Sunday, 4 June 2017

Let's talk about regrets

It’s been just under a month since I handed in my final university assignment and I have been in a somewhat…pensive mood, to say the least, since then. There is, for me anyway, a sense of reflection needed in such circumstances and because I am who I am, I tend to focus on the negatives, that is, on the regrets. Things I would have done differently, and the reasons why, and so, let’s get on with it.

Number 1: Journalism

In my first year of university, I was studying Journalism. In some ways, I wish that I hadn’t dropped it. Though in other ways…Well, there were a few reasons why I did and I’ve not really gone into them before but…fuck it, there were four main reasons. 1) I wasn’t good at shorthand. Entirely my own fault, I never practiced it. The fact is this, I’m lazy…lazy but intelligent…and that’s been enough to get by in pretty much every other aspect of life thus far experienced, but in such a practical aspect? It was essentially learning a new language and that’s something a person simply can’t ‘fake’, or perform innately. Funnily enough, it was actually acknowledging my failure at shorthand that has made me into a decent student of Japanese, so, at least there’s that. 2) One of my tutors told a story about how they had, when being a newly hired journalist way back when, been forced to remove a story about the dangerous practices of a local business because said business had an advertising contract with the paper. A contract which would be terminated if the story came to light, and so taking with it the money they brought to the paper. I remember listening to this story and the tutor explaining it away as a necessary evil of the business, and you know, I could understand it…but it did dishearten me. Journalism was supposed to be about informing the public but this, this was just advertising, which leads me to 3) Stories are just advertisements. Not all of them, of course not, but the majority? I look back at the stories I submitted for my final module, tate gallery exhibits, beatles auctions, local council saying ‘we’re great us, ignore the mess’, it wasn’t informative in the sense of it being things people need to know, it was advertising. It was placating nonsense, adverts disguised as news. And as for reason number four….I thought someone else was going to be there. That she wasn’t was heartbreaking, at the time, but it worked out for her so I’m not too down on that point. I was crushed though, at the time I mean, but (plays the self loathing card) it probably worked out for the best. I hope, right? Anyway, it did make the whole year harder to get through.

Number 2: Creative writing

I want to preface this, I really, really, really fucking enjoyed creative writing. Most of it anyway, there were a few parts I disliked, (I swear, if I have to hear how ‘great’ Chekhov’s short stories are ever again, it’ll be too soon) but overall, it was good.

Having said that, however, the marking system is ass. Subjective…subjects…..are always going to be difficult to assess, but the ‘system’ used in creative writing was ill-defined at best and deliberately obtuse at worst. I wrote a story which the other people in my class loved. They loved it so much they showed it to other students, ones not even on the writing course, and they loved it. It, apparently, was good enough to cause nightmares in one student and prevent them from sleeping after they’d read it and, despite that, they re-read it again and again. The story got a mark of 62. What I’m getting at here is not so much that 62 is a poor mark, or that my work was a masterpiece which terrified people, what I’m getting at is that if my work had been marked by the students….I’d have received a much, much higher mark. And not because they’re colleagues or peers or whatever, but because it was a story much more in tune with that audience. My regret, essentially, is that I didn’t drop Creative Writing and focus entirely on English because even though that subject is also quite subjective, it isn’t nearly so as much as Creative Writing is. I’m pretty much nailed on for a 2:1, had I dropped Creative Writing, I’m certain I would be looking at a comfortable First.

Number 3: Friends (or lack thereof)

A little over a year ago now, I stopped being friends with a group of people I’d known since school. It wasn’t that anything dramatic happened, there was no fight, no big fallout or argument or whatever…In fact, that was the issue, I was lowkey pissed off with how static the relationships were. Not every day has to be this huge deal, every day at Disneyland or whatever would turn sour pretty fast I would imagine, but by the same token, doing the same boring thing every meet up….sit around in a dirty house, barely talk, play videogames, watch movies, go home. Every weekend. The same thing. For over a decade. My regret here is twofold. On the one hand, I wish I could have actually got these people to do something. I tried, you know, to get them out to play sports, to go the cinema, restaurants, football matches, and it’d work for like three, maybe four weekends and then…back to routine. I should, perhaps have tried harder. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t have tried at all. The fact of it was that a few years back (actually, longer now….jeez, like, 7-8 years ago…), I actually had a group of friends who were basically all that and I slowly removed myself from that group to make the other group more like….them….Jesus, I knew I’d done something stupid, but actually spelling it out like this just makes it even more….and then there was another group who were also better…and I didn’t hang with them because of the first group I mentioned….Goddamn it all, I change this regret, this regret is now about how late I was in kicking them to the kerb. I should have done it years ago whilst I still had the other groups instead of tying myself to that rock.

Number 4: Japanese

This one is a faux regret. I don’t regret my ongoing lessons in Japanese, I don’t regret my goal to get work in Japan and hopefully live there for many years, what I regret is my trip to Tokyo last year. Not because it was a terrible trip, or that it didn’t live up to my expectations, no, it was the complete opposite. It was the best trip. It shattered expectations. My fear was that thing where, have you ever been really looking forward to something, maybe a holiday or an event, or hell, even something like Christmas, and you hype it up and hype it up and then it arrives and it’s good, yeah, but not as good as you’d hoped…and so you deflate a little bit, and you get increasingly miffed because it’s just not exactly what you expected? You know, spoilt brat syndrome (I kid, I jest, it’s not limited to just spoilt brats….petulant princesses get it as well). Japan wasn’t like that. I hyped it up and hyped it up and hyped it up and it met that hype. Met it and demolished it. My regret was ever having to leave. For a few month after the journey, I was just wandering around in what was essentially a fugue state. Not really doing anything. I legitimately thought, at one point, so apathetic and listless I was, that maybe I’d contracted some disease over there, maybe eaten something I shouldn’t have and was now at the mercy of a parasitic mind-worm with a penchant for gloomy moping, but it wasn’t the case at all. I was homesick for a place that wasn’t home. And, I still feel that way. I want to get back there, any way I can. So, I regret my trip to Tokyo because had I not gone, I would never have known just how brilliant a place it is and I wouldn’t be longing for it so much.   

Anyway, I think this is a good place to start wrapping up, because, by the time I’m finished, this piece is going to be over 1500 words, could I do a number five? Sure. Of course I could, there are literally hundreds of things I regret, thousands even, and that’s just in the last year or so, let alone any time period before that, so, I think it’s best to keep it to just four. Actually, there is one last thing. Today, June 4th, is my birthday. I got a card and a cake from my mother, and a card from my sister (both cards had a little money inside), but other than that, it’s just been a normal day. This is not a plea for remembrance, or a chastisement for forgetting/not knowing/caring, I’m vain but I’m not that vain and besides, I know that this bed is one I made myself. I guess there is a fifth regret in this piece. I regret not being able to talk to people. I just naturally assume that if people aren’t talking to me that they don’t want to be talking to me at all and so I don’t, generally, impose myself upon people.

Anyway, if you’ve read all that, thanks for reading. If not, well, doesn’t really matter what I type here then, does it. I hope you non-readers, the ones who saw it, sighed and moved on because hey, Terence is talking shite again, I hope you drown in your own snot. Not the readers though, you guys and gals are cool, may you all acquire cool hats that actually compliment your appearance. (This is actually a really thoughtful wish, have you seen it when people wear cool hats that don’t suit them? They look like right pillocks, don’t they. You won’t though, not anymore, thanks to my wishfulfilment. That’s right, I put those two words together, gaze upon it’s magnificence! GAZE UPON IT! Anyway….bye.)     

Monday, 1 May 2017

Sometimes, a title is just a title

I don't know what to say. It's an odd thing, being me. Now, you probably don't know what that is exactly like, (unless....could I be like John Malkovich in that movie, Being John Malkovich, with some kind of portal that allows people to experience the 'thrill' of being me....I put the word 'thrill' in quotation marks to assert some level of dubiousness....I have, after all, spent at least half an hour today just staring at the ceiling...not drunk, or on drugs, or anything like that, though, maybe i should be....but this aside is getting way ahead of itself, and is also running on way too long, so I'm going to close the parentheses now) so, let me give you a close approximation by giving you some ingredients. Cliché, I know, but that is the way of things. First, take a big ol' bag of....actually, I'm not going to do that, let me tell you something, two things, as a matter of fact.

Firstly, I couldn't leave the house the other day. Secondly, it was the first time that this has been the case in a good, seven, eight years. See, physically, I'm well and capable, I have no injuries, no physical maladies, no deformities, no injuries or the like. There was no physical obstruction, either. That is, there was nothing blocking the doors or windows, no bomb, or bomb warning, in the street, no barricades to stop the flesh eating zombie hordes from busting in and devouring me and mine and spreading the plague even further. No, it was a regular sunny day, the afternoon actually, a little after half six, and I wanted to go to the shops. I wanted some Pepsi. Pepsi Max to be specific (the 'X' makes it sound cool). I couldn't leave the house. I stood there, coat-jacket in hand, and I couldn't move. I was literally petrified. Panic attacks are not new to me, they're something I've dealt with my entire life. The constriction in the chest, the hollowness in the head, the rawness of the signals coming from the eyeballs, the feeling as though the room is suddenly much smaller than it was....I read somewhere that they're actually a flaw in the fight or flight response system, that it's the brain fucking up and recognising a source of discomfort, or an event, or whatever, as being eminently more dangerous than it is, and going full hog, jacking up the adrenal glands, cutting out all extraneous information but what's directly in front and surrounding areas, and just generally, you know, preparing for a fight, or a flight. Of course, the problem is, whilst we humans are animals, we're also so cognizant, so very, very self-aware, and so that primal response designed as a emergency button has us dumb chimps looking at the flashing buttons, listening to the wailing sirens, the klaxons, and asking 'why' and not moving.

Don't worry, it only lasted ten, maybe fifteen minutes, and then I was able to move again and I got my pepsi (max), and there was much rejoicing throughout the land, huzzah! However, the panic attack is not the actually bad thing. See, those hit you over the head with their arrival. There's no subtleness to one, it's BAM! IN YOUR FUCKING FACE! The real problem is the other thing, the thing I mentioned in parentheses at the start. Staring at the ceiling. I've been doing a pretty indecent amount of that lately. Staring at the ceiling. Doing nothing, in other words. And it's not that I don't have things to do, I do. I've not yet technically finished university (I still have one assignment to go...and if I'm being honest, there's probably going to be a deferral on one module....I may go into the reasons, the whys and wherefores on that one, but it won't be here, save that for another day) and there is, of course, the issue of post-grad study/employment, and then there's other more frivolous stuff, like video games and books (and boy, oh boy, should you see my shrine to consumerism, it's fab!), let it never be said that I do not have activities to do. In fact, I would never say it. Still, I lay on my bed, and I stare at the ceiling, and I do nothing. Actually, that's a lie. I think. Of course I do. Horrible, spiteful thoughts. No, that's not quite the right word, spite is something one inflicts on others, I don't know what it is, what I do to myself. It's late as I write this, it's something I have to write though, even though I can't quite think of the right words, I need to get out something at least approximate to them. I think about people. I'm lonely. Really, really, fucking lonely. Yet, I can't do shit about it. All I can do is sit in my room, and look at the ceiling. It's a nice ceiling, off-white, not quite cream, though maybe that's just the lighting, and the cobwebs festooning the thing making it look that way. Talk to them. There's a few cracks in the paint too, where the stresses of time, or maybe water, gods, I hope it's not water, are edging their way in. Organise something, a day out maybe? Is that a spider crawling along there? I don't think it is, I think it's just a shadow or something, see, where the cobweb is moving, it's a shadow. They'll say no. Why do they call it a ceiling anyway? Like, where that word come from. I mean, France, obviously, with the way that sounds it can't be anything other than from the Romantic languages. Why didn't you ask her? I wonder why that bit of skirting is missing? It exists to demarcate the boundary between wall and ceiling, so without it, where, in that particular section does the wall begin and the ceiling end there?

Day in, day out. Punctuated by.....see, I don't know what's the interruption in my life anymore. Is it the feeling of drawn out, apathetic malaise that is the norm and the everyday activities, reading, exercising, video-games, etc. that are the interruptions, or is it vice versa. I...think I'm done for now. This isn't helping nearly as much as I thought it would, which was already a pretty low estimate, in fact, it just made me realise how bereft I am of....people....fuck it, I'm out.