Saturday, December 26, 2009

If ideas were things this one is almost certainly destined for the shed

I have long prided myself on not being the sort of person to accumulate countless items that I will never use. I don't have that odd piece of excercise equipment, used once and then abandoned to such an extent that I can't even be arsed to give it to someone else. My guitar has sat quiet since September but I am quite certain that under other circumstances, that would not be the case, and will not be the case in that magical future that never arrives in which I Have Time To Do What I Want To Do.

But when it comes to ideas, intangible things and projects, my mind is a mess of unfinished and unbegun brilliant schemes. Over the last, well, year or so, I have been quietly lamenting the death of my blog. I pine for its Golden Age when I was writing frequently and interacting with loads of nifty people and then getting to go visit them in London or Dublin or Phoenix or North Wales or West Wales or wherever else my blog has opened doors over the years.

But there's the whole thing of being quite busy trying to convince myself and others that I am in any way academic, and as such really only having blog-conducive downtime in small little segments and usually when I'm away from my laptop (like when I'm on the train). Or, when I don't have time to fire up the laptop. The damned thing takes nine minutes to get up and running, by which time my brilliant blog post will have slipped from my mind, making room for more important thoughts like: "Is there any port left?"

But today it occurred to me that there would almost certainly be an app that would allow me to blog from my phone, allow me to blog on the train, allow me to maybe, just maybe, bring back this blog and once again have the joy of being able to Google search my memory. And there is such an app. I am using it now.

It remains to be seen whether this app and the idea of blogging regularly again will fall to the wayside, just like that time I decided to learn French.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I finally turned my heat on today. For those of you following my personal narrative, you'll know that I had thus far refused to do so this season. I realise that won't be many of you since I effectively gave up blogging sometime in the summer. It's hard to follow my personal narrative when I'm not publishing it.

The reason for that comes from another part of my personal narrative: the fact that Rachel left. She moved back to the United States in September. I bring this up not because I feel like discussing it at all, or want your feedback, but simply to explain why I tend to go all quiet and look the other way when people refer to me in the plural. And that is generally what I do -- go quiet.

I have grown pretty accustomed to being quiet. Partially out of financial concerns, I rid myself of the television once Rachel left. For those of you playing along at home, owning a television on this island of rain requires a £142 (US$230) license. I'll listen to the radio from time to time -- 6 Music, or Radio Cymru after 10pm -- or watch "Strictly Come Dancing" on my laptop, but for the most part I live in quiet. The sound of my breathing, the rush-ring of silence, the tick-tick-tick of my Winnie the Pooh watch, and occasionally the whine of the fridge as it stirs itself awake to keep cool lager, salsa and sandwich meat.

On a typical day I will wrap myself up in a blanket or two and sit down to read the various materials for my masters degree. In one sort of way it is a very pleasant life. I just sit and read and think and occasionally write. And I suppose it would be far more pleasant if I had a little fireplace to huddle near, where I could listen to the crackle of the fire. In a perfect world, I would be here, with Annie playing peaceful songs on her guitar. But as is, my quaint little life of reading through the day is cold and lonely.

Officially I have been refusing to turn on my heat for financial reasons. Heat costs money, yo. Putting on a scarf costs nothing. But on the weekend after Thanksgiving I was out in London visiting some old friends, and Jeni (a) correctly identified that another part of it is deliberate self-deprivation. The effects of loneliness are both more appropriate and easier to suffer when your hands and feet ache with cold.

Have you ever seen the film What Dreams May Come? In it, hell is a cold and empty house, where you are left with nothing but your own thoughts, your own inescapable awareness of your own failings.

So, anyway, I turned on the heat. In part because I was starting to get ill, in part because I just couldn't stand being so god-damned cold any more, and in part because I haven't been doing as good a job of being miserable these past few weeks. I would not describe myself as joyful by any stretch, but pretty much ever since I went out to visit Llŷr in Oxford I've been less and less inclined to do that Sarah Millican thing of walking about the house thinking: "Is that light fitting really strong? Could it hold a decent weight?"

I have my little routines in my little corner of this little city in this little country on this little island and I take a certain comfort in them. Life is not as exciting as it could be, but for the moment it's...


And I guess that's OK for now.

(a) Yes, Jeni, I know you haven't spelled your name like this since we were in high school.