On social inneptness

(however that’s spelled)

 

Move house more than once as a kid?

Have unregular mealtimes? and bedtimes?

Live ‘out in the country’?

Ever not have ‘the Thing’ eveyone had?

Been homeschooled?

 

If you have artistic parents give yourself several bonus points.

 

I was witness to a remarkable discussion this lunchtime where any one of the factors above make your chances of becoming an intergrated member of the community slightly smaller than that of a colony of Giraffes moving to the south pole to chase the butterflies. (they went on to say that anyone who gets run over by a bus can only blame themselves, and that death is better than disability, but that’s not relevant to the post)

If you can tick more (or all) of the boxes, just get out. Don’t even bother looking at the drawer, never mind climbing into it. 🙂

Welcome to the world of social inneptness 🙂 Or community disability. Or something equal to horrifyingly-unable-to-fit-in.

What they said sucked.. but you know what? On balance, I think I’m pretty happy not squeezing myself into any drawer which contains people who make such statements.

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 perceived productivity

Why is it, on some days getting out of bed counts as productive already, and others -like today- I can wash my hair, help out at Sunday school, clear and sort my kitchen, sort out a folder of certificates and ‘important’ papers, think about Christmas presents for people, decorate a pinboard, write 3 emails (one of which was long overdue), cook and eat, and allow myself to be tortured by my favourite ski-training-woman, and still feel like it was a very unproductive day??

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 raking up old leaves

Usually people turn over new leaves, especially at the beginning of the year. I’ve decided to rake up a few of my older ‘new leaves’, the ones which have fallen by the wayside over the course of the year. Hopefully some of them will stick this time round and I’ll have a headstart on next year 😉

– this practically killed me in February when I started it, but then proved to have been incredibly effective when I went skiing.

The first time I went, I skiied for ONE day and was unable to move for about a week afterwards because everything hurt so much. A friend suggested I follow this crazy woman’s regime pretty dedicatedly until I go again. So I did. For about 3 weeks. The second time I went skiing, I was fit enough to dance around the car park at the end of the second day and although everything still hurt for a few days afterwards it was nothing like the first time.. I’m hopefully going skiing again over new year which gives me 4 weeks. I think I’m less fit than I was at the start of last time, so this may prove interesting. I’ve decided to motivate myself to actually do it, by saying I can’t post (or surf much) until it’s done.

  • Eat more sensibly.

– For some reason I find this incredibly difficult at the moment. I’m either not hungry, or I’m hungry NOW but have no interest in cooking (in which case I eat something ‘stupid’ like chocolate)

  • Sleep more (=at least 7 hours, better 8-8 1/2) …
  • … so I can be on time for work.
  • Walk at least a mile per day. This is something I read on someone else’s blog and thought was a good idea. On an average weekday I walk to work and back which is about a mile each way. On most Sundays I walk to church and back which I suppose is just over a mile total. Saturdays are a problem. Today I walked into town and round the Christmas Market 🙂 Was pretty cold, but dry and not really windy. And the market was nice.
  • At least 1 other ‘sporty’ thing per week; swimming, iceskating, cycling, dancing.. whatever. For an hour. Ish.

And that’s it. 🙂

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.