Poids inconnu

Je sais bien que je suis décharné. Mais je ne sais pas combien je pèse exactement.

Ouais, j’ai acheté un pèse-personne électronique à JYSK. Néanmoins . . . ça ne me dérange pas qu’il y a une différence de quelques hectogrammes lorsque je marche sur lui pour la deuxième fois après une minute. Mais quand l’indication du soir est 56.3 kg, et, après un souper et un sommeil, l’indication du matin est 51.7 kg, comment puis-je compter sur un tel pèse-personne ? Certes je n’ai pas perdu plus de quatre kilos durant sept heures du sommeil ?

Je vais essayer de me peser juste après me reveiller pour quelques jours, et si ça ne marche pas, peut-être acheter une nouvelle pile, mais je suis pas sûr qu’il changera rien. De toute façon, pour l’instant je sais seulement que je pèse quelque chose entre cinquante et soixante kilogrammes . . .

 

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Gluer

My attitude towards my current employment is often somewhat ambiguous.

For instance, it’s one in a printing house, my favourite working environment, but I’ve ended up operating a “folding carton gluing machine”, the worst finishing operation for me, as one can only check the quality of the product by destroying it. (And since two of the other operators have recently given their notices, it seems I’m, err, glued to it.)

Or the commute: there are stretches without a pavement, preventing me from walking the whole way; on the other hand, I’ve discovered that the length of the bus journeys enables me to take out my Kindle and read a few pages of some book. Or the occasional additional shifts, good on account of the extra money, but in combination with shift work (preferable in itself) sometimes meaning I get no ‘weekend’ worth the name at all.

All in all, I blow hot and cold: congratulating myself on having this work when the job currently at hand goes fine, considering leaving when it doesn’t.

 

Terry Pratchett: The Carpet People

The author’s first published work, come out in the year the author turned 23, rewritten and republished in the year he turned 44, the year he also published his 13th Discworld novel, Small Gods, it is on par with an average Discworld novel.

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Quotations:

It’s all superstition, of course, but that’s not to say it isn’t real.
(Pismire, p 13)

 

It’s hard to explain. Or easy to explain and hard to understand.
(Noral, p 43)

 

Pismire didn’t know why, but he felt sure that everything was going to be all right.
Or, at least, more all right than it was now.
(Pismire, p 102)

 

Protected housing days’ summary

Upon my arrival in January I intended to find a job in two months and digs in another two. In the end I managed to deal with most things related to moving city (like getting a new GP), find a new job, new digs, and move out in exactly one month and one day. And yet it seemed too long.

The project is probably helpful to the normal client. Only I wasn’t a normal client. I didn’t need all those individual and group therapies and whatnot (including Alcoholics Anonymous sessions, for me a somewhat bizarre experience in its own right) to fill my spare time; I wanted an internet connexion for which the adjective ‘pathetic’ wouldn’t be a euphemism. I didn’t need company; I wanted a bit of privacy. I didn’t need help with finding a job; I wanted the possibility to work shifts. There was more to grumble about; in the end I was just going through the motions, not really caring about anything except surviving until I left. (I was consequently wasting away physically too: my BMI fell under 17.)

I wasn’t a normal client because I didn’t need them to help me fight my alcoholism. I needed them (and the rehab before them) to help me change environment despite my inhibitions (well, wimpiness). So I only grumbled on paper, and stopped altogether as soon as I got away. I never bore anybody there any grudge, and once I was out of it I could again start being grateful to the institution for helping me achieve my goal, however unwittingly.

But the first song I played in my new place was inevitably Jake Bugg’s Two Fingers, which had been playing in my mind all the time since the day before.

 

Ruth Searle: Asperger Syndrome in Adults

The first two chapters describe the symptoms and are mostly in accordance with what I have already read about the syndrome. And yes, to some degree I could tick off most of them as applying to me: difficulty in social interactions and communication, idiosyncratic patterns of speech, suffering from sensory overload, inability to screen out background noise, no interest in small talk and social chitchat, indifference to being liked and accepted, strict routines, exaggerated attention to detail, difficulty switching attention to a new topic and so on and so forth . . . The third chapter looks at the idea that Asperger’s may be just a difference, rather than a disease, with some amusing examples of how one could perceive people without it as “suffering from a neurobiological disorder characterized by preoccupation with social concerns, delusions of superiority and obsession with conformity”.

But after some time in the fourth chapter it starts to go downhill. The author concentrates on a theory of “autism as an extreme of the normal male brain”, and what she claims to be natural differences between the male and female brain is stereotypical even by my standards. In fact, I suspect that if her claims were made by a male on social media, he’d be extremely lucky get away with it. (She even does not hesitate to state, expressly and shamelessly, that men are better at some things than women!) And towards the end of the final, eighth chapter, the book actually feels more like just another generic pamphlet on “positive thinking” with hardly anything to do specifically with autism, let alone Asperger’s.

The thing is, of course: if I perceive the rest of the book as more or less a load of rubbish, why should I put any trust in what it tells at the beginning?

 

Brae: first impressions

Maybe it’s only wishful thinking: after all, what seems like ages ago I’d spent my best and most formative days here. Nevertheless, ever since coming back in January it seemed to me this city was perceptibly closer in character to Glasgow than the one where I’d spent most of the intermediate years had been. The architecture, the way people look and behave, even the weather . . . On my second Sunday here I had a stroll around the city centre and later noted down in my diary that “it can never be Glasgow or the Brae of old but I can relearn to like this city like I never liked Budweis”.

 

George Mackay Brown: Winter Tales

A collection of eighteen short stories: inevitably some are better, some worse than the others, but none really boring and none really captivating. Fairly good reading stuff for winter nights, especially if you can enjoy that somewhat old-fashioned, unhurried pace of storytelling: I was surprised to find out that with one 1975 exception all the stories were apparently written as late as 1989-95. I wasn’t so impressed with the sometimes too conspicuous Christian overtones: reading a third take on a ‘modern version’ of the same New Testament story can feel a bit monotonous, even if the theme is appropriate for the collection’s title. (Interestingly, several of the stories are also told in a ‘calendar’ format, describing a single year with a paragraph for each month.)

 

Red Yard: second full stay summary

Again, I could rant about it for days (after all, I have been there from late summer to midwinter), but I mustn’t: life goes on and I have other things to do. It’s a shame I could rarely blog while it lasted, as there surely was a lot to blog about, but it’s too late to do anything about it now. (Still, I can’t help mentioning the songs I sang to myself most often: from almost the very beginning The Sun and the Moon and Once upon a Time, and from about the time of Anndra’s leaving Days.) And in fact I did record several details here, hopefully the majority of the most important ones. A general summary then:

All things considered, despite some unpleasant features like the sketches, things were reasonably fine and I did enjoy being there. True, I didn’t feel as close to the others as during my first stay all those years ago; I made no bosom friends this time, not even with the guy I fell in love with. True, I’m still struggling with the aftermath of five months of getting up, every single day, at an unearthly hour. True, I spent too little time in my once beloved Park, and actually had just one solitary stroll around it (on my very last day before leaving). And so on. Yet there were many pleasant moments: certainly more than I would have had if I haven’t gone there. The therapies, too, were admittedly quite useless as such; but often the time was pleasant, and then again, my primarily goal wasn’t any ‘cure’, but using the spell expediently, namely to help me move town, and that aim was achieved.

Yes, all in all they were mostly days well spent. But not as well as once upon a time, and the final month left a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth. So while definitely glad to have been there, I probably won’t return for the week-long revisit in April. To be honest, only the knowledge that Anndra may come can possibly make me change my mind.

It was fine, but it’s already history now.

 

2017

At the very start of the year I was in hospital, being treated for throat cancer; at its very end I was in a rehab, sober but emotionally rather burnt out. The in-between wasn’t all that magnificent either, what with the long recovery after the chemoradiotherapy, the flat I was staying at before the rehab, the (no doubt related) alcoholic relapse within, the deaths of Ray Collier, Tormod MacGill-Eain and Tom Petty (and others), the way the Brexit talks were developing, and so on and so forth.

All the same, I shouldn’t complain. For one thing, the cancer was apparently cured. Otherwise I possibly might not be here to write this any longer. Also, during the relapse the idea of leaving the town I had learned to hate for good occurred to me, and the rehab stay helped me contrive that. I even fell in love yet again after years . . .

And of course there were all the interesting books I read and iPlayer programmes I watched, meetings with my friends from the college, not to mention minor affairs like making porridge a staple of my diet, or beginning a circle beard.

Ay, as Skipinnish have it, I’m alive, and the stars are on my side. (Notwithstanding, as Jake Bugg has it, I hold two fingers out to yesterday.)

 

Anndra

I’ve been postponing this post for weeks and weeks, because I don’t really know how to write it. I’d like to note down everything, from first noticing him while he was still in the detox to our final goodbye some four months later in front of the nurses’ room; every occupational and walking therapy we were both involved in, every smoking-area repartee and every short-but-serious conversation we ever had, every time I simply enjoyed surreptitiously watching him, everything . . . . but of course that would take ages. I’d never be able to finish it.

Suffice it to say that he was the thirteenth guy I fell in love with since the end of my National Service days, and amongst these thirteen affections, this one was probably the strangest. Because despite the fact that unlike me he was straight, young and gorgeous to look at, we seemed to be, intellectually, more or less on the same wavelength. To the extent that there was definitely a sort of rapport between us.

And yet during the almost four months we spent at the same ward we rarely talked, or at least not as much as I would have wished us to. Partly no doubt due to my typical aloofness deriving from the usual fear of becoming “that embarrassing interloping old queer”. So I never even dared to ask for his email or phone number: when he left, even such communication as we’d had came to an instant end. The chances I’ll ever hear some news about him, let alone meet him again, are infinitesimal.

Do I still miss him? Definitely; sometimes sorely. But I don’t think that a couple of years from now I’ll still miss him as much as I still miss Tommy almost three years after we parted. I’ll get along.

 

Julian D. Richards: The Vikings: A Very Short Introduction

Not bad in itself, but the author seems concerned more with debunking some popular myths by means of archaeology (indeed, at places the book almost reads like an achaeological sites’ inventory) than with telling readers what basic facts we do know about the Vikings and their lives. In fact I’m not certain one couldn’t glean more useful introductory information about the subject from Röde Orm.

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Quotation:

Our genes determine neither the language we speak nor the clothes we wear, and cultural factors are just as important as DNA in determining who we are.

 

Dram again

The rehab had always been meant for only a few months, and so had been the protected housing, but I’d intended to leave the latter for somewhere where I would spend several, possibly many, years.

Well, I failed. The digs I moved in have their disadvantages like everywhere, but generally they are better than most I had had in this country – except that there seems to be no provider ready to connect me to the Net. Sure, there is the place’s own public Wi-Fi, but typically for such, it’s slow and unreliable. Which turned this into yet another stopgap accommodation.

Meaning I decided to minimise my contacts with just about everybody, so that I can catch up on my various backlogs, mushroomed during the rehab and protected housing days, even with the connection I do have. And that these are going to be days of frugality, because I’ll have to save up for moving house once again.

But not tonight. Tonight I’m having my first dram after over six months, enjoying that after all I’m at long last living alone, and with enough spare time for myself.

 

Desk & chair

(Initially noted down at my Logbook entry for the day, having spent 3 afternoons assemblying a JYSK chair & desk for the digs; posted here, minimally edited, 20/4/18.)

The only really important thing left now is to get a proper internet connexion, all the other ideas I have (like buying laptop speakers, tea lights & tealight candle holder and bathroom scales tomorrow) are just nice but not really necessary improvements. Also I hope I’ll finally have the time to start eating more, rather than actually neglecting my after-work meals as I have been doing these last three days.
 

Postscript, 20/4/18: And I remember half-promising myself never again to buy any flatpack furniture to assemble if I could avoid it. I’d done it so many times already . . .

 

Meeting my college mates in Brae

(Initially noted down at my Logbook entry for the day; posted here, minimally edited, 20/4/18.)

It was good to see them, although the notion we were oldish and would never experience anything like UK ’90 again did enter my mind. Also they did talk things not much interesting for me like sport, local politics and their approaching skiing trip in the Dolomites, but it troubled me less than usual, knowing that presumably from now on I would be meeting them more often.

 

Blogging in hand

The following grumblings were initially scribbled at the ends of my – then temporarily handwritten – diary entries towards the end of my stay in a ‘protected housing’ before moving to digs rented on my own. Posted here, minimally edited, 14/4/18.

Thu, 25/1/18
It occurs to me that except for looking up digs on a smartphone being probably one hell of a bother I wouldn’t really care if I couldn’t use this laptop again – here and even ever. I’d have a pretext to buy another Asus again to have a new start with once I live on my own once mair. And of course I’m rather pleased with being about to start a job again, and one like that as well – printing house, reasonable income, later on shift work … I think as soon as I feel at least a little established there I’ll begin hunting the digs. The guys here are friendly and not really daft but there’s no enough privacy for even a five-minute meditation/zazen session and the TV at night is a real bugger.

Sat, 27/1/18
I don’t know whether I’m gonnae be able to wake up (& get up) in time for work on Monday, I’m not even completely certain I’m gonnae be able to get through an 8-hr shift, or 5 of them, let alone whether I’ll get along with the people there and manage to learn something I was finding rather difficult in Koh-i-noor. (Fucking glue …) What I do know is I’m gonnae begin to look in earnest for some digs whether I keep the job or not. I don’t plan to finish this ‘after-cure’, I’m convinced it’s doing me more harm than good, what with the fucking TV all day long and beyond midnight, hardly any time/opportunity for a quiet time to think, time restrictions adversely affecting my earning opportunities, too many people sharing the facilities (shower/washing machine/loos/smoking area), and of course, as important as the TV, basically no Net connexion worth the name when it comes to the laptop. At least the phone is fine Net-wise, and the rent is low, mais je ne vie pas, je vivote ici. Basically I put life on hold; I’m just going through the movements and I wait for a chance to get out and start living again after. In the meantime I’m mostly reading.
Odd, come to think of it. After a few months I’ve finally something to look forward to again. Ay, having a quiet time for myself now and then, and working on the ever-growing Net backlog.

Tue, 30/1/18
I’m really determined to start calling digs agents on Friday, I want to get the fuck out of here asa fucking p. (Till then of course I mean to play the game, not telling oniebody until I’ve landed some digs and am about to actually flit.)

Wed, 31/1/18
Incidentally another reason to leave here quick is the programme’s a waste of time as far as I’m concerned while often leaving me with little spare time to do even Anki [word drill] & proper news’ reading.

Sun, 4/2/18
In the morning, returning from the Heršpická St, it occurred to me that there was little significant difference between my life now (since say December) & the two cancer-days alcoholic relapses – ay, instead of boozing I’m going to work, but mostly I’m just killing time until somehow I’m able to start living once again.

Mon, 5/2/18
Dinna want tae jinx it but it seems fae Friday I mecht begin living again. Their Wi-Fi mecht be a joke as well but I’d be allowed to have a provider put in a cable if it proves so, and after several months I’d be living on my own again. Dinnae mean tae tell anybody yet till A get a promised email but heck, it does look like this hibernating period should finally come to an end. Cannae wait to start working on my massive backlog, daeing the languages properly again, and maybe even hae an access to iPlayer once more (& BBC news on my laptop, rather than on the smartphone only). Ay, cannae wait. Hae sth to look forward to again.

Tue, 6/2/18
Apparently it’s obvious how glad I am to flit, [the housing’s manager] even mentioned it (but took it fairly well). I’m slightly anxious about walking the distance with all my belongings and having to pay the initial amount in cash thus having over 25K around me for some time but heck, I’ll cope somehow; 3 more nights here, 3 more shifts in the printing house, the move & then the weekend begins – and life recommences.

Wed, 7/2/18
Basically only had time to bookmark news but I no longer give a toss, I’m beginning to work on my backlog(s) on Saturday.

 

Svenska a-rithist

(Initially written 20/1/18 in an .rtf file on account of unreliable internet connexion, posted here 14/4/18.)

Leis an fhìrinn innse, chan eil an t-àite seo, an suidheachadh seo, a’ còrdadh rium gu math. Seadh, ‘it’s a roof’, agus chan eil e daor. Ach bithidh an telebhisean an-còmhnaidh air dar a bhios fear dhen chòignear còmhla ris a tha mi a’ fuireach a-staigh; bith faraman eile ann gu tric is minig; tha an t-adhar salach a’ bhaile eadhon nas miosa leis gu bheil sinn uile nar smocairean (agus nar smocadh san taigh-beag nach eil beag ach bìdeach); le righailtean na buidhinn, chan urrainn dhomh ach obair le sioftan na maidne a shireadh, agus mar sin air adhart.

Agus tha an eadar-lìn, an Wi-Fi, dìreach truagh. Tha e cho uabhraidh (cha luchdaich e a-nuas bbc.com air a’ choimpiutair-uchd agam, gun luaidh air bbc.co.uk no cuid sam bith le .fr aig an deireadh, agus dàrna leth na h-ùine cha luchdaidh e a-nuas làrach sam bith) gun do chuir mi romham gun cleachdainn an coimpiutair-uchd an ìre mhath dìreach airson sireadh na h-obrach agus airson obrach às loidhne. Gun sgrìobhainn dè bu mhath leam a dhèanamh dha faidhle teacsa agus gun nì mi na h-uile, ceum air ceum, dar a bhios mi a’ fuireach mar a b’ àbhaist dhomh: nam aonar, le ceangal eadar-lìn math.

Ach mar sin, on nach eil fastadh agam fhathast, agus gun urrainn a’ mhòr-chuid dhe na rudan a bu mhath leam a dhèanamh a dhèanamh, bha cus saor-ùine agam. Bha agam cur-seachad eile a lorg. Mar sin, cho-dhùin mi aig a’ cheann thall gun b’ e an t-Suainis, seach an Nirribhis, a thòisichinn air ionnsachadh – agus thòsich mi an-diugh. (A’ cleachdadh Duolingo, mar an do rinn mi leis an Fhraingis.)

Bha mi caran fo sprochd o chionn ghoirid, ach as dèidh a’ chiad dhà leasain, dh’fhairich mi dìorras às ùr.

 

Oidhche Challainn ’17

’S ann beagan neònach a bha i, oir bha ‘lights-out’ aig uair: dìreach dar a bha meadhan-oidhche an Alba. Ach dh’èist mi ris a’ Bhig Bhen (a’ chlag ann an Lunnainn) air Radio Scotland, as dèidh sin dh’èist mi ri MP3 dhe Flower of Scotland air a seinn leis na Corries (an dà chuid dhiubh air fòn-tapaidh, tro fhònaichean-cluaise), agus leugh mi The Path of Zen le Robert Aitken as dèidh sin, ged nach b’ urrainn dhomh smocadh tuilleadh.

 

Yule ’17

Not so bad in the end. A third of the guys went on Christmas leaves, and – despite subbing for the current chairman – seldom did I have to come in contact with those who stayed except at meals, in the morning and at night doing the fatigue duties, and occasionally when smoking. Mostly I was all on my own in my room, doing my languages, watching iPlayer and reading.

 

Peter Harvey: An Introduction to Buddhism

For an ‘introduction’ a really comprehensive book. I learnt a lot from it, and mean to read it again after some time, skipping now the passages I’m not all that interested in (like The Modern History of Buddhism in Asia) while studying more diligently those I didn’t fully comprehended and/or remember the first time round (like Mahāyāna Philosophies: The Varieties of Emptiness).

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Quotation:

The more a person deceives others, the more he is likely to deceive himself.

 

Burnt out

I already mentioned in mid-November that after Dan’s departure I was beginning to feel more and more alienated. After Anndra’s December departure, I definitely became so. There are very few guys left I’m somewhat interested in; I couldn’t care less about the past, present and future of most. I learnt to smoke in the smoking area usually ignored by the others. What keeps me sane is having a single room and being online.

I’m not even looking forward to going elsewhere in January, as I’ll have to meet there more new people I probably won’t be interested in. I’m not even looking forward to revisiting here, even if this meant seeing Anndra once more (which it probably wouldn’t anyway). I’m burnt out; just looking forward to renting another tenancy and being, outwith working hours, all on my own again.

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The good thing is that it no longer hurts, as it did for a couple of weeks, during which I was visibly pissed off most of the time when in company. I just no longer give a toss, calmly waiting for the end of my stay here.

In the background Pete Seeger began singing his Turn, Turn, Turn. I’ll be back.