The Year of (Some) Surprise

It is that time again – what did the year shape up to be?

As usual the best way to look at that is to see what this post or it’s usual start of year equivalent said.

What’s interesting is that for years I have generally been predicting that hopefully, one day, I will afford a new house. This year, in the year I actually did not only reach the point of being able to afford the ridiculous deposit on a house, but more importantly, managed to convince a bank that I can definitely afford a mortgage payment of £750 a month (they would not take the monthly rent payment of £995 into account, wankers) … apparently, I had no such aspirations or predictions that it would happen. I think the strains of moving earlier in the year had made me feel like I don’t want to be doing that again in a hurry…

Life is strange at times.

I usually start my reviews with a conclusion. Never bury the lede, so they say. So I suppose for that the year has to be a Good year. Arguably, it should be a Very Good year. I mean, why not? Don’t we all aspire to home ownership? That’s what society tells us you need to have been a successful Adult.

I had started to lose interest in it, and since becoming an owner-occupier (I like bandying that one around as it sounds comical) I have definitely realised all the down-sides of the whole thing. I mean, so far we must have spent several thousands (borrowed, of course) on putting right some of the crappy things in the house. And there are so many more to go. So much for saving money by paying less than renting. So far, that dream hasn’t been realised…

So that’s why it’s not so good. It’s great to have security. It’s great to have the comfort of knowing that there is no immediate threat to chuck us out that could happen at any time if the landlord sold up. Yes, it’s a bit of a strange feeling, but that new place is now mine and J’s. We can do what we like with it. Within reason, I suppose. I mean, there is a tipped up plant in the garden that has been like that now for weeks, and we’ve left it like that and just went away for 9 days. That kind of stuff is so lame it can wait. I’m sure the neighbours love us.

Looking back though, the real problem with this year was that my worries about the family continued to come true. I am as distant from my brothers now than ever. My older sister too. My younger sister not so much, but it’s difficult to keep in touch these days when everyone is so busy. She’s even bought her own house this year too, which is great, but it’s just another reason for people to be so busy to engage with each other…

The less said about my nephews the better. My oldest nephew continues to drift, and it’s really sad to have spoken with him recently, and he tries to talk and act like an adult, whilst still being incredibly dense about life and what to make of it. I feel really sorry for him, and worry that he is heading into oblivion, but there is nothing any of us can do. He won’t listen. He won’t change. He wants to do his own thing. He is dragging my mum and dad into nonsense, and his mum (my sister) has basically washed her hands of him. It’s terrible because I can see what happened to my nan and grandad regarding my cousin, who basically became an extra grandson for them at a late age… happening again with my own mum and dad.

As for my other nephews, the youngest is still too young to be worried about, but the other two continue to be weird. Maybe they’ll grow out of it, but they’re just strange. They ignore you when you talk to them, and they appear to have no social skills at all. I hope it doesn’t happen to the youngest one as well. Transfixed to a glowing screen, prodding it and thinking Plants vs Zombies is a suitable parental replacement.

Then there’s the illness of my nan, worrying me about the frailty of life, and how we really are now entering a time of constant decline. Dad isn’t great either, and Mum’s continued “forgetful” behaviour does worry me a lot. It’s hard to know when she’s being serious.

As for me and J – well, we end the year probably on better terms than we did at the start of the year, if I look at that post again. We are, I think, a great couple – but the year has been stressful for us. We have achieved a lot with the house, and continuing to survive in this modern economy when all you have is your own skills and personality to keep customers coming back to our business is hard. I feel the stresses of it very highly now. I know he does too. We’ve both decided to “do something” about it, but what that is we don’t truly know. Personally, we are close, but not as close as we have been. We’ve lost an element of the fun that I think our relationship used to have. It’s ok though – we’ll survive. We have to, we own a house together now…

2017 – you were an odd year. Filled with surprises, ups and downs, but overall you were good. I’m sad that my family is disintegrating, and we are all more distant than ever, and illness is creeping up. But I think that’s just life, and everyone deals with the same thing as you get older. The only thing I can control is what I do – and I think, having managed to scrape together significant pennies on some bricks and mortar at long last, in spite of the problems it’s brought, that we did OK!

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De-Stress That Christmas

J is being a pain. This is the day we’re going back to my home. The home that I call Home, even though I haven’t lived there properly since 2009. Wow, 8 years.

But J is being a pain. He is constantly stressing about the time to leave. We have so much to do, he says. He’s right. But we don’t need to travel as early as he thinks. In fact, there’s no need to. The later it is the better it is…

It’s time to go home. Again. But this time there are many points to make:

  1. My nan has not been well. She had a mini-stroke recently, and her future has preoccupied my thoughts. I’m also worried that she won’t sound like how she did. Strokes change people in many ways, not just physically.
  2. My family in general are not as healthy as they used to be, and we’re all getting older. Older and more distant. My brothers, I barely bother with them any more. My older sister either, and my nephews are so distant and so odd in the way they have been brought up with technology I don’t even know how to engage with them any more.
  3. I am getting too old for this. I have had another long year, with long hours, lots of work, very little fun, and no holiday at all. Again. I don’t recall the last “proper” holiday I had. Going home for Christmas doesn’t really count, fun though it is. But I can’t keep working all year round without breaks. It is killing me.
  4. This year we have more time. We have an extra day before Christmas day, thanks to the quirks of the calendar. It has been useful for our own purposes – i.e. work – but it also lost us a bit of extra time we could have done with to get jobs out the door.
  5. People have really fucked me off this year. People are causing me to be sad. The reality of life is acceptable. People are not. There was an incident involving a client on the last day of work, in the after hours, all because her autoresponder was turned on 30 minutes later than planned. We are not these people’s slaves. They are not paying us for that.
  6. There actually is more time than you think to do everything you need. J needs to learn this, and stop being stressed out by the fact that the to do list is long. There are two of us. We don’t have to do everything simultaneously. He is learning this, and learning to accept that we don’t have to be joined at the hip…

The worry list could go on. But there doesn’t seem much point. It’s very unlike me to be perfectly relaxed about time, but if I have learned one thing over the last few years it’s that – for a large quantity of life – it is going to happen anyway. Whether I’m back at 5pm or 8pm really doesn’t matter. We have stuff to do. We will do them. And we’ll get back at whatever time that might be. It’s not worth the pressure or hassle.

We’re travelling back now, having achieved a shout out on Radio X, after getting thoroughly fucked off – as usual – with Radio 1’s pathetic efforts. Definitely a sign of getting old.

As a final note – this blog is now a teenager. It too is getting old. It too is filled with all the same things, observed endlessly, stressed and pored over until its meaning is lost. It is beginning to lose its way. I, on the other hand, never had any “way”. I just kept making it up as I went along.

Basically the only thing I’ve learned in life. Everyone is doing the same. We don’t really know how to do any other.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder…

It’s been a funny few days. It doesn’t seem like a Wednesday – in fact it seems like a Friday – but it has been a week of some progress.

On Monday J was deputised to drive hundreds of miles to go and stay with my parents. It is easier that way. He goes up North and does the up North visits. He pretends to be me and stays with them. They complain that they never see me any more. I am somewhat sad about it, but also not so. I can’t drive, but J can. If J does the trip it’s far more efficient for us both as a company and as a couple. If I go away and do it I’m gone for days, totally at the mercy of the trains (which are total shit these days, and ridiculously expensive) and J suffers badly. He does not cope being here on his own. We’ve done it before and it involves much moaning about being unwell. At least this way he’s kept busy…

So I’ve been getting used to my own company again. As I type he is on his way back, at long last, after a very very long day spent playing with an old customer’s new 2017 27″ 5K Retina iMac. Since J loves Apple and all its wanky products, he has been in his element. Even more so, the client made him both lunch and dinner. How my family would laugh at me. That’s dinner and tea where I come from. But lunch is very unambiguous. Dinner less so. But saying tea might make people think I was talking about a cup of tea? I’m sure he had one of those too. Or many. It was about 7 hours he was there…

Has it made my heart grow fonder? Yes, I suppose it has. I have missed having him around to talk to. But I haven’t missed being the master of my own domain. My music selections (no embarrassing Toto – Africa please) and my food. I even treated myself to some cookies, which I wouldn’t normally do if he was around. We try to stick to a fairly rigid schedule of desserts, not for my sake but for his… he has a bit of spare flab from when he used to be quite fat, but it won’t go away now, even though he’s lost all the weight. The body is a cruel thing.

I also haven’t missed being able to set my own schedules. I’m afraid that if I had my way I’d be asleep by 9pm and up at 5am every day. I am a morning person. I get so much shit done in the early hours, sometimes even before I get to the office. Get that kettle boiling early, have a shower, have Weetabix and peanut butter on toast and I’m sorted by 6am.

But J does not work that way. I get up first, make the sandwiches for the day and then return to bed with the coffee. We then sit in bed for 40 minutes or so, sometimes chatting, sometimes just browsing our phones. He takes some time to warm up. I have not missed that…

I wonder whether absence makes my heart fonder of anyone else. In truth, not really. I was already fond of dad. Mum has become more distant as the years go by, and I don’t know truly why. She’s never been the same since Grandad died. And my siblings, if I hear from them it’s usually only to co-ordinate presents or if one of them wants to borrow money. It’s truly sad, but I think it’s just what happens when everyone grows up and has lives of their own. I’m not interested in their lives, and they aren’t interested in mine. I don’t like my brothers’ partners, I’m sure they don’t like J (not that they officially know he’s my partner), and my sister’s partners are also very meh. It’s the age-old in-law problem isn’t it.

Anyway, things will be back to normal tomorrow. Christmas is now stressfully close, whilst still being a safe distance away to give enough time to plan. There are only a few presents left to get, but still many presents to wrap, and also lots of Christmas cards to prepare, in the annual game of “who is going to pretend they were always going to send you a card all along”…