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Life

Comfortable in my own Skin

I decided about an hour ago that it might be a good idea to update my profile photo everywhere – to better reflect what I have looked like for the last six months or so. It struck me while posting it that something unexpected has happened in recent times – I have become more-or-less comfortable in my own skin. In my thoughts too. Things haven’t always been this way.

When I was young, I was always the gawky kid that didn’t quite fit in. I found it difficult to make friends, and then difficult to maintain friendships. I thought about things too much – I still do – and worried about perceptions of actions and words by those around me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve started to care less about what other people think – I think perhaps I’ve just become a little more confident that my view or outlook is ok – that I’m not a lunatic or monster. If somebody else wants to have an agenda, or a mission, that’s up to them – we don’t have to share opinions, ideals, or world-views. Differences are almost always what make people interesting, and a chance to learn from. I suppose the only problem with that is the most vocal are often the most resistant to other points of view.

It doesn’t help that historically I have sat on the fence about so many things.

For years if questioned about my religious beliefs, I would say I was agnostic – because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. These days when questioned, I will freely admit that I have no faith or belief in any sort of higher power. That’s not the same as atheism – by the same logic that you can’t prove the existence of a higher power, you can’t disprove it either. Just because you haven’t observed something yet doesn’t mean it’s not there.

A few months ago I probably lost a few friends while defending J K Rowling’s defence of women’s rights, in the face of an opinionated mob weaponising social media against her. When a public response against such attacks on social media was then signed by several hundred of the foremost writers and thinkers of our time, I will admit to exhaling somewhat.

A similar situation happened about a month after the COVID19 pandemic had swept the world. For a time our prime minister was in hospital, being treated for the virus, and the people were behind him. Then slowly but surely, all manner of keyboard warriors and armchair experts started weighing in on every decision, both past and present. I commented about it on Facebook, and spent an afternoon defending even the thought that I might defend our government. Somebody I used to work with eventually saw my point, and commented “see that’s the thing – you’re a nice person – you’re calm, objective, and reasonable – so you expect others to be too”. There were no more comments after that.

Stepping away from blogging over the last few months has caused quite a bit of reflection – about why I write, what I write, and who I write for. Although I have often stated that I write for myself, if you know any sort of audience is out there, it obviously influences you to an extent. I’ve begun to wonder if I now care less about that audience too – not in a bad way – but it’s difficult to express why.

Maybe it’s a realisation that everybody has their own story – their own journey – and it’s not about worrying what others think – it’s more about being true to yourself, and affording others the chance to do the same.

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Life

Monkeys and Music

I was going to go for a run this morning, but after realising the temperature was already nearly 30C at 8am, thought “maybe not”. Any thoughts of running this evening went out of the window when the humidity cranked itself up.

I chopped all my hair off again.

Our daughter has been clearing her bedroom out – which has resulted in my re-acquisition of an amigurumi monkey that my other half made me about fifteen years ago. He’s never had a name – he’s sitting on my desk now, under the desk lamp. It looks like he’s sitting under a sun lamp, working on his tan.

I’ve been listening to music all week while working. Loud music. I think this is probably a reaction to having my own work-space – we were never allowed music in the office. Now I have a continual stream of whatever music I want. After a few days listening to 80s stuff I started to get a bit bored of it, but a happy accident landed a new Alanis Morrissette album in front of me via Spotify, and then Wilson Phillips randomly made an appearance.

Oh, how I used to adore Wilson Phillips. Can’t imagine why 🙂

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Life

Slogging

Today was difficult. The design of something I have been working through for the last few days got ripped out from under my feet, and changed – causing a lot of re-work. I guess this is the reality of not wearing all the hats on a project. Not fun.

Anyway – I’m not supposed to write about work. It’s probably unprofessional. I need to learn about not being the project owner, and letting go – not worrying about timescales, deadlines, budgets, and outcomes. All I can really do is my best.

It took three (small) glasses of wine this evening to realise that all I can do is my best.

I’m now sitting in the junk room listening to loud music, and writing this. While writing, I’m downloading a load of music to put on the music system I inherited from our daughters. They are all decorating their rooms, which means I inherit everything they no longer want. I wonder if they’ll realise at some point that a music system sounds FAR better than a mobile phone ?

After I write this I’m going to get into a pretend aeroplane, and go for a fly. It helps take my mind off things.

I wonder if we have any chocolate anywhere? And I wonder how far I might run in the morning ?

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Life

Surviving the Day

I started the day with an empty page in my bullet journal, and filled it with tasks as the day went on – the kinds of things you would expect after being out of the loop for a couple of weeks – timesheets to fill out, documents to read, emails to reply to, calls to make.

I admitted to somebody towards the end of the day that I really hadn’t been looking forward to returning, and couldn’t really explain why. I suppose I had grown used to the slower pace of life – it turns out sitting on your arse all day and getting nothing much done is strangely addictive.

I talked to my other half this evening about feeling trapped – stuck in a job that I don’t always like as much as I once did, but having no exit route. I pay the majority of the bills. I keep a roof over our head. I can’t take chances.

Anyway.

I’ve already promised myself to go for a run before work in the morning. Another step back towards normality. I’ll have to get back on the bike again soon too – perhaps alternate running and cycling each day.

I survived the day. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I got over myself. Go me. I’m now sitting in the dark of the study, wondering about heading to bed soon, listening to Cutting Crew on Spotify. Every time I hear it now, I think of the scene in LEGO Batman when Bruce Wayne meets Barbara Gordon for the first time.

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Life

Losing Myself in Music

It’s the final night of my staycation. I return to work in the morning – if you can call it returning. I’ll be sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, in the same room – just with a different computer in front of me.

I didn’t go running much during the staycation. I didn’t read any books. I didn’t do a lot of things.

It’s weird – bringing yourself back up to speed after slowing down for so long. I wouldn’t say there’s really a fear of what I might walk into tomorrow, but there’s certainly a good amount of trepidation. I’m trying not to think too much about it – I have at least a couple of hours left to bury my head in the sand.

I’m thinking a couple of hours losing myself in Spotify might help somehow. I deleted all of my playlists some time ago – thinking it was time to discover something new – to stop living in a 1980s bubble. I’m thinking it might be time to visit again though – to listen to the music that made me who I am, and probably continues to do so.

Heart, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Starship, John Parr, Mr Mister, Wang Chung, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Thompson Twins, Go West, Rush, Thomas Dolby, OMD, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, Peter Gabriel, Ultravox… the list goes on.

Feel free to reach out and distract me – the contact page tells you how 🙂

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Life

It’s a Serious Business

Somehow it’s already the first of August. How the hell did that happen? You know how you’re about to step in a huge dog turd, and you notice at the last moment, and do an enormous step? It feels like the world did that between February and August.

For the first few months of lock-down, we saved SO much money – thousands – and then of course the cat got sick, and wiped out his own insurance, and all of our savings. I guess I can look back at the last few months and realise that I’m lighter and fitter than I was – although I haven’t run for the last few days. I really need to get out tomorrow morning for a run.

Today I seem to have the beginnings of a cold. I’m crossing my fingers that it isn’t. I’m wondering if it’s down to a friend visiting unannounced yesterday afternoon. Our entire house has been in lock-down since February, with only two small groups of friends, and my in-laws visiting throughout (and even then, they were all outside). Yesterday a friend visited, and sat in the lounge with the rest of the family, completely ignoring any sort of social distancing. I made myself immediately scarce, because I didn’t want to have the awkward “um, what they hell?” conversation.

Lots of hot tea, and an early night ahead for me.

In other news, we started watching “The Umbrella Academy” the other night – and even after one episode, I began thinking “here we go – another comic book story where the world is supposed to end, except they’ll save it just in time, and fight with each other along the way”. There’s a part of me that longs for a Star Trek episode where they crew meet something in the first five minutes of the episode that completely and utterly wipes them out, and the series ends, right there. The galactic version of the Spanish encountering the Mayans. That’s a bit dark, isn’t it.

I ended up re-watching the first few episodes of “Halt and Catch Fire” late last night – to remind myself just how good it was. I might have to go back and watch Mr Robot too – although once the suspense and misdirection has gone, a lot of it’s draw will be removed.

I’m still bitter that “The OA” got cancelled.

Over the past few weeks – while not blogging – I’ve carried on with the flight simulation idiocy. I’m a pretty proficient pretend Boeing and Airbus pilot now. I have no doubt these skills will come into play one day while travelling with work, as a gorgeous, panic stricken air hostess runs down the aircraft and asks “DOES ANYBODY KNOW HOW TO FLY A COMMERCIAL JET?”. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it while shaking like a leaf, with pee in my shoes though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more tea to drink. It’s a serious business, this tea drinking lark.

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Life

Slowly

I started writing this post a little after 8am this morning, and then a world of chores, distractions, and errands took over. It’s Wednesday – half-way through my second week off. I would say I’m starting to look forwards to going back to work, but of course that’s not happening, because I work from home now. Next monday I’ll be sitting at the same chair, in front of the same desk – just with a different laptop in front of me.

We’re heading out again today – to walk around the same place we walked around last week – a National Trust property a few miles from home. I imagine the fresh air will do us some good. My mother-in-law is coming with us – she’s due to arrive in the next half an hour or so.

I didn’t go running this morning. I haven’t done a lot of things recently. I’m not really sure why. Maybe this is me slowing down (that’s if slowing down discounts washing clothes, dishes, putting things away, tidying up behind people, putting garbage out, and so on, and so on, and so on). I realised yesterday that I haven’t been out on my bike – you know, the shiny new bike I bought just before lockdown – for weeks.

Anyway… time to go. I’ll write more later. Maybe.

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Life

Not Feeling It

I got up this morning and went for a run, after not running for the last two days. I got up half an hour later than I should have, both my knees hurt when I started out, one of my feet went dead after a couple of miles, a tendon started to hurt a mile after that.

You know how you sometimes start to wonder “why am I even doing this?”.

I carried on though, and called it a day a little way from home – walking the last quarter of a mile. I’m kind of glad I carried on, and also amused at my own idiocy.

I took my phone for the run and recorded it on Strava. I’ve realised the main benefit of Strava isn’t to push me to go faster or further – it’s to guilt me into not stopping, because other people will see it.

After getting home, I dragged myself into the shower, and then got dressed. In a few minutes I’m walking back into town with my better half to get a birthday present for her Mum. She ran into the study panic-stricken last night, having forgotten her Mum’s birthday. Guess who was washing up baking tins at midnight last night ?

Anyway. Remind me to get some toothpaste in town – I ran out this morning.

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Life

Ray and Marijne

I meant to write a blog post yesterday, but somehow the day got away from me. The days have been doing that a lot recently. I started writing, but got no further than the first paragraph.

I ran yesterday morning – another five kilometres around town. There is no record of it happening this time though, because I bought a little MP3 player to use while running instead of carrying my mobile phone. I had been recording runs on “Strava” (a free running app), but realised I was beginning to think too much about how far, and how fast I have been running. I’m not training to win anything – I’m just trying to keep fit.

I filled the MP3 player with a running compilation album, and immediately regretted it. I need to fill it with all my favourite, most cheesy songs. Songs that take my mind off running instead of “how long is left of this horrific rubbish?”. I’m thinking a huge collection of 70s and 80s tracks from the likes of Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Go West, Ultravox, Fleetwood Mac, and whoever else springs to mind.

While writing this, I have some music on in the background – “Rush Hour” just started playing by Jane Weildlin – apparently she was a guitarist with the Go Gos (the band that Belinda Carlisle started out with). There’s something about music from that era. I’m not sure if it’s just because I was an impressionable teen back then, and the music is burned into my subconscious. I have no doubt every generation thinks their music is the best for the same reasons.

I can still remember MTV banning rap – this was of course back when MTV was ubiquitous across satellite and cable television networks, and played music videos all day instead of a non-stop stream of reality shows. My late teens and early twenties were spent listening to and watching MTV Europe – with Ray Cokes and Marijne van der Vlugt introducing the various videos. Oh my word how I laughed at Ray, and adored Marijne.