2014: Yearly Review

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Contrary to what you may have read on my Twitter or even this blog, this year had been one of the shitter ones of my life. A lot of friends have passed away this year, one of my siblings had a cancerous tumour removed, a lot of friends lost their jobs and had to move due to finances, I myself am still unable to find gainful employment, had to move out of my bedsit, had my bank account frozen, my phone cut off and debt collectors after me. With nothing on the horizon for 2015 I confess it all looks rather bleak.

However…

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I couldn’t be happier.

I turned 30 this year and frankly, in and of myself, I’ve never felt this good. I know a lot of you think that might be hilarious given what a grumpy son of a bitch I am but I have improved whether it is perceptible on the outside or not. More than anything else I’ve realised what I want to do with my life this year and realised how little certain things matter. Its amazing how liberating it is not caring what a lot of people think and realising its important to do what makes you happy. I had a rough time at school and never had many friends, was never popular or accepted but in the last year I feel totally different. I made more friends than I ever thought I could and they showed me a generosity I truly did not deserve. In case you hadn’t heard, my friends on the Vine app bought me flights to the USA to meet them all and I had the time of my life.

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I also, as ever, am reminded what a great family I have. Without them I really wouldn’t be here today and I am eternally grateful I was lucky enough to be born into this group of weirdos. As irritating as they all are I love them all dearly and being able to spend more time with them now after 7 years in another part of the country has been wonderful.

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Its all pretty hard to put into words so I won’t try but 2014 had little to offer in practical terms, took a lot away in fact, but personally it has made me more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been. Part of that was realising what my actual problems were so I could fix them and, again, I figured a lot of that out while in America. I realised I actually have a real issue with spending time in company of people even when I really want to be there. After a long weekend I realised I had depleted any social reserves I had and ended up having to walk out on a group of friends to be alone and cry. That was educational in that I now know my limits and that I’m not just being “shy” or “reserved” it’s a genuine problem and I’m trying to fix that. Even if its just me being able to have a better store of social energy.

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I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions and have stopped trying to preempt a year by saying “it’s gonna be great” or “its gonna be awful”, it will be what it will be. The best I can hope for is that I can keep the wonderful friendships I have made this year and keep improving myself and stay as happy as I am. Its strange to finally be the person you’ve wanted to be for so long and wonderful to realise you have so many people to inspire you to do that. Its all very abstract and personal so I won’t go on about it or I’ll start sounding like a self-help book or a crappy tumblr post. In short: despite my life being in the pits right now, I’m actually really rather happy. I think its mainly a change in priorities; people not things. Armed with this I feel a lot stronger and more able to face the New Year.

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I don’t have much more to report but thank you all for your help this year. I’m so proud to call you all my friends. I feel like a new man and its your fault. Its amazing how far a little kindness will go. Happy New Year and here’s to 2015.

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“Give Me A Reason. Please.”

The title of this post is a line from that classic of cinema, the Lost in Space film from 1998. Joey from Friends pulls a gun on Beethoven after he tries to do something dastardly and says those immortal words. I am metaphorically holding a gun to 2014’s head and saying the same thing.

Last year, it must be said, sucked. Overall it felt like a waste of bloody time so I’m determined to make something out of this one. I did accomplish some stuff: Read 50 books, got a poem accepted by Penguin, wrote a novel and a poetry collection; but more generally accepted ‘normal’, everyday stuff people have like: a job, money, regular meals, a permanent abode, a partner, romance, an active social life, remained elusive. Or non-existent in many cases. If I’m honest the best thing that came out of last year was the discovery of an app on my phone called Vine. I wrote a post about it in the summer but since then things advanced quite rapidly. I have three new best friends I talk to everyday because of it. The ONLY date I have been on in over two years was because of it (don’t get excited, it didn’t end well). I found a whole community and made some other great friendships and real, true-blue artists with some wonderful talent have encouraged me no end. Sadly they almost ALL live in North America. Like anything, particularly social media, its what you put in that you get out and Britain has most certainly NOT caught on to the wonders of Vine yet as we seem to lack the outgoing spirit required to show off for 6 measly seconds. And to be honest, I’m glad. I’ve been living something of a double life on there for the last seven months and it has been a breath of fresh air to get the “anything goes”, carefree ebullience of the American/Canadian way of thinking. Sadly it has its crappier side, like anything inhabited by humans, but unlike Twitter I restricted my intake and was rewarded for only following a small amount of people whom I actually liked. There is a growing British contingent but by and large they’re (for me) not that interesting/funny yet, a broader community will help but that’s a way off for the time being. Whatever, Christiana, Paulette and Ryan are three of my favourite people in the world right now and have been the most attentive and wonderfully kind friends anyone could want, whether they live in Massachusetts or not. I love those ladies. And I love Vine for introducing me to them and the other gaggle of friends I now have.

My novel is all but finished in its final draft form, it merely requires another full read through to spot any screw ups and we’re done. I’ve also cobbled together the best of the poems I’ve been writing over the last couple of years into a full collection (as opposed to a pamphlet) which is also pretty much done. This means, hopefully I can spend this year touting them around. I’m not holding my breath – keeping expectations low these days is the only thing that’s keeping my head above water – but at least I have ‘product’ to sell that I believe is good and finished to a submittable level which is more than I can say for other projects I’ve embarked on in the past. Last year showed me that writing is what I enjoy the most and what I am best at and that it is what I should be trying to do with my life so having these things “in the bag”, as it were, to send out is a considerable boon.

Instead of cramming books this year I’ve decided to give a few “BoxSets” a go, or at least watch a lot of TV shows online. On the list is: Series 4 and 5 of Breaking Bad, The Wire, Dexter, Mad Men, Broadchurch and basically the whole of 30 Rock (I know I know I know, I don’t watch TV). This doesn’t mean I won’t be reading this year, oh contraire, I have a little list planned. I shall endeavour to read some of the ‘Big Uns’ this year. As I read so many last year and only just managed my task I thought I might try my hand at the bigger, longer books. I am not going to be reading War & Peace or Clarissa because frankly I want to do something other than read this year but I am going to relent to pressure from various sources and give the impenetrable sack of words that is James Joyce’s ‘Ulysees’ a go. Numerous people have insisted I read it, especially if I want to ‘do’ poetry, so am relenting. I’m told the best way to go about it is to “dip in and out” and if its good enough for Marilyn Monroe its good enough for me. I really enjoyed The Dead last year so figure I might as well. Another task is to actually read the whole of Homer’s original Odyssey as opposed to skimming and finding the best bits like last time. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is on the list too for reasons that I shall elaborate on further throughout the year. A long held desire has been to read the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo as I’m a fan of classical ripping yarn as I discovered last year so that’s on the list too. JK Rowling and her alter-ego’s books are also TBR for this year. Frankly I think that’s enough to be getting on with for now so I shall let you know how all that comes along as and when and my thoughts on them when/if I finish them. I may not finish Ulysees this year to be honest as I have read passages before and felt my eyes begin to curdle but never let it be said I shy from a challenge.

Beyond that my real ambition this year is not to be such a lonely sad-sack. I refuse to spend another year in its entirety, single. I am bored of being alone and tired of having not even had more than one date in two years. I have no idea how I’m going to go about this as all the things people REPEATEDLY tell me I should do I have been doing: I’m constantly out gigging and DJing in various bars and clubs (i.e. getting “out there” as is so often stated), I let friends introduce me to people, I try online websites (subscriptions fees limit the usefulness of this) and yes that includes Vine, I’ve gone from timid wall flower to just flat out asking women out, yet all to no avail so frankly society you can keep your “tried and tested” means to yourself. There seems to be no end of advice people who aren’t single have for you as a single person and frankly its all been twaddle thus far. I think the real reason I have remained single is that I don’t drink. That’s a major drawback when flirting/having no confidence. Either way I’m not a hideous troll, I’m not unkind or crass and nor am I an idiot so I think I deserve some sort of romantic entanglement. Christ knows I’ve earned it.

I’ve updated this here site as you might be able to tell too and will hopefully be posting more now I have my computer back and the internet. Thanks to those of you who have stuck around to read my ramblings, its nice to see the traffic figures continue to maintain a steady readership even if its not that many of you. In the meantime, Happy New Year and if we could try to maybe be a little nicer to everyone and stop killing each other or screwing each other over for financial gain, that’d be great. Thanks.

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Time is Ever Present

This is going to be one of those dull ‘update’ posts. Sorry.

So the last few months have been pretty mental: Gigging every week, poetry club, pamphlet launches, various extended nights out, house parties, stag parties, weddings, etc. Since quitting my job in August, it’s been pretty non-stop and I can’t complain, it’s certainly been a good laugh but I am currently writing this amongst piles of tat and boxes whilst taking a break in packing. Yes, due to not having a job for four months, strangely enough my impoverished state has caught up with me so I am having to move into my friend’s spare room till I get my shit together.

I am unhappy about this for a multitude of reasons but the chief among them is I hate mooching off people and yet I always seem to end up doing it through my own idiotic whims. As such I am resolved to remain in this situation for as little a time as possible. I need a job and my own place again and soon. I need to stop being a fucking dinosaur.

Therefore I am being strict with myself and halting the various distractions I have overly indulged in of late so I can put myself in the position that forces me to get a job and so on. So: No more nights out, no more gigs (unless they’re paid (unlikely)), no eating out or takeaways, saying no and sticking to it when people ask me out for meals etc, no “treats” like gallery tickets, cinema trips, books, music, computer games, etc and DEFINITELY less Twitter. Twitter is incredibly useful but is a constant distraction when you’re stuck indoors on your own. I am also allowing myself the two hours of poetry club on a Thursday as this is constructive and less of a frivolity but no drinks after anymore. In short this is because I actually can afford none of these things and can’t let people pay for them for me but also because I need to grow up and stop trying to live like a teenager, I didn’t like being a teenager the first time round. This sadly means (as I slowly approach 30) I need to hunker down with another 9 to 5 and a smaller, probably shared, flat so I can focus on writing and actually make a proper stab at that. Christmas is around the corner too so I need to save what little money I can for that too.

Hopefully there will be some sort of turnaround soon and I can get things back to normal in the new year. Would like to say thanks to all my pals up here for making being unemployed a lot more enjoyable and strangely productive but, as they say, all good things…

Have a good December everyone and I’ll see y’all in the new year. If I don’t do a post before then have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.