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painting of two fish, by Jedidiah Morley

Ponderment. copyright Jedidiah Morley

After a year of absolutely lovely weather in South-East England (Poki, I don’t care what you feel obliged to say about English summers, 2009 was lovely ;P ) January was just dismal. Grey, bleak, dark, all those English weather cliches you hear about so much. I think we had 4 days that were not oppressively overcast. Blerch!

So, that’s my major excuse for lack of blogging here during January. Mild depression and introspectiveness caused by the weather. I didn’t have the energy to get my thoughts onto the page. Also, Jed gets SAD, so a lot of my January was spent gently bolstering him and picking up some slack in day to day life so he could take the time he needed for naps. (NB: this is not to imply he wasn’t pulling his weight, just that we all fluctuate with the seasons, and perhaps acknowledging this more often would lead to a less broken society).

The dismal weather was coupled with the 9 month homesickness jag. Or maybe the first winter homesickness jag.Whichever way reaching out to others was a bit tough for the last month.

However, while all this was happening there was also stirrings in other areas, indicating what the year ahead would be like. The soil in which my new life has been planted has been warming up, shoots are starting to poke through the soil, buds are unfurling, and all other aspects of that metaphor that are appropriate. To whit:

Work has been busy and mostly fulfilling. I’m running the implementation of a restructure for one of the services in the Council, which means my strengths are actually (finally!) being used. At least, they are for 2 days a week, since that’s all the time I am allowed to bill to this project. This is rather frustrating, not least because this service asked for full-time support and needs full-time support. My team is under-staffed and playing political games so this service didn’t get the support it needed.

I’ve been seriously thinking about my future, what I do well, what I excel at and enjoy. All sorts of ideas are cropping up, realigning my assumption that life was going to take me through a traditional hierarchical career path. Perhaps I am more suited to project based consultancy type work. Go in, fix a problem, then move on. I get rather bored once it’s all routine. Then combine this with ideas I have for a content-based online ittybiz for some other income. A more fluid life.

Combining the two ideas, next week I am going to see if the service wants to hire me full-time. I’m still on an ongoing monthly contract with my current team, so there’s no compunction to stay there. There may be internal politics, i.e. a feeling that my manager’s manager has to be asked if he can spare me. Which is unfortunate, since he is likely to say no, as they need me. They don’t, they could find someone else to rewrite strategies for them at the drop of a hat. Finding someone who can walk into a service and gently, respectfully guide them through a restructure is much more difficult to find.

Also, I’m a bit grumpy about this, as the entire bargain of having a contractor on site is that you can fire them when it’s expedient, but they are also likely to leave if a better offer comes along. I tend to have a very particular idea of the employment bargain: it’s two sided and I get a say in what sort of work I do, or I’ll find something else. I’m aware of my assets enough to not settle, and certainly not because one director holds more of a sway then another one does. We’ll see how this one pans out.

Talking futures, we’ve been plotting Jed’s future as well. Trumpet flare: He now has his paintings available for sale on line via a print-on-demand site. Go look! They’re fantastic, I’m so proud. Order something if it suits you, or forward to someone else who might like to look.

I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of months skilling up in online marketing and small business administration to support him in this endeavour. It will make him so much happier to be able to do this, and I have those skills already, generally contracted out to someone else. What better use of them is there than to support my love. Complementary aspects.

Last night we registered a URL for him. Today I will be doing the initial install and build of the site. Later next week (maybe) we’ll launch it. Very exciting!

Despite the SAD, I’ve watched him blossom and change in the last month, as he’s had permission (and given himself that permission) to paint, to create, to put his work out into the world and get good feedback.

My 2010 kicks off on Chinese New Year – next weekend. Stayed tuned for what this might look like. In short, brighter and better than 2009. Thankfully!

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Last week I promised I’d have updates for January by the end of the week. It’s now Monday, everywhere on the planet.

Here’s the first part of a (hopefully) 4 part series to catch you all up on the end of December and January. The other three will cover home & local area and work & future direction, and things that happened that were not Christmas.

Obviously I need to resolve to either follow through on promises, or not make promises in the first place. Gentle self-awareness suggests that the second option is probably more realistic.

We spent the week before Christmas at Jed’s parents place in Devon with all the family, including his sister. Overall it was quite a pleasant week . As I’d spent Easter and another weekend in Devon I felt much more comfortable with the routine of the family, and I suspect they felt more comfortable with me.

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In reverse order, so you don’t get worn out by the home-related words, of which there will be many:

I’ve been rather sick for the last week. First was a head cold that I caught from Jed. Overall rather mild, didn’t need to take time off work, but still sniffles and fuzzy headed not as good as being well.

Then on Thursday I spent the day in bed (and the neighbouring bathroom) with a stomach bug. Thankfully it was a 24 hour bug, but my stomach has been very delicate since. Eating has been problematic, with my energy spiking and crashing ever since whenever I eat (or don’t for too long). Not very fun, but I’ve had this happen before and know what to watch out for.  Hopefully it will even out while we’re in Devon and in time for Christmas. Being fed regularly might help, rather than the ad hoc eating patterns Jed and I have on weekends.

The interview last Wednesday, so you can all stop crossing fingers, etc. The  job was quite similar to the one that I had in Sydney, that I enjoyed immensely. I walked away from the interview thinking it had gone reasonably well. Felt I’d stated my case as a desirable employee, my knowledge of waste infrastructure projects and experience in case managing them, and that I’d built a rapport with the Chief Operating Officer. As long as I was what they were looking for then I’d be fine.

I received an email on Thursday stating that I’d not been successful. In the midst of being sick this didn’t really register, but since then I’ve been feeling a quite lost and despondent. Not sure where I belong or what I’m doing or where to go from here. Income is not an issue (yet) as my current employers keep renewing my contract. But, it is increasingly apparent that the team I’m working for does not fit my workstyle. Almost detrimental to my confidence and sanity in many ways. I need something else. But if it’s not a job with London’s Waste and Recycling Board then I’m a bit lost where my skills and knowledge are needed, where I should be targeting. What to do as a small fish in a large pond.

I’ve been feeling this very strong urge to run back to Sydney (and take Jed with me) and beg DECC for a job again, for the security and stability I had in Sydney. If only this was feasible. Perhaps I need to learn to live with a modicum of uncertainty and instability?

They’ve invited me to call to discuss the decision, which I will do on Monday (if there’s time after the drive to Devon) or Tuesday. I’d really like to know the basis for the decision, if there’s something I’m overlooking during interviews, or whether it was simply that there were more qualified candidates that pipped me to the post.

Right then, HOUSE

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Following hot on the heels of moving house, is my second interview for a fantastic job. Which is this afternoon. If I get it then that’s two of my major life stabilisers in place in one month. It feels like this is it, for all sorts of reasons.

Since we don’t have internet at home yet, and work has been busy, I’ve not had much time for internet communication. What spare time I have had has involved research into London’s waste and recycling situation.

Hopefully this should all stabilise out tomorrow.

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What a week! It’s generated it’s own Things That Are Weird post (forthcoming), on estate agents and renting in general. I’m a veteran renter, but this was well outside my experience, quite confusing and stressful.

But first (finally) the weather: Winter has hit. At least the start of it has. After a very mild, quite lovely Autumn it has turned to a cold and rainy winter.

I’m sure you’ve read about the downpour that hit parts of the UK. None of that was near us, it was much further north and west. I don’t think any of it affected Jed’s parents either, as they are rather high up, despite flood warnings in their county.

Nevertheless it has been wet. Reminding me of those horrible wet weeks you get in June in Sydney, where it doesn’t stop raining for days. Where you have to avoid puddles and running water in the streets. Where you will get saturated if you are out in the rain for more than 4 minutes, despite your umbrella. Add to this the cold temperatures, it was reasonably horrible. Thank goodness for central heating.

Luckily there was one clear day in the midst of all this rain, on the day we moved. It was cold, but all our stuff stayed dry, and we warmed up once the lifting and carrying started.

Which brings me to the move. Sheesh! Well, to be fair the move itself went smoothly, thanks in a large part to the help of Poki and DiscoDoris at short notice.Tthe majority of our stuff was into the house at 3.30 in the afternoon, and we had a bed set up in time to sleep.

The sheesh! part is our estate agents. At 5.30 pm on Monday, the day our lease in the Redhill was up and we had to move somewhere, they finally agreed to let us sign the lease so we could move. After a month of miscommunication, loss of paperwork, conflicting information about what would be required, and the most rigorous background check I have ever been through I was about ready to shoot someone when they decided that yes, by statement of savings would be sufficient to give us a 6 month lease in case one of us lost our income. GAH! After I’d been expressly told a week earlier that this was not possible as “I might spend it on a car tomorrow” – OR I might decide having somewhere to live is more important than a car!?

It was horrible, we were facing the possibility of continuning to live in Redhill in a less than ideal situation for another couple of months until I could secure permanent work OR staying in a friend’s spare room for the same period of time, with most of our stuff in boxes.

But now it is all wonderful, (if you ignore the half unpacked boxes in each room).  My kitchen is unpacked, out of the boxes it went into back in January. My plates, and my cutlery, and teatowels, and serving dishes and… yay! The kitchen itself is slim, and doesn’t have loads of storage, but it is lovely, usable and well-lit. You can see what you are washing up. It reminds me a bit of the house in Glenhaven, the one in Chelmsford St and my sister’s former apartment in Chiswick.

The bedroom is very large, almost too large, although I’m sure that will be less of an issue once we have everything in and arranged properly. There’s space for a bed for L, which we’ll be getting soonish. She’ll have the small alcove at the end of the room, which made her smile when I mentioned it. Possibly as it’s obviously a space unto itself, or that she’d been thought of already and included in the plans, or both, or something else. Whichever it’s a better situation for all of us for sleeping.

The bathroom is white, tiled, large and has a proper pressured hot shower with separate taps to control temperature. Not a dial. You don’t realise the things you take for granted until they are gone. My shoulders are telling me every morning how happy they are to be getting proper hot water pressure again. It’s a lot like the bathroom I had the last time I lived in Croydon (albeit in Sydney, not London), which was one of the things I liked about that house.

The living space is enough, not huge, but also not small, and is attached to the kitchen in a sort of open-plan way. It suits us well. There’s a large bay window with a door leading onto the private garden out the back.

All in all, it will do nicely for a while until we’re a lot more stable in other areas of our life and L needs a room to herself when she stays. Photos will follow once there’s no boxes to be part of the shot.

Let the next phase of this adventure commence! It should be a good one.

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As my lovely sister pointed out, I’ve not done an update in a while. Sorry, work got really busy and involved, which reduced my time and brain power for writing here. Which, in turn, is a shame for communicating with all of you, and fantastic for feeling a lot happier at work.

This mirrors my current headspace in general. Life has become much happier and more stable in recent weeks. It feels like I’m definitely out of the adjustment-freakout period of moving countries and into the wing-spreading and sorting-out-finer-details period. It’s lovely. (more…)

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Another two weeks have passed since I wrote a weekly update. It’s been a combination of busy work (finally!), waiting to get some photos uploaded, and then a down period in the middle of last week which means that the post I wanted to write would have been more down than it deserved to be. We’ve all had enough of down posts recently. At least I have. I’m starting to worry that you’re all going to think I’m a big puddle of sadness and depression and homesick, when there are moments of fun and happiness and comfort. So, on with the last two weeks:

Funghi on log in Banstead woods. Autumn = leaves and mushrooms!

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