Playing through Dust: An Elysian Tail.

Gorgeous visuals, gorgeous music, fantastic gameplay. 

I’m hooked.

A view from the classroom..

Rocking the new suit at work, because I can..

Life, April 2014.

Something that is so easy to see pass us by, as it has with myself of late. Working a couple hundred classroom hours in a month in a job where seventy is the norm, all the extra work on top.. The travelling between tiny mountain town and tinier mountain town where the loved ones live.. The planning, the stressing, the loss of weekends, the despair, the frustration, the hopelessness, the deep-rooted fear that this most fragile of houses made of cards will come crashing down at any moment.. It’s a wonder I’m still sane.

Yet through it all I am starting to find my direction. I love, and I am loved in return, and that has been the shot in the arm I have yearned for, needed, for so long. Professionally I am no longer just coasting along, waiting for a touch of luck to boost me temporarily; I am working towards something, that is both terrifying and excitingly liberating at the same time. Something that gives what I do purpose. Something that validates what I am yet am not considered by my peers. Something that gives me a future, that one thing that has always eluded me or formed a gaping black hole in my mind. Something that gives me the optimism that, if realised, sets me up for life.

It’s a long road, and I am scared. But I know now that that fear is necessary; it’s what keeps driving me on, determined to be successful. It’s what strengthens who I am, when in the past all the doubt would have crippled me. I have moral support, egging me on when in the past I would have been left to deal with these challenges alone. I have a deep-rooted happiness in my heart that come what may, tells me things will be alright.

Because that’s precisely right – come what may, I will endure.

It’s what I do best. 

There are some wonderful views where I live…

Sunset in Tiny Mountain Town and a new friend..
Sunset in Tiny Mountain Town and a new friend..

Sunset in Tiny Mountain Town and a new friend..

A message from Anonymous
Erotica is not your forte.

I never claimed it was, hence the rarity of it. Doesn’t mean I can’t write it, though, when the feeling arises.

How about some constructive criticism next time, instead of some weak attempt at insult?

Midnight Tryst (NSFW).

The road was empty, and we coasted along effortlessly in the powerful, luxury 4x4, returning home from an evening spent together. Darkness loomed overhead, the shadows of trees alongside us tall, sinister and foreboding. The sky was cloudless, but there were no streetlights or moon to guide us on our way. We neared the crest of a hill and then turned, first onto a smaller, tarmac road, then onto a winding dirt track. A backroad to the ruins of an old castle sitting atop the hill, off to our left. An ancient seat of power, now reduced to broken stones and restless ghosts. I looked over at the driver, my better half, and smiled. My own ghosts were absent, banished by the way her alluring grey-blue eyes beheld me.

We pulled over, killing the engine and the lights. With a flick of an overhead switch she opened the sunroof, the air refreshing. We reclined the heated electric seats and gazed up at a kaleidoscope of tiny silver pinpricks, some brighter than others, some twinkling red and blue through the cold of the atmosphere. I pointed out some of the more recognisable stars and constellations, my other hand resting on her thigh delicately, and then we were wordless, our breath taken by the sheer magnificence of it all. Wondering just what it was we were looking at, the significance of what we could see.

Her hand came to rest on my own, a finger stroking my skin delicately, lovingly. I turned to her, my head resting back, her gaze fixed upon me. Her fingers danced on the skin above my wrist, something she knew was like catnip to me. I watched, saw a faint smile appear on her lips, mischievous and playful. I shuffled a few centimetres towards her and reached across to pull her into my arms. Still wordless, we held each other, chests rising and falling slowly and rhythmically. Her head came to rest upon my shoulder, and I kissed her forehead softly and stroked her flowing, blonde hair. Delicate, fine hair, which smelt good.

Her hand rested upon my thigh, forefinger and thumb gripping the flesh of the inside through my black pinstripe trousers. A jolt of electricity surged through my body, awakening. She sensed this, or perhaps I gave it away by gripping her shoulder in return, and her hand began to climb the inside of my thigh, purposefully. I returned the favour, my fingertips teasing her leg where the hem of her skirt met her satin-like tights. She sighed, and I sighed. My mind was on fire.

She knew all too well how to get me going. She leaned up and kissed my neck sensuously, her hand cradling my face. It was always the delicate touches that got me the most, the little touches that betrayed her love for me more than the animalistic desires. But those desires she had also; she knew how to switch between the two at will for maximum effect. I was always powerless against her charm offensive. Just as I was now.

Her hand reached the top of my thigh, and gripped my groin tightly, as if she was gauging just how much of an effect she had had. She must have been satisfied, for she let out a hum of approval and gripped tighter. I was fully aroused by then, and when she looked at me I saw the carnal fire in her eyes. I’m sure she saw the same in mine. My hand slid under her skirt, and she squirmed as my fingers rubbed her burning desire. She reached for my belt, ripping it back to free it from its clasp, tearing at the fastening to my trousers, yanking down the zip and the prize that lay beneath. My hand pulled at her tights in order to get inside and savour the wetness that awaited my touch.

She groaned loudly as a finger probed her, followed by a second. Her hand grabbed hold of my hardness and worked it furiously, unable to control herself as I lost all control and slid a second finger inside her, as deep as the angle I was sitting at could manage. We both writhed in sync, allowing the pleasure to drown us, oblivious to everything but the stars watching over us; ancient gods and goddesses whom we didn’t care if they judged us or not in that moment. We were lovers bringing each other to ecstasy, lost in each other.

The windows steamed up despite the sunroof being open, and our groans would have been heard by any and all who passed within a few hundred metres, but we didn’t have a care in the world. I throbbed and she pulsed, wanting more but not taking it. Working each other furiously, each desiring the other to climax and feel that punch-drunk relief from the sexual tension being together invariably built up. She came first, her orgasm paralysing and intense, every muscle in her body tightening in spasms simultaneously, her breath held and a fine layer of sweat coating her brow. I pulled her close and held her as tightly as I could in that moment, as I knew she liked, ignoring the sheer strength with which she gripped my hardness. Seconds which felt like minutes passed until she exhaled deeply, satisfied.

Headlight roused us from our reverie, and panicked we dressed ourselves and tried to mask any sign of our temporary insanity. She looked at me in a state of delirium, before looking up at the stars, which had barely moved a millimetre. I caressed her face, stroking her hair, and asked her if she was alright. She nodded, still breathtaken, before pushing the switch to close the sunroof and pressing the engine’s starter button. I smiled at her, and she smiled at me, and through the windshield we took one last look up at the night sky and at the shadow of the ruins, before returning to the main road to continue our journey home, words unnecessary.

I Am Not Him.

Why is it such a bad thing to genuinely care about your wellbeing; every part of who you are, be that work, home or otherwise?  

Why does trying to help you solve a problem or add a little outside perspective feel worse than whatever caused the problem in the first place? Why do I feel guilty, whether unintentionally or not, for asking a question I consider right and you consider wrong?

Why is wanting to help you believe in yourself once more scorned upon, brushed off without any thought of how that makes me feel?

It feels like rejection. Like the doors are not quite as open as I’d thought. Like perhaps they never will be. It hurts, because I care. It hurts, because I feel like I’m not good enough.

I feel helpless, and that’s the one feeling in the world I have the most trouble dealing with, because helping is just what I do, is who I am. I want to help, because I want to see that smile on your face more often – want you to see that smile on your face each time you see your reflection in a mirror or passing window.

Not everybody is him; that one guy who took whatever confidence you had and ground it into little pieces with a mortar and pestle until only a pale shade remained.

Not everybody is him, out to disrespect you, degrade you, destroy you until you feel there is no value left in yourself nor ever has been.

Not everybody is him, blind to the beauty I see each and every time you dance across my field of vision, each and every time your name lights up in my mind at the most unexpected of moments.

Not everybody is him, thinking only of his bank balance and his image and things which cannot be left behind for others when we shuffle off this mortal coil and into the next life.

Not everybody is him, incapable of real love. Incapable of being a warm and decent human being, bringing light and joy to the lives of those around him. Not everybody is him, a harbinger of greed and loathing and selfishness who took years of your life but gave nothing in exchange, left your heart an empty, barren place with no hope of a future.

I am not him, because I love you with all my heart. Everything I am, everything I have, everything I will ever be is yours. I am poor, but my hopes and dreams are yours to do with as you will. I am not him, because I give myself to you wholly and willingly.

I am not him, because all I want is for you to be happy. For you to see what I see. For you to hear, feel and know that you are worth more than these humble words could ever adequately convey.

I am not him, my darling, because in the end you are not him. You are not the shadow he casts over you, not the sickness that ravages your fragile mind. You are better, but you just don’t see it.

I am not him, because I will not stop trying to help you see.

The Girl With the Red Hair.

She turns the page delicately, face furrowed subconsciously as she concentrates on the page. An old-looking book, it’s pages are well-worn and yellowed. A stark contrast to the brand new smartphone which lies on the opposite page, which she checks periodically with a flick of a finger across its screen and occasionally picks up to type a message. On the table before her lies a couple of school textbooks, which she gazes at forlornly; it’s as if she doesn’t want to know what’s within their pages. A warm-looking grey-and-black knitted scarf drapes across the back of one of the chairs around her table, and she stops reading, distracted. She looks up; her porcelain face fresh, her cheeks blushing a soft rose. Her red hair drapes over her right shoulder, and she rests her chin on her left hand, elbow resting on the table to support it. She’s dressed all in black; boots, tight jeans and woollen sweater with don’t worry just love written on it, with a stylised heart replacing the o of love. Cute. I wonder if she does love.

I also wonder if she understands it, as I do with most people here wearing items clothing with English phrases on them. I know she speaks English; my instinct as a teacher of the language is strong, but mostly because I’ve seen her before, many times from my usual spot here in the local café, and once I saw her carry some English textbooks. Cheating, I know. Her hair falls over her face as she leans heavily on the hand, hunched over her phone now as she types another message. She smiles; slightly, but noticeably. Sweetly. She brushes the hair aside and closes the book; it’s clearly lost its interest to her, or the distraction is too great. I wonder what she’s thinking about.

She stares right at me, and smiles nervously. I smile back, also nervously, my British politeness mixing with my lack of self-confidence. This is something that has been repeated several times over the previous months, this strange, cat-and-mouse courtship. I don’t know who she is, but I get the distinct impression she knows who I am. It’s unnerving on some level, but ignites curiosity on another. I try to remain blasé about it all, but inside my mind a thousand silent questions are screaming out to be answered. She returns to her book, and I order another coffee. I certainly need it.

She closes the book again, packs her things away and stands up. Carefully she puts on her coat, a smart, black woollen trenchcoat, and heads for the exit. As is customary with our unspoken dalliances, she turns back one final time and smiles again, before disappearing from sight. It’s as if the smile lingers for just a moment longer than she does, before time speeds up again and life returns to normal.

I finish my coffee and head to work, the smile burned into my mind. A cold, grey day somehow brightened. 

It Must Have Been The Twilight Zone Or Something.

Last week I found a lump, just under my right testicle. Hard, around 2mm across, like a small pea. Not attached to the teste, and moveable. Not painful.

I think it’s safe to say it scared the shit out of me from then until today. 

Today, I finally made it to the radiographer to have my nuts photographed. In short, it’s a relief that the lump is not cancer - rather some thrombosis or whatever (I have no idea what she said, it was in Polish), for which the remedy is twice-daily self-administered injections into my gut (yay, fun) and some pills.

Not a bad trade-off really for the all-clear.

But the experience was surreal as hell.

Picture it - there’s me, lying on the exam table, starkers from the waist down, trying to counter the slight unease/embarrassment by joking around. Because after all, that’s the British way, isn’t it? 

She’s touching my bits, giving them a good massage, stroke, rub, whatever you want to call it, with something that resembles lube very much. And she’s completely blasé about it. 

She also happens to be a former student of our school, and she knows who I am.

So I’m lying there, and she’s massaging my nuts. Delicately. It felt weirdly like she was admiring them, making raising mmm sounds every second or two.

"Maybe you can help me?"

*coughsplutter*

With what?

"You know, with my English. I need more practice. Hold this here please. Good"

Meaning I should hold my penis out of the way to give her better access.

"But I’m only free on Mondays and Wednesdays. Is that okay for you?"

Um, yeah, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be. Later is better.

"Wonderful, later is better than sooner. I’ll let you know. Lovely. You can get down now."

Which I did, and pulled up my trousers. Glad that I had a girlfriend and therefore had done a little tidying up down there.

Go in with the fear of cancer, come out with a new student. 

"By the way, you have very beautiful testes."

As I said, surreal.

Lump.

We sat in the car, her hand in mine. I’d come to meet her because she needed me; needed my support after some bad news. Needed my reassurance that I wasn’t going anywhere.

It wasn’t something I’d wanted to bring up, not at that moment given our conversation just before, given how upset she was, but I needed to get it out of my system. I needed to tell somebody, and because of that I just blurted it out.

“Darling.. I found a lump..”

“What do you mean, you found a lump? A lump of what?”

“You know.. a lump.”

“Where?”

“Down there.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“How do you know? Playing with yourself again?”

She winked. I appreciated her humour at this time, given I was feeling pretty terrified of the whole ordeal. I couldn’t think of a suitable response, however; my sense of humour had deserted me.

“In the shower yesterday evening.”

“Does it hurt?”

“No. It’s small, hard, and moves around. Not on the testicle. I looked it up online, and it sounds good, but I’m still worried..”

She squeezed my hand tightly.

“You need to see an urologist, dear. It’s probably nothing, but better safe than sorry, right?”

“I know..  But I have to wait until I get paid. I don’t know how much it’ll cost.”

“Do it as soon as possible, dear.”

“I know, I will.”

We drove back to hers, stopping at the supermarket on the way to pick up a bottle of Scotch and some ingredients. I offered to cook dinner for her and the girls, something I think she appreciated. I needed a pick-me-up as much as she did; spending the evening there together was absolutely it.

I woke up the next morning, feeling relaxed and happier, but knowing the fear would rise again. One thing was for sure; I had gained a more heightened awareness of my own mortality, and it scared me.  

Rant.

"David, you’ve got new group starting Saturday morning. <SATURDAY!> Very specific course. Six hours in a row - but you won’t have the materials to prepare for this course until five minutes before the lessons start..”

Seriously?!

Ok, I volunteered to take this class of my own free will, and I am the master of winging a lesson plan on the fly, if it’s the odd lesson here and there, but six in a row, this takes the veritable biscuit. I’m a professional, even if I do lack the piece of paper to legitimise it - I hate having to do a hack job because some bloody penpusher can’t do their job and get me the materials I need in order to do mine properly - in order to give the students what they deserve.

Can you imagine a doctor about to perform open heart surgery, only to say “give me a sec, just need to look this up on YouTube”? How professional does that look? How scary is that? Okay, you may not think that comparison is quite right, but in my head, the one that gives a damn about each and every one of my students, alarm bells are going off.

The schools providing this course (the organising school and my school), which is EU funded and therefore free to the students as part of a social programme, only seem to care about the money they will make from this little venture. No thought seems to have been given to what the students expect - people with little professional experience, few qualifications, and the view that this course might, might just give them a better shot at a better job in order to better their lives and provide for their families in this poorer part of Poland. 

This is the one thing that really, really gets my goat about schools, both private and public, these days. They don’t seem to care enough about their reason for existence - the students, the education. Instead just becoming bureaucratic organisations ruled by the accountant’s dictatorial hand. Almost gone are the days of teaching being a ‘noble profession’ one of servitude. Too many directors, owners and teachers doing it either for the money or because they lack the ambition to pursue something else and see teaching as a ‘safe’ bet. For me, the day someone becomes a teacher for any other reason than helping others is a sad day indeed. 

I’m an idiot because I have done and will always, always put the students before myself, will never care about the money over the education of others. But it’s getting very close to the final straw here, the being taken advantage of so casually when all I want to do is the job I love. If I hear the words “don’t worry, it’ll be alright” from my boss one more time, I swear I’m going to Hulk Smash something.

That’s a fundamental fault with this ESL industry - the cutting of corners, the treating of staff so poorly, the disregard of the knowledge that only two things keep these businesses going - teachers and students. Can you imagine Real Madrid treating Ronaldo like dirt, or the same with say Brady at the Patriots, yet still expecting him to perform to the best of his ability? It would never happen - organisations bend over backwards to keep their talent happy, because in the end, the talent is what brings success. A teacher is talent. A talent not doing his or her best work is not only detrimental to that teacher’s state of mind (if they give a crap, that is), but worse, to the people whose lives are directly affected - i.e. the students. It’s depressing on too many levels to know that my students aren’t getting my best because I’m too stressed or depressed to deliver. 

Part of the terms of my employment (of which I haven’t had a contract in my hand since the new school year started, after my last one expired), is that I get paid less per-hour than the going rate as I have a ‘furnished apartment’ included - a small room upstairs in the school, imagine student digs without a proper kitchen, a bed that’s been broken for a year, and never heated centrally past the times when the students are in the school. A room for which technically I pay more for the more hours I work. Which this year. is “costing” me more than a two-bedroom, modern apartment in a local block. A room which is so cold in the evenings, I find myself sitting here wearing a sweater over a sweater, gloves and inside a sleeping bag at my desk. Is it any wonder I feel undervalued, demoralised, ill? And yet I cannot take a day off sick, because I don’t get paid if I don’t work, and the guilt trip isn’t worth it.  

I should open my own school. Gods know this lot couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. 

I think it’s time I stood up for myself more. Put myself first for once. Because in the end, this school needs me more than I need them. I’m their USP, their trump card over the competition. I’m the reason students come to our school - I offer far more to the students than a Polish English teacher, and far more to a school which can add a little extra to the course prices..

Just watch their faces when I tell them I want more per-hour for these weekend classes, especially as I’m the only mug willing to take them. Or even just generally, because I am horribly underpaid according to the going market rate. I have Polish English teachers telling me I’m stupid, that they get paid more than I do, despite them not having my skills, expertise or experience.

I think I need to seek alternative employment. Just hang on until the summer, David… hang on.

Only because it was Ari who tagged me, it’s 4:30am and I’m bored..

Always post the rules:

- Answer the questions of the person who tagged you and write 10 new ones
- Tag 10 people and link them
- Let them know that they have been tagged

.

My questions:

1. What’s one fruit or vegetable that best describes your personality?

2. Videogames are a valid art form - yay or nay? 

3. What one word in the English language would you change in some way - be it grammatically, in terms of definition or whatever - and why?

4. What is your favourite season? And in five words or less, why?

5. What’s your one overriding memory of primary (elementary) school, good or bad?

6. Guitar preference - acoustic, electric or bass? And what’s one song/composition that gives you goosebumps in relation to this?

7. If your life was immortalised in book/film/song form, what would the title be, and why? 

8. Describe your dream home - the building (style/materials) and surroundings, not what’s inside.

9. What’s the best meal you can think of that you could make with what’s in your fridge right now? 

10. Which one Tumblr community member would you most like to take home to meet your parents, why, and how do you imagine it would go?

.

I’m tagging: 

mslabyrinth (this may be cheating but I’m curious about her answers!), kategclef, soistayed, mickeymichal, subtletyofdialogue, beinah, whenalionroars, aclockworkplum, allenwilt, antimonysouler.

.

My answers to Ari’s questions:

1. What is the ring tone on your cellphone?

"Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, RV 315, ‘L’estate’: III. Presto" (from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons) - Nigel Kennedy & the English Chamber Orchestra.

Because it’s a wonderful piece of music, and I prefer wordless classical or game soundtracks for my ringtone. 

2. What would be written on your grave’s headstone?

I’ve never really thought about having a headstone in the first place, and there’s not a profound quote or anything that comes to mind.  

3. The one thing you’d like to teach your children.

I once wrote this. It kind of explains everything.

4. What is happiness?

A successful lesson taught, a walk through the woods, a game of cards with the significant other and her daughters, a completed piece of writing, an emotive piece of music… happiness can’t be defined so easily as this question requires. Happiness is everything and it is nothing. 

5. Do you have a role model in life? If yes, who?

When I was young, it was my Grandad. He was the centre of everything, the father figure his son should have been and the only person in my family I would say I was close to.

Nowadays, I wouldn’t say I have a role model per se, because I am inspired and humbled in some way by everyone I come into contact with. Those I speak to here on Tumblr or other online platforms, the ladies in the coffee shop I frequent, friends and acquaintances I meet on a daily basis. The teachers both around me and whom I speak to here (Kate and Ari spring to mind) are models for me in my professional life, as are the students who come through the door to my classroom. 

6. What would a day of pure indulgence be for you if money wasn’t an issue?

Nothing too dissimilar to how I’ve spent my recent weekends - with Joanna and the girls, either a day out somewhere (skiing recently has been a blast, or a cinema/shopping trip, or a walk in the woods/mountains around where they live), a nice meal at their home, an evening spent curled up on the sofa with them and a film or around the coffee table playing cards. Money wouldn’t make it about buying material things. It would be about giving me the freedom of not having to worry about time expiring too soon and having to return at a certain time due to the bus timetable. 

7. A song that means a lot to you and the reason why.

This one is tough, but The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel is the one song I have listened to more than any other, and which resonates most with me. That and Those Who Fight Further by Nobuo Uematsu from the Final Fantasy VII OST, because my whole life to date has felt like one continuous boss fight. 

8. Time travel or teleportation?

My curiosity would usually say time travel - the knowledge of space and the future would be too great to turn down, as would the chance to go back and live like a Viking in Anglo-Saxon Britain. But in current circumstances, living some miles apart from the better half and having to rely on an ancient, unreliable bus service, teleportation it is.  

9. Describe the way you fall in love.

Hard, committed, cautious-yet-carefree, afraid.

10. Have you ever cheated? Explain.

I am not proud of the fact that I have, technically, but in the context of the relationship already being emotionally dead on both sides, and just a matter of time until I moved out and it being declared ‘official’, it was an inevitability. I don’t hold any regrets about it, nor will I. Life happens for a reason, for better or for worse. If none of that had happened, I would not have landed my dream job, returned to Poland nor met Joanna and the girls. 

Look.

I know that look, my darling;

that one of fear, deep-rooted and

seemingly impenetrable in this moment -

but since when did we let Time

become the one great measure of things?

Since when did the value of something so great

rest upon the shoulders of mere numbers,

numbers to which we give too much reverence?

.

Yes, what we have is something new,

short, in the grand scheme of things;

but does that mean it is any less beautiful,

any less special, any less important to me

than anything I have felt before now?

I don’t want to believe that it does.

I do hope that Time proves to be on my side,

so that the rest of my days can be spent by yours.

.

I know that look, my darling;

It’s one I’ve worn myself for far too long.

One that I would like nothing more

than to cast out, replace with an everlasting smile.

I know too well that I am far from perfect,

that sometimes your fears are faults of mine –

yet while I struggle to be a better man for you, for myself,

I will not stop believing that I can succeed.