Dead Calm

There was a pile of recordable VHS tapes in my house growing up. They were stored in the cabinet below the TV at one stage, then later on they were relegated to the end cupboard in the little study room. My dad had an extra one stashed away at the top of his wardrobe I discovered. It was labelled ‘The hand that rocks the cradle’ and, as it happened, genuinely was ‘The hand that rocks the cradle’. I think there was a pattern to the stuff my dad recorded off the TV, because the only other full movies in the general pile were the ocean-set Dead Calm, Basic Instinct, and Someone to Watch Over Me, all of which are also about cheating, with maybe a ‘wicked woman’ to blame, and that being an exciting thing. In other news, I quite like this song:

 

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I Just Called to Say I Love You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Your Number One.”

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.

Not an Adult

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Isn’t Your Face Red.”

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’.

Viva Forever

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

I can’t recall ever having a pleasant dream. My dreams are always fraught these days. I would guess the reason for this is the fact that I’m missing important shit from my life, like fulfilling work, love and sex. Any one of those sorted and I’d probably sleep well again. The hour before my alarm goes off is the worst for demented dreaming. This morning it was a woman and me exchanging videos of her having sex. Only she was visible in the videos, looming over a low angle camera pointing upwards. I’d send her one and say ‘you’, then she’d send me one back saying ‘me’. But overshadowing it all was this terrible feeling that she was in fact a transexual man. (I’ve had transexuality on the brain lately. I think it’s having a moment) Then the alarm on my phone kicked in. It couldn’t tune radio 4 this morning so it went to its second option, some European pop station I had decided on at random, to broaden my horizons. Viva Forever by the Spice Girls was playing. What a tune, with sporty spice echoing back each line of the chorus in her silly Liverpool accent. I lay there listening, in that adrenaline pumping yet physically exhausted state of discomfort that I’m always waking to lately.

Rested and ready for the day

Rested and ready for the day

 

 

 

Kitchen Cupboard

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I thought for a bit of fun I’d do a post on the contents of my kitchen cupboard. Pretty pathetic, but I never claimed to be Ernest fucking Hemingway.

There’s some Uncle Ben’s boil in the bag rice at the top left. Uncle Ben is operating at the very top of his game right now. This stuff is amazing, much better than the own-brand alternative. Easily worth the extra pound.

Lots of tuna next to that. Lovely tuna, chicken of the sea. For lunch mostly.

Noodles, penne and linguine packs next. About the only proper meal I cook at the minute involves the noodles. Noodles with prawns and ginger and chilli’s. I used to use a lot of those stir in sauce tubs sitting in front of the pasta. Less so these days. What even is it? They just sit there at room temperature and don’t go off for a year. I’m suspicious of them now.

Below is a box of some ‘light’ popcorn, because I’m a complete woman. I’ve actually struggled with popcorn a bit since the scene in Arachnophobia where the big ignoramus couple sit down in their dressing gowns with a bowl of popcorn to watch Jeopardy, and as the guy dunks his hand in the bowl, with his eyes glued to the tv, a little black spider emerges from below the top layer to deliver it’s lethal bite. It’s just the spider being about the same weight and shape as a bit of popcorn that’s so shudder inducing to me.

Going left there’s some more tuna, then beans and some bargain tinned dinners for when I really can’t be bothered. Chicken Jalfrize and tinned meatballs. Pretty shameful. I have some chickpeas back there too. I got excited about chickpeas a couple of years ago but I’m over it.

On the bottom shelf there’s some bread sitting on top of some own-brand fruit and fiber cereal. The cereal has no fruit in it whatsoever! It’s just bran flakes. I put my hand in and scooped right to the bottom and all. I’m tempted to write a letter of complaint. I’ll have to get Kellogg’s next time, but that shit is seriously expensive. The bread sitting on top is this Northern Ireland’s own thing. It’s extremely doughy, like 200 calories a slice. It’s a real treat but as with the pasta sauce I’m wary.

The box with the green side is sea salt. Huge great shards of it. It’s great. You can almost eat it by itself. Then some vinegar next to that. I originally bought that vinegar to add to the bucket to mop my floor. The whole flat stank of vinegar for several days, so I’ve reverted to classic vinegar use- strictly food.

There are some spices and stuff next, renaissance man that I am. I’d very much recommend the coffee there- Nescafe Azera. It’s rich and creamy ‘barista style’ instant coffee. It’s fantastic. Who cares about coffee machines and what have you. Instant coffee would have blown your mind a few centuries ago. I’m happy enough with it. The white containers are some supplements for my joints- fish oil and ‘glucosamine hydrochloride and chondroitin’. Absolute bullshit. Do nothing in all likelihood. Rarely remember to take them. I sometimes leave them on the worktop to remind myself but if anyone is coming they go back in the cupboard, so it doesn’t look like a convalescent home.

 

Ice Cream Challenge

A daily post prompt: A local ice cream parlor invites you to create a new wacky flavor. It needs to channel the very essence of your personality. What’s in it?

My goal is tasteful unremarkableness these days. That’s the ideal. It’s a strategy rather than the essence of my personality, I reckon. There’s an urge in me to defy. I tried to make fashion statements at university. Not a feather boa exactly, but things like oddly patterned cardigans and black boots instead of trainers. It was a strenuous, joyless effort to look cool in an alternative kind of way. But there was no ease, so no cool. I should have and still should take Henry Rollins’ example and just own being awkward, gauche, a bit of a clenched psycho. Doing that would be a major lifestyle choice though, it looks like. I think I’ll just continue to lack integrity but at least know my place while I’m at it. So anyway I was a lonely reject for a lot of university and deservedly so. Now I avoid like the plague being arch in any way, which is good. I feel like I was doing the wrong thing then and now I’m doing the right thing, despite the bad rap ‘conformity’ gets.

I do like some element of fun, once I’m sure I’m doing things as they should be done on the whole. In my flat that would be my beloved boldly coloured bedsheets- purple with black pillows and black with green pillows. Then on my person it’s my purple t-shirt which I wear going out sometimes with my inoffensive grey hoodie and jeans.

So in terms of the ice-cream flavour, there’d have to be vanilla. Then a scoop of garlic seems right, looking at a list of ice-cream flavours on wikipedia. And raspberry ripple. I’m happy enough with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Whole Existence is Flawed

In the middle of making dinner tonight I had a little moment of clarity. I realised that I perceive there to be something fundamentally wrong with me, in any and all my interactions with people and in the way I conduct my life. There’s just something I’m doing that’s not right, is the feeling.

When I did cognitive behavioural therapy the goal was to identify a negative core belief like that one, then work to shift it to something more positive by challenging it day to day. The shift didn’t happen for me. For one thing, the time the program required was asking too much. You had to take little notes of your problem-thoughts all day long and then systematically challenge them in the evening with counter questions and ideas. It could have been that I was using a bad book, but just today on the radio I heard that cognitive behavioural therapy, when used in working with convicted paedophiles, had zero impact on reoffending levels- which suggests it’s not the most powerful technique in the world.

There were interesting elements though. One of the key exercises was to identify finally the core belief that needed to be shifted. I have the feeling there really is a core belief there. At the time I never did manage to get it into words despite mulling over it for quite a long time on a few occasions. But it seemed to come into focus more tonight. There’s a faint welling-up of teary emotion going on somewhere in me just now when I think about it. I still can’t put it into words precisely which is odd. There’s some feeling of inadequacy involved. But it’s more that I deserve to be scorned and I have no prospect of a joyful life. All my schemes, big and small, are undermined by the thought ‘You know how that’s going to end up’. It’s not always a conscious thought but is always acknowledged on some deep and convincing level. It’s a total bummer. Why isn’t it my default attitude to be excited by possibilities, rather than this?

There’s anger rising in me at the thought of people putting my avoidance behaviour and negativity down to cowardice or immaturity. Are most people actually dealing with this kind of built-in handicap, but bearing it by means of strong character/better strategy? Or do most people have positive core beliefs? Does anyone have a positive core belief? Lucky fucking bastard if do.

I’m attracted to the idea of turning a new leaf this minute and working as hard and as smart as I can at everything I do, with no let-up. Like there might be some redemptive power of hard work that would rid me of all this. But then I can see there have been times where I’ve worked hard and still felt less-than or weird when I had to talk to people. And also hard work isn’t enough in some instances. Styling yourself, decorating a room and things like that, hard work doesn’t cut it. You need a positive self-image in place first to have any peace with those things.

For now I’ll say that CBT doesn’t work and that the best way for anyone to start to develop a positive self-image would be to work hard at something they’re well-suited to.