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New Year. A new start. A blank canvass. Time to turn over a new leaf. Let auld acquaintance be forgot. Etc. This is why I spent New Year back in Kent (where I grew up) with Vic, Caz, Hilzo, (who I grew up with), and Carl (our fourth New Year together.) We drank too much, smoked too much (which I should have grown out of) and talked about everything we’d done since LAST year. Last time we’d all been together was last New Year, when we did exactly the same thing. Oh well, start as you mean to go on.
The Queen’s honours list is out. I’ve decided to do my own: “Servants of Bel’s World, behold the honoured “Order of Bel’s Enemies.” For their continuing destruction of the planet, their crimes against humanity and their arrogance, Rise Sir Dubya, and Sir Blair, you have been Knighted in the ranks of Bel’s Enemies. For enlightening the world with his tuneless, brainless ranting, and for daring to call his stuff “music”, I honour Eminem, OBE. For his continuing efforts to irritate the entire nation Every Bloody Night on Channel 4, I honour Graham Norton. (or should he be made a Dame?)
A new play idea is forming in my head, but the idea is too small to bother with at the moment. Bizarrely enough, I was feeling inspired after watching the new Star Trek film, even though the play has NOTHING to do with sci-fi, mechanoids, forehead ridges or bald blokes in lycra. Going to the cinema blasted my stereotypical idea of a Trekkie though. Sure, lots of single balding blokes in the audience, but the carpark wasn’t full of Robin Reliants with “Glad to be sad” stickers on the boot. Not too impressed with Picard, either. No-one can beat Kirk
Just finished reading Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men”. Bloody funny. I think someone (me?) should write a British version… “British Bull(dog) Shit” springs to mind. Tony Blair may be able to string a sentence together, and he didn’t exactly steal the election like Bush, but our archaic electoral system means that more voted against Blair than for him, in both elections. We have all these “debates” in the media about Europe and the Euro, yet Blair doesn’t even bother consulting Parliament about “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with Bush on this war on “terrorism.” (War On Those Who Don’t Supply Us With Oil?)
Home sweet home. More like home bloody-freezing home. The fish survived our two-week absence anyway, so it can’t have been that cold. Enormous pile of post, but all bank statements (Terrifying!!), a pitiful number of Christmas cards, an incomprehensible but very sweet letter from Peru (finally!), and that’s it. Nothing to say Samuel French are going to publish our script, despite the extremely brown-nosed letter that accompanied it. Nothing at all about Nicaragua, either from Uni or from the NSC. Snivel. Methinks we should go away for another week to give the postman a chance to bring me something more interesting.
Tell me, am I over reacting here? If a ‘friend’, who quite frankly, you’d rather not spend more time with than you have to, suddenly invites himself to stay with you for a week, then decides not to, but doesn’t tell you he’s changed his mind until a few days beforehand, wouldn’t you be a tad INFURIATED?! And if this wasn’t the first time he’s done this, would you confront him? I did. And I got sarcastic comments about he’d “forgotten how selfish he is”, like I’m deliberately making him feel bad. So now I’m the enemy again. Screw him.
Tequila: the taste of the exotic. Well, it kinda tastes like how wood smells, if that makes sense. Thinking about going to Nicaragua. I really really can’t wait. I have to make it happen. Somehow. There’s a phrase in Spanish, “tengo ganas” – it means so much more that “to look forward to”, or “I’m excited about”. I remember talking to Katy about language differences once. From her German viewpoint, it’s possible to be extremely vague and unspecific in English. But at the same time, she thought it was difficult to express extreme emotion in English. Therefore, “tengo ganas sobre Nicaragua.”
Woke up far too quickly, and freezing cold, producing a bad mood. Plus I’m feeling fat. So, I stubbornly decided to walk into Durham. If that didn’t cure things, then the world could go hang. Fortunately it did. A most peculiar feeling… crunching along in inch-deep frozen snow, down the edge of the dual-carriageway. For eight miles. The snow falls, fast but gently, more like cold, white, rain, but despite getting soaked, I am sweating. My hair freezes, but the sun is shining, and I am blinded by the glare off the snow. The sky is pale yellow and bloated.
Watched Buffy tonight for the first time in ages…. I admit I’m not an obsessive fanatic, but things seem to have changed far too drastically for me to comprehend! Angel obviously gets paid more working for the other channel, but what has happened to Cordelia and Giles? I’m glad they got them out of school finally – SMG has NEVER looked 16! Buffy and Spike? Wha..? What is up with that accent anyway?! Where’s the dopey vampire femme gone? And Willow… we love you! don’t leave!! Isn’t turning Willow into a lesbian hampering to the male audience just a tad here?
I have a job. Woohoo! This is a major major relief, as I was beginning to wonder if I could afford to survive this year at uni. I have less than £300 to last until April. But thanks to the wonders of Third World cash-crops, I now get to serve coffee in Café Nero for as many hours as I can fit round uni. And I get as much coffee as I can drink, free food, a wage exceeding the national minimum for once, and a naff t-shirt. So basically, my university career has been saved by my caffeine addiction!
Started writing a letter in fountain pen, the cheap ones with the little plastic cartridges sealed with a tiny ball. Changing the cartridges made me think of Primary School, when I was 8 or 9. I used to have an Enemy, called Richard, who I sat opposite. We divided up the desk, and it was an Act of War to trespass on the opposing state’s half of the desk. To keep the peace, we began trading – we carefully sliced open these plastic cartridges and used the tiny balls inside as currency. I had hundreds, until I got fined for trespass.
Set the scene. The not too distant future. A party with no life in it. People, not old enough to have much of a past, but who prefer to think of then, than to worry about the future. Each of them has an ideal future in their head, but as usual, they’re talking of Old Time. Times when events seemed like major crises, when in hindsight they were ultimately meaningless. Someone, trying to revive childhood naivety, suggests they play Hide and Seek. They all scatter and make themselves inconspicuous, but instead of counting, she hesitates, but then just walks away.
I am waiting for the phone to ring. This seems to be becoming a habit. This time, I’m waiting for Café Nero to decide a) if they are actually gonna give me the job, or b) if they aren’t, are they gonna pay me for the shift I worked? The phone remains stubbornly silent, maliciously refusing to co-operate. I’d also like Carl to ring and tell me how his exam went. Sophie said she’d call when she’s finally back in Durham. However, the only call I’ve got all day was some guy asking for Jamie the electrician. RING, DAMN YOU!!
Carl’s flat mings. I never noticed how much until we returned after a month’s absence. It’s freezing – no central heating. The landlord provided heaters for each bedroom, but that still leaves the bathroom and living room unheated. I say bathroom, there’s no bath, only a cold shower with a blocked plughole. Carl’s room has blue furry mould growing on the ceiling. The floorboards are outlines on the carpet where the damp oozes between them, rotting the carpet. Since we’ve been gone, a large A/C fan, two smashed-up kitchen units and a Christmas tree have appeared in the front yard. Lovely.
Got a text this evening: “I hate uni life! Fancy running off to a foreign country and never coming back?” That was from Vic. The answer is: YES!!!! See you at the airport!!! You have no idea, dear reader, how tempting that is, especially since the next message was “You can take Carl with you!” Seriously, the only reason I don’t is simply Money. I’m not 20 yet. There is still plenty of time to do this degree. I hate this town, I have very little social life and Carl Is Not Here often. So why am I still here?
Has anyone ever tried typing on a computer when neither the backspace or the enter keys work? Trust me, it is nigh on impossible. An exercise in accuracy perhaps. Or perhaps a result of too much coffee spilt on the keyboard. I am bored enough to notice these things, and ponder their universal significance. My brain is melting again. There’s a poll on the uni website at the moment, “Is restarting on 20th Jan a) Late, b) Very late c) Obscenely late or d) Not as late as Oxford?” I vote for Obscenely Late to the point of mind-numbing tedium.
Reality check #1: Carl convinced me we ought to go to the library today and get some work done. Work did not get done. At my most infuriated point, (after irritated, passing frustrated, close to losing it) Sophie appeared, as if from nowhere. In her fairy Godmother-esque way, she took me for a coffee, and within half and hour has convinced me that Uni life is worht living. I like this girl. She asked me what I'd do if I wasn't at uni. And that's not something I have an answer for. My dream world has been quashed for now.
Reality Check #2: It is two days before term starts and I'm doing an essay worth 20% of this module. As usual, I've left it to the last minute, making it up as I go along, and scraping the bottom of the metaphorical barrel for references and sources. The essay is about modern day use of magic in Western culture, so I am currently writing about how our blind faith in technology allows us to fly in aeroplanes without understanding how they work. Technology is the New Magic. I am totally immersed in information, and actually, I'm really enjoying it.
Essay extract: “Stivers describes a rise in ‘Technopaganism’ in the United States, in particular a group called “Temple Ov Psychick Youth” or TOPY. This group believes the computer is a ‘magic machine’, and that computer technology is now a spiritual medium. (Stivers, 1999) “The computer creates a Universe of information and in doing so, promotes a mystical identification with itself. Its devotees become connoisseurs of information that at a certain level of ingestion provokes ecstasy.” (Stivers, 1999:5) This is obviously not a mainstream form of belief in magic, however, technology has advanced so much that this is not entirely implausible.”
The First Day Back At Uni: It is Monday and I have a 9am lecture. It is raining and cold. No less than three buses fail to appear, and the fourth is late. I have now been standing in the rain for 35 minutes. This bus is packed and the driver won't let me on uuntil I beg and swear. I arrive, dripping, 25 minutes late for an hour long lecture. What a surprise, Sophie and Shoo haven't turned up either. Already teh computer system has crashed and the Anthropology Department have messed up the time table again. Welcome back!
Trying to convince Shoo to come back to Durham: 1. We miss her! 2. Lectures are unbearable without her sarcastic comments 3. Mark and Sparks cheese and chocolate cake 4. Fenwicks may have to close without her custom! 5. Cheap booze in Uni bars 6. It hasn't rained all day, that's nearly 3.5 hours! Tropical Paradise! 7. Ann Widdecombe might come back to the debating group 8. Klutes got voted the worst night club in Britain, how can she miss that? 9. Nowhere else is there such an absorbent carpet.as VM college 10. It's my birthday soon! Party!!! Decent food!
I really cannot handle uni at the moment. Sat through a lecture on Solid Geometry and stats, because the lecturer mistakenly thought we were natural science students. No Sophie, due to “acute alcohol-related illnesses”. Sitting there, it occurred to me that I don’t know a single person in the class without her or Shoo. Mark practically ordered me to sort out The Dreaded Theatre Finances, but has lost the paperwork, and turned his phone off when I rang up to moan. And, Carl has gone again. The only person I felt I could call was Vic. Says a lot, methinks.
Dysnumeric? Is that a word? This computer doesn’t recognize it. I mean dyslexia, but with numbers. Cathy claims to suffer from it. As for me, I think I’m numerophobic. A stats project concerning the diameters of femur bones reduced me to tears this morning. Eventually, the computer vomited a complicated-looking table at me. Although it was apparently intentional, I have no idea what the numbers actually mean. Later Carl had to explain why a can of paint claiming to cover 35 square metres didn’t actually cover an area 35m by 35m. That is 35 squared, not 35 square. Not logical.
Saw Mark this morning, which was cool. He reckons he’s gonna read these words, and I’m now paranoid that he’s gonna get insulted. Maybe I should title this “Reality Check #3” We chatted about uni, and he admitted he’s getting worried about ‘joining the big wide world’. In all honesty, I have been semi-consciously squashing all concerns about The Big Wide World for quite a while now. And if I’m really honest, Uni is not that bad. I can cope if I try. It is missing Carl that makes me feel so low sometimes. Meanwhile, Mark wants more unreality bubbles.
What is the world coming to, when even fish are committing suicide? I am not kidding, Mr Loach voluntarily leapt out of his tank this morning, in a last desperate bid to escape this cruel, cruel world. I think our tank is a microcosm for the real world. Islington the Angelfish has had to be vaccinated against some form of biological warfare: the water was poisoned by terrorfish while we were away. Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Catfish, normal voters from Middle-Tank, are protesting against our enforced regime, marching round and round the Plastic Snail, demanding democracy. The Tank, at War.
Yesterday, I met my second-cousin for the first time. Made me think about how you talk to complete strangers. What both of us really wanted to ask was “Who the hell are you?” but how exactly do you answer that? You cannot explain yourself that easily, so instead you ask, Where are you from? What are you studying? What sort of music are you in to? Mindless things. Knowing where someone is from or what course they’re doing does not define the person. But maybe, the way they answer the questions will tell you far more than the answers themselves.
Brain contents: Cousins in hats and overdrafts and orangutans’ maxillary sinuses and missing Shoo and Game theory and blocked nose and Carl’s exam results and postmodernism and Nicaragua and parties and landscape design and over-emotional blokes and must-clean-the-bath-out and text messages and anti-war demos and seminars on reciprocity and Gran and agoraphobics at jumble sales and stats and size of butt and photos and dry skin and transsexuals and the smell of pesto and the word counter and hair dye and BEER and four more days til Carl Day and Being Old Soon and tortillas and the back gate banging.
Nearly the end of another month. My little box of printed 100words is beginning to overflow now. (This is what happens if no-one buys me a diary for Christmas!) Hopefully, Mum will have stuck at this and finished the month too. That’ll be weird, reading her stuff. I read some that she’d started but couldn’t put online, for December. All about my brother, not that that’s unexpected. Her stuff is far more personal than mine. Or maybe I just write on a day-to-day basis rather than about memories. Still, it will be interesting to read them both side by side.
“Sophie’s bored already, Mark’s worrying about his grade….Feels like our enthusiasm at the start of the year is already beginning to fade. I think we’ve all just got a serious case of Right In the Middle Blues…. Why are we all so low? Why we aren’t we having a ball? If we knew how depressing this place would turn out we would never have started at all…. It’s all ok, we can’t run away we’ve all got too much to lose, we’ve all just got a serious case of Right In The Middle, Stats are a fiddle, Second Year Bloo-oo-ues…..”
I've escaped! I am in Edinburgh! I am also rather gutted. This place is fantastic! As pretty as Durham, but far larger, far more full of life. Why oh why did Edinburgh Uni reject me? Life would've been so different... It has been gloriously sunny all day, which also bugs me, I came here to play in the snow! Durham was all icy and white when I left, but there isn't a spec of snow North of The Border. On the upside, the trip has made me feel a whole lot better about life. AND I tried (and liked) Haggis.
Really do feel better after my little escapade to Scottie-land. (although snow and 70mph winds have left me with an interesting wind-burnt face, I have conspicuously white eyelids!!) Better still, CARL IS BACK!!! I know I write this every single Friday, but I can’t express how much this means to me, being able to cuddle him properly, someone to share my big cold bed, someone to cook for! He couldn’t believe I’d just taken off to Scotland without telling him. But apparently me being happy makes him even happier, so it all works out in the end. I love him.
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