Use the force.

I have written in the past about the world’s most annoying man. For those that can’t be bothered reading that post, I’m referring to a guy from my office. He is one of those people that has the power to annoy you just by walking into a room. It’s uncanny.

Well, today he leaves. He was kinda managed out. I think it became apparent to him that no one wanted him here. But it’s funny how your feelings about someone can change when you realise that you won’t see them again. There is still no doubt that the man is up there in my top 5 most irritating people, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about how he feels.

The most interesting thing about the guy in question is that he is the only middle aged person I know that loves Star Wars. Not just loves – is obsessed by. He keeps weapons under his desk and his phone number is made up of the words YODA and JEDI. We just had his farewell morning tea and his leaving gift was a light saber. To be fair, it’s pretty cool…

I organised the morning tea and a farewell lunch. I’ve gone soft. It started when he told me he was leaving in the coffee room and he was trying not to cry. My heart broke for him. I’ve always known that underneath his peskiness he means well – he just has social issues.

So all in all, it’s a good thing that he’s leaving. Working here will be a lot less stressful on a daily basis. But a part of me will miss him.

Annoying guy, I wish you well.

The rest of my life.

Today is a beautiful day. I was driving to the office this morning thinking how happy I am to be alive. It’s strange how the weather can have such an impact on how I feel. It has made me rather contemplative. I’ve learned to make the most of these moods. Sort of an emotional spring clean. I am able to be quite philosophical about things that are usually more difficult to confront.

So I was thinking about how I’ve been struggling over the last 6 months or so with the changes in my life. I understand for the first time what it is to mourn your youth. Not that I’m particularly old, but the days of being completely irresponsible are behind me. If I want a future that doesn’t hold regret I need to buckle down now and do the hard yards.  You do pay a price for bad choices. And that’s a difficult realisation.

All this thinking came about as the result of a conversation I had with a friend in the weekend. I realised that I have been harbouring some resentment towards her for some time. I hadn’t realised quite how unfair of me that was. I love her very much, but our relationship has always been turbulent. There are undercurrents of discomfort that we can’t seem to clear. And I’ve realised that part of that is my fault. I have been unconsciously blaming her for some of the changes in my life that I have been fearing and now I can see that. It’s a relief.

I told her all of this yesterday and I feel liberated by it. To have taken responsibility for my feelings has helped me to put them into perspective. Now I can sort them out in my head and deal with the things that need to be dealt with. I can put aside the bad bits and embrace the good ones.

So today is a good day. It’s the start of the rest of my life.

Sluggish

Whoa. I’m having one of those weeks when I feel like I’m doing everything with a 20kg weight on my back. There is nothing particularly wrong, I’m just on a go slow. I got to the gym this morning and half way through the warm up I knew it was going to be an effort. There will be no boxing at lunch time. And that’s serious.

My mum would describe how I’m feeling as sluggish. It’s the perfect word. It’s onamatapoeic. I’m dragging my limbs around like strips of rubber. I’m not sure what it is that is causing it. I suspect perhaps just a bit of burnout. I also had a few drinks over the weekend and these days my finely-tuned-baby-making-machine-like body doesn’t cope as well as it used to in the days when I could drink any human being under the table. Twice.

I really don’t have much call to moan. This time next week I’ll be living it up on the sunny Gold Coast. Shaun and I are heading over there for a holiday to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. It’s a fun park holiday. I realise that it may be hard for people to believe this, due to my usually subdued personality and fear of excitement, but I love love love roller coasters so we’re going to spend our days being crazy and our nights… being crazy.

I’m having a bit of a moral dilemma at the moment. Because Shaun was away during the most crucial days of this fertility cycle, the chances of me being knocked up are even slimmer than usual – which makes them virtually non-existant. As a result, I’ve been caffeinating myself up. You hear of people that get pregnant at times like this – the times when they thought there was no way. Do you think it’s possible that I’ll have a foetal-caffeine-syndrome baby? Perhaps it’ll do everything faster than the average person.

Hey! That sounds kinda familiar…!

Family matters

Last weekend I did something that I felt incredibly apprehensive about. I flew down to Wellington for the day with my brother. That in itself wasn’t an issue. But we were going down to confront the mother of his child about the future of Dave’s relationship with his son. I’ve talked before of the terrible mess that this has become and of how much hurt and damage she has done to our family. If it was over anything other than a child we could probably put it away and get on with our lives. But he’s our blood. You can’t ignore that.

The relationship between my nephew’s parents (she has since married) and my brother has been tenuous at best, for the past 5 years. There have been more tears shed than I ever thought I’d see. There has been manipulation and cruelty. I don’t know my own nephew.

So we went down to talk things through and to attempt to find a way going foward. We didn’t know what to expect, but we had learned to expect animosity. I went as support and to mediate should it be required, because in the past Dave has been pressured into doing things that weren’t fair. We were both nervous. There is a trick that I use when I am teaching new trainees in the phoneroom at Youthline when they are nervous. I remind them that the person on the other end of the phone is more nervous. It helps.

So we got down there and things went so unbelievably well that I still marvel at it. It would seem that over the last few months there has been a change in mindset and they want the same things that we do. For my brother to have a relationship with his son. At least, that’s what they say.

I really, really hope it’s true.

Kiwi and proud

On Tuesday night I met a cyberfriend in real life. We e-met a couple of years ago and have kept in fairly constant contact, but he lives in Australia and this is the first time he has travelled to New Zealand. It was really cool to hang out with him. It’s interesting being in the presence of someone you know so well but have never met.

It was interesting for another reason as well. I saw my country through the eyes of someone that has never seen it before. Australia is our close neighbour and is very similar in lots of ways, but very different in others. We have a friendly rivalry in the ‘I-can-say-what-I-like-about-them-but-if-you-do-I’ll-hit-you’ kind of way. Like with a sibling.

There were three things that struck my Aussie friend as different about us Kiwis. The first was how friendly we are to strangers. He was stunned by the number of people that strike up conversation over absolutely nothing with people they see at the bus stop, or in shops, or even just on the street. Anywhere at all really. It wasn’t something that occurred to me. That’s just how it is. And I’m glad.

The second thing was the number of luxury cars, another thing that I just take for granted. I have several friends that drive them. Ferraris and Lambourghinis are nothing out of the ordinary. People don’t usually own them of course, but they’re certainly not uncommon. I have since learned that Auckland one of the highest rates of Ferraris per capita in the world.

The last thing (and the one I am most proud of) is that we are proud to be New Zealanders. He noticed that lots of people wear t-shirts carrying NZ slogans and imagery. And it’s true. We have a great degree of national pride. And hell – that’s no surprise!

If you’ve ever been to New Zealand, you’ll understand why.

Not feeling the love

So. Valentine’s Day, huh? Seasoned readers will know that I’ve had a fairly patchy history as far as this particular day goes. I’ve inadvertantly brought a man to his knees, as well as had my heart broken by the biggest weirdo to walk the face of the earth. Those are significant occurrences for someone that isn’t really into the celebration. I like the idea of celebrating love, but I struggle a little with the commercial side of it. I wasn’t brought up in a family that placed much stock in it. Love is really something that should be celebrated more than just one day of the year. To be fair, I think that Valentine’s Day in this country has developed a bit over the last couple of decades. I certainly don’t remember making cards or anything at primary school.

This morning when I was driving to work I noticed shops with balloons and streamers all over the show. I guess they are probably selling flowers for twice their normal price. My wedding anniversary is in 4 days time and I remember at the time that we got married people recommended that we make it just after, rather than just before Valentine’s day, unless we wanted to pay a premium for our floral bits. That’s crazy talk.

As it turns out, my Valentine isn’t even in the country today. Well, my husband isn’t, and he made the cunning move of giving me diamonds that say ‘stay the hell away’ from quite a distance. I thought he was spoiling me. Now I know otherwise.

I did a shift at Youthline last night and we had calls from people lamenting the fact that they were going to be alone today. There was a guy who punishes himself by watching girly movies (the soppy kind, not the dirty kind) and getting depressed. I pointed out to him that Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are depressing even on a good day. On a serious note, I was really surprised at how affected he was.

I wonder if it’s a day that is more celebrated in the US than it is here. On all the TV shows we watched as kids it was a big deal. People would count up the number of cards they received. Talk about pressure… Here it’s more about trying to get a restaurant booking. They seem to run shifts. You go in at 6pm and have to be out by 8pm so the next lot can come in. That sure sounds like a relaxing evening.

So I’m going to spend my Valentine’s kicking the crap out of my trainer, followed by dinner with my cats, then a drink with the girls. Apparently it’s a great night to go out if you’re single.

After all, if you can’t pull on Valentine’s day…

All by myself

Shaun is in Germany for 9 days so I’m flying solo. Well, solo with two cats. When he left last weekend it seemed like quite a long time to be alone and I wasn’t sure I was that keen on it. As it turns out, I’m enjoying my own company. I can eat fish for dinner every night – Shaun hates it. I can sleep in the middle of the bed. There is no one beside me snoring and breathing on me all night. There is no cricket on the TV.

On the flip side, I have to get up at quarter past 5 to make the bed every morning and come home to feed the cats before going out in the evenings. If I leave the car in town I have to run and get it in the morning. I have to take the rubbish out and hang the washing. And it feels weird having conversations with animals.

The most ironic thing about the whole situation is that it would seem that this cycle of fertility treatment is actually working but I’m missing one important half of the equation so it’s going to go to waste. On the up side, I know that it can work. That doesn’t make the frustration any less however…

The thing I notice the most about being alone, aside from just having someone around, is going to parties by myself. You don’t have a ‘home base’ and seem to spend the whole time sort of floating. So this weekend I’m going to a few social functions with a variety of random single friends as dates. I’ve had to make it clear that I’m not putting out though. 🙂

Cleaning up the world

That’s a slight exaggeration. It wasn’t really the world we were cleaning up. It was just one beach. But it’s a start…

In 2001, an amazing New Zealander was killed by pirates whilst on some sort of Amazonian mission. Sir Peter Blake is best known as the guy that won us the America’s Cup. More importantly, he dedicated his life to cleaning up the world’s oceans. He sailed around the world 5 times (not in a row of course) and became aware of the deterioration of the cleanliness of the oceans. He made it his aim to teach us about the importance of water to our quality of life. As New Zealanders, the ocean is a part of our existance. In Auckland you can’t look out the window without seeing it.

When Sir Peter died, a trust was started up in his name. The goal of that trust is to encourage environmental awareness. The company that I work for is in partnership with the trust and they encourage us to take two days leave a year in order to help clean up the coastline.

New Zealand beaches are comparitively clean in a global sense. I’ve been to many countries where otherwise beautiful stretches of coastline are ruined by lines of rubbish at the high tide mark. Indonesia is especially bad. McDonalds and KFC packaging litters the golden sand for as far as the eye can see. It’s sickening.

So yesterday my team spent the morning collecting rubbish from a beach and documenting what we found. It was pretty disappointing. To be fair, we only collected a couple of cleansacks full of rubbish over about a km of coastline, but in a relatively unspoiled country where rubbish bins are plentiful, there is just no excuse for littering.

I learned that it takes 2 years for orange peel to biodegrade. That’s phenomenal. It’s nothing compared to glass however, which apparently takes a million years (how the hell they know that I have no idea).

The picking up of the rubbish itself is never going to make a difference without education. So next time you go to drop something on the ground, don’t.

We only get this one world.

It’s a res/v olution.

I have a confession to make. Last weekend I wore clothes to a wedding. Shocker, I know. The first wedding for the year and I break my resolution. I have no resolve. As it turns out, it was probably a good thing. It was a very hot day and it was outside. I would have gotten terrible sunburn.

When it comes to my other resolutions for the year, I’m doing quite well. (It is important to note at this point that I don’t believe in new years resolutions – I think you should make them when they need to be made.) I’ve managed to read the paper every weekend so far. I’ve started a new system where I do a chore, then sit down and read a section, go to the gym, sit down and read a section… and so on. It’s working for me and the weekends are feeling more like the long weekends of summer should, rather than my old whirlwind of activity.

The biggest change though, is to my workload. At the end of last year I was getting burned out. I was stressed and distressed and something had to give. So now I’m saying no to jobs. Well, not exactly saying no, but setting reasonable deadlines. Yesterday I was offered an invitation design job for a high end cocktail party. They wanted the artwork ready to go to print this weekend. 2 days. The old me would have said “No problem” and then stayed up all night last night to get it done. But not the new me. Hell no. Not the me that is conserving her energy to get pregnant. That me said “Sorry, I couldn’t guarantee to have it to you before Monday” so they went elsewhere. Rather than feeling disappointed I felt completely elated. I went home after kickboxing last night and got to enjoy the rest of the evening eating dinner on the deck with Shaun. When the sun went down I did some work on my wedding album and then started a new book.

Just like a normal person!