Restricted Frequency #170
There’s so much on my plate right now that if I don’t time every single activity in my day, including bathroom breaks, something is likely to fall short. Here I am, a self-employed artist, an alleged free-spirit going late-stage Amazon on my own ass. But alas, it is what it is. As such, I’m limiting newsletter writing to exactly one hour, with one accompanying illustration also done in an hour. This, on a monthly basis. Two hours a month in total, should be doable.
Y’all know that I like to change the newsletter’s format every once in a while, try something different, keep it fresh. So for this season of RESTRICTED FREQUENCY, I’m taking it back to its old original format I started with back in… 2016? Which at the time was… well, a very basic letter. No planning ahead of time, very stream of consciousness (typos abound). It somehow still managed to include a good mix of personal news, work news, micro reviews, random thoughts, and occasional research material. All in a very freeflowy way. Let’s see if I can tap back into that energy again.
London was hectic. I didn’t think it would be, not with a 10-day quarantine on the agenda. In my mind that made for ample time to read and sketch. In reality though I barely cracked open the book I brought (ALONE AGAINST TOMORROW — Harlan Ellison) save for on the plane. The reason being… well, numerous.
Issue with our planned accommodation meant scrambling for an alternative after arriving and landing on a tiny room in a budget hotel (Premier Inn), which—although not great—is a dream compared to American budget hotels which pretty much all carry the stench of terrible crimes. But… I still get PTSD feels whenever I see the word Inn” preceded by “Premier” because:
Quarantine. See, the American idea of quarantine still entails going out for some fresh air in non crowded places, and picking up takeout even. The British idea of quarantine is really actually quarantine, as in not even stepping outside of your hotel room! Under any circumstance!! And it’s a tiny tiny hotel room!
Our baby was teething. To those who’ve never had children, what that means is shrieking screams of utter agony all goddamn night and useless attempts at soothing and comforting that do nothing cuz those teeth are still popping through them gums and you can’t even pop cold chewy things in their mouth cuz rooms at the Premier Inn do not include a minifridge.
Visitors are required to book COVID tests through private UK companies before departure (Fully vaccinated? Have a vaccination card? Roll it and lovingly shove it up your ass). These tests are to be taken on day 2 and 8 from date of arrival. It’s a self swab kit thing that is sent to an address you provide before departure. For us, that address was for the original accommodation that fell through. Which meant coordinating to have it picked up and delivered to our new accommodation at the Premier Inn hotel room we were trapped in.
Those kits are then dropped in a Royal Mail priority box (thanks to hotel staff), where they are lab-tested and ideally we’d have access to results within 48 hours. Except… we weren’t getting those results.
Which meant getting on the phone with the NHS to report the issue after which they send you replacement kits so you can redo the tests all over again through them.
By day 3 we were already losing our minds and booked a Day 5 Test-to-Release thing. Which, after testing negative would allow us to leave the godforsaken hotel room already.
Come day 6, we were out of that cursed hotel room and off to a comparatively spacious Airbnb in Acton where things instantly took a turn for the better. It was still hectic, mind you, because everyone I knew in London (and I never realized I knew so many people in London) wanted to hang, but everyone I knew in London seemed to live on the east end of the city, approximately 2 hours on the tube. Acton was the most strategic location I could do though, because I also had to be within reach of my sister who lived in Uxbridge and was in the process of readying a house in High Wycombe (north west of London).
But even with all the difficulties, London was glorious. I loved finding a park to walk through in literally every neighborhood I swung by, and the park benches populated by well dressed folks who pretended not to talk to each other, almost certainly doing some shady spy shit. I loved the ubiquity of foldable commuter bikes and welcoming no frills pubs that also served decent food. The way historic buildings tastefully coexist with new ones makes for a gloriously layered and well-designed city. It’s a pedestrian haven, awesomely multicultural in a way that makes New York City feel like an oppressive monoculture. And people be styyyyyyliiiish. At least in London proper. As soon as you get into the fringes, it’s a different story.
I dislike rain, but boy did I enjoy ducking into bookshops for shelter only to find solid research material for future THE SOLAR GRID chapters. Good town, London. Still wouldn’t move there no matter how hard the wife insists (Listen, first half of the trip was gray, cold and wet. In May! I’m sorry, but fuck that.).
One thing I’d be remiss not to mention is getting to kick it (albeit rather briefly) with Ahmed Raafat (GORILLA MY DREAMS) and James Harvey (MASTERPLASTY). The plan was to do some pub + comicshop hopping. Ended up getting one pub and two comicshops in before needing to bounce. Still, managed to score some great finds (in addition to trading with James). But more importantly: got to hang with them chaps in the real, which was great (especially after not hanging with anyone in the real in forever).
Will try to make it out there a bit more frequently, however only after pandemic precautions are lifted for good because getting tested 7 times in the span of a couple weeks is a little overkill.
In other news:
THE SOLAR GRID gets mention in my local paper: The Houston Chronicle.
Thursday, June 16: I’m taking over Radix Media’s Instagram
Wednesday, June 23: Participating in Booklyn’s My Favorite Book series. Plenty of artists talking about their favorite self-made books. Check it out!
Off to NYC from July 25 to August 2. Any shop owners reading RESTRICTED FREQUENCY care to organize a signing or some such?
1 hour and 30 minutes. This should do it.