A Day at ‘Work’ (A Prisoner’s Diary II)

11.21am

So I’m (totally not) hiding in the security camera blindspot at work and watching the camera feed. I can keep an eye out for customers and my (totally not) great manager. I’ve been here for about 10 minutes now and nothing has really moved on any camera – so I got to thinking of all the better things to do with my time that I shouldn’t be doing at work… And here we are.

11.34am

A short lived conversation sparked. My colleague said he couldn’t believe there had been no customers for more than 30 minutes. I said “yeah, it’s great”.

….

Immatakeashit

11.42am

A wild customer appears. She looks as surprised as we are to be here…

For context I work in a food place. I won’t say where, because mystery is great. We (totally don’t) eat fresh here.

The confused human approaches the till. She retreats again to scan the menu.

11.43am

Having proved to great a challenge, she abandons the menu and opens the drinks machine’s (transparent) doors to have a look inside…

11.45am

Having decided she only wanted a bottle of water she is seen to by my colleague and flees the scene…. Only to be replaced by two new comers. I guess I better get up…

11.47am

Quick, professional service, a kindly worded ‘fuck off’, and the quiet emptiness is restored within the store.

1 hour 13 minutes to go….

12.06pm

My base of (non) operation has been compromised. I’ve been banished to the sinks to wash up. I could have sworn they told me not to do that and to leave it until after lunch less than an hour ago.

12.08pm

I don’t know why I’m still recording these events. I now have to stop what I’m doing to dry my hands and type here. I suppose I can drag this out for 50 minutes if I keep doing this.

12.30pm

A thought occurs to me: I am writing prisoner diaries, but I enter entrapment in these places, whether it be a sandwich shop or a non-smoking house, of my own volition. There are layers to this that I really cannot be bothered to peel right now.

12.37pm

I’ve returned to the blind spot as the manager and owner have left the store, but I don’t know if they are out back or if they’ve left properly. Either way, an opportunity to be paid for doing nothing has arisen…. Kinda shit pay, but then again I’m not really doing any work: just doing my time.

12.43pm

Ordinarily I would take an opportunity like this to go for a cigarette, but it would be just my luck to roll up and open the door to the manager and owner. There are no breaks in Mein Kampf.

(Edit: I have been informed that ‘Kampf’ means ‘fight’. I learned something today, but I’m sure the nazi reference makes it through)

17 long minutes to go.

12.50pm

As it turns out, they were having a ‘very important’ meeting out back by the dumpsters. I know their tricks…

It’s really not that bad – relatively speaking – but my tolerance for the workplace and, well, people in general, has rapidly declined in the last few months.  So I complained in blog format to kill 90 minutes.

You know what they say: bitch about something long enough….

Endofcommunication.

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Anniversary

Here we are again.

The radio silence has been broken.

I have been absent for more than a month now. Truth be told, I can’t work out if I had simply lost my voice, or simply had nothing to say. Not to be melodramatic or anything, just a temporary feeling of voicelessness: an imaginary constriction of both physical and metaphorical vocal capacities. But I’m here now.

sorry

It’s been a year since I started this blog. 12 months since the very first post. I’d love to serve my ego by talking about how much I’ve learned, and how much I’ve grown with the time and experience, but fuck that. I will settle for saying I am different from how I was last year. I just wanted to mark the occasion with saying something – anything.

I am conscious that February 2016 has no entity in this space. It’s empty. Recently however, I was invited by one of my lecturer’s to a reading event for Creative Writers. This was an opportunity to stand in front of a microphone, as well as a small audience, and read an original piece of work. After a weekend of procrastinating, I accepted the invitation. With some hindsight, I probably should have considered having something ready to present beforehand.

Jackscompletelackofsurprise

Nevertheless, I wrote something the night before, and gave my first ever reading. Not just a reading, but for the first time I shared a piece of creative work publicly outside of this blog. I thought I’d share it here, as I’ve been told that it may be ‘enjoyable’ to read. That is for you to decide, though.

It’s simply called ‘Who is John Fisher?’

———————————————————————

Who is John Fisher?

Who the fuck wants to know?

I’m sorry. What I mean is ‘who really cares?’

I know a little about John Fisher. So do most people in town – it’s not a big place. He’s a young guy – makes sandwiches at the deli during the day; works the bar watering the people at night. Some folks used to see the guy twice a day on a regular basis. Sure, they’d recognise his face in a missing persons ad, but they’d likely draw a blank on a name. Even if the ad’s been circulating for a couple months.

You hear about Sally Palmer? Works the kiosk at the convenience store just round the corner from here. You know, the one that sells the ‘under the counter’ stuff? Come on, we all know about it. We just don’t talk about it because we like to save our money and get our fix. Cheap cigarettes, drugs, whatever we want without danger of Johnny Law sniffing around our business. Anyway, nobody’s seen her in a few weeks either. The guy that owns the store says she just never showed up for work one afternoon, and he hasn’t heard from her since. He hasn’t a clue why people have suddenly stopped coming to the store on such a regular basis.

I could name a few other people; a few also regular missing person faces in the paper lately. I don’t need to tell you, but nobody really talks about them. Nobody calls the cops with a tip, a sighting, or any useful information. Reason being that they just don’t have anything to offer. All people want is to be fed, to be sedated, to be served. The hand that feeds changing is just a mundane interruption. So who cares, right?

Well, tell the truth, you should. John is the guy that feeds your fat face in the day, and liquors you up at night so you can abandon your shame. Sally counters the government’s ever-increasing tax hikes for us simple-Joes so we can smoke, drink and get high off our asses even when the money gets tight. Mark keeps the streets clear so you don’t get yesterday’s trash in your beamer’s wheel arches on the way to work each day. Ralph provides the security in your neighbourhood. Marilyn ensures your mail gets to your every morning. Sam waits your table. These people keep your lives running every single day. When enough of these people disappear, you will find that the people you do know will also start going missing. Folks who run your errands. Folks who maintain your personal life style. Folks whose names you’ll know, and can’t replace so easily. Just imagine your assistant, or caterer, or driver, or general ass-wiper disappearing without warning. You wouldn’t survive a day. These people run your life.

I know this because an idea is like a virus: give it the right conditions and it will spread and spread, latching onto every suitable host and reproducing the ideology until it amasses a body that poses a threat to the status quo. In layman’s terms, these no-names that you hear about – that guy at the deli, that girl at the store – are hosts to the same virus that will infect and collapse your lifestyle. You will no longer be a happy consumer in Camp Capitalism. You’ll be left with just your own two hands: one to wish in, and one to shit in. And you best hope this virus doesn’t reach you, because whilst these missing people are just carriers of the idea, you won’t fare so well with affliction. Your face won’t be in the missing persons ads like theirs. Yours will appear in the obituaries.

You don’t like that much, do you? Cheer up! What do I know – right? You may live a long happy life, and every morning will start for you like something out of your own idealistic fairy tale. Tomorrow always comes. Don’t let me spook you with stories about John Fisher.

After all, I’m just the guy who makes your sandwiches.

—————————————————————–

I realised midway through writing this that I had fused an existing idea with an exerpt of ‘Fight Club’. One thing I can say I have learned in the last year is that this is no bad thing. No idea is wholly original anymore, and some of the best stories are heavily influenced by older ones. I didn’t really receive feedback beyond the comments  of ‘good job’ and ‘nice one’ – things you’d expect to see scribbled at the end of primary school homework – but I broke a barrier with this. I have written a short piece that is complete. I have shared it, unashamed. I have reasserted my control over my voice.

Moving past ‘Forgotten February’, I hope to build further here.

Thank you for following me thus far.

office yay

 

Listening To: Kingdom Hearts Orchestra: World Tour

khc

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Testing: 1,2,2017

Happy New Year – that’s what people say when January rolls around, right?

I had full and honest intentions to write something for New Year’s Day – you know, to mark the occasion or whatever. 2017 had other plans – so long story short, as is plain to see, that did not happen.

This is going to be a quick one, just to say, essentially, that I’m not dead.

I have my first exam since starting university in three hours. English Literature. I figured that as I’ve tired of flash reading tragedies I’d get the juices running and write something now. It’s going to be total shit (say sorry), but the hope is to get my system clear ahead of time. If you care for cutting through the dressing, I’m doing this to kill some time and procrastinate. I’ve always preferred to wing it and rely on what I know anyway. Does that sound irresponsible? Trust me, I’ll be fine.

mybodyisready

In terms of news, I have abandoned the use of Facebook for personal means. This caused some panic as I gave no warning of this and, in conjunction with getting a new number recently, a fair few people have been unable to reach me or find out why I had disappeared off their radar. I maintain it was a positive choice as I find that I barely check social media for mindless scrolling purposes now, and am generally more productive with my time. Think, if I hadn’t removed the distraction, I may not have managed to get a few days of revision squeezed in before my exams.

Anyway, wish me luck. I’m more or less ‘awake’ now, and have very little else to share. So….

 

 

Listening To: Final Fantasy IX OST

artworks-000121120682-65h20x-t500x500

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Voice & Style

15230654_10157851245340574_8384833752237177444_nIn my writing adventures, learning theory and demonstrating new knowledge in practice, I have been educated in several important elements to writing in which I was either unaware of said element or unaware of its universal application. By the latter, I mean how a tool or mechanic in writing fiction or poetry can be used in the same ways in non fiction essays, biographies and instruction. Some of these are more subtle than others, going largely unnoticed but still appreciated by the reader (and sometimes, perhaps, the writer), whereas others are obvious and aid us to appreciate a passage of text as fluid, coherent and embodying a core purpose.

Being naive and often flippant in my own writing across most mediums, I had not considered how a writer’s ‘voice’ is present in their writing, and across their works. I had gathered that a distinct ‘style’ of writing can be detected, regardless of whether the text is fiction or non fiction, but had not considered that part of that style is the voice in which the reader hears when reading a body of work. Given that recently the majority of text I have read has been of an analytic nature, I have learned that in many cases an author’s voice can be construed, in non-fiction just as well as fiction, regardless of the purpose of the text if enough of said author’s content is read. In my study of language, Trask and Chomsky have proven to be amusing – certainly not in the subject matter, but in the way they inform and elaborate on their subjects: their voice.

shout

Now at what point does this get interesting to you – my reader? Well, the names I’ve dropped are of little significance here and are purely anecdotal. The point I’m seeking to make is that I have become aware of the presence of my own voice as a writer (title pending). Perhaps ‘existence’ is more appropriate than ‘presence’, as I am starting to wonder how much of a voice, and subsequently style, my existing publications (blog posts) emanate. In truth, I am confident it is present and growing in form (which is encouraging). However, in much the same way a writer is their own worst critique, I find myself comparing the style to other authors who have already established themselves and see striking difference in delivery. While being different is far from being a bad thing, one must consider how that voice will be heard and the style received.

For a practical example, let’s look at this blog entry. Sure, if my reader is an English or Creative Writing student, or perhaps someone with an interest in language study or a novice writer, then perhaps I have already captured their attention with some content – but what about those who do not fall into those categories (hereby referred to as the royal ‘They’)? Have I bored them already? *close tab, continue scrolling social media*

justgotbored.gif

If I haven’t (thank you for sticking with me!), then why are They still reading on? Assuming that it isn’t through prior relation to me or inability to leave without completing what They have started, one would assume that the style in which I have composed the post in, and the voice I am conveying through black and white print has been entertaining enough to warrant reading on. This, obviously, is a vital concept to consider when trying to make a career in writing; be it in journalism, fiction, non-fiction, historical reports, sales pitches, etc.

Taking a step back to look at my style and voice in a more general light , it’s hard for me to immediately ascertain what makes them what they are. I have not been shy in admitting that I write reasonably freely, without much hesitation or editing beyond an occasional grammatical correction and often inebriated to some degree (fun fact: not tonight). I feel, and have been told as much, that this gives a very personal touch to my work. I imagine for those reading this who know me personally may hear my own voice when reading my words because of this (and if you weren’t, perhaps you will now).  My concern is that perhaps it is too personal to be interpreted as favorably by someone alien to me. Perhaps it goes so far as to be offensive or irritating to others. It makes little difference to me if it does, as I quite like the idea that I have a voice that can get under the skin of some and into the hearts of others. However, understanding one’s resources proves vital in using them most effectively.

judgeme

I’ve babbled for quite a while, haven’t I? Oh, look here, that’s another thing I tend to do, isn’t it? I prefer to, and do, write very colloquially on the most part (accompanied by a growing armory of GIFs). That can certainly be said for my writing style:

I use a colloquial writing style to empower my voice, with the aim to ‘reach out and grab you’. 

Sounds fancy enough, right?

 

Listening To: The New America – Bad Religion

the_new_america_cover

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Not Good Enough

The power in the impact from such a phrase relies heavily upon the source. Is there credibility to that source? Is it from someone you know, like, and or respect; or not? Is it from yourself (same aforementioned fields applied)?

s-shea-wong-writers-block-i-got-nothingOne of the difficulties in writing is that, particularly for longer projects, one works in isolation without the feedback or input of anyone else. That means that there is potentially quite a long time to wonder ‘What the fuck am I doing this for? Is this actually any good?’ This (I’m told) is natural.

In the feedback I have received in my admittedly short time writing in various mediums, I have found encouragement without which I never would have found myself in university. As alluded, this does mean I have had mainly positive and supportive assessments of my work and abilities. However, in an environment such as this I am subject to a higher volume of feedback – and therefore criticism. In receiving my first graded assignments, I have had any kind of illusion that I am merely here to have my ego stroked shattered. This isn’t to say the grades have been bad (it’s a pass/fail year anyway), but in my last returned assignment the critique got under my skin a little. Comparatively, it was  also graded the weakest despite being what seemed to be the easiest assignment.

classroomAm I sounding arrogant yet? So cocksure I had this coming, perhaps? Maybe, but in all likelihood I don’t know, like or respect you – so your opinion is of little consequence (say sorry)…. Did that sting a little? Not a lot, but did you feel just a little venomous prick? That was the aim (you do, in fact, have my respect in reading thus far), and perhaps now you can feel a little empathy in reading on.

I suppose that I am a little confused in why a little conflict of opinion on my work has irked me so. The particular paper was an analysis of two works of poetry without any outside knowledge of author, context of published year, making it an essay on personal interpretation and contrast. My deduction is that being told that my analysis of the texts, supported my elaborated explanation and reference, was debunked on the basis it differed from what the poetry was actually about (and I still fail to see any evidence supporting the critical counter argument). Comments of this nature made up at least 70% of the feedback, and I feel that my writing has not benefited from the assignment a single iota. If anything, it has corrupted my belief in my written communication skills, and has me concerned for my other assignments awaiting their grade.

thetruthnotoutthere

Of course, this is one-sided. I have no doubt that, if challenged, this marker would have a little more to say in their defense than ‘you have misread this. This is what it actually alludes to. Here is no evidence to support this (probably some on Sparknotes though)‘ – but enough of that. The result is that I was left with a feeling of ‘not being good enough’ and having produced sub-par work. I have since shed this feeling, reasonably easily regarding the feedback itself (the marker has yet to earn my liking or literary respect), but less so from the emotional collateral damage any writer must undoubtedly feel in the earlier days or when being critiqued.

The story goes on. I have no time for self-doubt.

 

Listening To: The Getaway – Red Hot Chili Peppers

red-hot-chili-peppers-the-getaway-ltd

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King of Nothing; Ruler of Nowhere

Authority has always perplexed me, in most senses of the word. I mean, who died and made you king? What gives Officer O’Riley the right to search that hooded individual? What gives Mrs. Smith the right to tell a kid they have no writing ability? What the hell possessed management to give you control of a swivel chair, let alone a whole department?

better-than-me

Setting aside that there’s more than one answer, right or wrong, to each of those questions, let’s ‘be real‘. In the most everyday sense, it is so common to see large organisations raise and promote people to plug gaps in their structures, be it a work place, educational facility, social group or otherwise, to satisfy a need for progress (which I understand wholeheartedly as a necessity). However, this generates human complications in such a way that progress is truly halted when one or several individuals reach a plateau they are ill-qualified to station (known as ‘The Peter Principle’, 1969). Anyone who has worked in basic office, administration, retail or other positions potentially divided from senior management will certainly have experienced this at one point or another. Whilst very easy to determine from an outside perspective, a mature emotional and logical self-assessment is required to judge whether you have climbed to such a level. In my own experience, having worked in a number of the aforementioned roles, I have come across people who have been elevated past their ‘usefulness’ more times than I care to quantify. From such an outside perspective, is it so wrong to ask, ‘I am capable, but could I perform better in your shoes?

donthatetheplayerIt’s easy to say yes, and justify your response by basically berating the individual who is apparently failing in their station and by identifying a different method of operation. It’s also just as easy to say no, and reason with yourself that there is a reason you have not been considered for the role yourself or have been passed over completely.  Realistically, anyone can probably do the role in question 7 in 10 times in ordinary, low-mid salary jobs with a little guidance – it’s just really easy to forget that when someone spends everyday making it look and sound like a lot of work. For this reason alone, don’t lose much sleep over someone else’s incompetence if you can help it. Just do your time (set your own sentence), sing the right notes to the right people…. or just ‘fuck it’ and do what I like to do: find the easiest way to get through each day and make the positive results look effortless (which, of course, they are when you know how to make work work).

protip

 

I’ve found in my transition from the working field back into education I have been naive in my expectations in several respects. One of which lies in authoritative power. To be clear, this is the secondary definition of ‘authority’: rather than the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience, I am referring to the administrative control over a subject. I have had the responsibility of ‘Programme Representative’ for first year English thrust upon me by the university. It’s hardly a chore, mainly consisting on collecting feedback and being a reference point between students and faculty, but it does seem to have given some of my peers the impression that I can answer their questions about writing and text analysis, proof-read their work and offer feedback and corrections. I would be lying if I said that I am not perfectly capable of doing these tasks, but when it came to having an original short story put in front of me I asked myself this: ‘What makes me, in any sense, qualified to judge a peer’s writing style and creative work? I’m no teacher. I’m just a student myself.

fasttypeNonetheless, I did end up going through the document, picking up any grammatical errors, highlighting any inconsistencies or questionable sentences or phrases, writing feedback notes in support of the markings. It felt like being a teacher grading a paper (thankfully I did not have to give any kind of grade or result!). The person in question was quite receptive to what I had to say, and I felt less like I was posing in a role I had no right to have – despite having been asked to do it. Moreover, it made me consider whether a career in education could be something I might be able to perform well in. So there’s that….

What I have learned in the first two months in university are there are very slight transitions between high school and university and adult/working life. I’ve seen it in the negative light in that cliques form like they do in high school when you pool a group of 18-21 year olds who don’t know each other and the ignorance of maintaining a shared living environment; and I’ve seen it in the positive or realistic perspective in that some principles such as authority, time management and budget control are in motion. I knew that was to be expected, but to the degree in which a job in an office and life on university campus are alike took me by surprise. Obviously there is variation in how much each individual adapts to their environment in either role (and I’ve certainly tolerated my fair share of kids fresh out of school or college in the workplace), but an illusion has been shattered in the sense of the boundary between the two being such great hurdles. I suppose that the reception of this revelation depends on how well one can adapt, but I feel the sentiment is a fairly relatable one to most.

So to conclude, don’t worry if you don’t know how to change your own bed sheets, cook for yourself, or appropriately clean your bathroom because the world has plenty of room for you even if you never learn. There’s a good chance that you might even end up having subordinates or lackeys that remove those short-comings as issues in adult life. However, I promise no happy endings when those able people supporting you reach their expiration dates and progress beyond you elsewhere. Authority must be generated in oneself and over one’s own actions, ability and work in order to be properly sustained. I believe I’m in the right place to be learning this now, and feel that I am unquestionably qualified to make this observation and to serve the free advice (you’re welcome).

riseup

 

Listening To: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – The Smashing Pumpkins

smashing_pumpkins_-_mellon_collie_and_the_infinite_sadness

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This is a Sick Joke (Say It Ain’t So)

There are some things you really don’t want to learn by text message.
Each delay between messages is too long, not to mention the trend these days of sending fragments of your message a piece at a time (yeah, sure, it’s totally just building suspense…). I don’t normally share this sort of personal thing, but here’s the roller coaster ride I just got strapped into without warning.
I’m still reeling….
——–
HER:
I remember my dad telling me distance only makes the heart grow stronger… or something along those lines.
 ME:
Absence makes the heart grow fonder? 
HER:
Yes, that. 😊
 ME:
Haha it’s a good saying, but it depends on how strong you feel and how mature you are – absence can also make the heart sluttier 😂 but I don’t think that one applies to you.
HER: 
I did do a bad thing though…
 
The night after you left.
 
I was afraid to tell you
 
I still feel dirty.
ME:
Don’t be – just be honest. 
HER:
I was gonna wait until you got back but…
ME:
Hey – relax and just say what you need to say.
HER:
I don’t want to ruin us.
ME: 
If you keep a secret that eats you up like this it will ruin us. All I ever asked of you is to be honest with me.
So be brave.
HER:
Okay. 
Hear me out please…
 ME:
Go on – I won’t interupt.
HER:
OK well…
 
After you left
 
I just had this urge
 
I told myself I’d wait for you
 
But I couldn’t do it
 
So
 
Late that night
 
I snuck out
 
And well
 
I went to Five Guys.
 
I brought it back to my place and watched It’s Always Sunny.
 
I’m sorry.
ME:
I just need a minute.
 
This is a lot to take in.
HER:
I still feel so dirty.
 
But it wasn’t the same without you.
 
I’ll never do it again I swear.
ME:
I thought what we had was special? How could you?
HER:
I have needs!!
ME:
I think we should eat different food for awhile – then we can talk about ‘us’.
HER:
I guess. If you think it’s for the best…
ME:
I do – I just need some time. I need to figure out if I can forgive you.
HER:
Jokes aside, I really did feel dirty.
ME:
Jokes aside, you’re the worst!
——
Credit where it’s due – She had me going for a while there. What kind of monster does that in the middle of the night? I’m really hungry now….
ijustlovehappyendings

Listening To: Candy Coated Fury – Reel Big Fish

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