Expecting the Unexpected

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Well, nothing about this trip has been quite as expected. Due to me forgetting until Thursday that Kev had a new number, I had no idea of the state of my apartment. I hadn’t kept in very good touch with anyone else here, bar Sarah, who I was definitely going to spend some time on Saturday with, so I had no definite other arrangements (Jean had offered, back in October, but we hadn’t spoken to each other a couple of weeks). I took a flyer, just went to the apartment thinking “It’ll be OK”, but when I got there – no toilet. Which was a tad inconvenient, since I had skipped a visit at the airport. I always seem to just miss the train coming off the Friday night flight, so this time I was determined! I caught the train, but it left me contemplating the problem with the (scientifically-proven) brainpower handicap of a full bladder.

I kinda stuffed up. It was dark, I was tired, all the useful stuff like the cooker and my “sea chest” (plastic crate that holds all my worldly possessions in Germany) were hiding under other things, plus a layer of dust. The only buckets were full of plaster. I wasn’t really thinking straight. Instead of setting to, getting the portable light plugged in, finding the red floor bucket and getting the place shipshape, I turned round, got straight back on the tram and went to Rabenschwarz kneipe, where I knew Frieda was working and that she might lend me her futon. I would have gone there anyway for a few glasses of (alkoholfrei) Weißbier, once I had got sorted out, but I am kicking myself now… Ended up with me spending money over the weekend that could have gone more usefully.

I had a good, but quiet evening. The lovely Frieda consulted with Sabine back at home and, indeed, I could stay. Tomorrow would be another day to deal with. Not wanting to force a whole group’s conversation into English, I said basic hellos to people I did know, then sat in a comfy candlelit corner reading a Lindsey Davis “Falco” book on my Fonepad, having the odd beer (and eventually Fencheltee) and just chilling til closing time. Unfortunately there was a mutual non-recognition incident with a musically-inclined guy called Sven, who I’d had a long interesting chat with on a previous visit – it was only when he was leaving that we both went “oh, I didn’t see you there…” Oh well, some other time!

Finally, as I struggled to keep both awake and warm (a tiredness symptom rather than any lack in the bar’s heating), it was closing time. Frieda cashed up, locked up, and we headed back to hers. Crashed out about 4, warm and grateful.

Glitch?

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I don’t know anyone whose life is like mine. Or whose plans/dreams are at all similar. It makes it difficult to talk things over/mull/sanity check. Makes me feel really quite isolated.

I neither want nor need any one person to add up to the same as me. If you have that, then when one of you (inevitably) changes in a way that the other doesn’t, that can very well be disaster. As can trying to live not admitting you have changed. I try very much not to cripple the future by dwelling on the past, but I do want to learn from it – a tricky balance. I’m in a position for freedom in my life (at least for a time) that few people are. Which is not an accident. It has happened by work and planning and riding out all the changes, bad luck and disasters, and (crucially for my sanity) by never exploiting anyone. I’ve got friends, but there’s no good way to talk about where I am right now with any of them without running the risk of sounding like a total d!ck. That’s the isolating thing.

I’m not a situation that classically seems like it needs sympathy, so I’m very touched that at least some of you get it, at least a little. I am lucky, I have lots of friends and don’t lose touch with many. A few, but that’s people better off out of my life. The good ones are good about staying in touch. Even if our lives go in different ways, it’s good to know they are doing well.

It’s tough to feel I deserve it, to look after myself, to be kind to myself.

Almost as soon as I write this, make it public – the Matrix glitches, and even more good things and good people come into my life.

Life through a lens

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Kaleidoscopic jam night at the Social Club.

Just a look at the world from strange, swirly, multiply-distorted angles – seems highly appropriate to the SSC jam crew, and indeed to all of my friends. I am greatly cheered by reminders of the other weird and wonderful people I do know, all walking their own wibbly-wobbly paths. We may all have our own brand of non-normality but we can also have a (no doubt somewhat shambolic) form of solidarity!

And, to complement that lot, from the master of funky photos himself,  Mr. Chris Nevard, me…

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All too accurate :-)

Pleasure

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I’ve realised that I pretty much think of work as a prison term that I just have to endure until my sentence is over. Ok, so it’s a moderately nice open prison, but still….far too accurate. I want to study and do creative things and enjoy some of the fruits of my previous labours before I get old. I mean, who knows how long any of us have?

As I established long ago, it’s not any one job that’s the problem, it’s work. Easy, hard, interesting, boring, nice people / conditions, horrible ones, long commute, no commute, computers, not-computers, perm, contract, big company, smallest of companies … It’s all the same. It’s doing what someone else wants – and generally far removed from anything directly useful to keeping anyone alive and happy. I cannot connect with any of it any more. There is no retirement anyway – stop doing and you stop being. I think there’s no cutoff where you never need to support yourself ever again, and trying to save to afford one is ludicrous. Warps your whole life, pushing all the fun/relaxation later and later – and you might never get there. At least so I see it. Others are different and that’s perfectly valid too. Favour a far more episodic approach myself.

I’m going to enjoy whilst I am still definitely here and definitely capable. I’m not pushing it all ever further into the unknowable future. I want to be busy about what I want – for as long as it interests me.

I’ve never been career/money/status oriented, but I have been on a long term strategy (in the loosest possible terms) since I was…oooh… about 23, really. Maybe since I decided (at 16 ish) that I wasn’t ever having children. I was about 26 when I seriously realised that being good at what I did technically wasn’t going to cut it for me as a life and I didn’t want to run a company. I made my first “escape attempt” in 2004, had a decent go at it 2010 (personal issues, sadly, meant I messed that up). Now it’s just me, and it’s increasingly dawning on me that there’s no reason not to do exactly what my (rather modest) heart desires…

Let’s see if I can  wrap my head round that notion.

Family

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I spent the weekend up in Norfolk, the convenient halfway meeting place for my family. My sister lives near Norwich and my parents have an envy-inducing 43′ static caravan near N. Walsingham. At least it’s envy-inducing for me, being actually bigger than either the Guildford flat or the Berlin one. Actually, that’s a joke – I am not at all prone to envy, or wanting big living spaces. But it is a nice caravan, proper furniture, not got the boat-style bench-sofa uncomfortable vibe that so many of them have. The site bosses are apparently as horribly money-grubbing as the worst of boatyard/marina owners, and “mooring fees” are always an issue. The club is nice though – great restaurant and outdoor swimming pool!

Family is family, and some things never change, good and bad. Had a great carryout Indian meal, saved Dad from Death by 2 bars of Sainsbury’s White Chocolate. After protesting I didn’t even like it, I scoffed it anyway, drinking tea and watching some Italian series called “Inspector Montalban” that they are into. Helped Dad with a few things on his 7″ Fonepad, and he loved the new mini keyboard I brought him as a pressie. His delighted surprise at it being wireless was great to see. I was worried when he first retired, but he seems to have hit his stride, and is lively and engaged with life. he worked so long and hard, it’s great to see him enjoy life a bit! Mum’s just mum, still bustling and neat and restless, nobody’s idea of a soft touch. We’ve never been close – think that comes from both sides. I respect her though, definitely, and both parents always seem to wish me well – in a very hands off way that suits my massive independent streak. I can’t imagine any sort of personal or relationship discussion with either of them, let’s put it that way, and the whole “Sex Drugs and Rock and Roll” thing – hey well, that wouldn’t be approved of. Definitely not.

I confessed my next (imminent) ambitious scheme to Dad, and left him to pass it on … Mum getting fresh air outside the door, earwigging and knowing something is up – no doubt exasperated by my ways, annoyed at being “left out”. Frankly, I just don’t want to have to repeat myself  – or be judged.

Sunday we had lunch as a family over at the club. VERY nice – despite a little friction between me and my sister (vegetables were just the excuse!). One of the tetchy days, I think. Never can tell why – usually we get a couple of days before that kicks in, but not this time. Nothing epic, just dominance tussling I suspect. I am more amused than anything because I frankly just don’t give a shit these days. But sis can carry it on one-sided… But hey, she’s still one of the few women that is in my mental league, and from a similar background, so that counts for a lot.

My nephew is now 18 months, tall, running about, got a few words and a pile of teeth. Dad loves little kids and is great with him – actually they all are. I don’t much join in (kids are not my thing in any way) but I’m still there, not left out, not being standoffish. Just another background person. Sis reckons he looks like pictures of me as a child (though I was never blonde). I dunno, I haven’t seen any for years. Maybe so, maybe so.

Drive back was horrible. Rain, traffic, Sunday Blues in full swing. It’s not leaving my family – I have no illusions that they are any sort of haven or solution – it’s just Sundays, journeys, and being out there alone with my atypical life.

Crash Boom Bang

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Rainbows over Camberley, the eternal promise of an industrial park – but it seems it’s not the Dunkin’ Donuts warehouse that’s the pot of gold… God is not so generous… Mr/s snail, making its hermaphrodite way to work of an autumn morning. Tunes scribbled in private notation to prevent loss during the inconvenient interruption of the working day. AC/DC meets L7 – gifted with a title, alas rhythmically incompatible …  My silly fireworks grin – or was it contemplation of the huge treats on offer? High on gunpowder and life. The Dangerous Dressing Gown – borrowed 25 years ago and still going strong… crazy. I forget and I don’t. Past woven into present, sometimes so mundanely, only in rare flashes do the connections shine.

Day of the Dead

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I spent Halloween itself checking out the new Guildford rock/ alt night “Sabotage” at Bar Mambo, on the town’s street of sin. Good venue, with a scruffy gothy glamour aided by a chandelier and very dim lighting. The night opened with a ever-rotating bunch of boys from the Metal Workshop playing classic metal – starting with “War Pigs” – well, they had me at that. Stars of the show were the Riddler-costumed bassist – playing all sorts of impressive stuff on the 5-string – whilst bopping and singing to himself (and looking about 14) and the Jack-Black-esque singer who did some great Metallica and Megadeth (Sweating Bullets – my fave!).  Stars of the audience were The Fellowship Of The Ring (or at least Gandalf, Aragorn, Merry and Pippin) headbanging away – with Legolas on stage…

Later it was DJ Alan playing some tunes – took a while for folks to get moving onto the dancefloor, but they got there. I got talking to an Irish girl with fabulous shoes and her boyfriend, and a chap whose stories were a little tall for my taste – I’m really quite alert and wary for that these days, amazing what one bad experience can do. But it was only conversation, watching the world go by… I left about midnight, long journey ahead combining with avoiding the really drunken vomiting-in-the-gutters stage of Friday night – it’s not much fun as a spectator sport. Not much fun as a participant sport, come to think of it, that one’s all about the pre-party…

All Souls Day saw me up at my friend’s in the Midlands, and it was great, felt very festive, baking, pumpkin carving (my Scottish vote for the traditional turnip [swede] fell on deaf ears) putting up decorations, catching up with her mum – who turned up with the “Happy Halloween” gel letters and yet more cakes! We were a rather smaller party than originally intended – illness had take out 4-5 people, but we were enough for some good conversation, Halloween mix CD on in the background – and for everyone to have a bed when the party wound down. :-) I had the best long journey yet on Sunday, at least in terms of lack of major traffic hassles, and I don’t recall having it too bad on the Sunday Journey Blues front either. Sunday hit me with avengance later on. They don’t have to be dead for you to grieve.