Tag: Stuff About Me

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.

My sleep schedule is breaking down again

(still keeping to the writing schedule though)

Last year, my sleep schedule was infamously shite, combining 36-hour periods of squinty-eyed waking with five-hour naps at like three in the afternoon because there are no easy life choices. This year I’ve been mostly exhausted, but until today I’ve at least been diurnal; now, however, it’s five in the evening and I’m going to bed for eight hours, so I can wake up for a seminar at ten tomorrow morning.

Sigh.

As ever, my busy schedule is an important factor, but not the critical one; I’m doing things, sure, but people have overburdened themselves with projects for as long as others have kept their schedules blank, so I’m hardly a trendsetter in having little down time. My problem is my inability to do anything in small quantities, or at half measures. I was burned out yesterday, so instead of having an afternoon off and doing some light work in the morning, I stayed up until three off the back of a 14-hour gaming marathon; similarly, right now, I’m hitting the hay so I can wake up early to publish an interview, translate some Old Icelandic, learn two verb tables and work on Game Shelf articles, all before breakfast. Whether it’s work or rest, I do things in big chunks, and with maximum effort.

Often, this is a good thing, as I work much faster and more efficiently than I used to, and when I relax I’m able to properly enjoy myself, instead of existing in that half-working, half-chilling, all-guilty combination of watching Persona 4 let’s plays on YouTube while making notes for a Middle English seminar. But these large, aggressive blocks of time do make scheduling my days difficult, as I’m moving a few huge jigsaw pieces around, instead of lots of little ones that can be manipulated and rearranged in a variety of patterns. My rigid scheduling of my life has only really broken down twice: my first term of university this time last year, and this last fortnight or so, both of which are one-offs: last year I was still getting used to the whole ‘living alone’ thing, and this year a series of unrelated but unfortunately timed poor decisions and deadlines have rather frakked with my head.

Whenever I run into this problem, or even think about it when I’m not trading logistical water, I wonder if the problem is that rigid approach to my time, rather than being a series of one-offs; and every time, I decide it’s the latter. I don’t stick to this way of applying myself to work because it’s easy, or because it’s what I’ve always done, but because I feel comfortable when I’m actually working the majority of the time. Looking at my timetable from a distance – on a Sunday afternoon as I assess the success of last week’s planning – it’s easy to spot these holes, and point out these flaws; but when I’m on Wednesday powering through some translation, two magazine articles and dodgeball training, I feel productive, satisfied, and that the resource that is my brain is being effectively deployed.

I might be wrong, but I think I’m doing fine, I just need to crash every few months or so; sadly, this crash takes place two seminars before reading week. So close.

Torn sleeves and painted nails

(indulging in my inner MCR Fangirl)

The other week, for Straight Edge Day, I scrawled crosses on the backs of my hands and tore the sleeves off my Minor Threat shirt with my old army knife, creating my most straight edgiest outfit. This week, I’ve painted my toenails and fingernails an impressively shiny tone of black, considering all the gubbins cost about ten quid and is all cruelty-free. But while I took a knife to a shirt with no qualms, the nail-painting has been a much more drawn-out process; I’ve been thinking of doing this for months now, and the first coats of varnish to my fingers and toes were all prefaced with about ten minutes of ‘should I really be doing this?’ playing on repeat in my head.

Objectively, of course, the two actions are identical; they’re both efforts to alter one’s appearance purely for cosmetic purposes, at the slight detriment to practicality; my Minor Threat top now leaves me with colder arms, and painting my nails leaves my hands and feet immobilised for a bit while the varnish dries.

The only difference is that one action is vaguely ‘masculine’, while the other is vaguely ‘feminine’, and once we realise this we can embark down the rabbit-hole of needlessly gendered pastimes to our hearts’ content.

I’m not particularly feminine in my habits, and I don’t identify as female; yet I don’t really consider myself ‘masculine’, as a lot of the showy, back-slapping extravagance that makes up generalised notions of ‘masculinity’ are weird to me. Most of my hobbies and preferences occupy a kind of middle ground, where I’m more open with my friends than most insular lads would be, but nowhere near affectionate enough to be considered feminine. This, and a host of other examples, has led me to behave, or at least try to behave, in more gender-neutral ways than a cis person might be expected to; my hobbies are writing, hanging out with my friends and wearing t-shirts, none of which are excessively gendered.

It’s worth noting, at this point, that the idea of gendered habits or clothes is inherently stupid, and this became apparent when I decided to paint my nails. I’ve been living a kind of ‘masculinity by default’, veering closer to masculine stereotypes than feminine ones because I’ve been raised in a society that teaches me to behave based on my genitals, and I honestly don’t care enough about superficial constructs of gender to rally against my slightly-masculine-but-pretty-neutral position. But painting my nails for purely aesthetic, not gendered reasons – I want my nails to look nice, but I don’t want to be more feminine – made me wonder if it’s ever possible, or even a good idea, to try to distance oneself from gender at all. Certainly for transgender people the idea of not identifying with their preferred gender may be a horrific one, while I couldn’t care less if I look like a man or a woman.

These feelings depend on the person, and for me, painting my nails was a much bigger stumbling block than tearing the sleeves off a top. The latter, while unusual, doesn’t active push against my gender identity, and so can be seen as a bit of random angsty edginess that is thoroughly masculine. Yet painted nails do push against this masculinity that I don’t really care for but see no reason to oppose, which led to a lot of doubts; if I don’t care about my gender, why am I thinking so much about opposing it? Would people see my nails as a move against this gender, or take them as intended, as indicative of purely aesthetic changes?

In the end, I’ve kinda sunk into apathy on the subject; not a rejection of this debate at all, but a rejection of the misunderstood conclusions drawn from it. I am male, and a man, identities I am comfortable with but not particularly attached to; I have a home-torn vest and black nails, because I think these things look cool.

It took longer to follow through with one of those plans, sure, but I’m really glad I did it; I don’t know why, but I love my nails. And for me, that’s enough.

This part sucks

(*drums fingers impatiently*)

I sent off my essay today; it’s technically due tomorrow at 11am but I’m not going to get much out of slaving away for another twelve straight hours, just for the sake of using all the available time. The essay is done.

This opens up a myriad of problems. It being ‘done’, in terms of the work I shall put in, means I can’t improve upon it on my own; the opportunity for me to take the lessons learned from my previous mistakes, and my understanding of texts, and collate them into a single document affirming my grasp of these things, has passed. It’s over. Dead. Essays – or meritocratic projects in general – distill one’s interest for an expertise in a subject into a single tangible thing; there’s an obvious practical reason here, but this doesn’t get around the problem that learning is fluid, while essays are fixed.

Having an essay due every other week imposes an artificial fortnightly set of milestones on my learning, that I’m improving as a reader and a writer every 14 days; in reality, however, I’m progressing or regressing every day, every hour, and every minute if I’m writing something at the time. And that disconnect, between endless self-improvement stop-start academic improvement, is never more pronounced than now, the painful no-man’s land of having completed an essay but not yet got feedback on it.

That lack of feedback is the other reason this no-man’s land sucks; every sentence written is a sentence imperfectly written, and so an opportunity to improve. But now there’s a cooldown period, as my manic passion for the subject relents as time passes between now and my writing of the thing; it’s only a short period, but I was really into Alfred and his Preface to Gregory’s Pastoral Care a few hours ago, and won’t be come Tuesday morning. This might be a failing of my own enthusiasm for my degree, but I think that it’s just hard in general to maintain a passionate interest in any one thing for a period of time.

Ultimately, I need to ease off when it comes to my writing and its improvement; I’ve known this for ages, but still can’t feel comfortable without a new deadline rearing its head or a list of mistakes and errors to improve upon. I’m constantly afraid of plateauing, or coasting, to the point that I’ve been more stressed now that my essay is handed in yet unmarked than any point when I was writing the damn thing. I love to work, and love to improve; these 36 hours are the only time I can do neither.

Crawling towards the finish line

(fuelled by vegan crisps and soya milk)

I have an essay due on Monday morning and it’s 99% done. Yesterday it was 98% done. The day before, about 94%. The day before that, more like 31%.

This is a pattern I’ve noticed over the last few essays, that as my workload dwindles, so does my motivation to do it. Today, all I had to do was a conclusion, critics and edit, and managed to tick off one of those things, knowing that I could spend all day Sunday plodding through the other two.

And I’m certainly motivated by large workloads; my gaming magazine The Game Shelf (which I’m so amazingly proud of and the people behind it) is going through a slight rough patch as one of our writers has lost literally all the free time in the world, and so can’t contribute for a few weeks. I’m taking over their slots, meaning my written workload – on that site at least – has doubled; but in spite of being exhausted, perilously busy and still a bit sick, I don’t want to do anything other than work on those pieces.

Even for this essay, I charged into its planning stage, reading eight or so books in two days to adequately prepare my mind for the task ahead; the annoying inevitability is that while my understanding is sound, I’ll get a shit mark because I’m devoting less time to the end of this process, the actual polishing of the essay.

Back in the day, I used to run at school. Not at a very high level, but well enough that I could point to ‘running’ as my particular athletic speciality; but my style was always to run hard at the start of races, power ahead of my rivals then try to cling on until the finish line. And I’m doing that with my writing; like a child, I go through brief periods of great eagerness for projects, especially at their inception, but my motivation flags as these projects near completion. This is why I’ve been able to stick to open-ended, intentionally indefinite projects like this blog and The Game Shelf, while I’ve struggled completing more time-based activities, like NaNoWriMo.

 I guess I don’t like completing things; I like throwing myself into things that I’ll always be able to throw myself into, plugging away at projects for the satisfaction of doing, as opposed for the satisfaction of having done. This might end up hamstringing any attempts to write finished novels in my future, but for the time being I’m crawling towards the finish line, with an eye always on the endless horizon.

Help, I can’t stop thinking about tupperware

(it’s not the right time to be sober, ‘coz now the tupperware is taking over)

I never really got tupperware before. I didn’t see the need to fill a fridge with small plastic tubs when tin foil would do the trick; I didn’t know why kids would lug sandwiches around in those unwieldy plastic boxes, that didn’t even get smaller as you ate their contents. Tupperware was weird to me.

But then I tried using some tupperware, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m thinking about what I can put in my various Russian Doll-stacked boxes next; I get uneasy when there’s not a hoard of boxed leftovers in the fridge because it means the storage space is going to waste; I’m incorporating them into my evening bag-packing routine, just in front of the folders, snugly alongside the water bottle and beneath the BG kit; I’m even starting to plan meals around what could easily be tupperwared and eaten cold the next day. It’s terrifying.

I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I’m making actual food these days. From my accidentally over-shared lasagne the other week to mash with vegetables to standard stir fries, all of these things can be eaten half now, and half later. This has massively cut down on the size of my meals, and is letting me eat two or three regular-sized meals a day, rather than one heart attack-inducing gorge-fest a day – and still have food for days. I’m also taking my diet more seriously; I’m committed to this vegan thing, but also to the myriad of sporting and logistical responsibilities I have at the moment, and to keep all of these intact I need to be thinking about what I’m eating more carefully. The existence of tupperware in my life means I can eat decent things at regular intervals, rather than bailing and settling for the one vegetable samosa Costa serve every other day. It’s even cheaper too, as my (admittedly eye-watering) one-off investment of nine quid into some tupperware has cut the number of overpriced coffee shop sandwiches and snacks.

Basically I’ve been converted to the cult of tupperware. And no, I don’t care that it’s taking up all my flatmates’ fridge space.

The One Lovely Blog award

(I don’t really do ‘lovely’. ‘Spiky’ is more my thing)

This fine personage has nominated me for an award I didn’t even know existed – a measure of my inattentiveness towards my fellow bloggers of late – so let’s get to answering the questions and jumping through the hoops, so we can all put off writing real content for another day by slipping into the false security of a cut-and-paste post structure that exists entirely to satisfy our own egos.

Thank the person who nominated you

Thanks for the support, asshole.

Add the award logo

I’m gonna follow Odd’s lead here and say nah.

List seven facts about yourself

  1. I prefer soya milk to almond milk
  2. I’ve never broken a bone in my body
  3. I’m starting to reject the idea of gender identity being one of two fixed binaries
  4. I pee sitting down (not necessarily related to the previous point)
  5. I’ve not read anyone else’s blog posts in about three weeks
  6. I accidentally posted regular updates of me making a lasagne from scratch on my Facebook feed the other day. I tried to keep it all on Twitter, but I made a terrible mistake.
  7. There aren’t seven facts.
  8. That last fact is now true.
  9. The following fact is not.
  10. There are eleven facts.
  11. The ninth fact is now untrue.

Sayonara.