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No, Really, Need to Work

I can’t believe I forgot to do my review on Friday. I fully intended to. I’d read an amazing book, and had written part of my review out (in my head, at least) already. Then it came to Friday, and… I don’t even think I was that busy, so much as it just didn’t really end up happening. Although, I do think that I did have a few things on.

Realistically though, the main reason I didn’t write it up and post it is the same reason it’s taken me until almost 7pm today to start my blog, despite trying to prod myself most of the day to do it. I am not doing so well right now.

I mentioned last week how I really want a job. It’s not even just want. I need a job. Not just for the money. Though the money would be great. I don’t know how many of you have ever had to live off of Centrelink, but for your sake, I hope it was long enough ago that the allowance was at least livable. It’s funny how the government’s always happy to increase costs and prices and taxes, but they’re not happy to raise things like wages and pensions. Let’s be realistic, we’re not asking for that much. All we’re really asking for is enough to be able to live off of. Centrelink isn’t the reason for this blog, however.

I am… Not doing so great at the moment. And there are quite a lot of things that are contributing to this, of course, but let’s break it down, shall we?

– I’ve been ignoring my 8am alarm, to instead sleep through and wake up randomly throughout the day. This could be 9am, 10am, 11am… The other day it was a little after midday. If I don’t have anything to do on a day, there’s no reason for me to get up. So, instead of getting up, I lie in bed, and try to go back to sleep. Getting to sleep, and getting back to sleep, are quite hard tasks for me. For the most part, this is just me being awake, and not acknowledging it until I give up.

Having a job would give me something to do on a day. It would give me a reason to wake up of a morning. Even those mornings where I didn’t have to work, I’d feel inspired to get out of bed to spend time with my friends, to relax, to do the fun things that I’m not really finding fun right now because it’s all I can do.

– I barely leave the house. To be fair, having a job will (for the most part) only increase the time I’m out of the house to the time I’m working. That being said, having more money will likely also increase the amount of things I can do with friends, and further increase the time I don’t spend at home.

– My room is a mess. Okay, so this isn’t exactly something that having a job would fix. At least, not directly. The main reason my room is a mess is because I’m a mess. If I start getting better, I’ll be more inspired to keep my room tidy(ish) and organised. Then there’s the other thing which I’ll get to in a moment which would also be beneficial in this regard about getting a job.

– My Grandad (whom I live with) drives me crazy. I love him. I don’t know what I’d do without him in my life. But spending every day with him, he can get on my nerves. It won’t be immediate, but when I get a job I’ll be able to afford to move out. (At the moment I’m missing the whole bond, and first month’s rent thing that most places ask for, so it’s more or less impossible.)

Now, if I got my own place, or at least found a place with a friend/some friends or some new housemates, there are quite a few things that would change. I wouldn’t feel like I can barely leave my room. Another big thing would be that my room would be bigger. Calling the room I spend 99% of my time in at the moment a shoe box would be an insult to larger shoe boxes.

I’d also be able to interact with more people. Anyone I happen to move in with, and of course anyone I’d be working with. If you’ve ever spent too much time with one person, you’ll know how exciting it can be to spend time with someone different.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that having a job is a lot of work. I know that in my current mental state, it’s going to take a lot to get through things. That being said, having a reason to get out of bed will be a big improvement. Getting out of the house will be an improvement. Other things, I’ll be able to work on. I just need someone to give me a start, so I can start my recovery.

Blog Posts

Need to Work

I would very much like a job. I really would. I would like to have something to do with my time. That’s one of the things about depression, or at least with my depression. Not having something to do makes it worse. Holidays are something entirely different. Not having to do something is entirely different to not having something to do. Isn’t it funny how a simple rearrangement of words can change the meaning entirely?

Depression and anxiety are things that affect different people differently. In one of my recent blogs I talked about how everyone should take advice with a grain of salt. What works great for someone else won’t necessarily work well for them. And I cannot stress enough how important that is to keep in mind. I am not currently seeing a psych, and one of my main reasons for that is that I haven’t found the right one for me yet. The ones I have found have mostly tried me on CBT. Cognitive Behavioural Treatment is one of the big trends in psychology at the moment. It’s hardly the be all and end all, and it’s definitely not for me.

A lot of CBT is about recognising your behaviour, and trying to change it, or change how you see it. Maybe if I weren’t already hyper aware about every little thing I do, it might have helped me? Or maybe I just don’t have the right mindset to get behind it. Either way, it hasn’t worked for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell people not to try it. (Nor will I say that if you haven’t already tried it you should definitely try it. It’s not for everyone, and you should seriously take some time to think about whether or not it’s right for you, or you think it might be beneficial to you, before you try it or not.)

I’m already rambling and getting off track. It’s a good thing I’m currently trying to keep this as a personal opinion and experience blog rather than something overly political or professional. I mean, hey, maybe if I upped my game and made really professional posts I could woo in potential employers. Well, unlikely with my meagre reach, although perhaps people might be more inclined to share it.

Though, again, not what I’m trying to get at. Which goes to show how bad my mental state is at the moment. I’m an absolute mess. Why? Because trying to find employment is incredibly stressful and depressing.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got restrictions. There are some things that I know I just won’t be able to do, thanks to my anxiety limiting me. I could never work in retail, for one, when I know just how stressful those jobs can be. Nor could I do something with high KPI requirements, or that’s extremely commission based. There are other people out there who can take on those jobs, who won’t burst into tears at a raised voice when someone isn’t 100% happy and decides to take it out on a retail worker. Someone who won’t panic and feel their throat closing up when they realise they need to make ten more sales in order to just keep their job. Who won’t spend their break picking at their skin, their nails, or pulling their hair, because they’re just not sure that they’re doing well enough that week to make rent.

There are jobs out there that I know I could do. I would like to think that I’m a great writer. I’m quite a good communicator. I’m a very pleasant person. As much as I’d be incredibly nervous to go to an interview right now, I’d love at least that chance to put myself forward, to prove to employers that I can do what they’re asking. That I’m capable, and a quick learner, and that it wouldn’t take much for me to be able to fit in to almost any work place.

Instead I am just applying for jobs, left right and centre, and finding myself sick to the stomach every time I get a new email from Seek telling me that my application with such and such a company won’t progress. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s no reason for the companies to tell me why my application won’t progress. They don’t need to take time out of their day to tell me that I’m the most inexperienced candidate they had, that they just weren’t quite sure about me from my resume, that they felt I might be bored in the role with my qualification.

I mean, I can hardly expect them to. What Seek does offer, are some insights to the jobs I applied for. It shows me how many people applied, how many attached a resume, and how many attached a cover letter.

I’m one of those who attaches both. I try to tailor my cover letter, because I genuinely want every job I apply for. I don’t see the point in applying for one that I’m not interested in. I know many people (particularly those who fill the 1% who don’t attach resumes, or the larger 20~% who don’t attach cover letters) are only applying for those jobs because they have to. I am not one of those. I want employment. I want to work. To do something with my life. I don’t want to just skate by on Centrelink. Even if I didn’t want to have something to do with my time, I would want work for nothing more than to be able to have some actual money that I could spend.

So, I look through my emails, and I see: 205 people applied. 115 matched all the employers requirements. (I did not, because I had no experience in such a role). 844 applied. 62% attached a cover letter. (No experience preference listed for which I was explicitly rejected.) 203 candidates applied. 65% attached cover letters. 175 people matched all the employer’s criteria. (I also matched their criteria. No rejection for lack of experience here. At least, not explicitly.)

23 candidates applied for the role. Only 6 matched the employers criteria. I did not, because I have no experience in the publishing industry, and apparently didn’t hit their “magic number” for salary expectation. (Is it bad that I honestly have no idea what to expect? At this point, I don’t care. Pay me enough for me to have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, food for myself and my cat, with enough left over to pay bills. I haven’t had a job before, “salary” means very little to me.)

The most positive response I’ve had recently unfortunately ended up being something that was just impossible for me to achieve at the moment. I got through the first few tests to be a captioner with a company, only to reach the hurdle of the interview. I would have loved to attend, if only I would be able to get to Melbourne by the morning of two days after I was told I had the interview. Getting a flight to Melbourne would have been doable (barely). Accommodation when I got there on such short notice? A fair bit less so. Long term accommodation should I have done well in the interview and gotten the job? Doable, but fiddly on, again, such short notice. Flight back up if I didn’t do so well in the interview? Not so doable. I had to think long and hard about it on Monday when I found out I had gotten the interview. It would have been a great opportunity that I would have loved to go for. Unfortunately, given I currently have a grand total of $300 in my savings, because for those of you who aren’t aware, it is very hard to save when you’re on Centrelink, it wasn’t really worth going down for the interview. Given I couldn’t do it over the phone for whatever reason (I asked, they said they had something that “had to be done in person”) and I would have been reliant on the interview working out to make it possible for me to even temporarily move down to Melbourne, I had to turn it down.

So, yes, I’m not in the best of headspaces right now. Each rejection hurts, and given I have to keep applying for jobs, both to keep being paid by Centrelink, and to potentially get hired by one of the many jobs I’m applying for, I am not likely to be in a good headspace any time soon. I wanted to look into more of the factors that make it really hard for people to get jobs, but this ended up being a very rambling and personal story. It did however get across one of the points that I wanted to make, which is just how many people are applying for jobs. With companies being overwhelmed by so many applications, it’s inevitable that a lot of people have to lose out. It just hurts that I don’t even make it as far as getting to sell myself in person with an interview. That, and not getting feedback really brings me down. I try to put my best self forward, only to be turned down without explanation. Of course, I can hardly blame companies like the one that likely rejected hundreds of applicants and weeded down to a couple of dozen of the most qualified for the interview process. Just because I can’t blame them doesn’t mean it helps my mental state, however.

Books Books

Girls of Paper and Fire

Like the vast majority of my book purchases, I came across Girls of Paper and Fire in QBD when I was randomly looking through the YA section for anything that might happen to take my fancy. The title and the cover drew me in, then I was sold when I read the blurb. Due to some enthusiasm on my part, as well as understanding, this review does contain a couple of minor spoilers. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, I recommend you read the book first.

Is it just me or is the whole “Royal Male Figure” gets what’s basically a harem a popular genre at the moment? Okay, it might just be me. But then, there’s The Selection series, which has the Prince in what’s essentially a The Bachelor situation, picking from a… well, a selection of pretty girls. Then there was Grace and Fury, a fantastic book that came in one of my OwlCrates (before I had to give it up ;_;) where the ruler, or in this case his heir, had a similar selection from a bunch of girls preened and polished to take on the role, to select three women for his wives/consorts. Then Girls of Paper and Fire… Okay, yeah, sure, it’s no Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Evernight, House of Night, Cirque Du Freak, etc. Vampire craze, but maybe I’m not crazy in seeing a pattern here.

Beyond the blurb, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Girls of Paper and Fire when I first opened it up. Until I read the Author’s Note at the beginning. That Author’s Note made me desperately want to find Natasha Ngan and give her the biggest hug I could (if she wanted one).

I am so thankful for the existence of this book, and that it was apparently in one of the latest OwlCrate editions. (Sad I missed out on it through them, though it’s even more evidence that the OwlCrate people and I have a shared excellent taste!)

Ngan wrote this book because she knows that everyone deserves to have their story told. That’s how a gay Malaysian girl who had to deal with rape and abuse came to have her story told. (I am talking about Lei. I have no idea if Ngan is gay and has had to deal with rape and abuse, though all the more reason to hug her if she has.)

Lei was a wonderful character who I found myself feeling deeply for very quickly. Smart and strong, I found my heart breaking at her situation, even more so when we got to further know Wren, and Wren’s situation.

The world was immersive. I found myself vividly picturing the Moon and Steel caste walking around. From bird demons to wolf demons, and the bull Demon King, I could easily envision them as a part of the world, looking down on mere humans for not having the same abilities as them.

The story was absolutely stunning. I was cheering for Lei as she stood up against oppression every chance she got, and found myself saddened when she was kicked back down by those who are on top. The love story had me cheering (in so many ways. I cannot stress enough how much seeing a gay love story happen without very clear signposting on the book makes me happy.)

The characters were truly wonderful. From Lei, who stood up when she could, to the spoiled Bull King who played with his toys. Of course there’s Wren, strong, determined Wren. But mostly I found myself loving Ngan’s depiction of Aoki, if for no other reason than the truthful depiction of how not everyone who’s abused sees it that way. They can often overlook the bad times and think of the good. That, and her being the youngest of the girls being the one to see the King as kind makes the most sense, as when we’re younger we’re more eager to look for love in the wrong places, and see the tiniest things as signs of something better.

I cannot possibly recommend this book enough. It enraptured me, and as a lover of diversity in YA I want to throw it at as many people as possible to make them read it. That being said, it does deal with some very heavy topics, particularly rape and abuse, and I can understand that not everyone can handle such things. If you are one of those who can handle it, I highly recommend Girls of Paper and Fire, and I hope you find yourself as drawn in to Ngan’s world as I was.

I will most certainly be reading this again at some stage. Likely before the next one comes out. (If there’s not going to be a next one, I will protest quite vigorously!)

Blog Posts

The Best a Man Can Get

I’m hardly the first person on the internet to talk about the Gillette commercial. It seems to be quite a popular topic at the moment, and for good reason. As far as commercials go, it’s quite a weighty one, and it has a message to send the world that stands out far stronger than simply asking people to buy their product.

Now, there’s quite a lot to unpack in this commercial, so I’ll start from the beginning.

Bullying.

The “Me Too” movement.

Sexual harassment

Toxic masculinity.

“Is this the best a man can get?”

The commercial starts with buzz words that are incredibly topical for the world at the moment. These are all big problems that people face in the world today.

I was bullied throughout most of my school life. Halfway through grade 2, I moved schools because I was being bullied. It was stupid stuff. It always is in primary school. All because my last name was McDougall and I was chubby. I remember they called me “Marlee McDonalds.” So creative, I know. That didn’t mean that it didn’t have an effect on me.

Being bullied is hard. Particularly when you’re young. You don’t know why it’s happening to you, and you have no methods to deal with it. It can be hard to talk about it to other people, be it older kids, parents, or teachers. And when it’s over something as silly as that? There’s not much a teacher can do. “Stop calling each other names.” But there wasn’t much in the way of reinforcement. Not when I went to primary school. Just telling me to ignore the people who called me that.

I don’t remember much bullying happening in my second school. I don’t remember much about that school at all, really, except that I would frequent the library. Already I would retreat into books to escape what felt like an unfair reality. No bullying, perhaps, but I didn’t exactly make any wonderful life long friends that I can remember. I was already isolating myself from other people even that young.

My third school I remember a bit more clearly, and there was more bullying here. It’s never helpful being the new kid at school. It also didn’t help that I was the new kid who frequented the library and made friends with teachers. I did manage to make some good life long friends at this school. Though I can vividly remember one incident where a friend of mine was being bullied because she was my friend. Student council elections were coming up, and one of my friends was going up against one of the “popular” girls (a bully, with her bully friends). The other candidate made sure to point out that she was friends with me, and that therefore the other students shouldn’t vote for her. Of course, this was all on the playground, out of teachers’ earshot.

Although I wasn’t aware of it then, I know now that even in primary school I had anxiety. There was one time when a particularly antagonistic girl was annoying me in class, and I gave up trying to ignore her and confronted her instead. The teacher saw this, and sent the girl to see the principal. When she came back, she told me that the principal wanted to see me after school.

So, dutifully, I sat outside waiting to see the principal after school. I knew that my Mum would be coming to pick me up that day, so at least I didn’t have to worry that I was missing the bus. But as I sat there, wondering why I was in trouble, and how much trouble I was going to be in, I started to panic, and it was quite a while later when another teacher saw me waiting there, crying. She asked me what the problem was, and went in to see the Principal for me, only to come out and tell me that the Principal had never wanted to see me in the first place. Stupid, and petty, I know. Childish, would be the word for it. And when you’re a child, even silly little things like that can have a big impact.

High school didn’t exactly lessen the bullying. I went to the same high school as most of the people from my third primary school. I managed to make a few more good friends there at least, and I managed to find myself slightly more equipped to deal with things by this point. Of course, by this point, I’d been bullied for so long that I just ignored it. There was never anything physical, or anything too bad. It was all still so childish and stupid. What would the teachers care if such and such called me fat?

The “Me Too” movement and sexual harassment can come under the same banner for the most part. I know so many people who have their “Me Too” stories. I even have some of my own. My own may not be as bad as many other people’s, but they’re still there. Some of these stories are big. I have friends who have been raped, or otherwise sexually harassed. Others may seem smaller, people not accepting “no” for an answer so easily. People taking advantage of younger people because they don’t know better. People pushing others into things even though they’re uncertain about it.

I say people here for a reason. Girls aren’t the only ones with “Me Too” stories. Just as boys aren’t the only ones who bully. Though, that’s neither the purpose of the ad, nor my blog.

Toxic masculinity. The best example I can come up with for this are those who are reacting negatively to the commercial. It’s much like the “Boys will be boys.” It’s a mentality that has been drilled into us. A boy pulls on a girls hair because he likes her. A man who is weak is “girlish”. A man can’t get a manicure or a pedicure. Real men don’t cry.

One of the most poignant comments I’ve seen about the commercial is how men are reacting poorly to being told to act in a certain way, when that’s almost all women’s commercials ever do. We’re told we can’t have body hair, or that we can’t be too fat or too thin. If we don’t show off our bodies something’s wrong with us, but if we do we’re whores. That’s just what toxic masculinity is, too though. Men are told how they have to act. They have to stand tall, and be strong. They need to be smarter and stronger than girls. The biggest insult to them is to be called a girl.

Personally, I think the commercial is brilliant. It’s making a stand. It’s stating that Gillette is firmly against bullying, sexual harassment, and toxic masculinity. The commercial isn’t demanding that men stop being who they are. All it’s asking is that they understand that the world is progressing forward, and that people (in this case men) aught to do so also. It challenges men to be “The Best a Man Can Get” by breaking the habits that have been formed over so many generations. By standing up for what’s right, and against something you know to be wrong.

Something so many people don’t seem to understand is that the ad isn’t calling men bad. It’s simply stating that these are problems that exist in the world. It’s not saying that all men bully, and rape, and are involved in the spread of toxic masculinity. What it is saying is that Gillette doesn’t support that. It’s saying that standing by when you see something not right, and allowing it to continue, is also wrong.

No, men aren’t the only problem. Nor is it saying that all men are part of the problem. But every small intervention can help.

Books Books

Spellcaster Review

When I started reading Two Dark Reigns on Wednesday, I assumed that I would be giving my review for that series today. However, as I got closer to the end of the novel, it became increasingly clear to me that this would not be the case. It’s fine, I managed to be quite composed when I finished the novel, and didn’t throw it at the wall when I realised that the series wasn’t quite over yet. Dangit Kendare Blake!

So, I won’t be reviewing that series today, because the series has not yet finished, and with the exception of newly released novels I’m trying to stick to reviewing finished series. Well, newly released novels, and Indie novels I suppose. Instead of reviewing the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake today, that will wait until sometime next year, when I manage to get my hands on the next (and hopefully final) book. Well, I wouldn’t be unhappy if it weren’t the end of the series. I’d actually be quite happy in some ways, because I do really enjoy the world and the series. That being said, I’m now stuck with that annoying feeling of waiting for the next book in an amazing series. It always seems to take forever.

Instead, today I’ll be reviewing the Spellcaster series, by Claudia Gray. I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked up the first book in this series. All I knew was that it was YA, and it had something to do with magic. I was sold enough on that.

I found the characters incredibly investing. Nadia was a compelling protagonist, Mateo was an interesting and sympathetic romantic interest. Elizabeth was an outstanding villain. Then there was my favourite character, the lovely dynamic Verlaine. It would be safe to say that Verlaine utterly captured my heart. Mateo was cool and all, but Verlaine stole the show for me when it came to characters.

As interesting as the characters were, I would have to say it was the magic system which really drew me deep into my love for this series. Instead of the typical wands and magic spells, or chanting and using will, each “spell” was crafted by using the spellcaster’s memories. This method of spellcasting absolutely floored me.

The story itself was also quite interesting, and again, the world and magic system were absolutely stunning. I will most definitely be recommending this book to lovers of YA, romance, urban fantasy, and anyone who has any interest in interesting magic systems.

It’s also on my to be read again pile. When I make it through my to be read for the first time pile. <_< I’ll get there.