Welcome back to Awkward Situations! In this Episode: The Kid

Picture it: first snow in the city, you just bought your Christmas tree, schlepped the thing home, and now you’re popping back out to go to the pharmacy to be ready when the holiday cold hits…

And as I’m walking home from the pharmacy, going through my mental list, suddenly I hear, “Hello.”

I turn round, see no one, look down and see a kid.

It’s a girl child of about 8, 9, maybe 10… I’m shit with ages, anyway, this thing is underaged and it’s talking to me. No adult in sight. I awkwardly say Hi, and proceed walking. Kid walks along. And it starts walking in my direction. There’s some sort of daycare on this street and about a million schools all around, so I’m assuming she’s from there. Kid complains she forgot her gloves. I tell her to put her hands in her damn pockets.

Meanwhile, inside my head: Who are you? Why are you talking to me? Do I know you? Do you think I know you? Are you in trouble? Do you need help? You seem pretty unperturbed, I must say. Are you in need of social contact? Did your psychologist tell you to build up self-esteem by talking to random strangers? Are you even old enough to have a psychologist?

She asks me if I live around here, like, very detailed. I tell her the building and that’s it. I mean, what if she’s a spy? What if her parents are professional robbers and she’s spying potential ‘customers’?

Meanwhile, inside my head: Okay, now you’re just being silly.

I ask her if she lives around here somewhere. She goes yes (actually lives up the street from me) and proceeds to tell me about snow, and how she likes snow, and how she never writes anything on snowed-on cars like her friends do…

Meanwhile, inside my head: Bish, that’s fun, tho! I do that, and I’m pushing thirty!

… and how she hopes the snow will stay for a bit, and how we got snow for Easter, wasn’t that weird…

I ask her if her mother or father are home and she says not yet. I mean, not unusual, it’s barely 3 pm.

Meanwhile, inside my head: Okay, so what the hell do you want? Do you need a babysitter? A tutor? What? How do I ask a small human if they’re in some sort of trouble without sounding weird?

Kiddo tells me about snowboarding and how she’s getting a new snowboard for Christmas. We’re at my building now, so I try to stir the convo into goodbyes and hope she doesn’t want to come up to my place. Kiddo tells me her hands are so frozen she wonders if she will get her apartment door open. I tell her, atta girl, you can do it. Just kick the door in. (What? I don’t know what to do with that information!) I look around and no one’s followed us so far, street’s as empty as can be, so I guess she’s not going to get kidnapped as she ambles along the thirty or so metres to her building. I keep an eye on her until she’s out of sight anyway.

Meanwhile, inside my head: Strange kid. Should I make sure she’s okay? What was that about? Didn’t seem scared or worried. Just a weird whim what struck her? Oh god, what if she finds out where I live? Please don’t show up randomly!

Up in my apartment I lock all the doors and barricade the windows. Okay, not really, but somehow I feel shaken. Which I don’t get, because literally that was a kid, probably not a miniature ninja assassin who could kill me in my sleep. New level of awkward: can’t even talk to a fucking child. I have a hard enough time talking with adults, but kids are much more preceptive than adults. How do you handle someone with a working bullshit filter?

So I proceed to do boring household tasks at home when suddenly a string of thoughts strike me.

What if she somehow locates me and then I have to find her parents? What if she’s from the future? What if she’s my child from the future? What if she’s a ghost? I mean, it’s getting mighty close to Christmas, that’s a prime time for ghosts. What if she’s the ghost of my potential child from the future which I won’t have through some bizarre  turn of events in which I changed the future accidentally by not eating waffles the day before? Please don’t haunt me, small future ghost!

But seriously, should I call someone? Child protective services? Dog catchers? Anyone? I don’t know what to do, this wasn’t in any of my scripts! Do people these days no longer tell their children not to talk to strangers?

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Welcome back to Awkward Situations! In this episode: The Shopping Expedition!

So while the world keeps riding a roller-coaster to hell, life still goes on. Which in direct consequence means I still have to deal with the nitty-gritty, wibbly-wobbly, wishy-washy nonsense that is life among other people. I think we can all agree that we hate people sometimes. Not me, though; I save on postage and hate them always. Honestly, I’d almost prefer a zombie apocalypse. Hell, I’ll be first in line when they’ll hand out the zombie virus. Lurching around without being aware of anyone that’s not food, sign me right up! At least as a zombie you don’t get accosted by salespeople.

In the course of these human events it became clear one day that I needed a new computer chair, because for some reason this old back is not getting any younger and all the yoga in the world is not helping. So, new chair it is. Can’t do anything about the chair at work, so I’ll have to get one for home. Only problem is, to find out if you like a chair you have to sit in it. Physically. Because they don’t have 3D scans you can do from home. So I need to actually go to an actual store. Any store have any good ergonomic chairs? Yes, Ikea and some other place, both stores at opposite ass ends of nowhere. Actually, one ass end of nowhere is now a huge shopping mall because we’re becoming globalised over here. So I lurch (actually take the tram, then the subway, then another subway, then a ten minute walk) to that horrid place full of shops and people and children and beating-heart zombies who can’t look up from their phones to watch where the fuck they’re going. And apparently despite my obvious discomfort at the multitude of smells, sounds, and visual input, I still look like I’m up to buy a 30 EUR hand cream.

A guy from a booth in the middle of the way suddenly calls me over and first I think I must have dropped something, but no. That guy hands me a soap sample. Out of total brain confusion caused by sensory overload I thank him in English. And then the gates to cosmetic hell open up.

The problem is, despite my best efforts and biggest dreams, and the way I yell at my computer, I’m not exactly a fire spitting bitch, but a nice, mild-mannered person whose greatest regret at the end of life will be that I didn’t tell enough people to get all the way out of my face.

No. No, suspiciously touchy-feely salesman. Thanks for the soap sample, but no. But I’m feeling okay, like, not in full on fight – kill opponent – flight mode, so maybe I can flee by doing my usual routine of pretending I’m not from here? No, not working. Dude’s making small talk, still in English. Asks me where I’m from, tells me where he’s from, tells me all about this nail file, then about this cuticle oil, then about the hand cream… all the while rubbing stuff into my hands and I’m just there like…awkward-girl-meme

Trying to answer the age old question of how to politely tell a person to fuck off, while orchestrating this huge lie about being a grad student from Milton Keynes (no, I don’t know what was thinking when I thought of that!) and I’ll only be here for a year. And he just keeps going. Like, I know you need to make a sale, dude. You were probably spying on me from behind the fake greenery as my directionally confused ass was trying to locate the furniture store, and the vision of a commission was dancing in front of your eyes. I know your kind can smell a tenner a mile off. Or blood. One of the two. But, but, but… I’m not shelling out 30 for a hand cream. I tell him so. I tell him I’ll think about it while buying my new office chair. He says if I have an Austrian boyfriend I could rub it all over his body. I say I don’t think said boyfriend would like that. I make a joke about maybe I’ll ask my boyfriend to get me the stuff for Christmas anyway. He asks me why and I’m just… well, just so. Didn’t he get the joke? He didn’t get the joke. And suddenly he launches into a mini tirade about control within relationships and how back where he comes from they have these men’s/father’s rights groups who restore order within families when there’s problems and at this point I’m like…

target-lady

Someone get me the hell outta here! Somehow the conversation ends with my usual marketer spiel of “I’ll think about it, byyyyyyye….” and I flee. Making a mental note to find another exit from the mall so I don’t have to walk past him again. Text my small scale trauma to my actually existing boyfriend because WTF.

And then the furniture store doesn’t have the chair I wanted to try on (try on? try out? One of those). They miiiiight wanna put that on their website. Like, if they haven’t had that thing for a week, you know. Might be useful to change the little sign that says ‘in stock’. Because at this point it’s a barefaced, clean shaven, bold font lie.

Whyyyyyyy?

It’s the little things that confirm my hatred for most of my species. Milton Keynes me also hates people. Everyone of my fabricated personalities hates people. I’m just not made for the public.

Also, please tell me I’m not the only one pretending to be someone else when faced with a situation I can’t handle.

Also also, an hour later when I was finally home I discovered that cream gave me a rash. My usual 2,59 hand cream doesn’t do that.

And now I have to retreat to my bedroom, draw the curtains, shut fair daylight out, and make myself an artificial night in which I can ignore the world. Cheers.

Ice Cream at the End of the Universe

You know that feeling when you’re working two jobs and you start seeing the numbers on your bank account climb? That’s a great feeling, yeah? Right before you realise you gotta pay rent. Again. Why do you have to pay rent every month? Who came up with that system?

In other news, I’ve had my period anniversary and I celebrated… by having my period. But I mean, how often do you get your period on the same day you got your first period? I think it’s significant. I also can’t believe I’ve been bleeding every month for years. Years as in decades. Okay… one decade and a bit. Still. That’s a lot of blood. I think someone on tumblr once worked out that over your lifetime you spend seven years bleeding. Seven years of blood! That’s a lot of blood. I wonder if you could forge a sword from the iron of seven years’ worth of blood.

Also, it was long museum night again here in our lovely little town and what better way to blow my hard earned cash than by gaining even more useless knowledge with some trusty smarty-pants friends.

Everyone flaked out on me. Okay, so they didn’t flake… Boyfriend’s sick (got the sniffles), friend one is sick (got a worse case of the sniffles), friend two is not sick but otherwise engaged (presents at a motherfucking conference, go friend, that’s my friend!), friend three does not live here… So what’s an ‘ardworking independent modern woman to do but go on her fucking own. Which I did.

It’s glorious and I don’t understand why I don’t do things alone more often.

I mean… for one I could pick the museums I wanted to visit without any regard whatsoever for someone else. Then I could go at my own pace. Get absolutely lost and be in no hurry. Talk to literally no one except the customary “Hello, one ticket please.” Hang out longer in one section and breeze past another one that didn’t interest me. Wonderful, elating selfishness!

This year’s museums were Technological, Film, and observatory. Bit disappointed about the observatory because the waiting time for the telescope was over an hour and I was already too tired to sit it out, but oh well. Just have to come here some other time when there’s not the entire supply of the city’s school-age children on the loose. Also, the guy doing the usual astrophysics presentation was getting on my nerves. I mean… you’re watching the ocean from the point of view of a grain of sand. You have no more but a snapshot of the universe and you try to stuff it into a corset of numbers. Don’t tell me the universe will just end in 22 billion years, according to everything you know right now, and then that’s it because entropy. We’ve had thermodynamics for less than two hundred years, you don’t know jack! I’d be surprised if you guys even got the age of the universe right. And you didn’t even go over multiverse theory!

“According to the laws of…” Well, have you ever considered changing the definitions of these laws, because the universe doesn’t seem to give two shits. Look, science is good, science is great, but when it comes to the cosmos I’ll always pick the theory that makes the best story. So neener-neener-neener to your eternal end. Just wait what your successors will discover in the next only thousand years, and I’ll come back from the grave and laugh. If I’m still sitting here in 22 billion years and listen to how people believed it was the end of the world, I will absolutely point and laugh.

Technological was great, though little did I know that they had renovated the entire thing and I got a bit lost somewhere between an 1851 summer train carriage and the last surviving WW1 fighter jet. Big topic this year: urban studies. Yes, that’s a thing. Everything about the city, and let’s be real, city life is fascinating. I’m a big fan of the everyday section because… this is how people lived! Actual people! Who are now dead! Who used incredibly big and unwieldy vacuum cleaners and giant toothbrushes! And flat irons with coals in them! What I like the most about museums is the sense of epiphany they give me, the feeling of connectedness to entire generations of humans I never knew and who never knew me, and we’re all just trying to make a living and make life comfortable, and we’ll never know if someday the things we used every day without a second thought will be displayed so someone else can take their child to see it like “Look, little human, this is your history.” Hell, in fifty years I’ll probably see the make and model of the laptop I’m typing on right now in one of those glass cases, and all the future wide-eyed whippersnappers laughing at our way of life back then. Wait until you see our ergonomic chairs.

Exit through the gift shop.

I’m a grown adult, I tell myself slowly and mercilessly as I make my way to the exit. I’m an adult, I tell myself through clenched teeth as I force myself to put down the grow-your-own-crystal set and the archaeological kit for kids. I’m a motherfucking adult, I tell myself as I put the mini planetarium back on the shelf and return the plasma globe to its place, and I don’t need to overcompensate now for my lack of scientific toys in childhood. I realise I’ll be one of those parents one day who buys unholy amounts of stuff ‘for the kids’ and uses it all herself. Because I’m an adult. And I want to dig out my own dinosaur bone and look at it through the microscope!

So to console myself I bought an ice cream cone somewhere in the inner city. Yes, it is October. Yes, it’s a tad chilly. Yes, it was roughly 10 pm. And I still wanted nougat and coconut flavoured ice cream. Have I mentioned I’m an adult? Well, fucking adults can buy fucking ice cream in fucking autumn if they fucking want to! There must be some upside to this whole paying bills and cooking your own meals thing.

Anyway, this whole night had me thinking… why don’t I do things alone anymore? I did all the time when I was a teenager, I went to the movies alone because no one had told me it was weird, and I took walks alone and bike rides alone… granted I had no friends and now I do. Somewhere and somehow everything I did became a couple’s thing. Why is that? Why this push towards sociality? Why is being alone seen as something to be pitied? I think it does a body good to be away from people for a bit. Like, fuckers, how can I miss you if you’re never away from me? Seems like a healthy thing to do.

At least this way no one stops you from buying ice cream in October in the middle of the night. Apparently that’s frowned upon by most people. As if there was a bad time for ice cream. Hell, I’d eat ice cream while the universe was ending. According to thermodynamics, it’s going to be cold anyway.

Rant Day: Tales of Urrrrrgh

Item 1:

Let’s talk about digital hoarding for a second. I’m sure you’re doing it. You, yes, you. Yes, you with the face. You’re a digital hoarder. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean. Are you trying to tell me you dont save millions of screenshots, pictures, recipes, conversations, thirty different versions of your résumé, and no longer relevant documents?

Oh, you really don’t? I’m so sorry!

And the worst of the offenders are of course us MMO playing wackos. Currently, I’m facing the mammoth task of… cleaning out my WoW characters’ banks. I could sing hymns of praise to our dark overlord Blizzard for finally installing a wardrobe so you don’t have to keep collecting outfits in like a semi-physical sense that clogs up all your bags. But I’m getting the same irrational separation anxiety I already suffer every year when I have to clean out my actual closet. But, but… what if I still need it?! What if it fits me after I lose some weight?! What if they get rid of this new feature?! What if the system crashes and I lose everything?! What if…

Yeah. I may or may not have a problem. Is it still First World Problems if it’s online? Do we call this First Cyber Problems? European Server Problems? Problems of a semi-millennial part-time digital native?

Item 2:

In other news, I’m fairly confident my thesis supervisor has fallen down a well somewhere. I haven’t heard anything from her since I sent her my theory part a month ago. She hasn’t had any office hours since mid-July. I feel like I’m at the beginning of an epic adventure film (parody) in which I will travel distant fantastical lands and battle demons and beasts and rare mobs in my quest to rescue my supervisor and thus can finally complete the main quest, my thesis!

Or maybe she’s just on vacation. But I like my version better.

Also, I still have at least 60 pages to go. I’m so fucking dead.

Item 3:

I just read today that Pokemon Go is losing players rapidly. I mean, I guess we should have seen this coming. It was new and innovative and new, and games don’t live long on the newness factor. After a while I guess people become bored or frustrated or don’t feel like bracing the sun and the rain and the group of jeering youths that mock you mercilessly because you’ve been trying to catch an ugly ass duck thing for five minutes now. Not that that happened to Boyfriend or anything, its just a random, oddly specific example.

The entire premise is discomforting anyway. I mean, look at it through the eyes of a peasant from the 14th century. You’d see a lot of invisible demons that might turn up everywhere, literally on your shoulder, and the only one who can control them is that weirdly clothed warlock with his magical handmirror. And maybe if you offend the warlock he’ll sic all the enslaved demons on you! Run!

Now there’s a movie idea. Forget Yankees in King Arthur’s court, fucking cart Arthur into the present! A present full of wizards! Witchcraft! The forces of evil have finally overtaken the land! And the good burghers think it’s a lark!

Item 4:

I made a mistake at work the other day and I feel like I should crawl under a rock and die a slow perfectionist death.

Item 5:

So anyway, y’all see the new Ghostbusters?

Actually, I don’t wanna hear it, I don’t care, that movie is awesome, my inner nine-year-old loved the everloving hell out of it and has also decided to marry Jillian Holtzmann when we grow up. I mean, mom would get used to her eventually and dad would be so proud because I’m sure he always wanted for me to marry an engineer!

And to anyone trying to come in here like, oh, but she’s not canon gay, I say she’s the gayest gay to ever gay! And it’s fucking obvious if you’ve been hit with the queer stick yourself! Chrissakes, she’s been hitting on Erin the moment she walked in the door! That was very obvious hitting-on! The only way to make it any more obvious was to hit her over the head with a phaser pack! While chanting “I want to get in your pants for sex purposes!”

Also, they shot that ghost in the boo-balls. Spooky nuts. Geisterklöten. I approve of that.

Well, that’s one way to get high, I guess.

Picture it: It is a grey, cold Tuesday morning. Your Boyfriend has gone to work at six in the fucking am because old people need caring at 7. You have gone back to sleep because your schedule will not see you out of the house before noon. And then this happens.

Boyfriend came back home at 9 am high as a kite, rendered unable to work. Why? Because he overdosed on nose drops.

You read that right. Boyfriend’s been having a bit of a cold or tonsillitis or both, so he, uncharacteristically, went to the doctor’s and got some meds. One of them were nose drops for his poor stuffy nose. He took them in the morning, then got a headache and took an aspirin. Then all hell broke loose.

So he comes in at 9, I stumble out of the bedroom to check what’s up, and he’s sitting at the dining table, taking his blood pressure and laughing his fucking ass off at everything. At this moment, I knew exactly what to do.

I got my phone and made a video. But that’s beside the point.

I was also trying to tell knock-knock jokes, because that’s a tried and true remedy for patients who are laughing at their own hands, but he was having none of that.

Then I checked the package leaflet and now I feel like living in Bizarro World. The side effects of a nose drops overdose may include psychosis, hallucinations, high blood pressure and accelerated pulse. There was no warning not to take them with aspirin. Yeah, this man needs a doctor.

I mean… just the fact that fucking nose drops can cause you to hallucinate… I… what?

His blood pressure was through the roof. So was his pulse. Then he got the idea to finally assemble his Lego Tardis I got him for Christmas. And he kept complaining he wanted to watch Doctor Who. And how stoked he was for K-9. When I said, Honey, go to the doctor, I did not mean this Doctor. Doe she even have a license? I don’t believe this man has ever been to medical school!

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

So while he came down after a while (and one Doctor Who episode) the doctor’s office was finally open and so he went. And I’m sitting here, three hours later, mind boggling over the fact that nose drops can make you trip balls apparently if you try hard enough. Or even if you don’t.

You could sell this shit to high schoolers, make a fortune!

Hm…

Brb, coming up with a new business venture.

Kidding, those are prescription only. I’ll never be able to fake enough of a cold to keep the business going.

Forget What They Told You in Kindergarten, Whining DOES Solve Things

Breaking news from the Grad School front.

Okay, I got this shit in the bag! I got my supervisor, I did get into this stupid course, now I just need to write my thesis and…

And the record screeches to a halt.

Now all I have to do is write an 80+ page academic work.

If you’re frozen with fear, raise your hand. Oh, wait, you can’t. Try blinking. Yes, you blinked. I blinked, too. Because I’m scared. Very scared. Zombie apocalypse ain’t got nothing on this. With zombies, you know where you’re at. They either wanna eat you or you don’t register on their radar because you are also a zombie.

But with academics… they need to like you and your work.

Fuckity fuck.

Okay, stay cool, Self, you got this far. And we did it all by whining in the right place at the right time. We just need to keep doing that.

No, seriously, a bit of whining and a half-breakdown in front of people solves a lot. I mean, you won’t get your dignity back, but otherwise, a lot. I was venting my frustration to a colleague at the department. You know, I was trying to get into this final seminar? And then I didn’t get a grad in time for registration? And someone told me her friend had just done the seminar from the other degree programme instead and it worked out fine? And then someone else told me the same? And so I was all hopeful? And then the office told me that’s not even possible? Because who woulda thunk, I either imagined all this, or those other students found a loophole that had been closed for renovations the minute I turned up. Because of fucking course.

So I expose my vulnerable self to my colleague, finally admitting that I’m not an android programmed in sarcasm but a real human being with like feelings ‘n shit who has had a bad frustrating month. Colleague is like, don’t worry. Five minutes later I’m talking to a professor who then talks to the lecturer and two weeks later I’m in. Magic!

No, seriously. Seems a lot like magic. Maybe the whining sent out energy waves all across the department and threw off everyone’s vibe and they all subconsciously decided to get rid of the source.

And now I just need to write a monster of a paper. And then present this in front of an audience of bored academics who don’t care about anything but their own subjects. I’m so screwed, aren’t I? Couldn’t be more screwed if I was a cabinet.

I’m trying to sign up for an additional writing workshop. Therefore, I need to whine about this on the internet so they’ll let me in. Trust me, this works. I hope.

In other news, I was researching trap remixes of Frank Sinatra and suddenly got an idea for a zombie novel so I guess I have an alternative career path if the whole thesis doesn’t work out.

Yeah, that would be a nice thing for them to cut on my tombstone.

And now, the weather.

The Revenge of Dr. Daffodil

I’ve been gone and busy for a week again. And boy, did I have myself a time. It was such a time, you guys! Very time-y. I mean, what’s better than sitting in a draughty room for days on end listening to people present their latest papers on topics that may or may not make sense and be worth researching?

I don’t want to hate on people who are far more successful in academia than I’ll ever be actually I do, but uh… some of them I just wonder how they got in? Or if they ran out of ideas somewhere in the last three years because their current research focus is slightly bonkers?

I mean, we had a very special case. Being a good student, I took notes throughout the talks, even though it wasn’t required, but hell, I wanted to remember who I’m going to library stalk. And then this one guy came in, who I’ve nicknamed Captain Daffodil, though in hindsight Dr. Daffodil would have been funnier. ‘Cause he’s got a Ph.D. and all. Captain Daffodil gave a talk about nature poetry and… somehow he was really into plants. Like, reeeaaally into plants. To the point he was talking about the rhythm of plants and made us watch a short clip of grass growing. Needless to say, I was slowly breaking down. With laughter. And the only way I could contain myself was to write my feelings down in my notebook.

So without further ado… here are the original notes [with additional info because this is a written medium and you’ll need context] I took during this particular talk:

  • tradition of plant narratives (Plato, Aristotle)

  • plant life and poetic form

  • Greek stories of people being turned into plants

  • word “verse” connected with cultivating of plants

  • lack of plant agency in nature poetry (I can’t believe I’m writing this down)

  • Seriously? We’re watching grass grow now? This is a thing that happens?
  • [prof is reading a poem by Alice Oswald about basically stumbling over a mustard field] fucking mustard, didn’t even notice this fucking bright yellow plague! Now suddenly I’m in a fucking field, how did that happen?

  • Alice, who the fuck is Alice? Yes, we know you want to bone Alice, shut up about Alice.

  • Is Alice secretly Poison Ivy?

  • Like is that her new secret identity after she escaped Arkham?

  • I mean, no one would expect that.

  • Postplantism!

  • Is that a thing now?

  • Is he secretly a World of Warcraft druid trying to spread the call of nature?

  • I’m not writing from the perspective of a laptop, dammit, stop writing from the perspective of a vegetable!

  • Someone get this man a cactus, stat!

  • Can’t wait for the questions. Can’t waaaait for the questions.

  • Or maybe he’s Poison Ivy’s minion.

  • [Someone in the room asks a question starting with “I’m actually glad my plants can’t talk”] Yeah, it’s good your plants can’t talk. Who knows what those plants have seen.

  • Does anything contribute to your argument?

  • Wait, what is your argument?

  • Did he and Alice Oswald have a threesome with a rhododendron?

  • Oh, my mistake, was mustard.

  • [Somewhere in the back a screw falls out of a chair.] The chairs are falling apart for nonsense!

  • Oh my god, I’m gonna throw you in a mustard field, when is this over?!

  • I wish I had a burka so no one could see me laughing.

  • Official nickname: Captain Daffodil.

  • Maybe he’s a sort of plant zombie.

  • This some Batman shit going down right here!

Thus ends the tragic talk of Dr. Daffodil and needless to say, the audience was astonished. Stunned. Very stunned. Words could not express how stunned we were. I now have to go and read Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich to get all the bad poetry out of my head.

So Ru Paul said “You Better Work” and We May or May Not Have Different Definitions of the Word “Work”…

So I’ve been doing ten hour days which rendered me too tired to think.

For the past few days I’ve been doing an advice/consulting thing in the name of ye olde Alma Mater. Meaning I spent ten hours being squished into a booth with ten other people doling out advice about studying to the future of the nation, aka teenagers. I don’t like talking. We’ve established that. But the fact of the matter is, it’s unavoidable in daily life. And people seem to listen to me, because I can make myself sound like I have my shit together. The thing about introversion is you’re not completely unable to function in public. You just don’t like it. I don’t like it. But I think I’m doing a rather okay job.

And I might actually get paid! Is this what working life feels like?

Thing is, my work history is a bit frazzled. Any job I ever had I didn’t have for longer than a couple of months, mostly because I only ever had jobs in one of two categories: bored-out-of-your-skull or drained-of-all-life-force. No in between. And, uh… I actually don’t mind working odd-jobs? Is that weird? Like, I have no problem schlepping boxes for three days, get my money, and move on to sorting through someone’s paper work for a week. It’s no plan for the future, but basically, that’s my work history. The sort-of job I now have, I think it might just be the longest I’ve ever had.

I mean, that might be another consequence of being a socially awkward nutcase: I like the kind of jobs where there’s not chance of getting too close and personal with people.

Also, I may or may not be leading a workshop next month. And I’m on a committee to find ourselves a fresh new professor. I just feel like things are moving, you know?

But back to the advice giving stint. So I repeat the same things over and over again, and it gets really tiresome. I mean, there’s only so many ways to explain the prerequisites, or lack thereof, to people, you know? And then the age old question, the question as old as time, the first question: Doctor who? What do you do with a BA in English? Well, if you’re lucky, you’ll be stood in a booth at an education fair and rattle off the same spiel about your curriculum to eight dozen people a day. Well, I mean… hope you’ll get into some sort of internship, get some sort of job using all your parents’ connections, actually, yeah, looking back taking a language course and studying law or economics would have been the better choice, but…

And now I’m crying, thanks a lot.

No, seriously, if you want to make your life an adventure, choose English. Getting a job will be your adventure. You’ll do battle with uppity bosses, uptight old fossils, rigid administration, you’ll traverse the fields of “not quite enough experience”, climb the mountain of “‘But everyone speaks English already!’ they say as they proceed to write ‘definitely’ as ‘defiently'”, meet the league of evil wizards who will curse you thusly: “‘But you didn’t study translation! We’d rather have someone who studied translation’ as they hire someone who thinks idioms are to be translated literally”. And many, many more!

But I can’t say any of that. Because I’m at work. I have to make this shit look worthwhile. All while feeling like a meandering fool and maybe I should have done something like office administration, which admittedly I would have had to start at age 15 because this is an old-fashioned country…

And those kids make me feel so old. Like, I didn’t know what the hell to do with my life at age 18. I couldn’t even find a successful way to end it. And then there are these bright-eyed young things who look twelve and arrive with their parents, and they ask me to divine their future career. Sorry, kiddo, this is Languages and Literatures, the fortune teller lady is down the hall and to the right.

Dammit, why couldn’t I have been a fortune teller and scam people?

And then of course there were the special cases. The special kind of wack job variety who should burn in the special hell of specialness. Because… oh dear… they are oh so special.

Let me set the scene. Friday, late afternoon. We are already fidgeting in hopes of going home, it’s only an hour until freedom and food and sleep. No one has come up to the booth in at least fifteen minutes. We start to relax. I’m sat out front at the desk together with a colleague from the comparative literatures department.

This fifty-something woman comes up. We do the hello-how-can-we-help-smile-smile-thing. Oh, how can we help indeed. “Well, my son is thirteen and he writes, he’s a great writer, he has always loved to write…”

You know how in movies they do this sound like a tape whirring to a halt, or a needle being taken off a record suddenly? I can hear this in my head right now.

First I think I misheard her. She definitely said seventeen. Maybe sixteen.

Nope. It’s thirteen. The kid is thirteen and loves to write and don’t we have a study program for that?

Lady. This is an education fair for people who are about to finish high school. This is Languages and Literatures. Creative Writing is not part of the menu. And even if it was, your kid is way too young. They’re doing something like that at the art academy, but… your kid is thirteen.

We say something akin to that, albeit a lot friendlier. Lady has that special kind of stare that bores into your soul until it finds the answer it wants to hear. We can’t give her what she wants. Hell, I don’t even know what the hell she wants! For us to pull a writing degree program out of our collective arse? Think we’re hiding the good degree courses in the back of the store?

Thankfully, I am called away to help someone else. Colleague is stuck and I feel sorry for her.

Lady leaves rather disappointed-looking after about, oh, fifteen minutes of back and forth. I mean… your kid is thirteen. He’s currently graduating in Excessive Masturbation. Also, you think his writing is great. He probably thinks so, too. My parents thought my writing was great. Everyone thinks their writing is great at thirteen because we never get any critical opinions. It’s called encouragement and it should die a slow and painful death. Also also, what the hell does your son even write? Is it anything worthwhile, or just erotic Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction? And just because all the other thirteen year old perverts on fanfiction.net love to jack off to it, doesn’t mean your son’s the next J.K. Rowling.

After we recover from this nightmare, we receive a battalion of people over the weekend who are absolutely convinced that we only offer language courses. No. We don’t. Please don’t get pissed at us, we can direct you to the proper place!

Then there’s those fuckers whose kids are, again, so special the world just bends to their desires, or at least it should. Look here, Mistah and Missus Our-wealth-is-not-blatantly-compensating-for-our-lack-of-personality, there’s no need to look down your noses at us like that. Yeah, like that. You know what I mean. Yeah, that look. The look that says, “Well, if youre doing this, it can’t be that hard”. That fucking look. Well, excuse the hell out of me, guv’nor. I will point and laugh when your kid comes home crying because they failed the intro lectures.

And just like that, it’s Sunday. Last day! We gon’ get that money, money, money aaaaand we have to deal with Snotty McWasteourtime first. Snotty looks like Kylo Ren in blond. Snotty comes up, carrying a brochure for Physics, looks at the title of our booth with a look of pure patronizing judgement, and proceeds towards me: “So, what do you even do in a language degree program?” I rattle off my lines about how we study linguistics, literature, history, cultural studies…. Snotty looks at me like I’m speaking a rare dialect of Tibetan. “But do you study one language?” Depends on the degree, in English yes, it’s only English, but if you study Romance languages you choose one main language… Colleague from Romance languages department pipes up beside me: “For example, you could choose Spanish as your main language and French as your sec…” – “I had Spanish in school,” Snotty says in that tone that heralds to the world his disdain for us and everything we stand for, and also that he thinks we’re idiots to even answer his question. “Okay, great, would you like a brochure for our program?” – “No, I don’t want to study this.” And walks off. Thanks for wasting our time, I guess? Have fun finding a job with a physics degree, it’s not like you’re the next Einstein, you’ll be teaching fourteen-year-olds to build a battery for all eternity! …thus rang my silent curse.

And after all these trials and tribulations I am finally home in my pyjamas, in bed, with my laptop, where I belong, because fuuuuck the public. I’m never leaving this room again. Until tomorrow, anyway, because the next week of “you better wooooork” is about to begin.

World’s Best Allrounder

If I had magical engineering powers, what would I build? Seriously?

A TARDIS, duh! Post’s over.

Oh, you wanna know why? Well, think for a minute, will ya? Sure, I could build a replicator to replicate food and other goods. OR I could go to a future where that already exists. Sure, I could build a robot servant. OR I could go to a time period where that’s already mainstream. Sure I could build a super fast quantum computer. OR I could pop into 2236 and try theirs.

I mean, I could also build a space ship… oh wait, I have one!

Or a time machine… oh wait, I have one!

Or a really big wardrobe that doesn’t take much space on the outside, oh hey, the Tardis’s got one.

Maybe some sort of magical laundry device, oh wait, we got one of those, too.

I guess I could just build something really impressive to steal your girlfriend, oh wait, I got a spaceship, chicks dig spaceships.

Literally, a Tardis is the only thing you’ll ever need, because the thing comes standard with so much technology and everything else will be invented eventually and somewhere, you just need to go there and get it. And avoid ill-tempered bastards in silly hats and robes while you’re at it.

Duh.

Introvert Truths

There is no such thing as too much alone time.

Dim lights are comforting, get over it. No, I don’t need more light in here.

Noise is the enemy. Not even necessarily loud ones, but quieter, persistent ones. Like people’s voices.

People are not evil. They don’t actually mean to hurt me or encroach on my boundaries deliberately (most of the time). They just can’t take a goddamn hint.

Introvert hints are so subtle, to other people they sometimes just look like blinking or breathing. This is a problem.

Social gatherings are not evil, but they’re overwhelming.

A minimum mental preparation time of no less than 12 hours is to be given before any form of social contact. This does not include sleep time.

Okay, 1,2,3,4, smile, say “Hello”, hand over card, pay, walk away calmly, heart rate is up, keep panic at bay, regulate breathing, don’t think about how you sounded when you just said “Hello”, just keep walking. Another successful interaction with a cashier!

Time to go to bed, or rather, time to replay every conversation of the day and agonize over how they could have gone better if I had just said something else/been funnier/been more confident/had not been in the middle of fleeing the building.

When used sparingly, Christmas lights will cheer you up.

Commenting on YouTube videos in your head counts as conversation.

Saturday night and we’re in the spot… on the sofa.

That moment when going into space and making contact with alien civilisations seems easier than leaving the house to buy milk.

More books than friends. More books than family members. More books than Facebook friend suggestions.

That moment when you buy something at a fancy, intimidating place and the guy at the counter was nice and you didn’t say anything stupid and inside you’re like: “I’M SO HAPPY, I CAN DO ANYTHING, I COULD PUNCH A BEAR, I COULD TALK TO A STRANGER ON THE BUS, GO ME, WOOOO!”