Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eight things I loved about March

~8~ Turning 36: I'm not sure I'm exactly happy about turning 36 years old. I suppose I am happy that I didn't not turn 36 years old -- i.e., I'm happy I lived to be 36 years old -- but I didn't really do a Finally Made It To 36 jig on the morning of 20 March. Perhaps I should have. After all, as of that day I became two parts eligible to run for president of the United States (I remain ineligible, however, because I have not spent the last seven years living in the country). Additionally in the United States, I became old enough on that day to legally have sex with someone half my age. Here in Britain, I think Jenn would strongly object to the latter and probably not be all that keen on the former, either.
Jenn took the day off for my birthday and we went on a walk along the coast, near Llanilltud Fawr. We ate our lunch on a windy sea cliff and Jenn produced a bottle of ale to go with our sandwiches. Then she put a candle in a lemon cupcake and spent five minutes unsuccessfully attempting to light it. It was the sort of thing that would be in a Why Chris Adores Jenn montage in the film version of my life.
Turning 36 has induced a certain amount of introspection leading to all kinds of laments about whether I could have built a better life by now. I suppose that all depends on the unit of measurement -- something I can never decide on. I too often change the rules on myself to ensure that I lose.
The negative spin is that of an unemployed, bankrupt and artistically limited misanthrope growing a year closer to his death. The positive spin is a budding author sitting in the soft, thick Marram grass with a beautiful girl -- the two of them in love and laughing as they share a birthday picnic -- knowing that he has within him the ability to fulfil his ambition. 

~8~ Progress Wrestling: Celebration of my birthday carried into the weekend, when Jenn and I travelled out to London to visit with my old friend, Jennifer, and her husband, Dave. Seeing Jen and Dave is enough a treat in itself. I've generally come to put them in the mental category of "family" rather than "friends," so fond am I of them. That fondness has rubbed off on Jenn to the extent she will sometimes copy their style in decorating our flat.
The weekend was one of good food and games and deep talks and cheesy jokes. But it was highlighted by the fact that we went to see a show put on by the fledgling Progress Wrestling promotion. It's pretty well-established that I am fond of professional wrestling and one of my favourite wrestlers, Colt Cabana, was part of the show. I was looking forward to it but worried it would bore/annoy my companions. As it turned out, we had a great time. The crowd was vocal and it turned out to be one of the best overall wrestling shows I've ever seen (though I've seen better individual matches).
One of the highlights was getting to meet Colt Cabana and shake his hand. I walked away from the experience with an autographed Colt Cabana T-shirt, which is now my favourite article of clothing ever. I may insist on wearing it on my wedding day.
There's a fair bit of footage to give you a feel for the show on my vlog from that weekend.

~8~ Writing: I've been adding writing to my list of eight things for a few months now, but keep in mind that I spent almost all of 2011 in a kind of writer's block. Memory of that writer's block keeps me in a state of constant fear and uncertainty about my writing. I still feel I am not really clicking as I could, and I am terrified to wake up one day and find that I have again lost that strange mental-emotional filament that connects talent and ambition and industriousness to create good writing. Each month that passes in which I can claim to have actually written something more than a Welsh-language column and an Eight Things post, is one for which I am thankful.

~8~ Being awarded a bursary by Literature Wales: At the moment, the primary focus of my writing is on the book I've tentatively titled Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama. In March (and the last few days of February), I received an emotional boost in writing the book when I got some good news that I wasn't allowed to tell anyone. I made reference to it in February's Eight Things post. I can now finally tell you the good news is that I am to receive a bursary from Literature Wales to work on the book. I wasn't allowed to publicise that until the unsuccessful candidates had been informed. Myself having thrice been an unsuccessful candidate for this bursary in the past, I could imagine how much it would suck to have received rejection in a secondhand way like that. Rejection is shitty, but it's worse when it doesn't come through official channels.
When the 2009 Book of the Year list was being compiled I thought I might have a shot with Cwrw Am Ddim. I found out that I was not on the long list when Siân mentioned her book, Y Trydydd Peth, being on the list well before it was released to the public. For some reason, finding out that way made it hurt worse.
Tales of a Toffee-Covered Llama will be my second English-language book and I am hoping it will have a bit more support/momentum/success than The Way Forward. The fact I've received this kind of an endorsement from Literature Wales makes me optimistic and has given me a sense of purpose that I was somewhat struggling to develop before. I am hoping to have a solid version of the book, ready to be torn apart by an editor, sometime in mid- to late-summer.

~8~ One year of vloggery: As one creative outlet builds the other ebbs. March saw the completion of one full year of vlogging every day. It was an interesting project and has provided me with an audio-visual record of thousands of little moments that are otherwise lost in the day to day. It was a good reminder that life is not so horrible as I sometimes feel it to be when lost in the grip of my swingy-uppy-downy broken brain. But the daily vlog was also incredibly time-consuming. "Writer" is the single word I am so desperate to use in describing myself. Being a daily vlogger was, I think, cutting into that. So, as soon as the anniversary was reached the nature of the vlog was changed. I am now putting up videos just twice a week. That may change, too. We'll see.

~8~ Jenn getting a new job: There is some sort of bloggery conventional wisdom that suggests I should not tell you the organisation of which Jenn became an employee in March, though I'm not entirely certain why it would matter. Without doubt, Jenn is very happy to have gotten the job and proud to be doing something that makes a difference in terms of both health and environment. For the next several months she will be part of a campaign encouraging people to make more use of sustainable transportation like trains, buses, bikes, feet, etc. I am very proud of her and, I will admit to you, just a bit jealous that she has an opportunity to do a job that actually means something. It is one of those jobs I've always dreamed of having.

~8~ Interviewing for a job: This one is kind of a lie. I didn't love interviewing for a job. I didn't love the job for which I was interviewing. I didn't love being rejected for the job. I didn't love how the job for which I interviewed mishandled that rejection. I didn't love continuing to be poor. I didn't love continuing to be out of full-time work. Indeed, there is nothing to love about the fact that I have been mostly unemployed for so long. It has become a kind of weird mental plague of its own, sapping me of my limited self-confidence. And it is something which exacerbates my natural swingy-uppy-downy broken brain. It is a slow, inescapable muck that makes me bitter and fills me with sickness (physical and mental). I hate how useless and impotent I feel, and that anger spills all over the place into things that may or may not be directly linked. For instance, few are the days I do not want to open the window and shout, "FUCK YOU, WALES," despite the rather valid argument against placing blame for the global economic downturn on the shoulders of one of the global economy's least influential players. That's just how I feel, man.
But what I do love -- and when I say "love" what I mean is "take melancholy pride in" -- is that I am carrying on. The job interview I had in March was the first in more than a year. Being rejected was crushing. But I am back now to applying constantly, building contacts and trying. Always trying. I have dreams of one day selling books, but in the meantime I am pushing, trying to find something that will pay the bills, something that will help us build up enough money to pay for a wedding, something that will help us build a better life.

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