Category Archives: Trying new things

Winter welcome?

As long as no White Walkers turn up…

Until yesterday, I was — for very weird reasons — looking forward to winter, and the temperature going down.  Obviously January and February are always uncomfortably cold, but I recall last year’s November and December being refreshingly mild (especially compared to 2014), and I’ll be glad, for once, to see the end of hot weather.

No, I’m not an imposter, I’m still your friendly neighbourhood Dave-ros — it’s just that, for one thing, I’ve been finding it harder to sleep in hot weather, waking up itchy (apparently due to overheating) and unable to get back to sleep for ages.  Since it began cooling, however, I’ve been a lot more able to sleep, with only adrenaline waking me up during the night (after a few hours), and seldom keeping me awake.

For another thing, my new supercomputer.  Yes, that sentence didn’t need a verb — it’s going great (aside from having to re-register Windows 7 by phone, as it wasn’t working online!), and I have a good feeling it’ll pump a nice amount of heat into my room when I play intense 3D games (even if my new casing isn’t big and black like my previous ones, which my mother mistook for space heaters!).

Finally — and most spuriously — cooler weather means I can wear my new coat to and from work without sweating like a porcine mammal (especially on the crowded Underground), and this in turn means I can keep my phone in my hip pocket instead of my backpack, and thus look at it easily to see the title and artist of the track I’m listening to — necessary with unfamiliar songs, which often come up as I keep finding CDs in charity shops of bands I either want to hear more of (Jamiroquai, R.E.M.) or try getting into (Franz Ferdinand, Travis).

On the other hand, the meetup event I attended last night makes me worry about winter for the sake of others: I joined Shy London for their monthly linkup with Pavement People, who walk the streets of London looking for homeless people, in order to (a) offer simple supplies like food and toiletries, and (b) listen to their stories.  We avoided anyone who seemed to be high (or was asking for money instead of food, since they’re more likely to be on drugs), but anyone we met who was sane, we made a point of treating like human beings instead of street furniture, talking instead of ignoring.

I’m glad I took part (at least partially because I vowed I would back in June, if my mother found my dropped USB thumbdrive on the train platform), but it’s reminded me of how precarious our situation is on a daily basis — how everyone below the millionnaire class is, as they say, one paycheque away from poverty, and that you can end up homeless no matter how careful and honest you are.  I’m lucky that — for now at least — I can return to Worthing to live with my folks if London goes wrong for me, but what if they lose their home, through no fault of their own?

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if this country had a hotter climate, but it feels like we’re overdue for a genuinely cold winter (it’s been a long time since I last saw snow), and if that came to pass, those unlucky enough to have no place to stay would find it almost impossible to survive — and the way things are now, the only way to secure a hostel place in some areas (especially Westminster) is to have been there for three months or similar, without moving (even though those out-of-work are nagged to go search for jobs around the country)!  And the NHS also appears to be unable to treat people of “no fixed abode”.

It feels like our government du jour would welcome a nice cold winter, as a way to mitigate the increasing homeless problem without having to shake the magic money tree, or — heaven forfend — change policies to stop penalising people severely for honest mistakes (like missing a single Job Centre appointment, or even  clicking the wrong tickbox in an online form when applying for dental treatment).  It’s almost as though they want to be able to punish ordinary people at any time…

Sorry, I know, no sense going into an angry rant on this occasion (I’ll soapbox about that subject another time) — the important thing is that I got involved and met real people less fortunate than me, the sort of people who aren’t worried about trivial things like computers and gadgets, and while I can’t resolve all their problems (any more than I could for people closer to me), at least I can help them a little, keep them going longer — and look them in the eye.

It’s certainly better than simply claiming that the best way I can help the homeless is to not increase their number by one…

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Out with the old…

I know Shady’s in his forties now, but I’m nowhere near as mature as him, am I?

It’s my birthday today, but never mind the number… let’s just say 30 and be done with it, what with my actual 30th in 2007 being a very unhappy day, and occurring during one of the ten years I wasn’t really “living” as such (2000-3 hibernating in Worthing with my folks, between my undergrad and postgrad days, and 2005-11 for reasons I won’t go into here — maybe another night?).

No, the main thrust of my blog tonight is that, around the time of my birthday this year, I’ve been making plans to get rid of some old stuff, and replacing it with new stuff — in many cases with the assistance of people in my life.  However, unlike Eminem in 2002, I’m cleanin’ out my closet without insulting my mother, since she’s a large part of the reason I made it this far in my life!

And my mother and grandmother helped me this weekend: finally I’m rid of the coat I got in 2014, just at the start of my decline into serious anxiety.  I know objects supposedly don’t exude positive or negative karma, but still, the left zip pocket broke earlier this year, and the new one’s not only got red lining inside (red being “my colour” at the moment), but a spider motif!

(No, nothing to do with Spider-Man — I’m not quite that geeky when it comes to my day-to-day clothes!)

I also have a new pair of boots bought for me by my folks, to replace the pair I was given by my “second family” in Michigan many years ago, but which I haven’t used since early 2014, due to them being caked in mud while I was watching my mother take part in a mud-run challenge.  It’s a pity, but I feel no real attachment to them any more — and being American boots, somehow I wonder if they were as leather-free as claimed?  The new ones certainly are, judging from the symbols, and I have a feeling I’ll be needing them now that winter is coming… I just have to hope the three-year cycle doesn’t happen again, and that this winter is better for me than those in 2014 and 2011 — which as you know (in the former case because I was writing this then, and the latter case because I keep going on about it) were depressing times of my life.

Speaking of 2011, the most important changes concern my computer — the PC of Theseus is undergoing further replacement, and soon, aside from the Windows 7 installation itself (but not the physical drvie it’s on), nothing will be left of that year.  My “boss-lady” has very kindly (and surprisingly, in light of what happened before) bought me a new sixth-generation i7 processor, in lieu of buying me a laptop so I could work from home.  I was already planning to get one, but she’s saved me quite a bit of money on this operation!  I’ve bought a new motherboard to plug it into, along with DDR4 memory (since I can’t reuse my own DDR3 in it), and a cooling fan for the processor (since one didn’t come with the processor itself, oddly).

I also bought a new computer casing a couple of weekends ago — smaller, sleeker and whiter than the yuge black Cooler Master casing I got in 2011, which fortunately I was able to give to charity (rather than needing someone to drive me to the dump).  Installing my old setup in the new box has paved the way for the new setup: all I have to do is put the new components on the new motherboard, swap that out wholesale with the old motherboard, and plug everything back in!  Positioning the drives (including the Win7 SSD) and running cables through the casing was the hard part, so this bit will be, relatively speaking, nice and easy…

(Says Dave-ros, hoping he’s not jinxing it by being over-confident!)

Once that’s done, I can take my old third-generation i7 (snugly in its motherboard, but with memory and fan removed for the journey) down to Worthing, to replace the creaking old Core 2 Quad (with DDR2 memory) system I have in the Frankencomputer.  I originally bought that ten years ago for use here in London, only upgrading from it in 2011 — which brings us around to that year again!

Since I got rid of the big casing I brought down from London in 2011 (the one with the big green “not handles” on the front), and put the components into a smaller white casing that my mother had originally planned to have me build her new PC in at Christmas, the Frankencomputer is also becoming a PC of Theseus, though still with plenty of “original” components left in it (since it’s not something I worry too much about upgrading, due to only using it when I visit my folks in Worthing).  I know I set it up with Win7 in 2014, but since I upgraded that to Win10 last year, perhaps I’ve driven the 2014 out of it too?

Okay, I know that’s not an acoustic guitar, but I’m workin’ on it!

And finally, there’s the guitar I bought cheaply in 2014… no, don’t worry, I’m not getting rid of it along with other stuff from that year!  Quite the opposite — I’ve started taking guitar classes, coincidentally starting on my birthday today.  One thing I’ve learned repeatedly in life (Japanese, computing etc.) is that I learn a lot better from actual people, with structured classes, than I do trying to study off my own back whenever I can be bothered.  It happened to be a one-to-one session in this first wek, as the other guy who signed up through Meetup.com was off sick!

My teacher’s certainly helped me with holding a guitar properly, and he was impressed that I already knew the basic D-A-E chords thanks to my previous studies, not unlike my personal trainer in 2013 and my Japanese teacher in 2008!  Unfortunately, five years of climbing (which he said many of his other students are also into) still haven’t left the fingertips of my left hand sufficiently calloused to endure the pain of holding down the strings, so good job the class was only an hour long.  And good job he has spare guitars, so I don’t have to lug mine all the way to the end of the Victoria Line!

However, maybe now in 2017, with this guy’s help, I can achieve what I failed to do three years ago: learn to play my guitar skilfully, and one day rock out with the Antarctic rock gods themselves, Gwar…

(What, did you think I’d grown up and given away all my old Scumdog merchandise?  I’m not a boring old fuddy-duddy yet, and hopefully never will be, you… bohab!)

New tactics, old tactics

ad_furrowNo apologies for the increasing gaps between blog posts, I’m sure you’re used to it by now — but let me start by saying that I’ve gone and failed my Windows Server 2008 exam.  Don’t panic, I get a free retake, and I know what I did wrong: I didn’t cheat!

Yes, it seems the only way I can get anywhere in life is by burying my ethics and doing what I shouldn’t — thus I’m going back to the online “exam dumps” that I eschewed this time around through a mixture of moralising and laziness.  The questions in the exam bore so little resemblance to the training material that I was reminded of the disaster of my Windows 7 exam in 2012 (is my life really going in three-year cycles?), except this time I did even worse, not even getting 90% of the pass mark.

(If I didn’t know better, and I don’t, I’d think I was deliberately marked down because I’m not already an IT professional and admitted in the preliminary bit of the test that I didn’t have much experience — after all, Heaven forefend that an enthusiastic amateur be allowed to shame the experts!  Look at Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards… okay, bad example!)

It’s come at a bad time: my current work contract is nearly over, and though they might keep me on a bit longer, depending on workload (and my contribution to my team’s total pedometer count), it looks like I have to face going back into the job market again.  It’s better to be doing so in the summer than the winter (though admittedly the current difference between the two appears to be the length of daylight hours), but this time I’ll have to change tactics regarding my CV, and focus on the “big” jobs I’ve had (the current one and, of course, Camden), instead of mentioning every single one I’ve done recently (like the bad one in November).

However, will I have time for all this studying and applying, since I’ve redoubled my efforts to get out and socialise?  Rather than just climbing, yoga and personal training, plus hanging out with “best mate”, I’m making more of an effort to go to meetup groups I’ve been neglecting, such as salsa dancing and Science Museum end-of-month “lates”.  Perhaps I’m recapturing how I felt when I first discovered Meetup.com in 2013, after my holiday, when I needed some new experiences, and will have to start being sensible again, and force myself to stay in some evenings…

In my effort to try new things, I’ve even taken my dating coach’s advice and visited a gentlemen’s club… that was certainly an experience I’d never had before — and while I won’t go into details (because this is a family blog!), I like to think I’m more relaxed around hot women now, even if I really need to learn to flirt instead of talking to them like they’re human beings.  I have been trying to do that lately, and getting downhearted when it fails to lead to a date, but I mustn’t give up — and if all else fails, I’ll use the same ethics I’m now using with IT exams, and simply cheat.  Yep, I’ll lie about my age on dating sites (perhaps even creating a fake Facebook profile to link with Tinder) — after all, I could pass for 27, couldn’t I?

(Ah, screw you guys!)

I’m trying new things in the musical world as well… no, don’t worry, Gwar will always have a special place in my heart (I’ve even finally learned the lyrics to “Let Us Slay”, exactly a year after I got Lust in Space), but thanks to cheap CDs on Amazon and in charity shops, I’ve discovered Björk, Dido and Radiohead, as well as getting CDs of artists of whom I was already fans (and perhaps already had some tracks), like the Pet Shop Boys, Blur and Jamiroquai.  This is in addition to all the early Prince CDs I bought recently: I think my music collection’s increased in size by about a third this year!  Indeed, I really should get a bigger SD card for my phone, so I can also rip my grandmother’s classical music CDs — because that’s something else I want to try all over again…

And finally, to modify my attitudes I’m trying something new: self-help books!  In addition to that book on CBT I’ve mentioned before, I’ve begun reading a book lent to me by that cool woman at work (who’s like an aunt to me) — The Secret, all about the “Law of Attraction” and the notion that you get whatever you think about, whether you’re thinking about it in a positive or negative context.  This is what a female friend of mine was on about last year, and might explain why the annoying woman was always at work whenever I wanted her not to be; it seems to be working so far: instead of thinking how much I resent the presence of other blokes (especially Middle Eastern ones), I try to focus on how much I want to encounter women… and thus the yoga singles event I attended on Friday had equal numbers of both genders!

Oh, how I want loads of people to come to my blog, see how intelligently I write, and offer me untold riches as though I’m a modern messiah… no?  Well, it was worth a try!

— — —

What’s that?  You want to hear the Gwar song I’ve memorised?  You are never satisfied, are you?  Oh, go on then, here you go… and yes, I’m channelling Frankie Howerd at the end of the Up Pompeii! movie whenever I do this!

Something old, something new

CB

No, no-one’s getting married, stop getting your hopes up that I might have finally met someone!

A relatively quick note tonight, to let you goons know I’m keeping on, both reliving old experiences and trying new things.  Unfortunately one recurring experience is that I’ve got an upset stomach again, and while I’m not involuntarily evacuating my digestive system (by barfing or… other means), I feel a bit off-colour.  Maybe the vomiting bug is doing the rounds again and I’m more resistant this time, or maybe I stirred up something nasty through either tidying my room (an unpleasant prospect at the best of times) or cutting the plant life growing over our back garden wall and into the alleyway.

(Rather worryingly, there was a jacket and dufflebag tangled up in the creepers… almost as though it had eaten someone in the past!)

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be better tomorrow, when I intend to go climbing again — not at the Castle, where I usually go, but at the Westway!  I’ve only been there once before with a Meetup.com group, and they’re going again.  This also means missing my usual Tuesday night yoga (and preceding expensive dinner at Nando’s or Ed’s at Euston station), but hey, I’m allowed to change things up occasionally, aren’t I?

Actually, in entertainment terms, I’ve been mixing it up recently, especially regarding the books I read — or e-books, since I’ve archived most of my paperbacks now (I may not get rid of them after all, thanks to Friern Barnet library not taking new books any more).  Whereas previously I’ve been reading my old Discworld paperbacks at night, and my old Asimov (or Dune) paperbacks on the Tube, recently I’ve started reading previously-unread Discworld novels on my Kindle at night, and The Mote in God’s Eye on my smartphone on the Tube.  I’ve also been taking a break from watching every Doctor Who story (which I’ve seen previously at least once, albeit back in 1996 in some cases) in order to enjoy season 1 of Game of Thrones on Blu-ray.

(I’ve already had season 2 of Game of Thrones spoiled for me: apparently there’s less gratuitous T&A…)

And speaking of new entertainment… yes, it’s the inevitable Gwar reference.  I’ve got three more of their albums to get hold of (making a grand total of 13, my lucky number), but in the meantime I’m getting hold of other albums as well — either albums for which I already had a couple of tracks (such as The Fat of the Land by The Prodigy), or earlier albums for artists I’m already familiar with (such as I Wish My Brother George Was Here by Del the Funky Homosapien).  Indeed, I have plans to go back to the beginning of two of my other favourite artists, 2Pac and Prince, and buy their earlier works (though in the latter case I’ll only go up to 1992).

Buying CDs may cost a lot of money (mitigated by the fact that I’ve hardly any more Doctor Who DVDs to get), but that’s nothing compared to the cost of going to Michigan, which I really want to do so I can see my old roommate’s family in their Fenton homestead one last time.  Air travel seems to have become a lot more expensive than it was in the 2000s, and it seems to be no cheaper than £800 at the moment.  It would suck if I couldn’t go, but maybe I’ll have to rely on some kind of last-minute deal.  It’d help if my stupid workplace would tell me when my final day is (which they should have done last week), but no…

Anything else?  Only that I’m studying Windows Server 2008 in my lunchbreaks, which means some of it’s familiar (since I took classes in Server 2003 back in 2010) while other stuff is brand new.  And now, I’m going to try something really radical: going to bed before midnight… yeah, fat chance!

Get confident, stupid!

I wanted to buy a book on assertiveness, but the shopkeeper wouldn’t sell it to me.
–Me, a few years ago*

drill_sergeant

Maybe I need R. Lee Ermey to shout abuse at me until I feel more confident… which would be like hitting a paraplegic until they regain the ability to walk

As you’re no doubt aware from the amount I go on about it, I have a problem with confidence, being assertive and standing up to jerks.  Well, it’s high time I overcame my shyness, because let’s be honest: I’m not “too polite” to ask fat people not to sit next to me on the bus, or noisy people on the Tube to shut up, I’m too cowardly!

To this end, I attended two events on Saturday.  First, I saw my dating coach once again (the one whose professional name was inspired by the Joker’s female sidekick), and rather than just listening to my tales of woe regarding my recent failed romances, she taught me some useful skills for asserting myself.  For example, standing with legs shoulder-width apart (my personal trainer would be proud), with big toes pointing down, shoulders back (I do tend to hunch, possibly thanks to sitting over computers 24/7) and chin up.  Plus, I mustn’t keep nodding or bowing my head humbly all the time, and must instead maintain eye contact (which will apparently help freak out the bus people), as well as speaking in a more serious tone than my usual goofy, nerdy voice, and making expansive hand gestures.

In fact, I need more often to channel how I behaved towards an IT guy at work — who, having taken away my desktop computer a week before Christmas, has more recently threatened to take away our remaining monitors and thus force us all to use our pathetic laptop screens.  I was almost incandescent with rage at someone who was just doing his job!  And that’s how I should have dealt with my jerkoff housemate when he held the kitchen door closed, instead of rushing past him and trying to ignore his taunts…

The other event, coincidentally hosted by a friend of my dating coach (who has a far more prosaic name), was in a similar vein: body confidence.  We all waved our arms and shouted incoherently, and then paired off to smile and shake hands, or sell each other our chairs, and I think I took away some useful hints from the seminar.  Apart from learning to speak more clearly (not necessarily slowly, but “fast-controlled”), it seems I really need a mirror, so I can spot my bad habits (such as the aforementioned head-bowing) and do something about them, possibly involving some kind of The Prisoner-esque shock therapy.

(No, I don’t have a full-length mirror in my room, and I already spend enough time before my showers flexing my muscles in front of the bathroom mirror… wait, did I just write that?  Well, good, it’s better than being ashamed of my body!)

So, with all that and a friendly interaction with a girl as well (alas, she turned out to have a boyfriend already, but she hasn’t done the Internet equivalent of slapping me in the face and still wants to be friends), I felt pretty good as I headed home… so why is it I immediately clammed up when I got back here and encountered the aforementioned housemate?  He wasn’t even being a jerk (though admittedly it’s hard to tell with him, he’s one of those people who always sound like they’re making fun of you), and I can only compare the situation to souping up a car engine: you think you’ve put it together better than it was before, but when you try to start it up it immediately stalls!

cornholio

Sorry, just trying to lighten the mood with a reference to someone else who needs T.P. for his bunghole

It may have been due to my thinking that our fridge-freezer had died yet again (it hadn’t, or possibly I fixed it shortly afterwards, because it’s now colder than ever), or due to having spoken about him to someone else, or even due to his stupid proscription on spending house kitty money on toilet paper (yes, really, we have to buy our own T.P. and bring it to the crapper!), but I haven’t spoken to him since.  Despite wanting to snap and have it out with him at the time, I feel now like I should apologise for freezing him out: this was an incident not unlike what I once almost did to “good housemate” when I happened to encounter him on Oxford Street in Spring 2011, not long after he’d drunkenly said some obnoxious words to me about (he thought) losing my virginity before I met someone I cared about, and when I was already in a low mood.

However, somehow I doubt my current housemate is shedding any tears over my treatment of him — after all, the only emotions he ever seems to display are smug amusement, sneering condescension (when something goes wrong for me) and, occasionally, annoyance (when something goes wrong for him) — and hey, he never apologised for the kitchen door incident, did he… if anything, he seemed to think I ought to apologise for being such a sourpuss!  Maybe I’m inflicting a new and unfamiliar emotional state upon him, and thus restoring his humanity to some extent… in which case, I’m being as altruistic as the school bullies who tried so very, very hard to help me grow a thicker skin.  Aren’t I a nice person?

Seriously, though, this is a situation I’m going to have to resolve — sometimes he seems nice and reasonable, but mostly I just feel edgy around him, as though he’s secretly laughing at me and all I’ve done to sort myself out since I moved in here.  This is the kind of poisonous atmosphere I had in the final year at Caledonian Road with “bad housemate” (who almost certainly didn’t realise what a see-you-next-Tuesday he was, and would have been baffled if I’d told him), and before that, in Wood Green with the Irish guy (the one with the same birthday as me) who could get very, very angry over really minor things (and who I unfriended on Facebook after he laughed at my depression… yes, I know, first world problems and all that).  I even had a similar issue sharing a room with an American in 1998-9, but he at least had taken me into the bosom of his family, and helped me out considerably, so I tolerated his occasional jerk phases (and I was hardly the best roommate in the world!).

It’s going to be very difficult building up my confidence if I don’t feel safe in my own home, and where better to assert myself?  Then again, in a few months I should be in a nice low-paid IT job, and I’ll probably want to save money by moving somewhere cheaper, possibly with “best mate”… or, hah, I might even meet the girl of my dreams and live in sin — but not until I sort out my confidence, of course.  Thus I have no alternative but to draw the battle line outside my bedroom door…

(* This joke made “female best friend” laugh, and “other female best friend” groan as though it was the worst joke she’d ever heard)

Single guy seeks wild girl

fg_d&g

“What a mismatched pair — a free spirit and a puppet”

I know I said I wouldn’t go on about my girl troubles in this blog, but technically I’m not going to be complaining as such tonight (except about our flaky Internet connection, which will probably cause this post to be a bit disjointed — if it makes it to publication at all!): no, instead it’s another epiphany I’ve had regarding this ongoing issue.  It’s something I’ve suspected for some time, but Friday evening put it into context…

It was another of those Meetup.com events I’ve been trying to go to as a part of becoming more outgoing and less of a sit-at-home sourpuss, but unfortunately it seems to have been one primarily aimed at ladies in their 40s, judging from the females on offer.  (There were attractive women at the venue, but they were there for a parallel event, and not to meet single guys!)  Seriously, I’m not into older women like them — and it’s not just a looks thing (because hey, bring me Courtney Cox in Cougar Town and I might be interested), it’s also personality as communicated through body language and speech.  I really, really don’t want to spend my life with someone who seems to have no passion, no joie de vivre, and is merely “pleasant company”, in that she’s polite and asks questions, and forces herself to smile a lot while sipping the inevitable wine; I’m not a charity, after all, and there has to be some spark between us.  The evening wasn’t a total loss: at least one of the organisers (herself attractive, but spoken for) helped me chat up some of the younger women at the venue, and even though I didn’t pull, it was a bit of a confidence-booster.

It was a blessed relief when “best mate” (as I’m going to my Irish climbing buddy instead of “newest friend” henceforth, for reasons I’ll go into below) phoned up to see what I was doing, because he was “bored out of his tree” waiting for another mate of his to perhaps call up, as it gave me a way out of a boring evening.  We got some food (I’d actually had to skip dinner just to go to this event, which wasn’t even catered), and he said something which brought home to me just what I need to do…

You see, “best mate” has a bit of a crazy lifestyle: even though he doesn’t drink (which is rare enough for an Irishman!), and doesn’t go out much during the week, he attends wild parties some weekends and indulges in, shall we say, recreational substance usage… but he wants to meet a nice woman who will “tame” him, and stop him living this destructive lifestyle.  And that got me thinking: what I really need is a woman who is herself a bit untamed, wild, crazy, and in need of a sensible guy who can give her some stability in her life, and whom she can in turn coax out of his shell and make more confident and outgoing.

Indeed, I considered going to one of these rave parties with him on Saturday night, but instead decided to go to another singles event in London — and although this fell through (possibly due to lack of response on Meetup.com?), it meant I encountered a whole new bunch of people, and had a fun evening!  Yes, here’s my new “newest friend”, a guy who took pity on me when I was wandering a small rock pub, frustrated that I had no idea where the group was meeting, and inducted me into his circle of friends, who were very friendly and enthusiastic about my presence.  Not only did I have a Jager-bomb and a shot of tequila during the evening, but I even had the guts to go and talk to an American girl in a minidress!  Didn’t get any, of course (though this seems to be because she was more interested in making out with women, despite not herself being a lesbian — so at least I got to watch, eh?), but better I took a shot at it, and maybe even impressed my new friends into the bargain.

Hey, they even wanted me to stay with them for the rest of their crazy night out, but I had to go home because I was (again) hungry, thanks to (again) not having a proper dinner beforehand… it was like the four Danish guys from my American trip, except I didn’t tell them to shut up and let me sleep, like a total square (don’t worry, I apologised the next day).  Hopefully I’ll see these guys again for more debauchery another time, especially if a singles event fails to materialise (or is a washout)!

This isn’t the only time in my life that I’ve been tempted by the dark side.  There was a deceptively innocent-seeming girl at university, with pretty eyes; she got drunk and slept around with the guys in my class, but she also seemed to like me as a person (even though I annoyed her sometimes with the weird things I said!), and who I sensed didn’t want to live her crazy lifestyle any more.  One time during the summer of 1997, when I’d been out in London with one of my second-year housemates, I was sitting on the train home when she came and sat next to me, having apparently seen me get on at Waterloo!  I often wonder whether I could have been with her if I’d had the nerve to go for it, but at the same time I feel that I was perhaps better being a friend and a confidant to her than just another bloke trying to get her into bed.

She certainly never made a move on me… but you never know, maybe if I’d gone to the pub for her housemate’s birthday instead of to the computer lab to indulge my libido… then, er, I could have helped her home when she inevitably got drunk, and not taken advantage of her, because I’m not like that, but instead shown what a nice guy I was, and won her over that way!  Having said that, I wouldn’t have gone on that student exchange to Michigan in 1998 if I’d been with her: having a girlfriend alone would have made me a lot less depressed at university (it’s always been “I’ll never find anyone” rather than “I’ll never find the exact right one” that’s upset me over the years), and I’d have had no need to go to America in the belief that only American women would give me a chance!

And that would have meant I never met my roommate’s family in Michigan, and visited them again over the years… and, for that matter, I’d never have dated that sweet, innocent Mexican-American girl for an entire week and then driven her away by trying to make out with her every time we met (because I was so desperate to make up for lost time).  Who knows how many things would be different?  Would 9/11 have happened…?

But no sense regretting who what I did or didn’t do in the past; here’s to the future, and the crazy girls I hope to meet.  Obviously sweet, innocent girls are also welcome (especially “ugly ducklings” who need to be told they’re beautiful), but no boring “old before their time” crone-like women who don’t take care of themselves physically or even have interesting personalities!

(Please note, I’m not writing off all older women: my fabulous mother shows what can be achieved by someone willing to exercise and push herself to the limit, and she could probably pass for my big sister now!  There, that should please the old harridan and shut her up for a… oh, er, am I still typing?)

(Only joking, Mumsy, if you’re reading!  If you’re not, huh…)

One final point: despite my intention to “cut loose”, I don’t intend to take (illegal) drugs or get arrested (obviously I may not be able to control either of those, depending upon circumstances), but wild parties may just be what I need to start living.  I like to think I’m a moderating influence on “best mate” (are you used to me calling him that by now?), and that he in turn is helping me enjoy myself, so maybe if I join him at one of these raves, I can support him with his alcohol abstinence, and he can introduce me to a hippy chick looking for love… as long as I spend the week studying computers in my spare time, of course.

So even if I don’t do it, I can still do IT, eh?  Eh?  Philistines…

An emotional rollercoaster

CorpseBride

This is literally the only film ever made with the word “bride” or “wedding” in the title that I can bear to watch

On Saturday I pretty much crossed the entire bipolar spectrum as I attended the wedding of my “female best friend”.  Now, I didn’t have any problem when “other female best friend” got married in early 2012, partly because she only had family for the actual ceremony and partly because “female best friend” has always been somehow closer to me, more like a genuine little sister.  This occasion was more like the wedding of my old American roommate’s little sister back in 2007, and here’s why: the whole “how they met” story being recited at the reception, which served to remind me that I’ve never met anyone that way, even for a relationship that didn’t end in marriage.  Indeed, the closest I can get to this whole concept is my chance meeting with “newest friend” last year, and I’m hardly likely to marry him, even if the law changes in this country the way George Takei is hoping it will!

It’s worth noting, however, that my spirits were lifted (uh huh huh huh, again) by the end of the day, as I became acquainted — or perhaps that should be reacquainted — with “female best friend’s” other friends, young ladies I’d met before but never really gotten to know before.  Indeed one, “female best friend’s” oldest friend, kept hugging and comforting me, and even danced with me during the reception (I think we upstaged the newlyweds — sorry if you’re reading, “female best friend”!), almost as though she sensed I was down and needed cheering up.  But no, she’s not “the one” — for one thing, she’d be rather more likely to make use of the aforementioned change in the law!

Another friend, to my shame, I hadn’t recalled at all, but it turned out to be fortuitous for her that I was organising a taxi to take me back to the main city station later than every other Londoner had left to get a connecting train from the village’s pokey little station, because it meant I was able to bring her purse to her, and still arrive in time for the last train that got back to the Smoke before the Tube shut down!  She turned out to be as interested in local politics as me (albeit not from Barnet, so she was shocked to hear about the ways our corrupt Tory betters are trying to screw over the disabled for a profit), and we did puzzles on the train home, together with “good housemate” (more about him later).  No, she’s not my type, but she’s perfectly nice, and I certainly need all the friends I can get…

Because I think the reason that I felt so much more cheerful during the reception (once the speeches were over) than the ceremony is simply this: I need more friends and social interaction.  Perhaps this is why I enjoyed my holiday in America and felt such black despair when I came back to Blighty (though the jet lag and appalling weather may also have played their part): I spent two weeks in the company of 13 other people (including the guide), rising to 16 if you count another group travelling to the same places as us, and I come home to my usual mundane life of staying in most nights, and my only real social contact (aside from the occasions I get to see “newest friend”) is with the people at work.

There’s also the consideration that the worst place for a single person, especially one pessimistic about their chances of ever finding someone, is surrounded by a lot of happy couples, or people who have already paired off and so aren’t “on the market”, and talk about their mundane married lives, which still seem enticing and jealousy-inducing to someone who hasn’t even been in a long-term relationship before.  So what it comes down to is, I need to get out more.

(Yes, that earthquake you just felt was the biggest penny in the world finally dropping, thanks for your sarcasm!)

I’ve already begun this process: there’s a website called Meetup.com (I wonder if they’ll give me credit for this blatant plug) which lists all sorts of clubs and gatherings that have been organised, especially here in London; I’m going to a sci-fi society on Saturday, and I’ve joined a couple of others to see where they lead.  Honestly, it’s like Freshers’ Fayre all over again — except this time I won’t join a society and then let my interest peter out, as I did with (of all things) a climbing society at my alma mater!  Wow, sixteen years before I took it up as a hobby, I tried it once as a student and didn’t seem to enjoy it… my, but how we change.

There’s one other thing to mention about the weekend, and it was a bit of a revelation.  I’ve spoken here before about “good housemate”, but I may not have made it clear that he’s the same guy from this spiel, who used to insult me by claiming (variously) that I’m a heterosexual virgin, a practising homosexual, and “banging my Chinese girlfriend” (I was actually meeting my Japanese female friend for language exchange, so there were at least three things wrong with that one!).  Don’t hold it against him because he still let me stay at his flat in early 2012 when I was “between” homes, and he was right about me not cleaning the house enough (something I’ve rectified in this household).

Anyway, I’ve always thought, despite his insults, that he was a hoopy frood — a really amazingly-together guy, who knew what he was doing and had a plan.  It seems I got this impression purely from the fact that he spent the five years we lived at Caledonian Road saving up for a deposit, because in fact he doesn’t really want to do anything other than the things he enjoys, and I suspect the only reason he gets more girls than me is that he’s more confident approaching them (and a couple of years younger, and has his own place, and is slightly better looking…), not because he’s looking for his future wife.  In fact, he even admitted to me and the other friend on the train home that he has trouble forming emotional bonds with people, and that he might be a borderline Asperger’s case.

Now, I know I shouldn’t feel schadenfreude… and I don’t in this case, I actually wish I could help him out (I have offered to go climbing with him, but he reckons he needs to lose a lot of weight first — the penalty for quitting smoking — though we may be on for badminton).  However, I do feel a bit better about my own life, because I’ve actually had plans to change my life over the past few years, even if they’ve so far come to nought.  Oh, there have been times I’ve felt happy in my rut, sitting at home playing video games and using the Internet to deal with my (ahem) frustration, and while that may be okay occasionally, I don’t want to end up that way again, because it’s a false happiness that occasionally makes me scream in horror when I see, fleetingly, the gilded cage I’ve built around myself.

(Ooh, wasn’t that poetic?  No?  Ugh, please yourselves…)

There have been other times I’ve tried to change my life, and too often I’ve given up in anguish — which is why I won’t be wasting time with speed-dating or sites like Match.com or Lovestruck (which seem to be about 90% male anyway, so any woman of even passing attractiveness gets swamped by messages from blokes, and shy guys like me disappear into the background noise), but instead trying to do things that actually interest me.  Maybe I won’t meet the girl of my dreams (though I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get any action!), but at least I can do something different, and maybe have more interesting stuff to talk about here.

A (perhaps worrying) postscript: I enjoyed alcohol at the reception rather more than I have in the rest of my life, and indeed got quite a pleasant buzz from two glasses of champagne, instead of screwing my face up like I usually do.  So, it seems I’m well and truly off the wagon at last, but is 35 the wrong time to be boozing, and will this undo any of the benefits I’ve gained through exercise?  Will loosening up and having fun be the death of my liver?  Are caffeinated sugar (or worse, aspartme) drinks any healthier?  Or is it just a case of “all things in moderation”?