Some things

mandala

I am barely awake before thrust into a world far stranger than the dreams that had proceeded. I sit with the boy in his room and follow strict instruction. I must construct a dinosaur out of Duplo bricks. It must be tall and strong and yellow. Containing a door, slide and a gate apparently. Meanwhile he creates a robot of a less precise nature.

I do my best, managing to keep it symmetrical and give it some likeness: head, feet, tail made from the slide (not my first rodeo). He likes it. So much so that he immediately dismantles it, and uses its skeleton to form a zoo. How meta.

Just like the Marble Run tracks that I obsessively construct to turn into a race with an unknowable outcome, to teach him that winning and losing are both fun aspects of a game – he celebrates by immediately taking it apart, sometimes so carefully that I find it difficult to pinpoint the emotion I’m feeling.

It happens on such a regular basis that I have stopped insisting that we leave a fully constructed dinosaur on the bedside, or have a few races before packing away the circuit. I let it go. I move onto the next thing. And still I will put the same level of effort into it because what would be the point otherwise.

I’m being taught a lesson here – of the transient nature of creation, how something is never complete or perfect, it is just one in a series of things, a necessary intermediate between this and the next. There’s another dinosaur in here somewhere, or better yet a zoo that will house Batman along with the fish and polar bears, because after all he’s not merely a man.

A bit grandiose I realise but it makes sense to me the more I repeat it, and I’m getting pretty good with these bricks.

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only human

First time I’ve broken a phone-screen this past weekend. The buttons I used to be so fond of meant that my handsets were quite sturdy so they survived constantly being dropped. Now I’m onto a touchscreen smartphone like the rest of the world, I sat on it awkwardly and broke it.

Fortunately I pay insurance for moments like this. Unfortunately insurance is a scam that has been designed to test me, my patience and my grip on reality.

Apparently 3 Mobile offer a 24 hour replacement service. However, if you’re account was opened by your mother 15 years prior and since then your attempts at changing the name and authorisation have been ignored or forgotten, this means a total of over 5 hours on the phone explaining your fictionally estranged family dynamic to various strangers through gritted teeth.

I treated each phone operator as opponents on successive levels of this arcade game and each ended phone call as Game Over – before having to start again, no cheat codes in the form of extension numbers.

Of all my burned phone-time – 10% was them repeating themselves (their advice and the process) 20% was me repeating myself (my problems and describing the ways that they should kill themselves) whilst 70% was being kept on hold, listening to the music carefully selected to calm me down, instead winding me up to the point of poisonous rage.

Hitting a wall I would receive the same Combo-breaking cool-down period in which I am forced to listen to Rag’n’Bone man as a buffer, explaining how these poor telephone operators are only human after all and that I shouldn’t put my blame on them – ‘some people have real problems’ apparently.

I am livid.

I am rage incarnate.

I could crush this phone in my hand but won’t for fear of having to repeat the process.

Now I’m fully aware that ‘hold music’ is calculated, that lyrics with the words ‘hold’ or ‘wait’ are swerved in order to not remind you of the length of time you are waiting, but this is a bit on the nose isn’t it? The audacity. I feel like each person who puts me on hold is giving me a time-out to think about how angry I’m getting – I can picture them leaning back in their chair wearing a smug grin, not even pretending to make any progress, poking and prodding me. I should appreciate these fuckers as gurus, they will bring me to enlightenment. Or at least they would if I could get past the violent fantasises.

The first operator was called Angelo. The second Michael. With enough time to ponder I see the connection. If the boss of the next level is called Leonard, Donna or Splinter, I’m going to start breaking things.

So now I’m three days without a phone and zero progress has been made.

Wooosaaahh

B12

Finally acknowledged the hypocrisy and given up meat. I’ve always liked animals and turns out that it takes very little to keep more of them alive, just eat less of them. Or don’t eat them at all, eat something similar.

Anyways, this alignment of my actions and ideals has synchronised perfectly with some brilliant films released this year, listed below as supplementary recommendations:

Raw

Favourite film of the year so far, no question. Wrote a review/ analysis available here – but would advise to watch it without knowing anything. Dark, funny and stylish.

Okja

Bong Joon Ho’s Netflix released political satire takes the form of a fantasy adventure film. This one is dark and funny but in separate blows, which in turn have huge consequences. Big dose of stylism too. A unique and fascinating watch.

Carnage

TV film that is a little more on the nose with it’s points and pretty effective for it. Made me give up milk anyway.

(I used to love drinking milk like an infantilised film villain and didn’t know how it was procured. So fuck it – Hazelnut milk tastes great by itself and Soy goes fine in coffee.)

 

Bonus revisit:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

 

Iconic horror film that has a sly meat is murder subtext going on.

pendulum

Turns out children are a pretty complex species, which I’m sure I’ll learn to accept soon enough. But craving consistency I keep thinking the child has locked into a certain way of being, his personality decided – for better or worse.

There was a patch where he was pure evil. And what I mean by that is that he was curious to the point of defying instruction. Perfectly normal it turns out. So when he would see his bowl full of cereal and think about what reaction it would have, that I would have, if he were to swipe it off the table and proceed to splash around the milk whilst holding eye contact with me, I’m sure he was just seeing what would happen, and that it wasn’t a demon taking residence in the body of my child. Ahh the rosey tint of retrospect.

So it was with welcomed surprise last week that I could stop thinking about moving house as he turned to pure gold. We had our day together – Daddy Dave (the ‘v’ fell into the pronunciation and we haven’t corrected it just yet) – and he was full of love and energy, reminding me constantly of how I’m his best friend and that he loves me. Later I asked what he wanted to do and he proposed that he go to bed, stopping to brush his teeth en route. I follow to read a few him his bedtime stories and he has already tucked himself in. Perfect, if not suspicious, child. Almost more unsettling than when he went full Damian.

So there goes me, smugly reassured of this new angelic child. Until Fathers Day just passed.

We had tried potty training a little while back and it was just to difficult to keep up with the amount of washing when there were accidents. But now, in his newly perfect mode he seemed to be taking to it just fine. Well. Fathers Day. Nico asks the boy if he needs the potty: he looks down at his dry trousers, back up at her and presents his growing piss patch with a stage magician’s “tadaaa” adding a little leg kick as a flourish. At least he’s a showman about it. But all I can think to do is hold him down whilst Nico fetches the bible.

Update: Daddy Dave just passed and the pendulum has once again swung in the other direction. Fully aware and using the potty his ownself, no accidents for four days straight now. Lovely as ever, but I keep my bags packed and holy water handy on the off-chance.

gaming the system

Terrible twos. A horrible throwaway term that encompasses a great many emotional developments. A shorthand between parents maybe, but still it stands in for something individual and a lot more complex.

A couple of the most recent Machiavellian flourishes that little Jtown has mastered in the last couple of weeks:

Playing hide and seek and, because I’m a pro, he goes looking for me for a little while. I watch as he runs into the living room, peers around the usual places (like I said, professional) and then calls out “Daddy! You my best friend”. I die a little in silence, long enough though to see him turn around a look for movement before trying it in another room, bating me to react.

Or more recently, Nico was giving Jackson a time-out. Pretty upset by the ordeal he brilliantly found a way to distract her from the process and asked “You love me?” and then cuddled her when she said yes. Now maybe he was just looking for assurance while being told off, I wasn’t even there – but I can imagine his demonic smile over her shoulder as she comforts him.

Cleverclever.