Worst January ever

Comic Book Guy

See? I don’t just refer to “Family Guy” and “American Dad!” all the time

I don’t mean this January wot we are in now, which so far has been fine — perhaps better and less depressing than any January I can remember since my teenage years; hopefully it will remain so in spite of the snow that’s about to hit us, though I’m sure I’ll be cursing the Northern Line tomorrow…

No, it’s January 2012 that I’m on about tonight: the month that could have driven me to suicide, made me a druggie, or worst of all, sent me back to live in Worthing with my family!  Now, recently I’ve been spending more time with my mother and enjoying climbing, going for walks etc., so it’s not “living with Mumsy” that would be the problem; rather, it’s that leaving London would mean giving up any hope of a decent life (or any kind of decently-paid job), and resigning myself to living in the dismal town where I spent those aforementioned teenage years (and also three years between graduation and postgraduate study), which my mother longs to escape.  I decided last year that even if my mother isn’t happy with her life, I’m going to try to enjoy my own life and find happiness, so that her sacrifices won’t have been in vain, and so she can live vicariously through me (and one day, $DEITY willing, she will be a grandmother!).

But in January 2012, my life quite seriously almost ended.  I’d had a lousy November and December for reasons I’ve already stated in this blog — my long-term “good housemate” was moving out and I was going through a depressive period culminating in “Twelve-Twelve” — but I’d tried to enjoy Christmas with my folks and forget my troubles.  Back in London for New Year, I was feeling low again thanks to my landlord, who had said he could get me into one of the studio flats in his portfolio (he apparently owns all the rental property in Caledonian Road) but was steadfastly refusing to actually show me any of this property, pleading some arcane rule about letting.  In fact, it was lucky he recommended I look elsewhere, for reasons I’ll get into presently…

And so it was, one month after “Twelve-Twelve”, that I arranged to view a studio flat in Camden, just to see what one would be like.  I was buoyed by my soon-to-be-former housemate’s one-bedroom flat, and had high hopes, even if it was something more expensive than I’d like… but after a long, long wait on a cold and dark evening (I should have given up waiting for the estate agent), I saw two possible studio flats in the same building.  I remember seeing the first rom and thinking I should ask to see the bigger one, only to discover that it was the bigger one… somehow, the thought of living my entire life in a room with a kitchen in it, smelling eternally of beans-on-toast, filled me with a sense of horror, and I realised what a terrible mistake I’d almost made, and how little time I had left to begin my search from scratch!

As I went home, the end of my five-plus years in Caledonian Road really hit me, and I felt mounting panic that I was about to be left homeless — even the knowledge that, if the worst came to the worst, I could move back to Worthing didn’t make me feel any better.  I felt so low, I even looked up at my light fitting and wondered if it’d take my weight… but don’t worry, I didn’t try anything drastic, and when “good housemate” got home, he helped me start searching for a house-share with actual people.

Unfortunately, the damage was done: the following morning (Friday the 13th, appropriately enough), I awoke feeling horribly nauseous, and had to take the day (and then Monday) off work.  This, of course, meant I couldn’t go out and view potential places to live, and so I was stuck in the situation that my sickness prevented me from solving the problem that was making me sick in the first place!

The following week was even worse, as I was only able to see one place per night!  The first place would have involved living with an unemployed middle-aged man in an upstairs flat with filthy carpets (and I really, really hate those prepay “leccy” electricity meters, after having them in two previous houses); the second place would have been ideal, but wasn’t really “offered” to me, and it was only the following night after I’d seen a lousy third place in Colindale (protip: putting a double bed in a single room doesn’t make it a double room) that I received an eloquent reply to my desperate chasing texts: “Gone”.  That evening had been particularly stressful because I’d been buying packing boxes from Argos and had to get them home on the bus in time to go out again, and rushing around only added to my panic.  On the Thursday I saw a more local room, in a flat around the back of a house, and again it was no use (though it would have been nice to live with all those cats).

Finally, on Friday 20th January 2012,my nausea had gotten so bad that I had to see the doctor quack about it; he assured me I was just stressed over the house move, and not clinically depressed, and prescribed me diazepam.  Yes, the drug formerly known as Valium, which can cause serious problems in people suffering from depression!  After work that day, I went to view a room in Finchley; it didn’t start well, as the only reason I could go after work was because the guy moving out would be at home to let me in, since he worked nights and would be sleeping.  Still, the room was certainly big enough (though naively I thought I could get “good housemate’s” pool table in!), and being on the Northern Line was a bonus, so I texted the lady in charge of the household to say I was interested, hoping to keep it as an option.  In fact, she texted back while I was buying food to say I’d got it, and “welcome home”!

I didn’t feel better as such, but a weight began to lift from my mind, and a pinprick of light appeared at the end of the tunnel.  Over the following week (by which time “good housemate” had moved out entirely) I sorted out the contract, but the gap between my contract at Cally Road ending and the new room being free for me to move into posed a problem.  Fortunately, “good housemate” said I could kip on his settee for the intervening week, but what about my vast array of stuff?  I went to the landlord’s office to ask if I could keep it in the old place for a few days into February, and was greeted by the handyman; the first thing he said, with unaccountable smugness, was “he hasn’t got anywhere for you”, as though he was somehow happy or even triumphant that, as far as he knew, I was about to be made homeless!  Needless to say the landlord never got in touch with me one way or another, and it was lucky that my new housemate said I could keep my stuff in their living room that saved me from needing to use a storage place!

But January wasn’t over yet: the final weekend saw me giving a lot of stuff to the nearby charity shop (fortunately they accepted electrical goods, such as a lamp I’d stopped using and an old CRT monitor), moving my stuff to the new place (“good housemate” broke his nose when he hit his head helping me carry furniture to the truck), and… cleaning the house.  This is where “third housemate” really peed me off with his casual attitude, and even though I’d been strangely grateful for his presence in the house after “good housemate” moved out, I’d grown to loathe him over the previous year, and I was genuinely glad to see the back of him when he left for the last time.  It felt like a physical separation of life paths…

Staying at “good housemate’s” flat at the end of January and beginning of February wasn’t too bad, but the cold once again got to me, especially since he has electric heaters (which I hate almost as much as “leccy” meters).  However, we played Gears of War 2 nearly every night (being a PC fan, I’d never played it before — thanks, Gearbox, for screwing us after the first game!), and on Tuesday, 31st January 2012, we had Domino’s pizza… it’s worth noting that when I was walking to the Tube station on Wednesday morning, the first day of February, the Sun was shining up Bounds Green Road, and the day was starting with a glorious and unprecedented brightness that gladdened my heart.  I’d made it through a truly horrible experience, and I was still alive…

Yeah, I know it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to anyone before (I listen to the works of Eminem and wonder how on Earth he got through it all — Detroit, what a horrible place!), but to me it felt like the most horrible time of my life.  Perhaps, like the Ludovico treatment in A Clockwork Orange, the nausea I felt conditioned me to always feel horror if I had the same experiences again, and now, much like the protagonist in H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook”, I can’t see certain types of house on cold winter nights, or contemplate “normal” houses that have been perverted into studio flats, without the darkness gnawing at the edge of my consciousness.  Even the smell of beans-on-toast can bring back a ghost of the memory of that time.  I won’t give in to depression again, but it’s taken a lot for me to get over last January…

Still, let us not be downhearted: I’m alive, I didn’t get addicted to diazepam (I threw away the pills with “a certain wasteful symbolism”, as H.G. Wells put it in The War of the Worlds… enough citations for you in this blog entry?), and I didn’t have to quit my job, take a “career break” (it would have been difficult finding a new place in London when that came to an end!), move back to Worthing or live by myself in a dingy studio flat that could have become my tomb.  I’m stronger for the experience, and I’m now in a London borough where my hatred of corruption among the ruling class can be turned against the incompetent incumbents…

As a postcript, my latest friend is actually going through similar experiences a year after mine: he’s eternally stressed out because he needs to find a new place (though he’s not about to get thrown out, at least), he needs a new job before he runs out of money and has to go back to Ireland, and he’s taking diazepam just so he can sleep at night.  I’m doing my best to help him out by forwarding him job notifications from my workplace, and I hang out with him whenever I can.  He even told me tonight, as we were climbing, that he’d spent a long time as a recluse, only recently going out and enjoying himself; much like myself during 2011, you might say.  Well, now we hang out — in addition to climbing (which I won’t stop going on about, so stop moaning), last Friday we went bowling and to the cinema, and because the idiots turned the lights on ten minutes before the end of Texas Chainsaw 3D (it was my choice and I stand by it), we’ve got free tickets!

Here’s to January 2012: may it die a thousand deaths and rot in Hell for all eternity, and may it mark the end of the single worst time of my life!  Onwards and upwards…

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