Katherine Hayton | BLOG

When I was on holiday (ah sweet holiday where did you go?) I started a mammoth task in the front room. Over the past year it’s steadily become a giant wardrobe for my ever-burgeoning selection of clothing in multiple sizes due to weight changes.

From being a giant wardrobe it then started to resemble a teenager’s bedroom.

I had clothing spread across the sofa. I had clothing in piles on the floor. I even had a few items of clothing in my spare wardrobe, but it was outnumbered there by food and electronic equipment, because what else is a wardrobe for?

I’ve tried to keep pretending that it’s all fine, it’s not out of control, but this lie has become harder and harder to tell myself.

Finally, I gave in and confronted the fact that I needed to organise the front room. And since most of the stuff was mine, this was going to be a solo journey.

I created more mess, briefly, as I sorted out all of my belongings into groups. Tops, bottoms, dresses/jumpsuits, undergarments, overgarments.

Once everything was in piles I took a little break, because that was a major effort, and then started on the next part of the experiment, which was seeing how I could store everything in its separate piles inside of the wardrobe.

I got most of the way through this new journey of discovery, when I discovered something rather unhappily against my plans.

The wardrobe I’m referring to is a mobile wardrobe. Or, to give it another name, a cheap piece of crap.

It’s basically an assembly of thin metal pipes that slot into (or hammer into if you want to be closer to the truth) little plastic joiny bits that hold it all together in a framework that resembles shelves and hanger space.

At one point there was also a cloth cover which zipped up along the front so I didn’t need to see the mess that was forming inside.

Perhaps I should have put the word cloth in “” because cloth doesn’t usually disintegrate in sunlight so that you can vacuum it up as powder. Powder with a couple of long zips in it.

The naked bones of the wardrobe looked cooler in a bohemian dream type of way, so I never bothered to try to find something else to take its place.

However, it’s possible that the “cloth” served another purpose in that it lent stability to the overall structure. Without it the entire wardrobe started to lean in different directions. After a time the plastic jointy bits started to crack where the pressure was now applied unevenly.

So, getting back to the major cleanup, I started to pile my piles into the shelf space that remained around the shelf space already reserved for electronic bits that may come in handy one day. I was down to my last two piles when there was a loud crack and the wardrobe started to lean to one side.

Well, it had been leaning to that same side for a while now, but it had some serious intent behind the lean now. It was leaning in a pay attention to me type of way.

I paid it attention by stopping what I was doing and announcing that I couldn’t complete the clean-up until I had purchased a new wardrobe.

There was no real incentive for me to buy a new wardrobe. I’m trying to save money at the moment, and the room looked a little bit cleaner and easier to navigate as it was. There was no hurry.

Monday night there was a large cracking sound and a thump. My darling jumped off the couch to investigate. I followed more slowly as I had a good idea of what we were going to find.

The purchase of a new wardrobe moved up my to-do list.

So after scanning the pages of Trade Me for hours, I now have a new wardrobe. It’s made of a lot of cubes that I assembled this morning, then disassembled when I was halfway through, then assembled once more in a structure that made a bit more sense.

I’ve tried to pour the entire room into this little collection of cubes, and I’m now most of the way there.

I’m ignoring for the time being the fact that the wires and plastic joiny bits remind me very strongly of the start of another piece of furniture that I once owned.

I’m sure it will all be fine.

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It’s been a while since I performed the two core duties that the majority of our unit performs.

When I was performing these duties, I kicked arse. Or, if you’re a citizen of the United States of America, I kicked ass. Now I only have the memory of kicking arse (ass).

When asked specific questions, about a specific situation, I can usually stall for long enough by typing in numbers on a computer screen to bring up views that I probably don’t need in order to internally trawl my memory for the few cells that contain information relevant to the problem at hand.

There is nothing that a few brain cells with a tad of memory can’t fake to reliably impress upon someone that the situation they’re striking is nothing new, we’ve been down this track before, and don’t worry we can solve it.

Sometimes these things are even coincidentally true.

However, when new young minds are entrusted to my care and long hours are to be filled with the knowledge of how to do their job…

I’m not sure I can show my face again tomorrow.

A brief memory filtered through to my subconscious about three minutes into the training session that there was a reason I’d run full tilt screaming away from training as a career.

It wasn’t the humans, although they’re a definite drawback.

It wasn’t the hours of preparation, because lets face it who can be bothered with preparation when winging it will do.

No, it was the intense sensation of loneliness you can feel when all eyes in the room are on you and you’re somehow expected to know stuff.

Hey, I know stuff. I don’t need to be cross examined about it every day by some wannabes, okay?

Thank goodness that tomorrow I’m going back to my good old ‘Oh yes dear, don’t worry, we’ve all had THAT error message before.’

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27 May / The Dentist

The last time I visited a dentist he examined my teeth (well, duh) and announced that there wasn’t a lot of room for my growing wisdom teeth, and I should probably have those out the next time I visited.

That was twenty three years ago.

In my defence, it turns out that there was almost enough room for my wisdom teeth. Almost.

My perfectly straight bottom teeth now have a slight snaggle to them, but that sort of stuff just adds character. Right?

Lucky for me I grew up in a suburb that embraced fluoridated water, and I haven’t had any problems that necessitated a visit before now.

Throughout all the visits of my young years the worst thing that ever happened was that I received one small filling. And when I say small, I mean the dentist didn’t even offer me pain relief because it was over before I even knew it was happening.

Usually I wouldn’t bring up dentists, because I don’t think about them that often. Absence has not made the heart grow fonder. But tonight dentists are on my mind.

My tooth is very sore.

That sounds a bit weak compared to what I’m experiencing.

Very, very sore. Indeed

My tongue keeps going for an exploratory journey to see what’s happening in sore toothland, and then snapping back to the front when it finds out that it’s still a pain swamp back there.

The edge of my tooth is so rough that I’ve even started to consider that I may have broken it somehow. Between the soft cheese and the chicken I’m not sure what it found to break itself on, but I’m not thrilled at the direction my mouth is going.

There is a dentist on the corner. I always cross the street just before I have to walk past it because superstition.

Another day or two and I may just have to book myself a visit.

No more than a month or two, anyway.

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26 May / What holiday?

Last year I experienced the best holiday I’ve ever had the pleasure to laze my way through.

There was sun and sand. There was good company and good food. There was no work and plenty of play.

If I close my eyes now I can still picture key moments from that holiday. I can feel the sun on my shoulders as I read on a lounger after taking a dip in the pool. I can feel my teeth saying NO and my belly saying YES and them fighting it out over a bowl of ice cream. I can remember walking in the sand in my bare feet, and the feel of my rough skin being worn smoother and smoother each day.

Last week I was on holiday. I can’t even remember what we did.

There was a trip to Hanmer Springs and a dip in the hot pools, but aside from that and an excellent Butter Chicken and Naan Bread I can’t pinpoint a single moment.

Where do they go?

I scrimp and save my holidays, and when it comes to the glorious days when I spend them wildly, I can’t even recall what I paid them out for.

I’d say it was like gambling, if I ever spent money on gambling and could therefore personally relate the two experiences together in a believable way.

I’m not complaining, and I’m certainly not forsaking any future holidays in some gesture of despair, but wouldn’t it be good if holidays could be ordered over the internet (I mean metaphorically; I am aware you can book and pay for holidays over the internet) that catered exactly to your needs?

I need as least three days of being so relaxed that I can’t tell where the couch ends and I begin. I want a pool so enticing that I won’t get out even when my fingers pucker up like a young dog’s asshole. I’ll pay extra for vanilla ice cream that’s melted just enough to let your spoon run through it with no resistance.

Oh, and I’ll take eight pounds of weight gain that I’m too happy to care about, thanks.

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24 May / One year older

Today is my darling’s birthday. He’s one year older.

He’s also pretty sanguine about the whole thing because he’s had a week off to prepare himself. I also took a week off work, purely in support of him.

He’s returning the favour when I turn a year older in a month and a bit. He’s taking a week off in support of my birthday. It’s a bit annoying really, because I’m only taking 3 days off, but who am I to complain? He’s so much older than me he needs the extra time off work.

In honour of his birthday month this year (and yes, that’s a real thing if you’re a white privileged male in the minority world with too much time on your hands) I’ve got him…

Absolutely nothing.

Honestly, it’s what he asked for and the fact that I was only too willing to oblige was purely to do with supporting him, not because I’m a cheapskate who’s about to take an unpaid break from work.

These things aren’t even close to being related.

At the back of my mind all day long I have harboured a slight worry though. You know those people who say ‘Don’t throw me a birthday party, I couldn’t stand it if you made a fuss,’ and then when you don’t they get all upset?

Well, he’s not of those (I’m still with him) but there was the concern that when he said ‘Don’t buy me a present,’ he actually meant, ‘Don’t buy me a large present,’ and he was going to expect something nice and thoughtful and heartfelt, but cheap.

I am nothing if I am not a person who takes things literally.

There is no present. None. Nada.

I baked some chocolate cupcakes and put far too much butter icing on top of them. I gave him a headrub when he asked for one. I even did the dishes after baking because he likes a clean bench.

This is my present.

Happy birthday, and best wishes for the next year. I’ll have half those cupcakes too, thank you very much.

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21 May / Celebrations

Tonight I’m celebrating being in the final scene of the final chapter of the first draft of my new novel. Concurrently, I’m also watching the final of Survivor.

I feel these two things go together, though I’m reluctant to tease that simile out any more in case it all falls apart.

What I definitely feel like I need is some Champagne. Isn’t that what you’re meant to celebrate these small positive life experiences with? Mmmmmmmm Champagne.

Unfortunately, a life of debauchery lived in my teens and twenties has put that option off the table.

I’d substitute it with the next best thing, fizzy grape juice, but there are currently two drawbacks.

One: I don’t have any fizzy grape juice in the house, and

Two: Even if I did it has a whole lot of sugar in it and if I’m throwing around sugar calories I’m imbibing them in raspberry licorice or icecream, thank you very much.

I guess I’m stuck with my default position, sugar-free chocolate.

I’m quite amazed that I’ve managed to make chocolate, one of my all-time favourite food groups, sound like a plate of vegetables. Simply by the virtue of wanting something more.

I’m also quite amazed that I’ve managed to spend the last twenty minutes typing this out, rather than going ahead and finishing my first draft.

Oh man. There are so many themes of regret, and parallels between writing and food, and overarching story lines playing themselves out in these few paragraphs.

I could make this into a full-blown story about adult regrets and lost opportunities, but then I’d just start writing something else in order to avoid finishing the first draft.

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20 May / Lost forever

A day ago we returned from our big holiday in Hanmer Springs. The trip was an exhausting hour and a half drive, so in order to make sure we made it home before nightfall my darling insisted that we leave our unit by eight o’clock.

In the morning.

We couldn’t even check-out because the office wasn’t open. It opens on the dot of eight am, but that would’ve meant staying in their beautiful large furnished apartment for a good ten minutes longer.

Well. Not having that sort of restriction on our holiday, are we?

So we locked our front door key into the apartment, and hoped that they understood our need to scurry away before daybreak really got broken.

I don’t necessarily understand myself, but you don’t get to twenty years of unmarried bliss without blindly accepting your partner’s foibles.

It’s been a number of years since we last paid a visit to Hanmer. We used to go at least once a year, at least it seems that way now, but counting back we both worked out that we haven’t been since the earthquakes, which mean about five years or so.

Still, much of the place is the same. Jolly Jack’s is empty at the moment, which was a bit of a shock, but it’s been through changes of hand in the past without harm.

The fish ‘n’ chip shop we remember down the side lane has also changed hands and cuisine, but we weren’t in the mood for fast food anyway so it didn’t bother us none.

Driving back to Christchurch however, there were a few things that made me a bit sad.

The hill next to Balmoral Forest, where your stomach always used to end up lodged somewhere in your lower jaw, has been flattened out to a shadow of its former self.

The bungy jump out over the old bridge doesn’t even seem to be in operation anymore. If it is, then the signage around it is sadly lacking.

And worst of all is the travesty that is Frog Rock.

That was always the landmark that used to tell us we were truly on the road to or from Hanmer. The giant old rock worn by years of wind into a sculpted frog squatting on a hill; leaning out over the road as thought it were keeping watch.

I remember when some department or other confirmed it was necessary to blow it to smithereens in order to avoid it deciding to part company with the hill one day, and potentially smashing some poor unfortunates passing on the road beneath.

I’m sure it was in everyone’s best interests, I certainly have no wish to be squashed to death in the car by a giant frog, but couldn’t something else be done? Maybe just carve out another bend in the road?

So now we pass the old shed proudly proclaiming FROG ROCK and there’s not a frog in sight.

The only joy comes from imagining carful after carful of people speeding past, squinting and trying to make out a natural frog sculpture that’s no longer there.

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17 May / Join the Cartel

Today I’ve had my new book Skeletal approved for launch on Story Cartel. So I launched it.

For the next three weeks it’ll be available for free download in formats for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and whatever knock-off brand of e-reader you’ve managed to get your hands on. Or their tablet app equivalents.

Free download. What could be better than that?

Well, the better bit is that once you’ve read my wonderful haunting novel that’s both tough and delicate, you get to toss your opinion of it about willy-nilly.

In fact if you pop a review on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks (or another digital bookstore that takes your fancy) you will earn entry into a draw for a whole lot of excellent monthly prizes which I can’t be bothered to list here but you can find on the Story Cartel website.

Interested? Check out the FAQs here then sign up and download your free copy of my book here.

Or, you could help out a starving artist and purchase a copy. Up to you. Even if you do pay for it you can still feel free to toss around your opinion of it. You may find people will pay it even more attention.

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