Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Deja-vu just isn't what it used to be

After a fairly hellish half term week, I am back at work, and have immediately been sent home due to pain, exhaustion and that oh look, the world is spinning, and now everything's going dark, and I'd really better sit down experience that is so much fun. It all ended up with me in floods of tears in the staff room, unable to teach any of my classes. All the lovely members of the English department rallied round to cover my lessons. The Girl, wonderful (and long-suffering) person that she is, came to pick me up in her car and drive me home. So it could have been worse. I currently feel that have no choice but to go in tomorrow, given that I've already missed a Wednesday this term, which means that some classes who only see me on that day are seriously falling behind. If I feel really terrible, of course, I may have to rethink this.

This bloody post-viral thing is getting really dull. When I was told it would last over a year, I didn't actually believe it. Hmph. I miss having energy and feeling like a normal person useful member of society non-freak teacher.

Over half term itself, the stuff I thought would be stressful was actually relatively (and surprisingly) not too bad. The Girl meeting my grandmother turned out to be quite pleasant - indeed, we all actually enjoyed it. Meeting The Girl's parents was less of a positive experience, but we survived. Things then took a turn for the very weird around Tuesday, followed by a frantic few days of flat-hunting, and now it seems that we're moving house a lot earlier than we first thought. This is the result of The Girl's parents' demands, and the situation has its pros and cons. On the good side, I'll be able to live with my girlfriend from the end of November, or thereabouts. As a result of the various bad sides, I am now unbelievably tired. Hence another afternoon in front of The Sims, feeling appallingly guilty for being unable, once again, to cope with my perfectly simple job. Which really must be perfectly simple, because yesterday we were taught how to mark students' work through an exercise involving the building of towers made out of newspaper. (Yes, people, that really is what your tax money is spent on.) So it's a great shame that I couldn't share the benefits of my newly-enriched-by-tower-building experience with the students today. Ah well. Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In which God has an interesting sense of irony

It all began when The Girl's parents decided they wanted to meet me.

We half-met in Edinburgh, where they avoided me from a distance. Then they suddenly decided, having refused to acknowledge my existence for a year, that they wanted to have lunch with me. Fine. I was a bit worried that I'd be terrified beyond the telling of it, but mostly I was pleased.

Then my family joined in the fun, and things got weirder.

My mother let slip to my grandmother that I'm going out with The Girl. She got tired with the constant but why hasn't she got a boyfriend? type questions. I didn't particularly mind, since it helps me avoid the same irritation. Until, that is, the very next weekend, when I got a text message from The Sister. "Beware! Nanny is planning to invite all four of us to dinner." My grandmother had decided that she wanted to meet The Girl, and was thinking that the best way was a big Sunday lunch with The Sister, The Brother-in-Law, The Girl and me. We were supposed to be meeting The Girl's parents for lunch on Saturday, but (once we got over the general shock of it all) we decided we could fit in a Sunday dinner with my grandmother on the same weekend. Just about.

As if that wasn't going to be a stressful enough weekend, things continued to get worse.

Minutes after I got off the phone with my grandmother to say that we would be coming for the massive roast dinner (she's Irish - she likes to see me eat) on Sunday lunch time, The Girl texts to say that she's just heard from her parents. They have to arrive in the country a day later than expected, so instead of Saturday lunch, can they meet us for dinner on Sunday night?

I spent a full hour shrieking and tearing my hair out. Mostly about how much I'll have to eat on Sunday...

On the good side, I'll be too busy with the sheer terror about meeting The Girl's parents to worry too much about how it's going with my grandmother. So that's something.

Thank God it's half term. I'll need the four days off to recover from Sunday.

Monday, October 16, 2006

So this what a good dose of anti-depressants can do for you...

I blame the new medication for the fact that I've had a sudden spurt of energy and taken on two - count them - new responsibilities at work.

In the first, I finally gave in to management's desperate pleas and took on the co-ordinator role. I am now running a subject area that anyone working in FE will know and hate all too well, a course that doesn't actually have any content. Or, for that matter, any real syllabus. Or, for that matter, any kind of purpose.

I am actually quite excited about this thankless, pointless and ultimately doomed task, in the manner of somebody has to do it, and I'd rather it was me than someone incompetent and unbearable. At least I have some ideas for making life slightly easier for us poor sods who have to teach this course, and I do think I can improve results. Which, given that there was not a single pass last year, will not actually be difficult. (Seriously. There is no other subject area taught anywhere in the world where the government would put up with this, but because this is a government initiative, they do. Ah, the ubiquitous joined-up thinking of New Labour.)

Oh yes, and the second job. I'm now milk monitor for the English team. I take people's money and buy the milk for their tea.

Now there's a job I can do.

In other news, my weekend was very good. There was a lot of sitting around The Girl's flat watching the telly, including the two new season three episodes of Lost and the old, original Superman film (I recently realised I had never seen it all the way through, as a result of seeing the new one). Then, yesterday evening, we went to see The Queen with The Girl's Youngest Brother. Now that was a decent film. I've been thinking about it all day. And not even just because my GCSE classes are all writing coursework and so I'm a bit bored, either. Ah, my GCSE classes. They're so fantastic. The excitement shown by one student today when I told him he was working close to the 'A' grade standard was just superb. He's a very 'cool' lad who saunters into class, argues with me for five minutes, pretends he doesn't want to be there - and then works incredibly hard for two hours at a time. He walked out of class today going "Yeah, man. An 'A'. I'm gonna be a boffin, innit?" I practically skipped down the corridor back to my office, I was so pleased. It's good to remember why I do this job.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A slightly surprising weekend

The Girl and I had planned to do very little this weekend, except for a bit of hypothetical house-hunting, because I'm still not feeling up to running around or being too busy. So we're driving back from the area of London that we're considering moving to in April, and The Girl is stressed out from all the sitting in non-stop traffic that she's been doing recently, and I'm stressed out because that's what I'm like, and she says "Let's go to Cambridge."

This was at about 2pm. By 4pm, we'd booked a B&B, taken a train and were wandering around the city. It's very nice. It's somewhere I've always wanted to live, once I get sick of London (which I know will happen at some point in the next few years). We didn't do anything particularly exciting there - looked around, did some work in a cafe, had dinner out, nearly went to the cinema but didn't quite make it, visited King's College because it was there... It was just really good to get out of London for a day-and-a-half and do something different. So that's that.

We learnt on the train back that we talk far too loudly when we're very involved with something. The Girl is taking a unit on directing Shakespeare, so we're discussing Macbeth, the Elizabethan historical context and related issues a lot. While we were debating a point relating to Taming of the Shrew, the woman in the seat in front of us turned around and contributed to our discussion. She turned out to be a history postgrad from Cambridge with a particular interest in literary history. She was very interesting. We are going to talk more quietly in future. Although, as The Girl pointed out, at least we're usually discussing something quite impressive-sounding when we start getting vocal.

I am in no way inclined to do any work today. I might see if my fourth cup of tea helps with that.

Monday, October 02, 2006

And so it goes, go round again

I am sitting at home, surrounded by chocolate and cups of tea, entertaining myself with The Sims II the little people are alive! ALIVE! Ahem. Sorry.

I did not go to work today.

For the past two weeks I've been experiencing so much anxiety and obsessive thinking that I rather feel like a complete loony mental freak stuck in a very tiny airtight box. I'm seriously bringing myself down.

Then this weekend I had a cold - nothing serious, but it knocked me out in a way fairly reminiscent of my post-viral fatigue thing (of 'ruined January and February' fame). As a result, when I woke up this morning feeling not only completely exhausted but also terrified of going near work, I made the sensible decision not to.

The fact that all of this co-incides with a change of job does not necessarily mean that the new job is to blame. On the contrary, when I'm enjoying this job, I really love it. I think what may be going on is that I've had too many stresses and shifts recently, including a very busy summer and a complete change of work situation, and all this stress has become the catalyst for a whole load of symptoms that I really don't need at this very busy time. Ah, the marvellously irritating paradox of stress-induced bipolar crap.

I'm hoping that a day off to get my head sorted out will help. If I'm more honest, though, it's been such an extreme and sudden reaction that I probably need the infernal drugs to pull me out of it. Lovely psychiatrist, who I was seeing earlier in the year, said that I could control my own medication for a few weeks if I found this happening again, so that's what I think I'm going to do. I have three weeks' supply of the usual stuff in my house, so I can start that and see if it makes any difference before I start having to see doctors and deal with all that awful rubbish again.

I'm irritated beyond the telling of it, because I was so very happy about how well I was doing, for months and months, without any medication at all. Still, I think I should be able to sort things out with a quick burst of the lighter medication, without having to go back on the evil 'you stay on this until the day you die of a toxic reaction' uber-drug. So that's something.

Meanwhile, I have only one thing left to say on this topic.


On an entirely different topic, I went to hear something called Kol Nidre at a synagogue last night. The Girl was introducing me to some of her Jewish culture - we decided Yom Kippur was as good a festival as any for this. Unfortunately, not only did the service last two hours, but we missed the first ten minutes and didn't get to hear Kol Nidre (which is apparently fantastic) at all. Instead we heard many prayers about sin. These were read in two languages and then sung. It was long. It was still interesting, but The Girl was a bit irritated by it all. For a Jewish person, she really doesn't like religion (except church, apparently, which she's all in favour of, in a very non-Christian way). Me, I'd quite like to see more of this synagogue thing. 'Twas interesting. It made up for Stoppard, which was also very long, and not nearly interesting enough. It was the weekend of long events.

Don't forget that I'm living inside the space where walls and floor meet...
- Kristin Hersh