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[livejournal.com profile] millionreasons has pointed me in the direction of this post by Rebecca Solnit in the London Review of Books that perfectly encapsulates my feelings (and possibly yours as well) about going off the grid:

In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound – and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours – radio, television, print – and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning.

It's well worth a read.

There's a link also doing the rounds on Facebook that has made me think of this question about excessive internet use: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. From there, I ended up stumbling on 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook and I realised how much Image Crafting I've been engaged with[1].  But... aren't we all?  Is it possible not to Image Craft while online?  It feels like a conundrum.

Those two Facebook-related articles aren't explicitly about using the internet too much, but I feel you can infer from them that a lot of malady comes from it.

[1] I was doing this thing for a while where I posted online every Monday morning a photo of whichever cafe I was sitting in, doing a bit of creative writing.  Then, I went dancing with some friends and they said (in the best possible way) that those photos made them feel like shit because they always saw them when they were sitting in their offices, staring at the horrible week unfold in front of them.
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upload by olliefern
upload, a photo by olliefern on Flickr.
For 9 days, between Saturday 7th and Sunday 15th, I didn't check my emails, Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Tumblr or the other many social networks I use regularly. I also didn't mean to use the internet but I had to break this a few times to look up info: did the Lowry Exhibition at Tate Britain come with an audio tour? Where exactly did the country walk from Hassocks to Lewes start? Were we on the right path in Richmond Park? How much money did I have left in my account? Where exactly was that store in Brighton that sold 2nd hand postcards?

Sounds banal to say it but when you're not busy scrolling through your mobile phone you start to notice life around you. Like the amount of homeless and drunks in the Eastend. The amount of people walking while texting. The amount of people driving while texting.

I turned off roamer on my mobile phone so I wouldn't get push notifications (temptations.) I'd catch myself during the first weekend wanting to check something, or thinking up a tweet/LJ post/Facebook update. I started sleeping for longer periods, with less interruptions. I wrote more in my journal. I read more. Ideas for short stories and novels flooded in. My decision to never do NaNoWriMo again wavered.

Bliss: no idea what was going on with my family nor with my work. Days stretched away - a week felt like two weeks. I began to dread having to check my emails again - in fact, by this last Sunday I had terrible insomnia/anxiety. Woke up exhausted and compulsively went through all my notifications, updates and emails (mostly junk.)

A lot of my physical problems can be traced back to the internet: insomnia, r.s.i, bad posture. I personally don't think we as human beings were meant to be digitally connected 24/7. A few hours a day - maybe OK. More than that? Not good. Social networks are the processed cheese of the 21st century. And Zadie Smith was right about the internet being terrible for writers. Some writers.

The internet is my alcohol and it doesn't help that I work in a distillery. But I need to keep taking these breaks, so I'm going to try Friday night to Monday morning from now on. Save the weekends for non-digital stuff. Follow Henry Miller's suggestion that you should always finish what you started.

Yesterday, I joined LinkedIn.
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I'm about to go on holiday! I've taken a week off though I'm not sure if I'm going anywhere. I'm definitely not getting in a plane as my boyfriend really doesn't like them (neither do I, to be honest.)

What I'm sure: I'll be off email, social networks and my mobile phone for the whole time. I want a complete digital break (though I reserve the right to playing a bit of Wii if I get bored of my books and letter writing!)

The last time I went off the grid was during a week in Crete a few years ago with [livejournal.com profile] king_prawn [livejournal.com profile] neenaw and [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale It was momentarily interrupted when NeeNaw's mom called to announce Wacko Jacko had died.

What to do with my spare time? Day trips outside of London? Horror and sci-fi novels? The local pool? Zombies, Run? Sleep? Creative Writing? Perhaps a few nights in a B&B? Art exhibitions?

Going with the flow.
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Growing Stuff: An Alternative Guide to GardeningGrowing Stuff: An Alternative Guide to Gardening by Black Dog Publishing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the perfect companion for anyone interested in gardening, especially beginners. It's divided in six sections: the basics for getting started and maintaining your garden; simple explanation for growing your fruit and veggies; how to grow some flowers and herbs (and ways of using them later, for example, for mojitos or moths); practical projects for your garden (like building homes for ladybirds or worm farms); some curiosities, like seed bombs and cacti in jam jars; and a list of resources for further reading and research.

There are some lovely ideas in here (borderline twee), like carrots grown inside old wellies, and some not so lovely, lik cress grown in toilet rolls wrapped with newspaper cartoon strips. There are also plenty of lovely photos and even a few recipes for when you finally harvest your bounty.

Can't wait to take this book back to my mom's farm in Brasil and try it out!

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Arnold Newman/Getty Images
Paris Review
What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?


Truman Capote
I am a completely horizontal author. I can't think unless I'm lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I've got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don't use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.

The Art of Fiction No.17: Truman Capote

Bethnysium

Aug. 25th, 2013 02:36 pm
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Sitting in a pub on Bethnal Green Rd, drinking cider and listening to classic soul. About to watch Matt Damon's (read his name as said on Team America) Elysium. Took an hour to walk here. Spent 707 calories. Boyfriend is nearby, writing in his journal.

The people looking from outside are just looking at their own reflections... or taking selfies.

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Wax Idols, Discipline + Desire, 2013

My boyfriend was cutting my hair last week in our
makeshift hair salon in the kitchen when I suggested this album as soundtrack. As the album unfolded and he snapped at my salt & pepper locks, he said our mirror should be covered with skulls and we should be wearing heavy mascara.

Wax Idols are very old-school gothy (or post-punky, if you prefer).  Siouxsie's influence is in there with Robert Smith's guitar, as well as P.i.L. and Joy Division's rhythm section. For a more recent comparison, I sensed a bit of The Organ in there and even the Pixies.  According to Pitchfork's review, the band's front woman Heather Fortune, who once played with Hunx and His Punx, is a dominatrix during the day, which explains the album's title.  Hailing from California, there's a yearning for the type of darkness only the Brits know. I don't agree though with Pitchfork's conclusion that all songs keep the listener at bay.  It's the opposite for me; their 80s style alternative pop is nostalgic and embracing, with some songs like "Dethrone" staying with you after a few listens. It's a dramatic and catchy album, which is - really - my bread and butter. (It also helps that they are an all-female band!)


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Can any of you recommend a good CRM for a small arts organisation with little to zero budget?  I've already had a look at MailChimp and SalesForce but they don't "quite" work.  Many thanks!

Dead Teens

Aug. 12th, 2013 09:15 pm
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Skippy DiesSkippy Dies by Paul Murray

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This should have really been called Porky Dies because it owes much of its spirit to the 80s Canadian B-Movie "Porky's", with its gang of boys who only think of getting some action with girls, teasing each other, playing pranks and generally being obnoxious teens. Like Porky's, it even has an italian teenager who is the renowned "stud" of the group, though the novel distinguishes itself from the film by being set in an Irish Catholic boarding school rather than 1950s North America.

Skippy drops dead at the start of the novel, soon after arriving at a popular donut shop with his extremely obese and intelligent roommate, Ruprecht van Doren. The rest of the novel is a flashback of Skippy's life, loves, fears and adventures in Seabrook College. Other characters weave into this thread, like van Doren himself and his obsession with String Theory (clumsily cut-and-pasted into the novel from whatever research Murray did); the history teacher Howard "the Coward" and his midlife crisis; the drug addicted and dangerous school bully Carl; the beautiful and popular Lori from the girls-only school next door; and the old, dogmatic school priest who carries a few sex crimes on his shoulders.

I would have given up on this book at the start if this weren't my boyfriend's choice for our bookclub. I persevered through padded pages, teen humour that didn't cut a smile (though its obnoxiousness reminded me of my youth), and subplots that promised much but delivered little. Its small reward came towards the end, with Howard "the Coward" discovering Skippy's connection to the 1st World War and how he could use it to reach his bored students. It was surprisingly touching.

Looking around the internet, I'm surprised at how much people have loved this novel. I've missed something; maybe I'm too far from the teen I was once.

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Harsh beat, stress down my spine and fingers.

Sitting in the spare room, early Thursday morning in London, about to slip on some socks and head to work.

Bjork so hard, drilling a hole in my head.
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Vocals and chords from a tiny device I touch, a roar outside.

In my writing room, 9.13 Tuesday morning, before heading to work.

See myself walking all the way to the station while listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Madder Rose

Aug. 5th, 2013 01:02 pm
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Troglodyte RoseTroglodyte Rose by Adam Lowe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently stumbled upon this novel in Wattpad, where it's available for free as a novella. I was drawn to it because it was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, an award that celebrates "the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year".

Troglodyte Rose is a sci-fi that feels like a mesh between Mad Max and Tank Girl. It's written in short, psychedelic sentences, mostly through the eyes of a young woman, Rose, who lives in an apocalyptic underworld with her lover Flid, an intersex (hermaphrodite) referred to in the text with the gender-neutral pronoun "per" (borrowed from Margaret Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time".)

Rose and Flid are addicted to a drug that blurs reality and fantasy, and their lives are centred on stealing this drug while also dreaming of one day escaping to the overground. They nonchalantly save four princesses from a nearby world early on and the princesses join them in their robberies. Like most dystopias, this one has its monsters that keep the population in check: the Justicars hunt down anyone perceived to have committed a crime and are terrifying creatures nearly impossible to destroy. Soon, one of them is after Rose, Flid and the princesses.

This was an enjoyable, punchy read that left me wanting more. Some of its zest reminded me of Poppy Z. Brite's early novels. I look forward to whatever Adam Lowe comes up with next.

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New York Subway by areshuan
New York Subway, a photo by areshuan on Flickr.
I just received a notification that my close and intimate friend Jacqueline Sorbet has returned to her novel A Rendezvous With Passion. She posted its 3rd chapter online today.

To be honest, I thought she'd given up on it. It had been nearly a year since I'd heard from her; I figured she'd moved on to something else.

I swear I'll never understand these creative types.
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A Run

Jul. 24th, 2013 08:57 am
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Running around Vicky Park. Sweating. Listening to iTunes. Walking home. Waiting for the elevator. Thinking of work. Holding keys. Ting! Ting! Doors closing. Mirror. Going up. Red face. Sore ankles. My floor. Doors opening.

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Lovebox Festival by J_Ymmit
Lovebox Festival, a photo by J_Ymmit on Flickr.
Went running around Victoria Park this morning with my boyfriend and heard Goldfrapp doing the soundcheck for her gig tonight at Lovebox.

Ran past a gentleman who wished me a good morning. Ran past other gentlemen who ran their eyes between us with a certain curiosity.

Read on Twitter that Lil Kim was late for her performance so Lovebox decided not to let her on stage (fair enough.)

Almost regretted not having a ticket this year but the memories of being arrested and strip searched last year are still very much fresh in my memory.

Didn't win the lottery last night.  Didn't even get a single number right.
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29/1/2013 Lottery ticket by barbourians
29/1/2013 Lottery ticket, a photo by barbourians on Flickr.
09
Everytime I go to my local community garden, I buy a Lotto ticket at the WH Smith inside Stratford Shopping Centre. I have more chance of shagging David Beckham while Posh Spice looks on with a grin on her face but still I persist.

12
Our Garden Club leader is on holiday in the West Counties, so there was only weeding and watering to be done today. I learnt to "dead head" flowers and that people who use our garden during the week (it's open to the public) have no qualms about leaving behind their cigarette butts and energy drinks. Fuckers.

14
Rails have been set up across Mile End Road as you approach Grove Road. This is to stop drunk young ones from running into traffic when they stumble drunk/high out of Lovebox this weekend. Girls in hot pants, boys in black wife beaters. A lot of dodgy tattoos. Up on the double-decker bus I feel more than ever exiled from the land of youth.

21
Descale the shower head and get into lukewarm water. A cool breeze runs through the apartment. Plug my laptop, turn off the lights and watch trailers for upcoming films. Boyfriend returns home from his solitary studio.

30
iTunes on shuffle plays my brother's favourite song when he was a pre-teen, Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years". It's his birthday today.

49
These are not my lucky numbers.

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