Ambles and frolics

Last weekend Mike and I went for a long walk in surprising 16 degree sunshine.  Life went in a blink from drizzly winter’s end to blazing summertime, with exuberant dogs splashing on the riverbanks, posh people gathering over fro-yos and bottles of Pinot in Richmond, black-haired teenagers smoking weed and kissing on benches, and rustic riverboats covered in flower pots and drying laundry floating past, leaving behind a scent trail of barbecues and beers.  I climbed onto a seemingly abandoned wreck and immediately got told off by a river hobo.  We walked for five hours from Kingston to Barnes, and finished with a golden and well-deserved pint after the sun had set over Kew Gardens.  Turns out the Thames is a hella lot longer than one might think.

IMG_3417rsIMG_3463rslondon dogIMG_3632rsMike upon Thames IMG_3623rs IMG_3667rs

Though I’m fairly certain I would be a happier, more confident person if I lived in a sunnier country, I could never be without the seasons.  I’d love to always be skipping around in flowy dresses and flip-flops, but there is nothing quite like the relief of spring and people flocking outside to soak up the long-awaited rays.

Now the cloud cover is back, and I’m snuggled up on the sofa with Mike and coffee and fairy lights.  Mike practices Swedish (“kvinnan läser tidningen … flickorna dricker mjölk”) while I write.  There’s nothing I love more than the sound of a clicking keyboard, effortlessly shaping thoughts into words.  I just wish I could find a direct link to the creative muse, so that I could open the download stream and get into flow at will.  My book seems to be trapped in a pressure cooker and I’m scared to remove the lid, so instead I read others’ stories to see if I can replenish my creative dam and avoid stagnation.  As a clinical people-pleaser, it’s a significant effort to wash away projections and assumptions and just write how I want it to read.  “Gotta get to the center… Run off with a dancer…”

Otherwise I mostly spend my days in useful writing sessions and inevitable pint o’clocks with Zoe at Dial Arch, and having a writing companion is immensely helpful.  We read and review each other’s work, vent our frustrations, share stories and ideas, and justify each other’s drinking.  What fortunate timing.

Her Majesty Fleur

Yesterday I found Fleur among my tarot cards,  in the guise of the Queen of Wands.  The cards told me I have the potential of this venerable lady within me, and that she is not yet being fully channeled due to fear, anxiety and self-doubt getting in the way.  My eyes widened as I read the properties of the Wand Queen – creative, inspirational, authentic, independent:

queen-of-wandsThe Queen of Wands is the dominant feminine energy of the element of Fire … focused on her desires, intending to get what she wants … can sustain your own creative vision, even in the face of adversity … independent … highly energetic and leads a busy and active life … radiates health and vitality and has an inner vibrancy that fills her with ongoing energy and inspiration … actively inspires others … asks you to be bold and courageous in your undertakings and actions … highly optimistic, confident … have an ability to express your passions with great authenticity and courage … creates a powerful first impression and is a likeable individual who makes friends easily by being sweet, warm and charming.”

(Source: Biddy Tarot)

I had been planning to describe Fleur in a blog post one day, but no need – she is this Queen!  And I clearly have the seed of her within me.  Another card was drawn to clarify how exactly I am to overcome the fears that stand in my way, and the Moon popped up to tell me to shine a light on my shadow self, according to the Jung school of thought; to become aware of my tendencies to project fear and anxiety, and letting go of these – watching the thinker, as Eckhart Tolle has already advised me.  The Moon says old fears and blocks will surface to be released, and a purging process is underway.  I think she’s right.

In other news, the sun is shining over London and I am on my way out for a Sunday afternoon frolic with Karin and old Irish friends from another lifetime.  My book is still being squeezed and shaped, but to find my authentic voice is proving a bit of a challenge.  Again, it’s about letting go and getting out of the way, not controlling the process but rather allowing it.

Spring is nearly here and I am so excited for another warm season full of fun and adventure.  Fresh scents bring old summer memories to mind – sunsets in parks and midnight mischief, festival shenanigans and random meetings, spontaneous explorations, carefree days and intoxicating nights.  Reflections in still canal water, the cool shade of tall trees, the smell of lager and Jamaican street food, the feeling of a flowing skirt and warm air on my skin; the sense that summer has no end.

Karin and East London canals:

karin by canal rs

Festival nights:

Summerjam

View from enchanting Honor Oak Park:

honor oak park view

Greenwich sunshine with Sarah and Veronica:

in the park

Jamming in Finsbury Park:

finsbury  park

South London ambles with Mike:

mike and kitty rs

London summertime:

London summer

Ain’t life glorious.

A London love story

Time has slowed down since I left work.  I can’t believe it has only been two weeks.  I am eternally grateful for this existence, and this incredible opportunity.  I spend my days in pubs and cafes slowly hammering away at my book.  Like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube, it is slowly being born, little by little every day.  I have met up with the Greenwich Writers and made a writing buddy, and today we sat in the Dial Arch for six hours tapping away at our keyboards.

Mike’s mum came for a visit and my eyes were opened once again to the beauty of this city, and this part of the city in particular.  The south-east is littered with magical green spaces from where you can admire the silent, glittering lights of Canary Wharf and the City.  From every angle there is something new, something surprising, and as they say, variety is the spice of life.  I love being surprised, I love not knowing what’s around the corner, and I love finally having enough time and zest to go seek it out.
London skyline

 

A new life begins

IMG_1812rsWork is over and I am once again a drifter – except this time with some structure and scheduling to ensure that my book will get done and not run the risk of being forgotten amidst aimless ambles through wooded estates and along quiet backstreets (come spring, at least), and spontaneous creative ventures that will pull me along but never bear fruit.

I have dragged the kitchen table over to the heater, where I have set up my workstation cheek by jowl with the radiator and the coffee machine, and here I can tap away without end, overlooking the river and the woods of the east.  Now I just need to stay focused.

The life of yesterday already feels distant and meaningless.  This marks a new beginning.  I have made new friends and taken many photographs and celebrated my birthday on a glinting rooftop, and Fleur feels much closer now.IMG_1832rsIMG_1825rs

 

Winter night in Dalston

Last weekend, in search of the promised adventures of 2015, Karin and I braved the cold of winter and took to Dalston for some late night frolicking. We started off gently in the colourful Hysteria on Kingsland Road, where I ordered my trusty Southern-Comfort-lemonade-and-lime and was able to sit still for two whole minutes before my camera fingers became itchy (sorry, Karin!).

karin

hysteria dalston

hysteria dalston

hysteria dalston

pissoir

lemon juice

hysteria dalston

In between the basement’s doodled crimson walls I made friends with Sana, who was there with her boyfriend, DJ Stylus.  They were eager models and invited me for future photo work on their DJ sets.  Turns out meeting people is easy when you have a camera to lead the way.

Stylus DJ

Soon it was time for a midwinter bimble, and we wandered down Kingsland Road listening out for merry chattering or hypnotic dub beats.  We passed several brimful venues where throngs of expectant party-goers formed long and uninviting queues, so instead we settled for some conversation in the quiet street.  We paid a brief visit to The Nest but quickly realised that those days are behind us (but what memories we have!).

Later we discovered the unlikely venue of Escudo de Cuba, where the owner served us olives on toothpicks and free tequila shots, after which our restless butts once again hit the chilly streets.  Soon we will have balmy summer evenings through which to ramble aimlessly, oh I can’t wait!

karin

Then, by some fortunate accident, we stumbled upon the hidden gem of Gillett Square.  Some noise was spilling from a corner where an improvised Ethiopian bar was serving smoothies, coffees, and £2 craft beers.  A group of truly random characters had gathered to see out the night together, and we soon found ourselves shaking our booties in something resembling a minicab office, and befriending some anomalous mavericks ostensibly flying on some powerful psychedelics.

gillett square

dalston

dalston

gillett square dalston

Eventually weariness and cold took over, and we slumbered our way through two nightbuses and crashed in Karin’s bed when the sun was just about to reappear.  At 11am I snuck out of bed, grabbed my things, and walked home in a light drizzle, and everything looked beautiful.

Countdown

waterloo east station

waterloo east

time

Another week gone, the days arduously ticked off like items on a to-do list, the endless countdown to each Friday night, only to leave us with one glorious Saturday and one anxiety-ridden, dread-full Sunday before we’re back in the machine. That ain’t no way to live.

So I’m outta there. One more week, and on my birthday I will go out with a bang, a pile of cakes, and two bottles of Kava Brut. I am temping for a reason – I’m a free spirit, a drifting creative, a non-committer, a quitter. I refuse to devote my life to the service of others – especially when those ‘others’ are petty lawyers, earning their daily bread by feeding the rapacious beast of bureaucracy which is holding us all in its swelling grip.

waterloo east

still life

waterloo east

On the long, gently bobbing train rides to and from work I read, swallowing words like a hungry child, noting them down in my journal, savouring their meanings and origins; adding them to my ever-expanding bank for future use and abuse. Certain sentences and passages grab my attention and I am compelled to read them over and over before highlighting and leaving for a later re-read, and I long for careless days when I can spend seamless hours tapping away at my keyboard, nailing words to stories, pouring the contents of my brain into cookie moulds and watch them rise in the heat.

Inevitably, one part of me is wondering, will I ever be able to make a living off my writing? But the other part of me is saying, I can do anything I set my mind to, and a new mantra has emerged: I have something to prove.

kajsa palsson

Thursday fizzies

When life is miserable, it’s okay to spice a Thursday with some gin and sparkling lemon water. Now I’m gently tipsy, have finally put on some laundry and the dishwasher is empty, and The People’s Key is rattling through our flat.

Work is dragging on and I’m not sure how long it will be before I find a successor to claim my threadbare secretary throne. Every day I’m dreaming of faraway locations and unfathomable adventures, or just of simple pleasures such as spending a day at home with our French press and the steady clickety-clack of my keyboard. Yet every day I find myself, inescapably, pressed up against sweaty strangers on the DLR, shuddering beside sniffling zombies on the District Line, and sighing forlornly before a screen which is shouting at me, ‘same shit, different day’.

This morning I started reading Getting Stoned With Savages, where the author is trapped in the horrific daily grind of Washington D.C.’s banking world, when he realises that he is not a “soft Italian leather shoe man” but a flip-flop man, and escapes to the silent, white beaches of Vanuatu. I can’t help but think that everyone would be better off in flip-flops, sipping coconut water under a cordial sun.

Mike and I went to Greenwich for a spontaneous date night. Mike was cute as ever and I had butterflies in my hair. Greenwich, true to form, had nothing much to offer, and after considering various menus and meal prices, we ended up in our much-trusted Wetherspoons, where fresh-faced students were catching up after a long Christmas break.
mike

mike

mike

kajsa palsson

kajsa palsson

kajsa palsson

wetherspoons

Warming ales and fairy lights

dial arch

Karin and I took to the pub for a pint of Winter Warmer, and had a play with my precious camera I got from my darling Mike. Woolwich doesn’t have a whole lot to offer, but the Dial Arch down by the river is a bricks-and-brews wonder pub.

karin and kajsa

English pubs have a special place in my heart – especially when outside is dark and bitter, and cold is seeping in through our draughty windows at home.

karinkarinkajsa

It’s been ten years since we moved to London together, K-dawg and I. We’ve spent a third of our lives here. What a ride it has been.

karinkajsakarin

January blues

Kajsa

My skin feels raw today, and our dry January is drowned in a glass of whiskey. It soothes my antennae, which every evening feel as though they have been split into a thousand and all streams of input are exaggerated to the point of pain.

A few weeks left at work, then I’ll be free. Free of commuting pressed up against fetid zombies three hours a day. Free of forced company and shallow conversation. Free of mindless toiling and endless longing. Just a few more weeks; a few more pounds in my pocket. Then I will write. Then I will socialise. Then I will tidy and clean and wash and organise. Until then, my boy takes on the evenings’ tasks and cooks me meals and I am so very grateful, because I would have done a terrible job myself.

Fleur feels far away. Later this week I will take my camera and hit the streets of Greenwich and see if maybe I can find her through the viewfinder; capture her on some bright LCD screen.