Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The best squirrel picture ever. I think someone had a good holiday!
can't get no satisfaction
I'm never satisfied. You might have noticed this character flaw in me already - I'd say it comes across clearly in my posts. I'm always looking ahead, trying to propell myself into a better future. My mum used to tell people, 'she's five going on fifteen' and that sense of trying to get ahead, be further along the life development curve has never left me. I rarely, if ever, relax and enjoy the here and now. Take my new job as an example, within a week I was already overlooking all the positives of the situation (the money, the training opportunities, the stability, the way employees are looked after) and thinking about where I could go next to earn more and feel happier about the work I am doing. If that makes me sound incredibly ambitious that's the wrong impression - it's not ambition, ambition is much narrower - I get frustrated about all aspects of my life. When TA and I first met I pushed so hard to accelerate the process of building our relationship, I succeeded too: within three months we were living together. Of course, later, I felt rather wistful that we hadn't had longer to enjoy 'courting' - see, I'm never satisfied! Currently, and for the last year or so, I've felt an increasing sense of urgency about building our home and starting a family. I'm 27 - if we're going to have five children, and be youngish parents for all of them, and without putting my body under enormous strain (I think you are supposed to leave four years between babies) we really must start soon. TA and I have both got older parents and it's a pressure - they want grandchildren, we want our children to have grandparents.
Of course, once I have built a house and given birth to an outrageous number of children, I'll feel frustrated by other things entirely...
second post: Royal Mail scrapped it, but occasionally my readers get lucky
Well then. It's late, I'm still in the office - heading for a 12-hour shift today. Just waiting on some docs to come through from the US. Yawn...
Had lots of time over the weekend to think about what exactly is going on with TA and me. I get so impatient about where we're going. This weekend brought home how much I really want to start nesting. TA and I both want a big family (I mean in numbers, not supersized/obese) but I'm not getting any younger and I want to start soon. Starting a family requires a house and financial security - we have neither. I'm getting really frustrated about the fact that we've got so many commitments - home and family is going to have to wait at least another 5 years.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Weekend was spent in Hereford. We stayed at a B&B, Garford Farm, which was very nice indeed (a big, deep bath made me happy). My brother and his wife were staying at the same place so we had a chance to catch up. On Saturday we went to my mother's cousin's husband's 90th birthday party. It was a riot - parents, aunts, cousins, babies, toddlers, previous owners of the house, friends - everyone was there. I slept so well on Saturday night it made me remember what sleeping is supposed to be about - rest. The house has an enormous garden with a swimming pool and tennis courts and we were back there on Sunday for a family-only get together. Lovely. Of course the train home was delayed and we didn't get back to London until late, but it was a fantastic weekend.
The weekend also gave TA some time to think about what is going on with him and he has agreed that he needs to get help - I don't know whether he's suffering from depression that is manefestingmanifesting itself physically or whether it's glandular/hormonal, but he's constantly exhausted and rundown, he lacks the energy to do anything... We'll see what the doctor says.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

time out
TA and I have been/are being very socialable at the moment - dinners, drinks, parties. Being social is great and it's wonderful to see people - especially after several months of avoiding all social events. However...
There are just not enough hours in the day. I want to be doing other things as well, perhaps selfish things. I'm a deeply solitary kind of person - I like reading, writing, thinking and staring at the occasional wall (just having the odd empty hour doing nothing but thinking about life, the universe and everything - I call it staring at walls).

  • I like writing here and in my journal I like writing letters.

  • I want to join a gym. This is a new development for me, I've never been into fitness and maybe I'm kidding myself but I really want to work out (a class followed by a sauna, swim and shower sounds good) before going to work or even at lunch time. I feel as though I need to match physical exertion to my current mental exertion.

  • And then there's the wider perspective on what I want to be doing with my life: having a small footprint on the earth, living responsibly, saving to build our house. I have made progress in several small areas - I'm growing herbs, buying organic - but I could do with making some real changes. I need to think carefully about how I can achieve this.
    I need less time out in a partying sense and more time out in a break-from-the-game sense. It's not going to happen this week - we're having a friend over tonight and going away for a 90th birthday party at the weekend - but it has to happen soon.

    Sunday, June 20, 2004

    [Friday night] TA: "It's later than you think, it's bedtime. Not that I think you need me to tell you when to go to bed, you're an adult."
    Me: "Hmm...[strange mental leap] I'm not as mature as you think. You'd be surprised how old I was when I last wet the bed, not that it was me that did it. I took my doll, Tiny Tears, to bed with me fully loaded when I wasn't supposed to and then I squeezed her. I thought I'd get in less trouble if I said it was me."
    TA: *chuckles...* "Fully loaded!"

    [Saturday morning] Me: "That man we just walked past had one of those funny spanner things swinging on his belt. You know those spanners that have a hexagon shape and you slide them over the nut thing you're trying to unscrew. Anyway, it was hanging down between his legs and swinging, handle down - I swear it looked like some kind of strange prosthetic penis. Did you see him?"
    TA: "No."
    Me: "He caught me staring at him and looked cross because I was laughing at him. What are those funny spanners called?"
    TA: "A nut wrench."
    Me: [gales of laughter] "A nut wrench!"

    Friday, June 18, 2004

    finally, it's Friday
    I've worked some pretty insane hours this week and have not been sleeping well. I'm really looking forward to the weekend. Really looking forward. More tomorrow when I've recovered from the sleep deprivation and am making sense again!

    Thursday, June 17, 2004

    I was at the office until 10pm last night. We were preparing the materials for a new business pitch. Of course I can't tell you what company we're pitching to, but I can tell you it's in an industry close to my heart and I really want the pitch to succeed. Because of my insider knowledge of the industry sector and because I'm new and a bit cheeky, I managed to get involved in the brainstorming meeting and woo! my ideas were included in the pitch! TA is still commuting to Luton every day. The house is a tip and we've hardly spoken to each other since the weekend - the days just disappear.
    I'm thinking about writing a bit of a navel-gazing retrospective over the weekend, I started this blog with the idea that it would help me bring about some long-term life goals and I now feel that a bit of a spring clean and stocktake is in order - you have been warned!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2004

    long post condensed due to lack of time
    Influentials. You may not realise it but PR firms think that you (as blog readers and writers) are influentials. Apparently, bloggers are often at the 'bleeding edge' of cultural developments. Bloggers and their readers are increasingly being targeted by companies and PR peeps to promote positive brand or product messages. Bugger - reading blogs may become a bit like watching ITV or listening to commercial radio, the scum of advertising has to be filtered out.
    Just as the bloggers mirror, to a greater or lesser extent, the people we meet every day the blogs people write reflect the entire spectrum of high and low culture (television to opera, if you will). I like to dip my toes in the high-brow pool of blogs. I particularly enjoy British-based thinkers - is it me or are there fewer of them than their American counterparts? James Blogwell, a London-based intellectual, is doing his bit to even things out - I like his style and the way that he can write with equal passion and humour about Victorian novelists (who I find terrifying), popular music and living in London.
    The writer of James Blogwell contends that blogs are worthy of academic study, not everyone agrees with him but he's decided to go out on a limb and present a paper on them at a conference. He and others like him are worth taking notice of and supporting - think of it like a boxing match, compared to the strength and weight of the commercial interests in the red corner, the thinkers in the blue corner are underweight but if we all jump into the ring in support perhaps we can bury the bad guys.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    meetings, more on TA and general blathering
    Yesterday was one long blur of meetings, including a crash course in the theory of storytelling, which is what underpins this company's modus operandi. The storytelling training was more than three hours, then I had an afternoon of teleconferencing. I got out of the office at 7.15pm.
    TA is still going to Luton for DTP work, although I think today is his last day. Last night we both collapsed in an exhausted, grumpy heap - it's hard when we're both working long hours.
    TA is very unusual for a straight man, especially an Australian straight man: he likes and cares about clothes; he doesn't see the attraction of watching sport on television; he doesn't like beer; he appreciates opera (although sadly not ballet); he thinks grooming is important... Of course there are aspects of his personality that do fit the male stereotype: enjoys computer games, loves martial arts and prefers the Die Hard films to most art-house movies. This is all preamble to back up yesterday's post. Yes, TA did spend five hours shopping with me - in fact TA often has more of an idea about what I should be wearing than I do. I am not a dedicated follower of fashion. I'm good on knowing what cuts suit my problematic figure - A-line skirts, dresses that are fitted to the waist and then flare - TA is good at pushing me to look at colours I wouldn't normally bother with. We have disagreements* and I have the casting vote, but in the three years since we got together I've become a lot better dressed.
    *Black and white are a classic chic combination and the shops are full of it but TA thinks it's boring. I'm going back for a couple of black and white items and the cute court shoes in Clarks, but I'll wait for the sales.

    Monday, June 14, 2004

    out of fashion
    Is it me or are the shops playing cruel tricks on women? Last summer the shops were full of trash-eighties-revival tat so I didn't buy any new clothes, even though I needed some. This year is better, but the majority of what's on offer is still unwearable: crazy prints, polka dots and bows seem to predominate. TA and I spent five hours looking for my summer workwear yesterday. Bear in mind the following: we're on a limited budget; I'm a very tall size 12 (8 US) with big hips; I'm not a teenager but neither am I ready for a twinset and pearls; I want smart shoes I can walk in (no pointy toes or skinny heels). After scouring Covent Garden and Oxford St I found a top I like (Country Casuals - price reduced), a skirt that's very similar to one I already own (M&S linen), a dress that is a flattering cut (but the print is nothing special) (Rocha at Debenhams), and a top that's a nice colour but I'm not sure I like (Kaliko - price reduced). Oh and I remembered why I only ever shop in sales. I may go back to Muji and pick up a couple of tops at a later date - I like their functional aesthetic, but the prices are ridiculous. For reference, I think tops should cost no more than £25, bottoms no more that £35 and dresses no more than £45, ideally shoes should be under £30 - although I try to get all these things for much less - also I prefer mid-range labels: Kaliko, Jesire, Coast, Next and M&S for basics and sometimes Monsoon. I'm not one of these women that can find treasures in Topshop, Zara and H&M - these clothes always look as though they'll fall apart in the wash. WHY can't shopping be easy? Do other women really want to look like Minnie Mouse this summer?

    Saturday, June 12, 2004

    my small intervention
    Dear Rt Hon Frank Dobson,

    I recently voted in the London and European elections as I feel it is my duty to vote, I did so with a heavy heart. I am a life-long Labour supporter who can no longer vote for Labour with a clear conscience: Labour is the party that illegally took us to war in Iraq; Labour has an arrogant leader who seems more concerned with keeping George Bush happy than with listening to the people of this country. By voting Labour I would have condoned the brutal treatment of Iraqis in Basra.
    I simply cannot vote Labour while Tony Blair remains Prime Minister. This is why I support The Big Intervention.

    Please do what you can to effect leadership change so that I can vote for Labour again.

    Friday, June 11, 2004

    say hello to one of my co-workers! Brave soul to tell us all it exists, I've not yet admitted my dirty secret.
    blah, voting, blah
    Does Britney sing 'kitty, kitty, woo?' on Slave 4U? That's what I sing along to. And am nodding to now thanks to dINbOT.
    As far as work goes, more, much more, many more, meetings - a couple in person with senior managers, most with other cubby slaves - but hey desktop video conferencing is pretty cool. I met up with ex-colleagues tonight and I really miss them. More than I ever thought I would - like hanging out with cousins rather than ex-workmates. I'm not a big one for nostalgia, but still.
    Thank god tomorrow is Friday. TA is in Luton tomorrow - doing DTP work, I am meeting lots of scary senior execs/panicking/trying to get a grip on two jobs - the usual deal.
    This w/e I am going to BUY CLOTHES and do lots of work. If I can just get a grip on all the processes and the basics of both jobs and the essentials of which server holds what files and everything then Monday will be a lot easier.
    So, voting. That was pretty self-explanatory, but also strange. I really feel that I've been divorced from the issues this time round - no TV (we don't pay the license fee so the TV is for DVDs only), little access to internet, no newspapers. It felt irresponsible to vote, it felt irresponsible not to. Added to the ignorance was the fact that, frankly, none of the options were particularly appealing. Democracy has become a real downer. Where has the sense of empowerment gone? Died a death with Tony Blair's integrity.
    Anyway, night all.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2004

    you spin me right round baby, right round
    It. Just. Does. Not. Stop. Conference calls, emails, process, jargon, clients, jargon, email, meetings, senior execs scheduling 'face time' (ugh), more process, UK/US language differences, jargon...my head is spinning.
    It's wonderful and I'm maintaining my enthusiasm and energy levels, but it's such a performance and by the time I finally get home I'm really drained. I feel that I'm playing away from home and being unfaithful to you - I'm not pulling my weight in this relationship am I? Well, it doesn't mean I don't love you, it just means that I have to do this right now. I think of you often and I'm going to devote as much time and energy as I can to us, but you're going to have to understand that at the moment time and energy are in short supply.
    In other news, TA spoke to B, an agent that specialides in recruiting for the games industry, and he liked TA's latest showreel. I may need you to start crossing your fingers again! (take, take, take - I'm so greedy. Why do you put up with me?)
    To make up for my lack of posting, let me make you happy.

    Monday, June 07, 2004

    gone fishing
    This has been a truly great weekend: met up with friends, went to trendy bar, met up with more friends, finally set the animator up with his own moby, drank iced coffee in the sunshine...

    I got an email from my mum yesterday, not an unusual event you might think - and you'd be right - but this email was unusual. She had scanned in some pages from the Daily Mail. The story was about two men who had caught a sturgeon. Apparently, sturgeons are royal fish (just as swans are royal birds), so the two lucky fishermen wrote to the Queen asking her if she wanted their catch. She didn't. The men sold the fish, but were then arrested. It transpires that sturgeons are endangered and that it's illegal to catch them. When they were arrested the men produced their letter from Buckingham Palace giving them permission to sell the fish. Ooops.
    Now, as you can imagine, the Queen doesn't answer her own mail she has staff for that. Palace staff have to be very discreet. Staff at Buckingham Palace are supposed to refer to it as 'BP' when talking to friends so that eavesdroppers will be fooled. So, just think how embarrassed the person who wrote the letter on the Queen's behalf was when she saw it published in the paper. In fact, you don't have to think because I spoke to my friend Emily today and I can tell you she's very embarrassed indeed.
    Luckily, it hasn't stopped her from being promoted - I've agreed to be one of her security check referees.

    Saturday, June 05, 2004

    you're in the army now
    I was trying to think of a good way to sum up how completely insane the last two days have been for the title of this post when I started humming 'In the Army Now' by Status Quo. This is wrong on so many levels: given the current geopolitical situation, comparing my wonderful new job to a boot camp/war situation is clearly inappropriate; I don't like Status Quo. But I hope that you'll be gentle with me and understand the half-baked analogy, because it has been a bit like a boot camp: overwhelmed with new information; expected to attend iniation ceremonies (okay, it was just a few beers at the pub, but I'm a lightweight and I couldn't keep up - also I think they go to the pub every night, that's too much!); indoctrinated in the '[insert company name here] way' and yes they really call it that; no outside contact... I'm thankful I've got the weekend to recover and regroup because the last two days have been terrifying!
    Interestingly, when I googled 'you're in the army now' Status Quo was not the first result, getting geeks to enlist was:
    The military minds behind "America's Army," the PC game designed to entice geeks into enlisting, have unveiled their newest recruiting tool: a weblog from a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. Read the rest here.

    Then an inside view into a real boot camp.
    This weekend I shall mostly be working on a style guide for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region (basically, it seems that US companies divide the world into US market and the rest of the world - US and EMEA; us and them) I don't know when the Australasian market will get a look in. A style guide is invaluable for copy/sub editors and ensures that consistency of spelling, tone, puctuation etc is maintained. I'm still trying to work out some hard and fast rules for international business English with a UK, rather than US, bias - not just spelling and vocab conventions, but the manner of expression. At the moment I just keep saying rather unhelpful things like: the tone is drier, the writing is more impersonal/formal, keep the sentence structure very simple. Bugger, I hope I'm up to the job.

    Friday, June 04, 2004

    The new job is totally fabulous. Just to give you an idea of how pampered the chosen few are, the office kitchen is stocked with a fridge full of cans (coke, diet coke, 7-up etc), bread, milk, butter, fruit, cereal (including muesli), yummy-looking biscuits and various other snacks. The tab for the welcome lunch was picked up by the company.
    My day of orientation was completely overwhelming. There are so many systems and processes - servers, sub-folders, chains of command, clients, abbreviations. IT tech support called and conducted training via teleconference and I also had a tele-meeting with the HR bigwig to discuss the contract and benefits package. Phew, I'm as high as a kite and can't wait to get back there, but also exhausted and OD-ing on information.

    Thursday, June 03, 2004

    frugality: the final frontier
    There's so much to say on this subject and my feelings are pretty mixed up, but essentially it boils down to this: after several months of no income, and a year or more before that of living on one low income, I'm beginning to see a faint light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel of debt. What I need now is the discipline to start making progress, first back to zero and then to start serious saving. The last couple of days I've been reorganising finances and examining spending - never a fun task - I've set up the budgeting function on Microsoft Money and reread The Complete Tightwad Gazette for inspiration. TA and I do have different values and ways of approaching money management, which can cause friction (particularly when one of us is breadwinning and the other one is supplementing our joint income), and we both have a tendency to be extravagant. However, if I can just be strict with myself and lead by example I think things might just start looking up. In fact, this might be a good direction for this blog to take as for the last few days I've been wondering what to write about now that it is the job hunt topic that is redundant rather than me. As always, comments are welcome.

    Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    I work at one of two computers, mine or the animator's. Each machine has a different set of stored favourites, but both have a folder called 'job search'. I used to skirt around this folder, if my cursor moved over it I'd look away. My loins had to be heavily girded before I could face clicking on PFJ, Guardian jobs, Workstation or any of the others. My favourites also have a folder called 'shopping': coco de mer and figleaves are listed with the more mundane ebay and amazon. Now I'm having to avoid the shopping folder, ignore, ignore.
    door-to-door organic
    Before I met the animator I used to participate in an organic veg delivery scheme. I've been meaning to set up a new account ever since we moved here, 15 months ago! Today I did just that with the well-named Organic Delivery Company. My dependence on Tescos' evil empire ends here.
    I'm off to polish my halo now.