hopefully just of a messy one

Up at 6:00. sit at 6:30, then shower and breakfast.

Then down to moving things around again. The stuff I moved yesterday has created a whole other layer of things that I can get rid of. I start shifting them to the corridor and once more get the assistance of my father in the process.

Another incredible, clear spring day. Lovely.

This time when I return I do feel that I’ve managed to clear some space and reorganise under the bed and in the living room. I also clean the kitchen area, although not to the extent of mopping the floor. There’s also a new fridge arriving to replace the one I have now: the door is broken. It works, but is incredibly inefficient.

Space is cleared. The final effect isn’t of a tidied flat, though, but is hopefully just of a messy one. I find it incredible that it can have taken over my life for so long to so little effect. Pah, I’m moaning again.

Another addition to the Scholastic job, but now it’s nearly done, touch wood.

Juan arrives at 6:30 or so. We have a cup of tea and discuss what still needs to be done to the flat. He thinks it’s doable, and I still have to get stuff into storage (that won’t be available for a while) and also sort out books to sell (hopefully). Also I think that some of these piles of paper and other assorted junk could be thinned down a lot.

I don’t have any food or light in the kitchen area (sorry, this sounds desperate: recently I’ve been having a run of things just stopping working, most recently the light in the kitchen and the tin opener. I’ve not managed to get a replacement for either yet) so we go out to get food. I’m halfway to somewhere before I realise that I’ve not thought it out at all and turn back. I get a veggy thali from the local Indian takeaway. We take it home and eat it, then I change the sheets on the bed and Juan goes to sleep. I’m just about to put the duvet on the sofa and do the same.

no less cluttered

I get up at 6:00, but my body refuses to comply with my request that it do something other than just lying there in a lump. Eventually I do breakfast and showering and assembling stuff to go to the dump.

It’s a full-blown blue-sky spring day, hurrah. Everything changes around this time, not just the temperature, but also the vibe and the sound of the neighbourhood. It may be persistent traffic, but that traffic sounds different in the summer from the winter.

Of course I shan’t be here to hear the traffic this summer, but still.

There’s some confusion with Maude. No AT today. Probably just as well, but perhaps not. Thursday morning with the whole school, I think.

At just after 9:00 my father appears and I move the stuff downstairs – a lot of books, some black bags full of clothes, a chair, an electric typewriter (!); an Apple StyleWriter and various other bits. Then he drives me to the New! Larger! dump by the Walworth Road and I throw the debris into the relevant bins. Then home, where I found that the flat is no less cluttered than I left it.


It’s beginning to feel like a curse.

Further activity is of the picking-things-up-and-organising them variety, small stuff. Incremental change is transformative, but it’s still incremental, and that can be disheartening sometimes. Oh, stop whining, John. It’ll all be different when I’ve packed the stuff I’m taking with me into the boxes and sent them off to Germany.

I call Donna at Walker and fix my attendance for the week. We should have the job done by the end of Monday, fingers crossed. Although, it’s quite difficult to do Photoshopping with crossed fingers.

It appears that not even Alastair Cooke was immortal. I was beginning to wonder.

ridiculous obstructions

I drag myself out of bed at 6:00, or just after, and do the Tai Chi exercises and then sitting, and then lying on the floor, the last not officially part of my rising strategy. Then I get up and have a shower and breakfast.

At 9:30 I get back to moving things around. I can’t understand how it’s got so difficult – a year ago my living room was almost normal and now the whole flat is impossibly cluttered. The main problem is still that a lot of stuff has to go to charity shops or the dump at more or less the same time, which is when I get a lift to do it (probably tomorrow). Also large cardboard boxes which will be very useful for sending things to Germany but are currently only useful for causing ridiculous obstructions.

There are things in the bedroom that I pick up and stare at, wondering how I could have thought them keepable for so many years. Amazingly, I still thought they were keepable a few weeks ago, the last time I picked them up. Buh.

There’s a call regarding this year’s St George’s festival flyer, which I put together to email over, but there appear to be server diffulties of some kind so no email incoming or outgoing. Strangely frustrating, considering I probably wasn’t going to get any anyway.

Lunch and back to moving things around again.

At 2:30, a nice man appears at the front door and gives me a PowerBook, which is pleasant. Not enough time or space to set it up, though. Which is less pleasant.

Then there’s a call from Tim, so I get back to corrections for him. By this time the email appears to be working again, so I can mail to him and the St Georges stuff. Or at least I think I can. I sent it, I only hope it was received.

I have to get a letter in the post. It seems to be a good idea to go outside at least once a day. It’s spring out there. Hurrah.

In the evening the moving stuff around slows down a lot, and I put on the television. Terry Jones explaining why everything we know about the three King Richards is wrong, and who King Louis was. It’s a bit broad and cartoony, but you can’t doubt his scholarship, or his enthusiasm come to that.

I arrange a lift to the dump and charity shops tomorrow, when I’ll finally be free of a lot of this stuff. I hope.

where I should be decisive

I don’t manage to timetable the stuff. Or, indeed, anything. I get up late – even later, actually, because the clocks went forward last night, so it’s an hour later than I thought. Some stuff is put out onto the street for collection, but apart from that, not a lot.

Feeling tired and sluggish all day, finding it difficult to move, let alone do stuff.

At lunchtime I go out in search of food. I walk up to the Marks and Spencer food shop at Waterloo Station and decide (as I always do) that it’s very pretty but too expensive and anyway I don’t know what I’d want. Then I walk all the way down to the Tescos at the Elephant & Castle and buy fruit, mainly.

I pass a board advertising friday’s Evening Standard, that says "Hollywood Stars Split" I assume that it’s unclear about which particular stars it’s referring to to make people want to buy the paper. Either that or it’s a default headline they’re using when there’s no other news, because… well you know what Hollywood stars are like. Some of them are bound to be splitting somewhere.

I make too much lunch and then eat it. Then I dither around the living room where I should be decisive.

I put the DVD of Lost in Translation on while I dither. I suppose I’m a third generation watcher – the first generation being the people who saw it and thought "Wow! This is great!", the second generation being people who heard the first generation talking about it, went to see it and thought "Actually this isn’t as great as people said" and the third generation who have no idea what they’re going to think.

It’s OK. Some bits are pretty neat. I like the making of documentary better. Any film with Bill Murray in it is worth watching because it’s got Bill Murray in it. Except Where the Buffalo Roam. The only reason to watch that would be if someone had tied you to a chair and got that apparatus they use on Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange. Even then, it’s a close run thing.

If I’d been in the first generation of viewers I think I’d have liked it a lot more.

Further adventures in film viewing (thanks to Channel 5) include Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder is a god, or very close); and Judge Dredd which would be a curate’s egg if it had good parts in it.

When there’s something big and important I need to do I seem to leap to small and insignificant things, not managing to do the medium-size and quite-important-actually things in the middle. Pah.

actually, embarrassingly, true

Hello Crafties, everywhere. It’s Saturday again. I’m getting better at connecting an efficient route around the world. I find that when I begin I have to recite people’s names in my head, then as I get into it, the faces appear in my head (this usually means Spain, by the way. Spain seems to be in the middle) and then I have to work harder towards the end (usually Japan and Australia).

Gosh, we’re all over the place, aren’t we. Next week I’ll go a different route. Give the antipodes a chance to be visualised.

After breakfast I get down to shifting things around my living room. The problem with tidying is always that it involves untidying. Despite everything I seem to have an inexhaustible fount of junk, particularly the not-to-be-thrown-away-immediately kind. I move the television and the hi-fi and put up another shelving unit and that takes a lot of the day. When it’s done it will be a big improvement. I know you’re wondering how it’s possible for that to take such a long time, but the time was actually eaten by my sifting through the debris that was thrown up by the process.

It will get done. Honest.

A problem with this, at least for me, is that it’s so sprawling and formless that it can’t really be fit into a timetable, although the thought struck me that perhaps one way to make it manageable would be to make a timetable and sort of make it fit.

(Crafties all round the world say "Well, duh!, how long did it take him to figure that out?" as one.)

Then I have a MSN Chat with Mariana O (haven’t spoken to her for a while) and Vinka, partly about what I’m going to put in my diary. If that’s not too self-referential.

Oh, well. I’ve received a lot of good advice about tidying over the years. I’m sure most of it is still here. In a pile, somewhere.

(Or alternatively, I had a book called Freedom From Clutter but I lost it in my flat somewhere. This last is actually, embarrassingly, true).

Yes, I know, I was waxing enthusiastic about getting rid of everything. The problem is that even after one gets rid of a bunch of stuff, there still seems to be a lot of everything left.

But I’m working on it.

In its original box.

I found it difficult to get out of bed this morning and missed sitting. Six isn’t a natural rising time for me, but I do appreciate having the extra hour to do stuff. Ah well, I’m sure events will inspire me to motivate myself soon.

Today before I went to Walker’s I did some more corrections to the Scholastic job and emailed a PDF over to them. All this stuff at our disposal – part of my mind is still in the time when everything had to be shrunk down enough to fit on a floppy disk. And dinosaurs roamed the earth, of course…

I get a call saying that my new PowerBook will be delivered on Monday. Hurrah. All the money that normal people spend on dissolution and vice, I spread around various computer suppliers. Personally I think this is a good thing.

If nothing else, it’s a constant lesson in impermanance and dukkha – the bright, shiny AlBook of today will be, within four years, only of use as a doorstop or a paperweight. I have an old black PowerBook somewhere that fulfils those purposes beautifully, and its original purpose not at all. In its original box.

The job at Walker’s seems to be coming to some kind of conclusion – that is to say now all the spreads are done and today we fiddled with them and changed them according to the wishes of the original illustrator, who I suppose should have some say in how her pictures are used. This meant stripping away layers of shadow and lighting that I’d added, which did improve it. Working more closely with the art director is good, and makes the work go more pleasantly and smoothly. Let’s see if it’s possible from at a distance of several hundred miles (I suspect it is. She’s less convinced).

Back home I give in to the fact that my brain isn’t working and look in vain for entertaining trash on the television.

I eat an entire swiss roll. I wouldn’t recommend it.

in opposite directions

Up at 6:15, sitting from 6:30 to 7:00. Shower and breakfast at 7:30.

Then I work on a font job that dropped on me yesterday. I’ve been offered a lot more money if I do it quickly. So I’m doing it quickly.

I get into work at about 10:00 and pick up where I left off yesterday. I wonder when this project will get into the middle, and everything will unravel slightly. Perhaps the unravelling has already begun and I’ve not noticed yet. It’s seems to be going smoothly… Perhaps someone will bugger it up for us tomorrow.

At 13:00 I go off to Golder’s Green and another AT lesson, which are coming fast and furious these days. Perhaps not furious. That wouldn’t be very AT, I think. But fast, anyway.

I arrive early again. Today Maude and Ariane both work on me, which is interesting, as their two styles are different. Also, having a third person there to notice things from another perspective changes the dynamic and makes it more extrovert, or at least less introspective.

Something I get back to is the quality of looking, as a practise to position me in that room at that time, when everything becomes sharp and clear and in three dimensions – perhaps this is a realisation that I’m living in a real world with depth and everything; perhaps it’s just that I’m bothering to focus for a change. What it reminds me of is the last couple of days in Mendoza last year, when I’d been walking around really looking at everything on the offchance that it might make a good picture, and by the end everything was ultra-clean and ultra-sharp and I thought it was the quality of the light and atmosphere in Argentina, and now I suspect that it was my eyes.

It’s also very interesting to have two people pulling one, gently, in opposite directions.

On the tube back I practise Looking. Hopefully this won’t get me into any fights.

Then I set to the work again, leaving at just after 19:00. I walk across to Waterloo Station and visit the Boots there, buying some mouthwash, shaving oil and razor blades.

My brain has gone fuzzy again.

I download the complete Real Book series as PDFs from a secret, but not very well hidden, website. It’s amazing how many of those tunes I’ve never heard of. I wonder how many one really needs to know. I’ve been told that all one needs for jazz is a good ear and a large number of II-V-I progressions, but I’m not sure. There’s always be a clever bugger dropping unexpected chords in. I play through a few on my acoustic nylon string guitar. Perhaps I should transpose them – the range of Jazz song melodies sits in a place that’s just too high for my voice (or, an octave down, just too low).

stuff is inescapable

During the sitting I endeavour to make contact with the state of mind that yesterday’s AT lesson encouraged in me. Perhaps not wholly successful, but along the right lines. A couple of thoughts: that my involvement in this process seems to revolve around the same discoveries or insights over and over, but each time different, each iteration seems like the "real" thing. Whatever "real" might be, like seeing something from a large number of angles (I do seem to be obsessed by this idea); the state of mind turns everything into a game.

After breakfast I do the Scholastic corrections and email them across. Then I walk to work, via the bank. As I’m walking I continue my pondering.

I work through to 6:30 with a break for a too-large lunch (somehow portion control doesn’t seem to be a priority when I’m standing at the serving table) and a lie-down under the desk – a sort-of sleep, but then any sleep that’s unexpectedly punctuated by Overkill by Motorhead on my iPod is only going to achieve sort-of status. Great sounding track, that, but not ambient.

Another spread out of the way. Home at 7:00.

I buy my ticket to Kiel and inform PowerLady RdU of the details. Oh, my goodness, it’s all real, isn’t it?

I do an hour with the guitar – basic primaries and dipping into the small amount of repertoire I know. The problem I’m having with practise (the problem I’ve always had, I suppose) is that at the moment, for me, it’s essentially aimless. I could aim for an hour of Second Primary (I really ought to do several months of Second Primary); but…

But what?

Hmm. There are days with fixed timetables, and days when all one can say is that breakfast was at one time, dinner at another, but the bulk of the day is just stuff. Measureable days are better, I suppose, but stuff is inescapable.

Except I wasn’t hypnotised.

I get out of bed late and don’t Sit. Days when I miss the sitting seem… not quite right, somehow, or feel as if I’ve started out on the wrong foot, or forgotten to put my trousers on.

And I get to work later than I wanted because I thought I could have my old diary turn into a rolling archive by changing one variable. It seems that I was wrong, but I redirect visitors here.

So I get to Walker at just after 10:00 and set to the next spread – it gets put together very quickly, gratifyingly so.

At 12:00 I set off for Maude’s, where I’m having a lesson with her teacher Anthony (to sort of calibrate the lessons she’s giving me, I suppose). I arrive early, get a cup of coffee (so as not to fall asleep) and wait for them to arrive. When they do we get straight on with the lesson.

It’s full-on and quite intense. And during the lesson (at some point); some kind of penny drops – for a while I have a clear vision of what is meant by choice, and "do nothing" and other things that also occur in Guitar Craft. I describe the feeling later as like when a hypnotist clicks his fingers and tells one to wake up. Except I wasn’t hypnotised.

And there’s a very important question, which I attempt to answer until realise that what is needed is to keep asking the question, not finding an answer.

An extraordinary experience, with some important ramifications, I think. One important thing that it did was to intensify the work that I’ve been doing with Maude.

After the lesson, when Anthony has gone, I have a cup of tea with Maude and chat about it. Then I set off back to Walker’s again, significantly more chilled than I’d set out.

I work through to about 6:30 (by which time that spread is done and I’ve set out on the next) and then walk home via a couple of supermarkets, and buy grapes at one and yoghurt at the other. There was nothing else I wanted. And the yoghurt isn’t, sadly, vanilla (the flavour of choice of the South American League of Crafty Guitarists last October. I noticed this when I was doing breakfast: the League tended to choose vanilla yoghurt over strawberry. I’ve gone for vanilla yoghurt ever since, in hopes that it will improve my guitar playing. Suricata told me that it was something that I should tell Hernan, that it’s the sort of thing he’d like to know, but I never did. Until now).

I have cheese sandwiches for dinner. There are a lot of things that I would have preferred to cheese sandwiches, but I didn’t buy them. So why…? I don’t know.

There are amends to the Scholastic job, but I don’t do them. Too fuzzy-brained.

C.S.I. and some flavour of Law & Order on Channel 5.

Almost spooky.

I get up a 6:00 (7:00 Kiel time, if you’re counting Kiel time) and Sit, then shower and eat breakfast. I’m working on getting my portions under control again, which means weighing. I’m mildly disappointed by how small a portion actually is.

I commit to a major purchase: eyes closed, forging ahead against all odds… isn’t shopping supposed to be fun?

As soon as I have done this, my HiFi amplifier stops working for no reason whatsoever. The very moment. Almost spooky.

Held up by needing to get some corrections over to Macmillan, I get into Walker’s at 11:30. So there will be at least some in-house working over the next couple of weeks.

The job I’m there to do will involve pushing the envelope of the particular character that I’ll be working on. Rendering dimension and lighting effects in an essentially flat, archetypally cartoonish environment. I’m actually looking forward to it. This is only the visualisation stage, though. The artworking stage comes a lot later (and that’s assuming that it’s approved, which it might not be. It actually tears up a lot of rules, although the casual observer might not notice this).

I get home at seven, make some dinner, have a quick MSN chat to Vinka and then finally move the stack of CDs out of my living room (where they’ve been for an embarrassingly long time) to the bedroom. This arrangement in itself is only going to be temporary – I really need to get the place sorted out by … oh, bugger … next Wednesday.

Some CDs are still unripped, so I decide which ones I’d like to take with me. I rip my entire collection of Tiger Lillies CDs. Perhaps I can use this to scare people with: the Lillies are a band who specialise in obscenity, certainly to a greater extent than one might normally expect from an accordionist. I like them very much, although I admit there’s only so much Lillies that one can take at one time. Apparantly, they’re quite big in Germany. That’s the impression I get, anyway.

Very late to bed again…