September 3rd, 2004



Just in case anybody tries to get in touch or worries why I've gone quiet -- I will be on an Away Day all day, so not checking email/news/LJ/etc. Will have my mobile with me but it'll probably be switched off at least some of the time so as not to interrupt the exciting presentations.

Feeling nauseous and exhausted, and not really in the mood to go and trade buzzwords with a bunch of suits.

Feedback session

The Away Day was surprisingly fun. Lots of chances to talk to people and find out what they actually do, which of course means useful ideas to feed back to the web team for how to proactively improve our service to the different divisions of the university, rather than just reactively responding to short-term requests ...

... I said "proactively", didn't I? Without irony. Oops.

I have, however, discovered that I really enjoy getting people to discuss things. It's fascinating watching people develop ideas & think out loud, and it's great trying to draw people into the discussion when they don't think they have anything to contribute. And even more so when they obviously think it's all boring, but before they know it they're looking interested.

To be fair, at the beginning I thought it was going to be all boring. But then I realised that I was actually getting really excited about Making Things Work Better, and especially Making People Think More. The only problem is I talk too much; I need to get better at making other people talk more.

Also, there were a lot of "why does/doesn't your department do [whatever]" kind of questions, and as the only representative of the web team there (the other people from MISD work in totally different bits of the department) I spent a lot of time defending, explaining, and justifying the work we do. For all that I whinge about it while I'm doing it I do actually think it's worthwhile, and I really enjoyed being able to try to explain why. I don't think I did it as well as I could have done, but at least I tried. And people listened. Which was nice.

Now I just need to make the enthusiasm for doing my job last till Monday morning.

I also need to get more confidence in speaking in public. I'm much better now than I used to be, but I still get flustered when I feel like people Just Aren't Getting It. Part of the reason I'm so much more confident in writing is that I've spent years and years writing, just for myself, with nobody there to laugh at me when the words come out all weird. Clearly I need to do the same with speaking -- just talk to myself when nobody's listening. For some reason, though, it seems so much harder; I can imagine myself talking out loud but it's very hard to actually talk out loud when I'm on my own. Just to babble, the way I babble in writing, getting the hang of the way the words feel, playing with them until I can throw them up and catch them between my teeth with my eyes shut.

I feel like this is a lesson I keep coming back to (and maybe one day I'll actually do the homework) -- that there's a kind of mental block, an obstacle that I think I'm going to call a "Just-Do-It barrier", that's practically impossible to break the first time, and a little more manageable the second time, and little by little it gets progressively easier until presumably one day it's almost second nature, the way writing is to me now. I've found this with karate -- more so because it's a physical skill and I haven't the grounding in physical skills that I have in intellectual ones -- and I've found it with music, particularly recently when I've been trying to force myself to learn to improvise. I'm good at visualising and planning things in my head, but breaking the Just-Do-It barrier is a leap that all too often I just can't make.

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On a slightly different tack... Do you ever get a kind of vertigo-like feeling accompanied by incoherent wishes along the lines of "I want to do everything! I want to be everything! And I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME!"? Or is that just me?