Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yesterday I dragged the dog through Rowntree Park and across the stray. The sun was shining diagonally through the low mist, and there was the strong stench of burning in the air. I had thankfully worn tall rubber boots, because we marched our way through tall, wet grass, following a cow trail and avoiding piles of earth. There are very few trees on the stray, just miles and miles of grassy, thistly, wild ground.
You could feel the sun on your face, but there was no heat in its light. Fall is here, and almost over perhaps, but the leaves are still falling, and it's never bitterly cold, and I hardly ever wake up to the sound of rain on my skylight.

Last weekend I was in Leeds again. Before we went I was told multiple times by various people to be charming, and I laughed, asking Aren't I always charming? Networking is not something I consciously do, and if I tried, I think I would be very bad at it. But, I am good at smiling, and looking interested at what people are saying, and asking them questions about themselves. People love to talk about themselves. I am not very good at talking about myself, so I try to get others to do it so I don't have to say much.
I am also OK at flirting. There was a dance at the Corn Exchange Saturday night that I had to attend, and the next day we all laughed and Steve said that this would be our new promoting technique- he would sit at the bar and drink beer, while I would dance on the dance floor. Everyone I danced with bought a comic the next day. I said it sounds like I'm getting the better part of the bargain, for I love to dance, and making people feel good about themselves is one of my specialties.

The Corn Exchange is this old building with a round roof, and inside there are three levels all looking down onto the bottom floor. There was a giant Christmas tree, which I thought was ridiculous, but then again, I am excited for December and being allowed to listen to Christmas music.

 I want to live on a narrow boat.

Dirty cities are my favourite cities.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Weekend

Again with the simplified life stuff. When I don't have steady stream of distractions, of stimuli, it makes the experiences I do have that much more amplified.
This weekend for example.

On Saturday, Joel and I took a break from studying medicine/ editing comics (really, which one of us is going to make a difference in this world?) and caught the train into Leeds. I love Leeds. I really do. It is so vibrant and gritty and bustling. It has this buzz, this big-city vibe that York lacks. We wandered around the shops looking for a winter coat for J, and then went to the Christmas market. It was dark by then, and absolutely jammed with people. We had steaming cups of hot honey mead, which was sweet and alcoholic, and then we stood by a ledge and wolfed down German burgers and fried potatoes. Somehow food always tastes better when it's made right in front of you and then eaten outside, in the midst of a colourful crowd.
We got beers at Vodka Revs, and then made our way to First Arena. We had tickets to see Vampire Weekend, and I was excited because it had been a few months since I had seen a big show. Plus, I loved their new album, and wanted to dance. Standing in the crush of people for hours, with the lights, the giddy, close-to holy feeling you get when they play a favourite song, the way you almost feel like fainting when the lights shine in your eyes and then flick upwards, the numbing bass that makes the hairs on your arms stand up...
The show was fantastic.
I felt sensitive to every wave of sticky humid heat from the people touching me on all sides. I could feel the breath on the back of my neck from the person behind me, and welcomed it, because I was hot and sticky too. We jittered and shimmered in the semi-dark, like atoms of one big, collective molecule, and every sense was overloaded and overflowing.

You are left with a sort of high when the show ends. Your throat hurts, and your ears are ringing, and your legs are sore from standing for so many hours, but the exhilaration takes a while to fade.

On Sunday night, my mother dragged me to this thing at York Minster called Transcendence. She said it was odd, but good. A good strange. A nice weird.
And it was.
Being in the Minster after dark, once it is closed to the tourists, the building takes on a different feeling. It feels much more old. More sacred, more like a place of worship than a tourist attraction. The shadows seem blacker and the pools of light from candles seem smaller. There were about 40 of us, and after a time of music in the Chapter House we were encouraged to wander to 3 different prayer stations. One was in front of the Screen of Kings. I counted 15 of them, and I couldn't help but be reminded of the part in The Magician's Nephew where Digory and Polly find themselves in front of a line of wax statues of the rulers of Charn. Just as in the story, each King seemed to be a little weaker, a little stupider, and eventually a little crueller, than their predecessor. I could feel C.S. Lewis' words come alive in my head.
Another prayer station was in the crypt. To get to the crypt, you had to wander down a dark hall lined on either side with the tombs of Archbishops and Important People from history. One of the oldest ones I saw belonged to a boy about the size of a 13 year old, and on it it said "Little Prince William". There was a miniature lion lying by his feet. Once you reached the entrance of the crypt you had to light a candle and take it down with you. The ceiling was low, and there were a couple of people in robes, chanting and swinging a silver bowl full of incense. I didn't stay long.

I explored other dark halls, with doors leading off them and the ceiling so high you couldn't see it. I eventually stopped and sat on the steps beside a pool of light coming from a room in the centre, where there were 4 young people singing some ancient hymn. There was such a feeling of magic, as if there was a veil between worlds and it was blowing, swaying, letting little motes of otherworldly dust into the air.
I don't know if I would have been surprised if some angel or ghost had appeared. I felt thin, myself, as if I could have slit the air with a knife and disappeared like Lyra or Will.

Spiritual and mysterious. Otherworldly.
I am glad I went.

waiting for Vampire Weekend.

Friday, November 15, 2013


 a burnt-out, sunken boat that was recovered from the river recently

 Rowntree park every afternoon. Sometimes I swear it feels like I live in a fairytale.

 Cream tea at Grey's Court. There is almost no better combination than raspberry jam and massive amounts of clotted cream to go with fresh scones.

 My attic garret "studio" these days.

 Halloween pumpkin carving. J is paying tribute here to Reflektor's on-stage costume. Later, we turned it into a bandit costume with the help of a red bandana around his mouth.

Guy Fawkes Day fireworks at the university.

My life has been simplified in so many ways. These are the things that make me happy right now.

Haribo Star Mix. I think Haribo is German, and their gummy candy has been a favourite of mine since I went to school in Austria for 3 months in 2008. But the Star Mix is the best because it has a little bit of everything: gummy bears, cola bottles, eggs, rings, and hearts.

Going to the pub early and getting home at a reasonable time. No more the 10, 11 p.m. o'clock start time. Because my friends here are oooooollldd (ok, the oldest is 38 and the youngest -excluding me- is 27) it means that they have real adult jobs to attend the next day. So we will typically meet at 8 (on the dot. Everyone is so punctual. I'm always late) and I'll be home by midnight. It's lovely. I love my 8-9 hours a night.

Cheese. So. Much. Cheap. Cheese. Cheddars, Stiltons, Wensleydales, goat cheese, sheep cheese. Even their low brand cheese is a 5 year mature cheddar. It just makes cooking so much tastier.

And speaking of cooking, I love it again. I love going to the shops and picking up fresh seasonal veg. Coming up with cheap and tasty combinations. My dad taught me to use up ingredients in the fridge, to not let stuff go to waste. You have to be that much more creative and innovative when you have a mostly bare fridge.

Working for myself. It means I set the hours, and only I am responsible for if the work gets done or not. This whole illustrating experience has been so enlightening that even if I don't get more work after this contract, I will have learned so much about myself. That I like my slow mornings. I like staying in my pjamas until after lunch. I like the work itself, very much.

Skype dates with friends from all over the world. There are some people with whom you can just pick up with as though no time has passed, and those people have become very precious to me. It has been a fantastic way to spend an evening with a glass of wine, and most surprisingly of all, I don't sign off feeling sad that I'm not with them. I sign off feeling exhilarated and happy and at peace.

My parents. I was so worried that living with them again would be difficult and messy, but it's been wonderful. I really quite like them, haha.

The sun. We haven't had a rainy day in ages. It's nippy, but it's also November. And the leaves and the park and the people...ugh. Beautiful, to the point where I'm slightly disgusted.

The anticipation of Christmas, and most exciting, Christmas music. I have had to give myself some stern talking-to's about playing it before December 1st. And Christmas means Dani comes here, and I have missed her extremely.