Category Archives: Decisions

How odd..

It’s been a bizarre day.

I’ve been in the oddest of moods, since late yesterday afternoon, for the silliest of reasons, which has sent me into a spiral of panic. (All over a dress! Told you it was silly.)

I’m also cross because I’ve been waiting in all day for someone to come and do the final job before I can get on with mine, and I could have done with using today doing practical things to work out this odd mood.

I think reaction also has set in about having a piano. It signifies something I’d not really realised, and I’m scared all over again.

Letting people into my life again is scary too.

But, I’ll be OK soon!

Plan? What plan?!

It’s been a great, but busy few weeks. I thought I had got through the half-term reasonably well, until I spent most of yesterday asleep, and then over-slept this morning, messing up Plan A of early church, followed by rugby (Yay for the All Blacks!!) followed by a meander to see how the half-marathon was doing.

So, usual Sunday plan took place – which I’m actually quite glad about. I’m trying not  to “church-hop” in the mornings, but only in the evenings as the church I go to in the mornings has no evening service. The infant being dedicated this morning made me giggle so much. He was such a happy, beautifully-behaved child, with the most expressive face.

Plan A for the half term break is also under reconsideration. September/October are very tight months financially in my line of work, and going away even for an occasional day trip wasn’t an option, so I had planned to finish off the odd DIY tasks I’d set myself over the summer, but which had to be postponed after the discovery of various bigger jobs that needed doing by someone else! With the exception of one job, they’ve all been completed. Some of the smaller tasks I’ve got on with at weekends, as I’ve not been so exhausted as I’ve been in previous autumn terms, so the list isn’t as long as I thought it was going to be.

However, I have finally received a significant amount of money back from the taxman. After careful consideration that I have received the correct amount, said cheque has been banked and cleared. So, my bank account, which was perilously close to crossing over the border into overdraft territory, is looking astonishingly healthy, and pay day is still to come.

The prudent plan would be to save most of it! I considered this carefully for a while… about half an hour or so.

The other prudent plan would be to buy some new clothes. Which I am going to do a certain amount of! (Appropriate clothing for a wedding, possible interviews, some new shoes and underwear are on that list!)

The main item on the shopping list, however, is a digital piano. My keyboard has done sterling work over the ten years I’ve had it, but it’s not an 88 key one, nor is it proper piano action on the keys. I’m limited in what I can play on it, the key action is over the top light and sensitive and it’s been frustrating beyond belief. I’ve learnt to cope with it, but by limiting myself. The purist in me wants a real piano, the pragmatist knows a digital one will fit in this house better, and I can practise when I want to, as I can wear earphones.

So, tomorrow, for the first time in months, I’m off shopping!!!

Brain-ache, bright ideas and “Oh bother it”!

After much deliberation, checking of timing, and being ready to leave as soon as the result was declared,  it was deemed that this morning’s following of the Scotland Argentina game prior to going to church was the plan. It was just as well I had a 25 minute walk to church to recover from the match.

I now have complete and utter brain ache after trying to work out what’s got to happen next if Scotland are to progress… and that’s after reading the Scotland v England Permutations on this page. I have grasped the essentials. I think. I’m also sure Ben and Tom will explain to me tomorrow in great depth. (Ben and Tom, aged 18 and 19 respectively,  may have a poor grasp of basic skills in Numeracy and Literacy, despite all our efforts, and somewhat interesting social skills, but they have an excellent grasp of the important matters in life, such as who needs to do what to get through the Pool stages. They are saddened that I have not put my impressive ability to spot a missing capital letter or full stop within 2 seconds of glancing at their work, to better use. But we get on very well, and Monday morning breaks are devoted to the finer analysis of Rugby during World Cup and Six Nations seasons.)

In between times, I’ve been having Bright Ideas – about where to go next with the painting and decorating, about what to do about Church stuff that continues to bother me, but is no longer overwhelming, and the Getting a Life thing… they’re all percolating!

On the “Oh bother it” front, I’m hoping today’s excessive noise from my new neighbours is an occasional rather than regular event. I have to go to the library on the way home from work tomorrow, as I can’t renew my books on-line again (I was planning to go next weekend!) and who gave my nephew permission to have his 21st birthday?


Ten years ago today

Apologies to those who think this is going to be a 9/11 commemoration post, trouble was my life changed dramatically that day as well, and would have done so regardless of anything else going on in the world.  The events of 9/11 are something I won’t forget, and will remember today, but as a result, I’ve underplayed my story to myself, burying it all and acting on that which I knew then had to happen, took a lot longer than it should have done, probably to my detriment. (So, yes, this is an extremely self-indulgent post. Sorry about that.)

Life was very different, and it was all about to change.

Actually, the change had already started. I was part of a Planning Group for a conference that took place every 5/6 years or so, for a very clearly defined group of people. It was one of those poisoned chalice kind of tasks. Being on the Planning Group was something no-one ever wanted to do;  most people from the main group went to the conference out of duty,  grumbled madly about the whole thing, and it was a three line whip event. It usually was a couple of years in the planning, and the only people who didn’t make life difficult for the Planning Group were the previous group! Who, on the whole, were still traumatised from their experience. That’s if they were still part of the whole group. It was a notorious “finisher off” assignment.

We had trouble from start to finish. I ended up being the only person who remained on the group the whole way through who had any idea of how it was all going to work – and who did any real work towards it. The ones with the “bright ideas” had the ideas, but left the work to me,  others could have done but genuinely couldn’t fit anything else in – they had only been asked to do one task, and were suddenly drafted in for the duration! We had two “bright ideas” people, but one replaced the other, with six months to go, and turned the whole thing upside down. I’d handle the whole thing very differently now, but then I had no choice but to go with the changes and make them work. I think there was only one area of the conference I had no input into, and even then, if the person appointed to see to the music for the services suddenly felt he couldn’t cope with it, I’d be at the piano with little notice.

For the two years prior to this conference, I’d been using it as a marker to myself. “If I can get through this, then it’ll be OK.”  or “Just let me get this finished, then I will implement this decision that has to be implemented.”

Except, it got more and more not OK. A second strand of something was going on alongside this conference planning; 2001 had been the year designated for me to do a test project, which I loved doing but wasn’t convinced would be anything more than a “Let Japes do this and get it out of her system” kind of idea, but I was also using this as a bench mark. “If, when this year is over, nothing changes and I have to go back, then  I will implement this decision to change my life.”

By the morning of Monday 10th September, 2001, when I was sat at a table with a large room plan, allocating rooms at the conference centre, and the only other person of the planning group who’d been prepared to arrive early enough that day to see to this final task, I’d had more than enough. Over the previous six months the conference that had been more or less planned, bar these kinds of details, had changed out of all recognition. I remember looking at the plan and remarking, “You know, the only day that has remained consistent through out all this upheaval has been this Tuesday (11th September), “Our place in the world economy.””

It’s no use asking me now for any other details of what the conference was about, who else spoke, any other themes, but this is clearly fixed in my mind. As is the room allocation task – it was a nightmare! I think, possibly, all those attending knew each other too well. As did the two of us doing the room allocating! Eventually, we did it, decreed we’d done our best,( it was only for the next four nights, for pity’s sake,) grabbed a coffee, and got the plan to the front desk to find the first attendees had arrived – three hours earlier than they’d been told to, and were champing at the bit to get to rooms.

Relieved was the best description of me on that Tuesday. It was all coming together, the only complaints I’d dealt with were about things I could only pass on to the conference centre (why the hot water wasn’t working was their problem, not mine!!), I could sit at the back, on the “naughty” row with my peers, and let most of it just flow on…maybe even get something out of the talks and discussions. nothing could stop it now.

Except, of course, it did. The news broke early afternoon UK time. Things had to change – we couldn’t quite believe that the next thing we had to do was small group discussions* on the topic of “Our place in the world economy”… and we then worked to adapt what we’d planned to allow for response, grieving, prayer, taking in the news… and my own stuff, that had been bubbling away, receded. In comparison to the  enormity of it all, my decision as to whether or not I remained a member of this whole group, whether or not I completely changed the course of my life was not important.

It took me another seven years to pluck up the courage to implement the change, as it became more and more apparent that the things that had bothered me during this conference planning process, and during it, were not just passing annoyances, they were all much, much deeper than that.

At the end of the conference, I was thanked for all my work, and it was acknowledged then that I had done far, far more than should have been asked or expected of me, and everyone should be in no doubt about that. I still have the little diptych I was given then, though not the card, it occasionally reminds me that sometimes, I can say “no” to workloads that are too big, that sometimes, seeing something through to the end is not always the right thing to do, that this was the time in my life when I knew what I should be doing and didn’t do it. That this particular time in my life was the real turning point, not the other significant time four years after this… but the events of 2005 are for another time.

* As well as re-planning, I also spent the afternoon free time slot making sure as many people knew what was going on as possible. I was sending people to the one TV we could see, or to radios. One person I told, one of my close friends in this group, I knew had just woken up from a deep sleep, (he’d not been well recently, and had been very clear he was using free time to sleep, and not be sociable,) and was just nodding his head to keep me happy. “He’s not taken a word of that in!” I thought, “I’ll catch him later and check he’s got it.” Again, I have no idea what we talked about, other than we were all stunned by the sheer co-incidence of the day’s theme, and even more stunned when I commented on the fact it was the one day that hadn’t changed in the whole of the upheavals of the planning. It had been decided not to have Evening Prayer, as planned, in our small groups as we’d finished talking, but in our main meeting room all together, in solidarity with those who had died in their workplace. We then had another whole group plenary after we’d finished praying.

Then, we went to supper… where my friend came and knelt by my chair and said “I owe you a huge, huge apology.” “Why?” asked yours truly. “I thought you’d come up with a creative idea for us to get going in our small group discussions, and had been sent round to tell us this plot outline, I know you’re really good at thinking up good ideas for these kind of things. So, I really didn’t believe you, but thought I’d just play along, since everyone else seemed to be doing so without grumbling .”

“Um, didn’t you realise by the time the discussion got going in your group that this was for real – I knew you’d  not taken in what I’d said and I was planning to come back and ask, but haven’t had time…”

“No, I didn’t believe it until we did Evening Prayer! And even then, I was not sure….” Cue much abject grovelling!!

Disclaimer 1: I do have a vivid imagination, I do have a reputation amongst those who know me in the right context for thinking outside boxes to get results, but never, ever in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed up the events of 9/11.

Disclaimer 2: I could’ve been in the music group at church this morning, but couldn’t cope with singing  a song with a chorus of “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and we are saved.” today. So, I stayed home instead.

Disturbed Equilibrium

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

I have been bad-tempered ever since I returned home yesterday, and it’s only just begun to wear off. I haven’t dared do much more painting or decorating for fear of doing such a bad job that I’d have to re-do it when calmer. For starters, I was deeply annoyed to discover a huge chuck of wallpaper has detached itself from the wall in the most awkward place, but not completely, and had been getting cross with the whole stairwell painting anyway. It’s also got to a really bitty lot of things to do, and ideally I need to gloss the woodwork in the room I’ve just finished painting, move as much stuff as I can into that room, then go mad and do the other three rooms, and stairwell all in one go!

Then, I was philosophically (well, as philosophically as is possible when in the kind of strop I’ve been in) blaming my hormones, and currently just try to ride it out by repeating to myself it’s only a short time… but it’s inconvenient, because if I’m that hormonal, doing heavy work is not a good plan.

But, no, on calmer reflection, I think it’s all really a combination of seeing what damage was done in Birmingham City Centre yesterday, knowing the area where the three young men were killed really well, and a friend who “treated” me to her opinions as to what should now be done and who is to blame (for the rioting/disorder/looting as a whole!). I left her feeling really shaky, and wishing I’d not called round. And additionally, there are some old, old sore spots rubbed the wrong way…left me feeling very un-peaceful. Or rather, it’s torn away the veneer of calm, and exposed exactly what it is that’s been bothering me that I couldn’t or wouldn’t name.

There’s a peace vigil going to be held in the park near to where the young men died. I’ll be going. I’ve deliberately not set foot in that park since moving back to this city. I have few happy memories of the time I lived near there, but not only do I need to do something to mark what an awful week this has been for so many, I need to make my peace with some of my own past in that area, and my own teenage years.

At some point, I also need to go back to at least three churches and make my peace there. For, until I do, I will never settle in another one.

Didn’t that year go by quickly?

It occurred to me, as I was perched on a chair, reaching to paint the ceiling in the tricky little corner of the room (do not, I beg of you, inquire why I’m standing on chairs to do this task when step ladders would be safer.) that it was a Significant Date. This time last year, I was awaiting the arrival of the official paperwork indicating that life really had changed. But, I was so not convinced it was going to get to me with any rapidity, that I nearly threw the blessed envelope which contained the official document in the paper recycling bag, along with the advertising mail it had come wrapped in!

So, today, not only have I acknowledged this significant date, which also happened to be a significant date anyway, (it’s kind of neat and tidy that it’s all on the same date) I have completed another academic year, I have registered the first of my three bestest friends have gone over the numeric border into the next decade. (I have another four years to go….) and plans for the summer are looking good. Work hours are flexible, as long as I complete them before the end of the financial year. Which means I could cut down on travel costs, and bunch days together to make it work getting a travel card, rather than single tickets.

Loads of things have shifted mentally  – for which I am truly grateful.

Church continues to be a hard place to be, but I’m making far more sense of what it is about.

And, now the only thing I need to decide on is in which order the room decorating is going to proceed.

After a lazy evening, and the remains of the team meeting buffet lunch food!



Continuing with the “No Messing About” theme

Since I was on a roll after yesterday’s delightful and successful attempt at meeting new people (something I’ve been almost phobic about for a while now) I decided to grasp the nettle firmly, and take myself off to a new church. For, it  is patently obvious, after 18 months of trying and now dreading Sundays, it just isn’t going to work where I’ve been going. There is no blame or fault attached anywhere, it’s just not right.

So, after careful thought, and consideration, I took myself along to a church I’ve been looking at for a while, as I’ve gone past on the bus. It’s just finished a rebuild, and I was interested to see how it was going to work anyway. (Plain nosy, me!) It’s not going to be fair to make any detailed comment on today, as it was an unusual day anyway, but the gentle, unfussy welcome, without any pressure to do anything other than take part in the simple, well done service was exactly what I needed. It was also the kind of mixed congregation I’ve fitted into well in the past. A glorious muddle of all God’s people. So, I will go again over the next few weeks, and see how it is on some more normal Sundays.

More importantly, I came out of church feeling happy, and not stressed.

Not what I meant to do today…

but, I feel considerably better than I did lying in bed this morning, not wanting to get up, and definitely not wanting to go to church and to the annual meeting.

So, I didn’t.

Which didn’t sit well with me for much of the morning.

However, I decided to go and get me a new cable for connecting my laptop to the router. The one I had still worked, but had a broken thingy, was slipping out really easily, and after a deeply frustrating time yesterday trying to watch an episode of Morse, ( getting adverts every time the cable slipped, the internet went down and ITVPlayer started again,) deemed a new one a necessity, not a luxury!

In wandering around the purveyor of electrical items, I chanced upon the music playing devices. Normally, since I’m still in the late 20th Century in such matters, I’ve not been investigating these items. At the moment moving into the 21st Century, musically speaking, is a far off dream, to be fulfilled after a number of other more essential dreams have been attended to. Anyway I can play CDs on the computer is what I have always reasoned.

But, a little CD playing machine, with FM/AM radio, and an iPod dock, was sitting looking lonely, with a 70% off price tag. Taking it to a very reasonable £19.99… After a little dithering, plus the realisation pay day was coming up, and I was, for once, still reasonably solvent at this end of the month, I succumbed. After, it had all I required, and more. I’m not bothered about DAB radio, I’ve had the use of one, and preferred the sound of FM. And, should my dream get fulfilled sooner, rather than later, I’m prepared!!

It is so nice to be playing my CDs again, and it has restored my soul more than I could have believed.

I will go to church this evening instead!

Get a life..

My New Year’s resolution.

It’s been the strangest few weeks.  I’d spent Christmas/New Year raging against the Whole World, feeling completely isolated, and unable to do anything – talk to anyone, face anyone, write much. I was as tired at the end of the day as at the beginning, though I’d managed to drag myself into action on a couple of fronts, but basically spent the time in a deep fog of  “Why am I bothering ?” and almost total inertia.  [I know – raging and being in a fog and almost total inertia don’t sound as if they should go together, but in Japes’ world, they do!] To the point of worrying myself enough to wonder if a trip to the doctor might not be a  bad idea.

Last Tuesday morning was back to work morning. I’d calmed down enough to be rational in the conversations I needed to have, and had my tattered, but just about workable professional mode wrapped around me.

I found myself completely thrown by the news that morning on the Ship of Fools, I never usually log on before work, so what made me do so is beyond me – other than it gave me a sense of perspective back, along with a resolve I was taking no more crap, I wasn’t the only one who needed this ridiculous way of getting paid sorted.

It took until yesterday to get a definitive answer on the work front. It’s satisfactory for now, but not a long term solution. Satisfactory enough for me to remain in the job for the rest of the academic year. Not satisfactory enough to make me want to remain in this type of work and with a long commute for longer than that! I’ve done the commuting for a year or more longer than I wanted, anyway. It’s too much, both financially and physically. Not only was I worried enough about how I didn’t bounce back during the holidays, as I normally do, but someone who knows me really well, who saw me at the lowest point in the whole process, earlier this week, was also threatening to march me off to the doctors, asked all kinds of awkward questions about whether or not I was eating properly (I am, before you also enquire!) sleeping properly, (um… well… OK…) and in short gave me the kind of lecture I’ve been known to give my students.

Several of whom I had a very memorable chat with this week! Which boiled down to the fact we recognised in the other similar ways of coping with the crap life throws at us. I was explaining I was being the bitch from hell in my private life at the moment, and saving all my niceness for work, as dumping all the nastiness on those I worked with just wasn’t on… but doing the same to my friends wasn’t on either, and so I was isolating myself, and making myself feel worse, and really struggling with how to get myself to break down the isolating barriers.  Well, the floodgates opened, (and they offered to come and beat up anyone who was hassling me… I declined, but was deeply touched by the offer as I  understood the spirit in which it was made!)  and I probably got more real work done with the lads in that hour than in the previous term.

I’m still really, really tired. I love the work I do, but the stress surrounding it is becoming too much. There are glimmers of hope though, and that will do for now.

Beams with pride and satisfaction

For, after a serious attack of sleeplessness, the main mission of the day has been accomplished.

With the aid of the Sale, some Christmas money, and a bit of willingness to be unfussed about the colour I got, (midnight blue for the curious!) I am now the content owner of a new laptop which has what I wanted, and cost less than I’d budgeted.  And, I have set it up all by myself.  Though, I think the change over of internet browser may be happening soon, I’m not liking the one that’s come with the computer (and it’s not IE!).

Now about those 5000 or so words….?