Friday, March 31, 2017

god save the queen

Today got off to a v. inauspicious start - the fire alarm went off at 7:30am, right as I was waking up and debating going back to sleep and skipping the community breakfast. So I stumbled downstairs, and it was a false alarm (probably someone else's shower), but since I was already up and Michelle saw me up, I decided I should probably go to breakfast.

This was a mistake. I should have gotten more sleep instead. I probably should never have kids, since I can't seem to function on less than eight (seven at the least) hours of sleep for more than one night a week. But I showered and made it downstairs by 8:15 to meet for breakfast. It seems that most people made better decisions than I did, since it was only Michelle and this guy Edgar (don't learn his name, he's leaving tomorrow). We went to Bluebird, which I've been to a couple of times before, and it was actually lowkey and lovely, but my energy was already flagging by nine a.m.

But I'd taken my laptop with me, so I abandoned them and stopped at a cute coffeeshop called Wanted Man that I'd been wanting to try. The coffee was good and I got a juice as well - I had a horrific headache for most of the day, and I was hoping the juice would help. It didn't, but I got some writing done, so that was good.

Then I came back here and worked more of the afternoon, when I wasn't nursing my headache or eating lunch. And at four p.m. I took a twenty-minute nap, which I probably should have done at ten a.m. since it went a long way toward restoring me.

Then I threw on real clothes and went to today's exciting adventure - a semi-private tour of Buckingham Palace. I've never been since the palace is usually only open during the summer when the queen is at Balmoral, and I saw this ticket by chance a month ago and bought it. I'm so glad that I did - the tour was only thirty people, and we were guided around for an hour and a half and shown all kinds of wonderful stuff. I'm obviously a suuuuuuuper dork about all of it, both the historical stuff (the guy who collected much of the stuff in the most impressive rooms was George IV, who was better known as the Prince Regent while George III was too mad to rule, and the Regency period is named after him) and the modern stuff (when we stepped into the music room, I immediately knew it was where a bunch of royals had been baptized, because I am crazy).

Anyway, I loved every second of it - picturing both the balls and soirees of Victoria's day and the pomp and ceremony of the present, and all the history in and around the building and its contents. The tour ended with a glass of champagne, which encouraged me to buy a mug in the giftshop (it's no Starbucks mug, but I'll be drinking tea out of it for a long time anyway). No photos were allowed in the palace, so you'll just have to trust me that it was super cool.

When I was done, I took a few pictures outside as the sun was setting, and then I came back to Roam, ordered some thai food (I was starving, so I ate it all), and hung out briefly with some people who were getting ready to go out to the pubs. I, however, am taking the virtuous path and going to bed right now so that I can get lots of glorious sleep before doing lots of glorious work tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

london bridge is falling down

Today was great, except for the fact that I got up too late to get much done in the early morning hours. However, I did get a lot of great stuff done despite that. I wrote for several hours in the late morning/early afternoon, and then I left the house to go to a museum. I'm glad that I prebooked the ticket - I wouldn't have gone today if I hadn't, but it turned out that today was totally gorgeous - the warmest day we've had since I got here, with enough sunshine to start replenishing all the vitamin deficiencies that have caused some surly moods.

My destination was the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which is quite far from here (six miles is an eternity). I decided to take the Thames Clipper there - the ferry down the Thames is about as fast as any other option and faaaaaar more scenic, although it only runs every twenty minutes and so may not be as efficient if you mistime it. But I timed it perfectly, and it was a gorgeous day to take a boat down the Thames, even if I had a few moments where I feared seasickness. But it was #worthit for sure, since I saw all sorts of London landmarks while enjoying the sun.

When I got to the Maritime Museum, I went straight to the special exhibition on Emma Hamilton, who was the infamous mistress of Admiral Nelson. You of course allllll know who Admiral Nelson is - he was the hero of the British Navy (although he became much more of a hero after his death, since it's easier to deify people who die tragically and are no longer able to insult you in real life). He'd lost an arm and an eye in previous naval battles over his long career, and spent many years thwarting Napoleon - he fought the Battle of the Nile against Napoleon way back in 1798, where he destroyed most of Napoleon's hopes of becoming a new Alexander the Great and conquering Egypt before going on to conquer India (I read a lot about this in 'Napoleon in Egypt' several years ago, which I'm sure I waxed lyrically about at the time).

But the exhibit wasn't about Nelson - it was all about Emma, a poor working-class girl who rose to the height of celebrity and infamy in the late 1700s. She became the mistress of Sir William Hamilton, the British ambassador to Naples, after his nephew (the guy she was previously sleeping with) sent her to stay with Hamilton without telling her that he intended for her to become his uncle's mistress instead. Gross. She was furious, of course - but there wasn't much to be done about it, since she was already in Naples when she figured it out.

Whatever happened next, she did seem to eventually fall into genuine love with Hamilton (not the same Hamilton who got shot by Burr, obvi), and they finally married many years later, which was *not done* back then. But she was on her way to respectability...and then she fell for Nelson when he came through Naples. Sir William seemed to be okay with this, as the three of them traveled together to get back to London in ~1802, and she split her time between the men going forward.

But things don't work out well for mistresses. Sir William died, and left her money but not enough for her lifestyle...and then Nelson died at the Battle of Trafalgar, cementing his place in British history and leaving her out to dry. She was barred from attending his funeral, and the British government gave all sorts of honors/money to his estranged wife (whom he hadn't seen in eight years) while giving Emma nothing. She lived for a few more years, increasingly desperate, before dying in poverty in France. you know. You're welcome.

The exhibit was really cool, but I was pretty angry throughout - she was a very intelligent woman (she was fluent in French and Italian within a year of reaching Naples) who had the misfortune of being born poor in a time when women had very few rights, and she suffered all the consequences of the Nelson affair while he became the hero of his age. Ugh.

Anyway, to wrap this up, I then did a speed tour through a couple of other sections of the museum (which I've seen before), then left when they closed at five. At that point I was starving, so I went to a nearby restaurant and had a steak and a glass of wine while writing in my journal and contemplating the things I'd seen. Then I took trains and tubes back to my neighborhood, and when I got here I did some solid writing for a couple of hours (when not talking to [censored]).

And now I need to sleep so that I can repeat these feats of writing and cultural exploration tomorrow - goodnight!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

when you play me you play yourself

I'm still recovering from my overly-long trip to Lincoln, but today was pretty good despite that...although I didn't get up until after ten, which was perhaps excessive. But I got some good writing in, and I went grocery shopping, and I did some more writing, and I had some breakthroughs, etc., etc.

I should have kept working all night, but I made the mistake of going down for community dinner - and then I stayed at community dinner for five hours because #fomo (and #wine). It started off low-key and I ate a lot of halloumi (it was Greek night and I don't think halloumi is Greek, but I like it anyway), but then things went off the rails and I ended up watching Strong Michael mimic kicking someone's beating heart on the floor, which seems like a good way to end a night. I also tentatively said goodbye to Mari the Japanese viola player (saying goodbye is still the worst), told some guy I don't like all that much that he knew nothing because he mistook the Queen for the Queen Mother (how dare he?! commoner.),  and exchanged many knowing looks with Amanda, who is still in the first blush of youth (she was a freshman at Boston U during the Boston Marathon bombing, if that tells you anything), but who seems to find all the same things ridiculous.

So it was all delightful, but I need to sleep so I can write and go to museums tomorrow.

Also, side note, while hashtagging above, I accidentally discovered that the @ symbol can tag someone on Google+ (remember that product?). So I'm tagging +Vidya Chander to see what happens. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

all the castles in the sky

I had a really long day - it was great and I saw some cool stuff, but I'm totally wiped out. I made a day trip to Lincoln today - it was one of the most important cities in England a thousand or so years ago, but it's faded in prominence quite a bit since then. However, it's home to one of the best-preserved Gothic cathedrals, which was the tallest building in the world for at least a couple of hundred years. It also has a castle, and since I like castles and cathedrals and am also looking for ideas for my young adult book (which I'm planning to get back to asap), I decided to take a day out and explore it.

So I got up early, went to Kings Cross, and caught a train to Lincoln. This was all uneventful, and I wrote some on the train (I took my laptop with me to facilitate this, which means I had to drag it around with me all day - which was a lot of dragging, since fitbit says I took 20000+ steps and climbed 45+ flights of stairs). When I got to Lincoln, I had breakfast before climbing up an appropriately named street called Steep Hill (it is v. steep; also, people weren't always all that creative).

My first stop was the castle. There's a pretty extensive exhibit on Victorian prisons, since part of the castle was turned into a prison at some point - I could write a lot about this, since I actually know some stuff about Victorian prisons, but I'm too tired to write it up right now. The exhibit was interesting, though.

They also have one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta - the Bishop of Lincoln was one of the signatories, and he brought his copy back with him in 1215 and the cathedral held onto it ever since. It's now loaned to the castle, since the castle has a special subterranean vault specifically for the Magna Carta (plus the Charter of the Forest, which was signed in 1217; Lincoln is the only place in the world that has both). So it was pretty cool to see that, especially since I was basically the only person in the vault - I've seen one at the British Library before, and also seen a slightly later copy in DC, and in both cases the crowds were insane. Being almost alone with it was nearly goosebump-inducing.

Then I walked around the medieval wall surrounding the castle grounds. Then I went to the cathedral, which was astonishing - and it helped that it was also mostly empty, unlike similarly impressive cathedrals like Notre Dame. Then I had an amazing gluten free tea in one of the shops below the castle, which made me happy.

But the day went a little downhill from there. I was ready to leave town by four, but my train wasn't until 6:15, so I killed time at a bookstore (and bought a book). But then my train was delayed by half an hour, so I missed my connection to London, so I didn't get back to London until nine. By then I was starving, so I had a late dinner in St Pancras and wrote for an hour while I sat there just so I could get some more stuff done - which means I didn't get back to my hotel until after eleven.

So now it's time to sleep, dream of castles, and hope that I'm recovered so I can write a lot tomorrow - goodnight!

Monday, March 27, 2017

you look as good as the day i met you

I have to go to sleep immediately - I'm going on a day trip tomorrow to look at some medieval shit and daydream about gargoyles when I should be finishing this stupid book. But today was good - I put in some serious work on the stupid book, which made me v. satisfied. So satisfied, in fact, that I felt giddy and had to take a break, so I met up with a visiting friend for dinner and a lot of wine in Soho.

The friend was one of the Roshni Patels from Ritu's wedding - in fact, I wasn't *entirely* sure which Roshni I was meeting, since one Roshni on Facebook has a highly stylized photo that could be anyone, and the other has a photo of a dog. However, I was pretty sure it was Iowa Roshni, and this proved to be true. She's in town for a long girls' weekend, and she and one of the other girls met me for dinner at Balans Soho Society. We had two bottles of wine and a lot of food and a lot of laughter, and it was all highly entertaining.

But now I must sleep, since I need to wake up in 6.5 hours to catch my train to an undisclosed location (the location is Lincoln, England, which is basically the same as undisclosed since no one's heard of it, but it has some medieval stuff that I'm excited to see). Goodnight!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

everything that rises

No blog tonight - I did nothing at all of note today. I didn't leave the house, and I mostly worked, looked at airbnbs, looked at/booked train tickets, and also looked at plane tickets and calendars. I also called my parents, and then I wrote some more.

So, since I was so boring today, there's nothing to say, and a lot of incentive to go to sleep so I can have a more interesting day tomorrow. Goodnight!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

don't love me

Given that I didn't go to bed until after two last night, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I slept until 10:30. When I woke up, I didn't really want to see people or eat anything, so I made a cup of tea in my room and started rereading my book to work on heavy edits. I was blissfully reading for about an hour, thinking maybe I should just stay in bed all day, when I accidentally spilled my tea in my bed (first time I've ever done that, after years of precarious habits).

So, that put a damper on my lazy day. I stripped the sheets quickly to dry off the mattress protector before the tea could seep through, then took a shower since I was covered in tea as well. At that point I was starting to get hungry, so I went downstairs, made some eggs and toast, and then made some coffee and worked most of the afternoon. This mostly involved reading/editing, along with some desultory chats with Philippa (the film/book agent who I really like a lot).

But around 4:30 I was beginning to think that fresh air would help, so I went outside, wandered around the neighborhood, found an organic grocery store I didn't know about, and stocked up on some stuff. Then I came back, threw it in the fridge, and ordered Thai food instead of cooking. I then spent some time talking to Penny (whom I've mentioned before) and some new guy whose name I don't remember (let's call him Mansplainer...although that's a little harsh, since he was also entertaining). We got into a rather deep conversation about feminism and romance novels, with some delightful (for me to watch) subtext involving Penny and the guy flirting with each other, so that was all fun.

But I abandoned them to their flirtations, came upstairs, and read the rest of what I wanted to get through tonight. I also answered some emails and used some eye mask product under my eyes - on this trip I've gotten repeated astonished comments about my age and how I don't look thirty-five (enough comments that I don't think it's a fluke), and I want to keep it that way. But sleep is probably the better option for revitalizing my face - goodnight!

Friday, March 24, 2017

i know i could stay here all night

Blog is v. v. late tonight (it's 2am in London town) because I had a v. v. fancy dinner with the original Jen Lui. But first, I had to survive my day, which started entirely too early - I had stupidly agreed to go to the community breakfast at 8am, which means I woke up at 7:45am feeling like death and threw on some pants and some mascara in an attempt to look human.

Breakfast was at the Ivy Chelsea Garden, which was entirely delightful. I got the least instagrammable thing on the menu which was some scrambled eggs on top of smoked salmon, but it was the dish that made my heart and stomach happy, so #noregrets. And the community aspect was fun, although I am really not fit company for anyone until I've had caffeine and at least an hour to wake up, so I was perhaps a little too 'real' (or as Penny the Australian documentary filmmaker said at some point, very casually, "You're a hard woman and I like it"...which I think was a compliment, but also could have meant I went too aggressive with the snark. Ymmv.).

Then we came back here, and I worked most of the day with limited actual results but lots of mental exercise. I also took a nap in deference to my tiredness, had some peanut butter toast for lunch while talking to Strong Michael (the Irish personal trainer, who also commented that my claws had come out...perhaps I should ponder all of this tomorrow, although in this case it was definitely a joke), and talked to [censored] for quite awhile, since we were overdue for a catch-up.

And then I showered, made myself more presentable, and went to St Pancras to meet up with Jen before dinner. I was running slightly late, and then she was dealing with work stuff, so we didn't have time to go to a bar before dinner (a 9pm reservation!), but this was probably for the best. We went to the Clove Club, which is as fancy as our usual fanciness (probably fancier, since this restaurant was just named the best in the UK). We started off with a cocktail while waiting for our table, but we didn't have to wait long (we were early, in their defense)...

...and then we ate for well over two hours. Jen had apparently booked the seven course tasting menu, which was pretty spectacular - we decided to split a wine pairing, which means they gave us each a half pour of the wines for all seven courses, which was perfect since neither of us wanted to get drunk (which we certainly would have if we'd had seven glasses of wine each). The wines were all delightful, the food was universally excellent (although my favorite may have been one of the chicken tenders to start, even though it was entirely too posh and presented on top of a bed of fresh evergreen branches), and they gave us a bit of madeira that was laid down in 1908 and kept in a barrel for eighty years before being bottled...

And now I'm dreaming of other stories and other worlds, and a restaurant mostly staffed by ghosts, since many of the servers seemed to be from another time and place.

But we ended the night without them realizing that I was writing a book about them in my head - instead, one of the waiters ended up finding out that I write romance novels, and then he told the bartender, and they all thought that 'Taking the Earl' is a hilarious title, and they wanted me to send them a postcard from Venice. Yes, this is how I roll.

Then Jen and I took an uber to her hotel, and we parted ways after a wonderful evening/week, and then I continued on to my hotel, where I needed a nap before I could contemplate the thought of washing my face and writing the blog. And now I need to sleep - goodnight!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

i really want to come kick it with you

From a productivity standpoint, today was kind of a mess - I crossed a whole bunch of things off my to-do list that I'd been neglecting from a business standpoint, but I didn't get as much writing work done as I'd hoped (yes, you've heard this story before).

But I stopped working at six to take a shower and meet up with Jen for dinner. We're also meeting tomorrow night, but she invited me to have dinner with her and an old coworker of hers tonight - and the entire reason we all said yes was because the friend is a member of Soho House (a private members club with branches in a bunch of cities). This is exactly the kind of place I would be a member of if I a) had a sponsor and b) spent enough time in cities where they're located (and c) wanted to spend the money). It wasn't over the top fancy, but the vibe was nice and I liked the decor and the food, so I was v. pleased with all of it.

However, when Jen and I met up, we were early, so we grabbed a quick drink down the street (note: cheap prosecco out of a mini bottle is an odd way to prep for dinner, but hey, it was fun). Then we had dinner with her friend, who I really liked - she was entertaining and just ridiculous enough even though she was really tired, so we had a good time. And their gluten free pasta was top notch, which made me happy (too happy, since I ate all of it and was stuffed).

Then we parted ways, and Jen and I took an uber back to her hotel, where we wandered around and took pictures - it turns out the grand staircase there has featured in both a Spice Girls video and the recent Taylor Swift/Zayn Malik video, so of course we had to see it. And we went to Kings Cross (next door) and took a photo at Platform 9 and 3/4 (apparently it's packed with tourists during the day, and there's a line and they charge you to take photos, but at 11pm we had it all to ourselves). And then we parted ways, I took the tube back to my hotel, and now I'm desperate for sleep. Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

as it you pass it off so cavalier

In case you didn't already assume this, I'm safe in London - it was raining and so I didn't go out today, and even if I had, I probably wouldn't have been at Westminster at exactly the wrong moment. You never know, of course - I spent the morning figuring out part of my schedule for the rest of my time here, and Westminster Abbey (not the Palace of Westminster, which is where the attack was) is on my list. But luckily most of the things I want to see are quite esoteric, and I doubt that anyone is all too keen on attacking the Museum of London (not the main museum - the one about shipping in the Docklands area).

In other words, keep calm and carry on.

I spent most of the day thinking about the story and rearranging puzzle pieces to try to make it coherent. This is of course making me think that maybe I never want to write historical romance again - and while that may be true, I need to also consider that once I'm done with this book and am not in a place of such self-inflicted suffering.

I also took a break to call my parents - it's their anniversary (happy anniversary!), so I broke our usual routine and called them on a Wednesday. They have been together for thirty-seven years despite my dad's unusually high percentage of Neanderthal DNA (this isn't intended as an insult; he told me it was true based on his 23andMe results), and hopefully they have many more good years ahead of them.

And then I stopped working altogether to help Michelle get ready for community dinner (including picking up some gluten free + vegan carrot cake for Penny's birthday - she's vegan, and this carrot cake was somehow amazing despite being vegan, since the cashew cream they used for the frosting was on point), and then I ate community dinner, and then I drank a lot of wine and told a lot of jokes. And I also answered pings/texts/FB messages confirming that I'm alive, so that was fun.

Now, though, I need to sleep - I had another piece of the puzzle fall into place in a blinding moment of clarity (can clarity be blinding?) when I came back to my room tonight, and I furiously took notes so that I could capture the piece before I lost it. Hopefully that means tomorrow goes more smoothly - goodnight!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

but it ain't nothing new

Today was kind of a mess - I woke up with all sorts of good intentions, but I got derailed pretty quickly by all the nervous energy that surrounds the day when RITA/Golden Heart finalists are announced. Sadly I didn't final, and I disliked one of the books that finaled in my category when I read it last year -- but it took until 7pm in London to be absolutely sure that I didn't final, which made for a long day.

However, a couple of my friends finaled, so that was exciting. And I had already decided that I would have champagne tonight regardless of what the result was. So at 3pm, when it was clear I would not get anything done beyond the little I'd written in the morning, I walked to Bluebird and had a cheeseburger and fries and a glass of wine, followed by champagne and some writing. That was a decent way to clear my head. I also stopped at Zara on the way home and bought a truly ridiculous sweatshirt (ripped up and covered in paint and metallics), so my retail therapy helped.

And when I say it helped, I mean it - I got back around 7:15, made some tea, answered some emails I'd been neglecting (but not all of them), and then put in another solid hour of writing. That puts me in a much better place for tomorrow, so I'm going to take it as a win. And the sooner I finish this book, the sooner I can do something else, which is becoming my mantra. Goodnight!

Monday, March 20, 2017

this town was meant for passing through

Today was good, but I'm feeling cranky and annoyed at having to spend time with other people - even though I like everyone I currently have to spend time with. I woke up and decided to go downstairs and make tea and breakfast before writing, and this ended up taking over an hour because people were talking and then one girl (Mari) gave an impromptu viola concert (she is v. talented since playing the viola is her job, but it's hard to walk out in the middle of someone performing their heart out, even if they're in their pajamas).

So then I came upstairs and wrote, and I was deeper into the story than I've been in ages, and it was flowing and feeling good...but then I had to stop because I'd agreed to go to a museum with Penny (a documentary filmmaker from Australia). We went to the Science Museum so she could see a small exhibit on a Russian female cosmonaut, and then we walked around some other sections while talking about life and fertility, which was all interesting and grim at the same time.

Then we came back here, and I inadvertently took a nap and wasted time - I think it was actually because I'm at my introvert wall where people are draining my energy, and so even a trip to a museum (which I love) was enough to knock me out. Then I went downstairs to make tea, and I decided to make supper rather than ordering in. What I made was quite tasty - I turned some bacon and a red onion and a jar of pasta sauce into a knock-off version of the spaghetti alla amatriciana that I make at home, and it was really deliciously satisfying. But people came in and harshed my mellow, and it took almost two hours to escape.

So then I came back upstairs and worked, but that also involved rereading my gargoyles book, which I really need to either write or let go of forever. And now I need to sleep - goodnight!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

champagne wishes and caviar dreams

My body is rebelling against all the food and champagne I forced into it today, and the especially cruel double whammy of making it walk for hours in between food/champagne stops. But today was a lovely day in London town. I woke up in time to shower before writing for half an hour in the early morning hours (where 'early' equals '9am'), which was v. necessary. Then I walked over to South Kensington to meet Jen so that I could show her my favorite haunts.

We started with brunch at Muriel's - the wait wasn't bad, and my halloumi and poached eggs (the same dish I had earlier this week) was perfect. Then we ended up going to the V&A Museum quite by accident, where Jen got a v. oddly specific tour from me (and by that I mean that whenever we saw something I knew something about, I told her about it - this mostly means anything between 1790 and 1820). We saw some highly enjoyable fashion stuff, and some delightful furnishings/gold/decorative stuff, and then ended up trapped in an odd assortment of rooms related to theatrical productions that had a lot of creepy costumes and many blocked exits. #donotlike

So we left the museum and stopped by Roam so that Jen could see where I live (verdict: she liked it but we're both glad Google is paying for a hotel for her). Then we wandered up and down Kings Road for a couple of hours, doing some desultory shopping - of course, she's the one who wanted to shop and I'm the one who ended up buying boots. That's the story of my life, so #noregrets.

Then we took the tube one stop to Victoria, and we decided we were both too exhausted to walk for another hour, so I took one for the team and had a glass of champagne (real champagne! veuve clicquot!) so that we could sit at a bar for an hour. We then proceeded to the main event: high tea at the Goring Hotel.

The Goring Hotel, as I'm sure all of you know, is where the Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton) and her family stayed in the days leading up to her wedding back in 2011 (what, you didn't all know that?). It was also a favorite hangout of the Queen Mother, and the current queen still goes there on occasion. More importantly, I'd read that they have one of the best gluten-free high teas in London. So when I found out Jen was coming, I promptly made a reservation - and I have to say that it was spectacular.

My gluten-free tea was just as impressive as hers, which is a rare feat. We had four finger sandwiches - my favorites were the curried chicken salad and the salmon, but the cheese sandwich and the roast beef were lovely too. There were two scones apiece, and they were perfect - both on their own and as a vehicle for delivering as much devonshire cream and jam into my mouth as possible. And the desserts on top were too much - I didn't actually finish mine, since there were five apiece, but the macaroon was great and I adored the chocolate/coffee cake.

We also had two glasses of champagne there (real champagne again), so I was feeling very full and mildly tipsy by the end. We were both basically falling asleep at this point, which made for a low-energy goodbye - but I'll see Jen again this week, either for something impromptu or for the dinner we've reserved for Friday night.

I then came home, took a nap, messed around online because I'm too tired to think, and now need to sleep for real - goodnight!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

that's just how i feel

No blog tonight - I'm beyond exhausted, probably because I had too much wine last night, and then a ton of walking around tonight. The original Jen Lui is in town for work and arrived this afternoon, so I met her at her hotel, and she and another coworker and I walked around Seven Dials for a couple of hours, had a drink, and then had dinner. So, take this as proof of life, but I'm going to bed without adding anything else...goodnight!

Friday, March 17, 2017

cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war

Today was as awesome as yesterday wasn't. I woke up and went straight to community breakfast, where Michelle had made me buckwheat pancakes (buckwheat, unlike wheat, is gluten free, and the pancakes were really tasty). Then, I wrote for a couple of hours - in the middle of the night I had a massive breakthrough on something that had blocked me for months, and I was definitely in the flow. I also met Philippa, who is here for the London Book Fair but hasn't participated in any community activities due to an unfortunate illness...and it was one of those serendipitous business-type encounters that can't be planned, but are still good regardless.

However, I had to slough off early - I had tickets to a 4pm play that lasted six hours, and I was *this close* to skipping it. I'd booked it two months ago, and wasn't all that excited to stop working and go...but I went, and I'm so glad I did because it was one of the best plays I've ever seen in my life. It was called 'Roman Tragedies', and a Dutch theatre troupe combined three Shakespeare plays (Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra) into one six-hour extravaganza. This sounds like it could be miserable. But 1) the acting was *incredible*, 2) the 21st century update was perfect, with lots of newsroom-style footage and clips of Trump, JFK, Mandela, etc., and 3) most importantly, you only had to stay in your seat for the first 20mins and the last 90mins. For the entire rest of the performance, you could either stay in your seat, or you could actually go up on stage, sit on couches or mingle around, order wine from the bars (which were also on the stage), and generally get a crazy intense up-close view of the action (both from watching the actors up close, and also from all the tv screens scattered around the stage).

It was inventive, interesting, thought-provoking, and led to a lot of consideration of fame, media, the news, and human nature. There's so much more I would say about it, but I'm tired and also had three glasses of wine, so I'm going to stop myself here. Suffice it to say that I stayed the full six hours and am so glad I went -- the stories that resonated 2000 years ago are the same stories that resonated for Shakespeare 500 years ago, and they resonate for us now, and there's a power to that that can't be explained (but that I am fascinated by).

And now, after coming home and eating peanut butter toast to make up for the fact that my dinner was a bag of chips and three glasses of wine, I need to sleep - goodnight!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

a case for shame

I need to go to bed immediately. Today was okay, but not great, mostly because I didn't leave the building (in an attempt to focus), but also didn't focus very well. Oops.

But I had some entertaining conversations with Jenn and Michelle, and I ordered some tasty Lebanese food for dinner, and I got some writing done and answered some emails, so it could all be worse. And now I'm going to sleep and aim for better stuff tomorrow - goodnight!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

what'd i miss

Today was really lovely if you ignore the fact that I have a book due very imminently. I woke up at eight, made tea, and read and journaled in bed - it felt kind of like the peace I attained at the silent retreat, and I was in a way better mood today than yesterday because of it. Or maybe I was in a better mood because the sun was out, which is always better.

So because the sun was out, I decided to go for a walk and take advantage of it. I had lunch at Muriel's, which is a brunch-y type place that I've been to a couple of times already - the people watching at the window bar is great, and today's food choice was perfect (grilled halloumi cheese, tomatoes, and poached eggs, with a side of excellent fried potatoes). Then I took the tube to the British Museum. It's free, so I felt no guilt about dipping in and out for an hour. I mostly went down the ancient Europe corridor, and was made sad by a box full of human bones, and started daydreaming about all the people who lived, died, and were buried with objects that are now on display in a way they never, ever could have imagined. I ended up in the Sutton Hoo room, with all the burial horde that was discovered in a ceremonially buried ship, and now I'm dreaming of stories that have nothing to do with the Regency...

...but I have to finish this fucking book first. So I left, and wandered toward Covent Garden - I wanted to walk through Seven Dials, which used to be one of London's most notorious slums. It's got seven streets radiating out from a central circle, with lots of little nooks and alleyways that started out posh back in the 1600s and then quickly degenerated into a nest for thieves and whores. But now it's in the heart of some prime real estate, and the alley I stumbled into was totally gorgeous - if I didn't need to write, I would have spent the rest of the afternoon drinking prosecco in the sun and watching people come and go.

But writing had to get done, so I came back to Roam and worked for a couple of hours. I should have kept working, but I'd already rsvp'd yes to community dinner, which was at Bluebird - which, it turns out, was rather posh. I liked my risotto, although it was so full of garlic that I probably won't be fit company for a day or two. And they comped us some champagne to start since Michelle (the community manager) organized it, so that was a lovely beginning.

But just as we were done, some dude showed up 2.5 hours late, and proceeded to order food, and I was beyond over it, so Jenn and I paid and left the rest of them to babysit him. And now I am going to sleep - I should write more tonight, but sleep is probably the better decision. Goodnight!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

man in the mirror

Today was a fairly shitty day, all in all. It got better towards the end, but I woke up to grey gloom, immediately panicked because I thought I hadn't paid my health insurance bill (I hadn't, but it wasn't due yet, but since I just switched insurers I don't have autopay set up, etc.), and then wasted a lot of time online. Then I took a shower, and the steam set off the building fire alarm - this also happened last week, but last week, the community manager (Michelle) told me that it was a different room responsible and that they'd been smoking in their room. But there's no other explanation why it went off today. It's also annoying since I'm not showering particularly long or hot, but my room is small and I guess the steam does what it wants.

sssanyway. After that I was in a very foul mood, and I pretty much continued to stay there. But the day ended on a slightly brighter note - I ordered in Indian food with Jenn and Michelle, and we ate it in the coworking space while talking to a guy whom they call Strong Michael (he was apparently here before I was and just came back, and when he was here earlier, there was also a smaller Michael). Strong Michael is an Irish fitness coach who's potentially moving to LA, so I dropped some knowledge that I've acquired from Alyssa and thus befriended him immediately (and by that I mean I think he now wants to hook up with Alyssa, but you know, that's how friendships form).

So at least there were some positives today. I also wrote a little bit tonight when I got back to my room. But at this point I'm just going to pull the covers over my head and hope that tomorrow is better. Oddly enough, Jenn and Michelle had the exact same day - so maybe it's something in the air today (that something being lack of sun, perhaps). Goodnight!

Monday, March 13, 2017

your eyes keep on shifting to the boys that don't matter

Today was pretty great, all in all. I totally didn't hold to the plan I'd made for myself for today, mostly because it involved getting up at 6:30am and I instead turned off my alarm and slept until almost nine. Oops.

But I eventually got up, showered, went downstairs, spent some leisurely time making tea in the kitchen while talking to Michelle and Jenn, and eventually got to work. I took a very long break at noon, though, to talk to Sarah (the friend I made in Bali) - we had a video chat for almost two hours, thus confirming that we're more than just summer friends. We're making tentative plans to hang out and work someplace together for a month this summer, which would be awesome - it would give me a chance to go someplace where I don't necessarily know anyone, since I would have some social outlet with her built in. So, we'll see if that happens, but I'm crossing my summer could be quite delightful if some of the things that are currently in the works fall into place.

Then I was going to write some more, but it was a gorgeous day today, so I decided to go for a walk. I ended up going to the Temple Church, which I've been to before; it was the home of the Knights Templar way back in the day, before they were disbanded in the 1300s for heresy (aka getting too rich and powerful), and is now the main chapel of a couple of the Inns of Court. I wasn't planning to go in since I'd been there before, but there was an exhibit on the contribution of various Inns of Court members during World War I (spoiler: a whole bunch of them died, which was true of so much of England). So I went in, and it was all pretty fascinating stuff.

Then I walked back along the Thames for awhile, although I eventually decided that I would be better served by writing my fucking book than I would be by exploring more. So I headed back to my neighborhood, with a stop at lululemon to buy a sweatshirt (I should have brought a hoodie with me, and I'm tired of regretting almost every day that I don't have one) and a stop at a tea shop to buy more loose leaf tea, since I'm drinking tea like a fiend here. Then I went to Good Life and had a cappuccino and a muffin, thinking that would fuel me for writing...

But then I talked to Katie for an hour, which was way better than writing. She'd gone to Mexico for a few days on vacation, so we talked about that + how hard the reentry to work is after a trip to Mexico. After we got off the phone, I messed around online, then went downstairs to reheat last night's Lebanese food for dinner - but the only other person in the kitchen was someone I'm quickly growing to dislike excessively, so I only ate half my dinner since I didn't want to sit around and heat up/eat the other half while she was there. Yes, going to bed hangry is only punishing myself, but you know how I roll.

However, despite that setback, I still managed to get some good writing done tonight to make up for my afternoon break. And now I'm going to sleep, and aim toward making tomorrow fit my intended schedule better - goodnight!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

the rubble or our sins

Nothing to report today. I woke up way too late, made some tea, made some breakfast, made some coffee, and then worked this afternoon. But I was super slothful and barely left the house - I stumbled down the street to buy cream and sugar, but otherwise I holed up and had the hermity kind of Sunday that I secretly (not-so-secretly) love. I also ordered food in, since I couldn't be bothered to cook, but the Lebanese food I ordered was so good that I have #noregrets.

Then I called my parents; my mother was v. excited about Cyclone basketball, and everyone was v. not excited about politics, and so we talked for almost two hours. And now I should sleep - I have grand plans for tomorrow, and none of them can be accomplished if I don't go to bed. Goodnight!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

i'm smiling, she's living, she's golden

I'm sleepy and I inadvertently had more wine than I intended, and while that all ended hours ago, I think I'm going to drink a bunch more water and go to bed. Today was good, though. I spent the morning messing around, cleaning my room, and writing, as most of my mornings are usually spent. Then, in the afternoon I went to the Sir John Soane Museum for a class on making 'jasperware' jewelry.

The Soane Museum is one of my favorite museums in London - it was founded by Sir John Soane, who was a famous architect and major art/antiquities collector. His sole surviving son was a wastrel who disappointed him one too many times, so Soane got an Act of Parliament passed to disinherit his son and leave the house and all its contents to the nation, with the intent that it would be preserved in perpetuity as a museum. This probably sucked for the son, but is great for all of us, since it's an amazing example of an early 1800s townhouse (and v. much more interesting than most of them would have been anyway, since he was an architect and put in lots of clever skylights, mirrors, etc. to brighten things up, and also managed to get the massive stone sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I into his basement by knocking out a wall).

sssanyway. The workshop was in the basement, and there were five of us, along with the two women who worked for the Soane who were leading it. We mixed up plaster and poured them into our first molds, and while those were drying we got a short private(ish) tour of the upstairs. Today was the last day of an exhibit of Robert Adam's documents - he was the most important architect in England in the generation before Soane, and his neoclassical designs had an enormous influence on British design. I really should have gone to see this exhibit separately and spent more time in it, but it's okay that I didn't - the tour was enough to get the highlights. And I got to see bits of the museum that aren't open to the public - namely the place where Soane buried his dog and turned it into something that looked like an abbey ruin so that it would feel like the house was built on top of ruins. Ha.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon painting our creations, with a break to have prosecco. I had more prosecco then I realized, I think, and I drank my last bit quickly since we were out of time...and it hit me when I was sipping a glass of wine at a pub down the street, which was poor timing. But I had a great dinner of short ribs at the Star Tavern (which was started in the 1500s, although the building has been rebuilt). And then I came back here, passed out briefly, woke up, wrote in my journal, and then considered working but instead watched the season finale of last year's Top Chef - I'd watched the entire season while packing my apartment back in December, but with the holidays and everything I never finished it.

And now I need to sleep - I have no plans tomorrow and need to get some serious work done, and sleep will help toward that noble goal. Goodnight!

Friday, March 10, 2017

those little red panties they pass the test

Today was a pretty great day, all in all, even though I had to finally admit that I'm not done with my book and push my preorder date back, which made me sad. Not as sad as it probably should have...which gave me a vague, fleeting feeling of wondering if I really still want to be writing historical romance, since there's a lot of other stuff I'm excited about.

But I sorted everything out and made a plan to finish the book - I'm pretty close, but it's not where I want it to be and I'd rather make it right than publish early and wreck my fanbase. And I made an announcement on Facebook and also solicited reviewers and already got a bunch of replies, so I think it will all be okay in the end.

Still, it's not ideal, and I'm going to have to work pretty steadily to hit my new target. But I'm also in London and need to take advantage of my time here to learn new things and find ideas for my next series, so I took a long break this afternoon to go to the V&A Museum (one of my favorites in the world) and see their temporary exhibit on the history of undergarments. It closes on Sunday, so I bought a ticket earlier in the week to see it today so that I wouldn't put it off until the very end. I'm super glad I went - they had some cool stuff from 1700 to the present, and while I couldn't take photos, I definitely wrote almost four pages of notes from the exhibit. People really aren't all that different through the ages - we all want to feel sexy and well-groomed and fashionable, and we're willing to wear dumb things occasionally to do it (although few things were as dumb as the cage crinolines that made dresses so wide that women would sometimes catch their dresses on fire and burn to death - the Victorian version of 'on fleek' was way riskier).

So, the exhibit was great, and I have more museum plans coming soon. Then I came back to Roam, dropped off my stuff (I bought a book on historical fashion, of course), and went to the department store to buy an electric kettle. This may be dumb, but I've got another month here and there have been many mornings already when I really wanted tea as soon as I woke up but didn't want to go down two flights of stairs and interact with strangers to do it. So I bought the cheapest kettle they had, which also happens to be dual-voltage so I can take it back to the US if I want.

Then I ran a couple more errands, came back to Roam again, and ordered Thai because I was starving and couldn't be bothered to cook. The Thai delivery was pretty tasty, and I ate while talking to Michelle (the community manager) since we were both staying in tonight. Then I came upstairs and messed around online and dealt with email, more preorder stuff, etc.

But that's all I have to say - tomorrow I need to write in the morning, because I have museum plans in the afternoon. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

i want to know, have you ever seen the rain

I'm beginning to sound like a broken record - you may be able to guess that today I mostly hung around the house and wrote. However, I also did laundry, and I took a break to have a cappuccino and a gluten free blueberry muffin at my favorite cafe (which happens to also be the closest cafe, but the fact that it has great coffee and mostly gluten free baked goods makes it a total winner). I spent a bit of time writing in my journal there, and it was pretty winning. Then I came back and worked until 6:30 or so.

But eventually I took a break to make tea and say goodbye to Dane (people leave all the time in this world; I also said goodbye to Malika today, but then replaced her with Nicole, because #lawofconservationoffriends). Then I had a tiny amount of whisky with Nicole and Sadek (Sadek rolled in with a bottle of Johnnie Walker gold label), and then eight of us went for a late dinner at a place called Big Easy, which pretends to be American. I had the lobster special, which was a 1lb lobster, fries, and a slushie alcoholic lemonade for £20. The place was entertaining, but we were seated literally two feet from the band (I couldn't push my chair back because it was up against the 'stage', which was an alcove the size of a closet), which defeated some attempts at conversation.

We got back around 10:30, and I procrastinated online until now, but I believe sleep is calling. Don't worry, though - my calendar is getting more interesting as I start to plan stuff, so these posts should get a bit more engaging (don't hold your breath, though). Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

number one chick when i step out on the scene

Today was supremely boring for you - I spent most of it working, which is, I suppose, what I should be doing. I took a break in the late afternoon to go to a grocery store and buy stuff to make a salad for tonight's community dinner - and I found black beans, so I think I'll make chili at some point this weekend. Then I came back and worked for a couple more hours, and I really didn't want to take a break to go to the community dinner...but I did anyway.

I'm finding that I'm not really gelling as quickly here as I did in Bali. It's not exactly a bad thing, but it feels a little strange. I think part of it may be that I'm in hardcore finish-the-book mode right now, and as those of you who've seen me in finish-the-book mode know, I'm not always capable of verbalizing things because I'm using all my words on the page. This makes small talk with strangers really tough and unappealing. So, this is a good lesson for the future: if I can plan out my deadlines more carefully/farther in advance, I should plan for the last two weeks of a book to happen when I'm somewhere either alone, or with someone who understands my energy.

But that's not to say I'm not making friends. I had fun at the community dinner, and then a bunch of us sat around and played Cards Against Humanity (the UK version, which has different cards!). I came close to winning, but Malika came from behind at the last minute. Then I came upstairs, and now I really need to sleep - goodnight!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

a fresh poison each week

It's definitely time for bed - my eyes are bleary from looking at screens too much today, and my feet are a little achy from walking a lot. And, I talked to my mother today (unusually, since it's the middle of the week) - there was a tornado in Seymour last night, which I found out about from [censored]. Seymour is a nearby town where we usually go for steak when I'm home, since it has one of the only restaurants in the county. [censored] sent me some drone footage, and the tornado took the roof off their school gym and damaged a bunch of houses. It sounds like no one was killed, but the town is still without power, and that's a lot of damage for a tiny community to recover from.

The cemetery, though, took a direct hit. My sister went over to the cemetery today to scope things out - her first husband is buried there, as are my mom's parents and several other relatives on my mom's side. And it sounds like my grandparents' stone was knocked off its base. So, that's rather unwelcome news - hopefully they'll be able to do some cemetery repairs, since I would guess that my grandparents' stone wasn't the only one damaged.

Anyway. I'm of course living the dream in London and feeling mildly to moderately guilty about being here and not in the US to help with everything currently going on. But today should incite no jealousy - I spent the morning working, and then I walked to Whole Foods, which was good for exercise (I walked in Hyde Park, which is a big feature in a lot of romance novels), but super frustrating because I was looking for corn tortillas and they, like everyone else in Britain, don't carry them. Then I came home (after a delightful twenty minutes looking at new journals in a department store in Sloane Square - and realizing that this is the first real, bona fide department store I've been in in a long time, since they have all the Bloomingdale's-type stuff (clothes, fancy cosmetics, some housewares), but also departments like stationery/journals/cards, toys and games, and even a crafting section with yarn and cloth and knitting needles).

And then I spent the whole evening finishing my last RITA book - scores were due today, so I had to finish judging even though I wanted to be writing. Now, I need to sleep and hope my eyes recover for tomorrow's slog - goodnight!

Monday, March 06, 2017

offer me that deathless death

I was falling asleep moments ago, so I need to get this posted and go to bed. Today was a pretty good day for a Monday (which somehow still resonates even though I haven't had a day job that required distinguishing between weekdays and weekends in a long time). I got up, ate some cereal, worked, ate some eggs for lunch, worked some more, took a quick nap, went down the street to get a coffee to wake myself up, and worked some more.

But at 4:30ish I stopped and took the tube to the King's Cross/St Pancras area, which is home to the British Library. First, I bought a dress (Jen is coming to visit in a couple of weeks and we've booked a couple of fancy ladies' engagements, and I suddenly panicked that maybe I should have something nicer than what I've been traveling with for the last two months). Then I went to a pub called Somerstown Coffee House - it's super comfy inside, but the real draw was that I discovered, quite by accident, that they have gluten free fish and chips. Since I love fish and chips and can't usually have them anymore, I went for that, and they were delightful.

Then I went to the British Library - the real reason I went to that part of town was because I'd bought a ticket to a talk about mesmerism (hypnotism) called 'Science vs. Superstition in the Victorian Era'. I'm idly begin to look for an idea for my next series, and it might have something to do with science, so even though 1837 is a little past my time, I thought this would be interesting. And it was interesting - I'm glad I went, even if part of me was thinking about my massive to-do list rather than the equally important long-term work of learning new things...

Then I took the tube home and strolled through the darkened streets around Sloane Square while falling even more in love with London than I already was. And now I'm desperate for sleep, so I'm going to indulge - goodnight!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

breathe in breathe out

No blog tonight - it was my first day without a nap, and I got up at six, and I spent the whole day either working diligently or talking to people, so I'm wiped out. Goodnight!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

let me ride that donkey

As you might have expected, I spent part of today paying the wages of last night's sins. I wasn't hungover, but I was really tired - going to bed at three, when I've been jetlagged and going to bed at nine or ten, was v. unwelcome (although the night was fun). So I got up at ten-ish, sluggishly got ready, and decided to have breakfast/brunch at Muriel's since I needed potatoes to revive me. When I got there, I got lucky and scored a bar seat in the window, which was perfect for people-watching and drinking coffee and reading for awhile. Sadly, the omelette I got was too dry (I should've gotten poached eggs with something), but the potatoes there are on point, so it was definitely an overall winner.

Then I came back to Roam and worked sporadically for the rest of the day - I made some valiant attempts, but I was having trouble focusing. But I also did some planning for the week, and I took a break to get a cappuccino and some banana bread - the nearest coffee shop happens to have both excellent coffee and a wide assortment of gluten free baked goods. This is dangerous, since I'm usually not tempted by baked goods (because of the gluten) and so kicked my muffin and scone habit years ago, but this could get me back into a full-fledged addiction in no time.

At some point around six p.m. I took a nap, which was probably ill-advised. And then I avoided leaving my room so that I wouldn't run into any of the people who were going out, since I didn't want to be tempted. I also did some more writing tonight, which was good - but now I'm out of words and out of steam, and so I'm going to go to bed early and hope I wake up tomorrow with a clear head. Goodnight!

Friday, March 03, 2017

i found someone to carry me home tonight

So much for not making friends. I had a pretty productive day today, and was mostly happy with what I got done, even though I got up a little later than I had been getting up (maybe the jetlag is wearing off). I also took a break to give twenty minutes of my time to someone who's doing a dissertation on coliving spaces, so she filmed an interview with me. And I walked down the street and got a cappuccino and a gluten free blueberry muffin, and that all made me v. happy.

But at 5:30 or 6 I went downstairs to make tea and consider what to do about the book, and I started talking to some people, and that turned into dinner at a Lebanese place with Jenn (who has worked for the Kardashians as a social media person), Jenn's friend Marianne (who is like 10-12 years younger than us and whom she met in Paris at some random meetup), Malika, Georgi, and Genevieve (Georgi and Genevieve just showed up for the weekend, and they seem super fun; Malika is also really cool). The food was excellent, but the service was slow, so we were there for over two hours - but it was all vastly entertaining.

Then we came back and went to the kitchen and merged with another party, and I opened a bottle of wine to share with Malika (the Lebanese place was dry, so my first drink was at ten p.m.), and I ended up going with Malika, another Sara, Johan, and Dane until after two a.m. But I had to go to bed before them - I usually try to hang until the bitter end, but I need to sleep so that I can get some work done tomorrow. This was already waaaaay later than I planned to stay up - I'd turned down plans with Gemma (from Bali, who lives in London) because I didn't want to stay up late tonight, but I of course screwed that vow up. Goodnight!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

empire state of mind

No blog tonight...I'm deep in the story and so have nothing interesting to report. I did, however, take a break to enjoy the first truly sunny day since I got here, and I walked to Hyde Park Corner (home of the Wellington memorial, among other things). And I got a steak (the first steak I've had in almost eight weeks, I think) and a glass of wine at a pub - but 'pub' doesn't make it sound nearly as posh as it ended up being. It felt like an underused pub when I got there at five, but by the time I left at 6:15, the bar area was packed and there were lots of men in suits loitering around outside with their drinks.

But that's all you get - I spent the rest of the day working, occasionally procrastinating, and having a lunch break with some people here (which led to me talking about tech issues with two of the company founders, which is always interesting). And now I must sleep - goodnight!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

love like a sunset

I'm too tired to blog - I've been getting up at five a.m., and while that's highly unusual for me, I'm going to keep the trend going while I can because I'm being pretty productive in the mornings. Today was full of slogging - I wrote, wrote some more, and then took a lunch break to have lunch at an Italian place in South Kensington and then mail a letter to the US. Then I came back, slogged some more, took a nap (but only thirty minutes this time), and then had a v. long conversation with Lauren (aka Subz).

At that point, I was already an hour late for the community dinner, which I had fully intended to go to - well, fully intended to go to at two p.m., when I bought a bottle of wine for it on the way back from the post office. By 5:45pm, right before calling Lauren, I knew there was a chance I would bail, so I quickly made some tea and made a sandwich that I stored in the mini-fridge in my room. And that saved my life, since I ate the sandwich instead of going down to talk to people. And now I'm going to continue my hermitville and go to sleep - goodnight!