Monthly Archives: July 2015

New tactics, old tactics

ad_furrowNo apologies for the increasing gaps between blog posts, I’m sure you’re used to it by now — but let me start by saying that I’ve gone and failed my Windows Server 2008 exam.  Don’t panic, I get a free retake, and I know what I did wrong: I didn’t cheat!

Yes, it seems the only way I can get anywhere in life is by burying my ethics and doing what I shouldn’t — thus I’m going back to the online “exam dumps” that I eschewed this time around through a mixture of moralising and laziness.  The questions in the exam bore so little resemblance to the training material that I was reminded of the disaster of my Windows 7 exam in 2012 (is my life really going in three-year cycles?), except this time I did even worse, not even getting 90% of the pass mark.

(If I didn’t know better, and I don’t, I’d think I was deliberately marked down because I’m not already an IT professional and admitted in the preliminary bit of the test that I didn’t have much experience — after all, Heaven forefend that an enthusiastic amateur be allowed to shame the experts!  Look at Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards… okay, bad example!)

It’s come at a bad time: my current work contract is nearly over, and though they might keep me on a bit longer, depending on workload (and my contribution to my team’s total pedometer count), it looks like I have to face going back into the job market again.  It’s better to be doing so in the summer than the winter (though admittedly the current difference between the two appears to be the length of daylight hours), but this time I’ll have to change tactics regarding my CV, and focus on the “big” jobs I’ve had (the current one and, of course, Camden), instead of mentioning every single one I’ve done recently (like the bad one in November).

However, will I have time for all this studying and applying, since I’ve redoubled my efforts to get out and socialise?  Rather than just climbing, yoga and personal training, plus hanging out with “best mate”, I’m making more of an effort to go to meetup groups I’ve been neglecting, such as salsa dancing and Science Museum end-of-month “lates”.  Perhaps I’m recapturing how I felt when I first discovered Meetup.com in 2013, after my holiday, when I needed some new experiences, and will have to start being sensible again, and force myself to stay in some evenings…

In my effort to try new things, I’ve even taken my dating coach’s advice and visited a gentlemen’s club… that was certainly an experience I’d never had before — and while I won’t go into details (because this is a family blog!), I like to think I’m more relaxed around hot women now, even if I really need to learn to flirt instead of talking to them like they’re human beings.  I have been trying to do that lately, and getting downhearted when it fails to lead to a date, but I mustn’t give up — and if all else fails, I’ll use the same ethics I’m now using with IT exams, and simply cheat.  Yep, I’ll lie about my age on dating sites (perhaps even creating a fake Facebook profile to link with Tinder) — after all, I could pass for 27, couldn’t I?

(Ah, screw you guys!)

I’m trying new things in the musical world as well… no, don’t worry, Gwar will always have a special place in my heart (I’ve even finally learned the lyrics to “Let Us Slay”, exactly a year after I got Lust in Space), but thanks to cheap CDs on Amazon and in charity shops, I’ve discovered Björk, Dido and Radiohead, as well as getting CDs of artists of whom I was already fans (and perhaps already had some tracks), like the Pet Shop Boys, Blur and Jamiroquai.  This is in addition to all the early Prince CDs I bought recently: I think my music collection’s increased in size by about a third this year!  Indeed, I really should get a bigger SD card for my phone, so I can also rip my grandmother’s classical music CDs — because that’s something else I want to try all over again…

And finally, to modify my attitudes I’m trying something new: self-help books!  In addition to that book on CBT I’ve mentioned before, I’ve begun reading a book lent to me by that cool woman at work (who’s like an aunt to me) — The Secret, all about the “Law of Attraction” and the notion that you get whatever you think about, whether you’re thinking about it in a positive or negative context.  This is what a female friend of mine was on about last year, and might explain why the annoying woman was always at work whenever I wanted her not to be; it seems to be working so far: instead of thinking how much I resent the presence of other blokes (especially Middle Eastern ones), I try to focus on how much I want to encounter women… and thus the yoga singles event I attended on Friday had equal numbers of both genders!

Oh, how I want loads of people to come to my blog, see how intelligently I write, and offer me untold riches as though I’m a modern messiah… no?  Well, it was worth a try!

— — —

What’s that?  You want to hear the Gwar song I’ve memorised?  You are never satisfied, are you?  Oh, go on then, here you go… and yes, I’m channelling Frankie Howerd at the end of the Up Pompeii! movie whenever I do this!

Sorting out mental and physical health

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As Shady once asked the audience at a concert in 2001: “How many people in London pop pills?”

Don’t worry, I won’t keep you long: this is a relatively quick post about the health issues I’m going through at the moment, and what I’m doing to ameliorate them; they’re tied in with my mental health as well, as I believe both are inextricably intertwined (yes, that’s easy for me to say!).

To begin with, I had one of the lowest days of my life last Tuesday, for reasons not entirely clear to me; it seems, however, to have resulted from taking ibuprofen that morning.  I’d started taking max strength ibuprofen at the weekend when I woke up with a bad back (which itself resulted from me sleeping awkwardly, as I’d tried to stay up to watch one of our rare thunderstorms), and carried on taking it to help with the headaches that were resulting from me wearing my old-old glasses (having broken my old glasses on a previous bad day).  It turns out this painkiller can damage your stomach lining, which is presumably why I felt lousy almost as soon as I took it.  Hey, remember when I linked bad stomach feelings with depression?  My friend at work (a wonderfully sarcastic fortysomething) said she thought the light had gone out of my eyes, and I found crying alone in the gents’ didn’t help me feel any better… and let’s just say I’m relieved the windows don’t open in our fifth-storey office!

My friend advised me to try St. John’s wort, an over-the-counter mood elevator, and so far it’s worked: I’ve been more cheerful at work (albeit not so much with the male members of the office!), though ironically it’s also been making me feel just a bit nauseous.  Indeed, on Friday I felt like I needed to barf, yet all that came out was a bit of bile — something which also happened to me the day after my evening of utter despair in January 2012, so at least I know it’s not a permanent condition.

I went to see my GP on Thursday to confirm that this would be an appropriate course of action; he, or rather the latest in a series of quacks filling in for him (I’m not sure I’ve ever actually met my doctor at all!), said it would be fine, but knew nothing of ibuprofen triggering depression.  He’s also trying to help me with IBS — something else I was diagnosed with in January 2012 — and on that basis I’m going to try to cut down on FODMAPs… though, sadly, this means I have to give up garlic and onion entirely!

(Damn, what am I gonna order at Ed’s Diner if not Atomic Onion Rings?)

On a related topic: recently I had a blood test, believing myself to be suffering from hypothyroidism (yes, very good, obviously I mean hypochondria, how whimsical), due to my tendency to feel the cold, amongst other symptoms; instead, the test came back “normal” in every category (as the rather bored nurse told me over the phone).  However, my stand-in quack told me on Thursday that I’m borderline on iron: I’d never been told this at any of my blood donor sessions, but apparently it’s so (unsurprising since I’m a vegetarian), but since iron supplements would probably exacerbate my IBS, I’m going to redress the balance via my diet.  Thus I’ll be eating kale instead of rocket in my sandwiches and burgers, having already substituted this for lettuce, which my personal trainer says is little more than water!

I’m also doing my best to cut down on fatty foods, especially chocolate and fizzy drinks (shall we say, special occasions such as visits to the cinema?), though I’m in two minds about caffeine: tea itself is apparently all right in FODMAP terms, but do I need the stimulant, especially given its effects on the stomach?  I’ve tried drinking caffeine-free tea in the mornings, but it always seems to leave me feeling more tired than usual at work, and thus I end up making a cuppa there anyway.

(But at least I don’t buy a chocolate bar to dunk in it any more!)

Anyway, I’ll keep you guys posted as to how my health, mental and physical, is affected by my changing diet and my pill-popping — hey, I’m just glad it’s not diazepam (as I almost took in January 2012), or something else whose possession would be illegal without a prescription!

Of course, as I’ve found so many times before, the best way to get over depression and anxiety is to remove the cause; unfortunately, at the moment the cause is my dying love life, so I’m gonna need to break out the defil– defirb– defibrit– oh, you know, CLEAR! <fzzzt>

Making the same mistakes

There’s something you should know about me by now, Roger: I don’t learn lessons.
—Stan Smith, American Dad! (S2E10, “Rough Trade”)

beavis_christmas_carolHow’s my current attempt to rekindle my dating life going?  Not well, that’s how.  I’m going nowhere at OK Cupid, and have deleted my Tinder account again, as I really feel like my age being visible makes it impossible for any women I would find desireable to give me a chance.   Even when I meet women, it seems I come on too strong, or go where I shouldn’t: remember the Polish ex-cheerleader?  I outright flirted with her via text message, and she texted back that she has a boyfriend already.  I should have known, because any time an attractive women speaks to me like a human being, it’s guaranteed she has a “significant other”.

(Which would imply that the girl at work who’s so scared of me she flinches if we happen to use the kitchen at the same time is in fact single!)

I’m also still trying to divest myself of clutter, and yet it seems every time I take stuff to the dump or the charity shop, instead of feeling better, I end up feeling worse.  Maybe it’s just a coincidence (you know, because I always feel worse at some point, it being my lot in life), and I should stop obsessing over the notion that one or more of my possessions are cursed, and that as soon as I get rid of them, my luck will change?  Similarly, every time I stop looking up (shall we say) “that” on the Internet for any length of time, hoping that I’ll repeat the luck I had in 1998 when I started dating someone two weeks after arriving in Michigan?

And so we see, I do indeed keep making the same mistakes: letting myself get down, forgetting how far I’ve come, assuming that what I’m doing doesn’t work for the wrong reasons, and failing to take in the lessons I should have learned already, especially from my dating coach.  In fact, it was one bit of her advice that prompted me to text-flirt with the Polish girl this week, and much like “American girl” two years ago, she forgave me for asking her out and still wants to be friends (we chatted about her having to bus it into town thanks to the Tube strike today). Thus I’ve lost nothing by trying, and gotten some flirtation practice in to boot.

Similarly, while it’s futile to hope I’ll come upon that one specific object that’s cursed me to be forever alone (I’d especially be worried that it’s my computer!), it’s a good thing that I’m decluttering and tidying my room; the mistake I keep making is letting things revert to their natural messy state, so I have to find the strength to keep things tidy!  It’d be easier if banks etc. didn’t keep sending me all this paperwork (what happened to the paperless office?), but I need to discipline myself to file stuff away (possibly after scanning it, if it’s important).  At least I finally dealt with a stack of papers I needed to shred recently, but oh, was that ever an ordeal.

Moreover, while I’m a man with a man’s needs, that book on CBT my mother lent me says that obsessive, addictive behaviour such as (shall we say) looking at “that” on the Internet all the time needs to stop completely, much as an alcoholic needs to give up alcohol entirely and can no longer enjoy it even on a limited basis (unless he’s really strong-willed).  It’s not that I’ll somehow build up positive karma and thus be allowed to meet someone, it’s more that I don’t want it to control my life — and if I want sordid sexual thrills, I can always go to a strip club (as I’ve planned to do already), in the hope of getting enough confidence that I can go out and meet a woman for real, instead of wasting time on dating sites feeling like I’ve got no hope because of my age.  Indeed, I think the point at which I wouldn’t need to worry about getting addicted to “that” again would be the point at which I wouldn’t need it any more anyway!

Finally, the mistake I keep making even when I do seem to “meet someone” is coming on too strong too soon, due to anxiety about maybe never seeing her again and feeling like this is my one shot with her; this is because almost everyone I meet at events (including yoga) is a Fight Club-style “single-serving friend”, rather than a regular attendee with whom I can build a relationship, and thus trust, over a course of weeks.  The same applies when it’s a date, usually because I’m not sure it’s a date and want to make it clear I’m interested in her.  However, I need to reel it in, because it’s not necessary even to kiss on a first date: just a long bout of smiling eye contact should be enough, and let her make a move if she’s so inclined, but don’t lunge in.  And don’t be too eager texting afterwards (a mistake I made with the Taiwanese girl in 2013, who could have been a keeper), but also don’t give up completely if she doesn’t immediately reply (which I at least tried with the Polish girl this week, and maybe it’ll work in future).

(I really need to type up all the advice my dating coach gave me, and revise it as much as I’ve been revising for my Server 2008 exam later this month — and I also need to pay more attention to the CBT book, as I’m reading it last thing at night and thus falling asleep before I’ve really taken it in.  Maybe I ought to read it during the day, and go back to reading Judge Dredd comics at night?)

I guess the biggest mistake I keep making is to not follow through when I make improvements, feeling like I’ll always be “this bad” and deserve no happiness, and thus quitting whatever I was doing and reverting to type.  Well, not this time — 2015 is going to be “make or break” for me, and I certainly intend it to be the former!