A Wall Full of Nothing

I don’t really care that it’s your birthday.  Facebook always makes sure I always know but I’m probably not going to post on your wall.  You won’t notice I’m not among the well-wishers.

This is because I almost never post anything ever on Facebook, I’m basically a crotchety old man trapped in this hot young body waiting till the day I can be grumpy and complain about emojis and snapchat and have it just be accepted cause I’m old.  Looking at my wall it’s a few pics from a trip and a check in at a concert.  Also because I don’t really care that it’s your birthday.

However, when it comes to my birthday I expect a wall full of messages from people I haven’t seen in years who are all much more settled and adulty with their kids and backyards and mortgages. I expect to be lavished with praise and congratulations for successfully completing another year by continuing to be alive.  In return I shall like your post.  That is all.

But when it came to this most recent mid-life crisis birthday, there was nothing.

A few texts or Whatsap messages but a wall full of nothing.

It was a little bit unsettling, had all these years of not caring finally caught up on me and my friend list made a simultaneous and unanimous decision to spurn me?  Had I forgotten the date of my own birthday and started checking too early?  Had the internet broken?

All these fears rushed through my head, until I read a message from my cousin.  She wished me a happy birthday and commented that for some reason she couldn’t post on my wall.

Whoops my bad, I had put it on a setting that meant no one could write on my wall full stop so all the thousands of well-wishers weren’t able to send me their heartfelt messages as I entered a new decade of my life.

How it got on that setting was all my doing.  Basically it was because I overthink things too much and wanted to have complete control over what goes on my wall and how all these people I don’t care about see me and judge me.  It was mainly because I moved to London and immediately started being gay on arrival while also finally accepting my mums friend request.  So for a while there were two separate worlds, my London world where people knew I was gay and my home world were people knew cause they guessed but it hadn’t been spoken about.  This duel world lead to a paranoia of someone from London world posting something gay related and my mum and the rest of home world finding out via facebook.  So it went the way of nobody can post anything ever, and for good reason, I’m looking at you guy who checked me into that terrible gay night club with the doof doof music and dark corners whose check in approval is still in my inbox waiting never to be approved.

When I changed to this setting I thought to myself ‘you must remember to turn it off when it gets close to your birthday so you can accumulate all the wishes and store them in a jar’.  Obviously this didn’t happen and I’ll never know how my primary school friends feel about me turning 30, find out who the true friends are and who is just lurking on Facebook to observe and judge.

Post Birthday Wall Drama 2016 I’ve changed the setting so that anyone can check me in anywhere and post away, like my flatmate who posts random videos which my mums friends then comment on.  I care less, because I’m happier.  My worlds are more overlapped, like a Venn diagram of home and London with people who know I’m gay in the middle getting slowly and slowly bigger.  I’m blogging away to the whole world letting my thoughts loose, all be it under a mask of anonymity.

On Facebook I still post vary rarely, but that’s mainly because I don’t think my day to day life is interesting enough to keep the world informed of every detail.  If I post something its because I really love it, find it really cool.  If I comment its cause what you have posted affected me in some way.  If I even like its cause what you have posted is brilliant or moving or just simply sticks its head above the chaff of baby photos and motivational quotes.  I’m selective in what I say, so when I say something it means more.  But still honestly, feel free to wish me a happy birthday, you have got 11 months to work on your post.  I promise you won’t be blocked.

Bewildered Observer

Behind

Behind.

This the word I say more than any other.  Its followed by ‘sorry’ and ‘say again’ because I’m overly apologetic and deaf, but ‘behind’ would take it out by a large margin.  This is because for 9 plus hours a day, 5 days a week I work in a kitchen for a living.  I’m a chef.

A pastry chef to be exact.  This is where everyone asks if I can make them something, what my favourite cake to make is and what I think of ‘Great British Bake-off’.  The answers to which are:

  • probably not, unless you pay me, it’s your birthday, or we are trading job skills i.e. legal advice for apple pie. It’s a good deal, I make good apple pie.
  • I don’t have one thing I make every time as my signature cake like your Aunty Irene’s famous chocolate cake, I’m much more likely to try and be creative, more for me than anyone else, and create something custom and unique. Show of my mad skillz when all you wanted was a plain chocolate cake just like your Aunty Irene used to make.
  • I don’t watch it, not because I’m looking down on it or think I won’t like it, I’m 100% confident I would love it, but there is too much TV to watch and there are things I will like more. No lie, the customs officer checking my visa asked me if I watched the show, no questions about my extensive criminal background just that I really should start watching it.

Why I work in this industry is something I’m currently not as sure of as I once was.  A year ago it would have been because I love it, the energy of the kitchen, the way it leaves you exhausted and shattered in the most satisfying way.  The fact that you get to make things and see exactly what you did with your time at the end of the day.  I love the process of baking, the specific way things have to be done, the precision and patience and the understanding of why things happen the way they do.

These things are all still true, but recently the downsides of kitchen life are becoming less appealing.  Namely the hours.

I’m a bit of a looser, not much social life, so the working weekends, and early starts have never really bothered me before.  In fact is has been an excuse for never doing anything exciting.  “What did you do this weekend?”, “I was working”.  But now it’s starting to wear me down.  There is no escaping it, weekends are the busy days, everyone is there, and if you manage to somehow always get weekends off you lose a bit of respect from everyone else, like you are not working hard enough.

But now I’m in London, I’m happier, I’m more social, I’m dating.  But really who wants to date someone who they can never spend an entire weekend with.  Can’t stay out all night, sleep all morning and emerge for brunch with.  It’s the brunching that is getting to me recently.  Everyone I talk to seems to be brunching.  I have never brunched.  I want to brunch.  The gays I see brunching at work seem to be having a great time.  I want to have a great time.  But I can’t.

This is not to say that I never ever have a weekend off.  If I ask for one I will get it off not problem, no questions.  But I only do that if I have something important to do.  You do occasionally just get random weekends rostered off.  This is gold, a gift from the gods, you must make every minute count not just because you don’t know when you will get another one, but because the entire kitchen, nay the entire restaurant industry is living vicariously through you.  I have not had any of those unrequested weekends off in about 9 months.  The other members of my pastry team have.  This is because I’m the head of the team. And people keep leaving.  Just as you are close to having a fully trained team and be able to get some weekends off, another one leaves and you are back to square one.  So I’m long overdue for a weekend off and live in hope it will happen every time we get a new rota, I’m always disappointed.

Partly because of these hours I’m considering finding something outside of the kitchen.  Something Monday to Friday 9 to 5ish.  Where I can spend weekends with the rest of London, or with a special someone, maybe the Grindr guy I was trading elaborate essays with who I’ve now seen twice, he seems swell and nifty.  But I don’t really know what else I’m skilled at.  I’ve never worked in an office and when I read normal job ads I don’t know what it is they do.  I know how to cook.  And the truth is I do still love it.  It frustrates me and angers me and annoys me, but I love it.  Plus, I get sweet job perks like the trip I’m going on today to see how salt is made. #livingthedream.  So for now I’m in my job feeling all these mixed emotions about giving it my hours, still loving it slightly more than not and still saying ‘behind’ 30 thousand times a day so that if I hit you with a hot tray it’s your fault not mine, because I said behind.

Bewildered Observer

*You’re

I have become dumber since I moved to London.

I came to this conclusion upon realising via Grindr I didn’t know the difference between your and you’re.

It is not possible that I graduated high school and university without using the word you’re, but it feels like a word I’ve never written before a guy I was chatting to corrected me.

Several times.

So many times it made me slightly paranoid.  This guy’s lasting impact on my life is to make me double check a message for correct use of you’re before sending.  Or to follow up with a simple *you’re when I fail.

The feeling of dumbness isn’t just from going my whole life without mastering the word you’re but also just the general feeling of not understanding the cultural history of my new home.

Moving to London was the best decision I have ever made, it gave me a new burst of life, it was exhilarating and terrifying in all of the right ways.  But I have struggled with adapting to the British news narrative.  It has been a bit like starting to read a novel 70% of the way in and then trying to have a conversation about it with someone who has read the whole thing ten times over.

In New Zealand I had grown up with the story, I knew who the players were, who’s important, who’s insane, and who’s just waiting to make a move and take power. I knew that you should pay attention when ever Winston appeared cause shits gonna get entertaining.

Here I knew no one beyond the big brand name characters, the Camerons, Millibands, Johnsons and Farages of the world.  Beyond them it’s a murky mess of not knowing who I’m supposed to dislike and who’s the underdog I’m wanting to go all the way.  Whether I’m supposed to be a Guardian or a Daily Mail reader.

Even worse is my understanding of the pop culture characters.  I have had conversations with many a local about British bands that made it to New Zealand normally as a result of them collapsing in shock at me not knowing who E17 or Take That beyond Robbie Williams were.  Amazing bands like Steps and S Club 7 and 5ive made it my way, but those other two who are massive cultural moments here, not so much.  I never know who the people are on Pointless Celebrities.

Having this gap in knowledge is challenging in conversation, you don’t get the jokes or know how your supposed to react.  Your quotes of “always blow on the pie” or “it’s on the floor” don’t get the reaction they truly deserve.

I’m working on it though.  During the general election last year I had big conversations with dates about how the political system works here.  Learning what’s up with the House of Lords and bits and pieces of the history.  But the political climate at the moment is my big golden opportunity to jump on in head first.  We have a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet on their way so I can attempt to take it all in as the old characters reconfigure to continue the story.  Plus, the whole series of events of it all is simply just so dam fascinating and dramatic you can’t help but be drawn in and my policy researching flatmate is keeping me all up to date on the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

But this doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up on my true news passion, New Zealand news stories.  I’ll take as many tales of rampaging seals, avocado thefts and dildos to the face as they can provide.

 

Bewildered Observer

This is not a mid-life crisis

This is not a midlife crisis.  It’s just that I’m doubting my whole career and what I’m doing with my life.  The fact that I turned 30 a few weeks ago is just coincidence, a big massive coincidence.

Not even I believe that, it’s a midlife crisis but shhhhhhh don’t tell anyone because expressing my feelings is not my thing.

I missed writing, I have no need to write in my day to day life and I miss it.  In university, as stupid as it sounds I did love the whole process of crafting an essay.  The thinking about what you were going to say, the first massive write and the constant reading and rewriting and cutting and adding and repeating the process until you were happy or it was time to hand it in.  Now the most writing I do is a ‘love note’ to my colleagues to hand the kitchen over on my days off or conversations with guys on Grindr.  Guys on Grindr are not great conversationalist, they aren’t very quirky or interesting in how they write.  They speak in short sentences like “hi”, “looking for?”, or “sex?”.  Or they just go with the whole a picture says a thousand words route of romance.  On that rare occasion that you do chat to someone who is willing to get weird and trade massive essays on completely random thoughts, I always get too carried away and scare them off.  This is because I miss writing and take any chance to do so.  I’m currently trading messages with a guy that involve me buying Wales and setting up a dictatorship with a sheep based defense force.  Obviously.  I find it highly entertaining, he is much slower at responding and I’m pretty sure will ghost me soon.

So now I am writing, purely because I want to find a way to write.  Well not purely for that reason, as part of my midlife crisis I feel the need to get out of the kitchen and into a job that has slightly more normal working hours.  Because I’ve never worked in anything apart from a kitchen I have no clue what that job is.  I don’t know how to do office work and I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t doing something where I created something my soul would be crushed and die swiftly.  And not even a dramatic end of season cliff-hanger death, more like a nobody noticed its dead until the neighbor wondered why there were so many flies kind of death.  See I get weird when I write, this is not what Grindr guys find attractive.

I like the idea of writing for a living, crafting thoughts into something people want to read but I don’t have any work to provide a basis to do that for a living, so I’m starting.  Basically like everyone having a midlife crisis I’ve decided to write, having never done it before, as though it’s simple and I was born to do it, making every writer who has studied and slaved away for years as angry as I feel when a housewife decides she would like to work in a kitchen.  She can’t do that and I can’t write, but ehhhhh I need to do something so for this week this is it, it won’t last long because I’ll get tired or distracted and I have limited life experience on which to write anything about.

And so ends the first act of my midlife crisis, this stream of conscious writing exercise that nobody will ever read.  It was soothing and relaxing in a way that playing the opening bars to Outcasts ‘Roses’ repeatedly on the piano was.  I feel good, so that’s something at least as I return to my life that is definitely not, but clearly is, in crisis.

Bewildered Observer