Thursday, 4 September 2014

In Case Of Emergency

'Can I just get your date of birth' the nurse asks in that common over concerned but inherently insincere soothing voice. I tell her and she makes a tick with a red pen on the chart which holds my personal details.

'Any heart defects or diabetes'

'Nope'

'Any other medications'

'No'

'...And who is your emergency contact'

'Ummmmmm'

It is not an unusual question really. You are asked this on job applications, doctors appointments, insurance documents. But it was a question asked at an unexpectedly vulnerable moment. Earlier that evening doubled over in pain and debating how I would get dressed and to the hospital I had a weak moment where I thought to myself 'All of this would be easier if I had a boyfriend'. In fact that had come up several times since I had gotten ill. 

Statements like 'you need to be supervised for 24 hours' or 'is there anyone at home who can look after you?', would floor me like bullets. I would think to myself that I was pathetic because at 27 I wasn't enough of a well rounded adult to have someone at home who loves me and could take care of me. It made me feel bad. 

A few weeks ago, I put to my group of friends amongst jokes about being 'Forever Alone' if anyone actually wanted a boyfriend and some said yes, others said no. I said no but agreed that sometimes it would be nice to have someone to cuddle in bed with, when hungover, and just watch Netflix all day. It turns out, it would also be nice to have someone 'look after me for the next 24 - 48 hours' or to be there when I come round from an anesthetic. 

'So?'

'Who is your emergency contact?' 

I wondered to myself who would be the most practical person. I thought maybe Andrew as he lived and worked near by and I thought I could rely on him for stuff like this. I thought of one of my work colleagues who I knew could leave work to come and get me if the need arose. There was no point in putting a member of family as they all lived in a different country. 

As she held the form out in front of me urging me to make a decision, she might as well have been holding up a placard that screamed SINGLE AND ALONE. 

It felt like I needed to make a statement here. That the person I put down shouldn't be just practical. They should not be chosen by the convenience of their schedule or their proximity to the hospital. I felt like I need to prove to this demanding wench. My perception of her in this moment no doubt, in actual fact she was lovely if not a little over playing the concerned nurse bit.  As I took the pen from her, I thought that there was only one person I could really rely on to make sure everything would be ok. Great in a crisis and someone who actually cared about me. My best friend.

I don't need a boyfriend as long I have someone that will drop everything and run to me if I needed them to. 

I smugly handed the clipboard back to her and she ticked the box with her red pen. Without looking up at me she said.

'Any allergies'



'

Friday, 16 May 2014

Come Fly With Me

We've checked in!! the email screamed with an abundance of exclamation points. My best friend Paul and fellow holiday goer and if I am being honest my travel agent had checked us all in for our flights. When I say us, I mean a group of my closest friends. We are all going to Gran Canaria for 10 days of alcohol, camaraderie and havoc.  My group of friends have done this trip for the past 2 years.

Gran Canaria is the second most populated island of the coast of Spain and every year in May 3 Million queers descend on the island for a two week celebration of faggery.  Pool parties, drag queens with VIP areas packed out with their friends and plenty of Z List Celebrities on the main stage.

I am told that it is a wonderful festival of debauchery and promiscuity. I wouldn't know for sure because for the last 2 years my closest friends have gone on this trip without me.

I can make up a hundred excuses, too busy, prior commitments, an acute allergy to sunlight. But really, I never had the money. Which is really just half the story, I could have had the money but I spent it on other less important things like cigarettes and coffee and other undesirable things a person should not consume.
But this year, this year would be different, I would be going if it meant saving every spare penny I had. I really meant this but then life does that thing where every time it came to put some money away – something disastrous would happen. I would be evicted, I would have to change jobs, I would have to buy important things. But yet, I still somehow managed to do it. I paid the holiday off and now here we are checked in and set to go.

There is a suitcase on my bedroom floor with 15 or more kilos of barely there holiday attire. Flimsy fabrics made for warmer climes. There really isn't anything else to worry about. Not quite though, as I made my way to work this morning this morning. Coffee in hand (£1.75) with the sun shining on my face (Free) I thought about all the magical memories I would be making in just a few days. I recalled with whimsy the last holiday I went with some of the same chaps I would be travelling with this year and then I thought about those who I have not….Especially those I would be sharing a room with.

There is my friend Daniel, who when he would stay over would spread himself over every free bit of space in my room, a Ted Baker T-shirt there, a can of 7UP here. I would find empty ASDA bags days after his stay. Then there was Danny, who if I recall slept a lot and complained when woken up to early.  I would be sharing a room with these two and I am an early riser and clumsy – Would this mean tip toeing my way around the room, quiet as mouse whilst at the same time trying to get through an obstacle course of Daniel’s belongings.

We have all done countless weekend’s away together and they always start the same way, on the coach on the train, scrambling around in each other’s seats, excitedly sharing stories, playing around but then on the way back, all sitting separately, quiet and subdued. Spending a lot time with the same people can be testing.  I don't think this unusual and I believe many groups of friends to be this way.  I think and no matter how well you know someone, that they never truly see the real you, the slob, filthy or slightly weird aspects of your personality and you can subdue those for small periods whilst you pretend to be a normal functioning adult.

Being an Adult means you get to have sex, being in Gran Canaria surrounded by other men means you really should have lots of sex.

If you don’t come home frail and ill with AIDS’ you might as well not go because every story of trips past seems to start off innocently enough before descending into a flurry of condoms, lubrication and bodily fluids. Do I want to come home riddled with STI’s, no not particularly, having said that. I don’t want to feel left out either. But if I want to keep up with my skinnier and better looking friends, where is the line between too much and not enough. It’s a lot of pressure.

In the weeks leading up to the trip it made sense in order to have 10 days of nothing but sexual perversion it might be a good idea to make myself more attractive to the same sex. This really meant dropping about 11 stone. A task easier said than done but I am pleased with the results because nothing fits me anymore and to put on a shirt that I couldn't even close just 3 months ago.Well, that feels fantastic.

There are a lot of small things, costly things that need to go into a holiday booking, travel insurance, fines and penalties for incorrect spelling of names. You need a credit agreement to buy sun tan lotion these days. I bought travel insurance for the first time in my life yesterday because the chances of me being killed in some freak drunken accident are very high. We joke about this and when we laugh, it tends to trail off in a nervous fluster as the realization that it’s definitely going to happen dawns.  What better way to go than drowning in a crisp blue sea or falling from a 6th floor balcony with beautiful Tuscan tile. There are worse ways to go.  I don’t really believe this will happen of course. No, I think I will die from something less rock and roll – Carbon Monoxide poisoning from a dodgy boiler or falling down an exposed manhole.  But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Or so the saying goes.

Will the ten days be worth it? Most likely, because even if I don’t have sex or if I do wake Danny up or trip over one of Daniels cans of 7UP and fall six floors down and splattering my skull off the terracotta Tuscan tile. I will be doing it with a group of beautifully dysfunctional people and that is just guaranteed fun.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Jay Z vs Solange - A Family Tides.


When I read this week that Solange Knowles had been videoed attacking her Brother in Law who just happens to be Jay Z. I chuckled to myself and then carried on with the rest of my day. The video had gone viral but I didn't need to see it because it seemed all day, I was getting a play by play, from friends and co-workers.  You really don’t need to see it because if you have siblings and/or in laws then there is a probable chance that you have lived it.

In-Laws are tricky, you haven’t exactly invited them into your life but yet here they are, thrusting there new baby under your nose so you can make all the baby appreciation noises an uncle or aunt is supposed to make, or they slapping your sister about and no one is supposed to say anything. Mine aren't so bad and in the grand scheme of things, I think I have got quite lucky.  But having said that, there has been many a time I have wanted to attack them in a fiery frenzy of kicks and punches for the smallest indiscretion.
That is why I take all the speculation about the supposed reasons the Littlest Knowles Sister for getting a flawless victory on Jay Z with a pinch of salt.

Did he hit BeyoncĂ© and she was defending her sister’s honor?

Much talk also surrounded B’s complete lack of reaction and frankly I am not surprised. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of an irrational argument where no one is right and all you want to do is kill both parties. But who do you kill first? Is it your sister or your husband? It’s an impossible choice and the best thing she could have done is stand there and pretend none of it was happening. To which she did, exceptionally well.

So well in fact I am almost certain that she has done it before.  Family are at the best of times just ticking time bombs, years of resentment, insecurities, favoritism and disappointments just bubbling under the surface.  Add people that shouldn't even be there, in laws, and this is what you get. Random bursts of violence in public.

It’s always in public I should add – The most memorable family bust ups from the Brook’s family photo album have always happened in public – Weddings, christenings and funerals.

So when it comes to the Knowles/Carter bust up, the papers and gossip columnists will be quick to jump on spousal abuse, unfaithfulness and gerbils in the anal cavity. But I expect it’s something much more mundane. Something like BeyoncĂ© and the kids would be going to his parents for Christmas. Believe me; this kind of conversation can rip a family apart quicker than a Jeremy Kyle DNA result.

But with B being B – I expect we will never find out. But that is fine because in a weeks’ time we won’t care because I am sure the Kardashians are not going to sit idly by and let Team Knowles steal their column inches.

I can see it now.

Khloe Kardashian Murders Kanye West....


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

An Unmitigated Crisis



It's one of those things that life tells you, that you should be prepared for. Like death.

At least with death, you are coached early in life with the loss of hamsters, goldfish and the childhood spirit kicked to death during those hormonally enraged high school years. These helping you grasp the fact that something or someone you love will eventually pass on, leaving you standing there wondering what the hell is going on and you feel like a big part of you is now gone.

It was this feeling of grief, helplessness and emptiness that I looked at the light on my laptop poof away in a blaze of smoke and sparks. When I say blaze, rather I mean the tiniest little flutter of a spark and just a hint of burning metal. The significance of it all meant that it might as well have exploded leaving a gaping hole in the place where my house once stood.

The latter would have been less inconvenient.

My laptop was broken - No power, no life, and no hope.

I know you might be reading this and saying to yourself 'It is probably easily fixed' but I know my laptop like a mother knows her own child. Although physically, it was still there I knew deep down that its essence, the thing that made it special, its soul was gone. I have been wearing a black veil ever since. When you find a loved one dead, you call an ambulance and make sure the body is in the vicinity of a doctor at some point in the preceding couple of hours - even if it is just to confirm the worst, so you can try and deal with the aftermath, as quickly and painlessly as possible.

So it was with this need to have someone slap me in the face and confirm the worst. My laptop was dead - it was so dead that in the computer repair shop a little squeaky dwarf sang a little song and unrolled an eloquently written 'Death Certificate' All melodramatically overdone and I was 35 pound down for the pleasure of this bad news.

As I made way home, head down in the rain, a chorus of the Celine Dion mega smash hit 'All by Myself' played in my head. I felt cold, naked and alone. I was half way home when I realized that 'Home' was slowly rotting away in my bag and the only thing of interest waiting for me when I got in, was a fridge full diet and bland foods. My current weight loss regime meant nothing without being able to brag about it to my online friends. The option of going home and stuffing my face seemed a boring prospect – there is no joy found in plain chicken and brown rice let me tell you.

I thought back to times when I never had a laptop and if I am honest those memories were filled with me frolicking in the hills; book in hand ready to take on the world.

Simple fact is, during times when I was sans laptop and if memory serves me correctly, I was skinnier, more productive, more reliable (No, I can't come today...I uh..have work to do) and better read. Although I had no idea what was going on in the world, instead of my weekly helping of EastEnders courtesy of BBC IPlayer - Every time I got near internet access I trawled through the World Wide Web for compilation videos of Kat Slater’s best bits and I could relax knowing I had seen everything I needed to see.

I also missed major events in the lives of my nearest and dearest acquaintances - break ups, the odd get together, falling out - all wonderfully unremarkable but a staple of my day - without Facebook telling me everyone around me was having a worst time than I was - what could I use to boost own self esteem?

When I was given the diagnosis of death, immediate thoughts of who could help came to mind, calling home, putting on my saddest 'help me Mummy' voice would have a there would be a laptop and care package filled with healthy foods and statements of disappointment would be at my front door before I could get the key in but something held me back from doing so. I would like to say pride but it could also have been a simple case of picking my battles - I have a holiday coming up and the chance that I may need a sudden injection of cash for missed flights, bail and court costs - far outweighed the need for a computer device. My Mother gets it, she also has a laptop which she uses on daily basis but after several years has still not grasped the most basic of functions but she soldiers on like a trouper - pounding the keyboard with her fists and the odd swear word and still managing to send me semi-coherent message telling me she has discovered Skype - Or even better call me on her mobile, at extortionate rates to tell me of the benefits of Skype.

So she gets it, In fact I would even surmise that she thinks it keeps me off the streets and out of trouble little does she know, instead of ordering take away at 3 in the morning in the comfort of my own bed from Just-Eat, I will now need to wander around the city in my pajamas underneath my good coat (One balances out the other) to find an open take away. Without the assistance of the internet - I could be put in the throes of more danger than I could have ever imagined.

I have never been a conventional television viewer and I liked to be one those pricks that bragged about never watching television, implying I didn't agree with the hold it had over society whilst at the same time, loosing days to Netflix – Sometimes even weeks.  But I never kept to the schedule laid out in TV Guides but watched shows in my own time at my own leisure –  I don’t even own a TV I would claim proudly – I can still stay that now. But now I say through tears, whilst friends comfort me with reassuring pats on the back.

But now I was facing the prospect of having neither. But I still had a library card – which always seemed like one of the perks of being a living breathing tax paying citizen – I haven’t paid any tax this year from what I can only gather is some kind of clerical error in the tax office and I haven’t yet gotten around to telling them because they might be a bit busy and alerting them to this error seems akin with telling your waiter he didn't charge for the portion of chicken wings you had as a starter.  You just don’t do it.  But now it seems like an absolute necessity and should be a basic human right.So in the preceding days I have spent even more time in the library and sometimes, I don’t even check in on Facebook to let people know I am there. I am not saying this is something I always did in the past – before making my way to the nearest Starbucks to read heat magazine.  I had an empty desk, which had less dust on the surface where my laptop used to sit, not unlike the white chalk outline that episodes of Law and Order have thought me is common at the scene of a murder. I could only fill this empty space with books – There is a little metaphor wrapped up in real life there somewhere. In case you didn't notice.

I am not a book snob, so I am pleased to tell you I have read some not so great literary classics about wrestling, about being a drug dealer, about Amazon and Tesco’s history and I am currently reading a collection of stories from bouncers and bodyguards. I am feeding my mind – but not necessarily my body.

As I alluded to earlier I am currently on a weight loss regime. I want to be healthier and more active and I used to do this by standing by water fountains and watching people, skinnier people, run on treadmills – I am quite good on a treadmill I must admit but I find it so ball achingly boring that its hard to put any gusto behind it. I just hoped that the walk to and from the gym is enough work to give me Adonis like credibility. But now I go to a less up market gym where the equipment is sticky and worn, and standing around doesn't look so conspicuous because there is a queue to use everything – I mean everything.  But I also feel less self-conscious around people who have opted to use this gym; there is something that says you are not too serious about losing weight when you pay so little. But this gym also has a pool and I am good in a pool, I can swim well and its working out but not really, because it is actually fun and it doesn't feel like you are doing anything to strenuous. But without Netflix or a boyfriend to go home to, I have absolutely no reason to be at home and I can’t expect the friends I have managed to keep over the years – to walk the streets with me without even the prospect of a hot drink because I can’t afford hot drinks. Well I can, but only during a small 12 hour window after pay day. But that is a whole other issue which I will get back to later.

So I find myself going to the gym and not counting down the seconds, so I jump on the treadmill fighting off others who have skipped the subtle queue system. This mostly entails standing near the machine you want to use, looking at your watch and tutting loudly. I find myself being on there longer than I have ever been – this could possibly be down to the fact I can watch Coronation Street. But I won’t argue over semantics, all that matters is the end result.

Once I have worked out/caught up on the latest Tina and Peter scandal, I reward myself with a swim.  If it’s not filled with kids or Asians swimming like bullets up and down the slow lane, ruining it for everyone.  But I do like swimming and I get to shower at the gym which means I am not spending additional and scarce funds on electricity. So far this week, I have spent most of my spare time at the gym this past week that I spend very little time at home or in stores or coffee shops spending beyond my means.

I have a job, which might shock some and I earn about the average wage for my age group and socio economic status (I have no Idea what this means but it makes me sound like I do so I will carry on) and I lack any desire to have responsibilities – I can just about tear myself out of bed in the morning. So I have very few bills or debts.  But I never have any money and I never have anything to show for it – Now you might be wondering how this relates to my broken laptop. Relax, I will get there. But  get this, I don’t have the money to buy a new one which is fine because not many people can bang out £400 pounds worth of electrical goods at the drop of a hat.  The absence of Facebook, Twitter, Fitlads, Gaydar, Pornhub, Blogger, Bebo, Myspace, MSN Chat, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Tickld, Lamebook, Failblog, BBC News, BBC IPlayer, Rockettube,  and so on got me thinking about other ways that my subconscious would scream out for entertainment – I was foreseeing spending splurges which would kill not only my crippling bank balance (Which now sits at 17 pence. YES! 17 whole pence) But also my waistline. But it didn't go like that, quite the opposite in fact. I still have that 17 pence and my waistline has not expanded but has in fact shrunk. This has presented plethora of other problems such as my belt and trousers now being too big. But let’s not dwell on the negative.

I leave the house at 7 in the morning and I don’t back till 10 in the evening and I shouldn't really brag because it has only been a week but I predict big things in the coming days – But I have my first big hurdle to get over first. I am terrified of what I might do to tackle the two most daunting things I have ever had to face, unarmed and unprepared.


The Weekend......

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Night

There are times that give moments to quiet reflection, where you cannot help but take stock of what you have going for you. Almost 2AM in the morning, spluttering and coughing seems just a good a time as any.

Only a few days ago, my friend described me as 'tap dancing my way through life' and in a certain way I am. I certainly am one for living in the moment - wild nonsensical actions leading to all kinds of happy memories but not a single shred of planning. Planning for the future, putting things aside for a rainy day, predicting unseen circumstances and consequences.

When bad thing happen, I tell myself I should care more, pay heed to whatever warning it might be giving off. I was handed an eviction notice just over a week ago and the mature side of me wants to say 'Woah. that really isn't good' but the reasons behind it are like a confirmation that I am 'fun, spontaneous' and 'tap dancing my way through life'

So I cough and I splutter and I listen to sad music and I tell myself that it is okay to feel bad about things, even if it is just for a few hours because here alone, I have no reputation to live up to. I can let the bad thoughts creep and take hold and let my head do what it does very naturally. It lets them in, they stay and party for a while and then they leave. The process continues on and on.

So on nights like this, I consider it health to dwell on thoughts and feelings like, how much I miss my brother, how far away he is and how that distance will continue to grow. Insecurities, loneliness, doubt, worry and guilt. They all get their 15 minutes in the limelight, so when morning comes the light is not just literal and I can continue on and rock the fuck out of my day...

...so I can continue to 'tap dance my way through life'

Sunday, 23 February 2014

No Connection Found

I was regaling my brother with a story about a guy I was dating and how I wanted to break up with him and having explained the reasons why, my brother joked 'You will end up alone unless you give people a chance' and we both laughed because we both know I can be quite picky and that I may have some expectations which some might describe as unreasonable.

I have been in relationships before, most have been unremarkable but the longest and most significant in terms of impact, which I didn't even realise until recently, still affects me today. It lasted just under two years. In the beginning, it was exciting, none of my friends and family approved and I was very attracted to him on a physical level. But once that initial flame started to die out, I can look back and see that we merely just existed together, we would fight and argue constantly or else we would just go about our days as normal and in the evenings, we would cook and then watch TV on the couch. We would never talk, but he would be constantly touching me. My wrists or my hands, running his fingers through my hair. There would always be some kind of physical connection to me. Like he needed constant reassurance that not only was I there, that I wasn't going anywhere.

I found myself eerily reliving this experience this week. I was dating a boy for the past few weeks and he we were sat on my couch and he kept touching my hands, my wrist, running his fingers through my hair. The TV was on and there was not a word being exchanged between the two of us. It was like I had a brief glimpse to my past and into our future. I didn't like it one bit.

There were other signs that this guy might turn out to be too needy for me, that there was some underlying issues that he only knew how to combat by being in a relationship. But these clues are hard to see at first, when everything is still kind of new and when it should be exciting. Although I haven't much experience in dating or love, I am confident that I know what I want and that is not another ball and chain.

Having resolved my issues with Andrew over the past two months or so, I had opened myself more to dating and possibly falling in love. I loved Andrew, or more I should say that I loved the idea of myself and Andrew together and it is a shame because I have never been quite able to put my finger on what exactly it was that made him and the idea of us as a couple, so special. So I could try and identify that spark in other people.

So as I sat on the couch with this new guy, his hands moving up and down me, he played with my wrist, draped his legs over mine, ran his fingers through my hair. I froze. This man was not the one for me and I know now that he was not interesting enough for me. As arrogant as this sounds. There has to be some spark, even just at first. Some common connection that doesn't really have a name but is always there. It binds people together. I wanted to turn the TV, to touch him back and to ask about his life, his friends, his family, his goals, fears and failures. Previous attempts at discussing our lives, always went one way, he would turn the conversation back to how he was looking forward to seeing me, or that he was sexually aroused.

This in itself was a red flag that I hadn't really noticed until now, a flag which indicated that other areas of his life were not as important as being in a relationship and although I may be wrong, I had a feeling that he is defined by whatever relationship he is in, or whomever he may be dating.  As I thought more about this and applied this to past experiences, I guess he picked up on my change of mood because although it was late and we had plans for him to stay over he opted to drive home and I opted not to contest.

In the grand scheme of things, this was just one of many liaisons which have ended in similar circumstances of indifference. The only difference in this case, is that it could possibly have been my first prospective relationship since Andrew. Before Andrew, I had never had such strong feelings for another person before and despite it going nowhere. I was glad that I was at least capable of such feeling, so I was optimistic about it happening again. I just assumed that finding that spark would be easy.

But the last thing I want is another 2 year prison term, another unhappy relationship spent tied to another person and not saying anything.


Thursday, 12 December 2013

Andrew

Although not unwelcome, my work day goes unusually quickly. It seems that whole hours are passing by in what feels like moments. When you are excited about something, it is usually the case that time seems to drag its heels, you clock watch till you can switch off your computer and get the hell out of there. Well today it is different, I am dreading something so much, that my day is intent of frog marching me there in no time at all.

I tried to keep distracted until the time came to leave, I showered, I listened to music, I ate but the sense of foreboding never left. Tonight, is the night that we aim to put everything behind us and in order to do that, we need to talk about what went on between us. Between me and HIM.

I am sitting across from him, he has just finished night school and hasn't eaten since earlier this morning, so he really needs to get some food before we start our discussion. I get a hot chocolate, not that I particularly want one, I just want something to do with my hands. We talk about other things first, whilst he eats. In my head I practice what I want to say and I worry it won't come out that way.

Saving our friendship is the goal, it is not about what might have been, what could have happened. We know we are not right for each other but we have never told each other the reasons why and to finally get the chance too is as unwanted almost as it welcomed. In the past few months, since this has come out, since I was so frank about our feelings, our relationship as friends has been at risk. It was triggered by a social engagement, where we spent some time alone together and during that time, the very notion that we had never discussed it, frankly and in person just seemed so ridiculous that it was all I could focus on and I finally decided that enough was enough and requested that we finally do so.

But it comes easier than I expected, neither of us are being coy and I am surprised and delighted when after he is done eating, he tackles the issue head on. We talk and don't hold back, we reconfirm with each other, why we won't work. I bring up all the unspoken things that have caused so much tension and he tells me how it has affected him. As the conversation carries on, the tension is evaporating and I am being honest with him and some of the things I say, the level of truth I am reaching has never been seen outside of my blood kin.

We both manage to get our points across and by the time we are done,  as the cliche goes I feel like I am light as a feather. I take the long way home and I listen to music and I can't stop smiling. We should have done this months ago but that is not important, it is now done and it feels fantastic to be not carrying this around anymore.  I unexpectedly have all this free space.

HIM was a name I gave to not just the persons with whom I let my affections lie, it was also a reference to entire back catalogue of thoughts, disappointments and frustrations. Pages and pages of questions, what ifs and why nots. It dehumanized him, so it was something, not someone. But with that line in the sand drawn, he will always now be just my friend. My friend Andrew.

That is wonderful.