blacklilly: (dean you're soooo sexy)
May I point all those in need of inspiration for my birthday to my Amazon wishlist, a link to which you'll find on the left-hand side of this page.  Poetry would be appreciated, and I'd kill for a good book of Guardian crossword puzzles. 

In preparation for my birthday, I got my manager to call up a rock bar in Ginza, where I intend to celebrate the impending increase in numbers.  All was going well until they realized I wasn't Japanese.  "How many foreigners are coming?" they asked sheepishly.  (Millions!  Millions! To drink your beer, ravege your women, and chase out all the other clientele!!!)  Half and half, I confirmed, wondering whether I should take my copious amounts of business elsewhere.  When they asked whose party it was (mine) and who was organising it (me), they started tittering away.  Apparently, it's not the done thing in Japan to organize your own party, but that's all I've ever done for my birthday, and at least it's done right.  I think I may trash their bar just to spite 'em. 

So, anyway.  I should sew up a hole in one of my dresses.  I'm going to see Circe du Soleil (sic) on Sunday afternoon and I should probably look presentable.

Twonnet 1

Jun. 1st, 2009 10:35 am
blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
So, these past two weeks I've been twittering.  In iambic pentameter.  I made a sonnet.  Here it is:

Popcorn slips sequins between my teeth
Budweiser fizzes an ocean rustle.
Will insomnia let me slip beneath
The tide of sleep, and no longer bustle
About, and throw from corners of my head
Images and half-thought shadows that in
Early morning hours fade out to red,
Sun-sick swollen eyelids, force-fed with sin.
4.30am the crows were screaming
Fighting for plums in the nectar-sagged trees.
Sleepless hunger makes toast for the eating,
The rain calls refreshment and sleep for me.
Just got caught in a downpour on my
bike,whilst exercising my old SLR.



Yesterday it seems I was convinced that "SLR" and "my" rhyme.

Anyway, it's all good practice.  Right.  Time to dry my hair.

Boring sex

Apr. 1st, 2009 09:12 am
blacklilly: (Ero ero ero)
I am rather bored of being told about people's sex lives.  Well, one person's in particular.  The only good thing is that every time he tells me this I have amusing thoughts about his "not girlfriend" getting pregnant and him having to stay in the country and trudge away at something he hates, living with a person he seems to hate half the time, and screw the rest of it.  I am also bored of hearing about downloads... Didn't I mention this all in a previous post?  I did.  Anyway, there was no stabbing yesterday, but there may be today.

I am almost out of books again.  My Mum picked up a few poetry collections at a library sale so she's sending me over some of the greats to read - Hughes, Heaney, Larkin, Armitage.  Sometimes she has uncannily good taste in books for a person who doesn't read much.  The problem with living in Tokyo, which isn't half the problem I had living in Nagano, is that one cannot just go to the bookshop.  It involves planning of the budgetry kind, train journeys and other painful forethought.  Going back to "library sales", what the hell are libraries doing getting rid of books like the aforementioned?  One wonders what actually constitutes a library catalogue anymore.  I stopped going to them because they were always bitterly disappointing.  I have no desire to read Barbara Cartland, or rent out CDs of failing opera singers, but I'm pretty sure somebody must, as that's all that ever seems to be available.  Anyway, I think I have a copy of "Heavier than Heaven" at school, and some "Death Note" numbers I've yet to get bored enough to read.

How many times have I mentioned boredom? 

This weekend coming there will be cherry blossom viewing, drinking of beer, and "Watchmen".  Not sure I'm gonna like the latter.  I've heard such mixed reviews...


blacklilly: (Default)
It's gone midnight here. I won't be sleeping anytime soon so I thought I'd post an update. I haven't much time of late for even sitting down. My days are still a blur of chlorinated water, train journeys, bad grammar and the throb of the last few crickets and cicadas.

At the weekends, I've been (in no particular order): going to the beach, eating cake, bellydancing, cooking, watching movies, going to Tsukiji fish market and eating okonomiyaki, drinking beer and watching movies. And reading books.

The books I've particularly been enjoying, and have finally found something for the first time in a few books that has me hooked. I started reading, after a few false starts, Dominic Hibbard's biography of Wilfred Owen, which I bought all the way back in 2003. I'd been waiting to get a set of poems before reading the biography, having decided to leave my copy of his war poems back in England, but compromised and got a set from the internet, though sadly not a full set. the first few chapters were rather dull - family history, characters who seemed to have little importance. However, once Wilfred discovered his poetic ability, started questioning his faith, and ran away to France after was may have been the discovery of some "inappropriate relationship", it all got much more interesting. Most frustrating about his life, is that his brother was very scissor happy with Wilfred's letters and had removed any hint of scandal (i.e. allusions to homosexuality) from them, taking with these "amendments" the details of two major turning points in Wilfred's life.

Having gone into a near panic at the thought of not having any new books to read (and also having a weird Murakami craving), I managed to assuage the thirst for a while by picking up a copy of Robert Graves' "Goodbye To All That". Having encountered him in the Owen biography, and owning a well-thumbed copy of "The Greek Myths" (again, back in England) I picked it up for 500yen in a second-hand book market in the basement of a department store in Shibuya. It's excellent. As a companion to the rather dry facts of the Owen book, Graves' war stories (be they from school or WW1) are often bleakly hilarious. I particularly like one story from Charterhouse where he accuses a master of "kissing" his "boyfriend". I'll quote it here sometime. I hope to locate some Evelyn Waugh next, and maybe some E M Forster.

Speaking of the Greek myths, I was thumbing through old notebooks the other day and found a dream I had written down in which I was visited by Greek, Egyptian and perhaps Norse gods. I'll dig that one out too.

* * *

Anyway, the title of this little entry relates to my moral quandary. I've been vegetarian since the age of 13. Over the years I became more lax and have gone through periods of eating and not-eating fish. I think that was related to a mixture of self-weakness and the desire to acquiesce to the disapproval of various people. I think I also forgot that I had any morals, having become rather misanthropic and introspective.

This week saw National Vegetarian Day in the UK, which tied in nicely with the deliberation I've been having. The question is not about whether I should be vegetarian or not. Unless I was facing starvation, I sincerely doubt I could ever touch meat again. No, it's how much of a vegetarian I should be. I decided after being in Japan for a few weeks, that being a full vegetarian would be impossible without becoming a social leper, so I decided to relent and eat fish whenever a vegetarian alternative was not available. However, I still feel guilty when I eat fish, and the continued guilt is starting to get to me. I also have to constantly field queries from people who think I'm even more of a weirdo than those in Yorkshire do. Why am I vegetarian? Don't I WANT to eat meat? Isn't it unhealthy?

Given that size of my arse, one may have a point with that last one. I blame my love of cheese. Anyway, I'm fed up of saying "I'm vegetarian, but sometime I eat fish". The health thing I do have the facts for - less chance of getting bowel cancer, less chance of getting cancer in general, lower cholesterol, lower rate of heart disease etc etc etc. The thing I always struggle against is the total incomprehension of people when I explain my moral position. Perhaps it's just the way I say it, too many big words like "sentient" and "suffering". In fact, I was arguing with a guy I work with about this yesterday while we were chowing down soba for late lunch. It eventually came round to whether or not I would kill a human being. I do have to admit to having slightly more compassion for animals than humans, who are quite capable of messing things up themselves.

So what to do. In the last few places I've visited for lunch or dinner, I've checked for vegetarian options. In only one place have I found a vegetarian option that wasn't "Ceasar Salad" (which isn't technically vegetarian anyway, is it?) Nowhere else has provided anything I could eat. On the up side, this would reduce my restaurant bills, but it would also reduce my enjoyment of going out, and my desire to even do so. What's the point in going to a food joint and not eating?

Anyway, if anyone has thoughts on this, they'd be welcome.

In rather nice news, I have a free ticket to see Radiohead tomorrow in Saitama. And next week I'm off to Osaka for a weekend of gabba, chip and other electronic related weirdness at the Gocha festival in a wood. Any DJ called Scotch Egg had better be good enough to pull of such an unsavoury name.
blacklilly: (Default)
Yesterday night I read this article on the BBC . Then just as I was falling asleep I got the idea for a poem and thought "Shall I wake up, or see if I remember it in the morning?". I forced myself out of bed. Being unable to source my Moleskine (which was actually where I normally keep it) I scribbled at the base of a poem I'd printed off by Jean Sprackland. Somehow there are toy buses in there. Anyway, I haven't looked at it again today, I'll wait until later. Weird the way things creep into your head when your drifting off to sleep.

Having watched "Sweeney Todd" yesterday it was no surprise to dream about my brother killing people and hiding their bodies from my parents...
blacklilly: (Default)
Last night I wrote 16 lines of iambic pentameter as part of my "Ode" homework. I haven't totted up my score yet but the points system is amusing:

5 points for trochaic or pyrrhic substitutions
2 points for emjambment
2 points for feminine endings

At 11pm last night I worked out that the score for my first line was 19 points. Looking at that now would mean I had to have at least 3 substitutions, an emjambment and a feminine ending. With all those substitutions does it still remain iambic? Hmm, maybe I'll recalculate that one.

Full score later when I work it all out. I have to beat Stephen Fry's 106 points and still have something passable.

Goya

Oct. 8th, 2007 04:28 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
Last night I made Goya Champ and decided it would be great idea to tell you all how to make it. So here we go:


You will need: Eggs, tofu, a goya (also known as Okinawan Cucumber or Bitter Gourd/Melon), oil, soy sauce, mirin or cooking sake.


Cut the goya in half. In the middle are the seeds and a soft pith. Scoop these out with a spoon and then slice. Put in a bowl and add salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes for the bitter juice to come out. Meanwhile, beat your eggs and drain the tofu. Then rinse the goya and immediately squeeze out any excesss juice with your hands.


Chuck the goya in a frying pan with some mirin and cook for a few minutes. Add the tofu and cook a few minutes more. Add the eggs and a dash of soy sauce and push around until it looks cooked.

Stick it on a plate.
Serve with extra soy sauce (it takes the edge off the goya if it's too bitter). I also experimented with a bit of cheese - I don't recommend it. It is, however, pretty good in curries.

Scrummy. Of course, if you don't like bitter stuff than don't go near this. And as for those of you in England - good luck find a goya (try an Indian market)! I'll be sending seeds over to England for my three favourite allotmenteers (Gideon, Dad and Grandad) so see what you can grow in the greenhouse next year.

Goya is alleged to have numerous health-giving properties, including balancing blood sugar (so is a good food source for diabetics), aiding digestion and being chock-full of various vitamins and minerals. How true any of this is I don't know but I certainly don't get after-dinner munchies when I've eaten goya.

In other news, I decided to tranfer to Yokohama, so told the relevant people on Friday. That's it so far. I likely won't hear more about it until December time. Many hours of Japanese this weekend too. I've noticed that my brain has permanently replaced "wow" with "すごい" and "really" with "ほんと”.

I've been reading Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled", a beginners guide to writing poetry. As a formerly prolific poet who is trying to find their way back to the metaphorical "ribbon of moonlight", this is a thoroughly entertaining read. Of course, I am biased: Stephen Fry is Number 1 on my list of fantasy dinner guests. However, if any other writer said they weren't going to let me read on until I had picked up a pencil to mark enjambment and ceasuras, I would ignore them. Not so in this case. I do everything I'm told. I even sit up at night writing iambic pentameters for homework. Tonight I have to work those two end-stopped lines into two lines of enjambed poesy containing 2 ceasurae. Phew.

I'm gasping for a cup of tea and a digestive biscuit. Well, 50% success isn't bad.
blacklilly: (Default)
I`ve been reading Andrew Waterhouse's two collections this week and decided to look up his obituary. Browsing through Google I came across "The Poetry Library", which makes back issues of poetry magazines available on line. To my surprise I`m in there - Issue 8 of Dream Catcher. I think this poem also won an award, though I can`t remember which one, or when.

I haven't read that poem in years so it was a little weird reading old stuff, especially as I'm writing poetry again after what must be nearly four years.
blacklilly: (Default)
I've spent the afternoon and evening working on the story and the poem. The story is finished (for the moment)- clocking in at 1600 words or so, and the poem is in its fourth draft at 20 lines. It's nice to be working on poems again after so long. I like the action of paring them back and back again, like boiling down a sauce until it's thick and glossy. I wouldn't go so far as to say this is glossy, but the analogy is true of the good stuff.

I wanted to write up tales from my holidays, but I've put these two pieces as a priority, so the tales will have to wait. Rather than bore you with a blow by blow account, I'm going to flick through the notes I have, write up some more (I didn't get anywhere near enough chances to write while I was in Tokyo and Kyoto) and then give you the best of, along with a selection of pictures (there are over 100 in total).

I cooked curry yesterday for my new manager and the Japanese teacher at school. It was pumpkin, potato and chickpea curry, which initially hit you with a the sweetness of the pumpkin and then followed up with a good dose of chilli. Until two weeks ago I hadn't had a curry for over six months. I was in the restaurant sweating, and afterwards got a proper curry high. Great it was, and I even had the company of Shizuko (my student from London) too. I'll be doing it all over again in a couple of weeks with one of my current students.

Next week I should get a big load of overtime payment, so I plan on buying a bike (of the foot-powered variety) to go on weekend adventures now the weather has perked up. There have been some very impressive thunderstorms, and it's not even the rainy season, which has me both looking forward to some spectacular lightning shows, and a little concerned at my proximity to the river...

Tremors

Apr. 2nd, 2007 09:25 am
blacklilly: (Default)
I forgot to mention that we had an earthquake last Sunday. Forgot, in that I didn't really notice it. I only found out about it two days later.

Anyway, this was the earthquake itself, and it was felt over here by a lot of people. I, however, was in bed watching "Heroes" and felt only a small tremor. Being so close to the road, I thought it was the vibration from passing traffic and didn't think anymore of it, though I do remember noticing my free-standing mirror quivering and thinking: "That's a big truck".

Further to the post earlier about writing a story, and on the theme of last weekend, I wrote a poem for the first time in about 3 years last Monday. I might post it here when I get the guts.

Shoganai

Feb. 11th, 2007 02:02 pm
blacklilly: (Default)
I just got an email from the magazine I submitted my story to. They didn't want to use it. They quite correctly made the point about a lack of empathy with the characters, something which I was mulling over last week (once it was too late to do anything about it of course). But, unlike the blow I used to feel when my poetry used to get rejected, I don't feel too bruised by it. In fact, I'm glad they pointed out what I was already thinking. I do have another one which is almost ready to fledge so I might send them that one, rework the first and then push it out the nest again.

I'm quite pleased that I got the guts to finally send anything off. It's been about three years since I last had something published, and mostly it had to do with a total meltdown in the self-confidence department. Whilst I was still writing, I didn't really believe that anything I wrote was any good, even when people told me they enjoyed it. Then, the events of last February happened, and I stopped writing completely for a good 4-5 months. Actually getting past the notes scribbled in my notebooks took until October thanks to a rather wonderful psychologist who did an excellent job of shaking me awake and who actually took an interest in why I couldn't write.

Of course, I haven't written poetry since I had an interview with Andrew Motion for the MA in Creative Writing at the UEA. Not quite sure what happened there. I guess that's when I decided to switch from poetry to fiction. Still, the poet's in here somewhere - she's burrowed deep, but I'll find her.
blacklilly: (Default)
How very exciting the next two days are going to be!!

Tomorrow I have a rather short notice interview at The Poetry Book Society in London. I received the invitation to interview yesterday and became so excited/panicked that I left my keys at home and couldn't lock my bike up when I went into town to get my train tickets! The journey I think may be a little hairy time-wise as the interview has now moved forward half an hour leaving me about an hour to get to Wandsworth from Kings Cross! I hope it goes well as I think this job could be exactly what I've been needing - at least it's going to be more interesting that reading about naughty members of the armed forces and photocopying. Should I wear a scarf tomorrow - you know, for the poetic look?

Friday is going to be equally exciting as I have my motorbike CBT in the morning - I'll be learning to ride and going out on the roads for a bit. It means that I'll be able to ride a 125cc, or move onto bigger things after a further test!!

Saturday we're having a party - it was originally going to be a cocktail thing but now it could be more of a shindig than anything - no Breafast at Tiffany's style mayhem - or perhaps so after Hilary and I start on the Absinthe!

What else? The cowboys left the living room in a state and I had to hoover it when I got home. NOT impressed at all. I think they looked a little inbred - maybe they were from Market Weighton...

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