Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cats, Twats and Cults

My life hasn’t changed since I bought a cat on a whim (aka: Making tentative enquiries about a cat that accidentally snowballed into actually buying one, because by that point I was too embarrassed to say ‘Nah, I was only asking. I don’t need a cat, thanks). Things have merely shifted into some kind of bizarre neighbouring dimension where nothing's changed, except now my misery has company in the shape of a furry being trotting around my apartment as if she owns it.

Occasionally, I'll be approached so that I might for a brief moment stroke her thrice, upon which she’ll walk away and collapse onto the rug always an aggravating stretch out of reach of my desperately needy hand. She's also for some reason like a small diode giving us electric shocks, which I'm pretty sure is hindering the whole bonding with me thing.

It’s a crying shame too that she’s not the picky-uppy kinda feline I had in my youth. Whenever I lift Rebecca to my chest (she came with that name, so don’t blame me), she struggles to get away almost instantly. The best I’ve managed is about 6 seconds one morning when, being hungry, she needed me. She knew it, as did I, so I was granted some hold time as she judged me through angry blue eyes before thinking ‘Fuck this!’, and struggled for the floor while I screamed: ‘LOVE ME!!!!’

The flat meanwhile hasn't got as filthy as I'd thought. The litterbox is more like a litterhut and doesn’t stink (but then I’m on my knees daily, scooping out Becky's crap and solidified chunks of urine). The worst smell is her food, and the biggest inconvenience clearing that (dried cat food – the hardest substance on earth), and for my troubles I’m afforded some mildly sub-thusiastic leg rubbing during dinner preparation that misses me altogether 70% of the time.

In fact, true to female form if I want her attention I just have to ignore her. It’s a pity I hadn't learned that when it comes to my former girlfriend (American). Once again, leading a life as ladybereft as a sweaty gentleman's leather club in Vauxhall, I have no other option but to pine over the last woman to accept me sex-wise. Perhaps it was a mistake during my Crete holiday for me to email if she wanted some freshly pressed olive oil (being a big fan of just being given stuff, she readily said yes). Perchance it was a bigger mistake to add several packs of Lindt chocolate to the package once I'd returned home. Maybe it was a mistake on her part several weeks later to email that she was considering ‘popping over’ to London, a missive that had me more excited than a child arsonist with ADHD watching his school get firebombed by robots.

In the flurry of digital conversation that followed, I offered her a place to stay on my couch, intending to honour and respect her privacy with every fibre of my being (but if she wanted to sexually assault me, I didn't intend to put up a fight.) Yet a pattern emerged in that flurry, the same pattern of the last SIX BLOODY YEARS where I, the twat, pretty much instigated all contact, and found myself having the last word. So I thought, ‘Screw her,’ and don’t contact her for a week - a whole week! - then I’m in the pub with a friend who tells me ‘She was definitely The One, you know. Marriage material.’ So I think, ‘Yeah, sure, whatevs,’ and go downstairs to get my round but find myself walking outside to casually call New York on my mobile to say, ‘Hi!'

It's needy and pathetic. I think about her daily, because I miss her, and because I don't have the balls and/or confidence and/or will to go out there and begin that painful, awkward hell of meeting other desperately lonely people via the fucking internet date. And as I get older, I realise my natural inability around women is only getting worse, and more awkward and cringey. At our office party in a small restaurant, I made smalltalk with our waitress that wasn't supposed to make her ill-at-ease and creeped out but it did. I tried guessing where according to her strong Slavic accent she was from, and she grunted "Europe" before leaving to get our drinks. She smiled easily at my colleagues whilst frowning at me to such an extent that I thought this was deliberate juxtaposition aimed at getting me to back off, which was horrible to see as I'd barely even leaned on. And when we got up to leave as she stood with waiting customers nearby, she said an abrupt 'Bye' whilst staring at the wall as if she was trying to burn through it with her eyes rather than look at me.

So that's basically what I'm capable of when I try and engage in a little feel-good flirtation with a young lady in the service trade, meaning I'm stuck with Internet fucking dating. It'll never happen at work, because I'm still embedded in a tiny all-male office, which is also confusing the hell outta me as my boss is making restructuring plans involving him at the core and me, his Number Two (poetic), with opportunities for huge theoretical wage increases. 

The trouble is, I don't really know if I want an utterly magnificent wage doing a job for the rest of my working life I never wanted in the first place. And that's a biggie. My boss's plans will take us both (he said) into £-stupid, company director’s wages basically, money I never considered I’d earn. And it’s getting me down. I feel like I'll be selling my soul to the highest bidder, still sat in the same place I told myself several years ago I would be leaving soon (around the same time I'd started an LDR with an American I was ambivalent about).

I think I’d rather be poor, yet happy. I’m almost 63% certain of that. But on the other hand, I'll be earning more than my most successful friends, which obviously is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. They’ve long done way better than me with their beautiful wives and pretty children and houses with stairs, so earning more money than them will mean I’m winning for once, even though it's by accident, and in a game I'd lost interest in. And not very good at. And bored with.

Basically I'm still in a rut, and realising I'm not just horribly timid among the opposite sex but generally just crap in careers too.

And then last night, I went to PostSecret Live in London. My mate Russell was helping his brother arrange it, and it lifted my mired fucking spirit. Essentially it's that website on tour - the one with the postcards with people's secrets on them - featuring the originator Frank Warren talking about it, and showing some of his favourites on a giant projector. Even better was the fact that it must have been 80-85% young women there. It was like they'd all been stored up over the several years I'd managed to not be in a room with any of them, and it cheered me greatly to get occasional glances that didn't end in their vomiting. (It helped being one of about twenty blokes in an auditorium of several hundred women though).

There was something so feelgood, so life-affirming yet simple in Frank's message. It helped that he's a slight, bespectacled kindly American chap gentle of voice (not to be confused with the gruff cockney fist-flinging promoter of the same name), and his message that we're all valid and worthy. It was no wonder the whole place was filled with impressionable young women - and me. In fact I was so moved and blissed out that I came very close to stepping up to the microphone to calmly reveal my secret was that I'm petrified of public speaking. But it's probably good I didn't, as I almost definitely would've felt empowered enough to go on to reveal that I once slept with a prostitute. Instead, I sat there as (mainly) young girls revealed they were more upset that their hamster died than their uncle, or they're compulsive Icelandic liars.

There was one point during the whole event, during the clapping after each confession, or the cheers of support as someone stepped up to the mic only to be seized with emotion, that it dawned on me that this is what cults must feel like, and I started to feel really quite cynical. But then I remembered there was no promise of paradise at the end of it, or group commitments to be made - unless you count the website, I suppose - and I started to defrost again. Instead I sensed that we're all human and beautifully imperfect, and that I really should give up on that woman who long ago gave up on me - and if I really want happiness, instead of chasing wages I should chase my dreams.

If you happen to know what my dreams are, answers on a postcard please.


Anonymous said...

But if you miraculously manage to become happy you'll have nothing to write about.

Anonymous said...

1) Scenario described in third para funniest thing I've read all month
3) A bitchy waitress isn't your fault.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

The cat does own the place. So sorry, didn't anyone tell you?

Don't be such a bloody pragmatic poet. Go for the £-stupid.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

You can still follow your dreams when you've got a wad of notes in your back pocket. At least, I hope so. That's what I'm aiming for, anyway.

Also, I'm cutting my ex out for 2013. You should, too. They hold you back even when they're round the corner or in America, if you let them. Enough is enough.

(Whether I'll accompany this goodbye with a Post Secret style introspective letter, I haven't decided yet.)

Also, I looked at the Post Secret events. Then I saw the ticket price. Turns out you can put a price on secrets.

Z said...

If the choice were between poor yet happy or rich yet unhappy, it'd be straightforward. Things aren't, on the whole. There's nothing wrong with earning a lot and I'd rather you didn't end up poor as well as miserable.

A couple of weeks ago, I didn't phone about two dogs I'd have been happy to give a home to because - I don't sodding know why I didn't. I wimped out, somehow. Rebecca will come round as long as you're kind but she doesn't get a hint that you might really want her affection.

Anonymous said...

Stick a pair of tits on the cat and Bobs yer auntie.

ess jay said...

watch idiot box for christmas. its fun.


I've got a poem for ya. "You are an idiot, You are a bitch, You shit me to tears, ...I'm goin' down the pub."

looby said...

If you're going to do a job you don't like, at least do it for decent money. There's nothing to stop you looking around for other things, and having that kind of salary on your cv will improve your chances of getting something equally well paid.

Don't rush the cat. They're slow burners.

Anonymous said...

Mate, if you're being offered the money then take it. I'm freelancing into poverty with no fucking prospect of getting a job in the near future. Better to be miserable and wealthy than miserable and poor. I should know, as a unpaid member of the miserable and poor collective.

luna said...

Since you were not posting i didn't bother with the cat warnings.
But you've gone and done it i can;'t believe it!1
Didn't i suggest you start by caring for cacti first of all?There was a good reason!

Where did you get her from anyway?
she's not a kitten that's why she's not bonding, she has a past.
Stop trying to grab and paw every catty female that comes your way.
We don't LIKE it.

Keep your distance, speak to her softly and melodiously, and let her come to you.

IF she chooses to.

luna said...

P.S. At least she matches your decor colour scheme *sigh*

Hannah Joy Curious said...

Refreshingly frank. As for your pussy troubles, my cat – a rescue female tabby – acted exactly the same way as yours until my partner came to visit. Cute though they may be, those little fuzzballs seem to be very sensitive to our emotions. I was miserable and stressed out of my brains so the cat was too, no matter how much love I tried to heap on her. When I relaxed and cheered up, so did she.

Regarding dreams, careers and money, this all sounds too familiar. I had a few financially rewarding years on the commercial side of media with silly salaries, advantages and travel. The bigger the pay check, the more frustrated and useless I felt. Because I knew full well that increasing some corporate bottom line wasn't my calling, a calling that had only ever been indulged in my very first job – a contract with one of the world's major news media organization – barely out of college.

After one particularly soul-destroying commercial contract during which I was told by my boss that one of the products the company was making me peddle was in fact a futureless steaming pile of shite, I jacked the business life and the suits in and pestered the hell out of a publisher so he would take me on as a junior journo.

He kindly relented by offering me a week's trial and took it upon himself to make my life as difficult as possible during five very long business days at the end of which he announced that, much to his surprise, I seemed to be able to put words together coherently enough to form complete sentences.

And that was that, until he called me back a few months later to cover for someone's maternity leave. I have never looked back even though most of my jobs have been freelance, exception being an overnight editor job in London that made me so very sick that I was forced me to quit after a few months. The industry being what it is – and because I need at least one meal a day to keep alive – I also developed a side career as a tour director, an activity that is best described as loathsome, especially when working with whingeing Brit pensioners who complain incessantly about foreigners being unable to make a good cup of tea. The pay is as shit as in journalism – and you often end up shouldering considerable financial risk – but the job is interesting and infuriating in equal measures. Plus it's guaranteed material that can be recycled at will in print, and it takes care of social anxiety issues by completely taking you out of yourself for however long you are on the road.

No one can tell you what your dreams are, no one can tell you what your vocation / calling is, but the fact that you have started asking questions is a sure sign that you feel the need for change.

Whether that means changing jobs, retraining, starting another career on the side or surrendering to big bucks, it sounds like the time has come to do something.

Good luck! :-)

PS/ Apologies about the deleted comment routine – I couldn't live with my typos. Also, anybody using "twat" in a headline should be hailed as a hero. And yes, that's coming from a girl. Not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, FYI.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so you don't think you should be in charge of your own life?

I despair of any woman who refuses to identify themselves as a feminist.

fwengebola said...

Anon ~ This is surprisingly relevant. I've long thought that if I became some uber-positive freak, I'd no longer be me.
Anon ~ 1. Thank you. 2. I know, but when you've got None, any One is a step up. 3. There's a lot I obsess about that is entirely nothing to do with me, you are correct.
UB ~ Hello! And no, I'd forgotten what damn cats are like. Just wish she'd be a little more pleased to see me though.
PDEWYMO ~ Yes, it's good to cut back on exes, but is yours still in touch, as mine is, leaving you kind of pleased and confused?
I noticed the price too. Remarkably high. Fortunately I got a pleasant discount. Which helped.
Z ~ GET THE DOGS. I think having a being that relies on you does help centre yourself somehow. Rebecca's currently lounging around half asleep. Now she's just got up to eat. I want her job.
Anon ~ I'm not putting tits on my cat.
Ess ~ Ah yes, that line's in the trailer. I've seen Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom. That was a fun movie.
Looby ~ You're right, I know, but with the (implied) salary increase comes the work and commitment increase, and I don't think I have that in me.
I'll put that another way: I don't have that in me. Cat's a work in progress.
Anon ~ See answer above. I really will be giving up all my time to suck the moneycock. Beers soon?
Luna ~ Hurrah, you're back. Yes, I took your advice in the sense that I didn't listen to it. Cat currently on her back asleep. That's sort of nice. She's the company that misery loves. And yes, she goes with the couch.
HJC ~ Hello and welcome. I understand where you're coming from, and I'm still searching for that calling, although I'm getting tired, and more defeatist. There's a lot to be said for just getting comfy and earning enough money to live a relatively stress-free life with a beige cat.
But I've been asking questions about my life and direction for so long that I'm beginning to think there is no answer, and comfy's the way to go...

digressica said...

It's okay to be earning loads in a job you hate, and it's equally okay to be earning shit all in a job you love.

But if you're doing the first thing, you need to be using the safety net of your Daddy Warbucks status to actively pursue the thing you love.

I'm pretty sure you know the thing you love, and luckily it's also the thing you're brilliant at. Write your book. Get a literary agent. Get it published. This year.

Also, I love your cat. She is beautiful. In my family we also have a very standoffish cat who - after nine years living with us - recently jumped up to sit on my lap for the first time ever. You might have a bit of a wait on your hands.

fwengebola said...

I really needed that, thanks. I've started writing again (very, very, very, very, very, very slowly, and you've helped push me there, so thank you.
And thank you for the kind words about Becky, which I will relay tonight. She may appear indifferent though, and eager to be put back down on the floor.
But thank you again. Will await the lap moment, although last night she did sleep next to me, for how long I'm not sure.