Posted in work

#5 Work The Podcast

If you’re like me, listening to music is more of a distraction when it comes to work that requires a lot of focus. This might be more of a contradiction to most as audibly secluding yourself from your environment keeps you more in your own ‘zone’, right? Well, not to me unfortunately… I have a knack for remembering quotes from tv shows and lyrics in a lot of (generally random) songs so listening to anything makes me tune into that rather than my work.

That being said, whenever I come up to a part of my job that is purely data entry based (i.e. Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and repeat for hours), listening to something can keep your brain engaged, make the job seem to go a lot faster and make it drastically more enjoyable.  Sometimes even educational!

I think the majority of people would turn to music first if given the choice of what to listen to, but (possibly controversially) I don’t have iTunes or Spotify… I ardently love music but I don’t think I listen to it enough to warrant Spotify and I’m too lazy for iTunes… if I want to listen to music I’ll find a radio station or put on Youtube and listen away – because that doesn’t make me sound older than I actually am… I may write about this in a different post sometime.

So anyway, one of the first things I started listening to when I needed to keep my brain engaged was podcasts! A friend recommended This American Life, which is a weekly podcast released by a guy called Ira Glass and the numerous talented members of his team. It tells stories from around the globe (with a focus on America) on current events and then just random things that range from the ‘that’s interesting’ to the ‘trying not to cry laughing in the office’ bizarre. Would highly recommend! Ira actually did a touring show called “3 acts, 2 dancers and 1 radio host” which I went to see in London and he didn’t disappoint!

I later discovered a very different type of podcast which is written by Aaron Mahnke: Lore. A very different style of podcast, it’s based around folklore and ghost stories from around the world which is pretty gripping, if slightly unnerving for the middle of the working day. Some of these stories are actually horrifying, like getting goose-bumps grim and – I’m not sure what it says about me but – it just draws you back in again and again.

So far, there’s only been one podcast that I haven’t fully enjoyed and that was Alice Isn’t Dead. Spoilers: It’s about a woman who’s friend/girlfriend (I can’t really remember) disappeared and she’s supposed to be dead or something so she becomes a trucker to travel the country and try to find her. The stuff that goes on over the series is just really weird and it couldn’t keep my attention so when she got attacked and started yelling I jumped out of my skin in the middle of the office and got really freaked out because I had no idea what was going on. I think there was also a bit where she cremated someone… I think I need to listen to this again… Anyway, the logo for this series was really clever but I remember thinking at the time that maybe the series would have been better as a book…

You Must Remember This by Karina Longworth is probably one of the podcasts I enjoyed the most. Telling stories about Hollywood’s first century, it describes some of the key people and stories of the time from Charles Manson’s cult to Marilyn Monroe. It gives such insight into the lives of people that have only been shown through the eyes of the paparazzi and can really change how you see an actor if you catch an old black and white film one day.

More recently, I needed a bit of a laugh so started listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno and oh my god… This guy is reading a porn novel his Dad wrote to two of his friends and they are absolutely destroying it! The story about a woman called Belinda getting a job at a company selling pots and pans I think(?) but the interview involves a “medical” and then there’s leather tiles… I can’t actually describe this accurately. You need to listen to this for yourself…
SM

Posted in books, Review

#4 Book Review: Missing, Presumed

I got this book at a train station WHSmith as I was about to undertake a long train journey and needed something to transport me elsewhere while my phone recharged… Literally judging the books by their covers, ‘Missing, Presumed’ was the one that stood out to me; Top five in the charts, unfinished sentence on the cover, looks kind of scary; I was keen to learn more. 
The premise of this story was the mystery disappearance of a young woman and the distinct lack of clues to answer whether she was kidnapped or killed. This sounded, to me, kind of standard when it comes to a crime novel – the lead character would likely find something others had missed and ultimately follow all the clues to solve the case. 

Maybe the person who had been missing would help in some way…

Maybe there would be a stranger who would come forward with more information or another character would crack under the stress of trying to live with their crime and spill all… 

At any rate, the case would be solved with some injury (physical or mental) to those involved and truth would win out. Case closed. 

This book, however, while gripping when the case was being followed and more leads being uncovered, felt like it was going a little slow at times. The story is told from multiple people’s viewpoints along the way – which provided some excellent insight into how the different characters see each other and sheds a light on their choices and, in some cases, changed my opinion of them entirely. That being said, I felt that, while DS Bradshaw’s love life was an interesting side-line, it felt like more focus should have been on the case rather than the team’s personal issues. 

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed learning about them all and it’s a great backdrop for the next book in the series but I felt that the pace of the book was hindered at times. Missing, Presumed is worth a read I’d say, but I would have appreciated a stronger female role. Here are the top three that stuck out for me:

Spoilers below – in case there are those who haven’t read it yet

Edith – the girl who went missing – had the flimsiest excuse for her disappearance. She saw her father with a body in the boot of his car and she fled to France?… Are you kidding? She had her reasons but they were so self-serving! Her choice to just ditch the entire situation in order not to deal with it caused two deaths with one of them being one of her closest friends! She didn’t even call home when there was a man-hunt underway because she felt it had gone too far. Sure, your parents think you’ve been killed but that’s ok because at least the police and the public don’t think they’ve been wasting their time and money…

Miriam – Edith’s mother – was one of the strongest roles. She tried to find more leads for her daughter’s disappearance as well as cope with a husband who was berating her for grieving for their loss. She even went to hunt Edith down in France once the clues pointed in that direction and convinced her to come back! After all of this, her high-profile friends trying to dissociate with her and discovering that her husband was having an affair with the guy he ultimately killed – by accident or on purpose was never really proved – she stuck by him. In my opinion, she should have taken a leaf out of “The Good Wife” and done what she wanted to with her life. Maybe that’s what she was doing but I think she deserved better seeing as she was so resilient through such a dark time. Maybe I’m a bit cynical… 

Manon – The main protagonist. I’m not sure what to make of Manon… dealing with scum bags on Edith’s case, office politics not to mention getting drunk one night and saying some pretty awful things is hard by any standard, but on top of this she was looking for love. Not something to shun by any means and she was really going for it! She knew when to call a spade a spade and she didn’t sell herself short. Major props DS Bradshaw! When she did find love, however, she seemed to lose her edge… I’m not one of those that tell people they’ve changed when they get into a relationship just because they’re spending more time loved up and less time drinking margaritas with their gal-pals but Manon let someone else make her believe she wasn’t worth being fully committed to and she just played along like it was fine. She began to live for this guy who didn’t reciprocate other than sexually and I think she deserved better! I don’t think that that particular storyline gets across a great message about how women (or indeed men) should allow anyone to make them feel inferior just because they’re set in their ways… it’s a mutual decision, people… but maybe this is a stepping stone to the next book (you can, however, see how this kind of detail made some pauses in the pace of finding Edith – it’s all good stuff though). 

All in all, I did enjoy the novel. I’m more used to fast paced books and this just wasn’t really. The content was exciting and showed a lot of depth into human relationships and trust and friendships so it was good… just not great. 
SM

Posted in books, Hobby

#3 My Bookshelf

Once you get home from work, class or even just a long day of being busy, it’s all too easy to get a cup of tea and sit in front of a screen that will allow you to relax and escape. This tends to be what I do and I find that I lose quite a lot of time to it – that’s not including social media which can also a huge time waster if you let it. 
There are people out there who are avid readers and some that don’t read for fun at all but my reading habits are quite sporadic and something I generally do on long trips or before going to sleep (FYI, Stephen King is not a good option before bed). 

While reading also requires a lot of time, it has benefits that go beyond escapism and relaxation. It improves vocabulary, boosts brain power and intelligence and can also improve memory function. One of my pages here – “My Bookshelf” – lists what I’ve been reading and I’ll review them where I can.  I have a shelf full of books that I want to get through and many more I have seen in passing or heard of that I also think would be so interesting to know more about. 

My tastes in literature are quite varied; I had a phase of reading pretty gory crime, another phase in what’s effectively smut, another in teen romance and most recently a love of Stephen King. What connects all the books that I truly love though, is how they’re written and how they speak to me. Taste is, of course, subjective and I don’t doubt that I’ll genuinely enjoy something that others may cringe at upon merely hearing the name *cough-cough, Love struck in London, cough-cough*. 

Another reason for why I’m trying to get myself to read more is due to increasing moments of “what is the word I’m looking for… it’s on the tip of my tongue” before typing a related word into MS Word and searching through synonyms until I find it. It’s like seeing an actor in something and wondering where you’ve seen them before – that kind of annoying brain itch that is the most satisfying thing once you’ve scratched it. 

At any rate, my reading record so far for this year is decidedly poor and I aim to rectify it. Dramatic, thrilling or controversial, I will read it and am always open to suggestions.
Happy reading, 

SM
Picture from pixabay.com

Posted in work

#2 The New Kid

One of the first things I noticed moving from University to work was that, just because you’re starting somewhere new, doesn’t mean everyone else is in the same boat and keen to make friends. You need to make an effort. If you’re a bit shy to start off with, much like I was, that seems like a problem but it’s not – it’s a good opportunity to put yourself out there.

If I sound all doom-and-gloom just there, it’s really not all bad! Larger companies tend to have one big graduate recruitment drive, bring you all in on your first day and then it’s kind of the same as fresher’s week – plus a death by PowerPoint and minus the hard-core binge drinking. If your company brings new recruits in sporadic, small groups then you may have a year-group of early careers people to mingle with. If you’re entering into a small company, however, it’s likely everyone will know you’re new and will make an effort to make you feel welcome.

You’ll be fine, trust me. Networking is a key skill that you develop the more you do it and if you can practise that beforehand by going to social/sports clubs etc. you can quickly get a good group of colleagues.

Maybe these colleagues become friends you go on holidays with…

Maybe one of them eventually becomes your boyfriend… but that’s another story.

 

SM

Posted in Misc.

#1 Beginnings

Hi!

This is a blog about what I’ve done since graduating and what I’m trying to do as I muddle my way through the working world.

It’s hard to know what to expect when you’re fresh out of University and, to be honest, I didn’t expect a lot of what’s happened to me!

During my two years of working I’ve gotten through two redundancy periods and watched many friends leave in the process, I’ve begun a postgraduate degree, done some travelling and fallen in love… And that’s not even the half of it!

I’m hoping to write about what I’ve learned so far and what I hope to continue or make a fresh start on – work wise, and personally – and hopefully this will be useful to somebody out there (- and if not, it’s still a nice little outlet for me!).

 

 

SM