Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Something Happened

I had a small epiphany today. These are very rare for me, despite the fact that I read shitloads of epiphany-heavy short stories, and read enough 'inspiring' literature to start a movement on its own (Although I have no idea what it would be a movement about).

I was standing on the train, listening to Stevie Wonder (which isn't the usual soundtrack to great revelations) and dwelling, amongst other things, on each droplet of sweat as it gathered pace and trickled down my spine, before absorbing into the waistband of my pants. It wasn't one of the most pleasant journeys I've had, the only respite from the heat was the occasional gusts of dusty, noisy air that blew in when another train passed ours. These would cool me down for a moment, then stick my shirt damply to the sweat on my back, which would make things worse.

I was reading a book that I bought years ago, called Something Happened by Joseph Heller. I bought it after I had my last notable revelation, about the way that I was happily sabotaging my own life, after reading his first book, Catch-22. When I got it I couldn't get on with it, I struggled for a few hundred pages before giving up, in the face of the relentless unlikeability of the main character, and the monotony of his domestic life.

Coming to it now, a few years older and possibly a little wiser (better read, certainly) I find it a much more readable and interesting book. For the last few days I've been reading it, I've been thinking that the main character reminds me of someone, not that strongly, but enough to ring little bells in my head. Today, whilst some part of me was counting the sweat droplets and another was concentrating on keeping me upright, the part that was paying attention to the book had a moment of realisation. The part of the book I'd got to, you see, is titled "My Daughter is unhappy" and details, amongst other things, the protagonist's arguments with his teenage daughter, and his own feelings about the way he conducts them. At this point, somewhere past Lewisham Station, I realised that the person I was being dimly reminded of was me. I don't have a daughter, thankfully, but the pedantic superior tone that the protagonist takes with his daughter was almost an exact mirror of the way that I bicker with my kid sister.

As I've said before, I'm really not very articulate, this is why I need literature, and friends, and the words of those smarter than me. These words can give shape to various half articulated ideas that are sitting in my head, to all the little suspicions that I've not been able to find the words to voice. Reading the main character's analysis of his own conduct, I was able to see the stupid reasons behind my own, and just how much of a jerk I must appear to everyone else.

I went home and when Izzy came up to borrow my metronome, took the opportunity to apologise and to give some idea of why I'm always such a jerk.

After I'd finished my slightly embarrassed explanation my little sister pointed out that she'd always known perfectly well all the things that I'd only just realised myself. I remembered that unlike the kid in Something Happened, my little sister usually wins those clashes, she's got a quicker tongue and a better insight into what makes people tick than I'll ever be able to grasp. She's also kinda thick sometimes, but she is ten years younger than me, so slack must be cut.

The funny thing is that a realisation like that makes me happy, becoming aware of the fact that I'm a jerk in some respect feels a bit like getting some written music, I have the answer written right there, I just need to practice it. Which is something I'm getting quite good at these days.


I think I managed to ruin someone's day today, although I really don't know how. I was standing on the tube and after bank, where loads of people get off, i sat down next to a quite pretty young woman. I felt something touch my foot lightly as I sat down, and saw that I'd knocked over her Thermos coffeecup thingy, she reached down and put it back upright again (it was closed) and I apologised. A few minutes later, as I was sitting there listening to my music, I noticed that she was glaring at me. I could see that she was looking at me, and I could see that it wasn't a happy face. I wasn't listening to my music loudly, or dancing about like I do sometimes. Whenever I looked round, she stared down at her feet, though, so I wasn't sure if it was all in my head. Just as we were coming towards Angel station (where I get off) I noticed that she was quite unambiguously eyeballing me. I turned round at looked straight at her, pulled my headphones out and said
She continued to glower at me with a look of absolute contempt for another few seconds, then got up and walked to the door. I saw her a bit later, stomping angrily up the stairs as if she was working up a serious Huff. I'm guessing she must have said something that I didn't catch, but still, it was a little unsettling to be regarded like that so soon after breakfast.

Anyway, I really should get to sleep now. Please excuse the countless errors I'm sure there are in this, I'll go through it tomorrow.