Sunday, 31 August 2008

What with Max and The Sage getting their snog fix and the possibility of my ex becoming my current bf (more on that coming soon) again, love is clearly in the air. So here's what moved me or made me think this week.

A much needed, purely biological look at the warm fuzzy thing we call love. Gives you some perspective.

Love Unlovable People: this here in one of my favourite posts- ever. Written by Patti Digh (whose blog, by the way you must visit. there's something funny, something moving, something interesting, something provocative for everyone. Take your brain and a warm heart with you), it's a refreshingly warm perspective on love and on people.

Unlikely Love: this post is not for everyone. It is certainly for me. A life long denim love affair means that a denim loving post is guarenteed to make its way into any post about love.

P.S. Movign house. Very busy. Waking up with dreams of misplaced shoes. Will update soon.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Things on my softboard

My soft board is on the wall to the right of my front door. It's full of odd bits and pieces from the past year pinned randomly, often over lapping.

Itinerary from my trip to Home Base I two months back

Massage treatment dates and rates at Neal's Yard Remedies (I go there on Sundays when it's half price)

Wrappers from the set of gorgeous pastels I got from CS on my last birthday

A note from MA (also my ex flatmate) saying you better meet me when I get back in September or else...

A rubber glove- the thin pale yellow ones- stapled to a sheet of lined paper with its fingers folded and stapled at the centre leaving only the middle finger upright: a fuck you glove from Max taped to my door the day I got back from my weekend trip with Ex BF 1.

An index card with a note written by LH, my ex-flatmate that reads: thank you for always managing to be the voice of reason in this flat (altho I very much doubt this observation)

A 6 * 6 inch 2008 calendar page

Take away menu for China Express

A photograph of Max and me hammered at her last birthday, taken and pinned to the board by The Sage

A strip of paper, crayoned bright pink, that says breathe in, breathe out- a small reminder for that flaring temper.

A collage of the word YES

A phototograph of a beautiful child dancing, taken on my trip to Kenya

A photograph of The Sage, Max, me and my then boyfriend taken on a white water rafting trip in Nepal (I fell in about 3 times every 2 hours. And max took her foundation and lip gloss with her!)

What's on your soft board (or wall or desktop. Where ever the quirkiest of your possessions accumulate. Where ever there's a space that's meant to be functional but soon piles up with all the other stuff you love to see every day)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

The Mister

The day begins innocently enough on the 5.40 am Cross Country service from Newcastle to Glasgow Central. I'm on my way from Birmingham to Glasgow and my ex (and one of my bestest friends- I know, that doesn't happen often) joins me at Newcastle Central. We'll just call him The Mister.

The train leaves a bustling station silenced my sleepiness; there's a competitive rush for the 'Quiet' coach.

The first hour goes in gossiping excitedly between large gulps of extra strong cappuccino. Soon, England's manicured lawns turn into the vast wilderness of Scotland's farms. A breath of fresh air (although we don't actually get a real breath of Scotland's untamed fresh air until we get to Edinburgh Waverly- which is hardly untamed!).

We reflect briefly on the flimsy, foot-high fences that surround some properties- fences, we decide, are an act of truth. They're not really going to (physically, by virtue of their strength or size) stop people from trespassing, but they rely on the truth that people will not breach boundaries that belong to other people (even though they can).

Speaking of boundaries, The Mister and I have none. After 4 years of full blown romance and a (pretty sudden) move back to being best friends, there are no boundaries that separate us. And so the inevitable question (stemming largely from the fact that we've talked about it off and on for awhile and neither of us has dated anyone else seriously for the last year- since we split up): what do you think of getting back together? Half laughing, we talk about the potential magnificence and disasters might occur.

Outside, the sun's coming up, slowly flooding the sky in a bright pink oranginess. What better time for a new beginning than in a train at sunrise pulling into Central Station, at the start of a weekend break
I tell him
Lets give it another day.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A 32 Hour Day

Written on the floor
Borders Bookstore
Buchanan Street

My hair's been a real prick today: rough and totally misbehaving - turning in random directions, curving strangely, resisting the hairbrush ... (and therefore treated with my weapon of choice: a serious dose of leave in conditioner and a glossing straighter). As on most MTDs (mortifying hair days), I use the iron to curl rather than straighten (because my hair's normally -when well behaved- poker straight so its nice to have an extra boost sometimes).

Meeting Max at the Starbucks here in about 10 minutes.

We shopped our butts off today! Oasis. Next. Zara. Monsoon. Primark. Yup, right across the board.
2 pairs of jeans (1 stonewashed, boyfriend style, 1 skinny), 1 red lace shrug, purple tights (for my demin minis- I'm in a city where retro and neon is often very wearable in small doses :)), red sweatpants for running, silver ballet shoes, open toes red stilettos (for some reason, I can only walk comfortably in them!), dark brown knee high boots, the usual little black dress with a twist, a dark brown leather jacket (the cold will start soon, we kept telling ourselves), and several racerbacks thrown in for good measure.

How satisfying is that!?

For those 4 hours I pretty much forgot I have a flat to find, tickets to book, a life to steer, a relationship to mend, a dissertation to begin (and finish in the next 3 weeks), world hungry, dirty politics, media corrosion, the whole shabang. Like a long, slow, not-explosive-but-intensely-satisfying-and-all-consuming orgasm.

Then I changed from the shorts and sweats of the morning to skinny jeans and a racerback in the
Borders loo. (Ofcourse, I could post a clearer picture of the logo and the building itself- like this one- but you have got to see how beautiful this city is...can be).Max is there now.

An Indian gentleman and his 'young adult' son com up the escalator, look at the literature books on the shelf in front of me. Dad is not happy with this boy
Theek bhi hai lekin mushkil bhi hai
He tells his son sternly. The stubbled 22 year old frowns into the books in his hand pretending its not him that man is talking to.

The most amazing thing is, it's only 10:23 am! We haven't seen the face of mid-morning Glasgow in 3 months.

Yes, we were up all night. Chilling at The Sage's hut discussing life, love, politics, journalistic ethics, grisly scenes off the forensic lab, journalistic horror stories, the importance of matching shoes, the end of a year in this flat, potential girlfriend/boyfriend candidates, the works.

8 hours and endless rounds of Tekkan on Playstation, Boxing on the Wii, and endless glasses of water, lemon spritzers, sherry, Oasis, and orange juice later we realise its 6.30 am, go for a morning run. Shower. Change. Breakfast at Pret a Manger. The Sage goes home to sleep and Max and I head out to hit the shops at the only time in the day when there are not ques.

Tomorrow I meet my ex and one of my bestest friends in the whole world... It's more complex than it sounds in that line, but in a nutshell this is it... Any way I think all relationships are complex if you look at them in a certain way and incredibly simple if looked at in another way. for me, it is incredibly simple in the sense that nothing in it threatens our sense of love and comfort and friendship. So I guess what I'm saying is, in return for that, I'll put up with any complications. Update coming soon.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Max's shortest love story

Max broke her personal love story record today.

The Sage and I met for lunch. Max was late (she usually is) and halfway through the main course she came half running in her afternoon heels (they're an inch shorter than her evening ones), half giggling.

She sat next to TS and gave him the biggest, longest, tongue-est smooch ever while I first stared blatantly and then pretended to remove a huge non existent pepper corn from my roast chicken. A few long, mortifying moments later S entered the cafe.

Now this S is great company the first time you meet but 2 meetings later you notice he's exceptionally hard to get rid of. He'll call you for coffee twice a day and knock on your door every time he's in the area (which, you soon notice, seems to be almost always). He'll invite himself in for a coffee and will stay till long after dinner. He'll ask if he can come along to that party you're going to later tonight.

These days I tell him I'm living in Newcastle a lot of the time. Doing a placement at Mslexia magazine. When I bump into him on the street my default response has become to say I just got off the train from Newcastle or I'm on my way to catch a train to Newcastle. It's got to a point where he doesn't even notice I have nothing but a 6 inch purse on me.

He walked in and I knew the reason behind Max's love story with The Sage. S has shown up at Max's door thrice this week and she's just about had enough. But Max being Max she can't say it to him.

TS enjoyed himself thoroughly though. After 3 seconds of shock and about 2 more seconds of pretending to push her off a wee bit he really got into it...and boy were they into it.

So guess who got stuck making conversation with S (yes, of course he invited himself to our table. He was looking for one victim and he found three!).

I thought (for a long time) that he was probably lonely. Maybe he didn't really know too many people here. I met his Spanish flatmate (s) and they seem to be having a party in their flat almost twice a week. So now we know why he turns up two days less. And turns out he's normally organising them.

Then I thought maybe he just wants some different company. So another few months went inviting him in, then struggling 6 hours later to get him out.

Now I've given up. I guess that makes me nasty. I tell myself I tried.

So we talked about the weather and his next party and his love for French girls (although I don't think he's ever really had a girlfriend. After being "single and ready to mingle" for over a year now, I sympathise completely) and who makes the best cappuccino in town (just for the record, his pick was Starbucks. Personally, I'm not big on Starbucks. I like Nero or Tinderbox better).
Eventually I went to the ladies room for a full 25 minutes (Max and TS were still glued together, taking only 4 minute gaps in between to breathe and drink some of their lemonade) I came back to find him saying his good byes (of course I went back behind the pillar till he was outside). I discovered he'd got the impression they were getting ready to leave, go find themselves a room with a bed somewhere.

So that was Max's shortest relationship to date 4 hours and 27 minutes (it was a long lunch) in total. But perhaps enough snogging to beat her month long one (with the Pakistani American exchange student) hollow.

Pictures and links: linked from Flickr, not mine so please visit the lovely photographers of these photos:

Mslexia: it's a writing magazine I love reading. Too bad its only quaterly though. You'll also find quite a bit of writing inspiration (see the New Writing section) on the website.

Newcastle: That's the Millenium Bridge, where a special someone and I walk many many nights (I'm meeting him soon so you'll read about him soon).

Monday, 25 August 2008

Intro to The Sage

Yesterday my best friend Maxine (aka Max, forensic student, glamour loving, always in trouble) had her graduation ball and so I lounged around at home for a bit, watching Olympics closing ceremony, cheering for Britain, writing furiously. Then I met my friend, "The Sage" at the bar for some good ol' fashioned drunkenness.

The Sage (so named for his beyond human ability to be effortlessly smooth and sane even when seriously drunk) is my personal, available -anytime agony aunt. Except, he's uncle. I can't remember how I made decisions before I met him 4 years back! Its nice to have someone sane around you, no?

The Sage is the man who gets drunk first and still beats us all at any booze game (he also gets us all the cabs home). He always knows when the shit's gonna hit the fan and what we should do before that. Wise beyond his 24 years, The Sage is the coolest of the cool...

"Which bag should I buy" (and other questions of a similar nature) is the only question to which I have ever received a blank stare from him, followed by a dull "idunno" . But for that, there's Max.

Celebrating summer, we went for a run at 9.30pm (its already getting dark sooner and I'm dreading the winter). If there's one thing TS is lovingly devoted to, its his daily run. When he can, he drags Max and me with him (otherwise we're the usual dessert loving, gym avoiding, crisp stuffing 20 somethings. How man y are there of the other kind?).

While running we discuss the longish trip we're planning the day my flat contract expires here. The 6th of September. As mentioned before, I live in two places. Mostly belonging in both, sometimes belonging to neither. In November I'll pack my bags and head to the cool but not cold Home Base I for a few months. The place I was born, the place I live in several months a year, the place of family and laughter. Instead of taking out a new lease, as initially planned, The Sage, Max and (maybe) a special someone have decided to go around the UK, visiting friends, appreciating this place we call home and don't really bother to explore. How awesome is that gonna be!? TS and I have another month before we graduate though, so for the first half of the trip (we hope) we'll also be working on our dissertation.

After a massive dinner (TS cooked. I'm a trainee chef in his kitchen, I only do the dishes) we head to Corynthian, catch up with some friends from uni, get drunker than we care to admit and walk home with aching feet and an exceptionally good know, it was one of those pleasingly tipsy evenings...

Sometime before we doze off we call Max, have a slurred conversation with her and pass out before we've cleared the bed (TS wakes up at some point in the night and clears it so he can finally rest his head on a pillow instead of my copy of Staying Alive: Real poetry for unreal times). Max drags us out of bed at 3.30pm for some breakfast and all the gossip from last night.

Tomorrow I'm meeting my dissertation supervisor and I have nothing new to say to him. I half panic but still go with Max and TS to his place in the West End where we'll spend the day playing on the Wii, cracking bad jokes, planning the trip. That's a good life, eh?

A Day in Three Parts

The House of The Sage

A bedroom above a bar
A yellow soccer shirt thrown in a bundle over the couch
A laptop left on, Warcraft on pause
A silver bar blade on the study desk
A bottle of D&G aftershave near the door
A table top adorned with vodka bottles and bartending accessories
A gym bag open and messily packed
Three pairs of jeans on the floor
Chicken bones in the dustbin
A view of the river, twinkling lights

The surprises it held

A mugging in the morning
A little argument
A big apology
Too much sushi
Writing to the rhythm of a whirring fan
A bed sheet for a leg warmer
Memories of a violent movie
A glass full of lemon concentrate
A bucket full of vodka
A dream that made me giggle
Too many hot and spicy chicken wings
A FAT MONDAYS poster on the wall

The story of a girl

She walked in
Everyone watched her while pretending to
Clear the counter
Pick up a fallen pencil
Look for the car keys
Order a ham n cheese

You want some coffee, sweetie
He asks her

He makes space next to him

Is she his girlfriend?
He kissed her forehead did you see?
And they're holding hands.
Does Claire know?
Why her? She's not even pretty.
Claire was hot.

Yes, please, she says
Cappuccino would be great

His hand rests comfortably on her thigh

Are those torn pants she's wearing?
Christian said she's staying in his room.
Look at the way he looks at her.
I don't think she's shaved her legs properly.
I like her pink bra, though.


He leans closer to her

Do you think she likes him too?
Must be. Look at them.
He took her shopping yesterday.
I heard he paid for a lot of it too.
And when he had work, Big Ben took care of her.

Yes, one spoon please.

She smiles back
Hand on his back

She's so quiet, she's a bit odd.
Last time she was here he kissed her.
He doesn't really fit into his circle
You know, with us.
He's so protective of her.
Look at them laughing.
Not enough for someone like him, don't you think?

Thank you.
The coffee looks perfect.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Opening Lines

I’m sitting in a small room in the west of Scotland looking out of my window at a view of rolling greens and grand stone buildings with pointed tops. The view from a room is almost as important as the room itself- specially when it's a small, study size room and an airplane size bathroom. And no, those rolling greens are not hills, but gardens that belong to an old university. This city I call home (well, partially home, but we’ll get to that in a moment) has two beautiful art shops, a very bad reputation for crime, and is romantic in the way that thunderstorms are romantic.
Let’s call it Home Base II

Home Base I is on the other side of the world. Well, almost. It’s in a country of extremes and myths. It’s a city by the sea where the warm, salty breeze caresses your face and totally fucks your hair; where the sound of the sea can be heard over the screaming traffic (sometimes); and where it is impossible to apply blush without it turning to oil within 4 minutes of stepping outside.

The obvious common factor, besides me living in both of them, is, of course, that the heavy winds routinely render umbrellas useless. Oh, and they both sport magnificent stone buildings designed by the British.

Almost all my friends, boyfriends, mistakes, and decisions have been made (and changed) in the life that has unfolded between long slow flights, lots of drunken Saturday nights, and too many questions.

This is the view from where I stand.