Category Archives: Darkness

Worst year ever?

I’ve been here in my family home in Worthing for a few weeks, recovering from the operation I had in late November, thanks to “best mate” driving here before he departed for his homeland for Christmas, but it’s not a happy process, and I feel like I’m going to have a lot of trouble recovering psychologically, even if physically I’m doing relatively well.

Firstly, nothing’s improved for my grandmother since November: she’s deteriorated to the point that she can’t do anything for herself, and can’t help around the house (which she could do to some extent until this year), which means my mother has to transport her around the house in a wheelchair.  I’ve tried to help with this, and to say hello to her when she’s sitting alone in front of the TV while my mother’s elsewhere, but she really doesn’t seem to be herself any more.

I also love my poor mother, and wish I could help her, but even simple things like doing the washing-up have required knowledge (in terms of where to put things away in a kitchen I’ve almost never used over the past 17 years), and I worry about letting her down.  I’m careful in terms of exercise, due to how little time has passed, but I want to reduce her stress so she can live her own life as well.

I even feel a certain shameful wish that my grandmother would pass away peacefully in her sleep, so we can finally say goodbye… but that would be inappropriate — she’s my grandmother and I still love her.  However, I’ve long known it would be unendurable if my mother died and I somehow had to look after my grandmother alone, something I don’t know how to do — so, barring my grandmother somehow reducing in age to 60 (when I was 12!), the first option is the only realistic one.

(At least the dog’s happy with us all, even if she seldom shows any interest in the new toys we get her!)

The situation is complicated by the fact that (unlike in 2018, or literally any other Christmas) I can’t use my own room in this house, as my grandmother needs to be there due to it being directly opposite the bathroom.  My mother wants me to sleep in her bed, and has let me set up this Frankencomputer in here, but her own PC also sits in here due to there being no room in the lounge, where she sleeps on an inflatable mattress — because the little room where my grandmother used to sleep when I visited is too full of old relics to be useable for anything except storage.

And I can’t seem to sleep anyway, either dropping off briefly and then lying awake for hours, or not dropping off and lying awake for more hours.  The neuro-quacks reckon it’s normal and can be treated, the man I spoke to a week ago saying they can prescribe me melatonin so I drop off, but really, I find myself wondering whether it’s more down to my brain overworking pretty much all the time.  The new “Tier 4” lockdown had come the day after they’d made my meeting with them face-to-face instead of over the phone, but fortunately they were able to do it online (though unfortunately through MS Teams).

No, not coming up with amazing new theories or inventions, but just skittering around — worse than last time, when they said concentration would be harder — and on political issues, largely thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.  Remember my rant last year, about how “the left” and “the right” should try working together instead of insulting each other to score political points?  I still feel the same way, and I still find I disagree absolutely with self-styled “right-wingers” on (serious business!) Facebook.

However, the worst part is imagining, uncontrollably, that I’m having a conversation about it — and with someone who I don’t think has ever liked me.  My old ex-RAF school friend and my old ex-military American friend are both unequivocally right-wing (whatever that means any more), and have linked to far-right Facebook groups that I’ve immediately blocked, but they’ve been supportive in my surgery and recovery, and I thank them for that (well, at the same time as thanking everyone else, I’m not biased).

I still can’t believe I forgot to mention “The Princess Bride” in that original image caption — inconceivable!!!

The one who troubles me is the young man whom “female best friend” married in 2013, who is both religious and libertarian, and who is clearly a right-winger in his own terms, linking to what are unequivocally right-wing self-superior nastiness groups; thus I’ve put him on timeout on more than one occasion, so I don’t try and post a response, making things worse.

It sucks feeling like I’m stuck in a waking dream about trying to discuss the opposite point of view with someone I’ve almost never spoken to anyway (to be fair, he once posted an article on my wall about the untimely death of Dave Brockie from Gwar) — but fortunately, after writing this section last night (originally a hell of a lot more, indeed!), I was actually able to lie peacefully and not keep thinking at ten words a second, so forget him.

(Here’s hoping I didn’t jinx things by keeping this section in tonight…)

Thus, my sleeplessness seems to be medical in origin after all, and in no small part (uh huh huh huh) due to my right leg hurting a great deal, possibly due to how I’m sitting here right now, writing this blog post tomorrow evening.  I’m not supposed to take any other exercise than walking until at least the six-week mark, but my personal trainer’s agreed to do a very basic online session on New Year’s Day, and we’ll see if that helps to get my blood flowing again — personal torture has certainly evened out my aching limbs in the past!

One thing that doesn’t help is the dismal weather, as it means I can’t take the dog walkies… it’s either raining or very, very cold, and she refuses to walk to the park, which means I have to carry her there!

— — —

These events round off a year that I’ve loathed all the way through, even leaving aside the pandemic — from feeling like a clumsy idiot at work in February and March, overworking trying my best to set up laptops for homeworkers in our organisation during the lockdown, and only making myself feel worse by telling senpai that my memory may be affected by the medication after dosage was increased by my neuro-quack — a need to return to the chiropractor to deal with pain only adding to the misery.

I felt bad in April too as I homeworked and made mistakes, only being even remotely happy during the Easter break, but although things improved in May, more so in June, and amazingly so in July, it was then that two bad things happened: our organisation suffered a major breach (with senpai and “Asian Eddie Hitler” being grateful for my hard work), and the aforementioned neuro-quack told me that the “space invader” had renewed its attack, and so I’d need further work done.

I faced up to the need and vowed to get through for the sakes of others, and after a long wait, my operation went ahead and was successful — but as above, I’m still psychologically suffering, my grandmother is helpless, and my mother is overburdened with responsibility to both of us.

I wonder if we’ll even stay awake on New Year’s Eve (though in my case, I won’t exactly be sleeping when the fireworks go off at midnight), as next year’s likely to be even worse, what with Coronavirus II prolonging lockdowns and killing more, Brexit being put in place without any real competence, more online hatred of “SJW libtard snowflakes” (from the sort of people who make me think that the “SJWs” might actually have a point), and the sort of attitude that suggests anyone who dies from the disease is well rid of.

But some good things have come out of the lockdown this year: as well as staying full-time employed and thus coming to prefer homeworking (avoiding the daily commute is its own reward, and saving Oyster money is a bonus), I’ve been saving enough money to massively upgrade my London PC (and learn how Linux is better than Windows), the times we’ve spent apart have made me appreciate seeing my family more when I’ve had the chance… and a certain young lady and I spent a long time writing to each other before we finally met in person at what is now, for both of us, alma mater.

Even the worst times can lead you to the best things: I’ve been trying to find someone special since I was 18, and apart from a brief fling in Michigan, it was only in 2013 (during the lifetime of this blog) that I was finally able to go on actual dates, in no small part due to the young ladies asking me out, but nothing good came of it for a long time… and this year, suddenly I found someone new through a dating app, and have since spent more time with her over the Internet than I ever did in the real world with my other dates — all of them, collectively throughout my life!

I really hope that 2021 actually turns out to be an improvement on this year (rather than another case of “interesting times”), and that not only do things get sorted out for my family in a positive way, perhaps involving us leaving Worthing forever (and maybe adopting a second dog?), but that I’m able to meet my special someone in person at last, without worrying about pandemics (of either disease or, worse, nationalism), and we can spend time together in the real world… or have I said that before?

— — —

P.S. One thing that would be bad in any other year, but was merely annoying this year, was our useless energy company in London, E.ON, messing up my monthly Direct Debit payment and taking it on Christmas Eve, two weeks ahead of the scheduled time — and they did this to a lot of other customers as well!  I was able to convince my bank (the one responsible for my old account, which I use solely for household bills now) to cancel the payment the same day, but the leccy company will finally sort out their side of it… tomorrow!

Matters coming to a head

(Phew, I found the classic editor again, so I can actually see the box where I’m editing text — I really should have used a different blog site in 2012, shouldn’t I?

Surgery will be like this, except lying down and having my mouth moistened so I can answer the questions they yell at me — and if I’m lucky, an even short back and sides

It’s all happening to me at once right now: at the same time I’ve finally got surgery organised and prepared (I’m checking into hospital next Sunday, for an ordeal that will take place on Doctor Who‘s 57th anniversary), I’m almost certainly going to lose a precious relative, someone who’s been part of my life literally as long as I can remember — and in a far more inevitable, unstoppable way than when I lost other close relatives in 1984 and 1999, as this time it’s a long decline instead of an unexpected event.

Knowing what lies ahead of me doesn’t help: I’ve been through some preliminary checks and discussions (I was worried the main event wasn’t going to be scheduled until 2021!), but I’ve got to be tested for coronavirus on Wednesday, to make sure I don’t bring it into the hospital.  It’d be bad enough doing this as a carrier, but since my operation will involve me being held in place with the left side of my head upwards while they cut stuff out, having an uncontrollable cough would be rather detrimental to proceedings!

If I pass, and the operation goes ahead as planned, I’ll have to self-isolate for the intervening four days (I’ve already begun stocking the fridge) before check-in, and use a special concoction for washing (including my head on alternate days), to ensure I’m fully disinfected.  I’ll also need to bring my latest batch of anti-epilepsy medication (I feel damn lucky that I was able to get my quack and the chemist to work together when I’d ordered the repeat prescription a week earlier).

Assuming all goes well (and yes, this is the least negative outcome), I’ll then spend at least a week in hospital recovering and being psychologically evaluated, to make sure I’m not getting anxious and depressed due to (a) the anti-inflammatory drugs they’ll have me on or (b) losing the ability to remember my extensive vocabulary and take in new information.  By chance, I should be able to leave hospital around the time that Lockdown 2.0 ends, and can spend a little time here before returning to Worthing to stay with my folks…

Or, as is sadly becoming possible, folk: my grandmother’s needed 24/7 care for several years now, but her condition has exponentially increased over the past months.  I found it worrying that she couldn’t remember my 40-year nickname for her when she wrote a birthday card for me in October — especially since my earliest clear memory is her trying to get me to call her “Nanny” but me only being able to say “Tatty” — but now she can’t sleep, eat or control her body, and has needed medical treatment in the middle of the night, asking when her husband would be coming home from work.

I really hate this situation: not only will I face losing her, but so will my mother — and at precisely the same time that her son will need care.  Whereas during my post-op period in 2018 my grandmother needed less observation and could still cook (including for “best mate” when he came to drive me back to London), this time my mother will have two people to worry about at once.  This makes me feel like a burden, much like my workmates trying to make it clear that I’m doing fine and they’ll keep things going in my absence, even after all we’ve been through since the end of July — it’s like I’m just creating more work for others, and can’t help them in return.

(The saddest thing: if my Wednesday COVID test shows I’m a carrier, my operation will get put back a month — but even then, I won’t be able to visit Worthing in the interim and help my family, and would have to stay here anyway, feeling helpless!)

If all goes well, she’ll have weeks to jump on my bed at 8am every morning

It doesn’t help that the darling dog we’ve had for only a year is seriously confused by what’s happening to one of her loved ones (I even heard her barking in the background of a phone call, because my grandmother had fallen over), but me staying down there for a month or two may mitigate this somewhat: apart from anything else, my need to take exercise as part of my recovery will mean taking her walkies.  She’s the newest member of the family, and I’d hate to lose her as well — and she makes my mother happy, which is the most important thing.

Like I said seven years ago, losing a home relative feels so bad because it’s like the place is emptier than before, and somehow you expect them to turn up again, it all having been a prank or a misunderstanding.  However, I’d rather face this pain and misery all over again, than disappear into oblivion and not think anything ever again — apart from the fear of ceasing to exist at all (hence I can never embrace atheism), I don’t want my own mother to suffer even more than she already is, and to do so alone.

However, I’m determined to get through all this once again (and hopefully improving a lot more than last time), as I want my mother, my friends, my workplace, and everyone else I know and love/like/tolerate/endure to be relieved.  They’ve supported me, but I want to resume giving to them, even if (for now) it’s exclusively online, and thus I can’t climb with “best mate”, box with my personal trainer, help the meetup guy hand out supplies to the homeless, or give a big hug to a certain special lady in the Far East.

(On the other hand, I don’t miss being in a noisy, crowded office, and I certainly don’t miss being lucky even to get a seat on the Northern Line — I’m definitely happier homeworking!)

A few coincidences concerning this situation: not only will my operation be, as above, on a certain anniversary (albeit not a nice round number of years like in 2013), but next Sunday will end the 43rd week of unbroken Wii Fit Plus sessions I’ve done since early this year (when I forgot to bring the save file home with me to Worthing).  I think it’s also, by coincidence, the final day of my most recent promise of weight loss in that same software…

Sometimes I wish it was happening on the 19th instead, but hey, there’ll be a successful operation if ka wills it!

Light in the darkness

Lisa: Look on the bright side, Dad — did you know that the Chinese use the same word for “crisis” as they do for “opportunity”?
Homer: Yes — crisitunity!
—The Simpsons (S6E011, “Fear of Flying”)

At which point God vanished in a puff of logic

Almost immediately after I wrote my last blog post, something happened at work: I won’t go into details (partly for legal reasons), but suffice to say, we’re one of the organisations that was recently hit by ransomware.  It’s almost as though me buying such expensive computer equipment had harmed my karma (or ka), and I was being punished with a terrifying situation.

But don’t panic!  Somehow I’ve done (more or less) everything right at work to help out, and not only senpai and “Asian Eddie Hitler”, but “boss lady” herself have been thankful for my efforts!  I even went into the office to help the former two one weekend, and have gone in alone on several other days, to make sure PCs with special software are (a) virus-free and (b) remote-onto-able by critical staff, while other people can remote onto virtual machines just to have access to internal files and databases.

I should certainly get paid for my overtime, but it’s been said that the guys are working on arranging a pay rise for me — and the only disadvantage I have in financial terms is that I can’t defer my Stupid Loans repayments another year, which should be resolved by the pay rise itself (so that I’m earning more over the monthly gross limit than the amount I’ve got to pay back monthly).

Leave has been hard to come by lately, due to both the homeworking nature of my job and the lockdown itself; however, having plenty of leave left might prove to be fortuitous, as I’m likely to need some time off work within the next month or so, according to a phone call I received at the height of getting things working again, but oddly, a whole month after my last MRI scan, ending my belief that no news was good news…

As long as I don’t end up speaking in a monotone…

Yes, it’s another issue involving the “space invader”, which has begun rallying its forces for a renewed offensive — and while, for now, it’s only conquering the equivalent of No-Man’s-Land (i.e. growing into the cavity left by the previous surgery), it’s necessary to take action now, before it’s too late.

But don’t panic!  It’s not going to kill me any time soon, and produces no additional symptoms — and most importantly, this situation offers a prospective improvement on the treatment I received in May 2018.

I’ll be having a phone conversation tomorrow to get the full story, but it seems that, far from putting me under general anaesthetic to cut my noggin open again, leaving me to convalesce for weeks or even months afterwards, they can do something much quicker, using only local anaesthetic, which might mean only a day in hospital and a week of recovery.

It won’t be the cranial screw-top technique discovered by Dr. Hfuhruhurr in The Man with Two Brains, but it will involve another hole-in-the head; the main difference this time is that they’ll keep me awake while they test bits of the tumour-ridden segment of my left temporal lobe, freezing them one by one and checking that I can still speak and understand English before deciding on removing that bit.  It’s said to have been improving over the past two years, and so, rather than a guinea pig, I’ll be a straightforward recipient of a tried and tested process.

 (But now I wonder: is there a risk of me losing my Japanese knowledge?  Should I ask them to say the word oniisan and hold up a card saying a big brother character’s name, to check whether I still hate dumbed-down subtitles?)

And finally, there’s the really bad news: “best mate”, who I’ve known since late 2012, and who has been a housemate since Easter 2015, is planning to move back to his homeland, the Emerald Isle itself, with the prospect of getting his own house (and, technically, returning to the EU).  I’ll miss him, and since I’m not fond of the other three housemates, I feel like I should move out of this house once and for all.

I’ve lived here (in terms of actually being physically within these four walls instead of just visiting occasionally) for longer than any other house in my life, and indeed longer than all my previous London residences combined.  It’s coming up to 17 years that I’ve lived in the Smoke, which is… er… more than half my life, any claims to the contrary are fake news!

(No, 42 is the number from the book that made DON’T PANIC! a famous quote, and nothing to do with my age — Stephen King’s 19 is closer to that, at least mentally!)

Well, I’ve got more than just a TV to transport to a new residence

In late 2011 I felt like giving up on London entirely out of depression, and in late 2014 to early 2015 I felt anxious that I wouldn’t be able to stay and continue doing the things I enjoy.  Nothing much happened in late 2017 to early 2018 other than the trivial matter of discovering I had a brain tumour, which led to me spending a mere five weeks back in Worthing before coming back here, but now, another three-year cycle later, I find myself wondering once again…

Apart from the Castle (which now needs pre-arranging for climbing), my personal trainer (who I see online these days anyway), and my job (for which I’m almost entirely homeworking), I feel little to keep me here — and much to drive me away.  Apart from the house being hot in the summer and cold in the winter, “ambivalent housemate” is right back to his bad ways: as well as being condescending to me (e.g. when I sold my old graphics card for “too little”), he makes a lot of annoying noises, especially when his own homeworking day comes to an end about an hour before mine, making me want to avoid him.

Sometimes it’s like “drummer-trucker” of 2017 is back in the house, only now he’s slightly more well-behaved!

(Loudly pretending to play the trumpet, singing badly (deliberately?), firing a pop-gun in the kitchen every day with one of our female housemates, listening to audiobooks at maximum volume in the hallway, knocking on doors with that infernal shave-and-a-haircut rhythm, his sneeze, his laugh… how ironic that he left his previous residence due to two unrepentantly noisy housemates!)

But don’t panic!  I think I’ll just find somewhere else in London to live, still convenient for work (perhaps even a slightly longer Tube journey, so I have time to watch a whole 25-minute episode of Japanese anime or American animation before getting off), but — despite the horrors I saw in January 2012 — I feel like searching for a single place, albeit not a studio flat under any circumstances.

Much as I’d love to live with my family again… no, I can’t say that — having it as a fallback is wonderful, and obviously I’d be happy to see the dog every day (since she’s the one family member I can’t talk to over the phone or Skype), but once again it’d be like giving up on the prospect of escaping Worthing, and resigning to us all living out our days in that cancerous polyp on the anus of Great Britain.

(An old Red Dwarf quote… ah, and just like in 2013, I still don’t want to be a boring grown-up who drives in London and only drinks wiiine — and I still listen to Gwar, and impersonate Beavis and/or Butt-head, as well as using funny sound effects on mobile phones!  But working overtime, alas…)

One thing is strangely more significant than it at first seems: I’ve bought kitchenware recently that I’m certainly not willing to bequeath to this household so soon — a wok and a frying pan — which means I still want to cook for myself, instead of burdening my folks (or the local pizza place).  That plus a big TV stand (no, really!) shows that I’m still investing in my own life, and want to continue living away from home as a responsible adult, in my own space.

Besides, do I really want my PC of Theseus in the same room as the Frankencomputer…?

Disaster averted, times two?

The last couple of weeks, I was thinking of posting here (yes, I do that occasionally, even seven years after I started this blog) about how worried I was regarding not only my job, but my life here in London — not to mention my health.  Well, it looks like at least two of those potential Chernobyls have been reduced to mere Fukushimas, which may help alleviate the third, at least a little bit…

(Yes, a Simpsons reference, except with a slightly more contemporary equivalent of “Three Mile Island”!)

I’d have said I didn’t want to worry you, but merely wanted to express my worries in written form and get them off my chest, though I imagine I’d simply have made you guys worry even more about me than I intended!  Well, don’t worry, it’s mostly over now, so I can reminisce about my problems, and how I got over them.

Above all, don’t worry about one thing: I can’t even begin to contemplate suicide!  Apart from not wanting my friends and family (and dog!) to miss me, I’ve simply come to fear death itself — simply because I have no memories of being unconscious during my brain surgery in 2018: no slumber, no dreams, not even a SCENE MISSING card — just an immediate jump from feeling drowsy and tingly on the operating table, to being asked by a nurse in intensive care whether I could understand her!

I hate the thought of my memories simply ending, and me not being there to feel bad about it, or even knowing that I’m not there — but I also can’t force myself to follow any religion, so I’ll just have to hope something good happens in a few decades, when I reach the clearing at the end of the path.

(Yes, I’d be happy to wake up in Midworld, and be asked by Roland of Gilead to join his ka-tet in search of the Dark Tower — isn’t that obvious?)

However, there have been times when I couldn’t stop myself from considering career suicide, simply giving up on my life in London and returning to Worthing to live with my folks, and never, ever returning to the Smoke for even a single visit — especially if my life depended upon it, because I’d feel like simply carrying on existing instead of truly living.  I’m over that now, though it’s hardly the first time I’ve felt this way (the early stages of my misery in late 2011 being a major example, and even 2013 having a particularly bad patch).

What brought it on this time?  Well, no matter how well I think I’m doing at work, now and then I let the team down — and not always right away, but retrospectively!  For example, do you guys know what VPN means?  Ah yes, you remember — well, it seems I’d been a little over-enthusiastic in setting up this secure connection for homeworkers, when I’d actually been told to only do so for specific ones, for whom new hardware and a new Internet connection had been arranged.

But having “boss lady” angry at me in front of the office (don’t worry, I spoke to HR) somehow doesn’t seem significant compared to letting down senpai.  We’re switching to a new electronic phone system (thanks to Micro$haft planning to do away with one of their own products), but although just about everyone’s been set up now, it turned out I was supposed to have been going round helping them simplify their statuses.  I felt worthless, and panicked into trying to make up for this… only to make things worse by doing it wrong!

And even when I thought I was doing it right, I’d still screw up little things, or forget what I’d been told (or supposed to have read in an e-mail) — and I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to hear the funny ringtone I set up for him (see if you can guess it from this Family Guy clip), as now I associate it with him calling me to tell me off for not listening to him, again…

Fortunately, late last week he was a lot more understanding than before, and said I can always double-check things with him (something I’d become afraid to do) — but most of all, that my health is more important than supporting the team.  Y’see, I thought it might have been an issue with short-term memory, either due to the same thing that’s been causing my recent weird dizziness (the neurologist says it’s a possible side-effect of one of my medications), or just plain ol’ age.

(Then again, I can remember what happened well enough to write this, not to mention my nightly diary!)

I made up for things by discovering why a team he was trying to train with the new system couldn’t hear or be heard through their new electronic headsets — though since it involved one of those Win10 privacy (or lack thereof) options that I always find myself turning off when setting up people’s local profiles on PCs, it may not entirely have been MS’s fault… this time.  He and “boss lady” are being more patient with me as well, and looking for a new helper so I’m not overworked any more!

— — —

The other issue, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, has been “worst housemate” — the latest in a long line of female housemates living in the room originally occupied by the leaderene who sorted out our bills when I first moved here.  She’s been consistently underpaying me every month, and claiming we “agreed” a lower value (even if she didn’t need to pay for energy, she was still £4.60 down for March’s rent and council tax!).

The others — including “best mate” and “condescending housemate” (yes, that’s my new nickname for him and I’m sticking with it) — have nagged me to have it out with her, because the amount of money she owes me will only ever go up, and even our landlady (who at least seems to have dealt with the useless E.ON sending bailiffs after her long-dead husband) has gotten involved, saying she’s on my side in this, and that she doesn’t like the girl either (apparently she complained about the rent rise in December, despite signing the new contract with that value in November!).

Amazingly, though, it seems that being told she can either pay the money in full, or move out and find somewhere else, has worked: tonight she told me that she’ll start paying the full monthly amount, and catch up with what she owes me from before!  Perhaps this is because she “loves” her room, or perhaps it’s because she really can afford to pay (seeing as she buys herself coffees and takeaways, yet won’t put a fiver in the household kitty), but it’s a good sign that she’s finally taking responsibility for the costs of living in rented accommodation… in what is presumably her first time living away from home.

Or, of course, she’s got access to daddy’s (or mummy’s) chequebook in a serious situation such at this — but hey, if she moves out after all, “best mate” has offered to provide a van for her to shift her stuff!

— — —

But what of health matters?  Well, increasing my lamotrigine dose may not be helping as much as I hoped, though I doubt it’s responsible for my right arm hurting this week, especially when using a mouse (and it’s something I’ve noted in the upper arm when personal training over the past year or so).  It may well be some prelude to RSI, but if it happens even when I’ve been playing games with a joypad instead of mouse and keyboard, what can I do?  Avoid computers entirely?!

Fortunately, despite a bit of a sniffle and sore throat on Saturday afternoon (which could have been early hay fever), and indeed despite my daily commutes involving the crowded Northern Line, I’ve not (as yet) developed anything remotely resembling coronavirus!

(COVID-19?  That surely must be a Stephen King reference — I’ll set my watch and warrant on it!)

Never mind petty things like biochemistry, physiology and virology, though — it’s in psychological terms that I’m improving, as for now, not only do I still have a job (indeed, they need me to be able to work from home just in case we do an Italy), but I should be getting repaid by a housemate now willing to pay her share (or, more precisely, next month I won’t need to pay so much into the old bank account I use for gathering our household bills together).

With these two weights off my shoulders, I shouldn’t need to see the osteopath for a while…

The great burden

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills; because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too!
—John F. Kennedy, 1962

This is not me sitting next to the guy we lost, who wasn’t Japanese anyway

It’s partly reluctance, and partly overwork that’s stopped me writing over the past couple of weeks — much as I hate getting up early enough to make a roll for lunch, so I’d rather watch Family Guy and play the Assassin’s Creed games instead of opening this web-based editing suite to write stuff that I’ve probably already written, in multiple different ways, over the past seven years.

But I’m not quite repeating this post, although I’m certainly facing increase in one form of personal torture, and hopefully thus my endurance.  This time, it’s at work that I’m expending greater effort, in the hope that I’ll be regarded as indispensible…

It turns out that my first-line helpdesk colleague, who was absent on “career break” last year for reasons to which I was not officially privy, has now left our organisation entirely, after having begun working there in the early 21st century.  He’d been off quite a bit beforehand, but since he was in last Tuesday, and no “leave” was showing up for him in the team calendar, I’d politely assumed he was off sick (though of course I hoped it wasn’t a similar issue to the lead-up to my months-long sick leave in the summer of 2018).

“Boss lady” didn’t officially tell us until Monday, and the rest of the organisation a couple of days later, apparently due to “legal” arrangements needing to be made before the announcement.  She said he’s moved on to pastures new, but it seems he really was crying at his desk after a meeting earlier in the month, and had been told his days at our employer were numbered.  He never told me anything, but my workmates suspected all along…

And there’s always the risk that our team will be “outsourced”, whatever the hell that means (seeing as there are plans under IR35 to make IT contractors pay employee levels of tax without having employee rights to things like paid leave), so I’ve been told by a fellow Trekkie to stay on “yellow alert”, in case I’m next to face the axe.

(Needless to say, I don’t want a five-year cycle meaning I have to relive events around this time in 2014, December being a bad time for finding work!)

However, rather than preparing to jump into a lifeboat, I’m trying to bail out the ship for the time being — hence despite the physical pains I faced a few weeks ago, a bad cough coming on this week, public transport woes, and the fact that my colleague departed at the time of several major projects, I’ve continued going in to work every day, forcing myself to get on with things, and trying to hold back any kind of snapping at people (except maybe to ask them to talk a bit more quietly), not wanting to go on sick leave like I did as the new guy in late 2015.

I won’t go into detail about the major tasks, except to say they involve (a) security, (b) homeworking ability and (c) more desks in the downstairs office (and thus more network connections); since these occur at the same time as fixing the usual problems, I’ve been very overworked lately — and having a cough and sore throat this week made it hard to speak to people.  I’ve been in trouble for that before, and at times I’ve just not felt up to apologising to people for “feeling like Death warmed up”, or even making eye contact with people with whom I normally have a humorous exchange.

This Tuesday was the worst of all, because as I, amongst many other jobs, replaced keyboards and mice for an entire team (who fortunately were understanding), I worried with all my heart about our new dog Lola, who was undergoing a serious operation down in Worthing — because if she died, I’d certainly be upset, but my mother and grandmother would be devastated, this new addition to the family having made them truly happy.  Fortunately she was fine (indeed, the operation went “surprisingly well”), which has lighted my burden in that sense, as I won’t need to think about abandoning London so I can return home and comfort my folks.

And just so you know, “senpai” is actually a black dude with a London accent, with no Japanese blood!

The two geniuses in my team (senpai and the bloke who looks like an Asian Eddie Hitler) can give me guidance and expand my knowledge beyond 1st line, and indeed have taught me some important tasks (including the most important security-based ones of all, VPN and 2FA), but they’ve got so much to take care of, they can only give me limited support — and without our missing gentleman, I’ve thus go sooo much to do at work that my ticket queue seems to be growing exponentially…

(No, VPN doesn’t mean “visible panty nine”, and 2FA doesn’t mean “two, er, nothing”!)

And no, I can’t work evenings or weekends: aside from the important hours when people generally need help being 9-to-5, apparently only those two can claim overtime pay anyway, and “boss lady” knows when I’ve been remoting onto my work computer after hours, thus I am discouraged from working too hard.

Thus I need to slow down and not worry so much about how long it’s taking to take care of minor tasks (with people who aren’t even in the office at the time, or can’t answer a simple question about their problem), and be thankful that, as a member of an IT team, I can fix many problems simply by standing nearby!  Perhaps this is why “boss lady” has been refreshingly patient with me lately, as despite my problems, I’ve kept going.

And I feel I must be available to help out with important, urgent tasks when I’m needed — such as today, when the aforementioned Asian Eddie was off without explanation just as we finally replaced an old Win8 machine with a Win10 one that could run a version of our door security software that wasn’t written around the time our departed colleague began working for our employer, possibly for Win2000 or even Win98.  That was an onerous time (which made it hard to have even a late lunch), but “boss lady” agreed at how inexperienced the engineers seemed to be about their own software!

I guess I can cover for others when it’s life or death — something I must learn, so that I’ll either be kept on as an essential member of the team, or I’ll get a good reference for my next job.  Hey, at least the staff like me, and I don’t work for a bank helpdesk — that kind of staff would demand I fix their computer NOW, as every minute costs them money!

(One reason that the collective noun for bankers is “wunch”…)

— — —

P.S. I’ve got burdens at my London home too: not only handling billing (and thanks to E.ON for not writing off their billing mistake, and insisting we pay them what they undercharged us for before), but also living with “still new bad housemate”, who’s managed to be a lot more condescending than any other housemate I’ve ever had who moved in years after me!  I wonder if he’ll even agree to monthly energy payments, seeing as he didn’t think himself liable for any fraction of the household TV licence… thus I vow: if I need a new job, I’ll find a new home!

Getting out on the town again

Not the only time these two buttmunches will be appearing in this blog post

If there’s one bit of advice about living life I get tired of hearing — even when it comes from a close friend — it’s “get out of your comfort zone”.  When you consider how uncomfortable I am even being around blokes with hipster beards and “fashionable” haircuts, and the loud scraping, shrieking noises of the London Underground (especially in summer with the windows open), you’d think simply going to work and interacting people would be “getting out of my comfort zone” and socialising a hell of a lot, hence the whole reason I’ve preferred staying home more evenings the past few years, than I did back in 2013 when I first discovered I could have a social life.  Indeed, surely being “desperate for a girlfriend” would mean going to events I don’t enjoy and find extremely anxiety-inducing, with the obvious outcome that if (IF!) I actually meet someone special and start dating her, I stop going to those events entirely because I don’t need to any more?

Well, I know now I’ve really got to force myself to do it, because things are becoming unendurable here at home — and I’m sure you know why: our newest housemate, a friend of “best mate”, who moved in here earlier this year.  I didn’t mention it back then, but right from the beginning, before he’d even officially moved into the spare room, he acted like he had authority, telling me to take my washing stand out of there, because even though he wouldn’t be sleeping in there yet (prior to taking over the bigger room downstairs when the Aussie moved out), he still believed he had the right to store his stuff in there!  And he told me I needed to keep it in my room, only grudgingly letting me decline this because I get sick with clothing drying near me when I’m trying to sleep — which is probably why I was almost constantly ill at university (couldn’t exactly store my towel in the shared facilities!), and managed to come down with colds both times I was in America, in 2013 and 2014, simply by sleeping near drying towels and/or bathing suits.

That’s not the only tedious advice he gives me, almost as though he thinks he’s being helpful when actually he’s grinding me down and making me want to believe the opposite. He keeps leaving passive-aggressive cleaning-based notes around the house, acting like our old “leaderene” in 2012-2013 (except she’d lived here the longest rather than the shortest, so he’s acting more like a manager who’s moved sideways), but today he even objected to me trying to boil an egg for ten minutes, and turned the hob off after six minutes — and while he may have thought I’d forgotten about it (I didn’t want to wait in the kitchen with him for the duration and was in my room with my countdown timer on), he didn’t make up for it by arguing with me that, in his opinion, I’d planned to leave it on “too long” in the first place!

And yet, in noise pollution terms, he doesn’t obey the rules: he seems to be entirely oblivious to how annoying his loud voice and raucous laugh can be (and I’m genuinely sick of his shave-and-a-haircut knock on “best mate’s” door), and although he’s not arbitrarily taken over handling our rent and other bills, his attempt to (without telling me) put his name on our council tax account led to Barnet council (yes, named and shamed) screwing up and resetting our account, now consisting of just his name, twice, and higher monthly payments (due to not carrying over the credit the old bill now had left over)!

(They acknowledged my complaint eventually, more than five working days after they’d received my original e-mail, and said they’d fix it… but we haven’t got the new payment schedule yet, so who knows?)

Don’t worry, I haven’t broken yet another joypad (yet!)

Ironically, it’s both because of and despite him that I want to go out and socialise again in the evenings: while I feel I need to avoid more than basic, polite, brief interaction with him in order to reduce my anger, the fact that he’s patronisingly recommended “getting out of my comfort zone” by going out in the evenings (instead of enjoying myself watching TV and playing video games at home) makes me not want to do it!

Nonetheless, my efforts to get out there continue: I would have gone to a concert in Blackheath on Saturday, brought to my attention by “best mate” (who went himself), featuring none other than Jamiroquai — but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough getting a ticket (though at £68, would it have been worth it when I had no interest in the other acts?).  However, when it comes down to it, I prefer quieter places — which is why I can’t enjoy the Japanese meetup events in loud, crowded places: on Tuesday I at least tried, for the first time in over two years, but could barely hear anyone I actually wanted to communicate with.

As I said last time, I’ve also returned to salsa classes (with the teacher I first encountered in 2014), but as yet attendance in the new venue is… minimal — I haven’t seen a certain “golden honey” there again… maybe I should give up on that specific event, and attend his Archway classes instead?  Or would that just mean the girls suddenly start going to the Old Street ones, since they avoid me like thunderstorms?  I don’t want to abandon him, but maybe I need to find dance classes closer to home, so I don’t have to spend the whole evening away from home — and my dating coach (HQ, of course) recommends something called bachata… but oh, I miss those “social yoga” classes — I’d feel disloyal if I went with someone else, while he’s abroad!

(Much like my personal torturer trainer, my salsa and yoga teachers have done a lot to keep me sane and healthy over the past six years, and I want to help keep them financially solvent!)

I’ll continue going to the homeless-helping events if I can, as I feel I need to give something back to the world, but I’d really like to meet people with dogs — there was an event like that recently, but (a) it was a hell of a long journey to get there, and (b) it was so hot than only one person felt they could bring their doggy along!  And yes, I need to get out and climb more with people other than just “best mate” — perhaps at the Westway (on Tuesdays) in addition to the Castle — but eating out for dinner always worries me: it’s either expensive and unhealthy (Ed’s Easy Diner closed, Subway pointless, and I’m actually getting bored with Nando’s!), or cheap and unhealthy (bags of crisps and other snacks just to keep me going), and not like cooking for myself at home.

Don’t worry about my health, though: aside from doing okay in cerebral terms, I’m making sure to keep up my work in Wii Fit Plus, which I neglected in 2018 (admittedly due to recovery in cerebral terms) — and just to show I’m socialising at least in virtual terms, check this out: that’s me in the centre, with my personal trainer and grandmother (no, really!) on the left, and… two cool dudes on the right!  I’ve created other Miis to enliven the games, including Eminem, Richie and Eddie from Bottom… and even Donald Trump!  But aside from my mother and grandmother, I do need more females in there… how about “Polish female best friend”, even if we’re not dating?

Dave-ros Loves!… unrequited

Tomorrow I’ll learn something from “Polish female best friend”: not whether or not we have a romantic future together, but whether there was a chance of it at any stage.

I’d been trying to meet her somewhere other than a group event for a few weeks, in the hope that I could tell her that, while not certain, I may have had some kind of feelings for her that weren’t purely platonic, but she’d been too “busy” to meet me for so much as a drink, and I wonder if she knew my plan and was keeping me at bay…

And now, just after Midsummer, she’s told me that she’s just gotten a boyfriend — and she’s going on a trip with him, so it must be serious rather than a mere fling.  The fact that she only told me when I asked her to take a walk in the park with me, because I had something to tell her (not medical, though my broken heart may count), makes me wonder: was she waiting for an opportunity to let me down gently, was she entirely unsuspecting of my feelings and telling me as a friend… or, worst of all, had she felt something for me but given up in despair?

It’s coming up to 24 years since I first decided to come out of my shell and put myself on the market, and over 23 since my first, futile attempt to ask out a girl at school in early 1996, with the girls in my year group (to whom I always felt like a kid brother) advising me to wait, because “there’ll be lots of nice girls at university”.  There weren’t, just a lot of drunk birds who disdained me, shy girls who were afraid of me, and decent, confident girls who were already in relationships — and the one cute girl who showed interest in me, was part of a quasi-Christian life-controlling cult (little more than Christ’s Taliban), and likely trying to lure me into their clutches, as another unwitting convert…

(I think she escaped, as she said hi to me a few times over the following years… and then in the early 21st century, I saw her on Newsround talking about cyber-bullying — maybe she took them down a notch!)

Of course, there was that one brief romance in September 1998, which I have no doubt happened to me because I was in the USA (only in America could I get a girlfriend!), and another brief attempt to date a sorority girl, who had herself initiated things — though good job we didn’t sleep together, as she may have been technically underage in federal terms!  This despite the fact that she was already smoking and drinking (so kissing her was like drinking beer from an ashtray), whereas the “one” had been a non-party animal, just my type.

In any case, nothing else happened during my undergraduate days — despite me wondering, naively, whether a girl often dismissed as a “bike” by other blokes in our Geology class might be interested in me, simply because I wasn’t like the other blokes, and treated her like a human being (when I got back from America, she’d graduated and was in a relationship).  I was clumsy and socially inept in those days, hence driving away a beautiful girl in my dance classes, a situaiton which got worse when she moved into my hall of residence, and refused to meet my eyes!

Needless to say, nothing happened while I was living with my folks for three years in dismal Worthing; I tried to use a dating service (on paper, the Interthingy being dial-up and non-portable at this stage), and I tried to ask out a girl at work, but… no.  My friends at a local astronomy society even tried to matchmake for me, only for the lady in question (in her 30s when I was in my mid-20s) to be a “born-again Christian”, and not really my type at all!

As I’ve doubtless said before, I made several female friends when I came to London as an Astrophysics postgrad, including “female best friend” and “other female best friend”, who were like sisters to me (or so I assume, as I’m an only child), and whose friendship kept me going over the following years, even if blokes such as the one later known as “good housemate” accused me of “letting the side down” by not scoring enough!  Oh, there was a pretty girl in one of our classes (who came to London just for that one each week), a fellow vegetarian with whom I seemed to have a rapport, but somehow we never got together — though one evening, I invited her back to my residence flat (the others keeping away precisely for my benefit), and was at least able to make her a drink of hot chocolate…

(In Aztec times, that would have counted as a proposal of marriage!)

Nothing else really happened in the 2000s; I made Japanese female friends late in the decade, as I studied the language, but for the most part, imōto no onaji, and one I fancied quickly started ghosting me — and another, who I saw many times in early 2011, turned out to only want me as a tomodachi, not a kareshi.  Going to Japanese meetup events certainly helped me get out there and socialise, but not find ai, so sabishiteita… go on, look them up in Google Translate!  Actually, don’t, it’s never quite right — they mean “like little sisters”, “friend”, “boyfriend”, “love” and “I was lonely”.

I tried getting into the dating scene via these newfangled websites in 2010; Match.com was almost completely useless and expensive, and the others only vaguely adequate.  My first date since 1998 was an unmitigated disaster (we barely spoke, and she left politely — did she whisper “loser” under her breath?), and nothing else seemed to work; indeed, there was a speed-dating event which “good housemate” happened to attend as well (in his case due to boredom), but I was shy as hell there, and one hot but loudmouthed babe told him (while feeling him up in public) that she thought I was a “creepy weirdo” who was “following her around”!

No wonder I was contemplating grim endings in late 2011, eh?  At least I got through that, and an even worse beginning to 2012, but the rest of that year was no improvement in dating terms, despite my usage of dating sites: an English girl who seemed to like me, but went off me when she found out I was a Doctor Who fan; an American girl who insisted on a phone call first, which apparently made her realise I wasn’t the one; and a Korean “friend” who bossed me around, and actually told me off for not being attracted to the woman of my age with whom she’d tried to set me up!

Things changed in 2013, when a new dating site meant a number of women asked me out, building my confidence; my many near-misses since then have been mostly chronicled here in this blog — especially in 2016, though I omitted to clarify that the young mother in Oxford did get in touch with me again, to tell me she was seeing someone else.  I did mention that the cute Indian girl with the American accent ghosted me after two dates, but it was something that could have gone serious that led to a real breakup, almost exactly 18 years after that one romance in Michigan (and without even getting to “third base” this time).  Still, that year was better than 2014, and certainly 2015 (almost exactly four years ago) — and most of all, late 2014 and early 2015, when my anxiety was at an all-time high.

(Blimey, I’ve used that same depressing image from Evangelion in a hell of a lot of blog posts, haven’t I?)

However, one failed attempt I mentioned only fleetingly at the time occurred during my American camping trip in 2013: as well as fancying one of the under-21 Danish girls (and, as is always the futile way, fantasising about her), I grew to like another European woman in her mid-20s, feeling jealous that she seemed to be close to one of the under-21 Danish guys; it was in Las Vegas when she finally admitted she had a boyfriend back home (despite having kissed the Danish boy that evening. almost as though she wanted a fling, just not with me), but even then, I somehow held out hope, and took her aside at our last campsite, to try and tell her how I felt… only for her to know full well in advance, and (as I put it before) let me down gently.

I wonder whether “Polish female best friend” regards me as, while certainly a friend, not a “real man” — remember me dating a thirtysomething back in 2013, only for her to finally admit she was seeing someone else, and that I was immature?  By coincidence, both contacted me via the Meetup.com site, because we were in the same shyness group… well, I’m sure the new one wouldn’t be impressed by my video games addiction, or laugh at my phone sound effects — but don’t worry, I’ve accepted she’s not “the one”, and thus reinstated Roger the Alien singing “No-o-o-o!” as her text message notification.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse on Monday, though… well, actually they improved a little, and gave me hope for the future.  Remember the first time I mentioned “M.” back in late 2017?  Even if she’s off the market now, and “S.” hasn’t texted me since early 2018 (perhaps due to me texting her too much, or her being driven away by my dizzy spells), and I haven’t seen “C.” at the Castle in ages, there’s always, er, the first “M.”, who turned up at the first salsa class I’ve been to all year — and she’s still fly, got it goin’ on etc., and was equally happy to see me for the first time since, well, around the time in December 2017 that I wrote that post!

I’m also using dating apps, for all the good that’ll do (either show my age or pay a monthly fee) — but at least I’m trying again (and have somewhere new to use that “Maybe baby” sound effect, if it doesn’t make me cry).  Something has to change: I’ve never been in love — unless you count unrequited love, in which case I’m the world’s biggest gigolo…

— — —

Most appropriate at this time would be “To Binge”, the Gorillaz (feat. Yukimi Nagano) song which, with the rest of Plastic Beach, we played on the minibus as we approached Las Vegas during that trip, the girl in question having invited me to sit next to her — and while I don’t know for sure how I’ve felt about “Polish female best friend”, who knows: one day it could have been like this, though perhaps that’d be even worse…

(Note that while 2-D is singing, the lyrics were written by Murdoc the green-skinned evil Satanist bassist and manager of the band, so imagine him finally admitting to poignant emotion for a woman, instead of his usual sadistic triumph!)

May’s tears

(No, I’m not talking about our soon-to-be-former Prime Minister — I’ll try to keep politics out of this post!)

It doesn’t happen quite every year, but it’s not unusual for me to develop a certain depression in late May — it happened in 2016, before that in 2015 and 2013 (the latter having the same date structure as this year), and judging from my diary, it happened even as far back as 1992 and 1995 (in both cases, just before half-term)!

What is it about this exact time of year that causes the same problems?  Especially considering how lucky I was in mid-to-late May last year*, getting something nasty out of my head (the symptoms of which first clearly manifested in late May 2015), and living to tell the tale (and with the same number of marbles as before, or possibly slightly more).  I felt no depression back then at all, and only my inability to sleep through the night in June made my summer less than pleasant!

(* Damn, I should have proof-read that post-op blog post, or hired someone to do it for me!)

In May 2013 it was partly post-holiday blues: I still remember walking into the courtyard at the hotel where my group had first assembled, and feeling a pang of sadness that our adventure was over — and, of course, coming back to work in the same office as the overly-loud “annoying woman”, and feeling like my supervisor was threatening my job if I didn’t cheer up, made things worse.  However, it was mainly down to my innate inability to find a girlfriend, and even as I worried about my future career or how to pay the bills in May 2015, that issue came to the fore once again, as a girl I’d met at yoga mysteriously failed to appear when I’d hoped she would (and that was a prelude to a girl at work seeming to like me and then suddenly ghosting me).

So it’s been this May: almost right on cue, on Wednesday the 22nd, I felt a return to my days of serious depression; though fortunately it only lasted a day (or possibly a morning), it reminded me of the bad times in my life, which I’ve been chronicling in this blog in the naively optimistic hope that someone will read and be inspired to carry on with life.  Fortunately “boss lady” was off that day, or she might have called me out on being somewhat cold and withdrawn (except when I managed to pretend to be cheerful), or hiding in the toilet and almost crying to myself (at one point listening to the poignant Gorillaz song “Empire Ants” again), as I brooded on… things.

What things?  Well, naturally the old “girl troubles” surface again: it occurred to me that I hardly ever hear from “Polish female best friend” these days, and although it could be largely due to her heavy workload, I can’t help but consider the fact that she’s not “into” me, if she ever was, and perhaps even going off me as a friend.  I know I’ve been searching for someone since 1995 (and going on about it here since 2012), and that apart from that one special girl in America and a couple of 2016 possibilites here (both in late September), I’ve never been in anything even remotely resembling a relationship; however, thinking (however naively) that she might just be “the one” helped me relax for the first few months this year, not obsessively saying yea or nay to the 21 women I’m offered as matches in a certain mobile app.

(Actually, the main reason I stopped using that app for a while was having coughed and snotted almost constantly since Christmas Eve, though that sounds more like an excuse!)

I’m back using that app now, and already making contact with the fairer sex (and yes, I’m using Quagmire soundbites for the app’s notifications), but if there’s one thing that’s tired me out over the past six or seven years, it’s the dating scene, and an endless sequence of first dates.  Forget what I said before: I don’t want to sleep around (or build a harem), I want a long-term monogamous relationship with one special woman, even if we’re not “perfect” for each other — because my life is otherwise good at the moment, and I once promised in these pages that I’d stop writing this blog once things are perfect.

Okay, my life’s not that good at times: I’m still having trouble adjusting to a new housemate, “best mate’s” other best mate, moving in to replace the bloke who replaced “drummer-trucker” (who I also mentioned in an emotional May post in 2017).  At least I’m able to have conversations with him now, and when the Aussie moves out and he takes over the big room downstairs, he’ll hopefully stop creaking the floorboards right next to our dividing wall when he gets up in the mornings.  There’s also the fact that everyone seems to be SLAMming the front door these days, in some cases even when coming into the house…

Perhaps it really is just the time of year (the onset of summer and increasing temperature) that sets the scene for my depression, and specific events, even trivial little things, which trigger it — thus last year’s surgery and recovery took my full attention, and thus prevented me from becoming depressed.  It gave me an excuse to duck out of the dating scene for a bit, and of course to stay home, let my folks take care of me (for a while), go for walks and pet dogs, and play video games during what would have been working hours.

(But oh, how frustrating completing the original StarCraft was — the sequel was a lot better!)

Of course, there’s also the possibility that the “space invader” itself caused my depression and anxiety over the past few years, increasing during the summer as it heats up (and women wear summer clothes)… but that’s just scaremongering, because aside from occasional issues likely resulting from medication side effects (and the scar feeling sensitive in both sunlight and cold air), I’ve got my head together.

Might as well say it’s something to do with the anniversary of my computer du jour dying on 24th May 2011, an incident which left me feeling ill… as though I’d developed a stomach ulcer?  Or is it just because I always seem to get a cold at this time of year, and end up with mood swings from cough remedies…?

All I’ll say is, I got over it in record time this year, and won’t be depressed on the second May Bank Holiday, unless something really goes wrong — so let me get some sleep, please!

Everybody hurts (with apologies to R.E.M.)

Shut up, I haven’t seen the eighth season yet — I’m waiting for it to come out on Blu-ray!

I know I’ve spent a lot of time in this blog going over my own problems, but never forget that I care about other people and want to help them, even if it’s just by listening and showing them that they’re not alone.  Three of the most important people in my life have recently been through terrible things, and maybe I can lighten my load by revealing how much I know, and what little I could do for them…

  • My mother’s had to see the tooth-quack regarding pain she’s been in (the original condition going back to when I was a baby, and my father was still married to her!), and naturally I worried — true, she got through elective surgery back in mid-2013 alive and well, but since we lost my grandfather to an operation in late 1999 (and I faced a risky situation a year ago), I wanted to make sure she was all right.  Fortunately, I had the chance to call her today, and she was not only recovering well, but able to speak!  Alas, there’s the ongoing problem of taking care of my grandmother, who still doesn’t want a new dog in the house, so I’ll have to convince her somehow — not just so I can come home to visit Scraps mk.II, but so my mother has a companion to raise her spirits.
  • “Best mate” went through a brief but painful crisis recently, his employer (actually one of his brothers) wanted to make him a contractor instead of a direct employee, thereby not only forcing him to travel long distances to far-flung building sites and working after hours, he also wants to only pay him a limited wage instead of a salary!  My long-term buddy was so upset, he started threatening to go back to Ireland once and for all… fortunately that’s relented to some extent, and he’s content with his work — but this morning, his washing on the line was rained upon (his clothes horse having fallen to pieces at the weekend), and he felt helpless!  I managed to solve that one by offering to buy him a new clothes horse (he paid me back, don’t worry), which just goes to show: sometimes it’s the little things that help the most.
  • “Polish female best friend”, as though not stressed out enough at work, turned out not to be texting me because her bag had been stolen during a closed-eye anxiety-fighting meetup, right from under her chair!  Her phone wasn’t worth much, and she’s been able to port her number to a new SIM (would that I could hear her “Maybe baby” text noise more than once in a while), but she lost an expensive piece of technology that she’d just bought, to replace a tablet she couldn’t charge up (I did that for her once, so she could copy her vital files across).  She’s doing all right, but it was at last week’s “helping the homeless” event, to which she managed to come for once, that she admitted it’s only her religion (lapsed Catholicism) that keeps her going… I hope she was exaggerating, because I’d hate to lose her, even if we’re in each other’s friendzones (for now)!

Mind you, I still feel down at times — and not just due to today’s aforementioned dreadful weather (there have been dismal days in the past when I haven’t suffered from SAD), but due to one person in particular… well, two if you count a nice lady at work with a loud, high-pitched voice, who (like the annoying woman from my Camden days) somehow sounds louder on the other side of the office than she does when I’m helping her face-to-face!  She’s nice enough, but oh, sometimes I have to put on headphones and drown her out with white noise…

No, never mind her — remember my descriptions of living on Caledonian Road with “good housemate” (who gradually became my friend over the years), only for our final companion in the three-bedroom flat to be the guy I anonymised here as “bad housemate“?  I have a nasty feeling it’s going to happen again, as one of my housemates here is moving out (the Aussie who moved into “drummer-trucker’s” room), and his replacement has already been decided: “best mate” is getting one of his other friends (who happens to have the same first name as me), and although he’s been cool when visiting in the past, staying here in the spare room has resulted in him getting on my nerves.

Would BRIAN BLESSED be a better or worse housemate?

Okay, he’s not as bad as others (don’t worry, “drummer-trucker” has been cool since moving back to London in 2018), but I still find myself wanting to avoid sharing the kitchen with him alone — he’s not nasty (like “drummer-trucker” in his final months here in 2017), just rather incessant in asking questions when I’m trying to cook and not in the mood for chatting (due to having spent all day at work interacting with humans).  It’s potentially worse when he’s with “best mate” in the kitchen: I may feel even more anxious, simply due to how exuberant they get, and indeed how LOUD his laughter is!

Oh, and he’s temporarily staying in the small box room next to mine (in which “drummer-trucker” lived for years, and in which his replacement lived until taking over the former lounge), and since he gets up early, and is one of those housemates who SLAMs the front door when leaving, even at 5am… well, at least he’ll be officially moving downstairs by the end of this month, and maybe stop using the upstairs toilet, which is also right next to my room (I heard him sneezing in there this morning) — and that’ll also mean “best mate” gets some floor space back from this guy’s stuff.

At least he doesn’t tell me off for being vegetarian (like “bad housemate” and “drummer-trucker”, and at times “good housemate”) — indeed, he made pizza with vegan cheese for his girlfriend, who often visits him here!  Alas, he then ruined the positivity by knocking on my door and turning on my light just as I was watching the climax of Alien, to offer me a slice, despite me having already pigged out for the evening… ugh, he can’t do anything right, can he?

To be honest, I was worried when “best mate” moved in here four years ago, because I feared we’d somehow get on each other’s nerves and fall out, since we’d be in the same house rather than only meeting up occasionally (climbing at the Castle, driving to the cinema in north Finchley etc.).  Fortunately that proved to be unfounded, and we’re still best buddies… but will I ever get on with this new guy if things are this bad when he’s not yet officially moved in?  Will we work things out, or will he get annoyed at me for asking him to quieten down, or will I bottle it up until I snap at him?

Honestly, compared to this, and the things my dearest friends are going through, I’ve lost all interest in that insignificant “space invader” in my brain — it’s mostly gone, and the medication is working, so screw it, I can cope!  Actually, instead of feeling gloomy, let’s listen to a Jamiroquai song I heard today as I approached work — and while the Sun wasn’t exactly shining down, it lifted my spirits just a little…

(Yes, I’m listening to those three bands in medley, again — well, I got some new material for two of them recently, so why not do something that works?)

Feeling down

Well, at least I’ve spread my germs to all the selfish jerks who want to use the Tube every morning

Much like last year, I wish I could start by saying I’d had a good Christmas, but three things have conspired to make me feel down.  Not, for a change, public transport or things going wrong at my job (no four-year cycle repeating early 2015… though I am replaying Batman: Arkham Origins!), and although one of the things is a health matter, it’s nothing to do with “mind static” or brain tumours.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if the reason I had almost no colds after the beginning of the real series of partial seizures wasn’t that I was somehow super-healthy (or that $DEITY was giving me good luck in infection terms to counterbalance the bad luck in other health terms), but rather that the condition was somehow repressing illness symptoms, and I was actually getting colds just as much as ever?  Did I mention having a cold in early 2017, only for it to last a couple of days instead of weeks?  Yes I did, there’s a good Dave-ros — and although I had another cold the following year, which lingered a lot longer, more recently I’ve had a mild one (around my 41st 29th birthday in October), and while it was short-lived, I went through all the traditional symptoms, including copious amounts of snot.

(Oh, that third cold-related post had a similar title to one five years earlier — am I running out of material?)

And in December, just before I went down to visit my folks in Worthing for Christmas, I started getting a sore throat, although for once my journey on Southern was entirely untroubled (well, except having to start at a completely different station, and travel on Christmas Eve because the entire south coast railway was closed between Littlehampton and Brighton over the weekend).  My folks were happy with their presents, and I was happy with mine, and it looked like it’d be a nice break from London…

But then my sore throat kept getting worse, affecting my ability to even speak, and a cough began, which also got worse as the days went by.  I ended up retreating into my room and hardly interacting with my folks at all (other than the occasional walk to meet local friendly dogs), and I stupidly upset my mother by being impatient with her, perhaps even more than last Christmas, and making her feel unappreciated.  I’d been planning to play Wii Sports Resort and Nidhogg 2 with her during my break (and let her win at marble soldiers), but hiding in my room just seemed so much easier… and little things, like knocking on my door when I was doing something, could make me angry and unwilling to even try to talk.

(I hope it’s not a return of anxiety at sudden loud noises, though my team getting rowdy at work can certainly drive me into my shell, and make me put my headphones on… at least I don’t work with that woman any more!)

It’s not just my folks that I’ve disappointed, though: my American friend wanted to send me another package (most likely a third set of Transformers he’d bought for me), and though he got my address wrong in October, when it was eventually returned to him, he put my right address on and re-sent it, just in time for Christmas.  Indeed, it came so quickly that I got the card in time to pick it up from the depot on the weekend before Christmas, and open it on Skype in order to bring a smile to his face…

Nope, the local post office depot (let’s name and shame, like I first officially did in 2016: Finchley Church End Delivery Office) seem to have lost my “birthmas” present entirely — despite the postman having ticked the box to say it would be back at the depot for pickup, they couldn’t find it there when I came in with my card and passport, and they later admitted it was never checked back in after the attempted delivery before Christmas, so its location is now completely unknown.  Our neighbour on one side denies receiving it (we often take in packages for each other), and the house on the other side is vacant (the nice old Irishman sadly died a year or so ago), and no-one else in our street has tried to bring it to us.

They’ve even suggested it went to that flat up the street with the same number and postcode as our non-flat house (which I told you about in code here), but if that’s the case, why was the card put through our letterbox, and why didn’t the resident of “Flat 7, Yorkshire Works” bring the parcel to our house when they realised it wasn’t for them?

(Unless someone with my name lives there, of course, but how many Dave-roses are there in the entire world, let alone in this nice bit of London?)

Hey, what if the deliveryman put it in one of our bins, without actually telling us, and it’s thus been thrown away (or recycled, which would probably mean stolen and given to the thief’s children)?  If it does get returned to my Michigan friend a second time, I’ll ask him to change my address again — this time, to my family home in Worthing (still the destination for post relating to my student loans), so I can pick it up from somewhere it’s more likely to actually be delivered.  And if our local post here gets any worse, I’ll get my NHS letters redirected there as well (I’ve got more tests coming up in February, and naturally want to ensure I attend them).

Of course, it might not be our local post office that’s responsible for one final concern I have, but you never know: our energy company (name and shame: Eon) have now twice sent us not quarterly bills, but angry chasers for unpaid quarterly bills (August thus paid in early October, and November in early January).  Since the account is in our landlord’s name (not our landlady, but her dearly-departed husband, who we lost in 2013), it’ll be difficult getting through to them, but nonetheless I’ve been advised to ditch them entirely.  Perhaps it’s worth noting they also screwed over my folks, arbitrarily increasing their bills simply because they could…

I certainly can’t help but ponder the thought that they’re “accidentally” doing this at their end, to increase the chance of us running up a fine… wouldn’t be an isolated example of a private business trying to trick people into getting penalised as a revenue stream, judging from Mr. Mustard’s blog about parking/traffic fines, would it?

Well, I’ll just have to hope I get over this damn cough, patch things up with my mother and grandmother, and cope with the dreadful postal service… well, at least my cough’s lightening up a bit today, so that’s a good start — but last night it was so bad, my hacking actually made me feel like I pulled a muscle!  Indeed, senpai wanted me to go home from work early, despite the important stuff that needed doing, and it was only thanks to luck (and bumpers) that I beat four other people, including “best mate” and “drummer-trucker”, at bowling.

(Yes, lucky: my first bowl was a strike, straight down the middle of the lane — that hadn’t happened since my very first bowl ever, in October 1992!)

I’ll continue resting this weekend, hoping it’s just a cold my folks inadvertently brought back from the Canaries in November, but if I’m still feeling horrible on Monday morning, I’ll take a sick day so I can see the quack, in case it’s a throat infection (not for the first time, and neither was that, as I had one instead of “Fresher’s Flu” back in 1996).  This isn’t impossble, as I’ve had very little nasal activity so far, whereas at times my ear canals seem to ache, as though my Eustachian tubes are infected with the same bacteria.

I don’t want to be taking antibiotics at the same time as my anti-epilepsy medication, but hey, what choice would I have?