Monthly Archives: February 2014

No offence, but…

lonely_shinjiI said last year that I’m happy to be a minority of one, but I wonder whether it can go to far and I can drive others away entirely, without even meaning to.  And, to make matters worse, it might be a family trait…

Let’s start with recent events: I seem to have managed to put two women off me with, in both cases, a single comment.  One is the Korean woman that I’d managed to see once; she cut her finger (or so she said) during her job at a florist on the day we were supposed to get together for the second time, and seemed put out when I texted her to ask whether she’d been thinking of me when she did it (i.e. she’d been daydreaming about me and got distracted); my apologies fell on deaf ears (or text-reading eyes), and I’ve not heard from her since, not even the courtesy of an “I’m not interested in seeing you any more”.

In the other case, the American woman of Japanese origin, with whom I thought I potentially had something, e-mailed me on Monday (in response to my asking her out again) to tell me what I did wrong.  Aside from the fact that she doesn’t want to hook up with a strict vegetarian (which, again, sounds like an excuse), she’d apparently taken umbrage when I’d expressed surprise at her height, saying that she wasn’t “petite” (as is usually the case for Oriental women), and felt my comment could be interpreted as saying she was “fat”, reminding me that Asians come in all shapes and sizes.  It’s always bizarre when someone tells you how you should behave towards the “next” potential date, and I almost burst out laughing when I read this message… because otherwise I’d have cried, considering the emotional investment I’d made even going to see her (at least it was confirmed that the thing had been a date, and that she wasn’t a married woman meeting a new friend).

Let’s not forget the American woman I messaged via a dating site back in the summer of 2012, who flew off the handle when I hesitated regarding phoning her up (she was “traditional” and had guys ring her before meeting); that wasn’t the end of the attempt, but it made me wonder whether I was better off not dating her if she could get so angry over an offhand comment.  But now I can’t help but consider the possibility that I just say stupid and unintentionally offensive things when I’m nervous…

(One positive thing I was able to draw from the previous two examples is that both of them were at least considering me from a dating perspective, something I’m finally getting used to now — as I said in my last post, going on one-off dates that don’t seem to lead anywhere is at least better than the utter nothing I had before!)

It’s not just potential girlfriends to whom I seem to say exactly the wrong thing.  A few years ago I managed to offend a friend and work colleague of someone very close to me (suffice to say, it was to do with the friend’s Brummy accent), who told me that I’d made their work life very difficult as a result.  Since I was planning to share a house with this person, but felt like I’d lost them as a friend, I felt utterly worthless and — for the first time in my life — seriously contemplated ending it all by means other than marching into the street and daring drivers not to brake.  Fortunately all was forgiven later (or at least my close friend never brought it up again, and there was no impediment to our house-sharing arrangement), but the memory of my almighty screw-up haunts me to this day.

My mother, bless ‘er, seems to face the same situation as me in her daily life — at work and at the gym, and it’s tearing her apart; I thus have to wonder whether we in our family are just “not on the same wavelength” as most of humanity.  I know that when we moved to Worthing, my friend told me I’d brought the bullying onto myself by insulting people when I first joined (I believe his exact words were “you dug yourself into a hole on your first day”), and to be honest, a lot of the time my teenaged classmates just didn’t get my sense of humour, something teachers noted as well.  I’ve also had a difficult work life, as it often takes me a while to adjust to new people, and even then I somehow offend those I actually like.  Not just this guy and this guy, but also someone I worked with in my HR days, who I certainly never meant to insult… well, I did, but only as far as making him laugh!

These last examples make me doubt that the problem is most people being stupid and taking offence at minor things; perhaps it’s more the case that the people I notice and have relationships with, i.e. the people who aren’t “normal” but instead are interesting and rise above the rest, are just as messed up and sociopathic as me, and thus we end up in petty squabbles when we should be working together.  My old “good housemate” reckons he has Asperger syndrome and thus can’t form close relationships with other humans or experience emotions the same way as others; I wonder if that’s actually the case for all “interesting” people, and that we’re all “minorities of one”.  Perhaps the most worthy relationships are the ones that can survive these constant tests (like the theory that best friends argue all the time).

Or (and here’s a wild idea), perhaps I’m reading too much into this and actually I’m a perfectly nice person, but still a little weird and nervous because of my long period of introvercy (which I’m only now recovering from), and I’ll get better at my human interactions with a little more practice, learn when to keep my mouth shut and stop putting girls off me after one date.  And perhaps my mother’s just stuck living and working in a dismal area full of boring, petty people that aren’t good enough for her, and she needs to escape; this is something I hope we can work towards in 2014, as I’d be delighted not to have to go all the way to Worthing to visit home (especially since it’s, you know, Worthing).

I know one thing: I’ll have found the girl of my dreams if I manage not to offend her in the first three dates!

Changing plans


“All the books I need… all the books I’ll ever want!”

At least one of my big plans for 2014 needs to be modified: it’s going to be harder than I thought to part with all my paperbacks (not to mention my back issues of Private Eye), as the “people’s library” in Barnet (the one reopened by grass roots guerilla action, and grudgingly accepted by our corrupt council) doesn’t want any more books, unless they’re children’s books.

Fortunately, the main books I want to… sorry, of which myself to rid I want are the ridiculously heavy MCSE text books I got in 2010, when I was doing that course; sadly I’ve never really used them, and they won’t be useful now because they concern Server 2003 and I’ll be learning about Server 2008 (or indeed Server 2008 R2) in my course and “on the job”.  I remember buying a narrow (half-width) bookcase especially for them… which now houses my vast collection of Doctor Who DVDs.  Oh, sorry, I’m rambling: anyway, I’m planning to take the books in question to work for a “give and take” event, in the hope that someone there will be interested in obsolete server configuration (and strong enough to carry them home!), because I hate to see books go to waste — that’s why I didn’t want to give my paperbacks to charity, as they’d just sit on a shelf until Doomsday, along with all the others that have been there since the late 1960s.

This isn’t the only plan I’ve had to change: I said before I’d be staying at home last week and studying, didn’t I?  Well, guess what, I ended up having two dates, which threw a spanner in my study schedule (and also meant I had no time to play the guitar at all).  What’s that, your humble narrator complaining about having dates?  Of course not — admittedly the first one (yet another girl who asked me out through that same website) was someone with whom I felt no sexual chemistry, and the second (the American woman of Japanese origin I mentioned before), while pleasant company, may need considerable work in order to lead to a romance; but at least I’m out there searching now, instead of (as used to be the case in the bad old days) sitting at home every night wishing the girl of my dreams would come into my life, presumably via some form of teleportation.

(Or perhaps via climbing?  There’s another cute American Oriental girl who comes occasionally, and I really wish I’d asked “best mate” to be my wingman and distract her climbing partner, who was also Irish, instead of just politely high-fiving her!)

Not all my plans have failed, of course: my decluttering continues apace.  It’s telling that I bought a couple of expensive things in 2011 (an Ethernet NAS box and an elaborate USB steering wheel) that I’m now looking to sell — once again, it’s me trying to part with an unhappy past.  The NAS box is useless since it’s not wireless (and I’ve got a USB 3.0 interface for SATA hard drives anyway), and the steering wheel can’t be clamped to my new computer desk due to the “lip” on the keyboard shelf (and there’s no room underneath for the pedals anyway), so what use in keeping them?

I also sold my battered old Atari Lynx hand-held games console, and five games, to a shop in Streatham (“best mate” drove me there almost exactly a year after our first visit), for a surprising figure: more than zero!  My only concern is whether whoever buys it gets sick, as I did four years ago when I first brought it to London and came down with gastroenteritis (possibly a mutated cold, since I used to play Xenophobe on it while bedridden during my school days)?

Back on the subject of books, I am at least buying e-books now (surprisingly a lot of them are cheaper on Kindle than in bookshops — especially that collection of Arthur C. Clarke short stories, which was a fiver instead of £15!), and have passed a milestone: my first Discworld novel on Kindle, Unseen Academicals.  I suspect I shall do the same with the works of Terry Pratchett as I plan for my Stephen King collection (who I intend to read in order): buy ones I don’t have on Kindle, and read the ones I already have in paperback form.  This won’t be a problem because I have, ever since reading Judge Dredd collected comics in 2010, been reading something different at bedtime than during the day, and so I’ll continue reading one book on my phone during my commute (and possibly at work, if I ever finish studying at lunchtimes), and Pratchett or King at bedtime in paper or e-book format.  But perhaps that plan will change as well, when I realise how ludicrous it is to be reading two things at the same time…

(Hey, it’s better than all the people who read “nothing” at bedtime, right?)

And speaking of bedtime, that’s about now for me — I’ve got a busy week ahead, with not only new meetup events to attend, and a weekend which will see me cheering for my mother as she takes on a gruelling assault course (a dress rehearsal for Tough Mudder), but I’ve also got to lug those damn textbooks to work!  And nothing’s gonna interfere with my plan to see my personal torturer (back from holiday) on Friday, and listen to Gwar’s War Party on the bus…

Time passes…

Within the first two days she uttered to me the actual words said by Wen upon understanding the true nature of Time!  It was when I asked for a reduced rate because of course I did not sleep in a bed, and she said, “I was not born yesterday, Mr.Tze!”
–Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

It’s been altogether too long since I wrote some ill-formed thoughts down in my blog, so, er, here goes.  Like I keep saying, I never seem to have time for things any more, but tonight being my weekly “night off”, I decided I’d force myself.  Not because I have anything to report in terms of my ten goals for 2014 (though I am at least reading e-books, studying Windows 7 and seeing someone for the second time tomorrow night, depending on your definition of “seeing”), but because, well, I’ve been re-reading my old diary (the one I’ve been writing since 1992), and now that I’m up to the post-postgrad era of my life, where I wrote short (single-paragraph) daily entries from 2005 up to 2011, it’s really hit me just how long I’ve been alive in this world… and how very different I am to how I’ve been in the past.

Think about it: am I the same person who used to eat heavily and get sick all the time?  Am I the same person who dreamed of being an astrophysicist — or, earlier, a volcanologist — and saving lives?  Am I the same person who, even before that, just wanted to stay at home and watch Doctor Who videos (leaving aside the march of technology and the death of VHS)?  Am I the same person who hated alcohol and the notion of sex outside marriage, who couldn’t listen to music with swearwords in, who thoughts girls were yucky, who watched cartoons every Saturday morning and looked forwards to Transformers and M.A.S.K. toys for his birthday?  Am I the same person whose best friends at primary school were a Japanese kid and a dyslexic kid?

Am I the same person who went to Florida three times with his mother, and to Michigan for eight months?  Am I even the same person who flew over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter last year, or who contemplated suicide in the preceding years, or who wanted nothing more than to write computer games and take the dog for a walk every day as a teenager?  Am I the same person who dated six women last year, and is he the same person who couldn’t even get talking to a woman on a dating site before that?  Am I the same person who watched The Big Breakfast every morning, including that day in February 1996 when they featured a crazy American thrash metal band called Gwar, and is he the same person who was later so offended by The Marshall Mathers LP that he wanted to tell his mother to take it back to the shop?  Am I the same person who thought vegetarians were stupid, and is he the same person who continued to eat Wine Gums and cheese containing animal rennet for years afterwards?

Well, I suppose the answer, in a doublethink kind of way (1984 is one of the e-books I’m reading at the moment), or possibly a Schrodinger’s Cat kind of way, is “yes/no”.  Thirty-six years is a long time, especially when you’ve got a good memory like wot I have, and the weight of my experiences sometimes scares me.  But it’s true to say that I’m not the man I once was, and tomorrow I won’t be the man I am now.

(No, don’t laugh, that’s me being metaphysical, not expressing confidence about any particular life-changing event happening — c’mon, I barely know her!)

Perhaps I spend too long looking back… yeah, I know, another amazing epiphany from the guy who is constantly surprised to discover he’s a partially insane sociopath.  However, it should be noted that my decluttering drive isn’t just an effort to reduce the amount of stuff I have to transport the next time I move house: I’ve also felt a certain relief by getting rid of things that remind me too much of the “bad old days”.  For example: since my dating coach got me to buy Vans, I was able to get rid of the ageing trainers I’d been wearing since buying them on that terrible yet wonderful day in November 2011 when I had my big breakdown.  It’s a shame in a way, because those shoes came to America with me last year, but I’m glad to be rid of ’em.  I’ve also sold a couple of things on, such as my original smartphone and the DAB alarm clock radio that annoyed me by going “bump” every night at 1am when it reset its time (though it always missed Daylight Savings changes, making it pointless).

I have a feeling I’m going to be selling Wii Fit Plus as well, simply because I think I’ve moved on beyond it in health terms after 400 days, and it’s getting rather frustrating that every night I seem to be hovering around 13st. and having to come up with another excuse for why I haven’t shed the pounds.  Yeah, I know, don’t shoot the messenger, but I hardly get to do the exercises any more anyway… well, I’ll try it out one last time next week, when I’m planning to take a bit of a break from going out in the evenings (this coincides with my personal torturer being on holiday), and instead play games and concentrate on my studies.  It’ll be a pleasure to not go out if there’s a Tube strike again, though (in exact contrast to late 2005) the Northern Line was the only one unaffected in last week’s strike, and the one due to happen this week was called off!

I’ve definitely got to study so I can pass my Windows 7 exam and thus begin the next phase of my life; I’m not anxious to do so, but time marches on, and I’ll have to face it sooner or later.  For now I just have to keep my head above water… yes, I’m glad I live in an area that hasn’t been flooded!  But one thing’s for certain: the guy posting in this blog tonight is someone you’ll never see again, and by the time I get around to posting something else, I’ll be a different person.  Especially if I keep up my current posting rate, apologies for the delay etc…