When I am cut off from the cyber network of sober friends and allies, I invent blog posts as I garden or go for walks or have supper with friends. I imagine what might be happening in other’s lives as recorded on blogs I can’t access. How did the marathon go? Is the new boat shipshape? How was the blind date? What happened next? Has the elephant galumphed out of the living room?
And then when I am back for a precious but brief space with ebbing memory and screen freezes, I cannot think of anything worth blogging about.
Monday morning is the weekly routine of soupmaking, creating stocks with roast chicken carcasses, chopping aromatics of carrot, onion, celery, simmering pots filled with unlikely leftovers — cold brussels sprouts, grilled parsnips, Swiss chard from the garden — that amalgamate into delicious soups for evening suppers. Cooking is alchemy.
And fortunately I can dice and chop and stir in my sleep, because several of us sat up until nearly 2am last night watching the film Milk on television, so I am sleepless and switched-off this morning. I don’t function well on little sleep. Even when I was a student and living on red wine and black coffee and watching the dawn come up as we partied on, I didn’t exactly revel in that white-night insomnia. I would wander around jittery and fragile, barely coping until it was time to crawl into bed and catch up on sleep.
When I surface from the sleepwalking, I need to finish reading a friend’s manuscript, an urban steampunk fantasy. Steampunk is a genre that has to do with speculative fiction set in a Victorian world of new scientific discoveries that carry nostalgic echoes for those of us maroooned in the 21st century. Imagine Jules Verne or HG Wells teleported into a post-modern cyborgian space opera. My friend loves complicated technologies mixed up with Dr Watson in the drawing room. I can’t write that kind of stuff myself but I am doing my best to read it and make helpful comments. Her main character has a royal blue waistcoat and mutton chop whiskers, a scaly tail, laser-enhanced goggles and an aptitude for time travel, but is also in recovery from Satanic Ritual Abuse. I am in awe of that kind of imagination, but the dialogue is somewhat improbable. Right now Mutton Chops is designing a coal-powered flying boat intended for interplanetary travel and all he can say is ‘E’gad, the soup has been salted to excess by the second parlour maid!‘ Which sounds like a bad Learn English As She Is No Longer Spoken textbook.
Sleep-deprived, sober and grateful. Like any steampunk optimist, I have a secret fantasy that my computer is quietly fixing itself (those busy little green men repairing short circuit boards and boosting artificial memory stores) and that I will not need to tackle the problem myself with a hammer, pliers and doorhinge oil. If self-repair is not the case, I may be offline for a while longer. Life on life’s terms…