Back in the UK

I think it’s a song. “Back in the UK”. Most likely a shitty one. That’s why the name popped in my head for the title of what’s most likely to be a shitty post. As per usual.

I do shitty, I don’t do pretty.

As this time last year, I had the displeasure of accompanying a client on a business trip to the UK. Ostensibly to interpret from/to English. Actually to waste my time. Plus to get me some new scars in the mind and ruin the remainders of my nerves.

You know Dante’s Inferno? The guy clearly never was in the UK.

Yep. I postulate that the UK is worse than hell. Sorry, guys, if you’re British. If you’re British, you must be a rare exception. If you were the kind of British that I observed in their natural habitat during my trip, you’d be above and beyond reading my blog. So, yay, consider yourself exceptional! In a good way. Not in the way the word is abused to denote dumb kids.

Sorry, if you’re a dumb kid.

Actually. No. Not sorry. I’m so tired of being politically correct. That’s ultimately my main issue with my UK trip. Let’s give you the exposition. The dirty details, that is. Where I was dragged was a would-be-fancy London hotel for a convention of employees of a HR corporation. The horror, the horror.

Insert white space. The horror is unspeakable.

Fine. Unspeakable clearly doesn’t work for a blog post. Let me throw in some descriptive words then to capture the environment, the mood and the people, British and otherwise (the otherwise presumably attempted to assimilate, successfully):

  • Pretentious
  • Ostentatious
  • Inauthentic
  • Meaningless
  • Substanceless
  • Personalityless

What’s a roomfull of HR people? Zombie apocalypse.

I used to be a teacher and I live above a pub, so you can imagine I’ve heard my share of crap. Alas, I never heard so much crap crammed into such a small space and short time as at the HR convention.

On day one, I swore that if I hear the phrase driving our business forward once again, I shall scream. (I was reduced to hearing it a gazillion times more and I screamed inwardly and flinched outwardly.)

On day two, I swore that if someone asks me one more time if I’m OK, I shall scream MURDER!!! (I was asked many more times but I refrained from answering to prevent myself from screaming.) When I caught a glimpse of my face in one of the many useless decorative mirrors in opulent frames lining the hotel corridors, I had to admit I did look very unokay. Outright sick. Of course I was sick, what else should one be at a sickening corporate event? Sick.

On day three, the eve of the gala dinner, I wore an eveningish gownish, as instructed, and I didn’t breathe for three hours straight. Because the iron maiden is a pleasure tool when compared to a bra, tights, heels and evening dress. A fellow attendee attempted small talk in the lift, complimenting my dress. She should’ve known better. I rolled my eyes, tried to take a breath (unsuccessfully) and hissed breathlessly, I can’t fucking move in this piece of crap.

Moving, breathing and thinking strictly disallowed.

That was pretty much the catchphrase of the whole trip. I couldn’t move or breathe. I did suspect before that corporate environment was not a particularly healthy one but I didn’t appreciate the extent of the crippling effect it would have on me. I’m still recuperating. Not doing too well. Also, I’m quitting the client. Sheer survival instinct.

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I Got High and Talked to People

Okay, I admit, this post’s title is a plain clickbait. It worked though, right?

In fact, I didn’t get that high. Neither did I talk to people that much. But baby steps, you know.

So how it occurred, and what the heck even occurred?

It started pretty much when I treated myself to half a Lexaurin today for my shoulder pain. Why, sure, I take tranquillisers in lieu of pain pills. Trust me, I’ve lived with my broken brain for long enough to know what’s what. By trial and error, I discovered that pain killers fail to kill psychosomatic pain, which where the Lexaurin comes in. It works.

Painfree and high on the fact, I put myself out there and went grocery shopping. In high spirits. When I’m on Lexaurin, I talk to people. Any people. On random. That’s the opposite of what I do when I’m unmedicated, which is when I hide from people. All people. Also, the voices of people. Meaning I don’t pick up phone calls. I just can’t even.

Mightily enjoying myself, I was sweeping round the supermarket cheerfully, smiling at people, bumping into them and apologising and having them bump into me and apologising some more. It’s a bank holiday tomorrow, hence the shop will be closed for one day, hence the whole village gathered in the shop to collect supplies. Logic.

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One kind of high

All cash desks were blocked by queues winding across to the opposite wall of the shop. I’ve never seen so many locals uniting as one for their pre-holiday shopping. I had to purchase bottled water for the wait. And I entertained myself by entertaining innocent bystanders.

When the guy in the queue after me bumped into me yet again, I groaned mockingly: O, father, why hast thou forsaken us?! The guy gave me a WTF-look. I winked at him to indicate I’m not hostile. Much to his loss, he didn’t quite get my exquisite sense of humour.

I didn’t have more luck with the cashier. When it was my turn, which was about ten years later, I greeted her with my crooked-teeth smile and yelled over the noise of the crowded shop: Good evening to ya, may it be so! It makes slightly more sense in my mother tongue, btw.

The cashier awoke from her zombie mode and appeared amused, which encouraged me to add a goodbye greeting as well. So I say, Thanks a lot, ma’m, and may sanity be with you in this maddening crowd! Okay, I’m kidding, my speech wasn’t quite as flourished but nearly so. Alas, the woman was back to her sleep mode and remained unresponsive.

And that’s the end of the story. Where’s the story, you ask? Oh well. If a story is what is told, then this was totally a story. Don’t try to fuck with me. I’ve had my half a Lexaurin today and I’m unfuckwithable.

What You Should(n’t) Do to Sleep

I’ve decided to explore a new blogging niche. That of writing anti-blogs. Is anyone even doing it yet or have I finally stumbled upon something original? What I have in mind are specifically anti-manuals, anti-instructions and anti-advice. Since I suck at pretty much everything, particularly life, I thought I’d share my wisdom for the benefit of those whom I might serve as a cautionary story.

I quite enjoy the irony of this idea: I can’t save myself, yet I’m proposing to save the world. Okay, not to save the world, I’m more modest than that, hence I only seek to make the world a better place. Do you believe me? You shouldn’t! For fuck’s sake, you’re reading an anti-blog! Also, do I give the impression that I give a shit? I hope not. Scratch that. I don’t have hopes.

I’ve been sleep-deprived for quite a while now. Which may explain the preceding and the following. A bar recently opened right under my flat and I think my sleeplessness might be related to this fact. It’s not just a bar. It’s a rock music bar. A non-stop music bar, to be absolutely precise. I have their fucking jukebox right under my bed. No kidding. Let’s just say that the constant noise of varying quality and quantity doesn’t exactly facilitate sleep.

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Screw this shit

Which is where I’m getting down to my anti-advice. Aka, what you shouldn’t do when you’re trying to sleep. All the methods detailed below have been tested on myself and have been found inefficient, cumbersome and likely unsafe. While not recommended for human use, these methods seem to be safe for cats. Mine is not only not insomniac but appears perfectly at peace, especially in contrast to yours truly. My truly. Me.

The first method I tried consisted in listening to a meditation for sleep on the phone. This trick was actually nice and is comparatively safe. At least so I thought, until I talked to a friend, who happens to be a firefighter and who is obsessed with the idea that unattended phones in beds may spontaneously combust. Even when they are not Samsung. Do Samsung phones still explode? Just asking. I have a low-end phone and what it does is to freeze, so I assume no fireworks are happening here, literally or figuratively.

The second method I tried was purchasing a set of earplugs. I was very pleased with them because they looked cute and came in a pretty pod. They didn’t come with a manual, which displeased me, since I’m obsessed with manuals. So I googled. I was terrified, applying earplugs is basically nuclear science. However, apply them I did. Semi-successfully. They even worked, sort of, except my ears are still hurting from that foam shit. I must’ve misread the manual or something.

The third method I tried was to block the noise with even more noise. I was hoping one noise would cancel the other noise. Well, it doesn’t work like this. I selected an ambient ocean sound and played it in endless loop on the laptop. The roaring ocean was terrifying rather than relaxing. Though it did balance the noise nicely: there were drum beats coming from below and ocean screams coming from the left, where my laptop was sitting on the table. I didn’t dare to put it in the bed in case my firefighter friend would disapprove.

That much to my anti-manual so far. Excuse typos and general shit, I haven’t slept well. Like forever. Also, I’m writing this with my headphones on, listening to the roaring ocean. It sounds apocalyptic. I think it goes well with my life.

I Went to a Party (No, Really!)

I’m like Thomas Pynchon. People know me by name but no one has really seen me. I’m also not like Thomas Pynchon because there’s no mystery to my invisibility: I hardly ever go out and I let no one in. So, duh. Probably also unlike Thomas Pynchon, I recognise that social isolation causes craziness in sane people and boosts craziness in already insane people. The latter being my case, I sensibly decided that I shall bravely go where I have never gone before and will attend a party to which my acquaintance inexplicably invited me, probably acting in a fit of crazies.

After double-checking that the invite wasn’t a drunk misclick (I’m sure it was, but the party person took pity and assured me of his undying friendship acquaintance and his being okay with me coming), I dressed up and ventured out. I assumed that my acquaintance, like me, had no friends and that the party wouldn’t be a big deal. Feel free to imagine in unflattering visuals my surprise (like eyes popping out and tongue lolling from the open mouth) when I arrived to find half the village at the spot. I knew next to no one there, so after presenting my strikingly original present of a bottle of wine to the party leader, I sat down next to the nearest random person.

I had asked for water to start with, so I set my plastic cup in front of me and proceeded to introduce myself to my neighbour. The neighbour probably told me his name, which I didn’t forget—because I didn’t even hear it to start with. I wonder whether it’s a sign of egoism that I never listen to people when they’re introducing themselves. If it is indeed the case, consider me sufficiently punished because the longer you’ve known a person, the more awkward it gets to ask their name. My conversation with the random unknown party goer was more than disastrous.

The stranger showed me a wound on his leg, which was bleeding through the bandage. I spontaneously attempted to summon a deity in which I don’t believe (“OMG!”) and inquired what had happened. “It was at work,” he says. “Oh,” I say, more or less successfully feigning interest in the bloody blotch, “what were you doing?” He says, “Working.” I see. I don’t see, of course, but I don’t want to pry. So I try something different: “And what do you do?” He looks at me and says, “Same as everyone else.” Oh. I’m puzzled but choose to assume that I’m doing it wrong.

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The party took place at the yellow river

After a while, the stranger bends over and unties my shoe lace. Somewhat taken aback, I’m waiting for what it’s gonna be. The stranger resumes his seat and does absolutely nothing. So I say, “Okay, that’s it?” He confirms. That explains everything. Not. I tentatively express my disappointment, “You know, I was waiting for a point to it…” He says nothing. After a bit, I go on, “That was a token of affection or an act of hostility?” The former, he says. Instead of yelling, What the fuck are you, four or what?, I practise the Buddhist teachings of acceptance, honour and respect, and say, if somewhat insincerely, “Oh, that’s nice.”

Because I didn’t have the balls to tell the stranger that I was worried that idiocy was infectious, I said, though quite frankly, that I needed a drink and moved on. I didn’t grab a drink until much later and went on carrying around my cup of water, causing many eyebrows to raise. The ultimate havoc I wreaked was however when I politely refused the pot that was being passed around, laughing that I was a bit too grown-up for that crap. I should’ve kept my trap shut. Though I’ve meanwhile become a village legend (the village equivalent of the urban legend) because I genuinely can’t speak the colloquial variant of my mother tongue, which raised major suspicions.

Against my better judgement, I eventually had a few shots, but managed to stay the most sober person around, second only to the dogs and kids present. I recently decided I was too grown-up to get stupid drunk. Shrug. I tried my hand (tongue) at some more conversations. I was the most successful with someone’s mother, who was twice my age and apparently found herself at the party by mistake, like me. I totally killed it (in the bad way) when someone was explaining that they sought to be awarded invalidity pension and I thought they were joking, so I joined in, “Haha, a good one, who’d want a pension, right?” Except they weren’t joking. They thought I was joking when I attempted to explain my view that it takes an exceptional person not to get uselessly wasted away once they’re on pension and don’t have to do anything.

When it got dark, cold and people started slurring beyond comprehension, I took the liberty to leave. I went depressed and despondent. How do I never fit anywhere? Like, it’s probably me, right? How do I literally and figuratively, on all planes, don’t speak the same language as everyone else? And, are there people who do speak my tongue? If so, where the fuck are the suckers hiding? I do wonder what the other party goers’ interpretation of my presence at the party would be. Provided they’d remember anything of it or bothered to care about it in the first place. I’m sure it’d be totally different from mine. I’m stumped.

I’m Great with Kids (Not)

I’m squatting at my balcony, smoking and minding my own business. Apparently, me minding my own business does not impress on others that they had better mind their own business too because after a while, I’m hearing some high-pitched shrieking noises that won’t stop. Then I notice it’s the neighbour’s kids jumping up and down at the common backyard and screaming, Mornin’!

They seem to be looking straight at me, though I can’t be sure, as I’m badly short-sighted. I turn my head antagonistically in their direction and yell back, Morning what? The kids, pleased to have established contact, enthusiastically cry back, G’ mornin’! I grunt, I wish it were, and continue minding my own business, hoping the kids will take the cue.

They don’t. Soon they’re yelling again, We have a tiny little problem here, missus! I interpret this as an act of war and rise up to the challenge. My joints squeaking a bit, I stand up to the full extent of my medium height. I do a hair toss with the half of my head which has hair and rub thoughtfully the half of my head which is buzzed. I pet the cat sitting on my shoulder and cough up a furball.

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How is this picture relevant to the story? I don’t know. You tell me.

While I’m preparing myself thus to confront the enemy, the kids shout that they accidentally threw a ball on the roof. I’m genuinely dumbfounded, so I say, How is that any of my problem? The boy kid says, Duh, and, Can I climb for it? I take a long draw of my cigarette in lieu of a dramatic pause. I say, I don’t know. Can you? The boy kid accepts the challenge and assures me he can.

Then it dawns on me that the kids are of the tender age when they still believe that grown-ups have answers to all the world’s problems. So I decide to take responsibility and yell at the kid that using a shopping trolley to climb somewhere isn’t a good idea because, duh, wheels. Unless you’re suicidal, of course, I add. The kid doesn’t know what suicidal means. One lucky bastard.

While I’m at it, I warn the kid that if he damages the roof, his parents are going to pay for it. Literally. Finally, I suggest that they summon their parent or legal guardian, finish my cigarette and retire, hoping the kid won’t break his neck. On the other hand, it would probably discourage him from nagging random people in the future. I’m great with kids, aren’t I?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Unlikely.

Most unlikely things happen in airport hotel diners. Such as me finding myself in one.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Another Story

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Story.

This may or may not make for a good story, probably not, not because I’m negativist but because you should shut up when fishing not to disturb the fish. So I hear, but I wouldn’t know, I get my fish in the supermarket.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

In response to WP Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.
—Ezra Pound

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I Have a New Psychiatrist (That’s My Life Now)

My old psychiatrist retired (probably to devote himself full-time to his drinking hobby) and was replaced by a new psychiatrist. Unlike the old guy, the new lady is less than a hundred and doesn’t appear to have a drinking problem (good for her).

I bear no grudge against her (yet), but as per usual, I’ve been quite passive-aggressive at our first date. She surely hated me at first sight, which is only right and mutual because I hate people by default. This might explain my passive-aggressive tendencies.

My new psych person had the old psych person’s office completely cleared, so now she practises in a large and mostly empty room. I’m scared of open spaces, so here you go. Also, she brought in a new table and positioned it in the wrong place. I’m OCD, so here you go again.

I tried hard to conduct myself, so I didn’t point out that she ruined everything for me. (She even moved the nurse’s station to the wrong wall, and nothing will ever be the same.) We had the following largely disappointing conversation.

Psych: So, how have you been feeling?
Me: (What I thought: That’s a question beneath your profession. If I were feeling anything else than poorly, I wouldn’t be here, right? Elementary, doctor.) What I said: Poorly. (What I didn’t add: But I accept that it is what it is and I let it go, as my positive affirmations have me believe.)

Psych (staring at me): You look anxious.
Me (staring in a wall behind her): (What I thought: Right, that’s because I have anxiety, just check my bloody chart, duh.) What I said: Yes.

Psych: What about we try increasing the antidepressant dose?
Me: (What I thought: Whatever. It’s not like I’m a doctor. Oh, wait. I am a doctor. Whew.) What I said: Okay.

Psych: And what do you do?
Me: (What I thought: Ow fuck, now we’re going to chit-chat? As a doctor, you should know that it’s not what I do but how I deal with it. Also, don’t try to outsmart me. You’re no match for my intellectual arrogance.) What I said: Work from home.

Psych: You don’t talk much, right?
Me: (Nothing. Why state the obvious.)
Psych: OK, so see you in a month.
Me: (If I live to see the next month.) OK.

I guess I’m not a very amiable person. Actually, I’m sure of that because I spend a lot of time with myself and I hate every second. I’m such an annoying little smartass. Currently on more antidepressants than before, so we’ll see.

My Perfectly Average Silhouette

WordPress’s Daily Post is being clairvoyant today. The prompt of the day is silhouette, which I noticed just after posting a snap of my own meagre silhouette on Instagram.

Relating to this photo and at other occasions, I’ve had curious discussions with people about my height. It’s no huge surprise that different parts of the world are populated with people of different heights, but I was a bit surprised that North Americans tend to regard me as tall. What the heck? It must be my slight built that’s misleading.

I checked some rough stats and confirmed that my height is perfectly average for my part of the world. And by perfectly, I mean perfectly, I’m right at the average (okay, so almost right there, I’m 0.78 mm/0.03 in off). You can check out the stats on Wikipedia, if you’re interested, but what I’m trying to point out is that an average US woman is 161.8 cm (5 ft 3 1⁄2 in), while an average Czech female, me, is 167.22 cm (5 ft 6 in).

I’m right where I’m supposed to be, height-wise, and I’m not only not tall, but even sufficiently short to be perceived by the average Czech male (180.31 cm / 5 ft 11 in) as tiny.  That much to statistics.