Every day at work I plumb new depths of disengagement that I didn't know existed. But I still can't motivate myself to look for a new job. I talked at length about this with the psychologist. To my mind there are three reasons why I can't get my A into G:
1. Planning anything or thinking about the future only makes me feel worse.
2. Because I don't know anybody, my job prospects are reduced by 70%. The only channels available to me are newspapers and websites like Seek - any jobs that I could possibly apply for on that site will get about 582 applicants so I'd be wasting my time applying, and even if I did get the job it would likely be just as depressing as my current one.
3. I feel I should be grateful to have any sort of job right now, even a depressing one.
Much of my reasoning is irrational. For the sake of my long-term mental health, I really must look for a new job. The process might be painful, but it's a case of short-term pain for long-term gain.
You could say Gran is a survivor. In her thirties severe depression made her life a living hell. In those days she couldn't just "bump up her Efexor" like I can - she had to resort to such treatments as ECT. After Grandad died from Alzheimer's in 1999, Gran started blacking out for no apparent reason. On one occasion she flew out to see me in France and passed out on the plane. It was found that her heart stopped beating in these episodes, so she got a pacemaker fitted, in an operation that took five hours and nearly killed her. Last year when I saw her she was in a bad way after suffering a small stroke, but somehow she keeps bouncing back.
On Saturday I felt better than I have for at least two months. My grandma wasn’t dying after all, spring was in the air, and I didn’t have to study for any stupid exams. In the morning I played tennis with Bazza. I wasn’t expecting much. When I faced two set points on Bazza’s serve at 5-2 and 40-15 in the first set, I was expecting even less. But I clawed my way back from the brink, eventually winning 7-6 (7-4), 6-2. Afterwards I realised how much my mood affects everything I do, tennis included. In the first seven games I was spraying unforced errors all over the place; had it been the previous Saturday I’d have bashed my head with the frame of my racket, lost all capacity to think straight, and undoubtedly been on the wrong end of a 6-2 6-1 thrashing, not that I would have cared.
After tennis I did my Italian homework, spent some time on my puzzles, then went out for dinner with Julie – it was a complete rip-off (that’s one reason why I rarely eat out) but it was good to catch up with her. Yesterday I had the French club – I spoke more French than I normally do, largely because I was in a better-than-average mood.
Tonight was my weekly Italian class. I’m doing reasonably well with my Italian – it’s satisfying to feel that I’m good at something. It’s a shame I only get that feeling for two hours a week; for the entire forty I spend in the office I feel the exact opposite. The trick is not to let that affect all other aspects of my life.
Mum is flying up to see me on Wednesday. I’ve seen more of my parents this year than I have for at least five years. That’s partly because air fares have come down but mainly because they’re worried sick about me.
It's a small thing that we can do; it's a powerful thing. I still feel a strong connection to a family I've never met, a man I'll never know. I will always remember Christopher Paul Slattery.
Won't you give one day of your blog to remember someone who should never be forgotten?
I have finally found the perfect book club! It meets regularly, interesting books are chosen, the discussion is lively, the atmosphere is relaxed, and libations are served.
My mom comes over every afternoon at 3:00; we fix a margarita (or something else) and get in the pool; after a little chit-chat, the book discussions begin. We haven't been reading the same books, but we're both just so glad to have someone to talk to about what we've been reading. Each of us gets quite excited about the book du jour; the other listens either with a giggle and a smirk (no, Mother, I really don't need to read it myself) or with thoughtful responses and interested questions.
I've been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, and I always have something new to say about it. Mother's being quite patient with me because it's taking forever for me to read, simply because my quiet reading time is limited. But she's also as interested in it as I am and is glad for me to distill the main points for her. By the way, everyone should read this book. I'd been hearing about it for a few years, but I resisted picking it up -- I think I knew that reading it would demand something of me. Having read this book, I must change the way I shop for food, and not all the changes will be easy.
Mother has been reading mostly nonfiction: Jacob Bronowski, Joseph Campbell, Teillhard de Chardin, Arthur Koestler -- really fascinating stuff that I don't want to read for myself right now. However, I may have to read Koestler's The Roots of Coincidence when she's done. It turns out that theoretical physicists are not nearly as quick to dismiss "signs" as I am. Hmmmmmmmmmm....
A good book can open a new world for you. A good book club can make it more fun.
After the meeting I raced off to see Andy - I was half an hour late. He could tell I wasn't at my best and that my work was probably having an impact, so he brought in a woman to assist me with my work situation. She was very helpful. I told her exactly what was going on - Andy said if it was a job interview I'd have given a good demonstration of what not to say - but there was no point in dodging the issue. So far I've managed to control myself, but I'm concerned that if I stay in my current job much longer, I might suddenly blow up and injure myself or someone else.
Yesterday was Andy's birthday. It was also Uncle Dan's 69th birthday so I emailed him, wishing him all the best at what must be a very difficult time. I don't know what it is about August 21st, but Bazza's speedo also clicked over (mentioning Bazza and speedo in the same sentence just gave me a really bad mental image). I was the only person to call him yesterday - evidently nobody else knew or cared that it was his birthday. Apparently he's dropped a few kilos since I last saw him. We'll hopefully get a game of tennis in next weekend. While he's got a new racket and should be fitter and meaner than ever, I've been almost completely absent from the court of late, so I imagine I'll be in for a tough time despite my good record against him.
The woman from the flat down the road never got back to me. I called her yesterday but she had forgotten who I was. She then remembered, so we talked for a couple of minutes until her phone cut out. I tried ringing her back but couldn't get through. I very much doubt I'll ever hear from her again. I never got my hopes up too much - I've learnt not to - but even I expected things to go a bit further than this.
I wasn't in the greatest of moods last night so I broke my "no poker till September" promise, thinking that might make me feel better, which I guess it did. I entered the next available freeroll tournament on PokerStars which happened to be razz, a game that shares some similarities to badugi and deuce-to-seven in that high cards are bad and pairs are bad. I made the top 5%, but eventually bombed out in 133rd place after 2¾ hours.
Dad came up with a clever idea for deriving an income from my puzzles, so I've spent some time today on that. I sent off my CV to a couple of agencies and did a long session on Bazza's exercise machine. It's been a gorgeous day outside, but as has so often been the case lately, it was wasted on me.
Back in the UK, even though the market was much healthier than the one we face today, it took me ages to find my first "real" job. And when I take into account that I only got the job thanks to a fluke meeting with a friend of one of Dad's sort-of-friends, my current situation appears hopeless. If I get another job in a corporate environment like the one I'm now in, I can't see what that will achieve. So where do I go? In yesterday's paper I couldn't find any jobs I'd be able to do, let alone jobs I'd be able to do and would want to do.
The good news is that this week at work has been sufficiently crap to give me the impetus to look for a new job. Today was easily the worst day. At one point I scrawled "I GIVE UP" in three-inch-high letters in my notepad; later I had another of my sessions in the toilet; then at 5pm I found out that my whole day spent arsing around with spreadsheets and computer programs had been a complete waste of time because I'd got it all wrong. My next step is to email a few of those job agencies - I'm not sure how I can word my emails to avoid sounding desperate.
The woman from that flat didn't get back to me, so I don't know when, or if, this drink (I don't like to use the word date here) will happen.
Next up I'm going to glue everything back together properly and hook up the rudders again. Not expecting any real knife edge performance, but I feel the need to at least have a go.
After consultation with Ralph, he suggested moving the tail fins rearward and/or enlarging them.... so this is what it looks like now.
Spot the difference! Doesn't look much like an Su27 Flanker anymore probably looks more like an F18 but will take it out for another try and see what happens. Fingers crossed :-)
Hanmer Springs was good. The town itself was way too touristy for my liking, but they'd done an impressive job of the pools. I could imagine as a treat spending half a day bathing in the hot pools and ordering drinks. I particularly enjoyed the sulphur pools, though ten minutes in that heat was about my limit.
From Hanmer we made our way over to the West Coast, staying one night at Westport and another at Greymouth. With Dad driving, we never get from A to B directly; we usually dawdle along, making sure we stop at X, Y and Z. Dad paints pictures for a living so he's always on the lookout for views that might make a nice painting. I don't mind this - I've got used to it over the years and it's his job after all - but all those extra hours stuck in the car give us many more opportunities to fall out with each other. That doesn't happen often, but I did fly off the handle somewhere between Reefton and Westport when Mum said I was boring. I'm always very conscious of how boring I am, so when my own mother says I'm boring I feel there's no hope for me.
The best day of the trip was Friday, a gloriously sunny day. We stopped at Punakaiki and tried to figure out how on earth those Pancake Rocks came about. Just around the corner we scavenged for fossils, finding perfectly preserved leaves. When I see millions of years of history like this, our own appearance on this planet seems like the blink of an eye, and all that complicated stuff we spend so much time worrying about hardly seems to matter at all.
When I got back yesterday I played pétanque again with Phil. Just like last time it was teeming with rain, but this time I came out on top, winning 13-5. We were tied at 5-all but from there I wrapped up the game in just four ends. I realise now the importance of scoring multiple points on the ends you win and limiting the damage on the ends you lose, much like in poker I suppose.
In my week off I hadn't given work a moment's thought. Well that's not quite true - I'd certainly thought about where the hell my job might be going - but the actual mechanics of what I do on a day-to-day basis hadn't figured at all. So in this morning's two-hour meeting it was back down to earth with a bump.
Tonight I had my Italian class which, as always, I thoroughly enjoyed. In my last post I mentioned that something strange happened to me. Strange because it happened to me. Two weeks ago a very nice English woman showed me her flat. The next day I sent her a text saying that although I liked the flat I wouldn't be interested in the room because it was too small; I thought it was a shame I'd never see her again. The following morning, to my surprise, she replied, inviting me for a drink. I figure she might not have many friends either - she's got an 11-digit phone number like mine (people with lots of friends tend to have shorter numbers) and she wasn't quite sure where the space bar was, which makes me think she doesn't send a lot of texts. Hopefully we'll go out later this week, and who knows, something might happen.
ShadyWilbury, who muses while she writes, has given me the "Let's Be Friends" award.
This award is for "exceedingly charming blogs. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."
That's a wonderful award to receive, and a hard one to pass along. Face it, most of my blogging friends are widoweds, and most of us widowed folk don't write particularly charming words! But we are kind to one another, and I have made some cherished friends among my blogging buddies.
Actually, my first award goes to a NON widow -- whoo-hoo! I actually have friends who aren't widows! Mimi's Bigger Than a Breadbox is charming and delightful. She writes about books, food, and her Orthodox Christian faith: What's not to love?!?
Tanja is probably the most open-hearted person I know, widowed or otherwise: She is genuinely warm and accepting of everyone. Well, almost everyone.
Stella writes about the fabric of her life with humor and love. Even if she didn't write a blog, I'd have to give her this award because ... she's STELLA!
Finally, E's Updates is not a warm and fuzzy blog, but if anybody needs friends, it's S & E. S is a widow who found the love of her new life; a month before her baby was born, E was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. The story is not pretty, but their love is a miracle.
The award text said that I'm supposed to pass it along to 8 friends who will pass it along to 8 friends who will ... Four is good.
The first day of school was today. Rock is in 2nd grade, HardPlace started 6th. Where does the time go? Aside from going googly over my little boys when they were little babies, I simply don't know where the last 2 years has gone. We moved here in late 2007, right after the boys had started kindergarten and 4th grade. It doesn't seem possible.
I am beginning a few new (old) practices with the start of the school year.
I made chore charts for the boys. HardPlace is too old to "get into" it, but at least it sets forth expectations clearly; Rock thinks it's great fun to check things off, even little things like brushing teeth and putting his backpack by the door. I want to nag/harass/scream less this year.
We ate dinner at the kitchen table tonight. Eating together disappeared over the course of the last year, and I want to bring that back. We need it.
I signed up at Curves today; I found a location that's right on the way home from the school. I really need this for myself.
Finally, I want to do most of my messing around on the computer while the boys are at school or after they've gone to bed. I won't say that I'll stay totally off it while they're around, but I don't want my more time-intensive activities to cut into being attentive to them in those after-school hours.
Lots of little changes, lots of little goals, which could add up to big improvements in the quality of our lives... as I begin my 6th year of widowhood.
Here's a few pics I took.
This is John's JW looking strangely surreal over the main beach
John flew my grid for a while and I got this shot.
Here's one looking down on a low pass by Ralph
And Ralph carving up a nice turn
In fact it will probably get tatty pretty fast 'cos I built it light to try knife edge. I still wonder how it will go on its side but might have to replace the fins with something more substanial fairly early in its life.
The maiden won't be today (Monday) due to a shortage of time and the wind is up to around 20kts E so a bit strong to be trying out something new.
O Christ God,
with the saints grant rest to the soul of your servant
in a place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing,
but everlasting light.
Afterward, I was putting away my clean clothes when ClaraKitty jumped into my underwear drawer. She looked very cute, so I went to get my camera. When I got back, she was gone, so I started to close the drawer -- oops, she'd gone behind the drawer and was now in the next drawer down. When I tried to open that one, she went to the next drawer down, all the way to the bottom of the dresser. The only way to get her out was to remove the bottom drawer completely.
There, on the bottom of my dresser, underneath the last drawer, I found two things. First, a small stained-glass window that my brother had made for me a few years before he died. I'd wondered where it was. The second item was a small gold crucifix on a gold chain -- one I'd never seen before. Even though my faith is very important to me, I don't wear crosses or crucifixes; I don't buy them, and I don't remember anyone giving this one to me.
When I saw my brother's stained glass window, I was so glad; when I found the crucifix, I just had to giggle. I don't believe in signs, in messages from the dead. I was telling one friend about this, and she said, Well if you did believe in signs, that's a good one. I laughed and agreed.
Later, I was puttering around the kitchen, thinking about Nick, thinking about my brother, thinking about the stained glass and the crucifix, thinking about what my friend had said. If you did believe in signs... The crucifix is, of course, the symbol of Christ's death. But beyond that it also points to his resurrection and the words of our Paschal hymn:
Trampling down death by death
And on those in the tombs
So on this day of sadness, I loaded the dishwasher singing the hymn of victory, affirming everything I believe to be true:
Sometimes, I feel the sadness with unbearable pain and unstoppable tears. Other times ... it's just a sad, sad story.
It has been pointed out that because I have new readers of this blog, I need to provide two sets of links.
The story of sorrow -- of how Nick died just one week after diagnosis with a brain tumor -- begins here.
The story of joy -- of our courtship and marriage -- begins here.
Each story is about a week's worth of posts. When you get to the end of a post, just click on the link to a newer post, and it will take you to the next page.
That eco-friendly price-neutral bonus letter arrived today. My bonus was well down on last year, but if it wasn't for some wangling on the part of my boss, I'd have received nothing at all. I was very happy with that outcome; thankfully my mitigating factors were taken into account.
I had a look at another flat tonight; this one was basically a non-starter. The more I think about it, the more I realise last night's flat could have been a good move for me. If only the room had been 50% bigger.
I still dabble with iPredict. So far I'm up around $400 though things can change rather quickly. I did particularly well betting, sorry predicting, that Gordon Brown wouldn't resign before the next election. Of course he might still do so, but iPredict allows you to lock in profits (or cut your losses, something I've done numerous times) before the closing date of the stock. By the way, this is what BK Drinkwater, one of the more eminent figures on iPredict, has to say about New Zealand's obsession with property investment. I might have gone a bit easier on the expletives myself, but I totally agree with him.
I'll be meeting up with Andy again tomorrow. Oh, and I've just started reading The Great Gatsby.
As you can see on the photo, a red line shows my last attempt at blasting into the dark side in a big dive which ended in a massive crash into the ground at full speed! The thing just wouldn't turn and pull up. These things happen in DS-ing due to rotors and turbulence and all kinds of pilot error - hey, it ain't called the dark side for nothing.
Quite a bit of damage with a broken aileron so had to call it a day. But at least there were nice views to be had over the Manukau Harbour and the rest of the city.
All I remember of Friday is the presentation my colleague gave at a meeting. His talk impressed me because he's only been at the company a matter of months, and he used some sophisticated modelling techniques to arrive at his conclusions. In other words there's no way I could have done any of that stuff.
On Saturday I worked on my puzzles and then played pétanque with Phil from the French club. The bowling club down my street has a pétanque piste attached. I'm sure we were supposed to pay, but being the middle of winter and sluicing down with rain, nobody else was there. The game was a lot of fun even though I ended up soaked to the skin. I came from 10-3 and 12-8 down only to be edged out 13-12. I'm sure we'll have many more battles over the coming months.
I'm struggling to remember what happened at work yesterday, but I don't think any of it was particularly good. After work though I had Italian which was much better. An elderly couple who were about to spend a week in Italy had brought two bottles of wine along for us all to share. The Italian wasn't easy, but it isn't supposed to be, and the wine pretty much made my evening.
Today at work was a complete dead loss. The highlight was an email telling us we'd soon be getting our bonus letters. Actually the highlight wasn't that part of the email - of course I'm thrilled to be getting a bonus of zero dollars - but the next bit. These bonus notifications will have a new, more colourful letterhead which is more closely aligned with our company's brand image, but will also be printed on thinner paper to offset the cost of all that extra ink and make the whole process cost neutral. I'm so relieved it's cost neutral. We were told to give feedback about the new letterhead. I was about to reply that I really couldn't give a rat's arse, then thought better of it.
I couldn't focus on anything for more than ten seconds all day. My soon-to-be-boss spent half an hour explaining a new one-off task to me, and explained it pretty well I thought, but everything simply washed over me. By the way the tsunami alert was a false alarm; I'll be getting a new boss, my fourth since I've been there.
Tonight I had a look at a possible new flat. It had a lot going for it but I'll be saying no unfortunately, because the room isn't really big enough.
I'll be taking next week off to stay with Mum and Dad down south, and hopefully get over to the West Coast, where I haven't been since 1993. I'm very much looking forward to that.