Is It November Already?

Yes. Yes it is.

I have to get used to the fact that 2014 is fast drawing to a close. In a little over seven weeks time it will be 2015. The year in which I will complete my 30th year on the planet. To think of poor me, sitting alone writing furiously about a dull and depressing life, aged 19, is enough to bring a tear to my eye. I don’t like reading old posts from the past, but they are utterly precious.

There will be plenty of time for reflection this Christmas, particularly as it will be 10 years of blogging, which is a remarkable achievement. I’m so thrilled I have stuck with it.

And Christmas is almost all I think about at the moment. I have booked my tickets to go home, on exactly December 24, and I’m so incredibly looking forward to it. I love it, every single year, that I can feel like I’m 14, or 9, or 16, or 18, or 6, again, and be at home with the family, all together, all safe, all enjoying a successfully navigated year, all – hopefully – enjoying each other’s company, with no worries for two weeks (I like to drag it out…) about work, or school, or money, or depressingly mundane existences.

But that is then. This is now.

November is a sad month, primarily because it is the time by which my spirit and will is finally broken, and I must, at long last, switch the central heating on. I always try to make it into November, but this year was almost no challenge at all due to a remarkably good spell of weather in October. Indeed, I remember the very same a mere five years ago when I first moved here. It was great weather. It’s so much better than home, a mere 150 miles north.

The cold is everywhere. It feels more so at the moment as I am, as I have been for the last year “inbetween coats”. I have not owned a winter coat for about three years. I thought it was time I did so, and have spent a not unsubstantial amount of money trying to achieve it. I wait patiently for it to arrive. Maybe it will be here tomorrow? I hope so. It will be just in time, for the coldness is really setting in. Our first 0 degree night is upon us for the first time since early in the year.

This time of year also tends to lead to a lull. The main IT business carries on regardless, but the other one that I’m part of starts to wane. No one wants to start big projects in December, so the usual preceding weeks, in which projects are planned, are empty. It happened last year. It is happening this year. It worries me as our admin lady has almost nothing to do at the moment. All very disappointing, especially when only a couple of months ago things looked very promising. Suddenly the cupboard is bare.

I always, however, keep my eyes on the future. I have to make progress. The passing of a whole year without any change in my house situation is a strange one. But I may have a new sideline with my business partner. Plans are afoot for a property development fun and games. We shall see.

For now though, I have to plough onwards. I hope I can make it to the end of the year without too many more disappointments. We’ve had enough this year.

(This is post 555 on this blog, woo!)

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29

OK – so I cheated a little bit and got out the Tardis, but with good reason.

My birthday was on this day. The day I have rearranged my post to… it’s always this day. That’s what birthdays are.

As the birthdays go – this is actually my 30th. My actual birth day – in 1985, was my 0th birthday. OK, that doesn’t make much sense, but it was still the day of my birth. Therefore my 1st birthday, in 1986, was the 1st anniversary of the day of my birth. My 2nd birthday. Except I wasn’t birthed at all on the 1st anniversary, nor any other anniversary after that point.

But what I’m saying is that there are now 30 days across the years 1985 to 2014 which contained the date July 9. On each of those days, a celebration of sorts occurred, a celebration which diminished markedly beyond the age of 18… in my case anyway.

If I had to rank those 30 days in order, from best to worst, I am almost certain that this 30th occurrence would be the worst. It truly was utterly, totally, massively dire. I am not exaggerating.

From the moment I got up, when I went “oh yeah, it’s your birthday today” to the moment I went to bed, not a single person in Real Life said to me “Happy Birthday”. This in spite of – this year – actually letting a few people know when my birthday is some time in advance. In fact, it even went up on the calendar in the office, as I made great pains to point out that I would really like to have the day off so I could actually relax for a change.

It didn’t happen. Instead I was dragged from pillar to post, my brain being fried, nearly every hour of the day. I interacted with many people, including colleagues, who forgot, and did absolutely nothing for me.

I left the office about 7:15pm, in disbelief somewhat that the day could have got much worse. In fact, all I did then was go home, eat, then go to bed. I just wanted the day over with.

My neighbour would normally have been around to wish me happy birthday on the actual day – but she was away. I had received a couple of cards, and I did get some well wishes from the family through text – but other than that, nothing actually Real.

One side of me thinks this is just normal. Birthdays are crap. They don’t do anything interesting. Nothing is biologically different in any good way whatsoever. Every part of the body is decaying, and every year just makes that process worse. Fellow humans are also going the same way. That’s drastically bad.

But another side of me thinks that there are only a handful of times a year where you can feel a bit pampered without feeling guilty about it. Christmas and birthdays. I have failed miserably on the latter front.

On the actual life front – life continues. Social life doesn’t exist. Work life is insane. Maybe this time next year it won’t be so bad – but because I have taken action and changed my direction of life altogether by getting employees in, delegating more, strategising more but doing less.

What depresses me most is that I said all of this three years ago. Nothing has changed since then, except life has got even more crammed full with work.

Is there a way out? Not without a personality transplant, I don’t think.

The Readjustment

Every year, post-Christmas, post-New Year, there has to be a re-adjustment. It is that tragic and depressing time when one realises Life Must Continue.

For days I live in denial. The interregnum between Christmas and New Year provides two bookends of protection. During this zone I can comfortably wave away concerns about time-wasting and self-indulgence.

Then you slip across the New Year precipice. New Year’s Day is always an odd affair, filled with tiredness and usually too much food. It allows you to ignore crossing the rubicon. But then the 2nd occurs.

For this year, like most years, the 2nd was a turning point. I had, this year, made a deliberate decision to actually leave my phone off. I have always set my voicemail message to say I’m on holiday, but often leaving my phone on, so people hear it ring and have to wait for the message. But this year, my phone was very firmly off – meaning I didn’t even see, hear or otherwise sense that a caller was waiting.

This made a big difference psychologically.

Until the 2nd, of course.

Because it’s not possible to leave your phone off forever. My phone (a smartphone) is also a leisure device. So switching it on to receive internet to do some Googling or to play some silly games, or download an app, or whatever… inevitably resulted in the receiving of the “you have 15 voicemails” and the deluge of e-mails arriving.

In reality, although my holiday only “officially” ended yesterday, it ended many days ago. I have been trying to deny it for days, but it is now here.

The readjustment usually takes several days. By the end of this week I will be back to 12/13 hour workdays, and no semblance of life or leisure beyond the fleeting glimpses I obtain of a Sunday.

Today I am travelling away from the parental home. I am leaving behind the place where I have spent the last two weeks relaxing and, in the most part, getting away from work. It has worked to some degree. I do feel better, but I also feel dread.

Everyone does. Everyone dreads the return of mundanity, and reality. Life is tedious at the best of times, and utterly, exasperatingly, frustrating due to the nature of the work I do. The nature of constantly dealing with people who are significantly at odds with the technology they use grinds me down. I felt it yesterday when I was on the phone with a customer. I felt the internal rage building, something I haven’t felt for weeks. It’s not good for me. I am an extraordnarily patient person with my customers, but some episodes, especially on your first proper day back at work, just kick you over the edge.

The Readjustment is a horrible time for me. I feel pretty depressed writing this, knowing in a few hours time I will be whisking my way back to the Southern house. That I won’t see my family or relatives for some time again.

Part of me is filled with this woe because, on the whole, Christmas was good. It is depressing that it is all over so soon. That life is now resuming with 50 weeks of incessant drudgery before I can genuinely switch off with no feeling of guilt.

Then the other part of me is telling me this is getting more and more concerning by the year. That we are all now one year older. One year less secure in this world. One year closer to seeing family, friends and relatives no longer with us. One year less biologically able. This was only brought home to me when visiting the home of my grandmother yesterday… a house I’ve not stepped into since my grandfather died.

Time to stop. Before I get so depressed I give up.

And before the phone no doubt rings.

The Disappointment

After all the complaining in my previous post, it rather feels good to be proved right about something bad.

My annoyance was absolutely spot on. Nearly three weeks since, nothing of interest has happened in my life, except for being tortured by certain jobs with certain clients.

But my housemate did indeed find a new job. A job that means he will not be thinking of leaving any time soon. Fucking great.

I am losing my patience and growing a bit tired. A neutral observer might wonder why it is that he is the one that must leave, and not me, which is a reasonable question. But the arguments in my mind are tired and somewhat over-rehearsed, awaiting a confrontation that will never come. I have commitments now in this town. I have a business with reputation and a name. This is an ideal position to work from. And I have no transport at all.

On his side, he has none of that. He also, with his new job, is now significantly well-off enough to surely be able to bugger off and find somewhere else. I pushed the issue a little bit the other day, but he is so stupid I don’t think he understood how disappointed I was to hear that he now has no plans to change living circumstances for some time.

This only coming a few months after a somewhat less than dramatic “meeting” in a coffee shop, where I made it clear I was looking elsewhere because I need my own space. In his mind, he has every right to stay, and it should be me that goes. And that is pretty much impossible. See above.

So where does it all end? Fortunately, over the last few days I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had to worry about it. You can’t beat being completely overwhelmed with work to distract you from the daily nonsense that depresses you when you think about it too much.

But it must end. Does it end by me specifically telling him to go? I feel a bit bad about doing this, especially as we have only just renewed the tenancy agreement. It would almost feel like ripping him off. Although, in my defence, he wasn’t too concerned about that only a month ago when he said he was leaving.

In some ways, I actually want it to be me that ends this ridiculous arrangement. Something about wanting to be in control of my own destiny makes me feel that way. It would also be good to actually say something like that and mean it. But I can’t. Unless things change drastically in the next month or so. And even then, moving on top of Christmas would not be ideal. Moving full stop is not ideal, not when I am trying to juggle so much work-wise.

In other news, the other disappointment in my life is the state of my hair. I haven’t cut it in about five months, and I reckon I probably should as it’s starting to resemble Lego Man hair again. If Lego Man had curls.

I could do with a good night’s sleep. Not had one of those for a while. Might be why someone told me on the phone earlier that I sounded rough. Who knows. And I am starting to fall asleep whilst typing this.

No real surprise though, as I’m doing so while waiting for a virus scan to finish from a customer’s computer, one that has taken me HOURS to fix. The multi-tasking joys of my life.

It’s Always Better At Home

I write this post from my Northern home, the only place in the country I will ever consider to be my real home. I hadn’t been home for about six weeks, so I had definitely been looking forward to this, but – of course – it all rushes by so quickly. Three days gone in the blink of an eye.

I travelled up early on Saturday morning and have spent the past few days in a combination of working and relaxing. I definitely feel happier here, but it is always filled with the melancholy inevitability that it just won’t last. And it won’t. I cannot live here, as there is no work for me. I tried, it was a disaster. And, to be honest, my family were no real help. In fact, they, especially my mum, didn’t believe in me and thought it wasn’t possible.

I have proved that it is possible, but the question I have to answer is whether it is all worth it. Yes, I have made some money, but here I am in my 27th year, still with no possibility of ever affording my own house, no proper friends any more, no girlfriend, in a rather peculiar household arrangement that I despise.

It may seem stupid to say it, as I am still young really, but time is most definitely running out. To afford a house any time soon, I need to be earning double what I currently do, and my income needs to be rising higher and higher each year, if I really am to think I am a real success in life. Anyone can run a two-bit business and make small pocket change out of it.

But that’s when I start despairing, and write posts like my last one. Just what is it all about? What is the actual point? We exist purely because we must, and ending it all is not an option, really. We exist because if we decided to stop our existence, we would cause immense grief to the people who know we are alive.

It’s all just so stupid. But what option do we have?

We exist because we must.

Fortunately, while I am at home, such morbid thoughts are abated for a while. I can occupy myself with busyness and entertaining my family members and doing “useful”  (relatively speaking, since not doing them would not make the universe stop existing) things that make me feel good. As well as playing the piano, which I absolutely love.

So it is always better at home. But like all good things, they must end. Apparently, we are told we must only enjoy good things in small doses, and suffer the rest of the time, so we learn to appreciate the good stuff more.

That is what we told by those above us – who, by the way, generally enjoy a good life 90% of the time – to keep us in our place. Because only a small portion of people can be happy all the time. Us suffering the drudgery and dullness of life is is a necessary condition of them being happy. Capitalism is a zero sum game.

It’s better at home by distraction. Distraction from mundanity.

But mundanity, as it always must, shall soon resume.

It’s Never A Good Time

There never does seem to be a right moment to blog. When I’m busy, it’s no good. When I’m not busy, I start to feel guilty about sitting idle, and then quickly manage to find something to do. When I’m angry – which happens a lot these days – I don’t feel right. When I’m depressed, I fear writing about it only makes things worse. When I’m happy (a precious rarity!), writing about it would distract me from the happiness, and probably only encourage me to overanalyse and forget why I’m meant to be happy.

What an introduction. I remember when I wrote my dissertation, which majored quite heavily on the role of blogging, I did a little background research, which found that the average blogger was a pretty depressed individual. It is a “melancholy medium”. It feels right to me. Confirmation bias, perhaps, but I think those of us who live lives of sweetness and light probably don’t have the right character to write all about it.

But right now, it’s not a good time. I’m generally feeling a bit sorry for myself because I have a cold which hasn’t even got the decency of being a real cold. I might be tempting fate here, but after three days of coughing and having that permanent “just about to sneeze” feeling behind my nose, I’m getting more than a little fed up. I keep wondering whether I’m at the end of it or just the beginning. If it would get worse, at least I would know it can only improve from here. But it just keeps being the same, for 3.5 days now. Irritating.

And life goes on, of course. Business has been generally shit this week. There’s something about the Easter holiday that makes everything go rubbish. I remember it being crap this time last year too. And the jobs I have had have all been irritating in their own special way. As well as harbouring a boatload of customers who waste my time and aren’t worth much.

I need them though. I have a love-hate relationship with my customers of late. All the good ones never come back. The bad ones just keep annoying me. There is one particular one at the moment who paid me double to come out on a Sunday to inspect their laptop. I quoted it, and said I’d have to take it away. They agreed. Every weekend since then, with this being the third, they have arranged and then cancelled my visit to return with the goods at the last minute. I know people aren’t like me, but I just can’t understand: you either want your computer fixing or you don’t. If they didn’t want it fixing, they shouldn’t have called me in the first place, let alone pay me extra for an unusual Sunday call out. All a bit weird, as I like to say.

Then there is the constant depression of being here. I am totally fed up of living with my housemate, but there is no escape. That definitely is never a good time.

But life in general is just never a good time either. I am sick and tired of waiting for good news. For years now, so many of them slipping away in front of me, I am in a perpetual state of “waiting for something good to happen”. The upshot really is that it never does happen, and even when it does, it makes you happy for 5 minutes, and then you start hoping for the next good thing to happen.

Honestly, life is utterly tedious. I have often wondered… I would love to have children, but then it is for purely selfish reasons. There is, actually, no good reason to bring another person into this world. A world of constant suffering, constant struggle, and increasing pressure to spend all your time slaved to the economy without ever really enjoying it.

No. Life has absolutely no purpose whatsoever. This suddenly dawned upon me the other day, when I was in one of my moods. It doesn’t matter if it has intrinsic “purpose” once you’re alive, whereby you can ascribe happiness, and love, and family, and other values to it, and pretend that they make it have some purpose.

There is no purpose at all. There is no extrinsic value to life even existing in the first place. It is a quirk of biology, a twist of fate (which doesn’t exist), and chromosomes, and DNA and other weird stuff that just so happened. It is all a nonsense really, an utter nonsense, and we pretend it all has some meaning, some value, and that we must enjoy it to make it worthwhile.

No. None of it means anything. In 1 billion years time, life will probably not exist anywhere in the universe. And yet the universe will still continue, pointessly, fruitlessly, counter-intuitively.

It’s never a good time around me, I can assure you of that.

 

Weakness And Surgery

This past week, I did something I would never have ordinarily done, but life doesn’t always go to plan.

On Monday night, my brother was complaining of pains in his abdomen. Thinking nothing of it, I went to bed… earlier than normal as I had an early start on the Tuesday morning. But during the night, I woke up two or three times to the sounds of complaints and things happening in the house. From what I could ascertain, it sounded like my brother was being taken to hospital.

I didn’t want to get up because I was desperately tired, and needed sleep critically. Tuesday was to be another of my whirlwind PC repair days, where I have a full day booking for a company which involves a couple of hours travel before and after. In any event, it was all under control, and I wouldn’t be able to help.

I did manage to go back to sleep, but woke up at least two more times, because my brain conspires against me all the time. In the end I got up at 5am, because I needed to get going.

Within about 15 minutes my dad came back on his own, with the news that he’d left my brother at the hospital as they wanted to admit him for an emergency appendectomy. Slightly shocked, I still thought there’s just nothing I can do, though. I should just go to work and ask them to keep me up to date.

I felt fine, but it wasn’t to last. Sitting on a train at 7:30am, I suddenly started to feel incredibly ill. My vision went blurred, and started flashing. I felt tired and extremely warm. I had to undo my jacket and a layer underneath, but it was no good. Next thing I knew the person sitting next to me was tapping me giving me my phone back, which I’d just dropped on the floor. Now, I didn’t drop the phone deliberately, so something made me black out. It must have just been for a couple of seconds, long enough for me drop it…

He then asked if I was OK, but I wasn’t. I said I wasn’t and then proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes holding my head and feeling really sick. I didn’t want to vomit – it was more of a “cannot possibly stay conscious” feeling. But I knew I had to, because going unconscious in public, in a fairly hostile situation (commuters aren’t the most sympathetic of characters) wasn’t an option.

By some miracle I made it to my destination. I recovered slightly, but most of all was so worried about the fact that I couldn’t understand what was going on with me. I am usually healthy all of the time. I rely on being fit on more than average number of days compared to most people to live my reasonably hectic work life. But all of a sudden I was dangerously exposed.

Once I arrived at work I told them what had happened and said I might not last very long. Bravely I tried to work for an hour, but it was no use, and I was soon making my way home. It was horrible and painful, but I did it. Fortunately.

Meanwhile, my poor brother had to undergo his surgery, but, I’m pleased to say, is making a steady recovery. It was a real worry too – and he seems to have had far worse luck than me in life so far on the health front. I went to visit him after the surgery and he looked awful. He is back to his normal self now, but will have to take it easy.

The strain all this put on the family is shocking. Already struggling to cope with what’s going on with my grandparents, my mum could do without any of us being ill as well. I really ought to get myself properly checked out, but last week all I wanted to do was just vegetate. I cancelled my plans, at great loss of income to me, and spent the last five days doing very, very little at all.

I went back to work today, and managed it OK. I still feel very run down, and desperately worried about what’s going to happen. I’ve also now gained a bizarre sense of apprehension: what if it happens again? I’m planning to make the same journey again tomorrow. But now I have to worry that something could go wrong with me – an issue I have never, ever had to consider.

I have always taken my health for granted. I suppose those of us who are healthy do that. But I really do need to try harder on this front. For instance, the week before last I missed evening meal two nights in a row. That can’t be good for me, not considering the amount of energy I need, and the bottomless pit of a stomach I seem to have. Maybe I am the architect of my own downfall…

But as my impromptu “holiday” draws to a close, I am once again filled with depression and foreboding. I don’t want to go back to my work down South, but I have no choice. It is my life now. I should just live with it and try to make it enjoyable.

Just got to get tomorrow out the way first.

Bumping Along

It says a lot that I haven’t had to write much about business in quite a while. I remember writing a good several months ago that, since business was developing nicely, I would no longer write about it, because I felt like I was just saying the same thing over and over again.

But perhaps now I can break that vow. The past few weeks have been… disappointing at best. I sort of hinted at it last time, when I was writing about a leafletting anecdote, but business has been poor.

Of course, poor is a relative term. In comparison to when I first started and ran this business back in my home city, it’s still a success. Back then it really was a disaster. Lucky if I got one job a week. Now one job a week would be a tragedy: largely because success requires a much higher amount of work, and also because of the far more immediate pressures I have in terms of bills to pay.

It’s hard to pin it down. And that makes it even more frustrating. At least in the past when business was poor I could make up an excuse. Back home it was because I did almost no promotional work. Here when it was quiet it was because I hadn’t done enough to establish myself.

But now? I have had hundreds of customers. Word of mouth generation is excellent. My name is out there. My site ranks well in Google. I have an advert in a shop window on a high street. I have an advert in a local newspaper. How could it all suddenly dry up?

So you start thinking more obscure. Maybe all that good weather lately has made people stop using their computers?! Maybe they’re all out gardening. Or perhaps the anti-virus program makers are winning the war at the moment…

It does make me think how sustainable this can be in the long run though. When people are increasingly moving onto platforms that are non-fixable. Smartphones can’t be fixed in any meaningful or cheap way. Laptops are designed to fail, and when they do they go pop and cost a small fortune to fix, so much so that you might as well put that towards a new one.

And then there’s the other side of the coin. The better I do my job, in terms of providing people with the tools and tuition to help themselves, the less they need me. I suppose it’s true in any service industry, though it is counteracted if the market is wide enough to bring in enough customers through wear-and-tear, entropy faults…

So – a little depressing right now. Maybe it’ll all go away, and I’ll be happy again.

But still:  I can’t do this forever. I want to do so much more…