Quiet reflection; a bittersweet finish.

•2016/06/18 • Leave a Comment

I have finished University. After an academic year that could be described as residential train wreck and an emotional rollercoaster of love, friendship, lies, back chatting, and clique inner circles; with a workload that would give the most hardened of Personal Assistants a sore head and sleepless nights and deadlines that in hindsight should have been adjusted at the beginning of the year, I, and my course group team have finally made it through 4 years of one of the toughest University degrees next to Architecture and the so-called “BEng’s/MEng’s” of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. The finish line was met not with a bang, but with a whimper. Indeed everyone in the course group I happen upon after the final coursework hand in were either sat in quiet reflection as to what had been achieved or may have been missed out, or were in a hushed conversion with their immediate coursework teams – the cheap drinks at the Student Union providing some margin of victory. Collectively in our hearts and minds we had succeeded.

The house this year will easily be the low point of the year. It seemed like a good idea at the time to move in with friends who I had met through the radio, and collectively I thought, yes, this could easily work out. Unfortunately with last minute announcements of residents announcing that they are in fact staying, after causing me headaches on the radio frontier, there came the inevitable stat of an avalanche of problems and fallouts throughout the year. I suppose one lesson learnt from this is judging people on their face-value intelligence and objectives – there is very likely an ulterior motive behind that “ditsy-blonde” approach to life. I dare say if it wasn’t for that, and consequently the back chatting I discovered (and the berating received about it when calling the perpetrators out), I may have evaded much of the stress in life over the past 9 months. Once the end of year ball had passed, there was no further reason to stay. As with the classic Bond-esque ejector seat button, or the pilot bailing out on a fighter jet before a complete loss – I got out, and quickly. Certainly the quickest of all University house exits. Within 72 hours I went from happily settled and rested to not existing at that particular address. As with a fast move such as that, things were left behind. Most of my cutlery and crockery were a total loss, consumed into the communal sharing of the house kitchen. I will miss my German-made can opener above all else. That pinnacle of vorsprung-durch-technik could open a safe door if necessary.

Bambi has remained, throughout, a safety blanket in all weathers and scenarios. Unflinching on his love and support for me, we managed to get out of University, together, mostly unscathed. Since March we took on a more functional relationship over a spontaneous, fluid approach – meeting when we could between deadlines and solid days of coursework and revision commitments. I owe him a lot for the smiles and comfort he provided me almost every day through the last few months at University – without him life would have been very tough indeed. After exams and projects were complete and handed in, we took a series of trips out into the surrounding countryside and dined out for sake of each other’s (and no one else’s) company. While expensive, it was nice just to be around each other again. Returning home, he stayed on with me for a few days, exploring the countryside and nearby woodlands and seaside towns. I was nice to see things I’ve lived around for years, through his perspective, and what he saw in them. A break from tradition with partners historically, I didn’t purchase a painting from my favourite artist to give to him. I’m hoping on his next visit, this will be remedied. It’s an odd tradition, but one I would like to maintain. A signature step, if you will, of something serious and long-term in the making. Indeed, at 9 months the forecast into the future is now mid-March 2017 – his dissertation, and my settling into full time work and training for another marathon. It seems too far away, though with the past 9 months disappearing by like sand through my fingers, this will be a fleeting moment into the figurative “tomorrow”. There are now whispers and suggestions of moving in together come the end of his tenure at University, talk of London settlement, possibly looking at Norway together as the next great life journey. These are dreams, and I don’t think it’s unhealthy to actively explore these sorts of objectives in life, as long as the other half is willing. I hope that, now with University truly finished for me, and a higher-second secured under my belt, that our relationship will become even more colourful, momentous, and exciting.

The Mongol Rally looms. In under a month the longest journey I’ve ever undertaken gets underway, in a small silver ‘rallyfied’ car, with 2 other hardened post-graduates. The visa are… sort of complete, the car is, sort of prepared, and the route half-finished. So far this 45-day, 12’500 mile West-East tour of Europe and Asia looks to be a classic case of eye-balling it last minute. More detail on this in the next post.

I love that I’m in love (written March 2016).

•2016/06/17 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since my last blog post, probably too long a time to truly reflect what’s been happening. What has happened in life however, has been wonderful, with 1 exception.

“Bambi” and I have been together for 7 months now. He has become the friend of my friends, a welcome guest to my house whenever he wishes, my support when I’ve had a bad day/week. It almost feels like that so called honeymoon period hasn’t actually finished yet. Every week there’s something to do together, and on the day of our anniversary every month a dinner, picnic, fun event is lined up to celebrate. The most significant trait I find with him? There is no judgement made of me, not a hint of being scored up by my actions. He takes me as “me”, a situation I’ve never really found myself in for a relationship, and I feel all the better for it. As the months progressed we’ve now discussed what lies ahead, that which is looming ahead is notably the Mongol Rally attempt I undertake for 2 months, then a relocation back to the company headquarters shortly after. We’ve agreed it’ll be tough, on a relationship that’s seen us meeting almost every day since we met, but there’s enough of a bond to hold us together through the week without any doubt. Outside of University he happens to live not too far away from my workplace, and likewise I can travel both to University and to his house, whichever is most convenient for that given week. We’ll make it work, that I am certain. Currently Bambi is away for the Easter break, the longest time we’ve been apart – 3 weeks seems like an eternity. I intend to surprise him when he returns, hopping off the train to be greeted with a bouquet of roses and a long meaningful hug.

Sadly inter-house relationships have soured; an argument transpiring between a cliquey group of inner-circle radio-ites and myself over their laisse-faire attitudes towards my personal property lead to an atmosphere you could cut with a knife. I have tried to make amends, and start over but I feel the damage has been done. Time to knuckle down and complete what I came here to do – a degree.

2015 – a year in review

•2015/12/30 • Leave a Comment

I get the feeling each day that goes by, that this year at University will be the most defining for me, regardless of academic achievement, friends, memories of dragging myself up and down hills utterly intoxicated at 4 in the morning. I hypothesise; it will most likely result in someone with more regrets, more understanding of the world around them, humbled by experiences, mourning losses then inescapable.

2015 has been consequential. It has defined completely where my life choices will take me in 2016. Fate it seems, especially for the following year, will be defined; all but academically at least. My year in review, such as it’s been.

Marathon preparation was the theme of the New Year. Running and cycling though the week to and from work, and on the weekends through the scenic valleys and hills that the Home Counties provide in great quantity. I tried very hard to attain some form of recognition through my second half of placement; working late in the evening, and thinking of ways to improve the business around what I observed in my own, and other people’s work habits. It has, for the most part, worked. Though I’m not sure the social side my company demands has been all that cohesive. Did I try hard enough? Is that even an argument to make at 29? One thing I am seeing more and more of is the statement, “You’re overthinking it”. Maybe that is the case here, too. Since the marathon, as detailed in Touching the Stars, I’ve tried to maintain some level of fitness. Long distance biking, running, even swimming a couple of times. Sadly and inevitably with the workload demanded of me at University, the fitness regime has gone out of the windows of late. While the diet remains healthy, I’m hoping that I can kick this back in for the second semester, and have a channel for stress and frustrations. That experience was something I hope to repeat again one day – pencilled heavily on 2017. Next year of course has challenges of a very different sort, driving half way across the world, and flying the rest.

One thing I now find… puzzling about anything romantic pre-September, is how utterly fickle people of a certain area can be. Literally the smallest misplacement of opinion or an imaginary like/dislike list that doesn’t result in a 99.9% match results in complete disbandment of even meeting over a cup of coffee. Yet, 150 miles south-west, I cannot move for guys. Now, finally, it would appear I’ve made a catch worth keeping. In 4 years young I described “Bambi” and his growing confidence. Early predications seemed correct, and he grows more confident about himself every day. I like him for his whit, his unbridled ability to recall quotations and I dare say, entire scripts. His ever polite and caring persona. While all of this paints something quite rosy, above all I have to control myself. I have seen 2 relationships like this before, where I am very much the one driving and carrying a less-confident, shy partner along for the journey. Both have ended in either disaster or abruptly, due by and large to my terrible snapping, determination to reach a goal. My father’s legacy, something that I must gain control of before I lose any more people to it.

These later months have found a high demand for social ability and a work-University balance that has become very pressured, but manageable. I’m really grateful for the amazing offer giving to me by the company, both in continued employment, and opportunities post-graduation. What does continue to hamper performance however, is the company’s communication weaknesses. It seems to be something they get right only sometimes. Case and point, a recent review video I was asked to take part in by my manager. Great, as far as I was concerned, from historical attempts in launching a video online from my department, it was due time we had another try. I spent a weekend preparing a script, watching and reading through other reviews for key points to detail, and making unique points based on use cases for customers – that is, who would benefit most from this particular device. Monday quickly followed, as did a few hasty phone calls to those managing the video shoot, to ensure it was still on, and I was to make an early departure from home to reach the technology park we were to film in. Alas, miscommunication was the theme of the day once again. Somehow, between my manager and the product specialists, Marketing and myself, someone missed the key point that someone had already been penned for the role of reviewer. I really wish there was a better way of getting this sort of communication breakdown eradicated. As rare a-happening as it is, it’s still troublesome when it does happen.

University will be a thick-set and heartless animal until February; this semester has been case and point for that so far with in class tests all round, deadline after deadline. I considered myself used to this heavy set workload for the final year, but honestly I don’t think anyone prepared themselves for the semester shake up being experienced. I made one of my biggest mistakes this year – in derailing my friendship with The Cornishman. Misinterpretation of agreements on my part, plus a lot of held-back opinion and blunt fact on his side did for me what the Usual Suspects’’ Keyser Söze did for Agent Kujan – startling realisation. In my case, of how I interpret life’s goals and the battle I fight to get there. All it seems, the wrong way. I’ve got the distinct impression this is how my father was feeling from time to time. Deep regret for things he simply had to accept.

I hope I can turn things around come the New Year but honestly, part of me is looking toward the brief time I have left at University, wondering if it’s actually worth it. I feel desperately empty inside, realising a lot of the rougher events in my life it seems I’ve brought upon myself.

 

4 years young and renewed romance.

•2015/10/16 • Leave a Comment

Honestly I don’t know how it happens sometimes. Making promises to one’s self at times seems ridiculous, especially when they’re broken within measurable hours of writing them down with self-assurance and approval, “Yes this sounds like a strong position to take, well done you.”. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m back in University City for that fateful final push into assignments, part time career and Mongol Rally organisation, in roughly that order of priority. Thus far life has been colourful back in the south west. Moving was not without its challenges; getting 1 assortment of gear and clothes back home, to then be reorganised and bolstered up with kitchen utensils and more IT equipment before setting off to my new home, just off campus in the renowned student “quarter”. The house is lovely and I use that term with shared accommodation in the most reserved sense – the housemates have set a precedent of tidiness and order. A tight ship is being run and that’s how I prefer it; a clean kitchen, orderly fridge, house nights out or in, it’s always good fun. That is, until your black sheep housemate goes for the literal interpretation of putting foot-in-mouth. Yes, during 1 fateful evening of partying and visiting the local and somewhat infamous gay bar, upon meeting a new star in my night sky, said housemate after far too much drink and self-righteousness decided to play the homophobic card and not only run with it, but try to make an example of me in front of the rest of the group. This didn’t last long – after a swift slap to the face, for which I received one in return, the group ejected him from the bar, sending him hope with a guilt-ridden conscience.

All was not lost in this escapade of closeted insecurities, however. “Bambi” entered my life and has so far, albeit shy and slightly unsure of himself in certain social environments, been a wonderful companion. Twice-weekly meet ups, sleepovers abound, he’s really quite charming, once I broke through the ice and built up his trust. Not to sound clinical of course… I guess I’ve become desensitised to the smaller heart-string tugs in early romance. It almost feels like I’ve found a sense of confidence through literal repetition of early dating stages. I like where it’s going, but I do wish for a more fulfilling connection with him sometimes. This is certainly the slower game, one I’ve not played for a while.

Work seems more distant every day. While I deliver the goods as best I can remotely, the feeling of being out on a limb is ever-present. The last 2 weeks especially – where the discovery of work declining the careers fairs at University (a major part of my being able to work from here) lead me to ask some pretty morbid questions as to how much they actually care. I’ve taken it on myself to get this organised, requesting (with thus far no response) for support with overnight accommodation from my team, and a courier delivery of the display stands. I know I can make it work, but there’s precious little time. I’m going to need hands on deck and soon.

The Mongol rally looms in the distance. Nine months remain until a group of wised up keyboard jockeys including myself, hit the road for 11’230 miles.

Trust.

•2015/08/29 • Leave a Comment

So the placement is over. It was possibly one of the most emotional “departures” I’ve had, and I say that as a turn of phrase because I’m not really leaving – just working from long distance and infrequently. Gifts both in giving to the team as a “thanks for babysitting this lanky guy for a whole year”, and quite by surprise in receiving as “come back soon” mementos, all were received very well indeed. I will miss the buzz of the office. The goings-on, the pranks, the free breakfast and vendor lunches. Most of all I will miss the people I have worked with tirelessly over the past year pushing ahead with their wishes for the department and finally greenlighting a support system they had been asking for years. Now, budgeted in for this financial year, and quite the bright developer taking lead on it, this will finally become a reality. Now my role takes on a faster, progressive pace with almost a sense of outreach. Working remotely on more or less the same tasks, but with the included challenge of being 100 miles away, by myself, while pushing for recruitment to the about-to-be post graduates and prospective placement students. I just need to make sure that this final year at university goes smoothly, and without a risk of retakes or delays. Plans are already in the place that could really do without any hitches on the way.

Being back at home was relaxing and quiet – made quieter still by the complete lack of useable Internet. It was akin to being in IT Purgatory. I had an Edge network signal on my phone, allowing for the carrier-pigeon equivalent of sending and receiving emails and messages, but that was it. Online videos involved going to a neighbour’s house and spooling them up to watch at home. After a dozen separate call outs to the Britische Telefonregler Oberkommando (BT Openreach), finally 2 of the 3 suspected faults were located and repaired. 1 remains at large, on a wire that stretches 2 miles across open spaces and hedgerows to the exchange. Even so, in the meantime it was great to help my mother out with the various larger tasks at the family home that she couldn’t manage by herself, all the while unpacking and repacking from a bedsit-work-commute configuration, to a home-from-home university kit out. In short, more IT kit and an extra desk for said IT kit. Moving luggage from point A to point B this time has involved a different turn – it worked out considerably cheaper to return the van I had hired back to point A, then pay for a first class train ticket to return to B, fuel and insurance included. Complementary sandwiches, tea and coffee on top. Something is definitely not quite right from a consumer standpoint there, save for a simple case of convenience.

At dusk last night I landed in the new shared house, lead, if you will, by my closest friend. Three hours later and a time encroaching midnight, I had what resembled a liveable configuration of the room with most boxes unpacked – a decidedly progressive record compared to the last few deployments, but then I haven’t had to drag the contents of a kitchen along this time. Sadly 2 losses were recorded in this run – my vitamin and joint tablets were left tidied away at home and my workstation suffered 1 too many bumps on the road down and failed to boot upon unpacking. The former could be easily resolved, as suggested by my innocently-thinking mother by “transferring the pills into clear some of the clear bags we have in the kitchen, and then I can post them to you in a jiffy-pack”. Only a matter of time, I fear, before a mug shot of a perplexed and frightfully independent old dear appears on TV screens across the nation. The latter involves a dive into that which I miss most in modern computing, the hardware troubleshooting. Patience will take precedence; I need this workstation to outlast my computing degree, after which, and 4 years since its construction, I’d be more than happy to retire it in favour of something with a little more kick. I digress – the point at hand being the shared house. Much to my dissatisfaction, upon entering the house there stood 1 person I simply didn’t wish to see – the now “manager-superior” of the radio. Glances and a nod of her existence were exchanged as I made quick to direct the IT kit straight to my room instead of a warm and happy welcome in the galley kitchen. It turns out, as I found this morning not only is she over rather regularly, she’s staying over until such time as she can find another house to live in. Great. The one person I’m willing to go to the ends of the earth to inflict complaints through oversight committees and management teams within the student union, sleeps soundly in the same house as me. “A deliberate ploy by close friend?” I asked myself. He has been advising strongly against any official routes for complaint or procedure. Is my independent voice strong enough to hold out in this regard? Or, as seen many a time with friends and in myself, I’ll bail out with a shrug of mild apathy. It will cause pain, more than it has already, but honestly, people should know how much pain and stress they inflict on people. It’s a defining sense of accomplishment and justice, in the hope they will admit fault and at the very least apologise.

So here we are, on the raggedy edge about to embark on the 4th, and final year of a computing degree that as thus far, changed me for the better.  If any action happens in the next 9 months on a side of social or romance, it won’t be coming from me. Too many things to get done.

Is the word “hate” too strong?

•2015/08/09 • Leave a Comment

Well that was short lived. Maybe I even jinxed myself comparing The Affectionist to my father. While there was something of a mutual relationship between towards the end of his life, my father made sure I knew punishment was swift, and I was to be put down at almost every opportunity, much like he was by my grandfather. So it was with The Affectionist, but to a degree of immaturity and engrained anger instead of reasoning. Not a week after spending the day with each other, in came the texts, thick and fast about how he didn’t want this, needing to spend time alone and preferring the solitude over a relationship. I had noticed at this point he had made the acquaintance of a younger lad on Facebook, and while instinct was twitching, I once again, ignored it. “I should be enough for him…everything’s going to be fine” blah blah blah… the inner voice is sometimes betrayal to itself. So it was, after decided that, no I won’t be hitching along with the “let’s just be friends” routine, and asking for the money he owed me (and the MiFi dongle I had let him use), I would find myself heartbroken and somewhat let down. Piling layers of pain on only came in greater succession when the photos came through on the various social networks of The Affectionist and his rebound attraction not 2 weeks later. I ask myself if there was likely any attraction these in the first place. Was I just a foothold for someone clearly more attractive and agile? I suppose the answer will lie in how long they’re together. I suppose for point of reference and my own sanity, I’ll keep track of what happens.

This is the third time this has happened to me now. When I was straight, my longest relationship was brought to an abrupt close even after pouring in additional hours and making every effort to improve how she felt about the relationship and prospects. Even then, she met someone all too conveniently close to the end, married a couple of years later and now has 2 children. My run in early last year with a man seemingly without morals (intertwined with his ex-fiancé in bed, the night we were to go out for dinner). Now this – a young guy who I hoped would be the answer to my ongoing dismay and loneliness. Do I attract this sort? Furthermore, do I attract them, then find my gullible self being dragged around by my feelings? All the while a friendship that’s built up since my first placement in Bristol has grown and developed, possibly more so than I’ve realised; I find myself pulled in another direction all over again. All I want is someone to cuddle into on those lonely nights, to wake up to in the morning and feel loved by. To share my life and ideologies with and if I can, help them along in any way I can. Is it too much to ask? Am I to find myself at 50…55, like my father, destined to a late family unit or no likelihood of children at all? I’m 30 now, my peers are marrying or with children, some of them in droves. This boat is well and truly leaving port, and I haven’t even booked cabin tickets, let alone pack a bag.

On a slightly brighter, but as-emotional side, 2 weeks are left between one contract and the next, and the migration from IT-valley back to the south-west and the boarders of what can be defined as “connected civilisation”, with a university bolted on the side. Triggered from the above and emotional heart-strings being all over the place, I needed to instil some sense of happiness and gratitude in my life, no matter where that was. So a sizable sum of money later and plan hatched I took delivery of my work colleague’s thank-you presents over the past week. As the department is split north-south, each office got its own gift. For the south, coffee-game is pretty weak. The machine at work has seen more than ample a service-mileage, and doesn’t exactly create the nicest of brews. I bought them a starter kit, of sorts, to allow for some good coffee making and a whole set of syrups, either to share with all, or to use within the department. Not for everyone, sure, but thoughtful enough. For the north, extras and goodies in office are abound, but lacking is a good lunch trip as a team, or with a supplier (commonplace in the south). For them I bought an open gift certificate to a fancy-to-do restaurant, highly rated in the area. Enough should the maths work out, at roughly 2 lunches for 5 people. Too much? I don’t think so. I’m humbled by what the company had offered and provided for me, it’s only right I return the gesture to those I have worked closest to.

Something inside of me feels broken, and can’t help but feel it’s too far gone to repair.

 

 

1 season of wait and preparation

•2015/06/07 • Leave a Comment

May has brought on many challenges, emotional and practical. With them the prospect that yes -University is fast approaching. 90 working days remain until all is packed up and moved 150 miles way back West. It’s still 90 days, however. A lot can, and is happening.

So with a skip in my step, May produced one of the most detailed system proposals I’ve ever made in my working life. and 18-page report, 12 dataflow diagrams, 6 spreadsheets detailing attributes, 10 email templates and a very conservative Total Cost of Ownership report (not wishing to rock the boat, or flat out lie). Everything was painstakingly pushed through my department so make sure it all made sense, and nothing glaring had been left to hypotheticals. My team grew weary every time these vast emails with 6-8 attachments were seemingly forced upon them and a great and many apologies and humble appreciations were detailed with every one sent. Still the feedback and ideas came in; the report was revised and added to. So finally, after 4 weeks of anxious writing and milestone prediction, I submitted a completed report with the nod of management and the push ahead to the Internal Development team. Not to bore further, but it’s been a relief that this may well be on the way at long last. A system that has been asked for through time and memorial in the department, with naysayers when I initially pushed forward with the idea nearly a year ago, at long last it has been budgeted for, and written into the folds of the company’s storybooks. Legacy. Legacy is difference between someone who wades through a fast flowing river, and someone who builds a bridge across that river. I’m in the business of building bridges. There is more to do, lots more both with this proposal and with other matters of a more media-related nature. I look forward to each and every day.

The Affectionist and I went through something of a reality check in May. 3 months in and the daunting task of limited communication was very apparent. His new job involves a very disconnected world (deliberately one would argue), and very long hours playing guardian to under-16s at a multi-activity centre just off the south coast. He has tried hard to get by, but it’s apparent that income is balanced against a dauntingly equal expenditure. Coupled with an unfortunate case of dodgy technology we had very little luck over the first few weeks of the month keeping in touch. So it was with the Lost Scot I unleashed a backup plan that, while unsuccessful in deployment last time, actually pulled through for The Affectionist. Taking a good look at my own finances and landing a sizable bonus through May, I decided right away to make the jump once again. “MiFi” or Mobile Broadband is no new concept – having a 3G connection to share across 5 devices, with a router no larger than a pebble on a beach is something tried and test for the past 5 years. So it was I made some quick research into signal coverage where he worked, and likely to be based. All signs pointed to a reliable provider I’d used before. Within a week, the modem and package arrived, set up and sent straight to him. He was very grateful to say the least. I dare say he’s not sure how to express gratitude of any given breadth because of his background. I know deep down inside he loves it. He reminds me in some ways of my father, while quietly expressive of polite thanks, would keep his true feelings to himself. We intend to see each other at the end of this month for a weekend, and his checking with me on the cost of staying on the camp with him (£15 per night) just makes me smile. It’s scale of appreciating value, and I suppose in some ways his appreciation of how to value money has given me a clearer sense of keeping track of the smaller expenses. Even with the draconian budgeting projection I keep.

I know these early unquestioned and supporting moves are vital. They show that regardless of distance and challenge, I care and yearn for his company. Material goods? Yes, in some ways they are. However, within certain material goods (like internet-capable pebbles) there is the ability to allow for sentiment and feeling in communication.