A Very Vague Complaint

I recently heard someone say, ‘I went into university wanting to change the world; now I just want to understand it.’

I find this among the most twonkish things I’ve come across in a while. It sounds quite philosophical but it’s just pseudo-intelligent bullshit.

Surely, at the very least it should be the other way around. People are supposed to go to university to learn about the world, give a deeper understanding of certain subjects. And, in my opinion, it should follow that they want to change it.

Then again, I figured university would assume some prior knowledge but many things that were covered in early secondary school were pegged as ‘a lot of new information we don’t expect you to remember/understand right now.’ I was surprised people weren’t expected to realise slavery, the printing press and a shift in religion changed things. And students would ‘learn to think for themselves and question what they read/are told by the end of their degree’.

I suppose taking those factors into account you could be so exhausted with the system that you just want to understand it rather than change it. But if you don’t understand something you’ve lived in your whole life, surely it’s time for change?

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“Mud is good for you, Little Brother.”

Despite living on one of the areas few slopes,  the back garden did not drain out into our neighbour’s perfectly manicured lawn as I believe my parents secretly hoped. So the slightest rain meant we had to swim to the swing-set at the end of it. And British weather being what it is we tended to have a swamp every few days. In an effort to combat this my dad got his brothers to dig holes around the edge of the grass and fill them with broken up pieces of paving slabs. This seems semi-logical if a little bizarre, but we no longer have a problem with looking below sea level so it must have worked.

During the process there were times that the trenches were there with a few inches of water in the bottom. And my short self had heard/read/seen somewhere that mud was good for your skin. Children pick up and hold onto the most bizarre things. I was a good big sister so my parents trusted me not to feed my little brother to the dog while they turned their heads for a few minutes, but for some reason they underestimated my capacity for getting messy. Perhaps this was the first manifestation of being a mucky daughter. Doubtful.

Either way my parents turned their heads for these few minutes and I wandered my only nappy-clad brother to the garden and hopped into one of the trenches. There’s no broken bones in his history so I assume I helped him down v-e-r-y carefully into our mud-bath.

We must have looked ridiculous.

Actually, we looked like we were in big trouble. Or perhaps just I was, I mean I was less short and supposedly at least three years more responsible. But the problem with this idea is that children still are unaware of people existing outside themselves when they go somewhere away from them. And it was not until my mum started walking towards us that I even became remotely aware I’d done something wrong.

I can imagine my brother pulling himself out of the mud-pit and bumbling towards one of his favourite people for a hug and to tell them all about what just happened. I on the other hand would probably have stayed, cowering where I was; my over-sized glasses mud-fogged and sliding down my small, sludgy nose in anticipation of the child-sized shit-storm.

It must have been quite a shock for my mum. I guess she must have rushed us by the scruff to the bath for a thorough but warm hosing off.

I wasn’t put up for adoption after this so I must have redeemed my muddy self after this point.

 

Euphony/Cacophony

There are a few specific noises which grate on me all the time, cellophane (which seems to have, thankfully, been relegated to my childhood as I rarely find it covering anything) and squeaking polystyrene or Styrofoam being among them, but only one relies on context.

My sleeping pattern is generally sporadic, mostly nocturnal; but as someone who has very little responsibility I tend to be able to sleep well into the afternoon to make up for it. I’m a fan of sleep although I do concur with this comic about dreaming http://xkcd.com/203/. And there isn’t much that can dissuade or prevent me from going back to sleep if I’ve had some sort of somnus-interuptus. For example, I still live at home with my family so there is usually getting ready for school/work sounds going on from 7 until 9am but this rarely shifts me -even when someone has to come into my room to entreat with the bizarre boiler that runs out of hot water to make more hot water. Because of this boiler making my room the hottest in the house and my penchant for being cold I sleep with as many open windows as I can and even noises of the outside world wouldn’t make me willingly leave my bed before noon. At the earliest.

The shape of my room is a rather odd series of rectangles of empty space. It has twelve corners. Which makes it an irregular dodecagon. Apparently. But my 7 foot curtains cordon off the window seat so it lessens this number. I suppose they must act as dampeners for the outside noises but they also trap sound between them and the window so bee/wasp buzzing bounces from fabric to glass through fabric to my ears, amplified by all the bouncing so it permeates my dreams in an awkward, fuzzy deluge.

I’ve tried to sleep through this invasion of wing-beats with little success. It is jarring, insistent. With bees, once they’ve happily expolored the space and found no pollen on the bright coloured pencils and clothes with have been relegated out of my sight they try to escape the unnatural, flower-free realm. But of course the way they came is no longer sufficient and so they must try to bore through the invisible glass barrier to get back to real life. They begin to systematically search the window for weaknesses in a sort of ‘UUU’ shape. Of course to me it just sounds like ‘bzzzzz-tap-bzzzzz-tap’. Occasionally there will be a break and I’ll assume it has either beaten itself into a debilitating concussion and is dazedly waiting to die, managed to glide through glass, or its ‘UU’ escape stratagem became ‘UUL’ as it accidently flung itself out the window. (Sometimes going out the way it came in offends itself so wholly that it actually comes back in to try again, carefully ‘UUU’-ing in the opposite direction where there is not a viable exit. Usually it will just go ‘bzz-tap-bzzzzzzzzzzzz…oh…but I…oh fuck it I’m already outside’ and carry on its merry way). If any of these are the case I will probably eventually be able to go to sleep. But more often than not it has just paused upon a cushion to recline and decide how better to be successful on its second attempt. Inevitably ‘bzzz-tap-bzzz’ is settled upon. It’s on the bee’s second attempt that I resign to dealing with it.

I don’t like having insects about my head while I sleep. So the apprehension of one finding the gap at the top of the curtains where it moves away from the wall to attach the the rail builds to a shudder in my stomach and forces me to get up. I trudge downstairs in the t-shirt and pants I slept in to get a cup and piece of paper. After catching the offending bee I begrudgingly take it out a different exit like it wanted. Shaking it out in the garden usually discourages it from returning through my window.

Bees, I don’t care that people think you shouldn’t be able to fly (although this does seem to be based on flawed, reductionist comparisons of aerofoil wings to insect wings) fly all you want, just on the flower-side of double-glazing.

When a wasp trespasses the situation is different and could be far less dramatic and irritating. That is when I deal with it immediately. A swift whack with whatever I can find and it falls twitching, usually missing a leg to the graveyard of its peers that is my window-sill. Job done and I can get on with wasting daylight. Usually though, my procrastination and laziness win out as these forces know no bounds. I let the apprehension in my stomach build far longer because wasps are more likely to sting; something I’m not afraid of but would still rather like to avoid. Plus I may have a wasps nest just outside my window and in my half-asleep states usually believe only one at a time will enter to avoid some kind of waspy turf war. Not killing this one will mean I won’t have to spend the day fending off a queue opportunist wasps who see the opportunity to be inside when the previous one is dead. But that just means a whole day of a wasp taptaptaptaptaptaptaptap-ing. If the bee took the same tactic of hitting the same spot in very quick succession it would actually bore through the glass. The wasp would find itself cut short in a sort of taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptSMACK-silence. And satisfying as this homicide is, it also thoroughly wakes me up.

Outside and awake it is a completely different situation. I like bees. I like to follow the sound and sight until they disappear from my vision. I even still have the inane desire to stroke one. The fine line between euphony and cacophony, for me, is the line between asleep and awake, silence and sound: the strip of fabric which shushes as its drawn.

Outside and awake I still unashamedly kill wasps.

There is Sand EVERYWHERE.

I have a best friend who is the exact opposite of me. She’s out-going, hyperactive and generally irritating as fuck. But I love her to pieces: I simply cannot help it. She wanted to take me somewhere as a celebration of my University place and since it was a miserable day we were trying to think of something inexpensive and indoors. Two things Hull lacks pushing 4:00pm of an afternoon. But then I got a text saying we were going to the beach. I raised an eye-brow at this (or rather both because my facial muscles are no where near as efficient as my ear-wiggling ones) since, to avoid screen-glare, I had my curtains closed and there was little light but a mauve-haze. I was also quite happy stomping round Cyrodiil and watching crap about haunted chair-legs but I’m rarely one to deny her Pepsi-fuelled, fizzing enthusiasm.

It had in fact brightened up. And so did I at the thought of swimming in the sea. As a child I spent so much time in the sea my family used to call me a water-baby or dolphin. I had been a little disappointed to find out I wasn’t born in a pool and neither could I perform some kind of epic aqua-acrobatics, but the ocean did not lose its appeal. Now, when I was younger I could entertain myself for hours in the sub-freezing temperatures that are the North Sea while the rest of my family shivered in towels, huddled between windbreaks and dug themselves holes deep enough to be warmed by the Earth’s core, but recently it’s become severely dull swimming back and forth between groynes on my own.

And then there was Jade. Not only does she have a car that can take me to the sea but she will swim with me. Admittedly she screams when waves are near having her mouth open for water to come in which is what the screams are in fear of anyway but still…

However, my brightened mood stormed over when I remembered Jade recently got a tattoo of stars down her back and a piercing in her belly button. And nice though they are and bizarre though that is, respectively, she can’t really swim in the sea without risk of infection. I mean further risk of infection; the water is questionable enough without open wounds. I’d had a stomach ache all day anyway so didn’t particularly relish the thought of sitting on a beach feeling sorry for myself, looking longingly at the sea.

And then to add insult to injury when she arrived to pick me up she had her bikini on under her clothes. ‘To sunbathe’. *cries* I burn easily and am quite happy with my exoskeleton of chalk so I wasn’t being reassured I’d enjoy the day.

But we got settled at the far end of the beach and were talking amiably when Jade had the urge to bury me. The traditional, diplomatic
“No.”
“Aww, why?”
“No.”
“Yes.”
“No.”
carried on for a while. But then we finally compromised on burying my feet.

I’m even wary of letting people do that to be honest with you. As a child my youngest brother would also bury my feet, but, much to his annoyance, I subconsciously wriggle my toes and this dislodges sand pretty easily. After piling on sand and patting it down gently with a spade he’d get frustrated and smack my exposed toe with the flat of it. As hysterical as this made both of us, it still left my toes a bit battered and sore.

It didn’t take long for Jade to tire of this compromise and ‘accidentally’ flick sand down my bra. After apologising, giggling she found something else to occupy her time: build a wall around me. She was very good at it. I turned to watch a boat being pulled onto a trailer for two minutes and I turned round to find myself peering over the Great Wall of China. Since I didn’t want to move I was well and truly stuck. She was quite amused by my surprise at the height of the walls.

As I watched her using a small, wooden bat to shovel slightly wet sand on the increasingly higher piles around me I started to wax mischievous. This is a state which rarely takes hold and makes me want to do things like lick all the glue on my boyfriend’s rolling papers then stuff them back in the box. I’m not particularly bothered that the guy smokes but it seems my mischievous side is. Or rearrange ornaments and books in people’s houses to unnerve them while they try to figure out what’s different. So I took the other bat and waited for her to drop more sand on the wall around me and promptly pushed it back off again. This continued long enough for me be severely amused and giggling hysterically.

We tried to decide on a name for the boat-like wall and finally settled on christening it ‘Badger’. Jade is perhaps better at boat-building than naming…Image

I Can Fly, Dammit.

When I was little I used to spend much of my time jumping off places which were -to my mother- unnervingly higher than my under-three-foot-self. It was only because I was convinced I should be able to fly. Definitely not that I could, I mean, short as I was, I could tell my body was barely meant for walking in a straight line let alone made for extended periods of unaided flight. I looked nothing like the robins which frequented my garden. (Unless you counted the patchy-red on my own stomach from the many times I used the carpeted stairs as a slide.) But I was nothing if not blithely determined and unabashedly in denial. I assume my mum would point me to the step that was used to help me reach the sink, or a random half-brick for me to instead throw myself off flapping wildly, in an effort to convince me that I was neither invincible nor aerodynamic.

I don’t remember serious injury from my jump-flap phase, so I guess the message must have gotten through somehow.

Now, it is rare my dreams do not have me flying in some way (*sigh* usually jump-flapping), I assume this was the case when I was short. And all I had to do was figure out how to move my arms in the heavy, graceful way my dream-self did/does and I’d be set. I don’t think the idea ever got further than being able to propel myself off the ground, though. I have no idea where I thought I would go. Probably sitting in the large trees at the bottom of the garden behind the fence (i.e. not our property, but still an extension of my and my brothers’ play area, obviously) would have quite contented me.

My short, inane self would be disappointed that, now at least taller than my mother, I do not try jumping from higher places to mimic the dream-self and her many adventures in the sky (with its mashed potato clouds I vividly remember dreaming about and eating with the cast of James and the Giant Peach as a kid) but I’ve come to realise that there are many flaws in attempting to fly this way like different physics in dreamscapes, dream-self is usually escaping from something has tried to fight but her only option is now flight. But the main thing I believe is my dream-self is far, far lighter. I mean you would be too if you were made of pure aether, electric impulses and residual caffeine, would you not?