Hello Internet. I’m back.
This is the first time in 4 months that I’ve been home without having something gobbling up most of my time and attention.
It started in late March when Will and his girlfriend visited, and then my nephew1 and his parents came up to Perth too2. I don’t care what other people do, but when there’s a family gathering going on, I try to spend as much time with everyone as possible. If there’s a book I really want to read or a game I really want to play, I’ll wait until a less antisocial time to play it3, especially if I won’t see this sibling again for another 8 months.
The problem4 is that I have five siblings. I can be waiting a long time.
After that, it was my 19th birthday and I thought: “Fuck it. If I don’t plan something for my gap year then I’m never going to do anything.” So I did. I booked my plane and Eurostar tickets for a month exploring France by train5. I spent the next couple of weeks planning it all, which was way more stressful than I had imagined it would be6. Maybe that’s why I’d been putting it off for so long. But I did a good job, and I learned a few things when doing it, too – most memorably the reason why travel agents still exist.
I even got an extra day to plan, thanks to the ever-giving Iceland, which just happened to be (perhaps) the worst day of my conscious life7. I did get to France, eventually, and only two days late, then I spent a month having a really good time – albeit without home comforts and regular internet access8. It was an epic adventure, with plenty of stress. More on that another time.
I got back to Perth a month later (after a couple of nights in London) but after watching the Perth Airshow and then walking my Aunt & Uncle’s dogs for a couple of days, June turned into one long family gathering. There was a big birthday as the main event, and throughout the month I saw pretty much all of my family9. Meanwhile, towards the end of the month I was faced with the hell of having to pick my perfectly ripe strawberries every day10, and I even had to squeeze in a barbecue with that twat Ruairidh11.
Two days after all the visitors had left… I was off, too. This time I went to London to stay with Will12 and then I went to stay with my Dad for a few weeks. These were times to be making the most of the long summer days, visiting places and getting out on our bikes as a family13. But again, not much time alone and very limited internet access.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; I’ve had a really good time and I’d much rather have the year as all summer (when my time seems to be spent like this) than all winter (when I have much more time to myself to follow my selfish whims as much as I want to) if I had to choose. In these last few months, I’ve had more moments of amazement than ever before14. All I’m trying to say is that my life has been different for a while, but now I’m happy to back home to enjoy the end of the summer a bit more quietly.
Well, what have I been missing out on?
- Gaming. I don’t remember the last time I seriously played a game. It definitely wasn’t this year. When I’ve got a few minutes with nothing to do, I’ll whip out my iPod and have a go on Tetris, Bejeweled 2, Angry Birds or whatever, but that’s in no way a replacement for proper gaming. I’ve got piles of games in Steam that I’ve bought and never even downloaded, including Left 4 Dead 1 & 2. You’d think with a gap year and no job, that all I’d’ve been doing was gaming. Nope. Fuck. What have I been doing?15
- By the way, I still find it hard to believe how much my iPod touch has changed my life and the extent to which I rely on it to connect with the world. Without it or a similar device16, my times away from the internet would be far less rich. Notwithstanding its offline use, it’s so refreshing to be able to use it with an internet connection now that I’m back home. The internet rocks. I can follow links, update Facebook, send emails, even check the weather forecast whenever the hell I want. It’s nice to be home.
- Books? No. One thing that I’ve not missed out on is reading. As you can see, I’ve been managing to read (or listen to) a few books a month, much like I always do. It’s easy to find the time and the space to read a book, and hell, what else are you going to do when you’re alone in France walking around all day? Talk to yourself? Eat your arm? I listened to a load of podcasts there, too.
- Blogging. I actually quite enjoy writing, and not for any egotistic reason17. It’s theraputic.
- Photos. I’ve taken thousands of photos whilst I’ve been doing all this stuff, but a lot of the stuff I’ve not even looked at. I’m not pretentious about it, but I take some good photos. I like looking through them, putting them into albums, adjusting them, getting a few nice ones printed and uploading some good’uns to Flickr. That’s something I’ve not done for a while, and I look forward to doing it again.
- But the main thing that I’ve been missing out on? Films. Before returning to Perth last week, and excluding the 8 or so James Bonds that I watched with my Dad, the last proper film I watched was Lars and the Real Girl on 23rd March. And I didn’t even like that film. Yes, I had time when I could have watched some films, but there’s been so much good TV (particularly season finales) to catch up on that I just didn’t get round to it18. Anyway, I have time now so I’m trying to rectify this situation: in the last 3 days I’ve watch Kick-Ass, Juno, and Synecdoche, New York. I’ll watch another tonight, too.
Of course, in less than 2 months I’m going to university19, and then everything could change. But I don’t think it will change that much: as long as I can cope with the work and am not spending all my time out getting drunk, I’ll have plenty of time to play all the games, read all the books and watch all the films I want. Or maybe I won’t even want to.
Before that, I have this time at home to enjoy. My time is not entirely without demand – there’s quite a bit that I have to do regarding university (mainly money stuff) and my nephew20 is visiting again at the end of August. Once I’m at university and my sister finishes maternity leave, I’ll hardly see him21. I’ll make the most of it all.
Before I go, one thing I’ve noticed:
- I love reading old blog posts and seeing all of my broken promises (example: “I’ll say more about that walk in a blog post in the near future.”). I promise not to do that in the future.
Alright, I’m off to make a cheesecake. With raspberries.
- Back then he was about 12 weeks old. ↩
- My eldest sister and brother-in-law, a great couple. ↩
- And, by the way, when everyone’s visiting I might not have the opportunity to do that sort of stuff even if I wanted. The house is full and I’ll be sharing a bedroom so there’s a good chance I won’t even be able to find a space to do something alone. ↩
- Though it’s definitely not a bad thing. ↩
- I like trains. ↩
- Perhaps more on that another time. ↩
- When I finished packing, the Sun was coming up. Then I had to catch an early train and bus to Edinburgh Airport, had finally got checked in and started to relax, when my flight was cancelled. Motherfuckers. Then followed what can only be describe as hell. ↩
- That is, this wasn’t a chance for me to catch up on all those games and films and internetting that I’ve been putting off. ↩
- The highlight, of course, being my little nephew (about 5 months old then) staying for two weeks. ↩
- I fucking love it really. ↩
- Actually, it was epic, especially our homemade burgers, although Ruairidh was too tired/too much of a pussy to watch a Borg TNG episode afterwards. ↩
- Did I mention that I traveled first class? More on that another time. ↩
- And a bit of camping, too. ↩
- The highlight involves 2 tornadoes. ↩
- Of course, I know what I’ve been doing, and I am very much pleased with how I have spent my gap year. ↩
- For example, if technology was 10 years less advanced. ↩
- Though I would say that, wouldn’t I. ↩
- By the way, I watched all 6 seasons of The Office US throughout April (pretty much). ↩
- In fact, my lectures start 2 months today, 27th September. ↩
- Who’ll be about 7 months old… ↩
- He lives hundreds of miles away. ↩