I’m sorry, this blog is no more.

(this is my last bold-faced, bracketed subheading)

Sorry for the silence.

I won’t go into detail here because this blog is now dead. It’ll remain online for people to check up on that Geographical Pickup Lines post, but there won’t be anything new here.

Instead, I’d encourage you to check out my new blog, with its own fancy domain!

Hope you see you there,

Casey

See you in a month

(I don’t always take a break, but when I do…)

Long story short I can’t be doing this blog at the moment. I’m not doing so well currently, and am basically in the process of stripping down my life and rebuilding it somewhat from scratch. And if I’m gonna do a cold reboot of my life, I don’t want something like this blog bridging the gap, stopping me from moving on from my old, shitty way of doing things to a newer, less shitty method.

So I’ll see you again at the start of December.

There was a loser on the bus, and it was me

(sounds like a sony lyric from shit band)

I have this little category called ‘local celebrities’ on this site, where I hyperbolise and romanticise the odd behaviour of strangers I see for comedic effect. But this evening the tables were turned, as I started behaving like a oddball, to the extent that I seriously thought of writing about myself in that style.

I was eating raw mushrooms out of a glass mixing bowl on the bus, and felt great about it.

There is a story behind this – a rather boring one, as the preludes to interesting things often are – but I don’t really think it’s relevant. While I don’t seriously consider myself superior to the strangers I mock gently, my ‘local celebrity’ posts have often had a bit of sneering high-horsery about them, as I poke fun at people for doing things the way they want to. Perhaps it’s the public setting, which provides filters and censors to the odd behaviour of most people, and the breaking-down of these veneered taboos is in some way inherently comedic, or at least interesting; but perhaps I’m just a prick.

Either way, I’d like to conclude that I’ll be less mean to other people, for violating both my arbitrary definition of ‘correct’ behaviour, and society’s equally arbitrary definition of ‘proper’ behaviour; but I doubt I will. I’m nothing if not a self-aware arsehole.

And that’s pissed off people in the past – that I’m aware of my more communal flaws but will do nothing to fix them – but I’m very comfortable being a self-aware arsehole. Until I start to upset or drive away the people closest to me, I’ll probably never change that.

Guess I’m a loser whether I’m on a bus or not.

Finalists!

(well, I’m a finalist by proxy)

I’m tapping this out on a train because we’re worming back from a dodgeball tournament at Hatfield. And while my men’s team burned out in the quarter-finals, both of the freshers’ teams won games, and our women’s team were beaten finalists. Finalists! And most of the team were freshers!

Obviously I’m mostly happy for my friends and fellow dodgelings, but I’m also glad for myself as I am a narcissist; being in the cauldron of a high-level sporting game, screeching at players and clinging to swiftly-dying hope, is such a buzz. Sure, you can get that at big sporting events, but the prices and cold professionalism of everything make it all a bit sterile, and artificial. But these were my friends succeeding, struggling, and falling just short of dodgeball immortality and it was so cool to be a largely unimportant, endlessly Tweeting part of it.

And for those of you interested, my live-tweeting of the day can be found @UCLUDodgeball

Spelling numbers

(the kids aren’t alright)

As I spend a lot of my time with kids, I’m exposed to Kiddish – the garbled, innocent language of the recently-literate – quite a lot. And while the majority of Kiddish is inane garbage, I was treated to one marvellous concept today; a kid asked me how to write a five-digit number, by did so by asking ‘how do you spell it?’

At first I was confused, as this child has failed to understand that numbers and letters and fundamentally different things, and must be referred to with different language. Obviously!

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the kid had a point. From where they’re coming from, not yet brainwashed by our adult culture of arbitrary rigid lines, letters and numbers are one and the same, as scratches on a page used to indicate meaning. And that’s certainly true; whether you write ‘five’ or ‘5’, you’re still turning that written symbol to a verbal one, and beyond that an idea with a defined meaning.

Maybe the kid was on to something bigger; maybe we shouldn’t be dividing the mathematical and the written, particularly in schools and places of education. The world is how we perceive it, and if we can break down these barriers perhaps our image of the world may become more whole, and more beautiful.

Or maybe the kid was just a moron.

I need reading week

(much like I need oxygen or the excitable voice of Superjeenius as he plays Phoenix Wright blind)

I know that medics, lawyers and anyone doing a degree slightly more employable than a BTec in remedial knitting will take reading week as just another seven-day span of revision, stress and underappreciation that mirrors about 98% of adult employment, but for a special creative snowflake such as myself, I need this bloody week.

It’s not that I’ll be noticeably freer over these seven days; I visit uni less frequently than one uses Kanji as a party member in Persona 4. And my writing and society responsibilities aren’t going to bugger off into the either just because some administrative bigwig at UCL arbitrarily circled this upcoming stretch of days as ‘days off’. It’s just the concept of ‘no classes’ that sings to me, like a siren dragging me towards evenings of Football Manager, Doritos and sandwiching my feet under my desk between two pillows like giant monolithic slippers.

Often, I feel that stress only has an impact on your life if you define yourself as ‘stressed’. I’ve worked through the hell of A-levels, which is objectively the busiest few months of my life, but never felt strained or stretched as I didn’t think that I was getting stressed, only that I was getting work done. Similarly, hammering out a dozen articles a day can feel rather easy if I don’t think about the scale of work I have to do, and instead focus on that work. Without context, stress ceases to exist, as one’s to-do list becomes nothing more than a series of individual tasks.

Yet recently, I’ve had to contextualise my actions. Whenever I’m reading a piece in Old English, I’m aware that my work counts towards my degree, and immediately start questioning if this degree is worth the tear-inducing debt I’ve racked up to pay for it. When I write for The Game Shelf, I’m not just thinking about the article in question, but how that article feeds into the broader identity and appeal of the magazine, it being the project I’m most serious about pushing to a profitable state (at least on a part-time basis). As my life becomes more real life, it becomes harder to focus on tasks and distance them from their scary, stressy contexts, and panic and fatigue quickly sets in.

The best part, however, is that there isn’t really a solution as far as I can see. I can’t be oblivious to the broader consequences of my actions, because they’re more real than ever before; if I don’t take paying my bills seriously, I won’t have a home; and if I don’t take my degree seriously, I won’t have a job. I’m aware that I’m defining a lot of my future in the negative, but that’s just how responsibility makes you think. Instead of doing task for benefit y, you’re doing it to avoid consequence z. Equally, I’m not going to let off on any of my activities, because they’re all engaging and fun and I’d honestly struggle to justify dropping one instead of another based on arbitrary and subjective definitions of ‘usefulness’ (apart from my addiction to Persona 3; I’m pretty sure I’ll only get better grades if I cut down on that). So in the absence of an answer, I’ve stuck it out, to wait for a temporary reprieve from the madness and fear. This seems to be the default response for a lot of people my age, and until I graduate, and have time to consider my experience, qualifications, interests and dreams, that’ll have to do.

Of course, by then it’ll all be too late, and I’ll have to give up, become a secondary school English teacher and get a cat to keep me company.

Our front door is buggered

(I guess you could say it’s under door-ess. Ha)

Doors live a rather simple existence. They’re windows without the glass, walls without the rigidity, cloth flaps without the perennial fear of a desert beast bounding through them to devour their inhabitants. In fact, the only remarkable thing I knew about doors is that in Old Norse, the word for ‘door’ only exists as a plural noun, because all doors were the kind of grand, double-doors one would find at the entrances to mead-halls, and poorer dwellings would only have hurdles or curtains pulled over holes in the wall. But my door-themed small talk game was infinitely improved this week when our front door decided it had had enough of being a front door, and would very much like to be a wall instead.

The problem is that our door is fairly new, and is apparently not a very good fit for the frame that surrounds it. This wasn’t a problem when we moved in over summer, but as the temperature drops, the rain falls and the air becomes saturated with moisture the wooden door has absorbed some of that moisture, and has grown in size by a few imperceptible millimetres. The result is that the door is now permanently semi-wedged in its frame, and doesn’t really like opening, not without a Herculean latch-tugging effort every morning.

When me and my flatmates (technically one flatmate and their significant other but whatever) drag our arses up to the door for an Old English seminar held so early on a Tuesday morning that it might as well take place during the reign of King Alfred the Great, we are confronted by our door. First we reason with them, reminding them that they have lived as a door for all their lives, and seemed happy, and that if only they’d explain to us why this sudden change came about we could understand and accept them. We’d batter a hole in the wall and install a new door, letting the old one live fully as part of the wall, if only we knew more about this unexpected change. But we always hear nothing.

Then, we roll up our sleeves and begin an impromptu re-enactment of the classic Arthurian scene involving the removal of the sword from the stone; first the flatmate tries, failing because their strength stat is too low, then the significant other, failing too because they failed the agility roll, then me, succeeding because I’ve played this game before and have been relentlessly EV-training for weeks.

With the door opened, you’d expect this sorry narrative to smash into an abrupt conclusion; but I am not Chaucer, as my tale will have a satisfying conclusion. The other quirk about our door is that it has a hard lock; this is a particularly tough kind of lock, so strong that it can’t snap into place by itself, and requires the twisting of a key in its lock to shift the necessary tumblers, which sound like they weight about fifteen stone each. This means that when we leave in the morning, having rubbed our hands raw on the tiny latch trying to get the thing open, we then have to pull the door all the way back to its closed position, and fumble around with an awkward key-in-lock situation. And because we’re locking the door, we can’t just pull the door to and let it sit half-closed, bound in place by some hillbilly automatic lock; no, for this kind of impregnable security the door, which is too big for its frame remember, must be wedged back into its frame so we can operate the lock effectively. It’s worth pointing out that, like the latch on the inside, the outside is devoid of any handles or additions suited for moving the door back and forth; as a result, we play a game of ‘pull the door quickly then yank your hand back so your fingers don’t get caught in the door!’ every morning, and it’s already getting tedious.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that all these procedures and inconveniences are meant to make the door harder to force, and the house safer: heavy doors are harder to push if the lock isn’t fully opened, the hard lock exists to keep intruders out, and the lack of handles make the door difficult to operate unless you’re the inhabitants, and have gotten used to dealing with the bloody thing on a daily basis. But now, sometimes we don’t lock the door because it’s too much effort; we leave it pulled to, but not locked, because no-one can open it without a pneumatic drill and a week’s worth of anabolic steroids, and we can’t be bothered to dope up every evening in preparation. In making the door intruder-proof, the manufacturers have made it human-proof, unsuitable for use by breakers-in, tenants, and presumably the US Navy Seals.

So if you’re in the business of house-breaking, don’t try your luck at our place; you’ll just cut your hands on our stubborn, slightly splintered door.