[15:55] Today is a good day. The most major positive that I can tell you
about is the completion of my first challenge! "Run 10km for 10 consecutive
days." Starting last Wednesday and finishing today (including a double
parkrun on Saturday where I got 19:44 for the first 5K, and an extra 11.5km of
jogging with Geraldine on Sunday before my actual 10km that day) I have run
10km or more every day for ten days in a row. Averaging 42 minutes and 45
seconds for the distance I'd like to think that's not too bad. You know, for
someone like me. I'm pleased to report I have no injuries, no aches, no pains
and (after having just stood up to check) no tenderness or stiffness in my
muscles. This is good, and bodes well for future challenges.
Otherwise meditation last night was OK. I think I've plateaued slightly in
some ways, but it's still a great place to work out how to reach into myself
and find out what makes me tick (and slow that whatever it is down). I'll
keep trying (in connection with other activities which start soonish) to find
a way to be even more (because I wasn't ever a particularly not-calm person)
at peace with myself/my life/the world/people as well as improving my
connection with - and at the same time distance from - my body and its
limitations. It's all good.
The weekend's all about fun, I hope. Saturday I'm meeting Andy and Andrea in
London to have a pub lunch by the river, go and see a low division football
match (turnstiles and pasties, standing up every time it looks like there's
going to be a goal and shouting myself hoarse) and then end up back in central
London for dinner and drinks before running for the last train home.
Sunday'll be a gentle tempo run of about 20K to work out any kinks from the
10K Challenge and prepare myself for Monday's return to 6K interval training,
Tesco and a cycle over to my future rental property to look at furniture I
might like to buy on account of me having sold everything I did have to sit,
sleep or store things on/in with my house. Hopefully the rest of my stuff
will be shipped back from the US soon. I miss it.
Anyway, back on Monday. Have a good one whatever things you're doing, big or
[15:00] Let's just go with the positives first today to save time. There were
delicious sweet and savoury pancakes last night, and some emails were sent of
a useful nature. I actually turned down a chance of drinks with a friend
because I didn't feel like it (for all kinds of reasons this was a good thing,
just go with me on this). I still seem to be sleeping well, more often than
not, even if having an open window (to keep from suffocating/cooking
overnight) means I get woken quite early by the dawn chorus. It continues to
be sunny here. Which is nice. I booked a trip this morning and through some
judicious money-shifting was able to pay for it all straight away (leaving
only the insurance and the money I'll be spending on the trip still to
expend). That's going to be awesome, and excellent preparation for my Big
Trip later on. There's meditation tonight and possibly other things of a fun
nature (but probably not given response times). I've got the weekend pretty
much pinned down in terms of things happening when and where and should be
able to fit in the Tesco shop as well as a good bit of reading too. Probably
no actual running (unless on Sunday morning) but after tomorrow that might be
a good thing.
Today I've again done the cycle to and from town thing to check on the network
cabinets/power situation at the old machine room again. This time with a tape
measure and a pencil and paper. If everything is the size it's supposed to be
and we can take the 'feet' off the new UPS when we add the second battery
chassis everything should fit with 0mm spare. Otherwise we may have to do a
bit of shoving and bending. Not best when you're dealing with 415V potential
difference in a metal box. If the lights flicker and dim next Tuesday morning
you'll know why.
[15:35] I've already been into town once today for work. This was to find out
why a reported "over temperature alarm" was going off in the old machine room.
It wasn't, someone (probably one of the movers putting stuff in there as it's
now more of a storage area than anything else) had set off the room alarm and
didn't know how to deactivate it. I did that and then spent some time working
out how to move all the switches and things we still have in there from the
room UPS to a floorstanding one. Turns out we're going to need a bigger boat.
By which I mean a couple of pluggable PDUs. Don't worry, it's nothing you
need to concern yourself with.
And the positives just keep on coming, sort of. Today's run has been achieved
even if I felt pretty leaden of foot. The weather at least is still extremely
wonderful, so it was nice to get out and produce a bit of Vitamin D naturally.
I made everyone in the house chicken wraps last night which when down very
well (no pun intended). I'm grateful I was taught how simple and easy they
are to do. I even made sure there was a pot of Greek yoghurt to 'blop' from.
That's very important. Meditation was OK but noisy outside again. And it was
packed too, which was surprising given how good the weather was. I have a few
things to do at work and organisation for the weekend seems to be going well.
I might even be having drinks with a friend later on in the week too.
Anyway, as usual I turned up early for meditation yesterday, but wasn't
allowed upstairs until I'd sat down with one of the people there and told them
how I was 'doing' and why I was coming to meditation so regularly. I gave
them the short short version (think the ceremony at the end of
Spaceballs) just so I could get upstairs and sink my mind into the place where
everything else goes away for a while. It felt a little pushy, but given it's
all free I can't begrudge them some attempt to sell me on the spiritual side
of meditation and Raja Yoga. Still, I may end up going on the free
day-retreat in a few weeks down by the river (with "free vegetarian lunch"!)
if for no other reason than because the meditations will go on for longer than
an hour at a time.
I think that's it for today.
[12:05] I went for a long walk yesterday evening. The weather was fabulous
and I just didn't want to spend it indoors doing anything (although I did end
up doing the massed washing up for the house, which was getting ridiculous).
I couldn't find anyone to walk with though, which would have made the occasion
so much better. I'm becoming much more comfortable with my own company (not
that I wasn't before, but when you know there's someone out there for you it
is much easier to deal with periods of solitude) but by the end of what was
probably around 10K of walk I was just a bit fed up. Sometimes even people
like me want a bit of company now and then.
And so to the daily Positives Report: Weather's still fantastic here. Blue
skies, warm air and light-to-no-breeze. I'm out with my work running partner
at lunch time today (so it'll be slower than yesterday's 43ish minute run) and
then there's meditation this evening. I might even make wraps when I get back
for me and a housemate (just need to remember to get some greek/plain yoghurt
at some point before then). My deposit has been accepted by my future
landlady so the house is mine.
I can't think of much else to say today. I made some purchases, but they're
not due for a few days. Should be interesting to use one of them in a few
[11:35] I think on the whole that was a good weekend. Sure there were some
low bits; the bittersweet feelings as a favourite television programme or two
is watched. Sadness when theme tunes aren't hummed or danced to any more, and
when extra, personal, additions aren't added at the end. No discussion of the
plot or interactions between characters whose backstory is so well known. So
many tiny, tiny things which contribute to such a great loss now that all of
that has gone.
Positives though. Positives are where it's at these days. On Friday I got to
leave work early and the sun was shining, I (with the help of friends)
collected two sofas and lifted them over the back wall of Keith's house and
stored them in his front room until I move (all without incident!). I went to
various pubs to see friends, have dinner, celebrate someone's birthday and,
ultimately, go home happy and sober before I stopped enjoying myself.
Saturday I ran the parkrun, twice (although I'm not sure the timing was quite
right for my second time through the finish line given what is listed on the
results page), Tescoed, read in town, had a missed connection and ended up
cycling for two and a bit hours doing three of the "big" hills in the
countryside around the southern outskirts of the city, and then had a quiet
night in with the first delivery pizza I've had in months. Sunday I basically
ran a half marathon (11.5km with a friend at a slow rate, and then 10km on my
own at a much faster pace) and I'm still pretty much ache/injury free, which
is brilliant. Sunday afternoon and evening was another birthday celebration
with friends and food and amusement.
Today is obviously a work day, but the sun is shining again, which helps. I
have a run planned, a lunch to eat and my work running partner (while not
running with me today) is back from her cycle accident seemingly none the
worse for her concussion. I also have one or two small things to do which I
will get done over the course of the week, mails to reply to and possibly a
moderately interesting mail to compose towards the tail end of the week. Or
wait. I'm not sure.
I guess things are... OK today. I'm getting by.
[11:25] Meditation was pretty poor last night. I mean, the hour before
everyone else turned up was pretty great. I really got close to clearing my
head of the stuff and things, the huff and kerfuffle that occupies my waking
thoughts for the most part. However, then the people with the lead feet and
the coughs and the shuffling and the inability to sit still arrived and the
music and the "led meditation" monologue started and it was suddenly so much
harder. Good practice though, I suppose, for being able to meditate places
other than in 'perfect' environments/situations/locations.
Positivity-ly speaking, after meditation I took myself off to the restaurant
next door and treated myself to fish and chips. I can't actually remember if
I have ever eaten at a restaurant on my own before. It was a little sad, but
ultimately... what the hey? I needed a decent meal to keep my strength up and
to feed the mind as well as the body, plus I fancied it and it was great
quality for the price I paid. The talk I went to with the housemate was OK
with some really interesting bits alongside a rather meandering and sometimes
downright unconnected series of topic changes. There was some lovely mist/fog
as I cycled into work this morning (after continuing the apparent new habit of
sleeping well, again) and it has now burnt off to leave another lovely day
which I will enjoy getting out to run in in about an hour or so. All seems
well enough body/fitness-wise, which is good, and the weekend is looking like
it should have a few fun things in it.
With luck and a following wind this evening after work I'll be getting help
from a friend or two (one with a van) to get two sofas and a matching
footstool thingy from Shaun's place to Keith's for storage until I can move
into my rented house. Those and the other things I've been offered by good
friends will take some of the financial load off me in the coming months while
I try to build a new life's foundations from the decimated remains of the old.
The weekend will follow the usual routine this week. However I'll be doing
something a little different at parkrun which I'll talk more about next week
if I remember. I should make sure to get some filling food at Tesco
afterward. There's a friend's birthday meal on one of the evenings of the
weekend and a pub trip for another friend this evening which I should go to.
Sunday will have a run in the morning (shorter than usual for various reasons)
and I'm sure at some point I'll be back in Waterstones reading my current book
(and probably moving on to a new one).
Am I getting the most out of my life? I don't know, I'd like to think I'm
at least now doing more with it than I was at some points previously. What I
am doing is remaking it because, as it turns out, this isn't something that
ever actually stops happening. I wish I'd realised that sooner and embraced
the concept more fully before the requirement to do so was forced upon me.
Hopefully I can do more with my life and through that doing find a new
completeness to replace what I've lost.
[16:20] I decided yesterday that it would be the start day of a challenge for
myself. Just a short one. I'll fill you in on it later on. For now though
it's something for me to work on and it gives me another thing to focus on.
Positives-wise it's another lovely day here. Cold and clear and sunny.
Drinks last night were pleasant, and I got to have a burger and chips for the
first time in ages. My stomach is rumbling again just thinking about it.
That might be something to do with being perpetually hungry at the moment,
though. Tonight is meditation again, lunchtime was a nice time to be outdoors
and after meditation I'm off to a seminar on Alan Turing and the Enigma Cipher
with one of my housemates.
I signed my rental agreement, then scanned and emailed that off and will be
paying my security deposit early next week when my pay clears. Then it's just
a case of waiting for the whole of April to go by before I move in to my new
house and start spending most of my salary on somewhere to live and have room
for all my stuff when it eventually comes back to the UK. There's a slim
chance I may be able to still put down a deposit on a house before five years
have gone by, but it'll mean much higher monthly payments than I would like.
Still, this is the situation I find myself in, so it's the situation I will
I think that's it for today. I'm glad yesterday's entry garnered the interest
that it did. It's nice to know some people are still reading.
[16:00] Mornings continue to be the worst time of day for me. I think it's
because I'm so full of energy and there isn't much to do my mind strays and I
think about things. I'd get up and do something (read, write, do some
exercise which was more than just my morning stuff) but I want to be able to
spend more than an hour or two on it and still be able to go to work without
feeling like I've shot my bolt for the day. Getting up at 05:00 doesn't
really work for the house I'm in at the moment for various reasons. Perhaps
once I've moved I can do something about it. Until then, well, I'll just have
to be strong.
Positives. Last night's science thing was fun. After meditation (which was
interesting, more on meditation below) I headed the 200m or so down the road
and met up with Cat inside the building. We grabbed some drinks and somehow
managed to get seats at the front of the presentation room for the various
short acts. I ended up volunteering to mix the carbon dioxide icecream and
creating a few laughs of my own at the same time due to my interactions with
the performer, the bowl and the copious amounts of liquid CO2
sloshing about the place. So that was pretty cool. There was also cheese
and crackers (but not plates, oddly) and drink, so I didn't go completely
without an evening meal. Given I'd cycled into and out of town four times
and every other time got a snack from the market I wasn't feeling too hungry
by the time I got back to the house some time around 22:00. My session was
pretty good too. Definite progress. Oh, and all the bits of kit I went to
get up and running after I left work last night? I got them all running. So
that was good too. The weather is fabulous here today so I did 10K at lunch
Speaking of running and meditation... I've decided to acknowledge the fact
that my running has always been a form of meditation for me. There's a
passage I read in novelist and runner Haruki Murakami's memoir, What I
Talk About When I Talk About Running which comes pretty close to what
happens to me after about 5K (the distance/amount of time it takes for me to
stop thinking about my life: "I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should
put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void... The thoughts that
occur to me while I'm running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all
different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky as
always." I feel like maybe I can combine those thoughts and feelings with a
form of Vipassana meditation and perhaps begin to extend my runs to marathon
distance and beyond into the ultra distances. Some of my inspiration also
comes from a section of one of the books in the Nulapeiron Sequence
(Context, I think) by John Meaney which details 'running monks'.
After becoming extremely interested in them I Googled and it turns out they
actually exist. Meaney probably based them on the Japanese 'marathon monks'
of Mount Hiei. These monks are from the Tendai school of Buddhism which was a
denomination brought to Japan by the monk Saichō in 806 from China.
Anyway, interesting stuff and food for thought as I work to clear, calm and
clarify my mind. Perhaps more on all this in a later journal entry.
Tonight I'm out for drinks with a friend, which should be fun.
[15:35] Busy day. Which is a positive in and of itself. In to and out of
town after a major power cut fixing switches and servers and all that jazz.
In fact I'm off again now to look at power circuits shortly. OK session,
meditation this evening and a science seminar cheese and wine thing after
that. And the weather's pretty nice too. Did I mention I seen to have the
house I was after too?
[12:00] Running really does seem to soothe the savage breast. Mine at least.
After not really getting to run at all last week post half-marathon (lots of
cycling around during lunch times looking for somewhere to live) I was feeling
really hacked off. I mean seriously. I'd like to think I'm
a nice person, fairly pleasant to be around (if not even fun, sometimes). But
by Friday evening I was ready to start climbing the walls... Which was
actually something I considered on the way home from work; going to the
climbing wall. Instead I ended up getting into the house, dropping my stuff,
changing, pulling on my running shoes and making my way down to the river and
then out to the lock and back again by roundabout highways and byways. 15K
later it was dark and I was back at the house (I can't call it home, it's not
home) and feeling quite a bit more settled. For the first five or six
kilometres my head was as whirly and full of Life Stuff as it is for most of
the day, but as the feet pound lightly and the scenery scrolls by the mind
starts to clear, everything drops away and all that's left is the Path.
Whether it's tarmac, concrete, gravel or grass it's still the Path, the route,
the direction to go to find a modicum of inner peace. If only for a few
hours. I ran 15K on Friday, the parkrun 5K on Saturday, and 19K on Sunday
morning before most of the city even realised it was a new day.
I have to admit that I didn't use the rest of Saturday as fully as I would
have liked. But sometimes it's OK not to go out and be Doing Things every
weekend, isn't it? I did Tesco, helped someone take their shopping to their
car and cleaned the house a bit, but I didn't go to any of the seminars I'd
been thinking about.
Sunday, after the run I did head into town and spend a goodly amount of time
in my usual seat in Waterstones making some more progress on the current book
I'm reading. A muffin and plenty to drink made that as pleasant as it usually
is. Half way through the afternoon I got two different invitations to a curry
for those people who'd been skiing for the past few weeks. Luckily I was able
to turn up early enough that I could get a main course in before I had to head
off for one of the two paid-for-ticket seminars I have booked. That was
pretty awesome (more of a stand-up routine by one of the hosts of a Radio 4
show). It ended up going on long after it was scheduled to finish (which was
brilliant) so I got back quite late and just headed to bed.
The weather is absolutely perfect today, so I'm back to my usual lunchtime
running schedule and potentially the gym this evening. It looks like Monday
and Friday evenings are currently the only ones I don't have anything fun
happening so perhaps they'll be when I'll do gym-like things.
Positives: Plenty of running, almost certainly found a house to move in to
(only not for seven weeks or so), the fun of last night's seminar/talk thing,
running today in wonderful weather, feeling really quite pleased with my body
and weight at the moment, lots of people complimenting me on various things
and a bit of proof that I'm not totally without redeeming features, even if
they may be evident only in my writing, rather than in person.
[11:30] It's my brother's birthday today. Happy birthday to him. He's been a
source of groundedness and sensibleness recently (even though he probably
doesn't really know it). I don't think about him much, we don't talk much,
but whenever we do speak his words remind me that you can deal with everything
if you keep calm, accept your place (created by your own actions) in the world
and try not to dwell on what's gone. No matter how much it Was. Because now
it Is Not. So yes, he's awesome like that.
I had a particularly bad morning today. D'n'B Man next door started up his
earth moving equipment at exactly 03:07 this morning and hadn't had his fill
until some time around 05:00. Tiredness lowers my mental defences somewhat.
Still, life goes on and I'm still kicking.
Positives today include (abbreviated) morning exercises, fixing various
desktop issues for the DBAs, patching a large number of machines
(successfully), planning on going for a run after work (another house viewing
at lunch time, probably the last), having friends who're happy to listen,
chatting to new people and being happy that I have the strength to survive and
flourish despite what can happen in my life.
Meditation last night wasn't particularly good as for some reason I just
wasn't able to get into the right frame of mind, but the time before anyone
else came up to the room (about an hour) was useful to sort through my
thoughts and gain a bit of peace for a while.
The weekend will consist of the usual, say it with me now, "parkrun, Tesco,
reading in Waterstones, a long run on Sunday and some other stuff". In the
evening there's a science festival thing I've got a ticket booked for, so I'll
be off to that. Otherwise, whatever comes up.
[14:40] The whole of this morning, rather than sitting at my desk in an
office, was spent tramping around woodland and fields discussing how to run
about 1K of fibre optic between a Hall and a farm. Frankly, even if it had
been absolutely pissing it down (bright sunshine was burning off the mist) I
couldn't have been much happier with where I was. It's just a shame it had to
end (we finished doing the site survey and I also have to go and see two more
rental properties). I do love being outdoors. I'd like to think that the
future could contain a job where I spend more time not at a desk.
Positives other than this morning are that I went to the gym last night and
actually enjoyed it for the most part. I've done a lot of cycling today
already and there's more to come (I haven't managed to get a run in since the
half-marathon and it's frustrating me). Tonight is meditation again, which I
find myself looking forward to more and more. I'm applied to take up
something new soon which could be equally good for me, if not more so, we'll
have to see as it doesn't start until next month.
I'm just back from looking at two more rental places. One was very dated and
had forced air heating. Not something I've ever been particularly keen on,
and it was furnished (badly, like from the 70s). The other was a second floor
flat (having its own connotations for me) with no storage for bikes. It was
still in the process of being redone and was going to be awesome (condensing
combi boiler, new kitchen, bathroom, all white walls, gas hob, electric oven,
fridge, freezer, washing machine, great rooms, plenty of storage) but I just
don't think it would work for me, despite being a little cheaper than the
house I keep mentioning. I think that house is going to win.
[12:00] I had a letter waiting for me when I got back last night to the house
I live in. It was from the bank. I'd put a significant chunk of the proceeds
of my house sale into a bond as I was planning on not needing it. As I wasn't
going to be coming back to the UK for a while I went with 5.5 years as a
sensible starter period to lock it away for. Now that things have changed I
sent the bank a letter asking (and giving some details as to what had happened
in my life) if I could get it back out again, please, so I could buy a house.
As more than 14 days had gone by from opening it until Big Life Decisions were
actually made the answer was a solid "no" (they cite the Terms & Conditions).
This more than likely means I now can't buy a house for the next 5.4 years.
Of course I have absolutely no idea what will have happened to me in the next
five and a half months, never mind five and a half years, but the chances are
it won't be home ownership. I'll put some effort into asking again, trying
another avenue of attack to get them to release the money, but I don't hold
out much hope. This could mean roughly double what I put into the bond will
go on rent rather than paying down a mortgage while I wait to get access to my
money. I'll look at the numbers more closely to see if I can maybe buy and
use a smaller deposit/get a higher mortgage payment rather than wasting money
on renting long-term.
Positives... I took a cycle into town yesterday afternoon to look at a network
cabinet that was/had been making odd noises. It wasn't any more so I closed
the support ticket, got myself a muffin at a cafe and then went to meditation.
The landlady whose house seems like the most sensible option at the moment
seems to like me a lot and is already looking to get a plumber out to see if
anything can be done about one of the three things I had issue with in her
property (low flow on the shower). Of the other two (no water meter and no
combi-boiler), one is easily solvable and the other, well, I can live with I
expect. She doesn't even seem to want to ask her tenants to show anyone else
around any more, which is nice. Chances are I'll take the place along with
all the wonderful, generous offers of furniture from my friends. My new life
continues to start again.
It was cold this morning so I turned up the collar on my coat as I do whenever
the weather isn't great and I'm cycling. Sometimes it's the smallest things.
[15:45] So I went to see another place to rent. Waited ten minutes. Called
the rental agency. Turns out they had no record of my appointment and, oh
sorry, the place got let yesterday.
[15:55] You know what? All I did last night was watch downloaded television.
It's the first time I've done it in... well, I can't remember. To have an
evening of pure downtime just for me was brilliant. Plus I had soup and bits
to eat so dinner wasn't a hassle either.
I was due to see another house (a flat actually) just before lunch time today
but when I cycled over there at top speed (so as not to take too much time off
from work) it turned out that the agent didn't have all the keys to the front
door so we couldn't get in. That was rather annoying. I'm almost loathe to
rearrange the viewing as I've been getting on very well with the landlady of a
place I saw over the weekend. As I've said before, it's not cheap, but I
think it has everything I need from a house with only a few flaws... and
frankly all the houses without flaws I've tried to get so far have gone to
couples instead of a "professional single male."
Lunchtime session went well. In fact right now I think I'm doing OK. As
someone smashing said today, you have to keep moving forward or you risk
falling off. Wise words.
I'm off to town shortly to investigate why a rack of network equipment is
making "a funny noise" and then it'll be meditation time again. I really do
enjoy the evenings where I get to sit quietly and get my head together. I
would much prefer to be outside though, come the summer, getting some long
walks or runs in.
[14:55] Over the weekend (Saturday really) I ran the gamut of house renting
experiences. I got a call that I hadn't had my offer on a place I liked
accepted, I saw a truly horrible house and one I really think I could live in,
even if the water pressure for the shower is a bit low and it doesn't have a
combi-boiler like my old house did (so gas and electricity bills will be more
expensive than I was used to). The location's mostly OK and while it's quite
expensive it is somewhere I think I could get used to living. At least for
maybe a year or something. Until my life picks up again anyway. As usual I
went to Tesco. I know I bought grapes, they're on my reciept, but I'm damned
if I can find them in the house now. Maybe they fell out on the way back.
What also happened was that I did a lot of running. Saturday AM was parkrun
where I put in a respectable 19:32 for 5K. I wasn't pushing as I just wanted
to make sure my left ankle was OK. Also I needed to keep my powder dry for
the next day when I ran my first ever officially-timed half marathon.
Obviously I wasn't expecting to be in the country when it took place so never
applied for a place. Luckily there was someone who didn't want to run it any
more so I was able to take his. Unfortunately you're not allowed to give
someone your place (you have to send your number back, suffer a heavy refund
charge for same and then the new person has to apply for the place and pay the
full price) so I had to run in the "male super veteran" category (50+ years
old, I think). As such I thought it best not to come in the placings that got
a prize (1st-5th) as that would just be rude to the other people in the
category (and attract unwanted attention) so made sure to slow down enough to
come in 6th for 'my' age group with a time of 1:29:15 (124th overall) which
isn't too bad. What I missed most of all were the mental/vocal pom-poms of
someone I knew being on the course to cheer me on. There was no-one, no
cheerleading squad rooting for me. It said "Phil" on my race number so as I
ran people cheered for Phil. That made me sad even as I enjoyed the wonderful
early Sunday morning weather. I missed being supported, even as I dug inside
of myself for strength I knew I had but hadn't ever tapped before to run the
furthest I ever have in one go. I'm proud of me, because no-one else is
anything other than pleased for me.
I didn't hang around after the race was over just in case someone spotted my
number and enquired about my youthful good looks. Instead I went home,
showered and then spent lunch, the afternoon, evening and dinner with a lovely
friend of whom I have seen far too little in the last five years.
Unfortunately the evening had to end far too soon due to the fact that the
person who owns the house adjoining the one I'm in at the moment has some kind
of mental disorder which means he likes to play building foundation-damaging
drum and bass music at random hours of the day and night. Over the weekend
this meant Friday night until 00:30, Saturday between 11:00 and 16:00, and
Sunday morning from 03:30 to gone 07:45 (I left the house at 07:45). That,
coupled with the running meant that I was a tiredy... person by 20:00 on
Sunday evening. Tiredness still didn't stop me waking up before 05:00.
So, positives... I found a potential house I wouldn't be utterly miserable in,
did parkrun in an OK time, did my first half-marathon in an OK time without
being hauled out of the race and disqualified, spent half of Sunday in good
company talking about interesting things, had nice food and generally survived
I went to look at a house I probably won't like today with Shaun coming along
for the ride, by which I mean I don't have to cycle as he drove, but found
that the appointment was for tomorrow. I can't do tomorrow, so as the next
viewing after that has four other people going to see it and my track record
for getting places I want when other people are applying is poor, I've just
cancelled my slot. I've been doing some research on adding new physical disks
to a running server and then creating a RAID1 pair and... well, probably
that's it. Oh, I'm so far behind on downloaded television I might actually
see if I have time to watch some this evening. Either that or go Hashing.
I think it's over a week since I watched anything, I think. I've lost track.
And the science festival starts today, so maybe I might go and do something at
that instead. Oh and tons of great new music arrived on my friend's server
recently. I miss sharing it.
Today I was sent this
YouTube video. I
[12:35] I have been given a book called "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis.
It's at least second hand and has multiple sentences underlined in blue biro
by a previous owner. For once I don't mind the vandalism. It tells me that
someone else read the words and felt them, identified with them. That means
at least they and Lewis went through something vaguely similar to me. That's
two other people. Not a comfort, so much as a fleeting feeling of solidarity.
It's a hard read. Not because I don't believe in God - nor am I (as far as I
understand it) a spiritual person in any way - but because Lewis' own honest
journaling of his grief and pain is so astonishingly raw and real, strikes a
chord (touches a nerve?), and allows me to see to a much, much lesser degree
what it must be like for others to follow what I have written. It's an
upsetting book. I don't like upsetting people, so I'm sorry if anything I've
written here has been painful to read. It was painful to write. I can't
claim anything approaching the emotional impact that Lewis has achieved in
scarcely 64 pages of text, but what I've written is how I feel, edited for
public consumption. There's far more I could have said. I probably could
have written it all somewhere private. Unexpunged. I can't explain why I
haven't, except that this is my journal, and I have been writing it in this
form for more than thirteen years now. I could change my habit, but I choose
not to and to continue to make it public. Similarly, as much as I value your
reading of it - I am grateful that you do and the support many of you have
offered me - you are equally welcome not to do so in turn.
Lewis' experience was obviously a different and far more distressing one than
mine is (his loving wife died of cancer), but I can feel so much resonance
with his outpouring of loss, grief and bereavement. I wish I was even half as
articulate as he in expressing himself in words, and as such I hope that I
don't cause offence or distress with the clumsiness of mine. I think it's a
book I will return to repeatedly, as I progress through my life from here
(hopefully improving) to show myself how far I may have come.
Positives... I arrived fully one hour early for meditation last night. Even
after sitting in a cafe having a hot chocolate and a cakey thing beforehand
that meant I had an hour on my own without ambient music or any distractions,
and then an hour being 'guided' by the meditation leader along with those
others who turned up. Two hours of calmness. I do think it's helping with
the chaos that roils and storms inside my head. I made asparagus and parma
ham pancake wrap things along with my first attempt at a hollandaise sauce for
dinner with my housemate. They were tasty. I slept most of the night (which
is no mean feat), but had some very strange dreams. I got up this morning
(not always an easy thing) and did some morning exercises. In a little while
I have another house (a ground floor flat this time) to view and one this
evening after work too. Along with the one tomorrow afternoon I think I may
be getting closer to finding somewhere I can live and rent at least
contentedly, alone, while I get myself together again. As usual they're not
cheap, but there are more important things that money right now. Tonight
there's a quiz at the boat house which apparently I'm on a team for, so that's
the evening filled. Over the weekend I'll be doing some running. More about
that on Monday.
I hope your Friday and weekend is pleasant, productive, relaxing and
[13:40] Over the years I have saved 4,318 emails from Kris. All but the 11
most recent ones are wonderful. With those odds though it's impossibly easy
to go into that mail folder and randomly select an email which instantly shows
how much in love we were with each other and how confident we were in facing
the future together. Many of the emails make some mention of problems we had;
stresses, strains, difficulties with moving either her here or me to the US
more recently. Lots show that we hated the fact we were apart so very much in
the time we were Together. We faced and dealt with dozens of issues, big and
small, shared secrets, stories and excitement. The sheer size of the corpus
of experience is overwhelming (so overwhelming that I had to find somewhere
quiet for a while after reading a few of them, yes I know it was a
silly thing to be doing) and taken even in small parts speaks of something so
special, so supremely amazing, that I'm left struggling to comprehend fully
how everything changed so utterly.
But it has. And it's no longer within my power to affect it. Even as I know
I'll always want to. I can only affect how my life goes from here. Which is
what I try to do to the best of the ability that I find myself with each day.
I saw another house last night. Location, cost, upkeep; they were all
perfect. It was just too damned small. Once all of my stuff arrived I'd have
been knee-deep in boxes (or all the stuff from the boxes). At least I think I
would. Apparently also it was hugely expensive to heat. Prohibitively so.
So, another place crossed off the list. I have three more places to look at
for the moment. One today, one tomorrow and one on Saturday. They're all
quite expensive, but their locations are pretty good and they all seem in good
order so I should see what's what with them.
Positives... I went to the cinema with two friends last night. Saw an
amusing film with plenty of fun and explosions. Not completely brain-dead
either, which was nice. I slept moderately well, the weather is a whole lot
better than yesterday, I've been for a 10K run, and I have a bit of work to
do. I have meditation as usual tonight which will hopefully continue to help
me calm my thoughts and give me the peace I'm so very much trying to find. My
cold is slowly going away and I have at least the beginnings of a few ideas
for things to fill my time up which could help distract me from remembering
that half of me has gone.
[14:00] Today I have mostly been getting chilled to the bone and completely
soaked looking at ugly, horrible rental properties all over this city during
my lunch hour. Why can no-one have somewhere nice to rent at a reasonable
price? Just somewhere that looks like its been taken care of a little, maybe
loved, at least now and then. I hate this. I miss my house, my home. It
doesn't feel like I'll ever find somewhere I can call mine again that I won't
feel miserable in.
No, wait... positives. Positives. A positive: I now know there are three
more places here I definitely never want to live.
[14:20] Positives: I came to work. Nothing has gone wrong at work. While I
didn't get the house I wanted to rent I get my couple of hundred pounds
arrangement fee back soon (and I probably wouldn't have liked the house
anyway). I had a useful session. I have meditation this evening. Dinner
with Kate tonight should be nice. I have a roof over my head. My next four
house viewings are tomorrow (now approaching twenty viewings) and one of them
might be OK. More friends have emailed me with supportive things to say. I
got through dealing with more paperwork and standing in front of the glass
partition doing the worst thing in the world without breaking down, again. My
cold seems to be finally going away.
Really, what do I have to be sad about?
[12:30] I tried climbing at the local wall here on Friday. It wasn't terribly
great. I may go again, but probably not for a while. It's not particularly
good. I did end up talking to three people who in turn invited me out for a
drink at a local pub afterwards so I didn't end up getting to bed until gone
midnight. So that was a pleasant way to spend the evening if nothing else.
On Saturday morning I did the parkrun. As I wasn't pacing Ian this week, and
rather than push myself utterly I just followed someone round and tried not to
get left behind. I got a reasonably good time considering (19:40). It's nice
to know that despite feeling like I've had every single bit of stuffing
knocked out of me I can still run a reasonable 5K. The rest of Saturday was
the usual Tesco shopping, lunch and then going into town to read in
Waterstone's for the whole afternoon as I seem to find myself doing now, if
nothing else, to fill up the day. Weekends now consist of trying to find the
mental energy to find things to do to distract myself from loneliness. I was
supposed to be called with an invite to a party in the evening, but it never
happened, so I stayed at the house and caught up on a bit of downloaded
television for the first time in a few weeks. I was in bed by the time one of
my housemates returned from two weeks of skiing. We saw each other in the
morning though as I contemplated the torrential rain and decided not to go for
a long run. We chatted, caught up and then both headed out to meet some of
the other people who had been on the holiday and come back at the same time.
Tea and cakes in town and then I was back in Waterstone's again. Eventually I
just became too frustrated with things and cycled home in the worsening
weather (very heavy rain turning to sleet and then snow (which didn't stick)
with high winds) and felt quite miserable. I did some housework in the
afternoon and then made pizzas with the housemate before Top Gear, which I
found myself nodding off during. Early bed followed.
Moreso than ever before life feels like a meaningless treadmill of weekdays
followed by a weekend. Then repeat. Before, filling the evenings and
weekends (and the working day to some degree) was simply something to do as I
counted down to seeing Kris again, and then after we made the decision to
emigrate, a countdown to leaving everything behind and beginning our new life
together (with all its ups and downs). While I waited here I could pick some
fun things to do, exercise (also fun) or enjoy being in my home doing nothing
much at all to fill the time, because behind it all there was the knowledge
that it wasn't forever; something new, something equal parts wonderful and
difficult was coming. Everything was leading up to Change. I was happy and
utterly scared. But more than anything else was just a real feeling of
anticipation. Now I don't see anything good coming any more, even if one day
something will. It makes every moment, every evening and weekend, so much
harder to do something with when everything I believed in has been pulled out
from under me and I don't have love to look forward to sharing, all I have is
the remembrance of random snatches of a favourite, purposefully off-key song
or something else that makes my vision go hazy. I've been set back so far on
the journey I thought I'd begun. I know there's fun to be had, so many things
to do and meaning and purpose to be found in my life and everything else. I
know because I've experienced it before. Now though I have to try and let die
off all the feelings I had and stop thinking about the past because that's all
just wasted energy, and concentrate on what I can affect, which is me and my
future. It's hard though. So very hard.
Today I'm into town to patch in some new network kit and then seeing two
potential rental properties. Neither is cheap, neither is in exactly the
right part of town, but there's a good chance they'd be nice enough and
somewhere I can reestablish myself for a while while I work out What Happens
Next. This evening I may Hash if I have the energy.
I can do this. I know, because I am doing this.
[15:35] If I'd left this job the next person in the role would have been doing
a lot more network-oriented stuff. The Networks guy has been doing everything
himself for far too long and he needed some backup. As I'm now (still) the
person in the role I'm suddenly doing a lot more network-oriented stuff. This
is good as I really wasn't getting much out of my working day before now and
was seriously looking forward to leaving here and starting something new,
whatever I might have ended up doing. It could have been anything, that's
what was beginning to excite me so much. I'd made a lot of contacts to do
volunteer work for a start, while I found my feet in a new place, one of the
things I'd got organised was at an endangered wolf center which would have
Anyway, in last couple of weeks I have been spending a lot more time away from
my desk doing physical networking, seeing where all our network kit is across
town, and just before that (while I still thought I was leaving) was seriously
beginning to get up to speed on Cisco CCNA qualifying knowledge. Obviously at
the moment my desire to learn (or do much of anything) has been a bit...
curtailed. But I am slowly finding within myself the desire to pick up the
pieces of me which were so painfully blown apart. It's up to me to make this
new role I have something I enjoy more and something I'm proud to be paid to
In other news, despite the fact that I'm living at a friend's house and for
the last two weeks and until Saturday it's been just me and the cat (I'm not
so keen on cats, really), I've finally gathered enough energy to start looking
at places to rent on my own. It feels strange to have to start all over again
paying probably more than double what my mortgage was as rent (and having to
buy furniture and white goods again), but I've become used to having my own
space (and fridge/freezer) or at least only sharing it with one other person
with whom I was already sharing more than living space and crockery. Sharing
with other people, even friends, just doesn't feel right any more. I have to
move out. If nothing else, I need somewhere to put all of my things when they
come back from the USA.
I've been to see a few places in the last couple of days and been quite
depressed by the whole endeavour. Even more depressing is that my
forseeable future's lunchtimes and immediately-after-works are filled only
with house and flat viewings, or important appointments of other kinds. Lots
of rushing around on my bike to see ugly, cramped (but still expensive)
accommodation when all I can think of is the house and furniture that I sold.
It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it was mine.
Still, I'm sure I'll find somewhere I can call home again, eventually.
The weekend stretches out in front of me, uninvitingly. My aim is to try and
find some joy with which to fill it.
[09:00] I didn't emigrate to the USA. Even though I sold my house and all the
electrical goods and furniture, locked the money from those sales into
investments and a long term bond, shipped all of my other possessions and gave
notice on my job, I'm still here. I would have left on 20th February.
Instead I'm now in the first stages of divorce. It's not something I could
have believed I'd ever have to go through and I'm so very sad about it. In
fact even now it still feels completely and utterly unreal. But when one
person gives so many reasons why the marriage can't continue there's no other
I had completely committed myself, body, heart and mind to making the very
best of what I saw as another part of the biggest adventure ever. Marriage
was such an exciting adventure, emigration the newest chapter to be written.
I am very lucky to have an employer who, through my line manager, has allowed
me to keep my job (thus saving me from complete loss of all aspects of my life
here and meaning I at least still have a salary), and a number of wonderful
friends one of whom has allowed me to move into his boxroom while I work out
what to do next. Right now I don't really know what that is, other than to
try to rebuild my life and regain interest in it. At the moment not a lot of
things are interesting. I was in the final stages of closing down, shutting
off, cutting all ties with everything and everyone here. I was so ready to
go. And now I have to reconnect with the bad as well as the good, with the
things I was pleased to be leaving as well as those it's nice that I'm not.
I'd become so lonely here, so while I liked this place, I knew it was time to
go because the most important part of my life, the other half of me, was now
elsewhere. It was going to be a huge and difficult change for me, but for all
the very best reasons. Now my loneliness has so much greater depth. Now
there's no-one out there waiting for me, who I'll see again soon, or who I can
share everything with. Here I remain.
I miss Kris tremendously, every moment of every day. I miss her smile and her
laugh, her heart and her intelligence. I miss having her presence in my life,
even when it was on another continent, and knowing that I was a presence in
hers. Every day I remember all kinds of things about our life together, the
most random, strangest, most wonderful things, big and small. Only now they
make me so desperately unhappy because there's no-one to remember or share
them, or my new experiences, with. The vows I made are on their way to being
nullified, and that too makes me unutterably sad. My heart is broken.
This will probably be my only post about what has happened. The many reasons
for the end of the marriage are shared, complicated and private and not
something to be aired in public. What I've said above only skims the surface
of what I think and feel. The upshot is that now all I have is me, and it's
me and me alone that I have to rely on to give my life meaning again.
Wish me luck.