Monthly Archives: March 2014

Looking back to looking forward

(Right, let’s see if I can make up for hardly writing in this blog all year by writing something every night this week?)

At the weekend I was visiting my folks in Worthing, and as I walked with my mother along the seafront and back again home, it occurred to me that we’d done virtually the same walk eighteen years ago in 1996, during the Easter holidays, not long before my final term at school (and thus my A-level exams) began.  I don’t remember what we discussed back then, or even whether I petted any dogs (since we had one at home anyway), but it’s weird how many things are similar to the spring of 1996 for me, yet how many things are different from my life when I was half my current age…

Back then, of course, I wasn’t happy with my life: I’d just started trying to get a girlfriend, which turned out to be a futile pursuit as my school was rather small, and I lived in a retirement town with nowhere to go other than “the pub”, and thus I was perhaps even more miserable than the average bloke (I remember on the preceding field trip to France, my male classmates came to a consensus: “Never mind the sex, I just want a woman!”), because at that stage I hadn’t even kissed a girl, or been on anything remotely resembling a date, and the constant mantra from female classmates that “there’ll be lots of nice girls at university” didn’t alleviate my sexual frustration (and nor would it if I’d known just what a crock that was, since I didn’t get a girlfriend until late 1998 when I was in a different damn country!).

I had to wait patiently for university, not even knowing if that would solve all my problems, but just wanting a change in my life.  My loathing of my home town grew with each day I was condemned to do basically nothing fun, and studying for my A-levels didn’t exactly help.  On the other hand, I had a roof over my head and food on the table (I also wasn’t vegetarian at the time and so didn’t have to worry about my diet), and my grandfather was still alive, as was our dog Scraps (albeit increasingly aged and decrepit).

Fast forward to 2014: yes, I’m still sexually frustrated (hence aim no.1 for 2014), and while I’ve made some semblance of progress, going on a number of dates with actual women and meeting them at social events, I’ve now got the problem of “keeping” a girl, i.e. getting to a second date or beyond.  This is all stuff I should have learned back then, but there was just… no way at that school that I could ever have dated anyone; at the time, having seen a movie called Peyton Place, I began to wonder if it was just the kind of place where everyone knows and judges you even if you’ve never met them, and assumes the worst about you.  I was probably being paranoid, but it felt like the one disastrous attempt I made to ask a girl out made me appear to be a loser in a lot of people’s eyes — so I’m better off in London, where I can be relatively anonymous, and (hopefully) learn from my mistakes without totally blowing my chances with anyone, anywhere, ever.

As in 1996, I’m once again waiting patiently for a major change in my life, and one which may take me to another part of the country: rather than a university course that I now regret (for all that helps), it’s entry into the career I should have been hoping for back then.  However, in this situation it’s my current job and the necessity of waiting to be made redundant that’s holding me back, not to mention the difficulty of arranging an exam in Windows 7 when the company has my details wrong and can’t fix their website so I can correct them!  Eighteen years ago I’d made all the necessary arrangements for university and just had to not totally botch my A-level exams, which left me a lot of time to brood (and count the hours, minutes, seconds until I went — I wrote a program on my Psion 3a… oh, sorry!); now, I’ve got so much else going on in my life that I only have time to brood when I’m at work and feeling bored…

Going to university in 1996 was an adventure I could endure because all my “stuff” was safe back in Worthing with only the essentials (such as my Amstrad) coming with me to the Greater London area; now, in 2014, a house move is a much more daunting prospect, especially after the horrible time I had of it in January 2012!  I’ve still got loads of books (though I may just put my back issues of Private Eye on Gumtree etc., as I can’t really justify the space they take up any more), but at least with things packed into boxes, it won’t be such a rush this time around.  I also have no idea where I’ll need to go, or when, which in a way means I can relax for the time being, since there’s no use getting worked up just yet.

One interesting difference with 1996 is simply this: I no longer feel such resentment regarding Worthing, and indeed am quite happy to come home and visit my (surviving) folks whenever I can.  Why, I can even pet other people’s dogs on the seafront, to atone for the fact that Scraps left us many years ago and I’m not able to have a dog of my own for the time being.  It’s good to be home in the bosom (uh huh huh huh) of my family, and have my meals cooked and washing done by my grandmother, but it’s only because I’ve been away from home and had to live for myself that I’ve come to appreciate my family.  However, my mother is sick of Worthing and the fact that she has nothing to do there, which is why I want to help her move on; I guess it’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there…

Of course, in my darkest moments I’ve contemplated going back to live with my mother and grandmother in Worthing, and although I’m happy to live in London “for the duration”, I certainly don’t want to spend the rest of my life here either — London has really ground me down over the years, especially public transport and the general attitudes of its people (me included).  Well, we’ll just have to see what happens next…

Oh, and one final similarity with 1996: I’m watching Tom Baker’s Doctor Who stories on a weekly basis — but on DVD, with an episode each weeknight (well, four nights out of five unless it’s a six-parter), rather than on UK Gold in compilation form on Sunday mornings in my mother’s room!  Not quite lining up, but close enough to be interesting.  It’s like I said before: it’s all cycles… which reminds me, my old bicycle is still rotting under the back steps at home… I really should have sold it to someone before I came to London in 2003, shouldn’t I?

(And no, this isn’t an April Fool — it’s by the bye that I’m finally publishing it after midnight on the 1st of the month!)

Emerging from winter

Well, I made it through the cold: the weather’s finally turned, and I don’t need to worry about the heating any more (unless there’s another cold snap, which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility).  I don’t even mind losing an hour’s sleep, because I’ve been tired enough to sleep lately anyway… but it’s time for me to start catching up on some of my promises for 2014:

  • Although I go from strength to strength with my personal trainer, I don’t seem to be losing weight, or indeed discarding my love handles; hopefully this is a temporary situation (Easter isn’t helping — like I said, chocolate eggs keep ambushing me), and now that the cold is in retreat, I can shed the fat and become buff.  He wants me to be his regular Friday client, which is okay with me (hopefully I’ll be able to hang out with “best mate” afterwards, see a movie etc.).
  • I’m still stuck in the cycle of dating girls only once, or indeed meeting them initially at an event and then not seeing them again at all!  I can’t do too much socialising this week due to losing two evenings to webinars for my IT course, but I’ve got something on Monday evening, and maybe Thursday too, so we’ll see if I can put everything I’ve learned into action.  Either I’m a bad person, or there just aren’t any nice women out there (at least who are single)… which is a worse prospect?
  • Delays abound with my IT career, as I’m trying to get through to Promet– er, I mean, one of the two big IT exam companies, with whom I have an old account (the one I used to do A+ in 2011); they appear to have bugs with their software that mean I can’t update my phone number, and I don’t want them using my old number (which I’m planning to do away with entirely due to spam texts and unsolicited calls).  I’ll just have to keep studying, but I want to get Windows 7 out of the way, as I’m sick of not being able to read a book at lunchtime!
  • I’ve come to terms with Dave Brockie’s death: it’s not like the authorities are gonna come around and confiscate all my Gwar CDs, or that the songs won’t play on my phone any more!  It’s a shame he won’t be around to make another album, but I’ve still got four more albums to get through before I run out of the stuff he made — and maybe the other band members (Balsac, Jizmak, Beefcake and Pustulus) will recruit a new lead singer.  You never know, they might get Sexecutioner back in the band…
  • Although I undoubtedly won’t be able to afford to live here when I start working with IT (since I’ll be getting around £8,000 less (before tax) than I am now, at least for a while), I’m reluctant to move too far away: I’m happy going to the Castle, both to climb and to see my personal trainer (who’s also an Eminem/D12/Dr. Dre fan).  Much as I’d like to leave London some day and live in the suburbs, or even ditch the south-east of England entirely (oh, let’s be honest, I want to live in California, as does anyone else with any taste), this place is still part of my life, and any future home needs to grant me access there.  But I despise most of the north-east of London that I’ve been to, especially places on the Piccadilly and Victoria lines (including Caledonian Road, the place where my soul almost died), so where can I go?  At least with my books and DVDs in boxes, I won’t find it too difficult to pack up…

Yeah, it’s another generic “marking time” update, but I’ve not got much to say at the moment that I haven’t already said before — basically I’ve got to get things moving in the second quarter, or I’ll be stuck in this life longer than I want.  For better or worse, things have got to change…

The day the metal died

I saw Yig, he saw me
We’re together in dark conclavity!
–Gwar, “Horror of Yig” (Scumdogs of the Universe)

scumdogs

Oderus (second from right) has gone back home to Synth Womb 5 on the planet Scumdoggia, much as Flattus Maximus (left) returned to his home planet, Planet Home

Just a quick post tonight, but I wish it could be under more auspicious circumstances: I learned today that Dave Brockie, better known as Oderus Urungus, lead singer / lyricist (and sometime bassist) of Gwar, that band I’m always on about, died last night (very possibly when I was writing that bit in last night’s post about how my entire music listening cycle is based around my Gwar collection).  I don’t know what killed him, but I imagine it’d be not unrelated to spending the last 25 years jumping around on stage in a heavy latex costume rocking out, even at the age of 50 (and having smoked for much of his life).

I never met the guy, let alone got the chance to shake his hand or share a drink with him, but I’ve heard him speak, both as himself and as his Scumdog alter-ego, thanks to the magic of YouTube (which also enabled me to get into the band in the first place), and I thought he was a cool, cheerful guy who was still very much into his music and stage antics, and hadn’t “grown up” and become jaded.  By all accounts he was also rather scholarly (hence the frequent historical references in his songs, such as that bit about the SS atrocities at Malmedy in “Whargoul”, or the bit I mentioned at the end of this post).

How am I coping?  Well, frankly I’m upset by the news, which blindsided me on a quiet Monday morning (at least the death of Cory Smoot, a.k.a. Flattus Maximus, happened before I even got into the band).  Death is a natural consequence of life, and no-one lives forever, but as I said before, it sucks when someone I admire dies, though at least it’s not as bad as losing a relative or a close friend.  I lost Kenny Everett in 1995 without having had the nerve to write a fan letter to him, and now I’ve lost my chance to thank Gwar’s “front being” for making 2013 rock for me.  It was already a better year than 2011 or 2012 (which wouldn’t be hard), but being into a crazy thrash metal band that virtually no-one else in this country had even heard of gave me a certain thrill.

(Mind you, I doubt it’s given my mother much of a thrill to have me playing the band often referred to as “God, What an Awful Racket” in her car every other journey!)

However, it occurred to me that it would have been far, far worse if Eminem had been found dead, and that I wouldn’t have been able to get through the working day, even with a black armband.  This is because Shady’s music (yes, I know some of you don’t consider rap to be “music”, and your opinions have been noted and thrown away) helped me get through some bad times in my life, such as being fired from the Environment Agency in 2001, and I always think that I can carry on if he could get through the madness he’s endured.  Thus, I think I’m going to have to add another resolution to my little list: to write to Eminem and thank him for being my inspiration — before it’s too late…

Two other things: I’m more resolved to track down my father in case he too shuffles off this mortal coil before I have the chance, and I’m going to (at long, long last) do a “cool things” post about Gwar.  Maybe that’ll enable me to get it all out of my system and stop me going on about them all the time… (hah, as IF!)

The cycle is complete

anal_pratdirgeFinally I seem to be getting over my cold, but I can’t say for certain yet: there have been at least two other times I felt better, only for it to come back worse the next day, and the lady at work who gave it to me said that this was normal and had also happened to her and the person who gave it to her.  It’s been a nightmare, with me waking up with a sore throat every morning (sleep apnea caused by my nasal passages being eternally blocked?) — and the worst thing is, according to my 2012 diary, this happened two summers ago as well… but wasn’t I supposed to be healthy this year?  Indeed, and so I’ve resumed taking multivitamins, having stopped for a while owing to temporary madness (i.e. paying attention to tabloid headlines).  Maybe they “at best do nothing”, but if they’re placebos, they worked well enough in 2013, when I only had two colds (and one of those was abroad)!

My nasal passages haven’t been helped by the dust stirred up by a major cycle that took place today: I’ve moved around the furniture in my room, something I’d been planning for ages (possibly as much as a year), but which became opportune today when I was able to donate my one remaining bookcase to a housemate (there’s also a bigger, more ornate bookcase which came with the room that I’m still using).  I’ve packed loads of books I’ve already read over the past couple of years into boxes: all my Dune novels, everything by Peter F. Hamilton, and even my Discworld novels, as I’m now reading on my Kindle the ones I haven’t read before (starting with Unseen Academicals).  I’ve still got a lot of sorting through individual fiddly items to do, but frankly, once I’ve changed my bedclothes (since the current set will now be dusty), that’s it, I’m off to bed!

(One of the things I found today was my so-called “medicine bag”, containing various poltices and tinctures that I used to bring to work in 2011 and early 2012… including some IBS-reducing drugs prescribed by my doctor a week after that terrible day.  It was cathartic to throw them out, much like throwing out the diazepam at the end of January 2012, having not taken any!)

I’ve done this so I can have my computer by the window, just like I did when I was young and it was summer, so perhaps I should have waited until after the weather cycles through cold again during the coming week.  Much like the viral kind, cold seems to come at us in waves in this country (all down to, ahem, “global warming”, we’re told), and every time we think it’s over, it comes back again and forces us to fight over putting the heating on (and probably crash the control unit as well, meaning once again having to turn it off, wait a minute, turn it on, reset the time and reinput all the times for the hot water to turn on and off).

There’s one cycle that keeps repeating, and that’s just fine with me: I am of course talking about my music listening habits, and yes, this is the inevitable part of the blog post where I go on about Gwar for a bit.  There are various phases to my music at this stage of my life:

  1. Listen to all available music (sans skits and interludes) on phone (usually at work when the annoying woman won’t shut up).  Cheer any time a favourite Gwar track comes on (especially from Scumdogs of the Universe or America Must Be Destroyed, which were the original two for me).  While doing this, order the next Gwar album, listen to it on CD, and rip it to my computer and phone (without not yet adding it to the general playlist).
  2. Listen to latest Gwar album on phone (usually on the bus to the Castle).
  3. Listen to all Gwar music in shuffle mode, possibly more than once (depending on office noise level), noting the tracks from the newest album and becoming more familiar with them (though it takes a few listens to memorise the lyrics).
  4. (optional) Listen to another album (usually on the bus to the Castle, train to Worthing etc.) — this may be by Eminem, OutKast, N.W.A, D12, Nigel Planer etc. etc.
  5. Add latest Gwar tracks to the general playlist (along with any other albums recently purchased), and return to the start of the sequence.

What’s that word you keep muttering?  “Intervention”?  Don’t be silly, I can stop listening to Gwar any time I like.  Why, I’ve found myself singing Eminem songs at times… inasmuch as a rap can be “sung”, obviously (and I even spotted one of his recent songs playing in the cinema lobby last night… “Berzerk”, if you care).

Commuting has its phases: I go through periods of listening to music on the Tube, usually brought to an end by a period of reading on the Tube instead, be that either on smartphone or “dead tree” book.  I’m in the latter phase at the moment as I try to finish off my remaining Asimov paperbacks so they can all be archived as well, and after that it’s back to the convenience of e-books.  There was a period where I was exclusively watching Beavis and Butt-head during my commutes, but that won’t repeat for a while… though perhaps it’s time I rewatched Space Battleship Yamato again, it having been far too long (two years) since the last time…

One cycle I’m hoping I can bring to an end soon is that of studying for Windows 7 and taking mock exams — it’s time to do the thing for real, and stop wussing out all the time, otherwise I’ll never get into IT.  Another is my weight constantly fluctuating around 13 stone; I’m not convinced I’m up in weight at the moment due to muscular development (though it’s certainly true that I’ve maintained capability during the unpleasantness), but more due to winter fat retention combined with the fact that it’s the period leading up to Easter, and thus chocolate eggs are in abundance.  Those things are treacherous, and frequently ambush me!

There’s also the cycle of going on one date with a girl and then never seeing her again; my dating coach reckons I can get back in touch with women I’ve not spoken to for ages, so I’ll try that out.  At least she gave me useful one bit of advice: if a woman’s agreed to meet with me alone when we’ve only met once before (e.g. at a Meetup.com event), it’s safe to assume she’s hoping for it to be a date, not just “two friends meeting up”… so a lot of the time, I’ve not been coming on strongly enough — I’ve been boring rather than scary!

Which also describes me now, so I’ll sign off for now and begin again the cycle of making you all wait for me to have something vaguely interesting to talk about in my blog.  Hey, remember when I said I’d stop writing it when my life was in order?  My failure to write very often thus suggests I’m getting close to that point, so here’s hoping…

What dreams may come

ad_nightmare

“Ahhh! Seagulls!!”

If there’s one thing I’ve managed to improve in my current life over my life as it was up until 2011… no, that’s a stupid opening line, there’s lots of things I’ve improved, I don’t doubt that for a second.  Let me rephrase: one thing I’ve improved, which has very probably helped the other things, is my sleeping pattern.  Ever since my second university course in 2003-4, until — at the earliest — 2011, my sleep was deeply troubled and often a futile experience, which seemed to be the result of, at various times and in various combinations:

  • Stress, especially over arguments;
  • Noisy housemates (having the room above the kitchen when we lived in Wood Green, for example);
  • Staying up much too late to watch Family Guy or play games;
  • Traffic on Caledonian Road (especially emergency services);
  • Burglar alarms (more rare, but certainly a contributing factor);
  • Eating too late in the evening (e.g. 8pm), and then just sitting there in front of TV/computer;
  • Caffeine, which even today remains the monkey on my back;
  • Depression, especially over my lack of romantic success (i.e. it’s another night alone);
  • Housemates getting lucky (which I think ought to be banned until it happens to me);
  • Going to bed altogether too late, and not “winding down” in time.

Now, a lot of these things would make sleep impossible for most people on one night every so often, but these things all contributed to me almost never having a good night’s sleep, waking up the following morning and dozing through Chris Moyles’ show on Radio 1 and dragging myself to work, usually late.

(It is, however, worth mentioning that in my half-awake state I frequently correctly worked out anagrams in the “Rob DJ Monday Night Pop Quiz” on Tuesday mornings, such as “Halt, Really A Brothel” = “The Royal Albert Hall”!  Perhaps I’m a genius when I’m not fully awake?)

Starting in 2011, I made myself take my showers in the evenings instead of just before work, which not only meant I wasn’t late so much (especially since it meant I wasn’t doing it at the same time as “good housemate”, who always ended up stealing the water pressure in the other shower); I also began re-reading the entire series of Discworld novels (but this time in order, instead of the piecemeal way I’d bought them over the years), in the hope that reading something familiar would help me sleep better than reading something brand new.  Obviously moving away from Caledonian Road (and noisy “bad housemate”) in 2012 helped considerably, and so today I can sleep properly, at least when I’m not staying up late to write blog entries like this one.  Oh, damn!

A noteworthy side effect of my tortured sleeping patterns in the period approximately 2003 to 2011 is that I had some particularly strange dreams.  And not just during the night: back at university during my postgrad course, I remember half-waking one morning to hear “Fit But You Know It” by The Streets on my alarm clock radio, and dreamed I was desperately trying to turn the radio off but to no avail, because the world’s most uninspiring rapper just wouldn’t STOP!  I also often had nightmares about living in a house that’s collapsing or leaking (or even being invaded by thuggish teenagers), but one night at university I imagined that everyone was smashing up our residence from within (not unlike that dream Bart Simpson had once), and I even saw Chinese students looking up from a hole in the floor, having subconsciously remembered that they were in the flat below!

Some dreams have involved strange journeys, such as realising my Geology field trip had left me behind as it rapidly criss-crossed Britain, or one dream many years ago which almost uncannily seemed to predict events in my May 2013 American holiday (specifically at Yosemite, where we lost some of our party temporarily during a downpour).  I really hope the dream about falling down and calling for a rescue helicopter doesn’t come true (especially if it again turns out that I’m back safely and so need to phone again to cancel it)!  There was also that dream where I’d been invited back to Michigan just to help my old U-of-M roommate move his stuff out of his dorm, but worried about whether I’d get back to Blighty in time to do the same with my own stuff… where did that come from?!

There are also night terrors, where you wake up paralysed and utterly convinced something evil is nearby; I have them occasionally, and getting scared by Ghostwatch probably didn’t help, but I recall one in particular, where I was truly afraid that Bishop Brennan from Father Ted was about to burst into my room and shout at me!  On another occasion, in 2010, I dreamed I was in a coma in hospital (yes, really) and that my grandmother was tucking me in, but then she whispered something to me: not “come back, we miss you”, but “remember your hair”… WHAT?!

Illness causes strange visions (my mother confirms this) — as a child I would see my room divided into a three-dimensional grid, and feel I had to work out the exact volume or I wouldn’t make it; in later years this evolved into building a dam or get a space colony working again, or even playing one of the Assassin’s Creed games… and we’ll gloss over the time I ended up with 2Pac reciting Astrophysics-related equations keeping me awake one night during exam revision.  But oh, the time I awoke to hear “good housemate” coming into my room, saying my name tauntingly, as though he were about to… well, thank $DEITY I woke up properly after that, and didn’t wake him up in the room downstairs by screaming!

Sometimes dreams are poignant, such as dreaming that someone close has died, but I still remember dreaming that “female best friend” was walking away, apparently forlorn, from what I can only conclude was a paintballing match I was involved in, and feeling desperately sad because I thought she was leaving us forever!  I even put together supplies so I could go and search the wilderness for her, but then, er, she turned up fine.  Mind you, another time I recall her crying in my dream because she missed “them”, after I’d fought my way through Nazis (?) to reach her (very likely that part was inspired by the original Call of Duty, even down to the MP-43 rifles!).

My mother tells me she sometimes dreams that our dog, Scraps, is sleeping with her and barking softly like she used to; I too have dreamed of our beloved dog many times (as you can tell, I miss her), but one time was particularly weird: apparently she was famous, and had appeared in a Star Trek video game — but only her voice, because she had a “body double”!  She wasn’t the only animal to feature, however: when I had rodent problems in my room, I dreamed that I’d caught the mouse and put him in a cage, and that he spoke with an American accent (no, I don’t remember if he sounded like Michael J. Fox), and asked me to let him go.

darktower

Roland once said that dreams are either foretellings, or just random nonsense. Which do my dreams generally count as, I wonder?

And then there was the dream of meeting Oy the billy-bumbler (from the Dark Tower novels) in a strange (and not unpopulated) maze, and then sitting with him in my lap while Captain Janeway (from Star Trek: Voyager) gave a rousing speech to me and my companions… my reading and TV-watching habits were clearly driving me insane in 2008!  It wasn’t the only time I dreamed of the Dark Tower series, which has had something of a profound effect upon me; I even dreamed I was about to fight alongside Roland of Gilead and his fellow Gunslingers, and was e-mailing my mother to ask her to publish my diary if I didn’t make it back alive… (which is actually a real pledge, Mumsy, if you’re reading!)  That’s assuming, of course, that all those dreams about writing “over” my diary don’t come to pass…

Even though I sleep relatively untroubled now, occasionally I dream something particularly weird, especially when sleeping at my folks’ home in Worthing.  One time in 2012 I dreamed I was a cop and shot Roger the Alien from American Dad!, apparently in order to help him fake his own death (or that of one of his many, many assumed personas).  There was also the one from the night before I wrote this post, when I’d just listened to Gwar’s America Must Be Destroyed for the first time (pay attention, I’m not just mentioning them gratuitously this time), I dreamed that I was being swallowed by a giant T.rex, likely inspired by the artwork of Gor-Gor on the aforementioned CD, and then falling down a long, deep shaft, not unlike the player’s experience in the game Call of Cthulhu entering the Deep Ones’ colony beneath Devil’s Reef, and there encountered a sinister group of people led by Christopher Lee, presumably a memory of The Wicker Man (don’t ask “which version”, clearly only one actually exists).  Since that happened just before my foolish anger almost destroyed an expensive wardrobe that Mumsy and I were attempting to build, draw your own conclusions about plunging downwards into despair…

(Don’t worry, that’s the closest I’ve ever come to dreaming about Gwar, even when I’ve put their music on as a lullaby!)

So, you guys have kept me awake tonight; I wonder what I’ll dream about now… girls, hopefully.  Or maybe I’ll dream about this post and curse because I’ll remember something I didn’t write down when I had the chance!  Well, enough already, I need to sleep… good night, and pleasant dreams.

Having a break

rog_wine

I’m also trying not to stay up late watching Seth McFarlane cartoons, with around 60% success…

Hi again, did y’all miss me?  I know I’ve been lax with regard to writing this, and I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been having too much fun, but truthfully, I’ve just been too indolent to write anything interesting or funny (though perhaps you haven’t noticed me writing anything interesting or funny anyway?).

However, now seems like a good time: I’ve had a nice, relaxing weekend doing nothing important (aside from cleaning the upstairs bathroom and picking up rubbish from our front garden), and not doing any significant exercising or studying.  This is partly because I seem to have another illness: yes, despite having very little in the period November 2012 to November 2013, I now seem to be a walking disease bag again, possibly due to not taking multivitamins any more (thanks to that news story stating that, at best, they do nothing).  It must have been coming on back on Friday, when my personal trainer noted I sounded a bit congested, even though it didn’t stop me having an excellent PB-busting session; now, however, I’ve got a sore throat, a cough, and no small amount of mucus.  (Oh, sorry, were you eating?)

My immune system was very probably weakened last Sunday, when I stood around on a cold, dismal day supporting my mother, who was taking part in an endurance run (a rehearsal for when she later takes on Tough Mudder).  I certainly got cold enough, and indeed worried enough, to be very glad when I could go to her at the administration tent, where she herself had bad hypothermia (enough to be quivering) and a sprained ankle, which had forced her to retire from the race.  It should be noted that she wasn’t knackered at all, whereas I would have probably been gasping for breath after the first mile, so she’s clearly in better shape than me, as well as being incredibly brave and inspirational!

(I have no interest in mud runs, however, except as a spectator sport, and only when all the contestants are college girls in skimpy outfits… oh, come on, I’m only human!)

There’s also stress — that weekend was ruined for me in public transport terms by engineering work-related suspensions (my exact bit of the Northern Line and part of the Victoria-to-Brighton line), and it was followed by a very noisy week at work, which has required me to put on noise-cancelling headphones and play Gwar loudly in order to drown out those maddening, incessant voices outside my head.  Plus, it looks like I’m being kept on until June rather than escaping at the end of the current financial year, which makes me feel like I’m trapped; though on the flipside this means (a) I don’t need to hurry so much to pass my Windows 7 exam, and (b) I’ll be getting redundancy money at the rate for my “acting up” rather than “substantive” post, which is to say, mo’ money.

It’s possible I caught this bug from a lady at work who’s been coughing pretty much constantly since the start of 2014, but conceivably it could also be incipient hay fever, as the past couple of days have been surprisingly nice in weather terms (so much so that I don’t mind the heating having been turned off entirely), and plants could be returning to life and thus inflicting their pollen upon me.  Hay fever is something that’s been an increasing problem for me over the years, and they say it’s brought on by pollution…

I’ve hardly spoken to anyone this weekend; “best mate” hasn’t visited due to his car not being available, and although I went on a date on Thursday (once again I have the encouraging thought that university-age girls find me attractive, even if it’s as a sugar daddy), I won’t get the chance to see her again for a while due to her studies.  And I remember the last time I screwed things up with a cute Oriental twentysomething because of illness, so I’m going to play things cool this time!

So, what is it I do when I have the weekend to myself?  Well, principally I’ve been replaying BioShock 2 and watching Columbo episodes on TV, but I’ve also been re-reading my old diary entries from 2009 and 2010, a period of my life that wasn’t happy — perhaps most of all due to landing in my current job, which meant I ended up kind of immobilised for a further five years, especially since for a long time I never went out, except to Japanese classes, and just stayed home playing video games and watching TV every evening.  Plus, I seemed to get sick with worrying regularity, possibly due to all the dust in the file archive, or also possibly due to hay fever (one day I had a horrible attack come on just as I returned to Caledonian Road).  So, not unlike this weekend overall, except I’m rather happier now than I was then (which wouldn’t be hard)!

Do I regret 2009 and 2010?  Well, yes, quite honestly — I let myself get lazy, using my horrible work situation as an excuse to become even more introverted than I was, and then complained that women weren’t falling over themselves to ask me out via online dating (a situation which, of course, came to a head in 2011).  Things got a little better when I took those A+ and MCSE classes, because even though I didn’t take exams in the latter (and they wouldn’t have been useful anyway, since they would have been based on the obsolete Windows Server 2003), they at least got me using my brain and working towards something better, and what I learned there will still be moderately useful when I study Server 2008.  I regret being lumbered with those damn text books, though — I was glad to get rid of them finally, as even if my workplace’s “give & take” session didn’t see them into someone else’s possession, at least they’re not MY problem any more!

(Another good thing about 2010 is that I got loads of volumes of Judge Dredd collected comics, which are completely zarjaz… hey, if Eminem can escape into comic books, why can’t I?  Aw, drokk you!)

Don’t worry, next week I won’t waste so much time doing what I used to do all the time (or reliving same via my journal) — instead, I’ll revise for my Windows 7 exam and make sure to arrange it for before the end of the month, and also, sickness permitting, go to a Japanese meetup event and see if I can get another date.  I just have to hope my throat’s better by then and I’m not whispering the whole time, as pubs can get very loud, and I hate shouting at the best of times.

Oh, and Wii Fit Plus has had a stay of execution, as my personal trainer recommended I do some “cardio” during the week, and I discovered that I can actually still do the “jogging plus” exercise, something I stopped doing for ages due to concern over my left ankle, which I twisted in, er, January 2013 (so if it’s not better now, it never will be).  I’ve made it to the highest skill level, which means jogging across the entire Wii Fit Island; this combined with the highest skill level of “rhythm boxing” (where the guy talks faster than in the lower levels) means I can have about 25 minutes of raised heart rate, which helps to burn away the fat.  Hey, I’m not quite buff yet, but I’m getting there!

(It’d help if the Wii didn’t keep missing some of my punches entirely — I bought a new Wiimote and nunchuck, and it still keeps happening, and Nintendo have been no help, because it’s not a Wii U!)

So there you go, despite the setback of a cough, I’m still getting my life in order: going on dates, getting rid of clutter, working towards a better job and keeping fit.  Admittedly it’s going to be difficult if I’m still prone to getting sick, so I might have to defy the tabloids and start taking multivitamins again… at least until the Daily Fail links them to cancer, swine ‘flu, falling house prices and immigrant terrorist paedophiles!