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And you run and run - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
And you run and run
Is it still only the first full week of 2004? It feels like a thousand years have passed since the new year (just like the old year) began.

I started a new job on Wednesday. For the next month (it's only a temp job) I will be a filing clerk at the University's Development Office.

My job is to "weed" the files which the Development Office keeps on all its fundraising prospects -- individuals, companies, university departments, etc. This
consists of going through folders full of paper documents and looking for any which say "bin 2003" (or earlier). I take them out of the folder, and check that there's no note in the Raiser's Edge database which refers to them. If there is, I stick a post-it note on the document and give it to my supervisor so she can delete the note (I can't delete the notes myself as I only have read access to the database). Otherwise, I put the document in the bin. If a document has neither a "best before" date written on it nor a red spot (which means it is to be kept forever), I stick a post-it note on it and pass the folder to my supervisor so she can assign it an expiry date or mark it for keeping. When I've finished checking through a folder, I mark it as "reviewed" with the date and my initials.

So far I and my fellow clerk have gone through 8 filing cabinets and about 10 lever-arch files full of folders. We get quite excited when we find a document with a "bin date" on it, because it relieves the tedium of looking through files which consist entirely of "red spots". The rest of the time, we either check through files in weary silence, or try to carry on some kind of conversation. My fellow clerk is not the most sparkling of conversation partners. Nor, for that matter, am I. After an hour or so my fingers feel papery and dusty, and my brain switches off.

It's surprising how fast the time actually goes. We walk down to the room where the filing cabinets are, pick up an armful of folders, and carry them back to the little office where we work. We each make our own piles of folders containing queries (which go to our supervisor), documents to be checked and then either passed on or binned, and folders which have been checked and can be replaced. We're both going through the same motions, but of course we get out of phase, as we work at different speeds. It's like watching two lights blinking at very slightly different rates. On, off. Down the stairs with an armful of files to replace; up the stairs with an armful of files to check. I mark off the distances the way I always do -- whether I'm sorting through files, or walking down a long street looking for a particular house-number, or reading a long and boring book -- mentally subdividing the remainder of the distance to be travelled even while I'm moving forwards, tricking my mind into concentrating on this task so that by the time I've finished the calculation of how long the remainder will take, the goal has got a little closer, which necessitates a recalculation... and so a little more time has passed. ("It would have passed anyway." --"Ah, but not so rapidly.")

Occcasionally I take breaks from my own private Xeno's Paradox Re-enactment Society, and do something routine-breaking like making a coffee, or ... making a coffee. There's precious little else to do, really. Oh, except make tea instead. The kettle never takes quite long enough to boil. The coffee never tastes of anything. I marvel at the fact that you can buy teabags in bags of 1100 -- what a peculiar number to choose. (No, geeks and geekettes, it isn't binary. I have seen the oceans of teabags within.) I stare out of the window at the sky.

I am marking off the days on the wall. I am worth £6.06 per hour.




The rest of the time, I've tried to keep busy.

I had my first karate lesson of the year on Tuesday, and acquitted myself well considering that I'd done no practice whatsoever during the break. I learnt two new kicks, both of which involve doing slightly implausible things with my legs; despite this, I didn't ache at all the next day.

The first Portfolio Singers rehearsal of term was the usual laid-back affair; we sang a few songs, talked a lot, drank a lot of tea, ate chocolate finger biscuits, and drank some port (in my case only a little as I was driving). The singing is the point of the occasion, honest. Although I have to admit that being introduced to the concept of sucking port through a chocolate finger (having first bitten off both ends to expose the biscuit) came a close second. (It tastes like trifle. Try it!)

The Cambridge Concert Orchestra term started on Wednesday. I appear to be co-leader of the second violin section, owing more to the reluctance of the rest of the section to take a front seat than to any real talent on my part. We sight-read through most of the new pieces, and did some more concentrated work on one or two of them. By far the silliest of the new pieces is the Beatlecracker Suite, by Wilkinson, Tchaikovsky, Lennon & McCartney. Yes, that's Beatles songs arranged in the style of the Nutcracker. Completely and utterly hatstand.

Thursday night was the usual Carlton social. I felt somewhat out of it for most of the evening, and ended up drinking a lot more than I should have done. The less said about the resulting emotional state, the better; though sion_a was lovely and looked after me well.

It was lovely to see lnr for lunch on Friday, I do wish I saw more of her -- although I felt guilty for crying on her at such length. Being able to talk about stuff did help though. ... I do seem to have done an awful lot of crying recently.

Yesterday night I worked my usual shift at the Carlton. It was busier than usual; I started eating my dinner (a tuna baguette -- I decided this was less likely to suffer from going cold than my usual portion of chips) at about 7:30pm and finished it at about 10pm, grabbing bites between working. Got home just after 11:30 and then stayed online talking to hoiho until about 3am. Talking helped a lot.

Today I worked the afternoon shift at Oxfam; I'm responsible for pricing computing books now as I'm the only one who'll admit to knowing anything geek-related. Unfortunately this means that I am by extension responsible for maths books, as "it's all the same thing"; and today it was decreed that I probably knew more about Business Studies than any of the rest of them, so I could price those books as well.

I was dragged to the pub by some of the other volunteers after the shop closed; I'd never been to the Eagle before, and now I see why. I made my excuses and left when Kate Jeary and Ecological Steve (I don't know his surname) started the Great Atheism Debate, although the amount of smoke in the air and the distinct lack of decent beer would have driven me out before long anyway. When I got outside I thought for one horrible moment that my bike had been stolen, but fortunately my initial reaction was to look panicked and stand there flapping; this meant that the bouncers noticed, asked what was wrong, and when I explained they did at least tell me that they'd moved it across the street (it was only locked to itself) because "it was blocking a fire exit". It was leaning against a stone wall, but apparently the entire street is "a fire exit" for the pub.




I have an interview on Monday for a job at UCLES (I don't know exactly what job, but it sounds interesting), and an interview on Thursday for a job at the University's Management Information Services Division (the position is Web Publishing Assistant, and it sounds from the description as though it's pretty what I was doing at ProQuest -- but for the University, better-paid, and with more training and development opportunities).

I keep thinking that my luck has to change some time. Maybe this will be the time. Just maybe.

Current Mood: displacing
Now playing: The Flaming Lips: "The Observer"

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Comments
rbarclay From: rbarclay Date: January 10th, 2004 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can recommend a little Queen. Just because they've been playing for the last 2 hours, and have kept me from despairing.
They seem like the right thing just right now.
np: Mustapha
From: kaet Date: January 10th, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
IRTA wee on the files in the development office. God, my subconcious is about three, I think.

I'll try to post something more interesting in compensation for this pointless comment, :)
simonb From: simonb Date: January 10th, 2004 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I learnt two new kicks, both of which involve doing slightly implausible things with my legs

OOI which kicks ?

Good luck with the interviews *hugs*
j4 From: j4 Date: January 10th, 2004 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can't remember Japanese names but one is the "crane kick" and the other (hokku geri? Something like that anyway) is a bit like the crane kick but hooking the leg back at the end... God, these things are hard to describe. I'll show you when I can do them properly. :)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 11th, 2004 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)

I mark off the distances the way I always do -- whether I'm sorting through files, or walking down a long street looking for a particular house-number, or reading a long and boring book -- mentally subdividing the remainder of the distance to be travelled even while I'm moving forwards, tricking my mind into concentrating on this task so that by the time I've finished the calculation of how long the remainder will take, the goal has got a little closer, which necessitates a recalculation

"Twice as much again", "Half as much again", "Three-quarters as much again", things like that? I do that too! Fractions are wonderful.

Warmest thoughts for your interviews this week!
j4 From: j4 Date: January 13th, 2004 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Twice as much again", "Half as much again", "Three-quarters as much again", things like that?

Kind of... more like "I'm halfway through the second drawer of the third cabinet now, and that means I've done two drawers in the last hour, so if I'm doing two drawers an hour then I should have finished this drawer in 15 minutes, by which time I'll only have an hour till lunchtime, and in that hour I should get another two drawers done, which means I'll get to the end of the third cabinet, and then we'll be halfway through the cabinets in this room, which means we'll have done n cabinets in n days ..." [continue for all possible things which could be averaged, halved, divided, measured, until bored]

With house-numbers it's more like looking at a number as I pass it, and then working out what number will be halfway there from where I am now, but because my mental arithmetic is quite bad (and I run into fencepost errors and have to recalculate) by the time I've worked it out I'm a good few numbers along, so I can start calculating it all again ... rinse, repeat.

Warmest thoughts for your interviews this week!

Thank you (belatedly) -- very much appreciated. And thank you also for remembering about the interview and commenting on a much earlier post (which I didn't reply to at the time because you asked how the preparation was going and I realised that I really needed to do some more, and I thought I'd better do it rather than replying... sorry!) -- I really should have said something at the time because I was really touched that you remembered.

Anyway, as you'll see from my latest post, the interview went well, but the actual getting-a-job part of it less so -- though through no fault of mine. Ho hum. At least it's encouraging to know that somebody wants me, even if they don't have the resources to have me. And that's true in more contexts than one, too. :-/
mair_aw From: mair_aw Date: January 11th, 2004 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh, gosh. you remind me of a job I did once... I spent a month trimming parsnips. Apart from the tedium, and the 6.15am pickup, and the long journey home as everyone else got dropped off first and we crawled through traffic, one of the nastiest things was that you kept trimming until all the 'snips were done, so there was no fixed finishing time...
But oh... occupying one's mind over hours and hours of trimming parsnips. I used to sing to myself, and -- I ring church bells -- make my way very slowly through bits of bellringing methods ('tunes') (12 minutes, for a good one). I used to let my mind drift, listen to other people's conversations, concentrate (briefly) on the parsnips themselves. Nip to the loo. But the time still went so slowly... I would try not to look at the clock for five minutes (ten minutes, fifteen minutes), and then I could mark off each hour in 12 chunks. (we got breaks every two hours or so). One month, and then I quit.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: January 12th, 2004 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)

whee!

Two interviews in a week is great news.

You are fantastically fortunate (as well as having been very hard-working as a kid when you were at the beginning of the learning curve) to have the ability and skill to sight-read and play an instrument at the same time. Wow. What splendid access to other people's expressions and points of view. Beatlecracker sounds infinitely preferable to the Sadler's Wells version of the ballet I saw, which was tawdry and dishonest in the extreme: you get to play honestly deeply silly stuff. So when is the performance?
From: rmc28 Date: January 12th, 2004 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on the MISD interview - the web team here are a really nice bunch :) Is it plausible to go for lunch/a drink after it? We could round up Tony and Andrew W and LNR ...
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