Threefold purposeThis journal may actually be one of my incredibly rare "short" ones... Though I'll be the first to admit that the journals themselves are in danger of becoming rare.
But I'm writing for three reasons:
Firstly, my last journal was pretty bleak. And since then, I've had two days in bed ill, a five mile walk for a bus to work due to a gas leak, and been in a (mercifully small) vehicle accident.
And at this point something in my head goes "is negativity just attracting negativity?" That evening, I got home from work and relaxed (played some singing bowls if you're interested), considered how I'm drawing everything down, and looked at the positives.
And I'm feeling positive right now; there may be obstacles in my future, but... I'll cope.
Secondly, I'm testing my phone's ability to access the mobile version of the site.
So far, so good - my phone can be rather over-sensitive with content online (really, I just got it for instant messaging - far cheaper than international calls with my girlfriend :) ).
If I can finish a journal without it dropping, there is hope I can catch up more in those hours to and from work, when I want to be doing something useful...
Thirdly, one journal every ten days?! That's what my stats say. This site always was - and in many ways still is - my first stop online, and I don't want to just drift away...
So far, no browser crash. Sluggish, but working... This is promising...
That's a good word for how things feel. Yes, this is not going to be an especially cheerful journal.
Things at work feel ominous, for a start - people on full-time contracts are having to essentially reinterview for their own jobs; now, as I'm on a temporary contract I think that means I have a snowflake's chance of being there too much longer. Now, I'm not pretending I love it there, or that it is the start of a career... I'm definitely not pretending that it pays well, which is probably why I'm permanently overdrawn. But it is something, and realising that this something may not be there leaves a strong sense of nothing instead.
To look for the silver lining, it's very focusing when it comes to job-hunting. This is something I've stuck with, but I will admit that when I'm getting home already shattered, and then do some writing for the website (if I can keep my eyes open - and I'm starting to have more and more days that I can not), seeing what employment is going does become a slightly more relaxed thing. "Well, I've got some money coming in, I can look properly later". And later never comes.
I should mention the website more; let's have a shameless plug for the Games Fiends website. I write news, and occasional reviews, and have gone to some industry events - I was at the Assassin's Creed 4 announcement a couple of weeks ago, for example. It's proper gaming journalism, but it doesn't pay...
... I guess it's give and take - the site gets content from me, I get writing practice, industry experience, and an online portfolio when applying for things. Plus, I don't hold the lack of pay up as a problem - I applied knowing it didn't. I just look to other things I might apply for and hope the effort will pay off somewhere too.
So let's get all the bleak feeling out - I'm tired. Tired and worn down, and feeling kind of worthless in that no one wants to pay for the skills I've learned, worthless in that I have no money. It seems that whatever I learn in life, I still end up without the skills people are employing, and that's the kind of thing that does get to you after a while.
Balls to it all.
Here are the positives - somehow, despite all the shit that seems to fall all the time, I am remaining hopeful. Maybe it is my ego, the bit of me that says how great I am even despite all evidence to the contrary (I know there are things I am good at, I know I can cope, I know I have skills); maybe it is knowing I'll be out of a job, rather than that limbo state which is "may have a job soon, may not have a job soon - who knows?" (it's like Schrodinger's cat, except with tax codes. And we all know cats are bad with taxes).
And the threat of unemployment has been very focusing; my CV is open in another window as I write this, getting updated and polished...
... a random thought came to me today - I have never gotten a job that I applied for with a CV. The ones I've had have either been word-of-mouth things, or via job agencies. I don't know if that says my CV is touch of death, or if it's completely irrelevant...
I've been brushing up my programming skills again - whether I'll take it anywhere, I don't know. But having more strings to add to my bow can't be a bad thing.
There is just the sense that I'll be 35 this year, and I don't seem to be any closer to settling on a future path than I was at 25. Time is passing, I'm getting older, life carries on whether I'm settled or not. And to be brutally honest, I'm not having a good time.
Happy New Year! pt2 - 2013 preparationSo here we are on the other side of midnight, into the New Year... And yes, the journal about 2012 seemed bleak, but does that leave 2013 looking bleak too? No. It means there is a feeling that 2013 could be a very good year that can let a lot of things improve. I'm actually feeling quite optimistic right now... I've always liked the 1st of January, the day that carries the feeling of things that can get better before cynicism and experience kick in.
Anyway, here goes...
Things to improve. No, seriously this time. Mind
-Languages [yes, my standard one for several years now. As ever, Urdu is important; and I should refresh my Mandarin... More on that one from a different direction later too]
-Skills [Programming; I did study it initially, I did pretty well in it, and I've done nothing with it since. That's something I should correct, if only to make my CV more accurate regarding my current skills. I was recommended to look at the Raspberry Pi, which definitely does look interesting. But for now, getting my C/C++ back to scratch seems like a good idea.]
-Reading [I started on one of my journalism handbooks the other week; I need to keep on like this. I can write - though I'm far too verbose - but anything that helps me be a better journalist is a good thing]
-Diet [I have eaten incredibly badly this year - it's easier and cheaper than eating well, especially when only getting a half hour lunch break. This is something I'm already taking steps with, planning on not eating chips at all during 2013 (fries, as those on the other side of the Pond might think of them). It seems random, and... ok, it seems like something more suited for Lent, but I'm hoping eating less fatty food will help me feel more healthy for a start.]
-Exercise [Yes, it's the New Year. I'm mentioning exercise. No comment]
-No, really - exercise [Ok. I feel tired almost all the time, and while I can blame working hard for a lot of it I'm certain it's not just that. Energy levels are low simply because I've not done anything to raise them. If I was feeling heroic I'd get up early and take a jog, though with an alarm going off before 7am on a normal day I don't know how heroic I really feel. But I do need to do something.]
-Sleep [I should repair these broken sleep patterns]
-Yes, the usual [learn to play my guitar. Drawing. Writing for pleasure. You know these things. They're exactly the same as last year]
-Friends [last year was a mixed bag for being in touch with people; I didn't see people often, but I did do more - slightly more - to message them or similar. But it still wasn't enough and I hope increases next year]
-Narcicism [normally a vice; but I should be able to look in the mirror and think something better than "you poor, ugly, tired bastard. What the fuck is wrong with your life?". A friend once told me that men should look good for the women, and not just expect women to look good for them... in this case, if I can't see myself as someone worth being with, why should anyone else? So yes, I want to make myself someone more that I feel is more attractive - not to others, but just to me. Besides, I expect that actually will make me more someone attractive to my girlfriend, who is gorgeous and I know loves me even as I am]
-Tehreem [I don't think I could bear another year without seeing her]
-Clear debts [I owe people money; I'm aware of it, feel it is one of the most immediate pieces of stress hanging over me, and one of the best things to clear]
-Job [Well, I expect the place I'm at will get rid of me sooner rather than later, so this will likely happen by itself anyway]
-Writing [It felt like a good move starting writing for gamesfiends; I need to move that up a step... I also need to see if there is anyway I can take that further, find somewhere that might actually pay me as well...]
-Start dreaming [Absolutely. Wait, what?]
Start dreaming. And chase a few of them
I used to dream a lot, dream of the person I wanted to be or hoped to be or simply the person I wished I could be seen to be. This person was a far better person that I ever have been, but I realise that what is the point of dreaming dreams like this if you don't let them guide you? There are things I want to do, or at least to try, things I should be ticking off of a list of goals.
For example, if jobs here really do feel that terrible that I can't find anything, why not go back to offers I've had in the past to go to China and teach English? It'd improve my Mandarin, be an adventure, and... so on.
And while it may not happen this year exactly, it'd be cool to set foot on every continent. Even the cold ones. Visiting Antarctica? Why not? Admittedly, I'm a hot weather person so this would be a system shock, and I doubt I'm in good enough physical shape to consider going there right now, but... why not?
How about actually getting back to martial arts? When I was young, there was that imagination of being the guy who might cope with trouble when it occurred, that person who was still standing when the dust settled. I know I'm not that person, but having that confidence that I could cope - even if the reality is more that I'd get wrecked - should still be there. Confidence is good. Having skills you don't need to use isn't always a bad thing.
It's also tempting to try some video or audio work... I don't have a clear idea yet, but have thought about trying to write a one-off audio comedy; I'm a big fan of radio comedy, and like how sounds can build different worlds to visuals. Plus, I know someone with a small recording studio at home, so may have to ask "a favour"...
There's a lot to hope for in 2013. It may not provide the easiest hill to climb, but with a little work the view from the top should make it worthwhile.
Much like last year, I'm writing this journal from Rob and Amber's place - my escape from life as it goes in London... So how has that life been in the last year?
What I have achieved
... right. Erm... Not much. I cannot lie, 2012 has been rather shite - it's like all that progress made in recent years has been stopped in its tracks, and suddenly dragged backwardsin a direction I was trying to escape from.
I am working, which I concede is a plus. But it's draining, mind-numbing work with no real hope of progression, working as a temp in a department where all the full-time staff are going to have to re-interview for their own jobs in January. Honest, I can't quite see why I am still there, but I am glad the for now I can still earn something...
... except I always seem to be broke. It has been a very bad year for money. I am learning to make-do, instead of replace. This is often a virtue, but there comes a time when you say "surely I need some new boots?" when the holes make any claim of water-proofing moot.
I am missing Tehreem. A lot. Another year has passed. Some days I'm not even sad - it's easier to simply be numb, to get up and go to work and go through the motions of another day.
If you want to find positives, I have started writing for a website, gamesfiends.com. It is unpaid, but starting to build a portfolio, and also sent me off on a few adventures - I was at the Black Ops 2 launch party, I got a three hour preview of Ni No Kuni at Namco-Bandai's HQ, and I had a press pass to a day long conference of game design. I don't know where it may be leading, but it does feel like it's movement in the right direction.
Of course, it does ironically take time; I rarely get to play games these days, as I'm spending my time writing about them.
And there there are the days when it feels like everything kicks in together - I had a recent day when my internet connection failed, yet I had articles to write, I'd picked up an injury at work that had hurt all day, I couldn't get through to Tehreem, and the lack of money was causing problems with things I needed to do. On that evening, I sat in my room and cried for a while - this is very, very unlike me. I may bitch about things going wrong, but usually I do then get on with sorting them; it's a very bad day when it stops me.
I know that I don't want this sort of thing to carry into next year with me.
So... yes. Not much achieved.
Things I have not achieved
Where to start? Better job, travelling to see... anyone, raising my bank account above a terminally ill level, getting back in contact with people as planned and promised, driving practice, maintaining any level of decent health, learning any new languages, any instruments, programming anything, drawing anything, dreaming anything, doing anything.
If 2007 was the best year in my life for actually getting shit done, 2012 is the karmic balance.
Anything else to add that won't sound terrible?
I am in Huddersfield again, once again surrounded by friends and able to get some perspective on a life lives so many miles away. And the more things that go wrong, the more there are to go right... I'm taking the time to relax, to stop and plan, and to try and remember what my dreams are. The counterpart journal to this one I'll post tomorrow, looking forward into the New Year, should carry a lot more hope and optimism.
Once again, the turkey is in the oven, the dog is planning for the epic leftovers, and there are presents under the tree...
It's not been the greatest of years, but at least today can be a stress free, guilt free chance to just sit back and relax! And you know I'm going to take advantage of it, if only because I'm only getting today and tomorrow off of work this week...
I hope everyone gets what they hope for today, be it in the form of a gift or just a day to enjoy!
Knit One, Pearl One, Bluff OneHave I sworn recently? If not, let me just say "fuck!" and get it over with. I've spent the evening having my soul ground down looking for jobs, and finding the world just doesn't want me.
This has been the main pressure on my mind recently - just the hope of getting a job that is even in some way related to what I studied. At the moment, I am almost two and a half years post graduation and still looking, hoping, and despairing. And let's face it - it's one thing when it's nigh on impossible to find a new job that pays well... but I've found myself competing for unpaid jobs. When did things fall to the state where we'd fight to work for nothing?
Obviously, I've been looking for gaming or computing journalistic jobs in the first instance, but have found my eyes opened to just how broad the magazine racks are these days... It's a bit like the guest publications that are used on Have I Got News For You - titles you'd never think would exist, and yet somehow do.
I applied for a job on a knitting magazine the other week. I can't knit, my knowledge of knitting extends about as far as knowing not to stick the needles in my eyes (this is an important lesson, kids - you'll thank me for it later)... though I did note they didn't actually ask for any creative skills other than writing.
(I didn't get it, by the way)
About the best I've gotten so far is an unpaid role writing for a website; I'm going to get seriously onto that as of tomorrow. Right now, it seems having experience counts for far more than having a qualification, which is a great thing to learn on top of three years of student loan debt. And yes, I do have some pieces published so far, but clearly not enough to impress anyone into employing me. So - website. It's experience (of the sort I can only hope will count for something in the longer term), it'll keep my skills fresh, and there is also always the hope of making a few contacts.*
But it's days like today that I do feel older than my years - shouldn't I already have a career? Should I really still be looking around at unpaid roles when I'm currently the only person earning at home? When am I ever going to be able to afford to get a place of my own? Marry my girlfriend? Start a future?
I am very aware of the days of my life passing, one by one. They aren't waiting for me, and I'm not keeping up with them.
I guess I should be grateful for the temp job I'm currently in, that has at least kept some money coming in for the last few months. I just also look forward to finding myself in a position to make a step away from them, moving onwards and upwards.
* = Ok, I do also have my own Big Idea at last - something that's going to take a little planning for, and probably help from others. But some experience writing for others will help immensely too. It all comes back to this.
Normally when she has her dinner - the fine culinary selection of doggy biscuit rings that is supposed to provide a complete diet - she has some random vegetables with it; she eats at about the same time my parents eat, so it's common for her to have a little carrot, or broccoli, or something similar to that just to give a little variety. In itself, nothing too wrong with that.
However, the weekend just gone was the local town park show, the rest of the family were there on a stall, and I was dogsitting one extremely hyperactive dog with some anxiety and probably a few abandonment issues (she was a rescue dog after all). Wherever I went, I usually found a dog waiting for me...
... but it also left me in charge of feeding her. So, is she spoiled? When I find myself at the cooker, being watched as I especially cook for her an egg and some beans to add to the doggy rings, I begin to think "yes"...
(Am I becoming Charlie Brown, or have I always been so?)
On being a bad friend...I have days where I feel guilty about how bad a friend I am to my friends. Today was one of them - it was my friend Jag's birthday party, and the first time I'd seen her in three years, the first time we'd really gotten to catch up in a year. How do things fall that far behind with a close friend?
Technology should be making things easier... the internet itself is basically built on communication technology after all. Once I only had email to use, and did. Then texting on a mobile, fine. Then it was MSN, and worked nicely. Then I came on the site here. Then Facebook, which I still haven't worked out the purpose for. Then Skype. Then XBL. Then BBM. Then Whatsapp. Then... I stopped trying to keep up with all the new sites when people migrated to Twitter and Tumblr.
Maybe there are just too many echoes of the same voices, medium after medium, site after site after site where you're left chasing people? Maybe. But I'm a common factor here too, so I'm not looking to make excuses - I'm at fault here for not using the methods I know.
I take great pride in keeping my friends list here short - 38 people currently, after 5 1/2 years on the site. I don't need more than that, nor want more. I can tell a short story about each person on that list, and the day I have more people that I can do that for, I've gotten too many.
More than that, I once used to be completely up to date with everything everyone posted, and am now months behind instead. Yes, the new site layout was and still is a touch alienating, but again I don't want to make that an excuse... I've not put the time in to learn the new tools and to stop myself being overwhelmed.
I do want to put that time in. There are people on here that I really do want to keep up with, and people I wish would come back as I still take great pleasure in talking here, far more than on that Facebook-thing which... what exactly is that site for, by the way?
So, I'm not making promises to catch up with everyone - I know my own faults, and distractability is one of them.* But I am showing intent to. Today was a wake up call that I need to make more time in my life, to reschedule and re-prioritise for friends, because life feels extremely hollow without them.
* = another fault being making up words, like "distractability"