Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cause it's all you can be

I'd forgotten how much I loved London like this, the cold and the dark. It's seem contrary to my innate dislike of the cold but it's gotten to the point now that I wear loads of layers without fear of overheating later and once I'm wrapped up in a thick scarf and gloves, it doesn't feel that bad at all. It's only been one day since the clocks went back and it just feels different somehow. The world is muted and you can sense the change in the way people live, everyone turning inwards and settling in for the long stretch of winter.

I moved back in with F on Saturday and I can't think of a more lovely way to spend my last couple of weeks here. It's comfortable and I love this area, in all my tourist romanticism. I'll be walking to work, and though I know there will be horrible days of cold and rain, it's a beautiful route and just such a snapshot of London that I'm glad for the opportunity to do it. And I'll try to remember that when I lose feeling in my face because the wind is blowing straight off the north pole.

It's been a pretty hectic couple of days - today has felt weirdly warped and out of proportion. I watched the clocks change last night at a Halloween party with Abbi and co, a lovely night with fun people, where I did my best living dead impersonation. Slept on their couch because of course it would be the day I'd just moved out of my old place and the thought of navigating night buses at a chilly 2am (new 2am) was entirely too much. That was only the tail end of festivities as Friday was quite a big night out for a work friend's leaving do (boo) that played out across many places, on many cold streets, and through some dubious decisions. At least I managed to get the last train home that time. And there was Thursday, more impromptu festivities with work friends. My scarf smells of cigarettes and aftershave.

This is what London does to you. The thought of leaving becomes harder every day. But is it only because I've decided to go that it now suddenly seems so impossible? Viewed through goggles of premature nostalgia, everything is somehow more amazing, and everything seems like a good idea.

Life would be better if I could think about things less. Turn off my brain and just let things fall as they may. What does introspection help anyone, anyway?

Back in Sydney, summer awaits. Family, and (of course) my puppy. A challenging new job. Old friends. New friends. Adventure.

And I want it, I do. But my heart aches at the thought of leaving all this behind. I suppose in a way it's better, better to leave when I feel good about things, rather than hating it all and being driven out by misery. So that's why I just want to make the most of these last few weeks, enjoy myself and not worry so much. There really isn't time for all this thinking.

You cannot always be torn in two.

In other news, went to Belfast with Lizzie, which was great. And went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour with Abbi, which was, hell I'll say it, magical - as you would expect. Life went on - I watched films, Abbi fed me delicious things regularly and I started a Dance with Dragons, leading to numerous moments of near book-throwing frustration.

Today I sat in cafes reading Sylvia Plath's poetry and probably looking pretentious. I read a brilliant short story in the New Yorker called The Semplica-Girl Diaries and wrote maybe a page and a half of my own stuff. And that is one of the great things about staying here, in particular, everything becomes much more writerly.

I'm a couple of chapters into Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, this month's book club book (for Friday, so I should really hurry up), and I am really enjoying the writing so far. So yes. Tea, book, early night. Perfect Sunday evening wind down.

Music: Me vs Maradona vs Elvis - Brand New

Thursday, October 18, 2012

From my heart to your distress

Here, in the dark, I cherish the moonlight
I'm in love with the way you're in love with the night
And it travels from heart, to limb, to pen

Music: Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Busy bees

Exhausted Jen is exhausted! I have had a very eventful week showing the delightful Kat around town. She was visiting from Germany for a week, so I took a couple of days off work so we could hang out and soak up some culture. And we got up to all sorts!

We kicked things off with a visit to the Science Museum which has a brilliant interactive area for kids, aka us. Magnets and electricity and water are all waiting to be messed with. We timed it well, getting in there just before the school groups arrived so we could try out a whole bunch of things. I was quite pleased with myself as I managed to get us tickets to Twelfth Night at the Globe, with Stephen Fry. It’s been sold out for weeks and it was pure whim that managed to get me the tickets. I admit, I was very chuffed. It was for the Wednesday matinee, which luckily stayed rain-free (apparently it was pouring for the evening show), and the production was riotously funny. Made even more so by the loud, booming laugh of one of the audience members.

It was all luck that day - I had also managed to leave my bag at Wagamama at lunch but they still had it when I went to retrieve it some five hours later. Inadvertent free cloaking service! The ever wonderful Abbi and Paul very kindly had us over for dinner that eve, and I think it was a great way to kick off Kat’s London adventuring.

Of course, there was plenty of shopping to be had and we spent most of Thursday trawling Oxford Street, Soho and Covent Garden looking for the perfect pair of winter boots (and we found them too, when we’d all but given up.) We quickly discovered that we’re both quite fond of finding pubs to just loiter in for hours – but then, as my foursquare will attest, I am overly familiar with the pubs of Soho. Makes me feel vaguely like an alcoholic. Pubs aside, I couldn’t resist introducing her to one of my favourite places, Yumchaa. Tea goodness!

Hmm, Rooibos, king of the teas.
Kat went exploring on her own and I headed off to see Killing Them Softly at a charming old theatre in Notting Hill. It was actually very good, quite brutal but with some funny moments. Interesting juxtaposition of themes and tone. But hey, I do love an assassin film and Brad Pitt was great.

Friday we decided to get out of town and so headed off to Cambridge. Despite every single person we came into contact with suggesting that we go punting, we didn't. Frankly, it was too cold. Instead wandered the winding streets, dodged cyclists, ventured into antique stores and op shops and sat in pubs/coffee shops when we needed to defrost. As you do.

T'is very picturesque.
Most of the colleges were closed to the public but we did take a stroll through the small but gorgeous Clare College. Oh, and we visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, housed in a frankly stunning neoclassical building. The town was beautiful and well worth visiting. We were both knackered by the end of the day though and did not appreciate the torrential downpour awaiting us on the return to London. But nothing some good Italian food can’t cure!

Despite the ominous rain of the previous evening, Saturday was a beautiful clear, crisp autumn day and so we went cycling in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park. Absolute brilliant idea! We rented a couple of Boris bikes, lacking in all manner of suspension and a general desire to remain upright, and set off all over the park. It was really good fun and a great way to get around. There was ice cream and cider and watching squirrels climbing on tourists. Fun times!

I believe the word is autumnal.
Following lunch in Chinatown, I thought it my duty to introduce Kat to the manic, sugary goodness of M&Ms World – even though it was like the tourist apocalypse in there on a weekend. We then got so distracted by shopping and trying on dresses that we ran horribly late to get to Abbi’s for the start of the girls night out she’d planned. But never mind, we got there in the end, and proceeded to have more cocktails than was perhaps wise and danced until our legs ached. We got home on the wrong side of two am, clearly the sign of a good evening.

Blood & Sand. Very Game of Thrones, I thought.
Needless to say, things were a bit dire the next day and mainly involved sleeping and avoiding loud noises. When we finally emerged, all plans to go to Greenwich had been abandoned and instead we traversed the streets in search of a dry cleaner and pizza. We nearly saw Lady Gaga outside Harrods (couldn’t be bothered waiting) – if you do venture out towards Knightsbridge, check out Harrods’ 007 inspired window displays. They’re pretty swish.

My brief holiday was over so it was back to work again yesterday, where complete chaos and mayhem ensued, but Kat did meet me for dinner though (Thai! We’ve covered all the Asian cuisines during her visit), followed by a trip to Foyles. I got nostalgic over the stack of critical and philosophy books they had on display. That’s right, I was getting sentimental over Foucault and Bordieu. I am that lame. Just made me miss uni a lot. Oh uni, my one true love. I think we also made the cashier’s day by cooing over one of their bags (it has a monster on it) as apparently most people don’t really like it – “I always liked them,” he said. The bags are cute. People should stop being so literary all the time and indulge in a bit of cutesy fun every now and then. It’s good for the soul.

And that was it! I had to farewell Kat as she headed off to Scotland this morning to continue her UK sojourn. It was a really lovely week and it was so nice to have someone around who sympathised with me being cold all the time, rather than just rolling their eyes at me. I’m really hoping to make it out to Germany to visit her at some point (It’s times like these that I really appreciate how small the world really is.)

Next up – Belfast this weekend! Excitement!

Music: Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sullen load is full

I tell my love to wreck it all
cut out all the ropes and let me fall
my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
right in the moment this order’s tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
in the morning I’ll be with you
but it will be a different “kind”
I’ll be holding all the tickets
and you’ll be owning all the fines

now all your love is wasted?
then who the hell was I?
now I’m breaking at the britches
and at the end of all your lines
who will love you?
who will fight?
who will fall far behind?

Music: Skinny love - Bon Iver