I’m lying on the mattress on the floor, listening to the Minecraft incidental music playing through the TV on the other side of the chest of drawers separating the ‘bedroom’ from the ‘lounge’. It’s been 9 months and we’re still in the council bedsit. But we now have a key each at least, and storage and a freezer; we gave up believing in temporary and are making the best of what we have while we wait for fortunes to change. I’m leaving the college in July to search for a job that isn’t on a zero hour contract basis so that if we’re still here I can at least start looking for somewhere aside from social housing: damned letting agents and their refusal to see past the ‘zero’!. I’m also trying my damnedest to finally get a driving license as that would enable us to look farther afield for somewhere to live that better fits our budget. That’s the thing a lot of people don’t get: in order to make a change for the long-term better, you sometimes have to make a short term change for the worse, I know that quitting a well paid job seems counterintuitive but having our house sold out from under us by the landlord was the kick up the arse I needed to ditch a tiring, stressful job that pays well, in order to find something that may not have as great an hourly rate but will ultimately lead to a better work-life balance and the ability to find a home. I’m not daft, I haven’t quit the uni as well – that at least is a rolling fixed term contract, and it covers most of our immediate outgoings. ..But the 2 college jobs have to go; I will go stack shelves at minimum wage if it means I get a proper contract that facilitates a suitable roof over my head and more quality time with my family. Zero hour contracts are a cancer so far as employee security is concerned: we’d have moved ages ago if a letting agent would even consider us – I’ll never accept that type of employment ever again: regardless of the hourly rate! Nor will I consider shift work, that’s the quickest way to return to bedridden hell when you have ME/CFS. Nope, I plan to take my time and build up my energy reserves again then find the right career compromise: I’m heartily sick of living in storage.
So, update: house sold for £240,000. Next door were also given notice within a week of ours being sold and their sign went up yesterday so we’re both in the same boat now: just shows you, it’s hell to rent!
I’m not concerned though, why? I had an unpleasant call from the sales agent the other week. He asked me how the house hunting was going, I didn’t lie that is wasn’t looking promising – what’s the point? I want out of here asap and keeping them in the loop means they’re more inclined to help us find somewhere else. At least that was my thought.
He proceeded to spin horror story upon horror story about what happens to tenants who don’t move out before the section 21 notice period expires – followed by faux concern over the possibility of the buyers and our landlord suing us for any accrued costs caused by us still being here; you get the picture.
Afterwards I spent about 5 minutes furiously bawling my eyes out and totally stressing before getting angry – how DARE he call me up and make me feel like that, using such crappy scare tactics to try and coerce us into uprooting and becoming ‘intentionally homeless’ as the council put it. So I did what I always do when something stresses me out – I conducted research and made a list: something the internet and a university education makes a lot easier I might add!
You know what? The oily creep did me a favour; I wish I’d known YEARS ago what that research told me because I could have saved myself several stressful stints of couch surfing over the past 2 decades.
We do not have to leave the property by the date noted in the section 21 notice; all that bit of paper is designed to do is to inform the tenant that after the date specified, the landlord will be applying to the courts for an order of possession (which could take months depending on the court schedule) at THAT point we will get a letter stating a legal departure date; but if we haven’t found anywhere we still do not have to leave until the landlord has once again applied to the courts for a bailiff to evict us – yes, we will likely have to pay those court costs for him but I’d rather that than go live in a tent or rely on friends/ family for the next few months while we save up for a deposit.
The truth of the matter is, we’ve been priced out of the area in which we live: despite being a double income family, we’re still a low-income family (at least we are in a place where rents are £950- £1700pcm for a 2-bed property) I refuse to move elf from her school seeing as she’s settled and happy and doing well: SATs are coming up – I may disagree with testing kids of her age but I still want her to do well in them for her sake; self-esteem is a tricky beast and she needs a foundation of confidence because she takes failure hard already.
Which is why we’re having to go down the social housing route. There are benefits to it so I keep being told: we would stand more of a chance of finally owning our own home once we’ve been housed for a certain length of time than we would staying with the private sector – this speaks to my long-held dream of never having to move again. But before that can happen we may have to deal with a couple of years of less than ideal accommodation – though even there it’s not all bad; public sector housing is maintained to a far higher standard than most of the places I’ve lived in the private sector, repairs are usually finished within a month of the request being made plus you have more control over the living space. More importantly though that living space is about half the cost of the private sector which would allow us to start saving again for something better.
I was tempted for a quick move yesterday when I saw our old flat had come back on the market then common sense kicked in: elf would no longer fit in the tiny room her toddler bed dominated back then, the winters were terrible and we’d essentially live in the front room because it was too cold to stay in any other room. But yeah, for a second it was tempting: just walk half the furniture back down the road and store the rest in a garage until we could move somewhere more suitable… Except we’d never be able to move because the rent is now too high. Add in the cost of renting a second garage and …Nope. Not feasible.
There is a part of me that thinks we’re being a bit precious: plenty of 1-bed places are around in our price range; many people have to live like that the world over; but then I think why is not wanting that being precious? I’m not leaving this house through choice, I work bloody hard and so does my husband (yep, that still gets me… Husband!) Plus elf needs space, I need space since I do a lot of work at home and 1 bedroom for 2 adults and 1 child does not a happy marriage make. I don’t drive and my illness means excessive travelling is out because i’d wind up losing all 3 of my jobs due to the inevitable relapse, so we need to stay here near my work and I REFUSE to change elfs school so… Yeah, council it is. And they state that you have to be ‘officially homeless’ which means going through the aforementioned court process, otherwise we’re not classed as a housing need since if we leave before we get a court order we will have left ‘of our own accord’.
Stupid huh? Still, it gives us time to hope that something in our price range does come up – if it doesn’t we just have to wait til a council place opens up so nope, no longer concerned because we’ve done everything we can up to this point. We have a plan in place for packing and moving as and when something comes up so now we just wait – and save every penny we can.
Just sucks that it’s all happening the year I turn 40 (the exact weekend in fact) and they say that’s when life begins lol ahhh.. the adventure! Anybody want to buy me a house in Hatfield for my birthday..? Just a suggestion 😉
So, Agent came round; house has been valued at £230,000 but nothing from the landlord yet on possible eviction. The agent was very positive about his ability to sell to a ‘buy-to-let’ guy but to be honest that’s what the last agent said at the place we got sold out of before we moved in here.
I’m not as stressed as I was though, I’ve had my freak out and now am just resigned to whatever is thrown at us. I still have to get up and go to work, be a mum and deal with the other general shit that goes with life; I also get to feel useful and that’s something to be thankful for so it’s not all bad.
Currently it’s a case of keeping an eye on the outgoings even more zealously than usual and hoping to have enough saved before we are forced to leave here – if a new landlord takes over the place then great but she/he’s still likely to want to do things to the place: it desperately needs new floors/ windows, the white goods are pretty much shot and the decor is tired, which means we may get to stay on but it’ll be less than hassle free and the rent will definitely be increasing even if a slumlord who has no interest in fixing everything takes over.
I’m mentally packing and sorting what can go into storage from now until we know the score so that I can just up and sort it out the second we get the word. I already know the order of removing everything to our garage to ensure the best way of packing a removal van (all those years of Tetris served me well) I’ve even started my moving spreadsheet – I’m sure Stef will be delighted to hear this…Not.
I’m looking at this as an opportunity to put my thoughts about living in storage into action: de-clutter, sell what we can and chuck what we make into a help to buy isa. One day I will live the dream and be secure in the knowledge I will never have to move home again; Just not this time.
Yup, the perils of renting have again caught up with me.
Our landlord apparently wants to sell up: agent is booked in to come and do a valuation tomorrow. This, as you can imagine, is stressful. Normally I take it in my stride and curse and vent and just get on with it but for some reason, this time… I’m just not coping: mentally I’m like a stunned fish – gasping for breath and seeing nothing good in my future.
This is the worst part – the waiting. We have not been officially notified by the letting agency but now we know he intends to sell, it’s just a matter of time before that section 21 appears through the letterbox. I have had to move over 30 times in my adult life – 22 of those were forced due to repossessions or property sales. I’m sick of being forced to move just as I start relaxing and setting down roots, I’m 40 this year I want some bloody roots dammit!
Maybe it’s so much harder this time because for once everything in my life was falling into place: our relationship is in a good place, we just joined the gym so health is (was) looking up and work is finally at a point where I’m not just paddling to keep my head above water – there have actually been weeks where I’m all caught up or even *gasp* ahead.
The timing could also have been better – funds are at an all time low after the wedding and there is practically nothing in our price range on the rental market where we need to live. Having to take into account the catchment issues for Elfs school, my lack of transport for work and the need to find funds for multiple agency fees on top of rent and moving costs… My brain has kind of imploded trying to work out all the variables: Elfs school, my job, Stefs job, packing, funds…
Goodbye gym membership, goodbye being on top of work and goodbye peace of mind and the ability to sleep soundly until we have another temporary new roof over our heads.
Seriously – do a search for unfurnished rental properties under £1000pcm in Hatfield, Herts that have 2 double bedrooms, off road parking and garden (though even the garden is now a luxury we can likely not afford so goodbye all our furniture, equipment and Elfs trampoline; at least selling garden stuff may make us half a months rent…)
I know hubby will likely be disapproving of me posting this online for the world to see but I am SICK of it. Whenever we move we have to find a guarantor; even if we can show we earn enough to cover everything, the actual credit check goes on the guarantor and as ours are both retired… Well, the places that limits us to are very low priced and therefore non-existent and the upfront deposit plus ‘shortfall’ will be crippling. This is the reality of having a zero point contract; just because you can show 4 years worth of bank statements with decent(ish) wages, you cannot guarantee those wages will continue or remain constant and without that guarantee you cannot get a bloody shed in this world!
2016 sucks. Official.
I’m by nature a navel gazer. I like to ponder things and how they relate to me: I’m what you would term narcissistic and I am very aware of the fact (though not where looks are concerned: I’d rather avoid a mirror and slob than primp every 5 minutes) seriously, just look how many times I use the word ‘I’ in this paragraph for example – it’s ALL about me. But that’s part of self-reflection right? It’s how we check that we are on the right path; that we are improving ourselves – both in mind, body and action.
I like to think of myself as open minded. I have a rather strong sense of right and wrong (as do most people) but to my mind anything goes – so long as it doesn’t negatively impact anyone else: you want to sleep with your sibling/ cousin/ total stranger in a toilet/ field/ classroom/ glass shed? Hey, if they’re up for it too go enjoy yourselves – I DON’T CARE; it’s only wrong if by doing so you hurt somebody else (and man will I get shouted at for that viewpoint: people truly believe that where sex is concerned there is no end to the judgement they can provide) Speaking of… You’re fantasizing about ramming the head of the preachy prat in the next room through a sink and shoving a razor blade between his bum-cheeks? Cool, i’ll help embellish the fantasy – so long as fantasy is where it stays. Yep, I like to think of myself as open minded. But I’m not, hence the judging on my part: you intentionally hurt someone else through word or deed and you’re the biggest talking phallus on the planet in my book.
I’m not naturally a good person – I work at it. Not always successfully it’s true; I’m too sarcastic and though I hate to see people judging others I still do it too, before I catch myself in the thought – which is when I berate my critical self and question my viewpoint on the subject and make excuses on behalf of the judged.
People are entitled to make mistakes; I try, REALLY try, not to judge the people who do – but when they cause pain – intentionally or not – through their mistake, it is hard not to make a judgement. This is when we have to catch ourselves and make allowances; we’ve not walked in their shoes, we don’t know what led them to be where they are now; swallowing guilt or brazenly flaunting their lack of shame.
You are human. You KNOW right from wrong; you have the capacity of reason and can make the choice to NOT take certain actions. If you knowingly decide to do something that gives you even the faintest twinge of guilt when you think of how another person will view that action then you stop and do not do it. Simple as that.
BUT, I also understand that people are naturally weak and that they have the capacity to learn and that we all learn best through making mistakes. I do know that there are very few things that will make me personally withhold any kind of forgiveness and understanding, but, If as stated above, someone knowingly betrays another or knowingly causes harm by taking advantage of another they can consider themselves off my friend list: even if the person they hurt ‘deserves it’. …Unless they can show they’ve learned from it enough to never want to be that person again; that the contrition is real and lasting.
There is a saying that people never change but that expression is bollocks: the only reason a person will never change is if they never learn.
So what do I mean by ‘learn’? “the cognitive process of acquiring skill or knowledge”? not quite, though that is a part of it. “a change in neural function as a consequence of experience”?basically, yes. ..Because if you are literally changing the physical state of your brain (and that is precisely what you do when you learn – neuro-scientist types back me up on this) then it stands to reason that to learn results in “a change in behaviour as a result of experience”. See – people can and DO change.
Now sadly, some people seem to learn bad behaviour and wrong thinking as a result of experience – which is why I try to give the benefit of the doubt and look for underlying reasons or causes behind specific behaviours: teaching has taught ME a lot about myself and how I react and a lot about how other people react to things like stress, the environment around them and their own fear and helplessness or loss of control.
Because ultimately that is what everything that is judged boils down to: control. This is why people are weak: the need to feel in control is inbuilt and it may only be about small things – not everyone wants to lead for example – but when the control over that small thing is threatened people do not react in nice ways, they give in to weakness. Only the strongest can lose this feeling of control and not seek to strike out or act out in response. I strive to be one of the strong ones. Always.
But… My poor husband (yup, still like saying that: it’s still new enough to make me chuckle a bit) he, along with my best friend, will probably attest to the fact that striving to be strong is about the best I can handle; especially on the days when PMS, ME/CFS or Menieres disease have a hold of me. When I’m tired or hungry I am a bear – except that’s not really fair to bears: I’m pure acid tongued bitch on speed at those times; I aim to wound all around me in my pain and frustration and my aim is generally true.
This is why I hide away from certain people and prefer limited contact to crowds; because I navel gaze. I know my own weakness and limitations – I know that to be around people at those times will result in words said that cannot be unsaid: I KNOW right from wrong and I know that unless I want to hurt someone (and I don’t, not really) I need to keep my trap shut and avoid the temptation to let out the evil thoughts and nasty judgmental observations that will make someone breakdown in tears and question their very identity (I’ve done it before – it’s my own special talent and one I strive to never use).
I navel gaze to try and hold on to just enough control so that instead of talking I walk away. Instead of hitting send I hit delete. Instead of becoming a walking talking phallus I retain that spark of humanity that knows it is wrong to cause pain and suffering to another person – no matter my own hurt at the time. Do you?
So, the government are happy to cut this that and the other from those most needing help in society by claiming they need to cut the spending budget; they then fork out a stupidly huge sum for a state funeral that really needn’t happen.
Seriously, why should we, the tax payer, fork out for Maggies funeral? Fair enough if the need is so great for her family to afford something decent then if we have to contribute something maybe chuck in for a coffin and a decent plot by all means; but if you must have something available for every man and his dog to view then stream the service on the web; allow the live thing to actually be for friends and family only – like every other sodding funeral going.
Set up a just giving fund for those who want to literally pay their respects with gifts to go to whatever charity the ‘Iron Lady’ held most dear but spare me and everyone else the bullshit state funeral costs; that’s just forcing insult to injury to her detractors knowing that they are paying through the nose towards honouring the memory of a person they detested.
Yes. I’m in a bad mood.
It’s not just the government pissing me off of late, things closer to home are conspiring to ruin my day as well. The viewings have stepped up on our rented property which means every other day we have strangers stomping around our home and interrupting our routine. The fact that not all of them are investors means that we stand a good chance of being given 2 months warning before becoming homeless. This does not fill me with joy as you can imagine.
The couple today look likely to make an offer from the way they were talking; the lass was practically measuring up and couldn’t stop discussing where their furniture could go – and they stayed longer than any other viewer so far,they went around the flat at least 3 times verbally rearranging our living space to suit their needs.
We find out next week where Elf has been placed for school, I’m praying I get my first choice; but then it’ll be sods law that we do and are then forced to move to another area completely where we’ll have to take whatever we’re given as a late admission *sigh* I REALLY hate this uncertainty regarding our living arrangements; it’s bloody stressful! …Which probably explains why the ME/CFS has started creeping back in to suck the life out of me over the last few weeks.
…And enthusiastic potential buyers means OF COURSE the elephant upstairs was completely silent while they were here – it’s only now when I’m trying to work that he starts the usual round of screaming for attention while attempting to come through the ceiling.
As for work; don’t get me started here. I’ll be whinging to twitter about that all afternoon if you’re really interested in my marking exploits. It’s just a shame that my work dries up between June-September which is just perfect timing if we’re forced to move out. So yes. Not best chuffed right now. *sigh* at least I have my brothers wedding to look forward to in 2 weeks right? No stress or drama expected there…
It’s been an interesting few weeks as I get to grips with being a PAID lecturer, yup – got a contract and everything: finally getting cash for telling people what to do. Oh wait – I used to do that when I was a bouncer.. Meh, the more things change…
The main difference with the kind of teaching I’m doing now compared to the informal stuff I did with the various projects I was involved with is that I’m mostly delivering content created by other people a(one module being the exception) and having to deal with the admin side of things that previously I’d never even realised existed. You’d not believe the amount of paperwork a teacher has to deal with outside of the classroom – and I’m not just talking marking and registers!
I started off by being thrown right in at the deep end on a topic I’ve not looked at since my 1st semester on the FD for an FE class – a level I’ve never studied let alone taught – I don’t know the system, the marking scheme, the VLE navigation… Was quite nerve wracking trying to learn all of that AND refresh my memory on the subject to be taught from the supplied course materials.
Lets just say it was NOT a good first experience; I couldn’t get into the room because I’d been given the wrong key code, then I couldn’t get into the staff room to get help because I’d forgotten to bring the code for that room downstairs with me, then I couldn’t access the computer system in the classroom, then somehow my files had corrupted between the staff room and the classroom…
I basically fell to pieces and used up the extent of my subject knowledge in the first 15 minutes trying to busk it from the top of my head, got them to attempt the group task I’d carefully planned without the benefit of the slides I’d prepared (because I couldn’t follow the slides available on the VLE) then when I did finally manage to access the VLE had to use those slides anyway and probably just confused the poor kids as opposed to educate ’em because the stress of the situation kicked off the CFS induced ‘aphasia’ which meant I was clearly struggling to find every other word to describe what needed to be said.
So… Not a great start. In fact quite possibly the most embarrassing 3hrs of my life so far.
I had no issues with my first HE class though; probably because I know the subject well enough to teach without slides if need be, I know the VLE system intimately and it’s an age group I can (just about) relate to – so well within my comfort zone – the fact that they were a ‘nice’ bunch of kids may have helped – receptive, intelligent and obviously wanting to learn for the most part – they’re looking likely to be my ‘faves’ so far.
The other HE classes have caused me no issues for the same reason – though I did get a little riled at this afternoons lot but hopefully next week they’ll remember what I said and understand that when I speak they listen – I’m not wasting my time repeating myself over their chat! ..But even the FE class this week was good – I managed to pull back and cover 2 weeks worth of work in the first session, go over their new assignment AND do a few 1-2-1’s after some group feedback on the 1st assignment.
Sadly it seems I took on more hours than I can really cope with. I’ll be honest, I only took into account classroom hours when I agreed to my timetable – I naively didn’t realise there was so much more to being a lecturer than just tweaking my slides, showing up to impart knowledge and the odd bit of marking:
I ended up having an ME/CFS incident after my first class today and had to go lie down in the medical room for an hour to stave off the shakes and imminent crash. Brought home that I need to be careful at this early stage so it was either lose 2 HE groups or the one FE unit, thankfully it’s the FE unit I’m to lose so that’s going to free up a lot more time to allow me to pace myself; would be a total pisser if I finally get a job and get off benefits only to end up back in bed and on ESA for good.
The really annoying thing about losing the FE class though is that I nearly killed myself last weekend getting into London for a one-day passport appointment for the CRB check; cost me a sodding fortune as well! I don’t need a CRB for HE teaching so all that money and effort turned out to be unnecessary *sigh* always the way eh?!
So, one more week of pushing myself then I can dial it back a bit and settle into a routine. What’s really tickled me though is that the one thing that seems to have surprised some of the staff is my ability to keep a class under control – I can honestly say that’s never been among my concerns – I’ve chucked guys twice my age and size through a fire door so I have no problem telling a bunch of noisy kids to shut up and pay attention.
It’s weird though – I find myself slipping into my ‘mum’ voice if students displease me – the way I speak to Elf when she’s playing up is the exact tone they get *grin* seems motherhood is good training for teaching; either that or doing door work for 6 years was all preparation; mind you so were the admin and customer service jobs when I hit the staff room.. See, everything happens for a reason: I’ve been unknowingly training for this job my entire life ;0)
It seems life is dragging me away from the web on all fronts of late. First there’s the continuous illnesses our household has had to contend with; since September (or even before) we’ve had maybe 2 consecutive weeks where nobody has had a cold/ flu/ norovirus/ ear infection ..and that’s not even accounting for my personal ongoing ME/CFS and Menieres hell.
Then there’s the little things like dodgy net connection, exceeding our bandwidth allowance (thanks netflix!) general motherhood and oh yes, the latest effort real life is making to claw me back from the virtual; my smartphone broke *sob*
I am now back to discovering how much I enjoyed using my MDA Vario (HTC Wizard) the battery lasts THREE DAYS! it has built in calendar and task lists, my old ring tone ( the ‘oohhwa-ah-ah-ah’ bit from the start of Down with the sickness by Disturbed) which annoys my other half no end *grin* It’s a damned good phone.
Sadly it’s not an Android phone. I had to manually update all my contacts and my calendar, I’ve lost all my CFS crash data for the last 2 months (thankfully had backed up in December otherwise it would be 2 years data lost) I can’t access twitter easily any more as I only have wifi and on the MDA it is dodgy at best plus the browser is an old version of IE which doesn’t help matters much. The camera is useless and I can’t put any apps on it *sniff* that’s the worst thing about this phone; I’ve been spoiled, was so used to having everything at my fingers that now I’ve downgraded I’m really missing my apps – especially the bar code scanner for the calorie counting, and my period tracker (so reliant on it that I don’t know my dates now!) I also didn’t realise how often I accessed the TV guide app until I couldn’t do so anymore.
..And please don’t mention twitter – it’s like I’ve lost a limb.
Maybe it’ll bring me back to ‘real’ blogging though, and maybe something will come up that will allow me to pay for this site to continue – like getting off my backside and selling some jewellery or something. Either way, things are changing in my life, boundaries are shifting and I’m once again re-assessing where I want to go and what I want to do.
Ideally someone will employ me soon – even if it’s just for enough hours a week to pay me the £97.50 I’m allowed to earn on top of my benefits; that’d pay for my website and beads and a little left over for bellas trust fund each month. To be honest it’s all I really need in life to keep me going; everyone needs a hobby or two and having money abouve your outgoings.. well! It’s the dream isn’t it?! (Now if someone would pay me full time wages for a part time job I’d be able to get a nice 3-bed house with garden and that would make me incandescent with joy, room to craft properly; my very own dream come true!)
I have decided that if neither adult in this household is employed when my current hosting runs out then this blog will be transferred to a local installation with all my other ‘web stuff’.
It’s a decision made because currently this is a self-indulgent hobby site that serves no real purpose. Initially I bought the domain and hosting because I wanted to further my knowledge of web design and this was to be my playground. Well it served its purpose admirably in that regard but now I know enough about the web that I’d be best served playing on the development environment I have set up offline; having a blog on my own domain is nice but unnecessary, I am NOT a ‘brand’ or business and so until that becomes the case I’m better off reverting to an interface that requires no financial outlay. ..and on the plus side it also means I can have a truly private journal again.
Why is a private journal such a plus..? Well, I used to write as a means of blowing off steam, it was cathartic and helped me to cope with stress and worry as well as to sort out in my own mind the things that were truly bothering me – as soon as I put all of those thoughts on the web and allowed people access to it I had to censor what I write, the more I learned about the web the more I censored – I even deleted several posts in an effort to ‘spin’ my ‘image’ (stupid as I think the wayback machine has everything cached but heyho, you can have a looksee if you really want to..)
Yes, I know I could create a private journal and keep the public one but that’s hassle, why not just have one journal and use category tags to separate the content? That way if I do upload my blatherings in the future I can just remove the private stuff and have all my education, social media, web and jewellery musings available for those of you inclined to read it.
So.. rosevibe.me.uk has served me well but it’s time to let it go, I shall be backing everything up and getting things shipshape as i’m 90% decided to do this even if one or both of us do gain employment before the June deadline: If I do create a website for myself in future it will be under a different domain using my own name and not the username I’ve had for so many years (probably).
There was a slight twinge at the thought of giving up the google juice I’ve garnered through this blog but a search on 3 different search engines shows that “vicky stringer” will likely still have me in the top three if not the coveted top spot in the UK listings (and in one case global listings) with my linkedin and twitter profiles – although that may also change once the links to this blog are removed; but even that’s not a bad thing.
As I said before I’m not a brand or a business, I’m just an individual with nothing to sell; let the coveted top spot go to someone who really wants and needs it and let me fade into some of the less checked results until such time as I choose to do something more productive with my ‘skills’.
Saving money and using resources responsibly is the name of the game for 2012 as far as I’m concerned; this is my first step. I’m getting my virtual house in order and downsizing; what are you doing..?
Everyone’s done a few of those ‘Things to do before I die lists’ so this is my ‘things to do before the death of 2011’ list. I aim to have at least attempted everything on this list by December 31st 2011
- graduate with a 1st class honours in Bsc web based systems
- take Bella to a centerparcs
- create my own font (or 2)
- create a wordpress theme
- renew my passport
- present at another conference (probably BLU if i get my abstract in on time)
- do at least 5 of the beading tutorials I have saved to disc
- attend a beading workshop
- attend a wire working class
- attend a glasswork class
- try yoga or tai-chi
- start building my chronic calendar and symptom tracker app
- start consolidating all of my websites and blogs
- move house
- create a video documenting Bellas first 3 years
- Go to a spa with stef.
What are your plans (or hopes) for this year? do tell..
While completing a music meme on facebook courtesy of Master Chris Hambly, I was caught in a meander down memory lane and I realised that I’ve had many opportunities to live a pretty amazing life.
The meme was one of those ‘list x tracks from your mp3 player’ and because the shuffle function threw up a lot of tracks I don’t listen to very often; mostly from the heavier rock and metal genres, I had quite a few OMG moments; these were the soundtrack of my time in Manchester pre-illness.
I mostly lived in Jillys rock world from the first weekend I ventured out after moving there. The door staff became friends and looked out for me both in the club and out of it (Mo came along on my CBT test and I attended his wedding reception, at one point or another they all picked me and my broken down shitty TZR 125 up from some place or another and I’d house sit every year for the Isle of man contingent when they made the TT pilgrimage)
I started out studying drama at the Abraham moss college where I had my finest theatrical hour as Rosie in ‘My Mother Said I never Should‘, a 4 person 3 hour play directed by a wonderful woman whose name sadly escapes me now.
I was forever being asked to record this that and the other for random people (mostly ‘producers’ using the offer as a pick up line) because the theatre rooms were located at the other side of the recording studios – one time I actually had someone follow us into the theatre demanding to know who had been singing outside the room and while I started apologising they demanded my number for a forthcoming project – much to the amusement of my fellow loveys.
So I guess it’s no shock that I ended up in music (I actually hated the theatre, the people were 90% self-centred/ insecure bitches, 7% couldn’t care less techies and 3% talented actors – loved the acting; hated the people)
From some great collaborations including a local radio promo piece recorded with a talented guitarist called Dave for the MANCAT college I attended (then had to leave when ‘New deal’ came out and my course didn’t meet the criteria for financial aid) to my shining moments of event management..
Perhaps the best work I ever did and I possibly missed my calling there; I first organised a music night for my then boyfriends band, I’d pre-sold a ton of tickets when the head liners pulled out the day before..
After a brief panic I managed to pull some strings (ie begged people I knew) and got the then flavour of the year band ‘Kill II This’ in their place – I was lucky they were willing to do it as a warm up for the already advertised solo gig 2 days later. It was a very successful night and despite spending a fortune on the rider managed to not only break even but make a small profit – which for a first promo event with next to no advertising was apparently unheard of according to Shawn and Russell (the events and bar managers at Manchester Uni S.U)
My second event was even more satisfying – 4 days with 27 bands at the band on the wall; Not sure how I got roped into this..
I was a 1st year popular music student at Salford Uni (another course I was forced to leave for financial reasons) and I was approached by one of the 3rd years for help organising the music performance exams, I had to sort out running lists and stage manage the whole thing – from getting the instruments and equipment to the venue to getting the people on and off stage on time.
It was a roaring success – so much so that I was asked to do the same again at the local pub a few weeks later by 2 of the bands when they were putting on an event.. I kinda miss all that, not just performing but organising things, it was a buzz.
I had a lot of contacts back then because I was part of the student scene both AS a student but also as a bouncer, bar staff and ‘casual crew’ so my work was also my social life and it was a blast.
I was asked to join several bands (even had a 3 fist review for one of my student bands in Kerrang! I still have it, torn out and kept in a photo album; the reviewer LOVED me *grin*) and as I mentioned on facebook; Mark of ‘Kill II This’ fame once asked me to join that very band as a bass player when someone told him I was learning to play bass – sadly I declined but part of me has always wondered what might have been had I accepted..
I passed up several music opportunities; to go on tours as a backstage gofer, to record dance tracks for export (I was an idiot back then and didn’t want to ‘sell out’) and to work abroad as part of a duo.
All this was on top of my day jobs which were generally of the shop assistant/ customer service variety. Until I got a job at the Hard Rock Casino then my life went nuts because those people party HARD. Casino folk are either working, sleeping or partying and they do each of those at weird hours because they do not live the life normal folk know.
It was during that time I got ‘in’ with the car crowd – the guys who do the illegal drag racing up and down dual carriageways and ‘chip’ their cars and always know someone who can get you a part.. I had many a trip to wales at 4am with the lads, night driving is a pleasure! ..So I guess it’s doubly weird that I STILL don’t have a license.
I also had an abortive attempt at a writing collaboration with a guy in Canada – his backers paid for me to fly over there for a weekend after about 3 months of online talks and we spent a night holed up in a room at the holiday inn discussing his (dreadful) screenplay, he’d previously made a film about the treatment of slaves and had sent me a video of it, he wanted to give religion the same treatment.. but upon my return a story (maybe true, maybe not) about his wife becoming terminally ill killed that project and communication dwindled – maybe I should have been less honest with my criticism?
I’ve met so many famous people in the touring music industry that the names have all rolled into a jumble in my mind, a few stand out but generally not for good reasons and I doubt very many of them would remember me any better – I was just the ‘little girl doing back door security’ (as Pantera guitarist ‘Dimebag’ Darrell dubbed me) but I’m still gutted that Bruce Dickinson wouldn’t let me have his flight jacket because that was a cool jacket and most definitely would have been in my size..
I do remember how nice Cass of Skunk Anansie was the night I got talked into giving up seeing the show to work it by my panicked boss – was not best pleased as the tickets had been a birthday present; I’m not a fangrrl and I have zero interest in meeting the artists of work I admire, I just like to watch and listen from a distance (though my one exception to that would be Sandra Bullock; I think she’d be fun to hang out with) He made a point of sitting and chatting to me at the back door and got the side of stage lad to swap with me at one point so I could see at least some of the show.
..Nice guy, great performer; so glad they’re going to be touring again because THIS time I’m getting a ticket and going to see ’em – if it kills me!
Am I crying because its expected?
or do I really feel this grief?
How can they think they know how im feeling?
when they dont know whats underneath.
Its strange the way you think you know someone –
but then you barely know them at all,
We shared so much we knew each other well
…but that was all so long ago.
we grew up and then we grew apart
I should’ve kept much more in touch!
There’s surely something more I could’ve done
I guess I didnt care enough…
I didnt know you were in hospital –
I havent seen you now for years.
I dont want to see you like this now,
a wooden cask obscured by tears.
Tamsin Luke was my best friend in school; juniors and seniors – she liked to spell her name Tamsyn even though that isn’t how it went on her birth certificate; kids are funny like that.
I ran away from home when I was about 9 or so, I had just had a fight with my brother (another one) and mum had sent us both to bed; grounded.
I was indignant because HE started it, and it meant I couldn’t watch the film we’d been promised that was on TV… some science fiction thing (even then I liked that kind of stuff)
After sulking in my room and feeling much abused and hard done by I decided I’d had enough – a neighbour, Dianne, had come round to visit mum and I could hear them talking and laughing.
I put my trainers on (the pink ones with the velcro fastening) and stood on my bed looking out of my bedroom window, Ricky McCormick who was my age and lived dead opposite had told me about his cousins jumping out of their window when they’d been grounded, I decided I could do it too. I managed to lower myself onto the porch.. The whole time I was glancing around nervously expecting to be seen and grassed on, but for once the road was clear – it was an incredibly sunny day – the kind you hear about now but think of as a figment of your imagination (in manchester anyhow) and suddenly the drop looked too far, I tried to climb back up into my room but couldn’t.
I was stuck.
All I could think of was the trouble I’d be in if I was found like this, so steeling myself, I jumped, trying to aim for the grass and hoping the curtains were still closed in the front room to shield the TV from the sun, my luck on that front held, was not so good on the other though – I landed awkwardly and cried out in pain then curled in a ball hoping no-one had seen or heard me..
I then limped across the main road (forbidden territory) to my best friends house.
After lying convincingly to Maureen (Tamsyns mum) that my mum had walked me just up to the bollards separating her estate from the main road (you could just see their drive from there) Tamsyn and I went into the den to watch the film my brother had stopped me from seeing (at least that’s how my mind saw it) afterwards we went out to our secret hidey and I told Tam everything and said I was never going back – we made a plan, I was going to stay for tea then when everyone had gone to bed, I’d be let into the house by Tam and she’d sneak me into their loft – it was a converted one that we had spent many an afternoon playing games and talking about nothing in – as well as reading the books we sneaked from her older brothers room (my older cousin, Lorraine, was in the same year as him and when she babysat for us we’d tease her unmercifully claiming she fancied him…)
About 2 hours later I was starting to feel guilty and decided I wanted to go home and try to sneak back into the house before mum noticed I’d gone.
We crossed the road again – I was still limping and in great pain when I saw Edna and Dianne (our next door neighbours) walking towards us, we hid behind a car and snuck around the back so they wouldn’t see us, sadly Edna caught sight of me and shouted, Tamsyn hid and Edna grabbed me and shook me all the while shouting that my “poor mother was worried sick and what did I think I’d been doing” etc. etc. etc.
By this point the whole neighbourhood knew I’d been found (it turned out mum had decided that we could watch the film after all, she’d gone to tell Richard who’d cried himself to sleep then when she came to get me, found my room empty and the window wide open, the entire neighbourhood had turned out to comb the area for me – no one thought I’d be brave enough to cross the busy main road) I remember being dragged up to my room being soundly beaten and put to bed.
I shouted through the door that she’d always hated me and buried my head under my pillows and then cried myself to sleep. I was taken to the Doctors the next day because my foot had swollen to about 3 times its natural size, I had a hairline fracture right the way across. It still bothers me now in cold weather.
For weeks after that I avoided Tamsyn – I still don’t know why, shame possibly – she finally cornered me and asked if I was upset with her for being caught, we made friends and did everything together again for a while.
Sadly we lost touch when we were at college – unforgivably through a boy.
She’d always fancied my first boyfriend and never tried to hide this from me – I always felt she liked him more than I did but it hurt that he used to call her a slag and all sorts – I have this habit of worshipping my closest friends and it was hard being in the middle..
Anyway – long story short, he and I split up, he asked her out. my mum took great offense to this and basically made it so uncomfortable for Tamsyn that she stopped coming round and I stopped going round to hers.
She went off the rails and left Daventry when they split up, a few years later I moved to Manchester.
I was living with my dad and attending college (performing arts) Mum called me up when I got home from a rehearsal… Dad had already warned me she’d rang 3 times previously so I was prepared to deal with her, (at the time I had many ‘issues’) what I wasn’t prepared for was the blunt “Vicky – Tamsyns dead” I got when I answered the phone. apparently all the blood drained from my face and I dropped the receiver as I sank to the floor, praying I hadn’t heard her correctly…
I managed to get myself together enough to pick the phone up again – Eileen (my step-mum) had jumped up to try and catch me as I fell and she was making all kinds of sympathetic noises while my mum explained that Tamsyn had come home after the new years eve drinking session and had felt ill so had taken paracetamol, she took some more when she got up because she hadn’t felt any better – then got rushed to hospital when she collapsed. apparently it was liver failure.
I went back to Daventry for the funeral – I think dad paid the fare for me, and I was just disgusted that my mum planned to accompany me there – In my irrational state of mind, I felt that Tamsyn and I had lost touch in the first place because of the way ‘mommy dearest’ had treated her.
Anyway, we get there – I’m wracked with grief just like everyone else, We stayed a bit back from the family and watched the coffin buried… as Maureen walked past she saw me and stopped to give me a big hug, we both started crying and she begged me to go back to the house for a private family wake. I said goodbye to my friends and joined everyone at the Luke house, only to discover I was literally the only non family member there.
Maureen took me upstairs to show me Tams room, on the wall by the bed, just underneath the hundred or so photographs she had pinned to the wall was a scrap of paper I’d completely forgotten about – in my handwriting was the date, the place, and the words
“this should be worth a fortune when I’m famous… for my bestest friend Tamsyn Luke”
and I’d even signed it… she wanted me to know that Tam did still think of me as a friend despite the whole Steve fiasco.
We had a cry and a laugh, reminisced about all kinds of things – the abortive running away from home for one… then we went back downstairs, where I was treated by everyone as though I were a member of the family and it dawned on me just how much of my childhood had been spent with them, I’d even gone on visits to the branch in Cannock – they all remembered me and we spent time reminding each other of various exploits… I didn’t want to go home.
In true Luke family tradition the wake became a party – much drunken singing – many tears but almost equal amounts of laughter… everything seemed changed when I got back to Manchester.
I hadn’t seen Tamsyn for the best part of 2 years, but I missed her – so badly, I still do now sometimes… it sounds stupid but I sometimes write her letters and I talk to her, like we used to – I especially missed her when I split up with Ian; he was a little like Steve; only in looks but that was enough to remind me of her and the things we missed out on sharing.
This is a kind of re-post as I’ve preciously mentioned Tamsyn and shared that poem but this is the full story as I remember it; warts and all.
Still miss you Tam.
“She greets us as we enter the world; she is with us when we leave it. She is never more than a second away from us, as close as our own heartbeat; but when she does not stand directly before us, we cannot recall her face.
When she calls, loud and clear, we drop whatever we are doing and attend to her needs alone. At the touch of her hand we forget work, friends and lovers. She is the mistress of the universe. She is pain”
I first read Trader’s World by Charles Sheffield when I was about 14 or 15 and for some reason I memorised this passage so well that nearly 20 years later I still recall it.
..I guess a psychiatrist would have a field day with that revelation.
But isn’t it strange the way our memories work? How a smell, sound or an image can trigger them. The thing I find most strange is why are the unpleasant memories so much easier to trigger than the happy/ fun ones?
This is something that’s been playing on my mind a lot recently because whenever I have an ME/CFS flare up/ relapse or whatever you want to call it, those unpleasant memories boil to the surface at the slightest provocation. If this were me writing as I would 4 or 5 years ago I’d probably describe some of those memories to you in quite some detail; but I’ve learned a lot in those 4 or 5 years about the internet and over sharing so those memories can stay in my head for now.
But it’s not only personal memories that we seem to have little control over, I have tried for years to learn musical theory – I own (and have read) at least 5 books on the subject, had several friends try and explain it to me and through the patience of one of those friends (who drilled me endlessly) learned it well enough to pass the entrance test to a music degree course. ..But within days of doing that test I was back to not understanding a note on the page.
Some things you don’t learn or remember without constant drilling on the subject; other things you soak up like a thirsty sponge, but either way it seems to be some kind of luck as to whether it sticks or not.
I memorised hundreds of things when I was at school, and later on at college – but of all those things; soliloquies, poems, songs, technical information, it never seems to be the useful stuff that I recall. Which is a real shame because if I could recall everything I’d ever read or made a concious effort to learn then would. I. ever. be a force to be reckoned with!
Song lyrics I have no trouble with (well, songs I learned pre-CFS that is) At one point I knew so many songs that my peers nicknamed me ‘jukebox’ and would test me by throwing song titles at me and have me sing a verse/ chorus for them – if someone was trying to think of a song they’d tell me a line and I’d sing it back to them so they could remember; that was my ‘special talent’ I guess.
My interest is the web but my passion is creating things; jewellery, lyrics, website designs and content – I generate ideas for things on a daily basis that I have to put aside through lack of time/ energy or materials until some unforeseen future date..
..my worst fear is that I’ll never have the time, energy or materials for that future date to arrive.
It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with this year, I had to defer all of semester A which has in turn forced me to defer Semester B until next year – my year tutor made the observation that I would have been better suited to part time study but it just seemed like the wrong path to take at the time.
I’m struggling with exams especially; having next to no short term memory is bad enough but then having to deal with the demands of motherhood and family life, seemingly never ending episodes of fatigue and illness on top while attempting to cram technical information into a mind that seems hell bent on it going in one ear to travel straight back out through the other..
I keep reading, making notes, re-reading and it’s like every time is the first time I take in the information. It’s not so bad doing coursework because I know where I need to look to find my answers, but a test of memory – especially a 3 hour long test of memory (or 4 hours in my case as I get extra time due to the illness thing) trying to find the little hooks, the triggers that will allow me to pull those answers from thin air – that’s the trick really.
I have to remember the quality of light coming through the window during a lecture to hear Guys voice in my head explaining the property in question, I need to hear the clatter of the canteen to picture the page I was reading about the description of such and such an effect. I have to be able to picture step by step the process used in a program to explain my reasoning – sometimes you can’t do that without the program in front of you; which is why I hate closed book exams with a passion.
In the real world I have all of these props to hand to help me trigger the flash of inspiration/ the required memory, in a closed book exam I have only my mind; the seemingly inaccessible hard drive with the faulty connectors that get even more faulty as the stress levels rise.
..and trust me, they are constantly rising.
It’s bad enough having all this crap wrong with us, being knackered and in pain all the sodding time while still managing to look the picture of health, people don’t think there’s anything wrong with you and that you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.
We get the ‘look’ a lot from family, friends and colleagues; the look that screams at you that you’re just lazy, that you’re milking it so you don’t have to do X, Y or Z.
The look that says you’re a failure. that you don’t try hard enough to beat the condition, that you give in too easily, that you don’t do enough full stop.
Feeling that kind of unspoken pressure and budding resentment all the time is demoralising because it’s having your own thoughts thrown back in your face a hundred times over.
But that’s not the humiliating thing.
No, what’s humiliating is trying to live a normal life, trying to do it all and succeeding so well in the appearance of this that when you crash in class/ at work from pushing yourself so hard, you’re met with confusion, embarrasment and a feeling of complete and utter alienation.
Today was one such day for me.
I was sat in my PAWS class and I could feel a crash coming on, I’d managed to shut down the laptop and was attempting to pack up my gear in a race against time.
..but it was fairly obvious I wouldn’t make it, not without leaving the laptop and that wasn’t an option as I can’t afford to replace it.
To make matters worse as everyone started heading out to get to the labs for our next tutorial, a classmate made her way over to talk to me and I didn’t have the energy to respond, I just rested my head on the table and prayed that she’d shut up and leave me alone.
I was not to be so lucky, she started badgering me and then at my lack of response began asking if I needed a doctor or the medical center.. I responded NO.
(single syllable words are the limit when the fatigue hits, and only for a few minutes before even they deteriorate into grunts and sniffles)
She kept asking me and asking me – I managed to get out the phrase ‘I have M.E’ so she then started calling back all the guys into the room – all I wanted was the ground to open up and swallow me.
I knew the room was timetabled for us for another hour, I knew the crash wouldn’t last that long if I could keep calm and just go with it; unfortunately she didn’t.
I’m there slumped against the table, struggling against the tears of embarrassment and frustration leaking down my cheeks and dripping uncomfortably from the end of my nose and she’s doing everything in her power to draw attention to me.
“She says she has M.E do you know what M.E is? Vicky, what is M.E? Vicky? Vicky? talk to me, do you need a Dr? Do you want me to take you home?”
And this went on and on until I could force out another “NO, leaf ‘lone” which completely exhausted me.
I could hear the embarrassed shuffling and the muffled commenting amongst the lads, finally one of ’em said “she wants to be left alone.. c’mon we should go” and to my relief, they left.
..The though of having to be in the same room as them all tomorrow fills me with dread, I know the lass will demand a big explanation from me and she’s the type to do so in the middle of a crowded room at full volume – this means even the guys NOT privy to my embarrassing physical breakdown will hear about it.
Oh the joys.
..But even that isn’t the worst part. The worst part was realising that I was alone, unable to move even my eyelids in a place my other half would have no clue to find me and that the people who had left me would not even think to tell someone where I was who could check my records for instructions on what to do for me.
If I could have said, “yes please take me home” to the lass, it still would not have made it happen.
I had a heavy laptop bag and I weigh just over 10 stone – all of which would have been dead weight as I was completely immobile; so how was this tiny lass to carry me and my bag down a flight of stairs and across campus, manhandle me into and out of her car to get me home?
I couldn’t even leave my chair and lie down without being assisted and I didn’t have the strength to ask for the help.
I had to stay in that awkward uncomfortable slumped position with the sun streaming directly onto the side of my face, listening to the comments about me from the people walking past the room laughing at the girl who’d ‘fallen asleep’ ‘had a rough night’ and just pray for the heaviness of the accompanying brainfog to drown out my humiliation and helplessness until the whole episode passed and I could summon the energy to get home.
I was there for 45 minutes.
The usual 10 minute walk home was a 20 minute stumble and I’ve spent the rest of the day in bed completely wasted from the effort of getting home with my bag.
So when people say that ME/CFS is ‘all in your head’ they’re right.
It’s in my head that for 24/7, 365 days of the year no matter what I do I can’t control what happens with my body.
No matter how healthy I look on the outside, in my head I’m worrying about days like today, days when I can’t hide that there is something wrong with me, days when I am at the mercy of every other human around me.
Days like today are the reason I have to force myself to leave the house and get on with things instead of hiding in my room like a hermit.
If I could get THAT out of my head I’d probably be a much happier individual as would every other person I know who suffers from this fucking illness.
I should be writing a follow up about my experience at #mcl3, or completing any one of the numerous draft posts I have lined up in the blog back room..
But I’m not. I’m on my blog writing whatever pours forth – because I can.
I know all the theory on what I’m ‘supposed’ to be writing (and how) but to be honest, I don’t think I care any more.
Copyblogger is one of my favourite reads and I’ve soaked up a great deal of knowledge from his generous offerings but I’m not a marketer and I’m not a product – not yet anyway.
Until my course is over and I’m in the job market I really am just rosevibe here and I once had a fair few blog friends who came around to visit purely because I was me and not some one-dimensional tweeter.
I miss that, a lot.
Over the last 2-3 years I’ve amassed quite a bit of knowledge about the web, social media, writing, conversation, e-learning, project managing, marketing, programming and jewellery making, but because I’m aware of how much I still need to learn to be as good as I want to be I never seem to find the time to put any of it into practice (coursework excepted that is) and it’s been remarked on by a few of my twitter friends (*cough* @PhilWoodMusic, @crashbox *cough*) that I talk about things but never seem to share my work..
A link tweeted by the aforementioned copyblogger for a post by Rajesh Setty explains my lack of sharing better than I could – even if saying so assumes that I think of myself as smart.
(..and we all know by now that I don’t, if I was it wouldn’t be taking me so long to figure out how xml, xslt, wsdl, soap etc work! never mind installing php on my laptop.. still haven’t done that *shame*)
I have so many ideas and half-formed projects in my mind that I need to become immortal just to see half of them through – it frustrates the hell out of me that I don’t have the energy or health to get even one off the ground. All my energies are directed into my course and my family right now – perhaps if I didn’t have ME/CFS to contend with things would be different, but as it stands – I’ll be lucky to come away with the degree I want.
..but if I get less than a 2-1 I’ll be screaming the C-B words, muchly!
I get annoyed so easily these days – mainly by people who needlessly mock others; who take delight in the misfortune of folk in the limelight and seem to have lost any semblance of nobility, civility, honour and conscience.
I’m not a saint by any means; but constant finger pointing and mob rule alongside the ‘reality shows’ and our rotten society as a whole.. it sickens me and makes me want to grab the face of the self satisfied wanker behind it all and ram it full force through the nearest window into a rusty spike.
I know.. a tad graphic – but I can’t convey the depth of Grrrrrrr! and Arrgggggh! that I feel when looking at what the people of this country have turned into in the name of multi-culturalism and political correctness when things like that are condoned and in some circles elevated to the height of fashion, wit and branded entertainment.
Now the beloved is pointing at the clock and ordering me to bed so I guess it’s probably for the best if I leave this here before I get truly riled and kiss off any chance of sleep.
..But, even after the revamp – don’t expect this blog to fully reflect my knowledge and experience, its a personal space and so will more likely reflect my feelings and opinions with the odd sprinkling of ‘professionalism’. I’m not focussed enough on one area to create something professional for myself, I’ll leave the professional stuff at work where it belongs – or create a section of the site for it ;0)
G’night all – if you love me, do me a favour and tell me something wonderful about the world, after the tv viewing and general crapness of our world on the surface, I could do with a glint of glory about this year to carry into the next.