Saturday, 30 June 2018

June 2018

Oh JUNE! The sun's out! I'm having a lovely time!

So, I really like Instagram. There, I said it. I'm not ashamed. Maybe at some point it will turn toxic as seems to be the inevitable fate of any successful social network (I mean maybe? I still love Twitter too though), but right now, Instagram still feels like a super positive place... Not the kind of fake positive that it's often accused of, although there's no doubt that I curate an optimistic vision of my life there to an extent... But for me, and the people I follow, it just feels like a place that avoids the political heaviness of Twitter and the vacuous nothingness of Facebook and gets to the heart of where we are and what we're doing, and genuinely helps me feel closer to friends in far flung places through good stuff and bad stuff and all the interesting stuff that sits somewhere in between. I was walking with Charlie up near Heptonstall (looking at my phone, obviously, why would I be looking at the same view I've seen hundreds of times, or nature, ha, nope) and saw a picture posted from a friend passing through a small town in South Africa, of a beautiful cerulean blue sky and whitewashed walls through a window. I sent back a picture of the scenery I was seeing at that precise moment, to say hi. It's just MAGIC that we can have these views into each others lives. Maybe I'm sentimental, but I am constantly appreciating it. (And I love your instagram stories)

Just idly speculating about what it would be like if there were just suddenly LOADS OF NEW VEGETABLES

I hate DIY, and I suck at it. The new house needs things doing it and I’ve basically resigned myself to the fact that if Alex/Justin/other kindly friends won’t do it, and I don’t have enough money to pay someone else to do it once the loft conversation is done, I’m just gonna have to live with things bad, because… I just can’t. Uuuuughhhhh

Some days are just a cacophany of failure.

Alex got lots of treats on their birthday including some river swimming in their super cute new swimming costume, a weird cake by me, an amazing vegan moussaka by Chris, and lots of other lovely people to visit.

I wrote a little bit in my America trip blog about legendary club night Low End Theory, which has been running each Wednesday night for over a decade and has been the home of/launchpad for so much incredible music out of LA... and it was just accounced this month that the founders have decided to bring it to a close with just 10 final nights. I am EMOTIONAL about this, just feeling so ridiculously lucky that I got to get there once before it ended (JUST in time as well, if I'd waited even another few months I'd have missed my chance), and also LONGING to be back in LA for one of these last few shows (not gonna happen, obvs)

The eternal question. (The answer obviously being: doggo)

Feeling this way a lot at the moment. But mostly it's a good thing I think...?

Never let it be said that me and Alex don't know how to treat ourselves to a romantic hot date (to the post office, Network Rail consultation meeting, and then rounded off with a handful of weird treats from Nisa and a little wander along the canal before putting Alex on a train to go play some boardgames)
(Honestly though this was all very lovely)

Got a skip! And a lot of my new house is in it! (Having earlier said I hate DIY, any DIY has basically been on hold for most of this month as actual professional builders are in there right now gutting and renovating the attic space which is VERY EXCITING and I am mostly just standing back and keeping out the way and letting them get on with it while hoping for the best)

I barely watch any TV or films, but somehow managed to make time that week in particular to watch loads of 'The Good Fight', a surprisingly excellent 'The Good Wife' spin off with Alex (and Charlie)

Hair is very long as this point but I'm kind of intrigued by just how long I can get it before it either just... stops, or I get too annoyed with it, so I persist.

This is not a very good drawing but, as it says, I LOVE LONDON. The weird thing I wasn't prepared for with Hebden Bridge is that it actually doesn't feel nearly as far from London as I thought it might when I moved here. It's like 45 minutes to Leeds and then 2 hours 15 minutes from Leeds to Kings Cross. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but I do the Leeds train so often that it usually kind of flies by without me even noticing, and then the Leeds to London train is, 99% of the time, one of the chillest train journeys possible — I have a specific seat that I like which I almost invariably get all to myself, it has a plug socket and there's no one sat opposite, and it's just CHILLLL, like a rare time when I just take some headspace for myself and relax. So yeah, I like going to London, it's fast and easy and surprisingly affordable if you book in advance.

Anyway, basically I decided to go down to London just overnight, for various reasons, to see/meet friends, and on a whim, decided to swing by one of my favourite old uni friends Lucy's open studios night where she makes her beautiful marbled notebooks as Marmor Paperie (go buy her lovely things). It was so wonderful to see her actual studio and have a catch up!

Also had a lovely time staying with Zoe and Dan and eating delicious vegan pizza, and just generally being in London, in the summer, in the warm, with friends.

The next day, me and Zoe went to see the University of Brighton's Graphic Design and Illustration degree show in London. (I graduated from there, uh, EIGHT YEARS AGO how did THAT happen). There's always the degree show in Brighton at the uni itself, but then every year there's always also one up in London (funded and organised with great stress by the students themselves), as we were told we needed to do that in order to get a job (LOL that went well for me then). Anyway, I was super happy to get a chance to see what the cool kids are up to these days. (I was never one of the cool kids)

Joe Armon-Jones was playing an in-store at Rough Trade East close by too, which was just wonderful. I proceeded to also spend too much money on records (including getting his signed by him), and a lovely dress from nearby Collectif in Spitalfields market (I have worn it loads though, so already feeling it was a sensible purchase. Perhaps.)

(In the above bit where I was all smug about how easy and cheap it can be to get down to London, it should also be noted that I always spend way too much whenever I visit, so maybe I shouldn't actually go TOO often.)

Anyway, late afternoon I met up with Alfred who had just landed in London from fun times at Sonar in Barcelona. He was taking a few days out from work and travels to hang out in Yorkshire, so we got the train back north together.

I say a few days out from work... I mean, he still had work to do, and so did I, but for both of us that's work that can be done from afar sometimes. I so very enjoyed listening to him build music while I did my silly drawings. But constructive criticism of people you like... It's a fun game of honesty vs. tact, huh (Luckily he's very good so it's not like I have to be mean. Because I can and will be mean if I have to, even if I really like you)

But anyway, there was time for some scenic strolling too.

I say 'come visit in the summer', and I mean it, because that's when Hebden Bridge is at it's best, and I want visitors to see it like that... But also please come visit in the winter too, because that's when I get sad and need cheering up with fun guests. Basically come visit all year is what I'm saying. We have a lovely guest room, all the boardgames, and the best dog.

Alfred had a show in Manchester on Tuesday, and I love excuses to hang out in Manchester. Ate loads of tasty food, did a good dance, met some lovely people.

I love Rummikub. Alex bought me a beautiful Rummikub set a few years ago, but no one I live with or regularly associate with (including Alex) likes playing it, so on the rare occasions I happen to find someone who does, I am HYPE

On Friday I headed back down to London again and it was A LOT. Alfred had flown to Berlin the previous day for a show, and then back to London for the last show this tour, so we met again for that. The show was at Village Underground which is in some ways a great venue, but in some ways heavy going. The sound system there is almost painful at times (maybe I am just weak), and shows there tend towards very lateness. This tour Alfred was travelling with Panoptes, his new visual show, which you can get an idea of in this video. Setup in Village Underground did not go entirely to plan, but got there in the end, and a little time over to stroll round some vintage shops in Brick Lane and another visit to Rough Trade East (I managed not to buy anything this time though). The show was laaaate, as expected, although an amazing lineup with Kutmah, Jameszoo and Lefto also on the bill, but I suck at late nights. (I mean, I say I suck, I stayed up till 5am with zero alcohol, drugs, caffiene or any other form of stimulants so I guess I did okay...)
After the show finished at 4am, Alfred had a car at 4.30 for a 7am flight from Heathrow, so goodbyes tired and short and rushed, and then strange walk through Shoreditch/Hoxton back to Dan and Zoe's place... The day after solstice, so already light at that hour, strange intermingling of early shift workers starting their days and revellers still on their nights out.

So yeah. I went to bed at 5am, was briskly awoken by my body at around 9 because come on, it's 9, it's time to get up, even on only 4 hours sleep, apparently that's how things are for me now. Because of hilarious fun timing of everything all at once, my friend Reggie was also in town, so we went for some lunch and a stroll through the Barbican (where I took this picture of him which I think is really great:

Then that night, went to his show at the Spiegeltent on the Southbank, and afterwards, yeah, sure, dim sum at 2am with him and loads of other lovely people because what even is this weird life. Ate so much dim sum I felt sick and couldn't face getting into a taxi so stayed out till 4am again, WAHEY! (Maybe I'm going to get really party in my 30s)

Obviously woke up again at like 8 or 9 because that's how my body works these days, and went to lie in the park with Nat and have a cry. Sometimes there's nothing more glorious than lying in the park in the sunshine in one of your favourite cities with one of your favourite people having a good cry because you've barely had any sleep and everything's a bit much but in the best possible way.

Popped in to say hi to Lauren and then hopped on the overground down to George and Wes's place where I got to eat a very nice amount of pizza before getting another train down to Brighton, somehow, not passing out with tiredness.

Brighton Brighton Brighton I STILL LOVE YOU TOO! Delighted to be back in the office for a few days, and wonderful catchup with Hannah and Tristan in the evening. Plus, as is my way when returning, trying to fit in all my favourite foods that I miss — La Choza mexican for lunch then Pizzaface pizza for dinner.

But hey GUESS WHAT, blight of my life since moving North for some reason, another bloody cold. I really don't understand it — I'm healthier in almost every way than I ever have been, but possibly just less exposed to germs than I was when living in the city, so every little thing catches me out. (And sleep deprivation probably didn't help my immune response)

For this one specifically, Justin was to blame — he bought it home, Alfred caught it, and then I caught it from Alfred — so for once it wasn't a public transport cold, but still. It's nice to know the supply chain I guess...

Anyway, delicious bibimbap at Namul's with Zoe for lunch and then v v excited to sample Wagamama's new vegan seitan Katsu curry which was everything I had dreamed and more.

I persist, along the same theme, basically.

And then, back home. Still ill, but sufficient fun had that I'm generally in high spirits regardless.

Continuing to medicate with best foods — Hebden Bridge's new Tibetan kitchen serves exemplary momos, which I am very excited about.

As discussed, visit in the summer. Today, everyone's visiting. The house is full and SO IS MY HEART

Sorry. Gross. I've had a lovely month. I'll stop being so smug soon. July probably won't be as good but that would take a lot I guess.

Friday, 1 June 2018

May 2018

So the first section of my May was documented here in 'Emma's big USA adventure'. I arrived home, did some terrible jetlagged drawings of Eurovision, and then bounced off into the rest of the month from there...

In the three weeks I was away, the cold dark valley I call home exploded into warmth and light and greenery and colour, and it could NOT be more welcome. I assumed it had happened gradually over that period but Alex assured me it actually happened pretty much suddenly in one day even for everyone who was here at the time.

I was incredibly lucky not to really suffer from any jet lag coming back this way. I didn’t sleep at all on the plane on the way home which meant I stayed awake for 24 hours in a way that meant I felt like death precisely when I arrived home, but actually may have been a good move overall. After a really good night’s sleep post Eurovision I was pretty much right as rain. Still, its disconcerting being home after a long time away, and it was so lovely to have some visitors to distract me from all my busy thoughts and distracted brain looking back across the Atlantic, and ground me back here. Always so lovely to catch up with Hazel and Lily! (Proof, though surely it's not needed in this day and age, that making friends on the internet is fun and good)

As well as greenery, so much blossom, and also FINALLY able to wear nice clothes and not then immediately have to cover them up with a massive frumpy fleecy cardigan and three coats like I have been for the last SIX MONTHS. I know I moan a lot about the weather here, so please know that I am appreciating all this warmth and not-rain SO MUCH. I do not take it for granted for a moment.

Three weeks away as a freelancer means a lot of playing catch-up on return. I am so lucky that I have a steady stream of work (pls don’t stop!) and I do now feel like I’m just about back on top of things, but it was a busy while back there.

While I was away we got the keys to our new house (WHAT), this is the house three doors down that my parents bought and which we will commence renting from them come August when we have to be out of our current place. This is amazing because it means we’ve got about three months to 1) spend an obscene amount of money doing the loft conversion and 2) generally spruce up the rest of the place. I so want to be in there sprucing but I HAVE NO TIME AGH
(Also this is a terrible day of visual diary quality-wise but feel captures some of the manic state)

(Also it would really help if I didn't have like 5 personal projects on the go that I'm super excited about working on alongside everything else OH WELL)

This is also a terrible drawing but hey guess what I didn’t have time to do a better one because I was hoovering up nearly a month’s worth of accumulated Charlie hair (which I swear amounts to nearly an entire Charlie).

Okay, so key things to note here: 1) I am FINE, 2) I am not going to run away. But I do have moments of feeling like maybe I'm *not* fine and maybe I *do* want to run away. My trip to America was a gentle testing of these feelings, but has generally proved inconclusive. I was happy to come home, back to Hebden Bridge. I'm excited about our new house and our lives here, and there is much to love. But I fell for LA more than even I had expected to, and when things are hard it's difficult not to daydream about just dropping everything and running.

(Also, I absolutely love Meredith Park's work, she makes the most beautiful autobiographical comics about FEELINGS and metaphors for feelings. Her work is a huge inspiration to me in terms of trying to think of less literal visual ways to express thoughts and emotions, although I have a long way to go to even get close to how evocative and moving her work is.)

But anyway. Sometimes I'm not very good at delegating, or asking for help... And sometimes there's no one to delegate to, or ask for help from. I did manage it though, and it made a huge difference, having help with Charlie and not cooking dinner for just one day freed me up to... well, do loads of other things I'd needed to do, but also just to just have a much-needed quiet sit down.

Loads of my drawings this month have been bad because I've been busy and distracted by other projects so I decided to try really hard at drawing some good flowers to give myself a break. That was nice.

We had a much needed HOUSE MEETING, as Justin was away in Finland for a week, then I was in the US for three weeks, overlapping with Justin being away in Madeira, followed by Alex being away on a couple of work trips, meaning the three of us had barely been in the same room for like 5 or 6 weeks. This is a direct copy of the actual 'agenda' which we drew up. House meetings are a good idea. We're all going to be better at everything. I hope. We didn't manage to agree on paint colours for the new house though...

At the weekend we went over to Wickes and continued to completely fail at agreeing on paint colours. I want all walls throughout the house painted white — the logic being (well, aside from the fact that this is what I've always wanted anyway), we live in a dark valley so light and bright is best, and we've got so much mismatched over-colourful stuff, any more colour would just be terrible. I had assumed this would be non-contentious, but... apparently not.

To cheer us up after our bickerings, our lovely friend Harriet and her mum came to hang out and we ate loads of cake.

For my longtime BFF Naomi's 30th birthday, her sister arranged a surprise visit to see some cool birds of prey. I was like 'whatever sure, I'll come to make Naomi happy' and then on the day got MASSIVELY HYPE for all the birds. (You can see pictures of me getting massively hype here)

A weekend of loads of cake and lovely visitors and birds of prey and DIY left me both really tired and with loads of things to catch up on. But I managed to restrain my natural urges to maximise the productivity of every possible moment of my day by letting myself just… relax. A bit. WEIRD.

Finally got to a long awaited screenprinting project, making some RAINY TEA TOWELS (which you can look at in more detail/buy here). I've had this idea for a while, and I made a zine about it earlier this year. Funnily enough it's summer now and the rain has stopped so I'm thinking about it less, but as you know if you read this blog regularly, it is FREQUENTLY ON MY MIND during Hebden Bridge's 9-month rainy season, so maybe this got it out of my system a little. Maybe.

So... Sorry if this month I've sounded like a bit of a broken record. BUSY BUSY BUSY I keep saying. I guess it's important to note that this is not a complaint. I am so incredibly lucky to have so many exciting projects on the go, so lucky to work with (or just hang out with and be inspired by) loads of incredible people across so many different areas, so lucky to be able to pay the rent (and take myself on ridiculous adventures) by doing what I love and have always dreamt of doing. I have been able to realise that dream even more in the last year or so, since moving to Hebden Bridge, than ever before... And I am at my happiest when I am busy. If I wasn't busy I would be making myself busy. I am not good at down time.

But I am conscious that just at the moment my busyness is meaning that some things I have always prided myself on are sliding. I am not getting enough sleep. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want/need to. I stay up late scribbling at personal projects, wake up early to walk Charlie and spend the rest of my days just trying to squeeze in all of my responsibilities in terms of paid work, cooking, cleaning and other domestic tasks, even more Charlie walking, and maintaining some small semblance of a social life (oh, and trying to DIY like a whole new house into niceness which is completely falling by the wayside, agh!). I am not cooking well. I don't have the time or headspace to shop well or plan meals, which is what I need to do in order to make good food for myself. Both of these things I am very aware of, and both of them I am hoping to be able to make a conscious effort to address, and get back on track with.

But anyway, I'm still running, somehow, despite still bloody hating it. (Alex says they're impressed that I persist given how much I loathe it). It's horrible, but for the first time in my life I'm happy with my figure, and it's a more time-efficient way of exercising Charlie, so I do persist, despite its awfulness. I'm starting to work a little on hills, which I've generally avoided, at least as best you can when living in such a ridiculously hilly place. But I powered through and ran all the way up to Heptonstall today (grindingly slowly), which if you know that hill you will hopefully appreciate is a reasonably impressive feat.

And so, onwards into June. Promise of so much goodness. I am incredibly lucky in so many ways at the moment... I hope I can get all my balances right. Work/life. Sleep/wake. Stop/go. And so on.