Day #141 - Fronteir Psychiatrist

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 13:40

I'm noticing a lot lately. I'm noticing that I am far from 'as emotionally strong as I thought I was'. I'm noticing my idea of poetry doesn't conform to my ideal of poetry. I'm noticing couples more and more, and feeling horrid about it all, in a Helter-Skelter kind of way - I climb to the top, I slide back down, repeat to fade. It's not a very good start to a year where I thought that shaving my head and getting fitter would be enough of a culture shock to make me stop pining for the things I miss. Seems not.

I've had a few realisations over the last 48 hours or so:

  • I am not the nicest of people. I really am quite a bastard, for want of a better word. Actually em trobo malament lately about the way I treated my mate's girlfriend. He probably won't read thi, but, there we go; it's out there. I am actually feeling crummy about it.
  • I read a blog belonging to a girl I've pretty much lost touch with. We had a moment of brief passion over a year ago, and then drifted away from each other. She never really entered back into my life, but, she's still on my Facebook friends list. At one point, I thought I could have loved her. Now, on reading her blog I find out that she's spent the last few months on the verge of the abyss, as it were, staring down as it stared back. And it hit me. I'm not one who's afraid of death; in fact, my only absurd fear (beyond Moths) is to die alone... back to the point ... I'm not one who's afraid of death, but, the thought of her almost dying actually broke some of the concrete off my Grinch's heart. Maybe I care?
  • My grasp for languages is slowly going out the window as everyone I talk to, even the languages students, insist on using English. I wrote down donchisciottesco on Facebook last night, with a pronunciation guide...but could I figure out how to say it? No. I'm sure I wrote "Don-key-schee-o-tesco" before I checked my Paravia and found it to be "Don-key-shot-tesco". Lovely grasp of the not-so-phonetic alphabet right there. On top of that, I've looked at my pile of work, and the chances of it diminishing before Monday are slim to none. I am procrastinating like a fool.
  • Every day I stand in the shower and go through the same routine. I stare in the mirror, pulling down my eyelids and inspecting myself. I hop in, think the water is tepid, don't change the temperature, scrub down, and go through the same thought process: "Why aren't I over her?" "Do I genuinely still love her?" "It's been two months; surely I'd be over her by now?" "Why doesn't she talk to me?" "Is she enjoying her time without me?" "Does she feel like this every morning when she wakes up?" "Will I actually make it through my Year Abroad without going stir-crazy thing about her?" - two months, four days, and I'm still going nuts over my break-up. So nuts, I end up staying up til 3am thinking it over, sleeping til 8, then starting my day again feeling like this.
    It's really not on, but I don't even think there's any other way for me to tackle it. After my dream yesterday, I went for a walk; a nice half-hour trek around the streets, wandering, head down, listening to Sneaker Pimps. I felt content with the world and the beauty in it, as I walked down old side-streets, and over railway bridges. Then I got home, I ate some cake; I had no complaints. Today, I wake up, and the pangs start again. That boy needs therapy, said The Avalanches, and I think they were right.


Day #140 - Present of Future Past

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 19 January 2010 at 13:02

It's rare I use a blog as a journal, what with the possibilities of it being read all over the internet. I mean, I can rant and rave here, and post my Word of the Day no trouble, because my opinions aren't that important, and everyone should have the option to look at words in other languages; but, posting about Dreams, is a new one for me, sort of.

I awoke today, late, at 12, instead of my planned hour of 8am sharp. It was one of those moments, which didn't really work out as planned, but I'll make up for lost time, I suppose. The problem wasn't getting up late, or getting 10 hours sleep, it was the fact that I dreamt about my ex-girlfriend.

It started out fine, running through a tunnel, and she was walking in the opposite direction, back to my house. She said "Hey." I answered "No." I assumed this was to do with my trying to get over her (in fact, I assumed it in the dream, rather than out of it).
After a momentary argument with a man on a coastal path similar to one featured in Final Fantasy X, I end up back in my house, which was like a cross between my actual home, and the room I'm renting out now.  From then on, it was just a game of cat and mouse; I'd try to avoid her, she'd be trying to make me fall for her again.
In short, the dream went on for ages like that, until I said, "I'm going for a shower". I did my usual routine - put some clothes on the radiator, walked away for a second, and then returned to find the clothes gone, and hers in their place.
I turned to find her semi-clothed, sitting in a cupboard, beckoning me. I went for the bait; my brother turned up, so I had to distract him, make her go elsewhere, so she swapped to the bathroom, and he was distracted. But, then she changed her disposition totally, and got fed up, and decided she was going to leave because I didn't like her or some such excuse....and so I spent the rest of my dream going "Don't go...don't go...I do...just don't go..."

And then I woke up, with the worst feeling in the world. How lame.

I really think, "dear Diary", that I shouldn't be like this two months after a break-up. I should be over her; enjoying my life; not thinking about her whenever the opportunity arises. I shouldn't be so down-in-the-dumps. And what's worse, I can't talk it out with her, because she never seems to walk to talk - it's like all of a sudden, everything we had has gone all Book of Job on us, and turned to pillars of salt.

What would Jesus do?

Day #135 - A Letter To My Younger Self

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Thursday, 14 January 2010 at 13:44

Dear Alex,

Keep your eyes open.

Dive at every chance you're given. Don't be a fool and think you're better than everything; or that everything is out of your grasp. Don't work to your potential, let your potential work for you. Remember what you will be told Age 16 - "The World is your Oyster". Remember that. Cherish it, because it's the only advice that will matter in your life.

Don't give up on books. Don't lose your love for them. Don't tire of their effortless, boundless wisdom. They are the be-all and end-all of humankind, and without them, you'd be left with nothing. Pick them up, caress them, feel their pages, read them. Grow.

Don't be a hopeless romantic. When love comes your way, and it will, work on it. Don't just think because it's in your hands that it's there forever. It's like oil; precious, but slippery. You'll find love, and it'll drive you mad if you lose it. Just don't go hunting everywhere for it, because in the end it'll find you - just enjoy yourself up to that point.

Remember that music is the voice of people who need to be heard. Don't just shut out one genre because you think it's not cool to listen to it. Expand your horizons, open your mind; be worldly. Listen to the sonatas, the swing musicians, the slam poets; some with a message, some without. Just listen more.

And finally, don't expect to get everything. Unless you put the work in, everything will slip away from you. So, it's your choice - work until you're driven insane; or lose out on certain things. Find the happy medium, because that's the only way to live life to the full.

Just open your eyes to everything around you.



Inspired by To My Younger Self by =KneelingGlory on DeviantART.

Day #134 - Voglio Viaggare Per Il Mondo

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 16:17

Today was exam day. I'd spent no time revising for it, really. I knew enough to bullshit my way through it, in the hope that my Italian was better than my knowledge of the books we had to discuss. Either way, that's not what I'm going to write about because that would be boring. Instead, I had the best experience ever.

I've already said about audiobooks and listening to them non-stop and so on so forth, but, I've found one better. The half-hour route from where I live in Cathays to the All Nations Centre in Whitchurch is perhaps a million times prettier than the walk from Talybont halls to Cathays, or even the walk from Cathays into town. It's beautiful, in a strange way - maybe it's because I've never seen it before. I mean, I did think City Road at night was really quite nice; and the same for Crwys Road, when it hits The George and Varsity at the top end of Richmond Road/Albany Road.

Anyhow, it's a walk I'd recommend to any student who is bored out of their mind with the constant walk between Talybont and Cathays, or thinks they've seen all Cardiff has to offer.

I wish I'd had my camera, to be touristy and uber-lame. Once you hit the top of Cathays Terrace and end up out on the junction between Crwys and Whitchurch roads, there are two choices really - either go straight on, following Fairoak Road along the border of Cathays Cemetery, and the outcome here is that you end up in Roath Park, a place I've yet to visit.
The other option is to take a left at the crossroads, and follow the road past Maindy Barracks, Allensbank Road, and along the little 'shopping district' that has sprung up along Whitchurch Road. It's really something I've not given much thought to before, when driving in, but, walking along it in the cold listening to King Lear there and Paradise Lost on the way back was one of the more surreal-and-beautiful things I've done in my life so far.

Obviously, that's nothing noteworthy. Still, I figured I'd record it for posterity. That, and the fact that the South Wales Echo believes that Wales will have glaciers by 2050 (I'm guessing because of the snow we've had for the last week...); and Ron Jeremy has decried the internet for ruining the Porno industry. What the frack like? Is everyone becoming a bit of a fool? Or am I reading things wrong lately?

On that odd note, I'm going to settle into my new-found freedom and wonder where I can explore in Cardiff next.

Day #133 - Monsignor Quixote Rides Again

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 11 January 2010 at 13:43

Today I should be revising. I should be in a state of panic. I should, if I were at all worried about my education, be poring through the dictionary looking up words I don't understand, but, ciononostante I'm doing very little. In fact, I'm listening to a man from Florida reading Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, his dulcet tones echoing through my headphones and bringing some form of unexpected peace into my chaotic life.

Beside me sits an empty mug of what was once Earl Grey; to my left, piled on my bed are tomes of grammar - L'Italiano Più Corretto, Upgrade Your Italian, A Comprehensive Catalan Grammar, Upgrade Your Spanish, Para Practicar Los Pasados, El Subjuntivo - and yet, instead of reading any of these, I'm just lazing around. I could look at Giuseppe Berto's Anonimo Veneziano in preparation for the upcoming exam, or I could look at my list of conjunctions. Forse I'm just a little bit cocky, a little bit too-sure of my ability or lack thereof. Chissà the ultimate result of not having a last bit of panicky revision?

I know my grammar - I know adjectival agreements, subjunctives, passives, imperatives, progressive and prospective phrases. I feel I know enough to get by, and as much as it's an exam that could spell disaster for me, I know how to bullshit in Italian (for want of a better word) so I can get by fairly well.

So, for the rest of the day, I'm going to enjoy listening to the best of the literary world as taken from OpenCulture's links to Librivox. If you're ever bored, it has everything you could want - from Chaucer and Dante, to Dickens and Dumas, to name but a few. What more could a procrastinator want from his week? To pass the exam, perhaps...

Day #131 - The Beautiful Young Crew

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 00:35

It's come to my attention that Celebrity Big Brother is fairly 'hot' in this house. Everyone seems to watch it. I caved yesterday and watched Jonas 'Basshunter' Altberg get locked into a room, to the sound of 'All I Ever Wanted', with Lady Sovereign, aka Sov.

The thing is though, I don't like Big Brother. It annoys me. It's a house full of mental people. It honestly is. The only difference this time is that the people are either mental or mental, and lacking in any real fame to warrant being called celebrities. I suppose it's a bit of false advertising saying 'Celebrity' Big Brother, when your biggest celebrity is Vinnie Jones, and at least two of the housemates are in there by virtue of who they have had relations with.

There's a saving grace though. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I enjoy watching it for Lady Sovereign. Is it wrong to watch such dull, uninteresting television for the hopes that something interesting will happen involving the cutest member of the house. Sure, there's Katya Ivanova who's your average indie cindy, and every time I see her I imagine my best friend drooling over her as she seems to fit into the 'pretty indescribable indie chick' mould.

Sov, though, is indescribably alluring to me. I don't know what it is. Either way, I plan on tuning in at least once a week, maybe more, just to catch a glimpse of her. It's just a shame that all the media has her branded as a lesbian. Not that I care; I'm never going to meet her to profess my strange attraction to her. So, I suppose it's for the best.

Day #130 - Unfinished Sympathy

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 8 January 2010 at 16:11

Yesterday, it was widely announced by every media outlet under the sun that Jonathon Ross, or Wossy as he is known affectionately on Twitter, has finally reached the end of his time with the BBC, with the Director General apparently refusing to sign him back up. A bit of a silly decision, if you ask me.

It's obviously a good move for Mr Ross, who can go on and expand his career and live his life beyond the confines of BBC Radio Two, Film 20_ , and Friday Night With... , all of which have brought him considerable fame in the years he's been doing them. His slip-up with Russell Brand may have cost him dearly.

Admittedly, at first I thought he was a bit of a dick for the phonecalls, but, then it suddenly became apparent that it was just a little something that got out of hand. Ross and Brand aren't exactly known for being straight as arrows; Brand is an edgy comedian, and Ross is a...well...he's Jonathon Ross. It's sort-of tarnished his career, but only because the BBC chose to rein him in and make such a big deal out of it. (I suppose insulting a 'legendary actor' like Andrew Sachs is a bit of a big deal, but it's nothing an apology couldn't have ironed out).

This all made me wonder: Are we going backwards? We had that age of liberation, of freedom, in the 70s and 80s. There are always the idealised views of those decades. Every show that involves 'alternative' comedians and the 'alternative' scene always shows us that boundaries were being pushed and sensibilities were being tested. And we lived through it, and people shot to stardom because of it.

Nowadays, we're all too scared to speak our minds because it might not be P.C. to say something; it might offend someone else; it might be a pejorative or a put-down; it might be something absolutely hilarious, but a little taboo. All in all, we're basically erasing that boundary-pushing few years, and going back to an era where one dare not speak out of turn. It's times like this, I actually dread to think where we'll end up in the future.

Musically, we're declining back into the realms of soft-pop, content in the knowledge that there's nothing edgy out there to offend our sensibilities. Politically, we're content with centrists. Visually, we're happy with our inoffensive news readers and talk shows. Where's the buzz? Where's the pizzazz; the oomph; the shock value!? Honestly, if life keeps putting restraints on what is and isn't right, I think we're in for a pretty boring rest-of-our-lives.

Long live Jonathon Ross! Long live the moments where he was entertaining, and allowed to be so! Long live living on the edge; long live freedom of speech!

Day #129: Standstill

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:25

It's official. We can't cope with a bit of snow. There were a few centimetres (it doesn't even warrant being counted in inches to be fair) on Monday or Tuesday, and suddenly, the country came to a complete and utter stop.

I've had friends in University end up staying home because their lecturers can't go in, or their Uni is on top of a hill, or something silly like that. I've seen Amazon uk tell customers that everything will take twice as long to deliver. I've seen the weathermen and women on all the channels say how 'dangerous' it is to even consider going outside right now, as if there are Yetis in the snow somewhere. In essence, the country is just up for one big snow-day whenever the tiniest flake falls on the ground.

It's almost pathetic, you might say. The American news media are using the phrase crippled to describe our situation and I think I have to agree with them. Railways shut down entirely, motorways come to standstills, places of learning close, and the only thing to do is sit indoors watching reruns of Friends or Midsomer Murders. Where, oh where, is the sense of adventure - going to work and sliding all the way; cars revving intensely in the drifts. Gone!

I really think we should hijack some Scandinavian architects and engineers to tell us where we're going wrong with our country. Either that, or invest in some underfloor heating for this rundown little place...

Day #125: Money Can't Buy Me Love

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 3 January 2010 at 22:49

It's true what they say, that money can't buy you love and happiness, but, it can damned well fill the void. I've spent the day parting with my student loan, so I can have a few luxuries to help me get through my days this semester, and to help me keep my resolutions. Lovely, no?

So, aside from a new pair of trainers and an iPod clock, I've also invested in some sports gear, some new headphones, lots of ink for my printer, and plenty of things that are too fiddly and insignificant to warrant mentioning in a blog post. What I should have bought though, and refuse to buy, is something to keep me warm in this ice-house. It's -2°C outside right now, according to my wonderful Ubuntu weather app, and I guess it's about 5°C in here now, even with all the radiators on full, and the heating turned up. I think when it goes off, I'm going to die of pneumonia in my sleep.

If I don't live through the long, cold night, I have to say I died happy...ish.

Day #123: Beginning of the End

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 1 January 2010 at 15:11

Finally, we reach the end of the 'noughties', and what do I have to show for it? I was going to exit the decade in the same old fashion, being the same old me, with the same old outlook and same old appearance; boring, boring, boring. Instead, I took up my dad's clippers, while the family were out for the day, and shaved my hair off. New Year, new me.

Next up, after passing the nadir that was midnight, I came against the wondrous realisation that I had no resolutions; I had genuinely not sat down and thought of a single thing I could do to enforce the new me, and stop me spiralling back into boredom. I suppose that was a bad start; consider it like tripping over the welcome mat on your way out the door - it was going so well, up to that point.

Inevitably, I sat down, and I thought and pondered, and I reached the verdict that I would stick by resolutions that weren't impossible (like spending less, and cutting back on alcohol). In the end, I came up with this list:

  1. Make the most of your days - as of January 4th, no more sleeping in til ungodly hours and staying up until the crack of dawn. Be adult, be sensible. Up at 7, work to your potential, bed at 10.30 (unless something riveting is on the telly, in which case, bed straight after it).
  2. Actually learn to play bass. Stop messing around with "Oh, I can read tabs", and doing shoddy covers, and actually learn to play the instrument you set out to learn!
  3. Be healthy. For pity's sake, put aside some time to exercise; change your diet a bit; make an effort for once!
  4. Actually read more! Look outside your subject - read philosophy, history, literature, newspapers, whatever! Just read, for crying out loud!
  5. Learn basic Portuguese. You've sat down with it on your laptop for a while, so, get to it. It can't be that hard, can it?

And that was it. Nothing about saving money, nothing about alcohol, nothing of any value beyond self-improvement, mentally, physically, and who knows, maybe spiritually.

It's easily achievable, if one puts in the effort. And the first effort will be to buy an alarm clock that is actually going to wake me up so I can make the most of my days! From there, things should flow a little more easily. Let's get off to a good start in this decade, eh? No more messing about; time for a change of pace.