Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.
Ridicule and bullying are bad ones. Being on the end of it makes me murderously angry, genuinely. Not long after I moved into the place I’m in, the gay couple who live on the same floor as me decided to start making funny noises from behind their door every time I arrived back and was trying to get into my flat. The first time it was ‘no stop…stop hurting me’ as if someone was being abused. All very funny. It was just the once though, so I wasn’t bothered. But then again another night- mewling like cats this time. I had met and spoken to the two of them once before and the big tall one had made it apparent that he wasn’t impressed with me. So the second night of noises I was a little shaken. I shut my door and just stood in my living room with my head spinning. They knew I was here alone and that that kind of thing was going to make me uneasy. They knew all the ramifications of what they were doing. The anger that rose up in me at that, the injustice of it, making my life difficult for no fucking reason, drove me immediately out into the corridor to confront them. I could hear that they were leaving to go somewhere. To be fair, they are a pair of rather feminine, fitness model-type gay guys, so it could have been worse. The tall one tried to play the hard man with me out in the corridor, coming and squaring up to me- he had obviously expected me to be intimidated, the bastard. But he was rubbish at it. And it’s not difficult to intimidate me. So the situation was resolved easily. I just told them with conviction to fuck off, and they did.
I do want to say that I can’t be angry about this kind of thing because I’m as much of a dick as anyone. To be humble and balanced about it. But I’ve wracked my brain and no, I definitely wouldn’t victimise someone in a premeditated way, for sport. As a grown adult I wouldn’t dream of it. The people who do that are another species. Or just daft. It is a fact of life though, it has always gone on and always will. So seething with rage at those people as I’ve sometimes done is shooting myself in the foot. Even if I took them on and won they’ll respawn in another form, to the end of time. It’s necessary to stand your ground on occasion obviously, but with smaller scale outrages, when they happen, the true enemy is the behaviour, and nevermind the person. And I think the only way to direct the rage against the behaviour is to keep as much distance between it and my soul as possible- don’t let it anywhere near me to infect me- by being the living embodiment of courteousness. That’s what I’m thinking now, anyway. Easier said than done though clearly.
What was the #1 song when you were born? Write about how the song relates (or not!) to your personality.
It’s ‘I just called to say I love you’ by Stevie Wonder, or Steven Wonder, as he must have been originally. I don’t like that song at all. It’s miserable. I get frustrated even trying to sing that title line, with the dreary pace of it. You could get up and get a glass of juice in the dead air between ‘I just called’ and ‘To say’, then go ahead and make a sandwich and reply to a few emails before ‘I Love you’ finally arrives. You need the patience of a saint. I didn’t always hate it though. It was in the air when I was very young. In fact I was completely fascinated by it, this person calling to say ‘I love you’. It pulled back the curtain on a netherworld of adult autonomy and telephone use and making weird meaningful declarations to other people. And it wasn’t just some shit sentimental song, as I recognise it to be now, no- it was definitive; that’s what life was like out there mood-wise, I understood. Until the next song came along presumably.
When was the last time you really wanted (or needed) to say something, but kept quiet? Write a post about what you should’ve said.
Near Dublin city center a couple of years ago I passed someone in the street who was obviously in a terrible place mentally. He was a big overweight boulder of a man of about forty, with a buzz cut, in need of a wash, wearing knackered sportswear. He was stood on the pavement, at 10 in the morning, ranting and howling unintelligibly at the ground ahead of him with a ferocious energy that was startling. He was red in the face from the effort- it was a scary spectacle. I had just come out of a newsagents nearby and had stopped to put stuff in my bag when he took up his post on the pavement near me.
Maybe this guy is just a Dublin fixture, old Barmy Gerry or something, and any Dubliner reading this would laugh at how solemn I’m being about it all. In the heat of the moment I did in fact react something like that. I turned to a man standing at the entrance to the newsagent and gave him a nervous little smirk, like ‘What’s with this guy?’ The man at the newsagents just glared at me, which was what that reaction deserved. To answer the prompt, I should have not been a twerp and immediately said or done something helpful instead.
When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment?
I’m embarrassed by myself a lot. It’s something I’d like to get under control. It’s often when I’m trying to avoid potential embarrassment that I really embarrass myself. For instance refusing to turn and face my friend head-on in the open plan showers after squash, week after week, unmentioned by both of us, for a whole year in 2010. I’d either get undressed quickly and duck round a merciful corner in the shower room before anyone else could get to that one, or shower with my arse to the room then hurry back to my towel. I’m fine, Joe Average, in that department- if what I read on the internet and what I’ve been told is correct. But Goddamn if I’m not a grower at times. I suppose that was pathetic though. I failed that test of my mettle that men, but not women for some reason, have to deal with in terms of how changing rooms are laid out. Failed it big time. Not an adult, for all to see. That friend is back visiting just now and he’s not so ready with the text messages any more, despite us being the closest of friends back in the day. The memory of that changing-room debacle has stopped me in my tracks several times today, where all I can do is just gasp ‘Oh God’.
My major challenge of the last six months was furnishing the flat I moved into, to which end I used the savings I had from a very fortunate purchase and sale of bitcoin in 2013. I dreaded the task and thought about hiring an interior decorator. Decorating and even dressing and stuff is always more about self-assertion than self-expression with me. Trying to position myself a certain way to outside eyes over an entire flat was not a fun prospect. Plus the interior decorator, namely a cool girl, would charge just 15% of the price of the stuff to make all the choices for me.
I couldn’t bring myself to hire one in the end though. I thought I couldn’t live with myself if I ducked that responsibility. It’s a rite of passage, doing up your first home. I saw it in an ad for Mastercard once- the young woman covering a crack in her wall with her new mirror from the fleamarket, then dancing around her new living room in joy. Priceless. What kind of monster would I be to hide in the gloom while some girl comes in and does these things for me? I’d be barely human. And then to live in an environment someone else has created. It would have been a capitulation. On top of that, one of the first things I found was a nice lamp which I liked with instinctive certainty. That encouraged me to keep going with the rest.
But as it turns out the lamp was nearly a one-off (a two-off- I like the table I bought too). Everything else was a complete ordeal of endless second-guessing and I’m only lukewarm about the result. Being able to create a pleasant home for myself would be good but I’ve found out that for me it’s more worry than it’s worth. If I ever had to do this again I would give the 15% to a decorator. It wouldn’t be giving in to weakness, it would be the smart move.