Because nothing is forever

The summer is going past at breathtaking speed. I am feeling overwhelmed by all the changes going on in my life right now, and struggling to keep track of it all. I want to sit down and write but I don’t even know where to begin,and then the next thing happens, and the next.

I went to my new city again, and this time I was successful in finding a place to live there. I saw a flat I liked and was already so done with house searching, that I asked to apply for it right then and there, and was allowed to do so. A few weeks of paperwork and sorting out references (and much more time spent on the phone than I really feel comfortable with) I have a flat to live in. Its a first floor apartment, two bedrooms, set in communal gardens, in a nice area of the city, in a quiet development surrounded by other flats that all look exactly the same, but white washed walls with red details and well maintained gardens means its attractive. Its close to a main road so I should be able to get the city center and work without any trouble. The flat has plenty of windows to let in the light and there is a full sized kitchen, and thus a full sized fridge which means I will finally have a freezer.(My old house did not and life without being able to freeze meals or have frozen vegetables was possible, but annoying.) There are wooden floors in most of the room and a built in cupboard in the bedroom (I love built in cupboards – my room in my parents house and my uni house both had them, coincidentally, so I am glad to carry on the trend.) It was love at first sight, and I am a bit worried that the flat harbors some terrible secret I didn’t catch during that brief viewing – perhaps a really loud neighbor, a mold problem, especially cold and drafty in the winter, large windows but no light. I am very nervous about it. But also very excited to have my own place, having started to really panic about how terrible house hunting was going and beginning to resign myself to settle for a house that wasn’t quite right or deal with a house share for a while. But no, I will be living on my own in a really nice place. I will have my own space, and I do have a lot of furniture, but I’ve already got plans to take my artwork and hang it up, to bring my CDs and Hi-Fi, to buy a really nice bookcase, to really make it into my home in a way that my old place was not quite. As settled as I felt in my last house, it was always a temporary place and I lived in it on a student budget. Now I look at this place as somewhere more permanent to settle down in, to make my own …with the help of a salary. ;)

I have been living with my parents these past few weeks. My father came to pick me up from my old city with a ridiculously large van, in which my entire house was packed up into, then there was a mass scramble to get the place clean before handing it over to the letting agents and driving away. Just like that, I left behind what had been my life. Well, packing was terrible and I left it all too late so I’m sure I’ll never find anything again, and my father was angry for me not having packed, and angry because my house was untidy. Meanwhile, I was stressed and overwhelmed by packing, and reacting to him, so actually it wasn’t pleasant, and it was a long two days to get it all done. But it got done and my full deposit on my old house is being returned, so it must have been done well despite being so last minute.

Living with my parents hasn’t been too bad, a little stifling as to be expected, but also nice not having to worry as much about bills and chores and food. There are other people to share the burden with. I am enjoying lazying around and eating in excess, because there is always food here.

I am also not looking forward to moving to a new city and starting work. Panicking is putting it mildly. I am desperately trying to ignore the passing days and how the time between then and now is narrowing so quickly.

Learning to drive is not going well and my test is next week, but I am resigned to not passing it and having to put up with public transport for a longer while. I can get the bus to work, well two buses, and it will take an hour, but I have commuted for an hour and a half before, I remind myself, and was always on time then, so I can do it. I can do it and am fine with it. But my parents are expecting me to pass first time and that I cannot handle.

As a belated birthday trip, my sister took me to the aquarium which was as fun as ever, and then we went shopping. I think we shopped from about 2pm until 8pm. We were absolutely on a mission to find nice work clothes, the both of us, as well as a few other things. Powered by a delicious lunch of American Diner Food (Hotdogs/burgers/fries/shakes) we shopped and shopped and burned through crazy amounts of money. I now have a killer work wardrobe, even if I say so myself. My sister guided me as to what looked good and was appropriate both for work and for my age. I thus now have two skirts, a handful of dresses, nice shirts and tops, and a couple of pairs of pants for work. All of it in materials I can handle or loose enough to utilize cotton camisoles and slip dresses underneath. (I am allergic to polyester and most synthetics, which usually makes shopping hard, but as it turns out when you have the money, and you take the time to really hunt through the shops, it is possible to build a work wardrobe around this issue.)

I also bought perfume for the first time. My mom says its the grown up thing to do, to wear a light, subtle scent. It’s so strange, wearing those clothes, doing my makeup just so, putting on perfume. It doesn’t feel like me. But this is how I want to present myself. No, I need to present myself well in my new role. I need to look put together and professional. I know that. Its just so strange.

My mother and I took the cat to the vet the other day, and it was uncertain whether it was the cat or myself who was the most anxious. I took the cat and put her in her cage and sat with her in the car, and she protested the entire time. Sitting in the vets, she continued to protest loudly. (At least we were the only ones in the vet, and there were no dogs) She was good during the appointment though. And she was healthy – apart from a flea problem, and the fact that she has lost 1/4 of her body weight. This shocked us. She has also changed color. This surprised the vet.

Our cat came to us from a friend of my mothers, who had kept the cat indoors mostly. When she came to us, she was a black cat, a little plump, very shy and scared of men in particular (or maybe just my father, who is very big and very tall), wouldn’t go outside at all. When we installed a cat flap for her we had to work hard to coax her outdoors. Now, this summer, we have hardly seen her. She comes in to eat, but spends her days outdoors. She is confident, no longer scared of men (she loves my father). She is playful and friendly when she feels like it. She has thinned down and her coat has turned what we call a coca-cola color – dark red, turning redder or even orange in bright light, still just about black in the dark. Sometimes it feels like we’ve ended up with a changeling cat, a creature entirely different from what we originally had. We love her to death, but she is constantly surprising us with her growth.

“Does the sky look the same where you are?”

sky at dusk9
This picture was taken on my way home from the local shops. I walk through a park over which there are always spectacular sky views and sun set views. I stood and watched the sky for a long time, thinking about how familiar my area is. How settled I feel. How familiar everything is, really, and how soon I’m going to have to give it all up. Leave my current life and patterns behind, pack up and leave to start a completely different life in a new city.

I’ve started packing , just a little. The little stuff that doesn’t make much of a difference- its when the furniture goes that it will really sink in I think.

Today I went to the university library and my card was rejected. For so many years that library has almost been a second home. In first year I’d go there almost every night to escape the noise of halls. In third and final years it would still be my preferred place to study. I liked to get a seat by the window, looking out at the pretty campus grounds, the outline of the city in the distance. Today was probably the last time I’ll go there.

I have my last driving lesson with my current instructor next week. Unfortunately my test has had to be pushed back so I’m not done with learning to drive yet, except I am with this instructor and this city. I dislike driving in the latter, but I like the former. She has shown incredible patience and understanding in regards to my anxiety and nervousness about driving. We have talked about so many things. I have even cried in front of her. I trust her and don’t want a new instructor. I feel angry at myself for not being ready for the test in time and for having to have it pushed back.

On the 27th July I have my last Japanese lesson with my current teacher and class mates. I often found Japanese stress full, trying to fit it in with my uni work. But my teacher is lovely and my class mates are nice too. Japanese is often fun. We learn the language but our teacher, as a Japanese, often talks about her culture and Japan. I am hoping to continue studying Japanese, and I am hoping lessons will be just as good as these, but I will miss these. I have spent a lot of time with these people – in the class room, at our annual term end dinners. It feels so sad to have to part.

I will have my last appointment with my doctor soon. I would have never have had the courage to speak out about my worsening mental health if not for this doctor. I trust him completely. Both to treat my condition properly, but also to never patronise or make me feel like I’m wasting his time. He shows amazing understanding, and is always positive, and always explains things so clearly. I can’t believe I’ll ever find a doctor so good, especially when it comes to treating mental health.

I am comfortable in my house. I know the local takeaways that I like, I know all my local shops and what to expect of them, I know my local transport links. There are a couple of cats down a nearby road who always come to greet me on the way home, who I always pet. Just another little piece of my comfortable, quiet life here that I will miss. I am so very settled and at peace in this area, in my little house. I like it here so much. I knew when I first saw this place that I wanted to live here and worked hard to get my father to agree and now I have to leave.

My university IT account will close. My library account already has. My beautiful campus, huge and green, with amazing seasonal gardens, huge trees all over the place where there are always squirrels, the ugly engineering building, the lecture rooms, computer rooms, cafes and libraries I have spent three years of my life at. Even the familiarity of logging in to a uni computer- reading the news bulletin, the desktop screen. No more.

My university email account and all those messages will go too. I’ll not be able to log into the university online learning environment to download any notes and other learning materials I want. I just know I’m going to forget to download something that I may actually need in the future.

So many big and little things that have all formed my life for so long are now no longer a part of it, or will not be very soon.

I’m not sure if its healthy but I feel like a student had become an integral part of my identity. That the way I defined myself and my life, all my habits, were all formed around this. what now? A new city, a new house, new area to become familiar with, new japanese classes, new doctor, working, learning a new commute. Everything new and unfamiliar. What will be my lifeline? How will I cope?

Even when I moved to Malaysia, it was still the same campus, still a uni enivornment and I had my best friend with me to share the experience. Now I’m setting out alone, on a journey you can really only do alone- stepping into the adult world and trying to find my place in it.


I got my university results today. I did it! MEng Hons Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with a 2:1 classification. Which basically means I have met the qualifications demanded by my employer and can feel assured I will start working this September.

Or rather. I can start seriously freaking out over the fact I start working in September. Whilst waiting for results there was too much uncertainty , so I could push it to the back of my mind. Not anymore.

I am happy, relieved, and scared. And maybe just a tiny bit excited. After 5 years of hard work, of self doubt, of constantly waiting for things to fall apart… It’s over. And everything has come together just like I wanted. I am tempted to feel lucky, but its not luck and I don’t want to feel that it is. I worked for this, I really worked for this. I was determined and hard working and I stubbornly refused to give up. I need to keep that in mind as I must keep that attitude to my work. I must be prepared to keep working hard. I want to be an engineer, after all. I want to be a really great engineer.

I need to get to finding a place to live in my new city, studying up on power systems, and of course lots of shopping for my new business wardrobe.

OK, I’m pretty excited. Nervous and scared but filled with anticipation. I’m going to be a graduate electrical engineer!

Its Over

university Exams are over! University is over! I should be anxious over results and the job but although it’s there, sitting waiting at the back of my mind, right now I’m so relieved that nothing else matters.

I had my last exam on Thursday, my weakest subject and one I’m not sure I revised enough for. There has been a new lecturer this year and we were reassured it was going to be a similar exam paper, but it wasn’t. For starters, it was two hours instead of one and a half. That made me nervous as i was sitting at my seat waiting for the exam to start- why would it be longer? It could only mean it was more difficult, right? Right. Whereas the past papers had picked out a few topics from the syllabus to test on, this paper covered everything. Worse, just like that other paper I did, the questions followed on from one another, and no circuit topologies or little hints were given as in the past years. It was a mean paper, looking for ways to make you stumble. I did the best I could. What else could I do? Later that day I met with my moderator to discuss my project, and it was a little awkward and I’m not sure how well I did. Then I had to go home and rush to put together a presentation for Friday, which I had mostly made the slides for, but only had the vaguest idea of what I wanted to say and hadn’t rehearsed it. I ended up staying up until the small hours rehearsing, then I was so anxious I couldn’t fall asleep for hours, so I overslept and had to rush to make my presentation slot. The uni is quite strict about you being there to watch other people. They divided the final project presentations into four ~2+ hour slots with a handful of people presenting in each, and you have to attend at least two of the sessions. I went to the session on Thursday after my exam and before my meeting, simultaneously scaring myself and gaining ideas from it. So yeah, I arrived late on Friday for my slot, but it was OK as the presentations were alphabetical by surname and so I was second to last.

I was so nervous. When it came to my turn I rushed through the presentation, skipping out a lot of what I wanted to say, and fumbled over the questions asked of me. (Which, typically, I could answer perfectly as I was walking home) Then it was all over. I phoned my dad pretty much immediately, all giddy from relief, then I went home and vegged out in front of my PC, relishing in the feeling of having nothing to do.

Since then I’ve spent my weekend being disgustingly lazy- sleeping too much, spending too much time on my PC. But I’ve also been trying to eat better. I want to cut out chocolate from my life so I can be truly dairy free. And I want to get a hold of my disordered eating habits so I’m not binging on junk so often. I improved massively last year, then relapsed, and I want to get back on the road to recovery. Both for health and happiness, but also its not good financially. I drained my bank account these past couple of months with all my binge eating and even binge shopping (apparently, woman with disordered eating habits are prone to being bad with money and overspending. Although this hardly makes it better.) I want to take control of it before I start work. I’ve also been deep cleaning my house, a big post exam clean if you will. I only just keep up the bare minimum of chores over busy, stressful periods like exams. So I’m properly cleaning now. Taking care of all the small details. Throwing out loads of junk. Working through the masses of dirty dishes. It is tiring but it feels good. I don’t mean to sound too new agey, but it really feels like I’m cleansing the energy in my house.

I’ve still got a long way to go before I’ll be done. But that’s OK. I have the time after all. Little bits at a time. Meanwhile my sister is coming tomorrow as I’m getting graduation pictures taken and want her there, and I’m carrying on with my driving lessons, and I’m still shaky, but I think I am improving. I also ate pizza for the first time in years today, after finally working up the courage to go to a pizza place and ask for a cheese free pizza. The guy serving me was lovely about it, didn’t mind at all. It was good! Not scary as I had imagined, leaving me feeling silly for not acting sooner. The pizza was divine. Truly, I do miss hot, stringy cheese, but cheese free pizza is still better than no pizza. I compensated with loads of toppings, and the guy added more tomato paste for me and it was just…amazing.

Yeah I just wrote a paragraph about pizza. If you had gone as long as I without it, maybe you would too? Anyway, its nearly 3am and I have to get up at 8am tomorrow. Better try to sleep, even though I only woke up at midday. Even though I’m a little anxious about tomorrow.

“You never thought things would turn out like this, did you”

➔ My sister came down to visit me last Friday so we could go to the S Club 7 reunion concert. I know, how cool are we. ;) She drove down in the afternoon and then we took the bus into town – a long journey – followed by a long walk where I was amazed to discover a whole part of the city I’d never been to. My sister thankfully found this amusing. We made it to the venue OK – after a little lost detour- and there were tonnes of people there. Mostly female. Thankfully my sister held my hand and allowed me to follow her around like her child; I did not like the crowds. It made me feel anxious. Thankfully we had seats so we had our ‘space’. The opening act was OK, but the atmosphere changed remarkably once S Club 7 were announced. The stadium, that had been a little empty and with people coming in and out, was suddenly packed. Everyone stood up, everyone had their cameras out. The excitement was tangible.

It was an amazing show. I was nervous after watching the children in need performance, but they must have been training hard afterwards as they looked and sounded amazing. My sister and I joked about how unfair it is that they still all look so good. They performed all their hits and everyone was jumping around and singing… I was too young to be a really die hard fan, but it was cute seeing all these near 30 somethings jumping around and singing along perfectly. It was cute to see my sister like that. She, like most there, knew all the words. Some people even knew all the dance moves. It was really fun, and a much needed break from work. Afterwards, a long bus ride back and straight to bed. We slept in the next day, and although we had rough plans to go out and do something we just walked to the local town center and did a bit of shopping, before going to a pub for a meal and parting ways. It was a great weekend.

➔ I had my first exam on Monday, and my second exam yesterday. The first one went OK, with some good questions and some truly baffling ones. Nothing could have prepared me for how terribly the second went. Firstly, it was in a really weird location. The exam was at 4:30pm but I had to be on campus for 15:45 to catch the bus to the location: which meant I had a good 15 minutes surrounded by students buzzing with nerves, talking about exams and revision, and then a further 20 minutes hanging around at the exam hall. I really hate coming too early to exams; it does nothing for my anxiety to be surrounded by the energy of other students, to have to listen to them fretting, to see their revision notes etc. when I’ve got my own mind and its criticism to deal with. There was no other bus to take though. Then the exam started and the paper was terrible and it was one of those exams where all the questions are compulsory, and if you don’t get the answer to A then there’s follow up questions right to F that you cannot answer either. I wanted to cry. Then after the exam, the same bus, still sardine-d in by students, wanting to cry, wanting to flee. Walking home, listening to sad songs. I arrived home and immediately phoned my dad to complain, but he was busy and did not really want to talk. I have my third exam on the 4th of June and it’s the one I’m least prepared for. I’ve only done a tiny bit of revision for it thus far. I am filled with despair. If these two exams which I was prepared for did not go well then…I don’t feel at all motivated. I couldn’t bring myself to do anything useful today.

➔ My grandfather passed away suddenly last week, on Wednesday. I do not know how to deal with it. Much like when my grandmother died, it is happening in South Africa, so it feels so distant from me. So it doesn’t feel real. I am not sure I’ll be able to go back to South Africa now. It feels like the tenuous connection I had to it is fracturing, and now if I go back I’ll have to also deal with the fact that the family members I was closest to…aren’t there. I am terribly worried about my father and my grandmother.

➔ I decided to speak out about my concerns regarding me thesis. I did not feel like my supervisor had supported me enough and wanted this to be taken into consideration in marking. I saw my tutor last Monday about it, and embarrassed myself terribly by crying and sniffling through the entire meeting. Then I saw my supervisor, and the head of year. And basically the outcome is: it’s my fault. As expected, it’s my fault. They did say they will be extra careful about the marking, but I got the distinct impression that they were taking my supervisors side. And this was why I left it to the last minute, why I didn’t say anything earlier, this was why I didn’t want to speak up at all. I knew that my supervisor would win. The teacher is always right, it is always the student who is too stupid to understand, right? I am so, so worried about this. My entire degree rests on this. I desperately need a 2:1 to get my job, and it feels like there is no point to anything anymore, because my thesis….

➔ The more I think of my job, the more I want it. My mother told me not to worry so much, if one door closed (i.e. the job did not work out) another would open. “But I want that door,” I told her “that’s my door” I told her, on the verge of crying. I have come a long way to get where I am and I cannot let anything happen now that door is in sight. It is everything I want. I pray for it not to be taken from me. I didn’t want my supervisor to take it from me, so I spoke up, even though I was terrified of doing so, and it did not really make a difference. And it makes me feel so helpless and so sad.

➔ I’m not writing this entry very well. I can’t think straight. As typical of this time of year (exam and coursework deadline season) I am anxious. I feel sleepy and sad. My grandfather dying has increased these feelings. I want to go home to Cape Town so much, but I don’t want to at the same time. I feel conflicted about it.

➔ I want to be comforted, to escape, but I know no matter what I cannot escape from my own mind.

➔ On the plus side, one exam left, a couple of project presentations and then I’m FREE. I mean DONE with university. Then it’s just the long, anxious wait to results and hopefully I’ll be able to get my 2:1 and my job. Fingers crossed.

➔ My driving test is booked for July 15th. Also fingers crossed.