Saturday, 22 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 35

Only five more days of this poor quality droning to go, hang on in there. We can do this.

The dog was doing that dog thing where he stands motionless a couple of inches from my face just staring when I am eating YET AGAIN tonight even though I was actually eating chicory, so I held out a limp witloof leaf in exasperation to show him I wasn't withholding deliciousness. He grabbed it and ran away then tried to eat it, then made this face, like those cheetahs eating Marmite, ha ha ha.

Today featured:

- Interminable queue for a roast chicken which turned out to be dry as the desert - though tastier than sand, admittedly. cf this recent exchange with L:

- Weird violin teacher antics involving chalk and soap.

- My family insisting on watching Godzilla followed by "The World's Most Incredible Bridges" this evening. The only way this latter programme could be duller and more xy-y (that doesn't really work, does it) would be for the Top Gear chaps to be driving along the bridges in question. I didn't watch Godzilla but from the bedroom it sounded like the giant lizard was repeatedly eating orchestras, holy intrusive incidental music, batman.

- The taming of the printer - though since I did not do this myself, I am fairly certain the printer has lost any respect it ever had for me (none) (printers recognise no authority) (this one is plotting to kill me as I sleep).

- A lot of lying/working in bed as the seven mugs and three computers strewn around me testify, including a vain attempt to write 40 words about Katy Perry.

- A terribly confused conversation with the hairdresser about tennis which involved thinking that the hairdresser's son was in the Davis Cup (apparently there's a Belgian player called Monfils, seriously, how on earth were we supposed to know something like that, also what kind of a name is Monfils anyway)

How was your Saturday?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 34 (thirty minutes)

It's half past 11. I have thirty minutes and no ideas.

Good things today:

Went out for breakfast to lovely café for pasteis de nata like a grown up who knows how to leave the house.

None of your five a day

Apple crumble for lunch. Yeah, just apple crumble. What?

Got two good commissions out of nowhere (no, neither of them were to give my moving and perceptive view of turning forty. One of them was this, randomly)

I have started on your most helpful and tempting podcast recommendations with Strangers, which is just great and I also acquired a whole new set of crime recommendations (reading, rather than actual felonies) on Twitter. I will report back if any of them turn out to be good.

It is Friday and I do not need to get up in the morning, no not even if the dog stands at the foot of the stairs and makes a noise like a deflating balloon, that is what (i) earplugs and (ii) children are for.

No one came home with any new disasters/punishments/enormous bills for macabre school equipment to report (or at least they chose not to report them which suits me fine).

There were some really good lists in the comments on the last post.

Bad things today: 

The lovely café sells SPECULOOS PASTEIS DE NATA, which is obviously against the rule of nature and the gods.

I have probably not eaten the healthiest set of foods a person could optimally eat today (dinner was pizza).

I had to share a room with the rebellious printer-bastard today and felt a mixture of shame and rage at its giant mocking useless form blocking out most of the light.

Physical disintegration continues apace/accelerates and I have run out of giant orange horse pills.

Achieved none of the dreary admin tasks on my several to-do lists.

Had to watch several tedious hours of Koh-Lanta (French survivor), L's favourite programme, gangs of dullard French men running around in scrubland trying to use a compass.

Had to spend some time in the company of a website so extravagantly dull I kept drifting off into a fugue state whenever my eyes rested on it. Consequently failed to complete necessary website related tasks and must return to it next week.

I have worked it out and I definitely got the calculation wrong and my birthday falls on the 39th day of the forty day posting thing. Ha ha ha.

One minute left! Good and bad for your Friday? You are so kind to keep commenting, thank you.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 33 (Lists)

I almost forgot to do tonight. That'll be the orange pills (I have crumbled into decrepitude again). I honestly thought this process would be all about me writing thoughtful, perceptive stuff about mid-life so that people would be compelled to commission me to write for them, ha ha ha, the delusion is strong in me.

Windows open on my phone currently:

Picture of a capybara wearing a paper bag round its neck
Horse playing football with care home residents
7 writers reflect on failure
Free astronomy class details
You Tube recipe for lavash I will assuredly never use
Father Jack says sorry
Canadian panda enjoys snow

Things on my bedside table (surface layer only): 

Right Ho, Jeeves
Dirty mug
Staple gun
30 Rock DVD
Back in the Jug Agane
Colm Toibin - The Testament of Mary
Wire giraffe
Giant orange back pill
String of pearls
Malcom Mackay - The Night the Rich Men Burned
Jeeves in the Offing
Box of MoMA Christmas cards unmoved and unopened since last December
Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon
3 earplugs
Propeller from something
Anne Enright - Yesterday's Weather (ooh, didn't even know I had this)
2 crap normal pens, one nice silver one from last year's excellent advent box
Supermarket loyalty card
Chanel 'April' nail polish
Zola - La Curée
50 cents

To do list (immediate as opposed to 'lingering, guilty, may never happen'): 

Chase Portuguese cafe for pics
Pay school canteen
Buy Nutella
Take tea-soaked jumpers out of washing machine
Pay €88 business tax thingy about 6 months overdue
Unearth something for dinner
(I only did two of these - both the food related ones)

Best stuff I have put in my mouth today: 

2 giant orange back pills
Apple crumble
Mouthful of Picard chocolate and salted caramel fondant (not at all shabby, will buy again)
Another giant orange back pill

Currently saved in my folder of lust:

Warehouse cashmere onesie
Large Burleigh breakfast cup
Rob Ryan mug to replace the one I broke a week after buying it
A large selection of eBay antique quilts
Icelandic horses for sale
(So short, my list of wants. I am practically a holy hermit)

Parts of me that are broken:

Left thumb (cut with evil knife)
Lips (ravaged)
Lower back (god knows, probably horse related)
Brain (clearly)
Right elbow (search me)

Things that have made me cry/nearly cry today:

The dishwasher
My back
The Boots advert
Something I listened to - but what? What could it be? Oh, the bit in Serial with Hae's mother's statement.
Noblesse the horse, who wilfully inflated her stomach like a puffer fish so I couldn't do anything with her. Laughed instead, finally.
My phone, with rage

Weirdest bill received today:

"Squelette chat, €125" (it's a long story)

Would you like to give me a list, please?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 32 (BATE)

I spent ages today reading my archives to try and remember various things and it was really excruciating, like reading your teenage diaries. Occasionally I would think 'oh, that's quite funny', but mainly I was cringing inwardly and sweating and feeling a bit sick. It's so unguarded, I don't think anyone could keep writing like that for very long. Also, I think I used to be crueller (to myself and others)  and I'm quite glad things are a bit gentler now, even if I accept they are almost certainly a lot less fun to read.

This made me laugh a bit however about a work trip to Amsterdam:

"Excitingly on the return journey, I thought the taxi driver was trying to chat me up when he said "my shift ends now, shall I take you out to the airport", but then I thought perhaps he was just asking me if I wanted him to drive me all the way to there because he knew I was on expenses and wouldn't care. Either way, the moment of quite possibly imagined erotic potential was lost when he hit a large seagull. We tried to decide whether it was dead, stupid, broken, or drunk but inadequate language skills on my side cut the debate short. I still feel we shared a moment. Like Before Sunrise but with a seagull instead of Julie Delpy"

I remember that seagull. I know there were loads of funnier bits, but I can't face going back and looking.

Apart from that, I had vivid dreams about doing the make up of a woman who I have never met but follow on Twitter really ineptly in a rural Travelodge, then getting angry at a school fête and tearing a bread roll into tiny pieces and throwing it on the floor to make my point. When I woke up, I started the day by making a badly timed flailing gesture with a cup of tea and soaking my duvet and pillows and myself right down to my knickers with - thankfully lukewarm - tea.

Later, I had a tense run-in with my son of the type I would have recounted in full five years ago, then we did some Dutch and some Chinese and some .. I dunno. Maths of some abstruse variety? Some kind of compass-y thing. Then the new printer arrived and everything really went to shit.

The new printer is the size and weight - and has the temperament - of a Shetland pony. We tried to install its cartridges and it literally spat one out at us, then the cartridge tray ran away to hide in its black plastic burrow and refused to emerge. I watched several unhelpful amateur HP hack videos on YouTube then gave up.

F (my friend F, not my long-fingered son) and I discussed the printer. We have both recently read (and adored) the amazing H is for Hawk and the following will only be vaguely amusing if you have too, sorry. You should read it if you haven't, it's completely extraordinary.


E: THAT's what the printer was doing! It's bating!

F: It totally is. You have to be patient, Emma. Carry it on your fist for several days.

E: It's the size of horse, this could be tricky.

F: It's not in yarak. You have to wait until it is.

E: I think the problem is that it is in yarak. That's why it's so highly-strung.

F: You need to wait for it to calm down.

E: I need to go and sit very still next to it for the next three days or so. Not look at it.

F: Yes. Tear up some rabbit thigh and feed it to the printer. Maybe you need to change its printing weight?

E: Yes! Someone has been feeding it too many chicks, perhaps. I'm leaving it for tonight, anyway. I'm just going to put its hood on and let it settle.

While I was hooding the printer, the children, who have behaved like Haribo crazed toddlers all afternoon took it upon themselves, respectively, to (i) move into the printer's box with a Toblerone and a set of cushions (ii) stab the box repeatedly with giant Mikado sticks and write "BOX OF SHAME" on the side. So if we do need to return it, that will be interesting.

After that, a plate fell out of the kitchen cupboard onto my head and then broke into a million pieces.

Oh god, I have just remembered my jumper is still soaking in the bathroom sink and the bedroom floor is covered in tea-stained pillowcases.

Was your Wednesday in any way better than this? I can only hope so.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 31 (um, nothing)

I have to tell you, I have nothing for you today. This is not because I am an empty husk after a day of composing transcendent, luminous prose. I am a full, guilty husk. Today's programme: staring, a couple of biscuits, faffing, light despair, lining up balsawood penguins and some truly atrocious "Religious education" homework:

What? What? I am not French enough for this. I hope never to be French enough for this.

I loved your comforting tales of similarly half-arsed days (except for the ones who have horses because I was blinded by jealousy), thank you. And thank you for commenting generally, it is hugely appreciated as I stagger half-arsedly through this pointless exercise. In fact, it's the only thing keeping me going.

(pause while I console eldest child over collapsed Design Tech bridge and search drafts folder for inspiration. There are no drafts.)

I am sorry, I am going to have to resort to some links.

This is an extraordinarily clear-sighted piece of writing - Meghan Daum on her mother's death. I read it first thing this morning and it made me late because I was sitting on the bathroom floor holding my breath as I read.

B's contribution: a fairly jaw-dropping piece of salacious American legal gossip.

F uncovered this incredible holiday for book perverts.

M: "this is what it's like inside your chickens' heads'.

Want to waste half your day like me? Help is at hand with this fiendishly infuriating quiz.

Loved this about The Knowledge.

Go home, Elle Belgique, you are drunk.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Forty days: Pt 30 (the habits of successful fuckwits)

The freelance lifestyle requires icy discipline and boundless energy and enthusiasm. These are not qualities I possess in abundance. This was my 'working' day:

8:00 Walk dog. There is nothing wrong with this part of the day. Leaves, trees, light drizzle, endless whippetty squatting and insistent licking of patches of old wee. Bracing.

8:30 Finish a Brussels Guide (= add all the addresses forgotten when 'finished' on Friday). Enjoy brief sense of achievement.

9:10 Instagram my new advent calendar.

9:15 Try and upload some pictures to a client’s website from shared drive. Totally fail. Repeat, fail. Hate shared drive. Fantasise about painful death by melting of shared drive. Try again. Fail again.

9:45 Enlist M to try and help me resize the misshapen dialogue boxes on my Mac. We fail. Do some light chat/complaining.

10:10 Look at Saturday’s work. Feel queasy. Shift 5 words around. Email a restaurant asking for pictures. Do not anticipate reply, ever. Look at Solange wedding pics.

10:20 Feed chickens to stop them shrieking. Delete 5 words.

10:30 Look at work again. Delete 5 more words. Go and click on a couple of links. Genuinely find self starting to open a gallery entitled "The History of Kim Kardashian’s bum" then stop in shame. Decide to keep this diary of the day to chronicle My Full Monday Shame.

10:40 Eat a chocolate digestive. Think about using Freedom but remember it is on the other computer. Check Twitter. Check Instagram. Look at words again.

10:50 Write a sentence. Decide I would work better from bedroom.

11:00 Get into bed. For the next hour try, really try to write. It is horrible. ‘I will give back the advance,’ I think several times. “Quickly, before  I spend it”. I dwell on all the problems the text poses me and all the embarrassment and the outstanding bits I really don’t want to write. Lacking anything else really to do, I just sit with my discomfort for a while. I chuck a sentence down now and then, whilst staring into space. Add a couple of words here and there, have a tiny germ of an idea. Brief shafts of light appear, occasionally and are then smothered.

12:39 Too hungry to continue. Break off in middle of laboriously trying to relate super important life epiphany in Lafayette Gourmet. Bet this is going to be easy to recapture. Make and eat pasta and watch a blast of The Missing, because abducted child drama is jolly Monday viewing. Let chickens out, watch them systematically massacre the herbs then put them back in again.

1:50 Go back to a whole other section, accidentally. Write a bit of it.

2:14 M interrupts to tell me a saucepan lid has fallen on her head.

2:16 Remember which bit I was supposed to be trying to write. Go back to it.

2:35 Saxophone starts. Feels like neighbour is playing inside my actual fucking head. Rage. Remember earplugs. Put in earplugs. Go back to paragraph.

2:50 B emails a picture of a cat wine bottle holder and an all caps diatribe against Monday. I reply in kind.

3:00 Stare into space with mouth open for 5 minutes. Imagine lying down and closing eyes. Try to dispel this vision. Only an hour left until it all goes to shit. Must. Concentrate. Look at Twitter. Look at Instagram. Hate self. Go back to work.

3:11 Decide paragraph is lame. Stare at it. Conclude it is still lame. Plough on, grimly.

3:27 Look at a Grazia slideshow of advent calendars.

3:45 Finish section. It is highly unsatisfactory and lacking in jokes, but it is done.

3:50 Do another five minutes. Count words. 1200. Could be worse. Look at Isabel Marant €350 leopard skin trainers.

16:00 Look at website of hotel I might review. Listen to neighbour's improvised saxophone accompaniment to The Cure and Dido whilst thinking dark thoughts.

16:03 Give up and await imminent arrival of children.

Please tell me yours? But not if you saved an orphan from a runaway train or fearlessly confronted a drug kingpin or landed anything on a comet. No one needs to hear that.