Thursday, 29 July 2010

Today I had a meltdown

I'm not going to suggest it's easy to deal with major stresses.

Because it isn't.

But, with some major stresses, you at least know what you're up against. It doesn't make it easy or, necessarily, easier, but there's a sense of tangibility, and you know damn well why you're stressed.

And, perhaps, it helps other people to understand more easily what you're dealing with (or trying to), too, and to empathise. If you're bruised and battered from fighting a bear that's entered your porch, others can look at you and immediately say, "no wonder you're bruised and battered."

Whereas comparatively minor, more insidious but (perhaps) no less insistent stresses are, by their nature, more diffuse, less definable, and less easy to position yourself against. They can build up, catch you off your guard, you think you're ok - when really you're not - and, after all, I dealt with the big stuff just fine, didn't I?

In that respect, it's harder to explain to other people, and I'm slower to make sense of such things myself. People are less likely to be understanding if you can't adequately define what you feel you're up against, particularly if it's many little segments of this and that. If you're not bruised and battered, because you've spent the day merely attempting to rid your house of flies, wasps and an infestation of ants, it can be harder for those around you to take you quite so seriously from the word go.

Today, when I was really starting to feel more than hopeless, I was able to offload. Not before time.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Beside the sea

Not the most evocative piece of film ever, but it was nice just to have that gentle moment, all the same.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Misfortune tellers

In my lunch hour, I decided to pop into my bank. I'd just noticed that my debit card had a split in it, and would need replacing. It's still usable but is likely to be rejected by some card readers, more so as the split gets bigger.

So, once in the bank, I was approached by a member of what they seem to call "floor staff," to whom I explained the problem. Ah, you'll need to use the phone line. Dial ** and that'll put you through.

Ok. So far, so good. This particular branch is a big, city-centre branch, and yet there are just two phones available for such things. Both were in use, so I stood and waited a suitably discreet distance behind the guy using the nearest one.

I waited for around 20 minutes, getting rather impatient. Not with the guy on the phone, it wasn't his fault. He sounded fraught, and he kept turning round and saying sorry, which was nice of him. I kept making it clear that it was ok. The person on the other phone was there for just as long too, and there was a guy also standing and waiting for use of that one.

Anyway - back to where I was and I noted that the poor chap trying to make some progress with his phone call had by now managed to get the attention of one of the floor staff, who intervened and soon sounded exasperated herself, not least with the fact that it was a bad line. Finally she got this guy an appointment to see somebody, to sort out whatever his problems where.

I went and sat down at the phone booth, and dialled **. I got an automated service telling me which option to press for having had my card lost or stolen. I hadn't had my card stolen and it certainly wasn't lost, it was right in front of me. The other options were equally irrelevant, except for pressing x for other options.

I pressed x for other options. I then had to enter various numbers: my sort code, my account number, my security number. What they didn't make clear was this this was not the security number on the back of my neither-lost-nor-stolen card.

They made it clear enough when they said (still the automated voice) that I had entered the wrong number, that I needed to enter various digits from the longer security number on my account, and that if I either hung up or wrongly entered the number again, any transactions on my account would be frozen.

Great, so I'm already starting to feel like a bloody criminal and I'm supposed to remember the 3rd and 5th numbers out of an 8-digit security number which I haven't used in months.

I was by now uttering curses under my breath and feeling like throwing the phone receiver against the wall. Twenty minutes of waiting, to be given a bogus set of options followed by being patronised by an automated fucking voice.

I entered the numbers correctly and was given my options again, none of which applied. I held on, hoping to be put through to someone. No chance. The voice informed me of my account balance - lovely, but that wasn't what I was after, thanks - and then gave me the non-applicable options once more. I waited, and was given my account balance again (which, interestingly, was exactly the same as it had been but 20 seconds previously).

I slammed the phone down, shouted one of the floor staff over and told him to get me through to a human being on the other end of the line because I was losing my temper and getting very annoyed. The chap dutifully did so.

The voice at the other end was in a hard-to-understand accent on a very crackly line, so I was having to ask her to repeat every other sentence as I went through the whole rigmarole of telling her everything from this number, that code, my address and my inside leg measurement.

Finally - finally I was able to tell her that all I wanted to do was get a replacement debit card through because mine was damaged. She dealt with this, and then "having had a look at your account with us," started telling me about a bank account which I could change to if I so wished.

Meanwhile an atonal howl of feedback informed me that I had a call on my mobile phone (the howl of feedback being my ringtone) and I was scrabbling in my pocket for that whilst still hearing "..enhanced rate of members covered for x amount of trips abroad per year..."

I'd missed the call on my mobile.

Excuse me I said sharply, my indignance at fever pitch that I was now receiving sales patter for an account which I couldn't give two shits about. I've been offered this account before, and I don't want it!. there anything else I can do for you today?


I slammed the phone down again and stormed out, glaring at all the floor staff.

If this is what it takes to ask for a simple task to be done, then thank goodness that - at least at the present time - I have no major financial issues that I need to sort out with my bank, that would surely be a Kafka-esque nightmare.

Which, judging by the haunted, bewildered look in his eyes, is exactly what the guy on the phone before me is going through. Damn.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Weight lifting (2)

According to my scales, I've lost almost a stone in weight in the last few weeks, which means that I'm not so far at all from what I'd consider to be my ideal weight.

One trigger for this is the very stressful stuff that was happening at work for a spell. It's not that my losing weight was a stress reaction, it's that I found myself knowing that if I really started doing sensible stuff like looking after myself with a little bit more rigour, then I'd be better equipped to handle whatever came my way.

Which, so far at least, has worked.

The other trigger, I think, is that (apart from the last few days) we've had a pretty decent summer so far. It makes it easier to just go out, stay out, and do more stuff - particularly stuff that doesn't revolve around the pub - and to eat lighter meals too. Last time I managed to lose this amount of weight - and more - was around four years ago, which was the last summer not to feature stupid amounts of torrential rain round these parts.

Changing tack slightly, there's some writing I want to do. It's been on my mind on and off for a little while, and I hope in a way that it develops into more of a kind of compulsion, since that will mean it's more likely (as with music) that I actually get on with it.

I make no bold claims (nor italic claims, nor sans serif) for this intention to write. It's just something, a little idea I want to explore, and not necessarily anything more than that. But I just want to make the point - to myself first and foremost - that I have to bloody well sit down and make the effort to type out the words, if I'm to allow any chance of seeing whether there's any merit in it whatsoever.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The nondescript

Going back to see my mother for the weekend often sees me experiencing mixed feelings, for all sorts of reasons. Last time I was there I was like a grumpy, semi-mute teenager, I couldn't have been good company, but that was while I was in the midst of some rather intense work-related dramas.

This weekend I was able to appreciate being there much more. The first thing I noticed was the background noise (I've described it on this blog - somewhere - before), the subtle and very alluring hum from the road in the middle distance, as it cuts across the countryside. I popped out for a couple of drinks on Friday evening, and sat outside away from conversation and hubbub, so that I could be enveloped as much as possible by this hum.

I attended a barbecue with my mother on Saturday evening, it was a family friend's birthday. I didn't stay late, I made the most of the weather and had a walk round later on, allowing my head to fill with narratives and ideas as I wandered the near-silence of the paths and lanes. Looking back on the barbecue, there was a really nice atmosphere, something almost heartbreakingly gentle about it.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Blogger, interrupted

I didn't want to have a quiet spell, blog-wise. I've had computer problems, this time it was the motherboard which needed to be replaced. Thankfully I've lost nothing, nor even needed to reload anything. All I've needed to do is tinker with a few settings and things are back to normal after a week or so away.

Still, I hope it's as easy to regain my bloggy momentum, since I'd been far more active on here in recent weeks. It'll also be a relief tomorrow morning when I'll be able to look at the weather forecast online and know whether, e.g., I need to take a waterproof with me or not. These are the things I take for granted, and really miss, when I don't have my internet access.

I've missed the company of my fellow bloggers too.

Oh, and a moan (not blog-related): why is it ok for everyone to interrupt me?