This must be just like living in paradise

I am reading a book at the moment about crime in America. It is a fiction book which is set in a lower socioeconomic area on the outskirts of Hollywood. Not having been to Hollywood since I was a child, I can't comment on how accurate the book is, but it talks about residents hearing gun-shots at least twice a week. That shocked me.

It got me thinking about how lucky I am to live where I do. We are so sheltered from crime here and I'm not sure that we appreciate it enough. I have never heard a gunshot. Not in my whole life. I don't imagine that I ever will. I expect most kids that grew up on farms will have, but I'm a city girl. The closest I've come is playing paintball.

If someone is murdered in this country it is front page news. There are 40-50 murders a year, with the majority of those being the result of domestic violence. We are outraged when we are victims of graffiti.

There is other crime. I have been the victim of a really bad burglary. I have had my car stolen a couple of times. The increase in the use of P (pure methamphetamine or crack) here is scary, and there is a corresponding increase in violent crimes, but you can still walk around at night by yourself in any part of the city without being afraid. It has never occurred to me not too.

Every New Zealander knows that this is a wonderful place to live. We are strongly patriotic, but I'm not sure that any of us really stop and think about how lucky we are, faced with the alternatives.


The virus

I am watching the breakdown of a relationship. It was a good relationship for over a year – outwardly anyway. Unfortunately, it has a virus. It’s called distrust.

It began under less than ideal circumstances – they were both seeing other people. They justified their behaviour by telling themselves that their respective relationships were doomed anyway and that it was just a matter of time. This turned out to be true. It tends to happen that way when you fall in love with someone else.

Anyway – that was a long time ago and it is pretty much forgotten. Unfortunately though, that old saying about a leopard not changing it’s spots has a lot of truth in it. I am a believer in second chances, but it would have to cast a shadow over things. It would be hard to feel 100% secure getting into a relationship with someone that has a track record of dishonesty.

In this particular case, the virus has begun to show symptoms. There are phone messages and texts from someone who is clearly a girl, but is stored in his phone as John. He denies any wrong doing – but it begs the question, why John?

In this situation do you decide to forgive and get on with your life, or do you move on before you get played for a fool? The thing is, even if you forgive this indiscretion, can you believe a word he says any more?

The distrust virus is like herpes. Once you get it, it never really goes away.

Kitchen utensils

I have just had another accident with the breadknife. That makes 3 serious accidents involving kitchen utensils and my fingers in the last couple of months. I'm not sure what it is that I am doing differently from usual, or why I have suddenly gotten so clumsy just after we got all these new sharp knives and graters, but it really has to stop.

On the plus side, I didn't faint this time – probably as a result of the regular exposure to my own blood. Now I am able to remain upright and yell for Shaun to come and do the first aid. I am aware that once the injury is sustained, it is best that I don't look at it until it is properly healed. It's a coping mechanism.

Today I was cutting some bread with the bread knife when I put it through the end of my middle finger. Last time it was my index finger, and the time before it was my thumb – although that was the grater, not the knife.

Maybe I should get some chain-mail gloves. 

Corporate chat.

I work in a large corporation as part of an IT department consisting of 15 people. We've all been working together for a while and are pretty tight. Every Friday lunchtime we go down to the pub for a couple of hours and have a few drinks. It's become tradition and Friday just isn't the same if we don't go.

A good portion of Friday morning consists of planning which pub to go to. In the past that has meant either shouting up and down the office, or sending emails back and forwards. Our head office is in Singapore and they make many of the decisions as far as systems go. We recently changed from Exchange to Oracle email and the result has been disasterous. Some people get emails instantly while others get them half a day later. This throws a serious spanner into pub planning.

Luckily they seem to have inadvertantly come up with a solution.

Yesterday we all installed Oracle Chat. Now sitting at your PC chatting is condoned. Anyone who has ever used any kind of chat program knows that if you are in a conference chat, you don't get any other work done. We spent all morning in a conference talking about where to go, then we went, and now we're back. And boozed.

The funniest thing is that there is just one guy that can't seem to install it. He keeps wondering what everyone else is laughing at.

I’m in business baby!!

Today has been exciting. I just picked up my new business cards. Now it feels like I am officially in business. Well, it felt pretty official the other night when I tried to do my tax return. Like the idiot I often am, I registered as a sole trader exactly one week before the end of the tax year. Now I have to do a tax return for 7 days. Not the most cunning of starts.

I have been creating corporate identities for other people for months now, but I've sort of had a block when it comes to my own. Funny that. I guess there is that pressure of knowing that my own branding is pretty much my portfolio. People have been asking for my card for a while and it's felt pretty unprofessional saying that I don't have one.

So now I do.

Eye For Design - front of card Eye for Design - front of card


Dodgy tradesmen

Twice in the last week we have called tradesmen because we need something done around the house. It is a fairly new thing for us – my husband is one of those people that seems to think he can fix anything. Unfortunately he always makes “just a little mistake”. Like when he cut all the rods for every wardrobe in our house just 1 inch short. Or when he put every sheet of gib in my new office up backwards. He told me it was an honest mistake. Anyone could have done it. What? Anyone would have spent the day reading “This side to stud” while they nailed the sheets up?

It’s nothing new to me. Dad is the same, so I grew up with it. He would buy things in kitsets and it was my job to help him put them together. Things like bbq tables, or cd stands. We’d spend the day making the thing, and when we were done there would be “spare parts” and we would have to give the thing “one little tap” to make the last bit fit. On good days the tap worked. On not so good days, the entire thing would explode into pieces that didn’t fit back together.

One time he decided that we would put up a rechargeable kitchen unit for mum. He had to drill through the tile splash back but didn’t know where the wires were. I had to stand beside him with gumboots on my hands in case he hit a current. I was supposed to push him off. He was 90kgs. I was 5 years old.

Anyway, the point of this post is really about tradesmen. We have a tile roof on our house. There is a leak in it which Shaun decided to fix with some sort of filling compound the week before last. He lasted about 2 minutes on the roof, when he returned and said he didn’t know where to start. I was relieved and told him to call someone in. He did.

The guy never showed up. Shaun went home from work one day and sat and waited. No roof guy, no phone call. Rude.

The following week we called a chimney sweep. He came and told us that there are some bricks that need recementing and that he would return later in the week.

The guy never showed up. Shaun went home from work one day and sat and waited. No chimney guy, no phone call. Rude.

What’s with that?

Watching it all go up in smoke.

When I was 12 mum and dad went away for the weekend and we were looked after by a family friend who was in his 20's. One night he had a big party and we were just hanging out, thinking we were cool and probably annoying the crap out of everyone. I don't remember much of the evening, except that everyone was smoking. The next day we were helping him clean up and I found half a cigarette that hadn't been smoked because it was torn. I'm not sure what made me decide to try it. I think it was just curiosity.

It's funny, because you hear people talk all the time about the first time they smoked and how disgusting it was, or how it made them cough their lungs out. Or whatever. It wasn't like that for me. I was pretty much instantly addicted.

I started sneaking cigarettes as often as I could. I would lock the door to the bathroom that I shared with my brother and sister, and stand under the air extractor so that it didn't go under the door. Once Mary came in and caught me. The lock must have broken. She screamed at the top of her lungs and I couldn't stop her. That was how mum and dad found out.

It was the start of a long love affair with smoking. Much to my parent's disgust, I didn't kick the habit then and there. I went to school in Australia a couple of years later and started smoking full time. It was a good way to make friends in a new school, because there would always be groups of people hiding down the back of the field smoking and watching out for teachers. We became co-conspirators.

My smoking continued throughout the rest of my schooling, and through university. It reached a stage where I was smoking a pack a day during the week, and 2 or more on the weekends. When I was out drinking I would pretty much chain smoke.

When I graduated and moved back to Auckland I started getting into exercise in a big way. I was confronted with a new dilemma. I loved the high I got from working out, but smoking was getting in the way of fitness. I wasn't prepared to compromise on either. I cut back slightly to about half a pack a day, but the addiction was so strong that I had no control over it. Smoking was increasingly becoming an anti-social passtime and eventually the government told us that in one year it would be illegal to smoke in pubs and restaurants.

That, along with the fact that the addiction was the one thing in my life over which I felt I had no control (and it went against everything I believed in with regard to respecting my body) made me decide that something had to be done.

I tried nicotine laced gum. I tried patches. I tried cold turkey. Nothing worked. I could quit for a week or so, but the first time I drank I'd reach for the ciggies. I was hating myself for it.

3 years ago I hit upon the idea of hypnotherapy. It was an absolute blinder. I had 2 one hour sessions (at $120 per session) and I quit then and there. All the therapist did was brought to the forefront of my consiousness all the reasons that I hated smoking. He made me realise that it is about self-respect. I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone that is thinking of quitting.

I'd be lying if I said I'd never smoked a single cigarette since then, but I can say for sure that I now have complete control over when and if I choose to smoke.

Never again will I be a slave to the nicotine.