Wednesday, 27 November 2013

o christmas tree

TRALALALALALA let us pretend I didn't just angsty word-vomit all over my blog, shall we?

Let's focus on my happy homemaker project of the week instead!

CHRISTMAS TREE.  My house will smell like Christmas this year or bust!
First, reminiscence of Xmas trees past (because what is a post from A without a self indulgent diversion into her FASCINATING personal history)

1986: I produce my first tree decorations, including a paper chain that got me into serious trouble at kindy when I tried to teach the other kids how to use the scissors in order to make them. 

1987: Milk carton Santa Claus produced.  I made my mother sit him at the bottom of the tree EVERY year thereafter until well into my 20s when he mysteriously 'vanished'.  I still ask about whether he's turned up again.  Mum dodges the reply. 

1988: Ugly wax crayon angels made at school with my sister.

1989-1995: Fight over whose ugly wax crayon angel got to top the tree that year (and, incidentally, whose was whose).  Constant fights between Mum and Dad over leaving the tree lights on all night (i.e. woman who likes twinkling versus man who cannot leave a room without turning off all switches).

1996: The Giant Tree that we could decorate only half way up.  The top of it looked very, very lonely.

Late Nineties: Who knows?  I clearly could have cared less, while wrapped up in teenage angst.

2000: I work in the Farmer's Christmas Store AFTER CHRISTMAS and swear off any decorating ever again EVER IN MY LIFE while listening to the same 7 jazzed up carols on a loop over 13 hour shifts, perpetually hungover. 

2003: Bangkok's answer to a Christmas Tree: an enormous recycled bottle tree.

2006-2008: Are you kidding me?  Like we're going to get a tree into this 46m2 apartment crammed full of our crap.

2009: I decorate a standing lamp as a Christmas tree using tinsel in New York, as we are too broke for a tree.

2010: We live with P's brother, who goes nuts over the tree and buys expensive decorations at the Cologne Christmas markets.  We purchase one measly decoration for ourselves, and it has sat in a box ever since. 

2011: We work our faces off and never see the inside of our flat anyway, so why bother?

2012: See 2006-2008.  Where the fuck would we put it?


I am determined to enjoy the lead up to Christmas this year.  We have struck no presents deals with just about every relative in creation, so I needn't panic even over getting pressies under the tree - I'm just going to have a tree and sniff it regularly, for my hit of Xmas spirit.  Along with an actual hit of Xmas spirits because you don't think I'm missing out on opportunities for those, do you?  Last year's Xmas drink of the year was the negroni, what shall we do this year?  I'm thinking something whiskey based.  This is a bizarre tradition concocted as adults with my parents, who one year decided margarita slushies were the way of the future at Christmas time.   

the elephant in my room

I have been studiously avoiding writing about what's on my mind.  Partly, the avoidance stems from the lack of cohesion in my thinking on the topic, though, when has that ever stopped me before?  Partly, its because at least one or two of you who check in here know me in real life and this is not something I've discussed with anyone but P.  Not my mum, not Fat Harry the cat from next door.  I don't intend to discuss it with anyone else, either, so please please please, let it lie where it falls and don't say anything.  Partly, it's also because it is a tough, personal, emotional topic to write about, particularly when people you know are struggling to get or stay pregnant. 

Yep, it's the one where I process my feelings on children.  Mine, specifically.  I've been burning to put it in words and now that I write I've given licence to the thoughts to lick into flame, sucking up the oxygen in the room. 

Here are the facts pertaining to me, children and pregnancy, as I know them:

I am 31.  I am not a spring chicken, but neither am I over the hill.  I am in a stable relationship.  I have a home with space.  We are not pressed financially (aside from this week when rates, mortgage, water bills, you name it I paid it and I cursed the god of outgoings copiously).  I have always believed my future involved children. 

I like achieving [but oh fuck me I cannot find a way to talk about ambition that leaves me comfortable that I haven't fried my chicken in my career space].  Fundamentally, I don't know how compatible my job is with parenthood.  Excuse me, how compatible it is with motherhood because god knows having a baby doesn't seem to affect the careers of many men, does it? 

I am good at entertaining babies.  I like to sniff and squeeze them.  Toddlers leave me pretty cold.  They want so much of you.  I don't really know any other children of other ages. 

I love my husband: desperately, calmly, furiously, wholly, every which way.  I want my children to have him as a father.  I watch him with our nephews and godchildren and something inside me squeezes very, very tight.  Yet I love our relationship as it is: lazy days, busy days, uninterrupted time for one another on the weekend.  Travel with him.  Restaurants with him.

Lots of my friends are having babies.  Birth announcements pop up on Facebook as regularly as birthday wishes, it seems.  I was shown non-alcoholic beer in the pantry this weekend, and I squealed with delight.  If it sticks, she said, it's only four weeks.  Friends have suffered because of pregnancy: loss thereof, lack thereof. 

We are warned: your life will change so much.  Enjoy it now, or don't do it at all.  No one speaks about how children have enriched their lives, really.  I want to know why they love it so much, despite the aching and the groaning and the hollow envy they express at my life (having all that time to yourself! they say.  And I feel a stab of unworthiness at being a double income, no kid person, not the smug sense of self satisfaction that is intimated by the childbearer.  And then I feel a pang of irritation: like you fucking know how I spend my hours.)  But wouldn't seeing our children grow, loving someone like my mother loves me - wouldn't that be worth it? 

I want to experience pregnancy.  But I don't want to hate my body more than I do now. 

I will be the only child in my immediate family to have children.  That's pressure.  Yet there's no pressure coming from my immediate family, other than that bald fact.  My mother and father intimated recently that they daren't ask us about kids, but have not expressed a preference either way.  Watching my mother and father with children induces that same internal squeeze, seizing my organs and constricting my breathing.



Those are my facts.  'Facts', I say, hiding feelings of inner squeeze and angst and desire and concern behind language that seeks to make it all a scientific calculation. 

I'm not, by the by. Conception has not occured, immaculate or filthy or happy or terrifying or otherwise.   I haven't thrown birth control to the wind to see where the breeze or my uterus takes us. 

What if I can't?

What if I can?

Monday, 25 November 2013

in which i am sweaty and hairy

So, this weekend was amazing weatherwise (26 degrees! and higher! in Auckland in November!) and you will be pleased to know, no doubt, that I came away sunburn-free.  I may not be able to keep resolutions relating to the consumption of crap from the Daily Mail (though I must say, my consumption has dropped considerably since resolving that it's a misogynistic piece of shit tabloid rag) but I am two weeks down with no sunburn.  That, my dear readers, counts as a success.

Yes, awesome weather.  Not so awesome?  Pushing the mower at 11.45am on Saturday, sweating up a righteous storm, then realising I'm due at the hairdresser by noon.  I changed my t-shirt but continued to sweat profusely in the car en route (despite windows down + arms raised to encourage the flow of air) and then again in the chair.  Poor old M, my hairdresser, must have been revolted.  However, he managed to keep a straight face and didn't even punish me too much with the hairdryer, which was kind of him.  I had to run straight to a bbq following the hair cut...I may have been vaguely, um, glowing, but at least I had good hair, right?

(Well, I've had it cut to what I believe is known as clavicle length in bloggy circles. So hot right now.  However, because I'm cursed blessed with a great deal of hair, M added some 'long layers'.  I'm not convinced I don't look like Rachel circa '98...which, you know, is a mixed blessing because I would have LOVED that haircut at the time.  Not so sure about it all these years later.  I am definitely a member of the generation for which everything in life is referable to Friends.)

There are three Mondays left, after today, until the Christmas holidays.  I am unbelievably stoked about that fact.  I am absolutely desperate for a proper break.  Not that I deserve it, per se, but I want it very, very much.  Cannot wait.  Having all that about undeserving and desperation, I'm taking next Friday off too for a jaunt to Sydney.  Watch out Australia, I want to be in you.  NAOW.  I am going to have one of those terribly cliched weekend city breaks in which one takes in basically none of the cultural life but trashes their credit card and eats/drinks/drops etc.  We have a few friends in Sydney, so there'll be a spot of visiting and hopefully some beach time too.  Ha, poor Sydney, looking at this pasty bum!

So.  That's te karere for today.  Fin.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

the lead up to xmas begins

Remember the time I wore a white dress to a charity ball and nearly bled all over it?  Well folks, it's that time of year again! Not the inappropriate bleeding, but the charity ball part.  Which? UGH. 

I go to these things as P's +1, ostensibly to make sparkling conversation.  It's not obligatory but it's a nice thing to do to support P and his career and his workplace's desire to contribute to a worthy charity. 

Charitable giving is good.  I approve of charitable giving.  Over the past year, I have sipped wine from the glasses I purchased in the blind auction at last year's ball with a smug glow.  P has taken the signed, framed Kiwis' Rugby League jersey to work, so I never have to look at it again (honestly.  Let's just take a moment to let that sink in.  He purchased sporting memorabilia and let me pick it up as a 'surprise'.  I utterly abhor all sporting memorabilia - that ugly, ugly sponsor's shirt from some car racing thingo has only escaped my matches by virtue of being pit-lane-inflammable, the motherfucker.  Oh, and the All Blacks jersey because torching that would lead to divorce, not to mention revocation of my citizenship.  AND P KNOWS THIS HATRED.  He thought it was hilarious.  It wasn't.  It was pushing my buttons for the sake of it and I just about throttled him.  I certainly unleashed my patented Look of Disdain and Contempt.  Whoa, digression + a rant, you lucky things.)

Aaaaanyway, despite my approval of charitable giving and my appreciation for one of last year's charitable purchases, I still don't fancy going tonight.  (a) I still don't approve of the excessive spending that goes into these charity ball things, (b) I don't fancy making small talk just now, and (c) I think I'll look fat in my lovely Juliette Hogan dress.  It's not the dress's fault, it's mine.  Vanity and social insecurities, just wonderful.  I'm really pushing myself for improvement, hey? 


Monday, 18 November 2013

it's not so bad

I had a lovely weekend with my family, thanks.  No drama, just sunshine and laughter and chasing cows and pink wine and homemade bread and flights that were on time, thank goodness.  Weekends like that make me wish that everyone could enjoy a relationship with their immediate family that is as fundamentally happy as mine.  Don't get me wrong; we have/had our moments, but I love them very much and they're very, very good to me.

I thought I ought to write that down, in the spirit of avoiding this blog's usual fodder, the commemoration of bad.  Another Damn Life wrote about the 'perpetually escalating competition to prove who among us is the biggest disaster'.  I read that and cringed, physically backing off the monitor.  Yes, the name of this blog is Hopeless.  Yes, I record for my own (& others?) amusement the dopey goings-on at Chez A.  It's not about competing though, I promise.  I'm quite proud of my own adulthood, really.  This blog does contain allusions to my overall contendedness in the grand scheme of things.  However, it is devoted in the main to recording silly minutiae.  No one reads my archives more than me (no one really reads my blog, which is fine with me.  I don't go out of my way to advertise it; no comments really on the blogs of others, no facebook or twitter 'new post up nows!')  I write this for me.  For the need to memorialise. It so happens that I record something that makes me feel close to my family, who have been teasing me for years about that very thing - being impractical. 

In all honesty, I find that writing about the good is hard.  Writing about the bad is cathartic - whether the bad be silly or terrible.  I shake screeds of words about the bad out of my keyboard, but I find the good is usually stuck in there, with the crumbs and moulted eyelashes.  My Kiwi sense of cultural cringe - that anything I say about the good will be seen as a terrible boast, qualified six ways from Sunday or no - heavily edits anything I wish to say about the good. 

All of that is by way of justification, but also in saying I that I agree with Another Damn Life.  We shouldn't compete amongst ourselves to find the biggest klutz/cereal-for-dinner-eater/etc.  That smacks of laying claim to an 'adorable & endearing trait' that writers try to give humanity to their thinly-veiled idealistic female characters (oh you know you could name about a zillion examples from rom-coms, chick lit and young adult fiction.  Not to say those characters don't fulfill a need, certainly).  Anyway, I really like what Lyn had to say about it.

Now, regarding the comment Lyn made in an earlier post about borrowing Amalah-style OMG CAPS LOCK writing...guilty as charged.  Hah. I really need to find my own style and niche, which will no doubt involve tonnes more ill-judged parenthesis and dashes and semi-colons.  I enjoy that, clearly.

So, yes.  Today I stumbled across a blog that hit all of my insecurity buttons in a manner I admire.  And things are generally pretty good, here.

(I found Lyn through Kirsty of A Safe Mooring, whose writing I also very much enjoy.  I am indebted to them both.) 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

why I shouldn't live alone

Alllllll by myyyyyself last night so I ate chips and some dip for dinner.  I drank half a beer in the spirit of rebellion but it just wasn't that tasty* so I gave it up as a bad job.  I then hid all the evidence from P in the rubbish bin.  I shouldn't have been so worried about his judgment of my food choices because he turned up at some ungodly hour muttering about chicken gizzards, yakitori, the BIG sake bottle and how susceptible he is to peer pressure / FOMO.**  I had understood he was going to 'drop in to' a goodbye party for a colleague.  Hah!***

Instead of taking a bath, which was seriously considered, I flicked channels between:
  • Extreme Makeover Weight Loss edition
  • Keeping Up With the Kardashians
  • XFactor US
Yup, a good night had by all.  I am a walking, talking cliche, people.  That's just embarrasing, really, and yet I just don't care.  Sometimes a bit of escapism is just what the doctor ordered, though I do have sneaking guilt about supporting objectification etc (I am also trying to wean myself from the Daily Mail, that stupendous hate-read that I know I should avoid and yet find myself killing time on.  God it's terrible, I shan't support that misogyny any more! You read it here, let's see if I can stick to my resolutions.)

I was glad P was out last night, not just because I could indulge in all sorts of ridiculous behaviours, but also because the facial peeling reached its zenith.  I was shedding so much, it kept falling into my eyelashes.  Disgusting. 

*Friend (male, believe it or not) recently pooh-poohed the craft beer trend.  'I like my beer to taste of...nothing', he said.  After drinking some revolting, hoppy IPA last night I have some sympathy for his point of view but having said that, the most tasteless beer around is like Miller or some shit and that's a bridge too far for me.  Nothing like a cold Heineken, or an Export Gold shandy (there's my upper North Island roots! Shandies with Dad after he'd finished DIYing something that you held the level or string for was like the pinnacle of father-daughter quality time!).  Love me some Brooklyn Lager too, in the spirit of eating crappy tex-mex on campus rooftop in NYC. 

** FOMO = fear of missing out, for those who have been living under a rock. 

*** He also woke me up with a jerking shoulder blade to the face.  In his words "but I was getting the basketball back off someone".  We continue the nighttime shenanigans almost unabated, since my nose-breaking night terrors.  I'm seriously concerned about what's next.  I mean, we've broken the blood barrier already. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

views and my husband

It occurred to me two or three nights ago that it can't be easy living with a person with such, ah, vehement opinions.

Well, it either occurred to me or was pointed out.  P hissed 'I swear there's just no pleasing you, A', as I launched what I thought was quite an incisive take-down on a terribly retrograde opinion he expressed. 

I'm full of opinions and I just want to share them with P, my nearest and dearest.  'Share'; 'brainwash' - basically the same thing.  I desperately want him to agree with me in all things and I use rhetoric to such devastating effect that he can't help but come round, right? 

Well, no.  Wrong, actually.  I have thought about all of this further while picking lint out of my belly button or something similarly productive, and I have realised:
  • When P ventures an opinion on a topic I feel strongly about, I either agree vehemently or disagree with, well, malice.  What I have been believing are 'spirited discussions' may in fact be just me working on my manifesto, while P tries to interject.
  • When P ventures an opinion or poses an argument on a subject I am more ambivalent about, I am just as likely to say 'I can't be bothered right now'.
  • If I am concerned that I'm going to find P's opinion on any given topic offensive, I either launch an offensive or shut the conversation down entirely.
Hmmm.  Sophisticated reactions, no?  I probably ought to work on this.  It *might* just be possible that I'm not the be all and end when it comes to having views on things.  I don't know everything, much as it pains me to admit it (AND IT DOES. It hurts so bad.)

Don't ask me if I've apologised.  I'm afraid the answer might embarrass us both. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

crispity (a promise)

Seriously, if you ever visit New Zealand, please, please, please wear sunscreen.  You should wear it anyway everywhere else, but the burn time here is horrendous. I cannot emphasise enough how crucial sunscreen is.  A burn in NZ is more than just a gentle glow or a tan line.  You don't just go brown the next day. 

After a childhood and youth of sun stupidity, I finally got the message.  As you may remember, P and I burned ourselves terribly on our honeymoon and I swore I would be more careful.  Aside from some ill-judged swipes with the sunscreen leaving the occasional exposed bit of back fat, I've been quite conscientious, applying SPF in my moisturiser and squirting the good stuff all over my body before any prolonged exposure. 

I can't believe I was so stupid on Sunday that I stepped out without it.  It was overcast when I left but that's no excuse.  I should have had it in my bag and it should have been on my face.  I am a glowing red ember from the decolletage up, with a toasty, roasty, crackling nose. 

This is not vanity (though a shiny red forehead does show up every crease).  This is not just because my face is hot with burn and embarrasment right now.  This is long term health. 

I'm not doing this again.  I'm keeping out of the sun or keeping sunscreen on, end of story.  That's that.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

a litany of useless behaviours

I worked out my ideal career this morning, trudging to work under my own personal black cloud:

Professional, Work From Home, Dumpling Taster.

I am uniquely qualified for this role:
  • I love dumplings
  • I eat a lot of dumplings
  • I'm very good at staying in bed
  • I have opinions on things, like dumplings
  • etc
Sadly, I'm not sure where to apply for this role.  Please to tell, if you know.

So, yes, I was feeling a bit dark about being all contractually required to turn up to my place of employment and be employed, today.  That's because I had a completely hopeless weekend, in classic A style:
  • Lost my phone.  Again.  That's the phone twice and wallet once in 6 weeks.  On the bright side, it turned up 24 hours later.  On the dim side, I lost it at the same bar as last time. 
  • Lost my dignity attempting to dance with P on Friday night.  Managed to push him over on the dance floor.
  • Broke the button off P's pants when we got home.  Don't ask me how / why - I'm not even sure myself.
  • Crushed my thumb as I was closing up the ladder. 
  • Got heinously sunburnt in the Domain (when I left the house there was no need for sunscreen - I wasn't intentionally stupid!  I promise!)
  • Could barely move during the Hollie Smith concert due to hangover from previous evening's...festivities (verdict = she was fab, loved the new stuff, technical difficulties aside a great show.)
  • Scared myself shitless - from noticing a spider.
  • Killed the romance in my relationship with a gastro issue...followed by falling asleep flat on my back with my mouth open, snoring.  SO sexy.
Just lovely. 

Friday, 8 November 2013


Ugh, all that crap about my urinary tract and peeing in leaky cups has got to get off the top of the blog. 

Um.  Um.  How do you follow a diatribe like that up?

[I've sat on the above sentences for 24 hours now.  Following it up was really, really stinking hard]

OK.  OK.  Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood.  Bought this last Friday as a wee treat, finished by Sunday.  Enjoyed is probably the wrong word - there's some very disturbing content, but I think it's a wonderful, thought-provoking commentary on modern day issues set in a dystopian future.  I'm still not sure I get the ending; going to have a bit of a re-read and then plunge on with the next in the series.  I really want to recommend it to P, but I think he'll reach the child exploitation bits and freak with horror. 

I also picked up a copy of I, Claudius by Robert Graves.  I have listened to this on audiobook before - I forget who narrated it but he has a very distinctive tone and I'm very much enjoying him as my mental narrator as I slurp up the words on the page.  It's just interesting, that's what it is.  I haven't read that much about the Roman Empire post-Caesar and I love a bit of intrigue and scheming so this is perfect for 10 minutes pre-sleep reading.  Livia is a nasty firecracker and I love it. 

What else, culture-wise?  I'm going to see Hollie Smith perform this Saturday.  Yup.  That's probably about it. 

That's right - I have had Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (Susanna Clarke) sitting on my bedside table for an aeon.  I was reading Julia's archives the other day and she mentioned that while she felt like she should enjoy it, she just couldn't get through it.  I have had this exact experience with Jonathan Strange.  I even took it to the bath a few weeks ago and, well, gave up again afterwards.  If I can't get into a book in the bath then there's something seriously wrong.  To be fair, when a book is that hefty it isn't ideal tub material...but I'm usually still willing to cut it a break. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

far, far too much information. you were warned

I have been so stressed the past two days I think I've given myself a urinary tract infection.  Charming, hein? 

The stress is worky (when isn't it?) and it's sort of done with now (at least, in part) so here's hoping I can neutralise those bad bacteria with a sousing in cranberry juice and let my body regain its natural equilibrium (HIPPY ALERT).  To be completely fair, my body has always seemed to have some kind of bizarre preference for making me feel like I'm peeing razor blades so perhaps 'natural equilibrium' is going too far.  Detente, perhaps.  I would call my tendency to develop UTIs at the drop of a hat a traitorous body habit but I do have to note that it worsens in times of change, stress or general self abuse (2001-2005, the University Years, aka the Wasted Years in a Manky Pub or At Student Health Begging for the Good Stuff).  And yes, before you ask, I'm very good at wiping my own bum so that's not it, ladies and gentlemen.

I find I am generally able to treat UTIs by drinking cranberry juice (the real deal that is - anything drink below 15% actual cranberry juice means I have to drink enough to be peeing like a racehorse AND I get the joy of wondering what the fuckity fuck the rest of it contains), rather than antibiotics.  I found myself scanning packets in Hong Kong one time wondering whether the miscellaneous fruit pictured was, in fact, a cranberry or some kind of warped blueberry (have I told you this story before?  I feel like I probably have.  OH WELL, SOZ BOUT THAT!) 

Drinking the juice is far preferable to the antibiotics - don't want 'em if I can avoid 'em, they don't always work, their lead-in time for relief is slower and you have to go to the doctor and pee in a cup.  No thanks, I'm a TERRIBLE cup pee-er.  I find myself nervous with the collection devices at the doctors and that generally leads to pee on the hand.  Not my favourite.  During the pregnancy scare of about '07 I found myself peeing in the lid of a hairspray can in desperation as I needed a vessel in my own bathroom, only to discover the tiny hole in the cap, which WHAT? So there was pee all over the sink.

So, you should know I sat down at the computer to just write about, well, whatever came to mind.  And this is it.  I'm sorry.  Journal = posterity = truth? Or something, anyway.  I'm vile, but you knew that. 

Monday, 4 November 2013

i want to help, goddammit

Can you believe I berated my husband for "doing too much" yesterday?  As we prepared to host dinner for 10 adults, one teenager and two children most of whom are related to him by blood?  Neither can I.

As nuts as it seems, he is so capable that I found myself stamping my foot at him.  "I SAID I would do the potatoes".  Poor man; he handed me stalks of mint to mollify me - 'can you please rinse and strip these, that'd be very, um, helpful'.  Hymph. 

I love his capability - it's a very nice counterpoint to my laziness and general lack of common sense - but when it comes to the crunch, I'm embarrassed that all my family and friends know he's the wonderful driving force of this unit.  They're all extremely admiring of his skills.  By contrast, my immediate family appear to be convinced that I never 'cook' more than opening a bag of chips and lord only knows his family must think I'm a special case (the one time I made meringues I received such praise I waited to be handed a dog treat, to reinforce the trick.  Kindly and genuinely meant praise, of course - issues entirely my own.) 

P always wins.  He let me pour drinks and top-ups, with only gentle directive nods at empty glasses when I was slacking.  I found myself on dishes duty.  (Ha - his cousin came in to help, looked around with dawning horror on her face and said 'you don't have a dishwasher?!', which, fair enough.  Dark ages in these parts, I tell you.)  Bizarrely, I felt so grateful to him for handing over these chores - I mean, honestly?  That's ridiculous.  He's such a good host - I want to be more like him, I guess. 

In other news, do make sure you wear close-toed shoes when operating machinery.  I very nearly made the decision to mow and strim in jandals yesterday; very grateful I didn't, as I strimmed the toes of P's old hi-top kicks.  Hopeless 4 Eva.  Apparently.