Changing of the Guard


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handwritten for your amusement.

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more of my spider scrawl

Furious New Year


We’re now into the second week of 2013. Most years, January is to December is to November and November is to October, and so on. This year, though, is palpably different. There are huge differences in my life now, compared to a year since. I’m coming into the year with a little less optimism, a little less spring in my step. 2012 was a year of facing up to the real truth, and oh man was it scary. The reality of….well, reality, I suppose. It came and didn’t so much take me out of my comfort zone as blow my comfort zone to kingdom come.

There has been a troublesome trend recently to begin a new year with a larger than strictly necessary dose of reality. This year, I spent the lead up to Christmas trying to come to terms with the loss of my Grandmother (Nan Kay, my Mum’s Mum). When my Dadcu passed on in April, it was hard to accept because he had been, perhaps not in good health, but certainly in better spirits than he’d been in for some time. In my memories, he has been unwell since I knew him, but so vital and full of life. Never was there a man with such a cheeky grin when slipping me £5 and saying “Now don’t tell your Grandmother!”.

Then, inevitably, some time later my Nan would catch me and do the exact same thing, “don’t tell Dadcu,” she’d say with a chuckle. I think they both knew, but it was more fun that way. Dadcu was a fisherman and a Navy man. He had flags on his coffin and they played The Last Post as he burned. My Nan Kay, who always knew what to do, took him out to sea one last time, on the lifeboat that he was an avid supporter of. Shortly after that, she  suffered  what at the time appeared to be a stroke, but was actually misdiagnosed [name of rare brain problem that I can’t remember]. Nothing has ever pushed me closer to moving back to Wales, but I didn’t. I sent her cards, not as often as I should have done but it was all I could manage.

The most heart-breaking part of it all was that she seemed to be improving for a while. Then it all changed, the progress she’d made fell away and left her nude and unprotected. We’ll never know if she was in pain after that, or if she was still the same person inside. We will never be able to tell whether it was harder for her or for my Mum. Nan Kay lived until December. I can only hope she’s resting now. She never really got the hang of resting.

Lightning storm image

Fury.

It’s difficult to do so, but looking beyond that I learned a lot in 2012. I learned a lot of harsh truths about friendships and how fragile they can be. I learned what it’s like to work full time in an environment that is really foreign to me (an office), earning enough to pay the bills but almost nothing beyond, and the value of staying because the job, the company and the other people there are all great. I learned that no matter how keen I am about them, stupid ideas remain stupid ideas. I learned that no, not everything IS fair in love and war. I learned a healthy new fury at the current government. I learned that you can’t sit about all day and eat junk food and maintain a size 8-10 figure. I learned I don’t trust people as much as I thought I did. I learned that there’s a proper medical term for the type of insomnia I’ve had for the last few years. Much more besides.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. I do take the start of the year as an opportunity to assess myself and often, to give myself a good talking to. This year, I was sterner than usual. I may not be starting the new year happy, but I’m fierce. I may not be convinced but I’m determined. I may not be perfect, but dammit I’ve got to keep trying to be.

Skillful self improvement


When you consider the realms of opportunity afforded by this prompt, saying ‘better self-management and prioritisation’ probably sounds a bit lame, but seriously, that’s what I need right now to really get on with stuff.

Knowing how to make myself get on with stuff when all I want to do is press my face against the glass and watch the rain would be a very handy trick.

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If you could choose to learn any skill in the world, what skill would you choose to learn?

Back From the Nearly Living


So earlier in the week, I linked a post from my plinky archive on a whim. I love plinky, the format is ideal for me (small, directed pieces) and the prompt in question (sea or sky and why?) ended up with quite a nice little answer. Putting it into the blog only took a click of a button.

The response I got was pretty surprising; likes, follows and page views sprung from no-where and hopped, all bunny-eyed over my internet. New followers aren’t something I thought such a dusty, rarely updated trifle would get, especially from such a little snippet of a post!

Startled Owl

I was this surprised.

So I want to take a second to thank everyone who came and read what I’d written. I use writing these days as a way to examine and structure my own thoughts on a topic, which makes it all quite internal. I didn’t think it would appeal to people who don’t know me personally.

In the last month I have (to borrow a cliché) risen from the ashes. I spent exactly two years unemployed, to the day, and those two years changed me. Of course, I was consumed with self-loathing for most of that time, to the point where, alongside my love I began to find disgust in how I felt for my boyfriend simply for his insistence that he wasn’t going anywhere.

It’s only recently though, since I started the job I got via an apprenticeship scheme, that I realised how insular, lazy and selfish I’d become. I was resentful of the world for the sheer audacity it displayed in its continuing to exist. Incredulity when people acted as though I was still valid. It was as though I’d regressed to the age of sixteen and dyed my hair black. Maybe my next move would have been carving words into my arm with a compass.

I’m not back to being the person I was before the Big Black Dog joined the team. I doubt I ever will be that person again; how could I be? I feel as though I am beginning to fit in to the life of the adult I have created.

Clinging on to life.

It had been so long since I smiled like this guy.

Even beyond that, there are times when I realise I still have similar logs burning as I did when I felt like my smile could carry the world. At the job interview, a question, or perhaps a statement from the guy interviewing me (now my boss and director of the company) almost seemed to unbind a ribbon, allowing it to fly in the wind again.

We talked about continued learning and the flaws in a traditional boss/employee paradigm (a risky subject for a job interview I know) and I knew the gleam I could see in his eyes; it was the one which had just returned to my own.

Walking along the spine (a partially-covered walkway on Lancaster university campus) in the rain and I’m cold, tired and hungry. A woman around the same age as me stops to put down her shopping bags. One of them is beginning to split and she is flexing her hands in a way that tells me the bags are heavy.

I offer to help and she politely declines but I insist that I’m in no hurry. We walk back to her flat and she says it’s almost like a sign. “I stopped believing in angels,” she said “but maybe I should start again.” When we arrive at her building, she invites me inside for a drink but it’s my turn to politely decline. At that moment there was nothing in the world I could have wanted.

As I made my way down the stairs I called up and behind to her, ” I just hope that one day when you get the chance you pass on the favour.” I hope she does. The gleam in my eyes must have been like a floodlight.

Inspire

Too true.

The world is not perfect. I am not perfect. But I have started trying again.

In essence, what I really want to say is thank you. Thank you to anyone who reads this. Thanks for using some of such a precious resource (time, what else?) to humour me. Thank you, everyone who read and enjoyed my last post, and to those who read but didn’t enjoy.

Most of all, thank you to the people who are still here. Storms are hard to weather, but I think the clouds are dispersing. I think I can see the sun again.

Going crazy. In the face.


So. As of Monday, I will officially be working two jobs in an effort to claw myself out of my overdraft. The one in the Weatherspoon’s kitchen, and then one 13 hours a week selling shoes in Shoe Zone in Lancaster. I am psyched to start the new job – I can do this job. I worked in Stead and Simpson’s for a year while I was in sixthform. The two shops are owned by the same overall company. The pay is less than in Weatherspoon’s, but it’s going to be less work. Working in ‘Spoons is, for lack of a better word, harrowing. Being on your feet for stints of up to 10 hours in one go just isn’t fun. And yeah, I know that work is work and it isn’t meant to be fun, but having a job that stresses me out as much as the ‘Spoon’s one wasn’t healthy. So getting to do much less of it is awesome.

The tricky part is going to be juggling what shifts I get where, so I’m not working a ridiculous combination of hours. If both sets of management could sort rotas out enough in advance it’d be great, but alas, I am yet to know when I’ll be working in spoons next week. If only I could get set hours, standard each week.

Hopefully, this means that I’ll be bringing enough money home to get out of my overdraft, and climb slowly into the positive numbers. Each penny I save brings me closer to achieving what I outlined in my last post.

I’m still looking for and applying for jobs, too. Ideally I’d have two part time retail jobs. The Body Shop are hiring at the moment – I’d love to be able to have that job and the Shoe Zone one and tell ‘Spoon’s where they can stick it. So I’m still keeping my beady eye open on the look out to see what I can spot. Anyone knowing of anything going, let me know!

In other news, things with Chris and me are going well. We’ve become ‘Facebook Official’ now, though we were officially a couple long before we got round to changing our statuses on FB. He’s away at Download until Monday, and I miss him. I see this as a good sign.

Been really spending a lot of time with friends from RocSoc recently, it’s great. Having two separate sets of friends and then seeing them merge as I invite them all to various things, like the BBQ we had a few weeks ago. I love seeing new friendships form amongst people that I like. The overlap of people is growing and it pleases me.

Time for a Jammie Dodger. Bye, folks.

Stepping off the edge.


I’m sure a lot of you will have heard me ramble on about this before, but I want to start my own business. For a long time it’s what I’ve wanted to do. When I was younger I looked up to , my wonderful, hardworking and dedicated mother. She took a huge risk and picked up a failing business (a Newsagent in a small, seaside village), dusted it off and turned it into her livelihood for several years. The shop has been closed for a while now, the recession biting at the heels of a stumbling business, already trying to deal with other problems, such as competition and people.

Now, I don’t want to follow directly in her footsteps. I don’t want to become the proprietor of a newsagent or sweetshop in a village. I want to run my own successful internet cafe. It would be more than just an internet cafe – it would specialize in LAN gaming and online gaming. Ideally there’d be the opportunity for me to run Friday Night Magic there, too. But I don’t want a small, dark, grotty basement. I want a shop where non-gamers would also feel comfortable coming and browsing the internet with a cup of coffee for an hour.

My idea came from visiting Swansea one day when I was in 6th form and missing a train home. I needed something to do for two hours to kill time before the next train home, and so I went into Crossfire. They have 56 computers there, 15 for web browsing and 41 for gaming. They are all networked together and they all have super-fast broadband.

I want to spread this wonderful idea. I want to bring it to Lancaster. I can almost see it – casual internet cafe/coffee shop in the day, hardcore gaming lair in the night.

There is already somewhere in Lancaster that offers this service, but I’ll give anyone who can name the place and the location 50 points. They operate in a small, slightly underground and very unappealing premises. I went there last year so I could play WoW alongside someone (damn campus rooms having only one internet connection) and they told me that their computers weren’t equipped to deal with WoW and their internet connection couldn’t deal with it either. Competition, of a sorts, but I’m convinced I could do it better.

The main hurdle I have is money. Of course it is – so many people would do so much if money wasn’t a worry. Premises, utilities, equipment – it’s all expensive. Also, technical knowledge – I don’t know the first thing about computer networks. The thing is, this idea has been plaguing me for four years now. I can’t make it go away. I can hide it in a cupboard for a while, but eventually it’ll find the handle on the inside and be out there again, nagging and niggling at me. So much so, in fact, that I’ve bought a ‘Start your own business’ book, and am writing this LJ post for people to comment on my idea.

I want, maybe more than anything, to be in Lancaster with the people that I care about and love. I’m having doubts about university – I’ve already made two goes at it, why should the third be any more successful? I want to do something that interests me, that makes me feel like I’m giving a service to satisfied customers. I want to get to know my regular customers and I want to be in control of something Big. Something Important (to me at least).

At the moment, just musings and ideas, but ones that won’t go and sit on the shelf like obedient ideas – ones that really want playing with and exploring and testing. Stay tuned to hear more in the future.

Downtrodden.


I’ve gone back to struggling. Every time I get into the getaway vehicle, the depression will throw out a stinger trap and stop me in my tracks. Get out of the car, go back to the lot and find a new vehicle.

I thought I was doing well recently, but it seems like I’ve just gotten better at fooling myself. Everything seems to be a short term solution. I’ve started work, as most of you know. I’m a kitchen bitch at Weatherspoons. They have me doing nine hour shifts on a regular basis. It’s very hard work because it requires you to be standing for the entire time. You also need to have hands of fireproofness in order to get up the speed and efficiency that the longer serving staff can manage. I feel useless most of the time, and I just want to quite. I don’t like the job. I’m terrified to quit though, since my friends enjoy going to that Weatherspoons quite a lot, so I’d miss out on a lot of social events because I’d not be able to show my face there. I know that if I quit, I’d be disappointing a lot of people too, people with faith in me, people who believe I can do it. I need the faith of these people.

The job is really exhausting me though, in a way I never thought it would. I leave work after each shift feeling useless and pathetic. I’m not sleeping well again, and whenever I eventually do get to sleep, it’s usually with tears on my face.

Usually, I love Darkside (not so much the music but the people and the atmosphere) but this weekend, after going to the effort of borrowing money off people to pay my entry price, I really didn’t have a good time at all. I felt self conscious about what I was wearing, dancing was wearing me out, and I was very claustrophobic. I usually love dancing, whether the dancefloor is jam-packed, or if I’m the only one on it, but being surrounded by so many moving bodies really made me feel…panicked, nauseous and afraid. I spent some time sitting at the back, sobbing into [info]theglaivemaster . I’m not coping with anything very well at the moment, and I just want to get back to normal, happy, stubborn Alice, who takes everything into her stride. I thought for a while that it would happen sometime soon, but apparently not – this ‘healing process’ seems to be taking a lot longer than I expected.

Another reason I can’t quit the job – I need the money. I need it to live. Going back to Wales and living at home isn’t something I’d cope with. I need to be near my friends and my doctor. I’m on the waiting list for CBT, but I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I’ve been feeling pretty disconnected from my family recently too, not having heard from home very much in quite a while.

All I want to do at the moment is hang out with Sam and Simon and play games and chat shit about nothing. I don’t want any responsibilities, I don’t want any stress. I just want to get better, and nothing feels like its getting me there, nothing feels like it’s helping. I want to be able to curl up at night and go to sleep easily, not to lay there convincing myself that there is something worth waking up for in the morning, because that is getting increasingly difficult.

Anyone who’s interested, next week I’m working Tuesday 12 – 9pm, Thursday 6am – 12, Friday 11 – 8pm, and Saturday 4 – 11pm. This means I will be missing both the LURPS meetings and the social :(.  I don’t know how many of those shifts I’ll get through. Doctors appointment on Tuesday, hopefully he’ll have some words of wisdom for me. (Hopefully those words won’t be ‘man up’)

At least the house isn’t constantly cold through at the moment. Though it’s unpleasant lately, since I’ve been too apathetic to do any tidying for a while so my room’s a shithole.

Also, my rats are vicious little bastards and Peter just bit me on the nose 😦

More decisions


I did something random today. Something spontaneous. I’ve been considering it for a while but I’ve been too scared, but on Sam’s encouragement went for it. You’ll all find out when next you see me in the flesh.

I also tried to get in touch with my ex. I want to explain things to him, and I want him to explain things to me. We need to talk – I need closure. As a favorite band of mine said “It’s getting kinda creepy just nursing this ghost of a chance, the fictional romance”

I have made more decisions – some of you are going to think I’m crazy, especially those of you who knew me last year before I joined LURPS. After all the talk of intercalating, I got to thinking of university and courses and whatnot. So when I come back in October after my intercalation and summer time, I’m going to be doing a new subject – philosophy. I wanted to do philosophy and maths but they need maths A-level to do that – something that I don’t posses.

I know it just seems like I can’t focus on a single subject, but it’s not like that at all. I have several reasons for this, each as good as the next.

Mainly, I’ve always wanted to do philosophy. I wanted to do PPE when I first came to university, but my step-dad (who graduated from Oxford with a 1st in combined sciences and was my only source of university related wisdom) snubbed the course as something that idiots who don’t know what they want to do with themselves do. He then went on to say that philosophy teaches you a lot of interesting quotes but you don’t learn to think for yourself. So I ended up doing economics, politics and marketing instead. I hated marketing. Truly despised it to the depths of my being. The only way to get rid of it was to withdraw entirely and reapply to something that was as far away as possible from marketing. This led me to Biological Sciences with Biomedicine. This turns out to be far more stress and far different to what I thought it would be. Far too much practical stuff, not enough of the interesting theory stuff.

I have sorted myself out a job with bodybag_pilgrim for my time off, too. Doing the Fantomaster editing stuff. It pays well and is low-stress.

Even though things appear to be looking up, my mood stays low. I am sick of this internal, physical feeling of sadness and guilt and the feeling that I have like I’m always on the brink of tears. I’m sick of it, I want it to go away. I STILL haven’t been refered to the NHS mental health specialists by the doctor. He wants to give me another three to four weeks on the higher dosage medicine before considering that. Bah.

I don’t have much else to say.