I’m so Jammy!

My first week of unemployment wasn’t really how I thought it would be. On Monday and Tuesday I went to bed and got up late, relaxed, walked with O.J and visited my granny. Normal enough stuff when I have time off.

I had to contact a disability organisation about a query, they asked me how things were in general and I told them about my job. A few hours later they contacted me to tell me about a part-time receptionist job that they needed someone to cover for 4-6 weeks. I wasn’t too interested but had to meet them to talk about other things. I went to meet them on Wednesday and came back with a job!

I don’t mean to sound like a snob, but reception work- answering phones and doing partly inaccessible work like photocopying and faxing is my idea of a nightmare job. I don’t ever want a job just because it is suitable for a blind person. Years ago people usually always worked on switchboards, and many people assume that that’s what I did before. I’m not saying I’m too good for that, or that it isn’t a worthy job. That’s not true at all, but it’s not something I would really like to do. I don’t ever want to be in a job that I don’t enjoy. I also don’t want the work that I do to be only partly accessible. That way, I’ll never feel that I’m working to my full potential.

I’m very grateful that they asked me, especially since I have little admin experience. The job is only two days a week, with a couple of hours of computer work that I can do from home. It is a chance to keep busy and earn some extra money that I would not have had otherwise. I will also have an opportunity to help solve some accessibility issues that the organisation is having. They have been very accommodating so far, and are excited to have O.J in the office.

I learned the route from the bus to the building with O.J today. It is a short walk and he’s picked it up very quickly and seems to be excited being somewhere new. It will be simple enough, as long as the bus driver lets me off at the correct place. If not, I’m in big trouble as I don’t know my way around Letterkenny at all. The area of the town that I’m in is unbelievably inaccessible.

I want to mention two other things:
If you like traditional Irish music, check out Darragh’s new radio show and give him your support. It will be broadcast on Saturdays from 7 PM. Plans for future shows sound great. Find out all the info
And keep an eye on digitaldarragh.com.

The stuartlawler.ie podcast has also gone live on
HKC radio
At 3 PM on Saturdays. Check out
his site
For more details.

PS. Just encase your wondering, the Glen Hansard and Mark Geary gig that I mentioned in the last post raised 6,500 euros for Haiti. Very impressive!

Its official

From Monday 25 January 2010, I will be officially unemployed!

I had a feeling this was coming since before Christmas, but other people in work are very shocked. We’re all funded under different schemes, and everybody’s funding could end as suddenly as mine did. There is a possibility that I might get some paid work in May, but until then i’m just going to volunteer maybe once a week or when I know they have work to keep me busy. I’d rather do that to keep O.J working the route, and so that I don’t have a three month gap before i’m back again.
I got so much more than I expected when I started working there, two years and 8 months ago. I Got offered a work placement that was supposed to last one year, I didn’t have to be interviewed, and I met some great people. I was 21 and it was my first proper job, so I learned a lot.

We had tea and buns yesterday, and I got a voucher from all the staff, which was really nice of them. It was strange packing up all my stuff and bringing the dog’s stuff out of the office too. It still doesn’t feel real though. Its just like I’m going on holiday or something. Next monday morning it will sink in, when I get up, feed the dogs and go back to bed, wondering what i’ll do for the rest of the day.

I’m going to take time to relax and think during the next couple of weeks. I want to make the most of my time off. I want to do voluntary work, try new things, do work experience, teach O.J new routes and enjoy myself. I live at home and get on well with my family. The disability allowance in the republic of Ireland is very generous compared to anywhere else. I don’t have kids to look after or a big mortgage to pay, so I know things could be a lot worse. The last time I was unemployed (just after I got my degree) It was more difficult because I didn’t have O.J and wasn’t as independent. He’ll still need walked and occupied every day, so even if I wanted to be lazy, I can’t be.

I’m actually excited about what will happen in the next while. I have a few ideas about work I might become involved in. I also have a big project in mind, and if it works out my brain will constantly be in overdrive, i’ll be poor afterwards, but it will be worth it because its something i’ve always wanted.

In the meantime I’d like someone I know to win this
charity gig for Haiti
And invite me. Please? It would be the perfect fundraiser. Pity I don’t have a big house near Dublin and lots of money.

Choice Music Prize 2010

The shortlist for the
Choice Music Prize
– Irish Album of the Year 2009 was announced yesterday. The nominations are as follows:

And So I Watch You From Afar “And So I Watch You From Afar” (Smalltown America)
Bell X1 “Blue Lights On The Runway” (BellyUp)
Codes “Trees Dream in Algebra” (EMI)
Adrian Crowley “Season of the Sparks” (Chemikal Underground)
Dark Room Notes “We Love You Dark Matter” (Gonzo)
The Duckworth Lewis Method “The Duckworth Lewis Method” (1969/Divine Comedy Records)
Julie Feeney “Pages” (Mittens)
Valerie Francis “Slow Dynamo” (VF)
Laura Izibor “Let The Truth Be Told” (Atlantic)
The Swell Season “Strict Joy” (Plateau)

Nominations are not based on record sales or radio play, but on the quality of the albums alone. The award is similar to the mercury music prize in the UK. It always causes debate, as people might not agree with all the albums chosen, but that’s all part of the fun.
The award winner will be announced in Vicar Street on 3rd March. All the nominated artists will perform before the winner is announced. Tickets go on sale on Monday.
Guess who has their tickets already?… me!
I won them on today fm last night in a competition where you had to text in who won the award last year. I’ve never been to Vicar Street before so I’m very happy!
I just have to decide who is coming with me, whether I’m taking O.J or not and depending on this, where will I stay.

Obviously I’m in a much better mood now. The weathers improving as well so I can go for walks and go and see my friends at the weekend. It’s all good!

Career change

My job at the moment depends on funding, which could run out at any time. I’m always wondering what I will do when it does, and I want to be even slightly prepared. I like the building, the people I work with and the work I have done here, but it can’t last forever. I want a change, not necessarily as soon as possible, but I do want to do something different.

I couldn’t imagine studying full-time again, but maybe if I found a course that I knew would be useful, and if I could do voluntary or freelance work as well I’d consider it. I don’t want a job for the sake of it, just to get money. My worst nightmare would be going to work every day, to a job that I hate, and wishing I could do something else. My work would be terrible and I’d be miserable.
I’d hate to be unemployed for a long period of time too. The longer you are out of work, the more you start doubting your ability and it doesn’t do your confidence much good. That’s what I found between university and my first work placement anyway.

The main problem is that I have no idea what I want to do. People always ask me, if I had a dream job, what would it be, and I honestly don’t know.
I know all the things I don’t want to do. I couldn’t work in an office all day answering phones or working with computers constantly. I’d go crazy. I have thought about counselling, but don’t know if hearing about people’s problems and trying to advise them is something I’d be any good at. Teaching doesn’t appeal to me, and my mum’s ideas of law or physiotherapy don’t interest me either. It would be great to have my own business, but I’m not a business-minded person at all.

I enjoy working with audio and sound, as the work is completely accessible to me. I like radio work, but know that at the minute I wouldn’t want to be a presenter. I like editing and putting radio packages together, and I know this is always something I can do as voluntary work.
I considered music therapy when I studied at Queens, but soon realised I need to be a better musician, a good singer (I haven’t got a note in my head) and be able to work in a wide variety of settings.
I considered sound engineering, but the physics of it put me off. It’s something I haven’t looked at in proper detail though.
I would like to work with animals but it’s probably an unrealistic option.

Finding a job has never been an issue because I am blind. It’s my indecisive brain that’s the problem, not my eyes. If I really really want to do something, apart from drive or fly a plane, I’ll usually try and find a way of doing it. The problem with being blind is that you can’t really get work experience easily. You can’t get a summer job somewhere and see if you like it. With a lack of work experience, it’s difficult to know if you’d really enjoy something. It’s also difficult to apply for jobs that require some sort of experience.

I’m not sure where I’d like to work or study, but I suppose that depends on what I decide to do in the future. I’d hate to move somewhere where I don’t know anybody, unless the job was just amazing! Having O.J will make moving anywhere a lot easier. It will be nice to learn new routes with him as well. Dublin is so busy and expensive, but I know there are more options there. I really like Cork but it’s the other end of the country! Belfast is probably my ideal location if I move away from home.
There are some other things that add to my dilemma too, but I think that’s enough for now!

I’m not sure why I’m writing this. Maybe writing it down will help. Maybe somebody can suggest something that I haven’t thought about. Even a link to a website, list of possible courses or your own experiences might be useful. This is one thing O.J can’t help me with, so any thoughts or ideas would be really appreciated.

Is the world ending?

Its the coldest weather in Ireland for years, there’s white stuff everywhere and my paws are freezing! What is going on?
Before I talk about the bad weather, I have to say happy new year. I don’t know why, but everybody else seems to be saying it.

I thought I was going into early retirement because I haven’t been walked much recently. Jen keeps going out in the car with other people and I don’t have to do any work. I went for a walk last week and soon realised why. The ground was so slippy with ice that I nearly fell lots of times. Its very hard and stressful for me to try and walk myself and Jen around the ice. I do my best but we both know its not safe. Some mornings we weren’t able to get to her work because cars couldn’t get up the road. Luckily my grandad has a jeep and is a good driver in bad weather. He has to keep giving people lifts and helping people out of the snow, so he has been very busy this week. Two people gave him a bottle of whiskey to say thanks. Does anyone know what whiskey tastes like? I’m not allowed to try it.
The ground is so slippy that when we get off the bus we have to get a taxi to work. We even needed help walking the two minutes to the taxi and one minute to the door of the building where Jen works the other day. People are very helpful though.
Jen says I’ve been very good, because even though I should be bored from not getting out for walks, I’m nice and quiet in the house. I did have a hiper fit yesterday when the neighbours came. I don’t know why but I was just so excited!

I love to play in the snow and we had great fun in it the other day when we were stuck at home. Its easier to walk on than ice and I love running after snow balls. Then I come inside and curl up beside the cooker, beside Dougal or beside the fire, on the new mat that I discovered when I sneaked into the hall the other day.
Jen will go mad if this cold weather doesn’t go away soon. She just wants to go for a nice long relaxing walk, without nearly splitting herself. I hope it goes away soon too, because she keeps saying she’ll have to trade me in for a husky, and I don’t like the sound of that!

I went to two new places this week. Jen’s mum met her off the bus yesterday because it was so slippy. She knew that Jen wasn’t too happy this week because of her job and because she doesn’t know what she wants to do next, so she said we’d go for dinner. I’ve been to dinner lots of times, but never anywhere like this. There was a yummy smell of food, but very different to what i’m used to. They played strange music and the waitress had a funny accent. She gave me water though and wanted to take me home. People seemed to be eating rice and curry. At least I think that’s what its called anyway.

Today after work we had to go to a hospital. We were taking somebody to visit, so luckily we didn’t have to go into the room. I hate seeing people being sick. The hospital smelled funny too, but not like the restaurant. It wasn’t as nice. The people in the restaurant at the hospital were very friendly and wanted to pet me which was great. One of the nurses talked to us for ages. She said that her sister was blind and she is working with her second guide dog now. Both of her dogs were called Sheeba. How strange is that? I would hate Jen to give me away and get another guide dog, but then if it had the same name as me I would be really angry!

Our friend Charlie is staying for the weekend. He’s a king charles spaniel and is very quiet. Hopefully we can play in the snow tomorrow and he’ll be crazy like me then.
Think its my bedtime now.
OJ x