30 Days Challenge: Day 30: Who are you?

I’ve been staring at this question since I started the challenge, thinking about what I’d write. First of all, then, I’m going to post a silly picture:

Post roller derby drinking in Plaza Garibaldi

Anyway, who am I? Well, my name is Andy. I was born in Doncaster and lived most of by life in the Barnsley area of South Yorkshire. I went to university in Preston, I lived in Sheffield for a while and I followed a girl to Manchester. At time of writing, I’m living in DF, Mexico City, Mexico as a professional English teacher. This is my second year doing so in Mexico. I’m also (still) working on my urban fantasy novel.

So, I guess that’s the ‘what’. As to who… oh hell, I don’t know. How do you answer a question like this? I’m geeky, I think I’m a good friend, I’m disorganised, I seek validation from other people and I don’t know where I’ll be next year. I’m not sure what else to say.

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30 Day Challenge: Day 4: About your family.

Okay, let’s see. My family at present is as follows:

  • Mum
  • Mum’s fiancée, Graham
  • Dad
  • Dad’s wife, Karen
  • Dad’s mum and dad – my Nanan and Grandad
  • My brother, Micahel
  • His long-term gf, Simone.
  • Karen’s daughter, Sam
  • Sam’s husband, Russ
  • Their son, Brendan
  • The “Wakefield lot” being the family sprouting from my mum’s sister, with whom I’m not very close.

Let’s start at the top, then. My mum is lovely, silly and emotional. I think I get a large part of my personality from her. It’s always easy to just turn up and spend an hour or two together without anything having changed.

With my dad, it hasn’t always been that easy. We’ve always been very different people, and I think that when I was younger he was disappointed by that. We’ve come to terms over the years, and I really feel like he’s there for me, and supports the choices I make  (even the stupid ones).

Graham I don’t like. I think he mooches off my mum and has no intentions of helping her pay the bills long-term. Nonetheless, mum loves him and he makes her happy. I try to respect that whenever he’s not undermining me personally.

Karen on the other hand is lovely. She’s gentle, strong and caring. She really feels like a member of my family who really cares about me, and I her. She’s a wonderful person I’m glad my dad found.

Sam and Russ are great and I have a lot of fun hanging out with them. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much chance to get to know Brendan, as I seem to fly in and he’s grown another foot. He may be looking into a career as the next Jolly Green Giant. Regardless, they’re very much a part of my extended family.

Mike and I get on fairly well. As previously mentioned, we’re pretty different, but we have fun chatting, drinking, talking about girls or playing Call of Duty together. I know it’s always been my mum’s fear that we wouldn’t be that close together in childhood, just like she and her sister grew apart (before growing back together later). I think with the choices I make it’s inevitable, but there’s no enmity there.

I had great fun hanging out with Dad, Russ, Mike and Russ’ friend whose name escapes me just before I came back. We had a laugh and some drinks and fell asleep on Nanan’s sofa as soon as I got home.

Now, my Nanan and Grandad. I spent a lot of years living with them and being raised by them – all because of some family politics I wasn’t old enough to understand. Nonetheless, on Nanan’s insistence, that’s where I live when I come home to England. Nanan is a typical matriarch. She takes a vicious pride in taking care of her family. She over-feeds me, buys the thinks I like and loves me unconditionally. My Grandad is funny, good at word-games and has lots of opinions he’s likes to repeat. He does what Nanan tells him to do because he’s not stupid.

Lately, I’ve been a little worried about my Nanan. Last year she was in a car accident. The car was rolled, and though she was only cut and bruised a little, her friend (the driver) was killed right in front of her. She spoke to one mo her closest friends in her dying moments. She’s lost some weight and is more fragile than I’ve ever seen her, so I’m trying to send her only good news and stay in touch as much as possible. It’s tough, but I’m sure she’ll straighten out. She’s getting stronger, she was glad to have me home and she’s a scary Northern mother. She’ll be fine.

I’d like to end on a picture of my dad and I from my visit to England in April last year.

Thanks for reading. Next post is coming soon.

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.