Friday, 28 September 2012

Marriage: The Payoff Calculation

My reaction to being advised by Manosphere blogger Donlak that I need to Game My Wife (co-habitee, long-term girlfriend, moter of my children) non-stop, or Present Alpha All Day, Every Day, is simply this: "that's a ton of freaking work for what? Exactly?" The payoff thing matters. 

Here's what Donlak said are the benefits of marriage:

"Companionship, well cooked meals, an appropriate mother for your children, surrounded in a home that you are in command of, and you built with the mother in order to raise children in a stable loving environment; constant sex (again I’m assuming your marrying a decent looking babe or else why would you marry her?) chicks are also good at organizing mundane crap that I don’t want to do, they can do laundry, make appointments, take care of day to day house issues, and some are actually fun to be around for a great deal of time. It’s nice to always have something soft and doting and loving to be at your side for life."

Seriously, he said that. Here's the link, it's about half-way down the post. He actually wrote that and hit "Publish" and went to bed and slept soundly and woke up and didn't feel the slightest bit of doubt about it. Really. 

Let's say that those are "aspirational" rather than "expectational". 

Anyway sex isn't the big deal everyone thinks it is. Judging by what a number of my girlfriends have said, most men are three-minute men - stick it in, wiggle it about a bit, shoot their load, pull out and go watch the match on TV.

Well, err, I'm not. Which is fun for the girl, but not so much for me. So sex is off my marriage-payoff list. One-night stands and short affairs are fine, but after a while she's going to notice a lack of sticky male stuff and start getting suspicious ("if I'm not getting it, who is?") or insecure ("I can't satisfy him, when's he going to leave?"), either of which are bad for everyone's peace of mind. There's a good chance that she simply won't notice or care, as well: women who have only known the love of three-minute men think it's enough to show up and lie still for,,, three minutes. Also, it means I can't be managed-by-sex, as the one thing she can't do is throw me a quickie just to keep me sweet. Ladies, marry a three-minute man: it may not be so much fun for you, but it will make him manageable. So I'm going to leave the alleged benefits of sex out of my calculation. 

Children? The costly gift without price? You need to choose your wife and future mother of your children well. Because if she flips and takes away access to the kids, it will hurt like a mofo, you will be your ex-wife's bitch for the rest of your days, and in a sad proportion of the cases, you will watch two wonderful children turn into dope-smoking, rebellious, academic failures. I'm going to say that the expected benefit of having children nets out to not much: it might be high in a happy family, but it's way low in a divorced or dysfunctional one. 

This leaves money. To be sensible, an action must have an expected pay-off of greater than zero - this is Economics 101. So what's the payoff in marriage? In the UK, in 2010 cumulative divorce rates looked like this... (numbers in the triangle are cumulative percentage of marriages stating in the year that end in divorce by the anniversary)

Year of
Anniversary (years)









The lifetime probability of divorce in the UK runs around 40%. We can assume that the split-up rate for live-in long-term relationships is higher. Try looking for the size of divorce settlements and you won't find anything as reliable. However, it's easier than that to do the calculation. First, is there a financial benefit to being married? You pay one set of council tax and one set of utilities bills. Every other cost is unchanged from when you were single, and house prices doubled long ago to take account of the fact that the woman was working as well. So, no, there isn't a lot of benefit. If you have children, that's a cost, and you may lose your wife's income for a number of years. If there was a study that showed married men get paid more than single men, it would be mentioned every time this discussion came up. It isn't and this is another time when absence of evidence means evidence of absence. The downside, the divorce settlement, does vary, but the target is a 50-50 split of assets gained since the marriage, unless she's taking the children, when he basically loses it all. So the expected value of marriage is:

60% of not much - 40% of at least half everything for the rest of your life

I'm going for that being less than zero.

Notice that in a divorce settlement, the wife/mother is not expected to compensate the husband/father for the loss of valuable access to the children, nor, for that matter, for the loss of her cooking and housekeeping skills, whereas he is handing over compensation for her loss of his earning power. This should strike you as a lot more problematical than it is. The reason it doesn't is that you and the lawyers think her housekeeping and sexual skills are worth, well, nothing, and are not convinced that the net benefits of child access in divorce to the father is positive (on the one hand, he sees them, on the other, he suffers the pain of loss and of having no chance to intervene in their rapidly deteriorating progress through school and life.)

In all this you still have a 3:2 chance of being the guy who gets the not-much, but here's the thing: you won't know whether you are one of the 3 or one of the 2 until you or your partner dies. When Aristotle said "call no man happy until he is dead" he was talking about good fortune and his point was that until the moment you die, your luck can run out and disaster can strike. Same point. At any point until her death, your wife can divorce you, take the money and turn you from a successful and happily-married man into a chump who didn't see it coming all these years. 

And that 60%? They aren't smug, happy, shiny, sexy marrieds. They are those uncles and guys at the office who won't talk about their marriages. How many times do older guys slap you round the shoulders and say "Not married yet son? Hurry up, you don't know what you're missing!" I've heard people say that about ski-ing and the Seychelles, but never about marriage. Like the dog that didn't bark in the night, the absence of remarks like these from men is a huge clue.

I've kinda known this stuff all my life. I thought I was being cynical and my family experience was un-typical and somewhere out there were a bunch of Normal People who had Happy Marriages and Happy Families. I thought there was Something Wrong With Me, and if I Fixed It, I Would Be Happy Too. Forty per cent says I'm right. Especially if Danlok is right and the guys in the other sixty per cent are either whipped or sleeping with one eye open. Sheesh.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Marriage: The Manosphere Assumptions

In what amounted to a troll-by-blog post, a guy usernamed Donlak suggested that a man with tight Game should be prepared to take the risk of getting married and that refusing to do so because of the risks was just, well, wussy. Guess what? He got a ton of reaction, the best of which was a long, heartfelt rant from one Mark Minter, all of which Donlak dodged by saying "I didn't say all men were wussies for citing risk as a reason for not getting married, I said that men with tight game were wussies if they cited risk." Which was what he did say, but it was not what he meant his readers to read, and they knew it.

It's worth noticing the assumptions in his claim. (In all of this post read "long-term relationship / co-habitation / have children" as substitutes for "marriage".)

First and most disturbing: men with weak or no game get married at their own risk, and probably shouldn't.

Second and most shared with the rest of the Manosphere: women's behaviour really is random, self-centered, entitled and hypergamous, as well as flakey, flippy, self-obssessed and with ever-changing motives and behaviour. 

Third and most obnoxious: he's saying that it's okay for women to behave in the random, self-centered, entitled and hypergamous manner that makes Game necessary. Or he's saying something that amounts to the same thing, which is that women can't control themselves from behaving like that, any more than a dog can control its barking, so if you're going to get a dog, you'd better be prepared to train it to quit barking when you say "stop" - sorry, I meant, if you're going to share your life with a woman, you'd better be prepared for the endless exercise of Game and Dominance against her potentially destructive randomness. 

Fourth and most dubiously: Game can control womens' flakey, flippy, self-obssessed and ever-changing motives and behaviour. The jury is out on that one, but should Athol Kay, Rollo Tomassi or Mr Ironwood wind up divorce-raped anytime, a verdict of "Nope" will be pretty unanimous.

Let's deal with that second assumption. I see as much random, self-centered, entitled and changing-my-mind behaviour from men as I do from women: it's not a gender thing, it's about how stable your character and personality are, and as one consequence, how much you value keeping your promises. Working in large process-oriented organisations with limited resources (the entire public sector, and a lot of the service and retail sector) tends to give people eight hours a day of "we've changed policy / direction / priorities" - which is the business equivalent of random - and makes people think it is normal, acceptable behaviour. 

However, the point is this: it doesn't actually matter whether all women are self-centered flakes all the time, some of the time, or only some of them are some of the time. A bomb only has to go off once to do damage, and the perception is, rightly or wrongly, that the current state of western society and Family Law is very supportive of women who choose to explode for their own selfish reasons, and that it is not supportive of men who do. (Unless they are CEO's sacking thousands or running up vast debts for the company, when the law is also incredibly supportive. You may at some point want to put these two facts side-by-side and figure out why they fit so well.) And you have no idea whether your woman will explode until she's in a position where she never can. The same can be said about men, but the probabilities are way, way lower. Under our present laws, women have everything to gain, and men have everything to lose. 

So let's come back to claim three: that it's okay for women to behave, or that men should not expect them to behave otherwise than, in the random, self-centered, entitled and hypergamous manner that makes Game necessary.

You can guess I'm going to say "It isn't okay" and you would be right. Now women have jobs and are out there claiming to be independent, adult people with careers, their own place, and are competing with us guys for promotions, and want driving licenses and overdrafts and mortgages and to merge giant corporations... there's a price that goes with those privileges, and it's that they behave like responsible adults. It would be nice if a fair chunk of guys in that position behaved like responsible adults as well, but that's the same point. You want to play in the grown-up world, you play by the grown-up rules. You don't write cheques with your eyes that your body can't meet, you don't make promises you think you might want to break later, you don't welch on your debts, you don't flip-flop your plans and intentions just because your hormone balance changes, and you leave with the guy or gal who brought you. Amongst others. (Personally I think it would be neat if most CEO's played by these rules as well - but they don't, and that disqualifies them from the responsible-adult category.)

Men should expect women to behave like responsible adults, and avoid the ones who look like they aren't. I get that girls can no more not shit-test than not buy shoes, and it may be the female equivalent of guys establishing what each other's place is in the hierarchy. But it stops when you come back after the first night's sex. After that, shit tests are just a disorderly symptom, and I don't want disordered people in my life. Bed, once, maybe: life, never.

So much for the assumptions. In the next post, we'll look at the pay-off thing.

Friday, 21 September 2012

My 463 Bullet Point Checklist

As I matured in life (okay - got older) the women I met had more baggage and often turned out to be slightly bonkers. And that's not counting the people I have met in the Twelve Step Rooms. Even then only a very few had anything like a full-blown DSM-IV personality disorder.

I think about this stuff for way too long, and it slowly dawned on me that any one of those DSM-IV type symptoms is a big red "Uitgang" sign. Some, like self harm and actually attempting suicide, are obvious enough for anyone to notice and consider a reason to be leaving. Others are a little less obvious. So adapted from DSM-IV, and my experience here's the Single-Symptom list... 

a) a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation,
b) Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self, 
c) impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., promiscuous sex, excessive spending, eating disorders, binge eating, substance abuse, reckless driving)
d) chronic feelings of emptiness
e) a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
f) a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
g) a belief that they are "special" and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
h) a need for excessive admiration
i) a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations)
j) a pattern of being interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
k) A lack of empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
l) arrogant, haughty behaviour or attitudes

(Symptom b) sounds abstract, but it translates into things like missing appointments, not keeping promises, changing her mind a lot, changing her likes and dislikes a lot.) 

Add to this minor and less psychological stuff like...

m) Is a princess / flake
n) Is on prescription anti-depressants
o) Has substantial credit card debts
p) Is divorced / has children / is in a long-term relationship / married
q) Is unemployed
r) talks about what goes on at work as if it matters a damn
s) Has divorced parents
t) Says she'd like to get married / have children "sometime" (this is a girl's way of saying "never")
u) Says she's focussing on her career
v) Eats a lot of take-away or prepared meals
w) Has cats
x) Has more than fifteen pairs of shoes
y) Watches reality TV / reads celebrity magazines
z) Doesn't exercise or play sports

As people you might want in your life on a full-time basis this cuts out a lot of women, at least for me in London at my not-so-tender years. Affairs are different. A little craziness and / or baggage is okay for a few weeks, but not a whole year. The old me used to think that "share my life" meant "share her problems", but I'm not in the rescuing / White Knight game anymore.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bernie Spain Gardens, South Bank

"Bernie" is for Bernadette, and Ms Spain was a healthcare campaigner in the 1980's in the Coin Street area. I'm never sure about naming gardens and streets after politicos of any sort, because no-one will know what it means about ten minutes afterwards. Streets should be named after flowers, trees, local sights and places, or, of course, the places they go to or come from. If I walk along Nottingham Street, I should get to Nottingham. The gardens named for Ms Spain are just inland from the South Bank, and if I had taken my usual short cut from Waterloo to the Tate Modern, I would never have seen it.

Who are all those nice boys and girls lunching there? There are a lot of small but fancy businesses in the area between The Cut and the river, as well as Thames Television and IPC. Not quite Soho, but not somewhere you would avoid either. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Career Development

At my age? I'm supposed to be waiting out the years until I can collect my pension. Yet my manager talks about "development opportunities" for me, and he means the political / people / organisational stuff that would make me promotable. Within the context of The Bank, I'm not interested: I don't want to spend my days in meetings, as everyone at the grade above mine does. They can't decide anything, they have no sign-off authority, they have no teams or resources to dispose - so I have no idea what they do in those meetings. I have no desire to do what passes for "management" at The Bank.

Can I honestly go on at The Bank until I retire? Not if they carry on short-changing us with 3%-5% real pay cuts. I'll be a poor man if I do. Promotion doesn't get me out of that either: on promotion, you get a 5% pay rise, no better than a "developing" rating at your next appraisal which means an even smaller bonus, and no pay rise, since you just got one. You're actually better off not getting a promotion. It has ever been thus.

I'm ambivalent about the quality of the projects and challenges that we get. The section I'm in is basically about producing posters. We don't develop real products and services - we don't have the budget to make software changes, and even if we did, we don't have the priority. No-one ever got fired for telling our product to go take a running jump. Morale is low, and what's worse is the senior management have no idea why. Start with why The Bank can't be bothered to pay the FM company enough to clean the toilets properly. It's actually worse at other banks and insurance companies. 

I used to think my medium-term need was to save as much money as possible for my retirement. Pensions are a joke, so at this stage, I'm talking cash. My short-term need is to make my life as bearable as possible to make enough money to save. At my age, there is no long-term.

Yet I'm pretty sure I'll be working until the day I die - which I hope won't be much past sixty-five. Insh'allah. In which case, why do I need to save? Because I don't think I'll be able to earn a decent living after sixty-five. Except everything I know about knowledge workers and working says that as long as I keep up, I will be able to. The competition just isn't that good - not in this country. As long as no-one has a prejudice about hiring sixty-eight year old contractors - which they won't. Not in 2022.

If all that is true, then the one thing I need to be working on is my technical skills. There's precious little opportunity to do that at The Bank, except for SAS - which I don't like and doesn't have a free version to learn on. To be honest, four months of hard slog would put me up in the top five per cent, and that gets me to Christmas. Even if I went flat-out on a job hunt, I wouldn't get anything by then (it's mid-July now). 

The next thing I need to be working on is getting some kind of client base, or a relationship with the recruiters and agencies. While SAS is sellable, it's a production tool for big companies or a handful of specialised data agencies, which means a Bank-like environment again. That's what I'd like to avoid. The question is where? 

Where do I want to work? It's probably going to be small(er). It's going to be in the West End for preference, but within the Circle Line will do. It's going to have an interesting product that I would actually use. It's going to use some interesting tech. It's going to need what I can bring, which is no-nonsense insight and decent analysis->synthesis->presentation skills. These will make them money and help them design better products, and market those more effectively. I am really good at making money by processing and interpreting data better than other people at other companies - but I have no interest in trying to get the attention of an indifferent bureaucracy. So if you're a big company floating on heritage cash flows, depending on brutal sales techniques to shovel in the new business (and that's a lot of big companies), then we should pass on each other.

The next question is: who's hiring that fits that bill, how do I find them and how do I get there? Goody. My three least favourite questions.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Inventory and Wishes

I have been on occasion full of self-pitying regret that I never had a wife, children, and a five-bedroom house in Barnes. Usually when I was drunk or hungover. Like any young man, in my twenties, I felt the pain of waking up alone again and hungover on Sunday morning, and thought I was weak, useless and failing, failing failing, because I hadn't pulled Saturday night. I never had an affable, easy social life and a commercially-valuable network of acquaintances. I could never "commit". When I was sober and nothing was going wrong at work, I didn't feel those things. Since I was hungover and depressed a lot, I spent many years wishing I was leading another life, and indeed was a different person. Of course I did: I was in psychological pain and I needed a way out and I thought that was it. There is no right way out of that kind of pain: just different ways that leave differing residual aches and have differing costs. 

I stumbled onto Twelve-Step Recovery, and that worked for the alcohol-related stuff. It took me a long time to embrace my inner ACoA, and a while after that to accept that some of the damage is irreparable: I was okay that as a drunk I couldn't drink again, and would get bored around drinkers pretty quickly; I was less willing to get that an ACoA can't do intimacy, fun and all that other Normal stuff, and that attempts to do so lead to irritation, boredom or toxic shock. You can see us in the crowd during any fire drill: everyone else is talking in groups, while we are zoned out, surrounded by totally alien behaviour. At some point I must have accepted my condition - at which point, of course, it stops being "my condition" and becomes "me". What me?

I'm still employed, and I work with a bunch of smart young people who keep me sharp. I do a combination of weight training, spinning, running, swimming and yoga every week. My blood-sugar, blood-pressure, pulse and general physical condition is top five percent for my age. I'm still learning new stuff at my day job, and reading hefty tomes of philosophy and mathematics for stimulation. I cook my own food, clean my own house, iron my own shirts and run my own affairs. 

I have no pension worth a damn, and I've been through some nasty periods of unemployment. I'm a recovering alcoholic - but you're the one with the hangovers. I'm an ACoA, and so I don't have to get bent out of shape about "not being intimate" or "sharing my life" with anyone, because that is toxic for me. My testosterone levels are down from when I used to look at girls and think they were magic, so now when I look at women most of them look like more work than they may be worth.

I have a little bit in common with a lot of people, which means I can make light social conversation with a lot of people. I do not have enough in common with anyone to make them want to go any further. I steer clear of screw-ups, and sensible people steer clear of me, so I don't actually hang out with anybody except a couple of people from my distant past.

So much for the inventory.

What am I really missing? I could list all sorts of things here, from the virtuous (intimacy, friends) to the slightly silly (fame, wealth, beautiful lovers), but you and I know I would be lying. We know what I'm really missing.

I'm missing getting high, whether it's on sex, booze, conversation, music, scenic panoramas, art or anything else that does the trick. The Rules say I can't get high any more, that I have to find satisfaction through service, being a "worker amongst workers" and all that good stuff. I'm missing the sick emotions that come with fake drama (real drama isn't accompanied by emotions, but adrenaline and action). The Rules say I can't do that any more either and I follow them because those emotions are caused by crazy people and I don't want those in my life any more. 

What would I like? I mean, aside from a flat in Soho, the Marais and the Centre of Amsterdam? And the work that paid enough to support all that. And being able to speak French and Dutch. So there's that fantasy.

What I don't want to feel "content". I don't want to feel "at peace with myself". I don't want to be "comfortable in my own skin". Those are not real emotions, but absences. Spiritual Vallium. I'm not allowed mood-altering chemicals.

I'd like one day I didn't have to invent from zero, that wasn't made up of to-do tasks, that I didn't feel was in some deep sense optional. I'd like to wake up feeling rested, and go to bed feeling tired. I'd like to feel sated after a meal and calm enough to be able to read for a couple of hours without breaking off to clean something or make a snack. I'd like to feel that there wasn't always something I have to do next and somewhere I have to be after here. I'd like to feel that it was more than nice meeting you, and that we might meet again. I'd like to be able to point to something and say "I did that". 

So that's what I have to make come true.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Hanworth Air Park - August Evening

I have an odd covenant in my freehold: I'm not allowed to erect any structure over fifty feet in height on my property. This may be to prevent any of us out-doing the local, very old (Hanworth is in the Domesday Book) Church, but it may also be because the original London Airport is a couple of hundred yards from my front door. Amelia Erhardt is supposed to have landed in Hanworth Air Park, as did the Graf Zeppelin, and in the 1930's it was, apparently notorious for aerial tea parties, pageants and races. Not so much now. Actually, never. The last flight was sometime in 1955. On a good summer evening, it looks like this...

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Looking Back, It All Seems So Clear Now (2)

What I did was get angry enough to take Step One.

Step One: Admitted I was powerless over feeling like shit all the time, that our my life was unmanageable. I came into work one day at the start of July, and within five minutes of arriving had a yet another violent coughing fit. That was enough. I took a meeting with my manager, then told him that I was taking the next couple of days off because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could help me get better. I thought I needed to see a doctor about this, and went across to my gym, which has a couple of GP's available every day. Not cheap, but you get a fifteen-minute or half-hour consultation. Yes, they could get me in a couple of hours later. Fine. I'll take it.

Step Three: Turned my life and my will over to the care of people with good advice. The doctor did various tests and established there was something wrong, but nothing life-threatening. He suggested I take my Lanzoprosole daily and prescribed a steroid inhaler as a preventative and see him in a week. I did as I was told and took the next two days off. My breathing improved and my coughing went away within the week. I felt better, and people even told me I was looking more cheerful. However, that wasn't enough. 

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless inventory of the exact ways my life has turned to shit over the last six months. Now it's time to make some changes and get out of whatever bad habits I may have picked up. This inventory has to be done carefully. The original phrasing is "a searching a fearless moral inventory". If I'm not careful, this is where the 3rd/5th Shame Regiment come charging down my Valley. They say things like how I'm not "in control of my life" or "present in your life" or tell me to "just be a grown-up" or "behave like an adult" or "pay attention to the details", or to "get a grip", "stop whining and do something" or even "man up". Following them are the 11th Pet Theories Regiment, who suggest changes in diet, exercise regime, taking vitamins, taking food supplements with weird names and fancy prices, taking a holiday, taking a spa weekend, enrolling on an evening course, "getting out more", "staying in more and just chilling" getting a hobby, and of course, everyone's favourite, "getting laid".

These guys are not my friends. They are either selling something, saying it for their own benefit, like the kick they get from making me feel bad. The inventory I needed compared my life to a well-managed one.

What does a well-managed life look like? Your living quarters are clean and orderly; you eat nutritious, tasty food in the appropriate quantities; you are fit, right-weight, have good muscle and skin tone, and effective cardiovascular functioning; you recognise when you are ill or injured and take effective action to get better; your work clothes are clean, in good repair and modestly stylish if you can choose what to wear; your casual clothes present you to advantage; you are clean; your bills are paid on time, you use credit cards as a method of payment, not as a means of financing, and if you take loans, it's for something that will benefit you for longer than the repayment plan. You have the insurance you need, and none you don't; you review your savings and investments at least once a year to make sure you're getting as good a return as the market will offer, and take action if you're not; you earn sufficient money in a legal manner, working for customers or managers who don't make you crazy; you have a professional development programme, even if it's of your making because the company doesn't; you meet your legal obligations, such as MoT tests and TV licenses; and finally, you are not a slave to booze, drugs, football, junk food, TV soap operas, Star Trek, MMORPGs or computer games, nor are you at the beck and call of your wife, husband, crazy needy manipulative girlfriend, ex-wife, ex-husband, chaotic children or other relatives, and nor do the neighbours drive you crazy.

A well-managed life is not normal - it doesn't leave enough room for any of the good stuff. A normal life has a certain amount of chaos and mess in it, usually caused by children, employment, sickness and relationships. What makes a life "normal" is that it lacks what we might call "malignant chaos". Having a bully for a boss or a partner with Borderline Personality Disorder is malignant chaos; a pile of ironing because you spent the weekend gliding, which is your favourite thing to do, is entirely acceptable chaos. You can have a light dusting of chaos over a manageable life - as when you blow off the housework for a weekend of mountain-climbing - or you can have a light dusting of order over an unmanageable life - as when a drunk manages to show up at work in clean clothes. I had a lot of order in my life, which is quite easy because I'm single and childless (thank the Lord, yes, thank the Lord!) - just not over anything that made my life richer and more pleasant. 

One reason I had slumped was that I was trying to "make my life better". Now since clearing the garden, sorting out insurances and the like won't make my life any more worth living than it already is, it follows that I would let all that sort of maintenance-y stuff slide. "Making your life better" doesn't work as a motive because it isn't functional: "getting a better salary" is, "clearing the garden of the junk" is, "touching up the paint around the house" is, but not "making my life better". A million things can do that, or nothing can. 

And here's where the damage shows. Boozing didn't leave much of a mark on my life: I was, by and large, a well-behaved drunk. What left the scars was the ACoA stuff. It's mundane and whiny and "can't you get over it?" and I will if you can get over your lack of mathematical ability and come back in a year and prove the modern statement of Riemann-Roch in your own terms. Yeah. Thought so. And no, it's not different.

I can have moments of pleasure, calm and very, very occasionally, of rest, but never that immanent feeling you have, of diffused wellness and feel-good-ness. Don't be smug about that: it's hormonal. If you had my oxytocin / endorphin re-uptake, you would feel as I do, and you wouldn't survive a month of it. But when "everything" slides, the weather is grey and cold and damp, I'm feeling down, my body is a mass of tense and knotted muscles, then it's tempting to imagine that I need something to put "it" all right all at once, or why bother? Getting angry and focussed on getting rid of the cough gave me something specific to focus on and broke that mind-set.

Right now, I'm writing down every little task I need to do - I can't remember what day it is, let alone that I need to get some chromium tablets at lunchtime. I have a Little Black Book Of Things To Do And Sundry Notes, I write everything in that. I look at it frequently - because I've gone days without taking it from my courier bag and consequently done nothing for weeks - and figure out what I'm going to do in my next free period (lunch, after work, weekend) or even during working hours (making dental appointments, calls about finances and household stuff). Part of the trick is to write it as soon as it has occurred to me, not leave it to get forgotten or filtered: I can always strike it out later.  

This sounds like the usual descent into bathos: start with a huge life-problem signifying existential distress and economic disaster and end with... candles? a to-do list? affirmations? Huh? You're saved the New Age stuff because I don't do it, but you shouldn't be surprised that big problems have small solutions. "One day at a time" is a small solution to a big problem. "One task at a time" will get me closer to managing my life well - until the next slump.

So what do I need here? A different approach to the work I do in the gym; some tweaks to the diet; a change of employer for a minimum fifteen per cent pay increase; a re-think about the way I dress... It's Review Time. There are some thing's I've been doing over and over that aren't getting me any results, while some of the things I do, do get results. Any time you can spot which one is which, let me know? Until then, I will need to experiment.