Good evening... or should I say good night? It's coming up to 11 pm on Sunday and I guess we should really be heading off to bed in preparation for another week at work. But, after an extended siesta this afternoon (oops!) I'm not feeling that sleepy. Ah well...
I don't often sleep in the day, but after a rather hectic week topped off with a Hen Do yesterday, today it was more than needed. Besides, I've just started to read a book on mindfulness and positivity which encourages sleeping well to keep the mind clear. I admit I am on a bit of a mission to "develop" my spiritual side and I see these factors as key to a happy existence. I agree, it isn't always easy, but I'm working on it...
Take this week for example. On Wednesday I went to a talk at London Zoo, "The Jungles of the Mind," after learning that feminist, psychotherapist and mild obsession of mine Susie Orbach was the guest speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed the talk - and getting up close and personal to some amazing animals - but admit leaving feeling a bit flat. You see, at the end of the talk, I approached Susie and asked her to sign her my copy of "Fat Is a Feminist Issue". As she did so I told her how much I admired her work and how it inspired me. She nodded politely and asked me about myself. But, as I spoke, I couldn't help but notice her eyes glaze over as I described my day job. Walking home, I felt disappointed in myself for failing to leave nothing more that a lackluster impression on someone I so admire. When I told my good friend Laura about the encounter, she pointed out that Susie probably met a million people like me every year, but, in my mind, it was just confirmation of what I most fear - that my existence on this planet means nothing.
Since then, however, I have talked to, met and thought of friends who have inspired me to look at the bigger picture. Two of these women, one of whom a have worked closely with for over two years and another who I have just met, told me that they had grown up with a parent who was addicted to alcohol. I was gobsmacked - both these beautiful, savvy women have amazing careers that I am somewhat enviable of, one of whom has developed hers as a single mum. As they spoke they reminded me of other friends who, despite family illness, bereavement and the day to day knocks of work and relationships, never fail to amaze me, raising money for the charity that supports their sick father rather than wallowing in the pain of his disease, heading home to support their dad when their mum is in hospital and going the extra mile to ensure their sister is getting the spiritual support they need when they lose their mother.
Not only do these people inspire me, but they remind me that, even though my one bed flat is not quite as impressive as the converted barn of the aforementioned hen, and that I have yet to make an impression on the literary or art world, I am pretty darn blessed. Something I need to remember next time I get my knickers in a twist over my fluctuating weight and unpublished novel.
So, if our paths cross in the near future and I begin to bemoan my fate, please do us both a favour and remind me of this blog. My positivity is a work in progress, and I might need a bit of help to get there. Bear with me...
Okay, so maybe not - but wasn't the weekend great? Well, sorry to brag but mine was - not in a particularly flashy way, but in a rather smugly satisfactory way.
First, there's the writing. On Saturday I finished the first draft of my second novel. Yes, you read that correctly. FINISHED. And I admit without shame that I did a little jig once I'd hit the save button.
But that's not all: I have made an appointment to meet with a professional editor who has agreed to look at novel number one. This is somewhat terrifying (what if she says it's shit?) but really rather exciting...
And then, my dear friends, we have my other creative pursuits. I have started a new painting AND am planning to record a podcast with mate and stand-up comedian Chris. You see, after a rather heated (and alcohol-fuelled) debate about the advice given to women on dating by supposed experts, I thought it would make a rather amusing discussion - as well as future blog (watch this space!). And Chris, I know you read this blog, so there's no getting out of it now: We've gone public.
Then, of course, I have to say something about my little flat (come on, it's been a least a week since I last did...) Whilst the flaky paint situation continues to flout my attempts to decorate the kitchen (I suspect it hadn't been treated with much TLC by the last owner), everything else is coming together - it was only half an hour ago I received an email confirming that my service charge had finally been sorted after a two month battle. And, to top it off, the more time I spend in the area, the more I like it. Yesterday I headed back down to Hackney for a swim in the London Fields Lido and a mooch along Broadway Market - a lovely morning topped off with a walk along an achingly cool bit of canal. Yep, I admit it, East London has got me hooked.
Funnily enough, my happily hectic weekend has left me rather tired, even if in a rather satisfactory way. And, what with all the warm weather and paint fumes in this flat (oil + emulsion = interesting concoction), I think I may have to love you and leave you so I can head off to my pit. Or rather, my lovely boudoir in the making. As soon as I get that bloody kitchen finished...
Three minutes to go...
I'm watching the World Cup Final, or rather have had it on whilst I natter to Lisa on the phone, finish painting my nails and do my ironing - all things I should have probably done a bit earlier on during my week off. Sadly a bad dose of tonsillitis left me with only a couple of days to get done every thing I had planned.
I admit that feeling like I had a load of nails stuck down my throat, a bag of hot coals of my head and lead weights danging from my limbs for the first three days of my week off left me in a bit of a funk. But one thing that kept me going was thinking positively. One of my mates challenged me to post three positives a day on Facebook and, whilst it was a bit tricky when I felt unable to do much more than crawl from bed to bathroom and back again, I managed it. And, although as weeks off work go it could have been a lot better, I'm pretty pleased with what I have achieved, all things considered.
Firstly, I finally finished my Peru collage. For ages I've been trying to figure out what to do with the background - the newspaper print on its own didn't really do it for me yet I couldn't get the addition of sky blue watercolour quite right. I tried to wash off what I had done - and quite liked the patchy effect, especially when the excess water was sponged up with a bit of kitchen roll. It's all about technique, you see...
Then, I got my shower fixed - and for about £200 less than the first plumber had quoted me. Bearing in mind that this cowboy was also going to replace completely the wrong thing and would have left me £350 poorer and STILL without hot water, I'm pretty chuffed.
But the thing that I'm really excited about is that I've finished the penultimate chapter of my second novel - which means I'm nearly done. In fact, I could have quite happily polished it off today, but was determined to get at least part of my kitchen painted (it was supposed to be a week of decorating, after all!) - which I did. And, despite the odd hiccup (let's just say the walls were NOT in a good state), I'm pleased with my progress and reckon I'll get it all done over the next two weekends. Then I only have four more rooms to go...
So yeah, all in all, things are going pretty well - and this time next week I may well have finished the said novel, set a date to meet an editor about the first one (watch this space!) and have my kitchen done and dusted! Along with a handful of social engagements in the diary, next week is looking to be even more positive than this one.
Just a shame I have to go back to work...
Yep, it's another Monday, and I'm out of the office once more. But, before you get too jealous, rather than cracking on with the decorating, I've spent most of the day down the doctors - or flat out on my bed. That's right - I woke up today with a lovely dose of tonsillitis.
BUT - I'm not going to let it get me down. Yes, so it looks like my planned trip to a knitting group in the pub is off the agenda, but I'll survive. And one of the reasons I'll survive is because of my mates, who, even though I'm not a complete invalid and can get to the local Co-Op for my tomato soup, I know they are there for me.
Take work, for example. It's no secret that I've found the day job a bit frustrating of late. But, last weekend, after a wander around Wood Street market, I chatted with my chums about my work woes - and, whilst making all the right sympathetic noises, they helped me look at the situation objectively and drill down to what was really bugging me. Then, after a particularly bad week, on Saturday I went out with friends who helped me forget all about it, made me laugh by behind off and danced with me until the wee hours - my kind of therapy.
It isn't just work that they've been helping my get my head around. As you regular readers will know, I've just bought a flat - and admit being a bit overwhelmed by the experience. Not only have my mates reminded me that I don't need to have the entire place done-up within the first few weeks, they've also offered practical advice on how I can overcome some of my conundrums - and even got stuck in with the DIY.
But most importantly, they are there for me when the going gets tough, reminding me that, even though I occasionally begin to lose hope, I've come a long way - and, with their help, can overcome any obstacle.
So yeah, today I want to say thank you to all my mates - and hope that they know that I am there for them too. Cos I love you guys and wouldn't be without you.
It's Monday! Hurrah!
Yep, you guessed it, I haven't been at work today, which means I've been at liberty to do whatever I darn well fancy. The problem is, I do have an awful lot of things I should be getting on with but, quite frankly, I can't be bothered. In fact, I think the only thing I've managed to get done over the last five days away from the office is to knit my mate Lexi a phone sock which, although it looked pretty cool in the Good Mixer last night, wasn't exactly a major project.
On my short term "to do" list I have a variety of bits and bobs that I need to finish off, and, in all honesty, none of them will take me that long, or be that difficult. My Peru collage just needs a lick of paint and a blob of extra glue here and there, the polyfillering of the smattering of holes in my walls won't take
more than 15 minutes and, whilst the last occupants left it in a bit of a state, the worst of the kitchen's deep clean is over. However it seems that today I have done everything to avoid tackling any of these tasks. Instead I've updated the playlist on my phone, read my magazine and been for a lovely walk through Walthamstow Marches - anything, but ANYTHING other than what I should really be doing.
If I'm honest with myself, I think I know what this is about. This morning I made a start on the penultimate chapter of my second novel, which means that, by the end of July, the first draft will probably be complete. This also means that, after a couple of read-throughs and the odd tweak here and there, it will be ready to share. With other people. People who might not like it. Which is fine, except I've really enjoyed writing it and really hope that, even if like Faith, it goes nowhere, people get it - and find Emily's story as absorbing as I have.
So there you have it. I've developed a fear of finishing. Let's just hope it doesn't develop into writer's block and remains a simple barrier to me getting off my butt and cleaning the oven. Only time will tell, and also reveal whether my novel is enjoyed by anyone other than myself. Just remember, if I ask you to ready it, be honest, but if you don't like it, let me down gently... like my protagonist, I don't always like to face up to reality...
It's been a while since I last blogged, but life has been even more manic than normal - and the lack of broadband in my bachelorette pad has made blogging even trickier. But I'm now connected, back in London - and trying to chill. Because I think moving wiped the ability to do so from my memory...
In all honesty I can't really say that I've been completely wrapped up in unpacking and decorating. There was a little foray to a house-party in Yorkshire over the last Bank Holiday, followed by a much needed holiday in Split, Croatia. The trials and tribulations of being a new homeowner were getting the
better of me (think leaks, lack of hot water and more leaks) and I desperately needed to escape. It was on our last day when we were sat on the beach at Marjan Park and I was bemoaning the amount of things I needed to do to my flat that my friend asked me if I could remember what my New Years' Resolution had been. She had a point; it was to do less. So, after an epic unpack and an overwhelming trip to B&Q, I am having a beer and writing this blog before heading down to my old stomping ground Islington for a party.
The thing is... it's easier said than done. When in Yorkshire I was trying to convince my friends who had just bought a four bedroom house with land up there (read: Mansion) to chill out.
"Take it easy - and enjoy doing it up." I advised.
"Yes - but we want it all done now so we can really appreciate it." They whined. Fast forward two weeks and I completely understand. Whilst things are slowly coming together, I can't wait to get the place painted, some proper curtains up and my pictures on the walls. Even today I was chatting to my dad about what kind of ladder to get for my loft.
"There's no hurry is there?" He asked. "I mean, you only need it for storage." Wise words, but... I want them NOW so I can clear away the excess clutter for my housewarming party - where everything needs to look perfect - PERFECT, do you hear??!!
Okay, so maybe I need to take a chill pill here and try to pace myself. At the end of the day, there is plenty of other good stuff going on in my life which I am in danger of neglecting if I get carried away - including my writing and art - which is really more important than having a flat worthy of a spread in Home and Gardens. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go get glammed up for this party. Just as soon as I've cleaned the extractor fan and put up the caddy in my bathroom...
Well, I hope you are enjoying the lovely weather. Sadly I haven't really been able to - because I have been busy moving into my new flat. And I say "my" because I bought the bugger! Yep, it finally happened! HURRAH!
I admit that the whole flat buying and moving situation has made me a little preoccupied - in life and online. For this I apologise, but I promise to write about something else next week. But, in the meantime...
Exciting fact number one: I have an abundance of storgae space (well, comparatively speaking!). Not only do I have
three (yes - THREE!) drawers in my kitchen, I also have three large storage cupboards - one of which I have dedicated to my art, craft and music (yep, I still have my clarinet and sax from my younger days along with my recently acquired ukulele) and one that is tall enough to fit my easel in! And then there's the loft... Exciting fact number two: today I have bought a bargainous chest of drawers and washing machine from the British Heart Foundation - which, along with the fridge freezer I picked up from a cheapy shop in Holloway last week, means I am pretty much there with the bits I really need. Now I just need a plumber... And exciting fact number three: I am now free to decorate my own place how I really want - and can't wait until my summer leave to do so.
So there you go. I am officially one of those sad cases that is obsessed with their new abode... and their finances. Which reminds me, I better check when my first mortgage payment goes out...
Folks, I have made a decision.
After three days of packing, I have decided that, assuming all goes well next week, I am never going to move again. Ever - unless I am rich enough to pay someone to do my packing and cleaning for me. Not only am I bloody knackered, my flat is in complete disarray and my hands have gone from Fairy soft to those of a seasoned builder. As for my nails... one is not amused!
Ah! Which brings me nicely on to my night at the theatre on Friday night (my only real break from the mad house). I went to see Handbagged with my mate Marie and thoroughly enjoyed the rather tongue-in-cheek exploration of Maggie Thatcher's relationship with the Queen. It made me think about Madge's legacy - and how it has impacted on the lives and attitudes of people today. Nothing illustrated this better than, whilst waiting for the bus home afterwards, I witnessed a homeless guy beg another homeless man for some cardboard to sleep under. Whilst Maggie may have thought that we should all work to lift ourselves out of poverty, some people have absolutely nothing to do that with. Something that is still forgotten by the Tories today.
Anyway, minor political rant over, I'm gonna make this blog short and sweet - I think I need a nap before I venture out for my Scrabble date and want to finish Captain Corelli's Mandolin before I go out too - after seeing the movie years ago I was a bit put off, but am really enjoying it. Give it a go if you haven't already.
Oh, and wish me luck for the moving madness heading my way...
Ah, don't you love that feeling we only ever get to indulge in a handful of times a year - you know, that one when it's a Sunday and you don't have to be up at the crack of dawn in the morning to go to work? Bliss!
I decided to take advantage of the long weekend and headed up to my hometown to see the folks - and catch up with an old school friend for her birthday. Her dad's band Moonshine were playing on the five year anniversary of their first gig, which I was apparently present at, so it seemed fitting that I tag along. They didn't disappoint, with covers of tunes from the sixties onwards, with a preference for rocky numbers with melodies that made full use of my mate's bro's ever-improving vocals. Needless to say I was impressed, and had a good old boogie too (anyone who doesn't dance to "Play That Funky Music," in my humble opinion, may as well be dead), much to the amusement of the band and the more conservative residents of Lincoln.
It seems that, despite my disappointment at not getting Glasto tickets AGAIN (yep, still not over that!), new, live music is cropping up in the most surprising of places. On Friday, after a quick glass of wine after work, I went home to make my Peru collage Pacha Mama whilst listening to the Global Psychedelic Sound-system, a very funky DJ I discovered at the Isle of Wight festival last year, courtesy of the island radio station's website. As always, I loved his set but, as it drew to a close and my collage became close to completion, I found myself at a bit of a loss as to how to spend the rest of my evening. After resorting to my fail-safe option (a bath with a glass of red on the side), I found myself listening to yet another talented musician, Jace Thompson, via the wonder of Twitter and YouTube. I was mighty impressed and, after nattering over social media for a bit, was delighted to hear that he has a gig in my hood next weekend. Well, that's Sunday night sorted...
You see, I do love my music - and I love discovering new artists who, behind all the popularist crap that plagues our airwaves, have something really important say - and real talent when it comes to saying it. Being an undiscovered "artist" myself, whilst I get why they do it and the joy that it gives them, I feel their frustration and celebrate their successes, which although often small in comparison to those headlining Glastonbury this year, are perhaps the things that keep them going.
Something I can wholeheartedly relate to.
Well I trust you are all having a super Sunday. I set my alarm this morning in an attempt to get Glastonbury tickets. Needless to say I wasn't successful, but I'm not going to dwell on it. Sniff...
So, how was your week? I managed to finish off the two collages I made a start on last week - and here they are! I might play with another today - the truth is I really want to do a bit of painting but, as I work in slow-drying oils, I'm putting this off until after I move. Which, incidentally, I'm no further along with. Don't get me started...
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but buying a flat is not easy in London, yet is something that, when you get to my age (34 - yes, I lied last week when I suggested I was a touch younger...) is almost expected of you. Last night my friend Vicky and I bemoaned all the Facebook posts reminding us of our friend's and aquaintances achievements, from buying houses, getting engaged and having children. But then, after further discussion (and a bit more wine) we came to the conclusion that, whilst for some people reaching these milestones was a natural progression, the rest of us want to make our own rules. In London this is a lot easier, and folk are more accepting of an alternative. This week I was out until 3am two nights in a row and have been more than a little consumed with thoughts of music festivals - quite normal to me, but apparently not so to others. I'll never forget clubbing in Birmingham before Christmas and noting that, apart from one rogue couple, everyone else was younger than 25. Even more amusing was when a lad barely able to shave suggested I was only there to pull a younger man. No, I'm not kidding...
So, whist I'm not married with kids (estate agents; please note that such assumptions are NOT acceptable) and object to being referred to as "madam", I'm embracing certain aspects of grown up living - but for me, not because I think I should or other people expect me too. I'm going to buy my flat and am in the process of rediscovering my love of cooking (Roquamole, anyone?) but can't wait to hit the festival season this summer - and my next night on the dance floor. Where I'll be shaking my bootie for me and no one else.
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...