No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hellenica Day 3

My third full day - tomorrow I leave, but not till late, and tomorrow my friend finally has a day off work to spend together.

We drive 75km there and back to drop my friend at work - a necessity so he can work at one of the more lucrative tourist spots whilst affording a house.

I'm shown the port of Piraeus and the coast road in the light - it was dark walking it last night, only the huge ferries were obvious.  4000 people a day to Crete.  The only other feature I previously was introduced to, also at night, was the cruising spot in the ferry park at 2am - Turkish truck drivers stay on one side, Greek ones on the other.   Alas it was dead - no fish market on Saturday night means no trade to drive the 'trade'

We take the long coast road to Glyfada, passing endless tourist restaurants opposite multiple harbours of sailboats and yachts.  Nothing too huge; nothing too outlandish, that remains firmly the demesne of the ferry and container ports, at least while there's no big cruise ship in town - its nearly the end of the season here.

I'm dropped at the Flea Market and pointed towards Constitution Square.  Never ending 'unique' craft outlets and tourist tat that would no doubt have my aunts haggling like the seasoned pros their heritage entitles them to.  I take in the National Park and actually go into the Zappeion this time - a Russian cultural programme is being held - a photo exhibit and later a series of music performances which I return for.  I'm much more a fan of the Russian music tradition than Greek and the weather and setting of the Zappeion lend themselves well to outdoor performances with a wandering audience.

A circuitous route down to the Metro station adds to the km walked again today - my shoes become marked even whiter from my travels.   Back at Piraeus I manage to navigate enough Grenglish to order myself some souvlaki for another late lunch/dinner before starting the 5km uphill walk to my friend's house - no one parks with their wheels towards the curb; this seems almost sacreligious.  As I pass the Greek Orthodox churches (increasing in density as I travel away from the tourist port area) they are calling people to Sunday evening prayers - 1900, a little later than the British tradition, but not perhaps surprisingly given the warmer climate and longer sunlight hours.  Flashes of gold glitter at me from inside the churches and the spiritual side of me wishes to go in, observe, and join the service - to experience and feed on the spirituality of others which thereby renews my own.  But I've not had a confident day; I realise I know nothing of the Greek Orthodox tradition; I'm in an almost exclusively local area by now; and I'm wearing my bleachers which are hardly appropriate; I do not wish to offend or intrude upon the importance of the ritual of attendance and service for those who's place this is, so I move on.  I'll obtain my spiritual fulfillment another day.

Exhausted at home, I sleep for 2h before needing to go pick up my friend from work.  I drag myself up and get changed again before heading out - the 30km over the last 48h is making itself known.  As are insect bites from a rest in the National Park earlier.  A memory surfaces.  Exhausted whilst on holiday and yet going out - both me and my ex always tired from our various trials each day - both always forcing a way to drag ourselves up and out.  To see each other in the brief time we had, to see others when we had the rare chances, to rescue those who always seem to need it from boys barely holding on themselves.

I think I'll lie in tomorrow.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

What a game!

***Publication of this post was intentionally delayed significantly from time of writing as it brought several unseen advantages; if you don't know, you won't be told why, but the points still stand fairly even without full context***


I've taken a much more considerable and closer interest in the Rio 2016 Olympics than I did in the London 2012 ones - I pointedly and almost completely ignored the 2012 ones with a few minor exceptions.

I was, controversially, against London hosting the 2012 Olympics from the start - I remember specifically refusing to sign several petitions etc in the street when the country was trying to bid for it and demonstrate interest.  I didn't think it was a good use of money, I didn't think it would do the things it said it would, I thought it would run over budget and cause massive disruption.  Some friends I knew at the time who were involved in sports the UK considered minor at the time but were Olympic events did point out it would bring increased investment to their interests, and that was a very fair point that gave me pause.  It did.  Not as much as promised, or hoped for, and the interest has more often than not waned in the time since Summer 2012, but it was something.  It also did force through many public works projects that were sorely needed, and would never have been progressed had it not been for the Olympic shadow driving them forward.  Many friends have memories of the London 2012 Olympics that I do not and a small part of me regrets that I don't have those.  I still, overall however, consider it a vast waste of money for the country.  Participation in the Olympics is great; hosting it is generally folly in my completely-not-expert opinion.  (See also here for a good primer on some of the many reasons I think the Olympics, and the IOC, are generally bad news for the hosts)

This year, several people I know were involved in Rio 2016 at various levels.  Almost all of these are people I did not know 4 years ago.  Some of them I have an especially huge amount of respect and admiration for - indeed we often disagree on many things but I have never had a conversation with them where I have not been overwhelmed by their compassion, intelligence, and perception.  As a result, I have found myself watching these Olympics much more, across several events, and taking a keen and personal interest in the outcomes.  And I've found myself enjoying them immensely.

I regularly identify as a gay sports fan.  I shouldn't really - it somewhat self-promotes bi-erasure against myself, but no-one would care about the straight cis white male side of me that enjoys sports, that yells at the TV, that applauds and cheers good performance by athletes, that armchair coaches and curses judges and referees for calls I disagree with.
No, the bit that makes me 'weird', or notable, as a sports fan is the side of me that likes sex with boys, and so in terms of promoting visibility of interest, it is the gay sports fan side that is important to make known.

I've watched many many more events than I did for London across a broad spectrum; some where my interest was personal, some where it just happened to be what was on and entertaining that day.  And I've loved it.  And it further drives my consideration that whilst yes, at school I hated sports, I was ill in many ways, I had life-threatening asthma difficulties on a regular basis, I was short and small and bullied which does not make for a great team-sports player, it's more to do with the fact that I never got exposed to the right kind of sports at school, and this has a huge impact on how as a child you perceive sports.
I concede, it wouldn't have exactly been easy to get me exposure to the kind of sports I would have enjoyed - ice hockey, skiing, shooting, archery, mountain hiking, air-racing.  These all require extensive, even prohibitive resources and are largely the luck of location making them available. There's also the difficulty of being able to take things at your own pace - partly something you only learn over time as you grow, but fundamentally something that doesn't lend itself to teaching a class of 30+ kids.
But as I've got older I've learnt that actually, I'm a MASSIVE sports fan.  Not in football or rugby or tennis or anything traditional (certainly in the UK), but when I get into a sport it shines through in an utterly unmistakable way.

Part of this is understanding of the technical parts of the sport - its farrrrrr easier to maintain even a passing following of a sport you're not that interested in if you understand how the sport works, what is easy, what is difficult, what warrants and deserves applause against other things, and sports commentary is very complex, usually referencing a hundred different names of past participants, recent and near-ancient history of teams, performance, events etc.  To an outsider its boring and impenetrable.  And there is, unfortunately, pretty much no way to teach this barring sheer exposure.  The speed and aggression of ice hockey was what caught my interest when I was a child, but it is 20 years of following it, supporting a team, reading game recap!s and scouting reports, watching plays and listening to the radio and having to imagine the action off the basis of it, that means I love ice-hockey, because I understand it.  I like skiing because I can do it myself and I know what it demands of the body and mind; I admire the technical skill and physics at play in archery and so on.

Throughout these games I've been motivated to find out about the sports I've been watching, to learn how the sports work, and as a result, I've thoroughly enjoyed them.  I now have even more sports to follow and keen a close eye on and that's GREAT.  But I will never stop being slightly bewildered at how much I hated sports as a child, and how much that was a great shame, because the passion that comes with following sports is something that's quite unique, and not quite replicated by anything else.

Luckily, hockey season starts in a few weeks...



(There was of course, the abhorrent Nico Hines story of a straight man hunting down athletes on a gay sex app and then posting the sordid details of it as an 'article' online.  I have skipped over this as, although from a gay sports perspective its the obvious major thing that occurred in Rio, it has been covered plenty enough by the internet, and I have no wish to drag it all back up again here; it's not relevant to the points I was making.)

Hellenic Observations Day 2

A random collection of observations from day 2.

My shoes are covered in dust - dry sandy soils mean it can't be helped.  Walking over monuments and ancient fields makes it even worse.  My shoes become stained a dry white from walking.  I like walking on holidays.  I like hiking in the heat.  15-20km throughout the day as I encircle and recross the entire Acropolis hill 4 times over.  It's a good hike, something I don't get in the UK - the weather isn't good and I'm allergic to half the countryside there and just not enthused by the remainder.  The last time I hiked this well it was Labor Day and I walked 20 miles through the Marin County headlands north of the Golden Gate and back down through the Presidio along the cliff line.  I miss such days.

Coffee is popular here.  Good coffee.  I saw but a single Starbucks in 15 miles of walking (also meaning the availability of free power to scam is limited).  Coffee is cheap (1€) and available 24h everywhere whether in the centre or suburbs - is the 24h culture a product of the warmer climate, or is London just truly very very shit at 24h amenities? (An ever constant gripe of mine).  (As a side note, coffee is also awkwardly political, as its basically Turkish style coffee, but that's a dirty word, so here you have to say Greek coffee.  Because politics)

No McDonalds either.  A lot of fast food pita places though.  Not complaining.  Souvlaki has been my staple every meal except one.

The state of the economy is obvious.  Everyone talks about it to an effectively rich tourist like me.  Every street has multiple abandoned storefronts and homes.  Huge industrial complexes lie mothballed, the cost of recovering the equipment proving even too exorbitant.  Everyone here smokes - what is it about the seeming connotation between smoking (or drugs in general, be they socially acceptable or not) and low quality of life, despite the necessity for regular excess expenditure it creates?  There is graffiti everywhere.  I mean even on the abandoned shops next to the state palace (now parliament building) and on the fountain in front of the Zappeion.  There is no money to pay to employ people to clean it up.  Most of the shops I wander through outside of the tourist areas are run down light industrial and commercial - a fruit warehouse, car mechanics, spare parts for boiler repairs, phone and tech pawn shops.  I don't have a comparative point of reference, this is my first visit.  The middle class complains most to me - money they have but can't access, frustrated at having seen their quality of living drop so suddenly and dramatically despite their relative wealth.  But its a Saturday night, the streets are packed in my tourist free suburb of Keratsini, the youth of Athens and Piraeus out on the streets in their little groups and those around my age and older filling out every table in every restaurant.  If there's a shortage of money and rife unemployment you couldn't see it in the nightlife.  It's the harsh light of day that shows the stark reality of how many restaurants are surrounded by failed, vandalized once+competitors.

Friday, 30 September 2016

When not in Rome

Since I know this will be popular with certain friends (and to be fair I usually post such things)

First impressions of Greece as follows:
- Police here are hot
- Friend immediately took me to get food without asking.  This is a common feature of friends when they pick me up.  This is why we're friends ^.^
- Next highlights on his tour were the American Cemetery, Amusement Park, Jail, Cruising Ground, and Beach.  The guy knows me, clearly.
- The friend of his I'm hanging out with is apparently likely to also point out to me various cruising spots and other items of cultural interest
- This is my first time in Greece, so as someone who studied classics, I'm obliged to do the tourist thing at some point.
- As a linguist, I'm fairly ashamed I don't know any Greek at all
- It's also my first proper experience outside of academia of being confronted with, and trying to understand, non-Roman script on a daily basis, further complicating matters.  The emphasis of little prepared I am for this trip, linguistically speaking, is immediate.
- I suspect I may come away not having my bearings much or a good sense of how to navigate the city - my friend has a car and is transporting me around mostly.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Apostate

Just fuck it right enough, that's it
You'll still go on, well, for a bit
Another day of utter shit

And then there were none
And then there were none
And then there were none
And then there were none

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A lot of love to give

I've had my eye on a few boys for a while now.  Not sure if I want to date them or not.  I don't really know them - we've only met each other a handful of times.  Friends of friends.

Which in its own way makes it quite difficult to see them - they're not really someone I met and started an interaction with that's just fallen to the side - our connection is in reference to another; calling them up and chancing it would be so overtly out of the blue it risks putting people off, but that equally just furthers the problem that I don't know them well enough to work out if I want to or to wager whether I think they'd even be vaguely interested or not - it might all just be I met them and think they're nicer than most.

Work doesn't help of course, trying to find free time is a nightmare and the bit of it I do get is either spent tending to my extremely fragile mental health state at current (another major selling point when asking someone out, obviously) or with those I get most value out of the shortest time.  And I'm very conscious I'm about to start ramping up towards busy season at work, which makes asking anyone out rather pointless - I'd see them one, maybe twice and then come across as uninterested as I disappear for the better part of 2.5 months

I'd like to see more of these boys, to work out what's there even if its nothing.  But we don't see each other much at all and even when we do I'm not really good at making conversation with people, especially people I don't know well.

More than that though, I'd just like someone again.  Not anyone.  I'm not that stupid.  But it's been long enough and I really miss having someone.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Dreams

I had a dream last night, we [nicked a car, and] drove out to see Las Vegas.

We lost our [cells] in the [those] bright lights. [LT,] you should have seen us!

[we came to, Scamming] for change [as if] to get home, [just outside] San Francisco.

[You topped off the Gas Card, and said: "let's spend a summer on the West Coast!"]

All I asked, all I asked was: "Please don't tell me that [you're teasing,] I'll  take this #CaliSunrise with me, and wake up with the fondest memories."

[We got lost on the coast road, till we reached San Diego. You tried to tell me the plus sides, I found it hard to believe you.]

We [shared our love of the] ocean while [cruising near high altitude], sunsets never were so BRIGHT, and [you banked quick to show me] the sky's never [more] blue.

You opened up [our dark minds, and shared all to. Singing that song: '#DarkBlue'...

[When I woke that morning, my mind tried to find you, I could still feel the sunshine, and the waves we swam through]...

I whispered: "please don't tell me that I'm dreaming...why can't I take that #CaliSunrise with me, and turn these dreams into memories?"

If I [wake, I'll ] roll over. Dreams, #CaliSunsets can't have you. maybe theirs more #CaliSunrise, more unmade memories.

[For now, I'll take this #CaliSunrise, with me, and wake up when these dreams are memories. I'll never abandon my dreams lad]. Not a least till I have to.

If you [try and find me dreaming: I'll be] down, and to the left.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Anniversary

Remember the time my ex-fiance dumped me?
By email.
An email saying he was going to marry someone else instead.
Except then it turned out they'd already eloped and got married 4 months earlier.
On a trip where I was providing emotional support to my ex via instant messages when the logistics of it fucked up, unaware of the actual purpose.
After years of me asking him to elope with me and him always saying that wasn't an option because of family reasons.
Remember that?

There's an annual reminder in my calendar that pops up this weekend.  Its the date of when my ex-fiance asked me to marry him.  I can't quite ever bring myself to delete it.

Which is completely understandable.  But man, was he an asshole.

And in spite of all that, I still want him.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Trying...

Could you let down your hair
Be transparent for awhile, just a little while
To see if you're human after all

Mutual respect; fun; understanding, he says, before walking off offended when I ask to be alone, because his mood swings confuse me and he scares me.

I realise, I'm used to winning, and I can never win with this one.  He's stronger, smarter, quicker, more stubborn.  The only reason I'm here is because I was the one to reach out in the stony silence.  And even now I don't get so much as an "I'll try"; no promises, we both understand that'd be false, but barely any hint at commitment.  And on every level I try to assert myself I'm reminded I won't win and he won't lose.  I can't remember why I started trying again.

Monday, 1 August 2016

The House Always Wins

Today I take a big gamble.  One I'm guessing I'm going to regret eventually.  I'm betting against experience and with zero reassurances things will change.  The stakes are catastrophically high.  If this goes against me it's of the nature of things that get added to the 'horrible past hidden traumas that colour every aspect of their life in some way'.  But the consequences of not placing the bet in the first place were a guaranteed sustained loss.  At least this way, I might have even some vague hope there's a future in which I come out on top.  This will probably seem ludicrous and inadvisable to anyone else, but honestly when I think about it, this is the only way any of my health issues, physical or mental, have ever seen any progression.  Sometimes I forget how ill I am on many levels, and moments like this remind me that serious health issues demand serious life or death gambles in ways unfair and terrifying

I'm not convinced.  That risks becoming a self fulfilling prophecy in itself.  I'm banking this on no confidence at all, just a tiny, unsupported random wisp of hope that lives somewhere in my mind.

Guess its time to jump and see where you land.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Please, listen

I discovered the below poem in Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul back when I was a moody teenager, and I continuously come back to it, for how it plainly points the importance of simply listening to the other person's feelings, views, opinions etc, and truly acknowledging the impact they have on that individual before jumping in with your own assessment

I always remember it in concern with the basic premise laid out in the popsci book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Men when faced with a problem go off into their mancave and sit by themselves and think about it and maybe smash some things and then think more until they've solved it.  And if they truly can't solve it, they will find another man and tell him the problem, and they are expecting him to provide solutions.  Women on the other hand are group focused.  They gather together and talk not about the problem itself, but about all the things around and related to the problem, and in doing so they build up a web of understanding about the problem that allows them to see the solution.  Massively overgeneralizing sure, but like all rules of thumb, it applies good enough on a broad rough basis.  Sometimes you need a friend to help provide solutions.  Sometimes you just need a sympathetic ear.  Both routes have merit.  The world would be a lot easier if we often prefaced talks with our friends with what kind of responses we were looking for from them.

And of course my mental health issues acutely remind me, that what is manageable and tolerable for one person may be very different from another.  We all experience stressors very differently and very subjectively to ourselves alone.  So often saying "oh you shouldn't think like that or some variety" is in fact very unhelpful and counterproductive.

I've tried at various occasions today to talk about things and feelings I keep very hidden and quiet about.  These conversations didn't appear any different to others in terms of tone or anything - quite purposefully, I don't wish to take time to properly consider the seriousness of what I'm finally admitting at the time.  But each time I was quickly shot down.  In jest usually.  A defence mechanism of the person I was talking to.  They deflect and deflect repeatedly in quick succession.  Leaving me emotionally winded having just built up the courage to say it in the first place.  Being ridiculed, or having my thoughts waved away as insignificant massively damages that confidence and I clam up from revealing anything for a good few hours and usually end up rather defensively angry as well, which causes its own set of issues as it comes across as if I have disproportionately reacted to a normal conversation.  Its hard, and the best I can manage right now is occasionally trying to discuss something else difficult instead at a later point.  But I'm losing my confidence a lot at the moment.

---------------------------------------

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why
I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem,
you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.

Listen! All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.

Advice is cheap; 20 cents will get
you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham
in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering,
but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and
inadequacy.

But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel,
no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince
you and get about this business
of understanding what’s behind
this irrational feeling.

And when that’s clear, the answers are
obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense when
we understand what’s behind them.

Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes,
for some people – because God is mute,
and he doesn’t give advice or try
to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work
it out for yourself.

So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute
for your turn – and I will listen to you.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

We're not done

It's easy to ignore you
When I see you down the hall
It's easy to be angry
It's easy not to call
To throw away this thing we had
And blame it all on you
It's harder to admit
I miss it too

It's hard when I come up with something new
And I can't show you
It's hard to see you suffering
It's hard because I know you
It's hard to find forgiveness
We've said all there is to say
What sucks is
I don't see another way

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Quiet thoughts on a Saturday afternoon

There's a lot of things I'm not saying.

I miss my friends.
This is partly my own fault and partly not.  Between disagreements over previous repeated suicidal bouts, attempting to recover from such, insane work commitments over the last 12 months, intentionally shrinking my social circles to cope with the previous 2, and my just naturally overly busy schedule, I haven't had much free time.  A friend asked if we could do something on a Sunday not too long ago - over a 3 month period I only had 2 dates I could offer, the soonest being 6 weeks away even still.  Friends have, probably understandably, rather given up on trying to hang out with me except for special occasions like group birthdays etc.

I still have my Monday night social, which keeps me sane(ish) week and week, in so much as it acts like a stress reliever, but after 5 years of such and an ever decreasing size of the group that turn up each week my mind has partially desensitised to the effect of it - as I say, it works as a temporary stress reliever, but given its default regularity, doesn't seem to count a huge amount towards 'seeing people' anymore.


I'm supposed to be in Brussels this weekend.  A replanned trip for a good friend who wanted to go to Amsterdam but I told him I could only go as far as Brussels.  Clearly, we're not there.  Work got in the way.  Super long days, weekend work, getting home at 2am and going back to work at 7am, not eating, all of this meant I had to make the call that 6 hours of driving, half of it in a foreign country, was going to end badly, and so I cancelled the trip.  It sucks.  I feel horrible for cancelling on the friend who was counting on me for one of his first proper vacations in years.  Everytime he tries to tease me about it I get defensive and lash out at him.  I'm at work on Sunday this weekend already of course.


I was supposed to be in Thiepval this weekend.  At the Somme memorial event.  I won tickets.  I asked my best friend if he was up for it.  War services seem to be a thing we do.  For someone who normally does not display the correct emotional connection during times of public grief, war services do have a connection with me, again, not so much an outward one, but inwardly they mean a great deal to me.  Brussels was the replanning of this Thiepval trip when that went awry.   Thiepval went awry, well because I fell out with my best friend I suppose.  Which sucks.

I miss him.  He fucked up pretty badly and did something pretty damning to be fair.  I would like to somehow reconcile, but that's not just about me forgiving him and forgetting about it, that involves him putting in a fair amount of effort in to try and make things up or apologise to me.  That effort seems to be... virtually non-existent.  One in person talk that he walked away from and a handful of text messages over 6 weeks.  He seems to have no interest in putting in the effort to make up with me.  Which is the way things go sometimes, but it still hurts a lot, I still miss him a lot.  He was a big and critical part of my life (and a very critical part of my mental health support over the past 18 months that has now vanished - at many times the curiosity of where his friendship might go over the years was the sole thing keeping me around) so finding out you're not worth making the effort for is never a nice position to be in.


I miss his husband.  He's someone who doesn't say a lot, and who doesn't reveal his emotions very easily.  But over the last year I've reached a point where I feel I can read him fairly well, that we have established some of our own connection.  We both realise that ultimately, our friendship will always hinge on my interaction with the (ex-?)best friend, but we had definitely got to a point that there was a personal interaction between us.  The messages he's sent me over the past few weeks have been heart-wrenching at times.  It made me realise I don't just miss my friend; I miss both of them.


This all leaves me in a state where I'm falling very free and loose mental health wise again.  I feel supremely disconnected from the world, there's no one I feel like talking to, seeing people is either a chore or they're no longer around or interested.  I've wondered about reaching out to the best friend - about once again, swallowing the hurt and being friends with him because I mentally need the stability.  But ignoring the problem would lead to internalised resentment down the line.  Brussels friend is also seemingly very concerned about any prospect of reconciliation - partly because of the effect the whole issue and its history have had on him personally, and I also get the feeling he just doesn't think the guy is any good for me to be around, period.  It's not hard to work out who each of these people are, so you'll understand why Brussels friend's severe reaction to me reaching out makes me give pause and consider whether he is in fact right and I should trust in his assessment of me far more than I trust my own.

But either way, I miss everything right now.  It all gets increasingly distant every day.



Thursday, 16 June 2016

Don't Go.

Don't go,
I almost did.

Leave now and never come back,
Slammed doors and smashed fists.

You won't even say goodbye?
I never wanted to.

Don't go.
So I came back.
When it hurt, and I was angry, and I didn't want to, and I wasn't ready,
I came back,
So you had somewhere to come back to.

You walked first.
Second,
And third.

The first time, I broke again
But I swallowed my pride, and told myself in time, I would find a way to swallow the hurt too,
Or at least hide how deep this one went.

The second, I remembered why I almost left,
I remembered you there,
"Don't go."
Me with nowhere left to go back to.

The third time,
What could you say?
"Come back, again?" How about:
"Hello" (no goodbye).

You walked first, the third time now.
I took a breath, a last and final sigh,
Or cry,
I wondered if I might see my friend again,
And I walked off myself.

We almost didn't
But you did.

Eventually, so did I.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Date Night

I have a completely inexplicable confidence when it comes to dating.  For someone who struggles to say hello when meeting friends of friends, when I meet a guy I like I have no problem with just stating that and asking them out, straight up.  All those horrors of dating that everyone else frets and worries about - so do I, but I absolutely thrive on them.  What to wear, what to say, what will they wear, how do you say hello, one cheek or two, a hug, shake hands, what?  It's fucking incredible for me.

So I met a boy, this being me, I met him via sex.   He's the only boy I've ever know who could make grey underwear look good.  So you end up in that rather hilarious situation where you're kind of backtracking and going: 'BTW, having just fucked, are you single?  Would you like to go for a drink?'   You find yourself knowing them intimately but knowing very little about their likes/dislikes/interests beyond that.  It's a little surreal but it certainly doesn't discourage me in any way.

So we arrange a first date, and on the day he has to reschedule.  He's very apologetic about it, and says can we get a reschedule in the diary at the time, which shows a genuine desire to not just fob me off.  I say it's okay, my colleague will probably be happy I'm free to stay late at work instead - we're doing the BAFTAs a few days later and its all rather manic.  He clarifies that the reason he has to reschedule is he's doing design work for the Opera Awards.  I burst out laughing - we clearly speak the same language when it comes to getting stuck late at work!

Take 2 rolls around, it takes a bit of back and forth to decide where, I run through plans A B and C before D proves mutually agreeable and more importantly, accessible for both of us (he seems to live somewhere that doesn't just have a constant route into Z1/2 - uh oh!).  I think of four different places we could go, I arrive early and he gets stuck at work 15 minutes late and so I wander around the area checking out the Friday night queues (~2-3h) to get into anywhere that might take our fancy.  I plan and plot and devise all the permutations necessary to make the outcome look easy and effortless.  It's not, it's through actions like this.  But I find these kinds of actions easy; second nature, so I barely even register that I'm doing them.  I ring my best friend before I go - a ritual, a pep talk, a nerve settler.  A part of me remembers I used to ring my boyfriend before going on dates with other boys and how perfectly okay that was for the two us.

He arrives and we head off.  The bar I was banking on is a no-go.  So as two aimless gays are wont to do in Central London, we start drifting Soho-wards.  Then inspiration hits me and I divert us to somewhere better, somewhere definitely date-worthy; a little show-offy.  He already knows the place.  That's a good sign - he's not intimidated and knows some of the hidden gems of London.

We stumble through some conversation.  This is the bit where I actually have to try.  I have to focus.  I asked him out.  I devised the date; it's my responsibility to not let it fall flat, to drive it forward through that awkward phase till it becomes clear it's either good or bad.  So I dig deep to remember all the tricks I've learnt, what to say, how to react, what to pick up on, what to offer as conversation points of my own.  This bit isn't easy for me, but he's just as hot as I remember, and he's smiling, so it's enjoyable.

He asks what I get up to when either of us isn't overworked or just naturally keeping ourselves very busy.  I concede I'm a geek - I play video games, I read comics, I even hesitantly admit I play tabletop RPGs like D&D.
He asks what Edition.

The slight tension between us vanishes.  A kindred spirit.  We curse 4th Ed and pretend it doesn't exist.  We compare hilarious character stories.  Conversation becomes free and easy, it ranges wider (he loves 80s movies - I'm instantly sold on him), we get animated,  On the way back to the tube a woman in front of us jokingly comments she's never known anybody talk so loudly - another sign we're enjoying each other's company.  The answer is obvious; I'm not hedging my bets in any way, but brave, confident and forth right once more I hazard the second date question before the first one even ends.  He says yes in principle; we both agree it may take quite a bit of negotiation to find free time in both of our constant work and social schedules.  But he agrees.  He leaves smiling.  We're talking the same language on a lot of things, and it's a relief to us both.

My friend rings me on the way home.   He asks me who walked who to the station.  He knows me so well.  He knows I know how to end a date.  He can hear me smiling and bouncing and dancing.  I'm flying.  I couldn't stop it even if I wanted to.  A mental switch suddenly flicks in my head and I'm struck by the awareness of it - this guy is just potential, it's only first date territory, with an agreed to second one - but I've always stated I take better care of myself when I have someone else to do that for, than when it's just for me.  He's just potential, but I want to see where it might go.

There are no bad dates.  There are dates you get good stories from.  Hilariously bad stories you shop around your friends for pity with alcohol and ice cream and movies.  But at least you have a terrible warning story to tell for years to come.  And sometimes, dates are fantastic and better than either of you hoped for or believed might happen.

This is why I love dating.  All that potential, possibility, agony, emotion, from just 2 drinks.  I already know where I want to take him for a second date.





(Weirdly, I don't have this confidence when it comes to asking a girl out - there I'm just as useless as everyone else.  Although admittedly the Aries in me would be incredibly turned on by any girl forthright to ever ask me instead.)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Bedtime Story

Once upon a time there was a bear, and the bear roamed far and wide in search of food but he was a lonely bear and wished he had someone to roam with and tell all the things he found to.
And one day, this bear stumbled a warm cave, with a light deep inside, and he wandered in and there, in the back of the cave, he found a boy.
The boy was sad and also alone and he didn't speak much, and he didn't seem to like the bear's food much, but he didn't tell the bear to go away either so the bear stayed and sat down next to the boy and didn't say anything for a while.
And when the bear looked around, he noticed tucked away in a small corner were some sticks, and some skates and some gloves, and he asked the boy about them and the boy said they were for a game so the bear asked if the boy would play it with him.
The boy still looked sad, and didn't say anything, but he slowly got up and went over to the pile, and he pulled out some sticks, and gave one to the bear, and he pulled out some skates, and gave a pair to the bear, and he pulled out some gloves and gave a pair of those to the bear too.
The boy and the bear went outside and started to play.  It was a game called hockey.  And as they played the bear started to learn what to do, and he got good at this game called hockey and he liked it a lot.  And as the boy played hockey he started to laugh and smile, and he remembered that hockey was a good thing, and he liked good things.
When they finished they went back into the warm place they had found and sat next to each other and discussed all the things the boy knew about hockey, and the bear liked them and wanted to know more, so the boy decided he would call the bear hockeybear and the bear liked this name.
Sometimes, they go out together, with more sticks and skates and gloves and they find other boys and teach them to play hockey.  Sometimes the other boys aren't interested so the bear and the boy just play by themselves.  Sometimes hockeybear goes out alone and protects the boy from other boys who think hockey is silly.  The bear is much bigger than he looks and much stronger when he fights to protect the boy he found. 
Sometimes the boy goes out alone, and he comes back very sad.  And he doesn't talk again.  And boys eat different things to bears.  But he doesn't tell hockeybear to go away either.  So they sit together and hockeybear watches hockey with the boy, until the boy looks at his sticks, his skates and his gloves again, and then at the bear, and he remembers that hockey is a good thing.  And he likes good things.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Young, scrappy and hungry

I know my sister like I know my own mind,
you will never find anyone as trusting or as kind. 
If I tell her that I love him she’d be silently resigned,
he’d be mine.
She would say, “I’m fine”
She’d be lying.
But when I fantasize at night
It’s Alexander’s eyes, 
as I romanticize
what might have been if I hadn’t sized him up so quickly. 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Somewhere a clock is ticking...

Tick.
The thought pattern rises in my mind; the one I've been suppressing for weeks; that same one, over again.

Tick.
I can see the mood forming, taking hold, that crystal clear understanding of the irredeemable stupidity and pointlessness of everyone around me.  Their comments, reactions and inactions predictable to me years ago.

Tick.
Time slows down, as the laser sharp clarity of probability cones narrows along each and every path.  Time enough to watch the change and see the change in inevitable fate.  Chance becomes irrelevant.  Certainties solidify as each and every line I care to examine eliminates alternative options over and over to the nth to degree till each point is obvious.

Tick.
A portion of my conscious brain slaves itself to my subconscious thought, mildly amused for a brief period to watch the events of each timeline i choose to observe play out exactly as my analytical mind has already deduced.  It's a passing distraction at best but it's enough conscious attention to assuage my subconscious that I am devoting energies to it.

Tick.
Tick.
Tick.

I split my attention more, each into it's own compartment; a part to tomorrow's work problem; a part to the future; several parts to several different types of solutions, none of which anyone else would condone; each a ward against my subconscious and conscious thoughts fully aligning


I refresh the window into the world I allow myself and try not to laugh.

The self delusional addict, burning up once more.
The lost trying to save everyone around them as they fall
The martyrs screaming to their gods (the little gods and the big gods)
Adverts, more things for a desperate distraction from an unavoidable state of maximal attainable entropy

Tick.
I sleep, and dark thoughts turn to dark daydreams which give way to darker dreams.

People become easier by the second, but by this point, I've lost whatever passing interest I had those few moments ago.  It's pointless when you're hundreds of moves ahead.  Watching them roll the dice in their heads in a game you've already played 20 times over, and seen them make the same decision every time.


Tick.
Tick.
I wait to see how long it lasts this time around.  I make what arrangements I can in the time I have; it'll all seem like chance even to me when it's over.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Pandora

I have dark thoughts, this isn't news to anyone.

Some are very very dark.  Some would easily destroy in a moment everything around me if I let them take hold.  They're ones I don't like to even admit to, that scare me because I realise what they would do.  They exist in a firmly closed box that I bury so deep I usually forget the box itself even exists let alone its contents.

Once in a while the box creeps open.   A comment or a thought process in my own head takes a lateral step and makes a connection to some other line of thought.

I've learnt to recognise that incipient other thought; the opening of the box before the full idea comes out and announces itself.

If I'm lucky I can stop it there.  A half second while the thought process completes in which every other part of my brain is filled with urgency and alarm.  Panic.  Fear.  The need to do anything in the very brief window of time I can still save it.  Stop.  I cry out loud or in my head.   Stop stop stop.

If I'm lucky it aborts.   Pandora's box shuts again before anything gets out and after a breath I go back to who I was; broken but functional.

If I'm not lucky... White hot rage at everything I've ever encountered or could encounter; the utter idiocy of it all, the insignificance.  It can all burn.  It should all burn.  Every second I abide the world longer without destroying all I see is a failure of myself and my crystal clear understanding.  I pray I'm alone when the thought latches on.   I won't be less destructive, but my own life is easier to salvage when the dust settles.

One day maybe I can deal with these parts of me.  For now there are other bits which are less dangerous to tackle.  I continue to cry stop, and wonder what good it does.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Neutral ground

"..and if we should meet through some misunderstanding,
I'll be very sweet, very patient and forgiving;
Now get off my side of the state.

And if we should see one another in passing
Despite these techniques there is sometimes no avoiding
There must be some kind of mistake.

We'll raise high our white flags and bow heads and shake hands
Declaring the land, we're on un-American:
We'll call it even, we'll call it even.

I am the tower around which you orbited,
I am not proud, I am just taking orders,
I fall to the ground within hours of impact,
I hit back when hit and attack when attacked.

And I am an accident waiting to happen,
I'm laughing like mad as you strangle the captain,
My place may be taken but make no mistake,
From a little black box, I can say without shame

That you've lost, that you've lost
Do you know what you've lost?

So take whatever you'd like, I'll strike like the states on fire.
You won't sleep very tight, no hiding, no safe covers,
Make your bed and now lie just like you always do,
You can fake it for the papers but I'm on to you, I'm on to you..."

Monday, 4 January 2016

Willpower

This is gonna hurt...

People seem constantly amazed by my willpower, my ability to either commit, or to resist.  It's nothing like that.
My power to commit is based off knowing all the alternatives are unacceptable to me.  It's not willpower, it's my only viable course of action.
My power to resist is based off not putting myself in the circumstances in the first place.   I have zero willpower, so I simply avoid the situation so it's never tested.

I saw it coming.  I should have said no when those plans first changed.  I should have cut my loses then.   But I am a secret optimist.  I always live in hope the same course of action will have different effects.  That this time it will go the way I intend, not the way it inevitably does.

It was my last hockey game today.  I can't afford it anymore.   4 months ago I gave up the gym so I could afford hockey.  I loved the gym, but hockey was good for me, so mental health won over physical health and I put my money towards hockey.
Now I have to pay for therapy.  It's not much, but it means I have to give up something.   My only major recurrent expense from my disposable income each month is hockey.  It's a huge blow, I hate giving it up.   But I have to.  And hope the pay off for my mental health is worth it.

I wanted it to be a nice final night.  And it wasn't terrible.   There were friends.  We won.  But the friends were late.  I was going to go home with one after and talk to them about a load of important things we both have going on.   We didn't.   He told me he'd go home with me.  He told me he'd make sure I got home.  He didn't.

It's going to be a horrible few months with other changes I'm facing, but this is going to be the hardest.   I'm loyal to my friends to the point of a character flaw.  It takes a lot to push me away for longer than 5 minutes or make me give up.  But I can recognise when I have to avoid the situation in the first place, because I don't have willpower when my friends ask things.  So I have to stop myself being asked.

This is gonna hurt...