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Harrowing trials

Posted Jun 17 2008 6:05pm

Today has been harrowing in all sorts of small ways. I went to bed about 10am this morning. An hour later, someone started doing DIY type things in the flat to the left of mine. I have no idea what they were doing, but whatever it was, they managed to do it at the precise rate needed to wake me up and then allow me to fall back to sleep again just in time for the next thump. I don’t know how long this went on for, but eventually it must have stopped because I woke up again a couple of hours later when some men outside decided to throw all kinds of metal objects into their van. This included a fridge. Then they sped off. Loudly. By which time I was awake and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to sleep.

I’d wanted to sleep a little longer because I’d taken the opportunity to defragment my hard drive. This is a task I tend to ignore for months on end until hard drive access times become stupidly long and I’m forced to either a) reinstall Windows or b) actually perform maintainence. Leaving it so long means that this process takes hours and hours. Fortunately, I went down the library yesterday so I had something to occupy myself with in the absence of a usable computer.

I went shopping. I’ve stopped getting my shopping delivered and now actually go to a supermarket, albeit a miniature one in the city centre. Normally I do this on the way back from therapy on Wednesdays, but my therapist had to cancel this week due to illness, so I did it today instead. This is not part of the harrowing series of events that have taken place.

The most harrowing of these events was the process of changing my guitar strings and - at the same time - learning how to change guitar strings. It was a process filled with “Oh shit, this isn’t going to work!” moments and “What the fuck’s going on?” I’ve never been much good at this kind of practical stuff. Nobody ever taught me. My dad’s crazy and seems to honestly believe that everyday household items will kill you if you don’t take all the precautions that nobody else seems to understand. As a kid I never had to mow the lawn because if I did I’d end upcutting off my toes. Removing the starter from a fluorescent light to stop it flickering caused huge arguments because I was obviously going toelectrocute myself. So I never got to learn all the things that men are supposed to know. Like how to put up shelves. Or how to wire a plug. Or, y’know, any of the things dads are supposed to teach their sons.

Sometimes I wonder if my dad feels like he was a good father because there’s so many of these threats around - electricity! fire! drinking paint! falling through the attic floor! accidentally stabbing yourself in the face with an electric drill! - and hey, I’m still here. Sure, he’s destroyed any relationship we might have had, but that’s a small price to pay for saving my life, right? The stupid fucking bastard.

But anyway, that’s why I’m not entirely confident in my ability to do things that involve mechanical parts. I’m getting better at it as I go along. My eventual results are not the neatest, but I’ve tuned my guitar back up and it appears to be working. The new strings sing as sweetly as they can be expected to on a cheap guitar run through a cheaper practice amp. And I had to change the strings because they were beginning to sound like shit. As a consequence of having vast amounts of free time (even more now that I’m sleeping so little) and (possibly as a consequence) a surfeit of energy, I’ve been practicing rather a lot. At least an hour per day, often two, sometimes more. All that wear and tear on the strings adds up. Frankly, they’d begun to sound like they were made from fence-wire.

So that’s basically been my day so far.

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