A comfy chair, two recipes and an outline

Today I worked and I wrote, and I feel good about the latter and I bit less about the former. But one can’t have everything.

1. A comfy working chair. Don’t underestimate the importance of a comfy ergonomic chair.

2. Kramer vs Kramer. I hadn’t see this movie in possibly thirty years. It was made the year I was born and my mother was obsessed with it. No surprise there. She was very sympathetic towards Meryl Streep character and I’m sure she wished she had gone off too. And once in a while she did but only for a few weeks. I knew the movie was really about Destin Hoffman’s character journey but I had forgotten how little she actually changes by the end. It’s possibly the only flaw I could see.

3. Pork Belly Slices. I don’t make them often, almost never, but today they were exactly what I wanted. I used this recipe from Kevin is Cooking blog.

4. Here’s another recipe I really really want to try. It’s for corn chowder from The Kitchn. Their book is amazing and it really helped when I redid my kitchen with great advice on how to structure and organize even the smallest of kitchens.

5. An outline. How do people write fiction without an outline? I couldn’t do it. I mean I don’t even know if I can do it with an outline but I certainly couldn’t without. At least this way if something isn’t working I can try and tackle something else before going back but no outline? I could be stuck forever.

By the way, today is the birthday of the Boy who Lived and look what TFL has done. Clever, no? One day when I retire I’ll re-read them all.

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Matthew McConaughey, chocolate and a podcast appearance.

Am I grateful for Matthew McConaughey? Yes. I. Am.

1. The Wedding Planner. A good romantic comedy but nothing to write home about except Matthew McConaughey’s cuteness and Jennifer Lopez’s comedy timing. What I liked about this classic wrong man/wrong woman comedy is the way it’s resolved: they are both engaged to be married to other people and in the end their respective partners find in their heart the compassion to let them go. It’s a nice way of doing it even though the main characters’ agency is compromised.

2. I was in a podcast today talking about narrative structure in romantic comedies. I could have spoken for ever. The format is perfect for me and I would absolutely love to start a podcast of my own. However, would I actually have the guts to do it. Sometimes I wonder whether I never dedicate myself wholeheartedly to anything because that way I can kid myself that I didn’t succeed because I wasn’t bothered and if I had wanted, but I didn’t, I would have been an enormous success. I think I’m actually life-paralysing scared.

3. A new haircut, which is the same haircut but fresher. I adore my hairdresser even though every other word is a ‘like’ and I’m not sure I can condone that since she’s in her forties. She cuts hair like a goddess though.

4. White chocolate and strawberries chocolate. I probably shouldn’t have had that; the acupuncturist has told me I have to cut down on all my favourite things: tomatoes, dairy, vinegar, onions, chilli, garlic etc. Boring! But I’m a rebel so I had chocolate today. Actually I’m being mostly well-behaved

5. The Bestseller Code by Matthew Jockers and Jodie Archer. These two have developed an algorithm to identify the elements that make a bestsellers novel. I’m about twenty per cent of the way in and I’m curious to see where it’s going. The reviews on Amazon aren’t great but I’m keen to make my own mind up. I’ll report back.

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Notting Hill, roasted chicken and differentiation

1. Notting Hill. Another day another romcom. Do yourself a favour and got watch it now. It’s on Netflix! Richard Curtis really is a romantic, isn’t he? Can you believe this take on the classic Cinderella story is almost twenty years old? Do you ever wonder how many story plots wouldn’t make sense today because we have mobile phones and there’s much less scope for conflicts and near misses etc.

2. Roasted chicken. I made an awesome chicken roast with roasted broccoli and corn on the cob. As a starter, I made crispy courgettes with lemon and mint. They were supposed to be a side dish and they work better with vinegar, but they were too moorish so we had them as a starter. I keep remembering to take pictures of the food I cook only after I’ve eaten it.

3. Differentiation aka the ability to stand on your own two feet and soothe your own anxieties. Sounds good doesn’t it? It takes effort and practice especially if you are in a committed relationship, especially if anything that could go wrong has gone wrong in the five years since you got married and you had to rely on your spouse as an emotional crutch in order not to go crazy.

4. She by Elvis Costello. Oh was there ever a more perfect match between song and film? To be fair the entire soundtrack is perfectly pitched.

5. Biona Rye Bread. I’m not a healthy food obsessed but I’ve tried this as we’re cutting out or at least cutting down carbs and this seemed a nice alternative, and now I love it. But it has to be toasted, with a drop of olive oil and smoked salmon. Have I mentioned I could live on smoked salmon at the moment? I went through a phase where just the smell was disgusting to me but now it’s the only thing I want to eat.

An orange lehenga, jalebi and lamb souvlaki

Something good happens every day. You just need to be able to see it. A shorter post today as I have work to do. Weather gods allowing, we’re going to Whitstable to stuff ourselves full of oysters.

1. The most beautiful orange chiffon lehenga you ever shall see. I found it in this shop Monga’s that was recommended to me by a friend of a friend. It has a longer blouse and silver embroidery It was love at first sight. I love when that happens.

2. Southall. What an amazing, beautiful place with sarees shops and street food vendors. There was a temple I wanted to visit but time got away from me. I so want to go back.

3. Jalebi. I don’t have a sweet tooth but good Ganesh above, that was good. They offered it after I got them to let me try dozens of lehengas and sarees. It was amazing. Alyah, he lovely shop assistant and I are best friend now after she’s seen me in my underwear and pulled me out of a few tight blouses.

4. Homemade Lamb SouvlakiCompletely not in trend witht the rest of the day but I was dying for some and I thought it would be healthier than a dirty curry (especially since I’ll have to fit into a fitted blouse). So I got some beautiful lamb and roasted it very quickly, sliced it and smeared it with Tzaziki and mint sauce. The husband and I gorged on it over the kitchen counter.

5. The sound of wind and rain outside my window. Maybe things will be alright after all.

Miss Congeniality, rain and a food exfoliator

1. Miss Congeniality. I can’t believe I had never seen it before. Sandra Bullock is so cute carrying the whole thing and making it twice as better as it would have been with any almost other actress. Her character is scripted to have a few nuanced and a few surprises. My favourite bit is when she teases Eric by the pool about how much he likes her.

2. Rain, glorious rain. I love a good thunderstorm. This afternoon the street looked like a Bollywood movie. The smell of it is insane. The sound was defeaning, like cymbals in a big orchestra. The ligthening was a technicolour show. Our cat doesn’t mind too much although she hates the small electric fan. Only god knows what goes on in her head.

3. 4,000 words. I’ve given myself a target of 300 words per day. It’s less daunting that way and easier to stick to. I’m meandering and writing a lot of stuff I’ll need to cut but I feel good about it. I feel for once I am where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Once I have something solid and concrete to work with, I know it’ll be easier to tinker with.

4. Sleep. I’m actually grateful for sleep. For what it does to my brain if not necessarily for what my brain does to me while I sleep. I work better in the morning even though sometimes I wake up with dark thoughts. I’m trying to quit.

5. Foot exfoliator. I know this is silly but exfoliating my feet gives me great joy for two reasons: one is that it makes me feel I’m taking care of myself. In a small way I’m doing something kind for myself, and the other is that I don’t think I have pretty feet (it’s not a big deal like a complex or anything) and maybe this way they look a bit more feminine, maybe?

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A movie, a hot guy on the tube and a tiny fan

1. Four Weddings and a Funeral. Another movie to analyze for my research. This time I was interested in observing how Richard Curtis dealt with the arcs and the plots of Charlie’s friends. They’re used to reinforce the main theme as they all want the same thing.

2. The ridiculously good-looking guy sitting next to me on the tube. He looked as if somebody had taken the best bits of Jude Law and of Chris Hemsworth and used them to create a superior species. So I texted one of my clients to tell her this guy was so scrumptious I wanted, no, no, I demanded she wrote a book about him. She insisted I took a photo. I couldn’t. There was no way I could do it without getting caught. Please there are ethical implications. I couldn’t do it but I’ll take the memory forever in my heart. He had spectacles! I ogled. I’m not even sorry. By the way, The Holiday’s Jude Law is my favourite Jude Law.

3. A tiny fan. I think TFL (that’s Transport for London for those outside London) is actually trying to kill people by not having AC. That, or they’re training us for when we have to move to the sun! I have a wittle straw fan that’s saving my life. There was a recorded temperature of 36C on the Central line today.

4. Working from home. Not having a commute is a blessing at any time. Even more so in these temperatures. London is melting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hot at home too but at least I can sweat in my pants where I’m not in fact required to wear clothes.

5. Waking up early. The older I get the more I enjoy the productivity of my early mornings. This morning I had written a considerable amount of words before my husband was even up! It’s like I’ve been given the gift of time.

Just to give you an idea of this guy:

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A book, a website and a dog video

How fragile is our ego that needs to be propped up by something or somebody outside ourselves. The ability to stand on our own two feet, to be accountable and to be responsible, is the best gift we can give ourselves.

1. Rachel Burton’s The Many Colour of Us. What an intelligent, assured writer!

2. People who bare themselves in order to help others. A friend of mine has started this blog/website called Uber Barrens Club to offer support to women battling infertility and pregnancy loss. The topic is certainly uncomfortable but people can share their experience.

3. For the first time ever my ‘I don’t like dogs and we’re not getting one’ husband called me over to show me a clip of a dog getting super excited to have his human back from deployment. This is a fight I can win. I just need to show me the enthusiasm and love dogs lavish on you. As much as I adore my very aloof cat, dogs are a totally different game.

4. Just keep swimming. It really is one foot in front of the other. Just keep going. You’ve got this. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, even when you feel in the pits, just keep going and you’ll get there.

5. Things coming to fruition. When part of your work comes from freelancing, it might seem a long game but things can turn on a pinhead. I had two bits of good news, in an otherwise deserted landscape. So here’s to my fortunes finally changing and to making the most of opportunities.

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