Sunday, 23 September 2007

Just a thought


These precious illusions in my head did not let me down when I was defenceless, and parting with them is like parting with an imaginary best friend.

Maybe I'm not as great as I think I am. Maybe I don't hide it as well as I think I do.

And maybe I'm ok with that.

Late night ramblings of a broad and pointless nature

What kind of week it has been.

I have about five things I'd like to write about and between them they cover the full range of emotion.

There's something so soulless about London. So many hurt people in such a small area. Me included. But there's so much hope and humanity too. So much life. Like everyone's overcompensating for something.

I became an uncle on tuesday. I reckon I might actually be able to remember September 11th as a birthday. Corrinne Catriona Shiell. A new life, fully formed. So much hope in one small bundle that really enjoys sleeping, apparently.

I'll be a good uncle I think. I want to be a good uncle. The slighty crazy one would suit me fine, but I can't help measuring her potential against mine and I think I fail.

For instance, last night I ended up kissing an old friend. I don't regret it, far from it, but I think we both knew it was just an opportunity to enjoy for a second or two.

It got me thinking, though, about cycles. I seem to run in periods of abstinence combined with acting based upon... Well, that's complicated. Alcohol is involved certainly. Physical, Emotional and Mental attraction is there too. But generally, with rare exceptions, it's much more the need for physical closeness. A need to be needed/wanted/liked.

I'm also just using them to bolster my own inate frailties, but then I think part of the attraction is just that they're using me. Sometimes it's nice to not be a person. To just be a piece of meat. Or at least to be able to create that illusion for yourself.

Needless to say I don't consider this to be a good thing. Not only is it feeding their own issues, it's not actially helping my own. All I'm doing is prolonging how long it takes before I start dating again by convincing myself that I'm still in the game. But I'm not, and with a few exceptions - two that spring to mind - I never have been.

I find women to be wonderful and magical people. There's a way of looking at the world that is both alien and natural to me. There's a range of thought that is completely different to men, that's challenging and compelling. Except every so often I treat one like... I don't know.

It's not bad or nasty. It's certainly not malicious. I always try to be honest about who I am and I certainly do my best to face what I've done.

The only common link between all your failed relationships is you. The only difference between your failed relationships and a successful one is the other people. So is it that there's something wrong with the people I'm attracted to, or is there something wrong with me?

I became an uncle this week. I plan on being a good one. I know that I can easily hide my problems because I've been doing it for years. It's what I do. I'm pretty good at hiding them from myself. But should I? Am I being unfair to Corrinne (well, everyone) by pretending to be someone else, by showing her (them) that you should always put a happy face on things?

There's no right answer. There never is. That's the whole point. If everything was wonderful then everything would be wonderful and wouldn't it be crap.

There are so many things I want to say about this week. But the main ones are that I became an uncle and I really need to sort my head out. One's brand new and special, the other one's been with me forever. In fact I think I've probably been waiting for the two to happen for about the same amount of time. Ten, fifteen years or so.

It really has been some kind of week.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Normal lunacy

I don't like this week's hotel and I'm not sure why. Well, that's not true, I can point to a hundred little things all of which add up to why: the hoards of tourists blocking the lobby (no I'm not a tourist anymore) the lack of work surface space around the sink, power to the room involving putting the room card in a slot by the door, the list goes on. And on.

The thing is that two months ago I would have been quite happy with this hotel. For the price in Central London it's amazing. At least it is if you don't know that for £20 more how much better you could get.

I know the difference is due to having lived in four different hotels in the past six weeks. I'm used to a certain level of hotel now, at least during the week. I hope I still am my normal self on weekends, actually paying attention to the price and reacting to it, rather than the type of hotel I'm used to.

However it's got me thinking about the norm. This is probably particularly relevant to me right now since I'm right in the middle of not being in my norm. Slap bang in the middle. Last weekend was my parent's Ruby anniversary in Edinburgh, next weekend is Mike's Stag do. Which basically means if I'm really lucky in three weeks I'll be lucky if I spend four nights in the flat, so really my chances of living to my norm is slim.

The norm. What we expect of life. I've had numerous conversations with friends over the years about how you never do the toursity things in the place you live in until someone visits. I remember deliberately doing Clifford's Tower in York because I knew if I didn't do it then I never would. I never did do York Minster's Nave or Tower.

The norm. The weird thing is we always aspire to not do the norm. We're constantly seeking something bigger and better. A new event or experience that we can enjoy. The idea of Go-karting, or paint-balling, mountain-boarding or bungee jumping. A Tango class. Anything that's new, different and exciting. Chasing the high.

Yet the norm is what we do every day. It's what gets us through the day. The week, the month, the year. If a change is as good as a break, then surely the norm is a bad thing?

Well no obviously not, otherwise we wouldn't do it It's comfortable, relaxing. Yet I wonder about the changes. We start conversations with "What's new?". The interesting stories are about differences. New relationships, new jobs, new activities, holidays, babies and the like.

But that's no way to live a life, something new every day. There'd be no fixed point, nothing to revolve around. In short it's the mix of ordinary and extraordinary that drives us.

I've been vaguely flipping into and out of Channel 4's Dumped for instance. If you're not aware of it, it's a reality TV show about a group of people living on a landfill for a few weeks. If they last then they share in a prize fund. I wonder how many of them are staying only because they know they can get back to their norm soon. I wonder what they'd do if they had to live there long term.

One of the guys was complaining because he didn't feel like he was learning anything. It was the same day that the group had built a toilet from junk. He felt like he hadn't learnt a thing. It was mind-boggling. I was sat there thinking about my waste, trying to work out if there was any way I could turn it to my advantage (probably, if I could be bothered) and he was complaining because he hadn't learnt anything from building a toilet.

The norm. I guess we take it for granted and hate it when we have to break from it. We yearn for the safety and security of the everyday, and wish for the chance to escape it.

So maybe I should come back to this hotel, learn to see it for what it is and appreciate that. Push myself out of my current norm to a new level of adversity (ok it's not adversity, more tension). Give myself a little shake to see what comes loose.

Or maybe I should go somewhere I want to be. Return to my norm and pretend I know better. We'll see.

Cancelled flights and Decisions

I'm supposed to be on a flight up to Edinburgh for my parents Ruby anniversary. Unfortunately my flight has been delayed by about an hour and a half until 10:25am. I suppose it's good in some ways, since it means I didn't take the view that I could stay up later, but to be honest I could have really used the lie-in.

Between this working in London during the week and a stag do next weekend it's really limiting my ability to find somewhere to live in London, which is annoying because it limits what I can start doing there. After all I don't really want to start something on one side of the city if I end up living on the other.

I've decided upon three basic things that I want to do:
1) Learn to drive, because it's really starting to get ridiculous now.
2) Start either Tai Chi or Capoeira, because I've always wanted to do them and if I don't start sooner then I won't start later.
3) Learn to play guitar. Dad used to play amazingly well and I'd kind of like to be able to do that.

You'll also note that between the three of them they manage to cover creative, physical andn sprirtual areas. I think I might need to throw in something mental/emotional, but then work covers mental and this journal covers emotional so I guess I've got my bases covered.

I guess learning to drive again should also be considered to be emotional considering my history, but it doesn't feel like it somehow. That in turn feels like a wound that doesn't hurt so I'm very tempted to poke it a bit, just to see what happens.

I think I'll resist though.


I'm still stuck on creativity. I know that the ultimate end here is that I start doing something more creative, but I'm confused as to why I want to and, probably more importantly, why I stopped.

There's a simple joy to creating, a relaxing and purposeful movement of mind and body. Like most things in this world it takes some time to fall into that groove, but once you're there you can shut the doors on the world, lock it all off and just exist. It gives space andn time to truly think about things, to lose yourself in your mind and thus to reath new and sometimes startling conclusions.

Yet as much as it's internal it's also very much external. The drive and inspiration comes from somewhere, something or someone else. Boredom, a random comment, a sight that moves you, all of these things and many more can combine to create an idea that requires more thought and some expression in the wider world.

Concepts of eternity, viewpoints on life, ludicrous thoughts and deep emotions can all combine to create this impetus, this drive, and although it can be focused and honed I'm not convinced it can be controlled.

However, if art is an imitation of life then surely it can be... prompted is the wrong word, but it's the best I can manage right now. The chances of inspiration can be increased.

Creativity itself inspires this. The act of creating, of exploring an idea, leads to new ideas which in turn lead to more creativity. It can be a twist on an old piece or a wholly new one, neither better nor worse, only different. But sometimes better. Or worse.

Is this what happened? Did I stop creating because I stopped creating? Did I lose the impetus to think in the right manner somehow until I could no longer mentally put the ideas in place? Could no longer translate a thought into expression?

Maybe it's more subtle than that. I think I've always taken a medium to it's logical conclusion (to me at least) before moving onto the next. It's not at all that I become a master of it (or even good) simply that I achieve all I can achieve through it. I learn a lesson and move on.

Yet now I find I have no continual medium. Nothing I do to move me forward. Maybe my medium changed. At university I think it all became about groups of people. My art was how they thought and acted. How they worked.

Put like that it seems coldly calculated, hugely maniputlative. I hasten to add it wasn't. It was, well managerial I guess. The action of getting a group of people to effectively achieve the goals that they set before them. This occured both in Nightline and as SU Training Officer, and I don't think it's going too far to say it took over my life.

Once I left university those groups of people disappeared. That chance and ability to effect a bigger audience disappeared and that avenue of creativity, which had become my only avenue and ingrained into who I was dried up.

In direct response to the amount of effort it had taken I decided to be boring for a while. To kick back and chill out. Four years later and I'm still doing that. I'm still not being in charge, well apart from the flat I guess.

Hopefully learning to play guitar will help me get back in that mode of thought. But the more I think about it, the more I write, the more I realise that even that is transitory in its own way. Writing a song can be moving, but it has no physical form. Nothing you can touch and feel and move about. It is simply playing to the extrovert and gives me a limited ability to go back to it and see it anew.

Basically I need to start painting again.