Monday, 9 March 2009

It's ups and downs, ups and downs...

So I haven’t written in a long time. I was pretty much ill for all of last week as well as having a couple of band practices and all in all, I was feeling pretty lazy. This working life is taking some getting used to. But I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

Also recently I’ve been contemplating the simple life. Stripping everything down to its bare basics. I don’t know why, nor if this is a good idea, but it’s something that sits well with my temperament, probably because I’m a man, but also because it’s my natural state.

Anyway I’m just putting that out there for no reason in particular. Anyway, what’s been happening.

Well last weekend but one, I went out both nights. Friday was Shoreditch. We all met and went to Dream Bags as a change in venue. No one was opening and then Greig said exactly the right thing to me: “I don’t wanna read in your report that you couldn’t open because I was here.” And of course I was thinking of exactly the same thing. There was a group of five girls standing nearby, so I opened the nearest with the first thing to mind: the golf opener. I chatted with the girl for quite a while, she was from Bulgaria. But she wasn’t that hot and I left after a bit.

We moved on to the Hoxton B&G. While we were waiting for others to get in from the queue Jon and I decided to do some sarging. I opened two hot English chicks (just my type, intelligent, posh, friendly, hot) with the bag opener as one of them had a massive bag with her. They were both loving it and were into the conversation. But then I said hi to the guys as the rest of them came in and somehow ejected myself out of set.

The energy in the group was really low again. I couldn’t help myself but I didn’t want to be part of that. I noticed a group of girls nearby and toyed with opening them for a good while. I walked past them once as I chickened out. But a few minutes later I tried again. As I approached one girl was making a rhythmical motion with her hands. “That looks dodgy!” I said. They laughed and looked cheeky. Hmm. “Were you talking about sex?” I asked.

“Yes,” they said and fell about laughing.
“Haha you’re dirty girls!” I said, and gave them all a good dose of eye contact. They were matching it, looking at me and laughing, their eyes all sparkling with fun and interest. “I like that!”

I then got into a pretty normal conversation and kinda killed it off a bit. I chatted for a short while, then ejected. When I came back to the group Jon told me that they were “checking out my ass,” which is understandable, as my ass is pretty fekkin awesome*.

*May be written for effect.

Anyway after that there was some wondering round, a couple of good chats with Jon and Greig, and a general lack of obvious sets. At the end it was only Pete and I, and we hung out on the dancefloor a bit but there wasn’t much to open. There was one hot girl dancing on stage very sexily, that got me excited, but she looked completely off her face. I decided not to open.

There was no specific realisation from this night, I still need to open more, stay in set longer, do more kino. And though there weren’t many sets I took the main opportunities out there. But the main thing was that it felt like a good night, I’d opened two sets of hot girls – any of whom could have been girlfriend material – and they went well, and the girls were checking me out again. A nice ego boost.

Saturday we went to Jewel. There were loads of sets and hot girls. I was feeling more than a little knackered to be honest. The whole working week thing again. Anyway, I opened a bunch of people here and there. Nothing much lasted for some reason.

Something I noticed tonight was Jake playing the role that Greig used to last summer – i.e. he would open and I would wing. Which means that I wouldn’t open. So I ran a few sets like that.

I think the reason why Jake was opening instead of me was that I was low energy, Jake had more motivation, and I am too quick to rule out sets because they’re not hot enough. That was quite interesting to notice.

Anyway the best set of the night came from a set that Pete had already opened, and I went in to wing. I started with some line that I forget, and then when that ran out, I asked her to tell me something interesting about herself. I don’t think she was that interested at that stage as she didn’t put that much into it so I prompted her with “So most people like to travel, have you been anywhere interesting?” and she opened up telling me something about her trip somewhere. I forget. I’ve smoked a lot of weed between then and now. Seriously, a few days ago I couldn’t remember anything about the night other than it was at Jewel.

But I digress. We then chatted about travelling for a while, and I maybe some other topics that I can’t remember, and after a while I noticed that she was mirroring my somewhat unusual wall leaning pose. And she was into me, smiling and with that sparkle in her eyes. I like sparkly eyes. They’re always the most interesting. And as sure as hell a good sign that a chick is into you.

Anyway, it was going well, but she wasn’t that hot, so I quit after a while to get a drink or something. By the time I came back I think the set was over.

So an OK night. Jake was opening well and staying in set for about five minutes at a time. I suggest he should try number closing more. He’s pretty much there I reckon, he just needs to get more closes.

So fast forward a week. A week of illness as I mentioned. Come Friday I went for one drink with work and by the time I’d had that and returned home, I didn’t want to leave. So I chilled out there. It was a bit boring but I needed the rest.

So come Saturday I was kinda bouncing off the walls. Though that was only my inner state. I was actually still really tired. But I needed to go out. Unfortunately no one seemed to be available or up for going out. It ended up with Pete and I, and for want of a better suggestion, we went back to Jewel.

For some reason it wasn’t half as good as the last time. There were loads more people, but not as many sets. Also, I was a week into growing a beard. For me it’s not a particularly pleasurable experience. It’s itchy, greasy, food gets stuck in it, you have a bunch of fluff stuck to the front of your face, and you’re not sure if it suits you.

Sometimes these things work for some people, sometimes they don’t. I grew my hair long once. It made me look like a girl. The lead singer in my band (female, OK-hot, and whom I flirt with mercilessly) said that my beard will make me look hot. Someone else said I looked “rugged” which is pretty much a good thing, though it may have only been the polite term for “sketchy” or “tramp-esque”.

Anyway it struck me that it provided me with an awesome take on my traditional hair opener – the beard opener. And when Pete pointed out a set to me shortly afterwards I had to try it out. So I did, and the answer was a resounding no. It was a bit hard to recover from that, as she was essentially telling me that she didn’t find me attractive!

After that we basically spent a couple of hours not finding any sets. I know it sounds crazy but all the girls were either in large, seated sets with no spaces or in other similarly inaccessible groups. Or not that hot or whatever. There were a couple of girls who looked quite hot and also quite high energy. I was thinking about opening them and looking at them. Then I noticed one rub her nose in a fairly conspicuous way. Then the other did too. Now I knew why they were high energy. Then I saw their eyes – wide and wasted. They were both on coke.

My fatigue and a broken resolution – going sarging stoned – managed to kill the night for me pretty much. Towards the end Pete and I were just standing there like lemons not opening, nothing to open. I sat down. There were two girls next to me, but they weren’t that hot. One sat down next to me. After about an year and a half I decided to open her with “You having a good evening?”

From a pretty inauspicious start we struck up a pleasant conversation, she turned out to be from North Holland and I impressed her with passable pronunciation of Groningen (it’s not how you think), where she lived. We chatted for a fair while, then her friend forced her to dance with her – it was a kind of cockblock. It was hilarious to watch.

Anyway I was easy, and then after a while Pete and I decided to leave. I said goodbye as I walked past the Dutch girl and lo and behold the other girl (a blonde kiwi) was all smiles and waving, as though we were best friends. Hmm. She wasn’t cockblocking me. She was cockblocking her mate. Interesting.

Lessons? Don’t go out stoned, silly. Try not to be knackered.

Hope you enjoyed the latest tales.

Monday, 2 March 2009


I wrote this article for my mates a few days ago, thought I'd post it here to share. I'm no expert, just writing what I've learnt from my own experiences. Take what you want from it and enjoy.

Why should I bother with meditation?

Meditation has a number of benefits on a number of levels. First there’s health. It helps with things like lowering blood pressure, reducing muscle tension, reducing stress hormones and increasing positive endorphins and the immune response. It generally relaxes the body.

Then there’s mental. It helps with clarity of thought and peace of mind. It helps with concentration. It reduces mental stress and increases contentment and confidence. It helps distance yourself from negative emotional responses, and allows you to choose how you react in given situations.

Empirically, studies have shown that meditation reduces the frequency of the electromagnetic activity in the brain. Our brain continuously gives off electromagnetic pulses. In day to day life this is usually at about 10-100 Hertz. As we meditate, this reduces to below 10 Hz, and in long term meditators it can reduce as low as 2-4 Hz. There are ways to also reduce it even further, down to 0.5Hz and lower, which I may talk about at some point (do a search for binaural beats on google)…

And finally there’s spiritual, although I don’t like the word “spiritual” – for me, it’s what I call “wider perception.” You become aware of existence at a higher level, that of the universal infinite and your part in it, and you distance yourself from your own consciousness. Some people call this god, “the spark of the divine within every human being.” It’s been described in many ways. It is what it is.

With regards to pick up, it’s the clarity of thought and the ability to choose your response in a given situation that is the most important. For those with AA specifically, if you’re in a mental rut and your state has crashed, being able to distance yourself (or already be distanced from) that state, and then to choose how to act, would be of some benefit.

How do I meditate?

First of all, you need to be in a quiet, relaxing place with no chance of being disturbed. Turn off your phone.

Then prepare yourself by being physically relaxed. This may take a minute or two, don’t worry if it takes time, and don’t worry if you can’t fully relax. Just do what you can and you’ll notice that it will get easier over time.

Sit on a flat surface is a cross legged position. That’s the idea at least. If that’s not easy for you, sit where you can with a straight back. If you become uncomfortable while you meditate, shift slightly as required to improve the situation, trying to make only as much movement as necessary.

When I start meditating and sitting in the position I often find that it takes a few minutes for my posture to settle, usually straightening and relaxing my back a few times, shifting my legs a bit. You may not need to, but don’t worry if you do.

Then start to concentrate on your breathing. You should breathe through the nose, not the mouth. You want to aim to slowly lengthen and deepen your breaths. Use your entire abdomen. Don’t pressure yourself, just relax into it. If you find yourself suddenly taking short breaths at first, despite having just taken long, deep breaths, don’t worry. Just settle back into it. Let the breath settle into a regular rhythm.

Once your breath is under control, become aware of your thoughts. At first they will be jumping around all over the place. That’s OK. Just be aware of them and watch them as they start to calm down. Let them be like clouds that pass in the sky. You can watch them with peace and let them pass, disappearing into space. Become detached from them. You can help reduce your thoughts by focussing on a single thing, sometimes a mantra (“om”) or on the mechanics of your breath. I favour the latter.

After a while you will notice that there are spaces within the thoughts, and that these spaces start to increase. It is these gaps – the absence of thought – that you are aiming for. That is meditation. Pure consciousness without the distraction of thought. Thought comes from the ego and pure consciousness is separate from thought and ego. It is also called presence. Maintain that state.

As you meditate your ego may react against it and try to demand attention. That's OK, that means you are doing it right. If you find yourself running away with your thoughts, just bring yourself back gently to your breath, and start to relax again. You may find this happens many times at first, and that is OK. It takes practice and perseverence, much like pick up, and it will become easier over time.

Good luck, and enjoy.