On CVs and other paperwork.

(I have finally made myself do my Ski-Training, so I can write again ;))

My life seems to be full of paperwork at the moment. I’d like to say I’m getting better at dealing with it, but I think that would be lying. It seems to create more problems and hassle per square inch than anything else, and enjoy doing so. I have had some [half-]successes though.

Most notably my CV is written and sent and presumably in a pile of things-to-be-dealt-with-later on the nice lady’s desk.

I’m applying for funding to do my Meister-Prüfung (an exam which allows me to set up my own company, should I so wish). I’d sent the original forms in, had them returned to me in order to be sent to another office to be signed and sent back to me, so I could send them back to the lady. I can’t see why this still happens in this age of email, but what do I know – maybe they’re in league with the post office. According to the cover letter, if the forms weren’t back in her office within 4 weeks of having left it, the application would be automatically rejected/declined due to lack of co-operation on my part. In the light of such a demand, the next sentence seemed rather out of place.. “We are checking whether the funding you’re applying for is available, this may take some time. We’ll get back to you when we know.” Obviously there was no deadline and no other timescale attached; that’s one of the things that bug me about authorities – they make the rules and no one says they have to be fair.

Whatever. I wrote and rewrote my CV at least 5 times and was helped (with varying degrees of success) by at least 4 people including, surprisingly, an ex boyfriend who happened to come online while I was working on it. He wanted to chat and talk about some largely irrelevant grammatical intricacies, I wanted to get finished so I could shower and go to bed. When I was a little less than my usual superfriendly chatty self (:P) he asked if he was annoying me. I don’t remember him ever noticing/asking that before. I told him I was working on 50 things that needed doing by yesterday and he offered to help me with one of them. Amazing. His new girlfriend must be working wonders on him 😉 He went through my CV, making suggestions and correcting my less-than-perfect German while I showered. That’s teamwork for you ;). When it and I were finished, I emailed it to myself and went to bed.

By the time I’d looked through it, made some changes, got a friend to agree to print it out for me, realised that older versions of Word won’t open OpenOffice documents, gone to a different friend’s to resave it as a Word document, gone back to the printer-friend, printed it, noticed a mistake, changed it, printed it again, photocopied every certificate in my folder and was trying to put everything in some vague semblance of order, I was no longer 1 or 2 days past the deadline I was almost a week over. Hey-ho. I was pretty happy to have it out of the way. Except it wasn’t even nearly over yet. I went through everything to check it was all present and correct and realised one of the forms I’d sent off to be signed had been filled in wrongly, or possibly correctly but sent to me by mistake. At this point I felt like giving up. I sent the form off to be adjusted instead.

A while after that I sat at work formulating a cover letter when one of my otherwise more appreciated people came in and asked what I was doing. Against my better judgement I told him, including the part where I had to get everything sorted out by last week. In return I was told I was stupid for not getting it sent off earlier, that it wouldn’t be accepted since it was so late, that I ought to have started earlier, that I ought to know that officials have the right to do anything they like and if I want them to do something for me I have to play by their rules, that it would be ok not to get the grant if my school wasn’t included in the scheme.. but would really suck if it was my own fault, etc etc etc. As I said, I’m usually more appreciative. However. He has a printer, and as mine doesn’t seem very motivated, and I’d noticed something missing off my CV, I was a little dependant on being allowed to use his. I went into semi-silent mode, which I tend to avoid, but which is sometimes more socially acceptable than getting mad. He willingly let me use his computer and printer, but couldn’t resist reading over my shoulder. Apparently my CV was written wrong. ARGH. I rather sulkily rewrote my CV under his supervision and also started on a cover letter. Halfway through writing it, I thought how much better it would be to find out just how hopeless the whole situation was before wasting any more time, energy and creative thoughts on it. I phoned her up to ask if I needed to bother sending the forms and CV in at all, being as how it was already a week overdue. I also mentioned that the form was wrong and that I’d half been waiting for the result of the research into my funding potential. She was really luffly and said there was absolutely no problem and I could either send the stuff I have now and send the missing form on later, or wait for the corrected form arrives and send it all together. The woman responsible for the research is on holiday until about June (or New Year ;)) and the woman responsible for the rest of the application can’t do anything until she’s finished her research, so it doesn’t actually matter much when I send my stuff :). The computer guy had gone off to do something while I was on the phone. When he came back he apologised for telling me my CV was wrong. He’d been thinking about it and it was just different to the way he’d’ve done it and not really wrong. It’s amazing how much difference an apology makes, even if it’s not about anything really important. That and the good news about the non-deadline (aliveline?) helped lift some of my bad mood. I’d also decided that the new version really was better for the purpose. While future employers might want to know what you did besides school/college/uni/whatever, no funding office gives a wotsit about work-experience, school exchanges or helping out in little kids’ maths classes. And it all fit on one page with room for a signature 🙂 I reworded my cover letter to fit the phonecall, slid the last sheets into the envelope…and realised I had no stamp. ARGH.

I was in town that evening, so I bought stamps, but having forgotten to take the letter with me it had to wait until the following evening to be sent. That was all over a week ago.

The ‘wrong’ form came yesterday, luckily correct this time, so I’m going to post it tomorrow or Monday and then it’s all out of my hands until January.

Man am I happy it’s out of the way.

In the meantime, I’ve received a reminder telling me to send off other forms to ensure I get some kind of bonus for saving money on a regular basis. I like to believe I’m not stupid, and I’m pretty sure I’m not illiterate, but hand me a wadge of official looking forms to fill in and my brain goes fuzzy.

In the middle of a sea of paper (although not with a calculator) I’m likely to drown, too full of self-pitying despair to think of swimming (or asking for help).

I’ve gone through my impressively orderly folders -a product of a rare bout of organisational madness last year- and taken out all the papers I think may be helpful, and all those I also need to fill out and send (and have been avoiding for too long). So I now have a small (read large) pile of papers on my table and a new deadline and no idea what to do with them. They need to be sent off and arrive by the 31st, but since there’s a lot of days off between now and then, I want to get them posted tomorrow or Monday.

I’m going to bed now in the hope that the sleep will help defug my brain enough to understand what to write where, when I tackle them again tomorrow.

On stubbornness

(please assume all references to ‘men’ mean people)

Once upon a time there was a dirt road between 2 small villages. The villages were pretty and the fields inbetween were pretty too.

A man stood in the middle of the road, between the 2 villages. He was admiring the view.

Another man walked along the road. He stopped where the first man was standing, because he couldn’t get past. He asked the first man to move. He wouldn’t, so the second man shook his head, walked round him and carried on.

A little while later the first man grew tired of standing up and so sat down. Not long after that a third man walked along the road. He also stopped, asked and walked around. This happened many times with many people. Occaisionally someone would try to persuade the man to sit somwhere else. Sometimes an argument ensued, sometimes there were fights. Ineveitably the persuader would realise the pointlessness of wasting more time and would go on his way leaving the man sitting where he was.

The first man put his tent up in the middle of the road. More and more people walked around him. The grass next to the road soon became trampled down and before long, no one stopped to ask him to move. This upset the man. He wasn’t going to move, whatever they said or did, but they ought to at least ask.

As time went on, the first man built a house on the patch of road where his tent had been.

A new road was built around the house, so that the cars didn’t have to drive on the grass.

The villages grew bigger. They became towns. People moved to one and worked in the other. The traffic between them increased. Houses appeared close to the first man’s house.

The first man made a garden around his house, digging up some of the road to do so. When anybody asked him what he was doing, or told him not to, he shouted at them until they went away.

Later, when the road was widened, the road around the first man’s house (and his newly claimed garden) was widened too.

By and by, people forgot there was ever a road under the house.

One day, someone new came to the area with a map and a book. They walked up to the first man’s house and asked him to move, because the road was going to be made into a motorway, and motorways don’t have curves. Besides, according to the book, he had no planning permission to be there. He refused to move, was incredibly rude to the man with the map and slammed the door in his face. The man’s neighbours came out of their houses to see what was going on. The man-with-the-map told them. They laughed at him and said;

“But you can’t make him move now – he’s been there 60 years! You’ll have to wait until he leaves before you can build your motorway.”

On Power – of chocolate and of people (the lost and found version)

(I was just looking though my posts and found a draft version of Wednesday’s post. I thought it was competely gone, but apparently not. Here it is.)

I don’t know why I give either as much power as I do.

Yesterday wasn’t a particularly spectacular day. As well as losing my halo, I also lost my good mood.

However, it did show me something I didn’t want to see: I am easily swayed by external influences. More so than I’d like to admit.

  • My glass didn’t want to co-operate. At all. In any way, shape or form. Pretty much everything that CAN go wrong, did.  It broke, twisted, cracked, went cloudy, refused to melt, melted too much, looked ok until it cooled down and then broke. Whatever. If you think of something that could happen it quite possibly did. I even contemplated (not for the first time) quitting and becoming something else. I won’t. Mostly because I have less than no idea what I would be better at, but also because some crazy part of me loves a challenge and thinks I have more than a snowflake’s chance of improving.. And because glass is the best thing since.. Since what actually? It’s been around for 7000 years. That’s a whole lot longer than sliced bread. But I guess that’s irrelevant. There’s something therapeutic about watching it melt (except when it’s not supposed to, and even then it’s pretty cool). As they say, “only glass is like glass”.
  • There are some people who have the ability to make me want to hit them (or failing that then a wall) just by existing (in my vicinity, I doubt I’d mind them existing elsewhere). I obviously don’t, haven’t, and hopefully never will, but I dislike the aggression that builds in me when they appear on my radar. Noticing my aggression makes me cross. Being cross doesn’t exactly help get rid of the desire to hit things.
  • I would have had an argument if I hadn’t picked a monologist to argue with. Having listened [politely] to half an hour’s ranting about how awful I am, I find being told to ‘leave well alone’ when trying to defend myself, sucks more than arguing would have done..
  • I would have probably taken my bad mood home and had a rubbish evening if I hadn’t been brought chocolate by a thoughtful person – who didn’t even know I needed it until afterwards – just because. (Thank you, even if you will probably never read this). I’m not nearly grateful enough for the people who make life better.. I spend too much time and energy trying to pacify the people who make it worse, instead of concentrating on the good ones.

Why?

Why is my happiness and my good mood subject to things, situations, other people and chocolate?

On fireworks and busfares

I went to watch the advent fireworks in my town just now. They went off at 11pm. I caught the bus down and was there just in time to glance around the bargainboxes in MediaMarkt (late-night-opening tonight) and make my way to the square.

The fireworks were spectacular in the sense that all fireworks are spectacular, but not in the way some shows are just breathtakingly astounding. I could probably have seen them from my house – I live on a hill and have a pretty good view of the town – but if someone’s going to sponsor them, I think showing up is the least one can do. Besides I didn’t want to miss them, just supposing I couldn’t see them from here.

As I was waiting for the bus back home, a slightly drunken elderly gentleman joined me at the bus stop. He peered at me and announced that he’d seen me before. I hadn’t really looked at him until then, but when I did, he did indeed seem familiar. There ensued a short pause followed by a bout of questioning while we figured out the connection. He shares an allotment with a guy who works in the same building as one of the people who used to work for someone who spends a lot of time sitting in my workshop. At some point during the summer I had been invited to a barbecue party in the allotment and had presumably seen him there. What was that about less than 7 connections to anyone?

About then the bus came. I had my buspass with me this time so I just got on and sat down, expecting the half-stranger to do the same. He got on, but the busdriver wouldn’t let him pay with a 50€ note. So I bought him a bus ticket. :).

At some point (assuming he remembers once he’s got home and slept and sober), he’s going to give the money to the guy he shares an allotment with……

On the upcheeringness of good music when nothing works out

I can’t work well at work.

I have a problem with people watching me, and since a lot of people seem to want to spend their day sitting at my workbench I spend a lot of time not working at my best. It’s not my workshop, so I can’t banish them, but I can’t work with them either. Sometimes I’m actually glad of their company – it helps spread the load my colleague can be. I don’t have such a problem with making easy stuff with people looking on, so I save the ‘easy’ tasks for when they’re there. When I don’t have anything tricky to do, or a deadline to meet, it doesn’t matter so much. It’s the stuff that needs to be in the oven today and which involves concentration and perseverance that gets me. I officially start and finish an hour later than the rest, but they regularly stay to talk and drink (less hassle than going to the pub ;)), which doesn’t help much. I often find myself staying on once everyone’s gone home in order to get things finished.

Having the workshop to myself doesn’t always make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.

I hate it when my glass doesn’t co-operate. I hate having other people watch it not co-operating. And I hate said people asking questions about said non-co-operational glass. As if that wasn’t enough hate for one paragraph, I also hate them giving advice.

This rant is for everyone who wants to watch me work:

At the risk of sounding incredibly stuck up; I generally already know what I SHOULD have done differently, or how it was supposed to work. Sometimes it just doesn’t. I don’t need to hear it from backseat glassblowers. Or other pestilential nuisances. I don’t need to hear the tutting noises as you watch the piece I’ve been working on for an hour fall to bits. I don’t need the sharp intake of breath or the sideways “how-could-you-be-so-stupid” glances. I don’t need you to start a lecture, only to have you interrupt yourself to tell me there’s no point telling me since I’m not prepared to be helped. I don’t need the sighs of supposedly long-suffering teachers. I don’t need you to watch me forget to put corks in the tube ends and then laugh as I blow through, instead of into, my glass. I don’t need you to helpfully point out that the glass is bending while I’m holding one end between my teeth, balancing the other on some precarious pile of boxes, and struggling to put the graphite-paper back into a joint-holder that’s just come loose. I can’t simultaneously pay you and my glass 100% of my attention. I probably don’t need reminding that I still have something to finish for tomorrow, I probably know and am waiting until you go elsewhere so I can start it. I don’t want you to ask me if whatever I’m currently struggling with is Meister-worthy. I don’t want to talk about whether my jeans are in or out of fashion while I’m melting frits into tubes. To be honest, I don’t think I’d care much even if I wasn’t trying to concentrate at the time. I don’t care that you know all-there-is-to-know-about-glass. I don’t care that you ‘have-my-best-interests-at-heart’. I don’t care that you get goosebumps from watching me being so rubbish. I don’t care how much you feel for ‘the poor maltreated glass’. I don’t want to know. If you’re so great, either go and do something useful with your greatness, or make me feel great enough to attempt something more demanding in your presence. Making me smaller doesn’t make you bigger. And the more you have to tell me you’re great, the less I’ll believe you actually are. The people I consider great are great without telling me (or anyone else) about it. You can’t help but notice greatness.

Sometimes I need to be left in peace to figure it out. I need the space to test things out without anticipating your reaction.

Rant over.

Today.

I spent most of the day faffing about, leaving the tricky stuff for after work. I was accompanied into my evening by one of the non-glassblowing watchers. He didn’t stay long, maybe half an hour or so.

I had a complicated glass filter to repair. I did the main work yesterday but had forgotten to melt the broken ends of the spring-hooks. The oven wasn’t full enough to turn on so I hadn’t yet tempered it. Frits are temperamental at the best of times so I didn’t want the gas-air flame to accidentally reach the frit while warming them. So I didn’t warm it at all. Neither before nor after. Idiotic really. Thing is, I wanted it finished by Monday, so I took the risk. Idiotic, like I said.

Moving the shards of several hours’ work aside, I started on the next task: replacing an NSK14,5 with an NSK29 on the end of a 3 way tap set at an angle to a litre flask. Not easy to hold, but not [very] hard to do. I wanted to make my own flask though. The one I altered was made a couple of years ago by my colleague to show me how they were done. I’d made one afterwards and given it to the Doctorand who needed it. This one was kept in reserve. I knew I had been able to make it, this attempt was to see if I still could, and to give my customer something I’d made and not just adjusted.

I made all the preparations. Then I remade the central piece because I’d forgotten the Kernel needed an extension. ARGH. Then I reshaped the top of the central piece because it was too wide. Then I started putting everything together. So far so good. Litre flasks are heavy, and I’m out of practise. I’d also used a holder that was far longer than necessary for the right hand. The main join was okay, could have been neater, but as 30mm Einschmelzungen go it wasn’t bad, especially when you consider I haven’t done one in months. The problem was the tube on the other side. After fighting it for a while I decided to take it off completely and join a new piece on. In the time it took me to prepare a new join, the old join had got cold enough to break when I reheated it. ARGH. I tried to mend the ever lengthening splits, but it was a bodge-job and not a worthwhile one. I finally gave up when the glass pulled itself together and holes appeared. I tried rescuing the groundjoint but it fell off the holder and onto the floor where it smashed.

At this point, almost 3 hours after I could have gone home, I had had enough.

PendantI turned the radio off, put a CD on instead, and spent a good 3/4 hour swivelling on my swivel chair watching the walls whoosh past. (random thought: I have no idea if anyone else remembers this but back in secondary school, we said “go swivel [on a duck]” when people were stupid or annoying or whatever, haven’t heard it said in ages but I had to think of it while spinning). By the time the CD was about halfway through I was a lot happier. When I finished spinning, I mixed some coloured glass ready for next week, made a pendant and went home. I guess I could’ve gone home as soon as the flask broke, but I was too wound up.

Like I said, having the workshop to myself doesn’t make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.

On Power – of chocolate and of people

Okay. I add ‘and of Mozilla’s moodswings’ to that.

My post was pretty much finished and now it’s gone.

The gist of it was that I am easily swayable by external factors: things, situations, people…and chocolate.

That and the fact that I spend too much time and energy trying to placate people who make life harder than it needs to be and not enough time being thankful for the ones who make it better.

 

[Edit: I have since found the post in question, you can read it here)

On complaints, halos and air conditioning

(- or “apparently it does work” -)

I have been bemoaning the state of the air conditioning unit at work for about the last 3 years; pretty much as long as I’ve been there. I don’t [think I] moan much, but when I do find something I consider worth moaning about, I’m pretty consistent. In this case I feel especially justified. I work with glass and gasflames and have my nose directly over the resulting noxious fumes. But, and this is a meaningful but, we do actually have an air conditioning unit, which is more than some workshops, and for that I ought to be eternally thankful, despite thinking it’s situated too far over my nose to be any use.

Naja.

Today I found out that it works, at least part time.

My halo was apparently sucked up into it, and is now gone. 🙁

I hadn’t actually noticed, no idea how I managed to miss something that catastrophic, but luckily my colleague was good enough to tell me.

I’m left wondering how I’m going to deal with this monumental loss. If anyone has any ideas, or has seen one floating around looking lonely, please let me know. Thanks.

On the danger of over-eating on a Saturday.

I ate LOTS on Saturday evening. I hadn’t had much lunch apart from the cake at the sale, and there was a galoptious potfull of leftovers to eat up. We didn’t quite achieve empty, even with 15 of us, but I did my best ;). Not sure to what extent my stomach would agree with me on that – on top of actually eating too much, lentils seem to expand once you’ve eaten them. I went home with the feeling I’d narrowly escaped exploding.

I tend to eat too much, then curl up to digest, a bit like a snake. This meant that I wasn’t really hungry on Sunday, in turn meaning I didn’t really eat (apart from yogurt, the most amazing chocolate muesli and the left over crisps from my ‘party’).

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my meanest alarm clock blaring in my ears. I have several and the mean one’s really only for emergencies – I usually wake up to one of the milder ones and turn the mean one off before it wakes the whole street up or someone calls the fire brigade. This morning I’d slept through the others and even this one had somehow managed to work its way into my dream and escape detection.

The reason for my ‘out-like-a-light’ sleep? Not sure, but it probably has to do with not going to bed early enough. I was trying to fill in a form. Or, more accurately, trying to write my CV so I can send it off with the already-filled-in-form to the nice lady who wants it. I probably haven’t done many more exciting/relevant things than the average person, but the manner in which we moved around while I was small, means I went to a LOT of schools. Then, despite changing schools again in order to do my selection of A-Levels, I ended up attending yet another school parallel to the first (eighth) because they cancelled the course after AS. But I digress.

Being a Brit living in Germany generally confuses things anyway, but in this case makes things especially complicated because I don’t have the same sort of report as they do. We have a final exam/coursework based grade and a certificate for each subject, they have a report with the result of every test they’ve ever taken on it. Someone works out the average overall grade, based on how many hours over how many years were spent learning which subject and [probably] what the headteacher eats for breakfast. At least I think that’s what they do. What sort of school you went to, and in which county, determines what people think of the number produced at the end of all the calculations. Whatever. I don’t have one. So I have to explain what my string of letters mean to the official people who are expecting a solitary number.

Oh yeah, and I spent a year ‘dossing’ between sixth form and starting my apprenticeship. At least on paper I dossed. In reality, chasing after small children didn’t feel much like dossing.

I haven’t figured out how to fit all that on one side of A4, so that it’s still readable, and fits the requirements of being in reverse chronological order. Yet.

I would be quite happy to spend the next few weeks working on it (like playing Tetris), but it should already be lying on the nice lady’s desk. And it’s worth something like 1500€. *sighs* With a price tag like that it ought to be at the top of my priority list. Which it was for about 3 minutes, and then life happened. Which is why I was still up at 12:30 last night. At one point it looked quite hopeful that I was going to have something to show for my lack of sleep, until my printer decided it was going to have a headache and print one stripy line a minute. ARGH.

I gave up, washed my hair and went to bed. I did admittedly sleep remarkably well, until the lorry reversed into my room anyway.

I left the house at least 6 minutes too late, realised it was raining, rushed back upstairs for my umbrella, rushed back down my stairs and then up the next flight of steps to the street (oh the joys of living on a hill ;)). I arrived, with wet feet and my jeans a couple of shades darker than usual, 1 (or 3) minutes late, depending on which clock you go by. This remarkably didn’t translate into decibels, but rather into a scowl which, while not being particularly upcheering, was at least gentler on the ears.


The connection to the title? Pff.. Isn’t that obvious? I didn’t eat much yesterday, and didn’t leave myself time for breakfast. Running while hungry is silly, and much harder than it ought to be. The rain didn’t help, but I can usually make the journey in about 9 minutes if I run compared to 17 if I walk, today I needed 14 despite attempting to run between alternate lampposts.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overkill, but I need something to blame 🙂

On being recognised

On the way back from church this morning, I walked past a group of small bundles which I presumed were children. From the identical noses and blonde pigtails – only just about visible under the hats – I decided 2 of them must be the twins from Sunday School. There can’t be that many small blonde twins within walking distance of my church after all. I said hi in a vague ‘good-morning-to-strangers’ kind of way and carried on homewards. The women standing with them ignored me completely, but the kids said (in a stage whisper loud enough for me to hear them several paces away), “That’s the new lady from Sunday School!” This was followed by some kind of mumbling which I assume must have been their reply, whereupon they told them who I was for a second time.

I’ve been in Sunday School exactly twice; 3 weeks ago and a month before that. Way back when I was 4 I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t’ve been able to recognise someone walking past, having only seen them twice. Specially if they were dressed differently and I was playing a game..

Quite liked being recognised tho 😉

On the danger of helping at Jumble Sales

My new stool rocks! 🙂
Someone apparently thought I was responsible enough to sell lunch tickets..

I have just got back from the church bazaar. I set out to help sell lunch tokens (which I think I already mentioned ;)) and since I was offered a lift home and a meal as a reward, I stuck around to help out with tidying up.

As a result, I’ve ended up with 40 books, 4 boxes of “stuff”, 2 tubs of leftover “Linsen mit Spaetzle” and a new rocking stool  (fantastic things – apparently good for your back muscles too).

Once the official selling time ran out, everything was sorted into boxes to keep for next year or to throw away. Boxes of ceramics and pottery, boxes of glassware, boxes of wood, boxes of plastic, boxes of books. I’m not nearly as heartless as the professionals, so I wasn’t really a lot of help on the scrapping front. After half an hour of standing aimlessly in the way and asking busy people if things were to keep or throw, I decided it’d be more useful if I swept the floor and moved the boxes other people had filled. So I did that. Sweeping floors is brilliant. Not only do I quite like doing it anyway, cuz you can see it has an effect, but it also makes you look like you’re really helpful and efficient when all you’re really doing is wandering about.. *grins*

My fir cone men

I was given a jar of apple jelly, a couple of pieces of cake and 2 cups of tea. I bought some ueber cute fir cone men made by the kids at an outdoor Kindergarten.

In between wandering and sweeping, I ‘rescued’ quite a lot of things from certain ‘death’ or at least from the bin. This is where the boxes of ‘stuff’ appear on the scene.

Things like picture frames can be tarted up (I have LOTS of as yet unframed pictures), plant pots are almost always good, as are serving plates (the sort you put biscuits on when people come over for tea).

On the other hand, some of the stuff is quite obviously anything but Jessish. So why bring it back? Mostly because it would have been thrown away otherwise and I’m pretty sure I can sell it or give it to someone who’ll appreciate it. Hopefully. If I can’t, I can always throw it away myself. That’s the long-term plan anyway.

The short-term plan is to sort my kitchen out (which I still haven’t done), and find homes for all my new things, though probably not in that order…

YAY 🙂

P.S. I walked down to the church hall with this amazing sky:

I love sky 🙂

On fighting suitcases…

(-The story behind yesterday’s walk home-)

Over the years I’ve had a fair bit of practice at this. As a kid we went on holiday incredibly regularly. Mostly camping, or visiting grandparents, but nevertheless ‘going away’. This almost always calls for packing and carrying some kind of luggage. The folks packed the tent and other useful stuffages so I only had to pack MY things. Usually a backpack is enough for a short trip, but since we almost invariably drove to our final destination it didn’t really matter if things didn’t fit. We had the sort of suitcases you can sit on to do up, ones with buckles and locks. Later, ones with zips. When the family took up flying and hostelling, backpacking moved more into focus. We seemed to fly to the most distant airport from where we wanted to end up, and walk. Walking from an airport equates to carrying your backpack. We also spent considerable time travelling between towns and beaches and generally being on the move. Over time it became normal to have a really good think about whether something made the grade to stay packed, BEFORE setting out. When I started DofE I realised just how important it was to get everything into one backpack, including all the important stuff like tents, sleeping bags and stoves.. (Having a bag with decent straps is also sensible, but that’s a different story). Doing the Offa’s Dyke walk a couple of years later I was surprised to find that not everyone had had the same experience. We (as a group, so as not to name names) sent approximately 25 kg of ‘excess baggage’  home from a remote post office en route.

At some point in [my] history, suitcases with wheels became more common. I don’t know why they hadn’t been thought of before, but they’re a brilliant invention. Anyone who has tried travelling with 30kg of anything will back me up on this.

I moved to Germany 7 and a bit years ago and since then have had a lot of opportunity to fly, move house, visit people a long way off and go sightseeing. I have got through about 4 suitcases, with and without wheels, and have been known to pack my things in washing baskets. As a rule I have too much stuff and, despite all the warnings, still carry too much on a regular basis. Especially when coming back from shopping 😉

Considering all this, I don’t seem to have made a lot of progress when it comes to actually fighting the silly things.

My folks were here recently and left me a ‘broken’ suitcase which I think originally belonged to my sister. I don’t really know where or how it’s broken, so I’ve been using it since to go shopping. I had a party at work (will probably make its own post soon) which I needed to cater for and this meant lugging drinks and food from town to my house, and from my house to work. When I usually go foodshopping, I take cloth bags with me, pick up an empty box while perusing the isles and therefore know how much more I can buy before my arms drop off. Once everything’s paid for it makes its way into my rucksack and/or my cloth bags and I go home. Easy. Ish. I live by myself, so most of the time I only have to feed one person. I eat enough, but there’s only so much food a person [of normal build] can get through so I don’t often have to carry THAT much home – unless Aldi has a good deal on huge plastic tubs or duvets or papercutting devices that is..

This time I knew I was feeding most of the people I spend time with at work and had come prepared. I had my sisters ex-suitcase with me.  I felt ready to take on the world. I got a trolley. WHOO!! – No more juggling with halffilled boxes while bending down to get something off the bottom shelf. No more onehanded unpacking. No more looking for a bigger empty box when the original becomes too full. Bliss.

The bliss lasted until I reached the other side of the till and realised I was going to have to give my trolley back.

Damn.

Then I remembered I had my suitcase.. So all was not lost.

While I don’t have anything very much against alcohol, I don’t see why I should buy it for other people when I don’t drink it myself. This doesn’t go down well in Germany. But anyway. My party, my rules. I bought enough for everyone to comfortably drink their usual fill, except I didn’t buy beer, I bought I bought fizzy water and fruit juice. This would be largely irrelevant, if it wasn’t for the fact that liquid is heavy. Very heavy. Heavier, in fact, than I’m guessing the suitcase had ever been subjected to previously. 18 bottles of water a 1.5L plus 16 L of fruitjuice = 43L. Assuming the packaging weighs nothing (which blatantly isn’t true) and that water and juice both weigh 1kg/L that’s 43kg. And I didn’t only buy drinks. I also bought crisps and other frivolities like onions and lettuce.

Having got myself and my shopping out of both the trolley and the shop, I realised I had left my buspass at home with my previous pile of shopping (even I don’t try to buy real food at the same time as drinks). I phoned a friend. No luck – when faced between going out for dinner and lugging the best part of 50kg up a hill I know what I would choose. They chose it too. The other people I tried phoning – the people I know have a car – were out. Walking it is then – YAY!! And then I found a bus ticket in my pocket. Not my buspass, where I can travel for ‘free’ (as long as I pay the monthly subscription), but a proper ticket which needs stamping. Better than nothing, and certainly better than walking the “long miles” (/4km) home (thanks RT).

Once on the bus I decided that my original idea was a very silly one, and that it made no sense to take anything home which was going to be needed for the party. I got off the bus at the stop closest to where I work (luckily on the same busroute) and tried to persuade the suitcase it wanted to come with me. It took more persuasion than I care to write about, but we both ended up on the pavement so it was okay. So far so good. Now to go about getting from the busstop to the party room. It is a stretch of maybe 150m. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes to get there, including the time you have to wait for the lights to go green. For this trip I think I needed something more in the region of 23 minutes. I stopped every few metres to let the blood back into my fingers and to get my breath back. I’d swap hands and tackle the next couple of metres and then stop again. I don’t remember the last time I made such slow and painfull progress.

When we finally got there, I unloaded everything liquid out of the bag and went home.
The next day (after a remarkably short night) I packed the 3 deep trays of freshly prepared lasagne into my trusty suitcase and trudged into work. They too were heavy, but nothing compared to the ordeal of the evening before.

The party happened, or didn’t as the case may be, and the leftovers were left for the next day. The next day came and went without making much of a mark on anything, which is why I came to once more be dragging my suitcase on and off busses and fighting for blood in my fingertips. However, I did leave the juice at work, to be collected at a later date. I might be a little overenthusiastic when packing but I don’t have a death wish.

The handle is made of plastic coated cloth sewn onto the end of the case, which I guess is pretty handy, but it does mean you have to either stoop or hold the case at about 45 degrees to the floor.

It bit me. Repeatedly.

For some reason I can only really pull suitcases or trolleys with my right hand as my left one stays too close to my body and so makes whatever I’m pulling bash my ankles. I’m used to having a telescope handle on my suitcases, which helps on the ankle-bashing front, but which this particular case doesn’t have. When you take a step the re-enforced end bashes into the back of your leg, and the handle digs into your hand and pinches the skin at the joints. Even when dragging with my right hand it bashed me. It might not have been an entirely fair fight, given that I still weigh more than it does, but I don’t think that gave me any advantages over it. I didn’t give up, but it didn’t either..  I suppose I must have won overall, since both I and it made it back in one piece, but I think I have to give it points for effort. It also appears to have suffered no damage at all, whereas my leg is decidedly more bruised than it was when I started.

On not sleeping…

Explain this:

  • Pausing to admire the sun

    This morning, as on many others, I had to fight myself to get out of bed. It was so cold everywhere but under the duvet, and I snoozed and I faffed about and ended up running halfway to work, so as to be marginally less late. (My minutes of lateness seem to add tens of decibels to my collegue’s vocal utterings. There are mornings on which my ears just aren’t up for that kind of treatment).

  • I spent the entire [work]day waiting more-or-less patiently to go home in order to get back to bed where I can begin the wonderful task of paying back my horrendous sleep debt.
  • evidence of a misspent night (Weds)

    Having just about made it home via an agonising process of “c’mon, you can make it to the next lamppost…and to that tree…just that staircase then you’re there…”*, I then had a bath instead of a quick shower and proceeded to completely miss the turning to my room, making a beeline for my computer desk and spending the evening reading other peoples’ blogs instead of actually going to bed (or eating or clearing up my kitchen or doing any of a number of productive things).

I got home at about 4pm. It’s now half past 1 in the morning. WHAT HAPPENED??

I have a wonderful bed

It’s not like I don’t have a bed. Or that the bed I have is in any way uncomfortable or uninviting. It’s a fantastic bed. The sheet’s clean and I even have a new duvet. I had about 6 hours sleep last night, and not quite 4 the night before that. The few nights before that were also shorter than optimal.. So by rights – or at least by my reckoning – I’m owed at the very least 4 hours extra sleep tonight. Tomorrow (today) I’m going to sell lunch tokens to people. That means dealing with money and giving the correct change, and that means mental maffs and would be much better accomplished with the ability to think vaguely straight. This is generally achieved by getting enough sleep.

If I know this AND am tired, WHY ON EARTH don’t I just go to bed?

The answer is I haven’t the faintest idea.

Or at least, none that would hold any water if it happened to have any poured on it.

My theory is that there must be some kind of magic woven into the words. Magic isn’t really one of my big themes, what with being Christian and all, but I can’t think of a better word to describe it. If I’m not actively choosing to stay awake (and if I am I’m not aware of it) what am I doing still up? There must be some kind of something keeping me here.

So just what kind of ‘magic’ (for want of a better word) do these blog-writers create? How does it work? And more importantly, at least for me right now, is “why am I not producing my own trail of sleep-deprived people?”

And that, dear readers, is why I made this blog. You are my guinea pigs. I want to find out what causes readers to read against their better judgement.

I also want to give some of the more restless thoughts and wonderings in my head space to run about and play, and give the others space to grow. And besides. If my brother can become a successfull blog-writer, why shouldn’t I be able to?

Dragged not carried

*in my defense, I WAS heaving/dragging 21 Litres of water and something like 6kg of Lasagne in a cloth trolley-suitcase behind me at the time…