The Year: Reviewed

2016. Oh, what to make of you. You’ve been challenging, that’s for sure.

It’s time to reflect. On this, the final day of yet another year, I sit and consider what was. It was… something, I suppose.

I got older. Really older. 31 now. I look old. I couldn’t pass for late 20s any more, I think. The hair has put paid to that. It has always looked shit, but now even more so. Now it looks more forehead than hair. I jest, but only a little. At least I’m not bald like a friend of mine, same age, is. I’ve got all that to look forward to. Yay!

So too did everyone else. That’s the bad thing. We are all older. This Christmas has been a disaster of sorts. People have been sitting round, coughing, hacking up mucus, sneezing, snotting, being rather muscularly and skeletally challenged. Is skeletally a word? It should be. I like it. But it has been awful. We all look older and tireder. Lots of us look old and frail. Dad hasn’t been well at all this year, and it is frightening. Genuinely, truly frightening. My mum was saying the other day how she thought her parents would live forever. They don’t. I hope it’s not soon, but it is coming. It is tragic.

The year overall… formally, I would say it’s been a Good Year. It could never have competed with last year, which, apparently, was a Really Good Year. I just read last year’s equivalent post. I’m not so sure in hindsight, but hindsight is like that. It makes the greatest things less exciting. It’s make the most horrendous things less shocking. It all turns to a dull, neutral, grey. The entropy of life being stretched out over the months and years.

Why is it a good year then? It doesn’t really look like I set myself high targets. I mean, look at them. They were very modest. One was to keep things going with my partner. Check. Two was for business to be kind to me: this was less good, but overall we made money and are still trading well. You can’t ask for more really when we’re not ambitious about growing it. Third, the “other business” is still here, and still being a PITA. Fourth: the house was a disaster, but never mind. Finally: we’re all still here.

The first and second points are, however, of sufficient weight that they can make things out to be a Good Year. I’m happy enough with that. Much as it pains me, I feel that I will have to modify the way I assess life. Middling mediocrity is where it’s at, because, frankly, anything more exciting is just too difficult to obtain. I don’t get any lucky breaks. We get hammered with shite in our work. What more can we do?

Life is all about accepting that what you were told in childhood: that you are great, you are talented, and the world is your oyster, is nothing of the sort. For 99.9% of us, life is just about getting through it safely, because there is no alternative. We get the odd glimpse of fun and excitement to distract us from the interminable stretches of dull. The every day, getting up, having coffee, having breakfast, going to work, going home, having evening meal, then a sliver of relaxation, then sleep. Repeat ad infinitum.

I wish it could be different, but it isn’t.

We’re here now. Me and J have now been “together” (as we say) for 17 months. It’s so many we don’t even count it any more. We used to do it all the time. We take it for granted. Just like life.

But these modest gains and general stability are actually things to be happy about. We are fortunate to have them. We are fortunate to have a successful and generally quite profitable business of our own. Not many can say that. These are good things, and I am – in my more reflective moments – happy for them.

I just need to remember that more often.

Thank you, 2016. You’ve been OK.

The world outside it: not so much. I mean, David Bowie? Alan Rickman? How could you…

Advertisements

It’s Quite A Long Way

Today we’re, for only the second time as a couple, driving home for Christmas. In the very literal sense. We did it last year and it was great. We’re now doing it again. But yes it is a long way.

We’ve had quite a day. We’ve had quite a week. Which has followed quite a month. Which has been a crazy year. It has been quite something.

Today we rushed around getting as much tedious human stuff done as possible, including a relatively substantial tidy of the office. Stuff that we just can’t get done other days. It seems stupid that we have to sacrifice a major chunk of our day off, and worse, a day off called Christmas Eve, to do this, but such is shitty life.

But we were successful, and the journey home is nearly over, so there is that. And we went on the M62 toll. That was kinda cool, thanks to one of our customers giving us the money to do it.

We’re later than last year. In fact, it’s so late and I’m so tired that I just know I won’t last. My traditions I’ve worked so hard to create over years, the Father Ted Christmas special. The glass of Baileys. The Midnight Mass. The present wrapping. All gone. OK maybe a glass of Baileys. Then bed.

But at least it’s here. Safe and at last. A decent rest. I know families cause stress but hopefully it’ll be OK.

Let me take a final minute to also recognise something else. Today is 12 years since I started blogging. The last two years have been the hardest ever. I increasingly worry that the final post I write will be my last. I don’t get time. I don’t get inclination. I don’t have inspiration. Life is fleeting yet also mundane. I don’t feel the need to mark daily ritual that has become my life. There is nothing outside of my relationships to live for. That seems sad but I think it’s actually the depressing reality of life. We just deny it. Life is truly pointless but we have to live it because we are cowards and shit scared of death. I know I am.

But 12 years of intermittent observation is something to be reasonably proud of. I’ve tried really hard at times, and others not hard enough. I know there’s nothing exciting at all in there despite efforts to the contrary. Back then every blogger thought they were just a few posts away from a book deal. Haha. Imagine how dull my book would be.

I think back to the depressed 19 year old starting his blog. He’s changed a lot. I would offer him advice but he wouldn’t listen.

The story of everyone’s life.

Let me mark the occasion anyway. Here’s to Christmas. And family. It’s why I’m here. And why I return every year.

In A Flash

I know the theme of everyone’s writing is always the same. The days/weeks/months/years go by in a flash. But this year really takes the biscuit. 2016. Where did you go?

In recent months life has been occupied by thoughts of why we bothered to move house in the first place. The process was long and stressful. The result has hardly been worth it, and costs us an absolute fortune. We’re a bit confused as to why we did it now. Though we get more privacy here from nosey neighbours, it’s a harsh trade.

We tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to investigate whether we’d be able to afford to buy anywhere. Apparently the advice is to wait until next summer, by which point we’ll be forced to stay further in this house anyway due to the end of the tenancy agreement. J and I talked and have generally agreed that the next move we make really has to be into a house of our own. I don’t want to have all of that rubbish again just to move into another – what can only be temporary – rented house.

Life is ticking away relentlessly though. I’m now sailing deep towards mid 30s already. I look back at old posts on here and get depressed about how young I was when I was writing some of these things. My life has barely changed and yet everything has. It’s a huge exercise in futility. How to exist for the sake of existing because there is no alternative but death. Much like blogging. We write because we have to. No one really cares whether we do or we do not.

So it’s now December. I look visibly older. J does too, although he looks healthier month by month as the slow but steady effects of no longer being overweight take hold. That’s nice, though ultimately frustrating. I know he has his own mental issues regarding his appearance. He talks about it from time to time. The things that gets him down most of all is the fact that he’s lost all the weight he did have, and yet is left with flabby spare skin around his stomach. It won’t go. It has gone from everywhere else: face, arms, upper chest. It’s like it’s all sunk down below. He’s gutted by it. I wish I could help. I tell him it doesn’t matter to me, but it hurts him I know. Despite all he’s come through, despite how different he must be now to what he was then (I’ve no idea, he has no photos allegedly) – he still wants more.

I think that’s the general principle of life. We know it all too well in our work, which is very stressful at the moment thanks to Windows 10. There’s never enough to satisfy people. And eve when you move on and satisfy a desire, the demands just move higher.

That rings a bell too regarding the other business I’m now only peripherally involved with. Its owner is a happy-go-lucky chap. But his vast resources (circa £80-100k gross income per year right now) are never enough. More, more, more. Christmas. Birthdays. Holidays. Anniversaries. An endless cycle of spending.

It makes the world go round, apparently.

I guess that’s why we aren’t happy where we are and want our own house.

Perhaps we really ought to re-assess. Endless spending is not the solution. It does not make you happier.

I knew this when I was a teenager. Why do I doubt it now?