There have been a few times this week when, if I could, I would take myself aside and say ‘Really?’  I am usually organised and a getting-things-done-person. This week – definitely not firing on all cylinders, and certainly getting in my own way.

It can’t go on. Thus, the things which I have not been able to do this week , and my strategies:

  1. Get the full 8 hours’ sleep. I am over familiar with the early hours of the morning. A hex on thee, jetlag! – I hate to do it, but it’s knock out drugs tonight.
  2. Remember a poem. Does poetry always come hand in hand with insomnia? Ironically, trying to remember a poem about waking up in the wee hours was one of the thoughts keeping me awake when I woke up in the wee hours. Just more evidence that my mind hates me. I finally tracked down the poem and it is ‘Things‘ by Fleur Adcock; I was getting it confused with ‘3am‘ by Wendy Cope.
  3. Find the music I want on my iPhone. Almost every night I’ve had to come home and upload an album or a track I’m surprised to find is missing in the first place. What was I thinking that I didn’t include Pulp or Jarvis Cocker or the Blue Nile or Arctic Monkeys? I swear, sometimes I don’t understand me. It’s time for an audit, an update and a couple of new playlists for emergencies.
  4. Read. Because I’m tired, mostly standing up on the train, and dealing with email. I have read so little this year that it’s making me sad. Go and look – I have barely cracked a spine. I’m ashamed. This afternoon, therefore I have a date with a pot of tea, a plate of digestives, Louis MacNeice, my beloved Autumn Journal and Bach’s cello concertos. I know it’s supposedly spring, but today’s louring sky and rain say otherwise. If I switch to full autumn mode, there may even be toast and Marmite.
  5. Eat properly. Ah, the jetlag and stress diet! Effective, but I want those new jeans to fit, damn it. Unusually for me, I’ve simply not been hungry. Or if I have been hungry it’s been at inopportune moments, and then I forget about it, and then by the time I’m hungry again I’m either on the train or asleep. Much as I like my food, even I have not mastered sleep-eating. The solution? Brunch with a friend; unhurried grocery shopping; taking time to cook dinner.
  6. Unwind. Does anyone want some restless, fidgety energy? Because apparently I have plenty to spare. I am pacing the apartment and I don’t know why. I find myself going from room to room. They’re all tidy, there’s nothing that needs doing and yet I tweak a cushion, smooth a bed cover, straighten a shower curtain. Then I pace some more. What is this? I’m driving myself mad. Hopefully, all of the above, plus yoga will sort this out. Especially yoga. There is hope!

Three go mad in Philly

The first surprising thing about this weekend was that, although I left from England and Zoesmom left from Connecticut, we arrived at the hotel within about 3 minutes of each other. If we had tried to plan that, you just know it would never have worked.

The second surprising thing was that on Saturday when we drove into the Barnes Museum, Emily was right ahead of us. Another feat of coordination that could only happen by accident.

The gallery was very good, but the staff were very strict, which made us a bit giggly. Fortunately, every single other person in there was listening to the audio tour, and we soon settled down and started looking at the art. Since I am a complete art idiot I can’t tell you anything about the paintings, except some names: Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Rousseau, Glackens, Gauguin, Pascin, Modigliani, Miro, Van Gogh, Picasso. Was there a Seurat? I seem to think so. Anyway, they were marvellous.

I lost my heart to a wonderful Modigliani, Young Redhead in an Evening Dress. I think she is so exuberant, barely waiting for the painting to be finished so she can go off dancing.

And also a Monet that I’ve never even seen reproduced anywhere, The Boat Studio. I do love a tranquil afternoon on the river and that water is so peaceful.

However, woman cannot live on art alone. Lunch and shopping beckoned, followed by a cocktail and then dinner. At which point I rather let down my end, because jetlag well and truly kicked in. I managed not to fall face down in my dinner, but collapsed gladly into bed not long after. For all I know (and suspect) Emily and ZM went out partying while I slept.

Thanks are well and truly due to Zoesmom’s mom for thinking of the trip in the first place, and to the birthday girl herself for inviting me as one of her guests. I’m honoured. It was lovely.

Demob happy

I don’t have to go to work tomorrow. Some holiday or other. La la la. This means:

  • I can have another glass of wine. Or, I could if we had any more wine but because I didn’t have time to forward plan, we don’t. Plus my first glass of wine was huge.
  • I don’t have to go to bed at 9.30pm but can have a proper, non-commuting grown up bedtime. Maybe 10pm.
  • My travel coffee cup is still in the car, and defiantly unwashed. Because I won’t be using it in the morning.
  • It doesn’t matter that I’ve run out of snack bars, because I will not be eating breakfast in the car.
  • I will switch off my alarm clock. Although I fully intend to be up by 8am to watch Wimbledon.
  • I don’t have to figure out now what I will be wearing tomorrow. Because I will be wearing pyjamas until the tennis is over.
  • I don’t have to worry about the downstairs neighbour coming home at midnight with 14 of his mates and deciding that is an excellent time to light a bonfire and enjoy the summer evening by talking VERY LOUDLY outside our bedroom window.
  • I won’t switch my Blackberry on until Monday.
  • I don’t have to find a book to read on the train tomorrow.
  • By the time I go to work on Monday I may have forgotten about today’s horrendous meeting, or will at least find it amusing rather than saying ‘That woman is a triple plated, five star bitch and This. Means. War’ (although, for the record, she is and it does).
  • Tomorrow night I will still have a whole weekend ahead of me in which to continue doing sweet fuck all

More new books

Up to Northampton again, where we visited bookshops and records shops and came home with quite a haul. I am blameless in all this, because no one in their right minds would take me to a used bookstore and expect me to come out empty-handed. Thus I am a mere twig on the seas of book fate.

  • Lady Audley’s Secret – Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Dorothy’s fault)
  • The Faerie Queene – Edmund Spenser (Emily’s fault)
  • Frost in May – Antonia White (read this whole quartet many years ago and have forgotten everything about it; this purchase is also Dorothy’s fault, I think)
  • Howard’s End – E M Forster (read this a few times years ago but one can’t have too much Forster)
  • Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece – Jennifer Wise (handed to me by my husband who knows I will read jump at anything with ‘Dionysus’ in the title because of my low-burning ambition to get back to studying).

But I did resist Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, because even I was shocked at the size of the pb edition. I would have to spend a couple of months at the gym paying far more attention to the weights to be able to carry that on the train. Have any of you lot read it?

And from the record store:

Walking back to Clarksville – Page and Plant

Manic Nirvana – Robert Plant

Discography – The Pet Shop Boys

and whatever the new Springsteen album is called. From which it may be discerned that most of the music I like is at least 20 years old. I mentioned this fact to my sister-in-law while in the shop and a lank-haired youth nearby said ‘Don’t worry, all the music I like is 20 years old too.’ Alas, I fear he fails to realise the difference it makes when the music was both released and attained classic status in your own lifetime.

Green mountain retreat

So, we’re off for the weekend. We are taking the Jeep of Power and our bikes up to Vermont where we are staying at the foot of the Green Mountains and near Mooscaloosa (sp?) National Park. Plans include: visiting the local bookstore; visiting antique and art shops; a bit of cycling, possibly near Lake Champlain but definitely somewhere with reasonable amounts of flatness; and a trip to Fort Ticonderoga, to make our military history buff friends jealous/proud.

Add to that the fact that I have only one chapter and some cleanup work to do on the evil manuscript, and that my friend Dave arrives next week, and the future’s so bright, I have to wear shades.

(Source that quote and I will send you a present.)