Christmas in London

December 27, 2008

Paul and I had a quiet Christmas in London where we didn’t leave the house all day and we ate a LOT of food. Paul gave me two wonderful books: Hypatia of Alexandria by Michael A B Deakin and The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. They will help very nicely with my new year resolution to read more nonfiction!

Yesterday we went to the Westfield shopping centre at Shepherds Bush where there was lots of mad consumerism going on with the post-Christmas sales. We both bought shoes at the Terra Plana store as they were having a sale and Paul and I are big fans of their shoes. I bought some cool boots and some cool slip on shoes. Paul bought some nice blue shoes.

Today we are going to see the film Waltz with Bashir, an animated documentary about an Israeli soldier’s memories of his time fighting Lebanon in the 1980s. I’m really looking forward to it.

I have been watching a lot of television in the last few days – it’s nice to be on holidays. I have also been to the gym three times in the last five days! It would be very good to keep that up. We’ll see how I go. Paul and I are still on holidays for another week. I’m loving it. I have a lot planned.

Culture and shopping for winter clothes

October 20, 2008

Well my new job is stressing me out – I sit in a room with seven French people who talk to each other all day in French. There are a couple of middle-aged, English engineers in the room but they don’t talk much and I don’t have much in common with them so I’m really missing the social aspect I had at my last job – I really didn’t like the management there but I worked with lots of people my age who were friendly and talked a lot (in English). I also have a head cold again (I only had one two weeks ago!). I’m using my brain a bit more in my new job than the last job I had, but the social aspect totally sucks. I am having doubts I can stick it out for the three months but I am only two weeks in – I’ll see how I go.

On Friday night I had dinner by myself at Wagamama’s in Leicester Square (while I was waiting for Paul to get into town) and I think the three Australians sitting near me might have been from Brisbane – one of them told the others ‘Did you know there’s a Wagamama’s in New Farm’. Have I mentioned how homesick I’ve been lately? I mean, really homesick. After dinner, I met up with Paul and people from his work for some drinks and I’ve really not been spending much time in busy, loud pubs recently because I hated being surrounded by loud drunk people.

On Saturday I wanted to buy winter clothes (it’s really getting cold again) so I headed to the great Japanese shop Uniqlo for some thermals similar to the ones I bought last year! They’re great. Paul and I were sorely tempted by their colourful, 50 pound, puffy, down jackets! After shopping, we wandered in London and for the first time since I’ve been here, I tried to climb onto the Lions at Trafalgar Square – I was unsuccessful they’re much bigger than they look from a distance.
How do I climb on this thing? Lion at Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square
After shopping, we went to Tate Britain and saw people running through the gallery (an art piece), the shortlist for this year’s Turner Prize, and an amazing Francis Bacon exhibition. I really liked Bacon’s paintings – even though a lot of them are really ugly and grotesque and scary – actually that might be the reason I liked them.

On Sunday we went to the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum with Matt and Neena and then to Uniqlo again for more winter clothes – we tried on the puffy jackets but decided against them.

On Friday night we’re going to see Neil Gaiman talk which I’m quite excited about.

And I am going out to dinner for my birthday on Saturday night. Wow, it’s been a year since my sister came to visit!

Recent books and films

October 12, 2008

I recently read Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley. Even though I think Psychogeography is a bit pretentious, I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction, especially the many referenced books about and set in London. I am planning to read many of them – I took a lot of notes. I also bought a DVD of the two Patrick Keiller films mentioned (London and Robinson in Space). Paul and I watched London yesterday and I just loved its ambling story – from a never-seen narator – of wandering through 1992 London accompanied by the stories and thoughts of his – also-never-seen – companion, Robinson. London was such a gem. I can’t wait to watch Robinson in Space – where they leave London and wander around Britain.

I am interested in reading Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and A History of the Plague Year, as well as work by Iain Sinclair, Robert Louis Stevenson, Will Self, Arthur Machen, Edgar Allen Poe, Peter Ackroyd and probably others.
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Atlantis Space Jacket!

September 7, 2008

Yesterday I bought the coolest jacket ever! It has the Earth and an astronaut on the front and a picture of the Atlantis Space Shuttle on the back. AND the Atlantis Space Shuttle is about to take off in a couple of days on a Hubble Space Mission. I will be the coolest geek this week, for sure!
The Atlantis space shuttle on the back of my cool new hoodie.
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New shoes for me – like being barefoot!

May 18, 2008

my new Vivo Barefoot by Terra Plana shoes
A couple of weeks ago I finally got my own pair of Vivo Barefoot shoes by Terra Plana. Paul already has two pairs which he loves. My shoes are almost identical to Paul’s black pair (but his are quite worn out now).
Paul's Terra Plana shoes
I have flat feet and have had problems with them since puberty – I was always told that the answer to the problem lay in always wearing shoes with arch supports, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 or so years. Paul, a big fan of walking barefoot, has been trying to convince me that my problems lay in wearing shoes too much and that if I just went barefoot more often, my feet wouldn’t hurt as much. I’m not sure I believe him, but I have been wearing my arch supports less often recently. I think I can probably get away with it if I go to the gym regularly and stengthen the muscles in my feet and legs. The Vivo Barefoot shoes have very thin soles so it feels like you’re walking around barefoot – you can feel the ground through the soles – but the soles have kevlar in them to make them really tough. I really like their women’s shoes, but as is so often the case for me, they were too small so I had to buy a pair of the men’s. The insole of my shoes has a cool, London-tube-esque pattern on them!
my new Terra Plana shoes with London-tube-mapesque insoles

Books on dysfunctional families

January 18, 2008

I have just finished reading Adult Children: the Secrets of Dysfunctional Families by John and Linda Friel. I really enjoyed it and I think I learned a lot about healthy and unhealthy ways of relating.

They talk a lot about co-dependency and addictions (as therapists, they have treated a lot of people with addictions), and they explain a lot of different types of abuse and how this teaches us bad ways of relating and affects our development and leads to co-dependency and addiction.

From the book:

Co-dependency is a dysfunctional pattern of living which emerges from our family of origin as well as our culture, producing arrested identity development, and resulting in an over-reaction to things outside of us and an under-reaction to things inside of us. Left untreated, it can deteriorate into an addiction.

Because they are focusing on ‘family-of-origin’ work they look at how people take what they learnt from their parents and replicate it in their relationships with their children. I also have their follow-up book The Adult Child’s Guide to What’s Normal. I’m looking forward to reading it too.
I also recently bought and read They Fuck You Up: How To Survive Family Life by Oliver James. I’m still not sure if I liked it. James believes that far too many mental illnesses seem to be blamed on genetics when there is plenty of proof around that how a child was treated in the very early stages is probably more to blame. I enjoyed the bits where he analyses various famous people and their relationships with their parents and/or their children (Prince Charles, Stephen Fry, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, George W Bush, Jeffrey Archer). I didn’t really enjoy it when he said gay men were gay because their mother’s emasculated them and were a stronger personality than their father (page 104). I tend to agree with James that nurture probably has far more to do with mental health problems than nature but I often found his conclusions hard to agree with – I looked up the references many times to see if he cited references for various things he claimed, which he did. But just because I don’t agree with something doesn’t mean it’s not true! If there IS evidence to back it up, then maybe I need to change what I believe. But there are a lot of psychology studies (and other studies) around with dodgy conclusions or methodologies, or using very small samples. I’d love to read a response that’s examines this book by checking out all the studies in it.

New necklace by Louise Bourgeois

January 8, 2008

New Louise Bourgeois necklace from the Tate Modern
When I was at the Tate Modern on the weekend I bought a necklace designed by Louise Bourgeois. It has ‘ART IS A GUARANTY OF SANITY’ AND ‘LB’ on it. I really like it. Paul doesn’t like it because of the spelling mistake and he says the cord smells. I used to be a total spelling nazi where I certainly wouldn’t have bought and worn this necklace but 1) I don’t care as much these days and 2) I think its Louise Bourgeois coolness outways the spelling error!
New Louise Bourgeois necklace from the Tate Modern
It came in a cute little envelope and it said that only 1000 were made. So, not bad for £8.50! And I really like it because I often feel like art helps keep me sane.
Louise Bourgeois necklace packet, front