Week 22: In which our hero discovers the many splendors of the anti-folk

Well I did it. One month without booze. And you know what, not as hard as I thought it would be. The second week was tough, but I didn’t know I was going to go a month then. The whole 30 day thing developed over time. Quite possibly, in fact, I couldn’t have gone a month if that’s what I’d set out to do. Then again, who knows?

Going to keep it going I reckon. For once one of my experiments has yielded actual tangible results. I never did feel any better/stronger/healthier when I went veggie, gave up smoking, cut out gluten, etc. but this time I do feel a lot better in my head for getting rid of drink. I’m more focussed, calmer (pause for a big laugh from those who know me), more positive (laughs again), and I just prefer the world this way. So let’s see how long it lasts. Got a big test coming up this weekend, a retreat with my Tai Chi group that is never short of beer, so we’ll see what happens.

Did hope to have a new thing for you this week, as I had a ticket to go see Laura Solon do her comedy show, but it was called off due to illness. However, as the title of this post suggests, I have been getting into me music a wee bit this week. And by that I mean I bought 9 albums and an EP, some of them at random, and not all of them ‘good’. But still, lots of outstanding tunes.

day 26 - kimya dawson!!!

Was already kind of into the anti-folk scene after hearing Kimya Dawson on the Juno soundtrack, and then going to see her live twice, but I got really into it because of a playlist I downloaded recently. So, off I went down Dada (the local record shop), iPod (and list of new bands to check out) in hand, and started buying random albums in bulk. One led to another, discoveries were made, advice was offered and taken, next thing I know I’ve got a massive stack of CDs to go through. And it’s not like I can afford it either. But what the hell, life’s too short eh?

I won’t give you a big list of who I bought (yet). Stay tuned, as later in the week I’m going to try and link to a downloadable playlist for you guys to check out. Gonna take me a few days to sort through everything and see what direction I want to go in, but hopefully I should have it up by Thursday. Check back then, it’s gonna be fabulous!

Oh, and to finish off here’s a little music video I found which is just the best thing ever; seriously!

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.

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 16: Chryslers, cash and crapulence

What on earth is that title about? Well…

1. I’m going to buy a car. After getting lifts home with a lad from work these recent weeks I’ve come to the undeniable conclusion that getting public transport with a bunch of mouth breathing mumblies really sucks ass, so I need a vehicle to get me from A to B: And that vehicle will be a Chrysler PT Cruiser! Why? Coz I like ’em, and no other reason. For once I’m going to buy something because it’s what I want, not just because it’s the sensible option, or because I can afford it. I think they look cool, and I think I’d look great driving one, so I’m gonna get me one. Now If I can just find one for under three grand…

2. Y’know I said I was going to do the week without any money, well it turns out that that ain’t as easy as it sound. Not that I really had to buy anything (see point 3. for further detail), but just having no money in your pocket is kind of weird. It’s much more comforting to have just a little something jingling about down there, just in case you fancy a coffee or something when you’re out and about. So I cashed in my coppers jar – a whopping total of seven quid – just so I’d be liquid again… and then promptly spent most of it on booze. Which brings me neatly to:

3. I’ve got to give up drinking! Not that I’m a raging alcoholic or anything, but I do enjoy a drink now and then (more now than then) and I’m well aware that it’s not good for you in any way, shape, or form. Also, I did manage to do a bit of meditating this week, and alcohol is not conducive to the practice of mindfulness (and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves!). So if I want to reach Enlightenment before I die I need to put it aside. But more than that, if I want to get out of bed in the morning without feeling like crap I need to give it up. Whichever way you slice it it needs to be done.

So, I’ve got a few things to be getting on with. I also this week did a new recipe with I’m very pleased with (see my previous post) and I’ve been enjoying lots of pictures of purple things (yeah, I find it a bit weird too!) so it’s been an interesting one. Next week more fun, with a trip to the theatre, some sound financial planning (man I’m getting old) and more musings no doubt. Stay tuned.

Step 1 : No more booze!

I can sit at home, drink beer, and watch DVDs ’til the cows come home; but it’s not very conducive to getting stuff done. So that’s it for me, no more booze.

To be honest I’ve been thinking this for a long time. I’ve got quite an addictive personality – I smoked cigarettes for nigh on 16 years (finally giving up completely on midnight Monday 23rd May 2005) and dope intermittently for a few years after that – so the only way I can take an extended break from stuff like that is with a blanket ban. I’ve got half a bottle of white in the fridge which I’ll finish off tonight (waste not want not) and then that’s me done.

I’m also thinking about positive changes as well (positive as in adding rather than subtracting). I think a bit of exercise every day would be a good idea. I already do Tai Chi, but if I’m honest I don’t practice as much as I should. Maybe twice a week if that (and one of those my weekly lesson). There’s a set of warm up exercises we do. If I could even do just them, or a bit of cycling, or even a short ‘constitutional’ once a day, I reckon it’d make a big difference.

Maybe I should do a short weekly report to keep track of things, days exercised, progress made, that sort of thing? Might motivate me a bit more to actually do stuff.