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Huis Clos - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Huis Clos
I just feel like there's no way out of where I am at the moment.

I don't want to work for ProQuest any more, it's driving me insane. So when all this positive freelance-ish stuff came up about work on websites and proofreading work, I told ProQuest I could only do a maximum of 2 days a week for them. Now I've heard nothing from either WaxInfo or 2i Publishing, and it'll be a week before I hear anything from the Police (and given the interview yesterday I don't hold out much hope for that one, and even if they liked me at interview they'll take one look at my sickness record and tell me to get lost). I suppose I'll have to carry on working at ProQuest for ever, but if I do that I'll just get more and more ill and useless.

I don't see how I'm ever going to get another job, though. Everything I might possibly want to do or be able to do seems to need me to give details of every single day I've been off sick in the past 2 years, and I've had too many days off to be employable. I don't know how I'm going to explain the mess I've made of getting jobs, either: "Well, I sort of went freelance, but then I just gradually stopped doing anything, and now I have no skills, no experience, no motivation, and nothing else to offer the world." I can't see a way out of it. I can't get a job, but the longer I don't get a job, the more unlikely it is that I ever will.

I also owe sion_a tens of thousands of pounds and I don't see how I'm ever going to be able to pay it back, because even if I do get a job I'm not likely to be earning more than £12k and that just isn't enough to pay the mortgage, pay him back and still afford to live. Semi-anonymous Katherine from Oxford was right -- I'm a useless sponger who should just move out, give sion_a his life back, and ... well, do whatever people do when they have no job and nowhere to live. I can more or less play the penny whistle, I guess.

I keep thinking, well, I could retrain; but how? The application form's going to ask (in one way or another) what I've done with my life so far, and the answer is going to be NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING. I've done ONE JOB, so badly that I'm now completely unemployable. And I've done nothing else of note with my spare time.

There's no jobs I really want to do anyway. I don't have a career, I don't want a career. I'd love to be able to have children and be a full-time mother, but I can't do that either. At this rate by the time I get to a stage where I can, relationship-wise -- if that ever happens -- I'll be too old and tired (if I'm even alive at all by then) to even consider it. And then there's the money. It's already likely to take me the rest of my life to pay off the debts I have; I'd have a choice between never having any money (which is not a great state in which to try to bring up children), or just sponging off someone else instead.

I'm less than useless to the world. I want to just lie down and go to sleep and never have to wake up again.

Current Mood: hopeless

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Comments
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: October 29th, 2003 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I was rescued after three years of irrelevant, dull, underpaid work by virtue of an opening that let me turn my hobby into a career. Which is always helpful. I'm sure eventually someone will recognise that you're good at a range of important things, it's just a matter of finding them at the right time and in the right place. So, er, yeah, *hug* in an ineffectual sort of way, and when you're feeling better I'll tell you the ace new 'your mum's so fat' I heard the other day.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad it worked out for you... but I just don't have any hobbies that I could turn into jobs. Certainly not well-paid jobs, anyway, and at the moment I Really Need The Money.

The "your mother" joke might cheer me up though.
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: October 30th, 2003 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your mother's so fat, when she gets on the scales they say 'to be continued'.
huskyteer From: huskyteer Date: October 29th, 2003 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
From my experience the police are extremely generous with sick leave, sick pay and so on once you're in their employ. I don't know how they feel about taking on people with an existing record of lots of sickies, but everyone has bad times when they get ill more often than usual or need lots of compassionate leave and it shouldn't count against you.

I hadn't worked in web design, and had done very little work of any description, for over a year when I was interviewed for my current job. I got through the 'if you're so great why have you been on the dole for a year' question by talking about the abysmal job market. Works every time.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
everyone has bad times when they get ill more often than usual or need lots of compassionate leave and it shouldn't count against you

Well, that's what I'd like to think, too, but I'm less convinced after the HR woman at ACRE told me that "everybody feels down sometimes, but they don't all take sick leave for it", and that therefore it's a "huge risk" taking on somebody who has that amount of sick leave. And that "any other employer would say the same".

I got through the 'if you're so great why have you been on the dole for a year' question by talking about the abysmal job market. Works every time.

Will bear that in mind, thank you -- and will try to pretend I haven't noticed that the job market is getting a lot better at the moment... Hopefully they won't have noticed either. Or will also agree to pretend. :-}
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
The position is Intelligence Officer, so I guess that counts as "civilian". It sounded interesting, but I don't think the interview went well enough for me to be in with much of a chance given how many other interviewees of an apparently high standard there were.

Trying not to think about it now that the interview's done with. (I can cope with the despair, it's the hope I can't stand.)
From: rmc28 Date: October 29th, 2003 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
You are not useless. You write very well, you've been good company whenever I've spent time with you, you're doing the Oxfam stuff ... you have a great deal to offer the world.

The WaxInfo and 2i Publishing people sounded very impulsive and slightly disorganised - it might be worth you chasing them up.

Don't give up.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
you have a great deal to offer the world

Thank you... I just wish the world believed this too and would accept what I have to offer. :-}

The WaxInfo and 2i Publishing people sounded very impulsive and slightly disorganised - it might be worth you chasing them up.

Yeah, they were, and I should... will do that tomorrow. Honest. (As you may have guessed I don't have much of a high moral horse in the "slightly disorganised" stakes...)
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: October 29th, 2003 10:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I have no degree, withdrew from the course because of illness/crapness, have done a succession of temporary jobs, often leaving them abruptly, and I have managed to get a decent job which will start just under £13k, and increment yearly thereafter up to about £15k after six years. It took me three months after moving here - it can be done. I'm guessing I have been quite lucky, but you have better qualifications than I do anyway. Have you considered temping for a little while? It can be evil and wrong and bad, but it can also be quite fun, and if you hate something you get, you can just stop doing it. My temp history has meant I have a variety of office experience to draw on, which makes me more appealing to employers. I also concentrated much of my job hunting on academic environments where I knew I'd be happier.

I know this might not help right now, because you are obviously feeling far less than positive about the whole thing. I just wanted to say something a bit more constructive than '*hugs*' or 'You're great.' But you are, and things will look up eventually.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you considered temping for a little while?

Yes, I have, but ... I dunno, it sort of feels like a last resort -- mostly just because it sounds like so much hassle. Nearly everybody I know who's done any temping (including people with degrees and even postgrad qualifications) seems to have had to go through several levels of hell and several weeks of badgering agencies just to get a couple of weeks of minimum-wage data-entry. Maybe I only hear about the bad stuff, but I dunno, right now I feel like any extra stress will just make me curl up in a little ball and cry. :-(
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: October 29th, 2003 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mnn. My brain splits three ways. The part that wants to suggest they're being disoganised, and anyway you're underestimating your skillset, and encourage you to chase them up; the part that gets grumpily philosophical, to the tune of this being an immensely complicated world in which things to do with one's life can turn up in all manner of unexpected guises, as most lives I'm familiar with do eventually show, and that money measures nothing other than itself and is a really bad metric for almost everything else [ cost is not the same thing as value; Google gives me no hits on "metric of eudemony", in the event that reading practical/philosophical/organisational stuff is a thing you find cheerful you want to look up Stafford Beer's Designing Freedom, which has sort of helped me deal with the universe when I'm in vaguely similar useless moods ] and don't underestimate the value which other people may attach to your presence in their lives, because basically, if I like you, you don't really have the right to downgrade that judgement - and also that anyone who calls you a useless sponger isn't speaking with your best interests at heart and the validity of their opinion as a guide should be downgraded thereby; and the part that just wants to curl up around you and hug you and offer to adopt you.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
The part that wants to suggest they're being disoganised, and anyway you're underestimating your skillset, and encourage you to chase them up

They did seem pretty disorganised, and I will chase them up tomorrow. Honest.

the part that gets grumpily philosophical, to the tune of this being an immensely complicated world in which things to do with one's life can turn up in all manner of unexpected guises, as most lives I'm familiar with do eventually show,

Which is all true, but the very unexpectedness of the way those things turn up means that it's difficult to plan for them at all and/or to see any kind of future involving them. Or is that just me? Saying "something unexpected could happen eventually" seems, at least at the moment, to be akin to saying "well, I might win the lottery..." (though I don't buy tickets for the lottery, and fortunately one doesn't have to buy tickets in order for Life to happen to one).

and that money measures nothing other than itself and is a really bad metric for almost everything else

This is definitely true, but money does help with minor things like accommodation, food, and trying to have some kind of social life. And it's extremely hard to shrug philosophically about the meaninglessness of money when the debts just get bigger every month. (However I may feel about Mammon-worship, I suspect the HSBC value their money, and will resort to pointy sticks if necessary to reclaim it, which is not a thought that I exactly relish.)

[ cost is not the same thing as value;

"A cynic is someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing". Or words to that effect. (Wilde, I think. Probably.)

Google gives me no hits on "metric of eudemony", in the event that reading practical/philosophical/organisational stuff is a thing you find cheerful you want to look up Stafford Beer's Designing Freedom, which has sort of helped me deal with the universe when I'm in vaguely similar useless moods ]

Noted -- will look it up at some point, though at the moment my reading is a bit erratic as a result of very flaky concentration and tiredness etc.

and don't underestimate the value which other people may attach to your presence in their lives, because basically, if I like you, you don't really have the right to downgrade that judgement

Well, er. Yes, I can't argue with what you think of me, because it's your opinion, but I do reserve the right to be baffled sometimes as to what people see in me.

- and also that anyone who calls you a useless sponger isn't speaking with your best interests at heart and the validity of their opinion as a guide should be downgraded thereby

They didn't exactly say that, and I don't think that was what they meant to imply, though it certainly felt like that was what they were implying, at the time. (And it still does feel that way, to be honest, probably because it's poking a big pointy stick into all the guilt that I already feel anyway.)

and the part that just wants to curl up around you and hug you and offer to adopt you

I like that part. *hugs*
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 30th, 2003 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)

tonight, one year ago....

...was my leaving do at Fort St. George, and I was very happy you joined! Yes, it's me - remember me? The "kindred spirit" from Proquest. I've only recently discovered your LJ; I don't have one myself, but occasionally read them because it makes me somehow feel closer to Cambridge, which I miss terribly. I'm very sorry you're still stuck at ProQuest although I have to admit that I sometimes miss it and have even regretted that I left as I've gone through hell here in Germany, jobwise that is. But that's too long a story, I just thought I'd say hello; maybe it cheers you up a little bit that some girl in Germany still remembers you, thinks of you and wishes you luck!! Don't give up! If you feel like it, get in touch. I might be in Cambridge around NYE. Take care, Claudia :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: tonight, one year ago....

Of course I remember you! And thank you, you did cheer me up by saying hello here. I'm just sorry I've been so hopeless at keeping in touch by email... and I'm sorry to hear things have been so bad jobwise for you in Germany; I really hope things are getting better.

Not sure yet what I'm doing for New Year but if I'm in Cambridge too then we should try to meet up -- it'd be lovely to see you again.

(BTW if you want a LiveJournal account I still have plenty of sign-up codes -- just ask if you want one!)
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 30th, 2003 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Katherine from Oxford

Didn't say you were a useless sponger. Not at all. Did imply that renting your room to someone and using the rent to pay for a place for yourself, even short-term, *might* be a good *temporary* option.

Your skill set is much more impressive than you think, and you have had more than one job, if my understanding is correct: are you discounting your librarianship, for example?

I am not suggesting how you should feel, or even how you might want to think, but things you could *do* irrespective of your feelings or even thoughts include hitting some sites which assist you in revising your own views about your skills and aptitudes, which you can then use in a revised CV. IIRC www.belbin.com offer a very cheap basic, but well-known, service which you can pass around to other people and use for a period of six months, at least.

You can play at least one stringed instrument and can do so in an orchestra: jobspeak translates this into teamwork, ability to take direction whilst acting as a responsible individual, and demonstrates commitment and self-discipline. You have a degree from a decent-ish university: not something everybody has, to my certain knowledge. You have had at least two 'real' jobs, as well as your free-lance work. You appear to have taught yourself proofreading, some Perl, and doubtless some other technical skills (although you didn't take a techie degree) which shows you to have multiple aptitudes and a talent for picking up complexities quickly.

Now, in Cambridge, amongst a very geeky peer group (not your good friends, but your potential competitors for some jobs), you may feel you have all the clout of some overcooked pasta, but transposing these and your other skills (which I don't know about, but you do, really) you have a lot of value to the right employer.

What you don't seem to have, maybe, is enough information about the job market, and what is being sought after. I say "maybe" - again, I don't know. You could easily spend a worse day than using your local Business Advice Centre's "start your own business" training day (at least in Poxford this is free training) just to get your head around what you actually CAN do and DO know about. It will be a revelation: you know more than you think you do.

As for kids and all that, I had my first at 43; being an Elderly Primigravida is just fine. Ox and Cambs are full of old mamas. We are just as tired as young mothers, but not more so, and we have more perspective and more to offer than Jane Twentysomething.

Many people get stronger and more well as they mature: you might well do so, too. If you have a deteriorating problem like MS I apologise in advance, but I think even if you *do* have MS your sickness record isn't who you are. Think about Andrew at the RSL: he is more than his illness, although it impinges more and more on his life.

Again, this is not about what you feel or think, that's up to you, just some ideas on actions to take while you're feeling lousy anyway. You might feel less lousy afterwards, you might not, who can say, but at least you'll have done some things a bit differently. You don't seem to be very happy with some of the things you have been doing, and there are a few things very much in your power to change which will have no side-effects you might regret later. Trust yourself and give yourself some time.

best wishes,

Katherine from Oxford
"Disillusionment? Why go to Oxford, I can make it for you at home!" (That Katherine.)
j4 From: j4 Date: October 30th, 2003 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Katherine from Oxford

Didn't say you were a useless sponger. Not at all. Did imply that renting your room to someone and using the rent to pay for a place for yourself, even short-term, *might* be a good *temporary* option.

I'm sorry, but I really don't think that would work. If it was just a room in a shared student house then it might be feasible, but it's not -- it's half of nearly all the rooms in a large house. I also think (from what I know of sion_a's reaction to new people) that he'd be even more miserable if he suddenly had to share the house with a random stranger. The house is really not geared to general student-style house-sharing; it's geared to a couple living together. Untangling that would really only be possible with either major rearrangement (not really practical for short-term) or, well, selling the house and splitting everything down the middle.

Your skill set is much more impressive than you think, and you have had more than one job, if my understanding is correct: are you discounting your librarianship, for example?

I've only had one job since graduating. The job at Templeton during my "year out" is the only other thing that's anything like a real job, but I'm wary of saying too much about that because doing so would emphasise the fact that I had to redo a year of my degree...

www.belbin.com

I'm not sure I understand what these people do. From the website it appears that they're charging £25 for some kind of personality test...

You can play at least one stringed instrument and can do so in an orchestra: jobspeak translates this into teamwork, ability to take direction whilst acting as a responsible individual, and demonstrates commitment and self-discipline.

Really? I never normally mention hobbies unless there's a place for them on an application form...

Now, in Cambridge, amongst a very geeky peer group (not your good friends, but your potential competitors for some jobs), you may feel you have all the clout of some overcooked pasta,

It's the same with my social group a lot of the time, to be honest -- I feel like I'm worthless except as a kind of novelty. ("See the funny shiny arts graduate! See it dance!")

You could easily spend a worse day than using your local Business Advice Centre's "start your own business" training day

Um... but I don't want to start my own business. And the thought of a day of being surrounded by embryonic CEOs who are brimming over with amazing ideas for exciting new business ventures makes me feel physically sick. (Though I suppose I could spend a worse day, if I gave myself food-poisoning and asked all the people I know to phone me up and tell me how wonderful they are and how worthless I am...)

[stuff about kids]

I know logically that I've got loads of time, but ... I dunno. I still feel like in the meantime I'm just killing time. If I know now what I want to do, it seems an utterly miserable prospect to have to spend 20 years doing things I don't really want to do first. It might make more sense if the things I didn't want to do were actually contributing towards the long-term plan, but they really are just filling in the empty spaces.

Many people get stronger and more well as they mature: you might well do so, too.

I guess it's possible. I don't have MS, no; there's nothing actually wrong with me, it's not a real illness or anything like that, I'm just stupid, lazy, incompetent and generally incapable of being a real grown-up.

You don't seem to be very happy with some of the things you have been doing, and there are a few things very much in your power to change which will have no side-effects you might regret later.

Um. I'm afraid I still can't see anything that's in my power to change that won't have bad side-effects... I'm sorry if I'm just too stupid to see it. :-(
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 31st, 2003 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Katherine from Oxford again (pt 1)

No, not too stupid. Being miserable and dispirited does make you feel dumb ("if I'm so smart why ain't I happy?") but you are too intelligent to decide that the only possible change has to be for the worst (e.g., throwing yourself out into the street to play the penny-whistle). OK, if the house-change won't work, fair enough, it's not Required For the Exam. :-) Stay where you are: Sion and you want it that way, that's fine. At least you can both be sad and warm simultaneously.

One thing you can change: hitting yourself over the head every time you feel like it. Limit yourself to beating yourself up three times a day, preferably between meals, for a specific amount of time, then get up and take the cat for a walk, change your immediate surroundings. Next time you want to give yourself a smack then say No, I can't do that until 4 p.m., and postpone it. :-)

Your friends clearly love you sans the motley. Friends are for trusting when you don't trust yourself. They carry you, you carry them, you rub along, and suddenly it's 20 years later. Geeks are often such restful people: so rest. Motley is wearing to be around all the time anyway. :-)

Most job apps have an "any other information" box (although you can also revise your CV drastically with free help from the Careers Service, or me, or lots of other sources). That's where you mention your orchestral experience, with keywords to emphasise what it says about you. The more they know the more employable you are.

Lots of people take a year out during their undergraduate career. Poxbridge just tends to give you a bigger and better stick with which you may beat yourself for "failing".

You took a year out to get some perspective on the hothouse, worked gainfully and acquired skills you certainly wouldn't have got had you remained, then went back and took your degree as planned. Very sensible and mature actions: you didn't quit, you took a sensible route for *you* to get your degree and move on. The graceful flight into money and power, courtesy of Mother Oxford (to whom you should be eternally grateful) is a myth these days.

Belbin Tests are used internally by the Civil Service Fast Stream training programme amongst others to tease out what jobs they have which will match the aptitudes of the candidates they have; and those aptitudes are not necessarily what the candidates themselves would claim. You have probably done a Myers-Briggs already, also used widely in the job market but Belbin is not based on experimental psychological theories, but rather on workplace analyses. Referring to them on a CV is a useful flag for employers; it shows that you have some sophistication in your understanding of yourself in the job market. For 25 quid you can buy a few rounds of beer, or get yourself some potentially useful information: benefits either way, of course, but which ones do you fancy most? Maybe beer for now, Belbin later. At least you know they're there and what they are for and who uses them.

The training day I went to wasn't at all embryonic CEOs, it was eight people with some small business ideas (a gardener, a pet-groomer, a specialty food supplier, and so on) who wanted to know what processes drove businesses into success v bankruptcy. I went along with a friend who wanted to start a business herself and wanted my input, as someone who was at arm's length from her concerns. It was reassuringly concrete, pleasantly low-key, and a mix of folks I wouldn't usually have a chance to associate with, talking about things I don't usually think about (like what use IS an accountant, how DO you actually budget like a grown-up, how do you actually plan ahead, how the banking system and the tax system actually works --- all mysterious stuff to those of us from an academic background).


Call up those guys who muttered about free-lancing and find a use for you. Can't hurt: either they will say 'yes' or 'no' and if they say 'no' then you don't want to work for such scat-masters anyway, and if they say 'yes' then they say 'yes' - and it's over to you on that one.

best wishes, as ever

Katherine
in the City of Expiring Dreams (apologies to Matthew Arnold)



j4 From: j4 Date: November 3rd, 2003 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Katherine from Oxford again (pt 1)

No, not too stupid. Being miserable and dispirited does make you feel dumb ("if I'm so smart why ain't I happy?")

It's more "then why can't I get a job?". I know I'd feel a lot happier immediately if I was doing something that wasn't so soul-destroying.

but you are too intelligent to decide that the only possible change has to be for the worst

It's not that the only possible change has to be for the worst, but any change that I'm actually capable of making at the moment seems to be for the worse, or at the very least for the no-better.

Limit yourself to beating yourself up three times a day, preferably between meals, for a specific amount of time, then get up and take the cat for a walk [...]

<smile> This is good advice. I will try, really I will. (Wish I had a cat...)

[friends]
They carry you, you carry them, you rub along, and suddenly it's 20 years later.

But that's what I'm scared of -- that I'll just potter along having the same conversations with the same people in the same pub and suddenly I'll wake up and realise I've wasted 20 years of my life! I mean, I do want to talk to my friends -- obviously, or they wouldn't be my friends -- but I hope there's more to life than just sitting around talking about nothing in particular. I think I'd be a better friend if I felt I wasn't just killing time.

Geeks are often such restful people: so rest.

Um, I think we have a different perception of "geeks". Or of "restful".

[revising CVs]
I was looking at a "make your CV shiny" website last night, and the example CV it gave was freaky. Every single thing they'd ever done -- the essays they wrote during their degree, the modules they took, etc.; and music grades (for heaven's sake, does any potential employer really give a shit about piano grades that I did when I was 13?). I've always been told only to include what's actually relevant, and while I could make a case for my Grade 3 Flute being a great achievement, I can't honestly imagine an employer being interested...

The other thing about CVs is, I'm getting (some) interviews -- and the CV is only really useful for getting interviews, isn't it? Nobody cares about my CV once I'm in the interview room stumbling over difficult questions like "What's your name?".

You took a year out to get some perspective on the hothouse,

Will people see that as a valid excuse? I certainly don't want to have to mention that it was because of d*pr*ss**n if I can avoid it, because that's an instant "DON'T EMPLOY THIS PERSON!" warning bell...

[Belbin etc.]
You have probably done a Myers-Briggs already,

Nope.

For 25 quid you can buy a few rounds of beer, or get yourself some potentially useful information:

I'm worried that for £25 what I'll get is a different indication of how useless I am! I'm also not convinced the sort of people I'm applying to will ever have heard of these Belbin tests -- you're the first person I've ever heard mention them. And while I've heard of Myers-Briggs tests, I've never seen anybody include the results on their CV...

[training day]
[...] how DO you actually budget like a grown-up, [...] --- all mysterious stuff to those of us from an academic background).

Most of the people I know from academentia already budget like grown-ups. They know exactly how much they earn, how much they can afford to spend in a month, how much their shares are worth, how best to invest any windfalls, etc., and (most annoying of all) they don't appear to have had to learn all this -- they claim it's "obvious".

Call up those guys who muttered about free-lancing and find a use for you.

I did -- one said "Hmmm, oh, yes, well, we're waiting for a guy called Steve to do some more technical stuff, and, er, until then there's not much point in you doing anything on the website..."; the other said "No, er, no, nothing at the moment... oh, dear, if I'd thought I could have given you some work at the time when I spoke to you, but ... hmmm, too late now, sorry". (Gah.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 31st, 2003 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)

K from Oxford (pt 2) kids etc

Well, if you really think that you are just killing time before having kids, and what you really want is to have a family, then you need to work your way around to finding that Primary Other who will join you in raising a child to adulthood, possessing self-esteem and a sense of their own competence. It doesn't necessarily have to be the child's father (although there's a lot to be said in favour) but you need someone who you and the child/ren can rely upon unconditionally to love them and to act upon that love.

Killing time is looking at and discussing three snails crossing a tarmac path for 25 minutes. Killing time is feeding, changing, and dressing the baby to go out, only to have it needing a diaper change immediately before you have to go. Killing time is when the baby is sick, 24/7, for a week, and your life is 15 nappies a day and making sure everything you and s/he touches is sterilised before and after because the virus is so contagious. Killing time is being vommed on, wee'd on, and poo'd on in the same day, and you and the baby need a full change of clothes every four or five hours. Killing time is what happens when you are feeding every three hours for six weeks.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problems with my kiddo - I am exceptionally lucky to have such a basically good child - but it is extremely hard work to stay "minded", attentive to details, and to live at the pace of a two year old and an adult as well. It is no substitute for some kind of work and for getting out of the house. It is not a job for which society gives great rewards, nor does it do a lot for one's social self-esteem: the contrary, in fact. I am a mom, therefore my doctorate means sweet FA to many people; my lovely child is a handicap in the job market and yes, although he is *lovely* I do get bored rigid, and I have to deal with that constructively so neither he nor I suffer too much from that.

Having a child means you end up confronting and trying to throw out a lot of your own baggage so you don't pass it on to them. It doesn't go away by itself. It's easier to chuck as much as possible before you have a child because once you do you don't get time off, even for good behaviour.

;->

best wishes, as ever

K in Oxford
j4 From: j4 Date: November 3rd, 2003 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: K from Oxford (pt 2) kids etc

then you need to work your way around to finding that Primary Other who will join you in raising a child to adulthood, possessing self-esteem and a sense of their own competence.

<sigh>

Well, I'm pretty sure I've found him. He's just not in a position to raise kids with me at the moment. That may change... or it may not. I have no power to effect that change -- it's completely outside my control. Hell, a lot of the factors involved are outside his control. Which is one of the reasons I feel so hopeless at the moment.

Killing time is ...

But all that's not killing time! That's all contributing to raising a child, raising a person. Really -- none of that seems pointless to me.

I don't mind doing things which are pretty much pointless in and of themselves, so long as they're contributing to something that I believe to be worthwhile. I'd still get bored of from time to time, but I wouldn't feel like it was just a complete waste of everybody's time. I don't mind stacking shelves and lifting boxes at Oxfam. I don't mind making tea. I'm not looking for a job where everybody will admire me, or even a job which will stretch my intelligence (though that might be fun if I could find such a thing); I just want to do something that actually makes a difference.

And I still want, more than anything, to have kids. I think that's the most worthwhile thing I could do with the skills I have. But since I can't do that now, I want to do something that isn't totally worthless in the meantime.

It is no substitute for some kind of work and for getting out of the house.

But I don't care about doing "some kind of work". I don't care about getting out of the house. What's to go outside for if the most important things in my life are inside?

It is not a job for which society gives great rewards, nor does it do a lot for one's social self-esteem: the contrary, in fact.

I don't want great rewards. I don't aspire to Getting Paid Lots (though currently I could do with Getting Paid More, for practical purposes), I don't really want promotions, I don't even want "employee of the month". I've got boxes full of certificates and prizes, from Grade 1 ballet ("commended") to a BA in English (1st class), all of which have gained me nothing so far.

And I can't think of a better "reward" than seeing a child I've raised grow up to be a happy adult.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm naïve, but I honestly believe that I'd have a lot more "social self-esteem" as a mother -- it's a far, far more worthwhile role in my opinion than being (for example) Yet Another Java Programmer, or A Web Designer Writing Shiny Webpages Which Sell Things. Currently, I have no social self-esteem; I know how pointless all those jobs seem to me, but I also know I'm doing something even more pointless.

Having a child means you end up confronting and trying to throw out a lot of your own baggage so you don't pass it on to them. It doesn't go away by itself.

True, and it's one of the reasons that I'm still trying to sort everything out. But if half the baggage is due to not doing what I want to do, I'm not sure how I can get rid of it before doing what I want to do. IYSWIM.

Also, I don't believe anybody manages to become perfect, not-even-a-wee-bit-fucked-up human beings before (or after!) having kids. All the best parents I've ever known still have their own hangups, some of which they've passed on to their kids (they may not mean to, but they do...), some of which they haven't. And people develop plenty of new hangups connected with their kids. But by and large, they get by. And I suspect the people who know they have baggage to deal with are already in a better position than those who just blunder on regardless.

But I've never had kids, so what do I know, eh. :-/
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