sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose

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The Life List

For a while now – inspired by Mighty Girl (and actually borrowing some ideas from hers) – I’ve been meaning to write a life list, or bucket list as some people call it. Without wanting to go all hippy-visualisation bidness on you, I do find that writing down my goals seems to bring me a magical step closer to achieving them. Like Deathnote, but without killing any of my enemies.

So hey, if this post helps me achieve any of the following, that would be awesome!

  1. Visit the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
  2. See the Aurora Borealis
  3. Take a dip in a thermo pool in Iceland
  4. Walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela
  5. Spend a week on a narrowboat
  6. Travel around the UK in a campervan
  7. Take a flight in a hot air balloon
  8. Visit a redwood forest in California
  9. Ride in a gondola in Venice
  10. Take a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
  11. Grow my own food
  12. Visit Yellowstone national park
  13. See the Great Wall of China
  14. Sail a yacht
  15. Visit Cuba
  16. Go to carnival in Rio
  17. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  18. Visit New York
  19. Ride a tram in San Francisco
  20. Sky dive
  21. Dance at the Swing Ball with Ben
  22. Ride the Orient Express
  23. Be in a film
  24. Tango in Argentina
  25. Get published
  26. Take a photography class
  27. Read Ulysses
  28. Do a 10k run
  29. Grow a bonsai tree
  30. Have a garden with a hammock
  31. Finish knitting Ben’s scarf
  32. Make a dress
  33. See Radiohead live
  34. See Tom Waits live
  35. Sleep in a treehouse
  36. Learn Italian
  37. Go island-hopping in Greece
  38. Visit Uluru
  39. Swim in the swimming ponds at Hampstead Heath
  40. Throw a Holi party
  41.  Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  42. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  43. See the Iguazu Falls in Argentina


And a handful of the really awesome things I have already ticked off the list:

Give blood

Dinner at Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca

Do a 5k run

Learn to swing dance

Dress up as a geisha in Kyoto

Cross Thorung-La: the world’s highest mountain pass in the Himalayas

See a meteor shower

I didn’t get a photo, but it was a lot like this

Be a DJ

Believe it or not, I am DJing here…

Perform onstage

Onstage at Robin’s Well with Ben, Timmy and Sarah

Marry Ben


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A Wednesday of few words

Okay, so I am never going to achieve a Wordless Wednesday probably, because I like to write, and I can’t imagine just presenting a bunch of pictures without saying anything about it.

But today I will keep it short, and hope that my photos will speak for me. Last night was week 2 of my course at CSM: Travel Photography – People and Places. The previous week the tutor set an assignment to photograph our home postcode and bring 8 prints to class. The first half of the class was going through everybody’s images and critiquing them. I thought my pictures held up reasonably well against everybody else’s. But hey, judge for yourself…

See those bags up there? I saw a girl with a coat made out of that fabric in Brixton Village. I asked her where she got it, and she pulled this pained expression and said “oh, I got it in Nepal actually, so I don’t think you’d be able to find anything like it here”. I thought, funny, I never saw anything like that when I was in Nepal. Then I walk around a corner and see a stall selling these bags. Lying hipster scumbag.

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We’re going to Glastonbury 2013!

It was a close call too: we got through about 5 minutes before they sold out completely. I’m feeling a mixture of elation that we got tickets, and bummed out for my friends who didn’t.

Buying Glastonbury tickets is a bit like playing the lottery. What other festival in the world sells out 200,000 tickets in 1 hour 40 minutes, without announcing a single act?

We got up at 8:40 on a Sunday (I know, I nearly expired when my alarm went off), flicked the kettle on and set up Headquarters in the living room. Sam came over, and the three of us sat there for 90 minutes: mobile in one hand (Call Back Call Back Call Back Call Back), landline in the other (hang up redial hang up redial hang up redial) and laptop on my lapt (F5 F5 F5 F5 F5). I got into such a rhythm with all three devices I started to worry I’d get through and then accidentally hang up.

And then all of a sudden, Rani calls up, and she’s through and I’m handing over my card details to lay down a £400 deposit for 8 people. Can’t make rent this month but who cares?

So here is my Glasto 2013 wishlist:

Pyramid Stage:

Saturday night: Radiohead. Sunday night: Talking Heads/ Tom Tom Club surprise reunion! All other times: Coldplay, U2, or some other rock behemoth I don’t give a stuff about, to draw the crowds away from my favourite stage…

Other Stage:

Bjork, Parliament/Funkadelic, Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Spoon, TV on the Radio, LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A, Santigold, Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire, De La Soul.

My fantasy: Santigold, Beastie Boys, De La and Bjork all join George Clinton onstage…

West Holts (on a really sunny Friday afternoon):

Mungo’s Hi Fi, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Roots Manuva, Femi Kuti, K’naan, Afrikan Boy, Easy Dread Allstars.

Some tiny tent somewhere, with a smoky intimate feeling despite the crowds:

Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Be Good Tanyas, Gillian Welch, The Black Keys, Cat Power.

Dance Village:

Groove Armada, Basement Jaxx, Mr Scruff, Andy C, Skream, Benga, 2 Many DJs.

Please Mr Eavis, any and all of the above, just not at the same time!

What I will really be doing is getting hold of the line-up and listening to as many of the bands as possible, because even if you’ve never heard of them, you can rely on Mike and Emily to book the best music going, so it’s a brilliant way to discover new music, and then arrive at the festival totally psyched to see them.

That’s why it’s maybe the only festival in the world that can completely sell out without announcing a single act.

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Ebay Sunday: kick up your foot

First up: Glasto tickets go on sale today and I am weeeeeeEEEOOOoooooooo excited!

Anyways… I bought these really fab silver shoes a month or so ago. They are from Office, and I think I spent about £8 on them, but I can’t remember. And I have locked myself out of my ebay account purposefully, so I can’t even check.

When I first got them, I danced around the house in them because  they are soo pretty, and soooo comfortable!

This comfort malarkey is of the utmost importance to me. I wear trainers most of the time, and ballets flats or sandals in the summer time. I find the less I wear heels, the less I can wear them. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

The other day I found myself mesmerised walking down the street behind a girl. She was wearing wedge shoe boots which tapered in the heel, and they looked brilliant, but the way her ankles buckled with each step did not. I already have plenty of problems with overpronating when I run and aching arches, so as a rule I tend to stick with low heel or no heel. These heels are pretty itty bitty, so I figured I’d be okay.

My friends: wearing your shiny new shoes to the park with your friends and their two year old is not the same as prancing around your living room. I strutted out of the house yesterday feeling like a silver-toed glamazon. After some serious playground action, we hit a cafe for coffee and a babychino, and I found myself surreptitiously slipping my shoes off under the table to assess the huge blister on the back of my heel.

I came limping home feeling decidedly less elegant. And the thing about silver shoes is they do rather draw attention to your feet, even when you’d rather they didn’t. By the end of my road I had them in my hand and was enjoying the rough tarmac beneath my toes, trying hard not to think about tetanus.

What is the moral of the story? Wear trainers to the park if you’re running around after a two year old. Rub vaseline into the backs of leather shoes to prevent rubbing. Some shoes take a little more breaking in than a quick gleeful prance around the living room. Don’t get Ben to take your Ebay Sunday photos, as he will only end up cropping the shoes out of the picture, and making you do a “rargh!” kitty pose you instantly regret.

And yes. Yes I will be wearing them again.



Take it like a man

When I was a kid, I read a magazine that counselled its readers to learn to accept compliments graciously. They suggested that, rather than responding with a list of all the things wrong with your hair/face/clothes/weight, you could simply adopt the attitude of a chic Parisienne; smile and say merci.

“This old thing? Oh it makes my hair turn into a ball of static frizz, seriously.”

I never quite understood why they considered French women the bastions of self-posession in this instance, but I thought the advice was sound and tried to adopt the approach.

Because here’s the thing about compliments: it can be hard to take them without feeling embarrassed or full of yourself, but it can also be difficult to give them.

You might be surprised by how shy I am: it took me 3 days to pluck up the courage to go and invite the new girl at work out for lunch, even though I remember how lonely I was in that position a year ago. 3 days! I actually did that thing where you walk halfway over and then turn around and run away again. She must think I’m nuts.

So if you’re getting a compliment from me, you might want to know that I probably rehearsed it several times in my head, to make sure it didn’t sound cheesy, or like I am trying too hard, or like a backhanded compliment that is designed to make you feel bad about yourself. And even as I’m saying it, I’m probably thinking “oh no! I over-rehearsed it in my head, and now it sounds wooden and fake! Argh!”

Because even though I’ve done my best to master the serene smile and thank you (or as it shall henceforth be known, the French Method), I still end up over-analysing any compliment, to ferret out any subtle allusions or double meanings. Here’s just two recent examples:

Woman at work: Look at you! You look smaller and smaller every time I see you!

Me: I’m sorry?

Woman: You’ve lost weight, you look great!

Me: Oh, thanks! [no I haven’t. If anything I’ve gained weight recently. Why does she think that? Am I fat in the mental image she has of me, and so when she actually sees me, she’s always surprised by how slim I actually am?? DO I HAVE A FAT AURA?!]

That’s actually mild insanity on my part right? I mentioned this exchange to Ben, and before I could even comment he said “I hope you didn’t find a way to take that badly”. How well he knows me.

Italian woman of my acquaintance: Ah, you look so much like my daughter! I have a daughter your age, she is… [waves hand vaguely at my chest as if searching for the Italian word for buxom] She looks just like you, che bella! But she has two young children.

Rational Siri: all parents think their children are gorgeous. Being compared to someone’s child is a serious compliment.

Crazy-Ass Insecure Siri: I’m pretty sure she just implied I have the figure of a woman who’s had two kids, and simultaneously pointed out my failure to reproduce.

Rational Siri: Crazy-Ass Insecure Siri, you’re a dick.

As a little experiment, I asked Ben when he last received a compliment:

Ben: Yesterday, when you told me how great I look in the jacket you bought me

Siri: and what did you think when I said that?

Ben: [beatific grin]

So there you go ladies: you look fucking awesome today. Take it like a man.

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life through a lens

Reason # 324 to love your job: as of tonight I am now a student again, taking part in a photography course at work!

And hey, you know what I discovered? It only takes a small shift out of your usual context for people to not recognise you. Standing in a group of students waiting to be collected by the tutor, about 10 of my colleagues passed me and only two recognised me.

I also discovered that I was the only person in the class without a DSLR. I’d borrowed one from Rani, but decided at the last minute that a) it was way too bulky and b) it was a bit pointless learning on somebody else’s camera when I want to get the best out of mine. Thankfully the tutor was reasonably complimentary about bridge cameras like my Fujifilm finepix s1500.

Tonight I learnt a great deal about white balance and a little bit less about ISO (mostly because I couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of ISO properly – I get that less light = higher ISO, but other than that it wouldn’t sink in). We didn’t take any pictures in class, but afterwards I found myself snapping all the way home.

So, here’s some of my journey home (including my dinner in Wasabi)…

Mmmm, tofu curry!

I’d never realised before that this corridor between the ticket halls in King’s Cross is actually a wheelchair jousting tiltyard!