here is distant

It was so hot in there I was sweating.

I had to introduce each body part to the water, one by one.

My genitals were buoyant and my muscles blended into the water.

Water surrounded my ears until the podcast man was saying sounds, not words.

Head tipped back, eyes closed, my breathing holes rode the still surface of the pool.

The stillness was broken with a swoosh as I emerged, like a fish in water.

I rewarded my body by scrubbing it all smooth with clean bubbles.

I felt naked and happy,

You can buy it online. I didn't even have to leave my flat. I confidently googled on incognito, and three or four clicks later I was shopping for bodies. It's not amazon so there was no filter for price, lowest to highest. Prices started from £150 for a one hour outcall. “outcall” in layman's terms is when a girl travels to wherever the client wants. An incall is £20 cheaper, but for someone who lacks the social confidence for Subway, I would implode trying to navigate a fucking brothel. This site had a webchat, so could accommodate clients like me who can't handle a phone call.

Incall or outcall? Which girl? What time? Before I had to answer these questions I had to answer society's question how do you morally justify this? Society doesn't give a shit if you wear clothes made in a sweat shop, or carry around a mobile device assembled by a child. Or if you buy a sandwich from a sandwich shop made for you by someone earning 15 times less than Bella, who visited me for one hour. I justified it because I am lonely.

I studied the feminist debate on sex work at university. In an oversimplified nutshell there's 3 viewpoints. 1) The act of buying and selling sex is the embodiment of patriarchal male control over the female body, 2) labour cannot be separated from the person possessing it, so sex work is as oppressive as other wage labour and 3) sex work can be empowering for women if they can have control in their work. I can sympathise with each view.

I once knew an unqualified 19 year old cunt who was given a supervisory role in a British factory, only because his skin was white. His employees would pay to visit a woman in the back of a van who was driven in for their break.

Free choice is exercised to whichever extent individual circumstances allow.

Bella was a graduate who worked part-time in bank. Bella wouldn't have been in my flat if she could do anything she wanted. If I could do anything I wanted I wouldn't have spent 8 hours today selling ancillary products to aviation companies. Life is shit. I felt morally ok paying to be with Bella but incredibly socially uncomfortable.

I've never really had new year's resolutions before but I need improvements in the following areas: Physical, Emotional, Romantic, Sexual, Social, Economic, Creative, and Miscellaneous.

Let's review 2018 and set aims for 2019.

PHYSICAL 2018: -Weekly football, but intermittent -Good: More parkruns (5k runs) than 2017 -Bad: Got a desk job. Don't move much. -Good: Commute by bike -Good: eating less meat because veggie flatmate -Bad: sometimes get drunk, sometimes drink 3+ days a week

2019: -More regular football -Swim once a week -Drink less -Eat less choc ices -Do bike delivery jobs

EMOTIONAL 2018: Had a very low end to the year due to break up

2019: get help, try online counselling if no one to talk to.

ROMANTIC 2018: Ended a three year relationship. Loneliness and feelings making me half regret.

2019: Have crushes, have romance, make out with someone I fancy

SEXUAL 2018: Distance relationship = not enough sex.

2019: Have sex daily. Ideally in a relationship. But tbh when you're balls are blue I won't be fussy. Want to fuck an escort and suck a dick. I can't wank the year away. That would make me cry 2/3 times a day.

SOCIAL 2018: Declining social circle. No new friends on the horizon. No idea where to find them.

2019: Make friends. New hobbies? New job?

ECONOMIC 2018: First full time salary.

2019: Earn more. Use my master's degree. Romance has priority over a new job though.

CREATIVE 2018: No huge creative output.

2019: Regularly blog, make a new YouTube video, enter a short story competition.

MISCELLANEOUS – Get driving license – Read more than 12 books – Get good at pubg – Play less mobile games – Listen to more music I haven't heard before. – Document all films I watch – Cook more – Give more to charity – Have more compassion – Think more about how my actions affect others – Speak more

I find it very strange not having you around. Disconcerting, and lonely. My life is now just monologue after monologue and nothing in between but the sense of my character rapidly disappearing. Everything I ever liked about myself has been drained out of me and the vessel where it once was, is empty. I could always communicate better on the page, but now I feel as if speech is something I can only spectate. That’s a dangerous thought to have, but there’s no one around to correct me. I’m talking shit because that’s what is in my proximity: I’m inside my own head which, if you haven’t noticed, is shoved very far up my own arse.

Alejandro is Spanish. He has a 17-year-old son with an English mother. They met when she was on an Erasmus year in North-West Spain. People take the piss out of Julio. He won “the most unnecessary use of words” award at work, but I like him. He always used to touch my shoulder as he passed me at the end of the day, saying something like “bye” or “see you tomorrow”. Until one time something happened, and he never did it again. It was about three weeks ago, and he was leaving as usual. As he was heading past me, I stopped him because I had something to say to him. Whilst I was taking a second to remember what it was, he told me he was sorry for touching my shoulder and that he won’t do it again. I said No Alejandro, it wasn’t that, that’s fine, before adding something about the meeting tomorrow. He never touched my shoulder again. He still says “bye”, as he walks past me on the way to the door, but he stops himself from fulfilling his European instinct because of the simple fact it was voiced in an up-tight English office. It’s not like I can say to him “Alejandro, please can you start touching my shoulder again, because I need the symbol of familiarity in this office of cold unfamiliarity?”. But that’s what I want.

But what about our relationship? Isn’t that most important thing here? I should be trying my utmost to put my feelings into words. The concepts of feeling and words are not in any way compatible for me, even though technically the former is the latter. It’s not an easy task. It hurt when I saw you changed you profile picture on Facebook. Because I was gone and there, staring at me from the top of my newsfeed, was the girl I love standing alone with no one beside her. And she was alone. And she was smiling, the kind of smile I know she can’t fake, because it only comes out like a ray of sunshine when she is genuinely happy. I spend so much effort making sure that everyone thinks I’m ok, that I never know if I’m happy or sad because I’m feeling nothing but self-pity. I miss your smile.

Rob’s a twat. You can tell this piece of shit hates himself too. Or he did, before he read every book worth reading on management. Now he gains a lot of self-worth from being successful in the workplace. But how successful he is in the workplace doesn’t have anything to do with how he deals with me. He looks at me like I’m a piece of shit on the bottom of his shoe. He’s just sent me an email about how we agreed I was meant to action something. Lies! It was him that was meant to action it (important: “actioning” is his turn of phrase, not mine). I hope Gary backs me up on this.

Have you ever been so lonely you get a headache? Or so lonely you can’t go home, so you cycle on one road for 10 miles, inadvertently arriving at the airport. If you have, you might imagine hopping on a plane and going somewhere just to get away, but of course you’d be as trapped there as you are here. But it would be nice if it wasn’t raining. I’m 23 and I have a libido to match. The pleasure of lying face up on my mattress alone is very short lived and incredibly depressing when I’m squeezing out the second or third helping of the day. But I like being alone. I was looking forward to having the flat to myself. There’s something I find nice about not doing the washing up, shitting when I want to and having the ability to just chill out without having to think about how it looks and whether it’s a good use of my time.

I’m a romantic. I remember with some nostalgia my teenage years. I carried with me a yearning for girls that was far from lustful but consisted of deep and meaningful crushes. They would dander through my daydreams but never escape the dreamscape. I wasn’t proactive and feared rejection more than I craved proximity. And I craved proximity like crazy. I didn’t get it until I was 18, and it wasn’t from my crushes but from whoever wanted it from me. We know men are meant to make the first move but that required a vulnerability that I never overcame so I ended up with a real “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality. But I liked it. The idea that someone wanted to get with me was exciting. It really was a beauty of youth. I’d look forward to nights where so-and-so would be there, or whatever. The future was exciting. When you’re young, you are everything you could do. When you’re old, you are everything you’ve done.

I’ve not done much. I’m 23 and I live in an office, doing work I don’t mind with people I don’t mind. I like adventure, I loved Segwaying at speed through the forest. I like running but I don’t look forward to it. I don’t look forward to anything. I love going to bed, I hate getting up. But I still think I’m a morning person. I’m not the person I wanted/want to be in my 20s. There’s so much missing. Creatively, I don’t produce. I need to. I miss writing essays, taking pride in a project. I don’t play football anymore. I love playing football. Writing helps me unwind. I barely recognise the guy from one hour ago and paragraph 1.

Maybe a break is what it took to figure all this stuff out. It’s a cliché to note that ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ is a cliché, before delivering it anyway. However, by paragraph 8, you should have realised just how me it is, and not you. I want to do the right thing by you. I want to tell you that I’m not comfortable being this comfortable. Of course, the relationship is three years old, so the passion won’t be what it was, but the less passionate side of a three year relationship is what scares me. Of course, there would be many other great things to come but I really don’t feel ready for that. I’m immature in that way. I think that’s the crux of it. Is it.

I don’t know what I want but I want to laugh a lot more than I do. I want not to see people in terms of the great social distance between us, but for who they really are. I want to feel comfortable around other people, not just you. That includes my family. I want to make more of an effort this Christmas. I think I still have a very teenage attitude towards my family, which to be fair, partly (mainly) comes from how mum treats me. I would want to be there for you a lot better than I how I have been. I think I’ve been a lousy boyfriend because I self-pity all the time. I have all this stuff floating around on my head but it’s a really fucked up and suppressed version that I’m constantly mulling over so much, that in the end, none of it really means anything. Not to me, and certainly not to you or anyone else. I’m crying all the time because I feel hopeless.

Even now, every time I bring you up in this letter, I can’t go a sentence without linking back to me. I’m lousy like that that. And to be honest you deserve better than where my headspace is right now. This letter is my life right now, but I want to know how you feel. I really want to know. If you can do it in a letter, that would be great, because I like letters. And I understand them. Ask me questions. Tell me about you. What don’t I know about you? What am I missing? What do you want me to hear, and listen to? I will.

In this episode I forgot how to be happy. I'll tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.

I was 20 or 21 or one of those other ages that everyone says they want to be again or for first time. Every Wednesday afternoon would be the same. I'd do half an hour's walk from my house to an office, where I'd volunteer for charity for the afternoon. The nicer the weather, the worse I'd feel. When the sun was out, the city and the parks were full of people, groups, frisbees and laughter. I've heard volunteering is good for mental health, but I was only there for something to do, and to channel my myself away from myself. I don't think it was overly beneficial to me.

The walk to get there reminded me of everything I thought I wanted. I would try my hardest not to create an idealised Wednesday afternoon that I knew didn't exist, but it was right in front of my eyes. There wasn't any escape from the shame I felt when confronting my unhealthy levels of social and sexual frustration. And so I wrote a poem

a nice assumption from your face sweet, it tells of charm within hidden words, unlaughed laughs tomorrow's touch, tender skin

See my glass three metres high. Come to me. Break it down. Or my hunch, it's it's not disproved!

a grim grey cloud i float around

This isn't a blog post about the future of retail. The role of the title in this blog post is not to to attract or inform but to chronicle. This is a blog post about mental health.

It was June this year I was sat in an office so open plan that even the distant horizon was lined with desks. It was late in the day, and the employees were going home or somewhere else to enjoy the June English heatwave. I had earned my seat there by saying shit like “I was drawn to the opportunity”. I had decided that any society that makes someone feign interest in the changing nature of retail is unforgiving, yet perfect for my personality that doesn't like it when I'm invested in something.

I sat listening to two lads in their 20s talk about the future of retail, in their free time. They were passionate, intellectual and genuine. Ideas, opinions and direction were bouncing between them. It was just me and those two around, and I felt so uncomfortable sitting there. I was clearly listening their conversation but was adding nothing. I had nothing to say. So I just sat there, wishing they wouldn't say anything in my direction, but also mad they didn't see me as worthy enough to join in. I felt contempt for their passion, their spark and their intellect. I didn't belong there. But I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere. That's why it hurt.

I need some passionate social intercourse.

I've been trapped inside my own head for either weeks or years and I don't know what any of it means or where I should be going.

I tried counselling once but didn't know what to say. I answered her questions the same way I answer anyone. I just said empty words and hoped the conversation would move onto something else, like one of her opinions. I was the one who was meant to do the talking but I don't know how to talk more than a sentence. All I could say was that I was fine. I felt incredibly socially uncomfortable, as I mostly do, and didn't know what the right thing to say was. It didn't matter the questions were coming from an empathetic place. I was mute, and she was helpless. I think it was scheduled for half an hour but after ten minutes I was walking home feeling bemused and a bit annoyed at myself for not knowing what the fuck was going inside my own head.

If don't start a blog all the stuff that would be on my blog would be as lost as I am. Blogging is a bit like thinking but there are some differences. The death of a thought occurs simultaneously with its conception. A blog isn't timeless but it's not going anywhere. And thoughts aren't one hour in the making. Yes, this took me one hour to write.

I struggle to construct narrative and it's making my life difficult.