The Edible Calendar

In my endless quest to find new ways in which to count down just how long I have left here, I have stumbled upon a truly good one.

The Weetabix Calendar.

I love to have breakfast cereal first thing in the morning, and, to keep the costs down, I like to buy Weetabix, because that stops me pouring out a giant bowl of Coco Pops or some other stupidly expensive cereal. Because Weetabix is very definite, I can have the same amount each day. Therefore, it is very predictable, and so very easy to know when you need to buy a new one. And in any case, I like it.

But yesterday I realised that the amount of Weetabix I currently have stashed in the cupboard will take me up to, give or take a day or two, the day I leave London.

So now I have a physical representation of the amount of time I have left here. And each day it is eroded away, bit by bit. This means no more constant repetition of “four weeks left” in my head. Now I can open the cupboard and see time, literally, being eaten away.

In other exciting news, my jobless housemate has returned. Without his keys. Which is very annoying because it means we have to let each other in, depending on who has the keys. And the landlord has completely ignored my housemate’s request to borrow the spare keys for a week until he gets them sent down here.

But at least the atmosphere is good at the moment. We appear to be on good terms again, and there are much fewer awkward silences than before. Maybe the break has done him good in getting his mental state sorted out. I know he was at the psychologist again the other day, and in truth it’s the only reason he’s come back, because he had an appointment with them. There’s no other reason to be here when there’s nothing to do all day.

Which, unfortunately, led to something quite annoying. I ordered a new digital camera on Thursday, after the old one gave up the ghost and I got a credit note for it (because it was still under warranty). But, in an amazing display of efficiency, the camera was delivered on Friday. Or rather, they attempted to deliver it. Of course, my housemate was in, but he was sleeping, as usual. Whereas now I could have had my brand shiny new digital camera to play with, instead I’m now going to have to take the day off (or at least the morning) on Monday so that I can be utterly certain I will get it when they redeliver.

Not that I’m missing anything in work. The election campaign has made things utterly dead. At least it’s over on Thursday, and then the excitement begins. I predict an all-nighter…

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Three Step Plan

After a tremendously quiet weekend, I’m actually looking forward to going into work. Which I never thought I’d hear myself say. Though there has, at least, been some progress made here.

The first is rather trivial – I have been planning to buy the parts and build a new computer for ages. It seems I spent the entire Saturday researching all the advances in computer technology since I last made a computer (this one is nearly three years old) and then finding the bits that I would need to make my dream come true. And choking at the cost. Sometimes I wonder why I bother making my own computers. In the past it was always cheaper than buying a pre-assembled one from PC World… but now the likes of Dell have made it very good value. These days the cost is almost the same, and when you take into account the time it takes (and hassle, there’s always hassle) it probably works out more expensive to make your own.

But I like it. I like the fact that my PC will be customised just the way I want it to be. And again, it keeps me up to date with all the changes that have happened – and there have been a lot, that’s for sure.

The second is more of a challenge. I have finally told myself that I would like to do a football referee training course. I need to get myself some hobbies that give me something to do in my spare time that get me outside the house. It’s all well and good playing the guitar, piano, drums and singing, but they don’t tend to get me out all that much. Unless I did some busking. Now there’s a thought. But this idea would be something I would enjoy (I think!) and it would encourage me to be a bit more active too. I’m thinking too about my future life, and looking back at all the tedious weekends I’ve spent here… and refeering would a very good solution to that because it solves the “too much downtime” question.

The third is more broad. I have decided that I really must be more positive in my outlook on life. I’m sick of thinking about how bad things could get, and how there are many mistakes I’ve made. It’s just no use to me doing that. I have to refocus and concentrate on what I want to achieve. I am where I am right now, for good and for bad. But the past is now irrelevant, and the only changes I can make are here in the present. I have to start looking at my objectives in life and start breaking them down into smaller goals that I can achieve in the short term. I need to stop filling my head with thoughts that say “I can’t do that” before I’ve even tried.

I can be positive, but it often feels uncomfortable for me. If I practice being positive more often, it will become second nature in no time, and then my whole outlook on life will change.

In theory.

Look, there I am being negative again…

Tranquility

At the moment, there is peace.

I am writing this from the office of my MP. He is away. There’s just me and one other person here. One of my workmates left on Wednesday, so it’s much quieter here now. But Fridays are often like that around here anyway. Quiet, but generally quite efficient, as long as I’ve left enough work for myself. Because when the MP is not here, there is no one to generate things to do.

And today there is nothing to do as I cleared all the backlog yesterday. The reason for that was so that I could be late in to work and await a parcel collection this morning. That went well as the collection was around 10:30, which allowed me to get some cleaning and washing done while I was waiting. Then stroll into work for 11:30am. Perfect. And then I will leave at 4pm. An ideal day. A shame they can’t all be like this.

Obviously, I’m now back in London, and as before it’s like water off a duck’s back – I’m now very used to just settling back down and getting on with it. I returned on Monday, and it went so smoothly that it couldn’t have been any better. The sun was shining, it was warm… I got back at 4pm, which allowed me to go shopping and enjoy the rest of the evening… a nice way to readjust to life on my own.

And I am on my own at the moment, as my jobless housemate is still not back from his holiday. And, obviously, there is no real reason for him to do so, apart from the fact that he’s paying for a house he’s not living in, though I could be accused of the same thing with my two week Easter break.

So it means that the peace is even more extensive. Home is quiet. But not too quiet – as it’s normally filled with my music or me singing, playing the keyboard or playing the guitar. The kind of things that I love doing but can’t when my housemate is there. So it’s not really peace. It would be “peace” if my housemate was there, but I don’t think I can stand the awkwardness.

Though I am going to have to. For five weeks. That’s OK. It will soon fly by. This week has already disappeared. Everything is going smoothly. Suspiciously so. Something must be going to go wrong soon. It’s just too easy at the moment.

Will I ever learn to just sit back and enjoy it when the good things are happening? Or will my life forever be a moan about either a) current doom; or b) impending doom? Come back next time to find out if my sense of foreboding is right!

Holiday Reflections

It’s always at this point of my stays back home that I start to feel depressed. It’s the depression that brings me to acceptance that in a few days I will be going back to my “normal” life of a student. Though, of course, this year has not been studenty in any ordinary sense of the word.

London awaits, which is probably better than the exams that would have been waiting for me if I’d changed to the three-year politics course. Though I’m only delaying them for a year. But at least this year will be all over very soon. And it will probably fly by. Once I go back on Monday, there will be just six full weeks of work to go. Which means I have to get my dissertation research completed in this time. I am looking forward to the end, but not to having no excuse to not write my dissertation…

I’ve spent the past week just doing all the usual holiday stuff. It’s been great to relax and escape the tedium of my MP’s office, and it seems I made the right decision given that everyone else also decided to take almost a week off work as well. Things must be dead back there. But they won’t be next week, as election fever will be in full swing. I may even clock in a few hours at my MP’s constituency to help out, which would be a good way to get out of the office.

The good thing about next week is the third and final dose of the student loan also comes through for me. Which is nice, as it means I will have a way to pay my final rent instalment. Which is also very nice. I had grown to dread the 23rd of every month, as it is the day on which I pay my rent. But April 23rd will be the last ever time I do so, to this landlord at least. So I will be slightly richer after then. Though, of course, I’m only spending money that is loaned to me. In reality, the debt mountain to the government just piles higher and higher.

So, the end is nigh, which is an exciting prospect. I’m looking forward to the summer, and hopefully I can get a job for June and July sorted out on Monday. But the end is also nigh for this holiday.

There are just a few bits of unfinished business. The first of which is a pair of shoes that I ordered on the internet – clearly specifying size 11, but they have gone and sent me size 12. Idiots.

The second bit is the small matter of a cup semi final. No, not the FA Cup. The U13 cup for my brother’s football team. That’s on Sunday, against the hardest opposition in the league. No one expects anything. But there’s always a dream.

Shame my camera isn’t working. Bloody thing broke down after just 9 months. But that’s good – since they will now have to replace it or refund me (very likely since the model is now discontinued). Sometimes things work out quite well…

What The Doctor Ordered

Ever since my sister got “Doctor Kawashima’s Brain Training” for Christmas on her Nintendo DS, there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by while I’m at home that I miss out on my daily dose of “brain training”. It’s a fascinating idea that by doing loads of different puzzles each day your brain can improve its sharpness down to the “ideal” brain age of 20.

Now I don’t know whether having a sharp brain for answering simple calculations and other puzzles very quickly is good for everything else in life – the benefits may spread to other areas – but even if they don’t, it is fascinating to see yourself improve day by day on the puzzles themselves. The game plots graphs of your results, and there is no doubt that if you do them every day you improve. The sad thing about it in this house is that now all the record tables are filled with entries by me, as no one else seems to be able to come close to challenge my dominance. There is no real competition, apart from my cheating sister, who I have caught writing down the words for the “word memory” challenge.

But what’s also interesting is that some mornings, I’m just utterly useless at it, for no apparent reason. I normally do the training within an hour or so of getting out of bed, so that I can compare. But this morning, I have just achieved some of the worst scores I’ve done for a while. I can’t find any explanation for it. The only excuse might be that I’ve not yet had any breakfast. Perhaps my brain is still in bed. Maybe today is going to be an “off day”, and I have diagnosed it before it has even happened. I will make careful notes about what happens today to see if I’m proved right.

The other fascinating discovery is that if I do do the training at night, my results are generally much worse than if I’d done them in the morning. Most people do operate better when they’ve first woke up, but I have seen proof of this for myself on this game.

Anyway, it is hard to believe that I’ve now been home for more than a week, and this time next week I’ll be dreading going back to London. It’s just flown by – again. I’ve not exactly done that much apart from see the family, buy Easter eggs, spend money on some new clothes… hardly notable stuff. But it’s just been good to get away, relax and recharge my batteries ready for the final push. When I get back, I will have just six weeks left. I’m sure that will fly by as well.

Now, another thing that the Doctor ordered is some breakfast. There is still a glut of hot cross buns from yesterday, and though they are now out of date, I’m sure they’ll be fine after a good grilling. Combined with Weetabix and some orange juice, maybe that will finally wake me up…