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The Epiphany

All my friends are married. Two couples and counting, so here I’m stuck taking pictures, speed-editing them to win the race of delivery (unbeaten so far) and dancing by myself.

I wouldn’t be me if these major changes, although they technically have nothing to do with me, didn’t come with some watered-down epiphany of sorts for me, too.
I don’t know why these people accept me, really. I’m nothing like them: I talk differently, have different interests and sure as hell don’t make their kind of wage. They’re well-raised, house-garden-tree folk of a kind that generally crosses the streets upon spotting me. The only reason why I ever joined them in the first place is because my former girlfriend went to school with the female half of the group.

And still, they accept me without question, faults and everything, and envelop me with a friendliness that would even make it a little difficult for me to accept.
The last couple to marry in particular, are two people that are especially close to me. I was chosen to do the speech in the name of “the gang” so I was able to voice a gratefulness to them I wasn’t able to, before. And here’s something I can’t believe: I choked up halfway. I had to step back for a moment, laughing with my own surprising reaction.

When I went through dark times, they were there for me. And not just as a passive shoulder, but actually calling me every week, taking me out, and listening to my rants. While the pain and recovery of which was still mine to bear, their interest in me helped enormously. It’s actually no shock that I got a little emotional; the things I shared with them are from the worst moments of twenty-five years.

And again, it wouldn’t be me if things didn’t get more complicated by my ex being there, and actually having the ballsack to bring her boyfriend: that weak little shit she chose to cheat on me with. After over two years, I had never seen him before, and as expected, I’m not impressed. Fucking sheep.

It’s her fault, you know. She did this to you. While the easiest thing for the group is to have you two back together indefinitely, I simply wouldn’t allow it.
I nodded yes, and although I seriously considered the idea for the first time, still wouldn’t believe it. Good advice left behind, as usual. It wasn’t until later that night, that I realized he was right. Bringing that kid, who really had nothing to do at this wedding, was unnecessary and only served to make her evening better. She didn’t give a flying fuck if it ruined mine- or she did, but hadn’t considered the option of leaving her pet at home.

But, I behaved. I didn’t murder him like I once swore I would, but I didn’t shake his fucking hand, either. I left them alone, and continued to ignore them separately when he went home. I felt more and more tired with this shit, and had it gradually easier to accept that really, she is to blame for all this, and I have a right to be angry with her.
And I am. I’ve had enough of her shit, of her refusing to see any further than her own personal needs. She had been catered to them (by me) as she grew up, often at the expense of mine. But ignoring the notion that I could possibly be in a dilemma with that tool showing up, is kind of where I draw the line.

I watched inception the other night and it kind of reminded me of her (as it would).
How easy it wouldn’t be, to simply cut that tangible memory out of my mind. To remove the disturbance so that I wouldn’t forget her, but cut the emotional ties and move on cherishing the memories and nothing else.
It seriously is what I need to do, but I just can’t bring myself to it. Something inside still links her persona with some concept of… What, really?
When I walked out to get some fresh air and to get away from the fucking elevator music the deejay was crapping out, I sensed someone come after me. I caught myself expecting it to be her. Seriously: What more does she need to do to make me put her out of my mind?

I guess I’m just used to it by now. The people who tell me most often to just forget about her are those who hurt me in remarkably similar ways. Still, I would take them all back under my wing if they should only ask. I seem to have a strong melancholic side, which tends to take me for a ride now and then. And let me tell you: it’s a fucking bitch. The conscious part of me moves on and deals with the loss, while one pea-sized little fraction clings on and refuses to let go. And as a matter of fact, I have this with every ex-girlfriend of mine. Some nagging feeling that there’s something unfinished, and things aren’t as they should be. Only common sense stands in the way of doing stupid things, which I luckily have quite a bit of.

I seriously think that if I can finally shake her off, I will be able to do so more easily with other people. And I think I owe it to myself, too, so I can at least move forward and move on, without this puppy complex that puts me in doomed relationships out of simple, doodah fear.

 

And then maybe, someday, the wedding day will be mine. Funny how I never cared about it when in a stable relationship. Still don’t, but you know. I suck at being single.

Now please: Enough about chicks, already.


deCadence

I’m sure other people go to the dentist twice a week and have a tooth pulled every month or so. No big deal. Because when I say I hate dentists, I get strange looks. And when I happen to mention I don’t enjoy having my teeth pulled out of my skull, they call me a wuss.

I guess it’s just another Friday for others then, when they wake up with they gum infected like a war mark from an uranium bombshell. Those painkillers for two days straight were totally unnecessary.
Who studies dentistry, anyway? What kind of sick, perverted fuck must it take to say to themselves, “I think I’ll start a career in gruesome mutilation today.”

It’s the most common thing in the world when you put yourself up on a chair that tilts you backwards, getting a light in your eyes (and mouth, yes) with power equivalent to a dying sun. I see nobody chewing metal on the street, but having your jaw stabbed with a steel hook is really nothing to make a fuss about, it’s only to check for cavities. My bad.

I can understand that two of my teeth need to go. They’re half gone already anyway and rotting away up to my eye socket. I get that. But in this day and age, with near-sentient robots on Mars and striped toothpaste, is it necessary to first shoot to much chemicals DIRECTLY IN MY FACE WITH A NEEDLE that my gum swells twice its size, followed by extraction of the tooth by tongs you might find in a carpenter’s workbox? I ask you, is it really?

If it is, I suppose I should be complaining about the two minutes it took –literally, counting the two lunch (HA HA) breaks we had in between. “I pull one of these every five years or so,” she mentioned over her shoulder, by which she meant a tooth with a root this freakishly huge. It looked somewhat like one of those mechanical claws you see at fairs, used to win you a teddy (or not) from a machine. Total size: about half the length of your pinky.

And get this. Tell me if it is “normal” then, if afterward, I can blow on my thumb and I can feel the air bubble through the hole (which now resembles the Vesuvius post-apeshit) into my sinuses. I am not kidding; that’s how big this tooth was. I am calling that demon again tomorrow and tell her this, knowing I will regret it when I’m under the knife of another hellspawn with a Latin name for a job.

 

 

So yeah. Accepting a nine-to-five job and going back to school immediately after is bound to have some repercussions for a nine-to-five job-hating, school-o-phobic like myself. Set aside the fact that, in principle, I passionately detest both, I haven’t bothered with either for half a decade.

Almost on the day six years ago, I quit the army and with it, any regularity to dictate my actions. Ever since, I’ve lived day to day and grew accustomed to it almost instantly. So now that I only work for what feels like half shifts, I’m stuck at home wondering what to do with my evening- Hell I’m not used to coming home before two in the morning. I’m also not used to working five consecutive days a week, what a drag that’s turning out to be. I always got a sour taste in my mouth when I heard the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday”, and now I’m counting the days to the next weekend. Blah.

But! The pay’s good. I make the same as my bosses, and if you divide that by the amount of time they work a day, I actually make more per hour. That’s hilarious.
All this will change soon, when I’m sent, quite literally, back to the drawing board. I quickly did the math and it turns out I get little more than €700 per month unemployment income (when subscribed, which I rarely am). While this is more than the average I make when working (oh the irony), it might be a little tricky getting used to that- and the fact that I don’t have anything to fall back on. If the school required any large expenses, I’ll be pretty fucked for months to come.

 

 

(DATED POST)

At this moment, my body is fighting a drug that cost me about €5, and I am taking three times a day. And it’s one tough fight, I can tell you.

A couple years ago, I chipped a tooth on my breakfast. Chipped perhaps isn’t the right word- It literally broke in half. What is left is hollow, and has its nerve in the open. A year later, the exact same thing happened on the other side. I’m not sure what caused it exactly, it might have been my wisdom teeth putting too much pressure or simply a flaw in their shape. I didn’t really care. As long as I didn’t bite down on anything hard with them, they gave me no trouble.

Until recently, that is. One morning I woke up, with an annoying pain in my jaw. I thought it would just disappear over time as random pains tend to, but it got worse until, around noon, I started asking around for painkillers. After no less than eleven years, I made an appointment with a dentist again and spent the next two-three days on heavy painkillers. The pain subsided after that, but instead the bastard started to infect. The dentist prescribed me an antibiotic to take away the swelling before pulling the tooth in question, because you can’t anaesthetize an infection. Those pills kept me in a semi-state of life for the next couple of days, making work an utter hell.

I then proceeded to miss my appointment, after which the swelling returned with a vengeance. After twenty-four hours, I began to look like Quasimodo with a tumor, deformed in the face with a swollen, hard, sore jaw. Again, I was told to take pills, and although they took their time, they seem to work. I will spare you the details but trust me, infections are nasty as hell. They leave an open wound when they go away, completing the pretty disgusting state you’re in for about a week or so.

I hate doctors. I hate medication. I hate dentists. If I could have it my way, they can knock out all my teeth and screw fakes in there (perhaps with some decorative finish). There, end of fucking misery. Painlessly, please.

So next Wednesday, when my face looks somewhat symmetrical again, I’m going back there to have the bugger pulled. “The rest looks pretty much in order,” I was told, but considering the average dental hygiene of my stage-building colleagues (not pointing any fingers), I’m not sure what’s the reference there. My sugar addiction probably left my bone structure looking like Swiss cheese. I’m trying to cut back, but fuck man, they put it in everything. Sugar in our breakfast, sugar in our lunch, sugar for dinner. From coke to orange juice, you’ll have to turn to water if you want to find something unsweetened. And never drinking anything carbonated or alcoholic, I can safely say I have water coming out my fucking ears.

It’s society’s fault, I tell you!


Beast of Burden

Haven’t written in a while. Just didn’t feel like it.

I’m not going into how I’ve been in a knot with myself again lately, because frankly I don’t want to. I try to be accurate about my state of mind in my posts but jesus fuck, we’ve been over and over this before (A Perfect Circle, anyone?) and I’m beginning to bore myself. Suffice to say that I haven’t spent as much time with loved ones as I should have, and somehow I let some whiny, emo mood sneak up on me. Takes for-fucking-ever to get out of that kind of dumbshit rut and in the mean time, I’m just wasting perfectly good potential. Nuff said.

 

 

A non-profit organization that I’ve been doing shitloads of voluntary work for, is moving to a new location and want to hire me for a month to assist them with renovations. Painting, painting, furniture construction and some painting. I’m actually flattered that they called little old me for this, I guess it shows they deem me valuable enough to hire spontaneously.

Sacrifices will have to be made (Leonard Cohen was coming to Gent damnit) but it’s a good pay and in all honesty, it’s such a relief to be working at a normal pace for once, for someone else than republic government-sponsoring multinational companies. It’s why I enjoy voluntary work to begin with.

This is the closest I’ve been to a “real” job in over five years. Irony demands that the building is smack next to my very first employer when I was still a kid: GIA Cataro. Anyone who knows this company will feel the hairs in their neck rise when they hear its name, because this is the single worst company in Europe and surroundings you could be hired by. It actually says, “ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTERS HERE” above the main gate.
GIA Cataro does industrial cleaning. The most gruesome, filthy, terrible jobs you can imagine, literally exhausting on physical, mental and emotional level. I spent entire nights, until the sun came up, crawling through machines, scooping up excess grease with a palette knife. I shoveled industrial waste from a conveyor above my head that I couldn’t see, while sparks from welders above me burned through my gloves and skin. “An assault on all senses”, describes perfectly what they should put in their job description.

It wasn’t the work that made me quit, oh no. Because it pays fortunes, and I survived three months off the money I made in one. It was the employer, who doesn’t give a single shit about his employees. It didn’t matter if we worked, we had to look busy. When I tried to point out the lack of common sense in this, I was told to can it. You don’t tell an eighteen year old white kid to shut up; it won’t work. Especially not this one. On top of the fact that I absolutely sucked at what I did and didn’t give a single flying fuck about getting any better, made them decide that they were happier hiring another illegal immigrant. And I couldn’t agree more.

Now that I have found my dream job and am actually taking a spring break from it in favor of another dream job, I look at the Cataro offices with a genuine smile every morning. I got my revenge for the way I was treated simply by finding something better. I can’t imagine where I would be if they let me stay. Dead, probably, and I’m not even kidding.

I often pass them by, those workers. They start earlier than I do and finish later, but every once in a while I see someone leave the main building, possibly after getting verbally abused and fired. They look… tired. Exhausted. And I feel for them, because possibly, they might think that this job is all they have, just like I once did. That there are no alternatives.
I couldn’t possibly be happier that I found mine. To me, it is so essential that I enjoy what I do, that I would have gone crazy in there. As long as the money lasted me, was also how long it took for me to recover. It’s hard to describe how much I’ve changed since, all because they were so generous to throw me on the street. When I see their grey faces behind the windows, I now give them my warmest, happiest smile, hoping (against all odds) that they will recognize me.

 

 

I wouldn’t qualify. I don’t fit in school. I could think of dozens of reasons not to try what I recently did, and in fact, I have before. Every year, some company called “the piano factory” (hell if I know if they actually produce piano’s) organizes courses for “assistant stage technician”. I don’t know who they really are, let alone what they’re trying to achieve. Make money? Streamline showbiz to sell more piano’s? Fuck if I know.

What I do know is that their courses are considered among the best of the country, which in turn has a standing worldwide reputation. Out of two hundred candidates each year, eighteen are selected.
Hence my hesitation when my colleague mentioned over his shoulder that he would subscribe, and suggested I do the same. It all just seems to be over my head, you know? I don’t have any degree or diploma, and while I can find ways to make myself useful, on paper I can’t really do a single thing. Flightcase pushing isn’t exactly an acquired skill, and I don’t have a useful degree for my years of experience driving forklifts, operating cherry pickers or building scaffolding. On the labor market, I am nothing. Hardly material to beat one-in-ten odds, I would think.

But, I gave it an honest shot. Since I have technically been unemployed for the past six years, the unemployment office of whatever they call themselves, offered to pay for the course, and through them I got my paws on the right papers.
Among the things to fill in was “why”. Why me? What is my motivation?

It might not seem that way, but I did want to get in. I learned all I can learn on the job now, and this seemed like the logical next step. It could enable me to one day start on my own, and maybe start as a freelancer, combined with other work like photography. It would open opportunities, and would instantly give me something solid to fall back on when I switch jobs. I would be a leap forward, literally more than I ever accomplished in twenty-five years.

So that’s what I told them. I missed my appointment by about twenty-four hours, which they seemed quite unimpressed with, but I think I came across as fairly motivated and ready to endure the long days in a classroom, because there’s a lot of theory to catch up on. My practical tests went smooth as butter (as should be expected from five and a half years of experience as a stagehand) and I was told they would “let me know”. Both my colleague and myself spent the next few days in suspense.

I got selected.

I just went and got selected, considered a better candidate than the men in suits I shared the waiting room with (I came straight from work and sat there dirty and hardly dressed for the occasion). Both my colleague and myself got in, and classes will commence in September. In two months, everything will change, and in a good year from now, I will be an “assistant stage technician” with decent training in sound, light, electrics, recording, and fuck knows what else.

Make no mistake, I will do this. I accomplished this without the slightest bit of help from anyone at all, and I will see it through to the very end. This is my thing and I’ll be damned long before I let myself down after beating the odds like this.

More later. Bored again.


Lift Off

Times are a’changin’ and everybody’s feelin’ it.
The worlds that make up my life are shifting, from my job to critical choices made by close friends. It’s fascinating to watch, but at the same time inspiring. I think it’s time for some change. In fact, I think I’m overdue- not that I mind.

It’s ironic in a sense, since drastic change is pretty much what my whole little life is built on. From downtown squats to the army and from the dungeons of SIDMAR to the skies of Werchter; hell even my social life is laced with controversy. And here I am, thinking it’s time for a little change.

What I have in mind most of all, are career choices that urgently need to be made. Urgently, in the sense that I’m slowly beginning to push on thirty and I have no plan with my life. If you think you don’t know what your future might turn out as, imagine a case where you never even bothered to worry about it- until today.

I have a number of ideas playing in my head. They are rough sketches and I may proceed with them, I may not. At this point however, I really would like to, but bear in mind, I’ve never studied for any of this. This is what I would like to do if I could have it my way, but the odds of things falling into place as I would like them, is scarce at best.

Boo hoo.
Sucking it up:

  1. The Crew Chief option. This is actually what has been playing in my mind for around three years now, and what I’ve been promising my employer to do. “Get a driver’s license, and the door to crew chief-ness is open.” And I said that I would, just… Not right now. Too many things to do first, places to see, people to do. I didn’t want to get tied down too much, still don’t.
  2. My own way. I am in the process of enlisting for a course that’s supposed to be a pretty big deal. Out of around two hundred interested, only twenty get selected to do the course. The plan is to be one of them, or, another such group. The idea is to learn “Stage technics”, which boils down to the basics like live sound, light, studio recording, electricity and all that. I pretty much learned all I can from my current job and it’s starting to become less of a challenge, so I feel ready to grow further. What could be an option later on is to get my own sound/light equipment, and start a small business on my own doing parties and such.
    Good thing about this idea is that it can grow progressively; I can start with the absolute basics and when more is required, I can rent it or, if funds allow, buy and expand. There’s no reason why I would get into serious financial trouble as long as I keep my expenses modest- small amounts of equipment at a time.
  3. Photography. Yes, I am still serious about it. More accurately, event photography. I’m beginning to think more and more, that I have what it takes to become good enough to ask decent amounts of money for my work. No time soon, mind you, but soon enough. For a couple days’ work, I can collect enough to take the next step in this plan, which is a new body/lens/flash/tripod/whatever and grow further as a photographer. Again, this process doesn’t take insane funds and given enough patience, I can get by without big-ass loans. Once I have the basics, I may even be able to keep some cash.

The more insightful among you might notice that all three could be combined, relatively easily even. Photography won’t take up more than a few days per month (I expect), so I can mainly focus on getting my driver’s license and build from there. Getting that degree and starting as crew chief won’t be compatible, but don’t necessarily need to be.

So the whole tree leads back to that single cocksucker of an issue: A driver’s license. Not looking forward to that, I must say. I failed my theoretical exam once already and though I told myself to try again right away, I postponed it a couple days. I was twenty-two then. I’ll get to it.

I was explaining all this to my father the other day. Him and I never got along very well; I blame him of being a worse father than I am a son, and that’s saying a damn lot. Needless to say (but still said), my surprise when he voiced his support was great. Not that he ever broke my ideas down, but he never really seemed to care.
Surprised as I was, my jaw dropped completely when he offered to support me financially. My father is much like me in that sense: Broke. He doesn’t have the money any more than I do, but still wants to cough it up under one condition: that I am going to spend it on the lens I had been so excitedly talking about. €800, on the table in front of me. Just to get me going. I literally didn’t know what to say.

So, I thanked him. Repeatedly. Opportunist that I am, I accepted the money and will spend it as promised: on the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens, a jewel of a piece and the logical next step after my “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8. A lot of things like external flash and tripod will have to follow after that, but I kept that silent in the awkward kind of gratitude that follows such a gift.

While it never really held me back before, the unexpected support of my family is a welcome one. It gives a confidence boost that shouldn’t be underestimated.

 

 

With what I assume to be an unusual lifestyle like mine, going from one temporary situation to the next, it is frighteningly easy to lose yourself in hello’s and goodbyes. Couchsurfers, colleagues, acquaintances, volunteers. So many people that I once connected with, and got to know well in some cases, I will never see again. Because they are on the other side of the world, literally or figuratively.
I’ve always had a kind of puppy complex that tears my heart out every single time I have to say goodbye. That is, in part, because I put much effort into adjusting to them. A vague term, I know; and maybe just another one for saying that I easily grow to love people near me.

I miss the theater group. There, I said it. I miss being part of the project, I miss being greeted with a genuine smile every day. I miss the interest I had in all of them.
Nicely on cue, “normal” work is picking up (I’m writing this between three shifts rather than sleeping) and I’m surrounded by familiar faces again. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. It may be a little tough to get into the routine again but I’m eagerly awaiting a busy summer.

In short: I’m hitting that “black hole” after an intense experience, that the actors frequently spoke of but I never really worried about. I didn’t think it would be this bad. Seriously, if I had it like this every time I see people come and go, I’d be far less motivated to get around them to begin with.
So! What’s the perfect cure for nothingness? Somethingness!

Norway: My home away from home. On the seventh, four of us macho troupe are going macho hiking in the macho cold and mountains for ten-ish days. Fuck yeah.
They’re the same people I walked across Scotland with exactly one year ago, it’s something we’re planning on doing on a yearly basis. This time, I hope to be better capable of keeping up physically, so finger crossed on that one.

I wish I could casually say that we’ll be able to waltz in and out and get a couple nice snapshots on the way. Truth is however, that I’m not as confident. We did a bit of calculating and we’re counting on 12-14 kilo of equipment each, which is roughly the same weight that made me limp for a full month last time around. And that was considered hilly terrain, as opposed to mountainous which we are facing now. We’ve brought back the pace a little, but I’m still in doubt whether we’ll make it- or to put it better: whether I will make it.

I haven’t put much effort into packing yet, but I should get to it. Toothbrush, socks, the usual. Oh and shorts for the night because it’s minus six fucking degrees there as we speak. Boo hoo we’re all going to die.

So yah. Fingers crossed and knees well oiled. Wish me luck!

 

 

What kind of freak of a Belgian doesn’t drink alcohol, anyway? We have beer for tap water and all I drink is orange juice, which by the way is coming out my fucking ears.

I can count the number of people that I know who don’t drink alcohol, on one hand; and that is after two friends of mine quit recently. Kudos to them; noticing that society’s liquid equivalent for fun at a party is a bad influence in your life takes a sharp mind and healthy self-awareness. Because what is sure as hell won’t include, is understanding of others. And, I have to admit, I too had the initial reaction of, “Really? Why?”

I’m a big fan of the word “Why,” and even more of the combination “Why not.” I think I’ll look up if there’s a facebook fan page on both of these.
But when it comes to the decision of not drinking alcohol, the dumbshit question of “Why not?” is probably even more misplaced than when pregnancy is involved. Drinking yourself into a stupor is dead normal, but not doing so requires a valid and very interesting reason behind it. Not that every “drinker” does it to get drunk, but you wouldn’t ask him why, regardless.
When I am offered a beer, which is roughly seven times per twenty minutes, I respectfully refuse. No, thanks. I don’t mention that I don’t drink, because the surprised face and awkward question that I can say along by now will be inevitable. Still, I have yet to come up with a method to keep others from pointing at me saying “He doesn’t drink alcohol.”

So why, then?
I don’t really have a reason not to drink alcohol, to be honest. I just don’t have a reason to drink alcohol, either, and since it tastes quite disgusting to me, I actually need one to pour that piss down my throat. Back when I was a kid, I was told I would “need to learn to drink to enjoy it.” That might be a valid reasoning for others, but not for me- I don’t need to like a damn thing, thank you. So, I never learned, and beer still tastes like a detergent-and-sand mixture with gas in it. Have I mentioned that I don’t drink anything carbonated, either? It hurts my throat.

I’m sorry, alright? I seriously don’t give a crap about single, double and triple distilled beers, red white or pink wine, cocktails, combo’s… It just doesn’t excite me. And while I could use some social lubricant from time to time, it just doesn’t seem worth it.