My career seems to have gone off the rails

Every year around December or January, I upload my CV to a local careers website. It’s never even my latest CV and I have in the past included a note to say I am not on the market – but they don’t read that shit anyway. Then, normally I get a number of calls from recruiters, and they send me job specifications. This enables me to:

  1. Gauge whether or not my salary is still in the right range for my job experience.
  2. Compare the job specs to the technologies that I use at work, and get a check-point for what I should be using.

This year, for the first time, something is off.

  • Normally I get twenty or thirty calls within two days. This time I got two or three calls weeks later.
  • From the few I did receive, it’s become clear I’m no longer working on the right technologies.
  • I’m being significantly underpaid.

What to do? What to do?

There have been discussions about updating our server and services infrastructure, and the technologies to be used will put that back on track for me. If it happens.

But being underpaid is an issue. My expenses have just gone up, since I now have to have my son at aftercare every day, and have somebody help keep my flat clean. And I was already in arrears with the levy, since the body corporate where I live failed to send me an invoice for an entire year.

Meanwhile, we are short-staffed at work and unless they get more developers soon, it could get worse. In order to be able to approach my employer, I need more than a gut feel to say that I am being underpaid, but I don’t actually want to go to interviews and waste anybody’s time. I’m in a peculiar position because at the moment, I do have a decent position where I am, and I know the systems I’m working on. So I have good knowledge and am respected there. But respect doesn’t pay the bills and it’s difficult not to let my dampened spirits come across as a bad attitude. So it seems I must ask for more money and I am bad at that.

This not smoking thing really sucks. Or maybe doesn’t suck, as the case may be.

Facebook notified me that readers of my page for this blog are missing me. (I only shared it with the first ten of my friends and then lost interest, but anyway.) So here is something short to remind you I’m still alive and kicking.

It’s been more than two weeks now, and I am still not smoking. But it hasn’t really gotten easier. The craving comes and goes… sometimes I forget about it completely and then it returns with such vengeance that I find it incredibly difficult to resist going to the shop on the corner and buying a single cigarette. So far I have resisted though. So far…

A few months ago, a Facebook friend stated I cannot call myself a former addict if I still smoke cigarettes. Maybe she was right. I don’t think it’s completely fair, because I generally refer to myself as a former meth addict, not a former addict.

Regardless, I am not going to declare myself a victor of this addiction just yet. I can say with certainty, at the same point just over five years ago when I reached two weeks clean time from meth, I already knew I had beaten meth. There was no doubt in my mind. It’s not the same with cigarettes. I don’t feel like I’ve beaten it at all. Instead I’m still fighting.

But fight I will, and hopefully soon report back that I am confident that I have this cigarette addiction beaten. Until then, I wish all of you compliments of the season.

It’s starting to look like I really have quit cigarettes successfully

Weird… I was about to write that I resisted mentioning this because my track record for quitting cigarettes is not great, but silly me forgot I mentioned it already.

Anyway, an update… Tonight at around 10PM will be exactly five days since I quit smoking. At this point, with each passing day it becomes increasingly unlikely that I will fail. The cravings peaked at around three days, and then started dropping off. In fact, at this point I only crave when I think about it. Which means I’m forcing myself to crave a little while writing this, but that’s OK.

Oddly, I found quitting cigarettes far more difficult than quitting meth, at least in the first couple of days, but then this has been a particularly difficult time. My mother died, and even though she died of complications trying to treat lung disease (most likely caused by smoking), my cigarette addiction did still give me comfort. It’s just Josh and I at home, and anything to help with the grief is useful, so in that sense, it made resisting the cigarette cravings difficult. Contrast this to when I quit meth five years ago – I’d done so when Megan moved back with a three month old baby daughter, Aishah. I quit exactly the same way then, on a Thursday night; but using meth over that weekend would have been completely impractical. I shared the room with Megan and the baby, and my mother slept in the next room. Thus I not only had motivation, but had company and this made resisting the cravings easy.

Unlike those days, these when I quit smoking have involved more stress and more time alone. Starting tomorrow, Josh will spend three days with my brother, making it slightly more difficult, I imagine, since I’ll be alone. The other relevant detail, I think, when it comes to quitting smoking, is that there isn’t that sense of it being an immediate achievement. Quitting a hard drug like meth is notable; after quitting one is immediately noticeably different due to not being high all the time. Cigarettes cause many different kinds of cancers, but quitting smoking is a long term reduction of risk. The immediate benefit is not obvious, and so it doesn’t feel like as significant an achievement.

The other difficulty with quitting smoking is that immediately after quitting, I have lots more time. I’m used to going for several smoke breaks at work, and at home. Suddenly those breaks aren’t happening any more and that takes adjustment. It’s worse after each meal, and at certain times of the day at home when I had regular cigarette breaks for years… like last thing before going to bed and first thing waking up.

Anyway, it is starting to look like I might just have finally quit the cigarettes for good. It still leaves me sad… I can hear my mother saying, “I’ll never smoke again”, but it was too late. I was much older than her when I had my one and only child. In order to be there for him, I need to try and get healthy and try to live to around 80. That might be possible, but is probably not, and especially not if I continue smoking.

To end with two positive notes… I hope this can encourage others. I’ve smoked for years and didn’t really think I could quit. Now it looks like maybe I can, after all. And if I can, so can you. Also, there is another point to this: I have always maintained that I don’t know exactly how I managed to quit meth successfully. But come to think of it, I do know and I am using the same technique to quit cigarettes. If this works, and I think it will, I do have a formula after all – one that I can use to advise others and that I have reproduced myself.

I’m in Limbo

Last night in my nightmares, I couldn’t breathe properly. I shifted awkwardly between asleep and awake, laying thinking of one memory in particular that haunts me – my mother on that Tuesday night before I dropped her at the hospital on Wednesday morning; my mother sitting at the dining room table after walking from her bedroom to the lounge, just a few meters being enough to leave her out of breath, sitting there panting with her head in her hands. I laid there thinking that, and then shifting back to sleep where I dreamed that I was the one struggling to breathe. Then I woke confused, uncertain if this was a dream or if I really did struggle.

I’ve started wondering if this was really a sensible time to quit cigarettes. My last smoke was quite late on Thursday night, but the craving has been quite intense since then. But it’s not just craving – I’m angry. This anger flares up in response to tiny things that should be insignificant. I don’t remember ever craving meth like this, but I am craving a cigarette. The part of me that wants it begs and pleads, insisting that all I need is one; that I can bum from my neighbour, Mervin downstairs, who normally bums from me. But no! I shut those thoughts down each time, by playing back that mental image of my mother, sitting there with her head in her hands as she struggled to breathe. I hear her voice, as she called me on her last day, a week ago yesterday, to tell me that they would try to drain the fluid from her lung using a needle. I thought I’d see her later that day. They were supposed to help her, not suddenly kill her! That’s why I’m still in shock. And I think of how she died not two hours later, but also that she might have lived much longer if she’d quit smoking sooner. I need to quit and not give in to any cravings, so that I can live longer, for my son.

So I have motivation, but it’s hurting. The more I think about it, the more it hurts.The grief and sense of loss is otherwise not as bad as it was a week ago. It’s still bad, but it’s OK. But the not smoking thing is really fucking me up. Even my sense of the passing of time is different without nicotine. I don’t know how that can be, but some annoying tasks, such as pulling off from a traffic light… seem to take much longer now. The waiting for the lights to change from red to green… seems much longer than it needs to be. I used to take a lot of smoke breaks as well, sometimes before and after doing just about every little thing. Now I have all this extra time and no clue what to do with it.

I quit smoking, and some clarification on why I don’t debate theists (again)

Two unrelated subjects today, but both were on my mind as I tried, in vain, to fall asleep last night.

I’m done with smoking cigarettes

I’ve tried half-heartedly to quit before, but was always quick to give up. In fact, I’ve often wondered how it could be that I gave up meth easily more than five years ago, but cigarettes were the one addiction I held onto.

But I think I have an answer: Just like five years ago, when I had motivation, I have motivation now. It’s a week ago that my mother died of complications trying to treat lung disease, most likely cancer caused by smoking. So just like when I quit meth, I am quitting cigarettes “cold turkey”. No pills or cigarette alternatives, no 12 step program – not that they do that for smoking cessation, but I am comparing this to quitting meth… No “just for today” nonsense because this is for life.

I hope this gets easier because I am craving a cigarette right now. But that’s OK; I craved meth for a day or two as well (after quitting at the end of a week), and then it got easy the next week.

Why I’m not going to debate you; the theist who attempted to initiate a debate yesterday

I’m not going to write who it was or quote fully. Long term readers might be able to figure it out, but that doesn’t matter because it absolutely does not apply to that one person only.

First of all, I do not get “defensive when criticized”. It’s avoidance. When you try to push me into a debate, I politely back off. It’s not defensive and I am quite capable of being aggressive as my arguments are good. But I don’t want to. I see no value in debating you after already explaining my position multiple times, only to have you stampede into yet another attack on me while caricaturizing my position.

I am not arrogant about this. To condescend and accuse me of arrogance when I do not believe I have a personal relationship with the creator of the entire universe, is more than a little ironic. Look at yourself a little closer.

As an atheist, I do not say, “There is no god”, at least not as a start to an argument. That’s a possible conclusion. Unlike you, I would never start with a conclusion. I reject the claims that gods exist. I don’t accept them, and I don’t make a counter claim that a god doesn’t exist. To accuse me of claiming to have special knowledge is dishonest after I have explained this literally every time you or anyone else tries to push me into a debate.

Since I was also indoctrinated in my youth, I understand the theistic perspective. When the arguments used always caricaturize my position, and with the type of arguments used, it is clear exactly how many theists think:

  1. You believe you “know” god exists, but won’t admit that.
  2. That is, every argument starts with the implicit assumption that god exists. Everything else (that isn’t about some straw man of atheism) is then using motivated reasoning to continue believing what you already believe.
  3. You assume that atheism is some kind of polar opposite of theism, so you project this opposite claim that “there is no god”.

Since the theist not only starts with his conclusion, but also argues against himself in the form of a twisted projection of some kind of assumption of what atheism is, and ignores everything I say, there really isn’t much point to debating.

Even when I did debate in the past, it was never to win. Watch or read any debate and pay attention to those who observe and support the debaters, not only the debaters themselves. In almost every case, both parties believe they won, and both groups of supporters believe their candidate won. Belief bias is strong.

I go into a debate with an open mind, and am always willing to learn. But there’s nothing to learn in debating someone who begs the question, someone whose premise assumes his conclusion to be true. You’ve lost before the debate has even begun. That wasn’t always a reason for me not to debate, but years of wasting my time have made it so. I used to debate anyway, ask leading questions and try to get my opponent to reveal their assumptions, bring the intellectual dishonesty in their arguments to the surface so that others might see it. But that got boring when every theist debater made the same assumptions and used the same arguments, while none of them are self aware enough to realize the assumptions they make. Or honest enough to admit what having faith really means. (Faith is belief despite no evidence. If you are truly honest about this with yourself, you would realize that it is not something that you can rationally debate.)


Edit: Typical… This cigarette craving is driving me nuts so I forgot to include one of the points that whirlpooled ’round my head last night as my insomnia dragged me over into the new day… Lastly, I am not insecure in my beliefs, unlike some people. I’ve written about this many times and that need for my point of view to be understood is less urgent than it used to be. There are years worth of material going back on this blog and anyone who wants to know my personal view, anyone who actually knows me in real life, can read it here and understand it better than I can ever tell you in words.

So don’t try to force me to debate, please. Save your arguments from ignorance and your circular reasoning and your gaslighting of my life and my beliefs or lack of beliefs.

No atheists in foxholes, huh? Tell that to my atheist friend with terminal cancer.

Yesterday I read a status by a Facebook friend – this is someone who I have never met – who opened up about her cancer recurrence, her diagnosis of bone marrow cancer, and that three separate experts gave her three months to live, over a month ago. She also expressed her determination to keep on fighting.

I didn’t comment on her status. Others did, with messages of affirmation and that she can beat it, that she mustn’t give up and so on. I didn’t because I really don’t know what to say. I could tell her how strong she is, but she already knows that. Everything I thought of saying felt wrong, meaningless, not enough… Not worthy of writing.

She has also started campaigning for donations for a wheelchair, so that she can go back to work. She amazes me – her strength and determination in the face of such adversity is admirable, and worthy of respect.

And her reaction to her dire situation is such a stark contrast to that projected by so many theists in their arguments with us. No, she did not suddenly start to believe in magic, just because she knows that she may likely die soon. To project your belief, your inability to comprehend disbelief, on others… is pathetic.

So here’s to my friend – I admire and respect her, and if there is any chance that she can still beat the cancer, I hope she does.