Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Square One

The smell of stale disinfectant in the foyer, the glum faces of everybody I meet, the mouldy hum of my office computer all tell me that Christmas is well and truly over. I’m back at work. Back earning the crust that allows me to maintain my precarious chocolate and Lego lifestyle. Back up to my hips in leaky pipes, malfunctioning machinery and air conditioning that patently cannot or will not air condition.

And am I glad to be here? Am I f***.

I’m quite shocked at how easily I dropped all thought of work over the last 10 days. It was like it never existed. I let go of all thought of university too, my web design business, even my novel... and just wallowed in relaxation and pleasure. So easy.

And so difficult to pick it all up again this morning. Demotivated. Not a good way to start the New Year but, in a way, really quite traditional.

And I suppose it could be worse. Work has its down points certainly but it does have a few pluses too. Mainly that it allows me the time and (just) enough energy to do other creative things – like my novel and university for example; the things that keep me relatively sane when the conservators are sobbing on my shoulder about a painting that has been doused in rain water due to a leaky roof...

Normally this compromise is enough. Normally this molecularly precise balance between the good things in my life and the crud is enough to keep me on an even keel. Enough to keep me content and satisfied and functioning.

But after a long break where the crud has largely been expunged it’s hard to accept it back into my life again now that the holiday period has drawn to a close.

Why should I compromise? Why should I accept any of life’s drudgery and trash?

Because it pays the bills. It pays the bills. It pays the bills.

This is the New Year song that kick-starts every new year for every single one of us I’m sure.

And as for resolutions...

Well, I’m not a believer in compiling a foot long list of things that I know I will never accomplish.

Last year I seem to remember I kept things simple: start a novel.

I did and am now 96,000 words through it. Mission accomplished.

This year my resolution will be to finish the novel.

Mission accepted.

And in the background, the bills will all, every single one of them, get paid...

27 comments:

The Sagittarian said...

Ha! I am going to make that cake. Twice.
As for being back at work, you poor sod. I am off until 21 January and intend to make the most of it. Every year I decide I'm going to do things diffrently and every year the boring elemnts conspire against me. Not this year. Oh no. Best of luck with your novel and don't forget us little people!!

Steve said...

Twice? Wow! Let me know how you get on and what you think of it. Be warned: it is seriously rich. I'm a massive chocaholic and I have to say that cake defeats me every time. Chocolate overload!

Off until Jan 21st? You lucky thing - make the most of it; it will fly by. Actually my return to work is going to be shortlived - we've just learned that Karen's mother has had a stroke so we will be travelling down to Berkshire tomorrow to see her... New Year eh?

Daisy said...

I agree steve and have found not making resolutions to be more productive and less disappointing...usually by february everyone is so depressed because they didn't stick with their resolutions...i made one this year...not to be sorry for things i do...sometimes i apologize for things i don't even believe are wrong but others expect it...i'm not doing that anymore...i just need a change i guess...take care and good luck with finishing your book!

Steve said...

Hi Daisy, actually, to not apologize unnecessarily is a pretty good resolution! I might even give that a go myself as I find I constantly apologize for things I (a) have no control over (b) have no responsibility for and (c) don't even feel sorry for in the first place!

Annie said...

Hi Steve, I'm very very sorry to hear about Karen's mum and hope that she will make a full recovery. My dad had a stroke 13 years ago - he's now a very fit 80-year-old!
Keep going with that book my friend - that's the spirit!

Steve said...

Thanks for your good wishes Annie. This is not her first stroke alas and her condition is quite complicated as she's been suffering from Lupus for most of her adult life... she's already very debilitated. Hopefully she'll recover somewhat from this latest setback but until we get down there and speak to the doctors we don't yet know for sure.

As for the novel: I want to get it finished so I can write another one!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Ah, but is it art? (sic first paragraph)

Reluctant Blogger said...

I logged onto my work email this morning and the first item I opened was in response to a complaint I sent to someone in Maintenance just before Christmas. The person had kindly made a few suggestions as to how I might manage at work in the sub-arctic conditions. They included the usual little gems, like wear extra clothes, shut windows etc (duh!) but the funniest was this:
"Try to avoid sitting in a sedentary position".
How am I meant to achieve this?
Work eh?
But yeah, the initial feelings of gloom and despondency soon pass.
Sorry to hear about your MIL. I hope all is OK.
And yes, I might try Daisy's idea for a Resolution too.

Steve said...

Laura, you're way too fast/on the ball/intelligent for me this morning... either that or I am (as usual) not seeing the wood for the trees...!

RB, I may use your colleagues advice to fend off complaints from my workmates here... especially the one about avoiding sendentary positions... I bet they'd all love that...!

We'll know more about MIL tomorrow, until then all can do is sit tight and wait. Thanks for your kind wishes.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Sorry to hear about mum-in-law Steve - afraid I'm so fast I miss bits sometimes.

Always worth a good Google when anyone is ill I find. The Americans are a good ten years in front of us with most medical stuff.

In addition, knowledge being 'power', it's one way of clawing back some power when one feels powerless (ie ill) as I myself did when struck down with an appalling auto-immune disorder several years ago, which I ended up being more expert on than the doctors treating me!

Steve said...

Hi Laura, we may yet give good old Google a go though I suspect Karen's mum (herself a doctor) is already well mugged up on her own condition and knows there is precious little that can be done. At least in this country... it is sobering to learn how far advanced other countries are in their treatment of most medical conditions... and to think the NHS was once the envy of the world...!

Rol Hirst said...

It's the curse of the working man. I sympathise.

BTW, Marian won't really be dead. Bearing in mind all the anachronisms you so enjoy in pointing out, she'll probably be choppered to her local A&E and stitched up by the cast of Casualty or something. Take my word for it.

Steve said...

Thanks for your sympathy Rol - much appreciated and for the small flame of hope you have raised in my heart regarding Marian's senseless death in Robin Hood... I'm sure you're right. In fact I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Lucy Griffiths has signed up for a third series... so she's either going to come back as ye olde ghostie or Marian's secret twin sister "Britney"... Lord knows what the script doodlers will come up with...

EmmaK said...

Why should I compromise? Why should I accept any of life’s drudgery and trash?
The grass is always greener, my friend. Yes, you could marry Paris Hilton and have her support you, but could you stand her retarded conversations, ie she once said: "What's Wal-mart? Do they sell like wall stuff?"

The Hitch said...

Steve
This morning, I had a lie in, had a wank and looked to the year ahead.
It's how I like to start the new year.
Well one aspect could have been better.

The Hitch said...

Another thing
Do you think that JK Rowling ever thought that she would achieve what she has?
No !
keep going.
Chances are you will not make £500 million, but I bet you can write a better book than she ever has.

Matthew Rudd said...

I'd love to write a novel. There is a minor drawback - I can't think of a single idea. Good luck with yours, looking forward to the complementary copy to review on the radio...

MOTHER OF MANY said...

I believe those people who LOVE going to work every day are wired differently than the rest of us and your fluctuating feelings towards work are very normal. I know somebody who LOVES work, he runs 5 miles to work every day, runs around constantly in work and at home cannot keep still and is constantly doing washing, cleaning, dishes etc.I frequently have the desire to give him a good punch! Whilst I like a clean house, I am quite happy to sit and relax with my used evening meal dishes at the side of me and will take them to the kitchen later when I get up.
I am all for conserving energy in any way possible!

Steve said...

EmmaK - thank you, that has injected my day with a much needed shot of realism. You're right. Life with someone who, like, imagines, there are shops that, like, sell wall stuff would be truly unbearable. It would actually make me want to go to work to get away from it all...

Hitch, sounds like you had a damn fine New Year's Day. And that's not meant to be a euphemism. Regarding J.K Rowling... Karen and I watched the programme about her that was on earlier this week. SHe came across as perfectly affable and friendly... but my God is she sad and depressive. Poor woman.

Matthew, writing a novel is one thing... getting an agent and then a publisher to back it is another thing entirely. If I ever get it published I will personally bring a copy up to you!

Ally, that level of devotion to work is surely a neuroses of some kind. A kind of depression or addiction. The man needs counselling! Or some prozac! Or I really am in the wrong job! P.S. Karen's reaction to your description of the work obsessed man was "marry him, darling"...!

-eve- said...

Ai yah :- ) It's all about paying the bills... but it's good that you can get enjoyment out of life, too! :-)

Old Cheeser said...

Join the club, Steve - we all know exactly how you feel! The mantra "it pays the bills" is what we all have to use to justify going back to the tedium of our jobs...and for me it's now coupled with the even more pressing "it pays the mortgage"!!

But hey! Who knows what 2008 is gonna bring for all of us?! Publication of your book, for one thing! Yay!

Tristan said...

Your resolution has inspired me, mate. After all, I've finished a novel - now I resolve to get the bloody thing published! (If I can)

The Hitch said...

Hey
Blogging is just vanity publishing, get it printed and get self publicising it online.

Steve said...

Eve, it is essential that we all get some enjoyment out of life; I firmly believe it's the main purpose of life in the first place!

OC: Ah - yes, pay the mortgage! That's definitely the chorus. Or should I say "the hook"...?

Tris, go for it mate. After all that hard work it deserves to be given every chance to reach the wider world outside. If you find a decent agent, maybe you can let me know...! ;-)

Hitch, believe me I've considered it but I'm snobby enough to want to make it the "proper way". And get paid for it. J.K Rowling league and all that. Well. Anything that allows me to give up my day job actually...

Steve said...

P.S. Hitch - what has happened to your blog?!

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Steve said...

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