As Yet Untitled…Like My Life

People have been asking me why I haven’t blogged for a long time.  For some of my friends, it was a way of keeping up with my life, and if I was blogging it would be obvious I had some kind of issue to talk about but at least they would know I was alive.  I recently had a message from a friend saying I had been quiet on Facebook and the blog, and was I OK?!

I am OK in the polite answer of the word.  But lately I have been suffering with that unsettled feeling I’ve had for so many years now, one which every so often builds itself up so great to leave me feeling lost.  And I haven’t even graduated yet.  But after this Wednesday, I shall officially have graduated from the University of Lincoln, with a 2:1 Bachelor’s degree in American Studies.  The problem is, what has that degree given me, except £18,000 of debt and a reluctance to go back to work?

I’ve been doing temp work in an office since June.  The work is almost identical to what I did for 10 years before I went to university, and I have taken a 25% drop in salary, despite my rent costs tripling.  Friday was the last day of my twelve-week contract, and due to red tape I have been told not to go into work on Monday morning, until my boss’ boss authorises and signs the additional costs that my recruitment agency now want to charge the company I work for (although I won’t get paid anything extra).  While I originally thought I would start on a salary slightly higher than I was on when I quit my job in September 2011, as a temp, it was £6,000 less.  Although I was then told I would get that after completing a three-month probationary period and being taken on permanently, I am now informed that it won’t be as much as that, although it should be more than what I’m on now.  Why don’t I just come out and say it: £16,000.  Gutting since I left London in 1998 having earned £14,000.

While life is not about the money, not having money does make things difficult.  And since I left London in August 1998, I have gained 14 years’ administrative experience, not to mention four years of university education (so good I took my final year twice).  I can’t help feeling that perhaps my expectations have been too high, and that perhaps I am not worthy of earning more/having a better job.

Although I hope that I will get the call on Monday to say that the additional costs have been authorised, I know that my timekeeping issues may have an effect on whether they truly wish to keep me on.

As well as struggling with work, I have been internet dating (yes, I know going by past experience that was probably a disaster waiting to happen).  I’ve been on several dates, met some nice guys as well as some very strange guys, but still struggle to read situations.  I have had two dates with the same guy now, although I do not know whether this will progress into a relationship; I am inclined to think not.

Thinking about that, my stomach feels knotted.  I go through phases of wanting to just have fun until Mr. Right comes along, followed by the desire to only find Mr. Right.  At this current moment, I think I am coming to the end of the having fun phase, after realising that maybe I cannot cope with just having fun after all.

Recently, I’ve had that desire I used to get over the last two years; the desire to jump on a plane and get the hell out of here.  But I wonder if I would have the guts to do that now.  I can’t help feeling that while I made a great leap moving to London, perhaps I have started to crawl back into my shell, leaving my confidence, my hope and worst of all, my writing pad, out of reach.

Because I have barely written since moving to London.  I know why this is; I am ashamed to admit that I am still as lost in life as I ever was.  What started out as positivity towards the future has become doubt, and I worry that I may never become that which I hope to be.

While this blog post is a step back in the right direction, it remains to be seen whether I can follow it up with another.  I guess this means we all have to wait and see…

Jogga-Blog No. 4 and 5: AKA The Return of 33andlostinlife

Out of all the titles you could possibly have expected me to pick for my first blog post in almost two months, I bet you didn’t expect to see the words “Jogga-Blog”.  In fact, this is the fourth and fifth Jogga-Blog combined, because my first London-based jog occurred on Thursday evening.  While afterwards I was most pleased with myself, the closest I got to blogging about the experience was thinking about it.  Well, you know what they say, it’s the thought that counts.

Today I was up early, so I decided to take advantage of the nice morning, before the heat became too overbearing, and take myslf off on another jog.  Once round the park without stopping this time.  I was most impressed with myself.

You may be wondering why it has taken me so long to write another blog post since the publication of The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 1.  I’ll do my best to fill you in on what has happened in my life over the last seven weeks, and from then onwards I shall attempt to keep you updated on a more regular basis.

I managed to find a lovely flat in West London, which I’ve settled into now.  My “housemates” are slightly older than me, but it’s nice to be with people who are full of stories from their lives.  I love listening to them talking, because it gives me inspiration for writing.  While this is the first time I’ve put virtual pen to paper in some time, I’ve been jotting down notes in my mind.  My little notebook that I use for my writing ideas got dusted off the other day, and I’m delighted to say that some of my ideas made it onto the page.  But I finally feel like my creative juices are starting to flow, which makes me happy because the pipes have been clogged for some time. Now though, that all my university work is finished, I can write for pleasure, without having to worry about deadlines, and I am thrilled that my ideas may finally find a place in the world.

It took me a while, but in mid-June I finally found a temp job, working in the Head Office of a high-end retail company.  The office is located only four tube stops from where I live, so the commute takes around 30 minutes door-to-door, which is not too bad considering I work with people who commute up to four hours a day.  The work is very similar to what I did in the NHS, analysing data, but instead of patients, it’s handbags and high heels.  I had a job interview for a writing position for one of these Daily-Deal websites just before I was offered this post.  While I was slightly disappointed not to have got the job, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that, for now, I’m happy with a nine-to-five job that I can do without having to stress out over it, where the people are nice and the commute isn’t too long.  I can get work on getting my finances back into a manageable condition, and use my free time to do what I have wanted to do for so long: write.  This job is temp to perm, which means it may become permanent in a few months.

You may be wondering why I bothered to do a degree in American Studies, if I was only to get a job the same as what I was doing before.  Well I got my degree results the other day, and I will graduate from the University of Lincoln in September with an upper second-class honours, or a 2:1.  This is reflective of the work I’ve done over the last four years, and while last year I may have been disappointed not to have received a first-class honours, right now I am just glad to have made it to the end with some sense of sanity.  When I started my degree, my life was very different, and what I want to gain out of a degree now is not necessarily the same as it was when I enrolled back in September 2009.  While I would still love to have the opportunity to work in America, I am learning to pick and choose my fights, and the opportunities for someone like myself to make the USA my home are slim.  What I’d rather do is focus on what I want to do, which is writing, rather than where I want to do it.  Days like today, where the weather is 26 degrees centigrade (79 Fahrenheit), and the forecast for the next six days is much the same, I’m more than happy to be in London, which is like a little greenhouse full of heat, where I can spend my lunchtimes sunning myself in the park, and the early evenings in the garden.

So I have somewhere to live, a job, and lots more time on my hands.  One thing I don’t have, is a relationship.  As you know if you’ve spent any time with me or my blog, that is high on my list of wants.  Right now, as much as I’d love to meet someone, I don’t have the money to spend on dates, or buying new clothes for dates.  But that is ok, because knowing myself as I do, it would be wrong to rush into finding someone, and people do always say it happens when you don’t expect it.  I can enjoy settling myself into my new life, and eyeing up the hot guys on the tube…

For now, life is good.  This chapter is still very new to me, and I’m very much finding my feet.  I’ve put on weight since my arrival, hence my desire to jog, and knowing that I won’t be able to afford to join a gym until possibly later in the year, I’m going to have to rely on my own resources and free exercise such as jogging and walking, in the tree-lined areas close to where I live and work.  By the end of September, I will have graduated from university, signaling the true end of the previous chapter of my life; potentially have secured a permanent job, and have made myself financially stable.  All the key ingredients for the basis of a happy life, on which I can build the foundations of the me I’ve wanted to become.  Please join me as the journey continues.  I’ve missed talking to you guys.

 

 

A Nice, Positive Blog (For Once)

After the last few strugglesome blogs, I really do have some excellent news that I need to share with you guys, before you all decide there is no chance of me ever being happy/calm/unstressed.

I recently gave a presentation for my American Dreams, American Nightmares class.  Now this is a module (course for you Americans) which combines US history with its literature of the time; a cocktail of my worst and best (respectively) subjects.  We were all offered the opportunity to do a presentation the first week of seminars, which was the second week of term.  Having left my presentation til later in the semester last year, I decided to get it done and out the way early.  When I realised that the first presentation choice was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the only piece of literature by a woman on the reading list, I decided to go for it.

Preparing the presentation went ok, and on the day, despite being the first person of the module to give a presentation, I felt it went well.  My lecturer gave me a little feedback at the end of the class and promised that he would email me the feedback form.  After a few days, I received it.  I practically screamed when I read the mark: 73%.  For those of you who do not know the UK grade system, 73% is equivalent to a first class honours, and is the highest mark I have received throughout my degree.  Previously I’d never got higher than 68%, or a 2:1.

To have received 73% on a presentation, partially based on a historical era, is overwhelming.  Not only that, but it confirms for me that I did the right thing suspending my studies.  I may have a tough time putting my finger on the exact time during my nine months out (no, before you ask, I did not secretly have a baby) that things changed for me, but I have come back stronger, and much further along than I was in December last year, when I had five pieces of work due (some overdue) yet nothing had been submitted.

There is an accompanying paper for this module, which is mostly written, and will be completed after a meeting with my lecturer tomorrow.  The paper is not due until 30th November, but in a bid to be more organised and handing work in on time (and let’s face it, just having work handed in would be an improvement) I wanted it ready early.  There’s always the chance I’ll be making some last-minute changes on 30th November, but the bulk of it is done, which leaves me free to work on other pieces of work, such as my 10,000 word dissertation, or one of the other four assignments due this side of Christmas.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you all, just so you know I’m doing ok.  Both academically, and emotionally.  My life coach, Jon, who I blogged about in My Hero http://wp.me/p2ayN0-5u, has just checked in on me having read my previous post, and as I reassured him, I now reassure you that I am ok.  Today has been a difficult day but I know by the time I wake up in the morning I’ll be ready to face the world again and to start on this week’s classes, having already gained my highest mark yet; a step closer to actually graduating this time around.