Mark Ronson / Kevin Parker / Kirin Callinan – I Sat by the Ocean (Queens of the Stone Age) for Triple J


oh shit.

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Musings on my Living Situation

“You don’t really know someone until you live with them.”

YEAH, NO SHIT.

Oh, well. Even though I have probable cause to be pretty angry, I’d rather not be. It’s like when you get mad at someone for lying to you, but then find out that they believe their own bullshit. How can you reason with someone who won’t listen to reason? Thing is, you can’t. So you can either rage at them or laugh at them. I will always try to choose the latter.

It’s hard living with manipulative people. You know, the types who treat you inconsiderately, but then leave you feeling guilty for being annoyed by it. Last year, I spent a lot of time alone bouncing between two prevailing theories: either humans in general are the absolute worst, or I’m the absolute worst human alive.

Last year, things were all right at first – there was one couple (really nice people, I can not stress that enough), one other person and me. Sadly, the other person didn’t really get along with the other couple, and I got sucked in to that. Or maybe I let myself get involved. Either way, before I knew it, there were notes being left all over the place (can’t pretend I didn’t have a hand in that) and a thick fog of unnecessary awkwardness pervading every-fucking-thing. Understandably, the couple moved out, because the environment was more or less incongruous with their laid-back personalities, and I was left alone with someone who had a very flexible idea of the truth. I still quite liked him as a person though, because I felt bad for him and how shitty his life was. I was very quick to rationalise his actions based on his broken past; also because he put forth an image of himself as someone who was doing their best, despite the things life threw at him. I also put up with his girlfriend constantly hanging around, because I assumed she had nowhere else to go, and because she seemed to make him happy.

Before I knew it, he and his girlfriend moved in to the room we initially agreed that I’d move in to (“you snooze, you lose!” was said a lot during this time, as I silently clenched my fists so hard that my nails dug into my palms), and the bullshit really started. Any previous enmity was just a glimpse of what was to come. I can’t even begin to go on about all the annoying fucking things those two got up to, so I won’t. It’s too infuriating.

At first, I tried my hardest to be nice about everything, because I moved out of home when I wasn’t legally old enough to, so I sympathised with this flatmate’s girlfriend to a certain degree, because I think she was seventeen at the time. I assumed she meant well, just like I did almost a decade ago. She also put forth the impression that her family was really hard to live with, and that’s something I can identify with. What a red flag – having nothing left but the assumption that everyone else’s just as nice / well-meaning as you are. No. If you are a nice person, you are the exception, not the norm. Right? Or am I just being a miserable fucker again? Either way, the human brain fills in gaps in the best way it knows how, and that often means we assume some rather painfully errant things. Anyway…

For about a month, maybe a month-and-a-half, I was able to keep pretending that everybody meant well, despite indications towards the contrary. Then, thankfully, another person moved in. This is someone that I’ve known for a fairly long time, and have never had a problem with, despite both of us being surrounded by rather dramatic (and extraneous) people and situations over the years. There were some annoying rumours I’d heard about her, but I somehow knew to ignore them, because they were coming from some pretty annoying people, and I’d only ever known her to be a good person. I later learned that the reverse was the same – she knew people who had an extremely dim view of me, and ignored this also, which I appreciate whenever I think about it, because that would have been a lot of bullshit to ignore. For this and many other reasons, I consider her a friend.

She and I had our individual struggles with the people we were living with, each feeling like we were the only one with a problem with anything. I assumed I was being a misanthropic misery-guts yet again, and blamed myself for anything negative I was feeling towards the other housemates. Through subsequent conversations, we each realised we were feeling a similar way to each other, and eventually came to the conclusion that maybe it wasn’t us – maybe it was the others. In the past, we’ve both absorbed the repercussions of the inconsiderate behaviour of people close to us, reflexively blaming ourselves for simply reacting in any way – after years of doing that, one learns to hold in some serious reactions, oftentimes turning the anger, blame and confusion inwards. That is, until there’s outside confirmation that there’s no need to be so self-destructive because the blame lies elsewhere. After that, things started to feel a little less maddening, but still somewhat uncomfortable. Thankfully, we were close enough to the end of our lease to be able to try and ride it out until it was over.

She had a friend that lived nearby, and we ended up spending a lot of time at his house, and it was something of a reprieve from the shitstorm in which we lived. Looking back, I think we would have hung out with basically anyone, so long as they weren’t the people we were living with. And that’s the problem: we didn’t really notice how fucking weird he was, and the few things we did pick up on were easily excused by us, just for the fact that he was relatively nice compared to the people we had already been dealing with. So when he offered us both rooms where he lived, we were all too keen to get in there. We thought that living with him was going to be a lot like the times we’d visited him, because we thought we’d gotten to know him well enough, and our hang-outs were fun enough and our conversations were straightforward enough. He seemed genuinely likable despite his somewhat temperamental personality. I put it down to the fact that he’d lived alone for a while and may have been getting used to having other people around again, but I was sadly very wrong.

Things came so incredibly close to being just like last year, except we were both far too fed up with being lied to and treated like children that we actually reacted this time. I’ll admit that I could have done more to stand up for myself, but I didn’t really see the point. I’d seen how he’d reacted to people who didn’t agree with him in the past, and taken note of his oddly sociopathic views (and sometimes violent actions) towards them. Last year’s issues paled in comparison to this fresh hell. I can’t really go on about all the things that happened here, because I don’t feel like putting myself through that right now. Too fucking irritating to think about, let alone write for someone else to read. Ugh, no. Anyway, I quietly comforted myself with thoughts of leaving, but was far too drained of energy to act upon these thoughts. You know, that special kind of lack of motivation that comes with feeling powerless over your situation. What a treat.

Meanwhile, things were not going well between him and my friend. Unlike me, she took a stand and expressed in no uncertain terms that maybe, just maybe, he was being a total cunt and that he should just stop before he ended up alienating her completely. He pretended to take her feelings into consideration for a while, but it was obvious that he was extremely discomfited by the fact that she was prepared to stand up for herself whenever she felt disrespected. He took me aside one night and told me that he was considering “advising her to leave”, saying that he thought she was “setting a bad precedent for future behaviour” and that she wasn’t proactive enough about bond payment (even though he told her many times, in front of me, that the bond situation was nothing to rush or get stressed out over, because her working hours were unsteady and there was no contractual obligation [no contract at all, to be honest, but that’s another issue]). This made me very angry. Here he was, going on about things that he’d lied to her about, and trying to blame her for things that weren’t real problems. He noticed how annoyed I was, and tried to convince me that the situation was completely out of his hands, and implied that the property owner wanted her out of the house. I told him that if she was such a bad person to live with, then I wouldn’t have wanted to live with her for another year, but it was clear that he was already buying into his own badly constructed narrative, and that was that. Minutes later, she entered the room and this dude immediately set about pretending that things were all right. Horrified at this two-faced treatment of someone he supposedly called a friend, I had to leave. He had just finished talking about her like she was out to fuck him over, and didn’t listen to me when I assured him that she’s not like that at all. I hadn’t been that annoyed in a very long time. It’s one thing to get screwed over by someone you may not have fully trusted in the first place, but it’s completely different when someone pretends to be a friend while planning against you. See? Guy’s a total cunt. I had to get out of that room before I lashed out or did something equally dramatic.

The next day, of her own volition, my friend planned to take a payment to the property owner (who lives next door) and asked me if I wanted to go over there with her. Still annoyed by the previous day’s fuckery, I knew I had to tell her about the conversation I had with that cuuuuuuunt the day before. She thanked me for having her back (I was only stating facts – I’ve never had a problem with her, because we communicate fairly well. It’s the simple truth: I think she’s a genuinely kind person with decent priorities and good intentions), and we resolved to go and talk to the property owner about the situation, to see if we could try and make sense of what was happening. The visit went weirdly; we found out that the owner of the house didn’t actually want anyone to leave, and didn’t consider any of this to be her problem, saying that the total cunt back at the house was entrusted with managing these situations, and that he had done so adequately in the past. He’s very manipulative, and the woman we’d been talking to was desperately impressionable, which played directly into his hands. I walked away from that conversation disappointed, but not surprised. Let down and lied to, yet again, by a control freak. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckshitsucks.

As we came back into the house, the total cunt’s door was open, so it was brought up that he was outed for lying about an alarming number of things while we tried to remedy the situation the best way we knew how. His reply? “I don’t fuckin’ want you here”. Then, he left the house to go and talk to the property owner himself, and returned with some of my friend’s bond money. We were sitting in my room, and he appeared in the doorway, trying to intimidate us both. As imposing as he was being, that kind of person’s pretty easy to handle if you don’t respond to their ugly pettiness. Noticing beyond a doubt that we were both sick and tired of his shit, he set about trying to smooth everything over, not knowing that he was far beyond the point of no return with the both of us. He made a few vague attempts to blame us for how badly the situation turned out, while implying that we could still be friends with him if we played along with what he wanted. When he realised that it was too little too late, he told us that we “took a shit on his name” (uh, what? Seriously, what the fuck?) and stormed off down the hill to friends who are living nearby to have a rant about what just happened (later on, I found out that he’d only complained about my friend, and not about me, which doesn’t really make sense – maybe he thought it’d reflect badly on him if he bitched about both of us? I don’t know… I can’t make sense of this shit and I totally don’t have to anyway).

Days later, he was back to pretending that nothing happened when we were all down at the same house getting drunk and stuff. Predictably enough, because of aforementioned drunkenness, I got all pissed off and didn’t let him off with it. He left, and later on that night, things got a lot shittier when I got home and I ended up outside with none of my stuff, forced to “get the fuck out”. Thankfully, I was able to stay with someone incredibly nice and things had blown over when I returned… kinda.

I threw myself into organising a new place for my friend and me to move into, and we’ve viewed a lot of places in the last week-and-a-bit, ranging from super shitty (if you know anyone planning to move into 17 Elm Row, we need to have a word, because damn) to unexpectedly inviting, and basically everything in between. We’re more or less set to leave now, and the last of her possessions are now the fuck outta here. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to doing the exact same thing in the next few days. Equally needless to say, we’re not in a hurry to have someone else live with us quite yet, seeing as we’re duly wary of other people. I don’t think anyone in the right mind can blame us for feeling like this.

All I want right now is to be free of controlling and manipulative people. I’m almost there. So close.