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Tuesday, 2 December 2003


Pretentious Blog
v. tr.
To rid of impurities; cleanse.
To rid of foreign or objectionable elements.
To free from sin, guilt, or other defilement.
v. intr.
To become clean or pure.

I was studying an Indian poem today, and began to think about guilt and redemption. Our modern assumption is that life is meant to be happy, conscience-free, fun.
The older attitude differs: trouble is good for the soul.
Began to wonder: if you suffer for the sins of a previous life, how does that suffering assist you in this one?

To absolve, atone, chasten, clarify, cleanse, decontaminate, disinfect, exculpate, exonerate, expiate, purge, redeem, refine, sanctify, sanitise, shrive, sublimate, wash.

Some cultures purify with a flame. We do still sterilise a needle in fire today. Others purge the soul of impurities and infection through medicine. Superstitions are culturally learned, but no less fruitful in redeeming your sense of worth - you can cauterise your woes with alcohol or drugs, or with socialising, with words. The modern world tends to medicate every psychological problem. You can't sleep, take a pill; you can't laugh, take a pill. Laugh too much? A pill will repress the urge. It's a solution, I suppose. Older rituals use religion to purify. Religion gives us routine, reassurance; it implies forgiveness. All the same functions of a psychiatrist, with none of the indignity or fees. I read somewhere recently some zen saying that depression is the process your mind uses to prepare itself for change.

So, we sacrifice, we scarify (see Creepy Lesbo's regular scarification rituals for more intense details), we offer ourselves up for examination. We hope that what we do will help us to change.

Ordinary Blog
I've been using sleep and drugs and music to purify myself of what's been happening lately. 'Drugs' is a misnomer, I've been avoiding them in order to change, by refusing alcohol. It only took two weeks not to want it any night but Saturday, so that was both easier and harder than I expected. When Wickedex came over on Sunday, I think I surprised her with the sleeping. I sleep almost all the time. If I go to bed late, I stay in bed the whole next day. While she was here, I was visibly losing conscious ability to speak, and at one point had to go and lie still for thirty minutes. Yesterday I got home at seven o'clock, and went straight to bed for twelve hours to make up for having had to get back out of bed at all the day before.
Must have made an impression - she cleared up the kitchen for me while she waited. I hope she saw how much life still in the flat we shared so is not fun.
I dunno what the reason for the sleep is - I hope, after a month of 2-3 hours sleep nightly, that it's purifying.
Then there's music. Driving Wickedex through shitty streets, looking for shitty ex-council flats to buy once this one is sold, she asked why I was playing Norah Jones on the CD player. Surprised that I liked it. Hadn't heard me listen to that CD before.
I don't like it. When I was depressed, I used to listen to the same pieces of music, over and over and over again, hoping repetition would numb the emotions they instigated. Like pressing against a sore tooth with your tongue, or picking at a scab. Each relationship I had has a piece of music (or ten) that seems to encapsulate the 'mourning' period - music I listened to obsessively, even though it made me cry too much. All night if necessary.
Now I sleep, and I'm not in that depression any more; I can see that This Is a Stupid Thing to Do.
Now, I listen only to music I don't like. I'm sick of having my favourite music ruined by bad memories. Of having pieces I can only listen to if I'm not feeling down. It doesn't purify the sentiment - it contaminates the medicine and spoils the source.
I can listen to Norah bloody Jones droning out her toneless sub-cowboy rich bratty drivel for hours and hours and hours. When I don't feel bad any longer, when the memories subside, I won't have a single regret about smashing and melting down that fucking CD.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:32 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 2 December 2003 10:14 PM GMT
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Monday, 1 December 2003

Weapons of Mass Destruction (found!)

via Alfred

Safeway carrier bag
Too-tired child in restaurant whose parents just stuffed him with sugary crap
Shopping trolley with dodgy wheel
Cup of coffee when on the move and trying to unlock a door
That fat caribbean woman in the big winter coat who stands blocking random doorways across the length and breadth of London
Someone advancing towards you with a rota
An immobile ginger spider with hidden legs that suddenly moves at 4am
Large rich turkey dinners in polite (ie, no farting) company
The laughing-too-loud unknown guest at the leaving ceremony, whom no-one can recall inviting
The bosses' piranha smile
Sunday broadsheet newspaper, with 42 pull-out sections of adverts, and only two articles
The foreign log in your loo that won't flush
IKEA on a Sunday
The cold stone floor on your instep first thing in the morning
The old duffer at work who's been there a decade too long and has gone utterly mad, but who hasn't realised it yet (they took my stapler, they moved my desk, I could burn down the building)
Dave's super-strong arse-clenching coffee
The phrase "could you just...?"
Any sharp object at knee height
People who settle down on the bog to telephone you, complete with sound effects
Naughty cat with a grudge about kitty litter provision
That bloody bottle of wine still in the fridge
Freezing biting British winters

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:40 PM GMT
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Sunday, 30 November 2003

That Which Should Not Be

I caught it stretching at 4am this morning.

Wickedex came over, and after some coercion, she agreed to go into the hall and smite the spider.

Where the chimping hell had it hidden those legs?
See the size of its teeth?

She left it playing amongst the wet russet leaves in the yard. She went out there barefoot. Madness.
I know it'll be back. See how one leg is reaching for me?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:23 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 30 November 2003 8:30 PM GMT
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Saturday, 29 November 2003

Buy Silly Things

It's Buy Nothing day today.
I really wanted to make my stand against the consumerism bukkake* that is Crissmuss, but I woke this morning with the devil dancing across my forehead, and forgot the damn thing. #442.90 pence.

So far today, in reverse order, I've guiltily bought:

A sugary feast: a litre of Vanilla Coke, 8 packets of crisps, a 12 pack of chocolate bars, a chocolate cheesecake, and a box of Belgian chocolates. If I'm not going to drink to excess, I'm damn well going to overdo it in whatever other arena I can. The come-down alone was worth it. Cat food, washing powder and AA batteries, too, because I'm a boring practical bastard ............ #15.00
35 gallons of diesel fuel at the Jet garage in Leyton. No nibblies! How self-abnegating of me ....... #40.00
Two video tapes (and yet more Blockbuster's overdue fines) to watch at Duch's house, to put her off from making coal fires and telling me where to buy a flat .......... #8.00
Two tickets to see Mourning Becomes Electra, a four hour shocker of a Freudian re-write of Euripides' Oresteia, at the National Theatre, despite having no idea whether jatb can make that date or not, and for the superficially acceptable reason that it's had amazing reviews, but the real underlying reason that it's all sexual frustration and Helen Mirren's cleavage .............. #68.00
A car insurance policy, after I defaulted payment on two policies, simultaneously, in the last week. I dunno how anyone can fuck up their finances as thoroughly as I can. I only need one - why did I have two? And it's illegal to even park the damn car without any, so given I was double-covered, how the hell could I forget to pay either of them? ......... #220.00
A copy of the Grauniad, after the local radio station told me how disgusting it was that they publicised magic mushroom shops on their front page, and which I donated to the over-hyped fashionable cafe I read it in .......... #1.10
Two fried eggs on toast with bacon, a coffee, and a squeezily squeezed orange juice in a trendy Isle of Dogs converted church cafe, where people sip cappucinos, wear their metrosexual weekend casualwear, work on their novels, smoke a lot, and eye each other up .........#7.00
A new central locking system, door repair, and brake light for the car that gets broken into four times a month ........ #80.00
A number 369 bus ticket from Barking to Creekmouth in Dagenham, from a flirty but aged bus driver ....... #0.70pee
A takeaway americano coffee from the Barking station Costa Coffee concession, where the nice old French lady who serves me is beginning to treat me like a local, but who hasn't yet noticed that I can tell when she mutters in French to the coffee machine monkey that the other customers are bitches ....... #1.40
A tube ticket to Barking, from an overcrowded machine, which made me drop all my coins (well, okay, it didn't make me - not unless the thing is possessed, which it might well be) at 1.71 Kilometre End tube station, where I waved at Kat, who was busy working the bothersome fools / public who stalk the barriers, and shivered at the big yellow police sign informing you it's a 'Local Crime Hotspot' (think I don't know that? Tonight's Mastermind Contestant: Bethnal Green Nick; Specialist Subject: Stating the Bleedin Obvious. Stop commissioning stupid yellow signs that some Hoxton pillock will one day make into Art, and go catch the fuckers who keep burgling my car, willya?) ............ #1.70
Things I haven't Bought:
A house
Any proper food

[*tm Bitter Little Man]

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:29 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 30 November 2003 2:46 AM GMT
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Friday, 28 November 2003


No, not the movie by Cronenberg (tagline: 'the only thing worse than losing your mind is finding it again').

It's this thing, which was lifeless on the ceiling of my hallway for five months. I made sure it was dead, by poking a cat up towards the ceiling, on the end of a pole, and shouting "eat it! eat the spider!"
The cat meowed, as if to say "touch me again and I'll rip your fucking face open", so I assumed there was no nutritional value left within the insect's mildewed husk.

Until.... one day last week, I glanced up to see it suspended eight inches down on a thread. I thought it had slipped the surly bonds of its mortal coil, and was hanging by a weakly tessellated arse thread (hair takes longer to decay, dunnit?), but the next day it was back in its death-spot eight feet up, on the ceiling.
Now it descends only when I have a really bad, dark day. I get to the top of the stairs, shoot a haunted look upwards, mutter "the fuck you did", and shuffle past. But what is it?


What is it?

Where did the other legs go?

Is it dead?

Why is it collecting ginger hairs?

Why has it moved twice in seven months?

Will the ginger hairs allow it to regenerate?

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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
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This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:52 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 29 November 2003 7:23 PM GMT
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Thursday, 27 November 2003

A Year Ago

Now Playing: noisy neighbours

Yes, but I've become increasingly belligerent since giving up drinking. I started this week (my second week of abstemiousness) in the right spirit by emailing Looby "an you can fuck off an all", which was less than polite. Tonight I got home from Dagenham (had to take the car to be repaired after its fourth burglary in a month) - (clue to would-be burglars - first steal the car, THEN fiddle with the odometer. Trying to rig the mileage before you get the steering wheel lock off is silly) to find a relatively reasonable email from the Wickedex asking about potential buyers viewing the flat. The time she chose coincided with the next journey to Dagenham (it's made two hours longer each time by the witlessness of always picking the wrong train and ending up in Upminster without a ticket), so I replied with an ill-advised un-proofed torrent of invective about how my life is rubbish and it's all her fault. Still...
So, to cheer myself up before I open the letter from the car insurers (that I know is about defaulting on the payments), I thought I'd look back at the calendar, which passed its year mark this autumn.

A year ago today, I was on strike. I recall watching Quincy and drinking coffee a lot. No picketing, because I disagreed politically with the strike, I was simply too lazy to not strike. My ears were probably still buzzing and slightly dulled after my first big stadium concert - the Foo Fighters at Wembley Arena, with a mate. (Wickedex had commented that I might as well start listening to Iron Maiden and refused to come.) The concert itself was technically, musically quite blah, as you could barely see the band. But the moral weight of a really large crowd simultaneously foot-stamping and chanting was scarythrilling, in the same way as that moment that the undercarriage lifts from the tarmac when a plane takes off, the plane banks steeply upwards, and you feel slightly pressed against your seat. Even as a calm fearless flyer, your palms grow a little moist clamminess.
The weekend after, I took the Eurostar for a night in Paris, to visit the lovely and talented Toulouse. Which is such a coincidence, just last night I booked tickets to go over there again. God, I must be predictable - Christmas ... Paris. Perhaps it looks better in the dark. Or more probably, I do.

I remember it being much much colder than this year has been - I'd nearly frozen to death under two coats and a thick scarf at London Zoo with my family earlier, and had to stuff myself silly with cabbage products and vodka at a Russian tearoom in Primrose Hill after. (mmmmm..... I picked up a dreadful pierogi habit when I was in Poland, that always has me jonesing for cabbage and dumpling in winter.)
That fortnight, I'd also gone clubbing in Birmingham with a load of people I knew from years of talking crap online, and we'd gotten utterly trashed after ritualistically eating raw meat and vomit. Well, it smelled like vomit, anyway.
I'd also driven 200 miles to Swindon and back in one evening, to see a Peter Kay show; the tickets had been for my sister's birthday, but it had turned out that she was the only one in the family who had no idea who Peter Kay is. I'd spotted my childhood English teacher in the row in front. He looked the same, except I wasn't this time sitting at crotch height, which weirdly figured in my teenage memories of him a lot. Wickedex didn't attend any of these things - oh except the Paris trip - and was away working in Yorkshire and Devon as usual for half the month. Hmmm, foreshadowing?

Not totally, we'd just come back from a holiday driving around Switzerland. We drove from the Alps (that's the Eiger behind me), to a sunny vineyard on the banks of Lake Geneve in the Valais, to a cheese infested dairy farm in the Emmental, having started off in a cloud.
The gigantic muffling grey groggy cloud was the reason I'd wanted to go to Switzerland - the (politically despised) Millennium Expo there was in its final weekend, and I wanted to visit one particular exhibit at Yverdon-les-Bains - a man-made cloud in the middle of a lake, centred around a pier. It was fantastic - everything you imagine when you stare out along the wing of the plane and look down at a cloud carpet. Most of all, I loved saying to people at work that I was going to Switzerland to sit in a cloud.
It was wet, white, steamy, cold, tasty, quiet (just a steady small hissing sound), and every twenty minutes they purposely let the cloud drop, so it would disperse and you'd see the contrast of a sunny clear lakeside, before the cloud would re-form. Gorgeous. A lake-wide rebirthing tank, almost.

Any parallels? I was keeping busy. Perhaps there's a lesson there.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:38 PM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 27 November 2003 10:29 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003

narrow squeak

What's the definition of a narrow squeak? A thin mouse.


Today could have been terrible - three late nights, despite sleeping pills that punish you for late nights by making you feel godawful (a pavlovian approach that feels puritan enough to work for me); having to lead a shitty five hour training session which turned into five hours of me arguing with everyone, then saying "I'm sorry you feel like that; nevertheless, you're all going to do it my way."
Plus I can tell the next bit of Verbal from the bosslady is coming for taking too much time off this year. It's still bloody raining. It's cold and dark all the time. It had all started so despondently, the day looked reassuringly foreboding and hopeless.

Yet, traipsing out of the house this morning, I suddenly realised how great it is to be alive:

I dunno if you can see it very well, but the red car seven yards in front of the major natural disaster is mine. The large black spindly stripe of divine retribution across the centre is the three storey high tree that was outside my bedroom window. It didn't uproot - it snapped at the base. It's at least two feet in diameter, as the owners of those cars found to their horror. Those branches punctured directly through the roof and the seats below.
Poor old Woman Opposite had no insurance to cover it, and had just done a grand's worth of repairs to her car. It was all I could do not to grin in her face. I offered her some platitudes about how it could be worse, she could have been sat in it, and thanked my lucky stars.
I heard nothing all night. Blimey, but those sleeping pills must be strong.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:16 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2003 6:22 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 25 November 2003


Now Playing: Christina Aguilera, which explains the run of bad luck.

Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT.

I just cooked a 'serious' meal (vegetables, and everything), then realised I said I'd go see Kinky in Old Kent Road in an hour's time. He's cooking, too. God dammit. I ate a real lunch and a real breakfast, too. Now I'll eat two real evening meals (Kinky cooks really nice stuff) and probably hurl on the way home.
And I did three hours of overtime, trying to get ready the two or three hours of training I have to deliver to grumpy fractious misbehaving adults tomorrow, then forgot to find or copy the list of what I want them to do.
I forgot to sign a cheque for the electricity bill a month ago, and still haven't sent it back. I owe four people return phone calls.
I tried to switch bank account on my car insurance, and ended up cancelling both debits by mistake.
And now there's no time to blog what I was going to blog.
I just ate a hundredweight of grapes. That'll make me feel better, nuh?

Later on - Much Later

Ooopsy, I realised I hadn't seen Kinky for at least two years. Last Monday, I met Jogger for an hour on her way back to York, and realised I hadn't seen her for three years, which is a downright shame.
Kinky fed me delicious things - duck crispy pancakes, ice cream with M&Ms and Revels thrown in. I didn't vom, but I am one fat pudgy Vanessa, now - four meals in one day beats the usual round of toast by miles.
I was surprised that Walworth is only thirty minutes from here. I should really call round more often, especially as Kinky, like K, is another of those terribly wise people who says things that make you think about things all the time. He went through a much messier more traumatising break-up than mine three years ago, and we discussed it tonight. It was weird to hear the fine detail of things I only knew about remotely at the time they happened (he was in the States then). He had all the friends who don't call because they don't know what to say, the fear that too many choices will be immobilisingly scary, the wanting not to make the same emotional mistakes again, and again.
His verdict was not to keep wishing your life ahead to 'when everything will be all right again', but just to experience things as they are now. Maybe looking for somewhere to live will actually be interesting. Maybe I could enjoy it.
He also helped me look through the maps and flat adverts pile, to decide what area of London to live. And in the rain, in the dark, in a speeding car, even Bermondsey didn't look too bad.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 6:32 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2003 1:03 AM GMT
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Monday, 24 November 2003

Cancel Crissmuss, Please

I've been trying to write distant, objective, non-toomuchinformation blog for a long dull week now, while my sleep average racked back up to near normal, and while I came to grips with stage one in the latest challenge. For someone who didn't percieve themselves as drinking very much at all, it was a bit of a shock when my doctor told me to stop. After splitting up with Wickedex I was drinking about three, maybe four bottles a week of wine in total (and that's including nearly every weekend out on the piss). The week before last (the waking up with head in the cat litter week), it went up to seven bottles. The doc helpfully pointed out that what with all the other stuff going on at the moment (oooh, being poor, getting dumped, having nowhere to live, and all - that sort of thing), perhaps this was putting an unreasonable strain on myself. And on my sense of reality. When I 'fessed up about the seven bottles he shouted 'oh my god! you are killing yourself! do you want to lose your job?!' in that typically vague, calming Sri Lankan tone of understatement that he has.
So last Monday, I decided to give up the booze.
This precipitated a fearsome bout of hysteria that ended with me puking up a KFC dinner outside the Edward Lear Hotel in Marble Arch at midnight. But let's not get into that. (If that's your hotel, I apologise. It tasted really minging, you know.)
He told me to stay dry for two months. My conversations with everyone for the past week have thusly reiterated: 'Two months! Two months! Christ! That includes Crisssmusss....... New Year! I'm going to be LITERALLY Bored to Death. Ah shit oh shit oh shit' ... you get the idea. A Crissmuss without even a tot of Bailey's? Jebus wept, it'll be one long round of Ken Dodd on telly, inedible stodge, and slitting my wrists.
Turns out he was letting me down gently - tonight he revised his prognosis to 'a minimum of six months. And then some!' Fuck.

I thought about throwing away all the alcohol in the house. Then I didn't.
It was like losing a mate, somehow. People would ring up and invite me out. 'Wait. I can't drink.'
I brightened up a bit when I realised it also meant I could drive - no more #70 taxis from improbable places for me or any of my mates. But that only ever happened when we were bladdered anyway.
Cripes, maybe I'll be so bored I'll be giving lifts back to Brighton, or York?
Hurrah for the steadfast true friends who responded with 'okay, you're coming here at Crissmuss then.' Or alternatively, 'You won't mind if I get bleeding trollied though, will you?'
As I said the other day, HarvardBoy recommended leaping back in the dating scene. Quite apart from the ridiculousness of the casual sex suggestion, the idea of meeting unknown dykes without some dutch courage terrifies me.
Hey, I'm not a weed - I spent half the summer going out and making mates out of women I barely knew, and who terrified. I was rimmed to the eyeballs every time. I've never *seen* the dyke scene work without copious quantities of drugs AND alcohol.
So that's it, I'm reduced to quietly wondering if exes of exes will go for a mercy fuck, till next July. Aargh.

I had once tried to cut down on the daily glass or five of wine before - I was on the only diet I've ever done, and had lost two stone, then 'plateaued'. If I dropped down by one glass per day, then my calorific intake would reduce to that of Starvin Marvin, and my body would be shocked into losing the rest of the blubber I needed to shed at the time.
Trying to drink just one less glass per day had unbelievably disastrous consequences. After four months of regimented rabbit food, suddenly I had the self control of a puppy in a field of ADHD gerbils. I would gorge on two or three tubs of ice cream a day, usually interspersed with whiskey and jaffa cakes, before a nightly pizza snack.
Trying to analyse - through the crumbs, choc ices, and smears of cream - what was going wrong, I realised that I was able to cut my food intake by maintaining focus on the goal (losing weight), but if I tried to drop the alcohol intake, I automatically felt I was *denying* myself something. And all the normal barriers dropped in defiance of the injustice of it all.
I started back on the glass of wine a day, and *poof* (fnarr fnarr), the diet became easy peasy once more.

This Thursday my efforts to eat vegetables or at least one meal every other day toppled to the ground, and I ate fifty seven cream cakes instead. Jeez. At this rate, I'd be alcohol-free but thirty stone heavier by next summer.
The weekend was the worst. I knew I'd be shattered on Friday night. Shattered, cold, menstrual, worried about money. I thought maybe taking up teev again would help - possibly with the help of a blanket and some wintry elaborately prepared tasty dishes. No such luck - Children in Need, (a godawful UK annual telethon) was on. No way was I switching that crap on and watching people pretend to be happy when *they* were okay, they're in the meeja and are all quite patently Charlied up to their eyeballs. Anyone over the age of 14 shouldn't have to endure that sober.
The alternative was a long bath with a book.
Or sleeping. (But drink-induced coma is a fun way of sleeping!)
But.Not.With.Wine. (awwwww...)
I ended up making excuses to open the fridge door just so I could see the light glint as it refracted through the fucking bottle.

Saturday I went out with yidaho. Being a good-natured sort, she agreed to go to a comedy club, with food, and then clubbing after. All of which are Things To Do that use up your mouth or your hands so you're not drinking. I drove, so I'd have to stay sober.
The comedy was great, and the evening was fun. But I knew the point where everyone is too pissed to dance straight was coming. The point where the real comedy starts, during bar five of 'YMCA'. The point where it doesn't really matter how shit the talent or the music is, cos you've drunk so much that you suddenly think doing the conga with midgets is hilarious.
I knew straight clubs were godawful, but bloody hell - a straight club full of stag parties - older men stag parties - on the night of the England Rugby win, when you've drunk nothing but mineral water is a sight to behold. The only thing that kept me from stabbing them with my chicken kebab skewer is that I, at least, didn't have to see the pigeon-toed rhythm-deficient torpid old wankers naked.
I rewarded my self with large amounts of chocolate eclair toffees and coffee, and got home around 6am.
For society's sake, and in the total absence of any medical hangover requirement, I spent the entire next day in bed. All twenty four hours of it. That'll stop me from downing the four quarts of gin in the cupboard, oh aye.

Strangely, it's made all the other things I have to do - pick up the phone when it rings, get up and go to work in the mornings, open the mail, restrain urges to stab memebers of the public, sell the house, communicate civilly with Wickedex without screaming - even harder.
The most alarming thing is that there's no excuses left for me; if I'm boring, it's me who's boring, not the Drunk. If I'm stupid. If I'm annoying or rude - no hiding behind anything and blaming it apologetically the next day. (My Telling People to Go Fuck Themselves Quotient has risen massively within that one week.) If I'm too crap to get out of bed that day, it's not a hangover. It's me. I'm crap.
I'm surprised that the Doc was right, and this is actually already a difficult habit to break.
Presumably, he was also right, then, that given the circumstances, it was going to get worse.
It's scary to lose my crutch, though. Real scary.
It's unadulterated me, for weeks and weeks and weeks and fucking boring bloody weeks and fucking fucking weeks of it. It feels like someone's died. Like the interesting part of me has left. They say the devil has all the best tunes, but I've got enough stupid racy stories to tell - I don't need to down some more of them.
And that bottle's still in the cupboard.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 11:08 PM GMT
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Sunday, 23 November 2003


It's been raining for seventy two hours in London. Daylight pitches into darkness by four o'clock. The tree outside my window - the huge screening tree that obviates the need for curtains - is bare.
"Bare ruined choirs". Do I notice this. Do I buggery.

Last night, preparing to go out, I'm dancing my little heart out in my strapless bra and knickers while drying my hair in the kitchen. I glance over at the big window. Without a leafy screen, I look directly into the startled eyes of Bloke Opposite, all too obviously dancing his little heart out while ironing in his blue underpants.
My eyes snap back down, shifty, horrified, and I crab-walk out of there.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:13 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 23 November 2003 2:14 PM GMT
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Saturday, 22 November 2003


One of the things I have to do as part of my |genericjob| at the moment is to ruthlessly, unemotionally whittle great works of literature down into four easily digestible scenes.
Frankenstein - creation, Felix's cottage, meeting in caves of ice, storm at the Pole.
Great Expectations - the marshes, Gargery kitchen, Havisham, Wemmick.
Romeo and Juliet - initial fight, party scene, second fight, Juliet weeps.
Bish bash bosh. There's yer 'eritage, roight, missus?

It's a mockery of an affrontery of a shambles of a sham, to be sure, but once you've done it a few times, it's tempting to apply the same callous process to the books you're reading -- which breeds an impatience.
Do I really have to wade through the narrator's first few years in Haiti while reading The Comedians? Surely it's better to skip from the Ton Ton Macoute killing in the pool straight to the Comtesse's death scene?

In a more innocent, historic age, I used to daydream about how awful it might be to write film scripts for Merchant Ivory and spend your days butchering whole passages of slow, meandering, precious explanation; but now I merely wonder if the trick would work on a real life - can you precis your memories in as brutal a fashion?
Think not? Bet your grandmother can. "A sickly child. Pigeon-toed. Moved to That London. Never as bright as Our Derek."
Looking forward to that family crissmuss lunch muchly, now, eh?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:26 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 22 November 2003 4:32 PM GMT
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The Gay Divorcee

Now Playing: saddo nineties dance music, like Richie Rich

Phone call from Hamburg the other night; HarvardBoy rang and was deeply supportive. (weird, his ex, Kinky, also emailed me at almost exactly the same time; I have sad memories of going with H-boy up to Wales to sort through their combined belongings in Kinky's dad's attic years ago, when they split - all that piteous wrangling stuff about who gets the nice cushions...)
He recommended mercenary focus on getting money from Wickedex rather than trying to understand her motives. He also insisted I'd feel much better if I started going out frequently and having much casual sex.
Sigh. Casual sex. Lesbians don't do casual sex. Lesbians move in on the third date, then do the Lesbian Merge on the fourth. Casual. The very idea.
Sometimes I think lesbians and gay men will never understand each other.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:05 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 22 November 2003 4:14 PM GMT
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Friday, 21 November 2003


Medicated dreaming.
This is new.

Last night I discovered that only a really bloody stupid moron would take pills to make them sleep, then force themselves to stay awake till two o'clock, working and writing, long epistolary discussions about how reality sometimes seems like a set of russian dolls.

This morning fell on my head like a bloody sledgehammer. Ten minutes groaning on the side of the bath. Moving like a moth through cement. If time at six o'clock normally passes thus:
My morning slowed right down to:
Still, it renders you usefully placid with the general public. An average meaninglessly confrontational exchange with a stranger at the |genericjob| became:
he: "What the FUCK are you looking at?"
me: Easy. Big, dr-e-a-m-y smile, and walk away.

Got home at half-four (ray! nearly still daylight), and didn't even make it as far as the bedroom. I think I'd tried to stagger the one foot from the door to the bathroom before I spied the forbidden bliss, the spare bed, calling to me.

I came to (two claws in my scalp and one wet muzzle shoved in my eye, thanks for asking) around two hours later, sprawled over the spare bed, still muffled in my winter coat, eiderdown dragged over me. Hair an interesting new flavour of damp curl. Groggily groggily.

And now it's time for the next pill.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:12 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2003 7:19 PM GMT
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Thursday, 20 November 2003

How to Be a Cat

Now Playing: a piteous wailing sound by the front door

Yes, I am that sad piss-stained woman who ends up envying the cat.

1am: Sniff the air, repeatedly, like a Bisto kid. Do nothing.

2am: Abruptly scramble and plunge around the flat, sounding the drumming thunk of 18 paws, rotating on an axle.

3am: Chase other, evil, cat across the Vanessa's pillow. Do not fear to tread on face.
Dive under the duvet and try to nestle against a hot rump. If the Vanessa farts, claw her viciously.

3.30am: Try to find warmth and succour atop duvet for Phase One of Seventeen Hour Sleepathon. The archetypal arrangment will force the Vanessa's limbs into contorted circular shapes that afford fortress-like protection from enemies.
Other, evil, cat looks at you funny. Fight her.

4am: Cold will force you into an interim alliance with other, evil, cat. Dismiss your differences through ritual headlocks, bum-sniffing and grooming until able to comprise a Large Cat Puddle, of two to three feet in diameter.
Wake the Vanessa through vigorous over-grooming.

5am: Patrol the house. Wail piteously at exterior door - it may spontaneously open? Time for the Noisy Scratching Poo.

5.30am: Claw holes in the centre skull of the Vanessa. Try to find areas not already encrusted from yesterday.

6am: Other, evil, cat should join forces in unholy alliance, and support the cause by placing a wet muzzle against the Vanessa's lips; if fruitless, replace with rear end.
Become overwhelmed with curiosity as to what exactly other, evil, cat's rear end smells of.

6.15am: Demand profusion of Cat Pats.
Become wildly over-stimulated and develop twisty purring frenzy. Tail should bush out tempestuously, keeping other, evil, cat at bay.
If other, evil cat receives pats, hiss balefully. Time for the Stinking Scratchy Poo.

7am: Stare reproachfully from the Vanessa to the food bowl, to the Vanessa, to the cat litter, to the Vanessa, to the cat toy, to the Vanessa, to the door, until all targets meet your satisfaction.
Studiously and meaningfully aim to visualise tinned cat food. Biscuits are unacceptable. Should Biscuits occur, stalk away with nose in the air.

7.15am: Seventeen hours of slumber await. Break at ten to scrutinise local birds and make a chattering noise.

Apologies to Alex's Diary...

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:54 PM GMT
Updated: Friday, 21 November 2003 7:22 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 19 November 2003

ignis fatuus

I haven't been posting very much since the weekend, have I? It's difficult to fit it all in, what with my twelve or thirteen hours a day of sleep. I visited a doc and asked about the 'insomnia' (ie, not bothering to go to bed, more than not wanting to go to bed).
Voila! From a two hours a night girl, now I sleep all the time.
On the upside, I do look about five years younger suddenly. On the weird side, I dream more often than I actually do anything. So currently, I'm either looking at houses I might buy, listening to the mutant ten foot squirrels in the attic (they were moving their sideboard to the other side of the nest this morning, by the sound of it), or I'm dreaming about being trapped in the houses I just looked at.

I've been trying to look at weird places to live only, reasoning that the fact I don't require an over-bleached hypoallergenic kitchen or a sodding yellow-ducky-covered baby-room makes me a more powerful buyer.
Yesterday I looked at this one place, and it had a converted attic. Not tall enough to stand in, but it had been made into a living space all the same, with a scary fifteen foot shaky ladder to get there. The building itself was very old and tall, and the upper levels of the place had to fit inside a very gothic exterior - turrets and things, you know?
Therefore its attic was in the shape of a three branched cross, and sloping ceilings tipped and careened off dramatically on each branch of the crucible. Yes, like a crypt would do.
The flat downstairs had been cluttered by animal effigies made out of dried twigs tied together, and the owner seemed to have a predilection for adding beds in odd places - notably on suspended platforms one foot from the ceiling in each room. (But there's no accounting for taste, and I'm sure my own liking for late fifties decor isn't to everybody's fancy, either.)
The crypt - sorry, attic - was painted a deep blood red, lit by a single dicoloured light bulb near the trap door. On branch right of the triptych, a mini computer hole - weird. Remember, there's not enough room to do more than crouch or crawl up here. (That's exactly how I'd assume most people experience the net - immured in a murky chthonic hellhole in an overly religious unlit attic.)
Branch left of the triptych, loads of junk, a few signs of mice.
The third arm of the triptych was an altar. With a bed on it.
I've lived (a whole decade ago) with priests and monks. I'm already accustomed to secret rooms beneath the wainscoting that conceal furtive altars (usually of a variant religion to the one that's meant to be practised).
This wasn't any Christian altar. It wasn't any of the big seven religions. Suddenly the nearness of the Meridian Line, the striking views of the park and the Thames, but particularly all those home-lashed twig stags that littered the hallway seemed to have a deeper meaning.

For twelve hour's dreamtime last night I lived in a blind phantasm of that house, in that sinister garret room.
All I shall say is that my shabbytat furniture didn't match.

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Vanessa/Female/31-35. Lives in United Kingdom/London/East London/Bow, speaks English and German. Spends 40% of daytime online. Uses a Normal (56k) connection. And likes Literature / Movies/Food / Eating / Drinking.
This is my blogchalk:
United Kingdom, London, East London, Bow, English, German, Vanessa, Female, 31-35, Literature / Movies, Food / Eating / Drinking.

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This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:39 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 November 2003 7:43 AM GMT
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Tuesday, 18 November 2003

back to the crucial issues of life

Mood:  surprised
I apologise for trivialising your day, but I've been temporarily stunned that there are people out there who Do Not See It My Way. Paralysed by a sense of horror that there could be others out there this misguided, I have to turn to you, the indolent public of cyberspace for authority.

Which of these slices of toast has been toasted to the correct degree?

Postscript: Pop Quiz is over.

You all failed. I lost all my faith in humanity, now.
Click here for the TRUE answer, and pray to scourge your tawdry cynical souls.
You're not worthy of the holy bread products.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:21 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 19 November 2003 12:21 AM GMT
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Monday, 17 November 2003

Mrs Rochester

Now Playing: the thumping banging thing in the attic

Something is alive in my attic space. The thumping, banging and knocking just gets louder. Particularly when it's windy, quiet, or I'm watching a late night horror movie.
I am definitely too scared to go and look.
Please please please let it be an animal ... or a trapped bird ... and not an outward manifestation of all my earthly sins or something.
Just a thought.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:32 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 17 November 2003 3:43 PM GMT
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F*ck Everything

Now Playing: the whizzing whirring noises in my head

Fuck sparrows.

I spent half the weekend sticking up bird feeders. The tree outside my window looks like a Crimble tree full of waxy seedy crap in wire hangers. And where are the fucking birds? Fucking ingrates.
My cats are bored - those birds are failing in a duty of care to provide entertainment.

Fuck milk.

You don't eat the stupid porridgey-cereal, it takes too long to get through the pint, the stupid fucking milk goes off. And.... black coffee. Urgh. Even the good honey is gone.

Fuck not sleeping.

Three hours kip means I couldn't go to work today. Okay, you weaselling quisling bastards, I could have gone to work, but I'd have killed someone on the twelve mile drive to work, and then you'd all have been down on me about it. Oh yes.
Decided this at six. Faxed everything required into work at seven. Had to sit about waiting for doctor's surgery to open at nine. Fuck them, I preferred the routine where I totally fail to get a doctor's note, but actually caught up on my sleeping.

Fuck the landlord at the local hostelry.

I've been going there for five years, and without exception, each visit he invites me to consider moving into this area because it's so friendly, local and welcoming, and all the neighbours know each other.

Fuck doctors.

Just when you adapt to their new take-no-prisoners approach to denying all patients an appointment, they fuck it all up by giving you one. At a convenient time. Bastards! I took the day off to argue with you!

Fuck vegetables.

Alright, I have tried to eat one relatively normal meal at least every second or third day. And you know what? The sparsity of the experiment renders the result clear sharp and lucid: vegetables make you fart like a wildebeest. Fuck that.

Fuck the crunch in my neck when I swivel.

Sometimes it's satisfying. Sometimes it encourages you to enjoy a stretch.
Sometimes you just want to snap the fucker.

Fuck Monday.

Just fuck Monday. Jeez, do I need a reason?

[AOL] "your fuck." [/AOL]
Well at least I can spell, you moronic Quizilla clagnut.

What swear word are you?
brought to you by Fucking Quizilla, who else?

This page graced by sarsparilla at 9:23 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 17 November 2003 9:49 AM GMT
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Sunday, 16 November 2003

Apparently I planned it all

This is the latest theory of Wickedex and her friends. That I masterminded breaking up with her, and had been planning it for months.
Here, then, is a visualisation of my meisterwerk - The Grand Plan to do the moneygrubbing larcenous icy cow out of her rightful fortune:

Stage 1 - Easter
Temporarily split up with Wickedex, have nervous breakdown, nearly lose job.
Forward thinking: minus 40 points.
Grand strategy score: minus 10.

Stage 2 - Spring
Pull life together, lose two weeks' wages after not turning up to the |genericjob| - it interrupted my nervous breakdown schedule. Regain sanity. Use up a year's promotion pay to fund Wickedex's ten week holiday in Australia as an early birthday gift. Receive a fake birthday present in my turn that ends up costing me sixty pounds, because she forgot to get me anything.
Approach whole Oz trip thing with trepidation as Wickedex morphs into Scrooge. "Why the hell are you buying that shampoo?! Don't you know I have a trip to Australia to save up for?"
Reason for paying for her trip: wanted her to stop being with me out of habit. Wanted her to be with me out of choice. Had intended to pay another eight hundred pounds to join her there for part of the trip - until I crash the car. Wickedex refuses to pay any money towards replacing it. "Don't you know I have a trip to Australia to save up for?" New car costs #5K. Lambasted for being jealous of her trip. Fuck me. I don't want to go to Australia. I can get racism in Bermondsey, mate.
Forward thinking: minus 20 points.
It could be that I faked the car crash as a convenient excuse. From the grassy knoll.
Grand strategy score: minus 30.
Hitler would have been too poor to annexe Austria at this rate.

Stage 3 - Summer
Spend a summer blogging, overheated, immobile, and being fairly drowned in tedium.
Wickedex effervesces with lengthy descriptive emails while alone in New Zealand, but once back in Sydney has more important things to do than email me. Gets annoyed that I invited round four friends she doesn't like. How dare I forget the rules about not mentioning my friends, etc.
Doesn't telephone as it would "cost too much money".
Have to spend time convincing people that although the blog may sound action packed, leaving the house once every fortnight doesn't actually constitute a giddy social whirl.
Everyone I know tells me to stop whingeing on about missing her. The frostiness penetrates even my thick skull though, and when people set dates for late September, I begin my reply, "it depends if I get dumped or not..." (no unregistered friends rule, remember?)
Forward thinking: 40 points.
Good choice not to blog the seventeen all-night lesbian orgies. Then my lies and deceit would have become transparent. And - aha! I mentioned "dumped"! Could it have been any clearer what I was up to?
Grand strategy score: minus 10.

Stage 4 - early Autumn
Wickedex returns. Is furious that I didn't skip work to collect her from the airport 25 miles away, and that the freeholder changed the lock on the front door. Everything I say is wrong; if I speak, eyes are rolled, if I enter a room, she clucks her tongue. Apparently jet lag makes one do this. Privately, I resolve that if this continues for more than a fortnight (jet lag's supposed to be over in 48 hours, isn't it?) then we probably need to split.
Wickedex gazumps me. She dumps me within six days flat. I am told how cruelly ignorant I am of the sheer pressure of doing a temp job for three months. (Those three years I temped to fund my travelling do not count.)
Tiny flat seems smaller. Two people who are supposed to loathe each other, suddenly. Not good.
Forward thinking: 20 points.
Aha! Clear, crystal evidence that I planned it - had the date set all along. [This is not at all comparable to pretending that jet lag makes you bitchy for weeks on end.]
Grand strategy score: minus 20.
Shoulda thought about the somewhere to live option . . .

Stage 5 - late Autumn
Not wanting to be homeless, I agree to buy the jointly owned flat we live in. Ooops. Worst point in the market to do so - prices are high. Wickedex sets the price at well over #200,000. Easily five times my salary. At which point I wig out, and demand she leaves. She does so.
Spend large amounts of time ill. Overcome previous problems with opening mail or using the phone. Manage to find a fool who will lend me that sort of money, and a willing victim to rent a room from me. Still, it's pretty near the breadline; will have no disposable income ever again (working for local councils catches few big raises). Wickedex posits getting back together again. I refuse.
Despite the fact that she dumped me, everyone I know is under the remarkably coincidental impression that I've made her homeless, jobless and penniless, and that her life is ruined.
Forward thinking: 50 points.
It's so pleasant, here in her flat, surrounded by all her things, knowing that every weekend she's going to turn up and smash things at random. I don't need holidays or clothes, surely. All has turned out beautifully.
Grand strategy score: 50.
Patently, I'm making a bundle out of the poor woman.

Stage 6 - Winter
She demands I pay her half of the mortgage. I refuse. Wickedex will not countenance a lodger in "her" property. When I offer to reimburse half her current rent once the flat is sold, am instructed to pay half her rent now. Not sure what that means, as she's living rent free and bill free with my friends. Wickedex protests how poor she is. I point out that I know full well she has enough cash on hand to pay a deposit and two month's rent right away. Saying this out loud is construed as a Very Very Bad Thing. Must not contradict the doctrine that She Is The Victim Here.
I give up, and agree to sell. The Wickedex Moneymaking Machine moves into action, and the place is besieged by moneygrubbingbastard agents. Who say it's overpriced. They suggest dropping the price to #220,000 for the one and a half bedroom flat.
I offer to move out and let her live here. Things in the flat keep breaking. She's here when I'm not, and things are moved; yesterday I came home to a definite instinct that she'd been in my bed.
I point out that I could afford the flat myself, if the price drops. "Well, you think about that." Am unable to stop crying and the lack of a lockable door is sending me mad. Am told by a third party that I planned this all along.
Forward thinking: minus 20 points.
Should have thought about the going mad part back when you planned the whole 'Steal Wickedex's Earthly Fortune' campaign, back in January.
Grand strategy score: 150.
I'm not sure how.

So there you have it. How to make yourself homeless, turn all your friends against you, and send yourself mad, in six easy months.
Fergawdssakes, I planned it ... ? A mongoloid chimp could have planned better than that.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 4:51 PM GMT
Updated: Monday, 17 November 2003 2:54 PM GMT
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crying, eating, walking, speaking ...

Now Playing: Paul Mc Cartney, on the District line tube; then 'Solsbury Hill'. Again.

Conversation last week with Wickedex:
"Did you smash my new camera?"
"The cat did it."
"Oh. Did you go a bit mentallist, then?"
"Believe me, you've never even seen mentallist."
"oh. I don't want to see it, really."
"Really. You haven't a clue how mentallist I can be."
"I'm no longer under any obligation to see you being mentallist, though. I can do without it."
"Oh. I guess."


Why the hell did I wear stilettos? It just draws attention to the fact I haven't ironed my suit. Without glasses, there's not even a reason to visualise freakish sex.
I hate when short guys turn away as you approach. As if - if they can't see you, then no-one can see that they're short. They could just start muttering and shaking / twitching, instead - it's no less clear that they have a problem. I never had a problem dating blokes shorter than me as a teenager - I find it odd that grown men - men who are short every single day - can't get over themselves on this one.


I need to eat more. I think I ate rawish steak last night, but most of the evening is a total blank, so I can't be sure. But I do have a trace memory of sitting on the bus home and realising my legs had the look of a pipe-cleaner woman. Besides, if I eat more, I might not end up crying so much. You never know.


Footnote about crying all the time:
Perhaps it's hormonal. It doesn't feel any worse than not crying, and I'm certainly no more upset than when I'm not crying. It just sort of comes out.
Usually I'm pretty circumspect about that sort of thing. If someone cries in front of me, it's a shortcut way to get me to be nasty to them, because I automatically assume it's an attempt at emotional manipulation. It's a little galling to keep being the damp over-emotional person myself.
Helpfully, the |genericjob| is engrossing and interesting enough to take my mind off it. Also, I find very very loud singing can prevent it (useful when driving - I'm sure crying before an accident would invalidate the insurance.) Might be frowned on upon the tube, though.

Strange how I have no such self consciousness about vomiting on the tube though.
Having lived in central London through all of a particularly wild twenties, I estimate I've splash-backed on about sixty to seventy perfect strangers. Tube etiquette being what it is (the madder anyone behaves, the more fixedly one stares at a safe spot behind their head), not a one of them complained. Four have even offered medical assistance. Bless. They don't do that when you're crying.

But anyway - the crying references - I'm not blogging them for piteousness, or as another bloody way to mope. It's just something that's happening.
Do feel free to take the piss.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 2:01 AM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 16 November 2003 2:09 AM GMT
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