The ear-worm.

You ever get an ear-worm?

You know; the repetitive sounds that float through your mind. They might be fun, they might be distressing. They can exist in the myriad of emotions we call ‘humanity’.

Humanity, after all, is emotion and its impact on us. Without our emotions, what do we do but plod?

So when you have an ear-worm, how does it affect you? Does it make you smile, or does it make you cry? It can do both, I assume, it depends on your character. It depends on your lifestyle. It can depend on your frame of mind.

So when you have an ear-worm, do you enjoy its sound? Does the noise go up and down, or does it conform to a rhythm. Does it promote your sense of identity, or detract from it? Are you motivated by the sound, or does it bring you into despair?

So, the ear-worm, it lives and becomes you. The noises dictate your movement. The noises dictate your rhythm. Ear-worms dictate our actions. Ear-worms make us cry.

Repetitive sound. Repetitive sound. Repetitive sound. Speak it out in your mind. Repetitive sound. Is it making its mark? Is it living there yet? Repetitive sound.

It likes to make its home in the emotions. It likes to make its home in the actions. There it is.  A recurring jingle. A recurring thought. A recurring jingle.

Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah dah, dah-dah-dah.

Is it harmful? Is it playful? Does it make you laugh or cry? Both.

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Nothing.

I’ve written very little in the last few days. I’m lost for ideas, sans creativity. This is strange, as my behaviour has become a lot more erratic in the last few days, which usually heralds a creative spike in my writing.This time, nada. So, here’s some prose-poetry about nothing:

 

Nothing I find very interesting. I can talk about it for hours.

Nothing is something I really enjoy talking about. I love to discuss it in daily life, at work or at home, the nuance of the ‘nothingness’ and in the vapid way in which I do it. Take for example, you’ve had a busy day at work, then come home to find me, sitting at the table, with book, with mug, gleefully staring at you, from your arduous day. I sit there and talk at you. I talk at you, through you, and beyond you. I don’t think about how you are. I want to talk to you about nothing. Nothing I find very interesting. I can talk about it for hours.

Nothing can vary. It can be about what I did that day. It can be how I read a book that is about nothing. It can be about the coffee I drank, that tasted of nothing. There I still sit, book in hand, coffee on table; glee. You stare back. You try to get a word in edge ways. I continue to talk about the Romans, and how Caesar invaded Gaul. I talk through you. Caeser is very interesting. Nothing is very interesting.

Did you know that Caesar is spellt with a hard ‘C’?  So very interesting. I can talk about it for hours.

A daily pursuit of nothing. There are many nothings in the shop that I can buy on a daily basis. I chop them up and put them in a pan, waiting to eat. I like to cook. I’ll tell you about it whilst I cook. You have to know why I cook. It’s interesting. I need to tell you. If I can’t tell you then there’s something wrong. I need to talk about nothing. Nothing is essential. Nothing is important.

Nothing is very interesting. I can talk about it for hours. Did you know that obsessive talking and reassuring one’s knowledge on the world is a symptom of nothing? I find these types of things very interesting. I can talk to you about them for hours. No, don’t interrupt me. I need to talk to you.  I’ll keep talking about nothing. Nothing I find very interesting. I can talk about it for hours.

How was your day? I can sometimes arrive at it. I can sometimes forget to talk about nothing. Nothing is very interesting, but I want to talk about you too. But then again, I need to talk about nothing. I need to talk about my perceptions. I need to talk. I can talk about anything. I can talk about nothing.

Sometimes I don’t like talking about nothing, but that doesn’t stop me talking about nothing. Nothing is a comfort. Nothing is essential. Did you know that the etymology or the word ‘crumpet’ comes from the Welsh word ‘crempog’ which means pancake?

I like people to know I know things. I like talking about nothing. Without that, there’s nothing.

Nothing I find very interesting. I can talk about it for hours.

 

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A new venture?

 

I’ve just spent the last part of today musing an idea of uploading a video about some of my views on the current political climate. It’s now upon my youtube channel, and it’s decent enough.

I would like to expand some of my thoughts into the video medium, but of course find writing much easier. I’m not close to even being an amateur when it comes to Greek politics, but I find it interesting to talk about and open a discussion none the less. I hope to learn more in coming weeks.

But If you do watch I hope you enjoy the video. I look forward to your feedback!

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The Verbally-aggressive becoming the Physically-aggressive.

SallyKohn.png

The eternal tweet, now a dunce ripe for pelting.(1)

Sally Kohn’s tweet has not aged well. Almost immediately after Trump’s election last November, the stream of protest tweets filled with hatred and anger reached a climax. The sheer volume of tweets directed towards hatred of women, men, white people, black people or any other race were staggering. Everyone was looking for someone to blame, apart from the victors, of course.

A rift emerged deeply within the ‘liberal’ sphere. With the status-quo now demolished, there were dissenters in vain trying to heap blame on their failed messianic pursuit of H. Clinton. ‘It was the white women’s fault! They voted for a rapist!’. Cries such as these were not uncommon. A bubble’d voters disconnect with the wider world of the impoverished middle America, their economic in-sustainability and lack of opportunity, naturally would erupt in sheer outrage and terror at the supposed ‘ineptitude’ of their national brethren. When you’re faced with social stigmatisation and ostracisation for appealing for food-stamps and welfare, you bet your arse that people will vote for anyone who promises to ‘Make America Great Again.’

A classic example of left-liberal hostility comes from Anna Kasparian’s lamenting at the Trump vote:

Her animosity is clear and brutal. ‘I think you’re fucking dumb’. Loud and clear Kasparian shows her clear disconnect to the issues of the impoverished within her own society. Being a ‘warrior’ for social improvement is a noble goal at its core, but the poisonous cult attitudes towards others who do not share these values, or have more pressing issues to address, in society are now entering the realm of physical-aggression. The rhetoric of hatred these people have held against their ‘enemies’ in society, i.e. the poor, has now breached the gap and allowed militant members of their ideologies to target those who hold opposing views.

The problem arises when those unfamiliar to debate believe that those who hold opposing opinions manifest themselves within that said opinion. Those who believe that immigration should be capped are ‘in their nature’ a racist, cannot be saved, and must be silenced, or removed. Their voices are not allowed to be heard. Take for example the screeching competitions held by SJW’s at certain rallies, using any excuse to silence the other.

The use of language has radicalised the left to a rabid state. SJW’s are notable for their verbally-aggressive remarks towards those they disagree with. The saturation of tweets calling others ‘racist’ or ‘bigot’ for having completely rational opposing viewpoints are staggering. It beautifully encapsulates the cult like mentality of ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us’. Wishing for ‘white-genocide’ or other disgusting acts of ‘not-racism-because-they’re-white-lol’ has corrupted the young-minded liberal sphere for the last few years and it is now manifesting itself in the violence seen on the streets of the US. The use of language has radicalised the left to a rabid state.

 

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Typical Antifa poster. Trump is ‘literally’ a Nazi for being conservative. (2)

Posters such as the above are springing up across the US. Some contain images of members of the public who hold dissenting views to the ‘liberal’ norm, targeted by Antifa and other violent organisations who wish to bring harm to others. Violence against others should not be an acceptable precedent to follow. If your party lost, you have to accept the consequences and work together with your new leader to leave your country better than it was before they came to it. As a democracy, this should be the norm, but for whatever reason, this election has pushed the left over the edge, resulting in scenes such as the below occurring across the US.

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The result of ‘everyone’s a racist but me’.(3)

And it’s clearly not just for show. ‘Everyone who disagrees with me is a white-supremacist’ has now flooded into mainstream violence as seen during the J20 protests earlier this month.(4) The ‘Black-bloc’ tactics of the Antifa have emerged in spectacular form, using their full fledged power to destroy some McDonald’s windows. These LARPers are coveting their ability to riot and let out steam against the ‘system’ unopposed. But their use of weaponry and violence is just an escalation of the radical left rhetoric that has been poisoning the minds of this generation since the advent of social media. Those who use verbal-aggression have laid out the red-carpet for mindless violence towards all who have any opposing views. And this is seen as acceptable by the MSM.

This precedent is abhorrent. It is an extremely dangerous tactic to play, and if it is to continue it will only be a matter of time before we see scenes reminiscent of the SA and KPD skirmishes and deaths of the 1920-30’s in Germany. Violence begets violence, and violence begets war. There a turbulent times ahead, but the groundwork for this problem has been laid for years. It will take a tragedy or a miracle, it seems, for people to actually start working together again and see people as human rather than a political party.

 

Refs
1. S. Kohn, 'My sense is...', (Nov 9th, 2016), [accessed: 30/01/17], https://twitter.com/sallykohn/status/796173217530527744
2. https://www.reddit.com/r/PropagandaPosters/comments/4997dq/antitrump_poster_usa_2016/
3. https://twitter.com/Raazoul/status/800433162711166976
4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-inauguration-protests-riots-vandalism-windows-demonstration-violence-police-washington-a7537836.html

 

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Out of bed, out of mind.

The bed is a dangerous place.

In a way, we all already know this. For me, it’s a form of catharsis to be able to expunge all this crap onto you. But the bed, shock horror, is a paralyzing entity. It grabs on to you. It pulls you in. It keeps you lethargic.

We know that we shouldn’t work in bed, eat in bed, read in bed, relax in bed, or any other form of activity apart from sleep and sex. It’s supposedly a way of creating a routine out of your daily schedule in order to improve your sleep. I cannot comment on this. My sleep is relatively stable, and I spend days in bed. That isn’t an exaggeration, either.

The bed, as aforementioned, sucks you in. For me, it’s in it’s full swing at the moment. My bed is my desk, my dining table, my sofa and my computer chair. It’s where I relax, work, eat and sleep. Hardly healthy is it? I should try and vary my routine. Yet I stay in bed. Why?

Is it, from my own gut feeling, that it’s convenient (lazy) to do everything from one space? I cook downstairs, I walk to town daily, I try and keep my exercise levels up. I do mostly normal banal things, yet gravitate towards my bed. Is it a comfort thing? Can’t say I’m comfortable working in bed. If anything it’s a hindrance as it limits my mobility, ability to take breaks and socialise.

Being in bed all day is not good for your mental health. Yet I remain. My mental health fluctuates, and sometimes I spend more time in bed than other times.I suppose it’s a ‘comfort zone’ issue, in its base. I know I should try and ‘expand’ where I work, eat, relax etc. I should work at cafes, libraries. Relax in the kitchen or living room and eat at the table.

I can’t say I feel depressed, but I might be. It might be why I’m writing this in bed right now, at around 11am on a Friday morning. I can say ‘who knows?’ all I like, but in truth, I should simply follow my ACT advice and do something meaningful to change my attitude.

Therefore the obvious solution is to burn every bed in the world.

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On thoughts.

Disclaimer: I am not a trained therapist. These views and exercises are a variation of ones found in Russ Harris’ ‘Happiness Trap’. They are not meant to be an in-exhaustive list of curative exercises, but simply a taster. If you are currently suffering, or think you are suffering, from a mental disorder, talk to someone you trust and make a visit to your GP. If you are in a crisis, dial 999. 

‘Just don’t think about it.’

An offhand remark. But it’s something we cannot do.

We all do it sometimes. We’ve gotten to a point where we’re talking to someone, they’re complaining, and we just want to say ‘don’t worry about it’ or ‘don’t think about it’. Whilst short term bursts of ‘not thinking’ work to a degree, they are of long term detriment to the mind. The simple issue is, we can’t ‘not’ think. Thinking is perpetual. But what kind of thinking do I mean?

The mind, is complex. We know this. But as of the last century, the western attitude towards the mind focuses mainly on the mind as a whole. As in, the mind is a reflection of our inner monologue. It is all encompassing and controlled by us. But looking at Eastern interpretations, we have the duality of the mind. We have the thinking mind and the observing mind. This may be hard to understand, but seeing the mind in a two way faculty it is a great way for us to distance ourselves from unhelpful thoughts. By unhelpful I don’t mean ‘negative’ ones such as sadness or anger, but thoughts that aren’t useful to us in the present moment. Sadness, when grieving, is an essential part of healing, for example. Context is key, but our western mindset pushes our thoughts and feelings into constricted notions of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’.

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Optimistic, yet ultimately unhelpful advice.

So what is this two way model? The best way I can help you understand is with an exercise:

Close your eyes. As you take in a breath, focus in your mind where your thoughts are emerging from. Do they begin in the centre, of to the side, in the bottom left corner? What do they consist of? Are they images? Sounds? Continue to breath deeply. As these thoughts emerge, do not block them. See where they are in the mind. Observe them, as you continue to breathe. Continue this for up to around 10 breaths.

So what should have happened is that your observing mind notices that your thinking mind continues to rabble on even without your direct involvement. In a way you are understanding that your thoughts are simply a process of your mind. They aren’t your inner monologue. It may sound like you, but it is simply an utterance of the environment around you. It prepares you for threats. It judges. It keeps you alive. But you don’t have to listen to it. Your observing mind can choose whether or not to engage with these thoughts. To do this, we can diffuse whenever we’re deep in a difficult thought that might not be useful to us:

Notice your thought. Your thinking self may be telling you that your work today is not acceptable; as if you’re no good. Do not focus on its content, it does not matter. Say to yourself: ‘I am having the thought that I am inept’. By acknowledging the monologue as a thought, not as a true reflection of reality, you can diffuse yourself from it. You have the power to do then whatever you wish.

I cannot go into full detail here the philosophy and the finer details of this model of thought. I suffer from an array of mental issues and this form of therapy has been crucial for the persistence of my well-being. It is in no way perfect, and if it doesn’t work for you, then that’s okay too. It is simply a tool, not a cure. The cure, as cliche as it may sound, is yourself.

Thoughts aren’t you. Remember that.

For more information on ACT see Russ Harris, ‘The Happiness Trap : Stop Struggling, Start Living’, (2007).

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The donation process

My current role, assisting with clothing donations at a local homeless charity, is a busy one. From my recent experiences having interviews, meeting friends and simple small-talk, there is a bit of a disconnect in society between the idea of donating and the actual processes.To set the scene: We work in a small room, there are donations on the left, goods in the centre, and what we can’t use on the right. We grab from the left, determine its usefulness, either put it on the shelves for our users or bag them for the outgoing pile. This is the bare minimum of the role. Other roles include distributing clothing, organisation, delegation and simply chatting to our users. It is a very rewarding role.

There is an assumption that all food, clothing, toiletries etc. has a direct link to the homeless. This, isn’t the case. There’s always the middle man; me! We are inundated with donations on a daily basis. Trust me, you’d be surprised how much we can receive in an hour sometimes. The sincerity of our donors is something we very much appreciate. A typical rota is two people for six hours. It can be surprising sometimes how much we sift through but there’s only so much a small group of young and old people can manage within a few hours.

So what do we receive on a typical basis? Mainly we get bedding, tshirts, jeans, joggers, shoes, gloves, hats and scarves. Every now and again you’ll get the cheeky broken toaster stuffed to the bottom of donation bag, but a large portion of harder goods, such as crockery, books, toiletries and food are distributed within the centre or to our subsidiaries. Unfortunately, and such is the nature of surplus donations, some does not have a direct link to the service user. These include dvd’s, toys, artwork and high end clothing, such as dresses and suits.

However, we receive a tidy profit for a lot of the clothing that we have no room for or aren’t suitable. The cash given can be pumped back into our centre, and is an essential lifeline for maintaining our kitchens and bathrooms. We need to keep our patrons fed and clean folks! We also have our own shop which we take a large degree of the classic ‘vintage’ style clothing that comes our way. It’s essential for our volunteers to be on the cutting edge of fashion trends! (Help.) Very little is deemed bin-worthy, thankfully. But it can be surprising to a new volunteer at the sheer volume of clothing that is  not suitable for our users. The old phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ is very much to the antithesis of what we do. Our service users like new, trendy and suitable clothing. These men (predominantly our main user base) gain a large amount of their dignity through their clothing. So, when we receive torn ten year old jackets, whilst appreciative, if you wouldn’t wear it, neither will our users.

So what do our service users typically look for in their clothing needs?

Typically we’re after:

Hooded coats: Thick jackets, preferably with some sort of waterproofing.

Jumpers, tshirts: Range is typically small to large, with plain tshirts, possibly with a brand logo being popular.

Joggers/jeans: Size 32’s very sought after, as well as medium joggers/trackies. Again, Adidas very popular!

Socks, hat, gloves: Anything goes, but we’re a fan of adjustable mitts.

Shoes: Trainers size 7-10 are the most sought after. The brand matters! But walking shoes are also very popular.

So if you want to donate, call up your local charity. Simply, to avoid waste, ask them what they need. Don’t worry if they don’t need  your clothing. If you call, and ask, you’ll know what they need, and they might not need as much as you think, or sometimes, they’ll want everything you can give!

I cannot reiterate enough how grateful we are for our donations. So to help us help them, try and keep the aforementioned in mind when bringing in clothing. But whatever you do bring, understand that it makes a difference in our userbase’s lives.

 

Refs

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/how-help-rough-sleepers-homeless--11237537

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