30 August 2006

so little, so late

Sam is off to conference, and I am in Portland finishing up the capitalist extravaganza and packing all the crap we bought. many things to blog about, but it hasn't been a blogging space lately. US politics, when you're in it, is so ridiculous as to be unbloggable. we've watched the nightly news a few times with Sam's parents and it's horrifying in its blathery nothingness. the local paper isn't much better. I hide out by doing the crossword and looking at nothing else. (except the celeb gossip that's directly above the crossword, of course. the eye wanders.) we have had lovely meals with our friend Joel, which involved watching mad amounts of Deadwood season 3 at a time, such that my dreams are filled with sinister-yet-somehow-attractive, sideburn-sporting, dirty men. it's all good. I think there should be a law against watching more than three of those at a time. the show is too damn good.

I did want to blog about hindsight, panic, being in the middle of things and unable to see a way out. my thesis is this: the way out is not along the path you'd planned. or, to put it more bluntly, if your path leads to a well-defined, established goal, you're going down the wrong one. because along the way, invariably it seems, you start having to swim upstream to get to that goal. going against the current is fine, for a bit. but you don't want to get all the way upstream, spawn, and then realise: crap! now I'm dead!

salmon metaphors aside, the moment when you think: this is all too much. my life is not what I wanted it to be. but I thought I wanted that thing. that thing I'm striving for. maybe I'm just worthless and a better person would go after it harder or more forcefully. the moment you think that, you need to step back and reassess. because that's the moment when your swimming upstream starts to lead to self-destruction, like the fishies.

the people I know who have found some sort of fulfilment are those that realised: hey, I don't need to swim upstream anymore. this other thing makes me happy, and so I'll do that. (but what about the established, shiny goal over there?) forget about it. try to realise the shine is just tin foil and so much promise, not a truly nice place to be. be where you are. find a place that feels good, find friends, a trader joe's, whatever makes you tick. and be there.

congrats on the job, Joely. couldn't happen to a better poet.

24 August 2006


while much of our time in the NW has involved various panics re: house, Luke, stuff--you will be happy to hear that we have also had time to, well, aquire more of said stuff, because material possessions make us what we are, as is common knowledge. we also have been attempting to assume the mindset that, in fact, it wouldn't matter if our storage stuff sunk into the ocean, for we are Zen-like, anti-materialist creatures. and yet, I have to say that I would dearly miss my circa 2003 Martha Stewart spice rack (you know the one I'm talking about. you know. I know you know.) and so we are acquiring more things. like mad. for they are cheaper here than in the UK. first, the money here is worth nigh nothing. B) the prices on electronics and computer type items, which as you know, we buy with some frequency, are substantially less than the same goods in GB. and Q) tax free shopping, baby. gotta love Oregon. (and Delaware, but we're fairly distant from that lovely Dupontified state)

so I made a dent in the J.Jill sale, the Ann Taylor clearance, and a local high-end thrift store called--wait for it--Spanky's, that had some lovely Nike goodies in my size. we have also succumbed to designer jeans, largely because they fit so well and are made so well, but deep down because they're soooo cool! Sam got some Levan Diesels with fancy purple embroidery on the back pockets (picture it. it's amazing). I got Ronhar Diesels in dark dark raw denim. necessities, of course. I look hot in them.

all of this is to say I am very tired of spending money. having avoided capitalism in its various overt forms for the last few years, what with the single-salary, moving every year mode, it's like I'm out of practice. like I should have eased in somehow. done a test run. you don't realise how much you don't need to shop until you stop, and then you don't realise how very hard it is to shop (really--trying things on, driving, parking, choosing, finding the best price, making chat with salespeople, and so on and so on) until you start up again. ah well. it's fun though, spending fake money and getting new stuff. I think this capitalism thing might catch on. watch for it.

23 August 2006

the slammed barista

the only metaphor for the mental state we are experiencing now: the slammed barista. before the cop-out of cup-marking, before everyone ordered frappuccinos, there was a certain honour in being the one chosen to do the morning rush. or should I say, one of the two chosen, as back in the day, they actually trained baristas to work in tandem. the sing-song call-out, so mocked in popular culture but so crucial when your vision has narrowed so that all you can see are the three milk containers (skim, whole, soy), the seconds counting down for the perfect shot (19-23, by the way), the cups arranged in order, and the recitation in your head: half-caf venti no-foam latte. double-tall extra dry cappuccino. iced grande vanilla soy latte. grande skim latte. grande skim latte. decaf venti almond latte. single-shot decaf venti skim no-foam latte (aka the 'why bother'). you steam the milk, draw the shots, call back the drinks, call out the drinks, thank the customer, smile, even as you wipe the steam wand, dose the coffee, dash to the back for the espresso beans or the new bottle of vanilla.

the last few days have been all about that tunnel vision. except replace coffee with getting Luke onto the plane. and replace milk steaming with coordinating with our solicitor in Swansea to buy the house. and replace thanking the customer, running to the back, and refilling the hopper with coordinating our stuff in storage in California to get to the UK.

oh, and then there's that work I'm supposed to be doing, like revising my book. that's somewhere in the blackness of the non-existent peripheral vision.

for-here double-tall breve latte please.

18 August 2006

advice for the traveling capitalist

opportunities for shopping, given the current inanities of the TSA and other international airport security organisations. the sign in the US reads:
"Absolutely" no liquids.

The quotes, of course, indicate that in fact, it's not in any way absolute that we should not bring liquids on board. hey, at least they didn't put an apostrophe in: "Absolutely" no liquid's! "Definitively" no one who knows grammar rules!

Sam and Rebecca's recommendations for solid shampoos, conditioners, and lotions, coming right up...

L'Occitane's Pure Shea Butter comes in a small tin and is, well, the consistency of butter, and thus not a liquid. Can be used as lip balm and as lotion. Passed through security no problem at DIA.

Lush is the place for fabulous solid shampoos and conditioners. We recommend Seanik (above), which is lovely smelling and leaves your hair feeling great. If the solid thing turns you off--just try it. you rub the bar into your hair a few times (depending on the thickness/length of your hair) then massage the sudsy goodness in. If you keep the bar dry, it will last forever. or slightly less than forever, but a long time.

Their solid conditioners take a bit more getting used to, but they are similarly awesome. Check this out: Jungle conditioner. And it's vegan! who cares about that? I don't know. but there it is. woo hoo!

go solid, baby. we were sick of the bottles leaking in our luggage anyway, right? right.

update: the Shea Butter (large size tin) didn't make it through the international gate check for my aunt travelling to Australia from the US. I see class action lawsuits coming down the pike for the TSA regarding the necessary dermatological treatments required for surviving a 15 hour flight sans moisturizer. sheesh!

13 August 2006

it's fine. it's fine.

re: culture shock on return to US (and Denver, despite being towards the west of the country, does not, in my book, qualify as 'hinterland')...it's fine. our transition was helped by the unbelievably surly, incommunicative, and uncaring staff at the EWR Starbucks on arrival in the US. I had to help a poor woman who was laying over from Amsterdam get her son an iced mocha. otherwise I think she would have been there all day, stuck between surly server and cranky, tired son. but it's fine.

we have decided we entirely dislike driving. traffic, construction, stoplights--it's a madhouse. and people tend toward the negative when behind the wheel--to say the least. patience? we're all in the same boat? no worries? none of these emotions seem to be those felt by drivers around us, all in massive cars and SUVs. but these things are not unique to the US. the collective blood pressure does, however, seem to be a bit higher here.

we have succeeded in having Mexican food for all but two of the meals we have had thus far. not perfect, but we're working on it. the count progresses.

and the wedding was a rousing success: fun had by all, pretty people and flowers and vegetarian wellington, and last (and first) but not least, an open bar. and we even had a pseudo-crasher, I think. this fab euro guy in big sunglasses, pencil trousers with pin-stripes matched by a skinny pin-striped jacket. he was seen watching the photo shoot and then later pre-dinner. sadly he didn't stay for the dancing. he could have been 'that guy'. every wedding has to have 'that guy'. I hope he shows up in the pics.

10 August 2006

Just made it

In case anyone was interested, and didn't already know. We flew from the UK to the US on 9 August and got in late last night, just before the insanity started.

Guess I need to go shopping for a bag to protect my computer when I have to check it in for UK flights...

05 August 2006

Night Moves

No, we're not moving at night - though we are moving - it's just that 'Night Moves' is currently playing on my new favourite radio station, Atlantic Sound Factory.
Check it out; it's what an '80s Station' ought to be (my tagline, not theirs). Oh, and say what you will about Bob Seger, but 'Night Moves' is unimpeachable.

And so, speaking of moving: this would be the 4th time we've 'moved' in the past 37 months. I put moved in inverted commas since this one is an odd one: we're moving out of our flat, but not to anywhere. Ideally, there will be a house waiting for us when we get back from our trip to the States, but if the UK home-buying process has taught us anything up to now it's that there are no guarantees.

It's also rather astonishing to see how little has amounted from our packing. We have a few small bags of clothes, 3 boxes of living room/office stuff, 1 box from the bathroom, and 3 kitchen boxes. Basically, that's it.

And finally there's the bizarre feeling that this is the big move, that perhaps we'll finally get to stop moving. And yet, A) we're only moving about a mile from here, and B) in order to move that mile we have to travel the thousands and thousands necessary to get to the states and back – leaving just so we can come back.

blog post

this therefore will not have been a blog post.*

*despite overly cute references to derrida, in no way should this text be taken as an attempt to live up to that level of thinking or writing, as that would be both mentally unlikely right now and, well, after the death of the author and all, impossible.

mimesis. is Coldplay productively appropriating U2 or performing some sort of watered-down hack copy? discuss.

jenever. are historical beverages made a few years ago historical?

inspection. if a surveyor inspects a house for a mortgage that has been canceled, will anybody hear him?

a flea-ridden cat. how many times to wash the sheets?

descaling. cleaning with vinegar. natural but smelly.

avoidance. boxes and clothes and stuff and stuff.

the eternal return.

01 August 2006

West Texas.

I just finished Annie Proulx's novel That Old Ace in the Hole, and my reading of it coincided with salon's unofficial compilation of some good books set in and about West Texas. I'd recommend this one as an addition. Proulx knows cowboys (we know that from Brokeback folks, which pretty much had no dialogue she didn't write in the short story), and she does her research. My one caveat for the book is that at times it does read like a series of short stories. But don't let that deter you. She's a great short story writer.

The book hits close to home because its protagonist grew up in Denver, probably about the time I did from the references the book makes, and that's eerie. For someone who lives in Wyoming to paint a spot-on portrait of Colfax Ave is a bit unnerving. So for Proulx research means immersing yourself in the stories of the place. Wallowing in them until they transform into your own story, and then weaving those stories together into something larger, bigger, a full-scale image of a place. She's done that in this book, and so I recommend it to those with an interest in what makes miles of flatter than flat land interesting (and oh it's interesting), for those interested in global economic forces and how they affect the little guy, for those who crave a description of the best pineapple crumble you've ever heard of, and for those who might have some connection with Denver or West Texas.

The core of the book is about lying, I think. Maybe one of the core elements is about lying. That's more accurate. Lying in all its various guises, from the mild embellishing of a story through the politely accommodating an out-of-wedlock pregnancy on to flat out, bald faced lies. Lies about what we're doing, about who we are, about the truth that's happening around us. And Proulx separates lying, interestingly enough, from living your life honestly. It's not that she supports living a lie. Quite the opposite. It's that she sees how prevarication might get you someplace, allow you to tell a story or hear a story that's important. And then it might even nudge you out of that lie into a space of honesty. Very very cool.

Tech Time: Nike+iPod

Sorry for the relative lack of posts, gentle readers. Or, if you've been happy not to hear from me, sorry to break the silence. I'm happy to report that the Intro is done and there is now an official, completed, first draft of the book. I've printed it out and carried it home with me (proud of its heft) but haven't had the chance to give it a read owing to my being tasked to read Rebecca's MS first. (Isn't it delightful that task has become a verb, by the way? Most recent noun-to-verb, or intransitive-to transitive transformations are disastrous—e.g. 'grow', as in 'grow the economy'—but I feel differently about task. And, it shows up a lot in Alias. Worst. Show. Ever.)

I know that most readers out there won't really trust me when I praise an Apple product; they feel, rightly, that I have no objectivity on this topic. Fair enough. But let me preface this post by saying that I had no real interest in the 'Nike+iPod', a technology co-created by Apple and Nike. First, I don't run very much. Second, I'm not a big fan of Nike and don't really love their running shoes. Third, I don't see much need to know how far I've run, etc. etc. I only ordered the kit because I was purchasing a Digital TV Tuner for my Mac and I needed to spend 10 more quid to get the free shipping.

But yet, I now have to say: this is brilliantly done! You get a lot for your GBP 20 (or your USD 30), and it all works absolutely seamlessly. I have run more in the past 4 days than I usually do over a 3 week period, and the information it provides really is productive. First, it's motivational as you are running to have the lovely voice interrupt your tunes to tell you how far you've run, or how far you have to go to reach your goal, or what your time, pace, and distance are. Second, and better, it's very cool to upload all the data to iTunes and then on to Nike to see what you've done overall, including personal bests, etc.

Please note: you do NOT need the fancy Nike+ shoes. I'm using mine with my old NB 880s. You do, however, need an iPod Nano. No need to worry though: I have one for sale! :)