The Joke

It’s like being told a joke where the punchline passes over your head. A lifetime of “it’s funny, you just had to be there”.

The joke doesn’t make sense. You don’t understand it, or why people are laughing.

And everyone is laughing. Some more quietly than others, some in loud whooping chuckles which threaten to deafen you but still laughing. To them the joke is funny. To you, it’s just words.

You take it apart. You look at the mechanics. You try and work out what it is that you need to understand the joke. To make it funny.

It is still just words on a page.

You can tell the joke perfectly. Delivering the punchline with comedic precision and a bright smile. People laugh. People don’t notice that your laughter is a little bit more hollow than theirs, a little more forced.

Other people don’t find it funny. They stand there patiently while a friend, wiping away tears of mirth, explains why they should be laughing. They meet your gaze in shared bewilderment.

It is not as though the joke it important, you reason. You don’t need to understand it to life your life. But it is everywhere. From music to billboards to television, they tell this joke over and over again. And still people laugh.

Sometimes you tell people that you don’t get it. That to you, it’s not funny. They sigh and say “well, maybe you’ve just not heard it right” and maybe, maybe they’re right. Maybe if you wait long enough someone will come along and tell the joke properly, make it funny in a way you can understand.

No one comes.

Occasionally though you find yourself smiling. Not at the joke, but the person telling it. The lips behind the words, the sparkling eyes behind the humour. They know other jokes, other stories and those…the quieter stories, the softer jokes…some of them are funny to you. Some of them make sense.

They don’t niggle at you in a pervading sense of confusion. You listen and you smile.

And occasionally…

You laugh.

Environmental Inheritance

Do you ever sit and watch your parents carefully store what is essentially worthless junk, because of its great sentimental value? And as you sit there and watch them you know that fifty years later, once you have accumulated the detritus of your own life, that “priceless” object, under the new pressure of different eyes, will be thrown out?

That’s a bit like conservation management.

We are bubble wrapping our natural environment so it is protected against the bull-in-a-china-shop presence of humanity. The thought is that we are holding the natural world in our clumsy hands for our grandchildren, who will, smiling happily, thank us for our great efforts at safeguarding.

Will our children thank us for holding these sites in stasis? For protecting and preserving against the tide of outside influence? It’s possible that like us and our parents, they may have different properties. Already we can see the pressures our grandchildren will face. We are running out of space every year as the demand for housing overrules the so-called protection of green belts. The global demand for food and energy is steadily increasing and our children may prioritise farmland over peat bogs.

Surely it’s better to focus on integrating our high-pressure modern world with our natural environment? To create cities with green streets and buildings rather than the juxtaposition of a concrete sprawl blurring into a thin ribbon of green.

The answer to the future lies in sustainable development. We can’t save everything and we shouldn’t try to. Our children, when it comes down to it, will choose to save themselves.

GISHWHES!!!!!

GISHWHES STARTS IN 3 HOURS.

 

No, I’m not over reacting, you’re overacting.

Acting I’m not reacting at all, I’m down with a cold so the only major emotion I can manage right now is resigned sleepiness.

I’m waiting for my team mates, a global team of women who are all Supernatural fans to wake up (they’re mostly in America) and then we’re going to wait for the list of items to be posted.

 

EEEEEEE

I slept till 10

I slept till ten this morning, a rare luxury. I also had my first hot shower in 31 days, for which I am eternally grateful.

I’ve finished that stint at the summer camp in Edinburgh. The work was largely illegal, and the pay criminal, but there were some high points.

I met a group of people. It’s extremely strange to be thrust into a group of strangers and then have to spend your every waking moment with them for the next month. I imagine it is similar to what people living on oil rigs go through. So there we were, all of us exhausted and fed up and reliant on each other for human contact and compassion. I adored sharing meals with twelve other people, everyone having sixteen different conversations on top of each other, joking and fighting and simply existing in the same space as each other.

And I met B. Who I, by all reason and sense, should not have gotten on with. By first glance, he’s a sport obsessed, fitness nut of a lad, essentially my anthesis. But somehow I developed a (mutual, I’m relieved to say) attraction for him. Romantic, not physical. And, he made shit days significantly better, he made me laugh, he made me happy. And he kissed me. (Just once.) And I will probably never see him again.

And I signed on to do it again. In two weeks, after I’ve done GISHWHES, I’m heading down to London to do the whole thing all over again.

 

………it’s entirely possible I’ve lost my mind.

 

Day 5

In the last 5 days I have seen:

  • More data entry forms than I have ever wanted to
  • A group of fifteen people eating wedges of watermelon with knives and forks
  • Italian teenagers
  • So many Italian teenagers
  • The airport
  • The lost baggage part of the airport
  • 300 rooms (all of which had to be individually checked)
  • A very cute administrator
  • And so many signs.

I have been complained to by so, so many people. I’ve run trips and picked students up from the airport and led tours and done office filing and I have kept my cool. Just.

This morning 15 became 13 as two members of staff left. One literally at 4 am. Without telling anyone. He just went, left his keys in his room and just vanished leaving us desperately trying to fill his gap. And then we lost another one in the afternoon, she’s gone home to see the doctor.

We were understaffed, to begin with. Now we are extremely understaffed. A friend told me that this company is operating illegally. I worked from 8:30 to 23:00 today with only one break for lunch, which was twenty minutes. I’m exhausted. They keep holding staff meetings at 11 pm, so we don’t get to bed until 12, but we have to be working again by 7 am.

I’m starting to go a little bit insane.

Day 1

Arrived at the new job today. Working in Edinburgh with Italian kids who are learning English.

My parents dropped me off which was awkward because I was trying not to embarrass myself and worried that I may have upset them in the process. Sigh. Hopefully my day off will be one of the days my mum has in Edinburgh. Which would be nice to visit her.

It probably won’t be Sunday which means I won’t make it to church for a month.

There’s been lots of information thrown at me today, about what the managers do and important places and phone numbers.

The only thing is…I really wish someone would tell me what my job is.

Old Friends

My birthday is coming up soon and while cleaning my room today I came across my pile of last years birthday cards. Cards from my parents, my sister, my flatmate, my flatmate’s parents (bizarrely) and one from my best friend.

Best friend was, at the time, the best way I had to describe my relationship with S. We’d been friends since high school when I dated a good friend of his for three years. When we graduated we started meeting up for coffee occasionally while giggling about how grown up we were being, and texting and, by the time I got into college we were firm friends in out own right, outside of my ex’s influence.

And we were friends. We cared about each other, communicated constantly, met up for events, talked, hugged and relied upon each other for support. I used the term “best friend” because that was the best way I had to describe a relationship with a person I trust entirely. Not only with my body, but also my emotions, my fears and my hopes. I am not one to trust easily and my unceasing paranoia means that I tend to trust in increments. My current flatmate was dismayed to discover I trusted him…but only to a certain extent. I trust him enough to share a home with him, but not with the rest of me. Not with what is really important.

So there was S, a key part of my life. We “dated”, if you can really call it that, twice.

The first time, I knew he’d been working his way up to kissing me for weeks. I could just see it on his face. And I wasn’t averse to the idea, I loved this guy after all, so I went along with it. And it…it…

It was a mistake.

I walked out of his flat that evening and texted my flatmate because I literally didn’t have anyone else to talk to. I said, “I think I just made a really big mistake“.

There is a big difference between loving someone and being in love with them.

We broke up after a few weeks and it was an awkward for a while. But I persisted in maintaining our friendship and he got a girlfriend so eventually, the awkwardness just burned itself out. We were as close as we had ever been, he lost the girlfriend and my touch starved soul got all the cuddling it could possibly hope to have.

And then I worked out my asexuality. I realised that my ambivalence to sex or kissing wasn’t because I was broken but because that was the way it just was for me. I told S and he was amazing about it. Educated himself and we continued on as always.

And then we started dating for the second time. I don’t know what it was about us if it was just we both got really really lonely around Christmas but we repeated almost the exact same pattern of behavour…except, I didn’t.

I began to think that maybe I could be in love with him. He was clearly attracted to me and cared about me a great deal and, I faked attraction on and off for three years, I know how to look at a man and make him think I want him.

I sound like a mercenary.

There was some conflict, some strife and eventually one long excruciatingly awkward conversation that resulted in the conclusion that we liked each other a lot, we wanted to be together but I wouldn’t sleep with him so he would be okay to see other girls on the side. An Open Relationship, we called it.

The thing is I went into that conversation knowing that this was it. This was the moment that would make or break things. Either everything would work or it wouldn’t and I’d lose him from my life completely.

I really, really, wish I hadn’t been right about that one. We broke up after Christmas mostly because of my ace-ness, and following that I watched our friendship decline. I did try and save it, but that requires two people and now I haven’t heard from him in months.

Infuriatingly now I have the vocabulary to deal with the relationship I was having. Queer Platonic Relationship or QPR is an intense, emotional relationship that is not familial or romantic in nature. Within the ace community, they are often committed relationships and it was only after struggling with my romantic identity (still struggling with that one tbh) that I discovered exactly what I had been feeling and dealing with.

Perhaps it was always doomed to failure. Perhaps it is impossible to form a QPR with someone who feels sexual attraction regularly. I don’t know.

All I know is that now, my birthday is rolling around again and I’m alone. No boyfriend, no QPR, no best friend…and no one I trust enough to let in.

Vengeful Cooking

I got into a fairly massive argument with my sister today in which she kindly insinuated that I was overweight (which meant a lot coming from her 8 stone self) and that if/when I had children it would be akin to child abuse to feed them my cooking because of how unhealthy and disgusting it is.

Firstly, my cooking is not unhealthy. I’m vegetarian and eat a lot of vegetables. Okay, it’s not that unhealthy. Also I am a good cook. I have hosted dinner parties!

Secondly, my sister really, genuinely does not grasp why someone would want to live on food that makes them happy rather than just existing on lettuce.

So I made dinner for the pair of us in the most passive-aggressive manner possible because I am a mature adult who doesn’t resort to pouring glasses of water of people’s heads. (That being my mother’s speciality bizarrely.)

Fuck-You-I’m-Happy Pastabake

Ingredients:  Some Pasta (you can pick which shape you like), vegetarian hot dogs (I used Sainsbury’s but any supermarket brand will do. Just don’t use the Quorn ones, they’ve got a really weird skin on them), tomatoes (tinned or fresh), thyme, soy sauce, pepper, onion, garlic (I used puree, but if you’ve got fresh go for it), tomato puree, sugar,  olives, cheese (liberal).

  1. Set a pan of water on the stove to boil. Turn on stove. Add frozen hot dogs to cold water, thus cooking the weird wobbly sausages whilst heating the pasta water.
  2. Add garlic, tomato puree and onion to a frying pan with some olive oil. Heat slowly so that the onion goes translucent rather than crispy. Wonder when you started describing onion as translucent.
  3. Once onion has achieved a state which could reasonably be used for some kind of window, add your tomatoes, chopped. Or in today’s case add a tin of plum tomatoes whilst cursing the unpreparedness of your own larder. Jab at angrily with a spoon.
  4. Add sugar and thyme.
  5. Leave to simmer. Like your temper you should try not to let it boil over.
  6. By this point, your water should be boiling and your hot dogs floating, signalling that they’re done. Remove hot dogs with spoon and exchange for dried pasta.
  7. Chop hot dogs into pieces. Chop olives into pieces.
  8. Resist the urge to fly off the handle as your sister cleans passive aggressively around you and makes snippy comments.
  9. Do not lose your temper. The last time you did that you broke a spatula.
  10. By the time you’ve finished repressing your emotions the sauce should have thickened. Add a dash of soy sauce, chopped olives and the hot dog pieces. Turn heat down low.
  11. When pasta is cooked add it to an oven dish thing. Casserole dish? Truth be told I don’t know what a casserole is, it’s just something American’s seem to have a lot on television.
  12. Grate cheese and stir into pasta. Stir in red sauce.
  13. Add more grated cheese on top. Ignore judgemental glaring from sister.
  14. Put in heated oven until crispy.

Serve with garlic bread and eat whilst watching Ant Man at the kitchen table and deliberately ignoring your sister who had elected to eat dinner sitting on the counter top directly in your blind spot, because she knows it drives you insane.

Keep ignoring her as she makes a show of flicking bits into the food recycling despite the long, pious and ultimately hypocritical lecture she gave you on food wastage.

 

 

Do I know you?

I met with an old friend today. We started meeting up every so often to catch up and subject each other to a glorious two-hour session of awkwardness.

It shouldn’t be awkward. We grew up together, we were friends for years until we grew apart as teenagers. We have a great deal in common, or at least we used to. Years of sleepovers and camping trips and shared experiences.

And there we sat, two women, one slightly older than the other. She was as pretty and composed as she’d always been and I sat there feeling nervous and on edge and wishing I could think of something more interesting to talk about that my university.

The thing is….

The thing is that she knows me. Not in the way that she knows what I’ve been up to recently or the issues I’m having with personal relationships at the moment. No, she knows the bits of me that are a little more constant. She knows the screw-up, the ditz, the girl who specialises in being unreliable. The friend who forgets birthdays, gives rubbish presents and isn’t capable of focusing on more than one person in her life at a time. She knows the girl I was before I learned to start hiding things properly.

You know, deeply internalising emotions like a proper adult.

So sitting there in front of her sipping a hot chocolate I am acutely aware of the fact that I am the screw-up friend. I went to college not university. I’m still single, my academic record is…spotty and I sit there babbling on about the first things that come into my head, fully aware that she’s looking, slightly unfocused, over my shoulder.

I wondered to myself why we bothered with these meetings, even as I promised to contact her in a few months. Why do I desperately cling to a relationship that’s long dead? Do we gather in Memorium? Am I looking for the ghost of the love I once felt for her?

Who am I kidding? I’m still going to dress up to meet her. Still going to gloss over as many of my screw-ups as possible. And I’ll stare her down across a cafe table and wonder if this is really the only friend I have that I actually trust completely.