The Waiting Room

I was in a hospital waiting room today and while I’m ever grateful for free healthcare, the hospital and people in it, made me feel like John Simm in Life on Mars. For someone who struggles with being grounded in reality at the best of times, it was a real struggle not to feel like Walter Mitty. It was also, in another sense, totally grounding – being faced with the lump that at the time could also be my own mortality. Now I know it’s just a blocked saliva gland and I was panicking for months over nothing, but the point still stands.

Those grounding moments that we all have put things into perspective like never before from appreciating the little things to the big things. It sounds wholly cheesy but for me, sat in that boiling waiting room with the world’s largest collection of elderly Northerners, I began to put things into perspective. I’m less stressed about looking for a job brought about by my realisation that maybe I’m overthinking it and overselling it like the bloody lump. Or perhaps my own job hunt was just a personal distraction from what I need and what I need is something to alleviate the boredom. It’s true that idle hands to the devil’s work because in my case it’s chewing my nails to shreds and the beds really need time to recuperate if I decide to hold on to my dignity and not go to the nail bar.

Just looking around in the waiting room with all the people and their loved ones made me think about the future and that dreaded horrible realisation that maybe I do want someone. I’m disgusted with myself, taking pride in independence – emotional or otherwise -, solitude and existing in a strange aura of ambiguity that I’ve been told I have. Problem is, I like perhaps millions in this situation, have no idea what I actually want from that. Maybe it’s an underlying problem with our own ideals of perfection within relationships and companionship that can never truly be lived up to. Or maybe perhaps, most of us are too willing to compromise rather than do the braver, selfish thing of saying no to compromise. As a partial-subscriber to libertarian beliefs, the latter makes way more sense. Lets’ consider for a moment the people who seem to get through marriages like toilet paper; are they happy? Fuck no.

It’s all one big journey and when it comes down to it, we all need to learn to read a fucking map. We may all look at the roads in different ways but in the end, they all end up the same way: a coffin (or an urn but that’s less dramatic). I’m not judging what people do with their time but when constantly faced with death’s door, like the fossils in that waiting room, why not inject some fucking spontaneity. Take a risk, take a road not travelled because why not? I’m sure I’ve definitely said something like this before but perhaps the repetition is the universe trying to tell me something. So, if I want to effectively tell my friend of eight years that she looks hot in her new Facebook profile picture in a weird cryptic way to not totally look like a creep, dammit, that’s what I’ll do. As long as it’s not hurting or bothering anyone else, where’s the harm in getting up and doing what the hell you want to do?

There’s my new mantra and perhaps one for us all: ‘why the fuck not?’.

The Waiting Room

Ouija Boards

I’ve been tested today and I’m continuing to be tested and it seems no matter how much I try to help people, there will always be doubt surrounding my motives. As I’ve said before, that’s fine because human beings are fundamentally distrusting beings. Yet we endure, don’t we? We deal with it and move on always, like lions searching for a new pride on a never-ending journey through the savannah of literal shit. Right now, I’m at a crossroads being asked to choose either a friend’s happiness or my own. If it was any other person asking me I would say ‘fuck you,’ but it’s not. There’s no running from this and the choice is mine alone to make but the repercussions will perhaps ruin one-third of the valued relationships I hold.

Life being shit, is not a TellTale video game where you can reload and overwrite the save file if the outcome isn’t what’s wanted. The scenario is entirely reflective of the Doctor Who episode title ‘Truth and Consequence’ that being the truth is being confronted by my own selfish nature versus the consequences of making a friend feel trapped or marginalised or both. There are people out there who make careers out of being martyrs yet throwing myself on the sword is less appealing than anything I’ve ever known. Does that make me a coward? Does it make anyone in a similar situation? You could argue that not sacrificing yourself and living with the consequences is the braver choice having to see the face of a friend you know that you would have fucked over.

I was told by someone today that I’m not alone and that I’m valued by people more than I realise but here I am, pouring over the outcome of a situation that makes me feel more isolated than ever before. Maybe that’s another fundamental truth about human existence is that sacrifice is by-the-by when it comes to keeping hold of the things we have. All I have is those few friends and twice today it’s been called into contention over what I can only describe as territorial, relationship intrigue.

For the first time, I’ve left a post unfinished and went for a walk to think about it.

Now, some two hours on, I’ve come to realise that this one tiny event is microcosmic. It’s totally representative of my entire existence since I’ve been here, in this place, again and again. A constant reminder to why I don’t expose my feelings. Every damn time we open that door, we don’t know who will come in with our guest. My mother always told me not to play with a Ouija board because we don’t know what we’ll let in our house but you’re never told, as a child, to have the same policy with opening up to other human beings – with being close to someone. It just invites in disappointment and shitty situations again and again.

Fuck it.

I should get an actual Ouija board not just an analogical one. Maybe it’ll be far easier to wrestle with those unwanted guests than those who have already made themselves very fucking comfortable on my analogical sofa.

Ouija Boards

London Film and Comic Con, 2017

I was at comic con at the weekend in London and learnt two things in particular: I never want to live there and that conventions are quite literally impulse-buy markets. Seriously, I spent so much money on things that I neither really want or need. The most telling part of this is the fact that you have to pay for the privilege of meeting another human being. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure Natalie Dormer is a lovely person but no-one’s that nice that a donation of sixty-pounds is necessary for her to write some hollow bullshit on a picture of herself.

In the aftermath, I am making the mistake of analysing the day and my purchases which is slowly ruining the memory considering it was over a fiver for a very mediocre hotdog. As I glance over to the fifteen-pounds bobble head I panic a little over the money I have and don’t have. Yet despite the obvious financial costs, comic con is worth it just for the sense of atmosphere and a strange unity that you might get from being at a football match, for instance. Everyone there had come to show support for something or someone whether it be a celebrity or an anime. Of course, if the words ‘I think Game of Thrones is over-hyped’ slips your lips then expect swift and righteous crucifixion.

Oddly enough, like a football match, I witnessed a small fight break out between a man running a stall and an oblivious selfie-taker. There was a large bust of Arnold Schwarzenegger that someone had touched and it all took a sour turn which was quickly dealt with by security. Yet unlike in normal circumstances, people turned away and made a point to avoid the confrontation rather than actively spectate. Maybe it highlights the fallacy of comic con: being absorbed in the fiction all around, actively trying to avoid the reality. Much like buying for the sake of buying, we do it because it’s all a part of the comic con experience and deviation is totally avoided. Just spent seventy-five-pounds to get a picture with Mads Mikkelsen? Worth every penny, pal.

The best moments from my experience this year came not from spending money at all but from – for lack of a better phrase – sitcom humour. It started around eleven in the morning when my friend bought some naturally overpriced nachos and a cola which ended up down him and the floor when he held back a sneeze. Honestly, I have never cried from laughter until that moment and his panicked words ‘what do I do?’ made it even worse. The whole frame of the somewhat stunned nineteen-year-old standing atop a mess of salsa and Pepsi, while the workers at the food cart all muttered ‘what the fuck’, was perhaps better than the last four seasons of The Big Bang Theory.

The second was perhaps the best and it happened some time later while we were sat waiting for another friend to get his picture taken with Natalie Dormer – again sixty-pounds is definitely worth it, why would anyone question if it was a waste? We were there for a long time and the only free element of the day being the Wi-Fi was spotty at best and required a field of personal details to be filled in, odd for ‘free’ connection. It was my same salsa-stained friend who, to pass the time, began singing ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver and began to rock to the tune. At the very same time, the person that he wanted to meet the most of all the guests there, Alyson Hannigan walked past. The face she pulled was similar to that of the food sellers – ‘what the fuck’ – and so, confused by his performance she quickly moved on by. My friend let out a little whimper and seemed to die.

Naturally I pulled out the classic: ‘it’s just nacho day’.

London Film and Comic Con, 2017

New House

I’ve never come to appreciate the library as much as I do now. Over the past few days of having no hot water or internet, I have come here to peruse Facebook, go to the toilet without worrying that something is going to break around me and most importantly, download pornography on my phone. Its dire straits, I tell you. Considering it’s a student house, I should be thankful that I’m not being violently fisted by my landlord but in another sense considering that the house is quite literally falling apart, I am. The wonderful thing about York is that all the houses are so old but unfortunately the horrible thing about York is that everything is fucking old.

I’m the only one to move in as of yet so obviously I’m the one fighting the teething problems and have spent my days getting out of there as much as possible in an attempt to find something meaningful with my time, other than binge watch The Office DVD box-set. In the three days I have utilized the free McDonald’s student burger deal more than perhaps anyone has in their lifetimes and walked quite literally four laps around the city centre. I tell myself those treks are to burn away the calories of the burgers only to pretend it’s not because I’m so dangerously bored. To make matters worse is that currently the washing machine is out of order in the house and I’m wearing my jumpers in this muggy twenty-degree Celsius heat.

What happened some two-hundred years ago when we were bored? It seems clear that’s the era my house was built for so it does beg the question. Naturally the walk around town would be shorter and there would be more shit on my shoes. Were we as human beings less demanding for entertainment in those times? Or have the old GCSE history books omitted all the bits about opium bars and mega-brothels that would make George R.R. Martin blush? It goes without saying that at my ripe old age of nineteen, I would be dead by now of either some disease or the Crimean War. My maths is probably a bit out with the dates of the Crimean War but my point still stands.

I had planned to read this week and enrich my mind with Orwell but modern technology struck back when I discovered that I could play Stellaris and Civilisation VI without having to connect to the internet. I could be playing those games right now in the comfort of my uncomfortable home but perhaps it was my grandmother’s voice telling me to ‘get some fresh air’ – words I hated as a kid, watching Cartoon Network until it started to hurt – that motivated me. That’s the line I’m going with, the reason behind my constant trips to the library and into York city centre; definitely not for the internet connection to download pornography on my phone.

New House

Learning To Read Again

I’m moving into an internet dead zone tonight and it’s going to be strange not to check social media or even look up some irrelevant information for some random reason unknown to myself. The next week will be a time to grow my repertoire of novels and that I’ve managed to collect through years of people buying me them as gifts, assuming that I’m an avid reader. Unfortunately, I’m not which I probably should be considering the implications of being a student where the key thing expected of a student is to read anything and everything. Even the lecturers will often be the first to admit that most academic reading is ‘academic masturbation’ – which is a direct quote from my ever-cheery professor – it’s the end of my first year and I’ve yet to read anything.

Is that depressing in itself? The notion that even a student such as myself has fallen out of reading even the simplest of things because I can get it all from a YouTube tutorial on the mental development stages rather than having to pour through Freud’s ramblings. Oddly enough, I don’t even study psychology. Has the screenplay killed the novel in the 21st Century to an extent where you hear about one in a million successes like J.K. Rowling but crappy yet commercially successful scripts like Sharknado are a dime a dozen. Admittedly, I’m part of the problem as I’d much rather have internet connection and binge all six seasons of Suits than even attempt to read anything by Dan Brown.

Personally, I blame my own lack of reading squarely at the doorstep of Ian Fleming, who I studied in a language module a few years ago. As a kid, I loved James Bond and all fourteen books as I had got through them when I loved reading when I was eleven –  I had no actual idea what was going on but the thought was there. Then, when I sat down and sifted through every bit of misogyny, racism and creepiness, my idea of the ultimate cool fictional male role model collapsed and I was left with either The Doctor or Batman. I’ve never felt so cheated and now I can’t even glance over at the collection on my shelf without feeling grim. Thank God for Roger Moore, right?

Maybe that’s a tip to take away for everyone. If you love something, don’t analyse it or you’ll end up hating it. I guess it’s a massive ‘fuck you’ to every student studying their favourite subjects at university, paying through the nose for the privilege, only to understand that unfortunate joke. Now more than ever, I don’t think I have any intention of making films after I graduate, considering the only enjoyable position I have had is boom pole operator which is a role not often given to people of my height.

So, with no internet I’m going to have to learn to read again which is something many a holiday-maker has found sitting around the pool. Who knows, in just a week I could finish Paradise Lost, which I’ve always wanted to finish, and maybe slip in a bit of a Stephen King classic. Unfortunately, it’s the 21st Century and I’ll probably wither away and die like Yoda before that happens.

Learning To Read Again

Eating Alone

I was sat alone in a restaurant the other day which is something I’ve never done before. I’ve been known for excessive take-away food through the modern marvel that is Deliveroo but to go in and sit there on my lonesome is something new. On the positive, the humble Carluccio’s was very good and the staff were extremely attentive – probably because I was the only one there at midday on a Wednesday. On the negative, it reminded me of my second biggest regret in life being that I never took the trip to mainland Europe before I went to university that my dad gave me money for. Instead, the five-hundred-pounds went towards a very busy fresher’s week where strangely I proved popular with the opposite sex – which soon stopped when the realisation was made that I’m more Michael Cera than John Hamm.

Weirdly, the taboo of sitting in a restaurant alone was a good experience. Naturally I had to do the obligatory fucking Snapchat update since it’s 2017 and I hate myself. On the larger though, it really made me wonder why people don’t do things on their own more often. At least in the circles I move in, it’s relatively unheard of to be solitary. My grandmother goes on holiday by herself all the time and every time, my mother frowns just a little bit. Yet isn’t there a level of safety in doing things with other people?

There’s a safety in not having to carry everything yourself or say if you forget the room key, it’s okay because someone else has it. Even on fundamental level you have that someone to talk to at the table when you’re chowing down on the continental breakfast instead of making sad, awkward eye contact with the guy refilling the orange juice. On the flip side of that argument, is there such a thing as being too safe? Like bathing in anti-bacterial hand wash.

You never hear about the great adventure that you go on when you’re on an all-inclusive holiday with the family. It normally extends to someone taking the sun lounger before you manage to get all the things from the room and a passive aggressive fight ensues. Where’s the oddly tranquil moments in a Parisian coffee shop overlooking the Seine? Maybe not exactly exciting but there’s a nugget in there like a beginning of a classy thriller with Pierce Brosnan.

Totally fucking pretentious to a point of insanity but who wouldn’t want that? The last family holiday I went on there was a piss-on-floor incident and an incredible amount of angst over the children’s entertainment. None of that would come from an espresso and perhaps a croissant on a terrace or even a MDMA fuelled spontaneous trip to Dublin, I don’t know. You don’t need the safety of a herd when you have the best wing-man that you can have. The voice in your head that says ‘yeah, fuck it, allons-y’ like slightly tipsy David Tennant’s Doctor.

Eating Alone

Snowflake

Isn’t it just abysmal to be normal? On my first day of secondary school I remember my mother telling me just to fit in and it’ll be fine. It was totally opposite to what I should have heard or perhaps want to now being the advice that Hank Moody gave to his daughter in Californication, as the eponymous song lyric goes, ‘don’t be another brick in the wall’. I can gladly say, I’ve never been that with or without someone telling me so. Conforming down to its most fundamental of wearing a uniform at school made me want to hang myself with the damn thing.

Maybe that’s why I like many people find themselves bored more often than not with the state of everything because it’s so damn samey and cliché like a Britain’s Got Talent tear-jerking back story. It’s unfortunate too that those who actively try to stand out blend in the same like the emo and punk sub-cultures. I find myself becoming another angsty turd at times which indicts an incredible amount of self-loathing that perhaps affects nearly everyone who holds a little bit of contempt for the hordes of high street zombies you see.

The constant infinite cycle of monotony makes me want to tear my eyes out but on occasion I find people who share my view. Unfortunately, nine-out-of-ten of these people are just the worst people imaginable or batshit crazy or both. Yet in those strange and rarer moments, that one is the one worth hanging around on this tiny rock of ours.

That’s an unusually hopeful statement but there you go. It’s like being a prospector in the gold rush, just sifting through the dregs in the river.  Many do give up and assign themselves to live a lie under the banner of whatever or whoever makes us compromise the least. I wish I could do that but a reason for a falling number of friends is because I’ve always struggled to compromise on anything at all. Call it a blend of Napoleon-syndrome and being an only child filled with individualism going through a school system that endorses bipartisanship and anti-libertarianism at every turn. Maybe I am alone in that and I’m just another special snowflake. Yet isn’t that the point of being individualistic?

It’s another mental minefield that I find myself in because simply the nature of asking the question makes me hate myself for having to. When someone says snowflake in reference to a person, I imagine – perhaps like many others – the androgynous vegan, chain smoker who enjoys Jake Bugg’s music and anything with quinoa. It’s not quite what I see in a mirror, primarily because I don’t have the funds for those Lucky Strikes and being a vegan seems almost as bad as having to live with one in university halls.

Snowflake