August felt like a return to normality, as I’ve felt able to socialise with large groups again. It’s a strange time, as it’s hard to tell what I should be doing to protect myself. Cases are high and rising, vaccination effectiveness is fading, and the government has not said anything about how things proceed in the long-term. Being the only person in a supermarket wearing a mask has felt weird. But, while I’m still resolved to avoid coronavirus, I’m also reluctant to keep my life in suspension forever.
This month saw a fair bit of travelling. I visited Brighton twice – once to see Tom, the other time for a hike with Emma. Hiking with Emma was part of her MA, so the walk was written up in her research blog. I also visited Norwich, where we celebrated Rosy’s daughter leaving home (such emotion!) and ate some great meals. I spent some time in Hebden Bridge (Hepstonstall, actually), where I learned a valuable lesson about not trusting Calder Valley weather. I visited the offices of my new employer, Mindera, and loved meeting my colleagues in person. There was even a bit of camping in a field near where I’m living, and the Blame Blake event in Sheffield on Bank Holiday Monday. That’s a lot of travelling.
I continue to feel like I’m struggling with the new job, although the feedback I’ve had has been excellent. I’ve never had such a slow ramp-up to the point where I feel I’m contributing to a project with my full ability. I do love working on a mature microservice set-up – although I also feel a little awed by how much work it has taken the client to reach that point. Successful cloud architectures are not easy.
I’m continuing to write, and focussing on sending things out. I’ve had a small piece, Alex and the Face, published in Microfiction Monday and there are seven other stories out for submission. I’ve decided that writing should be at least as much fun as playing video games, and will let that idea guide what I work on from now on.
Other than the hike with Emma, I’ve mainly been keeping to my regular daily walks. My total for the month is 407,230 steps, with a daily maximum of 33,634 (thanks, Emma!) and an average of 13,136 steps (compared with 11,342 in July and 10,766 in April 2020’s lockdown).
I finished six books – highlights were Heroic Failures and CJ Stone’s Fierce Dancing, which was a great portrait of a lost culture. The Final Girl Support Group was a brisk read, which was great, but it wasn’t quite the book I’d hoped for. I wanted more revisionist slasher fiction (like the first series of the Nailbiter comics) but the novel was somewhat overwhelmed by the plot.
I watched very little TV, slowly making my way through Pose. I did watch the movie Pig, which was a wonderfully weird film about food culture, featuring an understated performance from Nicholas Cage. Music-wise, there were long-awaited releases from Kanye West and Lorde, both of which I’m finding hard to get into. The Lorde album feels a little too dreamy, possibly due to sharing a producer with Lana Del Rey.
Quitting caffeine last month was a successful experiment. I am sleeping better and less tired during the day than usual. It’s not cured my headaches, but they have been less frequent and less severe, so that is a definite win.
I’ve been replaying The Last of Us Part 2, this time on a harder difficulty level. I’m definitely better at it than I was the first time round, but it feels like a dumb way to spend my time. Video games are compulsive and gripping, but developing skills in them feels kind of pointless. I have considered getting a new game, but can’t see anything that won’t just devolve into repetition. As I said above, I’d rather focus on the sort of writing that is more interesting than games.
Overall, August felt pretty good. Now, with Summer coming towards an end, it’s time to start planning my next move.If you want to follow what I'm up to, sign up to my mailing list