S02E14

Our house. In the middle of our street.

This week in funemployment news: my partner and I are going through the process of buying a property.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Buying a property is a good demonstration of how rich people stay rich. It’s also a great insight into a system that has a lot of moving parts and a user journey that looks like a rollercoaster had offspring with Escher.

It has also entirely validated my use of Trello. ORGANISE ALL THE THINGS.

We’ve been scouting a newly built flat for while, looking to prop up the London housing bubble by using Help To Buy. We’ve been shopping around and settled on a two-bed, so we can have a home office. With any luck, working from home is going to become more and more common, and it’s nice to be prepared.

Help To Buy ISAs seem like a con, by the way. You save in the hope of getting a 25% bonus from the folks in government, but you can’t use it at exchange when you hand over the deposit. The deposit, which represents 5% of the total value of the property (in London). This is easily the largest amount of money you part with, but you can’t use your ISA for that. You also can’t use it for anything else. The idea seems to be that you spend it on the property at completion. Which is…frustrating. The barrier to people buying houses is scraping together £20,000 for a deposit.

Anyway. The way round this we found was asking our solicitor to negotiate the deposit down by the amount we’d have in the ISA by completion.

PSA: You can negotiate everything when you buy absurdly expensive things. Nobody expects you to pay the sticker price. I would love to know where that line is. I wouldn’t negotiate a bar of Dairy Milk (£2.00) but I would negotiate a flat (£450,000). Somewhere between those two data points is “the line at which this item is so wildly expensive I feel comfortable calling your bluff and making a case that it cannot possibly cost as much as you’re asking”.

We’re buying “off plan”, which means “based on drawings”. That’s enough to make a person nervous, but there’s a mirror-image of the building already built that we’ve seen inside.

Then there’s the paperwork. It’s not a well designed system. I’ve clearly been spoiled by GOV.UK, but I’d really like a friendly page. Here’s one I made earlier.

NOT REAL. Made for fun.

The most difficult thing is choosing the right mortgage broker and solicitors. With a new build the developers will have set up one each of these, because of course it’s in their best interests for you to move quickly — they generally like to get to exchange, when you hand over your deposit and are contractually bound to follow through, within 28 days of reserving. Yikes.


So we’ve had to move quickly. There are plenty of comparison sites out there, and they do a great job. Somewhat too much of a good job, perhaps, since my partner and I were completely paralysed by choice. We’ve gone with companies that will remain temporarily nameless, depending on how well we get on with them. So far so good. Both our solicitors and mortgage brokers seem quite experienced, so that’s a bit of a relief.

There’s still a lot of paperwork to sign. I’m glad we’re now at the place in time when I can use my phone to scan documents and email them back, but I can’t help thinking that we’d be in a better place with an encrypted signature. I won’t get onto a soapbox about state-implemented public-key encryption here. Suffice it to say: there is a better way.

So now it’s Friday. Two sets of processes are crunching along. We’re going on holiday tomorrow and taking a laptop in case there are any last minute emergencies. We’re hoping to come back to green ticks, or thumbs up, or whatever measure solicitors use to tell you that everything is going to plan.

I have some recommendations for culture this week:

HAPPY! is messed up. It’s also the best thing Christopher Meloni has ever done. It also stars Patton Oswalt, whose stand up show Annihilation remains the only stand up show that has made me cry tears of sadness. Catch both on Netflix if you’ve got it.

Our little #weeknotes community seems to be expanding apace. Keep your eyes on that twitter hashtag. My favourite from recent weeks has been this, from Nour Sidawi:

View at Medium.com

That’s all. Next week will see beaucoup d’un lovely city, and hopefully a call from my new team. I’m so excited!

S02E13

Technically underemployed

Warning: fire-hose of consciousness coming at you below. Buckle up.

Monday/Tuesday

I didn’t have to get up for work today.

Instead, I read my sister’s dissertation. I made a spinach and filo pastry pie and, in trying to do both, emptied a quarter of a pot of cayenne pepper into it.


In the afternoon I went into town for a final interview with a government department. I don’t know how it went. I am naturally pessimistic, but at the same time there were points when I had to say with honesty that I didn’t know the answer to a question.

I don’t know if it’s a good thing, but I made sure to ask the panel for the answer. I’m hoping “ignorant but curious” is better than “ignorant”, and almost as good as “knowledgeable”.

I also did a code challenge which I’m still puzzling over and playing with between lectures. I only had 45 minutes, but I can still remember it well enough that it’s been on my brain all day¹. Like a brainworm.

It was modelling a checkout. NEVER HAS A CHECKOUT BEEN SO COMPLEX

Immediately after that I had a call from a recruiter, who said I had good feedback from an interview last week. I think I’ll have another interview this week, but I find the velocity with which recruiters want to move off-putting. I appreciate that what they’re selling is almost certainly a perishable good, and I think it’s fair to say I’d struggle selling an opportunity that other people were trying to sell as well.

All the same. Let me have a couple of hours to think about things?

The sticking point I’m finding with many of these calls is that everyone, as far as I can tell, wants a full-time worker. There is not as much provision for part-time work as certain sources would give credence.

I had a surprisingly enjoyable technical interview with a multinational professional services company, so we’ll see how that shakes out.

Wednesday

Hitting that refresh button on my inbox. Day three of purposeful unemployment and I’m climbing the walls, when I ought to be revising. I’ve secured a second interview tomorrow — Thursday — with an interesting organisation that is probably the most diverse I’ve ever had the good pleasure of applying to, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.

A good friend of mine thought of me and passed on details for a young company looking to do data analytics: an exciting prospect so coffee has been organised, again for tomorrow. If I’m going into town I may as well go into town after all.

I’ve also received confirmation that I’m through to the second round for the multinational company, which means 4–8 hours of unpaid labour. It’s a bit frustrating, and deeply problematic. I’m entirely able to do this work because I’ve got no job, but for someone working a full-time job with dependents I imagine it would present a massive barrier.

It is an interesting puzzle that has been presented to me, though, so I will do it — even though it feels like a betrayal. Capitalism puts you in this sort of spot: principles are all well and good, but won’t pay the bills.

Thursday

Was offered, and accepted, a new position. Had a Nepalese to celebrate.

I’m trying to be cool because I don’t “have” the job until various things have been done. I also hope that my new manager is cool with these notes. If not — well, we’ll see.

I’m starting in June.

By the way, the offer was only the second proudest moment of the day. This most dad of all dad jokes was the number one:

I got him. I got him good.

Anyway. It was a day full of stress and minor anxiety as I fretted about turning down interviews. I am a hoarder, and that includes opportunities: I’m not as bad as Chidi Anagonye, but making big decisions is something you don’t really get daily practice in, unless you’re somewhere senior — which of course is the last place you want people who are practising making decisions.

To choose is to destroy an entire universe where I make a different choice. I can’t deal with that on my conscience.

Friday

Made quiche. Struggled with Java. Didn’t do the code challenge for the multinational. Did watch Thor Ragnarok. Feeling like this:


Java

I am learning it. I am aiming to finish the course this week and be awarded a shiny certificate, saying that I completed a beginner-level course in Java in French. I’m really genuinely excited about adding it to my resumé, but I’m currently stuck on modelling an employee.

Update: programming is the absolute most frustrating-slash-enjoyable thing in the universe, so I’m glad I’ve accepted a job to do that.


¹ If you give me a task and 45 minutes, it will haunt me forever that I didn’t complete it in that time. You can — and the interviewers did — stress that it’s about the decisions I make, about the way I communicated, and in absolutely no universe, discovered or undiscovered, can this task be completed in 45 minutes, by anyone. I’m still going to come away frustrated I couldn’t complete it.²

² Can anyone spell “massive overachiever with imposter syndrome”?