askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
Today I spent a day at The National College in Nottingham. I am beginning a course I don't feel particularly strongly about but which will give me the illusion of career progression in my current role and enable me to walk into a well paid job in locations other than my current one on account of ticking that all important 'qualifications' box.

This building is HUGE. It has no fewer than three, three storey atriums and a lot of empty classrooms/conference rooms. Here is a picture of a bit of the building;



Massive.

So, our course tutor, a man who was offered such good money to become a NCSL tutor that he quit his job as a Primary School Headteacher (a well paid job, if you were wondering), tells us, proudly, that the building was built by Tony Blair.  It was Labour's initiative, he tells us, which established the National College and created these qualifications (not unlike an NVQ, but for 'leadership').  

I am, therefore, sitting inside a New Labour folly; a monument of wood and glass to wasted money. A monument to creating excessively, disproportionately, well paid jobs for people 'training' people to receive qualifications in the job they are already doing, or would previously simply have learnt by doing, not by writing down how they would do it.

More specifically, I am sitting in a building which - in a roundabout way - is the reason there is no money left in the country.  And no money left in the country means cuts to Arts funding.  Cuts to Arts funding means fewer scholarships and bursaries.  Fewer bursaries and scholarships mean stiffer competition. Stiffer - insane - competition means I los[e/t] out at Hull and I am not currently beginning my PhD research.

In short, the man standing in front of me, droning on about 'evidence types' and 'professional standard written English' and the need to understand your 'learning style' is earning per annum enough money to put me through university as a Postgrad for 3 years.  The window I am gazing out of could have bought me, what - all my textbooks? Sent me to a conference? paid my electric bill for the first month?

All around me is waste.  Waste which has such a profound impact I am forced to engage with it, am swept along in its pervasive ooze; just so I can remain in employment and, most distasteful of all, perpetuate it by falling down this rabbit hole of a career path.

Labour left this country, specifically education and the arts, with the most appalling debt.  The insidious self-perpetuating nature of their callous waste will keep me awake tonight, as it has done many nights before.  And what can I do about it? Can't vote Liberal, won't vote Tory, can't vote Labour.  Can't send an invoice for my lost future/ambition.  Can't win.  Can't beat them.  Got to join them.  

Joining them, filled with self loathing, disgust and fury.  Pure, undirected, righteous fury.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
As the years go by I become increasingly convinced class is more a state of mind than it is a socio-economic reality.

My parents were working class.  The half of the family who have the greatest impact/input on our lives are all working class.  My older (half) brothers were brought up in a working class home.  My Mum met my Dad and had me and I was brought up in a lower middle class home in a middle class area at a middle class school.  I left home for university, was vomited from there into the world and promptly became [economically] working class again.

I currently work in a state school were I watch the taxpayers money - my money, your money - being spent.  Being spent unwisely, often.  I hear the business manager (yup, that's what schools have now) talk with the Head about turnover, budgets and project management.  Sometimes, I think they forget there are children in the 'business' they are running.  The business manager - my manager - wants me to become a business manager myself.  I am 'going along' with it for the sake of looking like I want to work there - and thereby secure my small income - but as soon as I get the opportunity to leave for a new job as far away from money management, I will.

I find it abhorrent, talking about money and people management as though they are just meaningless numbers.  How many books - or computers - could be bought for the school, or poorer schools in the county, if both the business manager and head took a 10% pay cut?  I could not take the money they take to do the job they do, from a public service budget, with a clear conscience.

But to move up on the class ladder - my previous and current experience tells me - I must be willing to act without conscience in taking a pay rise.  And I must act selfishly in demanding more pay and more benefits, and in viewing a school, for example, as a business to be run not an institution to be nurtured if I wish to climb out of the economic group I find myself in.

If having a big house, a flash car, designer clothes and expensive holidays means stamping on people, rejecting the community spirit and 'less doesn't matter if you still get to be with your family and friends' attitude that I was raised in and brought up believing - through social-genetics as much as being actively schooled in that mind frame - then I don't want it.  If money comes above equality in relationships, and career progression must be bought at the cost of nurturing and preserving the person I am - as it has starkly done for some people I have known - then I don't want it.

Above all, there is an inherent dishonesty to me in pursuing class mobility.  In achieving it, more so; as the effort to earn enough to maintain the lifestyle must take precedence over maintaining bonds to the past and, due to an inherent snobbery in the middle class, disguising one's roots.  I do not want to be paid an exorbitant amount of money for moving figures around or writing nonsense on bits of paper or 'networking' to further business concerns, I do not want to learn how to do those things, I do not want to begin to learn how to do those things.  My only ambition is to be paid an honest wage for an honest days work and go home and know that, in whatever small way, I have contributed something small and perhaps even vital.

I think I need to read News from Nowhere again.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 Why am I here?

I mean here, at this point in my life.

I left Brighton because I was stuck; stuck in a flat I didn't like and which vaguely disgusted me.  Stuck in a job I definitely didn't like and paid me a pittance for working really hard and getting dumped on.  And stuck getting gradually deeper and deeper into debt - a little more every month (I had nearly £500 on credit cards to pay off when I moved back to East Mids, which may not sound like much to you, but it was/is a fortune to me - more than half of my monthly salary)

So I made what I thought to be the right decision; after a little over a year of applying for other jobs (a minimum of 2 professional jobs a month, more than that if you count 'unskilled' jobs)  I decided to change my situation, move to the East Midlands and take the financial pressure off myself by living with my parents while I got a new, better job.

2 weeks after moving back, my parents encourage me to take the only job I have applied for in the area; one that offers me less than the £13,000 p/a of my previous job but involves no travel costs.  I take it with the intention of finding another job; except there aren't any other jobs.  And I don't even know what words to search for on job sites.

In the back of my mind the plan was that I would live with my parents for a short while and then, with the earnings of my fabulous new job, get a modest 1 bed, or, if I was working in Nottingham, a flat share there, and live for a year or 2 saving for the PhD.  As it is, I cannot save for the PhD now (I still haven't paid off my overdraft) I have met exactly 0 new people and have seen my old friends from the area twice since I've moved back.

Now I'm not only screwed financially, I'm screwed socially.

I'm also constantly ill.  This stomach thing means I'm losing weight, which presumably means my body isn't processing the things I put in it, so I'm not getting the nutrients I need, so my skin looks like shit, my hair is horrible and my immune system is non existent.  I am constantly tired and am currently suffering through my third major cold in 8 weeks.

I want a new job, but I haven't got the faintest inclination of where to look anymore and I am beyond uninspired: I truly believe I am qualified for nothing because I simply cannot break out of jobs unrelated to my field.  Every now and again inspiration strikes and I seek out entry level jobs in fields I am interested in or full on passionate about; they don't exist.  Or, if they do, they are tailored for candidates who have not been to university, after all those guys need an extra hand up because we graduates live in the land of milk and honey already.


I just need someone to tell me what my skills are and where I should or could look for work.  But they don't do careers advisory services for 26 year old graduates with a job.

I feel like I keep trying to make the right decisions; keep moving, keep reassessing, keep planning.  But none of them work out.  It is no coincidence that yesterday marks the 2 year anniversary of things going to shit.  In a few more weeks it will be 2 years since I graduated from my Masters course.  A few weeks after that will be the 2 year anniversary of my starting a full time job on a £13,000 salary; the job that would 'last just a few months' before I got the £20k one I was 'destined' to have.

I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FIX THIS.  And there is seemingly nowhere to find out.


askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
It strikes me it has been some time since I've posted a 'proper' entry.  Perhaps it is time to remedy that.

I have been in my new job for a month now and whilst it does not fulfil me it is a relatively low stress environment and my manager - the school bursar - seems to think I'm a good egg and has made many efforts to stress she wants to help me develop my career in school administration which, whilst it is obviously not my career of choice, is certainly positive - in this financial climate, a manager who has a long term professional development plan for their newest employee after 4 weeks is a rare thing.  In short, my response to  the dilemma I expressed in my previous post, is to try and wait it out. My timescale for a review of where I am is set at the beginning of January, after that? We'll see.

The usual idiosyncrasies of a new work place have begun to reveal themselves to me; half the office hate the manager because she expects them to do work during the day. Instead they sit about, bitching about staff, parents and kids and gossiping with anyone who stops by.  The other half of the office work part time and do three times the work of the full time bitches.  Such is life.  I am, unless you haven't guessed, firmly in the second camp, except I have to be there full time.

And I do mean bitches.  I've never worked anywhere where the majority of the people full on don't like me, or just plain ignore me.  And that really is what happens.  As usual I find I'm getting on better with men in the school than the women and were it not for the guys in premises who pop in from time to time and always have a smile and always enjoy a brief chat and a giggle with me, I think I'd be tearing my hair out.  It has to be said that after a particularly frustrating day today were a couple of my contributions to an office wide conversation were not just ignored, but overruled/immediately restated by someone else, I came home and cried. Le sigh.

I'm finding living back at my parents house not nearly as bad as I anticipated.  In particular, I feel relieved to be back in the countryside.  In the mornings, as I am smoking my cigarette, I watch a family of squirrels play in the same tree.  Yesterday one snuck up on another and pounced....oh his tail.  Then they chased back and forth, tumbling and grabbing each others tails.  It reminded me of this scene in the Sword in the Stone.  

The other day I clambered down the river bank next to my house, as I have so many times before, and watched a vole and, later, a water rat, scramble about on the bank.  Every day my parents garden is filled with birds - just as it has always been, but you forget how much you enjoy seeing these things until all you see for 3 years is seagulls and pigeons.  We have pigeons here too, of course, but they are the beautifully purple wood pigeon.  And those guys mate for life, unlike the promiscuous city birds.  

The last two lunchtimes - partly out of frustration at the office situation, partly because the weather was so enticingly mild - I have left work and done a speedy circuit of the village on my bike in my lunch half-hour.  It's been nice.

It's not all good though. I'm aware - acutely aware - for the first time just how oppressive queer invisibility is.  There is a teacher at the school who I knew was a dyke the first time I met her.  This week a PGCE student started in her department and she is also, clearly, a dyke.  The urge to just seek them out one lunch time and exclaim "gay! you guys are gay! so am I! Can we talk about gay please?! do you know any gay bars? Can you take me to some?!"

...Which is absurd of course, and unimaginably embarrassing were I wrong (although I'm sure I'm not) and I'd be pissed as hell if someone said that to me BUT. I miss teh gays!  I miss a gay on every corner, as provided by Brighton, and I miss people asking after your "partner" instead of your "boyfriend" before they know for sure.  And I miss people not doing that surprised face/quick hide it look when you casually correct their "did your boyfriend" in your answer (e.g. "no, she.....") And I miss wearing whatever clothes I want, instead opting for clothes that won't get me heckled in on the streets of Grantham.

How I hate Grantham.

All that said? I guess I'm comfortable. Actually, I might go as far as happier. But not content.  More factors need to be present in my life before I can claim content.  And less bursting into tears because everyone at work is mean.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
The Big Move of adjusting (largely unsuccessfully, I might add) to living with my parents.  The Big Move of leaving behind the most important friends I have ever had or made.  The Big Move of quitting a job I hate, bolstered by self confidence that it was a Big Move to get a Big Payoff. All of it was, in short, Big.  Was it worth it? 

Today is day 7 of the new job.  I have done most of the jobs in the office now; filing, personnel file updating and management, purchase orders, making travel arrangements for teachers going on trips or courses and communicating those arrangements to them, shredding, more filing, delivering post, database usage, management of the school calendar.  It will come as no surprise to anyone that this is deadly boring.

I think, were it not for the fact my fellow office workers are a cheery, friendly bunch who assume greater knowledge when explaining something rather than lesser, I would have quit already.  As it is I am torn.  I am finally getting office experience - something that has been a gap in my otherwise excellent experience section on application forms - and if I join the union I could volunteer to be the union rep for the school workers and that would be brilliant experience but...

I can't help but feel I'm missing out on something much, much better.  I am really angry about the fact the job centre had me booked in for a one-on-one careers advisor session - specifically designed for 'professionals' and people with degrees who find themselves unemployed - on Friday gone but I had to cancel it as I had started this new job by then.  It might have been useless, but I really didn't feel like it was going to be useless.

I hate being unemployed, largely because there is nothing to do and nowhere to go because you don't have the money to do it.  But how is trading Brighton and all my friends therein - a place I love with a job I hate, for a place I hate and a job I hate? I explicitly weighed up no money to save for PhD/great city/terrible job against good job/money to save for PhD/terrible place to live/no amazing friends.  I feel short changed.  

And I don't like feeling short changed, so I need to act.  I'm just not sure whether quitting is the right course of action or whether I should stick it out and then quit say, in the new year claiming my reason for leaving on future application forms as being because I wanted to get office experience and stayed only until I had.  The latter is the obvious, hedging-your-bets choice, but no part of this move was supposed to be hedging my bets, it was meant to be bold and daring, and it was meant to be the shock my working life needed to get it on a decent track.

At the end of the day, I don't want to be rich - I want to be happy in the way I spend my days.  And yes, money is an excellent facilitator; house, garden, holidays, food, books, PhD; but that is all I want or need it to be.  Yes, I want to work.  But I want to enjoy my work.  And I want to feel like I am doing something appropriate to my needs; which are, quite simply, to be engaged by my work. 

Either way, I need to make a decision.  I haven't slept since, well, since I started really.  No more than 5 hours a night.  Feel like the living dead.
askygoneonfire: if you lived here, you'd be home by now (November the 15th)
 In 26 days I will be 26. Struggling to have any positive feelings about this.

Today I visited the job centre to transfer my claim from the Brighton office. As with the previous visit the advisor was rude and...stupid.  He mocked my signature for looking silly (I know, wut?) and kept laughing at the course title of my Masters (Sexual Dissidence in Literature and Culture) before needing convincing that yes, that is what it says on my degree.  He snorted once more and said "I won't write that on your file" and simply typed 'M.A.'

I spent the afternoon with my brothers, which was lovely.  Although we all had a bit of a weird psychic moment where brother 2 and I left his flat to surprise brother 1 with a visit - 1 didn't know I was even going to be in town today - we arrived to 1's flat but he wasn't in.  So we nipped into the nearby Asda and received a call from 2's partner who was still at their flat.  1 had just arrived.  This means that we both left our respective departure points at the same time, having not planned to meet or visit and all three of us deciding on the spur of the moment to visit at that exact time.  Weirdness.

I got home to my parent's house and my Mum tells me that the school at which she works, the same place I had an interview the other week, want me to work there in some sort of admin role.  Apparently it pays better than the one I interviewed for and I won't have to interview again.  So obviously I'll take it if they offer it to me - don't look a gift horse and all that.  

I was planning on going to the cinema with brother 2 tomorrow for Orange Wednesday to see Salt.  We were going to go to a matinee because it's cheaper and he needs to get home at a reasonable hour to go to bed as his schizophrenia medication makes him sleep for at least 12 hours and he's at work at 7am the following morning.  ANYWAY, I'd be leaving at 1:15pm for the cinema, not unreasonable that I won't be constantly in the house between 8:30am and 4pm, surely? My parents believe I'm being reckless with a solid job offer and I should arrange to stay in ALL DAY.  This is particularly stupid given my Mum could just say to the recruiting woman tomorrow morning "oh, she's only in until 1pm as she has to go to the job centre" or just "go out".  Not unreasonable, right?  Parents continued repeating same thing.

Eventually I packed up my stuff and went upstairs to my room, once again - I've spent a significant portion (if not all) of 5 of the 6 evenings I have been living here for, in my room (and the sixth night was spent at a friends house).  I may as well have got a bedsit and stayed in Brighton.

I am, despite my above refutation, thinking about looking a gift horse in the mouth.  I have spent the last 3 years trapped in a job I hate in a city I love.  I say trapped because of the working pattern of 1 day on, 1 day off, 4 days on, 1 day off, repeat didn't allow me time or energy to look for new jobs with necessary zeal.  Financially, of course, I was also trapped, unable to afford luxuries or save any money, but earning just enough to pay rent and bills; making myself unemployed in Brighton would have been suicide/was unthinkable.  But the gleaming, shining, bouncing, glowing star of optimism that convinced me to move back up North was the idea I would have space and time to find a job I might enjoy, as well as live in a place that would allow me to save for the now mythologised PhD.

In short, whilst the prospect of a job falling into my lap seems a delight, I can't help but sigh a sad sigh and prepare myself to be reinserted into just the working environment I so gleefully fled in Brighton.  I feel trapped all over again and I haven't even had the job offer.

I was meant to be having some sort of careers guidance meeting with an advisor a week on Friday.  I was feeling really positive about that.  And I was planning on going to Nottingham on Thursday to register with some agencies in the hope of striking out into publishing/editing industry - copy writing? Yes please.  But agencies and waiting for the career you've picked to turn up requires having an empty calendar - you have to be able to answer the phone call that says "we have a 3 month contract for a copy writer in x, can you start on Monday?" with "yes" not, "no, I have to give my one months notice first".

I keep getting trapped in this stupid fucking economy with my fucking useless (although, apparently amusing) degree and attempts to break out of it last LESS THAN A MONTH.  I just want a good job.  A graduate job - £20,000 p/a is not an unrealistic salary expectation.  What was the point in going to University, getting myself a £15,000 student debt, when I could have got a job at a local paper or something and worked my way up.  I could have done a degree at 50 if it was still something I felt I needed to do.  Instead I'm completely fucking stuck.

I'm single. And I'm 26(ish) and I'm living with my parents again - the latter being my choice in principle, by only because I thought it was a radical move that'd give me the opportunity to break out of the have no money-get paid-pay rent-have no money cycle of finances I simply couldn't break free of in Brighton.  And here I am, feeling more hopelessly stuck than I have done since I made the decision to move if I didn't find a new job in Brighton back in May.


ETA: Oh, and the rats aren't settling in nearly as well as I hoped they would and the only time they come to me is when they are cowering in fear and want to hide from everything/nothing in my arms/under my legs, rather than for kisses and tickles and hugs like they used to.  I feel fantastically guilty for upsetting them so much

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
On a train home to Brighton after my unsuccessful interview. I asked for feedback and she said about three times that I was overqualified, too intellectual for a menial job and er, overqualified again. Turns out when I got up to the school, had a look round and met the people I would be working with I realised I really wanted the job so went all out in the interview so I am disappointed.

Another dead person on the line in the Brighton-London area this evening causing train chaos, at least this one did it on a Monday, the Friday night jumpers are the ones I never understand.

Listening to an eclectic mix on the old iPod, just had Beach Boys (I just wasn't made for these times, which always makes me tear up at the wrong time of month/year. Beach boys lyrics are quality. True story) Los Campesinos! now. Later, Manics.

Anyway, moral of the story, give me a freaking break universe, I want a decent job, one that doesn't write me off the moment they see I have a degree (MA is now officially off the CV) or the moment I open my mouth and exercise my vocabulary. If all else fails I'll try and go back to HMV for Christmas.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 So, ArtFor Pride is nearly upon us.  We have hard copies of flyers and private view invitations and a final meeting with the other artists a week on Monday.  As a result, we're looking to the future and, on my suggestion, we're almost certainly doing our next ArtFor (on the condition this one doesn't crash and burn) for Mind.  I proposed we do a call for artists specifying we're looking in particular for artists who deal with madness in their artwork, which will double up as publicity.  Art/madness is such a popular theme I really don't think we can go wrong in terms of getting people through the door, which in turn means money in the bank for Mind. I met up with Becky today, two days after I proposed Mind and she said she can't believe we didn't think of it before - it basically markets itself.

In other Pride related news, all being well, I'm going to be in the parade in Brighton Pride this year! My friend works for the Terrance Higgins Trust and they want to bulk out their numbers for the parade so they are recruiting their friends.  I'm mad excited.

In less awesome news I'm tired beyond words at the minute, no amount of sleep - or lack thereof - is fixing it.  Customers at work are even commenting on the fact I look exhausted....Not got time off again until the beginning of August, 4 long weeks away.  Mentally I've been at a low ebb and as usual that gets borne out on my face. Le sigh.

Weird dreams and confusing daydreams which merge too readily into reality abound.  They have, if nothing else, furnished me with a bit of artistic inspiration and a new journal title here on dreamwidth.  Always a bright side....or something.

I have, however, got an interview, finally.  It's for the position of science technician in a high school in the village where my parents live - aka the place I was at school some 11 years ago.  There's actually another high school job I want more that I'm applying for - Art and Design technician in the nearby town.  Can't imagine a better job than spending 20 hours chilling out with art students in the art department at a school, but we shall see whether or not I can actually get an interview for it.  Need to book train tickets for the interview tomorrow. My credit card is already groaning.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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