Confession: I’m Bad At Finishing Things (and/or Keeping Them Going)

I honestly thought that maybe a zero-stakes anonymous blog would be easier to maintain than, say, any of the thousand other projects I’ve started in my life. Turns out I was wrong.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’m in the middle of right now:

  • a zine about meeting dogs in the street;
  • a zine about my body;
  • a zine of sketches of well-dressed people on public transport;
  • a novel about witches in space;
  • a story about a girl with amnesia who is abducted by a group of anarchists in a flooded near-future dystopia;
  • a self-designed course of readings about psychogeography;
  • a conference paper (due December);
  • a book review/essay (no due date but I’ve had it in the Pile for at least a year);
  • another essay (due at the end of the month);
  • rereading the Discworld books;
  • watching The Expanse, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane The Virgin, Lucifer, Elementary, The Good Place and Brooklyn Nine-Nine;
  • actually seeing my friends I guess;
  • and work;
  • and maybe making a worm farm;
  • and this blog;
  • and my other secret blog.

All of these are things I’ve started in the past two years and haven’t yet finished. And it makes it sound like I’m doing a lot, like I’m this ambitious go-getter with so many cool fun things to do. But it’s reached the point where I feel like I’m the opposite. I have so many things that I’m doing poorly, or intermittently, or that I’m putting on the backburner, that nothing is getting finished.

So what have I actually finished in those two years?

  • ten minutes’ worth of poetry for a reading I did in August;
  • a conference paper last year;
  • a zine about plants;
  • some weird collages that I don’t have a real purpose for, does that count as ‘finished’? yeah we’re gonna count it;
  • maybe some book reviews even though it feels like an actual eternity since I last wrote one.

And some bottles of perfume, a tube of lipstick and a couple of bottles of gin, because I’m trying to get better at not stopping in the middle of those things, too.

Because when you finish a thing–a lipstick, a book, a worm farm–you have to let it go.

Things change.

At least if you keep working on something forever, you’re in control of the changes. You’ve got that thing held tight in your grasp. And we’re taught that when we finish our homework, we hand it in and it gets evaluated and we get judged by the work we do, and that is actually the scariest part.

I also read a tweet yesterday from Charlie Jane Anders:

I’m working on that whole “recognising earlier that ‘this isn’t working'” thing. I’m more of a “keep every project simmering just enough to feel guilty about not working on it but not so much that it gains any momentum, because you never know when you might have a breakthrough” person, and it is not healthy. At all.

Two sides of the same coin. I’m just bad at letting things go.

 

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Confession: My House Is A Trash Heap

Well it only makes sense that a Trash Broad lives in a Trash Pile, really.

My housemate has been overseas for a month. She’s developing professional skills, making contacts… meanwhile the only lessons I’ve learned are that my housekeeping goes downhill fast when no one else is around and that I just. don’t. seem. to. care.

My bedroom floor, as previously mentioned, is littered with bills, books, crumby plates and discarded clothes. The kitchen gets cleaned once a week, ish, depending on how sick I get of looking at dirty cat food bowls. There is cat hair everywhere, except possibly under the piles of miscellaneous things that I’ve thrown off immediately upon coming through the front door and then ignored for anywhere between a couple of days and the past fortnight.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about it. I’m in a tough space mentally, feeling burnt out and undervalued in both my menial day job and my very sporadic freelance work. It’s midwinter, everything is cold and dark and damp all the time and I’m depressed and the sad truth is that I’m in bed more often than not and the housework just isn’t getting done.

Does it matter? Ultimately, as long as I have everything I need (clean dishes to eat out of and clean clothes to drag my sadsack body to work in) and as long as it’s not hurting anyone, maybe it doesn’t matter. But I know me. I know this is a warning sign, too, and the Big Bad Depression is probably already here and one of the other things I’m avoiding is a psychological deep clean.

And I’ll tell you how that cycle goes.

I’m going along, minding my own business, and then I get hit with this creeping sense that nothing that I do really matters.
Which means that I either need to recalibrate my own sense of self-worth, or I need to address some way in which I’m falling short of my own expectations.
But if nothing that I do really matters, then what’s the point of doing anything?
So I don’t clean. Or write, or create, or see friends, or turn up to work on time (thanks for pointing that out, Manager, and making me feel so much fucking better about it!).
And then I think ‘I’m not healthy right now, I need to work out how to get better.’
And then I think ‘but I have to get the house spotless and perfectly organised first.’
And as long as the house isn’t spotless and perfectly organised, I can’t move on to the mental tune-up.
And as long as I feel as though nothing I do really matters, the house won’t be spotless and perfectly organised.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Wallow.

*****

And it’s so easy to wallow, when the weather is shit and bed is so comfy and the cat is snuggly and TV has gotten so good but I also want to stop. I want to get out of bed before midday. I want clean laundry and a bed with actual sheets on it instead of just a mattress protector and a doona and I want fewer tiny piles of miscellaneous crap on every flat surface. And I want to be making things and writing and finishing what I start and reading books. Taking my meds on time. Cooking actual meals with nutrients in them. Spending time in places other than my work and my bedroom.

And I know that feeling like my life has purpose and value makes all of those little maintenance jobs–food and meds and clean undies–so much easier so I just need to get started on the big work.

So let’s end this on a positive, or at least proactive, note.

Note to self:

you can take the time to work out what’s hurting you

you can take the time to work out what will make you healthy

you can take the time to find your own value again

you are not failing

you matter

Short Cons: My Blog-spiration Is Cameron Diaz

Specifically: Cameron Diaz’s character in Sex Tape.

This is honestly embarrassing, but, apart from the bit where she’s got two kids and is married to a dude who is probably only 70% good enough for her, she’s kinda living my best life. I mean, look at her, with her flawless dewy skin and her cutie PJs, blogging proudly about her marriage and getting corporate contract offers for fuckssake.

I mean, please don’t watch Sex Tape. It’s pretty terrible, and I say this as someone who has also watched Bad Teacher. It’s some of the most absurd, whitest, bourgie-est nonsense you will ever see and there’s a whole frikken scene with a German Shepherd that is 1000% pointless and also Rob Lowe is there, possibly only to make the audience think ‘gee, what has Rob Lowe done recently?’

But then… there’s Cameron Diaz.

OK so only watch Sex Tape if you’re a 30-something bisexual woman who’s finally having a Cameron Diaz phase.

There are no other reasonable reasons to watch the Cameron Diaz/Jason Segal film Sex Tape.

Short Cons: I Am A Garbage Monster That Eats Garbage

Today I spilled an entire bowl of porridge in my hallway.

That’s not the gross part.

(Although it does look a bit like someone puked right outside the doorway of my housemate’s room. Someone… or something… *glares at the cat, who has puked on every surface of this goddamn house*)

The gross part is that, with one small spoon and one hand, I scooped up all the parts that hadn’t directly touched the carpet, put them back in the bowl, and ate it anyway.

It wasn’t, like, truffle oil and jamon iberico. It cost me maybe 40 cents, it took 90 seconds to make in the microwave… it wasn’t even the last of the porridge.

But it hadn’t touched the floor, technically. There was a whole layer of porridge between the floor and the part I ate.

Confession: I’m Accidentally Celibate (But I Think I Really Like It)

I miss sex, though.

But not, like, miss miss sex. There is precisely one person in my life that I think I’d like to have sex with*, but beyond that, at age 30-something, the idea of sex with someone new is a bit unpleasant. Unappealing. It seems really complicated! And terrifying! And, like, I know how it all works. I remember. I remember vividly. But I have no clue how to get to that point anymore.

And frankly, even in the heady days of youth, I never liked casual sex. I’m a delicate emotional flower who needs to trust the person I’m having sex with, and has trouble trusting strangers. Hookups and one night stands hold no appeal–I need to know your name and maybe your birthday and to have sat next to you for a meal and probably talked to you for hours about sci-fi novels and, like, can I see you doing something boring and mundane like cooking or taking in your laundry, ooooh yeah, baby, that domestic intimacy really gets my juices flowing.

I also have that really endearing combination of being emotionally intense on the inside and emotionally frigid on the outside. Like the world’s worst emotional Magnum icecream.

So I haven’t had sex in three years. Haven’t made out, kissed, fumbled, fondled.

I’ve had orgasms. With myself.

And I worry that the underlying trust issues that make it so hard for me to get intimate with people are going unresolved, but the immediate problem? The no-sex problem? It kinda isn’t a problem.

Because I’m the kind of woman who gets hung up on stuff. Stuff like does this outfit make me look like I’m trying too hard? and would it be better if my bookshelves were alphabetised? and where does all the hair that washes down the drain actually go? and who exactly voted in this garbage fire of a government? and why isn’t my partner having sex with me, like, right this second, do they hate me, they hate me, don’t they? And it is just so much healthier for me to not be hung up on sex (and the emotional and physical weirdness that it can sometimes bring up) right now, on top of all of the other things.

God, I sound like a total fuckup.

Maybe I am.

But maybe I’m not. I can focus on being emotionally available to my friends, physically comfortable with my own body, dedicated to my own wellbeing. I’m not saying that sex always and by its very nature gets in the way of that. But for a long time it was a complication and a burden, and that made it bad, and I’m just trying to get back to a place where it can be good again.

 

*sorry, I mean, there is one person that I think I could realistically feel comfortable having sex with. There are plenty of people I’d like to have sex with, starting from an emotionally intelligent Richard Armitage (turning up at my front door in a waistcoat and rolled shirtsleeves with a small wicker basket full of fresh fruit) and working my way down.

 

 

Confession: I Am A Better Boss Than My New Boss

This started out as ‘I Hate My New Boss’, but that probably isn’t a very good confession.

First of all: lots of people hate their new boss.

Second: I have already told SO MANY people how much my new boss is driving me up the wall, this is less a ‘confession’ than a ‘maybe if the internet knows, I can stop grinding my teeth every time I have to work with her’.
The real problem is that, despite not having any formal training and having only taken the senior role for a few weeks, I really think I was doing a better job than she is managing (hah!) to do.

I’ve only been in my job for just under two years, and have jumped around from casual to part time to fixed-term full time, junior to assistant manager to manager, and back again. I’ve had fifteen different co-workers and four different bosses. My job is actually pretty good and I love most of my team.

Until now.

I don’t like to dwell on just bringing people down, though, so I’m going to use this as an opportunity to Give Managerial Advice to a New Manager Who Isn’t Very Good At Being A Manager Yet. 

If you are a NMWIVGABAMY, please know that this comes from a place of frustrated generosity. (I don’t hate you! I hate the way you are Bossing me and that is at least partly because I am A Fucking Asshole Who Doesn’t Like Being Bossed!) 

If you are working with a NMWIVGABAMY, you can share this subtly on Facebook or whatever, and know that you are not alone.

  1. Please do not try to put your own stamp on things until you’ve been in the role for a couple of months at least. The rest of us have been trained within this particular set-up, and anything you change is likely to make our lives more difficult, at least in the short term. Being a manager means consulting with your team about changes, and sure, it’s not a big deal if you would like the rubber bands to be in the top drawer instead of the bottom, but changing every little thing that bothers you within the first few weeks is a) a waste of the time you could be using to settle in and b) a great way of subtly confusing all of your new co-workers.
  2. On a related note: doing things without asking only implies that you don’t give a shit about other people’s opinions. Which is great and cool if you’re just a rebel with no ties to nobody livin’ out on the wide open road, but less cool if you work in a team.
  3. If you’re not sure about something, please fucking ask! I don’t mean emailing your manager complaining about things! I mean, please fucking ask me questions! The person who is actually there doing the same job in the same place! I am not even an expert but I have been here longer than you! I’m here four days a week! I can tell you where stuff is! I can tell you why we do certain things! There are reasons and processes and I can help you with them!
  4. Listen when someone tells you something! That way you might actually remember what they’ve said! Write things down! Even if you’re not a read-write learner, you will have a concrete record of information and will fool everyone into thinking you care even though it seems totally obvious that you have zero regard for acquiring new skills and knowledge!
  5. Also, believe it or not, if I write something down for you, it’s because I’ve actually given it some consideration and expect you to do the same. I do not write notes because I enjoy being summarily ignored. I know, right?! Sounds fake! But seriously, if we only work together once or twice a week, you need to treat these notes like they’re a form of a progress report. (Likewise, if we talk about something that needs doing, the expectation should be that we both work on it–not that I work on it and you ignore it.)
  6. Please prioritise gaining new skills and knowledge! I get it, you have other stuff in your life apart from this pretty shittily-paid annoying job. We all do–we’ve got our kids and our commute and our freelance graphic design work and our elderly mother and our carpal tunnel. And I am not suggesting that this job should be more important than any of those things but it is also not fucking rocket science so if you can’t take some time in the first couple of weeks to sit down with your notes (see above) and think through this new job you’ve been given, maybe you’re not in a good position to tell us how to do our jobs!
  7. Actually, scratch that. Above and beyond prioritising anything else, prioritise the people you are working with. This is a customer service role and we are constantly told to put the customer first but you know what? It’s the way you behave towards us that makes the difference between a tolerable job and a good job. Give a shit about how you roster shifts–who works when and with who actually matters in a small team! Give people feedback on their strengths–not the team’s strengths, but specific things that each person does. Act like a fucking human person who wants the other human people around them to be comfortable, instead of coming in and being The Little Dictator!
  8. You do not need to fix everything. Hell, you might not need to fix anything, but let’s be real, there will be problems and redundancies and crossed wires in any new workplace. But! You can’t fix everything at once! You probably can’t fix everything even if you live for a thousand years and invent a time machine so you can keep sending a more capable version of yourself back to this one specific point in time to fix more and more of the myriad tiny problems that infect any workplace! You want to fix everything at once because this is a new and confusing environment for you and you also have an ego and want to prove that you deserve this job! It’s OK! Fixing one thing at a time and fixing it well is a better and nobler aim! And, bonus points: if you can get us all to understand what we’re trying to improve and why, we can all work on it and maybe actually achieve something, instead of getting confused about what to do because you want everything done at once!!

 

Confession: I Have A Crush (And It Feels Like The End Of The World)

Do you remember your teenage crush? You know the one, where you pretty much never spoke to them but every so often you’d, like, get the seat next to them on the bus and your entire body would catch fire like a big ol’ horny catherine wheel and your brain would short out?

OK so now push that feeling forward into your 30s. You’ve got a life and a job and bills and you wear high-waisted underpants but still you’ve met this person who sets you alight. And you have zero idea how to tell them how you feel.

*****

For the record, when things get too Real, I tend to slip into second-person. It’s a distancing mechanism.

To be clear: I AM LIT UP LIKE A BIG OL’ HORNY CATHERINE WHEEL.

AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO TELL THE BOY I LIKE THAT I LIKE HIM.

This has been happening for a while now. I guess I always kinda thought (or hoped) that adult relationships would be easier to manage than teenage ones. This is not easier. In fact, between navigating two people’s work and social schedules, watching my crush jump in and out of other relationships, and coping with that underlying sense that My Time Is Running Out, this is much much harder. And, as catastrophic as my teenage crushes might have felt, the very idea of confessing any of this to my crush’s face remains completely, gibberingly terrifying.

*****

It’s worst when the weather turns cold: he’s got a beard and a penchant for big hugs and whisky and chunky jumpers and the whole thing is like Kryptonite to me in winter. It also means we’re more likely to catch up for warm, snuggly indoor activities, and every moment that we’re not smushing our faces together feels like horrible agony. We played board games with a bunch of friends recently and when I gave him a hug at the end of the night it was… OK so imagine the worst possible thing and the best possible thing happening simultaneously, and you’re pretty much there.

Remember how I mentioned how catastrophic this all is? I know I’m being ridiculous. And, sure, I don’t live my entire life in a perpetual state of torture. Some days I don’t even think about it at all.

But then I think about it. And I think about how long I’ve harboured this crush, and in fact every crush I’ve ever had. And I think about how I’m a bottled-up stony tough girl who doesn’t even actually like people all that much and is pathologically restrained, emotions-wise, and it’s actually terrible, all the way down.

Because: how do normal adults deal with crushes? 

How do I confess this to the actual real lovely smushable face of the man I like? How do I make it so I’m not just a blathering weirdo every time I see him? How do I gain some fucking chill?

And, given that I’m the Queen of Saying Things Perfectly, what is the right way to say all of this?

*****

These questions aren’t entirely rhetorical. Tell me, internetizens: how do I do the thing?