Going Going Gone

Time is disappearing once more. Here we are on the 31st of March with just one more day to go before saying that we’re a quarter of the way through this year already. And I have just three months left before my 20th birthday. Hmmm.

This week has flown by. I’ve been back home for more than a week now, and this will be my last full day here. I’m going back to Hull tomorrow so that I can have a couple of extra days to settle back down and give my essays the final read through before I submit them on Monday.

But it’s been good to get away for a while. This short weekly stint has been almost a holiday for me. I’ll never be able to look upon the place I stay in Hull as anything more than a place from which I’m basing myself temporarily while I study. It’s not a home… It’s just a grotty house that I happen to live in. All I can say is I’m happy the summer is finally approaching, as it’s too cold in my house in Hull, even with the heating on. The last gas bill was a bit of a shocker…

Two days ago we had a party to celebrate my homecoming, even though it’s nearly over. It was good fun, and I took the opportunity to demonstate some of the more intriguing dance moves I have learned or developed at student parties to the rest of my family. They all went down a storm, which was very reassuring. It’s important that the family is aware that I’m not just learning about politics in Hull. Oh no. I also show them some of the finest dance moves the world has ever seen, passed on from generation to generation. And I’m the world’s worst dancer.

That never stops anyone in my family though. They’d dance the Tiger Feet to the latest pumping dance tune. Which has rubbed off on me.

Anyway, today I’m supposed to be going somewhere with my family to have a day out. I have no idea where, and I don’t think my mum and dad know either. Of course, it doesn’t help that no one else is even out of bed yet. Looks like we’re not going to be leaving until about 1pm again. That makes a change…

Update

It’s been a good few days since I got home. This is the first chance I’ve had to use the family computer without there being someone else around… obviously, I don’t want to write things into here without people looking over my shoulder.

My interview on Wednesday for Camp America went reasonably well, I thought. There were some stupid questions like, “When was the last time you turned a mundane task into an exciting one?” and they asked all the usual rubbish about being a good team worker, as if just because I told them it’s true it must be. I don’t trust interviews… there’s too much scope for the interviewer to miss things and write something negative based on something stupid. I think the only thing they can really prove is whether or not you can articulate yourself well by speaking good English.

In any case, it was much tougher than I thought it would be, but I think I was confident enough for a change and managed to get through it. I’ll find out if I’ve been accepted within the next week. I don’t really know what my chances are, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday to Saturday were mostly quiet days. Of course, I was totally unsurprised when I got home to find that once again the family computers were riddled with spyware and viruses. Each time I’ve come home now I’ve had to fix them… so I had to waste yet more of my life doing that on Friday and Saturday.

Last night there was a family party to celebrate me coming home. I do have a good family… I spoke to a lot of them last night and they all encouraged me to keep going. So then I turned this on its head by having a few words with my 16-year-old cousin who I get on well with.

When I was a bit younger I hated receiving advice. It was from adults who thought they knew better, and I had no intention of following in their footsteps. As I was talking to my cousin about how she’s got to keep studying, keep working, and going to university will be a great thing for her to get away from her difficulties here… I realised that I too had become one of those people I hated – giving out my advice freely as if I was the sole authority on the subject. But I couldn’t help it. It was all I have learned since September.

Life can be cruelly ironic. Just another example of how I’ve left my childhood behind me.

It’s Here

Wednesday has arrived. The day with “Camp America interview” on my calendar is upon me. I’m very nervous right now… not really because of the interview itself, but because I don’t know what to expect. For all I know this could be very informal, or it could be extremely difficult. When it comes to things like this, I like to go in prepared. It’s all character building I suppose.

I’ve decided to go straight home today. My parents are meeting me after the interview in Leeds and then we’re going home. I’ve decided that I’ve done enough work – I’m particularly impressed with my three essays in a week – and what little I have left I can take home with me and do it there. It will be nice to see the family again… things have been getting very lonely around here. I’ve not had proper contact with another human for about five days now.

Yesterday I spent all the day cleaning up the house, including hoovering everywhere, mopping the floors everywhere and sorting my room out. It’s ridiculous that I am the one who has to clean up after everyone… I did this at Christmas as well. I am taken for granted in this house. But I suppose it’s my fault for always being the last here. Everyone else is more sensible… they piss off and leave it to me. Thanks guys.

But it looks good. And hopefully I’ll be the first back to appreciate my fine work before anyone else can ruin it.

In the meantime, I might not be able to post anything for a week as I’m not taking my computer home with me. It’ll be a bit difficult to carry a desktop PC on the train…

Until next time.

The Fragrance of H(e|u)ll

It’s one of those days in Hull. The sun is shining – very unusual. We’ve been casketed in clouds for days, with temperatures struggling to pass 12 degrees C, while the rest of the country enjoys highs of 20 C. No surprise there.

But today is different. It feels nice when you look out the window and see the world looking a bit brighter.

But God help you if you open that window. That was my mistake.

As I said, it’s one of those days in Hull. The wind is blowing in the right direction to bring in the smell of the “chocolate” factories. I’m not quite sure who started this myth that it’s a chocolate factory, but if chocolate really smelled like sulphur, then I don’t think I’d touch it with a bargepole.

But I need to open my window to dry my washing. Why did I have to time this so perfectly?

Then there’s the other nonsense. For some ridiculous reason, the ambulances make very strange noises here. The normal siren starts up and then suddenly leaps into a kind of machine-gun rattling, leaping back and forth between a siren and this chuddering, yet still wailing sound. It seems to last forever as the ambulance struggles to fight its way through the severe congestion Hull terminally suffers from.

It’s a funny old place, but I’ve become quite endeared to it. The key is to be selective about where you go and at what times, just like any other city.

In the meantime, life is pretty good. I have polished off the third and final essay, so now all I need to do is proof read and print them. I’m happy. But I’m going to be extremely nervous on Wednesday, because I have to make my way to Leeds for the interview for Camp America. I’m not quite sure if it’s supposed to be really formal or just relaxing, but I know I can’t wear my t-shirt which basically calls all Republicans and Dubya fans morons. Hmm.

And Then There Was One

I am now on my own. I have a six bedroomed house all to myself. This is both good and bad. It’s good to be free to do what I like, not have to worry about the kitchen being in a mess, or if I’ve been beaten to using the oven at around 6pm, or what to watch on telly. I’ve not had this kind of freedom for a while.

But extreme freedom is a lonely business. The last of my housemates went home yesterday, and so begins what will probably be two weeks without any contact from friends, apart from tap tap tapping out messages to them on MSN. This could get a little lonely.

I used to like the night. When I lived at home, I went through phases of staying up till extremely late, even if I had school or college the next day. 1am was minimal. 2am likely. 3am very possible. And I had to be up at 6/7am normally in order to get to school on time as I lived very far away. Night was second nature to me. It was calm and peaceful, and I got the vast majority of my work done then. It was a great help to me in fact, as I found it difficult to concentrate during the day because of my brothers and sister.

But I realised last night, being in this big house all on my own, living in a reasonably rough area, that night was no longer my friend. On my way off to bed, I switched off all the lights behind me, and the house was plunged into darkness. It’s old, it’s creaky and odd noises appear from places. In that kind of silence, your ears adjust to listening for the tiniest noises and making them into the biggest deals. It took me about half an hour to get to sleep, much longer than normal.

So now I’ve made it to morning. I’ve got out the other end OK, just as I thought I would, and just as I have every other night here for the past six months. It’s funny how growing older you begin to take more notice of issues like security. When I was at home, I had no worries… my family were there to protect me.

Now no one is here to protect me. Without that security, the night is no longer my friend. At least the daylight is getting longer at the moment…

On more positive news, I have finished the first of my three essays. I’m happy with that, but I now need to press on. Time to start on the second…

Yesterday

All my troubles actually do seem so far away at the moment. I haven’t started any of my three essays yet, but the past couple of days I have been engaging deeply in taking notes from some of the most hefty textbooks I have ever seen. The notes essentially answer my essays, so now all I need to do is motivate myself to start typing. I have two and a half weeks to do it in, but this should be OK.

Yesterday was also my friend’s birthday. He reached the grand old age of 20. Only, I didn’t know about it. In fact, none of us did. Last October, he refused to tell anyone his birthday, as he didn’t want anyone to celebrate it. In any case, it was not worth celebrating.

So I granted him his wish. He did seem a little off with me yesterday, but I can’t help but feel that it was all of his own making. I only know it was his birthday because he made a slip back in December telling me the date. I had totally forgotten about it anyway. But what does he expect? He refused to make it an event, he didn’t tell or remind anyone properly, and so it’s come and gone without a card or a present, which is what we normally do… we club together and buy something.

It’s harsh. But he was anti-social. He wanted it that way.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll feel when I finally reach 20 in July. I suppose I should celebrate it, with it being the end of my teenage years. But I imagine I’ll be a little introspective too. I could never just let it wash over me though. It feels important to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next, if only to draw a dividing line. My friend didn’t do that yesterday, and I think he’ll regret it.

Now then. Time for me to get to work…

Weirdness

The bruise on my arm continues to get worse. I have been reliably informed by my mum that it could take weeks before it goes away. Which is wonderful. It’s a good job it’s not hot at the moment… I couldn’t possibly wear a short sleeve t-shirt.

Before I went to sleep last night I said to myself that I hadn’t had a dream for a while. This was duly rectified by my brain overnight, and I had this weird dream about a big scary face with a metal mask attached to what looked like a big plant. I told it some secret codeword that encouraged it to fire electric bolts at a city on the other side of the river. But the electric bolts were almost like what Zeus throws in the Hercules film, except much smaller. I ended up throwing them as well, until a car came running down the road at me… causing me to retreat inside a building.

I don’t know what that was about, but when I got out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror I noticed quite a big straight line cut across my forehead. I can only assume I’ve done this in my sleep, and I have done this before. A couple of weeks ago I woke myself up when I started digging my fingernail into my eyebrow. It really hurt, and there was also a big mark left by that as well.

So I guess I’ve taken up self-harming in my sleep.

As a counter-balance, I decided to do some self-harming of my hair. A few months ago I bought some barbers clippers to shave my hair. I hate hair, and I keep it as simple as possible by just shaving it all off to a number 3 level every couple of months. It was starting to get pretty bad, so I removed it. Another £5 saved. Next time I use them, they will have paid for themselves! It’s not easy to do the back however; it requires precision and skill with a razor to make it straight. It’s very difficult to hold a mirror with your left hand behind your head and shave the neckline with the right hand at the same time. Believe me…

My Easter holiday has begun. The Evil Housemate has gone home, so that’s three weeks away from the idiot. Gives me three weeks in which to do all the essays I have left to do in peace and quiet. I have a feeling I should be a little happier for a while. That is, until exam season arrives in May. Damn.

Bloodless

The blood donation was successful and I’m now just under one pint down from my normal level. I also got me a keyring telling me my blood group just in case I ever forget that I’m O+. Free things are good.

But there was also a free thing that wasn’t quite so good. Somehow or other, I managed to get the trainee needle stabber person. She said if I wanted to get someone more experienced to put the needle in, I only needed to ask. Being brave, I said it’s OK… we all need to learn some time.

Big mistake. She put the needle in wrong – it hurt more than last time – and now I have pretty nasty looking bruises in my left arm. There’s a small triangle of red just before where the needle went in… but this morning I’ve woke up to also notice that there is an extensive area of green and yellow going up and down the underside of my arm. I look like a junkie. Bad luck or what…

I went on my own – surprise surprise after all my friends bottled it – and sat there waiting patiently. I got rid of the bone marrow nagger (I’m already on the register) and looked carefully around the room.

There was a good attendance, and there had been throughout the day. Only, it was a little skewed. Roughly 75% of donors were women.

I don’t know if this is repeated, but certainly here in a University student setting, the constant flow of people mostly involved women.

I think that says a lot. Us men spend the vast majority of our time trying to big ourselves up, looking manly and Tuff Guy to impress the ladies. We show them how you’re supposed to cope, with strength, determination, total coolness and complete lack of emotion.

Yet, we have a weakness. We don’t like to talk about it for it would shatter the illusion that we’ve worked so hard to create and maintain.

Yes. We’re shit scared of needles.

It’s all rubbish, of course. It was embarrassing that I was one of a handful of men to step up to the plate. We really are pathetic.

It’s time to drop the charade, guys. Just be genuine. Be yourself. It’s easy.