausting and terrifying but reasonably uneventful if, by uneventful, you don't count screaming fits to the point of paralysis about the fact your brother won't give you HIS jumper to wear to school because you lost yours the day before and fuck logic and reason and Stern Voice because you're now running 10 minutes late to get the others to choir practice. Note to self: screaming and crying and refusing to move will eventually get you whatever you want. I can't remember the last time I experienced such unadulterated rage towards someone barely of reading age.

Really though, the week passed without broken limbs or lost children or accidents to house or car so all in all I'm calling it a success. Though I'm not sure my mother is all that thrilled with my increasing uncertainty-cum-resolve against parenting as something I might like to do, you know, forever. I blame The Jumper Incident. I honestly do not know how my Mum did it.


While I was nannying though two of my three siblings arrived to stay with LB and I in anticipation of Edward, youngest brother's 21st birthday. It was so much fun to have them here, even better after I finished nannying and even more fun when we surprised Edward at dinner on the Saturday night for his birthday with the arrival of parentals. He was shocked and delighted, we were delighted and despite the fact I remember clearly when he was born, never mind that I used to bathe him, change his nappies and dress him up for my fun and amusement and am thus Officially Old, it was so special to have the whole family together for such a significant occasion.

The jaw-dropping sheer deliciousness of the food at Gaucho Grill where we went for dinner certainly contributed, as did the sight of Mum being offered a shot of Jaegermeister from a girl carrying shot glasses in a gun belt at the pub afterwards. Thankfully the evening didn't go down that path. At least not for anyone over the age of 22...

On the next afternoon LB and I had what was meant to be a small, civilised engagement party. And from the hours of 2pm until about 7pm it was just that. Glasses of pink wine and gifts of more pink wine and fabulous new saucepans. Until further rounds of champagne were bought and my brothers got control of the music and after that it was a bleery, blurry mess for everyone. Except me. God bless an ability to sip a glass of wine like it's the last you'll ever have. It's just a shame that the other members of the collective household - those on the tenancy agreement (no names mentioned LB) and certain other assorted guests (no names mentioned siblings all) had no such self-restraint and the post-party party involved a lot of what Edward has termed "talking into the big white telephone." And what I call just plain disgusting.


After the siblings left - Ol and Soph for Sydney and Edward for New York, the next stop on his ridiculous world trip (I'd be more jealous if he and his mates had done anything more cultural than pub crawls....) Mum, Max, LB and I took off for a weekend in Edinburgh. We flew up there on the Friday night and while we were at dinner, at the Tower Restaurant on the rooftop of the Museum of Scotland, it began to snow. Thankfully by rooftop, they mean enclosed rooftop, but we still had the most spectacular view of Edinburgh Castle and once the snow started coming down it added a certain air of bonhomie to the freezing toes bonanza that was our little travelling party.

We woke the next morning to several inches of snow and, something London has yet to cotton on to at this time of year, sunshine. It was actually beautiful. We spent the day wandering about Edinburgh and in particular the castle, where I introduced Mum to the delights of mulled wine, and then in the direction of Holyrood Palace via a delicious vegetarian lunch, where we attempted to talk about anything but the burning pain that is frozen extremities. It was, literally, f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. So freezing that I ducked into the first tourist shop we could find to buy some cashmere socks. As luck would have it the only colour in my size were a kind of loch ness green but they worked a bloody miracle and with the tights and gloves and coat and the cardigan so woolly there is nothing short of a flock of naked sheep out there, I felt ok. Enormous and uncomfortable. But ok.

We were staying in this amazing apartment in the New Town (new meaning it was built six centuries after the Old Town but still three centuries before we found ourselves staying there with all the modern comforts of today, including, no less, heated tiles.) And on the Saturday night LB and I cooked dinner before we all headed for bed while snowflakes the size of 10p coins began to pile up outside.

The next morning. It looked like this: (nb: that is LBB and not me clearing their throat in such manly tones at the end... In case you were worried...)


                        video

Super exciting and very very cold. We had planned to head down to Leith, the part of the city where the royal yacht Brittania is docked and then head to the Scottish National Museum of Modern Art but while we were waiting for our taxi someone told us the airport has been closed because of the snow. We were meant to fly out that night with the parentals flying out the next day back to Sydney. So sadly, one way or another, we had to get back to London. British Airways were delightfully unhelpful and so calculating the risks - and the impending snowdump due later that day - we decided to get the train.

Now, normally the train takes just over four and a half hours to get to Kings Cross. But, because of the delays getting to Edinburgh in the first place, the still falling snow, the ice on the lines and a broken down train in front of us somewhere near York it took us closer to eight. We all managed to get seats which was nothing short of a miracle but with all the delays (and thank you London Underground for that most convenient tube strike too), we got home at the same time we would have had we caught the 8.30pm flight. Which, hilariously, was the only flight that did manage to leave Edinburgh that day.

All part of the adventure I suppose. And it was incredible to see the landscape blanketed in white as we passed through. And incredible that LB and I had had the foresight to pack the half drunk bottle of white in our suitcase. Happy days.




We also seemed to have packed the freezing temperatures and the snow with us though because this last week in London has been frozen solid with inches of snow and icy winds. It's only now that it's rained and the temperature has risen to a tropical 6 degrees that the snow and ice have melted. But honestly, I can't remember it ever being this cold in London before. Snow is fun and pretty and the ultimate novelty distraction but when the cold wind burns your face off it isn't so fun. I was so cold at work this week I was forced to buy some fleece-lined tights. It was the final farewell to last of my sartorial dignity in the hell that is winter dressing but my care factor was much like the temperature. That is, zero.

If I wasn't a dyed in the wool southern hemisphere kind of a girl all the snow and the decorations and the shiny lights would have me well and truly jumping up and down with Christmas fervour by now. As it is I'm still suitably dazzled and LB and I have got into the spirit with our own lights but come on, Christmas isn't Christmas without a morning swim, yes? That being said, our newly arrived friends, Tors and her husband The Hungry One hosted a tree trimming Christmas dinner on Friday night and with the champagne chilling in the last of the balcony's snowdrift and the tree suitably decorated Tor put on a meal to rival the best of them with everything from pork and requisite crackling to plum pudding and eggnog custard. Great food to match the company and one of many things to be grateful for at this time of year, fleece-lined tights notwithstanding.


This week the comings and going continue with my friend from days of Brighton old staying and me working variously at the gallery as the book cranks towards really, finally, happening and then on kings road and then nannying and then catching up with friends and then going to see the brilliant play Blackwatch at the Barbican on Friday. I'm not going to know which foot goes in which shoe it's going to be that busy but then the week will be done and my most pressing job will be packing for Sydney. Someone mentioned packing gumboots but I'm choosing to ignore that...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Vera, Mum, the rest of the gang, a surprise 21st birthday and a weekend in Edinburgh

It's been a buuussssssssssssy couple of weeks.

Between the family visits, the epic week of nannying, the date with some serious princess dresses and a just ended trek home from Edinburgh via eight hours of train delays thanks to some rather lovely but bone chilling snow.... well, it's been hard to find a moment to myself.

If it kills me, I will find one this week. Somewhere......

Monday, 8 November 2010

The lost art of accessorising


It's been a breakthrough week. Since my sartorial breakdown a fortnight ago on the back of months wandering in the equivalent of post-Christmas sale changing room confusion I have found my way back to somewhere resembling me. And all it took was getting back to basics. And by basics I mean beads.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Dressing the weekend

The week is off to a productive start. If, by productive, one means intermittent attention to work between the hours of 10 and 4, new shoes and too much manchego and pesto while waiting for LBB to finish the culinary masterpiece that will be boeuf bourguignon in two hours time.

I'm feeling rather tired by all the exertions. Though it could also feasibly be the cloudy, snuggly warmth now tucking into the nooks and crannies of our apartment courtesy of the radiators that's actually making me dozy. Whatever...


The week is begunneth and the countdown to all things year end is on. It was 3 degrees here this morning. It's three weeks until the siblings arrive for Little Brother's 21st birthday and seven weeks until LBB and I fly home for Christmas. Cannot wait. Though thankfully there is plenty planned to amuse and distract between now and then.




Weekend being case in point. Tors and her husband, known generally as The Hungry One, took LBB and I out for dinner on Friday night to Hibiscus - a belated birthday present from They of the Recently Arrived. Intense, flavorsome, heavenly food with a white wine from somewhere in the Alsace region that I made a mental note to remember the name of, only to promptly forget. The Wedding may be in excess of 12 months away but I'm already doing some mental filing of Useful Things To Remember and Good Things to Include. The white wine being one of them.... Oh well. I have 12 months to perfect this whole bridezilla thing.

Anyway - back to the weekend. So dinner on Friday was great friends and good food and a turn in the green dress I bought in Berlin last year and love love love but have far from worn worn out.

In truth I'm having a style crisis. Working in retail does not help.

And living in London only confuses the matter with the multiple layers and excess of skinny jean hipsters and my beloved jewellery drowned by cardigans and scarves and indecision. And it's now that jeanstuckedintoboots time of year and it's very upsetting for a girl of my decidedly pear shape. Even confronting the possibility of such a get up guarantees an inner running dialogue (once we've confirmed of course that jeans are the trouser of choice for the day) that goes something like "No way. But it will keep your toes warm. But it will make your legs look like chicken drumsticks wedged into footwear. But it will keep your toes and your feet warm. But you will look fat and a bit ridiculous and don't pretend you won't feel self-conscious. But it will keep your toes and feet warm AND dry. Oh fuck this. Just wear a dress."


Like I said. Identity crisis. At least in Bondi I had a vague understanding of my sartorial sense. These days my wardrobe has a sort of schizophrenic vomit thing going on. It's very confusing. And basically means that without fail I leave the house loathing what I'm wearing, uncomfortable, self conscious and completely unsure what I can do about it. God only knows what will happen when the time comes to look for The Dress.

But I digress. Back to the weekend. On Saturday night, after a day spent mooching about at home avoiding any direct contact with the cold air outside, LB and I took off for the Brixton Academy to see The Cat Empire. I'd never been there before and LB had never see them live before but it was so much fun and the music was just insane. Sunday was again spent mooching about before a trip to Chiswick for house stuff and groceries before dinner in Covent Garden with LB's Kiwi friends. I had planned to see an exhibition of some sort at some stage - Ai Wei Wei at Tate was crossed off the list last week before visitors were crossed off the exhibition - but it didn't eventuate and I wasn't too sad about it. One less outfit to worry about apart from anything else.


Art failing aside, all in all it was a successful weekend with a healthy mix of activity, eating and bludging about in tracksuit pants. This week I'm hoping there'll be some culture amidst the crappy grind of nowhere jobs and maybe also some exercise and a date night. Right now though there's boeuf bourguignon.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Welcome back woollens


It's cold. The clocks don't change for another two weeks, winter doesn't officially start until November 1 but today was the first day I felt it in my toes. That numbing, achy cold that says, "Hello, I think I need socks. And probably some sensible leather shoes in the form of smart boots." I was anticipating this day. Last week I pulled out all my woollens - the chunky knits, the cute cardies, the accessory scarves, the functional scarves, the v-necks, the roll necks and my three pairs of knitted bed socks. And still I left the house today in fabulous but totally inappropriate slip ons...

The grey is steadily making itself known, mopping up the last occasional blue days and sunshine with a moody sort of melancholy that will eventually see it settle in until March. Which feels like forever away and too soon at the same time. Not too soon for sunshine mind, more too soon for a new year with an old broken plan. But one thing at a time.


LB and I had a lovely weekend, armed with little more than a plan to do "Something" that involved leaving the house. Something turned out to be a stroll through Portobello Road Markets, the purchasing of an exquisite, totally insane necklace (for me, not LB) and a visit to Hyde Park to see the new Anish Kapoor sculpture exhibition. It's been a while since I dragged LB somewhere in the name of Art but we had a great time and I am now earnestly in love with Kapoor's work. His Sky Mirror appeared to me like an alchemic dish of lost souls and moments, with the stainless steel disc angled skywards and thus reflecting the shifting grey clouds and silent thoughts of the world above. It was just exquisite.


To write about it or not write about it however remains the question. Pithy, self-indulgent observation is one thing, sitting down to extol my MAsterful opinion on contemporary art is quite another. I still haven't written anything for myself since the knee-capping of my confidence and honestly, it feels just like that summer in 2006 when that stupid big wave at South Bondi landed on me after a moment of hesitation (FYI dive, don't think) and I came away with a mouthful of sand and an inability to go beyond knee deep for the rest of the summer without having a serious anxiety attack.

I'd like to imagine that my triumphant career version of the conquering of my oceanic panic by successfully swimming the Bondi to Bronte 12 months later was somewhere in the non-wave near pipeline but I'm not holding my breath. Basically, my convoluted point is that I think I have to learn to swim again, artistically speaking. And without the help of that patient Bronte lifeguard. 


I'm trying not to over-think overthinking it but giving up on my career - momentarily, temporarily or forever, whatever it is I'm doing right now - is basically me on the beach, refusing to get my feet wet. Or unable to. I don't know. Whatever the case, Anish Kapoor on a cold, grey day in Hyde Park made something inside me want to get back in the water. 

I guess I just have to trust that whenever I'm ready, I won't sink, despite the conditions. Though speaking of conditions, I probably shouldn't be waiting for a warm day either.  

Saturday, 2 October 2010

For the love of girls

Lovely Boy is currently in Munich indulging in that annual paean of all things male excess otherwise known as Oktoberfest. Beer, schnitzel, pork knuckle and more beer, where atmosphere means a roller coaster and an oompa loompa band and civility doesn't necessarily mean the use of cutlery. I struggle to envision anything less appealing than an overcrowded tent full of drunk men and rotisserie meats but then perhaps I'm just a snob. I prefer to think it's that I'm a discerning female but whatever floats your boat... Either way, I've had a lovely couple of days.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Turkish delights



Lovely Boy's and my trip to Turkey was The Best Holiday. Undoubtedly this was aided by the fact that before we left things for both of us were collectively pretty shite so anywhere with alcohol and sunshine would have seemed heaven-sent. But even sans context, especially sans Luton Airport departure, LB's and my trip to Turkey was The BEST Holiday. I'd even go so far as to say ever.

There's something to be said for a sudden change in environment and the relocation from hectic, chilly, misery-inducing London to hot, sunny, breezy Kalkan was a slap in the face in the form of a warm, embracing hug.


Turkey charmed the pants off us. The hotel we were staying at had guests who'd been returning for a decade and it wasn't hard to see why, with fabulous staff and jaw-dropping views of Kalkan old town, and the hospitality we encountered everywhere made us feel like new best friends or long lost old ones with everyone we met. The fact that every restauranteur addressed us collectively and repeatedly as "Lovely couple" also didn't hurt.


We had seven days of hand-in-hand wandering, gourmet food, cocktails and swimming at some of the most beautiful beaches and it was resolutely a relaxing holiday. Even before I decided that I hated art and history and culture and everything intellectually stimulating we had agreed that this would be a holiday on a holiday. I even had LB in the habit of afternoon naps by the time the end of the week rolled around...

Our days were spent swimming, dozing and reading. Our evenings were spent at rooftop restaurants with warm breezes, pink wines and views over the harbour. Even the excessive Celine Dion soundtracks couldn't dint the ambience, try though it might.


There were some exquisite highlights. We had one day at Caretta Beach Club, a totally fabulous little place cut into the cliffs out along the bay from our hotel. Think sun beds, sun bed service, large pillows and a floating pontoon out in the ocean. We had another day at Kaputas Beach, down in a big gorge that just spat out into the sea. Now I have swum in some breath-taking places before - Spiaggia della Pelosa in Sardinia certainly comes to mind - but even with the hardarse pebbles at Kaputas I've never swum in water so blue that even when you're in it the colour remains so vibrant. It was honestly like swimming in bright blue paint - but arguably more refreshing. It was just gleeful.


And then there was our last full day. LB, in a bid to find one swimming hole not wracked with pebbles, insisted on a trip to Patara Beach - 18km of assured white sand. And so we went. Me, LB, my freckles and enough factor 50+ to slather the entire navy. We had a guy one evening say that he could tell it was our first night in Kalkan by the colour of our skin. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was our fourth, or that I would be going home this colour. But I digress.

So we went to Patara. We had our sun beds, we had our umbrellas and I had my complex about being hideously ugly in such brutal natural light with its neon-esque effect on my freckles. Basically, I was nothing less than a joy to be with.


LB wanted to go for a walk along the beach. I really didn't. LB said he thought it would be fun and that we could get away from all the people. I said I didn't mind the people. LB said, I would really like to go for a walk and it would mean a lot to me if you came too. So me, my guilt, my freckles and LB went for a walk. And yes, it was beautiful and the scenery - natural and not so natural...


... was highly memorable. Once we were away from all the people and the matching leopard print we stopped and LB turned to me and I honestly thought, uh-oh here comes my talking to. And this was what he said: "You need to stop being so mean about yourself because I think you're beautiful." And then this is what he did: he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

If it was a diversionary tactic to stop me thinking about my freckles it sure as hell worked because I sure as hell said yes. And so LB has been promoted. To LBB. Lovely Betrothed Boy.

The rest of the day was a blur of giggles and perma-smiles and funny looks and a feeling of contented exhilaration unlike anything I've ever felt before. Being betrothed is, frankly, awesome.


And after an afternoon of phone calls and text messages, LBB and I took to the old town for our last dinner and, in a serendipitous sign, had the best meal of the entire trip. Delicious food, fabulous view, jaw-dropping old building. It was truly special.

Getting back to London the next night was something of a mission and we finally got in the door close to 3am, startling our house guests who were expecting us at the same time the following night. Exhaustion (and current possible throat infection) aside, being back in London feels ok, great even if I think about two of my dearest friends now living here (said startled house guests) but it has been so heart-warming to experience the joy of all our family and friends at the Big News.

And as for the utterly beautiful antique ring on my finger, that we found at Gray's Antique Market, well words can't do it justice - but my much improved touch typing skills are certainly testament to its distracting, eye-catching ability.

Love is indeed in the air and on my finger and sitting next to me on the sofa. All that's missing is some baklava. Screw the job.

The post too big for a title

_________________________________________________

That there is the line I've drawn underneath all and everything that has happened in the last two months. There's been a litany of reasons for my fall into this most epic of writing black holes and I'd be lying if I said sitting down to write now, after two months of barely an email, is easy. It's oddly a physical challenge as much as a psychological one and pushing past all the rejection and self-confidence issues that have overwhelmed me lately feels like pushing over a wall of concrete in order to stagger up a really steep hill. But because I've drawn a line and because I'm now needing to write in order to move forward I'll neatly summise the two key events that kneecapped me and then, well, draw another line:

- First: an email from the editor at an unnamed art magazine telling me my writing style was "too broadsheet for the particular kind of art journalism they were looking for." With the kicker: "but I'm not saying no-one will ever publish your work." This is the first time I've written since receiving that email and I still feel sick and ashamed and a bit beaten.

- Then: a successful job application that lead to what even I, in my most pathetically self-doubting moments, know was a good interview.... only to then have to chase the HR department to confirm that I didn't get the job and for the kind of lame reason that says "Oh no,we never intended to hire you. We already had someone lined up for the job but, because that looks incredibly dodgy, we had to waste the time and efforts - oh and emotional energy - of a bunch of strangers to legitimate what we'd already decided before we put the job ad out." It doesn't matter this was only the second interview I've managed to get in nine months or the fact I was born to do this job.
_________________________________________________

I was destroyed. Flattened. Defeated. I may have even been sobbing in an alleyway off Kings Road with snot running down my face. I was then and still rather am now just a tad exhausted. But the beautiful thing about getting to emotional ground zero, particularly in the department of all things career, is that you can't then get any lower. And once you get used to the cold, hard, dark ground on which you lie, and once you exhaust the tears and once the deafening voices in your head that scream "YOU ARE A FAILURE" simmer to a low hum, well, that cold, hard, dark ground becomes cool and peaceful. And the solitary nature of this place becomes somewhere to retreat, a place to accept and just be, a place to consider new options, re-consider old ones and to just clock out for a while on the whole "what is the meaning of my life/what can I contribute to the world/do I have any value/will I ever earn more than £7 an hour" head fuck that has been my intellectual reality for way too long now.

With confidence broken, opportunities lost and hope missing like a favourite sentimental earring, well, it's a good time to just stop. And then, slowly, begin again. And/or go to Turkey.

__________________________________________________________


Monday, 2 August 2010

Mid year report

"Jo is struggling with motivation in the face of ongoing employment rejection and her extra-curricular activity is suffering as a consequence. She remains only an occasional joy and a more-often-than-not distempered willful misery guts. Her success this semester will be entirely dependent on a statistically unlikely lottery win and/or a rare moment of open-mindedness on behalf of someone somewhere in an HR Department."

"It's been a bit of a beige month - one that will mostly go down in history as the month of the headache. Not the month that was a headache, though any honest sub-editor could certainly get away libel-free with that headline too, but the month of the headache. Two weeks and counting now and it's like the hangover without the liquor and I'm not sure where the fun is in that. I'm waiting now for both test results and new glasses, but it's been extremely dispiriting, both the getting sent home from work "because you look terrible" part and the too exhausted/foggy headed to write, think, read or focus generally on anything beyond the comforts of the sofa.



Two things have struck me while in this state.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs



Apparently ten days of sunshine DOES a summer make. We've gone from hot and sunny to hot and cloudy to cloudy and muggy to cloudy and muggy with a dash, not a hint, of rain. I'm not sure where this is going but it isn't to the beach.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A pint of Pimms and a bout of Bondi longing

So I am officially wilting. As temperatures "soar" towards 30 (in honour of moi no doubt) I am flagging/melting/sweating/sooking - take your pick.

It is nearly 7pm, the sun is still hot and high in the sky and I have just reached the bottom of what will speculatively be the first of at least three pints of Pimms - strawberry heavy and oh so delicious.


I shouldn't complain but when the weather is this beautiful - and beautiful it is - all I ache for is the cold embracing slap of a Bondi wave. If I close my eyes I can feel it now. Tepid showers just aren't the same somehow, even with my swimmers on.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Vintage


So turning 30 was actually quite wonderful but you'll have to get back to me about BEING 3o because I'm still not entirely sold on that concept. TURNING 30 is about LB-made chocolate ganache for breakfast and presents and surprise bunches of flowers from my sister and pedicures and rooftop dinners. Even the skies were blue.



BEING 30 is about being undeniably no longer young. It's about contemplating a lack of career while friends at home are literally in labour with their first child, it's about realising some things in life probably just aren't going to happen - flying to the moon, cuddling baby pandas in China, learning to drive a manual car in a competent fashion - and realising that time is for the now. It's part-trepidation, part-excitement and part-philosophical headfuck... oh, you're not sure you want to be 30?... Well how exactly do you plan on changing that... apart from turning 31?

Yesterday was such a special day and by far and away the greatest gift was realising that however imperfect I am my life is full of thoughtful, generous, loving people and job or no job, wrinkles or deep facial trenches, I am loved for exactly who I am. For that, and so much more, I am forever grateful for the people in my life. And when they give me jewellery that looks like this...


... and that come with a holiday to Turkey, well you see what I mean about being loved. Spoilt even. It is truly humbling.

Today, BEING 30, it is about job applications and overdue art reviews and nannying and Real Life. But there is still ganache for lunch I suppose.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Stuck in the writing mud.

LB is off secret squirreling this weekend in anticipation of D-Day next Wednesday (the D in D-Day being "Doomed To Be Considered Old Always From This Day Forward") and I am across the river nannying, or, as I like to think of it, earning my next haircut.

The weather is obstinately beige and not becoming of early summer and the lethargic efforts of the sun are proving contagious. My writing has crawled to a near-halt over the last two weeks and I'm struggling to muster the enthusiasm for much beyond a bowl of Special K on the couch. I might be tempted to diagnose a case of the birthday blues - or an existential crisis of thirty proportions but in the interests of good mental health (mine and those that have to suffer me) I'm choosing to whitewash the feeling in a mash up of philosophy and sentiment about this thing we call A Milestone.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Friday, 21 May 2010

One thing Leeds to another




FINALLY. Open toed shoe weather has arrived in London and it is delightful. There aren't many pro's to being fundamentally unemployed (I could probably count them on two fingers...) but afternoons on the sofa, in the sunshine, with a bowl of ripe passionfruits would absolutely be one of them. (I would say the only one but given that I'm staring at an imminent and ongoing lack of career I'd like to hold out for the possibility of even one more tick in the pro column, however tenuous.)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Some daughters do 'ave 'em

My Mum has a favourite early memory of she and I. We’re in the chemist, Mum at the counter, me in the pram and we’re chatting amiably away before she paused and realised, “We’re friends, you and I.” Being 18 months old at the time I don’t remember the occasion but the older I get the more grateful I am to call someone as fabulous as P my Mum, and yes, absolutely still my friend.

P is The Best and her go get ‘em/fuck 'em/I-we-you can do this attitude - at once elegant, ballsy and brilliant - is a constant source of inspiration to me as I’ve navigated my way from highly strung child to awkward teenager to at-times-uncertain adult (I think at nearly 30 I do now sadly have to concede I am unavoidably a grown up…)

She tells me I’m fabulous, clever, brave and beautiful. She also tells me when I’m being pathetic, ridiculous, unhinged and unhelpful. The perfect execution of good mother and friend, pulled off as only she could.


My mum, aged 4 (and on the right) in the surf with my Nan and aunt.
We look identical at this age.
I love my Mum. I love her bravery, her style, her classiness, her sense of adventure, her frivolity and love of laughter, her care, her thoughtfulness and her fabulous collection of jewels and bags and scarves. And the list goes on.

I know she knows all this but if you can’t publicly adore your mother on Mother’s Day then when else can you?

Thank you Mumma – for showing me how it’s done and for the ongoing conversation. Happy Mother’s Day.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A looooong weekend



So I survived nannying - and so did the children. For a long weekend at the beginning of Spring I don't think any of us appreciated the pouring rain, the gale force winds or the hail but god has mercy - and these days it's called Nintendo.

By the time I got home on Monday afternoon it was all I could do to roll cadaverously off the sofa (freshly built) to eat the delicious meal LB had cooked for me, a mouth-watering Thai beef salad no less. It marked the end of an interesting couple of days, culinarily speaking. The long weekend was all about toasted sandwiches, burritos and packet cake mixes... an insulting low after Friday's personal triumph in the kitchen.

Cake aside, yes I really did bake one, I was mindlessly flicking through Bill Granger's Sydney Food cook book when I struck upon a ricotta and tomato tart and, perhaps deluded after all the Masterchef that LB has been making me watch lately, decided that making puff pastry from scratch couldn't be that hard...

And it wasn't.

Granted it was messy and absolutely it was more cal than low but honestly, there was puff to my pastry AND, more importantlyslashsurprisingly, it was delicious. My eyes were like saucers at the shock and even now I catch myself saying quietly to no-one in particular, "I made puff pastry. From scratch. And it was delicious." Or rather... "And it was delicious??" with that slightly raised intonation that suggests shock and utter disbelief. So to make packet mix brownies 12 hours later was a rather depressing come down as you might imagine, irrespective of their compelling edibility (ed: is that even a word?). My new theory is, if you're going to O.D. on calories, you have to at least earn the right to do so by making the bloody thing yourself. This theory obviously applies to everything except Snickers bars.

Not much else happened over the weekend and yesterday I was at the gallery before heading to the bar. A long day by anyone's definition but I didn't really mind. LB told me I should get a 9 to 5 job and I told him it wasn't the 9 to 5 I objected to so much as the Monday to Friday. Give me crap wages and long shifts any day as long as I can have the mornings to myself to sit on the sofa and write.

Coming home from the bar around 12.30, I was walking down the street when I spotted a fox, tearing through the rubbish bags in search of food. I stopped and tried to take a photo of him and as I did he stopped at looked at me, as if to say, rather indignantly, do you mind? But my crap camera failed to catch him in the darkness and so all I ended up with was this:



Best not give up any one of my day jobs just yet...

Friday, 30 April 2010

April? Did anyone see April?

... It must have run off with the end of March. Bloody hell it's been a while and if the year keeps up at this rate, never mind 30, I'll be 45 before I've even had time to get a haircut.

I had visions of myself, finally, having now the time and the headspace (and the internet connection), sitting down on my new sofa in my new house to catch up on the last six weeks. Only, well.... my sofa, delivered this morning.... currently looks like this:



Saturday, 13 March 2010

Jeggings and visas and other such adventures


It's been an exhausting week. Also, a distracting week, a sad week, an anxious week and a quasi-productive week. And there is still the weekend to come.

To show for my week: an art review on my new website (yet to be revealed until all the bows and ribbons are c'est fini), a blood blister on my thumb (staple gun mishap at work, overzealous on the moss decoration. Long story), a new visa in my passport (no more waiting on that front and no need for a shotgun wedding [though thank you LB for the generous and tempting offer]), a plan to fly home to see my Nan next month and, of all the things I never thought this week would throw at me... an encounter with a pair of jeggings in the fitting room at work.

Now, anybody that knows me knows that apart from ugg boots worn as outside shoes the greatest fashion crime being committed today is jeggings. Jeans and leggings: ne'er the two should meet. They are wrong, they are ugly, they are just plain stupid. Seriously. Aaaaanyway, today at work we had a try-on session, working under the not silly assumption that if you know how the clothes fit you're all the better equipped to sell them. So far, so good until I walked into my allotted changing room to see my enemy hanging there, elasticised waist and all. On one level I rationed, maybe it was like smoking, you know, you smoke one cigarette once in your life, for curiosity's sake if nothing else just so you know what you're not missing out on.

But here's the thing, I've never once been tempted to smoke a cigarette and frankly I would argue that jeggings are just as bad for you, if not worse. I don't care how skinny they made me look... It certainly wasn't how I envisioned the week ending but it's marginally better than in tears I suppose. Just. Maybe.

LB and I are off to the V&A tomorrow afternoon to see the much hyped decode exhibition, which should be great fun, and then to a friend's birthday party tomorrow night. I look and feel totally bedraggled right now though - dark circles under my eyes and a strange and not-going-anywhere-fast collection of dyes and paints under my finger nails thanks to a fun few days at work helping the visual team set up the store (see previous tale re: moss and staple gun). I just want to sleep for a weekend.

This time next week Mum AND Sophie will be here and it can't come fast enough. I am in serious need of some mother-sister love and can't wait to see them. xx

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Pet peeve #174

I fucking hate it when interfering nobodies volunteer advice to "Cheer up" from across the street.

a) Who the hell asked you?

And

b) My grandmother has just been diagnosed with advanced cancer of the liver and pancreas and in all likelihood I might not get the chance to see her again.

So YOU fucking cheer up. Jerk.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sunshine on a rainy day

It's been a red letter week. I am earnestly exhausted after two full days of honest toil at my new retail job on the Kings Rd and now, after a fretful week of waiting, am delighted, ecstatic, overjoyed, optimistic and RELIEVED to have been offered the role at the National Portrait Gallery.

Ex.hale.

It is miserably cold and I am bone weary after a long week and a longer weekend but buoyed by the blue skies and a whisper of, well, promise.

A week ago you could have had me committed. And the straw that finally broke the camel's already laden back? Not having the right pair of shoes to wear. I think it was particularly confusing for LB to witness my meltdown and the apparent lack of a genuine reason for it but I was done. All toys were chucked from the perennial pram of my life and nothing, save three double vodkas, could fix it - my life or my lack of shoe.


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Optimism


Not something I generally deal in but if the blooms can push on through, despite the rain and the sleet and the ear-biting cold, well, maybe I should give it a crack?

It's been a bumpy couple of weeks but I feel like things are slowly on the up. LB and I celebrated our one year anniversary nearly two weeks ago and went for a mouth-watering Spanish meal on Great Portland Street to mark the occasion. LB broke the no presents rule but it's hard to feign fury when presented with sparkling baubles so I somewhat promptly forgave him. And fell just a little bit more in love with him when I read his card. Thanks to a dash of creativity with his gin and tonic, LB penned me a poem, inspired by our very first dinner date. It was lovely and thoughtful and hilarious and at points, it even rhymed. Spoilt I am.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

And the Oscar goes to...

I often wonder about the almost rans, particularly at an ego-fest like the Oscars. There are no Oscar de la Renta gowns (and thankfully no Ryan Seacrest) when it comes to post-graduate study results but the psychology is all there... The gracious pre-defeat talk - it's all about the experience, I've learned so much, such and such deserves the accolade more. All of which is total bullshit because underneath all that pre-emptive protective self-deprecating bollocks lies naked fear. Fear of failure, humiliation, disappointment - and beneath all of that, perilously protected from the winds of defeat, lies a small, pathetic, naked flame of hope.

Or maybe that's just me.

I discovered some time ago that being a perfectionist means regularly smacking your forehead on the bar you raised too high. So I wanted to be brilliant, so I'm not exactly and cruelly the world continues spinning unperturbed on its axis. The problem is, I didn't exactly fail - I just failed myself. A final grade of 70 for my MA - a distinction no less - but 68 for my dissertation (and blood and sweat and tears and the last wrung vestiges of my intellect). Not a bad mark I suppose and I should focus on the final grade - but because I'm two marks short of a distinction for my dissertation I don't get my MA with Distinction. It's like being nominated for the Best Actresss Award and then not being invited to the Vanity Fair after party.

Or maybe that's just me.

Disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow and right now I'm kind of choking on it. But at least I'm accessorising my gloomy mood with the weather. It's 4 degrees here and has just started to hail. It's too cold even for snow, which let me tell you, is cold.

When I'm not sitting on the radiator heating my bones I've been finishing off my visa application, which is now out of my hands, and looking for casual work. I'm starting to nanny again this afternoon for my favourite Australian family in Barnes and have an interview tomorrow for a casual job as a retail whore. Fingers loosely crossed I suppose.

I need to go and turn the heating up. My chattering teeth are starting to make my fillings hurt.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Hot water bottle days

This:


Feels like FOREVER ago.

It was three weeks. Getting snuggly with my hot water bottle (and yes I mean literally my hot water bottle, it's not some new pet name for LB) the last week has flown by, for a week of stagnating days of not much, very little and occasionally something. It is MISERABLY cold here at the moment and I am so beyond bored of the interpretative dance that is getting into and out of jeans over thermal tights and socks each day. I miss dresses and havianas and sunglasses. I even miss the round-the-clock application of sunscreen. It is cold and it is grey and lately, it is wet. A winning trifecta of meteorological crapness if ever there was one.

Not much has been happening of late. My MA results come out next week (cue viciously vivid dreams where I wander square down the middle of the road towards would-be academic glory. In the one dream where I did emerge scholastically triumphant I also won an Oscar so I'm not sure how likely that outcome is....) But yes, results next week and I can only hope the exacting ratio of tears : caffeine consumption : all night brain frying sessions that I worked so hard on pays off in the way I hope. Which is Oscars glory all the way baby.

The job hunting continues with all the zest of a hunter turned vegetarian. A little well-timed research has revealed that while still on my student visa I'm technically not allowed to work full-time nor freelance in any capacity. So here's to seven weeks of bar work and temping and plenty of time to find The Job I'm Meant To Have. It's a rather well-established fact that I don't cope well with rejection so it's been quite demoralising to send applications off out into the universe only to hear, well, zero in reply. Fatalism 101. Which is better than Pessimism 101 I suppose but the whole merry-go-round still rather sucks.

It's been an emotionally draining few days with family dramas on the home front and frozen ears on the head front and a shocking dose of insomnia to bring the whole thing together. Poor LB - between the whiny demoralising self-pity about the lack of job and now the ceaseless flow of tears over old emotional wounds freshly picked it's a wonder he's still sane. Never mind sticking with me. The magnitude of my thank you will know no bounds once I am happily through my Beige Period (with thanks to Picasso). Until then, my hot water bottle needs refilling.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.


It's rather difficult to find interesting and/or charming things to write about when one's day is defined by some combination of the following:

- Over-sleeping for lack of anywhere to be/anything to do

- Applying for unpaid internships

- Applying for may-as-well-be unpaid jobs in the arts

- Struggling into and out of thermal tights, jeans, two pairs of socks, boots, three jumpers, a scarf, a pair of mittens, a woolly hat and a coat. Just to walk to the shops for Diet Coke.

- Midday TV re-runs of that under-rated 90s classic Models Inc.

- Eating

- Pondering the pay off... spiritually rich versus literally poor?

- Wondering how on earth to spend the other four days of the working week


The jetlag has now passed. My fondness for late night snuggles with the hot water bottle continues unabated and the days slowly tick by as I trawl for jobs, inspiration and anything that might stay my increasingly tenuous hold on the old self-esteem.

There are a few leads yet to be exhausted and some slow burn projects to keep me reasonably occupied but mostly I just fret. And try to stay to stay out of the cold.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

And so it begins

Hello two thousand and ten. We meet at last. Gulp. You, me, unemployment and a fucking big freeze that has London and I frozen through to our very tippy toes. Where oh where is this year going to take us I can only begin to wonder...

LB and I returned to London yesterday after a glorious three weeks in Sydney. Swimming and stone fruits and family and frozen margaritas on Bondi Beach and friends and barbeques and more swimming. And sun. Lots and lots of sun. It was terrible.

Jetlag notwithstanding, today has been reasonably productive with an extensive but thus far fruitless job hunt, a vat of hot homemade soup and a resolution to see 2010 the year of making friends.

Truth: I am freaking out/panicking/anxious/worrying excessively about what this year has in store. The last time I was without job prospects I was, well, come to think of it, I've never been short of a possible something somewhere and job hunting is so 2009 for someone rapidly approaching 30 and still struggling to describe herself professionally in 25 words or less. I say professionally because undoubtedly there are 25,000 words to describe me otherwise, with "neurotic" and "punishing to be around" currently in contention for the top spots...

My horoscope (ever a reliable indicator of success) informs me that January will be the start of tremendous professional accomplishments and a highly memorable year. Does anyone know if you can sue the planets if they get it wrong?

Anyhoo, me, my jetlag and my hot water bottle are off to bed. It's snowing outside and a balmy 1 degree. Fantastic.

Let the year begin....