Friday, January 30, 2009

Reading in public

On London’s transport network, you read over people’s shoulders. Everyone does it, you’re packed too closely together not to read the interesting-looking story about the two criminals who were escaping while hand-cuffed together, went either side of a pole and then slammed face-first into eachother (not the smartest tools in the shed). Or you’re trying to figure out name and author of the book you’ve now read four pages of between Kings Cross and Edgeware Road because you now care what happens to one of the characters. Or there are the other things. Reports, someone’s email about dinner off their Blackberry (because you don’t really want to read it, but can’t look away because there is no where else to look unless you’re staring at someone, and that’s not allowed).

And then, then there are mornings like this one, where you casually sweep your eyes across what the guy in front of you is reading, and realise that it’s a letter.

It’s at least several pages long, as the woman (and you know it’s a woman, the handwriting has loops and just looks feminine) has considerately numbered the pages, at the top, with each number in a small circle so it is clearly visible and so that the reader can easily keep them in order. Because this isn’t just any letter, it’s one of those letters.

The letter where you’re saying all the things that you can’t say in person, that hurt too much, or you simply can’t get out, or you think that saying it in writing will somehow make what you’re saying easier to bear for the person reading it. Or maybe you’ve just written it in a letter because you can’t watch the face of the person you wrote the letter for crumble or morph into fury or remain indifferent one more time.

It’s like a train wreck. I know that it’s intensely personal, as he turns the pages his hand is visibly beginning to shake (or maybe that’s because I’ve been watching him for a while now), but I’m now caught up and can’t look away. There are phrases like ‘I’ve tried to explain’, ‘I’m sorry, but’, and ‘I just can’t do this anymore’.

He’s reading this on the Tube. Surrounded by hundreds of people. He’s got to know that someone is reading it as well as him, he can’t have lived in this city and taken the Tube every day and not know that someone around him is reading this letter along with him. Maybe he’s doing it because if he reads it in public he won’t allow himself to fall apart, and he has a whole work day to get through before he can do that. Or maybe he just needs to not feel completely alone at the end, where she says that she’s not going to be there any more. I keep glancing from the letter to the sliver I can see of his face, straining to see his reflection in the window of the carriage.

He reaches the end, carefully reorders the pages, and painstakingly folds it and gently puts it back into the envelope it came in before tucking it into his bag. Then he leans his head against the window, for just a second, and it’s like in that one second he’s trying to shove it all down inside him, because when you get a letter like that you simply can’t leave it until later – and that’s really why he was reading it on the Tube. His entire body is tense. Then his shoulders slump, his head comes back up, he’s blinking furiously, and he disappears into the crowds at Kings Cross.

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Monday, January 26, 2009


Things I dislike about this Monday:

1. I have not had a weekend where I was not busy in almost two full months. Last weekend was no exception.
2. It was dark out when I got up this morning. It is almost Imbolc, I feel like it should be spring. I know it's coming but...
3. flatmate has a job now, and has a habit of turning off lights that I am still using. This is even worse when I'm used to having the mornings quiet and to myself, without anyone getting in my way, turning off my lights or humming.
4. I did not get paid last Friday (because payday is not until this Friday).
5. I had to work instead of knit on either my no purl monkeys or my Mrs. Darcy cardigan. Either way, it would have had a better day.
6. I am having a bit of a throwback to my teenage years, and angsting over something. I'm not used to it, and I'm irritated at myself.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


Have you ever noticed that, on the one day that you’d like your hair to actually listen to you and look nice in a week, it instead acts like an angsty teenager that’s just discovered Rage Against The Machine and walks around screaming ‘Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me?’

Yeah. That sucks.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The most depressing day of the year

Today is, apparently, the most depressing day of the year. Admittedly, it didn't start out well - I woke up to pissing down rain thrashing wildly against my window. However...

Reasons to be cheerful:

1. We've passed the Solstice, the days are getting longer and soon it will not be dark both to and from my way to work.

2. I got to go for long walks on the beach this last weekend, and there is nothing to make you feel serene like listening to the waves break on the shore.

3. I don't think I've ever felt more optimistic going into a new year.

4. My knitting is going wonderfully, and I have yarn I want to snuggle up to and call pet names.

5. This month, I'll have gotten to see almost all of my favourite people - something fantastically difficult when half of them are on different continents. This is amazing, and I want it to happen more often.

6. I don't know how else to say it, but I'm just... happy. Generally happy. Overall.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Random Wednesday, a day late.

Random things, following a theme. Except the last one.

1. I always read the ‘missing connections’ bit in the London Paper, when I get one (they don’t hand them out by my Tube stop, so it’s a hit-and-miss thing), just on the chance that one will be about me. I also write them, but never send them in. I don’t know what I’d do if one actually was about me, but I read them just in case.

2. This is currently my favourite comic. Right now, this particular strip has been giving me food for thought, and now I have the urge to go up to random people and ask if they like flying kites. Alternatively, and much more in keeping with the taboo of talking to strangers in public, I was thinking of making two buttons to stick on my bag. One that says ‘xkcd’ and the second saying ‘Do you like kites?’

3. One minute, three seconds.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pumpkin soup for world travellers

If you ever (as I have this morning) find yourself awake at 3.44 am due to not being able to sleep after an international flight, I highly recommend the following:

1. Search desperately in your cupboards, trying to find something you can cook out of a truly bizarre combination of ingredient that will also not a) wake your flatmate, and b) require too much effort on your part. After all, it's 3.44 am.

2. Resign yourself to popcorn and likely waking your flatmate.

3. Notice that the tins of pumpkin you bought to make pumpkin pie last year, thinking that they were pumpkin pie mix, are actually just tinned pumpkin. Pause.

4. Realise you also have a tin of coconut milk. Become very excited. Begin searching frantically for the Bart's Red Thai Curry Paste you think you have. Find three jars of green curry paste, but no red. (Really? Why three? When was the last time you actually made Thai green curry?)

5. Finally find it, buried at the back of your deceptively empty refrigerator. Attempt to remember when you opened it. Decide it doesn't matter.

6. Combine the tinned pumpkin, remainder of the red curry paste, the coconut milk and a mug of vegetable stock on the stove, staring impatiently at it until it's actually hot enough to eat.

7. Eat in sitting room, while playing Viva Pinata on your 360 until your controller dies and you realise that you have no more batteries.

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