The best and the worst of it

Well, this weekend was a pretty good end to a full on year. One of my girlfriends has an annual Christmas party on the last weekend of work. This year it was a costume party. The theme was originally Christmas and Easter (for no particular reason) so I decided to go as an Easter chicken. As it turned out, people just wore anything they wanted. The chicken suit was a huge hit. Considering the fact that it’s the middle of summer here, it was rather hot, but I didn’t let that stop me from being ridiculous.

Family photo
The virgin Mary and the chicken

In many ways, this year was a hard one for me. This time last year I had assumed that I’d be well on the way to being a mother by now. Obviously that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe next year. While I am not someone that believes that everything  happens for a reason, I do recognise that in one way this process is a blessing. I have had time to come to terms with both the physical and psychological changes that being a parent is going to require. I have had time to prepare myself and my environment for the future. Many people don’t have that opportunity.

I had no idea how hard it would be to run a company as well as having a full time job. As my business took off, my stress levels rose. For the first time in my life I understood what work stress was about. It’s not that I haven’t worked hard before, it’s more that I’m generally not adversely affected by stress. But this stumped me. It probably has something to do with the number of hormone pills I’m being fed on a monthly basis. I have to figure out some coping mechanisms.

But I think by far the most difficult thing for me this year has been watching my mother having to cope with stress. I don’t like to see this infallible person fall apart. For my entire life mum has been superwoman. She has picked us up and given us strength. This year I began to see how it might be in the future as she ages. I’m starting to see how much energy it takes to be the centre of someone’s universe.

On the flip side, some fantastic things happened in 2007. We moved into our new house. It was everything I hoped it would be. It felt like home the moment we walked in, and every evening when I pull into that driveway I get a renewed feeling of how incredibly fortunate I am. 

For all the difficulties it has brought – I am grateful for the success of my business. It has taken off faster than I ever believed. I enjoy the extra income and the future security that it provides.

Without a doubt, my number one best pick for 2007 is the success that my brother has achieved this year. After two years of hard work, misery and mistreatment, his star has finally risen. He’s now recognised in Auckland as one of the best bar operators around and for the first time since he embarked on this mission, he can rest on his laurels, should he choose to (which so far he hasn’t). I am proud to share my name with him (that would be Hawk, not Sarah).

So aside from a couple of blips in happiness, 2007 has served me well.

Now I’m off to enjoy my summer. There will be sporadic blogging at best until mid January, when I’ll return tanned, relaxed and more ridiculous than ever.

Here’s to 2008. It’s gonna be a blinder.

Leaching all the fun out of life

I was talking with some people at work yesterday about something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I guess it’s something that I have a fairly strong opinion about. I am most acutely aware of it when I am talking to my mother in law. I’m talking about the rigidity with which we rule society these days. I believe it’s getting out of control.

It seems that we are trying to put rules and regulations in place to try and stop every conceivable bad thing that someone might do. We try to protect our children from childhood.

There are some rules that are sensible, like having to wear a helmet whilst riding a bike. But I remember loving childhood and all the things that being a kid meant. Riding bikes up and down the street without having a parent watching. They were happy in the house knowing that we wouldn’t go far. Walking to school by ourselves. Playing Go Home Stay Home with the neighbourhood kids after dark. Having fireworks at Guy Fawkes. Going Trick or Treating in packs, without adults. Everyone on the street used to watch out for everyone else’s kid. You can’t do that now for fear of retribution. To discipline someone else’s child is tantamount to assault these days. If a man picks up a little girl that has fallen over he might be branded a paedophile.

When we moved house I commented to my mother in law that it’ll be close to the primary school so our kids can walk. She was horrified that I’d let my kids walk (less than 1km) to school by themselves. Bloody hell. You can’t protect everyone from everything. How the hell do you expect them to learn any lessons?

It is true that I have a pretty strong view when it comes to this. I believe that you just have to put your faith in humanity to a certain degree. We seem to be breeding fear amongst ourselves. Yesterday the conversation was about this little old lady that is no longer allowed to sell the cookies that she bakes at a Farmer’s Market because she doesn’t have a commercial kitchen license. She’s probably been selling those bloody cookies for about 10 years. We’re starting to self-implode.

You can’t protect people from life. And why would you want to?

If you don’t live, you might as well be dead.

The gift of giving

I have always loved giving gifts. I like to think hard on what it is that someone will really love. It seems so ridiculous to me to spend heaps of cash on a million gratuitous gifts that no one actually wants, just because the obligation is there. Some of the coolest things I have received have been from my brother in times when he is stone cold broke and has had to think outside of the square and give plants or similarly don’t-break-the-bank style gifts. 

My dad has always been king of the gift-you-get-for-someone-so-you-can-use-it-yourself. Like the year he got my mother the self-buttering-microwave-popcorn-popper. Interestingly, I have found myself getting more and more like him. I hadn’t realised it until the weekend when we were choosing a birthday present for a friend. We got him remote control jousting knights. Boy were they brilliant! Plastic horses on wheels that are ridden by little men with big sticks. Hmmmm…. Anyway, I jousted for about half an hour before the red horse broke and we had to take the gift home to get it replaced.

This year, my inlaws have come up with a new gifting scheme, which is a stroke of genius. It’s based on the secret santa scheme of old, but it’s not secret. Each person draws a name and had a spending limit. That way everyone is guaranteed to get one well though out gift and no one has to go hungry through lack of Christmas funds. As it turns out, everyone seems to have called up their giftee to ask what they want anyway. And why not? At least I know I’m getting a pile of summer holiday reading, rather than several coffee mugs that will join the growing pile of coffee mugs in coffee mug heaven.

Another thing that has changed for me this year is that for the first time in my life, I couldn’t care less about presents. Christmas is now about holidays and hanging out with my family.

When did I turn into an adult?

Pay up.

If you read this post a while back you’ll know that we had a few issues with the guys that moved our furniture to our new house a few months back. They damaged our fridge and have continued to screw us around for the last 4 months. Being the righteous bitch that I am, there was no way I was going to let them get away with that. To have the fridge door repaired is going to cost over $500. Considering the damage was through no fault of our own, I don’t really want to pay it. Add to that the fact that the guy who is supposed to be paying it is being a complete a-hole, there is not way in hell that I’m going to pay it.

So we took it to court. The Disputes Tribunal, to be more accurate. Kinda like a court, only not. It costs $30 to lodge a dispute. The ‘judge’ is more of a mediator. They tend to be Justice of the Peaces or retired judges. There are no lawyers.  The Tribunal makes a ruling and then it’s up to us to police that. If we have no luck, we can apply to the courts for help.

So I spent heaps of time preparing my statement. I got my sister-lawyer to courtify it for me and off we went. I was full of fire and ready to take on the nasty man. There was a snag however. The nasty man didn’t show up. So we won.

He now has 10 days to pay us. I’m not holding out high hopes. The fact that he has ignored us for months and then didn’t show up to the hearing implies that he is such an idiot that he’s hardly likely to find any intelligence now.

Which is fine. If he doesn’t, we can get a bailiff to go over and start seizing stuff off him. That would be highly entertaining.

The thing that stuns me the most is that he doesn’t even own the moving company – he just works for them. I wonder how his boss will feel about him if a bailiff DID show up.

You’re a printer, so print, goddamnit.

I need it to be holidays. Now. I need to never look at another wedding invitation as long as I live. I need to kick the shit out of my printer like I’ve never kicked the shit out of anything before – and believe me, I’ve done some kicking.

This invitation design business isn’t an easy one. Well, the actual design business is – I love that bit. But when it comes to printing and finishing the things, something always seems to go wrong. Now, with 3 jobs to get out before Christmas, my printer has started outputting these weird stripes across everything. And it’s not likely that I’ll be able to get it fixed in time.

The most annoying bit about it is that wedding invitations generally come hand in hand with clients that are more than a little stressed. Some of them are great – and some of them need to be lined up next to the printer for the kick-fest.

I am so incredibly lucky to have Shaun. He spends half his day (it would seem) running around, pulling favours to try and get things sorted for me. But there’s only so much he can do. There are times when I just have to hand over a substandard job and hope that the recipient isn’t quite as pedantic as I am. But that’s not a good feeling.

It doesn’t help that the majority of this work is done in the evenings. Sometimes I’ll be up half the night only to have to give up when something goes wrong and I run out of stock. Then I spend significantly more of the night thinking about it before I get to sleep. I can see how people get reliant on sleeping pills. I’m not even going to go there. My addictive personality would just lap that up.

So on occasion there is just nothing that can be done. I have one client at the moment who’s job I got out last week. It looked great in the end, but it was a bitch to get there. She’s hard work. Then she gets in touch with me yesterday to say she’d made a mistake on 9 of the cards and needs them reprinted urgently. Well do you think my printer could once, just once, print out 9 little cards without something going wrong? Nope. Hell no.

Anyway, something’ll work out. I always seem to land on my feet. Well, aside from the times that I fall on my face.

But I tell you what, come next Saturday when the last job has gone out, I’m partying my ass off and then I’m partying some more.

Cows and other things

This weekend hurt in all senses of the word. It started off with the company Xmas party on Friday night. Things started off relatively low key and ended up anything but. I spent a significant part of Friday setting up a typlical kiwi farm scene on the tennis court. We hired stuff from a props place. There were farm fences and gates and a full sized cow. That all went well.

It was my job to protect the cow from would be cow-wranglers during the night. That didn’t go quite so well.

Several people were intent on riding it. One guy actually wanted to dance with it. I spent a fair bit of time running diversion. As the night wore on, it became more and more difficult. I’m not sure if that’s because people got more determined or because I got more intoxicated. Probably both. Things came to a head when I spotted someone climbing the fence so I ran to the aid of my cow. I misjudged the distance quite significantly and ended up running through the fence, which disintegrated and fell down around me. I got caught on the gate which ripped a significant hole in my shirt at in an inappropriate place and took half the skin off my chest. It was kinda hard to explain the next day.

I don’t really know what happened for the rest of the night, but whatever it was, it ensured that I didn’t get out of bed until early Saturday afternoon – just in time to get washed up and dressed for the second Xmas party of the weekend. I lasted at that one for just over two hours.

Probably a good thing – I had three parties to go to yesterday. Not bad for a Sunday. I dragged myself home just before midnight after having eaten three meals and drunk three parties worth of champagne.

This Christmas thing could kill a girl.

Nothing to see here

There will be no witty or insightful blog post today. There won’t even be one of my usual posts. I’d say there’d be nothing at all, only there’s already this and I’d hate to be branded a liar.

Today I am spending the majority of the day setting up our work Christmas Party down in the marquee on the tennis court, and the majority of the night destroying all that hard work with bad behaviour. The theme is kiwiana (all things NZ for those that have no idea what the hell kiwiana is). It should be a good laugh. These parties always are.

So that’s it for today. I have vodka jellies to make and fake sheep to herd.

Over and out.

Are we there yet?

I have reached that time of year when I feel like I spend half my day staring at my screen doing nothing except wishing it was Christmas. I’m getting small tasks done, but I’m hardly being what you could call productive. I’m just hanging out for the holidays when I can wake up, get out of bed only to walk as far as the deck where I can lie down and read in the sun until it’s beer o’clock. I might interrupt that schedule for the occasional foray down to the beach, which is just across the road.

Last night Shaun gave me an exciting new present. A stunt helicopter. A toy one, obviously. Of course, I’d already found it several days ago during one of my weekly hunting-for-presents sessions. I’m saving it for our New Years holiday, where my behaviour gets more ridiculous than usual. Some stunt helicopter antics off the roof of the holiday home ought to liven things up a bit.

Until then, my days are filled with trying to find menial tasks to break up the monotony known as working. Our christmas party is tomorrow so I’ll spend hours decorating the marquee and making cocktails. Next week the array of christmas lunches ought to speed things up a bit. I might throw in a bit of desk tidying and writing birthdays into next year’s diary.

Of course what I’m really looking forward to is next weekends costume party. That is the day that The Hawk becomes The Chicken.

The Chicken

If there’s a cat hell, he’s going.

I feel like I’m doing a lot of talking lately about Chico’s bad behaviour. His daily attacks on the christmas bird tree seems to have brought it all to light. It has made me realise how amazingly well behaved Julio is (and Les was, until that awful lapse in judgement whilst crossing the road).

His daily bird’s bread collection is ongoing. It’s gotten slightly better in that now it would seem that he eats ALL the bread. These days we just come home to find piles of crumbs around the house, rather than half eaten slices.

His evening vigil in front of his bowl in order to quickly scoff both lots of food before Julio gets there is also still in full force. I then have to shut him out of the room so that he doesn’t eat the second lot that I put down. Surely he’s full of bread?

There is a nest of baby sparrows under the eaves on our front porch. He apparently spends the part of his day in which he isn’t collecting birds bread, collecting birds. He lies in wait for the mother to bring them down onto the lawn to learn to fly, at which stage he picks them off. I would have thought it was fairly clear by now that his diet needs no augmentation.  

And perhaps most annoyingly, his morning routine of emptying the washing machine and distributing the towels around the house hasn’t stopped. But there is a new development. I got home at lunchtime yesterday to find that he had brought home a towel that most definitely was not ours.

If he moves on to underwear I’m going to have to take action.

No more looking back.

There are some days when I just can’t really be bothered with anything. Lifting my feet at the gym seems to take more energy than it’s worth. And then I sit down at my desk and wonder how the hell I’m going to last the day. Today is one of those days. It’s not like I went out last night and had a late one. In fact I was in bed by 10pm.

I guess this is how it feels to be old. Everything just seems like hard work. I’m not someone that has ever really given much thought to getting old (aside from wanting family around me when I do, hence the trying to have children thing) although more and more lately I have been mourning my youth.

It’s not the age thing really. It’s the fact that phases of my life have been and gone and they won’t ever be back. It’s not so much a case of not feeling like I made the most of them, but perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate them for what they were at the time. And I guess in the future I’ll be feeling the same way about right now. So maybe I should step back and smell the roses.

I would have said that I was someone that dealt pretty well with change. But I’ve realised lately that I’m not. I resent the idea that other people are doing something different because I’m afraid of how it will affect my world. I make strategic choices for my future but when it comes to putting them into practice it scares the shit out of me.

I know that to resist change is not only futile but foolish. I’ve seen people get left behind. You’re so busy living in the world you know that you don’t notice everyone else moving forward. One day, you’re the only one left in that world. There aren’t many fun games that you can play by yourself.

I’m entering a new phase in my life right now. I guess in a way it’s time to become an adult. I’m completely immersed in change. There is more going on now than ever before. So I’m going to start to focus on embracing the changes.

I’m going to do more of the moving forward and less of the looking back.