The Seven Signs of Ageing

In the last month or so I have really been scrutinising my appearance so closely. It feels to me like there is something going on in me. It’s like my body knows I am approaching 30. It is shutting down anything that made me young and turning on the rubbish that makes you look mid-aged.

So I am noticing I now have extra lines under my eyes when I smile. And the front of my face has distinctive lines at the side of my mouth. And I have a jowelly appearance, more so than ever. And the formation of a double chin. Which is mad because I couldn’t be much slimmer. Things are just starting to sag generally. It’s depressing.

In line with some of the posts I wrote in the past about my hair, and how I find this aspect of me frustrating I really don’t know how I will ever learn to accept what’s happening to me. I regret how long it has taken me to bother exploring my own feelings and I feel that the ravages of 10 years on my appearance is actually making it more difficult to do so. If I’d explored my feelings even 5 years ago I’d have certainly been a totally different person now, maybe more comfortable with who I am, and not lost the opportunity to interact with a whole range of other guys. Now I am finding my age and lack of youthful appearance is a barrier.

Another hang up. Another problem that I have added to my massive list of issues already. Just what I wanted. Maybe that’s why I didn’t bother for so many years.

In fact, when I reanalyse old thoughts, I am certain that was part of it. The fear of rejection has always been a massively strong presence. I never wanted to ask anyone out on a date, or anything like that, just because I was always worried about what I would feel if it went wrong. That is my life in general. Mr Unrisky.

So the age signs aren’t helping. The age is making me think I am more likely to fail. More likely to be rejected. And so I struggle on.

It’s an interesting distraction from work though. I have to be honest, I am somewhat enjoying the fact that I can often go home from work, or spend a Sunday, just seeing if my social life does actually exist. Cos sometimes it actually does. I speak to more people now than ever. That might be more of a positive note to end on than usual…

2015

It still frightens me how quickly the days are sinking away. I woke up this morning thinking “wow, it’s a week since Christmas Day”. They do say that time seems to feel quicker the older you get, and there is something in that from a perception point of view. In reality, of course, time is constant…

2015 arrived in some small celebration. A member of our family held the traditional family party, and, for a change, no one else did. This meant that there was no competing party, and therefore no need to pick which one to go to. This made family politics a lot easier…

It was a good affair, with our traditional singing of Auld Lang Syne in the street. What has amazed me as the years go by is that no one else does it. I remember when I was young we’d either all join together, all the neighbouring families in one big circle, or there would simply be other people singing it in their own circles from their own parties. Just another sign of the fragmentation of society? Ironically, our version of it was rubbish this year as we seemed to split into two groups, singing at different times. That was probably just too much alcohol though.

I was, as usual, asked to get the guitar out. I still feel the pain in my fingers today. It was good, and everyone always says I should sing more often, but life just isn’t great for that. It could have been something I pursued, when I had oodles of time in University. Now, however, I have to just be content with what I have. I don’t actually think I’m that good. But we’ll see.

2015 will be an interesting year. The tradition in my New Year post is to project for the years to come. But first, even though, I probably say something like this every year (I could check really but I am lazy) it’s now 15 years since the year 2000. A new year celebration that I now can’t even remember. That’s bad. I remember vaguely the feelings around it, but I cannot for the life of me remember where I was and what I was doing. Only 15 years ago, and I was 15 at the time. I should be able to remember that.

My memory is not good at long term recall, but my brain has always worked a bit differently to others. I am, even if I do say so myself, pretty good at short term memory recall. I attribute much of my success in life to my ability to recall recently processed facts, figures, and even a whole line of argument. Luck, I guess. Certainly helps in exams.

I digress.

2015 will contain a number of significant events.

First, in business, which makes up 90% of my life, I should conclude my first land purchase, and, with a fair wind, also complete my first house sale. I hope it will be as profitable as we project it will be. It will be a challenging but exciting job, and I know it will be a big distraction at times, but I can’t wait to get started.

The “other business”, as I usually call it, will hopefully have a good year. It is certainly starting the year with a decent order book, which is the extreme opposite of last year. I am reasonably confident about this, but there is a lot of potentially difficult challenges ahead. I think we are up to them, but if the first new business project goes well we may be distracted from this.

My main business, my computer one, I hope will continue to tick along without me doing a great deal. I have almost no time for it any more, but I must continue to service it, which is crazy considering the amount of work it does bring me at times. I need the cash to live, but also to help me to grow the other businesses. Depending on how things go I may be stupid and think again about bringing someone in, but it would only be for someone I considered to be the right person. Someone with a bit of character and a bit of spark. Unsociable nerds need not apply. I say that knowing that that’s exactly what I was, and still am to some degree, but I’m afraid that I don’t have time to allow someone to mature…

From a personal point of view, I am extremely conscious of the fact that I will be turning 30 years old this year (188 days to go) and this as usual makes me think two things. One, is that, just like New Year, it’s actually just another day. There’s nothing too special about it.

But that’s usually the defensive statement of someone in denial. It could also be viewed as a significant point at which I definitely definitely cannot get away with being called “young” now. There is a new generation below me, one that thinks differently, and has its own ways and means. I don’t think I am young now, but 30 would definitely be the end of it. I worry significantly that I only really have another 5 years in which to do all the things I could possibly get away with whilst in the first half of life: i.e. while being biologically and physically able to do so.

So being 30 concerns me. I wonder whether I could pass off lying about my age for a couple of years. I think, when I’m clean-shaven, I can pass for a couple of years younger than I am. But the dreaded hair is starting to give the game away.

I hope for a better 2015 for my hair. Which seems a bizarre thing to say, but it’s true. I hope things aren’t as bad as all the woe it’s caused me this year. What’s really strange is that I have an uncle and a cousin, both of whom I saw only yesterday, who are 10 and 6 years older than me, who both have better hair than me. I blame my dad’s genes.

I predict I might do something a bit unusual this year. It might be just actually going away on a real holiday. Or it might involve an external relationship. Hmmm. Maybe not. It’s not like me, on either score…

More likely, maybe, is that I do that thing which I’ve always wanted to do around music: get some proper equipment and get recording. Maybe even put the results online. I think I could gather a small following. Who knows what could happen? Hmmm. Maybe not. The YouTubes are only interested in sub-21-year-olds with attractive features.

I worry about my family, who also aren’t getting any younger. I worry about my 15 year old nephew, who is totally confused about what he wants to do with life, but won’t admit it. I worry that he is getting himself into unnecessary relationships with girls at an age where the brain is completely unable to cope with it. He wants to do his own thing, and he doesn’t want to listen. I absolutely was not the same at his age. I made some mistakes, but they were not in any way risky or dangerous to me or my future. He needs to be careful. I respected my parents, and my peers and my extended family of aunties, uncles and grandparents. They taught me a lot. He doesn’t want that.

I hope that my younger sister can find some direction this year. I hope that my brothers work out what it is they want with life, or at least make some efforts to. I hope my mum and dad have a healthy year, free of trauma and unnecessary distraction. On that same score, I hope my grandma doesn’t have anything seriously wrong with her eyes.

A lot of hopes, and a lot of dreams. An awful lot of worries.

A lot can go wrong this year, but it can also go right. I am never the optimist, but I just have a sneaking feeling that maybe things will turn out OK.

Here we go.

A Good Year. Really.

I hate the fact that I am writing, again, about the end of a year. I must write the same crap every year about how weird it is to write about the sadness of the years flying by, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

But what really is a shock is that I honestly think 2014 has been a very good year for me. I have just finished reading back my traditional start-of-year post and I seem to have done and achieved roughly what I wanted.

There is a bit of cheating though. I feel like I set my expectations low for 2014. At the start of the year I was worried whether the new business I am involved in was going to achieve anything significant. Turns out the answer was yes. It has had a very positive year, with a decent return on investment, and more to come. It has one or two members of staff, and a third if we stretch the definition. That is some good growth, and it feels like a real company. I like the feeling of running a real company. It feels like an achievement to be proud of.

My IT business has also had a decent year. It has peaked, yes, but it is a decent peak to be at. I tried my best to share the business with two other people by giving them an opportunity to work for me. It didn’t work out, but I tried. I wanted to move on and allow someone else to start filling in the gaps. But they failed. Maybe I could have tried again and found someone else. Maybe there is a right person out there to do the job. But I started to think it wasn’t worth spending my time on it, and that I should just start to prioritise the jobs instead… especially given the impact it was having on my life.

I had written at the start of the year that employing someone would make it a very good year. It was, but turns out it was a good year because of what it taught me, not necessarily because they have stuck with me…

I hoped that this year I would get myself a house. I was wrong as far as this was concerned, but the way it has turned out I am not bothered. With the potential to turn it into a new revenue stream, I am excited about this delay. We are very close indeed to starting out on a new track. It’s going to allow me to start on a new project entirely. New work is good for me. It allows me to reset the boredom clock. So this too has helped to make it a good year.

In my private life, I haven’t changed at all. I am still a closed individual, with no real worries about it. I have had an opportunity to maybe look at extending this to another person, but even the way I write about this is so functional and stilted that I surely would be a disaster. I am not bothered either way, really. My unconscious is telling me to do something about it, because I’m not getting any younger, and certainly am no oil painting, but my conscious mind loves my freedom and independence. I love my own company. That has been something I have reinforced all year, and it, to some minor extent, also contributes to why I think it was a good year. I like my Sundays on my own, with my guitar, my voice, my music, my radio, my internet, doing my things. It’s sad, but it is me.

So I end the year without any regrets, really. My work life is good, I am accepting of my personal life, I have good prospects to come, and my family are OK. It has been kind to us all.

So 2014 is a Good Year. It might even be a Very Good Year. But hey, good is good, right?

A year successfully navigated, with finances improved, prospects improved, and experiences, generally, being positive. Not bad, really.

Schmocktober

Another new month begins, and once more I’m in a waiting game.

I don’t know how and why this kind of thing keeps happening to me, but at present a couple of things have changed which have opened up life to yet more sitting around waiting for something to happen.

Firstly, my housemate has told me that he’s leaving. This was somewhat glorious news, but I had to pretend I was a little disappointed, of course. But – and here’s the big but – I don’t believe a word he tells me any more.

In truth, I failed. I let myself believe that he might actually be telling me the truth for once. Indeed, I even saw him pack up two boxes of crap that have been in the living room since we moved in here (ridiculous, I know) and take them with him. I could hardly believe it. It must have been true. His exact words: “I’ll probably be leaving sooner rather than later”.

Skip forward three weeks, and nothing else has happened. In fact, at a chance discussion last night, he revealed that he’d probably be here for a while now. Erm.

So now I’m annoyed with myself for believing something he told me, when I have been telling myself not to believe anything he says for months. I should have just rolled with it, and not let myself get excited for finally getting my own bit of freedom, because now it feels snatched away from me. If he left, it would remove all the pressure I have on myself to try and get out of the situation I’m in, which is made far more difficult for me because; a) my business makes it useful I stay here; and b) I don’t have the money to buy around here; c) I don’t have the logistical support to move far anyway.

The next step is just waiting. Waiting for something to happen. That is the story of my life.

Meanwhile, on a work front, I have had some relatively Good News, that might help push my business forward financially. I am waiting on a big deal with a relatively large company. If I get it, it will provide a good income stream, and security too.

But did you see that magic word in that last sentence? WAITING.

Every day that ticks by, I feel older. I am finally accepting that I am just not young any more. I am 27 now. Yes, it’s not “old” in context, but the fact is that there are a number of things in my life that I really ought to have done by now. Like, maybe, found some happiness relationship-wise.

I hate thinking about things like that, but in my quieter moments, and always in the back of my mind, it is a nagging doubt.

Here’s to a good month…

Where Did All The Music Go

On Saturday I did something pretty unusual (for me) and actually went out on my own for a little bit to a local acoustic music night. Being a big music fan, a guitar player, and in a decent venue I liked, I thought I couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity.

While the night overall was quite enjoyable, there were a few depressing conclusions I drew.

  1. I am old
  2. I used to be better than most of the people I saw
  3. I need to get out more

Most of the people at the venue were either clearly younger than me or were mostly younger than me. The only ones who were older were the parents of those singing! That was just an observation, but when you’re sitting on your own amidst a bunch of what were, effectively, kids, it didn’t make me feel all that comfortable.

The second point also grated a lot. Of all the acts there, I think I could say that, “in my prime” I was better than all of them.

In recent years, due to work, a crappy social life and a general lack of inclination, I have neglected my musical side. The guitar, the source of so much fun and enjoyment in my life – and the reason why I was able to do the US summer camp thing in the first place – has not occupied the place in my life that it used to. Certainly this year might be the least I’ve ever played it. So much so that I have lost a certain degree of my abilities. I’ve forgotten how to play things. My fingers aren’t as tough as they should be. Neither are my arm muscles. It’s all so feeble now.

My guitar abilities have never been all that good, but what I used to have was a decent voice, even if I do say so myself… the guitar was a means to an end. No one generally wants to hear an a capella vocalist. But people do like to listen to someone singing with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. I bash out a little rhythm guitar and sing. Honestly, I used to be reasonably good.

Now I am poor. Just like lack of guitar work, lack of singing has led to disaster. I’m sure I can’t sing anywhere near as well as I used to be able to. My voice has become weak and weedy.

It’s nothing a little practice wouldn’t fix. Maybe. But when you live with someone you hate, playing guitar and singing is not possible. Also, the walls are so paper-thin that if I practice vocalising at a normal volume, I don’t think I could ever look at my neighbours again.

What I need is a soundproof room to practice in. Ha, ha, ha.

Meanwhile, my third point is perhaps the most difficult of them all. I’ve always known I need to get out more, but I have singularly failed to do that, month after month, year after year. Something about not wanting to spend money because of how much I’m trying to save up to get out of here, but also the fact that a) going out on your own is usually rubbish, and a bit sad; and b) I don’t actually enjoy it all that much. I can’t help it.  I’ve always just been a bit hermit like. Sitting around in a room full of people I don’t know, most of whom are probably drunk, acting arrogant and boisterous, and all the while feeling pretty shy… it doesn’t hold any enjoyment for me at all. Being with friends can improve the situation, but I don’t have friends around here…

A little bit of music caused this train of thought. I shouldn’t have let it reach this stage. (is that a pun?)

The question is what can I do about it. Hmmm.

Minor Partying

It’s not been a particularly notable week. The days have flown by, I’ve been busy, but nothing too exciting.

Except for last night. Last night I had been invited to a house party. I had been looking forward to it for a while because I know the host well and there was also going to be free curry. Better still, as a vegetarian, she was going to make sure there was an option for me, rather than just eating poppadoms…

The funny thing was that my housemate had also been invited, as he also knows the host. We arrived about 7:30pm – and I proceeded to the bottle of wine I’d brought as I’d made sure I got a veggie one (yes, I’m that fussy). But I wasn’t very keen on arriving with my housemate as it almost makes it look like we’re an item, which we most definitely are not…

Anyway, it was as bad as I feared, getting introduced to people at the same time as my housemate, which was awkward. I know I shouldn’t be bothered, but it irritates me that people do make assumptions and I have to correct the record when people ask the inevitable questions. Not good. However, I did do so in the two occasions it was asked. The situation also benefited when my lightweight housemate decided he’d had enough after half an hour. Washout.

So I stayed until the end and got decidedly merry. I don’t really drink at all, so drinking a whole bottle of wine plus a bottle of beer had quite an effect on me. I wasn’t drunk, but I was definitely a lot more sociable than I normally am. This was good, as not knowing anyone else there except the hosts, it passed away the hours. They also had a table football, which was excellent fun, although it was in the garden and bloody freezing…

I stumbled home at around midnight as it wasn’t going to be a very long night anyway. I enjoyed it. I was in one of those moods though where if there would have been anyone females there around my age I might have actually started talking to them. I have felt a bit like that lately. The time is fast running out for me to get cracking on this relationship business…

In the event, that didn’t happen. Instead, there was much banter about age and the passing of time. It was quite distressing when we were all talking about the 80s. Not that I remember any of it, being born in 1985, but I realised that the 80s are no longer “20 years ago” as they had almost always been. They are now 30 years ago. I am showing my age quite badly…

Still, I was the youngest male there, so I got to make them all feel old. It won’t be long before the boot’s on the other foot…

Whither 30?

Whither. It takes me back to university days, that word. It was brand new in my vocabulary back then. We used to use it a lot in pretentious lecture, tutorial or essay titles. It has that “sounds like he knows what he’s talking about” feeling to it.

A few days ago, it suddenly dawned on me that I’m now the wrong side of mid-twenties, and beyond that point is 30. Now I’ve tried in the past to ignore these arbitrary age distinctions, but something peculiar about this age struck me really hard.

I think the reason is that one of my earliest memories was of my mum being 30. I remember her birthday party, as it were. I remember her wearing a big novelty badge with 30 on it. In fact, it’s still in one of the drawers somewhere at home. I must have been 7 at the time, and marvelling at how old my mum was. 30! It just amazed me, in the way things do when you’re young.

It is scary to be fast approaching this age myself. There are still a good few years to go, but it shocks me to think that if things don’t go so well, I could turn 30 with no further developments in my life. By the time my mum was 30, she’d had three children, with a fourth to follow the next year. She’d been happily married for 10 years, and was well on the property ladder, with another step up to go a few years ahead.

Comparisons between one generation and the other are never particularly fair, but none more so than now. Yes, the 80s recessions were not particularly nice either, but this one seems to be going on and one with no obvious end in sight after three years. I have a brother who is jobless, and cannot find anything, and another brother who faces an uncertain future if he can’t get the grades for university. My younger sister is not far behind.

My elder sister is doing OK, though. At last. She’s finally found someone nice, and I now have a brother-in-law. Imminently, there will also be a new niece or nephew. I’m hoping its a nephew, but I know my sister wants a girl! They’ve also just moved into their first home, their first step on the property ladder. I lent them some money to make it happen. Better to bring some happiness to someone, rather than it sitting in my bank account, earning less interest than inflation can erode it.

I wish I could apply the same logic to me. Maybe the reason I’m so unhappy, and so lonely, is I just don’t want to spend money. You gotta speculate to accumulate, they say. Apparently.

Only one thing I can do. Gotta keep plugging away…

 

26

It’s that time of year again. The time when I consider why it is I even carry on existing.

Today I am 26 years old. In what might possibly be one of the most uneventful birthdays I’ve ever had, today has come and gone without me doing anything of any note. I’ve had to do work. I’ve had to do housework. The sun didn’t shine until late in the day. And I didn’t go anywhere, apart from to a neighbour’s house to help them with – what else – their computer.

Most of this is my fault. Most of it is a direct consequence of me being a total bore, living in an area in which I don’t have any real friends. Certainly no one around my age. I have older adult friends, including some of my neighbours and a couple of customers who have become friends, who I now get on with well.

But the problem is simple: they all have their own lives. They all have their own friendship and social circles. I’m very much a peripheral character.

Not working in a workplace, the chances of this ever changing are absolutely remote. The only way it could change is if I took up some form of social “activity”. Something, or anything, that might just get me involved with other people. That might happen, as I’m being nagged by a client to join the governing body of the local school. I’d probably be a good school governor, because I’m boring enough to study the associated forest of paperwork. Yawn.

It’s hardly going to set my social life on fire though.

Meanwhile, the rest of my life is… OK. Business is decent, and that keeps me somewhat sane. My family life is reasonably good. Finances are also steadily improving month by month.

What isn’t is the relationship with my housemate. I desperately need to get out of here sooner rather than later. We don’t really talk any more about anything other than work. Somehow any semblance of having common interests has vanished. In fact, the more I analyse it the more I realise we don’t actually have anything to talk about. That’s probably why we avoid each other. We don’t socialise like normal friends would, mainly because of the awkward silences.

I’d love to be able to afford my own place. But being self-employed, I can’t see it ever happening any time soon. I need to have a good few years of books behind me, showing continual improvement and a very solid income, especially if I was to try and buy a house on my own. Then again, I’m not even convinced I’d be brave enough to plough all my savings into a house. It’s portrayed as a risk-free investment, but I don’t think it is any more.

What I need is for house prices to come down around 20%. That’s not gonna happen Down South. So I will continue renting. But maybe I can try and rent on my own.

In any event, 26 really is time I sorted my life out, one way or another. At current rates, this next year will be no better than the last. And that is a worry. I always like to think there has been some progress as the years go by. But now there is a very real danger of stagnating.

If I’m still in this position this time next year, then I will have to force myself to reassess.

Until then, maybe I’ll have a much more enjoyable “official” birthday when I next go home to see my family.

Dull.