Sunday, 13 September 2015

Final Year, Part 4

March 23rd
"I am a flame. dysfunctional and disaffected females are the moth. Today A joined the others in asking me what she is going to do with her life, her mind tortured by low self-esteem and an unrequited fancy. I am only too happy to help in her case. It seems she is feeling the pain of letting the years roll by and is in need of change. Restless but paralysed by inaction because her confidence has been stolen, if it ever really existed. The reality is that I am not really sure what I can do to help. Listening is the greatest tool at my disposal. I suppose I understand more than some."
The curtain-raising analogy seems a little laboured to me now which may infer that I was more than a little tired that evening. It may even be a legitimate charge, one that I do not care to counter, that its two key components might better serve reality if they were quietly interchanged. Even so, despite these two quibbles of style and content I fully expect any reader with a rudimentary grasp of English to decode the intended meaning, namely that ladies with 'problems' appear to enter my field of perception more often that one would expect by chance.  
     Sometimes the conversations stimulated by this phenomena are more than I can stand and it leaves me resenting the person who is asking me for help, simply because they have left me feeling drained and depressed. But in the beginning I try to treat all my clients the same. Like I wrote above, I am only to happy to help and I find myself asking the types of questions I wanted people to ask me when I felt like they do. The right question can draw out of someone something they desperately want to say but are afraid to because they think nobody wants to hear.
      Honestly, I don't think most people do want to hear and it's kind of sad if that is the case but maybe that is the reason I am attracted to these people, or vice-versa, or both. Regardless of whether that is true or not I am doubtful that I am able to provide any real succour for these people. I'm no life-coach and have serious suspicion over my capacity for compassion. Perhaps the best I can do is to help them learn from my mistakes so that maybe they won't waste as much time felling shit as I have,

March 27th
"Glad to see the end of those three days, the end of those nine weeks. I became extremely vexed with it all by the end of the day. My project is fucking nothing at all. When I look at the others I feel an impending sense of embarrassment about the forthcoming presentation. As for work, well it is just an absolutely ludicrous example of a badly run business. People who have no clue what they should be doing. Managers who simply do not want to manage. Money and energy seeping out through the floors. The burden of workload is completely unreasonable. A lack of forward planning on at least one level of management."  
The best thing about Christianity is the holidays! There isn't even a realistic contender for their dethronement and the long slow drag towards Easter only served to heighten the pleasure when the holidays finally arrived. It had been a typically monotonous series of lectures and labs up to this point and I was seriously just fucked-off with the whole thing by now. 
     It amuses me now to read that I thought my final year project was a complete disaster at this stage. When we broke for Easter all I had was a big box of completely unrelated jigsaw pieces with no idea what picture I was expected to compile from them (I exaggerate slightly but I can assure you that my project was fucking dreadful). I am only amused now because, in the end, it actually worked out quite nicely and I've even been placed on the short-list for an award because of it. It's something I would do well to remember next time I find myself struggling and ready to capitulate. Perseverance is a magnificent force. 
     As for work, well it hasn't really changed in the interlude between writing and reading this diary entry. Myopia rules! In some ways it has become quite entertaining to watch the degeneration of something that was at one time fairly impressive. It does give me acres of fodder for both laughter and complaint, which are two of the primary perks of a job like this. But that is all tempered by the frustration of seeing something, once vital, descend into complete disorder. I feel like an alzheimer's relative watching helplessly as the disease purges relentlessly towards its inevitable ending.

March 30th
"Waking up this morning was a complete and utter head-fuck. I thought I had time travelled about three years in reverse gear. 7am, still wrecked on the second day of a hangover because I've been out drinking at the weekend, dragging myself out of bed before driving to Marks and Spencers for work at 8am and a quick smoke before popping in through the back door. The day itself was weird but not too weird, it was just strange chatting to some of the daytime staff. Apparently J is pregnant so I will be getting a new manager soon and and my first impressions of E are pretty favourable." 
The description does justice to the bleak reality of my full-time sentence at Newry's corporate Strangeways. Humans have an enormous capacity to overlook their own histories of pain and suffering in the glare of the associated pleasure. Even the most agonising of vomit-ejaculating hangovers or the severest of oxygen depriving workouts are swiftly forgotten as the endorphins begin to gush and another nights revelry is being planned. This is how it was for me because until that Monday morning I had forgotten how awful I used to feel in that routine. 
April 3rd
"I am still amazed and not at all amused at how many people, at least superficially, subscribe to the ludicrous demands of Christian Theology. It is an intellectual nadir for the human race when people refuse to eat meat on a Friday because they fear eternal punishment. So many people walked through M&S today in search of fish, which is of course perfectly acceptable. It frustrates me that I don't have the confidence or capacity to articulate my derision of the superstition. Anyway, I woke up this morning with the depression hangover from last night. It is a little bit of a worry with the exam stretch approaching." 
As ludicrous as the theological demands are, and they are hideously unenlightened, they still aren't quite as ludicrous as the fact that a significant number of the population still adhere to them. It depresses me to see otherwise intelligent people acting like the sheep in the perfectly insidious Christian analogy of the shepherd and his flock. Don't get me wrong, I am all for people doing stupid things (stupid can have its pleasures) but I am totally against people doing stupid things because someone else has been telling them it is really quite a virtuous course to be taking. I think the ' if they told you to go jump off a bridge would you do it?' rule should be applied in cases like these, i.e. use your head.
     Although I get frustrated at not being able to articulate these thoughts verbally, sometimes I think I should take that as a stepping-off point so that I can avoid the mental vexation that this type of thing can cause me. Perhaps I would be a little happier if I let things slide once in a while and amused myself with other pursuits. Perhaps, but I'll probably never find out if that is true of not.  

April 7th
"I am listening to "The Archduke Trio" by Beethoven. My room is dimly lit from a lamp  and I am eagerly awaiting a reply to a message from C. It is a scene and a somewhat curious one  for me but it is coloured with an air of romance. I can't say that classical music has ever appealed to me but the piano tones in this piece are exquisite, even to this philistine. But I am not terribly original, having taken inspiration from "Kafka on the Shore". My message has not arrived yet and it leaves me in limbo. Denying that I am glancing towards my phone every few seconds is futile. The trio are coming to an end." 
My hazy memory of this evening is sepia-tinted because it encapsulates a brief moment in time when that music was playing every night and it seemed as if I was eternally awaiting a reply to a text message. It is funny how even slightly sad things can make good memories. 
      The reply I may have been pining for didn't arrive often and it was almost never immediate but there was solace in Beethoven and books. 
        Reading this back it has struck me that this scene is somehow analogous to my prevailing disposition in life. A dimly lit room and a neediness for some kind of attention; sequestered romance and lack of originality;  an obscure feeling of transition and self-denial; the feeling that something good is coming to an end.  

April 8th
"Things seem to be tipping along quite nicely from time to time. I then have the sense that I am positively heading in the right direction. No time to dwell on wasted time. Today Mairead came up with Eoin and Eabha. Rather unusually it was a lot of fun playing with then, especially Eoin. Not because I don't usually want to or because I don't see him often enough but because he doesn't tend to engage with me on Sundays. He actually came looking for me a few times today. It was almost like it was in the old days when he was a baby growing up and I would have spent hours playing with him. It was a nice reminder. Otherwise today I just went to work. Did a little college work but Eoin's interruptions stifled that somewhat. I've been thinking about my stomach and how I need to reduce it so I'm going to destroy myself on the bike." 
It is pleasant to feel, at least once in a while, that your life is progressing steadily in the right direction. This is noteworthy only because it is so uncommon. Much more common is that I perceive only entropy in my existence as my mind degenerates into varying levels of disorder. I suppose that on this one day in April I must have found myself reasonably contented with the trajectory I was on, owing to the relative proximity of those otherwise dreaded final exams. 
      It's a rather wonderful kind of fun playing with nieces and nephews, especially when you know that you get to return them at the end of the day. The conversations I have with them are unquestionably some of the most enjoyable I have as younger kids have a much greater ability to to command attention than most adults do. As fun as all the running and jumping and squealing and laughing is however, it comes with an associated threshold that once exceeded takes at least one nights sleep to redress. The threshold is usually reached around the third instance of fighting or crying and that's when I'm off. That sounds a little harsh but the reality is that in this case you really can get too much of a good thing. I may have digressed a little from the contents of the diary entry here but that is my prerogative. 
       I kind of destroyed myself on the bike this summer. It had no effect in reducing the dynamic quality of my stomach.

April 10th
"My final day of work for ten weeks was nothing short of uneventful. I was a little surprised at my own mood in that I was neither excited or sad that I was withdrawing. Of course I am going to miss some of the people in there but those I could probably count on one hand. The excitement wasn't seen because although it is a career break it is not a holiday and I go straight back into routine on Monday morning. The money question worries me slightly but only because I don't want to annihilate my savings. I think if I am able to maintain my discipline as I have for the past 9 or 10 days I should be able to stretch my paycheck further than usual."
Those ten weeks off seem like a million years ago now. Actually it doesn't even seem as if the sabbatical ever occurred. The only thing I would have changed about my time off was to have taken longer than I did. I think at one when I had little else to be doing with my time I may have found myself at a loss for company and things to do but not so now. 
      It really is only the people you work with that you miss when you leave a job like mine. The rest is just money for nonsense and boy is there a lot of nonsense (but not a lot of money). But even the people I didn't miss quite as much as I though I would, which is a little sad in it's own way. Being so busy with assignments and exams I didn't really have time to miss anyone. I didn't really have time to have emotions, or a life, or a biscuit. Fucking exams ruin everything!
      Somehow I did survive financially, although I did manage to decimate multiple bank accounts in the pursuit of happiness and holidays. But that was all worth it. In fact, if I could go back and do it again I would, only to it bigger, better and bolder. I really don't like saving money but if it buys me plane tickets to places I haven't been before I can do without the lobster in my lunch box.       

May 9th
"Saturday evening is always a strange one when you relate it back to days gone by. It is eternally linked to drunken nights in Newry desperately trying to grab hold of a girl for the night or desperately depressed. So even now when I have largely exercised that need to go out every weekend there is still a little pang in my belly that is trying to tell me that I am missing out on something. The feeling becomes more acute when you have snapchat and Facebook telling you that everyone else is having such a great time. Just one of the many downsides to social media. Still, none of it makes me want to go out really." 
I used to despise Saturday nights in and Saturday nights out. The reasons for hating Saturday nights in was a cocktail of FOMO (fear of missing out), the fucking horrible prospect of having to watch Match of the Day and the nagging fear that I didn't know where my next shift was coming from. Of those three only FOMOTD (fear of match of the day) remains intact. Fear of missing out evaporated when I realised that I really wasn't missing out on anything I hadn't seen before in Newry on a Saturday night. I would imagine it is statistically probable that I've experienced all possible combinations of drunken fun Newry has to offer and most of them really aren't all that great. As for the tertiary reason for my disillusion, I've probably just realised that women have a lot more to offer than the shift. 
      My reasons for hating those Saturday nights out are many. Hideous clothes,Tequila Rose and wedding discos; make-up caked and tan faked; the 'Sophie's choice' of Canal Court or Bellinis; endlessly queuing for overpriced alcohol before repeating the effort for overpriced taxis; drunken disappointment, the impending hangover and another wasted Sunday; Newry.

May 14th
"Today I found myself  totally and utterly mentally exhausted from the efforts I have been putting in. Twice I fell asleep in the middle of my attempts to study. Whatever it was, I just couldn't find the drive and focus to really get stuck into the DSP study like I needed to. I even tried going to the library at one point but that was a fucking disaster. In the end I managed to squeeze out a few hours in the evening and the work I had done last week should help a lot. C text me after midnight with pics of her in dresses, asking my opinion. Is she fucking with my head?" 
To be totally honest I don't know why I bothered to mention falling asleep in the middle of my attempts to study, it happens fairly often. Having said that I was probably more exhausted that usual, simply due to the subject I was trying to study for. I had an exam on digital signal processing the next morning. This means trying to understand how to use certain algorithms to design digital filters and implementing something called the Discrete Fourier Transform to analyse the frequency content of a signal. I feel sick just thinking about it now. 
      I don't know what I was thinking when I went to the library. It is always a fucking disaster when I go because there are just too many sexy A-Level students studying for their exams and I get terminally distracted. Perhaps I have gotten that the wrong way around. Now that I think about it I probably go to the library for the sexy A-Level students and it turns into a fucking disaster because I have to study when I am there! Anyway I finished with 95% for the module in question so I guess they weren't that sexy after all.
      Either this girl is fucking with my head or I have once again inadvertently installed myself as the gay best friend. Either way, she came to the right person for fashion advice and of course she wore the dress I chose.

May 22nd
"Third year final exam day! Didn't that just fly by? actually my dear, not at all. Nevertheless it is here and I am delighted for this. As per my routine I awoke at 4am so that I could get some last minute cramming in. On the whole the exam was not too bad at all but probably not likely to do exceptionally well. Afterwards I got out of there because I didn't want to hang around for the post-exam chat. I had my haircut and then met McCoy in Newry before driving to Dublin for drinks. It was a strange evening in a way but quite a good one. I had a laugh on the way round to Whelans. And then there was Whelans."
It certainly was a long year to get to this point but a good one too. I remember the exam, not my best not my worst, pretty much as I had expected. I remember more the effort it took to stay in the exam hall to read over answers and try to squeeze a few more marks from the paper when I was just bursting to get out of there. 
     It always feels like a slight anti-climax when you come out of the final exam of the year. As great as it was to be finished I was totally exhausted from all the work and the 4am cramming sessions and if I'm honest I probably would have been just as happy to go home and climb into bed that night rather than go on the lash. 
     In Dublin we went on a slightly labyrinthine pub crawl along the South side and it was fun, if not a particularly raucous evenings entertainment. After midnight we stepped into Whelans and almost immediately things got out of hand for some of us. But that's a story for another time...

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