The Vortex of Thoughts

On this journal I tend to get into the mindset of thinking – wrongly – that I “only did a post a couple of days ago”. In the end that turns into a week, and I realise that I probably should have posted by now. Then I claim that my week has actually been so quiet that there was nothing to write about.

Invariably this isn’t true, and it’s more my fault for being rather forgetful. Still, I’ll now have to make the best with what I’ve got…

This week has been a week of contemplation, and even one or two important decisions. Despite my driving woes, as I wrote about last time, I have now decided I must see this one through. My attitude has changed somewhat given that my three lessons this week have actually put me right back on track. In fact, I even went through two lessons in a row without stalling. Not bad, considering how annoying I find the instructor’s car.

My instructor thinks I will be able to pass my test in the not too distant future. This is good news… the sooner this is over the better, and then I can forget about cars and stuff for a while, since I have no intention of driving my own car any time soon. If things keep going well, and I get my theory test done soon, with a bit of luck I might be able to pass by Easter. This is good. I still need to practice my parking, but now I can (sort of) reverse park, and with a bit more tries I will actually get close to the kerb!

So that’s good. Meanwhile, I have been hard at work trying to complete the paid job I’ve been given writing up factsheets for a website from VHS tapes. I now have just three episodes to go, and the money is starting to come in. Yet, the tax office have again issued the same (wrong) tax code for me. They really are hopeless. Thankfully it’s not massively wrong, so I will now finally get all my hundreds of pounds of tax back (yay!) which doubtless will go straight into my savings account. Hmm. But I have been thinking of buying a digital camera with it. I would definitely enjoy that. It could be a nice reward for me.

But also on the money side, I now think I am secure enough in funds to do something like sponsoring a child somewhere in the world. I think that would be cool. Just now got to find a reputable agency to do it with. I’d be a little annoyed if someone embezzled it.

However, University work still piles up. I will make some progress on that tomorrow by dealing with a small presentation I’m going to make in a couple of weeks time. That will help me to keep pretending that I’m going along fine. Also on University, I get the module results back for the exams and essays I did at the end of last year on Monday. That will be interesting, since these actually count for something. Fingers crossed.

It was only last night, in my first bout of real insomnia ever, that I realised a couple of things. First, it is a mistake to eat a large meal just an hour before bedtime. I felt ill most of the night because digestion in my stomach was having to go on without the aid of gravity… and to make matters worse I was extremely thirsty no matter how much water I drank.

The other thing I thought about, as I whiled away the hours between 2 and 4am, was just how “almost” perfect my life is right now. Everything is suddenly going well (quite a change from last Sunday), and somehow the balance of pressure, hobbies and free time is just right.

And yet, for some reason, I still desperately want to bring a wrecking ball to all of that by getting a girlfriend.

Funny how life works, eh.

Option Planning

Life at the moment is a little turbulent, so I thought I’d take a moment or two to express my thoughts which might help clear them.

A few days ago I wrote down everything I’m committed to, and everything I do because I enjoy it but wouldn’t describe it as a committment, onto a piece of paper. It is basically a slightly longer-term “to-do” list. It makes for depressing reading, since it is mostly dominated by lots of University work, but time is on my side for most of those.

The only problems arise with those other things that I’m not committed to but need to decide on. One of these is me learning how to drive. It is going OK, but I have now decided that my instructor is not the best one for me. She picks up on minor errors and exaggerates them into great flaws, as well as confusing left and right on a consistent basis, and “introducing” things that we have covered in many lessons before (if I do another lesson “introducing” left turns I will scream). It isn’t helped by the fact that I despise her new car… it feels like it has precisely zero margin for error, and if the clutch is not brought up ultra-slowly it will stall. I can drive, but I just need a lot more experience out on the road and a bit of help with my parking manoeuvres.

My problem comes from the fact that all of these are making me not enjoy driving any more. When I went driving with my parents over Christmas I actually liked it. I used to look forward to my lessons, but I’ve recently started to fear them as they approach. It’s been years since I got into a frame of mind like this over particular events each week. I used to be scared of Tuesdays because I had PE or Games. I absolutely detested living like that, and it now feels like I’m doing it all over again.

So I’m in a dilemma. I either see this through and pass my test before May. Or I abandon soon, and instead wait a couple of years (since there’s no way I’m learning to drive in London next year) and do it after 4th year.

By then it could be too late and I may not be able to get certain jobs because of it.

The other option is to cancel a summer arrangement and learn to drive back at home. This would be better, since it would include an option of getting in much more practice in my parent’s car, reducing the number of lessons I need substantially, saving money, and maybe even taking the test in my parent’s car too.

But like I said… this would mean I have to cancel my plans for this summer. Which leads me on to my next thoughts.

For some reason, I have suddenly gone off the idea of working this summer in the USA. I can’t for the life of me explain why. I just don’t feel like doing it any more. I have not yet committed to this, although I have already sent many signals to my employer that I am going to come back. I even got them to offer me more cash to cover extra costs this time around. I think the problem here is that I need to start looking for flight tickets, and go down to London for visa interviews and things. It’s also a big chunk of my life, although I don’t exactly know what else I’d be doing with it if I didn’t go.

Meanwhile, my financial woes increase as I receive a pay slip for work I’ve done and yet the money has not appeared in my account the day it should have. My account details are right, but for some reason nothing has arrived. And neither has the tapes for the remaining eight episodes of my assignment. So here I am, wasting free time this weekend which I’d set aside to do this work, and yet the tapes aren’t here. They won’t turn up till next week, which means I’ll have to waste next weekend on them, when I will probably have to do some University work as well.

The other problem is that I still haven’t picked the MP I’d like to work with next year. Time is running low on that one, but I still can’t motivate myself to make the selection.

I also seem to be wasting lots of time in general. I have barely played my guitar or keyboard in many weeks, and my talents are slipping away, if they ever existed in the first place. I just don’t seem to have any free time to play them.

But I now have a small inclination that I would like to go into primary school teaching. I don’t know why, when it seems men aren’t allowed to go into teaching younger kids any more because it must mean they are a paedophile, but I just like the idea. I find the programme Child Of Our Time endlessly fascinating, and children in general more so. Perhaps I’m doing the wrong degree.

What a bunch of trivial, middle-class woes I have. If I was properly suffering I’d know about it. It just seems to me like I spend my life procrastinating over things that some people at the sharp-end of life would find rather amusing and make the decision in seconds.

At the very least I feel like I’ve just got most of my direction thoughts down onto paper. Now I just need to make a decision…

Quiz Night Win! Almost

Quiz Night has become a regular feature in this house. The student union has one every Tuesday, and me and my mates go most weeks. We do well, getting pretty close to winning each week. We just need to push a bit further.

This time we did. In a tied first place, we battled through a simple tiebreaker to finally win the damn thing at long last. Hooray. So now the choice was ahead: three boxes, and in one of them is money, the other is drink tokens, and the other sod all.

As I answered the tie breaker, I was selected to make the choice of box. My friends started humming the Deal or No Deal theme tune as I went up to make the choice.

Yep. I picked the empty one. Well, not quite empty. It had a few chocolate sweets in it. Nice though they were, it was not the desired result. We missed out on about £40 each.

So we’ll keep going. We’ve proved we can win at least, but now we need to go and end with a flourish.

So that was yesterday. Today I managed to persuade everyone to go bowling in the free time we all have on Wednesday afternoons. At £1.80 per person per game, you can’t complain. And it was almost empty. I’m normally pretty good at bowling, but today scores of 79 in the first game and 102 in the second were rather disappointing. I got 130 the other day when I went with the kids of my brother’s football team. Oh well.

Life is good. Oh, apart from the stupidity that is the Inland Revenue. If you owe them money, they’ll be onto you in a shot. If they owe you money… well, expect to wait several months to sort it out.

Post 100

I wish I had been saving up Post 100 for something particularly special, but I don’t think I can hold out any longer waiting for something – anything – to happen.

For a first week back at University, it has been remarkable in that every class that was supposed to happen actually did happen. Normally there’s timetable confusion of some kind and the lecturers turn up half way through the week, but this time it all got off to flyer. I’ve done all the work I wanted to do, and as a bonus, I now have another shipment of work on – the same stuff that I did in September last year which earned me £350/week for three weeks. So I spent all day today doing lots of that to get me ahead of the game.

It seems I can show remarkable self-discipline when it comes to work. One of my housemates who does the same the course as me has spent all this week doing absolutely nothing, despite having exactly the same workload as me. So now he’s cramming all his seminar writing into this weekend. A couple of hours ago, he still hadn’t started. This isn’t really a surprise.

I just wish I could show the same level of self-discipline when it comes to trying out new things in life. It’s probably more a lack of self-confidence than anything else. Sometimes I manage to talk myself out of doing simple things like phoning companies. I can phone my family, but I don’t like using the phone for commercial stuff, like paying bills or even to phone the council for a new recycling box. I end up having to force myself to do these things, even though they are relatively non-traumatic. Hmmm.

It’s beginning to dawn on me just how much I have to do this semester. It’s the same as it was last year, but this time I have a mighty project instead of three in-class assessments I had in my free elective maths module. I actually prefer coursework, but right now, when I have distractions as good as the game “The Movies” which I got for Christmas, I don’t really want to pull myself away from it. I guess I’m going to have to find some more of my fabled self-discipline to stop this one. It’s been a while since I found a game this addictive.

Anyway. I’ve now declared it my evening off, so I’m enjoying some music and perhaps a little gaming in a minute. It’s just a shame that there’s such an awful smell up here in my room. I have no clue what one of my housemates is cooking. Whatever it is, it smells disgusting. And it’s been lingering for hours now. Somehow, everything he cooks manages to stick in the house for ever… sometimes even surviving overnight. Might have something to do with the fact that he’s shit at washing dishes…

Funny Feeling

I feel a bit weird at the moment. I got back to Hull on Sunday night and had a million things to do to get myself organised for the next day. But I just couldn’t be bothered. Instead I just sat in the living room with my friends/housemates and got back into the groove of studenty communication with them.

Next morning, the alarm clock goes off and the first words I say are “Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks!”. I had either a 9:15am or a 11:15am seminar on the first day back, but I wouldn’t know which group I was supposed to be in until I went in. So I had to go to the first one. Lucky for me, I was in the first group, so I was rather pleased with this stroke of good fortune. The seminar was interesting, but I just wanted to go back to sleep. It was becoming pretty clear that it was going to take me a little while before I was used to University life again. Because of this, I threw myself in the deep end and volunteered to do next week’s seminar. Hmm. With the benefit of hindsight the next morning, I’m beginning to regret it…

But the biggest feeling right now is one of “Ummm. Yeah.” It’s a kind of sarcastic cynicism. I don’t want to be back here, and I keep making absurd connections with lots of items, songs and thoughts by saying “Oh, last time I I was back at home. How time flies.” This involves eating bits of Christmas present chocolate, playing certain tunes on my keyboard, and even discovering old receipts in my pocket for things I’d bought. It’s a depression, but it’s one I know is going to lift soon when I start doing stuff that will make me forget about it. It’s also a depression which is tinged with acceptance, so I’m just letting it run its course. Like I said, it makes me feel a little weird.

I’ve also discovered that this journal has also more immediate uses for me now that I have passed one year of operation. I can now look back at what I wrote this time last year and see how I dealt with my life back then. Perhaps I can learn from my mistakes. Hmm. Maybe not.

Tomorrow is my first driving lesson of the new year, and I’m actually looking forward to trying out the driving skills I’ve been practicing with my mum and dad back at home on Hull’s wonderful roads.

And this is my 99th post since I started. I’m sure post 100 will be just like all the others…

Figured Out

In the past few days I think I’ve realised what the difference is between how I feel about my life here and how I feel about it in Hull. The first is somewhat obvious: while here, my life is essentially on hold, at least until I leave University. In some respects, this is actually good for me: I feel more youthful here. I don’t have to go out and do monotonous adult things like paying the bills, watching the finances, washing clothes, shopping for food, etc. I might go along and help, but I don’t actually have to do the thinking. It’s very childlike. But obviously it’s not very realistic.

I also get the bonus here in that I am able to do things that have more obvious implications of helping others. Here I have two brothers, a sister and a nephew who I can talk to, and exchange strange and weird youthful banter with, including my sister’s latest obsession about which people have “bean heads”. It’s all pretty amusing and interesting, and somehow, again, it just makes me feel a little younger. Here I provide entertainment, advice and just someone else to talk to for a growing family unit. The reverse is true for me. I can see the impact I have on other people’s lives here. That’s pretty cool.

None of these are true for me in Hull. My friends are all independent people with their own minds who annoy me from time to time. I’m sure I annoy them to. They’re good friends, and without the friendship it would make University life a lot harder. But I don’t feel the same effect on each other as I have here at home. Plus, in Hull, I have to do all those boring adult things for myself: shopping, finances, organising the house. It all feels like it’s being done for me, me, me. When I’m at Uni, I actually think of myself as a pretty selfish person, yet I know deep down I’m not. Here, I have a community in which I can be something else beyond a human resource, which I feel demonstrates that.

I do miss that “community” when I’m away. And for sure, it is probably one of the reasons why I am being more attracted to teaching as a career.

Either way, who knows where all this is leading. I still would like to do something more worthwhile in Hull. Maybe I’ll take another look at that volunteering thing again next year. That would help relieve me of the selfishness I feel.

“Real Life” begins again on Sunday.


Happy New Year!

Well, we made it. New Year celebrations were held in my house for most of my extended family, and went on until 6am. I gave up through tiredness at 5:30ish, so I did pretty well. I had one drink all night, which is impressive given the fact that most of my family were badgering me all night to have another one, and walking around with a bottle of water is just asking for trouble.

New Year’s Day was a relaxing affair. Most of my family were too tired to do much yesterday, but I did go out with my dad for a driving lesson for a good while. I’m starting to feel more confident at ordinary driving now… working up and down the gears for cornering, roundabouts and junctions, etc… now I just need to work on things like reverse bay parking and turns in the road. So far so good, I think. I would rather hope that I will be ready and able to take my test no later than April, but given that there are always enormous waiting lists for these things, I am now somewhat concerned that, given I will be away for the whole summer again (hopefully) then I won’t be able to take my test before next September. Bah. Just as long as it doesn’t cost me any more than I initially allocated…

So that’s one of my wishes for 2006. The end of 2006 is going to be rather interesting, as – all going well – I will be working in London by the end of it for my third year in Uni. I will be past the half way stage. Ack. So that would be another wish: that Uni continues going well, and that my placement in London is not as fearful as I think it will be. Other wishes are obvious: that my family prospers, that my friends keep doing well… that I have another good summer… etc. In fact, I’m after a rather normal year. I’m sure it won’t pan out like that!

Today I am going to a football match. The tickets were a Christmas present from one of my uncles; I haven’t been to watch this particular football team (the one I support) in ages, possibly around 8 years, so this is going to be an experience. I wonder if it’s changed much. I remember commenting on the lack of atmosphere at the Hull game I went to. This team could never be accused of the same crime. Or at least, that was the case when I last went. I think it’ll be fun.

But now I must deal with a more looming tragedy: my return to Hull on Sunday. This holiday has just vanished without trace…