commonpeople1: (Avatar)
Gary Numan : Warriors by See Gee
Gary Numan : Warriors, a photo by See Gee on Flickr.
I returned to Electric Dreams last Friday. It was good - solid four hours on the dance floor - but emptier than the previous time. I've noticed a pattern with the DJs: start out with popular synth tunes, get the dancefloor going. Then, bring on a DJ that plays obscure stuff that only the hardcore enjoy. Finish it off with a third DJ returning the popular tunes (even Madonna!). 3am, lights go on, everyone goes home.

It's a dying scene though. Always the same (old) faces. Everybody stuck in the same decade. Thatcher is gone but we still keep dancing. As soon as it hits midnight 31st December 1989, we get thrown back to the start of the decade. Everyone else moves on.

On Saturday, I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness on 3D. It was fun, or maybe I was just too gobsmacked by the £17.50 ticket to see it for what it was. No wonder downtown cinemas are dying. The meagre audience had a good chuckle when the screen said after Fast and Furious 6 "reserve your tickets now and avoid the rush." "What rush?" asked the woman beside me holding the tiny £5 popcorn bucket.

I've been going for runs in Victoria Park during week mornings and, last Sunday, I returned to the local pool after a year away. I've been reading loads, working loads, working out loads, wanting to go out loads... but broke.

I'm supporting Norway in tomorrow's Eurovision.

commonpeople1: (Avatar)
writer's nook - blue pillow by omoo
writer's nook - blue pillow, a photo by omoo on Flickr.
I'm alone in the flat, in my new office (the spare room.) I've just eaten a tuna sandwich and drank a cup of tea (while surfing Tumblr and YouTube for company). I have my headphones on and I'm listening to a mix that includes songs from Grimes, Zola Jesus and Hercules and Love Affair. I'm about to do some writing.

I woke up early today with my boyfriend's alarm clock. He needed to leave the house early to cross London and join his sister for a yoga class. He whispered to me just before he left that there were some pancakes and blueberries in a tuperware for me. I ate them for breakfast with butter, maple syrup and coffee.

Around 10am I left the flat for my local gym. It was blissfully empty (as it always is during mornings.) Afterwards, I bought some groceries at Sainsbury's and took a bus back because of the rain.

I've started a new writing routine: on Mondays, I have my breakfast at a nearby cafe and do one of Linda Barry's image exercises. Last Monday I pulled out of the envelope one of Henry Darger's images - a small girl leaning against a tomb-like stone in the middle of a field, surrounded by two ethereal, snake-like flying creatures. I wrote a short story based on that image which I plan on finishing up today.

Tomorrow morning, another local cafe, another randomly-selected image, another writing exercise. And so on for the rest of the year.

Later today I'll play Xenoblade Chronicles (because I intend to finish it in my lifetime) then cook a stir fry for dinner. There's a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge and Derek Jarman's "The Tempest" lying by the DVD player.

Just before bed, I'll read a chapter of George R. R. Martin's A Storm of Swords. Only a month and a half until Game of Thrones' Season 3 starts.


commonpeople1: (Default)
Gotta Love DVR by LeftOnBase
Gotta Love DVR, a photo by LeftOnBase on Flickr.
It's coming to an end! The two quietest weeks I've experienced in London in the eleven years I've lived here! Empty tube trains, empty buses, empty parks... it's been a sort of bliss. Where have all the Olympic tourists been staying? I don't care - I'm just glad it's not anywhere near me!

We originally had plans of going to Kew Gardens today but I'm feeling a bit lazy. Feel like tidying up the flat a bit, going for a swim, lying in Victoria Park, reading books.

I'm happy and a little excited to be finally meeting [livejournal.com profile] olamina for the first time this week after so many years of being friends on LJ. I'm happy about my two upcoming weeks of annual leave (which will probably be a staycation as we really can't afford to go anywhere). I'm happy that things are going well with my family in Brasil and the stressful emails have stopped. I'm generally happy with life right now.


commonpeople1: (Default)
After getting some new bespoke running shoes at Runner's Needs (thank you [livejournal.com profile] sparklielizard for the tip!) I've become a regular jogger in Victoria Park. I like to go in the mornings, with my iShuffle plugged in (dangling from some very expensive, neon Adidas running earphones I also got at the shop). I do one full circuit of the park - the equivalent of 5K - then follow it up with two days at the gym doing weight training.

Yesterday morning I noticed a group of short, skinny people doing sprints in the park... Olympic athletes! They were from Rwanda, I learnt later. Apparently they didn't feel like practicing in the Olympic stadium and asked if there were any nearby parks they could use. Victoria Park was the suggestion. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I do.

This London Olympics, which felt very British when it was first announced, has become progressively more "American" as the years have gone by (and especially under the Tories.) Do we really need the biggest McDonalds in Europe built right inside the Olympic park? With a ban on nearby businesses from selling french fries because McDonals has the sole permission to sell it? It's the next best thing to having a giant American flag waving in everyone's face. And by "American" I mean in this context profit-over-commonsense - that neoliberal idiocy that businesses ultimately choose what's best for everyone.

Still, despite all the weird stories surrounding the Olympics (from slum conditions for cleaners living near the park to graffiti artists being arrested), I felt a thrill of excitement at suddenly being so near to Olympic athletes in Victoria Park. My dance company is also involved - we performed as part of the Olympic Torch relay through London and many of our dancers are part of the opening and closing ceremonies.

On McDonalds related news, HBO Documentaries has made available online its recent "Weight of the Nation" series. You can check it out on YouTube. It's in 4 parts and quite compelling viewing, especially if you also recently saw the BBC's "The Man Who Made Us Fat". The series is often mawkish but has some eye-popping figures and graphs. It's made me go off soda drinks for life.
commonpeople1: (Default)
tube, london by milenavan
tube, london, a photo by milenavan on Flickr.
I walked past a young man this morning in the Tube (Bank station), sitting with a Transport for London staff member and holding a cup of water and a bar of chocolate. She seemed to be explaining to him something. (Don't travel on an empty stomach? Drink more water?)

On Friday, the same happened on the Northern line, only it was a young woman who fainted inside the carriage. The crowd on the platform gathered at the door instead of giving her space (bunch of nitwits) but luckily she quickly revived with the help of TfL staff and was led away.

These two incidents made me think of the growing amount of anorexics I now see wandering around London. (in a sort of unrelated way). People go on about the obesity epidemic - that Britain is trailing close behind America - but I think there's a directly opposite problem growing in the background.

If I go on my lunch break to - say - Russell Square - I'll walk past at least 3 of them. Perversely enough, either in cafes or supermarkets. And just as many young men as young women. Today, Tumblr announced it's banning blogs that promote self-harm and anorexia, which has been hailed by some charities like Mind as a good move. There's also this interesting blog post about Pinterest and how it's become a favourite site for pro-ana and pro-mia users.

I don't really know what's the answer. Western society has been skinny obsessed for a long time now, but it's more enforced I think in big metropolises like London - especially with people who feel they have to compete with others on the way they look or fit into fashion. There's a difference between wanting to be slim and healthy (e.g. mine and your case) and wanting to starve yourself to beyond size 0.

Also... I kinda think gyms should have the power to ban anorexics from working out/joining. (Is that harsh?)
commonpeople1: (Default)
Seen after rain by Roland Ramanan
Seen after rain, a photo by Roland Ramanan on Flickr.
I leave the flat at 8am. Storm gushing down on the EastEnd, the sky dark like a fairy tale. People huddled underneath the bus shelter on Roman Road, their umbrellas open and protecting their flanks. I walk past them and avoid the puddles because I know the holes in my Doc Martens won't be able to resist a drink. I hold my UNIQLO umbrella against the wind pushing me towards Mile End, admiring its resistance.

On a crowded platform I wait for either the District or the Central line to arrive. I edge my way in and stand at the foot of the aisle. A short woman keeps elbowing me from behind. I've got a copy of the book published by the British Library last year for their Sci-Fi exhibition - essential read for anyone who loves the genre.

When I finally get a seat, a guy I recognise from my gym walks in and stops by my feet. We avoid eye contact. He's reading a Clive Cussler paperback and sporting autumn colours. His beard has really grown this winter.

I switch at Oxford Street and finally come out at Vauxhall. The sky is now blue, sunny - clear. I can almost hear the seagulls above the Albert Embankment din. I've entered a new city - the start of my work day.
commonpeople1: (Default)
A good gym session is like a good shag, isn't it? At least in the way your skin tingles and glows afterwards, and you feel like you can take on the world. Or something.

I'm glad I hauled my ass to the gym this morning because it was exactly what I needed and had missed. I haven't felt this alert in weeks.

This evening I'm going to begin downloading True Blood episodes to watch when I'm in Brasil (I'm currently at the end of Season 2). I may also take a long bath and watch a film. I opened a bottle of red wine last night that needs my attention today.

I dreamt last night with my nephew and it freaks me out (in a good way) that I'll be seeing this little entity next week who now walks and chatters when before he was just an 8-month-old ball of fat and Johnson & Johnson's hair. I want to buy him some toys and books but can't make up my mind when I walk into the shops. So much to choose from.

I love this song: very Inner City circa 1990, very British pop.

Go Yoga

Aug. 7th, 2011 09:21 pm
commonpeople1: (Default)
I want to get back into yoga. When I first met [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale, nearly 13 years ago (!!), we used to do this brilliant yoga class at Montreal's downtown YMCA (no sniggering in the back!) that was affordable, complete and uncrowded. We'd probably have carried on here in London if there were any affordable courses. Why is yoga so expensive? Yoga should be like a bottle of water or a cup of rice - it should be cheap and available on every street corner.

I'm a little bit bored of running around Victoria Park and lifting weights at the gym. I'm not pushing myself and I'm not seeing any improvement (i.e. the beer belly is still there.) With yoga, there's that sense of achievement as you master one posture after another. Plus the mindfulness, the peace, the growing strength. It would be a nice counterbalance to a session in the gym once in a while.

commonpeople1: (Icecream)
A friend of mine is leaving London for New York; he got a well paid job in an arts centre over there. He asked [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I if we'd like to buy his Wii and games. I asked how much he wanted for them? He understood that I wanted to buy everything and dropped on Wink's lap a box with the whole lot. We already had a borrowed Wii from my landlady so now we currently have an excess of video game consoles in the house. I'm starting to think I don't want any of them - it's just more distraction from the stuff I need to do (study horticulture, write Mills & Boons novels, become a millionaire).

We went for a walk this morning to find a café where we could sit, read the papers and write in our journals. We chose the Rich Mix because it's always empty, has nice big windows that give you a view of Bethnal Green road and nobody bothers you if your coffee mug is empty. I briefly left to buy today's Guardian from a corner shop and walked past Preston from The Ordinary Boys. He's tiny! He went into a new hipster café with three friends. The Rich Mix couldn't attract hipsters even if it tried, bless.

We then hit the local second-hand bookshops for Paul Auster's Timbuktu (for my bookclub) but couldn't find anything. Went to my gym, watched an episode of a new brasilian soap opera while eating toast with peanut butter and now I faff around online while Wink naps on the couch. He was meant to be making carrot cake for us. I might wake him up in a sec.


commonpeople1: (Beer)
I woke up today at 6.30 and made a smoothie out of strawberry yogurt, banana and orange juice. I checked my e-mails while sipping on tea and left the house at 7.30. Dark and miserable rain fell on London.

To my surprise the gym was busy but not as infernal as the evenings have been since everybody and their mother decided to follow their new year's resolutions. I like the gym in the mornings and will be sticking to it from now on.

I took a shower after my workout beside a gay man with legs severely affected by polio (at least I think it was polio). There was nothing ugly about his body. He flinched a little when I joined him in the showers; I wondered afterwards if that's how he felt every time someone saw him naked. He had large stretch marks on his muscular back and very smooth skin. I was so awake I disappeared into my own thoughts.

Had a bagel with peanut butter and a coffee at the office. Briefly met my boss who told me some very good news. The rain stopped but the temperatures remain in the 8s - no need for a scarf when dropping by Tesco's for dinner tonight.

Time for my afternoon coffee.
commonpeople1: (Vicky Park)

Vicky Park's Visitors
Originally uploaded by olliefern
[livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale and I pottered around the flat this morning then went to a yoga class at 12.45pm. It was the first time Wink visited my gym; we managed to snag him a free day trial as my guest and had no problem finding a spot in the class. It was only an hour long and not that strenuous. Probably perfect after a workout but not good enough as a stand-alone class.

Our landlords/friends then invited us for a coffee in Victoria Park's Pavillion Café. We got our cappuccinos and sat outside, chatting about this and that - but mostly gossiping about people in my bookclub and the quiz night I attended on Friday.

I'm now lying in the bedroom, listening to iTunes, watching episodes of the brasilian soap Passione, reading bits of Tim Moore's Spanish Steps while Wink plays Zelda in the living room.

I discovered this great community which I think all of you photography lovers would enjoy too: [livejournal.com profile] everyday_i_show

Cold Feet

Sep. 15th, 2010 08:44 pm
commonpeople1: (Mr Stamp)

Shower in gym 1900's
Originally uploaded by gaswizard
Our boiler malfunctioned three days ago and we haven't had any hot water since. Yesterday morning I went to the gym before work and noticed for the first time that they pump music into the shower room. Black Eyed Peas don't make good showering companions. Today, I went after work and there were many guys about but I was lucky enough to have the shower room to myself. Our landlords have offered their home's bathtub while they sort someone to check the boiler. They had us over for dinner last night as a thank you for watching over their cat Blanche on the weekend.

I only have two days left at the recruitment agency. A famous Bollywood star came into our building today, according to the security guard at reception, but my team didn't see him. He looks a bit like Antonio Banderas on his Wikipedia page. My co-workers tease me about my new job, about who's going to substitute me, about the little inside jokes we have built over these past weeks. I have no energy to join in the fun because I'm fighting some kind of cold (brought into the office by my line manager, who had a chest infection over the weekend). We are all getting sick.

I'm still reading Joe Orton's diary on the bus rides to work and home. He was very raw and very smart. His entries, though, on the Moroccan boys he brought home and shagged are troubling. I'll be commuting on the Hammersmith line as of next week, which will give me lots of hours underground to get through more books. Anything to keep me distracted from the weather getting cold and grim.
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)
I was momentarily confused today when I arrived at my gym's changing room and heard The Cure being blasted through the ceiling's speakers. There's a certain je ne sais quoi to men showering and getting undressed while Robert Smith sings "Love Song". It heightened the funny mood I was already in.

The weights room was filled with things eager to be held. I know what hands are for and I like to help myself to the free weights. Whenever I'm in a bad mood, I put it down to the weather; but the truth is that I'm thoroughly addicted to endorphins and anything longer than a week away from the gym hits me like s.a.d. I don't hate going to the gym, but it gets boring sometimes. Really boring.

On the plus side, I don't look like someone who goes a lot to the gym.

I've been frustrated lately with my job hunt and stress at work (had an argument today with someone at Job Seekers which escalated to her line manager being called for a complaint) so it's nice to get that energy out afterwards. Today, though, it was Depeche Mode and Lloyd Cole that accompanied me instead of the usual dirge by Eminem and Kei$ha. I controlled myself during Alice Cooper's "Poison" and nearly broke into giggles (and dropped dumb-bells on my toes) when "Maniac" from the film Flashdance came on.

I always see the same faces, though some are missing thanks to Ramadan. I wish I had a gym buddy. I wish I had more time to complete this job application due tomorrow.
commonpeople1: (Sea)


Originally uploaded by paper_pal
I've applied for Job Seeker's Allowance and Housing Benefits. I have an interview tomorrow at the job centre but can't find our latest lease: I'll have to come up with some excuse - maybe give them my landlords' contact details to prove I live in this high rise? This is all just in case my temp agency doesn't find me any work in the next while. I'm also applying to at least one job a day - at this stage, I'm really not that fussy... just need some money coming in!

I've said this before: the best thing to do when unemployed is to exercise. It's a good break to the day and the endorphins help keep the spirits up. Yesterday I went to the pool, today to the gym. Tomorrow, the pool again after my interview at the job centre. Then a yoga class first thing Thursday morning. London pools are diiirty but I must stop comparing them to the clean, well-tended beauties in Brasil. This is my life and this is where I live.

I've got no job, no savings and a huge credit card debt. Funnily enough, Barclays just decided to double my credit rate. Coincidence?
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)

victoria park.
Originally uploaded by Stakka Carn
I arrived in London yesterday at 1pm. On the 277 bus home from Canary Wharf I was reminded why Londoners are some of the rudest people on earth. The flat was empty and had the feel of someone who's lived alone for six weeks, who slowly encroached on the territory of the lover who flew to Brasil: plants on the kitchen windowsill nearly reaching the ceiling, a drawer knocked out and propped against the wall, piles of newspapers on tables and floors. When [livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale arrived, he confessed that he'd become addicted to EastEnders while I was away. I looked into his eyes and wondered whether a body snatcher had taken over. (What's all this business of Lucas murdering little Ben Mitchell?!?!)

I slept for twelve hours and dreamt with ghosts. I woke with Wink leaving a plate of toast and a mug of coffee on my bedside table. We pottered around all morning and then I made chicken wraps with tzaziki for lunch. (It's really hard to be a vegetarian, for me, but I'll keep trying.) I briefly spoke to my mom on Skype, who is learning how to use it. She told me to take a shower and shave while my grandmother moaned in the background that I was living too far away.

After six weeks of being on the horizontal, stuffing my face with homemade cakes, I figured I should go for a walk and get back into some sort of exercise routine. Victoria Park was stunning under the sun's warmth and the afternoon's silence, though there were quite a few people sunbathing, biking, jogging, clearly skiving of work. I did a circuit of the park and sat on a bench facing the pond. I brought my camera and had two great, but missed, photo opportunities: an elderly homeless man sleeping inside one of the park's half-shells dedicated to the 1st World War; and three hasidic jews whistling at the ducks (one of them on a wheelchair).

Now I'm downloading Lost episodes while Wink bakes fish and chips. We'll eat our dinner while watching EastEnders catch up (Wink just gave me a brief rundown on all the recent craziness with Syed and Christian.) I'm completely broke and if I don't find any work soon I'm gonna be in deep trouble.
commonpeople1: (Default)
I'm loving this unemployment time off work. Yesterday, I had fun with [livejournal.com profile] kirstenlj and her son at the Museum of Childhood, followed by a dip in York Hall's pool. Today, I went to the gym[1] and spent the afternoon browsing the net (job sites, school courses, etc). I've also set up an interview with the Institut Français for next Tuesday.

I'm now thinking if I should go back to school and get some skills that are more practical and job-friendly than a MA in Portuguese Studies. I found some good info on horticulture courses but the impression I get is that they are aimed at kids straight out of school and are mostly based outside London. I've got that typical pre-February fantasy of leaving office work for good and pruning park hedges for the rest of my life.

Tonight, I'm seeing Sherlock Homes' latest adventure with an ex-colleague. Tomorrow, I'm doing volunteer work at that LGBT organisation I briefly worked for two years ago (how time flies!)

[1] My number one tip for anyone out of work is to get some exercise into your day. You benefit from the endorphins, the tension release, the routine, and the self-esteem boost of course.
commonpeople1: (Scott)

York Hall, Bethnal Green
Originally uploaded by LoopZilla
I sat outside York Hall for over an hour yesterday evening before my brasilian friend Vini Bambini arrived on his bike. I knew he was going to take a while so I divided my time between an old copy of the Guardian's Review section and my iShuffle. There was a long line up of muslim women, who have special hours and days of the week when they can use the pools with no men about. My music selection reached a song by Dead Can Dance from their first album - one of those wailed by Lisa Gerrard over intense drums and exotic strings - and those housewives suddenly gained a more mysterious air.

Vini is my gym buddy now that my landlady cancelled her membership and only goes for occasional runs in Victoria Park. He suggested we try out this evening Pilates class because we've both had issues with our backs in the past and we want something else on top of the usual gym routine. It was going to be my first ever Pilates session but the instructor didn't show up. An australia wrapped up in white cloths substituted her instead and put us through familiar Yoga moves and mantras. My brain, in the cool and dark air conditioned studio room, returned to the muslim women swimming in the building's gut.

On Thursday, I'm meeting Vini Bambini at the gym, 7.30am. He'll do the treadmill for over half an hour because he's trying to shift some weight; I'll strain my wrists in the weights room. Then we'll say goodbye and I'll take a solitary shower in the changing room while he bikes across London to his office.
commonpeople1: (Drew)
Question for gym bunnies reading this:

Let's suppose you wake up at 7am to be at the gym by 7.30am, for some cardio and weight lifting. What's the best food/drink to ingest at 7am so you can have the energy for the workout? I had a banana and glass of milk this morning but don't feel it was enough.

Ta!
commonpeople1: (Pietr)


My colleagues and I spent the last two days, from 9.30am to 6pm, dismantling our old office and its attached exhibition, carrying it down two flights of stairs and shoving it into these two skips. On Thursday, I spent the morning inside the larger skip in the photo above, arranging the planks that were passed onto me so that we'd optimise the use of space. When I first climbed into the skip, there was old goo on its floor that smelled like shit and oozed like pig fat; it covered my shoes and trousers, and eventually my hands too.

Up and down two flights of stairs, all day, for two days. Wearing workers' gloves so that our hands wouldn't get hurt (but that didn't stop the rusty nails cutting gashes into my arms and legs.) Propping big pieces of wood on the side of the building then jumping on them until they were snapped into smaller bits. So hungry by 2, 3pm, that I could eat giant sandwiches from Arthur's Diner, plus a mountain of chips, and still want more. Coming home on Thursday and last night, dropping my clothes straight in the washing machine, sliding into a hot bath that was as mindless and stinging as my muscles were sore. Feeling like a zombie all night, then sleeping badly because my muscles woke me up when I turned in bed. And yet, feeling really good too because of a job well done, finally completed. There's nothing more satisfying then putting your body to use and discovering your hidden strengths and endurance.

Our boss has given us Monday off in recognition of our hard work. I might be able to hobble to Victoria Park's bagel shop today for some lunch. The image in the mirror is of a fit young man with panda bear eyes. And I'm very excited about the future of my organization, which has moved to a sleek new office building that overlooks Regent's Canal. February is nearly over.

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