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Monday morning

Awake at 5am today, it seems that Monday morning could not come fast enough for me. I love my commute into work. It’s a space in the day that is for me and me only. I queue with the hordes on the platform, waiting for the tram to arrive, hoping along with everyone else that when it stops the door is in front of me so that I am first to get on.

My stop is a school stop. Crowds of children tumble out of the tram, filling the platform. It’s hard to believe that they all fitted. People shuffle around within the tram, like atoms in a boiling kettle, spacing themselves out. I won at the game of roulette today – the spinning line of door/carriage/door/carriage stopped in front of me at – DOOR! I move decisively, a seasoned traveller now. I know where the spaces are to be found, further down the tram, alongside the seated travellers where there are hanging straps to cling onto and fewer people choose to go.

I have my Kindle in my hand already, I lift it in front of my eyes and the shoving, complaining hordes disappear. I cannot use this time in any other way. This is guilt free reading. I am not wasting time, I am not avoiding the washing up, I am not worrying about anything. I am travelling to work.

This, and the day ahead of me, is taken care of. I don’t have to steer or drive. I surrender to the journey.

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How to Organise a Meeting, and Other Useful Tips

I learnt early on in life that admin work probably wasn’t for me, after I came off the loser in a fight with a stapler, aged 17. However, following various career disasters, I am optimistically attempting admin work again, in the hope that my years of experience as a woman will have taught me some organisational skills:

Here is how to organise a meeting. I hope that my experience will be of benefit to all the other hopelessly impractical people out there. I’m sure there have to be some (if that’s you, please leave a comment so I have evidence that it’s not just me)..

1) First of all, decide who is going to be invited to the meeting. Spend a long time composing an email to the group. When you have finished the email, which includes a complicated system of voting for the meeting date using voting buttons (which you have spent an hour working out how to set up, and an entire paragraph of your email explaining how to use), press ‘Send’.

2) Read reply email wondering why the voting buttons aren’t showing. Send cheerful email back stating ‘that’s because I forgot to attach them, oops!’ and send another email to everyone entitled ‘Voting buttons attached this time’.

3) Come up with a random date for the meeting as most people have been too confused by the voting system to express a preference, and none of the 3 people who did vote for their preferred date have voted for the same date. Send another email telling everyone the date of the meeting.

4) Read reply email asking where the meeting is going to take place. Ring around various meeting rooms in organisation trying to find an available room. Realise there is no available room.

5) Ignore all further emails and questions about this meeting for a fortnight while deciding whether it would be more embarrassing to a) admit to having failed to book a room and arrange another date (maybe another ‘oops’ email and they will all see the funny side?) b) tell manager and hope she can sort it out c) say nothing, let people turn up and try to blame whole not-having-a-room fiasco on receptionist or d) call in sick and wait for letter of dismissal.

6) Tell manager.

7) Attend meeting (manager having come up with another venue to try) ready to read out a report. Wait an interminably long time for other people to read out their reports, preparing to read own report. Become slowly aware of an increasing level of noise outside the room, and realise that it would have been wise to book the room for 2 hours rather than 1 and a half (‘who starts at meeting at 11.30am? we’ll definitely have it until 12’ I had erroneously thought). Ignore the noise, hope everyone hurries up and plan to read report in speeded-up squeaky voice.

8) Look insouciant as member of meeting goes outside to see what the noise is, and comes back in saying ‘this room is only booked until 11.30!’

9) Pull ‘oops’ face as every member of the meeting turns to look at you.

10) Carry on regardless.

For all disorganised people, everywhere. 

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Doing Work. Work work. At Home.

I have brought work home with me tonight. That’s work work. From the office. Pah. This was never part of my life plan. I was going to write a novel, wasn’t I? In my lunch break (that’s the lunch break that I never take…)

This all started when my boss said

‘Why you have applied for a Band 3 position I’ll never know. It’s beyond me. You should apply for the Band 5 here when it comes up,’ and I stupidly got all excited, because I felt like a proper career woman in my new dress and I decided that I should apply for said job, change the habit of a lifetime and be a go-getter-y type of alpha female (I may have been getting a bit carried away, you’re probably now imagining some high-flying managerial post rather than a job that a graduate of 21 years old would consider it their right to get…I’ll let you keep thinking that)

She’s undoubtedly right; technically a woman like me, possessed of a Masters degree and a personable manner, should be working at a higher level – but what she didn’t realise, and I forgot, is that I have a very low tolerance threshold when it comes to stress.

I had a bad day.

It was Friday afternoon. I had to stuff 157 envelopes with letters, and people kept emailing me and ringing me, as I’d just sent out a mass email asking for information from them all. So, in a way, I’d invited the emails and the constant phone-ringing, but it was still very annoying. Especially when I’d just been told that the 157 letters had to be posted within one hour. By my boss, who also decided to send me lots of emails asking for information and giving me jobs to do, so that my computer kept making a pinging noise and distracting me from my envelope stuffing. It really was all quite annoying. I told my co-worker about how irritating it was, in a hilarious but maybe overly loud manner, given that my manager hadn’t gone on her lunch break like she was supposed to, but was in the adjoining office with the door open. So now she thinks I can’t handle stress, which is really unfair even though I can’t, and in light of this her enthusiasm for giving me the Band 5 job seems to have waned. Even though I have completed all other assignments apart from this one in a most efficient manner (I have it in writing!)

So, I’ve taken this report home, in an attempt to prove that my report-writing skills are better than my envelope-stuffing skills and make them give me the report-writing job.

Except that I seem to have been distracted by blogging and wine…Ahem. So. An update of the review, completed last November by my predecessor, I mean the last Band 5 worker, sorry I’m just the Admin worker but I’ve still been asked to write this report because they’ve sort of said they might give me the job but it depends on the interviews…Anyway…blah blah blah…pour me another wine….I can manage change and cope with uncertainty, just like it says in the job spec. What, did someone say I can’t cope with pressure? No, I thrive on pressure. Love it. It brings out the best in me. And I’m very reliable too…hard-working…my only fault is I’m too much of a perfectionisht…oh, is it not the interview yet…? No, I said perfectionisht, not pisht…

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I am the Wicked Witch of the North

My daughter hates me, and I’m the worst parent in the world.

(my husband isn’t too keen on me either. Last night he said that I’ve been ‘acting like a complete arse-hole all month’. ‘Could you be a bit more specific?’ I asked, after all I had just given him a detailed litany of everything he’s done wrong for the last month; he wasn’t giving me much to work with. There was no reply, he’d already stomped off to bed.)

This situation obviously warrants further investigation. Both my daughter and my husband are angry with me. Are these things connected? Is it me?

When I think back over the last month, I can’t deny that there have been times when I have mislaid both my rose-tinted spectacles, and my sense of humour. I’m not sure where I left them but it was possibly in my wine glass which I didn’t pick up for most of the month. ‘Dry January’, although a wonderful month in many ways, was a very serious month. I started a new job, worked in the evenings on my blog and my IT skills, and drove everywhere. My world shrank to the small confines of my new office and my new car, my horizon extended no further than the top of the computer screen which I peered over occasionally, to see my daughter’s scowling face.

At 11 years old, she is already on page 375 of the Teenage Terror Handbook (she always was a fast reader). She’s already read about teenage eating disorders and occasionally decides to have one, usually when she doesn’t like what’s being offered for dinner.

‘I’m not having any,’ she says ‘I’ll just starve myself,’ although judging by the stash of crisps and chocolate under her bed, that might take a while.

Sometimes I find all of this mildly  amusing, and I say in a very jolly fashion

‘You can’t be up to there in the teenage manual already, surely! We are not supposed to get to that until you are 13!’ and she will disappear, getting the message that Mum is fully in control of the situation and not losing her temper (also, possibly, that she can refuse to eat dinner once she gets to 13, but I’m going to have to worry about that later).

On days like this she will reappear for dinner later and eat without saying a word more on the subject. Homework and bedtimes can be dealt with in a similar light-hearted fashion, and I congratulate myself on how easily I am holding down a job and Parenting without stress or shouting.

Until we get to Day 23 of Dry January, and my precious Rose Bud has reached page 116 in the Teenage Manual by 6pm, bombarding me as soon as I walk through the door with ‘I need an i-phone because my friend just got one, and I’m not having any dinner, and no I’m not doing any homework, it’s got nothing to do with you, and why can’t I have an I-phone 5?’

Unable to pour myself a glass of patience, I feel my temper rising, my chest becoming tight with air which suddenly won’t come out, my throat aching with the angry words which are finally expelled:

‘Why can’t you stop acting like this and just do your homework and eat dinner like a normal child!! Why do you keep arguing about everything? I haven’t got an i-phone, what makes you think you should have one? You are 11 years old, not 16!’

There are days when she plays my part and lightens up the tension with a joke

‘Now calm down, Mum. Just breathe, there you go, breathe in…and breathe out. See? Easy,’ and I sigh and smile at her cheek, and the argument doesn’t happen. There are other days when she says

‘Oh so you’re saying I’m not normal now? You’re the worst Mum in the world!! I HATE YOU!’ and I feel the house shake as her bedroom door slams, and for the next few days she is angry and rude on the rare occasions she comes downstairs.

I take her i-pad away from her because of her rudeness, and now she REALLY hates me, and although I know that I have to stand firm, I still feel guilty because I lost my temper 3 days ago. This is how, on Day 27 of Dry January, I pick my wine glass back up and manage to laugh again, and I feel less alone as I stop shouting at my husband and he stops calling me an arse-hole. Today, as I am writing this, my daughter comes downstairs and stands behind me, wrapping her arms around my neck; tighter and tighter, as she tries to strangle me – no, not really. She has me in a headlock but it’s a hug.  A clumsy puppy hug. She leans her head on mine and says

‘Can we go swimming tonight?’

and the argument is gone and forgotten, my husband is home, and the scent of cooking fills the cottage in the Manchester countryside…and it doesn’t matter who lost their temper; there is hope of forgiveness, and laughter to come…

parenting, manic mondays

Posted on Manic Monday bloghop on Perfection Pending

I linked this post to the Manic Monday bloghop on Perfection Pending.

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Awards, Spreadsheets and Life on Fast Forward

The Liebster award seems to be ricocheting around the Zero to Hero community. I am really grateful to Samantha on Grilled Cheese for nominating me for the award – she’s definitely a woman after my own heart with her love of cheese, amongst other things! I’ve decided to be an award-free zone for the moment, as the rules of these things are too confusing for me, and accepting them is seriously time consuming. I found many new blogs to follow during my search for suitable nominees. I’ve enjoyed browsing around and have decided to take the advice to put together a proper blogroll – this is my next project.

My life has become very busy as not only have I started a new job, but the manager of this job has suggested I apply for the post a grade above this one, which they have just advertised. I am very excited at the fact that she thinks I am capable of doing it. I’m hastily trying to substantiate my claims to be able to use spreadsheets and databases with ease, working day and evening to learn new skills. It’s a long time since I have had such a challenge, and I’m enjoying it.

My life suddenly seems to be moving in fast forward, which is a blessing as this month is Dry January. Yes, I decided to stop drinking for the entire month of January. The thing that amazes me more than the fact that I have managed this for 15 days, is the fact that I have managed not to blog about it for 15 days. I am sure I will be remedying this, just as soon as I have got to grips with how to make a graph out of some numbers on a spreadsheet…