Saturday, 30 July 2011

Maturity Is...

As many of the traditional rites of passage have been rendered purely symbolic by the nature of modern society, it is a lot harder to tell when you've become an adult.

Sure you're over 18, you can vote/drink/drive (not at the same time!)/get married or join the armed forces if the mood takes you, you may have landed a 'big kid' job, if you've moved out of home you are amazed that anybody has agreed to let you be in charge of a house or apartment, but you still feel kind of like you're play acting.

So if you haven't reached any of the optional milestones or if you have but neither they nor the mandatory ones seem to carry enough weight to really convince you, what will?

Whilst I still don't feel like a grown up there are several things that I've identified as personal milestones of maturity, moments that have let me realise that I've grown up a bit.
  • Acknowledging that I am never going to be sensible enough to stop fiddling with scabs so being practical enough to cover them with bandaids.
  • Thinking 'I really really don't want to make this phone call' but dialling before I even finish the thought instead of avoiding it forever or until it makes things really awkward.
  • Actually leaving 15 minutes before I think I need to in order to get to appointments, events or places with time to spare or just on time in the event something unexpected crops up*.
  • Finding a gold coin** on the ground, getting super excited out of habit and then deciding to leave it there because I don't need it and if some kid finds it, it'll make their day.
  • Finding that I still have some money left over after I've paid my bills***.
Yeah, they're not the kind of 'coming of age' examples you're ever going to see on a RomCom or find in a YA novel but they're the ones that have, for some reason or another, stuck with me.

These moments and others like them, some without handy anecdotes, have made me realise that I'm better than I used to be at dealing with certain situations or highlighted the self-awareness that comes with experience.

And considering I am still proud - not just nostalgia proud, actual proud - of learning how to keep my skivvy**** from rolling up inside my sleeves when I put on a jacket when I was 4*****, that's about the cream of the crop.

There are also all those slightly depressing moments when you realise that not only are you grown up, you're An Adult and kids old enough to have their own debit cards see you as such, but I'll save those for another time when I'm feeling maudlin or after I've been reading OMG I'M THE ADULT.

*Traffic, forgetting something, the fact I often assume a best case scenario of how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B that doesn't survive contact with reality.

**That's a one dollar or two dollar coin

***... and then spending it on comic books. Hey, baby steps, alright.

****Skivvy = a long-sleeved shirt that you wear in the winter, sometimes a turtleneck.

*****You hold onto your long shirt sleeves with your fingertips before you put them into your jacket sleeves!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

It Winds The Yarn Out From The Skein Or Else The Ball Unrolls Again

I am probably the last person who should have taken up knitting.

Not because I'm a menace with the needles or a danger to myself or find the mechanics overly challenging. It's a soothing and hypnotic pastime once you get into a rhythm.

But knitting is a craft of patterns and following patterns is not my strong suit.

Well, patterns in language I can follow: recurring words, favoured sentence structures, particular devices, pacing and the like.

Anything visual or to do with numbers though... well...

As an example, this year I've been doing a lot of walking. There's a block near work that I like to do my laps around:
  • it's a known length so I can record the distance I'm walking,
  • it's long enough that I don't feel like I'm going in circles but short enough that I can get back to my car in short order if I need to, and
  • because of its length, adding on an extra lap is a gentle, incremental increase.
And for every lap I complete I have to mark up one of my fingernails with a lead pencil otherwise I will - no lie - forget how many times I've gone round.

The first lap I remember, the second I'll know isn't the first, but anything after that could be anything from the third to the seventh and without a physical record I could end up going around for hours in a walk trance.

And this is the mind which is now expected to remember how many stitches, how many rows, when to knit, when to purl, when to stop.

It's going to be tricky, it's going to take a lot of stopping and checking, will probably involve a bit of counting aloud and at least once I may end up with a cardigan that has arms long enough to fit an orangutan but unless I want to just keep churning out an endless supply of scarves, I'm going to have to bend myself to the task.

I think I'm up to the challenge, even if it might require me to mark up more than just my fingernails to keep my place.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

At The Core

This may be a further manifestation of the house planning phase of my life my brain has entered, but I've been noticing houses in various stages of completion and there's something that's been bugging me about them.

Their frames.

Yes, various sources insist that aluminium frames are a terrible idea because in the case of a fire, the heat melts the frames at an alarming rate causing the house to collapse far sooner and reducing the chances of residents being able to get out or rescuers having the time to get in.

That is definitely a concern.

As is the argument that wood harvested in an ethical and environmentally conscious fashion is actually a far more renewable source than a metal alloy that requires mining, processing and a lot more fiddling about.

Both important consideration but still not it.

The thing is... Aluminium frames look so flimsy.

I know that architects and all sorts of smart cookies have done all the calculations and testing to prove that they're structurally sound and I'm not operating under the belief that these houses are likely to fall apart any time soon.

But to me, frames have always been the bones of a house, their strength, their core.

A house that has sheltered families and individuals through the decades, seen the passing of wars and world events, and stood against the centuries would sneer at these spindly constructions.

I think of houses as solid, as enduring, and Aluminium frames just don't fit in with that idea.

How can a house built on such a fragile-looking skeleton ever be a place of strength?

How can it stand the test of time?

Why does this topic make me sound like such a hippy for houses?

I'm not saying that wooden or other non-Aluminium material frames don't have their own issues and drawbacks.

But they look like the bones of houses.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Me Vs Me: Sleep

I have a love/hate relationship with sleep.

Wait, that's not true, I pretty much adore sleep unreservedly but the love/hate relationship exists in relation to my complete lack of self control with regards to sleep.

I love the luxurious feeling of a long, relaxing lie in.

I love waking up and then choosing to roll over and snuggle back into my blankets.

But I hate that I can wake up, know that I am going to be furious with myself later for not getting up, and then still stick my head back under my pillow and make with the Zs.

Sleep-ins are excellent for when you've earned them, when you feel like pampering yourself, when you've been super-exhausted or on public holidays when you usually would be at work but aren't.

But when you have things that you want to get done, need to get done, were looking forward to having done... and you don't have time to do them because you hit the snooze button, that's where the love/hate part kicks in.

I don't know if it's a generational thing but I don't think I'll ever be one of those 'gets up at 6am every morning like clockwork even 20 years after retirement because that's what I did all my working life' people, and not just because I haven't had to get up at/before 6am for work since I finished working hospitality.

If I don't have to get up - and I mean have to with a capital H, the kind where you might get yelled at or fired or make somebody cry at their own birthday party - then I don't.

A few years ago I thought this was me choosing to live life the way I liked it, with extra sleep.

Now I feel like there's two me's, First Wake Up Me who doesn't give a damn about consequences and lives only to please herself and Second Wake Up Me who has to clean up after her.

It's not that I'm exhausted or lethargic or anything like that which might suggest that I have a medical condition that might explain this behaviour.
I'm just behaving like a jackass.

I know this is going to be difficult habit to ditch and will take a long time to shift behaviour that at this point I've been indulging in for about half of my life but I'm determined to try.

First Wake Up Me has to start pulling her own weight.

And if that means going to bed earlier, chugging water before I turn in and buying the loudest alarm clock money can buy and then putting it where I can't reach it or its power cord from my bed, then that's what I'm going to do.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Fertility Faction

OK, I obviously spoke too soon.

Last year a coworker announced she was pregnant.

All the women in the office who have had children got intensely excited.

I congratulated her, anticipated chipping in for flowers in a few months time and forgot all about it.

I missed the predatory gleam in their eyes.

The first salvo was subtle.

The magazines on our lunch table - usually a reliable mix of culinary, design and architecture with the odd Cleo thrown in - was suddenly peppered with parenting periodicals.

The second salvo was slightly more direct.

They began including me in their 'isn't that cute' group emails of pictures of kids frolicking with dogs, drawing on walls, buried in piles of leaves and cosplaying with their parents at Comic Con.

Their stated reason for this was that they thought I liked dogs/vandalism/leaves/cosplay.

I was invited to and attended the baby shower, where I won several games.

They saw this as a promising sign until I made it blatantly clear with my gloating victory dance that my apparent baby-related prowess was down to being a competitive jerk.

At this point the campaign had been running at least two months* and I had started to get a little paranoid and had begun wondering how they got my private email and the ads on my Facebook sidebar to join in.

My junk mail had suddenly given up on selling me V14gr4 and c14l1s or trying to hook me up with my foreign lottery winnings and has been offering me singles of all flavours.

Black singles, white singles, Latin singles, Asian singles, Christian singles, Jewish singles.
All the singles.

My Facebook ad sidebar seems to be trying to kill two birds with one stone and every day urges me to 'Give Single Dads A Chance'.

So far, I have not.

Disheartened by this lack of results, they gave up on both subtle and semi-subtle.

Any time an unmarried guy not biologically old enough to be my Father visited our workplace, they would comment on his various favourable attributes and ask me what I thought.

I thought it was kind of creepy.

I mean I'm all for the sexual equality of ladies having the freedom to perve on appealing dudes but the 'give him some slack, then reel him in, then give him some slack, then reel him in' language used by certain women in these situations make me feel incredibly skeezy.

Especially when the two very nice IT guys came through to do an equipment audit and the moment they were out the door, one particular coworker demanded that I picked out and started dancing the sideways rumba with whichever one I preferred because it was terrible to see a decent chunk of man meat like that go to waste.

When I declined her order to sexually assault the IT guy(s), she began listing friends of hers who were single and not old/crazy/destitute.

At this point two of my friends decided to come to my rescue.

Awkwardly, however, they did this by insisting that I could have had the pick of their friends at any point over the last four years but that I was under no obligation to make such a selection.

Choosing this as the moment to put my earphones on and never ever take them off again, I was spared the rest of that cringefest.

Luckily after the 'take that nerd and make him your own' conversation, they did seem to get the message that I was not going to be taken in by their cunning plan.

This reprieve can probably be more accurately attributed to the fact that our pregnant coworker has recently given birth and they now have a freshly baked bun straight out of the baby oven to coo over and the intense desire to see me opening my own franchise has abated.

I know this is temporary and that one day, they'll hear the bugle call to arms once more, but I'm just grateful for the cease-fire.

However long it may last.

*I say 'at least two months' because given my field tested obliviousness to signs, signals and hints I cannot rule out the possibility that this had kicked off the moment pregnant coworker finished enunciating the letter t in 'I'm pregnant!'