invisible birds

I have one way glass on my windows, the same type that’s used in police interrogation rooms. So I can see out but people looking in only see their reflection.

So one morning I hear this insistent tap on the windows and I nearly jumped out of my skin. After a while I realised it came from outside, this bird was perched on my plants and pecking at the glass. It took me a second to realise it was seeing another bird and was probably trying to communicate with it.

Now it happens almost every morning, often there’s 2 or 3 of them, all pecking and flapping their wings at their non-existent cousin. It’s a funny sight.

this was how the day went

The weekends of not touching the computer continue. Should I be proud? distracted? worried? When was the last time I updated this on a weekend?

Here’s how it went.

Paying respects
To my grandpa, grandma, their respective mothers and aunt. Mum usually buys a flower basket for each, such pretty baskets of roses. I’m never afraid of visiting that cemetery, I’ve been there so many times, it feels kinda peaceful. I feel protected with so many loved ones there. They’ve opened up more of the hillside, it looks more open now.

Playing ball
After talking about it for a long time, we finally booked a squash court and had a one hour game. Our email exchange about booking was kinda innuendo-y:

me: I think we should aim to do some exercise this weekend.
her: of course! what do you propose? somewhere public as suppose to somewhere private, I suppose??
me: how did you read my mind? my first thought was the epitome of innocence, that we should book a squash court at the leisure centre. I even went as far as trying to log onto the esd website but couldn’t pull up the page. just as I was writing the mail something else occurred to me and by the time I hit send, I did have in mind other exercises I’d like us to be doing, and very much in private. your bb is very very very bad.

We came close to the personal exercise, very close. But we missed it once again.

Eating in
We’ve sorta stopped eating out as often now. After squash we bought fresh crabs and beans. Steamed the crabs and made a stir-fry of the beans with beef. Dinner at home. It was great. Last night we planned to eat in too, but didn’t have time at the end.

Fixing backs
Perhaps it’s age, or stress, or sedentary lifestyles, we needed to sort out our aching muscles. My back was in very bad shape. Anywhere that the therapist touched was painful. But after the kneading and pressing it was a little better. My left arm was so stiff he had to pull on it and make it go crack.

Changing phones
We both changed our mobile provider to a cheaper one. I don’t really answer the phone anymore, I use it for the caller display and missed calls. That’s all. What’s the point of continuing with the most expensive service in town?

Having words
We had an uneven day yesterday. Ups and downs. Fighting and making up. Tears and laughter. Pouts and grins. Not touching. Holding.

Stocking up
At the end I had to do a big shop. Had a coupon that was expiring end March so I went online and bought supplies of drinks, mint, canned stuff, household stuff. I have enough food at home to last like months, it’s always been the case. I’m a hoarder.

research

There is a large mountain of paper I’d printed out as writing research. What a strange collection.

Oxford University – courses offered, information on all the different colleges. It’s been a long while since I’ve been there but I think I can visualise, in any case I have writer’s licence, right?

Robot Sheepdog Project – this topic continues to fascinate me. That the project was initially conducted by researchers in Oxford (amongst others) is no co-incidence, I discovered it while surfing around the Oxford site looking for interesting research. It ties into my synopsis so neatly.

Scottish clan history – this need to be extended to cover the other celts, the Irish and Welsh. Then may be I will focus on particular areas.

Wiccan Rede and glossary of terms – once I started reading about wicca I realised how familiar and intuitive it is, the ties to nature, the celebrations. The best part is the freedom on the part of the individual to choose the way they practice, there is no compulsion, no rigidity, nothing that is considered unnatural, forced, artificial. The Catholic in me is horrified, but at the same time I can’t help wondering, that if the wiccan religion can accept and encourage co-existence with other religions even within the same person, how come the Catholic Church feels obliged to exclude and condemn anything that doesn’t conform to their teaching? Shouldn’t there be acceptance and tolerance in the world?

Mystical significance of numbers and number patterns – ok that’s me trying to bring together 2 extremes. But are they really extremes? It’s surprisingly how much they can be related.

What I don’t have yet:

  • legends surrounding Arthur and the knights of the roundtable
  • mystical places in Britain, particularly in the west country
  • healing through music
  • Venice tourist guide

I know. Strange collection.

natural holidays

Winter was officially over and the day passed me by. Hmmm. Not so much in tune with nature am I. It’s interesting to note the main pagan holidays, something I only had a slight awareness of before I researched it for my stories.

Candlemas falls on Feb 2 and marks Mid-winter. Also known as Imbolc and Brigits’s Day. Brigit, or Bridget of Kildare, or Bìghde is the the Celtic goddess of fire, the hearth, smithy, fields, poetry and childbirth.

Spring Equinox marks the first day of spring, March 21, when the farming year begins. Also known as Ostara.

Beltane May Day, or May 1. When the seeds that have been planted in the spring start to grow. In pagan terms the day is one of celebration of all things godly.

Summer Solstice the first day of summer, normally June 22, is the longest day of the year. Hence it’s alternative name of MidSummer.

Lammas or Lughnasadh August 1 when fruit begins to appear and can be harvested.

Autumnal Equinox marks the first day of autumn, around September 21.

Samhain also called All Hallows Eve or Halloween and falls on October 31. When the barriers between worlds are thinnest and those who have gone on before can walk in this world. A day of rest and reflection.

Winter Solstice the shortest day of the year around December 22nd marks the first day of winter.

the new old relationship

Two full days and I did not touch a computer once. Not being at home, my home, helped, still I’m giving myself a little credit for not touching her iMac, hell I only went into her study once to get a T-shirt out of the closet. Even when she’s in the shower, or cooking. I was up to part 90-something of a fic that is currently at something like part 150 and just finished chapters that are arguably the best in the series. Lots of anticipation and wanting to read them over and over.

The thought was there. It whispered to me, quite insistently at times, that I can make time and read a couple of chapters. But I wanted to show where my priorities are, should be, that it’s what I want. That she’s not fighting a losing battle with the computer. Cos that has been mentioned, more than once. May be it’s false promises because we both know full well what I’d be doing come Sunday night and all the other nights during the week. That I can’t sustain a net-free existence for long and certainly where there is no end date.

Which means that at this stage we’re in no way ready to live in the same house again. Even though a small notion, an inkling, is germinating in both of our heads, the way one of us sometimes mentions it in passing. Our lives have moved apart due to the passage of time and circumstances. And we’ll need to grow closer and be more comfortable about this new incarnation of our relationship to even start thinking about building a life together.

So much has changed since those early days when we had very little money but so much more freedom. And at one stage, for some bizarre reason, 3 cars. That we didn’t have to apologise to anyone, including ourselves, if we slept in till the sun was way up in the sky, or frolicked till the moon has done its rounds through the night, or spread a sleeping bag out in the living room and spent whole days and nights there.

Now, now we’re different people. With jobs. And mortgages. And heads that would not stop churning out thoughts. That we talk about when we can afford to take a week’s break rather that if we can afford the price of the holiday. That we debate the merits of the different investment fund choices for our portfolio. That we talk about drawing up power of attorney for hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights.

I still have some doubts. I can’t forget what has happened before and I don’t want it a repeat of the pain. I can’t bring myself to say the words. I don’t know if I feel them yet. Truly feel them. I wait for the earthquake, the tingles and the breathlessness to hit me but they seem to have passed me by. Perhaps it doesn’t work that way any longer. Those are the usual manifestations of a new relationship. Ours isn’t new. Even though it’s only been 6 months or so this time round. There’s too much emotional baggage and history for the earth to shatter. It might tremble a bit but most of the time it’ll just rumble on steadily.

We’ve been together 5 or so years during the last 12. It’s not been easy. But I hope we want this enough to make it work. I do.

bad hair day

This guy next doors in IT has great hair. And no, it’s not in my nature to notice guys but I started noticing how neat and effortless this guy’s hair is. Considering a few desks over this other guy has a permadome of greasy slicked-back hair that gives me total wiggins. My boss has great hair, but that’s because a lot of effort has been put into making it look effortless.

My colleague came in with red highlights today, a change from the usual blonde hightlights. It’s okay, but looks exactly like what it is – artificial highlights. Most people in the office have dark hair, some have highlights – the aforementioned blonde and red but also blue or orange tinges. I remember playing around with hair mascara a few years ago, to paint a few strays of hair purple or gold or blood red. It lasted a day or two, I couldn’t even be a proper rebel.

I haven’t had long hair since, well since never. This one time when I was a teenager my Mom took me to have it permed and it turned out to be a disaster and I was so angry at her. She kept at my hair for years and years, every time I’d have a haircut she’d say something like why do I cut it so short.

My hair.
My choice.
Isn’t it?

Which part of choice do people not understand?

suffocate

There’s so much pollution that sometimes I can’t see beyond the next building. I can’t breathe, I have a sore throat and my eyes, nose and back of my throat are scratchy and itchy. I have to take a triludan but it takes an hour to work and makes my head dry up so much I need to take 2 paracetemols to fight the headache. It’s altogether a sorry state of affairs.

A year and half in Switzerland and I did not need to touch the triludan even once. It’s so bad for me. I guess I’m lucky I don’t have to rely on an inhaler. Yet.

Right now the sky is so full of smog and light pollution that it looks like a damp wet grey blanket smothering everything. The smog won’t even let the sky be the blackness that it is. It’s impossible to see the stars. The last time I looked up and was greeted with the sight of a million brightly shining stars was in Africa.

Almost forgotten.

In the daze.

In the haze.

I’m drowning in the air.

soup and chocolate milk

It’s been soup for the last 3 meals, and it will be soup again tonight. A bunch of us at work are having Soup Week, where each day one of us brings in a soup for sharing. My turn on Monday and I made carrot & orange soup. And I made a lot. I don’t mind having the same food repeatedly, such is the nature of cooking for one, gotta get used to it. Today’s soup was vegetable. I had a couple slices of plain toast and a fruit salad also. Feeling all healthy and righteous right now.

Been on a soya milk and chocolate milk binge lately. I dilute the chocolate milk with plain milk to make it less sweet. It has the same calorie content as yogurt drink which is surprising. I would have thought the yogurt drink is healthier. Then again define healthier. After I had the yogurt drink yesterday my reaction was, at this amount of calorie content I may as well stick with Diet Coke. I’ve decided I need more calcium in my diet, hopefully not too late to strengthen the old bones. Can’t drink milk on its own, don’t like the aftertaste. Haven’t had milk from a bottle for ages, gold top for full cream, red top for normal, blue top for skimmed.

reflecting, remembering

Yesterday we visited her sis. We went to the flower market on Saturday to get the flowers. I bought yellow tulips accompanied by small white flowers, I never know the names of flowers, I know I should. Apparently tulips mean love and passion, but yellow tulips mean “There’s sunshine in your smile”.

The area is concreted down and some of the neighbouring spaces already have headstones. We were able to find her place because her father sprayed a little green paint over it, as marker. It felt strange to walk on the concrete, I tried not to step directly on the ground right above the body, out of respect, and because I feel so weird about it. There were no containers yet so we laid the bouquets out on the ground.

Her parents are deciding on the wording on her headstone. I looked around on the net and found this:

Not gone from memory
Not gone from love
But gone to her Father’s
Home above

Is it disrespectful to look for epitaphs on the internet? I hope she will smile and say of course not. I like the simplicity and meaning of this inscription, I always wonder how people can be so eloquent and profound with just a few words.

As for the difficulty of expressing one’s feelings after loss, I wrote this when I was still in college. It’s not from personal experience, I have no idea where it came from.

Departure I : Silent Breeze

I was trying to write a song for you
Trying to write some words just for you
Trying to preserve in my mind’s eye
One special image of you

But all the words I wrote
Well none of them would do
These words
Words wrung from my heart
Words to tear me apart
Just weren’t the words for you

As I sat alone at my desk
For hours from dawn through dusk
I could only remember your last day
And the moments we had before you went away

Suddenly on my book I wept
And all the pain and hurt I’d kept
Deep inside the void in my heart
Came up and shook my spirit apart

And all the words I wrote
Well what good are they now
These words
Words wrung from my heart
Words to tear me apart
Will never be heard by you
Are you happy there
In that other place
Are you lonely there
In that other place
Please save some love for me
Please dream a little of me
Wait and I will come
To that other place
Some day

And though I tried my best
I could not let my grief rest
Though I know that none of the words here
Can bring you back to me

All the words I wrote
Do they matter at all
These words
Words wrung from my heart
Words to tear me apart
Just slow how fragile life is

And still …
Your memory ..
I am missing you …

riding on buses with strangers

Sooner or later you get to recognize a few fellow passengers, people who get on the same bus as you every morning. The young man with the designer beard and fancy jeans with his wife/girlfriend in a normal business suit. The tall lady with blonde hair in a bob. The Asian guy who lives in the next building, who you feel a certain kinship with because he has an iPod. The sporty girl who gets off at the stop opposite the YMCA, she has the air of a trainer. Who are these strangers? What makes them tick? What are they like outside of the work clothes you see them in?

Why do you want to know?

I don’t. I don’t have any interest in these people on an individual basis. I don’t know them, they don’t know me and I don’t want that to change. Their purpose is to become random samples, of what individual can be like. To exercise the imagination. To make them less faceless.

Why do you want to know?

Stop thinking about individuals for a minute and think of people in general.ran

What they think about.
It is said that humans only use 10% of their brain. One in five of the population have thought seriously about suicide. Males on average thinks about sex every 7 seconds.

What makes them different. What makes them similar.
More people use a blue toothbrush than any other color. One in ten is gay. Over 80% of are right-handed.

What are their dreams.
Most people dream about 5 times during each 8-hour period of sleep, meaning they have about 1,825 dreams every year. Smells and tastes are experienced in approximately 1% of all dreams.

What are their fears.
The 3 most common fears are: snakes, heights and flying. Pteronophobia is the irrational fear of feathers; linonophobia is the irrational fear of string; nephophobia is the irrational fear of clouds.

Why do you want to know?

In a sea of faces, how is it possible to find the one you’re looking for?

mind babble

I’m not gonna put a version on these anymore because there’s no point in trying to keep track, why bother putting essentially random thoughts in their little bitty order.

quiet time
I have around 15 minutes in the morning while riding on the bus to wake up and think. I don’t like that time to be disturbed cos it’s quiet time for me. But there’s always the danger that someone I know will get on the same bus. I don’t want to talk to them that time of the morning, I’ll try to hide or turn my head. It’s inevitable when we get off that I’ll have to greet them but then the ride is over and I would have had my quiet time and anyway it’s only a couple of minutes’ walk to the office.

work shirts
I was talking to my sis on the phone last night and she asked if I have any spare work shirts. I like wearing shirts, given a choice I prefer something with collars than not. T-shirts I tend to just keep for wearing at home or playing sports or when I’m wearing shorts. I have a big pile of polo shirts, mainly black or blue. I have a small collection of shirts but they tend to be quite old – mostly stripes, some white, some blue for wearing under suits. I don’t like wearing just a shirt, it leaves me too vulnerable, I prefer to have a jumper or coat to protect it.

A few years ago mm bought a couple of really nice shirts from Pink, and one for me. Impeccable. Crisp. Smooth. A class away from the normal Benetton or M&S ones I own.

investments
Last August we opened a joint investment account. Started small, but since then we’ve topped it up twice. Now the portfolio includes: fund of funds, student accommodation fund, Eastern Europe, Asia. Quite a mix. She’s really keen on Asia and guessed right on China and India. I wanted more global and sector rather than countries or regions. Initially I wanted healthcare but we decided against it. It’s a lumpsum investment so it’ll just sit there for a long while, at least that’s my plan.

We also opened a monthly savings plan. The fund picks for the savings plan are different from lumpsum cos we can afford to go for more volatile investments.

She reads up on magazines, talks to the advisor, actively looks out for new ideas. I let her do the research and she tells me all about them. My attention span on these isn’t as great, I just want to put the money away somewhere and forget about it. She has other types of investments on her own account, things I’m not interested in. I have a global leisure fund, corporate bonds and index funds in my own name. Some investments we do together, some we do on our own, we try not to be too “together”. Even though the aim of making these investments is for our future together.

Do we? Have a future together?

chairs

We’re getting new chairs for the office. It’s a big thing. Okayyy.

We have to make sure our personal belongings and confidential files are all locked away. We even got instructions on how to use these chairs properly – how to adjust the height, tilt, lumbar depth and all. It’s all very technical. Just in case pictures aren’t enough, we can download quicktime videos to learn about the various ergonomic adjustment options available. Or what about articles, research summaries, case studies and awards, these are all available on the webpage.

I mean, it’s nice and all but it’s only a chair, people. No need to go all TMI. Sheesh.

sneakers

It finally happened. We were walking from the dry-cleaners to the bus-stop on saturday and I thought I had a pebble so I turned over the bottom of my sneakers and eeeep! there’s a gaping hole in the middle of the sole. My favorite sneakers, ones I’ve had for 4 years, since before I went to New York. I’m glad they lasted this long. To think of the places they’ve traveled to, amazing.

I should throw them away but I can’t bear to do it yet. So they sit rather forlornly on my shoe rack. I don’t have proper replacements, I know I have the new black hi-tops and a fresh pair of vans, and what about the navyboot collection, or the red camper. None of them are suitable substitutes. May be this weekend we’ll have to go on a sneaker hunt.

scary technical

I had a big scare when I got back. I got an earlier flight so I was home more than an hour earlier than expected. I had time before going to dinner, so what do I do? Hook up the Powerbook, right? Natural as natural goes. Imagine my horror when I could connect successfully but none of the webpages loaded. Not even the simple ones like yahoo or google.

Mad panic and very annoyed for 2 days. Yesterday I tried using dial-up which worked, albeit at a snail’s pace, so it wasn’t the hardware or browsers. So today I checked the faq, and luckily it was a simple fix. Phew. So for posterity’s sake, here’s how to set up broadband:

  1. In TCP/IP select Enternet.
  2. Use the PPP server.
  3. In the Name Server address box type in the IP addresses: 218.102.62.71 and 203.198.23.208. If they don’t work, use 1.2.3.4, in any case Open Transport need that box filled. That’s what I forgot to do.

The not-so-new news is that I feel like my arms and legs have been chopped off when I’m offline. Scary.

I did manage to do a fair bit of writing though. I updated Bigtown, Between, Unexpected. And started another. At least I was productive.

remotely technical

In the past if you travel on business to another location you’re pretty much stuck without your regular files, phones and stuff. Not anymore. Files stored on network drives, email accessible at home, blackberries, broadband in hotel rooms – remote working is not so remote anymore. That’s the advantage. The big disadvantage is of course there is no longer any excuse.You’re expected to be equally productive wherever you are.

We’re so spoiled. We get impatient when the printer is slower than usual, or there’s something wrong with the newfangled machine that is copier, scanner, fax and printer. Contraptions that have so many purposes nowadays. Unthinkable only a few years ago. Imagine, mobile phone, PDA, camera, camcorder, mp3, calculator, browser and what not, in a gadget that can fit in our hands.

I feel like a dinosaur.