webcowgirl: (Roxie)
Yesterday was supposed to be Good Weather (this means sunny and very cold), and J was planning to do some sort of strenuous walking with [livejournal.com profile] djm, so I decided to head to Walmer Castle with [livejournal.com profile] wechsler. Why Walmer? Well, first, it was nearby (within 2 hours); second, it looked cool; third, it was English Heritage and thus free thanks to the Christmas present [livejournal.com profile] irrationalrobot arranged for me. It was pretty neat, I thought, nice and old looking, though I think I would have preferred to have made a day of it by seeing the other coastal castles nearby, all accessible via an attractive looking cycling network (better for the summer, though). We got very good weather though it was actually a bit too cold for me; I wound up hiding in the castle's cafe to keep warm. However, the food was excellent so it wasn't such a bad place to hide, and boy, was it scenic! Pictures here. I was also given a new life's ambition: Lord Warden of the Cinques Ports, in short, the person who's official residence is Walmer. Last notable title holder: the Queen Mother. It's ambitious, but, hey, unlike the current Lord Warden, I'd be willing to live onsite, which apparently would make the cabbie who drove us there happy.

Then (after a nap and then a large cup of tea and a train ride) it was back to London, home, and then Cafe Koha for the opening night of the Showoff Piano Bar. It was packed already when we showed up but we got a seat against the wall and in the midst of the West End Whingers' crowd, and after half an hour or so Amy showed up. We made it through two bottles of wine and I sang three songs; "I Enjoy Being A Girl," "Maybe This Time" and "Dance 10, Looks 3" (a duet with a gentleman of about 55 who had all the lyrics memorized already). I think it was a really good time and I'll be first in line March 27th - and I'll practice singing so I'm ready.Lovely @webcowgirl singing Maybe This Time from Cabaret at th... on Twitpic Now, you might have thought I was being vain by bringing a second outfit to wear, but no, I just worried about freezing on the way into town - and then melting when I got in the club. And then, well, the club turned out to be a nice temperature inside but I thought a nicer dress was still called for, and there it was in my bag, so I changed clothes in the middle of the evening.

OOOH it is so lovely and sunny today and I just want to nap but I want to enjoy the weather AND do some writing! I've got two shows to review but I also need to prep for my presentation to the British Computing Society's "Software Testing Special Interest Group" on Thursday ... what's a girl to do? I've also got the incredible burden of not having a book to read right now. I just finished Cold Comfort Farm and absolutely loved it; I saw myself both in the heroine (wants to fix everyone's lives) and the screwed up family she's living with (very emotional and tend to assume every action or word someone makes is somehow directed "to" them). I'm guessing Master and Margarita should get popped back in my bag now.
webcowgirl: (wind)
After a blah day at work (blew most of it self-training and waiting for the work to hit), my evening was spent in the company of the inestimable [livejournal.com profile] lovelybug, to whom I fed caponata and pasta alla carretiera, receiving in exchange wine and Ben & Jerry's. I told her she was lovely and calming, she praised me for being generous (as well as loyal). We caught up on each other's lives and made plans for the future. She was consoling and supportive; I was enthusiastic and inquisitive. It went late; it was great.

Today work is boring again (same problem as yesterday) but I took advantage of it and went to Pilates at the Tottenham Court Road YMCA. We did a new move today; the intermediate mermaid with side extension. Sitting sideways on a reformer, you put your hand on the bar, then push yourself away and arch over with the top hand, like a normal mermaid; then you move the other hand to the bar and pull your whole body into the bar with your back arched. You push yourself back out until both your arms are straight, then raise up your chest so that you're curving your back in the opposite direction from before. Then I think you pull back in and re-curve your back out, then lift your "top"/far hand off the bar and lift it over your head back into the original seated position. It was really fun to do something new and I got a great back stretch out of it, too.

Tonight is Carlos Acosta, and tomorrow is the day where I may figure out what's happening with the rest of my life. It should make for an interesting day.
webcowgirl: (Clematis)
Wow, sparkly conversation hearts, for those who really want to sink their teeth into Twilight. Sometimes it's sad to be completely out of a cultural phenomenon; sometimes it's hysterical.

Uh, I am in a quite good mood today and feeling cheerful, much like I did yesterday. I was really happy to be back in London and back to my normal life, off at Inn Noodle last night and then seeing Birmingham Ballet GO MY LONDON LIFE W00T. Work is mellow right now and rather than being anxious and frustrated, I'm able to just settle into some solid planning for next week and not stress out. Also, it looks like I've got two sets of visitors coming over May and then June, people I am really looking forward to seeing, and I'm pretty happy about that, too. And the ballet last night was a lot of fun. And I have good books to read and the grass is sprouting in my back yard and I saw clematis in bloom down the street from us and some new cookbooks to entertain me. My house looks like a tornado came through it (that being us) and I can't connect to YIM at work, but overall ... exuding spring-like good vibes today. I bet it's because [livejournal.com profile] booklectic convinced us to go to Mondello, so even though it was wet outside I was finally able to get an orgone recharge. "Ocian in view! O! the joy!"
webcowgirl: (Default)
All things considered, there were so many things to recommend about this day that I think it was, on the whole, "nearly perfect."

Good things:
half day at work, actually did some useful stuff while I was there
realized I could squeeze in a lecture before my evening show and bought tickets to same :-)
got to Paradiso on time
[livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy was totally up for taking a nap and skipping paying 20 quid to see art
nap was irresistibly delicious and walk home was gorgeous and sunny
got some new food at Chatkhara (an Afghani kind of biryani) and sweets at Royal Sweets
Alain de Botton was fantastic - made funny points about life (i.e. "There are all of these regulations regarding not having sexual relations with your coworkers at many companies - God forbid you should enjoy sex more than you do trying to get rich")
the biryani stuff was yummy
we found the gorgeous back entry to the Barbican (from Moorgate), which makes it look like a futurist fantasy - I thought "Hanging Gardens of Babylon," J thought "Cloud City"
we were on time for Inferno
we made it home at a decent hour
we're nearly packed

Things that could have made it bad:
Inferno and Paradiso were, um ... not nearly as good as de Botton.
I am having to figure out how to use my two free round trip tickets to Nice in a way that's likely to disappoint someone.
It's after midnight and I haven't finished my review of the shows we saw earlier.

Still, really, that's just not much to complain about! And tomorrow it's Sicily until I've had all of the red wine and marzipan a girl can fit in her. I can't wait!
webcowgirl: (London Biker)
Great evening tonight - went to Streatham and went to the leisure center with [livejournal.com profile] spikeylady, where, it turns out, they were about to start a water aerobics class, which we decided to attend. I ended the evening with my arms and legs all rubbery and my skin dried out and all of the irritation that followed me like a cloud as I left work was completely evaporated. We went out and had Thai food with [livejournal.com profile] ciphergoth afterwards.

In short, I would consider tonight pretty much perfect. But then I found this clip of Xanadu from last night's Tony awards, and I'd say I've now hit 100% awesome.
webcowgirl: (ActionFigure)
I spent dinner reading an article I've been holding onto for a while with the cover teaser of "Rachel Cusk on the dangers of telling the truth about motherhood." What were these truths? I had to know. And it was a really engaging read, enough to pull me back to it as soon as dinner had been eaten and the plates cleared away. One of the things she noticed was that she was basically being censored by other women, who weren't okay when what she said about her feelings went against the party line on what was an acceptable thing to say about how being a mother made you feel. While I enjoyed a lot of what she had to say, I found this bit especially resonated with me. Why is it that it's so often other women that try to put the brakes on what comes out of women's mouths? Why are they the forces of conformity? Is the price of sisterhood learning how to "put up or shut up?"

Tell me, oh (female) hive mind: has this been your experience?

I've been moody today. I've even come up with a name for the thing that's been causing my moods lately. I'm going to call it The McGuffin. The McGuffin hasn't gone away, although I thought I saw signs of its demise not too long ago ... it's apparently wormed its way into my brain and will now just kind of twitch now and then when something sets it off. I look forward to it dying permanently, but I now realize this may not happen for another three to six months, or longer. Meanwhile I've got yet another pile of poo added to what I've been toting around inside my head to make me act irrationally and obsess on stupid things. Yay!

So the McGuffin was bothering me as I set out today. I was angry about running so late and making [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy and [livejournal.com profile] wechsler sit and wait for me while I tried to find an outfit to wear (a lack of summer weight pants was making this difficult for me). But after we'd made it to West Dulwich station, of all things, Carter's Steam Fair was set up! It was full of beautiful, restored, gilded giant toys that had calliope accompanyment and silly signs on the sides. The swing even blew out a huge puff of steam every time it went backwards. It was great!

Suddenly I was eight years old and the world was full of wonder. I ran around looking at all of the rides, laughing and pointing and realizing that rather a few of them would make me feel quite ill. The carousel was playing "The Lambeth Walk," a song I wouldn't have recognized a year ago, and I felt so proud of myself for being able to grow a little into the local culture. We stopped in the arcade and played some of the silly, old-fashioned machines. I went for the fortune teller, my obsession since reading American Gods. I got the same one I got last time: "Your hand denotes a firm and determined character, one that can be led but not driven .... Very sincere, but too independent to please most people whom you meet." Yep, it's like a badge of pride and yet a knife in my heart - that ever so accurate fortune of mine - I should just change my LJ user description to say what it says on the card.

I can't really explain how much this cheered me up. We didn't actually ride any rides or play any more games, but trotted off to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the Coming of Age: American Art, 1850s to 1950s exhibit (ends tomorrow). This was a very nice exhibit - good representations of the realist, substantially landscape-type work produced in the 1850s right up through Calder and Rauschenberg. I also really enjoyed the artists' description of their art, and the assertion of the need to develop an American identity for art, one which "embraces the world as it exists today" - a philosophy I feel most art forms should pursue, especially the performing arts. We also got to see an exhibit of photographs from China done at the very beginning of the 20th century which I found fairly interesting (reminded me of Song of the Fishermen as well as the Chinese opera I've been watching). We actually were finished in good time - the exhibition hall is rather petite - and had an opportunity to sit down and have tea and scones. It was lovely.

Afterwards it was off to meet [livejournal.com profile] natalya and [livejournal.com profile] lovingboth up at St. Pancras, with a short stop at London Bridge to wrangle some dinner fixin's (stuffed duck breast at a 30% discount, go heavy bargaining me!) and an opportunity for the McGuffin to take control again (boo). I finally got home at 7:30, popped the food in the oven, and we ate at 8:30 ... and now I'm so tired. So tired! It seems like I really burn the candle at both ends based on how long it takes me to get my engine restoked over the weekend. And I say this, and yet I read that the some Russian ballet company is coming to London in late July and I'm all going, "Oooh! Ooh! How many of the shows can I see?" (the answer is two, but I only really want to see one). I can tell I'm going to put myself in an early grave, but, God, getting there is really fun, except for the sleep deprivation.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
Tonight I had [livejournal.com profile] booklectic over for dinner and made her penne alla Norma. It seemed to go over fairly well and I'm feeling pleased at my cooking fu. It was the first time I'd had company at my house in about two months (I think) and was really nice. We finished off my last bottle of Ecusson and I introduced her to plum wine (yummy). We also checked out this month's Hotel Chocolat selection. Red Alert was yummy; Chambord Indulgence seemed a bit dry. I think she liked the Butterscotch Crumble but I'm not sure. We had a really good visit. She said I seemed to be settling down here to stay and I thought the indications were that I was, as I've only thought about leaving twice, when I was pretty down (even though I've thought of my house and life in Seattle a lot, I haven't much thought about it being time to go, although listening to Magnetic Fields tonight was making me miss some folks). As she was packing up, a fireworks display went off over Fulham or Chelsea, somewhere that was perfectly visible through the right-most window of the living room. It was really lovely. I've promised to come over and cook for her, and teach her how if she's interested. Yum, food.

The ultrasound today went well. I have great blood flow in my liver; my kidneys are full of fine, meaty tissue (surrounding a fatty interior, as expected) and both are a perfect size (my kidney is not the size of a peanut, so there [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy). The doctor said a main problem with kidneys for adults is due to childhood urinary tract infections - isn't that surprising? Anyway, I had no build up and no sign of any disease whatsoever - a textbook "important organs in fine working order" scan. I'm sure the doctor was happy about it - I sure was. Afterwards I went home and took a nap, and all things told, I was pretty happy about that, too, as I was up way too late last night. Let's see if I can improve on this tonight ...
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
I had a great time out last night and saw lots of friends. A pub full of people I know - how great is that! [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu got very excited when I told her that I have House on Haunted Hill and asked me to bring it the E&M do at the end of the month, but .. well, now I don't know if I have it or not!

I tried to leave early but it was already 9:30 by the time I got back to Putney, and then I ruined my extra-long night's sleep by writing up The Good Soul of Szechuan, which [livejournal.com profile] wechsler and I saw Monday night at the Young Vic. I enjoyed it, but Brecht is not everyone's cup of tea.

Meanwhile I'm back to Marcel and have started The Fugitive part of The Prisoner and The Fugitive. I'm on page 401, in the middle of a big section all about loss. I read almost two pages from it to [livejournal.com profile] wechsler, all about how intuition understands what the intellect doesn't in regard to relationships - how the signs that it's over will register at one level even while you deny them as "not making any sense." I thought it was really great.

I've been treating this as Dress Like a Girl week due to the good weather (see icon), although I'm not sure if the weather is going to cooperate today. Time to get off the couch and get to it, though!
webcowgirl: (Movie reel)
I had an invigorating trip to the BFI with [livejournal.com profile] booklectic last night to see The Killers - story by Ernest Hemingway, evil glamour by Eva Gardner ("gown supervision by Vera West"), black heart by Robert Siodmak. Wow. It was like Pulp Fiction meets Memento but with better cinematography. Apparently this movie went on to influence a lot of other films - I can see why.

The evening continued nicely with Curry Night at the Railway Pub with [livejournal.com profile] wechsler and two pints of cider, then home to meet up with the freshly-networked [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy. I ended the evening feeling very relaxed and much better than I had at work.

This morning I arranged the purchase of [livejournal.com profile] tonyawinter's tickets to London. It'll be great to see her! September 4-15th, mark your calendars!

Otherwise, tonight we're off to some fun Chinese performing arts "spectacular" at the Southbank with [livejournal.com profile] robot_mel, work is work, and I need to start going to the gym and getting off of my computer in the middle of the day.
webcowgirl: (Queen Apple)
I am turning 40 tomorrow and it just doesn't seem to be any different from other birthdays. I'm happy, a lot happier than I was last year. What's there to complain about?

I had [livejournal.com profile] countess_sophia over for dinner tonight, and the summary is: I had three different kinds of liquor, (two) red wine(s), some zabaione liqueur (poured over the chocolate cake I got from Waitrose for 99 p.), and some grappa that I picked up at the airport. I'm kind of having a hard time feeling my face right now.

Dinner was heavily influenced by my trip - the food I ate there and the food we brought back. I made: gorgeous prosciutto on utterly ripe melon; apple/cured sausage/flakes of parmesan salad with great olive oil dressing it; the cutie tortellini with mortadella and some kind of cheese inside I picked up at Tamburini ("antica salsamenteria bolognese," Via Caprarie 1 - 40124 Bologna 051234726) with butter and fresh basil on top; and big slices of motzarella on big stinking slices of tomato (I sniffed them and they smell like ripe tomato, yum) drizzled with the Modena vinegar I brought back; and slices of cake. Dinner was served on the plates I brought back from Orvieto ages ago and the food mostly in the bowls I bought in Ronda.

It was good. I'm full. I feel happy about living here. Happy Birthday to me one day early. :-) And now for one more glass of wine.
webcowgirl: (HappyHat)
First, I have one ticket for tonight's Absolute Beginners at the Lyric Hammersmith. Showtime is 7:30: is anyone able to go? (The ticket was only £9 so I won't scream if you want to go and cry skint, it's better than having it go to waste.) Please let me know ASAP. Second ...

So my boss is working from home, which means I'm skiving today, well, only I wasn't really skiving, I just decided to let myself leave the building for lunch ...

and who did I run into but [livejournal.com profile] indigo_violet, who was looking very "I just got back from Whitby ..."

and then we sat down and had a drink and a natter and then I really WAS skiving and wasn't it just a lovely day to sit on a patio and have a chat with a friend, knowing there were no meetings in my future, no pressing work to attend to, and no boss waiting for me to come back?

Anyway, I'm going to go help [livejournal.com profile] spikeylady pack tomorrow, because it will be useful and I think I'll enjoy the company and feeling like I'm being helpful. Yay a free night! Yay a sunny day and nice friends and no boss today!
webcowgirl: (I Miss America)
Boy, Pilates felt GREAT, all of the muscles in my back and legs got stretched, plus I got a bit of a triceps workout, enough to leave my arms feeling wobbly. Mr. Shadowdaddy made me "orichetti with ricotta and fresh basil" from the River Cafe "Two Easy" cookbook for dinner and I wolfed it down.

Now I'm sitting by the window, drinking a cider and reviewing my US tax return ($700 owed, could be worse), and I just watched the John Harriot pull in at the dock. Damn, that thing's cute. Mr. Shadowdaddy's going to take that thing into work just to make me jealous, and it's going to work.

PS: Work very busy today.
webcowgirl: (octopus)
Well, I slept quite late as befitting a night in which I consumed about a pint of alcohol (and spent the night hydrating myself frantically, resulting in No Headache this morning, but still Tired Me). Once I roused myself, I made poached eggs on crumpets and sausage for the three of us, then ... returned to the couch and bid [livejournal.com profile] wechsler goodbye as he headed out to enjoy the sunny day at the waterfowl refuge a pleasant stroll up the river from our house.

One long nap with my head pillowed on [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy's legs later and I was ready to finally face the extremely gorgeous day. We decided to go to Notting Hill and check it out. What do you know; Sunday is the day there is NO market on Portobello Road, but there was enough good window shopping and a couple of cool outdoor stalls and MANY fewer people than on a normal day and it all seemed quite worthwhile. I found some 20s era prints of sea life - cuttlefish (I think; octopus faces but no tentacles), seahorses, and corals and sea anemones; and I allowed myself to be seduced by their watery charms and took them all (the three of them) home with me. I'll find some of that blue sticky stuff and put it on the walls in the flat in their plastic bags eventually.

After this we walked up to Hyde Park and did the whole stroll on the north end of the park. I finally got to see Speakers' Corner, which reminded me of a scene from the Life of Brian. Is this traditionally a place for religious fanatics to spout their poison? We'd spent some two hours in the sunshine under the leafless trees enjoying our day, and the effect of Speakers' Corner was jarring and had me hurrying back to the flat.

We'd asked [livejournal.com profile] wechsler to pick us up some ingredients for grub, and (after a cup of tea) I got down to it, whipping up a rather traditional Southern dinner (all inspired by the excess cheese from the party). Once dinner had settled a bit, we returned to the dining table for a round of Tigris, which [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy won rather handily, in part due to my uncontrolled meddling. I love watching people fight in this game, but I really ought to pay attention to the occasional unanticipated outcome, as my thoughtlessness basically set him up to win. Oh well, we all had a lot of fun. Now it's time to put the tapioca in the fridge, stretch my quads and do my various other physio exercises, and call it a night.

PS: Proust now at page 750.
webcowgirl: (Default)
I have a few folks out there in LJ land that are very tut-tut at me about how I did nothing but talk down people in Seattle and my experience there.

Tonight, at home, alone in my apartment (while [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy is back in Seattle-land), I'm reminded of how I felt living in Seattle most of all of four years ago. I was damaged goods, I was a waste of a human being, I was bad on the inside, I was not worth being friends with, even though I was 35 and had been trying for years to be a good person and trying to find good friends. I was most of the same person that I am now, but because of how a group of people treated me, I felt not only incredibly lonely, but really sadly broken. I believed there was no hope for me, that people just would never like me. (That time is blogged quite well if you want to read back that far, but since I try to avoid LJ drama like the plague it is, I don't talk much about what is upsetting me in those posts. It's just day after day of bleak and lonely and snow, my guts a little Narnia, my heart overwhelmed with the splinter of glass that said, "You will have no friends, ever. You cannot figure out how to do it and nobody wants you. Go hybridize dahlias or raise poodles or something so you're not just a waste of space.") This went on for months and months and months, pretty much from August to August, building up little pieces until I formed my very solid conclusion about my fate in life as a person of little worth. I mean, really, if that many people who had known me for so long saw me like that, how could I not think they were right?

I think that someday I'll just let it all hang out and tell it to the world, so the people that think I hate Seattle "and everything in it" can nod their heads and say, "Ah, now it all makes so much sense," but really, moving forward is generally healthier. (I'm saving it for my graphic novel, anyway.) And in some ways so much of what was making me miserable was what was happening at home and the fact that I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it, but the feeling of being so utterly worthless was very toxic to my brain. (Amusingly enough, this psych book I was reading Saturday night was talking about how this feeling of being icky and damaged is a key element of people's sexual fetishes, but somehow the two never got linked up in my head. I still get shut out of plans of people I know, but it doesn't get me all hot and bothered. Go figure.)

I feel much better now, and fairly regularly, even though tonight I'm sitting in my empty apartment drinking flat, warm cider and getting ready for a (bleah) 6:30 AM shift at work. Boo-yah. In 2004, [livejournal.com profile] ergotia, [livejournal.com profile] ciphergoth, [livejournal.com profile] spikeylady, and [livejournal.com profile] lilithmagna convinced me I wasn't worthless, and I decided that I would move moth-like toward this light and toward the person they treated me like rather than the person I'd come to believe I was.

Thanks, guys. And thanks to all the rest of you here, and thanks to the people I met after that summer that made Seattle better to live in after all of the crap had happened.

I'm still marching along with the Proust, and I've hit the halfway mark in volume 1. The narrator is happy, but you can feel that things won't last. Proust has just stuck a long passage about how art that advances its art can only become appreciated later, once it's had a chance to influence people, which seems to me like the author saying that he is anticipating his book will not be well-received. I'm alternating it and the third book by Richard Morgan - brutal cyber-punk versus dreamy late-19th century reveries, what a difference!

Anyway. Home. Alone. Drinking. Tired. Going to bed soon. Please take care of [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy, for me, Seattle folks, and hope that while he's there he can find the happy that hasn't been coming to him since he moved.
webcowgirl: (Cards2)
I had both [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy and [livejournal.com profile] wechsler tell me in the last week that I seem to be cheering up, "recovering your resiliency," etc. To me, what I'm hearing is that I'm settling in and things are going well for me - that I'm adjusting to living here, feeling more stable, and, well, I think, feeling happy about how my life is going. Yeah, I want [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy to get a job, but it is nice having him here, we've got friends and things to do, and we're not feeling hopeless about stuff. (Hurray for the holidays being over.) So things are going well.

Bonus chippering message: in the manager training I went to yesterday, on "giving feedback" (mostly how to chew people a new one without making them quit, but also just a little bit about how to say nice things to them), one of the actor/coaches told me that I had a real and genuine attitude that people really respond to well, and that my employees could see that I was sincere about what I was saying to them and not a fake. That made me really happy (especially good after the last session ended with me in tears). She also said that my instincts about when to respond to people emotionally was spot-on, which I found incredibly validating. I am super manager, hear me tell you you're a great employee. :-) It actually reminded me of saying goodbye to Saritha and Vidya at Tripadelic - they both had a hard time not crying and I felt so reinforced in my belief that I am a _good_ manager, the kind I always wish I had, the kind I think makes it possible for my superstar employees to perform at their highest level. One of my folks at $howboat told me late Monday that while it sucked coming in so early that day, no one on the team minded it because I was always so easy the rest of the time that it just wasn't a big deal. So yay again there.

Today was the Big Day of Skiving, followed by some housework and hosting [livejournal.com profile] thekumquat and [livejournal.com profile] conflux for lasgagne and Puerto Rico, which [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy won (66, T-K 56, me 53, Cx 49). It was really well played and a lot of fun and the start of what I hope will be a long series of fun games with some very nice folks.

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