Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Long Haul

This book is going to be the death of me.

This is the second time I've borrowed it out and both times I renewed it twice and this time it's overdue.

A month overdue.

Do you have any idea how much I hate having overdue books out from the library?

It's a lot.

But I cannot cannot CANNOT return this book until I've finished it.

Not this time!

And the really sad thing, the incredibly sad thing, is what the book is.

It's Australian Politics For Dummies.

How much of a dummy do you have to be for it to take you this long to read a book?

I keep picking it up at the end of the day and either I'm too tired and I start nodding off or it's making me tired.

The material is interesting enough but obviously it's very factual and a bit dry and you aren't really motivated to rush to the end and find out 'who did it' because it's politics, they all did it.

I would honestly have chucked it in the first time round except for three things:
  1. I refuse to be defeated by any book with 'For Dummies' in the title.
  2. This is stuff I really feel I should have a good handle on by now seeing as I'm an adult voting person.
The Reading Journal is a sacred trust.
I can't have unfinished entries in my Reading Journal.
It would be unthinkable.
I know a lot of people have rules about how much of their time they'll give a book before they give it up as a bad lot.

Wil Wheaton has said he has a '100 pages or 1 hour' rule and if it hasn't caught his interest by then, it's toast.

I can respect that.

Life is too short to waste it trudging through terrible books.

Normally I don't have that trouble because if a book is truly TRULY that heinous, I'll have noticed before I get around to jotting its details down in the Reading Journal.

Some cruddy books I'll finish out of a sort of perverse bloody-mindedness because I want to be able to tell other people in excruciating detail exactly how bad it was from one end to another.

But this book isn't bad, it's just dense because of its subject matter, and I'm just being weird and lazy about getting it read.

I've been avoiding reading it because I can't be arsed but this means I haven't been reading much else either, and I miss reading, proper reading.

So now I am rolling my sleeves up, taking myself by the ear and not putting up with any more of my rubbish.

I will finish this book in the next few days.

I will return it to the library.

I will apologise profusely and pay my fine.

Then I will get on with my life.

There are too many other books waiting for me out there to let this go on any longer.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Coffee-Related Karmic Realignment

To all the people who ordered decaf beverages when I was a barista, I want to say I'm sorry.

Don't worry, I definitely definitely served you decaf and the beverages I provided were of the highest quality I could turn out because I took pride in my work.

But I thought uncharitable things about you as I did it.

I thought stuff like:

"If you're worried about not being able to get to sleep just don't have coffee after 4pm! Why ruin a perfectly good drink with decaf?"


"If you're going to drink decaf why even freaking bother? It isn't proper coffee anyway?"


"Ooh lah-di-dah, look at you taking charge of your health by limiting stimulants!"

I am really, really sorry.

I never gave any indication of what I was thinking and you probably didn't know but my sending out those sorts of negative thoughts into the universe was unkind and now I know exactly how bollocks they were.

Now that I can't have caffeine, I drink decaf.

I drink it because I really really miss coffee and it's the closest I can have.

I'm not drinking it to be pretentious or smug or because I'm a nervous little nelly who thinks a little fizz in my life will send me reeling off balance; I'm drinking it because if I have the caffeinated version I loved so much I could get sick.

I don't know how many people I served decaf to who might have been in a similar boat.

People trying to avoid antagonising heart conditions, stomach conditions, nervous system conditions, anxiety conditions, even respiratory conditions.

Maybe it was very few of them.

I have no idea.

The point is that I have no idea what their circumstances were and it wasn't my place to judge and now that I'm in the situation I am now, I know that.

I also know that not only wasn't it my place to judge but that that they should never have to explain themselves to me or anyone else or feel obligated to defend their choices.

The same way that people who drink skim/low-fat milk shouldn't have to identify whether it's because they believe that the doctors who say full cream milk is until the age of 5 and no further are right, or because they're worried about their weight or because they've had their gallbladder removed and letting fat build up in their system is painful.

The same way that people who drink soy shouldn't have to identify whether they're lactose intolerant, vegan or just really like the taste of soy.

So to all of you out there, who probably don't remember me and never knew I was being uncharitable in your direction, I send out this big pulse of positive thoughts and apology.

You'll probably be equally as unaware of it as you were of my initial cynicism but I'm sending it to you anyway and I hope that wherever you are that things are going OK for you.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Life Wasted?

My father recently turned 60 and as a surprise for him, my sister and I put together a couple of photo-boards to display at his birthday party.

We sat down and went through our entire family cache of photos, picked out any photo of sufficient quality that featured Dad, scanned it, had it printed out and added it to the board.

They went down a treat with the family, especially the photos which hadn't been seen in decades and which they'd forgotten.

They were a major talking point and had clusters of people hanging about them for the entire duration of the party.

I was really pleased to have played a part in their creation and giving everyone a chance to reminisce and giggle at what my father used to look like and get up to but it also made me realise something.

I have straight up been wasting my life.

Flicking through the photos of myself so far it was absolutely clear to me that I have not anywhere near been living up to my potential or exploring all the opportunities available to me.

When I saw the pictures of my mother and all the incarnations of her glorious hair...

I have been rocking the same handful of hairstyles for my entire life, none of which seem particularly evocative of their time period or make me look outlandishly different from year to year.

In the photos I found of my mother she sported:
  • A magnificent curly afro
  • A sleek long bob with matching fringe
  • A mane of hair down to her bum
  • Charlie's Angels flicky hair
  • The obligatory 80s perm
  • A cute curly shoulder-length do with a sideways swept fringe
  • Her current pixie cut

Anyone in the future looking to catalogue my life and reviewing my photos up until now will be barfing to themselves in quiet boredom over the uniform monotony of my hair.

There have been a few changes but none so striking and the biggest changes have been the occasional shift in hue.

I know there are reasons for this...

  • my laziness
  • the unpredictable and willful nature of my follicles
  • the fact that most of the hairstyles that have been 'fashionable' during my hairstyling years have been almost unfailingly terrible *coff Jennifer Aniston coff*

... but I still feel that I'm letting future biographers or possible descendents down by not offering a full catalogue of wild and wonderful photo material for them to pore over.

Even my father has sported a wider range of dos - though admittedly some of them were on his face.

The question now is, is it too late for me?

Am I too set in my boring hair ways?

Are there any dos that will be considered as time-bound and awesome as those that preceded the 90s?

Could I have taken a less superficial message from almost a century of family photos*?

Maybe I could have, maybe I could have...

*Out of interest we went all the way back through photos that featured the younger incarnations of our grandparents and great-grandparents too.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Give 'Em Some Slack And Then Reel 'Em In!

Amongst the new experiences I had on my trip to New Zealand*, my favourite by far was charter fishing.

The sunburn I managed to get on my shoulders aside, it was a great day out.

I've never been anti-fishing but I've discovered that what makes the experience absolutely fantastic is:
  1. Having all the right equipment.
  2. Going with somebody who knows what they're doing.

Baiting the hook I'm fine with.

Casting or releasing the line - in the case of weighted-line fishing, which this was - again, completely fine.

Reeling the fish in and using a cloth to grasp it when taking it off the hook so its spines don't stab you in the hand**, no problemo.

Killing the fish and turning it from entire creature into edible chunks, errr...

It isn't that I have a moral objection to killing the fish.

As an omnivore, I believe that any animals within the normally accepted 'edible' subcategory' raised and killed humanely are fair and delicious game.

I've just not been taught how to do it and have no practice and wouldn't want to bodge it up and cause the fish distress.

But the guy who took us out on his boat not only had good quality fishing rods, a suitable vessel, and built-in chopping boards and knives set up for cutting up your appropriate bait; he also swiftly and efficiently dispatched our fishy bounty and then skillfully turned them into fillets on the spot!

With all the equipment provided being of proper quality and suitable to the task everything runs a lot more smoothly than if you - as a casual fisherwoman - try and get the same results with a kit you've bodged together without quite knowing what you're up to or wanting to spend too much money in case it turns out that you're rubbish at fishing.

Without having to worry about inept or accidentally cruel fish execution, the 5 hour jaunt was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable afternoons I've spent in a while.

I think between the four of us we reeled in about 40 fish.

We only got to keep about 16 as the others didn't meet legal size requirements but that's OK.

There's only so much fish you can eat and as most of the fun is reeling them in, it was no hardship to throw the lucky tiddlers back to try again.

And apart from the fact fishing is a lot of fun, and that the sun on the waves*** and the light breeze and the scent of salt on the air were wonderfully soothing, when we did get our bag of ice and neatly sliced fillets home, the fish was delicious.


So moist and tender and fresh and full of flavour!

Just a touch of lemon and pepper and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever eaten.

At some point in the future I intend to go fishing again.

And for maximum fish and fun, it'll be with someone who knows what they're doing.

*One of which was taking an overnight flight, getting into Auckland at 5:20am and then waiting until the sun came up to get the bus to the ferry terminal because I didn't want to be found at dawn bobbing up and down in the water like a crime drama cadaver.

**They were predominantly snapper.

***And on my stupid shoulders which I kept forgetting every time I reapplied sunscreen to my arms.