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Monday, 30 April 2012

death plunge

I'm still in a blue funk at work, team.  Hence, I'm giving the blog the short shrift and devoting any spare minutes to analysing that god-awful prickly scalp feeling I'm experiencing as a result of nervousness and stress (big thing happening later this week that I won't tell you about because it's both confidential and boring - a combo I never thought I'd meet).  Been closely considering my prickly, queasy tummy too.  I hope that some of you can relate, as it is always nice to feel (a) that you're not alone; (b) that someone else has made mistakes before you and someone else will make mistakes after you; and (c) that this, too, shall pass as it has for many others. 

The shower-steam countdown continues.  33 working days my calculations on the shower door told me this morning.  21 June cannot come fast enough.

THIS WAS TAKEN BACK IN MARCH, OF COURSE.  WHEN THE WEATHER WAS ACTUALLY REASONABLE, NICE EVEN
ANYWAY: one of the highlights of this weekend was briefly dropping into the White Cube.  I got all disturbed and icky feeling by the Gilbert & George London Pictures.

GILBERT & GEORGE, 'LONDON PICTURES' (2011), SOUTH GALLERIES, WHITE CUBE BERMONDSEY. VIA
That's a taster - the London Pictures was an enormous collation of headlines, featuring repeated words and phrases.   Extremely confronting as we walked into the White Cube's South Galleries.  In particular, I found myself stuck on the usage of the phrase "death plunge".  Who knew that there were many headlines featuring "death plunge"? 

I'm still experiencing an active, offensive recognition that I was drawn to the overuse of "death plunge" and it's probably exactly the sort of macabre headline that would draw me into a shoddy, voyeuristic Metro or Daily Mail article. 

Another piece currently showing in the gallery:

LIU WEI, 'UNTITLED' (2011) VIA
Honestly, a sculpture made from paperbacks?  Loved it.  Loved it.  It has a very distinct feeling of sinking and *almost* horror but it also made me exclaim with delight when I worked out the medium.  I wanted so badly to touch it, to explore the cityscape. 

Full disclaimer: I know nothing about art so this is a blind ramble.  Sometimes a quick visit to a gallery or a museum can leave me cold, but I did particularly like this piece and felt strongly about the other, so you get my wee bleatings about it.  I've been promising myself I'll do this more often. The checking out art, that is.  Not the bleating. 

And a final side note on the theme of local representative art: Mayoral elections in London this week.  Someone in my neighbourhood expressed an artistic timely reminder (of sorts) on freshly painted hoarding:

'BORIS MADE ME DO THIS...'.  FOR NON-LONDONER TYPES, BORIS JOHNSON IS THE INCUMBENT CANDIDATE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING A BIT OF HEAT OVER HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH OL' RUPERT MURDOCH.  TOO LEGIT TO QUIT THOUGH, HE SAYS (I MAY BE PARAPHRASING)


Friday, 27 April 2012

danger. danger will robinson

After all yesterday's whinging (which? Trust me, you only caught the edges of), my wonderful husband purchased a lovely bottle of wine and the first of the season's peonies on his way home!  The smell is completely divine; I keep catching the edge of perfumed wafts in my kitchen and living room. 

HAPPY SIGH.  PEONIES ARE MY FAVES.

This means that I should be glass-half-full today.  However, LET ME JUST SAY I work in a dangerous environment y'all and that's one of the reasons yesterday was tough on SO.MANY.LEVELS.  Yeah, yeah, tell me about the hazards you face on a daily basis you tree surgeons and window cleaners and shark divers (is that a career?)…you ain't got nothing on my catalogue of office WOE:

THIS PICTURE WAS SO OFFENSIVE I HAD TO INSTAGRAM IT TO TRY AND DIAL BACK THE ICKINESS.  IT'S STILL REVOLTING, NO?  EW, FINGERS AND TOES AND APPENDAGES.  *SHUDDER*
See that? Paper cuts.  Infectious wee nasties: they hurts me, they hurts!  I swear Ally McBeal did NOT have to deal with this kind of palaver.  Note the picture also depicts some stress-chewed nails.  EW GROSS GROSS GROSS VILE. 

Also: My toe, which was hurting from a day in unsuitable shoes, got stubbed on the corner of my desk last night.  I believe it was on my second attempt to leave the office; when I got to the security gates the first time round, I had a sudden vision of my security pass sitting under the piles of crap I'd left on my desk.  I KNOW, stubbed toes are painful, right?  I'm doing it tough out here in the office-arena.

Just be grateful I'm not giving you a picture of my mouth ulcer which has been exacerbated by stress.  I pulled down my lower lip and showed P the revoltingness and now I think he may never touch me again.  I am kind of grossed out by me too.  Side note: how does one fix an ulcer?  I know you can use baking soda or something...does that just alleviate the symptoms or assist with fixing the problem?

Air-conditioning: dry lips, dry hands, SHARED GERMS OF DOOM.  I share my office with one other person; when he came in on Monday with a rattling chest cough I mustered up some sympathy and the offer of a cup of tea but my internal dialogue was all "GROSS. NOW *I'M* GONNA GET IT".  This may also be because I'm a fundamentally self-centred sort of a person.  (I believe there's a much nastier word for being a 'fundamentally self-centred sort of a person' but hey, I'm not gonna bag myself THAT much on my own blog!) 

Yeah, you appreciate the dangers of the office environment now.  It's hazardous out there, but someone's gotta push paper.  I'm CLEARLY taking one for the team.  You can thank me later.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

today in a nutshell

A SOB STORY VIA.  NOT THE BOLSHOI BIT.  MY DAY WAS JUST A GIANT SOB STORY

Yeah.  So.

It's all work related and probably likely to bore you to tears and also probably likely to fail to engender a great degree of sympathy in your hearts.  WOE, WOE IS ME, SO HARD DONE BY I AM.

I would very much like not to care, now that I've given my notice, but I think that's beyond me.

Anyway, a thing that will make me feel better?  Our wee shack in Provence is now all set up when we head out on Travelstravangaorama 2012! My terrace for a week:


PLZ TO APPLY WITHIN TO DISCOVER PHOTO CREDIT WHICH WILL GIVE AWAY MY TOP-SECRET PROVENCE LOCATION TO STALKERS OTHERWISE.

YAY, that's bringing happy-me and smug-me back!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

bus etiquette. i'm sorry in advance

London!  Does not look like this at the moment!

THE CITY AND THE SHADOW OF TOWER BRIDGE ON THE THAMES.  SOME GOOD TOURISTING ON ROUTE TO WORK.  NOT ON A BUS.
It feels a bit as if the early spring we experienced has gooooooooooone.  It's probably because the BBC were all "OMG drought" so the weather has become "HAHAHA SPITE" and drizzled for what feels like weeks on end.  The foliage is still creeping out though, sneaking along branches and limbs to unfurl, which helps my mood immeasurably.  I also remembered recently that a lovely friend gifted me her gummies (wellies or rainboots for the uninitiated ) when she left the UK, they have a happy wee print on them that make rainy days bearable. 

On wet or freezing days (or when running late), there is a bus that runs practically door to door work to home for me.  Which segues nicely into my ridiculously petty, largely rhetorical questions regarding London and/or other public transport systems:

1. Is it ever appropriate to eat on the bus?

If so, should foodstuffs be limited to non-crumby comestibles?  Should you avoid wiping your fingers on the seat at all costs?  I do understand the need for an emergency snack here and there, and I'm not just referring to the Under Three set; sometimes when the blood sugar drops I get all ANGRY MUST EAT NOWNOWNOW.  Sometimes it's the only spare time between busy activities at different destinations.  But if you're going to eat on a bus, must the bus be sparsely populated?  How over-ripe can your banana be before it's an unacceptable bus snack?  Is it ever acceptable to offer/be offered a chip on the bus (last night the smell of Walkers crisps was making me slaver from across the aisle)?

I used to get a bit grossed out by people eating on the subway in NYC, purely because it was a pretty filthy environment (even though my attitude to these things is pretty "meh, what doesn't kill you blah blah").  Should I feel the same about bus snacks?

2.  Do you thank your bus driver?

I found it really hard to "break" the habit of saying thank you to the driver getting off the bus when I moved to London.  Doesn't that sound like an awful thing to say - I know it's polite no matter the location!  However, when you're getting off at the back of the bus, the driver isn't in view and you're yelling "thank you" into a busload of people, they look back at you like you're slightly mad.  Given you've probably just been crammed into their armpits or vice versa depending on your height and it's your normal bus route, you want people to think you're sane, trust me.  I had it drummed into me as a kid that when I got off a bus, out of a car etc I was to say thank you to the driver.  Except for the short period at age 11 when we yelled something else vile that rhymes with thank you to the driver, I've generally been a polite adult and now that I've written this all out I just feel awful about going all "London-Transport-Blank-to-Marginally-Angry-Face" which is a thing, trust me. 

Please excuse that last sentence, my editing skillz are not up to the challenge today. 

3. Should you ever be offended if someone offers you a seat?

I choose to believe that some men do it because they're gentlemen, not because I look vaguely preggo.  It really bugs me when people don't get up for the elderly, disabled or for mothers, but on occasion I've done so and someone has looked at me like I'm wearing horns.  It could be because I've had the temerity to engage with them in an environment where people only engage with their cellphones? I worry about the assumption they think I've made though; I'd hate for some poor woman to be thinking "Does she think I look like an OAP? BUT I DON'T EVEN QUALIFY FOR THE PENSION".

4. What is the acceptable reaction when your bus is hit by another bus in a glancing blow off the left rear corner?

I'm guessing no one would say  "Immediately Rise And Exclaim Loudly 'Get Me Off Or We'll All Be Stuck Here Forever!!!'". 

Yeah, that happened. 

Once again, I'm delving into the big issues. The day-to-day is pretty compelling for me - sometimes I feel like city-dwelling has taught me more about my fellow humans than I'm ever likely to learn by reading. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

amsterdam

Tulips! Today you get a picture of tulips!


LUFFERLY!
My frustrated (or lazy) inner gardener loved Amsterdam and the gorgeous array of tulips.  The Dutch have a lovely design sensibility - the parks, the architecture, the inside of people's homes I looked at through the window (stalker).  They were super friendly too; the neighbourhood restaurant where we ate on Saturday night offered us invitations to a local party, free cider and a stream of interesting chat.  Love!

Below is the obligatory be-sunglassed photo of me, waiting at the tram stop to go home.  This was at the point I realised that while I had a lot of pictures of tulips and P next to bicycles, there was no proof I'd made it to the Netherlands.  I was going to ask you to excuse the fluff-halo, but you should know the truth.  Fluffy hair is par for the course. 

THE ONLY REALLY DUTCH THING IN THE PIC IS BIKE IN THE BACKGROUND.
ALSO, LOST THAT SCARF TWICE THIS WEEKEND, ONLY RECOVERED IT ONCE.  STUPID SCARF; I'M SURE IT'S ONLY, LIKE, 50% MY FAULT.
Storytelling 101 would suggest that I focus on something really interesting that happened in Amsterdam and use it as a basis for discussion of the themes/feelings of the trip.  Some stories from Amsterdam shall remain untold on the internets EXCEPT (because I can't follow my own rules) to say that on Sunday I felt like I hadn't seen any of the debauched side of the city, so we patrolled the Red Light District at lunchtime.  WOE for the bored-looking and scantily clad ladies on display being peered at by tourist looky-loos off the street, surrounded by pubs playing the Man U game.  I felt like an ENABLER.  It was vile but far too complicated for me to discuss on a Monday morning without further processing.  Clearly, I'm failing at picking a single incident to discuss so here is an edited bullet point list of highlights/lowlights for the weekend:
  • Vondelpark: such a lovely public resource.  So many dogs and yet not a poo in sight.  Amazing.  Points off only for the enormous scary waterfowl.  P and I agreed that from what we've seen so far, Dutch public gardens are second only to the English.   I'm sure both nations feel satisfied that they've now passed the A test of botanical approval.  It's based on more than a lack of poo, though I must say that's a factor (Paris, I'm looking at you.  Your shared public spaces are monumentally let down by doggie doos).
  •  Bikes and bike lanes: also awesome.  However, very testing for the lazy pedestrian used to using aural senses for road crossing (I hadn't realised we were so heavily dependent on hearing traffic coming before crossing, but apparently our eyes are not enough alone!).
LADY ON A BIKE WITH AN UMBRELLA, OBV.  MORE LUFFERLY!
  • Canals: these are awesome and full of bikes.
  • Navigating a different public transport system for the first time late at night with some YAY FRIDAY booze in your bloodstream is NOT conducive to marital harmony.  LET THIS BE A LESSON. 
  • Tourists are terrifying.  How many Madame Tussauds' are really necessary, Western World?  Why would you queue for it?*
  • Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum: splendid.  We had a short-ish wait to get into both and while we resented the hordes of others we were forced to share the artwork with (SO SELFISH I AM), the splendour of the pieces was something else.  My favourite was Vermeer's Kitchen Maid:
SHE'S LUFFERLY.  EVEN MORE SO IN PERSON; CAPTIVATING.
  • Cheese.  Yes, MOAR PLZ.
  • Poffertjes.  These wee things turned up absolutely caked in a solid inch of icing sugar and practically a slab of butter but were pretty tasty underneath.

THESE BUT WITH MUCH, MUCH MORE SUGAR AND BUTTER.  MMMMM, TASTY HEART ATTACK

  • Language: I was embarrased by having no Dutch but the locals were so kind and accomodating - an embarrassment for us mono-lingual lazy English-speaking types. 
Anyway, loved Amsterdam. 

*I recognise that I myself was a tourist.  Clearly a superior-feeling-sort of tourist, but a tourist nonetheless, getting annoyingly in the way of bikes and occasionally dawdling on footpaths (dawdlers! Is there anything more frustrating when you're a local walking somewhere IMPORTANT and WITH A PURPOSE?!)

Friday, 20 April 2012

cop out

Two Bloody Marys at Friday lunch makes for a very happy but EXTREMELY unproductive A in the afternoon.  I am so tempted to take up the offer made by my colleague who also happens to be on his notice period to head to the pub...but it turns out I'm (marginally) rule-abiding and shit.  LAME.

From all of this you should be reading that I've got nothing for ya.  A little bit drunk and completely incapable of providing light entertainment, that's where I'm at. 

Instead, I give you a story of peeing in a cup. You can thank me (and Katie) later.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

maintenance

I think its about time I tackled some of the big issues again.

FLOSSING: WHAT IS YOUR STANCE?

(a) I do it religiously day and night.  I am an effing DECAY NAZI and you will see nary a stray grain in the wholesome gaps between my teeth.

(b) Never. Flossing is for pussies.

(c) Meh…when I remember and then sometimes it hurts.

Yeah, I'm category (c).  Generally hopeless; not even taking a stand for or against flossing.  I know it's good for me but it seems that I'm incapable of making it a part of my morning routine (which, btw, is fixed in STONE because I'm absolutely godawful for AT LEAST an hour after I wake up.  Seriously, I need shower, clothes, tea, cereal with the right kind of yoghurt and a not-too-ripe banana before I'm good for anything and WOE betide if I appear to be slipping on the meticulously planned timings (example "JESUS H CHRIST IT'S 8.03 AND I HAVEN'T STARTED THE HAIRDRYER")). 

EYEBROWS: WHAT IS AN ACCEPTABLE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE?

(a) Once a month like clockwork at the salon's waxer/threader/personal eyebrow grooming assistant du jour.

(b) Never.  Nature gave me these bad boys to keep shit out of my eyes so I ain't messing with them.

(c) When I remember I go into the salon and get them done or, more often, when I pick up the tweezers and give them a go as I'm passing by the mirror.

Yep, (c) for the win.  Which is why I have two eyebrows of slightly differing thickness and evenness, a regrowth problem and a ring of small blondy-browny lashes on the edge of my sink.  I am so ATTRACTIVE at the best of times.  

HERE IS AN EXTREMELY FREAKY REAL-TIME PICTURE OF MY LEFT EYEBROW IN ALL IT'S HAIRY GLORY.  EWWWWWWWWWW THE SITUATION IS WORSE THAN I THOUGHT.
AS ARE MY REVOLTING WORK GLASSES.
JESUS H I AM GIVING YOU ME: THE UNADULTERATED VERSION TODAY
Ack, just realised that this makes me sound like an ENORMOUS personal grooming slob but I trust it will help if I say that I shower daily, wear deodorant, keep my nails in check and clean my ears often?  Flossing and eyebrow maintenance (or lack thereof) just struck me as I looked in the mirror this morning…am I the only grimy cow around here?  Quite possibly.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

hkg: another great place. srsly.

OH YEAH, HONG KONG HAPPENED earlier this year. 

Far out, you guys.  Hong Kong. 

I think I was pretty wiped after the emotionalstravaganza of the wedding and saying goodbye to family and friends in the days following.  I mean, I do thrive on a bit of drama and attention but I would not characterise myself as someone in touch with her feelings generally, and I certainly don't do a shit-ton of navel gazing regarding my familial relationships.  The wedding forced quite a bit of that (in a good way!  good way!) but it left me feeling drained.  And then I got on a plane for 11 hours and arrived in Hong Kong.  My mind got blown.

P had sorted out how we were going to get into town and to our hotel prior to our arrival.  Normally we roll out of customs, work out if a bus will be OK and then fight over how to best get to our destination.  This time P knew which bus we should be taking and where we should get off, so arrival wasn't too stressful.  It was early morning, so not much was happening in the streets.  It was exciting seeing high rises from the moment we hit the road on Lantau - and seeing a lot more green space than we'd expected.  Hillsides, covered in green. 

We dropped our bags at the hotel, and scarpered to a Tea House, recommended to us by one Tony Bourdain, P's personal hero.  Hardly a personal recommendation, if you're familiar with Mr Bourdain, but we take his advice and I can't recall ever being disappointed. 


VIA.  SITE OF DELECTABLE TREATS.
The Tea House was awesome.  Clinking, yelling, competition for the best steamed goodies as they rolled out of the kitchen.  We sat with a couple of older men and a younger guy with a giant roll of carpet (who we later recognised encamped in the bottom of the HSBC building as part of Occupy Hong Kong).  After a fabulous but somewhat meaty meal (I always feel that way after dim sum/yum cha - maybe its because I prefer the dumpling goodies to the steamed veg…) we rolled back onto the street and OMG town had WOKEN UP. 

People everywhere, slurping bowls of congee (tried and didn't mind it, but don't think I could handle a rice based breakfast every day), doing their own thing on the streets (unlike NYC, where people tend to move at the same fast pace in the same direction, the HK crowd go at their own pace their own way), talking talking talking!  I was struck by how much talking was going down.  We soaked in the vibe and tried to get our bearings.

That afternoon's activity was a trip to the New Territories to visit a BBQ restaurant and a local market.  The local market was fascinating.  Actually, you could probably categorise most of Hong Kong that way for me.  Different everything: odours, sights, sounds - every travel cliché you can think of, plz to apply here.  I was compelled by the frogs in baskets and fingers being poked into everything to check the freshness.  The H1N1 posters on the wall (advice on handwashing and containment, I think) were mildly disconcerting (particularly given I'd watched Contagion on the plane) but it was a great experience. 

I could probably talk for hours on end about the gloriousness of the roast goose with noodle soup.  Unbelievable.  But I won't because that's obnoxious and I do too much food-porny crap on here anyway.  So that pretty much cuts short the rest of my HK recollections - I ate more things, saw more things, overloaded my senses.  But I didn't shop at all this trip; too short, too much to eat, too wearing on P's patience.  Astounded at my self-control, frankly. 

I'll have to go back.  Definitely. 

[PS Inclusion of photos recently has been lacking, I know.  More to come hopefully, and I'll work on the quality, I promise!]

[PPS Inclusion of quality writing might be quite nice too, I'm sure.  I've just re-read this again and it's sadly lacking but OH WELL THEM'S THE BREAKS.  Totes lazy round these parts...a work in progress].

Monday, 16 April 2012

exercise or eating: guess which

More European bucket list-y travel this weekend - P and I hit Paris to support friends running the marathon/use their marathon as an excuse for excessive indulgence.

Let me just say I heart Paris in an achy, breaky kind of way.  However, I'm sorta glad I don't live there because all I swear that all I achieved this weekend was eating and drinking.  I ate a baguette on the sideline of the marathon to quell a hangover, for fuck's sake.  This was at about the 35k marker; I'm sure all those poor participants were grateful to see my fat ass munching on a french stick just at the point where they realised that there were still 7ks to go.  Honest to goodness, I ate and drank my bodyweight this weekend and I feel so queasy at work this morning that I think I finally believe in karma.

Also, my friends DOMINATED THE RACE.  One of the girls, in her first ever marathon, came home in 3 hours 47 minutes, which if you ask me is freaking outstanding.  Another ran the entire race on a bung foot and bung knee and still finished in 4 hours 15!  I'm so proud, you have no idea.  I'm not sure I could personally ever handle a marathon (Lumpy Knee does not love the running and frankly, neither do I), but as I watched the stream of runners getting closer to the end of the race, the sense of achievement and pride you could see on faces, albeit mixed with grimaces of pain and suffering, was just lovely and I was a tad jealous.  But then I went back to the baguette and gnawed away my feelings.    

OK BACK TO FOOD.  FOOD FOOD FOOD.  BOOZE BOOZE BOOZE. 

Highlight of Friday was the best chocolate mousse I have ever eaten.  We got in late off the Eurostar, so P and I dropped our bags at the hotel and wandered down to a neighbourhood joint.  We hadn't researched or booked anywhere; we just walked in off the street.  A very nice main was followed by the proffering of the dessert chalkboard and the assurance from Monsieur the proprietor that he had "the best chocolate mousse in Paris".  We laughed; he looked marginally offended and told us to check the internet.  HOLY CRACK PUDDING, that stuff was unbelievable.  DIVINE.  It came in a giant bowl from which you served yourself.  The man was brave to let me at it with a serving spoon…I almost licked the bowl once we were done. 

Saturday's highlight - Aux Deux Amis. Go there.  Just do it.  We were a party of six who ate almost the entire menu, which was composed entirely of specials.  Completely irresistable, fresh and delicious, as were the four bottles of wine we demolished and the aperitifs.  The entire bill came out at something like 35 euros per person, which is fantastic value for money.  Not a particularly fancy place, but it had wonderful atmosphere and was packed to the rafters.  We commenced at 8.30 and rolled out at 1ish, laughing and sated.  It was so lovely to see some of my Masters' classmates, some of whom are now living in Paris.  Two Paraguayans, an Australian, a Belgian and we two Kiwis had lots to share - telling filthy stories about translation difficulties a particular highlight of my night.  Lowlight: falling down the stairs in the Metropolitain, chest first into the railing, jamming my necklace with pointy bits into my decolletage...shameful AND hurty.  At least I have the excuse of ankle booties with five inch heels, but TYPICAL nonetheless.

GORGEOUS BUT LETHAL.  POINTY BITS STABBED STRAIGHT INTO THE BONY BITS OF MY CHEST.  SHUDDUP, I DO HAVE SOME BONY BITS ON MY CHEST.  ABOVE THE SQUISHY BITS.
PRETTY THOUGH, NO?  MAH LADIEEEZ GAVE IT TO ME AS MY SOMETHING NEW BEFORE THE WEDDING.  TASTE, THEY HAZ IT. 
Sunday - it took some celebratory champagne with the runners after the race to get me back on the level.   I am STILL nauseous today after drinking my way home on the Eurostar last night.  Shouldn't complain though - really, I am still blissfully happy after a lovely weekend. 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

me me me

100 things seems like a lot, no?  Well suck it up sunshines, you're about to learn some useless information about me.  It's the Thing To Do, apparently. 

1. I am 5'9", which doesn't seem that tall to me.
2. But 5'9" is a lot taller when your girlfriends average 5'3" between them.
3. Hence, I appear hunched in many, many pictures.
4. That may also be because my paternal grandmother's legacy is sloping shoulders.
5. My paternal grandmother, born and bred in England, was made to avert her eyes from Mannekin Pis in Brussels as a schoolgirl.

MANNEKEN PIS: ATTRACTIVE WEE FELLOW

6. Which is why she laughed genteely when my mother purchased a miniature Manneken for the water feature in the home my family built.
7. I'm pretty close with my Mum and Dad, even though I've not lived in the same city as them since I was 18.
8. But not as close as my sister, who calls my mother at 5pm every day.
9. My sister K and I get on fairly well as long as we don't live together.
10. K and I get on fairly well as long as we're not with Mum together.
11. My husband P and my sister are mates; I love it.
12. They happily watch almost any sport together, bagging each other's favourite players.
13. K is only 17 months younger than I am.
14. That led to a very competitive childhood.
15. Also probably because we're both competitive people anyway.
16. K is much more co-ordinated than me.
17. I am much more verbose than K.
18. I haven't told my family about my blog.
19. I'm not sure if this is fair, given they've featured...
20. I drink my tea (preferably Earl Grey) black.
21. Coffee makes me psychotic but I LOVES IT
22. I cannot stand milk; texture, taste or smell.
23. I am a firm believer in the three-second rule for food on the floor. 
24. Though I generally assess the state of said floor first. 
25. There is never change down the back of my couch; only crumbs.
26. I love that P has the same habit as my maternal grandfather: emptying his change onto the bedside drawers at the end of every day.
27. I love that P doesn't mind when I steal it like I did as a child.
28. Even though it's his coffee fund.
29. I don't use it to buy sweeties anymore though.
30. Much.
31. My first kiss with P was in an old church converted into a nightclub.
32. On the dance floor.
33. Gross.
34. It was worth it.
35. I love to read.
36. I'm pretty indiscriminating when it comes to book selection.
37. But I do sometimes judge a book by its cover.
38. I don't play video games.
39. Because I don't have the skill and I don't like losing.
40. I do however get obsessed with basic, antiquated games like Tetris. 
41. I've probably lost days, nay, months of my life to a Tetris brick when I was a student.
42. I've always thought I have green eyes.
43. But they appear to be sliding further along the spectrum to blue as I age.
44. They even have hints of brown.
45. Muddy eyes, really.
46. I have an upturned nose.
47. My top lip disappears when I smile.
49. I have masses and masses of hair.
50. Cleaning out the shower drain is always a JOY in my household. 
51. Cleaning out the shower drain does not get done often enough in my household.
52. I have to finish my whole plate of food; I can't leave anything behind.
53. P knows this and will deliberately leave a corner of a sandwich or a last bite ("I couldn't possibly eat any more").
54. He takes perverse delight in my compulsion to finish it for him.
55. I still have an old chestnut nag living out his retirement on my parents' farm.
56. It took P a long time to surpass that old nag in my affections.
57. I can't classify myself as a cat or a dog person, no matter what you say.  I love them both.
58. I don't own a pet as I've moved too much in the last decade and don't want to give them an unsettled life.
59. I'm kind of excited about living somewhere pet-friendly long enough to justify giving an unwanted cat or a dog a home.
60. But I'm worried about the fur on my clothes.
61. I shed enough as it is.
62. I love, love, love Ben Folds.
63. The first time I saw him play live, in a small town in upstate New York, we took the only two cabs in town to and from the performance.
64. The first cab driver radioed the second: "You've picked up the Kiwis? Make them sing 'Business Time' by Flight of the Concords!".  We did.

FOTC. MY HEROES.

65. I lost my glasses that night.
66. I took them to the concert so I could see Ben's hands on the piano. I'm such a loser.
67. I've only crashed a car once (touch wood).
68. It was P's newly purchased car, in our parking garage. 
69. It chewed my entire first paycheck from my first job fresh out of university.
70. While the car was insured, P wasn't going to ruin his claims history and he had a massive excess anyway.
71. I subsequently ruined his claims history on the house and contents policy when I lost a gorgeous cognac diamond ring he gave me for my 21st.
72. I can't be trusted with nice things.
73. My first formal job was as a supermarket checkout operator at a rate of NZD$5.66 an hour.
74. I took money from my first paycheck and placed it in the takings from my till, as I thought I'd miscounted and given incorrect change during my first day on checkout.
75. Under the table, I'd had a previous job with K stapling together boxes for flower export.
76. We were paid by the box.
77. By day 2 we developed repetitive strain injuries in our hands and our work rate slowed so much I think we made $20 max from the whole endeavour.
78. I've never been a waitress as I'm too clumsy.
79. I worked part-time jobs in retail, tourism and tutoring instead until I graduated.
80. I was jealous of my sister K's sweet part-time job in a bookstore, until some guy poohed on the floor in the sticker aisle.
81. He was not a child.
82. My most humiliating moment was falling ass-backwards into a rubbish bin at high school in front of a 100 or so kids; I was trying to avoid being hit by a rugby ball.
83. My most humiliating moment probably should be making a scene outside my ex-boyfriend's study hall classroom, not long after he'd dumped me.
84. But I can laugh about that now; teenage drama queen behaviour.  The rubbish bin; I still cringe. 
85. I was more often dumped than I did the dumping.
86. Emotionally needy, what can I say?
87. P loves me enough to lie about the fact that I'm high maintenance.
88. I don't take direction well.
89. I try to take direction well in the office; at home I struggle.
90. P is a far, far better cook than me.
91. I've had to learn from him slowly; it bothers me when he suggests an alternative method for doing something when I'm cooking.
92. Patience? Something I work on.
93. Muffin top? Also something I work on.
94. I face the shower head when I wash, unless I'm rinsing my hair.
95. Or drawing pictures on the shower door in the steam.
96. I get itchy skin in the shoulder seasons.
97. I'm a fabulous wee sleeper.
98. Except for the nighttime bathroom trips.
99. I hate, hate, hate not being able to wash in fresh water after an ocean swim.
100. Rivers and lakes are more my style.

So there you have it.  Some very bizarre free-associating going on there.  Feel like you know me better?

Friday, 13 April 2012

flat hunting

Not a year after we moved into our current place ("We love it here! We're going to live here for ages, aye?!") we're dipping our toes into the real estate market again.  We're currently at the stage of looking online to work out what is available in the inner Auckland suburbs for what price, so we're simply dipping in, not plunging into, the real estate sinkhole.

We're trying to find something reasonable, within a budget that allows us to save a fair bit of money.  P is willing to spend more than I am (this could really be a blanket statement applicable to most areas of our lives except my shoes).  Living somewhere reasonable has become something of a priority, given the chequered real estate past we've had.

Places I Have Lived Since Leaving Home: The List

2001 - Hall of Residence, Dunedin.  I had my own bedroom, shared three showers with eight others (co-ed) and had to queue for dinner.  Not ideal.  However, it had insulation so the next four years were a significant downgrade, independence be damned.

2002 - The "Fancy" North Dunedin flat.  I paid what I thought was the EXORBITANT sum of NZD$85 per week for my room in a six bedroom flat.  I thought it was PLUSH.  I had my own external door, which was never locked in case any of my 5 flatties or their hangers-on found themselves without keys returning from a night out (roughly 5 nights out of 7).  Led to several interesting night-time visits, not all from people with whom I was acquainted (for those of you unfamiliar with the general North Dunedin milieu, people entering your flat without permission are generally just looking to raid your fridge and steal the mince.  Still, a wee bit scary).  Shout out to P's flat that year, in which he had an outdoor bedroom (yes, you read that right).

2003 - The Budget Girls' Flat, Dunedin.  I loved living with three of my best friends for the princely sum of NZD$75 a week each.  I thought I'd lucked out with a large front bedroom, but discovered a ground leak in my wardrobe that turned all of my shoes mouldy within a fortnight.  I also discovered, thanks to a study run by the university, that my bedroom averaged temperatures at night a good degree (celcius) below that enjoyed outdoors.  Which, in a Southern winter, was somewhere below zero.  This was the year I set alight the kitchen by accident; an incident involving a quiche, a tea towel, a hot burner and the distraction of a Big Brother eviction.  Special mention for this year goes to P's flat down the street, which housed 6 boys, had human hair outside, dead mice drowned in the sink, rats in the walls and pink and black mould in the shower.

2004-2005 - Keg Race Street Flat, Dunedin.  Another 'bargain' under NZD$100 a week.  The second year we lived there, we scammed the landlord into buying a dehumidifier because it was slightly disconcerting when the carpet around the ranchslider used to squish underfoot from the night's collected condensation.  New Zealand weather proofing: top notch!  Flatmate's car banged up in the night by a keg sent rolling after the notorious annual keg race.

2006-mid 2009 - Inner City Apartment, Auckland.  P and I moved in together; a one bedroom prime piece of real estate approximately the size of a postage stamp.  OH THE LUXURY: we had a dishwasher!  We couldn't have more than one visitor at a time!  Everyone could hear everyone else pee!  Frankly, I'm surprised we have any boundaries left after living in that flat.  I was just.so.grateful that P was out of town the three days of the risotto-induced food poisoning extravaganza of '08.

2009-2010 - NYC studio.  Living in New York!  How exciting!  Paying more than I had ever paid before in order to be able to watch TV from bed!  A particular highlight was having other people comment on how SPACIOUS it was.  That's right, we could fit a bed AND a couch in our NY studio.  Luxury folks, you have no idea.  The smell of dried, cracking linoleum takes me right back there (as does Chance by Chanel, odour memories are odd, no?). 

2010-2011 - Terraced House in the Burbs, London.  We lived in a GINORMOUS four bedroom house with P's brother and brother's fiancee.  We had a backyard!  We had a grown up size kitchen!  We also had a rubbish commute and a mouse problem!  And a constant battle over the household's ambient temperature because in winter, I think 18 degrees in a house with holes in the floorboards is too cold, but not everyone agreed!

2011-2012 - My fave, the SE1 Two Bedroom Mews Flat.  Just P and I.  Bliss.  Pricey, because of the ability to walk to work.  But OHMIGAWD we have a bath AND a shower!  A second bedroom!  A reasonably sized living room!  We've loved it and are loathe to leave.

There you go; another FASCINATING installment in the life of A. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

knee update

So, you may recall my Lumpy Knee from the previous blogpost, in which I was finally visiting a doctor and marginally excited about doing something about it.  Particularly if something involved syringing. 

Well, the visit to the doctor's office was one of the more shameful I've had in recent history. 

Scene: I left work early to get to the appointment and realised en route that I was wearing tights.  Not ideal for allowing examination of a bung knee and worse, having been in shoes all day the tights and my feet were a mite stale, shall we say (shame: I has none.  I just aired my grotty feet on the internet).  I arrived just on time, somewhat breathless having dashed from the bus stop.  I breezed through the waiting room - a brief transition during which the display flashed that the emergency waiting time was two and a half hours.  My speedy entry/exit from the room garnered me daggers side-eye from all the poor sickly types lining the walls. 

I explained my lump and the running soreness etc, following which I whipped off my tights on Doctor's orders. 

She took one look at said: "You realise you've got a matching lump on the other knee, right?"

So it turns out I'm a complete moron.  I made her compare the two and admit that Righty Lumpy was just marginally larger than Lefty Lump.  I loudly complained that Lefty didn't hurt.  She looked at me like I was a drongo and told me just to take some paracetamol before running on if Righty hurts when I run.  Yep, I felt pretty small.  Also now feel very self-conscious about my knees and their weird knobbliness and will be wearing midi-skirts only this summer so that people don't think I'm a freak show.

DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT ASKING FOR A PICTURE, invisible readers.  Too bad, so sad - it ain't gonna happen.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

confrontation station

When she said "I hope your children and grandchildren are happy when you die and I hope you die soon", the entire carriage hissed an intake of breath followed by a chorus of low ooohs. 

++++++++++++++++

P and I caught the express train from Edinburgh to London yesterday, after a somewhat disastrous Easter weekend in which we saw very little of Edinburgh and quite a lot of the toilet bowl and linoleum on the floor of our rented accomodation.  I'll say only that we can't pin it down to the haggis, cullen skink or the whiskey but I shan't be partaking of those wee treats again any time soon, as much as I enjoyed them before the illness of doom struck.

The express train takes four and a half hours, stopping at Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Darlington and York en route.  We'd been fairly hungover on the journey from London to Edinburgh and the trip had been marginally painful (lightened by one absolutely brilliant moment: P overhearing the late-20s/early-30s man across the aisle sexy-whisper to his girlfriend "you've got a lot of junk in that trunk, yeah" after she reached up to get her coat from the overhead rack).  Following that trip and in our weakened state yesterday we were apprehensive about spending a chunk of time in a confined space in the company of others. 

Because I am a precious wee flower, I don't travel well with my back to the motion; as I sweatily clutched our tickets on Platform 2 at Edinburgh Waverley Station, I blessed the foresight I'd had to reserve seats a month ago.  I'd booked two seats facing the direction of travel, seated at a shared table of four so that we would have some space for books, food etc.  But as the train pulled into the platform, empty, we noticed through the window that the usual reserved tickets placed above the seats weren't in place.  Oh well, we thought, everybody appears to be lined up at a particular carriage, and we can hear people discussing where their seats are.  No problem, we'll get our reserved seats.

We boarded and I tried to identify where our seats were.  Scanning the carriage, I noted that there was a bit of a discussion, shall we say, happening in the centre of the carriage.  I checked the numbers again and sure enough, said discussion was happening with a woman seated in the spot I'd reserved, facing her daughter who was in one of the table seats opposing the direction of travel.  I walked down the carriage in time to hear the woman say to an elderly couple "no, I won't move, I got here first and I don't care".    Space being at a premium and only two other free seats in view, I chimed in lightly without thinking - "oh, I'm sorry, I think the other seats on the table might be ours".  A foolish move on my part.

Our antagonist completely lost her shit.  She started throwing bags into another empty seat nearby, yelling about mistreatment at the hands of the English and crying about having to travel to London because of the death of her father and the failure of anyone to understand or care.  This might have otherwise garnered some sympathy, but she peppered the elderly couple with abuse and threw other passengers' belongings.  She whacked her daughter with her bags.  The daughter was variously yelling at her mother to calm down and move, but yet was also abusing the older gent who'd asked them to move in the first place.  Things took a turn for the worse when the woman belted the gent with a magazine and screamed the death wish recorded above.  This was the point at which he in turn lost his shit and threatened to call the police if she didn't calm down.  We all sat down then to a chorus of the woman's sobbing, the entire carriage stiff with awkwardness, realising that there was four and a half hours to go in this confined space. 

WHEN THINGS ARE THAT AWKWARD, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME AVOIDING EYE CONTACT.  HERE IS A SHITTY PICTURE I TOOK FILLING TIME ON THE TRAIN TRIP FROM HELL.  TO BE FAIR, THE COASTLINE WAS PRETTY CAPTIVATING IN ITS OWN RIGHT. 

Almost immediately after we'd been seated however, the conductor came on the speaker to announce (and apologise) that there were no seat reservations available on the service.  And announced it several times after each stop.  Each occasion started our antagonist's diatribe afresh.

It was an extremely long afternoon.