The Green Tooth Fairy

I went to the dentist a while back.

“So,” she said, “do you floss every day?”

“Of course I bloody don’t. I floss whenever I think of it, which isn’t often, and then frantically twice a day in the weeks before I visit you, in the hopes that you won’t see through me. I know it, you know it, so let’s stop lying and get this over with.”

I didn’t say that, of course. I mumbled “more or less” and opened wider.

But after that visit I decided to get serious about fluoride rinsing. I bought a bottle of the nice minty stuff the dentist recommended, but as I had an old half-empty bottle of Listerine knocking around, I decided I would use that up first.

And fucking hell it hurt. It burned. After thirty seconds of Listerine gargling I was red-eyed and gasping. But I kept at it, looking forward to the day I’d empty the damn bottle and get to use mouthwash that didn’t cause pain. And finally that day came.

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I started on the nice minty stuff. And it was fine, but it felt oddly unsatisfying. And after a while it dawned on me why – I missed the Listerine. More precisely, I missed the pain. So a few days later I bought a new bottle and cracked it open, dribbling with anticipation.

I don’t know if Listerine works any better than the minty stuff. In fact, I doubt it. But now I’ve trained my brain to associate a burning sensation with freshness, and from there there’s no going back.

Next stop – wasabi toilet paper. Who’s with me?

/ paddy

The Leaving Of Twitterpool

So here I am, then. Sneaking back in to do a blog post. With my tail between legs.

After that debacle in the US in November, I pretty much left Facebook and Twitter and stopped reading the news. The world is sinking into bubbling shit and knowing exactly the volume, depth and consistency of that shit makes me feel only depressed and hopeless. Also, the less I see of that fat orange mouthy fucker with the hair, the better.

But I realised a thing — blogging is now old-school. It’s practically vintage. The kids are all up in their Snapchats and their Instantgrams, but blogging is hard-core, with text measured in pounds and feet and not characters. Something requiring effort. Like a thing your old grandad would sit in an armchair and reminisce about.

Being (almost entirely) social media free is also great. You sleep better. You are less worried. You don’t know who just died. And when you meet friends in the pub, you actually have something to tell them that they haven’t already read in minutely commented detail. Just like it was in the past.

passionBut the social media itch remains. So you know what I did instead? I started, to my eternal shame, to use Linkedin as a social media site. I know. Yes, I know. I scroll through that sleazy little feed, nodding at people’s new jobs and titles and what motivational videos they recommend. And I feel so dirty. Plus, people even there are going on about fucking Trump. There is no escape.

Due to my shameful presence on Linkedin, and my having clocked six years at the same company, I’m a tiny bit keen to get myself a new job. So I’ve been looking at lots of job ads. And apart from being over-wordy and packed with awful English, there is a thing I’ve noticed. Passion.

When did having “passion” for a thing become required to get a job with said thing? Why is it no longer seen as okay to just turn up for the money? In the old days, were people looking for carpenters with a passion for chisels? Or plumbers who were team players? Or cooks who burned for, um, not burning things? I don’t think I’ve seen a game developer job ad where passion doesn’t appear in the first two sentences.

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My good lady has the theory that the whole passion thing emerged from the middle class. Once people of all social classes had to go to work, it became nice to pretend that fancier people did it mostly because it excited them. The thing about paying the bills was secondary. Only riff-raff worked just for the money. But we work because it sets out hearts and minds on fire, and not because of the paycheck and free buns.

Maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe it’s just the way you advertise jobs these days (although I’m fairly sure that ads for more mundane or unskilled jobs aren’t all about the passion). I don’t have passion for my work. I enjoy it. I happily do it. But they’re getting my hours, and not my soul. Should I happen to have one.

And that’s it. End of post. Now, you may notice I’ve turned off the comments. That’s because I don’t want any. Comments have done enough damage in the world already and nobody ever came away from a comment exchange feeling any better.

So if you have something to add, send me a mail. Or a telegram. Or a nice big cake. Or just take me to the pub and berate/hug me in person.

/ paddy

Old Blog

So I had that new website and blog, over at Swimming to the Sun. The idea was to showcase my writing and do blog posts there. However, then a thing happened.

The thing was that I grew bored with it. I became more and more uncomfortable with a website whose only purpose was to yell: “Hey, look at me and my stuff!” So I stopped updating it. I tried to forget it existed. Then when the website rental ran out, I didn’t renew it. And now it’s gone. Gone! Like having all your ugly clothes eaten by moths.

Now the world won’t know which articles I have sold and to whom. Big loss, I’m sure you’ll agree. I have a very yappy presence on twitter, and I have this blog, in case I get the urge to go a-ranting. Which I probably will at some point.

So yeah, it’s back to basics. And I’d kind of pleased about that.

/ paddy

New Blog

Perhaps some of my seven remaining readers have noticed I’ve been a little slack lately. But, I have an excuse! I was lazy, and busy with writing. Is that a good excuse? I also got engaged. Any better? Oh well.

2014-08-04 20.46.55But! The good news is, all is not lost. I have just launched my new writing site (“launched” in the meaning of telling people about it on Facebook and opening a beer to celebrate). This is to have a more professional writing-orientated web presence. The blog will focus a bit more on writing things, although not much. There might be less swearing, there might not. Hard to say.

That tree over there, by the way, is to symbolise my trepidation about the unknown, and my hope for the future, and my desire to fill up some column inches with random photos, just for the sake of it. Nice tree, though.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who’ve followed me on this blog, and welcome on over to Swimming To The Sun where it’s more of the same.

/ paddy

Turning A No Into A Yes

Me and the boy just watched How I Met Your Mother, season 3, episode 13, entitled “10 sessions”.

It follows our hero Ted as he goes to a tattoo removal clinic. The doctor is female and “hot” and Ted feels a “vibe” between them. So he asks her out and she says no. She can’t date him as he’s her patient. Ted asks if she will date him after the treatment. She tells him sorry, but no.

And then THIS happens.

Ted goes to his friends (mixed male and female) to get their advice on how to convince this lady to go out with him. As they discuss it, not one of them says, “Um, Ted, she said no, dude”. Her answer is not allowed to be absolute. Ted is a “nice guy” so the lady doctor must be mistaken. Or married. Or lesbian. Or confused. Hell, there must be SOMETHING wrong with her.

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So over the course of Ted’s ten removal sessions, he and his friends plot wacky and hilarious ways to get her to say “yes” to Ted. But they all fail and the bewilderment from Ted just grows. Why doesn’t she want to date him, damn it?

(I could take a very long aside here on Ted’s friend Barney, the loveable misogynist and player, who you just want to stab with an ice-pick. He’s arrogant, sexist and petty and yet they all love him anyway. Good old Barney. You massive, suit-wearing shit.)

ImageAnyway, at the last session, Ted asks the doctor out again and finds the reason she won’t date him. It’s not that she just DOESN’T FUCKING WANT TO, it’s that she is a single mom and has no free time. So Ted manufactures a quick 2-minute date where they dash around town and do some fun stuff. And finally, for Ted’s persistence, she kisses him. Conquest is ON.

This right fucking here, THIS, is the problem with the view of women in culture, media, television, all of it. A woman simply can’t say “no” to a man and mean it. She must be wrong. She must be “convinced”. And this aggressive, objectifying and shitty behaviour slides right by in a “normal” sitcom. It’s everyday stuff. Nothing out of the way. Even the women in the sitcom agree it’s fine to do it.

What sort of a generation of men are we making, feeding them this behaviour as normal? Jesus Christ.

In order to avoid a stroke, I shall now sign out. But first, here’s the closing line of the episode. Hang on to your hats. Ted says to camera, in a voiceover: “And that, kids, is how you turn a no into a yes.”

No further comment required.

/ p

Your Inner Geek

So I just watched that episode of Big Bang Theory about the One Ring. While it was fun, the description of the male characters’ behaviour as “geeky” came up several times. And it made me realise that this whole “I’m proud to be a geek” movement is really starting to annoy the tits off me. I’ll now tell you why.

A geek is basically a fan of things that aren’t cool. And who decides what is cool? Cool people do and always have done. By calling yourself a geek to somehow “reclaim” that word you are just adding to the idea that there are different kinds of interests – cool ones and geeky ones. And some are more important than others.

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When I was in school I got shoved around for liking “stupid” things like fantasy and science fiction. Whereas my thuggish peers who liked football had no such problems. They knew piles of stats, they collected sticker albums, they treated football like it mattered. They even dressed up as the players, cosplay if ever I saw it. For some reason that was all okay. But making a joke about Star Wars was grounds for a thumpin’. Which was odd, as discussing in massive depth some men kicking a sphere around a field was fine.

Football isn’t the only thing. There’s music. Sport. Cars. Soap operas. Movies. Classical Music. Wine. Very rarely if ever do you hear fans of these activities described as “geeks”. Most usually they are “fans” or sometimes “experts” or even “connoisseurs” even when the level of pointless trivia involved is mind-blowing.

ImageA geek is simply a person with a burning interest and unreasonable level of knowledge in some area. That makes you a “something” geek, whatever the thing in question is. You cannot be just “a geek” in the same way that you cannot be “a fan” without first saying what you are a fan of. By buying into this current usage, you are essentially saying – “yes I agree with you that my interest is of less worth than yours but I’m anyway still okay with that, if it’s alright with you and the cool people, sir.”

Well fuck that shit. All interests are just as valid, be they tattoos, curling or Pokemon. If you want to show “pride” then stand up for yourself instead and demand that all interests are taken just as seriously. They are, when it comes down to it, all equally disposable and useless.

From now on, I will call every geek a geek. Sports geeks, wine geeks, opera geeks. Geekery, all of it, and nobody should be offended by it. And if they are, well, tough. I think it’s also time to remove that desperately proud and apologetic “I’m a geek and proud of it!” from your various online profiles. It says precisely nothing. Because we’re all geeks, every one.

(Except for, you know, the poor and hungry. Although they might still like football.)

/ paddy

A Bouncing Baby Book

Breaking with my tradition of not blogging at all, I decided to mark this day with a blog post.

So. After three years of planning and thinking and a frantic four-month workathon, my new book is finally done. “Done” as in the first draft, which needs editing, polishing, poking and all that stuff. But still, I am sitting atop a pile of 117000 words, more or less in the right order, and they feel very comfy indeed.

I shall not reveal so much about this book, as the title and the idea are pretty unique. Suffice to say it’s an urban fantasy adventure kind of thing with some horror and it’s got a lot to do with dreams.

Some inspiration.
Some inspiration.

The last two weeks I have worked in a blaze and did fully one quarter of the book. That’s 27000 words in two weeks, which for me is a hell of a lot of words. I’ve been getting up early to write before work, going home every evening to write after work, and my son probably thinks I am now part of the kitchen table as whenever he comes home from school, there I am, slouched over, squinting on the screen.

When I put the last word on the page at 7.35 this morning, I stared at the screen, with no idea how to react. And then I started to cry. I’m not sure if it was from relief, or happiness, or exhaustion, but cry I did. Nothing has felt this close to having a baby than actually watching my son’s mother having an actual baby.

Now I’m ploughing right into the next book (not a sequel to this one) which, for once, I will plan meticulously before writing. I suspect this might be the best way for me to work as with a plan I’m free to just write and not look back. And the new-born book will be put in a drawer and allowed to ferment and steam for six to eight weeks like a Christmas pudding. Because that’s what you gotta do.

And finally, here’s some music I listened to a hell of a lot while writing this — a seven-hour long ambient piece called “Somnium”. So put it on, float away and watch this space. (Or, better yet, this twitter space where I tend to post more than once every three months.)

/ paddy