The Fatslayer Chronicles

May 2, 2006 at 18:07 o\clock

Reclaiming the Wasteland

Today's Weight 166lbs


This will be my last entry for a while – maybe my last ever. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I have some pretty drastic lifestyle changes to implement – and there’s no time like the present to have a complete life overhaul. Big changes are afoot, and writing this blog is an indulgence I simply can’t afford at the moment, since other things have elbowed their way up the priority list.


The catalyst for all my recent navel-gazing was the suicide a fortnight ago of my oldest, closest friend. His death hit with the force of a brick wall and stopped me completely in my tracks. He and I have known each other since kindergarten, and the thought of life without him is almost intolerable. I guess that people kill themselves for a whole mixture of reasons, but it seems that his main impetus was the problems that he’d been having at work with a difficult boss and a high pressure schedule. He just gave up on ever thinking things would get better.


This is the third suicide in my close circle in the past three years. The first was my only brother, who took his own life during a period of blackest depression in November 2003. The pain of his loss in still raw two and a half years after the event. Then in November 2005 my sister’s ex fiancé – who we all still had fond feelings for - stabbed himself six times in the chest, also in a bout of severe depression. In his case his despair was exacerbated by his worsening schizophrenia, which makes his actions perhaps more understandable, though still heartbreakingly poignant and sad.


This latest suicide, though, is almost the hardest to understand, since my friend wasn’t especially depressed, and yet he just decided that life was too shitty to carry on. His problems at work just drained all the fight out of him. I guess a bad job can do that to a person.


Anyway, his loss has made me take a long hard look at my own life, and man, it’s a wasteland.


For the past four years, practically all of my energy and time has gone into my job, and it’s become a blood-sucking vampire. Every other important thing in my life has been squeezed into the tiny portion of my day that’s left between coming home at around 7.30pm and going to bed at around 11pm.


My priorities are seriously screwed.


On an average day I get up at 4.30am, leave the house at 5am, get to work at 5.30am, work until at least 6.30pm. Then I drive home, eat dinner, talk to Kim a little, try and do a little exercise if I have the time and inclination, watch a little TV and then stagger off to bed.


Often I work all weekend, so this becomes a seven-day-a-week yoke.


I do all this for a boss who used to be a friend, but who in the past 12 months has transformed into a power-abusing tyrant, who makes the atmosphere for everyone in the team hateful and intimidating. She’s insatiable in her desire to get more work out of us, and would literally have us working 18 hour days if she could legally swing it. It’s like being in a fucking meat grinder.


Yes, it’s a highly paid job, and yes the quid pro quo of that is that it involves high pressure and high responsibility – which I knew when I accepted the job - but lately it’s gone beyond a joke. And I’ve decided enough is enough.


Unfortunately I can’t afford to turn drama queen and quit my job, but I can start showing a little backbone and working more decent hours. And from today, that’s what I’ll be doing.


In fact, I started earlier than today – I started last Friday, after the funeral. Instead of going back to work, I took some personal time instead. I didn’t go in to the office over the whole of the Mayday weekend at all. Instead, I planted out my tomatoes and my courgette, cucumber, and bell pepper seedlings into the mini-greenhouse. I baked loaves of bread and made batches of oatmeal raisin cookies and almond chocolate biscotti. I sanded down a wall, and cleaned out the garden shed. I mowed the lawn and washed the windows. I dug a flower bed and planted lilies.  I read a book (the whole thing, in one day – I haven’t done that in ages and ages) and I picked up my own sadly neglected novel-in-progress.


And I decided there and then that I was going to start writing regularly again, and that I’d finish this novel by the end of the summer, even if it half kills me.


So from now on I’m going to be writing. I’ve made a commitment, and now I’ve got to stick to it – otherwise the last 60,000-odd words are never going to get written. With the schedule I’ve set myself I’ll be too busy to write blog entries, but it’ll be a positive busy, not a wasteland busy. I’ll be using my free time when I’m not writing to go for long walks with Kim, to create life-affirming things (homemade food, homegrown veggies and flowers) and to nurture myself and my loved ones. This is a turning point for me, and I’m determined to make changes whilst I’m still fired up enough to make them stick.


I won’t be quitting my healthy lifestyle, but I guess I won’t be writing about it either – you’ll just have to take my word for it that even without the blog updates, things are on track. I won’t backslide, or take my eye off the ball – it’s just that I’ve been buried in the dust for so bloody long, and I’ve just got to dig myself out of the hole and start rediscovering all the things I’ve been missing.