Category Archives: recovery

Or Maybe Not…

For the second time in a week I’ve been put on hold. I chased the UN HR department last Friday (what a pleasure chasing those departments always is) and was told that the recruitment decision had been delayed for ‘some more weeks’. I emailed back to ask whether that meant June or July but didn’t get a reply…This process is a bit like unrequited love: you don’t dare write, for fear of offending the desired party; when you get a reply you eagerly respond and then wonder what you said that put them off writing back.

And, since I was told today that I was coming to the end of my freelancing, I am back to square one. So tonight I cleaned off my kitchen blackboard. Tomorrow I’ll decide what to put on it, what’s next.


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Maybe Tomorrow?

The title of this Stereophonics song has been in my head a lot this week. I was interviewed at the UN on April 29th and the interview panel told me I’d hear at the end of May. There are now only three working days (Germany’s bank holiday was last Monday not next) left in May and I’m still hopeful that maybe tomorrow I’ll hear.

It’s the perfect job for me at the moment. I want to use my languages and editing skills to make a difference in the world which, in job-speak, becomes multi-lingual public service in a global organisation. And that’s what this job is. Even though I met all the required criteria, I couldn’t quite believe I was shortlisted, then interviewed. But now that I have been I know that I really want it, that it is, like Goldilocks and baby bear’s bed and porridge, just right. Toes crossed.

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A Comedy of Errors?

I was supposed to have an interview tomorrow. But this morning, 24 hours before it was due to take place, the government body in question emailed me to say that the interviews had been put on hold because of ‘budget constraints’. It didn’t take long for Con-Demn’s cuts to hit me then. I should have seen it coming though; the application process for this job has been the worst I’ve ever encountered.

I applied for the job on February 16th. Six days later I received confirmation of my application. On March 2nd I received another confirmation, and notification that shortlisting would take place by March 12th. If I hadn’t heard by then I was unsuccessful. But on March 12th they emailed to say that the shortlisting would take place on March 18th…seeing a pattern yet? I heard nothing on the 18th and felt quite miserable. This was an editorial manager’s job; I’d done it for years, I could do it standing on my head, with my eyes closed and my feet in a bucket of porridge. If I wasn’t even being shortlisted for this then, hmm, the market was much worse than I thought and I needed to think fast about my contingency plans. Like how to pay the mortgage. And eat.

The next morning I received another email. They hadn’t actually shortlisted yet, because someone in the recruitment team was ill. So I hadn’t been rejected. They emailed me a few more times to say ‘sorry, but they hadn’t progressed any further’ and then they finally told me, on April 21st, that shortlisting would take place on the 27th. And hallelujah, they kept to that date and, as I set off for my UN interview, I discovered that I was on the shortlist.

On May 13th they confirmed that my interview would be on May 27th and asked me, ha, to email by return (their stress) that I could make it. Reader I didn’t. I could have done but, do you know what, I thought they could bear to wait a few days after making me wait three months.

I’ve spent every evening this week reading their website, answering and mocking up questions and as I walked to my freelance job this morning I felt very well prepared. And then they sent me their last email: it was cancelled. I’m cross but oddly not surprised. After all, they’re not very efficient. I always keep emails relating to a job app, but I’ve never had fourteen to keep before. No wonder the government wants to cut their budget.

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What a Difference a Month Makes

I disappeared a month ago, into the daily life of an office, and the back and forth of commuting, making sandwiches, trying to do all home admin in the gaps around a working day, and thus my blog disappeared too. I thought I’d make an effort to come back though, by telling you about the good and the bad.

The good is I should be in Germany right now, having an interview with the UN. I applied for a job back in Feb, did a 10-page editing test in March and then, on April 1st I was told I had an interview. I have been ridiculously excited ever since, though the small matter of an Icelandic volcano and trying to buy a suit in spring have rather dampened my enthusiasm. Ashgate has meant I can’t fly and the interview has been postponed; Suitgate almost meant I had nothing to wear. After ten years in publishing, my smartest outfits involve posh jeans and some nice boots, but nothing that would pass muster beyond the literati. And last week, after two nights of trying on everything in Covent Garden and on Regent’s Street I was starting to wonder if I’d be wearing my jeans to Bonn after all. Then Bloomsbury saved me. Tucked away in the Brunswick Centre is a branch of Hobbs, a shop I abandoned when I lost weight and stopped wearing matching jackets and trousers but a shop that still, unlike so many others, realises that women need to buy suits in the sunshine (someone in Esprit asked me ‘why are you buying a suit at this time of year?’). And, what’s more, it was empty and instead of fighting to try on clothes in a space too small for a battery hen, and screaming down the corridor for help, I had a changing room and an assistant all to myself. £400 and 40 minutes later, I was in proud possession of a suitably black and demure suit and heels. I was feeling very smug and ready for the trip until the ash continued spreading.

It will still happen, just not yet. And it feels like the perfect job: editing in a multilingual public service organisation. Fingers and beautifully shod toes crossed.

The bad is I started decorating my bedroom (ripped out carpet, blind and all comforts) and then had to spend two days in the aforementioned and now somewhat cell-like room, nursing a rotten cold in bed. It was Easter, I ate no chocolate, had no lamb and, since my laptop had just died and was refusing resurrection, I couldn’t even surf to my heart’s content in bed. Not the best way to spend a four-day holiday. What’s more, since I’m now at work full-time, and have spent the last two weeks swotting up for my job, I’m still sleeping in the rather monastic bedroom until I get a chance to finish off the painting. Perhaps DIM needs to become PSE (pay someone else).

Finally, I went to a selection day to become a Samaritan and was refused, mainly because I’m too proactive. Oh and apparently, since I take anti-depressants, I’m in recovery. Recovery? From what? My genes? Life? But now I’m rather glad that they’re not taking me; I don’t think they have the Samaritans in Bonn…

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Weighty Issues

I have been back from Spain for almost as long as I was there, which seems very weird when I think of how little I have done since January. Painted a wall, completed my tax return, applied for the few jobs that are out there…and, it seems, eating. Yes, eating so much that when I tried to sit down in my ‘fat’ jeans yesterday my best friend asked me if my back was hurting, such was the look of anguish on my face as I tried to bend. No, it was just my jeans’ waistband digging into the flesh that wasn’t there when I bought the wretched things.

Though I know I’m not eating loads more, I know that my habits have changed enough to have an effect. First, I’m not climbing up and down a hill four to six times a day, second I’m eating two or three course dinners at weekends instead of snaffling a couple of tapas and third and, probably the most telling, it’s been a really long winter and I’ve made good friends with toast and cake. Such good friends that my very skinny and very expensive 30″ jeans have long been consigned to the ‘possibly sell on eBay‘ pile, whilst I’ve been reduced to the ‘when I need another inch or two of leeway’ pair. And even they are now rather too skinny.

So today, inspired by the beautiful sunshine and the prospect of swimming lessons from tomorrow (to learn the front crawl) I decided it was time to shed my clingy friends toast and cake and meet my summer companions, grilled protein and green vegetables. And I also decided to face the truth: I bought a set of bathroom scales.

I should add that I have only had the sort of waist that can be comfortable in 30″ jeans for the last two or three years. When I split up with my ex in 2007 I left behind many good and bad aspects of my former life; my appetite for one. I became a fridge grazer and that, combined with misery, saw me shed 20 odd pounds, or ten kilos or so without even trying. I haven’t been that thin for years, not since I did my final exams, and although I was probably a bit too scraggy, I rather enjoyed the thrill of wearing the sort of clothes that had always been denied me in the past. Suddenly I was a 10-12, not a 14-16 and it felt rather lovely. Somehow being skinny tasted better than food. And, yes, I have just realised that I’m echoing Ms Moss here…

It all began to creep back on last year, but not in any significant way, and it seemed that I was going to stay a 12, and not jolly my way back into the L categories. But somewhere along the way winter, not enough exercise and being at home all day (going to work in London is a form of exercise in itself, especially if you use the Tube) did for my mini-skinny moment. So today I decided it was time to a) weigh myself and b) honour the sunshine and start eating for spring.

I couldn’t wait for John Lewis to deliver the scales so I went, if you’ll excuse the awful pun, to the other end of the scale…to Argos where the same ones were all of 1p cheaper and immediately available. I came home, followed the instructions (oh, yes, they have printed instructions), took off all my clothes, put the scales on a flat surface and stepped up. When I looked down I realised why they now sell them with magnifying glass covers: I couldn’t read it.

I fetched my glasses and tried again. Twice. Because although I feel like I’ve doubled in size, I have actually gained all of seven pounds, or three kilos and am now 11.5 stone, 73 kilos or 0.073 of a metric ton (don’t you just love computers). That’s more than I want to be but not as much as the 12.5/79/0.079 I was imagining. After three months of barely any work, of barely any jobs to apply for, and in the week when I have started doing exactly what I didn’t want to do – eating into my savings – at last, some good news! It’s so not important, it’s so trivial but, at a time when so much else is beyond my control no wonder I care about my waistband.

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Filed under food, pleasure, recovery, Spain, unemployment


There I was thinking shopping lists and reminders. But no. My friend decided to immortalise me as a chalk cartoon. I love it and can’t bear to rub it off yet but since I will, eventually, I thought it needed to be made permanent here. She also encouraged me with a rather pertinent work suggestion, but that’s for another blog, a daytime not midnight one…

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Filed under home, pleasure, recovery, redundancy, unemployment

An Idea for a Reality TV Show?

When becoming single again there are lots of things you worry about losing and not being able to do any more. I shan’t patronise you with a list. But suffice to say I never thought that some of the most banal would be the most irritating. I have a kingsize mattress, a good 30cm thick, and at least 20cm taller than me. Turning it alone is like some kind of challenge in a cheap TV show, like a test for surviving singlehood: if you can do it, end to end, without dislocating a shoulder or a finger, you will get through to the next stage, the one where you manage to live happily ever after alone and win £50000. Why has no one thought of it before?

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Filed under home, recovery, singlehood, What I'm thinking about