fluffy!
sqwaaaaak!
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DISEMBARKATION IMMINENT

Right, my loves, my hearts, my remaining, dwindling, sugarplum lovelies. There has to be a change. I’m so precious about this big old beast of a blog that I’ve been paralysed, for a very long time, into not being able to write anything.

So I need to change things. I need to clean things. I need to scrub everything down, and start fresh. And that means a pretty big change. Which there isn’t a *lot* of time for, but it needs to be done. I need somewhere to write for myself, and this isn’t working. I have about a million things to say, and I need to feel less pressured about letting them out.

SO.

This is not a big “That’s it! I’m off!” tantrum. Just me saying that I might be moving things around a bit, and this site may disappear for a little, or change the way it looks, or acts, but it is necessary, and I feel excited about it. YAY. Good. If there’s anyone still out there. If not, then also good.

Everything is good.

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Letter of the law: toddler style

“You can sing, you can talk, you can read, but please stay in bed. It is bed time. Just stay in bed. You can do whatever you want, but I do not want you to leave this bed, do you understand? I love you, good night, see you in the morning” turn out to be really stupid words to say to a creative but poorly two-year-old with enough raised temperature to be under-exercised and bored but not enough to be floppy and sleepy.

Still, when I went back in an hour later and found him in the middle of leaning out and lifting a large foam cube into the bed, with everything else that had previously been within arms reach already piled in a pyramid in the middle, proudly presenting it when I opened the door with “Mama! It a SQUARE!” I really wasn’t able to be angry, because if nothing else, for once, he had totally listened and done exactly what I’d asked. He had not once left the bed.

It was just that everything else in the room had joined him in there.

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Psy what?

We’re sitting in the car. We’ve been sitting in the car for four hours, and the toddler is getting quite bored of this situation.

We are playing a version of “I spy” that fits an almost-two-year-old understanding of how things work, where one person names things and then the other people shout when they see that thing.

“Yellow sign!”

“LELLOSYNE!”

“Excellent! Now, what about a red car? First one to see a red car…”

“RED CAR!”

“Ok, that was possibly too easy. You think of one?”

“Pupple syne!”

“There are no purple signs, Doozer. There are lots of different colours of road signs, but not… I mean, there haven’t been any purple signs, have there, so we’ll be waiting an awfully long time if you really only want to see a… actually that’s not a bad idea. Ok! Even though there are no such things as purple roadsigns, the first person to spot a purple sign wi…”

We round another corner in the forest. Ahead, suddenly, tucked into a small town on the way up the mountain, is a large, purple sign.

“Pupplesyne!” shouts the toddler, contentedly.

We sit in the front, look at each other, then back at the sign.
“PSYCHIC”, says the sign, in big black letters on a rich purple background.

An ominous fanfare fills the car.

Well, no, it doesn’t, but it would have been cool if it did.
I should carry around an ominious fanfare band for precisely this kind of situation.

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Five things: Thursday December 19th

1. Hello. Hello!

2. As a small handful of people noticed (and I am very glad it wasn’t more, I couldn’t stand to think there are many still out there, still checking whether I’ve written anything, only to find I haven’t, still) the blog went down for a while – we’ve got it back up, though it still needs a lot of love and quite a bit of rejigging if I’m going to continue to have it, which I’ve set aside as a task for my beloved and I over the the Christmas holiday. Happy Christmas, darling!

3. We have moved back to San Francisco, which is nice for lots of reasons, but mainly, obviously, because the background of the blog is finally correct. Which is clearly among the most sane reasons possible to move your family across the world.

4. Programmes I have watched on American television and immediately feared for the sanity of humanity: “Buying nude” (in which nudists search for houses to be nude in, in the nude. And “Best Funeral EVER” which is precisely as tasteful as it sounds.

5. At the age of almost-two, Doozer has just learned to play the harmonica and is busy composing original works. So far he can play “The Really Long Song”, “The Song The Daddy Likes” and “The Last Song, Seriously, Because It Really Is Teatime Now, and The Harmonica Is Not a Fork.”

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Up in the air

I like bridges. The soaring views, the ability to zig zag a city, crossing from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, often completely different ones, lifting yourself up one side, and dropping yourself down in a totally different place, with a different atmosphere and different things to do. I like the way that, as you climb onto the bridge, the buildings drop away, and you get a proper horizon looking down the river, and a different perspective on the city.

Woman and AT-ATs, from bridge

I like bridges.

Or, at least, I *think* I like bridges. I like bridges in theory. And so I plan a walk, and it involves a bridge, and I think “that’ll be nice, I like bridges”. And then I go up on the bridge. And then I remember the one thing I don’t like about bridges.

It’s bridges.
I don’t like bridges.

DSCF3077

Because come on: they’re fucking terrifying, basically.

They’re high in the air – which is one thing that is terrifying. They’re over water, which is also a thing which is terrifying. They’re high in the air AND over water both at the same time, which is the most terrifying thing of all.

They have traffic going over them, whizzing beneath your feet or to one side of you at what feels like a thousand miles an hour, rattling the walkway with ginormous wheels, or suddenly honking a horn and making you feel like it was only sheer luck that the sudden burst of noise didn’t see you jump out of your skin and over the side of the bridge (which is, let us not forget, not only really high up, but also over quite deep, terrifying water).

If you are DOUBLE lucky (as I was, on a walk on a recent work-trip to a different city), you will also have a have a train line running over the same bridge that makes you want to hit the deck and lie there, face pressed against the floor until the squeaking and rumbling and shaking stops. And then you remember that the floor you want to throw yourself onto is not only high up in the air (which is terrifying) but also over deep, dark, terrifying water. And that seems FAR less reassuring a prospect.

Of course some people do this for fun. Or for work. With apparently no worries at all. And, of course, those people are insane.

This person, for example, is insane:

DSCF2967

It is, once I get up there, all I can do to find a relatively clear looking line, and walk it, as quickly and calmly as possibly possible, using my camera as a barrier between myself and the things that are logically very terrifying (the things about being high in the air and suspended over deep, fast-moving, dark terrifying water, which, lets face it, are not normal states to be in unless you are a seagull. And who wants to be a seagull? They make really bad food choices – lots of carbs, untold amounts of saturated fats – while eating food out of bins, and make funny noises when they have sex. On rooftops. Seriously, no one wants to be a seagull. Not even seagulls. They all wish they were ducks).

There is nothing much I can do about the illogically terrifying thing (that any bridge, at any time, might just choose any moment to collapse into the water. It just might), but still, if I can concentrate on other things, like taking pictures of that amazing view I knew I would get from up there, or the interesting angles of cables against the stone and try to take my mind off the fact there are teeming hordes of tourists blocking my route back to dry land.

DSCF2963

And then I look at the photos after, and I go “You know what? Bridges are GREAT!” (because they are, you know? They really do have all those benefits to them, the views, the walks, the blah blah blah, they would just be improved by being NOT high in the air and NOT over water, which, now I think about it, would make them more ‘pavements’ than bridges and oh never mind, this theory has not worked out as well as I thought it might) and then, the next day, plan a walk on a bridge, forgetting until the very second I get up onto the next one that for a person who likes bridges, I really, really don’t like bridges that much.

For very, very good reason. Because they put you in a state that no non-seagull person should be in.

But that won’t stop me walking across them.

DSCF2970

Oh, for the record, I’m not great at driving across them either.
But then, neither are seagulls.
So I’m going to pretend that one’s totally rational.

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Disco chicken

I visited with this chicken this week. It was the greatest chicken I had ever seen.

EVER.

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Five things, since i”m paying for the desk space anyway

I was planning to use this morning for all the things that were NON worky and involved being at home, but then, due to My Beloved having an inconvenient fever (she said, in her most sympathetic voice) I have had to come to use the office space we pay for while Doozer is at creche. On a day when I wasn’t planning on doing any worky-work. And, in fact, was determined not to. So. Hello.

FIVE THINGS

1) Meaning to type ‘cheers’, I just signed off an email ‘cheese’. I didn’t notice until it was gone. Maybe they won’t notice.
Cheese,
Anna
Oh, who am I kidding? They’ll totally notice.

2) Having to had to forcibly refresh my secondary school learning of algebra, and actually teach myself something about grammar for the first time (it was out of fashion in secondary schools in the 1980s, it seems, and my a-levels/degree didn’t touch it either, so while I might know it innately, the amount of actual technical terms I could apply to my english could be written on the back of a postage stamp in fat felt tip), I am now having to remind myself of basic principles of physics that I haven’t looked at since I first learnt them at 13 or 14. This job I’m doing at the moment (for an education company) is being very, VERY educational. To me. I have no idea if any of that will be passed on to the intended parties…

3) I like hot weather. I understand it can be unpleasant in the cities, but if you live by the sea, and there is a nice sea breeze, it really is much nicer. This is why everybody, with no exceptions, should live by the sea.

4) Planning a wedding in two months is good, but a little stressful for someone who cannot make decisions without flip-flopping and considering every single option at least 400 times.

5) Smallcat went missing earlier in the week. I was terrified and upset, thinking what could have happened to her – having been an indoor cat for almost 6 years, and an outdoor cat for only the last 4 weeks, she is not the most streetwise or clever of kitties. But she came back, strolling in and demanding food like nothing had happened. And we were pleased, and relieved, and delighted. Although, frankly, I might have preferred it if she’d left the fleas she brought back with her wherever it was she found them.

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Beautiful songs of love (and otherwise)

My brain started whirring as I walked this morning. I was listening to music on my phone on shuffle, and it suddenly cut in with a snippet from a film, with one character saying “The answer… is NO.” and the other replying “Well why didn’t you just SAY that?”

And it made me think, as you do, about how you would reject a marriage proposal by mix tape (or playlist, now, I suppose). Because obviously this would be a perfect last track. I always used to like ending each side of tape with a tiny snippet from a film soundtrack or comedy album or, most often, the muppets, and this would be perfect for the purpose, if the purpose was required.

So. a) hello, and b) If you could make three mixtapes, playlists, whatever,
1) one to propose to someone,
2) one to accept a proposal and
3) one to reject a proposal

what would be on them? I might compile them on spotify later.

NB: This is not a subtle way of introducing the fact I am secretly getting married. We are getting married, it isn’t a secret, but also it has nothing to do with mix tapes…

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5 things – Tuesday 11th

(Yes! It is I! Anna Pickard! Hello! Not dead, etc…)

1) Three weeks after moving in to our new house, the bathroom wall has so many tester patches of paint on it, it might as well be a patchwork quilt. After all these years of renting, the ability to make decisions about what colour rooms should be is harder than I ever expected. I always thought I’d be bold and colourful, but no, no, just paralysed by the freedom to choose.

2) It is raining. From my desk in the co-working space, I can’t see more than a block for the driving mizzle. This morning, I pondered working out how to put the heating on. Poor do, June. Poor do.

3) I just discovered that Edgar Allan Poe spent some time attending school in a wine bar around the corner from where we lived in Stoke Newington. That certainly would explain a few things: his later death from complications arising from alcoholism, the murderous looking orangutan that used to work as a conductor on the no.73 bus, and the fucking raven that once took up residence in our bathroom and wouldn’t stop mumbling ‘nevermore’ every time anyone went to the toilet.
Admittedly, the wine bar may not actually have been a wine bar at the time he attended school there, but let’s just say it was. Let’s just SAY.

4) After a week of commuting from New House to our office/creche on the train with his father while I was away working last week, Doozer has strong associations between the ‘choochoo’ (and when did he ever meet a train that went ‘choo choo’?!) and ‘Dada’. So this morning’s journey was one 25-minute-long string of ‘Dada! Dada? Dada. Choochoo widada. Choochoo. Dada. DADA!’ He pointed at the train driver and shouted ‘Dada!’. He swung around to several different fellow passengers and pointedly asked “Dada?”, or exclaimed “Dada!” in an increasingly accusatory tone.

“That’s not your dada” I said, trying to set strangers minds at rest lest they were standing there trying to remember if we’d ever met, let alone doinked. “Your dada’s gone to London today”. I might as well have turned around to everyone and said it straight: “We do KNOW who his father is, honestly. He knows, in fact. And it’s not you, I promise.”

5) I was wondering about giving myself a random post title to try and write something every day for the next wee while as an exercise, so went looking around for random post title generators. I found a couple, but since the first suggested posts on this one were ‘Six things I hate about Belize’ (I can barely think of two), ‘I despise Malaysia’ (I don’t) and ‘Let me tell you about mayonnaise’ (Why don’t we just not, and say we did if anyone asks later?) I have decided against it.

I’ll think of something.

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And time. Goes by. So slowly.

But mainly, I find, if you put full stops in the middle of sentences for no reason whatsoever.

SOME LISTS

Eight things I have been reading lately
1) Several books on grammar for people who are of the age when they decided that it wasn’t worth teaching grammar in British schools. Well, I say ‘several books’. I’m reading two. And in both of them, I’ve got stuck on the chapter on tenses, which I have reread every night for a week. They still don’t make sense.
2) The internet. All of it, at least once a day, sometimes twice.
3) Mark Twain’s ‘Roughing It’. Which is delightful, as historical travelogues go (and it’s still my favourite genre – if you can’t time travel, it is the next best thing) although it is horrifically racist about American Indians, which may be representative of the age, but by jiminy it’s hard to read.
4) A book on game design that I meant to read ages ago.
5) Something about how to do parenting without dangling rewards. It is very good, but I can’t offer you any incentive to read it because that would be too much like implanting in your mind that the only reason for you to read it would be to please me or to expect reward for doing so, so I’ll just leave it there. To be fair I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m not 100% on the exact principles.
6) Food labels. Salt. Calories. Dairy or non-dairy? Does it contain gluten? What about liquid nitrogen, does it contain that? Unicorn protein? Ground-up mesopotamian artefact? Peanuts? Everyone round here is just so picky nowadays.
7) My teenage diaries. I was just packing stuff into a box to go into the loft. And dear heavens, they’re appalling. Part of me says that I should keep hold of them because one day I’ll regret it if I don’t, but then the other part of me says “Really? Because twenty years has already passed, and they are NOT getting any less embarrassing.”
8) Train timetables.
9) The Lelony Snicket books. Just because.
10) Plays. Bored of never reading plays any more, I started a play club with several similarly minded friends. It’s like a book club, except you don’t have to read anything between club meetings, you just decide on what play you’re going to read on the night, turn up with a copy (and some wine/food etc), then sit around and read it, swapping parts so everyone gets to read and listen equally. It is not the most academic way to read plays (there are a *fair* amount of silly voices as the night goes on and people try to find ways to distinguish characters/change sex quickly. Oh, and as the wine kicks in, obviously) so you have to only invite people who won’t be put out if it’s not Very Serious, but it is surprisingly amenable to discussion at the same time. It is GOOD. I recommend it.

Ten of the things Doozer now says (or tries to say)
1) CHOOOOOS. (as in “Mother, if we are going out, I will need to wear these CHOOOOOS on my feet”)
2) CHEEEEEEEZ (as in “I don’t care what you’ve been slaving over on that hot stove. Do you by any chance have any wensleydale? or in fact any CHEEEEEEZ?”)
3) DATS! DAT! (He calls this insistently up the stairs as I fill the cat bowls. The DATS come running. They care little for proper consonant prononciation)
4) TOST (“That adult-sized portion of porridge was nowhere near enough, are you mad? I will require some grilled bread. With marmite, if you have some.”)
5) DOH! (He’s a big fan of doors. He’ll often proclaim this, gleefully, while swinging one shut in your face).
6) SDTAHHHR (they are in the sdkhhhy, don’t you know?)
7) MOR? (with pleading eyes and a single finger held up? Oh go on then. Just ONE more.)
8) STAIR (said with a serious nod, this can mean either upstairs or downstairs, depending on where he believes a banana is most likely to be hiding)
9) Oh. (“I have just fed something through this gap in the floorboards. I am now unable to get it back, nor explain to you what it was due to my lack of vocabulary. It might have been a playing card – it might have been your credit card. Who can say for sure?”
10) THASSEEEEE (A lifetime of walking by it and saying “Doozer, can you see the sea? Look, it’s the sea!” has apparently paid off.

Ten things
1) I discovered that Doozer’s model pig has surprisingly detailed genitalia today. It was quite the thing to discover at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning, I tell you.
2) In the aftermath of this, I discovered that a Tyrannosaurus Rex from the same company (so, one assumes, one dedicated to verisimilitude in all genital areas) has NO genitalia. So that’s the question of dinosaur extinction solved, then.
3) I have a blister on my toe.
4) Recently, I have realised why I don’t go out to work in public places very much. It’s because I pull the faces responding to whatever (or whoever) I’m writing as I type.
5) What would be nice would be a holiday. Even a tiny one. I cannot work out how to make this happen.
6) I have two cats curled up, one on each foot. Best slippers EVER.
7) A few nights ago, I ate my first ever chocolate pretzel. I have eaten several others since.
8) I like my work at the moment. I like working. And I like my work.
9) Not all the time, obviously. I’m not mad. Also I like my Doozer. I like both. And lots of other things as well.
10) Last weekend, Doozer posted two thirds of a set of jigsaws through gaps in the floorboards. We can’t lift the floorboards here, and there’s no other way to retrieve them, so, after explaining to him why we don’t post things through gaps in the floorboards, and after he went to bed, I found myself carefully posting the other 4 pieces through. If someone’s going to get them one day, they might as well have the whole set.

I’m going to try doing five things every day this week, again. Just for discipline’s sake.
These were just some extra things, because I have been quiet so very long…

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Wednesday, Wednesday

doo doo, doo do do do…

Actually, now I hear that out loud I’m not sure it’s a song. Not that I do hear it out loud. Even if I wanted to sing something out loud right now, I couldn’t. I still have no voice. I open my mouth and vague hisses and peeps and unintelligible whispers emerge.

This is a horrible situation for a shy person. I can just about get through professional and social situations by listening carefully, gauging tone, preparing what I want to say in my head and then saying it out loud at what I believe to be the right point. However, when that process is disrupted by the mouth opening/nothing coming out problem, it all becomes so much worse. Because then everyone’s staring at you. *shudder*.

So that’s been the main identifying factor of the last two days: no voice.

Also:

– I ate a tiny dried crab. It was horrific. I realise and accept that there are many people in different parts of the world who would replace ‘horrific’ with ‘a yummy yummy snack’ (and they are perfectly correct to think so, all ideas of deliciousness and desirability are, of course, dependent on culture and society and etc etc etc) but for the ten minutes after eating it, I would happily have those people committed, en masse, as they are clearly all certifiably insane. It was like I had a crab mausoleum filled with the desiccated remains of tiny crab ancestors in my mouth, and someone had blown it up with a bomb made of a pinch of salt, a little sugar and a whole tablespoon full of ‘OH LORD, THAT’S DISGUSTING’.

– Not entirely sure what the precise laws on right-of-way are in New York City, but am becoming pretty clear on the fact that pedestrians come quite a long way down the chain.

– Other stuff and oh now, the baby is crying. No more writing for me.

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Some monday things

1) My voice is gone.

2) It is alarming how not-weird it feels living and working in this place for a while. I’m not sure why that is – I think because it’s a blend of so many other places I’ve lived. But I was expecting it to feel more ‘other’ than it does.

3) It is time for bed. I am alarmed that I have made it past 10pm tonight. That is insanely late for me at the moment. ROCK AND ROLL.

4) Several times today I had to walk across a large brige with subway trains rumbling across it. Having watched rats running along subway tracks all last week, walking underneath tracks does cause fleeting thoughts that maybe, just maybe, there will be rats that were running along those tracks that will have been thrown loose and sent flying through the air by the passing train, bound to land on my head, any second.

5) Today I renewed my dedication to one day writing a choose your own adventure game. Or book. I wanted to when I was 7, now I actually might have a professional excuse to do it. I will. Yes I will.

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7/5: Sunday sunday

Here are my things for sunday (based on the same principle of the ones I’ve been doing all week)

1) The vomiting has abated, let general celebration commence, and Doozer is gradually starting to return to eating food. Including, first, bananas, which he has never, ever agreed to eat before.

2) The longer I spend in an apartment that, weirdly, has no sofa, the more fetishistic I get about the greatness of sofas. Sofas are amazing. If you have a sofa – and I’m sure you do, it is the right and proper thing to do – go to your sofa right now and tell it you love it. Sofas are amazing. You can sit on them with people.

Seriously, who has no sofa?

3) I am currently watching the latest episode of The Good Wife. It continues to be one of the most enjoyable, talkable-about TV series My Beloved and I watch together. I feel sad for people who dismiss it because it’s not on a special channel or thought of as having a female lead, so not as … I don’t know, something.

4) Walking into the icy wind in New York, we discovered today, is quite a lot like having razor blades thrown at your face by a penguin. And also up your skirt. Those penguins are bastards.

5) We had hot dogs for dinner again. But they were artisanal hot dogs, so that’s probably better. Right? No. Oh, never mind.

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Friday things. And then Saturday ones too. Friday and Saturday things.

FRIDAY

1) It was neither a good, nor a bad sandwich day. It was a mostly neutral sandwich day.
2) I had no idea that there were different types of trains running along the line we’re staying on until I got on an express train by mistake and ended up several miles from where I wanted to be.
3) Doozer, still under the weather, was enchanted by a merry-go-round today. When he is better, we will go on one. Or just buy him a brightly coloured horse with fixed prosthetic legs and a large kebab skewer running through it that means it can only go up and down as some kind of pet. No wait, now I’ve said it out loud, it sounds cruel. It all sounds cruel. BOYCOTT MERRY-GO-ROUNDS.
4) Bobbie got shouted at by some bloke in the street for putting the rubbish out in slightly the wrong place. I have been making up cutting remarks and crippling put-downs for this bloke all day. He had better hope he doesn’t run into me any time this week, he’ll be there for HOURS. No one tangles with my family. Not when I’m this short of sleep.
5) Things are happening. I’m not sure what they are, but I am very bad, sometimes, at being aware of decisions being made and stuff moving on. So there we are. This is me being aware.
And obtuse.

And SATURDAY

1) Went for brunch at the house of two good friends and an adorably tiny dog. Friends I’ve known for most of the last ten years, through blogging. As ever, I am happy and grateful for the bloggings.
2) Felt comforted and unbearably patronised by a 12-year-old pediatrician, all at once.
3) Hot dogs are a valid dinner.
4) In a park at the end of a nice walk, we found a large man making balloon sculptures for passing families, apparently out of the goodness of his heart, and a talkative stranger with a child named Walker. Walker is a surname.
5) We passed a laundrette with a very long involved sign that read: WHEN YOU COME HERE YOU ARE HAPPY/WHEN YOU LEAVE HERE YOU ARE SATISFIED. Which at first glance seemed like a large claim, but then, they just seemed so confident about saying it, it was hard to believe it wasn’t so. Perhaps it is. I will go in and check for you one day.

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This is a little red boat. Little, red, and boaty.

I still post. Occasionally. Honest, I do.