April 30, 2008

Wednesday Whatevers

  • The bookshelves new kitty condo finally arrived today.

    This was the third time the unit was delivered, but due to a series of mispacking errors, not to be confused with Miss Pacman errors, the boxes had to be returned and delivery rescheduled. Twice. Grrrr.

    Anyway, bygones. I'm glad there here and I just need to get the books of the floor and onto the shelves. Of course, now I'm wondering if I should organize them (alphabetically? by genre? hardcover vs. paper? fiction vs. non?) or just put them on the damn shelves.

  • I got my first professional rejection today (writing-wise, that is — I got plenty of them when I used to audition), but it came with a semi-personalized note and, due to some statistics on Duotrope, I'm pretty sure it made it through at least the first round of the selection process. I've already resubmitted the piece to a different publication and my new goal is to acquire one hundred rejections over the next several months. And the only way to do that is to write more and submit more.

  • I wonder if wishing for rejections doesn't just piss right in the face of The Secret?. Oh well, you have to submit to get published, and odds are they'll be more rejections than acceptances, so there you have it. Write. Submit. Write.

  • Still haven't heard from the MA program, but I'm convincing myself that's good news (there must be a pony around here somewhere). They told me I'd know one way or t'other this week (and I know, the week's not over). The acceptance list was scheduled to go to the department secretary last Thursday night/Friday morning. I figure if I'm dinged it's a short "thank you for playing" letter and that would have already gone out. Mail usually gets here in a day and I've got bupkis. My rationale is the acceptance letters might need some packaging/processing/administration and could take longer to put together. That's my theory and I'm sticking with it, at least till Saturday morning.

  • Went for a run tonight after yet another torrential downpour. I'm thinking maybe we should've rented a houseboat rather than a new flat. Hyde Park is dead quiet at 8pm after a storm. Or maybe it's because the Chelsea/Liverpool game is on.

  • One shouldn't be able to see one's breath like it's the middle of winter during a run on April 30th. I know it's no use complaining about the weather, but I could really do with some sunshine and warmth.

  • I'm completely enjoying both of my students this week. One's an elementary-level mid-40s abrogado from Madrid who's helping my Spanish almost as much as I'm helping his English. The other is a 20-something beauty from Istanbul who is advanced and absolutely lovely. She came here for five days a few months ago and has stayed to become more fluent and hang out with her boyfriend who's at Cass. I thought she seemed a little bored with the lessons but booked another week because she "likes studying with me." Awwww.

April 29, 2008

Tuesday 200 — #79

Once in a while my twins will sing something unfamiliar. I'm never sure if they've made it up, heard it at school, or downloaded it. We try to monitor their Internet, but when it comes to gadgets, I’ll freely admit they outsmart us.

This morning they were be-bopping an unnervingly catchy refrain about a "monkey in my back.”

What was more bothersome? Nine-year-olds singing about addiction or misusing a preposition?

“I believe the phrase is monkey on my back.” I topped up their organic freshly-squeezed OJ. “Jeremy, are you wearing your sister's eyeliner?”

“It’s okay Daddy,” Jessie said, “he asked to borrow it.”

Before I could say that wasn’t my particular concern, Jessie informed me the lyric was about evolution, clearly stating the monkey was *in*, not *on*, Polly’s back.

“Who’s Polly?”

“Du-uh. Polly Sectual.” Jessie looked at me like I’d grown a gorilla head. “The singer for Fierce Chimera? The tranny metal band? They’re totally owning Bangkok Idol. I sent you their Facebook last week?”

“Polly Sectual?”

“It’s a stage name,” Jeremy confided. “Chick-dick rock RAWKS!”

This prompted a high five from his sister.

“Honey!” I called upstairs. “Can you come to breakfast?”

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.


April 28, 2008

A Mews-ing Myself with Questions

One of the things I'm finding charming about the new place is that, from the living room (or lounge as we like to call it over here) and the kitchen, we overlook a mews. Especially at night, it reminds me of the back lot of a film set, sorta like Rear Window. I used to say that about our place in New York also, but we were on the ninth floor and the townhouses behind us were only five stories high, so it was more Mary Poppins meets Rear Window.

This morning there's a bit of a hullabaloo outside, so I popped open the window to see what's going on.

One of the mews houses is undergoing a major refurb. Or something ...

*cue mysterious music*

There's usually a van parked outside of it during the day, and a couple of what appear to be worker-type men lolling about. Today there are three of them. There is a big container of dirt in the back of the van, and one of them is shoveling the dirt into plastic bags. The other two men are carrying the bags of dirt into the house. The three of them are each wearing hi-viz day-glo green safety vests with silvery reflective stripes. I don't understand why they need this visual precaution. It's not like there's tons of traffic whizzing down the bricked road.

What on earth could they be doing with the earth? Laying a new foundation perhaps? Or maybe encasing someone in a modern day Cask of Amontillado?

But if that's the case, then again I must wonder about the high-vis vests. Surely they wouldn't want to be seen. Aha, but that could be their alibi, couldn't it?

"If we were doing dodgy deeds, clearly we wouldn't call attention to ourselves?"

Surely Mr F in Austria didn't call so much attention to himself when he outfitted his cellar to keep his daughter and children/grandchildren stashed away. Secret panels that could only by opened with electronic keypads. My, that's very Bond James Bond for a "rural village," innit? Was Mr F an electrician? Did he hire an out-of-town electrician/plumber/carpenter to fix the place up while he sent his wife on a cruisee? He'd had to have, because a local tradesman couldn't be trusted to keep such a secret. We all know the truth about small towns -- everybody knows everybody's business. How did nobody in this town notice? How did he feed them? What did the local grocer think, that his family were a bunch of bulimic overeaters who bought twice as much as necessary but never gained weight?

There are more holes in this story than a gopher-infested golf course.

And, really, how could his wife not have known there were four people living below her? How could she believe that their "missing" daughter would just drop off her kids (three of whom she adopted)?

It reminds me of one of the first stories in Panos Karnezis' Little Infamies, where a man keeps his twin daughters locked in his cellar, raising them like animals as punishment for killing their mother during childbirth.

You read these fictions and think, that's surreal, it could never happen. And then the news story breaks.

All right then, that's enough speculating. I need to feed the old woman in the attic before I go teach.

April 26, 2008

Gadget Envy

I am so totally getting one of these.

April 24, 2008

And We're Waiting Again ...

I had my interview for one of the MA programs today. I think it went well. But you never know, do you?

On the plus side, the head of the program said she really liked the story I used for my writing sample. It's one that's not made the e-rounds as it's being shopping it out. She told me it was "eminently publishable" and reckons that will happen soon. Sweet.

Not to jinx things, but I submitted that same piece to a speculative fiction e-zine several weeks ago. According to statistics on Duotrope Digest it ranks among the Top 25 Most Challenging Short Fiction Markets. I'm now beyond the average wait time for rejection, and inching towards the average wait time for an acceptance. Either way I'm giddy because it will either be my first paid submission or my first official rejection.

On the negative side, ...

... it took her a while to realize we'd already talked, one-on-one, for about ninety minutes a few months ago. I gently reminded her and she came around after about five minutes.

On the it-could-go-either-way side, we had a fairly short (30 mins) talk in which she expressed concern about my commitment/ability to do something as long as a novel (but I seem to recall that was one of her standard concerns for short-story writers in general). We talked about process. We talked about some longer pieces I've done for NaNo. We talked about a storyline for the character I worked on at Arvon and she seemed to think I had some good ideas. Or maybe she was just nodding while taking notes saying "get this boy out of here."

She also asked me what I thought about the pros and cons of writing workshops. I said I really liked the interaction and the bouncing of ideas off of people you've grown to trust. Fresh eyes can give perspective to your work and can open up questions that the writer might have thought he'd already answered in the text. I think I scored points with that.

Then I got cocky and said what I don't like is when workshop leaders drone on and on about their way being the best way, or saying there are black and white rules for creating fiction (or any art). "If they're that good at what they do, then why are they running workshops and not publishing," I said. "Oh, did that sound bitchy?"

She laughed and said "no, that kind of nails it on the head." She believes there are no formulas to success, but lots of students seem to want a list of rules. Fortunately, she has been published has only been doing this program for a few years. She also works at the BBC (for a department that helps create materials I use a lot in my ESL work ... so that was a nice little sideline conversation as well).

So, long story longer, today was her last day of interviews and she's handing her list of candidates for the Fall 2008 program to the secretary tomorrow. I should know next week. I feel good about it, but I'm not entirely confident.

I do know that I really want in, and am even excited at the prospect of having to read/critique of 15-20 novels during the first two 10-week terms of the course, along with weekly creative assignments and beginning work on the book. That's like a novel a week. I'll never get through all of Shameless and Buffy at that rate.

That said, I'll have to begin reading a bit more carefully. I was half-way through the first story in Miranda July's "No one belongs here more than you" this afternoon before I realized it was called "The Shared Patio". I had initially read it as "The Shared Potato", which I expect would have been a different story altogether.

The story, by the way, is absolutely lovely. I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection. Almost as much as I'm looking forward to the postman's visit next week.

April 23, 2008

The People One Sees

I walked to the grocery store about an hour and a half ago: partly because it was really nice out and it's only about seven minutes away, partly because I needed soda water for a vodka/soda, and partly because I didn't feel like eating left-over chicken and rice from last night's post-run feast.

I've been home for more than an hour, have enjoyed an unexpected Diet Coke (buy one 6-pack, get one free) and can't be arsed to cook up the delicious cous cous fixin's* I bought (cous cous, three colors of bell peppers, spring onions, etc). And I'm really not keen on the vodka/soda anymore.

So what was the point of this post ... oh, yes, right. The people on the check-out lines. One guy had a trolley full of toilet paper. Five 20-packs stacked on top of each other. Either he's planning on some really nasty curry, has a wicked case of amoebas (Flagyl is the worst, trust me), or he works for one of the hotels on Sussex Gardens and their paper goods shipment didn't come in.

The guy ahead of me had very simple dietary needs. One litre of cheap vodka, a 1.75-litre bottle of Dr Pepper, and two Mars bars. I was nearly tempted to offer him one of my peppers (the red one would have complemented his blotchy complexion quite nicely), because one needs a veggie every now and again, eh? Memo to self -- Dr Pepper is clearly not a dermatologist.

And then there was the lady who got off the bus as I was walking home. She had on a mini-skirt-length slicker (black with huge white polka dots), a matching it-girl (slick-girl?) hat from the 60s, stockings that looked like multi-colored tattoos and calf-high go-go boots (in some kind of strange brown pattern) that I think came from the Neptune branch of Primark.

I almost invited her over for some vodka, because she was fantabulous ... in a semi-scary intergallactic supermodel sort of way.

In fact, now that I think of it, it just might be time for this flat's/season's first vodka (never the cheap stuff) and soda (bargain brand, 3 for £1 -- it's all about the balance). And then maybe some left-over chicken and rice.

Spring has sprung and I'm living on the edge.

:: :: ::

Addendum ... ten minutes later

How can this be? There is no vodka in the house?!?!? The horror. This is unheard of. Bottles of nearly every spirit known to mankind (for the guests, of course) and yet nary of drop of potato-elixir for me. I know, I know, it was just a quarter-ago that I was typing I didn't really want a glass of what used to be my life's blood. But now that there's none to be had, I'm really hankering for a cocktail.

Hmmm, which block in the new hood harbors a liquor store? Shouldn't take long to find out, and the weather is still pleasant, if not a little darker.

:: :: ::

Addendum the second, fifteen minutes later ...

Thresher's is only a five-minute stroll away, and they're open till 10 pm on weeknights. They have no Ketel One or Grey Goose, but there is Absolut, in adorably wee 700ml bottles. I refrained from buying two. My world is at stasis again.

Carry on with your evening.


April 22, 2008

Tuesday 200 — #78

Every so often, an old tryst would wander the hallways of Nathan’s memory.

Macon was his favorite. A tough-as-nails biker from New Orleans — terrifying tattoos hiding a heart of gold. Protective of his friends, perhaps to a fault.

Viktor … the Russian boxer. Charming when he wasn’t snorting vodka. No telling what would happen if Viktor was around. Waking up in central lockup should’ve been a clue to cut that cord. Where was Macon when you needed him?

Laurie, the teen-aged wiccan. Scared to death of Viktor, she fucked him anyway. When the boys discovered her poems, it started again. Scarlet sets of parallel lines across her inner thighs. If only AJ hadn’t found out.

Ah, AJ … the compassion of Atticus Finch, the cruelty of Addison DeWitt. He told them Laurie was cutting. “For her own good,” AJ promised when they took her away.

Near the precipice of sleep, Nathan glimpsed the bit players from a nearly-forgotten movie: Violet and her opera; valium-addled Donald; transgendered Alison, who channeled Mata Hari.

Codependent no more, Nathan simply acknowledged their presence and waved them on.

Whatever he did, he didn’t tell Dr. Jenkins.

Four hundred volts hurt like hell.

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last time's Tuesday 200.


April 20, 2008

Running from the Boxes

Life is not all about organizing closets, unpacking boxes, building flat-pack storage cabinets (the proofreader for Heal's DIY could stand a couple days in a quality control workshop), and waiting on a bookshelf delivery so one can get rid of the rest of the cardboard.

Oh no. Avenue Q speaks sings the truth: "There is life outside your apartment."

Today I ventured out for a long overdue run. Now that we're official "westies", we jogged out towards Holland Park, Kensington and into Shepherd's Bush ... and back. A lovely 6-mile tour.

I think I've figured out the post code system ... the bigger the number after the W, the more white the neighborhood is.

So now that I've burned up all those calories and got my endolphins swimming around, I think it's time to find a good Sunday roast and watch the parade on Old Compton Street. It's very nearly Spring outside!

We don't want to let go of too much tradition even though we're now on the other side of Edgeware Road.

April 13, 2008

Listen Up

The DeCongested folk have posted podcasts of some of the readings from last weekend's Short Story Festival.

If you want, you can hear me reading my contribution, "Table for Wonder," here (there's some f-bombs, so it's PNSFW). Too bad the audience wasn't miked, the laughs were much louder in real life. The text is here.

In other news, I did not run the marathon today (although I registered online for 2009, which if I get turned down, I'm automatically in for 2010) , but had a marathon day of sofa napping.

Sky technicians are coming to sort out the signal problems tomorrow (£65 for the visit). BT technicians are coming a week from Monday to sort out an internal line switch that's going to cost £128 (because "we turn on the line that's convenient for us, not what's convenient for the customer" ... yes, that's what the 3rd lady I spoke with told me ... don't get me started). Bathroom storage is getting delivered on Friday and we've decided on bookshelves, so I have to go order those this week, and then probably wait awhile for delivery.

So that will be four afternoons (anytime between 1-6pm) when I won't be out and about. See, it is a good thing school's been a little slow and I don't have afternoon classes. So I'm spending money while not earning it. Nice. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy moving?

And we move on.

April 11, 2008

Feeling Flat in the New Flat

Welcome to morning number two at the new place.

I came back here from work yesterday afternoon and I can't stop pacing. Me and the cats, aimlessly walking around, in and out of rooms, plopping down on a chair or a bed, getting up and wandering around some more. Not that there's miles of space to pace in (okay, it's not that small, it's just boxy ... a series of rooms off a hallway with a living room/dining room and a smallish kitchen off of that), it's just that I don't feel a sense of flow. The building was gutted and refurbed a few years ago, so there are chain-closing fire doors everywhere ... a bane of modern London architecture that, while appealing to health and safety, seems to block chi like Prozac quelling a good mood swing.*

I'm guess I'm just not comfortable with the energy here yet, it seems very static ... if that makes any sense.

I remember an immediate sense of "home" when we moved into B2. I don't feel that here. Despite having all our things (some books and shit still in boxes** as we need to find some shelving/storage furniture to replace the built-in bookcases we left behind) here, it doesn't feel like home. I feel like I'm in a lovely, sterile, corporate apartment. A clean, fresh, smart but characterless slightly bigger than boutique-hotel suite.

This too shall pass. I'll settle in. I'll listen to people tell me "it takes time" and "don't stress" and I'll know they mean well and that they have valid points, but still, I can't help feeling what I feel, right? It's just where I am. A little stressed. Feeling displaced and unsettled, floating around in a lack of permanence and a sense of discombobulation.

La la la.

Interesting. The character I worked on at Arvon is someone who's been wandering around, trying to remain detached while seeking enlightenment, and ultimately needs to figure out what he's running away from. I wonder if I'm manifesting some of that into my own psyche (or vice versa). Maybe all the journaling and introspection I'm doing might find a place in a story somewhere. Or maybe I'll get sectioned.

I hope I don't become one of "those" writers who lives and breathes his characters. Reminds me of the method actors I used to work with.

There is nothing so annoying as a method actor.

So here I am. Trying to figure out what we need to do/buy make this place more livable. Is there going to be a balance between the money/energy/time we spend to do that vs. the money we've saved by downsizing from B2? Because really, how long are we going to be in this place? I could have stayed in B2 forever a very long time. With this place, I'm not feeling the love just yet. But I will. Or maybe I won't. Maybe we'll just be friends.

And I reckon I'll get over this feeling like we've moved backwards.

Blah blah blah. The kitchen needs to be more functional. I can't get the dishwasher to work, the freezer and stove are doll-house sized, I already miss my ice maker, and there's hardly any cupboard space. The books need to go somewhere or I need to get rid of them. I hate getting rid of books. The bathrooms have no shelves, no storage space and no room for linens. There's no outdoor space. I already miss seeing the trees in the square across the street. I can almost touch the ceilings.

On the other hand, there are many good things. It's a gas stove. I love that. The shower pressure rocks compared to B2 (not like 88th Street — that was steaming hot hydro-exfoliation every morning). The master bath is very modern and has a separate tub and shower and is actually quite lovely (in a minimalist, brown and tan faux-marble ... ugh ... sort of way), and we'll find some storage units to keep things in.

The room I'm going to use as an office/writing room will be quite lovely, once I get all the shit out of it and organized. Again ... we need more shelving. Which is, of course, ultimately doable. It's all ultimately doable.

There's lots of counter space in the very bright, if not mildly claustrophobic, kitchen. So I just need to find canisters/spice racks to store cooking stuff rather then chuck it away in a disorganized cupboard. So what if there aren't any kitchen drawers? They just collect junk anyway.

Alright then. I'll unpack another box and wait for my dishwasher tutorial ... property manager should be here soon, then I have to go to school in a couple hours. Work was slow this week, so I had time to try and get a little settled ... jeez, just think what a wreck I'd be if I'd actually had to put in a full week.

And yet another thing to be grateful for. Ohm.

So thanks for indulging the whinge if you've gotten this far. This is probably one of those posts best left in a journal, but what the hey. It's the only thing I can think of writing this morning.

I'm fine, really. And when you come to the housewarming, you'll probably smack me. It's really a perfectly livable, cozy flat, in a better-than-average location, and things could be so much more uncomfortable.

Ohm. Ohm fucking shanti ohm.

* And yes, speaking of mood swings, I know I was very pleased on Wednesday night. Things went better than expected and now I'm back in the reality of it just doesn't feel like home yet. Livable, yes. Homey? Not so much. Bob being manic? We'll leave that to the trained professionals.

** I know. I know!!! It's only been a day and a half. I'm impatient. Sue me.

April 9, 2008

And I Was Worried about What?

One has to wonder.

If I hadn't gotten myself so stressed about this move, would I be so content tonight? I'm sitting in a room full of not-as-many-boxes as I thought would be here, pleased that all the bedroom furniture fits into the new master bedroom much more perfectly than either of us expected, and I have broadband and Sky.


I'd say that we're 75-80% settled in There's still some organizing to do, some glitches to work through, a few boxes to still unpack, and some storage units to purchase. But the place is totally livable right now ... less than twelve hours after the first box came up the stairs.

The day's congratulations have to go to A Gentleman & a Van — actually, six lovely gentlemen and three vans. I owe my sanity (and maybe a few fantasies) to James, Jonti, Charlie, Dieter, Louis and Milo. They were professional, efficient, friendly, funny, helpful, more than easy on the eye, and ever so kind. What a pleasure to work with people who seem to enjoy doing what they're paid to, especially when it's (at least to me) really crappy work. They went above and beyond the call of duty, and it was an absolute delight to spend the day with them.

They would have unpacked and put away even more, but there's a definite lack of bookshelf and storage space compared to B2, so there was no reason to unpack the rest. They're totally invited to the housewarming. I wonder if any of them tend bar?

You know who else was kind of brilliant today? Gypsy and Cab. The trip over wasn't their most pleasant of moments, it's always a bit of drama getting them into a carrier and out into the real world. But I got them here without so much as a scratch, and they've already shown signs of adapting quite well (or maybe it's just relocation resignation). God bless the Feliway. Or maybe they were just thrilled to not end up in an airplane cargo hold once they got into the cat carrier. I kept telling them, it's only a half-mile away, it's not Meowschwitz.

So we're in. And I'm in a much better head than I was the past few days. I might even get some sleep tonight. Maybe it's the Feliway.

Let's see how long it lasts.

April 8, 2008

Tuesday 200 — #77

Parker was trained to be practical. Hence his dumbfounded dismay upon establishing himself enamoured with Overnight Guest. Backhanding away a burgeoning tear, he murmured something about hay fever, noted the lad’s number and perfunctorily promised “we’ll be in touch.”

It wasn’t the first friend he’d found while Husband traveled. But there were rules to be followed, for practicality’s sake, such as crossing one’s fingers during the “we’ll be in touch.”

What compelled Parker and OG to harbor hopes with each other? Why did Parker share secret lyrics he’d written, a hobby which Husband decreed simply impractical more than a decade ago.

“Emo for homos,” OG giggled. “It’s queemo.” He blanketed himself around Parker, who sensed it not practical to feel nineteen again.

And yet.

So unpractical, breaking his cross-fingered unpromise and staying in touch — emails, sheet music, stanzas from his soul. OG grew attached. Parker reverted to practicality, blanking the blanket till he disappeared.

Several weeks later Husband came home early, holding a stack of mail and asking “Who’s Hugh?”

Parker practically pooped his Prada pants. OG’s real name. “Who?”

“Some stooge sent these shitty songs with a note saying since you were ignoring him, perhaps I could help.”

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.



Just a few hours ago I was lying back, my feet propped up on pillows, enjoying a nice hot cup of sugary tea.

I didn't see it coming till it was too late. I know I've been feeling really stressed, what with the move and whatnot, and I thought I was handling it alright. I'm usually so much better at this change management thing.

After dinner last night, I was staring up at the ceiling, thinking about original crown molding and high ceilings and I must have looked melancholy becasue Larry said, "You know, we always knew we wouldn't be here forever ... "

"Just stop," I interrupted him, probably more snappish than I meant to be. "I know all that, I've been telling it to myself for weeks. I'm just feeling sad. It feels like an ending and I'm not good with endings. It will pass. I promise."

He didn't really know what to do with that, so he went to bed. It always amazes me when people can totally compartmentalize and then go right to sleep. That's a habit I need to learn in my next life.

So, naturally, I couldn't sleep at all. Fresh out of Ambien, I sat up in the living room (last night of having it all there and all), did my annual reading of "A Small Good Thing", had a bit of a cathartic cry, and put on a meditation tape. I tossed and turned on the sofa, listening to birds chirp and sleepers snore.

The packers came this morning and despite their South African accents and beefy builds, I'm not in the mood to watch them box up my life. So I decided to make use of my free mornign and waltz over to the surgery for my routine bloodwork, and maybe ask for a Xanax or twelve to get me through the week.

I didn't eat anything because of the cholesterol test. I had drunk a few cups of coffee.

I know better than this.

I've been having blood taken regularly since I was eleven years old, when I was mis-diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It's usually no big deal, I just can't look at the needle going in or the blood coming out.

About the time the nurse, a wee African man about half my size, plopped on third vaccuum tube, I started feeling a little light headed, and started taking very slow, long, deep breaths.

"Are you alright?" he asked.

"Just feeling a little woozy, it'll pass."

Another vaccuum tube goes on and the room starts getting fuzzy.

"Sorry, I think I'm going to feint."

I remember him opening the door and asking for help. I remember the sweetest blonde woman coming in and holding my other side. I remember asking if I could lie down and if they could take the needle out.

And then I think I went back to Scotland. I was talking to some of my Arvon friends for a bit and and then I remember waking up.

"And I'm back," I whispered. "Did I say anything stupid?"

She promised me I didn't, but would be happy to make something up if I wanted. I'm told I was only gone for a couple of seconds.

They moved me to a cot, gave me oxygen, hooked up a blood pressure and pulse machine to my arm and finger, took a blood sugar test, and ask if I wanted a cup of tea.

"How do you feel?" the nurse asked me, after assuring his boss that my vitals were fine.

"Totally embarrassed."

They assured me it was nothing to worry about.

So that was a couple hours ago. I've since had lunch and could really use a nap, but there's English to be taught.

I still feel a bit squiffy. And even more so, I feel like a right twat.

April 7, 2008

It's Gonna Be the Best Week Ever!

I hate moving.

I don't mind change so much, but I hate moving.

Got the keys for the new place today. It looks smaller than I remember, which makes me a little angstier than I wanted to be already am. I can't remember ... do rooms look smaller furnished or unfurnished? Someone tell me they look smaller when they're empty. Go on. Lie to me if you have to.

Oh well, whatever doesn't fit doesn't fit. It's all about detachment, right? Ohm. And then we buy new stuff.

Speaking of detachment, I would very much like to detach the dandruff-covered head of the little man behind the Post Office Window #5 from his body. After queuing for half and hour, he looked at my change of address forms for about ten minutes before decreeing that a Citigroup/Smith Barney investment account statement would not work as proof of my previous address and that I had to bring in a UK bank statement, with sort code and account number.

"Why do you need my bank details in order to forward my mail?" I thought it was a fair question.

He mumbled something about making a reference in case there were any problems and I told him to take the investment account number, but he wasn't comfortable doing that. And pointed out that the form says I needed to bring a bank account statement.

And apparently, although this was not stated on the form, it has to be a UK onshore bank account, the offshore one I had was no good.

Ah, the bureaucracy of civil service. Apparently, if I didn't have a regular checking account, my mail cannot be redirected. So I now I need to unbox my paperwork and go queue up again. Cheers.

We packed up tomorrow and moved into the new place on Wednesday. I want this week to be over before it's even begun. And I'm totally not ready for the BT / Sky services to be changed. The broadband was a friggin' nightmare last time.

La la la. I've gotten really spoiled living in B2 ... I'm missing it already.

*Sighs sadly * and breathes through the angst.

Did I mention I hate moving?

April 6, 2008

Success Stories

Yesterday's Short Story Festival was a big hit, methinks. Congratulations to Rebekah and Paul for putting together such a strong collection of work. There were authors and publishers from all over the UK (as well as the US and Europe) reading from and talking about short stories. Very inspiring, and I've found some new markets to shop out to.

And, since this event had been sponsored by Get London Reading, I'm told there were many more submissions than normal for the Tales of the DeCongested section of the program. So I'm extra pleased that my "Table for Wonder" made the cut. Yay me. The reading went well, I got some hearty laughs (and not just because my fly was undone), and some truly lovely feedback. Too bad you weren't there.

But wait! You might just be able to turn back time. The readings were all recorded, so I think that the stories will soon be available as podcasts over at here. I'll keep you posted.

And in other exciting news, my favorite little show that could has some really big news.
I saw [title of show] a year and a half ago and wrote about it here.

Since then, they've created a little video mini-series, which is very clever and very funny. The latest installment brought a wee tear to my eye this morning.

Good on them, and there's no better reason to book your tickets to New York now.

April 4, 2008


So we're moving on Wednesday. I haven't even thought about organizing anything in B2. So much crap needs to be thrown away and I just keep putting it off. The movers come Tuesday to pack us, and after only five more sleeps here, we're in new digs.

I'm not sure I even remember what the new place looks like.

I'm starting to freak a little, but I know everything will be fine ... it always is.

I'm at the short story festival all day tomorrow and my mind is in a thousand different places, most of them Scottish.

I need to come back to reality.

My new student (29-year-old Iranian MD) wrote me an essay about the relativity of values and how one's sense of right and wrong can depend on external factors. Like being in a shelter in Tehran when you're 9 years old and the Iraqis are bombing you and you don't understand how nice people (the neighbors and family you go to church with) can wish other people (the neighbors in the bomb shelter down the road) dead, because they want their own lives to be spared.

It's all about perspective, innit?

My problems are so insignificant, and yet, they're mine I suppose.

Isn't there a bottle of Adderall around here somewhere?

And then Mary Chapin Carpenter comes on and reminds me (and he will so appreciate this) "to show a little inspiration, show a a little spark."

Better living through middle-aged country-western emo.

Everything we got, we got the hard way.

Right. Moving on ahead then.

April 3, 2008

Please Mr Postman

I've been waiting for a piece of mail for a few days and it arrived today. The whole thing's kind of had me on pins and needles, bouncing off the walls even. Like waiting for the results of an HIV test ... just tell me already so I can deal with the news and move on.

Dear Robert,


Thank you for applying for a place on the above course. You have passed the first stage in the selection process and we would now like to invite you for an interview ...

Trouble is, the letter's dated 1 April 2008.

Very funny indeed.

April 2, 2008

A Wee Scottish in Me

Making SMS plans to meet up with the Floridian traveler

Me: See you at the bar at 1815

Him: Mine's a port and lemon

Me: Boak

That's a new word I learned this week. As is numpty. Which I'm still not buying as a term of endearment.


April 1, 2008

Tuesday 200 — #76

I’m tempted to say it’s not the first time Ryan’s been in a sling, but rehashing a dying man’s backroom predilections probably isn’t the best of taste.

“How ‘bout we put you into that?” I ask Paulo, the feisty Brazilian nurse, who in better times would have found himself in our bed.

“No today, papi.” He secures the fastenings of what he’d dubbed ‘The Hoist’. “Going up,” he says, starting the machine that lifts Ryan out of his hospice bed.

“First floor, haberdashery,” Paulo says, easing Ryan up and over towards the wheelchair, an overgrown baby hanging from the beak of a stork. His robe’s draped across his shoulders, sleeves hanging down like an angel’s broken wings.

Ryan grimaces. I can’t tell why. Pain? Embarrassment? Resignation?

“You okay, baby?” His eyes are clamped shut. Maybe he thinks if he can’t see us, then we can’t see him.

The virus has wormed its way through his mind and body. I hate it, but can’t help staring, like Lear’s fool watching the mad king’s final descent.

“Going down,” Paulo says, guiding Ryan into the chair.

“You wish,” Ryan whispers, a quiet reminder the man I’ll always love lingers inside the withering frame.

:: :: ::

What's a Tuesday 200?

Last week's Tuesday 200.


Tall Boy Reads Short Story

decongested.jpg The good folk at Tales of the DeCongested, in conjunction with Apis Books, are running a Short Story Festival this weekend at Foyles on Charing Cross Road. This is part of Get London Reading 2008.

The day is chock-full of exciting events, including a readings, panel discussions and a writing workshop. It ends with a collection of short shorts, one of which — a little ditty called "Table for Wonder" — has been scribbled (and will be read) by me.

I read this piece last week at Arvon and it went over well, so come hear it on Saturday if you can. It just might even make you laugh. And if it doesn't, then we'll just chalk that last sentence up to April Fools.

But it is sorta funny. Maybe. Well, maybe not if you're a Wagamama fan.