Saturday, 24 January 2009
Hurrah for stem cell research.
Hurrah for progress.
One of the aspects of the Bush regime that most troubled me was the utter rejection of debate. In the wake of 9/11, a difference of opinion was branded as un-American. Discourse was more than discouraged. It was bullied into silence.
Fervour tends this way. Fervour is counter discourse.
For this reason, Obamamania does make me an eentsy weentsy bit nervous. The man himself seems reasonable and open. I hope he'll be able to use that cool, calm timbre of voice to quell the zealots who might lead their own charge in his name.
I say this now because I am the eentsy weentsiest bit afraid to say anything bad about the man. I'm afraid of what I'd be branded.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
At the entrance where the taxi has dropped me, I walk past a smart looking young man rummaging through his overcoat pockets. It reminds me how I just had to rummage through my handbag to find the fare to pay the taxi. I wonder if he is patting himself down to double-check that he has brought his passport. I think back to a previous journey and a man in front of me in a long queue that occurred after the ‘incident in the chunnel’ and how he was turned away because he had forgotten his passport. At the last moment it occurs to me that this smart looking young man is not looking for his passport. He’s looking for matches or a lighter and a cigarette. His position (just outside the entrance) gives it away.
My clipped pace through the airy Eurostar foyer does not make the clomp of a businesswoman on the move. I do not wear heals. Rarely ever, do I. My clipped pace is muted. I am a surreptitious businesswoman.
The monitor indicates that check-in for my train will open at 4:40. It is 4:46. I pause.
Do I try to go through?
I take a gamble. The turnstile that munches on my ticket spits it out again, with a pause, and lets me pass.
I put my handbag and backpack onto the conveyer that will take them through the machine that will let strangers see my insides.
I walk through the passenger scanner just in time to see the security lady in charge of in-depth searches take my backpack over to her search area. Internally I hrrrhmmmpppphhhh a sigh. I take a breath.
She’s only doing her job.
She asks me to unzip the outside pocket zipper. She removes the contents one item at a time. Her manner is apologetically gentle. She removes a spare tampon and puts it in the little plastic crate with my pencil case and notebook and gloves and beanie. The electronic items – my iPod, my laptop, the various cords and charges and adaptors – go into a different plastic crate for a different type of examination. She asks me what time my train is.
“5:53” I surprise myself: my tone of voice is pleasant. Not annoyed or impatient or rushed*.
“An early start,” she replies.
I consider telling her I intentionally arrived with 20 minutes to spare because I wanted to get a coffee and the Nero inside the security gates always has an extraordinarily long queue. I hold my tongue.
She asks me if I’m a student. I chuckle.
“Nope. On business. I still have the souvenirs from my student days, though.”
She puts my belongings more neatly into my bookbag than I had and wishes me a pleasant day.
I continue my clipped pace past the long laptop bar with electrical sockets for both European and UK sized chargers and head straight to Caffe Nero where there is virtually no queue. I laugh at myself.
I figure I have plenty of time and defer my coffee for a visit to the loo.
As I approach the door to the Ladies I think how nice a place it is to piss. The long, thin rectangular chamber boasts dozens of stalls with floor to ceiling doors and walls to give you a cocooned-in feeling. It’s nice to feel like you’re pissing in private.
I fast forward to my return trip. In 10 hours or so I will be going to the WC in the Eurostar section of Bruxelles-Midi. It will not be nearly as nice an experience. It will somehow remind of the loos in the Cairo airport. Not at all modernized.
I bring myself back to the luxury of the moment. I stroll past stall after stall, looking for a couple of consecutive green circles. I don’t think how silly it is that I’m looking for a stall between two empty stalls. I’m mildly surprised that I’m nearing the end of the line. I choose the third from the end. I push in the massive steel door and lock myself in with the fancy-in-its-simplicity modern latch.
I notice the sign on the back of the door and think how it detracts from the prevailing contemporariness of the place. A laminated piece of paper crudely stuck to the back of the door to remind us, ladies, of something we should all know anyway. I wonder when we’ll be able to make do without these warnings.
I decide to take a picture.
*Boredom Practice is paying off dividends.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Sunday, 18 January 2009
'When exactly did you darn those socks?' The Mista asked me.
'On the train.'
'On the tube? You are kidding me.' He waited for me to confirm that I was joking.
'Not on the tube. On the train. You know I had to be on customer site this week.'
'Train or tube - you can't be serious.'
CBF, master-of-all-things-practical, beamed in the background.
'Yes on the train. It's over an hour one way. Why not take some darning to do? No one would have seen that they were my socks. They would just have wondered what the fuck I was doing. Who cares?'
My Man, seemingly surprised by my shamelessness, shook his head.
CBF asked to have a better look at the completed product.
'Good job, girl!'
CBF is too kind. The mended heals of my socks look like an amateur's mosaic patchwork, which is precisely what they are. Nonetheless, they give me pride. I've never darned nor sewed nor knitted nor nothing. My mom thought it was best that growing up, I didn't pick up handy womanly skills that would forever pigeonhole me as a stay-at-home type of woman. Much better, she thought, that I be incapable of sewing on a button. Better to ensure I have the type of career that would enable me to pay someone to sew my missing buttons back on.
Before I met CBF, I would have sighed over the thinnly worn fabric of my socks and then I would have either thrown them away or possibly reycled them as dusting clothes. Now I spit in the eye of our throw away society by sitting on the train and pulling out a needle, thread, a light bulb and a pair of threadbare socks.
I daydream of throwing in the towel and darning all day. I know I'm not talented enough; I know it would damage my eyes (darning is hard work!); I know I wouldn't last, but a girl has to dream.
Re: the pig -- My Man, unaware of the pig's Internet following, put the pig in the Dog toy bag. Dog hasn't expressed any concern for her missing friend. Her mind seems elsewhere.
Thursday, 15 January 2009
But, as I rinse my dinner plate before putting it in the dishwasher, I feel a weight. I know this weight. It comes without justification, using excuses of whatever sort to insert itself into my life for a few, short, dark days.
The signs have been building up.
An extra glass (or 2) of wine more than I should have; the urge to bite away at the rough edges of my fingernails; the urge to rip off my toenails; the difficulty of pulling myself out of bed when the alarm goes off; irritability at the thought of my co-workers. Signs of the weight; the darkness. Not even Dog and her friend are able to combat this funk. Time and the tenuous grasp that I have on all that is good and satisfying in my life will pull me through until we're all back on our feet.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
How is that possible?
I wonder about Dog and what goes through her mind when she decides to move the pig from one place to another. Owing to a couple bum knees, Dog does not much like going down the steps to our cellar.
Why would she take the pig down there?
I look down at the pig from the top of the stairs. I don't much feel like going down the stairs either. There's laundry to be finished. I don't feel like looking at it, let alone doing it. Folding is always the most tiresome of laundry steps. But, the pig seems to be looking at something and the irrational drunk in me wants to know what the pig is doing, on what has the pig fixed its gaze?
Is Dog sending me messages through the pig?
It is a demonic little thing. The pig, not Dog.
Thursday, 8 January 2009
I thought I had resolved to write less about me.
I'll write about London, like I'm supposed to do!
For a flash of a second after this resolve had set in, I worried that my focusing on London, on particular streets or buildings or neighbourhoods, would turn some of you off. I worried about the impact of de-personalisation.
I thought I could write endless posts about traffic on Putney High Street.
The picture of a perfectly positioned plastic pig in my hallway begged to be taken. A couple of nights later (tonight, in fact!) the same pig, untouched by human hands, found himself in a different, yet equally perfectly positioned position.
I have to take a picture!
I thought to myself about what a difference a dog has made to my life.
Fuck the strict rules re: the topic of my blog. It's my blog, I can write about whatever the fuck I want to write about despite the title of my blog -- if I want to.
My Man is out of town. I briefly think about the fact that he hasn't yet called.
But, the pig! The pig!
After taking the 2nd pig picture, I go into the kitchen to mull over my predicament. I pour myself the last of a bottle of pinot noir. I've already had two small(ish) glasses. To kill the bottle, I have to fill this last glass up to the rim.
This is gonna smash me.
I think, with a shrug of the shoulders.
The phone rings. It must be My Man. I hurry to get it, while I think about so many trivial things all at the same time.
The pig! My Man! This glass of wine!
I determine that owning my brain is in itself stressful.
Quite possibly wasteful!
Monday, 5 January 2009
I spent Christmas night in a row of seats by myself. I alternated between watching movies, writing emails, and sleeping stretched out across the the row of seats.
The mini-cab driver who picked me up on Boxing Day morning charged me double. I wondered if it would have been cheaper to take a black cab, but I didn't let it get to me because I was (and am still) actively working on keeping my stress level down.
The day after Boxing Day I gave my passport to a stranger who I had paid to come to my door to collect it and deliver it to the American Embassy. I need a new one (passport, not embassy). I am now passportless. It is slightly disconcerting when I think about it; so I try not to think about it. I learned this simple, yet crafty technique, through my stress management practice.
Let's see how this week goes.
Sunday, 4 January 2009
Of the two ways to get there (from here), the preferable, by far, is to take the District Line to the very end, stroll leisurely up a long hill, past brick walls that hide brick manors (I imagine), up into the old centre of Wimbledon with its boutique shops and organic bakeries and up-scale news agents sprinkled between the standard high street shops and cafes (where I get my morning coffee before heading into the wilds of the Common). This way is preferable because of the coffee and the fact that Dog likes the tube, or at least she doesn't seem to mind it. The other option is up Putney High Street (as opposed to down it). Going up Putney High Street entails a fully detached vehicle of some sort - the 14 red salmon-like bus returning to spawn at its depot or a a private car (a friend's, a neighbour's, or hired from an agency letting them out for 20 quid a day in these economically uncertain times). Dog does not do well in these kind of vehicles. It's much preferable to take the tube.
The inconveniences associated with getting there are quickly forgotten once our party (usually CBF, Dog, and I) disappears into the dense wood or the high grass where we forget we're still in London, until a Heathrow-bound plane flies over. Doig, CBF, and I watch it in silence until it passes. Then we resume our bucolic reverie.
Friday, 2 January 2009
There are a couple of ways I go to get to Wimbledon Common, but generally there is only one way home: down Putney High Street from the bus "depot" where the number 14 starts its journey like a big red salmon flip flopping downstream toward the big, scary ocean.
The traffic on Putney High Street, between Upper Richmond Road and the bridge, always tests my patience. The pace slows to a crawl, whether it's a high traffic day or a slow Sunday, whether it's morning or night. Sometimes I'm in the 14 bus and looking out at pedestrians bobbing and weaving through their own kind of traffic. Other times I'm in a car and worried that the driver (usually My Man) is going to have a coronary thanks to his inability to passively roll with it (the traffic).
Invariably I notice the Brasilian Buffet restaurant and remind myself that we ought to try it. I don't think we ever will.