Sundays is for lovers and families. Forget Christmas. There is no other time that makes you feel more alone then Sundays. The collective units, urban and nuclear families, strolling along the river, fighting cobbles with a pushchair, arm in arm in winter coats, enjoying bitterly cold sunshine, indulging in rich foods and rich drinks and rich laughter. Yes, you are all going to watch ITV later. Afternoons in food and book markets buying rustic onions and rustic books and rustic salt and peppershakers, biting into apples that taste like dirt, but at least it’s authentic. Drinking in scattered groups by the water or on the water, up on hills, but with a view and everything is infused with rosemary and bay leaves. But jogging past them, straining and grunting and the shift of the deserted home, the freedom and relief of a Sunday to yourself transformed into a pointed statement, and you feel childless or friendless or partner less, real or imagined. You don’t even have a fire at home, and wearing a oversized jumper and indulging in papers and tea and repeats of childhood films suddenly seems unseemly to do solo. Christmas is once a year, but Sunday appears every week with it’s judgement, until you want to retreat back to bed wishing you had arranged for the warmth of others.
I will become a far more boring person when I start to date again. I will be marked by the ultimate rejection and it will lead me to be an agreeable undynamic mess of a man. I will be drawn to women of a similar ilk; messy sooty-eyed desperate lumps that want someone to notice them. We will be inoffensive to each other in inoffensive restaurants, and there will be a explosive minefield of upsetting subjects neither of us will bring up, my divorce, her abusive ex husband, whether we believe in God or not…
I want inoffensive conversations with inoffensive women over bland food.
I have been looking at interesting neuroscience experiments for the past couple of days, and keep getting lost in the vacuum of “my brain does what now?!!”
I have spent a lot of time on the website You Are Not So Smart, which explains how bits of the brain and subconscious work citing famous and interesting neuroscience and psychology experiments as evidence. It’s all in easy to understand non science prose. Yay.
You Are Not So Smart groups its subjects together under banners such as “Coffee,” “Procrastination,” and “Misattribution of Arousal.”
I know what your thinking.
Not like Radiolab actually.
It doesnt present it with the same upbeatness/sense of wonder/ emotionally manipulative “CRY DAMM YOU.” There is less “OHHHHH, everything is just a little bit mysterious and wonderful” and more “this is how it is, suck it up.”
It keeps it real. It ruins all the illusions. It’s kind of mean. It told me how many calories were in the signature hot chocolate I use to get from starbucks every day for a year. Its about 500.
(It didn’t really but it would point at the cup if it could and go “you know that will make you fat, right?”)
But I like it. I like to know I have less control over my actions and brain then I could possibly imagine. I like to know how my robotics work. I like to get my sense of individuality squashed a little. It’s something to fight back against, even if its only imagined fighting back, and i’m actually just deeply conforming (I am on tumblr right?)
It’s nice for someone to give you a head map to explain….
Why do I want to eat cookies when people are mean to me?
Why do I have a tumblr? (Other then the abandonment issues/Avengers Gifs)
Why have I not gotten over everyone laughing at me at Hannah Sneath’s Party simply for turning up? Whatever. Someone drove her dads porsche into a field so I got the last laugh. Although I did get trapped in her downstairs toilet for half an hour and have had claustrophobia ever since.
I think the most important take home message from the website is this….
Sugar makes you less likely to make rash decisions. Next time your thinking Tattoo/crazy hair style/Vegas wedding, have a freddo, wait five minutes. You might just have been hungry.
I know little to nothing of the work of Martin Amis, or that of his father Kingsley Amis but I listened to a podcast today in which he was interviewed about both.
You can find it here
It’s number 94.
As someone with a father, who likes to write (me not my father) I found it a pretty interesting listen, although it didn’t make me feel inspired to read any of his work although I know I should. It’s on the list.
Here are the two ideas I liked
Firstly, he talks about “failures of tolerance” and the attributes, both positive and negative, are fathers pass on to us.
He mentions how he viewed increasing “failures of tolerance,” in Kingsley as he got older, and how he can see the same ones in himself but is quick to stomp them out. This articulates, better then I ever could, a fear I have about procreating. I fear I will be a dick to my kids the same way my dad could be to me as I grew up. Those little lapses in patience that you pass on like a nasty virus. I fear the pain of childbirth, and the expense of clothing and dropping my child on its head, but mostly I fear being a dick.
I can picture myself shouting at a smaller version of me
“Why did you put banana skins in the hallway?”
“I was scientifically testing the truth behind segments in my morning cartoon.”
“What did you learn?”
“it’s all lies and the world is a cold dark place.”
“Okay. Well I’m sorry for shouting. I had a genetic tolerance failure.”
The other idea I liked, (which I shall put in quotes to illustrate) is “Literary stimulation.”
Martin talks about his fascination with America, and how he visits the country for no other reason then for “literary stimulation.” He says England is too evolved for writers. His anthropological approach to the culture of America seemed both honest and insulting, like the most perfect back handed compliment. Your interesting, like a bug under a microscope.
I guess professional writers may not always be talking to you for the right reasons.
In summary I like “Genetic Failures in Tolerance,” and feel it could be the title to the follow up of “They Fuck You Up,” and “Literary Stimulation,” and feel it could be where sex is going wrong.
If all the framed portraits and certificates that my mother put up really represented my achievements in life, then wouldn’t they mark the moment I learnt my afternoon naps were due to a vitamin B deficiency and I wasn’t actually depressed?
It’s everything in her house. Handprint drawings. School reports. Merit certificates. Sports day medals. Diplomas. Degrees. Marriages photos. Trampolining certificates. Nothing exceptional. My two sisters and I, we were fairly also ran but at the same time, content. None of us had ever conquered Everest or been the absolute best at anything.
We did quite well if we tried and had brief periods of winning competitions no one else entered, but could not be summarised with an adjective. “Oh, she cooks,” or “Oh, she long jumps.” To cook or to long jump implies passion and skill that far surmounts anything else in your life. You are the cooker or the jumper who is better then the other cookers and jumpers.
We muddled by. “Oh, she muddles by.”
We dated average men. “Oh, she’s dating average man.”
We had straight teeth, and kind of straight hair, and normal sized chests and my older sister used to be able to tap dance, I was in choir for a while, and the youngest went through a phase of really wanting a rat but other then that our wall displays were fairly uninspiring.
Incomparable to the neighbors kids or our more ambitious best friends.
Sunday visits to my parent’s house involved a reality check. I am faced with the faded dregs that use to summarise me. Blu tacked, framed or poster mounted to the wall, corkboarded up and planted on the glass shelves in the living room are my achievements. My progress. I digress mentally. I tell them I don’t want it, that’s not what makes me me! I am not an overpriced portrait in an ill-fitting hat holding a fake scroll. It is not a deadsea scroll. It is a business studies 2:2. I ask them to take them down now.
But I am missing the point, because these are her achievements and not mine.
I have a house, and I have a marriage. It is new, exciting still. I insist we put pictures up of the things we want to remember, the obstacles we overcame. That’s why there is blown up picture of him with a weeping leg wound in our living room. He overcame in. He didn’t loose the leg. He didn’t die. We thought he might.
(I am considerate enough to make sure the white and green pus is not visible in any eating areas.)
We have resignation letters, suicide letters (my attempt at an attempt when I was 21 and just really down, you know?) dismissal letters, doctor’s letters, abortion appointments, old love letters from other peoples pens (we must be reminded of what could have been) and photos of us at our worse. We document our despair and sometimes our ennui.
Every day is a gift now. A mystery to unravel. We don’t have the awards and achievements to remind us that we are no longer young and sprightly and full of unfulfilled potential, instead we have mudslides and avalanches.
We have the things we have overcome, the self-fulfilling prophecies we work hard to avoid everyday, and we comfort ourselves with the continued threat that shit happens, and some things you just can’t plan for. Like tinnitus or cats with personality defects.
When I was 12 my babysitter use to bring around highbrow fashion magazines for me to read, not thinking about all the see through blouses, and in turn nipples, that were on display. The subtly sexuality dressed up in high concept positioning and gravity defying orange hair.
The fashion pages of those advert thick glossies fascinated me. When I grew up would I be wearing sheer clothes and stroking tigers? Would I have adventures in soft pink lighting in Japan with delicate looking male models? Or would I grow up podgy because I ate too much microwaveable bacon between the years of 1995 to 2000?
I also loved the celebrity interviews. In the opening paragraph they would ramble on about how beautiful and charming their interviewee seemed as they wafted into the foyer of the London Hotel with a piece of designer cloth draped around the nape of a swan like neck. How kind they were to waiters! How they drank that red wine and ate that potato which willingly drowned itself in the thickest double cream just for the privilege of being in the presence of their tongue! How that throaty laugh lit up the room with its undertones of sexuality and freedom, and when that fan bravely approached the table, how they smiled appreciatively and thanked them for their custom!
Or the interviewee would turn up hungover from the night before, charming and determined but having slept no more then four hours in the past two years.
I was thinking about interviews, or character descriptions, someone else’s perspective of you written down for the world to take as red. If I ever became a fictional character in a landscape of first chapter introductions what would my memorable tick be?
At this point, I suspect it may be, “she chewed Nicorettes a lot.”
Didn’t get a place in drama school. Failed to pass my driving test. Wasn’t chosen to go on the school ski trip or hockey trip. Couldn’t buy that blender.
I look for meaning in everything when I have these crises of faith, searching for the deus ex machina in my life. The event which will turn things around or at least give me an answer. I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in plot devices.
I walk around in my lunch break looking for an external impetus, just something to make my decisions easier, a person I don’t know to say something I can interpret as a sign or a reflection of my own unconscious desires. Where are you wise hobo? Where are you elderly woman with the bright red hair and the mystery bag of crap?
I hope upon hope for a stray cat or a piece of graffiti that will tell me everything is going to be just fine. I was never meant to be a dancer.
I was never meant to stay with Walter or that guy called Josh or any of the five thousand before I was here, married then inevitably divorced. But there was never really five thousand you see, it was a private joke with my former husband. I slept with as many as there were in this old parable. How about you? Ball park figure? If they were all animals and there was a flash flood and Noah came along with a ship, would they all fit on it?
The ending of something, it reminds me of trying to distract myself from tinnitus. It’s a dull ever-present hum in my ear, like a mosquito that flew into my brain. I can get use to it as long as I never let it be the only thing I can hear. I fill the silence with voices from the radio, and from friends, and with the conversations of strangers. I might take up zumba, or yoga or aura reading. Never poi. I try and fill uncertainty by looking in windows. I wonder, can I relate the ending of a cult TV series to the ending of relationships? It never really finishes; it just carries on in a lesser format…
I buy a coffee and think about wonder-woman for a while.
There was a woman with plenty of deus ex machina moments. She never had to make any decisions, not really, just inevitable choices with there being only the illusion of choice. I never have anything occur which requires such gravitas self sacrifice.
I walk for hours, considering. Do I pull the plug? Do I funnel a different path? Do I confront a former husband/lover/friend? Do I quit my job in legal and become a cage fighter? Do I put my eggs in storage? Do I move south for winter?
I was getting really thirsty, close to vomiting or collapsing after walking in the sun. I spotted a water fountain outside a library. I can never work water fountains. In a past life I had no opposable thumbs. I feel every bump and crevice and ridge and push down hard, but there is no spurting forth of the elixir of life.
An elderly man wearing a blue hat watched my struggle for a while, my iphone in one hand, my oversized headphones hanging around my sweaty neck. I will forget to exfoliate this neck later, no doubt. He reached over and pushed the small button to the right of the stainless steel cube, and yes, water flowed.
“Its amazing how they get those computers to be so small,” he said, gesturing at my iphone before shuffling away. No doubt to change a tire. Wait, come back? Was that a moment? What shall I do with my life? I stare after him. He shuffles away, his back and blue shirt lovingly sticking together, glued with sweat. He doesn’t turn around, he is meant to turn around and nod. Knowingly. Mouth at me that he isn’t God, he is just some guy who grew up in the 1920’s. He is meant to get hit by lighting. Instead he presses a traffic light and waits for it to turn red. I have to go back to work, but for some reason I want to make sure he gets to the other side of the road first. So I wait.
When the bunch of strangers I have been trapped with in a eerily empty beacon of bloated materialist western culture are trying to figure out exactly what kind of monster has been stalking us, I want to be the guy who screams ”but who are the real monsters? IT’S US! INEVITABLY IT IS US! AWWWWW!” before I run into the street and get eaten by the 50 foot half shark/half winged rat with diamond shards for teeth and limited psychic powers.
Recollections of Encounters with Lauded and Respected Artists by their less Notable Peers often Mention an Odd Quirk held by the Normally Enigmatic Figure.
The people who make money using their imaginations turned up in force at the opening of the chic Parisian hotel “La Fleur de Mes Reins,” last night. First to arrive was the conceptual artist who posed for photos with a daffodil in his hat, a cigarette in his mouth and a glass decanter containing the finest Single Hiland Malt Scotch. It remained firmly attached to his side all night, and likely long into the next day. Soul mate and muse to the conceptual artist, the writer, arrived shortly after leaving a trail of disposable white gloves in his wake. The gloves were replaced with each new person he met or room he entered, leaving behind such a trail of latex that the hotels previous and less ostentatious use was bought to mind.
As the other guests arrived and the party progressed, discussions about new work, philosophical ideas and proposals for ten minute plays about death filled the air as writers, artists, thinkers and geniuses feasted on truffle oiled vegetables and morsels of pink, grey and neon blue.
Animal flesh prepared by a renowned decomposition chef.
Cocktails and champagne flowed freely as singer songwriter performed his newest collection of songs, never removing the dark glasses said to hide smaller eyes then you would expect. His androgynous appeal wafted over the crowd, and people who hadn’t questioned their sexuality in years questioned their sexuality, and wives and husbands fell in love again, but not necessarily with each other.
The art collective made a brief appearance, pouring Moet de Chateaux onto bowls of cornflakes and claiming odes to Hemmingway and Fitzgerald convoluted through the medium of Kellogg’s, convincing no one of anything in particular but providing a distraction.
After a few strong cocktails, and the osmosis effect of the opium grove outside, the crowd of fabulousness began to swap tales of sexual depravity, each individual charming the other with an aura of charisma and appropriately timed self-deprecating jokes. The ordinary folk, who shared not an evident emotional or facial tic amongst them, found it increasingly difficult to communicate what they were about as the evening progressed.
The model decided to depart early, screaming about sensibilities objecting to the non-symmetrical spread and bed of fish eyes in the foyer. She claimed it just wasn’t any fun anymore.
The philanthropist got tongues wagging. For someone who has built a career on never being on time but never later then 45 minutes, the charismatic star arriving just a little bit after the hour left everyone surprised and upset. Although she made up for it by carrying her recently deceased pet fox around in a beaten leather bag, slipping into dead languages when talking to the theatre directorand even more disturbingly, proving to be far more pleasant company then her reputation allowed.
The jazz quintet played long into the night, mixing up freshness and vintage with a spot of impossible time signatures, a focus on stripping away-preconceived notions and the ability to take requests. They were followed by an opera mash up medley and a choir of angels.
The evening started to draw to a close when the energy levels of the crowd began to dip due to a lack of individual focus and worship, and it became frighteningly clear that there was simply not enough adulation to go around. Yes, the others had gone home. There was no one left to look over the shoulder of. The bar was beginning to run dry, the drugs had all but disappeared, the singer had decided to take up acting and the philanthropist wanted to go back to college to learn how to disappear.