Little updates

Hi there,

It's been a while.

You probably didn't notice. I don't really know who reads this.

Anyway, quite a few things have happened in the last while.

In March 2019 I moved to Brussels, Belgium to work at the European Parliament.

I did lots of different things including going to Strasbourg for work (and seeing Greta Thunberg address Parliament), watching debates, and being part of Election Night in May.

I also went on little trips with friends to Paris, Leuven, Gent, Bruges (well, that one was with family), and then a little summer holiday road trip in France: Le Havre -> St Malo -> Mont St Michel -> Vannes -> Nantes -> La Rochelle.

My job finished in July.
I got offered another contract / promotion to stay on at the European Parliament.

August was tough - I didn't have income yet, and had little structure. I was also really not enjoying my apartment (mice, bad/weird landlord, gross kitchen, lack of washing machine, hot water that was only on at certain times). I was freaking out about money and feeling very vulnerable, combined with a bit of an identity crisis. I turned 27 and was feeling frustrated that I had not gone further in my career by now. It's difficult when our parents generation had such different circumstances to compare with. I thought I would have a house or my own large flat by this point. I don't know what else I thought I would have by now. Actually, probably 5 year old Catriona would be both impressed and disappointed. She wouldn't have guessed that I would have lived/worked in around 10 countries, but she would have hoped that I would have become a Blue Peter presenter (an example of the kind of episode I wanted to present) and/or author by now. Maybe both are still possible, in a loose sense.
Anyway back to August - it was tricky, I was miserable, I had not been this depressed since around November 2018, when I wrote this article.
I tried to keep busy with pitching news outlets / magazines etc. I started writing for a niche gardening app. Which, actually, I really enjoyed (I found writing about nature things very calming), and also completely saved my butt. My last pay from the Parliament of my previous contract was July 15th. I struggled to get work in Brussels that would start in August (who knew Brussels basically shuts down in August? Well anyway that's another topic for another day...). I started my new contract on September 2nd and I won't get paid until the end of the month. Therefore I had to survive for over 2 months without any money coming in. This gardening writing gig is weekly and really helped me out.

I moved to a new place on September 1st, and am settling in OK to my new role at the Parliament.
This weekend is a chill out one.
I've been sorting out what I call my 'cloudy brain', which is basically what happens when stressed/overwhelmed. You know when you can't think straight because you have too many tabs open in your head? When you don't have a secure place to stay, secure income, or feel comfortable in your workplace, when you are constantly tired and not able to have calm time alone - it makes your ability to be creative diminish quite significantly.
The foggy brain is clearing now, a little.

My new place is great. I have 2 pot plants, a clean kitchen where all the hobs work, a TV (?!), comfy sofas, and a separation between working/eating space and sleeping space. I live about 15-20 mins walk to work, and I get to walk past the bustling European Commission/ Council area every morning. There are parks nearby, and it is much quieter here. (There were many social problems near my last place so I heard fights/shouting regularly and drug dealers hung out in my street). I am so so happy here.

Today I spent almost all day listening to BBC Radio 4, which was interesting because it had been some time since I had listened. I hadn't realised quite how hysterically angry and mad the discussions around Brexit have become among people in the UK (I mostly only read lefty-journo Twitter, cold UK news articles, or news from across Europe). It was relaxing though (the non Brexit parts), and I forgot that I really enjoy radio as a medium.

I have clarified my 'to do' lists (rather than the 10000 random different scribbled lists on different bits of paper, chaotically sprinkled around my bags and possessions). I was given a MacBook with my new job, and that has helped a great deal too. I cannot express enough how much of a difference it makes in journalism - or any work for that matter - to have a laptop that works quickly, doesn't crash/overheat all the time, and has the right space/capacity to do what you need to do. It's just another one of those barriers to entry / not-so-invisible privileges. I would never have been able to afford this laptop otherwise.

I'm going to write something separately about privilege, class, and work.

For now, I feel good. I'm working out what I want to do in life, and what makes me happy. And that's much easier to do with a roof over my head and a regular structure to my life.

More updates on the way.

For now, Instagram Stories is where I post the most, although I am also very obsessed with Pinterest right now too...

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