Feedback

Recently, people have had nice things to say about me. Some of these are cosmetic things, hair and clothes and the like. Some of them are about my writing, which fairly tickles me as I always assume I’m not that good as I just kind of sit down and throw out whatever comes to mind before massaging it into a better order. Some of the feedback I’ve been getting lately has been about how good a friend or partner I am. This last category means the most to me.

But I’m not just writing about the good today. Good feedback is nice, but it’s not always the most essential and formative stuff. Pressure makes diamonds. Negative responses are valuable as they let you know what other people don’t like, and will often lead you to fixing it. Generally this makes both sides happier.

And so I try to improve still, every now and then when a constructive comment comes in and it’s worth responding to. I figured a long time ago that I wasn’t perfect and that there was room for improvement in various areas. Some of it still stings though. Some people like to cut, then they like to throw a bit of salt at it.

Sometimes it feels like people don’t give feedback for genuine reasons of wanting to help out. Sometimes people are just negotiating hard and being destructive to bring down the price. Sometimes people have unrealistic standards. Sometimes they don’t realise that paying a small amount of money for something doesn’t entitle them to make a human person feel bad. People who work in retail or any other service I’m sure will relate. So what should be done about these people?

For a start, I propose that managers actually tell their staff when they think customers are unreasonable. I have been blessed with mostly good managers so this hasn’t been a huge problem for me, but I could definitely see feedback being used as an excuse to not pay someone enough. In addition, everyone could benefit from reading the book Fuck It by John C. Parkin. It’s a synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy, which preaches the phrase ‘fuck it’ as the ultimate mantra for handling situations and dealing with stress. It’s a fantastic read for a philosophical underpinnings to the phrase.

Learning to say “fuck it” to life’s little irritants has made me a generally cooler person. I spend a lot less time fighting the stupid fights in my head. There are far more valuable things to think about without getting caught up on petty things.

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One final note on which to leave you. A former manager of mine was a very capable fellow. He had a brilliant way to slowing everything down, normally with the single word “Oh?”, followed by some non-verbal communication (hmms and ahhs), before finishing up with a “Right…”, and providing his solution. This is much more instructive when you watch it up close.

Anyway, I knew what was happening because I saw him do it multiple times a day. But to each individual who saw him he probably gave the impression of a uniquely focused and interested man. This semblance of caring very deeply and being very focused about a customer’s problem is probably the right one, provided you can come up with a solution at the end instead of just humming.

This manager had a brilliant expression on this topic: “Feedback is a gift;” and then when the begrieved parties  were out of earshot, “it can be accepted or rejected”.

 Constantly feeling like he’s bitten off more than he can chew, the writer wrote this piece on his day off and therefore naked.

Prague Pride

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Pretty sure the above photo is from last year. Today it was overcast. The temperature was good though. Especially because the Prague Pride march involves many people dressed in clothes which are not good when it’s hot. I’d hate to be one of the leather guys in Summer.

This year I was with 4 people, my fiancée, and my friends Teddy, Siti and Jen. I wore a dress and pearls and looked very fancy and quite fabulous. For me this now just seems like a standard thing to do but I imagine this could do with some explanation.

From a youngish perhaps teenage age I have been pretty jealous about the variety of women’s clothing. It seems they put men in some strict box-shaped attire, primarily white, black and grey. Ladies meanwhile get to walk about in a huge variety of materials, cuts, and colours. At some point or other I just decided to fuck the universe, care a lot less about what everyone thought about it, and start wearing skirts and dresses from time to time.

That’s basically it. The clothes look good and feel nice. There’s a huge range of people living outside the typical gender setup. This goes from people without a gender to people with multiple genders that they switch between. Personally, I identify best with genderfuck. This is a great concept which involves playing around with what gender is in the first place by over exaggerating it. So I dress pretty but talk in a deeper voice than normal.

Of course, that’s just one other aspect of my character, and unfortunately not one I can generally express in my day to day life. You might have seen me rally against professionalism in previous posts and here is the same argument. Professionalism is an irritating concept that prizes conforming to some strict standards over individuality. People are expected to only be themselves in their free time. Any deviation is treated as something perverse and wrong. This is a horrible way to manage society.

This pushes people into fitting into moulds that they can’t fit into, it puts extra stress and pressure on people when they can’t conform. The only possible benefit of conformity that I can see is some sort of tribal identification method, where you can tell instantly if somebody is going to steal your food by what they are wearing. In the current world we’re living in stealing food is at an all time low. And so I hate narrow professionalism. Dress codes are horrible. Let a guy wear a skirt. Instead the only clothing choice most guys are permitted is what colour of tie they will wear. Patterns are often considered an aberration if they are too vibrant.

So that’s my take on Pride. I like it as a chance to see a lot of openminded people dress in ways that please them instead of their everyday uniforms. I could have addressed a few other things, like how lots of huge companies had rainbow coloured advertising, or what my own sexuality means to me* but instead I chose to talk  about gender and professionalism and fucking them both.

Happy Prague Pride Eveybody!

*It doesn’t take an intellectual to get that I’m bisexual, banging tune.

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My Brother

In life there are important people. Some are gained along the way, like my fiancée or the many fabulous people I’ve met in Prague and at university. Some fall into your life because of school or where you lived and they stick there, like my mate Sam or my friend Dan B. Some you were literally born from and of. And then there are the people you were born before and after. Today’s bonus entry is about the final category.

Coming into the world three years before me, my brother is someone I respect. He has seniority. He carries himself with a great amount of authority. He likes things his way. As kids we didn’t see eye to eye on every issue so that led to some scraps. He generally got the better of me but I was happy with a few of the good punches I landed. And the time I put soap on his toothbrush because he was annoying me. Still, for all the fighting, which I actually really enjoyed, and some of the insults we traded, we always cared for each other.

He always pushed me as a child and into my teenage years. He challenged me. If he couldn’t beat a level on the PlayStation then I read the instructions and had great fun getting past it. I think I had more patience. We often worked together on the different levels and used the 2 player mode a lot. He was generally player 1, seniority wins out. It might seem shallow to spend so much time focusing on video games, but they were a large part of childhood and our relationship.

We hung out with each other a lot, skateboarding up the flowerbeds at the end of the street, in Scouts, stick fighting. It was a good childhood. We were almost always together. He was what made it a good childhood.

See my great fear is loneliness. I hate being by myself for long periods of time. A bit is fine and I don’t even need to talk to people, but having other people in the room is good. Any time we weren’t in school or seeing our friends we were together. For 17 years we were near inseparable.

Time fucks us all. We grew up and he started working as a chef. I was in high school and then university and we didn’t get to see each other much. I love how he always made time for me, though. Every week we had a pint together at the Bank Hotel. I regret that I didn’t reach out more at the time and he had to do more of the heavy lifting as far as organising this went.

Eventually he got tired of the chef life. Long hours, angry people, hot kitchens, low pay as he was salaried and the hours almost always outpaced what he was paid for. He did something brave. He took a chance and jacked his job in to go and see what Barcelona had to offer. While there he made a bunch of friends, ended up sleeping on the floor of one of them, and eventually fell in love with her. They now live on the other side of the planet.

So I don’t see him much these days. We’re bad at Skype and I think we both hate it a bit. It hurts that he’s away and seeing him is rare, but I’m glad he’s following his path in life and that he’s made good choices.

If there’s one other thing that can be said about him it’s that he is the best damn brother someone could hope for. He made me a better person, I grew tougher, funnier, and more confident because of him. He doesn’t always show it but he cares a shitton about people . He flew across the world for my mum’s big celebration recently, just because he knew it’d be a good thing.

So that’s my brother in a nutshell. He cares, he makes jokes, he knows what he wants and he goes for it. He’s also got some annoying self-defence technique that I always seem to fall for and need to find some way of disarming before I next see him.

I love my brother.

And have a good birthday, ya old bastard.

 

Strange Parallels

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If there’s one major advantage to travelling it is that it exposes you to different cultures and different experiences. Were it not for the fact I accidentally travelled to the Czech Republic, I would have likely never seen the topic of day’s post. I have discovered an abnormal similarity between two films. The above happy children’s movie about a guy everyone thinks is The Special, who isn’t, and who overturns tyrannical rule with the help of a team, and the following:

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I promise you I’m going somewhere with this

A 1991 Czech film about an engineer who starts working at a factory and finds it full of corruption and nonsense. A “Musical of Totalitarianism”.

How? What scrambled thoughts could lead to this conclusion? Observe.

In this film clip, the main character, an engineer, a career about developing new ideas and putting them together, visits the factory bar. The DJ plays an epic song, a mainstay of Czech music, where the lyrics are “Je to fajn” – it is fine, it’s all good buddy. Relax, do your work and smoke your cigarette. While in this film clip, “Everything is Awesome” – everything is fine, it’s cool man. Relax, listen to your repetitive mind-numbing and very catchy pop music and drink your overpriced coffee.

These songs function as the central points of the films. The Lego Movie is about the lead character realising everything is NOT awesome while Kour (smoke), a lot darker in tone, makes it pretty clear throughout how messed up it all is.

Here I will have to freely confess my inability to properly dive into this topic. I have seen both films only once, Lego on Boxing Day last year and Kour at Zizkovsiska during film night. I must also admit that I have some difficulties finding anything in English about Czech films. Comparing its IMDb page to The Lego Movie’s further shows the difference in material to work with. Also, not speaking Czech, I have some issues understanding all the nuances. But here’s is what I have so far.

Both films are fundamentally about work and society. They are about doing your job while being bossed around by shadowy figures, and they are about the distraction that we all have, music. It’s interesting that in both films neither of the main characters save the day alone. In Kour the main character nearly becomes the victim of the corrupt factory managers until he is saved by the other factory workers shouting “It is worth it!” and storming the big meeting. In The Lego Movie the lead was never “the Special” and can only win with the help of everyone else.

It’s an enlightening process watching both films as they show so much about the types of life people live. They also show a way out through the collective action of saying no. Change is possible and you have to be the one to make it. The message of both the films is revolutionary.

When not watching Czech films or consuming media, the writer of this piece likes to write copiously and is trying to write posts of about 500 words a day every day of this month. Today’s entry is a little short, but since a picture is worth a thousand words and there are two of them this piece is far beyond that, without even accounting for the fact that videos are made of 25 pictures a second and each of the above videos was over a minute long. Today I have written a load of words about a tricky subject and I implore you to watch both those films. 20 days left!

The Three O’Clock Cuddle

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I’m a sentimental young fool, as well as a bit of a traditionalist. As long as the tradition makes sense and especially if it’s one of my own. With this in mind, here is today’s story.

“Can all available members of staff please meet on the 2nd floor for the three o’clock huddle?”

Little did that member of staff at that branch of Boots on Edinburgh’s Princes Street know, they had achieved immortality. I had gone out on an errand with my friends Beth and Cat. Thanks to my poor hearing and the tannoy system, I misheard ‘huddle’ – a word from sports which means ‘to form a close group to discuss tactics’ – as ‘cuddle’. Businesses love using sports images. They all sound so declarative. They talk about ‘ball park figures’, ‘hit it out of the park’, ‘down for the count’, and such things. And so it happened that the three o’clock huddle became the three o’clock cuddle.

I embraced Cat and Beth in turn, to their bewildered looks.

“Didn’t you hear the man? It’s time for the three o’clock cuddle!”

They told me the guy said huddle, but I heard what I heard. The idea was planted. A quick wee entry on my calendar, changed the setting to repeat every day, and that was that. Every day at three o’clock I’d try and cuddle someone.

The effect was… interesting. Some people were right into it and loved the sound of it. A few preferred to say ‘hug’ instead of cuddle. This, to my ear, sounds less sincere so I’m quite hardline on the name. Some traditions are important. Commit to the cuddle. When it’s possible I prefer to cuddle the straightest, most stoic looking men. They tend to need the affection the most and though they are slow to get involved, they do come to appreciate it. It’s a fun quirk and is perfectly harmless. I try to make sure people, are at least somewhat on board with it first.

It started as a very inclusive tradition. It was originally anyone, anywhere, as long as it was three PM. Unfortunately, I had to roll this back. Eventually I got a job and it was deemed ‘unprofessional’ – a horrible word that to me means robots, the blank eyed stare of an automaton. In addition, some people were quite anti. In the past I thought those were people who just needed it the most but I eventually became aware that you can’t reach everyone all the time.

It was a hard lesson. Finding out, as a fairly extroverted people-pleasing person, that you can’t reach them all. It hurt. I thought that if we were free of the narrow confines that everyone seems committed to, we could all become fellow creatures. We could all cuddle and get over the nonsense that divides us. Compromise is a horrible truth of this world, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’d hate to cause unnecessary discomfort.

Whenever possible I still do it. It may not be marked in my phone, but it’s marked on my heart. My commitment to my love of all, even if some people suck a bit. Cuddles can unite us far more than they can divide us. And, you know what?, I just like cuddling people.

So spread the love. If it’s ever three and you see I’ve forgotten, come surprise me. If you see someone else who looks like they need it, go and shock them. Making the world a bit uncomfortable for a minute is well worth the gain in comfort and love that you and everyone else will feel.

Please cuddle responsibly.

10th day and still going strong, I aim to finish 21 more of these on different topics. Stay with me!

The Shower Principle

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Do you brush your teeth in the shower? I formerly did, but had to stop as somebody I lived with complained about the mess. It’s good anyway because showering should be showering and brushing teeth should be brushing teeth. Then again, sometimes a strange thing can happen when you do something mundane.

I was brushing my teeth when an idea hit me. Then another. And another. Of the first two ideas, one is thus far unwritten and the other is a hotter take than the nuclear war Trump may be escalating towards. I may well not write this hot take, but we’ll see what the demand is like. The third of these ideas was about how I came up with so many ideas while doing something basic.

From the cursory research, it appears the Shower Principle is an episode of 30 Rock. That would explain where I got it as I love that show. The principe is simple; doing something which requires no thought or effort is a great time to come up with new ideas as it allows different parts of your brain to work. It enables your higher processing centres to creatively solve a problem. It’s essentially a eureka moment that comes out of nowhere, a bolt from the blue. One minute you’re  brushing your teeth, and the next minute you’re running through to the living room with toothpaste froth pouring out the corners of your mouth as you scrabble for a pen to write them all down. They flow fast.

The Shower Principle is quite hard to verify scientifically, mostly because it sounds like bullshit. How can showering transform a person into an ideal problem solver? Well, perhaps it doesn’t work for everybody. Maybe you need to have the right type of thinking to initiate it. Think about Newton lying against a tree reading and thinking about science. The famous apple comes down and bonks him on the head. So he develops gravity and the laws of movement based on this one apple, in one of the most intricate revenge tales ever.

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How do you like them apples?

It’s a nice story, and it sounds like a variation of the Shower Principle, but it does kind of rely on Newton knowing enough  to get him started in the first place, He was already open to the idea that the universe could be measured and verified and he just needed a question to try and answer.

“Why do apples hate me?”

These eureka moments when you are doing nothing are a great fantasy, but the thing to remember is that there is a lot of boring work first. I have written things for ages, in diaries and word documents, for university, and all such,  but it is only recently that I began publishing them in good amounts. That work was a necessary step. Now the challenge comes in opening myself to possibilities. I’m so glad some of these come while brushing my teeth. Oral hygiene is important.

So, today’s message, today’s story: open yourself to finding ideas in weird places. You never know what might just fall into your lap. If you write, grand, think often, write down all your ideas, develop them. If you’re a musician, listen to the sounds around you and see if any of them tickle your fancy. If you’re a photographer you are probably already used to using the world as your paint palette but do this more. If you do something else, take all of this analogy and apply it to your individual pursuit. If you open yourself to thinking you will be very happy with the result.

Part pretentious and part delusional, the author of this particular piece is currently writing a new item every day of this month and right now is writing entirely in the third-person. It’s a blast.

 

Summer and the Gripes of Wrath

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Prague, for all it’s charms and loveliness, has one major problem. It is too damn hot. At least, for about 2 weeks of the year. Those weeks are hellish and the discomfort is compounded by a couple other factors. It has become my least favourite time, which is a shame as it formally ranked high.

The air gets extremely stuffy. The city is nowhere near the sea. It’s famously landlocked. There is a river, but it does not precipitate enough to offset the stifling air. Occasionally, some clouds do get through, and a crack of lightening liberates the rain. The weather gets nice for a couple days but then builds to another damnable heat. It is woefully oppressive.

Another factor that make this season horrible is the fact that some days half of my students cancel. For some reason, it’s always the middle guys. This leaves me in an awkward situation. There isn’t always time to go home. Sometimes there are no classes to plan for. Cafes cost money. Alcohol is inadvisable before work and more than one makes the weather even harder to weather. Cancelled classes often equal a loss of revenue at a later date. It’s no wonder so many people go off to do Summer camps and such, but I rarely think that far ahead.

Owing to the fact that I came here accidentally for two months in Winter/Spring, I do not have a lot of Summer clothes from back home. New clothes often seem a bit of a waste to me. After all, they will only be unwearable come Autumn. A new pair of shorts has proven an extremely necessary investment. Last year I just wore the same ones all the time. It was a bit manky (a handy Scottish word that means disgusting). Other than that, in the past year I have only bought or received new pants and socks. I overheat constantly. Every day I run around this hot hot city in clothes optimised for 12 – 22 degrees, when it’s more often 27+. People from really hot places scoff, but I’d almost always rather be too cold than too hot.

The biggest gripe though has got to be the fact that this season makes me insanely nostalgic. Young Summers were so much more fun. From 8 till about 19 or so I went to Mallorca nearly every year with my folks. I got to swim in the sea and eat too much food, and a crazy amount of ice cream. I’m surprised my teeth survived the sweetness. I must stop a second and thank them once again in print for doing that for me. As well, I need to send out good vibes to the Bonanca boys who always showed us a slice of a relaxed life. Besides the holidays were my rural adventures up on Dan’s farm, running about woods and such. There was my time in the Scouts going to camps. There was skateboarding and music festivals.

And so here are my gripes about Summer summed up as well as I can. It is too damn hot. Being hot is no good when you don’t have ice cream. Hot weather is not cuddling weather. I miss Mallorca and the sea. I haven’t touched the Mediterranean in 5 years at least. What Summer is when you grow up a bit is too much work and discomfort and an inability to sleep right. My planned early Autumn holiday in Croatia cannot come soon enough.

Grumpy at heat but nevertheless continuing to bear my soul, including the angrier, more annoyed bits, every day of this month.

How to Be Happy

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It’s Sunday and I’m lying in bed, relaxing after yesterday’s excitement. It has given me a moment to think about happiness. The picture above is of Gordon’s place, Zizkovsiska, which I miss horribly as it’s closed for the Summer. I was always happy there. Great movies, soup, and music. It must be said that it isn’t always the most comfortable place, but that’s good as comfort breeds laziness.

I’ve talked before about my laziness and how I’m working against it, today I will give you what I think is the main reason for it.


 

“Are you happy here?” My Dad asked me one night at my parents old house. I’d been staying there for the Summer since the uni was closed.

My dad gets me so I knew I could be honest.

“I’m more comfortable, but not fully happy.”

To my reasoning, comfort and happiness, while not in opposition to each other, are not directly related. They are neither friends or enemies, they just have different interests.

Eating enough makes you comfortable, but not happy. The happiness of food is in its novelty or its context, how you got said food and why you’re eating. This is why, in my mind, though we have more material items in our life than ever and fewer of us are hungry as a percentage than ever, we still suffer historic highs of depression, anxiety, and concomitant suicide.

We have gotten to a point of human history where we can produce so much for so many people, but it doesn’t fulfill us. It can’t. Stuff is just stuff. And stuff is not happiness. The happiest places in the world are not necessarily the richest. Instead, happy places tend to result from a different understanding of how the world works, and this is it.

Stuff does not equal happiness. Comfort isn’t even the most important defining issue. Happiness comes from a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement, and a sense of community.


In my new life here, I have seldom found myself comfortable. Talking to strangers in a language they are not totally familiar with is hard. Travelling between classes on crowded metros is hard. The weather here is difficult, cold Winters and blistering Summers. On top of that, many of the little things are different from the stuff I grew up with. Light switches flick up instead of down. Toilet locks go from vertical to horizontal instead of the opposite. Add to the this the language difference and the sheer terror when you encounter somebody you need something important from who doesn’t speak your language, and does not seem interested in finding a mutual level of understanding, and you get pretty uncomfortable pretty quickly.

But have I been happy? Fuck, yes.

The people are grand and most things are not so difficult as they might seem from my description above. I’ve got the sense of community from my friends and the places I go, and I’m getting my sense of purpose continually reaffirmed when my students get a little noticeably better. It feels good to be living independently and to be engaged. Both of these are achievements, as it isn’t easy keeping someone interested when you mess up like I do from time to time, and the Czech wage and rent inflation makes housing here a challenge.

I’m even beginning to get a little comfortable. Light switches make sense now. I don’t need to double check every bathroom lock so I can shut the door with confidence. I understand a bit of the language and can get by in most situations with my miming powers. The weather is still a pain, but in the absence of sci fi tech that will keep it at a constant of 20C with decent humidity and a gentle breeze there’s nothing I can do.

To sum up, happiness takes a lot more effort than comfort. It takes time and you have to foster a community and find a purpose. It’s very worth it though, as when you get past the pointless distractions you uncover how much capacity the human soul has for pleasure and for love.

 

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

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You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Today I come to you with a trip, my love for Dr. Seuss, and a valuable life lesson from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!. It was his final work and one of his best-selling as it is a firm favourite as a graduation present. From beginning to end, the book thrills and delights. Even when I first read it at the age of 20 I could tell it was something special, something beyond ‘just’ a kid’s book. It is a tale of life. It follows an unnamed character as they adventure, and it is honest. It has the bad times as well as the good. For me, today was one of the good ones.

We, myself, my fiancée, and my friends Tom, Ray, and Yana, went to Czech Switzerland. At first I thought this might be a joke name, something slangy and self-deprecating. Even as a former visitor of the Scottish Highlands I will say it surprised me with how good it was. It had impressive vistas, a verdant forest, and more large rock formations than you could shake a decent sized stick at. The trip all started when Ray and Tom discussed it and sent word around. Never one to pass up a good day trip, I eagerly went for it.

I had been getting stressed. The heat of the city, the mugginess of the oppressive air, and the occasional existential question. A trip to the wilderness was needed. Why could I find not relaxation in the city, you ask? I will let the good doctor explain.

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And the next page!

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And this is why I love Dr. Seuss. He uses the right amount of space to express things. “It’s opener there in the wide open air”, indeed!

Some stress relief on a moderate hike seemed a capital idea.

The crew was made up of other English teachers. About half were American, two from Scotland, and a Russian. All of them are here for different reasons, but I tend not to discuss why other people are here. It hits me as too personal a question, even if I know someone well. They are an interesting crowd. The first thing to know about Ray is that’s he’s giant, and the next is that he’s very warm and personable. Tom hits me like a father-in-waiting, at that cool sepia toned photo stage of life that all our dads went through, when they were just cool dudes and not fathers.  Still tells a million dad jokes, though. Yana hits me as one of the most inquisitive people I’ve ever met. She must have asked me 50 questions, mostly about things or people I hate. I like talking and hate quite a lot so there were no specific problems here.

On the train here we talked shop and life. As we were leaving the greater city area, I took out my copy of Dr. Seuss and started reading. This developed into a round, each person saying a page. Poor Yana got stuck with darker pages almost every time. On the dark pages, the story gets a little sad as Dr. Seuss essentially says, “You know what kid? Life may suck and get bumpy from time to time. You might not be good at everything, but with the right attitude and mindset, you’ll go far.” It’s a valuable lesson for kids and for adults.

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This was the last page Yana read to us on her round. It is my favourite page in the book. To me, it says that even if you aren’t the best, you should push yourself and see what you manage. Most of the time the result is good and you might end up like this guy.

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Pulling a damn mountain with a smile on your face like it’s no issue. We made it up the hill in good time and look at the sights from the top. The Doctor was right, it is certainly open.

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The trip itself was not difficult and end to end it all went well. Still, there’s a brilliant sense of accomplishment that I think we all feel when we do something big on a weekend. It was also a brilliant antidote to the difficulty of city life. In a way, it was a perfect encapsulation of Dr. Seuss’s main point; life has its challenges and difficulties but if you keep on going you have a good chance of doing something amazing. As I go forward in my attempt to write something new every day this month, this lesson will surely be of use.


Extra words: We saw this big rock on our climb. It was so big that everyone had put sticks next to it to hold it up.

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Each of these sticks alone stands little chance of stopping the stone from falling, but with the collective effort of enough people they can hold back the tide. Here was my addition.

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My Fiancée (With Two E’s)

Look at your life. Now look at mine.

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Now look back at your life. And then look at mine.

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Sadly, your life isn’t mine, but it could be like mine. Look at my plate.

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They are cookies. They are heart shaped and they were delicious. Look away. Now look back.

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THE COOKIES ARE NOW PANCAKES!

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Rainbow Cakes symbolise our covenant

Okay, I’ll stop that before it becomes too exhausted. The point is, my fiancée bakes and she bakes really well. I remember the first time I tasted a thing she baked and I decided then and there that I would marry her as the surest way to corner the lucrative market that is her cake. I wanted to be at the business end of every cake. I wanted to help/hinder the creation of every one. To taste the very cream of life!

My tongue makes good choices.

In the time we have been together I have grown so much as a person. Around about this time last year I lost the lot in two phases. My phone, wallet, and metro pass on the first occasion and my passport, dignity, and glasses on the second. I had a couple difficult run ins with the transport police and had to pay fines out of my already sparse money. It was an extremely hard time and it made me reevaluate my drinking and the choices I made in keener detail.

Between the two phases of loss, my fiancée went to visit her friends in Italy. I was very near the point of humiliatingly begging my parents to get me home as I clearly wasn’t ready for adult life, even in my mid-20s. I had felt like some kind of horrible, unlovable, wreckage of a human. When I told her I’d lost more things I expected she’d turn on me like I deserved. She did something unexpected. She gave me a new wallet.

It turns out while she was in Italy she had walked past some leather merchant, which sounds like an old fashioned name for a boxer or a dirty joke, and she’d seen a wallet and thought of me. She told me she loved me and would help me get through it. I believed her, and we did it. Together.

Why do people decide to become partners in this world? There are 7 billion folk on the planet and many cultures have this concept of “the one” – the single most important  provider of all warmth, comfort and companionship. What’s with there being 7 billion people, it’s incredibly unlikely there is only 1 person you can be with. It’s telling that many people find their true love within 40 miles or so. Twice the distance equals half the trade, I suppose. Instead, I look at my relationship as a choice.

It was an exceptional choice that I chose to talk to her at the bar that night when there about 16 other people I could have started talking to. In a city of a million people, she is the one who consistently brightens my day. She laughs and cringes at my jokes in equal measure. Our music tastes are similar enough to work without either of us getting defenestration fantasies. We are good at dividing responsibility at looking after our house. She accepts me for who I am, all the weird quirks and foilbles.

It will be an absolute pleasure to spend my life with her. Together we’ll see more of the world and fill our own book of love together. I have ideas already but I will change and adapt to fit the situation as required. As long as she is there, I will do it gladly. I have tasted of the cream of life, and I want more from her. Forever.

Below find a selection of the type of cakes she bakes and which will surely lead to a tense kilt test on the day before the wedding.

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Partner