Catching Up/Shark Bait

The last few weeks have perhaps been the busiest in a long time. Which, to be honest, isn’t saying much considering that in the last month I’ve seemed to have lived more life than I have in a year. At long last, I got a job: bartending at a dive bar in York. While it is perhaps not the best place for someone with an already very limited faith in humanity and an addictive personality to boot, it’s been surprisingly one of the best things I’ve done. So far being the ‘Shark Bait’, I’ve been referenced to as the ‘otter’ and as of yet, I can’t seem to work out if it’s in reference to my love of smooth pebbles – if it is, I have no idea how my work mates would know about it – or, it’s just I’m too short and skinny to be a bear.

It’s going rather well, as a way to meet new people, learn how to make drinks and most importantly, get out of the fucking house. That last part is becoming a problem considering tonight and the last are the first two where I have been absent from the bar since I started working there, on or off shift. A part of me feels like it’s a rite of passage for everyone who works at a bar to become a little addicted to the atmosphere or at least any place where you enjoy working. As someone who has only ever been a prefect or a pot-washer for six weeks, its strangely refreshing, terrifying and brilliant. It seems that every shift is like a slide at a water park: lots of build up; an uneasy gut before the rush; bemused life guards who know what you’re in for and then, wham. A torrent of drunk customers needing ID checks, cocktails, jaeger-bombs and a quick exit to throw up.  One thing is for sure: there are a lot of absolute wanker customers.

I took a break from the action last week and took a day trip to Leeds which I was told was the heart of sophisticated Yorkshire and I know now, to never trust a single lying word that comes out of that person’s mouth again. Despite the grandeur of the metropolitan city; the bustle reinforced by the difficulty getting an Uber to the station; and the endless fucking Starbucks outlets, the Wagamamas there does a real shitty job of a teriyaki soba. I’ve spoken about greener grass before and how in fact there is no such thing as greener grass and it’s all a self-serving fallacy, something wholly reinforced by how disillusioned I was with the place. While my friends claim that ‘it’s the best for a night out’, I don’t think you can beat a familiar gin and tonic in the bar you work at with people you can actually talk to.

While I have been busy and am set to be busier with university work, I hope to get more involved in writing. Every day that has passed and I haven’t exposed my whiny bullshit to the world, I feel like a bad Catholic guiltily glancing at the confessional booth. Which ironically, as an agnostic in a spiritual if not Catholic family, hopping from one existential crisis to the next, is exactly me. On the positive, the time I no longer have is being filled by actual real life not just festering in my room getting angry at things I have no control over.  Still, I can’t pull a good pint to save my life – all froth no ale. Also, did I just coin a new idiom? I’ll be throwing that one about the bar that’s for sure.

‘Shark Bait’ for the win.

Catching Up/Shark Bait

Home

I’ve returned to York which, while something not wholly interesting, is a personal standout for me considering the strange conclusion that I’ve come to revolving around one word: home. I was walking just last night through the mish-mash of medieval architecture, and overtly pretentious restaurants and realised that it’s for me. Despite the fucking hipsters and old people fighting for dominance on the high street, I’ve come to see it as my patch. It’s also a self-declaration that that last thing I want to do, is go back to my old world that Nigel Farage lovingly donned a slum. He was making a comment in particular about the EU migrant influx but if you ignore that context and look at the large city and the entirety of its population, he’s not far off right.

On the down side, my new housemates just accosted me in the living room, demanding I pay money towards a sound bar that I didn’t want or need. The bastards woke me up this morning as they played ‘Misty Mountains’ from The Hobbit on full blast. While I may be living with a bunch of fucking nerds making me continue to consider my connection to reality as whole, the realisation of stability is weirdly comforting.

Recently, I’ve been writing less considering I tend to only write when something has really irritated me or somewhat given me pause to think about how while things are good, something is irritating me. Maybe they’ll come a time where my passion for ranting and aversion to healthy clinical therapy will fade away like tacky shot transition in the Star Wars prequels.

And just like that, the dream is shattered.

There’s an abundance of noise from downstairs. My housemate is doing impressions with a bike helmet. I miss the days of loneliness when no one was here for six weeks and the house was silent and I wasn’t bitched at about paying a tenner for an unwanted sound bar. While it may have been a fucking deal down from two-hundred pounds to sixty, Irritating Flatmate No. 4, it was still sixty fucking pounds! When we all signed the contract, it was decided the house would function on consensus and now I feel more left out than a quadriplegic at Go Ape.

I, like many, am hopeful that things won’t get any worse yet remain realistic about lack of improvement. The dream of a tranquil home is shattered and as I type someone I banging on my door and shouting: ‘you’re quiet, are you dead?’. Fuck me.

Home

Change?

A few weeks ago, I was writing about how much I missed old friends and that we are like a family. Today, after spending only a few days with them, I want to tear my eyes out like Sam Neill in Event Horizon. People in general should avoid making purposefully stupid decisions and also avoid people they don’t trust enough not to stop and think like The Office’s Dwight Schrute, ‘would an idiot do that?’ and ‘not do that thing’. It’s just another stark reminder to me and should be to everyone else, that the things that used to bother us at school will be the same at university and those at university will be the same later in life. Rose tinted glasses of nostalgia only go so far to hiding the fact that your friend is a complete liability when drunk or that another needs more attention than a Tamagotchi or will die as such.

Life’s too short for people to change.

That’s the truth. It’s a double-edged sword since we all don’t have the time to waste in our tiny lives, so little to make room for actual fucking character development only possible through sudden and unexpected dilemmas that were unbelievable even in Lost. It’s the cancerous little optimist in me, being choked on the smog of the reality of human nature, that always expects to be surprised when I come home for a few days. I always assume that I won’t notice the utter bollocks that’s thrown at me or if I do, I’ll be able to dodge it with an unwavering false smile – I was never a very good actor in the first place. My own unwillingness to change and accept is perhaps a perfect example of my point.

In York, I’m becoming sick of people the same way I was sick of the people here and it’s almost as if my own unrealistic expectations of what makes a half-way decent human being are far too high. They probably are as perhaps it’s a case of personal neuroticism that makes me so wishy-washy towards people. I fully understand anyone to has searched for pastures new and ended up in the same place they were before like demented infinity loop. It’s a daunting and horrible feeling in the gut because it makes me wonder, what if there isn’t a place I like with people I like? It’s the disconnection from the rest of the world that is a wholly lonely feeling.

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of a connected Earth is accidentally alienating further the disconnected. Life without internet in 2017 is an inconvenience at best and isn’t that the perfect metaphor for connectivity to a human being? Boiled down to clicking ‘like’ on a mildly funny Facebook post. Is the lack of a ‘dislike’ button more telling than the presence of a ‘like’? Maybe if we did have one, our self-destructive nature would see the ‘dislike’ turned into a declaration of war and those community notice boards on Facebook would turn into battlegrounds. Would poppies bloom from our screens out of the ruined soils of the digital no-mans-land?

That was possibly a bit of a tangent but the point still stands. Is it those who see people for who they really are the ones who end up alone? I for one don’t buy into the hopeful modern-day morality plays that Hollywood keeps pumping out. In our limited existences change is totally futile because the changes we make to ourselves or hope others will make have such an equally limited effect on the landscape of our own history, hell, even human history. Let’s all through away that totally misleading optimist in us and all that hope that leads to nothing but disappointment and subsequent frustration in people. We should all be able to stand up, and firmly say with confidence and absolution to those unchanging people: ‘you guys are fucking annoying’.

Change?

Taxi

For the past few days I’ve been entertaining family who stayed here in York. Out of that time, the stand out moment was when a taxi driver expressed his dismay at another driver not moving when the traffic light turned green. His words were ‘you couldn’t make it up’, ‘you couldn’t write this’, ‘this is something absolutely unbelievable’ and my personal favourite, ‘from being a taxi driver for twenty years, I’m still stunned at how incredible drivers can be’. My take-away from his apparent level of shock was: Christ, you must have a really boring fucking life.

It was depressing it really was and that became so ‘incredible’ that I forgot about the initial annoyance I felt from having to wait for the driver in front to move. Moments like that remind me of why I came to university in the first place. It wasn’t to get a meaningful degree or to make some kind of impassioned difference in the world, it was to make sure that I had somewhere to go that wasn’t working a similar nine-to-five where some prick driver becomes something ‘you couldn’t write’. I’m up to my neck in debt and I think it’s a fair trade off because otherwise I’d be stuck in a dead-end town that Nigel Farage called a slum, working with my mother and step-father in a regional based vending machine company – quite possibly coming home every day complaining about how much of a bitch Carol is like they have for fifteen years.

I haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked recently perhaps waiting for some sort of inspiration without realising that I always have something to write about. That being every time I walk down the street, sit down in lecture, hell, buy an overpriced hot chocolate from Costa, I’m reminded that I’m not back home. It’s not being stuck in a purgatory made normality. Understandably, it makes me sound like a prick with a superiority complex the size of the US national deficit, but is that not the whole point of ambition whether it be to win The Apprentice or just to be able to live a life of one’s own choosing?

My mother keeps telling me to remember where I come from like every other clichéd escapist story who has left home to find pastures new. Yet I like every other cliché will be eating my words the day the debt accumulated by that ambition will land me in a nine-to-five. To be fair, from what I hear, Carol is a massive pain in the arse.

Taxi

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

Trust

The downfall of all relationships fundamentally, is lack of trust or unrequited trust. Are any of us to blame to not trust someone else with ourselves when we are most exposed? Throughout human history and our own personal histories, there are a plethora of examples to why trusting someone is a stupid idea. Most recently an example that sticks out in my mind is Michelle Carter convincing her vulnerable boyfriend to kill himself. Let’s look at the bigger picture and take a look at Jeremy Corbyn who alluded to quashing student debt only to U-turn on breakfast television. It’s the constant battle between committing to people or person versus self-serving desires. In the case of Jeremy Corbyn, it’s saving his own skin and, in the case of Michelle Carter it’s quite probably an underlying control issue with a splash of psychopathy.

You can’t enter a relationship or elevate a relationship without first trusting someone but doing that you have to be accepting of the fact that trust is not unbreakable. I know someone who is wrestling with the words ‘love’ and ‘trust’ because they are both not mutually exclusive but intrinsically connected as ‘love’ can’t flourish without a solid foundation of ‘trust’. Personally, every time they say it, it makes me cringe and roll my eyes because the very concept of love is in itself, a fallacy created by romantic poets and perpetuated by greetings card companies. Unfortunately, until you can work out at least one of those concepts and whether you buy into it for the object of your affection, there can be no foundation.

As someone who spends their time as the beleaguered side-character in someone else’s movie, I find myself spending most of my time now, clearing up the shit made by words like ‘trust’ and ‘love’ or both. What I find is that people don’t understand that you can’t trust someone else until you start to trust yourself – look at me go, like RuPaul – with the things you expect of others. Yet, maybe there’s people out there who need someone to lean on to be able to begin to trust themselves with even the smallest things like making sure they haven’t lost their phone or are wearing trousers before they leave the house. Personally, I don’t see that as a good start to any relationship, romantic or otherwise, because that’s just parenting plain and simple. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of children yet more and more it’s like the world is just an enormous play group. Everyone is just scrabbling about for the best pens in the box and desperately trying to pair up with someone to hold hands with because that’s how it works in fucking Disney movies. Then, the dream of magic carpet rides collapses when you find out that the kid you’re holding hands with has secretly been helping themselves to your favourite crayons.

It’s an unfortunate shit sandwich that we all need to accept to both spare ourselves and my nights awake going around in circles with people. Most of the time, trust isn’t based in truth but irrationality and the pedestal we put others on rather than the lines we set for ourselves. Fundamentally, now and always, to prevent constant repeats of history, we need to first set our own standards of trust and – fuck it – love to hold others and ourselves to the mark. Obviously, it’d be easier for humans to be inherently trustworthy and self-less creatures in the first place, but that’s just wishful thinking.

Trust