Bristol August 6th 2019

I wish I could put into words the new found confidence I have but it’s best I don’t. Every day when I feel normal and content and unflustered and not thinking all the time ‘What next?’ ‘What do I need to do next?’ or ‘What should I be doing with my life?’ it feels wonderful. Silence in my mind. No that’s not right but less noise. David might see it’s just recognising that thoughts are inside-out, the thought appears and creates a feeling, not outside-in where we think we are being affected by the world around us.

Having said that, not working and having a ball – catching up with my nearest and dearest, sailing to The Scillies and now spending 9 days in The Dodecanese – is likely to create a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing. No kidding. However this wasn’t true at all of the start of the Summer holidays: 3 days of rinsing it on my own and my cousin from Australia made me paranoid and guilty about doing nothing.

This is something else that has changed: unlike other friends who are still regular smokers, stoners and coke takers I’ve realised once and for all that I’m much better off without it. Yes, it happens but far less and when it does there’s way less of everything apart from alcohol. And there is no pining after it. I know the solidity, self assurance and focus on my life and well being at what seems like an important juncture are the new lift.

When I was driving from Suffolk to Bristol the day before my birthday there was this real sense of calm. Gone was the slightly manic side to my nature – the silly, crazy me. Much of the time I just wasn’t thinking anything and when a worry came up it didn’t FEEL like a worry. It didn’t give me that cold rush of anxiety that I had become used to. Somehow we develop don’t we? And it’s a mystery as to how or why.

I saw Lamprini yesterday, my Athenian date and possible future girlfriend. We went to Topsham and got the ferry over to The Turf Hotel and had lunch. She told me about the anxiety she gets from being a senior lecturer at a top university. She told me about that drive to keep adapting and improving one’s life because none of us want to feel that feeling of being stuck in a rut. I know that feeling – when I was at my last job and to some extent in my new – going through the motions, neither loving it or hating it. Somehow inert. Needing to adapt.

When I think of September I’m excited because writing is formally going to become part of my life. Something that I properly DO. At the same time I want to be inventive, creative and consistent in my teaching without it taking over my life. This has always been the tricky balancing act. With 2 days teaching don’t spend any longer than one day planning or marking. It shouldn’t interfere with my writing. My other big idea at the moment is buying a flat in Clifton to let out for Air BnB but that will have to wait.

Anger is an emotion that I think we all feel difficult to contain sometimes. I had another one of those periods of a few hours where everything seems to turn to shit but it’s that perception of it ‘turning to shit’ which probably makes it so. I stopped off in Bristol to pick up Cariprisodol and Zopiclone (ok, I’m no angel, I know).

I seem to have been getting lots of matches on dating apps recently. Can they sense my new found confidence? Now now – don’t be cocky. The temptation into new experiences that wouldn’t have been possible before. Kaitlin. 18 years old. Looking for a daddy for a purely sexual relationship and then what she wanted to dress up as and what she liked to do. Is this wrong? It felt naively all part of the wave of good luck that I’m riding at the moment.

Didn’t have that long to sort out a few things before leaving for Gatwick. At the local Post Office they couldn’t find my order for 800 euros. Oh. I look up post office number but get a helpline which says ‘He-lloooo. We hope you are well. This call will cost you 6 pounds.’ Hmm. Phone the Post Office. ‘For enquiries about travel money go to postoffice.co.uk.’ Feeling the heat rise in my chest. Phone my bank. They’re having problems checking my id. Even after talking about my holiday for a minute the voice recognition cannot id me. Oh, technology. Next they put me through to someone else who starts asking me about what payments I made 2 days ago. My mind goes blank. The strangest thing is happening as I speak to the man at First Direct – my phone is on speakerphone but if I try to turn off speakerphone it won’t let me – it turns off for 2 seconds and then comes back. It’s amazing how quick this slide into chaos is but also how what my reaction is: I’m getting cross but also imagining crazy things: can a phone be infected with a virus? Can someone control a phone remotely? Could Kaitlin be a catfish for a middle aged man intent on fucking with my head or worse stealing the money from my account. Kafkaesque paranoia sets in.

I’m being controlled.

Oh, the power of the imagination (not always a positive thing). No, there is a simpler reason. I forgot to confirm my travel money order with the Post Office and then I don’t know what was going on with my phone but that’s what messed with the voice recognition software. Amazing how it becomes a crisis when these small problems start to stack up added with a time constraint – having a plane to catch – and it develops into a perfect storm. In my mind that is. No amount of telling myself that it’s only thought (David) or trying to pivot to approach the situation as the best version of myself (Dominic) could hold back the vast surges of panic and anger.

Of course I find a bureau de change 5 minutes away on The Triangle and the exchange rate isn’t much different anyway. Suddenly it’s fine. Of course it is. As I walk away from the bureau I check my Tinder feed because I can’t quite believe what Kaitlin says she wants, what potential situation – something I had only ever imagined as a fantasy – we might end up in. As the page loads her photo disappears.

Of course it does.

And I’m left wondering about what might have been with Kaitlin the pretend schoolgirl. Quite possibly for the best.

Are they not the 2 strongest emotions? Anger and desire. And I feel both so intensely. But surely that is what it is to live. It’s always been my philosophy. To live as full a life as possible and to feel as much as possible too. Today was no exception.

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