Lingering…

I want to punch something. Simply for my satisfaction, let me punch,  kick, bite something.

Hate and fury devour like the flames of Greek fire. They will never go out. The exterior might appear jovial and even friendly,  but they linger like a bad smell.  Under the surface, they linger. Behind brown eyes, the flames leap high;  it is just so easy to hide when you are having fun.

And then it stops. The laughter fades and the smiles flicker, and once again,  the lingering loathing resurfaces. Hatred of the world,  of the light,  of the self.

Someone speaks and it retreats,  relinquishing its authority temporarily.  Quick as a lizard’s tongue it darts in and out, allowing me to speak and conceal in one moment. It returns with the silence, with the stillness of thought, in the dead of night, and in the early morning.

Loathing of the deepest, strongest kind – loathing of the very air I breathe,  the sights I see, and most of all,  the thoughts I think.

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The lost children

Sitting in a cafe, with my no-longer-hot hot chocolate, pondering the meaning of life, and – in the immortal words of Bobby Darin – “all that otha motha jazz”. Wearing quite a few layers (I count two so far; the other two are still drying on the back on my chair), and fingerless gloves to keep my writing tools warm. It’s not easy to type with these things on. No credit for not trying, though, seeing as you wouldn’t be reading this if I didn’t put it here. Of course, you might avoid reading it anyhow, but if I didn’t make the effort to tiptap it away on my keyboard, you wouldn’t be the wiser, would you?

Anyhow, not exactly glamourous, is it? Life, I mean – not my current state of affairs.  We all try to figure out its meaning and some revel in the delightful “enlightened’ statement of there being no meaning, which doesn’t really offer much the conversation. Of course, while it is a valid opinion or whatever saying there is no meaning doesn’t really tell us anything. it’s like someone asking your opinion on an artwork and your response being:

“I like it.”

“Why do you like it?”

And here, instead of any long-winded explanation and pompous jargon about the nature of art and life, you simply say: “Because I like it.”

Personally, I suspect we assign meaning to life and to actions rather than it carrying an inherent meaning. Even so, why is it important to chain ourselves to meaning? After all, looking at it from a logical point of view, we can do whatever we please – our agency is our own –  but the fact that an action could mean or signify something seems to terrify us.

Example? To kill someone (I’m by no means encouraging you to do this – this is a thought experiment EXAMPLE). On a day to day basis, killing someone usually is associated with a certain “type” of person, a certain absence of morality, a certain alignment of ideals or even perversions. And yet, somehow soldiers are exempt from this idea. Of course, there are a bunch of psychological consequences that go with war, such as post-traumatic stress and all that, but when you get down to it, isn’t it part of what you sign up for? A soldier killing someone in the throes of battle might be given medals of honour (of course, these won’t help with the psychological side-effects), but someone killing someone just because they can i.e. the person we would call a murderer, they pay for their actions. So… it’s ok to kill because the other person has a gun? Or because you are paid for it?

This is not to say the soldiers are at fault; it is easy to blame them for this, but I think the problem doesn’t lie with the people who execute the orders, although they do so with their own agency. I simply find it a little bizarre that we place so much value on human life, but then create situations and circumstances where that value is poured down the drain.

Of course, another problem is the fact that we identify certain actions as “bad” and others as “good”. When you are a child, if you are caught stealing – even if it is the simplest thing, like taking a cookie from the cookie jar when you are “not allowed” – you are told it is wrong. Sure, stealing is wrong in certain situations, but why is it anyone associated with this act is demonized?

About a year ago, a man stole my phone from me while I was texting. I tried to take it back, we wrestled for about 10 seconds, he headbutted me to the ground, and he ran off. I tell this story to people, and most people’s response is “what an asshole” or “you got it back, right?”. The fellow sold the phone off within minutes, but to be fair, it is just a phone. If he sold it for drugs, he suddenly becomes this villain; but if he stole it and sold it off to feed his family, he’d be hailed as a family man, no?

After all, unemployment is rife in the UK – I can’t speak for the situation worldwide, but I don’t think it’s too different – and the economical system has proven it is more inhumane than we thought it was. Wanting to separate the unemployed or a specific group of people from the rest of the cogs in the ‘machine’ is pretty easy to do – just have an economic crisis and those who are unable to fend for themselves will be filtered out, because they will be the ones who need the benefits and the state help that you are cutting off.

Being unemployed sucks, but mainly because it means you have to rely on someone else for money and survival. It also sucks because it means you get to be portrayed as this immensely lazy genitalia-scratching (apologies) person who sits about doing nothing all day. And somehow that equates to having no purpose. I seem to remember someone – either my parents or my cousin or whoever – telling me that my job doesn’t reflect who I am (more recently, I think Red Bastard did this), and that I am allowed to have ‘hobbies’ and a life outside work. Ultimately, however, the waywardly unemployed are considered to be either unlucky, lazy, or lost in a sea of purposeless matter.

So here’s a message for all you do-gooders with jobs out there: We are not the lost children. Work is  not our only purpose, and it doesn’t have to be for you either – if you want a purpose, of course. I’m not entirely sure I want a purpose in the first place; it narrows down the perspective and the experience of life in the same way an extreme obsession can. I am not lost, lazy, or unlucky. I am me, and “me” is a wolf with a keyboard and an internet connection.

It ain’t so bad…

My great idea about becoming a writer and writing almost every day has been thwarted by my wrist acting up. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

In other news, I’ve undergone a recent self-makeover which involved buying two new blazers, a shirt, and a new suit, whose colour I still can’t describe. Ah, pretty suits… Wait, what was the phrase from that series…? “We’re not lawyers, we’re gladiators in suits”. That would be a great job description to have on your CV. The quote is from Scandal, if I’m not mistaken.

Unfortunately I must step away from the laptop now, but I will be back. I simply felt it was necessary to point out everything is more or less fine (not that any of you were worried 😛 ).

 

Open letter to Macmillan charity: Cancer doesn’t discriminate, why should you?

Dear sir or madam,

I must confess this is not really a blatant, angry complaint, but rather an observation that frustrated me quite a great deal. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in D’nisi’s cafe in the Shawlands. If I’m not mistaken, it was a Friday, and the cafe had balloons and posters with your charity logo on them, as they were donating a fraction of the money made that day to your charity.

While I understand charities are often in competition with each other, and hence often have to ‘strike a chord’ through certain techniques in advertising and such, I am afraid the particular narrative you chose for the poster in the cafe that day was quite discriminatory. The emotional side of the blurb spoke of a father diagnosed with cancer who would have to leave his job for chemotherapy session, and hence had no way of “protecting them” or ensuring their wellbeing. As a human being, I understand that cancer – for anyone – is a terrifying experience, and having the support to ensure you can make it through that part of life is vital. However, in this case, I think that particular poster promotes discrimination.

Firstly, it isn’t just the employed who face cancer. Also, even if they do, they might have more security than your blurb affords them, since those with reasonably stable employment and a steady wage can often opt into insurance schemes through their company. Of course, not all people with stable employment have this, but it can be said that certainly, such an option isn’t really available for those with a lesser income – or no income.  The ones with no financial security will no doubt have slimmer chances with cancer, usually because they slip through the cracks more easily.

What’s more, the ad in question speaks of the father providing for his family, and losing that “protection” when he is taken ill. Cancer is no laughing matter, but neither is sexism. In the 21st century, in 2013, with women having the right to work (in the UK at least), it isn’t impossible that the father is the only one “bringing home the bacon”, so to speak. It’s very likely, in this modern age, that the man’s wife has a career as well, although, due to the ‘glass ceiling’ for women’s salaries and the pay gap that we often forget to discuss, she might not be earning as much as him. Nonetheless, she would very likely be earning enough to contribute significantly to the family budget. The picture your blurb paints drags us back to the 1950s.

Additionally, does the tragedy of a family patriarch with his family to support him outweigh that of a single parent – male, female, or otherwise defined – or an unemployed person? It isn’t up to you or me to define whose tragedy is more important, but I think we can safely say that the latter groups might be more stigmatised and more likely to need a larger degree of support. That’s not to say a person with cancer and a family, and steady employment doesn’t need that support, but they might have more of a cushion than the unemployed or the single parent who has been working two jobs – or more – to provide for their child or children – or someone with a disability who is also diagnosed with cancer.

Admittedly, perhaps the main problem is that personal stories of this kind have become food for marketing departments, to sensationalise and lure people with money into donating. Turning them into sales material can lead to many people seeing them as money-hoarders who don’t really need the money, but who are seen to be taking advantage of the system. Cancer is a terrible thing, and the brave souls battling it need support. But the last thing they need is to be “sold” like that. Even if a blurb is fictional, the constraints, the issues it raises and the images it might inspire probably last much longer and might be more effective than the donation itself. People on benefits have been demonised in a similar way, but it is important for you yourselves not to discriminate among those who need your help.

I hope you consider these issues carefully. Thank you for reading.

Regards,

E.K.

 

Just not impressed

Being  unemployed is frustrating. I daresay it’s equally as frustrating as being “stuck” in the wrong job. Then again, I suppose in the latter case, it’s just a case of earning a specific amount of money every month, repressing a deluded desire for job satisfaction and just “getting on with it”.

I don’t know. Back when my mother was at work (she’s retired now), she hated her job and reminded us of it every day. Admittedly, I think it was more her colleagues who made her sick to her stomach rather than her job, but it didn’t make her any less grumpy or depressed.

Methinks job satisfaction is important to the human beans.  After all, isn’t that what Hollywood films strive for? In a film, when a person is in the “wrong job”, they somehow are magically discovered and find their “true calling”. Who’s to say Hollywood doesn’t reflect real life?

However, in the depths of an economic crisis, where even ethical legitimacy of a state comes under question (see: Greece), how on earth do you drag yourself out of the dreary (and apparently terrifying) masses of the unemployed? The longer you have no job, the more frustrated you get. I’ve been told you even start to resemble a vampire, what with the media’s assumption that all people who are unemployed magically turn into the bloodsuckers of the state.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, Crime and punishment at the Citz demonstrated what happens when you try to step outside the societal norms in difficult times, and follow your “animal” instinct; in this case, the little voice inside your head that says “that person has done me wrong and needs to be punished”.

Revenge can be a great incentive to do something.

Of course, while Dostoyevsky’s work is an interesting profile of a man who killed someone, it’s unclear what his motives are. He mentions his main character (whose name I unfortunately can’t spell) lives in terrible conditions – I think he might even have been described as a “destitute student” – but the way Chris Hannan’s theatrical adaptation was constructed, the crime doesn’t appear to be linked to his desperation.

Admittedly, as a wolf who is currently unemployed (or would that be underemployed?), I experience extremely strong flashes of anger and frustration. Then again, I am generally an angry individual. I might not walk around swearing at people, but anger is one of the strongest emotions I know how to feel.  I waste a great deal of time sitting in that mood, wanting to go out and do things, but very quickly deciding it might be better if I don’t. I’m particularly talented at discouraging myself from doing things once I get very excited about them.

Either way, the demonization of the unemployed can have its basis in reality, but it seems to be lovingly taken too far. Being unemployed does not mean I walk around with a knife in my back pocket, or sitting at the edge of the street waiting for someone wealthy-looking to take ’em down and steal their wallet. Being unemployed – in my case – means I sit here, looking for jobs, writing a lot, glaring at people who approach me, and yearning for another cup of coffee every once in a while.

But overall, I’m just not impressed with myself, or with the way the system works. Sending out 10 CVs a day doesn’t seem to make a difference. Really not impressed. That’s why I write; I step outside the system for the duration of the writing. And the system is no wiser.

The asshole zone

It’s quite an amazing moment when you discover you’re not as amazing as you thought you were. I guess I’ve always had run-ins with reality, and the realisation that I’m not able to do the breadth and scale of what I imagine, but I guess I almost always thought I was pretty decent. Aside from the occasional moment or week of self-loathing, I was pretty confident I wasn’t all bad.

I seem to remember that people tell you that, as you grow, you will find yourself making more and more compromises regarding your vision of the world. Of course, what you are not told – at least, from my experience, as I can only speak from my perspective – is that you begin to realise you’re about as much of an asshole as you thought everyone else was up to that point. Of course, not everyone has this view of the world. What’s more, your friends will often tell you that you are a perfectly loveable character, and that it is usually other people’s fault for any “dickish” behaviour, since that’s what they bring out in you.

Excuses are all very well, but somehow nobody wants to deal with the reality of knowing they might be an asshole. I experience this myself quite often; a large part of me just wants to surrender to the frustration and anger that then feed the foul behaviour that involves me snapping and snarling at people. It is quite frightening to think “I might be an asshole”, “I might be the villain in this story rather than the hero”.

 

Of course, like Hesse’s Haller in Steppenwolf, I realise that one person cannot be split into just two parts. There is a myriad of reactions and responses and behaviours that can’t be attributed or come under a simple binary division of the self. Nonetheless, the division is useful for analysis of the separate behaviours displayed.

At the moment, I am still floating in the asshole zone. Sometimes it does feel good to be able to say “fuck you”. Sometimes, however, as most often in my case, it’s hard to identify why I slip into these behaviours, especially towards specific people. Is this my natural state, I wonder?

When I just feel like striking out physically, but never do, is it then a “logical” consequence that I end up being verbally aggressive?

Never at the person who is to blame, of course.

Tracking down the causality of these things is never easy, and all too often, I attribute it to the idea that this is just how I function. Perhaps it’s the human thing of wanting a straightforward answer – just one or two things that I can fix. But I don’t know if I can fix anything. I get frustrated, I get angry, and there it is again, grinding my soul against the whetstone of reality, and then I want to growl and bite and shout and kick and get into a fight.

After all, can’t it be said that society teaches us that anger is “bad” yet somehow we are expected to get angry when we have to (i.e. to claim what we think is rightfully ours)?

It’s full of bullshit contradictions, isn’t it?

I guess the best thing I can hope for is to at least be a consistent asshole. But thus far, I haven’t even managed to do that.

Thoughts in the early morning

[A lil’ something something I wrote when I came in at 8 a.m. this morning.]

Days like this one make me wish I was a smoker or a drinker. At least, there would be some relief from the tension and the “immense” disappointment I seem to cause. It’s a perfectly sunny day – you know the kind; birds are chirping and sun is shining but not too hot, overflowing with a sense of peace. Not necessarily peace and quiet, but some bizarre sense of inner serenity, allowing my thoughts to exist in their little bubble without being broken by my “dreary” existence.

Admittedly, I know it’s not that dreary at all, but rather I just experience it that way – maybe because I’m not the most positive person on the planet.

Today wasn’t dreary at all… well, not this morning anyhow.

Today I woke up in someone else’s bed and had to dash out and come up with an excuse for my “abhorrent behaviour towards your parents” who were “worried sick” about me.  So here I am. I drifted in like a ghost (or some shit like that), took the expected argument, and then just sat here, inhabiting the space in my silence.

I wish I could smoke it away – not the memories of last night, but just the tension that seems to develop around my absence and presence. If I am here, it’s “the right thing” to do, but then, I’m still left with the rest of the day to argue about my “irresponsible” life decisions and my “ridiculous” lifestyle. If I’m not here, I am expected to turn up sometime soon, look sheepish, say “I’m sorry I didn’t call or text” and then somehow shoulder the blame for the entire situation anyhow. On this occasion, I ran out of credit and I was out, enjoying myself.

Then again, it’s not really about the blame, is it? I’m 24, going on 25. They insist I “grow up” and be a “mature, responsible human being” but still treat me like I’m a teenager who’s just learnt how to drive and can’t be trusted with new wheels., and who is targeting my bad behaviour at my parents because I can.

I wish I could smoke or drink. Drinking too much would probably give me a headache – even before the hangover. Smoking…well, I’ve never tried it but don’t seem to be drawn to it, anyhow. I guess having watched my parents avoid the doctors’ advice about smoking and all that stuff didn’t really attract me to it.

Part of me wants to sleep, but it seems futile – I’ll be reminded throughout the day of how selfish I am for trying to follow my ‘natural’ instinct (whatever that is), instead of being the obedient kid in the family. I don’t think anyone could claim my life is completely lawless or an endless orgy.

 

First, I get the “where have you been? Couldn’t you drop us a text or a phone call?” angry treatment; then followed by trying to be my chums and find out all about my night. Sometimes I wonder whether they are just trying to confuse the hell out of me.

I don’t know.

The first thing I did was sit down and write, because somehow that makes it all “ok”. I’ve been writing since 2001. It all began with fiction (online roleplay to be exact) and I eventually moved into review writing and blogging. I guess, as an only child, writing gave me somebody to talk to. Of course, it’s kind of impossible to “bounce ideas off” a piece of paper, but blogs are powerful. People can connect across the internet. I don’t really know what I’d do without my writing – it’s given me so much.  I always feel the need to keep it under wraps. Still, I don’t think my family see it as me being “artistic” or “creative”.  I guess I never let them get it – this conversation between the page and me has never really been open for judgement. But then, I guess I don’t write this for anyone except myself. Who needs therapy when you have a blog to rant to?