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2003-07-02 - 1:06 a.m.

Some interesting things have happened since I last wrote.

On Saturday morning, the thought hadn't crossed my mind. Now I'm 98% sure that when I come back to work on Monday after three days off I will be starting a 4 month project position working days. As in, Monday to Friday. As in, having every weekend and every weeknight off like a normal person.

This is how it happened. About 3 months ago the project chemist position was advertised. It was a 6 month position, which didn't interest me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was happy with my role as Shift Team Leader, and secondly I didn't want to lose my shift allowance, particularly with the dual prospects of travelling overseas and moving back out of home.

As it turned out, the position couldn't be filled until somebody in the lab came back from 3 months leave, as there simply wouldn't have been enough experienced shift chemists around for the lab to function. With said persons impending return, the position was offered to Yvonne, for what she assumed would be a 6 month tenure. She was willing to lose her allowance, she needed a break from shift and figured the position would help her progress.

When she discovered the position had been reduced to 3.5 to 4 months she was livid- if it had been 3 months she would have retained her shift allowance. She turned it down on principal- either make it 3 months or 6 months was her view.

This contoversy was very topical for the last week, and suddenly, in the middle of talking about the situation as it stood on Saturday, I began to wonder if maybe I would like to do it myself.

I like being Shift Team Leader. I deal with working shifts because I think the extra money is adequate compensation. But I get really depressed when there are things that are important to me that I can't go to because I'm working that night. On days, all of your nights are free, it just may mean being tired the next morning. It's so much more obvious now that I'm with Jane- when there are things she goes to that I would have been going to with her if I wasn't working. Plus half the time we see each other she's working the next day, so there's no sleeping in together.

Shift work is also fucking with my body and mind. When I'm on mornings I get 4-6 hours sleep per night. When I'm afternoons, or days off, I get about 10 or 11. Too few or too many- I go to extremes. Last night was the first changeover (when I finish at 3pm and don't start until 3pm the next day) that I haven't spent with Jane for ages. I felt like I needed the time at home on my own. I had things to get done. But I couldn't motivate myself to do anything. I ended up wallowing around waiting for Jane to call.

It makes me feel stupid, because I don't rely on Jane to be functional- rather I think it's really important to have time to yourself. Yet when I have time alone I just feel... numb, nothing- "I just don't know what to do with myself".

This role will force me to plan my time, to be a lot more organised, to think ahead- and that's a bit scary, but I think I need it, and I'm hoping it might rub off on my home life. I get a bill and lose it before I pay it, I have crap all over my floor, I don't think about my doing my washing until I run out of socks or underwear.

I hadn't thought about it before Saturday, because the idea of taking a paycut when I'm planning on going overseas next year (and quite possibly to New Zealand for a week later in the year with Jane to visit Sally, and Melbourne to visit Ellie) and moving out in the not-too-distant future diddn't really go hand in hand. But I looked at my savings, how much I wanted to put away each month between now and next March, how much I spend on my car, phone, board/rent, gigs and my raging restaurant habit, and how much I will lose in 4 months without my shift allowance, and it's doable.

It might be more logical to be thinking about it this time next year, but the opportunity is here and now. And everybody that knows me knows that if I don't take this opportunity I'll constantly wonder "what if", and dwell, and regret. And all the money in the world won't buy you peace of mind. It hasn't yet and it's not about to start.

Anyway, I talked to the boss, and basically, if I go in there tomorrow and say "yeah I'll do it" I'll walk straight into it next Monday. Nobody else has shown any interest since Yvonne turned it down. My boss has no other options and I have complete control of this situation.

I did a decision making and problem solving course, and "what's the worse thing that can happen?" was virtually the mantra of the course. The worst thing that can happen is that I'll be completely out of my depth, prove to myself that my lack of drive, motivation and ambition that plagued me when I was doing Honours has not waned, depend completely on those around me, and crawl back onto shift in November with my tail between my legs. To a payrise. And no matter what this job holds, I will feel... normal. The first Monday to Friday job I've ever had. Free to go to whatever gigs I want on any day of the week. I'll see Jane every weekend without fail.

I sometimes wonder why I feel down so often when so many things are right about my life. Maybe this is the answer. Or one of them. Maybe this is exactly what I need right now. To take more control of my life.

It's scary. It's so amazingly different to what I've been doing for the last 3 years, in terms of mindset and lifestyle- I mean, the knowledge is very similar, it's still the lab. But I'm heading into the unknown.

"It's fear of the unknown. Unknown is what it is- accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing"

-John Lennon


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