I originally intended my Facebook account to exist primarily for 'real world' friends, family, work colleagues, school friends etc. Not as a judgement on internet based buddies, but just as a privacy thing regarding photos and that of my friends I might post that they might choose not to have circulated too widely, plus the fact that I have younger nieces and nephews on my friends list that I didn't neccessarily want exposed to stuff posted on my wall like "YO KINS, WHAT THE FUCK YOU UP, HOW'S IT FUCKING HANGING??" and all that. When my Fubar activity went on the wane, I relaxed that, and started adding online friends to my facebook. In a recent change in policy, I have, you may have noticed, reversed that decision. Again. There you go. Not significant of anything, I've just slimmed down the old Facebook. If anyone fancies being all weird about it, that choice is yours, naturally. But don't.
Just wanted to pop in and say Merry Christmas, folk of fubar! It's been a funny old year for me, as you may know, and the upshot of it is that I'm plain not going going to be around next year any more than I was this, so it looks like the MuMMs are finally free of my inanity. But for what it's worth I had a tremendous blast, notwithstanding the ultimate result, and I shall always look on you folk with fondness. I wish you all the very best for Christmas, and I trust that 2011 is, for all of us, a step in the right direction from whatever kind of 2010 you may have had. Peace to you and those you love
Slightly awkwardly, I'm not entirely sure to what audience I'm writing this. What follows is a story you may know all, some, or none of, depending on how I know you, and how well I know you. However, for the sake of getting it over with, let's assume you know nothing, and tell all.
Some background. I worked, from late 2004 until around June of 2010, for one of the Performance Teams of the Local Authority. Previously to this, I had worked for a university, and previous to that, I had worked for the same team at the Local Authority, in its previous guise as the Research and Information Team. In total, I worked for nigh on ten years for the team, with the exception of those 15 months spent at the university. For the majority of that time, I did so with a good reputation, as shown by their decision to rehire me when I decided the university thing wasn't working out.
Sometime a couple of years ago, things started slowly derailing. I went from having a firm grasp on my role, to starting to feel a bit lost, to not picking up some new things as quickly as other people in my team, and I started floundering. I was also getting sucked in to spending time online, on social network sites, when I should have been working. It started off in a fairly normal manner - checking my email before work, popping on over lunch, just checking out this link someone sent me... But, over time, the time I was spending online grew. Inevitably, this meant the time I spent working shrunk.
Part of me wants to acknowledge the part that the floundering played in this, and how the self-esteem issues I've always faced compounded it - it seems evident now (if not then) that my history of depression, low self-esteem and so forth made me retreat from the problem, so much as I was aware of it. Part of me, however, is loathe to do so, as the last thing I want to do is to start psychoanalysing myself out of taking responsibility for my actions. Mental health history, addictive personality etc aside, I knew I wasn't working, and I knew I should be working, so I don't want to kid myself into thinking this wasn't my fault. It clearly was.
To cut a long story short, I was getting more and more withdrawn from my job, and spending more and more time messing about online. Until, ultimately, the time I was spending online far exceeded the time I was spending doing any work. Needless to say, this meant that work I wasn't doing wasn't getting done, or was being picked up by those around me. I went from being a valued member of the team, to deadweight. Holding the team back, adding to the pressures of my colleagues.
In February of 2010, I was taken aside and informed that my internet useage had been reported/discovered/tracked, and that an investigation was underway. Three weeks later I was suspended. Some three months later (and I'm working without notes here, so the dates may by hazy), I went before a disciplinary hearing, and was dismissed.
I did appeal this decision. It seems unlikely that nobody reading this will think, "This started a couple of years ago? You were suspended for three months before a hearing? What was going on there?" So yes, I appealed the decision, in order that some of the questions raised by the process could be answered. I must stress that this appeal was not based on any attempt by myself to deny what I had done, or to avoid taking responsibility for it. I only mention it now because, as I said at the start, I don't know exactly who I'm writing this for, and if anyone reading this had heard there was an appeal, and I didn't mention it here, it might be assumed that I had tried to deny what had gone on. Similarly, I would also add that this appeal was not in anyway used by myself to start pointing fingers at anyone else, to shift the emphasis from myself to anyone in management or HR or anything. There were, it was acknowledged by the appeal committee, things undertaken by the authority that could have been done differently, but ultimately, this is about me. It's not my place to talk publicly about the organisation, it's my place to focus on what I did and take responsibility for that.
So I lost my job. Through my own actions, my own fault, I was dismissed from my position.
Why blog it?
Firstly, I promised my partner. She's been incredibly understanding, especially considering that I got myself suspended days after buying a house, and during the worst economic disaster the country's seen in years. Spectacular timing on my part, and no less spectacular support from her (and indeed from all those around me - telling my parents was fairly horrible, their response was nothing short of incredible in its support and love). But part of dealing with this, from her side, included me having to step up and take responsibility. Not to hide from it, but to man up and take the rap. And, let's be honest, rightly so.
Secondly, because it is actually part of dealing with the wider issues involved. It's not, when it comes down to it, about me losing my job, or my income. It's about me acting like an idiot, making a pig's ear of my life, and losing sight of what being a grown-up involves. I got myself into a situation I didn't know how to get out of, because my behaviour was ruling me, not the other way around. And I won't break that cycle of behaviour by blaming it on other people, blaming it on my mental health issues, or just trying to hide it away and pretend it didn't happen. This is what I did. And the more open I am about it, the easier I make it for myself not to make the same mistakes again.
Thirdly, it's important to me that I acknowledge the long list of people I let down. My partner, my family, my work colleagues, as well as myself.
And lastly, because that whole goofing off online at work is not something unique to me. And I'd heard rumours of people getting fired for it, read stories about people losing their jobs for it. But you never think it's going to happen to you. Or, for that matter, your online friends. Fourth-, fifth-, sixth-hand stories tend to just sink into our brains and get forgotten. Well, now you have a second-hand story, straight from the horse's mouth. People who don't do their jobs cos they're messing about on Facebook or whatever can get fired. I know, cos it happened to me. And maybe a second-hand story will stop you having a first-hand one of your own. Think on.
As I've said, I have a history of depression. I could have so easily let this sink me. But I didn't. For once, I had to take something bad and make something good out of it. I had too many people to make it up to. Rather than retreat further into myself, and totally give up on myself, I had to realise that my low sense of self-worth was one of the contributing factors in this mess, and that therefore part of breaking the cycle was to not let that self-worth get knocked any further. I messed up massively, I have to recognise this, but it's equally important not to be too hard on myself. Wallowing in self-pity or self-loathing is unhelpful. Taking the kick up my backside for what it is, and putting that behind me is the only sensible reaction. I'm not a bad person, I'm just a massive idiot. At times. I made a string of bad judgments, but what I do now is make right ones, not just beat myself up for the bad ones. It's not, however, just like I flipped a switch, and got myself back on track. I've had bad days, bad weeks, this year. And some bad habits aren't that easy to shrug off. I am very much a work-in-progress. But I'm heading in the right direction, I hope.
I'm temping now, as a receptionist, for pretty basic pay. But I'm doing a damned good job at it, and I'm making sure that doing a good job continues to be important to me. I'm taking pride in how well I'm doing my job, which is something I can do no matter what the job I'm doing actually is.
But I'm also taking stock. This happened because I wasn't happy in my work. So do I continue to do work that makes me unhappy? Or do I take this opportunity to really think about what I could do that would satisfy me? And if that's not something I can find in work, what can I do outside of work to find that fulfillment? And there are obviously other questions that spring from this, other areas of my life I can look at and see if I can't shape up there too. After all, I might as well spring-clean the whole house once I've started, right?
If I'm smart now, and the Lord knows being smart hasn't been my strong suit, but if I'm smart now, I have a chance to turn this around and make this ridiculous mess an opportunity. Wish me luck.
So far in the past week, I've had my haircut by two primary school children, built a flat-pack cardboard terraced house and decorated it with glue and tissue paper, photographed a large red ball in various places round the city, watched Daniel Kitson deliver a moving monologue on home, seen Camille O Sullivan perform an outstanding set of Jaques Brel, Nick Cave and Tom Waits covers, been captivated by two clowns asking each other questions for six hours, and, to be fair, been bored stiff by a musical history of Jerusalem. The Norfolk and Norwich Festival was established in 1772, and has been a major event in the city since the mid-1990's. And I absolutely LOVE it.
#nnf10 or #nnfestival on Twitter
also, http://www.timetchells.com/ for the website of the guy behind the clown thing, which was astounding
Last night went to the Playhouse to see Adam Buxton present BUG. This is a show he's involved with that currently has a bi-monthly slot at the BFI Southbank in London, giving big-screen exposure to the latest awe-inspiring work in music videos, anything that dazzles from big name directors to low-budget and zero-budget efforts, and generally celebrating the more extreme and experimental work being done in the field of music promos.
We're lucky enough to have Adam Buxton living in Norfolk, which means we're now getting a semi-regular dose of the show at Norwich's Playhouse too, and my friends Becky and Dan took me last night (after swiping my tickets when I double booked myself last time it was on). It was an absolutely brilliant night. Buxton's hosting injects a healthy stream of comedy into the event, including some of his own video work (last night he played us the video clip he's got on his website that's his reaction to the vigourously critical net response his new sitcom The Persuasionists has recieved) and some of the choice Youtube comments the featured videos have received. Artists featured last night included Shynola's video for Coldplay's 'Strawberry Swing', Fluorescent Hill's 'Spacious Thoughts' video for N.A.S.A. and the video for Grizzly Bear's 'Ready, Able',directed by Allison Schulnik.
Some of the promos appealed more than others, naturally, but as a night out it was such a different exeperience to a gig, or a stand up show, and such an informative and interesting one, that I would definitely encourage people in (or visiting) London to check out the BUG website and see when it's next on. I'm certainly getting tickets for the next Norwich show.
I'm Youtubing the ones I most enjoyed last night, and adding them to my stash. I know plugging your own Fubar shit is vaguely distasteful, but...
· No Biscuits
· No Confectionary
· No Chocolate
· No Cakes
· No Desserts
· No Ice Cream
· No Peanut Butter
· No Crackers
· No Purchasing of CDs
· No Purchasing of DVDs
· No Cigarettes
· No Social Networking sites
This was the list of stuff I gave up last year. I'm debating whether to add "going to the shop at work for food" to it.
"The hugely popular BUG returns to Norwich Playhouse for another programme of extraordinary, extreme and downright brilliant music videos from around the world, presented by comedy genius and music video fanatic Adam Buxton (The Adam & Joe Show, BBC6 Music).
A hugely popular bi-monthly event at the BFI Southbank in London, BUG explores the range of creativity in music video today – from exciting work in mainstream videos, to off-beam DIY no-budget experimentation.
BUG#3 promises more brilliant clips rarely seen on a big screen (or even a TV screen) and some incredible online discoveries – with insightful and hilarious contributions from Adam. It’s an essential night out aspiring filmmakers, music video fans – in fact, anyone who wants to see great visual creativity and great music on the big screen."
That's what I'm doing tonight.
There are four types of complaint to master before you can consider yourself truly one of the MuMM folk.
1. Your MuMM's too trivial! What to have for breakfast? Whether to cut your hair? What soft beverage to drink? You need us to help you make your mind up on that? How do you get dressed in the morning without Fubar?? MAN YOU SUCK!!!
2. Your MuMM's too serious! Should you leave your partner? Should you take your daughter to the hospital for that thing? Should you sign up for another four years? What the hell are you doing asking a bunch of strangers on the net for? Talk to your family, man! Dammit!! Why would you take this bunch of idiots word for anything?? MAN YOU SUCK!!!
3. This isn't a MuMM! Coke or pepsi? This film or that film? Ford or Chevy? Stick your poll up your ass, man! Sounds like your mind is already made up!! MAN YOU SUCK!!!
Once you've mastered these three, you're ready to complete the set, by mastering number 4.
4. The MuMMs are dead! Nobody posted a MuMM for two hours? And therefore everyone's logged off cos nothing's happening? Who killed the MuMMs? Why does nobody come here and post any MuMMs anymore? MAN THE MuMMS SUCK!!!
They're not all things I'm proud of, although some of them are. Neither are they things I'm ashamed of, though again, some of them may be. They are simply things what I haven't done.
1. I've never read 'The Catcher In The Rye'.
2. I've never seen the movie 'The Godfather'.
3. I've never stage-dived. Stage-dove. Done a stage-dive. Whatever.
4. I've never eaten calamari.
5. I've never seen 'The Sopranos'.
6. I've never downloaded music off of the internet (although I did get a friend to do it for me once).
7. I've never punched a dude (that I remember, I did get beaten up once when I was very drunk, so I can't swear I didn't at least try to punch one of those guys, but I don't remember it).
8. I've never done a sex in a lady's bum.
9. I've never scored a goal (okay, again, I have to admit to my memory being hazy on the subject, sport at school is a blur, but I'm sure enough that I'd be happy to put money on it).
10. I've never ridden a camel.
So my nephew's three, and he don't talk to so good. We thought maybe he had something wrong with his ears, and indeed it turns out he had a case of glue ear, which he had an operation for yesterday (which went well, although the little fella was so resistant to EVERYTHING that they had to gas him in the end, even to put his id bracelet on). But anyways, he's also seeing a speech therapist, and the latest theory is that actually the problem is not his ear stuff, but that he's MAKING UP HIS OWN LANGUAGE.
Obviously, we're hoping that we can get him speaking proper English, like what the other kids speak, so that when he goes to school he doesn't fall behind, and that. So, you know, there's a cause for concern there.
But on the other hand, he's MAKING UP HIS OWN LANGUAGE!!
I can't help but think that's kinda cool.