Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Holiday's over, I guess
I'm back at work - although I use the term in its loosest and most ironic sense - after the Xmas break, so I guess it's probably time I updated Lexifab. All I've been doing for the past two days is surfing the web, with occasional breaks for food and to wander into the branch head's office and watch the cricket on his TV. Now you must understand that this is perfectly normal and acceptable practise during the shutdown period. It's not really possible to get anything substantial done beyond some limited filing and reading the odd report. So it's not as if I would be expected to be productive anyway - I'm just here in the unlikely event that some emergency crops up. Caretaking, in other words.
Unfortunately, with the limitless charms of the internet being as they are, I've quickly become bored and started to think about my future again. Or rather, starting trying to come up with ways to avoid having to continue doing this particular job. Despite a disconcerting preoccupation with them, I have attempted to set aside the various impractical and dishonourable gambits - such as winning the lotto, quitting or staging a shrieking, hysterical nervous breakdown and using up some of the scads and scads of sick leave I've accumulated over the years - that I have come up with in favour of some more sensible approaches. Like writing down the things I think I am good at, the skills I would enjoy using in the workplace and the fields I might be interested in.
There's a catch, though: I have no idea. I feel that I am terrible at self-analysis, though (ha ha) I can't be certain. When I try to pin down details, my mind tends to wander, avoiding objectivity in favour of speculation, fancy or (often) despair. I can't seem to plan out my thoughts, as should be obvious from my writing. I will begin to self-assess, full of good intentions and determination to be rigorous and disciplined, and immediately become distracted by the mental equivalent of the shiny thing. No focus, no "one step at a time", no stepping back and taking a look at the big picture.
I recognise my dilemma, of course. The basic equation is this:
- I don't like my job - I am not engaged with it, I feel guilty that I am effectively taking up a job space that someone with greater enthusiasm, ambition and probably aptitude could be occupying, and I am all the more miserable and unsatisfied and unproductive for it
- Fear of the unknown - Essentially, the cons are numerous. My current position is well paid and has very decent benefits (flex time, holidays and sick leave) and a job outside the public service might very well represent a step backwards in my standard of living and Fiona's; I don't know what else I can do apart from the sort of administrative work I am doing now, which I do not enjoy. I may well pick an interesting-sounding career and shortly find myself hating that too. I cannot picture what I will do, that does not risk the loss of what I already have.
I think that I am prepared to take a risk, though I have the usual enormous reservations. For one, I don't accept that I have the right to be a burden to Fiona by dropping out of a secure job to "find myself as an artist", or whatever. My principles are probably on shaky ground here: if our positions were reversed, and if I were the one with a satisfying and rewarding job while she wanted to go back to school and get a degree in pet psychology, I would be all encouragement, as indeed she is. But my inability to precisely define what I actually want to do instead is frustrating to both of us, and she is right in cautioning me to have a plan before I take the plunge.
I know that I don't want to stay in the public service, having been here long enough to be fairly certain that it is unlikely to supply me with long-term satisfaction. However, the fact that I am just eighteen months away from receiving long service benefits is a strong counter-argument. After all, it represents more than ten grand that I would be completely giving up if I left the APS now. Any replacement occupation will need to offer competitive benefits (although I acknowledge that those benefits need not be financial). On the first hand, the thought of hanging around for another year and a half, doing a half-arsed job and not enjoying it, in order to pick up a payout I will have undoubtedly stopped earning some time ago, leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
As you have probably guessed, I've been using the process of writing this blog to help me sort my thoughts. Hence the rambling structure and numerous ideas left hanging. I won't do a redraft though: apart from sloppy writing being the habit of a lifetime, I think I need this one to stay semi-chaotic for it to have any use to me later as a reference. So, where do I go from here? I'm anxious to hear your thoughts, if you have nothing better to do.
Friday, December 13, 2002
I stole this link
Taken from the weblog of John Tynes, but needing to be seen as a matter of deep personal urgency by everyone in the world, is this. Some days, I love Earth.
Can't sleep. Spitting.
Stayed up until after midnight, putting together a new collage cover for CIU-TBoS and drawing caricatures of the band. Then went to bed and failed to sleep for two hours. Then got up and redrew caricatures for an hour. Went to bed. Instantaneously alarm went off.
I'm pretty tired this morning, but the design work for the covers is done. I have to go down to Simon's place some time to lay all these disparate bits out on his computer. Then I need to print, guillotine and distribute the covers to Andrew and Evan, who will both be in Brisbane next week. More to do this weekend!
Now, I am off to an Xmas party. Or rather, work function with no anticipated entertainment value of any kind. Xmas!
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Andrew says that the albums will be on their way tomorrow, if not sooner. Okay, so I have my "Spit Reminiscences" essay, and now Ev's, I've got a photomontage that will serve either as cover or internal art, I've got a track listing, and I've got tonight to put together any filler art that I might need. I guess it's time to assemble the cover!
Tell me what you think. Should I go with staples or a fold-out format?
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
The Gallery is now Open
Thanks to Fiona's workmate Justin, who had some web real estate to spare, we now have the pick of the Hocus Focus professional wedding shots online. They are available for purchase, if anyone feels like ordering one (I rashly assume that some of my relatives read this page, even though I swear a lot here). We'll post up the information about sizes and costs once we've spoken to Mike the Photographer.
Quick recap of the week
Well, I haven't updated the ol' blog for about a week, which is my usual neglectful standard, so a quick roundup of what's been going down in Davetown:
- Ill - Spent Thursday and Friday off work last week with an Unspecified Case of the Blahs. Could have had something to do with overdoing it with cricket, could have been something to do with the Hepatitis shot I got, could just have been general unwillingness to interact with the universe. Haven't really felt all that great since then, for that matter. Strangely, this seems to be coinciding with my eating better and getting more exercise than I have been for a while. Clearly my body regards self-improvement as a dysfunctional state to be repressed at all costs.
- Cricket - Our team lost Sunday's match, but in terms of cheap personal glory it was a good one. I scored 19 with the bat (including - if I do say so myself - as beautiful a 6 as was ever hit) and took 1 for 13 from my three overs. It would have been the perfect game (and we might well have won into the bargain) had I held on to a top edged sky ball that I ran about fifteen metres backwards to get under, only to watch it pop uselessly out of my incorrectly-cupped hands. Oops, so much for that catching practise session last week.
- Music - Andrew reports that the Spit albums have been burned onto CD, which means it's now down to a packaging and distribution exercise. Which in turn means that both the "Nobody Likes A Smartarse" and "Cough It Up - The Best of Spit" albums will be ready in time to be passed off as Christmas presents this year. I spent Monday night scanning in every photo of Chris, Evan, Andrew and myself that I could lay my hands on to put together a collage-style cover for CIU-TBoS (colloquially acronymated as "Quitboss", if only by me). I was reasonably happy with the results, and particular with the fact that my laptop actually managed to manipulate several dozen pictures in Photoshop without crashing irrevocably. Since then, though, I've had a rethink about the layout, so I will probably be back at the drawing board tonight to have another go. Should have it all done by the weekend without any trouble, though.
- More music - My piano-learning efforts have hit a slow point. In defiance of expectation, this is not because I have lost interest or because it's too hard, but because I can't find a set of headphones with the right kind of jack to go into the electronic keyboard. This restricts me to practising only when there are no housemates around to drive insane with my vain attempts to go from the F to A to C chords smoothly and without hitting too many additional keys. On the plus side, I've pretty much got the finger positioning of all the basic chords worked out (even B and B flat, which are quite counter-intuitive and tricky compared to most of the others). From here it's just a matter of learning to pick out melodies and then coordinating them with what my left hand is doing. Practise, practise, practise. I need those headphones bad...
- Still more music - I have yet to contribute a song to the next Spit album for two reasons: one, because I am planning to write both lyrics and (basic) music for all my contributions (hence the piano practise), and two, because the two songs I am working on at the moment seem to be refusing to come together. Every time I work on them, they veer either into excessive silliness (which I no longer believe to be a virtue in a Spit song) or depressing seriousness. I'm not sure what to do about it. I may have to put them aside for a while and try again later. They're both good ideas, so I don't want to bollocks them up with a half-arsed effort the way I did with [a song from the forthcoming album with which I am no longer entirely happy].
- Parties - 'Tis the season. Last weekend we went to a birthday party for our friends Ange and Adam's two year old and a farewell lunch for Fiona's aunt and uncle, who are heading over to Hong Kong in a couple of days. I didn't actually make that last one, because I'd double-booked myself and was playing cricket instead. This week we have work Christmas parties on Friday and Sunday and a cocktail night on Saturday, followed by two or three other social engagements up to and after Christmas. Gah.
- Renovations - We're finally getting organised and getting people to come around and do the painting and scraping that will necessarily precede the assembly of our pergola at the back of the house. And we're getting the back window knocked out and replaced with a sliding door. Hopefully before the end of the summer-autumn period during which the outdoors in Canberra is faintly habitable, we'll have a passable outdoor entertaining area. The garden is another matter entirely...
- Interview - I just had a call from the interview panel for the promotion round, setting a time for my interview next Tuesday. They have an unusual format, apparently - a written component at the start, followed by my making an oral presentation for a contracts dispute scenario. Yikes! I guess my best bet is to treat it like a roleplaying exercise and act as if I am someone competent to manage a contracts dispute. Yeah, that should do it.
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Dream Team Reunited
Last night ChrisT got to play his first indoor cricket match in a few years, thanks to a vacancy in the AusAID lineup. Batting together again made me feel quite nostalgic (not just for the fact that we batted really solidly for two and a half overs and then fell apart at the end). I hadn't realised that I missed the feeling of being part of a good, solid, regular team who, if not actually all that good, at least had played together enough to be aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses.
I kind of miss the days of the Townsville comp, first of all the high school days when it was Evan, Ev's cousin Garth, and occasionally Jimbo, Martin Kirby, Simon Pressley, David Astley and others (Tiff and Jill played for a while, I recall), and then later with Steve, Clint, Paul and the other guys from Townzone. When you have a regular team, you tend to follow a familiar arc of starting really poor and uncoordinated, then gradually building up over time to become really together and competitive. (In my case, that arc covered learning how to bat, bowl and field well, or at least with some effectiveness).
I'm thinking about this more now that I have returned from a break to discover I am the de facto team captain. Angus used to do it, but he's taken the outdoor captaincy and isn't interested in both jobs, a couple of the other more experienced players can't come regularly enough to do it, and suddenly I'm next in line of succession. Weird. Suddenly I'm having to think of thinks like batting and bowling orders, field placements, tactics. I've never bothered with any of those before. In the past I've just concentrated on playing my part and shouting the occasional encouragement to the rest of the team.* Now suddenly I have to be aware of a whole bunch of factors like skill, style, fearlessness (it can be pretty scary fielding in close to the batsmen, and someone who's afraid to go for the ball is worse than useless) and temperament. Not to mention paying attention to the players on other teams...
Still, as long as I do have the reins, I can abuse my position and make sure that despite the fact that ChrisT isn't actually an AusAID employee, he can still be reasonably assured of selection for most games...Ah, the power, the power...
Phlegm Bubbling Up
The emails have been flying thick and fast this morning between Evan, Andrew and I concerning the production and disposition of the "new"*** Spit album and the Best Of compilation. We're hoping to have the lot put together by Christmas, or very soon thereafter. I may have mentioned/warned about this before. Be afraid of small, flat, square presents in the mail if my name's on the return address...
* Or their shameful lambasting. Quite often in the past my vicious, squirming competitiveness has gotten the better of my sympathetic disposition towards a teammate having a bad game. Just one more reason why making me captain feels just so downright, alien wrong...**
** I should add, though, that I've pretty much got that out of my system now that I'm older, more mature and married.
*** Recorded in November 2000, mostly. Never let it be said we compromise our art by churning out a constant high-volume stream of mindless pap.
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Saga of the Wedding Album
Work continues on getting the photos for the wedding album in precisely the correct configuration for maximum awesomeness and wonder. Or something. Meagan, particularly, is putting in some serious hours on Photoshop, mocking up all our crazy ideas so that Mike the Photographer doesn't have to second-guess our vague descriptions. It's all starting to come together, though. We still have a heap of pages to fill, but we're pushing the limits of our quota of useable shots, so presumably the process becomes easier quite soon.
I don't imagine we'll have it back before Christmas - MtP said as much the other day - but it should be in our hands not too far into the new year. Can't wait.
I don't mean to boast but...
Three wickets in three overs. Wicket taken on the first ball. Dropped in slips twice. A runout effected from the boundary.
Sunday's cricket game was a good game.