Let It Go?

I can’t sleep.

It’s after 2am now, and still I’m lying here wide awake, staring at the darkness, listening to the silence.

It won’t leave my mind, won’t give me peace, and I am powerless. At the mercy of my own thoughts, tormented by my own mind.

When I feel hard done by, or wronged in some way, it’s a huge struggle to let it go. My mind plays it over and over and demands a different outcome, despite knowing that it is done, it is finished, and no amount of replaying it will change the result.

And so I lie here, wide awake. Tired but sleepless. Wishing it had gone differently.

Life is a journey, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, lessons to be learned.

And even though I know that “long time no see” is a much cleverer answer to the dingbat “ENTURY” than my own response, I still feel that “end of the century” is a perfectly acceptable one.

Don’t get me wrong, though: we would still have lost that table quiz. ;)

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A Call to Arms

I fail to understand the point of insects.

Some insects, I suppose, have a purpose, but only insomuch as they are there to keep down the population of other insects. Ladybirds, for example, dispose of greenfly, which is a point strongly in favour of their existence. Britain apparently suffered a greenfly invasion this summer, specifically located in my parents’ back garden.

It’s a lovely evening to sit outside and have a beer and listen to music, someone would suggest. And so we would go out and sit down, and immediately be covered from head to toe in greenfly. It’s a lovely evening for sitting indoors and looking out, someone would suggest shortly afterwards, watching a greenfly performing a leisurely backstroke in a glass of beer.

It was horrible. But then, apparently, the superior insects arrived and got rid of the greenfly, whose only purpose in life is to destroy plants and irritate humans. And then the wasps arrived.

Sodding wasps. They are everywhere, EVERYWHERE. Mostly in our bathroom, incidentally, for some unknown reason. But also walking up and down the stairs, crawling around in the garden, and playing tag with the bemused cat. The average wasp death rate in our house at the moment is about 5 per day, as they are simply wandering around looking waspish and evil and making no effort to fly away.

And then this morning I got out of bed and hopped about as I pulled on a pair of jeans, and immediately felt the searing pain in my little toe, letting me know of the unwanted intruder before I even saw it. I howled indignantly and shook the thing off my foot, hurling a few understandably harsh words at it as it squirmed around on the floor. It looked mad. I was madder. I am the type of person who tries not to get too wound up upon sighting a nearby wasp, by telling myself that it can’t really hurt me. It’ll just be a little sting, if it comes to the worst, it’s not worth panicking about, it won’t hurt that much.

It feckin’ well does.

Then there were the mosquitos, last year, which left me with welts over my legs as they attacked me and extracted my blood as I slept. I still have a few scars. And now my foot is frozen, since the only way I can bear the pain of the wasp sting is to keep an ice pack pressed against it. I think I now have frostbite, to add, erm, injury to injury.

What is the point of these creatures? What good do they do? Why do they exist? Are they devil’s creatures, here to inflict pain and suffering, continuing to illustrate the raging battle between Good and Evil, lest we become complacent? Bees, at least, do good deeds. Were it not for bees, we would not have Pooh Bear ice cream or Cadbury’s Crunchies. Bees only attack in self defence. I am at peace with the bees. Wasps and mosquitos, on the other hand, do no good. They seek you out just to hurt you.

Why has no one come up with a plan to eliminate them from the face of the Earth? It is time to reclaim our planet. We’re meant to be superior. Somebody, do something. I’m in too much pain to come up with a plan right now.

Numb

Oh, God, seriously. Have mercy.

I am sitting here actually anticipating the pain that will follow when the anaesthetic wears off. Not only did I receive a filling, but also the delight that is the scrapey-scrubby process of having my teeth “Cleaned”. That’s not just cleaned (with your toothbrush), but “Cleaned” (by a pro). I liken it to having a bath in disinfectant and scrubbing with a wire brush – does the same job, only more painfully, and also cuts you.

The dentist was surprisingly chirpy for first thing in the morning, considering that he has a whole day of looking into people’s disgusting mouths to look forward to. He chatted away about travelling, and didn’t seem too perturbed when my hand-in-the-mouth muffled replies became simple grunts of acknowledgement that he’d spoken. I dunno. Maybe he likes spending all day looking in people’s disgusting mouths. I would be sick, personally.

I was somewhat amused to note how small and trivial the procedure is to a dentist. I wonder what dentists feel like when they go to the dentist? Do they examine themselves and perform their own fillings? Do they never get cavities because, well, who knows how to take care of teeth better than a dentist? The conversation paused as the big scary light shone down on my face, and some kind of vacuum cleaner buzzed under my tongue, and sharp-looking steel things made scraping noises, and the drill shrieked, and fine sprays (water? bits of tooth?) flew through the air, and I closed my eyes and clutched the arms of the chair, trying to block out the horror of it all. Then it stopped. So, will they have your accommodation sorted out when you get there? asked the dentist, interestedly, setting down his weapons. It was as if the scary horror movie part had never happened. Like he’d just paused to take a sip of coffee or something. I’m fairly impressed, if I’m honest.

Also, since when did they start photographing the whole gory process? This is a new part, as far as I’m concerned. An extra layer of discomfort, as you can actually see how utterly rotten your poor tooth is, and then view a nice slide show of all the bloody bits, and the weak parts of teeth that are just waiting to become Severe Problems, and the brown patches that really shouldn’t be there. I am horrified. Horrified. The inside of my mouth is a frightening, frightening place, and I am never drinking sugary drinks again.

And now, as I sit and bite the inside of my frozen mouth really hard in that way that you do ’cause it feels really weird, and then find yourself in utter agony with a shredded mouth several hours later, I must also muse over the fact that my dentist finished our conversation this morning by asking where he might find my blog.

Erm… ‘scoffyalpsh dot com, I mumbled unintelligibly, hoping that the numb mouth would conceal my panic as I tried to remember what exactly I’d written about him after my visit earlier in the week. You don’t want to go offending your dentist, you know, not when he’ll merrily stick sharp instruments in your mouth when you haven’t even done anything wrong.

He made me write the blog address down for him.

My dentist, despite his choice of career, is a really, really nice chap.

Fwiendwy Convershashun

Oh, I say brightly, taking off my coat, This is all different from how I remember it!

The dental nurse gives me a knowing smile. Well then, she says, equally brightly, it must be well over a year since you’ve been here, then, since that’s when we changed it all.

Damn. Walked right into that one. Note to self: keep mouth shut, and do not attempt to make small talk in dentist’s surgery.

Unfortunately, keeping one’s mouth shut while in The Chair is probably wishful thinking on anyone’s part, and as I have mentioned before, it is one of my pet hates in life that dentists insist on having a friendly chat with you while their hands are in your mouth. I clamber into the chair with a sense of foreboding. I’ve, um, been travelling for a year, you see, I explain feebly, hoping that that will be an acceptable excuse for my lack of familiarity with the new surgery layout.

The dentist ignores me and sticks his hand in my mouth.

So, having trouble? he asks.

Urgh… gh-yes, I reply around the fingers, Bit of – urgh – tyoof bwoke off ‘n’I fot I berr gerrit secked out… gonnaway ‘gen shoon.

The dentist has a qualification in that bizarre language spoken by people who have hands and mirrors in their mouths. Where are you off to? he asks, adding a scrapey-pokey metal thing to the mix.

Show Koh Wayaaaaaaaaah, I gurgle helplessly as he stabs me in the gum.

That’s a long way away, he observes, followed by a string of random letters and numbers fired at the nurse. What takes you there?

Urgh… gonna tish Inngish fwa yur.

This ridiculous conversation continues even as he jams enormous plastic paddles in my mouth and leaves the room for the x-ray machine to do its job. Then he tells me off re: sweet drinks, and so on, kindly agrees to see me again before I leave even though he’s booked solid (I naturally have mixed feelings about this kindness), and bids me farewell. And so I have to go back tomorrow and probably discuss musical preferences and national politics while he renders one side of my mouth numb and then sticks a drill in it.

I find all this rather traumatic, and I’d nearly rather have them all out and take my chances with a set of false teeth, to be honest. Sigh.

A Girls’ School Education

I met up with some old schoolfriends last night for dinner and ten pin bowling (another thing ticked off my 101 Things list! And yes – I am as rubbish as I remembered being), and it was really funny to be sitting there as “adults”, nearly ten years after leaving Sixth Form – especially since I really didn’t notice any difference in any of us.

We chattered away merrily about the Good Old Days, and I laughed till I cried as we reminded each other of school incidents.

One of my own personal favourites involves a charity fundraising event held in the school assembly hall one lunch time. I went to an all girls school, but the boys’ school shared the same name and was right next door. The Sixth Form was mixed, possibly to introduce us to members of the opposite sex before we went out into the real world having never spoken to a boy, but for the first five years it was something of a novelty to be in the same room as (gasp) boys. The fundraising event was therefore very well attended, since members of both schools were allowed to go.

The assembly hall was packed full of giggling girls and gangly boys as the pupil-run production of Blind Date began. The headmistress, incidentally, was strictly anti-boy, and presumably not happy about the event to start with – she watched from the sidelines with a less than genuine smile on her face. It started off fairly innocently, with cute, scripted answers getting lots of laughs… but then one of the jokers on the stage decided to leave the script behind in favour of bigger laughs. “I play the fiddle,” said Sexy J, the “chooser”, “do you play any musical instruments?”. “Well,” said contestant number one, “I don’t play anything, myself… but I’d love to have a fiddle with your instrument!”.

Well. To an audience on the TV show, this would probably have been mildly amusing. To an audience of teenagers thus far deprived of the company of the opposite sex, it was absolutely hilarious. To the deeply religious, anti-male, spinster, some-might-say-prudish headmistress, it was a catastrophe on a par with some sort of natural disaster hitting the school and killing everyone on the spot.

Hoots and whistles and howls of laughter filled the air, and the Head rushed immediately up on to the stage, clutching her swirling skirts as she rustled up the steps and demanded the microphone. “Girls! GIRLS!” she cried out of habit, following it with an uncertain “Erm… and boys! This is utterly disgraceful, and I am ashamed of you. Stop this at once!”

The unfortunate thing for the Head was that the microphone had had something done to it in order to disguise the voices of the Blind Date contestants. This resulted in her strict admonishment (already something of a high-pitched shriek) flooding the hall in a voice not dissimilar from those of Alvin and the Chipmunks. I don’t know how she ever restored order in that assembly hall. Everyone was practically on the floor, and the angrier she became, the funnier the high-pitched voice was. It was the end of joint school productions, sadly… but it was worth it.

Ah, the memories.

Don’t make friends with fat people.

Before I go to bed, I like to unwind and switch my brain off from work or socialising by either watching a TV show or playing an online game.

At the moment, my favourite is Reversi. I play it on a site where there’s a chat feature, and it generally annoys me when people try to get me to talk, as I want to concentrate and play, not make small talk with strangers. However, very occasionally an interesting conversation will occur, and I am, of course, all in favour of interesting conversations.

Last night, I was beating my opponent for the third time in a row with more ease than is usual for me, when suddenly he said “where are you from?”. “Ireland”, I replied. “Oh”, came the response, and I expected the follow-up to be “I’m from…”. It was not. “I’m… well, drunk, actually.” he said instead.

This amused me, so I responded with a smiley and we got talking. He was very nice, and a traveller too, at that moment playing Reversi from his hotel room in Hungary, where he’d gone to speak at a conference. I very much enjoyed our conversation, until he made the mistake of lapsing into the flirting that most guys in those game rooms usually launch straight into. I find this incredibly off-putting. Still, as it wasn’t “wat r ur measurmnts? wat u wearin?” straight from the start, and since he was somewhat tipsy, I let it slide and brushed off his more flirtatious remarks as best I could – mainly because I was thinking that he was the sort of person I could get on with quite well, and that maybe we could continue to have friendly conversations in the future. Silly me!

I informed him that no, I did not have MSN, and that while I did have Skype, I preferred to only use it to talk to people I know. He left it for a while, and we continued the enjoyable conversation. Then, all of a sudden, came the “would you say you’re pretty?”. Sigh. “Erm, no, not particularly.” I gave up on the potential new friend idea and just went on playing. “Now, hang on”, says he. “You write well, you have a good sense of humour, and you seem clever. All you need is a nice smile, and I think we can safely say you’re pretty. Do you have a nice smile?”

I had to laugh in spite of myself. Drunk and predictable he may have been, but he was smooth. “I’ve been told that I do”, I replied. He sent me a smiley. Our conversation continued on the topics of literature, travel, and languages. He insisted that I must give him my email address when we finished our games, because he would like to continue to talk. What a nice guy. My faith in men mankind restored, I looked forward to getting to know my new friend via long, interesting emails. (I much prefer this to IM-style conversations – I am, after all, a girl who wrote 20-page letters to penpals every few days as a teenager.)

“Are you slim?” he said suddenly, apropos of nothing. My illusion of a friendly, sincere, non-sleazy non-creep vanished. “Not that it matters”, he added. Huh. “No, I wouldn’t describe myself as slim…” I told him, “and if it didn’t matter, I doubt that you’d ask!”. There was a pause. “OK, it does matter”, he said. I glared venomously at the screen. “You need someone to be slim before you’ll have them as a friend?!” I asked incredulously.

I kid you not, his response was to suddenly speed up his moves in the game we were in the middle of, and say “last game for me!” as if we’d exchanged no other words. I left before he could at the end of the game, utterly disgusted – mainly because I’d gotten my hopes up that here, for once, was a nice guy who wanted to be friends rather than pick up brainless tarts. Is everyone so shallow? Do no men actually want to form meaningful friendships based on shared interests and good conversation? Is everyone out there just trying to get laid? And if so, is “slim” always going to be more important than anything else? My experience thus far has given me no evidence to the contrary.

I have no desire to enter into a romantic relationship any time soon, believe me. But I do think it’s ridiculous that my odds of even forming new friendships with anyone of the opposite sex are very… well, slim, because they won’t even get to know me if I can’t provide proof that I’m no larger than size 10 and therefore a possible future notch on a bedpost. Why would they assume I want them in that way? Is friendship on its own not a desirable thing any more? Are men only friends with women if they think they’re a future “possibility”? Is there any other reason why men, either online or in a social venue, wouldn’t approach a woman unless she was slim and attractive? After all, why should it matter if they just want to make friends?

This is starting to read like a Sex and the City voiceover, so I’ll stop.

So many questions, though.

And a very loud “Gah”.

Pro-nudism?

I hate shopping.

I have never, ever been able to understand why the majority of women see shopping as a good thing – not only “not a bad thing”, but as an actual, positive, indulgent experience. Lots of women speak of “retail therapy” as something that will cheer them up and generally improve their moods and even their lives. This is a completely foreign concept to me. I not only hate shopping, I loathe it, detest it, dread it, and avoid it.

Now, perhaps I would feel a bit differently if I actually had any money to spend. As it is, when I am driven to shopping out of sheer necessity, I have to part with hard-earned cash that could have been saved up in order to buy food, or coffee, or train tickets. These are the important things, you see. Clothes and shoes are annoying essentials, and if it was OK to go without them, it would make life so much better, in my opinion.

I hate crowds of people, I hate looking for clothes when I have no idea what’s nice and what will make people snigger at me, I hate parting with money for things that don’t interest me in the slightest, I hate getting all warm and sweaty and uncomfortable through trying on twenty different garments in a cramped changing cubicle, I hate trudging around with armfuls of bags,  even with my best best all day walking shoes,  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

In addition to this, I have not got the faintest idea why the majority of women are obsessed with shoes. Shoes are shoes. You need them to protect your feet. That is all. For the past year, I have happily worn sandal-type walking shoes in nice weather, a pair of trainers in the rain, and – for winter in Estonia – a pair of welly boots. That was the extent of my shoe ownership. Given the choice between buying several pairs of shoes in various colours and styles, or having enough food for several months, I don’t really have to think about it for very long at all.

I have never been very materialistic, so perhaps this explains my lack of enthusiasm for shopping. I do not wish to amass more Stuff. Unfortunately, since I have been wearing only the clothes that can fit into hand luggage for a whole year, the time has come to find some more clothes. A teacher cannot, I suppose, turn up to school every day in a pair of sandals, three-quarter lengths, and a Friends t-shirt.

And so today The Sister and I went shopping. It was awful. The only reason that I survived was the fact that I insisted on coffee and muffins in Starbucks first. I now have some shoes (cheap, sensible shoes, mind you. Nothing in the world will make me buy expensive, pretty, high-heeled, or stylish shoes), some trousers, some teacherish shirts and tops, and a pair of jogging bottoms for my PE classes. Oh dear. The less I think about teaching PE, the better.

By the time I emerged from the changing room and paid for all my purchases, I was ready to collapse. The whole experience is a nightmare, from start to finish (after the Starbucks part, obviously). I also have an annoying tendency to think of my money in terms of how long it took me to earn it. This means that even when the price I’ve paid for a huge selection of clothing and shoes is very reasonable when compared to the amount spent by people who regularly pay a hundred quid for a pair of shoes or sixty for trousers, it seems horrendous to me. The whole lot cost me just over a hundred pounds. In my head, this was quickly translated to “about 14 articles about poison ivy”, which was translated to “about two days of solid, boring work”. Ugh. I’m telling you, it took a huge amount of effort to smile brightly at the cashier as I handed that over.

Still. I am ready now. That’s my shopping done for another year, methinks!