Saturday, 31 May 2014

And It Goes On And On

Well we've gotten to the end of the week without any more solid information.

The supervisors (not contract staff themselves) have been assuring us that things won't be as bad as all that and that it'll be people from the other areas of the contract that will be let go, not their staff!

Yes, yes, thanks, so helpful.

We go through flurries of discussing the possibilities (cut hours but not cut positions, positions cut from one role but not another, the odds that people already part-time will be in more danger or safer) and then periods of not wanting to talk about it at all.

The question of whether or not this might be a bit of a rattling to keep us in our box or to get people to quit under their own steam has been asked but not answered.

I have in fact gathered my courage and applied for another job:
a) just in case, and
b) just because I'm freaked out about the future doesn't mean that I'm not still bored with the lessened amount of work on offer, because I am.

I'd been chatting to an old workmate around the time this whole situation broke and it turned out that there was a 1 year contract opening where she worked to cover someone's maternity leave.

Now a 1 year contract isn't ideal in a number of ways (eg, the bit where I'd be having to do all this again in a year's time just when I'd really gotten used to it, a bit of a salary cut) but it is:
  • work in my field
  • with a reputable company that would look good on my resume
  • being vouched for by someone I've worked with before who knows the kind of work I've done before
  • a chance to remember how change works without having to worry I've committed myself to an ongoing position that may turn out to be awful
Thursday I refreshed my resume which mostly involved updating the formatting, making it look a bit more professional and jamming in all the things I've learned since the last time I updated my resume a year or two ago.
That went OK and I felt pretty good with how it looked by the end of it.

Then I sat down and wrote my cover letter.
This was a bit trickier as I am pretty terrible at talking myself up. At first I can't think of anything to say and then I put in way too much detail but then have trouble trimming it down because it makes me sound good.
By the end of this I thought I could walk on water and was qualified to become dictator of a small country because it made me sound really quite good.

Then I had an hour and a half conversation with the friend who told me about the position, got her impressions of working there, what the workload and people are like, how she thought I'd find the place, what to remember for the interview if I got one.
I felt a lot better about my chances after this because job ads always make it sound like they're looking for someone with four degrees and mad juggling skills which isn't always what the position requires.

But then I hit a sort of wall of Thinking About This, felt kind of emotionally drained, and then got a phone call from my Dad who wanted to know how the process was going, was very encouraging but also suggested this was a good time to think about what I want to do in the future and what my long-term goals are.

No, Dad! Bad!

The thing about my long-term goals is that very few of them are to do with work.

Most of my long-term goals look like this:
  • travel a bunch
  • get better at things I find interesting
  • eat delicious food
  • maybe get some nice snogs with a lovely man
I don't have a vocation or any passions that lead me towards particular fields of work.

I want steady employment in something mentally engaging where I can contribute but don't have to be in charge.

I don't mind responsibility but I don't want to be leading the way because I am not ambitious.

I'll brainstorm the shit out of ideas for the people who are in charge but I don't want to have 'come up with ideas for the company/business/workplace's future' as one of my key tasks.

So yes, I do need to think about that shit but right now is not the best time for that.

I just ended up curled up on the couch, eating chicken nuggets and watching Archer like an adult while I ignored reality on the surface and pretended the undercurrents of my mind weren't wailing 'Argh! Change and decisions! Either you'll get the job and have to change now or you won't get the job and you'll either keep your boring job or get canned and be unemployed! Argh!'

Friday morning I woke up, remembered The Fear, got to work anyway, pootled around, submitted my application (which my friend who had name-dropped me to her boss tells me her boss had asked about) and freaked out some more.

No matter what happens in the next month I won't be in dire straits.
I have savings, somewhere to live, a supportive family and won't be in the desperate position some people would be in.
I had just forgotten about this particular brand of my own anxiety because I haven't had to deal with it for a while.

I get notoriously nervy around big decisions because I am terrified of making the wrong one and ending up in the shitty storyline of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure that is life.
But making no decisions can often dump you there anyway.

Oh, and Friday evening I got an email asking to set up an interview for next week so the 'What If...?' train has started building up steam in my brain and is barrelling along down the tracks 0_0

So either:
  • I'll get a new job and it'll be lovely and a good intro to the next phase of my life.
  • I'll get a new job and it'll be OK and I'll just have to get a new job in a year when it ends.
  • I'll get a new job and it'll turn out to be stressful and horrible, leaving me extra put out because it'll be shitty AND involve a long commute (I'm not moving to a more expensive area for a year's contract when my next job might be elsewhere), then have to get a new job.
  • I won't get a new job and will have to stay with my boring job while looking for another new job.
  • I won't get a new job and will be out of work and will have to look for another new job.

So yeah.
Flipping out about things that most other people have to deal with more often.

I know I'm not the only person who gets anxious about this kind of stuff and I'll eventually get better at dealing with it as I get the opportunity but right now I'd rather like to go into some nice soothing denial but honestly can't.

Time to be an adult or some shit like that.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Change Ahead

Damn damnit.

Real life you are ruining my weekend!

At work a group of us are technically contracted to our workplace by an outside employment agency.
I say technically because we found out about the job independently or through people we knew, interviewed with the people who run the place, were hired and then signed a bunch of paperwork with the employment agency because they were the ones who were technically running the contract and paying wages for these positions.
The contract for these positions used to be renewed every three years for a three year period.
Two years ago management decided instead to renew for one year with two options for renewal.
Last year they signed the first renewal.
This year we've been told there's to be some more negotiating.

They told us this on Friday afternoon because that's what we all needed to hear before two days without any additional details!

Work has been slowly down steadily for the last two years and as a result they've decided the amount of hours they're going to contract the employment agency for is lower.
They of course don't know how much lower or anything helpful like that.
All they know is that they will probably end up with more positions that people and a few of us may not have jobs come the 1st of July.

Thanks for the heads up, incredibly well-organised and thoughtful management people! This is sarcasm!

We've all known for a while that this was probably coming considering the amount of work we were getting now compared to the old tempo but they obviously knew this too, they've probably been planning for it.

What would have been nice would be if they had let us know at the start of the year that this was a strong possibility and given people longer to assess their finances and look at whether they wanted to continue on here or look for work elsewhere.

Now, considering how I know these things are handled*, we'll probably be told how many positions are being lost a week or two before it happens.
Some of us have a bit of annual leave saved up so we'll have a few weeks of pay to survive on if that happens, others do not.

They've said that it should hopefully only be a small reduction and for all we know it'll be more along the lines that a few people have to work 4 day weeks or 6 hour days but until we know everyone is nervous and on edge.

I've been working here for 7 years now so I have been a bit bored and looking to move on but I was hoping for the time to look for something appropriate before then.

I've no reason to believe that I'm one of the people on the chopping block but it doesn't do to assume yourself entirely safe either.
That just leads to heartbreak and panic if you find out you're wrong.

This whole situation combined with the fact that there's only one year left before the entire contract goes up for tender again means there's only one year of guaranteed work before there's possibly even greater changes in the works.

This has prompted a lot of thinking, some panicking, some panicked thinking and some long overdue updating of my resume.


I hate unexpected change.

I'm no so great with planned change either but this?  >_<

*I'm not saying it's been a bad place to work, for at least 5 of the 7 years it was pretty excellent. The last 2 have been dull because we've had less to do. The bullshit here comes in from the fact it's an organisation that has a lot of red tape and bureaucratic bollocks and it gets snarled up at times when it would be particularly handy if it didn't :-/

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Put It On The List

Time for another installment of Magic Future Garden That Will Have The Space And The Environmental Conditions To Support All These Plants (And Which I Hopefully Won't Kill Through Ineptitude)!

The previous installment can be found here.


Lovely colours and they bring in various birds.

Dwarf river wattle (or Acacia Cognata)

I just like the look of these, they fill their part of the garden nicely and look soft to the touch.

Woolly bush (or Adenanthos sericeus)

 But not as soft as the woolly bush which Mum and I call 'huggable Christmas trees'. These are lovely and very hardy.

Kangaroo paw

These are bright when they flower and as natives will deal with the odd year of shitty weather better than some other plants.

Pimelea ferruginea

Pretty as hell and apparently they'll bring in the butterflies.

Mulberry tree

We had one of these in our backyard in Coffs Harbour and I remember sitting on the fence amongst the branches picking ripe berries until I gave myself a stomach ache. Totally worth it.

Ornamental grapevine

I'm more interested in the look than whether they produce grapes or not. Growing your own grapes that turn out right, rather than bitter, is a bit of a crapshoot but having a nice vine that you can put across a trellis or use to shade you from the sun is a better bet.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Dear God, Why?!

The family dogs have been happily living in a new dog run since the end of last year.

They get to spend most of their time in the dog run because of their unfortunate love for pulling things off the washing line (primarily Apocalypse Pup) and their unfortunate enthusiasm for killing blue tongue lizards (primarily the Labrador of Doom).

The thing about the dog run is that is has a few gum trees in it.
It has a few dips and bumps and strange topographical features.

This means that when Mum has gone in to the run* she has only been able to tidy the parts of it that she can get to safely.

So for Mother's Day this year I decided that my good deed for the day was to tidy up the dog run.





You guys.




There were three key areas which I was calling The Elephants Graveyards of Poop.

The dogs had of course chosen to locate these pooptopias in the weirdest parts of the enclosure.
Places my mother would not be game to fight her way through to.
Behind the various clumps of trees or near the little drop off.

I picked up somewhere around 10 to 20 kg of poop**.

Three reinforced garbage bags and some very unlucky disposable gloves sacrificed their lives to the cause.

I also found several toys that the kids from the house behind us had lost over the course of the last 5 months, the remains of what must have been the more delicious of the toys that the kids from the house behind us had lost over the course of the last 5 months, a stash of bricks from a building project that probably took place about 20 years ago, and the treated pine palings from our old pool fence which was taken out about 15 years ago at the same time as the old pool***.

The palings were the most startling thing to find, they were piled up under a drift of eucalyptus leaves so thick that given a few centuries archaeologists would be identifying them as a specific historical strata that could tell us a lot about the local culture.

I also had to spend a bit of time with a shovel digging out the area behind the gate because there had been some sediment creep and it had become impossible to open the gate further than about 70 to 100 cm**** wide in recent months.
Now there is a nice flat area to swing the gate open over which hopefully won't give the dogs 'diggy' ideas.

So at the end of the process I had thrown out:
  • more poop than I have ever wanted to see or handle in my entire life
  • old bones that had been hidden but which were no longer safe or delicious
  • bits of dead toys and scraps of material
  • palings from the old pool fence which we can't burn because arsenic!
I had also tidied up and put away:
  • a bunch of kindling that had been thoughtfully dropped by the eucalyptus trees
  • actual chunks of good quality firewood that I expect my brother had forgotten he had chainsawed up out of larger bits of eucalyptus tree
  • old palings from our wooden perimeter fence which wasn't treated pine so we can burn it
  • a huuuuge pile of leaves
By the end of the afternoon I was sweaty, dusty and being followed around by two very interested dogs who thought the whole situation was very strange but hey if I wanted to collect their poop and put it in a bag who were they to protest?

Of course, this was just the beginning.

Next weekend I have to go back in there to burn the  metric butt-tonne of leaves, have another rake around and make sure we don't have any more archeological layers of extra items hidden in there.

And the gum trees are trying to increase their numbers which will only lead to danger and sadness so there will be a sapling massacre which will then have to be turned into more firewood and stacked up neatly with the rest of it.

Then, smoky, dirty and exhausted, I'll probably take the dogs for a walk.
Because I am a masochist apparently.

*Which doesn't happen as often as it could because the dogs get really extra excited about this kind of thing.
There is Five Minutes Of Frantic Bouncing when you let them into the main yard, try get them ready for a walk or join them in the run. No matter how we try and train them out of it, their excitement will not be tamed!
**That's 22 to 44 lbs of poop, for you Imperial scum!
***The pool was an above ground construction which was murdered by a tree from the yard behind us. The tree's roots grew up under the pool and pierced the pool lining and the whole thing went the hell remarkably quickly.
****27 to 39 inches or 2.3 to 3.3 feet, whichever makes more sense to you guys.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


I went and saw Michael Bublé in concert yesterday and that man is ridiculous.

He has a voice like velvet dipped in honey and he says the filthiest things.

It's glorious.

That mix of romance and smut is just perfect if you ask me.

Especially because I like to imagine various nannas and stuffy folk of various generations turning up to listen to the nice young man sing to them and being absolutely scandalised when he says things like "I like to think of the concert like it's a date, we start off nice and slow and romantic, me here and you as some kind of hermaphroditic entity, so we start off nice and smooth and sweet and by the end of the night... dirty sex in the back of my car."

I like the fact that the concert I saw before this was a double header with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails.
Some people have specific genres that they like to lurk in but I'm kind of all over the place.
Different music for different moods or for different reasons.

Metal for when I'm feeling energetic or sometimes when I'm feeling kind of shitty and antisocial.
Shit like Sigur Rós if I'm feeling kind of dreamy and thoughtful.
Michael Bublé if I feel like some powerful ballad action.
Lyrically irredeemable pop for when I'm exercising or driving or bouncing out of my skin*.

The sorts of jazzy torch songs Michael Bublé sings always make me feel like I should be walking through a big city in winter wrapped up in a warm coat and a scarf.
I've no idea why, the mental associations I make with various locations, words, songs et cetera cannot be explained.

The concert was opened by American vocal group Naturally 7 who perform entirely without instruments, achieving a sound that boggles the mind a fair bit.

And now here's a slew of videos of my favourite  rhythm and blues/jazz type songs that Michael** sang on the night.

And then this video because his reaction face is just priceless :-D

*You can pry my right to listen to Call Me Maybe out of my cold dead hands. Especially the chat roulette version, that shit is hilarious.
**We're on a first name basis after our big polyamorous concert date.