Monday, May 30, 2011

The joys of work

I've now spent about 240 hours in my latest workplace and as yet I've hardly mentioned it. Maybe that's a measure of how much my current work means to me. I hope not. Certainly there have been days when I'm pretty sure I've achieved nothing, but I haven't yet had a day when I've achieved less than nothing (I sure did in my last big corporate job), so that's got to be a positive.

Our office is near the top of a skyscraper and, on a sunny day like we had today, offers a panoramic view of the city and the harbour. There are seventy of us, or thereabouts, with a similar number on one of the lower floors. Considering it's the end of May, a surprising number of Christmas decorations adorn the office. There also some interesting signs, such as the two contradictory ones in the loo: "Save power - turn off the lights" and "DON'T switch off the lights - repeatedly turning the lights on and off reduces the life of the bulbs by 50%." So you can't win.

I'm in a team of six. Luckily my immediate colleagues all seem nice enough people. My boss is fortyish; his wife is in the same profession. The bloke I sit next to is just a shade older than me; he's got a small son whom he wants to ensure doesn't follow in his father's footsteps, instead hoping that he becomes handy with a hammer. The only female member of our team is 28; she emigrated from China at the turn of the century, since when she's acquired an extremely good command of English. None of those L-and-R mix-ups. She lives with a Kiwi partner.

The number two in our team, certainly in terms of experience, is a particularly interesting bloke. He's talkative and speaks quite passionately and at length about certain issues. His keen sense of humour often revolves around word play. I wonder whether he might have Asperger's, albeit in a mild form considering he's got three teenage kids and has no problem dealing with "life stuff" as far as I can see. That leaves only the boss; he's in his late fifties, is softly spoken and as yet I haven't had a lot to do with him.

The good news is that it seems whatever was getting up my nose last week didn't come from this flat at all. And talking of the flat, I bought some furniture for it yesterday. I haven't bought a lot of furniture in my life so far, so I have very little idea of how much it should cost. I spent a little over a grand on a chest of drawers, a bookcase and a bedside table. Is that a lot? Who knows?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


In Auckland I had a job, some good friends, some non-scary social groups and an exercise machine. I’d built up a structure of sorts. It wasn’t perfect – it was draughty and it sprung the odd leak occasionally, but at least it held up. Then I packed up and left, effectively taking a wrecking ball to the whole damn thing.

What would happen next was anybody’s guess. All bets were off. Five weeks later all bets are still off. At times life has been manageable, even pleasant; at others I’ve been in the depths of despair.

I’ve always been sensitive to dust and fumes; since I moved into this flat last weekend something has been getting up my nose, blocking it and giving me sinus troubles. I knew I’d never find the ideal flat in the short time I had, and for the amount I was prepared to pay, but I thought I’d at least avoid one that makes me ill.

The movers did a brilliant job on Tuesday. I was amazed at what they did squeeze into that tiny lift. Only the base of my bed had to be hauled up the stairs. As well as being very efficient they were a pleasure to deal with.

At work they have a social club. It only cost a few dollars to sign up so I did. Last night after work they went bowling, at a much swankier establishment than the one in Newmarket I went to with the Asperger's group at the end of March. There were bright lights, big screens showing Super 15 (or however many it is now) matches, table-inset scoreboards and (as is always dangerous) an unlimited bar tab. I went along relatively fearlessly (how scary can bowling be exactly?) but I should have been more wary. The bowling was secondary to the booze, the high-fives (the number of times I’ve had to tell tennis partners that I don’t do high-fives) and the banter. I can never let myself go in those situations, no matter how much I’ve had to drink, and as I’m now on 300 mg of Efexor I should hardly be drinking at all. When people talk to me I never know how to respond – they might as well be speaking Swahili. For the record I did hit three figures in all three games. I left at around nine, but it felt much later.

My boss recently broached the subject of exams, giving me the amazingly wonderful news that I don’t have to do them. Great! The only reason for doing them would be to give the illusion to my colleagues of participating in this whole big career thing. At 31 I’m too old for that sort of subterfuge. Seriously.

On Thursday night I saw Paul at the Reading cinema on Courtenay Place. I kind of like comedy sci-fi, especially British-made comedy sci-fi about three tits and spaceman balls. I didn't think it was amazing, but being able to relate to some of the protagonists helped, and anything that gets a few laughs out of me must be worth seeing.

This afternoon I’ll go to an art gallery and give them one of Dad’s business cards (“there’s this watercolour painter I know from the South Island who’s really good…”). Paintings aren’t selling like they used to and that’s been getting him down. In Wellington people tend to care about art more than the rest of the country; I think this could be a good market for Dad to tap into.

Speaking of Dad, if he had the chance he’d be out of Geraldine like a shot. Of course Mum is happy as Larry there with her golf, gossip, church, golf, golf, and more gossip. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s worked hard all her life. But having been born in Geraldine she’s unaware, or chooses to ignore, that Dad lacks stimulation there.

That’s all until next time, as long as the arsenic in the paint in my flat doesn’t get me first.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nutters Club etc.

All Saturday night and half of Sunday it chucked it down. It really was a ludicrous amount of rain even by Wellington's high standards. When it cleared up I grabbed some fruit and vege from the market - a cheaper and more interesting option than New World or what have you - then got the dreaded red light when I tried to swipe myself in. Due to a mistake or miscommunication, and all the other crap (normal and abnormal) I've had on my plate, I thought I had one more day in my apartment than I actually did. To get back into my flat I had no choice but to charge an extra night (and $130) to the company - which I'll probably have to pay (and even if I don't, my boss and all the HR people will think I'm hopeless). It's always the way for me - save a few bucks here, lose one-frigging-thirty there.

After all that shambles I moved into my new fourth-floor apartment. It's big enough, has a nice view and gets the afternoon sun, but it's a bit grubby, is starting to come apart at the seams, and has a slight prisony feel about it. The movers are coming tomorrow. We'll have all sorts of fun and games getting all my stuff (or not) into the flat.

I had a 20-minute walk to work this morning but I might as well not have bothered. My head was filled with this fog which made everything practically impossible. You needed GPS to navigate your way around all the labyrithine spreadsheets but I couldn't pick up a signal.

Last night I listened to the Nutters Club show on Radio Live. As an eff-why-eye for the 75,432 Kiwis who read my blog, the show runs from 8 till 10 on Sunday nights. The highlight of the show was undoubtedly Michael Kimber - a very eloquent bloke who has suffered from mental health problems and severe insomnia. To paraphrase his most salient point, he said that depressives you hear about in the media are either celebrities or sociopaths; 95%+ of depressives are neither (and most are in fact the polar opposite of both categories).

Got to go. Hopefully this week I'll see Paul. I need something to cheer me up.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One happy family

Last weekend was a pretty good one. On the face of it nothing special happened, but Mum, Dad, my brother and I were together for the first time in 7½ years, and that was special enough. It was great to see my brother. It was also great to see that he hadn’t changed much. Some people are all talk, no action; he’s the exact opposite.

We’re different in many ways – his penchant for firearms being just one example – but we got on well. Unfortunately (for me) he was coerced into staying in the British army, so won’t be coming to New Zealand to live any time soon, but I hope he can make semi-regular trips out here from now on. With no family in the UK, Christmas is a lonely time for him, so he might visit then.

On Saturday night we had very tasty fish and chips with my aunt and uncle. Earlier that day Dad and I had fun and games trying to watch a dodgy version of 2001 – A Space Odyssey.

My brother flew back on Thursday. I hope we manage to stay in touch. Seeing him – and the rest of my family – over the weekend gave me a much-needed boost. Bumping my Efexor up to 300 might have helped too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Home at last

Auckland was struck by a deadly tornado this afternoon. At least one person was unlucky enough to lose his life; there are reports of a second fatality. Tornadoes are extremely rare in New Zealand but as one-in-fifty-year events now tend to occur every other week, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised. The Albany Mega Centre (a large shopping mall) lived up to its name – it was the “mega centre” of the twister. In future I’ll be even more inclined to avoid shopping malls than I already am. I’ve texted everyone I know back in the Big Smoke – they’re all thankfully OK.

In contrast it has been a glorious day in Wellington, as usual. Now I feel vindicated by my decision to leave Auckland and escape all their nasty weather.

The flat search has finally come to an end. What a relief. I’ve taken a two-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a tower block in Mt Victoria, overlooking the Basin Reserve. My flat should get the sun, so I can look forward to basking in Wellington’s endless summer. With sorting out accommodation and everything that happened in Auckland, it’s been an extremely busy day of texting on my forty-buck phone. On the way back from signing the application form I found a cheap eatery on Courtenay Place, not far from the Blanket Man, called Cozy Bar (or something like that) – I got a chicken and salad roll and a rocky road cake for four dollars.

The other big news item has been Osama bin Laden’s death. His name was on everyone’s lips in late 2001 but lately I’ve hardly heard him mentioned. I found the chants of “USA, USA” in Washington at the news of his death a little disturbing – that hardly seems a good way of increasing the nation’s worldwide popularity.

So I can cross finding a home off the list in big fat marker pen. I can almost – dare I say it – relax.

Update: I just spoke to my brother on the phone. One of his friends had been killed in a motorbike crash in the UK. He doesn’t know whether he’ll be back for the funeral. He’s now lost so many friends in so many accidents it’s almost unreal. I’m looking forward to seeing him on Friday.