Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spotted: Reading Rainbow

Rivington Street, Shoreditch
29 July 2009

Two things that inspired me to write.

As a followup to my last post about finding the impetus to put fingers to keyboard, I felt compelled to tell you about two articles I just read regarding reading, writing, introspection, and life plans.

The first is courtesy of my main information source, The New York Times. Their "Ideas" blog is a pretty reliable column for finding quirky and thought-provoking fodder (it damn well should be for being called "Ideas"), and this post didn't let me down. I am intrigued by the paradoxical suggestion that digital communication is actually improving human skills in writing. And I have hope that I can overcome my simultaneous writer's block and failure to follow-through.

The corollary to my perceived self-faults is my latest personal fad: writing my 5 year plan. I admit, I'm not that close to 30 but it's creeping up with increasing speed. Lately I've been trying to sit down and figure out "what I really want out of life" and frankly it's excruciating. Therefore I've been compounding my lack of follow-through and refusal to write by also refusing to actually think about making big life decisions. (I'm really good at backing myself into theoretical corners, in case you haven't noticed). So I was cheered up immensely by this list, recommended by the same Week in Review columnists who bring you the NY Times Ideas blog, of people who were in completely wrong-for-them careers at 30. Not that I think I'm in the wrong career per se, but more about considering what it is truly makes me tick and prioritizing it in life.

So look - if I can just keep on writing, and get better at it, I might just figure it all out by 30. Like Sylvester Stallone did.

What is wrong with me?!

Lately I've been doing a lot of introspection. It's easy to do in London; something about the weather, all of the dense low-lying clouds, and the cozy chimneys of Georgian rowhouses makes a person more introverted - even in the summer. My recent introspection has been focusing on why I can't follow through on my personal resolutions. For example, I've made the following vows to myself over the last month:

1. I will run in the morning before work 3x per week.
2. I will only eat 1 piece of chocolate per day.
3. I will not buy pasta anymore.
4. I will stay on my budget.
5. I will blog every day.

Guess what.

I broke each of these vows pretty much within in the week.

It is hard enough to make life changes, period; it's even harder when you wake up and realize that you lack willpower. That realization was a pretty low blow. I always thought of myself as motivated and driven, but I guess it was always in the context of striving towards earning something I really wanted. Losing a stone is something I really want... but I want some cookies first. Saving money to buy a house one day is also something I want... but I also really want those shoes.

And blogging, well. I like to write. I have ideas for posts all of the time. But when it gets down to writing, I can think of about 100 things to do besides draft a post. Including cleaning. I hate cleaning.

Does anyone else out there in the blogosphere have this issue? You must have! Any advice you'd like to share, and maybe a bit of reassurance that I'm not the only person out there with dreams that she can't for the life of her make come true?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

All of the things going on in London while I haven't been blogging.

I recognize that I haven't really updated Bloody Brilliant with anything about London in a while. I thought about all of the things that have happened since my last post, and it's been a lot! So here is a little "Month in Review" for July.

Amwell Village Fete

One of my favorite things about London, and England, really, is the village fete. Sort of like a town fair, the village fete is a really great gathering of people and businesses in a community. Village fetes happen all over London, in various little neighborhoods and corners of the city. They also take place out in villages throughout England. Earlier in July, a small hidden gem of a neighborhood along my new walk to work, Amwell Village, hosted a fete and it was absolutely charming. The theme was Through the Looking Glass, and there were costumed players and Madhatter Tea Party tables along the road. My friends Rose and Emily had a stand at the fete selling their crafts and emptying their closets, so I wandered down with the Irishman to say hi.


The Irishman and I have been cooking a lot, and few weekends ago we went chef-crazy and made our own raviolis that turned out a lot more like pierogies. We used a Jamie Oliver recipe for roasted red onion, Maris Piper potato, and balsamic vinegar raviolis; I wasn't really thinking straight until I took the first bite, but the texture and filling made them more like raviolis. The Irishman, despite the influx of Polish workers into Ireland and the UK, has never had pierogies, so it was not only educational to make but to eat as well. We had to improvise, as you can see...

The Notting Hill Traveler's Bookshop

A few weeks ago I was in Notting Hill looking for a different bookshop – a cookbook shop called Books for Cooks – when I stumbled on the famous Travel Bookshop from the movie Notting Hill. A lot of other Americans found it too (obviously).

Karma Kab

Finally, someone at work hired the most excellent Karma Kab to transfer people to an event. It is a fabulous, glittery, fake-flower-ful mode of transportation. People were giddy when it pulled up outside, complete with Hawaiian kab driver, and we all posed for pictures with it. Two days later, I saw it cruising on the streets of London! I really want a ride in it soon... hint hint.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Glastonbury, Heatwave, Wimbledon

It's been a scorcher this past week; up to 90 most days, and as I sit here at 7pm the sky still has that hazy baking look to it. Frankly, I love it. I feel like I'm in Manhattan in August (even though it's only July!) and everyone's white pasty legs are out in full force. I'm even wearing shorts at the moment (long trouser ones, of course).

It's the end of a full-on 'British' week as well, with Glastonbury having taken over last weekend and Wimbledon going wrapping up this weekend. Most of the English people I know are beside themselves, flipping between BBC channels to watch recorded sets of Blur reuniting and Andy Murray taking on the world. Tennis fans are sweltering under the blazing sun on center court, while the festival-goers were treated to the usual mudfest.

Obviously I only had eyes for Bruce as he rocked for 2 hours at Glastonbury and was absolutely amazing. I had to explain to the housemates why he was so great (they looked at me like I was odd when I said his songs were anthems capturing the raw power of teenagehood, meant for playing while driving cars fast), and secretly clapped my hands with glee when he ran into the crowd.

Even though the week has been 150% British, it will end with a literal bang on Saturday, 4th of July, with a kickball game hosted by American friends and fireworks in Battersea Park. I'm highly looking forward to showing my fair English friends how we Yanks handle the sun and kick a ball.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Slacker, I know.

Hi everyone. Remember me? I used to blog 'round these parts.

I have been pretty rubbish at it lately, and I do have a few excuses. I think they're decent, but, obviously, that's up to you, dear readers.

1. I moved. Finally. The rent at the old place was breaking the bank (literally) and I was ready for a change from the hubbub of the high street. I found a really great house share in the heart of Barnsbury, only a 10 minute walk from Angel, with three really decent people, a back garden with a propane grill, and a clawfoot tub. It's a little bit like heaven.

2. Work has been, shall we say, trying, and the last thing I've wanted to do after 14 hour days is sit at the laptop and try to find something interesting to say. Frankly, I don't think I had much of anything to say at all after being cooped up in the office for that long. It looks like that streak of awfulness is near the end, though, so hopefully I can reenergize my writing.

3. The Irishman and I celebrated our one-year anniversary, and he surprised me with a weekend away in Bruges. It was a really lovely surprise and I was so excited when I found out where we were headed. Obviously I took a ton of pictures, but the weekend was so special that I thought I'd keep it to myself and not blog it... some things are personal, you know?

But anyway, here I am, back in the driver's seat. I won't make any promises to keep blogging regularly etc etc but I'll try. I'm also going to be looking for a way to liven the blog up a bit; I'm a bit self-conscious in that I'm not sure people really want to read about my day trips and weekends away. Or do they? I'm thinking of giving Bloody Brilliant more purpose than just online journal. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send them along.