Protecting Anastasia

It can be so easy to forget yourself.  To lose what makes you intrinsically you and to lose track of what makes you happy.  And happiness is never just relief, or settling for a single broken rose in a wasteland.  It’s something more than that – a warm light inside your chest that turns your red t-shirt orange and draws you on a carpet made of tears from every person who has ever treated you like a cunt.

Working as much as I have done recently, and putting up with all the bullshit, you start to feel yourself being diluted.  Happiness turns into an early finish, whereupon I will slump down in front of the laptop.  No photos to edit.  No inclination to write.  Just a few YouTube videos, maybe a documentary or two and suddenly I’ve lost another evening and I need to sleep.

It doesn’t help having to deal with my new boss who possesses idiocy in such eyeball popping concentrations that you do wonder how she dresses herself every morning.  Driving into work the other day, I nearly ran her over but she was walking a dog so I put my brakes on.  Every meeting in her presence, I get the urge to commit acts of real horrorshow, sticky red macadam, lost in the trance of a rhythmic beating.  But I am a gentle soul really.  I wouldn’t hurt a fly, unless it lost its wings, grew another pair of legs and became a spider.  I feel that it is time for a change.  My job is not fun anymore.  This corner of the country feels incestuous.  The centre of everyone’s universes, where people are grouped into those you’ve already fucked and those you probably will.  Going to work every day, I may as well get paid to breathe through a plastic bag wrapped around my head.

Change is good.  I have so much to look forward to, so there is no reason to deal with this anymore and to allow myself to slip back into bad habits.  It’s why I hop about so much these days.  Coming up I am looking forward to a day out in York with a good friend.  A long weekend in Edinburgh with a good friend.  Seeing a band I’ve been waiting to experience live since I was 17.  Another trip south; another trip to London with all the freaks and ghouls.  Perhaps a trip or two across the Pennines where it always rains.  I’d like to run through the old railway tunnels again, remembering stepping stones in the dark and fighting off angry Belgians for a girl I had a crush on (long story).  All of these experiences will launch me out of the empty snow-globe that is working life right now, spending days with people I adore in cities that inspire or have made me like so many Dr Frankensteins.

Today I boarded a train to go somewhere, hoping (as always) that it wouldn’t derail.  Leaving my town you pass through great hissing industrial serpents.  Pipes coil everywhere, the landscape blasted as fire rips out from the sides of enormous metal boxes watched cautiously by men in hard hats.  Chimneys spew fire like beacons anticipating invasion.  I find Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol 2 a perfect soundtrack to this, the low menacing throbs giving way to the scenery dashing past.

A great piece of art or music or a piece of text reminds me of who I am sometimes when all the bullshit is covering my shoes and threatening my knees.  It’s when I remember that I – and we – aren’t like the people who are content to stay in the same dull job for the rest of their lives, looking forward to drinking with other British people in Spain, and never actually feeling anything.

I went to see the new David Lynch exhibition; the first time it has left the US and it came to little old Middlesbrough, a town with a better character than its reputation deserves.  His drawings were interesting but I liked his photos more – all grimy black and white pictures from the late 80’s of industrial wrecks.  I would be overjoyed if Lynch had visited Middlesbrough with her industrial serpents and decided that this was the one place that would appreciate it.

Art shit, along with music shit and word shit… it is like nourishment for the soul, if you’ll forgive such a wanky expression.  I walked into the exhibit feeling tired, my mind cluttered by nonsense and crooked paving stones.  I left, smiling at the pretty art students with their multicoloured hair in the lobby, and I put my headphones on.  With a brain full of Lynch and Aphex Twin, I ventured into the Christmas shopping crowds who, instead of crashing my shoulders, all parted like the Red Sea when they saw me coming.

Shoulders back, chin up..

I was invincible again.

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