25.6.19

Something stirs within my chest. Unexplainable, indefinable, yet present in an almost tangible way. I ache for the sweetness of new experience.

Emotion catches in my throat at the very thought of shy encounters. Cheeks flushed, hearts racing, hands shaking; risking everything for the chance of something more.

The empty space beside me longs to be filled with warmth and the sounds of whispered kisses and gentle exploration. Somewhere hidden beneath the mask of bravado and brass, is the desire to be desired.

To be loved.

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Strangers and Their Small Talk

It’s no secret that I’m not a social person. I have very few friends, and I’m not especially fond of the idea of making new ones. This is largely because I am acutely uncomfortable in new social situations, particularly when I have to maintain conversation with someone I’ve only just met. However this social awkwardness and discomfort is not reserved solely for new people. It also applies to people I already know, and haven’t seen in a few years.

I truly dislike being recognised by people I used to know, or by casual acquaintances. Because with that recognition comes the expectation – nay, obligation – that I engage in a conversation with said person. And given my propensity for feeling anxious in unfamiliar situations, this is a sure fire way to make me feel uncomfortable. Twice this past week, I have been recognised by someone who is familiar to me, though I didn’t have a close relationship with either. The first was a teacher who taught my brothers in either primary school, or early high school. She wasn’t even a teacher who taught me, but nevertheless she recognised my face, and struck up a conversation about how we all (myself and my siblings) were, and what we were doing with our lives.

The second person to recognise me was a cousin of one of my school friends, who I haven’t spoken to in probably two years. She recognised me, and again struck up a friendly conversation. Now, there are two things I should point out in both of these scenarios. The first, is that both of these encounters happened whilst I was at work. And the second is that neither one of these conversations were inherently bad, impolite, or rude. Quite the opposite, in fact. It was simply that I was put into a situation, by way of standing at the counter of the shop that these two people happened to need a service from, where I was unable to simply politely nod and move on, as I would have done had I passed them on the street.

I am one of those people who will, when I am out in public, avoid people that I may potentially end up stuck talking to, unless they are someone that I know well and enjoy talking with. For example, I ran into a good friend of mine in the supermarket the other day, and was more than happy to stop and chat to her for a few minutes. But if I know there’s even the remote possibility that I may have to have a conversation with someone that I don’t really know all that well and/or haven’t seen in a while, I will do anything I can to avoid it. Partly because of the aforementioned awkwardness, but also because I abhor filler conversation. I don’t really want to be subjected to a ten minute tirade about your recent hospital trip, or hear how that person we went to school with is getting married. By the same token, I really have nothing interesting to tell other people either. At the most, I would be content with a “hey, how’re you doing?” and the reciprocal “good thanks!” whilst both of us continued on our way without stopping. I don’t want to feel compelled to continue a mundane conversation, just because someone else is up for a chat.

This is something I encounter a lot at my job. I work in a kiosk, visible to everyone who passes. This seems to encourage people to come and talk to me, or ask me questions that people in proper closed-in shops don’t seem to deal with. I get stopped at least daily to get asked where the Tattslotto shop is in the centre. It’s literally right next to me, clearly signed and visible, and yet people will ask me constantly, often interrupting me to do so. And then there are the customers who, completely unprovoked, will proceed to give me a ten minute story about one thing or another. The tendency of complete strangers to give up personal information to people they don’t know is astounding. I have been told more than once that I come across as distinctly unapproachable, and yet something about being at my counter makes people want to chat to me for significant lengths of time. I am like the bartender in american sitcoms, who acts as some kind of wise man/therapist. It is a job that I never asked for, but rather seems to have been thrust upon me.

I, of course, can’t be rude to these people. After all, a customer wanting to have a chat is hardly the worst thing I might encounter in a day. But it doesn’t mean I want to stand there and make small talk with a stranger, or semi stranger. So if you ever see me down the street, give me a wave and I’ll happily wave back. But if ever you want to strike up a conversation, just remember that I will probably hate every second, and be counting down until it’s polite to make an excuse and sidle away.

Boredom Kills

I am bored. Insanely so. So bored, that I have been watching episodes of Brooklyn 99 on my tablet at work. Work, you see, is the reason for my boredom. There is very little to do out here, and I spend my days perusing internet sites and leaving my shop to go get chai and chat with my friends working in other stores in the centre. We’re particularly quiet at the moment, because there are two staff members on and that means not enough work to share between the two of us.

I get nothing out of my job. I have worked in this company on and off for five years, and any interest I ever had in my work has long since dissipated. Customer service drains you after a while, and my retail career has gone on for far too long to be enjoyable or remotely interesting. Days are dragging at the moment, both because I have nothing to do and because I have gone back to being in the shop five days a week instead of two. Winter should be one of our busier times, as everyone comes in to repair their boots, but so far it’s been rather lacklustre.

Retail has been steadily decreasing with each passing year. More and more people – myself included – are choosing the convenience of shopping online, and so face to face customer interaction is falling by the wayside. For those of us who work in a retail field, this doesn’t bode well for the future of our jobs. My case is slightly different, as I am providing a service rather than just selling things, but nevertheless, it’s hardly a fast paced environment. Hence the boredom.

I don’t really know yet what I want to do. Sure, I have a couple of vague ideas and dream jobs, but none of them are necessarily attainable right now. At this stage, it’s not even about what I want to do, it’s just about getting a job that challenges me in some way. Or at the very least, has enough work to actually get me through a day without having to resort to watching television on my tablet to kill time. I mean, is it actually possible for someone to die of boredom? Because I think I might be on my death bed.

Nothing of Me

I have a quote tattooed on my ribs, by Chuck Palahniuk, back when his writing was cutting and edgy, and full of vitriol, and good. His more recent novels have been amongst the worst books I’ve ever read, but there was a time when he was at the peak of nihilism and barely contained rage. Those books are amongst the best books I’ve ever read, so I guess it balances out in the end. Regardless of his waning talent, there was a quote I read in one of his earlier novels, titled Invisible Monsters. The quote reads “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” I liked it so much that I went out and got it inked into my skin forever.

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Like much of Palahniuk’s earlier works, Invisible Monsters brought forth questions that teenage Amy was determined to seek answers for. Certainly, I wondered how I would have been different if it were not for the people around me, and their ultimate influence. I still think about it today, which I suppose is why I got tattooed in the first place. I often wonder how my life would have been altered had I never met my best friends. Or if my bookshop had never closed down. Or if I had have moved away and not ever come back. I think about the bands I like, the movies I’ve seen, the books I’ve read. And I wonder whether I would have had those same interest if I had have been born in another time, in another country, or even to different parents.

It’s easy to ignore the influence of other people, or pretend that it doesn’t exist when you’re determined to come across as independent. But even the most self certain people in the world have taken some measure of influence from the people around them. It’s impossible not to. Every discussion you ever have with another person is an opportunity for them to introduce you to a new way of thinking, or a new interest that you may not have previously had. And you hold that same power when you talk to other people. Maybe you make a statement and the person you’re talking to suddenly had their eyes opened to a new idea that they had never considered before.

I grew up listening to music from when my parents were teenagers, the music that they brought with them into adulthood, and parenthood. Would I have loved music from the 70’s and 80’s if I had not had that particular influence from the very moment I was born? Would I have come to find a liking for it entirely on my own, if it was not something I had developed an interest in as a direct result of my parents? These are the questions I find myself thinking at least semi regularly, when I wonder if my life would be better if. Admittedly that whole grass being greener thing is just a matter of perception, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering how I got to this point as the person I am. Who influenced me, who made me? The answer is probably everyone, myself included. I am not a person made of nothing, I am a person made from every experience, every interaction, every thing.

Fractured (and a Little Bit Lost)

I’m not going to pretend I’m writing my second blog post in as many days because I have anything particularly interesting to say. The truth of the matter is that I have nothing to do at work, and I am kind of grumpy, and I am angry at myself for doing something last night that I told myself I wasn’t going to do anymore. Plus, in typical Amy fashion, I am wallowing in existential angst and wondering what the hell I am supposed to be doing with this life of mine, that seems to be casually passing me by.

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Right now I feel about as fragile as a piece of glass, and the smallest amount of pressure is going to be enough to fracture me into a billion tiny pieces. My emotions feel like a raw, exposed wound and I am struggling to keep it all together, even though all I really want to do is explode out of my skin.

I am so, so very sick of feeling this way. I feel like I post about it periodically, which I’m sure you’re all tired of reading about. But no matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake this feeling. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am, and how I think who I am is being shaped by my circumstance, and my location. I said to a friend of mine on the weekend that I feel like I can’t really become the person I am meant to be until I get out of this state.

I don’t think it’s an uncommon thing, particularly amongst people in their 20’s, to feel like they’re still becoming. I think as a general rule, we have this notion that we’re not who we’re supposed to be yet, and that we have to spend the next however many years figuring that out. That’s certainly how I’ve been feeling lately. I feel like I’m not able to be authentically me yet, because I don’t have the freedom to reinvent myself into who I want to become. I feel as though I am living in this shell of myself, and that I need something explosive to break it open and reveal the real Amy underneath. Logically, I know that moving away isn’t going to change who I am. I know this, because I’ve moved away a few times, and I’ve always come back to my home town more or less the same person. But it doesn’t stop me from dreaming of the day I can finally have my own house. And when I think about that house, I think of it as being as far away from my home town as I can get without moving to another country.

What I think I need, is to move so far away that it isn’t easy to just come back home. I need something completely new and fresh, and different. Yes, wherever I go there will still be people who annoy me (thanks, customer service) and I know that wherever I go, my mental health is going to come along for the ride. I know that I will still have doubts, and states of depression, and fears and probably a lot of sleepless nights. I am not naive enough to think that moving away is going to change my life so drastically that I’ll wonder why I never did it sooner. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe that a fresh start can be cathartic, therapeutic even. At any rate, I have to believe that there is something better for me than what I have now.

I wrote this post today, because I needed to create something. I am stuck at work until 5:30 and every particle of my being is screaming out to make art, in one form or another. I feel trapped here, stuck in this godforsaken shopping centre, and this small square shop, and I am battling my very emotions, as well as my very irresponsible desire to just leave and never come back. But, as yesterday’s post will attest, I have a stupid adult obligation to stay where I am, at least until I have enough of a financial buffer behind to allow for the kind of freedom I so desperately crave.

Life is hard, and I’m angry and I kind of just want someone to bring me their dog so I can cuddle it.

Responsibility Sucks

There is nothing fun about being responsible. Being responsible means you stay at home when you really want to go to see a movie with your friend, because you know you can’t afford it. Being responsible means getting up and going to work every day, even though it makes you want to drive a fork through your eye. Being responsible means staying firm about decisions you make, when all you really want to do is give in with reckless abandon, and indulge in forbidden pleasures.

Whoever decided that it was up to us, as adults, to bear the weight of responsibility must have been a pretty uptight kinda dude. It certainly makes me miss aspects of my childhood, when hard decisions were up to other people to make. What I need is for someone else, someone smarter than me, to make my decisions and then deal with the aftermath and the responsibility of those decisions. Or, alternatively, I need to just be more carefree, and throw away responsibility altogether. To be fair, neither one of those options are sustainable in the long term, but right now I’m having a lover’s tiff with responsibility, and at this rate, one of us is going to end up sleeping on the couch.

In a perfect world, I would have everything I wanted. In a perfect world, having to choose between my sanity or a paycheck wouldn’t even be an issue. Nor would choosing between fun things, and adult things. In a perfect world I wouldn’t have to sacrifice one thing for another, or give up on things altogether. But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world, and being a responsible adult is about the only thing I am able to do, even when I hate it.

A Strange Kind of Luck

I have a strange kind of luck. I have never won the lottery, and I never win any of the competitions I occasionally enter. I haven’t had much luck with jobs, or romance, or any of the things that are a general measure of success (whatever that means). I am frightfully clumsy, and will generally find a way to embarrass myself in any situation. So I wouldn’t at all consider myself a particularly lucky person. But what I do have, is a curious ability to avoid serious injury by the very tiniest of margins. It’s my superpower, if you will. Which, as it turns out, is quite a super power to have.

Take a couple of years ago. I was driving my car around a corner on a wet road, when my tyres gave way and suddenly I was hydroplaning. I spun into oncoming traffic, was narrowly missed by a car coming in the other direction, and ended up on the gutter. It was a quick accident, over in a matter of seconds, though it felt infinitely longer to me at the time. My car was written off after the accident, but I was unscathed. Similarly, a few years ago I fell asleep behind the wheel of my car whilst my brother was in the passenger seat. Again, it would have been for no more than a few seconds, but I awoke as I was drifting slowly off the road. I righted myself, and my brother took over driving.

When I use those examples, it sounds like my close calls are all car related. I promise you, I’m actually a very good driver! And I’ve had more than a few close calls that didn’t occur behind the wheel of a vehicle! Today, I had another flirtation with injury. One of the things I do at my job is cutting keys. I’ve been quite ill the last few days, and so I was wearing a cardigan to work to keep warm. As I was cutting a key for a customer this afternoon, the sleeve of said cardigan got caught in the machine and jammed. The super sharp cutter was millimetres away from the delicate skin on the inside of my wrist just before I turned the power off. Fortunately the only thing that got damaged was my sleeve. No trips to the hospital for me (touch wood).

I have countless stories of how I have managed to, by either my own foolishness or by universal design, end up in a situation that could be potentially harmful, and somehow managed to escape said situation without so much as a scratch. I am constantly amazed by the sheer number of close calls I have had in my life. Certainly more than the average person, I’m sure! Somehow, this strange super power of mine manages to save the day (and my life more than once).

I realise as I’m writing this, that I’m probably tempting fate. My next close call could be the one that results in severed fingers, or broken bones, or some kind of hideous injury that will take months to recover from. But for now, at least, I can say that I am quite alright and completely uninjured!