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.

Making A House A Home

My house is a triumph of function over fashion. It looks grim. It has bare walls. It is what an estate agent might called “lightly furnished”. But the minimalist look was hardly what I was aiming for. It just is.

I have never been one for design. The look and feel of things has never really interested me that much. As a technically-minded person, I am more interested in what things do, and how they do it. Aesthetics do have some value, but they are definitely subordinate to the way things work.

But the problem is my view is not shared by the vast majority of the rest of the population. When people visit my house for work purposes, which has a living room that basically doubles as a workshop, many people have been known to comment about the crappy nature of the furnishings. It’s not that it’s in bad order, or dirty; it’s simply… barren.

Most of the time I laugh it off, or make some witty quip about “still living like a student” or “lacks the feminine touch” or whatever. Bachelor pad, in other words. This is made a little easier now that my housemate is no longer hear to overhear my insulting comments.

But it has now come to the stage, where I am living here on my own, that these comments are starting to grate on me. I do need to make this place more liveable.

The main problem is that I have no immediate solution to the number 1 reason behind it all: work. The living room is filled with computer crap, most of which is simply passing through. Some of it needs sorting through to decide whether it’s worth keeping or not. But I can’t escape it. I need it. It is my job. If I don’t have anything here, it means I have no work. And that doesn’t happen these days (thankfully).

In recent weeks my helpful neighbour and friend has donated a number of items to me to help make the house a bit more interesting. A number of these items have had functional value, like plates and cutlery, but some of them are decorative, like a porcelain cat and other strange things. I have it say, I don’t really like them, but I have put them in the room anyway. One for political reasons, and two because, yes, it does break up the tedious, endless empty lines. It forces me to leave spaces clear of computer stuff, and think of them as homely areas, not part of the workshop…

It’s going to be a difficult process. I have started by turning my living room around. I never liked it the old way anyway. In the meantime, it’s even more chaotic than normal. Maybe I’ll get there eventually…

2013

New Year this year was slightly better than last year, but only just. We did manage to have a small family gathering, which was very nice, especially as my grandparents were able to make it, but the depression it fills you with for future years is not good.

On the first of the year, I like to set down some benchmarks as to the year ahead. Last year, I was spectacularly wrong. This year, I am going to be a bit more optimistic.

There is something in me that feels this will be a good year. I am not one for mysticism or other spiritual hocus-pocus, but my business head is telling me that, for a change, I should look upon what’s coming this year with a great deal of encouragement.

First of all, in the next couple of weeks, my household circumstances will change dramatically. My housemate is moving out soon, and when that happens I will finally feel like I have, at last, made it to my “own place”. Everyone wants a little bit of somewhere to call home. In my case, however, I am renting a portion of someone else’s property and calling it mine.

Semantics, maybe, but it doesn’t feel like mine, even though I’ve been there for 3.25 years. 3.25 years that have flown by, and yet it looks like I’ve only just moved in. The living room is full of boxes, and has no homely feel. The kitchen is full of work-related equipment. So is my bedroom. It’s like living in your office all day, every day.

Some of this has been because I have felt like it’s not good to spend money on someone else’s house. And also the fact that, while my housemate was there, it just didn’t feel like mine. The house is full of stuff that isn’t mine and constantly reminds me of that fact, or isn’t in the way I would like it. For instance, behind the front door is about eight pairs of shoes. None of them are mine. They all belong to my housemate. But I can’t be bothered any more arguing over things.

In a couple of weeks time, they will all be gone.

The house situation will ease a huge burden off me. But in the back of my mind I continue to worry that I should spend some time working out when, if ever, I will make an attempt to buy a place of my own. I really ought to. To some degree I think that this should be the year.

But business-wise, there are other considerations. On the 11th January I have a critically important business meeting. If it goes well, it will shape the rest of this year very strongly. It still may take some time to kick in, and in my head I am not really expecting much progress, even if the meeting goes well, but I am keen to feel that there is just a little bit of momentum building at the moment. Momentum that might, finally, make me feel like I have built something that will last.

So I am expecting a positive year from my business. A few decent deals in the bag will secure that. Sounds so simple, but it isn’t, and the work required will be immense. But I must remember not to neglect the customers that put me in this position. I do not want to throw away all the progress that I have made.

In my personal life, I have given up hoping on something good to happen. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but we’ll see. At the back end of the year I had a good conversation with someone, but it will probably go nowhere due to time.

And as far as the family is concerned, it’s yet another big year. Hopefully everyone will continue to progress well, with my brothers getting settled in work and university, and my sisters carrying on with their new family and college respectively. Hopefully my mum and dad will find great comfort from 2013, the year their mortgage ends. And my nephews all do well in their important growing-up phases. My biggest worry remains for my 13 year old nephew. I worry about what this society he’s growing up in is teaching him.

Last night I thought deeply about it. It is now 13 years since the celebrations for year 2000. That has flown by so quickly I can barely believe it.

But believe it I must. Life is so fast, and incredibly fleeting. I really must resolve to enjoy this year much more than I did the last.

Let’s see what happens…

Relocation, Relocation

I am now safely back home. The journey was easy, having done it so many times now. Packing up was surprisingly simple and even saying goodbye to everyone was remarkably tear-free.

So, all in all, it went off without a hitch. And now I’m back home, where much has changed and nothing has changed. The nothing that ever changes is the family, although my youngest brother and youngest sister are getting progressively more moody and teenage-esque. That is mildly amusing.

Also, their computer exploded last night and died a sad death as the power supply blew up. A power supply that is just 14 months old. But old enough to be out of warranty. Piss poor, I’d say. This kind of garbage that passes for merchandise these days is a disgrace. We talk about trying to become more environmental, but you can guarantee that we’ll never succeed while the throwaway society, here today, gone tomorrow mindset is in operation.

Anyway – that means that I have to fix a computer, again. That normally happens when I go home. Boring but predictable.

The thing that has changed is that I now have a new place to live in this house. My parents, knowing I was going to be spending a lot more time here, decided to be very kind and spend a bit of their savings on converting the loft. I have to say, apart from learning to duck my head in various parts of the room, it is a pretty good job the workmen have done. I like it. Slowly but surely my stuff is being unpacked and I’m stamping my personality on the room. It is, basically, my own bunker, except it’s not in the basement. It’s much more like the student rooms I’ve been used to the past few years, which would have all my stuff in.

The money my parents have spent makes me feel guilty though. I can’t possibly afford to give them much towards it. I’ve bought a few pieces of the furniture to keep their costs down a bit, but it’s a drop in the ocean. My brothers are particularly envious. They would have liked to have been up here. And, we have to face facts, if I leave home next year then that will effectively be the end of its use because everyone else has their own room now.

So I don’t quite know how I can repay them. I’m hoping to get a job in the next couple of weeks which will perhaps provide a couple of hundred pounds compensation to them. Maybe I could get them a good anniversary present. Hmm…

Meanwhile, a foreboding letter has arrived from my PGCE teacher training course. That will have to be dealt with shortly. It’s told me what I’m going to be doing the next year, and, as expected, it is absolutely crazy the amount of work involved. Maybe they should make it two years long to ease the pain.

Oh, and the dog is still a moron. That’s something else that doesn’t change.