Three Meals and a Son

A bowl of porridge, plate of Thai noodles and steak meal dinner have never proven so challenging before… I came out the other end smiling last night, forgetting to make a toast to the first 3 meal day I’ve had since April.

If it sounds like a bit dramatic, it’s not, and I’ll explain why.

I have recently joined a Social Anxiety social group, and before you cast your doubts and point out the irony, let me point out that social anxiety comes in many shapes and forms. What does this have to do with a 3 meal day? Well, I’m getting there… until you so rudely interrupted (note to self, tell counsellor about interrupting voices in head)…

My social anxiety has basically stopped me from eating porridge.

Well okay, that’s slightly misleading, so I’ll rephrase – My social anxiety has stopped me from cooking porridge, which in turns stops me from eating porridge. When porridge comes pre-cooked on the shelves I’ll be a happy man.

So to me, it was a huge battle won when I stood in the kitchen amongst other occupants, thumbling back and forth, almost forgetting the complex recipe which is 1 cup oaks to 2 cups liquid (milk and water), until the damn thing was cooked. I know it’s hard to relate so I’ve done a little analogy for you to show how it felt for me.

Imagine having to pee into a urinal as a woman, and you’re not alone, and there’re no partitions. (I was going to google a funny image here, but no.)

That was how it feels for me, and I deserve a fucking medal for it for enduring the 10 minutes of social anxiety!

Didnt finish my vegetables

Didn't finish my vegetables

The Thai lunch was the easiest of the 3 challenges yesterday – having only to go through a menu not knowing how to pronounce a single item on it. I did learn however, that’s why they put numbers next to every dish. And now you know.

Then came the steak dinner at my favourite Cafe Rouge. I walked in failing to notice the significance of the journey, already 2/3 ways through my 3 meal day. I ordered an 8oz steak with fries and ate along-side my vegetarian friend (I’m burning in hell I’m sure, but I’ll be damn tasty). I was recommended to best enjoy it rare, not by the waitress (who was pretty clueless because as she explained, she’s new), but by the menu. The only thing sadder than being told how to eat my food by an in-animated object is probably listening to said in-animated object.

As if God or some higher power was putting me to the test, saying “Stan, you do know this is the first 3 meal day you’ve had in many moons? You sure as hell are going to work for it.” I stuggled with the steak knife to carve through the stubborn meat into small pieces, and it took a marathon of chewing before I was able to swallow, before starting on the next piece. I’ve been thinking about going vegetarian for months, this may just be the push I needed…

So I’m sure you’d agree, that was a hard day for me, and as if it wasn’t traumatic enough, I had to complain to my cousin this morning for turning my imaginary son into a geek.

TWKM knows that I have unusual dreams, and last night I had a son. Apparently I was divorced and my teenage son was visiting from uni to ask for advice on what computer parts to get. He showed me this table written in Chinese (after a few seconds of pondering, I announced proudly “Oh I see, this is in Chinese!”) that he’d conducted after consulting my cousin on the current technology. Trying to sound wise I brought up the concept of diminishing returns in the price vs CPU power before telling him “Just listen to your uncle.”

I may not have been there for him most of his imaginary life, but I was a damn proud for those brief moments we had together, knowing that he respected my cousin’s opinions, who shares the odd gene or two with me.

Life’s 138 Mysteries

Despite being desperately single, I am for some reason in possession of a king size duvet (I think, or queen size, I don’t know). Photo evidences contradict theories that I bear the circumference that requires the additional coverage. However experiences have though me that a bachelor can really benefit a great deal from sleeping beneath a big duvet. Let my explain through the following very simple equation:

∵ duvet width = duvet height

rotated duvet ≠ exposed cold feet

Having awaken 5 days in a row feeling the bottom of the duvet on my left hand, indicating that the duvet has made a full 90 degrees rotation anti-clockwise, I decided that the world needs to know. And hence came the birth of the Life’s 138 Mysteries page. Read it an make suggestions, I implore you. Together we might be able to expose all of Life’s Mysteries, and perhaps publishing a book to warn future generations!

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A week in review

A week ago I was sitting bored in front of my computer watching youtube videos. Today, I have a twitter account, a blog, a video camera, and 10 new developing friendships. Not bad for a week’s work! And to think this time a month ago I was curled underneath my duvet wondering where my life was heading. It’s been an emotional week.

I have to thank my friends for being there for me, you know who you are! Thanks for being there in my time of needs, it’s good to be reminded that I’m not alone (in more ways than one). Also my colleagues and manager have given me infinity patience, understanding and support throughout this difficult time. Thank you.

What surprised me though were the new friends I’ve made over the past few months. Again, you guys know who you are (I hope), and you’ve given me a new perspective on life in various ways. You made me realise that strangers really are just friends I haven’t met yet; you inspired me to believe in myself again, motivated me to pursue my dreams.

So, let’s have a run down of the challenges I’ve set myself and how I’ve done:

  1. Blog regularly – check
  2. Become a film maker – got a video camera
  3. Learn to Drum – recorded myself playing drums on guitar heroes to study my techniques
  4. Learn Sign Language – learn a few british cuss words in sign language (don’t ask)
  5. Take more photos – was going to 4am Project but didn’t, naughty…
  6. Talk to people at parties – not been to a party yet, but going to one this Friday
  7. Go to soical meetups – attended 2 social group meetings in the past week
  8. Improve my diet – bought scale to weigh myself
  9. Watch more films at the cinema – 3 films so far this month, reviewed 2 (one on facebook)
  10. Talk to my friend’s friends – spoke to 1 new person on facebook, agreed to meet in person at some point
  11. Answer random ads on gumtree / similar site and post results – answered 3 ads so far
  12. Diversify my music habits – listened to 3 new albums, reviewed 1
  13. Go on dates with women – nothing yet
  14. Speak to people in real life / phone more – agreed on meeting 2 “new friends” in person, also went out to dinner with 1 new friend

Not bad considering I did practically zippo the month prior.

Other interesting facts about the week:

  • Ate 48 packs of Quavers
  • Discovered “Paper 1.0” is the most energy efficient netbook.
  • Decided to get hamsters for pets next
  • Wrote about myself in 3rd person for about page, really enjoyed it.
  • Updated profile on match.com based on “About” page bio.
  • Found new place to live
  • Discovered Cute Overload
  • Recorded video of myself talking rubbish into camera, and showing it to online friends who have never met me before.
  • Passed Everlong on Expert Drums on Guitar Hero
  • Had a dream about a new trent around the world – cracked windows and mirrors, witnessed rampage in shopping centre. Meanwhile was trying to contain an epidemic of “glass cut zombies”, with a subplot about something else which I’d forgotten.
  • Got retweeted by @postsecret on twitter, and then many others as a result on my #lifeequation

So going back to the question I asked myself a week ago – what the hell am I gonna use this blog for? I’ve figured it out. It’s a blatant rip off of scribbleboy, but I don’t care because it’s a good idea. My blog will be about challenges I’ve set myself to better myself, and my own future.

You will notice under “Categories” there’re numbered items – they’re my challenges basically, to help track progress. So if I look like I’m falling behind on some, let me know!

So that’s why it belongs in the bathroom…

Bought an electronic scale that can withstand 180kg from Wilkinsons on way home this morning. Thought I’d test it out in my room, which read 14kg. Ok, I’m not dietician but that didn’t sound right. After some complex trigonometry and algebra later I hit upon this:

Carpet + Scale = Stupidity

I was quick to try it out in the bathroom, not impressed with the result…

7st 13.6lb

Sophie Hunger – Monday’s Ghost

Stylish black and white photo = me checking out track list

Stylish black and white photo = me checking out track list

After playing Toxicity again on my computer during freeboprich‘s last visit he remembered to “recommend” me some new music. Apparently our last.fm compatibility went from “low” to “very high” over night.

Amongst the long list of artists he’s suggested was Sophie Hunger which I finally decided to have a listen to properly today.

Ok, I have to admit it, I’m very visually bias when it comes to music. I’m a visual person. Slap a slapper on a CD cover and chances of me listening is next to none. Stick an indie looking girl or pretty colours on the front and I’d pause at HMV and look at the track list. Not that I’d ever figured out why I do it, it’s not like I can tell what the songs are like by the titles.

Anyway, here I was chilling out after another random video and finally decided I need to take up the music challenge seriously while re-jigging the blog. I love how I was building the music challenge page while I was completely the music challenge.

Now I’m not a music reviewer, I’m not a musical person. The extend of my music review in the past has ranged from “I like” to “I don’t like”. Still, if I have to try, I’ll class this as soft folk. Her voice is soft and mellow, which doesn’t quite compare to the energy I feel when miming to Amy MacDonald’s This is the Life. But soft folk has soft folk music’s place in my quiet Saturday afternoons, I probably wouldn’t be writing or reading very successfully singing along to Let’s Start a Band.

Wait, am I reviewing Sophie Hunger or Amy MacDonald?

Bottom-line: beautiful voice and accoustics not to be distracted by important things like writing or bluetube

7/10

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Film Review: Looking for Eric

Looking for Eric Poster

Funny how things turns out. I had an early appointment on the 8th June, which was a direct result of missing a prior appointment back in May. The morning appointment meant I was able to pick up a copy of the Metro, which featured an interview with Mr Cantona, the man himself.

Now I use the term “The Man Himself” loosely. You see, TWKM knows that I’m no football fan. My ex-housemate Imran will attest to that, after I happily swapped seats with him to back the TV at an England match in the pub once. However, TWK Eric Cantona, probably knows him AS the Man himself. Fair do’s, and for all intended purposes, he is the man in the film I’m about to review.

Of course the interview was about the then upcoming film Looking for Eric, which was the second choice for last night’s impulse film going. Imran wasn’t manly enough to enjoy 2 hours of big robots and giant explosions, and as it turns out, that was actually a good thing.

So what the hell is the film about? Synopsis goes something like this:

Eric the postman is slipping through his own fingers…

His wife has gone, his stepsons are out of control and the house was chaotic even before a cement mixer appeared in the front garden. Life is crazy enough, but it is Eric’s own secret that is driving him to the brink. <spoiler>How can he face up to Lily, the woman of his dreams that he once loved and walked out on many years ago? </spoiler> Despite the comical efforts and misplaced goodwill of his mates, Eric continues to sink.

In desperate times it takes a spliff and a special friend to help a lost postman find his way, so Eric turns to his hero: footballing genius, philosopher and poster boy, Eric Cantona.

As a certain Frenchman says “He who is afraid to throw the dice, will never throw a six.”

Looking for Eric is a British feel good movie, you remember those don’t you? Films that narrates through real life drama and struggles of the average person, carried by an ongoing theme, textured by essence of the local city and era the story is based upon:

  • The Full Monty – 5 Steel workers turn to a striptease act for money against the backdrop of 1970s City of Steel
  • Brassed Off – A brass band’s struggle to their pit’s closure set in South Yorkshire
  • Billy Eliott – A young boy’s dream to becoming a dancer against all odds during the miner’s strike in the 80s
  • Son of Rambow2 young boys’ attempt to remake Rambo during the summer of 1983
  • Looking for Eric – A postman’s seeking advice from his footballer hero as his troubled past and present came knocking down the door of his Manchester home.

… to name a few. And that’s the beauty of British feel good movies, it tackles real problems, following real people, and not forgetting that the world carries on around them even when they’re stuck in their spot.

Eric Bishop

Eric Bishop - scruffy and knows it

Eric Bishop is an instantly recognisable figure on the streets. He’s scruffy, he’s obviously past his sell by date, and he’s crying like a drunken old man on a hospital bed apologising and babbling “I can’t be late for work”. Sympathy is the first emotion triggered in me – Eric is a somber man with a bleak future, he’s the guy you probably wouldn’t want to sit next to on the bus (maybe I’m being overly harsh here). But the thing is, he knows how you see him, and instantly he becomes more than that weirdo on the bus – he’s human.

Soon we explore Eric’s world, his colleagues are his friends and they love the old bastard. Fail as they might, they all try to figure out what the hell is wrong with the man they used to know and cheering him up. He has two step-sons under his roof, with uninvited friends trolling his hallway, all ignoring his loud and angry gestures of discontentment. This is where Sympathy turns into Empathy I guess, through Eric’s eyes, it’s easy to relate to why he feels the way he feels. He’s not just a lonely man hiding in a bedsit, drinking his problems away. He’s a sober, hard working postman with two teenagers to support, whom have turned his home into a TV warehouse.

You think you’ve pretty much sussed out what’s wrong with the guy, and where his troubles stemmed. You couldn’t be further from the truth. Amongst the chaos of the world Eric lives in, he’s being burdened by a haunting memory from his past, and his idol Eric Cantona implores him to confront it over a spliff as he stood over Eric’s trunk in the bedroom.

From here, the film continues to explore the adoration and idealisation Eric holds for Cantona, mixed in with many cheeky banters between the Man.U fan and the French speaker. From the recollection of the best goals of the legend’s career, to the banters of the “old school” fans with the modern “Sponsored T-Shirt” fans. Even a non-football fan like myself can quickly relate to the obsessions that the true fans hold dear to. It’s not just about the team, it’s about the legends, principles and most of all, the game.

Eric and Eric Cantona

Meet Eric, and Eric

As we follow Eric’s imaginary conversations with his hero, we see him confronting his inner demons, he finally lets his guard down and let his emotions go. Eric has evolved into this tragic hero from the 80s who had always had the good heart and intension. His core person is still there, but his past problems had built up this wall brick by brick to stop him from facing the real world. Yet he had just put on a brave face and fought on over the years, loving his two step-sons by action not by expressions.

As we finally get to understand the guy, along with the characters in the story, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. The film makers would probably have called it wrap right here, and it would have been a great journey. But no, Eric has more problems to face, and that’s exactly what live throws at you, constantly. Can the new Eric really deal with the new troubles bubbling from right  beneath his feet? Or will the new Eric crumple under the sheer weight of the chaos that is out of his control? You’ll have to see it for yourself :)

Bottom-line: A film that really explores what happens when things are left unsaid. Overall very realistic besides the few rather cheesy moments that still put a smile on your face.

8/10

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4am Project

Came across 4am Project on Facebook last week. A serious challenge considering I live in Kings Heath and my main mode of transport is the bus or the Number 11 (somehow I feel the reference would be lost in Birmingham and thus the need to link it).

A friend once said the point of photography is to capture what you wouldn’t normally see. I figured 4am Birmingham is not the usual scene for the casual citizen of the West Midlands, and those who straddle the streets at such hours probably couldn’t afford enough attention to remember the next morning. So now a group of us will give photo evidences that “Yes, Birmingham does in fact exist beyond the confine of conscious hours of our daily lives!”

Haven’t fully established how I’d get there yet since the first bus doesn’t run till after the meeting’s over. A friend from Moseley has offered a lift if she’s not too tired from a photo shoot the night before. If not, I’ll be putting these bad boys on and hope my GPS doesn’t fail me.

Probably gonna bring the tripod for some long exposures as well. Will post results!

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