Fury

There are few people in my immediate social ecosystem I truly dislike.

I left one such person behind when I moved from Romania a few years back, and during that time, whatever negative feelings I’d had for them eventually faded into this colourless mix of mostly indifferent emotions. And I suddenly found myself in a good place socially speaking, no energy-draining animosities in the air. And it felt right.

Now, don’t think that I’ve gone out of my way to mess up my newly discovered universe of peace and sympathy, as I tend to mess up all good things in my life. This time, I most definitely did nothing wrong. Or not on purpose, anyway. And nonetheless, my disliking-people-is-so-paseé mantra is now itself a thing of the past.

Because these days, I’ve got someone new to dislike.

I’m not proud of it. And no, I’m not going to badmouth them on the interwebs or publish their Twitter handle for you equally spiteful people to poke fun at out of some deranged online solidarity. In fact, I haven’t and will not do anything about my animosity. I won’t be voicing my negative feelings towards them, I won’t be sending bad karma their way, I won’t be feverishly praying for the day of retribution. I’ll repress my emotions, like the responsible, perpetually unsatisfied adult I’ve grown into.

The other day I ran into this person in the street.

When someone’s mean to you, my Grandma used to say, just look at them. Look at them real close, and picture them smiling. You’ll realise they’re good people after all. Just good people having a bad day.

From a distance, I tried to imagine them smiling.

It didn’t really work, it was cold and getting dark and people were sliding in and out of the layers of air between us, and a smile would be nothing but a tiny horizontal line from where I was standing anyway.

It pains me that I’ve allowed a human being to make me not like them so much. It’s not a fading feeling either, or not yet anyway. It’s strong. You’d think you could squeeze it out of me and pour it in a cup, a thick, poisonous looking juice.

I gave up picturing smiles and walked into a nearby grocery store. I took my glove off to squeeze a mango, its skin stamped with the name of a country V and I were looking at visiting just the other week. I smiled. I settled on a baguette, pears and two bunches of daffodil buds. The clerk wrapped the flowers in Christmas themed paper. Too keep them warm until you get home, she said, and we smiled. I didn’t even have to imagine it, like Grandma had said. Some people, you could tell they were good without any tricks. I walked home and put the daffodils in a vase on the dressing table.

Someone once told me yellow is the colour of courage.

When I got back from work last night, none of the buds had opened yet and I worried they’d died. I cooked us dinner, did my accounting, read a little. As I was getting ready for bed some hours later, I noticed two of the flowers had opened. And not just a little, but fully bloomed and yelling their yellows like war cries. Had I been paying more attention, I’d have heard the petals part, I just knew it, and the thought that I’d missed it made me unbearably sad.

I suspect they’re not just having a bad day, this new person in my life. A bad day doesn’t do that to you, I wouldn’t think. They might be having a bad few days though, a bad few months, a year. A bad slice of life, and that might explain them being the way they are. I wish I knew what to do with this revelation, but somehow, even after all these years of playing the people game, it feels like the rules are changing all the time.

I’m off to hug someone now. They tend to smile when you do that.

Books of January

I’ve been reading a lot lately, so much so that it would be quite a challenge to find the time for a Top of the Pile post for every book.

So I figured I’d just put everything in a Goodreads-style list for the time being, stars and everything. Well, stars and little else, really, but who’s got time for rambling about books, when there’s actual reading to be done.

So feast your eyes on my super duper list of January reads, as I now run back to my copy of Roddy Doyle’s Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and a cup of camomile tea.

Ta-dah!

Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates
★★★★★

Beware of Pity
Beware of Pity
Stefan Sweig
★★★☆☆

The Arabian Nights
The Arabian Nights, Volume 1
Anonymous
★★★☆☆

The Bluffers Guide to Etiquette
The Bluffer’s Guide to Etiquette
William Hanson
★★★☆☆

The Last Hundred Days
The Last Hundred Days
Patrick McGuinness
★★★★☆

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Muriel Barbery
★★★★☆

Burning Bright
Burning Bright
Tracy Chevalier
★★★☆☆

Nap All Day, Sleep All Night

I haven’t had a day like today in a while.

After walking the beaches of Brighton and Hove for a few hours yesterday, then back to our place and an evening of red wine and horror movies, I turned to bed early and slept the sleep of the lighthearted.

I was the first to wake up in the morning, hot sun streaming in from windows on all sides of our flat, like our cosmic coordinates had changed overnight.

I unloaded the dishwater, made coffee, wiped the kitchen counters and sat watching the morning news in the living room for a while. Went online and browsed through the list of furniture pieces I’ve since forever been ogling with our guest bedroom in mind. I put off actually ordering anything, of course. “Add to Basket” is as far as I’m willing to go on my Sunday morning furniture safaris.

V woke up, so I made us scrambled eggs and avocado on toast, and we actually sat down for breakfast like shiny happy people in TV commercials.

After we cleared the table and changed the bedding in our master bedroom, he walked past my two-dozen-furniture-websites-open-at-the-same-time laptop, and bullied me into actually pressing “Checkout” for once. The world will not come to an end if we’ve furnished the last remaining empty room in our flat. My life will not lose its purpose once I’ll have no wood finishes to fantasise about. Things will be all right.

So I caved and finally ordered a bed, mattress, nightstands and a chest of drawers. Oh, and a rug for our living room while I was on it. Sure, we don’t really need one, but hey, who can say no to the absolutely most super-duper-sexy rug in the world? Not me, people.

Then, high on furniture splurging euphoria, I scrubbed our shower clean for the second (third?) time this weekend (Lemon juice did. not. work. But we’ve got a pro coming to look at it tomorrow, triple YAY!), did a bit of ironing, read fifty or so pages from Tracy Chevalier’s Burning Bright, and, wait… for… it… had a nap. As in, sleeping. In the middle of the day. For two and a half hours. Me!

Well, I’m up now and the world feels cosy enough to walk barefooted in. I dug out our tape measure, and measured our guest bedroom walls for the millionth time. It will all fit in perfectly and I can’t help smiling at the thought that a couple of weeks from now, we’ll be functional-guest-bedroom people, and everything will still be all right. More places to nap than ever, as well!

Off I go now, I’ve promised steak and sweet potato wedges for dinner and V’s been moaning he’s hungry enough to eat a horse all throughout me writing this post.

Wishing you all a lovely Sunday evening!

Five Things Today

1.

We’ve had no hot water in our shower for three weeks.

Get a plumber look at it, you say? Well, you’re probably not up to date with the latest developments in London’s flourishing plumbing industry.

There. Are. No. Plumbers. Not one.

Sure, you’ll find plenty online, or recommended by friends, and believe it or not a handful of them will even return your calls and/or emails. But getting one to actually come and LOOK at your shower, now that’s a different story. They are busy, these people. Doing… not sure what really, but definitely not shower tinkering.

The last person we spoke to was quite funny. Too busy to come over, obviously, but kind enough to suggest we take our shower apart ourselves and keep the pieces in lemon juice overnight. And you know what? After nearly a month of freezing cold showers in the middle of winter, lemon juice sounds like it might just work. So yeah. Fancy joining me in a lemon squeezing marathon tonight, anyone? Anyone?

2.

Several of my friends have quit or are on the verge of quitting their jobs, with little to no future career plans in mind.

No, they’re not all Romanian.

Yes, it might be mid-life-crisis early-thirties-crisis.

And yes, I do worry about it being contagious. But then I just turn off my alarm clock and jump out of bed, dragging myself towards a keyboard yet again.

3.

I am, if somewhat reluctantly, making friends with people at work these days.

After a year marked by one or two social disappointments, I’m testing the waters again. I guess it’s true what they say, that we’re social animals above all else, even the most self-proclaimed antisocial of us.

So I’m hitting the pubs for the now compulsory after work pint, catching up with former colleagues for lunch, mingling at office parties. It still feels a bit like I’m walking around wrapped in an unfamiliar skin, but it’s not an uncomfortable one.

I was chatting to an old friend the other day, and he said something that made me think.

Growing older, he’d realised he could no longer judge his friendships like he’d used to. He couldn’t just walk away from people who’d disappointed him at one time or another anymore. He couldn’t dismiss people based on one or two incompatibilities with the perfect friend image he’d built for himself. His best friends now weren’t people who finished his sentences or got all his jokes. His best friends were the few people who’d stuck around. Imperfect in their friendship, but still there.

4.

Do NOT give me Amazon vouchers.

I’ll just buy ELEVEN books in one go and then you’ll find me feverishly browsing for another bookshelf, because there’s only so many paperbacks you can stack on your windowsill before they’re blocking the light. Who knew light and reading go hand in hand anyway?

For what it’s worth, I’ve so far read seven books this year, which is a miracle considering how much of my time I’ve been spending glued to a pint. Alcohol and books is the way to go, people! That is, if you want to make it out alive of this forsaken, snowed-three-times-this-month London winter!

5.

In other news, V and I are very busy these days.

We’ve just thrown a belated New Year’s Eve party for a friend who had emergency surgery during the real celebrations, we’re taking another friend on a post-breakup seaside trip this weekend, joining a bunch of people for a clubbing night out (Don’t. Ask.) for Valentine’s, and leaving London for our yearly anniversary trip the following week. Then guess what, it’s spring! Season of concerts, bank holidays and tennis tournaments!

So yeah, I’m excited to say the least. There’s something absolutely delicious in browsing your Google Calendar to see brightly coloured squares marking the end of each and every one of the coming weeks. I’ll try and document our this and that as much as I can, especially now that it seems I’ve finally kicked the January blues away, and I’m feeling more like a living, breathing, and only occasionally moaning human being.

Wishing you all a lovely, brightly coloured weekend!