Wednesday, 23 December 2009

the year in which I learnt things I didn't know I needed to learn...

it has been an odd year - some highs, lots of lows - I won't be sorry to see it end.

it's been a year where I've had a lot of things thrown sharply into focus, particularly in regard to areas of my life I thought I'd dealt with and lessons I assumed I'd already learnt. The main things are:

1) I need to stop being too self-reliant, both in my professional and personal life. I have amazing friends and if I don't go to them when I need to, I'm belittling my relationship with them. I've learnt the hard way over the past couple of months that asking for help in a work environment is not a bad thing either - I need to make sure I do that more.

2) I still have a lot of body issues. I have a negative loop that runs like this: I am anxious - I am fat - I am anxious - I am fat. The loop can start at either of the points and circle from there. I'm much better than I used to be (I no longer act on the emotion), but I still have a way to go.

3) I need to spend time on my mental health. If I ignore it when I'm in a good place, I don't realise when it gets bad. This is a thing I thought I'd learnt already but 2009 has shown me that it's still a work in progress.

4) I have no work/life balance. I generally love my work, spend my time doing what I'm great at, and focusing on it energises me. When I do work that I don't have a natural affinity for (and therefore don't enjoy), it drains me completely. Implementation projects fit in the latter category and I should not do them.

5) Contrary to popular belief, I'm quite an introvert. I enjoy spending time on my own, in my own space and not communicating with the outside world. When things get tough or stressful I use my own, safe world as a place to hide. I need to recognise this as there are times when I need to push myself to be more sociable and make connections with other people. That can be quite scary sometimes and the more time I spend on my own, the scarier the outside world seems.

I'm looking forward to next year. The things I've learnt along the way will stand me in good stead (If I can remember them...).

Sunday, 26 July 2009

fangirl woot...

... just read on AFP's blog that she and himself will be doing signings of the "Who Killed Amanda Palmer?" book at the Union Chapel gig in September, for which I have tickets!

Friday, 26 June 2009

a long day...

...arrive safely in San Francisco after a very long day and many, many security checks (I got nabbed 3 times in Heathrow and had to not only unpack all my handluggage, but also turn on and then remove the battery from every piece of tech I had on me...).

after getting to hotel, I showered and changed, and headed out. First to Bluebottle Cafe courtesy of Ms Persky, where I met a couple of cool people - one cute and the other with a consultant friend in Chicago! I then had dinner down in SOMA and wandered back.

I'm pretty much ready to crash right now as I think that I've now been up for over 22 hours and my body has decided that enough is enough.

tomorrow I've got the day to myself and then going to a baseball game in the evening as part of the wedding celebrations.

more updates when I have a brain.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

a scientific experiment to prove the existence of L-Space

... well, quasi-scientific, anyway!

my landlord announced yesterday that he was in London and that he'd be coming the flat on Wednesday. Queue panic and lots of 'oh my god, I have to sort out the spare room and make the place look like it's tidy, but not just tidied - as in , I live like this all the time'. I've had the door to the spare room closed for about two months and in my head it was six foot high with crap... I went in last night and found that it wasn't actually that bad, and after an hour or two, it was pretty much done.

next on the list of things to do was to fix the fact that there were 11 boxes of books taking up most of the hallway (the ones from my Grandma - all very exciting). I'd had a plan to go through each box, catalogue them, and then rearrange my entire collection. This obviously wasn't going to be finished by first thing tomorrow so I decided on a quick fix. I rearranged the bookshelves in the library to get maximum bookage (the one big shelf that doesn't have a back is now positioned to be able to put books on both sides!) and then started just putting books on shelves wherever they would fit.

then something strange happened. All my books fit. There is even SPARE space. This shouldn't happen. As Nanila pointed out to me a while ago, there is a natural law which states that there are always more books than shelf space. I then figured out what had happened.

when my books aren't organised, they take up less space than when sorted by category, alphabetically. Over the next couple of weeks I shall now prove this by sorting out my books properly. When they don't fit on the shelves, I will have proven for the first time, that L-Space is blocked by organisation!

must go now - need to call Swiral back and find out about halloween costumes for pets...

Friday, 10 April 2009

the day started off so well...

...had a lovely lie-in this morning and got up at about 9.30. Did various bits of tidying in the flat and some work - all was good. Then the inevitable happened (well, it's been inevitable for the past 2 months or so) I started looking at my books and realising how many of them aren't in my spreadsheet. I'm now about half way through putting all the missing ones into the spreadsheet. This is the First Stage of sorting books... the madness has begun.

I also realise that I don't own enough bookshelves...

Thursday, 2 April 2009

something had to give...

...I've officially made the decision to pull out of the second-year course I was enrolled in through OU. It's a shame, as it was really interesting, but I had a deadline for my course coincide with a deadline for work, and work won. I may still continue with the first-year course (although it's incredibly dull), will need to decide in the next couple of weeks.

I'm not beating myself up about it though - but if I try and study whilst working again, I'll have to recognise that I go through periods of having to do 14-hour days semi-regularly, and so I'll try to do more work at the start of the course than necessary to give myself some flexibility.

In other (old) news, this is such a great April Fool's from a couple of years ago. Love it!

Monday, 30 March 2009

the benefits of an iced mocha...

... it can hold as many shots of espresso as you need. My one this evening had four shots and has done the job of keeping me awake through the work I've had to do quite well! Reckon I have about another half hour of work left tonight and then home. Will have to do about the same tomorrow and then report will pretty much be done (which is good, as the deadline is close of play Wed, so just enough time to do lots of proofing!).

had a lovely weekend away for Jane's 30th - an amazing house on an island in Essex which you can only get to at low tide. I'd definitely recommend and am thinking of excuses to get a group of people together to go there for a weekend in June. The house sleeps 10 so if anyone fancies, let me know!

anyway - back to work now and then home to bed. Think I may try and do a cycle or swim in the morning to counter the long-day-sitting-at-desk thing.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

on giving women more information about their choices

a review of advertising codes by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Practice (BCAP) is now going to a public consultation. There are a number of recommendations in the report, the most interesting of which is a change to the rules on advertising family planning services (more from the beeb here).

what bothers me about the recommendation is that the lines that are being drawn are between pro-life and pro-choice organisations - both of which will be allowed to advertise. For me, the distinction is not between pro-life and pro-choice, it's between organisations that will give a women information about all of available options and ones that will seek to promote a particular world view.

I have a bit of experience in this area (having had a termination). When I went to the initial organisation they talked to me about all of my options (including abortion and adoption) but didn't pass judgement on the route I chose. I see this as a completely different thing to going to an organisation who would seek to persuade me to make a choice that fitted in with their views, or worse, attempt to coerce me into making a decision that would not be in my best interests (and effectively take away my right to choose what is best for me). I'm not singling out the pro-lifers here - pro-choice is about choice - to have that, you need to know what you're choosing between.

I think that this report is a great step forward in informing women of their choices. I just hope that the public consultation is not completely sensationalised by the press - there are some issues here that need to be addressed.

one of the many reasons I love Neil Gaiman...

When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn't make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. the nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. "It's all right" we whisper, "I'm here, I love you." And we lie: "I'll never leave you." For just a moment or two the darkness doesn't seem so bad.
I hadn't heard it before, but it's from Hellblazer #27, "Hold Me." and collected in the DC Comics' Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days collection that I'm going to have to get myself.

Monday, 23 March 2009

a randon end to the day...

... it started of wonderfully - got up early, did some work, had a coffee, Imyril and boy arrived to take me to East London to collect furniture. Came back to flat, set up new library (yay!), headed West for food, and then went to the Electric Cinema to see Watchman. Great day.

arrived home at about 11.45pm and as I was walking to the flat, I saw great bellows of smoke coming out of the abandoned building a few doors down. There were firemen around, so I didn't really pay that much attention. Walking to the flat, the smoke was very thick and I needed to breath through my pashmina. Got into flat and breathed in the clean air. Mistake. Flat was full of smoke, as I'd left the small window in the toilet open. I thought it not sensible to go to sleep in a smoke-filled flat without finding out if said smoke was dangerous. Closed window and headed outside and met Pip and her husband (whose name has momentarily escaped me) who live in the flat next door to burning building. Was told by firemen not to go back to flat if full of smoke. Waited around for a while. Pip and husband were in dressing gowns, so popped back to flat (after checking with friendly police) and got a couple of coats for them. Met Parker, who lives above Pip and husband. Everyone was getting cold, so as I needed to check on the flat, made peppermint tea for all and, as flat was still smoke-ridden, resumed my place on street corner. We were pushed back quite a way across the road and the New Kent Road was closed. Parker's friend arrived from Wapping (where he'd been able to see the fire!). More waiting around and watching the fire. Went back into flat a couple of times to open windows on the side of the flat not receiving smoke. At about 1.30am, checked on flat again and still eye-watering so opened more windows on that side. Got whiskey for Parker, his friend, Pip, and husband. Kalhua for me. About 2.20, firemen came to tell Pip, husband and Parker that they could go into their flats to pick up things, and good news all round - no serious damage to either property. My flat has almost cleared of smoke now and will sleep with windows open. Firemen have confirmed that smoke is not dangerous (not chemical), so I am all completely safe.

going to bed now, as almost asleep. nice to meet some of the neighbours though.

UPDATE: Here's the Beeb report!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

a London thing?

as I was finishing getting dressed at the gym today, the fire alarm went off. As is usual in this situation no-one paid any attention to it (apart from grimacing at the loudness) and we all carried on with life until someone came round to tell us we needed to evacuate the building. At this point, I finished putting my clothes on, put everything into my bag and headed out with everyone. One of the staff-members, who was herding us, said that everyone in the whole gym had exactly the same response - carry on until someone actually says that you have to leave.

my question - is this a London thing, or is it something that everyone does? I kind of equate it to when an announcer on the tube says that the train you're on is terminating at the current station. All of the tourists get off and the Londoners stay put just to make sure (and we're usually proved right - 2 minutes later the train carries on it's original route). But seriously - it was a fire alarm. It could have been an actual fire. We could have been in danger. There was no fear expressed, just a general resentment about the unnecessary interruption.

am also very happy with my gymage recently - I did a 12k cycle followed by a 250m swim today, 10k cycle yesterday and 12k cycles on Wednesday and Thursday. I'm really enjoying it and think that this is going to be the summer that I actually learn to cycle on the roads! (and buy myself a bike - anyone with any knowledge of bike buying - let me know!)

right - now I have to go any sort out flat - I'm converting the office into a library - Yay!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

how sounds can induce emotion

last night whilst listening to Radio 4, I heard a tune. It filled me with excitement and expectation. It reminded me of being young, sitting in the lounge of our old house in Nazeing. The world instantly felt better and life was obviously going to be filled with wonder.

the tune? The old Formula One intro music from the BBC! It's back on the beeb again this year and to say that I'm glad that they decided to use the same music would be an understatement!

it's the small things.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

who knew work was so exhausting..?

I seem to have forgotten the art of working all day and then having the energy to do anything else!

In other news, I saw the tag line for a new film called Knowing. It's "What happens when the numbers run out?" Surely, you just add 1?!

Friday, 20 February 2009

as predicted...

... one of the two pieces of work that I had, I haven't. It's a bugger as if I'd had the choice, it's the bit I would have chosen, but I've met the other client so can't pull out of that one. One the plus side, it is probably a project that Imyril can do, so have passed it on to her reptiley goodness.

I'm not being too stressed/ annoyed though as I'm really enjoying some of the pro bono work I'm doing for various start-ups and NFPs so if it means that I do a bit more of that, then all is still good.

In related news - I am now the proud owner of a limited company! I have a lovely accountant who is being very patient with me (which is good), used to be a tax inspector for the revenue (which is even better), and has a sense of humour (proof? They're called Many Happy Returns!).

update: second project is now confirmed so I should be able to get the ToEs sorted today or Monday - up to 25 days between now and the end of March (probably work out to be about 20).

Thursday, 19 February 2009

back in the land of the 9 to 5-ers?

well... on the face of it yes: I am working with a Management Consultancy doing some really interesting and fab projects with central Gov (for whom I've never worked) on a day rate that I wanted.

on the other side? Although I've done 3 days of work for them, I still have no contract, no definition of the engagement that's binding, and no specifics about exactly what I'll be doing on each of the projects... I'm hoping at this point that this it is because they're so busy they haven't gotten around to sorting it out, rather than the work is going to dissipate and I won't get paid... Either way, I haven't yet told all the rec cons that I'm not available, so hopefully no bridges are burnt if it turns bad.

I would post more, but I've just got chatting to some interesting people (am at Adam St and it suddenly became evening - how/ when did that happen?) so am going to talk to them, instead of you!

Monday, 2 February 2009

ok - no blog post in a while so I should do an update...

... but I'm not going to. You know why? Cos it's snowing! Properly snowing! I've walked to a coffee shop where I now am, and got pelted with about 4 or 5 snowballs (and some of them were thrown by adults!). Everyone has a smile on their face, and everyone is walking as there is actually no public transport at all. No buses, about 3 tube trains on the whole of the network and no overground. It's very odd, but fun - very fun!

anyhoo - did this thing for facebook over the weekend and thought I'd copy it here as well. It's a thing where you write 25 random things about yourself and then tag 25 people to do the same.

1. I am the best at procrastinating (ever – 2009). Even when it causes me a reasonable amount of inconvenience, I still won’t do the most simple thing. Example? Right now I’m typing this sat in a cafĂ© with net access because my interweb at home isn’t working. All I have to do is plug my lappy directly into the router, see if I can fix the problem, and buy a new router if I need to. I’ve been needing to do this for a number of months now.

2. I talk to myself. A lot. I think I’ve always done this, but it became really apparent a couple years ago when I found myself living on my own again – If you’re living with someone and you say “right – what do I need to do now?”, you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re talking to them. Once it’s just you, there is no hiding. I’m now embracing it as early training for the crazy-cat-lady phase of my life to come.

3. I can’t get tasks done unless I write them on a list. Preferably with timings.

4. I will never grow out of black eyeliner.

5. I am very proximity based in keeping in touch. I love my friends and think about them a lot, but don’t get around to contacting them (see point 1).

6. I am very happy that I’ve learnt the knack of being late. This is very new for me and I still can’t be late for appointments, but for general arrangements like meeting in the pub I no longer arrive everywhere 20 minutes early.

7. I’m looking forward to the day that I’m a grown-up. The signs or success are as follows: I go to bed when I’m tired; I keep my bedroom tidy; I fix things when they’re broken.

8. I am currently trying to break my habit of falling for broken men and trying to fix them. I’m really good at it – by the time we split up they’re fully formed and ready to get married. To someone else. I’ve done this at least 3 times (that I know of) now…

9. I love my work. I never understand people who want to make lots of money and stop working. If I had lots of money, I’d still do what I do, but maybe not charge for it. The buzz of fixing a problem or a company is amazing.

10. I’m really proud of myself for working on the Obama campaign. I had an amazing time and met some amazing people, but the main and coolest thing was that I did everything I could to try and change the world. I need to do that more.

11. I’m very nervous about starting my degree. I’m doing it through OU and although I don’t think I’ll have any problems intellectually with the subject matter (Politics, Philosophy & Economics), I’m really worried about actually doing the work. This is partly due to my dyslexia and also because I haven’t applied myself to anything over this kind of length of time ever.

12. I am really comfortable not being one of the cool and popular kids - this is my place in the world and I’ve accepted it. I now get really disconcerted if I cross over into that category at all (which only happens occasionally, but is occurring more than it used to).

13. I love being in my 30s. I always knew that this would be my time to shine, and I am.

14. I own too many shoes. I’ve just done a clear out/ tidy of the flat and found over 50 pairs of shoes. They are in all styles and although I know that I won’t wear a lot of them ever again, I can’t throw them away, because

15. I cannot throw things away. I keep shoe boxes, nice paper bags (the kind with the rope handles) and anything and everything else. If it’s in good condition (or could be again with enough care and attention), then it stays.

16. My books are my most prized possessions - I have over two thousand and counting.

17. My life would be unimaginable without Radio 4. I have it on all the time in my flat. I often stay awake until 12.59am so that I can hear the presenter wishing me a good night’s sleep.

18. I’m really happy that I’ve started exercising properly again. I now do pilates, training and swimming. I’m trying to find a Tai Chi class at 7am in the morning and am going to start ballet again pretty soon. I’m loving being active, being in shape, and generally having a good relationship with my body.

19. I take great comfort in being an Atheist. If I ever need to draw strength to get through a period in my life, I think about how insignificant we are in the world, that we are a completely random event, and that we will be gone at some point. It gives me perspective and makes me feel incredibly free.

20. I cherish my anonymity above all else. There have been times in my life where I could have taken a path that would have eroded this and I have always shied away from it. I do not understand people who seek to have their privacy invaded.

21. I have great faith in humanity. I know that individuals can do abhorrent things, but I think that every one of them has the capacity to do good and to strive to be better.

22. I can listen to an album on repeat for days on end. Right now I’m listing to the first Garbage album and it’s been playing for the last few days on my iPod. Music reflects and enhances my mood better than any drug.

23. I went on a helicopter two weeks ago – it was the best thing ever – people asked me what I’d seen, but I didn’t really take anything in other than the sensation of flying. Can’t wait to do it again.

24. I will never stop using the word ‘cool’. It’s been good to me for at least 24 years and I’m not going to turn my back on it now.

25. My favourite view of London is standing on the North end of Waterloo Bridge, directly over the river, looking East. I am incapable of thinking anything when I see that view – all I do is feel passionate about London and generally happy about everything. The minute I’m standing over the water, a lingering smile hits my face.