2018 – A Challenging Year of Change

2018 – what happened to you?

It’s a strange thought that all of a sudden the year is over. It only seems five minutes ago we were basking in the glorious sunshine of the wonderful summer we had this year. Even less time ago when I was sitting writing my post wondering what was going to happen this year, sad that Christmas was over and that it was time to get back to reality.

Well here we are again. 14 years since I started keeping this boring journal. I wonder how many others from that early era of blogging are still “blogging”? Most people have moved on to Instagram and Twitter. We never did really have the attention span to sit and read what others have written for page after page, year after year. No one’s life is that interesting.

But we have important business to consider. How was 2018? It’s tough, because I can make a very credible case either way. As usual, I look back at what I wrote at the start of the year and once again wonder what I was smoking.

There are many, many reasons why this was a Bad Year. My own life took a quite serious turn for the worse when the “other business” that I had apparently given up writing about finally came to a head. It was a double-edged sword. We lost a big client, and I also feel like I lost a friend. But I have gained a lot of time, and my work life is now very different. I am back to now focusing 100% of my work time on my own business. That has been good and bad. Bad because my own business is fucking dull, and good because it has given me back vast amounts of work time that I had lost, and a cross that I had been bearing for the best part of five years is now gone.

But overall I still think all of this had been Bad, because realistically my former business associate had had some good and profitable moments. I am doubtless richer for his involvement, despite him notionally owing me £10k or more. I have been recompensed for much more than this, but he never did pay back his personal debt. I’m not willing to forgive it, but since the man is now a bankrupt there’s not much prospect of him bothering, no matter how many times he says to me he will still sort it out one day.

I feel sad for him and his family. They have always lived in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to finances and life. They will suffer for what has happened. And I have too. I have lost a decent friend and a business ticket to excitement. I can’t say I haven’t had an interesting ride. But it is now over.

My family have suffered. My Gran is a shadow of her former self, now preferring to stay in her bungalow all day. My oldest nephew and youngest brother plague my parents, forcing them to consider selling our family home, which would be a tragedy on many levels. Part of me is being selfish. It is comforting knowing there is always a bed for me here. It would be lost forever. There would never be family Christmases again. This year’s was actually quite good, but it can never meet up to the expectations any more. My younger sister left so soon after Christmas to go back to work. It was all just very sad.

My relationship with J is not really as good as it should be. I’m still a bossy boots, and he is still as secretive as ever. It seems to get harder and harder to break down that wall. We still sit around just watching Netflix when the day is over. We still have no real hobbies, and we still have no other activities to fill our time except driving to get coffee somewhere, or walking into town. The tragic loss of our favourite coffee shop (replete with fine muffins) has also been a bitter blow!

My own work is just the same as it was before. In fact, now worse, because I focus exclusively on crap. There are no entertaining side projects or deviations that can arrive. We sit and react. I watch my e-mails with horror and sit terrified that the phone might ring, despite the fact that each call and each e-mail is basically how I earn my money. I have been doing this so long now that you would like I should be used to it, and back myself every time. But when the IT world has been changed so much by how truly terrible Windows 10 is, I start to wonder whether soon there’ll be anything left for us to do. People hate computers, and are dumping them for tablets and phones, which are unfixable and make us no money. The computers left are being ruined by Microsoft’s Windows 10, which makes every job a total nightmare, for the lottery as to whether or not you’ve actually finished fixing it…

So I still have nothing else to do, despite writing at the start of the year that I must do so. It’s tremendously bad. 10 years ago I could not really have imagined I’d still be doing the same thing now as I was then. Whilst IT has changed a lot in that time, I am still, at its heart, a computer problem solver. The tools of the job just change, and I just get older.

I think I have also lost something this year: my mental acuity. It’s been going downhill for a while, but I have definitely noticed that I’m now far more forgetful, and more unfocused than ever. I keep wondering whether I need to increase my B12 intake, hoping there’s a sensible explanation for it. There isn’t. It’s just getting older.

Meanwhile J has had a struggle this year, trying to make his accountancy practice sideline become something more than a sideline. He hopes that is his ticket out of IT. He might be right, but it will take a long time. Nothing happens in business overnight.

Out in the wide world, politics is totally mad (Trump still here, but now fucking unhinged) and our own politicians are tremendously bad (May) and sadly lacking (Corbyn). I have learned a lot about MMT in my free time, which has fascinated me with the realisation that we are all just so wrong when it comes to the economy… but it has been for interest only. It will never gain traction, and it will never achieve anything. Our media and our world is just too blinkered.

I should focus instead on the few good things that happened, and each time I can note that I was an agent for change in each one of them. Christmas – fun, and good times were had in the brief moment we had. A trip to a safari park – organised by me, involving a big chunk of the family. A great day out. A trip to a nearby city with J – at my suggestion, and we had a really nice day out.

The rest of the year was just a dark and depressing hole. I increasingly feel like Christmas is a metaphor for life itself: a brief flash of light between two infinitely long voids. But unlike life, Christmas comes back again and again. Never always the same, and each time an opportunity to live it anew. But just like life, distressingly short.

So what of the year? I think I would have to remain on the fence on this one. It was an Average year. It had its depressing bits, and its sad bits (including the death of a client who became a friend: RIP Bob) – but I’m still here. I’ve had some nice times. My family are still around, and struggling on as they always do. But my nephews are getting better, and my sister is getting married.

It wasn’t all bad then.

If there’s been one theme throughout the year, it has, instead, been a simple one. Change. Change for the good, and change for the not so good. I can either sit back and watch it happen around me, and complain bitterly about the things that are changing that I cannot control (politics, other people’s lives), or I can make it happen, one small victory at a time, in my own life.

I just need to remember that all the time. It is not so easy.

Christmas Is Different. In Parts.

Different is not always good, but different is what we have now.

Christmas used to be held upstairs. It is now held downstairs. As children, and even until as recently as five or six years ago, we would all gather around my mum and dad’s bed to open presents. We started getting a bit old for that.

Now we have it in the living room, and for the first time ever last year, my gran came around. Seems strange that she never had before now, she only lives around the corner. Seems really obvious with hindsight, but as usual she didn’t want to be a burden.

This year the quirks of the calendar fell in such a nice way that realistically I had three days off from work before “proper” Christmas began. But I forever tell myself, Christmas is more than a day. So now we’ve reached proper Christmas. But prior to this we’ve been listening to Christmas songs all week, even last weekend attending a Christmas carol concert, wrapping presents, writing cards, visiting people out of the blue. It’s been a full on attempt to make it feel like a really good part of the year with lots of things going on. I have enjoyed it all the more. A little bit different.

J and I blitzed (well, sort of… J doesn’t put huge physical efforts in due to his various illnesses) the office and the house prior to leaving. It didn’t feel like work, but it went fairly well. Things will now be less stressful when we return. We will be able to come back and not worry about the shit tip that is our office. It was starting to become embarrassing when customers visited. J stressed, just like he does every year, that we were doing too much and we should be relaxing, and that we need to leave immediately for my mum and dad’s house, from which I now write this dull reflection.

Another difference this year, I finally met J’s dad and stepmum. It was a chance encounter that came about deliberately. J hasn’t seen his dad for nearly four years. It was time to break the ice, and it was broken via a joint “celebration” of the anniversary of his mum’s death. It was all tragic and sad, as usual, attending the cemetery, but afterwards his dad seemed like it was his best Christmas ever. He was a nice man, and I’m glad to have met him. It all seemed a bit weird and bit awkward, and for some reason I still have this horrible buried part of my psyche that really struggles with being openly a couple in front of others. I doubt I’ll ever get over it. It’s like exposing a dark secret and awaiting people to judge you on it. I suppose I must get over it soon. In reality I don’t think people give a shit. His stepmum seemed as bad as I thought she would be based on what he told me. But it’s over now, and it might get easier…

Different this year too, my brother has lost his job… which is sad because he doesn’t seem to get anywhere in life. He doesn’t get any breaks at all.

Also different – there is a guinea pig next to me squealing away asking for its breakfast. Poor thing.

But mostly, things are the same. I am actually quite grateful of that… I think. My mum and dad are here and OK. Less ill than last year. My brothers are still distant. My older sister is getting on with her life and her family. My younger sister is getting married next year. We’re all jsut getting on with it.

And we’ve had a nice Christmas Eve. No Midnight Mass to wind people up (that is different) and since we got here early we’ve been able to sit around relaxing, listening to music, watching crap TV and laughing and joking with this little portion of the family that’s here. It’s been really nice.

It was nearly time for bed (having made it to midnight, again, very different for me. I thought I’d look in my work e-mails for the final time for a few days at the end of yesterday. Nothing of interest, except someone e-mailing, replying to a quote I had sent three months previous, asking when I would be available over Christmas to carry out a job I’d valued at £10.

Why, I wonder, did this person thing that I might be reading my e-mails at 6pm on Christmas Eve. Why did they think I’d make myself available over Christmas for a shitty £10 job? It’d probably need to be worth more than £1000 for me to even reply. And why… after waiting for three months to reply, did she do it on Christmas Eve?

Some things will never be different.