Monthly Archives: January 2016

Getting through January

ad_nightmareI’m not going to talk about my job due to a “situation”; I won’t elaborate, but suffice to say I’ll say something on or after 5th February, when I know what’s happening.  I also don’t want to say anything about my romantic life, as I have a history of jinxing myself that way (not to mention the fact that my mother reads this dreck, and her knowing anything of my romantic life is invariably bad luck).  So, what else can I possibly talk about?

Well, how about how hard it is to get up in the mornings in January.  Yeah, not much of a topic, but it has to be said, I feel drained in this month, physically and mentally, likely due to the dark mornings and evenings.  It wasn’t a problem over Christmas, when I wouldn’t get up until after 8am anyway, and was staying in a nice warm house with my meals cooked for me; but since coming back to London and returning to work, it’s been… problematic.  I’ve been too lethargic in the mornings to do more than make breakfast — I haven’t been making lunch to take to work with me, and I haven’t been hard-boiling eggs to complement my seeds/nuts/berries/yoghurt (at least I’m still doing that, instead of adding milk to generic cereal like I did until 2014).  This means I get hungry by 12pm and have to go out to get some lunch, though at least I’m keeping that at under £5/day.

It was also particularly cold in the mornings last week; fortunately it’s milding out again (yes, I just invented a term), but for several days it was even more unpleasant to get up, due to my room being below 16°C, and the only way I’ve been able to survive has been by wearing my dressing gown to bed (and turning on my electric heater, which fortunately I didn’t give away).  The cold also sapped my will to stay out in the evenings, and for the first half of last week I eschewed salsa dancing, climbing etc. in order to come straight back here and put the heating on, since starting early seems to be the only way to get my room anywhere near 20°C by the end of the evening.  I’m not even playing video games every evening I stay home: sometimes I’m too lethargic even to do that much, and I just web-browse and watch TV until bedtime…

Something else I’ve noted is that I’m going to bed earlier these days: not consciously for health reasons, but simply because I’m feeling tired.  In my youth (okay, mid-thirties) I could stay up until 2am at the weekend, playing games and/or watching films, yet now I find 11pm to be a good time to curl up in bed, especially if I’m in Worthing visiting my folks, and even on Friday nights I’m often too lazy to write my diary, leaving it until Sunday night (as I’m doing now — I call them “Sunday night specials”).  What’s wrong with me?  Am I getting old, unable to (ahem) party all night like I used to?  Or worse: am I getting sensible, and choosing to go to bed at a civilised hour?

It’s probably just that I’m having a nice hot shower each evening, in the nice warm upstairs bathroom (which suddenly has good hot water pressure at the same time that the colder one downstairs doesn’t), and so am feeling calm and relaxed, and ready to sleep.  And tonight I’m recovering from not only personal training on Friday, but a couple of hours of climbing this afternoon, so of course I’m going to be tired — who wouldn’t be?  So, in a few minutes I’ll be off to bed, and hopefully rest well enough to punch Monday in the stomach (or some equally-violent metaphor).

Or maybe it’s just these dark mornings and nights — which, let’s face it, everyone hates — that are getting me down, and in the spring and summer, thanks to increased daylight, I’ll feel energised enough to get up extra-early and play video games before work, like I started to do when I got Duke Nukem Forever in 2011… yeah, right!  I remember things getting better in February more than once, so I know I’ve just got to endure this dark, miserable month, just like everyone else, and then I’ll see improvement.

Nonetheless, I miss being able to do more interesting things than sleep; when are they going to bring out those pills from American Dad! that let you stay up all night but still feel rested?  I could always use an extra six or seven hours a day… with that amount of time to fill, I’d have no choice but to learn the guitar at last!

(P.S. I’ve spent so long on this that it’s well after midnight — so it’s your fault I’m losing sleep!  I hope you’re happy…)

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The lost year

ad_furrowI know we’ve just started a calendar year (2016, in case you’re reading this in the year 2525 or something), but I feel like my own life moves in cycles that start in late August or early September.

(On this basis, I won’t be making any New Year’s Resolutions here… except perhaps to wear the FitBit my folks got me for Christmas, and keep exercising!)

Maybe it’s simply because school always started in September, with the last bit of August being thus apprehensive, or it might be because my birthday’s in early October and thus late August marks the anniversary of the moment when my brain first started working as I grew in my mummy’s tummy.  Or, it’s just a huge coincidence and I’m talking about nothing as usual.

In any case, just as my life began to pick up in late 2012 after a particularly bad time, I feel that things really improved for me at the end of August last year, when I found my current job, and that the academic year before that, beginning in August 2014, was somehow a “lost year” of my life in which I didn’t really achieve anything except to get a year older with nothing to show for it.

But is that true?  I didn’t get a girlfriend (okay, no surprise there), and I didn’t find a permanent job (except the one I lost almost immediately), and I spent a lot of time stressed, anxious and wishing I’d stayed at Camden, doing mindless admin for a half-decent wage, instead of leaping faithfully into IT.  I would actually go so far as to say there was nothing enjoyable about the last few months of 2014, and that each phase (unpaid internship, 24/7 shift work and unemployment) made the previous phase seem better by comparison… and the six months of admin work I did after that was less a job and more a form of therapy, as though I’d come out of a coma and metaphorically needed to learn to walk again.

You know what?  Screw that — 2014 to 2015 may have sucked while I was going through it, but it was a necessary time of my life.  Much as I wish I could have left Camden and gone straight to the job I do now, that would have meant not meeting the three nice ladies at my 2015 admin job who I still meet for lunch now and then, who supported me through the bad times (and introduced me to St. John’s wort, which is still there if I need it again).  “Best mate” similarly helped, standing by me and trying to keep me cheerful; moreover, if this was January 2015 instead of January 2016, he’d still be living in that awful place in Manor House, rather than in my house and feeling much better about his life.

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This guy also played my childhood hero Starbuck in “Battlestar Galactica”… yes, I know he womanised and smoked cigars, what’s your point?

Most of all, though, if I hadn’t suffered through that horrible time of my life, I wouldn’t regard my life as it is now as such a blessing — I wouldn’t have earned this job, and in all probability would be snapping impatiently at staff members instead of being patient and amiable with them over relatively simple problems.  Something in this year-long ordeal changed me and made me the kind of man who can be the “face” of an IT department, and so I don’t begrudge 2014 to 2015 for having existed.

As a final note, I was listening to my grandmother’s classical music CDs in 2014, and now, nearly two years later, I’ve finally got around to ripping them all and putting them on my phone.  This means I can start listening to them again from the beginning, and really appreciate a genre of music that I’ve been trying to bring into my life for years now (as you may recall), instead of just putting Gwar on rotation all the time.

Not that I’m going off the Scumdogs of the Universe, but I don’t want to, ahem, wear them out.  It was hard to enjoy them in 2014 to 2015, and perhaps I’ll always associate their last three albums with that time of my life, but as long as I’m listening to them to feel good and not, in some quasi-narcotic way, to try not to feel bad, I’ll be just fine.  On a related topic, I’m getting back into learning the guitar (by the simple expedient of actually practising chords, in the hope my fingers will grow calluses), which was one of my pledges in 2014; maybe I’ll never be able to jam with Gwar, but hopefully I’ll be able to knock out a few tunes.

And if I have the time, I’ll study CCNA and get that under my belt as well…

(Don’t worry, I won’t go on at length about how the academic years 2000-2003 were similarly “lost” years, due to my having to live with my folks in Worthing between my undergrad and postgrad days, because I’m sure you’re all thoroughly sick of me doing “then and now” posts!)

Happy new year… again

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Belatedly I have to say: Merry Christmas, dillholes!

I’m sure you guys have become thoroughly sick of me comparing my life now to my life in the past; this old timer sure loves to ramble, it’s true, but I’m not done yet.  Maybe it can be one of my New Year’s resolutions not to do any more “then and now” posts in this here blog, but if so, let’s make this one the last, and then I’ll get on with hoping for the future instead.

Christmas was always spent with my family when I was a child, unsurprisingly; we always opened our presents (well, mostly mine) on Christmas Day, highlights including Transformers, M.A.S.K., Real Ghostbusters and Daleks; I would subsequently sleep through New Year’s celebrations.  Things changed in 1989, when my grandfather bought a colour TV for the dining room and I thus inherited the ancient black-and-white one for my room, which enabled me to stay up and watch Clive James presenting a look back at the 1980s (and then set my digital watch to Big Ben at midnight).  My mother got me a colour TV the following Christmas, and it was probably around then that I began buying presents for my folks as well.  And, for almost as long as I could remember, we had this one plastic Christmas tree that I helped put up every year…

(Sadly, the plastic Christmas tree with which we replaced that has now broken and been replaced — it’d be less environmentally unsound if we just got a real tree every December!)

Being in Worthing in 1992 changed things again, not least because the Christmas holidays were more of an escape for me (due to really not enjoying school) than ever before.  In 1993 I’d gone into hospital for dental surgery just before Christmas, and spent the following days coughing up blood, hyperventilating, and swilling my mouth out with hot salty water in lieu of brushing my teeth, so that Christmas was never going to be particularly good (though for the first time ever, I had a VCR in my room!).  From 1994 onwards, in a new house in the same town (where my folks still live now, and in which I’m writing this), things became more or less constant: we’d open our presents before Christmas Day (sometimes as early as the 22nd!), and I’d stay up on New Year’s Eve to watch the fireworks on TV with my folks, possibly drink some champagne, and then go to sleep…

While I was at university, the Christmases and New Years of 1996 to 1999 were still spent back in Worthing with my folks, usually feeling sexual frustration at being nowhere near any attractive young women (or indeed an Internet connection to tide me over, ahem!), and I also spent 1997 and 1999 recovering from Geology field trips.  1998 was an oddity, as I was in Michigan staying with my roommate’s family, and 1999 was, sadly, our first Christmas without my grandfather; as you know, I felt sad playing the copy of Thriller he’d bought me earlier in the month.

The following three Christmases and New Years occurred while I was living with my remaining folks in Worthing, trying to earn enough to do a postgrad course; it was difficult but I managed, buying presents for my mother and grandmother and receiving music CDs and comedy DVDs in return (since I now had a DVD player in my room!).  2001, when I bought myself a sound card (and actually wrapped it and put it under the tree!), was the only time I had to work between Christmas and New Year (thanks to actually having a job at the time), unless you count 2003 when I was home from university but my mother took me back to the place I’d worked with her earlier in the year for a few days’ extra salary.

(Fortunately, I never had to work the Christmas-to-New Year period while I was at Camden — even when they changed the rules so you’d have to if you weren’t quick enough booking leave — and my current workplace is closed from Christmas Eve until after the New Year!  Working in late December, ugh, who’d do that… well, paramedics, journalists, shopkeepers, police officers, power station engineers etc. etc., but APART from them?!)

By Christmas 2004 I was living in London, initially with postgrad coursemates and later with “good housemate” and a succession of “third housemates”.  I began to find Christmas at home with my folks a bit boring, especially with no PC of my own to use for games (and, ahem, Internet browsing), not to mention a wonky TV set for which I needed to bring my own digibox home to get any channels at all, and so from 2007 onwards began coming back to London after Christmas to celebrate the New Year with my friends.  The first was the best, as my friendship group included all three of my postgrad coursemates (and a couple of others), even if we missed the actual fireworks at midnight because we were running down Aldwych!

After visiting “other female best friend” in Leeds for 2009-10, I had two bad New Years in London (staying home in 2010 and going to an awful  “house party” in 2011), and so since then I’ve stayed with my folks in Worthing for both Christmas and New Year.  You’ve been with me for all of those; despite the lousy journeys down from London I had in 2012, 2013 and this year, I’ve had good Christmas breaks.  I’ve also likely been happier staying here with my mother and grandmother, playing games on the half-decent “Frankencomputer” I built here, than going back to London for New Year and probably having my drummer housemate drunkenly keeping me awake, not to mention being in a house where the heating works!

My poor grandmother’s been ill again this Christmas break, thanks to the cold I brought home (which unfortunately is still lingering and stopped me exercising), but for the first time in several years, my mother’s not been coughing through late December, and for that I am thankful.  As in 2012, we’ve been playing Wii games (this time it’s “best mate’s” copy of Wii Sports Resort), and as per every year, I’ve been wishing I wasn’t eating so much chocolate but enjoying it nonetheless, along with my grandmother’s cooking.

Unlike last Christmas, however, I’ve not spent this period fleeing from an intolerable situation, and am looking forward to going back to London tomorrow (not least so I can install The Witcher III!) and having “best mate” back from Ireland shortly after.  I won’t say I’m looking forward to going back to work on Monday, though: while I actually do like my current job and am thankful I can afford Christmas presents for my folks, I also like paid time off work — I’m not completely mad, you know…

(P.S. This post was originally much, much longer, as I went back through my diary and wrote down a lot more details — so be thankful it’s only this interminable!)