The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 23

In light of the bombings that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, I feel like perhaps I shouldn’t be talking about my problems here.  After all, in the grand scheme of things, finishing a degree and deciding what I’m going to do with my life afterwards is irrelevant.  There are people who won’t be going home, or for whom life has changed forever.  But it is precisely for those people why I am going to continue to write this blog, as trivial as it may be in the universe that we live in.

The events of yesterday prove that life is short.  Unexpected events can take loved ones from us.  There is evil out there seeking to destroy what we know and believe in.  Even more reason to live your life, and live it like there’s no tomorrow.

I co-host a radio show called The American Dream Team, for a community radio station called Siren FM.  Normally our show is fairly lighthearted, while bringing listeners the latest in American news, events and the best eclectic mix of music around.  Nobody can go from Carly Rae Jepson to Stevie Wonder like we can.  Today’s show, however, had to be different.  While we usually do lighthearted, today called for something much more sombre.  So, with help from some of Siren’s more senior members, including Managing Editor Andrew David and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Journalism at the University of Lincoln Deborah Wilson, also a producer for Siren, myself, my co-host, Jack Harrison and our Social Media Ambassador, Ben Steele, presented a two-hour news special, focussing on the Boston bombings.  We brought listeners the latest updates, as well as  interviews with several people, an American academic whose specialism is Communications, a social media specialist, a Lincoln academic visiting the US and a most poignant interview with a woman who was stood a block and a half away, waiting for her husband to finish the marathon when the explosion took place.  He got to 25 and a half miles, but thankfully was able to collect his medal, and return home to North Carolina.  Some people were not so lucky.

While the preparation and presentation of the show was more pressurised today than what we are normally used to, I enjoyed it.  While I’m not sure that I’d like to be doing that full-time, I now know that when I write “working under pressure” on my CV, that I can actually do it.

Upon my return home, my housemates had just eaten, and were still sat around the table when I arrived.  I filled my plate with food, and started to eat.  Then I told them of my intention to visit London on Thursday to view a flatshare; having decided today that I must take the risk to move to London in order to find temporary work, having been told straight out that this was the case by a London recruiter earlier today.

They were concerned about my moving to London without a job.  Would I definitely get a job?  What if I didn’t?  What about the fact that I have four assignments to do before May 3rd?  While I had stayed calm and collected at Siren, the pressure of today’s show, on top of the pressure I’ve felt for months about finishing my degree and my future life afterwards, hit me and I burst into tears.

I have a lot of worries about the coming weeks, from finding a job to finding an apartment, having enough money to pay bills and having the right place for me and The Bish to live, with the right people.  The Bish was sat in my bedroom window, which looks out onto the street, waiting for me to come home tonight.  His disgust at my lateness (a drink was necessary at the pub after the show) was marked by the fact he had sat his royal black ass on my only pair of white shorts, which I’d dug out ready for summer.

But tonight I feel grateful to have these worries.  There are people in Boston who won’t be going home to loved ones, or who won’t be returning to the pet that waits anxiously for their return.  There are many people who have been seriously injured, and may never walk again.  It is for them that I continue this challenge to find some peace in my life and follow my dreams.  Some may never get that chance.


*To listen to the interviews from today’s The American Dream Team show, click on this link The American Dream Team: Interviews re Boston Bombings


The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 30

Although today has been a busy day, it hasn’t been overly productive with regards to uni work or job hunting.  I spoke to various people today about my move down to London, and friends have expressed concern about how quickly I will get temporary work there and whether I can afford to move without a job.  The answer is I don’t know.  Tomorrow on my list is to contact some of the recruitment companies I have now sent my CV to, and ask them these exact questions.

While today has thrown up more questions in regards to the practical side of moving to the Big Smoke, I am still excited about the move.  I’ve had itchy feet for a long time, and I always enjoy the search for a new place to live and actually moving my stuff in (not so much packing it at the old house!).

I met with my Study Coach today, and she has advised me to treat each day like a 9-5 job.  So I’ve set tomorrow’s alarm for 8am, and I’ll probably get up around 8:30am, with a plan to start work at 9am.  This is probably sensible, since I’m sure that I need to be eased back into working life, having lived the student lifestyle for too long.  But I enjoy having my days free, and I shall miss that.  I remember all those years I worked full time, living for the weekend.  Right now, for me, every day is like a weekend.  But I guess it’s time to go back into the real world, where I can only hope to find a good work-life balance.  One thing I will look forward to though, is the paycheck at the end of every month.

The Twelve Week Challenge: Day 44

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that it is now Day 44, and haven’t we already had a Day 44?   Well as I  mentioned briefly yesterday, I’ve decided that since I’m now half-way through The Twelve-Week Challenge, that I would start counting down, towards the end, or rather the beginning, of the next chapter in my life.

The excitement of having my dissertation handed in has left me not really knowing what to do with myself, although tomorrow I won’t really have that problem as long as I make a start on my next assignment.  As I’ve mentioned already, having my handed dissertation in, while being a huge weight off, is an anti-climax when I have another four assignments to do before I can say goodbye student life.

This morning I decided I ought to get back onto the job search side of things, and called a publishing recruitment agency in London.  While the woman on the phone was polite, she told me there really wasn’t anything they could do for me without any publishing experience.  So I should seek out some work experience, then consider coming back.

I’m not sure I expected them to say anything else really, because I know that publishing is a very competitive industry.  One of my worries, over the last two years while at uni, was getting some “relevant work experience” and while I have done some extracurricular activities such as my radio work, I haven’t actually done any publishing experience.  While I have applied for work experience with some of the larger companies, I’ve never heard back from them.

After that, I did a search online for other, less specialised recruitment agencies, and got all over-excited about a PA job in Dubai.  Halfway through re-shaping my CV, I had to ask myself, do I really want a PA’s job?  While I love the idea of working in Dubai (23.5 degrees north of the equator!), when I think back to when I actually was a PA and…well…I hated it.  I realise I am not so good at organising somebody else, I’d much rather have a job where I can manage my own time and my workload.  If there’s one thing I learnt from working in London last time, it was that you shouldn’t do a job you hate.

I’m not talking about the job you do day-in, day-out, like the one I had in the NHS for so many years.  I’m talking about the job that really makes you so terribly unhappy, either because you hate the work, hate the company (or both), or because you know in your heart that actually you’re not so good at the job, and thus feel like a failure.  Having been, in my time, a hotel receptionist, a paralegal, a medical secretary and a customer service assistant (although I was told by the temp agency it was a data entry clerk), I realise that there’s no point in doing a job you don’t like, and I vowed never to do these jobs again.

The last time I worked in London was in 1997-8.  I didn’t even have a mobile phone, let alone the internet.  I remember one of my colleagues at the hotel where I worked was the first to get a phone; I used to ring my parents from the payphone across the street.  I had a nice collection of BT Phonecards at one point.  I worked in the hotel for nine months, before finally securing a job as a Paralegal for one of the big City law firms.  I’d been for endless job interviews, and finally got offered two jobs.  I chose the one working for the company with the big posh offices, although that was pointless since my office ended up being in the old part of the building anyway.  As a paralegal, I used to prepare documents, and take them to banks for signatures.  I don’t mean your average High Street branch, I mean real, investment banks.  I was basically a glorified delivery person.  And I hated it.

While my job was pants, I also rented a room from a woman in Brick Lane.  At first she was chatty but after a while she seemed to take to avoiding me.  It left me feeling really awkward, and I remember going to my room and crying after a horrible day at work and not feeling any happier once I arrived at home.

After spending a year living in London, which was the deadline I had given myself, I held my hands up in defeat, and made plans to come home.  My job was on a three-month probation, so it really wasn’t a problem for me to leave.  I had signed a six-month rental agreement at the flat too, but my landlord had no problem with me moving out after only four months.

I will never forget the conversation I had with the woman from HR.  She was asking me why I was leaving and I, of course, got upset and told her that I hated the job.  She asked me what I liked doing, and I told her that I enjoyed typing.  While in London, I’d gotten my Computer Keyboard Skills qualification from Pitman (the first, and last time, I ever got a distinction) and typing was the one thing I could do well, although as a Paralegal, I didn’t have too much typing to do.  She told me that I should have said, that they could have moved me to the typing pool.  But by that point, I’d made the decision to come home, and didn’t want to disappoint my parents by telling them I wasn’t coming back after all.  So I came home.  I did a few temp jobs before getting a permanent job with the NHS, where I worked for twelve and a half years.  I bought a house, got married, lost the house, got divorced (well, almost).  But I have always regretted leaving London.  I didn’t admit that for a long time, because it was as though I wasn’t grateful for what I’d found since I came back.  But really, I should never have come back.

My friend said to me today that I need to prepare for going to London this time, that I don’t want to have to come back if it doesn’t work out.  I agree that I need to prepare, but I won’t be coming back.  Except for visiting friends and family.  I don’t belong here, I have never belonged here.  If things don’t work out in London, then I shall head elsewhere (preferably somewhere closer to the Equator), but I won’t be coming back to Lincoln.  That much I know.


The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 40

With two days to go until my dissertation is due in, I’m feeling quite calm.  Whether that’s because I’m full of cold and I’m not feeling well enough to go into meltdown mode, I’m not sure, but as it is, I’m doing ok.

I know this blog is going to be short and sweet, but you’ll have to forgive me for that.  I’m tired, still catching up after my crap night’s sleep on Monday night, and as a result I do keep swerving between wanting to fall asleep in front of my laptop and typing like a maniac to get my dissertation finished.

What’s annoying, is that my dissertation, or Independent Study, is only worth 30 credits, the same as the other three modules I’m taking.  While my dissertation is 10,000 words, my other assignments are around 2,500 words each, for these final term projects.  Why the dissertation is held up as the holy grail I do not know, but for some reason so much more importance is placed upon this piece of work.

While I will be glad to see the back of my dissertation, I have enjoyed working on it these last few days.  Sadly, it’s not enough to make me want to pursue further study at any point in the very near future, but I think women’s studies is something I will continue to have an interest in.  I’m pretty sure at the very least this blog will include a study of this particular woman, and her journey out into the big wide world.

Wishing I’d bought it, rather than just taking a picture of it…

On the job front, I was disappointed today to receive an email from a publishing company in London, telling me I hadn’t been shortlisted for a job I’d applied for.  It was a shame, because it was in the area of London I used to work in years ago, and I would have liked to have gone back there.  I will always remember seeing a plaque on the side of a building saying that Virginia Woolf lived there.  At the time, I knew she was some great woman but I was too naïve to know who she was or why it was so important that she lived there.  The fact that I’m now quoting Virginia Woolf in my dissertation shows how far I’ve come since those days, although on my days off I used to scour the streets for bookshops, and 16 years later, that hasn’t changed.  In fact, here’s a picture of me, in Los Angeles in 2011, at the LA Art Walk, where I found a second-hand copy of Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse.  For some bizarre reason, I didn’t buy it back then, but I might just treat myself once my dissertation is done.

Ironically, I had a voicemail today from a recruitment consultant here in Lincoln.  His message said he had seen my CV online and had a very exciting position to talk to me about!  Isn’t that typical?  The one place I don’t want a job and it’s the first phone call I get.  Out of curiosity, I shall see what he’s offering when/if he calls me back tomorrow, although I’ve had my heart set on moving away for such a long time, it would have to be something pretty spectacular to get me to stay.



The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 6

Considering that today is Valentine’s Day, I haven’t fared too badly.  I had a feeling that today might have left me in the position of being unable to do anything productive.  To be fair, the only thing I’ve done today is some more work on my CV this morning.  It’s not quite finished, but it’s almost there.

Apart from that, I’ve spent a lot of time with friends today.  Which has been good.  I know if I’d spent too much time alone I would have been thinking about it being Valentine’s Day and about being alone, so I’m grateful to those guys for distracting me with Domino’s pizza, The Big Bang Theory and girly chat.

The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 5

After last night’s positive networking, I have to say I’m struggling to work on my CV.  I had a look at a few publishing jobs, noted the closing dates, but when it came to finishing the update of my CV, there was something stopping me.  I’m hoping it’s because I’ve had two late nights in a row and that I’m just tired, so I closed down my CV and decided to do some reading instead.

Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money is about a thirty-something called Stephanie Plum who in desperate need of cash becomes a bounty hunter.  In all there are 19 novels in the Stephanie Plum series.  I’ve been stockpiling them since last summer because I knew that book number four, Four To Score, was on my reading list.  When I finally starting reading the first book about a month ago, I was hooked.

Stephanie Plum is funny, experiences life on a par with Bridget Jones, and has about as much luck with men as I do, if the first book is anything to go by.  I will soon have the first book finished, with only 30 pages to go, and then I’ll be starting on the second.

In case you’re wondering what this has to do with my Twelve-Week Challenge, I’m doing a degree in American Studies.  I get to write assignments about thirty-something female bounty hunters.  It’s not an idea for what to do after the twelve weeks is up.  Or is it?  😉