Focus (Self-absorbed rambling)
A new story. A new ramble. Sometimes the fancy just takes me and I decide to write, though I won’t pretend to have a subject in mind so I’ll probably just use this for thoughts. You don’t need to read.
Today I felt down. I think because I’m convinced I’ve wasted my life. I’ve said that before but if someone showed me an image of me as a happy child and told me he’d spending all his adult life — yes I know it’s hardly over yet — in front of a machine in his spare time I’d show you a tragedy. So what is it that makes one able to function in this world as others do?
I observe other people. I make the mistake of comparing myself to them. Often they seem quite unintelligent. Often though I’ll see intelligence broadcast to me on television. Perhaps rarely but it does exist. So the answer has to lie in going out to meet people. And that is something I should have been doing for the last twenty years at least. Somehow I’ve managed to get to the grand age of thirty six and not go out much at all. Maybe this makes me soft. A coward. Some, though, never experience living alone. I can’t tell you it’s all hellish because it isn’t. I’m not sure how I’d cope in a share house. Maybe in the future when I have some health and confidence.
One thing I feel, though, is different from other people. Or maybe they’re different from me. I group them together and label them a threat, perhaps. Either I look at them and think “they’re way cleverer than I am, why would they ever want to talk to me” or I look at them and think “If you say the word like one more time, I’m going to poke you in the eye with a snapped toothbrush”. Either way, these people in whichever group I cast them into, tend to have more social value and skill than I. So it’s time for a change.
It is very often that I won’t move much all day. Some would say every day but sometimes I do house work. I need to find focus. I think focus is the key. The reason for the lack of movement is that there isn’t actually much I want from this Earth besides my family and friends being happy. It must be infuriating for anyone who wants the same for me. I don’t know how to be happy because I don’t know what makes me happy. I don’t want anything.
It’s hard for things to matter to me. The small things. Maybe that’s why I find it so hard to see what’s good or bad in a mundane situation. Maybe that’s why I can’t filter out the important from the unimportant in what people say to me. I don’t much care about what you’re talking about unless you’re telling me about something that matters to me. Aha! Something does matter. Books. Books matter. I am a terrible person and hardly read at all, but I do love books when I do. I’ve still got a pile of Stephen King novels to sink my teeth into and the original Dracula. Poetry books. I used to love poetry. Writing. Words. Words are my thing. My vocabulary stinks, but I’ll still claim words are my thing.
Words. In school I’d write lyrics on my bag and pencil case. I was into music nobody else in my class was into. I used to play Richie Havens on my walkman. I think it was even a tape walkman. Hungover at school I listened to Richie Havens singing “Here comes the hydrogen bomb…” I love those songs. I’d recorded his performance from the Woodstock onto a tape.
People have focus in school. I think it was partly the time. People in other classes had a sense of identity. Group. Sure, it’s not a good thing in the long run to put a label on yourself, but isn’t it fun to see the goths and grungers and punks and what fun it must have been for them. What do we have now? Look outside and people are all wearing the same logos. What has happened to people? I don’t think it’s just me that’s lost focus it’s that I refuse to focus in the same way as those that do, and I think that you could argue that those that do supposedly have more focus have actually lost focus on what’s important.
I don’t want to be someone who says “I’ve got anxiety”. But it’s slowing me down. I was always anxious. Previously one of my neighbours caused me to smoke and feel anxious. I’d smoke a cigarette within a minute, I think, because I couldn’t stand to be outside the door for long. I’d not moved out properly before, despite being in my early thirties and I was learning. I had had a house, but that was in Taunton. I drank far too much there on multiple occasions. One time I drank a bottle of vodka, I went out for more at the local pub, came back home, put some chips on and passed out. The house was full of firemen when I woke up. The chips had been cooking all night, setting off a fire alarm. Another time I got drunk and woke up outside my house with no wallet and a black eye. I’ve not been wise. I don’t know why I drink either. Lack of focus?
The second place I rented was in Bristol. It was a nice flat, but I rented it for over a year and I couldn’t afford it so I was hardly in it. Talk about money going down the toilet. I think I relied heavily on other people’s opinions of whether or not I could afford it and I shouldn’t have rented that place. That really was a waste of life and money.
After moving back, not having met anybody new I decided to move to Brighton after accepting a job there. Lovely people, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. The first flat I had there I remember sleeping on the sofa because I didn’t have a bed set up the first night. I am a private man, I wasn’t used to cities, so I always close all the blinds or draw the curtains. I don’t like the idea of being on show even if I’m just playing a computer game. Certainly I don’t want people watching me sleep on the sofa. Besides, I have a lot of games consoles and I don’t want people stealing things.
Anyway! That first night I heard a lot of thumping around. I thought it was just some people moving things or something. I assumed that there were multiple people who lived above me. But no! As time passed I realised that there was just one man who liked to shout. After a while, I found it irritating. He’d get in and giggle at nothing that I could understand and then it dawned on me that he was following me around the flat from above. It was more than unnerving, but what can you do? You can’t stop someone doing what they want to do in their flat.
Things began to get silly. Yes I would stay up late, getting drunk and watching The Terminator or Predator, but this man would follow me to the toilet and then giggle as I urinated, I assume at the splashing sounds. He’d shout things suddenly and I assumed he had Tourette’s but this was unreasonable. I’d been told that he was deaf, but he didn’t seem deaf to me.
Every evening he’d be in his flat above me stomping around and he’d spend his time looking out the window at people. He had no shame either, the blinds of his would be totally up for people to see him. I remember one woman shouting at him to get a blind. I will never know what was wrong with him, but eventually I stopped caring.
Over time I heard him starting to use the word “pouf”. “Disgusting pouf”. He’d always laughed, again you can’t hold that against the man, but for some reason he’d taken to shouting the word “pouf”. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t understand any of it.
At one stage he turned up outside my door as he was reading his water meter. I’d forgotten that people needed access to the cupboard outside my flat’s door so I went out to investigate, and he was as polite as anything. He shook my hand and introduced himself as John. I felt so reassured. He’s nice!
Later I changed my mind. He was bouncing a ball on the ceiling at about three in the morning. He woke me up. I coughed. I heard him blame my smoking for my cough. I don’t want this! It’s intrusive! I went to the toilet and he followed me. I couldn’t stand it but the worst was yet to come.
Some time on his voice had turned into an aggressive slur. I don’t know how drunk he was but I remember going out to have a cigarette and I heard the most hateful voice say “disgusting pouf!” “Fuck off!” Initially I put it down to Tourette’s and alcohol and tried hard not to take it personally.
He then started screaming “Fuck off you pouf!” He’d pace up and down in his flat before going into another rant “Awwww…fuck off!” I wondered who the hell he was talking to. He then went out.
At around two in the morning he returned. He was getting worse. I heard him enter the flat because he always slammed the door as if he wanted to make an entrance. He started screaming out of the kitchen window “Fuck offffff yooouu ccccuunt!” I wasn’t panicking, but I was a bit shaken. Should I do anything? Is he on drugs? Is he a danger to himself? Honestly I didn’t know. Then he went into his bedroom directly above me where I was in bed and started stomping his foot on the ceiling “Fuck!” *stomp* “Off!” *stomp* “You!” *stomp* “Cunt!” “Fuck!” *stomp* “Off!” *stomp* “You!” *stomp* “Pouf!” This went on for many hours. I remember it was light outside when I plucked up the courage that morning to have a cigarette outside the door, and I also remember thanking circumstance that it was a bank holiday.
I did record this, thinking it might be useful in getting something done. Unfortunately the recording made to my phone was in an app I wasn’t used to. I remember listening to it at work and I edited it sadly chopping off the bit I wanted to keep instead of the bit I didn’t. He’d go quiet for a while you see, and then blow up again. Anyway, I managed to crop the wrong part of the sound and I was so annoyed with myself. There didn’t seem to be anything to allow for undoing!
I decided I needed to take action. I knew he obviously wanted me to leave, why else would you treat someone like that? He’d always been difficult. I always found it hard to sleep there because he’d be shouting in his flat and the old man next door always had his TV on and it could suddenly come on at two in the morning. I could cope with that. But this was ridiculous. I remember if I used the washing machine or my alarm went off in the morning he’d get angry with me and shout from above. It wasn’t my fault! I had written to the letting agent before and he’d talked about putting sound-proofing in. Later he said they often talk about it but it never happens. Anyway, I wrote to them again. I made a complaint. I told him that I can’t stay under these conditions and he wrote back with an apology and told me that I was a good tenant. That the other guy would receive a warning and be slung out if it happened again. That wasn’t really good enough for me, but I couldn’t ask for any more and so I left. My family were wonderful as ever and helped me tidy the place up before leaving.
My experiences of living alone haven’t been good ones. I still keep the blinds closed and hardly go out. It feels safer somehow. I always feel like the neighbours must think I’m a weirdo. It’s easy to be a sitting duck when you live alone, or at least feel like one.
I feel like I need to leave the anxious me behind. Shit happens in life, a lot of shit. I know I’d have coped better had I had people living with me, but one must be strong. It is good, though, isn’t it? To bounce things off of other people that you live with? I much prefer not living with people, but it must bring comfort during difficult times.
Is it normal to not talk to your neighbours? I say hello in passing but I don’t actually know them. They seem very nice. I’m awful at faces though, I fear saying hello and it not be them.
I want to reinvent myself. I want to change my appearance. I want to get healthy. I am waiting on a job interview result as well. Maybe that will change me. I just don’t want to carry on like this. I can’t carry on like this. I don’t want to move back in with the family, either. That would be a whole step back, but I’m running out of options.
Tomorrow I want to walk. I just can’t promise that I will.
I am looking at a project though. The “Shout” project. The idea is that it’s “Social Media for Marketeers”. Initially just a single module for scheduling social media posts. I’ve been playing with the idea for years. My plan is to get some kind of UI — today in my tiredness I managed to write a drag and drop functionality. I’d done it a few times before but I deleted all other iterations and just chose to have the one. Anyway, with this you’ll be able to drag and drop columns on the screen and have reorderable “shouts” that will be scheduled to go out. I’m going to have a NodeJS backend and a React frontend, but the UI stuff I’m writing now is from scratch so I can then work out how to get it into React. The backend will probably be the easiest part.
Further down the line I want more functionality. Email campaigns, email designs, forms that you can embed into your website and notify this programme that someone’s signed up and stats on how popular you are on social media, perhaps showing the locations of tweets about you and your business.
I also keep meaning to get back to games coding in C++. Direct manipulation of video memory is fun!
That’s why I’m always indoors programming; it’s safe. But I need change. I am considering moving to Bristol one day if I get this job. I’m getting too old to be learning about the world in the way that I am. I feel like an inadequate child. But it’s the way that it is. I would be lying if I didn’t feel a little superior to people who take life too seriously, but then I am a bit of a paradox because if I didn’t take things seriously on some level I wouldn’t be so anxious! Do I go back to therapy? I keep going to see them and I’ve seen three different people all talking about next steps. I didn’t go for next steps! I went for therapy! Amusingly I’ve been too anxious to phone them up, hehe.
I wonder if I can put my finger on how I feel different from other people. They all seem to behave differently to me. They seem able to just get on. They don’t sit there analysing each other’s behaviours, and I do with them. Usually I’m the one at a party sat on the outside watching. I don’t know how to mingle. What use is it anyway? I cannot conform for the sake of it. I wouldn’t lose self-respect for trying, but I’m not quite sure what self-respect is. I think I need to have a little pride in things I do. In myself and my body. I feel like I am not quite here at times. Maybe that’s the separating factor. People I talk to are often intelligent, less so clever most of them, but they are intelligent. Sharp. Do they have a clearer view of their reality? I am always foggy. Can that be caused by anxiety alone? I’ve always been anxious. I remember being paranoid that the head master was staring at me in the junior school of Upminster. That’s not what it was called. Foggy. Foggy, but still able to do things, like write. Maybe I feel the need to write more so because of this foggy-mindedness. It’s like saying things you want to say but can’t.
Well I’m not going to conclude. God knows I’m a weirdo. Do I need a life coach? I’m damn sure I’d like a puppy.