Katherine Hayton | 2015 June

June 2015

28 Jun / Imaginary gifts

It’s my birthday on Wednesday. Why shucks, thank you, you shouldn’t have.

I’m taking the day off work to celebrate, and then the two days after that because I have a few days leave up my sleeve and I want to. My darling is taking the whole week off, in an example of shockingly uncoordinated forward planning.

My darling and I decided this year to forgo gifts to each other. Instead, we would buy ourselves something if we felt like it, or save some money if that was our preference.

I decided to go for the first route, and now have in my possession a hand-crafted pair of cognac Atheist Boots in pull-up leather that go with anything because they are all shades of tan and brown at once.

Well, they go with things that go with tan and brown and that’s a lot.

Last year my darling and I weren’t so stingy. I bought him a leather jacket, with an actual delivery date of February this year rather than May last year because neither of us could find one that suited him to a tee, and he bought me a ring clock.

What is a ring clock you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. At the moment it’s nothing because it doesn’t exist. It’s a dream of something that will fit on my finger like a ring, and tell the time like a clock, and will come in silver with blue LED lighting.

It’s been the perfect gift so far as, due to its lack of arrival, it has never broken down once and it always looks as good as it did on its original web page on Indiegogo.

Yes I know. Will I ever learn my lesson about crowdfunding? The answer is quite obviously a resounding no, and I stand resolute.

There was a tiny shred of hope that the ring clock which didn’t quite manage to make an appearance in time for my last birthday would make it for this one. Their last announcement removed most of that hope, and the next two days will definitely get rid of it altogether.

Never mind. One day, unless the company goes under which is also another possibility, I will be the proud owner of a ring clock.

It may even fit. My hips, bust and bum aren’t the only things that have experienced a growth spurt over the past year. My ring-finger rings now only fit on my little finger, and my large mid-finger rings now fit on my ring fingers. And some rings just hang on my necklace until my fingers remember what size they’re meant to be.

Being imaginary, my ring clock fits perfectly on the finger it’s meant to. For the time being.

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27 Jun / Bathroom envy

Last night, I was staying at a hotel in the suburbs.

It was nothing special, I can’t even remember the name. Something like a Travelodge, without actually being one.

My room was so basic that it was just a bedroom. To access the bathroom facilities I had to leave my room, locking the door tightly behind me because it was that sort of place, then made my way down the concrete path to the bathroom.

It was the sort of place that spiders look to congregate in, then abandon, leaving behind only their webs as evidence they were ever there. Proving that spiders have higher standards than I do.

There were wads of sodden paper towelettes across the floor. In fact, there was more paper on the floor than there was in the paper holders. One was completely empty, and the other was down to the last couple of sheets.

Inside the toilet cubicle it was an even worse mess. Flushing is a fine addition to the toilets of our modern day. This miraculous advance was something previous users of the toilet cubicle were unimpressed by, to the point they had neglected to use it altogether.

I was staring at the resultant mess in distaste when I suddenly realised that the reason this bathroom was in such a state was because it was the men’s bathroom.

I experienced a mild flood of relief, followed by a mild flood of dismay. This was both better and worse than not feeling anything at all.

The dismay was caused by me looking down at myself and remembering that I now had a penis. I remembered this when I looked down because it was looking back up at me.

I couldn’t remember why I’d ever wanted a penis, or if I was transitioning into or out of manhood, but I knew that its presence meant I wasn’t getting out of that bathroom.

The really odd thing was that even though I’d just remembered something so disturbing to my natural view of myself, I didn’t even wake up. Nor did I go to the toilet.

That last one I’m grateful for. Imagine the mess otherwise.

Instead, I went back to my hotel room without a bathroom and waited for an appointment that didn’t happen because a car crashed into the side of the hotel and I had to run back home before the police arrived and found out that I’d been waiting there.

I’m still not clear on the hows and the whys. Especially the why I was naked.

When I eventually did wake up I checked and found that I definitely don’t have a penis. I kind of miss it though. I didn’t even get the chance to waggle it about or insert it into anything.

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This morning got off to a great start. I sprang out of bed, took one step forward, and then somehow ended up on my side on the bed going ‘Wha?’

My darling disputes this. He doesn’t think I took one step forward.

Vertigo strikes again.

So annoying when you think you’re getting better only to have a relapse to a worse condition that you started with. I also wish my anti-nausea tablets were anti-fall tablets.

I mean, my balance is not the best thing in the world to be starting with – I still can’t walk on my treadmill without holding both handles in a death grip – but I can usually stand. You know, in the same spot. With my eyes closed briefly.

No longer. Gravity exerts a much stronger pull than my puny balance can fight against.

I have discovered that it’s no longer safe to apply moisturisers. Not because of all the harsh chemicals inside them – oatmeal for example – but because to apply moisturiser I have to take off my glasses and close my eyes for a couple of seconds.

This is not possible. I went down like a… a… thing going down quickly.

I also managed to hit the side of my beautiful, beautiful face on my darling’s bedroom drawers. (So in essence this is really his fault.)

If I’d had my glasses on I may have needed to use my spares for a while but my face would’ve been protected in its downwards dive.

But you can’t apply moisturiser with glasses on. At least, I can’t.

So now I have an egg on my eyebrow and an enlarged cheekbone. On the bright side I saw a glimpse of what my face would look like if my parents had better bone structure. It makes my skin look smooth and taut.

Maybe I should take up boxing for a regular beauty treatment.

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25 Jun / Wasting Time

Guess what incredibly useful thing I spent over an hour working (and I use the word loosely) on tonight?

Yes, that’s right. I spent my time wisely creating a new scene break picture for an ebook that may or may not be upcoming.

With this sort of time investment being made regularly, I don’t understand why I haven’t written more books, or sold more of the ones I have.

Obviously there were a few other things I could’ve been working on tonight.

Editing the book I have in the works. Scoping out the plot and character lines for the next book I’m going to write. Researching emerging book markets and working out a strategy to get my own works out there and selling.

But that’s so pedestrian, isn’t it?

Instead, I think my time has been well spent designing something that may not even end up in a published work. With the added attraction that even if it does, it may never be noticed by anybody. Even if noticed there’s a good chance that it won’t be appreciated.

Yep. I feel like I put in the hard yards tonight, and it was nothing to do with procrastination, or self-entertainment.

And if you believe that, you’ll probably also believe that I’m not lying to myself.

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24 Jun / NPs

I was watching a comedy-ish show tonight when I heard a rather wonderful new phrase.

‘But you’re always saying how much you hate NPs,’ the husband said.

What are NPs, I wondered? A moment later I was answered.

NPs are New People. And I hate them too.

Admittedly, it’s not entirely their fault. Even I find it hard to attribute blame to everyone in the world who hasn’t been part of my life yet for not being part of my life.

Especially since there is room for so few.

But there are days when I see that I have to ring someone I haven’t spoken to before, or go down to reception to meet someone I haven’t met before, and all I want to do is go, ‘NO! NO NEW PEOPLE!’

I have met all the people that I need to meet in one lifetime. I feel like I should have a stamp on my forehead that makes this abundantly clear to all and sundry.

I’m not saying that I hate all people. I’m an introvert, not a monster.

I genuinely enjoy the company of some of the people that I already know. I enjoy them for minutes and minutes at a time. But once you have a few people in your life, there’s less and less need for more of them to come crowding in.

Allocation full. Please apply elsewhere.

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22 Jun / Spinning

For those of you who are worried that I’ve abandoned my core principal of only exercising if it’s necessary to maintain life, do not be alarmed. I have not taken up a spinning class.

No. I’m so clever that my body has taken up spinning without needing a class to perform it in. It’s managed to discover the secret of spinning when lying completely still.

Now it’s discovered the secret, I rather wish it would lose it again.

Vertigo, which for some reason is now pronounced VER-TIE-GO maybe to avoid comparisons with certain classic movies, has struck me again.

When meant to be tracking my good GPs fingers my eyes instead keep flickering, and when I’m meant to lying flat on my back instead the room says ‘Play with me Mummy’ and takes me dancing.

The first time I had vertigo was seven years ago. It was not pleasant, but I was living through it for the first time so I took a week off work and then just got on with it until it went away.

The second time I had vertigo was less than a year ago. It was not pleasant, but at least I could assume it was an illness that would only strike every six years or so. I took a couple of days off work and then got on with it.

The third time is now, and I feel deeply aggrieved that it’s arrived so hard on the heels of the last time. Ten months is not long enough. There’s a whiff of unfairness about it all.

Granted, living in a first world minority country where I have paid sick leave type of unfairness, but unfairness for all that.

I’m now holding on until I can have my next dose of ‘unpronounceable, unremembered, and I can’t be bothered to look it up’ anti-nausea tablets. Unfortunately, they only last for about four hours so by the time I’m meant to be lying fast asleep in bed I think I’ll probably be dancing again.

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21 Jun / 3 ingredients

I learned an important lesson today.

If you’re going to make a dozen scones using a new recipe that calls for only three ingredients, you should probably make sure they’re in your pantry.

I do often improvise in recipes, but it’s usually after having tried them straight at least once. And the recipes usually have a few more things tossed in there.

To be fair to me though, what really is the difference between greek yoghurt and lite vanilla yoghurt? They’re both yoghurt. They both have… whatever is in yoghurt in them.

I mixed together the two and a quarter cups of flour. It was meant to be two and a half but I was at the bottom of the bag and I couldn’t be bothered opening a new one and covering myself and the bench in that flour that’s always caught in the top and goes flying everywhere when you pull it apart. I would’ve done it if I was a cup short, but a quarter. Who’d even notice?

Anyway, that’s an easy adjustment. By putting in less cheese and less yoghurt it should have balanced out okay.

I’ve just remembered that I did also forget to put the extra half cup of cheese on the top of the scones after I dropped them onto the baking tray, but surely that didn’t cause any trouble. It was just a topping.

After ten minutes the lovely smell of baking vanilla came wafting out of the kitchen.

The scones came out of the oven, and it was quite obvious that there was something wrong.

They were far too white for one thing, and far too flat for another. I tried putting them back into the oven, but although that should have cured the far too white aspect, it didn’t really.

When I sliced them open they were gluey. I added butter, which is my instant cure-all for anything, but there was just no fixing the problem by that stage.

I had planned to store half of them in the freezer so I could pull them out progressively during the week for my lunch. After a taste test it was clear that plan was not going to go ahead. I want to look forward to lunch.

Instead my darling and I ate them all. Not all at once, but certainly all today.

Failure tastes very much like vanilla cheese scone dough.

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20 Jun / Virtual Reality

As though reality wasn’t trouble enough to be getting on with, virtual reality has now touched down in my household.

I looked into purchasing a fancy Samsung VR headset earlier in the year, and was less put off by the fancy pricetag than I was at the fact I’d need to upgrade my phone to a newer model. Something I’d done late last year, and was hoping to put off for another full year at least.

While I do love the newest gadgets, when I actually use them (and I’m talking about more than a few weeks here) transferring the information from one to another before wiping the memory clean and sending it off to be recycled and sold on to folks that I hope don’t know how to hack wiped information from a phone, makes the whole process a bit too I-can’t-be-bothered for my tastes.

So I hummed and hawed and decided to let inaction make my decision for me. I was then distracted by a new robot vacuum cleaner that may actually vacuum as opposed to sweep, and the thought of VR dropped away.

Until a few weeks ago when I was spending my time looking up things on TradeMe I can’t afford to buy, and stumbled across Cardboard.

Excellent. Finally a gadget that only costs the amount of use I’m likely to get out of it.

I actually plugged for the more expensive model, and laid down a cool $7.80 on the VR headset which came equipped with an NFC tag.

When it arrived yesterday I remembered that I did have a whole lot of unused NFC tags that I could’ve used instead of paying the extra dollar, but I’d forgotten about them because they were so 2013.

This gadget is so cool that it doesn’t even arrive with instructions for putting it together. No. It arrives with an arrangement of slots that are labelled with numbers.

A word of advice for anyone planning on assembling one of these headsets. Look at the internet. See what they should look like. Even look up a video of someone putting one together.

That’ll save you time and energy when you realise that three of the slots are labelled 6. Not to mention demonstrating which way up to put the nosepiece. Or when to apply the rubber band. And even what the hell those magnets are for.

Best of all it will quickly lead you to the conclusion that just because some of the pieces of cardboard are bent, does not mean they’re meant to be assembled with a bend in those places.

Even with these impediments it only took me an episode of Hannibal to put the whole thing together and then I was completely entranced. I loaded up the cardboard app, put the VR headset to my face, and commenced watching an exciting tale about a mouse, a hat, and the forces of nature.

It was all going quite well, and then an exciting 3D message came up on screen. I couldn’t decipher it, so I had to take the phone out of the headset.

Unfortunately, Cardboard has stopped.


Never mind. I left it for a while and then tried again. I loaded up a rollercoaster app this time. Apparently it’s just like being there.

This turned out to be quite true. Except, unlike when you’re actually on a rollercoaster, when you’re fed up with feeling out of control and sick you can just abandon it by taking the VR headset away from your head. Even better, you can then hand it to your darling and let him take on the rest of the rollercoaster ride, complete with sound effects and unstable body motions.

I feel like I’ve got my $7.80 worth already.

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This morning I brought up my internet banking on the screen and typed in my customer number and password. When I looked up at the screen only half of my customer number had gone into the box before the screen froze.

Muttering some joyful words under my breath I closed down the internet and opened it again. I brought up my online banking login page.

This time I froze.

What’s my customer number?

When it was assigned to me twenty or more years ago it was randomly assigned. Very safe. Unless you happened to open my mail by accident. Or on purpose.

Randomly assigned.

That means that when I forget the number they provided two decades ago I have no source of reference to remind myself what it is.

It starts with a four. That much I’m sure of. It has six numbers total. Or seven. There’s a zero in there. A couple of even numbers, or odd numbers, and it ends with an eight or a six.

I typed in a few different combinations. None of them worked. I tried a few more on my phone in case they were counting and I was going to be locked out until I phoned up the bank on their 0800 number.

Phoning is my least favourite thing which is why I have internet banking instead. Except I didn’t.

After the sixth combination fail I started to wonder if, in all the excitement, I’d actually picked the correct customer number but was using the wrong password.

I felt confident that the password was correct. But then, I’d felt confident my customer number was too easy to ever forget and look where that had got me.

There was a chance that it was written down at home in the diary that I’d bought myself in 1998 because it looked like the type of diary an efficient office worker should own.

I’d kept it all these years because it definitely has some other codewords in there which I hardly ever need, but which if I forgot my life would ground to a halt until I grew the balls to phone someone.

Luckily, before I got to the point that I needed to check, I sat down at my home computer, opened up the online banking login page, and logged in with my automatic recall fingers.

Phew. Close call. I still don’t have any more money than I would have if I’d managed to check my accounts this morning, but for now just being able to check feels pretty good.

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