Serotonin Soliloquy of a Control Freak

It’s been a long time since I’ve touched this. Longer than I’m proud of. I loved the idea. It was a way of breaking up the stressful monotony of thesis writing. Every time I made myself a cuppa (or the Starbucks team that adopted me for the summer did), I’d take a couple of minutes for myself and write. About anything. About everything. My life, my thoughts, my research, anything. It was therapy. A way to get out the things bothering me without dropping emotional, mostly incoherent, bombs on those closest to me. Without being a burden. 

It worked too. At least I think it did. I finished my thesis. I got a good grade. I got my diploma. I even got a job (sort of…but more on that later). I even got the guy. God, I’m lucky. I live in a wonderful house, in an amazing city, close to my best friends, with the love of my life. I have everything. I’m even off my meds! And that’s a good thing. I’m proud of myself. I’m finally in a place where I felt confident my job, my relationship and I could survive the inevitable dip that coming off anti-depressants would bring. And I did survive. I can’t say I feel better for it. But I don’t feel worse, which is as close to a victory as one can get when battling serotonin levels. 

Also, I’m getting a cat. Something I am extremely excited about. Even more in that house to love. I have so much to look forward to. To be thankful for. Because, truthfully, I am so happy right now. I wake up next to the man that I love every morning and that is a place I never thought I would be. I never thought I’d be in love. It was an unfathomable concept to me. Something reserved for the pages of a book, not a mood-swinging, mental health disaster of a librarian such as me. 

However, it can’t be all rainbows and sprinkles (mmm….cake). No that would be to normal, too easy. And when has my life been either of those things, despite my efforts. 

I up and down like a yo-yo. I could blame my lack of medication, but I was like this before. Life could probably be perfect and I would still be like this. Maybe that’s something I need to resign myself to. Maybe I already have. I don’t know. But I am so melancholy all the time. I just can’t switch my brain off, even in the height of happiness. Something is always sitting there, stressing me out to the point of tears. Or welled up eyes. Cause 9/10 times, I’m sitting in the office when this happens. And I worked hard to get here. I’m not gonna let myself cry about it. I got so lucky, started a new job I knew I’d end up hating (call centre work, its inevitable), and a secondment opportunity rolled around. It was just supposed to be a starting place for me. To get my moved down to the place I wanted to be. Plus I figured maybe I’d get lucky and get into their Knowledge Management team eventually. And what do you know, that’s what the secondment was for. 

So why am I down you ask? Well, secondments are temporary. I’m so lucky that I get this opportunity. Let’s face it, everyone working on their CV is usually lamenting their lack of experience. Here I am, experience central. But it’ll be over soon. And after almost two years of post-grad job hunting, it’s a horrible feeling to be handed exactly what you’ve worked for, just to know that you are going to have to go back a job you really don’t want. That you know will likely end in you back on your meds. 

Have you ever been exactly where you want to be in life but know full well that, even though it’s everything you’ve worked for, it’s going to be taken away from you again. Do you know what I’d give for a finish line? Theoretically, with three month’s to go with my dream job, I could be job hunting. Applying my newly earned job experience. Now if only there were any jobs going in my city. Nothing closer than London. As usual. And I don’t think I could leave. It took us so much to get this far. I don’t want to upheave this ideal lifestyle for me. I won’t. I guess I just keep my eyes peeled and my spirits up until a job rolls around. I think I can do that. I just wish I could force my spirits up when they’re down. Because I’m susceptible to everything lately. I just want to have control back. Over my job. My happiness. 

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Effortless

Is it selfish to wish for things to be effortless? Who knows, but everyone is guilty of it. Of wishing for a bit of ease when times are hard. We’re only human after all. However, of late I’m discovering more and more that effortless requires effort. Sounds paradoxical, right? Yeah, it pretty much is. My point is that there is no such thing as effortless. All the issues I’ve been looking to ease up, to be a bit more effortless, they’ve required work. But it’s been work worth putting in. Hence my point: you want effortless? Put the hard work in now and ride the effort-free wave for a while. That’s life, you work to make it easier. Cause lets face it, money does make you happier. Especially when you don’t have any.

Though, for once, I’m not talking about money (yes, I’m still skint, let’s not get our hopes up here). I’m actually talking about my relationship. A position I am completely unprepared for and uneducated in. AKA, far from effortless. For a long time, I’ve believed relationships should be effortless. HA! So young, so innocent. I’m full of crap. Relationships are hard. But you know what they also are? Fucking great! (‘scuse my French). They are a prime example of putting the effort in. In this case, it was voicing my woes. I was terrified, but you know what they say, kids, communication is key. And it really is. You have to talk, talk about everything, talk about nothing, just keep talking. If you are having problems, having issues, having worries, talk! Because I guarantee you’ll feel better. I’m not promising a solution. In fact, I never found one, but I found a way to take a load off. One long conversation, some tears, but I felt so much better for it. For not feeling overwhelmed, like a big ass overflowing bottle of worries. I spoke, and I felt so much better.  I didn’t find a solution. Sometimes they don’t really exist. But most of the time, it’s just discussing your issues and your worries and you realising you are not having them all by yourself. Knowing that you are both having the same issues and worries actually makes you feel better. Know why? Cause you realise you’re both putting the effort in. Even when that effort is worry. You care about your relationship (as you should) and that’s enough. It’s enough to realise you give a damn and you want to keep giving a damn.

From there, ride that effortless happy relationship wave to the next tide. And you know what, you’ll remember the last one and the effort won’t seem so much as before. Shit happens, nothing is effortless, but it does get easier. You just gotta put the work in.

(And I gotta stop rambling and get back to putting some effort on my damn dissertation outline. Mamph out!)

Home

Written last night while cut-off from the word on a train travelling through the middle of nowhere.


I spend a lot of my life on trains. Reading, listening, gazing, or trying in vain to sleep. Trains are second nature to me. My home from home on the move. My home on the rails. As seen in my post about safe spaces, I like familiarity. It is comforting. The train I take home has never changed. I have been taking the same route, travelling on the same schedule, in the same carriage for almost a decade. I know most of the staff on sight and, sometimes,  even discuss the conductor’s university-age daughter when he is on shift. My train journeys are long, too long to be considered a commute. So when I travel, I set up shop, dedicating myself to that space for the next few hours. I’ve had adventures on this train. I’ve played poker with Russians, sang Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my voice, had a deep and intense three-hour conversation with a gentleman whose name I failed to learn, yet whose intelligence and presence has stuck with me always.

I don’t really have a point to this rambling. I think I’m just nostalgic. Is it possible to be nostalgic for the present? I think I miss home. I miss having a home. I always have a home to go to, but it’s not the same as being there. Living in halls is like living in limbo and, I think, retrospectively, it has been feeling like that for a while now. My future didn’t work out like I expected. I didn’t find home where I thought, probably naively, that I would. I still don’t have a home to be in. I have a home to go to, but not be in. I think that’s why I’m restless. Everything just now, and for many months to come yet, is leading to that point. To that person and that home. I have both now, and I cherish that more than I could possibly write, but I’m ready to settle. To stop having everything be up in the air. To plan the future, to plan adventures, together.

I’m ready to be home.

Rights

It’s funny. I was about the start this post with the statement ‘I’m not usually one to delve into politics,’ but that could not be truer. I don’t think a day has gone by since I stepped foot into my first university class that I haven’t had some political discussion or another.

I have always been one for fighting about rights. Voting rights, gender rights, anything that interests me, even if it doesn’t necessarily pertain to me. I’m a strong believer in using your voice whenever you can. In fact, when I started my masters, I didn’t realise just how well I would fit in. You may never find a more anarchistic advocacy group than librarians. Fighting for equal rights and open access to literature and education. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.

But anyways, the reason I bright all this up is because of Jamie Oliver. Weird, right? Yeah well, I agree. I saw a picture of him this morning, sitting in Parliment. Not where I expected to find him, but I was seriously happy to see him there. I have always been rather passive to his existence, as I am to most famous people who are not Neil Gaiman or Lin-Manuel Miranda. Or at least I have been since high school.

I was of the era that passed through high school during Jamie Oliver’s reign of terror on school lunches. Just in time to see cheeseburgers and coke give way to dry chicken filets and bland, greasy pasta pots. It was heartbreaking. I lived on ham rolls for almost 6 years (mostly as a way to avoid pasta bakes, mind you).

I was ignorant. I wasn’t thankful for my health. Thankful for the fact that at the age of 22 I am not obese, I do no have heart problems and I still retain all of my teeth. But I was a child. I wanted to eat crap. Hell, most days I still do, but at least age comes with some increase in self-control, however small.

My point is, my passive hate for Jamie Oliver has turned into immense gratitude. As well as being the generation to kiss goodbye to lunchtime cheeseburgers, I was also the generation who benefitted from free school meals. I grew up in a household with a single mother, trying to feed both myself and my steadily-declining-in-health grandmother, while attempting to finish her own education and work alongside everything else. My mother is a superhero. It’s something I still say now, as she works two jobs seven days a week in order to make her dreams come true and help me with mine. I am eternally grateful and deeply hopeful that I will soon be the position to pay her back in every way I can.

I wasn’t born or raised in poverty. I was lucky. I was fortunate. But I never quite understood how much of that was thanks to something as simple as free school lunches. As simple as £2.50 a day. Seems small right. Barely worth registering. It adds up though. You consider that, five days a week for the, what, thirty odd weeks of school a year. That’s £12.50 a week. That’s £375 a year! If you don’t think that is a lot of money, I am happy for you. Happy you have never had to consider that amount as a blip on your radar. Happy you have never had to consider that an amount like that could feed a family of four for 3 months. And it has.

So I want to say thank you. Thank you and I’m sorry, to Jamie Oliver. Sorry I took you for granted in my youth and thank you for defending the health and wellbeing rights of children all across the UK. I truly, deeply hope you and all those who oppose this absurd manifesto are successful.

Restless

I’m a little restless this morning. Like I cannot decide where to focus my energies. I have plenty to do (when do I not) but I can’t settle. Can’t focus on one specific thing. I think it’s because I’ve had a rare couple of days of productiveness. I’m finally getting somewhere. So, of course, my brain is going into rebellion mode. It would make for a great anarchist in its spare time. Now I just gotta train it to realise that it has no spare time until August. Though I think that’s also part of the problem. It’s still May and August feels like a far off dream. Months and months of studying and focusing are a rather daunting prospect. But I have nothing but my perseverance. Some days it wins, some days it loses. That’s just par for the course. I’m human and I’m doing the best I can. Who knows, maybe I’m just a touch lost with how much needs done and how little I feel I still know. But for now, I need tea and I need to study!

Adventure

Adventure is good for the soul. I can vouch for this. My soul feels saited, my camera full and my mind finally focused.

In other words, I ran away to London over the weekend. Not for the first time either. Once during my undergraduate degree, I ended up on an overnight bus to London with less that four hours notice and several of my best friends. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and this was just as fufilling.

I have a habit, neither bad nor good, because it leads to a soild serving of both in the end. I get ideas in my head. Ideas I just can’t shake. These ideas perculate and simmer until I have the entire prospect mentally planned and I just have to know if I can do it. London was one such idea. I can’t really explain it. It started as an opportunity to see one of my favourite poets perform live. It was happening the next day and I was a country over, but I wanted to make it happen.

Oddly enough though, in the space of a few hours the tickets had sold out, and I just didn’t mind. It should have bothered me more than it did, but I just wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to take my boyfriend and do something carefree and spontaneous, and just deal with the concequences when they came. You have no idea how rare that is for me. Sometimes it’s just impossible to switch my brain off. I’m a realist. Every idea and thought is analysed for practical and likely outcomes, which are nine times out of ten negative. So to just not care, it’s so cathartic. To find that rare get-up-and-go that so often is just absent, it was just luxurious. The excitement. To go. To see. To share it. I needed it, so much.

Now, however, I need to get back to work. But it’s still there, in the background. That get-up-and-go. I’m motivated again, even in the smallest way, but it’s there. I found it again.

I’m reminded of a poem that Tia used to love. (Tia is my grandmother, but she’d whack you upside the head for calling her that and making her young soul feel so old). I just remember the one line, about this old woman reading obituaries just to double check she wasn’t in it.

“My get-up-and-go had got up and went”

Hopefully that’s a while down the line for me yet. Motivation is fleeting for me lately, but I know there are many adventures in my future, whether for a day or a life-time. So for now, I’m biding my time, working away during the lull between adventures. After all, that lull is life, and I want to enjoy every moment.


P.S. Keep an eye out for updates to my Photography from the Streets of London album. My new photos will be getting added as soon as I get the opportunity to edit them.

Progress

Job applications are done!

Well, they are complete for now. The are an inevitability in life, like death and taxes. Either way, they are off my to-do list for the present, which means back to my Python coding. I’ve been really enjoying learning how to code, but I am still worrying that learning the fundamentals will not be enough to help me understand how to build the kind of code I need for my dissertation. Though there is little I can do about that until I get the learning part over and done with. Then it’s another item off my to-do list. But first, tea!

…okay that was supposed to be the end but OWWWWW!!! I do not recommend chilli seaweed for breakfast or prior to your tea. Tis painful on the taste buds. It’s my own fault though. My roommate is a supreme cook and I love when she leaves us leftovers. Always spicy, but always amazing Chinese cooking. I would love to have the time to learn how to make proper Chinese cuisine, but for now, I’ll just continue enjoying her leftovers.  My dissertation is more important after all.

Comics

I have had the best morning!

I seem to be continuing my trend of ‘out of character early rises’, but today I had a valid excuse. IT’S FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!!!!!!

Ever since I first heard about Free Comic Book Day 6 years ago, I’ve never been able to attend. I’ve always been at work (or last year I was on a long-haul flight to Florida, so I’m hardly going to complain about that), but today is finally my day! Up at 6am, out at 7am, in Starbucks by 7.30am and the onto the queue! I officially have enough graphic reading material to last me about a year. It’s amazing and I cannot wait to dive in head first.

Okay, I have that out my system now. No…wait…EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I’m good now.

Also, I had a really important interview yesterday. I’ve been bouncing in anticipation ever since. I want this internship so badly. Even though I know it means I’ll be working double time on my dissertation, probably not sleeping (ha! Okay sleeping less at least), and I might even get to spend my partners birthday with him in one of my favourite cities. It’s just so exciting. My life is so oddly exciting right now. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m so happy, I’m grabbing onto every chance that comes my way and working like crazy to get it. It’s exhausting! I think I’m running mostly on tea and adrenaline, among other things.

This is such an amazing chapter in my life. It feels…exciting. I can’t stop using that word. I’m excited. Thrilled. Provoked. Piqued. Stimulated. Take your pick. I think I’m all of them. All at once.

…or maybe i’ve just had too much tea. *shrugs* Who cares!! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Mornings

“Why, sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”


Few things are likely to get me out of bed before 6am. Very few. However, as of late my track record as a grumpy early morning person is being stolen from me. It didn’t even require a cup of tea, would you believe? I certainly still don’t. But despite such impossibilities, like 2am fire alarms (ooh university halls, we had such a great run) I am once again in my prime position by the window of Starbucks, tea in hand, pen poised over my journal. My master’s research will wait for no man…or woman apparently. Tolkien would be so disappointed.

Yes, today must be a day filled with coding and job applications, because I have not been as productive as I should have been, though I hardly have any regrets. I am not close enough to any sort of deadline to develop worrying guilt over having some sort of life (horrifying, I know, a student trying to have a social life, absurd!) But work prevails and so do I. Onwards Queenie!!! (I don’t have anything resembling a noble steed, just a very loyal laptop I aptly named Queenie and a continual wish for a bottomless travel mug).