Learning to say no

I feel like I’ve finally started to get a little more assertive this week. Today, in particular. In a handover meeting before my boss went on leave today, I finally said no to some extra work, telling them that extra tasks would seriously compromise my own project timetables. Not only did they give the tasks to someone else, they also sorted out a couple of solutions to my own slippages, taking the pressure off considerably.

Onwards and upwards…

Still no news from Gloucester. I’m taking that as a bad sign. But I did find my favourite pair of gloves on the back seat of my car, under a map, which cheered me up no end because I thought they’d gone forever J

Another day…

Today has been another up and down – it finished with a very extreme high and I’m really, really proud of myself and my performance in quite a stressful situation but, still, work continues to be a real chore. I woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday and had to really concentrate on breathing because I was panicking so much about my workload.

Still, things may be different this time tomorrow (although I’m not getting my hopes up – I have no way of knowing what to expect).

And besides, this song makes me a very happy girl indeed J

Guilty TV secrets

In response to Simon’s recent guilty TV pleasure post, I though I’d better own up too…I am completely in love with Gordon Ramsey’s American Kitchen Nightmares (I could write every single episode, it’s so formulaic, but in America they get loads more shouting and swearing and insults…the drama!) and The Hills. Seriously, you must watch it simply for the episode in which one of the girls (they all look the same) fell out with her boyfriend because he had the AUDACITY to chat to some of his friends that had come out for his birthday dinner. It was all the more incredible for her repeated protestations of “I don’t want to argue with you on your birthday, baby!” Genius. And I know that both programmes are created for entertainment purposes but I really am the ad man’s dream and get sucked into the whole thing. I’ll believe anything I’m told.

We just don’t do it like that in England.

Five things

1. My former boss was interviewed in today’s Guardian in a piece entitled “The new embraceable Britain” discussing our “sudden craving for big, bold works of public art” and points out the increasingly significant role of artists in regeneration schemes. I am particularly pleased to see that, over three years after I left the company, their office is still described in the paper as “somewhat messy” – just the way I liked it J

2. Another Guardian article today on the glasses vs. contact lenses debate. As a devotee to spectacles, I’m pleased to see that glasses win. Those of you who know me well know how much I love my glasses (see my flickr account for proof) and also know that I have willingly paid significant amounts of money for them and every night keep them IN THEIR CASE and not just on my bedside table. Anyway, I digress. I concur entirely with the article’s assertion that contact lenses are, frankly, unnatural and that glasses can do wonders for the presentation of a well-framed face. And, yes, they can get in the way a bit during certain activities and I am so very blind that I can’t even buy prescription sunglasses (not the ones I want anyway) so have to spend all summer squinting but, having worn them for 16 years with only a brief spell of madness during which I wore contact lenses and hated them, I look *really* weird without them on these days.

3. Today, I’ve been working from home and have been listening to my iTunes library in alphabetical order by song name. I just get crazier. I thought I’d have got through a good few letters but nine hours of constant listening later (with 15 minutes for lunch) and I’m actually only up to “As You Are” by Travis (I skipped “As Heard on Radio Soulwax, Pt 2” on the grounds that it’s over an hour long).

4. I have a compulsion to buy books when in the vicinity of a charity shop. On Saturday, I bought a copy of Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach from the Acorns shop in St Peters (which is within in walking distance of my house – not good) for 95p. Ha! Beat that Amazon and Tesco! (I realise I could just get it out of the library for free and that would be even cheaper but that’s not as charitable, is it?) Unlike my old English teacher, who used to lend me books and freak out if I opened them a bit too wide, I like a dog-eared book. If they’re loved, they should definitely have a crease down the spine and maybe a few pages turned over. However, this book is a little too loved and the damp and musty smell emanating from its pages is rather putting me off.

Again with the digression – sorry. My point was to recommend a visit to Enviroability’s Book Swap Shop in Ross-on-Wye. As well as providing valuable and meaningful employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities and contributing to the social enterprise’s environmental ethos, it is an incredibly well-stocked book shop. Books aren’t priced (largely because forcing those who work in the shop to work out change would draw attention to their disability) but I always end up spending a fortune in donations when I visit.

5. I’m really pleased to see that the women of Coventry could be getting a well-deserved pay reward following the decision that their pay was unequal to that of men doing similar jobs. Those that will say this is not a matter of sexual discrimination will be sorely mistaken. Job roles that are traditionally seen as “female” are still undervalued by society and whilst that remains the case, intelligent and motivated young women will continue to underperform because of an assumption that their natural preference for more pastoral careers is not as important as traditionally “male” professions. What’s more, we’ll continue to be unsuccessful in attracting very capable men down essential career paths such as social care, teaching and nursing.

Huh. I got a bit serious at the end there, didn’t I? I’ll try harder not to next time.

Up and down

My good mood didn’t last very long. By lunchtime on Sunday, I could sense a looming feeling of frustration and it continued to build for the rest of the day until I was well and truly sulking by bedtime. I’d had a really nice evening in Bristol with Chris’s family on Saturday and was sensible and drove home, forcing me to stick to lime and sodas all night. But I was still exhausted in the morning and slept in, which didn’t exactly get me off to a great start, work-wise. And then I spent the day faffing about and allowing myself to be distracted by anything and everything.

What makes me really mad is that it is entirely my own fault. But I had that kind of paralysing panic about my workload (and specifically my dissertation for some reason). Panic can sometimes be motivating. At other times, I guess it just makes you shut down and pretend it isn’t happening. And another excuse – I’m finding the very distant deadline (November) almost unreal and still haven’t really acknowledged that there is more than enough work to do to fill that time. On Saturday night, I dreamt that I bumped into my dissertation tutor (the terrifyingly fierce Janet Askew) and she gave me a bollocking for not having sent her any work yet. It is obviously weighing on my mind…

I didn’t sleep well last night and I’m so tired today I can barely keep my eyes open. Chris tells me I was kicking and humming (quite an upbeat tune, apparently, although he couldn’t identify it). I don’t remember it or remember dreaming anything that might have caused me to be so restless. Things are generally going well for me at the moment but even so I feel…well, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Not quite happy.

(Apologies to my more sensitive male readers for the following paragraph.) It reminds me a little of how I felt when I was 17 and my life was dominated by pretty dreadful PMT. At that time, I was prescribed the contraceptive pill and it changed my life and made it bearable for friends and family to spend time with me. Just over a year ago, I stopped taking it because of my rising blood pressure and regular migraines and, well, I’m back to being 17 again (although the paranoia has gone – or maybe I’m just dealing a little better with it these days).

Up and down. Up and down.

Also, there was a great debate on public art on Radio 4 this morning (and by “great” I mean “laughable”) and I was going to write about that instead. But this just sort of took over.

Happy

On the whole, I’ve had quite a nice week this week. I bunked Personal & Professional Development at uni on Wednesday and got home nice and early whilst it was still sunny. I had a drink or two with Simon on Thursday and we talked about our usual high brow things (of course). I met Cat S. for lunch on Friday and we did a bit of shopping because we both had the afternoon off. I nearly bought a brown tweed jacket with a HUGE belt reduced from £80 but didn’t because I’m supposed to be broke. And then last night, I went to Omar’s, drank a nice Cab Sauv and watched the first three episodes of jPod, which is great. I can see why Coupland was pleased with it.

There have been some pretty crap bits too. But maybe because of the glorious weather or because of the nice time spent with friends, I’m feeling really contented today.