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Friday, 5 December 2003

Christmas par-tayyyyy!

I have three weeks of alcohol-free boredom to expiate, a mini-skirt up to here, red patent kinky boots and I'm wired on coffee and sugar.
Makes repetitive whooping sounds...

This page graced by sarsparilla at 8:26 PM GMT
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Thursday, 4 December 2003


Ethernautrix got me thinking about people who brag about how much trouble they got into as a kid. I only got into trouble three times in my life.
So here's one of mine. Aged sixteen, I went to a local sixth form college and simultaneously enrolled in night classes at a community college so I could study art history. I was one of those insufferably 'meek' kids who is in reality anything but, having a deeply held conviction that I was the most intelligent member of any class. A quiet, reserved kid, really, I hadn't ever really been out without either my parents or a friend's parents being present. I'd been dressing like a bad girl for a few years, but the truth was that it was easier to feign introspection that way - I'd never spoken to a boy (beyond Aaron Chipps once in the third year), and wouldn't have known what to say if I did.
A lunchtime conversation at college had run on to who had the most repressive family. Mine had locked me out for getting home -accompanied by responsible adults - from a friend's place at five minutes to nine. There were mass 'ooohs', and I won instantly.
I think I'd been feeling guilty about this, so come the end of year college pool party, I decided to do my best to be the model daughter. Given that my closest friends were dating smackheads or on their second trial release from the loony bin, given that another had painted in navy non drip gloss two foot high lettering "FUCK OFF MUM" across their bedroom wall, I felt peculiarly angelic, and slightly aggravated that my family didn't know a well-behaved kid when they saw one, when I did more than my filial duty and asked what time they would like me home.
Never never never ask what someone wants. Always always always ask for the ultimate you think you can get.
In mock high Dickensian manner, my mum and dad stroked imaginary beards at the family dinner table and cogitated solemnly. It was deemed seemly that I return home by ten of the clock. All were agreed that this was fair. Harumphs of satisfaction all around.
Except for the seething, pulsating furnace of boiling injustice inside of me.
Ten o'clock? I was apoplectic. Unable to speak. (Forget momentarily that I hadn't for one second intended to go to the actual pool party, but to run off clubbing with aforementioned wayward chums. Pool party? Get serious. I thought myself way too cool for school.) Nobody I knew would even get to the clubs before half eleven.
I simmered blackly, emanating noxious waves of discontent and adolescent fury.
'They fuck you up your mum and dad', I gnashed, in a rather poetical aside to the adolescent-cam that I presumed followed me everywhere.
I dressed (in black, natch), left, went to the pub under a storm cloud of rage. Railed against the inequity of it all. Had a few. More than a few.
Moved onto the club, obstinately. And wordlessly buggered off on my own.

I've pretty generally lived my life as if the rest of the world doesn't exist - or if they do, I don't give all that much of a fuck, anyway. As Ethernautrix (again) puts it, as though you're living in a novel and you want to see what would happen if the author . . . ?
So it was after a night of drunken al fresco debauchery that I awoke in the bed of a stranger, hung out for the rest of the day, and returned chez famille at about four in the afternoon the next Sunday.
Being the protagonist and all, I was mildly surprised that a chain of events had taken place in my absence.
The squad car, for instance. The police interviews that followed. Where had I been -- had I been taken against my will -- what are the details of the people you stayed with -- were you abused. Next, I had to telephone all the friends who'd been interviewed by the rozzers while they'd been tracing my final moments. Before I was abducted, killed, sliced into pieces and hidden down an old pipe on a wasteground, I mean.
Then the long long lecture about responsibility, consideration, this house is not a hotel, that presumably everyone gets once before they survive their teens. I was a little amiss as to how daytime soap the whole shebang was going to get. I'd genuinely not even wondered where everyone might think I'd gone. For the first time in my sixteen years I decided not to tell a lie then hide in the toilet till I'd got away with it. I argued back, and unleashed the truculent manipulative demon within.
Finally, after eight hours of tears, snot, yelling, stamping, wrangling, and grilling, I lifted a sulky callow face and asked what time they wanted me home tomorrow night.
Bless 'em. They let me out, an all. As much as I wanted. No match.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 7:49 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 30 December 2003 8:38 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 3 December 2003


Foggy day. Visibility one hundred yards at one point. Outside my window at work, the City of London, Canary Wharf, Elmstead Woods all disappeared. Then the other end of the building was lost in the mist.
As a little kid, walking to school in the fog with jatb, I used to believe that the gods who created the world were having a lie-in. That the world round the corner didn't ever exist until you turned that corner and it was ready for you. On a foggy day, you caught the gods out, and you could see the process happening as they tried to keep up with your pace.
Of course this means that all other humans were obviously a figment of my imagination. So the member of the public whom I accidentally told to "fuck off and get out of my face" this morning doesn't really exist except as a way for my own mind to punish me. Likewise, the huge amount of work I've conquered this week is a paltry invention feeding my need for self-esteem. The problems I've had sleeping aren't real - there is no sleep. There's just the gods' working hours, getting the world ready for my inspection. I've already remarked on here the weirdness that is medication meant to make me sleep that doesn't actually make me sleepy, but merely punishes me if I don't sleep. It figures. If I don't sleep, I make them work harder.
If everything but me is unreal, then I'm not really grinding my teeth habitually. I'm imagining I'm grinding my teeth in order to get sympathy from myself.
It doesn't matter that I tried to buy Christmas presents today, then a hundred pounds the lighter realised I'd dully bought the same present for everyone. Because these people only exist in order to make me feel less alone.
After hearing on the radio (that is, a voice inside my head) that 68% of UK women don't buy a new outfit for their office christmas party, I went to some imaginary clothes shops, and invented some mirrors to show me that I've lost too much weight and look weird for it, so that I could worry needlessly.
In fact, does my body exist? I feel sure that my mind doesn't.
Perhaps I'm like that Tales of the Unexpected Story, 'William and Mary', where the guy is a brain suspended in jelly, with an eyeball attached, watching helpless as the wife who hated him shows him things he can't turn away from.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:29 PM GMT
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I wanted interrupt transmission just now, to say how impressed I was with the comments people left on yesterday's blog. Being sensitive, thoughtful, and from bloggers I admire. I enjoyed reading them. The enterprise seemed less pointless than normal. Thanks.

This page graced by sarsparilla at 10:11 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 December 2003 10:30 PM GMT
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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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