Katherine Hayton | 2014 November
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November 2014

This morning I got dressed up in my fancy clothes, found out my fascinator was now called a hatinator on account of it having a brim, and set off to work in a reasonable mood.

A couple of hours later I was fighting tears in a meeting room while the leadership team learned that we’re losing the best boss we’ve ever had.

And it was a good four hours before we could reasonably break out the strawberries and bubbly for cup day.

The day was rather on the skids from that point on. The restructure that we’ve all been trying to ignore for months on end has finally started to bite.

Like most people, I’ve been down this road before. There’s the restructures that you barely noticed have happened; the ones that leave swathes of destruction in their wake; and the ones that you wake up hoping that a depression ain’t about to hit New Zealand because you need a bouncy job market to find new employment in.

Of course now I’m a famous writer – cough, cough – I needn’t worry about these things (snigger.)

And yes we’re all told that change is good, and to embrace it, but that’s hard when it’s spiky all over and has razor sharp teeth.

But those berries were good when we finally got around to them. Even if I drew a loser non-placing winner in the sweepstakes it’s still Cup Day and there are things that demand to be celebrated.

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10 Nov / #Iamnotadisease

I’ve been having an amusing time over the past hour looking through people’s twitter descriptions. Lots of occupations, even more hobbies, a whole city worth of twitter spouses and children, and a collection of instantly favourite phrases.

What I don’t get is the diseases.

I have my illnesses, chronic and acute, physical and mental, but I tend to think of them as annoyances that you just get on with (after the suitable complaint period.) I’m giving a free pass to the cancer survivors who then go on to list the loves of their lives; I count that as perspective.

There’s one twitterer I came across whose description comprised of one acute physical disease, one chronic physical disease (a very popular book-of-the-month type at that) and then one mental illness. That was it.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. How can a person define everything about themself in such terms? I could get on board with celebrating some aspects maybe; the community spirit of lice and their incredible feats of reproduction say, or the way the little patch of eczema near my elbow makes the rest of my skin look unblemished. But the entirety of your description?

It reminded me of a tweet that I saw earlier in the year. A hashtag was viralling around the place gaining supporters, as they do. It was nice and empowering and non-threatening all at the same time. This tweet was mixed up in the middle of it. I thought it was irony. Now I’m not so sure.

“As an OCD sufferer #Iamnotmymentalillness”

Yeah. Good on you love.

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Tonight on Olive Kitteridge there was reference made to how Chris may be a complicated boy but at least he’s never bludgeoned his girlfriend to death. No, it’s no use explaining, you should watch it if you’re not already.

Anyway that got my darling and I onto the subject of how nice it was that neither of us had ever bludgeoned each other to death.

I explained that even if I felt the need to, my arm is particularly sore this weekend so I wouldn’t have the strength. My darling said he had the strength to do it, but only ’cause it’s easier to bludgeon girls.

I hastened to point out that we would have to be talking about a little girl – like five or six – and who wants to be the town pariah?

It all petered out a bit after that. I considered that maybe I could try with my left arm – not much aim but far more strength – and my darling just seemed to stop thinking altogether.

If they do find my battered body anytime in the next week do me a favour and pass this onto police.

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08 Nov / Cup Day Dress-up

It’s only a couple more days until Cup Day. I’m not foolish enough to actually go to the races and be thrown up on by young girls who are wearing little more than belts and high heels, but I always reserve the right to dress up as though I am.

Saves a lot on the dry-cleaning.

Evil clothing elves have even afforded me a genuine reason to purchase a brand new dress for the occasion rather than just making do. There’s been a little bit of that going on lately – it’s far more difficult to get inspired to try to lose my sudden-change-of-medication weight pile-on when I’m getting a new wardrobe out of the deal.

A talented woman at work has even fashioned a fascinator for me. It matches beautifully to my shoes and my handbag, which is lucky because my dress came from a completely different colour spectrum. Can’t have everything going together though, can you? Or is that in this season? Who can keep track?

There’ll be strawberries and bubbles for breakfast on Tuesday. The bubbles in question will be of the non-alcoholic variety, but the strawberries will be the real thing. And then I believe later on in the day there might be something else happening. Aside from the best-dressed competitions I mean. What is that again..?

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07 Nov / Expired food

Our office held an expired food party today. Yeah we’re cheap, what’s it to ya?

I happily poured out some Coke Zero safe in the knowledge that nothing can ever make Coke taste bad. I’ve seen You-tube videos where it melts coins. Time isn’t any match to that power.

It turns out that my knowledge was belief, and faulty at that. It was flat. I can handle that – sometimes I even prefer it. It wasn’t sweet. Say what?

Yeah, you heard me right. The Coke Zero wasn’t sweet any longer. The vast array of chemical symbols that adorn the fine print of the ingredient list have no staying power. A mere year after the best before date and it was almost undrinkable. I could only manage three glasses. Ugh.

The chips fared a lot better. I thought at first the Doritos had gone off as well, but it turned out they were Salsa flavoured and were meant to taste like that. Why would anyone buy Salsa when they could buy cheese? I didn’t even know you could buy a flavour of Dorito that didn’t include cheese. Maybe they were a limited edition?

I only realised when I reached home that I’d forgotten my cans of cream. Again. They only expired in July and September respectively so I’m confident that they’re still good to go. I sprayed a couple of handfuls into my mouth the other day and I haven’t died so I’m backing myself here.

There is a weird sense of urgency to consume it as soon as possible. But I hope it can last the weekend. It’s made it this far.

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The night before last there was a very large explosion from somewhere deep in our suburb. Louder than a car backfire, louder than a shotgun blast. I cringed on the sofa and thought it may be a good time to go to bed early. My darling bounced outside with joy to see what the hell had caused it.

I’m not taking him to live in a war zone.

He met a fair share of the neighbourhood while he was out there. They formed in small gaggles and had a good sniff of the night air to try to work out what had happened. Some of them, two women, set off further up the street to see if they could work out something more from the next corner.

I continued to tremble on the sofa.

He continued to talk outside for a half hour. He was invited to a party on Saturday night. My darling hasn’t been invited to a party he wants to attend for at least ten years. He still hasn’t. Saturday night we have a burning appointment with the TV.

Meanwhile, I got over my fright enough to sit up straight and start to search for information on the internet. There’s a surprising lack of information on the internet about explosions in Christchurch. Surprising lack.

When he came back inside the neighbours had jointly agreed that the noise was probably down to a kid setting off a firecracker in a drum.

Fireworks. Building Better Communities Together.

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The phone is ringing off the hook tonight. Three not interesteds so far, and a hang-up before the long-distance connection to India could fully traverse the distance.

If our phone was any smarter or younger we could always just set it to mute in the evenings because it’s never going to be anyone we want to talk to. I don’t want to buy life insurance, sell my home, donate to dying kiddies, or change my electricity company. Believe me folks, if I wanted to do any of these things I would phone you.

Or, more likely, I would find a webpage and sort it out for myself. I’m not entrusting anything to the sorts of people who think that my evenings recovering from the day by lolling on the sofa are a fine opportunity for them to practice sales techniques.

If I hadn’t been raised any better I would tell all you telephony people to go away.

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04 Nov / Go Away.

Once, when I was in standard two, I was severely remonstrated by a teacher for telling another girl to go away. It hadn’t seemed like such a bad thing at the time. I was eight years old, I was planning a secret surprise with my friend, and we didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag.

I was called out in front of the class, and had to stand there while my teacher listed to all of my peers my many flaws. I also wasn’t allowed to talk to my friend for the rest of the week. I got the message; this was the worst thing that you could say to another human being.

Worse than a b***h, worse than a b*****d, worse than calling the slow kid in the class a r****d.

For skipping school you got the strap; for pushing someone into the sharp edge of the jungle gym you got a talking to, and then the strap. Quick and easy and over in less than a minute. But for daring to tell someone else in the school yard to go away when you didn’t want to play with them – that earned you a week long punishment.

Corporal punishment has faded into the past since then; for all I know everything now involves week long psychological torture rather than a short, sharp assault by a full-grown adult on a small child. Or you get a “time-out” whatever that new-age stuff means.

Never mind. Back to the point.

I still have days where I’m busy or I’m grumpy or I just don’t want to be dealing with you lot of humans today thank you very much. I still have days where I want to tell everybody on earth to sod off to another piece of the planet and don’t make any noise while you’re at it.

And yet I would still rather bite through my lower lip rather than just tell you politely to GO AWAY.

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03 Nov / Going out

We’re going out tonight. Bill Bailey’s Limboland is on in Christchurch, and we intend to be there seated when he walks out on stage.

It’s very stressful. I haven’t been able to change out of my work clothes into my home clothes. My home clothes being the comfy ones with all the food stains on them. It would be irresponsible to change clothing when I’d just have to change back in a few hours. It would be a waste, and we don’t put no truck with waste in these here parts.

There’s also a level of stress about the timing of the car-ride there. It’s a difficult route to work out, you know. The venue is next door to where we both work. Next door. There’s a gate we have to go through. Or, even more stressful, rather than parking at the office we could park at the venue and not walk through the gate.

Geez. Bill better be on good form tonight to make up for all this worry. And he’d better not go on too late. Don’t get me started on our plans if goes on too late.

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