Summer in the City

Well, September is here at last and summer is officially over. I haven’t really blogged as much as I hoped to (I just didn’t get the chance) but that’s something that will change now – promise!

Just like every other year, I had grand plans for this summer. I was going to learn how to juggle, pick up bass guitar again (it’s the one instrument I’ve been fairly consistently neglecting since about two months after I started to play – oops), play endless guitar, teach my scouts as much as possible, paint the house, write some letters, maybe learn to swim – a whole heap of stuff. Admittedly, I never ACTUALLY do all of the things I plan to do over summer. If half of my plans happen, I’m doing pretty damned well. This summer, however, I got absolutely none of these things done.

“Why?!” come the cries of my hundreds of concerned readers. (only not really)

Here’s the thing.

A couple of years ago, it became clear to me that my original home back in Donegal was not overly safe for me. I’m not going to get caught up in the details of it because these things happen, but basically when I moved out last year at the ripe old age of 17, that was me out for good. This didn’t pose too much of an issue to me for the first while as I was working on starting a new and improved life on this side of the border. In fact, it didn’t really become a problem at all until May, when I discovered that the lease for my current flat wouldn’t begin until September, while I would have to move out of my room in Elms Village in early June.

So my summer didn’t exactly go according to plan: while nothing terrible happened (like being disowned by my family or, you know, death or something), and while I still had regular online contact with plenty of loving relatives, this summer marked my first true experience of what could turn out to be my life once again when this lease runs out: moving from place to place, sleeping on mattresses, sofas and kitchen floors, in baths and hedges and pretty much anywhere where I wouldn’t get attacked or soaked in the rain. This summer, I spent time in my sister’s spare room, but I also spent time walking through Belfast with a bundle of blankets and no idea where I was meant to be going. I’ve been hired and fired, stuffed and starving, and have been in WAY too many conversations which started with the words “I don’t want to kick you out, BUT…”

The lowest point of my summer was walking out on the last day of my second job in 2 months and realising that I had no job, only 40p to my name which I couldn’t even access because it was in the bank, and no idea where I was going to sleep that night.

The past few months could easily be interpreted as one great kick in the teeth after the next, but I don’t regret anything that I did over the past year. I feel like the whole experience has taught me the true meaning of “it gets better”. Less than a month ago, I was sitting under a bridge on a rolled-up blanket and hoping that someone would call me up to offer me a bed for the night. Today, I am sitting writing this in my new bedroom, in my new flat. I can hear my friends and new flatmates laughing and chattering in the next room. Tonight, I will have a hot meal for dinner. Tomorrow, I will get up and go to work at one of my new jobs and when I finish work, I will return to MY flat and go to sleep in MY bed.

And you know what? This summer has probably been the best summer of my life so far. It’s been unpredictable and stressful and extremely unstable, but I have never felt so free. In the space of a year, I went from this stuttering little punchbag to a king with a key to the city. So much went wrong this year. If I had seen it coming, I probably would have given up because I wouldn’t have believed that I could deal with so much all at once. With the summer behind me, however, and with it the uncertainty, the sickness and the cold, I will look you in the eyes and tell you that this is my year. 2014 is Tab’s year, and it is only going to get better from here.

Just you watch this space.

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Welcome to the Job Market

Hello, readers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here because I haven’t had access to my computer, but I’m going to try and start posting regularly again.

Summer is here, and I am broke. I’m desperately searching for a job, but nobody seems to want to employ me. NOBODY! I’ve discovered that the “job market” is less like a market and more like a void into which you throw all of your hopes and dreams (and countless copies of your CV) and pray for a positive outcome. And, to be frank, there has been no positive outcome to speak of.

I’m currently living between sofas, which is a new experience. Officially, I am living with my sister in her flat but as I have no money to help out with rent, I don’t stay there every night. That’s fair enough, I think – if I’m not paying rent, I have no claim to the flat. She’d have every right to kick me out fully if she wanted to, but I can trust her not to do that! I just hope that I manage to find something by September, when the lease to my own flat begins! (Eek!)

All is not lost, however. In late June/early July, I managed to get a short job working at the summer graduations for my university. It earned me about £130(ish) which I have pretty much spent at this stage, but also earned me some all-important experience in the field of events catering. The job consisted of setting up for graduation garden parties, plating the food, directing guests, handing out platters (I didn’t know it was possible to get stressed out about strawberries and cream!), making tea and coffee, asking guests not to pick at food from the platters on the table when it was very clear that they were to take one platter each, cleaning equipment, litter-picking, fetching, scrubbing, tidying and just generally running around following orders – and it was fantastic! I was always worried that I wouldn’t be any good at that sort of job, since before then I’d only worked in a hospital and a newspaper, but I actually did really well!

Rocking the work clothes!
Rocking the work clothes!

So, not to blow my own trumpet, I actually rock at catering jobs. I am the queen of systems and orders. When I’m around people I don’t really know, I automatically become extremely polite, which is exactly what is required when you’re working with the public. When I eventually get a job, I might be a little wobbly for the first day but after that, I will absolutely own it. The problem is, my potential employers don’t know that. I look horrific on paper – unexperienced and therefore unskilled. There are people also looking for jobs in this city who have years and years of experience in establishments exactly the same as the ones I’m applying to, so who could blame the business owners for choosing them over me? Not me, that’s for sure.

I’m afraid that this is just another pointless ramble with no conclusion.

If you want a conclusion, I guess it’ll have to be “I’m probably not going to be employed any time soon” or something along those lines. But oh well. It’s the business owners’ loss – they don’t know what they’re missing out on!

But hey, if one of you happens to own a business in Belfast, feel free to employ me. I won’t let you down!

Keep smiling, posting will return to normal very soon.