Needless to say, I haven’t suddenly met the girl of my dreams on Valentine’s Day, or been proposed to (a young lady in my office has been, but I never really spoke to her anyway) — but it’s okay, I’ve been taking a mini-break from the dating game. However sensible that may be, it’s only now that I actually feel like doing it — as though all feelings of desperation have finally left me.
But no, I’ll never give up my search — it’s just nice to relax a bit (not least because it got tedious sorting through 21 women every day, in that damned dating app!), and look at my life as it is. Things have improved dramatically for me since I started writing this blog in 2012 (and even more so than a year earlier than that, 2011 almost being the death of me), but although I may have matured, taking on the burden of sorting out billing for my household, and finally doing a job I actually enjoy… deep down, I’m still the same manchild I was back then.
Yes, I’m still playing video games for fun (including scary survival horror ones); yes, I’m still climbing (despite having to reduce it in 2018 after my surgery) and seeing a personal trainer; yes, I’m still petting dogs I meet in public (with the owners’ permission — indeed, they often encourage the little mutts to come over to me!); yes, I’m still listening to various musical acts through headphones (Eminem, Gwar, Gorillaz as well as Prince, 2Pac, Kaiser Chiefs); yes, I’m still reading the works of Stephen King and watching Japanese anime on the Tube, and sharing old Beavis and Butt-head episodes with “best mate” (as well as quoting Family Guy and Father Ted)… and yes, I’m still a vegetarian who avoids organised religion, not to mention fashion and sport.
(Phew, that was… an inexhaustive list!)
Perhaps it’s worth noting that I even still have a number of possessions that I’ve used seasonally, regularly or even daily for many, many years — some things come and go (but not to waste — I’ve donated items to charity, and given away old coats and even an underused sleeping bag in “helping the homeless” events), and some things are replaced over time (including clothes, cookware, mobile phones and most computer components), but a few things have served me well over the years, even those that originated in bad times:
- Back in 2015, while recovering from the horror of being unemployed (good job it stopped before Universal Credit, eh?), I replaced my long-standing poster collection with more mature wall art, and still it lines my walls. I’ve also still got the “small but tall” TV shelf that “best mate” built for me after moving in at that time!
- The blue trainers I wear for personal training sessions: my mother got me them in late 2014 (when I was unemployed and anxious), but I still wear them today (though sadly not literally today as we missed a session); despite their age and heavy usage, they’ve lasted extremely well, and I haven’t even begun using the pair I was bought to replace them a couple of years later!
- The acoustic guitar I got in early 2014 still works (indeed, the music teacher I met in 2017 and 2018 reckons it’s better than the £40 I paid for it!), and while it’s not electric enough for me to play Gwar, it’s a starting point for my heavy metal career, and enables me to play excerpts from my favourite works (such as “Iron Man”).
- However much my computer changes over time, it’s worth noting that I’ve still got Windows 7 (screw 10!) installed on the SSD I managed to buy in October 2013 (after the time I tried and failed to take an A+ exam at a disorganised venue) — the install itself was created in 2011, and the copy was bought in 2009, but Windows has started up nice and fast (almost) every day for over five years. And I’ve still got the compact desk “best mate” helped me bring home from IKEA around the same time, replacing the much bigger one my mother got me in 2002, but which only joined me in London in 2006!
- The Wii and Wii Fit Plus setup I bought from my former Japanese teacher in late 2012, originally as a Christmas present for my mother, but ultimately for myself — I measure my weight and record my exercise every day, and have done so for longer than I’ve had a Fitbit! I later got another Wii setup for the Worthing house, and I do the same there when I’m home for the weekend, Christmas, or convalescence, so my details go back to early 2013.
- The climbing belt my mother handed down to me in 2012 (she’d already undergrown it, shortly after we began climbing) improved my focus on the pastime as I recovered from the previous year — it still fits, and it still holds me up by rope! I got the belaying device around the same time (the one day I climbed with my former “good housemate”), and that hasn’t broken either, despite a great deal of use.
- For better or for worse, I still have the room I moved into seven years ago in February 2012 (thus ending that terrible period of anxiety), and the roof’s not caved in yet! And the previous resident (or his predecessor, or his predecessor…) got a Sky Digital dish installed, and though I use Freesat instead of the paid service, it meant I discovered the Horror Channel, which I’ve since watched more than almost any other (with the possible exception of the dearly-departed BBC3)!
- The Duke Nukem Forever-themed “Nukem’s No.69 Power Smash Whiskey” pint glass I got in mid-2011 (the prelude to massive depression), which still hasn’t broken like so many other fragile containers — every morning with breakfast, (nearly) every evening with dinner, and just about every night around bedtime, I drink nice cold filtered water from it. It’s actually lasted longer than any of my water filter jugs!
- A digital thermometer that my folks got me in 2009 (when I was in a job I still hated, though it would get better until I left in 2014) — well, it tells the time and informs me of the temperature and humidity in here, so naturally I’m looking at it constantly, whatever the season.
- The Dalek-shaped key fob that “good housemate” (in a Wood Green house I didn’t like living in) got me for my birthday in 2005 — it still lends a comforting, reassuring weight to my keyring, and hasn’t (indeed, can’t) fall apart like almost every other fob I’ve ever had (though I keep reassembling the BB-8 one my mother got me, since he’s one of the good guys).
- At this time of year, I’ll always wear the hat-with-flaps I bought in Worthing back in early 2001 (a futile year of my life, even before foot-and-mouth and 9/11) — the important thing is to stay warm, not to look “normal”! Go ahead, accuse me of being a Canadian moose hunter…
- My CD collection only really started in the 21st century (with my first MP3 player being bought in 2006), but I rip everything onto my phone, and I’ve still got the first proper music CD I ever bought (using a gift certificate in Michigan at the start of 1999): the Bee Gees live album, One Night Only — and, though I forgot to mention it explicitly before, my 1997 purchase of the CD re-release of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds!
- There’s even ornaments I’ve had for years — not just gruesome busts of skeletons and Frankenstein’s Monster bought by my folks on holiday in places like Italy in the early 21st century, but a mineral egg I got during an A-level Geography field trip to France in 1996, reminding me that I can become fast friends with almost anyone, no matter how antagonistic we were before (referring to my classmates). Not to mention a model Dalek I built a few months later, prior to starting university…
All things considered, though, one lack of change I regret is that I can still feel negative emotions at this time: being stressed and pressured at work can make me anxious (as can Brexit), looking at my lack of a love life can make me depressed (as can Brexit)… and video games (such as Batman: Arkham Knight at the moment) are a major source of anger. Still, I’ve managed to combine the pieces of four Xbox 360 joypads into a single working one with a consistent colour scheme (otherwise the top and the triggers would be white and the rest black), and this sincere effort has persuaded me not to throw it at the floor in rage any more, no matter how frustrating I find fighting big enemies or getting a Riddler trophy, so maybe I can change after all!
It’s funny, but I don’t feel like my life’s in a rut right now — I actually enjoy having evenings off to relax and play video games (and watch DS9 on TV, the latest Star Trek incarnation being repeated by the Horror Channel), occasionally going climbing or working out, sometimes helping the homeless or visiting my folks in Worthing, but mostly recovering from work. Much as I’d love to go on dates that actually lead to something more than a polite goodbye, and indeed find one special girl, somehow the prospect of being married and building a home and a generic life together seems rather… dull?
(Believe me, if there’s one thing I find more nauseating than PDAs, it’s couples tediously discussing redecorating the kitchen!)
Maybe I’ll grow up some day and put away “childish things” in order to become a father and homeowner, but not yet — being single didn’t prompt me to do so in 2013, and it doesn’t now. I want to enjoy living and be comfortable (not to mention recovering fully from medical issues before I make any serious plans), as well as doing a job I enjoy and saving up for rainy days, and while things may become “interesting” at the end of March (Brexit itself being a devastating hurricane, or at least a shower), for now I can take things easy, and not feel obliged to fit in with boring old adult society.
Perhaps the oddest thing of all is that I’d be perfectly happy to have a long-distance relationship with a girlfriend I hardly ever see, but with whom I share fiery passion on the rare occasions we’re together. Needless to say, I hold out hope that things will change for the better with “Polish female best friend”… but if Brexit goes ahead as planned, will she even be allowed in the country to work? For that matter, will “best mate” be allowed to stay and continue working here (and renting the room below mine), or will he get kicked back across the Irish Sea?
Indeed, will I end up being exiled from Britain due to being one-eighth French, by the sort of racist scum who demonstrate how racial purity (i.e. inbreeding) is self-defeating? Will I wish I had been, if coming out of the EU (and by extension the ECHR) leaves us even more at the mercy of corrupt self-serving politicians than we already were, and the NHS (upon which I depend) privatised…?