Finding More Happy (Part 10)

20 Jan

I started the day well. Despite not wanting to go to the gym, I went. I rowed, I sat up, I lunged, I star-jumped, and then I cycled. And then I felt very pleased with myself that I was heading back home while most people were making their way to work.

This afternoon I had a Society of Authors Management Meeting. As our new building in Bloomsbury is being refurbished we’re “on tour” at the various offices of the top publishing houses in the country! Not bad eh?

Today’s meeting was at HarperCollins on the 17th floor of the News building (aka Murdoch Towers) in a big tall glass building that wasn’t The Shard.

Or this building.

Anyway, having found myself to the right building I was adorned with a rave party bracelet and accompanied in the lift. I understand. They don’t trust me.

I take too many random photos.

Anyway, I kept it super professional and didn’t take any photos of the phenomenal view until coffee break. Charlie Redmayne, CEO, gave a talk, and I have to say he was particularly charming.

Anyway, we did all the management conversations and various things you do at such meetings and then we headed off to the pub. I would like to say that’s my most favourite time of the day, but that’s probably not very professional. *cough*

Anyway, at said pub wine bar (we are professional after all, even if I am just pretending). I decided upon a professional topic of conversation with the professional writers I was lucky enough to be in the company of.

“So…,” I started (as I do many sentences) “I’m really struggling with my motivation and concentration when it comes to writing at the moment.”

They all looked at me and nodded, waiting for me to elaborate.

“And so I was just wondering…how often and how long do you write for?”

The answers came in turn: Every day, but weekends off. At least three hours, usually four, tops at five hours.

“Ah!” I reply, my face furrowing into an unwitting confession of sorts, “I appear to not be writing enough.”

“How often are you writing?” Came the alarmed response.

“Well, I try, but it’s hard, you see…”

“You have morning, don’t you? Mornings are the best time to write.” Asserted one professional and highly esteemed writer who’s sold a gazillion books.

“Well, the thing is…the tenants, the tenants have to be sorted first…”

He rolls his eyes at me and retorts with a sneer in his lip and a full-on-worried-shake of his shaggy eyebrows. “I had a tenant once. Urgh!” He screws his face tighter in disgust at the memory, “thank goodness that episode is over.”

Another novelist, some 45 books published and counting, butts in: “You must plan your day around writing.”

“Plan my day around writing?” I question, my voice raising querulously at the sheer audacity and lunacy of such an outrageous idea.

“Yes, of course!” They reply in unison, looking at me queerly as though I’m some sort of unrecognisable miniature curio found in the back of an antiques shop.

“How on earth would you ever get to write unless you do?” retorted the gazillion-selling, tenant-relieved pro.

How on earth indeed, I said to myself, and committed the conversation to memory.

Sounds like I need a better plan!

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Finding More Happy (Part 9)

19 Jan

Starting the day arguing with a solicitor who you’ve been waiting to hear back from for over a week and have had to involve the head honcho to get a response, is not the best start. But hey, arguments are made to be fought and won – and so I’m remaining positive.

And I’ve learned positivity is definitely a state of mind you have to work on – and I mean work on. It really doesn’t take long before you find yourself slipping back into your old neghead ways about this, that and t’other.

So in mindfulness of this feat and sick to death of looking at my screen I decided to go to the local Co-op to buy some coleslaw. Admittedly, not the most interesting adventure, but it would get me out of the house and there – as I saw it – was the break point of my day. This was my excursion out to find more happy.

Now, I am not a shopping fan. In fact, I am a rather good aficionado of online grocery shopping, because:

  1. I can’t be bothered to walk around a supermarket
  2. I can’t be bothered to carry all the bags – especially not up three flight of stairs
  3. I really swear there have got to be more fun ways to spend my time than grocery shopping.

I fill you in on this, because what follows perhaps makes more sense in that context.

So, as I was saying, I was going to Co-op to buy some coleslaw (if you must know, I was going to re-heat some leftover pizza for tea and figured coleslaw would make all the difference).

Anyway, as I’m bustling down the road, I see a great expanse of shiny red and white that has never appeared on my radar before. Now, I’m sure they have branches all over the place – and you’ll be familiar with the shop “Iceland”.

So I stood outside gawping inside at all the frozen goods on offer and pondering if I should step over the threshold…is this the sort of place that would stock coleslaw?

inside iceland

Seeing as I am in the mood to try new things I decided to venture in and check it out – yes, I am an Icelandic novice and so today was my first foray into the world of the frozen goods shop.

Excited and intrigued by all the offerings I soon found myself taking photos. I don’t know why. I am obviously incredibly sad and possibly deranged. But anyway, I found myself taking pictures of the stuff on offer – which given I’ve taken them, I may as well share them here.

Now, as I was taking a few snaps I became aware of a presence that appeared to be watching me. Glancing around I saw in my peripheral vision, what looked like the behind of a security guy. Putting this presence down to my paranoia I continued down the next aisle – pausing, photographing and pondering.

And then when I was perusing over the merits of a bottle of wine (Chardonnay, in case you wondered) for £2.99, I was pounced on.

“Excuse me, can I help you?” Said the voice of the man dressed in Iceland overalls who was trying to appear taller than what he really was.

“I’m just looking at this wine,” I reply, “it seems very cheap, but I don’t know anything about the brand.”

“I’ve seen you taking lots of photos, why are you doing that?” He stood facing me in some sort of cowboy showdown, like I was meant to suddenly pop the cork and take his eye out or something.

“Well…,” I say, hesitating about what I would say. Could I really share my wonder of the Iceland treats, or would he think me a prick, or a maniac, or worse? I fumble with the bottle, stroking its smooth neckline like you would a furry cat. “Well, you see…,” I continue “I’m planning a party and so I’m taking photos to remind me of the things you have…” I trail off not wanting to get too involved in this crap party I’m obviously planning, but also pleased with myself for my quick thinking.

He looks at me squarely, taken aback by incredibly credible response. “Oh, OK,” he replies, and if I may say, a little disappointedly. I don’t know what he thought I was going to say, but I think, he thought it was going to be way more exciting than what I did say. He looks at me in a confiding manner, as though he’s about to share a bit secret. “It’s just people who are in here and taking photo’s they’re usually…,” and he left the sentence hanging.

“Usually what?” My mouth wanted to shout!

I looked at him eagerly, edging him on to finish his sentence that was left like a smelly fart all over the aisle.

He looked back at me with my eager face and brightened. “If you’re planning a party, I’ll go and see if we’ve got any more of that wine in the back – though to be honest I don’t know if we will as you’re in the January sales aisle and if there’s only that one bottle there and you’re holding it, that could be it…”

“Oh, OK,” I reply, somewhat disappointed. Not only was he not going to finish his sentence about why people are usually taking photos, but he was now going to find me more wine of the wine I didn’t even intend to buy.

I look about and see another security guard, all uniformed up and checking me out. I smile broadly at him and he shifts his weight while still staring.

I am buying this wine, I realise.

I wait patiently to find out how much more of this plonk I’ve got to buy and wonder about the excuses I could use so as not to buy up Iceland’s stock room of cheap Chardonnay.

The guy puffs back holding aloft a large bottle of beer.

“I’m really sorry,” he says breathlessly, “that’s the last bottle of wine you’ve got there, but I did find bottles of this beer that’s cheap – you could always take this for your party.”

“Oh, that’s so kind,” I reply, and smile sweetly, “but, you know, it’s a girl’s party and we only drink wine!”

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Finding More Happy (Part 8)

18 Jan

Goodness, sometimes it can be very hard to find more happy. Which I guess is one of the challenges of this style of thinking – shit very easily can overwhelm you and before you know it, everything stinks and feels like it.

So, after an annoying day which involved a lot of everything but produced nothing, I was overjoyed to go to the theatre to watch Outlying Islands.

The Kings Head, Upper Street, Islington is one of my fave places – this is a remarkable venue who really understand and put on quality productions.

The complimentary vino in the interval was much appreciated and found me more happy as I didn’t have to open my wallet again 🙂 But, the star of the day was the outstanding show – definitely more happy found from watching this 🙂

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Finding More Happy (Part 7)

17 Jan

Waking today to some sort of tummy bug was not in my grand plan of getting on. However, I took some stuff and tried to settle in to my schedule for the day.

Alas, it wasn’t going well and so I decided rather than fight it – I’d find more happy in understanding today isn’t going to go the way I planned.

So I quit the trying and called it a duvet day.

How did I find more happy? Well, I decided to not feel guilty about snuggling down with daytime tele. Sometimes you gotta know when the juice isn’t worth the squeeze 🙂

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Finding More Happy (Part 6)

16 Jan

After a long day and night of entertaining with our games party I was happy to chill today, but the Other Half suggested going to see one of his friend’s who’d recently had a baby.

The sky was drab, grey and overcast, so when he suggested we take in the urban environment for the next 2.5 miles and walk it, I wasn’t exactly feeling it.

But then, I remembered my new motto: Finding More Happy and so I said yes.

So off we set for our jaunt – and I have to say when you decide to look all around you when you’re walking, you take in a whole new world. They may not be necessarily interesting things I can share with you in a photo – but trust me – I’ve realised the more I look, the more I see.

Having enjoyed a cup of tea with our friends, the three-month-old baby started getting a bit crotchety and needed a walk – so off we went for a bracing walk around the local park. It was simple and full of joy and we chatted about the somethings and nothings of life.

Enjoying being out and about I suggested to the Other Half to take a bus adventure to the dual carriage-way of Swiss Cottage and try the new Greek restaurant I’d spotted earlier in the week.

I’d love to say it was awesome, but it wasn’t. However, I reminded the Other Half while we were chowing down about the importance of Ithaca – a poem by C. P. Cavafy – and that is Ithaka is not the destination, but the journey.

Here’s the poem:

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. 

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992) 
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