Published: Thursday October 8, 2015.

Hello there, autumn 2015

Cows - October 8th, 2015

My alarm went off at 0645 this morning. I was out of bed at 0657 and by 0702 I was walking down the road toward Tresparrett Posts. I said ‘hi’ to a field of inquisitive cows. After 3.46 miles (5.56 kilometres) of walking, I was back in my house and sat down at the kitchen table ready to eat breakfast — two fried eggs on buttered Vogel’s toast — that my best friend and housemate Jen kindly cooked for me. The time was 0810. My eggs on toast were scoffed by 0825 and as 0830 turned up I was in the shower having a scrub. Shortly after that I got dressed and put on some clean jeans — the first time I’ve worn trousers instead of shorts in many months — and accepted that autumn has now properly arrived. At 0900 my work day started. It took me an hour to deal with the overnight and day-before backlog, and just after 1000 I started listening to FanuSamurai’s “Focused Mind” album. Just now I’ve opened Scrivener, twisted the cap on a fresh bottle of Club-Mate and in 200-ish words I’ve summarised my first three-and-a-bit waking hours of Thursday, October 8th 2015.

I write all this because it’s a big deal. The simple fact I can write anything at all is an even bigger deal. Whether or not it’s coherent, engaging or writing worth reading is left as an exercise to you, dear reader — but you’ve got this far, so I thank you.

Yesterday, I had the most recent mini-meltdown in a series of mini-meltdowns scattered throughout a trying 2015. I’m trying to avoid corporate-speak and not call it challenging or referring to issues — this is neither the time not place for that — but this year has been really, really tough for me on both personal and professional levels. I have some objective levity in my post-walk state, so it’ll probably help to understand some of the run-up to yesterday’s incident mini-meltdown.

I am eternally surrounded by physical chaos and clutter, I over-commit on things that cost me energy and sanity and I’m dysfunctional in the sense that I don’t really know how to lead a proper, fulfilling life outside of work.


Come with me now as I go back a few days. I’ve been building a new work computer from parts. My current work computer, a MacBook Pro laptop from 2010, is starting to show its age. Over summer it went from being reliable to quirky. Some everyday things were going bit la-la, and the troubleshooting I’d done wasn’t really helping a great deal. The time had come for a new computer. Rather than drop money on a new Apple iMac or MacBook Pro, I decided it’d be more cost-effective and appropriate for me to build a computer from parts. And so, I did. After some finagling, I got it working properly and I have a computer that should last me another 5 years or more.

Building a computer became an emotional experience for me, when it should have been a very dispassionate and clinical process. I spent a few hours plugging bits together, mucking around with boot loaders, kernel extensions and other nerdy stuff. When it didn’t work the first time, the little self confidence I had vanished. I’d persuaded myself that — objectively — this was the right thing to do and worthy of my hard-earned money. The thousand pounds (give or take) I’d dropped on computer parts to build something that I’d hoped would last me most of a decade suddenly seemed a really big deal. I figured out various problems with appropriate solutions, and learned a few things along the way. It was hard work, but the end result is what I wanted.

The weekend before I undertook the build, I was on Lundy Island. No computers, no phones, and no electricity between midnight and 0600. I walked a lot. I explored unspoilt land. I saw puffins, dolphins, seals, and played darts for the second time in my life. I laid down in grassy fields and forgot about real life for a few days. I smiled. Like, genuinely for realsies. I smiled for the first time in I can’t recall how long.

Getting back from the stark, minimal simplicity of Lundy to a packed, chaotic Penwarren was tough. I didn’t realise how difficult it was until yesterday. Neither Jen or I have been particularly good housekeepers this year, and so it shouldn’t really be a huge surprise that with our respective career paths and daily routines that things in Penwarren can quickly go from OK to not OK in a short space of time. I can deal with a certain level of not OK for a given amount of time, but yesterday I just couldn’t. Frustrations boiled over, and there were tears. There was escape driving. By the end of the day there were also hugs, and there was a small swing back toward OK from not OK.

This year has seen a lot of change for me, and yet some things stay the same. I hope to go into a bit more detail about these changes in a future blog post. The love I had for certain things has faded, and unfortunately hasn’t yet been replaced by anything. I do know that I like autumn as a season, mostly because I really didn’t do so well in summertime and it’s a time for me to redeem myself professionally and personally. That was the reason I went for a walk this morning. There was no emotion, no chaos, and short of the saying ‘hi’ to the cows it was a solitary activity that I desperately needed to start my day.

I told myself I’d write today, and it’s taken far longer than I expected it to and went down avenues I wasn’t expecting.

On the other hand, I told myself I’d write today and I did.