Category Archives: Optimism

Carrying on regardless (with apologies to the makers of “Carry On Regardless”)

Let us go about our duties as though a thousand useful years still lay before us.
—Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars (1912)

Even though nuclear destruction hangs over our heads, and even though I continue to fear for my employment and mental health, I’m determined to carry on living my life the way I want to live it — because I’ve spent too much of my life worrying, and frankly anxiety serves no useful purpose whatsoever.  Why live every day as though it’s your last, when you might have to live with the consequences?

Yeah, North Korea’s got nuclear weapons and is led by a fat pompous idiot who only cares about himself… exactly like the United States.  However, the world got through the Cold War relatively unscathed, and even though it got really close to a “Hot War” during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we’re here to talk about it — and so I have hope that we’ll get through this crisis as well, instead of descending into madness.  I’m certainly not gonna drink myself silly or give away all my earthly possessions in anticipation of armageddon; I’m gonna carry on living as though the future stretches ahead of me.

And similarly, I’m not going to worry about “boss lady” being back in the office tomorrow, as I don’t think I’ve done anything to warrant her wrath.  Oh, today I had a conversation that may have resulted in a complaint, but I certainly hope not — I wasn’t demanding the team that handles incoming calls start taking messages from the obvious salesmen who call up asking for named people in my team, instead of putting them straight through to us; I was simply discussing it with one of their team (coincidentally the one I was recently falsely accused of saying “go away” to), and another member of her team overheard and felt she had to “interject”, somewhat perturbed at the implication that they’re supposed to be PAs for everyone else in the organisation.

I hope I smoothed over that by agreeing with her, and showing I understood how overworked they are by all the incoming calls, meaning they don’t have time to talk to the obvious salesmen or take messages (since they’ll just call back anyway), but considering how complaints against me have started in the past, well…

However, at least some of those complaints about my apparent attitude could surely be explained away by my mental health issues — anxiety and mild panic attacks (at least I’ve never had a fugue… or at least, not that I remember), depression if I take ibuprofen for my headaches… and that damn “brain fuzz” that still afflicts me, even after raising my blood iron levels.  When it’s really bad, I can’t even understand what people are saying to me, no matter how familiar they are — it’s like they’re speaking a foreign language entirely!

I’m convinced it’s down to my neck and shoulder pains, triggered by neck movements (such as looking to the side), and a result of stress making me hunch my shoulders… but no lifestyle changes I’ve tried so far has made a difference, including not listening to Gwar on my headphones, not having espresso at work in the mornings, going to bed early instead of staying up to watch Family Guy (these early nights often just result in me waking up around 3am and not being able to get back to sleep for ages), which is why I’m feeling like I should stop worrying about them and carry on doing the things I’ve always enjoyed… though I’ll still follow through with seeing my quack, to arrange a liaison with a neurologist.

Mind you, I’ve got a couple of other thoughts about what gives me the dizzy spells, or at least exacerbates them: aspartame, for example — I had some Dr. Pepper today, and I feel like that led to a bout while I was helping someone at her desk (and couldn’t understand what she was saying to me).  There’s also been a gaping hole in our kitchen wall since just before my first serious set of “brain fuzz” attacks — thanks to British Gas, who never offered to fix it — and although this house tests negative for carbon monoxide, perhaps some other miasma is coming out of there.

(Another thing that happened the night before my first set of serious attacks was receiving a package from my American friend in Michigan, and I’ve heard about a certain virus going around there…)

One thing that isn’t helping is the fact that I’ve taken on the burden of collecting bill money from all my housemates, so I can pay our rent to the landlady, Council Tax to our corrupt Tory council, and other bills to the relevant fat cats.  However, this has also been stressful, as I reused my old Co-op Bank account, which I probably should have closed.  Remember my problems with them in 2016?  Somehow I hadn’t been overdrawn again since then (I honestly expected them to charge me some kind of fee without prior warning), and so I decided to get my housemates to pay their shares into this account, rather than my main one, so it would be easier to keep track of ins and outs.

However, after everyone had paid in their shares by Saturday (including “best mate”, before he left to go to Vietnam for the entire month), it took until Monday for our landlady to receive the rent amount; this was partly because they needed to phone me to confirm it wasn’t fraud, and I’d foolishly not updated my phone numbers (I think they were calling my old office in Camden!), but also, it would seem, partly because it was the weekend and so they wouldn’t process anything until Monday.

Fortunately our landlady came to accept this, even though she was nagging us to pay our rent on the 1st of the month, despite our housing contract stipulating the 3rd of the month!  However, judging from my Co-op Bank statement (as it’s stabilised today), they only processed a lot of things on Monday — and for some reason they debited my account by the rent amount before they credited it with two of my housemates’ rent amounts, thus meaning I was technically overdrawn, even if it was for a small amount of time!

If they even hint at charging me a fee for an “unauthorised overdraft”, I’ll go to the ombudsman — this isn’t comparable to the times in December 2015 that I wrongly took money out from cash machines that wasn’t in my Co-op account (I objected to the means by which they fined me, not being fined in and of itself); instead, this almost seems like they “mixed up” my credits and debit deliberately, so they make me be overdrawn and thus justify fining me!

I’m tired of worrying, so screw the Co-op if they try to rip me off, and screw my anxiety about facing discipline at work for emotional reactions I can’t control — I like my job and genuinely want to help the people I work with, but if that isn’t enough, well, I’ve had a good innings.  And if there’s some kind of tumour in my brain, or incipient epilepsy, or just plain ol’ stress headaches, well, I won’t let ’em make me live like some kind of timid health freak — I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, keeping fit while occasionally pigging out, and treating worry as the biggest health risk of all.

Above all, though: SCREW TRUMP AND KIM!!!  I’m not being cute, I genuinely hope both fall from power and leave their respective peoples to forge their own lives instead of living in fear and hatred.  Indeed, I’d love to see them settle their differences one-on-one while the real people of the world watch in delight (and only caring who wins in gambling terms), much as Frankie Goes To Hollywood once suggested to Reagan andChernenko in the 1980s…


The Brightening

bb_sunsetEven though it’s only mid-to-late February, the weather’s already improving, to the point that at times it feels almost like summer — and this has led to a rise in my spirits, which can only be a good thing (unless you believe things going right for me directly cause things to go wrong in the world, e.g. Trump getting elected).

For someone recovering from depression, sunshine is vital; I knew this intellectually (hence buying that SAD light at Christmas in 2014), but I realised it viscerally three weeks ago, when I visited the Westway climbing centre.  I really felt positive that evening, not just because I’d conquered the feelings I had back in November 2014, but mainly because the light inside felt natural; it was obviously artificial (because sunset happened even before I got on the Tube there), but I allowed myself to enjoy the illusion that it was a summer evening, and still light outside at 7pm!

In a similar vein, being in a nice warm office (i.e. during the periods that the war over aircon has reached a stalemate) but being able to look out the window at nice strong sunshine made me feel like the winter’s finally over.  Of course, actually going outside for Pokémon lunch quickly shattered that illusion last week, but this weekend it was actually (ahem) uncold enough that when I visited my folks in Worthing, the local barber who I always get to cut my hair had his door wide open, reminding me of December in Mediterranean Spain, when I’d cook dinner at night with the door open, in defiance of the cold.

Best of all, there’s no need to have the heating on at home pretty much at all now.  The outside temperature’s mostly staying above 10°C (for Americans, that’s about “fifty degrees”), and this means it’s tolerably uncold in here all the time, instead of making me sick and unhappy.  On cold nights I’d sleep in longjohns — or on the coldest nights, longjohns and dressing gown — but now I can relax in shorts and a T-shirt, and not even need night socks.

(Oh, have I just caused you to picture me in my nightclothes?  Well, good… if you’re a beautiful woman, of course — if not, imagine something else, I’m not here for your amusement!)

Of course, every silver lining has a cloud: every time I feel better, something tries to bring me down again.  Today, it was (guess who?) my boss lady, who felt the need to remind me to answer tickets in the order in which they arrive, as I’d left a grand fromage hanging for an entire hour (leaving aside our minimum response time being four hours), while focusing instead on homeworking staff needing assistance due to a problem we were having with our remote desktop system.

I know, she was just miffed that I’d neglected someone “important” while focussing on my “flock” (a bit like missing an audience with the Pope to heal the sick?), but every time something like this happens, I feel like it’s undoing all the good work I’ve done so far — that a hundred good deeds can be reversed by one screw-up.  I have to remind myself that if she really thought I was a liability, she’d have arranged some kind of sinister meeting with me already (possibly involving an electric cattle prod) — that I’m not hanging by a thread (like a year ago), I just need to buck up and make sure it doesn’t happen again… right?

Oh, and “best mate” is away in some far-flung region of the Four Kingdoms for work all week — so good job the weather’s improved: if it was still cold, I’d miss him being in his room downstairs every evening, running his electric heater and thus indirectly warming my room to a tolerable level.  Not that I’m saying I only need him around to improve my lot, of course…

But never mind, I can actually go out in the evenings this week to enjoy myself, and not be afraid I’ll come home to find it’s 15°C in here at 11pm, with little prospect of it getting any warmer!  Or, I could just stay in, avoiding tiring social contact, and play games (and write in this blog), which I’ve been neglecting lately due to evening activities.

What do you reckon I should do?  Oh, really?  Well, who do you think you are, a proctologist?!

Going up in the world


Okay, this is the Castle, but it’s the only climbing picture I’ve got, so quit your whinin’!

Even as the world goes to Hell in a handbasket, my life seems to be returning to the relative calm and enjoyment of 2013.  No, I’ve not got another camping holiday in the western USA planned (though my old roommate’s brother wants me to visit Michigan again), but once again I’m getting paid a decent wage and no longer having to worry about making ends meet — and for this reason I’ve been able to go back somewhere I hadn’t been in years…

I’m referring to the Westway leisure centre, a place I hadn’t visited for climbing (aside from one rare evening in 2015) since that horrible night in November 2014.  For those who need reminding, I was recovering from four night shifts in that 24/7 job I was already regretting taking on, and I was so delayed getting to the Westway by the dreadful Circle Line that not only did I have to queue for 15 minutes just to get in (behind two lines of obnoxious beefcakes), but they had no lockers free for me to put my stuff in, and there was no way in the aforementioned Hell that I was gonna leave my bag ON TOP of the lockers, and risk having my stuff nicked!  I knew I couldn’t climb if I was having an anxiety attack, and so went home (fortunately getting a refund on my entry fee) to berate myself for not going to a more familiar place for my evening socialisation.

Fortunately, even though it’s a similarly dark time of year, I had no flashbacks this Tuesday as I travelled there after work (maybe because we weren’t sitting at Edgware Road for ages), and was able to climb without issue… so why hadn’t I been back there more often since that fateful day?  Forget anxiety, it was cost: I was already paying monthly membership at the Castle, and so didn’t feel I could justify an entry fee somewhere else as well while I was living hand-to-mouth in two successive jobs, even when I went permanent in my current role.  It’s only now I’ve had a pay rise that I can bring myself to pay £10 (give or take) to cheat on my usual climbing centre — and since I can now afford to eat out some evenings as well, I can stay in London for events instead of rushing home for dinner and then rushing back out again!

Another positive outcome of my pay rise has been the confidence to buy myself that new monitor I was on about before — or rather, a better one: I have joined the 4k generation, with a whole extra inch on the screen size, and the only problem I’ve faced (aside from finding 3840×2160 wallpaper that isn’t just badly upscaled from 1920×1080) has been convincing Windows 7 to display things at a viewable size, as it was designed back when 4k was a multi-monitor pipe dream.  Windows 10 may perform better at higher resolutions, but I value my privacy too much…

(And yes, I still have every intention of taking the old monitor down to Worthing for my mother to use, instead of selling it… because hey, I’d get twenty quid at most!)

One more sign of improvement is that my boss now trusts me to work from home in an emergency, even if she jokes about forcing me (and the other newest member of the team) to come in at all costs while the rest of them go to a burger joint.  We’ve figured out why I couldn’t remote onto my workplace PC through Citrix (DNS, don’t go there), and so I can do almost everything from right here on my home computer that I would normally need to be in the office to do.  Much of my job involves remoting onto other people’s PCs, or their Citrix sessions, or indeed onto servers for various functions — so, think on this: one day, while working from home, I might remote onto one of the Proxy PRO servers in order to access someone’s home-working laptop, and thus go three deep!

Obviously while working from home, I wouldn’t be able to do physical tasks like replacing printer toner or moving equipment around — but if the Tube strikes were still going ahead next week, no-one else would be in the office to need those services anyway, would they?  No, I’m fully prepared and able to keep the important systems of my workplace running, even if events conspire to stop me physically coming in… oh, wait, my password expired over the weekend, and now I can’t log into Citrix.  Argh!

I just wish spring would hurry up, as only the gradually brightening mornings (and the fact that it’s only twilight when I leave work) signify that we’re coming out of winter.  I haven’t had the usual 1st February five-minute sunlight-on-windows sign this year, presumably due to the cloud, and the weather’s due to get cold again this coming week, as bad as January and far worse than December… how I wish I had a home of my own, where I could sort out the insulation and have the heating on whenever I want — that’s the way in which I want my prospects to improve next!

2016: Good or bad?


Justin Bieber, tragically still with us

I’m sure no-one out there is ignorant of the fact that a lot of bad things happened in 2016, some of which make 2017 a terrifying prospect — like Trump somehow being elected US President, ready to take office next month, or the Brexit vote bringing out the worst racist elements in British society, with the prospect of EU laws that protect workers, gay rights etc. being swept away by our increasingly right-wing government.

And, of course, there’s the people who died — David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Kenny Baker, Carrie Fisher, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Gene Wilder… as though 2014 and 2015 hadn’t been bad enough, robbing us of Dave Brockie, Robin Williams, Leonard Nimoy, Terry Pratchett…

Yeah, okay, 2016 was — broadly speaking — awful, and the rising fascist anti-human rights movements on both sides of the Atlantic will try to make things worse in 2017 for everyone (except rich white men), unless decent people oppose them at every turn… but considering how my fortunes have changed this year, can you blame me for being selfishly optimistic?

Yes, I’m hopeful that 2017 will be good for me, if no-one else; even though I’ll have to face an embarrassing birthday in October, at least now I have more money in the bank (which is to say, any at all) compared to the start of this year, so I can afford a holiday at the time.  Admittedly I spent £150 more than I took in this month, even though I didn’t need to pay my personal trainer (or pay food bills or put money on my Oyster card for the past week or so), but hey, it’s Christmas, right?  I’ve also got extra coming in next payday, after the overtime I put in this month, which should more than make up for it!

Moreover, after landing this IT job in 2015, I’ve managed to make a name for myself at my workplace, build confidence with both computers and human interaction, and prove how hard-working and indispensable I am — despite that issue at the start of the year that nearly ended it all.  Yes, Friday, 15th January 2016, the day my boss told me I was hanging by a thread, will ever live in infamy… but I’m reliably informed that she likes me now, and so do the staff!

Speaking of being appreciated: even though I’m still single, 2016 was better in dating terms for me than any previous year (with the possible exception of 1998) — simply because, in amongst the many one-off dates that went nowhere, there were three near-misses: an Indian girl with an American accent that I saw twice; a Chinese young mother from Oxford that I was almost in a long-distance relationship with; and, most recently, a Far Eastern twentysomething who I almost got to see a third time — and who proved that I’m not automatically put off by glasses-wearing or “plus-size” women, and that I’m after the whole package, not just a pretty ornament.

Considering how non-existent my love life was when I began this blog, and even before that in early 2012, I’d say things are improving, wouldn’t you?  Hell, I had zero dates in my teens, and only got to third base around the time I turned 21 because I was in another country; I didn’t really “start” dating until I was 35-going-on-36, during the summer of 2013 (as you guys know), and while late ’14 to early ’15 was a setback, largely because I was also suffering in terms of my fledgling IT career, I’ve made up for it this year.  I’m finally confident approaching women and asking them out (at least electronically), and if I’ve not found someone in ’16, that’s because I’m going to find someone better in ’17… right?

Of course, my career could go horribly wrong next year — especially if the Tories bring in American-style “at will” working (where you can be fired for literally any reason at all, just as long as you can’t prove it was down to discrimination), and make us all into temporary workers with no job security.  I hope not: while visiting my folks in Worthing is nice for Christmas, I’m certain I don’t want to move back here (2000 to ’03 was bad enough), so I need steady rent money coming in.

Similarly, I might have one too many romantic failure to cope with, and swear off women entirely; or, I might think I’m “getting lucky”, only to have false allegations destroy my life.  But why worry about such things, and why give myself an excuse to wimp out of even going out and trying, like I did in my most depressed days in 2011?  Might as well worry about my brain apparently doing funny things recently, when it was probably just caffeine and stress combined with normal feelings of “deja vu”, which aren’t entirely unusual to me at the best of times anyway.

No, I’ve got too much to live for in 2017, and I’ll have to hope that the world is gracious enough to let me enjoy my life, instead of trying to bring me down.  Indeed, my biggest hope is that the real reason Trump has chosen such evil men for his cabinet is that he expects a terrorist attack, and wants them all in one certain place at the time of the “event”, thereby performing a presidential duty.

(Am I naive for thinking he might be capable of such (ahem) goodness… or indeed, intelligent and resourceful planning?)

And if all else fails, at least I’ve got video games and TV.  I’m planning to rewatch Game of Thrones during 2017 (and watch the fifth and sixth seasons for the first time), as well as keeping up with Doctor Who, and I’ve done well out of the inevitable Christmas sale on Steam (let’s see if Alien: Isolation is anywhere near as scary as Amnesia: The Dark Descent).  Of course, if my main computer (which I need for Blu-rays as well as modern gaming) isn’t working when I get back to London, I may be in trouble… and that’s assuming I can even travel, thanks to Southern!

Damn, I’m losing my optimism again — okay, how about this: thanks to my folks, I’ve got a new (well, second-hand) smartphone for the first time since 2013, and it’s sufficiently advanced that I can finally play Pokémon GO.  Neat, huh?  Er… happy new year…

Pre-Nativity naïveté


Hey, even Eric Cartman would make a better US President than Trump or Pence… ooh, controversial?

Perhaps it’s a combination of the various potions and philtres I’ve been taking to combat my latest cold, but today, despite all the things in the world and my personal life that suck, I felt strangely energised, and optimistic about the future — the next few days, the next few months, maybe even the next few years…

Let’s be honest, I need naïve optimism to keep me going through these dark times, much as I did four years ago — because it’s better than giving in to pessimism (or, as peasants call it, realism), and I don’t want to undo all my years of progress, especially after my last post.  So, in no particular order, here’s what I’m feeling positive about in the run-up to Christmas:

  • Although my landlady’s putting up the rent, and two of my housemates are moving out (one the girl who moved in three years ago in place of our household leaderene, the other my former-drummer housemate who’s been the landlady’s proxy since then), I won’t let this “change” bother me too much: I’ve dealt with new housemates before, and I get a wage increase in April — so financially and mentally, I should be all right staying here a bit longer.  No need to worry about going back to Worthing for more than the length of the Christmas holidays — and one day I might even be able to get a mortgage on a real home, with my mother’s help!

(Pretty important, considering one of our potential replacement housemates is a 56-year-old man… still renting at that age?!)

  • Although I’ve got a nasty cold, I’m already over the sore throat stage, and despite recent aches, my legs aren’t currently in any particular pain — indeed, I was able to do some on-the-spot jogging without hurting my ankle all over again, and I can actually jog around without gasping for breath!
  • Even though the heating in this house has gone wrong again (thanks to British Gas, named and shamed), just on the eve of an “Arctic blast”, I’ve fought my fear of the cold and elected to take a day off work, staying here in the house — partly to get over my cold (solidly in the snot stage), and partly to welcome the gasman to look at our heaters, yet again (after failing to arrive on Saturday — British Gas, named and shamed again!).  Maybe this time they’ll actually fix it so that the ground floor radiators work, and stop mine leaking and only getting hot at the top?
  • Donald Trump may be a total scumbag who is a couple of months away from becoming the most powerful man in the world (all because the Democrats chose an unelectable woman rather than a socialist man), but I have optimistic faith that his own party will hamstring his efforts to “make America great again”, as I think even the Republicans can’t stomach the Hitleresque things he allegedly wants to do — and that’s if he even plans to go through with them at all: I’ve already been surprised at how right I was about some of his actions (such as not bothering to arrest the aforementioned unelectable woman), and I think he’s going to abandon his own thuggish quasi-Brownshirt supporters, in an event to be known as… “Night of the Long Faces”.

(I’m even naïvely hoping that he won’t be assassinated and leave Pence as preznit, because that man genuinely is dangerous!)

  • Thanks to putting a picture of Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown under my team’s “IT” signage, my boss now thinks I’m officially part of the IT family, so at long last I feel like I belong and won’t get fired for ludicrous reasons — and that thus I can hang on in my job, at a place I enjoy working, learn more skills and get better at everything that matters to me (rather than just slum it as 1st Line for the rest of my life), and make ends meet no matter how hard the Tories try to make our vision of the future a smart shoe stamping on a poor person’s face forever!
  • And on that topic, maybe the Royal Family will absorb the cost of doing up Buckingham Palace themselves, instead of taking the money from overburdened taxpayers, as a show of solidarity with the people who actually matter in this country?  (After all, what use is a royal family if no-one’s left alive to make their position meaningful?)
  • Even though I couldn’t climb at the Castle with “best mate” this weekend (aside from my cold, I was waiting in for the gasman — fruitlessly, thanks again British Gas!), I hope to be able to go tomorrow, safe in the knowledge that my room won’t be down to 14ºC when I get home, simply because I’ll have been keeping it warm all day (but in higher spirits than when I was unemployed in late 2014)!
  • Somehow, I’ll build a PC for my mother this Christmas, I just know it…

So there you go, my naïve optimism — some may call themselves realists, but I call them FOOLS!  But which do you think is my most improbable article of faith: that Trump won’t turn out to be as bad as people fear… or that British Gas (ugh, spit!) will actually fix our heating some time before next summer…?

Into darkness?


At least watching Futurama on the Tube cheers me up

It’s a week after America smashed all expectations and elected an idiot to the White House who wasn’t related to a previous idiot, and who is such an idiot that he needs the help of his charismatic predecessor to figure out what he’s actually supposed to do.  Racist and homophobic attacks are up, just like they were here after the Brexit vote, and the other side appear to be no better, rioting as they apparently are.

On this side of the Atlantic, things aren’t much better: claims by our own incoming leader May (certainly not PM elect, though) that she’d support hard-working people and the disabled turn out to have been an outright lie, as working families will now get less help, apparently their own fault for having chosen to have kids without being rich enough to weather a recession, and disabled people will still have to prove they’re still disabled regularly (even if they have terminal conditions), and will lose everything if they make the slightest mistake (almost as though the bureaucrats are waiting for any excuse).

And meanwhile, in my own life, just when everything seemed to be going okay, and even my boss reckons I’m doing fine in my job (on the grounds that if I did something wrong, she wouldn’t wait for our annual meeting to let me know about it), along comes my landlady to hike up our rent 10%, with no guarantee that she won’t do the same thing next year, “depending on the market”; in other words, she’s doing it because she can, not because it somehow became 10% more expensive to be our landlady.  So that’ll be an extra £50 per month for nothing whatsoever… so much for my efforts to save!

I can’t ask my folks back in Worthing for any significant help, because my mother’s had to stop working in order to care for my ailing grandmother full-time — and I can’t move them up here to Greater London in order to rescue them from that dismal place, so if something goes wrong here, I’ll end up having to go back there, probably forever (I’ve decided that if I ever have to move away from London, I will never return, not even for a visit).  And if the reason I have to go back home is that my fortunes have faltered, or I’m injured, the government won’t help me — indeed, it feels like they’ll actively work against me to drive me further down.

And to make matters worse, healthwise I’m not doing so good: the ankle I rolled on nearly four years ago is hurting badly again (apparently because I had the temerity to jog barefoot on my own bedroom floor), I’m bunged up with seasonal mucus (with perhaps a cold coming on), and I’m finding it hard to get far below 13st. weight, thanks to the twin evils of chocolate and pizza.  My left wrist has also been hurting lately (no, wash your minds out, it’s due to leaning it on my desk while wearing a Fitbit), all my other joints protest regularly (especially my hips).

And it’s getting cold again, after a mild few days, so I can look forward to coming home to find my room is 14°C (that’s below 60°F, for our American viewers), so I’ll have to use my electric heater to make it even remotely habitable.  And it’s dark in the evenings, and getting dark in the mornings again.

(And I won’t even start on my lack of a girlfriend, less than a year before the big four-oh…)

Last time you’ll remember I went on at length about my PC; I know it’s the geek equivalent of souping up a car, but I like to think it’s marked my gradual improvement over the years, while maintaining the same essential core — I could have replaced everything including the motherboard at great expense, but instead I’ve saved money through piecemeal upgrades.  However, much like my life seemed to be going right but is now facing problems, this contraption’s having all sorts of issues now — and apparently they began back in July.  Why is The Witcher III crashing when I’m so close to the end of this epic?  What causes wmipvrse.exe to crash at startup, but only some of the time, and with no useful error message?  Is it the same thing that causes Word 2013 to crash in the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 at work, but only when Group Policy updates, and then only some of the time?  That’s a problem I’m supposed to resolve, for three people (four counting a senior member of staff), but I feel like I’m letting the side down, as nothing I’ve tried has worked so far.

But I’m not gonna let all this get me down: if necessary I’ll take St. John’s wort, or even go to counselling again, but I won’t give up on the life I’ve built.  I won’t let my government make me feel like I need to hurry up and fail; instead, I’ll work hard at my job, and hold on tight until April, when I should be getting a small pay rise that ought to cover my landlady’s increase.  I am, after all, lucky that she didn’t impose that increase last year (or worse, two years ago when I was unemployed — then I’d have told London to go f*** itself, and gone back to Worthing without hesitation!), and to her credit, she took British Gas to task for their incompetence in fixing our heating and hot water.

And as per my boss’s advice, I’ll stop worrying so much about my weight — maybe I place too much stock in what Wii Fit Plus tells me to do, and maybe I’m fine as I am (as long as I don’t go completely nuts, of course).  Naturally I want to continue seeing my personal trainer, but this might be tricky in the current climate; I’ll just have to be firm and tell him I’m cutting back a little more, but certainly not stopping entirely — it’s always possible I’ll be earning more than I think in 2017, much as happened in 2012 (and enabled me to pay for that life-changing holiday in America), and that I’ll finally be able to sort out a house to live in, escaping rent forever.

I went through bad depression at the end of 2011, as I’m sure you’re tired of reminding me, but after that my life was better and more hopeful.  I note I’ve started doing something I used to do when I first moved to Finchley, in the dark months of 2012: as the Northern Line emerges from the tunnel south of East Finchley, I see street lights twinkle into view as the trees thin out, and then the white glow of The Old White Lion, a comforting light in the darkness, and a sign that my journey’s nearly over.  This kept me going as I put my head together back then, and it’s helping me now to combat the darkness within.

As $DEITY is my witness, I WILL NOT GIVE UP this close to what might potentially be the best time of my life — no matter what happens!

Not so immature


This is one presidential campaign where Richard Pryor’s advice to vote “none of the above” is very sound

I suppose if I could say one good thing about Donald Trump (making Hillary Clinton look like a better US Presidential candidate isn’t “good”, as she’s hardly a saint), it’s that he’s made me feel better about myself.  Purely by accident, of course, because I’m not an American voter, and even if I were, he only truly cares about himself and (possibly) his business cronies.  I’d never vote for him… because he doesn’t want votes from people like me, he wants latter-day Brown Shirts, and I’m better than that.

You may remember my vitriolic outburst against racist scumbags in my own country, emboldened by Brexit but always with us; indeed, I was uncannily prescient about how they’d go after gays next (according to a song sung in Trafalgar Square)!  I also somehow predicted in that post (not that it took a “yuge” mental leap) that Trump would salivate at the thought of access to nukes, but naively, I had no idea about the depths of his sexism… yes, I’m on about the recording of him boasting about grabbing women by the P-word and so on, something which incenses me.

No, I’m not on the Internet just to say “ooh, I’m offended”, so if you’re reading, Stephen Fry, please rein in your contempt (well, for that specific thing at least, I know I’m not as erudite as your good self!).  What I want to say is that I genuinely feel I’m better than the scumbags voting for Trump because, in addition to Muslims and Mexicans being kicked out, they appear to want women returned to their former second-class status (some even apparently want the 19th Amendment rolled back), in the same way that I feel I’m better than the aforementioned sub-humans who join the BNP and EDL in this country.

Why?  Well, first of all, the reason I’m incensed is that there’s this notion that all heterosexual men are supposed to be like Trump — brash, arrogant and trash-talking women while around other men.  Now, I’ve been told off in the past for letting the side down (how naively I thought back then that I’d only complain about my love life just that once!), and indeed on one occasion, by a friend I respected, for not thinking about a close female friend in sexual terms.  I’ve never been that way, and never been comfortable with this so-called “locker room talk”; I think it’s because I don’t want to share my sexuality with other blokes — I want to find a woman for me, not so I can compete with those buttmunches, as generally other men’s opinion of me is irrelevant and valueless.

And no, I’m not “p*ssy-whipped”, or a “well-trained man”, responding in some kind of Pavlovian manner to psychological manipulation by the “superior sex” — I got here on my own.

(Well, okay, maybe it’s thanks in some part to my mother and grandmother, as well as “female best friend” and “other female best friend”, amongst others — but rather than training, they simply showed me that women deserve respect!)

As with never wanting to get drunk (I was once wrongly complimented for this apparent “willpower”), it’s not some conscious opposition to my nature, it’s the way I am.  I’m an intelligent and compassionate person who doesn’t see empowered women as a threat, or demand that they “know their place”, and I’m not trying desperately to prove I’m “modern” and “right-thinking” in the face of feminism, fearful of ending up being lumped with the scumbags I despise.  I agree with feminism — or at least what it’s supposed to be, the drive for gender equality.

This is why I no longer think I’m some immature manchild.  Yes, I play violent video games (just got Doom for my birthday — thanks Mumsy!), listen to heavy metal (*cough*GWAR*cough*), watch cartoons (though Futurama and South Park aren’t exactly for kids!) and make goofy jokes all the time, but I don’t arrogantly flirt with women like they’re obliged to submit to me, and then insult them when they fail to respond as they “should”.  Those are the truly immature men, the ones who are stuck in a worthless past that we shouldn’t aspire to restore, thinking they’ve some $DEITY-given right to do whatever they want simply because of their genitalia.

(Like Trump, of course, but let’s not give him too much airtime in this blog…)

I don’t want all heterosexual men to end up as second-class citizens, desperately trying to atone for simply being attracted to women, as some kind of sins-of-the-father reparation (I’m sure you’ll recall me saying something similar three years ago, and probably many times thereafter) — it’s the swaggering, arrogant kind I consider to be relics of the past.  Forgive me for my hubris, but I truly believe I’m better than them — not because I grew out of that immature chauvinism, but because (aside from holding some foolish opinions after getting hurt now and again) I was NEVER like that, and never wanted to be.  I don’t understand why men act in such abhorrent ways towards women, and frankly I hope I never do; it reminds me too much of the bullies at school.

Yeah, I’ve long fantasised about women (because I’m not gay, just in case that point isn’t clear), but never about abusing or degrading them, or treating them like disposable objects.  True, I want to be a dashing hero who rescues a beautiful damsel (which you might still think is a bit old-fashioned), but rest assured she would come to me out of desire, rather than reluctantly believing she’s obliged to “reward” me.  And yes, since it’s a fantasy, I’d have the lovemaking abilities of a god, and leave her utterly satisfied — not to gain some kind of power over her, but to make her happy.

I think this newly-discovered maturity is why I hold no grudge against any of the women I’ve dated but with whom it didn’t work out — especially the most recent one, who I really thought was a keeper.  It was disappointing, but I’m glad she was honest with me that she didn’t feel the spark, and I didn’t demand she retroactively pay me for the meal, like some kind of refund (yes, that kind of thing actually happens, for a tabloid definition of “happens”).

I know I’ve complained in the past about how hard it is to find someone, but I’ve grown up during my search over the past few years (perhaps in part thanks to this blog), and I’m sensible enough now to know it’s not because womankind as a whole is too stuck-up to give me a chance, but just bad luck and a lack of self-confidence on my part (and low motivation when I was in my 20s, possibly because I had close female friends and didn’t feel a desperate yearning).

Of course, I might just be a great big coward who’s afraid to try anything too forward with women in case I get accused of heinous sexism (and wonder whether a richer, better-looking guy would be condemned for the same action), but I like to think I’m actually a good guy by nature… am I right?  Can I chart a course between swaggering Scylla and sulking Charybdis*, and be quietly confident with the right woman, thrilling rather than offending or boring her?

(How many Trump supporters know what I mean, or even think anyone should care?  I’ve no problem with a lack of knowledge, but their rampant anti-intellectualism is something I utterly despise!)

If I do find someone and raise a family with her, and other good guys do the same, will this lead to a new generation of men who behave like civilised beings instead of cavemen, but instead of doing so out of fear of retribution from female peers (or cynically in an attempt to get girls), do it simply because it’s the right thing to do…?