Archive for April, 2009

“Smitten” 2

One might think I have some principle or other regarding honesty on here. Truth of the matter is, however, I don’t. I try to be as honest as possible, but keep a few things in mind when you read this.
My vision is distorted. My writing is emotionally influenced and my memory is far from perfect. I will simplify situations and conversations to magnify the point, and will occasionally draw questionable conclusions.
I know what I mean when I write cryptically worded paragraphs or figurative expressions. You don’t. You can try to assume but realize that I have a reason for wording matters the way I sometimes will.
I don’t lie on here, since I would be lying to myself. But, I am still acutely aware that I have a reader base, however small. Details that I don’t want read, I simply did not include.

For that reason, I recently edited a post fundamentally when I realized my mistake. Call me a pussy. It was vulnerability I did not want to show.

Some will find this text very familiar.

Screw that, forget about that
I don’t want to hear about anything like that
I got nothing to do
But hang around and get screwed up on you

Ever since I quit MUDing, it has been rather difficult for me to channel my interests. It’s hard to put inspiration into physical occupation like writing or working, because I quickly lose interest the moment I have a clear view of what the end result will be. This results in two effects: A constant midlife crisis-like addiction to adrenalin and the breaking of laws, and a slowly progressing obsession with one individual after another.

Fascinating as it might be, this intense analyzing of those around me gives me little more than frustration with myself. I tend to pick the worst subjects you see, and I am frightened to death that my intentions will come over as bad and I will only manage to push them away. So in the end I will reach a dead end that I can’t get around of without being obvious, and the tedious process of pacing begins. Walking back and forth, watching, from a distance, with the only distraction being the next object of interest to shamelessly sneak around on.

Back when my roommate was still living here, he would have these moments of being flawlessly annoying. Don’t get me wrong, he was and is a great person, but god damn it when he got into one of those moods again. He came home from a mutual friend one day, where he had met a girl he had gotten crazy about in about an hour. He would go and abuse our oven mitten, calling it the “smitten mitten” and make it say “smitten” repeatedly. I eventually threatened to roll that thing up and force it up his cock hole, that shut him up. I had to keep him from gluing ping pong balls to it, too, having a seriously hard time getting it through to him that it would render the thing useless.

And just today, he of all people, looked across the table, where I had gone quiet.
“Smitten?”
I nodded slowly. “Yeah.”

 

So yeah. Maarten is hooked, poor sap. She’s got a boyfriend, for crying out loud. She’s from another continent. The far side of it, and she’ll be leaving in a year. Did I mention she’s got a boyfriend?

I can’t seem to get her out of my head, though. Our working hours are both insane and contradicting, so there’s only a slim chance I’ll be able to see her until 8 days from now. I suppose that’s a good thing, it may help that damn helplessness subside.

I always said, attraction does not stick to rules. Shit like “he’s not my type” is no excuse because that would indicate that it only takes him to be your type- besides, exceptions are everywhere. The only factors that matter -and remember this- are Attraction, Interest and Closeness. By interest I mean things like ethical objections like marriage or whatever deeply rooted reasons that smother the spark.
Otherwise, if you put 2 people together and these are mutually there, they -will- hook up. Bullshit like “we shouldn’t”, does not apply.

Knowing this, you can imagine what kind of challenge I see myself facing here. Let me get it straight: I don’t want to steal her from a boyfriend she’s happy with, and I don’t intend to claim what’s not mine. But fuck, I met her for something just over an hour and I caught myself ogling Smitten Mitten today.

But here’s the good news: I am a good liar. As much as I am deadly honest with myself, I will always be sincere with others – there is a difference. If I swear I’m telling you the truth, I am. If you’re making me swear it, you’re giving me good reason to lie. Things like that usually involve matters that the other lies about to themselves, and if they’re too fragile to see the truth, I won’t make them.
To the point. One year is nothing. "So… you’re gonna go out there, you’re gonna say ‘goodnight’ and ‘I’ve had a very lovely evening’… walk out the door, get in the car…. go home, jerk off… and that’s all you gonna do."
Easy, right?

And hope she never reads this.
Liar.

 

It’s no secret that a roadie’s world is a man’s world. Women are scarce and usually found in the office, and those that do join in with the grunts have bigger balls than you do. The result is an atmosphere of crotch scratching, burping and crude remarks. There is limited room for decent conversation, about personal life, beliefs or philosophies.

Which is one of the reasons I am so fond of one colleague, in particular. From another part of the world, he communicates in English but luckily, is articulate enough to make himself understood even at complicated or specific topics. On top of that, he’s a thinker, like I am. Although our views differ slightly, we share our method of reasoning and understand each other quite well when we discuss various topics. Given enough time for ourselves, we will talk about various concepts we are all troubled with until our colleagues tell us to shut the fuck up, and we are made fun of for the rest of the day. But we don’t need their understanding- we have each other’s, and I noticed it has created a bond I share with no one else.

Not that we’re that tight. It’s just a great relief to find that you’re not alone digging a little deeper once in a while, and that even your method of doing so isn’t as unique as you thought it was. Some might find that disappointing, but I am just glad I’m not as mad as I sometimes fear to be.
Talks like that can start off at any given time, and will carry on until we are called to business. Something said in normal conversation will cause one of us to say something the other might not agree with, and off we go until we get to the very bottom of the issue, and find exactly where our difference in views are. At that point is can become difficult to swallow it down and agree to disagree, rather than start a convincing marathon in the style of the religious.

Just recently, one of those enlightened moments occurred. I can’t recall exactly what the topic was, but the conversation had gone silent, adding drama to the slow shaking of his head and his mumbling, “It’s terrible. There is no freedom. There is only the lie of such.”

And off we went. It boiled down to his definition of freedom, and he explained that he would only accept nature itself to put him before choices he didn’t want to make. Somehow we got to the example of “the monkey and the lion,” both iconic concepts of limited intelligence and mortal danger respectively. He claimed that our ethics had gone off track. That the pacification of amusement and the ease of living had made us numb, and deeply unhappy. The call back to nature would be the only thing that will allow us to find that peace again.
We are nature’s mistake. The other side of the medal to the almost musical balance that nature has found in sustaining itself. Our urge for survival has gone out of hand and we have separated from nature’s set of ethics of “survival of the fittest”, which has shown to work. Our minds are severed from the unity found in the wilderness, and we miss it so much that we can never be 100% happy.
Our ethics are wrong. Our ways are misguided. We are a cancer to nature and ourselves, corroding the beauty of nature and being a danger to what is right.

So he claimed.

Naturally, I disagreed. Loving my life as it’s going at the moment, I didn’t think we were fundamentally unhappy. I couldn’t claim to be 100% satisfied with myself, but I don’t think returning to nature would bring that back. We may be somehow unsatisfied with our situation, but going back to our example, my unhappiness was nothing compared to that of a monkey being chased by a lion. No one would agree less to the laws of nature as an animal fighting for survival. I couldn’t imagine it would make us any happier.
We may be controlled to an extent and other humans might want to cage us in rules, but the freedom we can enjoy today is so different from a situation in which we had to struggle for survival. If we were to go back to that situation, and I was trapped in a life of searching food in constant fear of death, not to mention in the pain that would result in a lack of medical attention, I would quickly lose my mind. This is a point where our opinions clashed.
What it came down to, was the discussion whether our ways were right or wrong, compared to those of “mother nature”. If were were her mistake, then this would imply that a conscious choice is involved, where she made an error of some kind. Both atheist/agnostic, we more or less agreed that this would be very unlikely. Additionally, if nature’s allowance for us to exist was a wrong thing to do, this would mean that there is a set of rules around “wrong” and “right” that even nature would have to answer to. I don’t think that is the case.
The only concept of wrong and right is that inside our heads. It differs from one individual to the next, and fundamentally so when it comes to the world of animals. Some eat their mates, some destroy eggs in favor of their own- things we would find unacceptable. No one would disagree with nature’s “ethics” more than the terrified monkey. To me, there is no wrong or right outside our minds. We could destroy nature as a whole and then each other without repercussion. It would be a terrible thing for all of us, yes, but not evil in the eyes of the onlooker, just like it isn’t evil for a bug to kill its mate, or a tribe of apes to destroy another.

In the end, he asked me this: “So then do you think that things, as they are today, should be like this?”
I shrugged and shook my head. “Things shouldn’t be anything. They just are. They led to this situation and will continue, and no one cares what happens in the end.”
And that is where we agreed to disagree. When we were done, he concluded that he did think there is, objectively, a right and a wrong judging our actions. I didn’t mention that this would imply that a higher being would be involved, it’s the age old discussion I actively avoid.
Me, I am convinced that good and evil don’t reside in our hearts, but our minds. We owe neither man or nature our collaboration, we do so because we want to. Keeping this in mind, it suddenly becomes so much less important to pick up your ID card, or learn to drive. Fuck ‘em, they can wait, your happiness goes first. Selfishness will backfire on you, but blind obedience will obstruct your ways and the key to true happiness.

Or so I claim.

“People need their freedom of speech so much
to compensate for their freedom of thought,
which they rarely use.”

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It’s blue

I haven’t bothered to write lately because frankly, negative energy needs vented much more than positive does. But, here goes, for logging’s sake.

I just had the best week in an alarmingly long time. The main, if not the only reason, is the company I had. 2 American couchsurfers came to stay over for a day or 4, and in some strange manner I managed to cheer up vicariously through their presence. I went out with them every day to show them the city and hang out with my friends, which in turn allowed me to notice there’s actually a whole world out there.

It’s been so long, it’s hard to describe in which ways I missed the sun. I was reminded of who I once was so vividly, as the bunch of us sat, drank and talked nonsense. It hurt like a bitch, but in a good way, like muscle soreness after a thorough workout. Perhaps that’s just it: I’m rusty. This casual hanging out without looking over my shoulder to check for my ex is something that has grown out of me.

They’re just like me, I swear I couldn’t have chosen my own friends better (Nothing personal). Their company here felt as natural as it gets, and guess what else: They liked my house. They actually noticed the vast collection of trinkets I collected at work, which in itself they found “fucking awesome”. Finally someone who agrees on how goddamn hardcore my job really is. Ha.

They’ve left now, but their effect still lingers. Definitions have been changed in a matter of days and allow me to see things differently.
The city is back, bathed in sunlight. As if on queue, the weather has become freakishly hot for the time of year and summer seems to have kicked in early. Rather than having to search for them, opportunities to leave the house have presented themselves spontaneously, and continue to do so. I can’t really tell what has changed so much that I get to leave the house more often then not. I mean, the changes are obvious, but I can’t tell how much they’re affecting the situation. Perhaps the biggest issue is that I now want to get out, rather than consider it a necessity.

This post is jumbled, I know. I’m not used to writing positive things. I’ve been surprising myself repeatedly the past couple days. Just yesterday someone I don’t even know asked me to take a few pictures of the city for her, and I just… got up and went out. I had the sun in my eyes but unlike any other time, I didn’t take my cap- I wanted to feel the wind in my hair.

I can’t tell how long this will last and what the long-term effects will be. What I do know is that all this was way overdue. I had settled in my introverted state so much, that I forgot who I really was.

The Americans moved on, largely unaware of the effects in their wake. Which is good, I suppose, they wouldn’t care much to begin with. We did have brief talks about the pain we’ve all had to deal with at some point, and for once, my immediate reaction was not “You think you know, but you don’t.” They knew. We all know, by now. They brought the world back to me, so I can finally come to terms with it.

I think I’ll be alright.

There’s a South African girl I’m meeting tonight.
We’ll see how that goes.


Princess diaries

There is very little the local roadie won’t do. It’s a major part of why I like doing it: you can never tell what the next thing is they will ask of you. One day you’re securing a roof structure, while the next you will be painting the floor of a concert hall or moving its owner’s furniture. The jobs we get can be divided into 4 major categories, though:

  • “Misc.”
    From shovelling debris to cutting passes, this is as random as it gets. Often certain companies or individuals will be appealed by the low cost of our company and think they can recruit us for whatever little job they have. Not my favorite.

 

  • Concerts
    Rock ‘n Roll, or at least what’s left of it. Very long days, divided into Load-in and Load-out (LI & LO in text messages) with several hours in between. I rather like these, they turn the venue in one big playground with plenty of things to do and Americans/Brits/Canadians to annoy. Because I understand and speak English quite well, I can usually make myself pretty useful and manage to help my appointed technician well. Plus, I get to sleep in between!

 

  • Theater
    To me, theater equals impossibly huge set pieces, made from cheap wood and needing to last the whole tour, resulting is stressed out, rude staff. They are Belgian or Dutch and had to get up obscenely early to make it there, since they go home every night. The whole gig is constructed pretty much “a l’improvisoire” and those 5 meter tall panels aren’t really made to be heaved upright with just the four of you. Small sets can take frustratingly long, and in my case, since the personal interest is limited at best, motivation is low. On the positive side: Female technicians, they’re a welcome change from beer-bellied, rude, smelly guys.

 

  • Scaffolding
    Or ‘”Scaff” in short. As my colleague put it on a newbie’s first job: “This is steel. It will not yield to flesh. Get that.” You won’t go home without bruises or something to tell the wife starting with “You will never guess what happened today.” Impressions vary from “boring, tedious and pointless” to “fucking apeshit”. These jobs usually last a few days and make for standard nine-to-five working hours, except they’re eight to six. Stress tends to peak here and there, resulting in interesting reactions from individuals you thought you knew, and a strong bond with whom ever you’re sharing the tower with. You get paid extra if you are asked to climb, but in return this tends to make people expect more from you.

 

This week, the only job I could get my claws on was one of the latter. Festival season has started again, and the very first in line was a punk festival named Groezrock. I lost track of what counts as punk these days, and frankly I don’t care much for it. In other words, to me it was two days of routine ledger hammering. Oh, and agony. Did I mention agony?

Due to major shifts within the involved companies, scaff jobs are relatively scarce these days. As a result, my employer hasn’t bothered with the annual scaff course in several years, and we are very slow on climbers. From the top of my head, I can name five and I think that’s all. What’s more, only two of us actually took the course, the others were simply crazy enough to go without.

Before I started working with Roadrunner, I had a profound fear of heights. The course I took were three days of purgatory, and still overshadowed by my first climbing job, which was a month on the stage of U2: How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb tour.
After four years, this rational fear still bothers me. Phobias tend to grow back if you aren’t continuously confronted with them, and mine is no different. There are no festivals in the winter, so every spring I have to go through that same shit.

Being afraid has become something I’m rather used to. It sticks to the inside of my skin for months and only fades by the end of the summer, annoying me terribly each day from the second I am asked to put on my harness. This week were the first days, and the “pro’s” would probably laugh their asses off but I thought it was quite intense, and a fucking tough bastard as the first job of the year. However I know that I’ve done pretty much anything they would ask me before, and I just need to suck it up in order to do it. This helps to ignore my initial reluctance and fucking do it anyway.

It is one thing to climb a standard eight meters up, it is another to start construction on that level. When you manage to shove the next two meter standard over the pin in front of you (using both hands of course), resulting in a wobbly but technically secure pole, you are then expected to climb it and attach a two meter, horizontal ledger at the top. Having done this, you then have to repeat this on the next square, where the far end of your ledger now freely hangs. What do you do? Do you trust this shaky thing enough to hang on to it while crossing, or do you climb down a level and up again? It all depends on how afraid you are, and this makes me a poor scaffer, especially on the first couple jobs.

Luckily, we work for a company that uses a unique system for its larger structures, referred to as “black steel”. Prefabricated truss towers are put in place with a crane and only need to be pinned together, redefining scaffolding and the work involved. Rather than working with individual pipes, all of which have to be pinned and secured individually and can be overlooked, you’re dealing with sound, solid towers that won’t do more than wobble a little whatever you do with them (resulting in the unnerving sight of the tower bending beneath you). I prefer that system, it may be tougher to deal with when something is off, but at least you don’t have to double-check every step you take when crossing the stage through the roof.


Broken Habits

I had to re-write this 3 times, because time and time again it had the consistency of spaghetti, which would make it remarkably similar to how my mind would look if you cracked my skull like an egg, which honestly I wouldn’t mind much.

I quit the MUD I’ve been playing for a near perfect 1000 days, ending the addiction that has kept me hooked for 8 years.

8 years, filled with countless hours, days, nights, weeks of typing and reading. And at the end of it all, nothing to show for it, but unbelievable lengths of logs. All the work I put into it is now rendered completely useless, serving the amusement of individuals I no longer want any business with.

I wish I could say I have no regrets, but that’s not how addiction works, is it? It was always the feedback of a select few that kept me attracted, and I would do so much to be able to take that along with me. In time, they managed to get a hold on me more than I should ever allow and today, all I have left is that lingering attraction, making me want to beat it out of myself. But eh, how stupid would that look…
I feel the connection fading already, and though it stings, it’s probably for the best. Wishful thinking really can take you for a ride.

Despite all its negative effects, I may just owe my sanity to this game. It didn’t only serve as an effective way to vent inspiration and frustration, but it also helped fight the boredom when needed and, more importantly, numb the pain when it grew out of control. Pretending not to have problems takes a load off your mind.
So now I’m faced with reality, and luckily in a stage in my life where I can afford it. I even dare say, timing couldn’t have been better. I’m facing a life-changing summer and I don’t want to spend it indoors.

It’s going to… suck so hard, though. Like the drain of an olympic pool kind of hard. It sucks so hard, it pulls your organs out through whatever hole you can fit over there, or create one in whatever limb you insist on feeling your way around with. I will be running up walls- already am, because I think and analyze and overthink and overanalyze with nothing to break through all this to let my mind roam freely. The few dreams that I can remember of late already managed to give me a genuine scare, and I wonder what the long-term effects are going to be as all this builds up.

 

A friend of mine, about a year younger I believe, used to live in town here but he moved to Antwerpen (Antwerp, whatever). He found himself a beautiful girl there and now they live together and had a baby that turned out to be a girl. Oddly worded you might think (admit it), but from my perspective, this is pretty much exactly what occurred. It all happened so fast, and just yesterday I went to visit them and within seconds I was holding a tiny little human in my arms, frozen in place not to risk making any wrong move that would kill it in several horrific ways at once.

I have never held anything human before, younger than 12 years old or so. I have never even seen one from up close, they kind of freak me out. So put yourself in my position for a moment, and imagine being given something that wouldn’t even survive without constant care. Some day very soon this would become the kind of creature that makes me look away, but there and then, my friends just went and trusted me with its life.

Of course I’m overreacting, but… holy hit, this thing had no teeth. It can’t eat. It can do nothing but make little sounds unconsciously. Its life is one big sequence of trial and error, finding out what hurts where when another “error” is made.

It scared the fuck out of me, yes. Besides wanting to stab anything that came near it, I was more than ready to throw it back into its monther’s arms like C4 going ‘boo’ at the first signs of me doing something wrong with it. It must have been obvious, because even the baby at one point was looking at me with a face like “Will you chill the fuck out already.” And even that face was tiny. It was all there; you know, nose, eyes, suspecting frown, but it was all in miniature. And I just… couldn’t comprehend it fully. One day I’m lifting and tipping flight cases with a team of four to ram them between a stack on a trailer with a prehistorical grunt, and the next I am awkwardly holding this mini person, stripped of every single but a select few survival skills.
Sucking, grabbing,… That’s it, right? I was told there was very little I could do wrong with it, but oh, please do support its head because it doesn’t have control over its neck muscles yet. It kept face-butting my shoulder.

 

I’m not sure I mentioned this before: A few friends invited me with them to go on a 5-day hike through Scotland. I am broke, just went walking for a full 2 months and have a life to piece together, so naturally I said yes.

Luckily the state –I got the news today- “owes” me about €1000. How much of that I will actually get and when remains the question, but I’m hoping about double, today. It doesn’t hurt being honest.

We’ll see how that works out. Wish me luck, I’ll need it. Again. I’m beginning to rather like this life of blind leaps.