Hell is Other People

The hunt for digs is on. What fresh hell will I discover this time round.

I hate flat hunting.

It’s a reminder that you can put a price on freedom and it’s somewhere between  £600 and £800 pcm. It’s a small price to pay for sanity I suppose. That’s only if this group of flatmates doesn’t drive me up the wall.

On the whole I’m a live alone type of gal.

I did it for 5 years quite happily and enjoy my own company. There was no one to answer to. I could have whoever I wanted over, for as long as I wanted. No one complained about me smoking, or told me I couldn’t have a pet. I could dance around in my underwear eating Cheetos, listening to Nina Simone.

They were truly great times.

The only downsides were when I’d freak out after a Special Victims Unit marathon and barricade myself in the bedroom with the cat for protection. Or when my pervy landlord would decide to pay a visit while I was in the shower.

It was still bearable for a rent controlled, two bedroom apartment in an up and coming part of Mexico City. And all at the bargain cost of £350 a month.

I should never have left.

I definitely shouldn’t have moved into student housing.

Sharing a bathroom is the quickest way of learning that hell is other people. There’s nothing like realising someone’s been using your razor to shave their face, or your Femfresh to shower, to make you want to use their toothbrush to clean the thick ring they left in the bath tub.

I don’t like inconsiderate people.

How do you fail to realise that your hair won’t clean itself out of the drain?  Or that screaming about your love life with your rabbi over Skype at 11pm on a school night isn’t considerate?

It’s a catch 22 situation.

They seem nice, like all people do in the wild. But you’re only going to really get to know them by living with them. Sometimes it’s great- like my first flatshare in Barcelona- or the well intentioned, albeit stingy, clown who would practice his schtick on me.

And sometimes you are woken up by a woman who has decided to dress exactly like you, in your clothes, and even squeeze her size 5 feet into your size 3 Nikes.

It’s like Russian roulette. Only instead of shooting yourself, you may end up with a flatmate who gets drunk and mutters menacing threats through your door, as you cry into a body pillow.

Let’s hope speed flat mate hunting holds a regular couple of alcohol loving, neat freaks to bunk down with.

Pray for me.

 

So this is Christmas

 

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Not this year it isn’t…

John Lewis and shiny stuff would lead most of us to believe that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas can be pretty wonderful: friends you haven’t seen in years, time with family, spreading joy, giving and receiving, great food, the list goes on. This year my attitude, normally on a par with Buddy the Elf, is a bit more like the weather: lukewarm.

Christmas comes but once a year. At least that was my mantra in past years when I forced a smile when being nagged by my parents about when I was going to meet a nice boy. Or when I was being nagged about when I was going to move closer to home. Or when I was wincing at drunken shouting and trivial arguments. Or when I was joining in on the shouting. I still managed a smile because a week down the line I would be back on a plane and far away. Future conversations could be tolerated. Or at least muted.

This year Christmas feels like it is building up to be Wrestlemania. All the previously small bouts that have taken place lover the last four months will now culminate in this one off spectacular event.

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All things festive

There is no tapping out.

A chair may be employed as a last minute act of desperation.

My plan to hide in the gym was thwarted. I may no longer have any idea what day of the week it is, but most of the normal working world have been counting the sleeps until they could go out, get battered, safe in the knowledge there was no getting up at 7 am the next morning.

This is my life.

Maybe that’s why my cheer isn’t as cheery. The biggest factor in my love of Christmas was desperate relief. The winter term was the longest one at school. After seven weeks of crowd control, marking, observations and prising kids off windows and walls, I wanted to sleep for two weeks. It’s like the Eddie Murphy joke about the cracker you get offered after weeks in the desert.

Christmas was the best cracker I had ever eaten.

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Christmas Hip Hop Carousel

Every day is like Christmas now. In the sense I get to stay at home watching bad television, balancing my finances and drinking anything mulled. All I’ve been missing over the last four months was a festive hat at a jaunty angle.

The traditional Christmas dinner is also a festive selling point.

Roast potatoes, Turkey, Christmas pudding, even sprouts, there’s something about that Christmas spread. It warms the heart.

As I sit staring at the swede that will be the crowning joy in vegan Christmas, I find it hard to get excited.

My brother is an excellent cook. It will be a Vegetarian/Vegan delight. But it’s not quite Christmas this year.

I nearly went full Scrooge when Facebook asked if I wanted to see what 2015 looked like. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The Ghosts of Facebook Statuses past have helped me to gain some perspective this Christmas Eve.

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Still smiling. Kind of

This hasn’t been my worst Christmas. Not by a long shot.

There was the Christmas Air France lost all my luggage. The Christmas I lost my phone in a taxi on the way to the airport. The Christmas I nearly lost my hand and had to have surgery. Last Christmas, when  I was sent blow by blow details of how my then boyfriend liked to get down in the bedroom, and then had to spend the day comforting him.

This has been quite an uneventful festive season in retrospect.

Christmas has it’s good points. I get to make it magical for my nephew.  I stay up watching cheesy movies and playing board games with my siblings. It’s the only time of the year when I can hit reset with my parents and start afresh. I also get to see friends I love and laugh. Drunkenly.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If I let it be.

So I’m going to get me some wine and listen to Jingle Bell Rock until the spirit of Christmas, or Christmas spirits restore me to my normally hyperactive Christmas state.
Happy holidays. Get merry. ’tis the season.

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The long road to insanity

The phenomenon of having to live with your parents again  after years of independence, is not something that I am experiencing alone. It’s pretty much standard practice for Londoners, especially with housing being priced the way it is. So when you are changing career and have no income you should thank your lucky stars that your parents will have you. You decide to use those years of worldly experience and let grown up you handle life with the folks. Unless they are my parents that is. No one is mature enough for that. My parents make me wonder how I ever managed to act like a functional member of society for so long. Maybe it’s adjusting to home life again. Indian families, have their own brand of crazy. I don’t know if they are crazy like my folks are though. There was a reason I left so young and so quickly. Sadly, had I put more thought into my escape I wouldn’t have been forced to move back because of finances. Sometimes I feel like I deserve a Pride of Britain award for not spontaneously combusting after a week in their company.

Many a laugh has been had at the expense of our torturous relationship. Friends want to meet my Dad, buy him a drink, think my mother is quaint and traditional. To these people I say: NO. There is nothing cute or eccentric about either of them. If I didn’t know better I would think they had been weaponised to make the enemy go mad in closed spaces. Maybe it’s me overreacting, I’m always being told that it can’t be that bad. I have decided to dole out the crazy in installments, so you can judge for yourself without the harmful side effects.

The never ending noise

As a talkative person who has been affectionately called a ‘big mouth” and inspired more inquisitive minds to wonder if I would ever shut up, I have a pretty good tolerance for noise. It generally doesn’t tend to bother me. I enjoy a good conversation, a stimulating discussion, an impassioned debate, just as much as the next person. Just not all day long. Definitely not if I am not needed to have said conversation. Much less so when it is screamed at me because the other participants are almost completely deaf. This is where my Dad is a viking. He doesn’t need an audience nor a conversation opener it would seem. He often starts in the middle with “So I told him…” It takes a while before I even realised the conversation is aimed at me. When he tries to have a discussion he thinks calling me a moron is helping to develop the debate. This is normally when I tap out and put my headphones on. He does get sulky when he can see you’re ignoring him, which often leads to very animated discussions with the television. When he and my Mum ‘talk’ it could be easily misinterpreted as an argument. The police have been called more than once. Occasionally he bursts into song which then makes my mother burst into song and we then have a Bollywood sing off at 9pm. Delightful.  Imagine this all day every day. I no longer leave my room if I am home without a sibling.

Practical Joker

When I was a teen it was the bane of my life. The fake letters in the post, the phone calls, the ‘hilarious caricatures’ where I was covered in acne and arm hair. What every sensitive 14 year old girl needs. My Dad can actually be quite a funny guy, but too often it’s at the expense of someone else and you need to remind yourself, he is a small old man whom you will gain zero satisfaction from killing. He is constantly making up songs about how I have no friends, or how I am stupid, but to a jazzy tune like Copacabana, so it can’t really be seen as cruel. Nothing sounds mean when sung right? Wrong. It’s actually the karaoke equivalent of “Why do you keep hitting yourself?” You can only be called an idiot 27 times in a row before you start developing a twitch. I know. I have tested it out. In an attempt to save my sanity I have started smoking again, Unfortunately unless I start smoking crack or dosing myself with Ketamine, it won’t be enough. My Mum feigns sleep, only having a sneaky peek to see if she can sit up and finish off the rest of the peanuts before he comes back to share his latest joke. He doesn’t need you to be awake to talk at you…

Over Sharing

Since I can remember being able to understand my Dad’s anecdotes about his reckless youth, I have begged my father to keep his personal life and sexual commentary to himself. He retells it like the Adventures of Emmanuelle, only it’s being told by a man who isn’t wearing his teeth yet. Player Player.  I doubt the film franchise would have had the same international success, had it been told by a wheezy, 76 year old Emmanuelle. No one needs to know that, nor do they want to picture that. The number of times I have wanted to stab myself in the ear after some comment my father has made about some scantily clad woman on the TV, or when he has managed to crowbar in a story of his sexual hey day, well I would have slowly stabbed myself to death. My cries of “Inappropriate!” are ignored. I am a prude, it would seem. According to him, once you pass 18 everything gets put on the table. Maybe this is why most people leave home around that age. Now I am back and using his electricity, the only way out of hearing it, is to get up and go. He’ll remember though. Next time I am hungover and unable to move on the sofa, he will pick up where he left off and there isn’t enough Rohypnol in the world…

Human compost heap

Both my parents seem to think that I double as a garbage disposal. They are both impulsive shoppers, easily swayed by a BOGOF campaign. My mother is the worst offender. She will come home after one of her walkabouts around London, with an bag filled with random snacks that have taken her fancy and will then proceed to push them on you like her life depending on your consumption of these goods. “Have you had a Battenberg?” She will ask this question seven times in a day, often minutes after the previous time and then finally approach me in all severity, pause the telly and instruct me that it is my job to eat all the remaining Battenberg as it now stale. After three hours. The same is done for any food in the fridge going off. Many a time have I walked into the dining room to see a plate with a stale cake, a watery looking piece of fruit, some hummous that I didn’t know we had and a packet of Golden Wonder, and walked back out before she could make me eat it. When I have returned later in the evening I can still hear her ranting about her ungrateful children and my dad’s inability to force us to eat food. The key is to wait until they’re asleep and throw the food into the recycling bin. She seems to be so much happier in the morning and if I fake stomach cramps I get a cup of tea thrown in to boot. Ironically when she gets food that we all love, we are all rationed one piece each and god forbid you should eat more than your share. Believe me, there is hell to pay when that happens.

Tomorrow we will cover drunken MJ impressions and learning shame. For now I have managed to convince myself to take a walk to the pub. It’s what a grown up would do.