People you meet on the Road V: The Pelican King

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Over the winter of 2015, after having spent a wonderful and eventful Summer in Turkey, I decided to return to a small town called “Fethiye” for Christmas Holidays. I had little else to do, and I’d been hired by a friend to edit a book of his. The small port town was thus the perfect getaway now that the prices had fallen and the tourists had left for warmer places.

Truth be told, most of the articles I published in 2016 came from this month of work. The sudden and noticeable drop in activity and frequency of published articles midyear happened once I ran out of them, and actually had to get my ass into gear. Although I quite enjoy the art and craft of writing, I often just as much enjoy pretending I’m going to write and watching Youtube videos instead.

Be that as it may, I have very fond memories of this month as a quasi-hermit and author. Despite the terrible weather, the fabulous scenery was still there, and there wasn’t a foreigner in sight. Hence the few remaining shops, restaurants and hostels open were extremely generous to any lost soul that happened to end up over there. Among them there was a cafe by the boardwalk called “Pelikan Cafe,” and contrary to expectations, its name delivered!

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Bittersweet Endings and New Beginnings

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After finishing university the other day, I can now pompously call myself an economist. Nowadays, when I go to a social gathering, I will almost be able to hear sphincters nervously clench when asked what I studied, and they hear what I have to say on the matter. I will now see the terror in their hearts when I answer that I profess the trade of Adam Smith, as they hope to god almighty that I don’t talk about inflation or currency exchange rates, or how the Brexit is a stupid idea.

I didn’t get to wear a silly Harry Potter gown, or attend graduation, because I put my degree to good use and calculated that the value (gotten out of essentially paying £80 for a handshake, a boring speech I wouldn’t remember, and a hastily taken photograph) was simply not worth it. Instead, I’ve been travelling with my father and yesterday I showed him Canterbury, the city where I’ve been living in for the last three years.

I showed him the fields where I walked with a lovely girl with whom I was with for a while; I showed him the discount supermarket I used to greedily shop at once a week; I showed him the pigsty that we used to call our student flat; I showed him the campus and all its labyrinthine quirks; I showed him where I took my first salsa classes;  and I showed him a coffee shop where I must’ve had well over a dozen dates – I showed him home.

If there’s anywhere that I’ve lived in that I could’ve called “home”, with all the pageantry and positive feelings that are bundled with the word, it was there. Frankly, I did not have a happy upbringing, and it took to well into my adulthood to find the peace and happiness that people seem to ooze from every pore. Nowadays, I know that is mostly an act – a lie they eagerly fan on their social media accounts to promote the cult of themselves. Yet, I was joyless for most of my existence, doubly so when I suspected everyone else was happy except myself. If home is where the heart is, I was homeless for most of my life.

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The Cynic’s Guide to Life II – Adolescence & Highschool

The playground you used to go to during classes now seems like distant memory. Nowadays, you have developed paranoia in any and all social situations. Everyone seems oddly interested in anything you do or think. Furthermore, you try not to stand out from the crowd because of your crippling fear of being a social outcast.

All of a sudden you’re also interested in the opposite gender, and you’d like to do something to woo them. The portion of you that isn’t attracted to the contrary sex may think this state of being is wrong, and it may take a whole lifetime to come to terms with the fact that it isn’t. At any rate, there’s a slight problem with your sudden obsession to find a mate as your whole biology seems to be conspiring against you.

During this time you will look the absolute worst you most likely ever will, except when you hit old age. At this stage, your teeth will misalign, your voice will change erratically, and your face will be covered with acne and, to top it all off, you will be painfully aware of each scar, mark and zit on your body. That said, this self awareness needn’t be a bad thing.

This period might lead you to finally create an identity for yourself, instead of adopting the values of your authority figures. However, a good chunk of you will fall into new pitfalls. Instead of adopting the ideas of your caretakers, most of you will turn to your peers to consolidate your identity. This is by far the absolute worst you can do, as nobody has any idea of what they’re doing, so they will oftentimes think and act in clichés, it’s sorta like putting a mirror in front of a mirror.

People in marketing firms are well aware of this tendency; so they’ll sell you products, which you think will somehow provide you with a much needed identity. It’s safe to say that those who fall for this can say goodbye to any dreams of riches they had. With that single action, they’ve accidentally become permanent additions to our slave culture. From then on, not only will they work in the future to cover their loans and their needs, but they’ll yearn for the next status symbol – be it a car or some fancy gizmo which lights up and beeps. They can also say goodbye to any hopes of forming a concise identity, because they’ll be so tied to these products that they won’t really have much to offer in terms of personality. Apple, Starbucks, Nike, Adidas – most of you will use these as an identity throughout your lives.

In any case, I’m getting ahead of myself. As has been hinted at before, you will probably develop the vices at this time which will carry long into adulthood. More than likely, this happened because you didn’t want to be ostracized. So, you’ll start smoking, drinking or using drugs not because you actually enjoy them at first, but because your peers supposedly do. Now here’s the kicker, most of them are in the exact same situation as you.

funny-alcohol-pictures-kfgo2v4hHell, according to certain organizations, one of the telltale signs that you have become an addict is that you don’t take alcohol in social settings, but you use it by yourself. In other words, some organizations may start branding you as an addict if you start enjoying these things without some form of social pressure, and not for its own joy. At one point or another, this sociability will lead you to find somebody you deem attractive and compatible enough to be with you. This in turn, provokes feelings which affect the brain in very much the same way as conventional narcotics. Obviously, these chemical imbalances make you do things which might usually be out of character.

If you’re a male, the chances of you dying, because of bravado, stupidity or a mixture of both, at this point of your life increases significantly. This mostly happens so you can try to win a girl over. Regardless, according to you, these bouts of insanity have a purpose. Because, after all, you’re never going to meet someone that makes you feel the way you do now, right? Well, even if that’s actually true, the feeling you might call “love” only lasts about a year in most cases. Yet you will revolt at the idea, you’ll say something akin to “Well, this is something different. We REALLY love each other.” Sure you do, your love is special, just as everyone else’s is.

The reason as to why you’re inclined to think such trite isn’t really your fault. After all, you were brought up to think that you were special. You are somehow a relevant part in society, even though you have yet to accomplish anything of note and your name will probably fade into oblivion in less than a generation. As a kid you were told that you could be an astronaut, an actor, or anything your heart desired; yet those same people failed to mention that someone has to make the sandwiches.

A good culprit for this is school, which at this point is making you do the exact same thing you’ve been doing for the last couple of years. Nonetheless, there’s one crucial difference. In the past, while nobody really explained you the value of most of the lessons you learned, you could still find some application in the real world. Now, you’d be really hard pressed to come up with a single worthwhile application for the things you are learning. It’s not to say that the knowledge is useless, not by any means, but it’s the equivalent of handing a computer to someone in the Middle Ages and expecting them to make sense of it – while the tools themselves might be very useful, if no context is provided you can’t really use them with any degree of efficiency.

Besides that, you can now see that your school years are rapidly coming to an end. Soon, you’ll have to pick a college to attend to. Many of you also have no idea as to what you’d like to study. Furthermore, some studies even claim that around half of you will regret studying whatever you end up choosing either way. I suspect that this has much to do with the fact that very few people are given the chance to explore their passions, and they don’t give much thought to it when they are at this very important crossroad.

At the risk of sounding like a cliché,do not pick a career to study because you think it has a lot of money in it. Take doctors as an example, you oftentimes hear that there’s a lot of money to be made from that career choice and it’s also not all that uncommon to hear that many study medicine for precisely that reason. Yet a few recent studies, show that a profitable career isn’t exempt from a large portion of the practitioners to regret studying it.

Another portion of you will also be somewhat forced to study a career because it’s “tradition”, you’ll feel compelled to follow with the long line of workers in your family. However, I advise you to take a stand in this matter; you’ve stood up for far stupider reasons, so at least do it once for something that’s worthwhile. In any case, you will pick a career and with it a university.

Nonetheless, when you start seeing the entry requirements it becomes sort of like a game of bingo: “I have that! I fulfill that requirement as well! DAMN! I don’t fulfill that one, oh well, on to the next university” Eventually, if you’re lucky enough, you find a university which you like and which will take you. At this point, you’re on the other side of the fence as you have a clear plan for the future. Even so, there are certain formalities which must be overcome. Firstly, we have the exams and the like. This will, more than likely, be the last time in your life where some of this knowledge is even remotely useful in your day to day existence. So you hit the books one last time with the hopes that it will all be worth it in the end.

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“WHY ISN’T THIS WORKING?”

After all that has been survived, two events start popping up in everyone’s lips – graduation and prom. It’s at this point where you start wondering whether you’re in some bad “coming of age” comedic film because most people start following the script to the letter. Furthermore, there’s a scent of finality in the air.

Friends and such start saying their teary goodbyes and they vow to remain in contact for years to come. Rest assured, you won’t willingly exert much effort to come in contact with most of them in the following years, or ever. If you don’t move elsewhere though, you might keep bumping into people and both of you will lie to each other by saying you should organize a get together, but both parties keep it intentionally vague because they really have little interest in seeing one another. In any case, graduation and prom are for many a crowning achievement in their lives. Some older people will even say that their years in high school were the best of their days. I shudder to think that so many actually believe that time was the best life has to offer. So, while many clock out and stop being relevant in any way, for a lot of people the end of school represents the start of a new adventure. At this stage one can finally be considered an adult, huzzah!