Monthly Archives: August 2015

Indoor holiday

mb_hhJust a brief note: it’s been a “bank holiday weekend” here in the UK, meaning we get Monday off; this was nice for me, because although I’ve only been back at work two days (!), the preceding 11 working days for which I was unemployed weren’t exactly relaxing!  Since I can’t afford to go abroad at the moment, this thus counted as my “holiday” this year.

And how did I spent my long weekend?  Why, staying at home and interacting with almost no-one else on planet Earth, that’s how — my two female housemates were away, my drummer housemate was performing in Oxfordshire, and “best mate” was getting wasted at the Notting Hill Carnival!  Don’t worry, I’m not becoming a recluse (again), it was just nice to stay indoors (especially given the typical bank holiday weather), relaxing and allowing my injured toe to heal.  I did a couple of nerdy things, ripping South Park episodes from DVD onto a big hard drive (yes, I’m finally buying the show), and refitting a giant heatsink to my computer processor (the one I’d taken off when I changed processor last October).

I even had a bit of a clear-out of old junk (especially computer and AV components I’ve had for years), and watched loads of old episodes of Spitting Image on YouTube.  This last is a bit like how I watched loads of old episodes of Kenny Everett’s shows in 2012… and I had a “staycation” about this time back then as well, albeit broken with a day trip to Paris.  Still, it’s better than 2013, when I had to go back to Worthing around this time just to have a working Internet connection, or 2014, when I was waiting for an unpaid internship — so if this year’s a rerun of 2012, so be it!

Back to work on Tuesday — and for a change, I’m looking forward to it… if only because I’ll have yoga afterwards, and due to working in Oxford Circus instead of Euston or King’s Cross, I’ll be approaching it from the opposite direction, so to speak!  There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere, but it’s too late at night… in any case, I can’t spent too much on dinner, or buying a new DVD/Blu-ray drive, because I’ve got to pay rent tomorrow — and if it hadn’t been for that £750 tax rebate in June, I wouldn’t be able to afford it now!

But hey, if I’m staying indoors, that means I’m really getting my money’s worth for my rent… right?

Better this time around

hinotoriI’m back in work as of Thursday — and this time around, me getting a job is unequivocally a good thing: it’s a “proper” IT job, it’s in a location to which I can commute via the Northern Line (changing to the Victoria Line at Euston), it doesn’t involve random 24/7 shifts (though there is opportunity to do weekend work at time-and-a-half), and it’s a job I got for myself in a very short time, instead of one spoonfed to me after a long drought to keep me going.

In fact, the only downer has been my sore toe (a TV leapt out at me in our hallway one night… yes, I know, that sounds more bizarre than it should!), which made it hard to hobble around, especially on Friday when I had to rush up to King’s Cross during lunch to see my friends from my former job (the one I finished earlier this month).  Fortunately my supervisor is very understanding and let me skive on that occasion — but I hope the boss doesn’t find out, as apparently she’s so strict that she drove the last guy out of this role after three days!

My greatest fear during the summer was that this year, 2015, wasn’t just a repeat of 2012 as I’d hoped (despite one of the main events being me failing a Windows-based exam), but more like a “greatest hits” of 2012, 2013 and 2014.  After all, the first four months saw me cold and massively anxious, just like in 2012, and late spring to early summer saw me feeling similar depression to 2013, when I’d come back from my holiday and realised just how much I hated my “normal” life and needed to change; thus I was scared that autumn and winter this year might be as bad as 2014, and see me stuck in jobs that I hated but couldn’t leave without facing total ruin.

However, even if late 2014 to early 2015 was a rerun of late 2011 to early 2012, it was still better somehow, and I think I can safely say it’s thanks largely to “best mate” standing by me, encouraging me to keep going to the cinema and Winter Wonderland instead of sitting at home all the time — and still climbing and seeing my personal trainer meant I maintained some semblance of health as well.  More recently, my old work friend recommending I take St. John’s wort (and indeed buying me another packet when I finished there, which was appreciated as it’s damn expensive!) has kept my spirits up and enabled me to almost conquer anxiety entirely — and to really appreciate, emotionally rather than intellectually, that my folks in Worthing would support me even if something went wrong.

This brief period of unemployment was far more tolerable than December and January, partly thanks to the weather not being as cold (or the nights as long), and partly thanks to me getting almost spammed with job application offers by agencies!  Indeed, this week just gone was my first week of interviews, and it was the second company with whom I interviewed that took me on — but the first one had also invited me back for a second round, so I hadn’t necessarily failed with them either!

Moreover, the company that took me on were very eager: my first interview was on Tuesday and my second on Wednesday, when they told me I’d be starting on Thursday!  I know the company for whom I worked briefly in November were also eager to get me in, but this one seems much more of a worthy organisation rather than a two-bit media operation with a porn channel filming upstairs, and it’s in the heart of London rather than a dump like Brondesbury Park.  That’s why I’m fully committed to staying with them… at least until I’ve been with them long enough, and proven myself sufficiently indispensable, that they’d offer me more money to convince me to stay if another company tried to tempt me away.

(But not right away, because I’m still a contractor during my first month of probation!)

It’s dizzying to remember how hard I tried to find work in January especially, yet how many failed interviews I had.  I wonder if my newfound positivity is what enabled me to get this job — to believe I really could get a job, and that I deserved it.  Too often I’ve felt that I’m too old to change career, and that I should have stayed at Camden and worked in admin for the rest of my life; it’s good that I can finally feel vindicated in the choice I made, back in June 2013, to join an IT training agency and really go for a computer-based career.

My next negative cycle to break will hopefully be how I never seem to get a second date with a girl…

From famine to feast?

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“I am in control of my emotions!!!”

Although the six-month job I finished recently wasn’t strictly IT work, it certainly had IT-ish aspects to it (including being on a helpdesk, even if it was more for bespoke software than general computer problems) — and, more importantly, it enabled me to get control of my emotions (largely through the use of St. John’s wort, recommended to me by a work colleague to whom I probably owe my life), which is helping with two aspects of my life: my desire to get an IT job, and my desire to get a girlfriend.

Remember when I channelled Swiss Tony and said that finding an IT job is like making love to a beautiful woman?  Or, more precisely, I said nearly two years ago that I got my first kiss on the same night I gained an interest in (modern) computers, putting my American roommate’s PC together while he fumed with jealousy because I’d had a date with a cute Hispanic girl.  Well, both aspects now seem to be getting rather intense at the moment, after a long period of futility.  However, in both cases it’s potential rather than actuality: I’m not working multiple IT jobs, and I’m not sleeping with a bevy of beauties, but rather I’ve got several interviews this week and I’m getting asked out once again, as well as connecting to potential dates in other areas as well.

Recently I spoke to my IT mentor (at the agency that found me that six-month job), and he reckoned I’m a lot more cheerful than I was before; mind you, that’s probably because the main difference between now and January is, well, the fact that this isn’t January, and despite today’s rain, the weather’s better than it was in the winter!  In addition, although August is traditionally a time for holidays, I’ve had plenty of calls from recruiters — today alone, indeed, after a quiet Friday, I’ve had two interviews arranged for Tuesday, though I haven’t been sent the details of the first of these, and only know it’s in the Bond Street area!

And similarly, I seem to be meeting more women these days; although someone who asked me out through that site through which I’ve been asked out so many times hasn’t responded to my e-mail response to her initial contact, and another looks like a female version of Colm Meaney (yes, I know, what a mean thing to say, ahahaha), I’ve had more success with (plug alert) Coffee Meets Bagel, and even “connected” today with someone — and got a date with a previous person, though that was unfortunately just a one-off.  I’ve also had a date with someone I met at salsa dancing, and while she may not be the one (but don’t write her off just yet!), the simple fact is that I’m making progress…

(Okay, fine, I’ve had jobs before, but never a long-term relationship with a girl — not even a bad one I wanted to get out of — so where’s the comparison there?  Perhaps jobs I’ve done that weren’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life have been like the periods when I’ve not been actively searching for a girlfriend, rather than being in a “settling” relationship)

Both things are numbers games, aren’t they?  I have to be constantly trying, calling up recruiters and going to social events, and never focusing too much on one potential job or potential date, worrying that I’m aiming too high and that the only job I’ll ever get will be low-paid shift work (or in an all-male IT department where I’m the only non-Muslim and the only non-smoker), and the only dates I get will be with women in their late thirties who I don’t fancy (or cute twentysomethings who I somehow put off me).

Above all, I must let myself believe that I deserve to get a decent IT job and a girlfriend I actually like, and that neither of these things is somehow forbidden solely because I’m “too old” and should somehow settle for whatever crumbs karma gives me.  And the funny thing is, for the first time, I reckon I might actually be in with a shot… is it CBT or Law of Attraction, or is it just me controlling my anxiety through over-the-counter medication and thus not ruining my chances by worrying about ruining my chances?

I really think I should try to meet up with my old work friends tomorrow for lunch, once I’ve endured those two damn work interviews, and thank them for setting me on the right path — it’s astonishing how different my life is now compared to January…

(P.S. Yes, I know I need to write in this blog more often, as there might actually be someone out there who’s reading it and finds my self-indulgent posts about emotions useful — so all right, I’ll try to post more often, thereby completing the “famine to feast” metaphor!  Maybe I’ll finally write about what kind of woman I want… or, more likely, I’ll just go on about Gwar again!)

The end of an era?

The final end.
—The Second Doctor, Doctor Who: The Evil of the Daleks (1967)

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Yes, I know Peter Capaldi isn’t in this image, so please don’t bother to point it out

Tonight I watched the last ever Doctor Who episode of the show’s original 1963-1989 run; I started watching* the show from the beginning in 2011, and apart from breaks here and there to watch 24, Twin Peaks, The Twilight Zone, Game of Thrones and various anime series, as well as for holidays both abroad and in Worthing, I’ve kept up this institution of watching an episode over dinner (or, since mid-2013, after meetup events some evenings) on weeknights for a very long time.

(* Or “listening”, in the case of a number of missing 1960s episodes — I’m so grateful for those two Sixties geeks who recorded the show onto audio tape!)

The original series was divided into multi-episode stories (which are also how it’s been released on DVD), and generally I’ve watched one story every week; boy, I’ve been through some changes since I started watching the First Doctor in January 2011.  Moving on to the Second Doctor in the autumn, I finished depressing 2011 with The Evil of the Daleks (which, as it was intended to be the last ever Dalek story, ended with the quote above), and by the time I moved to Finchley in February 2012, I’d reached The Web of Fear (before they found most of the missing episodes and released it on DVD).  I finished the Second Doctor in the summer of 2012, and after a break, began the Third Doctor; symbolically, here was the last ever Doctor Who VHS I ever watched, The Mind of Evil (it hadn’t come out on DVD yet, being one of those stories that needed extra mojo from the Restoration Team).

I finished the Third Doctor just before my American holiday in 2013, and began the Fourth Doctor once I was back; this was a long prospect, because he lasted seven seasons!  It was nice to start 2014 with the “Key to Time” season, but by the summer, and my holiday to Michigan, I’d finished with him as well; I split the Fifth Doctor stories (most of which I remembered from my childhood) around that period of waiting for an IT placement in August 2014, but brought his era to an end with The Twin Dilemma just after losing that horrible job in November (I wonder if I’ll always associate Resurrection of the Daleks with night shifts?).  I waited until early 2015, and the prospect of working again, to begin watching the Sixth Doctor (did buying Attack of the Cybermen cause me to get a job?), and with barely a break went on to the Seventh Doctor, who I have now finished with Survival, just as my current work contract comes to an end.

So that’s it: no more need for me to plan my weekday evenings around multi-part serials — while I will certainly continue to watch TV shows on DVD/Blu-ray (beginning with season 4 of Game of Thrones… no, stop shouting spoilers at your computer screens!), I won’t need to do again what I’ve been doing since 2011.  It’s a kind of freedom, not feeling compelled to watch a serial over the course of a week, and plan my evening activities around it.  Just as I haven’t watched EastEnders religiously since 2012, and haven’t religiously watched Quantum Leap or some incarnation of Star Trek on broadcast TV for years, so I’m not watching the whole of Doctor Who in the evenings now.

But don’t worry: there’s still more Doctor Who for me to watch — the Eighth Doctor TV movie I’ll watch this week (perhaps on Friday after personal training?), and the single Ninth Doctor season (which I’ve never seen repeated on TV) at some point in the future, hopefully followed by the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth.  However, since the post-2005 incarnation of the show is properly episodic (I know there’s some two- and three-parters, but they don’t matter), I won’t feel OCD-ish not watching an episode every night — it’ll be like watching any other show on DVD/Blu-ray.

I think when I started watching Doctor Who on a weeknight basis in 2011, it fitted well with my relatively constant evenings, where I never stayed out late; even when I started climbing in 2012, it didn’t make much of a difference (perhaps because I tended to do it one night a week, and thus had four evenings to watch a four-part story).  However, since I began socialising in the evenings in 2013, it’s become more and more difficult to fit everything in, and it’s been almost an excuse to myself to come home early (well, that and needing to use the shower before the hot water ran out!).

Thus I feel a bit like I’ve grown up tonight, and that a new phase can begin in my life.  I don’t regret watching all of Doctor Who religiously, but it’s time to move on.

(No, I won’t be getting rid of my DVD collection — I’ve not grown up that much!)

— — —

P.S. Yes, you read that right above: my current job is coming to an end — on Tuesday, indeed — and so I’ll be back on the job market.  Fortunately, my six months at a health data company in King’s Cross will stand me in good stead, and I already have a couple of prospects (including one via Meetup.com!).  I’ll talk more about it next week, but to summarise, I’ve been happier there than I thought I would be, and they would have kept me on if they could — it’s a shame this era also has to end!