Sometimes I write a sentence, and I re-read it and marvel at its simplicity. I can't believe I wrote it. It's like I'm disembodied from my own words.


Pure Shite Got home at around 10:00 p.m. after going to an opening after work. A habit I've gotten into once I arrive home is to immediately open up the patio door to check out my garden. Usually a cat or two rushes in to get to the food bowl or the prime spot on the sofa. The garden is doing exceptionally well this year, particularly in contrast with the last two summers, which were somewhat mediocre. The Summer of 2000 was when I split with my partner, and the garden just got neglected. I don't think I actually did any work in it until well into that Fall, when I half-heartedly repotted some geraniums to bring indoors. Last summer, the garden did a little better, and I added a pond, which is proving to be really successful. But the previous year's neglect (no additional compost, no fertilizer, no deadheading or trimming) produced some rather unspectacular perennials. As I walked out tonight, I noticed many things in flower or about to flower. The irises, which actually never bloomed before, have several incredible flower buds on them, as do the centaura, the dianthus, the yarrow, the columbine, and the mallow. The peonies are going to put on an a beautiful fragrant show it seems, judging from the number of buds. For the first time, my lavender has come back and the bushes are really lush. In fact, everything is big and mature and lush. All the perennials this year got treated to a top dressing of real cow and sheep manure, direct from a friend's farm. He purchased what was a dairy and sheep farm. The manure mucked out from the barn has been composting for four or five years, so the smell has dissipated for the most part. The pile itself is a good two stories high, and it's hard to imagine using it all up in my lifetime. This is good shit. I can't help but think that the garden's current lushness is the result of the incredible nutrients in this marvelous manure. There's something moving about holding a newly bloomed flower carefully between your fingers. Combine that with the sweet scent of the neighbour's lilac trees, and you have a moment of sheer delight.


Montreal, Ground Zero I'm back in reality. I arrived yesterday at around 6:00 p.m. I was relieved to get off that damn plane (7 hours of Jim Carey films is really too much--"The Majestic" is such an incredibly bad film that it seems like it lasts for all eternity). I was sooooo happy to see my little yellow bug sitting patiently for me in the parking lot. It popped its little trunk so that I could load my suitcase in, and then it swung the driver's-side door open so I could get in and start it's kitteny-soft engine. Purrr we went down the highway. I got home and everything was right. The garden had grown a lot. The cat's were glad to see me. I slowly unpacked a few things (mostly laundry), stopped by to see my cat-sitting neighbours, and then left to do a quick grocery stop. Back at 8:00. Ate. Asleep by 9:00. Purrr. My last day in London started off badly and ended superbly. My allergies really acted up in London (in comparison, back in Montreal, I'm virtually symptom-free). I left my hotel at around 10:00, but nothing is really open on a Saturday before noon. No coffee, and most importantly, no toilets. I walked around miserably waiting for any kind of institution with facilties to open. Finally one did, and then I went into power spending mode. Explored some more boutiques in Soho and bought some herbal remedy things from Neal's Yard (as gifts, mostly). Walked to Piccadilly Circus to find that huge bookstore that Time Out talked about, but I think it had been taken over by a huge Virgin Mega Store (not a good thing). Walked back to the hotel for about 4:00 and napped. Met my friends B and A for dinner in a lovely place called the Jardins de Palais on Long Acre. What a feast we had. Lots of fish things in yummy creamy sauces. Wine. Chocolate for dessert and a fruity dessert wine that B insisted (rightly) that we try. A lovely dining room, with excellent service (actually too good, as I had to shoo a busboy away several times as he attmpted to take my appetizer plate away from me). B and A were excellent company and we talked about everything under the sun, from costume design to peaches. I loved my vacation, but I loved coming home. Real work begins tomorrow.


London, Day 10 This is likely my last post from London, as I head off to catch my flight earlyish tomorrow. I went on a bit of a shopping binge yesterday, trying to find gifts to bring back for people, especially my kind neighbours taking care of the kitties. I've mostly concentrated on trying to find things that I couldn't get elsewhere--*knickers* from Marks and Spencers, some lovely tops, some really beautiful square pillow shams for the living room in an Indian motif, cool cosmetic thingys, teas, tinctures, and tins of biscuits. Went to the White Horse for my last Friday night pub night. A different pub from last week's, this one was just full to bursting, people spilling out all over, broken glass on the cobblestones. A real mixture of people from all over Europe. I had a great time, but this time I stopped drinking at a certain point. Today, I'm just going to hunt around Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus for a few things (there's a bookstore I want to go to), then I meet my friend B and his girlfriend for dinner. That's all from London.


London, Day 9 I know, I know. I have a couple of days of catching up to do. When I wrote my previous entry, I *was* really hungover. But, I don't understand why. I left the production company with my friend J, who works there (he's the really tall guy in the pictures from the pub night I linked to earlier). He had kindly agreed to host a dinner party for me, and I left early with him to help prepare all the food. We stopped at Tescos to get the last remaining things we needed and then off to his sweet house in Brixton that he shares with 4 other people. He prepared really excellent Spainish food. It's amazing how tasty things can be using only a few ingredients. Chicken wings. Chorizo. Peas and chorizo. Meat balls. And the best: Toast some bread, take a ripe tomato and slice it in half, rub it's juices all over the bread, drizzle really good olive oil on it, and add a bit of salt if you want. So freakin' good. I helped prepare the toast. So, I guess I had a lot of time to drink wine. My friend B and I were the last to leave (it was well after 1:00 a.m.). Like the bread, I was toasted. Totally. They poured me into the cab that B and shared, me to my hotel and then B to his flat in Bethnal Green. I had a bit of a walk to my hotel from where the cab let me off and it took all my concentration *not to stagger*. Back in my room, I drank a ton of water, had lots of ibuprofen, and fell asleep immediately. When I woke up (around 10:30), it was raining. I had missed breakfast anyway (they stop serving at 9:00), so I just went back to sleep for a bit. At about noon, when the chamber maid woke me, I decided that I really needed to get up and out. Moving very slowly, I showered, dressed, packed my little napsack with the days neccessisities (water and ibuprofen), got a coffee and made my way to the internet cafe, where *all* I was able to do was write yesterday's paltry paragraphs. I went back to my hotel and slept until 4:00. At 6:00, there was a Softimage London User Group meeting. I met a few more people that I had corresponded with over the years I've spent at Soft. And I drank lots and lots and lots complimentary mineral water. Got home at around 11:00 and caught an in-depth documentary on ITV on the porn industry. Very illuminating. Apparently, you can show a flaccid penis on British TV, but not an erect one. They showed a lot of flaccid penises. Not sure what I'm going to do today except meet my Soho buddies for a goodbye pub night later this evening. I had intentions of seeing the Chelsea flower show, but all the tickets are sold out. It would have made me jealous anyway. I am getting homesick, and I miss my little garden and my little furry guys (Benny, Rosie, Nomar, and Punkin). And I miss my friends. One thing I must say is that having internet access while I'm away has been amazing. Getting email from my pals at home, and being able to share my exploits with you via this blog has been really great.


London, Day 8 Okay. I'm horribly, horribly hung over. My first hangover in London. Hooray! How, you ask, did I get here? I walked around Soho yesterday, knowing that I would meet my friend and colleague S to meet some clients at a 3D production company later in the afternoon. I found the coolest watch. The strap is a highway, and on the highway is a little pink bug. Cute. This is actually all I can write for now. I'll catch up with you all later...


London/Cambridge, Day 7 Before describing my day, I have to rant a little about the public phone system here. It sucks. My hotel has a public phone (non BT) that requires you to put money in some time after the person answers, which coincides with a little light going on. I fucked up. I missed my cue. I gave up on that phone and found a box that was clearly marked "Cards and Coins", meaning it should take both money and either a phone card or a credit card. First, try finding a bleeping phone card. I can find International cards, but few people sell BT phone cards. It's hit or miss whether my credit card works. Booths sometimes won't take coins, though they say they do. So I carry a lot of change. You need to, as you are charged for the amount of time you are on the phone. I can't tell you how often I've been cut off because I didn't put money in on time. And I roam from booth to booth trying to find the perfect match between me and the phone system. Unlike North America, where it's dead simple to rent a temporary cel phone, here it's quite difficult. I miss my cel. I miss being able to make a phone call from any booth and talk as long as I want for a quarter. I caught the train to Cambridge yesterday from Liverpool Street station. It was a milk run route that took me through some fairly non-descript villages, but the countryside got prettier and prettier the further I got from London. I arrived just after lunch and walked from the station to the centre of town (about a fifteen minute walk). Cambridge being a very green space, I figured I'd find a little park to eat the cheese and fruit I'd brought with me before exploring Cambridge proper. There was a little common (behind the bus station, I learned later), and I sat down on a bench. An older gentleman sat down beside me a few minutes later. He started talking to me ("Where you from?" "Oh really? Oh my parents went to Niagara Falls. Is that near where you live?" "You have nice hair."). He had that English drawl that I usually associate with groups of older English women (think of Monty Python's Diesel Engine skit), that made him sound either very patient or very simple. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I was polite, but each question made him inch closer and closer to me. Sensing danger, I stood up and said that I must be going. He held out his hand to shake mine. I'm such a polite Canadian girl, I shook it and then he kissed my hand. Ewwwwwwwww. Before delving into Cambridge's architecture, I figured I'd look in some of the shops. I reckoned it was a good time as any to get undies from Marks and Spencers. I choose some panties and a few bras to try on. When I got to the changing room, the lady asked my if I wanted to try on the "knickers" I had in my hands. That word just makes me giggle. So, yes, I bought some knickers, but no bras. I wandered around Cambridge, whose centre is incredibly tiny. The various colleges and chuirches are impressive, but I think I was a bit touristed out and only took interest in the statue of Henry VIII with a bunch of pigeons on his head. I was to meet Lisa at about 6:30 at the Border's book shop cafe (yes, it's a Starbucks). I got thare about 45 minutes early, so started reading abunch of celebrity biographies (Cybill Shepperd, Madonna) and then switched to really big book on the history of hacking, which had a CD-Rom of all the postings the author had collected since the mid-seventies on phreaking (phone scams) and hacking in general. Geek heaven! I had no problems spotting Lisa right away. I was busy cleaning tables at Starbuck's when she walked in (the tables were a mess, they had run out of cups, the guy behind the counter couldn't identify the mint tea in the tea caddy...sheesh!). We chatted for a bit and then headed down to Jesus Green for the Cambridge Beer Festival. A bunch of her friends were there, including Jack and Heather, Jim (of "curse you, Jim" fame), Mickey, and a bunch of other people whose names I can't remember (and I only had 2 pints!). It was good fun standing about, "taking the piss out of one another" and balancing cheese plates in one hand and a beer glass in another. Lisa, you're a fun and beautiful gal, and I definitely will spend more time next time. Alas, I had to be back in London today. The train ride home was uneventful, except for the two men (unrelated) who picked their noses the whole ride home. The train took a slightly different route back, as it was heading for King's Cross and not Liverpool Street station. We passed through two villages that my parents lived in for a while--Hitchin and Stevenage--and it was unexpected to see these familar names on railway station signs. I'm proud to report that I sucessfully negotiated my way back to my hotel, which is conveniently located next to several stations on the Northern line. Get this: This line is actually two lines, which meet at Euston Station. I easily found the *other* Northern line, but wonder why they simply don't call it something else. Taking it easy today. Just going to wander around and then hook up with some friends later today. I'm just going to let London happen to me. p.s. Thanks for the emails! I enjoy getting them!


London, Day 6 Spent pratically the whole day at the Tate Modern. Time Out compares it to the Musee d'Orsay in that it's a recovered industrial building. What I remember most from the Musee d'Orsay is the light coming in through the glass ceiling. There wasn't much sun yesterday (surprise!), but the entry ramp down to the first floor is impressive. Photos from the building before it was renovated reveal the space pretty much as it is now, but with lots of interesting rusty bits, which added colour and warmth to the space. Sadly, these are gone. For those of you from Montreal, a similar renovation (on a much smaller scale, of course) is Discreet's renovations on Duke Street. The Tate should have kept all the boilers. Inside, the collection is quite impressive, highlighting both famous contemporary artists and some I've not heard of before. Memorable for me was: The Rothko room: Always a favourite with me. They always induce some kind of meditative state. They should put little cots underneath what are mostly mauve-coloured canvases for people like me who just want to have a little dream under them. The Pollack stop: One of Pollack's smaller action paintings, accompanied by audio recordings of everything from whether Pollack is the greatest American painter of all time to whether Lee Krasner was gyped out of a career of her own (there was a Lee Krasner there as well). Richard Long vs. Claude Monet: In this corner, one of those damn waterlilly paintings. In the other corner, a new work, done especially for the space, of a waterfall. The latter is a big, monochrome rendition of foam and water cascading down the entire wall. The former looks grubby and dirty and blurry in comparison. Long wins! Dan Flavin: The king of fluorescent lights, there's nothing like the hum of the lights as you walk through the room filled with his work. Rebecca Horn's piano: A grand piano is suspended from the ceiling. As I enter the room, it's playing tinnily. Amused, I'm the only one to walk and stand right underneath the work (I'm so trusting). As I check out the other pieces in the room, the top of the piano bursts open and all the keys fly out. Wicked! Boccioni's piece: I can never remember the name of this piece, but it's that famous Futurist sculpture of what is essentially a man in motion. He's vital, he's sexy, and he's made of bronze. A man clearly going places. I left the museum at about 5:00 p.m. and walked along the south bank. Looking at the map, I thought it would be a long walk to the Westminister bridge and the Houses of Parliment, but it wasn't. I passed the London Eye, British Airway's huge slow moving ferris wheel that gives you quite a good view of London. I *had* to take it. It was a tad expensive at £10.50, but I got some good aerial shots of other people below me. I walked over the Westminster bridge and then got a little bit lost. I found myself walking through St. James park. Exiting, I thought I was at Nelson's column, but was in fact at the Duke of York's column (it was big, so I just assumed). I kind of got my bearings and thought I was heading towards Trafalgar Square, but ended up in Picadilly Circus instead. Seeing that the now familiar Shaftesbury avenue hooked up there, I eagerly followed it to the Sainsbury's, where I bought wine, cheese, and some salad and went back to my hotel to read the Tate Modern catalog and fall asleep to a Jean Claude Van Damme film about hockey (he plays a French Canadian, and it's full of 80s hockey stars like Luc Robitaille. They *all* have mullets!). p.s. You can check out pictures of Friday's pub nite here. Lots of my hair, and some height comparison shots.


London, Day 5 Before leaving, I bought Timeout's London Walks. Yesterday, being a rather sunny and warmish day, I decided to head out for an area I likely wouldn't go to otherwise...Knightsbridge. I chose one of the longer walks, thinking that the 5 and a half hours they slated for the walk would be long enough to see me through the day. They didn't say that I was going to be passing by a number of shops. Anyway, I saw Kensington Palace (where Princess Margaret, Diana etc. had an "apartment") and sat in the gardens for a while. Then proceeded down Kensington where I had lunch at a chain called Wagamama, a very upscale noodle place. Fortified, I found a few shops, bought a lovely knit polo shirt and proceeded through Belgravia. The walk was really long, and I passed all these parks, which I desperately wanted to stop and rest in. But, they were all private and I had to wait until I had walked all the way to Victoria Station before I found a public space. Like most train and bus depots, the area attracts a lot of homeless (there's a lot of homeless people in London--reminds me of New York in the early 80s). This little park was no exception, and I sat opposite several homeless men who, surprisingly, had a cel phone among them (didn't I report earlier that there *are* thousands of cel phones here?). Another man sat beside me briefly. He spoke to someone in his head, and I heard phrases like "I bet she was a brunette before becoming a blonde," and "Tell me: who raped Marcus?" and "Shall I bring water or cheese?" Each remark was followed by a chuckle. He left after awhile. Although the walk suggested I continue from Victoria Station to Picadilly and then towards Covent Garden, I just couldn't. Happily, I had picked up a bus route map and found several buses that would give me a good tour of London and take me back to Tottenem Court Road and Oxford Street, which is near my hotel. For £1, you can't beat that. Once off the bus, I stopped in Sainsbury's to pick up a snack. It was really full of people doing the same thing. It's amazing how much pre-cooked and pre-packaged food you can get here. I wonder if it's the same syndrome as I've experienced in New York. Lives are so busy and apartments (especially kitchens) are so small, that takeaway is a staple in people's lives. It sure has saved me a bundle in evening meals (in fact, I'm well under my spending budget of $100.00 CDN a day). Back at the hotel, I napped for an hour. I wasn't hungry, but decided to take a walk. Back down Gower street to Oxford, to Shaftesbury, to Neal, and I suddenly found myself back in Covent Garden. It was actually faster to walk than take the tube. I didn't realize how close I was. I sat in a cafe and ordered a mint tea. An American blues guitarist was playing and he was really quite good, and really played up his southern roots to the delight of the audience, who would imitate his American Southern drawl over their own German, French, and various Eastern Eurpean accents. Fun. Got back to my hotel in time to catch BBC2's report on football hooliganism. Since I'm not familiar with the style of reporting on the BBC, I don't know how much of it was sensationalized. Let's just say that there are small groups of organized football fans who love to fight and...ummm...like to do the Nazi salute and the goose step. And beat up people who are darker than themselves. Fell asleep to the very creepy Arlington Road. I now have something of a routine here that replicates my waking up process at home. Breakfast service ends at 9:00, so I try to make it down by 8:30 at the very latest. Everyone else seems to have showered and shaved before coming down. I just make sure that my hair isn't all cockeyed, pull a sweatshirt over my pyjamas and go downstairs to the breakfast room. Only later do I have the attention span required to clean myself up and think through what I'm going to do and how I'm going to get there. Because the hotel serves the worst coffee in the world, I stop at a little Italian cafe nearby, order a latte, sit outside, and collect my thoughts. Finally, I come here to the interner cafe and write my blog before heading out. That's pretty much how I function when at home. Today the Tate Modern and tomorrow Cambridge to romp with Lisa.


London, Day 4 It *did* stop raining yesterday, so off I went to Portobello Road. Portobello Road is, for me, the place where Paddington went to visit Mr.Gruber for something mysterious called "elevenses". I didn't see Paddington, although there were many stuffed replicas of him, and I suspect Mr.Gruber must be dead by now, as he was already very old when I read the Paddington stories as a young thing. (There's a man making the most disgusting horking and coughing sounds in this cafe. Must wash my hands before I leave. Lord knows *who* used this keyboard before me.) The Portobello market is quite fun, and I found a couple of tops there, one a very pretty reversible silk blouse that ties at the waist. I also found a cafe with a balcony on the second floor where I watched people for a bit and had a latte. Did you know that most restaurants here *do not know* what a long espresso is? They will, instead, bring you a double. Zing! Went out to eat with friends near Covent Gardens/Leichester Square in a chi-chi fish restaurant called Zilli's. They had a prix fixe menu for about £20. We ordered a mid-priced bottle of wine at £35 (that's over $70 CDN). The food was okay. The carrot and ginger soup was tasty, but my friend Luc at Bistro San Lucas in my 'hood makes the best soup anywhere, so I'm spoiled. The monkfish dish was a bit disappointing. Mixed with pasta, which I ate very little of, there was very little monkfish. The dessert was very good: a gooey chocolate-y brownie topped with what seemed to be homemade and very good pistachio ice cream. Okay, Lisa, Here's Maggie's Take on Lad Culture Lad culture is hard to describe. I did a search on the 'net and came up empty handed when it came to a definitive definition. Let's just say that its a sensibility informed by football hooliganism and breasts. I've found that there are different degrees of laddism in the men I've met, and in some it's completely absent. (There's a young man picking his nose beside me. Must wash hands soon!) One friend of a few years now is probably the most lad-like I know. He seems to be pretty much perenially single, rides a bike in competition, and--this is his defining lad-like feature--he is self-effacingly sarcastic most of the time. He's also exceptionally funny, and his put-downs are often what North Americans would consider politically incorrect. I know I should be completely appalled by this. But I'm not. A couple of years ago, while having dinner with this lad and his different-degree-of-laddishness pals, he made a puppet out of his steak. It was incredibly rude *and* hysterically funny. I was charmed. I *was not* drunk, if that's what you're thinking. Friday this lad brought one of his lad-pals, who immediately engaged me in a conversation about breasts in general, and mine somewhat tangentially. The rest of our conversation consisted of implied sex and various body parts. Throughout the whole conversation, he was completely self-effacing, making remarks that he was perhaps not worthy of me and at the same time paying me all kinds of compliments. If I left at any time, he'd look at me with downcast eyes and say, "I'll miss you." This is flirting, lad-style. These guys are not relationship material. These are not life partners. It may even be difficult to be friends with these guys. But flirting with them is dead simple and completely amusing. The sensitive North American male is nice, but I think these sweetly raunchy lads are charming. If only I could breed them together, then I would have the perfect man.


London, Day 3.1 I have an hour to kill before meeting a friend and his girlie for dinner near Covent Garden. This internet cafe is amazing (although annoyingly I keep on picking the keyboard with the bum spacebar. This one works, but it makes the most grating noise when pressed--like a staple gun). It is jam packed. There must be 1000 or more workstations here. You can buy an hour for a pound, or do like me and buy a 7 day pass for a mere £6. There are people from all over the worl here. The man beside me is consulting some site in an Eastern European language I don't understand. Behind me, someone is playing something that looks like Donkey Kong. Another man is gambling online. A woman is purchasing something with her credit card and is holding the card up to the screen to compare numbers. Another man is looking at her do this. Earlier, a man wearing headphones was laughing to himself as he chatted online. I haven't seen anyone checking out porn, though. Not yet, anyway. Other observations: - Everyone here has a cel phone. Everyone. And they talk on them while walking down the road all the time. And they will reveal the most intimate details in the process. "Yeah, I have a really bad day. I was slagged at work all day. Yeah. I'm going for a swim. Uh-huh. Yeah, I'll be in later. Yeah. All right. Bye." - This city is full of people. Exceptionally full of people. More people than New York. More people than San Francisco. More people than Paris. It's full of people. They're everywhere. - Tomorrow I'll try to tell you about English men and what makes them brazenly fun!
London, Day 3 Well, it's raining. The day I decide to check out Portobello Road market, it's raining. I'm hoping it will clear up, but locals indicate that doesn't really happen. So, yesterday, I made it to the British Musuem, which is really close to my hotel. I walked to Russell Square first, to check it out. Sat and read for a bit, and then went for a quick tour of the museum. Antiquities are not my favourite, but they do have the Rosetta stone and a number of fine mummies. Of course, there's the partially reconstructed Parthenon as well. Sat with it for a while as I consulted my guidebook. It's strange for me to see all these disembodied antquities. The remnants of the Parthenon consists of columns and friezes and many, many headless statues. In a museum stting, they seem to be simply disembodied bits of really old things that perhaps should have disappeared instead of being *rescued* from the heathens by the British. Yes, I know my Art history, and I know their importance to our own civilization. I just thought they looked lonely. They needed sunshine and bits of moss growing on them. I wanted to be able to touch them and sit among them. There was a lovely statue of Aprodite reclining on her mum's knee (part of a large frieze--both headless, of course). It would have been nice to join them. Left the British Museum to go to the John Soane Museum. Those wacky, wealthy 19th century Brits! The museum is housed in Soane's house, which is full of more disembodied antiquities. The museum itself spans the three townhouses Soane acquired and every square inch of it is covered in Greek and Roman bits, a Turner painter, some Hogarths (including the very fun Rake's Progress, the story of a lad who squanders his inheritance, marries a one-eyed rich older lady, and ends up in the asylum). On the very top floor, I was accosted by one of those eccentric old security guards who was an amateur scholar on everything Soane. He pulled out a very dogeared notbook full of his own drawings and pictures stuck with yellowing cellotape, and proceeded to enchant me for over 20 minutes with stories of Soane's collection, interests, philosophy (he was a little bit Gothic Revival and a little bit Classical). I then walked to Covent Garden, mostly to go to the Doc Marten department store. I was hoping that they still made those high-heeled Docs, but they don't, so I bought some cute sandals instead. Had a horrendously expensive lunch in a cafe just off Covent Garden (18£!, which is about $40.00--salad, glass of red wine, and an espresso). You can get much cheaper lunches, but I knew I wasn't going to eat for the rest of the day because I was meeting a bunch of people for drinks at a pub--and once I was there, I knew that the best I'd get until closing time (11:30 p.m.) was a packet of peanuts. Softimage has a general discussion list in addition to specific product discussion lists. The general discussion list has been, for many years, a place for people to take the piss out of one an other. I ventured into this group (consisting mostly of clients in and around London) about two years ago. Exchanging barbs with these witty, funny, twisted, and mostly sweet people has been an important part of my working day at Softimage. We gathered at a typical pub in Soho called the Blue Posts and had a great time. Some of the people I already knew, and others I was meeting for the first time. One of our clients, a crazy, tall Spanish programmer, has promised to make me dinner on Wednesday and invite a bunch of listers over. I've promised to meet him at his work and be his little assistant (this guy is big--well over 6' 5", if not taller, and he had to bend over so that I could hear him when he spoke to me). That's all for today. I hope it stops pissing rain. If it doesn't, I'll have to turn this into a museum day. I think I'll go look at contemporary art, though...


London, Day 2 I arrived yesterday morning and, apart from a vague eye infection, I'm fine. The weather is actually incredible--sunny, warm, not humid. The flight with Air Transat was worth the discounted fare I paid. No, they don't give you pillows or blankets (that's for first class). No, there is *no* protein in the *meal* they serve you (I bet first class got some chicken or something). But the pilots are competent (we didn't get lost once) and the plane looked newish. I'm glad I'm a small person, because lack of leg room doesn't really concern me. The lack of pillow made me buy one of these neck pillow things from Muji, a chain that sells fun Japanese things, for the return trip home. Happily, there was no one in the seat beside me, so I contorted myself into all kinds of positions throughout the flight, all of which gave me really sore muscles today. Getting from Gatwick to central London is the easiest thing in the world. You get off the plane and you get on a train. The train takes you to Victoria Station, where you get on the underground, which takes you to your hotel. If your luggage is on wheels, it's like doing the commuter things from the suburbs. And it's cheap! It took me all of 45 minutes to get to my hotel. Aeorports de Montreal, est-ce-que vous ecoutez? While on the Gatwick Express, I struck up a conversation with a young man and his mom. Originally from Columbia, the son was teaching his mom how to use their matching cel phones. He runs a cafe for some guy from Vancouver. They were so sweet: they made sure that I safely navigated through Victoria station to the underground. His mom kissed me goodbye on the cheek. Finding my hotel was not too much hassle, though I did get lost (I really *do* have no sense of direction). An italian delivery man pointed me in the right direction. It's notable that London's immigrants are the ones who lent me a helping hand. My hotel is very small, right opposite the University of London. I think I have the smallest room in all of London. It contains a small single bed. And a floor. It also has it's own bathroom with shower, which actually has more floor space than the room itself. But, if I stick my head out the window, I can see the gardens below, and I hear the birds every morning and every evening. Once I arrived, I took a shower and decided to explore the area around the hotel. I walked down Gower Street (which turns into Bloomsbury), past the British Museum, to Oxford Street. I walked east a little bit, hoping to find something to eat. I found a small Italian Cafe, where some sweet ladies made me a prawn and avocado salad. I ate it outside and it restored my energy level somewhat. I was trying to stave off the jet lag and stay awake for as long as possible. Since I was on Oxford street, I decided to explore it. It's like Montreal's Ste-Catherine Street, with biggish department stores (Selfridges and Marks and Spencers) at one end, and lots of stores leading west. The shops catering to younger women were full of peasant stuff. Poufy blouses, billowy skirts, elastic everywhere. This style was ubiquitous. I think young women will regret their purchases next summer, as they'll look completely dated. One or two pieces, yes. A whole outfit, no, unless you like looking like someone in a 60s period piece dressed by a very bad costume designer. Met quickly with my friend B, who works with Framestore (the people who brought you Walking with Dinosaurs and Dinotopia). We'll be getting together later for a proper English pub crawl. He's warned me about the broken glass. Bought dinner at Marks and Spencers takeaway and ate it picnic style on my bed. I fell asleep at around 8:00 p.m. Woke up this morning at around 6:30 a.m. Waited an hour for breakfast to be served. Was served a large egg, a sausage, two pieces of fried ham. Toast. Instant Coffee. Juice. Enough to keep me going for the day, I think. Off to the British Museum. More tomorrow.


Maggie LondonBound Tomorrow night, I take off for 10 whole days in London (England, that is). While my hotel doesn't actually have telephones in the rooms (I can't afford *those* kinds of hotels, though I do have my own toilet and shower), my kind hotelkeeper has assured me that there's an internet cafe not 5 minutes away, and it's open 24/7, so I fully intend to keep this blog updated. I'll be hooking up with Lisa at some point, and may go to Glasgow and Wales as well. Or, I may stay in London the whole time. I'm on holiday and I can do as I like.


I've been linked! I don't think it's a porn site....


Fortysomething Last month, I attended a conference in San Jose with a number of my colleagues from Softimage. At our company dinner, I sat with one of our marketing people, a beautiful and intelligent 26 year-old woman. For some reason, the question of age came up and I felt compelled to remind the table that I *was*, after all, 42. My beautiful marketing colleague looked at me, surprised, and said "I want to be Maggie when I'm 42." This was, of course, a great compliment, but all I could think to myself was, "When I'm 42, I want to be like you." Age has been a preoccupation of mine these days. If I had a choice, I'd like to stay, physically at least, in my mid-thirties forever. In my mind, there was even a day--a day!!--when I peaked. It was a day in June, 1994, the day of an Elvis Costello concert. I was 34. I felt fabulous and I think I looked it, too. Stupid, huh? I now know a lot about anti-oxidants. I drink green tea. I carefully research skin care claims. I exercise regularly. I dye my hair. I take more vitamins and minerals than my body can probably process effectively. Still, self-love and self-loathing go hand-in-hand. My friend L. (who just turned 50, though you'd never know it) says that you should never lie about your age because it robs you of your experience and wisdom. I don't lie about my age, I just let people guess what it is. When I was 40, people generally guessed that I was in my mid-thirties. That 5-year grace period is still there, but of course, I *do* look older, so I no longer pass for 35 or 36 but someone now closer to 40 than 30. It's a stupid, losing battle. The face doesn't lie. There's only so much you can do stem the inevitable sagging of the flesh. It can be virtually wrinkle-free and shiny-healthy, but still show the effects of gravity. No exercise can *lift* the jowls of the aging face--no matter what those infomercials try to tell you. Only surgery can do that. I guess I'm trying to have my cake and eat it, too. Witness pictures from my 30th and 42nd birthdays. mellow at 30 mellow at 42 I know I'll get used to this new older me. In the meantime, I'm gonna brew me some white tea and find a 23-year old boy to worship my hair.
Find the Kitty Curse you, Dave! hello kitty?


Three Words Sensitivity Affection Willpower


HorrorScopes Update No amazing things happened, no secrets were revealed to others, and I didn't have any revelations. This horoscope stuff is for the birds. Pffft.


Lego Kitty Curse you, Lisa! lego kitty Find your lego inner-self here. Click the apostrophe to add naughty bits to your lego avatar...phun!
Room with a View Again There's another lady whose back garden I can see from my office window. This is not the smoking-and-sweeping lady, but the lady-with-a-labrador retriever-whose-husband-drives-a-huge-brown impala. She's sitting in the sun in her backgarden (always spotless) doing something to vegetables. She's either snapping beans or shelling peas--it's hard to tell from this distance. Who still shells peas?
My HorrorScopes for Today Globe and Mail: Something amazing is about to happen, the kind of thing that has you standing there like a fool with your mouth wide open. Hopefully you will get your wits together quickly because no matter how amazing this event might be it is tailor-made for you to take advantage of. While others are rolling their eyes in fear you will be rubbing your hands in glee. AstroGuide: A few interesting revelations could be coming your way today. There's also a possibility that someone close to you could reveal one of your most personal secrets right now. And you might attract some rather unusual or intense people who have a strong effect on you and who force you to have to examine yourself a little more closely today. Sidney Omarr: You learn what has been happening behind the scenes. Someone lets information ''slip'' during social gathering. Maintain humor, emotional equilibrium. Gemini plays top role. Maybe I should get out of my pyjamas and just find out what all these secrets are that I'm to take advantage of. I'll keep you posted, gentle readers...