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

A Vengeful Jack Russell

When stuck with a problem in our surroundings there have and always will be three options. They are: defiance, ignorance or apathy and finally, find pastures new. Unfortunately, all require some level of effort; even being ambivalent to it all since the problem will stick around like herpes and it’ll still kill the mood  – again, like herpes. I’m facing a problem right now and my fair adopted city of York seems like cross between a fish bowl and a prison cell. The company I used to keep has definitely come back to bite me in the arse like a vengeful Jack Russell.

The feeling of being totally trapped and spooked by shadows is something that’s universal through history and the uncomfortable air of it all marks the difference between existing and being allowed to live. That’s what it comes down to for me and perhaps others considering the unnecessary crushing cruelty of reality that seems to shit on you at every turn. It’s like reading an expensive academic textbook that has no good information in it, but you have to read it to make the most of your investment. Thinking about it, that analogy is a bit wishy-washy but the point stands. To make matters worse, in some cases, people who find themselves at the shit end of the stick will inadvertently create more problems for themselves trying to find that cure for their particular herpes, accidentally spreading it like peanut-butter in the shit sandwich of life.

A prime example of this is perhaps my own fuck up. In an attempt to ignore and be apathetic towards my situation, I’m realising that I have inadvertently alienated a good portion of the support network that I had which could have had helped me out of this grave that I’ve seemed to dug for myself. It’s probably too late to do anything about it and I’m going to have to take responsibility for that level of destruction. I can even trace back this whole situation to a poor decision back in October when I got myself into a relationship more toxic than the atmosphere on Venus. Self-realisation and responsibility for that is, in my opinion, a good first step and maybe that’s something for everyone to take away. Looking back and retracing your steps to the root of whatever problem is perhaps, the only true meaningful way of moving forward.

Admittedly, moving forward is always going to be an uphill battle where you’ll have shit raining from the heavens upon you but at least the first effort would have been made. Finding the motivation for the climb up the hill, or out of the grave, or whatever analogy you like is unfortunately, perhaps, the hardest part. Being miserable becomes habit and almost ritual, which is something you don’t learn about in those PSHE lessons in school. Thinking about it, maybe they did teach us but I couldn’t tell you the name of a single person who paid attention.

A Vengeful Jack Russell

Beyoncé Culture

I saw something that offended me terribly on Facebook the other night. It was that someone who I knew and someone who I cared about for a time just updated their status to being in a relationship. Reading this it definitely sounds like a personal admission of jealousy, yet honestly, it isn’t. This is an expression of sheer disappointment. Why is it, in my generation is everyone searching for ‘the one’ already? I mean, come on, people! It’s almost as if it’s a backwards step with everyone devolving into penguins trying to find life partners to keep our eggs warm than be the natural mammalian predators that we all are and do whatever and whoever we want for as long as possible. The problem isn’t a gender specific thing, I know plenty of men and women, and variations thereof, who I hear constantly whining about lack of a girlfriend or boyfriend. I for one, blame Beyoncé.

Everyone out there seems so hard to ‘put a ring on it’, and the young and free of the 21st Century are becoming far more traditional. I saw a study recently (don’t quote me on this, I saw it on Facebook) that said that this generation is having sex for the first time later and later than ever before. I’m seeing more and more documentaries pop-up akin to the sadly more and more common place 40-Year-Old Virgin. Strangely in the era of super-STDs, we also seem to be having an epidemic of sexual repression contrary to what the masses may think about young people – students in particular.

It could be that I generally associate with the particularly socially inept sect of my course, but I’d say most have never had a relationship yet alone slept with anyone. It’s a win for every worried parent about their child at university as well as a win for a budding comedy writer. Yet I’m worried about the personal development for these people and if they are to be a microcosm for young people in the UK in general, the future as well. Everyone’s living life in a strange sexless Hollyoaks storyline where those who embrace sexuality are often ostracised and relationships and romantic politics is the key to a happy life. Fuck that.

Unconsciously, we have, on the majority, waved goodbye to the free-loving of the sixties to usher in this new era of accidental repression. People are replacing human contact with more and more porn and body-pillows with anime girls on them, while simultaneously slagging off whatever sex won’t notice them sexually. On the other end of the spectrum we have the serial lady-killers and man-eaters who are frowned upon by nearly everyone so much so, that these people form packs that you can see a mile off. Even now, these people are pairing up like seahorses, something personified in total by the reality-TV train wreck, Love Island.

A prime example is being told by someone that they have commitment issues, only a week later being told that they love you. Obviously because I’m the idiot this happened to me and I had no idea what to say other than: ‘oh, that’s nice?’. I’ve never known a worse turn-off but apparently it works for others as the very same person just updated their Facebook relationship status. When did things become so unnecessarily complicated and all about commitment and feelings? The answer is August, 2009, the date ‘Single Ladies’ was released and infected the world with expectations of the instant gratification of saying yes to the purgatory of premature, long-term emotional and physical commitment.  Fuck you, Beyoncé, and your damn catchy song.

Beyoncé Culture

Humanity Market

I realised today after handing out my resumes with an unusual cheery demeanour that in a sense, no matter what job you are in or even if you are unemployed, we are all sales people.  Whether we are good or bad we are all individually pushing a product whether it be overpriced cinema tickets or ourselves to another human being – who perhaps, are selling that they are disinterested in what we have to say. Even the classic phrase ‘I’m not buying what you’re selling’ encapsulates everything about human life right now: whether we buy or sell.

Politicians are the perfect example of sales people in their human disguises to hide their true lizard appearance. Obviously besides that, they sell ideas and policies and speeches on a global scale making them perhaps the next evolution of your humble letting agent turd. Even Alex Jones of InfoWars is trying to sell you reality whatever the fuck it may be coming from him and I still can’t work out if he’s real or just a character like Keith Lemon or Borat. For example, earlier this year we had Theresa May selling the line – God knows why – ‘strong and stable’, a product which fell flat on its face and the people who sold it to her were promptly fired. So as Palpatine from Star Wars put it, ‘ironic’. Jeremy Corbyn isn’t doing too badly, only recently selling pints along with policies and socialist soundbites at Glastonbury.

The terrible, yet actually at times useful, Tinder is an example of people selling themselves en masse to other people for either the classic ‘good time not a long time’ or ‘something long term and serious’. Those four or five photos, description and a favourite song has led to perhaps the greatest open human market ever. It’s an actual manifestation of a clear late-stage capitalist society that we live in where literally even romance revolves around the act of selling and buying.

Maybe it’s not a totally recent thing and maybe as human beings we are all fundamentally buyers and sellers whether we choose to be or not. I’m out selling myself to potential employers for a job while perhaps a thousand years ago a nomad would sell themselves similarly to a chieftain to be a part of the tribe. Which by the way, is an excellent analogy that can be applied to anything like trying to convince the popular kids at school that you’re cool enough to sit with them.

So in conclusion, we are all prostitutes. Literally every time we open our mouths to tell an anecdote we are selling someone on that story for payment in respect, belief or anything. While there’s a taboo about being a sex worker and constant debate on whether or not it should be legal, the point, when you really think about it, is moot considering none of us are any different fundamentally. Whether you be an Evangelical priest or a nightclub owner we are all selling something and ourselves. No one is clean or exceptional in this massive thriving orgy we call human society. Just check out Tinder and see for yourself.

Humanity Market

Buckethead

So, the battle for net neutrality is waging in the US and while protected by EU legislation, I still look at it with the same look that you give to a fully-grown man passionately kissing a body pillow at comic con. It reads simply as ‘what the fuck’, which in this context isn’t even a question anymore it’s become simply a statement at both the man with his body pillow and the late stage capitalism we all find ourselves in. Having a television in the UK requires you to have an expensive licence to pay for the glorious BBC and in-part, Channel 4, and that alone makes me want to throw the thing out of the window to claim back the one-hundred-and-fifty-pound fee. Which in turn, makes me far more irritated by the fact –  as a hopeful immigrant to the US someday – that soon Americans will probably have to pay that bit extra if they want to go onto Facebook as part of some weird social media package lovingly brought to you by Comcast.

I was watching an interview with our lord and saviour Kevin Spacey when he said something to the effect of that sometimes he thought that the story lines in House of Cards were at times unbelievable, something he was proved wrong by the evolving political and social environment of the USA. It goes without saying that at some point that the strange satire is no longer restricted to the US and becomes a global thing where politics has become more of a scripted reality show than Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Just take a look at the recent UK election when Theresa May’s ‘strong and stable’ nation came crashing down and became the ‘coalition of chaos’ that she warned would happen if votes were cast for her rival. The night, for me, was summed up by the line-up from Mrs May’s own constituency where she stood on the same stage as actual Lord Buckethead who then dabbed.

Surely that’s the metaphor for our current political climate. Lord Buckethead dabbing gets thunderous laughter while Paul Ryan does the same in a bit to say ‘hello fellow kids’ and the reception is cringing faces. Every day a new scandal about the Trump family emerges from the woodwork and everyday people jump to defend him or attack him throwing around words like ‘libtard’ or ‘impeachment’. It’s got to a point where I find myself living in a Monty Python sketch and like The Meaning of Life, it’s starting to get old and drag, becoming more and more nonsensical.

I try not to talk about politics – try and fail. It’s a polarising subject mired in hatred and most importantly: irony. The irony most explicit comes from a single headline: ‘Donald Trump voter despairs as Mexican husband set to be deported’, courtesy of the Independent. Another nail in the coffin to demonstrate how darkly comic the world seemingly written and devised by the League of Gentlemen – just today I was asked by the barber, ‘are you local?’.

Buckethead

Venice, LA

The idea of living in Venice, LA, is becoming more and more attractive to me. Obviously, it’s another pipe dream like working in Hong Kong or being able to exist on a diet of mozzarella and deli meats and simultaneously have the body of any of the pricks on Love Island. It’s the perfect place for me to exist in my desired style of Hawaiian shirts and tan pants in a socially and environmentally acceptable setting. Northern England is a bit of a stickler for lack of sunshine. Plus, there’s always more choice on Netflix in the US.

Grass is always greener somewhere else and I’m sure I’ll still end up doing the same things that make the patch of turf appear greyish. Perhaps that’s similar for other people who have chosen to move to be ‘happier’ but end up the same. No matter where you go you’ll always be somewhat greyish not because of the place or its faults but your own. I for one could be in that California sun still playing Stellaris on my laptop for literal days on end, existing on noodles and take-out. Change of scenery never makes a person happier, a change of self does the trick.

Fuck that, right? I could have as much money as Bill Gates and still be sat on a yacht in an Ibiza bay playing Stellaris by myself being served the fucking noodles. Which is my right, being a product of years of personal development from being that toddler who ate everything to now. It’s everyone’s right to choose to do what they want to do all day every day. A life coach is just a superficial title for someone who’s judgemental and wants to change the world to their image. I’m not saying to those people who are life coaches that they should quit their jobs and learn to accept people for who they are because like I say, it’s your right to do whatever the hell you want to do. I couldn’t do it; most of the time I’d probably be rolling my eyes at the client for the nonsense being thrown at me, and the expectation that I have the secret knowledge to remedy it all.

Knowing full well that moving to Venice, LA, will perhaps not improve my state of mind or ability to eat as much deli meat as I want to, I still want to do it. Unfortunately, being strapped for cash as well as having my grandfather’s disapproving voice in my head has killed many a dream. Yet here I am, at the conclusion that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, the grass will always be greener in your own head but fuck it, it doesn’t hurt to see anyway. It’s time for us all to listen to that Nike advert for once and ‘just do it’, but just don’t expect the different sky to give us a totally different outlook.

Venice, LA

Death’s Digital Name

I had a nightmare about space, which is a first for me considering the usual bad dream consists of the woman I care for being roundly fucked while my grandfather scolds me for a bad school report. This cosmic odyssey  seemingly tried to tell me that no matter how much space we have to move and get away from each other, we’ll always feel choked. A strange notion considering that humans are supposedly herd creatures but now after feeling something that livid, it makes me wonder that perhaps we are inherently solitary.

In my life right now, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so quite literally alone yet contrastingly I’ve never felt so trapped within a fish bowl of what I can only understand to be my own creation. Perhaps this is a common feeling amongst the modern, 21st Century human being as we are all trapped within our own well documented lives available at the click of a mouse. Long gone are the days where we can move away to a new place and start anew because whether it be a horrific photo of us that our mothers post on fucking Facebook or incredible debt, something is always following us around. Is that a new notion or one as old as the universe itself and the grim reaper just does business under a different, digital name?

Of course, it’s an entirely hyperbolic thought but I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking a piece of me dies every time I go onto Twitter. Perhaps Perry Como’s ‘Killing Me Softly’ is more relevant in the Digital Era than we ever thought it could be while we swim around our own little goldfish bowls. It’s a cliché to say, yet it’s true: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result and if that doesn’t surmise human life, I don’t know what will. Like literal goldfish swimming around the bowl, repeating the same three seconds over and over expecting to find some new patch to make our own.

If we all hop into our dream convertible and drive into the sunset we would all find a place where no one would know our name. Yet the dream of true freedom would collapse entirely as soon as we access an ATM or that someone finds internet connection and discovers that you’re a former checkout assistant from Whittlesey. Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of a connected human kind destroys the idea of individualism and the freedom to be individualistic in a way that has forced us all into a mass hysteria, exploding in our pants at the thought of the new iPhone. Most employers in 2017 use social media to check out potential employees and fire current ones because their definition of humour differs – hooray for civil liberties.

Perhaps the most hopeful ending to any film I’ve ever seen is that of The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne is able to erase himself and Selina Kyle from everything using a ‘clean slate’ device. Even within the film, the writers note that the idea is ludicrous and the world today is far too small to truly start a new life, whatever the fuck that may entail. Yet it’s a thought that while wholly fanciful is perhaps the underlying dream ending for us all whether we be that mysterious stranger or a former checkout assistant. This is exactly why the final frontier is so attractive: it’s mysterious and endless and just out of reach so some arsehole somewhere hasn’t ruined it yet.

Death’s Digital Name