Category Archives: Self-analysis

Belligerent socialising

Maybe it’s the anti-epilepsy medication I’m on, but I’ve found myself to be rather more talkative at work than before — chatty, humorous (without being offensive), and supportive to my “flock”.  However, today I’ve had an experience that makes me feel like I need to tone it down, as I really didn’t enjoy the presence of an extrovert at a social event… though doubtless it’s all my fault somehow, as it usually is.

(Ah, there’s the mood swing my medication warned me about — at least it took over a week!)

My Polish friend (who, considering we haven’t kissed beyond polite cheek pecks, probably isn’t my girlfriend and is more like a “friend who is a girl”) invited me today to an event, at a famous vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the Regent Street area, for a meetup group concerning animal welfare.  I was feeling exhausted after yesterday (my first personal training session in over a month), not to mention lethargic from a combination of the aforementioned medication and January being the most dismal month of the year, but still wanted to go and keep her company (since she was the one who asked), and so set off for the city centre to meet her.  So far, so good.

However, it seems I still don’t like forced socialising, as although I can talk to unfamiliar people in a small group, gradually getting to know them, I still can’t stand it when someone — almost always a bloke with a loud voice — barges into the group, acting like he’s doing us a favour, and droning on and on and on in a manner that suggests he thinks he’s a skilled orator… I felt a little shame for loathing the presence of this guy, but felt like I was trapped: my female friend was staying put (and even joining in the conversation), and I didn’t think I could just walk away from her, and I also worried that simply leaving to talk to someone else would be considered rude.

(I’d already lost my opportunity to go talk to a cute Far Eastern girl with pink hair, who was talking to some other bloke, and is probably engaged by now… yes, that’s the mood swing again!)

Things like this have happened before, including at Japanese meetup events (which is why I can’t bring myself to go to them any more, despite still being interested in the language and the people — plus I hate loud, crowded places).  One time in 2012, I was sitting alone when I suddenly found myself surrounded by white English blokes, with Japanese girlfriends, who were all acting friendly in the sense that there was no possible way I could be uncomfortable with them intruding like that.  I didn’t enjoy their company one bit, and excused myself to buy a drink.  I nearly walked out entirely, but with a cider in hand, I managed to get together with a group of Japanese girls for conversation.  Not with the intention of pulling one of them (well, not the sole intention), but because they were (a) actually Japanese (the whole point of the event), and (b) female (whose company I find much less intimidating than male)!

I suppose I haven’t changed much over the past few years: if anything, I enjoy socialising even less than I did when I worked in that dead-end admin job up to 2014, when at least meetup events (and especially Meetup.com events) meant a change from my dull working environment.  Now, after spending my entire week helping familiar people, and trying to be funny, I find I want nothing more than to relax at home afterwards, even at the weekend.  In fact, I’d love it if I never had to socialise again — but there’s no other way I’m ever likely to find the girl of my dreams, so I feel obliged to keep going to social events, no matter how uncomfortable I am.

Indeed, socialising is considered an obligation for human beings, and even my own mother has told me off for not wanting to enthusiastically shake hands with strangers in social settings, or to let random blokes strike up conversations with me when I’m at singles events.  That’s the thing: I still don’t want to make new male friends just for the sake of it, and new male friends happen more by chance than anything (“best mate”, my personal trainer, my yoga teacher etc.).  It’s simple: although a few blokes turn out, astonishingly, to be worthy of my friendship, most men in the world hold zero interest for me, because I’ve never wanted to be “one of the lads” or have “drinking buddies”, or watch sportsball with other blokes.

To balance, though, there are times guys have approached me and we’ve got talking (like an occasion back in 2013 you may remember, though I never really saw that group again) — it all depends on the energy.  I’m happy to make new acquaintances, for example, when I go climbing at the Castle, and I say hi to blokes I’m familiar with when I see them at the Session (one looks like my old school friend in the 1990s, another resembles the actor Kevin Eldon).  It’s when I’m at a social event and someone with a large, overbearing personality forces me to interact with them that I get up-tight and withdrawn.  Maybe they’re an introvert like me, trying to make a new friend but misjudging their approach, and if they see they’re intimidating and dial it back a bit, fair enough — that’s something I can empathise with.  But it’s the extroverts I want to avoid, because they don’t even have a dial to turn back: they’re incessantly, belligerently sociable, and act like the only reason you’re not fawning over them is that they haven’t been loud and cheerful enough yet.

(Hence the problem I had with a certain work colleague many years ago…)

It’s not just me who has social interaction issues, though: I remember a time a couple of years ago when I was attending a dating guidance event led by (just to name her for once) Hayley Quinn; I was watching other people’s interactions, keeping myself to myself and woolgathering, when suddenly the bloke sitting next to me — who I wasn’t even looking at, and who could only see the back of my head — suddenly all but shouted a “sociable” question, almost right in my ear!  That’s right, he didn’t even tap me on the shoulder (or otherwise attract my attention) and introduce himself, he just blurted it out, and boy, that really ground my gears, making me want to interact with him as little as possible.

Today: everyone in the entire human race!

Back to the incident at today’s event: although she was happy to leave with me when she saw I was uncomfortable, my Polish friend seemed to think I was in the wrong, and that if I didn’t like the loudmouth, I should have just walked away from the group and spoken to someone else — but like I said above, I felt like I had a Hobson’s choice, and would be in the wrong simply for not liking the guy from the get-go (since he wasn’t rude or violent), whether I clammed up, walked away or told him to turn it down.  As though you should like anyone who is polite, no matter how much they grate on your nerves!

However, the fact that I’m talking so much at work at the moment — being political, making smart-alec comments like I’m performing to a crowd and so on — makes me wonder if I need to dial things back as well, and resist becoming an “extroverted introvert”.  I especially worry that the nice female team member who sits opposite me at work (who’s a lot quieter and more demure than the blokes, and thus far more pleasant for me to interact with) is getting fed up with my constant quasi-standup comedy routines, and references to old TV shows, songs etc. that were big before she was even born.

Maybe I need to settle down and be more sensible — or at least more willing to ask people questions (and actually listen to the answers) than drone on about my experiences and opinions like some kind of rambling old-timer.  Despite my introvercy (or maybe because of it?), it’s easy for me to talk a great deal when I’m around familiar people, but I don’t want to annoy them the way extroverts annoy me at social events, as nobody likes a hypocrite.  I may even need to rant my heart out in a blog post here, just to get it out of my system, so I don’t go on and on at people I actually like.

Of course, this could all just be part of the aforementioned mood swing, bordering on outright depression (I’ve certainly felt like having a damn good cry this evening), caused by one of the medications I’ve been prescribed for my medical condition — I’ve certainly felt better after coming home and having dinner (and talking to my housemates).  That’s not the only reason I wish the quacks would let me come off clobazam, though: amongst other things, it makes it harder to… shall we say… shed excess mass?  It’s not just Easter eggs in the shops that are causing me to gain weight…

— — —

P.S. My Polish friend texted me while I was writing this, and she still wants to hang out with me and have me over for vegan pizza (even if she uses “Netflix and chill” in a more literal context than sex maniacs do), so at least I haven’t blown our friendship entirely by being antisocial to strangers…

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Congratulations: you are more alive than ever

“Hello Dave-ros; I want to play a game…”

Yesterday (the 12th) was the sixth anniversary (though Monday would be more precise in terms of weekday) of that day in 2011 when I felt so depressed, I actually planned to end it all on my 35th birthday, 300-odd days in the future, if I couldn’t turn my life around.  All these years later, suicide is something I’m no longer willing to contemplate (terminal illnesses aside) — and all I had to do was change just about everything in my life!

It’s worth considering just what the prospect was back in 2011 of me actually taking my own life… I’d say no chance whatsoever — if anything, that melodramatic outburst (which I concealed from everyone at the time) was necessary, and dare I say it, cathartic?  If I hadn’t gotten it out of my system, I might have been too satisfied with keeping my life just as it was (albeit in a different house, or possibly even back with my folks in Worthing) — but threating myself cajoled me into action.

How is my life in 2017 better than my life in 2011?  Let me count the ways:

(It’s been a while since I did this… hasn’t it?)

  1. I now live a long way from Caledonian Road, in a relatively peaceful area on a reliable Tube line, and while this isn’t exactly the best house in the world, at least I’ve got housemates I get on with (well, since July this year), a heating system that works properly (well, since last month), and a landlord that actually cares about our problems (well, compared to the last two) — and being in Finchley Central, I can get a seat on the Northern Line when I commute.  Speaking of which…
  2. I’ve finally got a job I actually enjoy, using my brain and IT skills to help people — professionals, not members of the public — with the computer side of their jobs, instead of tapping away at data entry all day.  Not only am I the only IT Helpdesk employee in the world who’s happy to be doing his job, I get a lovely pay rate as well — the UK average!
  3. I’m physically healthier than I was even in my twenties, thanks to taking up climbing, seeing a personal trainer, eating better diet (well, slightly more vegetables), and generally feeling less stressed (aside from the occasional dizzy spells that I’m getting the NHS to look at in January), perhaps due to escaping the annoying woman.  I’m even getting more sleep these days!
  4. I socialise a lot more — instead of just Japanese classes once a week (which had stopped by late 2011 anyway), and sitting at home by myself every other night, I go to Meetup events, meet people climbing, and act as the “face” of my IT team at work — if anything, I need to slow down and stay in more often, much as I did in 2013.  However, I’ve more chance of finding someone special — and on that topic…
  5. After going on more dates in the past few years than I’d gone on in the entire rest of my life, I might finally have a couple of potential girlfriends — don’t worry, I’ll be loyal to one woman (at a time), but considering how my love life in the first 11 years of the 21st century was a whole lotta nuthin’, I’ve definitely made progress here, and no longer feel so pessimistic that I wish I could just give up on ever finding love.
  6. Although I still enjoy a lot of “childish things”, I’m taking more responsibility for my life, collecting my household’s bills on my housemates’ behalf, behaving myself in my job and getting things done (allegedly more than at least one of my teammates), taking care of my health (as per no.3 above), and even buying expensive presents for my folks, to thank them for all the years they’ve taken care of me!

This blog entry was inspired by one of the “possibilities” in no.5 above: when I told her I’m not religious (she’s a lapsed Catholic), she asked me, outright, why I hadn’t killed myself.  She knew nothing of my former depression, and was genuinely intrigued (though she phrased it awkwardly, perhaps due to her Polish cultural heritage?); I told her that I’ve got too much good stuff in my life for me to even consider stopping living.  She seems to have accepted this, and so should you — I’m not checking out any time soon!

On that basis, why am I still posting in this blog?  If I’m over depression, and I’ve sorted my life out, what more do I have to say here?  Well, how about the fact that I still seem to have anxiety, which might even be the source of the weird “brain fuzz” dizzy spells I’ve been getting — like a burst pipe spraying into an unrelated room, instead of piping its contents to the correct destination — and this could be partly because I have a good life now, and worry about losing it all and reverting to how things were in the bad old days.  Going back into the dark after having seen the light is worse than never having left the dark, after all.

And yes, I fully intend to soapbox about the despicable behaviour of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic… stay tuned!

Buyer’s remorse

Since a lot of people in this country are poor, and since we’re all likely to be poorer now we’ve “agreed” to pay €50bn to leave the EU (which feels like paying to leave your house when you’re evicted), I feel bad for spending so much money in November; I’m grateful I’ll still be more than breaking even for the month (partly thanks to not needing to pay my personal trainer until December), but still, I wonder…

Earlier this month, when I thought “boss lady” at work wasn’t going to buy me any more computer components (after the i7 CPU she got me in October), rather than worry about getting fired and needing to save my money, I weakened and bought myself a ludicrously expensive graphics card — for those who understand specs, it’s an 8GB nVidia GTX 1080, and on Amazon I got it “cheap”, meaning it only cost a month’s rent (there are better ones, like the Titan X, that would have cost me a month’s wages).

I’d intended to get it sooner, but I was delayed by a week when someone tried to steal from me, which seemed to have been fortuitous: rather than settle for a 1060, I figured “what the hell” and got the best type I could afford.  However, if I’d held on longer, I could have let “boss lady” buy it, or something similar, for me out of our budget (as I said last time, she’s likely trying to use it up so we get the same amount next year), and I’d have saved myself half a grand!

But take heart: it still cost less than the money I nearly lost to that criminal scumbag, and “boss lady” bought me something else highly useful: a 4TB SSD, to which I’ve copied all my game files (not my Windows install, as Win7 won’t boot from drivers bigger than 2TB).  Together with the graphics card, my computer’s even faster than it was with the new CPU in October, and now I can play games at the full 4K UHD resolution of the monitor I got in January!

(Blimey, it even takes less than a geological age to start up 2016 Doom!)

Another thing I wanted was a new chair, since the comfortable, padded one I got back in 2013 (before my American holiday) was wearing out — and I never quite convinced myself it wasn’t made of leather.  On the weekend my card details were abused, I went with “best mate” to a car lot way out west, so he could buy his own new vehicle; never mind that they might be the ones who somehow got my card details wirelessly, let’s be thankful that we couldn’t park at IKEA on the way home, as that meant I didn’t have to cancel a legit transaction!  But two weekends later, when I was reeling from spending so much on that graphics card, he was able to take me there to look around, and I bought a chair with a high back, which, when I tried it in the shop, seemed just right for me.

Alas, it was only when I’d gotten it home, assembled it and sat in it to play games that I realised a significant flaw: very hard armrests, compared to the nice cushioned ones of my old chair (which I’ve given to a housemate).  Since I play a lot of mouse-and-keyboard games (and insist on using the cursor keys to move, despite mousing right-handed), that can really grate on my left elbow!  And in any case, it seems like a more expensive version of the type of computer chair I got from Argos in 2011, back when I lived on Caledonian Road… but the deed was done, it was too late to take it back (and I could hardly ask “best mate” to drive me again anyway), so I’ve got to live with it — though at least it gives the back of my head support, unlike the old one.

Ah, but speaking of the time I lived on Caledonian Road… back in 2011, I bought some really useless but expensive things: USB steering wheels (not one, but two, after I broke the first one), and a NAS — a box into which I could put two hard drives and use them as a single storage drive, only for the thing to have very, very slow data transfer times over Ethernet.  I wasn’t earning enough to waste money back then — this was before I got an “acting up” pay rise at work, one of the things that made me feel better about life in 2012 after moving to Finchley, so blowing even a hundred here and there at the time was… foolish.

However, as I’ve said before, 2011 was a bad year for me, a real descent into depression, and hence the reason I started this blog in 2012, when I was finally putting my life back together — so let’s call the steering wheels “retail therapy”, and the NAS, a noble experiment in my early days of trying to break into IT.  That was also the year I built the PC of Theseus, in which just about everything was new, and although it was replaced piecemeal over the years, it kept me going, and thus wasn’t a waste of money at all.

And don’t worry: despite my foolish spendthriftness, I still donate things to charity shops (including a digital camera tripod I bought back in 2002 and never used — an early example of buyer’s remorse!), and once a month, I join a group that goes around central London passing out supplies to homeless people, and also lending them a friendly ear.  I know it’s not much, but I’ve long thought that the best way I can help the homeless is to not increase their number by one — so I’ll be careful with my money for the rest of this year, and only buy Christmas presents I can afford!

Too reliable by half?

I’m so sick and tired
Of being admired
That I wish that I would just die or get fired.
—Eminem, “The Way I Am” (The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000)

Well, it’s a better image than Sisyphus…

Don’t worry: despite the Shady quote above, I’m not looking to end my life — or my beloved career as an IT helpdesk nerd.  However, I am certainly feeling a lot of pressure these days, and wishing I could have more free time to myself, instead of helping others so much…

I’m fortunately not over-burdened at work — which is just as well, as it may have been the weekend work I did last December that started off my “brain fuzz” dizzy spells.  Although sometimes it feels like too much at once, I get nice periods of quiet — and in some cases, I can pass tasks on to my more esteemed colleagues to resolve after doing my initial troubleshooting… like today, when I was able to unburden myself of a serious problem with the big cheese’s laptop, leaving me free to help senpai with an easier but no less important task for another senior member of staff.

However, last Wednesday I became worried I was going to snap at someone, as numerous troubleshooting tasks were punctuated by my Japanese friend repeatedly texting me, and constantly changing her claims about where and when she could meet up with me.  No, she’s not my kanojo or anything, but my reward for trying to help her with English has been for her to keep nagging for more and more help (I still remember trying to troubleshoot her writing while riding a bus to the Castle!), and seeing as I’d already spent the previous evening trying to teach her English idioms, and felt at risk of losing the one evening off I’d have all week!

Don’t worry, she’s offered to pay me at last — though I commuted that sentence to buying me some “pub grub” this evening, while I waited for a salsa class, and helped her some more.  And at least she only wanted help with her English tonight, and not advice on taking legal action against a dodgy educational institution (she’s studying to become a teacher of Japanese) that’s been treating her badly, and doesn’t even seem to be accredited.  On previous evenings, via Facebook Messenger, she went on for hours about this topic — but what can I do?

By coincidence, “best mate” rung up while I was waiting for my “pub grub” to arrive: he’s also having a dreadful time at work (still being sent to far-flung places by his brother), and even though he’s finally bought a new car (from a dodgy dealer — I saw the place), he was worried he hadn’t set up his parking permit right, and asked me to check.  He’s got no tickets, so that’s fine — but I can’t help with his work situation, much as I wish I could.  As usual, all I can do is lend a sympathetic ear — it’s something he needs to resolve on his own terms, because it’s his life and he needs to take care of himself.

I certainly can’t help others with their lives when I have so much on my plate already — I’m starting to feel like I’ve become a father to this shared household!  In addition to taking on the role of gathering everyone’s share of the rent and other household bills (and cleaning the kitchen), I also had to be the one to call — guess who? — British Gas, to sort out our heating for the second winter running.  I then had to text all four of my housemates, to see if anyone could be in on Friday afternoon, as “boss-lady” said I couldn’t take the time off to be here, as she needed me in to help cover the helpdesk while two of my colleagues were on leave, and the other two working on a yuge project!

None of my housemates were available… but fortunately British Gas now offer appointments at the weekend (amazing!), and the engineer sorted everything out (astounding!).  Unfortunately, they still found a way to screw up: they’d recorded our address wrong!  Imagine I live at 7 Yorkshire Road, and that a new set of flats called Yorkshire Works have recently opened nearby, on the same street and with the exact same postcode — and that there’s a flat 7… this is why we kept getting electricity bills for someone who doesn’t live here (and we get ours from another company anyway), and now it’s why our landlady needs to call BG to straighten this address mismatch out, as otherwise they may refuse to fix future issues entirely.

And as though helping others with their problems and sorting out household issues isn’t enough, it’s possible I’ll need to speak to the police soon: there was attempted fraud on my bank account on Sunday, apparently using my debit card details — and while they caught it in time to reverse the theft, I can’t help but worry that they’ll somehow start thinking I really did try to buy something on Facebook (ads?) for hundreds of pounds, and I’ll have to convince the boys in blue that I never sanctioned those payments or knowingly gave my card details away.  I actually spent Sunday afternoon virus-checking my PC and going through my receipts for September and October (yes, I keep them, ever since 2012!) to make sure every transaction in my bank account history was legit, instead of playing games or doing anything enjoyable…

(Okay, fair enough, I had Columbo on in the background!)

Is all of this finally making a man of me?  Am I maturing and taking responsibility, over matters that affect others as well as myself, instead of flinching, begging for help or procrastinating?  It’s weird, but today I haven’t even had any major bouts of “brain fuzz” — almost as though facing down stressful issues is somehow keeping me sane… and perhaps it’s only when I recover from stress that I get those weird floods of quasi-memories at strange times, in which case I need to keep myself busy helping people and getting things done, instead of lazing about.

Still, I wish I didn’t have to do all this stuff alone — is there a woman out there, a potential wife (or at least long-term significant other), who would stand by me and share my burden, instead of just relying on me for everything?  I feel that two of us working together and sharing responsibility could achieve so much more than two separate individuals…

The bullies who made me

No, this is not in any way, shape or form a clue to his name, or the reason I refer to him as “capital P” — those are alternative facts.  Sad!

I’m lucky to be online tonight, as when I came back from visiting my folks in Worthing for the first time in two months, our Internet connection was down.  I knew how to fix it (unscrew the cable from the router, touch the core, screw it back in), and so did my former-drummer housemate — indeed, he was the one who came up with the solution originally — but for some reason he hadn’t done so, and with him in the lounge (where the router is), I felt I couldn’t go in and take care of it.

It was only when I heard him go in the shower that I dared step foot outside the sanctity of my room, and got it working on the second or third attempt; I’d killed the intervening time by, amongst other things, starting season 5 of Game of Thrones, which I have on Blu-ray and thus don’t need an Internet connection to watch (sorry Netflix).

But why should I feel so intimidated by my housemate, a session drummer / music teacher who became a truck driver?  Wait… shall I call him “drummer-trucker”?  Yes, that works.  I find “drummer-trucker” intimidating because he’s gone wonky recently, and acts condescending and confrontational, like the kind of bully who insults you for no reason and then claims you’re the one with the problem, because he’s just having a laugh and you’re taking it too seriously.  About the only thing missing is a crowd for him to be playing up to, like when I was at school…

Don’t worry, I won’t drone on about every individual school bully I faced off against, or we’d be here all day (and I’ve probably forgotten a few) — and more to the point, I’ve covered a lot of this before.  No, I’ll just focus on the ones who stayed with me, up here (Dave-ros taps his temple, pointing approximately at his brain), for long periods of time, and perhaps changed my life directions now and then…

Moving to Worthing in 1992 wasn’t ideal — I’d worked my way up the social order going to an all-boys school in Surrey (and no, not through any vulgar or political means), and going to a mixed school in September just meant I got bullied by the girls as well as the guys.  Fortunately the girls had grown to accept me by Easter 1993, and it was just the boys making my life hellish… especially one guy with curly hair, big gums and permanently-slitted eyes (and no, he wasn’t from the Far East, just incredibly smug).  He was certainly the kind of bully who’d get everyone against me when I was minding my own business, and somehow I let him get inside my head, to the point that it was only when he left school at the end of Year 11 that I was finally able to get on with my life.

The strange thing is, a couple of times he was actually nice to me — either returning my schoolbag when other thugs were throwing it around, or chatting amiably outside school one day.  It’s why I’ve often wondered if he and I were actually supposed to be friends… but hey, I wasn’t into BYOB parties when I was 15-16, so I’d never have fitted into his crowd.  Fortunately, I no longer bear him ill will, and hope he’s sorted his life out.

You’d think leaving home would change things, but nooo, I got more of it at university — perhaps due to studying Geology, the most “thuggish” of the sciences (presumably because you have to do a lot of walking, and get to hit rocks with hammers!).  Not only did I get comments like “coathanger” shouted out when I was nearby during a field trip to Wales, but apparently one night two real scumbags got drunk and decided to come by my room to beat me up!  Fortunately I was out playing Quake in a computer lab that evening, otherwise I’d have suffered for the crime of… what, exactly?  Being myself?  I guess they made me more determined to be myself, if they had any effect at all…

My postgrad days saw the two blokes in my Astrophysics MSc ka-tet treating me badly, but at least one naffed off to do a PhD, while the other became the fellow I always refer to as “good housemate” in these hallowed pages, simply because I learned to roll with the punches, and gave as good as I got — in a way, he toughened me up and helped me laugh.  This guy, of course, once upset me by saying I was obliged to hurry up and (he thought) lose my virginity to a prostitute, to stop letting mankind down, but when he got his own place, and precipitated my worst month, he let me sleep on his couch for a week, while I waited for my new room to become available, so he’s forgiven.  I haven’t heard from him in ages, but I hope he’s all right and living his life!

Even beyond education, there exist bullies — and sadly, some of them have authority… when I first moved in with “good housemate” and our two female friends in Wood Green, I managed to get a temp admin job working for the local council (which I’ve mentioned before); at first I was doing well, organising deliveries and collections of Occupational Therapy (OT) equipment, and making friends with the delivery men (and on one or two occasions, helping them out when they were a man down) — and this seemed to frustrate the boss, a Scots lady with long white hair, whose very presence eventually made me cringe.

Although at first I was apparently the best they’d had in that job, she changed her appraisal of me when she decided that I should stop using my initiative and start blindly following rules — as though process was more important than results.  She’d also heap her own work on me in stupid ways, telling me to prepare fax messages, then telling me “that’s not how I’d phrase it” and requiring me to ask her for the exact wording I should use (which she then scrawled on the smallest size of Post-It notes, rather than e-mailing me).

At times it felt like she was trying to “sicken” me, and one day I actually had a bit of a breakdown from her constant nagging and work-heaping… fortunately the guy between me and her smoothed things over.  Still, this was the only job I ever quit for reasons other than returning to university or moving on to a better job, and I don’t regret doing so — and apparently I lasted longer than anyone else, and virtually no-one else liked her!

She wasn’t the only female superior to make me sad at work, though at least the loud girl I worked with at a nearby housing department in 2005 turned out to be all right in the end, and just a bit bossy at times.  However, it was a different but similar girl in my HR (Recruitment) days who really got to me — and, much like my current woes (not to mention the “brain fuzz” I was getting at the start of the year), it would always seem to be one week good, one week bad.  If she was unhappy with me, she’d criticise me for just about everything, even stuff that wasn’t my fault (like two recruiting managers for the same job telling us different things, or someone having written the wrong department next to a job in the diary), and claim I was “picking and choosing” my work.  If I was lucky, she’d leave me alone, and maybe sometimes even thank me.

It’s largely thanks to her hot-and-cold treatment that I didn’t reapply for my job there when yet another restructuring took place, and jumped at the chance to be redeployed in 2009 (to the job I was doing when I first started this blog).  Mind you, she got her comeuppance: she actually wanted to work in HR as a career and so reapplied for her job, yet when it came time to her interview, she panicked so much (perhaps due to criticism of her treatment of me?) that she had to walk out to compose herself!  After that she was a lot nicer to me during the remainder of our time there, and I wished her well when she went on to better things.

I reckon she was going through some bad stuff at that time of her life — what with actually wanting to succeed in a job I could take or leave — and perhaps that’s why my “drummer-trucker” housemate is being such a see-you-next-Tuesday lately: he regrets his decision to throw in music in favour of trucking, and is taking it out on the rest of us… or maybe he’s gone alcoholic: he drinks a six-pack every time he’s home in the evenings, with his music or DVDs playing loudly, and these are the worst times if we encounter each other.

He used to be all right: yes, there have been times we’ve argued, and he accused me of “needing to get laid” when I didn’t enjoy being locked out of the kitchen, but he also drove me to the hospital when I did my ankle in last year… mind you, he was still teaching drumming at the time, and thus had social skills.  Still, his pranks have never even been funny: things like shouting out he’s joining me and “best mate” when we’re going to the Castle, or telling me there’s a man who keeps coming to the door asking for me — it’s like he’s setting up jokes, but never follows through with the punchline.  Even today, he yanked the kitchen door open as he was walking past from the lounge, and any time he catches me using the upstairs toilet, he rattles the door handle impatiently.

Worst of all: this guy who sits alone drinking, actually has the gaul to accuse me and my other housemates (including “best mate”, the only person who doesn’t actively try to avoid him) of being “anti-social”!  Perhaps he’s just a hypocrite, considering he fills the house with his cookery smells (or on one occasion, petrol fumes from the motorbike he keeps on the front path), after leaving passive-aggressive notes in the kitchen for a previous housemate over curry odours.

I wish things hadn’t gotten to this stage, as I respect him for handling our billing (and the landlady) all these years, and want to part on good terms — but it’s up to him to make any moves to apologise, as he’s the one behaving badly… though I wonder if he himself is trying to avoid me, for precisely that reason?

Nothing to fear

Don’t worry, folks, I was entirely unaffected by the ostensible terror attack here in London today (even my commute home was untroubled).  While it’s sad that innocent people died, it was clearly a futile endeavour compared to 7/7 or 9/11 (or the recent attacks in Europe), and I’m not afraid of terror.

However, that might be the case anyway, as I’m less anxious now than I’ve been in years.  Much like Cartman thought had happened to his sense of humour in that South Park episode, I think I may have “blown an anxiety fuse” recently — and, like Cartman, perhaps that’s a ludicrous explanation and I’m actually just getting more mature.

(Yeah, right, and monkeys might fly outta my butt…)

I first noticed this phenomenon during the horrors of November 2014, when I was doing that shift-based job I hated from the start: the second (and last, as it happened) day shift, on a Friday, saw me mysteriously perk up after lunch, almost as though a switch had been thrown in my head… or the part of my brain dealing with anxiety had simply worn out and shut down.  As I thought at the time, it may have been purely because it resembled a normal working weekday, for the first time since I’d finished at Camden (those six weeks of 90-minute commutes to and from Greenford didn’t count), but it certainly felt like some kind of biochemical change in my noggin.

And now, today, in 2017, I don’t really feel afraid or intimidated any more.  Okay, I still can’t stand noisy, crowded places, but that’s because I’m a human being from the planet Earth, and nothing to do with anxiety — I find such environments unpleasant, as any sane person would, but I don’t find myself freezing up, trying to stifle a scream or curling into a foetal position, just wanting to get the hell out there as soon as possible.  Similarly, a couple of weeks ago I was so afraid of arguing with my former-drummer housemate that I installed a voice recorder app on my phone, in case I needed evidence that he was threatening me… now, I find I don’t really care what he does, because it’s not like he interferes with my food or anything like that — it’s all just tedious “jokes” and annoyance.

Moreover, now that I’ve settled into my job as IT helpdesk “face” and put the terrors of January 2016 behind me, I find that I don’t panic when my boss criticises me, or cajoles me into doing some work — I know she’s just doing her job, and I’ve been reliably informed (by my workplace senpai) that she’s a lot nicer and more reasonable than many IT bosses… and hey, she may be right, it’s not impossible for someone of management grade to be correct about something!  Plus, of course, she swung me a pay rise, which has turned into another pay rise thanks to a new payscale being introduced, so I owe her a great deal, and can stop feeling afraid she’s going to ditch me on a whim, or that she’s setting me up to fail.

Having more money, of course, also helps me feel confident about my place in the world — I’m no longer living hand-to-mouth, and can finally do things I’ve only dreamed of (like going back to the USA for the first time in three years, Trump notwithstanding).  You may think it’s wrong for me to feel happy having money when our government seem to be ensuring as many people as possible end up in poverty (zero-hour contracts, unemployed and disabled being cut off from benefits, the economy tanking due to Brexit while the rich get tax breaks), but sometimes you’ve got to worry about yourself first, before you can help others.  Much as I dismiss the Bible, I see the wisdom in the bit about beams and splinters, and know I’ve got to keep myself safe and well if I’m ever going to help my folks (the most important people to me).

Something definitely seems to have changed in me.  I remember how I’d get massively depressed and/or anxious during 2015, in the aftermath of that horrible period of unemployment, even with pitifully small cause — clamming up and withdrawing from the office because people were being noisy, or worrying that I’d offended a girl I fancied, and spending whole days sinking deeper into sadness even as I tried to throw myself into my work (to the point that a work friend recommended I take St. John’s wort).  I’m beginning to wonder whether the part of my brain that caused those bouts of misery (and began doing so in late 2011) is malfunctioning now, perhaps dying at last, and that this is why I keep getting “brain fuzz” these days: it’s a case of crossed wires (or a leaking pipe), and instead of depression/anxiety being triggered by this thing, I’m getting random bursts of memory at those times.

As far as this particular brain issue goes, I’ve seen the quack (again) and arranged a blood test for next Friday, just in case it’s down to hypothyroidism.  I know I apparently didn’t have that back in 2015, according to a blood test I received at that time; I was concerned then that I was feeling the cold a little too much, but it later emerged (after I spoke to an actual doctor in person, rather than a bored receptionist on the phone) that I was borderline low iron, which would explain a lot.

(Oddly, I also don’t feel the cold anywhere near as much nowadays… though that could be due to rebuilding a layer of fat, alas!)

In the meantime, my bouts of brain weirdness seem to have stopped entirely, even though I’m back drinking caffeine, eating chocolate, listening to my diverse music collection, and working hard.  I still feel brief weirdness now and then, often when thinking things out — like a single word, rather than a group of memories, is sounding in my brain — but something similar happens to me when I’m dozing off in bed at night (while reading, wash your minds out!), so it’s no big deal… probably.  I wonder if this apparent recovery is due to having discussed the issue with my mother at the weekend — it certainly felt like something “turned over” in my brain at that moment — and perhaps it’s like so many people’s experiences with the IT helpdesk: when you try to demonstrate the problem, it immediately disappears and you look foolish!

I know I should feel more worry about the state of the world at the moment, with the deplorable rise in right-wing sentiment, and my government’s plans to spy on us wholesale and punish whistleblowers, allegedly in the name of combatting terrorism — and, of course, Trump (no complete sentence needed there).  As I’ve noted before, my life improvements seem to send the rest of the world along the highway to Hell… but what good would it do for me to feel bad, to give up the good things in my life just because I feel like I don’t deserve them?  If anything, now that I’ve got my life on track, I might be in a better position to help others… and maybe help prop up the economy by spending?

Not so immature

nota

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…?