26 November 2013

procrastination is reaching out!

I could make some joke about windmills in my mind, but nah...

I am a little overwhelmed. I recently checked my spam comments box (I have to say, I had forgotten to do it for ages) and found loads of stuff in there!  If you comment whilst anonymous it puts you in there automatically... There is some lovely feedback and some tips for how to progress. I am really thankful for this discovery as it helps me feel like I'm connecting with people on a much bigger scale than I had thought.

I am glad of this new impetus to keep moving forward. I am feeling a little like I have started an uphill climb at the moment. What with the job hunting that I am doing as well. 

Anyone who follows me on twitter will have noticed a distinct lack of me celebrating getting an interview for the cover supervisor job I applied for (which I wrote about here). This is cause I didn't get one. Even though I thought I had met all their criteria :(

I have emailed them in the hope of getting some feedback but have had no response so far. I have two or three jobs I'm applying for at the moment and will let you know if I hear back from anything. I am getting the distinct impression that being out of work for 5 years might be a big black mark against me. 

I haven't really had much chance to progress a lot further with my current craft project, but am still ahead of myself, so don't feel too worried about it all. I am also planning on how to write it all up so that you guys will be able to read all about it as soon as possible.

I have been doing nothing exciting with my time and am slightly disappointed that my planned trip to the cinema for Classic Movie Tuesday with the We Watch Films guys has been cancelled. This has become my monthly escape and I am now stuck in the house with madam this evening instead. But I am mainly just being moany and selfish, just ignore me... I am *quite* glad I don't have to sit at the Odeon for a few hours though, those seats are still as uncomfy as they ever were...

I think the last time I had been there before the WWF guys showed the Labyrinth was with friend L and we watched the Grease anniversary showing! (I may have completely mis-remembered this event!). I remember going to see the Blair Witch Project there as well...

But I do love going to the cinema and it used to be my bad habit when I lived with my parents. I went 3 or 4 times a week and would think nothing of going from a late shift and then to a midnight showing (obviously not if I was on the early the next day!).

I used to be so up to date with what was around and I still feel that loss of freedom quite keenly. I have to make so many arrangements just to go once a month now, it sucks :( 

Although, I have got a decent working DVD player again and can at least watch stuff in the evenings. I still get stuck with madam's choices after school though! I have vetoed certain films for a while now! We'll be finishing off the film version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this afternoon. We went through the whole of the BBC TV adaption the other day and she wanted to compare! 

I have to say watching one straight after the other really does throw up the "Hollywoodisation" of the film. But I do still quite enjoy it. I have to pretend I don't know the books, but I can just about not throw things at it (unlike friend V!). I do wish someone would make the Magician's Nephew into a film though, I have a real love for that book...

Madam and I went on another nature walk at the weekend and found yet more mushrooms for her to look at. The best was a lilac/grey one we found in the beech wood near my parents. No idea what it was. We never dare pick or eat any just in case they are poisonous. I'd love to go out with an expert and do some proper foraging. I know that we see a lot of parasol mushrooms and as far as I'm aware you can eat those, but I still have that fear just in case we are wrong!

Sadly, I didn't take my phone out with me so didn't manage to get a photo of the lovely purple 'shroom, or any of the windmills we passed on the way home. There are three locally that are no longer in use, but there is a working one locally too (the picture at the top). We need to go back there again. I really want some locally produced flour :)


21 November 2013

a work, or two, in progress

I have done it again. I have started another project without actually quite finishing the last one. I didn't used to do that when I first started. So what changed?

Which bit of me is it that is incapable of finishing what I've started? Because it creeps up and attacks me in other areas of my life as well. I am at an international level for my  procrastination, that much has been true for years. But that usually involves me *not* starting something...

I know that part of it is the thrill of the new I think we all suffer from at various points. You know, when you have to wear your new shoes around the house all day as it's the only way you'll get to wear them... But this thing where I'm racking up unfinished craft projects is not my norm. I am the person who read the Silmarillion (yes, I do want a medal, thanks) because I had started it and didn't want to give up.

(I've just googled Silmarillion to see if I spelt it correctly (I had) and apparently they're talking of making it into a film! Why?)

The only book I have ever given up on, in fact, is Don Quixote. And if you are one of the people who thinks it's brilliant, I will laugh. Because I loathed it. I also really didn't like Wuthering Heights, but did finish it. I have read both Shirley and Vilette because I enjoy Charlotte Bronte's writing. Neither of which were particularly fun for me. So this plodding on until I get it finished is actually my default and I don't know how it's got out of kilter.

Or do I? (that was like some terrible TV thriller). I have begun to wonder if I should view it as a good thing. Not because I end up with loads of unfinished things lying around my already untidy home, but because it shows an unwillingness to put up with things.

I have had a low boredom threshold for years and was trained to stick with things until the end and the joys of delayed gratification. But I am older now, and though I am not seeking instant pleasure wherever and whenever, I am not happy to accept being stuck with something I'm not enjoying.

Why should I? I have, after all, taken the bull by the horns and reclaimed my own life because I was unhappy. I even had to convince myself that giving up on the relationship wasn't giving up. It was actually growth. And allowing myself to be in charge of my life rather than a spectator was ok. I still have wobbles where I realise the power of what I have done, or when K *still* calls me his girl (actually, that mainly pisses me off, how has he not got the message yet?).

On a complete side note, my cousin was asking if I was ok and telling me how sorry he was that life was being shit to me. I mentioned that I was feeling stronger and wasn't prepared to be anyone's punching bag. He hadn't known that part of it and has now promised to beat him up when he next sees him. Which I really don't want, but is quite sweet of him to offer! See, I need someone who wants to fight for me, not with me...

Anyway, back to my inability to finish projects. But it isn't even that. Because 9/10 I do finish them. I just have to have a bit of distance to get re-excited about it again. I set myself challenges with some of my projects by going in at a level I'm not really at yet and hoping I can do it. Sometimes it defeats me and I have to back down and do some simple projects to bolster my confidence for another assault at it. This is certainly how I treat my crochet. And I think that might be because I taught myself from books and magazines with no knowledge of what it should look like. 

I was always pretty confident with the knitting as I have seen people doing it my whole life and knew mine looked "right". But crochet? Nope, none of my family/friends did that. I know a lot who do now, but not when I started. I am more bold with my choices but also love trying new motifs. Because they are small you can try out new stitches/techniques in relative safety. 

So I think that maybe, being always excited and on to the next project is helping me learn more techniques. I want to know it all and grow my skills. The only area this falls down is my sewing! I am still lacking in confidence. Right down to the cutting the pattern. In fact, it's mainly the cutting. Once I have the pieces, sewing it together is not too hard. Fiddly sometimes, but fairly straightforward with the machine. And I like my machine, it does what I ask it to. Bonus!

So, this new pattern I got, I might need some help with... But I will do it :)

Moral of the story? Not sure there is one. But a work-in-progress is not necessarily the only work-in-progress. Learning new skills is fun. Learning when to call it a day is also good...

19 November 2013

what's in a name?

I've done it. It's finally official. My name is now changed and I am back to my maiden name. Despite my flirtations with changing it more completely I have chosen to merely revert as it's easier that way.

After all, the name I was given at birth is one I will always own and as soon as I sort out my divorce will be available for me to use again. Just this weird bit whilst I'm separated means I needed a bit of paper.

And my friend J, who's a solicitor, drew it up for me over the weekend and I signed it yesterday and that's it. She didn't even charge me for it, bless her. So all of you who had got to grips with the weird spelling that I changed it to can now try and remember how to spell the weird name you first knew me as!

my name is all over this, so excuse the massive amount of blacking out!
This new name thing is affecting me more than I thought it would. I woke up this morning with a new feeling of hope about everything. Its like the name has given me some of my identity back, if that makes sense. I feel like, by becoming what I was in the past, I can reclaim my future. My married name had become like a weight around my neck and I felt stifled by it. There was no future in the name so I saw no future in me.

I am reborn. Which is a stupid phrase and has rather weird imagery in my head, but is also the only way in which I can describe it.

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life and I'm feeling good (as someone once sang!). It was the right time to do this. I could have waited, but I needed that line drawn. And now that I am focussing on myself again, at last, I needed to be the real me. I can't imagine starting a new job, a new career as my married self. 

In my mind that is a different person, someone downtrodden and afraid of the world. No confidence, defeated. And I am emerging from that past self, shaking it off, learning and growing and changing.

My confidence went up a few notches overnight too. I feel, finally, like I am worth someone's time and attention. And a someone who is prepared to treat me the way I deserve. I still am unconvinced I'll ever meet that someone, but the ability to dream about it is enough for now.

The main thing now is remembering how to do my old signature! I've had to stop and think about it already! In fact there is a page in my notebook where I've practised it! Like I used to do when I was a kid and pretending I was signing an autograph! (gosh, lots of exclamation marks there, sorry)

I am starting anew.

New name.
New start.
New life.
New hope.

New is good.    

16 November 2013

a new chapter

I have started on a new story, my old one has come to a grinding halt and I can't think my way around it. This is what I have so far, let me know what you think:

It started on a Tuesday. At least, she thought it was a Tuesday. It was hard to tell from this point in time. Especially as time was refusing to run in a straight line any more.

She wasn't even sure how she had done it. She had woken up as normal, had a shower and got dressed. She'd mulled over the red dress or the blue playsuit (she'd gone for the dress as playsuits could be so annoying sometimes).

She'd had a quick breakfast, just a banana and a less than satisfying cup of coffee. And then she'd left the house and walked down the street the same as she always did. She had turned the corner onto the main road and been surprised to see the bus stop had disappeared. And not just been moved or something, but genuinely gone. With no marks on the pavement to even show where it had been yesterday, where she'd stood at the same spot and caught the bus to work.

She'd turned to go into the little corner shop that she sometimes went into when she ran out of bread or milk. The owner looked at her in a sleazy way so she only used it in emergencies. Except, it wasn't there either. In fact it was a different shop altogether. It was a full post office with a box built into the wall and everything.

Now this was a definite turn up for the books. As far as she could remember there was a big campaign to stop them closing post offices down. And they definitely weren't opening new ones. Moreover, this had the look of a well-established place. There were even cards in the window with adverts on. She took a step closer to read one which had caught her eye, it had a photo of a vintage Fiesta on it, but what had really caught her eye was the large writing underneath which said "Only 1 Year Old". And the price next to it was enough to make her laugh. 

She went inside and was immediately struck by what people were wearing. She found herself staring at a man with a moustache so like the comedy ones people sometimes wear out of a cracker, she almost laughed. She was going to talk to one of the cashiers when she started noticing the price labels on things. Most of them were in pence. And there were half pennies on some of them!

Now, she was definitely afraid. She was trying to rationalise it, but she couldn't. It appeared she'd gone round the corner from her house and walked straight into the seventies. Or maybe the eighties, she couldn't remember when half pennies had been withdrawn. 

And had she been born then? She was born in 1986, they must have been gone by then as she didn't remember them.

So, whenever she was it was definitely before she was born. And how was she to get home? Or even explain to her boss why she wasn't at work!
"Sorry I wasn't at work yesterday, but I seemed to have slipped through the space/time continuum and come out before I was born. Couldn't get a bus from there, it won't happen again."

She left the post office again and stood back outside where the bus stop should be. She looked and noticed all the cars on the road had really old number plates, the kind that started with all letters. She walked back around the corner in the hope that things would return to normal, but knew instantly that they hadn't when she saw a white man coming out of her neighbour Mr Singh's door. And as she watched him lock the door behind him she was pretty certain she wasn't just making a rather stupid error. 

She stopped in front of her house and saw that the front door was now a pale blue colour whereas she'd painted it a cheerful yellow. She didn't really know what to do with herself. She realised that all her money would be of the wrong size and design so she wouldn't be able to buy anything. She hoped that the banana would sustain her for however long this adventure lasted.

She walked down to the bottom of her street and saw there was a playpark on the scruffy patch of grass that she knew as a rather empty parade of shops. There were several mums sat on the benches watching their small children play. She smiled to herself as she remembered how much freedom she'd had as a child. Not stuck in the house with some form of electronic entertainment.

And then she saw the sign notifying the residents of brand new shops to be constructed. Work expected to start August 1982... 

15 November 2013

no, not a job, a career

A view you can't get tired of.

My job hunting has been slow and steady. I have applied for a couple of things and had a consultation or two with the National Careers Service who have been really very helpful and pointed me in the direction of all sorts of things I didn’t know about. I have one application in at the moment that I am really quite hopeful about.

I have applied to one of the local schools as a Cover Supervisor. Which is a job that I don’t think existed when I was at school. It involves working within the classroom and also in other roles around the school. For example, supervising detentions or sitting with someone who is in isolation for whatever reason. I could be helping with after school activities, going on school trips as an extra body, all sorts really. But the main idea is that I cover for any teacher who needs to be out of their classroom for a lesson or so. I deliver their lesson plan and mark any work etc.

It’s a bit like being an in-house substitute teacher without having to be an actual teacher. So I can totally apply without a teaching qualification. I had a right stress about filling the form in as I am incredibly bad at selling myself and feel like an idiot when referring to myself in the third person. But my stressing worked in my favour as I got the end date muddled and handed in the form before the deadline which made me feel better.

The main reason I am so excited is that I think I actually match the person specification really well. I even had some of the desired skills as well as all the essential ones. I have to wait until the 20th Nov before I know my fate as if I haven’t heard before then I know I don’t have an interview. But if I don’t get one I fully intend to find out why not as I think I am a good candidate. And it would be handy to work on something to help me in the future rather than dwell on disappointment.

I have seen another couple of teaching assistant type roles, both of which are in the SEN area. I would find this a really interesting place to work so am applying even though I know I don’t have the correct experience. They can only say no, after all. I also have a new plan to get some school based experience with my local LEA. I have finally finished updating my CV and will be sending that in to schools along with the correct form they would need from me already filled out (Giz a job!).

I am still really keen to find a job that would allow me to use my listening skills as I do enjoy that type of work and have been looking at both school counsellor and education welfare officer jobs. The former seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth and the latter doesn’t appear to be a need locally. Sucks. But perseverance is the key!

On an unrelated note, it's Children in Need in the UK and madam is going to school in her pyjamas to help raise money. She thinks this is a great idea and I am quite happy to donate a pound for the privilege. They work they do is inspiring and although we haven't directly benefited from their UK work I have friends who have.

In Hull they support both the C.A.R.E. project and the Visually Impaired Cricket Team. The former is somewhere that I would really like to be part of and work for. 

Oh, and one final thing. Hull is up for the UK City of Culture 2017 finals. There is a film that has been produced to back the bid. It makes even me feel incredibly proud of the city. It is time good things happened there, they have been waiting for a chance and this could really be it. The link to This City Belongs To Everyone is here for some reason it won't let me embed the video... 

The whole of the city is getting behind it and there was even a point where #HullYes trended in the UK on twitter because of it. That's us winning the social media battle, lets hope we win the title!

14 November 2013

the benefits of jobseeking

Perhaps I need to start widening my job-hunting criteria!

There has been much stress in my life over the last couple of weeks whilst I sorted out going from Income Support to Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). I was told all the steps I needed to take and *exactly* when to take them.

I did ask them whether I could apply for JSA early as a payment gap would be a big issue for madam and I. They assured me that if I applied when I was told to that there would be no issues. This was obviously one massive lie.

I have spent the last couple of weeks in a weird kind of limbo wherein I am being paid money, but not the quantity I was anticipating and at different times than I was planning on. I have at least been paid enough that I covered my rent payments, but it left me with nothing else. Almost literally.

My mum and dad lent me some cash just to tide me over and I thought it would be resolved on Tuesday this week when my next payment was due in. Again, I was wrong. The payment wasn’t there at which point I had a major freak out and considered making a formal complaint to the DWP.

I found the site to make complaints and it said I should check with my branch to see if they could help before instigated complaint procedures and I figured, as I was going to sign on, I would ask them in person. Having got to sit with my advisor and he ticked me off I then asked about my money.

The chap looked at me as if I was a bit of a wally and explained for JSA the signing on acts as a signal to release my money and then it would be paid a couple of working days after that. Why no-one could have told me that at any point before I got to meltdown level, I don’t know. The upside is that I am expecting a full payment on Friday and can then pay off all sorts of other things that have been on pause whilst I’ve been transitioning.

One of the things I am waiting to do is change my name by deed poll. This has been more of an issue than I thought it would. It’s my name after all and I *should* be able to call myself whatever I fancy. My dad has proved less keen than I was expecting. I have said for ages I would go back to my maiden name but then, I thought, why should I? I have spent years frustrated at people’s inability to pronounce or spell my name; I should go for something easier.

My mum’s maiden name is really nice and easy and my uncle didn’t have any kids so will die out with him. Well, their branch of it will at any rate, so why not change it to that then. One word: Dad. He was not keen on the idea at all and when my cousin jokingly said I should use it as a first name with my maiden name as a surname he got even more upset! I think it might have been in part as I agreed with said cousin and said it was cool. At no point would I ever have *actually* done that though. I do not wish to spend the rest of my life explaining why I am named after a woodland creature!

So then today I came up with a name that combined the two and I actually quite liked (I still am unlikely to actually use it) and this did at least raise a bit of a smile with my dad. But I think I will just go back to re-joining my lovely Scottish roots. I have always been proud of that part of myself; it’s always made me a little unique amongst my friends. And my middle name, which I loathed for years? Nope, gonna keep that too. Unique is good sometimes. I am nothing if not full of contradictions.

So, having spent a couple of weeks dithering and deciding I think I will just revert to maiden name as I had always planned to. But now I have made the decision I want to be able to do it instantly, the waiting for the official paperwork may be all just too much for me! I then just need to filter it out to everyone who knows me by my married name. Bank first, methinks…

Oh, and then I have to deal with my poor madam being upset she can't change her name too... I have been told the school might do it for her within that setting, but obviously not on anything official.

She had the day off school yesterday as she's having another viral wheeze episode with the rotten cold she has at the moment. We mainly sat about in our 'jamas and played around in the morning and then we went to my parents to annoy them for a bit! Madam introduced them to the Lorax which they both giggled at and I went to the jobcentre again for a meeting with a training advisor. The result of which is me being booked on a course to update my IT skills... 

7 November 2013

I never thought you'd leave in summer

Friday night into Saturday morning I spent watching stuff on YouTube. And I ended up, somehow staying up all night (at a certain point I just decided sleep would make me feel worse.) But I watched all sorts of crap. And I started watching some inspirational stories and things and basically making myself all over-emotional.

And then, for some reason I have yet to fathom, I went for the big guns. I saw it as one of the recommended next videos and I thought, why not? What did I see? Well, it was the MJ memorial service.

My lovely and wonderful friend H recorded it for me on the actual day as I was moving and didn't have chance to watch. She transferred it to DVD and gave it to me whereupon it has sat on a shelf for a little more than 4 years as I couldn't bring myself to watch it.

It flashed up on my screen and I thought yeah, sure, lets give it a watch. After all, it's been ages and I'll be fine.

I was not fine. I wept through large parts of it. I felt like my heart was breaking all over again. I shouted at madam when she interrupted me (she was up by the point I started watching it) and I made myself watch right until the very end when his 11yr old daughter said her goodbye to him. I don't think anyone, whatever they think about MJ, could have not been moved by her little speech.

But at the end, although I was horrendously emotional, I felt better. I've finally let it go. His dying was such a big thing in my life, for he had been such a big thing in my life up until that point, and I had packed it away. I had hidden it behind all the other things that happened in my life shortly after it.

And now that I'm finally moving past them, I have to move past that as well. I feel like I have lost someone who was a part of my family for a long time but that I have at least had the chance to say goodbye. My relationship with MJ still lives, he still sings my heart better whenever I need him to. But I'm ok with that being all it will ever be from now on.

I have had this post whirling around in my head since Saturday with the worries of how other people will react to me lamenting MJ when it's 1, a controversial issue and 2, so long since it happened. But this is *my* blog. And it is personal, that's why I have it. So there. As they say!

Though I am annoyed that I will now never be able to listen to one of Stevie Wonder's songs ever again. It just was the perfect tribute song. But I will now have to stick it in my "only when feeling totally emotionally stable should I listen" folder.

You'd be surprised how many songs I keep in there. Self editing is a marvellous process... If you are as nosy as me you will want to know which song, so I shall put the YouTube link  here sorry, it's not the *best* quality here. And if you're not on a mobile here it is for you:

I genuinely have always loved that song... (Stevie comes a close second to MJ in my collection). 

I have other things I want to update you on, but it seems inappropriate within this post. So I shall leave this one just for MJ and write another post with that in.

I will hold this man in my heart forever. Goodbye MJ. God bless you. 

3 November 2013

annual mushroom hunt 2013

At about this time last year we went on a mushroom hunt with madam and my parents. We got some great photos and found an enormous amount of different ones. All just in a field near the chalk quarry which is up a public footpath which starts near my parents house. That image on the sidebar is of madam standing near one.
So today we thought we would go hunting again, speculating that we would find loads. But sadly we didn't find the same variety as last year, and none of the big fairy rings were in evidence... However, there were still loads in the field and madam really enjoyed it. Here are the photos we took :)