Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Encore une fois

...I am slightly tipsy again.

My excuse this time is the leaving do of another colleague I'm fond of; Amazing Hair Woman. Who is off to spend nine months in Baku organising some kind of massive arts festival.  It's a simply brilliant opportunity for her, but she will be missed.

Am going to try and exercise a bit of self-cntrol, anyway, and not ramble about any of my colleagues.

It's been a busy couple of days; my weekend already feels a long time ago.  I had a very domestic Saturday (cleaning, cooking, sewing, grocery shopping, honestly I'm a bloody paragon of Victorian virtues).  On Sunday I had a further list of useful sensible jobs to do; but it was such a beautiful day that I thought "The hell with this" and instead I went out and walked into Richmond along the Thames path.  I picked blackberries and took photos, and strolled in the sunshine, and when I got into Richmond I got fish and chips, which I ate out of the paper, sitting on the Green.  Then I bought some more groceries in the health food shop, and came home to cook my blackberries.  So I still got a bit of the domesticry crammed in.  But mostly it was a day of slow, peaceful strolling along the river.

It was the kind of perfect autumn day when the sky is clear brilliant blue and the Thames is silver, and it's warm but not too hot, and the leaves are just starting to turn.  The thorn trees were scarlet with haws and the air was full of the sound of robins whistling. 

It was late enough in the season that the berrying was quite thin pickings.  I had to walk slowly, searching with a steady gaze; half switched-off, half-meditation.  I could feel my mind emptying of all my worries and concerns, settling into a state of empty calm, at one with the yellow leaves, the cobwebs and silky heads of old-man's-beard, and the singing birds.  I strolled and gazed, and picked a berry here and there.  By the time I got to Richmond I had almost a pound, but I don't think there'll be any more to be had this year. 

I didn't see any sloes; but I've made damson gin this year (always assuming it turns out okay) so maybe I can manage without sloe gin as well.

But anyway, Amazing Hair Woman has gone the way of the Redhead and La Francaise and The Lovely Paul, on to fresh fields and pastures new, and I am sticking around.  I have work again tomorrow, so I had better stop daydreaming about how nice it was being out in the sunshine and the fresh air on Sunday, and put myself to bed. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

A busy couple of weeks

By gum, I am full of pizza.

Thank the Gods, it's Friday.

It's been a hectic couple of weeks and I am worn out.  I should have been on annual leave right now, and in Greece, for a fortnight; but things have worked out differently in the end and I'm here instead.

I hardly know where to begin.  There are things where I'm not sure how much it's okay for me to say.  I was interviewed for my job, and I've been told verbally how I did, but not officially in writing.  Some of my colleagues are in the same boat and others haven't been told yet, some of them because they've only just been interviewed.  In theory the new structure for our department is formally anounced next week; so I think I should probably do well not to talk about it until then.

The whole business of getting thus far has been horribly drawn-out.  Different departments started their restructure programmes at different times, and some aren't as advanced as ours.  I cannot wait for it all to be over, and I'm sure I am not the only person who feels that way.  I understand the need to do this, I even agree with it; but it's no less exhausting and depressing for that.

Meanwhile, I've had a good week in other ways.  I got some things done at work that I wanted to get done, wrote most of another chapter at home, of something that had got bogged-down, and had a couple of drinks with some colleagues tonight followed by a very self-indulgent pizza supper. The weather has been bright and cheerful too, and the first autumn colour is staring to gild the streets and the gardens, and the Gardens too.  The autumn festival, the Intoxication Season, is excellent, too, with some really good displays and a terrific programme of talks at the weekends.  The autumn theatre season starts next week for me, too, with "Manon" at Covent Garden with the DipGeek.  I am tired-out, but on balance it's been a good week, at least on a personal level (the international situation doesn't bear thinking about, but this is not a socio-political blog).

I think the worst thing that has happened to me was this morning, when I went to a colleague's baby shower and unexpectedly the chap I've been trying not-to-have the crush on walked in.  I was so taken aback I could hardly look at him at first.  Then there came a moment when he was nearby, taking some grapes from a dish, and I wanted to say something sensible and friendly, something that would signal that I just want to be friends; but my eye fell on his hands, as he stood there peacefully picking grapes from the bunch, and my idiotic brain was completely paralysed by the sight.  All I could think was damn-you-have-such-attractive-hands...  Nothing intelligent occured to me at all; nothing that was adult and friendly and devoid of embarrassing overtones.  I am hopeless.

I do accept, rationally, that he isn't interested in me in the way I am in him.  But my irrational hind-brain is rushing about in bearskins howling, it would seem.  Damn it, calm down, you.

Apparently his office is being moved, though; he's going to be in the same building as me soon.  So I will have plenty of opportunity to teach myself to be calm and adult and a good colleague, and not a mad hairy crazy cavewoman.  I vow to do better.  After all, good grief, I don't even know if he's gay or straight or any one of the myriad nuances in between.  It simply won't do to be cavewoman Ims, acting out and jangling my beads and waving my fancy flint hand-axe.  He's a nice man, he deserves better than that; and so do I.  Friendship's the thing.  That fing wot grown-ups do.  You can do this, Ims.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tired and in reflective mood

A while since I wrote; life has been busy and work has been hectic. 

I'm pretty tired today.  I went down to Dorchester and back yesterday, to go to the wedding of two very dear friends in Tolpuddle. 

It was a lovely wedding, and because I was booked on a train home fairly early in the evening I was able to leave before the drinking got too serious or the crowd got too overwhelming.  I even got to have proper conversations with two interesting people (as well as the bride and groom, obviously!), which is quite satisfying for someone who looks at a mass of strangers at a social event and wants to run away. 

It seems that my long-term policy is paying off gradually, over the years; accepting that I am shy and that's my nature, and then finding things I can do, like have a chat to one person instead of trying to socialise with everyone.  I envy the sociable; all sorts of things in life must be easier for them.  But I am what I am and I too have my strengths. 

I remember the glory days of Playcraft and how much I enjoyed get-ins and get-outs, and after-production parties; I had no problem with those crowds, but that was working with people I knew, doing something we all loved, and making whoopie afterwards.  A party with a crowd of people almost none of whom I had ever met before was a different matter entirely.

There was a time I would have ended up backing out of going to my friends' wedding altogether, because of that.  But as I say, I have been working on this for a long time, this business of finding coping strategies for being an introvert.  And it is working; because instead of hating it, I'm genuinely glad I went. 

It was a lovely wedding.  The bride and groom were radiant, and very elegant.  The weather held fine, dry and warm and mostly sunny, the church and the reception venue were both lovely, and the wedding ceremony itself was touching, a nice blend of very traditional and some individual notes.  The flowers and other styled things all looked great.  There was a lot of very pleasant bubbly to drink, and plenty of olives, cherry toms and cheese straws to eat with the drinks.  I had to leave before the sit-down meal started, but I got a Cornish pastie for the train back, so I was okay.  It was nice.

My other big bit of news is that I have an interview on Tuesday for the new role that my current one is metamorphosing into.  The job is actually changing in exactly the way I would have liked it to, if I'd been able to cherry-pick the things I'd like to do more of.  So I do hope that interview goes well!  The restructure at work is slowly beginning to get sorted out, at least in our section.  It's a protracted business, though.  Some departments have only just begun on the consultation stage.  But, as I was trying to explain to another friend a few days ago, it's surely better in the long term for this to get a bit dragged-out, but be done properly, or at least as well as it can be, than for it to be rushed, and possibly bodged, because the people at the top making the decisions are scared of missing deadlines they themselves set.  Whatever happens, in a situation like this, junior people like me are going to feel scared and uncertain.  At least this way we can have some hope that the final result will achieve some useful goals.

In the meantime life and work go on, steadily, and it's good to have plenty to keep busy with.  I've just acquired a nice task, drafting text for a new leaflet and searching out a range of possible illustrations.  Just the kind of thing I love doing.

There's been one piece of really awful news, though.  A colleague from the Jodrell lab, a gifted scientist who was highly respected in his field and much-liked at work, has died very suddenly.  Nigel was a lovely bloke, and I'm so grieved for his poor family.  He used to run our Christmas choir.  It just won't be the same without his enthusiasm at rehearsals, and his very beautiful voice in the final carol service. 

I've seldom met anyone who had such a talent for helping people find the music in themselves and bring it out.  A lot of very musical people are downright snotty about the well-meaning amateur singer with the strong but not-very-good singing voice (i.e. the likes of me).  Nigel was tirelessly encouraging, and never, ever, sniffy; he always found something good to say, even if it was only "You've got all the words right!"
I wish I'd told him how much he helped me feel better about my rather odd voice, simply by helping me try, and not blenching at the initial sound as others have done.  Now I'll never be able to do that.   I'm sad to remember the inner prompting in me that told me not to talk to him because he couldn't possibly be interested in anything I had to say.  What a shitty little inner prompting that was.  Doesn't everyone like to be thanked for their help? 

It's really very stupid, and in a strange way almost selfish, to refuse to thank someone for their kindness or their support, on the grounds that they wouldn't demean themself to pay attention.  It's hiding one's own sense of inadequacy behind an assumption of arrogance on the other person's part; and I don't believe Nigel was ever arrogant, so how stupid and how mean to have behaved as if he was, merely out of cowardice.

I say to myself, wake up, woman!  Life is ephemeral!  It is fragile and very short, and can be cut-off still shorter without any warning.  So befriend those you want to know better, love those that you love, and don't be ashamed.  Be good to yourself and to others, and be kind, in memory of the kindness of those now gone.  Live well and embrace life; embrace all things.  If an inner prompting tells you "Don't!  You mustn't!" about doing anything that is in essence good, then question that inner prompting closely, and be prepared to ignore it, no matter how scary that feels.  Don't shut yourself away inside with your private fear and pain and let them grow until they use up all the oxygen.  Seek happiness; and open the doors, and live in the world. 

I think of the chap I like; of the crush that has now settled to manageable proportions again.  I think of how interesting he is, and how ridiculous it is that having a crush has led me to hide from him and not to seek his friendship, although he's someone well worth knowing.  I want to go to him and say "I'm so sorry if this is embarrassing.  But I wish I could get to know you better.  You're interesting and I like the way your mind works; I appreciate knowing you so much.  I'd like very much to be friends."

But I'm not going to be able to do any such thing!  That's going way beyond thanking someone for their help.  It's just not done to say something that could be so embarrassing to the other party.

So much for that challenge of working on my shyness.  So much for opening the doors and living in the world.  I want to reach out; but I just haven't got the guts.

I'm tired.  Maybe it will seem better in the morning.