Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spoon Fed Loneliness

It's amazing how sometimes, in the busiest of places, you can feel lonely. London is a bit like that for me. To be fair, that's mainly because I've spent a lot of time wandering the city by myself here. But there's something beyond that. Even with friends around me, I feel like the general vibe pulsing out of the city is one of Each-To-Their-Own.

Londoners are in marathon mode. Out the other evening, bounding along on a runner's high, I saw lots of fellow jog-a-loggers. There's often this really nice thing between runners; it's a sort of nod, sometimes just a glance, of acknowledgement. (It doesn't really happen with someone who's obviously newish to running, because generally then there is no eye contact- all of their energy has to go into doing this stupid activity and the resultant facial expression is just pain, or something like an uncomfortable poo.) If a couple of devotees catch each other's eye, the flash is often there, and it says “This is pretty awesome, hey? You feeling the endorphins? I'm feeling the endorphins. Ohhhh yeeeaaahhhh. Have a great run!...”, or something along those lines.

It's hard to get that here at the moment, though, because everyone seems to be looking at their watches all the time. I understand that as a runner there's this constant want to push yourself and do a bit better or a bit more, and for those people gearing up for the marathon there's a hunger rumbling inside of them that can only be nourished by statistics. But the beauty in the run for me is losing the sense of time, and being liberated from constraints. This is especially good for me, as I'm someone who is always a bit conscious of trying to do x, y, z in a finite period of time. So if I can run with my only aim being freedom from that awareness of time... well, it's a good thing for my brain/soul/heart/general well-being.

On that subject of being emotionally attached to pieces of equipment, can we talk about iPhones/Pads/Precious Bits? Bloody hell. I know I know- they're pretty. And such a lovely compaction of everything you could possibly need into one little pocketful of fun. It's kind of cool and very convenient to be able to step out of the house and not even have to think about how to get to where you want to get to, but seeing so many people enter, sit on and exit the tube without once glancing up, I just have to ask...
  • Where's the fun? Sometimes it's nice to get a bit lost. Or stumble across things by accident. Or find yourself in a dark alley... well, scratch that last one.
  • Where's the spontaneity? I suppose most technological advances in recent times have contributed to this change- remember when instead of being able to just go: “Where are you? Yeah just walk down the mall, I'm outside Borders in a blue checked shirt with a penguin on the back: see me? See me...?”, you actually had to arrange stuff? And commit to stuff?
  • Where's the interaction? (See also: The Rise of the Self-Checkout and Subsequent Fall of the Checkout Chick)

(I was going to also question the whereabouts of the book, but then I remembered you don't need paper any more, because you just read your book on your screen thingy. Whatever- I like dog ears.)

Just to end off this little soliloquy on solitariness...

I attended a manual handling course the other day. The overriding feeling I came away with was a sad sense of healthcare becoming more about business and less about care. I completely understand the need for guidelines in relation to lifting heavy loads, and even agree with the concept of the No Lift policy, given the huge percentage of healthcare workers who have suffered debilitating injuries as a result of not keeping their own health in mind. BUT it's the degree to which this has to be taken. A (paraphrased) quote from the instructor of the session:

Instructor: “You might see little, old, 60kg Mary start to fall and think 'Oh no!', but you have to remember that by the time little old Mary gets close to the floor, she's got the same amount of force built up as a small motorbike... so instead of thinking 'Oh no!', you need to see Mary for what she really is... essentially a small motorbike... would you try to stop a motorbike from falling?”
Us: “No.”
Instructor: “So why would this be any different, really?”
Me: “Because motorbikes can't cry?”

Meanwhile, look at what Amsterdam had to offer on our first day back in not -15 degrees about a week ago!

Monday, March 7, 2011

So nice getting back into this, my favouritest foodie site of all:

Made a pretty good galette last night thanks to Deb and her sexy site and pretty pictures.

I miss performing.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I just can't eat meat right now

I love JSF so much. His fiction, which I have discovered since being away, makes me laugh/cry/hold my hand over my mouth and then to my heart. I would strongly recommend Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. They are beautiful examples of contemporary literature.

I read his latest, Eating Animals, about a month ago. In the middle of meat-laden, sausage-fest Finland, my stomach lurched and my mind raced as once again his writing drew me in, this time with exposing facts about the factory-farming industry of America.

I've never been a huge "I Love Steak" person, but have always eaten a fair amount of meat, and particularly enjoy a nice piece of fish. My mouth waters at the thought of Salt and Pepper squid from Yingers on Gouger St.

The problem is that for the most part, the nice piece of fish isn't really so nice. I know our standards in Australia when it comes to farming are no doubt better that beefy, porky America(ns), but the fact remains that a lot of the time, 'free-range' doesn't really mean free-range, whole species are being wiped out of the ocean for the purposes of putting a pretty piece of pink flesh on top of a ball of rice, and we're eating stuff that's been modified to benefit our tastebuds and our hip pockets at the expense of being strong and healthy as animals themselves.

And aside from this, the book really raised the question of why, really, we do it. JSF questions whether "because it tastes good" is reason enough to justify slaughtering animals. And it's hard to argue with this. I've really probably always known this, but to be honest, it's the social aspect of eating that is the main thing that makes the decision to say "No thanks" quite hard. And I do like a bit of the old being social.

But look, it's not great for me, animals, the environment, the trends of our eating in Western Society. And I just don't really need it in my life.

So there you go.