Hi everyone! If you like what I write and don’t mind a complete change of theme, please check out http://hahatheworldisending.wordpress.com, where I think about how to make my footprint smaller and the general human and cultural traits which led us to the the sixth great extinction! I can’t offer you the kind of insight that comes from expertise or more than the bare minimum of research but I can offer to tell you the thoughts I had on the bus to work. See you there!
I love consuming stuff. Of all the consumery consumers, I am the most consumerist. I sometimes open my wardrobe and whisper “I love you” to my favorite dress made from organic long-staple cotton. Do you know what long-staple cotton is? Of course you don’t, because you don’t love stuff as much as I do, because no one loves stuff as much as I do. Do you get excited when you run out of soap because now you get to go choose more soap? When someone asks you your favorite time of year, do you think to yourself “oh I always have such a hard time picking between asparagus season and cherry season?”. No, probably none of these things happen to you, because you are normal.
I am the ultimate hedonist. My ideal life would be like 80% tequila and roller coasters and 20% other stuff. I’ll close my eyes and exclaim “good god, this lasagna is delicious” to my empty apartment. I’ll happily consumify even those activities suggested to get you off the hamster wheel of consumerism, getting to the top of the hike and shouting “OH HOW BEAUTIFUL, BETTER GET GOING”, eager to start my descent before the dopamine hit wears off.
The only reason that my footprint to date has not been even more astronomical is because I have not been able to afford it. I have lived a privileged life of leisure and pleasure, of course, but with no car, in shared apartments and with a wardrobe which was largely hand-me-downs or thrifted. After years of my discretionary income not stretching past the Estrella Damm brewery in Barcelona, I finally get to ask “where do I send these euros?”. I eye them suspiciously, knowing how quickly they can go up in a cloud of greenhouse gases. At least one thing is clear: I don’t want them to go to a bollocks. You can just keep your hands off my shiny new euros, Jeff.
The question of how to spend money without doing damage is something I have started to think about pretty deeply lately, mostly due to this briefing by the European Environment Agency pointing out a fairly damning flaw in the European Green Deal1. The briefing itself is very readable if you are unconvinced by my amateur distillation, which is the following:
Q: How do I make sure my euros don’t end up being spent on killing the whales?
A: All euros are eventually spent on killing the whales.
Sorry, I’m being facetious, that’s a terrible summary. But basically what it says is that sufficiently greening the European economy will probably be impossible without shrinking it a bit. It seems the only environmentally friendly thing you can buy is: less. Fuck. Sake.
What do you even do then? I mean, you can save your money. That’s a pretty good idea for a while. But ultimately of course, that’s just putting off killing the whales, because you presumably spend it later. You can start spending it on carbon offsetting2? Morally dubious from the Kantian point of view but probably ok on a practical level. You can put all your money in a pile and set it on fire? Still releases some greenhouse gasses, though not as much as if you had spent it, probably. If you get enough of it, you can bribe some European officials to crash the economy? In theory that’s a pretty good one, but it would probably cost quite a lot and apparently as people become poorer they often tend to buy cheaper items but not fewer (up to a point of course), so ultimately it doesn’t work.
One thing you can do is delibrately buy fewer, more expensive items. However even here there is a catch: imagine Jeff Bezos charges an extra five euro for every item on Amazon and then uses all those five euros to go to the moon in a giant penis shaped rocket. On the plus side, things are more expensive and so people buy fewer things, decreasing their individual footprints. Also, Jeff Bezos is now on the moon and we don’t have to see his stupid face any more. However, on the negative side, all those five euros have just been turned into rocket fuel. The reduction in your consumption has funded an increase in someone else’s overconsumption. One way out of this bind is to make sure that if you buy more expensive things, the difference in what you pay goes to someone who is underconsuming rather than overconsuming. i.e. you buy fewer dresses and someone else buys more rice, as opposed to you buy fewer dresses and someone else buys more rockets. Of course, that doesn’t actually decrease the global footprint, but obviously it’s still better than the rocket thing… but then again the places where people have not enough rice are generally pretty far away so you have the transport emissions and problems with ocean traffic to consider… but then again, providing real economic opportunities in the places currently reliant on the most toxic of industries might eventually lead to cleaner production methods overall… but then again…
And that is the story of why it took me three weeks to buy a jumper.
1I don’t mean to shit on the EU here, the fact that Europe has managed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy does make me feel better, which is why they did it I’m sure. However, we are still failing in many areas, for example: the absolute amount of unrecycled packaging waste per capita seems to be increasing, despite small improvements the percentage of recycled waste. Also, we seem to enjoy smugly chastising the Chinese, but, like, are they not the ones making all our stuff? Idk, I feel like if we took carbon leakage into account we wouldn’t be doing so hot. Anyone who isn’t someone no relevant qualifications drawing conclusions from eyeballing random graphs care to weigh in on this?
2it’s a good idea to make sure it is gold standard certified or similar!
Look, everyone needs hobbies, OK? I mean, especially after the last year and a half. In my household, we got so bored that we decided to have a collective meltdown about climate change and biodiversity loss, just so we had something to talk about at our vegan, locally sourced and unpackaged dinners. You know when you feel like you have too much time on your hands? Try and buy literally anything that doesn’t destroy the planet, the lives of several people on another continent and some animals maybe. You are now a conscientious consumer and the life where you did anything else or were a vaguely interesting person to speak to is over!
I had to buy new running gear the other day. It was the first time in a while I attempted to purchase clothing first hand1 and, Jesus Christ, never again. It took a morning of total trauma and I have been compulsively reciting statistics on the average pay in unsupervised factories and the CO2 emissions caused by virgin vs recycled polyester ever since. And I mean compulsively, like: someone says “how was your day?” and I’m all like “WELL ACTUALLY IN TERMS OF CO2 EMISSIONS THE DIFFERENCE IS NOT SO BIG BUT I THINK IT’S FOOLISH TO JUDGE SO COMPLEX AN ISSUE ON A SINGLE AXIS DON’T YOU AGREE?”. And they’re all “ok that’s cool, I don’t really know what we’re talking about though”.
The problem with joining the subculture of conscientious consumerism is that for someone like me (read: enormously compulsive, very little self-control) it doesn’t actually prevent you from doing the bad things. It just partners them with enormous guilt. After oscillating between super-vegan and put-all-the-cows-in-my-face for almost half a decade, I have settled on being a “sobr-egan”, which is a term I made up right now for people that are vegan while sober but then get drunk and remember they like cheese. Well, I’m not even vegan while I’m sober because I still wear leather because I won’t wear vegan leather which is secretly just plastic that then makes its way to the oceans to choke dolphins or whatever. Fuck, everything is such a nightmare.
The other problem with being a conscientious consumer is good luck being not a hypocrite. Try to come up with a lifestyle which is morally consistent but also liveable. Just fucking try. I’ve settled on using some old faithful moral guiding principles. 1) Sometimes do the right thing but if it momentarily hard to do the right thing, then do the wrong thing instead. 2) The closer things happen to you geographically, the worse they are. Dually, if something bad happens far enough away, then the bad thing didn’t happen REALLY. It’s why I can spend hours fretting about the aquatic toxicity of my laundry detergent and then walk Uniqlo and purchase underwear whose manufacture is directly poisoning water sources because… those water sources are in Bangladesh!! It’s why I can find myself enormously stressed by the increasing size of dairy herds and the associated uptick in intensive farming practices (literally) outside my window, but will happily munch on avocados that are also destroying land BUT… thankfully only in Mexico!! I’m a piece a garbage!!!
The troubles of the world are of course, not entirely my fault and are partially systemic. Try and not create landfill waste, even for a week, and you realise that daily life is just swimming upstream through a river of unrecyclable plastic films and spoiled paper until you eventually give up, drowning in those shitty biodegradable straws that we all know are going to end up buried in a landfill somewhere (I know your game, lie-straws). In Europe, in parallel with the train network disintegrating, it has become more and more normal to live and work in a different country to your partner and friends and family. So your choices are: spew carbon dioxide, quit your job, or tell your mom you’ll see her once every five years. So the system sucks. However, I also think that lefties, as a species, have gradually come to the realisation that a system sucking doesn’t give you a moral free pass to participate in it. So while I eat the delicious, delicious mozzarella and run in my springy, new shoes that feel like clouds on my feet, I will at least admonish myself severely. That’s what we need for everything to be ok, right? Right. Don’t worry guys, I have this one covered.
I feel so cynical lately. Not because I think that we couldn’t fix it – people are amazing at fixing things. We can bring entire species back from the brink of extinction with enormous coordinated efforts. Neither is it because I think we don’t care – I’d be very surprised to come across someone who said “well, fuck people from Bangladesh, why do they need non-toxic rivers?”. We are just creatures of inertia. People hand you a napkin and you take it. You shop where you have always shopped. You buy as much as you’ve always bought2. You fly as much as you’ve always flown and drive as much as you’ve always driven. And the powers-that-be, the ones who might actually be able to fix the system, call for increased recycling rates and more wind-farms, because they don’t know how to redirect the enormous momentum of consumer culture currently headed directly for the last few fences between this world and one of total ecological collapse any more than we do. Some can’t even plan wind-farms because they are preoccupied with their population starving and stuff, which I guess is fair enough. Some don’t plan wind farms just because they are jerks though, fuck those guys.
So yes, I feel cynical not because I think we can’t fix it, but because I think that we won’t. In fifty years, it will be like that horrible part at the end of a long relationship where you will look back and see that the fiery end was at the same time inevitable and entirely preventable. You’ll say all the things that you can do now, now that you fully appreciate how serious it is, but it will be too late. It will be that period that even if you act perfectly from now on, it is unfixable. And that is what we cannot understand: we can put in enormous effort to fix things that we suddenly become aware are very broken, but we are unable to grasp the concept of breaking something so badly it is unfixable, no matter what the effort. Having said that, when the end inevitably arrives, I’ll be happier to meet it as a failing hypocrite rather than as someone who didn’t try at all. I hope.
1 I largely shop on vinted and depop for those delicious guilt free second hand clothes.
2 Rather, you increase your rate of buying things as much as you’ve always increased it, an example figure for clothing is a 60% increase from 2000 to 2014 per consumer (https://www.wri.org/insights/numbers-economic-social-and-environmental-impacts-fast-fashion)
So I am, by now, accustomed to being embroiled in Kafkaesque imbroglios from which there is no discernible way out. Sometimes, one person or another, will suggest that as it happens with such an alarming frequency that perhaps I am somehow responsible for them. “Impossible” I say, “these are caused by spirits of the universe over which I have no control“. The worst thing is, you know it‘s your fault, you know you have control over the situation, but to admit it‘s your fault seems tantamount to admitting you deserve it. “Do I deserve this?” you say to yourself, lying face down on the floor after a dinner of potatoes and pasta sauce and a strange cream liquor you found in your fridge, “do I?. I’m an ok person, I work hard, I once volunteered for a charity that called old people and listened to how depressed they were now that they had nothing to do but look back on their life of unfulfilled dreams, I wouldn‘t have voted for Trump even if I could have. Why am I currently facing losing my apartment and having to deal with finding a place for me, my stuff, and my flatmate‘s stuff with a grand total of four euros in my bank account?”.
“There should be a word for this in German” I think, I remember reading somewhere that the German language is like a dictionary of obscure sorrows. So I imagine that they have a word for the feeling that if only one thing had gone right this week, you would be in a much better situation and wouldn‘t be face down on your bedroom floor facing homelessness. Like “einzugegutesacheneinobdachlos“, I‘m sure that‘s an actual German word for what is happening to me right now, I think. I was going to write the grand List of Things that went wrong this month that ended with me in this situation but it was so long that half-way through I got bored and stopped. Let‘s just say the fuck–ups were the combined responsibility of, in wildly different concentrations: a Turkish architect, a French university, an unusual Spanish rental situation, a multinational telecommunications company, an Irish me et al. And my saviors, as always: partner, family, friends and a literal fairy godmother.
On the floor, I start to reflect on the increasingly bizarre difficulties I manage to wrangle myself into. “Remember that time your wallet was stolen in Paris and then you couldn‘t convince your Spanish bank to give you access to your salary for like two months? Remember that time you locked your keys inside your apartment and had to go get the spare set from your very ill colleague using the navico decouverte of your sympathetic yet understandingly incredulous neighbor, who was a large Iranian man looking absolutely nothing like you, and you had to evade the travel police? Remember that time you had all your clothes stolen on the beach and then you had to walk through Barcelona in a bikini to get to a police station where you were just given an oversized tshirt and told you to be on your way? Remember the time you got drunk in Munich and missed the last train and then everything was so complicated you just gave up and sat on the street for three hours until the trains started running again? Remember the time you accidentally went to work in half your pajamas because you were so stressed about your imminent homelessness and then you talked to your colleague, and they were, like, pretending not to notice but your pretty sure they totally noticed?”. Surely, I cannot be the cause of all of these obviously–caused–by–me situations.
It is tiresome to be lost in your (technically) thirties. Somehow, in your twenties, you imagine that perhaps it‘s a potential point of endearment. “Oh look at her, so young and wacky. I bet she will have it all figured out by her (technically) thirties!” maybe people say. And the voice inside you soothes “just wait, you won‘t find yourself wandering the streets semi clothed in your (technically!) fourties“. But it is smaller now, and quieter, because it‘s not as convinced as it was before. I can‘t even say I‘m unhappy. I can‘t even say I would have done anything differently. It‘s just that who I refer to as “who I could be“, in the words of my inner voice, is increasingly referred to as “who I might have been” and it scares me (this is a person who, for example, is always entirely and appropriately dressed in public i.e. not current Roisin). I guess the whole almost being homeless thing set off a third–of–a–life crisis in me, who knows.
P.S. I am no longer potentially homeless or penniless.
So for anybody that needs an update: Hi, I live in Barcelona for a fairly long time now, my brother also lives here and needs to get a tax number so he can work legally. However not a problem, according to EU regulation … right? Right? Wrong. You are in Catalonia. Noone gives a fifth of shit about your EU rights.
So my brother comes here and we enter the labyrinth of Catalan bureaucracy. The first thing you need is a tax number or NIE. It is pronouced “Neeyeah”, like what you would say if someone asked how your dental appointment or your meeting at the NIE office was. You would say “Oh, it was nee-yeah”. Meaning something between “it was fine” and “absolute bollocks”. So the first thing you need is to get an appointment at absolute bollocks office. Sorry! I mean the neeyeah office. Luckily you can do this easily! You can even do this online! So easy! PSYCHE. THESE APPOINTMENTS DO NOT EXIST. If you want you want to see how trying to get a appointment for a NIE works, you can check out the flow chart below.
It is good to be in France again. The French are a people I can get behind. They are the ultimate charming combo of impeccable manners and astonishing incivility. I have walked into a party and had everyone break off their conversation to wish me, in turns, a good evening. I have also been openly mocked, to my face, at least six times. Best case scenario, when you try to speak french they will look at you with that mix of pity and deep sadness which before living here I only knew as “that expression only Ryan Gosling can make”
Worst case, they will repeat what you said with a childish sneer, like a bully on a playground. I had never experienced this from someone over the age of ten before but in Paris, this is just standard procedure if the way someone speaks annoys you.
Constantly changing social environments can leave one a little off-kilter. People adjust naturally to conform to the culture they find themselves in and changing social circles once a year and reshaping yourself just that little bit to fit different social slots results in a personality which is much more flexible than you would expect from yourself. This is very useful when you want friends, and significantly less useful when you want a sense of self. As a result, I have developed an unhealthy obsession with knowing who I am. I realized that this problem was starting to spiral out of control when doing a Myers Briggs personality test, hoping it would answer my pitiful call for self knowledge. This is a problem because
a) Something is terribly wrong if you find yourself taking an internet quiz with a shitty primary coloured UI alone, in your bed, in the middle of the night desperately hoping it will tell you your place in the world
b) I eventually had to quit the test because my crisis of personality now runs so deep I can’t answer half the questions. My inner negotiations are ferocious “Do you actually find it difficult to introduce yourself to people or are you answering as you think an introverted person would because you consider yourself introverted?” “Do you actually consider yourself more practical than creative, or are you secretly trying to manipulate your answers because you want personality number eight?”
The Myers Briggs is supposed to assign you one of sixteen personalities. I don’t know how one “fails” a personality test but, there you have it: I did. Maybe we have a special category. What is the personality of someone unable to complete personality tests? Personality zero.
The original source of my problem would be solved had I just moved to Pairs because here, they have done away with that pesky business of making personal adjustments to promote a sense of social cohesion. Have you said “Bonjour”? Yes? Great, you have achieved being polite and from now on you can just do whatever the fuck you feel like. Don’t feel like smiling? Don’t smile! Don’t feel like being friendly? Don’t be! Don’t feel like speaking? Just literally fucking ignore the girl dancing around your security hut asking please if you could just please maybe tell her if she’s going the right way to the metro.
This attitude is at once severely off-putting and very refreshing. I would have had a much better time as a waitress if I could have told every fifth person to fuck off because, I don’t know, I found their face kind of irritating. I would have had a much better time as a secretary if I could have just said “this person is asking me to do something outside my exact job description, so sucks to replying to them”. It’s an entirely different way of interacting with the world.
The French don’t do shit they don’t want to do, not for the sake of social cohesion, not for the sake of the economy, not for nobody. It’s why they grève all the time. “I don’t want to work Sundays, time to grève! Change of Labour Laws? Grèves to that! You’re taking away plastic cutlery and replacing it with real cutlery? NATIONWIDE GRÈVE” No wonder it’s the country of revolution. I’m sure everyone hated kings or whatever. But every other country in Europe was all “ooooooh, they’re divinely appointed”. Not the French. The French just woke up one day and realised that they didn’t want to do whatever it was their shitty king wanted them to do any more and that was the end of him.
This was my family.
Eli: Eli always made me think of that Roald Dahl quote “People who have beautiful thoughts can never be ugly… They shine out of their face like sunbeams and they will always look lovely”. In the middle there there’s a bunch of shit about how it still works if you have crooked teeth and a double chin and stuff. That bit didn’t really apply to Eli because she would look lovely even if she was a total asshole, but the rest did. You could see she was filled with beautiful thoughts. She saw hearts in everything: In the dough she was rolling out “Roisin! Ho fatto un cuore!!!”, in old bits of onion skin “guardi!! C’è un CUOOOREEE!!!” and so on. It suited her.
Jill: You would often find Eli in a long dress wandering the halls like a spirit not yet at peace crying out “ma, c’è Jill? Jill? DOVE SEI JILL?” but after knowing Jill a while you understood that Eli was not in fact a spirit looking for her murdered spirit sister, she was just constantly trying to find Jill cause Jill was, like, super awesome. Jill is so nice I called her Marina for a full two weeks without her ever being offended, or thinking it might be good idea to inform me that her name was, in fact, not even a little bit Marina.
Maksym: Max wandered the house playing indie guitar and being softly spoken in the sixteen hundred languages he speaks and generally being a better, more good looking version of every character ever played by Michael Cera. You could be forgiven for thinking I had a crush on Max and was trying to passively aggressively signal to his new girlfriend that she was boring by continually introducing myself whenever she came to the house but I want to say for the record that I was genuinely really happy that he found such a nice (and pretty!) girlfriend and was really excited to meet her for the first time the eight times that I did it.
Cenzi: Words cannot describe how much I genuinely, truly loved this man. When he was tired he would squawk sometimes. I’m not quite sure why, I think it was a stress relief thing.
Fabione: Helped keep everything together. It was nice when Fabione was there because you knew for sure that nothing really bad could happen and not nice when he wasn’t because lots of really bad things happened like the coffee running out. He was tall and gentle and spoke really slow Italian for me. Going one better than Jill, Fabione wasn’t even offended when more than a week after I moved in and after seeing him with unusual frequency, I asked him if perhaps he lived in the same house as I did and what his name was.
Alvise: So everyone knows that Alvise that is going to be rich and famous and, for sure, I am partially staying friends with him so I can one day ride in his private helicopter, which will be distinctively decorated by a goatee and single raised eyebrow. But I loved my Alvi the best. Or, our Alvi, I guess. If Fabione was the mamma, Alvise was Dad for sure. I will miss our late night balcony chats. And being asked eighteen times in a row if I know how I’m getting how I’m getting to the airport and if I have my passport and if I know that missing a flight is actually very stressful and am I sure I know how I’m getting to the airport and what time the bus is at? And singing Robbie Williams covers on the balcony in the middle of the night.
Luca: Luca was just Luca. Never a bad day or ounce of stress. If there was a zombie apocalypse for sure Luca would be my first choice of companion. I don’t think he’d be particularly good at killing zombies and would probably actually be remarkably bad at it, but it would be nice to have him there “yes…but come on…I mean it’s just a zombie apocalypse…yes maybe there are zombies everywhere trying to eat us but I mean come on…it’s fine don’t worry…soon it will be over, when they eat us…it’s fine”
I will miss you all!
One day when talking about how great rain was, my boyfriend recalled how on long car journeys home from college he would pull over and just listen to sound it made on the roof, enjoying the sensation of being safe in the car. I thought to myself “wow, I’ve really lucked out. If the art of life to ‘endure much and enjoy little’ this guy has got it down pat” and proceed to play out this lovely indie movie scene in my brain cinema. Of course, being a roboticist my bf also has the knack of stripping down every experience to the bare minimum of necessary components. He followed with “actually you can get pretty much the same experience in the shower. You just blow into the shower head and that kinda sounds like thunder and then there’s water there cause it’s a shower so it’s pretty much the same”.
It’s always the small things that make you remember you love someone. You never think “wow, imagine how much harder my life would have been if they weren’t so supportive that time”. You think of them in the small bits of them you’ve stolen: taking pills backwards (water then pill) from a best friend, being anal retentive about the order dishes are done (glasses, cups, plates, saucepans) from an exboyfriend, unironically calling people dude all the time despite from a ten year ago crush, blowing into the shower head every time you take a shower and sadly thinking “this isn’t like being in an indie movie” with shower water dribbling down your chin from a partner.
I always miss people. I fucking love people. And however much I love flitting about and living in a new country every year, I’m not the kind of person who should be doing it. Before I’ve even got someone’s number I can start feeling heartbroken at the idea of leaving and never seeing them again.The older you get the harder it is to form close friendships, for the lovely reason that you start to just get “full up” and that means that every nice person I meet is now some sort of missed opportunity. You start thinking weird things like “man, you seem great, if only I wasn’t already so socially satiated then we could become best friends and never have to leave each other. You could have been my bridesmaid and I yours and we would have cried in each others arms when the dog we got together died but now you will always just be that nice girl in my residence who consistently rescued my coffee from burning and had a similar sense of humor to me”. And by you I mean one. And by one I mean me. Am I weird?
My best-boyfriend-ever bought me spontaneous flights to come see him in Zurich.
I’m a bad flier. And not in the sense that I get anxious or find flying difficult emotionally. I just find in incredibly hard to bring both myself and the collection of belongings required to be allowed to board an aircraft to a particular place at a particular time. This time, I promise to pack almost everything the night before to try and lessen my own stress so I immediately go out and get drunk and wake up the next morning late for class having packed almost nothing.
Swearing to do better, I decide to arrive at the airport a full hour and a half before my flight and take the appropriate bus to affect this. “I am such a grown up”, I think to myself. I get to the airport and read the time. This is extremely difficult for me because
a) I have a touch of clock dyslexia and fine it difficult to read analogue time this is what my phone shows me at the moment and I can’t work out how to change it to digital because my phone is in Italian.
b) I have my clock set ten minutes fast so I’m not late for class even though I’m constantly late for class because I have to spend so long working out what the current time is
c) I set my phone time from my iPads time and despite living here a month and half i haven’t quite organized switching this to Italian time. It’s supposed to automatically change but I must have switched that off at some point.
If you ask me how I can accomplish switching my iPads automatic time update off but when I move to a new country can’t organizing switch the time forward an hour, the truthful answer is I don’t know. The same way I don’t know why i don’t switch off the alarm telling me to go to economics class that goes off on my iPod every day at ten and has gone off every day for over four years now. The same way I don’t know why I throw my keys into the bottom of my bag and then feel I’ve lost them and then stop in the middle of the street take everything out of my bag, find them, and immediately throw them back into the abyss even though I have a key ring on my bag, specifically to stop normal people who own that kind of bag from having to deal with this kind of problem.
I work out that my flight is in twenty minutes and run to check in eyeing the long queue at security trying to size up who I can politely ask to let me skip them and who I will have to just push out of the way. I force my way through the queue at check in and shout “YES I NEED TO CHECK IN RIGHT NOW PLEASE I NEED TO GO”. The lady says “yes, of course. The priority queue is to your left and the Marco Polo lounge is to your right as you enter. Your flight is in an hour and twenty minutes”. Phew. It’s also weird that she said that stuff about priority queues and lounges, but whatever. I go to the security and see sure enough there is an entirely empty security line designated “priority queue”. I pass saying “I think I go here?”. They say “yes of course”. I then, for kicks, go to the business lounge and say “I think I go here?” and get the reply “yes of course”. I don’t know what a lounge IS per se, but it seems like a nice sort of place. There are couches and newspapers and a place in the middle with fancy pizza and drinks cabinets you have only seen in dreams. There is no one there to watch what you take and it occurs to me that it might be “complimentary”. I watch people interact with the drinks cabinets for a while, until fully sure that they are indeed “complimentary”. Then, amongst all the different types of whiskey and gin and prosecco, I decide I want a beer. This is called: I don’t belong here, exhibit A. I take a beer and can’t find an opener. I watch some men come in from the smoking area. Maybe I can ask them for a lighter to open my…shit, I’m in a lounge. I don’t think you’re supposed to do that in lounges. What’s a lounge again? Aw man, I really want this beer. I try covertly opening it on the counter top. Unfortunately, the only way you can open a beer on a counter top is with flourish, which I’m not comfortable displaying right now. Defeated, I pour myself a generous double double measure of Jack Daniels. By the time I get to my flight I. Am. Drunk.
My boarding pass says “business class” for some reason so I am seated at the front part of the plane. The chairs aren’t ostensibly different but they draw a curtain so you don’t have to look at the poor people. They ask me if I want a newspaper but after I list all the newspapers I would like to read they say they don’t have any of those and just hand me the financial times, a newspaper so boring it’s practically a cartoon of a newspaper. Luckily I don’t mind much because they also give me several gin and tonics. The flight attendants are demonstratively attentive.
I have an incredibly uncomfortable relationship with the services that money allows you to acquire. The objects? Fuck, I love the objects. All the shoes and make up and books and shit. The services however, I’ve never been comfortable with. Those very few times I’ve gone to a restaurant where they take your coat I’ve had to concentrate hard to not to blurt out “what are you doing, that’s my coat dude?”. When leaving the plane we were given a special bus, not even a quarter full, to take us to terminal while the poor people had to wait for a secondary bus, just to demonstrate that there was a division. “What a waste of a bus?” I think. “What right do I have to this wasted bus?” And then I start to have a metaphysical crisis. And I then I start to get incredibly stressed out about the division of wealth and the unconscious advantages I must be privy to because of it and how unaware of the whole business I presumably am. By the time I meet my boyfriend five minutes later I’m secretly a communist. And that is why I cannot fly business class.
Now I will write a post about maths, costing me most of my already meager audience.
So the reason I very suddenly stopped posting was my classes started and that kind of put an end to my free time. This doesn’t look like it will let up any time soon because mathematics is a uniquely difficult subject in that the more you work at it the worse you get. You begin trying to find useful applications of Rouche’s theorem and after two hours the only thing you’ve achieved is you no longer understand integration. So you start again, trying to regain what you’ve lost and after a half hour realize that addition no longer holds any meaning for you and slam the book shut, afraid of what you might lose next.
Also, for my first semester most classes are compulsory and a lot more “pure maths” than I’m used to, meaning I’m left trying to learn subjects with prerequisites I don’t have in areas I don’t much care for. There are two branches of mathematics: those seem like a nice intellectual conversation with a very clever friend and those that resemble a bitter fight with a sardonic lover. Generally, geometry is nice. You start off with one point of view and your friend gently corrects you, draws some pictures, makes an explicitly sound and coherent argument without ever seeming condescending, you thank them for increasing your understanding and you both have a jolly good laugh about the slight misunderstanding. Then there are subjects like group theory, which is kind of like the mathematical version of carrots to children: you choke some of it down because it’s good for you but fuck it’s boring and your mom would be much better off trying to hide it under some cheese or sneak it into some physics or whatever. This is in the family of what I call “tricksy maths”, which uses disconnected arguments to force you into a corner and admit that you must be mistaken, even though you’re not quite sure why
“oh, you think I’M the one being unreasonable? Don’t you remember that time two years ago when you said that thing about the existence of sylow p-subgroups?”
“um…I guess…but I mean, we had been fighting for such a long time and I thought, maybe if I just agreed with you, then maybe we could move..”
“THEN SAY IT HAPPENS FOR ORDER K-1, JUST SAY IT”
“well, yes. I mean if things were different I suppose it WOULD hold for order K-1 but..”
“THEN YOU ADMIT IT. FUCK YOU BY INDUCTION”
“what? No, I didn’t mean to imply…you’re putting words in my mouth…wait, why are we even arguing about this?”
“YOU’RE ALWAYS ASKING ABOUT THE “WHY” OF EVERYTHING! CAN YOU NEVER JUST ADMIT WHEN YOU’RE WRONG?”
You win again, finite groups.
I write again when I have enough free time to both do things in it and record those things.