I missed you guys. No really, I did. In fact, c’mon, group hug!! Everyone, just bring it in…
…ahh… there you go. That’s better. Now, back to business…
It’s strange having a week off from the internet. To begin with you don’t know what to do with yourself. Normally I’d get up, check my e-mails, make some moves on itsyourturn, check flickr for new comments, see what activity there’s been on my blog, and then round it all off by catching up on any new posts on the many blogs I follow around the world.
But with no internet, no TV, and no music (I relaxed this rule on and off as the week went by), everything suddenly becomes very quiet and expansive. You end up with a lot of time on your hands. Admittedly, a lot of that I filled with reading, but there’s only so much book you can handle.
My first morning (relax, I’m not going to do a full blow by blow of the week) I managed to shower, do a good yoga session, make food for the day (which involved cooking pasta and the sauce to go with it), cook a full English breakfast, AND wash the dishes, and I still left early for work. With all of the above internet activity I barely had time to shower and knock out a few sun salutations before I was scrambling for the door. I even had time to bake cookies on the last two mornings, ready for my Brighton photo shoot the next day (more about that in the next post).
And work was different too. Avoiding watching movies and not going on the internet freed up my brain to connect with the people around me. I was a lot less uncommunicative and monosyllabic, as I tend to be when I’m half watching something and someone asks me a question (I can only do one thing at a time well, and TV tends to really suck me in if it’s on – that’s why I avoid it).
And it made me go out more. On the two days I did have off work I went out one day to help at the Sivananda Centre building bunk beds for their upcoming teacher training course, and the other I spent out meeting friends and enjoying the glorious sunshine.
All in all we’re talking about Mindfulness. The act of being where you are, being aware of where you are, of what you’re doing, and being conscious of yourself as you go through life. (NB: If anyone’s interested, I thoroughly recommend reading Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana for some simple yet fascinating insights into how the mind works.) I was more concentrated, more focussed on what I was doing at any one time, and a heck of a lot calmer (in my mind) as I went about my day. It really was a most peaceful and positive experience which I’d recommend everyone try at least once.
Upon my return I found I had over 100 e-mails. 75 were porn spam, 20 were unsolicited marketing messages, 8 were solicited but general communications, and 3 were for me personally. Kind of says it all really. I don’t think I’ll be putting my computer on as much anymore. It certainly won’t be my default position from crawling out of bed first thing in the morning. I’ll be using it at my convenience, and not just to fill time. And when it’s not in use it’ll be off, and I’ll be doing something else. Life’s too short to spend it all in front of a computer screen.
Well, I know I said no more reports, but what the hell, when you’ve got something to say…
Let’s see, yesterday I celebrated 4 months off the booze. I’m no longer forcing myself not to drink, I just don’t feel like it. My test will come in a couple of weeks when I have been invited to a cocktail party (emphasis on the cocktails). Dunno what I’ll do, drink or not drink. I’ll figure it out on the day.
Went to see Inception last night. Not as dire as I thought it was going to be. Nor as amazing actually either. Just a good film that was a little slow and which I’m not bothered about seeing again. About usual for Christopher Nolan really.
About to start work on a new writing project. Got an idea for a book which, if it works, will invent a whole new genre. No details online as yet, keeping it very hush hush, but I am writing a very detailed outline for the first time ever. Normally I don’t bother as once I know what’s going to happen I get bored and move on, but I’m realising you need the detail to stay on track. Been trying to write a film script and it keeps veering all over the place as I haven’t pinned the middle down properly. I’m learning from my mistakes.
Going to a class on Buddhism tonight. Been waiting all year for the course to start. It’s like 8 weeks, and they do it 4 or 5 times a year, but every time they had one starting I was busy or I forgot it was on. Now things have converged to make me free, able and aware, so I’m going. Looking forward to it!
Also, off to see Diane Cluck at the weekend. Really looking forward to that. Bought two tickets months ago. Now I just need someone to go with me. Lets’ see…
Bit of a misnomer this one, as there’s not actually 3 oranges in it. The name actually refers to the 3 orange ingredients involved – carrots, sweet potato and oranges. I was going to try and squeeze the juice of 3 oranges in there (no pun intended) but I think that might have been overkill, so I settled for 2 instead.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, diced
splash of olive oil
500ml vegetable stock
250ml boiling water
zest of 1 orange
juice of 2 oranges (approx 200ml)
pinch of salt
In a large pan saute the onion in olive oil on a medium heat until soft. Add the orange zest and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the carrots, sweet potato, vegetable stock, water and pinch of salt, and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Take off heat and blend until smooth. Add orange juice, stir over a low heat for 1 minute, then serve. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
This soup is so nice it should have a restraining order. We had one like it when we were away on our retreat and everybody loved it. The orange just elevates it to a whole new level. Give it a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
I haven’t managed to do much this week. Night shifts once again, plus I’ve had no money. So all I’ve done really is sleep, and read, and be annoyed that I’ve missed out on all this glorious sunshine. But anyway…
I realised on Sunday night that it had been five years to the day that I’d given up smoking. It happened as I lay in bed one night. I’d just been reading Gandhi’s autobiography, and a part of it kept going through my mind. He said that if you can’t make a solemn vow to give something up you don’t really want to give it up. Now Gandhi knew a thing or two about self denial, and I really did want to give up smoking, but I didn’t want to make a solemn vow as I knew I’d break it. But then again that’s the point of a solemn vow, you make it so you won’t break it.
This debate went on in my head for quite a while until finally I’d had enough. In my head I swore upon the Universe that I would never touch tobacco again, and the strangest thing happened, I physically felt the world change! Quite literally, it was as if everything just shifted slightly, or maybe it was just me. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I can’t. All I know is since then I have only been in contact with tobacco three times, and them only because of other people. I will never smoke again, ever, and I know that for a fact.
Still off the drink too. Only been a couple of weeks (18 days) but I’m doing ok without it. Even passed one hell of a test on Thursday night. We were in the pub after Tai Chi when they were cleaning out the pipes, and they offered us the run off to drink. Basically, 4 pitchers of free booze, one each of lager, bitter, cider and Guinness. And I had a night shift the next day so I could have drank it all and slept ’til noon. Oh the irony! But, I resisted. Actually, it wasn’t as hard to do as you’d expect. I’m pretty much over drinking for now. The experience a couple of weeks ago has put me off. No idea if I’ll go back to it or not. I’m looking at doing a month without, then I’ll go from there. Who knows, that could be it for me. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m going to take a break from online life for a while. Just a week. Want to see if I’ve forgotten how to entertain myself. See you in 7 days.
An odd week this week, reflective of my lightly confused state of mind at the moment. I really don’t know where to start, so before I do, here’s a picture of Buddha for you to enjoy.
Now, let’s start with the fun. I went to see Avenue Q on Tuesday night. Got a couple of tickets for the bargain price of £45 from the Tkts Booth in Leicester Square. Good seats too: Stalls, row H, just off centre.
Now this is only my second musical, after going to see Legally Blonde for my birthday, but it didn’t disappoint. The part human/part puppet cast worked well – even though the actors were just walking around with the puppets on their hands, not trying to hide or anything, so you spent as much time looking at them as at the puppets – and the songs were good – though I couldn’t sing you one if I tried, unlike when I left legally Blonde – so over all it was well worth going to see, but there was one or two sticking points for me.
Personally I would have liked to have seen them work the puppets a little bit more. Often they’d be singing their heads off, doing all sorts of expressive head movements themselves, but just opening and closing the mouthes of the puppets, not really putting much life into the performance at all. What’s the point of having puppets if you’re not going to use them to their full potential? That said, the guy with the beard who played Trekkie Monster and one of the Bad Idea Bears really put his back into it, and gave us some of the funniest bits of the whole show, so hats off to him for that.
Also, and this is just weird, there was a Chinese character in the show (a person, not a puppet) played by some woman who very obviously wasn’t Chinese. Every time she was on stage I kept thinking “Couldn’t they find a Chinese woman to play that part? Are there no singing Chinese actors in London these days?” And who knows, maybe there aren’t; but I doubt it. In fact I bet you a fiver I could find one inside of a week.
I have an announcement to make. I am now officially old! Why? Because I’ve joined the pension scheme at work. Now I know what some of you are thinking, big whup, but for me it’s symbolic of something; a fundamental alteration of intent. By signing up I’ve finally admitted that maybe I’m not going to make it big in Hollywood, or invent something amazing, or just plain old win the Lotto (which I’ve bought tickets for twice this week). I’ve chosen to “not put my eggs in one basket” as the adviser said, but to hedge my bets, in my opinion, on the side of ‘failure’.
I know, I know, I’m being overly dramatic, but there is a real point here. I want to stop worrying about the future, not give in to those fears and start planning for it. After all, tomorrow never comes, there is only the now, so what am I planning for?
And I’ll tell you what else, I don’t like how that money, once it’s paid in, is gone for good. I won’t see any return on it until I retire. I can’t get it back at any point, it’s in there for life. This seems wrong to me. It’s my money, it’s not spent, if I want it back I should get it back, shouldn’t I? I’m telling you man, pensions, like insurance, is just one big racket. But hopefully I’ll have the last laugh. They say when I retire they’ll work out from what I’ve put in how much I’ll get each year for the rest of my life, based on how long they think I’ll live. What they don’t realise is, if i keep on with the Tai Chi, I’m going to live a hell of a lot longer than they think.
Still, I shouldn’t complain financially speak this week. I’ve enjoyed a shed load of freebies recently. I’ve had free massages from the lovely Sarah (Hi Sarah! *wave*) which were very relaxing, got a free physio check up (detailed previously) which helped me figure out what’s wrong with my legs/back, and I even got a free hair cut the other day (which included a wash, dry, and go in the vibrating chair) so over all I’m a bit ahead of the game… which is nice. However, we must remember: TANSTAAFL – There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Life has a way of balancing out, whether we like it or not. I just hope these were returns on previous ‘investments’, and not something I’ll have to pay for later.
Well, I did it. I sprung for First Class on the train yesterday. And if you don’t believe me, here’s the evidence.
£15 it cost me, and I can’t say it was worth the money. Ok, so the seats were nice and big, and you got free tea, coffee, and a packet of crisps, but I had to go fetch it myself because they were short staffed, and I had to have it black as they had no soya milk (not very vegan friendly, Virgin trains). Plus, since it was the weekend and any Tom, Dick and Harry (like me) can get a cheap upgrade, I had to move carriages twice; once when a bunch of lads with loads of beer and nothing but football on their minds came and sat next to me; and once because the tannoy system on the Quiet Carriage was (ironically) giving off a high pitched whine all the time. So in conclusion, First Class, not all it’s cracked up to be, but at least I tried something new, which makes this week a success. Happy with that.