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day 23 – it’s a shit hole… for now

November 24, 2013

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this our new house as it currently stands
it’s a bit like this scene from money pit

it is both daunting and exciting
and it’s going to require a hell of a lot of imagination
and time
and work

as all good things do

day 22 – music, sweet sweet music

November 24, 2013


One of the many joys of going to a gig are the pre-gig tunes. It’s what gets you amped before the band comes on.

A well thought out playlist may very well make the difference between a crowd of limp noodles and a crowd gone wild.

Before the Arcade Fire show, I shazamed the shit out of the tunes that were being churned out and today, I share them with you.

This mix was meant to be shared on Friday. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Friday night mix.

Sundays are made for fat pants and movies, not pre-gig tunes (unless you are going to a gig, in which case, by all means, turn it up).

Otherwise, stay in Sunday mode and keep this mix for next Friday. It’s well worth the wait (I think).

You are welcome.


day 21 – is impatience a habit?

November 24, 2013


They say it takes 30 to 60 days to break an old habit and form a shiny new one.

Easier said than done.

When you stop doing something you’ve practiced for as long as you can remember, your entire being takes notice and lets you know in no uncertain terms that it’s not necessarily pleased with you and your silly hippy dippy ‘detox’ ways. Your habits have, after all, spent a lifetime forging neuron pathways and convincing your brain they’re essential to your survival. They will not go away without putting up a fight and it can sometimes feel like your habits have dominion over your life.

What if I’ve managed to convince myself over the years that I am the way I am and there’s nothing I can do about it? That it’s interwoven in my genetic code. That the Caron impatience is simply a gene and removing it would essentially be akin to cutting off a limb, which is to say impossible, so…, oh well.

But what if it isn’t a gene? What if it’s just an accumulation of rust and calcium deposits on an old piece of machinery that no longer serves a purpose? What if impatience is simply a habit? What if habits are learned, not instinctual? What if it’s possible to unlearn them? Can you teach an old dog a new trick?

If it takes 30 days to stop craving sugar, booze, cigarettes… how long does it take to drop the baggage that you’ve accumulated over a life time? The little habits that have created your character– imprinted like the crow’s-feet etched into the soft skin at the corners of your eyes.

Could I not as easily smile in traffic, in a queue, when the Internet connection is tortoisely slow, as opposed to letting anger bubble up in me like hot lava– so quickly and violently and without notice? Couldn’t I just as easily chill out, see it as an opportunity to make a cup of tea or read a book? Why does impatience get the first say in the matter? Why does everything have to happen right this second?

The good news is my neurons are not made of steel. They are elastic, moldable and changeable with enough time and effort.

The bad news is, I’ve got a nasty case of what the Greeks called “akrasia”: the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgement through weakness of will.

I managed to stop complaining for a month. I went teetotal for 30 days. I’ve trained for 30k runs and 3 peak challenges and stopped putting milk and sugar in my coffee after spending 5 days in Paris in 2005. Surely, I can tackle impatience? Small (little impatient) potatoes.

What if the next 30 days were a different kind of detox? What if I took control of the feeling before it took hold of me? What if it was as simple as breathing through it? I wouldn’t know. I’ve never tried. Maybe it’s time that I do.

The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken” Dr Johnson

Days 19 & 20 – good night and good morning

November 20, 2013


It was arctic outside and it was dark and my finger tips felt like frosted twigs and I heard a man cry out “A warm bed – all I want is a warm bed for the night. Is that too much to ask?

And I don’t know if he was talking to the voices in his head or if it was a plea to God or if it was a message pointed directly at me to remind me that, even on my shitty days, things could be shittier. Things could always be shittier.


Dear coffee,

I don’t know what I would have done without you this past week. Thanks for doing that magical thing you do.

(I know my dear husband would say “It’s not magic darling, it’s caffeine”, but don’t listen to him, he’s a non believer.)

I love you.



day 18 – learning to say no

November 18, 2013

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Have you ever met a 2-year old when they’ve just learned the power of the word “NO”. They say it with vehemence. They say it and they mean it. Or at least, they think they do. Maybe they just like the shape of it on their lips, or the way it sounds. But they use it, they practice it, they test their boundaries with it.

And then we break the habit right out of them. Because “no” is synonymous with being selfish, uncooperative, not nice, negative, unfriendly, unloveable.

Sure, there are things in life that merit a resounding “NO”. The following spring to mind:

– Hey, let’s jump off this cliff!!!
– Can you put some Nickelback on?
– Shall we have yak penis for dinner?
– Husband: I’m going to grow a mullet

But then, there are other things, which are harder to say no to:

– When your inbox tray is overflowing at work and your boss adds a few more things to your to do list (thus setting your hair on fire)
– When people invite you to events you really don’t want to go to
– When someone you loves asks you to do something that you know you’re just going to complain about in the end

If you say yes, you’re a good person. You’re a super hero. You’re a team player. Everyone loves you. Yay! But you’re also a bit of a doormat. A very unhappy doormat.

If you say no, you run a high risk of being judged. People might stop liking you. You’ll probably be ridden with guilt.

Hmmm. Tough choice.

Hi. My name is Jeanine and I’m a people pleaser. It’s a sickness. And I do it because I don’t want people to judge me. I want them to think warm fuzzy thoughts about me. Even strangers on the street. Even the person sitting next to me on the tube. I nearly cried at The National gig the other night (ok. I really did cry) because I couldn’t get through a wall of people to join my friends. I could physically do it, it wasn’t the great wall of China after all. But I convinced myself that I couldn’t possibly – what would everyone think of me? They’d probably judge me, maybe huff, maybe give me a nasty look. Gasp! How could I live with that?

It is ex-haus-ting!

But the thing is, I’m not a golden unicorn covered in glitter blowing rainbows out of me arse. I don’t have 5 pairs of arms and 3 brains and a teleportation machine. I’m not a bloody saint. I’m human. I’m flawed. I make mistakes. I get tired. I’m emotional. I don’t like cheese cake. I lie sometimes. So sue me.

Starting today, I intend to practice the art of saying no again. And meaning it. And living through the cringe of saying it. And not going back on it with a bargain or an apology or an excuse.

This post by Sas sums it up perfectly. All you people pleasers out there, read it. It is your new bible. It is your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea. Your bread crumbs when you forget your way. It is the key out of the cell you’ve locked yourself in. It’s your new mantra.

Because this people pleasing business? It’s complete and utter bullshit.

’nuff said.

day 17 – love is louder than all this noise

November 17, 2013

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Two weeks ago, I came back from lunch completely incensed at the sight of a middle-aged man walking twenty feet ahead of his wife on the Euston Road. One minute, she was talking to him and he wasn’t listening in the way that many married men don’t (it’s not a cliché for nothing), and then the distance between them grew longer and her little legs, try as they might, couldn’t catch up, until he crossed the road on a red light and left her behind. I watched and watched. And watched. Waiting for that moment when he realized his wife was miles behind. He didn’t stop. He never so much as glanced back. He just kept on walking with his stupid carrier bag rolling behind him. As if this woman he was married to was nothing more than a stranger.

I went to work and told the guys that if they ever did that to their significant others, I’d have them castrated.

And then, last night, the flip side. In the long tunnel leading to the tube, an old man offered his elderly wife an arm to lean on. And as a thousand people rushed on by, they walked, in their own time, at her pace, together. I’m pro chivalry, I’m not gonna lie to you, but is there anything as endearing as an old love? It’s like driftwood softening after years of being battered by waves. The tenderness and patience and kind heartedness of a love that has not only spanned the years but has grown out of all the shit that happens in life. Shit that has, pardon the expression, made their love richer. Rather than let it go to seed and dry up– a tumbleweed in the wind.

You know there were storms in their years and they screamed and shouted in the passion of their youth, as they learned to dance their dance and navigate the uneven terrain that is love. You know there were times when they wanted to throw in the towel and there were doors slammed shut and maybe even bags packed. But they came back, time and time again, and they mended the holes and they put patches on those delicate parts that needed a bit more reinforcing over the years.

Life is one loop at a time and sometimes you unravel entire sections before you pick up again at that bit where everything got a little messy. You fix it (or you embrace that imperfect little stitch). You move on. You love on.

There’s noise everywhere and it’s so easy to let your heart grow hard and cold like a lump of clay in your chest. It’s so easy to turn your back on love and walk away or walk ahead. It’s harder to reach for someone’s hand in the dark of the night after harsh words were spoken, when everything in your being wants to hold onto the point you’re trying to make.

To know that your love is louder than all that noise.

day 16 – stu-stu-studio

November 16, 2013

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Whilst we renovate the house, the husband and I are living with his brother and partner in Hyde Park and though I love them dearly and am so very grateful for a place to rest my head at night, it can all feel a bit claustrophobic at times. Though having been to India, I suppose I don’t really have the right to say that my living conditions are cramped. It’s not like my parents and five siblings and their babies and the neighbour’s cow are sleeping in my bedroom, which also serves as my kitchen and living room.

But let’s face it, Hyde Park is a bit… well… beige. And I feel like Branson in Downton Abbey — I’m the chauffeur in these mews and I’ll simply never be a Crawley. Or, for those of you who haven’t yet discovered the UK’s finest fromage on television, it feels a bit like when Julia Roberts goes shopping on Rodeo Drive– the first time, when she’s a bit skanky — but we all know that underneath the itty bitty outfit barely covering her nethers, there is a smart girl; a veritable Erin Brokovich in the making.

Also, when one works from home, things can get pretty insular. And I love being alone. I mean, I am the qa-ween of solitude, people. But even the queen of solitude has to get out once in a while. So, I done gone and rented a studio space for the month of November and it’s like a Phil Collins song but better, which isn’t much of a stretch in 2013 but trust me, in the 80’s, you would have been all over that shit.

It’s such a glorious studio and there’s a metric ton of light pouring into the place through massive multi-pane windows, and in a country where light is most definitely not their greatest commodity, this is a true blessing. And I’m surrounded by writers and photographers and it’s just fucking awesome.

And, best of all, it’s back in my old haunts. I feel so much more at home north of King’s Cross, where things are just a bit more sparkly. The north is where the colourful people live and the bicycles squeak a little louder and there are more second-hand shops than boutiques and the leaves stay on the ground a bit longer before the city rakes them up and it smells more of incense and less of expensive perfume. It’s where people put the funk in dysfunctional. It’s anonymous, it’s heterogeneous, it’s real.

And it’s damn good to be back, even if only temporarily.


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