Caught in a trap

Hello again.

I don’t, or rather, didn’t have anything profoundly revelatory to tell you today, but instead forced myself to start writing this. I got as far as that last sentence before staring out the window into the darkness of the night for a good 10 minutes or so too, so clearly the words just weren’t coming.

Writing is something that needs to be kept at until you find something to say. Of course, even the most introverted people have something to say, even if it’s in the form of a barely discernible mumble. Importantly, when I say ‘something to say’, I don’t mean any old thing. The internet has given people free reign to open their mouths and brains and let their thoughts come gushing out like a broken waste water pipe. I really don’t think that I’m special or anything (although did I tell you I’ve written and self-published a book?), but I am of the opinion that occasionally the things I write aren’t total pish. Is that self-deluding? A quick glance at the comments left below posts would suggest that, no it isn’t. Or at least that my parents (being they the ones who commented) are at the very least waiting to see me in person before delivering a critical takedown.

Something to say can sometimes prove problematic for me, though. For the last few weeks I’d found myself stuck in a weird rut. Rather than one thing in particular triggering it, it was more a combination of things that got me a bit down, all but one of which don’t need to be discussed here. Weirdly, one of those things, and one which really affected me during this time of Charlie Brown looking-at-my-shoes-while-walking, was the death of someone with whom I have absolutely zero connection to. 

Harris Wittels was a US comedian and writer who had been in a few episodes of the excellent Parks and Recreation, and who I’d heard interviewed on Pete Holmes’ podcast (also excellent). In this interview from a few months ago, he talked very bluntly and openly about his heroin addiction. The way he spoke about it, and the way he told how he was repeatedly conned by dealers in an LA park when he was trying to score was amusing, but also of course immensely sad. He spoke about how he’d adapted his life to work around the edges of his addiction, and subsequently of trying to get clean. Unfortunately a few weeks ago he was found dead, most probably of an overdose (after reading the initial report of his death I’ve made a point of not trying to find out anymore about it - like I say, it really got to me).

Sure, he was funny, but so was Robin Williams, undoubtedly more so, but while I felt sorry for him and his family when he took his life, it didn’t really bother me that much. I can’t really put into words what it was about Harris Wittels’ death that stuck with me either. I know that doesn’t make for a great blogpost. Sorry about that.

I didn’t know him, and barely and only recently knew of him, but RIP Harris.


In my rut I’d written a couple of blogposts, but as I always do, I waited a couple of days to re-read them and let the ideas percolate a bit in my head to see if I was happy with what I’d written. As neither of them have appeared up here, I clearly wasn’t. It'd be nice if others waited a moment before writing stuff, but it seems that these days folk are worried that they’ll be forgotten and left to drift out into the cold dark vacuum of the internet if they don’t continuously blabber on about something or other. I’m not yearning for a return to the stone age, but it’d be nice if people would just stop and breathe sometimes. 

I think I get why people have a tendency to overshare on Facebook though. It gives them a feeing that they’re not alone, and that’s hunky dory - it’s not nice to feel alone. However, because of the immediacy of the internet, it can lead to things being written that are maybe best left unsaid. I'm guilty of that too sometimes. Of course, at the time I justify this to myself as it being something that needs to be said, just as, I assume, other people do too. The benefit of hindsight is a bastarding thing.

I know, I know, "you grumble that people share too much, and yet here you are writing on your blog", but I don't believe that anything I'm saying is too inflammatory or navel-gazing. If I did, I wouldn't write it. For me, at least, this is a way of thinking out loud things that I don't normally speak to friends about for one reason or another. 

Anyway, something to say is one of those things that occasionally escapes me. Particularly when in the company of a group of people who I don’t know particularly well, I just kind of clam up and stand about like a knob. As far as I can rationalise it, it’s made up of a dash of speaking in Italian in front of strangers and worrying that I’ll make an embarrassing mistake, with a soupçon of thinking that I’ll not really have anything of value to add to the conversation, thrown in for good measure. It’s somewhat annoying, but I know what I’m like so I try not to let it bother me that much now. A leopard can’t change its spots, just as much as I can’t change my awkward silent lurking on the edges of social groups. 

When I think about what I was like the many moons ago that I came to live in Italy, the change I see in myself is huge. Back then I was a clueless young oik who didn’t really think about stuff, and now, well now I’m seven years older. I think I’ve grown up quite a bit, and these days only sporadically dream about getting back into Games Workshop (true story, I used to dream about that reasonably often). Who knows, I may eventually grow out of the self-conscious living in my head, but that might take a bit. Neuroses are hard to unwire.

In the meantime, now that I’m out of my funky loop, things are a lot brighter. The sun has come back to Italian shores, and without wanting to tempt fate, it seems that Spring has sprung. I was dead busy at work last week which took my mind off stuff and got me up early in the mornings, and both of these things seemed to help. I often remind myself that wasting energy trying to change things that exist out of my control with my willpower alone is about as useful as a chocolate teapot, and I still can’t even move a pencil across a table with my mental concentration. The only thing that I, and we in general can do, is try to find happiness in the moment. Now is the only time that we can have a real effect on, and while it can be difficult to forget this, it’s worth trying to remember. That’s what I tell myself, at least.

After all, there are bigger fish to fry. In an effort to put off writing this (which is daft, as writing this was entirely voluntary), I started reading about the threat that volcanoes pose to humanity. If I should be worried about anything, I’d say that those would be the things to lose some sleep over.

On the bright side of things though, if there is a super volcano eruption that wipes out a lot of mankind and I somehow survive it, there’ll at least be fewer people for me to feel awkward around. Every (ash) cloud, and all that, eh?