Category Archives: Darkness

Belligerent socialising

Maybe it’s the anti-epilepsy medication I’m on, but I’ve found myself to be rather more talkative at work than before — chatty, humorous (without being offensive), and supportive to my “flock”.  However, today I’ve had an experience that makes me feel like I need to tone it down, as I really didn’t enjoy the presence of an extrovert at a social event… though doubtless it’s all my fault somehow, as it usually is.

(Ah, there’s the mood swing my medication warned me about — at least it took over a week!)

My Polish friend (who, considering we haven’t kissed beyond polite cheek pecks, probably isn’t my girlfriend and is more like a “friend who is a girl”) invited me today to an event, at a famous vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the Regent Street area, for a meetup group concerning animal welfare.  I was feeling exhausted after yesterday (my first personal training session in over a month), not to mention lethargic from a combination of the aforementioned medication and January being the most dismal month of the year, but still wanted to go and keep her company (since she was the one who asked), and so set off for the city centre to meet her.  So far, so good.

However, it seems I still don’t like forced socialising, as although I can talk to unfamiliar people in a small group, gradually getting to know them, I still can’t stand it when someone — almost always a bloke with a loud voice — barges into the group, acting like he’s doing us a favour, and droning on and on and on in a manner that suggests he thinks he’s a skilled orator… I felt a little shame for loathing the presence of this guy, but felt like I was trapped: my female friend was staying put (and even joining in the conversation), and I didn’t think I could just walk away from her, and I also worried that simply leaving to talk to someone else would be considered rude.

(I’d already lost my opportunity to go talk to a cute Far Eastern girl with pink hair, who was talking to some other bloke, and is probably engaged by now… yes, that’s the mood swing again!)

Things like this have happened before, including at Japanese meetup events (which is why I can’t bring myself to go to them any more, despite still being interested in the language and the people — plus I hate loud, crowded places).  One time in 2012, I was sitting alone when I suddenly found myself surrounded by white English blokes, with Japanese girlfriends, who were all acting friendly in the sense that there was no possible way I could be uncomfortable with them intruding like that.  I didn’t enjoy their company one bit, and excused myself to buy a drink.  I nearly walked out entirely, but with a cider in hand, I managed to get together with a group of Japanese girls for conversation.  Not with the intention of pulling one of them (well, not the sole intention), but because they were (a) actually Japanese (the whole point of the event), and (b) female (whose company I find much less intimidating than male)!

I suppose I haven’t changed much over the past few years: if anything, I enjoy socialising even less than I did when I worked in that dead-end admin job up to 2014, when at least meetup events (and especially events) meant a change from my dull working environment.  Now, after spending my entire week helping familiar people, and trying to be funny, I find I want nothing more than to relax at home afterwards, even at the weekend.  In fact, I’d love it if I never had to socialise again — but there’s no other way I’m ever likely to find the girl of my dreams, so I feel obliged to keep going to social events, no matter how uncomfortable I am.

Indeed, socialising is considered an obligation for human beings, and even my own mother has told me off for not wanting to enthusiastically shake hands with strangers in social settings, or to let random blokes strike up conversations with me when I’m at singles events.  That’s the thing: I still don’t want to make new male friends just for the sake of it, and new male friends happen more by chance than anything (“best mate”, my personal trainer, my yoga teacher etc.).  It’s simple: although a few blokes turn out, astonishingly, to be worthy of my friendship, most men in the world hold zero interest for me, because I’ve never wanted to be “one of the lads” or have “drinking buddies”, or watch sportsball with other blokes.

To balance, though, there are times guys have approached me and we’ve got talking (like an occasion back in 2013 you may remember, though I never really saw that group again) — it all depends on the energy.  I’m happy to make new acquaintances, for example, when I go climbing at the Castle, and I say hi to blokes I’m familiar with when I see them at the Session (one looks like my old school friend in the 1990s, another resembles the actor Kevin Eldon).  It’s when I’m at a social event and someone with a large, overbearing personality forces me to interact with them that I get up-tight and withdrawn.  Maybe they’re an introvert like me, trying to make a new friend but misjudging their approach, and if they see they’re intimidating and dial it back a bit, fair enough — that’s something I can empathise with.  But it’s the extroverts I want to avoid, because they don’t even have a dial to turn back: they’re incessantly, belligerently sociable, and act like the only reason you’re not fawning over them is that they haven’t been loud and cheerful enough yet.

(Hence the problem I had with a certain work colleague many years ago…)

It’s not just me who has social interaction issues, though: I remember a time a couple of years ago when I was attending a dating guidance event led by (just to name her for once) Hayley Quinn; I was watching other people’s interactions, keeping myself to myself and woolgathering, when suddenly the bloke sitting next to me — who I wasn’t even looking at, and who could only see the back of my head — suddenly all but shouted a “sociable” question, almost right in my ear!  That’s right, he didn’t even tap me on the shoulder (or otherwise attract my attention) and introduce himself, he just blurted it out, and boy, that really ground my gears, making me want to interact with him as little as possible.

Today: everyone in the entire human race!

Back to the incident at today’s event: although she was happy to leave with me when she saw I was uncomfortable, my Polish friend seemed to think I was in the wrong, and that if I didn’t like the loudmouth, I should have just walked away from the group and spoken to someone else — but like I said above, I felt like I had a Hobson’s choice, and would be in the wrong simply for not liking the guy from the get-go (since he wasn’t rude or violent), whether I clammed up, walked away or told him to turn it down.  As though you should like anyone who is polite, no matter how much they grate on your nerves!

However, the fact that I’m talking so much at work at the moment — being political, making smart-alec comments like I’m performing to a crowd and so on — makes me wonder if I need to dial things back as well, and resist becoming an “extroverted introvert”.  I especially worry that the nice female team member who sits opposite me at work (who’s a lot quieter and more demure than the blokes, and thus far more pleasant for me to interact with) is getting fed up with my constant quasi-standup comedy routines, and references to old TV shows, songs etc. that were big before she was even born.

Maybe I need to settle down and be more sensible — or at least more willing to ask people questions (and actually listen to the answers) than drone on about my experiences and opinions like some kind of rambling old-timer.  Despite my introvercy (or maybe because of it?), it’s easy for me to talk a great deal when I’m around familiar people, but I don’t want to annoy them the way extroverts annoy me at social events, as nobody likes a hypocrite.  I may even need to rant my heart out in a blog post here, just to get it out of my system, so I don’t go on and on at people I actually like.

Of course, this could all just be part of the aforementioned mood swing, bordering on outright depression (I’ve certainly felt like having a damn good cry this evening), caused by one of the medications I’ve been prescribed for my medical condition — I’ve certainly felt better after coming home and having dinner (and talking to my housemates).  That’s not the only reason I wish the quacks would let me come off clobazam, though: amongst other things, it makes it harder to… shall we say… shed excess mass?  It’s not just Easter eggs in the shops that are causing me to gain weight…

— — —

P.S. My Polish friend texted me while I was writing this, and she still wants to hang out with me and have me over for vegan pizza (even if she uses “Netflix and chill” in a more literal context than sex maniacs do), so at least I haven’t blown our friendship entirely by being antisocial to strangers…


It’s all happening again

Is the Faceman failing again?

Every time I feel confident that my life’s getting better, it seems something goes horribly wrong — or rather, several things at once, just as I’m approaching my second anniversary in the job I supposedly love.

I’m still getting headaches, and while the dizzy spells have largely (but by no means entirely) retreated, I’m still worried about my health — for example, the fact that for no apparent reason I can wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep.  This happened last night, and I felt a great depression come over me, almost wanting to give up on London entirely and go back to live in Worthing (yikes!).  This was at least partly thanks to taking ibuprofen to combat the pain, and as you will remember, I’ve experienced this before, and know not to do anything “drastic” (aside from cursing), because the feeling will pass.

I still felt miserable when I managed to drag myself to work, having made several mistakes this week, and feeling like I was letting down senpai (the guy I look up to, for those of you who Nihongo o hanasenai).  I was genuinely unhappy in the office, rather than my usual helpful, chipper self, and at one point experienced nostalgia by sitting alone in a small room, almost crying.  However, that turned out to be cathartic (as in the subtitle of this blog), and from that point on I actually felt a lot more cheerful, and found myself more than willing to help people…

Right up to the point that “boss lady” took me into a side office for a talking-to, just like in mid-January 2016.

Yes, folks, it seems I’ve had complaints all over again, and have one more chance to sort things out — the difference from a year and a half ago being that this time I’m permanent staff, rather than an ex-temp now going through six-month probation, and feel like I’ve earned my job and so shouldn’t be on a knife-edge.  It doesn’t feel any less dangerous, even though they’d have a harder time getting rid of me entirely now than they would have done back then.  I guess I should have realised that she wasn’t just trying to keep me on the straight and narrow before, she was genuinely unhappy with my behaviour, and it’s all come to a head now.

Needless to say, this has increased my stress levels again, and brought back anxiety to accompany my depression — as you would imagine, anxiety and depression together make a horrible mixture.  Thus, the stress I’ve been under, and the headaches and dizzy spells as side effects, has created a whole new reason to be stressed — but I daren’t take any more ibuprofen to combat the headaches, as it definitely brings my mood down and thus makes it harder for me to interact cheerfully with the users, thus exacerbating the problem.

Unfortunately she was unsympathetic to my situation, saying that I need to either manage this stress and remain perfectly polite to the users, or find a whole new line of work… it’s like it doesn’t matter how much good work I’ve done, or that she hasn’t had to talk to me like this for eighteen months, a couple of mistakes can bring everything down!

It sucks being back in this situation, but two things keep me going.  Firstly, I got through this back in 2016, and recognise that it’s only since I came back from holiday that these things have been happening all over again; it’s a difficult spiral to break out of, but if I can conquer my resurgent depression and/or anxiety, or at least make sure to get a good night’s sleep, I’ll be better able to interact with others.  Secondly, senpai is largely on my side here, and thinks that “boss lady” was out of line threatening me with “disciplinary procedures”, because although he knew I still had problems sometimes, we’re better off correcting each other as-and-when, instead of amassing evidence like this… and in any case, he agreed that she was unreasonable taking me to task over bantering with the bloke at reception via phone!

(Not to mention, she believed a lady upstairs who claimed I’d told her to “go away” and held up my hand, when this was blatant exaggeration — I’d just said I was very busy, and if anything had an anxiety attack, as she’d hemmed me in at my desk!)

Furthermore, although “boss lady” wants me to ask my team for help more readily, rather than rushing off trying to help users myself and making us all look “incompetent” by not knowing things (like the fact that one team had bought their own iPads while I was away), senpai reckons I’m not being supported properly by one particular member of our team, a gent he’s very annoyed with at the moment for palming off jobs to others, and making system changes without telling the rest of us.  Sad thing is, I like that guy too, and at least some of the time find him useful and helpful, but I’ve been told that “boss lady” likes him a bit too much, and refuses to see his flaws… damn, what do I have to do to get that kind of quasi-nepotism?!

I just have to hope I can cope with feeling this way all over again, and that I can keep my head together (despite the occasional dizzy spells) and win back the users I’ve offended, at least to “boss lady’s” approval.  I guess I should never imagine I’ve won her over again, and always keep one eye on her.  2017 comes three years after 2014 and 2011, both years in which I suffered during the autumn and winter months and, at times, wished it would all end; I don’t want that three-year cycle to be repeated, or for my 40th birthday to signal the start of bad times, like my 34th and 37th (and, to some extent, my 31st).

On that basis, only if I’m still in my job and earning the UK average wage by my birthday in October, will I even think of building a better PC!

— — —

P.S. I know many think of it as quackery, but my old yoga teacher (back in the country briefly) is planning to give me an acupuncture session, as he’s good at curing stress headaches — so, if I can make it to the weekend…

P.P.S. Maybe, just maybe, I should let my “second family” in Michigan sponsor me for a green card after all, even if the USA is an increasingly right-wing country these days!

When you can’t help your friends

I’ve always wanted to be heroic, so it’s got me down that two of my closest friends are suffering at the moment, and I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to help them beyond maintaining the friendship and listening to their woes — and I’m not having such a great time at the moment either, despite recent improvements…

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it much here, but my friend in Michigan — the younger brother of my roommate when I was at UMich in 1998-9 — is mildly handicapped (cerebral palsey).  For years this has made him a “big kid”, which meant I got on with him as I was still into Transformers as well… but lately, he’s become problematic.  Weight training and taking part in bodybuilding shows has made him happy since 2003, but due to recent joint pain, he’s been unable to do either lately, and while I was visiting him in late June and early July (originally planned to coincide with one of his shows), it became clear that he’s becoming… childish and petulant.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with him collecting comics and watching Sesame Street clips on YouTube (hey, how could I when I do similar myself?), and I try not to get annoyed at his tendency to repeat the same conversations over and over again, as I know he can’t help it.  No, my concern is the way he interacts with his parents these days, disdaining the food they cook, treating them like a bank, and even still holding a grudge against his father for preventing him attending a karate event back in, er, the mid-1990s.  He genuinely seems to have a problem with them, even though they do their best to take care of him — but he denies being childish: that’d mean calling his mother a “great big poopy-head”, and he’s much more mature, calling her a “pointy-nosed bitch” instead!

His parents, who are glad that I consider them “America’s real first family”, have actually put forward a proposal: they want to sponsor me for a US green card, so I could come over and live there, as my friend’s housemate, thus enabling him finally to move out of the family home where he’s lived his entire life (aside from a year or so he was married to a similarly-handicapped girl, which ended badly).  A few years ago I’d have jumped at the mere suggestion, but now I’ve got a good life here in London, would I really want to leave it all behind — and would it help my friend, seeing as he doesn’t want to move out of that house (hence why he and his folks didn’t migrate to Washington state in 2014 as planned)?

There seemed to be nothing I could do during my two weeks to encourage him to change his attitude, but I suspect his parents know this, and just want me to carry on being his friend, at least for now.  Perhaps they’re already aware of how he feels about them, though they also seem to realise it’s variable, and some days he’s perfectly amiable.  At the very least, I might have finally convinced him to go see a doctor about his joint pains, in the hope that he can be helped, and thus be able to resume his visits to the gym, with a view to being in a bodybuilding show later in the year.

The other person I can’t help is, of course, “best mate”, who’s been my friend since late 2012 and my housemate since early 2015.  He’s still working for his brother in construction, and still being taken for granted, sent to far-flung parts of Britain at short notice because all his brother’s other workers have families (apparently being single means you have no right to a weekend, or even any time off at all?), and this can happen even when he’s organised a holiday and needs to catch a flight!  This was tried (unsuccessfully) last year when he was about to fly to Japan, and this year he was forced to give up his flight back to his native Ireland; $DEITY help us all in September, when he’s planning to visit Vietnam…

Again, there’s nothing I can do to change this guy’s life — I can’t employ him myself, and while he’s certainly willing to take a crash course in something and aim for a steadier job than construction (which by its very nature is always temporary), being motivated to actually do so is very difficult when he’s exhausted after spending the week in Somerset… and that’s nowhere near as bad as it’s been earlier this year, and back in 2016.  It’s also destroyed his social life, leaving him no longer going to raves — if he’d outgrown them, fine, but he misses partying, and is so desperate for human contact that he’s hinted at hiring an escort!

As with my American friend, I suppose all I can do is listen to his complaints about his life situation, without being judgmental, and support him with whatever decision he makes, even if it’s to go back to Ireland and give up on living in London entirely (since he’s paying rent but seldom actually sleeping here).  However, I’m still recovering from jet lag following my holiday, and much as in Michigan, and indeed before I left, I’m sleeping badly every night (sometimes I have to lie awake doing magazine puzzles), so what good am I to either friend until I remove the beam from my own eye?  I need to fix myself up so I’m no longer having those dizzy spells (which feel like my brain is trying to dream even though I’m awake at the time — is it insomnia?), otherwise I’m in as much need of help as they are.

On that topic, I’m going to sleep early on a Sunday night for once, in the hope that even if I wake up again during the night, I’ll still get enough sleep overall (or at least be told so by Fitbit) that I won’t be in a state tomorrow.  Of course, it’d help if it wasn’t so hot in my room… but hey, it’s better than the cold — and at least that troublesome housemate’s gone at last!

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…