What Else To Do…

There is no greater betrayal for someone so guarded than to allow themselves to feel, despite their natural inclinations, only to have their fears realised and face the disappointment they were seeking to avoid.

For a while now I’ve been casually searching for a new job – the right job. I am already employed and have been with the same company for the best part of eight years now. It’s the usual story: underpaid and under-appreciated.

But that I can just about tolerate, it’s the way of the world, right? What really gets me is the commute, the negative work environment and the company culture. I moved house last year, 60 miles further from work. The idea was that I was going to leave my job and find something else, be a writer perhaps, or a joiner at one point, but my company still needed me – what was I saying about under-appreciated…? So, I agreed to stay on part-time, despite the two-hour commute and no pay increase; the idea was that it would serve my needs for the time being and that Katie and I would be able to move in together. You see, it wasn’t so much that I was increasing my commute by an hour and a half, but rather that I was decreasing the time it took to get to Katie by an hour and a half, and that I would get to see a lot more of her. This was only ever a good thing.

So, for a year I was part-time. I did all sorts with my time, some things more productive than others, but started to look to the financial horizon; my savings weren’t going to last forever.

Rather serendipitously, I came across something that really appealed to me. Sure, there were aspects that I was not so keen on, but nothing’s perfect, right? So I applied, went for the interview and apparently made quite the impression on the panel, so much so, that they decided to create a role for me based on my strengths in the interview; I was invited to meet with the Operations Director to iron out what exactly the role would be called and was face-to-face with an opportunity I never thought to be possible: I was set to get paid to do everything about my previous full-time role that I absolutely loved while not having to deal with the bits that are really challenging. Not only that, it was a fifteen minute walk from the house. They just had to cross the ’t’s and dot the ‘i’s. I was elated; this kind of thing just doesn’t happen to me.


It all fell through. What was supposed to be a job offer came through as ‘sorry, but…’

I had the next 5 years planned. All because I allowed myself to be positive despite telling myself, nothing is real until it’s real.

Yes. Nothing is real, until it’s real.

It was so grossly unfair; anyone looking at the facts of this situation and maintaining that ‘nothing is guaranteed’ would be branded as the worst kind of pessimist.

Do I now move forward as though this proves some kind of point? Maybe that I shouldn’t get excited about anything until it is in the palm of my hand?

Do I take as further proof that you just can’t trust anyone?

Or do I treat it as an honest mistake by another human being, just as flawed as the rest of us?

I think the thing that has really upset me about this is that I did not have a plan for this scenario, so the future is suddenly very unknown.

So… what else is there to do now, but to write and contemplate the possibilities that the future holds…?


It Kept Me Sane…

Yes, it kept me sane.

That’s the main thing I really got from writing. It would help me to acknowledge the triviality of my grievances and lamentations by providing the time to reflect and laugh; it was only when I wrote them down and read them over in the editing process that I realised how ludicrous so many of my complaints are: striped toothpaste, for example.
It also helped me to find the humour and joy in the most mundane things: a pigeon in a bush becomes a target of paranoid suspicion.

I have not written in a long time. My sanity is failing.

As a writer, and so many fancy themselves as such nowadays – I gather it’s quite trendy to be a writer. What is a writer anyway? Is there something specific one has to do with the medium to be able to call themselves a writer? Does one have to be a professional? Does one have to be published? (And, no, self-published doesn’t count.) It is simply a case that I write, therefore I am… something like that?

I digress, as I am wont to do.

As a writer, one of the most difficult things in the world for me is writing. I can ramble for hours – it’s very therapeutic – but to write with any other aim or purpose is very challenging.

I have a heck of a story in me, but trying to tease it out is nigh on impossible; rather than writing, I spend most of my time on Wikipedia or YouTube ‘researching’. I’ve learned about military technology and the production of circuit-boards but not written much. So far.

I do not focus well enough and I spread myself too thin. I know it, and try to remind myself. Katie knows it and she tactfully reminds me. Even the universe knows it; it has been screaming at me to simplify for about 5 years now, however, like a defiant toddler, I simply fold my arms over my chest, furrow my brow, purse my lips and contrarily declare ’No!’, while I continue to flit from activity to activity…

They say ‘the universe knows best’, or something like that, and I’m sure it does, but my brain is dead set on getting in the way: ‘ooh, look at that thing over there; hey, wouldn’t you like to have a go at this thing’; ‘oh no, don’t worry about that, you can do that later, why don’t you check this out instead’; yo, stop what you’re doing immediately, I have something important to tell you: remember how much you like biscuits’; and so on… it’s truly exasperating.

I’ve gotta write more. If only to spite/appease my damned brain – the truth is, I have no idea what it really wants aside from biscuits, lots and lots of biscuits.

The Candle-maker

Candles were the only reliable way to know that you would have light these days. Within the city walls power was not guaranteed, especially in the outer districts, and personal electrical supplies were strictly prohibited. Consequently, candles were in high demand and so they cost a fortune. The only way to be sure of getting your hands on one was to save two weeks’ worth of luxury goods tokens and hope to make a trade with someone who had been able to get their hands on one. However, Rokas hated getting ripped off in the trade forums and had learned of a way to make his own candles using left-over cooking oil. He glanced at the clock. 22:19. He lit the candle ahead of the 22:30 power curfew and carried on reading his ESAO-3 Study Guide.

Rokas worked as a level-2 electrical salvage and assembly operative (ESAO-2) and had just been invited to study for promotion to level-3; his job was to put together whatever devices were called into production. This could change from week to week, sometimes even day-to-day. It was last week that he had been assembling computer screens from various reclaimed components when he was instructed to cease work on the current job as there had been a ‘P-1’ assembly requirement for ten camera units. He’d never made a camera before, and nor had any of the others, but they were given the component requirements and assembly specifications and just had to get on with it. Without questioning, fifty people were then dedicated to producing these camera units. The shit thing about the ‘P-1’ jobs is that no-one could return to their residence until the job was complete. But that’s just how it was. Of course, all ESAO-2s had been given training, but this was fairly basic; they could follow instructions, but didn’t really understand how things actually worked. Progress was sometimes slow, but opportunities like this allowed the more talented operatives, like Rokas, to really stand out and gave a chance to prove one’s worthiness of progression. As soon as the ten units had been produced to spec, the Production Director performed final quality control, confirmed acceptance and had terminated their shift. It was in the project analysis that he had highlighted Rokas as ‘a notable talent’ and invited him to advancement training.