Times ticking eh?

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Joe took a long gulp of his ice-cold beer. Placing the bottle in front of him, he watched as the bubbles made their way to the top with ease.

“It’s a sign of sexual frustration you know” said the man. Joe had not realised that he had been tearing off the label and rolling the damp paper between his finger tips. How dare the man interrupt my thoughts. Joe smiled faintly at the man, in a way that he hoped exuded an air of solitude without coming across as abruptly rude.

“Times ticking eh?” said the man, taking a swig of his whisky. Joe felt a wash of repulsion as he looked back at the man. How can he let himself rot like that. Must be an alcoholic. “What?” Joe asked, losing patience with the man already.

“Time is always running ahead off us, it never waits for us to catch up” The man smiled at Joe, revealing his toothless gums but a smile that reached his eyes. Joe ignored his comment. How could he possibly know what I’m going through. Drunkard. But this was Joes problem. He wasn’t going through anything. Life, he felt, was constantly batting him down. He could not for the life of him get anywhere. He tried. Oh my did he try. Constantly grabbing those opportunities in a desperate attempt for some small slither of success. It happens to everyone but me, God I’m trying and you’re not helping me. I can’t continually fight when I see you just offer everything on a platter to people who don’t deserve it. Why aren’t you listening when I try so hard.

“But then we don’t make the most of what we have so I guess time just gets a bit fed up” The man laughed heartily into his drink, obviously pleased with his ‘pearl of wisdom’ Joe thought. Joe let out a sigh in defeat. I could move to a table…No why the hell should I move because some drunk asshole decides to piss me off. Everyone is pissing me off.

“Do you play games?” The man asks, turning his bar stool to face Joe.

“Ah, yeah sometimes….When I’m in the mood” Joe quickly added, which he hoped was a hint that he was definitely not in the mood.

“Me too!!” The man slapped his thigh with enthusiasm. “Who doesn’t like to play games. Or observations games. Well that’s what I prefer. Brain teasers and what not. Have you ever played ‘count the number of ‘F’s’ in a sentence?”

“What?” Joe could feel his impatience scratching at he back of his throat.

“Number of ‘F’s’. Well it’s not a game but more of a brain teaser”. The man grabbed a napkin and wrote:

FINISHED FILES ARE THE RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC STUDY COMBINED WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF YEARS

“How many ‘F’s?” The man asked. His toothless grin stretching with sheer excitement. Poor guy, must be lonely. Joe looked at the man and thought it was best to humour him. He thought for a moment about going home but there was nothing to go home to. Just a movie, or maybe more emails from employers that were not interested in hiring him. An empty fridge.

“There’s three.” Joe answered, fully confident in his answer and more than a little irritated at the fact that this man could insult his intelligence in such a way. Doesn’t he know how bloody smart I am?!!

The man laughed hysterically, much to Joes embarrassment. Loon.

“Your wrong there are more! He exclaimed with such overwhelming delight that for a split second Joe has visions of smacking him hard. Across his smug face ‘There are 6!!! Can you believe it!!! 6. Apparently the brain cannot process ‘of’. That’s why I love these games…….Because if you can’t count the ‘f’s’ how the hell are you supposed to notice the other things in your life. The big and the small, all because your brain can’t or just doesn’t want too’. The mans laugher had disappeared to reveal a face that seemed older than the world itself. Joe was thrown off guard with the sudden change in the air. He didn’t want to look at the man at that moment. The gummy smile had been replaced by something harder and softer at the same time.

“So, answer me?” The mans eyes widened and seemed to inhale Joes very soul. ‘Why should you get what you want if you never notice what is already here’.

Joe felt that a layer of himself  had been exposed. He felt naked, raw and strangely threatened. Of what he did not know but he felt the need to defend himself.

“You don’t get anything in this world. Only the people full of hatred and deception get anywhere. And I do notice everything!! I noticed when I lost my job! I notice the bills coming through my letterbox, I notice that every job I apply for rejects me. I NOTICE EVERYTHING”. Joe, slammed the bottle on the side of the bar, the noise echoing through the near empty bar. He inhaled a sharp breath and calmed himself, feeling embarrassed at such a show of emotion. Never show emotion.

The man watched Joe, fascinated and somewhat unsurprised by the sudden display of anger. Although he didn’t expect that. Not that quickly anyway. It usually takes time for the fury to make its appearance. A silence fell between them.

“I wasn’t saying you in particular. It’s just an observation that I think about from time to time. The observation that things may slip. Opportunities, great moments, love….They slip as we are not looking because we are not really here.” Joe looked at the man who was now staring straight ahead towards the bottles of whisky and gin lined up against the wall.

“I’ve had a bad day” Joe mumbled. It came out to sound like an apology which wasn’t what he wanted. Apologise for nothing!!

The man laughed, the same lines gathering by the side of his eyes “No shit”. They both laughed and took hearty gulps of their drinks. “Where have you been today?”

Joe sighed and decided to answer the man’s question, more out of pity and amusement than anything else. “I woke up at 6.15am, hung-over after drinking three bottles of cheap wine. I then didn’t know what to do with myself as I was fired 3 months ago and have nothing to do…’Joe looked at the man to check for that familiar expression of judgement. He found none so continued. ‘I ate stale bread for breakfast as I can be bothered to go shopping. I went on the internet and then slept from 10am until 1pm as I had nothing to do with my time. I watched six feet under and some movies that were disappointing. I thought about my ex and how much a hate her and hoped for her future to be a shit as mine. I forced myself to nap until I had sleep paralysis and felt imaginary people grabbing at my limbs…….I then popped open a bottle of wine and danced around my room in a drunken haze. I ate a microwave burger before proceeding to drink more…..I passed out somewhere along the way”. Joe looked at the man, a sudden sense of entitlement came over him. The entitlement to be a miserable shit.

‘Yes but where were you?’ The man asked. Seriously???

‘I was in my house’ Joe replied through gritted teeth.

‘Yes but you’re not answering my question really. I asked where were you? Reason being is from what you just told me you were anywhere but there.

Joes eyes widened in anger. He was angry that he had sat at the bar for this long. He felt angry that he had stayed to listen to some loon who was deliberately out to shit all over his already shitty day. The man continued. ‘Yes, you mentioned eating the bread, but you didn’t mention the taste. You mentioned the wine, but not how it tasted or felt to be drunk. You mentioned sleeping, which is an escape so you’re not ‘anywhere’ when you sleep. You mentioned your girlfriend which is in the past so doesn’t actually exist….You mentioned the burger but failed to mention the taste and texture. You see, from what you just said, I have no idea where you were because lets face it you weren’t anywhere. For example where are you now?’

Joe looked incredulously at the man. “I’m here”. He spluttered sounding unsure of his answer. Crazy bastards making me go nuts.

“Are you?’ The man looked seriously at Joe ‘I don’t think so. You see, from the moment you came in here and started tearing and rolling pieces of the damp label from your beer bottle, I knew you were not here. You were arguing with some co-worker, shouting at your ex, wondering what the hell you were doing here and wondering more about what a loon like me is doing here. You thought about money, the lack of it and where to get more. You thought about the army of people who have wronged you. You thought about your future and thought it looked bleak. You wondered what you would eat for dinner and thought that the last remaining change in your pocket should be spent on something that makes you feel good, such as more alcohol. You pretty much went to your past and tortured yourself before going into the future to torture yourself. You batted between these two time zones, never once just stopping to fall into the present. Have you watched two people playing ping-pong?” Joe nodded “Well that’s you! Sometimes when people play the game the noise of the ball hitting the bat and the table echoes through my brain and gives me a headache. When the ball stops, there is peace. Maybe you should just let the ball roll to a stop and hear the ‘peace”.

Joe didn’t know what to say. He looked away from the man who continued to look straight ahead. I’m here aren’t I? He asked himself, suddenly feeling strangely embarrassed. As if the whole world had passed and he had noticed nothing. He looked at his bottle in front of him, suddenly seeing the tears in the label, the print that has faded from his finger tips. The slight glow of green that reflected the dim lights above his head. The reflection of the bottles that lined the bar. The emptiness of that bottle. Joe felt quietly strange at that moment. It was a feeling that was so unfamiliar that his body jerked in protest.

“I have to go” Joe mumbled, no longer able to meet the mans eyes. With that he jumped as if scolded by a hot flame from his chair. Like a gust of wind he made for the door, unable to take a backward glance.

“He wasn’t ready”

The man looked up and half smiled at the bar man who was familiar with this scene, having listened to the mans conversations with strangers for years.

“Nonsense! We are all ready. It’s just sometimes the present is so brilliantly simple it can be hard to accept”. He drained the last drops of whisky from his glass. “He’ll come round. They always do, eventually”.

Tantrums and biscuits – The beginnings of an EFL Teacher

The sweat is trickling down my forehead as I make the five-minute walk to the building where I will be spending the majority of my time teaching. The air is wet, not from recent rain fall but from the sheer humidity lingering in the air. I can feel it sticking to my pale skin and I immediately feel uncomfortable. I have also become a walking buffet for the many mosquitos hovering around and it seems that the leggy insects can’t get enough of me. My hair immediately senses the droplets in the air which are invisible to the naked eye and decides to increase in size. Not one increase in size will suffice and a dramatic new ‘Do’ is created in the short few minutes of my walk. I try to pat down the escaping tendrils that have now joined forces in a bid to escape my scalp but give up when I feel the sweat that has accumulated on my forehead. Along with the sweat, my body has decided to viciously hold on to the water in my body, making me unable to glide into the classroom with an air of grace and determination. I have no choice but to wobble in, clumsily.

I reach my destination and try to swallow my fear which has been choking me since I drank my first cup of coffee this morning. Grade 1. I gather my strength and wipe my face of any sign of terror as I make my way in. First I give them a warm smile, quickly followed by a look of horror when they start screaming. One after the other, as if they had been waiting for my very arrival to show me their glorious tonsils. For a split second I panic. Oh my god they are never going to stop screaming. Never. I pull myself together and reach down into the pit of my belly to find my booming, authoritative voice which had been dormant, gathering dust. “Grade 1, sit in a circle. QUIETLY”. Little arms and legs flap around frantically. A few of the little urchins are still screaming, whilst others are wide-eyed, studying the new figure in front of them. Once the flapping and flailing has ceased, I am left with a shape that most resembles a squashed tomato. Some of the class are facing me. Others have their backs to me. Some haven’t even got it in them to sit up. “Circle!!” I bellow. Still, it is a fruitless instruction and I am still left with a heap of children, all looking inquisitively up at me. One child has his finger so far up his nose that I am worried that he is permanently damaging himself. Another child has taken to studying my feet and seeing the scabs from walking around Bangkok in new shoes, his eyes light up in delight. He swoops in and starts picking. My protests telling him to stop fall on deaf ears and he practically salivates at the state of my feet and the many fleshy wounds he has to pick at. Three others sense that they are missing out and start to join in before, exasperated, I put my shoes back on. All four of them recoil in disappointment.

Story time gives me a moment to breathe, albeit temporarily. The silence falls upon the class as I act out the story, putting my drama lessons into great practice. They are all watching me with intrigue and I’ll be damned if I am losing them now. I act out various voices that would put a split personality to shame. My arms are flapping wildly and even my legs get involved, even though my butt is planted firmly on the floor. With my hair now sticking to my face in matted sweaty knots, I look crazed and demented. I make the mistake of moving towards the interactive white board to show the story visually. I firmly tell them to be quiet and start tampering with the wires and USB cables and whatever else that could be tugged at. I hear the noise behind me start with a low hum before literally seconds later I turn round to see full chaos unfold. Finally after what seemed like five hours of torture, I get the images up onto the board and the screams and whimpering’s come to a delicious halt.

Craft activity finally comes into full swing. Now is my chance to complete the register and learn 25 Thai names. Little hands tug at my skirt demanding more coloured pencils, pencil sharpeners and glue. One child starts sniffing the Pritt Stick whilst another starts practicing his Kung Pho moves on the carpet. I repeat myself constantly. “Sit down, colour in, beautiful picture, stop that, do not put glue on the desk, sit down, right that’s it!” I gravitate towards the ‘points’ system that is carefully displayed on the board, constantly. Holding my marker pen threateningly to the board, I loudly run through the team colours. “Red!! All sitting down? Good five points”. I delight in the effect it has. The children cross their arms and hold themselves up with a strange determination now that I am threatening to remove their beloved points. I can’t help but giggle and have to turn my face away to ensure that they see I mean business. You can hear a pin drop.

The lesson comes to an end and I swallow my dry throat and gather my belongings. Making the walk back to the staff room, I feel that I have aged slightly. The blood has drained from my face and I am almost translucent by the time I reach my desk and finally breathe. “How were they?” My colleagues ask, looking expectantly at me, wondering whether the new teacher will crack and fall to pieces. “Oh they were delightful, really delightful”. They smirk with a knowing in their eyes before handing me the biscuit tin. Welcome to the world of primary teaching in Bangkok.

What If My Dreams Don’t Come True?

Just two words can leave me in a cold sweat. Two words that have had me tossing and turning throughout the early hours of the morning, putting those dreams on hold or shattering them and most importantly, having me doubt every cell that swims flippantly through each and every vein in my body. So, as I come to the last year of my twenties, I look back at my ‘what if’s’ with an arched eye brow and an eye role here and there.

What if I don’t get the job?

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It happens. Sometimes you lose out to someone with more experience. Sometimes you realise that you had completely fucked up in the interview process through nerves that made you come out in a rash that looked ‘medical attention’ worthy (just me then?). Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. Some you win, some you lose but I think you always end up where you are supposed to be. It sounds easy to say ‘just have faith’ and that I’m flippantly putting that statement out there with no thought. But that is not the case. I have certainly lost out on many jobs. I have also been hired for many jobs that I now wish I had lost out on. Still, I completely have faith that I will end up in a job that makes me happy. One that doesn’t leave me crying silently in a cubicle, having sleepless nights and generally losing my mind. Have faith that all will work out as it should. Keep working on projects that utilise your natural talents and above all keep trying. The wheel has to turn the other way eventually.

What if I get fired?

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This did happen to me and unfortunately it wasn’t when I was a teenybopper, shovelling greasy chips into paper cartons at the local fish and chip shop. Nor did it happen when I started a sales career knocking on strangers doors trying to force a brand new gas and electricity supplier down their unsuspecting throats. Nor did it happen when I was dodging responsibilities in my last job. It happened when I felt I had found the ideal role. Right in the heart of Sydney, in an office block that revealed views of a city that took my breath away. My new role was to create documents for the bankers. A role that would have me exploring the depths of the Microsoft office suite to create visually pleasing masterpieces. The high-flying bankers would then use the documents to close various multi-million dollar deals. I got the job through a friend. Someone who helped me through the interview and a 3 hour Microsoft office test to secure the job.

I felt I had hit the jackpot. Finally I could stay in Australia – my dream place and build the life I’d always wanted. It wasn’t to be. Barely a week into the new job I was gently told to hand in my pass and make my way to the exit. Quite rightly too as I had no idea how to navigate through Excel never mind create a fancy technical graph that would leave members of the boardroom drooling. I also wanted it so much that I couldn’t concentrate, preferring to beat myself up over every single mistake that I made or the fact that I was just so damn slow. I left feeling like such a failure that my words here cannot do the crushing, overwhelmingly disappointed feeling justice.

Now I look back and see a small glitch in the road. Something that I barely think about and if I do, it no longer matters anywhere near as much as it did. It wasn’t meant to be and yes, I could sit here and think of what could have been but that really is a fruitless act. Sometimes your hired and sometimes your fired. Sometimes you resign and the boss loses out. Sometimes your fired and you lose out. As long as you tried your best and gave it your all then that’s what really matters. You never know, perhaps a few years down the line you will realise that it was the best thing that ever happened, which is certainly the case for me.

What if he leaves me?

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When I look back at my past relationships, I usually cringe. Reason being is that I was so desperate, it was embarrassing. Falling in love is wonderfully painful. With it brings a certain madness to the mind which can leave you being extremely unreasonable at the best of time. Sometimes, when you are least expecting it, that nasty soul sucking worm will start whispering to you that all is not safe and your loved one will be making their grand exit shortly. With the worm now nibbling slowly at your sanity, you throw caution to the wind and begin to latch onto your loved one with smothering force.

It not clever and it isn’t pretty. There is nothing worse than a desperate lover. He may well leave. It could be because the grass seems greener. It could be because the relationship has run its course or it could be that your insecurities are driving them away. Relationships end and relationships begin. The sooner you let go, the easier it will be…For you. As the saying goes ‘If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be’. Also, you may be surprised that when you are out of ‘that’ relationship and recovered, you may look back and think ‘my god he was a prick. What the hell was I thinking?’ Or something along those lines.

What if I’m single for the rest of my life?!

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Many people are single and more and more people are choosing to stay that way. Take a dear friend of mine who is maybe in his 50s. He has been single for the entire 12 years that I’ve known him and has resigned himself to the fact the he is going to remain single. Comfortable in his routine, it has now become harder to let someone into his life. For me, I believe that it is far more important to be comfortable in your own skin than to search for someone to fill the void. If you can’t be alone, truly by yourself in your own company, then you will have a hard time really flourishing in any relationship. Work on yourself, no matter how painful that may be. Make yourself into the best You possible. If someone does come along and sweeps you off your feet then hopefully they will have worked on themselves too and together you would make one unbeatable team. If someone doesn’t come along then at least you can say that you enjoy your own company and actually LIKE yourself. That you can fulfil all your dreams and ambitions without hoping that someone else will do it for you. Take control of yourself. Make yourself happy. Once you have achieved that then whether someone is in or not in your life will be irrelevant.

What if I can’t make friends?

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Ah, the joys of making friends when you’re an adult. Gone are the days of wandering through the school corridors rubbing shoulders with your greatest fans – your friends. When you’re an adult taking on the pressures of the working world, making friends becomes a little (a lot) less straight forward. Yes, there are going to be people who just don’t like you. Sometimes on sight. Just the mention of your name could have people kicking the office bins over in a frenzy. Sometimes there are valid reasons that you have people vividly plotting your death. Other times it really is their problem. As they say, you can’t please everyone and why the hell should you. Life it tough enough as it is without having to try to please people who will never appreciate your uniqueness. That’s not to say you run around with your head up your arse, practically choking on your own ego. Be sincere, listen to others and show kindness. People love people. It’s human nature to be social creatures. Be the one to break the ice and introduce yourself. New and amazing friendships are waiting where you least expect them to be.

What if I don’t have it ‘all together’ when I reach my thirties?

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I have a list that had been created when I was in my early twenties. It pretty much went as you might guess with emphasis on the house, car, great job, great man, holidays and money. Pretty much a fancy pants lifestyle. Now I sit in my parents house as I wait to see if the job I want (and one I know I will be good at) will come through. I have no house or no mortgage to speak of, no car, no man in sight and little savings. If you had told me that when I was writing my dream list and crossing my fingers for the days to come I would have felt severely deflated. My stroppy younger self would have thrown the tantrum of all tantrums while asking the big question ‘what the fuck is the point then?!’ Well, I can safely say that I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have one year before reaching my thirties and I may or may not tick off all my to do list and that’s ok. As long as I grow a little wiser, a little happier and a little kinder then that’s all that matters to me.

Another Brick In The Corporate Wall

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It seems to me that my new-found path in life never fails to leave people with endless questions, mostly with a regard to my mental health and whether I have lost the plot. Take for instance a repeated conversation with my brother.

‘So what are you going to do with your life?’

‘I’m going to teach English as a foreign language and travel the world….’

‘Yes but…..What are you going to do with your life?’

This seems to be the reaction from most people. A mixture of envy with a dash of cynicism topped off with a large dollop of disappointment. I get it. For years after my first TEFL contract in China I swore I would never dip my toe into the world of teaching again. Fuelled by the various comments bashing English teachers as ‘avoiding responsibility’, ‘unaccepted by their own country’ and ‘wasters and hippies with no ambition’ I gave up on teaching altogether. My 20-year-old mind had been firmly polluted by the endless jibes that come hand in hand with TEFL. Instead, after completing my degree, I pushed myself into the corporate world with dreams of a flash wardrobe and an even flashier car. And this is where I lost ‘myself’.

Hired and jumping up and down in my parents kitchen I thought my new-found success would pave the way to management heaven. Having received my contract and welcome letter as a new employee of a global IT company I could not conceal my excitement and satisfaction. The girl from the bleak council estate was well and truly on her way to success. I began my role with the enthusiasm of a new puppy, all wide-eyed and bushy-tailed but still shaking in my boots at the thought of using Excel and numbers as they certainly weren’t my personal strengths. I got to work an hour early, always first to arrive and usually last to leave. Lunch times would be spent at the desk trying desperately to hide another Excel formula fuck up as I watched the days pass in a blur of pivot tables and numbers, adding and subtracting. Sometimes I would bound out the door, satisfied that my day was full of small successes. Other days I would cry at the thought of messing up another report. A report that barely anyone ever read.

You see after a few months in the role I realised that no one cared. Reports and new websites that I fawned over and spent countless hours trying to perfect were pretty much irrelevant. I realised that I had become part of the furniture, another brick in the wall of a massive corporation and that no amount of trying was going to get me anywhere. Hushed discussions with other disgruntled employees furthered my suspicion that I was going nowhere fast and the only way up was to leave and reapply for the desired new role. When I was a fresh newbie I listened as my trainer spoke about a woman on another floor who hide all her ‘to do work’ under her desk. This woman did sweet f.a for 6 months before she was caught out from the growing mounds of paperwork forming under her desk, trying to escape. At the time I was horrified. How lazy and inconsiderate. Now I realise that no one gave a shit, and for her laziness (or cleverness) to go unnoticed for that amount of time must have meant that she was both invisible and irrelevant. Something I was to become familiar with.

Once the rose-tinted glasses had been removed and I was no longer breaking into a cold sweat on report days, I found myself slipping into a cubicle coma. For 8 hours a day I sat, clicking on the mouse creating documents that would be sent into the black hole of cyber space. I had mentally left the building. The silence would descend over the office as each of us punched in numbers and wrote out endless emails, while I tried desperately to find some sense of fulfilment in a job that I should not have been in. A job that I had no natural talent for. But that didn’t stop me from pushing and forcing myself to fit the mould, unaware that I was depleting my spirit with each day that passed.

After I ‘woke up’ and realised that I had no business being in IT, never mind an office, I slipped out unnoticed. No one saw me place my plant in my bag and forage around for my shoe collection that had been gathering under my desk. I cut my notice short and left, walking out into the grey sky and damp air without (so much as) a backward glance. Now I look back at all the years I spent chasing the money signs and all I see is someone wanting to conform. Someone desperate to have a desirable CV and endless Linkedin contacts. Someone who wanted to go to work in smart clothes, reeking of success. Someone who wanted a nice monthly wage, with an even nicer bonus and a mortgage to boot.

Now I’m no longer that somebody, but it took me years to wake up from wanting that dream. I now wait to begin my English teaching role in Bangkok where I can go back to the hustle and bustle of the uncomfortably humid streets. Where the various smells of the street stalls attack my senses and where everyone seems to be on ‘Thai’ time, walking at snail pace and coming to classes late. And as for people who question my dreams and ambitions I say simple to mind your own. My dreams, wherever they may lead, are none of your concern. Let me enjoy the fact that at nearly 29 years old I may have found my calling and thank fuck for that as it has taken me to hell and back trying to find it.

Dear retired Passport…..

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We had some fun didn’t we? 10 years have passed since you landed through my letterbox. I took you out of your envelope and cradled you with love and affection. I marvelled at your empty pages and the swirl print that decorated each page. You did well, I’m proud to say. You fought the elements and the random spillages (we both remember that custom officer saying that you smelt bad from a recent coffee wash) and were forever faithful when we boarded another plane or when your pages were fondled by yet another customs officer. I heard of other owner’s who’s passports strayed. Badly behaved one’s that chose the day of traveling to play hide and seek. You never tortured me like that.

We filled your first page with a visa for America and you took your first trip in your stride. You were proud and clean, ready to take on the world, full of naïve optimism. We set off to China and weathered the bleak cold and blistering winter winds. That was the time you were taken from me and held hostage, but I fought for you of course and as soon as we were reunited we ran for it, back home to safety. You slept in a drawer full of broken dreams before deciding that indeed you felt bare and naked with your empty pages and wanted a few more decorative pieces. I am not one to mess with dreams so we filled you up with multiple stamps from Australia, a visa for Laos, a visa for Thailand, another for Vietnam. A stamp here and a stamp there, like Kisses. I showed you off by taking pictures, showing your latest and greatest decorative piece. Yes, we did have some good times you and I.

It pains me that you are retiring. Don’t take the trim off the edge of your front cover from that frightful passport renewal officer to heart. You took on more than most passports I can assure you and just because there will be someone newer and fresher taking your place does not mean you were not loved. Yes the new passport may have more pages and a fancy chip but it has nowhere near the experience you have. It is a newbie, a real young’un compared to you. I can only hope that it continues your legacy and takes on the world as you have. May you be a lesson to the new passport and others (particularly my parents passports as they have never been anywhere). You have set the bar high and I know in years to come you will indeed come out for those occasions where any future children and hopefully grandchildren will look at you in wonder and delight at all the places you have been, touching your colourful pages with all their beauty.

Yes, take this time to relax with the various other retired documents. Reflect on the good times and all that you have achieved as you will always be my first real passport. The one that took on the challenges, faced the fear and did it anyway.

28 – The year my skinny genes went AWOL

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Slipping on my stretchy black leggings that have become my entire wardrobe, I poke the belly fat that has decided to pour itself over the elastic. As much as a prod, poke and grab, it continues to hang, spitefully. My body and I are again at war.

I read an article many years ago where a woman wrote that her body went against her when she turned 28. It seemed quite unbelievable to my then 21-year-old mind that her body decided that was the year to wreak havoc. Not 38,48 or 58. Just 28. My dad warned me of such things too. Laying on the sofa, stretched out in a permanent plank position with the mother of all bellies, he would retell his tale of youth. A time where he drank men under the table, ate 8 meals a day, snacked non stop and never put on a pound. In fact his tall skinny frame was the stuff of legends. Until he reached his late 20’s where it all went wrong. “Mark my words” he would say, taking a giant gulp from a can of larger “you wont stay slim forever”.

Unlike my father it did take some work to remain relatively slim, although not a lot. I could knock off a few calories from my daily allowance and the pounds would fall off. A few inches on the thighs could be trimmed down with an hour here or there on the treadmill. All in all it was a fairly easy job. Until now.

For some reason unknown to me, my body has firmly decided that it will not continue to work with me or even cooperate on a friendly basis when it comes to losing inches. Miss a meal and it merely sniggers into its belly pouch. Pounding the treadmill or the dreaded cross trainer and the fat continues to hold onto my thighs like a long-lost love. I’m trying desperately to break up the fat party gathering on my hips but my words of criticism to the point of bullying are no longer being heard. Needless to say I am furious. Part of me wants to ‘just let go’ and leave my body to do its natural thing but then again that might be all the encouragement it needs to turn my arse into buffalo size. The strange thing is, when I look at other women I usually appreciate a woman with curves and have always thought that if I were a man, my eyes would be firmly planted on Kim kardashian’s arse, no matter that she leaves me rolling my eyes with her antics. For my self though, I like the lightness that comes with laying off the buttered bread roles and chocolate pudding.

My journey to fatness came when I decided to join the gym whilst I working in the corporate jungle. I would feel smug when I planted my butt in my desk chair after pounding the treadmill for 45 minutes in my lunch hour. Co-workers would look in wonder when I’d come back looking like I had put my head in a preheated oven, all red and sweaty. ‘My, I wish I had your commitment’. They would say. So that is what I did during my lunch hour or after work, even going as far as cycling home in the blistering cold. Yes, I worked hard…Only to get fatter. You may think I was eating more but it wasn’t the case. I researched weight gain from gyming it, and was furious to discover that pounding treadmills and general cardio exercise could be a breeding ground for fat molecules to get all pissy and start holding on for dear life, due to the dreaded stress hormone released whilst exercising. To fight the war, as there was no way I was being defeated without a fight, I decided that Body Combat was the way forward. A good combination of weights and sweat. What I didn’t take into account is that my thighs need no encouragement into getting bigger. So while I was doing those squats and proudly adding more weight to the bar, my thighs were packing on the pounds, deciding to take on the world with the aim of domination.

Needless to say all that thigh fat is a bitch to get rid of. Pleading, crying, anger, physical abuse and gentle words of encouragement are ignored. My soft flesh meanly hangs, with no signs of moving on no matter how many eviction notices I slap on. One year was all it took for my body to give me the finger and declare that it would no longer be putting up with over exercise, false promises of food and sugar-free goop. It finally took a stand and said no more, much to my dismay. Now my mind and body just scream at each other to the point of defeat. This usually happens when I plan to leave the house, trying on multiple outfits, huffing and puffing in the mirror before settling on the first outfit I tried on in the first place. Maybe I should start smothering my fat with love….It may get all rebellious and decide to leave like a teenager seeking independence. We shall see.

Through the eyes of a Psychopath

evil

She wants to leave? She wants to leave. She can’t leave.

“So I will go back to the UK and find some job I suppose…” She trails off. That means she must be unsure or lacking confidence in her decision.

I look at the red wine in her glass, barely touched. It’s not like her to leave the wine untouched and this frightens me more. Any action that I can’t predict leaves me feeling slightly nervous. I need to change tactic. You’re losing her. I down the wine in one gulp, feeling the acidity trickling down my throat. I notice her judging me. Or is that fear? Oh I do hope it is fear. I refill my glass and her words of encouragement wash over me.

“So” She continues nervously “I will see you in the UK, like we discussed. Like we planned”. Yes three weeks alone time. Who can I fuck in that time, who can I…Stop. Focus on the energy source in front of you. I down the glass of wine again. Again there is fear in her eyes. I love it when her eyes widen in fright or when I feel that nervous energy she gives off when she has no idea what she is doing. She gives of such a delicious vibe when she is frightened, like Bambi caught in the headlights. She becomes something soft and moldable, putti in warm hands. She is so easy it hurts, but sometimes she closes up and puts up these invisible barriers. That’s when I become overwhelmed with anger. She is mine after all.

I top up my glass again and think about her leaving and possibly escaping. Women can’t be trusted. I hate her. I want her and I hate her. I have yet to break her but it is not for lack of trying. I try everyday. The light is a lot less bright in her eyes. I can see by the way she walks that the confidence of being young and careless is becoming less visible. I don’t know whether I want her less now. What else can I emotionally beat from her? Yet she may realise what I am when she leaves me to visit family and friends. The people I hate the most as they are constantly in the background, giving her advice and warnings. Warnings against me of course. I hate them.

My mind is running wild. I don’t know what to do first. The sympathy plea? The crocodile tears? The threats? Scare tactics? Love bombing or drop the crazy bomb? Threaten to kill myself? Threaten her? Oh there are just so many options. Fuck it, I’ll do them all.

“Your going to leave me, I know you will. You say these things but you will get home and meet someone else” Accuse! “There’s someone else…There must be”. I feel the ice prickle my heart and I watch her as she defends herself. I know she is telling the truth but to see her emotions spill onto the restaurant table is a treat. That’s it, tell me how much you love me.

I am suitably drunk right now and I am thinking of who I could be screwing. My girlfriend is a cockblock. I want to leave and practically snap my fingers, making her jump. I want to drink more. I want whisky. I make her walk quickly back to the flat. I do not notice my surroundings only the hatred that keeps building. It’s not a far walk, thank fuck, as my throat is dry from the desire of whisky and the copious amounts of cigarettes I have managed to inhale on the short walk. When we arrive I rush towards the Red Label whisky and drink from the bottle. I look at her and feel nothing. Never have and never will. Her very being irritates me and I hate how much she feels. Her sympathy and compassion for others makes me sick and her femininity makes me gag. But oh she is so easy to destroy.

I do it all that night. I drink and cry. My performance is Oscar worthy and for a second I am confused by my act. I can’t remember if this is the part I should cry or get angry? The whisky is hindering my performance. I decide to evoke sympathy from her first but she just looks blankly at me. She has seen this performance before. Changing tactics, I smash up the DVD player and some plates for added effect. The DVD player came apart quickly but in the process cut my hand. I watch as the blood trickles down the side of my palm. I look at her sitting in bed with the white sheets up to her chest. I walk over and wipe the blood in her face, smirking as she flinches. The reaction is just what I needed and I want more. I walk into the bathroom to get a razor blade and scratch her initial into my cheek. I continue to threaten her with promises to kill myself. I can’t get enough of the attention. I want more, more, more. Alcohol, pain, control, reaction.

I do not remember what she said to me as her facial expressions changed from love to hate, fear to pity, sympathy to disgust. I do not remember as I do not care to remember. She gave me what I wanted which was an audience. Plus her feelings for me are real which put me in a position of power. You see, I feel nothing for this woman who I made fall in love with me with false promises of love and protection. I enjoy watching that sparkle of innocence in her eyes when we first met, diminish as each day ends. I can see she is dying inside, sluggish and slow and it fills me with excitement. If I could suck anymore life out of her I would but she has little to give now. So very little that I should look at something fresher, newer. All in good time.

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