Week 20: In which our hero celebrates an anniversary

peace tree

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.

mini zen garden

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.

mac cover

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.

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Week 19: In which our hero takes up gambling

the winning ticket

Well, as you can probably tell from the illustration, I ain’t a winner (yet). I know, I know, the chances of winning the lottery are astronomical, and really I don’t expect to win, but as a way of exacting massive change in a very short period of time the possibilities can’t be denied. But then again, that’s why everyone does it I suppose.

Actually this whole gambling thing came about initially as a way of getting me a car. I figured that the easiest way for me to get mobile would be to win myself a vehicle, as it’s going to take me ages to save up for one. A quick search online found loads of competitions that you can enter for free, so I went for it. Of course my inbox won’t be happy with me when the spam starts rolling in, but such is the nature of these things (there being no such thing as a ‘freebie’).

I also put in half a dozen entries to the Fuller’s Brewery to win a mountain bike, seeing as I’d drank the beer and had the bottle tops anyway. I even hand delivered them to save myself some money. I’ve already got a bike, so if I win one I’ll probably sell it and put the money towards a car. Also it seemed right that I should get something from the last lot of beer I had in the house. There’s a certain balance to that somehow methinks.

Still off the drink. It’s been ten days now. It hasn’t been easy, as everywhere I turn there’s something that’s stressing me out. Seriously, home, work, play, all of them are giving me aggro at the moment, and I’d give anything to be able to switch off just for a while and relax. But I know I’d regret it the next day, so I’m sticking to my guns.

Did a few more days meditation this week, which is good. The more I can do the better. And I had my first meeting with the guy who’s going to have a go at designing my board game for me. It was all very positive. Now I just need to do a bit more research and we’ll be on our way.

So it’s going ok for the moment. I’ve also done a new recipe this week, as it’s been a while, and maybe next week I can get back to doing some script work. Been in a bit of a funk this past month or so and it’s time I dragged myself out of it. Being in a funk really is an unproductive way to be.

TTFN.

Kiki’s Sweet and Spicy Quinoa Salad

This is a surprisingly sweet and tasty little concoction, inspired by the recipe for Piyadassi Purnahana from the excellent book Buddhist Peace Recipes. If you haven’t got it check it out. Not all the recipes are vegan, but the ones that are are fantastic, and the rest you can adapt fairly easily.

kiki's sweet and spicy quinoa salad

1 yellow/orange bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp walnuts (or cashews)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp chopped ginger
a pinch of cayenne
1 tsp unrefined cane sugar
2 tsp of honey
juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 a lemon)
8-10 button mushrooms
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tbsp sultanas
some olive oil

First, marinate the button mushrooms (chopping any that are too large in half) in the balsamic vinegar for 15-20 minutes, whilst pre-heating the oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Place the pepper and onion in a large bowl. Mix the cumin, paprika, ginger, cayenne and sugar in a bowl with a dash of olive oil, then pour over the pepper and onion and mix thoroughly.

Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium/high heat. Fry the pepper and onion mix for 10 minutes stirring until both have softened (the onion more so than the pepper)

Add the chopped cashews, honey and lime juice, and fry for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whilst frying, once the oven is up to temp, put the mushrooms in a casserole dish into which you’ve put a little olive oil to stop them sticking, and bake for 15 minutes.

Finally stick the quinoa and sultanas in a pan, cover generously with water, and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes until quinoa is done, drain, then set aside to cool.

Combine all the ingredients and either enjoy straight away or let cool completely to be had the next day.

Week 18: In which our hero makes some significant advances towards a Brand New Life (or, Movies, mash and meditation)

My but what an ‘interesting’ week it’s been. Mostly I was working, five days out of seven getting up at 5am, but I still managed to squeeze in some newness; new thought, new action, and new intention. And a recipe, which was nice. First the food;

Mustard Mash

It’s probably a bit cheeky to describe this as a recipe, as really it’s just a way of making mashed potato a little less boring, but still it’s worth sharing so here goes.

mustard mash

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
a splash of olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard

Cook and mash the potatoes in the usual way, in a pan of salted boiling water on a medium high heat, for 15-20 minutes or so (until potatoes are soft and mashable).

At the same time fry up the onion in a frying pan until they are soft and a little golden.

Mash the onion and whole grain mustard into the potato. Mix thoroughly and serve with a nice pie (I had mine with one of Clive’s pies, yum!) and enjoy.

Now, down to business!

beginning buddhism

I’ve actually been doing some meditating this week. Only a couple of times, but at least I’ve made the effort to go on that cushion and do it. It hasn’t been easy, as there’s a lot of noise around me at the moment which is very distracting (God bless your neighbours eh?), but ultimately it’s all good practice and can only help to strengthen my mindfulness. To that end I have been aided by a decision I made on Thursday.

I’ve decided to lay off the booze. Not just for a week, but for… I want to say forever, but I’m not going to jinx it. I’m just going to take it day by day. What happened was I was having a good day on Thursday. I felt good, I was energised, I went to Tai Chi in the evening, felt great after that… then I went and had some dirty dirty beer. I didn’t want to, it was just out of habit, and I regretted it later. That night in bed, a little bit pissed and unable to sleep, I decided to pack it in completely, and so far it’s going great. There’s an element of not knowing what to do with myself of an evening, and I was a bit ratty over the weekend dealing with a touch of withdrawal, but I feel good and very positive about the coming weeks. I even poured away the bit of wine I had left rather than finish it off in an effort “not to be wasteful” so things are looking good. 🙂

Also I’m starting to make progress in getting my board game off the ground. I’ve arranged to meet a lad next weekend to see about doing some designs for it. If all goes well maybe I’ll finally make some progress with it; then who knows, maybe in a few months time we can go into production. It’ll take me that long to get the cash together anyway. For now all I’ve got to do is do some style sheets for Saturday, to show how I want it to look. It’s all good.

And finally, I thought I’d share some links and videos with you that have been amusing me over the past week. First there’s The Cleveland Show, the hilarious Family Guy spin off. If you haven’t tried it give it a go; you won’t be disappointed. New episodes available every Monday. Thank you 4oD!

Ever wondered how to professionally fold a t-shirt? Dave Gorman shows you how. Trust me, this is brilliant.

And my love of exploding things led me to this.

TTFN. 😉

Week 17: Fun, finance and freebies

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.

the big buddha

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.

day 3 - this is your life

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.

comrade kiki

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. 🙂

TTFN