Category Archives: in between

there’s no place like home

how the hell should i know

More or less the sound of internal dilemma. I’ve been thinking about my future, you see, and this feeling I have about travelling elsewhere has finally come to a head; to the point where leaving this country for a different one has gripped my imagination. For the past few weeks, my mind has been haunted by the prospect of working in Australia and going over there for a year at least, before I get too old, as I’ve reached this edge in my life where doing what is safe is no longer kidding me.

Let’s face it: I’m not convinced that being in a job which doesn’t inspire me is how I should be spending the rest of my twenties. When I was made redundant from the Night Shift, there was this flicker of instinct urging me to go, to leave the Emerald Isle for another opportunity, but I just didn’t take it. I’m risk-adverse; I have an aversion to risk. And it’s down to the fact that leaving these pleasantly mundane yet convenient shores may result in a tragic downfall that could possibly embarrass me until the end of my life. I mean, come on, nobody wants egg on their face, not if they can help it, so if packing my bags and hitting the land of Australia should drain all my money and leave me practically penniless and homeless to boot, then whose fault is that, exactly? All mine, they would say.

And my other half isn’t as hot on the plan as me, though I wouldn’t really blame him: he’s even worse than I am when it comes to taking a risk. Since the recession struck the year he finished uni, his ability to secure any steady, meaningful employment has not been very good and he’s scared that leaving the only job he has (freelance, and only part-time, at that) could mean he might never get a job again, regardless of Australia or any other country. Many have scoffed at his lack of confidence and indecision, and have even done this in front of me, as I grit my teeth with a smile (fucking remember who you’re talking to!), but society has raised men to always believe they’ll get a job, that the woman needn’t worry, that he’ll always provide for her needs. Alas, how times have changed and so have the women, willing or no. Nowadays, you’re more likely to bump into a man being supported by his girlfriend or a partner earning way more than he does, so it’s pretty hard to ignore the source of low male esteem. Not only have the women had their fairy tales shattered by the great financial drain, but men have also lost their “purpose” in the traditional sense, and no man wants to feel like they can’t be proud or worth something.

So I’m hoping that he’ll come around, that I won’t have to leave here without him. Because I shall. I shall have to leave. I can’t stay in this place any longer. I’m done with this place and I need to move on. I have the money, but the timing… it’s always the timing! I’m supposed to finish German this summer and supplement my qualifications with yet another exam so I can further trap myself in the coffin that is “finance” – but I’m not even sure if I’ll ever come back to this country and use that qualification. I try not to revisit a place where I once lived. There’s just a sadness about it, like you’re going back in time, reversing all the progress you’ve made in your life. I know other people view such visitations differently, but I certainly don’t. I’m still twenty-something. My mind’s still tatty and shit from all the angst. I have to move on!

"fish for you thought?"

“then you’re hit by a stone”

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somebody hates me

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Okay, okay, perhaps I’m not that paranoid, but there’s a cold breeze blowing somewhere here in the office and it ain’t from that window, I’m telling you now! Having spent the afternoon feeling bored and running out of ways to convince other people I’m busy (ha!), I decided to browse the shared folders for my own department and came across some emails relating to myself. A manager disputing assessments, no big deal, part and parcel, happens all the time, but when the same bloody person is sending emails about you, asking if they need to sit down and “chat” with your manager because they believe you’re somehow out to get them, then that’s a different kettle of fish, am I right?

But who is this manager, anyway? Have I ever seen his face or spoken to him on the phone? It’s kind of creepy knowing that someone you can’t remember has assumed you’re at war over stupid performance assessments. But Jesus, who is he? Is he handsome at all? He better be handsome! I can’t have a hater if they aren’t good-looking, you know…


chickens with beer

what my saturdays never look like

what my saturdays never look like

Today was the first Saturday where I turned up to German class slightly hungover. We went to a friend’s place last night for a drink, naturally leading to a couple of drinks, and then a few drinks, and then some more drinks. Eventually, the drinking had to end around half-past one (in the morning, of course!) and we took a taxi home, resulting in a bleary-eyed student turning up 10 minutes late to their German class at 9.30 am and wishing that the teacher would ignore their presence completely. Given my record as an eager beaver, being ignored was not entirely possible and I made some mistakes as I battled against the throbbing in my skull. Navigating Berlin theoretically through a textbook on a Saturday morning? Not the easiest thing!

(Will not go drinking on Fridays.)

But I did feel pretty good when it came to the results from last week’s test. My score was 35.5 out of 40 (89%), a good indication that everything I’ve learnt has managed to stay where it should, and tempered by the fact that my essay was not so accomplished.

* * *

“Was ist dein Traumberuf?” (v.2)

Mein Traumberuf ist Schriftstellerin. Ich möchte gerne ein lässige, interessanten Job machen, wo ich allein arbeiten kann und ich meine Fantasie spielen lassen kann

Momentan arbeite ich mit vielen Leuten in einem Büro. Die Atmosphäre ist sehr streng und die Fantasie beschränkt. Ich muss oft in einem ruhigen Zimmer oder zu Hause arbeiten!

Obwohl ich gern mit meinen Kollegin und Kolleginnen arbeite, kann ich nie schreiben, weil wir immer reden. Ich möchte lieber Kriminalgeschichte und übersinnlicher Geschichten schreiben. 

Um ehrlich zu sein, das Geld ist nicht so wichtig.

* * *

Even if the grammar isn’t correct, I think my teacher likes that I try to master new things. “Slow down a little,” she tells me, “and wait for the lessons where [subordinating conjunctions] are explained in more detail.” Judging from her disposition, it seemed like my essay had surprised her with its content – perhaps I was too honest about my dream job!?

Anyway, still deep in this wonderful mood which is down to drinking with friends on a Friday. Until that evening, I had no idea how much I actually missed being able to relax and enjoy the company of friends. I have spent so long being with people who don’t understand me, who don’t like me as a person, who don’t share enough of my interests, that I’ve almost come to believe I’m no longer an interesting person, that the person I truthfully am was utterly destroyed. Sure, I may have been annoying, I may have stepped on some toes now and then, but there isn’t any malice in my actions and no tendency to negate the strengths and skills in others. If there are honestly people out there who need to use me as an excuse to hate their own lives, or <insert some other bullshit reason, like having zero self-discipline or semblance of drive>, then pity is all I have for their poor, shitty spirits.

They’re only birds who can’t fly!

tweet tweet tweet!

tweet tweet tweet!


my nemesis

time to get the claws out!

time to get the claws out!

Be honest, everyone needs a nemesis. Everyone needs, at some stage in their lives, that one individual they just cannot stand, for whatever reason, to somehow get in the way of a good afternoon. Your nemesis can be anyone: any age, any race, any gender. They can even have the same interests and look exactly human. The main thing is that you hate them, loathe them, want them gone from the universe – and you’d be lying if you didn’t sort of want the arrangement.

These days I have a nemesis myself, or rather, I like to think that I have one since they frequently visit the back of my mind. I don’t mean to think of them, either. I could be sitting there reading or playing Nintendo when suddenly up they spring, pulling at my thoughts like they know I’ve forgotten. What is it with this person? What is it with their name? It’s not like I chart their downfall, wish them a horrid disease or pray that they suffer a lingering death. They’re just there out of nowhere, lurking around in my head like a monster who has actually murdered my boyfriend. I just work with this person, rarely face-to-face, in different departments, and yet here we are in this strangely venomous binding, and simply because our ‘friendship’ turned ugly.

I guess it’s not surprising, given how our ‘friendship’ started out with hatred in the first place. Call me a snob, but I just cannot stand a certain type of person. I get along well with people as a whole, but there are types I just cannot stand because I do not respect them. In the case of my darling nemesis, I suppose it’s their cowardice and self-centredness that gets my goat the most. We used to work with each other in the previous company, and being a new colleague at the time on the Night Shift, my nemesis wanted to prove they were worth their weight in gold and behaved in such a way that I couldn’t abide them. Needless to say, without going into detail, we gradually reached this point where we couldn’t even talk or sit in the same room.

bestest friends!

bestest friends!

But peace was eventually made, and what a lovely peace it was! We were both so relieved not to ‘hate’ each other that our friendship went into overdrive, fierce and strong until we both transferred to opposite departments, no longer seeing one another as much as we used to. A few months down the line, we met again in the same department of a different company, but this time it seemed like our friendship had disappeared and we had very little in common. When we tried to find common ground, there just wasn’t any left – more so when I transferred to the role I have now, where any attempt to communicate was greeted by this person with suspicion or downright rudeness. On random days they would talk me to death, barely letting me speak, then on others ignore my presence, as if we had argued. The final straw came when they constantly failed to apologise for their clearly aggressive and irrational attitude. “Who needs a ‘friend’ like that?” I asked myself. “I certainly don’t!”

And thus we come full circle; this poor angel is once again my nemesis. While I can’t quite say that I relish this opportunity, there is still a weird comfort in hating this person again. And what do I care if having a nemesis isn’t productive, healthy or rewarding? You just need one sometimes to reinforce the fact you are right, fucking right; that your method is better and they cannot fucking scorn you. As I described this to someone before, when they asked me why the heck I even bother with all this nonsense, I replied that it’s like being in love, but the opposite way round. Your attention is on them and you want to know what they’re doing, you want to know, as much as those in love want to know, precisely what that slimy fuck-up is doing for no particular reason. When you hate someone so much that you start to think of them over all others you thought you despised, then you’ll know who the hell your bloody nemesis is… you’ll just bloody know and you can’t do jack about it!

A toast to them, rotten bastard!!

  • 10:15 – 2 x Marmite on toast & 1 x banana
  • 13:00 – Italian tortelloni leftovers
  • 16:30 – chocolate muesli with semi-skimmed milk
  • 18:00 – sausage roll & cherry tomatoes
  • 20:30 – home-made potato wedges with Caesar salad
  • 21:00 – 2 x chocolate chip cookies

Plus: 0 x decaff tea; 5 x normal tea; 2 x cup of water


the only asian in the village

when evil sleeps

when evil sleeps

I’m just too tired to go into the controversial stuff I’ve been up to today. Actually, when I think about it, I’m pretty sure my body still has a sleep-related debt from the Night Shift as it can’t be that simple, switching from one time-zone to another, it really can’t;  especially since I’m no longer fuelled with caffeine. Or maybe this is what it feels to be like everyone else? You just do your job, eat your food, laugh and bitch, then hang out with friends, sleep with your lover, and plan the next thing that will ease a bit of your boredom. If so, I’m not really warming to this ‘feeling’ everyone shares; I’m kind of used to feeling weird and strangely left out. I’m still ‘odd’, probably; no doubt in a way more people seem to accept (or kindly ignore, whichever). All the same, it really is bizarre to think I could be possibly “normal” after so many years just being the complete opposite.

I used to have “Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)“, you see, a complicated form of shyness which crippled me in childhood until I was seventeen – and I’m not saying this just to sound wildly pretentious. It was something I genuinely had and only became aware of once I no longer had it. If you’re not aware what this condition actually is (and I wouldn’t be surprised; not many people want to talk about it), then let me explain: an anxiousness you feel where anything public is painfully impossible. You can’t look anyone in the eye, you stutter when you speak, you sweat at the thought of people somehow judging you, etc.

But sufferers can be affected in various ways, from fearing to write or speak in front of a crowd to avoiding public toilets or laughing at jokes, therefore what troubles one sufferer of Social Anxiety won’t necessarily trouble somebody else. For instance, writing in public never bothered me, I was fine with public transport, and I didn’t mind hanging out with friends, as long as they gave me plenty of notice (so I could build up the courage!) and went to quiet places where my voice could be heard. What I couldn’t bear, though, were things like showing humour and honesty. If I heard something funny, I’d try not to laugh because I thought that laughing was ugly. If I had an opinion, I kept it to myself, afraid that people would sneer at me. And if I felt angry? I would blame myself for the error or force the anger down to hide this unsightly emotion. And walking down the street was the most agonising of chores… I used to think that people driving their cars towards me were staring at my face and knew that I was an idiot.

Jesus, quite a head-fuck, right?

mmm mmmmm mm!

mmm mmmmm mm!

And it’s difficult to say when I started to feel like that. It had something to do with the way I grew up, I suppose. Without saying too much (because of privacy, whatever that is), I grew up in a town where Asians were downright rare, and when I say “rare”, I mean there weren’t any other Asian kids at my school except for me and my brother (until another Asian family moved in a few years down the road, but we’ll ignore them for now). Due to this being the case, the neighbours used to stare and sometimes call out randomly any Asian nationality they could think of, as if they were playing a game show with you as the prize. Back then, as a teenager trying to find their feet whilst not tripping over, this was far from the most amusing event. It was, to put it bluntly, bloody annoying. I mean, why the hell couldn’t they just ask me where the hell I was from instead of pointing me out in the street like a fucking leper?

But I’m over those issues now, I bloody am. Like I said in a previous post, my time in Japan more or less cured me – I totally recommend going to a foreign country alone as a cure for Social Anxiety. Drugs, on the other hand, are a massive no-no. The symptoms just aren’t worth the long-term effects. You won’t be in this head-fuck forever, unless you enjoy being this way and don’t want to change your image, but the condition comes and goes, depending on what you go through, so don’t do the drugs; it’s really not worth it. Introducing myself incessantly in Japanese was how I gained some confidence and overcame all those feelings of fearfulness and anxiety, and being Asian in an Asian country was certainly an advantage as I slowly escaped from my shell without anyone looking…

just keep swimming

just keep swimming

So how on earth am I different to other people if I’m no longer “socially anxious”? Well, think about it: if you spend so many years avoiding other people, what do you learn socially? Nothing, hardly anything. You don’t get to know all those socially useful things like how it feels to be hated as you’ve never let anyone actually know you, or how to admit you dislike someone else as you’ve never entertained any thoughts on one person. And you may find some people just too hard to comprehend because you just can’t imagine how they became that way in the first place (ie. perfectly sound due to happily married parents), or how to help them with problems you’ve only ever seen in a soap. But what you do become good at, and these are only examples from my personal experience, is how to recognise when something is troubling a stranger and empathising with those from exceptional backgrounds. You’ve been there, done that, dug the grave to go with it, and there are people out there who may grateful that you suffered, as without that suffering, how else could you grasp what they’re truthfully feeling?

Hmm… food for thought!

  • 07:15 – chocolate muesli with semi-skimmed milk
  • 10:30 – 1 x banana
  • 11:30 – a few Maltesers
  • 13:00 – beef (?) lasagne with onion rings
  • 14:00 – Peanut “9Bar”
  • 16:00 – small portion of dried mango
  • 19:30 – Italian tortelloni with tomato, onion & cheese with salad

Plus: 3 x decaff tea; 1 x normal tea; 3 x cup of water


enjoy the silence

the joys of quality assessment

the joys of quality assessment

Believe me, it used to be different. I used to enjoy finding mistakes and having a giggle. There were days where all I did was scoff at calls gone epically wrong, not to mention asking why certain people still had their jobs. But soon, the novelty had to wear off. I got tired of the numerous mistakes and the fact that hardly anyone was meeting required standards. Instead of smirking like a dick, I was shredding my soul into a million pieces, bashing my head against imaginary walls. I wanted someone to pass, to show me that I worked with a brilliant team!

And then the floor was given a target.

After more than three months, management were forced to acknowledge that performance was important in other ways than money. They began to fret over calls and anxiously appealed (in person!) the ones which had failed for the simplest things – and all to avoid the Boss demanding why their teams were utterly rubbish. And because of this juicy development, I can imagine no greater moment than seeing my former team leader’s face as she reads a detailed report on the performance of her team (she never did value that side of the job!) Ah… what a face!

So what did I eat?

  • 07:15 – tuna mayo on toast
  • 11:00 – Alpro blackberry yoghurt
  • 13:00 – sweet & sour vegetables with rice leftovers & an apple
  • 14:30 – Peanut “9Bar”
  • 16:00 – small portion of dried mango
  • 19:00 – fish finger sandwiches with pickled gerkins & garlics

Plus: 6 x decaff tea; 1 x normal tea; 3 x cup of water


allergies & brief holidays

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oh my eyes

There must have been extra mould in the air-con as today was simply awful. My eyes were dry, my nose was runny – I just felt like being in bed with a mug of Lemsip! Since the doctor advised me to take anti-histamines and spray my eyes with Optrex, these symptoms have more or less disappeared, to the point where I only go through half a packet of tissues and can hold a conversation without sneezing my face off. But today… I don’t know what happened today. It’s like being back at Square One. If this treatment isn’t working then what else am I going to do, apart from finding a job where the office doesn’t have air-con and actually opens the windows?

I think feeling bad has influenced my eating… 

  • 07:15 – chocolate chip muesli with semi-skimmed milk;
  • 11:00 – small portion of dried mango & a few Maltesers;
  • 13:00 – homemade tuna mayo sandwich with pickled gerkins;
  • 14:15 – fudge flapjack (this lasted me until 16:30, I’m that slow!);
  • 19:00 – sweet & sour vegetables with rice;
  • 20:00 – some bison grass chocolate.

Plus: 10 x decaff tea (approx.); 1 x normal tea; 3 x cup of water

yes, chocolate with BISON GRASS

yes, chocolate with BISON GRASS

I actually brought that chocolate from Poland, forgot to mention that. A friend who used to work the Night Shift returned to Poland last year, so many Facebook messages later, I finally booked a flight to the city of Poznań and stayed a couple of nights to sample the West. Now, before you think that was evil, leaving my boyfriend alone on Valentine’s Day (of all days!), let me describe how evil it would have been not to visit a friend I haven’t seen in months and also spend it alone while my boyfriend is working…

Pretty evil.

So we spent the first night settling into each other’s company again, and I must say that it felt really good to talk about our thoughts, our lives, our feelings, our dreams, without holding back or fearing what the other might think. We ate at a local restaurant in Old Market Square, slowly working our way through ambitious piles of boiled and baked dumplings, supping non-alcoholic beers (the place had lost its license), then lolling around in a dimly lit bar with sofas, musical instruments, and tram tracks on the floor from when the bar was once a public railway – the perfect setting for my first Mad Dog!

old market square

old market square 1

DSCN0442

old market square 2

polish soup

żurek (traditional polish soup)

Of course we did more cultured things, such as viewing Polish artwork in the local museum, attending my friend’s cousin’s singing recital, and gaping at the cathedral where the first kings of Poland had been laid to rest. As I didn’t stay in Poland too long, it’s a little premature to give an impression of what that country is like, but you can certainly see how different it is from cities without Communist influence. The architecture’s blank and grim, it’s difficult to tell what every building is for, and the busiest streets are packed to the rafters with banks because they’re the only ones who can pay the high rent. Nevertheless, methinks I’ll be going again to see this interesting country – probably when the weather clears up in the summer and lets me see the sky which should rightly shine on Poland!