I never thought of that before

It’s been a strange few days.

My other half finished working at a local infant school on Friday. The end of nearly twelve years as “the lady in the office” – and apparently a huge figure in the childhood of hundreds of small children along the way. We’ve kind of gotten used to not being able to walk through town without somebody saying hello. She came home with armfuls of flowers, bottles of fizzy wine, and cards from staff, parents, and children.

Later in the evening she went out for a meal with the school staff, and I wandered along towards the end of the evening – not quite knowing what I might be walking into. I’m not quite sure how teachers do it, but they have a way about them – particularly infant school teachers. There’s a calmness. A kindness. It’s hard to put your finger on. They are without exception quite wonderful people, and I’m going to miss them tremendously – even though I only knew a few of them.

Promises were of course made at the end of the evening – to keep in touch – and to meet as friends rather than colleagues. It’s funny how that works. My other half did wonderfully well until the headteacher said goodnight – then suddenly the tears arrived – for both of them.

The new job starts on Monday, and no doubt dinner times over the weeks ahead will be filled with stories of new characters, new situations, and new challenges. We’re kind of looking forward to it – albeit somewhat apprehensively.

Today we’ve been pottering around the house – or at least we were until some good friend invited us to the pub for a drink. I often remark how lucky we are to have such good friends – and they now joke with me for saying it. Today in the middle of a pub garden on perhaps the last warm afternoon of the year they all sang out in unison “we love you Mr Beckett” (apparently I had told them I loved them all after the birthday party last week). I think they love how much of a colossal nerd I am, really – and that I seemed oblivious to the fact that I was at the pub with five women.

I’ve always found other people interesting. I could listen to other people’s stories all day (and all night, it often turns out – I’ve somehow become the person people talk to during struggles). I always remember standing on a railway platform with my eldest daughter in London when she was young, and pointing at the sea of people on the opposite platform…

“Look at each of those people. They all have their own hopes, dreams, and worries. They’re all perhaps looking forward to where they are going, or missing somebody, or have parents somewhere worrying about them, or children they’re looking forward to seeing”.

She looked at the sea of faces, and held my hand.

“I never thought of that before.”

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A minute here, a minute there

I continue to struggle finding time to write. A window of opportunity opened at lunchtime, but before I knew it one thing after another conspired to slam it shut.

I’m not sure I have much to write about.

I was programming all day again. Working on a project that will hopefully see daylight in the new year. I missed lunch again. I really need to start taking lunch breaks and going for a walk. Either that, or going for a walk either before, or after work.

When I worked in Germany I would go for breakfast as soon as the hotel restaurant opened in the morning, and then head into the city for a walk – watching the bakeries, cafes and newspaper shops opening for the day ahead. I would pass endless runners alongside the river – stomping out a rhythm as they passed me.

Perhaps I need to do something like that – breakfast in town. I wonder how much it might cost? Maybe not every day – but once a week?

We all know I’m going to wake up, look at the clock, and disappear back under the bedcovers, don’t we.

Still Here

Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated (if indeed there were any). I can’t remember the last time I let so many days go between blog posts. It’s all slightly surreal really. It’s not like I even missed writing – I just didn’t think about writing at all – which is even more odd really, given that I’ve been writing pretty consistently for the last twenty-something years.

I’ve just been busy, I guess. Busy working, busy tinkering with projects, and not chasing my tail as I have for far too long. One good friend reached out to me this past week, to see if I was ok – and I was quite taken aback to think anybody really thinks about me – or my absence.

As I said – I’m fine. I’m doing good.

I stopped running this week, after pulling a muscle in my backside. Stop laughing. I told you I wasn’t as fit any more – and pulling a muscle pretty much proved it. It started hurting while I was running the other day, and has taken the best part of a week to get better.

I haven’t reached out to distant friends in quite some time, and I feel awful about it. I need to do something about that tomorrow – climb out of my hole, dust myself down, and wave in their direction.

It’s 1am while writing this. I should probably go to bed. I’ll write again tomorrow, I promise. It’s kind of like getting on a horse, this writing business, isn’t it?

Back to Work

I won’t lie – there was a feeling of dread at 7am this morning when the alarm clock filled the bedroom with an internet radio station. I drifted in and out of sleep for a few more minutes before resigning myself to the day ahead.

I always find the first day back after I’ve been on holiday a bit of a struggle. There’s an apprehension of what I’m going to find on my return. Thankfully today was ok. I didn’t stop all day and there’s still a hill to climb, but it was ok.

The image accompanying this post makes me smile – I work from home – I don’t have a commute, a bag, a train, a bus, a walk, or anything like that. I used to cycle to work – before the pandemic. A three mile ride each way, each day. The office was sold, and we changed over to working from home.

Anyway.

I’m sitting in the junk room at home while the sky grows dark outside, trying to switch off for a while. I walked into town after dinner to buy some milk. There’s a store just around the corner, but given I hadn’t got any further than the kitchen all day, I thought a walk might be a good idea.

A Wilson Phillips playlist is filling the room with a compilation, courtesy of Spotify. There’s a lot of Beach Boys covers involved – I need to find a Beach Boys playlist – and a Monkees playlist. Music is SUCH a rabbit-hole with me.

The Weekend Approaches

The week is finally slowing down – affording me the chance to write a few words.

I’m heading into a quiet weekend – most of the family are going to the Commonwealth Games on Saturday to watch the rugby, and then the European football cup final on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

I’ll be hanging out at home with our eldest daughter. I predict horror movies, and all the movie snacks.

I have an admission to make. I stopped using my bullet journal a couple of months ago. While the routine of writing in a paper notebook does help me remember things, you cannot search it’s contents – which has become the primary use-case in my world.

After ditching the bullet journal, I went all-in on Microsoft OneNote – mainly because it kept all my work stuff under the work roof – locked away in their Microsoft 365 platform. I have to say though – OneNote is garbage. It’s kind of Microsoft’s un-loved child, that is going to be replaced soon with “something else” (that will take several versions until it becomes useable).

With that in mind, I started to switch over to “Notion” this week. I’ve played with it in the past. It’s kind of a clever mix between a notebook, and a database. I won’t mansplain it – if you’re interested in a free note taking app, go check it out – all manner of “influencers” found out about it last year, and started waxing lyrical about it.

Anyway. Enough geekery.

I’ve just been talking to my cousin in California – her kids are keen on playing Minecraft with ours, so I imagine I’m going to be teaching their Mom how Minecraft works, and getting everybody into a “Realm” soon. I have to admit – it’s going to be fun. I guess I should re-install Minecraft then…

In-between

I’ve had the strangest feeling recently – that I’m in-between. Not just work projects, or chores, or whatever else. Something bigger. Something you can’t quite describe, or relate to.

I’m not sure if it’s that I’m changing, that a change is happening around me, or I’m just becoming aware of something different.

It’s very odd.

In the past I’ve written about ends and beginnings – about the reciprocal nature of things. This feels more like a metamorphosis. I wonder if there’s something in-between ends and beginnings – not so final, and not so dramatic. A transformation of sorts.

Perhaps it’s to do with insight. Becoming aware. Observing. Taking notice.

Sometimes people talk about moments of clarity. Perhaps this is one of them – that I’ve noticed the shifting of the universe’s sands. It’s more a feeling than anything you might see, hear, or touch.

Like I said – it’s very odd.

Back to Work

It’s day five since the symptoms of COVID arrived like a car crash, and I’m back working. My brain is been in a bit of a fog for most of the day, but to be honest having something to get on with has been really good.

You know when you sit in the dead of night, and can hear the blood pumping through your ears? I have that sensation, but all the time. I can only imagine it’s my body’s way of saying “I’m working really hard here – just give me a few days”.

Main lesson of the last few days? Redbush tea with honey in it was the only thing I felt like drinking. I’ve found that for the last few years, when ill. Thankfully I’m rarely sick – but when I am, I can’t stomach coffee. Go figure.

I’m back drinking coffee today.

I wonder how much of the day one headache was caffeine withdrawal, and how much was COVID going on a wrecking-spree around my head?

Anyway.

Today has been a good day (so far). Let’s see how the evening goes.

Day Four

Based on the very unscientific method of counting back to when the aches and temperature first appeared, this is day four of COVID, and my body appears to be staging a remarkable fightback. As long as I sit quietly, the aches and pains appear to be leaving me alone. As soon as I try and do anything, my body starts overheating.

We’ll try to ignore that after everybody left the house this morning I snuck down to make a cup of tea and discovered similar devastation to yesterday. At least it only took me three quarters of an hour to clear up today.

The washing machine is on it’s second load so far. The dishwasher has been emptied and re-filled again (don’t even ask), and the leftover food that had caused a cloud of flies to arrive has been dealt with. Of course now nobody can use the kitchen for a while – until the fly spray dissipates (the windows and door are wide open).

I was hoping to return to work tomorrow, based on feeling quite a bit better last night, but now I’m not so sure. My head is ringing. I’m not sure what causes that – blood pressure probably.

Where does the time go?

Since stepping back from posting “every other day” to the blog, I’ve discovered a paradox of sorts. While I thought having a few days between posts might conjure stories worth telling, the reality is that by the time I sit down to write anything, I’ve forgotten the stories worth telling.

Norah Ephron was right about recording the exhales. If I don’t record my thoughts on the same day they happen, then get over-written by the rest of the mayhem that generally surrounds me.

Anyway.

What have I been up to? Working. And then working some more. I’m learning the ropes with a number of new (to me) programming languages, platforms, and technologies – and it’s kind of been all-consuming. It’s not a purely academic exercise either – it’s a somewhat important commercial project. Unfortunately I can’t share any more than that.

There have been several days in the past few weeks when I’ve forgotten to stop for lunch – which doesn’t do my body much good at all. While talking to a friend across the way that often walks her dog, I suggested she might knock on the window and encourage me to join her – if only for a few minutes. We somehow have to engineer it so she appears in the window while I’m on a conference call – just to get my co-workers talking.

We finished watching Obi-Wan Kenobi this evening. I liked it. We’re also half-way through watching Dune (the new version – not the old one with Sting in). We need to set aside an entire evening to watch the rest of it – it’s a LONG film, but what we’ve seen so far has been wonderful. I’ve also promised to watch “Orphan Black”, so the earlier mentioned friend has somebody to talk to about it. It’s funny how television and movies become such a connection between people, isn’t it.

I’ll try and post a bit more often to the blog in the coming weeks. The more mundane stuff – like this post. I’ve kind of missed emptying my head. Finding the time to do so will always be the challenge – I’m writing this at nearly 1am.