Janet (j4) wrote,

How will you go

We've been in Oxford for just over a month now, so it's probably time for an update...

Our four-bedroom flat is pretty good. We've unpacked a lot more than I thought we would have done by this time, and even the rooms which are still full of boxes are already in the shape that we want them to be in, with furniture in (more or less) the right places. And it looks like there's going to be room to have all our books out on the shelves! (Okay, when I say all our books, I'm not counting the thousands which are still lodging with our respective parents.) We don't yet have a wardrobe, and after one too many arguments over the unbearable crapness of IKEA I really can't face another journey through flatpack hell, so instead I'm going to try to buy one on eBay.

We're more or less getting used to being woken up at 6am every day by Iceland (the loading bay is just across the carpark from our bedroom window), but there are lots more positive sides to living in a shopping precinct: the Co-op is a minute's walk from the front door, the newsagent is underneath us (we haven't yet gone downstairs in dressing-gowns to get the Sunday papers, but I fear it's only a matter of time), there are lots of other useful local shops around, and about 8 different bus services go into town from the stop outside our front door.

It's about a 20-25 minute cycle into work, but that's in the dark & rain, and with a pulled muscle in my chest from all the coughing when I was ill; it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes in the summer. Parking the bike at home is something of a problem, though -- my front wheel got stomped while I had the bike chained to a drainpipe in the residents' carpark, so I'm now keeping the bike in the shared hallway, which would be okay except that it's jostling for space with the overspill from the newsagents (usually several large piles of newspapers to be returned, and loads of boxes of Maltesers), and I don't know how we're going to fit two bikes in there when addedentry starts cycling again, in the new year. Maybe we'll just have to take it in turns to play Russian Roulette with the bike-stomping bastards. Or set up a web-cam and motion-activated air-rifle on the back balcony.

My new job -- yes, the whole reason we moved here, my fault -- isn't going as well as I'd hoped. It's the first time I've been in a job where my line manager isn't doing roughly the same job as me and there's nobody to show me what to do; I should be just carving a niche for myself but it's hard to do when I don't feel anywhere near as involved in the business of the organisation as I did in university admin; and we're somewhat in limbo as we're preparing to move the website to a new server and into a new all-singing all-dancing CMS, which means I'm working on a website which is broken in various ways but which I'm not supposed to be developing because that would be a waste of time. All in all I'm finding it very hard to pick up the threads of what I'm supposed to be doing (and being off ill for a week really didn't help) and at the moment I'm mostly oscillating between "I don't know how to do this job" and "I don't know if I want to do this job," which occasionally tips over into "I will be quite relieved actually when at the end of my year's probation (if not before) they tell me that it was all a big mistake." Yes, I've tried talking to them. It's not them, it's me.

Fortunately, while I'm slowly slipping into a career coma, addedentry's going from strength to strength; he was snapped up by the National Trust for some interesting freelance cataloguing work, which neatly filled the gap between leaving Cambridge and starting the job which the Bodleian created especially for him. He's also been invited to write cryptic crosswords for Oxford Today, which won't bring in any extra cash, but will hopefully bring the sort of fame and fortune that means people buy him drinks.

It's been strange for me to go so suddenly from the packed schedule of orchestra rehearsals, choir rehearsals, volunteering, and socialising that I had in Cambridge to a life where I mostly don't do anything except go to work, come home, re-read some Chalet School books, and go to sleep. We have managed to meet up with a few friends, which has been great -- and of course we've got each other! -- but I do feel quite lost and directionless. I'm not sure if it makes it better or worse that I already know the city. On the plus side, I don't have to learn my way around a new place on top of all the other stress; but I feel as though the city, with all its dreams and memories, wants something more of me than just miserably slipping into tired middle-age. I feel as though I should be doing something, but I can't remember how, and I can't really see the point. (This is traditionally the moment when everybody says "Write a novel!" ... and then I have to kill them. I wrote a handful of poems when I was a teenager, and ever since then everybody I know has been hassling me to write books. I don't have anything to write. I don't have anything to say. Sorry.)

In other 'not doing things' news, I haven't kept most of my new year's resolutions from last year, I haven't sent any Christmas cards yet, I haven't bought the Christmas presents I wanted to buy for my family and friends, and I'm so behind with email that I just want to give up on the whole communication thing.

Do I miss Cambridge? I don't really miss it as a place, but I miss a lot of things about the life I'd built up there. I thought I'd be able to transplant most of them here, but it's harder than it looks; I know the grass may only be greener back there because it's had longer to grow, but I feel as though it's a big scratchy grey patch of land that I've acquired here and I currently don't have much confidence that the things I've planted will take root.

I guess we'll just have to see what the spring brings. Lilacs, maybe.
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