Stephanie Burgis
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Good food, grief, and 5-year plans
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We thought we ought to remind ourselves of what's nice about living where we do, so today for lunch we headed out to The World-Famous Mumtaz Restaurant (their own title), otherwise known as Probably the Best Pakistani/Indian Restaurant Outside of Pakistan. It's in Bradford, which is the capital of Pakistani/Indian cooking in the UK, and it is incredible. One of the best parts of living in Leeds is being right next door to Bradford, and it's really spoiled me for Indian cooking - during our Stockholm trip, the only meal I didn't enjoy was one at an Indian restaurant where the food was so mild it just felt tasteless after a few bites. Today I sank into a gorgeous Palak Paneer with glistening garlic naan bread and a lush mango lassi. Mmmm.... Can't wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

It's hard being back. When we went away on vacation, I managed to run away from the grief for a while - I think subconsciously I managed to convince myself that Nika was just at the kennels or something...after all, we'd always left her behind when we went on foreign vacations. But then, of course, we came back to the empty house and it became real again. I miss her so painfully, every day. I still can't believe it really happened.

But at the same time, things are better now than they were a month ago. I'm coping with everything better. When we're out of the house, things feel normal. Even in the house, I'm managing better than I did a few weeks ago. And I'm back in a writing mood, for the first time since the end of August. Today I sat down in the Borders cafe with a shiny new notebook (thank you Patrick!) and wrote out a list of writing goals for the next 5 years. I did that for the first time two years ago, and it was surprising what a difference it made in terms of motivation and productivity. Of course, not everything on that original list has happened, but I did put way more effort into all the work of writing, agent-hunting, etc., because I felt like I had a real plan, and it made the whole dream feel less fantastical and more practical. It felt good to make out a new plan today, and I could feel myself waking up a bit - thinking, hmm, yes, I guess I should finish up those revisions, start something new, write another short story, hmm...

Now all we have left to decide is whether to watch The Devil Wears Prada or Marie Antoinette first, and whether to do it this weekend or the next. Hmm... This feels like the kind of decision-making I can handle right now.

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