Category Archives: Darkness

Bad timing

I’m wondering if I should be going away on holiday on Wednesday for two weeks: my “drummer-trucker” housemate is moving out at the start of July, and off work for the intervening time.  I feel a certain paranoia that he’ll figure out I’m away on holiday (or find out from someone), and leave me a “parting gift”… and paranoid panic isn’t surprising today, after a visit to my folks in Worthing that I also wish I’d done another weekend instead…

It was my last chance to see my folks before my holiday in Michigan (and after their trip to the Canaries); although my mother and grandmother arranged for me to have some US dollars as spending money, the exchange rate at the moment is through the floor (about £1=$1.24, when it had been at least $1.50 or even $1.70 every other time!) — would it have been better to buy before the election, I wonder?  Hopefully it’ll recover a bit more once I’m over there, for the things I buy on my debit card — and yes, I’m grateful to my folks: while this isn’t the first time they’ve given me £100 towards a holiday, it’s the first holiday I’ll have taken since 2014, and I’ll need cash out there (especially at the airport).

Coming home this weekend was problematic due to the huge number of people who decided to flock from London at the same time as me, except in their case it was because of the heatwave; I’d wanted to draw a picture in my mother’s belated birthday card (I really should have done it the night before), but had to wait until I was home before I got enough space to indulge my creativity!  On top of that, crowding is still bringing out anxiety in me, and I’m increasingly sure that it’s stress and adrenaline that’s causing my dizzy spells. Let’s also mention the roadworks right outside the level crossing where I get off the train… the heatwave also meant I couldn’t sleep at my family home, as it meant having to leave my windows open and listen to the noise outside (drunk revellers and seagulls), which didn’t help my relaxation situation.

(And as though that wasn’t bad enough, the nice man who does my hair when I come down to Worthing wasn’t available this exact weekend, so I’ll have to get my locks shorn in Michigan, something I haven’t done since March 1999!)

However, the biggest mistake I made this weekend involved baggage for my holiday: not the mini-suitcase I’d borrowed from my folks previously, and somehow thought would be big enough for me (I only brought it down this evening, and saw it really is more like carry-on size), but the new backpack I got in Worthing, on a shopping trip with my mother.  At first I thought I’d made a mistake getting it, focusing too much on the front belts to hold the straps together (something my personal trainer had recommended) and not enough on the pockets.  I was relieved to find it has plenty of pockets inside… including a “secret” one under the top flap.

If I’d taken the time to get used to this bag first, I wouldn’t have put my phone in that special place… along with a USB thumbdrive and an SD card I’d brought home with me and was taking back to London.  Thing is, you see, if you don’t zip up the compartment, anything in there falls out when you close the bag… and not into the main body of the bag, but outside.  It wasn’t until I neared London and was putting my phone away that I realised I’d left it unzipped, and panicked as I searched the interior of the bag, and the interior of the train, for the things I’d dropped (nearly losing my US dollars in the process), though I quickly realised that, since I’d taken my phone out while on the station platform (to play Pokémon GO, of course), that would be when they’d fallen out…

I had to wait for my mother to finish in the gym back in Worthing before I could implore her to go and search for my dropped data devices on the platform.  The SD card had my Wii saved games on it, and wasn’t irreplaceable, but the USB thumbdrive contained my diary (the one I’ve been keeping since 1992) and a copy of my Outlook e-mails, amongst other things — in short, stuff I wouldn’t want the wrong person to get hold of.  I was sweating like crazy as I got back here, but fortunately Mumsy found the USB device at least, so no-one’s going to steal my identity or anything like that.  No sign of the SD card, but (a) I already knew I’d be breaking my unbroken run of nightly Wii Fit Plus measurements as of Wednesday, and (b) I can replay Dead Space: Extraction and catch up with where I was before, though it sucks having to do so.  Rescuing my private files was the important thing, and I’m grateful to my mother (and whatever gods heard my prayers) for helping me.

Still, it’s a bit late in the game to get such a harsh lesson on privacy and protecting one’s identity — take my advice and take good care of your devices!  Perhaps it’s better to send something to yourself via e-mail, or use an online backup service… and above all, change your passwords regularly (something I’ve been derelict in doing).  I have to hope my soon-departing housemate won’t try to hack into my computer while I’m abroad, looking through my files (and indeed, seeing what I’d said about him!), when I’ve just averted something similar…

It was extraordinarily bad timing that I chose a time of my life in which I’m experiencing massive amounts of stress, resulting in “brain fuzz”, to get so overwrought — but hey, I’ve needed this holiday for a long time, so maybe, just maybe, I can relax once I’m out there… as long as I don’t worry about what “drummer-trucker” is doing back here… oh damn!

Revenge of the oblivious bully

Okay, bad example: this bullying malchick knew exactly what he was doing, up to and including ultra-violence

Sorry folks, but it’s time for some darkness, though hopefully with a light at the end of the tunnel.  It does seem like something always has to be wrong in my life, and while my job is going great (for now!), my home life has just taken a turn for the worse, with no real prospect of it improving until the culprit does the decent thing and moves out.

Yes, it’s my former-drummer housemate again, the guy we pay all our bills to, and the guy who was a jerk to me just before Christmas 2013 (as you may remember), by coincidence around the time of another major storm here in England.  Our latest run-in happened in the kitchen as well, but he’d already been a douche to me this year, simply because I was trying to go into the bathroom when he was coming out (y’know, because I wanted to take a shower), and muttering something I didn’t quite catch when he finally let me in.  Like I said three years ago, I’m not obliged to “join in” with pranks like that: if he saw I was upset and carried on anyway, he’s practically a bully, and if he was genuinely trying to upset me rather than just have a (bad) joke, he’s definitely a bully!

And so to today, when I came home from a tough evening being tortured by my personal trainer, but couldn’t sit down and rest my legs on the Northern Line because it was crowded due to storm disruption (but don’t pity me, the lady next to me fainted and had to be taken off!).  Needing protein, I settled for oven burgers because my local Tesco had mysteriously emptied out the entire section where they stock the veggie burgers intended for a frying pan; as I came home, I began thinking back on how many times I came home to find the guy who used to live in the room beneath mine (where “best mate” lives now) making a huge meal for several of his college friends, when I was hoping to cook my own dinner, and how much it frustrated me when I couldn’t use the oven or hobs…

Which is where it all went wrong: someone had a pie in the oven, and I moved it down so I could fit my burgers in.  I knew deep down it would be him, and that there was no point asking him how long his food would take so I could wait for him to be finished, because he always behaves like a total see-you-next-Tuesday when I ask him a perfectly reasonable question (one time he just took his food out of the oven and flounced off, even though I was happy to wait on that occasion, as I was going to use the grill!).

When he finally came downstairs to check on his food, he told me off for making it take longer for him by putting it low down, and then took my burgers out of the oven to put his pie at the top; he then stood in front of the oven and wouldn’t let me put my food back in, even though I said I would put them on the lower shelf, until he’d had his fun and finally relented.  And just to make matters worse, he said he’d wait 20 minutes for his pie to be done, and tried to get me to leave the kitchen, even though my burgers were a few minutes from being ready — and so he just stood there like a weirdo, trying to psyche me out…

I’m so glad “best mate” was home early (from yet another construction job in Scotland), as he distracted the guy with conversation while I finished up and got the hell out of there.  He never sees the way the guy treats me, and while it’s not his place to play psychologist or mediator, it still sucks that he likes the guy and gets on with him… and while it could be argued that I should have moved the pie up instead of down (to be fair, it was in the middle to start with), why not be sensible about it?  Why behave like he was getting karmic revenge for some kind of deliberate slight?

This former-drummer housemate is the only person who was here in this house when I first moved in, five years ago; fortunately, now that he’s left music behind and will be working as a trucker, he’s planning to move into his own flat — and this is what keeps me going: the thought that he won’t always be here, and that once he gets a job, he’ll be gone.  I’m quite clear that I never want to see him again, because even when he’s being seemingly amiable towards me, it feels like he’s laughing behind a mask, and truly has no respect for me at all — that’s why perhaps I didn’t handle my side of this evening’s dispute as diplomatically as I could have, because it felt like he was just sneering rather than having a valid complaint.

So, no love lost between us — but I hope to be the better man, by simply ignoring him, and avoiding all contact (except where unavoidable, such as paying bills) until he moves out.  I’m sure that’ll be a sweet day: I still remember the final departure of “bad housemate” at Caledonian Road, and how it felt like a physical separation of life paths, and how little I think of that guy any more (or, for that matter, the annoying woman at Camden, someone incredibly oblivious to how vexing she was).  I don’t want him to get run over or arrested, I just want him out of my life completely.

However, paranoid though I am, it feels like he’ll try to get “revenge” on me in the meantime (you know, for fun), maybe by taking my food out of the oven when I’m cooking (hey, maybe he’ll spit on it too?) — or even by tricking me into eating meat (since he once said he’d “cure” me of my vegetarianism), though admittedly that’s something I’ve been worried about him doing for years.  He already rattles the toilet door handle any time I happen to be in there when he wants to go in, as though I’ve personally annoyed him and deliberately chose to get in his way.

I’ll try to keep calm, but I can’t shake the feeling this is going to get worse before it gets better… maybe I’m not paranoid enough?

Gotta have faith (with apologies to the late George Michael)

lonely_shinjiIn the middle of this dismal, cold, dark winter, I have to keep up my confidence and have faith that things will get better — in my own life as well as in the world.

However, I think I’ve figured out the real difference between depression and anxiety: one is the fear that things will never get any better, while the other is the fear that things will get a lot worse — and even though I’m not as badly off as I was in late 2014 (when I was afraid I’d never get another job, and feared I’d end up having to leave London and my fledgling IT career entirely), I still know how much it sucks to have both at the same time…

Don’t worry, it’s not another “girl troubles” post — I know I still get depressed that I’ll “never” find that special someone, but I try to keep the faith alive; no, it’s anxiety I’m on about tonight.  I need to remain confident that I’ll keep my current job, and not let myself believe that I’ve totally screwed myself, a year after nearly losing everything while I was on probation.  I know I’m a permanent employee now, and thus it’d be a lot harder for them to get rid of me than simply saying “yer fired” (unless I made a server explode or insulted the chief exec’s dog); the staff (mostly) like me, and frankly I’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty for the organisation a couple of times — both the overtime I did in December when they needed help restoring the website… and yesterday, 9th January 2017, the day of a dreadful Tube strike in London.


Imagine there were lots of choppers going out of Saigon, but they’d all filled up with passengers before they got anywhere near you, and sometimes turfed everyone off for no apparent reason… or don’t

Ironically, my faith was nearly my downfall there: I was naively confident that, like on previous occasions (especially in 2014), the Northern Line would be the only one running; thus I agreed to come into work, so we’d have “boots on the ground” while the senior members of the team remoted in from home.  In fact, my Tube line was just as closed as the others, except the bits at the ends (why?!  What’s the use of being able to head away from central London?!), and I had a hell of a time getting in when my bus terminated at Swiss Cottage (I walked through Regent’s Park).  It also took me hours to get home again; luckily a bus that starts at the bottom of Tottenham Court Road goes to North Finchley, and so I was able to get on, but others weren’t so lucky (I saw a lot of packed buses going past without stopping).

Today it seems I also made the mistake of having too much faith in others who just let us down: my boss (or should I call her “boss lady”?) told me off for not having chased up the private company that maintains our printers.  We have regional offices in the other three countries of the Four Kingdoms, and the staff in Scotland were having trouble yesterday with their local printer; I’d called the company and asked them to send an engineer to that office as soon as possible, but today, distracted by a more immediate problem with our remote software (coincidentally also to do with printing), I’d wrongly assumed I’d simply get notified about the guy arriving and fixing the problem, as has happened several times before.


At least R. Lee Ermey telling me off, drill-sergeant style, would make me laugh more than cringe

Oh no, sir: the staff in the regional office had actually complained to “boss lady” about no-one having turned up all morning, and she told me I should have been on the company’s case about this visit, as though my oversight had let people down and clearly I couldn’t be trusted.  It brought back bad memories of her telling me off in the early days of my job — especially the horrors of 15th January 2016, when I felt like my whole IT career was hanging by a thread…

However, I suppose I should be confident that she was simply in a bad mood, partly due to her daughter taking exams and partly because she hates receiving complaints, and that she was taking it out on me (not to mention the company themselves) rather than me having done anything especially wrong.  This seems likely, as I felt it was a little petty and unreasonable for her to have a go at me for the failure of a separate organisation, as though I was too trusting and not cynical enough about a routine thing.

(Not unlike the time my grandmother told me off for not having checked I’d put the phone down properly after talking to my mother, when she discovered it had been slightly off the hook and thus blocking calls… if I’d checked by picking it up again, wouldn’t I have been equally in danger of not putting it down properly again?!)

To make matters worse, I’m worried that I didn’t do enough yesterday to make sure it wasn’t a network problem in the regional office, having put too much faith in my contact there having checked with their building services.  The engineer did some testing today (with my assistance), and it seems that the connection for the printer is faulty, not the printer itself.  I had to leave the issue with one of the veterans in my team when I left to come home, and I’m anxious that it’ll come back and bite me tomorrow… I may need some St. John’s wort to keep my chin up!

No, I won’t allow pessimistic feelings — I’ve gotta have faith that I’ll make it in this game, and that the good things I’ve done in my job, and the massive effort I’ve put in, will outweigh any little mistakes I’ve made!  I guess you could say I need more faith in myself, and more cynicism towards others…

— — —

On that topic, I’ve no faith whatsoever that my country’s government is trying to help anyone except themselves and their business cronies, and am highly anxious about how “democracy” is going to fare under the Trump-May Axis of Evil… but I’ll post about that another time.

Assuming, of course, that I don’t get warned away from saying such things on the grounds that if they sue me, I’ll have to pay their court costs even if I win

2017 starts… ambivalently

ss_ffI’ve got good news, after a long period of keeping on keeping on: they’re increasing my pay at work — and not just by a “cost of living” increase, but by a couple of thousand a year, backdated to October!

It seems the recent reappraisal of pay rates at my employer has worked in my favour, and now I’ll be on £26k p.a. instead of less than £23k (with all the same benefits as before — for one thing, they’re paying for my new glasses!).  My boss was in my corner for this process, and naturally I’ll be eternally grateful to her — not just for the added moolah, but also for not firing me last January!

Obviously I’ll wait until I see it in my bank account before I get complacent, but the backdated pay (along with the money I’m owed for my December overtime) will mean I can buy myself a new 1440p monitor, and give (not sell!) my old one to my mother; the overall increase means I’ll no longer feel like I have to space out paying for my personal training sessions, or somehow give it up entirely and exercise on my own initiative (what a ludicrous notion!).  I’ll even be able to save up for a proper holiday, perhaps even outside Europe…

Of course, this leads to a certain compulsion: I feel I must defy the Tube strike on Monday in order to journey to central London for my job, instead of taking the day off.  I wouldn’t say the place would fall apart without me for just a day*, but I reckon anyone who can be there ought to at least try, just to keep things running — especially Citrix, as a lot of people will undoubtedly be working from home!

(* Obviously I know my own worth, but it needs to be said that some staff members are a lot happier when I’m in the building — presumably because I deal with all the little problems, while my teammates work on the bigger projects)

beavis_christmas_carolOn the other hand, I’m still not having any success finding a woman: I’ve just had two dates on consecutive days, and both have been one-offs that have not led to anything more.  As far as I’ve advanced emotionally over the years I’ve been writing this blog, I still feel down when this happens — indeed, even more as the big four-oh approaches in the autumn, and I wonder if I should even bother trying after that point (since I’m so shallow that I won’t ever be happy “settling” for an older woman, except maybe Courtney Cox in Cougar Town).  After all, it’s not just women who face ageism in the dating game… maybe I should use some of my newfound wealth to see my dating coach again, for the first time in three years?

Mind you, my gloom is nothing compared to that of “best mate”, whose car (to which we always refer as a name similar to “Batmobile”) conked out while he was on the M6, driving back after visiting his family in Ireland over Christmas.  He’s in a bad way now, as not only was the journey back to London horrendous (he nearly needed a third tow truck to get his car all the way!), but there’s every possibility he’ll need to buy a new vee-hickle, and while he can afford to do that, it’d cut into the money he’s saving to become a homeowner.

(Maybe I shouldn’t tell him I dreamed last night that we’d been driving up a hill when he’d hit-and-run a pedestrian, and I had to convince him to turn around and go back…)

Even if he does pay for a new car, he still might end up getting his own place sooner than I thought (with family help), which would leave us with the prospect of needing to find TWO new housemates this year, neither for desireable rooms (his is always cold, while the former drummer’s is a box room).  It’d be like late 2011 to early 2012 again, as I might have to find somewhere else entirely to live — and I doubt somewhere even further away from the centre would be cheaper, or even warmer!

And, just to rub salt into the wound, he’s considering Greenford — a miserable dump that I would call “a wide spot on the Central Line” (easily the worst Tube line, except maybe for the Bakerloo) after personally experiencing it in September and October 2014, as you guys may remember ($DEITY knows, I’ve tried to forget!).  Am I going to lose touch with him, like I lost touch with “good housemate” (who I’ve barely spoken to in years)?  At best, will it be like when he lived in Willesden and had to drive over here when we went to the cinema or otherwise hung out?

Remember in 2012 when I posted about “potholes on the road to happiness”?

Never mind 2015 or 2016, this really seems to be the long-awaited rerun of 2012: I’m getting mo’ money at work (albeit this time permanently, instead of for helping to cover maternity leave), but potentially losing a close friend from my household and facing upheaval.  Believe it or not, it happened in 2007 as well: I went up in the world (from Scale 2 to Scale 4 during one of Camden’s endless reorganisations), but it was a bitter consolation after “female best friend” moved out, having never really settled into that pad on Caledonian Road.  At least she stayed local until she went to Sheffield in late 2008… but it was hard to get to see her after that, and of course then she met her future husband, and I felt like there was no place for me in her life any more…

(And worst of all, we never got to watch the second season of Space Battleship Yamato together!)

Am I now discovering a five-year, or even ten-year cycle in my life (major life changes), to go with the four-year (specific events) and three-year (emotional states) cycles I noticed before?  Or am I just down because it’s a dismal, cold January, and that’s getting everyone else down as well?  Will this be “my” year, or is the money just a consolation before I get fired?  Will I go through the worst “girl troubles” of all time, the final end of my futile efforts to get laid, or will I have another chance with an American girl (like the one I never even met face-to-face in mid-2012), and this time actually get it right because of all the confidence (and muscles) I’ve built up?

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t do these “then and now” attempts to figure out mystical cycles any more, but hey, it gives me something to post about here, doesn’t it…

Into darkness?


At least watching Futurama on the Tube cheers me up

It’s a week after America smashed all expectations and elected an idiot to the White House who wasn’t related to a previous idiot, and who is such an idiot that he needs the help of his charismatic predecessor to figure out what he’s actually supposed to do.  Racist and homophobic attacks are up, just like they were here after the Brexit vote, and the other side appear to be no better, rioting as they apparently are.

On this side of the Atlantic, things aren’t much better: claims by our own incoming leader May (certainly not PM elect, though) that she’d support hard-working people and the disabled turn out to have been an outright lie, as working families will now get less help, apparently their own fault for having chosen to have kids without being rich enough to weather a recession, and disabled people will still have to prove they’re still disabled regularly (even if they have terminal conditions), and will lose everything if they make the slightest mistake (almost as though the bureaucrats are waiting for any excuse).

And meanwhile, in my own life, just when everything seemed to be going okay, and even my boss reckons I’m doing fine in my job (on the grounds that if I did something wrong, she wouldn’t wait for our annual meeting to let me know about it), along comes my landlady to hike up our rent 10%, with no guarantee that she won’t do the same thing next year, “depending on the market”; in other words, she’s doing it because she can, not because it somehow became 10% more expensive to be our landlady.  So that’ll be an extra £50 per month for nothing whatsoever… so much for my efforts to save!

I can’t ask my folks back in Worthing for any significant help, because my mother’s had to stop working in order to care for my ailing grandmother full-time — and I can’t move them up here to Greater London in order to rescue them from that dismal place, so if something goes wrong here, I’ll end up having to go back there, probably forever (I’ve decided that if I ever have to move away from London, I will never return, not even for a visit).  And if the reason I have to go back home is that my fortunes have faltered, or I’m injured, the government won’t help me — indeed, it feels like they’ll actively work against me to drive me further down.

And to make matters worse, healthwise I’m not doing so good: the ankle I rolled on nearly four years ago is hurting badly again (apparently because I had the temerity to jog barefoot on my own bedroom floor), I’m bunged up with seasonal mucus (with perhaps a cold coming on), and I’m finding it hard to get far below 13st. weight, thanks to the twin evils of chocolate and pizza.  My left wrist has also been hurting lately (no, wash your minds out, it’s due to leaning it on my desk while wearing a Fitbit), all my other joints protest regularly (especially my hips).

And it’s getting cold again, after a mild few days, so I can look forward to coming home to find my room is 14°C (that’s below 60°F, for our American viewers), so I’ll have to use my electric heater to make it even remotely habitable.  And it’s dark in the evenings, and getting dark in the mornings again.

(And I won’t even start on my lack of a girlfriend, less than a year before the big four-oh…)

Last time you’ll remember I went on at length about my PC; I know it’s the geek equivalent of souping up a car, but I like to think it’s marked my gradual improvement over the years, while maintaining the same essential core — I could have replaced everything including the motherboard at great expense, but instead I’ve saved money through piecemeal upgrades.  However, much like my life seemed to be going right but is now facing problems, this contraption’s having all sorts of issues now — and apparently they began back in July.  Why is The Witcher III crashing when I’m so close to the end of this epic?  What causes wmipvrse.exe to crash at startup, but only some of the time, and with no useful error message?  Is it the same thing that causes Word 2013 to crash in the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 at work, but only when Group Policy updates, and then only some of the time?  That’s a problem I’m supposed to resolve, for three people (four counting a senior member of staff), but I feel like I’m letting the side down, as nothing I’ve tried has worked so far.

But I’m not gonna let all this get me down: if necessary I’ll take St. John’s wort, or even go to counselling again, but I won’t give up on the life I’ve built.  I won’t let my government make me feel like I need to hurry up and fail; instead, I’ll work hard at my job, and hold on tight until April, when I should be getting a small pay rise that ought to cover my landlady’s increase.  I am, after all, lucky that she didn’t impose that increase last year (or worse, two years ago when I was unemployed — then I’d have told London to go f*** itself, and gone back to Worthing without hesitation!), and to her credit, she took British Gas to task for their incompetence in fixing our heating and hot water.

And as per my boss’s advice, I’ll stop worrying so much about my weight — maybe I place too much stock in what Wii Fit Plus tells me to do, and maybe I’m fine as I am (as long as I don’t go completely nuts, of course).  Naturally I want to continue seeing my personal trainer, but this might be tricky in the current climate; I’ll just have to be firm and tell him I’m cutting back a little more, but certainly not stopping entirely — it’s always possible I’ll be earning more than I think in 2017, much as happened in 2012 (and enabled me to pay for that life-changing holiday in America), and that I’ll finally be able to sort out a house to live in, escaping rent forever.

I went through bad depression at the end of 2011, as I’m sure you’re tired of reminding me, but after that my life was better and more hopeful.  I note I’ve started doing something I used to do when I first moved to Finchley, in the dark months of 2012: as the Northern Line emerges from the tunnel south of East Finchley, I see street lights twinkle into view as the trees thin out, and then the white glow of The Old White Lion, a comforting light in the darkness, and a sign that my journey’s nearly over.  This kept me going as I put my head together back then, and it’s helping me now to combat the darkness within.

As $DEITY is my witness, I WILL NOT GIVE UP this close to what might potentially be the best time of my life — no matter what happens!

This sucks

lonely_shinjiI thought I’d have good news for you next time I wrote in this blog, and indeed that I’d be able to start bringing this blog to a close, as I’d have finally conquered depression once and for all, by the simple expedient of getting a long-term girlfriend, or at least some action, and thus proving to myself that failure isn’t the only option.

But no, my journey’s not over yet: although I had two lovely dates with a really sweet twentysomething, who actually described me at one point as “too good to be true”, and was even going to take me to the cinema tonight (hey, girl power, right?), it all went wrong when I kissed her passionately… because she’s realised she doesn’t feel “that way” about me and only wants to be friends, despite how enthusiastic she was before.

This is one of the worst quasi-breakups I’ve been through, because I didn’t feel at any stage that I was “settling” for her (like a similar situation in 2014 when I actually cheered upon receiving the breakup text), and actually genuinely liked her and found her attractive.  Okay, she wasn’t a slender, blonde American, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the course of my search, it’s that I like all manner of hair colours, body types and ethnicities/nationalities, and even girls with glasses!

(About the only thing I can’t stand is facial piercing… hmm, I should invest in stainless steel before saying that, I expect sales to go up!)

I’ve learned something else, and that’s that blokes still treat me like their kid brother: a married man at work, an amiable “Lahndanner” in my team, felt the need to advise me on the whole matter, about getting back on the horse and putting my face out there, etc. etc.  As you know, I tolerate this for the sake of the advice-giver, because he needs to feel like he’s making a difference — but I still think that we, as a society, need to stop trying to cajole people out of depression and either help them (with genuine comfort) or just step back and let them ride it out.

Yes, ride it out — I’ve been going through this stuff too much to truly believe I’ll always feel so desolate or make drastic plans (unlike in 2011), and while Monday night was almost sleepless and full of cursing, by now, Wednesday evening, I’m over her — albeit fed up and in no rush to try again (especially with women who don’t initiate any conversation and have to have everything dragged out of them).  I know I’m not bipolar, I just react to negative events with negative emotions; oh no, does that make me… normal?!

It’s been hard to draw something positive from this experience, as even the girl telling me she thought I was handsome (no-one younger than me has ever called me that before) has to be suspect if a kiss could cool her ardour towards me.  I don’t think she was consciously leading me on: I think she was lying to herself, trying to convince herself that she liked me “that way”, because she was impressed by my devotion to improving my health and career chances, and intellectually considered me the kind of “catch” she was supposed to want.  If so, better to end it sooner rather than later, as even I know romance can’t be based upon a lie.

(Unless it’s me lying about my age, of course…)

Being dumped after two dates by someone I actually liked certainly sucks, but it doesn’t help that three other things, all related to the word “cold” (making it worse than another early entry in this blog), are making my life suck even more at the moment, with no prospect of a quick resolution:

  • got_wicIt’s cold, winter is coomin’, yeah, we know — and no sign of an Indian summer;
  • British Gas (named and shamed) still haven’t fixed our hot water after five visits, and the heating doesn’t work at all (lucky I kept that electric oil heater);
  • I’m (wait for it) coming down with a cold, already in the runny nose stage, though fortunately I don’t have to let the blood donor people know, and the donation I made last week doesn’t have to go to waste.

These things in isolation would be annoying enough, but everything happening together is making me unhappy… but I don’t think turning 39 at the weekend will make anything worse, as after all, it’s just a number — and if I can still somehow get dates with twentysomethings (instead of having to settle for women older than I feel), I still have hope of finding someone a while longer.

Plus, I’ll be going to Worthing for my birthday: a chance to see my folks, pick up Doom, and relax in anticipation of another week off work (to be mainly spent playing Doom)…

Too much stress

beavbuttpcI know I complain about people who tell depressed or anxious people off on the basis that “other people have it worse”: as so many Internet commentators have pointed out, you don’t tell people off for being happy on the grounds that other people have better lives than them!  However, the stress I’m going through at work, while troubling, isn’t as bad as that endured by my best friend right now…

My main mission at work at the moment is something I won’t do to any computers owned by me or my family: upgrading PCs to Windows 10, the OS that’s only “free” for existing Windows owners until the end of July, and for as long as Microsoft don’t decide to charge subscription for it.  I’ve got the process down to a fine art, but I’ve had to stay late a couple of times this week to perform the upgrade on behalf of that particular kind of selfish office worker who doesn’t have the decency to book any leave during June, meaning the only time I can perform the upgrade is after they go home.

On its own this wouldn’t be a problem, but combine it with my normal day job, which involves people calling out to me as I move around the building — either because they trust me to solve their problems (it’s a hard life being the “face” of the IT team), or because they’ve still got a problem that I’ve not successfully resolved before (like the boss lady whose Outlook keeps crashing, or the boss guy whose laptop keeps freezing).  Add the near-constant phone calls from home workers using Citrix, or teams in the building trying to help (shudder) members of the public, and you may just have an inkling of why I need to go outside and get some fresh air at lunchtime, and can’t just relax at my desk reading Stephen King.

(Oh, and our choice of equipment is the main reason I urged my mother not to upgrade her tablet computer to a Microsoft Surface — no way I’m supporting one of those outside work, especially for free!)

It got to the stage today that I was dreading anyone speaking to me, as somehow I feared they’d be heaping yet another problem on my shoulders; I even found myself worrying that the bloke next to me would bark my name at me again (in a demanding rather than questioning manner, as is his wont), to chase up the problems he reported with delegating tasks in Outlook 2013 that I can’t resolve (one is a known bug Microsoft are “working on”, the other is just how it works), and I’d end up snapping at him.  I just have to hope and pray that I don’t get warned about my attitude again, like earlier this year

However, this is nothing, nothing, compared to what “best mate” has been going through, and is still going through today, in his own job — the reason he continually advises me to “never work in construction”.  He works for one of his brothers, who, apparently never having heard the term “work-life balance”, is constantly sending him to far-flung places around the country (the UK as a whole, not just England in particular) for high-paid but long-hours work for obnoxious clients, often without any breaks, and it’s destroying his social life and leaving him increasingly tired and fed up.

For instance, he’d just finished working in Wales (at least the weather was nice out there this week), at 7pm on Tuesday, and got back to London just before midnight, exhausted and frustrated (and in dire need of a shower); he was required to go to a training course in Kent on Wednesday morning (a journey of about 50 miles), and from there proceed to Luton airport (a good 80 miles back again in the other direction, on the other side of the Home Counties) for a flight to his next days-long job all the way up in Scotland, for which he’d have to arrange his own accommodation.

All this is why he now wants to leave this country… not to return to Ireland, of course ($DEITY forbid!), but he’s certainly pondering staying in Japan when he goes there for a holiday later this year.  Construction pays well, but it is, by its nature, a temporary job in each area (often to a tight schedule), as every building is eventually finished.  I keep urging him to take a sabbatical (he’s got considerable savings and could still make rent for a fair while), and study or train for a career change, but he’s adamant that he couldn’t survive on admin wages, and he can’t think of anything else he could do instead that wouldn’t leave him destitute.

(Maybe he could work in railway maintenance?  They could certainly do with someone competent and hard-working… as in, one actual person anywhere in the entire line-suspending train-cancelling delay-causing industry…)

So you see, as anxious and frustrated as I am at work, I appreciate that at least I can go home at 5pm (well, except today and yesterday), or head out to an evening event, and not have to worry — and not be guilt-tripped by a relative into giving up my life for an unrewarding career that makes me miserable and robs me of my life.  I can also help out “best mate” by supporting him through this difficult time: he’s promised to buy me a Nando’s meal if I do some washing for him before he gets back tomorrow.

Ooh, that reminds me…!


At least my boss is on my side, and lets me go outside at lunchtimes; this means I’m able to visit the charity shops, and I think I’ve gained a metal fandom to rival my love of Gwar: Iron Maiden!  Maybe I’ll buy more of their CDs from Amazon (though considering what happened to Prince when I collected his music, I hope Bruce Dickinson’s all right!), but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with an example of their awesomeness… much like the music of our favourite Scumdogs, I find it relaxing and stress-relieving!