Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anger management

One of the things I may have inherited or at least learnt from my mother is the ability to get angry from listening to the radio. It's five years since the Hutton report came out and we're in the worst recession since 1945 - with the UK being most badly affected worldwide. These things are in my view NOT a coincidence as we have had the most right wing governments ever since 1979. One of the things you learn about managing anger is to try and channel this passion into more positive arenas. Furrow your energy into areas where you actually have the power to change something in a positive way. This is where I detract from the revolutionary socialists. I'm into non-violence. In a big way. I don't believe violence is the answer.

So today, practising as I preach I have spent a good hour at least meditating. Half hour about 10am. Then another half hour about three. I've forgiven myself for getting so angry (it's totally understandable). I've forgiven my ex-boyfriend, a suspected paedophile I know and Idi Amin. I browsed through my meditation books and one of the other things they suggested was gardening.

It was great catching that last hour of sunlight at 3.30, and when you look at the BBC MET office forecast instantaeously it's not that inaccurate. They said zero miles per hour wind. Perfect for humping leaves for 2010's leafmould (or will it be 2011? - Watch this space). I've had lots of plants as presents so these are now all lined up neatly for the next nice sunny day to plant in the front garden. And in ten minutes I am hopefully hooking up with Chapel Allerton running club. Even if I don't meet with them I will be running there and back - getting ten minutes of run in!

And I've just finished listening to Melvyn Bragg's In our time - History of history. Mummy and Daddy's girl. Whilst playing with the beads my stepmother gave me. I'm a good stepdaughter too. You can certainly learn how to become calm and it's much more pleasant.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Too cold to do anything - except watch Murder She Wrote

I am waiting for the boiler repair person to arrive. The oven is on gas mark 6 - with the door open. And the gas fire is on full blast. I was supposed to be transcribing a bit of Sube Banerjee's interview. In fact I might go and get it in a minute. Now in fact. The self-imposed guilt of watching clap trap on telly is forcing me into action.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Connie's inauguration salmon

Chop two small onions, some coriander (that I keep in the freezer after chopping it), some ginger, garlic, lemon juice, All-Seasons all purpose seasoning and some olive oil. Marinade the two salmon steaks for about 24 hours. Then put in all this in oven at Gas Mark 6 for about 10 minutes.

Serve with potatoes and veg. Or salad.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tears of Joy

There's so much irony that on the same day as probably the best ever President of the USA got sworn in, that the banks, where we all put our money went into freefall. They collapsed. So this morning I was panicking about fighting my neighbours for food (nearly), yet by the afternoon Obama had persuaded me to take a homeless person in (almost). It's the same mixed emotions as when he got elected. Absolute and utter joy. Appreciating every last detail and every last memory of the day - that is every last memory of the inauguration - not the financial news. Michelle's pale lime green dress with beautiful slightly darker green gloves. The sunshine. Not just through my windows, but glinting off the windows of Capitol House. The only thing comparable was my own wedding day. Knowing that for years afterwards I will want to remember the things that happened today. The funny bits. Obama fluffing his lines over Lincoln's Bible. Realising that the song Aretha Franklin was singing was the same as God Save the Queen - with different lyrics. Obama smiling as he went into Church.

His speech I was waiting for. I don't think I was disappointed. I've put the think in there because he mentioned patriotism as a virtue. I don't agree. The speech was also perhaps slightly too sombre and warlike. He might have been better capturing some of the joy in what he represents. He did mention the fight against fascism before communism, and the historical scenes he painted were great. The commentators went on and on about the cold. I saw the clouds of breath. It was minus ten in Washington . He mentioned the frostiness and reminded us how previous generations worked so hard for us - we, the new generation. I felt sobre. I started shivering. Then I put on Connie's salmon steaks. And thought about some Muscadet.

But the happiness did not dissipate. I felt proud to be almost-American. Sharing the American culture a bit at least. Watching people in HD and remembering the USA of my childhood. It's all superlatives. Superman, Wonderwoman, Supergirl. Moonlighting (not a superlative, but a an excellent TV programme which I can't get on DVD). Because I've read his wonderful books I feel like I know them all. It feels real. Real life, real people. Real tears of joy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A guide to running for beginners

The great thing about running is that all you need to start is a pair of trainers. I actually got some pretty good stuff though - we have a shop dedicated to running in Leeds. I got some flourescent cotton gloves - ideal as thin so you don't get too hot, yet takes the edge off when it's freezing cold. I also got a lightweight waterproof-ish jacket, also great for these rainy winter runs.

When I very first started I just used to run for literally five minutes at a time. Because I knew that unless I gave myself some very easily achievable things to do I would pack it in. Gradually I stepped it up and nowadays I can run -well, I say run, it's more like a snail jogging. In fact most people walk faster than I run- for half an hour at a time. For the past couple of times I've been out I haven't walked at all. We also back on to some playing fields. Marvellous as you're straight out there with some beautiful views of Leeds as we're right on top of the hill. I would say the key things are for running in winter -0.5) get some trainers 1) remember it only gets light at about 8.30, find a route you enjoy. 2) Always look at the weather forecast. Actually forget this. I relied on BBC met office yesterday - totally inaccurate for Leeds. Look out of the window before you go out. Regardless dress up warm at this time of year. You can always tie your jacket round your waist aka 1970s style. 3) Sort out your playlist. This is vital. Having looked at a website for inspiration, it turns out most runners are also rockers. Personally this is not to my taste. Being a big rock fan at home, I don't want to get turned off my favourite music and get bored of it. It's pop for me every time. Having said that, my feminist and advancement of human rights side to my personality dictates that I cannot listen to Emimem - Lose Yourself. I just can't. I don't care if everyone on the planet says it's the only good thing to run to.

I'm still definitely a beginner, having now been running for 3 months. I did my first 'race' and did it half an hour slower than virtually everyone else. But, something had to replace all the cycling I did in London. I used to love cycling (still do but I just don't get chance to do it) for how you're so close to nature. Running is even better in this respect. You are there, with the urban landscape and the immigrant seagulls, running and every day is slightly different. Slightly damper, slightly warmer, or frosty. A different view, diverse birds. The tall grasses like swords dissecting the crisp air and sunlight glinting off them. Or the wind cooling you down as you run against it and towards it. And every time the endorphins get you. You're hooked. And the best news is the only side effects are positive ones.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A day thinking about feminism

I'd mentioned in my PhD proposal - still waiting to hear what some people think of the draft to send it in - that I was influenced by feminist theory and would be examining why carers are so obscured in the histories of dementia. I indulged myself again and watched the last half hour of Murder, She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury. Just as I was thinking what a wonderful example it was of women achieving and showing their intellectual ability (she has a bust of Shakespeare in the house) it turned out it was the vain younger woman who committed the murder. I should have known of course. Then there was the news of the French justice minister (Jack Straw's counterpart they helpfully explained) arriving at work 4 days after giving birth at the age of 44, simultaneously announcing that she would not be disclosing who the father of her child was. The story was accompanied by footage of her strutting laughing across some 18th century cobblestones clutching a legal brief whilst wearing five inch stilettos. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I definitely felt like crying a bit later when hearing the news of some starving Gazan children huddled in their mothers' corpses and a woman from the Red Cross denouncing Israel. Israel have a woman as their army spokesperson. There was a hand bag in the background as she was speaking.
And then I looked at my lovely friend Jemima's website. Loads of good journalism and tips for the entrepreneur. Plus Lila's first day at nursery.