Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eight things I'm loving:

*1: Danielle, from whom I've more or less stolen the idea for this post. She has a habit of writing posts with the title "I Dig This..." in which she lists off little things in her life that bring her some amount of joy: T-shirts, knitted goods, Hot Tamales, porch swings and so on.

It would negate the point of this particular post to expound on this too much, but in short and simple terms my life is utter shit these days, and the fact that I live on a rainy cold island populated by millions of grumpy pessimists doesn't help. Especially considering my little corner of the Pessimism Empire. The English, at least, are able to package their pessimism in a clever way. The Welsh, however, rub salt in the wound by putting Max Boyce on television.

So, in an effort to keep the knives in the kitchen drawer and away from my wrists, I've decided to try to force optimism on a regular basis. My present goal is to write an "Eight things I'm loving" post at least once a month. I chose eight things because there are eight letters in my favourite person's name (a).

*2: Learning guitar, even though I am utterly rubbish at it. I suffer from a strange dichotomy of both enjoying learning new things and being shockingly slow in doing so. I often think the reason I did so poorly in school was the aspect of time constraint. All my educational experiences in the United States were heavily task-oriented and limited to short time frames: Do this by this day. I was never able to master that. Of course, another problem with my education years was that I preferred to focus my attention on girls. Perhaps I could argue that without restriction of time frame I was more compelled to learn about the opposite sex than the Peace of Westphalia.

If that's the case, here is what I learned: women are hornets' nests. And apparently I love hornets.

And perhaps it is with a modicum of leftover desperate teenage hope that I am now trying to teach myself guitar. Thus far I have managed to learn some 15 different chords. My challenge, though, has been putting them together. I find it shocking the amount of skill required to play songs that I previously thought to be overly simple.

*3: Rediscovering my love of the Spanish language. Obviously I've got a soft spot for Welsh, but come on, let's be honest: Spanish is so much sexier. It is my favourite language. I love the natural rhythm and flow and how it seems to be built for emotional expression. It has a boldness that is unafraid of flair.

For example: "Cuando dijiste que no quieres a mi, en mi pecho cuchillo sentí." That is bad ass. But if you said it in English it wouldn't sound beautiful; if you said it in Welsh it would either be too clunky or criticised as too formal.

Lately I have returned to attempts to become fluent in Spanish. I can't decide whether I'm being cliché; I fear it's all a bit too "I've just gotten divorced so now I feel obligated to do interesting things to somehow justify my existence." But I'm loving it either way. I download various podcasts as part of my little learning regime, which means I now find myself listening to a lot of Mexican radio. The knock-on effect of which being that I had a sudden urge to move to Mexico City this week. I'm sure that would work out.

*4: Katezenjammer (pronounced "Kahtzen-yah-mer") are a band from Norway who are probably best described as a bag full of crazy encased in awesomeness and lemon icing. I randomly came across them earlier this year -- though, at the moment, I can't remember how -- and fell in love straight away. How can you not be in love with a band that describes itself as "the brushstrokes on the night sky where you dance your wildest dance in your fanciest clothes"? I'm not sure what that means, but it's undoubtedly appealing.

I've heard them described as a sort of cross between Gogol Bordello and Dixie Chicks, but I tend to think that description falls short. When I first heard them, I envisioned a strange, good version of Sugarland that has talent, being thrown down a ravine full of chocolate éclairs which have been dressed as Cossacks. And that's probably not a good description either. Basically they are a beautiful kind of crazy that you really want to be around, with melodies and lyrics that get stuck in your head: "Your ass can stay in prison, I ain't gonna bail. I put your house on fire, and your truck is for sale."

I am so enamoured with them that I have set myself the goal of learning how to play "Tea With Cinnamon" by the end of the year (my guitar skills are so poor that this is a particularly ambitious goal). Go on, watch the video for that song. How fantastic are they? I think Anne Marit is my favourite -- she strikes me as batshit crazy.

*5: A new season of NCIS started on Five a few weeks ago and I have found myself at the end of each episode shouting out loud: "Damn, I love this show!" I love the fact that the whole thing is so ridiculously formulaic but still well-written. I wish I had friends, just so I could follow them around and say "On your six, boss."

*6: Sainsbury's online delivery is the bomb-diggity, yo. A few weeks ago, in a fit of rage, I swore that I would never again shop at Tesco. This was initiated by my observation that no matter which Tesco I would go to, I was always treated as an obligation or burden.

Imagine the response you might get if you were to come across a Chilean earthquake survivor, his leg trapped beneath a concrete slab and himself dehydrated and without food for several days, and your method of "helping" were to take a swig of your water (not sharing) and then make a balloon animal, handing it to the survivor and saying: "Hey, mister! Turn that frown upside down!"The look of total exhaustion and disdain you would get from that earthquake victim is the same you will get from Tesco employees when you dare set foot in their store.

And I got to a point where my weekly shopping trip was something I would dread, having to build myself up for the experience of being treated so poorly. And then, one day, I was in queue and the cashier chap was being a bitch and I just leaned in toward him and said: "You know what, fuck you." Then walked out, leaving all the groceries there unpaid for.

Notably, there was not a sound from the fella as I walked away. No effort was made to remedy things. I later went so far as to send an e-mail to Tesco explaining that I would never bother them again and -- shocker -- I've not received a response. So, I decided to turn to Sainsbury's, even though it's slightly more expensive and on the other side of town. But on the day I made this decision it was snowing and I didn't feel like driving, so I ordered my stuff online.

The next day my groceries arrived on time and the bloke delivering them was properly cheerful and friendly. And much to my surprise, that was not a fluke. I've had several different delivery people since then and each time they are friendly and crazy polite. Now I find myself wanting to order groceries more often, just because I know it means someone's going to show up at my house and be nice to me.

*7: Tortilla chips with butter is a magical flavour combination, bitches. I know you think it sounds awful, but that's because you haven't tried it. You will both thank me and curse me because it is an incredibly addictive thing. Also, tortilla chips and butter remind me of when I first came up with the idea as a child because I was a picky eater and the multiple-ingredient nature of salsa freaked me out. So, each time I have one, some joyful part of me thinks of Matt's Famous El Rancho in Austin, Texas -- my favourite city on the planet Earth.

*8: Rowing machines are, conveniently, a pretty good way of counteracting the effects of eating loads of tortilla chips with butter. As part of my cliché response to divorce, in addition to learning guitar and Spanish, I am going to the gym three times a week and running on the other days. I am hoping that repetitively picking up heavy things and putting them back down again will somehow make me sexy enough to compensate for my personality defects.

Through happenstance I started using the rowing machines in my workout and now find it to be my favourite part. Henry Rollins once wrote a poem about his rowing machine and suddenly I can understand why. You use every part of your body and then afterward, when you have your shirt off, you catch yourself in the mirror and think: "Hey, nifty. Look at that. Shame there's no one around to see this."

(a) So, not you, Viggo Mortensen.


Wierdo said...

We have a rowing machine. It sits prettily in the back room and sometimes, I go and sit on it and slide back and forth ond the slidy chair. I agree, it's fun!

Chris Cope said...

Please tell me you shout "Wheeeee!" when sliding back and forth.

Dani said...

I dig this post.

I'm sure Viggo is heartbroken.

Anonymous said...

Vete a Mexico, Chris! Viggo ya habla español, tienes que ponerte las pilas!!
I'm not sure of your level of Spanish, so here you go:
Go to Mexico, Chris! Viggo is fluent in Spanish already, so you must get your act together!
It's a bit rubbish translation, but hey.

Keep your chin up, mate. :-D

Cristina desde Bristol

Keith - Circle Blue said...

Do you melt the butter?

Unknown said...

Hornets...time to go spray the hive.

heatherfeather said...

There are only 7 letters in Heather.