Here We Go…

Today marks not only the first full day of my life in Kidwelly, but also the first day of my renewed commitment to writing every day. There won’t be a video with this article, since my headset is still at my Grandparents house, packed and ready to be brought here on the next trip.

For those that don’t know, I’ve moved to Kidwelly in south Wales. My parents live here, along with my sister and her daughters. I’m hoping that the happiness I feel being with my family again will help me counter the recent spike in my anxiety levels. The fact that Kidwelly is a much smaller, and by all accounts much friendlier, town should help also. I don’t have to be worried about my safety leaving the house, and I certainly don’t need to worry about running into anyone that used to pick on me in school.

Its a little silly that a 37 year old man should still feel nervous about bullies, but I do. It might even be that the reason I’ve been feeling so anxious lately is due to a denial of my true nature. I was always shy as a child, but I should be confident and assertive to get anywhere in life. I’ve been pretty good at convincing others that I’m outgoing, including myself, but recent events have forced me to recognise that deep down I’m still the same shy kid I always was.

I’m still determined to be a successful writer, I’m just going to have to do it as I am. I don’t seem to be able to fake it anymore, at least not without being aware that it’s fake. I can feel my inner self pouting at the very thought of it. This is very frustrating since I still need to work at a day-job of some kind. I have a job lined up working as bar/restaurant staff. Exactly the kind of job that requires you to be outgoing.

I’m honestly dreading it. I’m hoping one of the call-centre jobs I applied for offers me a position before I have to start at the bar. It’s not an ideal job. It’s a caravan park. It’s about a 20 minute walk from town, on country roads. No pavement. No streetlights. I’ll be coming home in the dark, and for at least two months of the year, it’ll only be part-time.

I know I should “suck it up, buttercup” and get on with it like a grown up. ‘We don’t always get what we want’, ‘at least it’s a job’, etc. I don’t wanna! I sound like a whiny entitled brat, but I’m not sure that it’s such a bad thing to want to work in a jib that suits your personality. In fact, most of the management books I’ve read suggest finding employees with compatible personality traits. I’m not doing myself or the business any favours by putting on an act.

A business relationship is like any other. If you’re dishonest, you’ll be found out, and the relationship will be over. On the other hand, maybe I should just go for it. It might be one of those ‘it was fun while it lasted’ sort of relationships. I can drop it when something better comes along. However, those kind of relationships (particularly when they’re the romantic kind, but also the working kind) always leave me feeling like a shitty human being.

I’d much rather not have to go into the job pretending I’m something I’m not. That includes having to pretend I want the job. I applied at the caravan park because I thought it was in the town of Kidwelly. It really isn’t. I also wanted the supervisor job, so I’d be making use of my education, experience and training, but they offered me team-member instead. There was also no cellphone service there when they had their recruitment day. It would be nice to be able to call my Dad or Sister for a ride home if the weather is bad, or it there’s an emergency.

Maybe I’m just getting new job jitters. Maybe it’ll all work out. Perhaps I’ll make a new friend working there that’s willing and able to drive me to work. Perhaps I’ll get fitter and the walk won’t leave me feeling like a wheezing old man stinking of sweat. There’s an elliptical exercise machine in the room I’m staying in. If I use that each morning it should help.

Perhaps I’ll make enough money on the side from writing that I’ll be able to save up and cover the short-fall during the off-season. That way I’ll be able to afford to rent the flat I’ve been looking at. I might also find a better job, or be writing full-time. Who knows? I know there’s no point in worrying about things that may never be an issue, but expecting everything will go well seems naive, and a setup for failure.

I suppose I could try to not expect anything, good or bad, and just take it as it comes and roll with the punches. That way I can avoid the “I knew it!” moment, or the sense of impending doom while I wait for something to go wrong. If anyone knows how I can teach myself this trick, I’d be happy to hear it!

I’ve been writing this article a few lines at a time for most of the day now. My plan is to write a new article every Saturday, post the next part of ‘The City of Gate’ (a forum-style RPG on Facebook) on Sunday, work on a short story submission on Monday, then on Tuesday I work on ‘The Haunted Story’, the writing guide on Wednesday, ‘Hermes925’ on Thursday, and ‘Leveling Up’ on Friday. Technically it’s now Sunday since it’s a quarter after midnight, so I’d better wrap this up!

I have to do at least an hour’s writing each day, and I’m using ‘The Book Factory’ and my family to help hold me to it. Even if I’m exhausted from work. 1 hour. I’ve spent more than an hour on this, but I have been writing only a few lines at a time throughout the day. In fact, I’ll finish this in the morning. I’m tired. 🙂


Awake again. My family go to church. My Dad’s the Vicar (Priest), so he has to. Mum runs the Sunday school (or ‘Messy Church’ as they call it). Today they’re building a temple out of cardboard boxes. Mum asked me yesterday to come along and help. I really don’t want to, but how do I say no? I feel bad even typing this knowing that she’s probably going to read this. She always reads my articles.

I think it’s mostly because I’m still figuring things out. For a long time I thought being shy was a bad thing and I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to be proactive and bold instead. However, I still tend to ignore things I don’t like instead of doing anything about it. I let myself be swept along instead of fighting the current. I worry that if I go along with this I’ll never achieve anything, and that I’ll be okay with never achieving anything.

It would make life a lot easier I suppose. To stop trying so hard and just go along for the ride. I may not ever become the successful writer I want to be, but at least I would avoid the struggle, and the pressure of success. Instead of facing and overcoming my fear of failure, and my fear of success (if I actually become successful then people will come to expect things of me, an I may not be able to sustain it), I could just accept my meek, shy, and wimpy self, and let life/God/whatever take over.

It feels like giving up. If I go to church, I might find myself becoming attracted to the lifestyle Christianity offers. I might decide that being a sheep is far easier than trying to be a wolf. Live a quiet life, don’t make any waves, and go to Heaven, remembered only by a handful of people with kind, generic, words.

 

Sadly, it’s sort of appealing. I worry thought that there will always be a part of me that knows I took the easier path. That I gave up. Would I still become I writer if I get involved with the church? I know that if I get involved I’ll feel like a hypocrite. Unless I allow myself to believe in God again (I used to when I was a kid), and ignore everything that caused me to turn away from Christianity in the first place.

I’m not sure I can do it. Pretend to be Christian, allow people to assume I’m Christian, or publicly convert to Christianity because it would be easier. All of the options seem bad. I do wonder though if my belief that organised religion is a form of mind control to keep the population from competing with the ambitious is still valid now that I know that my shyness is not something I can get away from. It’s either genetic, or so deeply ingrained that I haven’t successfully overcome it.

I noticed I didn’t say ‘can’t’, which I find reassuring. It implies I still believe it’s possible. There’s also a possibility that none of this will be an issue. I’ll go help out with messy church and feel no obligation at all to be Christian or help indoctrinate the kids. I’ll meet some nice people, and begin to make some connections in the community.

I may even find more people interested in my writing, preferably interested enough to ask me ‘How’s the writing going?’ or ‘When’s the next part of Hermes925 out?’ every time they see me. However, I’ve learned not to put too much faith in people. It invariably leads to disappointment. I probably need to lower my standards. Learn to be more accepting of people as they are, instead of expecting them to live up to their potential. This includes myself.

Perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I wasn’t a success. Perhaps living a normal, mundane life surrounded by nice people is okay. I really hope they’re nice.

This article has been a lot more unguarded than usual. We’ll see what sort of feedback I get.

Have a great day.

 

 

 

 

Wales and Wellness

New Year, fresh start! I’m getting out of my emotional slump, and also out of the tiny box room, out of the depressing night-job, and out of this bad-memory riddled town!

I spent most of last week in Kidwelly visiting my family. I’ve thought about moving there before, but this time I’m going to do it. I think I was worried that if I lived nearer to my parents, in particular my Mum, I’d simply give up trying to be an independent adult and allow her to run my life for me. My mother is a self-confessed control freak, but that doesn’t mean I’ll automatically default to a child-like role.

I realise now that this idea was planted in my head during a previous relationship. A relationship that is now officially, legally, 100% over! Woohoo! I might have the letter from the courthouse framed! It doesn’t automatically undo everything we both went through together, but it does help me to severe any remaining emotional and psychological ties.

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To be fair, I do have some childlike tendencies. 

Speaking of psychology. Moving to Kidwelly will mean having to cancel my place on the waiting list for CBT. However, I feel confident (at the moment) that I can find similar therapy in Wales, and use self-directed cognitive therapy techniques. The phone conversation already validated my suspicions that I’m dealing with anxiety, and that the anxiety may be a result of mild autism.

The more I talk to people on the autism spectrum, and to people who have autistic friends and family, the more sure I am that the difficulties I sometimes have communicating with ‘normal’ people, particularly groups, is due to this. However, I’ve learned various tricks to allow me to talk to individuals.

I have no problems in a customer service or sales role because I’m usually dealing with a one-on-one conversation, and I’ve learned to read facial expressions, body language and tone to make sure I understand. I’m also very good at using my own body language and tone to lead the conversation where I want.

I do tend to automatically try to figure out what the right thing to say is though, even in casual conversation. I think that’s why I like blogging. I can just say what I want to say without feeling like I need to modify the message for the person I’m talking to. I do write with a particular audience in mind from time to time (like the ones about ghostwriting that are meant for for potential clients, or the articles I write for Games n Geekery), but most of the time I just write whatever comes to mind. Unfiltered.

It’s freeing being able to speak my mind. I don’t often feel like I can in conversations. Talking to people seems like an elaborate dance I don’t know all the moves to, constantly watching for clues to avoid stepping on toes. Like I said, this works well when talking to customers and you have to choose your words carefully to close the deal, or at least have them going away with a positive opinion of the company you represent. Not so good when you’re trying to make friends.

I often feel like no-one really knows me, because I tell them what they want to hear instead of what I want to say. The more important the relationship, the harder I try to make them happy, and the less I express my true self. I tend to be more honest with people that don’t matter to me, ironically. This initial candour though can then lead to them becoming important, and then I fall back into audience-pleasing behaviour!

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I have two more packets of them that I’ll think I’ll save for the new place!

I have trouble disappointing people. The fear of letting everyone down can often prevent me from making choices that would be in my best interests. Sometimes though, my own needs burst forth in a sudden rush of activity. Suddenly, I’ll have to do something selfish. It was one of these outbursts that ended my marriage. Another that brought me back to England, and I think this decision to move to Wales is another example.

I felt genuinely happy for the slightly-more-than-three days I was in Kidwelly. I haven’t smiled so naturally or laughed so easily for a long time. I don’t honestly know when I last felt like I could just be myself like that. Even the other people we talked to down there, I was just myself. No masks. No performances to make a good impression. Just me.

It may not last, but if there’s a chance that I can just me happy, and my true self there, I have to give it shot. I’ve already applied for several jobs in the area, and I’ve even checked out a flat above my parents’ favourite cafe. I’d have a job there too if I was a chef, but I’m not.

I’m looking for work that will encourage me to talk to people. That way, even if I end up hermitting in the flat the rest of the time, I’ve at least socialised a little. I may even make some friends. My sister has already promised to get me out of the house every now and then. 🙂

By the way, the microphone featured in the video is a Xiaokoa mini-microphone. The instructions read as if they were badly translated, and the setup instructions don’t work on my laptop. I could at least find it in the devices list on my mini-pc (bought recently to replace the laptop when it finally dies), but it still doesn’t pick up my voice clearly enough to be of any use. Oh well. At least it was cheap.

I forgot how long it takes to upload video. I was hoping to have this article finished and posted hours ago, but I’m still waiting for the video! It’s not a flashy video either. I don’t know how to create title screens and background music, etc. It’s just me talking. I may up the production value later if I ever feel inclined to learn. I passed a little time by taking pictures of things in my room and adding them.

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Cuddle buddies!

I have to go to work in two hours. I should be napping, but I’m feeling anxious and can’t sleep. I’ve heard from two other employees, both of whom have quit, that the hotel isn’t paying our taxes in. They’re probably just doing a little creative book-keeping. Using the money to buy the Christmas decorations and extras food and booze, with the intention of using the profits from the Christmas season to pay the arrears. However, I still need to investigate so that I don’t end up in trouble.

I also got a call just before I went to bed (3 hours ago) reminding me when I’m scheduled. He said that he wanted to be sure the night-porters, plural, were coming. This makes me wonder if both of us are scheduled, and if so, is it because there’s a lot that needs to be caught up on after the holiday, or is it because they’re packed full of people?

January is supposed to be dead, so I hope that it’s just that the place is a pigsty and needs two people to clean up. It would be even better if he just misspoke, and that it’s just a regular, non-crazy Sunday night requiring just one of us. I guess I’ll find out. I’ve already taken a dose of the flower essences my Mum mixed up for me to help me when I’m feeling anxious. Hopefully it will keep me from having a full panic attack if the place is crowded.

Even if everything else falls through, I need to get out of that job. Anyway, the video is finally loaded. Time to put the finishing touches to the article and start getting ready for work.

Have a great day.

 

 

 

 

Life Goes On

I’m feeling pretty good. Despite a couple of downers. It occurs to me as I’m writing that these mood cycles, whatever they are, allow me to see situations I’m in from both a positive and negative perspective, allowing me some insight that not everyone can perceive. Perhaps my mood swings aren’t random at all, but are in fact a deliberate cognitive function that allows me to get a view of a problem from all sides?

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Take my job for example. For the most part it’s pretty enjoyable, but there are several things that bother me about it. By sinking low and allowing some of these irritants to actually effect me, it was made clear to me that the situation really isn’t ideal. Despite the fact it’s only a 10 minute walk from home, and I generally like the people.

The hope was to find a job that didn’t take up all my time, or would be relaxed and understanding about my desire to take notes and write while I work. I have achieved neither of these things. I was hoping for 20-30 hours, and often end up with 35-40. Not such a big deal, at least I’m making more money.

The big irritant is that the owner wants us keeping busy. I have no problem with actually keeping busy and self-management. However I like to be trusted to get everything done without him watching us on CCV and giving us a stern talking to for taking 5-15 minutes talking to a customer. I know that I would never be able to get away with pulling out my phone and saving notes for an idea I just had. For one there’s a strict “no phones” rule.

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He wants us to work our asses off doing what he thinks we should be working on, and doesn’t respect our ability to make observations and take initiative. Or respect our need to snatch a few minutes downtime when ever we can during our shift so that we don’t burn ourselves out. He acknowledges that he doesn’t pay us much. Minimum wage. However, he points out (quite correctly) that we have chosen to work for him at that rate, and if we don’t want to work hard, then we won’t be working for him.

It’s a brilliant trap. Paying staff just enough that they have to keep working, and acquiescing to his demands, in order to pay bills. However, I don’t need a job desperately like most do. I’m lucky enough to be living with my grandparents rent free. My money is going into my current account. I’m using some of it to buy food, games and other treats, but most of it is just sitting there.

My plan is to built up a grand first, as a buffer, and then start making some of my money work for me. At first I was considering showing my boss a little faith and asking if I could invest half of my wages back into the company. I figured that, whatever the return, it would be better than a current account. Alas he turned me down since the company is a partnership. Just him and his son (who’s pretty cool).

He did suggest I look into Ernie bonds though, and buy them in blocks of 500-1000. The money is still yours, still usable, but there’s a chance you can win anything from twenty pounds to a million. The more of these £1 bonds you have, the greater chance you’ll win. It’s pretty awesome, so after I get the grand buffer, I’m going to try saving up another grand to buy Ernie bonds.

I’m pretty sure I can do better than minimum wage, or have fewer hours, or be able to write a little during downtime elsewhere. I may have to sacrifice the convenient commute, but I’m getting sick of being treated like nothing I try to do will ever be enough. I got enough of that when I was married! I’ve already proven to myself in the former situation that I can do better.

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Merry Christmas!

Maybe I’ll have to put up with it through xmas, but yeah. I need a different job. The low showed me how bad it was, the higher mood I’m in now has given me the confidence and self-respect to know I deserve better. These funny moods might actually be useful!

In other news, my Dad and my Sister drove all the way to Dalton-in-Furness, from Kidwelly, and I got hang out with them after work yesterday. Five hours of comfortable company, a great meal and better conversation. Dad told me he’s the happiest he’s ever been in his life. He loves it in Kidwelly, and he’s getting a promotion! I’m proud of him. My sister seems really happy too. It was disappointing that they had to leave so early the next day, but not crushingly so. Seeing them and knowing they’re doing well was really nice.

It’s possible that my current improvement in mood has something to do with a girl. If it’s not just coinciding with my brain’s mood cycle. 🙂

Choose your own adventure

In A Box

The spare room I have been sleeping in is now lined with boxes, as are most of the rooms of the house. The moving company came today and packed almost everything, and they’ll be coming back tomorrow with the moving truck to take it all to the new Vicarage in Kidwelly.

It’s a strange idea to me, hiring a company to pack all your stuff for you and move it. I knew you could hire people to move your stuff, but to pack it for you too? I’ve always packed it myself. The process allows me to decide what to keep and what to discard. I haven’t even used a moving company, ever. I have always just rented a truck, relying on helpful friends to load it up. Then driven it myself to the new location, trusting in other friends to help me unload at my destination.

I thought it best that Dad and I be elsewhere while strangers invaded the house. Luckily he had some errands to run anyway, so I didn’t even have to try to convince him. We left before they got here. We got his church stuff done, which including him saying ‘goodbye’ to the oldest church in his parish. I teared up a little. Then we went to Kidwelly to drop off the printers and adjust the power cords on Tarragon’s vivarium.

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Tarragon is my Dad’s bearded dragon (a lizard), that we had brought up to Kidwelly the day before. The timer that controls the uv lamp and heat lamp  wouldn’t fit on the power strip, so we had to put everything on the timer. Today we brought additional extensions and splitters to be able to set it up properly.

When we got back the packers had already left, my duvet was in a box, and it finally looks like we’re moving. I’ve been saying that it’s my family that’s moving and I’m just helping, but really it feels like we all are. My family home is relocating. I actually really like it here in Wales, and I’m beginning to wonder if I should go live in Dalton at all.

To catch up those who haven’t read my other posts on the subject. The plan, after moving to the UK and spending some time with my immediate family, was to then travel north to Dalton-in-Furness. A small town just north of, and practically connected with, Barrow-in-Furness. I grew up in Barrow. I still have friends there, but it’s a grim town and I never want to live there again.

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I really should go. My Grandparents are expecting me to move into the bungalow in Dalton. They’ve already modified the box room to be able to fit a bed and a desk in there. My friends are also expecting me. They all stayed in touch during my time in America. It would be unfair to all of them to change my plans now.

On the other hand, Wales in beautiful. The house in Kidwelly has a fantastic view of the town, including Kidwelly Castle. And, if I’m really being honest here, I don’t want to leave my parents and sister again. We were apart for 12 years while I lived in america. I’ve only been back about a month. The difference though is that now I can come back anytime. I could spend a few months with my Grandparents and see how I feel, then come back to Wales if choose to.

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There’s also my Sister’s daughters. An adorably cute pair. One of the reasons I wanted to come back was to be their Uncle. I want to take an active role in their lives, or at the very least be available to them. I can’t ever be Dad myself so being a kick-ass Uncle will have to do. So I will go to Dalton to visit, catch up with my friends and family up there, and then decide whether I’m staying or coming back to Kidwelly.

In other news I’ve made a new Facebook friend! Geoffrey Porter is a writer too, and has a blog called Codename: Bear. So far my favourite stories are Potato Vengeance and Necropsy. They appeal to my own morbidity! However that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read, enjoy and follow his blog!

Gods Dammit Dad!

I had another great day with my Dad. We had to go back to Kidwelly to get some measurements we missed last time we went to (what will soon be) my parents new home. We decided to come through Carmarthen on the way back to see if I could grab an unlocked phone from a good price from their Game store. We reasoned that it would have a bigger store and a better selection, since it’s a bigger city.

The Kidwelly mission went well, in fact it went much better than we expected. Stuart from Extreme Tree Services was already at the house cutting back the overgrown vegetation. Dad got a chance to go over some of what they wanted done, which was lucky because we had no idea that they were going to be there! The house is getting fixed up for us by the Church in Wales, since Dad is moving to Kidwelly to minister at St. Mary’s (and I think he’ll be in charge of a few others also). They arranged for Stuart to come this week. It was just luck or divine providence that had us show up while they were there. We even found out that, hidden among the overgrown trees was a plastic playhouse for the kids!

We popped into Burn’s Farm Shop on the way out of town. Dad needed his coffee levels restored. You may recall me describing their amazing playground and cafe in a previous article. Follow the ‘last time’ link above if you don’t. 🙂 As I waiting for Dad to order his coffee. A waitress looked up at me and smiled. She did so again later when she came to our table with Dad’s order. She’s a cute little redhead. Dad noticed the smile.

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I’m 36 and living with my parents. I have no job, and no money until my writing career takes off. To make my writing career take off I need to spend time, everyday, working on my writing and developing my stories. In the short term I need to start writing short stories and getting them out to magazines that will pay me for them. I don’t have time, or even have anything to offer, for a romantic relationship right now.

If Dad had said nothing, I might have been able to forget that smile, that giggle in response to a throwaway line that wasn’t really funny. When Dad hints, he doesn’t just make one subtle comment. He stacks them up. Layer upon layer of subtle comments until he’s sure you get it, and then adds a couple more to be sure. Dammit Dad! It was a really cute smile though. I know we didn’t see her there last time. I don’t know her name. I need to stop thinking about her.

The rest of the day went well. I got myself a handset for the sim Mum is going to order. It’s an LG G4 Stylus. Still had all the factory stickers on it. Once I get the sim card I’ll have an awesome and fully functioning phone! I also got a new pair of clippers to replace the American ones that went pop when I last tried to use them.

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Dakka-dakka!

We even visited the local Games Workshop store where Mike (or is it Mark? Sorry!) and I had a good little talk about the possibility of rebuilding my Golden Sons Space Marine army. I had to sell them off to buy my plane ticket home. He even suggested I write for the Black Library (Games Workshop’s publishing house), which would be freaking awesome!

I’m really looking forward to the move to Kidwelly. I’ll be just a short train ride from Carmarthen so that I can mix it up with my fellow Warhammer geeks, perhaps get a few of them to follow my blog! We’ll be just around the corner from the Farm Shop though too. Trying to find the cute waitress again would be a terrible idea. I’ll just have to avoid the place to prevent myself from doing anything foolish. Especially since I won’t be there that long.

Dad wants to watch a movie together, and then I have to get working on a short story. Should I do the War on Magic? Throw some of my City of Gate chronicles together? Or should I write out the hold-up scene for The Lord Highwayman as a stand-alone short story? I could even do something Church of Daemonism related. What do you think?

If you make any comments regarding the redhead, please just tell me she has a boyfriend so I can drop it and move on. I have writing to do!