When things are just…shit

March 8, 2013 in Best Of, Blogging, Misc


Parental guidance recommended

I’m officially in a slump. The original title of this post, back when I was initially planning on writing it about a week ago, was supposed to be something like “I’m back, baby!” or something similarly enthusiastic. But honestly, I just don’t have it in me right now.

Things have been, for lack of a better word, shit. Apart from a child who keeps getting sick from all the little viruses hanging around, the real scrotum crusher has been work. Generally speaking, I like my job, but I’ve recently had a temporary role change from writer to editor (for a couple of weeks) due to our top editor heading overseas to cover a conference and another leaving for greener pastures. The role requires a lot more work than I am used to, which means I get virtually no personal breaks during the day. The bigger problem is that I get all the hard articles, which take forever to do (some are almost complete rewrites), while the other editor gets all the easy ones that require hardly any editing because the bosses don’t trust that he can do a good job. I still haven’t figured out if it’s laziness or incompetence, though I suspect it might be a fecal cocktail of both.

Yet still, we get roughly the same number of articles to do, which means the other guy can spend half his day dallying with the fairies, whereas I am flat out from the get-go. Part of me wants to complain, but the other half tells me its for the best because I just can’t stand publishing sub-standard copy. Oh, and on more than one occasion I’ve had to fix up stuff he’s flubbed. Consequently, work these days often feels like this:

The other thing that’s been getting up my nose is the freelance gig that simply refuses to go away. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s for the Tourism Bureau, which is good, but the person I am dealing with on the other end is the most incompetent turd I have ever had the misfortune of coming across, which is bad.

Let’s see…where should I start. How about not having a freaking clue what sections she has sent me and what I have sent her? Is it that hard to keep track of emails and files? How about telling me it’s finished and then realizing later that she FORGOT to send me a major section? How about telling me after I spent hours on a section that, oops, she sent me the wrong version and I have to do it all over again? How about telling me AFTER I finished a section that the client needs to rework the original copy and that I have to do it all over again? How about sending me a scan and a file with no explanation whatsoever other than “please let me know if you have any questions”? Yeah I have a question: what the f%*# do you want me to do with the shit you just sent me? How about picking up your phone? How about returning missed calls? How about sending emails to the email address I told you to send it to? How about writing an email that ordinary humans can decipher in less than an hour? Aaaaargh!

Consequently, my after-work hours often feel like this:

(By the way, how is it consistent that Ibaka (in the first video) only got a fine after not getting ejected, and Bynum (in the second video) got a suspension after getting ejected as well? Is the stomach less serious than the nut sack?)

So yeah, not happy Jan. I guess that’s number 1,873 in my list of “Things to hate about being a former lawyer” — you deal with competent people for so long that you take competence for granted and when you head out into the real world and meet incompetent people it blows your mind.

Right now I’m getting home exhausted every night and feeling like I can’t be bothered to do anything. Writing blog posts or reading are supposed to be cathartic experiences but recently they’ve felt like a chore, so instead I’ve just vegged out on the couch or played Candy Crush (I hate you, level 135!). My plan to start exercising again is still not quite off the ground. I did about 40 minutes of yoga the other night and woke up the next morning feeling like I just swam the English Channel. First world problems still suck.

However, I am glad to say, the light at the end of the tunnel is not that far away. I’m working over the weekend but then I’m off to Japan next week for a little break with the missus. This will be the first time since I started this blog that I’ll be heading to one of my favourite places on the planet, so be prepared for some awesome posts. And when I’m back I’ll be back to being a writer at work, and hopefully the freelance gig will finally be put to rest.


PS: Another reason it’s been quiet around here is because I ran into some problems with my website. Apparently some cache plugins was giving my host server a lot of inodes, which was stuffing everything up. Yeah, I didn’t know what the heck they were either. Actually, I still don’t, but at least it has been fixed.

I’m still here, I really am

February 28, 2013 in Blogging, Misc

Man I feel like an In-N-Out Burger

Man I feel like an In-N-Out Burger

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I just want to assure everyone that I am still here with a quick post.

In short, it’s been hectic. All plans and dreams of settling into a routine have been trampled, spat on and stuffed into closet of dirty wet rags. The major culprit is this freelance gig that’s been tearing me apart! It was supposed to be an easy proofread for a government tourism booklet — at most a light copyedit — but instead it has become a full-scale rewrite and retranslation that’s taking me far longer than I could have ever expected. I’m nearly there, but not quite there because there are always potential spanners when it comes to government agencies. You know how it is, and if you don’t, you should.

The other thing was the Oscars on Monday (Taiwan time), for which I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to participate in a one-day gig helping out as a translation/film consultant for the local TV broadcast. It was a long day but it was fun and exciting, and I got to meet a lot of wonderful people, all of whom I hope to cross paths with again soon. I’m going to write up a post on that experience pretty soon along with my thoughts about the Oscars in general (including host Seth MacFarlane). It’s gotta be done.

Anyway, much of the time before that day was spent trying to catch up on the movies nominated for the Oscars, in particular the best picture titles. I never ended up getting through all of them, but I still intend to do so. There’s only Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild left for best picture, but I’m also hoping to be able to get to The ImpossibleThe Master, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom and The Sessions as part of my Oscar movie blitz. I’ll be reviewing all of them, along with the other nominees I’ve already seen, such as Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Lincoln and The Invisible War. I’ll get there…someday.

Work has also been somewhat of a nuisance because I’ll be very busy here for the next couple of weeks. It was unavoidable and certainly foreseeable, but still, it sucks feeling like you’re running on adrenaline most of the time.

That’s all for now, but as a butt-groping, nanny-impregnating governor once said, “I’ll be back.”

A challenging stretch

March 31, 2012 in Misc, Parenting

There are very good reasons why I haven’t posted on this blog for a little while — I had been going through a pretty challenging stretch and I’m glad to say things are finally starting to get better.

My son recently contracted acute bronchitis, which is horrible enough for an adult but insanely, ridiculously difficult for a 3-month-old baby. It started with an occasional blocked nose which we put down to a change in the weather. But a couple of days later, that developed into a small cough, which we thought would get better on its own in due course. But then one night he had a fever for the very first time, and it drove us mad with panic. I’ve heard many stories of babies getting sick and having fevers and so forth, but when it happens to your own the terror is enhanced hundredfold.

Fortunately, the fever went away over night, but when we took him to the doctors the next day (in place of my highly anticipated Hunger Games viewing) we were shocked to learn that he had acute bronchitis, which, if not treated properly, could evolve into pneumonia, which is of course deadly for infants.

As you can probably imagine, the last week has been a nightmare. The little one struggled with a sickening cough and copious amounts of phlegm, which we needed to trying and break down with a vapouriser and then pat out or suck out through the nose.  Feeding him medicine through a syringe was exhausting as he clearly did not like the taste.  And then there’s the sleep problem.  On some nights we would be lucky to get 1 hour of uninterrupted sleep and 3 hours of broken sleep in total.  Not exactly what you need when you have to go to work the next day.

It was, of course, more difficult for my poor wife, who still has to breastfeed him every couple of hours.  The problem with a sick child (especially one that probably has a sore throat) is that they don’t feel like eating/drinking, which is a huge problem as they can dehydrate very easily. So on the one hand we were worried he wasn’t getting enough fluids, but on the other we were dreading the constant feeds.

The fatigue took its toll, as both my wife and I fell sick over the next couple of days.  We had no doubt contracted it from our son because our immune systems were so shot from the lack of sleep. So it was two exhausted, sleep-deprived, sick parents looking after a sick baby every night for almost a week.

To top things off, the freelance project I had been working on for 3 months — the one that had run into multiple delays — was suddenly urgent!  Yes. Overnight, the project went from “take your time” to “we need to publish the entire book this week for the London Book Fair”!  On the bright side, it was kind of good to push myself to finally get the damn project out the way so it would not longer be hanging over me — but let me assure you, it wasn’t a pretty few days.  Luckily work was quite breezy and didn’t compound my problems.

Now at last, the project is all done — completed, finished, done and dusted.  Forever.

After two more checkups at the doctors it appears my son is out of the woods and is getting better day by day, though it might still be a little while before the nagging cough goes away.  As for me, I’m recovering as well but it’s going pretty slow — it’s hard when you’re still not getting sufficient rest.  We’ve been taking shifts looking after him (while the other sleeps) but my wife has been kind enough to let me sleep through the last couple of nights so I feel at least semi-alive during the day.

So hopefully the worst is now over and soon my life will start having more of a routine, where I can not only write regularly on this blog but also work on my other writing projects from time to time. I have something like 50 post drafts waiting for me to get to, so I better get started.

I want my sleep back!

March 13, 2012 in Best Of, Fantasy, Novel, On Writing, Parenting

It’s amazing how little sleep you can function on when you have no choice.

As a new father, I’ve repeatedly astounded myself by sleeping less than I’ve ever slept in my life, even worse than when I was working my tail off as a lawyer. The problem is not just the lack of sleep — it’s the continuous breaks in the sleep when you actually do get the chance for some shut-eye that really kills you.

I used to be a relatively deep sleeper, but now I wake up over the sound of a pube hitting the ground. You can’t sleep when the baby is crying or making noises, and you can’t sleep well when they are completely silent because you wonder if something has gone horribly wrong.  It’s f&%ed.

That said, I am getting used to it. Kind of. I had my first five-hour sleeping spree last night in months, followed by an uninterrupted two-hour nap. I am hoping my little boy has finally turned a corner (I probably just jinxed myself there), but I’ll have to wait and see tonight if it’s just a once off miracle.

I long for the day I can get a full night’s sleep again.  I hear maybe from six months onwards, babies will be able to sleep through the night.  Looking back, I deeply regret the times I took sleep for granted.  Ahh…sweet, sweet, beautiful sleep. How I miss thee!

Life has slowly entered a routine around here. Well, kind of.  I go work in the morning, stay there for nine hours, come home, have dinner, try and finish off my freelance work, maybe watch some TV or a movie, play some Words With Friends or Scramble With Friends, exercise a little, feed the little one and put him to sleep, before I collapse in exhaustion myself.

Not that I’m complaining. Despite the general exhaustion and sleep deprivation I have never been happier.  It’s such a wonderful thing watching my little boy grow everyday — he has already doubled his birth weight and has gone from a skinny alien into a fatty with a couple of chins.  I love watching his big wandering eyes, seemingly curious at every little thing in this new world around him.  I love how he cracks a little smile when I steal a kiss on his chubby cheeks.  I love the look of satisfaction on his face when he finally gets that hard-fought burp, fart or poop out.  I even adore (love is too strong a word) the way he sobs and cries.

In fact, it’s one of the rare, perhaps unprecedented times in my life where I actually know how special things are right now.

The best part about my current situation that I no longer hate my job.  I wouldn’t say the work, working conditions are pay are ideal, but it feels good not waking up to a tsunami of overwhelming dread every morning just because you have to go to work.  Amazingly, I enjoy what I do and almost look forward to it.

It’s only been a month, so I probably just jinxed myself again, but it’s been the first time I’ve ever actually thought about work outside of work hours because I want to, and not out of fear. I want to write good articles and I want to come up with better ways to write and improve my writing. I also enjoy reading my articles after they’ve been published, particular so I can see the changes our copywriters have made so I can learn to be a better writer.

The working hours are good, the work itself is varied and most of the time it’s interesting. Occasionally I still get the dud article but I take it on the chin and think of it as a learning opportunity. On the downside I thought I’d have a lot more spare time during work hours to do other stuff, such as doing my own writing.  But not only does it feel wrong, I actually don’t have that much time — maybe five minutes or ten minutes here or there, which is never enough to get into the writing mood.

Right now the only thing preventing me from getting back on the novel-writing wagon is this freelance job I’ve been doing. After three months of crawling through this turd, I can finally say I am in the home stretch.  I’m just about in the colon.  My guess is one or two more weeks, and then I’m done.  It’s a good thing to have on my CV, being able to say I edited an entire book and all, but it’s just too hard and the pay is too low.  Besides, I’d much rather work on my novels again.  I’ve been in touch with my friend back in Oz and maybe we will get my masters project back on track.  I still believe it has potential.

As for my fantasy novel, I’ve been dreaming about it a lot lately. I guess it’s always like that — the scenes are written in your head much easier than they are written on the page.  Having kind of ‘figured it out’ at last, I know I’ll have to rewrite most of the damn thing, but I look forward to the challenge. Thanks to Game of Thones for getting me back into fantasy.

That’s the life update. I have about 40 posts in wait, and I promise I’ll eventually get to them. The only problem is that new post ideas are popping up quicker than I am writing them. Oh well, it’s time for the night feed. Sweet dreams (fingers crossed).

What a Difference a Year Makes!

September 29, 2010 in On Writing, Study

Source: Sparknotes.com

I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately, but for once, it’s kind of a good thing.

I’ve been waking at 5:30am in the morning and have been unable to fall back asleep because my mind is wandering all over the place.  I’ve been working on a bunch of articles and I’m always trying of think of ways to develop and structure them.  But I don’t think of it as a pain or a chore at all.  It’s all actually quite enjoyable.

Anyway, it got thinking — so much has changed over the last 12 months!

Almost exactly a year ago, I was just recommencing work again at my old law firm after a stint in the UK where I had some of the best times of my life.  It was one of those ‘oh my god, I can’t believe I’m going back there’ moments, where my brain was telling me I had to give it another shot, while my heart had already left the building and was already looking for stuff to write about.

Interestingly, I was also suffering from a lack of sleep back then — not because I was excited.  No, quite the contrary — I was constantly stressed and wondering how I could get through another day without going insane (ie become one of ‘them’).  My days were long and my nights were short, and sometimes, non-existent.  I hated waking up in the morning because that meant I had to go to work, though I’d wake up early because I had too much on my mind.  And I hated going to sleep at night, because it meant I’d have to go to work as soon as I woke up, but I needed it if I was going to be able to function properly the next day.

I’m making it sound worse than it was, but at the time, it really felt rather torturous going through those emotions every day.  There’s nothing wrong with what I was doing — indeed, many people love their jobs, and let’s face it — I was one of the lucky ones to even have a job, not to mention a relatively well-paid one (funny how we used to always complain about the pay, which was a legitimate gripe if you calculated it by the hour).

Now, I’m in the reverse situation.  I’m making no money, but I’m enjoying life and ‘work’ at the moment.  Even when I eventually finish this course and get a job, I’ll probably only be making half of what I used to get (at least initially).  I’d be lying if I said that didn’t sting me a little bit, but it’s a trade I’ll gladly make every time.