Monthly Archives: September 2009

Tidbits

- T’s aunt and uncle won the grand prize in some competition run by Coca Cola – $250,000 and a bunch of tickets to the Rugby World Cup. Crazy! You never actually KNOW the people who win things like that. Well, until now. They’re lovely and deserving people, so I’m glad they won and am happy for them.

– My mum just got back from a quick visit back to Malaysia. I’m feeling EXTREMELY unaccomplished after hearing all about what family/family friends are up to. Doing postgrad in San Francisco/Switzerland/Hong Kong, travelling to Milan, getting married etc….

– I mentioned to her we were looking for a duvet/vacuum. She responded by offering to buy both for me as an early Christmas present. KBV40_1large So, so awesome. I don’t know how much she got the duvet for (queen size goes for maybe $60 to 100+, but she wouldn’t have paid that much) and got a blinging vacuum ($270, down to $110). It is seriously awesome. It is the best vacuum I’ve ever encountered – barring Dysons which I’ve heard so much about – and is so hitech it looks like something from Transformers. It’s going to be unbelievably helpful this weekend when we get to cleaning up the old place. I am SO grateful and better make sure I get her an awesome Christmas present. I was planning on putting together a big hamper for the whole family, which I think will be useful because…

– She just told me (after giving me the gifts) that she almost lost her job. To elaborate, she’s gone from two days a week to one day a fortnight. That’s a 3/4 cut.  They may as well have laid her off!

Out with the old

I wish my parents were more like other parents and kept all my childhood stuff stored away. Unfortunately, they’ve pawned it all off back on me. And  I just don’t have the space for it. Every time I move, I clean out a little more. I throw out a few things and slooooowly am cutting down on the crap I’ve collected. I’m talking diaries, drawings, the several versions of my “great novel”, old schoolwork, exams, reports, you name it.

At what point do you get rid of this stuff? I don’t really know. I have a hard time letting go of things.

But this time I’ve purged more than ever before. I really feel like I’m moving into a new stage of life and I don’t need to hold on to the past. I’m not going to need old reports. I don’t want  to read my angsty journals; they make me cringe, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to read them either. I doubt I’ll ever write a bestselling novel, but if I do, it sure won’t stem from the pages and pages I filled when I was eleven years old!

Army wives

I was very nearly an army girlfriend. Thankfully – and I don’t say that to belittle those who are, it’s just not a lifestyle I want for myself – T chose not to continue down that path.

But the army still holds a sort of fascination for me. I often come across blogs written by army wives/girlfriends and devour them for reasons I can’t quite articulate. I guess I admire them, while thinking “I’m glad that’s not me”, because I couldn’t handle the separation. I recently dealt with one of the defence spokespeople regarding a feature we were running on NZ troops in Afghanistan. He was pleased to hear about it; he said there were a lot of army families out there who were “hungry for news”.

I know there are many people out there in relationships with soldiers. I can’t imagine how hard it must be.

I can’t imagine being apart for months at a time, with only the occasional letter, and having to hear about events through the mainstream media. When T was down in Waiouru, and then Christchurch, I got letters from him basically every week. That wasn’t too bad. Being stationed in a whole other country though… it just wouldn’t be that simple.

We had been together for about two months before he left. He was in training for six months. I went down to visit him a few times, and it was always so horrendously awkward. I didn’t know how to act around him, having not seen him in so long, and having his family around whom I barely knew.

I loved his letters. It was like an old fashioned courtship. I still have every single one, including most of the envelopes they came in, because he often wrote little quotes and sayings on the back of them. He also misspelled my name on lots of the early ones, which is sort of endearing. Sort of.

It sounds stupid to say, but I became extremely emotional during that time. I don’t really know why; maybe it was the isolation, who knows? I never used to cry at soppy ads or tragic movie endings. Now I find myself leaking tears at any remotely sad TV show. And when I watched The Perfect Storm? Or the Green Mile? I bawled for about twenty minutes straight.

Shortly after he was first approved for unemployment, WINZ tried to send him on a short army course. (I think it’s pretty much what the TF [territorial forces] goes through for their training). He explained he’d already been through much, much more than that. Which of course begs the question – why leave?

For me, I would’ve said (aside from obviously despising the regimented routine) not wanting to die in the line of duty. For him, it was more like not wanting to be trained and paid to kill others.

His stint in the army still provides endless conversation fodder for him. And sometimes it is tempting – cheap housing, albeit in the middle of nowhere, generous retirement, steady job.

But the army life isn’t something I want, and I’m glad I don’t have to be the one to make that choice. I remember how hard it was for T to readjust to civilian life when he came back to Auckland. Not just in terms of the weather, and clothing, but being around people – SO many more people – and living daily life. The stress manifested itself physically, and it was weeks if not months before he got used to the routine and could sleep and go out normally again.

New house

Okay, dear readers, much has been going on! Let’s try to recap.

I got the death flu.

We moved.

And I haven’t had the internet.

Moving has been a miracle – nothing short of a dream. I’m honestly amazed.

Basically, our (nonheinous) flatmate went ahead and secured a new house. It was sitting vacant, but the LL offered half price rent for our notice period to help us through – what a star of a guy. He may be young, but he has way more money than our old LL, thankfully. Right now we’re all moved in, but are still paying rent on the old place… unless new tenants move in early. There are possibilities, but the LL is being incredibly delusional and trying to up the rent to $420 (despite the increasing damp problems and safety issues from the state house hoodlums). We still need to move a few things, CLEAN, and sort out T’s old car – he needs to take a few more parts off to send off to an Invercargill buyer, then he has someone keen to take the rest of the car off his hands. Meanwhile, I am hoping to square up heinous flatmate’s outstanding bills ($300 plus).

I am just so deliriously happy to live in a dryer, warmer and safer place.

This place is still overpriced even after a rent reduction, but it was through a private LL (very rare) so no letting fee. He didn’t even run a credit check – our flatmate REALLY lucked out this time! There’s no way he would have passed even a basic property manager’s screening. Frankly, it’s unbelievable he got this place (and I’m quite annoyed considering  it took FOUR MONTHS for me just to get our last place), but the LL liked him and didn’t want a repeat of his last tenant debacle (large family from the Islands, illegal overstayers, brought over tons of their extended family and crowded the house…till Immigration showed up). We’re paying pretty much the same rent, for a smaller but INSULATED room, an alarm, dishwasher, covered parking, and Smart Vent system.

Bad things: Still up to an hour’s commute, but there is more choice in buses here. Still my name on the Telecom account and bill, but not power or rent. Still have to deal with wrestling/fighting flatmates, but I’m slowly getting to where I want to be….

And with heinous flatmate gone – oh my gosh, the relief! No more rubbish and recycling sitting in the kitchen, no more toilet rolls disappearing and never being replaced, no more mud and dirt all over the floors, no more cutlery disappearing or breaking, no more piles of dirty dishes, no more cordless phone disappearing and going flat, no more crumbs and spills all over the kitchen, no more lids being left off margarine containers….the list goes on.

Catchup

Just a quick one!

I’ve been horrenously sick, and haven’t had the internet (the HORROR)…..because we moved.

It was all very sudden, and the week’s gone by in a bit of a whirlwind.

I wasn’t really looking forwarrd to giving notice, but T took care of all that. Until now, I didn’t realise what a toll living in that hellhole was taking on him; he was pretty stressed out too but just never said anything.

T really stepped up and took my “If we move before graduation, I am not to have to organise or worry about ANYTHING” mantra seriously. He handled a lot of things and made the move run as smoothly as possible. Basically It’s a very cute house – I’ll post up pics of some of the woodwork and doors soon, as well as our BLUE room!

Spending report

We spent a fair bit on discretionary stuff this last fortnight.

Week 1
$10 to enrol T for learning workshops at uni.
$12.50 on (A Question of) Scruples, a board game everyone should play at least once in their lives.
$3 beer for T at his friend’s 21st
$14.90 on Saturday dinner from Pizza to Go

Plus over $50 on gas, due to driving around getting quotes for car repair, out to T’s sister’s, and out to the school for his new p/t coaching job.

Also, it seems that $10 registration fee was for nothing. I booked him in for an essay writing workshop on a Thursday. He never made it, thanks to neighbourhood dramas, and having to wait for the police to take statements. And no, there aren’t anymore writing workshops scheduled.

Week 2
$20 on face wash plus eye drops
$4 for a headband
$15 on roadside hangi
$10 on Chinese
$28 at the zoo (I want to be a sea lion!)

The zoo was pretty freaking awesome, and T had been keen to go for awhile as last year he did some work there and wanted to see it up and functioning. We went on Monday – the first day of semester break – figuring it would be fairly quiet. Not so! Anklebiters were everywhere, and everyone seemed to either be pregnant or have at least two kids with them. I think there was also some sort of school trip on.

The only real disappointment I had was that the hippos were sleeping. We kept cruising back to check on them, but every time they were still in the same spot buried in a pool of mud. The tigers and lions were also napping in the heat – it really is spring!

Looking on the bright side

I caught up with a friend the other day. We mostly talked about me, I’m ashamed to say. And now that I think back on it, I think he might have needed to get something off his chest. Two or three times, he brought up the fact that I was really lucky to be “sorted” in the relationship department.

Recently I’ve been focusing on all the bad things about relationships and how hard they can be to maintain, so today I’m making a list of all the great things about them!

1. Someone to share the cooking with. I fed myself and myself only for over a year, and I don’t really know WHAT I was eating. I remember surviving on jam sandwiches for lunches (can’t touch the stuff now) as I was living on a shoestring. About $30 a week kept me fed – half of what I spend today, four years later. I assume I ate a lot of pasta and stirfry… and eventually learned to give up on looking for packages of meat small enough for one, and just buy larger packs and freeze half of it.

In Whakatane, I didn’t eat a lot – mainly because our days were so busy, I barely had time to eat my fruit, muesli bar and sandwiches. I did not cook once my entire time there. The first night I was nervous, the second I was anxious due to having a bad first day, so all I ate was a tiny salad. The other nights we either went out or cooked group dinners. Cooking for one was just not appealing.

2. Hugs and cuddles when you need them…! And someone to warm the bed.

3. Someone to look after you when you’re sick. Who wants to make their own soup, get up to turn the light off, have a shower, change the channel, etc? And, in cases like today, take me home, make me a saltwater mouthwash and conjure up lunch after I got THE most heinous mouthache after eating half a Moro Gold while grocery shopping. (No, I didn’t eat before paying. Shell was doing $1 chocolate bars when we stopped to gas up.)

4. In my case – someone to drive me around :D

5. Someone to bounce stuff off. I imagine it’d be pretty lonely living alone (or with crappy flatmates) and not having someone on hand to constantly  act as your sounding board on dramas and dilemmas of all kinds.

6. Someone who’ll do all the fun chores, like change lightbulbs and take out the bins.

7. And last but not least, someone to take turns at getting out of bed and retrieving late night snacks from the kitchen …

Being head of the house sucks

You get all the responsibility of, well EVERYTHING, with none of the fun.

Jessie‘s post on getting rent out of her roommate really got me inspired to write another post ragging on my flatmates. As if we haven’t had enough of those! (Still, looking back through my archives shows it’s been a while, so I don’t feel TOO bad…)

One of my flatmates pays his rent in cash. Don’t ask. Don’t even go there. He’s a friend of T’s, so I now relegate any rent chasing to him. I completely, absolutely loathe dealing with cash and do everything electronically. Keeping track of cash is nothing but a huge pain, and over time we’ve gone from receiving rent at the start of the week, to the end of the week. Initially he was pretty good with staying on tops of bills, but he’s fallen behind.

The other one at least pays every week, but never pays bills. He also never, ever cleans anything. I’ve bitched about this countless times before. Also, he’s the worst drunk ever. Gets angry, violent, and hungry. The kitchen is always a disaster zone the night after a boozy one…

Financially, it’s terrible for my bottom line,but I don’t have the time, energy or patience to chase money. Worst comes to worst, I will call it all in when it comes time to move.

And frankly, seeing as I’m the only one in this house with a paying job, it’s like getting blood out of a stone. The totally heinous one plans to look for a job again now that he’s had his eye surgery, but the odds of that are dire.

Money issues aside, nothing is safe! We are down to TWO spoons in this entire house. Cutlery disappears on an alarmingly regular basis. I was forced to bring a fork to uni to eat my yoghurt with the other week. If it weren’t for me, the oven would be coated in at least an inch of grease. The flatmates go through ridiculous amounts of sugar (don’t know how much goes in each coffee, but it must be a hell of a lot more than one) and don’t rinse their cups, resulting in an angry me every morning when I come out to find ants crawling all over the bench and unwashed dishes.

How to make a video application stand out?

nakedbus_newbusl_sHere’s how it is: I’m considering applying for this one-off travel assignment.

The gig involves travelling the whole of NZ with a partner in November, bussing, training, staying in hostels and camps.

We’d have to blog and tweet regularly, and file vlogs (video blogs) daily. Obviously, do interesting stuff and talk to/meet interesting people along the way.

Initially I dismissed the idea. I’ve never done any broadcast stuff, have no interest in it, don’t even know how to work a video camera. bungee-jump-thailandCrazy? But I can learn, right?

It would be such a great way to see the country! If I can come up with a standout application, I’m going to go for it. I’d have a month to spare, technically and so would the boy. T could come along with me, it’d be great experience and if it went well, it would be a huge step careerwise. Why the hell not?

… Soooo, to apply, I need to make a video application – in the style of how I’d expect to blog along the way – and write a proposal outlining where we’d go, who we’d speak to and what we’d do.

Ideas? Input? Brilliant suggestions? And NZers, what would you most like to see and do anywhere in the country? I will totally have a reward for anyone who helps me think up a winning application! You know you want to :D

Making it in the grownup world

The best thing I’ve read all week? Guy Kawasaki’s guide to navigating the real world.

Seeing as I’m about to truly step into that realm, I’m really taking it to heart!

Some of my favourites:Board-Meeting

In college, you’re supposed to bring problems to your teachers during office hours, and you share the experience of coming up with a solution. In the real world, you’re supposed to bring solutions to your boss in an email, in the hall, or in a five-minute conversation.

How to have a conversation – Generally, “What do you do?” unleashes a response that leads to a good conversation (hence the recommendation below). Generally, if you listen more than you talk, you will (ironically) be considered not only a good conversationalist but also smart.

What about freeloaders? (Those scum of the earth that don’t do anything for the group.) In school you can let them know how you truly feel. You can’t in the real world because bozos have a way of rising to the top of many organizations, and bozos seek revenge. The best solution is to bite your tongue, tolerate them, and try to never have them on the team again, but there’s little upside in criticizing them.

Incompetent coworkers also drag everyone else down. Unfortunately, you just gotta grit your teeth until they screw up big time or buckle under the pressure and leave of their own accord. And at least it lets everyone else bond in their mutual resentment for said incompetent – they all have something in common!

First, slowly say your telephone number once at the beginning of your message and again at the end… Second (and this applies to email too), always make progress. Never leave a voicemail or send an email that says, “Call me back, and I’ll tell you what time we can meet.” Just say, “Tuesday, 10:00 am, at your office.”

I am pretty sure I’ve left messages where I’ve completely (despite my intentions) forgotten to mention crucial info, such as my number. Taking the initiative to progress the conversation is also really important – I tend to defer to others, especially as I usually deal with people busier than me, and bend over backwards to organise arrangements that suit them. Which of course can result in a lot of running around in circles…

Also, a great post I stumbled across today on Jezebel dealt pretty comprehensively with how to go about finding out what you’re worth and how to negotiate. As you can tell, I’m starting to freak out about graduating!