working towards perfection (and failing)

Category: On the Job (Page 1 of 2)

when life gets in the way

Picture the scene, if you will.

It’s about ten past nine in the morning. I’m asleep in bed. Daylight streams through the curtains and a cat is curled up against my tummy. Somebody shakes me on the shoulder. It is Blokey. I’ve been made redundant, he calmly announces.

We’ve been here before. We will survive it again.


In the meantime, my summer holidays have just begun and he’s under my feet. Humpf. Best laid plans, and all that fandangly jazz.

He’s relatively nonplussed. He wasn’t keen on the work anyway and is worth far more than he was being paid. He’s spent the day updating his CV and posting it on job-sites. He’s already had a call from an agency and may get an interview at the beginning of next week. He’s also already sent his CV and a covering letter off for another position.

*fingers crossed*, eh?

utterly delusional


“I want you,” she whispered.

She sits at the desk next to mine. I like her, but I do find her to be a trifle odd.

Having ‘escaped’ an Eastern Bloc country as a young woman, she’s since lived in many different countries. Older than me, married to an English man, she has two grow’d up children and a thousand million billion friends. She talks incessantly about her rich friends with their posh houses. They live all over the world.

Her bestest friend shares my first name. This gives her a reason to like my name, and thus like me. Apparently. I do genuinely like her, but wish she would stop complimenting me. Her personal space values need to get addressed too, but not by me. Confrontation is something I’m more than happy to shy away from.

Sometimes I listen to her and think, ‘You’re lying, duck. Why are you lying?’ but I can’t be sure that she is. Maybe she’s just one of those people who is lonely despite the extensive friend network she’s built up. Or perhaps she really does live in a complete {or semi-} fantasy world.

I’m not even sure that she did whisper, “I want you,” but another bit of my head says, “Um yes, she really, really did!” Maybe it’s just me who’s utterly delusional.


Me and Maths


I don’t suffer from Dyscalculia. I know this not because I’ve been tested (I haven’t) but because I checked the symtpoms on the most trustworthy of sites (Wikipedia) and I suffer from very few of them.

I can tell the time with both analogue and digital, I find basic mental arithmatic to be quite easy, I only very occasionally get muddled between right and left, I can navigate using a map exceptionally well, I’m punctual, I can guesstimate distance and measurements and I remember names and phone numbers. In fact, the only three points on the list to which I can relate are:

  • Often unable to grasp and remember mathematical concepts, rules, formulae, and sequences
  • Inability to concentrate on mentally intensive tasks
  • Low latent inhibition, i.e., over-sensitivity to noise, smell, light and the inability to tune out, filtering unwanted information or impressions. Might have a well-developed sense of imagination due to this (possibly as cognitive compensation to mathematical-numeric deficits)

Maths completely and utterly scares the proverbial out of me and I genuinely don’t understand it. I can learn about mean, median and range till the cows come home, but it goes in my right ear and tends to make a quick exit out of my left. Pythagoras theorem? Well, I can spell it. Does that count? Shove an ‘x’ and a ‘y’ in my face and I’m likely to try to turn it into a word instead of try to solve a problem. Part of my issue with Maths is that I don’t need to know it. I can gage if I’ve been given the correct change in a shop with a single glance and I can find my way from A to B using a timetable. I can set my alarm to get me up at the right time and I know that it’s going to take me ten minutes to walk to the bus stop, so I leave fifteen minutes prior. In any given day it isn’t important for me to know which of mean, median or range is the equivalent of being an average (why can’t it just be called average?) because I know how averages work. My mind goes topsy-turvy when I think of having to study Maths or support someone in a Maths lesson and everything gets muddled. I imagine that it’s similar to what Dyslexics have to endure, although at least mine is more liveable with.

I think therefore that Maths was created to make some people seem more intelligent than they are. Maths is hard for me because someone made it hard for me. It doesn’t need to be hard and I shouldn’t need to prove that I can do equations and algebra and work out ridiculous angles when I’m never going to bloody use them.

*stomps feet in despair*

Yesterday we had a mini-training session (one hour) on how to best support students in using the 4 Rules of Maths. We went through ‘re-ordering’ (um, I don’t think so), ‘partitioning’ (what the f>ck?!), ‘bridging’ (okay, now I just want to run from the room) and ‘compensating’ (nope, you’re just throwing numbers in my direction and they mean nothing so I will switch off and enjoy the wandering rambles of my imagination). Having looked at addition (I can do that) and subtraction (I can do that too) we turned our attentions to multiplication. And at this point I became unstuck again. A grid method on the PowerPoint made absolutely no sense to me. My brain couldn’t work it out. I’m looking at the slide on the handout right now and my brain is threatening to implode. It actually makes me want to cry. And when we got to division? I completely switched off. I’ve NEVER EVER EVER learnt how to divide using that bus-stop thingy. And long division? No thank you. P!ss off, please.

I hate Maths with a passion and I’m not scared to admit this. What’s Maths going to do? Bop me on the head with an octagon? I am an intelligent (but not clever) woman, with a 2.1 Honours Degree, a teaching qualification, an insatiable thirst to keep learning (but not Maths or nerdy-Science based stuff, thank you) and a desire to keep my brain active. I shouldn’t be made to feel sub-intelligent just because my brain isn’t wired for some of the more ridiculous Maths problems; I will never understand some of the more complex Maths problems, or even some of the more simple ones. I’ve tried to and I will continue to try to if I need to (dependent on classes I support in) but I am not Mathematical and I never will be. It saddens me that there is so much emphasis on the fact that so many adults don’t have even the most basic mathematical skills, and yet they’re having their heads forcibly filled with mathematical concepts which they will not need (dependent on vocation chosen) and this is just odd.

Maths, I don’t like you. And I refuse to change my mind, although I quite like you when puzzling through my Soduko.

when expectations are too high

I don’t have a lot going for me. My hair is going grey, I have crooked teeth and I really can’t wear those super skinny jeans (yet, but I’m working on it).  I have low self-esteem (although Fb experts would disagree because I don’t post negative status updates that crave attention) and I get so-very anxious in unfamiliar (and sometimes familiar) situations.

I walk past shop windows and upon glancing at my reflection I think ‘whoa, ugly’ so quickly turn my attention to my shoes upon which I think ‘whoa, pretty!’

I’m rubbish at maths, I have no idea if feet and inches are metric or imperial and Blokey delights in telling everybody about the stupid thing I said last night.  And the night before. And yes, the night before that, too.  I don’t have a bestest friend (and don’t want one), I refrain from looking people in the eye (which makes me untrustworthy) and I ignore friendly strangers.  Trains make me panic, but I love travelling on them. I tend to read books written for young adults rather than grow’d up stuff and I shudder at the thought of trying on trousers in charity shops.

I can’t cook, my tea is always too milky (which is fine for me, but if I’m drinking it that way so must everybody else), I can’t always be arsed to shave my legs and I hate crumbley floors.

I shout at my cats, which makes me grateful I don’t have children.

My BIGGEST issue though is with praise. I just can’t bear it; I’d much rather be attacked by humongous spiders the size of kittens (they exist; I came face-to-face with one in a pet shop earlier this year … zoinks!) than have to cope with people telling me how brilliant I am.  And of course, people tell me often how brilliant I am.

I had my nine-month probation review this week, eleven months into my new job.

Oh, it won’t take long, gushed my now-ex Line Manager, I only ever hear good things about you.

I am good at my job and given a choice of ‘needs improvement’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘good’, and ‘excellent’ I hit the ‘excellent’ mark each time.  Attendance, punctuality, attitude, paperwork, professional development, dedication …

When somebody sits there and praises me, commenting on how everything they ever hear is amazing, it makes me feel uncomfortable; a freak of nature.  It isn’t that I desperately want someone to tell me that I’m doing something wrong or need to improve suchandsuch, but it makes me feel slightly insane, slightly imposterish and completely out of my depth. So I told my now-ex and now-new Line Managers that I was late, once.  By a whole ten minutes.  They just laughed and  I shrivelled up inside.

I have nowhere to go.

I’m over-qualified for my position, I’ve had my hours extended and I’m completing a course, with another two lined up for completion before the end of the academic year.  I hit all my targets, I work quickly and competently and I don’t need to be supervised or told what to do.

I LOVE my job.

But how can I improve upon ‘excellent’?

It transpires too that at some point on Wednesday my ears should have been tingling … One of the three departments I work for had their staffroom decorated/rejiggled over half-term and instead of having to share a desk I’ve managed to snag my own.  This is good as it gives me a base, somewhere to store all my bits and pieces. I like being organised (not so much at home although Blokey would disagree with me) so my desk is super-neat and beautifully labelled, with a home for everything and everything in its place.

Apparently somebody wanted to grab everything on my desk and shove it on the floor.


And the instigator of that conversation?  Yep, that woman who is so like me that she could be me, although she doesn’t have a well organised, beautifully neat desk. My initial hunch was correct, obviously.

I’m being observed on Monday afternoon.  Knowing that I’m so brilliant means that I’ll have to work extra hard at actually being brilliant when my now-ex Line Manager is in the room being all observe-y.


anyone else but you

I was making myself a cup of tea downstairs, singing insane songs to Qyzen Qytten and generally perking up a bit (following an hour of feeling on the verge of tears with no apparent contributing factor) when I realised I could hear the most annoying thumpthumpthump of music. Pesky chavvy/ette neighbours in their pimped-up cars, thought I. It transpires it was my music, upstairs. The Killers Cowboy’s Christmas Ball followed closely by Coldplay’s Paradise, for the uninterested.

That isn’t what this post is about.

There’s a woman at work whom I find difficult. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m ultra-shy, too quiet, a bit ADD, slightly aspie or just because something about me turns folk off, but I find lots of people difficult. Those who are too loud, those who just talk about themselves constantly, those who blatantly believe themselves to be superior – to the extent that they’re patronisingly blunt, those who just won’t let me sit in peace on the bus … *sigh* … It isn’t that I don’t try. I can tune out the loud people, switch off and nod in appropriate places when talking to the narcissists, ignore the superior bits of the superior people and smile unengageingly at the passengers who want to indulge in small-talk on the bus.

Heavens! Whilst at work I can engage pleasantly with students whom I wouldn’t necessarily want to meet in a dark alley; it isn’t as though I don’t know how to get on with folk, even if I have to pretend. I’m a good actress, although if I genuinely like you it is probably very apparent (and I do genuinely like lots of different people). But I find it nearly impossible to even pretend when I’m around this woman. Every smile I give her feels like a grimace, every conversation feels forced and when I walk into the staffroom I hope she’s not there.

I have realised why I find her so difficult … she is me. Or I am her. We’re just too similar. It was really drummed home when I discovered that her teenage son has my favourite (unpopular and uncommon) name for a baby-boy (may I one day be blessed).

Which just sounds pretty stupid when it’s black on white instead of in my head.


As of Monday I can now say, ‘Hello!‘ in Russian. I have, of course, forgotten the word already though.

the pay may be pants, but …

This week I’ve sat in a recording studio whilst media students have recorded their radio scripts, partaken of a twenty minute cheerobics session during a health and social care lesson about healthy lifestyles, enjoyed listening to some performing arts students singing their little hearts out in rehearsals (instead of having to listen to them grumble about the written work they usually have to do with me) and had another member of staff gush longingly in the direction of my DM boots.

I even managed to coax a smile – AND some work – out of a disillusioned eighteen year old art student who thinks the whole wide world is out to get him.

I’m really loving my new job.

first impressions

It was a bit of a shock to discover that a world exists before 6am. Voluntary redundancy in the summer, with no position to go to due to scheduled major surgery and a need for recovery, means that I’ve had a whopping five months (+ a little bit) of getting up at a time to suit me, with the sole intention of doing things just to please me (visits to benefits office are not included in the ‘please me’ list of activities.)

I feel a trifle odd right now; I should be in work, working. I shouldn’t, of course. I’m only part-time and only working MTW (< that’s a throwback to haemoD days) but I feel as though I’m being naughty by not going into work.

It is a HUGE place. It takes me five minutes just to walk from the main reception area to the shared desk in the departmental staff-room. For someone who is used to being able to chase teenagers around a whole building in a matter of seconds, this is an amazingly awe-inspiring thing. The novelty will wear off, I’m sure.

My role is a supportive one, and I’m going to have to get my head round that because I’m used to being a bit more proactive and taking on a bit more responsibility in my past positions. I’m part of the support team which covers the entire college, but I’m also working within two separate departments so I feel as though I have three hats, which is likely to give me a headache.

My colleagues are friendly and approachable, although it’s clear from the training day that there are ripples amongst and between certain folk. I thought that Further Education might be hugely different to working in the KS4 PRU but actually, it isn’t. Lessons are slightly more relaxed, but the nature of the students is very much the same. They are still bolshy, still needy and still wanting to get away with doing as little work as possible! They are slightly taller, but it seems that between leaving school at the age of 16 and starting FE college three months later very little actually changes, mentally. And to be fair, those students who are 18 or 19 still tend to act like the 16 year olds.

It makes them seem so very young! I must be getting old.

Good Thing/s: Student who said thank you for the support I gave him; student who said, Hello katieF! In the corridor when I’d never even spoken to him before (I’d been introduced to the whole class a couple of hours earlier); finishing early on a Wednesday!

Bad Thing/s: Boring lessons; student who got irked with me; the paperwork.

I *think* I’m going to like it.

better than i think i am

As a socially-inept person I absolutely detest interviews. However, it appears that being dosed up on strong painkillers can be good for you.

Fifteen days after donating my kidney to my husband I went for an interview. My Mummy had to take me because of my discomfort/pain, so I felt a bit like a child. I felt that the interview was pants. I admitted that I didn’t have a clue about one of the questions they asked (about the equality and diversity act) but managed to come up with an answer for it anyway. I thought I came across as quite flustered. They must surely have thought that I wasn’t interested in the position because I didn’t want a tour of the vast facilities (I did explain why). My interview only took half as long as the chap before me!

So you can imagine my surprise when they phoned this morning, one day later, to offer me the job. Apparently the interview went very well and they were impressed with my honesty. Mummy says that I looked really nice too, so that probably helped!


I start after Christmas. In effect it’s just a TA position, but it’s with post-16 year olds instead of secondary age students. It’s less hours and thus less money than I’m used to, but there will be the opportunity to advance and rise.

And hey, it’s a job in a world where jobs can be somewhat competitive to actually get into so I’m not going to grumble. Not to mention that when I saw the position advertised the first thought that came into my head was,’ Oooh, I want that!’

Who’s a Happy Bunny then?


This week I became a government statistic.  I wasn’t planning on becoming a government statistic; indeed, I was of the opinion that this wasn’t an option open to me (after all, I have a Blokey who earns a wage and can provide for me.)  However, apparently it has something to do with being a Good Girl and working hard, paying my taxes and the like so I’m entitled to contributions based JSA for a grand total of six months.

Who am I to grumble about an extra bit of dosh though?

It feels a trifle odd to not be working.  It was all fine and dandy whilst I could pretend I was just enjoying the long summer holidays, but then there came a morning when the playful screams of school-age children suddenly stopped at eight-thirty and didn’t begin again until after three.  That was when I knew I should be back at work.  But instead, I’m at home.

(Just to digress, I’m wondering if I should be informing the Geek in my life that my monitor occasionally goes black …)

Home is nice.  It has Wii Dance/Zuma and Buffy on SyFy.  I can eat when I want, wee when I want and drink coffee when I want.  I fill my days with walks and cleaning and bed-changing and FB and freebie hunting and hoovering and laundry and pussy-teasing and … I’m not bored.  Not exactly.  I can always find something to do.  Sometimes I can even venture further afield than FlatHickTown and meet people for lunch and gossip-y times.  My weekends are filled with football matches (I only go so that I can stand behind the goal and oggle the goalkeeper’s bum) and the cinema, or curling up with Blokey and catching up on tellybox shows.  We might even venture to the pub for lunch.


In thirty-three days my life will change.  I will lose a kidney and Blokey will gain a life.  A few weeks later I’ll be ready to return to work.  And I’m not entirely sure what I want that work to be.  I was in a card shop earlier in the week and I thought, Yep, I could do this.  I’ve done it before, after all.  Easy work; non-challenging, non-confrontational, nothing to take home.  I know that my heart isn’t in teaching anymore, but I’ll gladly return to education as a TA.  I can do that. I was brilliant at that.  I’m not entirely sure why I never received a prize … Or maybe now is the time to test my capabilities, step out of my comfort zone and attempt something I’ve never had any inclination to do before.  As long as it doesn’t involve phones I should be able to manage most things.

At the moment I’m just happy to keep plodding along, enjoying the solitariness of not working, gaining confidence by striking up conversations with random strangers in random places and just letting the world rush on by.

Occasionally I might even let a giant spider race towards me without feeling the need to squish it beneath my DMs.  Because I’m nice like that.


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