Procrastination Monkey

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The “figure” you see here has assumed a few roles within its existence. Firstly, as you can see from the metal chain on the head, it was originally an accessory which came attached to a handbag, but upon realising that it wasn’t suitable for more sombre occasions like job interviews for example, I detached it and let it become a cute ornamental addition to the coffee table. Then, over time, it came to be a convenient symbol, and even a by-line, for other things too. Namely, being a handy “pointer” towards things on that coffee table which needed to be done and still hadn’t been done and could they be done soon please… During this time it came to be known “affectionately” as Passive-Aggressive Monkey. Strange memories of employing the monkey for various tasks which were as-yet-incomplete were formed during this time.

Later on, when my general life situation become more “on track”, such as in beginning my postgraduate course, it would be relegated to being merely a faded relic of a time gone by, a creature sadly out of a job and unnecessarily reminding me to get things done, as I would glance at it, safe in the knowledge that no I no longer needed reminding to get things done, and could it simply sit there and enjoy its retirement in peace.

However, as the course proper is now finished and, yes, I technically have a qualification, there is still the tricky matter of the Dissertation. Capitalising the “d” is deliberate, due to its current omnipresence in my life. Not only is this the second dissertation I’ve had to do, it’s exactly twice as hard, if not more so, than my first dissertation, not least due to being twice as long and to be completed in less than half the time. Without boring you with the details of exactly what I have to research and write, you can take my word for it that it is a capital-c Challenge.

Erstwhile – as I alternate between a genuine desire and interest in the subject and try to learn as much as I can, then feeling the motivation drain away like someone’s pulled a plug somewhere inside me, replaced with a genuine conviction that I’ve indeed bitten off more than I can chew and the pesky thoughts creeping in that I should quit while I’m ahead and bow out with at least a shred of dignity before I spectacularly crash and burn – the Monkey has been sitting quietly assuming a new, but not entirely different, role on the coffee table and in my life. Now it has become Procrastination Monkey.

Pure and simple, Procrastination Monkey simply epitomises the fact that, with the relatively few distractions I have to doing my dissertation and it being the only “real thing” I have to do right now, I currently have no excuse or rationalisation for my hardly having written a thing even halfway into the dissertation “season”, nothing I can point at and say “that’s the reason” – only me. The fact that almost any significant task, which involves time and patience, and significant re-writing which leaves my brain in a useless tangled pile, has now been short-cutting me straight to the “I can’t do this so why bother” stage.

The voice of conscience maybe, like Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, but ultimately silent, and judging, not even able to give any advice or assurance or motivation. Something like “OK honestly if you just push through this feeling of drainage and demotivation and just Do It Anyway you’ll at least get somewhere even if it takes you an embarrassingly long time” would be something, but  that would also be expecting slightly too much from what is ultimately an inanimate object on the coffee table. Just that it would be a positive nudge if it could give silent admonition, but also a nudge forward in the right direction.

Until then, it will just have to sit, assuming any role I give it, so anthropomorphically of me, while it sits on the coffee table, occasionally obscured by a mug of coffee.

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Hello again, and welcome to more of me.

Some news which will considerably change life in the near future: my sister and brother-in-law are expecting a baby in the middle of 2015, so congratulations to them of course. 🙂 They already have a considerable “family” of non-human creatures, (one of whom I like to have as a guest at mine every so often, and hopefully she feels the same), so this first human addition to the family for a long time is one I’m looking forward to, as this one looks set to be one of the healthiest and most “aware” people to join the world, right from the beginning.

On a more selfish note – still on the postgraduate course (just about clinging on) since the last post – it’s been an intensive and often very stressful stretch of time, frequently involving an “I Just Can’t Do It Anymore” mentality, but it looks like there are rewards to be gained should I continue hanging in there. I’ve had the chance, for the first time in I can’t remember how long, to meet and work directly with some cool people, many of whom are from far-flung corners of the globe and have clearly got the talent and the drive to come all the way over to Glasgow, with the awesome weather and everything, to study, on top of, well, all the actual studying. We are having to learn things which I had previously assumed to be dead and buried back in the recesses of high school (alongside the particularly acute awkwardness of my general existence at the time), along with a whole bunch of skills which I’d never even associated with being a librarian.

Apparently, librarians are meant to be not only gatekeepers of information, but defenders and promoters of public education, and generally trying to include all people in as much of what goes on in libraries as possible. Given the world we live in, so very fraught with tension and conflicting beliefs regarding freedom of speech and information, this looks set to be a very challenging job to take on. As I continue to wonder whether I’d personally be cut out for such a role, I continue to appreciate the chance to learn skills, each one a string which I can add to my proverbial bow, and ones which I need to learn quickly, as time insists on continuing on.

Where this has left my writing is hard to say; while I’ve had far less time to actually read or write (two of my favourite things to do) anything not to do with the course, what I have written during this time has been quite different from what my “style” has come to be. I’m now basically juggling the writing and the course, not sure which will end up being my “thing”, if indeed either of them will be. I’m just hoping to accomplish as much as possible without any screws coming loose, so wherever that will end up leading…

This time of year – having come round with such a velocity it’s frightening – has always been a weird one for me. My birthday is in a few days’ time (if you don’t know what age I’ll be I’m not telling), thus kicking off the “have I done enough by this age” contemplation. The short and emphatic answer to this is “NO”, and it looks like it always will be, with an additional one, “How the hell did I even get this far in life in the first place?” becoming more commonplace… But so much time has been lost to this feeling that the only thing left to do is to just keep trying to do all the things I can. In a moment of probably-deliberate distraction, I went on a mini-outing to Kelvingrove Park (in the background being the University of Glasgow, the backdrop to another phase of my life) and took some photographic evidence of my being there.

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River Kelvin and Glasgow Uni

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Snowdroppage

I’m a bit of a snowdrop fan, as you can see. Whether it’s to do with them coming up around my birthday or at the start of spring or otherwise, I’m not sure. It seems like I’m destined to never be too far away from any given university. Hopefully that will start paying off a bit more soon. Until next time!

Back to Uni, as a postgraduate this time

It has come to my attention that being a librarian is a hell of a lot more difficult than I ever expected it to be. Or maybe that’s just the training.

Of course the chance to learn a whole new set of skills, which I can use to supplement my C.V. in the off-chance that I cannot rely upon my writing alone (-_-), is a major advantage, as is the fact that it’s one of the things that I’m probably best suited to anyway. To date, this has involved learning how to utilize methods of searching other than Google, compiling a thesaurus on a subject of my choosing (currently working on), and a lot more. The drawback is that there is also a lot involved in the course at which I failed in school at the elementary level, such as mathematics and, shockingly, basic computing…

All in all, the course has taken up far more of my time and brain space than I was expecting (it is a postgraduate course but even so), so this has left little time for anything else, such as the things which I’ve said that I would spend more time on, not so long ago.

Such as cycling. And writing. And the Scottish independence thing ended up not happening, but I cast my vote, which was about the extent of what I could do in that situation.

Things I’ve had time for recently:

– Sleeping / recovering from the trials and tribulations of the course.

– Studying for said course.

– Looking out of the window on a particularly nice autumn day, knowing full well that I could probably fit in a modest amount of walking or cycling or getting a minimal amount of vitamin D but taking so long to decide to do so and try unsuccessfully to attach bike lighting (I’m one of the less practical people out there, as it were) that the already-reclusive sun decides to retire, but not before I decide to document the impressive changes in nature that can be seen from the comfort of my own home:

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View from my bedroom window – that is kind of pretty…

– Taking up my long-forgotten hobby of making figures out of blu-tack, brought on by having a leftover supply from my trip to the stationary store. This is one such figurine:

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I’m not entirely sure what it’s meant to be

Well that’s it for now. It will probably be Christmas/Winter Solstice/Hogmanay, or quite some time later on, before I have more to add to the list, so unless something else pops up unexpectedly I’ll leave it here until then.

Independence & Cycling

 

I would apologise for the lateness of this latest post but I won’t because anything posted between the last one and now would have been quite boredom-inducing…

So summer’s come and gone (not about to break into song), and for the first time I’m going to teeter on the brink of Political Discussion. It was inevitable: if you live where (or near where) I live, there will be no avoiding the Scottish Independence debate. Feelings are running very strong all over the place and the campaign is getting ever more intense, with only a couple of weeks to go in order to decide which box to tick on the big day.

The best indicator of the ante being upped significantly is the amount of physical leaflet-y material coming through the door almost daily. Thankfully I live in an area where the predominant feeling is one I generally agree with, otherwise I’d be getting very uppity almost every day. However much of the campaign – particularly on the “yes” side – has been propelled by online activity.

For a recent writing project for a new website, I chose to air my own view on the whole thing, with the hope of helping to convince people that they do still have a chance to sway the vote, no matter how much propaganda to the contrary is being flung in everyone’s collective face:

http://writertown.com/how-social-media-can-sway-the-vote-for-scottish-independence-2/

What else… apart from reading, “gathering inspiration” for my writing, and quite a lot more Netflix than is healthy, I’ve been trying to resume cycling. Without a motivating influence to keep pushing myself on, it’s been quite a bit more difficult to ride for very long, or even find a good reason to do so in the first place. However I am trying not to slide into apathy, and will make a point to find somewhere interesting to ride; to enhance the novelty value, preferably somewhere I haven’t been before.

Here are a few pics of the latest solo ride:

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A bridge en-route which I took a photo of instead of crossing…

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Bird wire-sculpture

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Apple tree at the train station, which I was unable to pick at the time

 

Later that day I tried to make a pie; sadly, these were not made from apples from the apple tree above…

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Just Trying To Help… Spare Some Change?

I’m going to disclose something potentially damning about myself now: I’ve never had a paid, conventional, 9-5, full-time job before. Well, I’ve never had one that encompasses all these qualities at the same time.

Although I’ve been able to safely account for most of my “working” life by virtue of being at university* (full-time, or as full-time as an arts student can be…), and in volunteering, the often-uncomfortable fact is that, due most likely to a combination of circumstance and simple bad luck in that area, I’ve made it to nearly-thirty with less “working” experience than your average school-leaver, fresh out of the can.

*Also, I guess that spending those years at university investing in a degree which is probably one of the LEAST likely to lead directly to paid employment also hasn’t helped my situation.

However, this isn’t for lack of trying, particularly upon my leaving school with considerably poorer grades than I was hoping. At my peak, I was dumping around 5-10 of my proudly-tailor-made CVs per day upon the unwitting shop-bar-cafe circuit in my town; only a (child-size) handful of which actually invited me for an interview; almost none of whom actually offered me anything. Eventually, I would end up acquiring a very short-lived customer service job and a brief stint in “hospitality temping” – both of which I became certain I was suited to in NO way…

Furthermore, during those times when I found myself out of both work and education, I found myself actually WANTING to do something productive with my life. For me, finding work wasn’t just a way to earn money and make a living, it was a way to potentially enrich my life and to “make a contribution to society” – win-win.

Thus I was initiated into the world of volunteering. I started out helping in my local Oxfam store, which I grew to like enough to actually want as a paid position, except none were then available. I got a well rounded impression of working for a charitable organisation and felt… of-use. Then sometime later along came a full-time placement doing editing and graphic design for a local community project – full-time, but still technically volunteering.

Then in the middle of uni, I did more Oxfam time here and there, then when I graduated I had WAY more free time to fill, and job prospects which ended up being only slightly better than when I started my course. The trouble was that by the time of my graduation, the climate was such that not only were jobs scarce even for the most highly qualified people, but now competition for volunteering placements had grown so much that there were virtually queues out the door to basically work for free.

A few years ago, shortly before graduating, I applied for a mobile library role which would involve helping to deliver books to those unable to come to the library. After an intensive interviewing process and a thorough background check, I then heard… nothing. Ever again. I’m still not sure whether they were inundated with applicants in which I got lost in the shuffle, or they simply found a better fit for the role. Either way, it would now seem that even offering time for nothing in return would be a new challenge.

Something to this effect would happen a few more times between then and now. I would apply for a volunteering position with a view to “making-a-contribution-to-society” (and frankly, also to stop myself going insane), I would go along a few times, basking in the feel-good glow which comes from doing-a-good-thing. I believe I even dared to allow myself to feel a little smug on occasion.

Then the work-load would cease, or I would no longer be needed for the position, or communication would simply cease for whatever reason. Then I’d be back to square one.

I’m still not entirely sure whether I’m going wrong somewhere in the whole process of volunteering, or if there is just no place for a would-be writer/researcher/librarian (where my skills most closely lie, if anywhere) in this mad new world with far too many people also wanting to do-a-good-thing.

But in the absence of that ever-elusive full-time job which has been dodging me ever since I’ve been old enough to require one, I need to do something to keep the encroaching tide of ennui at a safe distance.

Or I might even be forced to take up running again.

 

 

I’m Still On Kindle & Other Goings-On…

Posted on July 27, 2013

I am armed with a couple of updates as to what has been going on.

My big sister is now a married lady; the wedding ceremony was lovely and it brings my fiance and I one step closer to being asked the old question, “When’s the big day?”…

However, instead of jumping in straight after the happy couple, we have decided to go on a boating holiday. This will comprise of sailing along the Caledonian Canal, taking in all the pretty sights along the way, and jumping off here and there to do some hiking and biking. And learning how to sail a boat, of course. It looks like fun, but I’m wondering if it will prove to be too difficult for one as hopelessly impractical as me. We’ve got a couple of spare spaces in the boat going (the price was quoted for 4-5 people but for now it’s just us) so if you fancy it drop me a line…

Also, I intend to add a new page to my website: gaming. This is one thing I never had a chance to get into properly in my hazy youth, having been exposed to little to no games growing up; but as I have a very keen gaming fan for a beloved one – with whom I wish to share a bit more – I will self-impose a tentative introduction, and freshen up my reviewing skills along the way.

Again, please be gentle :$

Re-Reflection

Posted on May 12, 2013

Exactly a year ago, in my post “A Bit Of Reflection”, I pondered a key turning point in my life, and where I would subsequently be a year on. This, today, is a year on – how time whizzes by :/

Some things are more or less what I expected them to be:

My parents went ahead and took over the inn that they’d had their eye on, and after LOTS of trials and obstacles things are starting to pull themselves together, and it’s turning out to be a most successful venture (plus somewhere to escape every so often).

My fiance and I are still engaged – we’ve still had our respective hardships in our lives which have overlapped into each other’s life, which has sometimes made for a wobbly crossing, but we’ve managed to find a way to keep going, and at the time of writing, are still going strong

Some things just… are:

I graduated from uni in June, shortly after the original posting. My GPA was quite a bit lower than I was hoping (and expecting), mostly due to the difficult birth of my dissertation, plus dropping a couple of classes as a result a sudden bout of apathy – perhaps unwisely. But I still managed to graduate with an M.A., and have taken pride of place among the millions of other graduates who are floundering around, over-qualified for many jobs but under-qualified for that perfect one…

Some things are not quite what I expected them to be:

I’ll admit that I had assumed that I’d be well on the way to a successful career in writing. That is partly true – I gained an internship, and further experience down the line, in content writing, a little of which was paid but most of which was voluntary. But in terms of creative writing (nanowrimo for example), that has been considerably more of a struggle than I thought it would be.

Lack of confidence in my writing, plus few impartial and willing people available to proofread and give constructive feedback, have resulted in my writing remaining pretty much for my eyes only. I dare not even self-publish before taking this step, for fear that something I love, and have taken time to create and nurture, will be torn apart callously by some unknown figure, whether or not justifiably.

I have the continually nagging feeling that… despite all the above, I still should have done something by this point in time. It’s weird how long one can continue to postpone. A year ago, if I thought I’d still be at this stage, I’d have administered a swift kick to the arse (if it were physically possible)  and been like “COME ON ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! :{”

I guess this would now be a good time, without leaving it any longer anymore, to actually put something out there. Like, for proper digestion and contemplation. And hopefully a receptive audience. If there’s one actually out there.

Oh well, time to keep on plugging away. Once again.