Career Choices

Friday, October 29, 2010

Lately I’ve found myself running into a lot of people that I went to high school with – mostly while they’re working.

It’s weird to see people that you knew in their awkward teenage years holding down serious, grown up jobs. To see that the guy who always wanted to be a pilot now flies commercial airliners. That the weird and artsy girl is exhibiting her paintings in a well known gallery. That the class valedictorian has become a lawyer.

To find that the quiet girl who always sat at the back of the room is the person sticking a needle in my arm to take my blood. When that happens, you find yourself hoping to hell that the person with the sharp implement aimed at your veins was someone you were nice to, and not one of the people who became bitter and twisted about their high school experiences (like me).

I guess I feel kind of weird about seeing some of those people with full-on careers. Mainly because when we were at school, I was one of 10 students out of a couple of hundred that got high enough scores on their final exams to do anything they wanted. I could have studied anything I wanted at pretty much any university in Australia - only I never knew what I wanted to do. I’m 28 years old and I still have no idea. So I feel weird when I see these people because it feels like that freedom to do anything was wasted on me.

I like my job – I like that I get to do a wide variety of things – but when I see my sister graduate as a qualified physiotherapist and start working in a hospital, or my brother as head of a web development firm, I feel as though maybe I’m missing something by not having that same certainty in my life as they did when choosing a career.

That’s not to say that I didn’t explore a whole lot of options. I started three different university courses – but I never finished any of them. All I got out of it was a bunch of tuition bills that took me ages to pay off.

I started working while I studied, and found that I enjoyed work more than school. So that’s what I did. I sort of just fell into this job and stayed there. It pays the bills, and it’s not too bad – and with no idea what else I’d rather be doing, there’s been no incentive to think about doing anything else.

But sometimes I think of ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ and wonder - if I was one of the Golgafrinchans, would they have shipped me off with the hairdressers, phone sanitisers and insurance salesmen? Maybe I should have attempted to do something a bit more worthwhile. Or challenging. Or something. I don’t know.

And I guess that’s the problem really. I don’t really know what I should be doing. Or if I want to be doing anything at all.

Life was a hell of a lot easier when I’d only just left high school and was still attempting to find out what I wanted to do – back then the only classmates you’d run into were the ones who had to quit uni and get a job because they were pregnant.

Now they’re all lawyers and doctors and TV personalities. Being 28 is crap. Bring on my 40’s when statistically at least half of them should be divorced and miserable because their high power careers have eaten up all their time.

Did I mention I’m bitter and twisted?

Broken Dreams

Monday, October 25, 2010

For as long as I can remember, I have woken up every morning after having a very vivid and usually bizarre dream. Some dreams are more vivid and realistic than others, but it’s very rare for me to wake up without remembering a dream I was just having.

On occasion, like everyone does, I’ll have a nightmare or one of those dreams where your partner or a friend does something so irritating that after you wake up, you stay annoyed at them for the rest of the day. But mostly they’re just random events strung together in amusing and interesting ways.

Earlier in the year, I was taking some medication that made my dreams even more bizarre and vivid than normal. That was weird, because I kept dreaming that I was having conversations with friends and they were so vivid that later I would remember them as almost real, except for the fact that we would be talking about something totally crazy – like how the best bait to catch fish with is strawberries, or why I decided to paint my house with Clag.

Last week, I started taking a different medication, and as with the medication from before, its only side effect has been to affect my dreams - only in a completely different way to last time.

For the past week, I have had the longest, most mind-numbingly dull dreams I have ever had. I’m surprised that my brain can stay awake for them really. Last night, I had a dream that stretched on for what felt like an eternity in which I taught my sister how to play Canasta. In great detail.
The night before, I dreamt that I was typing an email. And it wasn’t even an interesting email! Just a ‘please find your files attached’ sort of thing.

Do you have any idea how long a day feels when before you even wake up you’re doing something incredibly dull and monotonous? Why can’t drugs have regular side effects on me, like headaches or nausea? Then I could just take some aspirin and be done with it.

You can’t take anything for boring dreams. You just have to suffer through them, and keep on playing canasta with your sister. Or dream an entire, dull day at work, right before waking up for an entire dull day at work.

It seems kind of weird to wish that your brain would be more crazy, but I do. Because well organised and logical dreaming is just weird. I get enough of that stuff during the day, I don’t need it at night too. Night-time is for floating through the air talking to a ladybug in a room that is your Lounge room but looks like your Nanna's kitchen.


Friday, October 22, 2010

So after a month of slogging away trying to get my photos done for this year’s Photo5 competition, I’m DONE.

This year I set myself the task of taking all 5 photos, no matter how uninspired I felt. I did pretty well with them I think – I only really had trouble with the confetti brief.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting for two weeks to see if I made the finals – although in all honesty I’m so happy with the photos I’ve ended up with, I wouldn’t mind at all if they don’t make it.

Now I guess it’s time to get back to normal life. I can’t spend the next two weeks obsessing over my photos the way I have for the last month. Well, I could give it a go, but I’m not sure I have the stamina for that kind of obsession. I’d never be able to become a stalker. I’m too easily distracted.

In fact, I’m so easily distracted that I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating on work at the moment. I think it’s a combination of the Photo5 distraction and the fact that I am just 8 weeks away from wonderful, glorious, magnificent holidays. I’m choosing to forget that this also means that Christmas is only 9 week away. I love Christmas, but I’m not quite prepared yet for the chaos that it brings.

Instead I’m focusing on the fact that for the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t have to work right up until Christmas Eve. I have the entire week off before Christmas, which never happens. I feel that it should always end up this way. For me, Christmas is a bigger signifier of the end of the year than New Year’s Eve. It’s symbolic of making it through another year, the way NYE is for so many other people. Plus it works out better as an end of year celebration, because there’s no such thing as a Christmas resolution - which means you don’t have to make a heap of resolutions that you will ultimately end up breaking anyway.

The only problem with Christmas as an end of year event is that when you work right up until Christmas Eve, it feels a lot like you’ve worked right through the entire year without a break. So naturally, having a week off work pre-Christmas is ideal. Or I imagine it will be. I’ll let you know in December.

Thank You GFC

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I haven’t had much time to write over the last week, as I’m smack bang in the middle of the deadline for the Photo5 competition. Every spare minute has been spent thinking how I’m going to manage to make confetti look interesting, or how I’m going to translate a sound into a still image.

One thing I do have time to share is this:

Just posting this photo is making me drool.

How did I ever live without this before!?! It’s the best chocolate bar I’ve ever had. It’s like a Snickers bar without the chunks. And it has only been brought into my life because of the falling American dollar.

Now I know that the GFC is supposed to be a bad thing. It’s supposed to be causing a lot of problems. But it has also allowed me to discover a world of food that might otherwise have been beyond my grasp.
I should have guessed that American candy would be the best I’ve ever had – years of stereotyping should have told me that. How could they not be the best when the number one ingredient in their chocolate bars is ‘sugar’? Not chocolate, like it is in Australia, but sugar, followed by chocolate (whose main ingredient is also sugar).

And now that I’ve discovered this incredible, wonderful chocolate bar, I have to try others. I have to work my way through that entire imported candy shelf until I’m so hyped up on sugar that I’m shaking like a dodgy Elvis impersonator.

Thank you, GFC. You're good for the taste buds (if bad for the hips).

Being Anti-Stalked

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I like Facebook. It keeps me amused when work is slow. It feeds my scrabble addiction. It lets my best friend show me what her new boyfriend is like before I meet him.

What I don’t like about it is the school yard politics of it all. The controversy of deleting or rejecting a ‘friend’. The things that people post that they seem to think the rest of the world can’t see. The light-weight stalking that can go on.

I think I am being anti Facebook stalked. There is a girl who is a Facebook ‘friend’ who has added every single one of my friends that she has met for more than 15 seconds to her friends list. Now she is sending them all public wall posts, trying to make plans to go out with them. Without me. On Facebook. Where I can see.

It’s like the opposite of Facebook stalking. Instead of stalking me, she’s stalking all my friends and making it very clear that she is specifically not stalking me. Which in a lot of ways is more irritating than actual stalking. Because it’s hurtful rather than obsessive.

To be honest, I think she’s gone slightly crazy. She dated a friend of mine, and because of that, she thought we were best mates. She would ring me all the time and make plans to catch up without her boyfriend - which seemed slightly odd at the time, but I put it down to her just wanting to get along with his friends.

Then for a little while, she suddenly stopped calling or texting me. I didn’t think much of it, until I found out later that she was angry at me because I didn’t invite her to be a bridesmaid in my wedding. Because apparently you’re supposed to invite people you hardly know to be a part of stuff like that.

Then she and my friend broke up. That’s when the weirdness started. She rang my phone at 2am one morning and with barely a hello, demanded to speak to KJ. She demanded that he go and get all of her stuff from our friend’s place, and harass him for some money. When KJ said he couldn’t, she demanded to know why, as though he owed her an explanation for not jumping when she asked him to do something.
The next day she called me again, and when I told her that I didn’t think the phone call was appropriate, I got accused of being a bad friend. She said a lot of really mean things, and then she told me that I should be on her side. As if I want to take sides in someone’s relationship breakup!

And now the Facebook weirdness is starting. I’d like to just de-friend her, but I’ve said it before - I’m no good with confrontation. I would feel guilty about it for months.

I can’t understand people who cling to petty arguments or hold grudges for juvenile reasons. I’ve come across a few people like that in the past couple of years and I just can’t deal with them. They’re high on drama all the time. I don’t like drama ever really. I might be a little tightly wound at times, but never dramatic. And I don’t have time for people who want to turn everything into a big production.
But I always come back to this problem where once they’re in my life I can’t just cut them out, because the guilt slowly eats away at me until I feel sick from it.
I’d like to just go on with life only knowing people who are so laid back they’re almost horizontal. Instead I keep coming across these people who make everything into what feels like the script of a bad sitcom.

I think my best bet is to employ a front man - like the corporate face of Torrygirl. Someone to have all the awkward and angry confrontations for me, so that I’m just kept in the dark. That way, I can be crazy person and guilt free.

The things I don't know

Friday, October 08, 2010

Sometimes I’m surprised by the things that I don't know. It’s interesting that you can live for 28 years and not know about simple things that other people consider common knowledge.

For instance:
I am a total caffeine addict. I can’t function after 9am unless I’ve had my morning coffee, and a 3pm coffee gets me through those last, slow two hours of work. It’s been like that since I was about 18. So if we do a little bit of nerdy maths, we can estimate that I’ve drunk roughly 7300 cups of coffee in the last 10 years. About half of those would have been instant coffee, the other half barista made coffee.

And yet, after 7300 cups of coffee, I only discovered the existence of this nifty little doo-dad today:

It plugs up the hole in your coffee cup lid so that you don’t spill coffee all over your car! How is it that in 10 years of solid coffee drinking, I’ve never come across this before? And why is it that every single person I’ve told about it alredy knew they existed?

It amazes me. It also makes me wonder what other things everyone else knows that I don’t.

Photo5 2010

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Daylight savings is kicking my ass at the moment. I feel as though if I rested my head down on my keyboard for just a second, I could be asleep instantly. I want my hour of sleep back!

I’m hard at work at the moment on my entries for this year’s Canon Photo5 contest. I’m determined to get all 5 briefs completed this year – last year I only completed 4 of them – but so far I’m not having much luck, and the deadline is in 10 days. I have a couple of ideas, and I’ve spent a pretty large chunk of time trying to get brief one completed without much luck.

The brief is to take a close-up photo using an eye dropper, but since I don’t have a real macro lens, I’m using an 85mm lens sticky-taped in reverse to the front of my 50mm lens to get really close to my subject, and it’s starting to give me a headache attempting it. Also, because I’m sort of going blind in my old age, it’s pretty hard to focus properly since I need to do it manually. What I wouldn’t give for a proper macro lens!

The biggest problem I’ve come across so far is that by the time I get home from work, there really isn’t enough daylight left to do much happy-snapping in the outdoors. I’ve pretty much only got this weekend left to take all 5 photos, and since I’m busy all day Saturday, it might be a bit of a struggle. I may have to give up on my ideas and just aim for getting any photo at all done.

Wish me luck!

Happy, Sad, Hungover & Healthy

Monday, October 04, 2010

This past weekend was both immensely fun and incredibly sad.

On Saturday night I had dinner with Liam (the fun part), because on Sunday he left the country to head to England for at least the next three years (the sad part).

We met for drinks first and I had a couple of beers – the kind which some crazy foreigner told me cut it as a longneck in other parts of the world. To me a longneck is a 750ml bottle that nowadays is mostly reserved for getting drunk as quickly as possible at weddings, not a 375ml bottle. But I’m getting off track.

As it usually goes with Liam, dinner involved a couple of bottles of wine, although I managed to stay coherent enough to remember the next day that we went to a Dumpling bar – where I ate some very odd things, like soup dumplings and chicken ribs.

Given the size of a chicken I wouldn’t have thought that a chicken rib would be much more than a tiny little bone with nothing on it, so I felt that it was important to order them to see what they were like. Oddly enough, the dish ended up being a plate of very small fried chicken pieces amidst 7 or 8 cupfuls of dried chillies. Very weird and random.

The soup dumplings (Shao-Long Bao) were one of the strangest things I’ve ever had. They were like regular dumplings, but instead of just the regular meat filling, they had soup in them too. I’m not sure how they got it to stay in there, but it was an incredibly strange yet awesome thing to eat – you pretty much had to eat them whole, and then they sort of exploded in this mass of intense flavours in your mouth. Bizarre but soooo good.

Dinners with Liam are always memorable ones, so the copious amounts of alcohol never seem to do any real harm to my memory of the nights events. The problem with this particular dinner was that KJ and I had committed ourselves to finally getting off our fat lazy butts and attempting some exercise on Sunday, and unfortunately a night out with Liam does not lend itself well to things like Sunday exercise.

Fortunately (or possibly unfortunately), the day turned out to be one of the nicest we’ve had in months. The sun was shining, but not too hot and the air was cool. I wore shorts for the first time in what feels like an eternity. I wore a t-shirt without having to put on a jumper! How could I turn down the chance to get out an about in a day that was so damn annoyingly gorgeous?! I’ve been pining for weather like this since May.

We had a couple of bikes for the weekend, so we thought we’d give them a bit of a go and see how they went. I didn’t realise it had been quite so long since I’d last been on a bike. I’m sure they say that riding a bike is something you never forget, but with my last bike ride about 10 year behind me and a killer hangover telling me to get off the bike and drag myself back to bed, it seemed possible that I may not remember how it all worked.

Luckily, after a slightly shaky start, and a scary moment in which I found myself going the fastest I’ve travelled in years without two tonnes of metal and several airbags to protect me, I managed to get going and all the enjoyment that I used to get out of riding came back to me. Within about 5 minutes I had lost sight of KJ, but that didn’t seems to matter because it was a nice day and it felt good to be outside.

We only rode about 3km, but considering how I feel about exercise, that wasn’t too bad. And I was wary of doing myself some kind of injury by pushing myself too far to start with.

I was pleased to find that while I could feel the burn from the work my muscles were doing, they were still up to the task. Sadly, I couldn’t quite say the same for my lungs, which have endured several years of smoking, quite a few more of passive smoking and a lot of lack of exercise since my last bike ride.

I think I’d pretty happily go riding again, although I’m not sure how I feel about riding with someone. I kind of like the solitude of it, and it feels different having someone else there. I’m not sure if it’s different good or different bad. At this stage it’s just different.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. It could end up like a lot of other things we do – something we keep meaning to get back to, but never quite manage to make the time for.