These days, I get up early. The room is dark and cold; I turn on the heat, but not the lights.
It takes me three minutes to walk to The Warehouse. Four, if I'm walking slow.
I like living within walking distance of where I work, I like passing the same people every morning and giving them that I'm-walking-to-work nod as we shuffle past each other, our hands in our pockets, our chins buried in our scarves. I like having a place to go to, a key that fits in a lock, a desk that is my own.
It's only been a week, but already I feel at home in my new space. I drink coffee and tea throughout the day, cup after cup after cup. I still work for myself, but I do it amongst others. Work feels like work again, which I like.
Our windows look out on an old graveyard and some very handsome trees. The birds sing to us throughout the day and when it's foggy it's almost as if we're floating in a cloud.
The atmosphere in the office is cool and relaxed. The three of us who share the space get on with our individual projects and sometimes break to tell stories, refill our coffee cups, or ask for a reality check.
As I mentioned last week, I've been taking myself through my own branding method, the Brandstorm. I'm learning a lot. Soon, I'll start sharing my experience with you.
We like to celebrate here in the office. Yesterday, our neighbor on the first floor, Paul, had a birthday. We made him a card and then gathered for cake, candles and champagne.
After a moment of birthday cheer, it was back up on the top floor for a few more hours of work.
And a few more cups of coffee and tea, too.
Slowly, I'm moving my things into the my space, slowly I'm making it mine.
Meanwhile, my desk at home is becoming less and less mine with each passing day. Tom is living with us right now and my at-home studio is operating as his man cave.
Last night, the Tunbridge Wells Writers gathered again. The Black Pig was only accepting cash for the evening so I stopped in a grocery store to visit an ATM. As someone who enjoys good food and eating well, I find big-box grocery stores incredibly depressing. And these flowers? If my significant other bought me any of these flowers for Valentine's Day, I'd break up with them. Even if it wasn't Valentine's Day, I'd break up with them.
After the depressing grocery store incident, I enjoyed many inspiring conversations about books and writing, art and philosophy in the function room at the pub.
We had a terrific turn-out last night and it's exciting to see the group grow and mature.
It's funny, I've only been to Tunbridge Wells Writers meetings on three occasions, but already I feel like they're mine, my people, my tribe. I enjoy the dynamic personalities in the group, the diverse writing styles represented in the group, and their willingness to open up and share their work and wisdom with others.
They're also incredibly obliging when it comes time to leave and a lady would like a lift home.
My friend Peter often plays the role of DD and, along with his dashboard friends Bernard and Oscar, he gave a group of us a safe and warm ride home.
To close out the evening, I read a few pages of my much loved collection of short stories by Andre Dubus, which I'd meant to lend to my friend David earlier in the evening but had forgotten at home. I think Dubus is a masterful storyteller and I admire his work enormously. If you're looking for a good read, I highly recommend any of his books though Finding a Girl in Americaand Broken Vessels are two of my favorites.
After a few pages, it was off to bed, and thus concludes my Tuesday.
The boy from Iowa sat on the train and stared at his reflection in the scratched window opposite. He looked tired. He snapped his fingers inside the pocket of his brown coat and counted to ninety-nine. At South Station, he exited the train and boarded a bus to the airport.
He had cash in his back pocket, sixty bucks in twenties. When he took them from the machine, they were crisp and stuck together; he crinkled them in his fist before counting them one last time and putting them in his wallet. She'd have bags with her, lots of bags, probably, and he didn't want to hassle with them, didn't want her worried or stressed. No, not this first time. Instead, they'd take a cab and watch the city stream by the windows as they drove along the river and then down the asphalt artery of Commonwealth Ave. He wouldn't get mad this time when the driver went the long way; it would give her more time to peek into the windows of passing houses, take note of their crown molding and chandeliers, large paintings and flowers arranged in vases on the windowsill. She'd like to see those things, they'd remind her of what they used to have. Remember when we were glamorous? she'd say. Remember our dining room and the paintings Chris did of the house? Remember the way mom would cut flowers from the garden and arrange them in grandma's old vase? He'd nod, his neck supported by his flannel scarf, his eyes tired. He remembered.
He got off the bus at Terminal C and studied the screens to find her flight number and locate the right baggage claim. He bought two coffees from the Dunkin' Donuts and waited for her on a metal bench. A woman with a book sat next time him but she didn't read, her eyes watched the escalator where bodies started as feet and slowly exposed themselves upwards, giving way to knees and torsos, arms and heads. They watched the escalator together, silent, until suddenly she was there, walking off the silver stairs looking cool but a little vacant, too. She gave him a quick hug before accepting the coffee, and pointed toward the rotating conveyer belt and the moving luggage. "Just two bags," she said, "Do you think we can manage?"
"I'm starting over. For real this time." She'd cut her hair, he noticed, and whether she was standing taller or just differently, he wasn't sure, but this young woman wasn't the little sister he remembered leaving behind. "I got rid of almost everything. Some of mom's stuff is still in storage, where we left it, but everything else I sold or threw away. I don't want to remember," She smiled, a realistic, careful smile, "I want to start fresh."
They collected her two suitcases and walked to the bus stop. He showed her how to buy a ticket and explained the way the public transit worked. At South Station, they got off the bus and boarded a train. They sat next to each other as they snaked through underground tunnels, their shoulders rubbing together as they stared at their reflections in the scratched glass opposite. She smiled that same careful smile, "Bobby, you look so tired," she said. He nodded; he was.
Oh man, Monday. I had one of those fast and furious weekends that feel five days long, not two. We met new friends, explored city neighborhoods, ate delicious food, watched the rugby, and got to spend a precious 24 hours with our friend Greg who stopped over for a quick visit on his way home from India. Seeing him made me miss Boston, miss our old life and our old friends, but sitting back in the office today makes me excited for everything that's yet to come. Bittersweet, dear reader, bittersweet.
Today, I had an aha moment and hired myself to give my brand a little a makeover. And by little, I mean an enormous makeover, complete with false eyelashes and lots of rouge. I'm delighted to report that already, I'm feeling more energized, flexible, and focused (it's like doing yoga!) but also like I could use a nice drink (so, maybe not like yoga). My stomach, it's a'burnin' and I'm feeling pretty hungry, you guys.
I rolled out of bed late in the morning and wandered into the bathroom, barefoot and bleary-eyed, to shave my mustache brush my teeth.
My hourly alarm made me realize that midday was almost upon me and I'd yet to eat breakfast.
It didn't particularly appeal to me, but I decided to eat a banana.
I had a 12:30 meeting. As is my nature, I was prepared and ready to go well in advance and was forced to pace around the apartment like a caged tiger until it was an appropriate time to leave.
Whilst talking about big ideas and plans for the future in said meeting, I'm afraid I lost track of time.
Back at home, I wrote some emails, crossed my fingers, and made a leap forward.
Then I brainstormed.
Did some laundry.
And drank too much caffeine.
After loudly complaining about how hungry I was for a little while, David finally took pity on me and made dinner. He's nice like that. He's also a terrific cook. Without him, I would starve (re: banana breakfast incident).
After dinner, I put on some lipstick and prepared for another meeting, this one with some of the Tunbridge Wells Writers.
Over a carafe giant mug of wine, we brainstormed ways to consolidate our social media content, collaborative projects, writing resources and events calendar into a sexy new website. Carolyn dutifully took notes while I made sarcastic comments and rolled my eyes at Daniel and David.
There are many big changes ahead for the writers in our group. David put together some ideas for new imagery. Before anyone freaks out, new imagery has not yet been decided. BUT, if you come to the next meeting (Tuesday, February 12, 8:00 PM, at The Black Pig), you're more than welcome to share your ideas and opinions about our online identity with us.
After much talk of wordpress themes, plug-ins and widgets, I said, "ENOUGH, TO TWUDDLE WE MUST GO!" So we collected our things and headed to Sankey's to meet new friends and old.
And it was a lovely.
After much laughter and conversation, David (my David, this time) and I arrived home and decided a piece of marmite toast (my first marmite ever) was in order as I had to be up early today. It's my first day in my new office space, so my beauty sleep was extra important.
I have much to tell you, dear reader, but I've said enough for today. Until tomorrow, thanks for reading.
For the first time in years- five, to be exact- I bought a pair of blue jeans. I knew I wanted to break in a pair of raw denim, knew I wanted them to be a pair of Nudie Jeans. David bought his first pair of Nudie raw denim two years ago. He's washed them twice, wears them often, and still they look terrific on him. Those jeans, they are him, tell a little bit of his story, and I knew I wanted my own pair to help tell mine, too.
Nudie Jeans is a brand I admire. I support their initiative to use organic cotton, to recycle, and to pay their employees a living wage (which should really be a no-brainer, amirite?). Their clothing is offered at a great price point, they completely deliver on the quality of their product, and they give their customers a memorable brand experience. There's a Nudie Jeans wearin' tribe of people out there, and after four days with mine, I'm proud to say I'm a part of this tribe. I'm going to bang my denim-loving drum for all to hear and I'm going to look damn good while doing it.
If you're looking for a new best friend pair of denim, you can find your nearest Nudie Jeans retailer here.
I went to the Transient opening at the Margaret Street Gallery last night and was really taken by Harriet Clare's 'Woebegone' series; the kaleidoscopic images, which were printed on large sheets of heavy paper and hung with bulldog clips, felt modern, minimalist, and casually chic. Natural elements like tree branches, leaves, and snow, were imaginatively manipulated to create something familiar yet fresh and the pieces invited the viewer to find symbols and shapes in the converging lines.
I really love her work and think it would show well in many settings (like my hallway, living room, or office, for instance). If you're in London, I encourage you to stop by the gallery and check it out for yourself because these pictures, they're not doing the work any justice. Trust.
> Transient will be on exhibit until Frebruary 26th at the Margaret Street Gallery in London <