Emerging, blinking, into spring
The Crook O'Lune this Aft O'Noon #whyiammovingbacktolancashire
Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.
It's been a bit of a long dark winter, to be honest. It's had its upsides -- not least the discovery that this view appears on the cycle path from Halton to Caton -- which, come June, will be the location of my local Co-op. Just when it feels like this is the hardest thing I've ever done, the reasons for doing it reassert themselves big time.
But there have been some downsides too. I had a little meltdown just before Christmas. I was cycling back to the Interim Bungalow in the dark and the cold, having just failed to get a project agreed by the technology board at NGO X, and on the same day having had a really disheartening conversation with someone who I'd been pinning a lot of hopes on for another project, and I burst into tears. The project should have been agreed, but I hadn't put enough time into it. The conversation should have gone better -- I have since learnt that he's a man not known for his listening skills, but I could have prepared better for it. A third project should have got external funding and didn't -- nothing I could have done about that but now we needed a Plan B, and I hadn't given that any thought at all for weeks. And there were other things, that people who work for organisations with blogging policies don't write about on their blogs. Work was looking shit from all directions, basically. I hadn't seen it coming, and I didn't know what to do.
I am generally one of those people who steps into a vacuum, says 'oh all right, I know it's not technically my job, but then it's not technically *anyone's* job, so I'll have a go at sorting that out'. Several of those projects landed on my desk that way. And usually that's fine, but there were too many of them, they were all going wrong, and -- crucially -- I didn't have any expansion space. I have been working part time for five years and it's one of the best decisions I ever made, but before Lancaster Cohousing came along, before I was selling a house and living in two places and grappling with logistics and managing a website and a document collection and coordinating an allotment group and trying to do all this by bike and bus and train... if I needed to do a bit more, then I did. I think all part time managers do -- they check their email, they make themselves available, they spend a couple of hours here and there on their non-working days thinking about things that need thinking about, writing things that need writing, generally aiming to cover the gaps while not losing their precious work-life balance.
But I can't do that at the moment. I felt like it had been raining for about two months then there was a huge mudslide.
And then there was Christmas, which was also kind of dark. What I really wanted to do was sleep, and hang out in my pyjamas watching Inspector Morse. What happened was we had Christmas Day with ex-housemate S, her Quiet Young Man, his parents, Tungsten & Particle, all three of M's offspring, his ex-wife, and her mother. This was not my idea, and I initially resisted it pretty assertively. But it was our last Christmas in Oxford, and in the end I went along with it because both M and ex-housemate S like having a house full of people at Christmas, M really wanted to see his children on the day, and this was the only way it was likely to happen. I didn't think there was a way I could reasonably avoid it without making a statement that I didn't want to make (nobody who likes Christmas ever believes that some of us really would be happier on our own with some sherry and a good book) -- but I was tired, I was stressed, I drank too much and it was generally not my finest hour. Boxing Day was no fun at all.
It was all linked with the wider malaise though, which itself is all linked with bigger, deeper changes, and maybe it was worth going through it -- as several days later my head cleared and a possible way forward emerged. I talked stuff through with my manager right at the end of December, and we made some decisions that weren't that easy (giving stuff up is hard, especially if you are the one who made it happen in the first place) but I think will see me through this transition year, work wise, and then we will reassess.
Not out of the woods yet, but the light is returning and the crocuses are out, so optimism is easier. My new house has a roof and windows, and is no longer an abstract concept. And I've joined Pinterest, to help me start imagining what Lancaster Jo's life will be like.