14 July 2006

let them eat scooby snacks

Happy Bastille Day!

To celebrate the anniversary of the start of the French Revolution, I'm going to take a walk and try to take some pictures of the giant green dogs up the river. Not to prove it to everyone else, but for my own piece of mind. It may be that I'm imagining the similarities. That the willows are just willows, and not giant green dogs. That without sweat streaming into my eyes as I run, this will be apparent.

But I'm hoping they're still there.

And no, it really doesn't have anything to do with Bastille Day.

13 July 2006

the gardenia tale

My father's devotion to my mother is a wonder to behold. Four times a year, he and I engage in overly-complex, clandestine gift-obtaining operations, desperate not to repeat ourselves. Valentine's, Mother's Day, Birthday & Christmas - the ritual is almost as important as the gift itself, whatever it may be. Sometimes he asks. Sometimes I ask. This is part of the subterfuge. Mom will tell us something simple, practical, or both. That will be my present, because it's usually the cheapest as well. Then we'll come up with something nicer or more extravagant and that will be from him, because he pays for it. Half the time it's my idea, half the time it's his. It works well. We're a good double act and all the secrecy lets us fulfill that yearning every guy has to be a secret agent.

This past Mother's Day, mom told dad she wanted a gardenia. Aside from the fact it was a plant, dad and I were pretty clueless. But we found a nice garden supply shop, ordered a couple and they went down a storm. Mom really liked them. She really liked the surreptitious surprise present as well, I'm sure. But the gardenias were lovely. Even I liked them. They smelled amazing. For 5 years I tasted & judged wines, mentioning 'heady floral notes' on the nose and now admit that until I'd smelled these gardenias, I knew naught of 'heady floral notes'. It was like Turkish Delight but without the sickly confection. Like smelling a real, ripe strawberry having only ever had McDonald's strawberry milkshakes beforehand.

I took special interest in these gardenias. They need quite a bit of attention and they don't like the cold. My only experiences with plants involved putting up Christmas trees and a couple of bonsai trees I was given when I was 11 or 12. Bonsais were the coolest plants ever in the late eighties. The shallowness of the decade allowed a tradition thousands of years old to be grasped as a fad by the ignorant. I was one of the ignorant. Too young to make a fashion statement with my dwarf trees, instead I used them as dramatic scenery when playing with my Star Wars and GI Joe toys. My mother refused to get one with a water feature, probably for the best. I didn't take good care of them and they died. They deserved better. So did the gardenias.

The hectic travel schedule at the beginning of the summer, combined with the drought and hosepipe ban, spelled their doom. One looked mummified, the vibrant green of the leaves replaced with terminal brown and grey, a single touch enough to bring the whole lot into an autumnal pile at the base of its pot. The other fared little better; some green remained but, like the lawn, it was mostly scorched, the healthy patches looking the aberration rather than the norm. They looked pathetic. Mom said one was beyond help and we considered chucking them both out.

I said no, I wanted to nurse them both back to health. So we pruned all the dead stuff off to salvage the healthy and let it grow. Pruning is a harsh art. Anything dead must go, even if the living still clings to it. What remains looks more dead than what you began with. The pathetic twigs breaking through the soil look like someone planted kindling. You've only got faith that whetever's left behind can grow back. It's optimism at its best, but most brutal.

Yesterday I found a half dozen tiny green bulbs emerging on those pathetic twigs.

Pruning my CV has been more difficult. Untended for over 3 years, dead leaves and dry twigs abound. High School education is no longer important when you're 30. Dead leaves & dry twigs, it must go, though fond, vibrant memories cling to it. University, the most defining years of my life, gets put to the bottom of the pot - it provided the growth but is no longer part of the foliage. It's fertiliser. First jobs, bartending and building, essential to nostalgia, their menial aspects badges of pride and proof of proper labour, are no longer relevant, memories of a decade ago - pruning shears at the ready. The agonies and tortures of terrible jobs must be snipped, leaving only the upsides and lessons learned to thrive unhindered. Things I felt defined me, as I was, lie at the bottom of the pot.

The twigs are all that's left.

But they're about to sprout.

12 July 2006


Didn't write anything today. I did tinker with my CV, to the extent that I stole a new layout for it and tried to work out why someone would hire me. I didn't get very far. Not because I couldn't think of a reason for someone to hire me. There are loads of great reasons to hire me. I just couldn't succinctly put them to paper. Which is, I suppose, a good reason not to hire me. And evidence that writer's block affects everything bar blog posts.

There's a big post coming. Not this one though. There will be flowers mentioned, but not pictured.

I didn't realise that lingering sniffles was my 300th post.

Listen to Robot Man by The Aliens.

I gave almost 50 pages to someone today. They had words on them and everything.

Sometimes you can't shout, scream, sob and rant in indignation, outrage, anger and sorrow. You want to. But you can't, because you can't understand what you'd be shouting about; it's not about you. And shouting, screaming, sobbing and ranting won't change that, and it won't make anything better. And all you want is for it to be better, or never have happened at all.


Flowers. Tomorrow. Big post. I'm going all horticultural.

And real writing. That you won't read til it's out in hardback at the beginning of next year. It'll be worth the wait though.

wall jellyfish

An upside-down DVD and a skylight, and all of the sudden I have a jellyfish on my wall.

11 July 2006

lingering sniffles

Colds are peculiar. The symptoms and suffering are rubbish - lots of snot, coughing, sneezing. Which granted, aren't pleasant to be around, but they're not life-threatening. My strategy for them has changed over the years. I used to ignore them in a manly way until they incapacitated me and I wound up sick for almost a month rather than a week. Not anymore. Now I indulge it, do as the doctors say: rest, plenty of fluids, all that sort of stuff. And it lasts about a week. Kind of. There's always a lingering sniffle, or cough. It can be so annoying that I forget how bad the cold was, and complain more about it than when I was actually sick. I felt too rubbish to complain when I was sick. Sometimes it lingers until the next cold.

I don't have a cold at the moment, and any lingering sniffles are nothing to do with viruses.

I do, however, have writer's block. It's been almost a week since I was productive on the book. The document is opened, pale behind the browser I type this on, and I'm very close to overcoming a large milestone both in story and in terms of nice, round numbers. But not much is coming. I'll type a sentence and delete it. I revert to my methods of dealing with colds.

The manly, ignore it and it will go away method - I stare at the page, nothing comes, so I move on. I'll check Boston.com for Red Sox news, quit Safari or Firefox, and then stare at the page some more. Wander into the house to grab a bottle of water from the fridge, linger in the kitchen, contemplate a snack, head back to the Belfry and almost try again, but then decide that updating the blog is almost as good, because that's writing too. I'll take yet more pointless pictures of the mess around my desk and delete them. I'll take a pointless picture of my new Red Sox hat. I'll check out movie news.

Recently, spider relocation has served as a great distraction. There is no end to the spider population in the Belfry. I've spoken of it before. It used to irk me. Not because I'm arachnophobic - I'm not - but because I was outnumbered. Every time I dusted their webs away, two more would pop up. Now I don't dust their homes away: I shuffle them or their web onto a piece of paper, carefully make my way down the spiral stairs , open the door, double check the spider is still on - or at least dangling from - the piece of paper and deposit it in the garden. While I do this, two more enter the house. But I don't mind. Whether this is due to newfound respect for them or just some impending nostalgia kick, my departure looming ever closer, is unclear. It doesn't matter. Dumping arachnids in the garden doesn't write my book.

It's clear this manly ignoring of my writer's block and just getting on with everything else doesn't work. Because I'm not writing. Some writers say to keep writing through it. I don't really know how that works. Maybe if I stare hard enough at the document, the words will come, like those hidden picture thingies. I never saw those pictures though, so maybe that's not the best tactic. Perhaps then, just one word at a time. I won't write any pages wittering away here, relocating spiders or checking on the Red Sox.

The lingering sniffles of bad grammar, punctuation and typos will be welcome after this. I won't complain, honest.


Inspired? Or merely someone with way too much time on their hands? I prefer the former.

10 July 2006

real chat

No inner nagging voices tonight - just a friend whose silliness compliments mine. Got some Messenger chat that drifted into the ridiculous, so I thought I'd share some of it. No context.

Richard says: (20:50:25)
well then - you're sorted. I'll buy you some cornicing

lish says: (20:50:56)
hee actually you can buy it can't you?

Richard says: (20:51:9)
yeah- i wouldn't though

lish says: (20:51:21)
why not?

Richard says: (20:51:46)
well... it's like buying a faux bidet or something... .what's the point

Richard says: (20:51:56)
maybe not a faux bidet... that would be disastrous

lish says: (20:52:4)
christ, what would that even DO?

lish says: (20:52:13)
shoot coffee into your nevermind?

Richard says: (20:52:31)
no one uses them anyway. It would be years before the ruse was discovered

lish says: (20:52:46)
the french do. and yet they smell. go figure

the best thing

I went to get a beer this evening and it turned out I left the Belfry fridge open last night. Terrible for the environment, terrible for electricity bills, terrible for the fridge and terrible for my beer, which is warm and covered in condensation. That's about the best thing that's happened to me today.

A friend of mine got a great job, and I am psyched for him. But that happened to him, and not me.

09 July 2006

masks, meat & mucky windows

Last night was a masked 40th birthday party for a couple who've been family friends for so long it's difficult to explain it all so I won't. It was held at an immense mansion straight out of Footballer's Wives, designed and decorated with about the same amount of taste. It wasn't their house.

I didn't bring my camera - bit of a shame as groovy photo op after groovy photo op presented itself. Perhaps it was for the best though, as one of the guests was flashing an incredible Leica, and my Canon would've felt somewhat gauche in such company. But forget about cameras. I used my phone to take a few shots, one of which was of a BBQ I must have. It's a spit roast BBQ. I discovered later that it didn't belong to the house, but was rented for the occasion. To own a spit roast BBQ you've got to have a lot of spit roasts. I still want one.

One of the trees that constantly batters the Belfry has now taken to depositing some sort of stuff on the skylight. Tree effluvium. Or something. I've gotten used to the noise now though. It no longer scares me at night, I no longer scream "who's there" at 3 in the morning. Instead I roll over, comforted at the trees' protection. The skylight's a mess though.


mucky window