Where Do We Go From Here?

As the days turn to weeks and months, just tumbling from the calendar, I begin to wonder again what it is I want from life.

I am happy with my partner. It has brought a new dimension of contentment to life. But it has brought itself other worries. Money is never far from the equation; there just isn’t enough of it. A year ago I was earning about £3.5k net per month, if not better some months. These days it’s more like a few hundred pounds, and most of that is going to my partner. Not that he needs lots of money, but it’s just a more efficient way of dividing income. The tax advantages of partnership.

But as someone who was used to seeing regular steps forward, I now have a different perspective on life. It is now more like a single block of shitness, one month to the next, and then moving forward in one great leap. The trouble with this new model is I find it hard to keep myself motivated day by day…

I still worry that am going to change my mind one day, or decide that what I really need is my independence back, or, more probably, find myself completely bored of everything once again and find some desperate way to institute a change.

Right now I catch a fleeting few minutes of time on my own in the office. I am never without my partner. He is here in work with me. He is at home with me. We go out together everywhere. We just never leave each other’s side. I actually love it. It’s like us being a tag team for everything. I never thought I’d find constant contact so enjoyable.

But it probably isn’t healthy long-term. I leave the room for too long and my partner gets stressed. Vice versa is mostly true too, though I think I have a more balanced view on things. Mostly, the trouble is because my partner is a bit insecure about himself, his looks, etc. He feels the need for affirmation on a daily basis, and on bad days, more often…

I don’t know whether this will end badly. I am not at all unhappy with it right now. A tiny bit of me is sad that I never did achieve the sexual freedom that I longed to do so whilst I was “on the market” – but, then again, all I need to do is remind myself of the tragically dumb ways in which I handled my emotions back then, and suddenly I decide the grass is definitely greener on my side of the fence.

This is what my life is right now. It feels like I’ve reached a point where I could stay for a little while, but there are so many things that are actually just a little bit disappointing. Work. Life. Sex. Rest. Holidays. Partner. Money. Family. Truth. They are all things that are letting me down in some way…

I can ignore them all for now. But some of them will need to improve.

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10 Years of Blogging

10 years ago today, I sat down for the first time at my computer and decided it was time to join the blogging community. Not that blogging was a community in any sense. But, at the time, blogs were big, and everyone who was everyone was writing about their lives in a long form.

Nowadays, hardly anyone does. In reality, no one ever had the patience to read endless, tedious discussions about random people’s lives. Hence the inevitable success of the short form, in Twitter and in other social media, though to a lesser extent.

However, to me, it was never about the audience. It was all about me. It was all about writing down the thoughts I have always had in my head but never really committed to. Now there is no getting away from it. There are over 560 posts and counting to testify that.

And it is incredible. I do occasionally click the “random post” button above. It’s the best way to explore what happened in the past. I really enjoy reading back on what I thought about events at the time. A great majority of them I don’t even remember… which goes to show how so many things are seen as really important at the time, but in the end don’t even stick around in the memory. But that is good, because it just goes to show how much things you forget…

I write now from the same place I’m sure I did last year, no more than a couple of metres from when the whole thing began 10 years ago. I arrived after having a sudden attack of illness this morning, which, I’m pleased to say, is clearly fading quick. Which is good. I had been on the decline since Monday morning, with some sort of cold/flu thing. It smacked me hard this morning… stopping me from even getting out of bed. Totally unlike me. I finally made it out around 10am. I can’t remember the last time I ever slept that long.

The past few days in work have been horrendously busy. Not what I wanted in the run up to Christmas. I’d probably say the whole month in general has been such hard work and unnecessarily stressful. I feel like I can relax now, hundreds of miles away from it, but it will be back with all its associated woes on the 29th.

What matters, though, is that I have, for now, four uninterrupted days, where I can just park up all that crap and think of nothing other than our family festivities. I write this now in the middle of the family, as we often do on Christmas Eve, talking nonsense, catching up, and watching Christmas songs on TV. Kind of ironically, but also because we do enjoy it. It’s something that I started about four years ago, because I thought we should have things like this to remember. Too often we spend all the time on our own, doing our own things. This event, while wholly optional, has kind of become our tradition. Usually because I come home on this day, so if I sit here most people will want to hang around as they haven’t seen me for a while.

I think I’ll write separately on what’s changed between now and 10 years ago. For now though, it’s just enough to say that I’m home safely, and the Christmas festivities are under way. Here’s to a good few days.

Merry Christmas.

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!)

Out The Other Side

I am pleased to say that after almost three weeks of non-stop work on the project I talked about two posts ago, we are coming towards the end of it.

It has been a difficult life for some time anyway, but I do now feel like we can look forward to better times…

Being on the other side of such a project is often an interesting feeling. You think that you’ve worked incredibly hard, and you’re proud of your efforts (usually) and the coming financial reward for it also makes you feel like it was worth it.

But, if you’re anything like me, with no real job security and no possible alternative, your joy is short-lived. The immediate question, the one posed by Jed Bartlett so often in The West Wing: what’s next? – springs straight into your consciousness.

I wish my brain activity towards things like this – a near-permanent state of activity – was matched in the physical realm, which is, these days, an increasingly longer and longer time spent in front of the computer screen. I didn’t think that was possible, but it is. I could now be in front of a screen for 15 hours a day, on and off. That can’t be healthy.

Something else which isn’t healthy is my diet, which I’ll probably come back to in a different post.

Emerging from this tunnel-like gloom, which was deepened by the Hair Crisis of September 2014, one immediately begins to see another tunnel. What we’re currently in is the brief glimpse of light prior to going back in again.

I write this post, freezing cold, in my home. I haven’t written a post at home for ages… mostly instead writing them in sheer repetitive strain agony on the train. This is much easier, except for the cold. Did I mention it’s cold? I’m not sure how we instantly went from summer to winter, but it was around about this time last week. There, too, we are out on the other side. I buried my head in the sand for the last month, basking in September’s warmth, with the continued t-shirt wearage. It came to a crashing halt last week, and it’s not coming back.

But I must resist the lure of the central heating. The energy companies, too, want me on the other side, but it is too soon. Last year I survived until November before first use. I must do the same this year. It costs too much to heat such a small space. The difference for them is that we are currently out in the sunny outdoors, but know we are hurtling straight long into a six month long tunnel of frigid gloom. Are we allowed to use that word any more in that context?

Who knows. Who cares. Language is fun.

Alas, it is early morning on a Sunday, and I’m wide awake. I also have to go into work in a few hours so that we can stay on top of things. Rubbish.

I don’t care much for what I’ve found on the other side after all.

Still, only 73 days until Christmas

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.

Marching On

I am cheating here. I know I thought about posting many times during the month and didn’t. Now I’m going back in time a couple of days and posting in there…

There has been good reason though. I can genuinely say it must have been the busiest month of my life. I’ve never worked so hard for so long without a break, on all fronts of life.

Work is busy on both sides. My business is very busy and the other business that I’m a director of is also massively busy. This creates a tension as there are only so many hours in the day.

It also creates a tension as I have been essentially bankrolling the other business from my personal business since December. It was always with a hope that a day would come when I would get it all back, but in recent months, as my directors loan grew larger and larger, I was starting to really worry.

I am pleased to report that on Friday we received our largest ever remittance. I’ve never seen the like… Over 25k in one go. Happily, this was enough to make a dent in the company’s debt to me. And there is a similar amount still to come.

It’s a partial relief. We need another three months of this to turn the corner. So far we have it, but my business partner is again wanting us to spend money. He is right, as we must continue to build our infrastructure but it pains me that I’m getting nothing out of my business loans. Not yet anyway.

Meanwhile my personal life is approximately 0%. In the last few weeks I have been getting up early, getting complicated stuff done in the peace and quiet, then spending all day in the office, then going home to do even more work in the quiet of the evening. That is not a life.

The only good thing I did do was last Saturday night when I helped a friend put on a concert. This was great as I always enjoy helping out behind the scenes at events. I wish I had time to do more things like that. The concert itself was a triumph, and behind the scenes we did well. I’m forever impressed by people younger than me with their technical ability. Much respect to the couple of teenagers who did 75% of the setup for the staging, lighting and sound.

I’m sure I have more grey hairs now than ever before. My mum says I need to get married before it’s too late. Frankly, and this is quite sad, I don’t even have the time. Bizarrely for others, it just doesn’t actually bother me…

The Early Mornings

I have always been one of those individuals who doesn’t like sleep. OK, it does make me feel better, and generally is a good way to put distance between yourself and a shitty day, but my appreciation of it lies purely on a functional level.

As such, I don’t ever “lie in”. I don’t know what such a thing is. For me, there is an optimal amount of sleep, and it lies somewhere between 7 and 8 hours, and that’s it. When I’ve reached it, I’m awake, and can’t go back to sleep. My brain gets restless and agitated, and starts stressing that any longer does nothing for me, and I could be getting on with a, no doubt, busy day.

I used to get by on a lot less sleep when I was in college, regularly surviving on 6 to 7 hours, and it made no difference to me. My theory of sleep is that your body adjusts to whatever you throw at it; as long as it’s not regularly under 6 hours, you’ll live, and not suffer too much.

This attitude to sleep is what I call “pragmatic minimalisation”. Sleep, once its brain optimisation functions are completed, is a barrier to life. Taken to its extreme, I would sleep as absolutely little as possible. But I recognise that would cause me harm over the medium and long term. Hence “pragmatic”. See, I don’t just make shit up.

This approach is now ruling my modern life, but in a brand new way for me.

The new life pattern has become starting every day at 5am. Yes, 5 o’clock. I have always loved the early mornings, but this is quite something. Since about November, I have decided to get up at this crazy hour… and not really for any apparent reason. I live 15 minutes from my place of work. I have no reason to do this. I could realistically get up at 8am, and still get into work for 9am.

But that needs to be put in context. I work for myself. I also work for another business, which I’m a director of. Both of these jobs require immense amounts of my time and concentration. And they are exhausting, frequently involving work beyond the “traditional” 5pm finish of most other businesses. And, my IT business generates hassle at all hours of the day. Even when I don’t answer the phone, I still get angry when someone calls me at 7:30, 8, 8:30pm… it still makes me think of work, and wonder what it could possibly be. This is painful, and can go on and on, even after I’ve gone to bed (between 9 and 10pm) on some unusual evenings.

Except. Except there is one time of day when people don’t call me. Ever. Mainly because they are safely tucked up in bed.

And that’s the early morning.

I can safely say that I have never received a call from a customer between 5am and 8am. And even then, the number of calls between 8am and 9am is extremely low, relative to the rest of the day.

This creates an incredible respite. A time of the day during which I know I will not be distracted. A time of day I know names won’t appear on my phone, or the adrenaline rush of the office phone ringing will send my concentration out the window. I haven’t had this for some time. Other people can get home from work and switch off, knowing they are done for the day. But I can’t. The e-mails keep coming, the phone can keep ringing, the texts do flow.

Yet none of that happens in the morning. It means that from 5am until pretty much 9am, I can, and often do, do my own thing. I like to get up and make a cup of coffee, something I have never done in my life. I can feel relaxed, and not rushed in the morning. I can even put some washing on, do some cleaning, listen or watch a TV or radio show I’ve missed.

But more often, I can do a little bit of work, knowing that I will be able to knuckle down for 1 to 2 hours, without distraction, and get it done. This can give me an incredible sense of achievement. Which makes me feel like the day starts well, and hopefully carries on that way. OK, it invariably doesn’t go that way, as the ceaseless calls and e-mails during the day push me in dozens of different directions.

But at least I get a few hours of me time.

I like it. And now the mornings are getting lighter, it’s only going to get better towards the spring and summer.

We’ll see how long it lasts…

 

Fourth Quarter, 2013

It’s hard to believe the year is nearly over. This year has disappeared without trace, in a blaze of constant work.

I can honestly say that since the last time I wrote, on the 1st of September, I haven’t stopped working. Except for maybe snatching a couple of hours here and there to watch X Factor. Or eat. Sometimes I forget to do that.

I write today in relative tranquillity. There is nothing pressing, work-wise, to do. This makes me feel less guilty about having a “quiet” Sunday. Sunday, my favourite day of the week. But I have had to call into the new office first thing, just to get some minor tasks accomplished. This has been tolerable, but I don’t like to do it often.

The whole point of getting the office – of going there to work, and not do any work at home – has been breached a number of times. But, on the whole, it does work. It does make sense. Best of all, it stops people coming to my house. My house is now not a shop front… no more do I have to worry about inviting people into my home. No more do I have to worry about what items are on display, or what state I’ve left the living room. Or whether people can infer things about me from my total lack of liveability in the so-called living room.

It’s worth it alone to stop listening to people saying things like “this is definitely a bachelor pad!”. It’s not that I necessarily care what they think (it does rankle a bit…) but it does make the next 10 seconds of the conversation totally awkward. What is one supposed to reply with, when smashed in the face by a visitor with a “witty” barb like that?

The flip side of that is that, with the constant work, it has meant that I’ve neglected my house a bit. Now it’s easy to go out and lock the door on the crap held inside. It doesn’t tend to bother me. I have always been a bit “messy” – which is bizarre for someone who enjoys with organising and analysing things.

Such apparent contradictions, though, are easily explained by the bachelor nature of my life.

What comes next before the end of the year? Who knows. Every week brings a new challenge. Maybe if I remember, I will write up a bit about the latest one, involving our new employee.. deep joy.