On plans, mice and men

On Plans (especially the best-laid ones):

I was up really early today. I guess it ‘helped’ that I hadn’t slept so well, and that I’d got a text in the middle of the night so my phone flashed all night (which it also does just before the alarm rings). I got up, dressed, had breakfast…and had 15 minutes left…. So I got back into bed 🙂 Hey! What else is an option when you’re tired, it’s cold and you have 15 minutes to kill?! Naja, I got back out, put my coat on, put my shoes on (and laced them up 😉 go me!) packed my lunch, turned all the lights off, figured I needed a hair tie, turned them back on, fetched one, turned them off again. Pure and simple faffing about.

I got to work 5 minutes late.

How stupid is that??!

Anyway. I’m alone in the workshop til Monday so it didn’t really matter and I stayed on after so I’m all caught up 🙂

Of Mice:

Uh, nothing specific.. Just thinking of J.Steinbeck

Of Men*:

Why do they have to go about telling me how to live??? I’m sure they mean well… (I hope, otherwise it’s more stupid than I thought) but WHY must they assume I have no ability to think by myself? If the answer to my problem really was the one staring-you-in-the-face idea, is it not vaguely possible that I might have thought of it too? Just quickly, in passing..??

Argh.

Also my dear colleague apparently moaned/stressed/unloaded his issues-about-having-to-work-with-me to another guy from work about me while I was away before Christmas. And ‘the other guy’ agrees with him (and spent nearly an hour telling me why and what I should do about it and ugh – see above).

Is this new? No. Was it kind? I doubt it. It doesn’t feel kind anyway. Did it help (anyone)? Probably not. Did it change anything? Only that I will have to be more careful about what I say to ‘the other guy’ if they’re gunna talk about me. Do I care? Yes. It would seem so. Is that logical? No.

More Argh.

On the plus side, getting mad made me get creative. I have a plan. Not a plan of revenge or anything mean -I don’t do that- it’s a plan to save my sanity. Or what little’s left of it. I will hopefully put it into practise on Monday. Until then I will carry on scheming and cackling.

Lesson to learn from today? Assuming that conversations are like busses, I really need to learn when to tell people to get off.

Anyway. Flying.

I haven’t checked what I supposed to have done today… *checks*

“Today you are doing what we have already done:

  • Getting up and dressing to lace-up shoes
  • Keeping your sink shining

Now is the time to start exploring the Flylady BigTent Group. Be sure to read the “News” section. This is where you will find the Daily Flight Plan, the essays, and the testimonials.”

Well that was tough… Like I said, I even put my lace-up shoes on to go to work with 😛

I stopped writing just now to see if there was anything worth reading in the BigTent news thing.. I found this (dated today):

“Don’t allow anyone to steal your peace:
We often find that the ones we are closest to are the ones that will say things to us that are not meant to hurt (or sometimes they are) but yet you feel the hurt. There are several ways to not allow yourself to get caught in that downward spiral of hurting.

Remember that you are Special!! No matter what anyone says to you or how they say it, you are a very special person because you are YOU! You are a smart, capable, loving individual that is FLYing!

Remember that you can’t change how people behave — you can only change your reaction to their behavior. This means if your cousin Millie always looks down her nose at you and has a tendency to treat you poorly — feel pity for her because most likely she is a very insecure person that can only feel good about herself when she is hurting others to make herself feel good. People like this do not know what it is like to FLY!

Remember that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt) This means that you need to keep things in perspective and not give permission to yourself to get caught up in feeling inferior to anyone!!! Do not give anyone the power to hurt you, keep the power of FLYing around you as a shield and wear it proudly.

Keep in mind an old saying “those who anger you conquer you”. This means that if you give someone the power to hurt you or make you angry than they have won. They have managed to beat you up without straining themselves because you gave them the ability to do so!

Keep in mind that unhappy people have a need to ridicule or talk behind your back and yet some “helpful” family member will want to make sure you know about it, sometimes to protect you and sometimes to be the gossiping middleman. I have experienced this in many ways and I promise you that truly the best way to handle this is with grace and dignity. Do not respond to mean and unhappy people. It is not worth getting dragged into a family nightmare. The unhappy ones always have a way of twisting things so that they will always be someone else’s fault. Do not bother getting down in the gutter of misery with these kinds of people. Remind yourself that you are FLYing and that loving yourself is far more important than what unhappy and miserable people think or say about you. YOU know you are worthy and deserving of love not hurt.

When you feel that you can no longer let things slide or roll off your back, it is perfectly acceptable to say in a low quiet voice “I am sure that you did not intentionally mean to hurt my feelings, but you have. Excuse me I see someone I need to speak with” and WALK AWAY! See, you did not cause a scene or publicly embarrass the sad person that was trying to get your goat, you were polite, firm and left them alone without them getting the last word. Leave them with the words that you spoke not tears or anger. You are FLYing, this means taking care of you!! Finally Loving YOURSELF!!!!

You are entitled to a fun, loving, joyful, and peaceful new year. Do not let anyone take that away from you! FLY through the New Year!!! Do this for YOU!”

Ho-hum. Why do all the ‘mean and unhappy people’ have to work with me??? And what a bummer I work in a room with an opaque door. I tend not to randomly ‘see people I need to speak to’… Maybe I should try saying it anyway. Perhaps they’ll think madness is catching.

Normal task:
“Today you are to sweep your front porch area around your front door. Shake out your welcome mats and wipe down your front door. This makes a huge difference in how your home looks. We have a tendency to neglect this area and yet it is the first thing that people see when they come to your home.”

Hmm.. Okaaaay… Best jump to it then..

The focus was ‘Errands’. I suppose shopping is an errand.

 

*[edit] Okay. Not all men. Just the specific men who feel it necessary to instruct me on living MY life instead of living their own. Sorry for offending all the ones who don’t.

On blutack and clingfilm

Just don’t.

I thought I was amazingly clever wrapping up my ball of new bluetack in clingfilm before taking it somewhere. No fluff. No stuck together bag. No greasy marks on anything. However. Once again I realise that some good ideas just aren’t good when put into practice. I didn’t use the blutack in the place where I took it, so I brought it home again and went on holiday. Maybe it would’ve been ok short term. Whatever. The point is, it was unpeelable when I tried to unpeel it just now. I gave up after wasting too much time on it, and now have small bits of overstretched clingfilm mixed all through the ball.

Argh.

On Flying…

A new year, a new habit. Why not flying? 😉

Except I don’t mean flying in either the jumping-off-cliffs-and-flapping-your-arms-about sense, or the more civilised sense, elbowing my way through the masses of small children and tense parents into MY seat on an aeroplane. I do a fair bit of that as it is.

I mean the kind of flying coined by the Flylady, Marla Cilley. It means ‘Fully (or finally) Loving Yourself’ and is (as far as I can tell) a programm to get your house and life ‘sorted out’ without ending up a nervous quivering wreck.

The basic idea behind it (again, as far as I can tell) is that if you’re happy and you know it, and not tired, you are more likely to get stuff done, and if you get stuff done, you’re more likely to be happy. Which I guess I agree with. She says a lot about getting rid of perfectionism, and that doing something is better than doing nothing, even if you can’t do whatever-it-is perfectly right now. Waving a wet mop at the floor is better than nothing, even if it isn’t as good as getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing. Twice. With some kind of cleaner. And then polishing it. It’s about starting, then continuing in ‘baby-steps’ instead of crashing and burning and giving up. It’s about getting more sleep and giving yourself permission to stop rushing about finishing things before it gets to 3am. It includes motivation to cook better and excercise more which is something I struggle with, as my shortage of posts in December will testify to. It’s about attending to your own oxygen mask loving yourself first, so you can love other people.

At the end of it all, or more as a result of it all, the idea is to be a happy, rounded, fit, healthy, awake person, the sort who isn’t tired or stressed out and who has time to bake cookies and go dancing, who remembers to post birthday cards in time for them to get there, and who can invite people over at the drop of a hat because she has such a clean, tidy, welcoming house.

Not much of that sounds like me. Yet. *cackles*

– I don’t remember the last time I posted ANYthing on time, went to bed before midnight, had a tidy house for more than an evening or made biscuits (Ok. I made mincepies while I was at my folks over Christmas, but that doesn’t count). I have a huge problem getting up and to work on time. I have far less energy than I think I ought to have. I get home and can’t be bothered to cook, because I’d have to wash the saucepans from the night before first. Eveytime I want to go dancing I have a minor breakdown because I can’t find anything clean and/or presentable to wear. When I invite anyone over I have to work out how long I need to get it presentable before I suggest a day. Having cleaned like a wild thing, so that whoever’s supposed to come over can, it takes less than a week to get back to the way it was before.. ARGH. –

I found the site a year or so ago, and even signed up for it and read [some of] the emails. BUT. I didn’t ‘jump on the bandwagon’ as they say. I picked up [some of] the cooler tips (like leaving the roll of new bin liners between the dustbin and the current bag so you don’t have to look for them when you take the rubbish out), but I didn’t rush off and clean my fridge when they said “clean your fridge”, and I never really bothered with ‘decluttering’ or shining my sink.

This year… I’m going to try it out. It  feels a bit crazy, and if I’m honest, a little bit like a strange non-religious cult, but since this woman, the Flylady, has been going for over 10 years and has about a million followers she must have something going for her. Besides. I read yesterday, that the best way to prove something doesn’t work/isn’t true/is stupid, is to try it out and see instead of talking about it..

So. I’m going to do it. The beginning of a year seems a good place to start and my house could really do with it. Or I could. Or both.

I’ll write the missions on here, and maybe put before-and-after photos up if I think they’re interesting.

Watch this space.

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 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 leftovers, menu-planning and how not to roast parsnips

I can’t see how menu planning is supposed to work.

The idea is great – decide what you’re going to eat when and then buy the ingredients for those meals. Super. You don’t buy ‘extras’ or ‘rubbish’, you have a plan so you don’t have to decide what you’re going to cook when you’re too tired to think, you have everything you need when you need it, you have balanced meals and balanced weeks, and all manner of other delightful benefits.

My problem is what happens when life strikes?

Like last Sunday when I just wasn’t hungry, or when things work out differently to the way I thought they would. What happens to the food planned for those days? Do you shift everything along a day (ie, Sunday’s dinner is then eaten on Monday)? But what if you have to make something easy on Monday so you can go out? Do you wait until Thursday when you have time? Leaving all the ingredients until then might mean they go mouldy in the meantime and you’re no better off than with no plan. Do you ignore Sunday altogether and carry on with Monday as per plan? Sunday’s food is then effectively scrapped before it’s had a chance to think about mould.. Do you incorperate the ingredients in the rest of the plan, thereby in effect replanning the week (making the first plan redundant)?

As I said, I haven’t figured it out yet. I try to buy things I can use in more than one meal and then use them up as and when, preferably before they run (or ooze) away of their own accord.

Whatever. I still had parsnips in my fridge from an idea I’d had a week ago. Parsnips are pretty rare over here and one of my favourite vegetables. Occasionally they’re to be found in fruit&veg shops, but they’re certainly not as widespread as in the UK. I found these in a supermarket which really surprised me. I would hate for them not to be eaten, but I somehow hadn’t got round to doing anything with them.

This evening was a stay-at-home kind of evening so I decided to grill them. It’s like roasting only quicker. And more exciting if you use baking paper. I am incredibly lazy as far as washing up goes.

What’s left of the paper..

However, I don’t think there’s a way around washing the tray when grillling. I set my oven on fire while putting the tray-with-paper-and-parsnips-on in it.

I decided washing the tray was marginally better than burning down the house (MY HOUSE!) and took what was left of the greaseproof paper off the tray. I added some peppers, cheese and ham, waited for just the right degree of burnt and settled down to a feast.

🙂

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 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…