MMXVI

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Hello,

And happy 2016!

Ah, my twenty seventh year on this hurtling piece of rock. I’m always in a far happier mood this side of the new year than before, the new year always brings in change and a breath of a fresh air in my lungs. I feel like I hit the refresh button and the crappy elements of the past year just melt away, I am once again a blank canvas for 2016 to make it’s mark on.

I don’t tend to keep any resolutions these days, guess you can say I’m pretty content at the moment. However I do always promise myself that the new year will always be better than the previous one in at least one way, whether it be in health, financial, professional, social, mental, creative or anything else that can be improved. As I’ve probably touched on before now, I’m not great with setting out specific objectives and then trying my best to achieve them. With me, the more broad, the better!

So, what can I probably do better if I can be asked to? Health is an easy one, eat better, exercise better. It’s helpful that my wife is pregnant and has gone onto a super-healthy diet, loads of greens, loads of good carbs which I’ve joined in. I’ve also enforced a caffeine* curfew, none shall be consumed after I finish work. Financial and Professional go hand in hand however opportunities are a little quiet right now so let’s not get in a rut over that. My social life is quite satisfactory, I always try to make time for my wife and then if I have any leftover, friends and internet quench any need I have to have some form of social contact with a fellow squishy mass. Creativity is something I’ve touched on a crap load and won’t bore you with again (want to be creative, doesn’t have the time/ability/commitment).

I suppose maybe the best idea I can have is to stop ranking everything in my head. So what if I have stuff that could be improved, so does just about everyone (apart from Oscar Isaac, damn it). What if I just stopped worrying about getting better and just be better. Hey I might just be onto something. Just be better. Quite a strong statement to live by. I’ll do it, no, I’ve done it, I’ve decided in 2016 I’ll just be better.

Until June comes and baby induced sleep deprivation gets the better of me.

Till next time.

Lee

*The ol’ “I before E” rule was obviously written in a caffeine crash.

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Hello,

So my previous post touched on how I’m becoming a father for the first time next year. Now feels like a nice time to speak a little more about it, how I’m feeling, what I’m expecting it to be like, just my generally mental state as I verge onto one of the most important years of my life.

Wanting to become a father has really only started festering within my concious for the past couple of years. When me and my wife were only boyfriend and girlfriend, we would touch on the subject now and again but I’d always brush it off in my head as something that perhaps wouldn’t happen until I was closer to thirty ([I’m 26).

We got married in 2014 and that was probably the first time I not only thought of kids, but pictured kids. My minds eye conjured up a feel good scene of kids running around the country house, me looking over at my wife who smiles the biggest smile. That’s when I knew it was time to be open to the idea. Coincidently at the same time we began talking about serious issues, schooling, housing, logistics, finances (we had talked about this all before but not from the perspective of a family in tow) but we also dared to imagine specifics, how we would play a range of music to the child and promote creativity, how we would show them the difference between a film by Michael bay and one by Woody Allen.

Over time, these occurrences became more and more frequent, longer in length and deeper in detail (“We wont be cutting it’s hair until it’s at least 5!!”) and we came to a pretty natural decision at the start of this year that we would start trying for a baby.

Fast forward nine months and some achy hips later and I’m holding the positive test, wife sat on the sofa barely containing her excitement. It’s happening, it’s actually happening, all our dreams and hopes and plans are now due to come into fruition. I can safely say I’m excited – May can’t come soon enough – I can also say I’m cautious to not set unrealistic expectations. This is going to be hard work, this is going to put our relationship to the test like never before, this is going to cause huge changes in the way I go about life that will unlikely ever change.

But it’s okay, because I get the most precious gift anyone lucky enough to receive it can have. We have created a human. That’s powerful. The potential a single human being has is infinite within the realms of physics. And I have had my part in creating one.

I have tried reading books and articles on the subject of kids but I cant really appreciate them currently because I’m just not in the exact situation they discuss. I’m also thinking it’d be unhealthy to surround myself with horror stories (I get enough of that from work already – ‘Get ready to never sleep!’ or ‘Say buh-bye to any money you ever had!’) and objectives that must be met to ensure the child lives a happy and fulfilling life. Ultimately, I believe we are ingrained in our natural mentality to raise a child correctly, it’s just doing it and committing to the cause for the rest of your days.

I’ve come a long way since the moment I explained back at the top of this post, and I’ll continue to progress in that direction. I can only hope my child does the same one day too and that we both enjoy the journey.

‘Till next time.

Lee

Night Questions

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Hey,

It’s 4:36am and in at work, consequence of a 24/7 hospital job but hey ho, easy money on night shifts.

Night shifts are always a prime opportunity for a little self reflection, we can go literally hours without any work (small town hospital with a country-leading one thirty minutes down the road lends itself to quiet nights) and so my mind can quite easily wonder off. This post features a select few I’ve asked myself tonight:

Has 2015 been a good year?

– Yes, yes it has. Professionally I am earning more money, have become a leading member of the team and firmly believe my workplace confidence is at an all-time high. Personally it’s been a productive year, had two holidays, made time to spend with my wife, family and friends. I also received possibly the greatest news I could ever receive, I’m to become a father for the first time next year, if that’s not successful then I dunno what is.

How am I going to approach 2016?

– A difficult question. Mainly because I have the great big unknown of parenting entering my life (and never to leave) next year. I have read books, looked at article on being a father and yet I still think I’ll never be truly prepped. So I guess the best approach I can take is one of a sponge, just take anything and everything in, learn, adapt and process.

What’s the biggest thing I’d change in my life right now?

– On a materialistic level, I desperately need to get a car on the road again. On a deeper level I suppose I would like to find me, I mean discover how I would like myself to be in a perfect world. Sometimes I feel like I am comfortable in my own skin, other times I feel the need to put up a character to allow myself to pass through every day life. Weird and unecessary but it happens, will probably touch on that some more in another entry.
Anyway that will do for tonight, for suddenly I have some work to do. Go figure.

Till next time,

Lee

Reborn

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Hello,

I’m still here I swear.

First off, I must apologise for the radio silence. It was unintentional but I just forgot about my little slice of internet, I’m not beating myself up over it – I’m human, it happens, lets move on and analyse.

Why did I forget about the blog? I think it was because the blog was really a lot of nothing. It was me talking much about sweet sod all, which is nice sometimes, if it is in person, on a bench waiting for a bus to come along five minutes ago.

Problem is, I’m a fairly average human (except in height). I have no super big talent that I can write about, I have no serious illness or situation to shine light on. I work, I love my wife, family and cats, I sleep in a bed, I walk a lot, I wear glasses when I remember to.

All of that equates to a pretty average blog which is unfortunate. However, I’m not giving in as I do want to write a blog, I just need to find out the purpose of the blog. It’s like when you finish school and start to figure out what you are going to be in your adult life, some people are pushed into a choice through talent, some people are certain they know what to do because they enjoy it or it peaks their interest.

Then there’s those who will try just as hard than everyone else but end up jumping from one job to the next in pursuit of finding that one elusive thing that will maintain some standard of content. That is what me, and therefore this blog, is currently doing. I, and the blog, will complete this journey and blossom into a career that will reap numerous rewards (not just materialistic ones either).

In the meantime all I ask of you, the reader, is to bare with me. Follow me on the journey, it’ll be tumultuous, exhausting, sometimes boring but sometimes fun and mostly interesting. I’m 26, the blog is 6 months – we are both still learning, still growing.

Till next time,

Lee

Wood, Murakami and Rose Windows

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Hello Blog,

It’s time for a little sit down, just you and me again, lemme just pour myself something a little strong.

How’s it been going? Glad you asked, blog! Nothing too much has happened, my life has kind of been on hold whilst my work rota works itself out. I’ve had a lot of very weird-timed shifts (Yeah, I’m talking about you, 12:00-20-00) and a little bit of a lack of enthusiasm to keep in touch with many things. Sorry for that.

So what have I managed to do?

Well, the woodworking is progressing on, nearly completed my first project, a herb box, still stuck to my no power tools rule – though I may need a new hand saw, pallet wood is quite solid and appears to have already blunted the teeth. Nevermind, the project still lives!

(Yes, its wonky, but I can work on that.)

I’ve also been reading my most recent Murakami, gifted to me by my ever wonderful wife for my birthday a few weeks back. This time it’s a collection of short stories of his, The Elephant Vanishes. This means I have finished my last one, Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World which was a very nice read indeed. I have only really recently picked up on reading novels, before I’d stick to graphic novels or short stories, however since reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, I’ve very quickly became a fan of his style of storytelling. It’s relaxed and very easy to return to, something I find quite helpful considering my attention span is still pretty mediocre!

Oooo blog, I’ve also found a really nice album, in fact I’m listening to it right now on Spotify – I’ll almost certainly end up buying it. It’s by a band called Rose Windows, who have (rather abruptly) split up just before releasing their second album. None the less, this self-titled record is rather lovely and I do recommend it, with a glass of strong stuff and a blog entry to write.

Strip Mall Babylon – Rose Windows

I don’t think there is much else to report on right now blog. I’m sure my life will start to resume a more interesting course once the summer is out and the nights draw in, everything tends to become a little more dynamic when there is a winter chill on its way. For now it’s lazy summers stretching long into the evening – not that I am complaining!

‘Till next time blog.

-Lee

PS – A quote from Murakami that I delivered to my wife almost immediately after reading it: “Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.”

Finding Identity

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Hello,

Today I’m going to talk about things I’ve been reading, watching and taking part in – a mini update of general life things I suppose. I’ve avoided spoilers.

Television – Game of Thrones finished a couple of weeks back and I’m not missing it nearly as much as I did when I binged seasons 1-4 back over Christmas (had never watched an episode before then). Whilst yes it was good, it was also very stupid, it’s lost some of the political intrigue (apart from Littlefinger, who is by far the most interesting character arc currently) and has replaced it with, well, mundane action sequences.

Thankfully, GoT’s replacement on Sky Atlantic has more than filled any void that was left – True Detective Season 2! I was a big fan of the first season, especially the cinematography and the subtle build up throughout the first half of the season. The end of episode four will long remain a favourite moment in television for me. So it’s safe to say I’ve been keeping tabs on Season 2 for a while, the cast announcements intrigued me. I had no fears over Colin Farrell who I believe to be fairly under rated (Just watch In Bruges), nor was I particularly concerned by Rachel McAdams who is usually steady if a little unspectacular.

However I was having alarm bells over Vince Vaughn. Sure, Matthew McConaughey had a career resurgence shortly before True Detective and I’m sure Vince Vaughn was casted with the same idea, however the trouble is Vaughn just isn’t as good as McConaughey, even in the rubbish films. He can’t do subtle and measured approaches to a scene, which True Detective relies upon. This also feels like Taylor Kitsch’s final throw of the dice. After seeing him in Friday Night Lights, he really should have moved to Hollywood fairly easily, however the less said about his post FNL career, the better really. Here’s hoping this work turns it around for him.

So, season 2 – I’ve seen the first two episodes and I’m satisfied. Again it’s very subtle, perhaps a little too close to mundane, but I’m interested in the characters and how they go ahead with the story. The acting is solid, especially McAdams, and the style has again come to the forefront. My concerns over Vaughn still haven’t been relieved however, although I haven’t given up hope yet. A lot of gripe has been directed at the opening sequence, which I don’t get. It’s different from the first season because the season as a whole is completely different to the first one. Remember, True Detective is an anthology. Each season needs it’s own identity and the first and foremost to deliver any program’s identity is it’s opening sequence.

Ultimately, it’s unfair to compare anything of season 2 to season 1. Based on it’s own merits, the first two episodes are as good as anything on TV currently.

Books – I’ve nearly finished reading Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. It’s been an enjoyable read and has maintained my opinion of Murakami being a favoured author of mine. It’s my birthday on Monday, fingers crossed I get one more of his to get into!

Music – Aside from Father John Misty who has been played most days on my commute to work, I’ve been enjoying Everything Everything’s latest album Get to Heaven, via the ever wonderful Spotify.

I’ve also been watching the Glastonbury Festival coverage, really liked Courtney Barnett, Vintage Trouble and Florence and the Machine, really disliked Everything Everything, Kanye West and the lack of Foo Fighters, (was meant to see them at Wembley..).

Slightly off topic – every time I stream music, I’m reminded of Taylor Swift’s resentment of it, which is fair game. No artist should ever be expected to give their work for free, however, surely a line is crossed when you charge in excess of 50 pounds for a single ticket to one of your concerts? This argument of an artist’s right to being paid works both ways, especially with something where there isn’t a universal appreciation of pieces of work – if I had a photograph job and produced poor products, should  still be expected a full payment? It becomes an extremely high horse when you say you shouldn’t give your work away to streaming platforms when A) You still earn money from them and B) have earned millions from album and concert sales anyway. It ultimately comes down to this, do artists make music for the output of their creativity, or to make money.

Hobbies – Woodworking has started! Look at the this post for more on that. I have also given a shot list to a friend of mine for a short film we are hoping to make in the not-so-distant future. I’m sure I’ll post more on that – and about film making in general – at a later opportunity!

That’s about it really, I kind of just wanted to post a little update, a summary of sorts about what I’ve been doing of late. I could over-saturate with what I’m doing on each day every day but I think a nice, concise post like this works wonders. Feel free to comment with anything that may have came to mind as you read this post!

-Lee

Reverse Days

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Hello,

This week is a week I have been dreading for the last month or so since I started my new job. This week is the first week of the night shift. I have experience of night shifts from when i worked this job last time out so I entered this week fairly prepared for what I was letting myself in for – which may not necessarily be a good thing! I last worked them some three years ago, I was 22.

The first thing this week has taught me so far is a heck of lot has changed for me in those three years, and not just in a personal or social manner, but on a physical and chemical level. Between then and now I worked a regular 9-5, Monday to Friday job that was primarily sat in front of a computer, it was quite easily the most relaxed job I have had. I had routine for the first time in my life, I could plan ahead knowing when I would have free time. My body became more consistent, energy levels peaked in the early afternoon and was depleted by half ten at night, I could honestly set a watch by how I felt at any particular time.

In these three days (and to some extent the last month I’ve been working shifts), my body has rapidly descended to feeling like it’s been put in a tumble dryer, not knowing where it is, what the time is, what it is meant to be doing, how it’s supposed to respond. I’ve actually had to sit myself down on occasion and tell myself “Ok, I’m needing energy for between 12pm and 8pm today, but then I need the energy to get up at 4am tomorrow morning, it’s ok though because I can crash at 2pm and not have to worry again until 10pm tomorrow evening”. Today I feel particularly groggy, I was in bed at 6:45am and woke up at 12pm, now I know 5 hours doesn’t really register as a great sleep, but I’ve managed to cope much better without sleep than I did today.

I’ve put part of this down to just me still getting to grips with shift work all over again, when I was 22 I struggled for the first few months before I got into the swing of things. However this time it feels different, I can literally feel the fatigue course through my body, my bones ache, my muscles are lax, my mood is terrible and I can’t stop checking the time to make sure I haven’t fallen behind schedule which is a terrible way to spend free time. I’m struggling to concentrate on a single task for any longer than 20 minutes, I have next to no enthusiasm to do anything. (Which, looking at my previous entry is bloody annoying!)

So I decided I’d do a little bit of research into shift work and it’s health affects. The findings were stunning. I feel like my body has been put through a ringer because it pretty much has, hormone levels are based largely on your body clock, start playing around with your body clock and your hormones start playing around with you. You are more prone to obesity as you eat during times your body thinks it should be resting, you can be at an increased risk to cardiovascular diseases, insomnia, depression and diabetes. Of course these are all worst-case scenarios as a result of prolonged exposure to inconsistent sleep patterns, but it still shows just how much it  can change your body, hell women are 48% more likely to develop breast cancer if they work shifts!

Ultimately, this is unsustainable, for me at least. I’m very much a lark, a morning person, I feel at my best before and during lunch before tailing off in the afternoon and crashing after dinner. I know some people are owls and can hack a night shift much better, coming out the other end feeling better than they did at the start. A best friend of mine is one such person, he works the same job as me and loves the night shift. Yet the other week, when we were working together on the early shift (6am-2pm), he was probably the most grumpy and bad company I’ve ever seen him.

I feel like I’m living in reverse, as I’ve written this, 35 minutes has passed, I started tired and I’m starting to perk up a little. I have 6 more of these shifts to get through before I can return to normal, 6 more reverse days.

-Lee

PS – The irony of all these ill effects of shifts is my place of work is the local hospital, go figure.

Woodwork – Level 1

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Hello!

So today was the start of something very special indeed, it’s featured a first AND it’s the commence of (hopefully) a very interesting hobby!

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That’s right folks, I have started woodworking.

It all started whilst I was honeymooning last September when I read the quite brilliant Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation fame. In it he talks partly about his upbringing and how he broke into acting, but it also touches on his woodworking, a favoured past time of his which has grown into him running his own woodshop. The way he enthused about it really drove home to me and caused me to research the practice further.

Before today, the only experience of woodworking I had was at secondary school where for half a term every year you do woodworking as part of the technology group of lessons in years 7 through 9. During those classes we were taught the fundamentals of woodworking, how to use a saw, how to sand down wood properly and how to make very basic joins. This all culminated in making a little trinket box in year 9, something I have unfortunately lost since. About a month or two back, a friend of mine posted an image up of a little plant box he made from reused timber he cut out of a wooden pallet. As I looked at it, I asked myself why I couldn’t give it a go myself and so shortly after, I started to go on the hunt for a pallet of my own. However, it would appear I started this search during the worst pallet drought OF ALL MANKIND. I also didn’t really look terribly hard if I’m completely honest.

I eventually asked my Dad if he had any laying around at his workplace, to which he replied that he had plenty that weren’t being used, so he very gladly donated two to the cause, the journey had begun! They seemed in good condition, at least good for an industrial pallet, and so after buying my first saw at the weekend, I took them apart plank by plank this morning. It only took an hour and I suddenly had some wood to be creative with, and completely for free – something I’ll have to remember should I ever have a small project in the future!

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I’ve decided I am going to make a box big enough to grow some fresh herbs in. My wife always likes to use them in our dinners and so I thought it’d be pretty sweet to be able to grow our own in the back garden. As we rent our house, we cannot make a vegetable patch in the ground of the garden so a box is a handy compromise. It’s not going to be massive, enough for around three or four of our most commonly used herbs and will sit on the ground where the sun reaches for the longest amount of time.

Next for the wood is a good sanding down, but that will have to wait until I am paid on Friday. Another decision I made was that this will be completely handmade, no electricity involved (apart from the light in the garage, can’t see woodworking in the dark being at all successful!), this is mostly because I don’t wish to use power tools unsupervised, nor will it be any particular fun! So it’ll be the ol’sandpaper and block of wood approach, which I’m fine with. I can put on some Father John Misty and quite happily sand away for hours on end, I reckon!

After that I’ll measure everything up and see what fits best where before the assembly begins. I’ll use a mixture of wood glue and nails in a discreet manner. I’m still umming and arrr-ing over the use of varnish to finish it off, I’ll save that decision for after it is all assembled, I might just like the look of it in it’s current state. And then that’s it, project complete, level up!

Nick Offerman, I doff my cap to you as I start this merry adventure!

-Lee

My Relationship With Professional Lee

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Hey Blog,

So perhaps the absence wasn’t as long as I originally envisioned, but I have something to write about. As previously mentioned on this blog, I’m not the most career-minded of individuals, I now wish to explore this characteristic a little further.

As my contract with my employers state, I am to work 40 hours a week. In agreement with them, I give up 40 hours a week of my life in order to work and received a compensation wage at the end of the month. That I have no problem with, at all, ever.Therefore, once those allocated hours are completed, usually in 8 hour shifts over 5 days, the agreement is no longer active and I am free to forget about work until such time as I’m next required to attend.

So far, pretty sensible.

It’s when I hear stories of people bringing work home with them, or having weekend conference calls, or staying for an extra two hours to catch up on work that I completely fail to understand. Granted, it’s probably a requisite to becoming super-successful, but I also think it’s a fast track to a generally dud life. I believe the moment work becomes more important than your own life is the moment life is not worth living.

I have never been open to the idea of coming to work during my designated time away from work. During that time, work doesn’t have a say in how I spend it as far as I’m concerned. Sure they may ask me to completely a new training workbook or review certain aspects of my performance, to which my reply is very simple ‘Sure thing boss, I’ll do it as soon as I have a free moment during the shift‘. Some of my colleagues take work home with them and the affects it has on their morale is startling. ‘Oh I wasn’t able to sleep very well because I was worried about work’ is a phrase I hear all too many times, yet it’s never come from my own mouth.

Now, why am I writing this all up? Well, I recently started a new position within my hospital, in fact I returned to a job I previously held. This has caused me to ponder just quite what I’m doing. I left this job previously for a reason which is very much intact currently, shift work – the only reason I returned is because the pay is better than my previous job. So I’ve been asking myself, am I going against everything I believe in by sacrificing quality time with my family in order to bring home better money.

Today I am working from 12:00pm until 8:00pm, I will see my wife for approximately an hour or two before she goes to bed. There are some shifts I’ll work where I won’t get to see her at all, despite living in the same house. That’s not conjunctive to happy living, regardless of the increase in wage packet, surely? I’ve been waking up every morning and asking myself why I am doing this, it’s almost as if a separate entity enters the room and throws a leash around my neck. I call him Professional Lee and it’s very much a love/hate relationship. He’s brilliant in times of need at work, keeping a level head on matters and pulling through, but I am quite happy to leave him at work come the end of my shift. Recently however, he’s been coming home with me, and that’s not good.

Blog, I think this is me realising I probably made a mistake in moving back to this job, which is quite a big realisation to make. I’m going to have to stick it out for a while whilst I look for an opportunity elsewhere, most likely out of the hospital, and just hope that Professional Lee doesn’t become Regular Lee.

-Lee

A Note to Blog

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*Blows dust off the blog*

Ah there she is.

Hello Blog!

I must apologise for the silent treatment I have been giving you recently, I have no excuse, nor do I require one. For you see, I have not felt the need to express any opinions of mine to yourself recently, maybe this is just a new stage of content I have with my life, perhaps I am finally growing up and feel as though I no longer need to feed my ego by relentlessly telling an audience how to behave.

Your kind is certainly a comfortable one, Blog. It’s a safe haven where you can express feelings you otherwise wouldn’t, or have trouble doings so, in public. Where you can form your opinions into a written document, comfortable in thinking those that follow you will agree, and those who don’t will either move onto the next one or try and cause a reaction with some kind of comment that you can quite easily ignore.

If only human life was so easy, Blog.

For years I have wondered what I could use one of you for, maybe creative writing, maybe photography, maybe opinion pieces. Each and every time I have fallen out of love with the idea, which I have been told via others of your kind, is perfectly normal. Akin to trying on shoes, you keep trying until you find the pair that fit you just right. But, I think it’s more than that Blog. I think it’s me trying to achieve something through sheer quantity rather than quality. I don’t think I’ve allowed a natural flow of content to take place, it’s always a spotlight shining harshly on a particular subject, with a production line of sub-standard content on runaway mode.

Blog, I think what I’m trying to say is I’ve misused you, and many of your kind in years past. I’ve used you as a pit donkey, giving you the weight to carry and expecting you to do all the rest, to carry my unimportant opinion to the nether reaches of social interactions. I’ve realised that’s wrong. We should be working as an 80’s buddy cop duo, me the charismatic likeable goon who generally gets the duo into tough situations, and you the solid, dependable, by the book master cop who gets the best out of us every damn time.

So yes, it has been a quiet spell, and in this new light, I don’t think that’s a bad thing – this is one of the more interesting entries I have made here. We’ll have plenty more quiet spells whilst I think of good content to explore and write. In the meantime, I’ll grab the doughnuts if you grab the coffee.

-Lee