30 Days Challenge: Day 29: Future plans/goals

I find myself in the mood to whine and winge at be generally depressive at you. Instead, I’m going to do the next 30 Day question, which is much more cheerful.

Career

Professionally, I want to continue to teach – particularly adults or small groups of children. I’ve become rather jaded towards school teaching and I don’t think it’s really my wheelhouse. Teaching adults and business English, on the other hand, is really something I can see myself doing for the rest of my working life. I’m not a perfect teacher; I have a lot of personal development and growth to do, but that is something I really want to put my time and attention into. Long-term, I see myself going into academic management and/or teacher training.

Career 2

I want to publish a book. I’m about halfway through some British urban fantasy (being that I’m British and I like urban fantasy). Even if it’s not this attempt or the next or the next, I’d like to see a book with my name on it in a mainstream bookstore (assuming they still exist in twenty years’ time, of course). This is a goal I’ve held unwaveringly since I first held J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit at around age 9. Maybe earlier. It won’t change until it happens.

Geography

This is the big question, I suppose. I have no great desire to return to England permanently, and as I begin to lose family members, that need or want will grow less and less. I also have a strong desire to live in  more countries before (and if) I decide to set down permanent roots somewhere. Unless something significant happens in the next nine months or so, I think this will be my last year in Mexico.

Romance

Well, I guess that’s kind of affected by the previous paragraph. I want to be in love again*, but I also know that it makes me make lots of stupid mistakes. It might make me stay in Mexico longer, but not forever. I want to see the world. Whoever I found would have to be okay with that as part of what they’re getting when they say ‘yes’ to getting me.

So far as marriage and kids go, I think they’re things I want in the future, but I’m not there yet. Marriage I could take or leave, but I’d love to have kids one day. I’d love to have polyglot kids one day. The romance thing has to come first, though. And last.

Anyway, those are my plans for the future. I’d also like to further my Spanish and at least one other language. I want to be the kind of man with the kind of life that 12 year old Andy could be proud of becoming.

 

 

*On some days I want it a little too much.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 1

Hello, WordPress. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. I’ve had a very interesting and complicated Summer sans Internet. Maybe I’ll talk about it as part of this thing I’ve decided to do:

Completely stolen from a lovely lady who blogs over here. I figured it’d be a good way to get back into writing and blogging without having a big, long emo-post. So, here we go.

30 Days Challenge:

Day 1: 5 interesting facts about yourself.
Day 2: The meaning behind your name.
Day 3: About your friends.
Day 4: About your family.
Day 5: A photo of something you really hate.
Day 6: A song that makes you cry.
Day 7: Your crush.
Day 8: Something you hate about yourself.
Day 9: Your definition of love.
Day 10: Your best friend.
Day 11: A letter to one of your exes.
Day 12: Your favorite female group.
Day 13: Your least favorite female group.
Day 14: Something you love about yourself.
Day 15: What you would if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant.
Day 16: A photo that makes you smile.
Day 17: A photo that makes you want to cry.
Day 18: A letter to someone you miss.
Day 19: A habit you wish you didn’t have.
Day 20: A letter to your parents.
Day 21: Short goals you wish to fulfill by the end of the month.
Day 22: Your nicknames & why you have them.
Day 23: What you would find in your bag.
Day 24: A song that makes you smile.
Day 25: How you found out about blogger & why you made one.
Day 26: First 10 songs to play on shuffle on your iPod.
Day 27: Your fashion style.
Day 28: What attracts you to someone.
Day 29: Future plans/goals.
Day 30: Who are you?

I’ll try to do this every day, but I know me. I probably won’t. Anyway:

Day 1: 5 interesting facts about yourself.

Well, here’s the one I usually keep in reserve for questions like this and drunken nights out:

I. I have been in a romantic relationship that included three other people. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of how it works. Here’s the Internet oracle if you’re curious. The basic philosophy of poly is that anything goes so long as it’s open and agreed upon beforehand.

I was 22 and just out of a 6-year relationship. I had this friend who I’d had a sneaky little crush1 on for years, and after an overly self-indulgent mourning period, stuff started to happen between us.

When it became apparent than it was a less-than-casual relationship, I was introduced to her slightly scary husband and eventually his girlfriend. Now, if you think things are dramatic in a relationship with two emotionally unpredictable people, just try it with 4.

Although I do believe that with the right mix of people with the right attitudes, it is a relationship model that can work, I’m not sure if I would ever do it again. Ultimately, my self-worth was torn up pretty badly by that whole experience, and I’m not eager to repeat it.

Let’s move on to something a little more cheerful, shall we?

II.  I’m writing my first novel. It is taking years as I tend to dip into it around procrastination, work and relationship drama.

It’s a story about a girl2, Laura, who is just coming out of a shitty relationship – the latest in a long line. Not too long after (following an inadvisable nightclub dalliance), she finds herself dating her boss, George, who she’s had a crush on for all the years she’s been working at his magazine. Unfortunately, things take a turn for a worse, as it seems that he’s involved in a violent power struggle with creatures that just aren’t really real. Right? And even then, Laura’s journo-sense tells her that there’s still more to George than meets the eye…

I’ve always wanted to write, and my dissertation was around the evolution of vampires in modern fiction (pre-Twilight, thankyouverymuch). I want to see one book with my name on it before I die. It’s the one ambition and dream I always come back to. It’s slow going, but I’m making it happen.

III. I don’t really understand hetero-normative men. Not even a little.

That isn’t to say I don’t have the same drives or desires as your typical hombre. Quite the reverse. Nonetheless, ever since I was a little boy I’ve felt very much apart from the strongly-masculine, football-loving, beer-swilling stereotypes I was exposed to. I’ve always had female friends while being completely baffled by representatives of my own sex.

I get a lot of pleasure from romantic comedies. If you say please, I’ll let you laugh at my “Rainy Tuesday” guilty pleasure movie.

I react to things (everything) with emotion. Where society perhaps suggests that a man should react in anger or aggression, I’ll react in sadness and half a chocolate cheesecake. It has led to my being “friendzoned” or taking the “gay friend” role in the life of some wonderful women, but then I have some amazing friends. You win some, you lose some.

It’s just the way I am, really. That amongst other things make me not quite fit in the little mining town I was born into, and so I travel. Which leads me to…

IV. I’m an Englishman in Mexico teaching English to Mexicans.

At the risk of being too navel-gazy about it, I think I’m running away from the very settled, local life that my brother and family still enjoy. Much as I love my family, I get terribly claustrophobic in that environment. I wanted to experience things, go places, meet people and have the kind of life I’ve read about in books. So I am. I’ve always had an affinity for words and language, so this is how I chose to do it.

Eventually, I want to have kids who have a life that is incomparable to their grandparents’. I want my grandchildren to do more still. I want my life to have made an impression on the world, even if it’s just an ant’s footprint.

V: I’m a geek. It’s perhaps not the most interesting thing to put into one of these, but it’s a huge identifier in who I am. On any given evening I will be procrastinating from housework, paid work or novel work with any one of the following:

Video games, science-fiction and fantasy anything, comic books, comic book movies, book-books, roleplaying (given an English-speaking geek community), blogging (hi!), watching YouTube videos about the above, Supernatural, The Big Bang Theory, posting on forums, Doctor Who, LARP, card games, board games, anything with Felicia Day in it… the list goes on.

Meddlers

This fact comes with this extra bonus fact: I used to be really fat.

I didn’t set out to be geeky, but when I hit university, I tried all  the things that seemed cool to me and kept doing them. I don’t really care that they’re not mainstream, or even that some are. I pretty much bumble along doing what I enjoy, making mistakes and hoping for the best. Hell, it’s why I’m sitting on my bed in Latin America rather than getting ready to go to my call centre job in South Yorkshire. Plans are for wimps. 😉

I hope you feel enlightened by all this. Comments welcome. Tune in again tomorrow!

______________________________________________________________

1 Although I say “sneaky little crush,” I am aware that subtlety and emotional guardedness are not weapons I hold in my arsenal. It’s was almost certainly common knowledge long before anything happened.
2 See Fact III.

Iron Sky and Trollhunter (Trolljegeren): Both Worth Watching

This weekend, I watched a couple of foreign films. I realise that’s not a genre, but it seemed  enough of a category to group them together in one post. The first was Iron Sky:Iron Sky

The Nazis are back – and this time they’re sexy!

Iron Sky is the most ridiculous movie I’ve seen in quite a long time. Nazis escaped to the moon and live a 1940s cartoon lifestyle on the dark side, where they can’t be found. It’s not explained how, given all the 40s tech they still use, they managed to get there in the first place. Not least get up there unnoticed.

The president of the United States is a… okay. She’s Sarah Palin. She’s a no-nonsense Republican with a moose head on her wall, a snappy wardrobe of power-suits and an overriding sense of American privilege. She is also represented as Hitler in a scene dragged straight from Downfall.

The actual Hitler figure in this movie is Udo Kier, who I still struggle to see as anything but “king of the wampires”. He plays a completely irredeemable villain, as does his sex-starved successor, Götz Otto. The Führer is dead, long live the Führer!

Let me list a few of the silly things that happen in Iron Sky:

  • An Alfred Einstein wannabe bleaches a black guy white
  • Zeppelins in space
  •  A swastika-shaped HQ
  • The president’s aid climbing on board a space ship dressed as Maleficant
  • North Korea is laughed into silence during a UN meeting

A big Michael Jackson fan. And a hot Nazi. And another dude.

This is a very silly movie, although the final scene struck a few realistic chords. Quote:

Americans: You you all gave me your word!

UN: But you broke yours!

America: We always break ours. That’s just what we do!

And:

” [Found resource]

America: That’s ours.

UN: Boo

America: Here me out. The moon is American soil. Moon flag: Stars and Stripes…”

So… yeah. Space Nazis and America-bashing. What more of a review do you need? Also, if anyone has Ms. Julia Dietze‘s phone number…

Next up, and made with a slightly more serious tone, was Trolljegeren (Troll Hunter).

Now, at the beginning of this movie you expect something like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. The shaky cam is shaky, there are woods and a premise for them having a camera (chasing bear poachers). We chase a shady-looking guy (a Norwegian comedian who I thought looked a little like Michael Gambon) and, twenty-minutes into the movie, during the first shaky-cam scare, we see a troll in full night vision. No hiding behind things or shaky cameras. He’s just… there. At first I was disappointed. Jon Landis has always said that he wished he’d shown less  of the wolf in his seminal An American Werewolf in London.

That said, though, the tone of the film changes completely. Rather than a thing out to scare us with glimpses of poorly-shot monster, we’re now on what seems to be a real-life hunt. We are confronted by the troll-related bureaucrats trying to cover things up, and the cheerful Polish immigrants they employ to do so. The troll hunter is miserable and rebellious, while the film-makers go from cynical outsiders to his ignorant allies. The trolls are often quite cute, and look a lot like the traditional images of Norwegian folk law.

Particular highlights include shots of the beautiful Northern European landscape, the sometimes tear-jerkings stories of the troll hunter himself, and the sense that if you sing hymns loud enough in deepest, darkest Norway you might just get eaten.

The movie develops an intriguing back story, makes a few barbs at Norwegian administration and allows us to see that vampires aren’t the only ones who still have that Hollywood magic.

One depressing piece of news, that I don’t entirely understand, is that an American production company have bought the rights to remake it. Now, I’m not a movie snob, but I don’t see why it needs to be made. Troll hunter is perfectly watchable to an English-speaker. Sure, most of the dialogue is in Norwegian, but surely that adds to the authenticity of the “found footage” model? I will see the remake, if it ever happens, but I honestly don’t see it being better than this charming, heart-wrenching and beautifully shot original.

 

Final thought:

The First is the Model for the Rest

Or: Why I Go For Weird Girls

Gamer Girl

Lately, I’ve been reading Lust in Translation. It’s a fascinating, well-researched read with jolly insight from the American journalist who wrote it. It feeds well into interests I gained in a non-conventional relationship I had in the past. If you want my review, that was it.

Anyway, what really inspired me to write this post was the beginning of chapter 3:

In theory, a university-educated white woman (like me) could date and marry an immigrant Mexican laborer who didn’t finish high school. But although I occasionally meet working-class Mexicans, I have had romantic partners who shared my ethnicity, schooling and economic standing. Even when they weren’t American, my boyfriends have been stock analysts and journalists.

The way we sort our sex partners intrigued researchers at the University of Chicago. They wondered how a Mexican man in Chicago, a city of 3 million people, might find that every potential girlfriend he meets comes from the same town in Michoacán. MEanwhile my girlfriends gripe that all the eligible men they know are lawyers from New Jersey.

As I think I have said before, I come from a small village in South Yorkshire, whose people are ex-coal miners and their families. Almost everyone loves football, beer and not being called ‘gay’ by their friends. Therefore, isn’t this the kind of woman I should be attracted to?

This section got me thinking about my relationships, and about what might have affected them. It got me wondering whether our first relationships have a palpable effect on the relationships that follow. As a sample of one, I’d like to submit myself for the study, though I’m far from the first to theorise on this point1.

I think I’ve always been ill at ease with the ‘Come On You Reds!’ environment of my upbringing2. That’s what my mum says, anyway. I think the thing that had the most affect, though, was my first relationship.

My first girlfriend was a close friend of mine when I was 12 years old. Since I was a fat kid who covered his insecurities with stupid jokes, that’s her first point in the ‘weird’ column.

In truth, I don’t really remember much about C from when we first met. The strongest impression I have of her is the cartoon-like character she became in her search for identity during pre-adulthood. I remember watching Wiccan rituals enacted with fruit juice in plastic cups, and I remember her going to our American-style prom in a black lace evening dress she could have stolen from a Victorian widow. I remember her sarcasm, misanthropy, outspoken opinions, poorly-dyed black hair and growing interest in alternative culture. In sum, I remember a strong sense of her differentness, which I think still affects me today: long after I realised that my first love was wholly ridiculous at that delicate time in her life.

What little Internet footprint I can find of her tells me one thing: the people I’ve become close to since then would probably have a lot in common with her.

C was in my life for six years in one role or another; even as a dubious friend when my next relationship started.

The relationship in question started when the girlfriend of a good friend of mine needed to talk to someone about leaving him just as I needed to talk to someone about having been left.

S was kind of a mainstream breath of fresh air after C, although she didn’t exactly go with the flow of the crowd, either. She had a tattoo, several ear-piercings and a belly button bar. At the time, freshly pressed from the grim North, this was amazingly exotic to me. She was (and is) sarcastic, occasionally acerbic, intelligent in a career of morons and with an interest in Gothic fashion. We had a comfortable, if staid time together, where she often humoured my geekier side that grew along with my independence. I suppose that’s why I was initially drawn to E, after far too long a mourning period.

S, along with a couple of my other exes, as one of my best friends, regardless of geography. Although that held back my recovery for a while, I’m glad we were able to stay civil.

The torch I carried? Seems appropriate.

Okay, so on to E. The truth is, I’d carried a little torch for E for a while. Well, maybe not a torch, but it was certainly bigger than a matchstick. Maybe it was just the idea of sitting naked while discussing the likelihood of Romana returning to Doctor Who3.

Anyway, E was an is pierced in several interesting places, is into Doctor Who, roleplaying, LARP, Sherlock Holmes, oh and polyamory4. She has her share of ‘The Crazy’ which either complimented or rubbed up against mine depending on the direction of the wind. I had a crazy, complicated, fun and educational year with E which is still a regular topic in my after-dinner conversations.

During that year, I had two little flings5. One was with a sweet, clever and slightly socially awkward girl who came to my flat to watch Glee. The other was with a strong, passionate roller girl with whom I sometimes regret not having had the courage to pursue something more serious with. They were and are two amazing, weird and sometimes baffling woman who could never be mistaken for each other in any circumstances. Neither would they fit into daytime TV’s narrow sphere of normality, save Glee-girl, who passes only because her shyness hides her intelligence and originality.

I am not going to discuss my experience at the Heaven’s Basement concert, as that is a post or two in and of itself.

Lalla Ward as a vampire. Because I can.The movie is Vampire Circus. If you don’t know who she is, Google is your friend. And I judge you.  

That brings us to this past year, then. First is J. She was my boss at a seasonal ESL school who I mocked for trying to keep a photocopy unstickmaned. She was pierced, tattooed, cynical, just back from Russia and as into me as I was into her. This last was particularly surprising to me, as I can only say for certain that that had happened to me once before. Anyway, we shared the same silly sense of humour, career and plans for the future. She even had previous dealing with my particular brand of the Crazy. Within a month we were in love, engaged, living together and had confirmed jobs in Mexico. Only two of those are still true. Yes, sometimes it is weird, but I only choose the girls who can deal with ‘weird’.

Now there is P, a weird Mexican I met on the Internet who likes ice sculpture, video games, zombie walks and cats. She’s an ex-roller girl who almost moved to Paris for a man. I totally get that. She has tattoos, piercings and cynicism; all of which seem to be prerequisites in my dates.

Again, the relationship is moving ridiculously fast while we come to terms with each other’s Crazy. Hm. There’s a lesson there somewhere.

So, yeah. I’ve had minor-crushes on attractive mainstream(ish) girls, but never ones who can only talk about The X Factor and the Kardashians. They included a Belarusian (discussed before on this blog), a deceptively normal-looking rocker, a fellow teaching student with man issues and a girl with dreadlocks, unshaven armpits and a tendency to fall of the roof when writing poetry. Okay, maybe I don’t go for mainstream girls.

I haven’t made a personal, romance-related blog for a while. They usually turn to angst and self-criticism in my experience. Regardless, writing out my romantic history like this certainly shows that I have a mental type6.

So, maybe C still haunts me today. Maybe she’s why between a girl with pink hair and tattoos or a girl with blonde hair and fashionable clothes, I’ll always as Pink Hair for directions. An alternative, of course, is that I’m just looking for someone as abnormal as myself. Pot-AY-to, pot-AH-to.

Assuming anyone is reading this: have you had the same experience? Looking back with honesty, is there one kind of person; one model of personality that you keep coming back to? How far can you trace it back? Why do you love the people you love?

 

1  One and Two, for example.
2 Come on you Reds!
3 A lady of my acquaintance is due a thorough induction in the not-so-distant future. 
4 Polyamory from Miriam-Webster: ” the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”
5 A reminder – Polyamory from Miriam-Webster: ” the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.”
6 Though not a physical one, but I think posting pictures would be undignified.

Not a music fan?!

You’ve got to be kidding me!
(I love this movie)

As I write this in my Rosetta Stone notebook1, I am sitting in a house… somewhere near Mexico City. I’m accompanying my lady friend to a rehersal of her band. I am surrounded by so much equipment that I don’t know whether they’re going to make music or launch this lovely antique-filled home on a mission to Mars.

Dolly Parton

This’ cool, right?

I love music. I do. I enjoy rock, pop, country, jazz, ska, soul, Motown and more. My regular playlists are so eclectic and varied that no two songs played back-to-back seem to gel at all. From Deep Purple through the Supremes via Dolly Parton, I love all kinds of music2. It seems, however, that I l love music less than almost everyone else I meet. This rules goes double for anyone I happen to sleep with.

I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience, but I never give a correct answer when it comes to favourite bands; I can’t name a guitarist from a single riff3, and I don’t know which band started which monumental movement that should have changed my life.

They guys I’m listening to now are great. Really, they are. I won’t have to put on my boyfriend-wow face and fake enthusiasm. It’s good stuff. I’m even pretty sure I can name all the instruments. After I finished this bit of scribbling, I also helped with the tambourine (badly) and some English grammar in the lyrics! I’m quite proud.

That said, I’m not really sure what genre their music is, nor which bands might have inspired it. I feel like Knives Chau being mesmerized by something I know nothing about4.  I just don’t have the language to discuss music, just like a non-linguist wouldn’t have the words to talk about phonemics, the Proto-Indo-European language or diphthongs. In the broadest possible strokes, I can say if I enjoy some vocals, a guitar solo or lyrics. I kind of know that Bowie was a New Romantic and Marvin Gaye was Motown. Regardless of any of my other traits or interests, this seems to make me a lesser person; I’m less cool and less interesting.

Case in point: on my journey to Mexico City last week, I was flicking through the poorly catalogued music collection on the bus. I came across a song I really enjoyed, with a lead singer whose accent really appealed to me4. I was berated by lover and ex alike for never having heard of the Cranberries. It was a name that I sort of recognised, and when their hits were yelled at me, I did recognise some. Nonetheless, they weren’t a band that was ever really on my rader until I accidentally listened to a  mislabelled song on a Mexican bus.

The song in question:

Right now, I’m surrounded by people who are enjoying making great music. I’m enjoying listening to it while I write. Isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that be enough?

I have no issue with musical culture or how much it means to some people. I just don’t really understand it. It is, I suppose, the same way that other people don’t understand my passion for Doctor Who, the BBC’s Sherlock or Supernatural6, for example. What does bother me, however, is the ‘indie elitism’ that one sees far too often. The “my music is better than you music” mentality is what put me off looking outside the mainstream for the majority of my teenage years (another girl’s influence, as it happens).

I like music, but I know nothing about it. What’s wrong with that?

Please comment if you’ve had the same experience. Maybe you’ve got your own story of non-musicista prejudice? Let me know. Tell me I’m not alone.

1 The British Museum’s finest.
2 I know, I know. I’m sure you’re already rolling your eyes at my examples.
3 Except Queen’s Brian May.
4 If you don’t get the reference, do yourself a favour.
5 My weakness for accents is a whole topic in and of itself. The next time I do something stupid for a pretty accent, I’ll let you know. Refer to this post for reference to my summer spent chasing Belarussian crush I had entirely thanks to the pretty, atypical way she spoke.
6 If you don’t know them, look them up. Seriously.