I love to teach. Look at my writeups, look at my chatter, look at anything about my life. Teaching is my life. I lost my teaching job. Budget cuts and red tape has sent me to become unemployed. I applied/called to over 40 schools: no results. Believe it or not, it is not the income I worry about. It is not the lack of seniority wasting away. It is truly the lack of life in my life.

I feel the drive still. I feel the burning desire to achieve so much. I can still feel it. I know those fires need stoked to keep my aspirations breathing. I am driven by an urge to retain so much passion in what I do but become frustrated every morning simply by waking. I need to feel awake when I wake.

Is this the forum for these concerns? Who knows, argue it if you want, you all love to argue. But I am a firm believer in positive thinking and just support to bring about positive change in life. This may seem like a trivial situation, tons of people are unemployed. Think about it this way: I would teach for free if I could. I have essentially lost my life. There are so many minute details that leave me with the loss of teaching: coaching, money for coasters, and the overall ability to strive towards my life’s work of education.

I have grown quite fond of this place and these people. If you, my writing brethren (in the neuter sense), would keep a good thought for me, I’d appreciate it more than you know.

London in chaos during the rush hour

I am reflecting on my journey home yesterday, and that of other work colleagues.

Working late having just fixed a problem with a financial application, I found out because one of the operators came through to the office, announcing that there was no power to South East London. No problem I thought, as I live in West London.

Then, apparently it transpired that there were no tube trains running. The operator suggested that it might be an opportunity to earn some "overtime". He is a fairly sarcastic person, who had a gleefull expression throughout. My parting comment was that I have other means of getting home.

Noticing the big queues outside Aldgate station (with shut barriers), I crossed over the road to the bus station. I noticed a bus with "Paddington" on the front. "Excellent", I thought, "Here is a bus that will take me to a mainline railway terminal, from which run trains that go to Acton, where I live."

I boarded this bus, among a crowd of many commuters who don't normally use London buses. Many were using their mobile phones to inform partners of their travel situation.

The bus progressed slowly, as the traffic in the City of London was heavy, and it was also raining quite hard. At many stops, passengers were jostling to get on, only to be told that the bus was full.

The bus queued to go past Trafalgar Square, and eventually passed Piccadilly Circus at 8:30. As I was confident that the bus was going to Paddington, I felt a certain amount of pity for the many queueing passengers on the pavements of the West End.

Horror of Horrors, when approaching Oxford Circus, the bus turned into Hanover Square, to a stop where bus routes terminate. The driver flashed the lighting off and on (a signal for everyone to get off). We all did despite much protest that we were expecting the bus to go to Paddington.

Oxford Street had a more or less continuous stream of full buses, all refusing to take more passengers. These included some Routemasters with open backs, where conductors were standing with their arms straddling the gangway.

A walk in Soho

The rain had subsided slightly, and I decided to explore some streets around the back of Oxford Circus. I found several bars (I won't call them pubs) not to my liking, a complete lack of real ale.

As the rain had subsided, I strolled further, towards where I remembered were some good pubs. Crossing over Regent Street, finding Kingly Street, I hoped to find a favoured pub I remembered from 15 years ago - sadly the pub is still there, but has changed beyond all recognition, and no real ale is available.

A further turn, and I see the coloured lighting of Carnaby Street, and I remember that it is near to a wine bar where a journalist friend of mine used to hang out. Turning into Marshall Street, I couldn't find the wine bar.

Strolling further into Soho, I stumble on The Blue Posts, which I remember from several evening excursions with my journalistic friend. The pub is still a pub, and is serving real ale. "Fine", I think to myself, "I can always phone for a taxi from here to get me home".

Three pints and several conversations later, I think it would be a good idea to check whether the tubes are back in action, and also that I would like to try and get to West London in time for a drink. Walking to Tottenham Court Road station, I find that the tubes are still closed. But I notice that the buses are emptier, and the queueing passengers not so frantic.

More frustration in West London

I board a bus to Hammersmith, which still takes an age to get through the queueing traffic of Knightsbridge and Kensington High Street. The bus eventually pulls into Hammersmith bus station at three minutes to 11. Dashing off the bus to the nearest pub, I get to the bar. Sadly I was told that it was too late to serve me despite my protests. Cursing the pub and English closing time, I head back for the bus station and another bus home.

Total end-to-end journey time 5 hours (but this included the stop in the middle at Soho).

For what I'm roughly estimating to be the sixth or seventh time, I'm trying to quit smoking. Well, it's not just me. My wife is also accompanying me on this trip into a chemically-deprived hell.

Don't misconstrue that last statement; I really am quitting. Granted, the whole issue of smoking (and its inherent health risks) is mostly the territory of my wife. That would be the fundamental difference between smoking for well over a decade and a half, and smoking for over half a decade. One of the reasons it appeals to me is the assload of cash we will find ourselves not spending on cancer sticks. This money will come in handy when we go to buy our toys in the next few months.

Unfortunately, as any smoker or ex-smoker will tell you, quitting is quite like your best friend has died. As an added bonus, there's a little voice in your head reminding you of this every few minutes. To you want your best friend to die? No, of course not. That's why quitting is so damn hard.

My wife suggested a system that just might work, and it's the plan that we're currently working on. We're cutting back one cigarette a day every week until they're all gone. Right now, we're at 26 cigarettes a day, dropping to 25 next Monday. Normally, this isn't a problem during the weekdays, as eight hours stuck in an office tends to create a glut of cigarettes for after-work consumption. However, weekends can be a hellish exercise is clock-watching. Eventually, we may try to distract ourselves from cigarettes with a good old-fashioned workout, but right now we feel was too damn lazy to consider going to a gym.

It's not going too bad so far. Of course, staring down a three-day weekend doesn't feel very good. I've never felt such a level of dismay and alarm over a Monday off before.

p.s. - happy 34th anniversary mom and dad.

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