(Oh, the sarcasm!) Tales and writings from an awkward twentysomethingyearold.

Over the past week, I’ve spent a large portion of my time standing behind a till, working for the small corner-store, Spar- and it’s been an amazing experience. I don’t mean that in a, ‘Oh shit, my boss might be reading’ sense- the shop has a fantastically friendly working atmosphere, to the point that I genuinely enjoy going in and spending my time there. There are certain things a person picks up by standing behind a till for six hours at a time, though, and I want to share them with you.

1. People seem to think shop-keeps are inanimate- and maybe we are. I’ve been noticing this as the week goes on. People tend to look at you, and treat you, as if you’re not really there, as if you’re just an extension of the shop- and maybe, while you’re in work, that’s what you become. You are, in essence, just a barrier put in by the shop to stand between the customer and the thing they want. In being this, people forget you are a human being- and this leads on to,

2. People think you’re deaf. Something about working behind a till seems to make people think that you are incapable of hearing them. They’re very happy to talk away about the most deep and intimate things to their friends while you’re standing right in front of them- toilet routines, sexual encounters, and, very frighteningly-

3. Domestic abuse is a shockingly pervasive phenomenon, and not just for women. I was standing, as ever, behind my till, and, (being the nosey human being that I am), was listening to a conversation two of the customers were having. (Well, when I say nosey, they weren’t really making any effort to conceal what they were saying). It was between a man and a woman, and they were discussing how a male friend of theirs had been beaten by his girlfriend, and the things she had been doing, and how he had tried to defend her. Conversations like this seem to happen a lot- and it’s terrifying. This kind of abuse seems to be rampant- and that’s unacceptable. Patrick Stewart’s video about domestic abuse, (while focusing on the more-reported phenomenon of abuse of women), has been making the rounds recently, so I’m including it here- give it a watch.

 

 

4. On a lighter note, it’s amazing how many people win the lottery, and scratch cards. You would be surprised- apparently, they’re not all nonsense!

5. People are all very similar. When you come in contact with hundreds of people a day, you start to see the similarities between them all. Of course, there are wild differences in personality, in attitude, and all of that- but, really, you notice, (or you do if you talk to them like I do), that everyone’s just trying to be happy, and trying to get by. Which is a nice thing, really. I’ve known this for a while, and I’ve probably talked about it before, but when you’re confronted with a steady stream of people, it becomes more and more apparent. We’re all wonderfully, wonderfully alive out here.

That’s me for this week! I’m going to get back to the new task that’s absorbing all of my attention; knitting. I am honestly the coolest person I know.

As ever, if you have any cool stories, send them to me at jol20@aber.ac.uk,
Hope you’ve had an awesome weekend,
I’m a cool person,
Jordan.

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So, it’s been a while. Two, three weeks, maybe? Sorry about that, revision and all that jazz, priorities are key! Or they’re supposed to be. I wish someone would explain this to the vast amount of money I’ve spent this year on chocolate instead of real food. Oh well! It’s time I got back into the swing of this whole ‘blogging’ endeavour, and so I would like to present- well, me.

It’s been a really great few weeks, in spite of the heavy work-load. For the first time in my life, I managed to get more revision done than I intended, being as ready as I could be for the exam two days before it- that’s a personal best for me. (It felt even better, knowing that my flatmate was only starting just a day or two before hand). The exam itself was horrifying- some of the worst questions I’ve ever seen- but I’m quite proud of my revision effort, and of not falling into the same trap of stress as I did this time last year.

I think one of the things that saved me from this, alongside my new-found job, a 9am wake-up routine, and ridiculous amounts of energy drink, has been the fantastic insight of the now-deceased Anglo-American philosopher and Buddhist, Alan Watts. He’s one of those people I wish I’d heard of before now. A late night stumble on StumpleUpon, (which is an insanely wonderful app, aside from its habit of bringing up porn at incredibly inappropriate moments), rolled me on to the attached video, which led to hours of trailing around and listening to all I could. This man is a powerhouse of insight, and, honestly, I encourage you all to give him a listen.

I think one of his lectures may have saved my degree, and my sanity. It’s a simple idea, really- he says that, in order to have more control and power in our lives, we simply have to give up trying to control everything. He explains that we can’t control all of the things we want, such as how people will treat us, or who we will be friends with, or the myriad of other things that humans desperately try to control- and that the harder we grip these things, the more of our time and energy we give to them in vain. By surrendering, by saying, ‘I can’t control this, and so I trust it to do what it should’, we give ourselves immense power. He uses an apt metaphor- the president cannot control the actions of every single member of his staff; he has to trust their wisdom and their sense of what is right. If he doesn’t, he’ll stay awake all night worrying- and still won’t be able to do anything. Mr Watts pushes that we should just learn to trust ourselves, and trust life to do what it should.

I’ve been pushing to do this since I first stumbled on his lecture. Any time I notice myself getting annoyed or upset or, most often in the last week, stressed out of my mind, I simply take a step back and say, ‘I can’t control the outcome of this exam, or this person, or any of this stuff I’m grasping at. I’m going to step back, do the best to fulfil any obligations or needs on my side, and trust that life will do what needs to be done.’ It may seem crazy- but my Gods do I feel empowered. Not only empowered, but liberated, and, just happy. In that really nice, always there, always sitting about way, rather than in the sporadic outbursts of happiness that I’m prone too.

I encourage you all to give him a view. There’s a few good pieces up on Youtube; I’ve included one that’s a couple of minutes long, but there are others- I’ve included a link to a particularly excellent guided meditation, for any who feel inclined in that way!

And a meditation; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPpUNAFHgxM

I hope you’re all having an amazing weekend,

If anyone has anything interesting to share with me, my email is, as ever, jol20@aber.ac.uk,

I’m a cool person,
Jordan.

I miss you.

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There are so many moments of life that I miss. So many people who have come and gone, that have left such an influence, that I still feel them wobbling around in there, making their mark. It’s been floating through my head a lot over this past week, in a good way- I’ve been quite content to bathe in a stream of nostalgia. Of course, it bites a little- there’s always that tinge of regret, or that hint of sadness at loss. Happiness wins out over it though. I had so many ideas of what to write about this week; political tousles, philosophical ramblings, my enjoyment of food and the sunshine, climbing up a hill and standing naked with a close friend, declaring ourselves kings of Aberystwyth- but I want to take this week, just to thank some of the people that have passed out of my life, that have left such a lasting effect. (Public declarations are always wonderfully fun.)

 

    • To my grandfather; I don’t know how long it’s been since you passed on. A very long time- I think I was doing my GCSE’s. Even after such a passage of time, I still find you in the back of my mind. When I’m down, concerned, confused, or any of the other ridiculous emotions I go through on a daily basis, I often find myself asking, ‘What would you have done? How would you react in this situation?’ While this wondering is hampered by a dulling of the memory, by the passage of time making it harder to call you up in my mind, it’s still there- I still feel the general presence of you in so many of the parts of ‘my’ personality. You left me your very, very irritating sense of humour, your charm in handling strangers, and so, so much more. While I’m not sure you would approve of some of the elements of my life, I can only hope that you would be proud of my accomplishments, as I am proud to be in any tiny way like you

    • To my first love; I guess you’re not really out of my life, are you? You still float about and pop up from time to time- still, all the same. I’ve thanked you before, and I’ll thank you again- you were one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. Before I met you, I floated about, assuming that love was this horrible thing, filled with fighting and mess and, well, that it wasn’t really worth it. You changed that; you educated me, and taught me that I’d never been in love before you. Hell, kid, you helped me to grow up more than so many other people I know. Things didn’t end on the greatest of notes, but we sorted that out, and I’m glad- it’s nice that we’re friends. I don’t think I could’ve got through much of last year if we hadn’t been. All the emotions have numbed, or passed- you have a new boyfriend, and, I don’t think I’ve been happier for someone than I am for you, (although I’m still standing by the, ‘I will murder him if he hurts you, and there is nothing you will be able to do to stop me’ line)- but I just wanted you to know, that, you still sit in my mind, I can still feel some of the things you woke up in me floating around in there. Thank you, so much.

    • To my first group of true friends; The three of you know who you are. Our little group of crazy, knocked together idiots. It was an intensely emotional time- God, we were all only kids after all. You all, for a brief period of time, formed the rock of my world, and taught me how friends should be. How people should be. One of you in particular, my philosophical sparring partner, who hung around the longest- you who I was going on that ill-fated gap year with- you’ve taught me so much. You were a woman-man born in entirely the wrong time, a woman of the finest, kindest, and most fiercely loyal upbringing- and I loved you, with all my heart. I guess we were the last of a dying breed, after all!

 

That is far from being everyone that has had an effect on my life, on my current situation, on who I am. There are so many people that I could thank for what they’ve taught me, or for the love they’ve shown me- these people, though, are people who have left. People with whom something has been lost, or something has changed, (or, in the case of the middle one, with whom things can never really be the same, even if I am comfortable with how they are now). They are people whose influence I feel all the more strongly for their absence. This doesn’t stop me from thanking you all, of course. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- I’m so proud of being a part of this little, silly experiment called life. It’s so great to be growing up around you all, and being able to watch you all develop as people. Thank you, for making my world so wonderful.

I want you to do me a favour. It’s a good one, and it’ll make your day. I want you to take a moment, go out there, and thank someone in your life for what they’ve done for you. Especially those who wouldn’t usually. If you sit down and think of all the people who’ve had a massive influence on your life, and think of the influence you’ve had on other people, it tends to blow you away. So sit down, pick one person, and just tell them how thankful you are for knowing them.

 

I hope that helps you to have an awesome weekend,
As ever, send me a little email on jol20@aber.ac.uk, because fun times and I like stories,
I’m a cool person,

Jordan!

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I often worry that I’m big headed. People accuse me of being arrogant and self-centred quite often, and this worries me a lot, because I genuinely don’t think that I am. I like to spend time analysing my emotions and my motives and my influences, and to question whether I am one thing or another, but quite often, especially lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this notion that I might be big headed. How are you supposed to know, to find this out? How are you supposed to know if you’re doing wrong?

A friend recently attacked me by saying, ‘You know Jordan, we’re adults now, and part of being an adult is that you have to be willing to be proved wrong’. This took me quite by surprise- I am usually more than willing to be proven wrong. I try to make a habit of thinking over situations and arguments, and, if on further reflection I know I’ve put myself in the wrong, to apologise and admit defeat. And yet, this friend must have some grounding for saying this, some justification for accusing me of this stubborn defiance, mustn’t he? I, of course, have to stand by myself in the matter. I don’t think I did anything wrong, and by virtue of human psychology, my psyche rushes to defend itself and construct defences about why I’m in the right. But is that helpful? How fragile must the mind be, if it needs to defend itself from one person making an off comment?

I recently related to a friend that this is one of the happiest periods in my life- and it is. For the first time in my life, I find myself quite content with who I am, with my looks and my personality and my abilities, while still admitting that there is room for improvement, and working to achieve that. One of the natural outcroppings of this is a sense of self-confidence, a big, ‘Yes I can do that, I’m quite good at such and such’. I know where my limits are. Yet, it is always nagging in the back of my mind- am I just full of myself? People whom I have spoken to about this always say no, and yet, it still dwells in my thoughts. If people feel the need to tell me that I’m full of myself, I must be doing something wrong.

Although, having said this, it could just be them. One of the things I’m quite thankful for is that, after spending the entirety of Primary and Secondary school being bullied, (it’s a fun place to be in, being eighteen and still being bullied), my mind has built itself lots of nice little ways to deal with attacks. Of course, I’m aware that I still take insults to heart, but it’s nice that my mind chews them over before spitting them out, and tries to take what it can from rude people. I say rude people, because I don’t like to think of them as bad people, especially the ones that are my friends. I know that I can handle it in the long run, and I know that it’s always healthy to measure yourself and see if you really are doing right.

I don’t think I’m big-headed. I don’t think I’m self-centred, or ‘clingy’, or ‘attention-seeking’, or any of the other labels applied to me. I think that, quite simply, I am myself. I am happy with who I am, I have a healthy amount of self-confidence, and I have a love of spending time with people, especially those I love. And I’m fairly certain that that’s a good thing.

 

I hope you’re having a spectacular weekend.
As ever, send me an email at jol20@aber.ac.uk,
I would love to hear from you (especially if it will help my portfolio.)
I’m a cool person,
Jordan

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Every day that we wake up, we make bold steps in our lives. Whether these are steps backwards or forwards is entirely up to our motivations, decisions and rationing- and for me, this entire week has been a very large step back before a big one forward, and one very long meditation on my position in regards to humanity as a whole. We are all, at times, tested by things that shake our perceptions and beliefs to the core, the result of which either leaves us in a stronger or weaker position than we were previously. I, for all my philosophising, and for all my proclaiming a certainty that humans are all, essentially good, have been forced into a state of rethinking after some news and ALL OF THE DRAMA that has unfolded over the past few weeks.

It’s an unfortunate position to be in, of course, where you are chilled to the bone by the actions of certain people, (and the several different dramas that unfurled around me in the past few weeks have all done a magnificent job of magnifying each other and making everything a bit of a disaster in my head). Even though I am not a major player in any of these dramas, they still, unfortunately, have shattered some former illusions, caused me to look at people, and events, in new lights, and generally made the world seem like a much less nice place overall. That is, until I got over the initial shock, and let myself sit in the corner for a bit to think about things.

Yes, my illusions have been shattered- yes, I have spent a week despondent and generally disenchanted with humanity- and yes, this is a good thing. I attempt, as best I can, to deflect the idea that I’m naïve- and I know I’m not, generally. However, there are, like in all people, little corners of the psyche where we still cling to childish notions and beliefs, and where we still have our little stupidities. One of the things that I could see, and was aware of as a problem, was a ridiculously overly-reliant sentimental attachment to a particular group of people, that caused me both extremes of pleasure, and extremes of pain- and with the commencement of one of these dramas, I was so shaken to the core, that I managed to detach myself- my lovely little brain is finally adjusting itself to my less-than-involved role in the dynamic of a group of friends that it has been ignoring this past while. Another thing that has occurred is that, I have been forced to change my views on a large number of people- I rested easy, previously, by thinking, ‘These people are all entirely good, and would never do anything bad, or stupid, or anything like that.’ The nature of all of the things that have occurred, however, has got rid of this notion, (and now I’m aware of how ridiculous it was).

This of course all sounds quite bad, quite doom and gloom, (or at least it does to me). And perhaps it is, perhaps these new revelations mark the end of an era, an end to a particular kind of innocence- whether that is good, or bad, I guess there isn’t a going back. But, for now, I am happy- happy that I am so acutely aware, at this present moment, of how much I have changed over my life, and how the world has moulded me. And that, I think, is beautiful.

Take a moment, now. Sit down, and think- how did you think four years ago, two years ago, last week? Think about the paths your thoughts took, the circuits they made, (and if you don’t know about thought and emotion circuits, go look into the TEDTalk about them that I am in too much of a hurry to find- there’s SUPER WEATHER OUT THERE DAMNIT). Think about how you are different now, and why you have changed, and what you have changed, and whether or not you’re happy with that change. I’ve changed, more than I’m probably aware- I can see the way my brain works, and why it works, and, without sounding vain or big headed, I’m honestly quite proud of myself. (Not in a, ‘Wow, look at me, I’m amazing way’, more in the, ‘N’aww, good boy Jordan, you do clever things sometimes’ way. Although, I think the fact that I have several different levels of thought that all live together in my head and compliment and reinforce each other is probably a very, very strange thing. If not, let me know!) I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with my life, and the strides I’ve made to be a well rounded person. And I think that that is a very, very healthy way to be.

Now! Now that I’ve said my piece, GO OUTSIDE. Honestly, the sun is out for the first time, and knowing Britain, the last time, for summer. Get out there! Immediately! (Sun is good for depression, and the skin, and for a general sense of accomplishment.) Go!

I’m not going to post a poem this week, because the one I’ve been working on for the past week is one I’m submitting to a competition, because I’m really cool. Next week though. Next week. (He says, knowing he promised that last week.)

I hope you have a super-awesome weekend,

As ever, send me a nice email on jol20@aber.ac.uk,

And, yeah!
I’m a cool person,
Jordan!

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Presently, I am incapacitated, suffering from the payment for a very, very lovely evening of alcohol abuse. A hangover is a great thing, eh? It’s been two weeks now, since the last blog- two wonderful, wonderful weeks, of rolling around Ireland being super-cool, and rolling around my lovely Aberystwyth. I could, of course, write about some of the big things happening in the world at the minute- Maggie’s death and North Korea, both of which I’m quite interested in, but for one, I don’t believe in commenting on political periods I have no experience of, and for the other, Kim Jong-Un is nowhere near as funny as his dad. So instead, I want to make a little list- a list of all of the very silly things I learnt about the world while I was home.

1. Animals don’t like snow. Especially animals in the zoo. Which is quite unfortunate, and led to the closure of Belfast zoo- I mean, I always thought an elephant would look awesome with a big white coat on, but apparently, they disagree.

2. Drinking in Belfast is expensive. £5 for a single whiskey and Coke? £30 for a taxi home? BAD BELFAST.

3. Belfast is AWESOME to drink in. I met some of the most bizarre people while doing my ‘Loud and talkative’ thing. It comes quite in handy when attempting to make new friends. And, after all this time in Aber, being in a big city, where I can dive from jazz-bar to weird-indie-inthedark-bar, (and by dive I mean, they told me off for being noisy so I left), is an amazing feeling.

4. Getting up at 7AM and travelling till midnight is exhausting and makes everyone want to kill each-other. This isn’t helped by people being at each-other’s throats already over… certain difficulties of traveling back.

5. Ireland doesn’t have those weird self-service-ticket-machines. Anywhere. So don’t go looking for them.

6. People can be thoughtless and silly, and can make you want to slap them in the head. But that’s probably a bad idea.

7. It’s disgusting to talk ill of the recently dead. Give them fifteen, twenty years of peace before you start acting like an asshat at least.

8. Walking for six hours results in the GREATEST SLEEP EVER. EVER!

9. One of my best friends is scared of the dark, and finds it difficult not to pee on cats.

I think that’s my lot for the week. I do promise to resume normal service next week. (Unfortunately, I feel as though I am genuinely going to keel over and die. So, y’know, if you don’t ever hear from me again, well, yeah. You know what happened. You know it was the alcohol that did it. AVENGE ME.)

No poems or stories for you this week, I’m afraid!

Have an awesome weekend,
I’m a cool person,
Jordan

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Ever since my ex, one morning before Christmas, decided that he was getting up at 7/8 AM, and forced me to get up at the same time- (And I mean forced, he grabbed me into a hug and rolled us out of the bed), I’ve been convinced of the magical power of waking up before noon. This week, I’ve started waking myself up at 7.45AM, a time that, previously, I reserved for my 9am lectures or for travelling. AND I FEEL GREAT. Of course, it’s only been a week of this early-morning-wake-up-ing, but I have some initial observations that, for posterity, (and because I really like numbery-bullety-blogs), I want to record. So without further ado, here is my list of observations on the pros and cons of waking up before 8AM.

  1. Frasier is great; It might be a silly reason to relish waking up early, but there is something wonderful about being able to catch up with the hyper-intelligent, yet completely ridiculous American and his small circle of friends and family. I think there are few things better for your brain than waking up to a few healthy hours of a good American comedy.

  2. Productivity levelled up!; Prior to this week, it took me three months to read twenty pages of War and Peace. In the past two days, I’ve read two hundred. On top of that, I’ve written ten or eleven new poems, a short story, and I’m working on a second, and have made a glorious push with my ‘Teach Yourself Harpy-things’ book. I’m not saying that waking up early makes you extra productive- I think it’s more that, by getting up early, and having a very, very large amount of time in the day, we manage to do more in it than otherwise.

  3. Getting a ‘little’ cranky; A downside of this waking-up-early business is that my body still wants to go to sleep at 1am- so I’m not getting a particularly large amount of sleep. This isn’t so bad, until I start to get moody and angry, at which point my fake-wife and I have an enormous fight, and I kick everyone except her out of the kitchen before I do someone some serious physical harm. I’ve always had a short temper- Dean’s inability to understand the difference between a pun and him saying a word and yelling, ‘IT’S A PUN’, however, nearly started World War Three.

  4. All the need for food; This one surprised me a little. I’ve always known my diet is weird- due to some lovely freak of biology, I exist in one of two states on any given day; incredibly ill or incredibly hungry. Thanks mother nature! So I will have days where I eat a very large amount, and days where I eat comparatively little. One thing I’ve noticed with all this getting-up-early business is that my body has suddenly decided that, even if it is sick, it needs ALL OF THE FOOD. Which is kinda nice, actually, I’m starting to feel like a pretend-healthy person.

  5. I feel young again; Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m about fifty every day. I think it’s a combination of psychological factors and the fact that I am EXTREMELY UNFIT. (Laziness is next to Godliness!) With all this getting up early, though, I’ve been walking a lot more, and enjoying myself a lot more- I think it’s starting to revert my age back to what it should be!

  6. I get to go outside more; Walks. ALL of the walks. I went for a walk for four hours the other day, and when I got home, there was still plenty of time left to do so much more stuff. Long days = long walks.

  7. Mingling with the morning owls, nattering with the night owls; My body is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and I genuinely appreciate its putting up with me. Presently, it’s putting up with this morning-thing, and in doing so, it’s letting me chill with my morning-awakening-friends, while keeping me up till 1am, so letting me get down with my never-going-to-sleep friends. (I’m looking at you, Matt.)

 

It’s not really an argument ‘for’ waking up early. It’s so nice to wake up at a time that your body says is natural. However, all I can say is that, for the past week, life has stopped feeling like it’s rushing by me, and I’ve begun to feel like I’m back in charge of myself. I’ve got goals, I’ve got ideas, I’ve got projects- I’m pulling my world together, and it’s all started by waking up early!

I don’t think I’ll say anything more on the subject; it’s a small blog today, (mostly because I forgot it was Saturday), however, I’m away home to Ireland on Monday- so next Saturday, you will either have a blog, or a drunken slur. (Actually, now that I think about it, there probably won’t be a blog next Saturday, it’s more likely to appear on the following Tuesday. Not that that really matters.) I have a little poem for you, and then I’m off to enjoy the company of Frasier. This, for a change, has an inspiration I can talk about- a Polish piece of orchestral music written during the Second World War that was on ClassicFM (single greatest radio station IN THE UNIVERSE). Enjoy!

They’re breaking down our doors.

I can hear their voices, out in the street-

Foreign tongues crying foreign names.

I hold my children, listen to them come-

Boots on the stairs, charging-

Gunshots and cries-

What’s happening mommy-

Terror,

Not like before.

Not two years ago, those stairs were happy-

There was always revelry here.

Always a piano singing, a dance, a feast-

Now the piano calls its last

As it hits the street below.

We wait, destitute, as they pour in-

Angry faces, barking,

They crash over and crush

Like a terrifying wave,

Engulfing our once-happy world.

*

Fifty years, sixty years, time flies on.

I went back there once, stopped to watch-

Hoping to see… Well, I don’t know what.

The old piano, maybe,

Or some trace of our former life-

But it’s all gone.

There’s a park, now, happy faces,

Not like before.

My home, once proud,

Is now ashes that raise our youth.

Ah, Warsaw, how you have changed.

That’s all from me, anyway. I hope you’re having an awesome weekend, and I hope you have an awesome week- I know I will! As ever, feel free to send me a little email and tell me stories about your week, or your life, or anything you find interesting, at jol20@aber.ac.uk!

I’m a cool person,
Jordan! x