Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Paris was right - it has been ages since I was here and excuses I have none. I've been devoting my attention to getting back into the swing of working for a living again following several months travelling in South East Asia (see Que Sera Sarah).
- Be here now,
- Be Me,
- Be Loved.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Crikey, it's been a while, hasn't it? I can only assure you that things have been very busy here in sunny Sarsea, and that I have been frantically planning the experience of a lifetime (or the first of many such experiences) - my travels to South East Asia for three months - Huzzah!!
Of course, the downside to my trip is that my blog here will stop for a while (plus ca change, I hear you cry!). But never fear my ardent little readers - and my ardent big ones. No, that sounds wrong - I am starting a special NEW blog, just for my travels. Don't say I never do anything for you.
I'm still working on the template for the new blog. Well, I say template, but I mean name. All my other names came really easy, but if you have any ideas, let me know. I would say don't take the piss, but I know my readers well enough to know that's a complete waste of time.......
Peace out, ma bloggers.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I am in the process of losing weight. It's official.
It started with a conversation about self-esteem with a friend of mine, the wonderful Steve Hender, who is also one of the best motivational coaches I know. Ok, to be fair, he's one of the only motivational coaches I know, but I am minded that this does not detract from his inspirationability. Yes, I just made that up.
Steve himself lost about 5 stone over a period of some months (I'm a little sketchy on detail), and hanging out with him has led me to completely rethink my self-perceptions and capabilities - which has proved to be a good thing, both personally and professionally over the last few months. As a result, at our last meeting we got talking about losing weight.
"I'm struggling with the mirror thing," I told him as we sipped coffee - Steve's personal obsession after real ale - in my favourite writing haunt, the Greenhouse Kitchen.
"Hmmmm," he murmured, "Interesting."
He sent me an appraising look.
'The Mirror Thing' is an exercise in self-esteem where, every day, you have to stand in front of your mirror - completely naked - look at your body, and say, "Not bad." And you have to mean it. I've been doing the Mirror Thing every day since February and I really struggle to mean that Not Bad. Most often it comes out in an icy tone that positively drips sarcasm onto my bedroom carpet (where it sizzles nastily through my medium shag-pile - it's melted a small hole through to the floorboards).
I explain this to Steve.
"Why can't you mean it?" He asks.
"I don't know......" My eyes slide towards the window as my voice trails off into middle earth.
"But if you did know," he insists, "Why would it be?"
I laugh. I love it when he says this.
"I guess I've been wanting to lose some weight for ages, so every time I look in the mirror, I remember that I want to lose weight and I guess I feel dissatisfied."
(As I write this, a man walks past the Greenhouse Kitchen window in a tan suit and hat and brown and white spatz - he looks like Bugsy Malone with glasses. No word of a lie.)
"You've been wanting to lose weight for ages?" He repeats.
"So why don't you?" he asks.
I stare at him for a moment, "Erm......"
I start to smile.
"So, you want to?" Steve prompts.
"Yes!" I decide, feeling lighter already.
I haven't weighed myself since I was in my teens and I'm now 32 years old. Scales have not been my friend. But, following a prompt from Steve, the following Saturday, I set my internal GPS on a route to Knight and Lee and buy my first ever set of scales.
The following day I have a long bath in preparation for my first big weigh-in. As I step, shivering onto the scales (with cold, not anticipation - the Loft has no central heating) I'm nervous.
The silver dial sparkles as it informs me that I weigh 12 stone. According to the BMI charts on my kitchen noticeboard, this means I'm officially a porker (that's science speak, you might have to look it up).
So, here it is. The plan. Steve has reliably informed me that goals have to be SMART (I'm not going to jargonise you to death here, if you haven't heard of it look it up - or accept my word that it means you have to set very clear targets for yourself to maximise your chances of succeeding).
By 30th April, I want to weigh 10st 7lbs. There, I've said it. It's out there. It counts.
I want to lose a stone and a half, following which I will set another target, based on how well I did at achieving this one. I started to watch what I was eating following my first weigh-in, which was on the 15th March and am currently weighing in at 11st 7lbs.
My next step is serious exercise. It would be handy if I was dating as I always tend to exercise then, but as that kind of ride is out of the question, I'm looking for a cheap, second-hand bike. It's got be cheap because I'm still saving for Malaysia. First stop Freecycling - ptp.
So, wish me luck. Watch this space. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I'll be occupying less of it.
Monday, March 30, 2009
There's something about this quote that captures my late night, wistful-at-the-edges state of mind.
I've taken Jimmy B's advice - just another on the list of things to thank him for, including for the oh-so-welcomed comments here - and invested in a bottle of Bells whisky (the sassenach takes note of her recent spelling lessons). If you've never dabbled in this sip of scottish heaven, do it now. It's the late night writer's best friend for a reason and my early hours cigarettes have been waiting on a glass of Bell's as company, I realise, since I first took nicotine to my lungs.
While on the subject of Jimmy - I've recommended him before and I'll do it again. Follow the link on the right and you'll understand why. His recent posts on his wife and father showcase perfectly what the blogosphere is for. Keep up the good work Jimmy. I'm sorry I don't have the chance to comment in your pages more often, but I continue to lurk silently in the shadows of your site, and besides, you have more than enough company on your comments page. In fact, if I wasn't so sweetly inebriated, I'd probably be jealous.
Now, back to my personal quest for the perfect punchbag, and I'm not talking about my ex's.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I have an article to write and a press release.
There's an email from my best friend in my inbox from over a week ago that I haven't even read yet, let alone answered.
I have a stack of work a mile high and about fifty books to read.
I am fighting a war of attrition with my housework.
I need to book a flight and sort out jabs, passports and who knows what else for a trip to Malaysia.
Yet I'm still writing my blog instead of dealing with my commitments.
A voice in my head says, "What are you doing, Dave?"
Building on an ever outwardly spiralling cycle of avoidance, I spend most of the evening at the cinema with my friend Stephen. We go to see The Watchmen.
I enjoy it immensely, apart from an absurd 15 minutes when it seems as though the Director popped out for a few cigarettes and left the janitor in charge to co-ordinate the most terrible sex scene I've ever seen in my life. In the main though, it's visually intriguing, compelling entertainment, with some great characters - albeit they were probably even greater in the graphic novel.
Equally, if not more enjoyable than the film is the brief dissection of it afterwards with Steve, who read the graphic novel as it came out in the mid-80's when he was 15.
"I remember being sat in the playground next to my friend, who was really into science, and asking him, 'Is it really possible to exist in more than one body at once?'"
"It was the perfect age to read them."
As we walk through Gunwharf to the taxi rank, I interrupt him as I stare at the scantily clad females walking past in various states of undress and several different neon colours.
"Is there an eighties re-union happening here, or is this really how people are dressing now?" I ask.
"This is really how they are dressing now," Steve replies, barely glancing at the jailbait striding past us clutching faux confidence, and if it's survived this far, the last moments of their virginity.
"Shit." I answer, "I feel like I just arrived from Mars."
By the time I reach home, I feel a sinking sense that the world has gone to hell in the proverbial basket of hand. We're all doooooooooooomed. I cheer myself vaguely by reminding myself it was ever thus.
My life has too much in it and I am still locked into the habit of accepting more. Along with Ben & Jerry's, it's one of my hardest habits to break. Well, that and a habit of falling for the wrong guy. Or maybe the right guy in the wrong universe (if you're a believer in the parallels alongside us, that is).
The problem is that so much of the work I'm offered is just so damn interesting. The other problem is that it that I'm rarely getting paid for the interesting stuff. Fortunately there's a way through this, to achieve, as the great Sally Jones always advises to make this chaos work for me.
Of course, the main issue is that in order to achieve that I'm going to have to, yep, you've guessed it. Do more work.
This is Sarah, reporting from the world at large, signing out to commit herself to her ever-expanding workload. It may be a late one. I need that whisky now.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I have a friend who when asked about her religious beliefs always answers with a rueful smile, "The Lord and I have not been on speaking terms for quite some time, and I do not expect that to change anytime soon."
When I broke up with a long ago ex partner - after finding he had been cheating on me for weeks - it felt as though my heart had been ripped out through my mouth by a long-nailed demon with severe DT's. I remember sitting in a confused and weeping heap on the kitchen floor of my old haunt, The Heights, and trying to find someone, something at which to aim my impotent pain and fury.
I blamed the ex: but he had acted in a completely predictable manner, doing to me what I knew he had done to so many other women before me. I understood why he behaved as he did and whilst I am not sure that to understand is to forgive, to understand certainly makes it harder to bloody judge.
I blamed myself: but I had made a series of choices in good - if foolishly placed - faith, leading with my heart and not my head. It had been very beautiful with him in moments, and the price of intense beauty? Intense pain.
So I turned to the Universe, to God It/Her/Him-self, and I blamed It/Her/Him: but it's hard to maintain a sense of great vengeance and furious anger with a concept you don't believe in. Or a lasting conversation. Try imagining a pink elephant in a bowler hat (yes the bowler is vital to this exercise) sat in the corner and ask it/her/him for counsel and advice - then follow the advice the elephant gives you - and you'll see what I mean.
Gradually, and with many more heartbreaks, large and small, in between, I have come to believe that the point of pain and anger is to experience it, to sit with the emotions and try to do no harm while under their spell, but ultimately to use these feelings to understand better both myself and those around me.
I haven't felt much in the way of heartbreak for a while; I'm still avoiding that line of questioning, and of fire. Yet, the splashbacks that spray so broadly when the shit hits the fan in the lives of those I love finds its way to me anyway, and late last night, it did exactly that - when a friend told me some bad news concerning her family.
This morning, I find myself angry again, shaking my metaphorical fists at the metaphorical heavens and finding not even metaphorical relief for my curses. I may have put barriers around my own heart that no man will penetrate for some time, but my heart holds an open door if pain enters the lives of those I love. And I find myself back at that point of trying to understand why these things happen, and what I am meant to do with this helplessness when they happen.
My NLP trainer - latest t-shirt will read 'Steve Hender Accentuated My Positive' - has lent me a truck load of material that talks about dealing with anger, disappointment and pain. Jack Canfield says that underneath any feeling of anger is fear and that in order to deal with the anger, you have to work through your emotions and find the fear.
So what's the fear beneath my anger?
Maybe my fear is that if the world is this randomly cruel sometimes, then we are never safe; everything we treasure - the very things that we believe define us - can be stripped from us at any time, can leave us shivering and alone in a new reality that we had never dreamed could exist in our deepest nightmares. And all we have as human beings to arm us against that fear is the love we feel in any given moment, the bonds that lie between our fragile hearts, and the responsibility to cherish those bonds, right now, where and when it matters, because right now is all there is. And everything else is just an illusion, fools' gold.
And whilst the poet in me catches a glimpse of the glory of this human existence, this very human condition - our only meaning found in our transience, our appreciation of joy only truly understood against the experience of sorrow, and the inherent loss within love that makes our greatest gift at once our greatest sacrifice - the human in me struggles at these moments when the plans of a God I do not believe in (but talk about a lot, nonetheless) become personal, when its/her/his fingers move the lives of those I love as if they were mere pawns on a board.
I know the Buddhists would say that attachment is 90% of the cause of suffering. One of the reasons I find it hard to be a good Buddhist is that I believe attachment is also 90% of the cause of true joy. The aspiration for me has always been not to reduce my attachment to the world, to people, to beauty or to love, but to increase it, equally, so that I might feel the same compassion and care towards anyone I meet as I do toward those I have come to love.
Today, I witness my own pain (I miss you, Kate, I miss you) at the suffering of just a small number of people I care about and I wonder how anyone's heart could stretch to love the whole world that way, and how anyone's mind could carry the weight of living with the sort of sorrow we experience when someone we love is hurt, multiplied by, well, just about everyone.
I'm nowhere near that kind of nirvana yet. I'll spend the day working myself into a frenzy to avoid my feelings and I don't doubt I'll spend tonight in a wine-induced coma to do the same. I've got a long way to go on my Buddhist journey.
And the good Lord and I? Well, we've never so much as occupied the same room. I doubt we'll start speaking now.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Hard men are good to find and good friends are indispensable. Last night G allowed me to howl like a rabid wolf in his room (oo-er) for ten minutes, while he giggled at me from the other side of the room, shouting occasional encouragement, such as 'Yeah! Get it out of your system!!'
Then he introduced me to this, allowing us to set aside my pseudo sorrows for the rest of night and laugh ourselves silly on Damson Gin while speculating on the who's and how's that we would sing Lily Allen's latest to. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did, but I doubt it.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I love that our conversations are wide-ranging and eclectic, moving easily and effortlessly from questions of practical philosophy to frivolous gossip and girlish speculation. One of my favourite conversations concerned one of the obscenely good looking young barmen at the Slug and Lettuce, toward whom I traditionally begin the evening with polite respect and end with somewhat salivating flirtation:
The young man in question was collecting glasses at an adjacent table towards the end of the night as I turned and glanced toward him, then double-took.
I turned swiftly to Sally with what, in hindsight, I hope was a hushed whisper.
"Would you look at his arse? How can it be so simultaneously plump and yet tight?"
Sally rolled her eyes, grinning, and checked him out. She frowned as she stared.
"Yes," she answered thoughtfully, "I see what you mean. It's lovely."
We gazed in the same direction for a moment in silence.
"I think he's on the other bus," she declared, with a soft smile to me.
"Hmmmm," I replied, not shifting my stare.
A minute or so passed in silence before I met Sally's eyes again and asked with intensity, "Do you think that means he would mind if I asked to touch his bum?"
Sally nodded, thinking it through.
"No," she answered finally, "Definitely not. I mean, it's a compliment, isn't it?"
THE TRULY GORGEOUS,
XXX SALLY JONES XXX
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Lynda stayed at mine and we went for a long breakfast, the morning papers, some more politics and some serious munchies. We took a long walk along the seafront and had a gently flowing, rambling conversation about life, the Universe and everything (including a bit more politics). It turns out Paul was right, and the greatest of these is love.
I dropped Lynda off at the Peace Cafe, bumped into the infinitely knowledgable, almost qualifies as cheating if you have him on your team in a pub quiz, Steve Hyde, and left Lynda to book herself a slot with the sparklingly magical Pixie herself, Sue George (book your slot at the cafe on 9283 0544 for her next appearance in March), had a quick chat with her gorgeous starman of a husband, Dixie, and headed off to the office for a few hours work.
I spent the evening eating pizza with Pixie and Dixie and giggling in delight with the beautiful GJ, who's on a flying stop over from Spain. All in all, priceless. I sigh contentedly and leave you with this.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
In my afternoon of recovery, I managed to watch most of series 2 of The West Wing. Is it me, or is Sam unbearably cute and does every girl like me (make of that idea what you will) want to grow up to be CJ Craig?
In other news, my cat has a personality disorder, which makes us the most officially suited couple of cats in Southsea.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
To celebrate my surprise hour of free time, I head to the Greenhouse Kitchen, my new local haunt. I love this place. It's a good size, the upstairs is always flooded with light (and in the mornings often completely abandoned, but for me) and the food and staff are fab. In addition, for a girl who has just discovered that her portfolio career is based on a mobile office (I love the novelty of unfamiliar jargon), there is a free wifi connection that the owners are happy for you to use for hours on end, providing you allow them to refresh your coffee every so often. Bliss.
On arrival today, I pass the time of day with the co-owner, before heading upstairs.
"There's one table left up there," he says, smiling," Have you heard of the Red Hats?"
I stare at him, polite smile on my face, assuming I've misheard.
"Sorry? The what-hats?"
"The Red Hats?" I shake my head. "They're through the back," he grins, "Sneak through and have a look!"
So I do.
In the back room, approximately 20 women of middle age or more are sat in a circle, talking and laughing at full volume. The energy in the room immediately makes me smile. I have a theory that a group of women (do women have a collective noun? Do men?! Should we invent them if not, or even so?) who are well and positively bonded can achieve just about anything due to this magical energy they exude. Just a theory, but the Red Hats have this energy in full amounts.
And have I mentioned that they are wearing purple dresses or trouser suits, and all of them are crowned with a different flamboyant red hat? I kid you not.
A quick Google search reveals that the Red Hat Society was started in 1998 in the USA and was partly inspired by the poem by Jenny Joseph, '"When I am Old." The members are women aged over 50 who regularly meet for tea and frivolity, and wear, you've guessed it, purple outfits with red hats. I find myself urging the years to pass so that I can join them. In fact, I catch myself imagining a Junior Red Hats Society for younger women who also want to defy society's expectations in the interests of having fun. Women are great.
When I take my seat, they are trying to work our who in the group has paid their subscriptions twice. Everyone is cooing loudly with their neighbours or across the table. Purses are being checked and amounts being calculated.
"Ooooh! It's me!" Comes a voice, from a lady looking bashful. A loud hoot of collective joy ensues. It turns out the woman who has overpaid is the treasurer.
"Well, it's lucky we found out," says another, "She needs the money now she's retired!"
Another wave of laughter sweeps the room. I cannot help but start giggling myself, attracting a couple of winks and smiles.
Needless to say, I'm so taken with them, I don't get around to reading my paper.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
It has been almost a week, how can this be. Worse still, I'm officially 'working' right now so can't spend any time here anyway, but thought it was particularly important to share what I consider to be the best casual use of a cartoon cigarette in a music video - To Date. You might think there's a lack of competition in this category (and the NME awards certainly did this year when I suggested it to them, along with my other suggested categories, Best Use of a Padded Bra by a Pre-Adolescent Popster in 2008 (Eoghan Quigg) and Best Smouldering Eyes on a Male Vocalist Ever (Caleb Followill)).
Anyhoo. Enjoy. Watch out for the smoke, dog.
Heartless - Kanye West
Thursday, February 5, 2009
The world felt, looked and smelled (no, not smelled, in this part of the city it smells like a brothel's laundry) like an inspiring, welcoming and beautiful place and I wanted to catch it on my phone.
What with the snow and all it's been a funny old week. By tomorrow night I'll have done four interviews and written five articles in the space of three days, which is a record, even for me. But I have met some ace people, each with their own way of inspiring, and each with their own particular passion. I'd love to tell you more but obviously, you'll have to wait for the magazine to come out and read all about it yourself.
It suddenly occurred to me last night that I've got my first paid gig as a proper feature writer and I haven't even celebrated yet! So, I've decided to save it until they're published and then have a little party at mine to celebrate. And you're all invited. Terms and conditions apply*
*If you don't know where I live or where to find me at 3pm on a Wednesday, you can't come. You've got until publication date to find out one or the other.......
Monday, February 2, 2009
(big points to anyone who can give me some trivia on this one...)
I don't know if the change is good or bad, but know that it is, all the same. Life apparently does not need my perceptions of it to be its true bad self (literally? or street? Maybe a bit from a, a bit from b). Which turns out to be just as well, seeing as my perceptions change all the time, seeing the same streets, faces and days here as sometimes liberating in moments of new found or rediscovered beauty, sometimes choking me in a stranglehold of over-familiarity, depending on my mood, the sunshine, the number of cups of coffee I have drunk.
I notice these shifts in my perceptions of the same things more and more. But their transience does not make me trust my feelings less, or give them fewer moments of my consideration to try to learn what they may mean, what they try to tell me when they come back, again and again.
Instead, I try to appreciate my feelings as I do the snow, revelling in the entirety, the novelty, the sheer discomfort of its beauty, knowing that as sure as the sun will return, every last trace will soon be gone.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I feel better.
Now how the hell are you?
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Once a day Pauline would open the cupboard and she would reach for the gonads of Jesus, said Harry Potter. He flew on his broomstick up to the crotch of Antioch where the pubic lice of Satan were waiting to take him to the French Riviera and teach him to paint. His idealistic mind opened up a whole new dimension. It was intriguing to see Madonna's nappy, filled to the brim with steaming shit, on the washing line of Gloria Hunniford.
Well, blow me, said Gloria, when she saw the pants there, This would never have happened if the car hadn't rolled helplessly from the cliff into the foam below the surface of Mars, which is actually made from the sperm of Satan. This turned out to be good news for God, as she had completely forgotten where she had hidden this, and had been worried for the last few thousand millennia that Satan would find a way to reproduce.
However, little did she know that the duvet was made from clouds and the pillows from faery dust. It truly had to be the best night's sleep ever, only disrupted by the sudden attack of a swarm of burning y-fronts. Don't worry, said Harry Potter, suddenly reappearing, It's a magical infestation of Fire Pants, and he whipped out his wand.
A Heather and Sarah Original Story. Not to be reproduced without permission of the authors.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Nathaniel: You were brave to face him.
David: Not really. There was a guard.
Nathaniel: Doesn’t matter. I’m proud of you.
David: I thought it would set me free but it didn’t change anything except now I know he really is insane.
Nathaniel: You’re missing the point.
David: There is no point. That’s the point. Isn’t it.
Nathaniel: Don’t give me this phony existentialist bullshit. I expect better from you. The point is right in front of your face.
David: Well, I’m sorry but I don’t see it.
Nathaniel: You’re not even grateful, are you?
David: Grateful? For the worst fucking experience of my life?
Nathaniel: You hang onto your pain like it means something, like it’s worth something. Well, let me tell you, it’s not worth shit. Let it go. Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine.
David: Well what am I supposed to do?
Nathaniel: What do you think? You can do anything you lucky bastard, you’re alive! What’s a little pain compared to that?
David: It can’t be so simple.
Nathaniel: But what if it is?
Excerpt from Six Feet Under, Season 4, 'Untitled.'