Category Archives: Then and now

Prelude to departure… for surgery

In 24 hours I’ll be trying to sleep in a hospital room in Hammersmith, wishing this terrifying situation wasn’t necessary, but trying to stay positive and convince myself that (a) the operation on Wednesday morning will go fine, and (b) I’ll recover quickly enough to let everyone know I’m all right.

My friends at work are hoping for me, along with everyone close to me who I’ve told about what I’m facing, but I wish I shared their optimism: even if my life is in no danger (thanks largely to my personal trainer and my long-term vegetarianism putting me in good physical health), it’s still likely I’ll need to take a loooooong time to get well again afterwards, and my mother and grandmother will have to take care of me, when I ought to be taking care of them!

Even the best prospect — that there are no complications and I’m completely cured, without even having to face chemotherapy in future — involves me recovering slowly, perhaps not being able to use a computer for a while (to let everyone know I came through it all fine), and not being able to return to work, or exercise in any significant way, for weeks or even months.  When will I be able to read books again?  I don’t want to spend ages staring at the walls, not even allowed to doze because it’d mess up my sleep pattern!

The only other time in my life I’ve been in hospital for an operation was in December 1993: some adult teeth were defying the system, and needed removal from inside the roof of my mouth before they messed up my existing upper set.  Although it was boring and I slept through it (I thank you), the operation went well, preventing my English teeth from becoming as bad as Americans think they are.

(My dating coach chuckled when I told her, in reference to a Simpsons joke, that a potential Chernobyl had been turned into a mere Three-Mile Island!)

It’s a long time ago, and I don’t remember that much of it, but since I was a strapping lad of 16, and since it wasn’t exactly brain surgery, I was able to recover and say hello to my folks when they visited, probably the same day as the operation took place — tired and feeling lousy (not to mention puking up blood I’d swallowed), but conscious and sane (well, as much as ever).

However, in spite of my youthful resilience, I felt lousy after while recuperating at home during the Christmas holidays, at one point hyperventilating (due to chest pains), and needing to be taken to casualty!  And for several days, while my mouth healed, the only thing I could eat was soft cheese, rinsing my mouth out with boiling salty water… but at least I could play video games and watch TV.

All these years later, I’m naturally older (well, not as older as the dates would imply, ahem) — and this time they’re taking something out of my actual brain instead of my upper jaw… would it have been more sensible for me to decline surgery, and commit to taking anti-epilepsy drugs for the rest of my life… even considering it could get worse and progress to full seizures, instead of the disconcerting but mild dizzy spells I’ve been having for over a year?

Don’t worry, I’m going through with it despite my fears — hopefully I won’t die (if I do, I hereby curse Jeremy CHunt MP to eternal hellfire, for the way he’s ruining the NHS), and maybe I’ll be coherent enough on Thursday to text “best mate” and senpai at work, so they can pass on the good news to my other housemates and work colleagues… and perhaps I’ll also be able to post on Facebook, so all my other friends can feel a sense of relief (and maybe come to see me during visiting hours).

Most importantly, my mother will be there for me, as she’s been so many times before (thanks for correcting me on that Jamiroquai track in my last post, Mumsy!) — and if anything goes wrong, she’ll kick botty on my behalf… it’s largely for her sake that I want to get through this and make a full recovery, though if I’m honest, it’s also for my own sake, as I’m not ready to stop living any decade soon.

(Aside from everything else, I’m determined to see Halley’s Comet when it comes around again, as I missed it in 1986!)

I want to live through this experience — because, in direct contrast to that day in 2011 (yes, I know, it’s the reference that keeps on giving!), and as I said five years after that day, I have every reason to go on living now, and suicide is the farthest thing from my mind.  Even if I were terminally ill (which, technically, everyone is anyway), I’d want to put my affairs in order and live out my remaining days making the most of life, rather than jump the gun (as it were) and end my life prematurely.

Assuming all goes well, I’ll write something here once I’ve got enough of my marbles back to log onto a computer and write coherent sentences; it probably won’t be the longest gap between the times I’ve posted here, will it?  With luck, I’ll say something before the end of May (even if it’s just two words: “I’m alive”), and get back to my old self in June, as a birthday present for my mother.

In the meantime, I shall bring this blog post to an end with one obvious (obligatory?) reference to the blog’s title, as I’ve done so many times before:

DAVE-ROS HOPES TO LIVE AGAIN!

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Not rocket science

I really wish this Simpsons image hadn’t proven to be so prophetic…

I won’t beat about the bush: it turns out my last diagnosis for the cause of my repeated bouts of “mind static” was way too optimistic, as today I found out I do in fact have an actual tumour nestling within my grey matter, rather than just a cyst on the outside that could be removed with minimal fuss.  I’ll need more analysis, including a detailed “super-MRI” scan, but unless I’m (ahem) lucky enough that I could spend my life on anti-epilepsy drugs as a way of controlling symptoms with no consequences, it looks like I’m going to have to endure full-on brain surgery, to remove the troublesome “space invader” — which, rather than some kind of parasitical growth, seems to be actually part of my brain that’s gone wrong.

Hopefully, cuts to the NHS notwithstanding, I’m in no danger of dying on the operating table (which sadly happened to my grandfather just before the millennium) — but my personal trainer went through similar earlier in his life, and said that it led to changes in his personality (albeit perhaps partly due to the wrong operation being done first), such as being quicker to anger, losing his mathematical knowledge, and needing to rekindle his interest in sport over a long time (which is perhaps why he was a chef in a previous role).  He’s a great guy today, but he’s still somehow a different person to the one who went under the knife.

If I do go through with this operation (and at this stage, it’s strictly hypothetical), I wonder if I’d lose something?  As I keep saying, I’d love to remove anxiety from my mind, since it serves no purpose whatsoever (and is self-reinforcing at times) — and wouldn’t it be convenient if the only reason I’ve been so anxious the past few years is indeed down to that exact lump interfering with my noggin, and so saving my life would go hand-in-hand with finally growing a pair?  The same goes with my quickness to anger, something I’d love to be rid of entirely — if I can squeeze it into that blob, I can bid it goodbye — and there’s also my tendency to rehearse conversations internally, even if I’m never actually going to have them, and overthinking in general.

On the other hand, would surgery be what finally causes me to “put away childish things”, like video games (which would be frustrating when I’ve spent so much time and money building this ubercomputer for games), science fiction, and Japanese anime?  Indeed, since it’s the left temporal lobe, concerned with language and comprehension, would I forget how to speak and understand Japanese… or, indeed, English?

I’ve resolved not to worry about this, and to carry on living (much as I did before — boy, I keep retreating the same ground in this blog, don’t I?), as if all goes well, I get my life back, and all I need to do for now is cut down on intense exercise, or anything where someone else’s life is in my hands, like belaying others while climbing.  It’s not impossible that I’ll never climb again — it got me out of depression in 2012, but maybe it’s served its purpose, and I don’t need to do it any more unless I truly want to.

It should be noted that my personal trainer’s being helpful in this aspect, not making me do “heavy lifting” for the time being, but encouraging me to keep healthy and positive, rather than laze about at home and get into bad habits, and for that I’m grateful.  My “boss lady” at work is also happy for me to take off whatever time I need to get this resolved, while senpai, despite worrying excessively (and urging me to get a “second opinion”), is on my side, and will help take care of me at work if anything goes wrong and I suffer from any symptoms.

I should also be very clear that I’m eternally grateful for my mother’s support in this — I’m planning a blog post about how awesome she is, even if I disagree with her politically (at times it feels like the right-wing consider the left-wing a bunch of babies who need to “grow up”), to make up for all the times I’ve been mean about her and her well-meaning advice (including last time).  I do worry about people worrying about me, and my main reason for wanting to recover from this medical issue is so they don’t need to, as their worry is increasing my worry, in a… worry spiral?

One reason I’m going to be optimistic is that it feels like history repeating itself: a crisis of some kind seems to happen to me every three years, and I’ve always overcome it (I’m sure my yoga teacher would have something mystical to say — and he’s back in town, so I’ll try to see him on Monday instead of dancing).  It’s like this: something goes wrong at the end of one year (leading to a Christmas that I somehow don’t quite enjoy), but is resolved by the following February (when it’s no longer so depressingly dark in the mornings), or at least matters set in place for a longer-term resolution.  Here’s a list:

  • Late 2008: my HR job at Camden was threatened due to yet another council restructuring, but I was sick of it anyway, and in early 2009 I got redeployed to children’s social services, which meant I could continue working and living in London (and learning Japanese).
  • Late 2011: as you know (if you’ve been reading this long enough), I sank into deep depression due to “good housemate” getting his own place, while my own life was going nowhere; by the end of January, I had a new place to move into (and am still here), and even got offered an acting-up allowance on my salary, to help cover at work (later leading to my playboy lifestyle, including mass socialising).
  • Late 2014: after losing that horrible shift-based job, and wondering if I’d ever get into IT, or even work again, in February my agency found me a temporary but sanity-restoring job, and I was able to go back to paying my bills with something other than government handouts; this led on to my current job, in which (despite the occasional setback) I’m now truly happy.

“And this smudge here, that looks like my thumbprint? No, that’s trauma!”

I know my bouts of “mind static” started with a vengeance over a year ago, but it was only in late 2017 that I finally got the quacks to take it seriously and actually give me some kind of examination beyond simply confirming I can feel my fingertips and move my eyes around.  This has now led me towards the truth of the situation (assuming it’s not all a huge photographic cock-up — it took them a long time to process the pictures on the 3rd!), and I’ve got “the big decision” coming up on 8th February.  This date is, perhaps not coincidentally, close to the dates I earned my redeployment position in 2009, moved into my new home in 2012, and started my new temp job in 2015!

And even if I had some bad times in those years following those events (some of which have been chronicled here), my life always bounced back, and I regained the ability to be happy again — so this time around, even if the depression of 2011 and the anxiety of 2014 both threaten a concerted attack (both would be entirely understandable given the circumstances), I’m going to stay cheerful, control symptoms with medication (even if one of the pills means I, ahem, gain weight), and do the things I enjoy.

It’d be just my luck to have a major issue just as I’m finally sorting my life out (aside from girly action, but I remain hopeful) — but somehow, even if it takes every ounce of strength and determination…

DAVE-ROS WILL LIVE THROUGH THIS!

— — —

P.S. I note that a number of people with Outlook.com addresses have signed up to my blog since my last post; if any of you are doctors, especially brain surgeons, I’m very sorry for using “quack” as humorous shorthand for your career… don’t take offence, I call dentists “tooth-quacks” as well!  Maybe brain surgery will stop me trying to be funny in such a 1950s American nightclub standup way…?

Getting lucky (with apologies to Daft Punk)

Sometimes, public transport issues seem to work in my favour — or, I get lucky despite serious issues.  This weekend I’d planned to visit my folks in Worthing, to drop off an expensive present I’d got for my grandmother, so I wouldn’t have to bring it home in two weeks’ time, just before Christmas itself; however, I suddenly thought of a present for my mother, but too late to actually buy it before my journey.  It occurred to me that I could always travel down to Brighton, buy the item in one of the shops there, and get a bus back home; I’d done this before in 2014, and I had a return ticket left over from last time I travelled, that I could use to get back, instead of buying a whole new open-ended return…

(I’d used that return before, but hadn’t had it marked or taken off me!  Yes, I’m happy to rip off Southern — who isn’t, considering how much they rip US off?)

…so imagine my surprise when I discovered that there were no direct trains to Worthing on Saturday, and my plan thus made sense anyway!  Admittedly, it’s not as lucky as that time in November 2006, just after I’d moved to Caledonian Road, when the exact weekend I’d be bringing loads of my stuff up to London in a removals van started with a strike at Victoria station, and so I was able to travel down to Worthing for free instead of buying an overpriced single (which has always cost almost as much as a return), but it was still pretty sweet, and so conveniently timed that you’d almost think it was scripted.

Okay, PC World (named and shamed) didn’t sell the thing I was after, so I had to resort to a shop that my mother hates, and even then, they were out of the more expensive versions of the item I wanted to get; and fine, the train journey to Brighton, albeit cheaper, took as long as a normal train journey to Worthing anyway, and the subsequent bus journey took over an hour on top of that — no, never mind the bad luck, all that was just payment for my good luck!  Like the opposite of Christmas 2015, when my final journey down to Worthing could have been a nightmare, but somehow I was lucky to find the path of least resistance through it all…

I must have been lucky to choose this weekend for my flying visit to Worthing, as it meant I avoided some very low temperatures in London, and the first significant snow I’ve seen in the capital since early 2015!  There was actually a difference of about 9 degrees Celsius (about twice as much in Fahrenheit) between Worthing on the south coast, and the north of London, and no snow where my folks live (but some strong winds on Sunday morning) — which also means my mother’s lucky, as there shouldn’t be any ice for her to risk slipping on.

And considering the snow in London, I was lucky to get a train back up that wasn’t delayed (aside from a short pause outside Victoria) — and maybe the eight-minute wait on the Northern Line was my “bad luck” fee, but otherwise I’ve had no trouble getting back here.  Indeed, what seemed to be forgetfulness before turned out to be fortuitous: last time I was in Worthing, I left behind a pair of boots my mother had got me in a sale in October (non-leather, another sign of good luck), but if I’d brought them up to London before, I wouldn’t have thought to wear them down to Worthing this weekend (it being mild on Saturday), and so wouldn’t have been able to wear them back up, and crunch safely through the snow in the streets here!

One bit of bad luck, and possibly a failure to “get lucky” in a sense closer to the one Daft Punk were actually singing about, has been the serious problems the London Underground’s been suffering today — never mind the Northern Line, which was actually getting back to normal when I got on it: had the Metropolitan Line been running, I may just have been able to drop in on one of the four potential girlfriends I have in my life now — and since she’d used the phrase “Netflix and chill”, there was a chance…

No, I’m not making stuff up — amazingly, after decades of nothing followed by a few years of numerous first dates that seldom went anywhere, and absolutely no instances of “getting lucky” whatsoever (unless you consider “dodged bullets” to be lucky, of course), finally this seems to be the year my romantic life begins!  They’re all in potentia at the moment, as nothing concrete has happened with any of them yet (technically I’ve not even made it to “first base”), but in each case I’ve not managed to drive her away just by being myself, and feel an emotional bond — with a possibility for something meaningful and long-term.

Oh, you want a list?  Well, in approximate order of meeting, we have:

  1. M, a statuesque African-American girl I’ve seen at my salsa classes since 2015, who likes my humour and happily hugs me every time, with kisses on the cheeks; she’s never mentioned a boyfriend, and has given me her phone number.  Yeah, this sister might be more of a “sister” in the relational sense of the word, but I still hope I’ve got a chance with her (and no, not for the ulterior motive of moving to America!).
  2. C, a cute English glasses girl with whom I’ve climbed a few times since 2016 (sometimes I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Castle when she’s been looking to top-rope), who really seems to enjoy my company, and is a great climber herself.  She’s never mentioned a boyfriend, and I’ve been too cowardly to ask her out, or even flirt (in case she mentioned having a boyfriend) — but next time I see her, I’ll try!
  3. S, a classy English brunette, with whom I connected via a dating app late last year, but still stayed in contact with this year, when I finally got to meet her for dates.  Things were a little stilted last time, and I’ve never had the courage to flirt, but she still seems to be interested in meeting me, and despite gaps between text messages, hasn’t starting “ghosting” me like so many other connections.
  4. M, a strawberry-blonde Polish vet, who messaged me via Meetup a couple of weeks ago (she was interested in coming to the “helping the homeless” event in Shy London), and who has met me a couple of times already; even though she’s the one I’ve known the least amount of time, she’s the one who I seem to have the best chance of (if you’ll forgive the bro-ish chauvinism) gettin’ some action with…

(And if the fourth one’s name started with “E”, I could list their initials as “MCSE”, singularly appropriate for an IT geek!  Ha ha, no?  Oh, please yourselves!)

I won’t lie, there are also women at work that I like — but even though one of my IT teammates met his wife in the company (which is why we always give her preferential treatment), I’d be too nervous about asking out any of them, as doubtless it’d be a failure and I’d be humiliated among my colleagues.  If a young lady asked me out, that’d be different — I’m always happy if a woman makes the first move, this being the 21st century and all (and I was asked out loads of times in 2013, which was nice) — but I won’t worry about it, because I’ve already got four possibilities, unlike all the women whose phone numbers I got only for them to either “ghost” me after one or two dates, or turn out to have boyfriends already.

In any case, this Friday I’ve been roped into coming to the Christmas do after work, when I’ll have to be careful in case someone I don’t like gets drunk and propositions me… but luckily, “best mate” wants to go to Winter Wonderland that evening, so, much like that day in summer 2013 when I was at a “singles event” whose female contingent were all much older than me, I’ve got a way out if things become uncomfortable…

Reconnecting with the past

I’m not writing about the UK general election tonight: everyone else has done it to death, and it’d be too late for me to influence anyone else anyway, even if I had any readers in this country to start with.

(However, I will say that those who think Corbyn’s Labour would roll us back to the 1970s should consider May’s Tories rolling us back to the 1870s, complete with workhouses for the poor… and disabled?)

No, instead I’ll talk about how I’m spending 2017 — the last year I can put a 3 in front of my age — looking back at things I’ve experienced.  I know, I do that all the time (hence my “then and now” blog category), but this year I feel like I’m finally moving forwards properly, and I want to know what to take with me and what to leave behind.

I’m beginning this by replaying all the original Tomb Raider games.  No, keep reading, I’m not just being dorky here, the first three take me back to the end of the 20th century!  I played the second extensively on my roommate’s PS1 when I was in Michigan in 1998-9 (indeed, I was on the last level of the ocean-bottom shipwreck segment on that day), and the third in late 2000 after graduating (with a guidebook, as it’s tricky to find those secrets!), but somehow it’s the original that resonates with me the most.  Aside from playing it in early 2000, when I should have been studying (though at that point I had little hope of a First), I also played it in Michigan during Christmas 1999, on my roommate’s family PC — so wandering the Egypt levels strangely made me feel just a little cold, as though it was snowing outside…

Barring problems relating to the authoritarian nature of both UK and US policy (I hope the CIA don’t read this blog!), I’ll be travelling to Michigan and meeting the family all over again, near the end of this month.  I’d thought my visit back in 2014 would be the last time I ever saw Fenton (the chorus to the Eminem song “Legacy” echoing in my head), but in fact they stayed put instead of moving to Washington State.  I’m visiting roomie’s younger brother once again, but this time I hope to communicate with roomie himself, and perhaps their little sister, via webcam — I haven’t seen either since 2007!  Sadly, the dog I first met in 2003 and the cat I first met in 1998 are long gone, but the other dog I first met in 2006 should still remember me.

There’s someone else from Michigan I wish I could reconnect with, but I’ve never been able to find her on Facebook… no, not the girl from “that day” — I’m not completely living in the past, you know — but rather a female friend I made at UMich and stayed in contact with during the early 21st century, even meeting up with her when I visited Michigan in 2001.  We e-mailed each other all the time, and even played online games of Jeopardy!, and I like to think we cheered each other up in those dark days.

It’s a shame we drifted apart, but she’s not the only “old friend” I’ve lost: despite getting back in touch with several old school chums thanks to Zuckerberg, some of the best friends I ever had have either not shown up, or ignored me completely.  Naturally I won’t name names, but still, let this serve as a counterpoint to my list of bullies:

  • “JE”, who was my best friend from almost the moment we moved to Surrey in 1985, and who I knew at school for around six years, still visiting him (or having him over) when I started going to private school, and having him visit us in Worthing two summers running (we saw Jurassic Park together).
  • “CS”, who was a funny guy at my secondary school in Surrey, and whose nickname made him seem like a certain singer-turned-Muslim.  Sad thing is, I probably annoyed him by calling him to reminisce when we moved to Worthing, but we used to have a good laugh during our days at that school, which (perhaps largely due to my following years in Worthing) I recall as the happiest of my teenage life.
  • “MW”, who was my best friend throughout my time at secondary school in Worthing, and with whom I managed to stay in touch when I went to university, and after when I came back to Worthing; we even had a tradition of buying each other birthday presents in October/November which cost exactly the same!  Sadly, I haven’t heard from him since coming to London, and he’s not acknowledged me on Facebook at all.
  • “AS”, a dear friend and fellow Geology student during my undergrad days, who lived in my corridor in our freshman year and joined in playing cards every night; we did fall out at one point, but when I came back from my year away in Michigan, he was still there (doing a four-year version of my course), and we grew closer.  He comforted me the day I found out my grandfather had died on the operating table, and I like to think I repaid him by helping him with his maths!

I know you can’t always go backwards and reconnect with your long-lost past, but these are people I wish I could show how far I’ve come since they knew me — I’m no longer the dorky loser I was back in, er, 1985 to 2003! — and thank, for helping me get through my formative years.

However, more than that, I want (at long last) to get back in touch with my father, from whom I hadn’t heard since 1988 (yes, nineteen eighty-eight, that’s not a typo!).  My mother’s tried to help me find him, and he is indeed right there on Forces Reunited, but I can’t use that service as I’ve not been in the service (nice pun, eh?), and it’s just for ex-soldiers and the like (and also needs you to pay).  However, one of my old school friends with whom I’ve been in touch via Facebook for years may be able to help me, as he served in the RAF and knows all the right sources to contact.

It’s a scary prospect, especially since my pap might have no interest in meeting me, but I want to take the chance and show him that I’ve done all right for myself, even if I’m not a military man, or even technically a man’s man.  He advised me in that last letter to make sure I have a good job, and I think I’ve finally achieved that; if I can impress him with what I’ve achieved, I’ll feel like I’m ready to move on with my life and leave behind my childish angst.

Here’s hoping I can finally remember the face of my father…

2017 starts… ambivalently

ss_ffI’ve got good news, after a long period of keeping on keeping on: they’re increasing my pay at work — and not just by a “cost of living” increase, but by a couple of thousand a year, backdated to October!

It seems the recent reappraisal of pay rates at my employer has worked in my favour, and now I’ll be on £26k p.a. instead of less than £23k (with all the same benefits as before — for one thing, they’re paying for my new glasses!).  My boss was in my corner for this process, and naturally I’ll be eternally grateful to her — not just for the added moolah, but also for not firing me last January!

Obviously I’ll wait until I see it in my bank account before I get complacent, but the backdated pay (along with the money I’m owed for my December overtime) will mean I can buy myself a new 1440p monitor, and give (not sell!) my old one to my mother; the overall increase means I’ll no longer feel like I have to space out paying for my personal training sessions, or somehow give it up entirely and exercise on my own initiative (what a ludicrous notion!).  I’ll even be able to save up for a proper holiday, perhaps even outside Europe…

Of course, this leads to a certain compulsion: I feel I must defy the Tube strike on Monday in order to journey to central London for my job, instead of taking the day off.  I wouldn’t say the place would fall apart without me for just a day*, but I reckon anyone who can be there ought to at least try, just to keep things running — especially Citrix, as a lot of people will undoubtedly be working from home!

(* Obviously I know my own worth, but it needs to be said that some staff members are a lot happier when I’m in the building — presumably because I deal with all the little problems, while my teammates work on the bigger projects)

beavis_christmas_carolOn the other hand, I’m still not having any success finding a woman: I’ve just had two dates on consecutive days, and both have been one-offs that have not led to anything more.  As far as I’ve advanced emotionally over the years I’ve been writing this blog, I still feel down when this happens — indeed, even more as the big four-oh approaches in the autumn, and I wonder if I should even bother trying after that point (since I’m so shallow that I won’t ever be happy “settling” for an older woman, except maybe Courtney Cox in Cougar Town).  After all, it’s not just women who face ageism in the dating game… maybe I should use some of my newfound wealth to see my dating coach again, for the first time in three years?

Mind you, my gloom is nothing compared to that of “best mate”, whose car (to which we always refer as a name similar to “Batmobile”) conked out while he was on the M6, driving back after visiting his family in Ireland over Christmas.  He’s in a bad way now, as not only was the journey back to London horrendous (he nearly needed a third tow truck to get his car all the way!), but there’s every possibility he’ll need to buy a new vee-hickle, and while he can afford to do that, it’d cut into the money he’s saving to become a homeowner.

(Maybe I shouldn’t tell him I dreamed last night that we’d been driving up a hill when he’d hit-and-run a pedestrian, and I had to convince him to turn around and go back…)

Even if he does pay for a new car, he still might end up getting his own place sooner than I thought (with family help), which would leave us with the prospect of needing to find TWO new housemates this year, neither for desireable rooms (his is always cold, while the former drummer’s is a box room).  It’d be like late 2011 to early 2012 again, as I might have to find somewhere else entirely to live — and I doubt somewhere even further away from the centre would be cheaper, or even warmer!

And, just to rub salt into the wound, he’s considering Greenford — a miserable dump that I would call “a wide spot on the Central Line” (easily the worst Tube line, except maybe for the Bakerloo) after personally experiencing it in September and October 2014, as you guys may remember ($DEITY knows, I’ve tried to forget!).  Am I going to lose touch with him, like I lost touch with “good housemate” (who I’ve barely spoken to in years)?  At best, will it be like when he lived in Willesden and had to drive over here when we went to the cinema or otherwise hung out?

Remember in 2012 when I posted about “potholes on the road to happiness”?

Never mind 2015 or 2016, this really seems to be the long-awaited rerun of 2012: I’m getting mo’ money at work (albeit this time permanently, instead of for helping to cover maternity leave), but potentially losing a close friend from my household and facing upheaval.  Believe it or not, it happened in 2007 as well: I went up in the world (from Scale 2 to Scale 4 during one of Camden’s endless reorganisations), but it was a bitter consolation after “female best friend” moved out, having never really settled into that pad on Caledonian Road.  At least she stayed local until she went to Sheffield in late 2008… but it was hard to get to see her after that, and of course then she met her future husband, and I felt like there was no place for me in her life any more…

(And worst of all, we never got to watch the second season of Space Battleship Yamato together!)

Am I now discovering a five-year, or even ten-year cycle in my life (major life changes), to go with the four-year (specific events) and three-year (emotional states) cycles I noticed before?  Or am I just down because it’s a dismal, cold January, and that’s getting everyone else down as well?  Will this be “my” year, or is the money just a consolation before I get fired?  Will I go through the worst “girl troubles” of all time, the final end of my futile efforts to get laid, or will I have another chance with an American girl (like the one I never even met face-to-face in mid-2012), and this time actually get it right because of all the confidence (and muscles) I’ve built up?

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t do these “then and now” attempts to figure out mystical cycles any more, but hey, it gives me something to post about here, doesn’t it…

Taking off the rose-tinted spectacles

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YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!!… no?  Oh, please yourselves!

The incot— inconter— incontrovit— can’t-argue-with-it-able fact is that my life is better now than ever before, especially since I started this blog; this manifests itself in two ways.

Firstly, I hardly ever write anything here, as I seldom find my “muse” (or I lose it by the time I get home, and spend ages playing The Witcher III instead).  Sorry, I know, but rest assured if I actually post here, it’s about something more significant than complaining about my gears being ground — and I said right at the start that this blog will come to an end once I have truly recovered from depression and sorted my life out, and maybe it’s happening at last.

Secondly, I no longer wish I could “turn back time” (like, ahem, Cher), and can see just how bad things were in the past, instead of viewing them through the lens of nostalgia.  I remember this feeling first coming upon me in July 2015, a few days after that particularly bad day, when I joined my fun yoga teacher and some friends on Primrose Hill for his birthday celebration, and despite my life not being particularly great at the time, knew I had potential for improvement and no longer regretted the past.

(Perhaps the cycle I’ve noted before starts in July rather than September?)

Oh, there are times I read my diary in — of all times — January 2012 and think about how much lay ahead of me at that time (like getting a smartphone and going to the western USA); perhaps I’m sending those happy thoughts back in time and keeping myself going through the horror.  Certainly, there’s no way I’d go back to my time at Caledonian Road to face all that misery again, even knowing how much better things would get afterwards.

More logically, there have been times I’ve thought fondly of, such as late 2013 — I’m sure I’ve said before how I’d gladly go through that mad Christmas journey home, especially in late 2014 when I was unemployed and hated my situation.  However, 2013 also saw massive work being done in our house to do up both bathrooms (which of course led to a rent increase), and that was after three weeks without an Internet connection!  Not to mention Schrödinger’s Fridge in 2014… and let’s be honest, I couldn’t go back to working at Camden as an admin boy, after all I’ve been through to escape that life.

Looking further back in time than this blog is no better: aside from Cally Road, I also don’t want to return to the dreadful house we had in Wood Green in 2004-6, and while I had a good year at university in 2003-4, there were also bad aspects, like the half-finished dorm we got moved into near the end, and the stress of my astrophysics course!  And before that I was living with my folks in Worthing, which I think speaks for itself: much as I’m grateful for my mother and grandmother taking care of me, I wasn’t happy living there, with no opportunity to do things I enjoyed or meet new people.

What about my undergrad days?  Much as I regret not getting a certain girlfriend in the summer of 1997, or finding a way to keep the one girlfriend of my life in September 1998, I still don’t want to go back to those times — the one because that house was COLD in winter (and I really grew to hate my course as well), and the other because, well, aside from having to face two family losses all over again (my grandfather and the dog I grew up with), I feel like I’d lose too much of the knowledge I’ve gained since then.

(Obviously I’d not go any further back than 1997, because I wouldn’t be a vegetarian any more!)

Don’t get me wrong, though: right now things aren’t exactly perfect, as our hot water supply has all but failed, despite four (or possibly five) visits from British Gas and its subsidiaries (yes, I’m naming and shaming again).  Tomorrow I’m going to have to call them up and vent my spleen, demanding to know why they haven’t already called us back to arrange another visit, and register an official complaint about how damn long it’s taking, especially since there was no hot water this evening at all!

Of course, I may end up viewing this time with rose-tinted spectacles anyway: not only do I now have a laptop (a castoff from work), on which I’m trying out Linux (I’m considering ditching Windows entirely thanks to Microsoft’s behaviour over 10), but I’m getting dates again, this time with women in their twenties… I’d love to think something good will finally happen to me, but after all the disappointments I’ve had in the past few years, we’ll just have to wait and see.

It certainly never helps if I try to see the future through rose-tinted spectacles, as all too often I forget to actually make things happen…

May I get depressed again?

lonely_shinjiI know I said I wouldn’t do it any more, but I feel I must drone on about how things right now compare to similar times in my past, because I’ve been feeling a little down this May, and I have before — it’s almost like clockwork…

Maybe it’s the changeable weather of this time of year that accentuates any unhappiness I already have — things that would otherwise merely perturb me.  I remember one Friday in mid-to-late May 1992, indeed, when I had a miserable time, despite it being a Friday before the half-term holiday!  Somehow too many damn things went wrong that day and I couldn’t concentrate, and got more and more wound up by petty little things; the strange thing is that I was happy at this school (we were about to move to Worthing, so I was making the most of it), so this brief bout of depression really stood out.

Something similar happened in 1995, during a school year I’d actually found pleasant — so it can strike even when I’m in familiar surroundings, with good friends, and enjoying what I’m doing.  May and June being exam months in full-time education certainly doesn’t help the situation: there was a particularly bad Astrophysics one in 2004 that almost made me give up, and there was a near-disaster in 2011 when I forgot my passport for my first A+ exam, though it turned out all right in the end.

Many times I’ve caught cold in May, too often for it to be a coincidence: 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2015 (with colds in June occurring in 1998, 2002 and 2014… yes, I’ve been checking my own diary).  You may remember my theories in these hallowed pages that depression could be a forewarning of an incipient cold, or that alternatively it might weaken the immune system and allow an existing cold virus to take hold…

But I think we all know the real reason I’ve been down this month, much as in previous Mays since at least 2010: girls.  Yes, I’m really sick of having to bring up this subject, but it’s a part of my life and something which matters to me, and until I resolve this matter one way or another, I’ll continue to feel down whenever I have an unmitigated failure.  This week I connected with someone in that dating app and almost immediately (as in, within 15 minutes) arranged to meet her for lunch, as we both work near Oxford Circus; it seemed to go well and we parted on good terms, but despite writing to her I’ve heard nothing back, and it feels like yet again either I did something wrong that she didn’t deign to tell me about… or someone’s whispered lies about me into her ear, like they’ve done to many other women who liked me.

(Well, what would you have me believe — that there’s a “stop Dave getting a girlfriend” conspiracy, or that single women in general are the kind of jerks who don’t even bother to reply “sorry, I’m not interested”?  So what if they’d feel bad letting me down — I feel worse not knowing what happened!)

It sucks that I can be getting everything else in my life right (I’ve passed probation at work, and am still enjoying what I do… well, mostly!), yet this aspect continues to confound me — my repeated failures still make me feel like it’s “too late”, that I’m too old to be as inexperienced as I am, and that society as a whole judges me to be either a pathetic loser or a dangerous deviant, who needs to shut up and stop trying.  It’s like being where I am makes it impossible for me to move away from that spot, almost by design (a bit like clamping a car that’s parked illegally), and that it’s somehow my fault for not “being normal” early enough in life.

Still, I need to remember the lesson I learned after my American holiday in 2013, when I not only got depressed over girls (both the young ladies on the trip that I fancied were in relationships already, though one still had a fling with a younger man in preference to me), but I also caught a cold.  Even though I had bad post-holiday blues (as I’m sure you remember), I finally realised that there’s nothing wrong with me being heterosexual: it’s not like I’ve committed a crime by wanting to find someone, and I’m not some kind of desperate weirdo just because I feel disappointed now and then.

And so it is today: despite another failure, I’m not going to give up my search, and I’m not going to let yet another “ghost girl” bring me down for any length of time, because she’s just not worth it.  There’s no damn time limit, and I don’t have to give a f*** what society thinks of me (especially the worthless society of this dreadful country — more than anything I want to leave England forever), because frankly I’m better than that.

And moreover, I don’t want to feel bad for feeling bad, like I’m wasting God’s gifts by not forcing myself to be cheerful, or remembering that other people have it worse, or any nonsense like that: everyone gets down now and then, and the important thing is not to revel in it, but to get through it by whatever means, and look forward to the next thing that cheers you up.  On that basis, over the long weekend (when I’ll be staying with my folks), I’ll see about reintroducing an old “Dave-ros Lives!” institution that’s been too long absent: the “Cool Things” post…