31 March 2005

No Work, Nico Go Sleep Now

How tired am I? well imagine three stressful job interviews, hiking pretty much 10km around the city (and it was raining on and off), six hours on the train, and not getting home until nine pm. And after all that yesterday, I still managed to rock up to the office on time at 8:30 this morning.

Ugh. I hope it was worth it.

I had a feeling, though, that yesterday was going to be trouble. I wore my rose quartz earrings for good luck, but the first hint came when I arrived at Broadmeadow station to discover the train packed with seniors travelling to the Show...and Cityrail in its infinite wisdom ran a four car train. Needless to say it was a very unpleasant journey, people standing from Wyong, and we arrived late. So off I run to find my first appointment.

The interviews were all pretty much the same, just far more intimidating than anything you'd run into in Newcastle (enormous office lobbies, directories, people in the lifts staring at me for looking a bit scruffy, receptionists acting like I was about to launch a chemical attack rather than trying to announce I was there to see a manager). I answered inane questions, did three sets of more-or-less identical assessments and tried not to scream with boredom. I have a few problems with interviews; a frequent remark I get is that I don't look very relaxed. This causes me to worry about looking relaxed, which makes me even more self-concious, until I end up sitting facing the interviewer looking like I'm planning to take out a hit on them.

In between the interviews, though...that's the real problem. See, I find being in the CBD of Sydney an overwhelming experience as it is, never mind the added pressure of business meetings. The solid walls of people heading down the street, either sweeping you along in their direction, or forcing you the other way...the noise...couple this with having to stand at a counter to eat lunch because you're in a hurry, racing from place to place worried about being lost (why can't they put numbers on office buildings?) and/or late, nowhere even to sit quickly and have a cigarette, knowing you're not going to bump into a friendly face on the street, because there aren't any...Well, I've described this to a few people and they all say, "Do you really want to move to Sydney?"
The answer, I know now is "No, I don't. I want to say here. I'm happy here. I know how things work."
But I don't have a choice. I just can't find the kind of work I want in Newcastle. So I have to move. (Better get that Prozac script filled).

As you can probably guess, I didn't get any shopping done. I did manage to get to Krispy Kreme, after my last interview. I bought a dozen, then headed for home. I'll just say this: Have you ever tried to get a box of donuts on the train from Wynyard to Central at 5:30pm without them getting crushed?

Finally though I made it back, with donuts for company (HINT: don't eat a lemon-filled donut in any public place, unless you have a napkin or wet-wipe. They make a MESS), although the Newcastle train was endlessly delayed all the way home.

Home...this is home...let me stay here...

23 March 2005

My Assets Are Frozen

Long wet busy days. Long cold nights. It's hard to think of much else but the weather when it's this awful.

Work continues to be as hectic as possible. All the whining, complaints, difficult demands and phone calls not returned...and that's just me! You ought to see what the customers get up to.

Actually, that's not really true, at least about the unreturned calls. I cannot understand people who don't reply to messages: What makes someone listen to or read a phone message and think "Oh, I'll ignore that"? I probably leave about 30-40 messages a day for work...and at this time of year, for our company, they're all urgent. And yet, maybe five people would respond. Well, I have good manners. whether it's personal or a business call, I return calls as soon as I get the message.

No, I stand by the work philosophy: "Go the extra mile...it'll make your boss look like an incompetent slacker." No, it's not my boss I have to worry about. It's one of the consultants here, who seems utterly unable to handle the work, and dumps everything on me. She's a nice enough person, and not dumb...just completely disoragnised and always needing everyone's help. Mainly mine. Mostly this involves me handling customer accounts for her to complete, but she never returns calls, keeps appointments or follows through queries, just dumps it all back on my desk, day after day. Even though she's paid three times what I am to do this often complicated work. Look, it's so bad that last night I had a nightmare, that she was piling papers on my desk, stacks of files that reached the ceiling, and no matter how fast I worked, the stacks kept piling up...

I have a lot of nightmares lately, brief ones. What happens is this: I fall asleep easily at first, but then about 2am start waking, worried about work, and sleep in fitful bursts interspersed by nightmares. They're not monsters-and-death nightmares, but all-too-realistic bad dreams, attacking all that my subconcious fears most. Eventually, about 6am, I get back to sleep. But then...well, Xander sleeps at the foot of my bed, because I toss and turn. Then at 6:50am, the clock radio wakes him, and he runs up the bed and I feel a warm, furry presence snuggle into my arms, purring...who wants to get up? And it's still dark then.

Even so, I drag myself into the kitchen, put the kettle on, open the curtains as the sun rises, and leave the night terrors behind. Another day has begun, just like any other, as I prepare to return to those damned files.

18 March 2005

Draw A Breath, Close Your Eyes And Think Of Me In Silence

THE CEO is visiting today, so I have the office (and the internet) more or less to myself. I'm not important enough to go the meetings with the CEO. I really am the appendix of this company; small, useless and easily removed (never mind that I work as hard as anyone else). I found out that my contract will be terminated alot sooner than originally thought, so it looks like I've got a weekend of heavy job-hunting ahead of me. Which, ironically, puts paid to thoughts of going to Sydney.

Oh well.

With nothing worthwhile to say, here's a list:

  • I had to put flea powder on Xander this week. He looked so funny with white patches on his fur. It actually smelt nice, and seems to have done the trick
  • Having orange hair will get you attention, for all the wrong reasons
  • Everyone at work treats me like a child, so I live up to being an enfante terrible
  • Tuesday morning was fun
  • I'm on a smoked-cheddar addiction right now (no not this minute)
  • Every week on Neighbours is described as "unmissable". So if you miss a week, are you not allowed to watch it again?
  • I would really like to leave the office to go for a pedicure
  • I hate it when you hit caps lock without noticing, then have to go back and re-type everything you've done
  • Rex is ageing so much better than I am (i.e. not at all)
  • Shop assistants hate me and I don't know why
  • Every time I fall in love with a product, it gets taken off the market
  • Every time I establish a chain of thought, I cut straight to the pub
  • "Strumpet" is my favourite word
  • St Patricks day is my second least favourite "day"
  • Melbourne Cup, though, tops the list
  • When I read blogs, I love seeing what people said in their first ever post
  • There are too many birds in my yard
  • The back of Xander's neck is my favourite smell
  • I'm entertained by writing mindless lists
  • I hope you like reading them

11 March 2005

When Push Comes To Shove


"Well it ain't my baby leaving me that's left me in the pits,
It's trivial insignificant things that are giving me the shits."
(Ask a Late Show fan for a rendition)

Yep. All the true disasters in life, I can take in my stride. It's the trifles that get me down. Lately there's been a fair amount of not-so-great, but not-truly horrible stuff going on. I won't go into details, but yesterday, it was capped off when the server crashed and I lost a bunch of amendments to customer files, that constituted the bulk of my work over the last few weeks.

So, all the upset and anger I was feeling about everything else, poured out over the loss of my work. I had a bit of a cry. I whinged on forums. I got home last night and just let myself lose it for awhile, then I felt better.

You see, I'm so sick of my life right now. I'm sick of my job, sick of my house, sick of my home suburb, sick of being cut off from everyone, sick of loneliness. I've stayed in Newcastle for so long but now I have had enough; I want to move to Sydney right now. But my contract has been extended until mid-April, so I am stuck here. All dressed up and no place to go…what is the point of having madly-coloured hair (the photo below really doesn’t do it justice…it’s so bright it almost glows) if no one out of the office gets to see it?

And I'm really sick of the weekends, I mean I have actually grown to hate them. You may boggle at this, but think about it: I have no one to talk to in my house; it takes most of Saturday just to get the washing, cleaning and shopping for the week done, so I don't have time to go to Sydney; and if I do get out, so what? I'm still in Newcastle (did I mention that I'm sick of it?) I must admit, I spend most of my weekends, the days at least, in tears. At least going to work, I have things to do, people to talk to...and free fresh fruit and coffee. Although, in an office, the weekend is built up as the pinnacle of life. All day Monday..."So, how was your weekend?" All day Friday..."Doing anything for the weekend?" I’ve started to lie so I don’t sound pathetic.

Apparently our new CEO is visiting the office next week. Which means I'm going to have to dye my hair back to a more natural colour (actually, I'll probably be sent to Utility Room B to collect a mountain bike). I have never seen the new CEO, but at a wild guess, I'm figuring he will be a tall Caucasian in late middle age, with silver hair.

08 March 2005

The Plot Thickens!

Late Sunday night, the office was broken into again...and this time they actually got in, smashing 3 heavy steel bolts on the door (a 2ft long pair of blot-cutters was found outside). So, you'd think that they were pretty keen to get in, but for what?
They didn't take the flat-screen TV and DVD player from the chillout room. The didn't take any of the desk-top computers or anything else on the desks. They didn't even take the cashbox from the chips and sweets for sale for charity. Nothing was touched. Except, they broke into the boss's office and stole only the laptop in there (also, not touching valuable things on the desk).

Very strange, or is it just me? (No, it's just me who's very strange).

Anyway, this caused major disruption...first the police had to dust for prints (again) then we had to get people in to replace the back door. There were five of them, and they must have been former council workers, because they took all day to fix the door, taking it in turns to work whilst the other four stood around and and watched.

It is weird lately, how the days seem to go by so slowly but the weeks all drift into one another and I don't know where the time has gone. I've only got three weeks left here, but I'm yet to make any firm plans. Oh well what's new? We do have some fun in the office...everyone is under the same pressure and we all swap stories. A continuing source of amusement to me is when I call a business, give my name and company name and ask to speak to a particular person and am asked "What is it regarding?"

Now, from my company name it's blindly obvious what the call is regarding. What do they think I am calling from my company about? "Can I speak to Mr Jones-Smith? I want to be his monkey of love."

But more thickens than the plot...Namely, my waist.

As regular readers may remember, my two most important NY resolutions were cut down on drinking, and gain weight. I have succeeded admirably on both. I no longer feel any urge to drink during the week...and have gained plenty of weight.

The thing was, towards the end of last year, I was drinking every single evening. Not just one or two either. Well aside from the problems you'd expect that to cause, I completely lost any appetite. Every time I tried to eat, nothing had any flavour and I'd gag; two small mouthfulls of anything was too much, and only ate a tiny bit each day when I felt particularly faint. Now, of course, no one can live like that. I knew I had to stop before I crossed the last threshold...drinking during the day. I could see that surely that would kill me, if only by starvation (believe me. I could feel deep inside me something slipping away..almost like the life force leaving. And I was so, so thin).

So, I stopped my nightly drinking on January 1. It was very hard at first. But that's not the story I want to tell. The point of this is not how I stopped drinking, but how I started eating. It happened slowly at first...after a few days I began to feel a little hungry, and also I would have jelly beans watching TV at night, to take my mind of the glass of wine that wasn't there any more. But then well, it was all on. Remember the episode of Red Dwarf, "Bodyswap" when Rimmer could eat food for the first time in 3,000,003 years, and gorged himself? That's me. All of a sudden...food has taste! I'm hungry! I've always loved to cook, and after so long with food and eating being merely an irritation in my life, it's like I'm discovering the principle of food for the first time.

And do I eat. I eat three big meals a day, plus endless snacks. I cook elaborate gourmet dishes and snarf every bite. I delight in trips to the bakery and all those fresh pastries. I can't tear myself away from the deli counter till I've bought some of everything. A new pizza variety can have me weeping with delightful anticipation.

So I should have seen it coming...but it was still a bit of a shock to climb onto a scales and realise I've gained 10kg so far this year! I'm still thin though...I've stacked every last gram on my stomach! It's quite a potbelly now. I don't care about getting fat though. This is fun...I might just gorge myself to death.

04 March 2005

Curiouser and Curiouser

Last night, in the deepest darkest hours of the morning, we were treated to one of the most powerful thunderstorms anyone can remember in years. I got very little sleep, not just from the noise, but from having a terrified cat bouncing around on my face (wussy Mummy's boy).

So I wasn't at my perkiest this morning, although my mood was much improved by the fact that, being Show Day Holiday, the bus was nearly empty and there was little traffic, making for a smooth commute. (Side note: one of the women in the office thought we should get the day off today, as all Government employees in the Newcastle Council area are meant to get today off on leave. I wondered if, as our parent company is 51% government owned, could we get 51% of the day off?!?)

Well, arriving at work, we discovered that someone had tried to break into the office overnight...no doubt prompted by the fact that the power was off from 1am to 7am, hence the alarm system was disabled. Whoever it was, they didn't get very far, due to the fact that the windows are heavily barred. They jimmied open the rear windows and cut away the vertical blinds, but couldn't get in. The police surmised that whoever it was, they were hoping to slide an arm between the bars and take a laptop off a desk under the window.

That means, whoever tried to break in, knew the layout of the office and what is kept on desks (although employees are forbidden on pain of death to leave their laptops in the office overnight).

And here's the thing...the cleaners didn't come last night.

Well I bet you can see where this is heading. I'm convinced it was a set-up job. However, this is all due to my own amateur sleuthing and everyone else thinks I'm a conspiracy nut.
But you, readers, are intelligent people and I'm sure you'll agree with me.

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