Post Christmas – How Ya Feeling??

So how y’all doing?

The festive season is struggling to maintain purchase as the madness sinks in and people reaslise they have to stop being merry soon and return to their general humdrum lives. After the psychotic ravaging of stores that miraculously have re-filled their shelves with wares for the Boxing Day/that-odd-nameless-time-between-Christmas-and-New-Year sales, we are left bereft, despite our many fresh items.

We have less booze, less money, less yummy food, less presents, less visitors, less days off, less lie ins… Generally just less of all those rare goodies we allow ourselves to indulge in excessively at this time of year.

On the other hand we get more of a lot of things.

We get more work, more time out of the warm house and in the cold outdoors, more time spent travelling, more bitchy co-workers, more worries over money, more micro-meals, more stress coffee, more… General crap. And crap that is only crap because you experience it every day, not because it is particularly bad, just that we tolerate it so often that we come to not really care all that much about it. Like work. Most people can’t be bothered half the time. Uni/college. Too tiring when there are warm beds and XBOX in existence. Travelling. Instead of being a peaceful time of reflection it becomes a place of rampant road rage and body odour, if you are not fortunate enough to be part of a carpool. Reality bites back, soon.

We are alright til January. It is acceptable to pull the “aw, Ok, since it’s Christmas” excuse for being just that little bit decadent but only because we have that all important big part-ay coming up known as New Year (sure to be a messy one if you live in Scotland).

Now, while this started off on a bit of a bum note, I like to be a little unpredictable when I write these posts, so here’s me pulling the old switcheroo on you.

I don’t care that we are metaphorically going from a time of excess to a time of… normal? (because I live in the commercialised Western society so we are always living in a time of plenty and there are too many people who already live in excess) I don’t care that I am going to have less money, less free time and more stress. I don’t even mind the thought of my three hour round trips to Uni every day starting again – the bus may smell bad but I always like the journey and I like Uni. I can’t do anything on the journey so it’s a great place for a little downtime.

Sometimes the world of boundless bounty (not the chocolates… though I suppose sometimes the chocolates. At this time of year, certainly. Those little tiny ones. Who actually eats Bounty’s except at Christmas anyway? Who eats chocolates that size at any other time of year? Alas, tis a pondering for another day) is a little too much. Too much of a good thing, and all that. Then again…

I have just had a few of the best days of my life.

Those of you who have followed these interweb pages for a while will know that I used to  detest Christmas. Loath it. Hated it with a passion that would make hell piss itself with shame at its own feeble flame as it pales in comparison to the passion in my rage. But all that has changed this year. It was AWESOME!!

I know that is hardly the most eloquent of ways to phrase it but it is the truth and I am still young enough to get away with such pithy sayings.adored every second!

Last year I did not really have a Christmas. It was one of the worst days of my life and I will never forget it. However, I cannot regret, now, that it happened. Because, had I not, I may not have fully appreciated the marvelous affair that has been the Clark family Christmas, 2013. These shall forever be hallowed days to me.

And these feelings of peculiar warmth have nothing to do with the fact that I have spent a great deal of time in the last wee while drinking excessive, yet not altogether socially unacceptable volumes, of fermented, brewed and distilled liquid, all with the intent of slowly pickling my liver as well as warming the cockles of my heart. Oh no, it is all to do with my family. And the fact that we were all at home. Together. Having Christmas. For the first time ever. And I meant, ever.

I have never had a Christmas at home, just with my parents, and that is something I have always craved. As has my mum, which, means that since we were spending it at home, she has been in an infinitely better mood of late. Actually we all have. There has been an unfamiliar buzz of general merriment colouring my life in the run up to Christmas. I have been a busy little fritter and filled my time by whole-heartedly flinging myself into the spirit of the event. I’ve never really partaken so I wasn’t really sure what to do. But the fact that I was bouncing around like a workshop elf on crack seemed to help everything run smoothly. Go with the snow-flow,  I thought, see where you end up. Following my celebratory savvy, I reckon.

My life this December has been a blur of bows and bells, elves and electric lightstinsel, tassels and tell-tales signs the Great British weather is taking a turn for the terrible.

I won’t go into details, but will instead allow you to fill in the blanks of your own accord. I don’t mind how you envisage the three of us, but here is a guideline.

Image three people sitting down to a fantastic spread that we are all not quite sure how we managed to produce. Imagine us elated and confused at the fortune of our own situation. Listen to the sound of clinking glasses, popping crackers and belly laughing. Feel the warmth of the oven and the heating blowing a rosy glow onto your skin. Smell everything from booze to parsnips and turkey and perfume. Feel full, spiritually and physically and emotionally. Cover everything in soft lights and glitter. Now imagine a slight haze over the whole image as we have all had a little bit to drink

Merry Christmas.

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Boyf opening prezzies on Christmas Eve

Homemade table decoration

Homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

homemade table decoration

me and Percy

me and Percy

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine... food baby??

Gizmo is drunk after his Christmas dinner and some wine… food baby??

pretty candles

pretty candles

Percy

Percy

SSDD

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Holla From Uni

Aloha, Bonjourno Buenas Dias/Noches, Hi, Hello, Wassup, Greetings, Anaeyong hassaeo…

I am alive and guilty – I have been neglecting my bloggerly responsibilities but for good reason I assure you. That educational, unnecessary, expensive yet wonderful resource we call University has called me to its’ hallowed (… plywood…) halls once again and I have begun another academic year at Uni, rendering my time otherwise tied in things of a scholarly nature.

*Ahem* FRESHERS WEEK!! 😛

Ok, so I haven’t exactly been going wild with freshers but Uni has started again and it has taken up a bit of time trying to get into a routine that let’s me be some way to a functioning human being with time to spare. But I’m getting there.

There was an interesting stand at the Glasgow Caledonian University Freshers Fair (the Uni I go to, by the way, I didn’t just wander in off the street looking for something to do). It was to do with the Psychology Society. Now, I don’t study Psychology, but I am sorely tempted to join this society, purely because the guy behind the table refused to ralk to me til I looked like this:

me wearing the hat that was thrust upon me by a “psychologist”

Got lots of work coming my way in terms of freelance writing work so busy busy busy.

Speak soon!

 

SSDD

The Winds Of Change Smell Like Barcelona, Ottowa and Glasgow

The Winds Of Change

The winds of change are getting me all a tither.

The re-start of Uni is fast approaching (literally 2 weeks!!) and it has only just occurred to me that at long last things may be beginning to change in a very interesting direction for me. Instead of the stagnation I’ve been tolerating in certain aspects of my life of late it seems things are gonna be hotting up in terms of my education.

1185197_10151811904576480_934853721_n (1)I’ve never ventured to Barcelona but a couple of my friends are taking a few months there as part of an exchange for our Uni course. A couple more are already attending classes in Canada  (follow her here!!!!!). Things like, studies of Sex and Equality or something else awesome, which, for my pal who is a bisexual feminist, is the exact most interesting thing in the world for her!

 

What’s That I Sense?

Exciting things are potentially floating on the winds that are heading towards us. The thing is, I’m a little bit nervous. I’ve spent such a long time knowing this is coming and yet now that it’s finally here… There is doubt in me that I can pull it off.

wind

Sure, I’m well aware that there’s no point in comparing your life with anyone else’s, so I’m not going to. I’m comparing it to my own life so far. It feels like there has been this great chasm of flux for the past few months, one that grew out of the dark hole of hell and change that came before it. It was a period of relative calm for me to regain a bit of the control I lost and learn how to deal with it.

Yet while I’ve been doing that, my peers have been moving on to bigger and better things – literally! Granted, I was not ready for such drastic continental shifts, though I did move house, I guess, technically (if you could call it that), but as far as selfactualisation goes, I haven’t really been in any position to achieve it to the same standards as my friends. And that frustrates me.

Moving On

I guess this is a little bit of catharsis. Or perhaps a touch of narcissism. Examining one’s own faults is never something we find easy as people and yet we relentlessly punish ourselves with a constant practice of it. One persons success suddenly takes on another meaning and becomes a reflection of your own inadequacy. As pleased as you are for their success, as enthused and elated and over-joyed and excited as you are to hear that someone you care about is happy and satisfied by a job well done, there may always be that little niggle of jealousy, or perhaps disappointment, that your own triumphs seem to somewhat pale in comparison.

change

But now that may be about to change. I am embarking on a leg of my own journey that I have long been (re)preparing for and I think the only problem is that I’m nervous I won’t meet the bar my friends have unwittingly set.

That and the fact that the Uni computer system won’t let me bloody register yet!

SSDD

The Hills Are Alive

The hills are alive, and they are helping me live again too…

I have returned from Fort William! The Ben Nevis region of the world.

I’m a creature of habit. It’s not something I like to admit but it’s true. Certain changes make me uncomfortable which is a pain because I like to try new things and my mind delights in the thought of travel. But I also like the safety of a certain level of routine… Even though repetitiveness kind of makes me want to kill something. Ahhh, paradox. Which is why I’m glad that my holiday this year was the most placid of family affairs rather than an out-and-out 20 year old party bonanza.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a drink and I do turn into MC Hammer when the DJ brings the tunes (oh aye, coz I’m that cool) but there are times when your mind has just had. e. nuff. Peace, tranquility. These are things that in the metropolis of your personal bubble are lost and shoveled brutally into a grave of insignificance.

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It wasn’t til I arrived on one of the most stunning roads I’ve ever seen that I realised this. There is a community in loneliness. Hills feel older than you. They have been around for a long time and will remain there indefinitely (I hope). Human lives are far more temporal. We are lucky to even be allowed the privilege of bearing witness to such ancient features. They rise out of the earth, like majestic guardians. I see them as guardians, because why else would they need to be so tall? They are clearly there to protect nature from man by being stunning and intimidating in a breathlessly  massive way.

Lately my life has taken twists and turns, stagnated and infuriated me with it’s inability to rail itself on a path that is actually going to make me happy.

20130829_085906And that is why I took the Glenfinnan Viaduct and became a Real Wizard. Now there is a rail that makes me very happy!

Fort William is not so much a sleepy town as a town that needs only to rest. Sure, there is a Weatherspoons, but that is about all there is. If you want a little youthfulness, that is where you go, if not… you chill in the hotel bar with the other 195 year olds.

To be honest, boarding the bus made me imagine looking through a looking glass that shows you 75 years into the future. There was not one single person under 100 on there. My parents and I were almost as startled as the old folks on there; they were peering through their 3 inch specs at us as if they were beginning to believe the docs when they said they were going cray cray! We were spied through 50 pairs of scrunched up bug eyes and wire frames as if for all the world they could not understand what the hell we were doing there.

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Yet I didn’t care. We spent our evenings drinking Mojitos and boogying in our chairs to the sounds of Scottish folk warblers. The old timers may have pulled a few muscles on route to their 5th half lager shandy but we were ripe to party til the fun ended… at 10:30pm. We skipped the bingo night. Too much excitement. We re-named that Cocktail Night and Dads-First-Shot Night. Twas excellent 😀

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The strangeness of the entire situation; a relatively young family of three in a hotel full of people old enough to be my parents grandparent;, a 20 year old being absolutely not bored in a place that was essentially nothing but water too cold to swim in; trees to coniferous to climb and pubs too expensive to be worth the pints that are pulled there; was just another part of what made everything so perfect. I was finding solace in the predictable strangeness of the view outside my window. There was nothing new on any given day, except perhaps an extra smattering of drizzle. There was a peace in the quiet 20130828_165037of the hills I was constantly surrounded by. I don’t think the ancient wisdom of historic hills can be properly captured in text. Words are not enough to encompass the all consuming silence that resonated in them. They are so full of age that one feels dwarfed just driving through them. I got the impression that what I was doing was wrong – the only correct way to view these hills should be on foot. To be driving through seemed a travesty, indignation of the more insolent order.

But, as I am not currently able to walk those rocky roads, bus wheels it had to be. What I’m really looking for in this life is freedom. Despite being utterly static and restricted to their station by their own nature, the corries and peaks of the Ben Nevis region seem to have found that embody it, even, in a way that is zen and breathtaking.

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Next time, maybe I will get to see things from up high…

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SSDD

Time Travel

The question was posed to me today of Time Travel.

FromThePast2

Of all the super powers in the world to choose from, it’s actually not one I’ve really considered in depth. Quite a surprise since in essence, I’m quite a retrospective person. I like to plan, to look to the future and try to figure the paths before they have even been trod. I don’t like surprises, I like to be in control and to know the outcome before I embark upon a journey. Then again, when that fails, like the best made plans always do, my life subsides into a series of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments. Actually, that happens far more often than I would like… thought not as much now that I have more or less given up drinking (alcohol that is, not liquids in general… that’s just mighty impractical…).

The reason this question was asked of me was because this person was feeling melancholy and wished that he could undo things in his life so far, to make them better.

poster-past-webs

Perhaps your first reaction to this question tells something about the person. At first, I was cheeky – “If you had the ability to go back in time, what would you do with it?” At first, I said, “Use it :P”

Portrait of Oscar Wilde with Cane

Oscar Wilde, visionary author and all round wonderful, clever guy

My gut reaction was to go back and play Poirot; investigate, stalk some great thinkers. It would be interesting to go back to pivotal moments in the lives of certain people and see what it was that inspired them or made them do certain things. As a book lover, I would probably go back and stalk Oscar Wilde. The man was a visionary. Had be been born in this era, he would have been hailed as an imaginative genius, a hero of gay rights, a quirky, damaged, comedic maverick, his place in the trendy, hipster regions of London guaranteed. While all these things happened in his time, his life ended in exile, those rights stripped of him for his sexuality and ingenuity, not to be reinstated til a generation more receptive to his progressive views arose.

But it needn’t be famous people. Perhaps someone more ordinary, but important or interesting to you. My grandfather, for example, spent his entire life at sea, as a Chief Engineer. He visited over 120 ports all over the globe, in every exotic alcove, every far off crevice and limpet encrusted recess you could ever hope to name, in a career spanning almost half a century. Imagine the things he saw. To share such moments as those would be an experience like no other. And the world has moved on from those days. It has changed shape, technology metamorphosing it from flowing on billowing while sails to bleeping along in a blur of binary and sonar.

The person who posed the question was thinking more in terms of righting wrongs, both ones that had been done to him and ones that had come around as a consequence of sufferings of years ago. There are events in all our lives that echo down, down, down and impact us in very real ways.

3back-to-the-future-original

He wants to go back to change things, Marty McFly, Back to the Future style. But I am a big believer in your own history being the making of you. A lot of your life might suck and for sure there are going to be things that continue to sting, no matter how long you leave them for, or how much time has departed since those events took place, but all that makes you a richer person. I would certainly love to eradicate some of my regrets to ease my own conscience, but then, to balance that up, would that then make me a better person, or just a different one? And if it made me a different one, would I even like who I became as a result? Were we able to re-write our own key life events so that they worked “in our favour”, would we not be plainer people? To have never suffered is not really to have experienced all of life. To have only seen the good things, and known nothing but joy and ease of living is to have experienced only one surface of the many faceted diamond of life. You have only ever seen the shiny side. But there are all manner of clarities, colours and cuts of diamonds. Why limit ones self to seeing only one aspect of the gem?

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So I guess it got me to thinking; What if we could travel back in time? Forgetting the complexities of time travel and the potential for anything from the sweetly Hollywood version seen in Back to the Future, to the catastrophic tampering seen in The Butterfly Effect to happen, what would most people do if they could go to any time? And what would be the motivation?

Personally, I think I would leave my own past alone. I would travel back as an Observer, to understand more why certain things happened. They say knowledge is power. Whoever “they” are, or were, i think they’re onto something. Humans have this innate ability to adapt and survive and we will continue to do so. The fact that we can live our lives through horrors of increasingly unbelievable magnitude is proof of that.

Adolf Hitler

Maybe there will be some who think it criminal not to use such power for preventing some man-made atrocity, like the Holocaust. Or even, not going to the crib of Hitler, or Stalin, and smothering them before the evil had time to germinate. But think about the marks they left on history. Is there any way to predict the impact those events not happening would have had on an infinite number of lives through generations and countries alike? How could one individual possibly handle that level of onus? For something like to be eradicated, wiped clean, would change the fall life along history in unpredictable ways. Perhaps it would pave the way for something even worse. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That is one of my favourite sayings  because I believe it to be true.

Anyway, there you have it. Time Travel. For better or worse, the potential inspires retrospect. Whether you use that power for personal or public gain, is a question to battle with your own conscience.

Past

SSDD

Sympathy For Those (Bleeping) Call Center Operators

Packed Call Center Floor

Does anyone else find those poor souls in call centers irritating?

Well maybe you shouldn’t.

Here’s why… (I can already tell this isn’t going to be popular lol)

So here’s my thinking; maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on them. Sure, hardly a day goes by when the phone doesn’t ring and, sure enough, there will be that long, suspicious pause before the voice answers my “Hello?”. That pause that is just long enough for the penny to drop like a cold pill down my throat. There is no mistaking what it precedes.

When that crackle starts before the voice on the other end calls, just a little too loudly, “H-He…Hello? Hello.” To which I sigh a deep sigh of disappointment and dejectedly continue the pointless exchange with “Yes. Hello. What do you want?” I won’t be the only one who gets annoyed when they wait before replying again. To me this pause is almost as irritating as when a friend or someone you genuinely know calls you and then waits on the other end for you to say something – dude, you called me! What the hell’s with the silence!? – I feel that the ball falls to their court to decide the topic when it is them getting in touch with you, wouldn’t you agree?

Nevertheless. When the pityful connection finally gets through, the result is a forgone conclusion for an experienced cold-call operative – they will either be hung up on or given duggs abuse and then be hung up on. How do they know this? Because they will probably receive the same type of call the moment they get home.

Calls asking if they want double glazing – as if they didn’t already have it; a little hint to call centers, windows are not a new idea, people already have pretty good ones, the technique has been refined quite impressively these last hundred odd years and we tend to not go without them now. Then again, it would be an impressive estate agent who could sell a property lacking them – or a new, overpriced mobile phone with more features than will ever be needed on a contract they’ll be paying til they die.

Forget the whole issue of not agreeing with call centers being placed abroad by big companies to cut down costs – the corporate fat cats have got to find the money for their company funded holiday to the Maldives somehow – that’s a separate issue entirely. That is more a moral dilema.

And you thought you were having a bad day… She just got yelled at by an 85 year old woman!

But consider this. If we all find them so irritating, how do you think those people feel? To know the hate and frustration being blasted at them in waves down thousands of miles of electrical cable, every one of us hoping to fry their brains as efficiently as they are numbing ours while they simply try to do their jobs must be one of the most depressing workplaces it is possible to find! The loathing the recipient feels must be felt ten fold by the unfortunate operative.

This thought came to me when I received a call from what was possibly the most dejected sounding voice I have ever heard in my life. She seemed to take everything I have said here and express it in just her tone. With an utter hate for what she was doing, she had practically hung up before I had.

Sound harsh? That I still hung up on her even though it was clear she hated her job as much as I did?

Well, I hadn’t had this epiphany yet, so in my eyes, she had it coming 😉

The one nights’ experience I have as a phone operator for a charity event was enough to quell my conscience. 😀

So next time you’re getting ready to scream down the live about what a (bleeping) (bleep) that (bleep) who bothered you the minute you got home from work/got in the bath/sat down to dinner/started watching that show you’d been waiting for, think for a second; do you really hate them more than they hate themselves?