I guess I'm here today because I need to ramble freely, the complete antithesis of twitter, and even more than what Facebook would comfortably handle (not even going into whether I -would- ramble freely on Facebook).
Mostly, I need to ramble about the year just gone. I need to do my annual review this weekend, and I started reading my old performance reviews at my company. I have to say it was interesting to see how much of it still feels applicable today. Some of the "areas for improvement" I recognise are still areas that I struggle with today. Having said that, I do think that there are some areas which have almost become second nature, so it isn't as if I haven't changed at all. I guess what I'm saying is that in some areas, we do what comes naturally and it takes a concious focus to change it. In others, we seem to be able to develop ourselves to treat and work in a certain way.
So does that mean that this annual naval gazing is a waste of time? The setting of resolutions etc? I've always thought that if there is something you want to change about yourself, there is no point waiting for some arbitrary date to do it. On the other hand, I do think that there is value in contemplating how the year has gone, coming to some conclusions and trying to apply them to the year ahead.
And that, brings us to my year in review ...
My first instinct, is to say that 2015 hasn't been a very satisfactory year. Work was a bit of a nightmare and that didn't leave much time for self-fulfilment. I'm still single. In many ways it feels as if I have been treading water this year.
However, within that rather negative assessment, many good things have happened to me over the last year.
Starting with the most recent, I had a wonderful Christmas. Now before I go on, you have to appreciate that I don't think I have really celebrated Christmas for over 2 decades. My parents opt to have a quiet day in, and I have pretty much continued doing that on my own (I once remember a teacher in secondary school exclaim about homework dated on Christmas day). However, this year I was invited to celebrate Christmas with friends. All I will say is that:
- I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the presents given to me.
- Oh for the love of God why is there so much chocolate (but the chocolate torte is all mine you hear)
The next thing that comes to mind is my holiday in New York. It wasn't exactly strife free (I came this close to losing my temper at certain points), but it was still an amazing experience. Going to see Sleep No More was a big reason for going, but somehow the memory that sticks in my head in the trip up the Empire State Building. I guess it is a combination of being a fan of the period, the great view at the top, and the wisdom to go first thing in the morning when it isn't too busy. That memory, and the general feeling of "Metropolis" that New York exudes in spades.
CFz of course was also a significant event, but not really in the usual way. Being on crew meant I really didn't have that much time to myself at the con, and the first couple of days were pretty brutal. But by the end of the con things had settled down reasonably well. On a personal level it also worked out a lot smoother than New York but ... *shrugs*. I also went to NFC this year, and while I met some really cool people, I probably had more fun after the con with Fuzzy, than at the con itself (ironic, since that was supposed to be the recovery period! Ha! I slept less at that time than I was at the con ...). I guess my problem is that I felt a little bit exposed at NFC, in a way I never have at other cons. It is certainly something that would change if I kept attending, but after missing EF I feel I shouldn't neglect it. Only down side is missing SilverFox ..
Another significant thing this year is that I've started going to Improv classes, and I think we've started something of a group now in Reading, to be nurtured further in 2016. I keep a small jar of things I feel proud of, and of the things that went in, half were related to Improv. I used to think I could "do" Improv, but I've learnt that like everyone else, I have strengths and weaknesses, and I have a better understanding of that now than I did then.
Well, that's a lot of writing about the past, what about the future? Again, I need to make a decision about my direction, both professionally and personally.
At work, I think I have gradually come to the realization that I am more interested in the management side rather than the technical details. I've always wanted to be a coder, but actually, I think my strength is in assessing business processes, rather than software processes. Getting to that place though, will be tricky for a few reasons.
On a personal basis, I'm still looking for that person to share my life with. I've never really known how to do "the dating game". I do clearly neglect certain types of socializing, but the problem is I'm not really looking for new friends (I struggle to keep in touch with the ones I already have), I'm looking for prospective partners. I guess it is like building the third floor of a building without the foundations, but it seems like all my friends are happily settled. Where then does one look?
Anyway, too much rambling. Maybe more thoughts later. I've enjoyed this. Maybe I'll do it more often ...
First of all on Friday I spent about 4 hours in a starbucks with Dan. It made for a pleasant way to pass the day while he waited for his friend Jack to arrive in Reading. Once he arrived we all chatted for a while, and I got an interesting insight into Dan's little galaxy. Finishing off the day we went to Nandos, where we continued to chat. Not bad for what originally was just supposed to be an hour or two in Starbucks!
Then Saturday I made my way to Marylebone station where we all met up. It was great feeding some old faces and catching up, especially with GraveCat. You are as awesome as ever dude!
Once assembled we made our way to Bodean's, where I made the discovery that burnt ends are very tasty. We also made the observation that their sauce congeals such that you can tip the tub upside down and it won't fall out x.x Given the seating position, it was also great getting cuddles by a big Huggie and playing with... What do I call him? Latran's windows phone.
After lunch we made our way, unfortunately rather too early to the Roundhouse in Covent Garden. While shivering in the cold waiting for it to open I did enjoy talking to Twix, who I had not met before, and Tryst.
Once the Roundhouse finally opened, we all piled in and surprise surprise, the cocktail orders started flowing. Several of the infamous fishbowls were ordered, and I even had one (a very fruity one which was very difficult to taste the alcohol I will mention).
Come 9:30 ish though, my hosts for the evening, Tabby was getting worried that his fellow developers were getting a bit too wasted, and we started making our way back. Given transport difficulties, that was a wise move; I don't think we got back much earlier than midnight. Some misadventures between the most drunk members of our group did occur, resulting in someone with substantial upper body strength inadvertently straddling the central reservation between two upwards escalators for a moment or two.
As for Sunday, we started by playing 3 games of Diskworld! Had a real blast and even won the first game as Vimes. The journey back into London was accompanied by Latran and it was great getting to know him a little better.
So at the end of all that, 3 new interesting people to follow on twitter :)
I suppose my mistake was to confuse quantity for quality. I think we have a lot of space in our lives for quality time with people, because that invigorates and re-energizes you. On the other hand, "quantity" social interactions is just exhausting. So for this year, I'd like more quality social interactions. This may mean, for example, that I'll start favouring smaller gatherings rather than the London Furmeet curcuit, where I actually get to spend time with a few good friends.
I'm also thinking of treating myself to more stuff this year. Now stuff is a bit of a delicate balance, because I do not have a lot of room for stuff, but I think there are some small electronic items that could improve the quality of my life. I'm looking to start with a Kindle so that I can start reading again, and maybe a small digital camera to replace the DSLR that got stole from me >.< (recommendations and thoughts gratefully received on either!)
I've also had something of a crisis of confidence in the year gone by. Almost all of the things that I hold dear to me have given me worry in one way or another:
- Work: Having been taken over by a new company the middle of the last year, I am finally being forced to learn some new technologies. Make no mistake this is a good thing, and I have the potential to work on some pretty cutting edge technologies, but I'm finding it much harder this time and I do question my own abilities. Every year I feel myself getting dumber and I worry how long I can stay in this field.
- Friends: I seem to have grown distant from those friends I considered closest. Maybe this is partly because I have been out of the country quite a long this year, maybe they are also moving on to pastures new. Maybe some of it is the fallout from being dumped (although that is coming up to 2 years ago now). I find it hard to think who to turn to these days when I feel the need for company.
- Furry: There was a point not too long ago when I realized that I am going to be hitting 30 very soon, and I asked myself; Is it becoming for a grown man to growl and yip at people? That was a big mistake admittably, the moment you feel self conscious the magic disappears. I am coming to the conclusion that I can be furry, but I am shocked by my inability to socialize with people -outside- furry.
More generally, in these circumstances I feel as if I am a deeply uninteresting person and I lack confidence. Among the people I know I always feel like the least interesting person and the slowest to catch on to the latest joke.
I suppose I should think for a moment of the things that have been good for me in the last year.
- I managed to visit India, which was a pretty eye opening experience. It is probably the most foreign country I have ever visited, and it certainly did broaden my horizons. No furries there though :P
- I've met new people this year and made new friends.
I think back to the "golden days" of livejournal, and I know that those days are gone forever. People have moved on to twitter or facebook, and I can see the attraction. I've tried them out, and I am pretty sure in more competent hands they are a great tool for social interaction. I also entirely agree that they are far more convenient to handle on a mobile device. How many apps out there can crosspost between twitter and livejournal for example (or G+ and Livejournal and twitter ...).
But I personally feel that these are not the social media networks for me. I mean, I don't really have any choice in the matter ... if I want to interact with people online then this seems the way to do it. But what I mean is that I grew up on Livejournal and I am having trouble adapting to this twitter / facebook world. Sure, I remember wishing once upon a time that there was a way to "only see the important stuff on LJ" (and I see Facebook is trying to just about do this now. People complain, but with the mass of posts coming through I don't see how else people will be able to manage), but ultimately, it was a system that worked for me.
Not that I don't wish that some of the more mobile orientated features of Facebook could be on LJ, but then I also wish some LJ features could be on Facebook.
I suppose there is no point wishing things were different. The important question is to ask how to best adapt to it.
Speaking of which stay tuned for my review of 2011, and thoughts about 2012! (Yeah ... riveting stuff >.> )
What triggered this change of heart you ask? Well, I met up with 2 friends from secondary school on Boxing Day, one of whom has Grindr on his iphone. As you do, we idly checked out what sort of other gays were in the area :P It is always always interesting to compare what we each find attractive.
Anyway, one particular guy's face caught my eye, and I just couldn't shake the memory from my head, so this morning I decided to download the app and see if I can find him again. And I did! I will also admit that in my search for this guy there were others that were quite cute too in their various ways.
And he's still cute, but reading the accompanying text more closely, it sounds like he's just looking for chat and well, I'm not >:P
All of which triggered the following thoughts:
1) Grindr encourages us to be entirely superficial. If that little square of avatar that jostles with everyone else's picture doesn't catch the eye well, then you get passed over. Given this environment, I have to wonder how effective this is at making friends or more in the long term. On the other hand, is it so different being in a big party with people you are not familiar with? Given no better basis, don't we all just start talking to people we find attractive?
2) Perhaps it is that Grindr enourages us to be judgemental that makes me uneasy. From the safety of a tiny screen, we can openly scoff at people, judge them unworthy, and well, be a bit of a douche. I think we're less likely to act like that when meeting people in person.
3) I put a lot of store in a person's smile as a measure of their personality. I don't think it is the worst way of judging a person, but it still feels superficial. Can you really judge a person by your first impressions?
4) I'm fickle. I'd almost say I fell in love with this guy's face, except for also finding several other profiles attractive. Story of my life really. And now that I've found it, well, I realize just how unrealistic my expectations were.
I still haven't decided whether to actually create an account yet, or just uninstall the whole thing. Any thoughts out there?
Aside: We had roast lamb for Christmas lunch, which was lovely. I know turkey is traditional, but I have to ask, does anyone actually -like- roast Turkey? My twitter feed makes me think that it is something that gets inflicted on people every year.
Anyway, despite the lack of specialness, I still got 3 Christmas cards (I believe a 4th may be waiting for me in Reading), and a present. It may not have been as many Christmas cards as previous years, but you know what the funny thing is? The less you get the more special each one feels. Every card I got this year is was truly touching, each had a little comment inside it that meant the world to me.
The present too was way more than I expected; An engraved travel clock from Temjin. It is beautifully old fashioned, and such a thoughtful present.
But the point of all this, I suppose, is to say that I got the best Christmas presents in the world. I'm not a very materialistic person; Frankly I have way too much stuff already and I earn enough that I can afford to buy anything anybody might buy me for Christmas. I really don't care how expensive that present is, but I do care how unique it is, about what it means, and how much thought and effort was put into it.
I suppose, like the husky attention whore that I am, I still crave to be shown love and affection.
And if you look closely, isn't that the bit of Christmas that works best? When we might share love, affection, and a sense of togetherness with each other.
Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all Men.
This time though, I'm using the ElJay android application (and frankly I have come to the conclusion that any social network worth its salt must have an app), and SwiftKey keyboard was on offer :) Here's hoping that it is a match made in heaven
And while I can use that as an excuse, I can't help feel incresingly irrelevant because of it. I look around at all the clever people around me, and then I look at my own rapidly irrelevant skills, and I wonder whether this is me growing old. I don't seem to be able to learn and absorb information the way I used to be able to.
And I feel as if I'm wasting my time. As if no matter how much time I spend on this, I'll never make any headway with it.