Busy As A Bee

Life has been extremely busy recently. Whilst that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it has been proving difficult to get anything done. Well anything that isn’t my work.

I work in a warehouse, and my department is in its annual post-Christmas busy rush. It always feels weird saying that, because most businesses who have retail connections hope for business before Christmas. January is the busiest time of the year, as my department is focused on customer returns. In other words, it is a little crazy. I am working 50 hour weeks, which is leaving me knackered. But that’s not all.

I also have an assessment due in a few weeks for my Uni course. And, due to technical issues over the festive period (my PC died), I have fallen behind. I am learning JavaScript, well, learning bits of JavaScript. It is interesting, and I do love doing it, but it is a LOT of work. I am expected to do 20 hours minimum of studying every week. On top of the 50 hours of work… it feels like there isn’t enough hours in the day.

It is why I feel like everything else has fallen aside, purely because I am exhausted. I haven’t had much time for meeting friends, or do anything social. Which, gets old really fast. It is only temporary. More money means, I can pay my new computer off quicker, and finally get a new car. It is a pain, but it will be worth it.

Things I like :The Bucky Bombs-Bombs Away

In 2023, I want to start using this blog for a bit more than my constant whining. And, I am going to do that by sharing things that I like. The kind of stuff that makes a person smile or laugh, and forget the mundanity of life, even for just 15 minutes or an hour. These things are what gives us that mental push to carry on with our day. So today, it is Monday, and I couldn’t think of any better way to kick things off, that to talk about something music related.

That music related thing, is Fife band, The Bucky Bombs’ brand new, self-released album, Bombs Away.

The band consist of trio Jim Russell, Alan Yule, and Kyle Duffy, who play their own brand of ‘Fife Melodic Hardcore’. What is that? Well think of the musicality of The Ramones, with a twist of NoFx’s self-awareness, a lot of Buckfast, and references to the Kingdom known as Fife. The music is fun, catchy, and will really put a bounce in your step.

I remember, to my youth, where I would sing along to Rancid, rattling out place names for locations I had no idea about. It always gives me a wee thrill to hear musicians writing songs about places that I actually know, never mind sharing jokes about them. Songs about wanting to leave Cowdenbeath, taking ones love to Kelty beach, and an ode to the Garden City of Rosyth.

Technically the album is superb. The great thing about technology, is that with the right hands, independent albums can be lifted to the same quality as major label releases. And this is where I think this album excels. Between Kyle’s great drumming, Jim’s thumping bass, and Alan’s blinding guitar, everything is worked together masterfully. Everything is smooth, all the instruments have equal footing, and the vocals blend seamlessly, which is where I often find indie recordings can fall down.

Become pals with The Bucky Bombs and find out about upcoming shows here.


Avoidance

I have lots of university work to do, and as usual, I am skipping around the bits that I am struggling with. Which, with JavaScript, happens quite a lot. I end up doing things that are not the most productive activities. They are normally tasks that need to be done, but ones that are not so important in the grand scheme of things. So what are these things?

  1. Cleaning up my email inbox. I get so many junk emails, every website these days wants your email dress for you to use their service. I have different email addresses, all from different stages of my life. One that I have from when I was younger and created ones with stupid music related names, one a name when I wanted to started my own business, and then one when I needed to have a ‘proper’ email address for work applications. One of my inboxes had over 40,000 emails in it. So in the true spirit of avoidance, I went through deleting them all.
  2. Going through all the guides on how to do things on my new MacBook. As much as I have always wanted an Apple computer, and have used one before, I don’t know all the ins and outs of the system. So, I have been reading the manuals and information so that I actually know how to work it properly. Including all the hacks and shortcuts. I have always owned windows computers, so it is a lot more challenging that I originally believed.
  3. Scrolling through TikTok. As much as it gets flack for being a bad influence on kids, it really is the only social media that makes me laugh. The problem is that the timeline on the app is never ending, so you can be scrolling fGor a long period of time, without really noticing how much time has passed.
  4. Google stupid stuff. Do you know that if you google any of the Friends main character names, you get a wee secret picture or animation? Yeah, looking up random stuff is a thing that can be great fun. Look up a TV show you like, and you click on one thing, then another. I always end up finding out something random and interesting, and it’s quite fun falling down a rabbit hole.
  5. Write a blog post. That is normally what I do when I am stuck, write about something. Distract myself for a wee bit, as writing has always helped me feel a little bit better. It is really therapeutic when things are getting on top of me. And at least that distraction is kind of productive, for once.

When I talk to people I know, avoidance seems to be a problem that everyone deals with. But some people seem to have a bigger problem with it, that others. I, for example, get completely rerouted when I find a distraction, and sometimes find it difficult to get back to the task that I actually need to do. I end up just getting annoyed by myself.

I Doubt It

For me, every New Year starts off with me aiming to be nicer to myself. Try to be kinder to myself, no matter what is going on around me. Because if you are more forgiving towards yourself, things become a lot easier to solve. Or, so I have read, anyway. And, I always try to be positive, a bit ‘shit happens to everyone’, kind of attitude. Think less PMA, and more not hating myself over every silly little thing.

First real obstacle is that I lost my house keys a few days ago. Have spent the last few days looking everywhere for them. They are very noticeable, as they have a bell on a keyring. This is because I like large bags, which means the house keys fall to the bottom of said bag. So if I have a bell, it helps me find them easier. Except, when they are nowhere to be found. I have searched everywhere I had been the last day I had my keys. The house, the garden, put a message on Facebook, sent a email to Stagecoach, in case I left them on the bus. Nothing has been found.

This is where I get like ‘how stupid am I to lose something as important as keys’. I get really angry with myself, because I should know better. In the last few days, I have had multiple panic attacks over being so bloody stupid. I have been struggling to sleep over it, because I feel like I can’t even do the most basic thing. I have had a look around the house again this evening, and it’s lead to me having another panic attack, and then sitting on the floor and crying.

Hopefully, if I can write things down, the rational thoughts will stay behind. Probably not. I’ll just end up grumpy and irritable. Which is what always happens. Hooray for crappy mental health. It’s exhausting.

New year, new… computer.

It’s 2023. Surprise surprise.

Bet you didn’t see that coming. I hope that you have a good festive season, and are all ready to throw everything into making 2023 better than 2022. It is okay if you are going into the new year with a roll of your eyes, and a sigh of ‘here we go again’. I don’t know if it is my age, or if it is purely that the last few years have felt so long and full of rubbish. But, I am here. As are you. And that is something worth celebrating.

So, how to celebrate. I will be honest, I haven’t really got the stomach for drinking a lot these days. A beer or two is okay, but not at every opportunity I get. So, I had to think. What would be helpful. Ideally, it would be a new car, as my old car failed its MOT last year, but life isn’t that straight forward. Something else always comes in the way. For me, it is that my old computer packed in, with the screen getting dead pixels, and now the screen is flickering constantly. So, I decided to order a new laptop, a MacBook, using a payment plan on Amazon. Which is a great way to get things, as you can pay the item up over 5 months, interest free.

It sounds really stupid, but since I used a Mac at college, when I was studying Art at college, I began craving a Mac computer. They don’t seem to be ‘bogged down’ as much by operating software issues. That is maybe just me, but I find Windows as a software gets quite clunky, and uses up a lot of memory by simply running. As said, it is maybe my own stupidity which caused my computer to run slow, but I did have it for almost 10 years, so it was on its last legs. It’s also maybe what I get for not spending a lot of money for a computer that I use for studying a lot. Anyway, I feel happy that I have something that I have wanted for years, and that it works like I hoped.

Now it means, I get it on with studying for my degree, without having to fight with my computer to run everything I need. As, I sometimes need to jump between different bits of software, and that seems to work great on my new computer. So, because I find it easier to run, I hope that means my productivity will be better. But, we shall see.

I hope you have had a great start to 2023.

Where Are We, Again?

You’ve probably seen multiple articles this week, all proclaiming that no one knows what day it is at all. It’s because many people are off work, and between Christmas and New Year, the days just meld into each other.

It’s not quite so bad when you are working during this period. Though, it is annoying when it feels like everyone else is lounging at home in their PJs, and you are back to the grind. However, I focus on the fact that it means I save my holidays for when I need them.

This time of year is a good time for catching up with friends, or to simply relax. It is nice being able to relax, especially as December tends to be one of the more manic months of the year. It is also more challenging than ever, with wages being stagnant, whilst bills get ever-higher. This winter has already been cold, and it looks like it will get cold again in the new year.

It’s very easy to feel defeated by it all, so try and be kind to yourself. Nothing has to be perfect, as the media like to portray, because nothing is that perfect. Not really. So, give yourself a break. Look for something, no matter how small, that makes you happy. It could be a tv show on tv, or your favourite band releasing a new song. Maybe you made your own dinner or did the dishes. The world is a tough place, so try to focus on the positives, as they can help us through the tough stuff.

If I can’t see it, it can’t exist

I always have a to-do list for my day. Usually something that I created on my phone’s note app. Just a wee way to organise things that I have to do during my day. It can be however detailed I need it to be. If it needs to say ‘go food shopping’ it’s fine, and sometimes it can be ‘put on socks’. It’s like, depending on my mood, the tasks I have to can seem really normal, or really insignificant;y stupid. It usually helps me take a mental note of what it is I have to do during my day.

However, most of the time, these to-do lists end up half done. I always start off well, but normally one thing takes a little more effort, and the remainder of the list is forgotten about. And then I just feel really bad about not doing what I had planned. It’s all rather sad. But, if I don’t make note of a list to do things, then nothing gets done. At all.

So, I write my list of tasks for the day. And no matter how small the steps are, if I want to do my hobbies, like read, write, or play my Nintendo Switch, I have to add them to my to-do list. Because, even though hobbies are things I enjoy doing, my brain thinks of them as ‘just another task’, something that I simply won’t do if it isn’t sat beside my other tasks for me to mentally tick off.

It all feels rather pedantic, if I was to be honest, but it is how I seem to get things done. Like today, I had writing a journal entry on my wee list. And it, along with ‘sorting through DVDs’ and ‘do the dishes’, can be marked as completed. This means that I should be able to focus on getting my uni assessment done for the rest of the afternoon. I am full aware, that I do have a tendancy to add to my list, if I can avoid the one thing I actually need to do. But at least there is a chance for it to be done, if it sits on the list patiently waiting it’s turn.

Sick of it All

A couple of weeks ago, I had an assessment due for my University course. I am studying IT, and the assessment included programming a website, and a report on said website. It was something I put entire days into, so that I could be happy with any result. As calm as I seemed to be, I was internally in a ‘bit of a state’. But, I was able to submit on time, so it was okay on that front. However, because I was so hyper focused on it, I wasn’t able to rest whilst doing the assessment. So for days, was thinking about it constantly, at work, watching tv, in bed… I couldn’t switch off. So when I had submitted, my body could relax. This meant, I picked up a bug. And by the end of the week, I had a cough.

This cough got worse, making my physically sick, as well as causing a temperature. So I laid low for the weekend, planning on returning to work as normal on Wednesday. I went to work, but still had a hideous cough. The problem was, I was supposed to be training people, which meant a lot of talking. I could do very little talking, so I had to ‘call in sick’. I didn’t want to, I had slept so little that I actually ended up crying over letting people down. That is a major trigger for my anxiety, letting people down. I want to be reliable, and I can’t help but feel rotten when I have to miss something .

I am sitting here, in my house, over a week later, and still having a horrific cough. It means I can’t sleep. It means I can’t eat full meals as I am sick. It’s not a nice situation to be in. I spend my days scrolling through TikTok, where I quickly picked up that there seems to be a lot of cold/flu virus floating around. Lot’s of people seem to be getting sick. Whilst that doesn’t make me feel any better, it eases my anxiety slightly as other folk are taking a while to recover too.

The worry I do have, is that my medication for my rheumatoid arthritis lowers your immune system. So, I am worried that I’ll pick up every bug going, and become sick a lot this winter. I just have to keep taking multi-vitamins, make sure I dress well, and carry a mask around if I see anyone with a cough. I have to be very careful, as the winter has only just begun.

I’m counting down the days till Spring, already.

Work It

I work full-time in a warehouse, 40-50 hours a week, standing on my feet every day. As much as I try to look at the benifits that a physical job can bring (25,000+ steps a day), I feel like I should be doing something better, be building some kind of career. I have seen myself ‘window shopping’ for something a bit more developmental. But after 9 years in my current job, I find jumping into the unknown of that new job, is something that I really don’t have the disposition to currently deal with.

My job is currently 4 days a week, as stantard. I often work an extra day, to try and get the extra money required for the things I want (i.e. a new car). Even with that extra day, I have 2 days off work a week. A weekend that falls on a Sunday/Monday, and allows me to plan to have a life. Note: as much as I do plan for a life, I often flake out on most things, and do a whole lot of nothing instead.

So as much as I would like to not work in a warehouse for the rest of my life, the standard, reliable shift pattern helps me. My brain isn’t very great at dealling with stuff that changes, especially without me having any notice of said changes. In fact, work is the one routine that I keep. I am forever missing appointments, be them doctors or otherwise. Because I feel like I know my job, and am mentally comfortable in the enviroment, it means I actually find the routine helpful for my mental health.

What is the answer? How do I give myself the challenge that I feel my life is missing? After some reading around different possibilities, I landed on the Open University a few years back. Maybe try to study something, so that I would be able to get more opertunities, maybe even in my current workplace. So I started an IT and Computing degree. There has been a few roadbumps along the way, as I struggled with my mental health. This month, however, I have started Level 2 of my degree. For part-time learning, 2 units are taken a year. There are 4 units in each level, and there are 3 levels. So,I am about half way through. The problem has been that the work load is a tad more than what I had planned for (someone doesn’t read things properly).

The University says that it should take about 20 hours a week to get through the course material (10 hours per unit). This is a lot, when working full time. Not too much, just means I have to be disciplined and do my studying when I plan to. Luckily, I am enjoying the material, so it is not as hard as I thought actually working through the material.

I like this new challenge, and hopefully I am still able to combine it with work. I just hope it stays being a challenge I can do.