San Francisco here I come.

So, I know I know I’ve been neglecting this blog. I’ve been far too busy working. It’s been overtimes’r’us but, there’s a reward awaiting me. It seems my jaunt to Vienna and Prague has set off the whole want to travel thing and so this time I’ve decided to go further afield. I suspect by the title you can guess where is calling me. Yes… the city by the bay which was or was not depending on how much faith you put in Starship, “built on Rock and Roll”. Prague and Vienna were brilliant incidentally, and one thing especially to note was hearing Clawfinger’s version of Vienna, played in a pub in Vienna, while I was wearing a Clawfinger shirt! BrIlliant!! Anyway, I digress…. I’d spent 2 months looking at San Francisco costs… and mentally beating myself up over spending that much money on myself and then thought “Sod it”, and so bought the flights.

In truth there was more than that to the hesitation. My situation at work has been precarious for months now. My year contract ended, half the staff were made redundant, and my own contract is being renewed on a monthly basis giving me no security whatsoever. My hours have changed also, from 2-10 to 12-8 meaning much more interaction with people I’d rather not be interacting with. I specifically wanted the 2-10 shift as it was going to save me money due to the antisocial hours (I.E. keeping me out of the pub haha) but also keeping the amount of people I worked with to a minimum! I know me. I have very little in common with most people and while I can bluff it to a point, to not have to is much less of a mental strain. The 12-8 shift means… people are rubbing me up the wrong way and I’m struggling not to bite.. and doubtless vice versa. I’m aware of several who see me as “different” (damn right I am! haha) and then react negatively to me, but also there are now people who know I dislike what they are too. It makes for a volatile place mentally to be at times.

Today was one such day. Someone decided to complain that I smelt bad!! In truth there may have been a whiff (did you see what I did there? *groans*) of reason behind it which was that… yes I sweat while I’m at work because it’s stupidly hot (something I’ve complained about incessantly) .. but in general the only thing I smell of is Hugo Boss! But.. I suspect it was simply a malicious way to try and have a dig at me, which duly then went all round the office. Entertainingly the people who actually work with me closely (as in .. in close proximity) all disagreed re: the smell but hey, the power of suggestion to those who don’t really know me, or do know the people who take issue with and favour them over me…. or indeed a neutral… that power is massively strong. Anyone being told I whiff… would then automatically project it onto me irrespective of anything else. It’s then pointless attempting to dissuade them because.. cognitive dissonance… they’ve made their choice and contrary evidence would then cause them to doubt themselves. I could of course cite the Pamela Dalton study : “two groups of people were given the same thing to smell. One group was told it was a chemical solvent, the other — a rain forest plant. After 15 minutes of smelling the odor, the group that thought they were smelling a chemical reported feeling sick. The group that thought it was a plant felt relaxed and even rejuvenated.”, but … like I say… once someone has been exposed to a negative cognitive stimuli.. there’s basically no point. Plus… why would I possibly know about such things… it’s not like I’ve ever studied cognitive behav….. oh wait!! However…. It’s entirely possible that the person who complained may well have been under the influence of someone else.. thus they’re not the responsible … or perhaps… it was just one of those things and I did whiff a little? Who knows? All I know is… it wasn’t a fun day at all! And I’m using too many “…”s!

So yes, it’s not been an easy ride since coming back from Prague. But, I’ve slung in the hours, and now I should at least for a few days be able to relax in some sun before coming back to the hovel I call home. Every now and again i think of things I probably shouldn’t. I recall my father telling me “You’ll never go nowhere and you’ll never do nothing” (yes I know… HOW many negatives?) but also I think about what might have been had the ex wife actually come across here in an attempt to save the marriage, and the lifestyle we could’ve had with us both earning. I worry at times that things like a trip abroad are nothing more than my mentally sticking up two fingers at them both as if to say “Screw you!”. Am I spending money as a form of metaphorical vitriolic spite, when instead I should be attempting to make the aforementioned hovel something more emotionally resembling a home? Does even the act of asking myself that question answer it? I do think at times it’s certainly a part of me, the whole “Screw you” thing… but I’d like to think that the majority is purely because I love the travel, the new experiences, and the taking of pictures while there. The bitter, contrasts nicely with the savory version of me, and I think serves a purpose of its own, which is to keep me alert to where I am mentally in my head. The bitter makes the the savory react and control it. Anger is a gift but it’s also an addictive one. That dopamine release needs to be controlled as it’s addictive. In Holland I used to bob back to the UK as a way to fight the pernicious insidious creeping of depression and desperation there, and it worked to a point. It kept me sane. I think here, over these last few months, I’ve spent too much time at work within time parameters which I didn’t originally agree to as a base, and it’s altered how I’ve coped with it. Watching things happen that I’m not ok with has messed with my ability to walk away from it at the end of the day and detach. But, things have changed again now and hopefully that will ease for the next few months. It’ll be May before I get a permanent contract, so I’m told though, so that sword of Damocles will linger for a few months longer. Such is life.

So, while I know it’s not been long since I last gallivanted, I think this time it’s a different thing. There’s not the stress of not knowing the language, and while I’ve not been specifically to SF before… I’ve done enough of the USA to know how it works. I’ll come back with jeans, probably trainers, and memories. Hopefully refreshed and back to my usual bouncy self. Until then I’ll leave you with a very sad picture of me in Vienna, still with hair, and a daft hat because…. it was 40c there! Where I come from that’s a bra size not a temperature!

Alistair Wiseman

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